Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. The state senate Republicans aren't the only ones flexing their muscles in Olympia. Over on the house side, the Republicans are bringing it this morning:

Despite their minority status (55-43), the house GOP is expected to bring a batch of proposed rule changes to the floor for debate today, including a proposal that the house must pass an education budget separately before taking up the rest of the general fund budget (an idea they've been hyping since Day One this session); and a rule that it would take a two-thirds majority to even bring a tax increase to the floor. (Currently, according to Tim Eyman rules, it takes two-thirds to pass a tax increase.)

Fizz expects two of the lawyers in the Democratic house caucus—Reps. Laurie Jinkins (D-27, Tacoma) and Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), both of whom are fighting the Eyman rule in the Washington State Supreme Court—to bring game as well.

The house GOP is expected to bring a batch of proposed rule changes to the floor for debate today.

As for fully funding education first, house Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Ross Hunter (D-48, Medina) has said the state would have to raise revenues to make that work—or else social services and health care would see dramatic cuts.

2. The kinda-regular "Politicos Mixer"—$5 at the door for all-you-can-eat-and-drink beer and wine and pizza—brought the usual flacks out yesterday after work to the South Lake Union Discovery Center: Mike McGinn (and Rodney Tom!); consultant John Wyble; Moxie Media guru Lisa MacLean; Jay Inslee's winning campaign communications director Sterling Clifford; and former Greg Nickels staffer-turned-political-consultant Emelie East, for example.

It also brought out mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck (also a consultant, by the way, most recently for the Port of Seattle's anti-arena campaign and for the nearby Cascade neighborhood's fight against height increases in SLU.)

The "loose rule," according to one attendee who texted Fizz is "Staff and consultants only—no candidates." Their footnote: "But of course Peter Steinbrueck here."

The ubiquitous Peter Steinbrueck

Steinbrueck, the former city council member who officially jumped into the mayor's race in December, has been ubiquitous at local political events for the last several months.

3.  Another text from the politicos mixer: the rumor going around was "People saying Ron [Sims] for port commissioner."

That report, though, came with an addendum: "Ron thing maybe just wishful thinking by mayoral campaign employees." 

4. Seattle state Rep. Gerry Pollet (D-46, N Seattle) is trying again.

Last year, you'll remember, Pollet tried to pass legislation to rein in towing fees, but he ran into trouble with his own colleagues at Seattle city hall who didn't like that the bill A) capped rates ($270 an hour) higher than average towing rates nationwide (such as $100 an hour in New York City) and B) preempted cities from opting out and negotiating their own rates based on local data about towing charges and costs. 

The bill failed and over the summer and Seattle City Council member Nick Licata passed legislation that  capped rates at $180  for the first hour and $130 every subsequent hour. The towing industry has since sued the city.

Pollet's new version sets the same artificially high cap as last year—135 percent of the maximum hourly rate (which, again, works out to about $270 an hour in Seattle). But it doesn't preempt cities from setting their own rates if they can reach a deal with towing companies locally.

We did a Cola "One Question" with Pollet after Licata's bill passed last year, asking Pollet if he would reintroduce the statewide cap and if his bill would respect Seattle's own cap.

In part, Pollet told us:

There's nothing off the table about having a statewide protection and having the city's ordinance stay in effect at the same time. It is all about negotiation and what the industry is willing to accept.

5.  Seattle Human Services Department director Dannette Smith announced yesterday that the city has awarded $14.3 million to 25 agencies serving homeless and formerly homeless Seattle residents. The bulk of the money, about $9.9 million, is going to shelter, transitional and permanent housing, and other housing-related resources; $3.3 million will pay for day services like the Mary's Place women's day center; and $1.1 million will go to programs aimed at housing stability, re-housing women who become homeless, and preventing homelessness. 

Nine programs that sought funding were turned down; another four, including SHARE, were given contracts for a six-month probationary period.

One of the programs that got funded stood out because its ranking—3.5 on a scale of 1 to 10, as determined by a panel that interviewed the organizations—was far below that of any other program that received funding. That program is a shelter run by SHARE, the controversial homeless advocacy group that runs several overnight shelters and founded Tent City. SHARE has historically refused to participate in King County's HMIS system, also known as Safe Harbors, arguing that it violates homeless people's right to privacy. 

Smith said the committee that ranked the programs decided to fund SHARE's shelter in part because "We're trying to move them forward. When I first got here, we had real problems with SHARE and our HMIS system. They did not want to report their data. Once they understood what our intent was, they began to share the right data with us." 

Nine programs that sought funding were turned down; another four, including SHARE, were given contracts for a six-month probationary period.

6. And WTF?: The intern did her first post yesterday and got 499 Facebook shares and 481 tweets?