1. For those of you who don't think Dino Rossi can beat U.S. Sen. Patty Murray in November—Rossi can't get away with dodging abortion rights questions in a federal race; he's already lost statewide twice, and he's veering into Robert Rosencrantz territory; Murray's got ga-billions in the bank ($5.9 million on-hand)—there's actually a good reason for the GOP to throw Rossi at Murray (and by the way, the Fizz has it from a good GOP source that he's in next week): A Rossi challenge will force Murray to spend every last dollar of that $5.9 million, preventing her from kicking cash back to her party to bail out other embattled Democrats, like Sen. Barabara Boxer.
It'd be a smart play by the National Republican Senatorial Committee (and they've certainly been talking to Rossi). And who knows, he's definitely got a better shot than State Sen. Don Benton (R-17) and this crew.
2. At Wednesday night's hearing on the city budget, which faces a shortfall of more than $50 million next year, city council members and Mayor Mike McGinn referred repeatedly to the need for new revenues at the city. Although no one has proposed a specific new tax yet (except the mayor's multiyear seawall bond measure), here are some of the possibilities:
• An increase in the city's business and occupation tax, which currently exempts or provides a break for multiple categories of businesses;
• An increase in the commercial parking tax, which parking lot owners generally pass on to customers;
• Higher fees (or new fees) for city facilities and programs like pools, community centers, and sports fields, perhaps on a sliding scale; or
• Reinstating the "head tax," a $25-per-employee tax, paid by employers, on employees who drive to work alone.
City departments are coming up with menus of potential cuts to solve this year's $15 million midyear shortfall by June, and the council will sign off on next year's final budget in November.
3. Speaking of needing money: Mayor McGinn's plans for light rail to Ballard or across 520 aren't likely to get much-needed federal dollars. Sen. Patty Murray and Sound Transit are still trying to get a third full funding grant agreement from the feds for $600 million to help pay for the 2008 measure to get light rail to Lynwood.
McGinn met with Murray in January and Murray's office tells PubliCola: "[Senator Murray's] advice to him was that he should work with Sound Transit, and they have already identified the corridor that would be most competitive for federal money—Sound Transit II to Lynnwood."
McGinn is on the Sound Transit board, although ST reports that they haven't heard from him in two months. In his office yesterday, McGinn denied that account, telling PubliCola, "Of course we've had multiple meetings with [Sound Transit executive director] Joni Earl to talk about my proposals."
4. City Council member Mike O'Brien, in the unenviable position of heading up one of the council's most boring committees, utilities, wrote a refreshingly self-deprecating blog post yesterday about combined sewer overflows—the total amount of sewage that overflows out of the city's system during big storms.
"On Tuesday, the Seattle Public Utilities and Neighborhoods Committee passed resolution 31201 endorsing the Seattle Public Utilities Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Reduction Plan Amendment," O'Brien wrote. "Exciting, right?"
The post goes on to explain that reducing sewer overflows is good for the environment, but could lead to substantial rate increases: The five-year plan is estimated at $162 million.