Notes from today’s Council meetings

It was a four-meeting day. I’ll write on the Civic Arenas and Budget committee meetings separately, but here’s what happened in the Council Briefing and Full Council meetings (tl;dr: Sawant voted “no” on a bunch of things)

Council member Teresa Mosqueda kicked off International Workers’ Rights Week by noting that it will be a “week of action” with something new every day. Tonight was a Labor Town Hall, and tomorrow is, well, May Day. (stay safe out there tomorrow evening)

Council member Rob Johnson announced that May 7th will be the next “MHA Monday,” with a committee meeting during the day to review the proposed changes in District 2, and a public hearing in the evening.

This Wednesday, Council member Sally Bagshaw’s Finance and Neighborhoods Committee meets to continue its deliberations on the proposed new tax on large businesses. After spending their last two sessions understanding the revenue and spending plan, now they get down to business with issue identification.

This afternoon the Council voted to confirm the appointment of Faye Chess as Seattle’s newest Municipal Court Judge. It also voted to approve the appointment of Lisa Judge as the city’s first Inspector General for Public Safety, though Council member Kshama Sawant played spoiler for the milestone event in the city’s push for police accountability by voting “no” on the appointment. According to her comments, it wasn’t about Judge herself; it was her lack of confidence that the position of Inspector General will actually hold the police accountable, and will be accountable to the community instead of to politicians.

The big time-waster this afternoon was a resolution from Council member Sally Bagshaw extending an invitation to the National League of Cities to hold their annual meeting in Seattle in 2024 or 2025. Sawant again voted no, arguing that she doesn’t believe it’s a good use of public funds to support a “luxurious conference” where politicians “hobnob.” Council member Lorena Gonzalez also voted no over concerns that the financial commitment was unknown. Bagshaw countered that the invitation itself is not a financial commitment, and the last time the city hosted the NLC meeting in 2013 it spent approximately $80,000 of city staff time supporting the event.  The resolution passed by a 6-2 vote (Herbold was absent today).

The Council also approved the appointments of three people to the board of the Seattle Retirement Savings Plan, including former Council member and Mayor Tim Burgess who was the driving force behind the creation of the plan. Sawant singled out her former nemesis Burgess for her third “no” vote of the afternoon, claiming that he would oppose divesting from fossil fuel companies just as he had for the Seattle City Employees Retirement System (SCERS) when he served on its board. There was no discussion as to whether the other two new appointees would support divestment, and given the reasoning for SCERS not to support divestment, there is every reason to believe neither of them would support it for the new retirement plan either.

FInally, the Council granted Seattle City Light the ability to sign wholesale power contracts for up to five years; currently they can only sign a contract for up to two years, which they claim is an impediment for them to secure business. While “green power” such as that generated by SCL’s hydroelectric plants is in high demand, overall wholesale power prices have been falling over the past few years as solar and wind power has been deployed. The ability to sign longer contracts should increase SCL’s revenue stability.