IIW That

A few weird things we noticed about the contributions and expenditures in this week's mayoral and city council reports. 

1. Isn't It Weird That ... West Seattle activist and onetime NARAL Pro-Choice Washington interim ED Christi Stapleton, a major supporter of Mayor Mike McGinn during his initial election campaign four years ago (in addition to endorsing and volunteering for McGinn in 2009, Stapleton gave $400 to his campaign that year—plus another $770 to McGinn's office fund), is now supporting McGinn's opponent, Ed Murray?

Stapleton, whose name is not listed on Murray's endorsement list, gave $100 to his campaign, according to the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission; we have a call out to Stapleton to find out why she's backing Murray now.

Similarly, Isn't It Weird That, given McGinn's reputation as a pro-nightlife mayor, one of Murray's new contributors, as we noted in this morning's Morning Fizz, was former McGinn supporter David Meinert, the local bar owner, nightlife advocate, and music entrepreneur (The Lumineers, Hey Marseilles).

The reason Meinert contributed to Murray? During this year's budget debates, Murray managed to repeal the "dance tax."

However, Meinert is also piqued about McGinn's attempt to use the city's permitting process to oppose Whole Foods, which McGinn says doesn't pay workers a living wage.

Meinert sent an email to the city council last week calling McGinn's effort "insane politics." (Meinert also brings up the Hedreen hotel project proposal, which, as Erica reported, McGinn's office has also threatened to put through the union litmus test when deciding whether to recommend alley vacations Hedreen has requested there).

Meinert wrote to the nine council members:

Hey all -

I'm writing to express my concerns with Mayor McGinn's request to deny the alley [vacation] for the ... Whole Foods in West Seattle. The Mayor's actions seem purely political and fly in the face of creating a friendly culture for opening new small businesses in Seattle. The project followed a process and was approved at every step. To then have a permit denied in order to get votes, endorsements and donations in an elections year is insane politics. As a business owner, and someone wanting to open more businesses in Seattle, it terrifies me to know the permit process is completely unreliable and that even if my project meets every code and is properly moved through the permitting process, the permit could be denied for purely political reasons.

Creating inconsistent, unpredictable permitting is a horrible environment to try to do business in. I want Seattle to be a great place to live, work and do business, and am all for progressive labor policy and smart regulations on business.  But this case, and the potential of denying the Hedreen hotel project, is political insanity. Please put an end to it now.

2. Isn't It Weird That ...The Associated General Contractors of Washington, the conservative construction PAC, maxed out ($700) to Democratic Sen. Murray?

The PAC (known as BUILD Washington) frequently contributes to Republican candidates, including unsuccessful gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna and King County Council member Reagan Dunn as well as campaigns like Tim Eyman's I-1125, which would have restricted the use of highway tolls and blocked light rail from the I-90 bridge. 

3. Isn't It Weird That ... Transportation Choices Coalition membership manager Carla Saulter gave $100 to Kshama Sawant, the "socialist alternative" candidate (candidates can make up their own party names) against city council member Richard Conlin? Conlin has been endorsed by the Cascade Bicycle Club and Washington Conservation Voters (TCC doesn't typically endorse candidates.)

Saulter, aka "Bus Chick," says she supports Sawant personally because of, among other reasons, "her vocal support for a living wage for all Seattleites" and opposition to regressive taxes.

4. Isn't It Weird That ... Albert Shen, the civil and transportation engineering consultant who's running against city council member Mike O'Brien, has the only mailer that we've seen, so far, that directly attacks Mayor Mike McGinn? 

Even the independent expenditure mailers for Murray (IEs are usually where advocates for candidates have a chance to go on the attack) have been unusually positive this year, focusing on the candidates' qualifications, not their opponents' shortfalls. 

Shen's mailer (which focuses on transportation, saying Shen is the only candidate in the race who will "fix our traffic" and improve transit), is pretty effective. It includes an image of McGinn and a hand holding up a "finger puppet" with O'Brien's head on the top.

The tag line: "Your other choice is Mayor McGinn's finger puppet – Mike O'Brien." It's terrible Photoshopping, but it gets the point across—if you hate McGinn, you should vote for Shen. The mailer, according to Shen's campaign disclosure reports, went out to 65,000 households.

While O'Brien is certainly a McGinn ally, he recently opposed him on the high-profile South Lake Union debate, arguing that the city should increase the amount developers pay into an affordable housing fund.

Shen's main consultant is Dean Nielsen. His campaign manager is Parker Butterworth, son of the late veteran campaign consultant Blair Butterworth.

5. Finally, Isn't It Totally Not Weird That ... The president of the Seattle Convention and Visitors Bureau, Craig Schafer, maxed out to Murray? The convention business is none too pleased with McGinn right now, given that he has vowed (as PubliCola first reported) to apply the same criteria (livable wages; union jobs) to a proposed convention center hotel downtown as he has applied to a Whole Foods-anchored development in West Seattle? 

The hotel, which would be developed by the R.C. Hedreen Co. (company president Richard Hedreen, along with his wife Betty and the company itself, have given $2,100 to Murray), would be the largest in the city; Hedreen has said he will not commit to paying union wages as UNITE Here, the hotel workers' union, has requested.