Seattle's longtime bike coordinator, Peter Lagerwey, who supervised the development of the city's much-hyped and recently-released Bike Master Plan, has reportedly been demoted to a lesser position in the city's bicycle and pedestrian program, a division of the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT). Lagerwey has reportedly been replaced by former pedestrian safety specialist Megan Hoyt. SDOT spokesman Gregg Hirakawa would not confirm Lagerwey's demotion, but said the division was going through a "reorganization." Hirakawa would also not say why Lagerwey was reassigned so soon after the release of the high-profile bike plan. ERICA C. BARNETT
The debate over proposed legislation that would cap interest rates on payday loans has driven a wedge between two opposing sides of Latino activists and leaders. Take for example this recent switcheroo: The Hispanic Legislative Day, a strangely named organization that lobbies the legislature, voted late last year to add the payday cap to this session's list of to-dos. Ligia Velazquez, the president of the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement, brought a memo on the issue to a meeting Saturday, January 6, expecting those gathered to accept the document or simply approve revisions. Instead, the group voted to take the cap off their list of priorities. Velazquez felt like the meeting had been stacked. In attendance were two Latino employees of MoneyTree, a local payday lender. One of them, Dan Gandara, voted to boot the cap.
Any member of the "Latino community" is eligible for membership and voting privileges at the Hispanic Legislative Day. But Velazquez says Gandara—who works as a lawyer for MoneyTree—has an obvious "conflict of interest."
MoneyTree has donated to Latino politicians, including State Senator Margarita Prentice (D-11), who opposes the cap. MoneyTree CEO Dennis Bassford has also said he would like to find a way to give money to El Centro de la Raza, a prominent Latino nonprofit.
Hispanic Legislative Day director Carlos Jimenez said the incident needs to be used as a learning experience. "The other side of this issue, they are well-organized," he said. "We need to get organized and we need to be persistent." ANGELA VALDEZ
Less than 24 hours after being sworn in by Washington Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander (a key nay vote in last year's 5—4 decision against gay marriage), state Senator Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill, U-District, Wallingford) announced that he's working on legislation to "extend marriage equality to same-sex couples."
His gay colleagues on the house side—including gay-rights attorney Jamie Pedersen (D-43), who succeeded Murray in the house—along with Representative Joe McDermott (D-34, West Seattle), Representative Jim Moeller (D-49, Vancouver), and Representative Dave Upthegrove (D-33, Des Moines) will propose similar legislation. The group will outline their plans at a Thursday, January 11, press conference. JOSH FEIT