1. Washington State Supreme Court Justice James Johnson announced yesterday that he's retiring due to ill health.
Johnson, a hardline pro-property rights justice, was perhaps the most conservative member of the Court; he was the lone dissent against court overseeing K-12 funding in the McCleary decision, he was for the two-thirds rule to raise taxes (which was overturned 6-3), and back in 2006, when the court ruled against gay marriage, he piled on with a separate opinion arguing that gays weren't being discriminated against because they too could marry someone of the opposite sex.
Johnson says he is leaving by April 30.
There are two years left in Johnson's six-year term and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee is entitled to fill the vacancy, though that person could only serve through early December. Inslee's appointee could also choose to run. There will be an August 5 primary if more than two people run. If only two people run, the election will be in November.
Three incumbent justices—Mary Fairhurst, Charles Johnson and Debra Stephens—are up for reelection this year.
2. One-time mayoral candidate, anti-tunnel (pro-viaduct rebuild) activist, and serial initiative proponent Elizabeth Campbell (who filed a failed 2011 initiative to recall then-City Council member Richard Conlin), has filed an ethics complaint against Conlin's replacement, Socialist Alternative and $15 minimum wage champion Kshama Sawant.
Campbell's complaint, filed with the city's ethics department, says the blurry lines between the $15 Now campaign, the Socialist Alternative Party and Sawant's council office violate the prohibition of using public resources to campaign. (The Socialist Alternative party is part of an effort to put a $15 minimum wage proposal on the ballot.)
We have a call in to Seattle Ethics and Elections Director Wayne Barnett.
We understand Campbell's read—ha, here's a picture of the waiting room table in Sawant's office ...
... but, for starters, the $15 Now group has not put an official measure on the ballot, so there's nothing limiting Sawant from talking about raising the minimum wage. And Sawant is certainly free to promote any political party she wants.
Additionally, the issue itself is before the council as a policy matter and her advocacy seems to fit in to the bounds of the discussion.
3. Speaking of the $15 minimum wage debate: Music entrepreneur (the Lumineers) and Capitol Hill and Belltown bar and restaurant owner David Meinert, a member of the mayor's task force on the minimum wage, tells Fizz he doesn't think there will be any wage increase deal coming from the task force that doesn't include what the business contingent on the task force (half the people in the room) call "total compensation."
Specifically, Meinert said tips (for waiters) and commission (for retail workers) would be part of any proposal. "I don't see any deal happening that doesn't include tips and commission as direct compensation," Meinert said.
Sawant released her own proposal yesterday: No "total compensation" footnotes; a phase in for small business and social service non-profits (starting at $11 now and increasing to $15 over three years); and an immediate $15 minimum wage at all other businesses.
Erica has a call in to Sawant to get Sawant's definition of a small business.
4. Erica has a report on yesterday's big 9-0 city council vote to let ride share companies such as UberX, Lyft, and Sidecar into the market with a 150 cap per company on the number of drivers on the road at any given time. The compromise—the rideshare companies didn't want any caps, the taxi companies were suspect of the whole unregulated model—also tightens insurance and training requirements on rideshare companies while increasing the number of taxi licenses. It also gives for-hire vehicles hailing rights.
But the vote also prompted one local politician—who wanted to remain anonymous—to email in a request for a Fizz headline.
"Can the quote/title of Morning Fizz please be this from Mike O'Brien? It's just too good/hilarious/sad..." the Fizz fan wrote in last night.
They then quoted City Council member Mike O'Brien, a surprise "yes" on yesterday's vote (he'd been wary of undermining the taxi industry), who had said “I’m going to support this: It anticipates a whole series of hypothetical situations we do not understand” when he voted for an amendment to prevent the rideshare companies for getting around the limit by creating spin-off companies.