Was It Worth It, Seattle City Council?

You Put On a Great Show, but the Voters Were Not Amused


I wish we could sound the death knell for "The Seattle Way"—the passive aggressive handmaiden of the City Council. Where other cities can carry out rapid transit (among other projects) in a decade, Seattle dithers for a decade.
"So was it worth it, Seattle City Council?"

Who cares? We're rid of McGinn.
I’d say from the current Council’s perspective it probably was worth it, they got rid of McGinn and only lost Conlin. Two years is a long time in politics, we won’t know if it was worth it until we see who runs in 2015. I hope the voters purge the council of those who don’t produce and who aren’t responsive, but again 2 years is a long time in politics.
Nobody on this council was conservative.
You're reading way too much into comparatively minor differences among nine councilmembers, all elected by the exact same citywide constituency. Council will become at least somewhat more diverse after 2015 with seven members elected from seven different constituencies.
Gosh I guess we don't even need to vote. The future is already set. Nothing we can do about it now...
"Seattle is a city that still genuinely values a consensual, communitarian approach to politics and governance." Maybe so, but Seattleites also want results and to be heard and listened to. A process that excludes most people from the decision making processes is neither consensual nor communitarian.
Good riddance!
@6 Are you kidding? I have two words for you: panhandling ordinance.
"a vote that can only be read as a referendum on city hall" is an overstatement.

There are a couple hundred thousand people who vote in Seattle off-year elections like this one.

While it is true city council is not broadly liked, the district election vote combined people with many different interests.

Some believe in making grassroots organizing (door knocking) the core of election campaigns. Some believe in having someone who is more closely accountable to their specific part of the city. Some believe in getting geographic diversity on the council, as North and South Seattle are often underrepresented. And some said, yes, we dislike some people in city hall and this is a way to get them out. The vote was about what the vote was about - district elections. We'll see how it turns out.
CD-5 is, by Stranger's myopic lens, moderate / conservative, they cars you want to tax live here, here where there is shitty bus service, and no transportation plan to bring them up to basic standards.

So, you can pull CD-5 toward you by formulating some kind of transportation future that presents a role other than as car driving tax payers to be milked for transportation improvements in other districts, or not and push the district to a more conservative position that it otherwise would have in an unconstraned state.

CD-5 is an opportunity for a "side" to present a compelling vision that includes people beyond the tip of your nose. It will likely be a decidedly practical vote, not always fitting The Stranger's definition of "progressive".

Try not to lose a majority in the name of instantaneous urban purity.
You're reading into district elections too much. I think most people just voted for it because it seemed logical. It's like you're desperate to have some moral victory for McGinn after he was rejected by voters. Just get over it already.
@1 underlines the thing most frustrating about Seattle politics.

@14 underlines the thing most frustrating about the Stranger.

You're both sirs, even if either one or both of you are ma'ams.
Seattle isn't so much a city as it is a federation of neighborhoods clustered around a downtown. Each of the neighborhoods work like a small town (some of them used to be small towns) with a commercial district along an arterial, surrounded by multi-family housing and with single-family housing beyond.

But it is the downtown that pays a lot of the taxes and is home to the real power in Seattle. Anytime the neighborhoods need something, downtown has to get their cut - and it's a big cut. The neighborhoods needed libraries, so there was a library levy - but a large slice of the money went to pay for a fancy-schmancy downtown library. The neighborhoods needed community centers, so there was a community center levy - but a large slice of the money went to pay for downtown arts venues. The neighborhoods needed parks, so there was a parks levy - but a big slice of the money went to create downtown "parks". We got the crumbs we needed and they got the loaf they wanted.

The Seattle Establishment, organized as the Downtown Seattle Association or the Chamber of Commerce, used their money and influence to control the political process and to direct public policy to serve their interests (no impact fees, zoning for ever higher buildings) and to direct public spending to enrich them further (amenities for downtowners like the opera house, library, pointless toy streetcars, and the deep bore tunnel creating private views for view instead of public views for all from the viaduct).

I voted for the districts because it was a way for the neighborhoods to throw off the yoke of the downtown interests. Now, finally, there will be city councilmembers who will have to address the concerns of the people who live in Seattle instead of just the companies headquartered here.
Nice article and I'd like to hear more about the 2012 auditor's report. Don't forget that Prop 1 nearly passed, too.

The voters are delivering a STRONG message and it is best for our city and legislative representatives to watch.

Wall Street ruined our economy and now they are trying to get their hands on our educational system. It would be prudent for folks like Ed Murray, Burgess, Matt Griffin and his ilk to keep their hands off of our school board elections. Seattle's business community vowed to run our school board elections like city council races- complete with consultants, polls and several hundreds of thousands of dollars. These folks funded Suzanne Dale Estey and they lost - miserably.

Seattle's citizens are speaking and it is time for a wake-up call.

Harrell is a progressive? Who knew?
i smell farts
@16 - Excellent point. A couple references for context:



Another wrinkle is how the Council/Mayor axis have dealt with budget problems by off loading general fund obligations with special levies or with newly created entities, some with separate, additional tax authority. Like the Woodland Park Zoo. Like the proposed Metropolitan Park District. These are very dangerous governance decisions: aside from scraping more property tax money out of people, control by the voters, transparency, and accountability are all greatly weakened.
The move to Districts was a long time coming. Longer than anyone on the council has been on the council. It wasn't a popularity contest with current council members. Only 1 was retired by the voters after all. It was about abandoning the current dysfunctional dynamic of the At-Large-Group-Think-Do-Nothing-Promise-Lots-Deliver-Little system and opting for a better system with better representation and representatives. It was a vote by the neighborhoods of Seattle for the neighborhoods of Seattle.
District elections had a lot more to do with the voters saying fuck you to an at-large Council that was totally beholden to developers and the Cascade Bike Club than it did with voter anger over the Council taking on McGinn's positions on SR 520 and the AWV, but go ahead and keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better.
1. if council members had revealed that the impact of districts would be to hold their pay increase down to 120K instead of 126K my god districts would have gotten 77%.
2. Clark equivocating on the minimum wage, saying only raise it to ten an hour, she is not going to be viable citywide.
3. expect strong challengers to Rasmussen. all of the incumbents opposed districts, did it to fatten their own paychecks, and have long, long records of either doing nothing or hurting their district -- travel time to west seattle is up up up. on busses and cars.
4. expect tunnel overruns to start kicking in, too.
5. 2015 races are starting now. the issue will be what did you give to downtown developers and Hansen that you didn't give to us here in your own district? another referendum on incumbents is coming soon.
A good analysis overall. The council looks absolutely productive in comparison to our legislature or, God forbid, the U.S.Congress.
As a neighborhood partisan I am thrilled that a Council member may choose to attend my community council meetings regularly and take our most local problems more seriously. It's their job!
There's an expensive freeway project being initiated by the Seattle City Council ? What's that ?

Greenwash BS bag ban that passed with a 9-0 vote is enough to make me want to blow it all up.
Today a $15 minimum wage was filed.

It is ON!
A score of public figures
If Sawant, Licata, and Harrell are our new progressive standard bearers, God help us. They're good-ish on social issues but terrible on transit and density. Get ready for progressive-NIMBY heaven, with anti-density rhetoric, stifling new development/ overregulation of housing, ambivalence towards capital projects for transit, and a general lack of ambition for an urban future.

Clark should go, and Bagshaw and Godden should retire. But Rasmussen and Burgess are fine. We need more O'Briens, and either McGinn or Renee Staton would be great in District 5.
But I do look forward to Goodspaceguy running to unseat some incumbent like Jean Godden. His policies of abolishing the minimum wage, public showers for all, and colonizing space will surely be a breath of fresh air in this city.
The stat that proves Dominic's thesis is Mike O'Brien's re-elect number. He got 2/3 of the vote against a well-funded challenger. Why? Because he, alone, was the one who consciously rose above the petty bullshit to show voters he would work with everyone, Mayor and City Council, on things that Seattleites want.

The City Council thought they were being oh-so-clever in taking the John Boehner approach to McGinn, undermining him at every turn so that he'd be a one-term mayor. And it worked, no doubt about it. But they destroyed themselves in the process. Voters didn't look at City Hall and see a heroic City Council standing up to a bad mayor (what Clark and Burgess expected voters would see). They saw a mayor and a City Council that were fighting with each other rather than paying attention to core needs, and they said "a pox on all their houses."

So now the conservative core of the City Council is facing doom in two years because they were too busy alienating voters in pursuit of their own personal grievances. But if we get a more progressive Council out of this, it's totally worth it.
@28 Sawant was elected by renters, not homeowners. Which group do NIMBYs belong to again? Also I doubt a person advocating for the retooling of Airplane production toward trains and buses is going to fight transit development.
BTW the quote from Sawant(on density) was taking out of context, She was talking about building new developments that REDUCE density under the banner of "density".
lol...ho ho ho... sorry... still laughing.. I've been away from home for about five years now and I can't believe Jean Godden is still around....Good for you homies !! kick the jerks to the curb... cant' wait til I come back so I can lend a hand... thanks for a great piece.
Thank you Dominic.You are right on with your perception concerning the elections this year. There seems to be a promise of better thing to come in the future, so there is a little bit of hope. Maybe we will get a glimmer of transparency with a more humane City Council. Keep up the good work.
Dorli Rainey
I sure do wish the rest of the State/Country were as "conservative" as our elected city council members.
This would all be fine and dandy if not for that cliff you all seem so intent on careening off of.

What cliff, you might ask?

That cliff I call the Indian caste system inspired 40% reduction in minimum wage hours.

I read recently, either here or in another Seattle publication, that the proportion of minimum wage workers in Seattle is 1.5%.

I'm not sure what mixture of lunacy, arrogance, and lies adds up to 100% on that one.

I really have no fucking idea what kind of economics courses she claims to be teaching.

"Wow Mommy, if you fill a bath tub up with water the rubber ducky rises!" REALLY is not the most convincing of arguments.
Walking in a winter wonderland, while everyone working in McDonald's has a Bachelor's degree relevant only in the spirit realm.

Bing Crosby, anyone?
While Sawant, who doesn't appear to understand that she exists in physical reality, may not understand what she is saying..

To state that she is going to exert control over Boeing is to state that she is going to exert control over the US armed forces.

Do you have any idea how fucking psychotic that is?

Let's go zerg rush McChord!
I've got an idea.

You get the biggest, meanest, commie motherfucker in Seattle.

I'll fight him to the death.

Then I put his jawbone on my fucking bag, and you never talk again.
Spits you out like a child.

Thanks for the blog.
No, you don't deserve to live.
I'm 5'7. It must be small man's syndrome.
Economics for children.

I have $100. I am going to pay 11 people $9 to get a job done.

Now those people aren't showing up to work because they want to live like they studied for years, and then worked for years. Right now. Without all of that silly 'earning' shit. They pull $15 out of a hat and begin stating their claim to taking over the world.

In the spirit realm, I cast a spell and $150 appears.

In physical reality, four or five of you are fired.
I would like the amend the above comment.

I want it to read, 'Economics for effectively retarded children of all ages.'

Thanks simpletons. Have a miserable day failing to outwit reasoning I learned in the second grade.
@43- surprisingly, businesses don't work like 3rd grade math problems
In my opinion, the Council was acting more like the right wing in the US Congress in that they were opposing the Mayor in order to prevent him from having success. Voting for districts seemed a good way to break up their cabal.

The Mayor seemed to understand the climate crisis and the need to reduce carbon emissions STAT!

Personally, I appreciated the Mayor supporting efforts to care for homeless people who are the "canaries in the coal mine" of our disfunctional economy. Kudos go to Councilmembers Licata and O'Brien for recognizing the need to be proactive on this issue.

It's not too late for the other councilmembers who plan to run in 2015 to improve their creds on these issues as well.
Thank you for pointing out the ways of this miserable Seattle City Council.

Let's also remember another BS move:

2009: McGinn says especially if the tunnel is bored, we need to address the seawall rebuild. City Council lies and tells the Seattle public McGinn is wrong, we don't need no stinkin' seawall rebuild, in an effort to hide the true cost of the tunnel project, with seawall rebuild adding another $200+ million to Seattle's bill.

2012: as soon the tunnel project is approved, after having lied to the Seattle public in 2009, City Council is suddenly on the bullhorn telling Seattle "WE NEED TO REBUILD THE SEAWALL!!!!!!!" to the tune of $300+ million.

The delay and the obstructionism by the (anti-)Seattle City Council cost Seattle additional millions of dollars.
"Licata and O'Brien were just reelected by overwhelming margins."

Really? That's not such an endorsement when you consider that better than 80% of eligible voters didn't cast ballots in the last election. Licata and O'Brien need to get flushed with the rest of the incumbents. Seattle deserves a much better City Council than we have.
Both Murray and Burgess support mayoral control of public education; a mechanism to push charter schools and other highly controversial initiatives. These guys would be smart to leave their educational agenda at the door. The public can and will push these guys out of office ..if they start messing with our public education system.