1. Mayor Ed Murray released his $5.1 billion city budget yesterday, and with “a resurgent local economy” (4.5 percent annual growth and $13 million more in revenue than forecast last year), he’s recommending increased spending: adding 30 new police officers, $1.8 million for SPD body cameras, $1.5 million add for homeless resources, $1.5 million for expanding community health services, nearly $1 million to upgrade the C and D RapidRide lines (over and above last year’s Prop 1 dollars), and, whoa, $5 million for the Pronto bike share program.
He’s also spending $1.3 million to make good on his announcement earlier this year to create a new higher level planning office to manage development (the Office of Planning and Community Development) to displace (!) the current Department of Planning and Development; a less ambitious DPD will remain as more of a bureaucratic licensing office.
The budget comes with $106.5 million in backup reserves.
I have a call in to the mayor’s office to ask about the Pronto spending: Is the money based on encouraging numbers that indicate it’s a smart investment or does the program just need help? The budget document says that the $5 million could potentially leverage a $10 million federal grant to add 200 new bike stations.
As the budget office said during its presentation to council last week, the construction boom is powering the budget. Making up 25 percent of the city’s sales tax revenues, at $56.5 million. Those damn developers.
2. City council candidates are continuing to file through the Seattle Met offices for our endorsement interviews and yesterday's sit-down with District One (West Seattle) candidate Shannon Braddock revealed that she's the first candidate to date to like the SoDo arena deal.
Every candidate we've talked to so far has raised concerns about both the public subsidy—$200 million—and the location, which they fear will disrupt the city's industrial and maritime economy. Not Braddock, an aide to King County Council member (and budget chair) Joe McDermott, who worked on the county and city's memorandum of agreement with Chris Hansen on the potential NBA stadium deal.
"I worked with Joe, who was budget chair," Braddock said. "I feel really good about the work we did on that."
A more typical answer came from District Three (Capitol Hill, Central Area) candidate Pam Banks, who also came in yesterday. She told us: "I don’t want it down there. Because that land in SoDo needs to be for manufacturing and industrial. There are a lot of living wage jobs down there. And I don’t like public money going towards that." She did add: "I’m a big sports fan. I cried when the Sonics left. I would love to take KeyArena [and use it for an NBA stadium]."
3. File this under victory lap for Mike O'Brien, who clearly wasn't buying Shell Oil's explanation about their decision to give up on drilling in the arctic; Shell said tests had shown there wasn't enough oil to justify the expensive and complicated drilling project. Economists added that there were currently plenty of reserves elsewhere, dropping the global price.
Kayaktivist O'Brien said:
Shell abandoned ship today ‘for the foreseeable future,’ both claiming that it failed to find enough oil to make further drilling worthwhile and citing an unpredictable regulatory environment. This about-face from big oil is really a big win for those of us who spoke out against Shell’s Arctic drilling plans and called for a just transition from our current fossil fuel dependence.
From the beginning I have said life as we know it depends on bold, immediate action, especially when a harbinger of catastrophic climate change is moored in our backyard. The people of Seattle, the mayor, and the Seattle council were resolute in our opposition to Shell’s presence in our city and it’s pursuits in the Arctic. I firmly believe that our actions, in combination with #ShellNo activism in Seattle and across the country, created the regulatory uncertainty Shell hinted at today.
And Mayor Murray, who deserves credit for initiating the city's review of Shell's Terminal Five permit, said: "The people of Seattle stood up to oppose the use of our city as a base for expanded Arctic drilling," adding that he now wanted to work with the Port of Seattle to bring "clean economy" jobs to the terminal.