Smaller and Better Things

In yesterday’s Open Thread, I noted that it looked like Jeanne Kohl-Welles was going to run for the King County Council seat that Larry Phillips has decided not to run for. Later in the day, she made it official.

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle, announced today that she is entering the race to succeed King County Councilmember Larry Phillips who informed the public that he is not running for re-election for King County Council District 4.

She seems to have most of the important endorsements lined up, and as such is probably the frontrunner. (or maybe the causation runs the other way).

Kohl-Welles has been endorsed by King County Councilmember Larry Phillips, who currently represents the 4th Council District, as well as Councilmembers Rod Dembowski, Joe McDermott, and Dave Upthegrove. She also has been endorsed by her 36th Leg. District seatmates, Reps. Reuven Carlyle and Gael Tarleton, as well as all of the Democratic state Senators from King County.

I can’t imagine voting for anyone else, but I still would like a primary. Maybe a neighborhood activist or something like that. I suppose the people most likely to run in one of those races are being sucked up into city council races what with all of them up this year. Or maybe not, since district 7, that has quite a bit of overlap with that County Council seat the only one that isn’t an open seat without a challenger to the incumbent. But maybe someone will move over from one of the other districts or at large now that the County seat is up for grabs.

In any event, and while I don’t want to get too far ahead of things, presuming that she gets elected in November, it would mean an appointment to her seat. The most obvious choice is Reuven Carlyle: He clearly (although inexplicably to me) wants the job, and having won a primary and several general elections in the district, he would probably have the best case. He seems pretty conservative compared to the district, but that hasn’t hurt him yet.

Is there anyone you’d like to see either run against her or to fill her seat if she moves on?

OpEn ThReAd?

- I can’t even imagine what you’d do for an oil train explosion in the Downtown train tunnel.

– I don’t know Oregon enough to know about if running a primary against Schrader would be worth while, but in general I’m pro-primary elections.

Liberals Aren’t Hypocrites for Opposing Indiana’s Religious Freedom Law

– It’ll be tough to lose Jeanne Kohl-Welles from the legislature if she runs for Phillips’ seat, but I can’t blame her for not wanting to deal with that garbage when King County can actually get shit done.

He’s well enough to rot in our prisons.

Attempting to Make Seattle More Affordable by Adding Housing Is Like Attempting to Ease Traffic by Adding More Freeways

Alibaba

Yet another tech giant moving to Seattle?

In the wake of the news that Expedia will be moving its offices to Seattle’s waterfront, there’s been a lot of chatter lately that Chinese online retail giant Alibaba may be looking for up to 80,000 square feet of Seattle office space in which to set up its US headquarters. But why would Alibaba pick pricey Seattle? At least partially, because we’re cheaper than San Francisco!

In addition to much lower rents than the San Francisco Bay area and cheaper housing for workers, the region is filled with e-commerce and cloud computing talent thanks to Amazon and other growing Seattle tech companies, and Sea-Tac has recently increased the number of flights between Seattle and China. Alibaba could benefit from the four daily nonstop flights to China from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.

Hear that? “Much lower rents!” I guess it’s all relative.

I’ve had this running argument with some in the urbanist crowd over Seattle’s growing affordable housing crisis. Free up developers to build more housing faster, I’ve been lectured, and the market will do its magic—you know, supply and demand, and all that. But I just don’t believe that the market can address this problem on its own.

Freed from neighborhood NIMBYism and municipal interference, no doubt developers would build more housing faster, substantially bringing down the price of luxury housing. But since developers will almost always target the top of the market first (in order to squeeze as much profit as possible out of any piece of buildable land), we won’t get many new units aimed at median income or below households. In fact, we may see a loss of affordable units as older buildings are torn down or converted to meet demand from more affluent renters and buyers.

But as Alibaba’s decision-making process demonstrates, our residential and commercial real estate markets don’t exist in a vacuum. Global financial capital is pouring into Seattle’s real estate market seeking a higher rate of return, pushing up real estate prices and rents with them. And when it comes to attracting high tech companies like Alibaba, Facebook, and HBO, Seattle is competing with cities like San Francisco and New York where office and housing costs are much higher. Ironically, the more supply we build, the more competitive we become, increasing demand, and pushing prices back up. And as more high tech companies locate here, attracting more talented high tech workers, Seattle becomes even more attractive, especially to companies doing business with Asia. Even our growing traffic congestion bumps up in-city demand by incentivizing the choice to live closer to work.

In this scenario, it’s not clear that the market alone can ever build itself out of our affordability crisis as long as there is such a huge cost disparity between Seattle and San Francisco. It’s kinda like attempting to build our way out of traffic congestion by just adding more freeway lanes: build it, and people will come.

So, yeah, I’m all for lifting height limits and other NIMBYist restrictions, particularly around transit centers. And of course we should be smart about streamlining the permitting and approval process. But I’m convinced that if we want to substantially add and retain middle and low income housing in Seattle than we’re going to have to build and retain tens of thousands of units outside of the market.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottle

Tuesday has arrived, so please join us tonight for an evening of politics and conversation over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet every Tuesday evening at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. The Long Beach, Tri-Cities and West Seattle chapters also meet tonight. On Wednesday, the Bellingham and Spokane chapters meet. And the Bremerton and Kent chapters meet on Thursday.

There are 191 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

Are You Going to the Rand Paul Karaoke Party in Seattle Tomorrow Night?

[sic]

Tomorrow, as the Washington Post‘s Colby Itkowitz reports, Rand Paul fans will celebrate their dear leader’s presidential announcement by hosting karaoke fundraiser parties in almost every state in the union. You can find a list of every Stand with Rand #LibertyKaraoke event on this Eventbrite page. The Seattle Stand with Rand #LibertyKaraoke will take place at Capitol Hill’s wondrous Rock Box karaoke bar tomorrow night at 6 pm. As someone on the event’s Facebook page writes, “JUST OVER 24 HOURS UNTIL LIBERTY BOOMS!!!”

What should you sing at #LibertyKaraoke parties? Organizer Matt Hurtt explained to Itkowitz:

There’s no official liberty song list, though Hurtt’s personal favorite is Bob Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues.” He often changes the lyrics in one stanza to: “The phone’s wiretapped anyway, Maggie says that many say/ They must bust in early May, orders from the NSA.”

The parties are intended to dispel the stereotype that political fundraisers are for “stuffy old people” at hundreds of dollars a pop, he said.

Uh. Okay. But what songs should organizers sing to identify Rand Paul’s anti-choice beliefs? Maybe “The Lady Is a Tramp?” Which song would best exemplify Paul’s anti-gay-marriage stance? Probably “Going to the Chapel,” only with the whole room joyfully shouting “NOT” before every line of the chorus. Obviously, someone should sing that old John McCain classic “Bomb Bomb Bomb, Bomb Bomb Iran” to symbolize Paul’s belief that we need to increase military spending and go to war all over the Middle East. What a fun time #LibertyKaraoke will be for the handful of delusional white men who show up! I bet a stirring conversation about 9/11 Truth will break out at the Rock Box tomorrow night, too. They’ll for sure get to the bottom of the mysteries of Building 7 with all that brain power in one room!

See, the problem is that Rand Paul is trying to run his campaign as though he’s got a shot with the cool libertarian-leaning tech-minded youth vote, but that train left the station a long time ago. Paul has cozied up to the neocon right over the last few months, and in so doing, he’s distanced himself from the libertarian civil liberty platform that won him youthful attention in the first place. These karaoke parties are about as fanciful (and effectual) as the Ron Paul blimp.

oPEN tHREAD!

- For the press, reporting on policy and actual legislating is homework. Reporting on the horse race and invented campaign narratives are a session of Nintendo or a pint of ice cream.

– I know you can’t judge a group solely on its worst members, but holy shit, some of the worst members of the Minute Men.

– Forgot to mention this in a previous open thread so it’s a bit old, but the NPI fundraising gala is looking pretty impressive.

– I will have to play around with Seattle In Progress a bit.

It’s Chilly in Hell: Seattle Times Endorses State Capital Gains Tax

The Seattle Times editorial board has long supported spending more money on K-12, higher education, and other essentially services, it just never wanted to raise the taxes necessary to pay for it. Until now:

If some new revenue is needed — and that appears to be the case — the Legislature should vet a capital-gains tax proposal offered by the House Democrats. It is more conservative than Gov. Jay Inslee’s proposal, hitting relatively few wealthy households, while accounting for the volatility of capital gains with a dedicated fund that would fill in go-go years and could be drawn down in slowdowns.

Whether the Legislature is capable of such fiscal restraint — and not spending every dime, every year — is an open question. A serious proposal would lock revenues in a rainy-day fund, accessible only with supermajority. The Legislature also needs to weigh the potential to chase away startups seeking to launch in a state without an income tax. But the capital-gains tax is a provocative idea, and could ease a regressive tax code that favors Seattle’s accumulating tech wealth.

Of course, this capital gains tax proposal neither raises enough money to fill our K-12 funding shortfall, nor makes anything but a small correction in this, our nation’s most regressive tax structure. But it’s a modest step in the right direction, and a hopeful sign that our state’s paper of record may be willing to have a grown up conversation about taxes.

HA Bible Study: Malachi 2:2-3

Malachi 2:2-3
If you do not listen, and if you do not resolve to honor my name,” says the LORD Almighty, “I will send a curse on you, and I will curse your blessings. Yes, I have already cursed them, because you have not resolved to honor me.

“Because of you I will rebuke your descendants; I will smear on your faces the dung from your festival sacrifices, and you will be carried off with it.

Discuss.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom: How the 1% are rewiring brains & future generations.

SlateTV: America’s Worst President.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

Russell Brand explains why FAUX News pundits “have to attack Bowe Bergdahl”.

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Very Cheimaphillicly Ugly.

Mental Floss: Thirty facts about chocoloate.

Thom: How much dark money is being funneled into our “democracy”?

SlateTV: The strange chemistry of the Crab Nebula.

A PSA from The Committee for Universal Accessibility and Lycantropic Concerns.

The Anti-Gay Agenda:

Mental Floss: Thirty one facts about pigs.

Greenman: Naomi Oreskes’ climate change elevator pitch.

David Pakman: Is MSNBC dying?

Netflix for kids.

David Pakman: This years, guns will kill more Americans than cars.

Farron Cousins: Has the tort reform fight been won?

SlateTV: Obama loves America.

Meet the Part African Black, Part Jewish, and Part Swiss and (Apparently) Offensive Comedian Who Will Replace Jon:

Thom: The Good, the Bad, and the Very Very Glottogonicly Ugly.

Matt Binder: Asshole ex-Governor John Sununu (R-NH) thinks Obama is only visiting Kenya to incite the Birfers.

Rubin Report: Republicans fear Obama more than Putin

White House: West Wing Week, 5th anniversary edition .

Sam Seder and Michael Brooks: Dick Cheney’s lies keep pouring in.

Thom and Pap: Our 2016 casino elections.

David Pakman: Deranged nutburger Rep. Louie Gohmert explodes, “You’re Playing God with the internet!”

Maddow chats with Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

CNN: Reid on leaving and going after the Koch brothers and Mitt Romney.

David Pakman: Indiana’s public health disaster follows from Planned Parenthood closure.

Iran:

Senator denies 280,000 people health care then calls advocate ‘asshole’ for asking him to give up his own health care.

Young Turks: In which Karl Rove is a dick to an Iraqi War veteran.

Sharpton: Fixing the criminal justice system.

Thom: Getting dark money out of politics.

The Barbara Mikulski tribute edition of Congressional hits and misses.

The best of CSPAN callers.

Seth Meyers finally puts the Elizabeth Warren Presidential run idea to rest..

David Pakman: Why won’t Republicans acknowledge Obama’s strong economy?

Menendez Indictment:

White House: Obama signs memorandum of disapproval on anti-labor bill.

John Oliver: Red-tailed hawks:

Thom with Prof. Michael Mann: Has climate change affected the West Coast?

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about appliances.

David Pakman: Small government Republican would make church mandatory.

The Church of Scientology responds to Going Clear.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

Civil Liberties Roundup

One of the biggest stories over the past two weeks is the controversy over the newly passed religious freedom law in Indiana. The backlash caught a lot of people by surprise, partly because the purpose and significance of these laws has evolved a bit over the past 20 years since Bill Clinton signed a federal law with the same name in 1993, but also because of how much the political notion of “religious freedom” has changed in recent years. Garrett Epps and German Lopez write about this history and why this particular law is different and causing an uproar.

I also think it’s worth reading both Amanda Marcotte and Jacob Levy on this. Marcotte comes from a more liberal perspective and Levy from a more libertarian one. But I think Marcotte makes the key point for me here:

The backlash is kind of surprising, when you consider that it’s already legal to discriminate against LGBT people in Indiana without having to pull the Jesus card to do it. Pence’s maddening dishonesty might be fueling the rage: Lying plus bigotry is a toxic combination. But there’s another factor that’s helping push this past the tipping point of “another story about conservative bigotry” to national scandal. Liberals are getting fed up with this ridiculous conservative push to redefine “religious liberty” to mean its opposite, using it as a phrase to justify Christian conservatives forcing their religious beliefs on you and depriving you of basic religious freedom.

Marcotte goes on to cite the Hobby Lobby court decision, which defined this narrative more clearly for a lot of people. Hobby Lobby’s desire to keep their employees from having easier access to birth control through their health benefits isn’t a matter of corporate executives exercising their own religious freedom. It was an attempt by a powerful employer to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. The fact that Hobby Lobby won at the Supreme Court certainly has people on edge about how radical ideas of religious freedom could potentially be recognized and become accepted.

In the case of Indiana’s new law, a small business owner refusing to serve gay customers is the same dynamic. If a florist or a baker refused to provide their services for an interracial marriage, we wouldn’t consider that to be someone exercising some valid religious objection, we’d see that as just plain bigotry. It’s hard to understand how doing the same regarding a gay wedding is any different.

This is why we now see the backlash. It isn’t the actual severity of the law, it’s the fact that it’s furthering a particularly cynical notion of religious freedom, one that is clearly rooted in bigotry and bad faith. It’s about the fact that Indiana chose to go in this direction, rather than passing anti-discrimination protections for gays and lesbians. And it’s about making clear the political risks of continuing to pander to those who are in denial about the recent awakening we’ve had as a nation regarding the rights of LGBT people.

[Read more…]

And Another Thing About The Expedia Move

I think I covered the important stuff about the Expedia move yesterday. But one other thing that’s maybe less relevant is are we still going to call the foot bridge the Amgen Bridge? I feel like we should. It’s shaped like a double helix and it was built by Amgen. So I’m going to keep calling it that.

But I’m the guy who still calls the Bus Tunnel the Bus Tunnel even though I don’t want it to have buses in it any more.

Money (or the Lack Thereof)

We can’t fund McCleary, we can’t provide proper care for our mentally ill, we can’t pave our roads or repair our bridges or pay for our public colleges and universities.

So what is Washington State’s problem? Money. We don’t have enough of it. Because we don’t have a tax system that is capable of growing revenue commensurate with our needs or our economy.

We can elect all the Democrats we want, but until we find a way to tax income, we will get the drown-govmint-in-a-bathtub Republican agenda default. There’s no way around it. It’s simple math.

Expedia

Hey, remember how Rodney Tom (among a bunch of other Republicans) said that Seattle’s minimum wage and sick leave/safe leave laws were going to destroy the jobs in Seattle and send them to the suburbs. Well, maybe in the future, who can really tell? But when people cite this or that example: a store closing, a firm going out of business, or other things that happen to businesses everywhere, well, tell them Expedia thought it would be better to come to Seattle.

The campus, which is on Smith Cove in the Interbay neighborhood, measures 750,000 square feet. Expedia, which employs around 3,000 people in the region and nearly 15,000 worldwide, reportedly is looking for a new 700,000-square-foot headquarters. Real estate brokers said the company wanted a Seattle address and is looking to buy a facility. Amgen (Nasdaq: AMGN) is winding down operations in the Puget Sound region, and could sell the Seattle campus.

Earlier this year, Expedia CFO Mark Okerstrom said the company was considering relocating its corporate headquarters. He said the company was “not constraining ourselves to the downtown Bellevue area in terms of our search.”

Of course, there are plenty of reasons that a company moves to Seattle, and obviously just having a $15 minimum wage wasn’t why. But it also wasn’t a hindrance here. And to be clear: I hope the Bellevue finds a good replacement for Expedia. Losing that will be a hit. But there is a bit of schadenfreude seeing these things happening and thinking of the people saying these sorts of laws would destroy jobs in Seattle.

Maybe if Bellevue wants better jobs, they can do the types of things Seattle has done. Or they could do it because it’s the right thing for people working there.

Open Thread 4-1

- I don’t mean to alarm you, but today is known as Spy Wednesday

– In a previous open thread, I mentioned that Cathy McMorris Rodgers put a call out to her Facebook followers that they tell her about Obamacare, and most had nice things to say. Well, apparently that’s the haters hating.

– Welcome to the City Council race, James Keblas

This is the tragic irony of the culture wars: The casualties tend to be the very people Jesus went out of his way to serve: the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the outcasts, the people ostracized and deemed “sinners” by the religious elite. And when the world sees Christians hurting rather than helping such people, in the name of political gain, our testimony is profoundly diminished

The men behind of these efforts — one based in Arkansas, one in Florida — claim to be forming armed squads of militiamen to fly into ISIS hotspots in Iraq and Syria and combat the enemy on the ground. Neither, however, appear to be anything more than a fundraising operation built around pure fantasies.

A Baseball Story