#Resign

Dear Mayor Murray, 

This is not the letter I wanted to write. My hope after you dropped out from your bid for re-election - and took ownership and apologized for the way in which you lashed out following the publishing of the D.H. v. Murray lawsuit - was that it would be over, and we could move on. While others called for your immediate resignation, I didn't go that far. 

Your tenure as Mayor has been better than I think people give credit. Passage of the Seattle Minimum Wage, secure scheduling, steps on police reform, opening up the idea of pre-school for all Seattle kids, ramping up investment in transportation infrastructure, buying back cut Metro hours. These were all pretty major lifts. Personally, I was honored to work with you and your team to completely reshape how we fund parks in Seattle, and two years after that, to manage the campaign doubling Seattle's Housing Levy - achieving an unthinkable 70.6% yes vote on an August ballot. I still have the pen from the signing ceremony for the Seattle Park District. 

That's not to say you didn't have your flaws as Mayor. As you told me, you did not care for my very open criticism of your administration's handling of homelessness with the sweeps policy that was ineffective at finding adequate housing for so many of our neighbors. But Pathways Home has some promise, and taking the politically risky move of delving into contracts with Human Services is a good move (so long as it's not a pure numbers metric the city opts to use to determine "best practices" - as you know, the human element in Human Services does not do well with a strictly quantitative approach). 

But these accomplishments will be forever overshadowed. And, unlike Mike Lowry, I'm not sure you'll have the same long-term stature that would otherwise accompany your legislative legacy - both as a productive and effective Mayor, and a productive and effective State Legislator. It isn't just the headline - "Seattle Mayor Ed Murray sexually abused foster son, child-welfare investigator found in 1984" - but the response and the path to this point that I fear will tarnish your record forever. 

Through your attorneys, you are attempting to discredit a system designed to protect children. That your attorneys, ostensibly with your consent, would stoop so low as to imply that children are believed too often is terrifying. But looking further at the information from the 1984 case file - we see that you took a polygraph, and then refused to release the results; that you were aware the investigation was happening; that shortly after the investigation concluded with a result of "founded," and you being permanently barred from fostering children in Oregon, you left that state for Seattle. You claim now that you never knew the outcome, but that is incredibly difficult to believe - a D.A. was involved, you had an attorney involved, and notice is a requirement now as it was then. You chose then not to appeal the finding. And now you and your team has decided you want to re-litigate the matter in the press here in Seattle. 

While your supporter Council Member Bruce Harrell has stated that people shouldn't be judged by what they did "33 years ago," child sexual abuse is a pretty major thing. By that metric, should Bill Cosby not be judged for rapes he committed 33 years ago? Or maybe the Green River Killer got a bad rap - I mean, who are we to judge what he was doing so long before he was convicted. Or perhaps Dennis Hastert was wrongfully judged for sexually abusing kids in the 1970's? I guess I disagree - there are some things that judgment is appropriate - both for actions initially done, and the response once they are brought into the light.

There is also the assertion by other Council Members that it is reasonable for this to play out, and to be re-litigated well passed the statute set forth for administrative appeals. I must disagree. See, you are not just any person. You are the mayor of a major city. Whether you like it or not, you are also someone who has a now-public founded investigation of child sexual abuse. 

Your team's attempts to downplay a CPS finding is troubling. I'm not sure if we've ever talked about it, but my background includes work on cases representing children who had suffered significant abuse. This included the Estate of Tyler DeLeon - a case where a boy died from dehydration after systemic torture by his foster mother, and despite over 20 CPS referrals, referrals that were left "unfounded" because of the de facto standard being higher than preponderance of the evidence. The Carnation case, where, following a "founded" allegation, a girl was left to be tortured for two years with her father and stepmother, thanks to an overburdened system historically underfunded by our legislature (leading to the Bramm settlement, which I am sure you are aware of). Most devastating may have been the Estate of Summer Phelps - a girl who, despite numerous referrals and investigations by CPS, including a last-minute referral shortly before she died, was repeatedly abused and ultimately left to die in bathtub for the sin of peeing her pants. She was four. 

CPS is already hesitant enough to intervene, and the statements from your team do nothing but sow additional doubt in a system, and seek to imply that children in the foster system shouldn't have advocates. I'm not sure if you grasp or realize the harm this can do, or if you are blinded by your own self-defense, but it is incredibly unbecoming of someone who also has a history of being a civil rights leader. 

So we are left with a mayor with a founded allegation of sexual abuse of a child who asserts that founded allegations should not be believed - despite asserting that they should just a few months ago, when you said there was no founded allegation. Survivors of child sexual abuse now look to the Mayor's office, and see someone who is effectively getting away with it. And what's worse, having more and more powerful people in the political world spring to his defense. This is a heartbreaking moment for me, and so many others, and for what? To somehow work to "preserve" your legacy? 

The minute your legacy became more important than the well-being of children in abusive homes, you should have questioned your motives. At least, that's what I believe. Personally, I question myself all the time, and if I'm going in a direction of what's best for me winning out over what's best for the community, I try to roll back a bit and re-center myself. My experience in life - not the best childhood, not the best adolescence - is what shaped my personal desire to do good things - but those must be for the community, and designed to ensure more kids have better lives than I did. 

The sadness that I have from your actions, from seeing someone that I looked up to (with some similarities in political paths) is real. But the anger is also real. Your combative approach, and continued damage that your actions are doing to me as a survivor, and to others in our community, is abhorrent. They are disappointing. 

I know that you have stated that you will not resign. That you are adamant on finishing your term. So much "I" in your statements. But I'm not sure it's worth it. I'm not convinced that the reminder that men "get away with it," particularly men in power, is worth it. The staff of our city are amazing. We have outstanding department heads. Our city will be fine with someone else at the helm for the remainder of the year. In fact, it may be better - losing the cloud hanging over City Hall. 

I don't expect that you will listen - or even read to this point - but I agree with Council Member Lorena Gonzalez. It's time to resign. To leave what dignity with the office is left, and take what legacy you can still claim, without doing further damage to the city, or to your legacy. It is time. 

All of my Best,

Michael

#Labor Part 2

Things in life I expect by having opinions: people having opinions that differ. Things I anticipate when using snark as part of opinion making: people responding. With #Labor, I wrote briefly about my take on whether SPOG negotiations should be fully open, and why union contract negotiations, as a rule, should be kept private. The argument against public sector union negotiations being private is an argument that has long been used by Republicans - who are hell-bent on screwing workers and ending organized Labor.

This all stemmed from my notation that both the Stranger and Seattle Weekly chose this as an issue to endorse a candidate with a (recent) history of mistreating employees who are women and from communities of color, and a history of not showing up for work that he was paid for (in order to show up for photo ops), while dumping extra responsibilities on women of color, then taking credit for their work after the fact. So, imagine my (not at all) surprise when some folks came at me. 

Brett Hamil (who I'll see tonight at the Seattle Process with Brett Hamil - look into it!) started at me on Twitter with this:

Casey Jaywork (a phenomenal writer with Seattle Weekly) took issue with my snark tied into my position:

Over on Facebook, Heidi Groover (one of my favorite local journalists who I am convinced really dislikes me, for good cause, I'm sure) had this to say:

Considering my history of opinion making, I think it's pretty clear that I support disarming police officers. Generally, I also support the idea of setting up much of the response for things like racism, shooting people for no reason, etc., in the legislative branch, and have it be extra-contractual. With respect to contract negotiations themselves, I'm also very clearly on record stating that they should include the Executive and Legislative branches, as well as representatives from oversight groups and community organizations. From my conversations with Teresa Mosqueda, this is a position that she shares, and I think that is super important. 

But you know who else shares this position? 

Source: The Stranger

Source: The Stranger

So take from that what you will about consistency. The Stranger as a whole appears to be consistent (they endorsed Cary Moon), yet Groover is part of the dissent for Oliver. Seattle Weekly is #NobodyButNikkita, but uses Oliver's shared position with Mosqueda against Mosqueda in favor of the white dude. Hamil appears to be in the same boat as Seattle Weekly. These may well be end times, folks. 

But turning back to Labor negotiations more generally - people have asked the question: why is it so important for public sector (or any, really) union negotiations to be kept secret? In Tukwila, the school district is moving to require public negotiations in hopes that it will provide "an incentive for both parties" to come to agreement quicker. Some would say - isn't that a good thing?

If we lived in a world where all things are equal and public coverage was unbiased and both sides received equal coverage in print, on air, and online, maybe. But we don't live in that world. In education, people regularly express more concern about school as childcare than school as an education institution for their children. 

For DSHS workers (think CPS, APS, Western State Hospital), the ongoing dysfunction of departments due to lack of staffing and shitty wages and benefits for high-level degrees culminates in the public blaming the workers. It's not that the unions aren't out there trying to get the message out, but when the press (Edit: I should be clear that I mean some press, in particular larger outfits and television media) is (Edit: too often) more focused on what sells (the problems) than what we need (fixing the problems), there is a prejudice created in the minds of everyday people. In Seattle, we know that most people support significant zoning changes - yet the loudest voices are those who oppose them, backed by an editorial board at the Seattle Times (who - SHOCKER - is pretty anti-Labor). 

There is also the way that negotiations work. As noted, I come at this from having been at the bargaining table during my days with Group Health. For the last 12 years, I've worked in civil litigation (except for most of 2016, when I did campaign work as a kind of sabbatical). The first rule of negotiations: the first offer is meaningless. 

During my 1001 negotiations (which encompassed something like 50+ different job classifications, from Lab Assistants to Dosimitrists), the company came out with a wage offer that was garbage, a significant change to the benefit plan, and a few tweaks to continuing education for "low-skilled" workers. So we responded with a ridiculous wage demand in exchange for the benefit change, an increase to continuing education dollars for "low-skilled workers" (they wanted it cut completely), and some other tweaks to the contract (which was really long and included things like staggering of vacations during summer months - a necessary provision given some units only had two or three people working at a site). 

We were able to engage in meaningful negotiations because we were in private, and able to have frank discussions without fear of repercussions. There were jokes, there was yelling, and after eight months, we had a contract. Every member of our unit saw a pay increase each year of the contract. And, at the behest of our members, we negotiated a slight change to the health care plan that would, at no point during the time of the contract, outweigh the raise for any staff member (that was what I fought hardest for, representing some of the lower paid members of the bargaining unit who wanted (a) to participate in premium share, having seen our patients facing 17%+ premium increases, but (b) not wanting to get hosed in the process). 

For public sector unions, it's much the same. One of the biggest differences, however: education and training requirements for many government employees necessarily mean that their salaries are higher than the average salary of all workers (although, when directly compared with people in the private sector who do similar work, it is more common that government employees salaries and bonus potential are less). Due to that parenthetical, benefits are often better than the private sector. 

So the idea of bringing these out into the public realm during negotiations: it's a lot easier for management to sell "Hey, these people, working on your taxpayer dime, are being wholly unreasonable. Their salaries are already higher than so many taxpayers, and their benefits are better, and they're just greedy!" This is how Scott Walker screwed workers in Wisconsin, and how Republicans sell Right to Work For Less laws across the country, while working to break apart public sector unions. Making apples to screwdriver comparisons, because that's easy to do and easy to understand. Avoiding nuance is super easy. 

This extends beyond pay and benefits. Continuing education, for instance, is something that is contained in many union contracts, but could readily be sold that "well, for this person to do their job, there's no need for CE." But CE isn't just about doing a job - it's about improving ones' self, and affording people an opportunity to expand a skill set. Or staggering of vacations during the summer - sounds ridiculous at first impression to debate the language, but it is vital when we're talking about seniority-based systems where three people are in a specific site, and two stagger each week of summer, disallowing the third any time to take a summer week off with their kids. 

In civil litigation, we call this ER 408. The public part of civil litigation is trial, and you know what's not allowed during trial: any evidence or testimony regarding settlement negotiations. There is the recognition that doing so is prejudicial, and that is why, as a general rule, the details of settlement negotiations in civil litigation are kept private until a settlement is reached. Even when that litigation is against a government entity. 

I trust this answers why, broadly, I do not support public sector union negotiations going public. 

 

#Labor

The Stranger and Seattle Weekly are out with their endorsements. Generally, I think they're fine, even if I don't agree with all of them. Despite what people say, the folks behind these are thoughtful and intelligent local journalists who do their research. Yes, the Stranger makes jokes about the marijuana, and sure the Seattle Weekly's editor looks like he smokes a lot of the marijuana (fun fact: he doesn't), but the two editorial boards aren't idiots. (Although, both are touting the 25% number without actually, you know, providing a definition of what "affordable" means when we're talking 25% MHA. The 15 regular readers here know how annoyed I get when numbers without definitions like this are perpetuated).

Of course, as you read their endorsements, you'll see both endorsed Jon Grant. As noted in my Ballot Guide, I have concerns about Jon Grant and how he historically treats women and people of color. Another gem from the Office of Civil Rights complaint stemming from his tenure as ED of the Tenants' Union includes grievances and demands from staff, which included a demand that he "step down" due to his refusal to actually improve his behavior as a supervisor, particularly toward women and people of color (both the Stranger and the Weekly have these records). What we (as white dudes) do with our white privilege says a lot, and if Seattle Weekly and the Stranger want to look the other way at people who perpetuate racism and sexism through their actions, that is entirely their decision. 

But there is a theme that the two papers share. It seems that a sticking point for both is whether negotiations between the City of Seattle and the Seattle Police Officers' Guild (SPOG) should be open to the public. At the risk of being characterized as a SPOG tool - I don't think they should be, and the push for that is an extremely dangerous path to start down. 

SPOG sucks. 100% is awful. In 2015, neither Rob Johnson or I sought their support, because they are just the worst. Police in Seattle have a long history of being racist af. They should be disarmed, and there must be greater accountability and oversight of the department. As a rule, I believe that Labor must look out for the good of the community as a whole. That's how we got weekends, 40 hour work weeks, the end of child labor, and minimum wage and sick leave requirements. SPOG sucks at most of this. They have shown that they care more about themselves and protecting shitty cops that protecting and serving our communities. SPOG is absolutely terrible.

But Labor negotiations - that is an issue that is separate from what goes into those contracts. Having sat at the bargaining table on behalf of workers, as a member of UFCW 1001, I can attest that it is an intense process where issues of pay, continuing education, vacation staggering, types of schedules, workplace safety, benefits, retirement, etc. etc. etc. are hashed out. When I did it, we were in negotiations for something like 8 months. I've seen some contract negotiations extend for years. As private sector workers, we did have the threat to hold over our employer of a strike, and were ready to seek authorization if that was the direction we were poised to go. 

Law enforcement and fire departments are not allowed to go on strike. (In theory, teachers aren't, either, but teacher strikes are typically viewed differently - they're not public safety officials, after all). So time is on the side of the employer. But I'll come back to this. 

The concern that I hold regarding opening up negotiations is: where do we stop? Should the Fire Fighter negotiations also be open? Or what about Parks employees? The GOP loves this idea as applied to State Employee contracts - so if we open up contract negotiations to the public for SPOG, does that mean Seattle is ostensibly supporting it for all public sector unions? 

I get it - the Stranger and Seattle Weekly are not union shops. The Stranger even goes so far as to say we don't need more Labor folks on the Seattle Port Commission (last I checked, we haven't had a rank-and-file Union member on the Port Commission in...well, I don't know the last time we did) EDIT: This is not to say that I disagree with their endorsement in this Port race - I'm still undecided and there are many great candidates. But the broader point is the question about whether public sector unions should have labor negotiations in public And as one SECB member has pointed out - certain parts of Labor can be shitty on the environment (like, really really shitty) Some are really great. More should be great. So maybe they do support opening up contract negotiations and working to dismantle organized labor for government employees. I'll have to ask SECB members next time I see them. EDIT: An SECB member confirmed that the support of public sector union negotiations being public should be predicated on whether members of that union carry firearms, so not all public sector unions.

But I sure as hell don't. And with the ability to wait out the clock without providing pay raises or other changes, the City is in a better position over SPOG (if the City is willing to use it). The problem isn't that negotiations are "behind closed doors," the problem is a lack of will to stand up to SPOG during those negotiations. The litmus shouldn't be the beginning stages of dismantling public sector unions, rather who is going to work to serve on the right committees and take a firm stance during contract negotiations. 

Should negotiations with public safety unions include members from the Executive Branch, Legislative Branch, and representatives from community and oversight groups? I think that is very reasonable, if not only to ensure those last two are providing meaningful input to the first two on what needs to be in the contract for the safety of our communities. 

But taking steps that give anti-Labor GOP Legislators ammo to use against organized workers is not something I'm interested in. So on this, I will have to disagree with the good folks at the Stranger and Seattle Weekly as a tie breaker.  

 

EDIT: For those who missed it, I did a series on justice reforms: #YouthJail, #YouthJustice, #Freedom (or: #JusticeReform), and #CharleenaLyles (Or: #DisarmPolice)

#BallotGuide

My homies over at at Seattlish recently did a ballot guide. And, as they note, it is super easy for folks to do their own damn ballot guides instead of bitching about how other people's are wrong. They also use gifs. I can't figure out how to embed a gif in Squarespace, so I'm going to lead off with a picture:

Treason Gallery next to Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum is just...I am so fascinated by these being next door to each other.

Treason Gallery next to Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum is just...I am so fascinated by these being next door to each other.

SO, for fun, I'm going to do one in their fashion! There are areas wherein we agree, areas where we don't, and blah blah blah. So, the #Hashtag #Seattlish Style Ballot Guide:

Seattlish - the inspiration

Seattlish - the inspiration

MAYOR

YES - Cary Moon, Jessyn Farrell, Mike McGinn, Nikkita Oliver

 NO - Jenny Durkan

MEH - Bob Hasegawa

Cary Moon - As I've written previously, Cary is by far one of the smartest people running for mayor. She brings some of the most detailed plans to the table, and has an equity lens that is awesome. My concerns: as a rule, I am growing to dislike self-funded campaigns, and a lack of elective or significant managerial experience gives me pause. But she'd still be super dope as Mayor, and I think she would bring on staff people who know what's what. 

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Jessyn Farrell - I think I endorsed Jessyn (at least I'm listed on her website as such). Jessyn is badass, wicked smart, and a policy nerd on a lot of municipal issues. That's a good thing. She has elective experience (YAY!), but no managerial experience or high-level leadership in the House Democratic Caucus. But, she's showing she can raise money and be a solid progressive mayor. She's pretty much fantastic. 

Mike McGinn - I'm generally on team #BanAllMen. And I don't care for anything that even appears as pandering to groups I don't care for. But every fucking candidate is doing it, so I can't complain too much. Mike had a rough first go as Mayor, but really grew over time. He's since continued to be engaged in civic policy, and in supporting young progressive candidates. I'm pretty sure I endorsed him this go-around, as well, so there's that. He's good on the environment, good on transit and transportation, and I think would do much better this time around if elected. 

Nikkita Oliver - Nikkita and I had some back and forth earlier this year. She said something, I commented on what she said, she said she didn't say it, so I pointed to the two different places she said it in the transcript she said showed she didn't say what she said. That really annoyed the shit out of me. She also made a comment during a forum that we need to "protect the culture" in places like Ballard. I'm not convinced that white culture should be a top priority for protection in Seattle. But, she comes at this public service thing with a vision that seeks to elevate voices historically ignored. Her take on community councils (reinstating them, but with conditions on membership, and not with more power than other community groups) is spot on, and every candidate should be concerned about displacement and elimination of black communities in Seattle. She's a good candidate, and a good choice.

Jenny Durkan. - Not a fan. The Seattle Times calls her a "civil rights leader" because she's LGBTQ and was the first LGTBQ U.S. Attorney. But she used that to clamp down on civil liberties and pooh pooh marijuana legalization, has been pretty much awful on poverty issues in her campaign speeches, has no campaign platform or issues on her website (or didn't last I checked on June 30), and proves that just because you're LGBTQ doesn't mean your lefty. Her version of more progressive taxation: lower the B&O tax (not even reform - just lower). Seattle can do better. 

Bob Hasegawa - I really, really want to like Bob. But on policy after policy, he's either inconsistent, not informed, or just bad. Areas where he's solid: more homeownership opportunities through more housing types in all parts of the city; municipal bank; no more sweeps. Areas where he's less than good: prioritizing cars over bikes and pedestrians; giving power back to community councils without reform; waiting for a municipal bank to pay for the things we need (like more public housing, services for very low income folks, etc.). I'd pick him over Durkan, but he hasn't shown that he is prepared to take up some of the major issues facing our city. 

The other candidates for mayor are basically trash. Some mean well, but their policies and proposals would do nothing but harm the very low income in Seattle, or slash programs that keep our parks clean and our transit moving. 

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POS. 8

YES - Teresa Mosqueda, Hisam Goueli

NO - Charlene Strong, Sara Nelson, Jon Grant

MEH - Sheley Secrest

Teresa Mosqueda - Anyone who follows me on the Twitter or the Facebook knows that I am a big fan. Teresa is wicked smart, has a solid background (Labor and Public Health), and views public policy through a community lens, not a "I have the best ideas" lens. That's probably why she's scored endorsements from all of the LDs, the YDs, KCDCC, a shit ton of Labor, community leaders, affordable housing and tenant rights advocates, environmentalists, so on and so on. It's rare we get a chance to elect someone this phenomenal to the City Council, and I just hope Seattle doesn't fuck up this chance. 

BOOO! Be lame!!!

BOOO! Be lame!!!

Hisam Goueli - I really really want to hate Hisam. It's an open secret that if/when Frank Chopp retires, I want to run for that seat. There's a lot of policy issues that I believe I could be a strong champion for in Olympia. And Hisam is so fucking smart, engaging, and likable, that a part of me views him as a threat. But goddamn we are lucky to have him in this race and in our city. His approach to public policy from the perspective of ensuring all residents - regardless of income or status - have access to safe housing and services to meet their needs is so important. That level of empathy is not one we find often in politics, and I just hope that if he is unsuccessful this time around, he stays involved on the political side so he can spring into public policy making next time around. Even if that means kicking my ass. 

Charlene Strong - Nope. On the rare occasion she actually talks about public policy, it's anti-worker, anti-homeless, pro-SF zoning. Nope nope nope. 

Sara Nelson - I actually really like Sara, and have enjoyed many a time talking with her. But her opposition to secure scheduling, sick and safe leave, and view that businesses are what make our city great (missing that it's workers that make businesses work) is troubling. She's great on the environment and urbanist issues, but if we sacrifice worker protections, none of it matters. 

Jon Grant - Recently the Stranger ran a profile on the candidates in P8. Of note: "The toxic environment bred by an executive director who lacked leadership and accountability and by staff who refused to acknowledge their white privilege has made for a traumatic work experience." I can't talk about the specifics of anything, but here's the letter that's from (which is part of public record from an Office of Civil Rights Complaint). While some of Jon's defenders jump at this and say it's simply "office politics," I would note that Jon himself felt that Ed Murray should resign as mayor for statements he made that were victim-blaming and shaming in nature. Yet just a couple of years ago, Jon appears to have created a "traumatic work experience" for "members of...marginalized communities." Seattle deserves better. 

Sheley Secrest - Sheley is really cool. She has a perspective that would be nice on council, but, in her now fourth campaign, I haven't seen a serious campaign being run. That's why I'm editing this to add her - I honestly forgot she was in the race (and I gave her money! at least I pledged. Now I have to check to make sure I followed through). If she's unsuccessful this go-around, I hope she stays active and engaged, and builds up for State House, or D2 of the City Council in 2019. 

SEATTLE CITY COUNCIL, POS. 9

YES - M. Lorena Gonzalez

NO - Anyone else

Lorena Gonzalez - Lorena has already shown herself to be a powerhouse on the City Council - police reform, LGBTQ protections, affordable housing, etc. etc. And that's just in a year and half. A full term will clearly bring more amazing work from her office, and she has earned that term. 

Anyone Else - The main competitor to CM Gonzalez is Pat Murakami. I don't know Pat personally, but I do know from reading up on her that she has been a proponent of sweeps, opponent of safe consumption sites, and wants to give power for all decision making to neighborhood groups (that are dominated by older white folks). Her Campaign Manager appeared before the 43rd to talk about her desire for more diversity on the City Council - which I suppose is why Pat (a white lady) is running against a woman of color who has been pretty gd effective at getting shit done, and not for the open seat. To each their own, I guess. 

SEATTLE CITY ATTORNEY........

Wait...this isn't on your primary ballot. I have a trial starting Monday, so I'm going to skip this and King County Sheriff for now. I'm also going to skip the Port of Seattle races and King County Executive, because Seattle School Board is far more important. 

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, Dist. 4

YES - Eden Mack

NO - Anyone else

Eden Mack - Eden is intense. She knows the ins and outs of public education and the John Stanford Center, and has no qualms about doing her own research, not relying solely on what District staff says before making a decision. She's a co-founder of Washington's Paramount Duty, and her history of support for children and educators shows she'll be a strong advocate on the School Board. 

Anyone Else - I don't even know who else is running. But I do know they don't hold a candle to Eden. 

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, Dist. 5

YES - Zachary Pullin DeWolf, Andre Helmstetter

NO - Omar Vasquez

MEH - Alec something or other

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Zachary Pullin DeWolf - Zach is a good dude, and comes at public policy with a social equity lens. If elected, he would be the first out LGBTQ member of the School Board (Seattlish got this wrong - Cheryl Chow was the first known LGBTQ member of the School Board, just not out at the time EDIT: They got it right, I just missed the word "out"), and understands the challenges facing students who are, as part of a family, renters in Seattle. His long list of civic involvement informs me that he'll be an engaged and thoughtful member of the Board, and we will be lucky to have him. 

Andre Helmstetter - In 2009, Mary Bass was running for re-election for a third term. She was actually a pretty horrible School Board member, but had always managed to avoid the "throw the bums out" mentality. Kay Smith-Blum ultimately won that race, but in the primary, I initially supported Andre. Since 2009, he's only gotten better on policy as it impacts our schools, and would be a phenomenal Board member. I just wish I didn't have to pick between him and Zach. It's a tough choice, but either one will be a great addition to the board, and an improvement over the incumbent (who started with such promise, and just sputtered out). 

Omar Vasquez - I mean, this guy told one group that he supported Charter Schools, and another that he didn't. The guy lies, and when he's called out or criticized, shows a temperament that does not lend itself as evidence that he could be a good school board member. Blatant lying, shitty temperament, and support for Charter Schools? HARD PASS.

Alec ??? - I forget this guy's last name. This might not even be his first name. We had a great chat at the KCYD Endorsements Meeting. He'd be fine (better than fine?), but his campaign doesn't seem to exist. Update: His name is Alec Cooper, and he emailed me to let me know his campaign does exist, but has opted not to participate in the LDs and is otherwise focused on other groups. I believe this means readership of #Hashtag is up to 14. Also, I heard a rumor that Kay Smith-Blum likes him, so he gets elevated to "Meh+". 

SEATTLE SCHOOL BOARD, Dist. 7

YES - Betty Patu

NO - Chelsea Byers

Betty Patu - I <3 my homies at Seattlish, but here they really screwed the pooch. Betty Patu shows up every day for kids in Seattle, in particular kids in the parts of the city we have shit on for generations. The only woman of color on the School Board, with experience as a counselor in SE Seattle Schools (focusing on de-escalation over calling cops on black and brown kids), she brings a perspective that is so needed at John Stanford Center. Her life experience lends credence to her positions and understanding of immigrant communities, educators, students - she is exactly the type of Board member we want, and has served very well over the last eight years. She doesn't have a primary in the same way as other candidates, and is smartly waiting on the general to really push her campaign - and spending the interim focusing on her job

Chelsea Byers - I hear she supports Charter Schools, and she talks a lot about how we should make Seattle Public Schools focus education on tech jobs. STEM sounds great, but we need arts programs and support for families in low-income parts of the district. "Ed reform" in Seattle has historically left marginalized communities behind, and we can do better. In fact, in District 7, we have done better - we elected Betty Patu, and should do it again. 

#Freedom (or: #JusticeReform)

If you go on teaching people that life is cheap, and leave them to rot in ghettos and jails, they may one day feel justified in coming back to rob and kill you. Duh!
— Jello Biafra (Rob Now, Pay Later)

Today is the Fourth of July. In the United States, we celebrate the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain in the most American way possible: gorging on food and drink and blowing shit up. Some of us will point out that the United States, following the example of Great Britain, Spain, and France, treated Natives like garbage and stole land. Others will proclaim how proud they are of this country, despite that shit stick in the White House. 

But for over 2.3 million people in this country, today will be another day locked up in a prison or jail cell. We all know the statistics on those incarcerated: 40% black (despite 13% of the general population being black), and many people of color facing longer sentences for similar crimes to their white counterparts. 

There is also strong data showing that recidivism is pretty damn high. That we are doing such a shitty job with people in prisons that once we release folks, they come back at such high rates, is a damning statistic. 

Looking further, we see the "why" - 1 in 5 incarcerated individuals are in for drug offenses. In fact, less than 40% of our prison and jail population in the United States are people incarcerated for violent crimes against other people. Put another way: 62% of the 2.3 million people whom our country has decided should have no rights are being jailed for drug and property crimes. 

So what the hell are we doing? As a nation, we are failing communities through investment (and lack thereof). Through institutional racism, and greasing the squeaky wheel at the cost of poor kids, we have set up a system that undeniably withholds success from black kids. And when people do things to survive, we have a system that rewards punishment over support. Adding in for-profit private prisons, and we, as a society, are encouraging more incarceration. 

From there, we have put in place a system of legal financial obligations (LFOs) that makes restoration of basic rights that much more difficult. And sure, you can have a "job" while incarcerated, but be prepared for sub-minimum wages. in Washington, for instance, wages for prisoners ranges from $0.36 per hour to $2.70 per hour. So we crow about our successes for minimum wage workers when we vote for increases, yet we still are invoking the powers of slavery granted under the 13th Amendment. 

That isn't to say we're not making strides in Washington. The move to "Ban the Box" in housing and employment means more people will have a better chance at re-integrating into society following incarceration. Whether that's enforced - who knows. Released felons aren't exactly on the top of the list for politicians to give a shit about. 

But there are additional steps that I believe we can and should take to address recidivism, institutional racism, and create better outcomes. Some of the basics: stop jailing kids for non-violent crimes. Change sentencing guidelines for young people who are no longer minors. Stop killing young black people as an initial response to a crisis. Repeal I-200.

There has also been a push to eliminate out-of-school suspension in elementary schools, and it's showing great promise. In King County, the FIRS Program aims to provide a safe space for families to obtain services before there is a crisis in he household - and by all accounts, it's working. 

One thing I would like to see Washington do for older offenders (beyond banning private prisons): start treating them like people. While the 13th Amendment applies to the entire country, the 10th Amendment allows Washington to decide for ourselves if we think slavery in the name of "justice" is appropriate. And I do not believe it is

Folks are going to be incarcerated. But we can engage in systems to ensure more positive results once released. Job training and education in prisons that is high-quality, and through institutions that won't "give away" where the learning occurred. A minimum wage for all prison labor that reflects the area standards of wages. Instead of treating people who have committed crimes - in particular non-violent offenses - like garbage, and instead setting people up for success will yield more successes. Considering the disproportionate impact that jails and prisons have on communities of color, moving away from punishment to actual restorative justice can have longer-lasting effects that are net-positive for communities and families. 

I like to think we're on the right track. But there still remains a lot of work to do if we are truly going to claim we are a land of "freedom." If "freedom" isn't accessible to all communities, then it doesn't really exist. And a part of that change requires a re-imagining and re-structuring of our justice system. I like to think we can do it if we really give a shit. 

With that, the full text of Rob Now, Pay Later:

Some day, even the experts will figure out, that crime is not caused by rap music...or even my music, but by a power structure of self-absorbed property owners so brain dead and stupid they won’t even see that if you’re too goddamn greedy to pay taxes for schools and services, they’re not going to be any good any more!

And that uneducated time bombs are a very poor investment as a future work force.

And if you go on teaching people that life is cheap, and leave them to rot in ghettos and jails, they may one day feel justified in coming back to rob and kill you.

Duh!
— Jello Biafra

#RideBikes

Dear Jessica Lee,

I read your recent article in the Seattle Times. I would like to apologize in advance: at first I thought this was an opinion piece, so didn't pay much mind to it. While there are some solid opinion writers for the Seattle Times, there's also a lot of editorial page drivel. 

Then I realized that this is in the scope of the journalism section of the Seattle Times. And in this, we have a problem. 

Over the weekend, I saw your colleague Mike Rosenberg engaged in a Twitter discussion, justifying the expense of a subscription to protect reporter jobs at the Seattle Times. I've had similar conversations with Daniel Beekman. The fact is that a lot of the reporting staff at the Seattle Times is pretty solid (and Jim Brunner's weekend night-Tweeting is legendary). 

So imagine my dismay when I read a series of non-factual statements throughout your piece. I could go on and on about how these fictions do nothing but harm the progress on safe bike infrastructure, or encourage the notion that cars are our future, and the environmental impacts of such claims. But I just want to start with some facts. 

Right at the beginning you allow someone to spout a myth without fact checking. Last I checked, not a single downtown car lane has been set-aside for bikes only. Rather, when the 2nd Ave cycletrack was installed, at the insistence of drivers, a car lane was removed to make on-street parking. We could get into the efficacy of storage of personal property on public right of way, or whether public right of way is best reserved for moving people and goods, but that's a different conversation for a different day. And, if we're talking about facts, fact check one: False. 

What is troubling - you didn't even take the time to just stop right there and point out the falsehood of the statement. Instead, as a "TrafficLab" reporter, you took the statement of a random person as the gospel, and didn't take the time to actually see if that statement was true. I understand that the Seattle Times is cutting reporters left and right, but I would have thought that a simple trek along 2nd Ave would prove the point. 

Then, you go on to state that cyclists "don't pay gas taxes that fund a lion's share of road budgets." 

Where do I even begin? First - cyclists do pay gas taxes. Most cyclists own and use cars. While there are some die-hard bike-everywhere people, they are the minority of the cycling community. While we are making the best of it in a hostile environment, that environment remains car-centric, and we still have to take our kids to events, get groceries, or (God-forbid) leave the city to enjoy the region. So statement one (from you): False. 

Then there's how taxes are used. Ask around your newsroom (in fact - if you ever have a question on taxes or how taxes are spent, ask Brunner). Gas taxes, by constitutional amendment, are limited to state highways (and ferries - which are considered highways. Fun fact). Gas taxes don't go to city roads because they are constitutionally barred from doing so (of course, some city roads double as State highways, and there's an argument that some gas taxes may trickle to city roads, but far from the "lion's share"). Now, I would like to believe that the State could fund bike highways with gas taxes, but they don't. That you would even publish this as fact, and that no editor caught this, shows an anti-bike bias that is troubling. Statement two (from you): False.

Get those kids some licenses!!!

Get those kids some licenses!!!

Your article goes on to both lend credence to and dispel the notion of bike licensing. As you rightfully note: the cost of administering such a program would be significant. And what bikes would we license? Does my 14-year-old's bike get licensed? What about 4th graders? Or the people who don't ride regularly? 

Do we license pedestrians for the right to walk on sidewalks? Or if we're really talking about the cost of infrastructure, maybe we need to start licensing vehicles based on weight and tire size - factors that are much more determinative of road-wear. My fat-ass on my bike isn't what's causing the potholes, after all. That would be reserved to the cars and trucks and semis and buses. 

Property taxes and sales taxes pay for our infrastructure in Seattle, and the fact remains that cyclists pay for both, and regularly do so in the city. By continuing to spread the myth that cyclists somehow don't pay for infrastructure that (a) improves bicycle safety; (b) improves traffic flow for buses and cars; (c) indirectly improves pedestrian safety; and (d) encourages more cycling and less driving, doing a solid for our environment and kids' future, I fear you're doing more harm than good. 

But what's worse: spouting out statements that are 100% false as if they were factual, and doing so as a purported expert who is explaining things, is bad for journalism. I hope you will consider doing some basic fact checks in the future. The collective intelligence of our region does depend on it. 

All of my Best,

Michael