She used to own an ice cream shop in Pike Place Market. During the mid-70s, she was a schoolteacher in New Jersey. And today, the 16-year Seattle City Council veteran, Jan Drago, announced that she will indeed be challenging her former political ally, two-term Mayor Greg Nickels, for his job. Drago said that Nickels has done "nothing" for the city.
She said that while she agrees with Nickels on nearly every major issue, she will be different.
On Friday Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a payday loan reform bill into law which effectively lowers the astronomical interest rates charged for these loans to a somewhat less gargantuan rate, at least for some people, it all depends on when you get paid.
The new law lowers the interest rate payday lenders can charge by extending the length of the loan, for some borrowers.
For some reason I thought this week in Seattle politics would be interesting. I was wrong.
On Monday, the almost always non-partisan City Council unanimously passed all of the bills, resolutions and appointments brought before the full council.
Next year's budget is expected to be $70 million short, so the City Council passed a resolution defining the Council's budget priorities in terms of what to preserve and what to cut.
Former Police Chief Gil Kerlikowske is now President Barack Obama's drug czar. The 36-year law enforcement veteran ran the Seattle Police Department for eight years. His nomination to become the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy was approved today by the U.S. Senate.
Kerlikowske's last day in charge of the S.P.D. was last Friday. Seattle Deputy Police Chief John Diaz is the city's interim chief, and according to a report in The Seattle Times, Diaz will seek to fill Kerlikowske's shoes permanently.
All four Democratic candidates running for King County Executive were present and accounted for tonight in Renton for the kick-off of the 2009 debate season.
In alphabetical order the candidates are King County Council Chair Dow Constantine, State Rep. Ross Hunter, State Sen. Fred Jarrett and King County Councilmember Larry Phillips. The two Republicans running didn't attend the debate, because, well, the King County Democrats Central Committee that sponsored the event didn't invite them.
If you're interested in who's running for the City Council this year, and you should be, stop by the Metropolitan Democratic Club tomorrow at 5:30 p.m.
The jam-packed race for City Council position eight just got a little more so today as Bobby Forch, 53, announced his intention to run.
City Council position eight is currently filled by Richard McIver, but he's not going to run for re-election. Forch isn't yet listed on the Seattle Election's Web site, but his candidacy makes him the sixth contender for McIver's open seat.
Thanks to a bill signed into law today by Gov. Chris Gregoire, homeowners and renters will have a bit more time to before the bank foreclosures on their home. The new law requires that banks give owners 30 days notice before foreclosing. If there are renters in the building, the new owners must give tenants a written notice and 60 days to move out.
Tyrone Love was a party promoter and community worker, just going to the store in February, when he was shot six times and killed in what is remains an unsolved murder. He and fellow promoter Chukundi Salisbury had been supporters of the Silent War campaign, an effort to encourage citizens to turn in violent criminals, and Love's death became another example of what they had been fighting to stop. Moreover, for Salisbury his work transformed from service to his community into an effort to "bring the outrage back."
It isn't what you might expect to hear from a community organizer. It sounds harsh and negative, but Salisbury believes it's what communities need for change.
And then there were five. This week, Eastside Democrat State Rep. Ross Hunter announced that he's running for county executive.
The retired Microsoft executive and current state representative is now the fifth candidate to join the race to fill Ron Sims' open position. President Obama tapped Sims to be the deputy secretary of the Dept. of Housing and Urban Development.
In the back parking lot of St. Mark's Cathedral on 10th Avenue E., overlooking Lake Union, the nearly one hundred members of Tent City 3 have taken up temporary residence. Their blue tarps flap in the breeze like baseball cards in bicycle spokes, but otherwise the camp remains quiet and inconspicuous.
Since its founding in 2000, Tent City 3 has moved every one to three months to various locations throughout King County. It is an integral part of Seattle Housing and Resource Effort and the Women's Housing Equality and Enhancement League. These non-profit organizations help organize and manage tent cities as well as 17 indoor shelters.
It's the conversation that seems will never end.
I guess it started in 2001 when the Nisqually earthquake rattled our cage and the Alaskan Way viaduct wheezed and sagged. Perhaps it should have started back in 1989 when 42 people were crushed under the Cypress Viaduct in San Francisco's Loma Prieta quake. But here we are, eight years into this discussion and debate over what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct and who should pay for it.
Stimson Bullitt died on Sunday. The former president of King Broadcasting Co. was 89. A Navy World War II veteran and University of Washington graduate, Bullitt was politically connected and politically active. He was on President Richard Nixon's so-called "enemies list" for his criticism of the Vietnam War.
There's a public forum scheduled for 5:30 p.m. this Wed. at City Hall to discuss Mayor Greg Nickels' proposed budget cuts.
Facing a worsening recession, Nickels has had to find more $13 million in budget cuts this year. While the 2009 budget cuts are up to the mayor's discretion, next year's budget - already projected to be $40 million short - Nickels will need to work with the City Council on what to cut.
The Seattle City Council chamber was unusually crowded this morning. More than a dozen people signed up to speak about Mayor Greg Nickels' $13 million in budget cuts, most were concerned about the impact on the library system.
Under Nickels' proposal all of the Seattle libraries will be shut down for a week this summer to save about $650,000.
A handful of reporters gathered on the seventh floor of City Hall this morning to hear how Mayor Greg Nickels plans to balance the budget now that forecasters are predicting that the city's revenue will drop another $29 million this year.
But the process this morning was a little backwards. The way it worked was that first Nickels held a press conference, then afterwards, reporters were told what the mayor plans to cut from the budget.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels' staffed briefed the City Council today on about $6 million in budget cuts to make up for a drop in projected real estate excise tax revenue this year.
There is no source of money to cover this loss, said Dwight Dively, the city's budget director. The 2009 budget was passed during much more prosperous times -- last year. While REET revenue has been averaging about $40 million annually, it's now at about $20 million.
If Initiative 99 makes the ballot and voters approve it this November, it will make it illegal for the City of Seattle to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep-bore tunnel, forcing lawmakers to go back and determine another plan to replace the aging bridge.
Elizabeth Campbell is the sponsor of the initiative, and as reported last week, a not-yet-official candidate for mayor. She said the tunnel is too expensive and would take too long to build. Campbell believes lawmakers have drawn out the process because they don't want to just build another bridge.
Elizabeth Campbell, sponsor of anti-Alaskan-Way-Viaduct-tunnel Initiative 99, says she will announce her bid for mayor at the end of this month.
"I will announce between the 24th and 29th," Campbell said. "Right now I am working out all the logistics and details. When I announce you'll know what I stand for."
Mayor Greg Nickels is still holding tight to the hope that the federal government will grant Seattle the $50 million needed for the Mercer Street project, he said at a press tour of South Lake Union today.
Nickels said the Washington State Department of Transportation won't let go of the funds he's after because the money is supposed to support state highways exclusively.
After years of planning, the demolition of buildings on the corner of Broadway and East John hails the start of construction of the Capitol Hill light rail station, and yesterday, City Council members met to debate the still incomplete plans for a $140 million streetcar serving First Hill and Capitol Hill.
"I really question the financial wisdom of building a streetcar network when we could expand metro transit significantly for far less," Councilmember Tom Rasmussen said as he entered the meeting.
Well the Seattle City Council is back to where they were two months ago regarding the Mercer Corridor project money, well, sort of.
If you remember, in late February the City Council voted to lift the spending restriction, called a proviso, on the Mercer project funding, even though the city didn't have enough cash to complete the South Lake Union transportation, or depending on who you talk to, beautification project.
The purpose of the proviso is to prevent the city from starting a project that it can't complete.
A proposed ballot measure could make running against local politicians, like fundraising-all-star Mayor Greg Nickels, easier.
Seattle City Council members decided to support the re-introduction of publicly-funded elections, after an advisory committee suggested that new donation trends could be giving wealthier donors more influence with local candidates.
The battle over "green fees" will continue at least through the summer as an ordinance approved this afternoon by the Seattle City Council will put the issue to voters.
Though news cameras were in the council chambers, today's ordinance approval was merely "a ministerial action," according to Council President Richard Conlin.
In a special meeting today, the Seattle City Council Transportation committee approved a measure to reverse a council vote last month to release the money to get started on the Mercer Corridor project.
A bare-bones transportation budget was announced Wednesday by top-ranking Senators on the State Senate's Transportation Committee. The focus of the budget is to keep afloat high profile projects, such as the Alaskan Way Viaduct, the 520 projects and the ailing ferry system.
The state is facing a $514 million transportation shortfall for the 2009-11 biennial budget. The decline of funds is because the state gets the majority of its revenue for transportation projects from the state gas tax.
Seattle City Council candidate Peter Holmes announced today he's going to drop out of the council race to challenge two-term Seattle City Attorney Tom Carr instead.
As the former chair of the Seattle Police Department's internal investigation team, Holmes repeatedly butt heads with Carr over government transparency.
The Seattle City Council Parks and Recreation committee met yesterday to appoint members of the Parks and Green Spaces Levy Oversight Committee and to review upcoming plans on how to spend Parks Levy funds.
Yesterday, the Seattle City Council unanimously approved an additional $150 fee for anyone busted hiring a prostitute. The money will go to pay for a "john school," a program aimed at educating patrons of prostitutes about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and other negative consequences of engaging in the sex trade.
City Attorney Tom Carr is credited with recommending the new john school, but Councilmember Nick Licata said that he's been working on setting up a program to counsel offenders in Seattle for years and that Carr opposed the idea in 2005.
Supporters and journalists crowded into a neighborhood pizza joint on Capitol Hill today to hear Michael McGinn announce his candidacy for mayor. McGinn is the first and only candidate to step up to challenge two-term Mayor Greg Nickels.
Taking questions from behind a row of tables draped in checkered table clothes, McGinn said Seattle needs more effective leadership, leadership that seeks community involvement.
Prostitution and the Mercer Corridor project will be up for debate this week in the Seattle City Council.
Councilmember Tim Burgess wants anyone busted for patronizing a prostitute charged an additional $150 fee to cover the cost of john school to educate johns on the evils of prostitution.
No matter how you slice or dice the numbers Washington's economy is going to get worse before it gets better, according to a report today by the state's Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.
"We are witnessing an unprecedented economic crisis the likes of which, arguably, we have not seen since the Great Depression," ERFC Executive Director Arun Raha said during the quarterly revenue review in Olympia with legislators and the press. "That's not to say we're heading there, not by a long shot, but number two is not great either," he said while explaining his latest economic forecast showing a much weaker state economy than was predicted just a few weeks ago.
A Facebook group played a key role in convincing former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck to consider a run for mayor.
Though no one has officially stepped up to contest incumbent Mayor Greg Nickels, social networking sites are already becoming important tools for gathering support.
Staring down the barrel of a 277 page executive report from the mayor's office Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark, chair of the Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee, began the first committee discussion of the MultiFamily Code Update yesterday.
The most divisive element of the report centered on incentive zoning, which allows for certain multifamily zones to have taller structures if the construction is labeled green or provides affordable housing.
At a press conference this morning in Olympia, Gov. Chris Gregoire announced Washington's new $5 million online sex offender database to track the whereabouts of the 18,136 sex offenders living here. Well, the system actually knows the location of 13,254 convicted sex offenders, leaving 4,882 unaccounted for.
It's time for another exciting week in Seattle politics. The most interesting developments will be on Wednesday when a special full City Council session is scheduled for 2 p.m. to discuss a bond issue, and at 9:30 a.m. Sally Clark's Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee will meet to hear recommendations from Mayor Greg Nickels' office on proposed changes to the multi-family zoning code.
In Olympia, the state Senate passed a bill Wednesday to move forward on securing state funding to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel that Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels proposed this past January.
"We have a plan and it's time to move forward," said the bill's sponsor Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle.
After weeks of delays and public testimony, the Seattle City Council voted Monday to approve changes to the city's noise ordinance.
"The whole goal of the legislation is to strengthen enforcement of the ordinance," Councilmember Sally Clark, chair of the Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods committee, explained as she introduced the council bill.
Washington state Rep. Ross Hunter, D-Bellevue, wants to start taxing streaming online videos.
Hunter told the Seattle Times that watching a video online should be no different than renting a video at a video store, therefore, it should be taxed.
So what's happening this week in Seattle politics? Apparently not much. Aside from the full City Council meeting today, which may or may not involve changing the noise ordinance, almost all of the City Council committee meetings have been canceled.
Microsoft billionaire Paul Allen has lots of friends in Seattle. Why wouldn't he, he's a billionaire? Council member Jan Drago has been Allen's point-person in the City Council, and Mayor Greg Nickels his goto-guy in the executive. To see the results, just look at South Lake Union, where Allen's Vulcan Inc is redeveloping 60 acres of commercial and residential real estate.
So what really happened? Did Mayor Greg Nickels and Seattle Councilmember Jan Drago know that the Mercer Project was not on the list to receive federal funding before the City Council voted on Monday to remove the spending restriction, releasing the available funds to get the two year project going? Or were Nickels and Drago as dumbfounded as everyone else when the Mercer Project didn't make the cut?
Tree activists applauded yesterday when the Seattle City Council voted to make it illegal for most homeowners and businesses to cut down a tree - well actually three trees a year - without a permit.
On Monday, the City Council will discuss and possibly vote on modifications to the noise pollution ordinance that if passed will allow large construction projects, such as replacing the Alaska Way Viaduct and the Mercer Mess, to operate outside of the current noise restrictions.
Last year Washingtonians gave the state $65 million in unclaimed earned income tax credits.
To help raise awareness for the tax credit, Gov. Chris Gregoire last month said that January 30 is "Earned Income Tax Credit Day."
In Olympia, Senate Democrats are working on a bill that its sponsor says will provide much needed transparency and accountability in Washington's Retrospective Rating program. Republicans claim the bill is an attempt by Democrats to silence the Building Industry Association of Washington which has used money from the program for partisan political advertising, rather than workers' safety.
On March 10, in Ballard's Nordic Heritage Museum, the Port of Seattle Commission will meet to discuss what to do with the net sheds at Fishermen's Terminal.
The Port maintains that the terminal net sheds are cluttered to the point of being hazardous to users. Some fishermen, however, feel that the Port's plan to clean out the net shed gear lofts is a way to put the squeeze on them, perhaps getting them to move out.
It's a confusing issue. And according to Council President Richard Conlin, it's the oddest thing he's ever seen the council have to deal with.
The City Council voted today to pass a series of bills that will give Seattle water utility customers a refund, a refund that they will then have to give back over the next 21 months.
At the Rainier Vista Boys and Girls Club today, Mayor Greg Nickels said Seattle is "strong." In his annual state of the city speech Nickels said crime is down, massive public works projects will create thousands of jobs and the city is the envy of the world in terms of being green.
The mayor didn't mention the gaping budget deficit the city is staring at, nor the 40 percent increase in rape from 2007 to 2008. He did however mention the senseless youth murders, which claimed yet another life yesterday in the Central District.
Today is a federal holiday to honor the birthday of President George Washington. It's designated as "Washington's Birthday" in section 6103(a) of title 5 of the United States Code. You can call it President's Day if you want to, but let's be honest, are all presidents really worth celebrating? Mattress sale.
As the economy continues to flounder in recession, politicians in the other Washington and in our own Olympia continue chattering about economic stimuli, yet more and more people are looking for help with one of life's most basic needs - food.
The bill that passed the Senate with bipartisan support yesterday to increase weekly unemployment benefits will not only provide direct assistance to the burgeoning jobless population in the state, say supporters, but it will also inject $193 million of stimulus into Washington's economy in recession.
A Seattle City Council committee met this morning to move forward on a plan to increase your water bill.
In Olympia this morning the Senate voted 43 to 4 to temporarily increase weekly unemployment checks by $45 from May 3 to Jan. 3 next year. And for those currently collecting the minimum amount of $129 a week, they'll see a permanent $26 bump.
The Seattle City Council Planning, Land Use and Neighborhoods committee met this morning to discuss creating new regulations regarding the condition of rental housing in Seattle.
The Seattle City Council's Culture, Civil Rights, Health and Personnel committee voted today to move resolution 31111, supporting universal health care, out of committee for a vote by the full council.
Jordan Royer announced today that he will be running for Position 8 on the Seattle City Council.
In Olympia today the Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony today on whether to abolish the death penalty. While committee chair Sen. Adam Kline said this is a contentious issue, no one testified in favor of keeping the death penalty.
In an effort to slash government spending, Gov. Chris Gregoire has recommended that more than 150 boards and commissions be eliminated, and she herself, through executive order has immediately axed more than 50 of them.
It looks like no one wants North Highline.
The cities of Seattle and Burien were supposed to work out a deal in which North Highline becomes part of Seattle, but there is no political will in the Seattle City Council to make that happen.
With unemployment rates hitting record levels, organizations like Seattle's Union Gospel Mission and Northwest Harvest are struggling to keep up with the influx of people who need their help.
The Seattle City Council's Planning, Land Use, and Neighborhoods Committee convened a special meeting today to carry out its final actions on the proposal to rezone the land on S. Dearborn Street. The committee also discussed development standards for Fire Station No. 30 on South Mount Baker Boulevard.
The atmosphere was tense, the temperature hot and the crowd an uneven mix of vitriol and hope at today's House Bill 1727 public hearing. Openly gay Representative Jamie Pedersen introduced the bill, which if passed provide all of the benefits of marriage to Washington State's domestic partners.
The Seattle City Council's Budget and Finance Committee met today to discuss a proposed utility tax increase stemming from a court order to refund former taxpayers. According to estimated calculations by Seattle Public Utilities, the total cost could amount up to $23 million, with $15 million in customer refunds.
Along the West Wall of Fishermen's Terminal on a sunny Saturday afternoon late last month, Pete Knutson was sitting, as he does almost every weekend from Thanksgiving to May, on a large wooden dock stringer in front of his boat Njord selling salmon. Sadie, Pete's beagle-mix pup that doesn't like to have her head touched, was curled into a tight ball on his lap, and seagulls cried overhead, dipping and weaving in the afternoon breeze.
President Obama sent an e-mail on Monday to once again warn of the growing national economic crisis, and to repeat a familiar theme, "The time for action has come."
The Seattle City Council Transportation Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss several transportation issues, including the Mercer Corridor Project.
The Seattle City Council Transportation Committee met Tuesday morning to discuss a number of transportation issues, including Sound Transit Link Light Rail System fares.
Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the homeless advocacy group, Seattle Housing and Resource Effort, are currently embroiled in a battle over $50,000 that the mayor yanked from the group's funding.
In today's open session the Seattle City Council members outnumbered the public attending the meeting when they gave the Seattle Storm a discounted 10-year lease at Key Arena and a promise of $300,000 annually.
Last November King County voters approved a series of amendments to the county charter. One of those changes was to have a non-partisan elected director of elections, instead of one appointed by the King County executive. On paper, the new director of elections position is non-partisan, but the influence of machine party politics is evident.
The Alaskan Way Viaduct will turn 56 this year. While it's widely agreed that it's time for the old girl to go the way of the buffalo, the only consensus among those involved in planning a replacement seems to be that actually reaching a consensus is tricky business.
Barack Hussein Obama took the oath of office of the President of the United States today. With his left hand on President Lincoln's Bible, it was a few minutes past noon in Washington, D.C., Obama was uncharacteristically nervous as he fumbled through the oath, at one point just before saying the "office of the President of the United States" he froze as if he himself couldn't believe what he was about to say.
Thousands gathered at Garfield High School this morning to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. But this year Dr. King had to share the stage with President-elect Barack Obama.
The 61st Washington State Legislative session is scheduled to begin on Monday. The most pressing issues facing the legislators are the usual suspects such as education, health care, jobs, transportation and prisons, but underlying each of these agenda items will be the budget, more specifically the $6 billion deficit.
January 2009 is shaping up to be one of the most exciting political months in a long time. Putting aside for a moment that the first black president is set to take control of the government that faces the worst economic turmoil since The Depression, two wars, global warming and Israeli attacks in Gaza, but you don't have to look at the other Washington to see something's going on here, just look at our own situation right here in Washington state.
After years of being vacant, the old QFC building on Broadway is gone. But if everything goes as planned, in the next 27 months, a six-story, 295-unit apartment building with 26,000 square feet of retail on the first floor will be erected in its place.
While there's been some scrutiny in the media and by the Seattle City Council regarding the dozen or so video cameras Mayor Nickels is planning to install in Seattle city parks, no one seems to have a problem with King County Metro installing more than 2,800 video cameras on select city buses.
If you're sick of ugly townhomes popping up in your neighborhood? There's a meeting tonight and one on Saturday in which builders will be meeting with councilmember Sally Clark to discuss how to build better looking townhomes.
Most people weren't paying attention in February when Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels had three video surveillance cameras installed at Cal Anderson Park. The mayor did so despite efforts by the Seattle City Council to stop the mayor from putting the cameras in the park. Now the mayor is asking the council to lift its ban on installing video cameras in parks because he wants to expand the surveillance program to three more parks.
On the corner of John and Summit there's a parking lot, some residents on the Hill would like to turn it into a community garden.