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Friday, July 26, 2013

Flip-Flop Alert: Ed Murray Strongly Supported Mayor McGinn's Policy on Whole Foods Before He Vehemently Opposed It

Posted by on Fri, Jul 26, 2013 at 9:23 AM

Originally posted July 25, 6:36 PM.

Yesterday, mayoral challenger Ed Murray excoriated incumbent Mike McGinn for the mayor's controversial effort to use a "street vacation" recommendation as a tool for pressuring non-union Whole Foods to guarantee living wages and benefits at a proposed West Seattle store. "He is unilaterally trying to override an extensive review process," Murray accused McGinn. "He has usurped the role of the City Council and subverted an impartial process."

Strong words. But it turns the exact issue was raised at a June 17 mayoral forum on low-wage workforce issues: "As mayor, what would you do to keep low-road retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods, and WinCo, out of our city to protect union jobs?" an audience member asked. And starting at 39:06 on the video above, it was Murray who suggested using street vacation requests as a tool for influencing developers "to get the kind of wages that are needed."

"I think that if we need to work to change the zoning laws, if the problem is at the state level, then let's work to change the zoning laws so that a city can control what type of employer comes in, and what public benefit that employer has. I also think that there are things that big developers or a big entity like Walmart want when they come in that have a public benefit—sometimes it might be a street vacation or something like that—that we can also have influence in sort of a soft leveraging place, to get the kind of wages that are needed."

So Murray is now vehemently attacking McGinn for doing exactly what Murray suggested he would do as mayor.

Gotcha, Ed.

For his part, starting at 37:20, McGinn's response in June is pretty consistent with his position today, if not fully formed:

"This is a tough one, because the laws aren't set up very well in this regard. We can say whether there's a grocery store or not a grocery store in a spot, and this is something, trust me, I've been looking at. But how do you differentiate between grocery stores is actually, under state laws, really hard to do under land use laws. I'd certainly raise my voice. I'd make my intentions clear to the development community. … So there's a way to bring pressure, and there's a way to demonstrate to a developer that there is an easy path versus a hard path. And the easy path is to get a good employer in there. And we're going to have to keep looking and experimenting with different ways to do it."

This was an issue that McGinn had clearly been struggling with, given the legal constraints. He says that land use laws make it difficult to "differentiate between grocery stores." And in the end, he didn't try to use land use laws to force Whole Foods to guarantee living wages and benefits. He used a street vacation request instead. That's different. That's not land use. It's a request to transfer city-owned property to a private developer. And it's the best he could do with the limited legal tools he had available.

It's also exactly the type of "experimenting" McGinn promised. McGinn said he was looking for different ways to do it. And perhaps thanks to Murray's "street vacation" idea, McGinn found it.

In any case, it is Murray who has some serious explaining to do. For there's simply no way to reconcile Murray's July 24 comments with those he made on June 17.


Comments (106) RSS

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Baconcat 1
His entire platform is "whatever McGinn supports I oppose".
Posted by Baconcat on July 25, 2013 at 6:45 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 2
C'mon Ed! Whaddya say? I know what I'd say, but then again I couldn't get elected dogcatcher, myself.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 25, 2013 at 6:46 PM · Report this
I find this really distasteful on the part of Murray, who I like. This rises to the level of a needed apology, it seems to me, if Murray is to keep any moral authority.

And…I hope you're preparing a similar post to take Steinbrueck to task for his massive flip/flop here. His position is so radically different that it takes my breath away.

If however unexpectedly the Whole Foods issue has become the defining moment of the campaign, and if we're to take away from this a sense of each candidates values, then I think McGinn clearly wins this battle.

This video is a smoking gun.
Posted by Timothy on July 25, 2013 at 6:49 PM · Report this
JonnoN 4
Wow. Wonder if the Times will cover this?
Posted by JonnoN on July 25, 2013 at 6:52 PM · Report this
What is that burning smell? It smells like smoldering... credibility.
Posted by Pol Pot on July 25, 2013 at 6:53 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 6
This is bullshit. The Ed Murray of today is the one running for mayor. Not some earlier Ed Murray. Who cares what Murray thought back in former times? There has to be a statute of limitations on our youthful mistakes of the past.

It was a much younger Ed Murray who was spouting those ill-formed juvenile philosophies. Jesus, who among us would want to be held to account for the things we said back in those crazy days of last June 17. Back in the college dorm, quoting Ginsburg, smoking hash -- June was a crazy month, man. I sure as fuck didn't know who I was back in June.

I only just got my first real job this July. Thinking about starting a family and forgetting all those random pickups of June. All the drugs I did in those days. Amazing I'm still alive to tell about it, honestly. But it was a different time. I'm not the same person I was! Who among is, truly?

It's exactly this kind of gotcha politics that is turning away our brightest young people from public service. Who would serve, knowing that their nascent explorations of opposing beliefs of last month would be held against them?

Different month, Goldy. Different month. Let it go, OK? Let's all be adults about this.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on July 25, 2013 at 7:04 PM · Report this
Paul Constant 7
@6: Slowclap.gif
Posted by Paul Constant http:// on July 25, 2013 at 7:09 PM · Report this
@6: I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.
Posted by Hanoumatoi on July 25, 2013 at 7:15 PM · Report this
McGinn should suggest they open a Whole Food in his house.... like a BOSS
Posted by KillpatrickDaGod on July 25, 2013 at 7:29 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 10
@6) Bravo.
Posted by Dominic Holden on July 25, 2013 at 7:32 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 11
God, why is everyone still going on about @6? That was almost an hour and a half ago.
Posted by MacCrocodile on July 25, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
@11: Slowclap.gif
Posted by robotslave on July 25, 2013 at 8:36 PM · Report this
Next thing you know Murray will change his position on the tunnel just to get elected.
Posted by McGinn is toast - you can smell the panic on July 25, 2013 at 9:00 PM · Report this
So, let's be clear; Holden & Goldy are on a steady beat of attack Murray, defend McGinn until primary day, August 6, right?

Good to know that I can just turn down the volume on Slog until the primary is over. The desperation is palpable, guys.
Posted by M. Wells on July 25, 2013 at 9:02 PM · Report this
seandr 15
@14: Slowclap.gif
Posted by seandr on July 25, 2013 at 9:10 PM · Report this
@6 and 11: well done.

@14: seriously? That's what you got?
Posted by gnossos on July 25, 2013 at 9:11 PM · Report this
Goldy 17
@14 Is this post wrong? Did not Murray attack McGinn for using street vacation in defense of good jobs, just a month after suggesting exactly that? Is there any other way to parse Murray's comments?
Posted by Goldy on July 25, 2013 at 9:17 PM · Report this
18… Maybe you should direct the viewer to the question being asked by the current grocery store union employee who was getting all of 5 hours of work next week. Staadacker was willing to upset the crowd, even with the unpopular view that she should get a new job.
Posted by ChefJoe on July 25, 2013 at 9:35 PM · Report this
You miss the point, Goldy. It's not about McGinn or Murray. It's about you and Holden.

The 24 hour drumbeat is getting obnoxious. That's the point.
Posted by M. Wells on July 25, 2013 at 9:38 PM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 20
I only Justin from CHS would make a pithy comment. We could use "crowflap.gif".
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 25, 2013 at 9:39 PM · Report this
Goldy 21
@19 You're right. The real scandal here is me pointing out Murray's flip-flop. I should be ashamed of myself!
Posted by Goldy on July 25, 2013 at 9:43 PM · Report this
The scandal is that you guys have so much ego riding on this race that you're losing credibility. You're flailing. And it's not helping your candidate.
Posted by M. Wells on July 25, 2013 at 9:46 PM · Report this
seatackled 23
@19, 22

Thought you were going to turn down the volume.
Posted by seatackled on July 25, 2013 at 9:50 PM · Report this
I've asked it in another thread, and I'll ask it here:

How many of you cheering on McGinn actually live in West Seattle? Or is this spat just free entertainment?

People in West Seattle are by and large excited for this development. It's received many rounds of feedback from the public. It's replacing a decrepit, vacant lot. Come back to reality.
Posted by GSDH on July 25, 2013 at 9:51 PM · Report this
You should point out that the question leading to the flip flop was asked by a currently unionized Safeway worker who was getting 5 hours and only getting two days notice of her work schedule. She was the current vice president of her union and was leading the vitriol against the non-unionized shops despite her gripes ? Only Staadecker suggested she should look for a job that could give her more than 5 hours.

McGinn said he wanted to try to be a lightening rod for local opposition groups for each project. But then he said he wanted to lift the standards across the board.... which is a more legal way to approach this. Ed wanted to change the zoning laws at the State level if that could work.
Posted by ChefJoe on July 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 26
@24 - Hush now, and let real Seattle make your decisions.

(Seriously, admin, are we letting Westies register here now? What has this blog come to?)
Posted by MacCrocodile on July 25, 2013 at 10:03 PM · Report this
@23. Good point. Now on mute.
Posted by M. Wells on July 25, 2013 at 10:12 PM · Report this
Ziggity 28
@24: I don't live in Texas, but I still argue against their restrictive abortion laws. (Hell, I'll never even HAVE an abortion.) I'm sure my opinion is at odds with a large number of Texans, but it doesn't feel any less valid. I just don't want to live in a country where the government treats woman that way.

So just imagine how I feel about policy-making in a place I actually live, where I can actually vote for mayor! If the fact that I dont live in West Seattle invalidates my opinion, please tell me the geographic radius of concern I am allowed to have.
Posted by Ziggity on July 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM · Report this
MacCrocodile 29
@24 - But really, if you're going to insist on this kind of division, just fucking secede already. We live in Seattle and so do you. Having concern for what goes on in Seattle, being a person who lives in Seattle, is perfectly valid. What is the proper radius from the proposed store at which one is no longer allowed to have an opinion?
Posted by MacCrocodile on July 25, 2013 at 10:13 PM · Report this
Throughout this, we've heard no complaints from actual Whole Foods employees. There's been general support for the project from the neighborhood that will actually be affected.

There's no one to save here. Whole Foods' employees have voted their company onto Forbes' 100 best places to work list for the past 15 years in a row. This development is simply a sign of West Seattle's robust economic health. Things are chugging along nicely. God save us from politicians trying to save us.

Yes, it's good to have a sense of personal boundaries.
Posted by GSDH on July 25, 2013 at 10:30 PM · Report this
Ziggity 31
@30: Ha! So you'd be ok with whoever you're voting for building a pork rendering plant in the CD because you don't live here and it might create jobs and because "personal boundaries"? Hm...

First they came for the gypsies and I did not speak out...
Posted by Ziggity on July 25, 2013 at 10:45 PM · Report this
Hi! I was a Whole Foods employee. I was treated terribly. Current Whole Foods employees probably fear retribution, as we were threatened when we work there with retribution for any public engagement on company issues. :)
Posted by Ben Schiendelman on July 25, 2013 at 10:53 PM · Report this
@24 and 30: I'm sure that people who live in West Seattle and can afford to shop at Whole Foods are ecstatic about a Whole Foods in West Seattle. All 150 of them.

In the meantime, there are better things to put in that empty lot, like a grocery store that everyone can afford.
Posted by sarah70 on July 25, 2013 at 10:55 PM · Report this

I live in West Seattle, and I don't want 350+ new housing units when not one of them is going to be low-income. And I don't want a new supermarket one block away from two other supermarkets, one new and the other newly remodeled. I want a supermarket (or four) in the largest food desert in all of Seattle-- the Delridge corridor (pink: low food access; green: low access and low income).

I guess there aren't a lot of people who live east of 35th going to these "West Seattle" neighborhood meetings.
Posted by robotslave on July 25, 2013 at 11:00 PM · Report this
@24 make that three other supermarkets within a block— the Trader Joe's is still new enough for me to forget it's there.
Posted by robotslave on July 25, 2013 at 11:08 PM · Report this
"I want a supermarket (or four) in the largest food desert in all of Seattle"

"there are better things to put in that empty lot"

These are noble goals. Fortunately, this is a free country so you can go into the development field and try to make it happen yourself. In the mean time, in reality, we can't simply have the government "make" these things happen. Unless you're arguing for what? state-run grocery stores? That's what I mean by boundaries.
Posted by GSDH on July 25, 2013 at 11:11 PM · Report this
sperifera 37
@24 - "People in West Seattle are by and large excited for this development. "

You're on crack, dude. I'm 3 blocks away from this project, and no one around here wants yet another grocery store. I've had loads of community members knock on my door encouraging neighbors to get into the fight against this vacation. There's a pretty prevelant "fuck WFM" feeling. By and large, my ass.
Posted by sperifera on July 25, 2013 at 11:15 PM · Report this
Baconcat 38
GSDH, you deliberately leave out the fact that there are people, orgs, and one pretty reasonably sized grassroots group pushing to have this rethought (Getting It Right, for example). You also lash out at "union obstructionists" as though we're one of those hard-nosed conservative towns that hates unions and you repeat boilerplate about Forbes ratings. Also, you recently joined and haven't discussed anything else (except for bouncing in to snark a Kshama Sawant thread).

Very interesting!
Posted by Baconcat on July 25, 2013 at 11:16 PM · Report this
Elvis 39
@24 Say what? If you live in West Seattle, then where the hell have you BEEN? This development has been fought by the community because of its garishness and poor design--even before this business about the prospective tenants popped up--for months. Read the West Seattle Blog and educate yourself.
Posted by Elvis on July 25, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this

I'm basically arguing for a zoning adjustment. It's not an entirely radical concept in urban planning.
Posted by robotslave on July 25, 2013 at 11:19 PM · Report this
Ziggity 41
@36: Again, just because I'm not a developer, my opinion, and my vote, is no less valid on this issue. I'm not going to wait until the same thing happens in my neighborhood to suddenly develop empathy and civic responsibility.

Lemme guess, it stands for Giving Seattle Developers Head?
Posted by Ziggity on July 25, 2013 at 11:22 PM · Report this
schmacky 42
I love the Murray proponents here completely disregarding the fact their candidate just lied through his fucking teeth, and worse, did so in an obscenely obvious way. Does the clumsiness of his politics and general communication not disturb you a bit in terms of his ability to forge publically vetted arguments and influence policy in this notoriously provincial city?
Posted by schmacky on July 25, 2013 at 11:24 PM · Report this
emor 43

You don't know shit about working at grocery stores. Whole foods is a hell hole. Ask anyone who has worked in one. They don't give a goddamn about a Forbes list.
Posted by emor on July 25, 2013 at 11:25 PM · Report this
McGinn claims Safeway and QFC provides better jobs than Whole Foods because the employees are members of the UFCW. However, actual employees of QFC and Safeway have been picketing those stores around Puget Sound over the last two months because:

Workers say grocery store management wants to:
- Eliminate health care coverage for thousands of workers
- Cut holiday pay
- Offer no wage increases
- Take away paid sick days for Seattle workers and forbid others in the region from getting them
- Cut the "10 cent above minimum wage" guarantee for lowest paid workers

Where are the Whole Foods picketers? Where is Goldy championing the workers who are fighting against Safeway and QFC? Where is the Stranger's outrage at the recent Safeway layoffs and the replacement of checkers with checkout machines? Oh right, those are Union stores, so they are ok.

This issue isn't about land use or liveable wages. It's about McGinn desperately needing campaign donations and cash because Steinbrueck and Murray are about to whip him in the primary. No matter how hard Goldy works to become the next McGinn press secretary and spin this, Murray is going to be the next Mayor.

This race is about getting a competent person to run Seattle. McGinn's side shows don't matter to most voters. Effectiveness and competence do. McGinn doesn't qualify.
Posted by WhattheHell on July 25, 2013 at 11:25 PM · Report this
seatackled 45

Anything specific you could share about how you were treated?

Posted by seatackled on July 25, 2013 at 11:31 PM · Report this
Posted by WhattheHell on July 25, 2013 at 11:32 PM · Report this
Elvis 47
I wont say that Murray is Romney, but he's a politician that uses the same damn toolbox. This man wants to be Mayor, and so he'll say whatever he thinks will win him the most votes.

Enough of this bullshit brand of politics! We're voting McGinn.
Posted by Elvis on July 25, 2013 at 11:37 PM · Report this
@40. I don't think addressing food deserts is as simple as rezoning. Would the marketplace then bring in grocers? Hopefully, but not necessarily. You see how this is kind of a bigger issue, not really related to McGinn's nonsense.

@39. Yes, I do read the WSB and follow these things.

This development is zoned to be up to 85 feet tall. It's only 70 feet. It's set back extra from the street in order for there to be a bike lane added. I did think this building was shaping up to be pretty ugly, but at the last design board review meeting, the new plan that was unveiled, with the lit tower (vs. the rainbow tiled one), additional outdoor plaza spaces, is notably better looking. In short, it could be a lot worse.

While everyone's freaking out over this development, where are the protests about the 85-footers that are coming in at the heart of the Junction, on the old Super Supplements and Petco lots? Now that will really change the feel of the neighborhood. Or the Link building... that's pretty undeniably ugly (but it's still better than no commerce at all in my view).

Yes, I just registered because I don't generally consider the Slog's "business coverage" to be worth my time. The music listings are sometimes useful. I've studied economics and have long outgrown the Stranger's narcissistic campus socialism. But the mayor's stance on this is particularly offensive to me, so I had to say something.
Posted by GSDH on July 25, 2013 at 11:41 PM · Report this
PSS - it's unfortunate Goldy and The Stranger are seeing this issue only in terms of how it effects their man McGinn's chances of reelection, and are not looking at the deeper issues here. Check out the corporate partnerships UFCW is being called on in California, where rank and file UFCW members are rising up against the leadership because of their close ties to Safeway.…

So in Seattle, a non union and very popular grocery store is about to open a new store near a couple of unions stores - Safeway and UFC. So the Union donates huge to the Mayor's campaign, Mayor reciprocates by attempting to block the union grocery stores' competitor's new store.

The Stranger is an important voice in Seattle politics. It's the only lefty voice remaining that endorses candidates. And it can do some brilliant investigative reporting. But in this case they are losing their cred by backing the corrupt antics of their candidate for mayor, who is likewise losing what little cred he has.

This is hilarious and is making an otherwise boring contest exciting. Sad to see The Stranger get sucked down into this mess.
Posted by WhattheHell on July 25, 2013 at 11:44 PM · Report this
Baconcat 50
WhattheHell, there aren't pickets outside of Whole Foods because they aren't organized. That's how pickets start, strong organization. There's only been one major protest of WalMart for much the same reason they haven't happened at Whole Foods, but would you say they're a quality employer you'd happily work for right this moment because of that?

And what about QFC and others as alternates? I'm not sure we've heard a specific preference out of the Mayor for what store he'd like to see there, nor out of other opponents, but let's be clear: first, he wouldn't advocate a tenant that several of his backers are currently picketing (the picket you note), second, his statements suggest a community-involved process and seeing as there's adequate comments suggesting the public isn't necessarily fine with Whole Foods, there's probably a good reason to slow down and not just plop this down against their wishes. That would be even more foolish than the current tack of easing up on the process to get the developers to slow down and look at what the community needs and wants rather than which tenant wants to pay the most.

Finally, before you get any bright ideas let me just say that we can tell when you're a new single-interest user and that usually colors our perceptions here at Slog (hi, GSDH). Hmmm, singly focused on McGinn, Murray booster, talking point promoter, that's pretty interesting. What's that all about, WhattheHell?
Posted by Baconcat on July 25, 2013 at 11:53 PM · Report this
@44, at 33 minutes into the video posted you see a Safeway worker (who is the vice president of her local union) has tons of complaints about her hours and what her company is trying to get from the union. At the same time, Tracy lashes out at non-union places and says she's lucky to have a union making her job better. It's a confusing, mish-mash of ideas, but she's a part of the Safeway union McGinn says is "better".
Posted by ChefJoe on July 25, 2013 at 11:55 PM · Report this

Food deserts generally are a problem that zoning can't easily address, but the delridge corridor could easily support several supermarkets (there are higher-income areas on the ridge to the east, and lots of dense pockets).

And it's not rezoning, it's zoning adjustment. Grandfather in the supermarkets already at the Alaska Junction, and then specifically disallow retail food over X square feet in commercial zones that already have plentiful food access. If supermarket chains want more West Seattle dollars (and they do) then they'll have to build where the neighborhood needs supermarkets.

Again, this is not exactly crazy radical stuff, in the world of urban planning.
Posted by robotslave on July 25, 2013 at 11:58 PM · Report this
sperifera 53
@48 - Funny how all the projects you mention that people aren't up in arms about (85 footers in the Junction, Link, etc), none of them involved an alley vacation. And that's what this is all about. No one is saying that a developer shouldn't be able to build what they want on THEIR property. But when that developer asks to be given City of Seattle property to complete said project, that is where the West Seattle community "by and large" says no fucking way.

Nice attempt at deflection of the issue. You are a shill.
Posted by sperifera on July 26, 2013 at 12:13 AM · Report this
@53. Okay, another example. The Safeway that's three blocks away from this site did involve an alley vacation. But it's unionized so no problem there. Anyway, decide: Is this about preserving our precious rundown alleys, or is it about declaring that nonunionized companies are unwelcome in Seattle from now on? Or just the latter by way of the former? Just when donations are involved? In any case it's terrible governance.

I suppose I'm writing reasonably effectively if you're dismissing me as a "shill." It's saddening that people with basic free market viewpoints aren't welcome at the Slog. I have been naive.
Posted by GSDH on July 26, 2013 at 12:32 AM · Report this

I for one am actually saying that developers should be restricted in what they can build, and owners should be restricted in what sort of business can be conducted on their property. But since every city everywhere already does restrict these things, that part isn't especially controversial, outside the cracked-out libertarian fringe.

You're right, though, that the alley vacation is the prize, and anyone who takes their eye off of it is either bamboozling or bamboozled.
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 12:37 AM · Report this

The Safeway is one block away, not three. Which kind of guts your claim to be a well-informed participant in this debate, familiar with the neighborhood, rather than someone who has skimmed a few blog posts to bolster your knee-jerk opinion. The building that will house Whole Foods at street level will have frontage on 40th, Alaska, and Fauntleroy (the other building will abut Fauntleroy and Edmunds).

Pro Tip: On some online maps, alleys are rendered almost exactly like streets.
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 12:52 AM · Report this
Eastpike 57
I'd like to see a comparison of wages and benefits between the big local grocers and Whole Foods. I'd be surprised if they were so different as to make such a fuss over. Not making a stand against the grocery worker's union, but if it's just about wages then let's take a look.
Posted by Eastpike on July 26, 2013 at 12:54 AM · Report this

Excellent idea! We'll get right on that just as soon as Whole Foods lets anyone look at their wage scale, payroll records, or anything else that would allow us to make an informed comparison!
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 1:01 AM · Report this
There are SO many deeper issues here, but them in the echo chamber that like scoring politics as those at a dart game do on a chalk board can argue over the score. It's all BS in the echo chamber. NO reference to the people in West Seattle on both sides who have been fairly well used and abused by the main game players...
Posted by Already Voted No Regrets on July 26, 2013 at 1:19 AM · Report this
@40, 52 When I was growing up in West Seattle there used to be a grocery store on Delridge next door to the K-Mart (where Home Depot is now) and a Safeway at 35th and Morgan (where U-Haul is now). If these were great locations for grocery store operators, they would still be there, like the Admiral Safeway, which has been in the same location for over 40 years.
Posted by WestSeven on July 26, 2013 at 3:03 AM · Report this
poor goldy

the most awkward thing about being a hack whore is when you no longer realize you are a credulous transparent hack whore but it is painfully obvious to everyone who has the misfortune to read your shit
Posted by goldy take mcginns dick out of your mouth on July 26, 2013 at 5:22 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 62
Thread, I love you.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 26, 2013 at 7:03 AM · Report this
"I love the Murray proponents here completely disregarding the fact their candidate just lied through his fucking teeth, and worse, did so in an obscenely obvious way."

"This man wants to be Mayor, and so he'll say whatever he thinks will win him the most votes."

Thanks for the laugh. What was McGinn's position on the tunnel before he changed it to get elected, before he changed it again once he was elected?

FYI food deserts are another leftist lie, trying to force the gub'ment to solve a nonexistent problem:

Studies Question the Pairing of Food Deserts and Obesity


The New York Times

It has become an article of faith among some policy makers and advocates, including Michelle Obama, that poor urban neighborhoods are food deserts, bereft of fresh fruits and vegetables.

But two new studies have found something unexpected. Such neighborhoods not only have more fast food restaurants and convenience stores than more affluent ones, but more grocery stores, supermarkets and full-service restaurants, too. And there is no relationship between the type of food being sold in a neighborhood and obesity among its children and adolescents.
Within a couple of miles of almost any urban neighborhood, “you can get basically any type of food,” said Roland Sturm of the RAND Corporation, lead author of one of the studies. “Maybe we should call it a food swamp rather than a desert,” he said.
Some experts say these new findings raise questions about the effectiveness of efforts to combat the obesity epidemic simply by improving access to healthy foods. Despite campaigns to get Americans to exercise more and eat healthier foods, obesity rates have not budged over the past decade, according to recently released federal data.
“It is always easy to advocate for more grocery stores,” said Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, who was not involved in the studies. “But if you are looking for what you hope will change obesity, healthy food access is probably just wishful thinking.”

Posted by Sugartit on July 26, 2013 at 7:08 AM · Report this
sperifera 64
@54 - That Safeway was built in 1987 as part of the Jefferson Square development, when there were NO large grocery stores in the Junction area. Now there are 3 large groceries within 2 blocks of this project. As they say, times were different then, so not really pertinent to the discussion of this alley vacation.

"By and large" your argument doesn't hold water, and you'll not be looked at as a shill once you stop being a one-issue Slogger. Thanks for catching that Baconcat.
Posted by sperifera on July 26, 2013 at 7:12 AM · Report this
@64 the Jefferson Square Safeway was built directly across from a Tradewell supermarket (more recently Petco) that was an A&P before that. So there has been a large chain supermarket in the Junction at least since the 1960's. I have heard that well before I was born there was a Safeway at the location of the Junction Wells Fargo location. The Safeway that Jefferson Square replaced was at the current Rite Aid location a few blocks south on California. The Jefferson Square development was built after Jefferson elementary school was shut down and the land sold to developers. In the 1960s and very early 70s there was a QFC at the current location of the PCC co-op. That location was a Prairie Market after QFC left West Seattle. It is only with the comparatively recent growth in W Seattle that Kroger decided to build a QFC at the junction.
Posted by WestSeven on July 26, 2013 at 7:27 AM · Report this
@33 People who call Whole Foods 'expensive' obviously don't shop there, or they're talking about prepared and specialty foods only which are expensive everywhere. I drive from West Seattle up to north Seattle every other week to the Interbay Whole Foods to buy organic products that are more affordable than I can get in West Seattle, even at Safeway. West Seattle was supposed to get Whole Foods back in 2006, and we have seen development after development that could have had Whole Foods as its anchor tenant fall through during the economic downturn. Finally, we are within arms reach of actually getting one, and the Mayor (who has no problem forking over public space and dollars for a new stadium or for BTW) tries to stop it - for his political gain. What McGinn may not realize is that West Seattle comprises 1/6th of the city's population, and we are not passive on this development. It's been a vacant lot on a major transit line for a LONG time - it needs to happen.
Posted by West Seattleite 3 on July 26, 2013 at 7:49 AM · Report this
Hating on Whole Foods. Jeez, now we know McGinn's supporters have the mental age and capacity of angry high schoolers. Class envy at its worst.
Posted by Time to close the other 6 WF in Seattle? on July 26, 2013 at 7:59 AM · Report this

And thanks to that "comparitively recent growth," West Seattle can now easily support several supermarkets in the Delridge corridor.

It doesn't make you look good when you say locations east of 35th are lousy for supermarkets because the Carter economy, and then say locations in the Alaska junction have always been terrific because the Clinton economy.

But sperifera is right, none of this trip down memory lane says anything about whether or not the citizens of Seattle should give our public land away to a developer working to build another supermarket within a 1-block radius where there are already three.
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 8:01 AM · Report this
"People who call Whole Foods 'expensive' obviously don't shop there"

No shit. Most of their organic fruits, veggies and meats are far cheaper than at QFC and Safeway. Definitely cheaper than Ballard Market. PCC's meat/fish departments suck and their selection is beyond pathetic.

If Whole Foods is such a horrible place to work, how come their staff in Seattle are so much nicer, helpful and hard working than at any other store I've been to in Seattle?
Posted by McGinn will lose this fight & the election on July 26, 2013 at 8:04 AM · Report this
@68 there has been at least one supermarket of some brand or another at the California/Alaska junction for over 90 years. It seems that for nearly a century that has consistently been a good location to do business. That is probably why Kroger decided to put in a QFC across the street from the existing Safeway and why Whole Foods wants to be nearby (and Trader Joes located nearby, too). If Delridge was such a great location for a supermarket operator, surely somebody would have located there rather than within a block or two of their chief competitors.
Posted by WestSeven on July 26, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this

Your flimsy market rhetoric based on bygone demographics says nothing at all about whether the citizens of Seattle ought to give our public land away to a developer working to put a fourth supermarket within a one-block radius.
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 8:22 AM · Report this
papa joffre 72
Can't wait for Murray to try to ignore this issue for the next two weeks, rocking back and forth hugging his knees silently on his kitchen floor, hoping that no one will notice until after they've cast their primary ballot.
Posted by papa joffre on July 26, 2013 at 8:27 AM · Report this
"another supermarket within a 1-block radius where there are already three."

So, you want the government to choose which supermarkets we get and which ones we don't?
Posted by Sugartit on July 26, 2013 at 8:36 AM · Report this
@71 clearly if anyone thought there was a lot of money to be made by locating a supermarket on Delridge today they would do so. I have no doubt that the large supermarket chains have access to all sorts of demographic forecasts to use when siting new stores.

Maybe if it would be in the public/political interest to have a supermarket there, instead of a Whole Foods near the junction, McGinn can give the police station next to Home Depot to developers to build a union, living wage paying supermarket/affordable housing mixed use development.
Posted by WestSeven on July 26, 2013 at 8:38 AM · Report this
JonnoN 75
So much deflection from Murray's bald-faced lie!
Posted by JonnoN on July 26, 2013 at 8:46 AM · Report this
Theodore Gorath 76
Everyone needs to check the posting histories of anyone agressively playing up a candidate here.

If they recently joined and have only posted about the election, they are sockpuppets and shills and can be ignored completely. There are oodles of them on every election thread.

GSDH and Whatthehell are two good examples here, and should simply be ignored, regardless of what they say or who they support.

Posted by Theodore Gorath on July 26, 2013 at 8:47 AM · Report this
TomJohnsonJr 77
@76, as someone with a shamefully long history of mostly pointless omnibus comments, it's been my experience that elections always draw new commenters, people who aren't interested in talking about other stuff but have strong views. Yes, to the point of obsessive kneejerking for their candidate of choice, but everybody running has those people among their honest backers, no? Especially now that things are heating up (finally) in this silly race, it makes a certain amount of sense they'd start to show up.
Posted by TomJohnsonJr on July 26, 2013 at 9:04 AM · Report this
DOUG. 78
Just more proof that Ed Murray isn't smart enough to run a city the size of Seattle.
Posted by DOUG. on July 26, 2013 at 9:13 AM · Report this
"So much deflection from Murray's bald-faced lie!"

What, did he say he didn't support the tunnel, after he did, but before he didn't again?
Posted by Sugartit on July 26, 2013 at 9:27 AM · Report this

...clearly if anyone thought there was a lot of money to be made by locating a supermarket on Delridge today they would do so.

...unless, of course, they were also making a strategic attempt to steal market share by siting a new stores close to competitors, when possible. Or using any of myriad other non-obvious corporate siting criteria. And didn't have any inconvenient zoning standing in the way.

Once again: Your flimsy market rhetoric based on bygone demographics says nothing at all about whether the citizens of Seattle ought to give our public land away to a developer working to put a fourth supermarket within a one-block radius.
Posted by robotslave on July 26, 2013 at 9:36 AM · Report this
McGinnis fan-boys calling anyone a "flip flipper" is beyond stupid. Thanks for the laff.

Btw hating on Whole Foods is the kind of politics you expect from community college sophomores. I know, I know, that's McGinn's base but can't you at least try to mask the petulance and shameless class envy?
Posted by Sugartit on July 26, 2013 at 9:48 AM · Report this
fletc3her 82
I don't even live in Seattle!
Posted by fletc3her on July 26, 2013 at 10:12 AM · Report this
Will in Seattle 83
All I know is my family gets these push poll phone calls that ignore that any women are running for mayor and tell outrageous lies attacking Liberal Seattle.

I revel in us being liberal.

Some Seattle-haters like Ed apparently don't.
Posted by Will in Seattle on July 26, 2013 at 10:20 AM · Report this
No offense, but Murray supporters seem a bit daft and a little angry.
Posted by SeMe on July 26, 2013 at 10:35 AM · Report this
MajordomoPicard 85
@73 "So, you want the government to choose which supermarkets we get and which ones we don't?"

Yes, when the developer in questions wants the city to give it public property to build another grocery store. You're sounding less and less like a Free Market Warrior and more and more like a Corporate Apologist. Good red herring, though.
Posted by MajordomoPicard on July 26, 2013 at 11:08 AM · Report this
84: word.
Posted by gnossos on July 26, 2013 at 11:11 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 87
@49, is it not the job of the media to call out flagrant flip flopping and twisting attack politics if seen? At the bare minimum Murray must answer this. For West Seattle voters, this is a HUGE topic. We're 100,000 people, and 1/6th of the city's total population. You don't become Mayor without West Seattle voting for you.

As a West Seattleite that initially really supported Murray, then drifted toward Harrell, and is now drifting toward McGinn, I really want to know what is going through Murray's mind. McGinn is a lot of things, but he's been consistent. The same with Harrell, more or less, I think. I don't want a guy who I can't trust to be consistent. Explain the change in position. Right now, it passes the smell test of being a pure anti-McGinn maneuver.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on July 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
fletc3her 88
Why don't they just build around the alley?
Posted by fletc3her on July 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 89
@49, is it not the job of the media to call out flagrant flip flopping and twisting attack politics if seen? At the bare minimum Murray must answer this. For West Seattle voters, this is a HUGE topic. We're 100,000 people, and 1/6th of the city's total population. You don't become Mayor without West Seattle voting for you.

As a West Seattleite that initially really supported Murray, then drifted toward Harrell, and is now drifting toward McGinn, I really want to know what is going through Murray's mind. McGinn is a lot of things, but he's been consistent. The same with Harrell, more or less, I think. I don't want a guy who I can't trust to be consistent.

Explain the change in position. Right now, it passes the smell test of being a pure anti-McGinn maneuver. I will only vote for someone who will do right by the city overall, not someone who will do what's right to get elected. I don't care how many years of service Murray has, if the positions and things he'll pursue aren't in the best interests of my neck of the woods first, and then the city overall.
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on July 26, 2013 at 11:14 AM · Report this
Joe Szilagyi 90
I have no idea why that posted twice in slightly different formats. I guess I adopted Murray's manner of public communication. It's contagious. :(
Posted by Joe Szilagyi on July 26, 2013 at 11:15 AM · Report this
murray flip flopping. mcginn pandering.

just vote steinbrueck.

he called it like it is: corruption.

whatever the right role is for a city to go all through you term and suddenly just at the time of a key union endorsement pull this crap...while the city itself pays folks less than $16 btw -- is pure selling your office.
Posted by vote for pete on July 26, 2013 at 11:26 AM · Report this
McGinn is not motivated by a concern for West Seattle. He received $50,000+ from UNITE HERE and UFCW 21, and that is wholly his reason for picking a fight with Whole Foods. They endorsed him two days after he took his bizarre stance.

McGinn has supported the WS Triangle project in the past (which this is a part of), and this meets all sorts of other criteria that McGinn would generally approve of (density near RapidRide, adding bike lanes). The alley itself is a non-issue since it's being incorporated into the project, just shifted ten feet (so they're building over the alley only technically). If it weren't the alley McGinn would have found some other bureaucratic tool to use against Whole Foods. That's corrupt. It's the union money that got to him.

(No, I don't know who I'll vote for. I usually don't vote. Maybe Steinbruek.)
Posted by GSDH on July 26, 2013 at 11:48 AM · Report this
@92, whether they rebuild the alley or not is totally beside the point. The alley vacation is merely the opening for this even being something City Hall weighs in on.

Claiming McGinn is simply motivated by Union money is also somewhat beside the point, though I think you're wrong. We can speculate on his character, but this is a straw man and a political football.

The REAL issues here are 1) is this recommendation within his rights, and 2) are livable wages and benefits something the city should look at when given the opportunity to approve or reject a large development?

For me and many others, both #1 & #2's answers are an emphatic yes. I've seen "living wages" tossed around as a casual talking point in this city for many years, but this year it's finally a serious conversation. Sawant, McGinn, a few unions, and the city of SeaTac are propelling a discussion that for years has stagnated (like wages themselves).

I don't care if it's Wal-Mart, Whole Foods, the airport or otherwise. I'm just happy that we've pushed the conversation this far, and I hope we keep talking about it -- and hell, maybe even DO something about it! And I'm proud of our Mayor for his role in moving the conversation forward.
Posted by grkle on July 26, 2013 at 1:40 PM · Report this
Oh, GSDH, hello. I just figured out why you suddenly appeared to comment on this issue.
Posted by grkle on July 26, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
Goldy 95
@92 UNITE HERE put $50,000 into a pro-McGinn PAC. UFCW has not contributed. And UFCW endorsed McGinn in 2009, so it's not like their endorsement was much of a surprise. So, yeah, you don't know what the fuck you're talking about.

Major unions are endorsing McGinn for the same reason that business groups are supporting Murray: they are the candidates who best represent their respective interests.
Posted by Goldy on July 26, 2013 at 4:02 PM · Report this
@95, People should know the political ideologies -- and more significantly, the personal motivations regarding specifically this development -- that color GSDH's arguments as well. He's so quick to claim what McGinn is "motivated by", or what is "wholly his reason", but his comments would lose virtually any shred of credibility or objectivity in the eyes of the dear readers if these details were tossed in the mix. I'm tempted. It would make the story and this comment thread a little more entertaining.

But GSDH, I'm not interested in exposing you. Not yet. I'll wait to hear what else you choose to add to the conversation. If it's more nonsense about what other people's motivations are, then we can make this a broader conversation about what your motivations are, what your ideological views are on unions, wages and the political disposition of the city of Seattle at large. I think folks would appreciate that context.

I will say this in GSDH's defense: I do truly believe he's not stumping for Murray or any other candidate (none of them come close to matching his worldview), and I truly believe he doesn't usually bother voting. That's about the only point I can give GSDH in terms of objectivity on this matter. The rest is downhill from there.
Posted by grkle on July 26, 2013 at 4:36 PM · Report this

You seem to be full of attacks for McGinns opponents, but really lacking on actual defenses or even replies to the criticisms of his adminsitration and its policies.

Here, Ill start you off with one. Why should any Native, Latino or Black Seattlite support McGinn amidst his support for racial policing by the SPD and treatment of said-people as 'guilty until proven innocent' by his Officers?

When you can answer that without side stepping, Ill ask "why should any poor person whose been priced out of Seattle support McGinn".

Go ahead bud!
Posted by araucania on July 27, 2013 at 4:15 AM · Report this
@97, I've spent many months advocating for the Mayor to and with many people -- friends, acquaintances, and strangers. Perhaps the reason why you haven't noticed my reasons, which I have shared in comments here at times, is because I've laughingly dismissed your claims on here because they're so far off the mark. Many of your claims are flat-out false, hyperbolic, ridiculous. I haven't engaged with you because you come off as absurd rather than informed. And because you're so far removed on the reality of many issues that I know you'll dismiss any claims I make because your perception of McGinn and his accomplishments are so far removed from the truth. But here you go. Here's a taste:

Because excessive police force and racial profiling has been an issue for a long time. It did not start under Mayor McGinn. But he's responded by enacting a series of systemic reforms that we have not seen before. He negotiated an agreement with the DoJ that included the community and the police department, so we can see real, lasting change take place. Because he's worked with the department, community colleges, community leaders and reform experts to open hiring practices to encourage folks from low-income backgrounds and local communities to become policemen. Because new levels of training and oversight on multiple levels have been implemented. Because he went above and beyond what the DoJ asked of us.

Because Assistant Attorney General Tom Perez (one of the most progressive voices to work at the DoJ under Obama) agrees: "I'd like to thank Mayor McGinn because your leadership, your creativity, your direct personal engagement were indispensable components of our success." (quote from last year)

Because of the advocacy of community leaders at large, who see the same commitment I do (but you have somehow missed, likely because you're not looking for it):…

Here are a few more voices to the choir: Tony Lee, KL Shannon, Rev. Harriet Walden

I wish that Kip Tokuda had recorded a video before he passed, because he was a tremendous advocate for social justice and those in need, for our communities at large. And because he was a passionate, articulate advocate of the Mayor's work.

For poor people? I would point to the work done with the Tenants Union, with the Low-Income Housing Institute, with the redevelopment and expansion of Yesler Terrace, with the (believe it or not) broader approach to urban development and densification, making more efficient use of space, with an aggressive push for pedestrian and cyclist safety, for transit and transportation infrastructure, for retaining social services without cuts through the recession WHILE keeping our budget int the black, for pouring more money, time, focus and work into education for our children whether creating more opportunities for early education, after-school programs, expanded arts education funding, for expanded programs for at-risk youth like expanding the Youth Violence Prevention Initiative in the 2013-2014 budget, adding 450 new slots when before the program was at capacity, for standing up to the council and vetoing the Aggressive Panhandling ordinance (a regressive and redundant attack on those in the most need), for rebuilding community centers, for expanding library hours .

For fighting for livable wages in city projects, for implementing community workforce agreements and ensuring local hiring practices, For EXPANDING human/social services after balancing the budget and preserving the existing funding throughout the recession, for tripling the contracting of women-and minority-owned business enterprises from $11 million to $34 million, for creating Seattle's first Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs and including many communities that had forever been overlooked by City Hall.

For expanding childcare assistance programs for low-income families that need it most. For implementing programs like LEAD, ensuring smarter and more compassionate approaches to dealing with addicts and non-violent offenders.

That's what I'd say, if you would like me to scratch the surface.

Deepest apologies if you make any follow-up charges that I don't respond to. As I said, I think you're unserious and ridiculous, your charges so divorced from what I know and see, that I've found it totally unnecessary to set you straight (no one needs to give someone the time of day in blog comments, honestly). Because when I see you're making posts like this, on a two-day old thread, at 4 in the morning, you must expect that no one take you seriously.

Now stop hyperventilating, do some actual fucking research, and go enjoy a beautiful weekend.
Posted by grkle on July 27, 2013 at 9:57 AM · Report this
The thing that pleases me about all of this is that McGinn had been struggling with the issue and got an idea for a way to take action from Murray at a candidate forum.

While the forums have been tedious and sometimes less than revealing, there have been good and creative ideas at times. I scribbled madly at the forum focused on making Seattle a livable - walkable and bikeable - city, because there were good ideas from a variety of candidates, whether I wanted them to be mayor or not.

Kudos to McGinn for listening to his competitors' ideas. I'd like to think they're all learning from each other.
Posted by brieg on July 27, 2013 at 2:33 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 100
Goldy, this may be a bit nuanced for you to understand, but when Murray advocated "changing the zoning laws," he actually meant that. You know, from Schoolhouse Rock: a bill is introduced, the Council passes it, the Mayor signs it. That's what changing the law means. When you change the law, then people know what the law is. McGinn is not advocating changing the law. He's advocating denying the street vacation without any change in the law. 1: Change the law. 2: Don't change the law, but use the existing law in an arbitrary and capricious manner to extract the flavor of the day for a street vacation. 1 is not the same as 2. I don't expect you to understand this, but maybe one or two Sloggers will.

Of course, Murray actually understands the legislative process. McGinn thinks it's a stupid waste of time. Kind of like George W. Bush and his "signing statements" in that regard.
Posted by kk in seattle on July 27, 2013 at 8:47 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 101
@robotslave: It is unconstitutional for the City to give away property. With respect to streets and alleys, the City does not actually own the property anyway. The City has a right of way. In petitioning for a vacation, the property owner requests the City to sell the right of way back to the property owner for fair market value. So there is not a gift. McGinn is simply trying to squeeze something new out of the negotiation at the last minute. Well, that's his right to do so, but it's also the right of other candidates who support the goal (fair wages in exchange for street vacations) to call "foul" on the process, which would normally be run past the City Attorney and the City Council. McGinn is notoriously bad at working with any of the other elected officials in Seattle. So I don't call this a flip flop on Murray's part, but neither the Stranger nor Sloggers are noted for their attention to procedural detail (Goldy is capable of it, but in this case is shilling so hard for McGinn that he's abandoned all journalistic credibility).
Posted by kk in seattle on July 27, 2013 at 9:04 PM · Report this

Aside from a paragraph of ad hominem, you still never replied to my statements. And as for my 'divorced from reality' claims, I cited every claim with stories from the times and right here in the slog. Either you are pretending none of those controversies happened, you are working for the McGinn campaign and thus cant acknowledge his failings, or you have a serious cognitive dissonance issue.

Blaming past mayors for fostering the current racialized and abusive police culture is not an answer. If you sit in the big chair and its continuing under you, its your responsibility. McGinn opposed the DOJ reform efforts at every turn, and even argued that the racial policing issue wasnt an issue. Hes quoted in the times, so before you try to say it didnt happen, a simple google search will verify it. Did he or did he not appoint Kathryn Olsen to the OPA office, and did she or did she not get caught retaliating against people that complain about the SPD? Did he or did he not support 'targeted policing' which was basically an alternate name for 'racial policing' (targeting areas with high latino and black neighborhoods as high crime, but leaving our white areas with high crime).

Thats great that several other Seattle insiders with insider 'social justice' organizations back McGinn, but we both know that means nothing. Kate Olsen was the head of a prominent social justice organization as well.

Unless you can tell me why ANY Black, Latino or Native person should vote for McGinn and not give me a :"well x, y, and z support him", you havent answered the question. Im not even asking a 'what has he done' (thatll come on the poverty issue). Seattle police abuse and racism issues are not some 'small thing' that a few troublesome people have experience with. I cant find an african american or native person in Seattle that hasnt had an issue with the SPD. It got so bad the DOJ had to get involved and at every turn, Mayor McGinn opposed them and covered for the SPD and its numerous abuses against Seattles people of color. So I ask again, why on earth would anyone from the above groups support a man who supported a department that routinely dehumanized and abused their communities?

Posted by araucania on July 27, 2013 at 9:29 PM · Report this
? I thought I listed a series of reasons and accomplishments, like a large paragraph apiece for each question you asked, which were merely buttressed by ad hominem attacks and lists of quotes, links and such from other supporters.


Hmm, there they are.

I'm off to ride my bike and do some actual voter contact!
Posted by grkle on July 28, 2013 at 2:44 PM · Report this

Enjoy the bikeride.

Im pretty sure we both know what 'voters' and which neighborhoods youll be riding that bike in. Ones were the people look like you and not like me. Probably ones where the majority makes enough $$ to be able to afford a place close enough to bike to work. You know, 'McGinn' neighborhoods. Too bad about those 'other peoples' though, huh grckle?
Posted by araucania on July 29, 2013 at 12:03 AM · Report this
Yes, wow, my rich friends and I don our monocles and nibble on caviar as we cycle down the gold-paved streets of Seattle's ritziest locales.

I don't know why you assumed I was talking about going to work, either (I was not).
Posted by grkle on July 29, 2013 at 9:38 AM · Report this
Seriously, man, I don't even know what more I want to say. I just can't stress enough how wrong and fucking dumb that is. No one else is even reading this thread at this point, but I can't help but keep typing to just let *you* know how wildly off the mark you are about me, the neighborhoods I bike in, or the weird stereotype you've crafted at large. If only uber-wealthy cyclists wouldn't stop standing on the backs of the impoverished drivers out there.

I mean, seriously. The whole thing. How you misspell my 5-letter screen name that is in front of your face, how you put "voters" in quotation marks (or at least tried to), because, um, these alleged rich people are probably not registered to vote? I don't even begin to understand.

Too bad about those "other peoples", yes.
Posted by grkle on July 29, 2013 at 9:46 AM · Report this

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