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Morning Fizz: One step further

1. City Hall gadfly Chris Leman, who told city council members last month that the proposed August library levy should include more controls to make sure levy funds are well spent, went one step further last week, filing a formal appeal of the levy language with the city's ethics and elections commission.

The seven-part complaint accuses the city attorney's office, which wrote the levy language, of misleading voters into believing that the levy proceeds must be spent on the library; hiding the actual amount of money the levy would cost over seven years ($123 million); and obfuscating the fact that the city council, not the voters, will ultimately decide how to spend the levy funds as part of the annual budget process.

The ethics commission will take up Leman's complaint at its meeting on Wednesday, May 23, at 10 am.

2. The "historic" creation of a new majority-minority congressional district — the 9th — between Olympia and South King County may not actually lead to the election of a minority member of Congress. So far, five candidates have filed to run in the 9th. All five — two Republicans and three Democrats — are white men. 

That isn't to say the state hasn't elected minority candidates elsewhere — Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican U.S. rep from the 3rd, is Hispanic — or that candidates of color aren't running. The six-candidate field to replace Jay Inslee in the 1st District includes two people of color — state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44), who is part Japanese, and businessman and activist Darshan Rauniyar, who's Nepalese.

And in the new majority-minority district that was created at the state level, the 15th around Yakima, Democrat Pablo Gonzalez has filed against Republican incumbent state Rep. David Taylor (R-15, Moxee).

3. Republican state Sen. Cheryl Pflug (R-5, Maple Valley), often out of sync with her caucus on social issues (she voted "yes" on gay marriage), but with the team on economic issues (she stood by the budget coup), withdrew her candidacy for re-election Monday.

Gov. Chris Gregoire simultaneously appointed Pflug, who was increasingly at odds with her doctrinaire caucus, to a six-year term as the Central Puget Sound representative (serving King, Snohomish, Pierce and Kitsap counties) on the Growth Managment Hearings Board — a fulltime gig with a $92,000 salary.

Issaquah business owner — Ben & Jerry's and Zeek's Pizza — Democrat Mark Mullett is running for her seat along with a conservative Republican, Brad Toft, who "prefers Republican Party" as opposed to Pflug, whose filing said she "prefers Independent Gop Party."

4. After losing a half-dozen staffers to retirement, other city departments, and "personal reasons," city budget director Beth Goldberg announced last week that she's hired three new budget analysts, bringing the budget office nearly back to full strength. They are: Melissa Lawrie, a former aide to King County Council member Bob Ferguson; Candice Livingston, a budget analyst for the city of Los Angeles; and Jeff Muhm, an analyst for the state house Democratic caucus. 

5. A survey of City Light customers concluded that most ratepayers approve of the job City Light is doing (80 percent ranked the utility's performance as "good" or "very good.") The survey also found that ratepayers' biggest priority is keeping rates down; asked how they would allocate a total of $100 to a list of various priorities, respondents said they'd spend an average of $26, or more than a quarter of the total, keeping rates down.

The next two priorities were increasing City Light's use of renewable energy and increasing efficiency; the least popular priority was making it easier to manage utility accounts online. 

6. More details have emerged about Tacoma trial lawyer Jack Connelly, who's running as a Democrat for the open 27th District state senate seat being vacated by Sen. Debbie Regala. (State Rep. Jeannie Darnielle, D-27, is the other Democratic contender). 

In addition to Connelly's own sponsorship of a group that provides ultrasound equipment to anti-choice crisis pregnancy centers and his use of standard anti-choice and anti-gay-marriage talking points on the campaign trail, Connelly's wife and the mother of their nine children, Angela, appeared at an anti-contraception rally in March, where she told a reporter for the Tacoma News Tribune that a provision in President Obama's health care law requiring insurers to pay for contraception (while ensuring that each "exchange" would include at least once insurance provider that does not pay for birth control) represented "a challenge to the fabric, the core of our lives,” threatening “the right to religion and to follow our conscience.”

On Monday, Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest endorsed Darnielle, accusing Connelly of "actively working to restrict women’s access to reproductive health."

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