Seattle $15 Minimum Wage Ordinance to Go Unchallenged on November 2014 Ballot

For all the hoo-hah over threatened challenges to Seattle’s historic $15 minimum wage ordinance, there will be no minimum wage measures on the ballot this fall. Nada. Bubkes. Zilch.

Shortly after a group of local business owners calling themselves “Forward Seattle” announced a proposed charter amendment to instead raise the city’s minimum wage to $12.50 over five years, City Attorney Pete Holmes let it be known that voter-proposed charter amendments can only be run in odd-numbered years. Holmes is out of town and unavailable for comment, but a quick perusal of the city charter and the Revised Code of Washington suggests he’s right. Article XX, Section 2 of the charter states that amendments proposed by voters are to be ratified at “the next general municipal election,” while RCW 29A.04.330 clearly says that city general elections are to be held in “odd-numbered years.” And in case you think the intent is vague, Article XX, Section 1 makes a clear distinction from council-proposed amendments, which are to be ratified in the “next general state or municipal election.” There’s really no other way to read this language.

Which is really pretty amusing given how Forward Seattle’s home page makes a point of boasting: “We’ve met with experts, we’ve hired consultants, and we’re ready to make this happen.” Sounds like their experts and consultants owe them a refund.

Of course, I suppose this is also embarrassing for, which has been gathering signatures for its own impossible minimum wage charter amendment—but no more embarrassing than it is to all the political and business insiders who allowed $15 Now to bully them into compromise by holding an empty gun to their heads. A couple weeks ago the chatter in City Hall was that $15 Now would go to the ballot almost regardless of what the council passed. Didn’t anybody bother to read the charter and make sure the socialists had their ducks in a row?

I didn’t. But I’m just some dumb blogger, not one of the high priced consultants and attorneys that helped broker this deal.

Why Holmes never bothered to tell $15 Now that its charter amendment would have to wait until 2015, I don’t know. But with yesterday’s statement he kinda did $15 Now a favor. While Kshama Sawant and the rest of $15 Now’s leadership has already declared victory, there remains a lot of pressure from within the rank and and file of the organization to continue to the 2014 ballot with their more sweeping measure. But now we know that’s impossible. Divisive debate averted.

And in case you’re wondering, yes, it would be virtually impossible at this late date to go through all the procedural hurdles to file a city initiative and gather enough signatures to qualify for the November 2014 ballot without the implicit cooperation of the city council. Which nobody would get. So there will be no minimum wage ballot measures this fall.

As for yesterday’s other “news,” that HA namesake Tim Eyman has filed an initiative to the legislature seeking to preempt municipal minimum wage laws, well, who the fuck cares? Eyman files dozens of initiatives a year trolling for financial backers, and this one is weak even by his spindly standards.

The minimum wage is hugely popular statewide, last passing by a two-to-one margin in 1998, winning all 39 counties. So who would put money behind this dog? Not the Washington Restaurant Association, which I’m told tacitly agreed not the challenge Seattle’s ordinance in exchange for the longer phase-in and temporary tip credit. Longtime Eyman sugar daddy Michael Dunmire is dead. This isn’t part of Kemper Freman Jr.’s trains = communism obsession. AWB has been quietly advising members to distance themselves from Eyman’s antics.

Eyman is nothing without other people’s money, and his funding sources have been drying up. 2014 will be the first year without an Eyman initiative on the ballot since 2006. He’s a paper tiger. Good riddance.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    Hmm, I didn’t know Dunmire left us. Here’s an excerpt from his obit:

    “Mike’s love of his country and state was profound, which led him to become actively involved in planning and supporting many initiatives in Washington State. He was passionate about his beliefs and defended them quite fiercely.”

    The obit also says he “proudly served his country as a Lieutenant in the US Army in Germany from 1966-1968.”

    Translation to English: He didn’t volunteer for Vietnam, like I and many others did. Thus, it seems his love of country ended where preserving his ass started. Not what you’d call an all-in guy.

    Roger Rabbit Commentary: It’s certainly correct to describe rightwing ideologues as passionate. Lacking facts or logic to support their beliefs, blind emotion is all that’s left, so they have to make the most of that.

  2. 2

    rob! spews:

    AWB being the Association of Washington Business? (Is everybody there born knowing that?)

  3. 3

    Moderate Man spews:

    I think it is great that neither opponents nor “Now” supporters can put anything regarding the $15 wage on the ballot this year. In fact, why doesn’t everyone take a breather for a few years and let the new wage phase in. Let’s run the experiment. We can revisit it in 2020 or so and see how the pieces that have phased in are working.

  4. 4

    you gotta be kidding spews:

    So I would guess we should expect competing initiatives the following year in 2015. Provided Eyman doesn’t somehow manage to get something done in Olympia first, he may be nothing w/o others people money, but he may find backers.

  5. 5

    Steve spews:

    The $12.50 min wage issue will and can go and collect
    their signatures now. I think they knew what they were
    doing. The Citycouncil woman knew what she was doing
    now she should continue with here 15Now and see if she
    can get the required signatures to put it on the ballot.