1. Surprise, surprise. Even as low-income residents are evicted or priced out of their apartments in Ballard (although, as I noted yesterday, developers in a free market have every legal right to screw tenants by jacking up their rents), Ballard residents are complaining that their neighborhood just isn't the right place for a hygiene center that gives homeless people the ability to clean up, use the restroom, and wash their clothes.
According to the Ballard News Tribune, some residents are opposed to plans to establish an Urban Rest Stop on the ground floor of the new Cheryl Chow Court, which will house low-income seniors on Northwest 57th St. because, as one opponent told the Tribune, "it does more harm than good to the community."
Somewhat bizarrely, the concerns neighbors expressed included "congestion and parking," which implies that there are so many homeless people with no access to basic amenities like restrooms and showers who own working cars that they will cause more traffic congestion than, say, wealthy new condo residents. At the same time, neighbors said they worried about people "loitering" around the center, which seems to contradict the concern about car-owning homeless people taking up parking spaces.
Yes, I know some homeless people live in their cars. But neighbors' real concerns seem more about making sure that existing Ballard residents don't have to come into contact with homeless people in their front yards than about preventing traffic congestion and people "loitering" around their property while they do their laundry.
2. On the eve of May Day, VICE Magazine has a long Q&A with city council member Kshama Sawant, whom the self-consciously "anti-establishment" magazine describes somewhat breathlessly as "one avowed Marxist" with a "grassroots army" who "doesn't shy away from getting her hands dirty."
Sawant talks about her childhood and political awakening in Mumbai, her shock at the extent of poverty and the lack of basic infrastructure like mass transit in the U.S., and her reasons for running for office, which, if you take her at her word, she did only because "the organization"—the Socialist Alternative Party—decided she should.
The question of the candidate comes afterward, the candidate is something that is voted on, not something that I personally choose. This is something that I have to do because it is my duty and it's been decided by the organization. What we do going forward will be decided in a similar fashion. If we want to run — we do — we talk about running more candidates. We're open to working with other forces on the left. So the decisions about what I will do are not up to me, they're up to SA and what we decide collectively.
She also makes it clear that she is no fan of Hillary Clinton.
3. Olé crap. (Sorry). Seattlish points out that the promo materials for 107.7 The End's "Fiesta 5K Ole" (they don't use the accent) feature: Tequila bottle costumes, serapes, fake "Mexican" mustaches, giant sombreros, a guy riding a fake burro, and lots and lots of bad Spanish grammar. All courtesy of white people, if you couldn't guess.
"This is like some Speedy Gonzales meets Frito Bandito shit," one of the Seattlish ladies writes. "So like, go participate if you want because tacos are good and TacocaT is good and fuck, even running is good. Just like, bail on all the repulsive cultural appropriation, ok? Because it’s fucking racist."
4. Treehugger has a handy graphic that illustrates in simple but accurate terms the discrepancy between what we spend on bike and pedestrian infrastructure in the U.S. and how many trips we take on foot or by bike. On the federal level, just 2.1 percent of transportation spending goes to bike and pedestrian infrastructure, while 11.4 percent of all trips are taken by bike or on foot. (Meanwhile, 14.9 percent of those killed on the roads are pedestrians or bicyclists.)
"The point, of course, is that bike and pedestrian infrastructure deserves a lot more funding," they write. "A counter-argument that many bike/ped advocates wouldn't note is that bike/ped trips are shorter than auto and transit trips, so those other modes need more infrastructure and more funding. However, 11.4% of trips versus 2.1% of funding is still a huge discrepancy, and imagine how many more people would bike or walk if there was decent infrastructure in their city!"
5. PubliCola alum Anand Balasubrahmanyan (our onetime MusicNerd) has a piece in Bitch Magazine dissecting disgraced L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's long history of racist practices, including a 30-year history of housing discrimination as an L.A. apartment tycoon; after refusing to rent to Latinos and African-Americans ("black tenants smell and attract vermin," he reportedly said), he paid the largest housing discrimination settlement in U.S. Justice Department history.
6. Over at the PI.com, Joel Connelly reports that the Democrats, who are already trying to regain the state senate—with hopes in Tacoma and the Microsoft suburbs, slimmer hopes in Spokane, and nervous hopes in Federal Way—have a new front (up north near Bellingham) with a promising candidate in the 42nd Legislative District: Seth Fleetwood.
Fleetwood is a former Whatcom County Commissioner, and twice-elected former city council member in Bellingham. And, in a nice fit for the iconoclastic swing district, Fleetwood has a libertarian record on issues like red light camera, while also being a strong environmentalist.
The incumbent is state Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale), the chair of the senate environmental committee who battled with the Democrats this year over oil train regulations while also stalling Gov. Jay Inslee's carbon-capping agenda.
Ericksen was one of the top recipients of oil industry money this year.