Morning Fizz

Here's Where It Gets Weird

By Morning Fizz August 23, 2010

1. State Sen. Jean Berkey (D-38, Everett) has fallen down to third place in last week's top-two primary. She's being bested by progressive Democratic insurgent Nick Harper (here's a PubliColaTV interview with Harper) and conservative Republican Rodney Rieger.

Unions had vowed to take out Berkey in the primary after Berkey voted for state worker furloughs and, as banking committee chair, killed a move to repeal a $50 million loophole for big banks. Forming a political committee called Stand Up for Citizens, the Washington State Labor Council and the Service Employees International Union poured money into pro-Harper and anti-Berkey independent expenditures, nearly $200,000 against her and $100,000 for him.

Rieger also benefited from independent expenditure money. A political committee called Cut Taxes PAC did an anti-Berkey mailer.

Here's where it gets weird, though: The same Democratic political consultant, Moxie Media, that did the TV and mail for Stand Up For Citizens, also did the mailers for Cut Taxes PAC.

Cut Taxes PAC hasn't yet disclosed who paid Moxie to do the work. (The Public Disclosure Commission only shows that Cut Taxes PAC owes Moxie about $5,000 for a mail campaign.)

It's widely assumed that union money funded Cut Taxes PAC—a sly political play to bring out Republican voters in the majority blue district, boosting Rieger's numbers to oust Berkey in the primary.

The move has pissed off the Democratic senate caucus. Under pressure from a progressive coalition, including the unions, Berkey voted for $757 million in tax increases during this year's session—only to get hit by the Cut Taxes PAC (presumably the same people who pushed for tax increases) in the primary election. The relationship between the unions and Democratic Senate leadership is likely to be toxic next session.

Rieger is beating Berkey by 19 votes. There are about 5,000 votes left to be counted.

In a comedic side note: The Seattle Times published an editorial that went up online Thursday (and ran in Friday's print edition), using the 38th race to extol the virtues of the top-two primary, in which, they assumed, two Democrats (both better fits for the 38th) would go through.  [Correction: We'd originally reported that the Times published on Saturday, making fun of them for missing the latest numbers. That wasn't accurate.]

2. Despite city budget director Beth Goldberg's statement in March that the city planned to continue "maintenance hiring" of police officers during the ongoing budget crisis at the city, so that the total number of officers won't go down, a recent memo produced by city council central staff shows that the total number of officers at the city has, in fact, declined this year. Mayor Mike McGinn and the council have agreed to forgo hiring 21 new officers that are needed to fully implement the city's neighborhood policing plan until the economy rebounds.

McGinn's spokesman Aaron Pickus clarified after this post was written that Police Chief John Diaz has pledged not to let the number of sworn officers fall below 1,329. "[I]f we sense that there will be more than 20 separations between now and year’s end, including student officers and/or recruits, we would hire in anticipation of losses beyond that number, with the goal of hiring up to the authorized/funded number of 1,329," Diaz wrote in an August 4 memo.

According to the report,
"The [Police] Department has ceased sworn hiring. As a result, it is now projected to lose 13 more officers than it replaces with new hires in 2010. The impact of this decline probably will be felt in a decline in positions in service by mid-2011."

Last year's projections showed 49 new recruits entering police academy training this year; however, only 15 recruits have entered the academy so far this year, and none are expected to enter for the rest of the year. Additionally, the city expected SPD to hire 11 officers from other jurisdictions; however, SPD is on track to hire just five such officers this year. As a result of the hiring shortfall, SPD will have just 1,330 filled sworn officers at the end of 2010, rather than the 1,348 that were projected, the council report concludes.

3. Over at the PI.com, reporter Chris Grygiel found some oddities in the latest SurveyUSA poll that has Dino Rossi beating U.S. Sen. Patty Murray 52 to 45.  Most notably, the poll says the two are tied in Seattle 48 to 48. But as Grygiel points out:
In King County ... Murray ran up huge numbers on Rossi. She won 59 percent to 27 percent, prevailing by more than 120,000 votes.
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