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Mayor Mike McGinn left office on January 1, 2014.
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City of Seattle

October 18, 11:11 AM click here to comment > 0

In memory of Tom Foley

Today our state lost a leader who always put the people he represented first. Tom Foley was a man of principle and dignity who never let partisan politics get in the way of doing what was right for his country and his state. His contributions at home and abroad over his nearly 50 year career in public service still resonate today, including at the University of Washington, his alma mater. My thoughts are with his family, in particular his wife Heather, as we mourn the loss of one of the most dedicated public servants our state has ever elected.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

October 17, 5:10 PM click here to comment > 0

Fossil fuel divestment movement comes to Seattle to plan next steps

Mayor Mike McGinn today joined local government leaders and financial experts from across the country to kick off the Seattle Divestment Forum. Hosted by Mayor McGinn and organized by the Mayors Innovation Project, the Seattle Divestment Forum brings together local governments and financial professionals to develop strategies, practices, and new financial tools to promote divestment from fossil fuels.

“Seattle led the way by being the first city to begin the process of divestment and ensure our dollars are used to stop, rather than promote, climate change,” said McGinn. “By hosting the Seattle Divestment Forum we can help more cities and institutions get their money out of the companies that are contributing to climate change and putting our future at risk. We will demonstrate a market demand for investment tools that will enable more cities and institutions to join us in divesting from fossil fuels in the coming years.”

More than 20 cities, as well as other local governments and institutions, have made commitments to divest their financial resources from fossil fuels, and the movement continues to grow. Leaders of these governments and institutions have found that the risks posed by climate change require decisive action and seek to use all of the tools available to them to combat climate change, including their financial resources.

“The Santa Clara Valley Water District provides flood control, water supply, and watershed restoration to Silicon Valley and along the shoreline of San Francisco Bay. Climate change makes harder every aspect of a water district’s job. Why on earth should we be financing the same companies that are causing our worst problems and are fighting the crucial political solutions we need?” said Brian Schmidt, Board Director for District 7 of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

Since Mayor McGinn announced last year that he would work to divest Seattle’s assets from fossil fuels, the financial sector has also joined the cause. Leaders from across the field of socially responsible investing have been working to respond to the growing demand for divestment.

“The divestment movement has changed the investment community. Bar none, this issue has been the most debated topic in the socially responsible investment community all year long, with more firms now changing their marketing or developing new products to attract these motivated investors,” said Leslie Samuelrich, President of Green Century Capital Management.

Many financial experts believe we are currently experiencing a “carbon bubble” in which the value of fossil fuel companies is based primarily on the untapped fossil fuel resources they own.  It is unlikely these companies will be able to fully exploit those resources, meaning they are currently over-valued. As new regulations come online and market demand shifts to more sustainable energy sources, the carbon bubble will burst, creating substantial impacts for investors and society at large.

“Investment analysts recognize that the window for thermal coal investment is closing, and that oil companies are providing poor returns on capital invested. Investors with a long term fiduciary duty to pension beneficiaries have to be careful they are not backing companies with fossil fuel expansion plans that face the risk of stranding, as climate, water or air-quality policies bite.  Based on current investment plans, there is a real chance that investors and companies will be wasting capital,” said Mark Campanale, Director of Carbon Tracker.

The Divestment Forum will address these risks and offer further data on the performance of fossil fuel free investments. Speakers will also address fiduciary responsibility and re-investment opportunities.

The fossil fuel divestment movement uses the strategy that proved effective in helping to end apartheid in South Africa in the 1980s. The goal is to create the social and political leverage necessary to demand that fossil fuel companies shift their business model to one that is not predicated on the on the extraction of resources that are detrimental to human life and the planet.

“Divestment is both financially smart and politically effective. While the tech and housing bubbles caused painful economic disruptions, they pale in the face of the carbon bubble, in which fossil fuel companies have inflated their balance sheets with reserves that cannot be burned without wrecking the planet,” stated Bob Massie, President of the New Economics Institute. “The sooner that investors sell these toxic assets, the safer their beneficiaries will be.  And as this happens, the United States government will finally wake from its dangerous coma and take steps to correct the market failures that are propelling us towards the abyss.”

The Seattle Divestment Forum begins with a reception and keynote address tonight and continues all day Friday. The Forum will be held in the Bertha Knight Landes Room in Seattle City Hall.  While Forum participation is by invitation, members of the media who are interested in covering the forum should contact Alison Van Gorp at alison.vangorp@seattle.gov to register.

Posted by: April Thomas

October 17, 1:04 PM click here to comment > 0

Updating the fire code to better support our innovative life sciences sector

Over the past year the mayor’s office, Seattle Fire Department, Department of Planning and Development and the Office of Economic Development have been working with leaders in the life sciences sector to determine how the City can better support the needs of this rapidly growing industry. In our conversations with them, we heard that changes to the City’s Fire and Building Code, as they relate to hazardous materials, would help the industry to grow and further develop in Seattle.

I’m proud to report that we have worked through the complexities of the code, and thanks to our work together we’ve been successful in adopting changes that will become effective in 2013.

The changes to the code will expand opportunities for lab locations, while ensuring life safety and property protections from the hazards of fire and dangerous conditions. The changes were proposed by me and adopted by the City Council, and are consistent with nationally recognized good practices and sound fire protection principles. The 2012 code also addresses health, life and fire safety requirements, while allowing flexibility for operations. The new code will require an increase in the sprinkler density and an increase in the fire resistance of lab walls while providing the labs with opportunities to store chemicals at higher floors than the current code allows.

The Building and Fire Code changes reflect more than a year of discussion and research between the City of Seattle and life sciences industry stakeholders.  These changes will better support the needs of life sciences labs while protecting safety protections for workers and the public. Special thanks to the Fire Marshal, Assistant Chief John Nelsen, and Department of Planning Development Director Diane Sugimura, and to the industry leaders who worked with us to come up with this new approach.

These changes will continue to support the growth of the life sciences and global health sectors in Seattle, which are a vital part of our city’s economic base and present the opportunity to create more good-paying jobs focused on innovation.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

October 16, 11:32 AM click here to comment > 1

The Reader – Family friendly policies

THE READER
From the Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
News, Updates, and Information
Click here to receive The Reader via email.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2013

Flexible, family friendly workplace policies
We are working hard to address gender justice in Seattle. Last week, Mayor McGinn sent a letter to Julie Nelson and Patricia Hayden, co-chairs of our Gender Equity in Pay Task Force, to ask them to examine the possibility of a City ordinance on family friendly workplace policies as they develop recommendations on the gender pay equity gap. These policies would support workers’ ability to request from their employer caregiving arrangements including changes in start times, telecommuting, and other flexible scheduling.

Our 2014 Proposed Budget also includes a new investment in our gender justice work in the form of a $1.5 million reserve to fund future recommendations made by the Gender Equity in Pay Taskforce and help equalize the City of Seattle’s gender pay deficit.


Seattle Transit Reception: Expanding Rail and High Capacity Transit in the City
Join Mayor Mike McGinn and City Councilmember Richard Conlin as they share their vision for expanding transit in the City of Seattle. Following the adoption of the Transit Master Plan in 2012, Seattle is moving forward on all four high capacity transit routes identified. Learn more about Seattle’s transit corridors, the timeline for implementation, and how we’ll get there.

Monday, October 21st 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Spitfire, 2219 4th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98121

See more on transit in Seattle at seattle.gov/transportation/transit_projects.htm.

This event is open to the public. Light appetizers will be available, and drinks for purchase. Location is 21 and over.


Seattle Divestment Forum
Mayor McGinn is convening the Seattle Divestment Forum this week (October 17-18). The Forum will bring together local government leaders, staff and financial professionals for a dialogue on divesting from fossil fuels. The forum will provide a unique opportunity for city governments and the institutional financial sector to interface on the components and implications of fossil fuel divestment. Investment experts will provide empirical arguments and address concerns of institutions considering divestment or simply interested in becoming more knowledgeable about the topic. The Forum will explore the costs of fossil fuels investment, risk and diversification, return, fiduciary implications, and reinvestment as they pertain to fossil fuel divestment.

The Forum will bring together the decision makers from cities that are committed to or considering divestment to learn together and map out the path forward. We can also demonstrate a strong demand for fossil fuel free investment options that will drive the financial markets to broaden the options that are available, making the transition to a divested portfolio possible in the coming years.


Supported Employment program wins Governor’s “Employer of the Year” award
Word is spreading about the City of Seattle’s innovative and effective Supportive Employment program, which employs 80 people with developmental disabilities working across 17 different City departments, including the mayor’s office. The program bundles small tasks and entry-level duties in various departments into full and part-time positions for people with developmental disabilities.

Thanks to the hard work and success of each supported employee, along with their supervisors, job coaches and supportive colleagues, the City received an “Outstanding Employer Award” from the Community Employment Alliance and the Association of Washington Business Institute. The award is designed to honor employers in Washington state “who have made exceptional efforts to employ people with disabilities; and who by their recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion policies are role models in their community.”


Upcoming events (for more see http://seattle.gov/mayor/Engage/access.htm):
Oct 17, 6:00 p.m. – Seattle Parks and Recreation Parks Legacy Plan Citizens Advisory Committee Meeting, Miller Community Center (330 19th Ave E)

Oct 19, 1:00 p.m. – Utility/Household Preparedness Class, Magnolia Branch Library (2801 34th Ave W)

Oct 21, 7 p.m. – Seattle Transit Reception, Spitfire (2219 4th Ave)

Oct 23, 7:15 p.m. – Kubota Garden Terrace Overlook Public Meeting, Rainier Beach Community Center (8825 Rainier Ave S)

Oct 24, 6:00 p.m. (5 p.m. sign up) – Budget Public Hearing, Garfield High School Commons (400 23rd Ave)


What we’re reading:
Communities channel low-power radio future

The San Francisco Exodus

Business leaders advocate for City Center initiative

Rob Mattson, King of Ballard, bids neighborhood adieu


To subscribe to The Reader via email, click here.

Posted by: Nathaniel Merrill

October 11, 2:52 PM click here to comment > 0

Community to celebrate Magnuson Park Building 30 grand opening

This afternoon a community celebration will mark the grand opening of the renovated Building 30 at Warren G. Magnuson Park. Mayor Mike McGinn included $8.5 million in the 2012 budget to conduct these renovations. The grand opening allows nonprofit groups to return to a safer building that also serves as an arts hub within the park, with all 35 artist studios already leased. McGinn, Seattle Parks and Recreation and Sand Point Arts and Cultural Exchange (SPACE) will participate in this afternoon’s celebration.

“This is a great investment in our community, preserving and strengthening an important gathering place for the whole city,” said McGinn. “I’m excited to see the new Building 30 and to see community members put it to good use.”

“Seattle has relied on an affordable community gathering space in Building 30 for more than 15 years,” said Acting Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams. “This investment keeps the building open and accessible for years to come.”

“Making a permanent home for arts and culture within Magnuson has been a long-held ideal of the community,” said Julianna Ross, SPACE Executive Director. “I can’t wait for everyone to see what a gem exists here right on the main street of the park.”

Originally constructed in the late 1930s, Building 30 was one of many military buildings built at Sand Point prior to US involvement in World War II. It was constructed initially to house and repair aircraft for a Navy Reserve unit and consists of three sections: a hangar, a three-story west wing and a two-story east wing.

The federal government transferred the use of Building 30 to the City of Seattle in 1996. Since then the building has become a focal point of community activity. The building has been used for public meetings, book sales, plant sales, customized car shows, art shows, plays, dance parties, catered events, art exhibitions and festivals, youth gatherings, roller derby, and run/walk fundraisers.

Building 30 has traditionally been the home of many important nonprofit partners. Prior to the building’s renovation, its tenants were in danger of being permanently displaced from the space. The renovation makes it possible for EarthCorps, Thistle Theatre, PlantAmnesty, Washington Native Plant Society, Bats Northwest, Music of Remembrance, and Club Northwest to return to the building.

In addition to upgrades that make the building compliant with seismic, fire safety and accessibility codes, the renovation also restored the beautiful art deco Officer’s Club.

To inquire about rental opportunities, costs and availability, please call (206) 233-7892.

For more information about the project, please visit http://www.seattle.gov/parks/projects/magnuson/building_30/.

For more information about the arts and artists at Magnuson Park, please visit www.spaceatmagnuson.org.

Grand Opening information:

WHEN: 5:30 p.m. ribbon cutting, Friday, October 11, 2013. Event is from 5 to 7 p.m.

WHERE: Warren G. Magnuson Park, Building 30, 6310 NE 74th St, Seattle, WA 98115

The event will feature live music, performances from Thistle Theatre, demonstrations by One World Roller Derby, and other family friendly activities provided by Magnuson Park tenants.

Posted by: April Thomas

October 11, 2:05 PM click here to comment > 2

Family friendly workplaces and gender pay equity in Seattle

We are working hard to address gender justice in Seattle. Earlier today I sent the following letter to Julie Nelson and Patricia Hayden, co-chairs of our Gender Equity in Pay Task Force, to ask them to examine the possibility of a City ordinance on family friendly workplaces as they develop recommendations on the gender pay equity gap.

Dear Ms. Nelson and Ms. Hayden,

Earlier this year a report by the National Partnership for Women and Families found that Seattle had the highest gender pay gap of any metro area in the country. This gap is unacceptable, and it is a primary reason why I created the Gender Equity in Pay Task Force on which you serve as co-chairs.

Research has found that one of the contributing factors to a persistent pay equity gap is unfair workplace policies that put women at a disadvantage. A Catalyst study found that women are persistently underrepresented in senior management levels in the workplace. One of the reasons they cited was that women are often asked to take on caregiving roles at home, yet their employers do not provide the flexibility they need to manage care and a career. Women are being forced to choose between caring for a loved one and advancing their careers. It is not right to ask women to make such a choice.

A new effort is emerging to address these unfair policies by granting working parents the right to request flexible workplace arrangements. The United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia already have these policies on the books. The State of Vermont is the first government in the United States to adopt these policies, and San Francisco has recently adopted them too.

I believe it is time for Seattle to adopt a family friendly workplace ordinance to address these unfair policies and help close the gender pay equity gap. Family friendly workplace policies can help meet the needs of a wide range of workers across industries. They can improve worker productivity and satisfaction, helping the bottom line and reducing turnover. And they can help overcome persistent inequalities that women face in our economy.

I request that the Gender Equity in Pay Task Force examine a family friendly workplace ordinance for Seattle as part of your work to propose recommendations that will help us close the gender pay equity gap in the City of Seattle and more broadly throughout our city. My staff stand ready to help you in this work. Thank you for your service on this Task Force, and I look forward to receiving your recommendations in the coming months.

Sincerely,

Mike McGinn
Mayor

Our 2014 Proposed Budget also includes a new investment in our gender justice work in the form of a $1.5 million reserve to fund future recommendations made by the Gender Equity in Pay Taskforce and help equalize the City of Seattle’s gender pay deficit.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn

October 10, 3:48 PM click here to comment > 12

Supported Employment program wins Governor’s “Employer of the Year” award

Word is spreading about the City of Seattle’s innovative and effective Supportive Employment program, which employs 80 people with developmental disabilities working across 17 different City departments, including the mayor’s office. The program bundles small tasks and entry-level duties in various departments into full and part-time positions for people with developmental disabilities.

Thanks to the hard work and success of each supported employee, along with their supervisors, job coaches and supportive colleagues, the City received an “Outstanding Employer Award” from the Community Employment Alliance and the Association of Washington Business Institute.  The award is designed to honor employers in Washington state “who have made exceptional efforts to employ people with disabilities; and who by their recruitment, hiring, retention, and promotion policies are role models in their community.” supported employees 4

To learn more about the important functions being performed by hardworking supported employees along with their job coaches and supervisors, check out this video from Seattle Channel that gives more detail on the program and how to get involved.

Later this month the City will also receive the Governor’s “Employer of the Year” award.  And in November the Emerald City Rotary and the Neurological Vocational Services at Harborview Medical Center will recognize City of Seattle departments with yet another award for their successes with Supported Employment.

Our Supported Employment program is just one of the ways we’re working to create shared prosperity that is available to everyone in our community. Any employer can do this – job coaches to help supported employees acclimate to their duties are free of charge to any business who hires a supported employee. For more information about Supported Employment or how to become part of the program, contact Heather Weldon at heather.weldon@seattle.gov or call (206) 684-7922.

Click here for a short video that will help you learn more about Supported Employment.

Posted by: Words: April Thomas, Pictures: Jen Nance

October 10, 9:10 AM click here to comment > 1

The Reader – Next Steps on Fossil Fuel Divestment

THE READER
From the Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
News, Updates, and Information
Click here to receive The Reader via email.

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 10, 2013

Next Steps on Fossil Fuel Divestment
Last December, Mayor McGinn outlined the actions the City of Seattle was taking to begin divesting from fossil fuels. Since that time significant progress has been made. Sixteen cities from across the country have joined us in committing to fossil fuel divestment. We’ve also moved forward on a number of fronts here in Seattle.

We stopped investing the City’s cash balances in fossil fuels last winter. Since then, the City’s Deferred Compensation Plan has determined that they can add a new fossil free investment option so that City employees participating in the deferred compensation program can choose to invest their savings in fossil free investment funds. In addition, the Retirement Board commissioned and received an analysis from their financial adviser on divesting from fossil fuels and assault weapons. Based on the recommendations in this report, they have adopted a policy on how to assess and incorporate socially responsible investing into the City’s portfolio.

Read Mayor McGinn’s blog post for more details.


Financial Planning Day this Saturday
Financial Planning Day is this Saturday, October 12 from 10-2 at Garfield Community Center (2323 East Cherry Street)

• FREE, one-on-one personalized financial advice from Certified Financial Planners.
• Credit, debt, and housing counselors and benefits specialists will offer free, one-on-one assistance.
• Workshops on budgeting, credit reports and scores, dealing with debt collectors, and health care reform.
• Application assistance for health insurance coverage through Washington’s new Health Plan Finder.
• Participants can get advice on important financial issues, including: budgeting; credit and debt; investing; retirement; taxes; homeownership and foreclosure; insurance; public benefits; education savings; estate planning; microenterprise, etc.

If you need language interpretation or accommodations, please register online at FinancialPlanningDays.org/Seattle, or call 1-877-861-7826. Walk-ins are also welcome. The facility is ADA accessible, and we encourage people of all abilities, languages, and backgrounds to attend!


City Council considering 2014 Proposed Budget
The Seattle City Council is currently considering Mayor McGinn’s 2014 Proposed Budget, which includes investments in violence prevention for young adults, Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion, early learning and more. This week, department heads and the budget office are presenting the details of the proposed budget, department by department. The Council will then start considering modifications before adopting a final budget in November.

Residents are encouraged to communicate their priorities to the City Council. The second of two large public hearings will be October 24, 6:00 p.m. (5 p.m. sign up), at Garfield High School Commons – 400 23rd Ave Seattle, WA 98122. For more information and details on other ways to contact the City Council, visit seattle.gov/council/budget/.


Community Police Commission seeking input
The Community Police Commission (CPC) is has begun its community engagement efforts around the Seattle Police Department (SPD) reform effort. The City of Seattle established the CPC to provide community input on proposed SPD reforms. Currently, the commission is seeking community input around 4 policy areas: Bias-Free Policing, Stops & Detentions, Use of Force, and In-Car Video Recordings.

To give input, please contact the Office of the Community Police Commission at (206) 233-2664, OCPC@seattle.gov, or seattle.gov/policeCommission.


Upcoming events (for more see http://seattle.gov/mayor/Engage/access.htm):
Oct 11, 5:00 p.m. – Magnuson Park Building 30 Grand Opening, 7400 Sand Point Way NE

Oct 12, 9:00 a.m. – Eliminating Racial Inequity in Discipline – A Community Workshop, New Holly Gathering Hall (7054 32nd Ave S)

Oct 12, 10:00 a.m. – Financial Planning Day, Garfield Community Center (2323 E Cherry St)

Oct 12, 12:45 p.m. – Arab Festival, Seattle Center (305 Harrison St)


What we’re reading:
Can Cities Solve Climate Change?

Zulily files for $100M IPO — reveals $331M in 2012 revenue, 2.2M customers

Why Are Coal Industry PR Pros Laughing About Climate Change in Private Talks on Export Terminals?

Introducing Seattle Startup Week: A full slate of events — plus fun collectible cards!


To subscribe to The Reader via email, click here.

Posted by: Nathaniel Merrill

October 1, 3:44 PM click here to comment > 0

The Reader – Kwel Hoy’ totem pole arrives in Seattle

THE READER
From the Office of Mayor Mike McGinn
News, Updates, and Information
Click here to receive The Reader via email.

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2013

Kwel Hoy’ totem pole arrives in Seattle
Last week we welcomed the Kwel Hoy’ Totem Pole to Seattle. Jewell James, a member of the Lummi Tribe, and the House of Tears Carvers created the totem pole as a statement of opposition against the Gateway Pacific Terminal, proposed for Cherry Point, north of Bellingham.

“The Kwel Hoy’ Totem Pole is a symbol of what will be lost if we move forward with coal exports in the Northwest,” said McGinn. “Communities up and down the rail lines will suffer the impacts, tribal culture and treaty rights will be damaged, and climate change will be worsened. I am pleased to join with members of the Lummi Nation as well as the more than 75 elected and tribal leaders in the Leadership Alliance Against Coal to continue the fight against the proposed coal terminals in Washington and Oregon.”

“Xwe’chi’eXen (Cherry Point) has deep spiritual and cultural significance to our people,” said Jewell James. “The project will result in significant, unavoidable, and unacceptable interference with treaty rights and irreversible and irretrievable damage to Lummi spiritual values. Kwel hoy’: we draw the line.”


Seattle wins federal grant to hire 10 new police officers
Mayor McGinn and Interim Police Chief Jim Pugel welcomed the news that the Department of Justice has awarded Seattle a $1.25 million Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant to hire 10 new police officers.

Previously McGinn announced funding for 15 new officers in his 2014 Proposed Budget. Combined with that announcement and the 27 new officers added in the 2013 budget process, the COPS grant brings to 52 the total number of new officers authorized in the City budget since the end of 2012.

“This federal grant will help us continue to put more officers in our neighborhoods and walking beats to protect public safety,” said McGinn.

“We are pleased that we will be able to hire ten additional Seattle Police officers under the COPS Hiring Program. This award, along with the extra officers outlined in the budget, is great news for the department and for the community,” said Pugel.

New officers hired under the COPS Hiring Program will be deployed into each of its five precincts at 2 officers per precinct, as part of the Department’s Community Police Team (CPT) program. Under the grant, the city has committed to hire four military veterans.


Affordable Care Act enrollment begins
Today marks an historic day in Seattle and across the country. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act enacted in 2010 by the U.S. Congress and President Obama, nearly 70,000 Seattle residents who don’t have health insurance will be able to enroll in new, affordable health insurance options through Washington Health Plan Finder. Many people with low and moderate incomes will be able to get free coverage or will pay reduced rates.

All health plans will include basic benefits like doctor visits, emergency care, prescriptions, maternity care, mental health services, and preventive care like cancer screenings and vaccinations. No one will be denied coverage because they are sick or because they have a pre-existing condition.

Enrollment begins on October 1, 2013 for coverage that begins January 1, 2014. Free or low cost coverage is available. Go to wahealthplanfinder.org to enroll or attend a local event. A listing of events can be found at kingcounty.gov/coverage. The first free enrollment event is this Saturday, 2-5 p.m. at Garfield Community Center (2323 East Cherry Street). Almost everyone can now be covered by health insurance, so please help spread the word among your friends and family members.


36 Northwest leaders call on President Obama and government agencies to conduct broad and inclusive review of coal exports
Thirty-six elected and tribal officials from the Pacific Northwest are calling on the state and federal governments to conduct a broad, inclusive review of all three coal export sites proposed for Washington and Oregon. In letters to President Barack Obama, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee and the Washington Department of Ecology, the members of the Leadership Alliance Against Coal raise important concerns about the impacts to public health, the environment, the local economy, traffic, and the climate of coal trains and coal exports at the proposed sites.

“We believe it is necessary to consider the three terminals together, in a cumulative impact analysis, in order to understand the full breadth of the impacts,” write the officials in their letter to President Obama. “We urge you to direct the Army Corps of Engineers or another federal agency to conduct a broad analysis of the impacts of coal export, including the impacts of mining in Wyoming and Montana, transporting the coal via rail across state lines, shipping it through our waters and eventually burning it in Asia. We need to understand the full impact of these proposals on our local communities, on our environment and on our health; and the federal government needs to take the lead.”

“Coal trains and coal exports will have a major and harmful impact on our communities, our environment, and our climate,” said Mayor McGinn. “These elected officials have come together to urge our state and federal leaders to look at the cumulative impact of these coal proposals so that we can make the right decision for our future.”


Upcoming events (for more see http://seattle.gov/mayor/Engage/access.htm):
Oct 1, 6:00 p.m. – North Transfer Station Rebuild Community Meeting, Lake Washington Rowing Club (910 N Northlake Way)

Oct 1, 6:00 p.m. – Vessels Used as Floating Residences, 415 Westlake Ave N

Oct 3, 5:30 p.m. (5 p.m. sign up) – Council Budget Public Hearing, Seattle City Hall (600 4th Ave)

Oct 26, 9:00 a.m. – Plant-For-The-Planet Academies for students ages 8-14, Jane Addams School and MLK Elementary


What we’re reading:
Want gigabit fiber home Internet? Move to one of these cities

The criminalization of poverty crime, in Seattle, is officially passé.

Race exhibit asks provocative question: ‘Are we so different?’

West Seattle Transit Coalition launch: ‘We’re all underserved’


To subscribe to The Reader via email, click here.

Posted by: Nathaniel Merrill

October 1, 2:36 PM click here to comment > 5

Next Steps on Fossil Fuel Divestment

Last December, I outlined the actions the City of Seattle was taking to begin divesting from fossil fuels. Since that time significant progress has been made. Sixteen cities from across the country have joined us in committing to fossil fuel divestment. We’ve also moved forward on a number of fronts here in Seattle.

We stopped investing the City’s cash balances in fossil fuels last winter. Since then, the City’s Deferred Compensation Plan has determined that they can add a new fossil free investment option so that City employees participating in the deferred compensation program can choose to invest their savings in fossil free investment funds. In addition, the Retirement Board commissioned and received an analysis from their financial adviser on divesting from fossil fuels and assault weapons. Based on the recommendations in this report, they have adopted a policy on how to assess and incorporate socially responsible investing into the City’s portfolio.

In discussing the next steps on divestment with the City’s Finance Director, it has become clear that the path forward is not without obstacles. While divestment campaigns have been successful in the past, such as in ending apartheid in South Africa, removing funds from a sector of the economy as large as fossil fuels has never before been contemplated. As managers of the City’s pension system, the retirement board has fiduciary responsibility for the investment portfolio. State and federal law on fiduciary responsibility requires board members to only invest funds to achieve a social or environmental objective when the resulting return on investment and related risk are comparable to other available investments. The market for fossil free investment tools is still new and the pension system’s financial adviser believes that existing tools do not yet meet the legal requirements.

I agree that it is important for any changes in the investment strategy for the retirement system to meet a high bar for performance. After all, we want to do right by our employees and retirees, providing them with a secure retirement. However, we must not allow the perceived implications of fiduciary duty to prevent us from acting. I believe that over time, fossil fuel investments will prove to be highly risky and ultimately, continued investment in this sector will yield strong negative impacts for investors as well as society. We must begin now to map out a strategy for divesting from fossil fuels in phased manner that protects our retirement system, and meets our moral obligation to future generations to stop the devastation of climate change.

I’ve also heard from other cities that have committed to divestment that they are finding similar challenges. For that reason, I am convening the Seattle Divestment Forum this October 17-18. The Forum will bring together local government leaders, staff and financial professionals for a dialogue on divesting from fossil fuels. The forum will provide a unique opportunity for city governments and the institutional financial sector to interface on the components and implications of fossil fuel divestment. Investment experts will provide empirical arguments and address concerns of institutions considering divestment or simply interested in becoming more knowledgeable about the topic. The Forum will explore the costs of fossil fuels investment, risk and diversification, return, fiduciary implications, and reinvestment as they pertain to fossil fuel divestment.

My intention with convening this Forum is to bring together the decision makers from cities that are committed to or considering divestment to learn together and map out the path forward. I believe we can also demonstrate a strong demand for fossil fuel free investment options that will drive the financial markets to broaden the options that are available, making the transition to a divested portfolio possible in the coming years.

There’s still much work to be done, and I am proud of the role Seattle is playing in leading the movement towards more sustainable investment practices. Along with many other efforts across the City, this work adds up to real action to address climate change.

Posted by: Mayor Mike McGinn