Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell held a press conference late Friday afternoon, once again flanked by city department heads and his family members, to deliver the news that he has decided to decline to serve as Mayor of Seattle through the end of November. But his first 48 hours in office have been busy: he also unveiled four executive orders that he signed today.
Seattle has a new Mayor. And we might repeat this process early next week.
Mayor Ed Murray just announced that he is resigning, effective 5pm tomorrow. Council President Bruce Harrell will become acting Mayor, and has five days to decide whether to fill out the remainder of Murray’s term, which ends December 31st.
Harrell’s decision is complicated. Here’s my previous post on why.
More to come as events unravel.
Late last week, Amazon announced that it intends to set up a second headquarters campus in another city in North America, where it would employ up to 40,000 people over time. Since then, local politicians and pundits have sounded off on what this means for Seattle.
I used to work in business and operations for a division of Microsoft; I was involved in the strategy, selection and setup of several new sites, and I worked with people across the company who did similar work. Based on that knowledge, here’s my take on what Amazon is doing, why they’re doing it, and the most likely candidate cities for their new campus.
The Council had two committee meetings today, including a marathon 3.5 hour Planning, Land Use and Zoning Committee meeting.
I can’t bring myself to write about any of it. Everything on the agendas is important to someone, but all of it is trivial compared to the national conversation of the last few days. And especially today, when President Archie Bunker doubled down on giving political aircover to Nazis, white supremacists, and domestic terrorists — while simultaneously giving a big, wet sloppy kiss to large corporate developers and construction companies in the form of a rollback on regulations that will also financially benefit his own real estate development company.
The biggest existential threat to our country today isn’t North Korea, China, Russia, or even big corporations. It’s Donald Trump. He is both unqualified and unfit to serve as President of the United States. He is ignorant, and uninterested in becoming well-informed. He is self-absorbed and narcissistic. He lacks discipline and impulse control. He insists that members of his administration place loyalty to him above loyalty to the country. He is corrupt and self-dealing. He is racist, misogynistic, and homophobic. He demonstrated all of these qualities on the campaign trail, and he has reaffirmed them all since taking office. He is, in a word, dangerous.
It’s ironic that a self-described conservative would do so much to undermine the time-honored foundations of our government and our society, and more so that the conservative Republican-majority Congress stands idly by and allows it to happen with full knowledge and consent.
It’s not enough for Congress to censure the President. It’s not enough for the white supremacists in the White House, including Steve Bannon, Steve Miller, and Sebastian Gorka, to be fired. It’s not enough to wait for Mueller’s investigation to run its course. It’s not enough for members of Congress to tweet their stern disapproval of the alt-right/Nazi/white supremacist march in Charlottesville. The totality of Trump’s actions over the past seven months show that he is incapable of leading the country, and he must be removed from office now. Congress can impeach him, or his administration can invoke the 25th Amendment. Frankly, I don’t care which path they take, so long as they take action now. Every day he remains in office he further erodes the underpinnings of our country, our safety, our liberties, our free press, our rule of law, our prosperity, and our stature in global affairs.
Every member of Congress needs to be asked why they continue to support Trump remaining in office when doing so violates the oath of office they took to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States. And every one of them who doesn’t support removing him should face a recall election at the first opportunity. We can’t wait until 2018 or 2020. The existential threat is here, now, and we must deal with it here, now.
Let’s be clear: getting Trump out of office will be difficult, ugly, and probably violent, as his most fervent supporters will rise up to prevent such an effort. We saw some of them on full display in Charlottesville, armed to the teeth, and if they are willing to do that because of some Confederate statues, just imagine what they will do if Trump is ousted. They will absolutely not go quietly into the night, especially since Trump has validated and empowered them. Yet we must resort to the rule of law to remove Trump, since the rule of law is the thing we are seeking to preserve by removing him.
But let’s also be honest: the problems won’t magically go away when Trump is removed from office. The alt-right, Nazis and white supremacists won’t pack up and move to another country; they will still be fellow citizens and neighbors. The whole portfolio of issues that led to Trump getting elected — economic, racial, gender, historical, and political — will still be with us. But today Trump has established himself as the single greatest impediment to addressing those issues, and once he’s gone we can once again take up the hard work of fixing what is broken.
After tomorrow, the City Council goes into recess for two weeks. You can trust that I will use that time to write about what transpired this week, plus a few other big topics I’ve been wanting to address (like rent control). But for the moment, let’s all stay focused on the most important thing: reasserting that this is a nation of, by and for the people, and removing through rule of law the imminent threat to that institution.
As I wrote two weeks ago, the City an Bosa Development finalized their agreement on developing the Civic Square site across the street from City Hall. Today the Mayor sent the agreement to the City Council for its approval.
The Seattle Times has published a 45-page memo from SPD to the City Council, responding to the 34 questions they submitted following the death of Charleena Lyles at the hands of two SPD officers.
The answers are lengthy, and for the most part defy quick summaries as they dive into the nuances and complexities of the situation. SPD also refuses in many cases to speculate on what the outcome of the ongoing investigation will be. But the memo is an interesting and informative read.
Back in May, I reported that that the city had extended its deadline to June 30 for reaching agreement with Bosa Development on the details of the Civic Square development project — i.e. the big hole in the ground just west of City Hall.
A spokesperson for the city’s Finance and Administrative Services Department told me this afternoon that the parties reached a verbal agreement before the deadline and are now hashing out a written agreement:
We did reach a verbal agreement on all major points by the June 30 deadline, though we cannot share the deal terms publicly until we finalize the language of the written agreement. We expect that to be done over the next couple weeks.
I’ll follow up with the details once they are released. The agreement will need to be ratified by the City Council.
Since last September, Seattle City Light has been trying to convince the City Council’s Energy and Environment Committee that it should be allowed to join the California Independent Systems Operators (CAISO) Energy Imbalance Market (EIM). On its face, it seems like an easy decision, and if SCL had done a better job on its initial pitch to the Council it might have gone through quickly. But they didn’t, and the Council members asked for more information. As the details have emerged, the case for joining the EIM has become murkier. It’s an interesting case study on the state of the power industry, and it points to some big challenges for Seattle City Light.
Let’s unpack this.
Things got exciting toward the end of the week…