Hella Bus Blog
Primarily Speaking is an on-going blog series brought to you by the Spring Interns at the Washington Bus. For questions on content, contact our series editor, Maya Garfinkel.
"To Olympia and Back with Ed Murray" by Brigit Rossbach
Ed Murray is currently the Leader of the Democratic Party in our state Senate and is running to be your mayor! He has served in state legislature since 1995, representing the 43rd district, which includes Fremont, the University District, Capitol Hill, Madison Park, and parts of Downtown. In his years in the Senate, he has done some great things for the young people in the state of Washington. He helped keep the Guaranteed Education Credits alive, allowing more Washington youth to go to college at an affordable rate. He was the prime sponsor of an act in 2002 that has protected LGBTQ youth from harassment and discrimination in schools, and was the prime sponsor of the Marriage Equality bill that passed last year. He was endorsed by the National Human Rights campaign and is a powerful leader for equality. There are some concerns about whether he has a vision for Seattle and a firm grasp on the issues facing the city, considering that his long standing focus has been on state issues. Overall Ed Murray has championed progressive issues that are good for young people of both our city and state.
Check back soon for Primarily Speaking Vol. #3, where we'll discuss fellow challenger Tim Burgess.
Primarily Speaking is an on-going blog series brought to you by the Spring Interns at the Washington Bus. For questions on content, contact our series editor, Maya Garfinkel at hellabus[at]washingtonbus[dot]org.
Overview by Maya Garfinkel
Still recovering from November? In Washington State political withdrawal? Still cleaning out your inbox of campaign emails? Well, get excited, because here in Seattle we have a whole lot of influential seats up for election this November! Primarily Speaking will discuss our city's candidates, political structure and all the mystery that comes with both. Following the August 6th primary, two mayoral candidates will advance to the November election. We are kicking it off with a glance at the incumbent, Mayor Mike McGinn. For more information on this unique candidate, check out his op-ed in response to his fellow candidate Ed Murray.
"The Unconventional Incumbent, Mike McGinn" by Thomas Shewe
It's alway nice to see a new blog pop up to shed some more light on the wild world of Seattle music. Enter JJMT, a collection of nice-seeming gentlemen writing nice posts about nice music.
It's election season again, and apparently the postal service is too broke to get election mail out on time. Want to know how you can fix this? Go buy a stamp, put it on your ballot, and send that sucker in.
There are a few transportation issues on the ballot. One, I-1125 is Tim Eyman's effort to limit tolling and light rail. Credit where it's due, Tim Eyman is a miracle worker for getting the Machinists Union and Boeing to cooperate on something.
Proposition 1, though, is a little more divisive. Prop 1 would impose a $60 license fee that would generate $204 million in transportation funding. What would get funded? About $100 million would go to transit projects, like improving Metro efficiency. A further $60 million would go to road maintenance. $44 million would go to crosswalks, sidewalks, and bike lanes.
The Seattle Times editorialized in its news section that we should reject Proposition 1 because we need more money for road maintenance.*
The pro-Proposition 1 campaign's main response? We need this money. Like whoa. Check out this video they recently put out.
However you feel about Proposition 1, it's getting pretty hard to argue that we don't need to fund more efficient bus service.
*My personal take on this argument? It in no way makes sense to say "We need more money for road maintenance, so vote against $60 million for road maintenance." I'm not exactly a fan of the Seattle Times, though.
Know what's good? Yes, young people voting. I agree. Also good is when food is so delicious that it makes you cry a single tear of joy, take a nap, and then do it all again.
Enter Chilitos, the U-district's newest and bestest restaurant. Good people, good food, and even better tortilla holders. Here is the Bus staff and friends in culinary heaven:
Taken while using the "surreal moonscape" app on Cary's Iphone (HI, DOUBLE KATHERINE).
Forgive us, It was quite blurry in there.
The Stranger formally declared a War on Cars this week. I really want to be the first soldier to enlist, but I’m too much of a peace and love flower child—I just can’t*.
Rather than accepting the Seattle Times’ “war on cars” frame, we need to do the transportation equivalent of some hippy putting a flower in the barrel of a national guardsman’s gun. Instead of getting angry and stooping to the misguidedly enraged driver’s level, let’s show them some unconditional love. Most people drive, and waging a political war on cars would be a little like being a young protestor throwing rocks at tanks--I'm sure it feels good, but it ain't gonna work.
Don’t get me wrong—I totally get the Strangers’ outrage. I am at my most-foul mouthed whenever a car pulls some wack ish too near my bike**. And the many recent cycling deaths remind me that my cycling attitude of “these motorized f*ckers are trying to kill me” is hyperbole, but probably has at least a grain of truth to it. Plus, it is absolutely absurd—maddeningly absurd—to think that building infrastructure that offers people cheaper, healthier and more fun transportation options and in fact makes all road users safer in any way constitutes a “war on cars.” The people who get around armored in two-tons of steel, on whom more than 85% of supposedly anti-car Seattle’s transportation money is spent, are not the victims, and it takes a really profound sense of entitlement to think that they are.
But the angry rhetoric isn’t going to help us win--it's only going to reinforce a false us vs. them attitude. The morning the Stranger came out, I got a text from a car-bound friend that read “War on cars in the Stranger? Well bring it, I’m rootin for the cars.” Yeah, my friend is a gigantic jackass, but that’s the type of reaction that this rhetoric can produce. We need to win people over—and guilt, casting holier-than-thou aspersions, and making common sense transportation policy into a culture war won’t do that no matter how right we are.***
Here’s what I would say instead: I bicycle because it’s fun, it’s less frustrating than sitting in traffic and looking for parking, and I get a great workout simply getting from place to place on a daily basis. Biking is cheaper than driving, too. I look better and feel better when I bicycle regularly--and I get the added bonus of getting out in this beautifully crisp fall air. Quite simply, I’m hooked. That’s why I bike. You should give it a serious try too.
Bicycles safety increases the more cyclists there are on the road, and our real task is to convince people to give bicycling a shot rather than get all up and start a culture war with the people we’re trying to convince.
Let’s be courteous on the road even when drivers aren’t—and wave and thank people who drive well. And when you talk about transportation, talk about how much you love biking, bussing or walking, and why it makes your life better. Talk about enabling transportation choices. And talk about safety for everyone. That’s how we’re going to get people on our side.
And if that doesn’t work, we can resort to growing our hair out, flashing peace signs at drivers and using the word “groovy” a lot.
* The curmudgeon in me really wants to get a “I am the war on cars” t-shirt to wear when I’m biking, though.
** Fortunately, most drivers have their windows up and can’t hear me—this is probably good for my health.
*** Plus, did I mention that I’d be a huge hypocrite if I started spouting “cars are evil” rhetoric—I drive decently often for work, or when biking and bussing simply won’t work for what I need to do. And I am definitely not alone amongst bikers and bussers in this.
Hairstylists and salons across Seattle have partnered with Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest Young Professionals to host , a two-day public fundraiser (Sept. 17 & 18) supporting access to basic reproductive health care.
Book an appointment at (or walk into) a participating salon this weekend, and a seasoned stylist will cut and style your hair for $45-- all of which will be donated to the People In Need fund. According to site, the fund "assists those who do not qualify for federal aid or do not have insurance in accessing basic, preventive reproductive health care services, like birth control and STI screenings."
On Thursday, September 15, The Seattle Center Pavilion will host the 2011 Seattle Career Fair from 10:30AM-2PM. Local employers representing financial, legal and business fields will be among the many representatives present, so bring some resumes and be prepared to interview for positions on the spot. The event is free and open to the public.
Scenario: Your ballot is on your living room table, looming menacingly. The array of heated primary races, referendi (plural), and antiquated language has you in a tizzy.
Well worry not! The good people at Seattle Works have an evening prepared that shall ease your worries with a stiff drink and a warm democratic embrace. That is: a toast to the primary!.
They'll be convening after the CityClub's forum about the Alaskan Way Viaduct (which you may want to attend ahead of time), alongside the panelists from the forum and city council candidates at Fado, downtown. More info and RSVP here.
The future, it drifts tantalizingly before us like a Krispy Kreme at the end of a mammoth Red Vine soaked in log cabin syrup. It looks enticing, but you know that taking on the whole thing by yourself will give you a stomach ache. That's why the Seattle Department of Planning and Development wants to hear all y'alls voices when it comes to planning the next 20 years of Seattle development. To get the ball rolling, they've got a survey asking for your ideas on how to move the city forward. Take a peek and throw down some wisdom. Increasing urban density? More low-income housing? Personalized gold-encrusted gondolas? Let the folks making it happen know what you want to see.
In light of Candidate Survivor (today!) the Hella Bus writing staff tag-teamed up to bring you some quick previews for all 5 Seattle City Council races this year. (Arielle, Sam, Peter, Gabe, and Alex). Extra points if you can guess who wrote which!
Entering the ring in Position 5, we have two term incumbent Tom Rasmussen going up against untested challenger Dale Pusey who has made a surprising impact on the candidate interview circuit by… not actually showing up to any candidate interviews (until the most important one, Survivor tonight!).
While Rasmussen seems like the overwhelming favorite as Pusey hasn’t actually raised any money, upsets can happen. If this goes down any other way besides Rasmussen taking a third term, it will be forever known as the “Miracle On Ice” of Seattle City Council races.
This bout just may be one to remember, folks. Bruce Harrell vs. Brad Meacham, the archetypical clash of power versus speed.
Incumbent Bruce Harrell was once a star UW linebacker, and he transferred many of those skills to his career as a lawyer and politician. In fact, power is one of his largest priorities; Harrell’s City Council website says his “goal is to make sure your energy and utility needs are met”.
Challenger Brad Meacham, however, hopes to take the title by remaining quick on his toes, staying mobile and dodging as many blows as he can. His campaign has focused on mobility, promising to “prioritize resources to provide transit that serves as a car alternative for more people.”
Since the dawn of man; since our vaguely anthropomorphic forebearers hauled themselves out of the salty brine and began our gradual evolution towards IPad wielding cosmopolitans - we've awaited a clash worthy of our epochal epoch. The city council race for position 7, featuring David Schraer vs. Tim Burgess, is not that race. It will, however, be very entertaining! Burgess is seen by many as a potential Mayoral candidate in 2012. Schraer is not. Schraer's got a passion for transit. Burgess is focused on public safety and education. Sorry, I'm exhausted from that first sentence.
In this hot n' heavy three way match for the title of Seattle City Council Position 9, Sally “the slayer” Clark reigns as the defending champion. In preparing for the upcoming match she has been focusing on job creation, promoting small businesses, and transportation. Challenging Clark's title is Dian Ferguson. After several years of training with non-profits and experience as a small business owner, Ferguson feels that she has the ability to knock out Clark and provide a new voice for Seattle residents. The third challenger in this competitive triad is newcomer Fathi Karshie. Hailing from Ethiopia, Karshie throws punches discussing issues such as Seattle's economy and the city's diverse cultural make-up. All candidates bring to the table diverse skills and strengthens that make this a match to watch.
Here it is, folks, the granddaddy of them all, the Thrilla on the Hilla, the Pike Pine Pounding... it's the City Council Position 1 race. Weighing in as a welterweight we have incumbent Jean Godden, whose support for social services and women's issues takes the form of a mean haymaker. She might have lost a step over the years, but she sure still hits hard. Meanwhile, fellow welterweight Maurice Classen has a swift right hook, something he learned on the mean streets of Pioneer Square near the Courthouse, where he was a deputy King County Prosecutor and went after domestic violence suspects. Heavyweight Bobby Forch has the guile of a longtime city employee and hits hard on police reform issues. Meanwhile, underdog middleweight Michael Taylor-Judd wants to punch out the tunnel and take it back to the neighborhoods.
I know how you feel, man.
Big sports news on this lovely Monday: the Mariners finally pulled it off. Our boys in blue just lost their fifteenth straight game in Boston against the Red Sox. This epic streak of futility bests the previous franchise record of 14 losses, which was set by the illustrious 1992 Mariners. The Mariners have a puncher's chance to break the all-time record for the longest losing streak (23 games in a row), which was set by the illustrious 1961 Phillies.
But the really amazing thing about the Mariners isn't their aptitude for losing (losing is a significant element of the Seattle Mariners' style of play, especially in recent years) but the manner in which they're doing it. The Mariners have excellent pitching and awful hitting. Really, really awful hitting. Horrible, horrible hitting. It's like this: if you, me, and two of our friends went up to the plate against a Major League pitcher, we'd probably score as many runs as any four Mariners would (provided that you and your two friends are professional baseball players, I'll balance things out).
In fact, the Mariners' offense is so bad that they have a chance to break another record set by the team: last year the Mariners had the worst American League offense since the league implemented the designated hitter rule. The Mariners are on pace to score even fewer runs this year! The Mariners may quite literally have the worst offense ever—and they'll have done that for two years in a row! It's pretty amazing, actually—these sorts of achievements are the kind of thing I get to enjoy frequently as a Seattle sports fan. (Seriously—what other town would send a losing team to the NFL playoffs?)
Actually, on that note, you might want to show up at Safeco later this week for Sonics night—yes, you read that right—the Mariners are mourning the city's loss of Kevin Durant and company as a promotion, even as they might be challenging for the all-time losing streak record. Hersey Hawkins and Gary Payton will be there. It'll be the most Seattle thing you do all summer: sad, graybeard Supes and horrible baseball under a cloudy sky. There's nice views of the Olympics, though, if you sit out by center field.
Money and politics have always gone together and always will: that's just the nature of both. Still, I've always been of the opinion that there should be as little mixing as possible. There's a lot of obvious reasons for that—conflict of interest, quid pro quo, privileged access, and all that good stuff—but I would like to draw your attention to another casualty of too much money in politics—the citizen-candidate.
Raising money for a campaign requires lots of money at every level, especially if there aren't firm contribution limits. Even on the lower levels it costs a lot of money—lots of incumbents in Seattle City Council races have raised in excess of $200,000 for the upcoming election. Raising that kind of money requires a huge time investment. In this piece from a few 2007, former City Council candidate Casey Corr describes the hours upon hours of calls that he had to make to have enough money to run. That's a typical experience for any serious candidate.
While some candidates can get by on sheer charisma and door-to-door canvassing, the candidate that can make it work over the course of a multi-month election campaign and win a respectable margin—let alone a majority—is a rare one. Most grassroots candidates can't compete with direct mailing and radio ads if they don't have the same resources.
That means that there's a fundraising requirement that candidates have to meet. That requirement is, in my view, a challenge that candidates shouldn't have to overcome. And it detracts from the quality of political campaigns—how are you supposed to have enough energy to meet voters and educate yourself on issues if you have to spend twelve hours every day dialing for dollars?
And, if you're facing a serious, respected incumbent, then you're already at a huge fundraising disadvantage. Incumbents already have a donor network that's worked for them at least once before (sometimes more than that). They also get access to the political money that will always be in a race—some people always give to candidates, and those people usually give to incumbents—it's a lot easier to get an appointment with an official if you've contributed to the campaign (though I don't want to imply that our state's elected officials are selling their votes—they're not). The advantages of incumbency are pretty staggering, but they are one of the features of electoral politics. It's the nature of the game.
Still, there there's such thing as an unfair advantage. Tim Burgess, the current City Council President, had this to say in 2007 about the amount of money in City Council races: "The good news is more and more contributors are becoming involved," Burgess said. "The bad news is that we're nearing the point where it's prohibitively expensive to run, particularly for challengers." Burgess hit the nail on the head—lots of good people aren't running for office because they're scared away by the amount of money you have to raise. And that was three years ago.
That's why we could use public financing in this town. Public fundraising has lots of different successful models; the common denominator is that the public pays for election campaigns for qualifying campaigns either in full or in part. This sort of campaign finance model can be extremely useful in the right context—if the incentives are right, most or all of the candidates for a certain office will sign up for public financing. Until recently, that was what happened in Presidential elections—until George W. Bush won in 2000, every winning candidate since Gerald Ford had accepted public financing.
There are lots of benefits inherent to a publicly-funded campaign finance system: the candidates spend less time raising money, they're less beholden to their donors, elections are perceived by voters as fair, and, most importantly to our current subject, publicly financed campaigns can be subject to funding caps. Campaigns that rely on money from private donors can spend as much as they want (i.e. as much as they take in). Campaigns that take money from the taxpayer have to follow the taxpayer's rules—including rules about how the money is spent and the election is run. If we had a successful public financing system, we'd be able to level the playing field.
Public financing does have a little bit of history behind it. In 2008, the Council commissioned a study on implementing a public financing system in Seattle but didn't come up with a proposal to implement a system. It'd be a great thing for our local democracy if the Council would seriously consider a new system in time for 2013, which will probably be much more competitive on account of the simultaneous mayoral race. It'd be the perfect time to draw up and battle-test a bold new campaign finance system that could be the envy of the rest of the country. It'd be pretty cool if Seattle developed a reputation as the city of the citizen-candidate.