I’m not sure what all the hoo-hah is over the current “impasse” on a $15 minimum wage. Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee is exactly that: an advisory committee. As a body, it is empowered to do nothing more than advise. If it fails to come to a consensus, so what? Either way, it is the city council that will ultimately write and pass Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance, whatever the advice of the mayor or his committee.
Now if the advisory committee does come to some sort of unanimous consensus, that would be news, considering that three of its members—Bruce Harrell, Nick Licata, and Kshama Sawant—comprise one-third of the city council. If you’ve got Sawant and the restaurant industry backing the same proposal, you’ve likely got a deal the council can rubber stamp. Hooray! But if there’s no consensus out of the committee, the council will still pass something.
Eight of nine city council members—everybody but Tim Burgess—are already on the record supporting some sort of a $15 minimum wage. So I fail to see the leverage that some advisory committee members seem to think they have in threatening to block some sort of a compromise proposal. An advisory committee proposal would be nice—especially a unanimous one—but it is not integral to the process. And while a consensus might make a ballot battle less likely, I’m not sure that one is avoidable, for no stakeholder on either side of the issue is bound by decision of the committee.
So yeah, if the advisory committee fails to produce a consensus proposal, the mayor will propose something regardless, and the council will do what the council is going to do. Because that’s the council’s job, not the job of a powerless, unelected committee.