1. You'll remember last month that the pro-tunnel campaign filed an ethics complaint against the anti-tunnel camp, accusing them of not reporting expenditures for a focus group.
In its July 27 complaint, Let's Move Forward wrote:
...Missing from the most recent disclosure reports are expenditures for focus groups the Mayor commissioned in June. These focus groups were referenced by Joni Balter in the Seattle Times, and independently confirmed by participants who alerted the Lets Move Forward campaign.
The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission dismissed the complaint because they couldn't find any evidence that the anti-tunnel group (nor Mayor Mike McGinn's shop for that matter) ran a focus group.
Fair enough. Neither could we.
But Fizz did track down a woman who participated in a focus group on McGinn and the tunnel, and it's fascinating stuff. (She took detailed notes and shared them with Fizz.) The focus group, held on Monday, June 14 at the US Bank Building in Downtown Seattle, was run by a firm called Consumer Opinions, and they grilled the 13 participants (fairly evenly split re: gender and age) on Mayor McGinn.
Just as you picture a focus group—"obviously run to benefit some political entity," our tipster says—there was someone watching the discussion (which was run by one monitor)---from behind one-way glass. Our source also says the group was not hit with any "leading questions."
Asked to rate McGinn "Excellent," "Very Good," "Good," or "Poor"—eight people voted "Poor" and five people voted "Good."[pullquote]Most people thought McGinn sounded defensive and no one was aware of his support for the education levy.[/pullquote]
The group was also asked to discuss an article that appeared in Crosscut defending the mayor against his bad polling numbers. The group thought the article was "a shameless attempt" to change people's minds about the mayor.
They were also asked to discuss a two-page print out of McGinn quotes and accomplishments. Most people thought McGinn sounded defensive and no one was aware of his support for the education levy. (McGinn worked with the council this year to put a $231 million education levy on this November's ballot, doubling the previous levy).
The group was also asked to say whether they would vote 'yes' or 'no' on the tunnel. Everyone voted yes, but support began to fade when asked how to pay for it and when confronted with specifics about it—such as the fact that there are no downtown exits. The 13 folks ended up discussing McGinn's "obsession" with the tunnel.
The group was also asked about the Seattle City Council. The group split between "Very Good" and "Good," but couldn't name any members except Nick Licata. Asked specifically about Council President Richard Conlin, the group had no opinion. (They were also asked about the King County Council and Council President Larry Gossett and the group drew blanks.)[pullquote]The group split between "Very Good" and "Good," but couldn't name any members except Nick Licata.[/pullquote]
Our tipster "tried to be the last one to leave" and "used the ladies room" so she could linger and see if anyone emerged from the adjoining room behind the glass, but no one showed.
"It could have been anybody," she concluded. "Anyone could be running against the mayor."
She was paid $75 for the hour-plus of her time.
2. July fundraising totals are in for the 2012 governor's race. Rob McKenna raised $340,000 in July, bringing his total raised to $1 million. Jay Inslee raised over $500,000, bringing his total to $1.1 million. (McKenna was slightly ahead last month.)
Inslee has more cash on hand, $985,000 to McKenna's $660,000.
A quick scan didn't turn up any notable names, though Fizz did see someone we hadn't noted last month on McKenna's list of contributors: Tim Eyman's big funder, retired Woodinville investor Mike Dunmire, donated the primary election max of $1,600 in late June.
3. The state Office of Financial Management says Costco's liquor privatization initiative, I-1183, could boost state finances. (The measure would require retailers to send 17 percent of liquor revenues to the state.)
The Seattle Times reports:
The estimate says that, on average, state liquor revenues could increase as much as $42 million a year and local government revenues by as much as $38 million a year over the next six years.
The additional money does not include an estimated one-time gain of $36.4 million from the state's sale of its liquor-distribution center...
4. Bellevue developer, light rail opponent, and Tim Eyman funder Kemper Freeman took to the airwaves on KIRO FM (97.3) yesterday to discuss light rail, his million-dollar expenditure on Tim Eyman's rail- and toll-killing I-1125 (Freeman's contributions make up over 84 percent of the money raised), and why he still doesn't support spending money on transit. Some highlights:
• On the "bad behavior" of Sound Transit: "Everything I do is, I try and think of what does this community want that it doesn't have ... and if I'm right I get to succeed, if I'm wrong I'm dead. This is so different from my friends down at Sound Transit who never have to be accountable for anything they do, which is appalling to me."
• On why he thinks buses are a waste of money: "In Bellevue Square, we have about 50 acres of downtown Bellevue and 10,000 parking stalls. Parking here is free. ... Those stalls cost used to cost about $6,000 apiece. They now cost about $30,000 apiece. There is no one in the world who would benefit more from the promises of Sound Transit and Metro being true than I would. If we could all get about by bus and be happy about it like they promise, I would be the biggest beneficiary because I could stop using my property for free parking and build something else that pays rent. ... If it worked, I'd be all for it. In 1970, transit had a 6 percent market share. This is before the government started the campaign (to force everyone onto buses). Forty-one years later, over 60 percent of our transportation dollars of the government are spent on public transit and we've gone from 6 percent market share per day to about a 3 percent market share."
• On Tim Eyman's I-1125, to which he has contributed $1 million: "The government [wants to] make a tax out of tolling. They want to use tolls for other projects than the one you think you're paying for when you cross the 520 bridge. They want to toll the I090 bridge. … People love to vilify Tim Eyman, but if public officials were doing their jobs, he wouldn't have a job. … With whatever is good or bad about Tim Eyman the thing I would say is best about him is he is the best reader of public opinion in the state. Public officials hate that about him. … I've been around here long enough to know that when the I-90 bridge was built, the toll was 10 cents and it paid for the entire project… and then it stopped. What the government's trying to do and what I-1125 would preclude that having these tolls go on forever."