1. On his blog, Seattle City Council member Nick Licata makes the case for public financing of local campaigns, arguing that taxpayer funded campaigns will decrease the influence of big donations and lead to more competitive elections.
In pursuit of electing a City Council government that better reflects the priorities of a one-person one-vote democracy, some public funding of campaigns would increase the role and emphasis of small donors in the electoral process and by extension also broaden the public’s influence on the Council’s decision making. The public should have an opportunity to make that decision on this fall’s ballot.
As we've reported, the council has asked the city's Ethics and Elections Commission to come up with recommendations for possible public campaign finance proposals by March 1.
Commission chair Bill Sherman tells PubliCola that's an extremely short timeline, given the complexity of the issue. "The commission wishes we had more time to wrestle with it," Sherman says.
2. The Seattle Times reports that the presidents of the state's five universities, and its one four-year college, have proposed a deal to the state legislature under which they will agree to freeze tuition increases for two years if the state increases higher-education funding to 2009 levels, or about $225 million.
There's certainly reason to be pessimistic about that proposal. Legislators have consistently cut higher-ed funding to help close persistent budget gaps, prompting schools to raise tuition by double-digit figures over the past few years; since 2007, tuition for an undergraduate at the University of Washington, for example, has nearly doubled.
3. At the Washington State Labor Council's fiery blog, The Stand, former OneAmerica director Pramila Jayapal argues that it's time for Washington state to come up with a comprehensive strategy for accommodating and integrating the immigrants who live here—a strategy she calls "immigrant integration."
If immigration reform is about who gets to be here and how, immigrant integration is about how we do the nitty-gritty work of actually engaging and integrating the immigrants who are already here as our neighbors, friends and co-workers into the everyday life and economy of our communities, meeting their needs and supporting them to give their fullest to our state.
4. Now that Washington state has legalized the recreational use of marijuana, how should the state go about regulating pot?
The Spokesman Review reports that residents have plenty of ideas, among them: Ask drug dealers how they run their business; prohibiting big corporations from getting in on the marijuana business; and restricting the kind of chemicals and pesticides that can be used on pot plants.
In a related story, the New York Times takes a look at the potential health impacts of marijuana use.
5. Density opponents often argue that they don't want to live in crowded conditions. But how much of their opposition is about not wanting new neighbors, and how much is about not wanting to give up space for their cars? Cap'n Transit believes that most conflicts about "density" are really conflicts about road space, and he makes a compelling case on his blog.