1. Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump’s latest appeal to racists—his refusal to distance himself from former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke—is just more execrable political baggage for down ticket GOP candidates to deal with come November.
Former Washington state Republican chair and current U.S. senator Patty Murray opponent Chris Vance (true!) felt compelled to issue this statement yesterday:
Once again I feel compelled to make it clear that I don’t agree with Donald Trump. I don’t support renegotiating the Geneva Convention to allow waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse.” I don’t support new, unconstitutional, laws to silence journalists. And Trump’s refusal to explicitly criticize David Duke, the KKK, and other White Supremacists is unacceptable.
2. I’m still trying to confirm this, but District One West Seattle/South Park council member Lisa Herbold is supposedly cueing up legislation to prevent the city from buying out bike share nonprofit, Pronto. The Seattle Department of Transportation wants $1.4 million to buy Pronto to A) keep it from going under and B) expand it.
I have a message in to Herbold, but during SDOT’s presentation to the council transportation committee on February 19, she was the main critic of SDOT’s pitch. For example, Herbold, turning bike share on its head, asked SDOT to do an assessment of the carbon footprint of a system that relies on vans to drive bikes around. She also asked SDOT to detail bike share stations' impact on parking; SDOT bike share manager Nicole Freedman said the Pronto stations had removed about 45 paid parking spots citywide for a cost to the city of about $150,000 dollars. Herbold wanted to know why those costs weren’t accounted for in SDOT’s business plan to buy Pronto.
Another freshman council member, District Four University District Roosevelt and Wedgwood council member Rob Johnson, is all in on saving Pronto. “If it’s true,” he said of Herbold’s supposed plan to stop the city from buying Pronto, “I think it’s problematic since when you look at the governance models [for bike share] the one that works best is for the city to have some stake in the system both to provide the capital as well as set the policies. For example, we can ensure [the system] is meeting equity goals that the private sector wouldn’t invest in right away.”
UPDATE: Herbold made it official and proposed an amendment to deny SDOT the authority to spend $1.4 million to buy out Pronto. She says she prefers a for-profit model similar to Car2Go's car share business. Herbold notes that there are successful for-profit models in cities such as New York, San Francisco, and Miami Beach.
Her amendments would:
Deny SDOT the authority to spend $1.4 million to purchase Pronto;
Reserve $1 million to repay the a grant from the Federal Transportation Administration (FTA); and
State council’s intent to spend the remaining $4 million in transportation funding in a future budget action to support other bicycle and pedestrian projects, thereby supporting the implementation of the Pedestrian and Bicycle Master Plans.
Herbold also expressed skepticism of SDOT's belief that sponsorship dollars would create revenue for the city. In a statement today she said:
"It's worth noting sponsorship projections for the South Lake Union streetcar fell well below original projections and Pronto’s business model failed due to being undercapitalized and realizing less sponsorship revenue than needed; sponsorships will also likely be needed for Waterfront re-development, and any potential Center City Streetcar. It’s worth asking whether there is a limit to how much overall sponsorship funding Seattle can realistically attain."
3. Seattle state representatives Jessyn Farrell (D-46, North Seattle) and Noel Frame (D-36, Ballard) are trying to save legislation that would make 25 percent of rental properties affordable to up 60 percent of the median income (what’s considered work force housing.)
The catch is that the legislation, a component of mayor Ed Murray’s affordable housing agenda, would give a property tax break to private developers in exchange for the affordable units—and Democratic house speaker representative Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallingford) doesn’t want any giveaways to for profit developers. He only wants the program to apply to nonprofit, low-income housing developers.
Chopp’s argument is a little odd, the city tells me, because nonprofits already get the tax break, and with his change—which he added to the bill last week—the legislation wouldn’t create any new units. The city estimates that giving new incentive to for-profit developers would create 3,000 to 4,000 new units affordable to a family of two making up to $43,000 a year.
The original bill passed out of the senate 36-13 (with only a conservative faction of Republicans voting no on the bipartisan bill).
“We are trying to get this bill out!” Farrell told me this morning. “I’m surprised it’s been so hard given that it was a consensus recommendation.”