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Midday Scan: Friday's top stories around the region

Passing of eras in Everett and Portland; McKenna gets a lesson from the Supreme Court; Tim Burgess wants to save Seattle's downtown, while Howard Schultz may want to save the country.

Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess.

Seattle City Councilmember Tim Burgess.

The best social history of a Western city, Norman H. Clark's Mill Town, will forfeit its moniker in the coming months. As Mike Benbow of the Everett Herald writes, "The community once nicknamed 'The City of Smokestacks' could lose its last major smokestack soon along with 750 family-wage jobs." The landmark Kimberly-Clark mill, nee Scott Paper mill, nee Soundview Pulp company, is an octogenarian: proud, but marginally diminished. On Thursday, Kimberly Clark announced that the company will shutter its Everett mill unless a willing buyer is tapped by year's end.

Updated: AG Rob McKenna, busy running for governor, had a setback and a victory in the courts. The state Supreme Court ruled that the AG didn't have the discretion to refuse to appeal a ruling that the state's lands commissioner wanted him to. Andrew Garber of The Seattle Times lays out the legal and political issues well. In a second ruling, the court ruled that McKenna was within the rights of his office to join a class-action suit against the Obama health care package, despite the governor's disapproval. Lurking in the Obamacare ruling is an intriguing suggestion, however: that the governor could have intervened in the dispute between two separately elected state officials, since "the state's chief executive has superior authority when the two agencies disagree on the correct course of action." That might be worth litigating, helping to give more authority to a constitutionally weak governor's role.

E. Kimbark MacColl, Portland's esteemed historian, has died at age 86, and the Oregonian has a fine tribute to this very influential figure. As the name suggests and appropriate to the city, MacColl was an East Coast patrician of liberal outlook. That made it easy for him to penetrate the clubby ruling class of the city, though his accounts of greed and inbred family influences were hardly flattering to that set. He was also an influential teacher at Reed and Catlin Gable School (Portland's equivalent of Lakeside), educating many who went on to be active in Portland politics. Too bad Seattle has not had his equivalent.

Likely mayoral candidate Tim Burgess uses his blog to lay out some ideas for helping boost downtown Seattle, noting recent stories in Crosscut and elsewhere about the ascent of a rival in South Lake Union. Among his priorities: improving Third Ave, finishing the Bell St. park/boulevard, and adding more street cars after the "booming success" of the South Lake Union Streetcar. That downtown is ailing, and not just because of the recession, is dawning on the leadership of the city. Normally, mayoral candidates avoid the D-word, playing to neighborhood resentments during the campaign.

Is Howard Schultz running for president? Just indulging himself and simultaneously promoting Starbucks? At any rate, he has bipartisanship fever and is pushing his idea of withholding campaign contributions from the dysfunctional parties and urging businesses to solve the recession by hiring more workers, right now. His next star turn will be as part of the No Labels electronic town hall next Tuesday, promoting bipartisan solutions to big problems. Here's the letter Schultz has sent around, primarily to business leaders.

The McKenna item has been revised, correcting a confusion between the two rulings — Ed.

David Brewster is founder of Crosscut and editor-at-large. You can e-mail him at david.brewster@crosscut.com.


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