Crosscut readers no doubt by now are ready to cry "uncle" regarding our absorption
with The Seattle Times
' financial problems and the perilous state of our city's daily newspapers.
Present and former media folk are notorious for their absorption with their own calling. It is most apparent in the newspaper obituary section where anyone having even the faintest tie to media receives greater coverage than someone distinguished in another part of life.
For the most part, this is because media people — and especially print newspaper folk — really care about their profession.
I would make one amendment to my own contribution to the recent dialogue. I referred to Times
and Seattle Post-Intelligencer
columnists as too often "long on words and short on substance." That is true of most of them. But it is decidely not true of David Horsey, whose cartoons I savor, Art Thiel, Bill Virgin and Joel Connelly at the P-I
, and Joni Balter and Bruce Ramsey at the Times
. Baseball writer Geoff Baker, at the Times
, is not a columnist, but his blog amounts to a column and is first rate. I sometimes disagree with their expressed views, but I know they are grounded in knowledge and earnest reporting.
That is some reception Seattle is giving to the Dalai Lama
during his several-day visit here. Sold-out events all around. Honors at the University of Washington. Receptions with local business and other big shots.
Who can argue with the Dalai Lama's message of "compassion?" Who would oppose it?
Tibet has been oppressed by the Chinese. Yet, before the oppression, it was no paradise in its own right. China, historically, has been obsessed with breakaway regions or ideologies. Taiwan, Hong Kong, Mongolia and Tibet all over time have fed fears in Beijing that the Middle Kingdom was in danger of breaking apart. I feel the same sympathy for Tibet's trials as most Americans do. But I am not sure that boycotting the Olympic Games would do much to ease Tibetans' plight; it might trigger even harsher Chinese crackdowns there.
Seattle's outpouring on behalf of Tibetans, one would hope, will be at least partially sustained on behalf of improvement of our ailing Seattle school system and addressing the continuing plight of local homeless, among other challenges.
I have made a point of watching the Allentown Trolley's progress after taxpayers and local business owners were hit with the tab for this Disneyland tourist run between Westlake Center and South Lake Union. I have ridden the trolley a couple times and observe it frequently as I drive through the Mercer Mess or on Eastlake. At no time have I seen it carrying more than a handful of passengers. Is anyone using it to travel to and from work?
A couple accidents and breakdowns have gotten public attention. I am waiting for the first reliable ridership data.
In the meantime, it appears our popular and more authentic waterfront trolley is gone forever
. When the Sculpture Garden claimed its original home turf, it appeared to catch everyone by surprise — as if no one knew it would happen. County Chair Ron Sims promised that the line, operating from a new Pioneer Square base, would resume operating last summer. Now it appears the cars will be mothballed forever — or, eventually, sold — and the line shutdown. Are we really surprised?
Kudos to Maria Cantwell:
Sen. Maria Cantwell deserves huge credit for pressing her legislation to reform 19th century mining laws
. Here in western Washington, we are less aware of these laws' impacts than in other parts of our state, in the Mountain states generally, and in parts of California. They are a throwback, quite literally, to the robber-baron, exploitative mentality of the 19th century.
These laws have given what amounted to a blank check to mining companies often heedless of their facilities' environmental damage and, sometimes, the safety of their workers. The mining sites often are not directly observable from interstate highways. But, when you do see them, it can be shocking to observe the raw gouges they take from mountainsides and the land. Abandoned sites often are left as they were the day the mines ceased operation. If you fly between Seattle and Phoenix, on a clear day, you can see many such sites on the ground along the way, shielded from ground-level observation by hills and mountains.
Cantwell will have an uphill fight with her legislation. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, of Nevada, has played front man for casino owners and mining companies in his state for a long time. His tactic will be to praise reform, offer an alternative, and attempt to smother real change altogether. More power to Cantwell for trying.