Last Week in Politics

Top 10 Stories: Safeco Field, UW’s Master Plan, and a Win for Tenant Advocates

Your weekly dose of top political stories.

By Anne Dennon September 24, 2018

1. King County Council approved using $135 million in taxpayer money for Safeco Field renovations despite public outcry. Without the funding, the Mariners had said the company wouldn't sign the upcoming 25-year lease agreement with the Public Facilities District, which owns the ballpark.

2. A Seattle City Council committee approved the University of Washington’s 10-year master plan, which includes massive vertical growth to accommodate an estimated 80,000 more people. But the nod came with conditions that hope to mitigate the expansion’s impact on traffic and housing, such as goals for car commute reduction and the construction of affordable housing for the school’s lower-income employees.

2. A former high school student of state representative Matt Manweller alleged she had a sexual relationship with him that began when she was 17, Northwest News Network reportedWhile the woman characterizes the affair, which began after she graduated from the high school where Manweller taught in the '90s, as consensual, she said she felt compelled to come forward when she heard Manweller dismiss the recent barrage of sexual allegations against him as "trivial" in video responses on his campaign website.  

The politician and educator was recently released from his tenured professorship as a political science professor at Central Washington University following investigations into alleged misconduct with female students. 

3. The Seattle School Board agreed to major points of negotiated public school contract, successfully skirting the strikes that hit 13 other Washington school districts. The board will officially vote on the one-year contract (which includes 10.5 percent raises, five days of paid parental leave, and increased funding for professional development) on October 31.

4. A lawsuit alleging that the Hanford nuclear reservation's tank vapors put workers at risk reached a settlement with the U.S. Department of Energy on Wednesday. In exchange for the state and organizations dropping the case, the federal government will now have to test a new system to eliminate the vapors and implement it at the site if it works. Washington attorney general Bob Ferguson  called the agreement “a historic victory” that will improve conditions for workers who have long reported side effects, ranging from nose bleeds to headaches after exposure to toxic-waste fumes. 

5. On the heels of Jeff Bezos’s announcement of $2 billion homelessness relief and preschool education fund, the Bezos Family Foundation gifted the University of Washington’s College of Education $3 million. Much of Bezos’s existing philanthropy, including the Day One Fund, focuses on childhood education.

The Seattle Times reported this new endowment represents a 13 percent boost in the College of Education’s total donations and creates a new early childhood education professorship.

6. Google is still selling local political ads despite a self-imposed ban, The Stranger reported. When Ferguson sued Google and Facebook in June accusing them of violating campaign finance laws, Google responded by promising to stop selling political ads in Washington.

The promise apparently didn’t stick. Two local candidates said they had since purchased ads for the campaigns, intended to run through the November election. 

7. Westin Seattle employees voted to strike against Marriott International, Seattle Weekly reported, but no picket lines have yet formed. The strike extends across cities and hospitality unions nationwide. The strike, intended to secure higher wages and greater job stability for hotel workers, has been aggravated in part by prolonged contract negotiations as well as the Labor Day arrest of 21 demonstrators outside Westin Seattle.

8. The imbalance of supply and demand in Seattle housing keeps old apartments expensive, Crosscut reported. An ApartmentList study of Seattle area rent quantifies the housing crisis caused by a growing population, a widening income gap, and the city’s zoning codes. ApartmentList housing economist Chris Salviati said a sufficient supply of market-rate housing alone wouldn't be enough to make housing affordable for everyone.

9. Tenant advocates on Friday scored a big win when a Superior Court judge stood by Seattle's move-in legislation. City council members passed in 2016, requiring that landlords allow payment plans for move-in costs. The court dismissed claims from the Rental Housing Association of Washington that it violated landlords' constitutional and property rights. 

10. Seattle mayor Jenny Durkan will create a new office to field systemic misconduct complaints within the city, and an investigative unit in the Department of Human Resources, she announced Friday. Her executive order follows months of reports on harassment and discrimination allegations the city has recently faced in the midst of the #MeToo movement.

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