Morning Fizz

Serious People Using Serious Tactics

By Erica C. Barnett March 25, 2010

Plans by City Light strategic advisors and managers to unionize in response to Mayor Mike McGinn's vow to cut 200 strategic advisor and managerial positions continue to move forward. Last Tuesday, about 40 City Light employees met with representatives from the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees to discuss which employees should be excluded from the union because they're directly involved in labor relations.

More than 70 percent of strategic advisors and managers have signed cards indicating they want to form a union; within the next few weeks, the union will either vote to unionize or be voluntarily recognized by the city. By law, once the workers unionize, the city has to maintain the workers' "status quo"—their current wages, hours, and working conditions that were in place prior to the formation of the union.

2. Former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels—living up to his now-infamous beard—will participate in a protest in Cambridge, MA (his temporary home) next Monday night.

We had a little trouble figuring out what, exactly, the protest was about—the web site for the group, called the Leadership Campaign, describes the protesters as "serious people using serious tactics to call for serious solutions to a serious problem" —but we eventually ascertained that Nickels et al were protesting for clean energy. Or, as Nickels' wife Sharon commented sardonically on his Facebook page, "Being a radical in another state. Hmmmm."

3. The Seattle Transit Blog reports that state Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen (D-10) and state Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-41) asking Gov. Chris Gregoire not to veto an amendment to the state transportation budget requiring transit agencies to hand over transit-only facilities (like the downtown bus tunnel) and park-and-ride spaces to private vans, limos, and buses, they could lose grant money. (The amendment resurrected legislation that would have forced transit agencies to give private companies access to lanes and other facilities currently used exclusively for transit).

The letter notes that private transit agencies (like Microsoft's Connector bus service) would have to ask local jurisdictions for permission to operate in bus-only facilities; what it fails to mention is that if a city refuses to consider requests by private companies "in good faith" (whatever that means), it will lose its ability to get transportation grant funding from the state—hardly a fair or even tradeoff.

4. The Washington Bus, a nonprofit group that works to get young people engaged in progressive politics, is hiring a field coordinator in its Seattle office to do door-to-door canvassing across the state, work on voter registration and GOTV efforts, do fundraising, and recruit and manage volunteers. For a full job description, click here.

5. It seems everyone—including us—was enamored with the Center for Neighborhood Technology's new mapping tool, which adds the cost of transportation to the cost of housing to show the true cost of living in various neighborhoods. However, the smarty-pants wonks at the green Sightline Institute were more skeptical, arguing that one of the tool's basic premises—the idea that "affordability" is a fixed ratio of housing costs to total income—ignores the fact that richer people can afford to spend far more of their (larger) incomes on housing than poor people. The result: The most "affordable" neighborhoods, according to the CNT's tool, are also the ones where people tend to be the poorest. Read the whole smart analysis here.

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