Morning Fizz

Held Hostage by the Senate

By Morning Fizz March 8, 2010

1. Eric Liu—a well-known writer, former RealNetworks executive, and Bill Clinton adviser, who had planned to challenge state Sen. Adam Kline (D-37)—pulled out of the race last night in front of a "stunned" meeting of the 37th District Democrats, according to District Secretary Tom Karwaki.

Liu had been considered a strong challenger to the 14-year incumbent.

UPDATE: This morning, Liu sent out a press release explaining his decision. He says the campaign was getting in the way of being a dad.
"I have been unable to be both the candidate I want to be and the father I want to be.  At every turn so far, I have been choosing to sacrifice time with my daughter and my family so I can squeeze in one more campaign activity.  A profound imbalance has resulted, even this early in the campaign, and it does not feel right."

2. This year's reorganization of city council committees—an annual tradition—rid the council of one of its more embarrassing committee acronyms, PLUNC (short for the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee). That committee is now the more pleasant-sounding Committee On the Built Environment, or COBE (pronounced Ko-bay) for short.

However, the reorg produced an even more problematic acronym: the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee, or SPUNC.

And the council is still figuring out what to do about the Livable South Downtown plan—LSD for short.

3. The state Senate's proposed capital budget, which passed out of committee yesterday, eliminates $39.5 million in  funding for the Housing Trust Fund, which pays for low-income housing around the state. (The House version earmarks $100 million for the fund.)

According to Anna Markee, outreach director for the Housing Development Consortium, the senate proposal even takes away money that has already been allocated to agencies, but has not been dispersed.

In Seattle, at least six projects will be stopped or canceled if the Senate version passes, including housing for the homeless in Ballard, a home ownership project in Southeast Seattle, and  redevelopment of the Gethsemane Lutheran Church downtown into 50 apartments.

The fund is traditionally held hostage by the Senate because it is one of House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp's (D-43) pet projects.

4. Low-income housing advocates weren't the only ones cheering the House over the Senate in Olympia yesterday. Environmentalists, chagrined over the weekend when the Senate rolled back renewable energy tax incentives, were happy yesterday when the House Finance Chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48) included the $7.8 million exemption for green projects in the House revenue plan.

5. City Council will consider legislation this Wednesday that would rezone a piece of industrial land along 24th Ave. NW and NW Market St. in Ballard to commercial.

Environmentalist and Ballard resident Eric de Place, who works for the Sightline Institute, wrote a letter supporting the change, calling the area between 24th and the Ballard Locks a "dead zone" that is "ripe for more foot traffic."

Industrial interests in Ballard are expected to oppose the change.

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