1. I poked fun at governor Jay Inslee's latest fundraising plea last Friday—he was offering donors copies of his elementary paintings.
Not surprisingly, the GOP group Shift Washington spoofed it too. On Sunday, the group, founded by former Rob McKenna campaign guru Randy Pepple (after McKenna lost to Inslee in the 2012 election), started auctioning off drawings by a five-year-old, "little Tyler."
We can only assume that these "originals" are the result of the many attempts made by Inslee’s staff to distract our green governor with crayons while the grown-ups talk. Now, they have so many "originals" that they are attempting to get rid of them while sparing his feelings.
Well, in the event that the rather embarrassing scheme actually works, Shift has decided to take a page out of Inslee’s book—with a twist. We’ve recruited a five-year-old, little Tyler, to draw a picture for each one of our donors who gives $25 or more. And, we’re betting Tyler’s drawings will be better—and in higher demand—than Inslee’s.
2. Just to be clear: Contrary to Saturday's Seattle Times headline story, "Seattle Mayor Murray backs down on closing city's hookah lounges," Murray is still threatening to close the businesses. The mayor is just holding off till mid-September rather than the original August 31st date the city originally conveyed to hookah lounges. As we reported last week, Murray backed off the original deadline and his staffers (along with Brian Surratt, head of the Office of Economic Development) met with hookah lounge owners last Thursday to discuss ways that they could come into compliance.
According to Russell Knight, the lawyer representing 9 of the city’s 11 hookah lounges, Murray’s office is giving them until mid-September to come into compliance with the state indoor smoking ban, which, according to a Murray press release sent out late Friday afternoon, can only happen if hookah lounges switch to using smoke stone hookahs which produce vapor rather than smoke. “Hookah lounges cannot continue to operate illegally as smoking establishments,” City Attorney Pete Holmes was quoted as saying in the release. “Converting these businesses to a steam stones vaporization model is our best path forward now to bring them into compliance with state and local law.”
Hookah lounge owners told PubliCola on Thursday after the meeting that they will not be taking up the city on this offer, and will instead eventually argue in court that they are legitimate private clubs that do not violate the state indoor smoking ban. (The press release noted that “periodic inspections” of hookah lounges make take place while discussions are occurring between the city and business owners.)
3. While the Mayor is banking the entirety of his adjusted crackdown (he appears to be dropping the focus that hookah lounges are sources of gun violence) on the state indoor smoking ban, it's not clear if he's as concerned about Seattle’s two private indoor cigar smoking lounges. When we asked OED head Brian Surratt last week whether he had been asked to reach out to the Vertigo Club and Mercury at Machinewerks (Murray had instructed OED to corral hookah lounge owners for last Thursday’s meeting), Surratt said no. “I’ve not been asked to reach out to them. Not familiar with [those businesses],” Surratt told PubliCola.
When we posed the same question to Murray spokesperson Viet Shelton, he said that they were in the middle of their evaluation by King County Public Health, who will determine if they are in violation of the smoking ban.
4. Crosscut had an article last week tracking Mayor Murray's peripatetic staff, but as we've been noticing, staffers seem to be fleeing the second floor (city council) as well.
On Friday, yet another staffer on the council's policy brain trust, known as central staff, left. Policy analyst Mark Baird announced late Friday that he's leaving for a budget job at SPD, making him the sixth staffer to bail on a team that's now shrunk by a third.
5. Late Sunday afternoon—around 6:30 to be exact—in a bit of aerial activism, the words “Black Lives Matter” appeared in the sky over the space needle.
Marissa Johnson (one of the black lives matter activists who disrupted Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders’ speech at Westlake) was tweeting about it, but stated over the social media platform that she had no part in organizing the display. Earlier, the Black Lives Matter Seattle Facebook page posted a notice of the action at 5:30, calling it “an affirmation of black life and the continued need for justice.”
Here’s a video of the skywriting action.
In other BLM news, the national network of 26 BLM chapters issued a dismissive statement about the news that the Democratic Party passed a resolution expressing support for the BLM movement.
A resolution signaling the Democratic National Committee’s endorsement that Black lives matter, in no way implies an endorsement of the DNC by the Black Lives Matter Network, nor was it done in consultation with us. We do not now, nor have we ever, endorsed or affiliated with the Democratic Party, or with any party. The Democratic Party, like the Republican and all political parties, have historically attempted to control or contain Black people’s efforts to liberate ourselves. True change requires real struggle, and that struggle will be in the streets and led by the people, not by a political party.
More specifically, the Black Lives Matter Network is clear that a resolution from the Democratic National Committee won’t bring the changes we seek. Resolutions without concrete change are just business as usual. Promises are not policies. We demand freedom for Black bodies, justice for Black lives, safety for Black communities, and rights for Black people. We demand action, not words, from those who purport to stand with us.
While the Black Lives Matter Network applauds political change towards making the world safer for Black life, our only endorsement goes to the protest movement we’ve built together with Black people nationwide -- not the self-interested candidates, parties, or political machine seeking our vote.
6. I went on KPLU's week in review on Saturday to talk about "under reported" stories.
My take: In the wake of the (supposed) neighborhood movement's victory earlier this summer against any policy changes that would allow some multi-family housing in single family zones, another neighborhood movement was quietly brewing as August came to a close. Advocating less parking requirements (with serious 50-page shared parking proposal), pedestrian-only streets, and more diverse housing, Capitol Hill's EcoDistrict, a proposal for a sort of urban terrarium in the Pike/Pine corridor, is nudging the city in the other direction.
7. Stranger reporter Heidi Groover posted an article on Friday exposing landlords for offering special deals—lower fees and deposits—if their potential tenants work for "preferred employers" such as Amazon.
Groover's article raises questions about whether the deals violate fair housing rules the same way housing discrimination based on race or gender break the law.
The Washington Low Income Housing Alliance has been pushing legislation in Olympia, sponsored by now outgoing Seattle state senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard) that would prevent this type of "source of income" discrimination.