Morning Fizz

Failed to Implement

By Morning Fizz June 10, 2010

1. Estela Ortega, executive director of El Centro de la Raza, confirmed that she has been approached to run for Seattle City Council next year, but says she's decided to stay at El Centro, which is in the process of developing a $25-$40 million expansion next door to the Beacon Hill light rail station.

Ortega says she "was approached by a number of people," including longtime campaign and community organizer Ruth Woo, to seek a council seat. Ortega said she was not asked to run against "anybody in particular, but clearly it was going to be targeting a city council member."

The current rumor at city hall is that Ortega was being recruited to run against council member Tim Burgess, who's up for reelection next year.

If you take a cursory look at the fundraising in the 34th District intramural between Democratic opponents Joe Fitzgibbon, Mike Heavey, and Marcee Stone, things look pretty even with Stone at $18,600, Heavey at $16,900, and Fitzgibbon at $14,500.

But a closer look shows that Marcee Stone has fallen far behind in the cash on hand department. With her expenditures (mostly on consulting) totaling nearly $16,000, Stone is below $2,000, putting her in a distant third behind Heavey, who's leading, and Fitzgibbon.

May campaign finance reports are due today. We'll report back.

Footnote on the 34th race—Stone and Fitzgibbon have been scoring the big endorsements (Stone got the 34th District nod, Fitzgibbon got the Washington Conservation Voters endorsement, and the pair both got the Washington State Labor Council Endorsement), but Heavey, 30, scored a surprise this week getting the sole endorsement of the King County Young Democrats. Fitzgibbon, who's 23, had been exciting young voters.

The city auditor's office just released its final report on implementation of the recommendations from an August 2008 audit on the city's response to hate crimes. That audit made 17 recommendations to improve the city's response to bias attacks.

The report found that the city had implemented nine of the recommendations, partly implemented three, and failed to implement five. Among the changes that have been implemented: Getting officers to check off the "bias" box on police reports, collecting incident data on hate attacks, and educating officers on "cultural norms" for different communities in Seattle.

Among those that haven't been implemented yet: improving bias crime reporting, providing victim assistance to victims of hate crimes, and using non-police city agencies for outreach in the community.

4. Earlier this week, we reported
on Sen. Patty Murray's effort to raise the cap (and even do away with the cap) on economic liability for oil companies when it comes to oil spills. (Rossi has yet to tell us where he stands on doing away with the cap.)

However, we also noted that she and her Democratic allies tried to pass the bill on "Unanimous Consent" only to be thwarted by Republicans.

We probably should have explained that  because it looks to us like the effort is a campaign year ploy rather than an earnest effort. "Unanimous Consent"—a procedure that allows legislators to pass a bill without formally voting or vetting it through all the committee hearings and parliamentary standards— is typically reserved for non-controversial or uncomplicated bills and appointments as a time saving measure. It only takes one member to stop it, though, by objecting. Thus the campaign year trap.

The liability cap—perhaps not so controversial right now since public outrage at BP is soaring—is nonetheless a complicated matter and shouldn't be passed in haste. (Even liberal Sen. Maria Cantwell's raised some questions about it to us.) However, Democrats like Sen. Murray can simply hype the fact that they're trying to stick it to BP and that the GOP stopped them.

We asked Murray's office about this and here's what they told us:
"[New Jersey Democratic Sen. Robert] Menendez, Murray and the other co-sponsors are trying to get this done by unanimous consent because that is the fastest way for a bill to pass. Every day the liability cap remains in place is another day Washington state taxpayers risk being on the hook for big oil’s mistakes. If Republicans continue to obstruct passage, however, all options remain on the table. And Senator Murray is going to keep fighting for this bill to pass and to make sure big oil companies are held responsible for paying the full costs of cleaning up their messes."
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