The good, the bad, and the ugly v.2016

It's the 2016 version of Jabe's voters' guide! If you find this useful, please forward/post it far and wide, especially if you have some undecided friends willing to think about the recommendations. (Even better are undecided friends willing to blindly follow the recommendations.) The fine print:

  • The views expressed here are mine and mine alone, etc., etc..
  • I focus on ballot measures, but include a few important/interesting candidate races.
  • If you want my half-informed opinions on other races (or just want off this list) send me an email.
  • For details and generally good summaries, check out the State Voters' Pamphlet and King County Voter Guide.
  • For generally good candidate and issue summaries and links, check out Fuse's Progressive Voters Guide.
  • This year someone recommended the "Seattlish" voters guide which I quite like (with some nits). Despite the name, it covers the state not just Seattle.
  • The following will make a lot more sense if you have your ballot in front of you.


Only have 60 seconds? The Reader's Digest version:

  • Initiative 1433: Minimum wage.YES!
  • Initiative 1464: More honest elections. YES!
  • Initiative 1491: Gun responsibility. YES!.
  • Initiative 1501: Protection for the elderly (and workers). Yes.
  • Initiative 732: Carbon tax. Yes, No, Maybe? Sorry you gotta read it.
  • Initiative 735: Overturn Citizens United. YES!
  • Advisory Votes 14 & 15: The idiotic legacy of the idiot Eyman. MAINTAIN!
  • Senate Joint Resolution 8210: Redistricting. YES!
  • King Co. Charter Amendment 1: Nonpartisan prosecutor. Yes.
  • King Co. Charter Amendment 2: Gender-Neutral Language. YES!
  • Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1: Public transportation. YES!
  • Seattle Initiative 124: Protection for hotel workers. YES!
  • For a few candidate recommendations, scroll to the bottom.

Have 20 minutes? Here's some more detail.

Initiative 1433: Minimum wage. YES!

Note that I'm not an economist, nor do I play one on TV. But the significant majority of studies I've read – and thrilling reads they are, I laughed, I cried – show that increasing the minimum wage is good economic – and economic justice – policy. It doesn't kill jobs or businesses, it doesn't drive employers away, it especially helps people at or below the poverty level living in expensive places to live (like just about all of Puget Sound), and the resulting increased buying power and financial security leads to more spending, greater economic activity and more jobs. That said, I've got two concerns:

One is that it's not clear at what point those increases start to be counter-productive, producing lower employment and hours-worked that offset the increased hourly wages. While that is a reasonable concern to raise, one reason for the lack of clarity is that there don't seem to be any places where the minimum wage has been increased so high that you can demonstrate a clear negative economic impact. The opponents of 1433 argue that "our state can't absorb a 30% wage increase" (which is of course misleading, as we're talking minimum wages, not overall average wages, which will barely be affected) but there have been other minimum wage increases of that % magnitude around the country without evidence of net economic harm. That should give us confidence that while raising the minimum wage to, say, $20/hour, might not be good policy, a gradual increase to $13.50 will be a positive thing, at least in a places like King, Snohomish and Pierce Counties where the median hourly wage and the "livable wage" is so, so far above $13.50.

That thought brings me to my second, and more serious, concern. Economic circumstances are quite different in different parts of the state. Compared to King County, Yakima County has twice the unemployment rate, half the median hourly wage, and 33% lower cost of living. And while the median wage and "livable wage" in Yakima County are still well above the proposed minimum wage, it seems likely that the transition will be harder in some parts of the state than others. In 2015, the Oregon legislature passed a tiered minimum wage increase, over 6 years, to $14.75 inside Portland's urban growth boundary, $13.50 in midsize counties and $12.50 in "frontier" areas. This seems like a "fairer" approach, though the people who pushed this through the legislature said that it wasn't based on any studies, just on political realities and that the only reason the legislature passed it was because of the threat of a flat $15/hour initiative. The 1433 campaign told me that would have been happy with a similar outcome and, as in Oregon, gave the legislature ample warning of their initiative in the hope of spurring them to action. But they said that if/when the legislature failed to act – the blame for that lying overwhelmingly with the Republican controlled do-nothing Senate – a tiered approach would have been too complicated for an initiative, where complexity is the enemy. I'm not 100% convinced of that but it's a plausible argument.

Having gotten those concerns off my chest, the bottom line for me is that while I think this minimum wage hike might be only marginally positive and possibly neutral in some parts of the state, and cause some transitional pain, it will be a significant positive for the vast majority of that state's low wage workers (many more of whom live in places like King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties than in places like Yakima County). And, until its makeup changes significantly (wouldn't that be nice?), the State legislature isn't going to do anything better or even as good as 1433.

Finally, the paid sick leave aspects of 1433 are also a good and long overdue thing (see Norway, Sweden, and Finland for how that social safety net thing works). For more, see these analyses by the Children’s Alliance and the Economic Opportunity Institute.

Hence my strong "Yes".

If you want to read more, here are some things you might find interesting:

  • A very balanced NY Times article. It takes the concerns seriously though I found the following most consistent with my own "studies": Michael Reich, an economics professor at the University of California, Berkeley — whose work policy makers in Los Angeles and New York State have relied on to analyze their recent efforts to raise the minimum wage — said that, in his models, the overall economic effect of a $15 minimum wage was roughly neutral, even when it amounted to 60 percent of the median wage. The reason, he said, is that the negative economic consequences of a higher wage — namely, lower employment, partly because of greater automation, and declining sales because of price increases — were offset by greater purchasing power on the part of workers, which would lift economic activity in an area. As for low-cost cities where the impact could be even larger, Mr. Reich said low-wage workers in places like Fresno were not so differently paid from low-wage workers in higher-cost cities — despite the fact that typical wages in those cities are far apart. "Even if the average wage differential between Fresno and the rest of the state is about 25 percent," Mr. Reich said, "just within retail and restaurants you find that the wage differential is more like 5 percent."

  • A "pro" Washington Post article on minimum wage increases.

  • A UW report – referenced by both the pro and con forces in the State Voters' Pamphlet – looking at the initial impacts of the increased minimum wage in Seattle. To be honest, I didn't find it that informative because it's just too early in the phased-in increase and the ratio of noise (overall booming economy) to signal (minimum wage increase) is just too high to tell anything. But it did state clearly that:"We do not find compelling evidence that the minimum wage has caused significant increases in business failure rates. Moreover, if there has been any increase in business closings caused by the Minimum Wage Ordinance, it has been more than offset by an increase in business openings."

  • A more interesting (but dense) study comparing restaurant workers (who are often cited by competing sides as either beneficiaries or victims of minimum wage increases) in counties that span the border between states with different minimum wage regimes. It found discernible wage increases and no discernible job losses among these workers in the states with the higher minimum wage.

Initiative 1464: More honest elections. YES!

This measure does several distinct things, all designed to decrease the impact of money in politics. It is no silver bullet, but each individual features is a positive step that helps advance the "meme" that we can create a fairer, more honest electoral system. 1464 creates a "citizen-funded campaign" option funded by repealing the sales tax-exemption for non-residents (an exemption that has always been a stupid idea for a state so stupidly dependent on sales taxes); makes it harder for former elected officials to immediately go work as lobbyists; restricts campaign contributions from lobbyists and public contractors; increases penalties for violation of campaign laws (which are currently too low to be an effective deterrent); and requires greater identification of contributors to PACs. Much of the policy design behind this measure is from Seattle's Sightline Institute, which was also behind Seattle's successful "Honest Elections" measure passed last year. Here is Sightline's series on 1464. Obviously they are for it, so are not "unbiased", but it is the best explanation out there of the problem and how 1464 helps address it.

It's worth noting that Washington is not breaking new ground here. Many other parts of the countries, and several entire states, have citizen-funded campaign programs. If you want to dive in more deeply into this, you might find this report from the Campaign Finance Institute of interest. Again, the group is obviously in favor of publicly funded elections, so it not "unbiased", but then cancer doctors are "biased" against cancer and we think that's a good thing. It finds: "It is obvious – certainly in the new world of independent spending – that citizen funding programs cannot squeeze private money out of politics. However, a properly designed program can increase the proportional importance of small donors to candidates and increase participation by an economically and demographically more representative cadre of campaign supporters. Candidates may choose to depend on large donors if they wish, but a well-structured program can make it possible for a candidate to choose otherwise. In the most effective programs, substantial percentages of the candidates make this choice and participate. Interestingly, these results probably do not occur because small donors react spontaneously and directly to matching funds or tax credits. Instead, the research suggests (but is not yet conclusive ) that the incentives work by affecting candidates (or political parties and other intermediary actors). The small donors are worth more (both financially and as volunteers), so the candidates and others are willing to spend more time and resources to mobilize them."

As to the objection that publicly funded elections are too expensive, the amount of money involved is surprisingly small – a total of $173M over its first 6 years – and if 1464 is even marginally successful, that expense should be more than compensated for by less societal money spent on our current broken campaign system as well better as fewer of the unnecessary tax breaks and poorly negotiated contracts that result from our current lobbying system. (Hint, these lobbyists are not lobbying for public citizens.) The name of the opposition – – is laughable. If Rob McKenna, who co-authored the "anti" argument, was actually concerned about the $B+/annual shortfall in education funding, he would have had a very different platform when had ran for governor. Maybe he would have even won.

Initiative 1491: Gun responsibility. YES!

Phew, an easier one! This measure "would allow courts to issue 'extreme risk protection orders.' These orders would prevent a person who poses a significant danger to himself/herself or others from possessing or accessing firearms." This is another intentionally very modest and extremely reasonable step to advance the "meme" that, yes, gun ownership is a protected right, but it comes with the responsibility to not erode the even greater "right" of freedom from unreasonable threat or fear of gun violence. It's hard to imagine anyone being against this very reasonable measure excepting gun nuts who fear that any restrictions of any kind will lead inevitably to black helicopters taking over our God-fearing homeland. But the "antis" found one mental health advocate to argue against 1491 on the grounds that it stigmatizes people with mental illness. So, let's be clear, people with mental health problems are absolutely and routinely and unfairly stigmatized in this country. And perhaps 1491 could have been worded differently while achieving the same outcomes. But none of the several mental health care professionals that I know of list gun access restrictions, let alone the verbiage in gun legislation, as one of the top 20 forms of stigmatization that they worry about. Meanwhile they do worry about too-easy access to guns in exactly the circumstances when it should be harder not easier. The final line of the "anti" argument in the State Voters' Pamphlet is laughable: "Confiscating firearms doesn't make someone stable, it makes them mad." Yes, but they are then mad without a gun rather than made with a gun, and leaving them with a gun doesn't make them stable either. So not stable and armed, or not stable and unarmed? Hmm, tough one, let me think, let me think…

Initiative 1501: Protection for the elderly (and workers). Yes.

This one is a bit hard and more than a bit unpleasant. In addition to putting in place stronger protections against identity theft and fraud targeted at the elderly and vulnerable, 1501 makes it harder for the "anti" side – the far right-wing, Koch brothers-funded, anti-worker Freedom Foundation – to access the personal information of unionized caregivers so that they can target them in their anti-union harassment and misinformation campaigns. The claim of the "anti" side in the State Voters' Pamphlet that 1501 is more motivated by SEIU's concern for its membership than its concern for the elderly seems, alas, accurate to me. But SEIU actually has some history of fighting for the elderly, while the Freedom Foundation has a history of not giving a rat's ass about the rights of the elderly, or workers, or voters. Do a little Googling and you'll learn all you need to know about the Freedom Foundation:

I'm far from being a labor union "fan-boy" and really dislike some of their tactics. But I absolutely believe in the critical importance of collective bargaining in our completely unjust and unequal economic and political system that pits the 99% against the 1%, with most of the power in the hands of the 1%. And whatever their flaws and tactics, the unions are on the right side of that fight.

In this case the protections for the elderly in 1501 are reasonable and good. As they address penalties but not detection or prosecution, they of course won't stop the rapidly growing computer-related fraud targeting the elderly. The tougher question is whether it is reasonable to not release the personal information of caregivers, even those paid with public dollars. I would say yes but it would be an exception from state public-disclosure rules.

What pains me about this measure is that it will likely reinforce misplaced but understandable cynicism about initiatives and unions – which is what most of the editorials have focused on – and lost in the discussion will be the real need to increase protections for the elderly and the right-wing anti-worker threat of the Freedom Foundation.

So, perhaps ironically, because I agree with the Freedom Foundation that this initiative is more about protecting unions than protecting the elderly and because I think the Freedom Foundation and the Koch brothers are a genuine threat to a progressive society, while the unions, generally, are working for a more progressive society, I'm going to get over my reservations and vote "Yes".

Initiative 732: Carbon tax. Yes, No, Maybe? Sorry you gotta read it.

This is the hardest measure I've ever written about. I suspect I'll satisfy no one and piss off many. All I'd ask is that if you read any of the following, read the whole thing, as you might be surprised by where it ends up. So here goes…

732 is a very strong carbon price signal. It reaches $25/ton in a year then goes up at 3.5% (plus inflation) every year until it reaches $100/ton. And it is economy wide. All else being equal, it is a really good thing. But all else is not equal.

732 attempts to be revenue neutral but isn’t. While some groups dispute this, they are all in favor of 732. The official analysis by the Office of Financial Management
– not political appointees of the governor but staff analysts, the people who do the legally required financial impact statements for the State Voters’ Pamphlet – finds that 732 will reduce general fund revenue by $797.2 million in its first six years. That's a large hole at a time when the state is already way under investing in education and other vital social services. And lost in all the argument about whether the sales tax-reducing features of 732 are more progressive than the carbon tax-increasing features are regressive is the fact that almost nothing ends being as regressive as cuts to general fund spending to close deficits. Those cuts have historically been deepest in programs serving the very poorest.

Of course the legislature can fill the shortfall with tax increases, hopefully something more progressive than a sales tax, but that seems wishful thinking, especially under the cloud of the McCleary decision. And if you're going to entertain ways the legislature can fix "broken" parts of 732, then you also have to consider that, once they can start amending it in two years, they might make it worse by lowering the tax rate. People who have spent the last 8 years trying to keep the legislature from gutting our state’s renewable electricity standard (I-937) have lived this. I think the Washington State Budget & Policy Center put it best in their note on 732 when they said: "Our takeaway is not that 732 is either good or bad carbon policy; our takeaway is that the concerns being expressed about its potential impact to the state budget and vital social services are valid."

The next "thing not equal", is that the 732 campaign managed to build exactly zero coalition. Indeed they earned the active opposition of labor, of the communities of color, and of the state democratic party. (That's not easy to pull off unless you're the Koch brothers.) They have at least the lack of support if not the active opposition of all the major green groups. And, especially telling but overlooked in the articles I've seen, 732 got zero financial support from any of the major funders who care about climate – not from Tom Steyer, not from Paul Allen, not from Nick Hanauer, all of whom prefer a tax as their carbon pricing mechanism and have invested heavily in initiatives before. These people don't take their marching orders from the green groups or any of the other opponents. They make their own decisions about what campaigns are viable and credible.

I don't mean to say that all these groups opposed to or unsupportive of 732 don't have legitimate problems with the policy – they do. (Indeed, while I think it's unreasonable to expect 732 to reduce emissions and also significantly address systemic economic injustice not caused by climate change, I think it's totally reasonable to demand that it not make economic injustice any worse, which, as noted, is a real possibility.) It's just to say the 732 campaign was run in such a way as to not only not build a coalition, but to actually build a coalition of opposition.

But so what? What does that have to with whether 732 is good or bad carbon policy? Indeed none of it matters if both 732 passes and if carbon pricing is most of what we have to enact to get to an 80% reduction in CO2 by 2050. But it's not most of what we have to do, not by a long shot. People way underestimate how huge an undertaking an 80% reduction is and way overestimate the role of carbon pricing, important though it is. That's especially true in our state where the electrical grid is already very clean and getting cleaner, while our carbon pollution is largely from vehicles emissions that are much less influenced by carbon pricing. Read Vox's David Roberts excellent article on this subject, and pay close attention to point 3: "Marginally reducing carbon emissions is one thing; mounting a high-speed Industrial Revolution is another.

Passing a revenue neutral tax, as challenging as it is, is still a questionable politically expedient choice. Another choice would be to have a carbon tax that takes the revenue and invests it in all the parts of the "clean energy revolution" that will not happen magically or quickly through carbon pricing and that also invests in an economically and socially just transition. This is what California's "cap and invest" system does, and though it's not nearly as strong a price signal as 732 would be, it has an incredibly strong coalition that has withstood attack after attack.

And you don't get two shots at carbon pricing, at least not if the first shot, 732, passes. That's what leads a lot of climate "warriors" – indeed the majority of the people I know who've been working professionally on climate change for decades, by contrast with a dilletante like myself – to think that it would be better for 732 to not pass. Their opposition is not, for them, an example of "the 'perfect' being the enemy of the 'good'" but of "the 'not good enough' precluding the 'necessary'".

Having said all that, I'll repeat that 732 is a very strong carbon price and passing it would send a strong message to the rest of the country and world.

So how am I going to vote? I see three possible outcomes to 732.

A) I think the likeliest outcome, and the worst one, is that it loses by a significant amount, more than 55-45% (a lot for an initiative). In that case the "story" will be that Washington state doesn't support carbon pricing (and if we don't then no other state does either) and, as we saw with the disastrous income tax initiative of 8 years ago, there will be zero interest in or funding for another run at carbon pricing for many years.

B) I think the least likely outcome is that it passes by a little. That would require the stars to align: huge % of undecideds breaking much more strongly towards "yes" than they traditionally do (especially on a tax measure that says "tax" four times in its 2-sentence long ballot language); the real opposition (that would be the carbon industry, not Sierra Club or OneAmerica) underestimating it and putting no money into opposition messaging, which we know to be exceedingly effective against 732 (and there are some hopeful signs that indeed they are underestimating it); and suppression of conservative turnout due to Trump's implosion (and polls overwhelmingly show that, contrary to some magical thinking, Republicans do not support 732). Though it is unlikely, there's some non-zero chance all that could happen and I wouldn't be unhappy about it, even if it will make it harder to accomplish many of the other things we need to enact and invest in.

C) My preferred outcome, but only the 2nd most likely, is that 732 loses by a little, demonstrating that there is demand for carbon pricing and climate action, and making it possible for a much broader and deeper coalition to move ahead with a better measure in 2018.

Because I'm OK with B, even while preferring C, and because I think A is the likeliest, I'm voting for 732; I fear outcome A more than I'm bothered by outcome B. But I'm not encouraging anyone else to follow suit. If you need a visual to go with that opinion, here's a nice little clip. (I know this really isn't a good analogy, as 732 is no “Dash”. It's just a funny way to end a painful section.)

Initiative 735: Overturn Citizens United. YES!

You either think corporations are people, that there's not too much money in politics, that all our voices already count equally and fairly in our electoral process, that Citizens United was a good decision, or… you are a rational informed individual. 735 calls on our state's US Congressional delegation to initiate a US Constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United – which the vast majority of Democrats and Republicans alike want overturned – and stipulating that spending money is not protected political speech. 16 other states have already passed similar measures, continuing us down a path towards a possible Constitutional Amendment, the only way to reverse Citizens United. Such an amendment would not, as the hysterical "anti" argument in the State Voters' Pamphlet claims, prohibit public discourse, threaten freedom of press, or allow government censorship of "news, books, movie, music, and your favorite charity". It instead creates a much fairer and equal political playing field for us citizens – i.e. actual human beings.

Advisory Votes 14 & 15: The idiotic legacy of the idiot Eyman. MAINTAIN!

I love that I get to just copy and paste from last year (and the year before that, and the year before that, and…). As a result of Eyman's 2007 initiative 960, the legislature can't even perform its constitutionally mandated job, and eliminate an unjustifiable tax exemption or extend an existing fee, without also asking the public for their non-binding, purely-symbolic, time-wasting, money-wasting opinion. It even requires misleading "black is white and night is day" language referring to increases in state revenues as "costs". The legislature managed to get very, very little through the Republican-controlled State Senate but it did pass, by substantial majorities, the following two measures. You should vote to "Maintain" them too, though it won't make a damn bit of difference whether you do or don't. Maybe someday we can stop this pointless exercise.

Senate Joint Resolution 8210: Redistricting. YES!

This measure, placed on the ballot by a 97-0 vote in the House and a 46-0 vote in the Senate, will shorten the year-long redistricting process by 6 weeks, with two claimed advantages: it moves the public comment period out of the holidays to a time when more people are likely to comment and it gives county officials 6 more weeks to actually implement the new district boundaries. There isn't even an "anti" statement in the State Voters' Pamphlet. A safe "Yes".

King Co. Charter Amendment 1: Nonpartisan prosecutor. Yes.

This was not quite as obvious as I expected. The King County Council places this amendment to the County charter on the ballot by a 5-4 vote. It would make the King County Prosecutor position a non-partisan one, along with all the other King County elected positions, from the executive to assessor to the County Council. According to the Seattle Times: When voters switched to nonpartisan county offices in 2008, the prosecutor was not on the list because of a technicality: It was legally unclear if the prosecutor was a state position or county office. A ruling last November by the state attorney general cleared up the question.

So this seems pretty reasonable straightforward. The only thing that gives me pause is that most of the people I respect on the County Council – like Claudia Balducci and Joe MccDermott – voted against this amendment. And the "against" position in the King County Voters' Guide is written by the chair of the State Democratic Party and Aaron Ostrom of the excellent progressive organization Fuse. The likeliest explanation is that in heavily Democratic Party King County, it's an advantage to have races be partisan and they are loathe to cede that advantage. But that seems a concerns in search of a real problem. This office not only should be the least partisan, it traditionally has been the least partisan, case in point being the current Prosecutor, the generally quite progressive Republican Dan Satterberg. So I'm a mild "Yes".

King Co. Charter Amendment 2: Gender-neutral language. YES!

This one really is obvious. The King County Council placed this amendment to the County charter on the ballot by a 9-0 vote. If passed "numerous sections of the charter would be amended to make the language gender-neutral", e.g. "council member" instead of "councilman".

Sound Transit Regional Proposition 1: Public transportation. YES!

I'm pretty sure I'm going to disappoint people here (but not necessarily piss them off as I'm sure – wait, correct that – as I hope my opinion on 732 does). I'm not an expert on transportation planning. OK, I'm not really an expert on much of anything except maybe Excel. But I don't even pretend to be on transportation planning. And ST3 (as it's known) is big and complex and expensive. What I do know is:

  • the population of the region covered by this measure has grown rapidly over the past decade and will continue to do so;
  • the traffic, especially freeway congestion, is already some of the worst in the country and getting worse fast;
  • vehicle emissions are the biggest and hardest to address source of our state's carbon pollution;
  • and we've historically under-invested in regional public transportation so are trying to dig our way out of an existing hole.

So I'm just assuming that any solutions to these things – and we do need solutions – are going to have a very big price tag. Whether the mix of solutions is right – too much rail, not enough bus rapid transit? – or whether it is too big a package – should it have been broken into multiple successive votes on smaller and shorter time scale chunks or does that create its own cost increases? – I don't know. Even after a bunch of reading.

In such cases, I turn to the people I most respect who really do know transportation and growth management. And they are, 100%, in favor of ST3. Here's a list of the endorsers. The presence of labor doesn't surprise or move me – yes, it will create a lot of jobs. But Sierra Club's endorsement is meaningful as they are the least mainstream of the green groups, least likely to support something to preserve their relations with either labor or business, one of the few willing to break ranks several years ago and shoot down a transportation package with too much highway building in it, in the hope of getting something better later – which is exactly what happened. The endorsement of Seattle City Council members Mike O'Brien and Rob Johnson is meaningful (and the entire council and mayor endorsed it). Same with King County Council members Claudia Balducci and Joe McDermott. And the support of Transportation Choices Coalition in meaningful.

And I look at who is on the "no" side and what are they arguing. It's on the home page, but you'll need to scroll down. It is a list of, well, almost no one that I recognize and a few people I recognize and disagree with about most things. And their argument is almost exclusively an "anti-tax" argument not a "here's a better solution" argument.

That's not to say there aren't independent critics and critiques of ST3. Here are a couple of Crosscut articles I found educational, the first explaining ST3 and the second discussing the costs and how to pay them. I also found Sound Transit's ST3 Q&A useful (though of course favorable to ST3).

Anyway, all that leads me to a confident even if "circumstantial" verdict of "Yes!". ("Often wrong, never in doubt!")

Seattle Initiative 124: Protection for hotel workers. YES!

Running low on steam at this point so I'm going to take some shortcuts. Here's the ballot language: "If passed, this initiative would require certain sized hotel-employers to further protect employees against assault, sexual harassment, and injury by retaining lists of accused guests among other measures; improve access to healthcare; limit workloads; and provide limited job security for employees upon hotel ownership transfer. Requirements except assault protections are waivable through collective bargaining. The City may investigate violations. Persons claiming injury are protected from retaliation and may sue hotel-employers. Penalties go to City enforcement, affected employees, and the complainant."

I found this op-ed from Crosscut persuasive (and was struck by the stat that "just seven of the 70 members of the Board of Directors of the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA), the D.C.-based organization that is primarily funding the opposition to the initiative, are female".

And, yes, the measure is sponsored by a union, but as this piece from Seattlish argues well, that's an appropriate and good thing.

And, finally, the endorsers, especially Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and One America Votes (who are the right people to listen to on such issues) are compelling.

A few candidate recommendations.

Here are a few candidate races that are likely to be close, and that matter. I'll only elaborate here where the person I'm not recommending is still a reasonable candidate.

This year there are two close state level races where there is a clear choice between a strong progressive and someone not remotely progressive.

  • Secretary of State: Vote for Tina Podlodowski! Kim Wyman isn't the kind of turnout-suppressing racist, right-wing Secretary of State that many other state's have, but she is also far from being a champion for easier voter registration and greater participation in elections. What excites me about Tina is the prospect of having someone with a strong technology background and a genuine commitment to full participatory democracy in the office of Secretary of State.

  • Commissioner of Public Lands: Vote for Hilary Franz! Unlike the aforementioned Kim Wyman, here the Republican candidate, Steve McLaughlin, is a total right-wing, climate change-denying nut case. And this position is really important if you care about climate change. The national League of Conservation Voters just named him one of their Dirty Dozen state level candidates, meaning they consider him one of the 12 most dangerous candidates for all state level positions in all 50 states. And the nation's leading watchdog on right-wing extremism, the Southern Poverty Law Center, named McLaughlin on their list of "elected officials and candidates who embrace Extremist 'Patriot' Agenda on Federal Lands". That's a scary combination! Meanwhile Hilary is not just an "OK" candidate, she's a long-time environmental champion with a strong track-record of working across divides on economically and environmentally innovative solutions.

Happy voting!