Last Week In Politics

Top 10 Stories: Seattle's Streetcar, the Showbox, and the Mariners

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Grace Madigan July 31, 2018

1. The Seattle City Council passed a bill that will guarantee rights to protect housecleaners, nannies, gardeners, and other "domestic workers." The legislation, sponsored by council member Teresa Mosqueda, protects workers from retaliation for filing complaints, enforce a minimum wage, rest and lunch breaks, and forbid employers from withholding personal effects or documents. 

2. The mayor's office said the new streetcars ordered last fall by the Seattle Department of Transportation are bigger than the current streetcars, The Seattle Times reported, drawing criticism from transit advocates. 

Whether the new streetcars will be compatible with existing tracks and maintenance garages still remains unclear, and transit advocates criticized mayor Jenny Durkan for raising shocking questions about the streetcar at a sensitive time for the project. "Mayor Durkan is burying the streetcar in bad press and likely knowingly," The Urbanist wrote. 

The current streetcars made by Inekon and the new ones made by CAF USA have the same standard gauge—the width between wheels to fit the tracks. But the new streetcars are longer and heavier than the old ones. Concerns of the size differences were brought up last fall by King County Metro, and it's still unclear whether these concerns are important to the new streetcars' functionality. Keith Kyle, executive director of Seattle Subway, told The Seattle Times he believes the statement was "a predetermined decision by the mayor’s office to kill the project."

3. After the Burien mayor Jimmy Matta—the city's first Latino mayor—was attacked during the Old Burien Block Party, the suspect turned himself in on Tuesday. KUOW reported that Burien detectives are working to determine if the crime falls under the state's hate crime statute.

Matta was grabbed by the neck and pushed to the ground and told, "We're not going to let you Latino illegals take over our city." Matta said he reported the incident hoping to show that others in the Latino community shouldn't be afraid to report harassment or threats made against them. 

4. King County lawmakers are considering following the steps of the city of Seattle in tightening regulations on firearmsThe Stranger reported that King County lawmakers want to require safe storage of firearms and also require gun sellers to post signs that would warn of the increased risk of suicide, homicide, death during domestic violence disputes, and unintentional deaths in a household. Council members Joe McDermott and Jeanne Kohl-Welles proposed the legislation. 

5. Crosscut reported that a system instituted to flag problematic cops isn't working. Seattle Police Department leaders questioned the new system as they noticed some of their best officers were being flagged. A study from Washington State University that analyzed 1,000 police reports appeared to show that officers labeled "high-risk" were more reflective of the neighborhood they worked in rather than a tendency to misbehave. 

6. Felony convictions related to marijuana are down by almost 90 percent since its legalization in 2012. Northwest News Network reported that an analysis showed between June 2008 and December 2009 there were 1,312 offenses committed which led to felony sentences. The first 18-month period following the legalization saw only 147 crimes related to marijuana that led to felony level sentences. 

7. Plans were announced to demolish the Showbox, a pillar of Seattle's music scene, and build high-rise apartments in its place. A day after the venue's 79th anniversary, news broke that Canadian-based development company Onni Group filed plans to build a 44-story tower where the Showbox currently stands. Building permits haven't been issued yet, and community members have taken to the internet to create petitions and organize efforts to save the Showbox. 

8. The Mariners made headlines for two reasons last week; Safeco Field's long-term lease agreement is contingent on $180 million in public funds and allegations against current president and former top executives.

The Seattle Mariners said the company won't sign the new lease unless King County gives them $180 million of taxpayer money to use on upkeep and renovations. King County executive Dow Constantine initially proposed to use the $180 million from the lodging tax revenues but received backlash for not using the public funds on an issue like affordable housing. 

The Seattle Times broke a story that three women accused Mariners executives of inappropriate workplace conduct in 2009 and 2010. Among the executives accused are current president of the Mariners, Kevin Mather, then-president Chuck Armstrong and then-executive vice president Bob Aylward. Mariners owner and managing partner John Stanton highlighted women in leadership roles within the organization and said he didn't see how things happened 10 years ago would reflect their organization today. 

9. Crosscut reported that representative Pramila Jayapal's interns threatened to strike if they weren't compensated for their work on Jayapal's re-election campaign. Jayapal's campaign met with the interns and struck a deal that will open 12 intern position that are each paid $750 a month for 10 hours a week plus an ORCA card. 

10. U.S. District Court judge Marsha Pechman ordered the federal government to turn over information regarding separated immigrant families. Federal officials deemed at least 711 parents ineligible for reunification. Pechman sided with Washington state against federal officials and ordered information about families and children to be handed over as well as information about the organizations reuniting families.

Lawyers for the federal government argued that handing over the information would slow down the process of reuniting families, to which Pechman responded: "This is is not rocket science."