Political Buzz

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Category: King County

April
25th

Supreme Court: Recall effort against Pacific mayor Cy Sun can proceed

The state Supreme Court, in an opinion issued this morning, has found that a recall effort against Pacific Mayor Cy Sun is legally sufficient to move ahead.

Donald Thomson filed a so-called “statement of charges” against Sun in August 2012. Thomson cited a number of instances of alleged misconduct he contends makes Sun unfit for office. King County Superior Court Judge Laura Inveen found two of those charges sufficient to be put before voters:

* That Sun used the city’s police department as his personal investigative force.

* That he jeopardized the city’s liability insurance coverage by not filling vacant department

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March
5th

Washington politicians who wanted to join Obama administration should have endorsed Hillary Clinton in 2008

Or so it seems.

Leading up to Washington’s presidential primary in 2008, Hillary Clinton was making a hard push for endorsements from the state’s leading politicians. That was considered the safe move as Barack Obama, though leading, was still the underdog for the Democratic nomination.

Winning these big-name endorsements had more than nominal effect. Most were also super delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

At the time it was considered pretty brave to stand up with Obama instead of Clinton. But that’s what Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire did at a Feb. 8 rally in a packed Key Arena. Also on

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Feb.
9th

Crosscut’s Eric Scigliano details Clear Channel’s failed attempts to win digital billboard approval in King County, Washington state

Eric Scigliano has been watching the digital billboard issue from a statewide perspective and provides a good update on Clear Channel’s lobbying at the King County courthouse and in Olympia.

His report on Crosscut shows how the company was close to winning approval in unincorporated King County but the council has now tabled the ordinance. It has also been unsuccessful in winning approval from the state.

Even Clear Channel — which is owned by Bain Capital (of Mitt Romney fame) and other private equity partners — does not possess unlimited persuasive powers. Late last month both King County and

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Nov.
8th

Election Night Plans for the News Tribune’s Political Buzz

I’ll be blogging throughout the evening with help from our reporters and, once again, a crew of students from Pacific Lutheran University.

We’ll have writers and photographers at the Pierce County voting center, the Seattle election-night parties for the liquor and tolling initiatives and at some results-watching events around the Tacoma area. The Tacoma firefighters hall will host those hoping the county 911 tax hike passes. The backers of Tacoma’s Prop. 1 on marijuana enforcement will gather at a dispensary in Nalley Valley.

I’ll also be Tweeting @CallaghanPeter and the News Tribune will retweet the highlights @TheNewsTribune.

Election night was

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Aug.
12th

King County report says all-mail voting hasn’t increased turnout, hasn’t reduced costs. (But at least all the ballots are counted now)

The Seattle Times has a story this morning on an assessment of King County’s switch to all-mail voting.

Prior to 2009, King County used the same hybrid system as Pierce – liberal vote-by-mail rules but the retention of precinct voting for those who preferred to vote in person. The rationale for changing to all-mail was that it would increase voter turnout and eliminate the expense of opening and staffing the polls.

But the county council report, based on somewhat limited comparisons, says neither has happened.

“It is interesting to note that voting by mail appears to have made no

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June
14th

Update: Ron Sims tells Times he’s just homesick, won’t run for governor

That’s what Jim Brunner reports after talking to Ron Sims about the timing of his announcement that he is quitting his job in D.C.

Coming just a day after Gov. Chris Gregoire confirmed that the 2012 race for governor will be without an incumbent was just a coincidence. Sims, the former King County Executive and county councilman, said he just wanted to come home.

“…Sims said the decision was entirely personal, saying he’d grown weary of living thousands of miles away from his wife, Cayan Topacio. While he said he’s happy with what he accomplished at HUD, ‘in the

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May
11th

Top earners in King County government? No. 2 might surprise you

Now posted in our SoundInfo section is 2010 pay information for King County. To access the database of county employee salaries click here.

I found a few interesting nuggets in the data for the organization, which has more than 16,000 employees providing everything from animal control to public health to law enforcement to transit services. Among them:

• The top paid employee for King County, somewhat predictably, was Public Health Director David Fleming, who made $263,077 last year. Among those in the top 25 highest paid, 14 were Department of Public Health employees.

• No. 2 was more of a surprise: Sheriff’s Deputy Michael Miner took in $226,756, though his hourly rate was $38.50 or about $80,000 a year straight time. He was one of five deputies to earn more than Sheriff Sue Rahr’s $160,497 and one of nearly 200 department employees to earn six figures. Overtime in the King County Sheriff’s Office has been an ongoing issue as reported here and here.

• County Executive Dow Constantine was the highest paid among elected officials at $196,675. Others were Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg ($162,489), Rahr, Elections Director Sherril Huff ($154,138), Assessor Lloyd Hara ($150,950), District Court judges (who earned about $140,000) and County Council members, who were paid from $115,558 to $131,421.

• Running some raw averages, here’s what folks in various job titles made: Electrician II ($81,036), Corrections Officer ($73,378), Human Resource Analyst ($64,570), IT Project Manager II ($68,581), Mechanic ($68,617), Nutritionist I ($37,499), Deputy ($95,863), Accountant ($64,074), Transit Operator (48,489), Animal Control Officer ($43,459).

• 1,825 out of 16,700-some employees made more than $100,000 last year.

Below is the list of the top 25 highest paid employees in the county.
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April
7th

Seattle Convention Center and the arts: How a dead bill becomes undead

We often write about deadlines in the Washington State Legislature. The self-imposed cutoffs are created to narrow down the number of issues as the session progresses and help the Legislature adjourn on time.

In the final weeks of session, only budgets, bills needed to implement those budgets and bills that have passed both house but in different forms (so-called bills in dispute) are alive.

But we all know that when they say a bill is “dead” we should always add “unless it’s not.”

Take House Bill 1997 as a case study. The bill would keep in place a handful of taxes that were created in 1995 to build Safeco Field. Under the original bill, all taxes are to expire the moment the stadium bonds are paid off and that will happen sometime this summer.

A coalition of arts backers, low-income housing advocates, International District residents and Seattle Convention Center supporters – all under the leadership of King County Executive Dow Constantine – have pushed HB 1997 to use the taxes collected in King County for new projects.

King County Executive Dow Constantine

These are pretty powerful interests in Seattle – a lot of wealthy people are arts patrons and both the business community and labor are behind the convention center expansion. Yet there is push back from others who say the bill breaks a Read more »