Tag Archives: Ed Murray

Seattle mayor pardons tofu turkeys

As Thanksgiving approaches, Tofurkys in Seattle can breathe easy, even if real turkeys can’t.

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray has pardoned a soybean-based roast, The Seattle Times reported this week.

Spokesman Jason Kelly says Murray posed with the tofu turkey at City Hall to draw attention to hunger in the community.

The Tofurky was donated to Rainier Valley Food Bank.

Kelly acknowledged that Seattle’s reputation in the rest of the country is “a little bit ‘granola'” and that Murray was poking fun at himself.

Communications director Jeff Reading said that the mayor has no plan to pardon any of Seattle’s urban turkeys “either the literal or figurative variety.”

The maker of Tofurky, Turtle Island Foods, is based in Hood River, Oregon, and produces several tofu or tempeh-based products.

On the Web…

http://murray.seattle.gov/mayor-murray-pardons-tofurky-and-challenges-city-council-to-food-drive/#sthash.rbQbn7Fi.dpbs 

Seattle could set highest minimum wage in nation

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray this week proposed a phased-in increase of the minimum wage to $15 an hour over the next seven years — a compromise endorsed by both business and labor that would make the city’s pay baseline the highest in the nation.

A group called 15 Now, led by socialist City Council member Kshama Sawant, wanted to see an immediate wage hike for large businesses and a three-year phase-in for organizations with fewer than 250 full-time employees. They are gathering signatures to get their competing $15 wage initiative on the November ballot.

The mayor’s proposal is the latest by cities and states nationwide to raise minimum wages. Last month, Minnesota raised the state’s guaranteed wage by more than $3, to $9.50, by 2016. California, Connecticut and Maryland also have passed laws increasing their respective wages to $10 or more in coming years, and other states are going well above the federal minimum of $7.25 per hour.

If Seattle’s plan is approved, the city would move toward having the highest wage of any U.S. city. San Francisco, at $10.55 an hour, has that distinction now.

The mayor’s proposal gives businesses with more than 500 employees nationally at least three years to phase in the increase. Those providing health insurance will have four years to complete the move.

Smaller organizations will be given seven years, with the new wage including a consideration for tips and health care costs over the first five years.

Once the $15 wage is reached, future annual increases will be tied to the consumer price index.

Murray said 21 of 24 members of his minimum wage task force, which included representatives of business, labor and community groups, voted in favor of the plan.

“I think that this is an historic moment for the city of Seattle,” Murray said. “We’re going to decrease the poverty rate.”

Howard Wright, CEO of the Seattle Hospitality Group and a co-chairman of the task force, said he thought the plan would have support from the business community.

“While I know not everyone in the employer community will be satisfied, I believe it is the best outcome given the political environment,” he said.

The measure now goes to the City Council for discussion. Council member Nick Licata, a member of the task force, said he would work to get the proposal approved with minimal tinkering.

Washington state already has the nation’s highest minimum wage among states at $9.32 an hour. According to a chart prepared by the mayor’s office, many Seattle workers will reach $11 an hour by 2015. The state’s minimum wage is scheduled to be $9.54 at that time.

Business leaders had pushed for the phase-in and wage credits for tips and health care benefits.

Fewer than 1 percent of the businesses in Seattle have more than 500 workers in Washington state, according to a study for the city by the University of Washington. Those businesses have a total of about 30,000 employees, representing about a third of those earning under $15 an hour in Seattle.

Murray called the plan a compromise and dismissed concerns that he would face opposition at the city’s May Day events, which include a “15 Now” theme.

“I wanted 15, but I wanted to do 15 smart,” he said.

Labor leaders congratulated the mayor for starting a national conversation, which many credit to Sawant, the socialist City Council member.

“Raising Seattle’s minimum wage to $15 reaches far beyond the 100,000 workers who will benefit with the city limits,” said David Rolf, president of SEIU Healthcare 775NW and co-chair of the task force. “Today, Seattle workers send a clarion call to all working people in America.”

Man held for death threats on Facebook against gay Seattle mayor

A 32-year-old man accused of threatening Seattle’s openly gay mayor and a socialist City Council member on Facebook was jailed Jan. 15 on $600,000 bail.

Mitchell Munro Taylor of Seattle was arrested two days after Mayor Ed Murray’s staff found more than 20 threatening, anti-gay postings from the man’s account on Murray’s Facebook page, court documents said.

One post said “Mayor, meet Harvey Milk,” a reference to a gay rights activist and San Francisco board of supervisors member who was fatally shot in 1978, The Seattle Times reported.

Another post on the mayor’s page said “death to socialist council member.” Kshama Sawant is the first socialist City Council member in Seattle’s modern history. While she was not named directly, police said they think she was the target of that post.

Taylor was held on suspicion of two counts of cyberstalking and two counts of malicious harassment.

Defense lawyer Eric Lindell told King County District Court Judge Arthur Chapman that his client has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism. He said his client had been off his medications and asked that bail be set at $10,000. Deputy Prosecutor Gary Ernsdorff sought $1 million bail.

Taylor lives with his parents and works for “an aerospace company,” his lawyer said. The Times reported that Taylor has no criminal history.

According to an affidavit filed in court, the mayor told police he found the comments very offensive and considered some to be death threats. The same document said Sawant told police she was concerned for her safety and the safety of her family.

Both were elected last November and sworn in earlier this month.