Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. City Council member Bruce Harrell has asked the city's lobby shop to include analyzing the impact of the charter-schools initiative that passed this month on the city's legislative agenda, which does not currently address charter schools. The measure, I-1240, allows the creation of 40 public charter schools, which can be run by private nonprofits, over the next five years. Charter school supporters have suggested that Seattle's first downtown elementary school, currently in the works, might be a charter school. 

Harrell says he didn't personally support the charter school initiative, but that now that it has passed—by a razor-thin margin—he wants to closely monitor how it will work and determine whether Seattle should lobby for charters here. And, he says, he wants to make sure that charters don't cater to the students who are already high-performing. 

"We have to make sure that its not cream-skimming, where the best students get the best schools and the worst students get the worst schools," Harrell says.

"We have to make sure that its not cream-skimming, where the best students get the best schools and the worst students get the worst schools," Harrell says. "The theory behind charter schools is to address poor-performing schools. It wasn’t to extract out the best students. So how do we mandate that?"

Harrell says he's meeting with groups representing communities of color this week to talk about how to make sure charters serve every level of student.

2.  Transit advocates who were elated by Democrat Jay Inslee's election (Inslee made a point of hyping light rail while his opponent, Republican Rob McKenna, had a history of objecting to light rail), are now a little spooked.

Inslee is reportedly thinking of keeping Washington State Department of Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond in place; Hammond has disappointed transit advocates for keeping the agency focused on roads rather than promoting alternatives and, for example, testifying in the legislature last year that transportation projects should be exempt from the shoreline management act, which guards against car-centric development.

However, light rail executive director Joni Earl's name has also come up.

3. We'll have more on this later today, but PubliCola has learned that SHARE, the group that until earlier this week operated Tent City 4 in Kirkland  plans to remove all of Tent City's belongings, including tents, tarps, pallets, a shower, blankets, sleeping bags, and towels on Thanksgiving.

As we reported last week, a majority of Tent City residents voted to split from SHARE when its leader, Scott Morrow, refused to agree to weekly warrant and sex offender background checks for people who want to live at the camp after a resident, a man accused of raping a child, was arrested at the Kirkland church where Tent City is housed.

According to a Tent City resident, the church, St. John Vianney, told the group that they could not stay at the church if they did not allow weekly background checks, but that they also could not stay unless they were operating under the umbrella of SHARE. About a quarter of the Tent City residents reportedly decided to stay with SHARE; though it's not clear where they're moving to now.

The remaining residents are forming a new group, and nonprofit, called "Camp Unity." That group plans to move to Lake Washington Methodist Church in Kirkland.