From last night’s 34th District Democrats meeting, last one for our area’s largest political organization before the November election:
CHAIR ANNOUNCES COMPLAINTS: 34th DDs chair David Ginsberg warned the group that his monthly report would be different this time around. He used it to announce that the group had become the subject of complaints filed by Glen Morgan, who Ginsberg described as a lawyer trying to “bankrupt progressive causes” via legal action.
“On Thursday afternoon I got word that he had filed a number of complaints against the 34th District.” Ginsberg said they’ve hired lawyers “and we’re going to have to spend money on lawyers that we should be spending electing Democrats.” Ginsberg added, “We’ll be OK,” since they’ve already made contributions to some campaigns, though he’s not recommending any more. “We’re not going to have to face dissolution like some of the legislative-district organizations already have.”
Another 34th Democrats board member said that they’ve hired a lawyer who is handling “hundreds of these complaints” and that they will ask the state Attorney General to sue them because that’s “preferable to Glen Morgan suing us,” and they would be able to settle quickly and move on.
No specifics of the complaints were mentioned at the meeting. We checked the state Public Disclosure Commission’s files and found this complaint by Morgan against the 34th DDs filed Wednesday, alleging three violations constituting “failure to accurately and timely report contributions, expenditures, and debts.” Another search of the PDC site showed this is one of more than three dozen complaints Morgan has filed against various individuals and groups in the past month alone.
Then it was on to the main pre-announced agenda item – a speaker urging support for what’ll be on your ballot for November as King County Proposition 1:
LEVY FOR VETERANS, SENIORS, VULNERABLE POPULATIONS: Leo Flor, while saying he manages the current levy for King County, said he was not at the meeting in an official capacity but rather “here as a West Seattle resident, a Democrat, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, and a person who believes in what this levy does.” Currently, as he explained, the Veterans and Human Services Levy has been in place since 2005, renewed in 2011 with 69 percent voter approval, but now it’s expiring, so County Executive Dow Constantine and the County Council sent a new measure to the ballot, and you’ll be voting on it when your ballot arrives (going out one week from today).
The levy description is here. Flor says it’s the smallest voter-approved levy in King County. For veterans, it provides job training – those who get that increased their annual income an average of $28,000 – to almost $40,000, Flor said. The levy in all “funds 42 different activities across King County.”
Planning the current levy, he said they took a look to assess changing conditions around King County, noting that for example, people are getting older – 25 percent of the population will be over 65 by 2040. “The first members of Generation X are going to start retiring in about 13 years,” for example. Housing affordability, he noted, is a big issue, and yes, he noted the irony of talking about a property tax while also talking about the ability for seniors to stay in their homes. He mentioned the exemption program, for which more than 23,000 people are eligible but haven’t applied. So part of what this levy will do is enable them to go out and find those people. It will also address “social isolation,” which can affect longevity the same way health problems such as smoking do. “It’s just as bad for your health and your life as smoking 13 cigarettes a day.” The issue is ensuring that people feel they belong when they re-enter the community, from military service, incarceration, etc.
*10 cents per $1,000 valuation – “more than the current levy” (double, actually) – $52.80 a year for the median house valued at $528,000
*One-third for veterans and their families, one third for seniors (55+) and their caregivers, one-third for vulnerable populations – LGBTQ, immigrants/refugees, domestic-violence survivors, sexual assault survivors, human-trafficking survivors.
*Half the proceeds in the first year will be “used to promote housing stability”
Also regarding social isolation, “a lot of seniors want to work on their terms … there’s a lot (they) have that they want to give back … experience, perspective, skills …” So the county hopes that work programs will help connect them so they can be earning “a little bit of income” and staying involved.
In Q&A, Flor was asked what happens if the levy doesn’t pass. “The $18 million in services it currently funds will stop.” Another question was from someone who read the plan and wanted clarification about the provision that much of the money goes to homeless senior veterans in the beginning; Flor said that the provision lifts once about 350 of those people are housed, or once the county has spent $24 million in an effort to house them. He was also asked for more details on who’s considered “vulnerable populations” – for example, “are people with developmental disabilities included?” Flor acknowledged that definition had evolved as the proposal was developed – “any person or population inside King County who is acted on by the system in a way that marginalizes them,” in a definition that continues for “about three pages,” he said.
He also sought to debunk the enduring “Freattle” myth, saying that the homeless veterans who are here are largely from this area, and most of those who are homeless here have lost their housing because they lost their job.
He was followed by County Council Chair Joe McDermott, who urged a “yes” vote.
Shortly thereafter, on a show of credentials, the group voted to endorse the levy.
SAFE INJECTION SITES: Also from Council Chair McDermott: After he said that the initiative to ban them has submitted enough signatures to make it onto the ballot, he talked about the counterproposal that County Councilmembers are seeking to also get onto the ballot so a “full range” of dialogue can be had. It would propose a 3-year pilot project for 2 sites. “How do we make sure that people are safe and stay alive until they are able to seek services, able to detox and break their addiction?” he asked. He expets the countermeasure to be taken up by the County Council next week.
TRICK-OR-VOTE: Second vice-chair Michael Taylor-Judd suggested that members go out and doorbell on Halloween “at a time when (residents) are open to people coming to their door.” They’re taking signups for people who are interested – gathering groups for Burien, West Seattle, or Vashon – or, you can do it on your own.
UPCOMING INITIATIVE: Ann Martin told the group that a ranked-choice-voting initiative is going to be circulated. One prime reason it’s needed, she said, was exemplified by the Seattle mayoral primary earlier this year, with 20-plus candidates on the ballot. She said it’ll be “explain(ed) in more detail later,” but first, 31,000 city ballot signatures need to be collected by next March.