A Victory For Free (Bikini) Speech in Everett

Geographically, the City of Everett is twelve miles north of Seattle city limits. Economically, they’re a timezone or two apart.

As one little example, a new apartment in downtown Everett is $1,326 a month, compared to $2,249 in the Seattle central business district. For another, there are about as many construction cranes in downtown Seattle as there are office buildings in downtown Everett.


I could go on, but the gist here is that the boom-town conditions in Seattle and the Eastside have not significantly reached this city of 110,000.

Where Seattle is heavily influenced by Amazon and other high-tech firms, and while the Eastside economy is driven by Microsoft, Google and others, the main economic engine in the Everett area is still The Boeing Company, where they assemble 777s and 787s at the Paine Field assembly plant. If you want to know one reason why Boeing opened a new manufacturing facility in North Charleston, look no further than the statues in front of the Aerospace Machinists Union headquarters, situated across the street from Paine Field.

It was that kind of adversarial relationship that encouraged management to move its headquarters from Seattle to Chicago and to look elsewhere to assemble airliners.

Last August, the Everett city council decided to require a dress code for baristas at drive-through espresso stands. Coffee-wise, Everett isn’t too different from Seattle. If you drive by one espresso stand, no big deal, you’ll hit another one a block or two down the road. They’re all over the place. Some of those coffee stands employ healthy females of breeding age* in attire that shows a lot of skin. I’m not thrilled with this business practice, but you only really see those baristas if you drive up and order a latte (in most places, the windows facing the street are blacked out). In case inquiring minds want to know, no, I’ve never order a caffeinated beverage (or any other kind of beverage) at any of those stands.


Yesterday, a federal judge ruled the ordinance unconstitutional.

Here’s some news from Everett, Wash., which passed an ordinance in August to make “bikini baristas” cover up at work.

On Monday, however, a U.S. district court judge extended an injunction against the ordinance, preventing the city from enforcing the ban on bare skin.

The judge concluded that the ordinance violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. If I were on the city council, I’d spend less time worrying about the pasties, thongs and cleavage of food service workers and more time trying to attract one or three high-tech firms in Seattle or Bellevue and entice them to move north, where there is a lot of nice, under-utilized waterfront land. I’d also spend less time suing drug companies and more time figuring out to directly deal with a burgeoning homeless and drug problem. But that’s just me. The local politics aren’t as loony liberal as Seattle, but they’re liberal enough.

* Obsure Terminator 3 reference.

P.S. Born and raised in West Seattle, lived in Everett for nineteen years.


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