1. Late last week, we reported that not yet four months into Mayor Ed Murray's term, his top policy adviser on police reform, former Seattle City Council member Tina Podlodowski, was suddenly on leave. Murray spokesman Jeff Reading told us Podlodowksi was out for health reasons.
Yesterday, the mayor called to address the situation.
Murray told Fizz "police reform has dominated my term so far" and "is maybe the toughest issue I've ever worked on," adding that Podlodowski, was "carrying the brunt of it" dealing with the U.S. Attroney's Office, the Community Police Commission, the police monitor, the SPD itself ("any union is difficult" Murray said when asked if the police guild was the biggest problem), and the Attorney General. Podlodowski accompanied Murray to D.C. for his recent meeting with U.S. AG Eric Holder about the SPD consent decree.
"She'd been working on a fast burn rate," Murray says, and he "told her she was stressed and should take some time." She'd already had a vacation planned, and Murray says he told her to take "as much time as she needed."
Murray credits Podlodowski for the "very positive" feedback he got from AG Holder, specifically credits her for her work upgrading the SPD's technology infrastructure, and calls the "vast majority of her product strong."
He said, "No, there isn't disagreement" when asked if he and Podlodowski had clashed over any central issue. And, addressing her future with the office, he told Fizz a bit cryptically, oddly referring us to the personnel department: "This thing about not coming back, I have not heard that."
He concluded: "I want her back. I need her back. Her name is still on her office door."
Out of respect for her privacy, no one is willing to go on the record about Podlodowski's health (Murray said "she could have a bad back"), but we can report that it's not life-threatening.
2. While we had Murray on the phone, we asked him about the issue we think has dominated his term so far—the minimum wage.
"There's still areas of disagreement," he said candidly. "This could still come apart."
Mayor Murray's Income Inequality Advisory Committee is supposed to come up with a recommendation for the city council this month; the goal is to get to a $15 minimum wage.
As Fizz laid it out yesterday, the sticking point between labor and business is whether things like health care, tips, and commission ("total compensation") should be counted as part of wages; labor says no, business says yes, focusing on restaurant tips as a must-have.
Murray, who ran for mayor pledging to raise the minimum wage to $15, says the group is "close" and adds that it's "remarkable that business leaders think $15 is appropriate, there's agreement on that, that's pretty significant."
He acknowledges there is "not agreement on total compensation," though, and says tip credit isn't the only issue. Murray called health care coverage a "huge" issue for non-profits.
"There's still areas of disagreement," he said candidly, "this could still come apart."
3. Make that $10,000.
Yesterday, we reported that north Seattle powerhouse property manager and longtime mass transit antagonist Faye Garneau (also known for bankrolling last year's winning district elections initative), had contributed $5,000 to Families for Sustainable Transit, the Orwellian-sounding campaign fighting against Prop 1, the ballot measure to prevent as many as 600,000 hours of cuts to Metro bus service.
It turns out there are two groups opposing the measure, and Garneau—who spent $230,000 on districts—has also given $5,000 to Noprop1.org, another group against the pro-bus measure. Noprop1.org was set up by Mark Baerwaldt, a wealthy Belltown businessman who is best known for opposing Sound Transit.
Has your double-reverse back-flip populism actually gotten to the point where you think people who ride the bus are elitist?
Another contributor to the group, Emory Bundy, was also a longtime light rail critic.
4. Speaking of contributors: On the pro-Prop. 1 side, Sonics savior in waiting Chris Hansen has contributed $20,000 to Move King County Now, making his group, Sonics Arena/Horton Street, one of the top five contributors to the pro-bus measure.
5. We're not sure if it's due to all the serious action at City Hall these days, but the comments threads have been great lately; thanks for raising the level with smart, thoughtful discussions.
Having said that: There was one commenter yesterday who accused us being "hipsters" for riding the bus.
I'm not sure what bus qualifies as hip—maybe Erica is missing the Party Bus that's suddenly replaced the 7?
But seriously: Has your double-reverse back-flip populism actually gotten to the point where you think people who ride the bus are elitist?