COVID has won a special election in Legislative District 42: In early November, Washington State Senator Doug Ericksen, who opposed numerous COVID safety measures, notified colleagues that he had contracted the virus while on a trip to El Salvador (travel that the State Department had advised against). He then disappeared for over a month, and this weekend his family announced that he has passed away.
While the circumstances of his passing are certainly memorable, Ericksen would probably want his career to be remembered for many other distinguishing moments in which he seemed to take such pride: Opposing educational access for transgender students, trying to restrict voting access in the last presidential election, taking money from oil companies and then defending polluters and denying climate change, seeking to criminalize protests, attempting to overturn every single bill passed by the legislature last year, all that stuff with Cambodia, and trying to ban almond milk.
This WA GOP state Senator opposed COVID mandates and introduced a bill to prohibit them, but he was always anti-vax. Along with other Republicans, in 2019 he yelled on the floor to kill a bill to remove the personal belief exemption for measles vaccines: https://t.co/UZZQIhG279 https://t.co/ItvOwtJAqE
— Rich Smith (@richsssmith) December 19, 2021
Alrighty friends: Tony Fauci has some bad news to start off our week. On Sunday, Fauci warned that the U.S. is likely to see record numbers of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths as the Omicron variant rages.
There’s an Omicron spike predicted for this week: Maybe don’t go out if you don’t have to for a while. Yeah we're sick of masks, isolation, and Instagram Live drag shows (UGHHHHHH) too. But cases are soaring in King County, with Omicron cases doubling every two or so days. Around a quarter-million adults living in King County are still not fully vaccinated, though that number is likely to soon decrease for obvious, morbid reasons.
Expect Christmas shows in... January? It's
cancelation postponement season!
Keep yourself safe: Fauci said for optimal protection, it is important to get your booster shot, especially if your holiday plans include congregate settings, where vaccines, boosters, and masks will help protect people.
Easier said than done: Drug stores are not exactly handing out boosters like candy anymore. A few of my friends and I (Hannah) were able to snag last-minute spots this weekend at the South Lake Union Vaccination Clinic. Right now (it’s 6:16 a.m., the things I do for you), the City of Seattle vaccine finder shows no appointments available. Keep checking in throughout the day. On both Saturday and Sunday, I found that appointments became available mid-morning to get the jab the day-of registration.
More vaxx options: Today, one of two new FEMA temporary community vaccination clinics will open up in Federal Way. The second one will open next month in Auburn. KOMO reported that these sites will have the capacity to stick needles in the arms of 300-500 people a day. The vaccine has cool hours in my opinion: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., which would seem to better accommodate working class people who are on that 9 to 5 grind. As of this morning, there are slots open for today if you’re in the area or willing to make the commute.
COVID-19 in Congress: Sorry for all the COVID-19 news, but this is sorta the state of things. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., and Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., said Sunday that they have tested positive for the coronavirus despite both being fully vaccinated. We hope Liz has a plan for that.
At last, someone is thinking of the poor beleaguered cars: Mayor-elect Bruce Harrell has announced SDOT director Sam Zimbabwe is leaving the department. Zimbabwe was hired by Jenny Durkan in 2019 and his work was generally well-received by advocates of sustainable streets. The city will conduct a nationwide search for Zimbabwe’s replacement. In a statement, Bruce called for “recognizing the role of cars.” Hey Washington Bikes, still feeling good about your Harrell endorsement?
If I have a single solid piece of advice to offer in life, it is this: you should marry your hero.
I look forward to what’s next, baby. pic.twitter.com/VGsoXlJJ7T
— Jess Zimbabwe (@jzimbabwe) December 18, 2021
Not the Seahawks: Six more players on the Seattle Seahawks have earned a spot on the team's "COVID list," bringing the total up to eight sick Seahawks. The NFL already postponed Sunday’s game between the Seahawks and the Los Angeles Rams until Tuesday afternoon due to more than 20 Rams players landing on its COVID-19 list.
At least we have no safety net: Although Omicron continues to tighten its grip, the U.S. has recently stripped many of the pandemic protections that kept people afloat. On Sunday, Democratic Senator and absolute gremlin Joe Manchin told Fox News that he cannot vote to continue Build Back Better, a $2 trillion social and environmental bill. The AP reported that White House press secretary Jen Psaki called Manchin’s announcement “a sudden and inexplicable reversal in his position” even though this seems very explicable given the dude’s history.
Biden is out here ending his texts to Manchin like: “no worries if not!”
— David Stein (@DavidpStein) December 19, 2021
Jayapal on the beat: Seattle’s very own Rep. Pramila Jayapal, the chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, had this to say about Manchin:
“Senator Joe Manchin made a promise to President Biden to support a framework that would help lower health care costs, cap the price of insulin and other prescription drugs, lower child care costs for Americans, address the climate crisis, and give working people and poor people a shot in America. Today, Senator Manchin has betrayed his commitment not only to the President and Democrats in Congress but most importantly, to the American people. He routinely touts that he is a man of his word, but he can no longer say that. West Virginians, and the country, see clearly who he is.
“The American people want and deserve to have their critically important daily needs addressed. That is why all the elements of the Build Back Better legislation are overwhelmingly supported by Americans across the political spectrum. We will never stop fighting to truly build back better for the American people. Too much is at stake.”
More bad news: In an incredible strategy headed into midterms, the Biden Administration will start up student loan payments in February 2022 after an almost two-year pause under Trump. Closer to home, The Seattle City Council voted to end hazard pay for grocery workers, which would cut incomes by 20% for some even as the hazard definitely continues. Sure, grocery stores should pay a living wage, but as one grocery worker told me, their bosses are not interested in doing what’s right unless it is mandated.
Coming this week: Seattle’s Christmas evictions! As we all know, Christmas is a time to really stick it to the poor and vulnerable, and so the city will celebrate the holiday in a traditional fashion by destabilizing the housing of people whose housing is already unstable as it is. Sweeps are scheduled for today through Christmas Eve around Green Lake, and will include RVs — some of which may not be running, which means occupants have no way of moving them with such little notice. Below-freezing temperatures are predicted by the end of the week. "Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge.
Tomorrow is when the city plans to sweep both the tents & RVs in Green Lake and Lower Woodland park, all during Christmas week.
Pls contact @SeattleCouncil, @MayorJenny, & @KCCouncil urging that they postpone this sweep until resources can be equitably offered to RV dwellers https://t.co/7sctg5Q3lP pic.twitter.com/Nx0DtiFkeN
— Alycia Ramirez (@AlyciaRamirez3) December 19, 2021
These schools, man: Teachers, students, and parents at Monroe School District are not happy.
Amid calls for his resignation over his handling of racist incidents and allegations of workplace bullying, the Monroe school superintendent was placed on leave today. The district will hire a third-party investigator. https://t.co/bUUKUsfsYI
— Jake Goldstein-Street (@GoldsteinStreet) December 18, 2021
Chile swings left: A 35-year-old student leader has defeated a right-wing Trump clone in Chile’s presidential election. Gabriel Boric has promised to bury neoliberalism and to move the country away from the legacy of Chile’s brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet.
Saturday Night Live was most of those three things: A deeply uncomfortable holiday episode of SNL featured a cast of just five people introducing clips and pre-recorded packages. "Thank you for coming," said host Paul Rudd. "I'm extremely disappointed."
Here’s a fun, safe, family-friendly New Year’s party: The Seattle Aquarium will celebrate the New Year a little early, next Friday starting at 11:30 am — yes that’s right, ante meridian. A livestream of music and fish will welcome the impending new year.
Feeling generous this holiday season? There’s no shortage of worthy queer causes to which you might toss some extra cash. There’s a group that’s fundraising to open a new LGBTQ+ shelter in New York; or if you’d like something closer to Seattle, Lambert House and Gender Justice League could always use your support.
A handy tip for anyone updating their bedroom: Look, not every news item has to be hard-hitting. Sometimes it’s just nice to know where you can pick up a new pillow on the cheap.
Hackers have come for your cream cheese: A fall cyberattack on one of the country’s biggest cream cheese producers has resulted in a nationwide shortage. Even though cheese processing resumed in late October, they’re still struggling to make up for lost time. It seems like every time I (Matt) go to the grocery store, some random section is just EMPTY save for a couple apologetic signs. What will we run out of next, I wonder?
Just a reminder, there’s no Farmers Market next weekend: They’re taking the week off. Go rest up, local producers! See you in 2022! We'll just busy ourselves reading this helpful article in the meantime.
Sausage fest plagued by Satanic panic: You owe it to yourself to read this fabulous account of how a sausage peddler in Leavenworth, WA got so mad about being denied a prime spot in the annual winter festival that he wrote a Facebook rant about Satanic forces overtaking the town. Those forces? A group called “Krampus Seattle” that basically consists of a bunch of fun nerds wearing cute traditional European Christmas-monster outfits. Oh small town politics, never change.