Friday, July 3, 2009 Strains in the green-growth coalition

AKA: Mossback piggyback Publicola green pac.
Strains in the green-growth coalition
The battle for candidate endorsements reveals some ideological divides between local environmentalists, developers, and independent thinkers who wonder if all urban growth is good.
By Knute Berger
People in Seattle are green green green. We're a leader on Kyoto, we hate plastic bottles and shopping bags, and our politicians often jockey over who is more green than the other. Candidates for office vie for key endorsements from groups like the Cascade Bicycle Club, Washington Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club.

The unified have split from Nick Licata.

Erica Barnett writing at Publicola offers an interesting window into how the green-growth coalition is finessed. She writes about how city council candidate Jessie Israel managed to get endorsements from both pro-density Washington Conservation Voters and the pro-growth Seattle/King County chapter of the Washington Realtors Association. One group hates sprawl, the other thrives on growth, including sprawl.
She's not the first Seattle candidate to get the endorsements of both, but it's interesting to see at whose expense the endorsements were made. Both groups found Israel more to their liking than her opponent, incumbent City Councilmember Nick Licata, one of Seattle's most progressive politicians. Barnett wanted to know why Israel over Licata? There were several reasons:

Asked why the Realtors supported Israel, association public-affairs director David Crowell pointed to two issues, both of which would appear to conflict with her environmental-community support. First, Crowell said, Israel told the group she would not let tree protections stand in the way of development within growth management boundaries (i.e., in cities). "She remarked that trees are very important, but if it's a question between trees and urban areas...density would trump trees," Crowell said.

Israel also apparently opposes home sellers having to conduct mandatory energy audits to let buyers know just what they're getting. As to why the WCV made its choice, Barnett reports:

Sudha Nandagopal...says the group decided to endorse Israel because she "really showed that she'll be an environmental champion" on the council, by supporting "walkable, transit-oriented communities — things that are also very important for tree canopy protection."

As for why WCV didn’t endorse Licata, as they have in the past, Nandagopal said, "Nick has been a strong opponent of Sound Transit for many years, and he's not really on same page with us on density issues. When it comes down to it, Nick Licata is not running with the environment as a priority."

Pretty amazing that Licata is now considered some kind of green apostate, despite his backing of numerous green efforts, including the Green Line monorail project which was the very definition of "transit-oriented" and the darling of the pro-density crowd. It's also interesting that one group sees Israel as willing to sacrifice urban trees while another believes her overall policies will protect urban trees. Strains in the green-growth coalition

Nick Licata has chased the urban wine bar vote to its conclusion. He may be able to hang on as the general opposition person on the council, but that depends, in part, on Greg Nickels and his running mate Jan Drago being favored in the Fall. They are not that now, so, drawing anti Nckels/Drago support in a council position is watered down by a fist full of direct mayoral challengers to the Mayor of Downtown.

About the trees:
The city is littered with limbless trees, telephone/power poles. Where people, or the city, have made the error of planting an actual tree near one of those things it has often resulted in a block-long hatchet job, lopping off the tops of the trees, with a reverse mohawk.

Bury the lines, open the skies.

It is possible to have both Nickel/Drago and Licata replaced this November. The question then becomes: Who will tell the other council members what to do (or not do). I am only half-joking. The majority vote together as one big vote, going along with whatever is simulating leadership at any given moment. I am not looking for endless debates and 5-4 split votes on everything, but I am having a hard time accepting the pac vote for a head tax on business, and then against the head tax on business, for example.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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