In The News

Jean Godden: The Columnist, The Councilmember, The Kayaker

You may know that Jean Godden has served on Seattle’s City Council for the last 10 years. Before that she worked as a journalist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and the Seattle Times. But you may not have heard that before age 17, Godden lived in over 100 different towns. As part of The Conversation’s feature interview series, Ross Reynolds chats with Godden about her life and work.

Editorial: Support public financing of Seattle City Council campaigns

This article first appeared in the Seattle Times (June 14, 2013).

SEATTLE voters should have the opportunity to decide whether they want to contribute a few dollars every year to finance City Council campaigns.

In other places like Maine, New York City and San Francisco, matching funds have leveled the playing field for challengers against well-monied incumbents. A wider array of candidates run for office and elevate civic debates based on ideas, rather than the special interests of campaign donors.

The electorate might get a crowded field and more losers, but that contributes to a robust democracy.

City Council members are considering a plan to allow candidates to opt in to a 6-to-1 matching program for campaign funds.

A candidate’s spending, including donations and matching funds, would be capped at $140,000 for the primary … Continue Reading »

Total Reclaim – Recycling CPUs and monitors

Check out this KING 5 clip about Seattle Public Utilities’ environmentally and socially responsible process for recycling surplus computers and monitors.

Bright lights, big omen for L.A. North?

Originally published in the Seattle Times on April 21st, 2013.

Meanwhile, barely noticed in La La Land:

Seattle City Council member and longtime scribe Jean Godden dusted off her reporter’s cap for a recent tour of “L.A. Live, the glitzy entertainment complex in the heart of L.A.’s downtown.”

A spin through the complex — Staples Center arena, surrounded by hotels, a massive theater, a slew of restaurants, a convention center, and enough strobes and lighted signs to make Tokyo blush — was part of a Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce “study mission.”

Godden’s take: “It’s easy to get blinded. … Everywhere you look, there’s enough stimuli to power an electrical substation.”

It’d be easy to scoff at the whole, decidedly un-Seattle, scene, except for suspicion that the visual eyesore might be a model … Continue Reading »

Measure would curb water shutoffs for Seattle families with kids

Originally published on March 5, 2013, on KPLU.

Thousands of Seattle families had their water shut off last year. A city council member is introducing a measure to help one group of them — households with young children.

Social service providers told a city council committee what it’s like for parents to lose their water: unable to clean up after changing a diaper, forced to send kids to school unwashed and to borrow buckets to flush the toilet.

One provide, Bill Talbot of the Salvation Army Seattle White Center, was not speaking secondhand. Years ago he himself suffered an accident that cost him his income.

“Our water was shut off, then the meter was pulled. When you get to that point, you’re living in a house that’s no longer habitable. It is going … Continue Reading »

Revised utility-discount program begins in Seattle

Originally published in the Seattle Times, 24 January 2013

Changes to Seattle’s program will make it easier for the elderly and low-income families to receive reduced rates.

Greenwood resident Ethel Palmer qualifies for Seattle’s utility-discount program, but for a short time the city didn’t think so.

Palmer, 88, maintains a house with her 92-year-old husband. She regularly files her paperwork for the utility program, which cuts participants’ Seattle City Light bills by 50 percent and Seattle Public Utilities bills by 60 percent.

But last year, she suddenly noticed her bills skyrocket.

The city had lost her application, and she fell out of the program. Palmer had to travel in person to the Seattle Human Services Department, which administers the program, to sort out the … Continue Reading »

Seattle shoppers getting used to reusable bags, stores less so

Originally published in The Seattle Times on January 17, 2013.

Thin, carryout plastic bags have nearly disappeared from big grocery and retail stores in Seattle, six months after city officials enacted a ban to reduce litter and protect Puget Sound sea life. But costs for many stores have increased. Shoplifting has gone up slightly and stores have gotten pushback from some customers who don’t want to pay for paper.

Those are some results of a survey by Seattle Public Utilities to see how stores and shoppers are faring under the new rules. A second survey by Environment Washington, one of the proponents of the new law, found that 64 percent of shoppers agree with the bag ban and more than half say it has prompted them to bring reusable ones more … Continue Reading »

Seattle city officials concerned about rising tides

Originally aired on King 5 on January 13, 2013.


Justice — at last

Originally published on December 7, 2012, in the Seattle Gay News


To be honest, I never dreamed I would be fortunate enough to see the day when same-sex marriage became legal. But the people of this state voted. And, thanks be, I did get to see the day when equal rights prevailed through a vote of the people.

In the dark days before Referendum 74, here and elsewhere, there have been monumental injustices. Couples who loved one another were denied even the smallest legal crumbs. When a loved one was hospitalized, there was no inherent right to visit. At the death of a loved one, there was no right to inherit, no easy way to negotiate finances, no guaranteed protection for offspring. Basic rights that straight couples take for granted were … Continue Reading »

South Park faces long sewer project after bridge construction

Originally published Sunday, December 9, 2012 in the Seattle Times


When the downpours come, Catherine Grisez knows her South Park studio is about to flood because bugs suddenly scurry from the perimeter to the center of her metalworking shop.

It’s happened so often in the past few years, she said, she can no longer keep the floods separate in her mind.

“I don’t sleep when it rains,” she said.

For other neighbors, sewage and stormwater explodes into basements and kitchen sinks, as the city’s aging, undersized pipes become overwhelmed by runoff.

The situation is bad enough that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) plans an $8 million drainage-improvement project for South Park. The goal is to double the size of the pipes to 24 inches along several blocks of 14th Avenue South and South Donovan Street.

But … Continue Reading »