Tag: endorsements

Morning Crank: Seattle vs. Broken Windows, Burgess vs. “Ideology,” Showbox Contract Suspended

 

In SODO and Georgetown, lots of arrests and a focus on clearing out RVs, and just one referral to Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, for 1,500 hours of emphasis patrols.

1. On Wednesday, the city council’s public safety committee got into a philosophical discussion about the”broken windows” theory of policing with representatives from several city departments, during a presentation on Mayor Jenny Durkan’s decision to extend “emphasis patrols” in seven neighborhoods beyond the initial 30-day period announced at the end of April. The patrols have been controversial, with critics contending that the seven neighborhoods—which include Ballard, Fremont, and Pioneer Square—were chosen based on the volume of complaints from residents rather than the presence of actual crime. (The mayor, for her part, said that she was unaware of any such criticism).

Council members Lorena Gonzalez and Teresa Mosqueda pushed SPD strategic advisor Chris Fisher and assistant chief Eric Greening to explain the difference between “broken windows” (the widely debunked theory that graffiti, panhandling, vacant buildings, and other types of “disorder” create an atmosphere that leads people to commit more crime), and the theory behind the emphasis patrols. The theory, popularized by George Kelling and James Q. Wilson, was implemented in cities across America throughout the 1980s and 1990s and has become synonymous with zero-tolerance policing and Rudy Giuliani’s New York City.

Fisher called this a misinterpretation. “Different people have different interpretations of broken windows,”  Fisher said. “I think the original theory involved working with the community… [and] I think some departments, some other researchers or practitioners, took it as meaning zero tolerance. [They] didn’t involve the community, and they just decided they were going to arrest everyone for everything, but that wasn’t the intent of broken windows.”

Highfalutin theories aside, it’s notable that the Durkan administration appears to be explicitly embracing the broken windows theory, in the form of ramped-up arrests for low-level crimes in the emphasis areas (broken down by neighborhood in the report) and neighborhood “cleanup” efforts that include removing graffiti, getting rid of newspaper boxes, and cutting back vegetation as well as removing more encampments without prior notice or offers of outreach or services.

Christopher Williams, the parks department director, pointed to a skatepark in South Park where workers have picked up litter, gotten rid of graffiti, and cut back vegetation, all “things that really emphasize that broken window theory—the quicker we can clean it up, the more that gives a message to the community that this is a cared-for, loved space and the community tends to treat it that way.” Williams also said his department is “treat[ing] single tents and encampments like stand-alone obstructions and we will have those removed immediately, for the most part,” rather than providing 72 hours’ notice and offers of shelter and services to encampment residents.

Council members, including District 4 representative Abel Pacheco, still seemed unsatisfied by SPD’s explanations for how the seven neighborhoods were chosen, an issue Fisher seemed to chalk up to the way the information was being presented, rather than the information SPD has provided to the council itself. “I asked for data about why these specific neighborhoods were chosen, and I believe the answer I got from you was that it was [a] combination of data … and calls and complaints that were generated from neighbors,” Mosqueda said. “To me, that’s not a quantitative way of explaining why we’re going into certain neighbors.”

In Ballard and Fremont, lots of calls for service from neighbors contributed to the decision to add patrols.

Fisher (essentially repeating what he told the council back in May) said the neighborhoods were chosen based on “an increase in calls and crime and complaints.” For example, “Fremont was our hottest neighborhood … in terms of an increase in reported crime and calls for service. It was sort of the clear winner,” Fisher said.

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2 . Former council member and mayor Tim Burgess sent out an email Wednesday telegraphing which city council candidates his blandly named political action committee, People for Seattle, will be supporting in the August primary elections. Not too surprisingly, they overlap 100% with the candidates endorsed by the Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (CASE), the political arm of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, with the exception of Districts 6 and 7, where People for Seattle did not make a recommendation. The candidates People for Seattle (and CASE) support for Districts 1-5, in order, are: Phil Tavel, Mark Solomon, (former Burgess aide) Alex Pedersen, and council incumbent Debora Juarez.

Burgess’ group, in other words, is snubbing two of Burgess’ own former colleagues, Lisa Herbold (D1) and Kshama Sawant (D3) in favor of candidates who, as Burgess put it in his email, can “best lead our city forward and change the current approach at the City Council.”

People for Seattle currently has about $220,000 in the bank, much of it raised in $5,000 chunks from developer and tech industry folks like Clise Properties CEO Al Clise, Amazon senior vice president Doug Herrington, developer Richard Hedreen, telecom moguls Bruce and John McCaw, and billionaire Mariners owner John Stanton. So far, they owe EMC Research $40,000 for polling, presumably to test messages like the one Burgess underlines in his email: “Please spread the word that we need a new City Council that gets back to basics and focuses on our city’s most pressing challenges. We want the next City Council to bring us together with solutions and not divide us based on ideology.”

Because there’s nothing “ideological” about calling Seattle a “Mecca [for] homeless,” opposing the streetcar and Sound Transit 3, or denouncing the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda as a “backroom deal for real estate developer upzones.”

3. Last month, a King County Superior Court judge dismissed every one of the city of Seattle’s arguments in favor of recently adopted legislation that prevented the owners of the downtown Showbox building from selling the property to a developer. The legislation, which supporters pitched as a way to “save the Showbox,” added the two-story unreinforced masonry building to the Pike Place Market Historic District across the street for an initial period of six months; that period was later extended until December of this year because two consultants hired by the city’s Department of Neighborhoods said they needed more time to evaluate a proposal to make the building a permanent part of the Market. The consultants were charged with doing public outreach and determining whether it made sense to include the Showbox building, which the city recently upzoned twice in an effort to encourage density downtown, in the Market.

DON now tells The C Is for Crank that the department has suspended its contracts for the two consultants, Stepherson and Associates (a communications firm) and AECOM (an engineering firm). Although the firms were hired back in February, it appears that they didn’t do much work until very recently; according to a Department of Neighborhoods spokeswoman, the city has only paid out about $24,000 of their original $75,000 contract—$12,000 to Stepherson and $12,554 to  AECOM.

The C Is for Crank Endorses: Teresa Mosqueda

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Teresa Mosqueda is an experienced leader with a mile-long resume and an incredible track record fighting successfully for equitable health care, fair wages, and paid sick and family leave. Of several qualified candidates running for this citywide position, Mosqueda stands out as the overachiever brimming with enthusiasm, ambition, and ideas.

As the campaign chairwoman for Raise Up Washington, Mosqueda helped draft and lead the successful campaign last year for Initiative 1433, which increases the statewide minimum wage to $13.50 an hour and requires employers to provide paid sick leave. As legislative director for the Children’s Alliance, she fought for implementation of Apple Health for Kids, the state’s Medicaid program. And as campaign director for the Washington State Labor Council, she was deeply involved in this year’s paid family leave negotiations, which resulted in a bill that will provide up to 12 weeks of paid leave for workers who take time off to care for a new or newly adopted child, to recover from a serious illness, or to take care of a sick family member. Mosqueda continued to work on family leave even after she declared her candidacy—a reflection both of her strong commitment to women and families and the fact that she, unlike some of her opponents, can’t afford to quit her job to run for office full-time. If she wins, she’ll also be the only renter on the city council. (No wonder the Seattle Times didn’t endorse her.)

Much of Mosqueda’s work has been behind the scenes—the kind of efforts that tend to go unnoticed but have lasting and important consequences. As the head of the state’s largest health care advocacy coalition, the Healthy Washington Coalition, Mosqueda served on the state’s health insurance exchange board, where she fought to require insurance companies to disclose what services they provide, including reproductive health care. She also insisted that the state of Washington provide information about voter registration to people buying plans on the exchange, an ACA requirement the state tried to circumvent. These issues aren’t flashy. They don’t make headlines. But they matter.

Contrast Mosqueda with Jon Grant, the former Tenants Union director who is seeking this seat for a second time. Grant deserves credit for turning the financially struggling Tenants Union around—and he takes it: “In just a few years time and tireless hours of work, Jon was able to… transform the organization into one of our region’s leading forces for housing justice,” his campaign website says. Grant also claims credit for his work on the statewide minimum wage campaign, which Mosqueda led; Grant worked briefly as an organizer for the group. And he used an anti-pipeline protest at Chase Bank as a photo opportunity for his campaign, which ran a photo of him being handcuffed with the caption, “Four activists arrested at Wedgwood Chase, including Jon!” (If the arrest was a ploy, it worked: The photo and story of Grant’s arrest has been mentioned by nearly every organization that has endorsed him.)  Try to imagine a low-income candidate of color being that sanguine about getting thrown in jail. The most effective city council members aren’t the ones who grandstand and take credit; they’re the ones who do the unglamorous, nose-to-the-grindstone work of drafting legislation and rounding up support. It’s appropriate that Grant—who recently declared his conversion to socialism, earning him a coveted endorsement from the Stranger as well as the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America—is supported by the council’s grandstander-in-chief, Kshama Sawant, who holds frequent rallies to place public pressure on her colleagues but has never set up a district office.

Grant’s time at the Tenants Union wasn’t without blemish. Before he resigned in 2015, a group of his employees wrote a letter to the Tenants Union board accusing him of “oppressive and tokenizing treatment” of people of color at the organization. The letter, which surfaced in an unfair labor practice complaint against the organization, accuses Grant of failing to show up to appointments with staffers, soliciting campaign contributions at a staff meeting, and delegating low-profile, menial, and administrative tasks to women of color.  (In response to my questions about the complaint, Grant said that while “I tried in every situation to empower my staff … I want to take responsibility for that as a person with both white privilege and positional authority, it is clear I did not meet the expectations of these staff members to support them as people of color within the organization. I take that feedback seriously and always strive to do better.” He also denied asking for campaign contributions at a staff meeting.)

Grant agrees with Mosqueda on many issues, including safe streets (he supports road rechannelizations like the one on Rainier Avenue), Sound Transit (he wants to speed up implementation so people in Ballard and West Seattle don’t have to wait until 2035 to get service) and homeless encampments (he opposes the current strategy of sweeping homeless people from place to place.)

But his views on housing are  in line with anti-growth groups like the Seattle Displacement Coalition, which has endorsed him. For example, he supports an unworkable plan to require developers to make 25 percent of new units affordable—a proposal that would condemn Seattle to San Francisco-style underdevelopment at a time when tens of thousands of new workers are moving here every year. He wants rent control, which would also suppress housing development at a time when our rents keep rising specifically because the city doesn’t have enough housing to accommodate everyone. He believes police union negotiations should be open to the public, which—however reprehensible the city’s police union may be—would only politicize and stalemate the bargaining process. The Stranger slammed Mosqueda for opposing public union negotiations, but her position is more nuanced and actually workable: She wants a community representative at the table, but argues, correctly, that if the union’s collective bargaining process happened in public, both sides would grandstand and dig in their heels instead of negotiating in good faith.

Mosqueda has been criticized as too polished, too connected to the unions, and too “mainstream.” This is a familiar, sexist refrain. Female candidates—too often targets of condescending comments about their appearance, tone, and youth (or lack thereof)—are often held to a suspect double standard, told to wait their turn, or treated like they’re running for middle school class president.

But take notice: Mosqueda is running for Seattle City Council. And voters shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to elect her, a smart, engaged, driven woman of color with a track record of fighting and delivering on issues that matter to all of us.

The C Is for Crank endorses Teresa Mosqueda.

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The C Is for Crank Endorses: Jessyn Farrell

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The 2017 mayoral election comes at a pivotal time for the urbanist movement. The most contentious parts of outgoing Mayor Ed Murray’s keystone achievement, the Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, remain unfinished, and conservative anti-density advocates have made common cause with anti-gentrification activists on Seattle’s far left, a potent alliance that could thwart efforts to address the city’s housing shortage.

Three candidates in the race for mayor—Jessyn Farrell, Cary Moon, and Mike McGinn—like to be considered urbanists. But only one, former state legislator and ex-Transportation Choices Coalition director Farrell, has a record of translating pro-transit, pro-housing urbanist values into policy. From her advocacy as TCC director for policies that changed the way the state thinks of road “capacity” (not just for cars anymore), to her work leading the 2008 campaign for Sound Transit 2, to her successful efforts to secure $500 million for Seattle during the debate in Olympia over Sound Transit 3, Farrell doesn’t just talk—she makes things happen.

Experience, a quality that’s frequently belittled in national politics, is crucially important in a mayor. Mayor of Seattle is not an entry-level job. As a longtime advocate and negotiator who has worked in government for many years, Farrell understands the need for negotiation and compromise. In a race where other candidates are promising to tax foreign investors and force developers to build affordable housing, consistency and competence can seem like unexciting qualities.  But in a mayor, they’re crucially important.

In our conversation about her candidacy, Farrell rattled off a list of concrete policy ideas that seemed both innovative and achievable. (Of the six mayoral candidates I interviewed at length, Farrell was the one who had me scribbling furiously in my notebook, highlighting ideas I had never heard before.) For example: Farrell supports the city’s Housing Affordability and Livability Agenda, which increases density across the city and funds affordable housing, but wants to expand it by spending some of the $500 million she secured for Seattle as a legislator to house kids and their families near their schools (as Sightline has documented, the vast majority of Seattle’s high-performing schools are in segregated single-family areas), creating a land bank of surplus public property as the backbone for a major new investment in public housing, and allocating $1 billion in affordable housing throughout the city on a neighborhood-by-neighborhood basis. Under Farrell’s plan, no neighborhood would be allowed to veto affordable housing, but each area could use different tools (such as rental subsidies for existing residents, detached backyard cottages, or apartment towers) to achieve its mandate.

Seattle hasn’t had a female mayor in nearly a century. This isn’t a bit of historical trivia; it’s a stain on our “progressive” city. Our priorities are determined by the people who lead us, and when those people are exclusively men, policies that have the greatest impact on the lives of women—paid family leave, equitable access to affordable day care and preschool, policies that promote pay and hiring equity in the private sector—take a back seat. In our conversation, Farrell demurred when I asked if she would have different priorities than her male opponents (and predecessors), then rattled off a list of ideas that would specifically benefit women and families—like partnering with private donors to supplement existing housing tax credits so they can build family-size housing instead of one-or-two-bedroom apartments and spending some of the city’s $500 million Sound Transit windfall on preschool facilities near major employers.

Two other candidates, Cary Moon and Mike McGinn, have strong pro-transit and environmental bona fides. Moon, an urban designer and civic activist who fought against the downtown tunnel ten years ago, has never served in public office or worked in government. McGinn has the opposite problem. Look at McGinn’s record (rather than his rhetoric)—as mayor, he failed to accomplish crucial elements of his agenda, because he couldn’t get along with the city council and surrounded himself with yes-men; we don’t need to go back to the days when the mayor alienated the governor by calling her a liar, repeatedly flubbed the search for a new police chief, and managed to come up with a transit tax that even Seattle voters wouldn’t support. Now he’s cozying up to neighborhood NIMBYs, signing a gimmicky no-new-taxes pledge, signing on to a neighborhood campaign against a public-private partnership to build a new Green Lake Community Center, and vowing to “revisit” the HALA plan—code for surrendering to demands for interminable process and delay.

Jenny Durkan—the hyper-competent Hillary Clinton grownup in the race—is almost certain to make it through the primary, but will have trouble overcoming her establishment label to appeal to Seattle’s populist left. Bob Hasegawa, a state legislator who has partnered with Republican legislators to reduce Seattle’s influence over Sound Transit and reduce the agency’s authority, has proposed bringing back and re-empowering the anti-development neighborhood councils and thinks virtually every problem can be solved with a public bank.

Nikkita Oliver, a civic activist, attorney, and poet, has tapped into the Black Lives Matter zeitgest, galvanizing communities that have been underrepresented in Seattle politics and shining a race and social justice spotlight on issues like property taxes, law enforcement spending, and development. Fittingly, her focus has been on the city’s lack of affordable housing, which drives displacement and promotes gentrification. But for a candidate whose primary issue is housing, Oliver was surprisingly unfamiliar with recent efforts to build affordable housing in Seattle. During our interview, she was unable to say whether she had supported last year’s housing levy, and said she didn’t remember the details of the proposal. (Oliver has since claimed that I misrepresented her quotes; I’ve reviewed the tape and confirmed that I transcribed her responses verbatim, and in the order in which they appeared, with no deletions; the only edit I made to that portion of our interview was to condense my questions, which went into more detail about the content of the housing levy and the fact that Mayor Ed Murray has touted the levy as one of his primary achievements.)

Oliver has proposed policies—like requiring developers to set aside a quarter of their units as affordable housing—that would make gentrification and displacement worse. “Make developers pay” is a popular rallying cry, but it doesn’t create affordable housing any more than increasing business taxes improves wages;  in a city where housing prices are rising faster than anywhere else in the nation, the solution isn’t to restrict growth but to encourage it. The only city that has imposed a 25 percent affordable housing requirement on developers, San Francisco, is also the only city on the West Coast that is more expensive than Seattle, thanks largely to restrictive housing policies.

Much has also been made of Oliver’s voting record (as Danny Westneat at the Times reported, Oliver voted in just seven of the 24 elections since she registered in 2008); although I don’t think frequent voting should be a litmus test for people seeking public office, her explanation—that structural barriers such as lack of Internet access and rising rents prevented her from voting consistently—was defensive and less than credible. Pointing out structural racism, an overlooked and legitimate issue in Seattle politics, is misleading in this case: African American women turn out to vote in huge numbers, outpacing white men even in 2016, when black turnout declined. (She also accused Westneat of “degrading character assassination”—before he had even published his story.) Half of Seattle’s residents are renters, and many of us move often but still update our voter registration, which you can do online, in person, or through the mail.

Farrell doesn’t have a flawless record. She voted for a bill that rolled back Sound Transit’s taxing authority after Republican light-rail opponents (and Hasegawa) complained that the taxing schedule they approved in a previous session was unfair. She defends that vote by calling it insurance that will make it possible to pass other progressive taxes in the future, but acknowledges that “it stinks.” I’m more inclined to have confidence in a politician, like Farrell, who owns up to her own controversial decisions and missteps, over one who responds to coverage and criticism by lashing out at journalists and critics.

Nearly 90 years after the end of Bertha Knight Landes’ two-year term, it’s beyond time for Seattle to elect a progressive  woman as mayor. Of the four women at the top of this year’s ballot, one—Jessyn Farrell—stands out as a pro-transit, pro-city, pro-housing big thinker who will bring new ideas to Seattle’s fight for an equitable and sustainable future.  Farrell’s impressive record of accomplishment is a sign that she can actually deliver on her ambitious agenda.

The C Is for Crank endorses Jessyn Farrell. 

If you enjoy the work I do here at The C Is for Crank, please considerbecoming a sustaining supporter of the site! For just $5, $10, or $20 a month (or whatever you can give), you can help keep this site going, and help me continue to dedicate the many hours it takes to bring you stories like this one every week. This site is funded entirely by contributions from readers, which pay for the substantial time I put into reporting and writing for this blog and on social media, as well as costs like transportation, phone bills, electronics, website maintenance, and other expenses associated with my reporting. Thank you for reading, and I’m truly grateful for your support.