Hella Bus Blog
- 14,357 registered voters statewide
- 20,000+ doors knocked
- 95,000 phone calls to young people
- 4,000+ volunteer engagements
- Students couldn't get to school.
- Workers couldn't get to work.
- People with disabilities who are unable to drive couldn't get anywhere.
- Car drivers would find themselves sitting in far worse traffic when previous bus riders found themselves driving instead.
In case you weren't aware, the deadline to sign up for the Affordable Care Act is March 31st.
People lacking coverage (either through their employers, parents, or private market plans) will owe the government either $285 or 1% of their yearly household income,
Also when they get sick they'll end up owing thousands of dollars to a hospital that provides them with bare bones care.
Still not clear? Maybe watch Obama and Zach Galifianakis talk about birth certificates and spider bites.
New waves of cultural + economic developments are breaking ground in Seattle. From the Waterfront to the Central District, evolving demographics, developments, and existing regional disparities illuminate a significant opportunity for our city to refine our future with lessons from the past.
James Corner, celebrated landscape architect and urban designer, set forth an ambitious vision for Seattle’s Waterfront that has everyone talking. In fact, the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture is co-presenting “Art, Design, and Play: Liane Lefaivre” tonight at the Plestcheeff Auditorium in the Seattle Art Museum from 6-8PM, to curate a discussion around “play as a design tool for architects, city planners, and public artists.” The evening is one of four public events hosted by the Friends of the Waterfront via Waterfront Week, a short series inviting public dialogue around urban design and creative placemaking.
Recent disruptions with Bertha below the Alaskan Way Viaduct have drizzled uncertainty and concern among community stakeholders. No time for play, in other words. Charming renditions of waterfront designs have also catalyzed criticism from folks about the practical utility of investing millions in such plans. Yet, stakeholder input is welcomed across every stage of the planning process, including remarks from Mayor Ed Murray,
“I am committed to transforming our waterfront into a world-class park, to reconnect our city to the bay, and to create a waterfront for all. Although our waterfront is downtown, this project is not just for downtown, but for every neighborhood and community,” Murray said.
A City in Transition
Reconnecting our city is certainly worth the investment. Recent sentiments in Naomi Ishisaka’s reflections “Changes in the Central District Affect the Africian American Community” in Seattle Magazine reinforce the need for community engagement, cultural preservation, and intentional, equitable urban planning as a new wave of gentrification crests. Gentrification. What does gentrification mean for communities socioeconomically, ethnically, and culturally diverse?
Human geography is infused with evolution. While evolution is often not inclusive of intentional, equitable permutations, Seattle is uniquely poised to venture onward responsibly. Relevantly, a conscious articulation of responsible evolution includes lessons from the newly published, 20 Ways to Not Be a Gentrifier in Oakland, “What people don’t seem to realize is it isn’t the mere act of moving into a neighborhood that makes you a gentrifier; it’s what you do once you get there. “
Closer to home, you can find 5 ways to Make the City Better for People of Color, by Danielle Henderson, which is a response to Issaquah High School students use of social media for racist attacks against rival basketball team players at Garfield High School. When it comes to racial equity, Henderson advises,"Don’t assume what people of color in your community need—ask them."
Evolving demographics, developments, and disparities call for our communities to work together to ensure the Seattle of tomorrow speaks to the priorities and concerns of today.
Are you aged 18 to 25? Do you have an abiding love for political engagement? Do you want to make 19 new best friends? Are you looking for something to do this summer? Well, look no further! The Washington Bus Fellowship is the place for you.
The Fellowship is a 10 week long summer social justice, politics, and community building program that will probably change your life. Fellows run some of the most innovative and exciting political campaigns in the state, while learning how to amplify the voice of young people in the political process. An average day for a Fellow might include learning from some of the top political leaders around, working on - and running - amazing political campaigns, or speaking at Capitol Hill Block Party!
This could be you!
If that sounds like something you're interested in (and let's be honest, it probably does!) then you've come to the right place! The next deadline for application is THIS FRIDAY, March 7! You can download applications from the Washington Bus Fellows website. Get them in and get ready to have the best summer of your life!
Can't wait for the Fellowship to start? Count down with us on the official Washington Bus Fellowship Countdown Calendar!
This blog post was written by Isabella Fuentes, a current Winter Intern at the Washington Bus.
Big news, Washington! A little over two weeks ago, Governor Jay Inslee put a moratorium on executions for as long as he's in office. This represents a change of heart for the head of our state, who previously supported capital punishment.
Inslee, who spent months reviewing the use of the death penalty with everyone from families of victims to prosecutors, cited a few flaws with the system in issuing his moratorium: that it could be applied unequally, took too long, cost too much, and was too final.
This comes hot on the heels of a study out of the UW Sociology department which showed that, in otherwise alike cases, African-Americans were 3 times more likely to be executed than Caucasians.
Inslee isn't the first governor to push back on the death penalty recently. The chief executive of Colorado, John Hickenlooper, recently issued a stay on executions in the Centennial State. Martin O'Malley of Maryland banned the death penalty in his state in June, making Maryland the 18th state to do so. Finally, Oregon's John Kitzhaber adopted a moratorium on capital punishment similar to Washington's way back in 2011.
Governor Jay Inslee looking all gubernatorial and stuff
So what does this all mean for Washington? Well, nobody will be executed here for at least the next three years, or seven if Inslee is reelected. There's a bill in the legislature, sponsored by Representative Reuven Carlyle (D-36) which would ban capital punishment in Washington entirely. And King County prosecutor Daniel Satterberg called for public debate on the issue, meaning an initiative or referendum could be coming your way soon. Stay tuned to Hella Bus as things develop!
This blog post is written by 2013 Bus Fellow and UW Alumnus (c/o '13) Michael Padilla.
The Washington State House passed the Senate version of the DREAM Act last Tuesday*, and it is heading to Governor Inslee’s desk for a final signature today at 2pm before it becomes law. The DREAM Act is a much needed piece of legislation that will help countless undocumented students, by providing them fair access to state need-grant money.
Nearly 12% of Washington State is Hispanic and over 250,000 people of that 12% were born outside of the country. Many of them were brought over as babies and toddlers by parents seeking to make a better life for them. And many would have graduated from Washington high schools every year with no real shot at a college education regardless of how hard they worked and how well they did in school. The financial barriers of rising tuition and textbook costs, not to mention living expenses, contradicted the widely held belief in our country that hard work and perseverance would get you ahead in life. The passage of the DREAM Act is a major step to remedying that. I hope that this news demonstrates to other states and national leaders that there is not only a need for reform and progress, but that it is also something people support.
Final tally for passage of the "DREAM Act" in the House
While this an incredible step forward for Washington and the young people of the state looking to continue their education past high school, there is still so much more left to do! A first step should be to send a quick thank you email to the legislature (with the help from our friends at OneAmerica) for putting aside politics and sending the DREAM Act to the Governor’s desk. But the fight doesn’t stop there! The bus and other awesome organizations are still working on making Washington a better place by pushing for motor voter registration for 16 and 17 year olds, extending voter registration deadlines (it could boost voter turnout by 85,000+ votes every year!), and pulling out all the stops in support of the Washington State Voting Rights Act.
Washington is going in the right direction and I hope that it keeps up the pace!
*The WA State House of Representatives made history by passing their own version of the DREAM Act on 1/13/14, the first day of session. The version passed last Tuesday by the House was the State Senate's version of the bill, called the "REAL Hope Act."
Monday afternoon the King County Council approved a ballot measure aimed at maintaining King County's current level of bus service.
The same great recession that gave us Obama and terrible youth unemployment also dramatically lowered the revenues dedicated to King County Metro. The funding deficit would force Metro to cut 17% of its existing service levels.
Until recently our local leaders were hoping Olympia would give us the authority to enact a progressive local fee in order to pay for our own bus service. But unfortunately the splintered factions to the south failed to act, leaving King County with one final option: a $60 car tab fee and a 0.1% increase in the sales tax.
This is King County's final option. If voters fail to pass this ballot measure, nearly 1 in 5 bus hours will be lost. King County has a great list of the potential cuts here.
The special election will be held April 22nd of this year. So load up on stamps, register to vote, and have that trusty black pen on hand. Your commute depends on it.
Motor Voter 16 and 17 year old Pre-Registration - Double the excitement of getting your driver's license by registering to vote? Yes, please.
Extending the Voter Registration Deadline - This bill was amended to move up the online voter registration deadline from 29 days to 11 days. Studies suggest that this little 'ol change could boost voter turnout by roughly 85,050 votes every year. And many of these late bloomers will be first time voters.
Washington State Voting Rights Act - To put it simply: Democracy works better when more people are involved and everyone is represented. The Voting Rights Act ensures that when structural barriers are leaving people out, we have a way to address them. Learn more at wavotingrights.org!
This image of Rep. Sam Hunt only begins to describe our happiness.
Below are some of the best people we can think of, the 2014 Washington Bus Winterns! Come catch them at a phone bank at the Bus Office, getting folks to talk to their legislators about awesome voter access bills, or throwing the next great party for a purpose. Want to apply to be a Bus intern? Head on right over here for more.
Dagmawit Kemal, nicknamed Dee, is currently a Junior at Garfield High School. She was born in Ethiopia and moved to Seattle at the age of 3. On her free time, she enjoys researching the happenings of the world, jamming out with her friends and social networking! Now the Scheduling Intern for the Bus, Dee is hoping not only to restart the Hella Bus Blog with her fellow Intern Isabella, but make it the best blog on the Internet!
Emma Kibort-Crocker grew up in Seattle, and after graduating high school, spent a year in Rhode Island working with City Year. Missing Seattle, she headed back to the great ol' PNW to attend the UW where she is currently a sophomore. When Emma's not rocking out as the Parliament Lead intern, she enjoys exploring the outdoors, singing with (not to) Beyonce, and finding the best pizza joints in town.
Isabella Fuentes is excited to be the Content Lead for the Hella Bus blog this 2014 Winternship! A serial intern, she's been on the Bus for four seasons now, and is probably never leaving. Isabella is junior at Ingraham High School, and when she's not blogging, she likes to go to concerts and collect presidential biographies.
Lucas Simons is a born and bred Seattleite. Graduating from UW in 2012, he joined the Bus as a 2014 Wintern and sits as the WA Voter Rights Act Lead. Lucas is also volunteering with the Move County Now campaign to save Metro bus service. He really loves buses, obviously. After his Winternship Lucas hope to move on to bigger and equally good things and maybe someday own his own bus.
When she's not doing humanitarian work in El Salvador, you may see Maya Garfinkel wandering the streets of Capitol Hill on her way to the Bus office as the Elections Access Lead. She has lived her whole 17 years in Seattle, and is currently a Junior at the Northwest School, though rumor has it she is solely a student at the School of Bus. Having blogged, canvassed, door-knocked, and made plenty of phone calls, Maya is helping to get support for Pre-Registration for 16 and 17 year olds and extending the online voter registration deadline through petitions and phone banks!
Meron Tiezazu, your 2014 Pre-Registration Intern, is a 17 year old junior at Garfield High School. She enjoys playing games and discovering new music. When Meron's not getting her peers to sign petitions or attend a phone bank, her favorite hobbies include window licking, sleeping in the sun, and biking through forests.
Njeri Mburu is a sophomore at UW Tacoma, currently exploring different majors. Born and raised in Seattle, she's been part of many different organizations and programs, such as the Service Board, Seattle Youth Commission, and Mary`s Place. Ever since Njeri got involved in political issues as part of the Public Service and Political Science academy at Franklin High School, she's been passionate about politics and youth issues. As the Welcome Wagon Lead, she has been focused on creating the best volunteer engagement event at Bus HQ, a venue that looks a little like a "Real World" house.
President Obama delivered his fifth State of the Union speech last night, once again pleading with congress to you, know, legislate or something.
More newsworthy was Obama's decision to take action on his own, circumventing congress's political gridlock to work on addressing our country's growing problem with income inequality.
While Obama asked congress to pass a bipartisan bill raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour, he also decided to issue an executive order mandating all federal contractors start paying $10.10 an hour immediately.
"If you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes," said Obama. "You should not have to live in poverty."
Personally I'd say if you are working a full time job (or two) you shouldn't have to live in poverty either, but I guess that's outside of Obama's hands.
Using an executive order to push for progressive employment policies is nothing new. Franklin D. Roosevelt passed an executive order back in 1941 prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry. Closer to home, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray signed an executive order raising all City employees wages to $15 an hour.
And perhaps following in the lead of successful movements such as SeaTac's Good Jobs initiative, Obama spoke directly to local leaders:
"To every mayor, governor, state legislator in America, I say, you don't have to wait for Congress to act; Americans will support you if you take this on."
Currently in Washington State Governor Inslee has suggested raising the current minimum wage of $9.32 an hour an extra $1.50 to $2.50, and Representative Jessyn Farrell introduced a bill raising the state minimum wage to $12. The bill currently has 32 sponsors in the Democratically controlled house.
And Seattle itself is working to extend the $15 an hour minimum to all workers, not just city employees. The City Council and the Mayor's Office are deliberating on how best to implement the wage increase, with added urgency from Councilmember Sawant's threat to send an initiative directly to Seattle voters.
Realistically Congress isn't going to pass a minimum wage increase in the next two years. But the issue clearly has popular support. Legislators who don't realize that may find themselves out of a pretty high paying job. Perhaps then and only then will they appreciate how hard it is to get by on the current minimum wage.
Full video of the SOTU after the jump:
On the very first day of the 2014 session, the Dream Act passed the Washington State House 71 - 23, showing dramatic support from both Republican and Democratic legislators.
You may remember the Dream Act from last year, when it also passed the House and then was stalled by the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. The legislation would allow undocumented immigrants who grew up in Washington State access to the same tuition assistance as their peers.
Rodney Tom, the Democrat who brought the Republican-dominated coalition into power has said he supports the Dream Act, but his conservative peers in the MCC have so far prevented the bill from coming up for a vote. Supporters of the Dream Act believe that the bill would pass if allowed a vote on the Senate Floor.
Which is where you come in.
The Senate just voted to end the filibuster. Which is huge, and by my count, years and years behind schedule.
By a vote of 52-48, senators changed the rules to set the threshold to confirm Presidential nominees by just 51 votes (a.k.a. democracy). The move came in response to Republican senators unprecedented use of the filibuster to block anything from getting done. Because Obama.
Recently the minority party has been using the filibuster to block Obama's appointment of judicial nominees. But before that they were using the filibuster to block confirmation of agency directors. Before that to kill laws. Before that lunch deliveries.
Which brings to mind the question: why now? If the Democratic majority could have used a simple majority vote to change the rules in 2009, a lot of really cool legislation could have been passed. The Affordable Care Act would have had a Public Option if the Senate only needed 51 votes. The U.S. could have made some progress on Cap and Trade. The stimulus program might have come with unicorns.
The real irony of all this is just how bad the timing really is. The House of Representatives is gerrymandered in such a way as to nearly guarantee Republican majorities until at least 2020. This new rule change will allow for presidential appointments, but we're still unlikely to see any movement on needed issues like immigration reform or gun safety at the national level.
And while the newest set of rules still requires 60 votes for legislation and Supreme Court Nominations, there's really no reason why 51 Senators in the future wouldn't vote to change the threshold to 51 Senators for anything. Because it'd be silly not to.
Regardless of timing, this is needed reform. Requiring 60 votes just to begin or end debate on legislation was never set forth in the constitution. And as we've seen here in Washington State, requiring supermajorities for simple tasks is "antithetical to the notion of a functioning government".
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.
Overview by Maya Garfinkel
In a just over a month, voters across the city and state will be voicing who best represents their community. Tim Burgess, mayoral candidate once stationed in Capitol Hill, missed the deadline to file. He stated he will return to "the most rewarding job" of his life, his seat in the City Council. He insists that our city needs leadership change, though some say Burgess' dropout could help McGinn's chances at being reelected.
This race is a classic example of local government and why it matters. Mike McGinn's opponents love to criticize his office's ineffectiveness, but this begs the question, ineffectiveness in what? Local government is humorously confusing, but when you are picking the best candidate this election season, understanding what the mayor actually does should be a top priority.
Arguably the most exciting mayoral duty is the ability to push initiatives and budgetary measures that change the landscape of Seattle. McGinn has championed many levies and initiatives, doubling the budget for the Families and Education Initiative, along with enabling churches to host more of the homeless and much more. Ultimately, the mayor is able to use their political muscle to put money in their chosen issues, with the help of the Seattle City Council.
The mayor is also able to veto any measure passed by the council, though only if the Council does not have a 2/3 majority support. The appointment of department heads require their support as well. McGinn appointed former police chief, John Diaz, in 2010, with highly controversial results. Ultimately, they are required to collaborate with the City Council, statewide elected officials and departments across the city, something McGinn has been criticized for in his inability to do so endlessly.
Not sure who to vote for? Check out Ed Murray and look soon for the remaining mayoral candidates on Primarily Speaking.
Frequent Hella Bus readers may be all too familiar with our ongoing failure to adequately fund state government. Thanks in part to the now extinct 2/3rds requirement and a regressive and out-of-date tax system, we are failing to keep up with the baseline costs of running our state.
There could be no better metaphor for this civic negligence than an I-5 bridge literally falling into a river.
Drowning government in a bathtub.
Last Thursday evening a truck carrying an oversized load hit a section of the I-5 bridge spanning the Skagit River. The bridge, listed as "functionally obsolete" by the Federal Highway Administration crumbled and fell into the water. The truck managed to make it across but two cars and three people were thrown into the abyss. Thankfully no one was killed.
The most terrifying thing about this tragedy is how unremarkable the bridge was. According to a report by the American Society of Engineers, 366 of Washington's 7,840 bridges are considered structurally deficient, and another 1,693 bridges are considered functionally obsolete. Together that's one in four bridges in Washington State. On my daily commute I cross two.
Many of these bridges were built during the Eisenhower era and are badly in need of upkeep; upkeep that has been stalled by our
inability refusal to pay for it.
A bit of background: Washington's gas tax is a flat fee, not a percentage. In 2005 legislators last voted to raise our gas tax to 37.5 cents per gallon, where it sits today. Back then a gallon of gas cost $2.55.
With gas hitting $4 a gallon and fuel efficiency standards going up, state revenue just isn't keeping pace with need. House Democrats passed a transportation package dedicating $911 million to maintenance and preservation. To pay for it, they would increase the gas tax $0.10 over a period of four years.
The bill is currently stuck in the Senate, where the Majority Coalition is opposed to any package that includes a tax increase.
This knee-jerk refusal to raise revenue affects much more than our bridges. King County is currently legally unable to raise the revenue necessary to maintain Metro. Not broke, not living outside its means, but lacking permission from Olympia to pay for the things King County values.
This is (ten) penny smart and pound foolish. A functioning Interstate system is crucial to our economy, as is moving people smoothly through our cities.
Government provides for a lot of our needs, in ways that used to seem intangible. And it doesn't do so for free. Hopefully this bridge collapse will kick off a conversation on our shared values, and how we're willing to contribute. If not? I guess we get what we pay for.
Wanna make a difference in the youth and democracy? And have your difference make an even BIGGER impact? Make a gift to the Bus through the Seattle Foundation on May 15, all 24 hours of it, and your gift will be stretched!
In 2012, BUS supporters like YOU is what allows us to make amazing things happen across the state:
As thanks, for every giving milestone, the Bus will release a one of a kind .GIF on Facebook! Tomorrow, click on the Donate Now link below and help us fuel the Bus year round!
Remember two years ago when King County Metro was facing 17% service cuts? People came out in
droves mass transit to testify as to the importance of our beloved transit system. Estimates put between 500 and 1,000 people at the hearings. The rooms were packed, lines extended around the block and testimony that started in the early afternoon extended until 10:30 at night.
Not as crowded as your bus will be if these cuts go through.
I was there in the sweltering room listening to the passionate testimony. Over and over again I heard that with these cuts:
The intense outcry worked in 2011, and the County Council agreed to increase car tab fees by $20. But this was a stop-gap measure to get us through the next two years. It was never intended to be permanent.
Well, we're two years in and stuck in the same situation. Even worse, this time the King County Council isn't able to solve the problems themselves. They need authorization from the Washington State legislature in Olympia to grant the power to tax themselves to save Metro.
Did you get that? Olympia gets to decide whether King County is allowed to pay for the buses they want.
The House Democrats passed a transportation package that would protect King County from these cuts. But the Republican-oriented Senate Majority Coalition led by Sen. Rodney Tom is currently against the package.
Special session kicks off May 13th. Legislators will be focusing on the budget. It is crucial local funding options are addressed during the special session.
If you ride the bus, love buses, or drive on the same roads that feature Metro buses, speak out. You can attend a hearing at the King County Council next Tuesday afternoon.
Or if you, like many transit-dependent people, work from 4-7 on a weekday afternoon, contact your legislators.