Caffeinated News

1. Local indie rocker John Roderick (the Long Winters) is reportedly considering joining the city council fray, possibly in the district eight race against incumbent Tim Burgess.

Burgess is already facing two serious challengers, Tenants Union lefty Jonathan Grant and Georgetown union activist John Persak.

Roderick would bring a shot of Seattle's defining, indie rock–era counterculture to city hall—a major element of Seattle that has only edged its way into politics over the years via nightlife issues but hasn't brought its urban sensibility to city policy in other ways.

I've confirmed through some people with whom Roderick has vetted his potential candidacy that he's seriously considering the run. But when I called him yesterday, I only got his answering machine.

Footnote: His answering machine features his a cappella version of Steve Miller's “Fly Like an Eagle.”

2. File this under “Isn't It Weird That.”

Freshman state representative Melanie Stambaugh (R-25, Puyallup), 24, one of the youngest legislators in state history, told us when she was first elected that she's “part of the changing landscape of the Republican party.”

For example, she told us that last year's gun control initiative was “great for [public] safety” and ultimately “makes communities safer.” And when it comes to marriage equality Stambaugh believes “all people have the right to exercise their personal freedom when it comes to love.”

Stambaugh also told The Seattle Times on a couple of occasions that she's pro-choice, including as recently as last week.

None of that's the weird part, though; after all, young Republicans are hyperaware that their party is out of sync with the public on cultural issues and needs to get with the times. (Voters passed gun control and gay marriage with convincing numbers—59.27 to 40.73 and 53.7 to 46.3 respectively.)

However, on this week's culture war vote—on a bill known as the "reproductive parity act" which mandates that insurers must cover abortions and contraception—Stambaugh joined the Republicans and voted no. The bill, sponsored by state representative Eileen Cody (D-34, West Seattle), passed 51 to 46.

Representative Stambaugh did not return our request for a comment.

Sawant's amendment
would authorize the Department of Planning and Development to study allowing encampments in
residential zones.

3. City council members Nick Licata, Mike O'Brien, and Kshama Sawant may try to delay the upcoming March 23 vote on legislation authorizing three new tent cities. It's not that the lefties are against the encampments for the homeless that mayor Ed Murray has proposed (all three voted for the legislation in committee). It's that they're interested in bringing back an amendment that died at the committee level earlier this month, and they may not have enough votes lined up yet to pass it. 

Sawant's amendment would authorize the Department of Planning and Development to study allowing encampments in residential zones; the current legislation only allows encampments in commercial and industrial zones.

Sawant needs five votes and Sally Bagshaw, who is reportedly in Sawant's corner on the issue, is not going to be at the March 23 meeting.

There's an irony in seeking a delay. At the committee level, the amendment failed after council member Tim Burgess, who opposed the amendment, delayed the vote until council member Jean Godden showed up—giving opponents enough votes to block the amendment with a deadlocked three-to-three vote.

With either Bruce Harrell or Tom Rasmussen potentially on their side, but without Bagshaw present, the amendment could deadlock again at four to four. 

The amendment would be largely symbolic, though, as Mayor Murray has made it clear to the council that, study or no study, the new tent cities aren't going to be in residential areas.

Two of the four current tent cities are located in residential areas (through an exemption for church-based encampments) and the mayor's office says it wants greater "dispersion" of the sites.