THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT THAT THE PUGET SOUND REGIONAL COUNCIL DOES TAKE ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ISSUES INTO ACCOUNT.
1. Fizz has heard from several sources, including Democratic legislators, Democratic political consultants, and Democratic Party officials, that state Rep. Cyrus Habib (D-48, Redmond) is seriously considering running for state senate.
Incumbent state Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), Public Enemy #1 for the Democrats, dropped out earlier this week due to health reasons (his own and his elderly dad's), leaving former Kirkland mayor Joan McBride, the current Democratic candidate, in a strong position to win the seat.
Some party officials, however, have asked the King County Democrats to hold off on giving McBride their early endorsement at this coming Tuesday meeting, to make room for Habib. The King County Democrats had planned to endorse McBride along with Matt Isenhower, who's running in the 45th.
Habib's apparent machinations are reportedly annoying other Democrats, who don't like the idea of undermining McBride's run, particularly given that McBride stepped up to take on Tom at a time when no other Democrat would. (After Tom's announcement, Habib told PubliCola McBride was "courageous" for taking on Tom.)
Habib's apparent machinations are reportedly annoying other Democrats, who don't like the idea of undermining McBride's run, particularly given that McBride stepped up to take on Tom at a time when no other Democrat would.
Despite Tom's status as a villain with Democrats (Tom, who used to be a Republican, decided to caucus with the GOP last year, giving the Republicans the numbers to control the senate with Tom as their leader), well-positioned and well-known Democrats like Rep. Habib and his 48th District colleague state Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina), the powerful house appropriations chair, did not step up to run, and the Democrats finally recruited lesser-known McBride; Kirkland is only partly in the district—most of Kirkland falls in the 45th Legislative District.
Habib runs the risk of angering female voters and female party members (not to mention members of the LGBT community; McBride recently married her partner of 14 years, Margaret, and has fought for domestic partner rights on the Kirkland council), who may see a boys-club aspect to Habib's potential move.
State Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) dropped his short-lived plan to run for state senate this weekend when elbowing the incumbent, Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard), also had a sexist taint to it.
Neither Habib, nor his consultant—also McBride's consultant!—Christian Sinderman, have returned our emails or calls.
Nor has McBride, who Fizz hears is not interested in stepping aside.
2. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), the group that oversees planning and federal spending on local transportation projects, has, to the chagrin of transit leaders like Rob Johnson, the Executive Director of the grassroots non-profit advocacy group Transportation Choices Coalition, tabled pages of public comments asking the agency to amend its 2040 plan—the guiding document for transportation projects—so it uses specific environmental justice and health metrics when evaluating projects.
"My question is," Johnson says pointing a finger at the PSRC, "Are we offering public comment because the federal government requires us to do it, and we're just checking a box, or are we really interested in ways to make our funding decisions and funding priorities better for the environment, better for social justice, and better for the economy?" TCC wanted to see a more holistic approach to transportation projects, so that, for example, transit dollars aren't disproportionately serving wealthier communities when the impacts on poorer communities would have a more sweeping effect.
"Are we offereing public comment because the federal government requires us to do it, and we're just checking a box, or are we really interested in ways to make our funding decisions and funding priorities better for the environment, better for social justice, and better for the economy?"
Soliciting public comment is a requirement of the process, but the PSRC told TCC at its meeting last week, that, despite the process, it had opted to put off any discussion about substantive changes to the plan, until its next update in 2018. In the meantime, hundreds of millions of dollars will be assigned without considering specific environmental justice issues that TCC brought up such as "Connect level of investment to census data about minorities and low income groups."
"I'm excited about next time, but I just wish they had worked it [our public comments] into this year's plan," Johnson says about the "missed opportunity."
Go to page 51 of PSRC's public Summary of Public Comments for a long list of "Issues for Next Plan Update" where you can find a bunch of comments that were tabled until next time or put off for further discussion, such as suggestions from the Cascade Bicycle Club, the King, Kitsap, Pierce, and Snohomish Public Health Agencies, and Conservation Northwest around everything from recablibrating how to prioritize multimodal transportation, safety around bikes, and health benchmarks.
3. Speaking of transit, Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci, and Redmond Mayor John Marchione will promote some alternative transit options today in case Prop. 1, the tax and Vehicle License Fee measure to prevent 550,000 hours of bus service cuts, fails next week.
Their stop-gap "New Commuter Toolkit" includes: a zip line from Seattle to Redmond and a prototype Slip ‘N Slide for commuters from Capitol Hill to downtown.
The press release announcing this afternoon's spoof demo at Freeway park inviting "all ... to participate" says very wisely, "These new options are environmentally sustainable and promote an active, healthy lifestyle for commuters. Experts think King County’s 150 days of annual rainfall make our region a perfect place to test commuting by Slip ‘N Slide."
4. Asked about Seattle City Council member and Income Inequality Advisory Committee member Bruce Harrell's news yesterday that a "phased out" tip credit may be a compromise solution to the IIAC's deadlocked minimum wage discussions at the mayor's office, Mayor Ed Murray told Fizz:
"Folks are not in agreement yet. It is one of many concepts being floated. I think we can reach a deal, but it won't happen until the 11th hour. Literally the 11th hour."
Murray has told the committe he's bringing his own, still undisclosed, plan to the table if the group doesn't find a compromise by April 24.