You, Me, Us, Now: Campaign Edition

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Subscribe to You, Me, Us, Now (iTunes link)

Starting a few weeks ago, I relaunched my podcast as a special "Campaign Edition". Hanna Brooks Olsen and I get together to talk about the campaign, how campaigning works and the campaign issues.

So many people ask me "how do you run for office" or "what is it like to run" that I thought a podcast was a great way to explore those questions. And Hanna is a great interviewer and fun to hang out with.

Note, if you were a prior subscriber to You, Me, Us, Now, delete and reload to update the episodes. We thought the switch to a new feed would be seamless, but apparently not! For full episode descriptions and more info, go to mikemcginn.co. 

Give it a listen and I hope you enjoy. 

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Statement on the shooting death of Charleena Lyles

The shooting death of Charleena Lyles is devastating to her children, her family and our community. It is shocking that a call to report a burglary could escalate to her death.

As a city we have been here before. An interaction with a person of color, or someone with mental health issues, leading to death at the hands of the police. Residents of our city rightly demand to know how the encounter could escalate, why the police resorted to deadly force, and what could and should have been done differently to prevent needless death.

And while we can point to the consent decree with the Department of Justice as having made important changes, this shooting brings home that the problem goes far deeper than what a consent decree can accomplish. 

There will be an investigation that we can hope will shed greater light on what exactly happened in Charleena Lyles' apartment. But we also know that process will be ultimately unsatisfactory, and unacceptable for the changes we want to see.

I am going to detail why - not out of cynicism, but because we have to confront the depth of the problem.

The process will be long. The city will investigate use of force, the county will conduct a legal inquest, the prosecutor will decide whether to bring charges, and during all this time the officers will remain on the police force. The contract with the union does not permit officer discipline until those processes are complete. Justice will not move close to the speed with which Charleena Lyles' life ended, if justice ever occurs.

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Municipal broadband--it's time

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For over a decade Seattle has talked about building a municipal broadband network. The time is now.

Owning our own broadband network has multiple benefits. It would support our local economy, connect our residents to opportunity, preserve net neutrality, and save us money. Other cities, and other nations, have seen the benefits of connecting everyone to the internet with reliable high-speed connections and we need to do the same.

The biggest objection so far has been cost - according to a 2015 study constructing a municipal fiber optic broadband network to serve every house in Seattle is projected to cost between $440-660 million dollars.  That would run fiber optic cable down every street, accessible to every household.

But if you only look at the construction cost you miss the bigger picture - which is how much money you save by not having to pay Comcast or CenturyLink for your service.  When you compare the two, you get gigabit speed uploads and downloads and you put money back in your pocket.

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Time to hit pause on KeyArena process--to protect taxpayers and sports fans

Yesterday AEG withdrew its proposal to renovate Key Arena for concerts and for potential NBA and NHL partners. I believe this was a direct consequence of a process being rushed for political purposes. Taxpayers, and NBA and NHL fans deserve better.

Whether you support the SODO Arena, a Key Arena renovation, or none of the above, this news should be concerning. For the record, I support approving the street vacation in SODO, the last step to make that arena shovel-ready.  I have also supported the process for looking at options at Key Arena to determine if new proposals can meet our objectives.

But the Key Arena RFP process appears to be closing off options, not opening up new ones.  AEG claims the process has been rushed, unfair and not transparent. So they are withdrawing their proposal.

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Trump’s withdrawal from Paris Climate Accord does not speak for Seattle

Today, Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords - the long fought for international framework for reducing climate emissions. It is another of his reckless actions dividing us from the international community and threatening our future.

There are ways to fight back.

Seattle should join New York City and other local governments and commit itself to following the Paris Accords. The world needs to hear that Trump does not speak for all Americans. A chorus of forceful statements from cities and states can bolster the resolve of other countries, with the hope that the U.S. will one day rejoin the international community.

But forceful statements are not enough. Seattle can lead by example.

 

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Getting Light Rail Done Faster

Sound Transit can build light rail faster than the current schedule if Seattle commits to finding innovative solutions in partnership with the regional transit agency to expedite permitting and financing of planned projects.

Passing Sound Transit 3 was exciting for Seattle because it promised light rail to Ballard and West Seattle, as well as an infill station at Graham Street. The excitement was tempered however, because ST won’t build the West Seattle line until 2031, the Graham infill station until 2032, or the Ballard line until 2036.  

Light rail lines take a long time under the best of circumstances - planning, permitting and construction generally takes at least ten years, and frequently  longer.

There is potential for delay at every step. With its expansive work plan, ST could prioritize its planning resources for other projects.  Lengthy fights over alignment or permits could also extend planning or permitting well past ST’s goal of 4.3 years.  

But even when permitting is complete, Sound Transit has another issue - it must stage its projects to reflect its cash flow.  ST construction is paid for with borrowing, and ST can only borrow so much at a time. That is how it has paid for past and ongoing construction. As revenues come in to pay down those bonds, ST borrows more to advance the later projects. That sequencing is understandable, but it means that light rail to West Seattle and Ballard will take longer than required by the technical logistics of building a light rail line.

Seattle can potentially help shave years off the timeline if it works to accelerate planning and permitting, and partners with Sound Transit to ease the cash flow crunch.  That means coming to the table with resources that are meaningful enough to make a difference.  

So here is my commitment if elected:

1.  Work with Sound Transit to front load planning for Seattle projects as much as possible. To prevent delaying other regional projects, that probably means Seattle needs to come forward with monetary contributions or other resources. In 2011 we did that to advance joint planning to Ballard, which actually led to Sound Transit advancing its planning regionwide.

2.  Work with Sound Transit to identify how to shorten the permitting process consistent with sound analysis and public input. We need to ensure we don’t end up the way Bellevue did, locked in a long dispute over alignment.  If we do step 1 and 2 right, we can move more quickly with construction if moneys become available from any source.  Recall, this is a multiyear process, and we should not yet give up hope that we might get a transit-friendly President and Congress in the years to come.

3. Work with Sound Transit to understand how much money they would need, and when, in order to significantly advance the timelines to complete Seattle projects. We could then assess Seattle’s ability to either use its borrowing ability to to make bridge loans to Sound Transit, or our ability to help finance some parts of the project.

Let’s be clear, this would be complex and potentially expensive. But given Seattle’s extraordinary transportation issues, we need to examine all possibilities to get light rail to more neighborhoods faster.

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Statement on Community Police Commission legislation

This week, the City Council will consider legislation to define the authority of the Community Police Commission (CPC) and make it permanent. In the words of reform advocates on the Commission, it’s a defining moment.

I know from my experience as Mayor the degree to which institutions can resist change and bog down reforms in bureaucratic inertia. I also know the role that politics can play, and the desire of elected officials to hide problems so that the people in charge can look better.

That is why I support the strongest possible community oversight and urge the council to pass the amendments recommended by the Community Police Commission. I also urge other candidates for Mayor to support the CPC recommendations before the Council votes May 22.

Community oversight is so important - it can hold all of us to our ideals for a police force.  One that is effective, free of bias and excessive use of force, and trusted by the community.  

I worked to create the Community Police Commission when I was mayor, as part of the settlement agreement and consent decree with the Department of Justice.

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