1. Earlier this week, I talked to state Sen. Mark Miloscia about a heated conversation he had with a group of student lobbyists from OneAmerica. (A source in Olympia had told me Miloscia grilled the students about their religious affiliations and belittled their views). In Miloscia’s version, he asked the students whether they were “Catholic or Christian” to illustrate a point: Representatives don’t have to have the same skin color or background as constituents in order to represent them. ” I said, ‘You can be represented based on religion, not just skin color,'” Miloscia said. Awkwardly, the group included multiple young women wearing headscarves who were obviously Muslim.
Monica Roman, one of the students who confronted Miloscia about his views on voting rights outside the senate chamber, tells a different story. She says this was actually the second time her student club, Fuerte (“strong” in Spanish) had met with Miloscia. Both times, Roman says, the students argued with Miloscia about the Voting Rights Act, a long-delayed bill that would give citizens a path to challenge voting systems that result in unequal representation. (In Yakima, citizens challenged the city’s at-large city council system, which resulted in an all-white city council in a city with a large Latino population, forcing the city to switch to more representative district elections). Both the Democratic and Republican versions of the bill would make it easier for citizens to challenge local election systems in court, but the Republican bill, sponsored by Miloscia, includes fewer protections and gives cities more time to address unrepresentative systems.
“Last year, we asked if he could represent us, and we said ‘No.’ He asked us again this year,” Roman says. The students told him that “as a white, straight male, he views things from a place of privilege, and he can’t really comprehend our experience. I think that really triggered him. He said, ‘I feel like you guys are attacking me.'” That’s when Miloscia brought religion into the conversation, Roman says.
“He was like, ‘How many of you guys are Catholics?’ when he could clearly see that we had multiple girls wearing hijabs. We were like, ‘You’re completely disregarding these Muslim girls right in front of you.'” When the group pointed out that some members of the group were Muslim, Roman says Miloscia “pointed out one of our hijabi girls and was like, ‘Can you not represent me?'”
Roman says that unlike last year, when she felt too “awkward” in the private conference room where they met with Miloscia to stand up for herself, this year, she “just laughed in his face. … I just didn’t back down. I was kind of proud of myself. I just didn’t let him yell at me.”
2. Operation Nightwatch, the overnight shelter for men that is being displaced from its current location, the Pearl Warren Building in the International District, has found a temporary home in the Next 50 Pavilion at Seattle Center, Crank has learned. Operation Nightwatch had been renting the space in the Pearl Warren which provides beds for about 75 men a night, from Compass Housing Alliance for $3,100 a month. The city previously told Operation Nightwatch it would help the group find a new space; according to Nightwatch director Rick Reynolds, the city initially handed the group a list of commercial spaces in places like Georgetown and the Rainier Valley, which rented for more than twice as much as their current space.
Meg Olberding, spokeswoman for the city’s Human Services Department, says Operation Nightwatch will not have to pay rent for the space, and can stay at Seattle Center until April 17. ” The City continues to provide resources through FAS, HSD and OEM to locate a new permanent site for this shelter program,” Olberding said in an email. “Compass is also using its relationships to find a new site, and is considering using the dining hall and lobby of its own administrative facilities as a backup in the case a location cannot be identified.”
3. At this week’s presentation about paid family leave (council member Lorena Gonzalez is proposing up to 26 weeks of paid leave for all employees in Seattle), consultant Maggie Simich presented some data that starkly illustrates the need for paid time off. Based on a survey of 400 Seattle residents who work in Seattle and 400 Seattle companies of all sizes, the survey found:
- 41 percent of Seattle residents did not have access to paid parental leave;
- The smaller the company, the less likely it is to offer paid parental leave; 70 percent of those who worked for a company with fewer than 50 employees said they had access to paid parental leave;
- Zero percent of employees said they had access to 12 weeks or more of paid leave, not counting vacation and sick time;
- Half of all companies surveyed do not offer any form of paid family leave at all;
- Companies in the health care, education, restaurant, and hotel industries were the least likely to offer any kind of paid leave;
- And, somewhat surprisingly, six out of ten employers who offered paid leave said fewer than 10 percent of their workers had taken any kind of paid family leave within the previous year, belying the common assumption that employees (particularly women, who are most likely to take parental leave) will take advantage of paid leave if it’s offered.
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2 thoughts on “Morning Crank: How Many of You Guys Are Catholics?”
Senator Mark Miloscia used to be a Democrat. I knew him well when he was active in the 31s District Democrats 20 some years ago (I was newsletter editor for a while and treasurer for 3 state senate campaigns against Pam Roach). But he was never comfortable with the Democrats because, as a strong Catholic, he was socially conservative. Looks like this has not changed.
In any case, there is a different way to vote that allows minority representation, not just separate districts like they did in Yakima. One version of this is in Mark’s bill: Everyone ranks his or her top choices in a “super district” which could have 5 positions, say, to be filled by at-large voting. The super district could be a whole city or county which is filling half the seats on its governing council. The rankings in each individual ballot are compiled in a way that produces proportional representation. That is, if a voting block (which could be liberals or conservatives, but also Catholics, Muslims, or Latinos) has around 20% of the vote, then that voting block could elect one candidate to directly represent them if they vote cohesively for their candidates, or two reps if they have around 40% of the vote, etc. These voters could be scattered through the super district.
This method of voting is used in many places around the world, including Ireland and Scotland. As a mathematician, I’ve developed, and am testing on Scottish ballot data sets, a very sophisticated algorithm to do this, called “Clustering for Proportional Representation”. The traditional algorithm is called “Single Transferable Vote” globally, or “Ranked Choice” voting by a US group that is promoting it, a modification of what is often called “Instant Runoff Voting”.
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