Morning Fizz

Mike McGinn, Light Rail, and Eight Other Defining Stories of the Last Decade

The most important events of the last 10 years and the most important votes in Olympia on Friday.

By Josh Feit March 7, 2016

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1. Seattle Met's current issue, our 10-year anniversary issue, has a feature package that reviews 2006 through 2015 with a timeline of key events. For example: "April 6, 2010: Amazon moves its headquarters from a 1930s art deco hospital on Beacon Hill to a 1.7-million-square-foot, 11-building complex in South Lake Union." 

There are also 10 popout essays for each year, focusing on the most resonant events along the way. Kathryn Robinson remembers Ehren Watada's refusal to fight in Iraq (2006), Eric Scigliano looks at the Washington Mutual collapse (2008), James Gardner reflects on the Department of Justice consent decree with the Seattle Police Department (2012), and Matt Halverson assesses the insane real estate market (2015).

I've got two essays in the batch. One (2010) traces Seattle's current hyper left wing sensibility  to former mayor Mike McGinn who ushered in a tenacious brand of populism that still dogs current mayor Ed Murray. (A city council that once meddled with dog parks and rock clubs is now taking on capitalism.)

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Image: Courtesy Bmaryman/Flickr

The other one (2009) ends up being the most on-point; the goal of the essays was to identify topics that simultaneously made sense of our past, distilled today, and, hopefully glimpsed Seattle's future. With light rail opening this month (Saturday, March 19), I take a look at the significance of July 18, 2009 when we finally rejected our parochial past and got on with it.

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IMAGE: Alison Klein

2. In news from Olympia on Friday, the final day for one house to consider a bill passed in the other house, there was big news for Seattle.

Speaker of the house, state representative Frank Chopp (D-43, Walllingford) defied every Seattle state senator, including progressives such as state senators Pramila Jayapal (D-37, Southeast Seattle), Bob Hasegawa (D-11, Beacon Hill), and Sharon Nelson (D-34, West Seattle). Those three, along with 33 other state senators in a 36-13 vote (including yes votes from every Seattle state senator), sent a housing affordability bill to the house giving landlords a property tax break if they reserved 25 percent of their buildings for workforce housing (people making up to 60 percent of the median income, about $43,000 for a family of two.)

With his knee jerk, Baby Boom version of progressive politics, Chopp simply can't conceive of giving landlords a property tax break, and he rewrote the bill so the break only went to nonprofit developers; his change made no sense because nonprofits already use funding sources that require affordablity, and the bill wouldn't have created any new affordable units.

House lefties, like house sponsor state representative Noel Frame (D-36, Ballard), voted for Chopp's changes at the committee level earlier last week (amending her own bill) as a way to keep the bill alive and then re-amend it back to its original version. However, realizing Frame had the support of her liberal colleagues to do just that, Chopp simply refused to let the bill go to the floor for a full vote by Friday's cutoff.

State Representative Brady Walkinshaw (D-43, Capitol Hill), another progressive who supports the original version, tells me the bill still has a chance in this upcoming week of session finale budget horsetrading.

Meanwhile, the senate passed a house body camera bill, amending it to say officers are not required to turn off cameras inside homes. (The house bill already came with privacy protections to make sure that children and victims of domestic violence, for example, would not be subject to public disclosure.)

The bill passed 37-9, with two Seattle senators—Jayapal and Hasegawa—voting no because they didn't feel it went far enough to prioritize police accountability.

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