Caffeinated news and gossip featuring gay marriage, campaign finance, rental housing, and the NBA.
1. Seattle Times Executive Editor David Boardman alerted the world last night that Republican gubernatorial candidate, Attorney General Rob McKenna, may be a little touchy about R-74, the referendum on gay marraige.
Last night, Boardman, evidently tweeting from CityClub's 30th anniversary dinner at the Westin, tapped out:
Was it just coincidence that Rob McKenna walked out of CityClub event right after Anne Levinson urged support of marriage-equality measure?
2. After putting it off a month for more deliberation, the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission voted unanimously yesterday to endorse a proposal by City Councilmember Mike O'Brien that would prohibit city candidates from raising money until 12 months before the primary election. They also endorsed the idea of prohibiting candidates from rolling over too much money from one election to the next, but didn't recommend a specific minimum amount; O'Brien's initial proposal would have limited rollover funds to $5,000.
Some of the concerns about the proposal included the possibility that it would discourage first-time candidates from running (because they would have less time to raise money); that it would create a mad rush for dollars immediately after the new deadline, discouraging people from running against incumbents; and that the proposed $5,000 limit was either too high (why would a campaign that isn't campaigning need that much money?) or too low (if you've done a good job raising money for your previous campaign, why should the city punish you by making you give it up?)
Addressing the first question, O'Brien told commissioners that very few candidates raise money before January in election years anyway; "the only time I've seen it happen was when the [King] County Council was downsized and a county council member jumped into a city council race really early." That candidate, Dwight Pelz, lost to incumbent Richard McIver.
Ultimately, the commission seemed to be convinced by the argument that people who contribute to a candidate in one year may not support that candidate when he or she runs the next time, and that limiting the number of months candidates can raise money levels the playing field for challengers.
"I don't think this is going to get money out of politics … [or] make races more competitive," commission chair Bill Sherman said. But, he added, "you don't want your money to be used if you had supported [a candidate] once but not later. … I'm [also] persuaded that having a blackout period does create a window in which incumbents can focus on their jobs."
Yesterday's board vote was just a recommendation to the City Council; O'Brien says he hopes to introduce actual legislation in the next two months.
O'Brien is making a name for himself as a campaign finance reformer. He recently made good on his campaign pledge to raise his first $10,000 in increments of $10 contributions from a thousand small donors.
3. The Oklahoma City Thunder, née the Seatle Supersonics, made it to the NBA finals last night, just four seasons after leaving the Key and the Emerald City behind.
Either embrace it or hope that the Boston Celtics beat Miami (they're up 3-2) with the sharpshooting of former Sonic Ray Allen, to serve up some poetic justice.
4. The Seattle Puget Sound Rental Housing Association just hired retiring Republican state Rep. Bill Hinkle (R-13, Cle Elum) as their executive director.
An odd move given that the RHA is currently trying to work with the staunchly Democratic Seattle City Council over new rental housing inspection rules.