Monthly Archives: October 2014

Join me for lunch!

For the last six years I’ve served on the board, including two terms as board president, of ROOTS, a young adult homeless shelter in the University District. It’s been a blast – not least because unlike a lot of social service groups providing essential front line human services, ROOTS is largely staffed by volunteers, most of them the same age as our guests, and because we really do try hard to have a space that’s owned by and run in the interests of the people we help.

During my time at ROOTS, we’ve expanded from 27 to 45 beds a night and added a number of different ancillary services (lockers, new showers, a computer room, case workers, etc.). But it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the rapidly expanding need. The “recovery” from the Great Recession has never reached young adults, who continue to face high unemployment, low wages (hence my strong support for Kshama Sawant and the $15/hour minimum wage laws), and an utterly insanely expensive rental market that even I can’t afford. In year 6,892 of the absurdly named “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness,” which has been all about moving money from shelter services to creating permanent transitional and affordable housing opportunities, shelter funding is more fragile and overstretched than ever.

All that is context for ROOTS’ second annual “Rise Up for Homeless Youth” luncheon, to be held next Tuesday, November 4 (Election Day!), at the North Ballroom of UW’s HUB student union building. I’ll be hosting a table – please join me! To register and for more info, go here. Or go here if you just want to donate to an incredibly worthy cause – only $29 will keep someone fed and off the street for a night this winter. And every bit helps.

I don’t hit my friends and readers up to donate to good causes often – there are so many of them, and everyone has the ones close to their heart. This one is close to mine. In a few months I term-limit off of the ROOTS board, and as a parting gift to the organization I’d love to introduce a new generation of people to the amazing work it does. Thanks for reading!

Kids, Guns, and Buses: The 2014 General Election Endorsements

This year’s general election ballots have been mailed out, and they’re…long. And complicated.

Not to worry – I’m here to help. Because buried among the judicial races and “advisory vote” nonsense are some genuinely important, meaningful choices. Unlike this August’s primary ballot, this time quite a few of the choices really do matter.

The usual caveats apply: do your own homework (it won’t take long), and don’t rely on voting to change things. Activism creates the support that makes good candidates possible, puts the good measures on the ballot, and then helps them all win. Voting matters, but it’s never enough.


US Representative: Four congressional seats – the 1st, 7th, 8th, and 9th districts – are partly or wholly in the Seattle area. None of the incumbents face serious challenges this year. Seattle’s Jim McDermott (WA-07), who at age 77 is still keeping Seattle’s safe Democrat seat warm, occasionally gets a helpful challenge from the left. This year, though, he faces a Tea Party Republican, Craig Keller, obsessed by “illegal” brown people taking away his jobs and his precious bodily fluids. Some day, Sunny Jim will retire, but not this year. Suzan DelBene (WA-01) and Adam Smith (WA–09) are vastly outspending their Republican opponents. And the Eastside’s Dave Reichert, the lone Republican west of Washington’s Cascades, faces a Democratic challenger, Jason Ritchie, who isn’t likely to win. Which is a shame, because there’s no good reason why Eastside voters are being representing by a man who, mythology aside, doesn’t identify as a Tea Party lunatic but votes like one almost all of the time.

State Legislature: The big deal this year is the effort by Democrats to retake control of the state Senate, where a Republican minority has spent the last two sessions obstructing just about everything (including a state transportation budget, which is why we have a Metro funding measure below). Flipping Senate control will hinge on a handful of mostly suburban swing districts. Most of Seattle’s districts, alas, are controlled by Democrats who’ll be in office, and on autopilot, for as long as they like.

District 30, Senate: Last year, Korean-American businesswoman Shari Song waged a strong campaign for King County Council against the execrable Reagan Dunn. Now, she’s back running for state senate in this South King County district against another execrable opponent. Incumbent Mark Miloscia used to be a Democrat, but his day job (lobbyist for the Catholic Church) suggests why he jumped parties – because he needed a caucus that wasn’t revolted by his views on gay rights and women’s reproductive health. If the Democrats are to regain control of the state senate, this is exactly the sort of race they’ll need to win. Shari Song.

District 32, Senate: Democrats in this North Seattle/Shoreline district hate each other – at least, the party activists do. Continuing a feud that has dragged on for a decade, Sen. Maralyn Chase is facing a challenge from fellow Democrat Chris Eggen. The acerbic Chase rubs a lot of people the wrong way. She’s also one of the most progressive voices in a state senate currently controlled by Neaderthals. Maralyn Chase.

District 33, Representative #2: This Des Moines seat is worth mentioning only because incumbent Democrat (and rising party star) Rep. Mia Su-Ling Gregerson is being challenged by the horrifying Jeanette Burrage. Those with long local political memories may recall Burrage, a notorious figure in the 1990s who was Full Metal Wingnut long before the Tea Party was a thing. Back then, she was booted off booted off a municipal judgeship and a state legislative seat for her loony and decidedly pre-Enlightenment views, but has made a comeback since the national wingnut discourse has proven her merely ahead of her time. She’s now on the Des Moines city council and is looking to inflict herself on Olympia again, a fate any sentient being should view with dread. Vote for Gregerson, many times if necessary.

District 37, Senate: Hate Free Zone and OneAmreica founder/former leader Pramila Jayapal has been doing her best to buy herself a sinecure to replace the retiring Sen. Adam Kline in this Southeast Seattle district, showing up for several years at every fundraiser held by Someone That Matters and now calling in the chips. Jayapal has done some truly great things in her activist career, but she’s also been sucking up to big money and The Usual Suspects for years in preparation for this run, and her efforts have paid off – she blew five opponents out of the water in the primary, winning over 50 percent of the vote. Jayapal,also has a reputation for treating staff poorly and not playing well for others. Short version – it’s not entirely clear whether a Sen. Jayapal will be a righteous advocate for the voiceless, or an ambitious, shameless Part Of The Problem. Her opponent, labor activist Louis Watanabe, has all of her upside and none of that ambiguity.

District 43, Representative #2: House Majority Leader Frank Chopp loves to regale people with stories of his days as a cutting-edge housing activst with the old Fremont Public Association in the early 1970s. However, that was over 40 years ago. Far more relevant is his long time leadership of House Democrats, for which he’s positioned himself as one of the more conservative Democrats in Olympia even though he represents the state’s most liberal district. Does that sound right to you?

It didn’t in 2012 for an unknown socialist named Kshama Sawant, who pulled a then-unprecedented 29 percent challenging Chopp. Now, much to his irritation – Frank Chopp is a man who gets easily irritated by people who question, well, anything about him – one of Sawant’s Socialist Alternative allies, Jessica Spear, is challenging him again. Spear is not Sawant – she’s a decade younger, and her training is as a climate scientist (a perspective Olympia could badly use). Her campaign, unfortunately, has not caught fire the way Sawant’s did, but Spear is just as smart and articulate, and her focus on economic advocacy for people usually ignored in the corridors of power (especially by Chopp) is the same. Plus, she’s a climate scientist. How cool is that? Jess Spear.

Olympia Delegation Members Who Aren’t Being Seriously Challenged But Whose Sinecures are Worth Supporting: Rep. Luis Moscoso (LD 1), Rep. Zack Hudgins (11), Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (36), Rep. Reuven Carlyle (36), Rep. Roger Goodman (45), Rep. Gerry Pollet (46).

King County Prosecutor: Republican Dan Satterburg is unopposed. Again. Skip it.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 4: In past years, state supreme court races attracted serious candidates and a lot of money. Not this year. Two incumbent justices are unopposed (skip those races!), and the other two face candidates that give the term “joke candidate” a bad name.

Incumbent Charles W. Johnson is one of the most progressive members of a state supreme court that, among other things, would like to throw every member of the state legislature in jail. This alone is a reason to vote for him. It helps that his opponent, Eddie Yoon, a Tacoma prosecutor in the 1970s, now lives and works in South Korea and has neither a web site nor any money raised for his “campaign.” His voters guide statement lists his community service experience as “Pro bono work for Korean and others.” [sic] Call me old-fashioned, but I like it when one of the seven most powerful judges in our state actually lives in North America. Charles W. Johnson.

State Supreme Court, Pos. 7:: Justice Debra L. Stephens finds herself in a race that make’s Johnson’s challenger look serious. Stephens – who wrote the original McCleary decision – is opposed by a guy who looks like the Unabomber’s long-lost twin, and is seems about as unmoored. John (Zamboni) Scannell – yes, that’s how his name appears on the ballot – used to drive the Zamboni machine and pretend to bite the heads off raw fishes at Seattle Thunderbirds minor league hockey games. He did the hockey gig presumably for the money because he can’t practice law – he’s been disbarred, and Stephens was the one who in 2010 wrote the opinion upholding Scannell’s disbarment (for failing to inform clients of a potential conflict of interest, and then obstructing the Washington State Bar Association’s ensuing investigation). Since he can’t practice law in the state, he’s not actually eligible to be elected to the state supreme court or any other judicial position, which raises the question of why Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s office even allowed his candidacy. Debra L. Stephens

Northeast District Court Electoral District, Position 1: Judge Janet Garrow is seeking her fifth term. She’s opposed by Dawn Bettinger, whose only major endorsement is the King County Republican Party. Yikes. Janet Garrow.

Northeast District Court Electoral District, Position 2: Ketu Shah is well-qualified for this position. His opponent, Sarah Hayne, is not – she’s active in, and married to the co-founder of, the Committee for Judicial Excellence (CJE), a PAC funded mostly by DUI attorneys. This matters because she has very little experience otherwise, and Shah has lots. Hopefully his funny-sounding name won’t prevent voters from recognizing who the qualified candidate in this race is: Ketu Shah.

Northeast District Court Electoral District, Position 3: Lisa O’Toole and Marcus Naylor say all the right things that judicial candidates are required to say. The differene is that most of O’Toole’s endorsements come from prosecutors and cops, perhaps because Naylor is a former longtime public defender, we’ll go Marcus Naylor.

West District Court Electoral District, Position 2: Incumbent Judge Mark Chow is best-known for helping launch the county’s pioneering mental health court – he’s well-rated and widely endorsed. His opponent, Phillip Tavel, doesn’t like it that Chow once told a verbally abusive defendent to suck his dick. As a judge, that didn’t display the best judicial temperament; as a human being, that’s fucking awesome. I’ll go with the experienced, qualified human being. Mark L. Chow.

Seattle Municipal Court, Position 2: Incumbent C. Kimi Kondo has not only served on that mental health court, but was elected by her fellow judges to preside over it. Her opponent, Jon Zimmerman, hasn’t made a convincing case why she should be replaced. C. Kimi Kondo.

Seattle Municipal Court, Position 7: Incumbent Judge Fred Bonner has been in office 25 years, and apparently he’s gotten a little too comfortable in his job – he’s been caught up in a scandal involving his misuse of a city carpool spot (it sounds trivial, but it’s saved Judge Bonner $12,000 over the last decade), and doesn’t attend municipal court meetings because he doesn’t like his fellow judges. Happily, his challenger, Damon Shadid, is both well-qualified and ambitious – and not likely to take his position for granted. Damon Shadid


Initiative 1351: A few years ago, state voters approved an initiative to reduce state class sizes, and the state legislature never bothered to fund it – one of a number of K-12 funding omissions that led to the McCleary decision and the state legislature now being in contempt of court. I-1351 would do pretty much the same thing as that previous measure. A number of well-respected education and children’s advocates, including (locally) the Children’s Alliance, have urged a “no” vote on this because it’s expensive and the state’s education funding is so pathetic that other reforms are now even more badly needed. But the whole point of McCleary is that the legislature shouldn’t be picking and choosing which vital education facets to fund – and a “no” vote here, on a measure state voters once overwhelmingly approved, would give our kid-hating cowards in Olympia cover to claim that the spending the state supreme court (and our state’s constitution) is demanding isn’t even wanted by voters. It’s flawed, but a yes vore sends a better message than a no vote. Yes.

Initiative 591: This is the effort by the National Rifle Association and local gun fetishists to forestall I-594 by requiring that background checks in Washington state be no more rigorous than the national standard. And there is no national standard, and won’t be one any time soon, which is their whole point – but they know that coming right out and saying “put lots more guns in the hands of violent criminals and crazy people!” wouldn’t go over as well with voters. A thousand times No.

Initiative 594: This would do what the public (according to every poll ever) wants, but national and state legislatures don’t have the courage to require: closing loopholes (especially with gun shows and private and online sales) so that every firearm purchaser is screened for felony or mental health records that would make his or her purchase illegal. How many mass school shootings do we need before we can take even minimal, common-sense gun measures like this one? A thousand times Yes.

Advisory Votes 8 and 9: Tim Eyman’s meaningless ballot lines, which require (thanks to a past initiative) a non-binding vote, likely to be completely ignored, on any tax or fee increase or abolition of a loophole passed by the state legislature. Since half of the state legislature is controlled these days by anti-tax zealots, you know that anything that actually gets passed into law right now is a no-brainer. And so it is with Vote 8, which abolishes pot grower agricultural tax exemptions, and Vote 9, which adds a tax on tribal governments equivalent to other states on in-state government entities. Not that it matters, but vote Maintained on both.

Propositions 1A and 1B: What. A. Fucking Mess. Blame the Seattle City Council, which decided in a bizarre ballot construction to pit two unrelated ballot measures against each other due to a spat over I-107, the union measure which became Proposition 1A. 1A would impose a $15 an hour minimum wage for child care workers, a three year phase in for employers with fewer than 250 workers, and a certification process. Council member Tim Burgess wanted to fold that measure into his pet universal pre-school measure (now Proposition 1B), but his staff balked over the union demand that the union administer the training and certification process. So now Burgess, and council, want us to pick between child care workers’ minimum pay and preschool for kids, on the assumption that most people will vote for kids.

But here, the devil is in the details. Proposition 1B would take four years to provide preschool for only an initial 2,000 of the city’s three- and four-year-old kids. Even more problematically, council wants the program to be administered by Seattle Public Schools, which is already in a severe bind with lack of physical capacity to house its exploding enrollment of elementary age students – meaning there’s no place for the school district to put another 2,000 kids. And most disturbingly, the forces pushing hardest for 1B are corporate education and “reform” advocates like Paul Allen and the Gates Foundation, which could then use the capacity issue to make a strong, precedent-setting case for privatizing part of Seattle’s public schools. Which might explain why Burgess, council’s most conservative member, was the one who authored this measure. 1A has none of these problems, and would give an immediate wage boost to workers who deserve it. The city needs universal preschool – and council needs to give us a proposal or it that’s worth supporting. Vote Yes (that one of these measures should be enacted) and then Proposition 1A.

Seattle Citizen Proposition 1: This is the bizarre effort by local civic gadfly Elizabeth Campbell to make herself relevant by reviving the monorail idea. (Her first idea, for an initiative to rescind the $15/hour minimum wage, went nowhere.) Alas, her proposed route is physically impossible, and the giveaway that this is not a serious proposal is that Campbell’s newly created advisory board to study (again) the monorail option specifically adds one Elizabeth Campbell to the board – a provision that, legally speaking, is probably illegal. A monorail might not be a bad idea, but this particular proposal is one person’s unhinged fantasy. No.

Seattle Transportation Benefit District Proposition 1: Now that the improving economy has helped relieve Metro’s funding crisis, the temptation is to dismiss this desperate attempt to save in-city bus service after the state and county have refused to fund it. Thing is, the economy can decline just as easily, and Metro doesn’t just need status quo funding – in a time of record ridership and population growth, Metro really needs dramatically larger budgets. It’s insane that we’re even discussing cutting a vital part of local transportation infrastructure at a time when it needs to be expanded. A lot. Yes.

Good News on the Health Front

As I posted last month, the function of my transplanted kidney took a serious turn for the worse this summer. The diagnosis of a dangerous infection (FSGS) and the underlying long-term erosion of function of my only working kidney was based on two things: first, a sustained worsening of my creatinine levels, a blood test that measures kidney function, and, second, the results of a biopsy last month. A couple of subsequent hospital stays have been needed to clean up some additional health problems, so that we could start a scary-intense steroid treatment meant to try to reverse the kidney damage from the infection.

That steroid treatment was supposed to start today. Except that I did another round of blood tests yesterday to establish a baseline for the steroid treatment. And, in the lovely words of my doctor: “Um…I don’t know how to tell you this, Geov, but you appear to have cured yourself.”

That’s something of an exaggeration, but for sure it’s good news. My creatinine has been hovering between 3.5 and 4.0 this summer (higher is worse; before June it had been around 2.0-2.5, and a normal person’s is under 1.0). Two weeks ago I was at 3.95. Yesterday? 2.4. In other words, back where I was before the last few months. Some other issues (e.g., blood acidity) seem to have resolved as well. So, at least until we know what’s going on and why, and whether this is a long-term trend, no steroid treatment after all.

I’m still not out of the woods by any means. The biopsy did still show significant permanent loss of kidney function (about 1/3 of the kidney’s capacity is irreversibly lost), and that’s likely going to continue to get worse. But the nasty, organ-threatening infection? Hard to say. It may just be taking a break, or it wasn’t the right diagnosis to begin with, or it simply got bored and went away.

Regardless, it’s a huge relief. Longer term, there’s still a lot to worry about and plan for, as well as navigating the ongoing chronic issues I deal with, but I seem to have bought myself a little time. A huge thank you to all of you (especially Revel Smith and the members of Gear Ritual) who’ve been so supportive and helpful through this. Onward!

Trans-Pacific Partnership: It’s Worse Than Anyone Thought. Way Worse.

Remember WikiLeaks?

Yeah, WikiLeaks? The pointless, irresponsible, treasonous vanity project of egomaniacal rapist Julian Assange? (At least, according to corporate US media, whose relentless attacks on Assange seemed motivated either by the reflexive need to promote American mythologies or sheer professional jealousy. Or both.)

Yep. That WikiLeaks. Which was never a one-person operation. Which has in the past five years surfaced more damning evidence of corporate and government crimes on six or seven continents than all the world’s corporate media combined. And which, contrary to US media’s narrative, continues to do so even as Assange remains holed up in an embassy in London. And which again this week proved how invaluable it is, and by contrast how hopelessly compromised US media is.

The release this time was the latest draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a multilateral free trade agreement being pushed hard upon eleven allied governments (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) by the Obama Administration.

The agreement has been negotiated largely in secret. NGOs around the world have been concerned that the TPP, as an evolving work document, was shaping up as by far the worst free trade agreement ever on a host of fronts. From the WikiLeaks press release:

Few people, even within the negotiating countries’ governments, have access to the full text of the draft agreement and the public, who it will affect most, none at all. Large corporations, however, are able to see portions of the text, generating a powerful lobby to effect changes on behalf of these groups…while the public at large gets no say.

It turns out TPP’s critics were being too generous about the revisions underway. The draft TPP leak should have been front page news in the US, and a major scandal. Instead, US media is pushing 24/7 Ebola Porn (Ebola Does Dallas!), and a major initiative that undermines just about everything the Obama Administration publicly claims to stand for continues to develop in near-secrecy.

How bad is it? Here’s how activist group Knowledge Ecology International describes the WikiLeaks release:

Our first impression in reading the document is the extent to which the United States has sought hundreds of changes in intellectual property norms, some small and subtle, others blunt and aggressive, nearly of all of which favor big corporate right holders, and undermine the public’s freedom to use knowledge….Without the disclosure by Wikileaks, there would be no opportunity to see and debate the actual provisions in the text.

Pandering to corporate right holders, US Ambassador Michael Froman is favoring binding obligations for 95 years of copyright protection for corporate entities, restrictions on copyright exceptions allowed by the Berne Convention, new controls and liability for use of copyrighted works in in-house intranet online services, damages for infringements based upon the “suggested retail price” of goods, expanded third parties liability for infringement, a requirement that compulsory licenses of patents be subject to a restrictive three-step test [see discussion below], 12 years of monopoly in data used to register biologic drugs and vaccines, expanded scope of patent protection for pharmaceutical drugs, vaccines and medical devices, extensions of patent terms beyond 20 years, and obligations of drug regulatory agencies to evaluate and enforce assertions that registered drugs and vaccines infringe on evergreening patents, to mention only a few issues in the 77 page document.

While pushing for radical expansions of the global standards for intellectual property rights, Ambassador Froman is also trying to narrow or eliminate the safeguards found in other intellectual property right agreements. For example, the United States is blocking text that preserves the ability of states to control anti-competitive practices – even though similar language is found in the WTO TRIPS agreement and in other bilateral trade agreements the United States has previously signed.

All of these changes become even more highly significant, because the TPP agreement will be subject to ISDS, a system that allows private investors to sue governments over the agreement — something not allowed in the WTO agreement on intellectual property rights.

What would the impact of some of these changes be? From KEI again:

Ambassador Froman’s proposals on behalf of the United States would not only lock-in many of the worst and most controversial features of U.S. law and export them around the world, but would subject the United States taxpayers to liability from lawsuits from drug companies and publishers over several provisions in U.S. law that are plainly contrary to proposed text in the TPP….Ambassador Froman’s proposals also undermine a key feature of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the provision in the law that limits damages for infringement of patents not disclosed to competitors who register biosimilar products.

Always worth mentioning is the fact that USTR [Froman’s office] is continuing its efforts to prevent countries from limiting certain types of pharmaceutical drug patents that are used to extend drug monopolies (evergreening patents).

That provision – a hard-won exemption in WTO provisions that has allowed third world countries to distribute far less expensive generic versions of patented drugs – has saved literally millions of lives in Africa’s battle against HIV/AIDS alone. It turns out that the Obama Administration, while noisily taking credit for health care reform at home, is pushing hard to reinstate the HIV pandemic that was far, far worse than Africa’s current Ebola crisis – all so that Big Pharma can rake in even more obscene profits. And the extremely restrictive intellectual property provisions also have serious implications for the global Internet, and to what degree information can, or cannot, be shared across international borders.

KEI’s conclusion compares the current Obama push to the corporate-friendly obsession with trade agreements favored by Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush:

“President Bush and his trade team did push restrictive language in several trade agreements, but nothing remotely as bad as the current TPP text.”

The Wikileaks release shows the draft TPP language to be much more far-ranging – and scandalous, for both Americans and citizens of the 11 other affected countries, not to mention the rest of the world in provisions which impact global standards – than previously known. It should have been major news. In other affected countries, it was major news. But, you know…WikiLeaks. And, America Number One! And so, once again, as with Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning, and a host of other previous WikiLeaks releases, it will be up to independent media and citizen activists to work to ensure that Americans understand just what our “liberal” administration is up to behind closed doors.

An immoral document

Jim Wallis, the long-time leader of the progressive Christian activist group Sojourners, is credited with coining the now-cliche phrase that “a budget is a moral document” – meaning that for government budgets, the assumptions, priorities, and choices made in those hundreds of pages of annual line items have real impacts on the lives of real people. They are the moral choices of the political leaders who pass it.

By many measures, then, new Seattle mayor Ed Murray’s proposed $4.8 billion dollar 2015-16 budget for the City of Seattle is a disappointingly immoral document.

Headlines for Murray’s proposal focused on policing; the mayor wants to set aside $3.3 million for the hiring and training of new officers in response to a surge in crime in core downtown neighborhoods. Murray’s office also has been promoting the inclusion of $1.5 million in new services (and funding to cover previous unbudgeted shelter costs) to address Seattle’s exploding homeless population.

The fact that 2015 will be Year Ten of King County’s “Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness” might suggest that more status quo, band-aid approaches to housing and homelessness won’t work any better next year than they have in the last decade. Murray might, just possibly, ask why more people than ever are living on our streets.

Actually, he does, sort of – his budget includes money for two years of study by a new “Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee” to determine why Seattle doesn’t have enough affordable housing. Think of it as Seattle’s “45,921 Year Plan to Create Affordable Housing.”

Murray’s approach is sort of like paying 20 people to dig a hole while you pay a 21st person to study why your hole keeps getting deeper. Seattle doesn’t need to study its affordable housing problem; the answer is breathtakingly obvious. When you spend decades tearing down existing affordable housing to make way for record numbers of new, high-priced housing (a staggering 25,000 new units just in the last three years, with far more in the pipeline), and when you basically underwrite developers’ massive new schemes in the name of a particularly upscale kind of density, and when every discretionary transportation dollar is spent not on transportation but on improving real estate values, this is what you get.

For each of the last four years Seattle has had the highest rent increases of any large US city, and 2014 will be no exception – even the middle class is being priced out of the city, a phenomenon that is an entirely predictable consequence of years of budgets just like the one Murray is proposing. “Studying” the issue is a polite way to justify continuing to make the problem worse for at least the next two years.

Meanwhile, on the transportation front, Seattle’s love for enhancing real estate values continues – the Major Projects budget includes another $27 million for the endless Paul Allen Beautification Project gridlocking the Mercer Street Corridor, and $303 million for the downtown waterfront as the city prepares for the Alaskan Way Viaduct to come down and Bertha rests peacefully. Bizarrely, 14 years after being damaged in the Nisqually Quake, there’s still nothing for the Magnolia Bridge. When even traditionally wealthy neighborhoods can’t get existing infrastructure fixed, what chance do ordinary Seattle neighborhoods have of acquiring the new infrastructure that can support those 25,000 new units?

By any objective measure Seattle is experiencing an unhprecedented economic boom. There hasn’t been this much new construction since gold was discovered in the Yukon; downtown and South Lake Union alone have scores of new high-rises under construction, and neighborhoods across the city are riddled with detours and orange cones to accommodate the cranes. Unemployment is relatively low. Retail districts are bustling.

But all this is coming at a price – literally. The environmental, anti-sprawl veneer given to the city’s zealous promotion of market rate “density” dulls pretty quickly when working and middle class residents are forced to move to Renton or Everett to find affordable rents – and then need cars to commute because of inadequate public transit funding that is impractical for anyone needing to travel on, say, evenings, or weekends, or with multiple stops. Most people aren’t young, able-bodied, and childless – we can’t just bicycle everywhere. (For those who try to stay in Seattle anyway, not to worry: we’ll have more patrol officers to deal with these miscreants.) Meanwhile, even for city workers, Murray’s budget doesn’t fund even the first steps toward a $15 per hour minimum wage that Murray promised early in his term last winter.

Instead, the mayor’s budget doubles down on the McGinn years’ vision of a idealized Seattle in which most of its residents are childless 30-something, well-paid hipster tech workers. Some of us are that cliche – but most of us aren’t. Sadly, the moral of Murray’s budget story is that the rest of us don’t much matter.

From the kitchen

That’s the title we used for years at Eat the State! to denote notes from the editor – it’s kind of redundant in a first person blog, but as good a way as any to flag that I just wanted to update folks on some blog matters.

Having gotten through last week’s surgery (and the infection and hospitalization that preceded it), I’m in an interim period where for the first time in a couple of months I physically feel pretty good. Alas, I’ll be starting steroid treatments for the kidney infection in ten days (on Oct. 21), so the push is on to use this narrow window to try to help settle housing and catch up on all the logistical, political, and social things I’ve fallen behind on before the next wave of drug-induced weirdness hits.

Separately, I’m also posting a piece on the City of Seattle budget proposed this month by Mayor Murray, and I’ll be getting back to more political writing and commentary as health allows.

As always, many thanks to all the people who’ve been supportive or offered to help. It’s made the chaos of recent months lots easier!