The uniformity of thought on the Seattle City Council is a regular topic on Shift, and is certainly not news to anyone paying attention.
However, turns out it was news to the Seattle Times’ Danny Westneat that the Council is now outsourcing its law-writing job to the special interest groups which help the members get elected. The opening line of Westneat’s column pretty much says it all: “If it’s been feeling like Seattle is passing a bunch of specialized laws written by narrow interest groups, well, it’s true. Literally”
That’s right, a proposal allowing the homeless to pitch a tent on public property throughout the city, an initiative pledging the city would oppose nuclear power, a recent tenants’ rights bill, etc., were all special-interest-driven and special-interest-approved.
And none of the Council members noticed that their role as elected representatives was diminished at all by having their friends do the work.
Evidently this only came to Westneat’s attention because a recent Microsoft retiree “was looking to get more involved in the community, so he started a volunteer blog devoted to obsessively monitoring the doings of the Seattle City Council.”
This monitoring led the volunteer, Kevin Schofield, to write that “ ‘the Council has ceded so much power to favored advocacy groups that they let them write legislation unopposed,’ he wrote on his blog after the anti-nuclear resolution sailed through. ‘If the Port of Seattle or Amazon had been allowed to do this, there would be protests at City Hall and calls for Council members to resign.’ ”
But, instead of calls for resignation – perhaps no one has offered to write those up for the Council members – another Seattle publication, the liberal blog PubliCola came to their defense, since no real harm was being done, suggesting that Schofield’s work is much ado about nothing: “At the chin-stroking level, it’s definitely a nice reality check for our uniformly progressive town …But let’s not go overboard.”
Essentially the argument is that there is no need to be bothered by special-interest groups writing Seattle laws because, since they are liberal groups, so they will write good laws.
Move along folks, nothing to see here.