Morning Fizz

An Apparent End Run Around Mayor McGinn

By Morning Fizz August 10, 2010

1. PubliCola got a copy of the Tom Rasmussen proposal we wrote about yesterday to create a special transportation benefits district to pay for city street infrastructure and bike and pedestrian improvements. The legislation is an apparent end run around efforts by Mayor Mike McGinn to use a transportation benefits district to pay for his own priorities, such as light rail. The city has also talked about using a TBD to pay for improvements on the downtown waterfront as part of the viaduct replacement process.

The proposal would turn the entire city of Seattle into a transportation district governed by the city council and with the city's finance director as treasurer. The district would then impose a $20 vehicle license fee on every vehicle in Seattle, to be spent "preserv[ing] and maintain[ing]...the district's transportation infrastructure; and enhancing bicycle and pedestrian mobility within the district." The council estimates the fee would raise just under $7 million a year.

The council would also come up with potential future ballot measures to pay for other transportation improvements, including, potentially, a sales tax, a larger vehicle-license fee.

2. In more summer wedding news (yesterday's Fizz had a report on state treasurer Jim McIntire's Olympic Sculpture Park wedding and a list of the politicians in attendance)—here's one better: Fizz has been invited to a wedding coming up later this month to which both former mayor Greg Nickels and current Mayor Mike McGinn were invited. We hope we're at that table.

3. Speaking of Nickels, spotted at City Hall yesterday: Consultant (and former Nickels liaison to the city council) Emilie East. East was meeting with city council members on behalf of the Yellow Pages Association, the lobbying group for the yellow pages companies. Council member Mike O'Brien has proposed legislation that would increase regulations and impose a license fee on phone-book companies, making it easier for citizens to "opt out" of receiving unwanted phone books.

4. PubliCola got a call yesterday from a Republican voter in the 47th (and a self-described Cola fan) who took issue with our endorsement of state Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-47, Covington, Black Diamond, Kent, Renton Higlands). It's not that the caller gave us flack for the Simpson endorsement. They took issue with the fact that we ignored GOP challenger Nancy Wyatt, the president of the Auburn Chamber of Commerce, while identifying the other Republican challenger, Mark Hargrove, as Simpson's main competition.

Point well taken. We've done some more checking. And while we're not too enamored of Wyatt—her rap about the legislature increasing taxes on small business is completely inaccurate—it is true that she's raised more money ($37,000 to Hargrove's $24,000), has way more donors (she has 100-plus more donations than Hargrove),  and has a more impressive endorsement list than Hargrove (AG Rob McKenna, all the King County Council Republicans, the Association of Washington Business, and the Mainstream Republicans of Washington.) Hargrove has a paltry list of endorsements, including just one elected official, outcast state Sen. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn).

The caller also pointed out that Wyatt signs are everywhere in the district. Hargrove. Not so much.

Simpson has raised $169,000 with about 100 more donations than Wyatt.

Re: Wyatt's tax rhetoric that's bugging us so much: The legislature actually doubled the small business tax credit to offset the B & O increases.  The $740 million in new taxes—only about 8 percent of a budget fix which included $5 billion in cuts—focused on big business and closing corporate loopholes.

5. Apologies for filing yesterday's Afternoon Jolt a little late. (Afternoon Jolt, Morning Fizz's sister column, is our daily take on the day's political winner and loser.)

In case you  missed it, yesterday's verdict: Loser, the city of Seattle/Winner, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee.
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