Meanwhile, in Reality

By Erica C. Barnett July 6, 2009


1) In a Facebook conversation about the "head tax"—a $25-per-employee tax, paid by employers, that exempts all employees who don't drive to work alone—political consultant Cindi Laws, who works for mayoral candidate James Donaldson, had some harsh words for those who support the tax, which pays for sidewalks and other transportation improvements. (Laws told me she was speaking only for herself, not for the Donaldson campaign)

"You freaking liberals make me crazy. All I've heard from small businesses and medium businesses is complaining about the tax. The fact the City Council has already identified an alternative funding source for ped safety and that doesn't satiate you indicates you all need a 12-step program to rid yourself of the need to suck at the public trough."

Elsewhere in the conversation, Laws called the tax an "accounting nightmare."

Donaldson supports repealing the tax.

2) In a recent fundraising letter, city council candidate David Ginsberg—running against incumbent Richard Conlin—raised a decade-old issue that apparently will never die: The monorail. The letter reads, in part: "All that was required was an ounce of leadership at City Hall and we would be riding the Monorail's Green Line today. Mr. Conlin was instrumental in obstructing the will of the people as expressed in multiple initiatives supporting the Monorail, and he allowed the project to fail."

Needless to say, that's not exactly what happened.

Ginsberg's campaign finance reports indicate the monorail may not have the resonance it once did. During the week his letter went out (June 15-22), Ginsberg didn't take in a single contribution.

3) A new campaign called Port Reform is attempting to elect a slate of candidates—challengers Max Vekich and Rob Holland, and incumbent John Creighton—to the Seattle Port Commission. Their goal: "to clean up the Port's fraud, waste, and pollution," according to spokeswoman Heather Weiner.

4 ) What evil new development trend could "threaten quiet working space," allow renters to "blast music" while they "peer down at" single-family residents, "rezone the entire city," and "[eliminate] single-family neighborhoods in Seattle"? If your only source of news was the Seattle Times , you might believe that all those things will happen if the city council expands the law allowing backyard cottages (i.e. mother-in-law units) throughout the city.

The Times' article, by Emily Heffter, includes just two paragraphs (and just one four-word quote) from a couple who actually likes their backyard cottage.

Meanwhile, in reality, just 17 cottage apartments have been built since the city passed a law allowing them in Southeast Seattle in 2006.

Interesting side note about the pro-cottage housing family section of Heffter's story: Although presented as original reporting, the wording (with the exception of the fact that the couple are two women, a detail omitted from Heffter's story) is strikingly similar to one of the cottage-housing case studies on the city's web site.

The Times:
Yolinda Ward and her partner built a two-story cottage in the backyard of their large home near Columbia City. They moved in last summer, leaving the big house to a family friend who is Ward's godson, and his wife and their toddler.

The group has dinner together about once a week, and Ward can lean out her living-room window and see her godson's daughter playing in the yard. It's a communal way to live but with privacy, too.

"It's like a treehouse," said Ward.

The city:
“Lynn and I love our little cottage. It’s like a tree house.

Having my godson, his family, and a family friend living in the big house, we find ourselves sharing at least one dinner a week.”

Building a backyard cottage allowed Yolinda Ward and her partner Lynn the golden opportunity to downsize their lives and bring their extended family closer together.

Yolinda and Lynn rented their main house to Yolinda’s godson, his wife and new baby.

In an email, Heffter said she talked to the pair at their house back in April.

This week's Morning Fizz brought to you by Friends of Seattle . 33
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