Slog Music

Music, Nightlife,
and Drunks

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Mood at the City Council?

Posted by on Tue, Nov 12, 2013 at 7:40 PM

"Apoplectic," a city council staffer told an inside source when describing the atmosphere this evening inside many council offices after news broke that socialist Kshama Sawant has taken a narrow lead over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin. Conlin losing would not only unravel a knot of plans for the new year, Sawant's victory would add some unpredictability to City Hall.

Council members had already jockeyed close to their committee chairmanships for 2014, but with Conlin possibly leaving the land-use committee, another member would take those reins (and the council is highly unlikely to toss Sawant into the arcane world of zoning in her freshman year). That would lead to Machiavellian jostling for their dream committees all over again. Next, there's a thorny question of who will be council president. Everyone had assumed it would be Tim Burgess. Now it's uncertain if he can get wrangle the votes. And finally, they wonder what Sawant will do if she actually disrupts their orderly universe, in which consensus has been a religion. They're afraid she'll be like a mountain lion set loose in a grocery store.


Comments (63) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
Will in Seattle 1
We didn't start the Fire.

They did by ignoring the voters to coddle the Rich.
Posted by Will in Seattle on November 12, 2013 at 8:26 PM · Report this
It's hard to describe how much I'm enjoying this. I feel alive again.
Posted by politickling on November 12, 2013 at 8:28 PM · Report this
Misread this as "apocalyptic." Which, you know, probably that too.
Posted by Ruke on November 12, 2013 at 8:29 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 4
This is revolutionary.
Five years ago the US elected its first black president, revolutionary. Ever since Obama has been in office, my life has been so much more grand, fulfilling.

This is just my opinion, but if anybody is seeking out a blissful happiness in their lives, hands down, put your faith in a politician.
Posted by dnt trust me on November 12, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
camlux 5
If Sawant wins the seat, and if she treads carefully and wisely until she gains some experience and working relationships with the rest of the council, she could actually be very effective. She could do this without compromising too many of her beliefs. On the other hand, if she starts flinging Molotov cocktails (sorry, couldn't resist) immediately, then her tenure may not be so effective. Best wishes to her.
Posted by camlux on November 12, 2013 at 8:34 PM · Report this
Dominic Holden 6
@5) I think you have it right. I'll just add: If Sawant wins, she'd also benefit from focusing on key issues instead of going McGinn-style scattershot, which, to be fair, is easier for a council member than a mayor.
Posted by Dominic Holden on November 12, 2013 at 8:37 PM · Report this
So. Fucking. Awesome. And so, so overdue.
Posted by Pol Pot on November 12, 2013 at 8:38 PM · Report this
levide 8

So, if she wins, which seems highly likely at this point, she should just sit down and not make any waves? Fuck that, we voted for her to make waves.
Posted by levide on November 12, 2013 at 8:44 PM · Report this
Pol Pot endorses Sawant! Let the killings begin!
Posted by Ieng Sary on November 12, 2013 at 8:44 PM · Report this
@8 You can't make waves in a bath tube.
Posted by Ieng Sary on November 12, 2013 at 8:46 PM · Report this
$5 says at some point in the next year Sawant will thank Bellomio and StandUpAmerica people for their insights into the corrupt council actions.…
Posted by ChefJoe on November 12, 2013 at 8:50 PM · Report this
trstr 12
@12: $10 says she'll sic the cops on them.
Posted by trstr on November 12, 2013 at 8:58 PM · Report this
Hilarious! They need a bit of a wake up call, and regardless of the results, they're getting it.
This is akin to when non-Mormons and/or Democrats get elected in Utah for an office representing anything outside of Salt Lake City proper.
Posted by StuckInUtah on November 12, 2013 at 9:04 PM · Report this
Q*bert H. Humphrey 14
@8, how do you expect a single council member to be able to "make waves"? By haranguing fellow council members and valiantly being on the losing side of every single vote for two years? If not, then she's going to have to try to win over council members over to her side, and that means some actual patience.
Posted by Q*bert H. Humphrey on November 12, 2013 at 9:07 PM · Report this
Good. The Council needs a shakeup badly. They thought they could just make McGinn look bad while they continued to pursue regressive policies and Sawant has exposed their game. This reaction is exactly why she needed to run and why she needed to win.
Posted by junipero on November 12, 2013 at 9:08 PM · Report this
levide 16

By shifting the dialogue. Which pretty clearly occurred during this campaign. I don't expect massive shake-ups, just a well-needed perspective, and maybe a little less acquiescence on the part of our representatives. For now that's enough, and there might actually be some legitimization to an *actual* Left-wing in this country. And it would seem, in this case, the electorate agrees.
Posted by levide on November 12, 2013 at 9:14 PM · Report this
south downtown 17
"if she actually disrupts their orderly universe"

Sawant and District Elections have disrupted the unseemly machinations on the second floor.

Council has spent too long listening to money and developers. Its their twilight...
Posted by south downtown on November 12, 2013 at 9:21 PM · Report this
theophrastus 18
of course it would be disappointing if the The Stranger wasn't in some full gloat mode currently; but there are a helluva lot of unpredictable shifts ahead. here's just one to muse over: if she wins, Sawant will find herself in one of the most moneyed anti-socialist districts, and the powers that be there will be very inclined to dispatch her next time around. so i'd humbly recommend that those who are overtly crushing on Sawant to work out a deal where she moves district, or runs for one of the 'at large' seats. the districted council business will look very different, and in the long (faye garneau/suzie-burke) run will be less inclined toward socialism; so much so, Ms Sawant's influence may be all but negated.
Posted by theophrastus on November 12, 2013 at 9:23 PM · Report this
@18 Sawant should move outside of district 3 with Seattle Central Community College, where she works ? Isn't that giving up a lot of people she had regular contact with ?
Posted by ChefJoe on November 12, 2013 at 9:28 PM · Report this
Yes! Absolutely correct.

While I am not a socialist (of course Sawant isn't either) I all in favor of shaking up the Council.

If shaking it a bit can happen in a effective way, great!

Sawant can be effective by being pleasant, amiable and with a backbone of steel. Work hard; dig into the minutiae; don't grandstand or scare people but ask good questions and make sure that the public knows if/when questions aren't answered. Probably having a sense of humor and not acting triumphal are essential personality traits.

Of course, since Sawant has already said that she will go along with NIMBY policies of allowing "The Neighborhood" to veto multi-family development (I do believe that is what she has said) a huge part of City decision-making is off the table. Getting the single-family capitalist vote (think, for example, North Capital Hill or Maple Leaf) will not help Seattle at large but will position her for re-election.

Posted by David Sucher on November 12, 2013 at 9:29 PM · Report this
The world didn't come to an end when Charlie Chong was sworn in either. I know one of his staffers who described getting a rather chilly reception at city hall.
Posted by restlessnative on November 12, 2013 at 9:31 PM · Report this
MrBaker 22
I'm calling this first, her BFF will be Jean Godden.
Super secret friends setting fires under the council on little things, like something about the ladies getting paid,and positions in power.

Hey Dominic, did anybody (Tom, maybe) grasp the big wooden carving of the city emblem and hissss, "my precious"?

OBrien and his crazy phone book thing will seem so tame a year from now.

I can't wait, I'm going to stream Seattlechannel all the freaking time while at work.
Posted by MrBaker on November 12, 2013 at 9:31 PM · Report this
@22, yes, Jean and Kshama will be regularly meeting up to hang out in their box at the KeyArena to see Storm games. And they'll prank the Sallys every Friday afternoon.
Posted by ChefJoe on November 12, 2013 at 9:41 PM · Report this
"They're afraid she'll be like a mountain lion set loose in a grocery store."

Simile fail.
Posted by Told-Ya on November 12, 2013 at 9:46 PM · Report this
Right now, I bet the Sallys have the Willies.
Posted by politickling on November 12, 2013 at 9:49 PM · Report this
MrBaker 26
They will insist on giving the Stand Up for America dudes extra time to talk just to see if they can get a rise out of Sally C.
Posted by MrBaker on November 12, 2013 at 9:52 PM · Report this
MrBaker 27
It's going to be really hard on Nick, not knowing on what and when to cast a meaningless "no" vote in a committee, only to later vote a get-along-yes vote in Full Committee, not knowing if his protracted and purely symbolic grandstanding will be overshadowed by somebody that actually means "no" when she votes.

(I'll send him an unemotional sympathy card that will read like I support him right up to the very end where I'll tell him that I don't.)
Posted by MrBaker on November 12, 2013 at 10:01 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 28
Licata, Sawant, and O'Brien do not a majority make.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on November 12, 2013 at 10:24 PM · Report this

Here's another Bellomio classic.
He registered with the City running for position 4.…
He registered with the State running for position 8.…
Posted by Zander on November 12, 2013 at 10:25 PM · Report this
Can Kshama unilaterally hire the StandUpAmerica people to be her legislative aides, or does the SCC have to share the resources ?

I would like to invite my assistant here to present a brief summary of how we've handled this issue in the past and where we need to go... the next 30 minutes or so are yours Mr Zimmerman. I've already been briefed so I'll return after I get a latte.
Posted by ChefJoe on November 12, 2013 at 10:26 PM · Report this
She'll be effective if she spends her time in office like she ran her campaign: championing movements. When she spends time with folks in the city struggling against foreclosures or being paid low wages, she throws a spotlight on those issues that the rest of the council will ignore at their peril. How else did she get both candidates for mayor - and indeed eventually even her opponent - to endorse the $15 minimum wage?

If she grandstands on things that people aren't already working for, she'll merely be grandstanding.

And #27: yeah, Nick's been a disappointment, trading on his reputation for too long, like so many Seattle Democrats.
Posted by Jon in belltown on November 12, 2013 at 10:36 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 32
Council members do not "champion movements." They revise a budget proposal submitted by the Mayor and they suggest that certain buildings owned by White People conform to agreed upon architectural norms.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on November 12, 2013 at 11:01 PM · Report this
dnt trust me 33
@31, 32

I disagree with both of you. I think council members champion 'bowel' movements. Have you ever looked in a sewer? You'll see that white people's turds act racist to black people's turds. It's disgusting.
Posted by dnt trust me on November 12, 2013 at 11:07 PM · Report this
Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn 34
What was Conlin going to do except coast for two more years? Maybe legalize sheep to go with our goats.

If Sawant accomplishes even one thing it will be more than Conlin would have done.

I'd like to see her raise issues that aren't being discussed, but the big thing is to keep the ladder in place that she just climbed: run a full slate of socialist candidates next election and help more outsiders win office. I don't really want a socialist majority (well maybe I do), if that was even possible, and it's not likely. But I do want to see only Democrats who can articulate a clear counterargument to socialism keep their seats. Not red baiting, but a real agenda to help the working class.
Posted by Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Cthulhu R'lyeh wgah'nagl fhtagn on November 12, 2013 at 11:09 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 35
A "real agenda" might well be a purely symbolic one: withhold taxes from the State of Washington until said spatial fiction recognizes that said municipal fiction demands the ability to provide basic services to its own inhabitants based upon upon the taxes that they pay.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on November 12, 2013 at 11:15 PM · Report this
Does the City of Seattle pay taxes to the State of Washington?
Posted by David Sucher on November 12, 2013 at 11:30 PM · Report this
@20 What nonsense are you on about? Kshama IS a Socialist.
Posted by Fallbreaker on November 12, 2013 at 11:33 PM · Report this
Sean Kinney 38
No we don't. Funny thing. Our sales tax revenue is collected, accounted for, and artfully coagulated into a slushfund managed by Christian Dairy farmers who Support Our Troops.
Posted by Sean Kinney http:// on November 12, 2013 at 11:43 PM · Report this
What are the odds that each one will vote for Sawant for Council President, assuming that she will be the least popular choice. That could make a good movie...
Posted by Jude Fawley on November 12, 2013 at 11:57 PM · Report this
If Sawant wins/has won, that's a fairly good indication that she hasn't irritated too many people.

This really is an absolute political earthquake: district elections and Conlin out. And the Council thought it was all smooth sailing with their anointed candidate winning the mayoral race.

Kind of cool watching a post-election panel tonight on the Seattle Channel where Sinderman was smarmily talking about Sawant losing.
Posted by sarah70 on November 13, 2013 at 12:03 AM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 41
If we look at the politics of the world, Sawant is about dead center; maybe a bit to the right, somewhere around Angela Merkel. It will be good having an actual middle-of-the-roader in office to scare the extreme-right that most of our office holders represent.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on November 13, 2013 at 1:17 AM · Report this

WoW! Well, yes, Virginia, maybe there is a Santa Claus. And as the bumper sticker says,

Posted by Mary Francillon on November 13, 2013 at 1:23 AM · Report this

It doesn't make sense to claim that Sawant is a Socialist she wants to give "The Neighborhood" the veto on whether to allow walkable multi-family development, which is what she has said she would do.

Sawant supports NIMBYism. Sawant protects Single Family neighborhoods to protect the interests of Single Family capitalists.

Posted by David Sucher on November 13, 2013 at 6:30 AM · Report this
camlux 44
Her election to office doesn't have to be framed as Ideology versus government. It could be: for the fire-breathing revolutionaries out there, taking a socialist stand seems all-important.

I think long-term success in making socialist change is (probably) more important to her. It is to me. I don't want a flash in the pan.
Posted by camlux on November 13, 2013 at 7:45 AM · Report this
Pope Peabrain 45
If she learns the ropes and becomes effective, she can change the entire country. And every indication is she will do both. Much to the chagrin of the dominant paradigm. Good luck Kshama!
Posted by Pope Peabrain on November 13, 2013 at 7:52 AM · Report this
When will she smash imperialism and crush capitalism? Friday after the Parks and Rec subcommittee hearing on paddling pool funding?
Posted by This will be a good laff on November 13, 2013 at 8:15 AM · Report this
Supreme Ruler Of The Universe 47
Check your giddiness SLOG. From what I've read over in STB, she seems like she is focused more on the needs of the newcomers and immigrant-citizens who are getting a raw deal from the ridiculous densifiers and entrenched liberals who soak the middle class for maximum coin for minimum return. She may not be the "urbist" of your dreams, but a person who is working for the South Seattlite being squashed by the Downtown Syndicate.

Posted by Supreme Ruler Of The Universe on November 13, 2013 at 8:18 AM · Report this
Citizens of Seattle are tired of big money controlling our elections.…

The citizens of Seattle have spoken and we are saying that we have a voice, too. We now have District Elections, Sawant and Sue Peters!

Please note that Sue Peters ran for Seattle School Board and her opponent was funded by Steve and Connie Ballmer, Jeff Raikes, Christopher Larson and all of the city's pooh-bahs. As if that wasn't enough, the pooh-bahs had to form a PAC valued at $100K to launch dishonest attacks on Peters. Our educational system is not for sale- boys.

I hope ALL politicians are watching.
Posted by At Last on November 13, 2013 at 8:45 AM · Report this
tabletop_joe 49
@47 How is that not something to be giddy about?
Posted by tabletop_joe on November 13, 2013 at 9:34 AM · Report this
"... she can change the entire country."

I think that such folks are going to face a lot of disappointment.
Posted by David Sucher on November 13, 2013 at 9:36 AM · Report this
Max Solomon 51
@50: by simply demonstrating that American Socialists are not Fire-breathing Bolsheviks that the populist Know-nothing imagination makes them out to be (see any Seattle Times comments section in any Sawant article), her council membership could shift the national debate, ever so slightly, towards rationalism in discussing what, exactly, Promoting the General Welfare means.

I'm not expecting that much. So I'm not going to be disappointed, even if she's thrown out at the end of this term.
Posted by Max Solomon on November 13, 2013 at 11:40 AM · Report this
Funny how people are criticizing her for how she performs as City Councilmember when she hasn't actually been elected yet, and for ignoring what the people really want when it appears that many people have voted for her. I hate these kind of claims but will make one anyway: if she were a white American-born guy, none of this clamor would be happening.
Posted by sarah70 on November 13, 2013 at 11:42 AM · Report this
Point well taken.
Posted by David Sucher on November 13, 2013 at 12:25 PM · Report this
Pridge Wessea 54
@51 - Well stated Max.
Posted by Pridge Wessea on November 13, 2013 at 1:10 PM · Report this
@43 You apparently don't understand the dynamics of the Roosevelt screw-over that the current council pulled a couple years ago. The "Neighborhood" in that case had completed over 5 years of work on a comprehensive high-density zoning plan only watch the council give the slum-lord on the other side of the neighborhood nearly everything he wanted...shifting to a lower density plan further away from the light-rail station. That neighborhood embraced multi-family walkable development--they just wanted it integrated with and in support of an existing business core.
Posted by Jack Wilson on November 13, 2013 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Each day many of us have been going to work and counting your ballots.
I cannot tell you how happy I am to be able to leave work knowing that this HISTORIC EVENT is happening! It is so hard to keep the smile off my face and my mouth shut.
Awaiting new ballot numbers at 4:30pm each day is EXCITING.
This gives the OCCUPY movement validation! This puts COLOR on the City Council. I agree with Dominic and #5 - but I do want to see a "little" shake up!

Posted by worker bee on November 13, 2013 at 7:35 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 57
Charlie Chong redux.
Posted by kk in seattle on November 13, 2013 at 10:55 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 58
@51: Two words: Bernie Sanders. He's actually in the United States Senate. I expect the rest of the country doesn't particularly give a crap about the upper left hand corner.
Posted by kk in seattle on November 13, 2013 at 10:58 PM · Report this
kk in seattle 59
@48: You realize that district elections were funded by a reactionary kook so that she could get some right-wingers on the Council, right?
Posted by kk in seattle on November 13, 2013 at 11:02 PM · Report this
MikeCleverley 60
In the UK, and Ireland, we have had Socialist MP's, Euro-MP's and City Councillors. Usually just in 1s and 2s. They are revolutionary, not by making unprincipled alliances or secret deals, but by standing up for workers living standards. That means being on picket lines and demonstrations; using the position as a platform from which to expose the corruption and pro-capitalist policies of our enemies.

In these matters I salute Kshama Sawant and am exultant that s Socialist has made this breakthrough.
Posted by MikeCleverley on November 14, 2013 at 6:07 AM · Report this
how is faye garneau going to get any right winger on the council?

what district would said right winger win, in?

seattle is like 70 or 90% democratic all over -- in each district. the districts system is more likely to give us one or two socialists than a republican. tell me one name of one republican you think can or will win in which district, thank you very much. btw did you know that a charter amendment like this one but with nine districts was propounded by super democrats in 2003 and it lost with like 46%? when the right wing downtown seattle association fought it tooth and nail? it was left then. so how does going to 7 make it right now? seems to me it's like we want $15 min wage but if Obama is only pushing a hike to ten bucks....that's leftward movement. tell me what republican can win, thank you.
Posted by stop being hysterical ok? on November 14, 2013 at 8:00 AM · Report this
in the UK you have nationalized health insurance, this is one socialist sector of the economy. put in by labor, and tolerated and accepted and basically ratified by the conservative party which doesn't dismantle it wholesale. obviously, it works enough that voters want to keep it. over here in America we ignorantly act like no socialist has ever won power anywhere in the democratic world relying on the confusion between soviet and SD socialism....there are socialists ALL OVER Europe, mainly in those countries we visit and admire here in the lefty circles of the upper left coast of the united states.
Posted by many socialists win elections on November 14, 2013 at 8:03 AM · Report this
Conlin losing his seat on the land-use committee, as well as McGinn losing his job is why I hate the results of this election so much (and Proposition 19 could prove to be worse than either of those). Zoning is arcane, but right now it is the most important thing the city does. I know that might confuse people, but consider this:

Want to reduce the number of people living in their cars, shelters or on the street? Build more apartments. Want to lower the cost of rent? Build more apartments. Want to make public transportation cheaper, and more effective? Build more apartments.

Want to preserve the look of your neighborhood? Don't build apartments. Want to preserve parking in your neighborhood? Require new apartments to have parking. Want to reduce traffic, or other undesirable side effects of too many people (especially undesirables) moving into your neighborhood? Limit the number of apartments a building can have.

Conlin knew this. The mayor knew this. Most of the council knows this. They know that the fastest, cheapest way to get rents down (or at the very minimum, reduce the rate at which they increase) is to change the zoning to make it cheaper and easier to build more apartments. But, as my last paragraph points out, lots of people don't like those changes. Conlin and the mayor worked hard to push the council to the left as much as possible on this issue. Like a lot of what Conlin did, The Stranger barely noticed. But his opponents noticed, which is why they are absolutely giddy over the fact that he is gone.

Just to be clear, there are other ways to reduce the cost of rent. Some of them are illegal while others are impractical or have had bad side effects. For example, rent control is illegal, and generally speaking, has not been that successful (unlike raising the minimum wage, the general consensus on rent control is that it has not helped the situation). Having the government build a bunch of low income housing would be extremely expensive, and impractical (and run across the same zoning opposition as simply changing the rules and allowing developers to build). It also tends to concentrate poor people in one area, which causes other problems.

Letting developers (yes, evil developers) build apartments without ridiculous requirements (such as parking or limiting the number of units) would make it possible for them to build more units, and charge less for them. Hell, they could just liberalize the mother-in-law apartment rules (to at the very least catch up with Vancouver B. C. or Portland). This would be of great benefit to the folks that need a place to stay, as well as the folks who are trying to make ends meet while living in their house (and even the folks that want to see houses not replaced by apartments). Of course, if you did that, then parking might be harder -- so, yeah, it will probably never happen.
Posted by Ross on November 14, 2013 at 10:25 AM · Report this

Add a comment


Want great deals and a chance to win tickets to the best shows in Seattle? Join The Stranger Presents email list!

All contents © Index Newspapers, LLC
1535 11th Ave (Third Floor), Seattle, WA 98122
Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Use | Takedown Policy