At venues on Capitol Hill and downtown, there's the 18th annual Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
At venues all over town, there's the amazing-looking Social Justice Film Festival, and at SIFF Cinema, there's the also-amazing-looking Seattle Polish Film Festival. (Read about both fests in this week's Festive.)
Finally at Scarecrow Video, the weekend brings screenings of two trashy alleged treasures: 1992's The Cat (8 pm Friday) and 1991's Blood Massacre (8 pm Saturday). The screenings are free, and there will be beer and snacks for sale.
ALL OF THIS FILM IS NOT GOING TO WATCH ITSELF. Get out there. (But if you insist on staying home, the universally despised Salinger documentary that was stinking up cinemas just two weeks ago is now available on Netflix Streaming.)
The 2013 Seattle Lesbian and Gay Film Festival packs an extravagant array of films into ten days of queer filmy goodness, starting with tonight's opening-night feature I Am Divine. As I wrote in my SLGFF preview:
One of the many revelatory elements of I Am Divine—the new documentary about the legendary drag-queen performance artist and the opening-night film of SLGFF 2013—is the careful parsing of credit in Divine's creation. Makeup artist Van Smith is the one who shaved back Divine's hairline, creating a vast expanse for explosively dramatic eyebrow situations. Filmmaker John Waters is the one who urged his friend Glenn Milstead to channel his anger—over daily beatings in high school, over being a fat queer kid rotting in Baltimore—into the character of Divine. But beyond this, it was all Divine creating Divine, a fearless gender warrior who means as much to the history of punk as the history of drag, and one of America's great movie stars.
Directed by Jeffrey Schwarz, I Am Divine covers all its biopic bases well. Kicking off with the premiere of Hairspray—Divine and John Waters's 1988 mainstream breakthrough—the film tracks back to Milstead's privileged but lonely childhood in Baltimore, carries us through the birth and reign of Divine, and gathers voluminous evidence of Divine's star power to make his premature death land as it should. ("I still can't believe he's dead," says Waters, with love and light bafflement.) Beyond the basics, Schwarz shines plenty of light into less-investigated corners of the story: Divine's love life (robust!), pot habit (robust!), and career beyond the John Waters universe (from off-Broadway plays to international disco hits). Bookending the film are stories from Divine's high-drama family saga, which I won't spoil for you here, but which will muss much mascara among audiences. (Bring a tissue.)
Watch the I Am Divine trailer below, find full info on tonight's Cinerama screening here, and if you want to take your exposure to the world of John Waters and Divine to the next level (which you should), don't miss the Saturday extravaganza hosted by Ian Bell, mastermind behind the beloved Brown Derby readings, who'll here present a "ridiculously staged reading" of the screenplay to John Waters' forever-unproduced Pink Flamingos sequel Flamingos Forever.
In this week's news section I write about how Seattle's vaunted new bike share program may be reduced to a two-neighborhood novelty before it even launches unless local corporations step up to invest in it. The trouble with fighting to save something we don't yet have is that, because no west coast cities have up-and-running bike share programs yet, Seattleites haven't really been exposed to its benefits. But the benefits are great.
For example, earlier this week, the Atlantic wrote about how bike share could replace more expensive forms of transit infrastructure. The piece reads like it was written for Seattle:
A lot of cities want to expand their transit service but don't have the money to dig an entire subway system (or even to extend one that already exists). Usually these places will instead consider enhancing bus service (often through bus-rapid transit) or, perhaps, building an above-ground rail system (lately streetcars have been the rage). During a discussion about the future of urban mobility at CityLab, Chicago transportation chief Gabe Klein suggested another option: bike-share.
"There's this argument about streetcar versus BRT, and what should primary cities, secondary cities sort of look at," said Klein. "I think, first of all, you shouldn't count out bike-share as mass transit."
... The price of bike-share is also right. Klein, who used to run the transportation department in Washington, D.C., said the entire Capital Bikeshare system was put in place for $6 million. Citi Bike is privately funded. Streetcar systems, by comparison, cost tens of millions of dollars in public money to build. For all that spending, their ridership figures can end up in the same ballpark as those of bike-share; Portland's very successful streetcar system, for instance, carries 11,000 people a day.
Hello to all you twilight Sloggers, you lurkers in the night! In just a few minutes, KING5 kicks off the first of three breathtaking teevee debates featuring our two favorite mayoral candidates—Mayor Mike McGinn and state senator Ed Murray. The debate, which airs at 7 p.m., actually took place earlier today (here's what Twitter had to say about it), but we here at The Stranger were too busy shouting at Sam Bellomio with mouths full of Sally Bagshaw's undercooked brownies to participate. So we'll be watching it "live" with you, a pitcher of margaritas, and several cow's worth of cheese, and leaving our drunken knee-jerk reactions in this here post. Old tymy style! Feel free to watch along and leave your comments in the, uh, comments.
Cienna: Only three minutes to go! Eeee!!! This is more exciting than a trip to the post office! Host Dennis Bounce [Bounds, apparently] is taking his job seriously, talking about picking a mayor like it's the decision of a lifetime. Personally, I don't expect a mayor to last longer than any of my marriages.
Okay, here's the format: One minute answers, minute and a half discussion, then the candidates get to challenge each other with questions, time limits enforced by Bounce [Bounds] and his Bouncing Battle Ax [and now this joke makes even less goddamn sense].
Dominic: Every time Murray calls McGinn "divisive," drink twelve shots.
Cienna: Every time Murray mentions "gay marriage" drink a gay shot (add glitter! If you run out of glitter, improvise with essence of lavender!)
In the comments of Anna's post asking if any of you had any questions for Sam Bellomio or Sally Bagshaw during our endorsement meeting, Gurldoggie asked:
Does he have any history of actually cooperating with anyone to get something done? Does he intend to cooperate with the City Council if he becomes a member, or is he planning to keep shooting his mouth off and picking fights? Because it sounds like the same ineffective Tea party strategy to me.
I asked Bellomio this question exactly, and here, transcribed from my recording, is his answer:
So I was actually a part of Occupy Seattle, and part of the demands group, and I coordinated with twenty some-odd people and we went out and we collected what everyone's grievance was. What is the issue? Why are we here? What would make this end? We created a 38-page document and I was in charge of the whole thing. I brought it to City Hall, I got no response to all my e-mails to show they didn't engage and all they could do was make a simple decree, 'we support Occupy Seattle.' So I was able to facilitate and say 'what are your concerns.' All I want to do is bring the community together, what are your concerns? I have none of the answers. I have one answer. We have a thousand people, we have a thousand answers and one of those are going to be the right answer. So asking me to be the say-all, end-all of the discussion? I can't be!
At that point, Goldy pointed out that we vote people in to make decisions. Bellomio responded:
That's the problem with America, we vote for someone else to tell us what to do.
So I guess that's your answer, Gurldoggie?
Addressing Bellomio and Zimmerman by name, she said they've been dealing with these guys "for many months now," and while Zimmerman shouted something from the audience about "America" and "Nazis," she explained that the council is working with the city clerk to amend the public comment rules. Concerned that disruptive commenters infringe on other people's right to comfortably speak during comment periods and disrupt the council's ability to do business, she said the new rules will govern "repeated noncompliance with council rules for public comment" and set forth specific, predetermined suspension times for repeat offenders.
The exchange itself was an example of why these guys end up being a problem at meetings instead of just kooky anti-government performance artists. Clark joked during Zimmerman's outburst, "That was almost on cue; that was fantastic."
I asked her about the potential rules today—and why she then let them both sign up to speak again, even though she'd told Bellomio he was suspended from doing so. (Bellomio went on to get pissed that she'd used his name and to announce, "This is worse than Nazi Germany!" Zimmerman called the council "banditos.") She said she had realized she didn't want to police the content of anyone's testimony. "I don't like the whole practice of trying to figure out where have they crossed the line with a particular word," she said. The real issue is around conduct that disrupts meetings, and the repetition of that behavior, which is what new rules will address. "I shouldn't get to draw that line on content any more than anyone else," she admitted. "Would I prefer that he not call council members dicks? Yeah, absolutely. Call me crazy." But that's not the real problem. And when it comes to keeping the meeting in order, she has some discretion as council president to prevent disruption; amended rules, which she expects will be finished around the New Year, will spell out exactly what the consequences might be.
And I'll say this: Anyone who makes Stranger staff root wholeheartedly for the city council is pretty damn impressive. Nothing makes the council appear more sympathetic and reasonable than watching 'em patiently and effectively deal with stuff like this.
Remember last November, when pictures surfaced of a diving pair emerging from a popular Puget Sound dive spot with a squirming giant Pacific octopus in their arms—a live creature that they promptly threw in the back of their truck—and the internet howled in collective fury?
Good news! The Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife has implemented a new policy protecting giant Pacific octopuses in seven Puget Sound diving sites. The policy took effect Monday, October 6, following months of public meetings and input from a citizen advisory committee.
Octopus harvesting is now prohibited these sites, which together encompass 1,300 acres of habitat:
• Deception Pass north of Oak Harbor
• Seacrest Park Coves 1, 2 and 3 near Alki Point in West Seattle
• Alki Beach Junk Yard in West Seattle
• Three Tree Point in Burien
• Redondo Beach in Des Moines
• Les Davis Marine Park adjacent to the Les Davis Fishing Pier in Tacoma
• Days Island Wall in Tacoma
We've been in SECB meetings all week, and much of the behavior at City Hall is hunkering down to comb through the budget and start picking what they want to fight over. So here's a mini-edition of what happened at City Hall this week...
Smacking Down an IRL Troll: Y'all remember Sam Bellomio, right? Dominic wrote about him when he first planned to run for city council against Mike O'Brien. (He's now running against Sally Bagshaw.) He did not appreciate what Dominic wrote—and then he really didn't appreciate it a month later, again. If you watch city council meetings—or King County Council hearings, he and his compatriots go there, too—you've seen him yell at the council and call them crooks, tell them to shut up, and then get really pissed that they won't give him more time to speak. His entire platform seems to be that they should hold council meetings in the evenings so more people can attend, and/or that "people are dying in the streets." I've never heard a coherent thought come out of his mouth.
Council President Sally Clark has had a little fun with him, often trying not to laugh at his tirades. Yesterday, she finally banned him from testifying for two weeks after he called Tim Burgess a dick. Start at the 40-minute mark to watch him and his friend Alex Zimmerman testify, after which Clark tells him to take a break:
Zimmerman can still testify, though. Once this September, he walked up to the mic and opened his testimony by singing "Happy Birthday, Mr. President," then said very seriously: "Guys. More dangerous people in the world is an idiot with a big dick. Is exactly what we see here." (He was asked to sit down immediately.)
Rebutting his nightlife colleagues' endorsement of Ed Murray for mayor on Wednesday, Spitfire and Neumos bar owner Jerry Everard stood up for Mayor Mike McGinn's first-term nightlife agenda in an e-mail to KUOW, which was also shared with The Stranger.
I find Everard's statement worth posting because it's light on political platitudes and more focused on McGinn's progressive nightlife policies. That said, it begins with an insidery criticism of Dave Meinert, owner of the 5-Point Cafe among other things, for "attacks" on McGinn and John Roderick that I'm not familiar with, maybe because I'm chained to a meeting room. Here is Everard's letter, with Meinert's rebuttal after the jump:
Dave Meinert is my friend and fellow advocate. We have worked on many initiatives benefitting the music and nightlife communities together and we do not often disagree, but given his recent attacks on Mike McGinn and musicians such as John Roderick I feel compelled to make a few points.
Dave does not speak for the music community. It is Dave’s opinion (shared by a small percentage of my business partners) that Mayor McGinn has been an ineffective leader on music and nightlife issues. Dave’s opinion is not the opinion of the Music Community and he does not have the right to appoint himself as spokesperson.
As someone who has had to work in the trenches of the music business at the club/venue level for 20 years I need to remind everyone (and Dave in particular, as someone who has only owned nightlife businesses under this Mayor) that under McGinn’s administration, for the first time we are able to operate music venues with respect and without the constant threat and fear of being shut down by what has historically been an antagonistic and hostile city government.
Yesterday morning, I told you about Sub-Urban Experience, a website promising to give anyone willing to pay $2000 "a crash experience of the homeless life style" that could inspire "a new respect for the folks that find themselves in this predicament."
Yesterday afternoon, I met with Mike Momany, the man behind the site. Momany is an affable enough fellow in his 60s. He was wearing a loud Hawaiian shirt, and his long gray goatee and self-described "Hitler mustache" indicated that he didn't mind being noticed. We arranged to meet at Seattle Coffee Works by the Pike Place Market, a venue which Momany chose because he spends his days around the downtown core and because SCW isn't "corporate." Momany seemed surprised—but not entirely displeased—about all the attention the site had gotten in the last day or so. "I wasn't really expecting it," he said. Just before the media firestorm began, Momany said he was planning to start advertising his site by sending an e-mail to 50 Washington State megachurches, inviting them to send a member on the tour to experience what homelessness is like.
Though he claims to come from a "pretty well-off family," Momany is currently homeless, and he's spent a lot of his life without a home. He says he's floated the idea of Sub-Urban Experience with a lot of people, and the homeless people he's talked to say it's a great idea. The only people who are against it, he says, are "social services." For the doubters, he assures them that "this is not going to be the zoo." He hasn't taken anybody on the tour yet, but he says he envisions the experience as a way to present "a new way to look at homelessness," to people who "are really serious about wanting to do something about homelessness." "Part of my goal," Momany says, "is to bring the conversation about homelessness out into the open." That may be true, but it's important to note that Momany is a businessman; he says Sub-Urban Experience is definitely a "profit-making" venture. "I want to get out of homelessness," he says. Momany knew Bill Speidel, the founder of the Underground Tour, and he seems to consider him to be a role model. (Momany has previously made the news for wanting to capitalize on Washington State pot tourism.)
What about charges that the Sub-Urban Experience will waste resources? Momany says that's not the case. Rather than checking the tourists into shelters, he says they'd stay in "the cheapest hostels" in the International District area, which charge $15 a night. (Momany is staying in one of those hostels right now. He says they're full of working homeless people who get up at 6 am every day to work minimum wage jobs.) All the food would be paid for, not from a soup kitchen. He says he's talked to the businesses he'd include on the tour, and that "they'll know why we're there and they'll be playing along." The idea would be to experience homelessness without intruding or disrespecting homeless people. "The tent cities, for instance," Momany says, "we're not gonna do that" on the tour.
But of course, this is all hypothetical right now, a flash of online outrage about a website for a tour that hasn't actually happened yet. Momany says the only real inquiries he's gotten into the tour so far are from local journalists. He says he might be willing to give them a discounted rate.
The two contenders for mayor are having a debate tonight on "the issues that matter most to Capitol Hill." Tickets are free but you have to register in advance right here. Doors are at 6:30, debate starts at 7.
The Seattle South Asian Film Festival isn't the only humongous film fest kicking off this weekend.
Now in its fifth year, the Seattle Latino Film Festival has expanded to screens in three cities—Seattle, Tacoma, and Bellevue—with 30 titles from 17 countries and a spotlight on the cinema of Cuba. Highlights include the Mexican epic 5 de Mayo: La Batalla (chronicling the events leading up to the 1862 Battle of Puebla); Aquí y Allá (Antonio Méndez Esparza's Cannes-honored drama about a migrant worker's complicated return home); and Chico & Rita, the Oscar-nominated animated feature that Charles Mudede called "a visually stunning... story about what makes great music and art: sex."
For now, the trailer for SLFF 2013's opening-night feature Melaza, cryptically and tantalizingly described as the story of a photogenic young couple who try very hard to make some money and wind up in trouble. (But love survives!)
The Seattle Latino Film Fest runs Oct 4–13 in Seattle, Bellevue, and Tacoma; for full schedule, go to slff.org.
Citing a public health threat, the Seattle & King County health department has notified six hookah lounges that they must ban smoking or face lawsuits. Which is to say, because a hookah lounge without smoking isn't a hookah lounge and lacks function nor revenue, the health department is busting them. Doctor David Fleming, the health department director, explains in a statement this morning, "We are forced to take this enforcement action because they haven’t been responsive to our previous warnings."
The hooka lounges, where folks smoke flavored tobacco through a water bubbler, allegedly violate the state law against smoking in public places where people are employed. County inspectors reportedly "found patrons smoking and each of the bars operating as a public place and/or place of employment."
The places hit are: Casablanca Shisha Lounge, Da Spot Hookah Lounge, Medina Hookah Lounge, The Night Owl, Sahara Hookah Lounge, and Seattle Hookah Lounge.
The county explains in a statement: "Hookah bars have claimed that they are exempt from the indoor smoking law because they are private clubs. However, smoking is prohibited by law if a club has employees and/or the club is open to the public. The investigation found that these six bars are all open to the public, operating similarly to night clubs that charge a cover for admission."
The county also makes a pretty radical claim that, although I see it stated online, seems implausible: "During a typical 45-minute session of hookah use," the county claims, "a person may inhale as much smoke as smoking 100 cigarettes or more."
Now in its eighth year, the Seattle South Asian Film Festival has grown from a one-off screening at Elliott Bay Book Company into something huge, filling venues in two cities (SIFF Cinema Uptown and SIFF Film Center in Seattle, Mobius Hall in Bothell) with seven days of films from and about Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. Commemorating 100 years of Indian cinema, the 2013 SSAFF is loaded with more stuff than I can enumerate here—find the full schedule (with gorgeous graphics) at ssaff.tasveer.org.
Some highlights: Miss Lovely, a dark Indian drama set in the world of Bombay's C-grade "sex horror" film industry of the '80s; Chayiliam, a mythic exploration of "the various shades of red in the feminine"; and The Reluctant Fundamentalist, the latest film by the great Mira Nair, which Charles Mudede described as "a political thriller, an economic critique, and a masterpiece." (Bonus: live chat with Mira Nair after the October 6 screening!)
From this week's I, Anonymous:
Did you really think that my brother and I were so drunk that we wouldn't notice you padding our bill? Perhaps it was your greed that got the best of you? Greed is a sin, you know. I could excuse you for charging us for an extra drink, but to increase our consumption by 40 percent seems a bit absurd. My $17 glass of Lagavulin rang up as $25. Nice way to pad the bottom line. Lucky for you and your establishment, overcharging is apparently not against the law (according to the Washington State Liquor Control Board). Fair warning to all drinkers in the state of Washington and particularly at the popular Queen Anne establishment of... you don't think I'd actually name names on that small place do you?
Enjoy the commiseration and blowback in the comments.
Third-party candidates are a joke, right?
I mean, have you met a third-party candidate? They range from harmless goofballs like Goodspaceguy, who wants to colonize space, to angry, conspiracy-fueled antifluoride crusaders like James Robert Deal. And the socialists? They can be the worst—for example, there's the stereotypically dour, rhetoric-spewing Socialist Workers Party candidate like Mary Martin, who ran for mayor this year on a vision of transforming Seattle into a new Havana. Viva la revolución!
But if you are still laughing at the electoral prospects of Socialist Alternative Party city council candidate Kshama Sawant, the joke is on you. Sawant is the real deal. She kicks ass. And she could actually win in November.
An immigrant woman of color, an Occupy Seattle organizer, and an economics instructor at Seattle Central Community College, Sawant offers voters a detailed policy agenda, backed up by a coherent economic critique and a sound strategy for moving the political debate in a leftward direction. She is passionate but thoughtful. She speaks comfortably on noneconomic issues. She is likable. And most important, she's winning over voters.
Duh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh-nuh BUD-GET!!! On Monday, all of city hall wore their finest robes down to the council chamber, where Dumbledore presented them with a feast and then warned of the imminent return of Voldemort. Or, you know, McGinn presented his 2014 budget or whatever.
Let's Try That Again, with Reality and Facts: Because of the improving economy, the budget this year is the first McGinn's ever been able to propose that doesn't call for cutting services and expands them instead. His proposal spends around $66.5 million more general fund money than 2013's budget, results in the equivalent of 167 more full-time city employees, and funds everything from transit planning to homeless shelters to a water slide between The Stranger's offices and the bar across the street. (But instead of water, it uses non-Russian vodka!) Much of the council still hates him, so this is obviously going to be soooooooooo fun. Ed Murray has mocked McGinn's budget as a Christmas tree; I prefer to think of it as a big civic "Oprah's Favorite Things" show. (And we all have to pay taxes on the free cars, damn it.)
One More Thing About the Budget: If you're really into it, so much of the budget process is available to you. You can go look at the whole thing or look at it by section, you can watch council meetings live, and they encourage you to contact the city clerk (email@example.com or 206-684-8344) with any questions. Why the hell not?
Oh, Crap (Literally!), Really Just One Last Budgety Thing: From Sources Say this week:
Mayoral spokesman Aaron Pickus notes that in the mayor's proposed budget, they've set aside $250,000 to purchase and install a toilet in pissy, shitty Pioneer Square as backup in case city negotiations with a developer to install a public toilet in the area falls through. (Here's praying that [Council Member Tim] Burgess demands fresh evidence that the toilet is an effective use of taxpayer dollars.)
In Other News: Dan's still really mad at Sally Clark, in case you didn't read the paper yet.
Ed Murray Endorses Kshama Sawant: So says Goldy. Really, this is a big deal. Murray's push for an incremental move toward a $15 minimum wage got some national attention. Without any real commitment to how incremental that will be, I'm actually far more interested in Murray's plan to "Establish an Office of Labor Standards within the City to ensure compliance with wage theft, minimum wage and paid sick and safe leave violations." We've pushed for that in the paper, and as we pointed out then, Council Member Nick Licata is certainly interested, too. It would mean better enforcement of the labor laws we love to pass but not always follow up on.
Save UberX Seattle! UberX's blog post this week blew up on social media and made people start paying attention to a taxi fight that Goldy's been covering all year long. For some background, read his piece here. At the council meeting yesterday, they didn't decide much, but you can scroll back through Uber's hashtag to find multiple people live-tweeting the meeting, if you care. Basically, everything you like is illegal and/or hurts people. Just like every other political issue.
My suggestion to "ride share" fans is that you try not to be so insensitive to the plight of taxi drivers and their familes. #SAVEuberXsea— David Goldstein (@GoldyHA) September 27, 2013
So sorry, this post originally linked to old news when I meant to link to new news. Or something like that.
With 98 percent of the votes, grocery store workers in the Puget Sound area authorized a strike on Thursday.
The union members said they are upset over cuts to health care in the latest offer from their employers. The workers added a strike isn’t imminent; they hope to return to the bargaining table and reach an agreement that addresses their concerns.
The contract being negotiated covers about 30,000 employees of Fred Meyer, QFC, Albertsons, and Safeway. The stores are located in Snohomish, King, and Pierce counties.
Last month, the workers staged informational pickets in the area to step up pressure on their employers and to get their message out to customers.
This isn't a huge surprise; negotiations haven't been going well for a while. The major sticking points seem to be the same they were in early July, when workers started holding those informational pickets in front of their stores.
The city has been saying awesome things to Megan Seling lately. Me, I'm biking along the Elliott Bay Trail, crossing a narrow bridge over the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway yard, and this is what the city says to me:
It's a nice trail, though.
The mayor announced his 2014 proposed budget yesterday—I wrote about it here, you can read it for yourself here (have fun! It's 727 pages). I've never followed the budget process super-closely, I'm new here, so I'm looking for signals as to how it's gonna go.
Due to an expanding economy, 2014 is set to be the first year where the budget process is more about which new places to spend money and less about what vital things we have to cut because we can't afford them. It's a pretty fun budget, as budgets go, spending about $66.5 million more general fund money than the 2013 budget, a jump of about 7 percent. (Because this is the second year of a biennial budget, they'd already planned and endorsed a budget for this year; this general fund represents about $35 million more than they expected to have.)
But since it's an election year, and a majority of the city council has endorsed the mayor's opponent—hell, two of 'em ran against him—the bitterness runs deep, and the mood on the second floor of City Hall seems to be one of resignedly bracing oneself for a coming fight. There was a lot of laughter and sighing and "it's gonna be ugly" among staffers when I walked around yesterday.
Why's it gonna be ugly? Well, a budget fight during election season is a perfect opportunity for council to really lash out at the mayor over all the stuff they're really pissed about—namely, the way he operates, not his actual policies or values or what his budgets actually spend money on. People who tend to agree with him are basically doing that wince-and-turn-away move you do when you know someone's about to get clocked; people who hate him are gleefully polishing their boxing gloves, or whatever you do when you're about to clock someone.
Which seems really, really silly. Yeah, y'all don't get along. We get it. Yeah, y'all want the other guy in—probably gonna happen. But if people want to fight about dollars, I hope they manage to actually fight about dollars. What's funded here that shouldn't be funded? Should we save more money? (The Rainy Day Fund is already at record levels.) If these expenditures are stupid, whose services should get cut? Preschoolers? Immigrants? The homeless? The elderly? The cops? It's fine to want to change the budget—it is literally their job to change the budget. But let's work with specifics instead of rhetoric, huh?
Doesn't seem likely. Yesterday, budget chair Tim Burgess responded to the budget announcement by saying the mayor is spending a lot but "has yet to provide evidence that those increases would be an effective use of taxpayer dollars," going negative right out of the gate. But when asked, he won't call out anything in particular as insufficiently evidence-based. Eh, perhaps he will in the coming weeks. But except for entertainment value, I'm not exactly looking forward to this battle.
This afternoon Seattle police officers showed up at a fast food picket line at a Capitol Hill Subway and, according to multiple eyewitnesses, trespassed two of the picketers from the property—Caroline Durocher, an organizer and current Subway employee, and Carlos Hernandez, a Subway employee who was recently fired and whose termination is now the source of several charges filed in federal court.
As Cienna reported earlier, organizers with Good Jobs Seattle filed federal labor charges this morning against Subway for allegedly retaliating against Hernandez. They also picketed outside the restaurant on Broadway and Olive from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. today, holding signs and chanting slogans and basically trying to make the lunch rush a little uncomfortable.
But, near the end of the two-hour picket, Durocher says she went inside the restaurant to tell a customer who had crossed the picket line what the protest was all about. The customer decided to stay and have lunch, and Durocher says, "I said hi to the manager and left." Hernandez says he didn't even go inside.
When police arrived shortly thereafter, everyone was surprised. Officers singled out Durocher and Hernandez. Durocher said officers told her, "You're not allowed to go in there, it's trespassing." She says she explained to the cops that she actually works there—she works at a few different Subway locations, including the picketed one, all of which are owned by the same franchise owner. That didn't seem to matter. So, she says, "I asked them if I could file a report about my wage theft." She alleges that her employer hasn't paid her for some overtime, that she was charged for her uniform, and that money is taken out of her check when the register is under at the end of her shifts.
But officers weren't having it. According to Durocher, one officer told her, in essence, "That's not a crime. We have things to do, we're busy."
Here's what's weird: Normally, being trespassed from a property means that an individual can't step foot on that private property again for one full year.
Terry—@fakedanshusband—didn't follow you because he wanted to "join your community." He followed you because he wanted to yell at your for being a useless tool.
Make a note of it.
UPDATE: Good Jobs Seattle announced a picket of the Hernandez's former employer, the Subway located at 206 Broadway E on Capitol Hill, from running 11:00 a.m. to 1 p.m. today, which will be followed by "rolling picketlines" of other Subway's in Seattle throughout the week. So, you know, show your support and avoid eating at Subway a little harder than usual this week.
At 9:30 a.m. this morning in front of the Federal Building downtown, organizers with Good Jobs Seattle are announcing the filing of federal charges against both the national Subway chain and a major Seattle Subway franchisee alleging illegal retaliation against former Subway employee Carlos Hernandez for helping organize and lead fast food strikes throughout the city this summer.
In early September, Hernandez was fired from a Subway franchise on Capitol Hill, ostensibly because he gave away a 66-cent cookie to a three year old. However, he and other fast food strike organizers believe the free cookie was a flimsy excuse for retaliation—they say Subway management was aware and unhappy with Hernandez's involvement in both the May 30th and August 29th fast food strikes, which campaigned for a $15/hour minimum wage and the right to organize without retaliation. Good Job Seattle explains in a press release that prior to the firing, Subway management had attempted to make strikers sign a "final warning" disciplinary notice about striking—and instructed other employees to not speak to Hernandez.
"I know I was fired cause I stood up for what is right," Hernandez says. "I went on strike and Subway fired me." Hernandez appears to be the only fast food employee fired after participating in this summer's strikes.
In a show of solidarity, Hernandez will be joined in this morning's announcement by Seattle City Council members Nick Licata and Richard Conlin, along with Conlin's challenger, Kshama Sawant, and other local organizers and political leaders. It's Tuesday, so our newsroom is too busy typesetting this week's fish wrapper to attend the presser. But I've got calls in to Good Jobs Seattle and Subway for more information about the charges; I'll update when I know more.
Yep, that's a lane of parking that's been ripped out. The old metered spots are now being transformed into a beautiful, two-lane cycle track that should be finished in 2014, along with the rest of the First Hill Streetcar project. Can. Not. Wait.
After zero trumpet fanfare and no confetti (c’mon, you guys, get your pomp and circumstance together), Mayor Mike McGinn announced his 2014 proposed budget today. For the first time since he came into office, he’s not making dramatic cuts and instead is starting to expand what the general fund can do. Thanks, economy!
The proposed budget is $4.4 billion, of which $1 billion is in the general fund. The mayor turned to the council and recalled the bloodbath of cuts they’ve all had to oversee the last few years, and seems to be relishing in the fact that he finally gets to have a fun budget. His proposed budget funds more cops, senior centers, homeless services, domestic violence services, gender pay equity, an empowerment institute for refugee women, a ton of traffic and pedestrian safety improvements around schools, more neighborhood matching funds, universal preschool planning, road maintenance, kittens, free pot for everyone, and a new bike for you! And you! And YOU! (Just checking to see if you’re still reading.)
Council Member Tim Burgess, head of the budget committee, has released a statement in response, saying that while McGinn has “proposed some significant increases in spending," he "has yet to provide evidence that those increases would be an effective use of taxpayer dollars.” But he doesn’t call a single specific item out as not being evidence-based. We have a call in to him for comment; his full statement is at the end of this post.
UPDATE: I spoke with Burgess briefly this afternoon to clarify. He told me the mayor is "definitely opening the checkbook," but when I asked him if there were any specific items in the mayor's budget that seem not to be as evidence-based as he'd like or that he's concerned about, he said no. But, he cautioned, "We're just starting our review."
To break it down a little further, some notable budget features this year:
• They’re on track to pump the rainy-day fund up to its highest level ever, at $34.7 million—“not just to pre-recession levels,” McGinn noted in his speech, but to a record level of funding. The mayor is supes proud of it.
• He mentioned tanking federal and state funding in his speech, but didn’t specifically call out this fact: Apparently, this is the first year that the city’s general fund contribution to human services is actually higher than external contributions—that means we’re putting more dollars into human services than the state, federal, and other grants we used to rely on to fund the social safety net. The city’s trying to backfill the dollars it’s lost in outside money, but that’s a fundamental shift in how we pay for things, and they’re not there yet.
• This budget funds 15 new police officers, which brings the total of new officers in the 2013-2014 budget to 42. McGinn says it’s the “highest authorized staffing level ever for SPD.”
Seattle Bike Blog published this information last Thursday while I was on vacation:
Bike commuting is at an all-time high in Seattle and continues to climb, according to Census survey data.
Perhaps a bigger symbolic moment has been reached, however: Driving alone to work is now below 50 percent in the city of Seattle, demonstrating a sea change in the way people in our city choose to get around.
I came to the Bike Blog post via Seattlish, in a post that explains why this information is such a big deal:
Bros, only 5 cities in the whole country have this distinction. New York City, Boston, Washington D.C., and San Francisco have thus far been the only places with a culture and transit system that allows such a diversity of choice. This is MAJOR.
I agree. This is big, important news. Every Seattle politician should be pointing to these numbers as justification for fast-tracking transit projects. We are not a city that wants to travel to work alone in cars. We want to use transit, or bikes, or ride-sharing options. And if we reached that important 50 percent number with our woefully malnourished transit system, it seems pretty clear to me that as transit improves, we'll see fewer and fewer single occupancy cars at rush hour. Can't everybody—even car-advocating ingrates—agree on that as a positive outcome?
This afternoon, Mayor Mike McGinn will unveil his 2014 budget for all the world—and the city council—to see. He’s been rolling out a few of the more brag-worthy parts of it over the last week or two, but the whole shebang is birthed (screaming, hopefully!) today. Then council can fuck with it until they’re done, which, if this is anything like years past, will leave it looking much the same—with a little blush and a cute barrette, just for show.
This morning, the city’s budget director sat down at the city council’s big shiny table and said brightly, “Happy Budget Day!” Because city hall thinks Budget Day is like Christmas. Which for them, since they like spending your tax dollars and fighting with each other the way children love toys and puppies, it kind of is. If you agree, wrap yourself in tinsel, pin dollar bills all over yourself, and gather your family around the computer to watch the mayor’s budget announcement live, right here. It starts around 2 p.m.
I’m hoping it’s announced after live trumpet fanfare, but I’m not holding my breath. Check back here after for some analysis, and check out this handy government PDF if you want to understand some city budget basics.
Charles is the Seattle-based sketch comedy duo consisting of Chuck Armstrong and Charlie Stockman, who who've performed all over the country and earned all sorts of raves.
But somehow I missed seeing their work until this past Saturday, when their short film "More Rock, Less Talk" screened at and won the SketchFest Comedy Film Challenge at Central Cinema. Now I love them.
This Saturday, Charles will perform a live set at the ongoing SketchFest, and you can find info here. For now, please enjoy Charles' freshly award-winning film.