Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. February fundraising numbers are in for this year's pack of mayoral candidates. 

Seattle City Council members Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell raised the most money last month: Burgess raised $32,335 and Harrell raised $32,644. Incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn raised the least—$11,362, while former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck raised $16,636 and longshot real estate broker Charlie Staadecker raised $15,922. (Footnote: State Sen. Ed Murray didn't raise any money, but he's prohibited from doing any fundraising while the legislative session is on in Olympia.)

In the all important cash-on-hand category: Murray (who had a big take in December when he was still allowed to raise money) is still in the lead with $78,913. Burgess is next at $73,521. Staadecker is next at $59,696. And McGinn is in fourth at $57,070. Steinbrueck has $25,855 cash on hand and Harrell has the least, $15,077.

Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell raised the most money last month.

Lots of numbers, and we'll take a closer look at contributors (which tell us a lot more) and expenditures—Burgess spent the most ($18,120) and McGinn the least ($4,071)—later. But Fizz's takeaway: Burgess is setting the pace as the best fundraiser; he raised $31,000 the previous month, and has raised the most overall at $165,290.

Neighborhood activist Kate Martin took in few contributions in February, but does not appear to be actively fundraising. 

2. After losing its third director in just four years in January, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington has appointed a new leader: community and union organizer Rachel Berkson, who served most recently as director of Washington Community Action Network, which lobbies for progressive causes at the state level. Previously, Berkson directed the Service Employees International Union Washington State Legislative Council and was an organizer with the populist Working Families Party in New York State. 

After veteran NARAL director Karen Cooper stepped down in 2009, she was followed in rapid succession by Lauren Simonds (2009-2011), interim director Christi Stapleton (2011) and Jennifer Brown, a longtime advocate for low-income immigrants.

3. At a council briefing yesterday morning, Merrick Bobb, the independent monitor appointed by a federal court to oversee reforms at the Seattle Police Department, expressed relief that there has been "more collaboration and willingness to talk through" the proposed monitoring plan, which both the mayor and DOJ approved last week. However,  a few hours later, both Seattle Police Officers Guild and the Seattle Police Management Association announced they were suing the city to stop the monitor's plan from going forward.

A federal judge is set to consider the plan later today; and at a special meeting tomorrow night, the city council will hold a public hearing on the 15 mayoral appointees to the Community Police Commission, which will oversee the implementation of the monitoring agreement.

City Council public safety committee chair Bruce Harrell said the council could vote to approve the commission members as early as tomorrow night.

The ACLU opposes the bill on the grounds that it relies on locking kids in jails where they'll come into contact with gang members instead of getting them in early intervention programs. 

4. City council member Mike O'Brien expressed concerns during yesterday morning's council briefings meeting about pending legislation in Olympia, supported by King County Prosecutor Dan Satterburg, that would make it easier for courts to lock up juveniles convicted of unlawful possession of firearms. Essentially, the bill sets mandatory minimum sentences for various gun-possession crimes committed by juveniles and takes away some of judges' current ability to reduce penalties for juvenile gun possession.

"My understanding is that locking up kids who own guns for longer and longer times ... I don't know that there's any evidence that that solves the problem we're trying to solve here," O'Brien said this morning. 

The ACLU and other social justice groups oppose the bill on the grounds that it relies on a failed strategy of locking kids up in jails where they'll come into contact with gang members instead of early intervention and prevention.

In a letter to legislators letter to which O'Brien said he was considering signing on—ACLU lobbyist Shankar Narayan wrote that the proposal "spends large amounts of money on ineffective incarceration and too-little-too-late 'intervention,' when the right approach would be to spend on community-based prevention strategies that keep youth away from violence in the first place."

5. The ACLU is also concerned about another piece of gun control legislation in Olympia—legislation that passed the house yesterday afternoon 87-11.

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol), requires involuntary treatment for people who have had felony charges dismissed because they are deemed incompetent to stand trial. Proponents say the bill, which adds a stricter burden of proof for the state, addresses these rare "felony flips" that can lead to dangerous situations.

The ACLU contends that the bill sidesteps legal standards for civil commitment. "The legislature should not cut away the constitutionally required safeguards that accompany such a significant deprivation of liberty," ACLU lobbyist Narayan says, referring to a provision in the bill that authorizes six months' confinement.

6. Speaking of Rep. Pedersen's push for gun control: his universal background checks bill hung in the balance yesterday afternoon as he tried to round up last-minute votes. The bill did not come to the floor (while other gun control bills such as the "felony flips" bill did) as Pedersen and Democratic leadership reportedly worked on getting two extra votes the bill needs.

Pedersen has until tomorrow afternoon to pass the bill out of the house before the latest legislative cutoff.