Caffeinated News

1. Opposing fast-track authority on the Trans-Pacific Partnership isn't just for left-wing city council members anymore. Establishment council president Tim Burgess tells me he's been working with labor since late last week on a deal that would line up support for progressive council member Mike O'Brien's supposedly quixotic resolution. O'Brien's resolution, coming up for a vote today, would declare the city's opposition to the Pacific Rim trade agreement unless the U.S. negotiates the treaty in the open—and unless the final TPP doesn't diminish labor and environmental standards with race-to-the-bottom compromises; fair trade not free trade, as the longstanding NAFTA-shaming labor mantra goes.

I called King County Labor Council leader David Freiboth, and he confirmed that in addition to O'Brien, Nick Licata, and Kshama Sawant (the council's three regular left-wing votes) "we've got two leaning and four listening." However, my sources say Sawant and Licata may not go for the deal because the Burgess compromise, likely to pick up the rest of the council anyway and giving Frieboth's KCLC the win, made too many compromises by stripping out language against unaccountable corporate power.

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UPDATE: I take that back. It sounds like this could be a 9-0 vote with Licata and Sawant on board; the changes Burgess made simply delete a series of supposed specifics from the draft TPP that overrode local control. Burgess's compromise replaces that specific language by summarizing O'Brien's concern about loss of sovereignty with a general opening statement: "Whereas...the TPP...could give multinational corporations excessive power to undermine national and local governmental authority to create reasonable rules and regulations, including those related to environmental safeguards [and] future climate policy..."

Burgess's adds also bump up the explanation of what Seattle wants to see in a trade agreement rather than simply saying Seattle opposes the current draft of the agreement. O'Brien's office says they are fine with the revisions and they're "glad Tim's on board."

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Freiboth continued: "We're hopeful we might persuade a significant majority of the council to make a statement opposing fast-track authority." Condemning the current Obama administration-backed TPP for pushing "trickle-down economics" instead of supporting "labor and environmental standards that have teeth that will protect labor conditions and protect labor standards in this country," Freiboth said U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) was the only one who gets it. (He called her "the only real progressive on economic policy.")

KCLC's plan is to translate a Seattle resolution against the TPP into pressure on Washington state's own federal delegation. "If we get a resolution expressing concerns, than we will take that as a springboard to talking with our federal delegation," he said. "That’s the point. If we get a resolution like this out of a major urban center, than we take that to the next level. This isn’t just left-wing advocacy, it’s mainstream advocacy," he said about the possibility of lining up five (or more) votes.

"There’s times to weigh in on national debates," Freiboth concluded. "This is how you influence the national debate." 

And national it is. The White House has reportedly been calling council members.

Murray spokesman Viet Shelton wouldn't say whether Mayor Murray opposed Obama's fast-track position. But Murray, who took up national politics himself this weekend by banning city employee travel to Indiana in protest of Indiana's new religious-liberty-to-discriminate-against-gays law, isn't likely to veto a resolution and will either concur or simply do nothing.

UPDATE: The White House has also been in contact with Mayor Murray's office.

They released the following statement from Murray this morning:

Washington state benefits more from international trade, especially trade across the Pacific, than any other state. Thousands of jobs in Seattle and across the region depend on made-in-America exports that pass through our international gateways. President Obama shares my belief that our nation’s trade agreements must have strong and enforceable worker and environmental protections. I expect the president to craft an agreement that reflects these values. We need to give the administration the tools necessary to negotiate the best deal for American workers.

2. The mayor is definitely opposed to something else the council is likely to pass today, though: Kshama Sawant's amendment to Mayor Murray's encampment legislation.

Murray wants to authorize three new tent cities and Sawant wants to include language authorizing the Department of Planning and Development to study the possibility of allowing the encampments to go in residential zones.

(Murray's legislation only authorizes the encampments in commercial and industrial zones, though there is an exception for church-run encampments to set up in residential zones.)

3.  By the way, a footnote on Murray's ban on city employee travel to Indiana: 19 other states have similar laws—including Washington state neighbor, Idaho. Does Murray plan to ban travel to those states too?

According to Mayor Murray's press release: "The mayor will also direct all departments to conduct a review of current city contracts to identify if there are any contracts the city has with businesses headquartered in Indiana."