1. The Metropolitan Democratic Club of Seattle held a congressional candidate debate at Seattle City Hall last night for the pack running in the newly drawn 1st Congressional District, which stretches from the Microsoft suburbs north to Canada. (The current incumbent, Democratic US Rep. Jay Inslee, is running for governor, and six Democrats are going for the open seat along with three Republicans.)[pullquote]Goodman called Obama's stimulus package "anemic" and called for a new "massive" FDR-style infrastructure package.[/pullquote]
Five of the Democrats were on hand last night along with one brave and courteous Republican, James Watkins, who joked about not having horns and brought "Ross Perot" charts showing that rich people paid the biggest percentage of federal income taxes while calling for a flat tax. Liberal candidate Darcy Burner, complaining that "the guy who is hard at work tonight cleaning the upper floors of this building should not be paying a higher tax rate than Mitt Romney," because it's "backwards," challenged Watkins' chart by pointing out "that rich people get almost all of the income."
Our Twitter feed of the debate with some of the choice quotes—including former state rep Laura Ruderman on the progressive dues system at her synagogue and current state rep Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland) on being embarrassed by the American government—is here (Seattle Times reporter Jim Brunner's is here), and we'll have a fuller report later.
But what struck Fizz most about the debate—in addition to Watkins' endorsement of liberal social engineering re: getting people to make smart transit choices such as biking to work, which is how he commutes to his job as a business development consultant—was how generic the two presumed front-runners in the room, Darcy Burner and Suzan DelBene, sounded compared to state Rep. Goodman and Ruderman. Those two stole the show, speaking in compelling specifics. Ruderman talked about net metering laws, aluminum co-generation, solar panel tax breaks, alternative fuels for airlines, and including gay marriage in immigration reform. And Goodman spoke about the need for infrastructure jobs bill, a foreclosure mediation bill, and a path-to-citizenship credit and incentive bill.
We shouldn't be surprised, though. Both Goodman and Ruderman (who's a champion fundraiser, by the way, leading the group with $182,000 raised so far) come with legislative experience—and they both effectively drew on it to answer questions about foreclosures, taxes, economic recovery, Iran, and immigration last night.
Goodman, in fact, claimed to be one of the most "efficient" legislators in "in the United States" by passing the most bills as a percentage of those he's introduced. "And they're important bills," he said, "I don't waste people's time," citing tough DUI reform bills, domestic violence bills, and legislation to start universal pre-school.
Goodman also won the battle to be the most lefty candidate in the room, even with progressive leader Burner there deriding Congress as an institution that's "rigged for the very wealthy and Republicans."
Goodman called Obama's stimulus package so "anemic" that it's "giving stimulus a bad name" and called for a new "massive" FDR-style infrastructure stimulus like the one that's in play in Olympia. He also wants to get rid of the morning prayer in the state legislature because it makes him "squirm"; said the mantra of "securing our borders is a myth" thanks to the drug war, adding that we shouldn't close the border anyway because encouraging immigration is the way the economy works best; said immigration is biased toward "immigrants with lighter skin"; and blamed the current repressive regime in Iran on past US foreign policy where we have been "merchants of arms."
(Goodman is also on Ruderman's heels in terms of fundraising, having pulled in $162,000. He only has $60,000 on hand, though, while Ruderman has $150,000.)
The only other Democrat with legislative experience in the field, State Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), wasn't there. He was in Olympia.
2. Erica C. Barnett will be on KUOW later this morning on Weekday with Steve Scher reviewing this week's top stories. Tune in at 10, 94.9 FM.[pullquote]Opponents of tax breaks for development in South Lake Union argued that job growth in the neighborhood has failed to keep up with targets.[/pullquote]
3. Opponents of increased density and tax breaks for development in South Lake Union argued at the city council's land use committee Wednesday that job growth in the neighborhood has failed to keep up with targets, and that estimates for actual growth in the neighborhood have overstated the rate of job creation.
Specifically, they objected to data from the city's Office of Economic Development and a city consultant concluding that the number of jobs in South Lake Union has increased by 5,400, or 13,500, jobs, respectively. Those estimates, critics of the estimates say, were based on the increase in office space in South Lake Union, not the actual number of jobs in the neighborhood. According to data from the Puget Sound Regional Council, the number of jobs in South Lake Union has actually declined since 2000---from more than 21,000 in 2000 to just over 18,000 in 2010.
In addition to contradicting the two city reports, SLU density opponents are disagreeing with a 2010 report finding that job growth in the neighborhood has dramatically exceeded projections.
4. Mayor Mike McGinn is headed to Olympia today to testify in support of a bill to crack down on sites selling underage sex ads, like Backpage.com. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles is sponsoring a bill which would require web sites running escort ads—like Backpage—to perform in-person ID checks on anyone posting an ad.
5. The Maple Leaf Community Council met Wednesday night to talk about a proposal to add transit-oriented development at Northgate. Although Fizz didn't make the meeting (we were at the congressional candidate debate), onetime city council candidate David Miller, chair of the Maple Leaf Community Council's transportation and land use committee, previewed the proposal in the neighborhood's newsletter earlier this week. After warning darkly that the proposal could bring "thousands of new residents" to the neighborhood, Miller wrote that a poorly done development at Northgate could "mean the beginning of the end for livability and quality of life in the Maple Leaf neighborhood."