MINIMUM WAGE DATA, FINALLY Mayor Ed Murray's office released two studies this week commissioned by his Income Inequality Advisory Committee on raising Seattle's minimum wage, one from researchers at the University of Washington and one from researchers at University of California, Berkeley. One quick takeaway from the UW study: "About a third of Seattle residents earn less than $15 per hour." Whoa. And a quick takeaway from the Berkeley study: "Economists have increasingly recognized that raising the minimum wage does not automatically mean that employment will fall. Increased labor costs can be absorbed through a variety of other channels, including savings from reduced worker turnover and improved efficiency, higher prices, and lower profits."
WAR ON UBER The Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association is suing Uber Technologies in King County Superior Court, alleging in court documents that Uber's app-based car service "does not comply with the applicable laws and regulations" of Seattle, King County, or the state and therefore "engages in an unlawful and deceptive business practice." They're asking the court for damages related to lost fares, to declare Uber's current behavior illegal, and to block Uber from continuing certain current practices in the future. Asked for comment on the allegations, Uber Seattle general manager Brooke Steger says only that her company is "focused on connecting people with the safest and most reliable transportation options" and calls it "unfortunate that the taxi industry is not similarly focused on what really matters: safety of riders and opportunity for drivers." Taxi association spokeswoman Dawn Gearhart says their goal is simple: "Really what we would like is for everybody to be on a level playing field. Everybody should have to follow the rules, not just a few people."
MESSENGER KILLED Mayor Ed Murray announced on March 24 that he'll replace his press secretary, Rosalind Brazel. Brazel famously sent out a press release mourning the death of former city director Jim Diers a couple of weeks ago—only to send a subsequent release announcing that Diers was, in fact, "alive and well." (Probably wasn't her idea, but it's her sword to fall on now.) Megan Coppersmith, the spokeswoman for the city's IT department, will be acting as an interim press secretary, while Brazel moves to work on internal communications.
KICKED OUT Perennial city council annoyance Alex Zimerman (aka Avrum Tsimerman), who testifies at most full council meetings and has called city council members everything from "banditos" to a "fucking bitch" (that one lobbed at Sally Bagshaw), has now been kicked out of the council chamber until April 13, after he "repeatedly engaged in disruptive behavior," according to Council President Tim Burgess. He appealed, it was denied, and sources say he'll likely file some sort of complaint about the exclusion. Everyone else: Now's your opportunity to enjoy a Zimerman-free council meeting or two!