Tag: featured

Half the “Moms for Seattle” Don’t Vote in Local Elections. But You Should!

via King County Elections.

Moms for Seattle—a brand-new election PAC whose biggest contributors are a Bellevue charter-school advocate and the wives of local multi-millionaires such as Forbes-lister Tom Pigott, telecom mogul John McCaw, and former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz—continues to portray itself as just a small group of concerned local moms, telling KUOW last week that they decided to form a PAC after talking on the phone and realizing how frustrated they were with the current state of the city council. They “thought this was the best way for us to actually make a difference,” one of the Moms told KUOW.

So let’s take them, for a moment, at their word—Moms for Seattle, a PAC that raised more than $25,000 in a single day when it launched, is just a group of four politically inexperienced moms who wanted to make a difference in their city. (Since then, Moms for Seattle has raised more than $200,000, including about $10,000—almost 90 percent of it from men and people who live outside city limits—in the last few days.) How engaged have the four Moms been in local politics over the years, not counting their recent campaign contributions?

KUOW mentioned that most of the Moms haven’t given much money to local campaigns, which isn’t that unusual in itself—very few people, relatively speaking, do. What the radio station didn’t mention is whether they’ve shown their interest in local elections in the past by doing the bare minimum of voting in them, particularly in the council elections that would presumably be of greatest interest to people concerned about the state of the city council.

So here’s a look at the voting records of the four women who serve as the public face of the Moms for Seattle organization, obtained through the Washington Secretary of State’s voter database.

Celeste Garcia Ramburg and Betsy Losh have voted in most recent elections, including recent city council and mayoral primaries.

Before this year, Laura McMahon has voted just five times since 2004, a period that included seven primary and seven general city council elections as well as three special elections on local measures (and, of course, state and federal primary and general elections, as well as special elections, in even years). She skipped every Seattle election those except the general election in 2017. This year marks the first time she’s ever voted in a local primary election.

And finally, Jeannine Christofilis has also rarely voted, casting ballots in just six elections since 2008. Until now, she has only voted in a single local election—the general election in 2015.

The final tally: Half of the four women who say they formed Moms for Seattle because they’re concerned about local politics vote regularly, but the other two have never voted in a Seattle primary election, and have each voted in exactly one local election before this year. According to KUOW, the group believes that “the most effective way to reach [their electoral] goal would be to form a PAC and endorse the candidates they liked across the city.” The rest of us will have to reach our own electoral goals the old-fashioned way: By actually showing up and voting.

Other big-money PACs that are trying to influence this year’s council elections through independent expenditures—digital and print ad campaigns, mailers, and phone calls—include the Seattle Chamber of Commerce’s PAC, Civic Alliance for a Sound Economy (over $800,000 as of July 31); People for Seattle, the PAC formed by former council member Tim Burgess, which sent out mailers attacking two of his former council colleagues (more than $300,000 as of yesterday); and the labor PAC Unite Here Local 8 (about $158,000 as of July 31).

Ballots must be postmarked by today, August 6, or dropped in a ballot drop box by 8pm tonight. 

One In Five “Illegal Dumping” Reports Recategorized as Illegal Camping, Triggering Navigation Team Visits

Next time you file a report for illegal trash dumping through the city’s Find It, Fix It system, look around: If there happens to be a homeless encampment or RV nearby, the vicinity, the city is likely to recategorize your report as “unauthorized camping” and send in the Navigation Team to investigate—and potentially remove the encampment, The C Is for Crank has learned. This is true even if the items you reported were not left there by unsheltered people, a common phenomenon that Seattle Public Utilities refers to as “opportunistic dumping.”

Ordinarily, SPU responds to reports of illegal dumping by going out to a site within 10 days of the initial report and, when appropriate, removing the trash. But in about  one out of every five cases, they refer the report to the Navigation Team, which is responsible for removing unauthorized encampments, the city’s department of Finance and Administrative Services confirms.

“I reported needles on the street and rather obvious drug dealing, and attached a picture of the street which included a shabby RV,” one FiFi user, Emily Spahn, told me. “A few days later, I got an email telling me they forwarded the issue to the police department, with ‘Subject: SPD – Car camping.’ That was a surprise, since this was in an area that allows for RV parking.”

The same thing happened to another Seattle resident named Sean Roulette-Miller, who posted about the recategorization on Twitter. “I have never seen any encampment on this property so it seems like a waste of resources,” Roulette-Miller told me.

Cyndi Wilder, a spokeswoman for FAS (which oversees the Find It, Fix It program) says that whenever SPU determines that an illegally dumped item or items is “part of or near an encampment,” they “assume” that “the items in the report might be the personal belongings of unsheltered individuals. Because illegal dumping inspectors cannot remove personal belongings that may be part of or near an encampment, in these cases SPU transfers the report to the Customer Service Bureau (CSB), who then forwards the report to the Navigation Team for an encampment inspection, as the Navigation Team has the training and resources to identify and store personal belongings.”

Of all illegal dumping reports the city receives, Wilder says 19 percent are routed to the Navigation Team. “Some illegal dumping calls intersect with the Navigation Team’s work to remove unsafe encampments and break down barriers by providing storage for personal possessions.”

The Navigation Team has the authority to remove encampments that it considers “obstructions” or “hazards” without providing notice, outreach, or offers of shelter. In recent months, under Mayor Jenny Durkan, the team has begun to focus primarily on removing “obstruction” encampments, a definition justified in the team’s weekly reports by, among other criteria, “large amounts of garbage.”

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