Monday, November 11, 2019

Last Call For Ama-zoning Laws

As I told you last year, Seattle's city council didn't back down from Amazon's threats to take its HQ and tens of thousands of employees elsewhere if the city didn't kill it new tax on big business.  The Mayor folded, and Amazon responded by spending a massive $1.5 million on ousting Seattle's city council members ahead of elections last week.

The company failed completely, and most were re-elected.

On election night, Amazon’s key political nemesis, Kshama Sawant, originally trailed by 8 percentage pointsbut over the weekend, she declared victory after ballot counts put her ahead of her Amazon-backed rival by more than 3 percentage points. Election tallies indicate that only two of the seven candidates Amazon backed will win, meaning the company’s efforts will fail to tilt the council in a pro-big-business way that would benefit Amazon.

The win by Sawant, a socialist and former software engineer, is the latest salvo in what has become an increasingly contentious battle between Amazon and its hometown city council. Amazon’s rapid growth in Seattle has helped transform the city into a tech powerhouse, but local politicians blame that growth and the accompanying real estate boom for much of the city’s ills, with a homelessness crisis near the top of the list.

Last year, the city council voted to levy a new tax on large businesses of about $275 per employee — called the “head tax” — to help fund homelessness services and low-income housing. Amazon fiercely opposed the bill, arguing that the city’s problem was not a lack of money to spend but rather ineffective spending of the money it had.

After the tax passed, Amazon and other Seattle businesses continued to fight and eventually succeeded in pushing local leaders to repeal the tax.

But a new, similar tax might now be in play after Amazon-backed candidates’ showing in last week’s election. Amazon supported seven city council candidates via a $1.45 million contribution to a political action committee backed by Seattle’s chamber of commerce in the hope of electing a more business-friendly slate of officials. But it appeared as of Monday that only two of the seven would win election.

The council has nine members in total, but two seats were not up for election this year. Local unions spent about $1 million on the race, according to Reuters.

Since being elected for the first time in 2013, Sawant has been a frequent critic of Amazon, hosting several rallies at the company’s headquarters to protest Amazon’s perceived negative impacts on Seattle.

It’s possible that Amazon’s cash donation aimed at defeating her rallied more voters to her side, with presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders both tweeting about Amazon’s opposition to her.

In fact, her opponent, Egan Orion, sounded on election night as though he would have been happier without the Amazon association.

“We didn’t need any more money in this race. I think it was a big distraction that played right into Kshama’s hands,” he said.

Local elections matter, folks.

The Red Retirement Rush Resumes

The latest GOP Congressman to head for the hills, fleeing the disaster of Donald Trump's 2020 run is 28-year veteran Rep. Peter King of New York although there's a twist: he wants his daughter to fill the seat.

King, 75, said he was retiring so he can live full-time in New York and spend more time with his family. 
"This was not an easy decision. But there is a season for everything and Rosemary and I decided that, especially since we are both in good health, it is time to have the flexibility to spend more time with our children and grandchildren," he said, adding that his "daughter's recent move to North Carolina certainly accelerated my thinking." 
A source familiar with King's thinking told CNN on Monday that King "was really holding on" until his daughter, Erin King Sweeney, a former councilwoman in Hempstead, New York, "could run for his seat and win it." 
"Pete is really wonderfully into his kids and grandkids, and hated the idea of seeing them even less if he had to split his time between" DC, New York and North Carolina, the source said. 
King's retirement comes as his party inches closer to an election in which they could lose a number of vulnerable seats in the House, including his own. Earlier this year, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee said in a strategy memo that the New Yorker is "at the top of the retirement watch list" and included his district on a list of "targeted districts." 
Republicans have struggled in suburban districts during President Donald Trump's time in office, a trend recently on display last week in Virginia, where Democrats seized control of the state legislature. 
So far, 16 House Republicans and five Democrats have announced they won't seek reelection next year.

Thing is, Erin King Sweeney moved to NC six weeks ago, but if she's out of state, I guess King has decided he's moving on himself.  King's NY-2 Long Island district is definitely in play though for Democrats, with a Cook PVI of R+3. Without King's gravitational pull keeping this in the GOP column, this one's gonna fall to Team Blue in 2020.

Stay tuned.

Ukraine In The Membrane

Needless to say, given Donald Trump's penchant for retaliation and crucifixion of anyone who dares to challenge him (only while Trump's in a position of power over said person mind you, Putin for instance owns Trump and can challenge him anytime he wants), it's no wonder then that Alexander Vindman, the NSC's top Ukraine expert and key impeachment witness, is being fired from the White House.

On Sunday, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien said Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, who gave a bombshell testimony in the House impeachment investigation last month on President Donald Trump’s Ukraine scheme, will be removed from his post at the White House National Security Council.

“Lieutenant Colonel Vindman, who has testified under oath, is serving on the National Security Council currently,” CBS News’s “Face the Nation” host Margaret Brennan said during her interview with O’Brien. “Will he continue to work for you despite testifying against the President?”

“Well look, one of the things that I’ve talked about is that we’re streamlining the National Security Council,” O’Brien replied. “It got bloated to like 236 people up from 100 in the Bush administration under President Obama.”

The national security adviser said Vindman, who currently serves as the council’s Director for European Affairs, will be removed as a part of the White House’s “streamlining” efforts.

“My understanding is he’s–that Colonel Vindman is detailed from the Department of Defense,” O’Brien said. “So everyone who’s detailed at the NSC, people are going to start going back to their own departments and we’ll bring in new folks.”
When Brennan asked O’Brien to confirm that the decision is not retaliation against Vindman, whom Trump has baselessly accused of being a “Never Trumper,” the national security adviser’s response was that he personally had never retaliated against anyone.

“I never retaliated against anyone,” he said. “There- there will be a point for everybody who’s detailed there—that their time, that their detail will come to an end.”

Sure, we getting rid of the Ukraine expert and it's not retaliation, we're just starting with him because Ukraine is at the top of the list.  Did I mention Trump is a coward on top of being a bully and is making O'Brien do this as well as justifying the reason, the laughable excuse that the Trump regime has too many qualified foreign policy experts?

Sure.  And I'm Ivan the Great.


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