Morning Fizz

Under Pressure, Burgess Will Reveal Which Council Members Voted for Which Finalists

Caffeinated news featuring the vacancy, the Northeast 130th Street station, and the minimum wage

By Josh Feit April 22, 2015

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1. Under pressure from Beacon Hill activist Roger Pence, city council president Tim Burgess now says he will disclose which council members provided the three (or more) names he required to advance any of the initial 43 council vacancy applicants onto the finalist list.

I asked Burgess for this info after the Monday's vote, and he demurred. (I have a call in to the Washington State Attorney General's office to get their take on this process to see whether it's kosher in terms of public meetings requirements.

Burgess wrote to Pence in an email this morning:

The process we followed was carefully monitored and managed with the city attorney's office present at every step. I'm confident our process was appropriate.

Frankly, the process followed here is exactly the same we follow each fall during our budget deliberations. Any council member who wants to make a change to the budget (green sheet) must get two other CMs to sign the green sheet, for a total of three. I told my colleagues we would follow the same process for advancing the finalists and they all agreed.

In 2006, when CM Clark was appointed, the finalists were announced via a press release. There was no public vote. This time we made our decision through a public vote with a very clear explanation as to how we got there. In 2006, the council interviewed the finalists in private, carefully limiting the number of CMs who could be present in order to avoid the Open Meetings Act. We aren't doing that this time. Our interviews will be in public this Friday afternoon.

Which CMs wanted to advance finalists is indeed public information and I would be happy to send you that listing, if you wish.

And Pence wrote back: "Yes, Tim, please do send me the list of which CMs voted to advance which candidates for appointment. That appears to be a change of position on your part, as PubliCola reported yesterday they asked Burgess who voted for who, "but [Burgess] said that wouldn't be appropriate."

"Yes, Tim, please do send me the list of which CMs voted to advance which candidates for appointment. That appears to be a change of position on your part."

UPDATE: Burgess released the specifics on each council member's preliminary vote of confidence to me this morning.  

2. Seattle Transit Blog and The Urbanist have done a lot of in-depth coverage of the pending Sound Transit board decision over whether to greenlight a Northeast 130th Street link light rail station when they vote on the Northgate-to-Lynnwood route tomorrow, Thursday, April 23.

The ST board's capital committee already passed a Mike O'Brien amendment earlier this month saying 130th Street had to at least be "station ready"—meaning even if there's no immediate station built there (the route comes online in 2023), the followup construction to add it later would be more Lego-like than a massive capital project overhaul would be.

Late last week, the Light Rail Review Panel—a 17-member board created by city ordinance to oversee light rail design made up of reps from the Seattle planning, design, and arts commissions—sent a letter the mayor, city council, the Seattle Department of Transportation, and the Seattle Department of Planning and Development coming out strongly for a station at 130th; the current ST plan envisions going straight from Northgate to 145th, bypassing Pinehurst and Haller Lake and a swift direct connection (via bus, safe bike lanes and ped access) to Lake City and Bitter Lake.

The impressive group of planning thinkers, including GGLO architect David Cutler, Liz Dunn project manager Shannon Loew, Olson Kundig architect Jerry Garcia, and DPD staffer Nick Welch, begins its letter:

The LRRP supports locating a station at NE 130th St rather than stations only at Northgate and NE 145th St for the following reasons:

1. Compared to the station under construction at Northgate or the proposed station at NE 145th St, a station at NE 130th St better serves the neighborhoods in and around Bitter Lake and Lake City, two growing hub urban villages that offer affordable housing options and have transit-dependent populations.

2. Because of its lower traffic volumes, planned bicycle facilities, and opportunity for bus route restructuring, NE 130th St is a superior location than Northgate and NE 145th St for connecting non-automobile modes with light rail.

3. A station at NE 130th St offers the potential for greater increased ridership than captured in the FEIS. This annd other benefits outweigh the one-minute increase in travel times.

3. Check out my Seattle Met colleague Allecia Vermillion's post on the mag's food blog yesterday. She reported that starting next month, Seattle restaurateur Renee Erickson's group of acclaimed local spots—the Walrus and the Carpenter, the Whale Wins, and Barnacle—will no longer accept tips, and instead customers will pay a built-in 18.5 percent service charge. 

Erickson's memo on the service charge policy describes the change as a reaction to the ACA and Seattle's new $15 minimum wage law.

4. Yesterday afternoon, we published a rundown of the political contributions that each of the eight finalists to fill Sally Clark's vacancy have made over the years.

A detail that got left on the cutting-room floor from that reporting was a comment from civil rights attorney and retired Sound Transit diversity manager, applicant Alec Stephens, whose donations revealed that he'd contributed to a couple of this year's challengers—Pamela Banks against Kshama Sawant and Michael Maddux against Jean Godden.

Interestingly, Stephens's top priority is police accountability—specifically keeping close watch on the consent decree. He also talked about housing (which the council identified as its main concern), but when I asked him to tell me what the focus of his pitch to council at this Friday's speed-dating final round would be, he led with this: "The key area is monitoring the consent decree. We need to keep on top of that. This is a fragile time," Stephens, who's African American, said, alluding to the national headlines about police violence against African Americans—the most recent one now out of Baltimore.

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