Tag Archives: Seattle

McGregor hopes to become 1st transgender person on Seattle City Council

matt mcgregor for seattle city council

Seattle City Council candidate Matt McGregor

Playing identity politics in Seattle. Well, I’m sure that will work heavily in his favor in proggieland.

From Seattle Times: “We’re not going back in the shadows:” That’s a message Mac McGregor wants to send with his campaign this year for Seattle City Council. McGregor is trying to become the first transgender person elected to the council, and he believes he’d be the first elected anywhere in Washington state.

The 53-year-old, who sits on Seattle Police Department’s LGBTQ Advisory Council and served on the Seattle LGBTQ Commission, said November’s election motivated him to seek office.

McGregor said President Trump’s “pretty extreme, religious-right administration” wants to roll back the clock on protections and acceptance of minorities. “They want us to be silent, but we’re not going to do it,” he said. “I’m going to stand for all marginalized people.”

The Beacon Hill resident is one of 10 candidates registered with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to run for Position 8. Position 8 and Position 9, the council’s citywide seats, are up for election this year. The council’s seven district seats will be up in 2019. Position 8 is an open seat because Councilmember Tim Burgess announced in December he would not seek re-election.

Other than McGregor, the candidates include former Tenants Union of Washington State executive director Jon Grant, local NAACP Vice President Sheley Secrest, Washington State Labor Council political director Teresa Mosqueda and Washington State Human Rights Commission chair Charlene Strong.

Others are Ryan Asbert, who has promised to make council decisions based on a constituent-input app; Hisam Goueli, a Northwest Hospital doctor who wants to develop city-run health insurance; James Passey, who describes himself as a Libertarian; Rudy Pantoja, whose video-recorded interaction with a North Precinct police-station opponent at City Hall in August went viral; and Jenn Huff, are also registered.

Grant’s campaign has raised the most money — nearly $76,000 — most of it through the city’s new democracy-vouchers taxpayer program. Mosqueda’s campaign has raised about $53,000 and Goueli more than $11,000. The other candidates have each raised less than $10,000.

The outcome of the Position 8 race could have a significant impact on Seattle politics: Burgess is one of the nonpartisan council’s longest-tenured members and is widely considered the most moderate voice on a panel of progressives (HAHAHAHA‼!).

McGregor is a former martial-arts competitor, coach and gym owner with “a black belt in 17 different styles.” He grew up in Florida in a “ very dysfunctional family.”

“It was my community that stepped up and made a difference in my life … giving me rides to school events and making sure I had a sandwich,” he said. “That really taught me to give back to my community.”

The candidate, who lives with his wife and teenager, said he thought twice about launching a campaign, wondering whether someone might target his family. “I’ve been pretty public about who I am for a while, but you put yourself under a different level of scrutiny running for office,” he said.

McGregor said he agrees with Mayor Ed Murray on many issues, but believes the way the city has been carrying out evictions and cleanups of unauthorized homeless encampments hasn’t been fair. “I understand it’s a complex problem. There’s no easy answer to the homeless issue we have in our city,” he said. “Even if we took everybody off the street who was there today and gave them housing, we’d have another homeless problem in six months.”

He said he’d like to see the city get community members more involved in cleaning up encampments. “I’m a big community organizer and some groups are already starting to do it,” he said. “

Other key issues for McGregor include police reform and the persistent gap in pay between men and women. He said he helped develop training for the Seattle Police Department around interacting with transgender people.

McGregor said the city needs to “keep asking more” of developers in the creation of affordable housing so that teachers, nurses and police officers aren’t priced out.

DCG

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Facing rental crisis, Seattle creates a renters’ commission to explore new laws

government solve all problems

And by “explore” they really mean “implement.”

From Seattle Times: The Seattle City Council on Monday voted unanimously to create what is believed to be the nation’s first renters’ commission, which will push laws to help a growing group that makes up 54 percent of all households yet has a weak voice in City Hall.

As rents have skyrocketed across Seattle and long-time tenants have been priced out, advocates for renters have said it was a constituency that hasn’t been heard as a unified group.

Renters could individually contact council members, or take time off work or school to come to a daytime meeting. But they had nowhere near the organized clout of homeowners — who had long dominated city-sanctioned neighborhood groups to push politicians on their agendas — or landlords, who pool money for lobbyists and opposed the renters’ commission.

The 15-member group of renters will meet regularly and pass their ideas directly to City Council members who make laws, and to other officials who help shape and enforce them.

“To renters, your life and your voice matters and the City Council affirmed that today,” said Zachary DeWolf, who first proposed the commission idea and is president of the Capitol Hill Community Council.

The new commission is mandated to seek out members of long-marginalized communities to sit on the volunteer board, such as immigrants, low-income residents, felons, those who have been homeless and members of the LGBTQ community. The average Seattle renter earns about half of what a homeowner makes, and is disproportionately more likely to be a person of color.

The commission itself won’t have any direct power, but it will provide a direct line to City Hall for a constituency that historically has had a very difficult time organizing.

The commission will set its own agenda after the group is formed. Among the hot topics its members are likely to wade into are the pace of apartment construction, laws to protect tenants from being evicted, Airbnb and other rental services, and rent control — which is illegal statewide.

They’ll also be required to help make sure that existing laws to protect tenants are actually enforced, including a new regulation to cap move-in fees, and a first-come, first-served application process for tenants that landlords are suing over.

Even with the very topic of renter civic engagement on the agenda at Monday’s council meeting, only a handful of renters showed up.

“We’re busying working to pay off rising rents in this city, we don’t have time to come to City Council meetings,” said Mathew Ellenberger, a University of Washington student who spoke at the meeting. He lamented that when he began renting here two years ago, he had no clear, central resources to figure out basic things like what to pay for a security deposit.

Landlord groups opposed the commission, saying it was unfair to give renters a special line to City Hall when most legislation pits the interest of renters against landlords. Property owners say rising property taxes have all but forced them to raise rents, and they fear further regulations would make their situation even harder.

Sean Martin, a spokesman for the Rental Housing Association of Washington, which represents landlords, says it’s disingenuous to say renters’ voices aren’t being heard when several pro-renter laws have passed in recent years. “Right now, tenant advocates, anything they throw against the wall, it sticks,” Martin said.

Martin said landlords asked for non-voting positions on the commission but the city didn’t include that in its plans.

Councilman Tim Burgess spearheaded the legislation to create the commission and found co-sponsors in Council members Lisa Herbold, Mike O’Brien and Debora Juarez. Mayor Ed Murray will sign the bill, his office said.

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

Seattle continues to fight homelessness with more high-paying government jobs

 

Ed Murray

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray

Last April I told you about Seattle’s serious homelessness problem. From my post:

In 2016, the King County region saw an increase of 19% of our unsheltered population, the majority of those people residing in Seattle. In November of 2015, Mayor Murray declared a State of Emergency on Homelessness to bring light to this crisis and seek greater support from our state and federal partners. Mayor Murray has increased spending on homelessness intervention and prevention and the City of Seattle is now spending a record high of nearly $50 million dollars to address this crisis.”

How did the city respond to this emergency? They hired a “Director of Homelessness.” This was “to ensure that the City’s increased efforts are well coordinated and driving toward the greatest outcomes for those in need, the new Director of Homelessness will be tasked with executing the Mayor’s priorities on this issue.” The pay rate when this position was advertised? Between $97,279.92 and $160,483.68.

In August 2016, the city hired George Scarola to fill this position, who makes $137,500 per year.

Apparently just one high-paid city worker is not enough to help the homeless. Now comes this: Seattle hiring to clean up after the homeless.

From MyNorthwest.com: Seattle is putting its money where its mouth is in its latest effort to staff the homeless crisis. The city seeks to fill three positions, all targeted at cleaning up garbage along Seattle streets and around encampments.

“All three positions will support the city’s efforts to mitigate impacts of unsanctioned encampments,” said Julie Moore with the City of Seattle.

The first position will supervise pilot programs that address homeless litter in neighborhoods affected by encampments. Two other jobs will organize the cleanup efforts around encampments. All are already funded under the 2017-18 budget and pay between $37-46.80 and hour (that translates to $76,960/year – $97,344 [not including benefits]).

Seattle Public Utilities started two pilot programs in 2016 to address the issue of litter and trash related to the homeless crisis — the litter abatement pilot, and the encampment trash pilot. The Homeless Encampment Trash/Litter Abatement Pilot Program Administrator will oversee both programs. The position pays up to $46.80 an hour.

The homeless litter program focuses on street sweeping, washing sidewalks, and picking up trash in general. “The encampment trash pilot program provides scheduled solid waste pick-up services to five unsanctioned homeless encampments and on-call trash pick-up service, as needed,” Moore said. “This service is separate of collection of trash following a scheduled encampment cleanup.”

The program focused on the International District and Little Saigon when it was enacted last year. Four new neighborhoods will be added in 2017. It is unknown which four neighborhoods those will be.

Two Field Operations Supervisor positions were created in 2016 and have been filled temporarily. The city is seeking to fill them permanently for up to $42 an hour ($87,360/year). “They provide additional capacity to increase the city’s response to unsanctioned encampments…” Moore said, noting the supervisors will work with the city’s Navigation Team.

According to the job post:

The Field Operations Advisors will be responsible for coordinating cleanup efforts, directing on-site operations, overseeing assigned City employees and contract laborers, ensuring compliance with legal and environmental standards and regulations including outreach to offer alternative safe shelter, overseeing proper collection and storage protocols, collecting data, and liaising with other city departments, outside agencies, property owners, law enforcement, contractors and the public to ensure collaborative and efficient operations at assigned encampment sites.

All three jobs had an application deadline of March 14. It is unknown how soon the city plans on filling the positions.

DCG

Of course: A community organizer and BLM supporter is going to run against the progressive Seattle mayor, Ed Murray

nikkita oliver

Just what Seattle needs…another radical proggie

I wouldn’t bet $100 that she has no chance. Because if you know anything about Seattle, you know there’s a good possibility that the proggies will elect her.

From Seattle Times: Nikkita Oliver, an attorney, community organizer and spoken-word artist who’s been active in Seattle’s Black Lives Matter movement and in the Rainier Beach neighborhood, will run for mayor against Ed Murray.

Oliver is seeking office under the banner of the Peoples Party of Seattle, “a community-centered grass roots political party led by and accountable to the people most requiring access and equity,” says a website for Oliver and the party.

South Seattle Emerald and Crosscut first reported her candidacy. She is Murray’s highest-profile challenger so far. In an interview Wednesday, the 31-year-old said Donald Trump’s inauguration as president and conversations with community members inspired her to run.

Oliver said she was “feeling stuck, not having a voice in the process and not knowing how we change things at the federal level” before she decided to become a candidate. “We have to get involved locally, because that will begin to shift the narrative and the policy,” she said.

The Indianapolis native, who moved to Seattle for college, said her campaign will focus on housing, education and ending the school-to-prison pipeline.

She said officials should reassess the “area median income” benchmark they use to define affordable housing. The Seattle area’s median income is much higher than what the average working person actually makes.

Many of us in the Peoples Party have been forced from our homes by unmanageable rent increases. But we are not alone. In fact, displacement has become the story of so many Seattleites. Construction cranes, blocked roads, and rerouted buses are the status quo. Developer-driven rezones and growth are swallowing our city whole!” Oliver’s campaign website says.

“The residents who made the Emerald City the innovative and cultural gem it is today are being pushed out and replaced with murals, cultural relics, and colorful crosswalks. Seattle is quickly becoming a museum of our contributions, a place we can visit but we cannot live.”

The party is running Oliver “to break down barriers and open doors for collective leadership that is willing, able, and experienced in divesting from practices, corporations, and institutions that don’t reflect the values and interests of our city,” the website says.

“Whether on stages and in classrooms as a teaching artist, or in the courts and streets as a lawyer and legal observer, her track record, experience, and selfless dedication as a truly progressive servant of the people speaks for itself.”

Oliver works as a teaching artist and mentor in Seattle Public Schools and through Creative Justice, a nonprofit that uses art to work with court-involved youth. She holds law and education degrees from the University of Washington, was the 2015 grand champion of the Seattle Poetry Slam, and received the 2015 artist human-rights leader award from the Seattle Office of Civil Rights. She’s been a leader in efforts to stop the city from building a $160 million North Precinct police station and King County from building a new youth jail.

Oliver said her work in schools and with court-involved youth would help her craft better policy as mayor. She said Murray talks about aiding young black men in Seattle but hasn’t been engaging enough with community activists.

Murray has raised $272,376 and has been endorsed by a number of labor unions. Another candidate, safe-streets activist Andres Salomon, has raised $2,886.

Oliver told the Emerald, “We’re going to lack financially. But what we lack in funding we’ll make up in actual, real community relationships. If you see pictures of me with young people, it wasn’t a photo op. It’s not because I went down to Rainier Beach High School to have a fake conversation with young people and take a picture and say it happened. It’s because I actually spend time at Rainier Beach.”

She added, “If you ask those young people about who I am they’ll say I’ve seen Nikkita in the community. You’ll see pictures of me with young people, but they were taken in community, not just some transactional stuff that politicians do.”

DCG

Superwealthy entrepreneur Nick Hanauer decides to ‘go all out’ with property-tax levy campaign to fight Seattle homelessness

nick-hanauer3

A couple things to know about Nick Hanauer:

From Seattle Times: In his State of the City address, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray announced last week he would ask voters to approve a $275 million property-tax levy to combat homelessness. Murray cast the plan as his own, saying the city must double its homeless spending. Superwealthy entrepreneur Nick Hanauer, Murray explained, would help draw up the details.

Why Hanauer? The venture capitalist says his Seattle-based think tank brought the idea to Murray and has been working on it for the last year. “We just decided we were going to do something, and no one can stop that. And once that bus leaves the station, people can get on or get run over,” Hanauer said in an interview.

In recent years, Hanauer has backed winning campaigns to increase the state’s minimum wage and expand background-check requirements for gun buyers.

Now he has set his sights on helping the thousands of people who are struggling to survive on the streets of Seattle. “We came to the mayor and said, ‘We are throwing down on homelessness,’ ” he said. “We said, ‘We are going to take something big to the ballot.’ ”

The mayor was receptive, said Hanauer, who called the project a collaboration between his organization and City Hall. “Mayor Murray is a friend of mine, and it’s all connected,” Hanauer said. “This is not a secret plot. It’s a group of citizen activists and leaders thinking about what to do.”

The plan is to qualify the levy for the August ballot as a citizens’ initiative rather than as a city proposition by the mayor and council. The campaign would need to collect at least 20,638 valid voter signatures to do that. The measure would raise $275 million in property taxes over five years.

Hanauer says he’ll bankroll the levy campaign. “The thing that makes our contribution great is I can throw down and say I’m going to run an initiative. I can go all out,” he said.

I’m going to donate enough money to that campaign to make sure that we would win. It’s so far below the amount of money that I care about that,” Hanauer added. “It’s not a statewide campaign, so it’s not going to cost $10 million.”

Read the rest of the story here.

DCG

General strike, rally called for this weekend in Seattle

trump-triggeredFrom MyNorthwest.com: Better stock up on essentials before the weekend — just in case. A National General Strike, a Seattle area strike, and a rally have been called for. And as with any event in Seattle, whether it be a Seahawks game or a protest march, locals should plan for traffic and other interruptions.

A general strike means no working, no school, and no shopping. For many people, this should be easy. According to the Facebook event for the general strike, it will run from Feb. 17-20 (Friday through Monday). It covers the weekend and Presidents Day, which some workers have off as a holiday.

The event is organized by General Strike USA. It’s a bit wordy, but according to the event page:

WE DEMAND RECONSTITUTION. Disrupt the economy until we have a government, instead of being had by one. This is how we stop Trump and the entire corrupt political establishment before they destroy us and the planet we call home.

At this dangerous point in our history, we must confront a bitter truth: any political system that can allow Donald Trump to come to power is not a system worth keeping. Indeed, our elections, as controlled by the major political parties, offer us merely a contest of personalities rather than a choice between real alternatives. These contests mask the major parties’ underlying unity in a neoliberal economic establishment that serves the wealthy few at the expense of the impoverished many.

The general strike promotes a change of the system, not a change within the system, and encourages dismantling the establishment.

So far, the Facebook event has more than 2,000 people signed up, nationally, to participate, with 3,000 more interested in taking part. And 22,000 more have been invited to strike.

General strike in Seattle: A separate, unrelated general strike is organized in Seattle amid the national event. The Solidarity Strike is slated to take place between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m., Feb. 17 at Volunteer Park in Seattle. It is organized by Solidarity for Justice in Education.

As the organization’s name implies, the strike is more focused on Washington’s education system as lawmakers are in session, attempting to fully fund it. The State of Washington has been ordered by its own Supreme Court to fully fund education. But there has been a tug-of-war between Democrats and Republicans on just how to do that.

The event notice states: Solidarity Demonstration to #Resist the WA Senate Republican proposal to fund education by undermining collective bargaining rights of Education Workers. All Labor Unions are welcome and encouraged to stand in support of this Legislative attack on Unions. No Right to Work in Washington.

The Seattle event has 1,300 people interested in taking part, and 324 confirmed to go. There are 1,600 more invited to come. Comments on the event’s page seem to have a theme — it would have a better turnout if organizers planned it on the weekend, instead of during the workday.

Free Daniel rally: Before Seattle’s strike in Volunteer Park, another event has been put together at the last minute by a range of organizers, including Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant.

The “Free Daniel Rally Against Deportations Fight Trump!” is scheduled for 9 a.m. at the Seattle Federal Courthouse in downtown Seattle. At least 1,000 people are interested in attending, and more than 200 have committed to going. Another 1,400 have been invited.

The event is partially motivated by a series of immigration roundups and detainments. Then, locally, Daniel Ramirez Medina was detained after he had an encounter with the law. He is covered under regulations passed under the Obama administration that allows immigrants who entered the country as minors to stay in renewable two-year periods. That regulation is known as Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA.

The Facebook event states: Over the last week, Trump’s administration has detained and deported 600+ immigrants. Here in Seattle, on Tuesday 2/14, Daniel Ramirez Medina, a 23-year-old father who has received repeated approval to stay and work under the DACA program, was taken by ICE.  Medina has a court appearance on Friday during the rally.

The Department of Homeland Security argues another perspective. It says that those protected under DACA can be deported if they are perceived as threats to public safety.

According to a press release from DHS:

On February 10, Daniel Ramirez-Medina, a gang member, was encountered at a residence in Des Moines, Washington, during an operation targeting a prior-deported felon. He was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and was transferred to the Northwest Detention Center to await the outcome of removal proceedings before an immigration judge.

This case illustrates the work ICE fugitive operations teams perform every day across the country to remove public safety threats from our communities when they encounter them. ICE officers, along with their law enforcement partners, have and will continue to enforce our nation’s laws to protect public safety, national security, and to preserve the integrity of our immigration system.”

DCG

 

Homosexual Seattle mayor to give State of City address at mosque, slams Trump administration

ed-murray

Trump Derangement Syndrome on steroids: Where you have a homosexual mayor and advocate for the LGBT community giving a speech in a Muslim place of worship, in which their Islamic law considers homosexual acts a punishable crime.

From KIRO7: Mayor Ed Murray plans to give his State of the City address next week at a mosque in North Seattle. The address on Tuesday, his spokesman said, is meant to stand with the Seattle Muslim community “as we fight sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

Murray made the announcement Monday with City Council President Bruce Harrell. This will be the first time Murray has held one a major speech to Council outside City Hall, though previous mayors have done so, his staff said.

Idris Mosque was opened in 1981 and is open to Muslims and non-Muslims.

“Both the City and Idris Mosque are committed to the American ideal of separation of church and state,” Murray’s spokesman, Benton Strong, said in an e-mail statement. “With this address Mayor Murray and Council are standing with Seattle’s Muslim community in their house of worship as we fight state sanctioned discrimination by the Trump Administration.”

“Throughout its history Seattle has stood with communities facing persecution from the government, including during the civil rights era at Black churches. “

The address will be given during a special Seattle City Council meeting which will be open to the public. It will be led by Harrell at 9:30 a.m. Doors open an hour earlier.

DCG