Tuesday news roundup

Less about the head tax, more about the LID.

Seattle Times, MyNorthwest, APA, and the Daily Journal of Commerce report on yesterday’s Council vote to begin the process of creating a Waterfront Local Improvement District.

Seattle Times, The Stranger, and SeattleMet continue the conversation about the head tax.

The Stranger reports that the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce ran a sneaky digital-ad campaign to influence the public about the head tax, while Erica C. Barnett looks into exactly how much public resources Council member Sawant used printing up materials for her pro-head-tax, anti-Amazon rallies.

UW Daily covers the referendum the Council passed yesterday in support of student workers in their contract negotiations with the university.

The Urbanist and Erica C. Barnett discuss the Draft EIS for the city’s proposed ordinance loosening rules on backyard cottages.



  1. I was completely dumbfounded by Erica’s reporting on the City Hall print shop. To me – this seemed like a (snarky?) non-issue raised by Bagshaw until Erica revealed the *volume* and contents of production.

    Re: the quote:
    “Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission director Wayne Barnett told me that he considered Sawant’s use of the city’s printer to produce her rally signs acceptable under city ethics rules, because she was using the posters ‘to pass legislation.'”

    Did Wayne fully understand the quantities and contents of what was being printed? I certainly do not.

    Looking at Erica’s list – the print jobs seem to skew towards an “anti-Amazon” type messaging – and while Amazon may be affected by the issue, “tax Amazon” was definitely not the specific SMC legislation under discussion at the time.

    The rally signs I’ve seen don’t seem to mention any details re: proposed the SMC – but many do promote CM Sawant’s name:

    That the color scheme and fonts of the signs seem to match her Re-elect campaign material is certainly of concern – if civic resources were indeed used to produce such material:

    I hope that somebody has done a public records request for the following digital files:
    • 1,004 copies of a document called “March On Amazon.doc.”
    • 2,198 copies of a document called “may 11 (two sided).pdf

    FWIW: I recently printed 11×17 color copies for a preschool and the cost was ~$1.56 per copy. So – financially, it’s no Bertha debacle, but still we may be talking about thousands of municipal $$$ that have been intentionally redirected towards material that seem to be (intentionally or unintentionally) affiliated with campaign-ish type propaganda . .

    Am I am certainly no campaign legal expert, but am I the only one for whom this raises concerns – regardless of whether or not one prefers CM Sawant or Amazon?

    Couple thousand bucks may seem like chump change for an established political party or campaign operation, but how many people could a local food bank feed with that kind of money?

    BTW: on a lighter note – the story re: Erica C.B. chasing down details of a municipal print queue before it expires into the tubes of the Interwebs seems to fall somewhere in-between a good & funny Dilbert cartoon and an Emmy award winning TV series about a local journalism heroine makin’ it happen. 😉

    1. What she did breaks no laws. The copies get billed back to her office’s budget, and she has wide discretion on how to spend it. Politicians are also allowed to send communications such as printed newsletters out to constituents that have their name on them using government funds. If the materials she printed directly called for her re-election, that would be a different matter. Sawant knows what the limits are, and pushes right up to them. In the end, it’s up to the voters to decide whether they think her actions are appropriate.

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