I’ve got a new piece up on Publicola: coverage of last Thursday’s affordable housing town hall organized by city council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata. They introduced a resolution endorsing rent control and condemning the statewide ban on the policy mechanism—legislation which they hope will be ratified by their colleagues on the council with enough public support and grassroots pressure. The council members want to stoke a social movement akin to last year’s successful campaign for a $15 minimum wage by capitalizing on the abundance of anger and anxiety over Seattle’s through-the-roof rents, emotions which were reflected at Thursday night’s meeting. Naturally, local pro-development advocates are livid, and that’s all in there.
Standing room only at Sawant & Licata’s affordable housing town hall.
Also, not a single 11th grader at Nathan Hale High School in north Seattle took the SBAC test—a state mandated common core oriented standardized test—King 5 reports. The test (and its equivalent: PARCC) has been rolled out in numerous other states, and resulted in similar controversy and resistance. In case you missed it, read my feature story for Real Change News from early April on the build up to Nathan Hale’s massive student opt-out.
Yesterday Publicola followed the money on the eight hopeful finalists all jockeying for Sally Clark’s vacated city council seat. Here’s what we found out about where they’ve been dishing out their money over the years—candidates, campaigns, initiatives, etc—and what that might mean for Friday’s final selection of the temporary “caretaker” as sitting council president Tim Burgess dubbed the position.
To get a sense of the incumbent council members’ allegiances (they were also the selectors of the eight finalists) check out Publicola editor Josh Feit’s reporting on which council members voted for whom during the vetting process of the initial 44 giddy applicants.
– A recent ‘sting’ study produced by the National Abortion Rights Action League [NARAL] and Northwest Health Law Advocacy [NoHLA] revealed that numerous health insurance providers in Washington are providing misleading and inaccurate information about contraceptive coverage, with some even charging copays for FDA-approved methods—a practice that is illegal under the Affordable Care Act. Over at Publicola we reported on the study’s findings, and the Washington Health Insurance Commissioner’s response. Check out my write-up (the first item) in last Thursday’s morning fizz. We tried calling the eight sample companies for comment, but none of them warmed up to us.
Page two of the NARAL/NoHLA study executive summary, highlighting the findings
On Thursday morning, environmentalists gathered at Jack Perry Memorial Park to launch a blimp reading “ShellNo, Join the Flotilla!” The blimp floated upwards of 150 feet in the air and served as an effort to both bring attention to the eventual docking of Shell oil drilling rigs in Seattle waters—terminal 5 at the Port of Seattle to be specific—and call on the public to participate in direct action via a kayak flotilla to halt the Shell fleet in its tracks. Check out my photos and The Stranger’s Sydney Brownstone’s reporting on Thursday’s demonstration, as well as more shots below. And here’s some back story on the Port of Seattle’s efforts to welcome Shell vessels with open arms.
Activists prepare to launch the blimp at Jack Perry Memorial Park.
As the Legislature continues to nervously stare down both the McCleary State Supreme Court ruling to fully fund public k-12 education the and recently passed initiative I-1351 to reduce class sizes, several Seattle legislators proposed a controversial bill to deal with long-standing issues in city schools. Their solution? Split the Seattle school district.
The prospect of such a bill had some elements of the Seattle education community up in arms. But to the relief of critics, the bill died and never made it to the House floor for a vote.
The legislation had previously seemed to be carrying momentum behind it. Towards the beginning of the legislative session, democratic representatives Eric Pettigrew and Sharon Tomiko Santos of the 37th legislative district co-sponsored house bill 2048, which would have required that any school districts be larger than 35,000 students be split in smaller separate districts by 2018. Seattle school district has close to 50,000 students.
Rep. Sharon Tomiko Santos (D-37)
In a joint statement Pettigrew and Santos called out the district for “failing” to produce better academic outcomes and opportunities for students and proclaimed that “something has to change for the students of South Seattle schools.”
Word about the bill had gotten out at that point, and representatives from the Seattle Council Parent Teacher & Student Association [PTSA], Seattle Public Schools [SPS], and others testified against the legislation at a February 10th education committee hearing. All who spoke were vehemently opposed to HB 2048. Seattle School Board Member Dr. Stephan Blanford called the bill “shocking,” adding that it would exacerbate pre-existing inequity in Seattle schools.
On the morning of Wednesday March 18th employees of the Space Needle Corporation gathered outside the Seattle landmark to protest working for over 1,000 days without any kind of raise. After employees, and council members Kshama Sawant and Nick Licata spoke to the assembled crowd, the group marched over to the Space Needle Corporation offices only blocks away and handed a list of demands with signatures of employees to the corporation’s public relations manager. Media were quickly told upon entry onto the premises of the office to stop taking pictures and filming. Most of us snagged a few shots anyway. Read The Stranger’s Sydney Brownstone’s reporting on both the event and the space needle’s history of labor-related issues.
As a journalist who tries to write about things that matter, I occasionally get flack from folks who think I’m not being ‘objective’ enough. For example:
Usually what these critics mean is that my angle is insufficiently flattering to their own worldview; accusing me of violating (what they take to be) one of the basic rules of journalism is easier than articulating, in a non-circular way, why I’m wrong.
But here’s the thing: objectivity doesn’t exist. Honesty does, in the sense of avoiding straw men and voicing the strongest articulations of both (or all) sides of a controversy. And accuracy does, in the sense of a correspondence between what I describe in my stories and what actually happens in the world. But objectivity? That’s nothing more than a rhetorical stance.
Here’s the beginning of my first Letter From the Editor at the Central Circuit:
This overdue post brings you a smattering of recent projects that I’ve produced or worked on in some capacity over the past three weeks:
My photography was published alongside several nimby stories in the January 14th issue of Real Change News: one on the ACLU condemned attempt by the City of Burien to criminalize poor hygiene, and the other regarding Ballard residents squawking at the prospect of having low-income or homeless people frequenting a under construction urban rest stop in the area. Both articles were written by RCN staff reporter Aaron Burkhalter.
On Saturday, January 10th, #Blacklivesmatter protesters calling for police accountability marched from Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park to the King County Youth Detention Center at 12th and Alder in the Central District. The march was organized by an activist group called Women of Color for Systemic Change, and remained entirely peaceful without arrests or other incidents. The march shut down several intersections along Rainier avenue south and elsewhere where protesters discussed broader institutional racism and more specific issues such as gentrification in Seattle and the proposed construction of a new 210 million dollar Youth Detention Center. Many bystanders raised their hands or fists in solidarity with the march. Below are photos taken at the event.