News Roundup

Top Stories of the Week: Mayor Burgess, Russian Hackers, and Dino Rossi

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Araz Hachadourian September 22, 2017

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Tim Burgess sworn in as Seattle Mayor on September 18.

1. Tim Burgess is Seattle’s new mayor following a 5-1 city council vote on Monday. Burgess will serve until the November 28 election, leaving his council seat open until someone fills the term. The council vacancy corresponds to the beginning of the budget process, adding some urgency to the appointment.

The council announced Thursday that the applications for the seat will be open to the public. Any interested individuals should apply by October 1. Community leaders including Gender Justice League director Danni Askini and former council member Nick Licata have already expressed interest in the position.  The city will hold two optional community forums between October 2 and October 5 to allow members of the public to ask applicants questions before holding a special full council meeting on October 6 to decide.

2. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security informed Washington State secretary Kim Wyman of attempts by Russian hackers to influence the state’s 2016 election results, The Seattle Times reported. Wyman said the hackers were unsuccessful, and that the state was aware of attempts throughout the course of the election.

3. Republican state senator Dino Rossi on Thursday announced he is running for Dave Reichert's open seat for the Eighth Congressional District in next year's midterm election. Democrats want to take control of the House, and Reichert's retirement leaves the open seat vulnerable to swinging blue.

4. Mayoral candidate Jenny Durkan released her housing affordability platform Thursday afternoon. The plan includes a new city-run voucher program for rent-burdened households as well as building 1,000 new “tiny homes” during her first year in office. Durkan also plans to create more housing by speeding up development through Seattle’s current housing plan, HALA, as well as through a number of tax breaks and incentives for landlords and developers. Durkan surprised reporters when she also said she supports a speculation tax, a part of Carry Moon's platform Durkan criticized in the past.

5. City attorney candidates had a tense debate Wednesday night at the Seattle Human Services Coalition forum, where they took turns throwing blows at each other. The forum got heated when incumbent Pete Holmes accused former Ed Murray adviser Scott Lindsay of using prison labor to clean up homeless encampments. Lindsay said the decision to use prison labor was done by a task force and the city had used prison labor for other projects in the past.

6. On Wednesday, state attorney general Bob Ferguson sued GEO Group Inc., which operates the Northwest Detention Center in Tacoma, for paying detainees less than $1 a day for labor. Ferguson is arguing the second-largest private prison group in the country is violating the state's minimum wage law. The GEO Group in response said the work programs were voluntary and followed federal law. 

7. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday unanimously upheld the district court’s decision that the city’s updated use-of-force policy is constitutional. A group of more than 120 Seattle police officers sued the city in 2014 over the policy and argued it violated the Second Amendment rights of cops to use firearms for self-defense. 

8.  Republicans in Congress on Wednesday pulled out of a bipartisan approach to health care spearheaded by U.S. senators Patty Murray and Lamar Alexander (R-TN) in favor of an Obamacare repeal law introduced by Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy last week. If successful, the governor’s office projects 600,000 lower-income people in the state could lose health care. But John McCain's opposition to the GOP legislation could quash those efforts.