Extra Fizz

Extra Fizz: A Warning from Inslee, Praise from SEIU, and a Moratorium from Bellevue

Inslee nudges conservation group, Rolf applauds Murray, and Bellevue thwarts cheap rentals.

By Josh Feit and Erica C. Barnett September 25, 2013

1. At yesterday morning's Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition's annual fundraising breakfast, keynote speaker Gov. Jay Inslee, who helped put $65 million toward the park conservationist group's work in this year's budget, praised them for getting kids outdoors and saving lands, but he also took a second to challenge the group's focus. 

“We’re doing tremendous work protecting that space," he said about pristine land like mountain meadows, "but the space is under attack from climate change."

Specifically, Inslee talked about ocean acidification, noting: "All of the work this organization is doing could go for naught if we do not deal with ocean acidification and climate change."

"All of the work this organization is doping could go for naught if we do not deal with ocean acidification and climate change."—Gov. Jay Inslee

2.  In the fight to be the most progressive candidate in the mayor's race, both incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn and challenger state Sen. Ed Murray have touted their labor endorsements. McGinn proudly notes that the service industry hotel and restaurant workers union (UNITE  HERE Local 8) has called him the "most progressive mayor in America" and Murray boasts about his 95 percent lifetime pro-labor voting record after nearly 20 years of roll calls in Olympia.

(We've tallied up their neck-and-neck labor endorsements before—Murray has a slim advantage—and the King County Labor Council, because of a deadlock split, has chosen, so far, not to endorse either candidate.)

One of the loudest and most politically active unions in the state, the 43,000-member Service Employees International Union 775, a major funder of recent liberal agenda ballot initiatives such as the high-earners income tax, marriage equality and fighting against the soda tax repeal, has, to date, remained mum in the mayor's race. (Their sister locals, SEIU Local 6 and SEIU Local 995, have endorsed McGinn.)

So, yesterday, when Murray, with a fast-food "Strike Poverty" activist sitting next to him, announced that as mayor he would push the city to eventually enact a $15 minimum wage—a cause that SEIU 775 has energetically embraced—we asked SEIU 775 President David Rolf what he thought.

He stopped short of endorsing Murray, but whoa:

My first blush reaction: Throughout the campaign, we’ve heard Ed Murray advocate a $15 minimum wage, a concept SEIU strongly supports. He did so at the low-wage worker issues forum that Erica moderated back in June, and again at at least two other candidate forums that we’re aware of.
That being said, unveiling a $15 minimum wage as the centerpiece of a candidate’s economic platform, as he did today, is a courageous and important action. If adopted, a $15 minimum wage would build Seattle’s economy from the middle-out, stimulate the economy, and ultimately help workers and businesses alike. It would reduce demand for social services, create customers for local businesses, promote economic mobility, and potentially help reverse the decade-long out-migration of hourly wage-earners from the city to the suburbs.   
Most importantly, it would allow tens of thousands of low-wage workers in Seattle to live a more dignified life in an era when the stock market is once again at an all-time high, when corporate profits and CEO pay have risen beyond any previous historical level, when income inequality is as great as it was before the Great Depression, but when worker wages have been stagnating or declining since the 1970’s.
But given the generation-long erosion of the middle class and the evisceration of spending power for hourly wage-earners that is now well-documented, all in the service of a flawed theory of “trickle-down” economics that has only benefited the top 1 percent of income-earners, today’s announcement is very significant news in the Seattle’s mayor’s race, as it would be in any political contest anywhere in the country.

3. The Bellevue City Council passed an emergency ordinance last night to prevent people from living in the suburban version of aPodments—single rooms in buildings zoned as single-family houses, mostly in the Spiritwood neighborhood around Bellevue College. The new law will make it illegal for more than four unrelated people to live together in a single-family house.

As we reported earlier this month, the so-called boarding houses are opposed by single-family neighbors who say they're out of scale with the quiet surrounding neighborhood. 

However, as council member Claudia Balducci noted, the emergency law could have major unintended consequences for people already renting rooms in the houses, making their housing situation illegal virtually overnight. The ordinance does include a short grace period, but requires house owners to evict tenants out as their leases run out until they have four or fewer residents, and to be in compliance no later than July 1 of next year.


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