Caffeinated News

1. Check out our tweets for a blow-by-blow of last night's fourth district (Wallingford, northeast to Sand Point) candidate forum where three candidates—Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johsnon, Democratic party activist Michael Maddux, and neighborhood council leader Tony Provine—are all challenging longtime incumbent Jean Godden.

Meanwhile, here's what we learned from the lightning round; Cola reporter Josh Kelety reports: 

The lighting round never lies.

What everyone loves: Bonding for affordable housing, municipal broadband, hiring 100 more cops for community policing, and fossil fuel divestment

Stuff the candidates split on: The smoking ban had two yes votes from Godden and Johnson, with two nays from Provine and Maddux.
 
Meanwhile, Godden didn’t answer whether the Roosevelt slumlord properties (seized by city hall) should be turned into a park instead of housing. Johnson voted no and Maddux voted no—while Provine, who helped orchestrate the deal, gave it the thumbs-up.

On linkage fees—as they currently stand before the council (with a $22-per-square-foot charge on big development)—Godden voted yes, Johnson no, Provine no, and Maddux waffled.

Fun fact: Godden refused to answer three questions—the property seizure issue (where she held up both a yes and no sign), whether or not she supported the election initiative that gives every voter $100 to contribute to the candidate of their choice, and whether or not she supported getting rid of Olympia's ban on rent control.

All the other other candidates said they supported getting rid of the rent control ban.

Weird Moment: After Johnson (asked what committee he'd like to chair) said he'd like to head up the transportation committee, a confused Godden answered the same question (or didn't, actually) by outlining her transportation plan.


2. Fed up with Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant's tactics—rallies in council chambers, electioneering for reelection in the city hall lobby—council member Sally Bagshaw, who has no opponent, and so doesn't fear retribution from Sawant's tenacious supporters, has begun criticizing Sawant publicly.

"They can either step up and address the glaring social problems in Seattle, or remain out of touch and
cry foul when they are
called out for snuggling up to business interests."
 —Kshama Sawant

I filed a report about all this yesterday, including Bagshaw's accusation that Sawant was "intentionally creating class differences for her own gain" and including a snippet of must-watch (Seattle Channel) TV where Bagshaw leans in to Sawant (and where Sawant apologizes for any misunderstanding, but remains firm in her right to host political forums at city hall).

Sawant has now responded to Bagshaw's charge that Sawant is "creating class differences." Sawant told me:

"Council member Bagshaw is giving me more credit than I deserve. I didn't create class differences. The extreme levels of inequality, and the housing crisis we're seeing, are direct results of decades-old, procorporate politics in city hall. This city's politicians have a choice. They can either step up and address the glaring social problems in Seattle or remain out of touch and cry foul when they are called out for snuggling up to business interests."

3. One curious absence from Sawant's rent control rally at city hall last week was her lefty ally, council member Mike O'Brien.

The council's other left winger, Nick Licata, cohosted the rally with Sawant, where the pair proposed a resolution that would simply call for lifting the state prohibition on rent control. Where was Mike?

O'Brien had a scheduling conflict (a medical appointment...he's fine). His staff also reports that while O'Brien wants "every option on the table" to address housing affordability—and doesn't want the state ban on rent control to preclude any potential solutions (rent control or policies that could be construed as rent control under the state ban)—he hasn't taken a close look at Sawant and Licata's resolution yet.

As for rent control itself, O'Brien is still weighing the pros and cons, his staff says—both wary of the lessons from New York City and San Francisco, but also aware that Seattle could learn from those examples, and perhaps get it right. 

 

4. U.S. senator Patty Murray is rolling out legislation today to raise the federal minimum wage (currently $7.25) to $12 an hour by 2020.

Starting next year, with an increase to $8, the wage would then increase $1 every year until 2020—and then be indexed to the median wage going forward.

Murray's legislation would also end tip credit; some states allow a base pay of $2.13 an hour as long as tips make up the difference in getting to $7.25. Washington state does not, and senator Murray tells me she is using Washington state as an example. Her legislation phases out the tip credit by gradually increasing the base wage.

Senator Murray told Fizz this morning:

"Eliminating the tipped wage is long overdue. Washington state has led the way in
this, and we’ve seen that it works for restaurants, businesses, and workers."
 —Patty Murray

“Tipped workers are most exposed to the ups and downs of the economy. The unpredictability of wages makes it even more difficult to make ends meet, on top of trying to scrape by on low wages. So eliminating the tipped wage is long overdue. Washington state has led the way in this, and we’ve seen that it works for restaurants, businesses, and workers. This is another way the [minimum wage increase] will help more families make ends meet, expand economic security, and help build an economy that works for all families, not just the wealthiest few.”

5. Holding his kickoff party at an art studio on Capitol Hill last night, indie rock-star-turned-politician John Roderick openly spoofed his beard wearing, kale-salad-eating, pet-owning ("If you own more than one pet you are the problem") supporters last night with a one-part standup routine, one-part political speech that was an anomaly when judged against typical, earnest Seattle campaign pitches. (Roderick is running for the position eight citywide spot against incumbent city council president Tim Burgess.)

Roderick, who did his own money pitch ("Now get your wallets out and give me all your money"), aped traditional political speeches by stamping his foot and shouting out one-word sound bites like "Families!", slipped into comedic stage voices to mock free-market solutions to the housing crisis, and joked that he wanted to miraculously accept Seattle growth ("We're gonna get big," but "stay small and cool").

If this Capitol Hill, all-white (sorry, but it was startling) type of shindig rubs your earnest sensibilities the wrong way (though, for sure, Roderick hit serious notes saying things like we had to "stop asking police officers to be mental health counselors" and actually fund social services), his frame will irk you too.

Roderick kicked off his speech by explicitly identifying his campaign as the front guard of the arts community (Roderick, the guitarist and singer for the successful rock band the Long Winters, is a member of the city's music commission.) While this may strike social justice advocates as a bit bourgeois (in addition to challenging Burgess, Roderick is also running against tenants' rights advocate Jonathan Grant), Roderick portrayed artists as the "canary in the coal mine" of a city that is no longer affordable. "Artists can't afford live here," he said,  "and so the city is losing its heart and the city is dying."

Ultimately, sounding as earnest as any traditional politician, Roderick told me afterward: "Working artists are a core element of a vital city."

 

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