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Topic: Seattle City Council
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December 4, 2013 at 5:38 AM
On the eve of my retirement, Times Editorial Page Editor Kate Riley suggested I pick my favorites from the 342 columns I’ve written for The Times since 2000. Here are 10, with my own headlines:
1. “Games With Words,” April 12, 2000. This was my takedown of the World Trade Organization protesters, who used loopy logic to justify their disruption of an international conference.
2. “A Republican War,” April 9, 2003. I hated the Iraq war and wrote three columns against it before President Bush started it. This one was written while U.S. soldiers were on the way to Baghdad. In it, I predict that the conquest of Iraq would result in an electoral disaster for the Republicans in 2004. I was wrong; the disasters came in 2006 and 2008.
November 22, 2013 at 1:41 PM
Kshama Sawant is a natural campaigner.
Clearly, she’s a passionate voice for those who agree with her. But does she listen to those who don’t? Because if she wants to create substantive changes in Seattle, she’ll have to learn the art of the political deal.
Each time she says something that resonates with voters, like this: (more…)
November 15, 2013 at 12:01 PM
The apparent victory of Kshama Sawant over incumbent Seattle City Councilman Richard Conlin proves something other than that a socialist can win election in lefty Seattle. It also shows that Seattle Proposition 1, taxpayer financing of city council campaigns, was not necessary.
It’s losing, narrowly, and that’s good. Taxpayers of Seattle, who are taxed heavily already, don’t need to pay for politicians’ campaigns.
The point of taxpayer financing, according to its advocates, is not to allow big money to buy elections. Consider Sawant. She is foreign-born with a foreign name. She had never held elective office. She is a socialist, and proudly says so. And she raised $105,630, according to the latest reports, in individual contributions no larger than $700. The total is less than half of what Conlin raised, but it was enough to beat him.
There were other radicals on the ballot, but they raised nothing. It wasn’t because the doors were shut to them. It was because they didn’t want to do the work.
Public financing is a law for lazy candidates.
The passage of Charter Amendment 19, for the election of most of the council by district, will make it easier for challengers to run, further undermining the case for taxpayer-financed political campaigns.
November 6, 2013 at 12:01 PM
Seattle voters made a series of bold decisions Tuesday night. Not only did they oust a mayor, they rejected public financing for political campaigns (Prop 1) and created a hybrid district system (Charter Amendment 19) that will alter City Council elections beginning in 2015.
Incumbent city council members Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, Sally Bagshaw and Richard Conlin retained their seats, but prepare for a shake-up at City Hall.
All nine members are currently elected citywide. With a new system consisting of seven district and two at-large positions, voters will be able to elect a candidate who lives in their neighborhood and is more accountable for local concerns. Most other major cities already do this. A similar set-up in Seattle should liven up city council debates, which some observers accuse of being increasingly stale because the current council is ideologically aligned. Members are also hampered by the fact that they each represent the broad interests of more than 600,000 constituents. With districts, they’ll be focused on addressing the needs of about 88,000 residents.
This will be a fascinating change. Among the key questions: Which council members plan to run again under this new system? Will they compete against each other or at-large?
Below is the Seattle Districts Now map. I’ve added text to indicate where current council members live.
Faye Garneau, the north Seattle businesswoman who bankrolled the Seattle Districts Now effort with about $200,000 of her own money, says it was money well-spent if it forces future council members to prioritize and be more responsive to neighborhood concerns outside the downtown core.
“It’s my city. I love it,” she said over the phone Wednesday morning. “I want to leave it better than when I entered it. And I think it will be. ” (more…)
September 26, 2013 at 7:07 AM
Seattle’s rental market absolutely should not go the way of New York City and San Francisco prices.
In Tuesday’s Seattle Times, reporter Sanjay Bhatt wrote a news story revealing landlords plan to increase rent by about 3 percent between September and March, on top of an estimated 7.5 percent increase over the last 12 months. Part of the problem is people in the millennial generation (born between the early 1980s and 1990s) are moving from bigger cities to Seattle. They’re accustomed to paying much more, and landlords know it. According to Bhatt’s news story:
In New York, renters in that age group spend roughly 70 percent of their income on housing, reports JLL, which compared millennial income data from PayScale.com to its own data on rents. In San Francisco, it’s about half their income.
In Seattle, rent consumes about 30 percent of millennials’ income.
There’s nothing wrong with people moving to Seattle. Quality of life here is great. If rent continues to eat up a greater portion of paychecks, though, the working poor and young adults will soon be priced out of the city’s urban core. Allowing that to happen will make Seattle less diverse and exacerbate traffic problems by forcing more people to live farther out and drive to work. Also, the more people spend on housing, they less they save or spend on food and the local economy.
In a Sept. 3 editorial, our editorial board encouraged the mayor and city leaders to pursue policy changes to increase affordable housing options.
I’m also intrigued by Sightline Institute Founder Alan Durning‘s e-book released last July, “Unlocking Home: Three Keys to Affordable Communities.” Durning, a Ballard resident and expert in sustainable living, studied the history of affordable housing throughout the northwest. In the 50-page book, he identifies three “less controversial” and politically feasible reforms that have worked. He says the city could make some simple changes in code to create thousands of additional units in existing neighborhoods. The three keys are: (more…)
September 18, 2013 at 12:15 PM
It’s mystifying to see Seattle City Council President Sally Clark’s Twitter account has blown up with criticism from gay activists, thanks to an off-hand comment from Mayor Mike McGinn. Mystifying, because Clark, the first openly gay council president, co-sponsored council resolutions in support of same-sex marriage in 2012 and donated to the campaign to affirm its legality. Her record on LGBT issues is rock-solid.
But she became a target nonetheless when she declined McGinn’s offer to sponsor a city council resolution denouncing Russia’s retrograde law criminalizing “homosexual propaganda.” (For background, read this New York Times story).
McGinn suggested the resolution in response to a letter from the Seattle Russian Consul General Andrey Yushmanov, who criticizing the mayor’s participation in a Sept. 3 protest outside Yushmanov’s Madison Park home. “… I would appreciate if you could clarify whether such your (sic) support of the protesters reflects the official position of the authorities of Seattle,” Yushmanov asked in a letter.
When McGinn, in an interview with The Stranger, said Clark had declined to sponsor a council resolution, editorial director Dan Savage (who has 167,000-plus Twitter followers), pounced on Clark as hypocritical.
August 14, 2013 at 7:42 AM
The city of Seattle limits the number of taxi licenses to 850. That number has not kept up with demand as unlicensed competitors such as UberX, Lyft and Sidecar have crept into the market.
These new services, powered by smartphone apps, should be regulated by the city for safety, but I also argued that it’s time for the city to lift its cap on taxi licenses in a Tuesday column, “End the city’s taxi monopoly and let Uber roll.”
A Seattle City Council committee is studying demand for ride services in Seattle and could raise the total amount of licenses allowed, change the strange division between “taxi” and “for hire” licenses and require the new services to be regulated for safety.
If the city continues to limit the number of taxi licenses, it could risk potential litigation.
In April, a Milwaukee Circuit Court judge ruled its taxi monopoly was illegal and ordered the market opened. In Minneapolis, a U.S. District Court judge also ruled its taxi cap illegal in 2006. The Arlington, Va., nonprofit Institute for Justice was involved in both lawsuits.
June 25, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Sure, it’s summer and the last thing you want to do is think about politics. But it’s time again to do your civic duty. Campaign season is in full swing with a full slate of candidates challenging incumbent Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and incumbents in other races drawing worthy challengers.
Last week, members of The Seattle Times editorial board began interviewing candidates for possible endorsement in Seattle School Board and Metropolitan King County Council races. We’ve also started looking at the Seattle City Council and will be spending some time with McGinn and his challengers. Port of Seattle and Bellevue City Council and School Board are also on our lists.
As I wrote in my Sunday column, we will start publishing our election recommendations this week with the goal of having them completed by the time ballots are mailed out. We will make recommendations in races that have three candidates or more filed. Those races with only two will not appear until the general election ballot. King County elections has posted a list of those races that will be on the ballot.
If you have any questions for the Seattle mayoral candidates or any others, we’d love to hear them. Please leave your suggestions in the comments below.