Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Mayor Mike McGinn came by PubliCola's office yesterday for an interview; (much) more on that later. A fun outtake for Fizz, though: McGinn had a suggestion for a Cola "Isn't it Weird That..."

As the interview was coming to a close, and several times as he was heading out the door, McGinn, in reaction to a question we had about his reputation for being difficult to work with, suggested: "Isn't it weird that everyone says no one gets along with McGinn, but we now have an arena deal that I negotiated with King County and the city council? Isn't it weird that supposedly no one gets along with McGinn? Isn't that weird?"

We'd suggest that King County and the the city council were negotiating with millionaire Chris Hansen, who plunked hundreds of millions of dollars down on the table to build a stadium and buy a team. So, no, not all that weird.

2. Last Friday, we reported that state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), upset that the Republicans refused to give his Reproductive Parity Act legislation a hearing in the health care committee, reintroduced his bill in the Law & Justice Committee where an anti-choice Republican bill, Sen. Don Benton's (R-17, Vancouver) parental notification bill, was getting a hearing. If the Majority Coalition Caucus (as the 23 Republicans plus two Democrats who control the senate are called) are as bipartisan as they claim, Hobbs declared, they should hear his pro-choice bill. (The RPA mandates that insurance companies that cover maternity care must also cover abortions.)

"Sen. Tom has given me his word that the RPA bill will be heard. I’m a patient person, but I cannot speak to the patience of the millions of Washington women."—Sen. Steve Hobbs

Yesterday, the Tacoma News Tribune had the story (subscription required) that the Law & Justice Committee shelved Hobbs' bill as well.

Fizz got Hobbs reaction:

For th'e second year in a row, I have tried, so far without success, to see the Reproductive Parity Act become law. I would be lying if I told you that it isn’t frustrating to see this common sense legislation held up, moved around and now completely pulled from a committee agenda without explanation. I realize that there are internal problems within the Republican Caucus on this bill and that there is a lot that Sen. Tom has to deal with.

Hobbs is a fiscally conservative Democrat who, while not joining Tom's MCC, voted with the coalition to pass conservative workers' compensation legislation earlier this week, giving the MCC their first major legislative win of the session. (Hobbs is also one of three Democrats who took Tom up on an offer to chair or co-chair a committee, giving the MCC the veneer of bipartisanship.)

Hobbs added: "Sen. Tom has given me his word that the RPA bill will be heard and I want to give him every opportunity to make good on his word. I’m a patient person, but I cannot speak to the patience of the millions of Washington women who will be directly affected by the passage or failure of this legislation."

Sen. Tom gave you his word, huh? Sen. Tom switched from the Republican Party to the Democratic Party in 2006—and effectively back to the GOP in 2013.

3. More troubling news about the tunnel project from the state senate transportation committee meeting.

Yesterday, as a parade of state senators on the Committee tore into Seattle and tunnel costs, Democratic committee co-chair Sen. Tracey Eide (D-30, Federal Way) asked WSDOT point blank about the $300 million that's supposed to come from the Port of Seattle to fund the $3.1 billion in costs: "Did the $300 million actually get put on the dotted line with the Port of Seattle? We were not told that it was confirmed yet."

Tunnel financing is: $2.6 billion from the state; $400 million from tolling (though that's been downgraded to $165 million, with the remainder supposedly coming from the federal government ... which is what the angry speeches were about) and the $300 million from the Port, which won't pay its portion until the tunnel is complete.

"It is not confirmed yet," WSDOT's tunnel program manager Linea Laird said. "The commitment is confirmed. What is not confirmed is solidifying the agreement. ... We're in active negotiations."

As we reported two years ago, the Port's agreement to pay its $300 million share may be contingent on the Port's satisfaction with the project; according to a letter from then-Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton, the Port won't spend any money on the tunnel until it's satisfied that "the corridor is working for the manufacturing industrial base of the city." 

4. Last month, we reported that as a member of the King County Districting Committee, attorney Rod Dembowski argued for district boundaries that placed his house narrowly inside King County District 1, making him eligible for the vacant King County Council seat for which he is now a finalist.

In a letter responding to a request from the five Democratic members of the King County Council (technically "nonpartisan," the council still caucuses along its old party line), that he respond to claims that he argued for the boundary change that made him eligible for the District 1 seat (which was vacated by now-Attorney General Bob Ferguson), Dembowski called the charges "false."

"All members of the Committee will, if asked, confirm that there was never a discussion or areement made with Rod or any member of the committee to include Rod's house in any particular district," the letter says.

It goes on to note that Dembowski recused himself from participating in the formal decision to draw the new line, and reiterates that the Seattle/King County Municipal League found the redistricting process to be "conducted with integrity and without improper influences"

However, as we also noted in our original post, Dembowski did argue during a committee meeting for the new boundary, making the case that it serves as "a natural geographic boundary" that keeps cities like Shoreline together in a single district—and, by coincidence or design, made Dembowski eligible for the open seat formerly held by his friend and political ally Ferguson.