Caffeinated News

1. The 37th District Democrats made some endorsements in the city council races last night—and, more significantly, they didn't make some endorsements.

Only one candidate, civil rights attorney Lorena González (see the "Mexican Piss" case against the SPD), managed to win an endorsement. González, mayor Ed Murray's former legal counsel, beat out neighborhood populist Bill Bradburd for the endorsement in position nine, one of the two citywide seats. 

The district only endorses in council districts that overlap with its South End state legislative boundaries, and in the other three races—council positions two and three (Southeast Seattle, and Capitol Hill and the Central District, respectively) and the other at-large spot, position eight—the South End Democrats failed to settle on any of the candidates, including incumbent city council member Bruce Harrell who's running in position two, Southeast Seattle, where he lives and is a member of the 37th. 

For position three, popular council incumbent Kshama Sawant wasn't eligible (she's not a Democrat), and while Urban League director Pamela Banks got the most votes, she didn't get enough for the endorsement. In position eight, it came down to incumbent council president Tim Burgess and rent control activist Jonathan Grant; Burgess got the most votes, but not enough for an endorsement. 

He didn't make much of a showing in the 37th, but John Roderick, also running in the at-large position eight seat, scored an endorsement of his own yesterday. Roderick announced yesterday that he'd won the sole endorsement from the Sierra Club—in part for his outright opposition to the (even-more-screwed-up-than-already-perceived, according to yesterday's "we're frustrated too" WSDOT council briefing)—tunnel project.

Meanwhile: The 43rd Legislative District Democrats (Capitol Hill, the U District, Wallingford) are making their council endorsements tonight.

Watch for state senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill) and mayor Ed Murray to speak in favor of Burgess.

2. There were a couple of candidate forums last night as well—in North Seattle's position five and in West Seattle's position one. Check PubliCola's Twitter feed for a rundown on the North Seattle forum from the Jane Addams Middle School at Northeast 110th Street and 34th Avenue Northeast off Lake City Way.

The North Seattle race was jolted last week when one perceived frontrunner, former mayor Norm Rice's son Mian Rice, dropped out, opening breathing room for one of the candidates in the parade of eight hopefuls to emerge as a new frontrunner alongside top fundraiser activist reverend Sandy Brown.

The two young women in the pack, low-income advocate Mercedes Elizalde and Planned Parenthood organizer Halei Watkins, made the most of the opportunity last night. Elizalde, whose impressive resume includes working as a staffer at the Low Income Housing Institute, holding a spot on Seattle's Women's Commission, and sitting on the board of the Tenants Union, stoked popular animosity toward developers. "When I see the [construction] cranes," she said, "I want to know if they planned for a building or a community," making calls for more parking or pedestrian paths, depending. She also called for inclusionary zoning (which goes beyond the popular linkage fee on developers to pay for affordable housing and mandates onsite affordable housing) and said the city needed to force developers to "build with our values."

Halei Watkins quickly pointed out that the main reason Lake City needed the community center was because of the growing immigrant population.

Watkins also nodded to populist animosity toward developers—she was also for the linkage fee—but played more of an urbanist card, noting that the rush of people moving here "was a great problem to have" and called for density along transit lines and more coordination between the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Department of Planning and Development. (Recent collaboration between SDOT and DPD produced a smart-growth call for less parking requirements.) Watkins also transformed a softball question about whether candidates supported the popular demand for a Lake City community center into the most thoughtful answer of the night. Rather than giving the simple yes, she quickly pointed out, echoing the neighbhorhood's active greenways group, that the main reason Lake City needed the community center was because of the growing immigrant population; as of the 2010 census, Lake City was more than 25 percent nonwhite. 

(And an appropriate update to yesterday's Fizz where I failed to say who the King County Young Democrats endorsed in position five. Answer: Elizalde and Watkins.)

Meanwhile, West Seattle Blog has a report on the position one race; though we've also got some news in that race: Attorney and children's advocate (and trivia buff) Phillip Tavel picked up the endorsement from former position one candidate, restaurateur Dave Montoure, yesterday. 

3. Mayor Murray's budget director Ben Noble sent an email to city council members to head off council legislation that would scale back $350,000 in administrative funding (by $100,000) for the low-income rebate on the $60 vehicle license fee approved by voters as part of the $45 million Metro funding measure last November.

While they support the rebate program (administered by Wells Fargo), council members noted that estimates for how many people would actually sign up for the rebate—50,000—appeared to be overstated when compared to other low-income aid programs such as utility bill subsidies.

Noble's email concluded:

We understand that Council may consider an amendment to the authorizing legislation that would reduce the funding available to implement the rebate program. Such a reduction will weaken the program; reduced staffing will increase the time that qualified individuals must wait for their applications to be processed. If the Council moves forward to cut the funding, we will do the best we can with the available resources, but are concerned that we will not be able to implement a program that offers an appropriate level of customer service to the low-income applicants, and this could have the effect of discouraging rather than encouraging participation.

The council is set to move the amendment next week.

4. Two weeks ago, Fizz's Friday LIKES & DISLIKES column reported that the linkage fee—frowned on by many urbanists who think it will stall development—got the stamp of approval from none other than the the local green city blog, The Urbanist.

It turns out, some urbanists are still frowning on the idea, though—primarily longtime planner, blogger, and density advocate Dan Bertolet.