Morning Fizz

"That's Not Being Cute. I'm Being Completely Frank."

By Morning Fizz November 16, 2010

1. State attorney general Rob McKenna will respond to state Sen. Pam Roach's request for an opinion on whether initiative proponent Tim Eyman's Initiative 1053 bars the state Transportation Commission from raising ferry rates without legislative approval sometime next week.

McKenna has already written an informal response to Roach's request that strongly implies the commission does, in fact, have that authority. (Eyman stood up at a commission meeting yesterday and railed against the 2.5 percent rate increase they proposed, calling commissioners "unelected bureaucrats" with no authority to set ferry rates).

In the letter, McKenna writes:
Yes, the Transportation Commission has the authority to impose or increase fares or tolls without a further vote of the legislature.

Although McKenna notes that 1053 has not yet taken effect---and therefore has no bearing on the commission's authority to impose tolls---a law passed by the legislature after the passage of Eyman's I-960, which had similar language to 1053, "delegates to the Transportation Commission the authority to set toll rates [and] fares for ferries."

2. Continuing her "I heard the voters" jag, Gov. Chris Gregoire is expected to announce a moratorium on government agency rule making today. (Evidently, despite the fact that Democrats remain firmly in control of the state legislature and rejected three privatization measures, Gregoire heard Washington State voters say they want less government.)

Typically, agencies write rules to make good on recent legislation. For example, two rules currently pending (that would be escorted to limbo if Gregoire goes with a moratorium) are: A Department of Ecology rule to follow through on the toxic toys legislation by establishing definitions and labeling requirements and a Department of Labor & Industries rule to pay the prevailing wage on public work projects.

3. Rumors are swirling about potential city council candidates for 2011---in particular, candidates who are reportedly being recruited by Mayor Mike McGinn. We called the folks whose names we've heard in circulation; here are their responses.

•Chuck Ayers, head of Cascade Bicycle Club: "I have been approached, but I haven't put a lot of thought into it."(Ayers wouldn't say who approached him, allowing only that "it's a group of citizens.")

Cary Moon, tunnel opponent and founder of the People's Waterfront Coalition, rumored to be running against Tim Burgess: "I am not planning on running. People keep asking me that question, but I'm not planning to run. And that's not being cute; I'm being completely frank."

•David Hiller, policy director for Cascade Bicycle Club: "I am not. Under no circumstances. There are lots of qualified people in Seattle who could run, and some of them are on the council already."

Tim Killian, the mayor's liaison to the city council: "I'm not running for council. The rumor's been swirling for a while. I'm happy where I'm at and I have no plans to run."

4. Now that super-lib U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) has been voted out, it's apparently up to his ally U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (they were the main Democratic dissidents on the bank bailouts and Wall Street reform) to save your civil liberties.

Cantwell is a a co-sponsor of Feingold's Travelers' Privacy Protection Act which would repeal current law that allows U.S. border guards to indiscriminately search and seize citizens' belongings like laptops and phones without any proof of suspicion. (The ACLU is currently suing over the policy.)

The NYT's lead editorial yesterday called on Cantwell—along with the two other co-sponsors of Feingolds's bill, Sens. Daniel Akaka of Hawaii and Ron Wyden of Oregon—to press the issue.

5. Mayor Mike McGinn's spokesman, Aaron Pickus, just got back to us on questions about what outreach the mayor had done with residents and businesses in the neighborhood before announcing that Nickelsville, the homeless tent encampment, would be moving there. (Pickus has been on vacation in Germany---lucky!---and the mayor's temporary spokeswoman, Katherine Schubert-Knapp, could not respond to any of PubliCola's questions).

Pickus' response, in short: The mayor's office hopes the Lake City community will be understanding about the need for winter shelter in a city where nearly 2,000 homeless people were sleeping on the street during the most recent count of the unsheltered homeless. "With harsh weather approaching, we had to make a quick decision on how to best support safe, temporary shelter for Nicklesville residents," Pickus said. "Lake City has generously hosted tent cities in the past." Judging from the angry response from Lake City businesses (though by no means a majority of Lake City residents), they might not be feeling so generous this time around

6. Craig Benjamin, the former Sierra Club staffer who just left to take a job as communications director for the Environmental Priorities Coalition, did not return a call for comment.

7. The Fizz hyped local Democratic operative Kelly Steele last spring when he went off to do the communications work for U.S. Sen. Harry Reid's reelection campaign. We warned the cocky Tea Party crowd that despite Reid's lousy numbers, their No. 1 target now had a winner (and brawler) on his side.

It's official: The Washington Post's vaunted political blog, The Fix,  has now given Reid its "Best 2010 Campaign" award.

Picking up on Steele's strong suit (we politely said back in March that Steele had a "bruising brand of campaign politics", i.e. he's an attack dog) The Post summarizes:
If the positive phase of the Reid campaign wasn't particularly good, the negative end of it was a master stroke.

From the moment Angle officially won the Republican nomination, the Reid team began a systematic negative campaign against her that will go down in history as one of the best ever. Angle was constantly on defense in the fall -- trying to beat back Reid-generated stories about her comments on Social Security, Medicare and just about everything else.

The strategy reflected the simple reality of Reid's political predicament: his only chance to win the race was to turn it into a "devil you know versus the one you don't" choice for voters.

Reid was simply not going to get more popular in the course of the campaign.
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