It’s McGinn and Murray; things could get ugly
Good morning, Seattle, you got a real mayor’s race on your hands now. Ed Murray, longtime lawmaker, bird-watching hobbyist, and a gay-rights champion dating back to his days as a Bobby Kennedy campaign volunteer, is headed for an autumnal showdown with Mayor Mike McGinn. It should be one spirited race–and,with a very good chance of turning downright nasty. These two political combatants really don’t like each other. Recall that Murray back in May told Seattle Weekly that if it came down to him and the McGinn, the mayoral race would be “the ugliest campaign Seattle has ever seen.” For his part, McGinn thinks Murray screwed the pooch in Olympia, in terms of bringing home transportation dollars to Seattle, while falsely clinging to a collaborative, let’s-all-get-along political persona. Seattle Weekly, 8-6-13.
Murray: What I’d do as mayor
State Sen. Ed Murray is taking nothing for granted but was talking Tuesday night of the “Day One” challenges if he defeats Mayor Mike McGinn in November. He is running ahead of McGinn after the first two“dumps” of primary returns from King County Elections, which showed the incumbent with only 27 percent of the vote. The first challenge: Pick a successor to Seattle Police Chief John Diaz. The police chief is a mayor’s most important appointment, with the success of a city government often hinging on how the two get along and work together. Murray said he will put together a transition team that would scope out performance in all city departments. He identified one place where he would make immediate changes — the Seattle Department of Transportation. Seattle P-I, 8-6-13.
Robinson racks up huge total in Bellevue Council race; incumbent Davidson fighting for his political life
Lynne Robinson took a huge lead in Tuesday results over longtime Bellevue City Council member Don Davidson and big-spending candidate Vandana Slatter in a three-way council race. Slatter, a political newcomer, held a narrow lead over Davidson, whose campaign suffered because of his illness. Robinson, chair of the Bellevue Parks Board, won 48 percent of the vote. Slatter had 26 percent and Davidson 25 percent. In the other City Council primary, incumbent Kevin Wallace and East Bellevue Community Council Chair Steve Kasner cruised to decisive victories over poorly funded candidates Bill Hirt and Jeffrey Talada. Wallace, a commercial real-estate executive seeking a second council term, took 46 percent of the vote to Kasner’s 42 percent. Seattle Times, 8-6-13.
Port of Seattle will tap tax revenue to help pay for tunnel
It took more than three years, but Port of Seattle commissioners Tuesday approved a plan to pony up nearly $268 million for the $3.1 billion state Route 99 Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement program. The port’s contribution will come from the taxes it collects from King County property owners. The current rate is just over 23 cents for every $1,000 of assessed valuation, so the owner of a $350,000 house pays nearly $82 a year to the port. The state Route 99 corridor is a vital freight route that parallels Seattle’s seaport, so in February 2010 the Port Commission adopted a “memorandum of agreement” with the state to provide up to $300 million for replacing the viaduct. The project includes a $2 billion highway tunnel. Tunneling is under way, and the tunnel is scheduled to open to traffic in late 2015. Puget Sound Business Journal, 8-7-13.
Auditor says state lost $40 million from late tolling on 520
The state lost $40 million from tolling the SR 520 bridge because the all-electronic system was nine months behind schedule, according to an Aug. 2 state Auditor’s report. In addition, project delays and issues creating the new system caused public confusion. On the plus side, the report noted that the state has collected $67 million through March 2013. Specifically, the report said the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) faced challenges managing a complicated project that involved collaboration across the department, where roles and responsibilities were unclear, including who made decisions, who was accountable, and how the vendor was to be managed. Bellevue Reporter, 8-6-13.
Backers of Columbia River Crossing push to revive project
A group of Columbia River Crossing supporters believe they’ve hatched a plan that could revive the controversial Interstate 5 Bridge replacement—with light rail—and without the approval of the Washington Legislature. In June, lawmakers in Olympia failed to commit their state’s proposed $450 million share of the project’s $3.4 billion plan. The CRC was declared dead as the Washington and Oregon governors almost immediately ordered the shutdown of the project. The Oregon Legislature had committed $450 million of its own earlier this year—contingent on Washington doing the same by Sept. 30. Now supporters are calling for the governors to reverse course and use Oregon’s money, combined with federal dollars tied to light rail, to salvage at least some of the beleaguered megaproject. Those involved in behind-the-scenes discussions say the result would build a new Interstate 5 bridge connected to an upgraded interchange at state Highway 14. But any other freeway improvements north of the Columbia River would wait until Washington puts up its own money. Planned interchanges in Oregon would move ahead. Vancouver Columbian, 8-6-13.
Klein, Blake lead race to succeed Koster on Snohomish council
Ken Klein and Bill Blake emerged Tuesday atop the five-candidate field competing for term-limited Republican John Koster’s seat on the Snohomish County Council.
Initial primary-night tallies showed Klein, a Republican, with about 31 percent of the 15,208 votes counted. Blake, a Democrat, had nearly 29 percent. The top two finishers advance to the Nov. 5 general election. The front-runner said he had been expecting a tighter race with fellow Republican Gary Wright. Though Wright was the fundraising leader by far, thanks largely to support from fellow real estate agents, he only managed about 24 percent of the vote as of Tuesday. County Council’s District 1 covers most of northern Snohomish County, including Marysville, Arlington, Stanwood, Granite Falls, and Darrington. The election is for a four-year term. The job pays about $106,000 per year. Everett Herald, 8-6-13.
Protesters slow, but don’t stop, megaload truck through Nez Perce tribal lands in North Idaho
A procession crept along Highway 12 just northeast of downtown Lewiston as the clock struck midnight. Filling the roadway was a piece of oil refinery equipment, weighing more than 300 tons, pulled by a big rig and led by dozens of law enforcement vehicles. Walking slowly alongside the shoulder and in chest-high sage grass were more than 50 protesters representing the Nez Perce tribe and environmental groups. For a second straight night, protesters attempted to block progress of the so-called megaload truck permitted by the state to haul the equipment along Highway 12 through Nez Perce lands. Though the truck eventually broke the line of protesters after more than an hour, tribal leaders called the demonstration a success. Tribal members expressed frustration Tuesday with both the Idaho Transportation Department and the U.S. Forest Service for authorizing the haul and not asserting the legal authority to halt it. Spokesman-Review, 8-7-13.
Macy’s and Kroger face Lilly Ledbetter veto fallout in Texas
A front-page piece in Tuesday’s Houston Chronicle (no link to paywalled copy, sorry) that shed light on how Macy’s and Kroger lobbied Gov. Rick Perry to put the kibosh on the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act is resulting in some public fallout for the companies. On Wednesday, the liberal group Progress Texas started an online boycott of Macy’s and Kroger, asking folks to sign on and refrain from shopping at the stores until they support “equal pay for equal work.” Citing the Chron’s story, Sen. Sylvia Garcia (D-Houston) followed hours later by announcing that she’s cancelling an appearance at the Macy’s at the Galleria. Garcia was set to kick off the 2013 the annual Texas sales tax holiday, according to her office. San Antonio Express, 8-7-13.
Eric Cantor, Paul Ryan headline Koch summit
Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), and New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez (R) secretly spoke to wealthy donors at the Koch brothers’ recently concluded summer gathering on the outskirts of Albuquerque. The 2012 vice presidential candidate and No. 2 House Republican are return participants to the twice-annual seminar, which also drew wealthy donors and conservative nonprofit leaders including American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brooks. Rob Tappan, a spokesman for Koch Industries, the chemical, oil and manufacturing conglomerate controlled by Charles and David Koch, confirmed that the brothers held the meeting but declined to comment on specifics. Politico, 8-7-13.
Luis Gutierrez: Immigration reform activist and Spanish TV star
All summer long, Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) has been drawing sizable and enthusiastic crowds at immigration rallies nationwide. From California to Nevada to Florida, the congressman from Chicago is received like a rock star: People cheer when he enters the room; they pump their fists and stomp their feet. And when he’s finished speaking, they press forward to get close to him, tugging at his shirt and refusing to leave until he agrees to have his photo taken with them. The contentious immigration reform debate in Washington has produced a steady stream of familiar faces—Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and John McCain (R-AZ) or President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-OH)—making familiar arguments. But among a huge segment of Latinos who get their news from Spanish-language media, Gutierrez is the face, the voice and the political force behind immigration reform, and has been for years. Washington Post, 8-7-13.
Op-ed: The Tea Party’s path to irrelevance
The Tea Party has a new crusade: preventing illegal immigrants from gaining citizenship, which they say is giving amnesty to lawbreakers. Judson Phillips, the founder of Tea Party Nation, recently told Politico that his members were “more upset about the amnesty bill than they were about Obamacare.” Tea Partiers often style themselves as disciples of Thomas Jefferson, the high apostle of limited government. But by taking the ramparts against immigration, the movement is following a trajectory that looks less like the glorious arc of Jefferson’s Republican Party than the suicidal path of Jefferson’s rivals, the Federalists, who also refused to accept the inexorable changes of American demography. James Traub, New York Times, 8-6-13.
To Think About
8 ways privatization has failed America
Some of America’s leading news analysts are beginning to recognize the fallacy of the “free market.” Said Ted Koppel, “We are privatizing ourselves into one disaster after another.” Fareed Zakaria admitted, “I am a big fan of the free market … But precisely because it is so powerful, in places where it doesn’t work well, it can cause huge distortions.” They’re right. A little analysis reveals that privatization doesn’t seem to work in any of the eight areas that vital to the American public and the economy. Paul Buchheit, The Contributor, 8-5-13.