Morning Fizz

City Council Musical Chairs

Caffeinated news featuring candidates, cover, and percentages

By Josh Feit February 19, 2015

Caffeinated News

1. The giveaway that mayor Ed Murray is playing in this year's council elections came when his staff legal counsel, Lorena Gonzalez, quickly announced yesterday afternoon she was running for the at-large position that longtime city council member Sally Clark said just a few hours earlier she was giving up. Murray's ally was ready in the wings to step right in with a pro press release. Whether the conspiracy goes the next level, that Gonzalez was specifically stepping in to the at-large ninth position to ward off council member Mike O'Brien from shifting from his northwest Sixth District race to Clark's citywide open seat is another question, though I have confirmed that O'Brien was (and is) seriously considering making the jump to the at-large race.

Mayor Murray views O'Brien as a potential rival in 2017, and presumably an at-large seat would give O'Brien a better platform to eventually run for mayor, though the at-large seat is only a two-year term at first, meaning if O'Brien did run and win at-large this year, he'd have to go "up or out" in 2017 rather than running for mayor from a safe, four-year term in the Sixth, ensuring that he'd still have a spot at city hall (like Tim Burgess and Bruce Harrell—who both ran for mayor in 2013, lost, and were able to return to council).

As for Gonzalez, a former board president of influential civil rights group OneAmerica, she would be the first Hispanic ever elected to the city council.

And as for Clark, a former staffer for Department of Neighborhoods, King County Council, and Lifelong Aids Alliance, she's been elected three times since she was first appointed to council back in the 2005 cattle call to fill a vacancy when council member Jim Compton resigned, most recently in 2011. Clark has a reputation for being cautious and indecisive, often shifting back and forth between positions, most notably, for my money, letting her awkward MO get the best of her as the ride share legislation fell apart on her watch and the matter had to be reworked by the mayor.    

All this musical chairs has me wondering—with an urbanist like O'Brien faced with either taking on an opponent from the neighborhood camp, neighborhood council board member Catherine Weatbrook in the Sixth, or anti-aPodment crusader Bill Bradburd, who'd already declared for Clark's at-large seat—where are all the urbanists?

In the districted system, it's the two at-large seats along with the dense Third District (Capitol Hill and the CD) and the Seventh District (downtown) that give natural platforms for proponents of density, bike lanes, parking maximums and other new-wave planning policy. But to date, the Third and the Seventh are held by Kshama Sawant and Sally Bagshaw respectively. Sawant, a traditional lefty who's more about limiting development than building up, and Bagshaw, who, though she does lean green, hasn't established herself as a leader, are currently the two incumbents who seem the least vulnerable. Sawant has rock star status and Bagshaw, strangely, hasn't drawn an opponent.

2. Speaking of Sawant: The Capitol Hill chamber is holding its annual State of the Hill event tonight at the Melrose Market. All three Third District candidates—socialist Sawant, former gay marriage campaign leader Rod Hearne, and Seattle Women's Commission leader Morgan Beach—will all be on hand. 

Will a few Democrats make up for the handful of knee jerk anti-tax Republican votes and give the governing GOP majoirty political cover?

3. Watch for Democrats on the state senate transportation committee to offer a batch of (losing) amendments today to the $15 billion transportation package. Seattle state senator Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), for example, will be backing amendments to get rid of the GOP provision that prevents the governor from enacting new low-carbon fuel standards for cars and stops a GOP mandate that all transportation sales tax revenue go to roads projects rather than to the general fund.

Other problems with the package: Only 5 percent of the $15 billion is for multimodal projects and it doesn't mandate prevailing wage standards for projects.

Will all the Democrats vote against an unamended package? Or will a few Democrats, desperate for a transportation package, make up for the handful of knee jerk antitax Republican votes against the package—giving Republican transportation committee chair and senator Curtis King (R-14, Yakima) and his newly-in-control party cover to pass a package?

And will that scenario play out again on the floor of the full senate?

Here's my primer on the package, which also shortchanges light rail funding authority by $4 billion.

4.  Here's a followup on my pet peeve about parking regulations that the vast majority of paid parking in the city allows two-hour parking with zones in Ballard, Belltown, Denny Triangle, Pike/Pine, Roosevelt, South Lake Union, the U District, and Uptown, allowing as much as four hours, seven hours and 10 hours as well (belying the fiction that parking spots are intended as a shared city asset for people to move in and out for quick stops as they complete daily errands and are more about convenient storage to promote extra car use).

The follow up? Just 3 percent of the roughly 12,000 paid parking spots in the city are limited to 30 minutes.

As for 15-minute spots? There are three of them in the whole city

5. Oh, and if KING 5 and The Seattle Times have convinced you that the city has abandoned parking, don't fret: 700 more parking spots coming right up.

Irony alert. It's for the Northgate transit center. That's right: While the ped bridge, which would serve 92 percent of the expected 15,000 daily riders, gets a bake sale, the city supports adding 700 parking stalls.


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