The Loudest Voice of Dissent

By Morning Fizz December 3, 2009

fizz1. Mayor-elect Mike McGinn's third town hall meeting since the November election, held last night at Rainier Beach High School, was a far more contentious event than the first and second ones. Attendees asked tough questions about McGinn's plans as mayor, including: How did he plan to increase equity between North and South End schools? And what did he plan to do this winter to help homeless people get shelter?

Also: Why did he choose Windermere real estate agent Darryl Smith as deputy mayor, given Smith's controversial history in the South End? Smith, an African American Columbia City resident, opposed a move by social service agency Casa Latina to locate a new day center for migrant workers in the Rainier Valley. Smith's opposition caused tension between the black and Latino communities in the South End. (Casa Latina eventually located in the Central District.)

Smith, who presided over last night's meeting, did not respond to a direct question from an audience member about his appointment as one of McGinn's deputy mayors.

2. In a conversation with PubliCola yesterday, McGinn addressed the fact that his other deputy mayor, Phil Fujii, is currently a high-ranking employee at Vulcan, the controversial developer. Noting that Fujii had previously worked at the city for 24 years, including a lengthy stint under popular Department of Neighborhoods director Jim Diers, McGinn said, "I just think it's a disservice to Phil to focus solely on his time at Vulcan. He spent 24 years at the city ... We're getting him back."

McGinn said Fujii had twice been the second runner-up to direct DON—once when Greg Nickels eventually picked Diers' replacement, Yvonne Sanchez, in 2002— and again when Nickels chose Sanchez's replacement in 2007, Stella Chao.

3. How is Charla Neuman, Joe Mallahan's former spokeswoman, filling her days? Teaching political communications strategy to Cascadia Community College kids, according to her Twitter feed.

[caption id="attachment_20130" align="alignleft" width="350" caption="A supporter of sidewalks on 8th Ave. NE"]A supporter of sidewalks on 8th Ave. NE[/caption]

4. As neighborhood district councils across the city are deciding which sidewalk projects they want built with Bridging the Gap levy money under the just-adopted pedestrian master plan, one—the North District Council—has so many projects in the queue that community members are actively lobbying for  (and against their own) projects.

At last night's North District Council meeting, folks made passionate cases for eight sidewalk projects in north end neighborhoods including Lake City, Maple Leaf, and Pinehurst. One project, Eighth Ave. NE just north of Olympic View Elementary, has more than 300 signatures in support. The council will ultimately pick three projects to forward to the city's department of transportation.

According to a North End insider involved in the discussions, it's  that a project in Lake City connecting hundreds of people to Fred Meyer on 33rd Ave. NE is the most likely candidate for city funding, because it scores high on the criteria for projects funded under the pedestrian master plan—a large number of pedestrians in the area, a large population of seniors, kids and people in wheelchairs, the fact that the community has been pushing this project for a long time, the fact that the project is in the middle of a hub urban village (Lake City), and the fact that there's a lot of multi-family housing nearby.

5. At its meeting last night, the city's Ethics and Elections Commission discussed whether city officials should be allowed to use social media like Twitter and Facebook, and whether their use of social media is subject to the ethics and elections code. (In short, ethics director Wayne Barnett argued: Yes, they should, and no, they're not subject to ethics laws, as long as officials aren't tweeting or writing Facebook updates on city computers or city time).

The loudest voice of dissent? Community activist Chris Leman, who argued vehemently against the recommendation at last night's meeting. City Council member Tim Burgess made note of Leman's on  Facebook (of course), sparking a lively debate in the comments.
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