Increase in SeaTac Minimum Pay will be on November ballot

by Jack Mayne

The minimum wage and practices initiative in SeaTac has been ordered back onto the November election ballot just hours before the deadline.

A three judge panel of the Washington Court of Appeals panel granted a motion for discretionary review.

“We reverse the trial court, vacate the trial court’s August 26, 2013 order, and quash … all writs issued pursuant to that order.”

The court said a full “opinion providing written reasons for this court’s decision will follow in due course.

This was the second court hearing Friday.

The first was before King County Superior Court Judge Kimberley Prochnau after Federal District Judge Ricardo S. Martinez sent a federal court case to the state court, ruling that his court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, reasoning that while there are federal constitutional arguments, these arguments are included within the Washington state law case.

Judge Prochnau denied the petition for prevention of election error, in effect sustaining Judge Darvas, which the Appeals Court then overturned. The higher court’s decision will prevail, so the measure is on the November ballot.

The decisions came within a couple of hours before the county elections office which said a decision had to be by 4:30 p.m. in order to be on the ballot.

Decision vacates earlier ruling
The Washington State Appeals Court also heard arguments over King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas’ ruling that the SeaTac minimum pay ordinance lacked sufficient signature to be placed on the November general election ballot.

The SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs was resisting a lawsuit filed by Alaska Airlines and others, before a panel of three judges, including Presiding Judge Stephen J. Dwyer, and Judges J. Robert Leach and Michael Spearman.

The court gave each side 10 minutes for oral argument. The petitioner, the SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs argued first, then those that filed the lawsuit, including Alaska Airline and the Washington Restaurant Association, and finally the City of SeaTac. The Committee for Good Jobs was what the court said was “the only party able to reserve time for rebuttal.”

In several courts
The issue has seesawed back and forth over the past couple of weeks.

When the petitions were sent to the King County elections board, it found that 1,780 were valid of the 2,506 signatures turned in.

Then opponents asked the SeaTac City Council to appoint the city review board and it rejected an additional 201 signatures, but still enough for the measure to get on the ballot. At that point, the Washington Restaurant Association, Alaska Airlines and Filo Foods sued in King County Superior Court challenging the remaining signatures.

King County Superior Court Judge Andrea Darvas rejected 61 more signatures, ordering that when there were two signatures by the same person, both should be eliminated.

At that point, there were 1,516 signatures left but the initiative needed 1,536 to qualify for the ballot.

Then, the SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs gathered 248 more and pressed the court to require the city check them for qualification and to add qualified signatures to have them counted. But Tuesday, Darvas refused to force the additional signatures to the petitions, referring the matter back to the SeaTac city government. On Thursday (Sept. 5) Judge Darvas has denied the Committee for Good Jobs motion for reconsideration based on the reasoning outlined in her Aug. 26 decision.

The SeaTac Committee for Good Jobs filed a lawsuit on behalf of citizens Patricia Seidenstricker and Brian White, calling Judge Darvas’ decision “a circuitous attack on King County’s finding of sufficiency” and “wholly illegal” that “deprived voters, including plaintiffs” of their constitutional rights to propose initiatives.


One Response to “Increase in SeaTac Minimum Pay will be on November ballot”
  1. Kathie Brave says:

    So, in other words, any time you sign a petition, sign as many as you want. It apparently doesn’t matter in this state. ALL double signatures should have been thrown out, not just the second and third.