Morning Fizz

Last-Minute Budget Battle Focuses on Homelessness and LGBTQ Center, Northwest Film Forum Focuses on Abortion

An LGBTQ center on Capitol Hill, surplus money, Jim McDermott's seat, and Shout Your Abortion.

By Josh Feit November 16, 2015

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 1. In one of his last fights as a city council member, Tom Rasmussen, the only gay member on the soon-to-be all-straight city council, is trying to get his colleagues to vote against a budget item that would direct the parks department to evaluate the feasibility for an LGBTQ community center on Capitol Hill.

But it’s not as much of a man-bites-dog story as it seems. The budget item is being proposed by council member Kshama Sawant, for whom Rasmussen has shown nothing but open disdain in recent months.

I can’t totally chalk up Rasmussen’s objection to pure personal animosity, though: There’s no consensus in support of an LGBTQ-specific community center among the gay community; for example, during stakeholder meetings about developing Capitol Hill’s Sound Transit site, gay leaders did not end up prioritizing the need for an LGBTQ center. Some members of the LGBTQ community say any community center on Capitol Hill should have a broader mission than solely LGBTQ issues. (The previous LGBTQ community center closed in 2008.)

The other prominent gay voice at city hall, mayor Ed Murray, reportedly supports Rasmussen’s amendment, which would tweak Sawant’s proposal by directing the Capitol Hill community to make the call itself on whether a local community center should be exclusively for the LGBTQ community.

2. Speaking of gay politicians (and add Latino for that matter), Fizz has heard that there’s yet another name on the list of hopefuls for U.S. representative Jim McDermott’s (D-7) seat: state representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill). McDermott’s congressional District covers most of Seattle (though not Southeast Seattle)—and super lefty McDermott, 78, has held the seat since 1989.

Walkinshaw was appointed to the state legislature in late 2013 (after the ensuing musical chairs in the 43rd District when then state senator Ed Murray became mayor) and was then formally elected in 2014; he was unopposed. Districts!

Walkinshaw, who’s gay and Cuban American, won the 43rd appointment with an impressive outreach campaign, getting young and minority voters involved at the precinct level during the appointment process.

Walkinshaw took the unusual step of using his campaign fund to hire a political operative this past year.

I have a message in to Walkinshaw.

3. In an attempt to hammer home his stance that city doesn’t have to dip into its emergency rainy day fund for $2.3 million to pay for shelter beds for the homeless, Mayor Murray sent another letter to city council budget committee chair Nick Licata last Friday with a memo from City Budget Office director Ben Noble regarding an update to the city’s 2015–16 revenue forecast attached, noting that around $9 million in additional revenue will be coming in from the real estate excise tax. “With the significant amount of new resources identified in the revenue forecast, I am confident that council can make the required rainy day fund contribution and fund its budget priorities,” Murray wrote.

Specifically, Murray is referring to upticks in revenues from the real estate excise tax, which are estimated (by the City Budget Office) to increase by $9.3 million in 2015 and then decrease by $2.8 million in 2016 for a net increase of $6.5 million.

In a previous letter sent to council members last Thursday, Murray also noted an additional $3 million in reserves set aside in his 2016 budget proposal that could be put toward funding shelter beds.

UPDATE: This morning, Licata pulled back from using the emergency fund.

4. Not exactly Fizz's beat (but the December issue of Seattle Met features a story on her): Shout Your Abortion (#SYA) founder Amelia Bonow, recently profiled in the New Yorker, spoke at a Northwest Film Forum screening of abortion rom-com Obvious Child last night.

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In the NWFF panel discussion after the movie, co-sponsored with NARAL Pro Choice Washington, Bonow derided the position championed by Hillary Clinton, that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.” Bonow explained that she “didn’t want to live in a country were abortions were rare” because abortion is a legal medical procedure that shouldn’t be stigmatized. “Thanks for that, Hillary,” she said.

Duly noted, though, in part, I think Clinton’s point is that with better access to birth control medication and sex education, abortions wouldn’t be as necessary.

Bonow did get some pushback from another panelist, Surge Northwest’s Yong Chan Miller, on another issue: Miller noted that poorer women and women of color weren’t in privileged enough positions to “shout their abortions.” However, the panelists agreed—channeling a quote from gay rights icon Harvey Milk—that those in a position to share their stories (or come out, as Milk had it) should.

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