Morning Fizz

Musical Chairs at City Hall and in the State Legislature

Gonzaléz loses top staffer, Rossi back in state senate, and Uber rules take center stage.

By Josh Feit December 6, 2016

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1. Late last year, when as an incoming Seattle City Council member, Lorena Gonzaléz hired Democratic speaker of the house Frank Chopp’s (D-43, Wallingford) senior advisor Orlando Cano as her own chief of staff, the chattering classes were agog at a what a power house/rising star/future mayor Gonzaléz was. What a steal! What a sign!

One year later, however, Fizz has learned: Orlando is on his way back to Chopp’s office to be Chopp’s chief of staff.

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I have a message in to Cano.

2. Yesterday, I reported the final certified election numbers on ST3’s big win in Bellevue specifically, by pointing out that the 90s were finally over. That was a snarky reference to the anti-Sound Transit movement—Kemper Freeman, Rob McKenna, Kevin Wallace, The Eastside Transportation Association—which was based in Bellevue and which fought Sound Transit every step of the way for more than 15 years.

But a little basic research shows that the old-school Bellevue establishment was actually out of step with Bellevue voters all along. ST1, the original 1996 regional vote to start building light rail in the first place, cleaned up in Bellevue winning by more than 1,000 votes. It turs out, the suburbs have always been cool with rapid mass transit.

No wonder Claudia Balducci, the former Bellevue city council member and Bellevue mayor who fought the Freeman/Wallace alliance to make sure light rail ran through the center of town for some legitimate transit oriented development, was ultimately elevated to the King County Council, knocking out a longtime Republican light rail skeptic.

3. Speaking of the Eastside suburbs, the Seattle Times has the news that the King County Council went with the local Republican party’s top pick to fill former state senator Andy Hill’s (R-45, Kirkland) vacant seat (Hill died of cancer in late October.) They appointed former Eastside Republican state senator Dino Rossi. Rossi, who ran three losing statewide races—twice for governor against Chris Gregoire and once for U.S. senate against Patty Murray—said he’s only taking the job as a placeholder and has no plans to run for the seat proper when the term expires in 2018.

While the Times noted that there’s another vacancy to fill—soon-to-be U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal’s now-vacant state seat in the Southeast Seattle’s 37th Legislative District—there are actually a couple of other state legislature vacancies on the Eastside in the 48th Legislative District: State senator Cyrus Habib (D-48, Kirkland) won his election for lieutenant governor leaving his seat open.

The two Democratic state representatives in the 48th, Patty Kuderer and Joan McBride, are vying for that spot, which means, in turn, there’s also going to be an open house seat there. The contest for the house seat features a micro version of the Bernie Sanders/Establishment Democratic Party split, with new Sanders-inspired 48th precinct committee officers (the PCOs choose and send the preferred pick on to the King County Council) siding with Brayden Olsen and the older, longtime members of the district supporting Matt Isenhower.  

There’s a third candidate, however, who’s above the fray and netting some serious endorsements, Bellevue City Council member Vandana Slatter; she’s been endorsed by Jayapal, incoming Mercer Island state senator Lisa Wellman, and former 48th Legislative District representative Ross Hunter, who now heads the state’s department of early learning.

There’s some extra drama in the race—the vote is this Thursday night—because Isenhower, a Navy vet who ran for the state senate seat and lost to Hill in 2014, is still carrying the burden of a sneaky Republican hit piece mailer from that earlier race , which highlighted that Isenhower’s wife worked for Dick Cheney (true) and that Isenhower did some spot work—he wrote a memo—for the Bush White House. (The crafty ad was aimed at Democrats to diminish turnout.) Isenhower also once donated to Dino Rossi—$300 in 2004, according to the Public Disclosure Commission.

4. There’s a public hearing today at city hall on the city’s new recommendations for Uber and other for-hire driver unionizing efforts. You’ll remember, last year, city council member Mike O’Brien passed some experimental legislation that allows the for-hire drivers to unionize (the National Labor Relations Board doesn’t specifically give contract workers that right.)

The legislation got bogged down over which drivers—full time? part-time? part-part-time?—would be eligible to vote. Last week, the city’s office of Finance and Administrative Services suggested that drivers who have provided at least 52 trips over three months during the year preceding a potential union vote are eligible to vote. Uber objects to the recommendation because they say that leaves out thousands of part time drivers. Why would Uber want to make more drivers eligible for a union? They say one driver/one vote is the fairest system. But union reps say pitting full-timers against part-timers would undermine a unified union effort and potentially derail the yes vote. 

5. In case you missed it: Yesterday's Jolt was about a burgeoning surprise new neighborhood movement in Seattle. And you can blame Donald Trump. 

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