1. With state legislators struggling to come up with a way to find $9 billion ($5 billion needed to meet the Washington State Supreme Court's McCleary K-12 funding mandate plus $4 billion needed to meet the smaller-class-size initiative that voters just passed 50.76 to 49.24), Fizz asked the teachers' union, which bankrolled the $5 million Class Size Counts mandate, if they had any funding ideas for the legislature.
"No," teachers' union spokesman Rich Wood told me when I asked if his WEA was willing to make a specific recommendation.
He added: "If you want a teacher or parent or even a student to explain why smaller class sizes are good for kids, we could help with that."
The Washington State Republican Party—the GOP is now in firm control of the state senate—came out against I-1351. And Gov. Jay Inslee revealed after the election when the measure was still slightly behind that he voted against it himself.
2. Part of the reason the GOP is now in control of the state senate?
Microsoft's tectonic shift in giving. The Redmond company went from favoring Democratic state legislative candidates by nearly $60,000 in 2012 to favoring the Republicans by $30,000 in 2014.
Microsoft won't go on record with me about why they decided to alter course, but I certainly wonder if the company is smarting that the Democrats, who have been insistent on reassessing corporate tax breaks, did not renew a pair of R&D tax exemptions for high-tech companies last session worth $20 million to Microsoft.
"They would have had to provide just five [votes] ... I'm not going to have my people take responsibility for that."—Sen. Sharon Nelson
I asked state senate minority leader Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, W. Seattle, Vashon, Burien) for her take on Microsoft's big switch away from her party, and she said: "I wish they had been more supportive of the seante Democrats. We did have a difference of opinion over a tax incentive package."
Theories about Microsoft's disappointment over tax breaks aside, the one major discrepancy between the Republicans and Democrats last session was over transportation funding. Could Microsoft have more faith in the Republicans on transportation funding? If so, that idea strikes Sen. Nelson as unjust:
"We're in the minority, and we offered 20 votes after the house passed a transportation package, and still they were not able to bring it to the senate floor," Neslon says of Republican leadership. "I don't think we're responsible for the transportation package failure. They would have had to provide just five [votes] ... I'm not going to have my people take responsibility for that."
His big recommendation was to make the Community Police Commission permanent. The 15-member mayoral-appointed (and council confirmed) CPC, is a group of progressive community members plus a few attorneys and a couple of SPD officers originally created to provide input into the current legal wrangling in the DOJ consent decree process. (The SPD was put under federal consent decree in 2012.)
Essentially, streamlining the accountability system, the group will replace the Office of Professional Accountability Review Board (OPARB) which was created in the 2000s as a check on both the SPD's Office of Professional Accountability, which takes up misconduct complaints, and to oversee the OPA Auditor, a council appointee that reviews OPA findings. The CPC will now fill that role which reform advocates believe will buffer the auditor from political meddling and will focus the outside review process.
The CPC has never had a role in investigating or reviewing or participating in misconduct and disciplinary decisions. Nor has it had access to misconduct complaint records and personnel files nor had any binding authority over decisions. And it still won't under Murray's proposal (no wonder this aspect of the proposal doesn't need police union approval). Fizz is skeptical that the vote of confidence from the mayor will be enough to increase the group's actual power.
However it does have expanded functions. The CPC will now do performance evaluations of the OPA director and auditor, advise on their appointment and removal, and most important, report on needed reforms and suggest new ones—moving those ideas forward with SPD, the Council and the Mayor.
OPARB was supposed to play a similar advocacy role, but wasn't staffed to make that role a reality. The new CPC directive, advocates think, is set up with a staff to succeed.
4. There are two more city council candidates: The Puget Sound Business Journal has the news today that Mian Rice, son of former Mayor Norm Rice, is running in North Seattle's 5th District. Rice currently works at the Port of Seattle as small business and policy manager. He has a degree in transportation planning from the the University of Washington.
Meanwhile, the West Seattle Blog had the news on Tuesday that Navy vet George Capestany has jumped into the crowded field challenging incumbent city council member Tom Rasmussen in the 1st District.
Fizz interviewed Capestany yesterday.
He says he's running on two main beliefs: 1) that the city council has become oblivious to West Seattle’s transportation issues and 2) that it has overlooked the area’s small business community.
Capestany vented that West Seattle is the “bad prom date” among Seattle districts.
Capestany acknowledges knows there’s no magic bullet to solving the West Seattle's transportation issues. His plan, he says, will be securing a consensus from community members. “There has to be a solution, and that can’t be done without West Seattle advocates,” Capestany says.
Capestany says he wants to find transportation solutions that won’t dramatically impede local business and the lives of residents. He says he's open to bringing light rail to West Seattle.
He would be the first Hispanic, he notes, to serve on the Seattle City Council.
We had the news yesterday morning that Transportation Choices Coalition leader Rob Johnson is running the 4th District.