1. We've gotten to the point in the mayor's race when the candidates have to start reporting fundraising on a weekly basis. The reports are in for last week and there are some surprises.
First surprise: Peter Steinbrueck, who's been trailing all the other top contenders in fundraising, raised the most cash last week—$6,865. He's still far behind overall, but he beat Bruce Harrell (who went on a fundraising tear last month, raising $70,000) by $500. Harrell brought in $6,360 last week. Incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn raised the least of the frontrunners, bringing in $4,395. (Footnote: State Sen. Ed Murray is barred from raising money while the legislature is... still... in session.)
Second (Steinbrueck) surprise: Stephanie Solien, a board member at the lefty green non-profit Climate Solutions, contributed $250 to Steinbrueck, undermining the narrative that Steinbrueck is some anti-green antediluvian. (Climate Solutions policy director KC Golden is in D.C. this morning with Mayor McGinn testifying in Congress against the coal train proposal. Golden himself has only contributed to Seattle City Council candidate Mike O'Brien.)
Steinbrueck also got a contribution from all-star activist Dorli Rainey, the pepper-sprayed poster child during Occupy Seattle.
And the final big surprise: Harrell netted some cash from two Vulcan heavies—$700 from Ada Healey and $500 from (former McGinn deputy mayor) Phil Fujii. Both have already given to McGinn, but clearly think Harrell is in play now.
Meanwhile, Charlie Staadecker, the real estate broker who surprised many early on with his fundraising numbers, continues to fade. He raised just $200 last week—$100 of it from family members.
Final fundraising note (also pretty surprising): The independent expenditure committee that formed earlier this month to back Murray has raised just $600, showing only two contributors—including a Mercer Island attorney for $500 of the total.
2. An alarming footnote on this morning's coal hearing in D.C.: Acting Chief for Regulatory Program for the Army Corps of Engineers Jennifer Moyer said, under critical testimony for U.S. Rep. Harry Waxman (D-CA), that the Corps' environmental impact studies would not evaluate the overall impact of the coal exports to China.
3. File this one under "Isn't it Weird That...," but some contrarian info came Fizz's way that disrupted a little theory we had.
People actually felt better about the city four years ago then they do now. One thing we thought differentiated McGinn's situation from former, ousted Mayor Greg Nickels' situation (like Nickels, McGinn shows drooping poll numbers and anecdotally registers harrumphs in coffee shops citywide) was this: Seattle appears to be rocking right now. Cranes everywhere. An anomaly state and citywide with good job numbers. Energy in the streets. Food carts. Bikes. P-patches. Start-ups. It's jumping out there. By contrast, Nickels was up for reelection as the depression of the Great Recession was settling in.
That key difference, we thought, upended the conventional wisdom that McGinn was in a Nickels type jam. But wait, we looked at some polling from the 2009 mayor's race and compared it to polling from this year. And people actually felt better about the city four years ago then they do now.
According to recent SurveyUSA polling (the poll that had McGinn in the lead with Steinbrueck and Murray clawing for second), "right track" "wrong track" numbers are 37 (right track) 41 (wrong track) with 22 undecided.
But June 2009 polling showed that people were in a much better mood: 52 "right track" and 37 "wrong track" with 12 percent undecided.
4. And file this one under "Bigger Than Bracken" ("Bracken"—named after a state Supreme Court case—was the colloquial name of the recent legislation that closed a loophole in the estate tax for $160 million.)
New analysis from the state Department of Revenue shows that between lost revenue and litigation against the state, it will cost the state $1.1 billion over the next two biennia if the loophole isn't closed.
That's the impact of the state house legislation to close a tax break for traditional phone companies—a bipartisan proposal sponsored by house finance chair Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) and Rep. Terry Nealey (R-16, Dayton) to bring in $109 million for the budget this biennium and $131 million next biennium that passed the house 74-22 in the regular session and 74-18 in the first special session.
New analysis from the state Department of Revenue shows that between lost revenue and, more significantly, litigation against the state (from cellular companies that think the exemption is unfair), it will cost the state $1.1 billion over the next two biennia if the loophole isn't closed.
The bill is currently on hold because the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus in the senate —which has never passed the bill—is reportedly holding it up as part of the budget negotiations (the house budget depends on the $109 million in new revenue) until the house agrees to pass the senate's business-friendly workers' comp policy bill, which will make it easier for companies to offer injured workers one-time lump settlements as opposed to ongoing state supervised payouts.