This just in from city hall: The city council plans to create a new committee to focus solely on the issue of the minimum wage. There was some talk in December of creating a minimum-wage committee—Kshama Sawant was reportedly hoping to lead it—but in the end, the topic got folded into Council Member Sally Clark's mouthful of a committee, called "Housing Affordability, Human Services and Economic Resiliency." Which means it would be vying for time on the schedule with super-important things like affordable housing and human services funding.
All nine council members will be sitting members of this, what's called a "select" committee. And hey, maybe it sounds like more process to you, but this has a very different feel from the mayor's task force, where labor and business have been meeting out of public view: Committee meetings are public. Very public—they're broadcast on the Seattle Channel, and anyone can show up or sign up to testify. Council Member Clark, who will act as chair, says that since "this is going to be one of the biggest things we tackle in this two-year cycle," they want to go a step further than that. To "maximize the ability for people to participate," she says, they'll hold some of the meetings in the evenings and in places other than City Hall.
Clark says she hopes this'll be more efficient than waiting till the task force sends down a proposal—and if they want to compete with the ballot measures that will likely be filed this June, they're working on a tight deadline, since she says she expects to see something from the task force around May.
Council Member Kshama Sawant, for her part, says she sees this as "a really welcome step from the council... a step in the right direction." She's especially excited that the plan includes meetings outside of the usual council workday, so that people who work during the day can come participate and give feedback. She echoes Clark, saying the "goal is to ensure maximum public participation." Hear that, all you people who like to
shout into microphones at politicians participate in democracy?
The schedule of meetings should be released as soon as next week.