1. Not every piece of sound bite legislation that city council member Kshama Sawant proposes is met with opposition.
Yesterday, in fact, council president Tim Burgess fast-tracked Sawant's proposal to proclaim the city's support for the Seattle teachers' union and their week-old strike. Sawant initially proposed her show of solidarity—"WHEREAS, The Seattle Education Association has put themselves on the line, to go on strike to win a contract that fully values students and educators"—as a legislative proclamation (which would have taken a couple of weeks). But Burgess told her she should offer her manifesto as a resolution so the council could pass it right away—which they did, unanimously. (Good thing—the strike may be over...see below.)
And council member Sally Bagshaw suggested new language, enthusiastically accepted by Sawant, that upped the ante on Sawant's heroic union message, adding a demand that teachers "be integral parts of the academic and social decision making processes."
The resolution cited the McCleary ruling for full education funding and also the recent Washington State Supreme Court decision declaring charter schools unconstitutional, and it called on management to bargain in good faith "designat[ing] the week of September 14, 2015, through September 18, 2015, 'Seattle Educators Week' in recognition and support of the Seattle Education Association whose members are on strike."
Sawant, who has donated $500 (with another $500 pledged) to the SEA strike fund, said in a statement yesterday:
Over the past decades public education has come under ferocious assault by successive Republican and Democratic administrations across the country. Public schools have been deeply underfunded and teachers have been pushed to increasingly focus on standardized testing. There has been an attempt to dismantle public education, first with vouchers, and now with charter schools. If the union wins it will be a huge step forward for the students and educators who make up Seattle Public Schools. However, a victory for the union is also a victory for education across the country. It shows that if we organize and remain united, we can resist attacks on public education.
Council member Burgess, who does deserve props for his heavy lift on last year's preschool funding measure, has actually been sympathetic to the education reform movement that challenged unions in the past.
Seattle Public Schools announced this morning that a "tentative agreement" had been reached. SPS said:
Bargaining teams from Seattle Public Schools and the Seattle Education Association have reached a tentative agreement to end the strike. Both teams worked diligently all day Monday and overnight, with a shared goal of getting the district’s 53,000 students back into 97 schools. The tentative agreement was reached just before 7 a.m. today.
Details of the agreement cannot be released at this time due to an embargo to allow the union to inform its membership about the contents of the agreement.
District staff are working persistently in attempt to start school on Thursday. As previously mentioned, because of the length of the strike and many logistics involved, getting class started might not happen immediately.
Updates will be provided as they become available.
2. Speaking of unions: District Four city council candidate Michael Maddux announced an impressive endorsement yesterday—the Teamsters 117. The union, not only supports city parks workers (Maddux has been a leading parks funding advocate), but 117 also supports a new council proposal to allow ride share drivers, such as Uber workers, to unionize.
3. Not surprisingly, Maddux's opponent, Transportation Choices Coalition director Rob Johnson, scored an endorsement of his own yesterday: His nonprofit's new, separate 501(c)(4) group, Transportation for Washington, (formed earlier this year so they could up their lobbying and advocacy efforts) announced its first-ever general election endorsements. In addition to Johnson, the group, whose board includes Washington Bus executive director Toby Crittenden and King County executive Dow Constantine's transit lobbyist April Putney, also endorsed Shannon Braddock in West Seattle's District One race and Lorena González in the at-large District Nine race.
The group didn't announce any endorsements in a couple of other high profile races, though, including the other at-large contest between Burgess and challenger Jon Grant in Position Eight, nor in Sawant's District Three race, nor in North Seattle's District Five race.
4. Late last week, in response to mayor Ed Murray’s position that hookah lounges violate the state's indoor smoking ban, Seattle hookah lounge owners sent a letter to Brian Surratt, Murray’s director of the Office of Economic Development, insisting the issue is actually an “unsettled matter.” Their letter asks the city to suspend any planned enforcement until after the city’s Office of Civil Rights completes a racial equity analysis of Murray’s hookah lounge crackdown.
Specifically, the hookah lounge letter was written in response to an August 28 letter Surratt himself sent out the day after hookah lounge owners met with the mayor’s office and Surratt’s OED. Surratt’s letter outlined his intent to “help businesses comply with state law.”
The hookah lounges say Surratt’s “accusation” that their businesses are illegal “undermines the veracity of the city of Seattle’s offer to work with us to devise a special ‘regulatory license’ for private, members-only hookah lounges in Seattle.”
Both the mayor’s office and Surratt have indicated that they would support a private club model if the businesses strictly utilized steam stone hookahs—which don’t produce smoke.The steam stone compromise was allegedly proposed at the August 27 meeting; but hookah lounge owners maintain that steam stone hookahs are off the table, according to Russell Knight, the lawyer representing nine of Seattle’s 11 hookah lounges.
Their new letter goes on to lay out a list of takeaways and assumptions hookah lounge owners held coming out of the August 27 meeting, including: the unresolved legality of hookah lounges, a timeline that ensures the city will not revoke businesses licenses until mid-September, and a commitment from the city to listen to the Office of Civil Right’s racial equity recommendations.
“If your office, thus the City of Seattle, continue to operate from the pretext that our businesses are illegal, it appears that you are not honoring the more somber, reflective and more democratic timeline that we agreed on during our August 27 meeting,” the letter reads. It concludes by noting that hookah lounge owners are eager to start the process of developing a “special regulatory license,” and that the city, if they continue to “question the legality of our businesses,” should direct its communications strictly to Knight (Russell has made clear their intention to take the matter to court if it comes to that).
We have calls out to both Surratt and the mayor’s office.
5. The League of Education Voters has filed a complaint against the anti-I-122 campaign (I-122 is the public campaign financing measure for election season vouchers).
Seattle Weekly's Casey Jaywork has the story; the complaint, accusing the anti-I-122 campaign of failing to disclose campaign expenditures to the group's campaign manager, follows a similar LEV complaint against the anti-I-122 campaign which we reported on last month.