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Thursday, November 20, 2014

Jean Godden Nudges the City Toward Gender Pay Equity

Posted by on Thu, Nov 20, 2014 at 5:01 PM

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  • City of Seattle

It's been three weeks since Mayor Ed Murray shouted at Anna Minard (*sniff* miss ya, dude) about gender pay equity.

Don't remember what exactly set the mayor off? It was Anna's reporting on his budget proposal, which didn't include any new funding—beyond $1.4 million already allotted during the Mike McGinn administration—to do something about the city's habit of paying women less than men for the same work. (This was strange, because Murray had trashed McGinn on the issue of gender pay equity during the last mayoral election.)

Since then, the City Council intervened—as it's done with other deficiencies in the mayor's budget proposal—and added $500,000 over the next two years to give the city the "flexibility and capacity" to implement a paid parental sick leave policy for city employees. The idea is to allow employees of any gender, including new moms, of course, to take time off when they have a child. The city's own Gender Equity Task Force recommended creating such a policy back in 2013.

Council Member Jean Godden, who proposed the funding, says she's "thrilled" that the council took her up on it. And, she says, the mayor is "enthusiastic" about it. (He should be, given what he already said about parental leave on Slog.)

Godden told me she realized how critical an issue this is when she ran into a city department head in the elevator one day. He told her his employees had recently had seven children between them. "They've been trying to piece together vacation time so they wouldn't have to come back the next day [after their babies were born]," she says he told her.

As with any Seattle-process-heavy process, though, actual change could be a ways off. A consultant will be tasked with finishing a study on what the parental leave policy could look like by November 2014, just in time for the next iteration of the budget.

"Establishing a paid parental leave policy? The city should've already had one. Implement that fucker yesterday," Anna wrote back in April. (The United States is one of only a few countries that doesn't offer paid parental leave. 'MERICA!)

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Seattle Police Are Treating the Ferguson Grand Jury Decision Like May Day

Posted by on Wed, Nov 19, 2014 at 12:20 PM

Seattle May Day, circa 2012.
  • Ian Buck
  • May Day in Seattle, circa 2012.

Seattle police believe the grand jury decision on the shooting of Mike Brown—specifically, whether or not to charge the Ferguson, Missouri policeman Darren Wilson for the unarmed 18-year-old's killing—could lead to unrest along the lines of past May Day protests.

"Seattle’s Emergency Operations Center will plan to activate shortly in advance of the decision in much the same way as we have for several years for May Day events," Office of Emergency Management Director Barb Graff said in a November 11 e-mail, sent to dozens of city and county officials and obtained by The Stranger.

In the e-mail, Graff said she expects the decision to come out before the end of the month and hoped for "a little advanced notice." But she said she couldn't be sure about the date. She asked the city officials and various departments—including the Washington State Fusion Center—to identify who they are assigning to the emergency operations center.

The City of Seattle is making a series of planning assumptions, an attached document says, that includes "marches, rallies, protests, and other expressions of civil unrest" which may be "intended to provoke violence" or damage property.

Continue reading »

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Monday, November 17, 2014

This Is What Happens When the Left Takes Over the City Budget

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 4:54 PM

TK
  • City of Seattle
  • More money for homeless kids, more money for bike share justice, faster minimum wage hikes, and more money for wage enforcement.

On Friday, the city council unanimously voted for a $4.8 billion budget package to get Seattle through the next two years, adding more than $8 million in funding to Mayor Ed Murray's version. What's in it for you and me?

A lot of great stuff, it turns out, even if some questionable things got proposed—and rejected—along the way.

The council's modifications to a dozen specific budget areas, taken together, represent a surprisingly human-centric document of financial planning—a reflection, in large part, of council lefty Nick Licata's role as budget chair and his prioritization of human services. Among the highlights:

Continue reading »

A Millionaire's Tax in Seattle?

Posted by on Mon, Nov 17, 2014 at 6:00 AM

In 2010, Seattle voters like the idea of taxing the rich. Now that the city has a lot more rich people, would the idea be more or less popular?
  • Mirko Rosenau/Shutterstock
  • In 2010, Seattle voters liked the idea of taxing the rich. Now that this city has a lot more rich people, will the idea of taxing them be more or less popular?

Last week, the Seattle City Council voted to ask its lawyers whether a special tax on local millionaires would even be legal.

Council President Tim Burgess thinks the answer is obvious: no. (Because state law bars income taxes.) Council Member Kshama Sawant thinks it's important to explore the question further.

This question has been kicking around for a long time. (Like, since 1933.) And no matter what the city's lawyers come up with, it's likely that any income tax approved by the Seattle City Council would end up at the Washington State Supreme Court—which could be a good thing, given the court's current makeup.

But while the city's lawyers start exploring the income tax question all over again, it's worth considering another question: Would Seattle voters support a tax on millionaires?

Remember, Initiative 1098, which would have brought Washington State billions of dollars annually by levying a tax on high-income earners, failed all across the state in 2010. It even failed here in King County, where some of the titans of local tech—including Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, Jeff Bezos, and the Microsoft Corporation—gave big money to defeat the measure. One thing the tech titans were said to like about Washington State's lack of an income tax: It helps them when they're recruiting talent to the region.

Even so, in 2010, Seattle voters ignored the tech leaders and voted strongly for a high-earners income tax. That, however, was four years ago.

Since then, the tech companies—especially Bezos's Amazon—have continued to recruit huge numbers of people to come work in this income-tax-free city where, presumably, the lack of an income tax helps all these new workers afford the higher rents and rising housings costs that their presences are helping to create.

Would Seattle's new tech migrants, many of them probably (and reasonably) hoping to become millionaires themselves one day, oppose a new move to tax Seattle's millionaires? If they did, would it make any difference to the overall Seattle sentiment that, at least in 2010, was in favor of taxing the rich?

We may be about to find out.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

The Best of Slog: Every Restaurant or Bar You Ever Cared About Is Closing

Posted by on Sun, Nov 16, 2014 at 8:10 AM

The End of Paseo: The bad news landed on Tuesday. We talked about the lawsuit. Ansel Herz interviewed nine employees about their time at the restaurant and tried to get to the bottom of a "save Paseo" Kickstarter campaign.

There Goes the Neighborhood: The Redwood is closing. Also, will STG close down the Neptune's neighbors in the U-District?

This Time, He's Really Serious: Mayor Murray really wants police reform, you guys.

You Can't Get Online with a Study: No broadband for Seattle in 2015? Well, how about a study, then? You guys like studies, right?

Not It! Alison Holcomb, who decided not to run against Kshama Sawant, thinks someone should run against Kshama Sawant.

The Week in Interviews: Where's the craziest place you've ever had sex? H.P. Lovecraft was totally a racist, right? How hard is it to start publishing e-books? Giant penis sword, or breasts that spew blood?

How Do We Love Thee, Marshawn? Let's come up with a bunch of insufferable ways.

Net Neutrality: It's like Obamacare! No? Don't buy that? Okay, uh... well, we'll come up with something else, then....

Our Elderly State: Washington turned 125 last week.

BACK DOOR! Our etiquette columnist is at it again, this time with a demand that bus drivers open the damn back door.

Jesus Smokin' Christ: Here's what happened last weekend.

Why Didn't You Vote? Tell us the truth.

Welcome, Warren Harding! Also, Sean Nelson.

The Plate Without a Country: The problem with arranging your collection by geography is you sometimes need to find a place to put uncategorizable things.

Where the hell should SAM put this?
  • COLLECTION OF SEATTLE ART MUSEUM
  • Where the hell should SAM put this?

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Friday, November 14, 2014

City Council Majority Rejects Sally Clark's Ideas on Delaying $15 Wage for City Employees

Posted by on Fri, Nov 14, 2014 at 3:59 PM

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved a raft of additions to Mayor Ed Murray's budget proposal today, but not before some wrangling over the minimum wage, homeless encampments, and shelter beds for homeless women, thanks to some conservative positions taken up by Council Member Sally Clark.

Early on, Clark spoke out against raising the minimum wage for city employees to $15 next year. Kshama Sawant had proposed budgeting more than $1 million to fund the wage bump, which, despite an executive order from Mayor Murray signaling his intent to raise city workers' wages earlier this year, was nowhere to be found in the mayor's budget proposal.

Clark did not try to remove Sawant's proposal from the council's budget package. But she did note an objection to the idea, because, she said, "Cherry-picking a particular subject away from the bargaining table [with city employees unions] sets a really difficult precedent."

"This is something everyone wants, which is to have them earn $15... And we have a schedule to do that," she continued, echoing the rhetoric of Murray, who lobbied the council against the proposal this week.

Sawant offered a rejoinder, saying that the unions themselves have been pushing for this wage increase. But it was Council Member Bruce Harrell, sitting next to Clark, who turned on his gravitas-machine to great effect: "We're trying to show leadership here. We're trying to put our values and money where our mouth is... to be a leader on income inequality. So we're going to take our own employees and accelerate the minimum wage. I'm ready to move on."

And move on they did.

Afterward, I asked Clark what she was trying to accomplish with her comments. "The City of Seattle has had a great history of staying and adhering to collective bargaining," she said. "I just want to be aware of that." Make of that what you will.

Clark did, however, actually propose striking two budget amendments and replacing them with new ones that would have postponed funding for women's shelter beds and homeless encampments ($120,000 and $100,000, respectively) by at least a month.

She failed to convince the council on either front, though, with several members arguing that because winter is already happening (and shelter occupancy rates are up as a result of cold temperatures), the funds—not a lot of money, by the way, out of a nearly $2 billion budget—needed to be available as soon as possible.

Seven- and six-member majorities voted to keep the amendments in place, overruling Clark, Tim Burgess, and on the women's shelter funding, Jean Godden.

"This is the first time the city has set aside any dollars for transitional encampments," said Sawant, who also cosponsored both of the homelessness amendments. "It outlines the basic things that the encampment needs. It's a very humane thing to do, to provide the funding for homeless encampments... I feel like this is what we came here for: to actually organize a fight against income inequality."

The vote "definitely paves the way" for a council majority to support legislation that's expected from Nick Licata, who ran the budget process this year, to legalize homeless encampments on public land, Sawant said. We'll have more budget coverage before Monday, November 24, when the council takes a final vote to approve the budget package.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Is Mayor Murray Reneging on a Plan to Quickly Raise the Minimum Wage for City Workers?

Posted by on Thu, Nov 13, 2014 at 6:46 PM

Mayor Ed Murray signs an executive order on January 3, 2014, to raise wages for city employees. Is he going back on that deal?
  • Mayor's Office
  • Mayor Ed Murray signs an executive order on January 3, 2014, to raise wages for city employees. Is he going back on that deal?

Tomorrow is a big day for Seattle. You know how some believe election day should be a holiday, so people don't have to fit the exercise of their voting rights around their work schedules? Similarly, if we really wanted to encourage the people of Seattle to participate in their own governance, there'd be some kind of break for folks so that we can all participate in some really important budgeting of billions of city taxpayer dollars.

Anyhow, the city council is going to hash out the budget for the following year tomorrow. One of the key items in question is the salaries for hundreds of city workers who currently make less than $15 per hour. As George Howland Jr. at Real Change points out, Mayor Ed Murray issued an executive order upon taking office to raise wages for those employees. That meant "the City’s Director of Budget and Director of Personnel will start working right away to raise the minimum wage of all City of Seattle Employees to $15 an hour," the mayor's website declared. The mayor said he wanted to "move quickly," the order even mentioned "possible retroactivity to the start of 2014," and he got a lot of positive press for the move, which seemed to signal his commitment to raising wages swiftly.

But Murray's budget package submitted to the city council didn't contain any funds to increase their wages. So what gives? Council Members Kshama Sawant, Mike O'Brien, and Jean Godden offered their own budget modification to do just that, provisioning just over $1 million of the city's general sub-funds in order to "increase the minimum wage for all city job titles to $15 an hour in 2015."

Godden has since withdrawn her name from the proposal, but her early support was vital in getting it the three votes necessary to get it through early budget negotiations. Her staffers told me Godden is satisfied with raising those workers' wages at the same rate as everyone else's, according to the three-year schedule for large employers agreed to in May by the mayor's minimum wage committee.

Tomorrow, the Sawant/O'Brien proposal to raise wages for city employees next year is expected to be offered as part of a "consent package" for the council's version of the budget. But the mayor's office has been lobbying against it, according to sources at city hall. When I pressed mayoral spokesman Jason Kelly, he would only say that that the mayor has been "sharing his perspective" with the council members that "a deal is a deal"—referring to the landmark minimum wage deal agreed to back in May. He also said Murray will sign the budget regardless of how the council handles this question.

"It’s politics from the city," Ian Gordon, business manager of Laborers Local 1239, which represents about 100 of the city’s lowest-wage workers, told Real Change. He went on:

Union leader Gordon said he hopes the city council will add funding. “The people I represent mostly make $12.97 an hour,” he said. The majority work as recreation attendants for Seattle Parks and Recreation, answering phones, checking out equipment and helping direct sports and other games.

Other workers who Gordon represents who earn less than $15 an hour include some golf-course groundskeepers and parks-maintenance aides. He said other low-wage city workers that he does not represent include dining-room attendants at Seattle Center and cashiers.

“This is really a hardship,” said Gordon. “They can’t live in this city.”

If the Sawant/O'Brien proposal is going to be stripped out of the council's budget, one of the council members is going to have to propose to remove it and then get a majority vote to knock it out. "Someone is going to have to make a move to pull that out, which would be pretty bold," said a council staffer who asked for anonymity because budget negotiations are ongoing.

With the earnings of hundreds of city employees hanging in the balance, keep an eye out tomorrow morning. The budget hearings start bright and early at 8:30 a.m and will be streamed live on Seattle Channel's website.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Gayest House in Seattle Is for Sale

Posted by on Tue, Nov 11, 2014 at 11:15 AM

It's the house so gay The Stranger made a news reporter write about it. From Pat Kearney's 2002 profile:

Located in the heart of Capitol Hill, Michelle and Susan's house is a one-and-a-half story Victorian built in 1903. The color pink dominates. The siding is pink, the deck is pink, the garage is pink, and most of the trim is pink. In addition, every square foot of ornamentation has been detailed in an intricate pattern of pink, dark pink, teal, and yellow. Under each window are two to three pink triangles, symbols of gay pride. During June, rainbow-colored flags fly at both ends of the house, though a particularly windy day can send the two flags literally flying. A white picket fence surrounds the house, and up on the roof a giant wrought iron swan stands guard.

Now, the gayest house in Seattle is for sale, which not only means that you can buy it and live there forever (if you have $750,000 and hurry), but that any old person can finally see the inside for him or herself. See the brocade-heavy photo tour at Redfin.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

What a Year Stalking Our Local Leaders Will Teach You

Posted by on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 11:00 AM

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Farewell, Seattle City Hall. I've been covering you for The Stranger for more than a year now, and I've learned many things in your elevators and hallways. But a new job at a nonprofit is calling, so goodbye Sally Clark jokes, goodbye Stranger office weed table, goodbye walking half an hour to committee meetings in the rain. And hello to a life in which I seem to have come into possession of something arcane and unexpected: a little bit of wisdom about the inner-workings on our city government, a useful thing to have at a time when every last elected on the second floor of City Hall—that's right, the entire Seattle City Council—is about to have to stand for election next year because of our voter-approved move to district elections.

So gather around, lucky people who walk through life blissfully ignorant of Sally Clark's wit. (And "wit.") I used to be one of you. Now that I'm not, here's what I know.

THE BASICS

When someone wants to run for office, one of the first questions they run into is whether they can raise enough money to win a campaign...

KEEP READING >>

A Vote to Give Tent Cities 10 More Years

Posted by on Mon, Nov 10, 2014 at 6:00 AM

One of Seattles tent cities.
  • Ansel Herz
  • One of Seattle's tent cities.

It's been nearly 10 years since King County rolled out its Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness. Today, the King County Council is set to "consider renewing legislation that allows tent encampments for another 10 years in the county’s unincorporated areas," according to the Seattle Times.

A lot has happened since the plan to end homelessness launched in 2005, but the fact of today's vote pretty much sums up how successful the plan's been. As county council member Rod Dembowski told the Times, "The problem has not been solved, obviously.” The low today is going to be in the high 30s.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Best of Slog: Let's Recall How Terrible the Midterm Elections Were, Shall We?

Posted by on Sun, Nov 9, 2014 at 9:02 AM

The Elections Happened: I told you why you need to stop listening to Occupy Wall Street's Facebook page and vote. Slog readers predicted how the elections were going to go; they were wrong. Slog votes early. We went to (almost) all the parties and reported on everything we saw. It was a bad night nationally, but not so bad locally. On the whole, though, it was a pretty bad night. But at least President Obama handled it well.

Housing Affordability Committee Goes Public: How nice of them to invite us.

Molly Death at Freaknight? Dave Segal has the whole sad story.

So Long, Skulls: The Burke Museum is handing over artifacts (and human bones) to Peru.

Are the Seahawks Good or Bad? Maybe they're both at the same time?

Hooray, Cinerama! It's re-opening for business on the 20th.

Smarten the Fuck Up, Seattle: Artist Rodrigo Valenzuela won pretty much only one award when he was in Seattle—a Stranger Genius Award. Now that he's moved away, though, everyone's giving him money.

Headline of the Week: "I Interviewed the Guy Who Jumped onto a Dead Whale Being Eaten by Sharks. He’s Advertising Deodorant Now. I Have Suggestions."

This Is a Great Idea: A Seattle author introduces a neat concept for a literary magazine in the James Franco Review.

The Hat Makes the Man: This is the funniest comment section ever.

Good Button-Pushing: Our city etiquette writer returns with a discussion about the proper use of crosswalk buttons.

Come On, Ladies: We know you're smarter than you let on in these stupid ads.

Hygiene Counts: An interview with comedian Brett Hamil.

The City in a Building: Charles Mudede reimagines the Columbia Tower as a world unto itself.

The Worst Tattoo Contest Returns! Winner gets the tattoo removed.

Someone Found a Bucket of Sperm in Germany: It's not what you think.

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Thursday, November 6, 2014

Alison Holcomb Will Take on Mass Incarceration (Instead of Challenging Kshama Sawant)

Posted by on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 5:20 PM

ALISON HOLCOMB, left, will not be challenging Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, right, next year.
  • ALISON HOLCOMB, left, will not be challenging Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant, right, next year.

Back in July, it appeared that Alison Holcomb, the tough ACLU lawyer who led the fight to decriminalize marijunana in Washington State, had found her next campaign: a run for Seattle City Council against incumbent Kshama Sawant in Seattle's new 3rd District.

The idea of a progressive-on-progressive fight was polarizing—at least among the people in this city who follow council races 17 months ahead of the next council elections. And things immediately got heated. Holcomb made some statements about Sawant's rhetoric being "all about 'you are a capitalist pig,' no matter what the size of your business"; Sawant responding by saying that if Holcomb "wants to work on a progressive agenda, then I invite her to work with those of us who are already working on it."

Well, Holcomb's certainly going to be working on something progressive next year, but in a different realm than the Seattle City Council and its politics. As The New York Times just reported, Holcomb has taken a job running the ACLU's nationwide campaign to end mass incarceration—a job funded by a $50 million grant from George Soros's Open Society Foundation.

In an e-mail sent just now to supporters of her council candidacy, Holcomb expressed gratitude to them "for giving me the courage and confidence to believe that I could win a city council race and serve the people of the City of Seattle well," but described an opportunity that she couldn't pass up.

"A few weeks ago," Holcomb said, "I was called to a meeting with Anthony Romero, the executive director of the national ACLU. He informed me that the organization would be receiving an unprecedented $50 million grant... And he told me he wanted me to lead the campaign. As I think you know, all of my work on ending marijuana prohibition, and my work on broader drug policy reform efforts—like the passage of our state's 911 Good Samaritan drug overdose prevention law and Seattle and King County's Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion project—has been aimed at ending the U.S. War on Drugs. And ending the U.S. War on Drugs is a first step toward ending our disgraceful status as the number one jailer in the world, with one in every 100 adults behind bars, disproportionately Americans of color. I find it intolerable that our nation represents just 5 percent of the world's population but houses 25 percent of its inmates. Something is very, very wrong in the land of the free and the brave."

She continued: "Never in a million years would I have thought this opportunity would arise, and that I would be personally invited to seize it. I hope you understand that I simply cannot resist this challenge."

Guest Editorial: The Pay's the Thing

Posted by and on Thu, Nov 6, 2014 at 6:00 AM

WE ARE COMMITTED to taking action to reduce the gender pay gap here at the City of Seattle.
  • Hannah K. Lee
  • "Throughout our region, women on average earn 73 cents for every dollar men earn. That differential, the widest gap in the nation, is appalling."

As Seattle's mayor, and as the Seattle City Council member chairing the Gender Pay Equity Committee, we are committed to taking action to reduce the gender pay gap among city employees. We’ve made a serious commitment to ensuring equal opportunity for men and women with the city’s first ever Gender Equity Initiative. But, that said, it’s a complex problem with many causes, and there are no quick-fix solutions.

First, we must acknowledge that the gender pay gap among city employees still exists, with women earning about 90 cents to every dollar that a man earns. The gap is even larger for women of color. While the City of Seattle’s pay gap is smaller than that of the region as a whole, we will not be satisfied until we have full equity.

The central cause of the problem, however, does not appear to be within groups of employees doing the same work. Our city strives to compensate similarly situated employees—those in the same job class with similar experience and qualifications—equally regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other protected basis.

We are living with the remains of institutional biases that lead to unfair and often unintentional preconceptions about who is “capable” of doing certain types of work. As a result, more men than women may be hired or promoted into higher paying roles.

Continue reading »

Monday, November 3, 2014

The Saddest Video Ever Made About Sewer Clogs

Posted by on Mon, Nov 3, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Seattle Public Utilities, armed with background music melancholy enough to make you confess to flushing things you've never actually flushed, is on a campaign against clogs. Specifically, sewer clogs caused by consumer products that might be marketed as "flushable" but are actually responsible for coating these cute little children playing in Lake Washington in RAW SEWAGE. (While costing you, the taxpayers, lots of money.)

Don't believe it? Watch the video.

And what, exactly, is coagulating in the city's sewer pipes so that piss and shit from hundreds of thousands of humans overflows into Lake Washington and other bodies of water? SPU is calling out "paper towels, facial tissue, cotton swabs, personal and baby wipes, hair, dental floss, feminine hygiene products, condoms [and] cat litter."

Having watched the video, and faced the music, which of these things are you ready to confess to flushing?

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Best of Slog: Mars Hill Church Disappears, the FBI Impersonated a Newspaper, and Other Scary Stories

Posted by on Sun, Nov 2, 2014 at 8:58 AM

Actually, It's About Ethics in Faux-Journalism: The Seattle Times is furious that the FBI published a fake Times story to catch a suspect. The AP isn't happy, either. The FBI says it's no different than posing as a dentist.

Mayor Ed Murray Is a Screaming Angry Baby-Man: Ed Murray, who maligned his last opponent as temperamental and difficult to work with, screamed at Anna Minard over the phone for a long time this week.

Gun Lobby Tries to Fool Seattle Voters: These signs are painfully stupid. Don't fall for them. Use The Stranger's election endorsements to vote correctly on guns!

Canadian Radio Host Sex Scandal: (Who'd have ever thought those four words would go together?) Dan Savage discussed the furor surrounding Jian Ghomeshi. Dan also ripped into a Christian blogger for completely missing the point of the story. Then, Dan interviewed a woman who dated Ghomeshi.

Mars Hill Lasted Roughly Two Weeks Without Mark Driscoll: And now Mars Hill Church is no more.

What Should You Do Tonight? You should use The Stranger's fancy new online calendar to figure that out.

SPD Done You Wrong? File a complaint at this location.

Seahawks Squeak By Yet Again: But can they survive all the hot takes?

I Want to Live in the One with the Best Libraries: Charles Mudede says Seattle is three cities.

America v. Ebola: Chris Christie tried to fight a nurse, and every politician (except for one) became very afraid of Ebola. (Speaking of Chris Christie, his schtick is getting really tired.)

Halloween Happened: We prepared for Halloween. We listened to a spooky cover of "Tainted Love." We observed the horror of free bacon. Drew Christie told us a scary story. Kelly O asked 20 people at a Halloween party what they're most scared of.

The Week in Interviews: We asked people for their favorite karaoke song. We talked with (not that) Will Smith. I asked Raymond Carver's ghost if he had any advice for young writers.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Seattle Pacific University on Lockdown After Gun Threat

Posted by on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 2:10 PM


KIRO TV has a few more details on the threat. More as we know more.

2:18 pm: The SPD now says it has found the person who made the threat:


2:38 pm: Lockdown over:


Mayor Ed Murray Shouts at Me About Gender Pay Equity, Calling My Reporting "Wrong" and "Unfair"

Posted by on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 11:10 AM

MURRAY GETS MAD In fact its what hes known for, in media and political circles.
  • Kelly O
  • MAYOR MURRAY GETS SHOUTY Which is a thing he's known for.
Uhhhh... So I got a weird call from the mayor yesterday afternoon.

It was about a post I wrote on Tuesday on the city budget Mayor Ed Murray has drafted. I pointed out that although Murray's talked a lot about gender pay equity—and although he slammed his predecessor on the campaign trail over the issue—he hasn't actually allocated any new money to address the city's pay gap. (As you may recall: City employees are two-thirds male, and men make an average of 10 percent more than women, according to a city study that came out last summer.) Every last dime set aside for pay equity work in Murray's budget actually comes from a $1.4 million allocation that former mayor Mike McGinn put in his last budget.

Yesterday, Murray called me up to tell me that my post was "absolutely wrong on every point." He was yelling and rambling a lot, but I think his arguments boil down to this: He says he's still waiting on some studies, he might add more money later, and some unspecified money is already set aside in reserves to maybe deal with this issue. Also, he knows all about this because of his "generation," he has a whole list of female employees who can vouch for his commitment to equity, and he's better than the last guy. Oh, and also, he dropped an f-bomb. But more on all that later.

First, Murray started off by correcting me on how, exactly, he'd attacked McGinn on the campaign trail. I'd said he criticized McGinn for the pay gap itself, but Murray countered that "when I attacked McGinn... it was over the fact that he had over 70 percent of his cabinet members who were male." It's true, Murray did level that critique against McGinn. But it's not like he didn't also bring up that pay gap at city hall—here's an example of Murray doing that, and here's another, both of which I cited in my post. In fact, the Seattle Times spanked Murray in an editorial at the time for unnecessarily politicizing the issue, saying that Murray had "accused McGinn of failure and demanded a task force to study the issue—which McGinn already had done" and that Murray and fellow candidates should knock it off, since they all had the same position. Sorry dude, but I do not concede the point.

Murray also told me he's "corrected the cabinet," that "52 percent of [his] executive team is women," and that "the two highest-paid people in the office are women," referring to his two deputy mayors. (A note: His policy director, Robert Feldstein, who's listed as a mayoral office staffer, actually makes the same salary as those two women.) He went on: "I am leading on equity and race. This office is almost half people of color. I've hired the first woman police chief, and I had a socialist woman on council trying to prevent her salary from being what it is." (Relevance? Not totally sure here.)

But that's not even what my post was about.

Continue reading »

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jaime Lerner and His City of Children

Posted by on Thu, Oct 30, 2014 at 11:16 AM

A city that is not safe for children is not a city.
  • CM
  • A city that is not safe for children is not a city.

A week ago, the Brazilian architect, urbanist, and former mayor of Curitiba Jaime Lerner spoke at Town Hall. He had many things to say about what makes a city a city—meaning, a place that meets the most basic needs of human beings. Lerner pointed out that, while mayor of Curitiba (in the '70s), his office initiated a program which taught children (not adults) how to separate garbage for recycling. "Once children could do this," he said, "then they could teach their parents." The result of this useful form of social engineering is that Curitiba now has the highest recycling rate (70 percent) "in the world."

Lerner also pointed out that a city had to be safe for children, a place they could use without fear or constant exposure to danger. Elements of this position were adopted in the '90s by another mayor, Enrique Peñalosa, of another South American city, Bogotá. For Peñalosa, a bike path was not the real thing unless it could be used by children. If only adults could use it (risk it, feel safe in it), it was more a road than a bike path.

The point that Lerner wanted Seattle to grasp is that the best way to measure a city's success was the extent to which it involved and protected children. This kind of thinking flew against the values of our society (and city), values that privilege car mobility and storage over the safety and freedom of children. At a social level, this value system is made apparent by the fact that "child care workers are typically paid less than parking lot attendants." So, the hero of the city is the stranger (this is my view of things), and the true subject of the city is the child (Lerner's view).

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How Mayor Ed Murray Is Stumbling on Gender Pay Equity

Posted by on Tue, Oct 28, 2014 at 4:15 PM

MAYOR ED MURRAY Has a less than impressive commitment to gender pay equity at city hall.
  • Kelly O
  • MAYOR ED MURRAY has a less than impressive commitment to gender pay equity at city hall.
"The Mayor’s Proposed Budget does not include new funding for the City’s work on gender equity; the work will continue to be funded by the prior $1.4 million appropriation in 2014."

That's a line from the Seattle City Council's staff memo about Mayor Ed Murray's proposed 2015-2016 budget, which the council is reviewing these days. It just keeps sticking out to me, since Murray liked to trash talk rival Mike McGinn on women's issues during the 2013 mayoral campaign.

Remember last summer, when the city's report on a 10 percent gender pay gap at city hall came out, and all of a sudden the mayor's race was awash in promises to fix the problem? Murray loved to dig at McGinn for somehow being responsible for that pay gap (example one, example two), even though it was clearly the result of decades of structural sexism. (They also battled over other issues related to women's health and equality, like domestic-violence funding.)

And sure, Murray's next budget does have some money set aside for city work on pay equity—but it's all just leftover money from the $1.4 million appropriated in McGinn's last budget as mayor. McGinn did that before his advisory task force had even started their meetings, because it was clear that whatever the outcome of new studies and an in-depth review of the pay gap, the solutions would cost money.*

I'm not the only one calling Murray out. At one of last week's budget meetings, Council Member Jean Godden, who's championed pay equity as her big priority, said she was "a bit disturbed about the fact that we don't seem to have any additional funding" other than what was set aside more than a year ago. Yes, this money will continue to pay three employees who work on pay equity and a handful of consultants. That's rad. But, she noted, there's nothing to address the issue of parental leave for city employees, which is Godden's newest big agenda item in the push for workplace equity. The council central staffer discussing this portion of the budget, Patricia Lee, said she thought it was because the consultant's studies weren't done yet. But two studies, one on "gender and race pay equity" and one on paid parental leave at the city, are due to be completed by the end of this year. What happens to those policy recommendations, which will undoubtedly have costs associated with them?

Continue reading »

Monday, October 27, 2014

Spotted in Ballard

Posted by on Mon, Oct 27, 2014 at 3:01 PM

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This bullshit astroturf campaign was brought to you by the NRA*, which works for gun manufacturers, the millionaires who run them, and the billionaires who own them.

Vote YES on 594:

Continue reading »

Sunday, October 26, 2014

The Best of Slog: This Was a Week of Protests, Vandalization, and Genius

Posted by on Sun, Oct 26, 2014 at 8:51 AM

"Black Lives Matter!" Garfield High School's Black Student Union marched on a police station. Garfield students gave us another reason to love them this week, too.

Talking Quietly About Housing: Mayor Murray's housing affordability committee will meet on Election Day... in private. Which is sketchy! But in good housing news, at least Mayor Murray stopped the eviction of the Ravenna Tent City.

Judge Throws Out SPD Suit: The suit was against use-of-force rules. Yes, SPD members sued the city because they said new rules for use of force "violated their constitutional rights." Is beating someone up free speech now?

NOOOOOO: Bethany Jean Clement is moving to the Seattle Times. She will be dearly missed.

How Can We Miss You if You Won't Go Away? Less than a week after Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill in disgrace, he's staging a comeback. In other Mars Hill news, Brendan Kiley is just asking questions.

The Media Doesn't Have to Show Everything: A petition against releasing the SPU shooting video has gathered a lot of signatures.

Alleged Groper Charged with Assault: Hooray, internet! Hooray, Julia Marquand!

How Dare They Try to Make Westlake Safe for Cyclists? The city unveiled the Westlake cycle track design plan. Predictably, a few loud people were upset about this.

Who Was Charlotte Turner? Jen Graves does some sleuthing.

"I'm Going to Miss My Viaduct" What do you think of the Bertha rescue hole?

Terrible Person Is Terrible: Jesus fucking Christ, lady.

The War on Halloween: I've had it with the Christian war against the only purely fun secular holiday.

Those Are People Who Didn't Die: Nipper makes a list of all the rock and roll architects who are still alive.

Sure, the Seahawks Lost: But you should probably stay on the Seahawks bandwagon.

Dry Your Eyes: Emily Nokes is old now, and she can't stop feeling all the feels.

The Genius Awards Happened: Here's what happened. Here's what you weren't wearing at the Awards. Here are the best parts of the Awards.

They Remade Pinocchio?: This didn't make it on Slog for some reason: The Avengers: Age of Ultron trailer was leaked this week and in response, Marvel/Disney released the trailer early.

What do you think?

Friday, October 24, 2014

Do You Need Some FREE Medical, Dental, or Vision Care? Head to Key Arena This Weekend!

Posted by on Fri, Oct 24, 2014 at 11:19 AM

FREE through Sunday at Key Arena, thanks to Seattle/King County Remote Area Medical.
  • bikeriderlondon/Shutterstock
  • FREE through Sunday at Key Arena, thanks to Seattle/King County Remote Area Medical.

As The Seattle Times reports, "500 volunteer doctors, dentists, optometrists, nurses and other health professionals" are volunteering their time at Key Arena over four days (that's yesterday through Sunday) to give healthcare to anyone who needs it. This isn't universal healthcare—it's first come, first served, and it's temporary—but it's as close as we're gonna get for now.

If you need anything from a mammogram to a root canal, head on down! You don't need an ID and you don't need proof of citizenship, but you might need to wake up early (or stay up late). Admission numbers, the website says, are distributed at 3:30 a.m. each day.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Man Charged With Assault in Connection With Alleged Westlake Groping

Posted by on Thu, Oct 23, 2014 at 1:26 PM

Julia Marquand executed a now-infamous hollaback, using social media to shame the man she said groped her, get other women to tell their stories, and get the Seattle Police Department to respond better than they did at first. Hats off to you, Ms. Marquand. Now a man has been charged in connection with her case.
  • Image Courtesy of Julia Marquand
  • Julia Marquand executed a now-infamous hollaback, using social media to (1) shame the man she said groped her, (2) get other women to tell their stories, and (3) get the Seattle Police Department to respond better than they did at first. Hats off to you, Ms. Marquand. Now a man has been charged in connection with her case.
The man accused of groping a Seattle woman near Westlake Mall last week has now been charged by the Seattle City Attorney with one count of Assault with Sexual Motivation, a gross misdemeanor, according to the City Attorney's Office. The man will be arraigned tomorrow morning. He has a previous conviction for a felony Assault with Sexual Motivation from 2011.

As you may recall, ten days ago, a woman named Julia Marquand tweeted out a photo of a man she said had just groped her, adding in her tweet that she'd tried to give the photo to the police officer she reported the crime to, but "the cops don't want it." First reported (as far as I saw) over on Seattlish, the tweet and the story soon went viral. Seattle police spokesperson Sean Whitcomb told Seattlish he didn't know why the officer didn't want the photo, and the department followed up with Marquand, announcing a few days later that they'd arrested a "person of interest" in the case.

From the SPD on October 15:

Continue reading »

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The City Council Is So Not into Mayor Murray's Plan to Balance the Budget via "Underspending"

Posted by on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 5:37 PM

A note in a strongly worded memo delivered to city council by their central staff director, Kirstan Arestad, slamming a component of Mayor Ed Murrays budget.
  • A note in a strongly worded memo delivered to city council by their central staff director, Kirstan Arestad, slamming a component of Mayor Ed Murray's budget.
At a morning budget meeting in the Seattle City Council Chambers, council members and their central staff started the first major pushback to the mayor's budget I've seen so far this year. The drama begins!

At issue: a mayoral plan to ask city departments to spend 1.5 percent less per year than their budgets actually allow, therefore balancing the budget without having to cut any services up front.

This idea is not sitting pretty with the council.

The underspend plan "raises grave concerns among central staff," said council central staff director Kirstan Arestad today. Under this plan, she noted, "it's possible that some of the council's [budget] priorities or adds could be adjusted—or eliminated—after the budget is adopted." Because instead of the executive and the legislative body agreeing up front on what to do with the city's money, Mayor Ed Murray is directing departments to cut back where they see fit throughout the year—removing a layer of legislative scrutiny and transparency when it comes to cutting and spending. (He's the departments' boss, after all, so he's wresting control away from council and into his own hands.)

Let's back it up, because while this issue has been under the radar in a big way, it's really not too wonky to grapple with:

Continue reading »

Hey, Who's This Guy? Bakery Owner Terry Hofman Considers a Run for Seattle City Council

Posted by on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 1:23 PM

This is Terry Hofman, who maybe wants to run for an at-large city council seat in 2015.
  • Left: Image courtesy of Terry Hofman/Right: Image courtesy of City of Seattle
  • This is Terry Hofman, who maybe wants to run for an at-large city council seat in 2015.
Poking around the city's records of who's filed to run for city council next year, I found a new name the other day: Terry Hofman. Huh? What? How had someone filed without any fanfare and without being someone anyone had ever heard of?

A little research uncovered two interesting things: One, Hofman actually filed with the state's Public Disclosure Commission (as opposed to the city's Ethics and Elections Commission) back in May of this year, and had only shown up on the city pages very recently. And two, Hofman is the co-owner of Madison Park Bakery, which he's owned and run with his wife for about two decades.

So I called him up. "I'm still kind of kicking it around," he said of a potential run for council, sounding surprised that someone had found him. "I'm a small business owner and I thought I'd give myself a go for next year." He says he wants to run at large, not in a district, but he's not sure which at-large seat he'd aim for. (Two powerful sitting council members have filed to run in those two seats; he'd have to take on either former council president Sally Clark or current council president Tim Burgess to run citywide.)

What are his platforms and issues? He reiterated that he's coming from a small-business perspective. "The city is, I hate to say unfriendly, but there's not a lot going for small, small businesses in the city, mom and pop size like ours... For me, there's a lot of regulations slapped on people and small businesses, taxes and things, that make it really tough for people to come to the city and start up."

He sounds less than enthusiastic about the new $15 minimum wage, but says, "We’ll certainly make it work." But he thinks the current council lacks the perspective of a business owner. He says "it's harder and harder to live here," due to "taxes, transportation, and crime," and he wants the city to be more family-friendly and small-business-friendly. He'd advocate for more police walking beats, he says.

He also stresses that he's still not sure if he'll run, and that even if he did and won, he wouldn't necessarily want to stay in office long. The at-large members who are elected next year will only get to serve two-year terms due to the way the transition to district elections plays out. "I'm 61," he says. "I'd be interested to see how it goes for two years. I'm not a career politician."

He plans to make his decision on whether to really make a serious run after this year's election, by the end of 2014.

We Went Down to the Bertha Rescue Hole and Asked Eight People What They Make of the Tunnel Delays

Posted by on Wed, Oct 22, 2014 at 12:09 PM

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  • Ana Sofia Knauf

Anonymous construction worker: "I was just on the Great Wheel with my girl over the weekend. I never get over the views of this city...When the tunnel's up, it's going to be beautiful. I love this project and I feel lucky to be here... I've worked in construction for the last 10 years. There's problems on every single project, especially on bigger projects. But that's construction: you're finding solutions."

DSC_7207.JPG
  • Ana Sofia Knauf

Patrick: "It's one of those things that needed a fix, but I don't know if that's the fix they needed. If they could get it finished, it would be kind of cool to have done. I've been on that thing [the Viaduct]... It's scary for me."

DSC_7209.JPG
  • Ana Sofia Knauf

Joy: "The ultimate goal is a good one. I'd love for the Viaduct to be gone. I'd love to have that beautiful waterfront again. They obviously had a plan and it's not going to plan."

Continue reading »

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Mayor Murray Puts the Brakes on Eviction of Ravenna Tent City

Posted by on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 6:38 PM

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  • Ansel Herz
  • One of Seattle's tent cities.

Expecting an eviction from their makeshift location within the next 24 hours, members and supporters of Ravenna's Tent City 3 today were gearing up for a protest camp-out at Westlake Park and a march on City Hall tomorrow. But the camp has received a last-minute reprieve from Mayor Ed Murray, who has been criticized for presiding over an increasing rate of evictions of homeless people sleeping in public places and for opposing the full legalization of encampments.

"At this time, the City is willing to suspend the notice to vacate on October 22nd," writes Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim in a letter to the tent city organizers obtained by The Stranger. "But we need assurances from you that efforts to find a safe, sponsored, more permanent site to relocate to are being undertaken."

"Notice to Vacate" signs had been posted in the area last Friday, leaving camp residents scrambling to organize a response.

Two weekends ago, the Ravenna homeless camp moved to a grassy area off of Interstate 5 on 8th Ave. NE and NE 64th St, after its arrangement with Haller Lake United Methodist Church expired. One camp organizer told me they asked thirty churches to host the encampment temporarily until a sanctioned move to Seattle Pacific University scheduled for mid-January, but they couldn't find any.

The camp is home to about sixty people, according to homeless advocate Scott Morrow.

Deputy Mayor Kim's letter calls for a meeting this week between SHARE/WHEEL, the tent city organizers, the City, Haller Lake United Methodist Church, United We Stand, and SPU in order to draw up a relocation plan for November and December—one that "avoid[s] the use of public lands or city-controlled property."

I've reached out to SHARE/WHEEL but haven't heard back just yet. The mayor's office is also halting, for now, an eviction scheduled for tomorrow of a homeless camp on The Ave in the U-District that's attracted a lot of attention. That camp has been sheltering a family with a small child.

Seattle City Council Approves Plan for New Affordable Housing Funding

Posted by on Tue, Oct 21, 2014 at 2:47 PM

Should all this new construction be helping to fund new affordable housing in Seattle?
  • C_Eng-Wong Photography/Shutterstock
  • Should all this new construction be helping to fund new affordable housing in Seattle?
Yesterday, the Seattle City Council got in a big ol' fight over a nonbinding resolution stating their intention to hopefully do a thing next year. YUP! That's our city council!

The thing they hope to do next year: enact "linkage fees," which would be a charge developers pay per square foot of new construction, which then goes into a city fund to build affordable housing. They voted down most of the amendments that would change it, and then passed the resolution 7-2. (We wrote a lot about linkage fees over here if you want more.) The meeting was actually pretty funny, because everyone on council and in the audience played their most stereotypical roles to a T, making it a pinnacle of city-council-watching for me and the maybe six other people who give a shit.

Here's what went down.

Mike OBrien, rocking multiple cowlicks throughout the proceedings.
  • O'Brien, rocking some major cowlicks throughout the proceedings. (Click to enlarge! Cute!)
Mike O'Brien, the current chair of the land-use committee who's been working on affordable-housing programs similar to this one since at least early last year, was cheerful and dogged and hilariously cowlicked while pushing for a very moderate solution to a very huge problem—a solution he knew some of his colleagues were rabid to completely undermine and dismantle.

O'Brien's resolution, which, again, was merely a statement of the council's intention to hopefully move forward on actual legislation by the middle of next year, was based on months of research and studies by consultants and input from public meetings, but was treated by critics at this final meeting as if it had only just been discovered on the floor that morning. "There was no engagement around the development of this resolution," said Jon Scholes of the Downtown Seattle Association during public comment. "A lot of our members first heard about it when they read about it in the Seattle Times." (What!? Did they miss this?) Joe Ferguson, from real-estate firm Lake Union Partners, urged the council to "slow everything down, let us sit down and talk everything through with you," adding that he was "very much insulted by the urgency that this is being swept through." (Low-income housing advocates, of course, were glowing in their praise of the bill and the urgency with which this is needed.)

And, to repeat, all the council members put on their best show.

Continue reading »

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Best of Slog: We Celebrated Indigenous Peoples Day and Mark Driscoll's Resignation

Posted by on Sun, Oct 19, 2014 at 8:51 AM

See You Later, Asshole: Mark Driscoll resigned from Mars Hill Church. Dan Savage posted a video for Mars Hill-goers who are feeling bad about this whole situation. Most of you think Driscoll will get back in the pastor game somewhere else. Brendan Kiley talked to former Mars Hill insiders about what they think.

A Majority of the City Council Goes to a Swanky Resort: They were partying with the Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Stop Panicking: If Ebola comes to Seattle, public health employees will let us know.

Seattle Observed Its First Indigenous Peoples Day: We celebrated. We investigated the possibility of more indigenous artwork for the waterfront. We told upset Italian-American folks to calm down about it, already.

Rising Rents Affect Everyone: Even college students. But do major employers have a voice in all this?

Did Mayor Murray's Office Discriminate Based on Gender and/or Race?: Rosalind Brazel, who is black, worked as press secretary for Mayor Murray. And check this out:

Brazel made $95,000.

One of her successors in the press secretary position, Megan Coppersmith, was making $98,000 in the same role, according to the mayor's office. Another, Jason Kelly, is making $100,000 in that role now. Both Coppersmith and Kelly are white.

Absolut Local National: A vodka giant is pretending to be a tiny Ballard-based micro distillery.

Bike Share Started This Week: Ansel Herz tells you everything you ever needed to know about our new communal bike seats but were afraid to ask.

Living Computers! Jen Graves visits a museum for computing.

The Politics of Ebola: Republicans are to blame for the inept American response to Ebola. Mark Zuckerberg donated a lot of money to the fight against Ebola, even though his company dodges taxes left and right. Rand Paul mocked important contraception research. Ron Paul thinks the free market will save us from Ebola.

Video Stores, Scared People, and a Lena Dunham Fan: This week, The Stranger interviewed staff at Scarecrow Video, people who just walked through the Georgetown Morgue Haunted House, and Mindie Lind, a local musician who was chosen to open for Lena Dunham.

The Seahawks Lost: And other observations by Spike Friedman.

"Ginger pubes represent." It's almost time to get your HUMP! on.

Nipper Vs. Motörhead: Sorry, but Motörhead's cover of "Louie Louie" is a dud.

Mystery Penis? Mystery penis!

Friday, October 17, 2014

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