Mayor Franklin to Boeing Workers: Learn to Code

As Mayor Cassie Franklin prepares to weather the storm of Boeing layoffs scheduled for next year, she is proposing an “IT boot camp” and collaborating with “innovation centers” for laid off workers.

Welcome back to Local Crank. Meetings this week—

City Council
: October 14th at 6:30PM
Transportation Advisory Committee: October 15th at 8:30AM
Districting Commission: October 19th at 5:00PM

Mayor Franklin’s Plan for Boeing Layoffs: Learn to Code, or Become an Entrepreneur

In her statement on October 1st, Everett Mayor Cassie Franklin announced that in the wake of planned layoffs at Boeing, the city would be collaborating with organizations like Everett Community College, Washington State University, and the Northwest Innovation Resource Center to “retain and tap into the skills of displaced workers”. This week, the mayor’s office released their collaboration plans for two of the three institutions: the Northwest Innovation Resource Center and Everett Community College. Mayor Franklin’s plans to offer laid off workers one of two choices so far:

Attend an IT Boot Camp

The proposal with Everett Community College is an “online, self-paced, student centered IT Boot Camp” meant for “those impacted by COVID-19”. Boeing workers will need to compete with other prospective students to be accepted into a six week program that teaches tech-related subjects like networking, security, and other “core fundamentals”. This $52,000 program will give ten—maybe twelve!—lucky people the chance at a tuition-free college-level course to “tap into” their skills, as the mayor said.

Become an Entrepreneur

The city is also preparing to collaborate with the Northwest Innovation Research Center (NWIRC) to create a program called “Project Reinvent”. The $22,700 project is a “small business retention and recovery program” that targets “business innovators”. These so-called innovators will be assisted with access to a “regional talent of dislocated workers” along with Project Reinvent’s efforts to “provide an opportunity for dislocated workers to share their extensive knowledge and skills to improve the success level of existing small businesses”. In order words, NWIRC’s Project Reinvent is a recruiting program to help “small” businesses hire laid off workers.

This aggressively neoliberal project’s ambitions may sound nice, but it’s really just another plan to funnel public dollars into private hands to do whatever they want with almost no accountability. The project’s goals include meaningless achievements like “increase innovative start-up activity” and “expand entrepreneur experience of dislocated workers and recent graduates”. Entrepreneur experience! What?

The agreement includes no provisions about expected results or return on investment. The City is not obligating any review of Project Reinvent nor how well it actually assisted laid off Boeing workers. Remember this was all supposed to be about helping them, right? This is plainly a giveaway to a non-profit whose mission statement is “creating economic opportunities and jobs through innovation”. Just absolutely devoid of any real, meaningful purpose and instead is filled with startup buzz-worthy phrases like “50% increase in the number of entrepreneurs served”. What does that even mean?

The non-profit, which reported $853,000 in support in 2018, will be getting paid by the City for completing each of several enumerated tasks. For “updating equipment” in NWIRC’s “innovation center” called TheLab@Everett, the City will pay them $2,200. To update their website to “accept participant information” (aka: a web form), the City will pay NWIRC $5,000. And to hire someone on as a part-time “project manager”, the City will pay NWIRC $10,000.

How much money will workers who were laid off from Boeing get from the City of Everett? $0.

This is bleak, and this is shameful. This is as far as the imagination goes for Everett’s leadership, apparently. About a 120 miles away, in Vancouver, British Columbia, the mayor and city council unanimously approved a program of sending $7,500 in cash directly to unsheltered people. The result?

  • Most recipients got stable housing within 12 months.

  • 70% of recipients were able to get healthy food.

  • Recipients reported a 39% decrease in alcohol, cigarette, and drug use.

  • Paid for itself in lowered shelter visits.

Sadly the only sort of things that the mayor and city council in Everett can unanimously agree on is giving the cops drones and temporarily banning supportive housing. We’re going to need a whole lot more than IT boot camps and innovation centers where this city, economy, planet are headed.

Final Everett District Map Ignores Equity Concerns from Delta and Riverside Residents

At the last City Council meeting, Districting Commission chair Tony Fairfax presented their process to getting to Plan A-9, the final proposed boundaries. In describing the feedback process, Fairfax explained that District 1 quickly became a focus as it merged the wealthy, whiter Northwest Neighborhood with the less wealthy, more diverse Delta and Riverside neighborhoods.

State court rulings have mandated that each district be approximately equal in population size. The accepted deviation is 10% of the “ideal population size”, which was determined to be 20,604 people per district in Everett. Therefore, districts cannot variate by more than 2,060 people. The Districting Commission decided to maintain a 5% variation, with districts ranging in size from 19,574 people to 21,634.

“There were no differences between Delta merging with Riverside, Bayside, and Northwest Everett,” Fairfax explained in his presentation, “or Delta merging with areas going down to Lowell and Valley View“. Analyzing the east-west divide created by Broadway, Fairfax said that voter turnouts were higher in Delta and Riverside than in Northwest Everett for 2018 whereas the turnout in 2019 was flipped. That led him to believe that “the district is relatively equal from east and west,” but he inadvertently exposes one important flaw in this thinking.

Voter participation is much higher in even-year elections, like 2016 and 2018, which usually means a more diverse electorate. In odd-year elections like 2017 and 2019, turnout is lower and therefore the electorate tends to be whiter and wealthier. Considering that, it should come as no surprise that turnout was higher in (whiter, wealthier) Northwest Everett than in (poorer, more diverse) Delta or Riverside in 2019.

Odd-years are when, by law, municipal elections occur in Washington state. Knowing that pattern of turnout, it makes sense why three Everett City Council incumbents all reside in Northwest Everett, the future home to District 1. Councilmembers Stonecipher, Murphy, and Roberts will be running against each other in next year’s elections along with anybody else who steps up.

Assuming there are no further changes to the final map, having three incumbents in the same district all from the same wealthier neighborhood will present a significant challenge to any working class candidate from Delta or Riverside. As long as local elections remain in odd-years, more conservative candidates will have a structural advantage when running in District 1 than if the elections were to occur in even-years.

Everett Transit Plans on Permanently Eliminating Sunday Service

In repsonse to decreased ridership during the pandemic, and a lack of additional funding from the city or state, Everett Transit is planning to eliminate service on Sundays and most holidays. Combined with reducing fixed-route hours by half, the coming changes represent a major demobilziation of Everett Transit’s operations.

Cuts in service to this degree only make it more likely that Everett Transit will merge into Community Transit, as Mayor Franklin has previously alluded to.

If you would like to express to the city any opinions about the proposed cuts in service, you can submit a comment to the Transportation Advisory Board during their October 15th meeting. To join their meeting, you must call 425-626-3920 and use Conference ID 990-304-783#.

Thank you for reading!

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