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Week in Review: April 30, 2021

Hacks & Wonks

Release Date: 04/30/2021

Deconstructing Deconstructing "Compassion Seattle" with Tiffani McCoy from Real Change

Hacks & Wonks

Today Crystal is joined by Tiffani McCoy, Advocacy Director at Real Change, to discuss Charter Amendment 29, aka Compassion Seattle. It will appear on your November ballot, and would codify encampment sweeps into our city charter. They discuss the misleading way this amendment is messaged, what the cost of the amendment would be, and why its backers should give us pause.

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Week in Review: July 30, 2021 show art Week in Review: July 30, 2021

Hacks & Wonks

Today consultant Heather Weiner joins Crystal to provide insight into the final days of primary campaign season, including: optimistic vs pessimistic messaging, a candidate who spelled their own name wrong, and Pete Holmes' interview where he admits to making decisions based on fear of losing endorsements.

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The Broken System of Police Oversight with Amy Sundberg and Dr. Shannon Cheng show art The Broken System of Police Oversight with Amy Sundberg and Dr. Shannon Cheng

Hacks & Wonks

Crystal is joined by Amy Sundberg, author of Notes from the Emerald City, and Dr. Shannon Cheng, Chair of People Power Washington to talk about public safety in Seattle and King County. They also discuss the People Power Washington Voter Guide that details where Seattle and King County candidates stand on public safety issues. 

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Week in Review: July 23, 2021 show art Week in Review: July 23, 2021

Hacks & Wonks

Today on the show, Marco Lowe, Professor at Seattle University’s Institute for Public Service, joins Crystal to discuss recent polls that have come out about Seattle’s mayoral, city council, and city attorney races, the importance of understanding poll methodology and margin of error, and our government's responsibility to fight climate change.

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Supporting Art and Cultural Space: Conversation with Vivian Hua of NWFF  show art Supporting Art and Cultural Space: Conversation with Vivian Hua of NWFF

Hacks & Wonks

Today Crystal is joined by Vivian Hua, Executive Director of the Northwest Film Forum. They discuss Vivian’s path to leadership in the film forum, Vivian’s film Searching Skies, supporting emerging artists in the pandemic, and the need for long-term cultural spaces.

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Week in Review: July 16, 2021 show art Week in Review: July 16, 2021

Hacks & Wonks

Primary ballots are in mailboxes now! Today former mayor of Seattle and Executive Director of America Walks Mike McGinn joins Crystal to discuss the front runners in the mayor’s race, how candidates need to be making the case to the public in these remaining weeks before the primary, and the psychology and emotion that drives Seattle’s voting decisions.

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Seattle, Pay Attention to Pierce County! A Conversation with Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young show art Seattle, Pay Attention to Pierce County! A Conversation with Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young

Hacks & Wonks

Pierce County Council Chair Derek Young joins Crystal to the differences in funding for transit in King and Pierce counties, how Pierce County is absorbing those who can’t find homes in King County, how the Pierce County Council is investigating police misconduct, and how one governs as a Democrat when there is a real Republican presence.

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Week in Review: July 9, 2021 show art Week in Review: July 9, 2021

Hacks & Wonks

This week Erica C. Barnett of PubliCola joins Crystal to discuss what’s going on in Seattle’s mayoral race. Additionally, they cover the potential firing of two Seattle Police Department officers who participated in the January 6th insurrection, and the punitive nature of our state's work release program.

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Toshiko Hasegawa on the Power of the Port of Seattle show art Toshiko Hasegawa on the Power of the Port of Seattle

Hacks & Wonks

Today Crystal is joined by Toshiko Hasegawa, candidate for Port of Seattle Commissioner, to discuss how the Port of Seattle can modernize and prepare our region for a greener future. They cover economics and equity, improving air quality and health of South King County residents, and how the Port can encourage fair treatment for workers.

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The Brady List: Officers with Credibility Issues show art The Brady List: Officers with Credibility Issues

Hacks & Wonks

The Friday Week in Review show will be back next week, as we enjoy the long weekend. We are airing a show with Melissa Santos talking about her excellent reporting on Washington's Brady List. 

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More Episodes

Today Crystal is joined by friend of the show Mike McGinn. They dissect Joe Nguyen’s challenging of Dow Constantine for King County Executive, the massive transportation package that squeaked by the legislature at the last minute, its anachronistic focus on building new highways, and how trying to please every interest group means the public’s interests get left behind.

As always, a full text transcript of the show is available below and at officialhacksandwonks.com.

Find the host, Crystal Fincher on Twitter at @finchfrii and find today’s guest, Mike McGinn, at @mayormcginn. More info is available at officialhacksandwonks.com.

 

Resources

“Joe Nguyen challenging Dow Constantine for King County executive” by Melissa Santos: https://crosscut.com/politics/2021/04/joe-nguyen-challenging-dow-constantine-king-county-executive 

“Dow’s $100 Million Convention Center Bailout Plan” by Doug Trumm: https://www.theurbanist.org/2020/12/08/dows-100-million-convention-center-bailout-plan/ 

“Washington House passes carbon-pricing bill with promise of a 5-cent gas tax for transportation projects” by Joseph O’Sullivan: https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/politics/washington-house-passes-carbon-pricing-bill-with-a-5-cent-gas-tax-for-transportation-projects/ 

“‘Forward Washington’ Leaves Safety Behind” by Ryan Packer: https://www.theurbanist.org/2021/04/19/forward-washington-leaves-safety-behind/ 

“The legacy of racism built into Northwest highways and roads” by Knute Berger: https://crosscut.com/opinion/2021/04/legacy-racism-built-northwest-highways-and-roads 

 

Transcript

Crystal Fincher: [00:00:00] Welcome to Hacks and Wonks. I'm your host, Crystal Fincher. On this show, we talk with policy wonks and political hacks to gather insight into local politics and policy through the lens of those doing the work with behind-the-scenes perspectives on politics in our state. Full transcripts and resources referenced in the show are always available at officialhacksandwonks.com and in our episode notes. Today, we're continuing our Friday almost-live shows where we review the news of the week with a co-host. 

Welcome back to the program friend of the show and today's co-host: activist, community leader, former mayor of Seattle, and Executive Director of America Walks, the excellent Mike Yeah, McGinn.

Mike McGinn: [00:00:51] I'll take excellent. That's pretty darn good. Most days I just feel kind of mediocre. So, you know, Friday afternoon excellent goes a long way.

Crystal Fincher: [00:00:59] I think you're pretty excellent. I think you are also a pretty excellent Seattle mayor as people know.

Mike McGinn: [00:01:06] Oh, you know, there's a few things I'd do over, but that's a different show.

Crystal Fincher: [00:01:12] Well, you know, I think I want to start off the week just by talking about the latest big entrance into the realm of political candidates. Joe Nguyen has announced that he is taking on Dow Constantine for King County Executive. How do you think things started with the rollout there?

Mike McGinn: [00:01:33] Well, I think that he has a great reputation and he's developed a lot of support. He - my one experience with him was when I was working with Feet First, a statewide pedestrian advocacy organization. He appeared on a webinar and I was really impressed with Joe then, just his values, and his style, and his approach.

I think the big thing on this race to think about is - I think it's an outsider year, Crystal. I don't think this is an insider year. I think it's a year where people don't underst-, you know, people are pent up, they're frustrated around, particularly around issues like homelessness. We even see crime going up, you know. There's just, I think, a general sense that government, local government, isn't competent and that's going to be a real challenge for any incumbent. And this goes for where somebody who's in office or previously held office, and the mayor's race as well. 

And so Joe is an elected official, but he's a relatively new one. He's younger, he's coming from outside the system. And I think that's going to be a big challenge for Dow. I think Dow also has the challenge - we were mentioning this earlier. You know, when someone's been in office a long time, and Dow has been in office a long time - the strategy to do that, to not get a serious challenger in a primary or a general, and Dow has not really had a serious challenger since he was elected - is you kind of deliver enough to every major constituency group. Labor, business, environmental - to keep them on the sidelines, so they don't finance a challenger. Now that's a great strategy for staying in office, but it turns out it's a really bad strategy for delivering the types of results that the public can see and appreciate, you know?

And it's a strategy that works for awhile - because if nobody's financing a challenger, if there isn't a lot of criticism coming from other people who are driving media of the incumbent, you know, you can end up without a challenger and you can end up in basically a strong position for a long time, but that strategy works until it doesn't. And the point at which it doesn't is when the public decides - you know, time for change, incumbent's not getting it done, there are big problems, and we need a new face to do it. And I think that's where Dow is going to have a lot of - I don't know if Joe's gonna win, but if he doesn't win, he's going to give the incumbent a hell of a scare.

So I think there's going to be a really serious race. And that's how this one's going to go down. I think the same dynamics, by the way, or perhaps even more strongly, are in play in the Seattle's mayor's race. If you, if you're attached to the way things have been done, you're going to have - you're facing a headwind. If you're coming in from the outside, you're going to have a better shot.

Crystal Fincher: [00:04:34] Yeah, certainly as a challenge, I agree with your assessment and it's really challenging. People right now are more impatient, I think voters are more impatient than we've seen. That there are so many people who are in such close proximity to crisis in one way or another, and feeling pressure and anxiety in one way or another, in multiple ways. And that they're looking at a political system that they feel has not met the mark, they feel is not operated with the urgency that they see problems in their lives demand and that we're facing societally. And so it becomes very hard when people are like - it is time for change and it's actually time to get serious about this change - and all this incrementalism, it's going too slow, it hasn't worked, it's just perpetuating the problems. And it's really hard, from an incumbent's position, to make the case that you are the person to implement the change that people are demanding when you have overseen the status quo for years. And I think Dow ran into that a little bit this week, even in navigating through Joe Nguyen's announcement and being asked about it and, you know - Yes, I'm ready to implement new changes, looking forward to appointing a sheriff, and looking at those things. And people are going, How are you going to lead change when you're the one who's presided over the status quo? How does that work? 

Mike McGinn: [00:06:06] You express that more articulately than I did, Crystal. I mean, you really - the point you make, too, about the economic distress that people are facing. So we've got Democratic politicians who say, You know, we really care about inequality. We're going to do something about it. We really care about climate. We're going to do something about it. We really care about the people out on the street. We're going to do something about it. And your point is dead on - you can't credibly claim that when you've been in office a long time and the problems seem to be continuing. And it's harder for executives than legislators - they can always blame the other people in the legislature. But when you're an executive, it's an even harder spot to be in. And again, I think that the dynamic is in part - you say defense of the status quo or presiding over the status quo. That's also wrapped into the strategy that I was saying of - you make sure you give everything to every major constituency group.

Crystal Fincher: [00:07:05] Yep.

Mike McGinn: [00:07:05] You know, when you do that, you're just not teeing yourself up to really get at root problems in the same way. Because if you did that, you would make, depending on what side of the spectrum you're coming from - from the side of the spectrum I'm coming from, you'd make a bunch of people really mad at you - people with money and power. And if you want to avoid that, then, and not have them finance a challenger, well, you're not going to be looking at the type of taxing policies or regulatory policies that can really get at, or spend spending policies, that can really get at the heart of climate or inequality or racial injustice.

Crystal Fincher: [00:07:44] Yeah, I think you're right on. I think we saw an example of that in the past year with Dow Constantine's announcement that he planned on leading a bailout of the convention center, which is, you know, certainly making a lot of moneyed interests and people who would be financing challengers very happy, but the public immediate response to that was very different. It's just like, Whoa, where are we coming up with these hundreds of millions of dollars in the middle of a pandemic with all of these other people in pain? Is that the wisest expenditure right now? Is that the most effective and productive way we can spend this money, when we're trying to prevent people from falling into homelessness and climb out of this pandemic and recover as a community, without leaving folks behind.

And that seems to be the question of this recovery. There are a lot of people - we just saw Amazon's record-breaking, eye-popping earnings again. We've seen grocery store earnings, you know, be sky high. The rich are doing just fine throughout this pandemic and the people who've done well -

Mike McGinn: [00:08:56] The convention center is - it's not just the bailout of the convention center, right? And of course there are two processes, right? There's a process for if you want to raise money for one thing, it requires extensive public hearings, it may require a public vote. But if it's a process to raise money to bailout the convention center, it just happens. Boom. There it is at the City Council - County Council, excuse me. There are two processes, but it's not just the bailout. The convention center itself is like a $1.7-1.9 billion project that is financed primarily by hotel taxes, taxes on hotels. How do we decide that we should tax hotels to build a convention center instead of say taxing - and that's visitors from out of town - instead of say, taxing hotels and the visitors from out of town to pay, to help with the transit or housing of the people that clean their rooms, clean their bathrooms, and change their sheets. Like why do we put the money there, in the convention center, instead of into this. And that's another great example of - nobody voted on that convention center. It's a special taxing district created by the legislature, with the authority to levy these taxes without any public vote. So we create these systems that can funnel close to $2 billion to this one structure - by the way, it also takes property off the tax rolls for the city of Seattle.

Crystal Fincher: [00:10:30] Yes, it does.

Mike McGinn: [00:10:31] Right, like that's another aside. You know, the streetscape will be horrible - this big, chunky building. But all of those things are asides to the fact that - we wire the system to deliver benefits for a certain portion of the population, and the portion that already is doing pretty well, and we don't take care of the public. And it can take a while for the public to catch up with that. Because the politicians are out there saying - I care about inequality, I care about climate, I care about racial injustice, I care about service workers. But they're not seeing the results, the public isn't seeing the results. So yeah, Joe's in the race - he's a new guy and he's against Dow Constantine who's been there for 12 years. Yeah. If I'm a betting man, I'd bet on Joe, but who knows how this works?

Crystal Fincher: [00:11:19] Who knows how it'll work? I definitely see it being a competitive and lively race. I definitely see this leading a conversation that permeates throughout all races. About, to the point that you just made, who is our policy designed to help? Who is it designed to overlook? Why are we continuing to reinforce existing systems that create and reinforce inequity and inequality? I think it's high time to have conversations about that. I think Joe Nguyen is really eager to have those conversations.

Mike McGinn: [00:12:02] He's keen to have that conversation, right?

Crystal Fincher: [00:12:04] Yeah. Yeah, and is not afraid, not bashful, not afraid. They certainly have not been shy about going after Dow Constantine on social media and Twitter and being, you know, feisty in the replies, and with a lot of people agreeing. And I think Dow - part of the challenge when you have been a safe politician for quite some time, is that it is not natural to respond to an attack - for politicians and people. And I think they're trying to figure out exactly what their message is going forward. And that's just not as simple and automatic as a lot of people would wish. So I think they're working through that, and certainly Dow has a lot that he can stand on in terms of a record. I think we're going to hear a lot about that. You know, he - it's hard to paint him as bad, but it's hard to paint him as great, and a leader.

Mike McGinn: [00:13:06] I would totally agree. It's - one, I'd agree is, it's hard to paint him as bad. I mean, I've worked with Dow Constantine and he's - I know which direction he'd like things to go in. It's just that he's in this position of - he's had his turn. And I think that's a very tough position. And, you know, he's had a good turn. He's had three terms. That's a good long turn to have a shot at things. And in that case, it doesn't have to be personal for the voters to decide they might want to go in a different direction. You know, they don't have to have personal animus towards an incumbent in that situation to want to make a change. I mean, I could - it's not exactly comparable, but Larry Gossett and Girmay. I mean, I admire the hell out of Larry Gossett. The guy is a hero, but the voters can say it's time for someone else to have a turn. And that's - that may be the case here for Dow.

Crystal Fincher: [00:14:02] Yeah. And in that situation, I think that it - that race could have turned out very different if there were a different challenger. But there was someone who voters felt comfortable to carry on the legacy that he established and lead in the world that we're living in today with the urgency that's necessary. And I feel like there is a similarity there. Obviously different contexts, but voters, like you said, can make this decision without having to dislike Dow, and can fully respect Dow, and still find themselves making a different decision.

Mike McGinn: [00:14:40] Absolutely. Absolutely. There's a little bit of a segue here. There's a little bit of a segue here. We were talking about promises and rhetoric and action. And you promised me we'd talk a little bit about one of my favorite topics - transportation.

Crystal Fincher: [00:14:58] Transportation and climate. And geez, how they're such universal topics in everything that we're dealing with. And we just had the end of the legislative session last weekend and they, despite going into the final weekend saying we have no time, we aren't going to be able to pass anything, not a transportation package. Lo and behold, few guys spent the weekend in a room and hammered it out. And what did we get with that transportation package, Mike McGinn?

Mike McGinn: [00:15:33] Well, what's amazing is that this isn't even the big transportation package, that one is still promised for the future, right? But in this specific transportation package that they funded, we continue to see the same investment in highway expansion that we've seen before. You know, if you go through what was in the project, we're still going to run State Route 509 through a neighborhood, that if you look at it, is a primarily Black and Brown neighborhood. At the federal level, they're talking about taking money out of - they're talking about investing to remove highways that divided Black and Brown neighborhoods. In the state of Washington, we're about to punch through - 509 - through a neighborhood that's just south of Sea-Tac airport, which is primarily Black and Brown people. So it's been on the books for decades. The highway builders have wanted to finish the highway. And even though we now know about climate change, and the effect of highway building on climate change, even though we know about the effects of pollution on the lungs of the people who live near highways, even though we know about the history of racist siting of highways, we're still gonna do it here because that's been what they've wanted to do forever. And it's - that's not the only one in the package. We're widening 405, we're widening I-5 in stretches, we're widening I-90, we're completing the North Spokane highway, which just supports sprawl as well. 

So it's, uh, you know, did I say wider 405? Like it's pretty much a couple of billion dollars, this year, to make highways wider. You know, this is at the same time that Sound Transit is trying to figure out, Where do we find the money, in the recession, to keep our promises to the voters, right? So it's in the same exact time. So we have not really changed direction. And the amount of money in this state transportation bill for active transportation, you know, like walking and biking or transit, remains extremely small in relation to the billions that we see going towards highway expansion. It's not even maintenance. I get it. If you need to repave a road, if you need to take care of a bridge - I mean, we know that the City of Seattle. Yeah, this was also in the news. The City of Seattle has hundreds of millions of dollars of bridge maintenance that they need to do in the coming years. That could all be paid for with state gas tax, as well as bridges across the state. Because state gas tax pays for roadways, whether it's a highway, whether it's a local street, whether it's in a city or town or at the state level. We could take all of that money, put it right into maintenance for cities and towns, reduce the property taxes that have to go to that, so that cities and towns could have more money to support other things, or who knows? Maybe they might reduce taxes, although I wouldn't bet on it. But we could do that. That would be a choice to spend our gas taxes on taking care of what we have, reducing the burden on cities, instead of expanding highways. It's just ridiculous.

Crystal Fincher: [00:18:52] Well, it's just so -

Mike McGinn: [00:18:53] Sorry, I just got going there, Crystal.

Crystal Fincher: [00:18:55] No, I love it. It is spot on. And it is, to your point, ridiculous. It's ridiculous that, as you point out, this is happening while federally, we are finally having conversations that are addressing the reality that we're facing today. The reality that roads are not this benevolent, wonderful, unifying force. We absolutely have to maintain and take care of our existing infrastructure, but we don't have to expand a damaging and dangerous and unhealthy infrastructure. And there is no greater source of pollution than the transportation sector. And so if we are going to make changes, it absolutely has to involve the transportation sector, or else we're just taking one step forward and two steps back. 

Which we have done in this legislative session, coming out of Washington. And enabling revenue that comes from attaching a price to carbon, and then enabling that to be used to further enable pollution by creating more roads. We're doing this while we have projections that show that people are not going to be using freeways to the same degree. And that was just hyper-accelerated by the pandemic and people commuting remotely. So fewer people are driving than have ever been before. Lots of people are loving the idea of not returning to a commute. Driving isn't something that - a lot of people have this nostalgic view. It is not that romantic thing for everyone anymore, particularly in our current context, when it just basically equates to a commute, which is not fun or pleasant for anyone. 

And more people are looking to live closer to work, or to be able to work from home, to be able to walk to the store and not have to get in your car and drive to enjoy a night out or to go grab a bite to eat. People want to be able to live, work, and play in their own neighborhoods and communities. And that's actually a healthier way to develop communities and a healthier way to live. In this context, for us to then, in a state that is supposedly super progressive, super Democratic, and to just double down on pollution when we knew better. They knew better than this.

They made a decision that it didn't matter. And we just have to do better than that. We have to do better than electing simply people with D's by their name, who are fine making the same decisions that we've always made. We have to look deeper into the values and intentions and look at records and say, Is this consistent with someone who is going to make the right decisions moving forward? There are some choices that need to be made. 

Mike McGinn: [00:21:53] Well, you know, that's a topic, right? Like this is Democrats in the legislature, and to some degree, the choices made by advocacy organizations themselves. Transportation and climate advocacy organizations, as to what they view as politically possible. So, in 2007, I was a volunteer leader of the Sierra Club and we were presented with being asked to support what was then called the Roads and Transit ballot measure. And it also had billions in highways in it, including a lot of the projects we're talking about now. It was coupled with giving Sound Transit the authority - it was coupled with what we would now call Sound Transit 2 - was one big package. It was sent into the region, Puget sound region, to vote on - whether we want to expand highways and expand rail at the same time. 

In the Sierra Club, we made a political calculation. And we made a political calculation that we could beat it, and that we should beat it, because the highways were worse for the climate than transit was good for it. And it was not a worthwhile trade. And even more than that, building the highways was inconsistent with the massive reductions in emissions we needed to make. It didn't put us on a pathway to success, regardless of how you counted the exact amount of carbons saved or lost from each activity. And our political calculation was that there's actually not that much public demand for highways. That when you combine an environmental message of don't make climate change worse, along with the natural resistance of voters to spending, raising their taxes to pay for something they don't care about that much, that we could beat it. And we did. Now, it turns out that light rail is really popular, right? So when they came back with light rail alone, they got 60% of the vote. In the prior year, the Roads and Transit package got like 44% of the vote. I'd have to look it up. I think it was 44%. So that was the difference - you got rid of the highways - support for the package went up 13% and you got to majority viewpoint. 

Now that lesson - that it's worth building a coalition that - you take the environmental component and you put that on top of the anti-tax component, and there's not a majority for highways. Yet, somehow or another, the advocacy groups go into every legislative session with the viewpoint that new highways are inevitable. And because they have that viewpoint, the other side says, Well, we're going to hold - you got to support the highways if you want more transit. That's what happened the last major package. Or in this case, if you want to get a carbon fuel standard, a low carbon fuel standard, or you want a cap and trade bill, you're going to have to support the next highway bill. 

And the analysis is all done based upon looking at this set of people in Olympia as to what's possible, rather than looking at where public demand lies. And I don't know, I guess what I'd say to the activists is, and the advocates out there, If someone's trying to put you in a box, right? And the box is - you have to support all these bad things if you want the thing you want. Well, you can either accept the box or you can try to kick out one of the sides. And in this case, kicking out one of the sides means raising hell, going to the public and organizing, and holding your champion's feet to the fire and say, No, we're not going to make that deal. And honestly, let's just think about this. If you were in there - if I were in there and I had somebody saying to me, a Democrat saying to me, Look, you gotta sign off on the bad highway, or else you'll never get what you want. I'd be like, could you put that in writing for me? I'd like to take that out to the public. I'd like to tell everybody what you just told me. Let's see if you can stand there. Let's see how long you can stand there saying we're not going to take action on climate, which the public cares about a lot more today than they did in 2007 when we defeated it. You tell the public they can't have highways, they can't have road maintenance money. You know, they can't have a transportation bill, because that's what you believe. Let's go. Let's see how you stand up to the public on that. But that's a different attitude than, Ah, we got to get something. I guess we have to give up stuff. I guess we just have to accept the parameters of the debate that's laid out by the people that want the highways. You know, someone's trying to put you in a box, kick out one of the sides, try to change it. That's the job of an advocacy organization.

Crystal Fincher: [00:26:48] It is absolutely the job of an advocacy organization. And we have seen a lot, a number, we've seen some willing to do that. We have seen others who are, who have been unwilling and -

Mike McGinn: [00:27:00] Well let's name a couple of names, at least on the positive side. Disability Mobility Initiative, Front and Centered, the Urbanist - for saying, No deal. Don't make a deal. Stand up for what's right. And your backstop is not, again, not counting all of the carbon atoms that are flowing from this or being reduced by that. But it's like, what's possible given where the public is and these folks are taking the harder stance. 

I think of Bill McKibben and 350. They decided to make the Keystone Pipeline an issue. If you're like one of the real climate policy wonks, you might say, Well, there are other things that are more important to reducing emissions than stopping that pipeline. And if you were a political realist, they'd say they were political realists - Well, you can't stop that. That's too far down the line. Well, look what happened when they made that their signature effort? Not only did they end up stopping the Keystone Pipeline, they built power to stop other things as well. So that's, I think, you know, a lesson that I think the advocates here need to need to adopt. Which is let's build power by aligning ourselves with public attitudes and picking out the things that are obviously bad and trying to stop them. And presenting a different vision of how to get to a finish line rather than this compromise incrementalism, where I'm not sure if it's one step forward, two steps back, or 1.1 steps forward and 0.9 steps back. Let's get out of that, man. We got to get, we gotta eliminate carbon from the system. 

Crystal Fincher: [00:28:36] You gotta be running forward.

Mike McGinn: [00:28:38] All the steps going forward. You gotta be running forward. Right.

Crystal Fincher: [00:28:41] We can't take these little baby steps. We can't stand in place. We have to be unambiguously moving rapidly forward. I would also underscore when other organizations like 350 do make priorities, and do lift up what the community is asking for and what communities themselves know they need to be healthy and whole. And standing with native and indigenous communities, who are quite justified in demanding that their land not be sullied and poisoned by pipelines. And looking at that as a path forward. This is what happens when we walk side by side with community and what we all know is correct. And everyone has ownership of what is happening. 

I think that there's - the Front and Centered coalition of almost 70 organizations state-wide certainly stood up and made their voices heard in this debate and will continue to. And acquitted themselves well throughout session and beyond. And really, it is important to know who's willing to speak truth to power and where an organization's priorities are. Are they in maintaining their access to power, and just the proximity to power, and just feeling good that they're standing next to someone viewed as powerful and influential? Or are they actually trying to get good policy passed, to prevent bad policy from being passed, and really deliver results for their members and their community? 

Because at the end of the day, we just saw more - another article this week about another study about just the impacts of pollution on communities of color. And there - it's not philosophical, it's not theoretical. Pollution is killing communities of color. Killing communities of color. And you can see that happening with rates of illness and rates of death. You can see that in Seattle, in just the difference in life expectancy between folks in Magnolia or Laurelhurst and others in South Seattle and Georgetown. And it's just, it is just so frustrating to watch people settle for proximity to power instead of demanding what's really going to work.

Mike McGinn: [00:31:26] It's such an important point that you raise. Which is for an advocacy organization to ask, to really examine what is the source of their power - is really what you're asking. And what a powerful point about the Keystone Pipeline, as well. That working in alignment with the interests of the tribes increased the power of the environmental organizations. It didn't decrease it, it increased it. And that's a really powerful lesson. Groups that think, as you've pointed out, if a group thinks that their power comes from their policy knowledge - like there's a little bit of power there. It's nice to win the argument, but if logic and rationality and policy expertise were enough to win the arguments, the Democrats would be destroying it right now. But it's not, it's just not. Nor do - people also sometimes think the source of their power is their working relationships with elected officials or their access. But they confuse how - they confuse how democracy is supposed to work. Because as soon as the elected official knows that your power derives from your access to them, now they hold power over the advocate because they can deny access at any time. And that just saps the strength of advocacy.

So I'm always - what I'm always looking for is - where groups that understand that their power has to be rooted in their ability to mobilize public demand for the outcomes, that they want to tap into the public demand that already exists and move it. That's a source of power that - and let's face it, the other side gets that too. You know, they do it with - they get the Koch brothers to give them billions of dollars to run campaigns. They're working on it as well to try to demonstrate that their power comes from the public, not just from their dollars. But if we really believe our power comes from the public, that the people are with us, then let's play that way. And that I think is the biggest - is the issue. I think a lot of organizations think their power comes from their knowledge, or from their access, or their relationships. And it's just at the end of the day, that power is not very strong. It's just not very strong in - against the other side.

Crystal Fincher: [00:33:53] I agree. And that's actually one of the big lessons, kind of working lessons, that I learned from you, actually. Was just the power of community and coalition and to stitch that together in the face of established power on side. How to stitch that together and apply pressure to get the outcome that you want. And the power of coalitions to be able to do that - to pressure electeds, even through the prospect of an initiative or, Hey, we're going to take this action on our own. You have the opportunity to do the right thing and you can get the credit if you do. Otherwise, we're moving forward and we're doing this thing. So what's it going to be. And that being an effective lever to move policy. So, you know, you have practiced this for a long time.

Mike McGinn: [00:34:44] I have, and I haven't always won either. Let's be really clear about that, but at least I took a swing at it. You know, who knows - you might, at least take a swing, at least take a swing at trying. 'Cause if you play by Olympia's rules, Olympia is going to win. If you play by those rules, you you're guaranteeing a loss at the outset. If you play the other way, and say, No, we're going to try to bring some new power into the relationship to try to upset the conventional wisdom about what is or is not possible. You might not win, but you might win. And that's far better than guaranteeing being stuck in this kind of incrementalist status quo. And people get to go home with a victory, and legislators get to say we did something. And then you get this cycle where everybody gets to say, Well, it was good enough. It was good enough. And we're all really good for it. And you know, it kind of ties back to the comment we were making about Joe Nguyen versus Dow - that works until people realize, Nah, things aren't really getting solved and it's not really getting at the heart of it.

Crystal Fincher: [00:35:53] Yeah, I agree. Well, that brings us to our time here today. I'm so thankful you were able to join us today. Thank you for listening to Hacks and Wonks on KVRU 105.7 FM on this Friday, April 30th, 2021. The producer of Hacks and Wonks is Lisl Stadler. Our insightful co-host today was activist, former Seattle mayor, and Executive Director of America Walks, Mike McGinn. You can find Mike on Twitter @mayormcginn, 'cause he's still mayor in our hearts and we're denying the one that is there. You can find me on Twitter @finchfrii, spelled F-I-N-C-H-F-R-I-I. And now you can follow Hacks and Wonks on iTunes, Spotify, or wherever else you get your podcasts. Just type "Hacks and Wonks" into the search bar. Be sure to subscribe to get the full versions of our Friday almost-live shows and our mid-week show delivered to your podcast feed. You can also get a full transcript of this episode and links to the resources referenced to the show at officialhacksandwonks.com and in the podcast episode notes. Thanks for tuning in and we'll talk to you next time.