Having apparently solved every other problem in the city, from burglaries in South Seattle to homelessness downtown, the city this week turned its time and our money to another issue: breast-feeding.
Having apparently solved every other problem in the city, from burglaries in South Seattle to homelessness downtown, the city this week turned its time and our money to another issue:
It seems the city is in desperate need of an ordinance that would make it a civil-rights violation to require breast-feeding women to cover up or suggest they move to another location.
Doing so is already illegal under state law, but women could take it further by filing a discrimination complaint with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.
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As the City Council’s Committee on Public Safety, Civil Rights and Technology mulled it over Wednesday (the full council will vote Monday), mothers packed the meeting room, babes in arms — a veritable Feed-In.
The whole thing reeked of Seattle’s oversensitive form of government, which makes people elsewhere wonder if all that rain has saturated our brains.
It was another classic Seattle-style solution in search of a problem.
Consider: Since the state added legal protections for breast-feeding mothers three years ago, only three complaints have been filed under the law, all of them in 2010. Seattle is trying to make a statement here, and let everyone know that nursing mothers need to be protected from discrimination and exempted from public-indecency laws.
Here’s a statement: You’re wasting our time and money with this stuff.
I’ve never seen a woman with a baby whip out her boob with an exhibitionist’s bravado, nor have I ever seen anyone nearby do anything but turn their heads until the baby was nestled in and nursing away.
And yet, the folks at City Hall gave it staff and meeting time, which costs money.
The same sort of madness went on last month at the Port of Seattle, where commissioners considered whether to allow McDonald’s to lease space at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
It was an easy “aye”: McDonald’s would take over a vacant spot near the children’s play area, put $2 million into the space and bring the Port $5 million over 12 years. Done.
Instead, the meeting turned into something similar to the judging panel on “Top Chef.”
We learned that Port of Seattle Commissioner John Creighton was on a diet — already lost 15 pounds! — but that when he does drive-thru, it’s for Chicken McNuggets.
Commissioner Gael Tarelton waxed poetic about the marketing materials attached to an application from Beecher’s Cheese.
Did someone say cheese?
Creighton loves the stuff, and announced plans to attend a cheese festival in Sonoma, Calif.
At this, Commissioner Tom Albro threw his hands in the air, saying, “Cheese is good stuff, but it’s not good for ya, either.”
Cheese. Breast-feeding. Your tax dollars at work.
I understand that part of government is dealing with the everyday minutiae of our lives: the nursing mother at the next table. The food at the airport.
These details — like playing local music over the speakers at Sea-Tac — are the small pieces that make up the mosaic of our city and culture.
But the power and price of government are too often squandered on them, leaving heavier issues waiting for the attention they deserve — something the entire city is hungry for.
Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Friday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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