Last year Jason Mercier, Director of the Center for Government Reform at the conservative Washington Policy Center, submitted an expansive public document request for documents and communications from Seattle officials related to the development of the city’s income tax ordinance. He’s been kind enough to share and discuss the resulting information-dumps with me, and the results are a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at how the City Council operates.
I should state up-front: Jason and I disagree on the merits of an income tax (I’m for it), but we have a shared interest in government transparency and accountability, independent of government officials’ political leanings. The income tax legislative effort was a big, complex knot of relationships: lobbyists, legislators, attorneys, activists, and city staff — largely hidden from view. I was surprised by the extended efforts to keep communications secret, as well as who did the work and who got paid for it.
Continue reading The City Council paid a lobbyist $50,000 for the income tax ordinance, and other revelations
A week ago, Council member Lorena Gonzalez called on Mayor Ed Murray to step down in light of revelations of an Oregon CPS file in which a case worker found the sexual abuse charges against Murray to be credible. She later clarified her original statement, saying that the situation is unprecedented and she wants to make sure that the Council understands the procedures and protocols for continuity of government no matter what happens.
Last Friday, the Mayor responded to Gonzalez and her colleagues.
Continue reading Council, Mayor continue to discuss resignation and “transition”
At the end of the press conference that she and her colleague Tim Burgess held this afternoon on this morning’s court hearing, Council member Lorena Gonzalez took questions on the statement she issued yesterday related to the new evidence accusing Mayor Ed Murray of sexual abuse.
Continue reading Gonzalez clarifies statement on Murray stepping down
(Updated 9:00pm Monday — scroll down to the bottom for the latest)
Just when you thought the thirty-year-old allegations of sexual abuse against Mayor Ed Murray were finally fading away, the Seattle Times published some new evidence over the weekend: a long-lost Oregon Child Protective Services file in which a services worker discusses the allegations that Murray sexually abused his foster child, Jeff Simpson, and finds them credible.
In response, Council member Lorena Gonzalez issued a statement this morning calling on the Mayor to consider resigning, and if he doesn’t take action by next Monday asking her fellow Council members to consider their options to remove him from office.
Continue reading Amid new evidence in old case, Gonzalez calls on Mayor to resign (UPDATED)
I just posted an update to the Candidates page on my site, with the latest information from the state Public Disclosure Commission and the Seattle Ethics and Elections Committee. That includes candidates’ financial disclosure forms, and links to reported campaign contributions.
Of note: Rudy Pantoja has not files financial disclosure forms, which are due within two weeks of filing for candidacy (he filed on December 16th). He also has not reported any campaign contributions.
Sara Nelson filed for candidacy on April 20, so she still has a few more days before her financial disclosure form is due. I’ll post it when it becomes available.
By law, the eleven elected officials in Seattle must file an annual F-1 financial disclosure form as a public record with the city clerk by April 15th of each year. As of this morning (April 24), seven of the nine have done so.
Continue reading Council members file their 2017 financial disclosures (most of them anyway)
The City of Seattle has a law on the books requiring The City Council to approve any department’s acquisition of surveillance equipment. The law is old and badly in need of updating, as last year’s Geofeedia incident made clear. Yesterday the Council started its formal consideration of a refreshed version more in keeping with today’s technology.
Continue reading Council starts to update rules on surveillance technology
Yesterday Mayor Ed Murray, Council President Bruce Harrell, and Council Budget Chair Tim Burgess replied to Wells Fargo, officially giving notice that the city will not renew their banking services contract. They also noted that they will not be taking up the bank’s offer to terminate the contract before its termination at the end of 2018.
Continue reading City responds to Wells Fargo, passes on early termination of contract
Yesterday Wells Fargo Bank sent a letter to the City of Seattle in response to the Council’s action to cut its business ties with the bank. In the letter, Wells Fargo’s Head of Government and Institutional Banking expresses its disappointment with the decision, invokes some concern trolling over the resulting “unintended consequences for taxpayers,” and defends its investment in the Dakota Access Pipeline project.
The letter departs from the humble, apologetic tone of their last letter and disingenuously skips over or distorts inconvenient facts. Let’s dig in.
Continue reading Wells Fargo sends new letter to city, offers to end contract early
Council member Kshama Sawant, her staff, her Socialist Alternative party, and their partner organizations have done some incredible work over the past several weeks in organizing rallies and protests to give voice to opposition to President Trump’s most abhorrent executive orders and policies. But last week she turned the rhetoric knob to 11, and in so doing argued for some actions that are not just ill-conceived but illegal, dangerous to public safety, and a threat to one of the most important foundations of our democracy. And that places her in clear and direct violation of her duties and responsibilities as a City Council member.
Continue reading Sawant crosses the line