1. Here's a noteworthy follow-up to Friday's news that council member Nick Licata sent the city employee's retirement fund board back to the drawing board.
(Licata, you'll remember, had been frustrated with a dismissive consultant's report to the board that, despite an earlier city council request to look at paths to divesting from fossil fuel stocks, simply belittled the idea.)
Dig deep into the report, and you'll find that even as the consultants lecture the Seattle City Employees' Retirement System (SCERS) on the supposed recklessness of divestment—"We believe that divestment from fossil fuel companies has the potential to reduce expected returns and increase risk in the fund and, therefore, violates the SCERS ... Policy"—there's some actual (though intentionally? inscrutable) analysis ten pages into the report that notes the opposite (FYI, the CU200 are the biggest carbon polluters):
"From a performance perspective, the S&P 500 screened against the CU200 outperforms the standard S&P 500 by approximately 30 basis points over 10 years ended May 2014."
In other words, (in English): Take the CU200 out of Seattle's S&P 500 investment portfolio and employees do better, the report says.
2. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is three for three.
The argument would eventually wind up in a federal court—"the Roberts Court," AG Ferguson warns Fizz— where I-502 would get tossed.
A Benton County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that 2012's marijuana legalization initiative, I-502, does not prevent cities from opting out; in other words 502 doesn't say cities must allow pot sales, but rather, according to Ferguson (and now three judges), 502 says cities can allow pot sales.
The ACLU has argued that this interpretation undermines the meaning the of I-502—namely, that pot is legal in Washington state now. But Ferguson says his interpretation, that cities can opt out, is the only way to save I-502 from losing at the federal level.
Ferguson says federal law is clear on pot, and if his office defended I-502 on broader terms—that entrepreneurs can open a pot store in any town they want without local approval—the argument would eventually wind up in a federal court—"the Roberts Court," he warns Fizz— where I-502 could get tossed.
Ferguson said on Friday:
“My office is working aggressively to uphold the will of the voters. Today’s ruling affirms the opinion of my office earlier this year and allows Initiative 502 to continue to be implemented in Washington state. As I have said from the beginning, the drafters of Initiative 502 could have required local jurisdictions to allow the sale of recreational marijuana. It could have been done in a single sentence, but it was not. Now it is up to the Legislature to decide whether to require local governments to allow for the sale of marijuana.”
Two other judges—one in Chelan County Superior Court upholding Wenatchee's right to opt out and one in Pierce County Superior Court upholding Fife's right to opt out—seconded Ferguson's interpretation.
However, to Ferguson's chagrin, in defending its right to ban pot, Fife argued federal law prevented pot sales. While the Pierce County judge didn't rule on that point—and simply went with Ferguson's "must" vs. "can" sell pot construction, the Fife case is on its way to the Washington State Supreme Court where the federal issue, to Ferguson's dismay, might rear its head.
3. Another Fizz follow-up. Last week, we were flummoxed by a Seattle Times report that noted new demographic data showing a reversal in the ten-year trend that had had Seattle's non-white population increasing. (Have you been to Lake City lately?)
After checking in with the city's demographer office, though, it turns out that the new data—based on the American Community Survey—is well known for being inconclusive and unreliable because it's based on a sample rather than a comprehensive model. You don't find trends with ACS data, the city reports, until you collect about five years worth. The Times looked at one year's worth and concluded "Seattle is now whiter than it was in 2010."
They should hold on that assessment.