Week in Review: May 21, 2021 - with Heather Weiner

Week in Review: May 21, 2021 - with Heather Weiner

This week on the  show political consultant Heather Weiner joins Crystal to talk about  former Attorney General Rob McKenna suing to stop Washington’s new  capital gains tax, elections heating up as we reach the final deadline  for filing to run for office, and the release of letters condemning  Mayor Durkan’s intentional disregard and degradation of Black staff  members.

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.

Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s co-host, Heather Weiner, at @hlweiner. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.


“Former Attorney General Rob McKenna joins lawsuit seeking to invalidate Washington state’s capital gains tax” by Jim Brunner: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/former-attorney-general-rob-mckenna-joins-lawsuit-seeking-to-invalidate-capital-gains-tax/

Who has filed to run for office:

King County: https://info.kingcounty.gov/kcelections/Vote/contests/who-has-filed.aspx?eid=26

Pierce County: https://voter.votewa.gov/CandidateList.aspx?e=870&c=27

Snohomish County: https://voter.votewa.gov/CandidateList.aspx?e=870&c=34

“An  early win in a crowded race, González grabs MLK Labor endorsement,  talks workers rights in mayor’s office, buses on city streets” by Jake  Goldstein-Street: https://www.capitolhillseattle.com/2021/05/an-early-win-in-a-crowded-race-gonzalez-grabs-mlk-labor-endorsement-talks-workers-rights-in-mayors-office-buses-on-city-streets/

The full letters detailing how Durkan’s office has been a barrier for Black Brilliance Project and harmful to Black women:

Letter 1: /content/files/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/idt-letter-1.pdf

Letter 2: /content/files/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/ubax-bo-break-letter.pdf


Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00]  Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this  show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight  into local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work  with behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Full  transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at  officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Feel free to leave  us a review on iTunes if you're enjoying the show, or any other place  where you're getting the podcast.

Today,  we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news  of the week with a cohost. Welcome back to the program friend of the  show and today's co-host: excellent political consultant and urban  farmer, Heather Weiner.

Heather Weiner: [00:00:54] Hi, Crystal. So excited to be here. Good morning, afternoon -

Crystal Fincher: [00:00:58]  So excited to have you here. Yeah, we're in the morning- this is an  almost-live show, so people hear this just a few hours after we get done  recording. We gotta, you know, transcribe the show and do all that kind  of stuff, but we get it out super fast. So we're talking about the news  of the day - there are several things that have happened this week. A  couple highlights - it is filing week, where everyone is filing for  office - lots of different races. Mayor's race in Seattle is hot and  heating up, we've had some forums this week, one big one with the King  County Labor Council and a big endorsement there. There's a lawsuit  filed against capital gains tax, and the exemption for car dealerships.  And also, there were two letters shared that had previously been covered  - just excerpts of them - in media, but that really detail challenges  that people within the City, particularly Black women, have had with  Jenny Durkan in her office in reference to the Black Brilliance Project  and participatory budgeting.

So  why don't we just dive into it - starting, I guess, with the capital  gains tax. Let's dive into that. You are intimately familiar with this.  What is going on?

Heather Weiner: [00:02:12]  So, our fantastic legislature and governor passed - the first of its  kind in the state - a modest capital gains tax on just really the top  1%. These are people who make profits when they sell their stocks, and  it gives a modest tax on profits greater than a quarter of a million  dollars on the sale of a stock or a bond. So, it sounds like it wouldn't  be very much, but we have so many billionaires in the state, and almost  billionaires, that it would actually raise half a billion dollars a  year for childcare, education, schools - helping our kids and helping  parents.

And yet, you  would think that that is very popular, which it is. It gets somewhere  between 60% and 80% approval ratings from the Washington public and  Washington voters, according to polls. And yet, some people don't like  it. They want to sue. So we have two lawsuits that have now been filed  against this in court, which I imagine will go right to the - through  the process - to the state Supreme Court. And I'm not going to talk  about the merits of the lawsuits. Blahbity blahbidy blahbity - they  don't like it. They're gonna say it's unconstitutional, they're going to  make a whole bunch of arguments - specious arguments - against it. It's  really a delay tactic. They're just trying to delay it. It's going to  cost hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees from the taxpayers,  and capital gains is still going to be law at the end of the day.

Now, I want to talk about who's filing this. So Rob McKenna - remember him?

Crystal Fincher: [00:03:53]  Remember him well - yes, Republican Rob McKenna, branded as your  friendly non-threatening moderate neighborhood Republican. And it really  was just a sheep in wolf's clothing - or a wolf in sheep's clothing -  situation. Just a hot mess - and then I think he was working for Big Oil  for a while and yeah -

Heather Weiner: [00:04:17] Oh yeah - no. He's -.

Crystal Fincher: [00:04:18]  - just turned out to be just run-of-the-mill - just defend major  billionaires, major corporations to pollute, to run roughshod over  residents, and to just reap corporate profits with no responsibility  attached to it.

Heather Weiner: [00:04:34]  Oh, yeah, that Rob McKenna. Anyway, so Rob McKenna is now doing a media  tour this week, talking about this lawsuit and how bad this is. So the  corporate interests and these big millionaire interests are using as  their front people - farmers, small business owners - but none of them  would really be impacted by this unless they're making enormous profits  from the sales of stocks and bonds. So they're using them as front  people, but really it's this top 1% who are going to be impacted by this  - who are funding all this. So they've just filed a lawsuit - it's  making big headlines.

And  at the same time, Jim Brunner from the Seattle Times just came out with  an article this morning - talking about how auto dealerships got a  special exemption in the capital gain - from the capital gains tax.  Which I thought was fascinating - I was intimately involved with what  was going on with the capital gains negotiations - and I didn't even  know about this. So that just shows how much I don't know - that was a  secret.

Crystal Fincher: [00:05:39]  Well, there's so much to talk about when it comes to our legislative  process. And the process of lawmaking is opaque in many ways. And just  to be familiar with it takes a lot of experience - you have to know all  the intricacies of the process. It is not logical. It is not reasonable.  It's just this weird, non-sensical non-linear thing - writing  legislation - and it is really easy to slip in lots of provisions that  you find out about after the thing has been signed. It is just really  something, so I'm not shocked that that has happened, but it is a  problem.

Heather Weiner: [00:06:21]  Yeah. Yeah. Well, look - this is part of the deal making. So as you  remember, as you might remember, this bill was passed with just a one  vote margin in the state Senate. And I think that this - there's some  deal making going back and forth. And it's really funny to watch some of  the other business interests, like the Retail Federation, saying,  "Well, gosh, I guess they had a good lobbyist." And that lobbyist is  going to get a lot of business next year, I bet, from everybody who  wants their special carve-outs.

But  look, the big news here though, is that - these are incredibly rich  people around the state who have been, are hoarding their wealth. They  make money passively when they sell. Note that these are not retirement  accounts. Retirement accounts are exempted. This is not your property.  Property is exempted. I am talking about people who passively take their  massive income, put it into the stock market, that then makes more  income by them doing literally nothing. They then cash that stock out  and only the profits greater than a quarter of a million dollars are  what's taxed. So - Crystal, let's just imagine that you and I just sold  some stock for 300 - we made $300,000 in profit. In profit. Right? Only  $50,000 of that would actually be taxed. And we would end up paying  about $3,000-3,500 in taxes on it. That's nothing for $300,000 profit.  Anyway -

Crystal Fincher: [00:07:50]  Look, it will prevent someone from buying a couch cushion on their  yacht - Heather, let's be serious. That's what we're talking about. I  mean, well, and this lawsuit, it's important to understand just what is  being alleged and how it's been. This isn't a surprise that this lawsuit  is being raised - they've basically said this the whole time.  Republicans, especially, have been saying, "This is just an income tax.  And well, if we let this through, it'll let everything else through."  There've been so many opinions saying that this is not an income tax -  it's separate, it's a capital gains tax. But they are challenging it -  saying that it's an income tax, which we cannot enact currently in  Washington. And so, this capital gains tax - again, you explained it  beautifully - it is very different than an income tax that applies to  regular income for everyone. So we'll see how this plays out. This is  not a surprise. This was passed with the full intention that it would  then be defended in court. It's a step that we need to take to reform  tax policy in the state. So here we go.

Heather Weiner: [00:08:57]  Here we go. Here we go. And again, for those of you who - I mean,  nobody who listens to this podcast thinks that their vote doesn't count -  but for those of you who have friends who think that their vote doesn't  count. Your vote absolutely makes huge difference because we would not  have this, but for the new leadership that we have in the state House  and the state Senate, and the new people who are there. So this is just a  really remarkable, remarkable year for us in the state legislature.

Crystal Fincher: [00:09:28]  This is one those where it only got through because there were changes  in the previous election. So they absolutely matter - and that brings us  to filing week. This is the week where - for this year in 2021 - last  year, we had the legislative races, Congressional, federal races - that  kind of stuff. In odd years, we have municipal races, the really local  races. So School Boards, King County and County Council races, Port  Commissions - all of that stuff are on your ballot.

Heather Weiner: [00:10:06] Fire districts!

Crystal Fincher: [00:10:07] Yes!

Heather Weiner: [00:10:07]  I'm saying some sexy words to you right now. School board, fire, public  utility districts. Oh yes. I love it. I mean, look - this is, let me  put it in terms that other people can understand. This is like NFL draft  day.

Crystal Fincher: [00:10:19] It is.

Heather Weiner: [00:10:19] This is it, baby. I'm so excited to see who's running, and who's out there, and who's ready.

Okay. All right. Let's talk about filing week. All right, Crystal, what are you excited - what are you excited to see?

Crystal Fincher: [00:10:33]  I am excited about - obviously, these City of Seattle races - I don't  know if excited is the word that I have for them, but they're certainly  notable and interesting. But beyond that, we have so many races here  throughout the state. But focusing on others in King County, looking at  the King County Executive race - Dow Constantine, long-time incumbent,  who has been comfortably elected and not really challenged this entire  time. He's a 12-year incumbent and being challenged by Senator Joe  Nguyen who has been quite active in passing policy, who is - established  himself as someone known as a progressive voice passing progressive  policy - and is challenging Dow Constantine. And that could be a really  interesting race.

Heather Weiner: [00:11:29]  And so it's notable that he's being challenged from the left, by  Senator Nguyen. What do you think about a challenge from the right?

Crystal Fincher: [00:11:38]  You know, it's interesting - that would certainly complicate things for  Dow Constantine. I'm sure he's hoping he doesn't get a more credible  challenger from the right. Right now, Bill Hirt has also filed in the  race, so he's there. There's also Goodspaceguy and Johnathon Crines.  We're all familiar - well, people who pay attention to politics familiar  - it's not really a race until Goodspaceguy has filed. So here we are  and it's official. And then Johnathon Crines, who I'm actually not  familiar with, but I'm sure I will be getting more familiar with him in  the months to come. But we'll see if there is a - another more  well-known, more established challenger to Dow from his right. If so,  that makes a primary really interesting - and where are each other's  bases? It certainly makes splitting the progressive vote against someone  who can consolidate a more conservative vote risky for Dow.

Heather Weiner: [00:12:40]  Yeah, it is very interesting. I think I've seen labor really rally  behind Dow during this, which is interesting to me - because labor, of  course, really loves Joe at the same time. And I'm also seeing Dow being  more out there than usual - making big announcements, like a big hotel  opened for people who don't have homes right now. So, you know, I know  that it's super annoying to the Democratic establishment when people  from the left challenge some of these long-time incumbents. But I also -  to me, as just a regular voter - I think it's good. I think it's good. I  think it makes the incumbents work a little bit harder and pay a little  bit more attention when they might've gotten a little complacent. Not  saying Dow has gotten complacent - just saying it's really, it's really  interesting. And I think it's healthy for the system.

Crystal Fincher: [00:13:36]  I also think it's healthy. It's a system of accountability. No one is  entitled to a seat - that is not Dow's seat. It's the people's seat -  and the people are often better served when they have choices for who  can best represent them. And when - just watching Joe force Dow to be  more out there, communicating with the public more, and more in tune  with how he's serving the people - we can't, people elected should never  take that for granted. And so it's always healthy to see a competitive  race. I say this as someone who has someone closely related to me as an  incumbent with a competitive race. This is what democracy is about. Here  we are.

Heather Weiner: [00:14:18]  Yeah. Yeah, here we are. So there's a couple of other council races  too, where we're seeing that - we see Shukri, who is challenging Dave  Upthegrove.

Crystal Fincher: [00:14:26] Yeah - Shukri. Shukri Olow.

Heather Weiner: [00:14:26]  Shukri. I'm sorry. Thank you for that. And I'm also really excited to  see that Ubax Gardheere is challenging Reagan Dunn. So let's talk about  that race for a second in Council District 9. And what region is Council  District 9? Remind me -

Crystal Fincher: [00:14:47]  So that is east - that's, if you think about like 47th Legislative  District - Maple Valley, it kind of wraps up around there - so you're  like east King County -

Heather Weiner: [00:15:01] Got it.

Crystal Fincher: [00:15:04] Central King County.

Heather Weiner: [00:15:04]  So Ubax is an amazing activist and organizer in social justice and  economic justice. She's a mom. She is an immigrant from Somalia. She  worked for the Durkan administration for a little while, and then  actually took a really courageous step and called out the Durkan  administration. And we'll get to this in a little bit - for not, for  being hostile to people of color, essentially. So, she is now out there  challenging long-time Republican incumbent and son of our old  Congresswoman Jennifer Dunn, Reagan Dunn. And Reagan Dunn is kind of -  I've always wanted to see a serious challenge to him. Sometimes he's  rumored to want to run for Governor or King County Council. I think he's  a little bit of a punk. I mean, the guy doesn't get very much done. He  talks off the cuff. He's got - I dunno - I just feel like he's kind of  a, you know, he's just kind of the heir. He thinks he's the heir to a  seat because of his mom. I'm sure he's going to sue me for all this that  I'm saying right now. So, I'm really excited to see her challenge him  and I'm actually going to contribute to her right after this call.

Crystal Fincher: [00:16:20]  Yeah. And that is actually a race with a crowded primary full of -  there are a couple other progressives in that race - both Chris Franco  and Kim-Khanh Van. So, kind of stacked with great candidates. It's  really interesting to see how that plays out, and I think people have  been wanting a choice there. And the demographic change over the past 10  years has been interesting in that district - it's still very purple,  if not red-leaning. But that doesn't mean that, especially in a crowded  primary, that a variety of things could happen. And there certainly are a  number of issues that people could take with the incumbent's record. So  I'm really interested to see how that plays out. That's going to be  something - as well as the challenge to Pete von Reichbauer.

Heather Weiner: [00:17:17] Mmm hmm - tell me a little bit about that.

Crystal Fincher: [00:17:18]  So Lydia Assefa-Dawson, who is a Federal Way City Council member, along  with Dominique Torgerson and Saudia Abdullah, are challenging Pete von  Reichbauer. There are, frankly, rumors that Pete was going to see  whether he had a strong or not challenge, go through this, and maybe not  serve his full next term. It's interesting - I'm in Federal Way  frequently and there is Pete von Reichbauer, like Drive - there's a  Drive - where usually you don't drive on streets from currently elected  officials. There is one there.

Heather Weiner: [00:17:55] Or living ones.

Crystal Fincher: [00:17:56]  Yes, but there's one in Federal Way. But that's going to be really  interesting - really looking at where that district is today. A lot  different than where it was 10-15 years ago - both in terms of  demographics, in terms of politics - looking at the votes that they've  taken, the legislative delegation that they have now. All points away  from Pete von Reichbauer. So that's going to be really interesting to  see if those candidates can connect with the public - but certainly a  lot of people see a big opportunity there.

Heather Weiner: [00:18:30] All right. Can we talk about the mayor's race though - come on, come on, come on.

Crystal Fincher: [00:18:32] Okay. One, I also - I just real quick - in other notable races. Port of Seattle.

Heather Weiner: [00:18:38] Oh yeah.

Crystal Fincher: [00:18:38]  Port of Seattle - big deal. Port is slept on just in terms of its  impact, significance, its size. It's one of the biggest districts in the  state. It's basically King County. The Port controls so much. Lots of  times people just think of the airport. It is so much, so much further  beyond that.

Heather Weiner: [00:18:59]  So much more. So the Port of Seattle - I know way too much about the  Port of Seattle, and it's unfortunate for you. Talk about a policy wonk.  Oh my gosh. I worked on a campaign many years ago to clean up the air  pollution that comes - the diesel air pollution that comes from the  massive amounts of diesel trucks that move cargo containers around the  region from the Port of Seattle. They're driven by basically Uber  drivers - gig workers. They have no health insurance. They pay out of  their pockets. It's kind of an entry job for a lot of immigrants. And so  they're very much exploited by these massively, massively rich  international shipping companies.

Okay.  So who has control over that? The Port of Seattle commission. And the  Port of Seattle commission is generally, you're right - sleeper. Nobody  pays attention to it. People tend to vote for the candidate whose name  maybe they recognize, or the picture they like. This year we have a  chance to elect two amazing reformers - two amazing women - to the Port  of Seattle. Toshiko and Hamdi. And they, I think will bring up - first  of all, they'd be the first women of color elected to the Port of  Seattle commission.

Secondly,  they would bring a new energy and new accountability to the Port, which  I have long said, I think is the most corrupt agency in the state.  Because there is so - yeah, I know that's really - look, if you gave me a  million dollars today, Crystal, you know what I would do with it? Well,  first of all, I would plant more plants. But the second thing I would  do is I would create a Port of Seattle watchdog group. Because there is  so much money and so many jobs that are being impacted by what happens  at the airport, and the port, and by the land that the Port of Seattle  controls, even as far out as Bellevue.

Crystal Fincher: [00:20:52] So much land.

Heather Weiner: [00:20:53]  So much land that they control and they have - they can have such great  impact on our communities and help our communities - and they just do  not do anything except provide a vehicle for the shipping companies and  these massive airlines to make more money off of us. So -

Crystal Fincher: [00:21:11]  I would say - certainly the Port had that reputation. I think there  have been some members who have done some good work and are working on  pushing in a new direction, but that they need allies on the Port. And I  think Toshiko and Hamdi would be excellent allies. And also another  major thing - there is currently no South King County representation on  the Port -

Heather Weiner: [00:21:36] None. None, even though the airport is in South King County.

Crystal Fincher: [00:21:41]  Where are the impacts of the airport being felt in terms of workers,  pollution, land management, coordination with immigration authorities  and just law enforcement authorities. That's all South King County. And  we currently have no one from South King County on there. Hamdi would be  the first person - the only person on the Port from South King County.  And then Toshiko - I think she's in Skyway? You know, there's lots of  debate on whether Skyway is - I've had this conversation with multiple  people. To me - if you don't have two bus transfers to get into Seattle,  you really can't qualify yourself as South King County, but we'll see.  But you know, and I don't know how much - certainly her father, Senator  Hasegawa from the 11th Legislative District, is in South King County.  So, there's certainly a familiarity there, but there is an opportunity  to move in a different direction, and to give some of the people who are  pushing in the right direction some allies to really make sure that  we're serving all of the residents in King County with the Port  Commission

Heather Weiner: [00:22:58]  Well, let me just say one more thing about the Port Commission. One of  their most important jobs is to hire, review, and hold accountable the  Port Executive, the Port CEO. And we currently have a Port CEO that has  done a good job of remaining below the radar screen. But prior to that,  we had three extremely controversial CEOs. We had Mic Dinsmore, who  ended up having to resign after some financial - some huge financial  issues that were going on. We had the next one whose name - the next  two, whose names I've all of a sudden blanked out on.

Crystal Fincher: [00:23:33] Tay wasn't one of them? Wasn't he one of them?

Heather Weiner: [00:23:35] Oh, Yoshitani. Yeah. Tay Yoshitani - who. Yeah. Wow. I'm really impressed with you.

Oh  yeah. Who also sat on the board of the very companies - sat on one - on  the boards of the very shippers who he was getting good lease  agreements for. I mean, there was all kinds of improprieties going on  there. We then had another one who came from the trucking industry, and  ended up he had to leave. So the fact that we currently have a Port CEO  that I don't even know the name of is probably - you're right. Probably  progress.

Crystal Fincher: [00:24:07] Progress. Yeah, yeah - absolutely.

Heather Weiner: [00:24:09] Can we talk about the mayor's race, Crystal, now?

Crystal Fincher: [00:24:12]  Let's talk about the mayor's race. And actually there was a forum that  the MLK Labor Council held earlier this week that was really interesting  - that had the top six candidates on there. Hosted, moderated by Erica  Barnett. That was really interesting. A big labor endorsement. And you  know, you - every time you're on here, we do a full disclosure where -  who you are working with.

Heather Weiner: [00:24:37]  I am working with my friend, Lorena González. I do a little bit of work  with her on this campaign, but as you know, and as I've said, even if I  wasn't officially working with her, I would be volunteering my butt off  for her because she is the champion for working people. And that is why  she got the MLK Labor Council full endorsement. She won the vote - 80%  to 20%, which is just amazing. It's usually very controversial within  the labor council, and she -

Crystal Fincher: [00:25:09] That was surprising. That was really - that was surprising to me. I was expecting it to be a lot closer than that.

Heather Weiner: [00:25:15]  Well, she's pulling in endorsements from the full spectrum of the labor  community here. So, you know, her first endorsements were from Unite  Here and UFCW 21, which are considered to be kind of more the left wing  of the labor movement. Then she got an endorsement from the Teamsters  Joint Council. Teamsters Joint Council actually represents garbage truck  drivers, construction drivers, cement truck drivers, as well as City  employees, too. So that was pretty - I would say moderate group. And  then she got the Laborers, LIUNA. So she's really pulling them in. She's  got some more big labor announcements coming, I hear. It's very  exciting. She got this big labor endorsement after kicking it at the  forum. She did an amazing job. <coughing> Sorry.

Crystal Fincher: [00:26:01]  And I want to talk about that forum for a little bit. I found it  interesting - and we have not had many opportunities yet, to see  everyone together. We're just at the beginning of this forum season. And  so I thought a number of the questions were interesting. From the  conversation about defunding - and I think Andrew Grant Houston was the  only one who, there was a question asked, do you support 50% defunding?  He said yes. But most everybody said that they definitely prefer some  significant changes, structural changes within SPD. So it seems like no  matter who's onboard almost, that we can expect to see changes. And it  was also interesting - well, I think that's too broad of a statement.  Several of the major candidates - we can expect to see changes.

I  think that hearing directly from Colleen Echohawk was interesting and  she acquitted herself well. I think Bruce Harrell explained some of his  prior gaffes pretty well, and clarifying some statements and - there  were some statements from before where you where, "Hey, I'm going to  have everyone sign a, basically a pledge, saying that they won't beat  people," which we need to do. But he was like, "Well, if they can't do  that, then like we can't even begin with them. And we have to know that  they're starting from there to be able to work with them from now on."  He seemed to not be quite comfortable with - there was a question, "Do  you favor sweeps?" And everyone said No, with the exception of, well -  Bruce Harrell said No, but he seemed very uncomfortable with saying No  and asking if he could clarify his comments, whatever. And he stuck with  No, but man, that seemed like a No that was not really a No, that he  didn't want to be a No, but he felt like he had to say No.

And  then, Casey Sixkiller said that he did favor sweeps of encampments of  the unhoused. Everyone else was a firm No. That was comforting. So that  was - there were certainly some interesting moments and beginning to see  some contrast. I think certainly it's fair to say that Deputy Mayor  Sixkiller, and former City Council member and former briefly Interim  Mayor Bruce Harrell are competing for a lot of the same base. And so it  was really interesting to see how they were positioning each other, and  positioning against each other. And so we'll see how that plays out.  What were your takeaways?

Heather Weiner: [00:28:59]  My takeaways were - well, first, you know, Lorena had just had a family  tragedy. Her own house is uninhabitable for the next 6-8 months. And  so, she and her husband are currently couch surfing until they find a  place to live with their baby. And her mother-in-law was killed in the  fire. So despite that she still is showing up to these forums and that  shows a remarkable amount of personal strength and commitment. So I was  very impressed with that, of course. Again, disclaimer.

I  thought that Casey Sixkiller - I expected him to do better than he did.  Here's a guy who is a DC guy, has had a ton of experience in DC,  despite the fact that he's calling himself an outsider.

Crystal Fincher: [00:29:50] Yeah, I don't know -

Heather Weiner: [00:29:51]  After being a deputy mayor. Yeah, that was a little odd. So I expected  him to do a lot better. And boy, is Colleen Echohawk likable. I just  think she is obviously a very smart person. Very likable, and really  easy to connect with. And she had to answer some really tough questions  about not hiring union workers on a lot of the projects that she is  overseeing, building housing. And - so she had to answer some tough  questions there. So yeah, I thought it was fascinating. I thought it was  a great forum.

We've got  a couple of big LD, Democratic Legislative District endorsements coming  up in the next week. Tomorrow is my home district, the 11th LD, where  there's - I mean, how long is that meeting gonna be, Crystal? 'Cause  there's so many municipal races there.

Crystal Fincher: [00:30:37] I mean, I have been at 11th LD meetings that have gone past 11:00 PM.

Heather Weiner: [00:30:42] It starts at 10:00 AM. Oh my gosh -

Crystal Fincher: [00:30:46]  Oh, tomorrow's Saturday. Saturday. I'm thinking of regular weekday LD  meetings, but that would be like on the order of 5-6 hours.

Heather Weiner: [00:30:54] Oh my gosh. I'm just -

Crystal Fincher: [00:30:55]  I hope it's not that long. There's a lot to get through, but yeah,  those meetings can last. Let's, let's hope it's three.

Heather Weiner: [00:31:02] How important are the Democratic LDs really to candidates?

Crystal Fincher: [00:31:09]  Having this conversation with someone yesterday. So I would say -  endorsements - there's the inside game and there's the outside game,  right? And a lot of the inside game establishes early momentum, helps  with early fundraising - there's a saying - EMILY's List is - EMILY  stands for Early Money Is Like Yeast. And that's really the thing. So,  does the public - I think, now more than ever, quite frankly, I think  that the public does not rely on endorsements. But I think that early on  - when people are looking to their close contacts, people who are their  allies, people who pay attention to politics all the time, and this is  what they do - before normal people pay attention in July and August for  a primary. That they're trying to establish who is credible, and that  they're trying to fundraise also from those same people. So they count  in terms of resources for campaigns.

Do  they automatically bring - if an LD endorses, does that mean all of the  LD members are going to vote for someone? No. If a union endorses, does  that mean all of that union's members are going to vote for that  person? No. Can people take it as a sign? If they see two people who  they don't know at all, then they can then say, "Okay, well maybe - this  person is endorsed by all the groups that I support. I don't know a  thing about them, but I know that someone I like likes them." And in the  absence of other information, that can be helpful.

But  if you can define yourself in addition to that, then endorsements  become less impactful for the general public when they're making their  voting decisions. But it certainly helps with resources to communicate  with the general public because that costs money. And so, I guess my  shorthand is - it matters in the inside game, but ultimately voters make  decisions based on what they think of the candidate and not what other  people do. If they don't know anything about the candidate, then other  factors come into play.

Heather Weiner: [00:33:18]  I think there's also an expectation that some LDs do have a really good  volunteer base. PCOs who will go out there - and I'm a PCO in the 11th  District, so I would go out if I agreed with their endorsements, and  knock on doors, and tell people about it. But some LDs, some Democratic  districts are not yet there - don't quite have their volunteer bases up.  You did an amazing job last year, helping the King County Democrats  start recruiting PCOs. Thank you for that. You recruited me. So I think  that really helps and that'll actually make these endorsements a lot  more important to candidates over the years as that volunteer base keeps  growing.

Crystal Fincher: [00:33:59]  Well, and that's a big thing. And I think that a number of  organizations have realized that endorsements were losing some of their  credibility, or some of their punch. Because candidates are going,  "Well, what am I actually getting for this endorsement?" Because a lot  of it is the resources - and those boots on the ground, as people call  them - labor is notorious for when they do endorse - for having people  show up for volunteer doorbelling, doorbell blitzes. But other  organizations weren't. And so I know that there is a definitely  concerted effort by the King County Democrats to say, "You know what? We  want our endorsements to matter. We're going to show up for candidates  who we endorse. We're going to make sure that we make a difference in  those races where we do endorse." so I think people are  realizing we  can do more and we can do better. And there are certainly some  organizations like those.

And  then King County Democrats attempting to help their LDs to be more  impactful in their local elections, especially in these municipal years,  where these municipal races are mostly nonpartisan. It's not like  legislative ones where you have a D and an R by the name. And if you  don't know anyone, people just look to the D & R and generally make a  decision off of that. They're just names. And people are trying to  figure out who they are. And so that can really make some endorsements  more impactful in the off-years, and volunteers more powerful to get  word out to voters who just - they don't know anything about the  candidates.

Heather Weiner: [00:35:27]  Yeah, that's a great point. I think we're almost up with time and I  want to make sure that we get to these letters from Tammy Morales.

Crystal Fincher: [00:35:35]  Well, yeah, and we'll be talking about them more in an upcoming show,  but we're going to link them in the show notes. But these letters were -  almost briefly referenced and excerpted very briefly - before in  coverage. And I think people have heard the line from a letter from Ubax  and from Bo Zhang saying, "We're done working for a dictator posturing  as mayor. We're done feeling increasingly out of touch with communities  of color. And we're done being women of color bearing a disproportionate  emotional labor in our civilization's collective reckoning with our  midlife (or is it our end of life?) crisis."

But  they go in and talking about the toll - literally a quote - "For years,  the two of us have witnessed firsthand the toll it takes inside City  Hall when a Mayor is elected for - more for their conviction than for  their curiosity. We might call this 'trickle-down politics': this  mindset that if we just get a leader who believes what a majority of  voters believe, the institution can do great things." But it takes more  than that. It does more than that.

So  we'll link these letters, but they are certainly a lot to digest -  making it very clear. There also is a letter talking about - an open  letter to the people of Seattle from the participatory budgeting,  Interdepartmental Team, or IDT. This is the team from within the City of  Seattle that was working on this participatory budgeting process. Now  we've heard a lot about - why is this delayed, what's going on? And, and  the Council has been saying, the mayor is a problem here. And the mayor  has been saying, I don't know, everything is fine. I don't know what  the Council is talking about. It's probably their problem.

Meanwhile,  turns out the mayor was prohibiting anyone else, from inside the City,  including this team doing this work, from speaking to anyone except the  mayor's office. And then what happened was the mayor's office - what  they're saying - lied on the work that they did, misrepresented the work  that they did, made it seem like they weren't doing much work. And it  seemed like they were trying to torpedo the work of participatory  budgeting. Obviously, we've heard about the role that the mayor's office  has taken in trying to investigate the Black Brilliance Project -  oddly, out of all the contracts in the City. But they said clearly - "As  the employee of these departments, we're writing this letter for three  reasons. One - to clarify that the contents of that letter - meaning the  letter that the mayor's office sent - do not represent or reflect the  work of the staff. Two - to call attention to the ways in which this  process has harmed BIPOC and particularly the Black community and staff.  And three - set forth terms in which we will be willing to continue  supporting the participatory budgeting work so that it upholds race and  social justice principles and begins to correct the harm that this  process has caused." So it is really an indictment of the mayor's  office, of the process that they've taken with this, of what seems like,  you know, certainly misleading representation of the work that these  teams have done - while publicly trying to act, trying to take credit  for a process to bring more equity into budgeting and in the City and  trying to harm past wrongs.

So  I hope people read these and understand these - and that there is  accountability for this. Because, man, we take the word of other people  really easily. Hey, if someone who we're used to seeing in power says,  no, no, everything's fine. People generally parrot - hey, everything's  fine. But you know, we have professionals whose job it is to do this  work, who know what this is. Black women saying, this is a problem.  We're coming together and risking ourselves to say this is a problem.  And elsewhere there - it was reported that they were afraid of  retaliation for their jobs. And certainly what looks like retaliation in  the mayor's office right now for the whistleblowers who blew the  whistle on the possible felonies committed in withholding the texts from  being disclosed, and the deletion of texts from the mayor's office -  that seems like a legitimate concern. So we'll include this. I hope  people include them. I also thank you, everyone, for joining us in Hacks  and Wonks today. I am just so thankful to Heather Weiner for joining us  and being here.

Heather Weiner: [00:40:14]  Thank you, Crystal, for including me. I love, love chatting with you. I  wish we could do it for hours. And I just want to give a big shout out  to City Councilwoman, Tammy Morales, for advocating on behalf of  participatory budgeting. As she has said to me recently, this is about  ceding power that has been hoarded within the top parts of government.  And it's about ceding that power back to the community and letting the  community decide where their own taxpayer money should go. And so  participa - that is what participatory budgeting really means. Boy,  that's hard to say

Crystal Fincher: [00:40:50] Yeah, it's a mouthful.

Heather Weiner: [00:40:52] Patici - pati - participatory.

Crystal Fincher: [00:40:55]  Thank you for listening to Hacks & Wonks on this Friday, May 21,  2021. The producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler, and our wonderful  co-host today was Seattle political consultant and urban farmer,  Heather Weiner. You can find Heather on Twitter @hlweiner. You can find  me on Twitter @finchfrii [spelled f-i-n-c-h-f-r-i-i] and now you can  follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your  podcasts, just type “Hacks and Wonks” into the search bar. Be sure to  subscribe to get our Friday almost-live shows and our mid-week show  delivered to your podcast feed. While you’re there, leave a review! It  really helps us out. You can also get a full transcript of this episode  and links to the resources referenced in the show at  officialhacksandwonks.com, and in the podcast episode notes.

Thanks for tuning in - talk to you soon.