Archive for the ‘politics’ Category

Election Watch Party tonight at Twist

Are you totally excited about the upcoming election and eager to hear the results? Sure, it’s not as sexy as some of the elections we’ve had, but it’s still there are some important decisions to be made. Will the bag tax pass or fail? Who will make it through the primary to face off in the big battle royale for Mayor, King County Executive, and City Council Positions 4, 6, and 8?

Join the Municipal League, PubliCola and Seattle Works for an Election Watch Party Tuesday night featuring candidates, activists and all sorts of local folks ready eagerly anticipating the results tonight from 7:30 to 11 pm at Twist, 2313 – 1st Ave in Belltown. Hors d’oeuvres will be provided and there’s a cash bar for all your liquid needs. Television and internet will be available for when those first returns start rolling in around 8:15.

primary endorsements: here they come

There’s a primary election on 18 August and ballots are on their way to your mailbox. As such, editorial endorsements are beginning to appear:

  • the Seattle Times goes with both Nickels and Mallahan (even though you can only vote for one of them) [times]
  • the Stranger chooses Mike McGinn, along with picks for most of the other races (somewhat surprisingly, they also stuck with Licata). [slog]
  • the P-I isn’t making endorsements this year.

Get engaged! No ring required.

Fire Rings by xinapray. From our Flickr pool.
Tomorrow morning at 9:00 am (Wednesday, July 8th, to be precise), there will be a special meeting of the Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee. On the agenda is land use and zoning for the Qwest Field North Parking Lot, which might be of interest to the sporty among us. Also on the agenda, besides the usual boring amendments, corrections, and updates, is a report from the Neighborhood Planning Advisory Committee (and others) on the process of updating Seattle’s neighborhood plans. We all live in a neighborhood, yes? Yes!

The NPAC briefing and discussion is item six, slotted for about 45 minutes of the 2.5-3 hours that the committee will be sitting. You can attend in person to comment, or you can call or email:

Phone: 206-684-8888
Email: councilagenda@seattle.gov
Agenda PDF: http://www.seattle.gov/council/agendasc/planning.pdf

This is your chance to bitch and moan about sidewalks, speeders, crosswalks, street lighting, et cetera.

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On Friday, July 10th, the Seattle City Council Special Committee on Open Government will hold a special meeting, at 2:00 pm. Way back in January, the Seattle City Council made creating an online Citizen Engagement Portal one of its 2009 goals. Towards that end, they have improved the online Council calendar (Press Release)(Calendar).

Friday’s meeting is part of the process to make City government more open and accessible. On the agenda (PDF) are discussions about on recording executive sessions, the creation of ombudsman positions, and the Citizen Engagement Draft Plan.

I have previously pointed out that council and committee meetings are incredibly inconvenient for the average working stiff, but if you can get Friday afternoon off, you might as well spend two hours being alternately bored and outraged for a good cause.

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On the national front, our legislators are pretty much keeping their heads down. Senator Cantwell had been pretty mum about a public option for health care insurance, but she seems to be responding to an intense letter writing campaign. Cantwell was the sole Seattle-ish hold-out waffling on the issue, until last week; although she still hasn’t come out with a firm position, she’s at least mentioned the public option, publically, in a nominally supportive fasion.

A vague disclaimer is nobody’s friend: After my recent experience in a local ER, I became one of the foaming, letter-writing, email-sending, phone-call-making masses that contacted Senator Cantwell’s office to urge her to support a public option. During the 4.5 hours that I spent, mostly eavesdropping, in the ER, I was the ONLY person there who had a primary care physician and health insurance. Nothing like a little personal experience to politicize one.

"don’t call me liz", countdown’s wtf moment

Yesterday’s revelation of the bizarre “don’t call me Liz” e-mail thread between a McDermott aide and an overly apologetic scheduler from JP Morgan Chase has made it from Politico’s “shenanigans” blog [#] across the internet and back. Today it crossed over into even stranger territory when Keith Olbermann ended Countdown [msnbc] with a staged reading of the messages. Adding even further to the oddity, the part of Elizabeth Becton was played by a man in a terrible wig. Watch for yourself:

picture-51
“don’t call me liz”, msnbc.

Look for the Union label

Our honorable Mayor by evil robot 6, from our Flickr poolSeattle Mayor Greg Nickels most definitely did not cross a picket line in Providence RI yesterday. No sirree Bob.

Local 799 of the Providence International Association of Firefighters picketed the US Conference of Mayors meeting in Providence, this past weekend, to publicize their grievance with Providence’s Mayor David Cicilline. The firefighters have been working without a contract for four years; Cicilline has publicly referred to the protest as “political extortion,” as opposed to the exercise of the firefighters’ First Amendment rights.

VP Joe Biden, former King County Executive Ron Sims, former Governor Locke, and former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowski (and wow, that list certainly points up how many of our local politicos the Obama administration has taken on-board. I think it’s that “no state income tax” thing) all cancelled their appearances. Nickels, who was sworn in as the 67th president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday, ducked the issue by not going outside.

According to Deputy Mayor Tim Ceis and Nickels spokesman Alex Fryer, Nickels’ hotel was connected to the Rhode Island Convention Center. Since the demonstration primarily took place across the street, Nickels could give his cap-and-trade speech and be dubbed Conference President without having to see or confront the firefighters. Fryer said in an email that “we are respectful” of the “labor protest across the street from the convention center.” Local 799 president Paul Doughty would probably call that honoring the letter, but not the spirit, of the protest. On Monday, the protesters moved out of the city-designated areas.

The firefighters were not the only people protesting Cicilline’s policies, labor and otherwise. ‘Right to the City’ (a group protesting stimulus spending), the union of local Head Start employees, representatives of the Providence policeman’s union, and a group that were protesting the way the city handles protesters, all made an appearance at one time or another.

This is the first time that Providence has hosted the Conference in 77 years.

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[NOTE: Edited to fix cliche’.]

Walking the Talk

Walking Green Lake by Seattle Daily Photo - from our Flickr poolThe Seattle City Council is reviewing a draft plan to make Seattle a more pedestrian-friendly town. Appropriately enough, the measure is called the Pedestrian Master Plan. Very grand sounding, ain’t it?

I’ve lived in Seattle long enough to remember when Westlake Plaza was closed to traffic, and I’m still outraged that the city opened it. Westlake Center has never regained the vibrancy and foot traffic that it had when the Plaza was closed. And does anyone think that closing Pike Place Market to through traffic would detract from its appeal? There is no bad there.

The new plan, currently in draft and public comment stage, purports to focus on “safety, equity, vibrancy, and health,” through six stated objectives:

1. Complete and maintain the pedestrian system identified in the Pedestrian Master Plan
2. Improve walkability on all streets
3. Increase pedestrian safety
4. Plan, design, and build complete streets to move more people and goods
5. Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking
6. Get more people walking for transportation, recreation, and health

These are great goals, and the plan (read it HERE or download as a PDF -low res or high res) does an admirable job of outlining strategies and tactics to meet them. The city has a funding levy of $60 million to fund pedestrian improvements over the next six years. Based on current programs, the plan projects that $47 million will go towards new improvements, such as sidewalks, curb ramps, and signals, while $19 million would pay for maintenance. The plan would require other funding to fully support all of the objectives, such as private investment.

And it’s this last part that has me worried: private investment.

The draft Plan includes stated strategies for meeting the objectives. Among the strategies for #5– “Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking”– the single most important strategy is missing: car-free streets. Instead, “develop guidelines for car-free and shared space streets,” is the last item in the sidebar, under “sample of actions” that could possibly, perhaps, be considered to encourage walking.

Private investment does not like car-free streets. Private investment likes lots of convenient parking, preferably on-site parking. Pedestrians buy only as much as they can conveniently carry home or back to the office. Drivers buy as much as can fill up their SUV for the drive home to the suburbs. Car-free streets favor small businesses that serve local residents and employees. Parking lots favor ‘shopping destinations’ that serve tourists and visitors. National chain stores and big retailers wield the political clout and investment dollars that result in parking lots, narrow sidewalks, and through traffic. Neighborhood business owners, residents, and employees get screwed. Again.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As residents and business owners, we have a say in this process. The public comment period for the draft Pedestrian Master Plan has been extended to Friday, June 26th. You can read it at http://www.seattle.gov/mostwalkablecity.htm, or download a PDF from the same site.

Also, the Transportation Committee and the Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety will host a public hearing on the draft plan on Tuesday, July 21st, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (600 Fourth Ave.). This is your chance to be heard. Don’t blow it!

Other ways to comment:

Online webform: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pedestrian_masterplan/contact.htm
E mail: mostwalkablecity@seattle.gov
Telephone: 206-733-9970
Mail: Pedestrian Master Plan Comments
Seattle Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124-4996

Seattle Pedestrian Master Plan

The City of Seattle has created a Pedestrian Master Plan aimed at getting Seattle to be a more “walkable, livable, and healthy city”. The city has cooked up some notions on policies and programs and projects that are all about achieving this lofty goal. The city is looking for your feedback on the plan, now through June 15.

You can learn all about the Master Plan on the SDOT website here where you’ll also find links to news stories and blogs all about walking, as well as all the information you could ever want to know about walking in Seattle. I highly recommend spending some time using the Pedestrian Toolbox, particularly the semi-interactive feature on “Common Pedestrian Issues”.

jan drago and the hammering man making a run for mayor

According to a weekend press bulletin, Jan Drago will be holding a press conference at a “podium with mikes” near SAM’s Hammering Man to announce “her decision on the Mayor race.” The event takes place at 12:30; so if you’re looking for a lunchtime diversion, pack a picnic lunch and a question or two.

However, the appearance of JanDrago4Mayor on twitter seems to have spoiled the surprise about which way she’s leaning.

Picture 1.png
the first non-test post from @jandrago4mayor


update: Another release this morning provides a preview of her remarks, including a dig a Greg Nickels for making such a name for himself across the country: “I am not running to be the nation’s Mayor. There is enough here to do at home.” Among her with her promised focus on reinvigorating our economy and rebuilding trust between the neighborhoods and the Mayor’s Office, Drago pledged to “hit the reset button and lead this city.” I’m not entirely sure what that means, but if it’s anything like the –SPOILER– season finale of LOST, it should be exciting and blinding.

(full press release after the jump)

(more…)

Bathroom Access Bill

Damn Hell MC Chris by PunkJr

Consumerist points out that starting this summer, Washington State will force companies with 3 or more staff members clocked in to let customers use their restrooms in times of need. Previous horror stories likely prompted the bill.

The bill goes into effect on July 26th. The Seattle Times points out that “Pearl Jam guitarist Mike McCready, who suffers from Crohn’s disease, testified for the bill earlier this year.” Woohoo celebrity endorsement!

Hunger Challenge Day 5

This is likely my final post on Seattle Metblogs regarding the Hunger Challenge. It’s been a pretty good week.

A friend left this comment earlier and I wanted to address it in full here.

I personally think using any kind of kitchen machine is cheating. If we are doing this hunger challenge to bring attention to low income families and their eating dilemmas, I wouldn’t expect most of them to have such machines or the will to want to make such foods.

I disagree with this assessment for a variety of reasons. First off, used pasta makers can be found for fairly cheap. I’ve also seen many kitchen machines for free on Freecycle and or for cheap on local Craigslist posts.

Second, not everyone currently on food stamps have always been poor. With the downturn in the economy, visits to area food banks and applications for food stamps have increased, showing the need from many who previously did not need these services. My household for example, has the funds right now to buy kitchen appliances with cash, but if say my husband was laid off and neither of us could find work for a year, we would still have our kitchen appliances (if we hadn’t sold them for food).

Third, just because someone is poor doesn’t mean they do not have the inclination to cook. Consider this: many in the cooking industry do not pull in large salaries, but maybe they just love to cook so much that they make it happen at home. There are also those who are going to school and working only part time (or receiving unemployment) who are eligible for food stamps.

I think there are many different types of people who can be considered poor, due to different circumstances. Those living in poverty very well likely have not always lived in poverty. All in all, these are a few of the reasons why I do not consider it cheating to use kitchen appliances during a hunger challenge.

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