Morning Fizz

Our Goal is to Develop the Sweet Spot

By Morning Fizz October 21, 2010

1. In the Metro union's latest newsletter, the union's research committee chairperson, Clinton DeVoss, predicted unequivocally that the union's negotiations with King County will fall apart, sending its contract into arbitration. (The Metro union is one of only two county unions that has not made wage concessions to help close the county's 2011 budget shortfall; the other is the King County Sheriff's deputies' union. The union has been reluctant to consider reductions to its annual cost-of-living increase next year, and its president has said he would prefer to cut bus service than reduce driver benefits.) DeVoss writes:
"If [King County Council member] Kathy Lambert has her way and King County enacts and follows a regressive 'labor policy,' that does not allow for cost of living adjustments (COLA), step increases, and makes employees pay more of the cost of benefits, our union will be left with very few options available just to keep what we have now.

While no one can make an accurate prediction of what an Arbitrator will rule, the Arbitrator can give us no less than King County’s miserly offer and will likely give us more. Anything is better than nothing, and I would call that at least a partial win!"

The union is currently in the middle of contract negotiations with the county.

2. The Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce is holding its annual conference this week in Suncadia. This year's conference is different than usual. Rather than being an exclusive confab for business types, the chamber invited social service, environmental, and labor leaders to attend as well.

The invite from chamber Senior Vice President of policy Charles Knutson reads:
This year’s conference will be very different from previous years.  We’re focusing on creating a common agenda to grow sustainable jobs and rebuild the economy.  At a minimum, we’re defining sustainable jobs as jobs that improve social justice, improve the environment and improve the bottom line.

By design, the conference will include a cross-section of regional leaders representing labor, environmental groups, government, multicultural groups, business and the education community.  Our goal is to develop the ‘sweet spot’ for regional collaboration on jobs and seek answers to the tough questions: How can we better nurture our strengths, cultivate new opportunities, and invest in education and the workforce?  What are the obstacles to getting there?  And what is our action plan and next steps?

At last night's opening reception in the Owens Room at Suncadia Resort, featured guest Bruce Katz from the Brookings Institute said: "America doesn't know who we are anymore. We are now a metro nation, but we still act like we are a nation of small towns." He went on to point out that cities account for 94 percent of Washington's economy.

His overall theme: America needs to get with it ASAP or it will fall behind China, Brazil, and India. How? By becoming a country that makes things again.

3. City Council members, who are currently in the process of reviewing Mayor Mike McGinn's proposed budget, expressed skepticism yesterday about two aspects of McGinn's human-services budget. First, they expressed strong interest in consolidating, and potentially reducing the number of, city contracts with outside human-service providers as soon as the middle of 2011. "We've been discussing [streamlining human-service contracts] for three years," council member Tim Burgess said. "This is an area where we need to demand more accountability."

The council also seemed reluctant to support McGinn's proposal to add $150,000 to the budget for services to youth immigrants and refugees. Noting that the proposal was vague --- "It does seem to me to be very conceptual at this point," council president Richard Conlin said --- the council seemed inclined to fund immigrant and refugee services through the 2012 Families and Education Levy, rather than the general city budget.

4. Diana Toledo, who's running against Joe McDermott in an effort to fill the King County Council seat that was vacated by Dow Constantine when he was elected King County Executive (former Seattle City Council member has held the seat temporarily since last year), just put out her first TV commercial.

5. King County Council member Reagan Dunn, who's rumored to be gearing up to run for state attorney general in 2012, sent out a newsletter yesterday urging supporters to vote "yes" on ESHJR 4220, a constitutional amendment that would make it easier for judges to deny bail to potentially dangerous defendants accused of violent crimes.

Dunn is the executive director of Remember Lakewood, a group that's supporting the amendment (Lakewood refers, of course, to the shooting of four police officers by Maurice Clemmons, an accused child rapist who had just been released from a Pierce County jail on $150,000 bail.)

6. President Obama is in town campaigning for U.S. Sen. Patty Murray at the U.W. We'll be tweeting his speech live from the press corps box. Follow along here.
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