Morning Fizz

In City's Latest Independent Expenditure Campaign, Slow Growther John Fox Focuses on Defeating Rob Johnson

Antiurbanists, Nick Licata, and "Go Hawks!"–gate.

By Josh Feit October 15, 2015

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1. An independent expenditure group, Citizens Alliance for Limited Growth, which we first reported on when it registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission in late September, is now focusing on one city council race.

The group, almost being entirely funded by the city's premier antiurbanist, John Fox, has sent out a mailer backing Michael Maddux and criticizing Maddux's opponent Rob Johnson in the District Four (Wallingford, U District, Wedgwood) race. Among other things, the mailer (the group spent about $5,000) comes out against upzones and the mayor's "plan to upzone every single neighborhood" and says that Maddux is for one-to-one replacement of any lost affordable housing. Conversely, the mailer says Johnson is "bought and paid for by downtown development interests...." (which doesn't quite jibe with Johnson's parade of lefty endorsements...)

It’s hardly surprising that Fox would choose to weigh in on this race—as I’ve said many times now, Johnson, the head of Transportation Choices Coalition, is the standout urbanist in this year’s council races.

For his part, Maddux told PubliCola previously that he doesn’t like independent expenditure groups because they muddy a candidate’s message, and certainly Fox’s mailer seems like a stretch when it comes to Maddux’s agenda. Maddux has told us he wants to expand the multifamily tax exemption credit program to build housing (Fox’s mailer criticizes Johnson for supporting the MFTE program, calling the program a developer giveaway.) Maddux told us he’s for the mandatory inclusionary zoning program in the mayor’s affordable housing grand bargain over the populist linkage fee choice (the linkage fee comes with developer charges, but without upzones.) And Maddux told us he was bummed that the mayor’s proposal to tweak single family zones went sideways, and that he (Maddux) doesn’t like that the city is zoned 65 percent exclusively single family.

“I think this is an area where Rob and I agree [true], which is nice,” Maddux told us.

Fox should also be aware that Maddux doesn’t like the city’s crackdown on pod apartments. “Maybe I’m gross,” Maddux quipped, “but I don’t think having two sinks is a necessary requirement…[and] limiting the size, I’m not sure how much I agree with that.”

Hilariously, the Fox letter also makes a big deal out of preserving tree canopy, but it’s Johnson who was recently endorsed by TreePAC, the pro-canopy group.

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Maddux told us this morning: "I...demand that no further IE money is spent on my behalf, and that my campaign be allowed to control our message."

Maddux was also endorsed this week by former District Four candidate Tony Provine; Provine led the fight against upzones near the Roosevelt light rail stations and was opposed to an urbanist plan both Maddux and Johnson embraced to build housing near the station instead of a park. “While we disagree on some policy issues, I know that he will be a partner in the neighborhood,” Maddux said about Provine’s support.

In the primary, a business-funded IE, supported Johnson. (We grilled Johnson on that at the time.)

2. Speaking of endorsements: On the heels of his star turn in "Go Hawks!"–gate (the sordid saga of text messages that developer Brett Allen sent trying to coerce city council candidate Jon Grant into dropping a lawsuit against a downtown development project), Grant scored a big deal endorsement today. Outgoing, veteran lefty council member Nick Licata endorsed Grant, who's running for the Position Eight citywide seat.

In a statement this morning, Licata (whose been elected citywide five times in a row) said:

It’s clear that Seattle is facing a tough challenge keeping our city affordable, I’ve worked with Jon Grant as an advocate and have been impressed by his candidacy. This is not a knock on other candidates but I believe Jon’s innovative and bold approach to housing affordability would be an asset on this council. That’s why I’m endorsing him this year.

"Other candidates" is obviously Licata's reference to Grant's opponent—and Licata's longtime colleague—council president Tim Burgess. Licata has often credited Burgess with pushing through the city's landmark paid sick leave legislation, Seattle's progressive precursor to the $15 minimum wage law.

3. Speaking of Go Hawks!–gate (Allen concluded his loquacious quid pro quo text with an incongruous shout-out to the Seahawks), I was on KUOW yesterday discussing the clownish affair

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