1. The U.S. senate hearings to vet Donald Trump’s nominee for U.S. Attorney General, ultra conservative Alabama U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions are underway.
U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-WA), the third ranking Democrat in the senate—who told PubliCola she has serious concerns about the Trump nominees (such as fast food CEO Andrew Pudzer) who are specifically going through the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions committee, where she’s the ranking Democrat, has also been vocal about her opposition to Sessions, who she has seen in action as a fellow U.S. senator.
Murray was quoted in the D.C. publication The Hill
"I’ve seen him vote against the Violence Against Women Act, the Voting Rights Act, and hate crimes legislation," Murray said in a Facebook post. "And for these reasons and more, I have major concerns with his nomination to this position and am not sure what I could hear in this confirmation process that would allow me to support it."
2. I missed this news in mid-December (reported by the diligent Capitol Hill Seattle Blog, of course) that the Seattle Department of Transportation’s $24 million, half-mile streetcar extension on Broadway has been put on hold. The extension would take the line from the current Seattle U. stop that’s just south of Denny, north to Harrison and then Roy; it would also extend the protected bike lane north along Broadway.
The Capitol Hill Chamber of Commerce board doesn’t like the project because the design, particularly the extended bike lane, would hurt delivery access to businesses.
SDOT’s ultimate vision, after winning a $75 million federal grant and $21 million in last year’s budget for the “Center City Connector” street car, is to link up the South Lake Union street car with the First Hill street car through downtown, ultimately connecting Fairview on South Lake Union through downtown out to Broadway and Roy.
Asked about the Capitol Hill Chamber’s resistance to the plan, SDOT’s transit director Andrew Glass Hastings told Fizz yesterday:
“While we are sensitive to the chamber’s opinions, they aren’t the only stakeholders on the Hill. We look forward to engaging all the stakeholders later this year.”
Another stakeholder is the Capitol Hill Community Council.
SDOT identified the Capitol Hill Champion, a pro transit oriented development group that’s focusing on the mixed-use development at the Broadway light rail stop, as a stakeholder, but a co-chair of the group, which is a joint project of the Capitol Hill Chamber and the community council, Brie Gyncild, says the group is not a stakeholder on the project.
Gyncild tells Fizz: "at SDOT's request, we met with them several times last year to talk about the streetscape design for the proposed streetcar extension. We neither endorsed nor opposed the extension, and we repeatedly told SDOT that we were not the people they should be meeting with regarding streetscape design further north on Broadway, as our purview is very limited. I believe SDOT recorded our meetings as stakeholder outreach, which is probably why you were told we were stakeholders."
SDOT does believe that the group is a stakeholder.
It's worth noting that the Broadway extension was not originally generated by SDOT. The idea emerged from the Capitol Hill community itself, including the chamber, which said the First Hill Streetcar would miss an opportunity if it didn't go through the heart of the Broadway business district.
Certainly don't expect SDOT to fall on its sword over this issue. While SDOT's got $10 million in a federal grant lined up for the project and would look for about $10 million more from a business district Local Improvement District (LID tax), if the stakeholders ultimately don't want to link up to the ID and Pioneer Square and Downtown and SLU, I'm sure SDOT would let them hang out by themselves.
3. Speaking of light rail stops: Sound Transit is in the middle of its busker pilot project at the Capitol Hill and Husky Stadium stations.
Fill out a survey on the program here: https://www.surveygizmo.com/s3/3187324/Busker-survey
4. As I reported yesterday, the city council’s arts committee will hear recommendations from the Seattle Arts Commission today about ways to enforce safety at DIY arts spaces without financially jeopardizing the venues.
5. After Republicans in the state legislature failed last year to pass a bill that would undo Washington state’s longstanding antidiscrimination rules by barring transgender people from using the bathroom that matches their gender identity, social conservative activists tried to take the issue to the voters. They failed to gather enough signatures to place the issue on the ballot, though.
The group, Just Want Privacy, is trying again. Yesterday, they filed a similar initiative, which would also require public schools to prevent transgender students from using the restroom that matches their gender, and, if available, force them to use a separate restroom altogether—a policy that, nationally, has been thrown out by the courts.
The group that successfully campaigned against the ballot signature drive last year, Washington Won’t Discriminate, issued a press release:
“Washingtonians sent a clear message last year – we won’t discriminate,” said Seth Kirby, a transgender man and Chair of Washington Won’t Discriminate. “Voters didn’t buy the pitch that repealing our state’s non-discrimination protections for transgender people would somehow make us safer. Washingtonians value fairness and equality and we believe that everyone in our state should be able to earn a living, frequent a business, earn an education, and raise a family free from the fear of discrimination.”
Meanwhile, playing the victim by using the standard social conservative spin that, in fact, transgender people are attempting to take away cisgender rights, a group of GOP house members have filed a bill in the house again this year that says: “nothing in the state civil rights act…prohibits a public or private entity from limiting access to a private facility segregated by gender to a person if the person is preoperative, nonoperative, or otherwise has genitalia of a different gender from that for which the facility is segregated.”