Morning Fizz

Bagshaw Pushes Back on Sawant

Caffeinated news featuring city council fisticuffs

By Josh Feit April 28, 2015

Caffeinated News

1. "I heard one of my colleagues say that there weren't actual people working on this," city council member Sally Bagshaw said yesterday, as she spoke in favor of the controversial University District business improvement area (BIA) that council passed six to two (with Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant voting no).

The unnamed colleague in question was hardly a mystery.

Voting against the BIA—a policy tool where local property owners can vote to raise property taxes in the area to pay for local improvements, if property owners representing 60 percent of the total area assessment support it—Sawant said: "I'm concerned that this BIA is being imposed without the actual support of the people in the University District."

Sawant has a point: Given UW's holdings in the district, as a single property owner with a major assessment value, UW commands a disproportionate influence over a potentially larger number of property owners. A map of the BIA shows that more individual property owners in the new BIA oppose it than support it.

(Detractors such as John Fox and fourth district council candidate Tony Provine, who showed up in red scarves at the meeting yesterday—matching the color-coded map that labeled the more numerous, but less valuable no votes in red—worry that the university is going to use the BIA to transform the current unruly and charming Diagon Alley vibe into a gentrified U Village–style neighborhood.)

However, in response to Sawant's sound bite, Bagshaw, shooting back, proceeded to read a list of 20 individual supporters who had worked on creating the BIA, including the executive director of the lefty young adult homelessness shelter, Roots. "I'm here to thank..." Bagshaw began, before pointedly reading her long list of names, which also included the owner of Shultzy's.

2. It was only one of several moments on the council dais yesterday that Sawant's rhetoric and star status seemed to be getting pushback from other council members. There was council member Bruce Harrell's not-so-veiled dig at Sawant during the John Okamoto appointment vote (right after the BIA vote) that he was "not going to denigrate people, that's not what motivates me" (after Sawant had spent most of her testimony bashing Okamoto.) And there was council member Tom Rasmussen's direct Sawant namecheck for "odious...statements against John Okamoto... It's unfortunate that she has to stoop so low."And there was council president Tim Burgess, who frankly looked glum and defeated every time Sawant spoke—particularly when Sawant eviscerated Burgess's pro-BIA argument that "we face [opposition] every time we do a BIA" with her direct retort (to booming applause) that "just because something has been done many times doesn't make it right."

"More than frustrated, I am sad about how Sawant is acting." —Sally BagshawI asked Bagshaw, who recently felt jilted for not being able to join Licata and Sawant on stage at last week's rent control forum, if she was frustrated with Sawant.

Bagshaw said: "More than frustrated, I am sad about how Sawant is acting. I perceive her as intentionally creating class differences for her own gain, whereas we could be shaking everyone's hands and working together to solve this problem. There is no one right answer. There are many answers."

She concluded: "I felt her attack on John Okamoto yesterday was both exploitative and mean. And worse, untrue. Every one of us on city council wants to address the affordable housing crisis and make sure people have good, healthy places to live. That requires respect and working together."

UPDATE: The Seattle Times has the news that Bagshaw has actually filed an ethics complaint against Sawant for setting up a campaign table inside city hall during Sawant's (and Nick Licata's) Thursday-night rent control forum.

3. Speaking of the anti-Sawant mood among her colleagues: That's Bruce Harrell standing directly behind Sawant's campaign opponent Pamela Banks, the Urban League director, who kicked off her campaign last night at Sole Repair on Capitol Hill.

What Sawant fans will appreciate, though, is that this Instagram picture was posted by Pearl Leung, community relations manager for South Lake Union developer, Vulcan.

4. Footnote on candidate Provine's opposition to the U District BIA: His opponent Jean Godden was one of the six votes for the BIA. 


if those responsible for 60% of assessments sign a petition supporting the BIA. - See more at:
if those responsible for 60% of assessments sign a petition supporting the BIA. - See more at:
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