Morning Fizz

1. The Service Employees International Union 925 and the American Federation of Teachers announced Saturday that they're going to begin collecting signatures for a city ballot initiative that would set a $15 minimum wage for pre-kindergarten and childcare workers. 

Currently, the campaign, Yes4EarlySuccess, says childcare workers and pre-K teachers make an average of $13.93 an hour—and assistants make $11.35.

The campaign is a precautionary measure, the group says, in case the the city, which is currently looking at a universal pre-K funding plan—likely a property tax measure—doesn't include a $15 minimum wage for pre-K workers.

The mayor and the council have also pledged to raise the minimum wage citywide with $15 as the current benchmark. Setting the wage for non-profits and social services is currently under debate.

2. Speaking of initiatives, here's some follow-up to Friday's "Isn't it Weird That" item about an Elizabeth Campbell initiative (Initiative 111) that would undo the caps the city council recently put on ridesharing companies. 

In letters we reported on between Safeway lawyers and Campbell (Safeway told I-111 supporters to stop petitioning on their property), Campbell said I-111 supporters are not circulating the initiative yet because the language hasn't gotten final approval from the city.

It turns out, Campbell's claim that petition isn't on the streets is incorrect. This weekend,  I-111 petitioners were collecting signatures at the Mount Baker Safeway.

The article extends its critique to the property owner, Grandy Lake Forest.

3. Speaking of follow-up, the Seattle Times continues to expose the political dimensions of the tragic mudslide story.

Their latest story, after a piece last week revealed that forest clear-cutting "appears to have strayed into a restricted area," uncovers a 1997 report advising the state Department of Natural Resources to draw larger protective boundaries against logging around the land directly above the site of the slide.

The Times reports:

In 1997, a report commissioned by the state Department of Ecology used “newly developed computational tools” to map the plateau atop the unstable hill outside Oso. That report was prepared by geologist Daniel J. Miller and hydrologist Joan Sias; Miller’s portion drew boundaries for where groundwater could feed into the slope and increase the risks of landslide.

When the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issued logging restrictions later that same year, the agency cited the Miller-Sias report and treated it as state of the art, saying any future study should emulate its methods. But instead of adopting Miller’s map, DNR used boundaries that had been drawn up in 1988.

In 2004, DNR approved the clear-cutting of 7½ acres on the plateau — about 5 of which would have been protected under Miller’s boundaries.

The article extends its critique to the property owner, Grandy Lake Forest. 

Grandy Lake Forest, the owner of that property, finished harvesting the acreage by August 2005. The 7½ acres took the shape of a pizza slice — with its tip just touching the part of the slope that fell away this month, releasing millions of cubic yards of sand, silt and clay.

Paul Kennard, a geologist who was working with the Tulalip Tribes during the 1997 watershed analysis, said he remembers a Grandy Lake representative arguing “very eloquently and hard” to protect the company’s timber interests.

“Everything had to be argued to the nth degree if it involved leaving a stick of timber,” Kennard said.

He could not recall what role, if any, Miller’s report played in the discussions and whether there was serious consideration to redrawing the boundaries. He said there was a feeling that the gains made in 1988 were groundbreaking, and the tribes worried that the timber industry might spend a lot of money fighting to reclaim land if officials had decided to revisit the groundwater boundaries. The tribes saw the system as tilted heavily in favor of timber companies.

“It’s David and Goliath, but you don’t have the slingshot,” Kennard said.

4. Speaking of political dimensions to the devastating mudslide, this weekend, both Gov. Jay Inslee and U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) sent out funding appeals on behalf of the Oso and Darrington communities (asking people to contribute to the United Way and the Red Cross).

While fundraising for the victims of the mudslide is more than appropriate, the appeals were sent from Inslee's and Cantwell's election campaign operations.

We have to agree with the Fizz tipster who forwarded the appeals our way, who questioned if political campaign committee mailing lists are the right way to go about fundraising for the victims of the tragedy in Snohomish County.

5. The city is searching for another new department head.

Learn to trust the Fizz: Last Wednesday, Fizz reported that Erin Devoto, the city's chief technology officer whose $79 million, 200-employee department oversees internal city IT and the city's efforts to expand broadband, which was botched under the previous mayor, was leaving.

On Friday afternoon Mayor Ed Murray and City Council member Bruce Harrell, the chair of the council's technology committee, announced that Devoto was resigning (she's taking a job as Kirkland's public works superintendent), and they're beginning the process to find her replacement; Devoto was made interim director in 2012 and appointed director in 2013.


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