Seattle City Council
In Seattle, plastic bags are going the way of DDT, second-hand smoke, former Mayor Wes Uhlman, car horns, insolence, the Seattle Center Bubbleator, and families-that-don't-recycle. In short, the last totem of a 1970s childhood is scudding off on plastic wings (at least until the titans of plastic underwrite a save-our-ocean-fouling-bags' initiative.) "The Seattle City Council passed a broad ban on plastic bags Monday, outlawing them not just in grocery stores, but in department stores, clothing stores, convenience stores, home-improvement stores, food trucks, and farmers markets," the Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho writes. "The bill goes further than bans in other cities, which have largely banished plastic only [from] groceries and sometimes drug stores. Customers in Seattle will still be able to get paper bags from retailers, but for a 5-cent fee."
In 2009, Seattle voters repealed a 20-cent plastic-bag fee (a measure sponsored by the good people who bring you plastic bags.) This latest proposal, passed unanimously by the city council, is more restrictive and perhaps more airtight. There are some exceptions. "Monday's bill exempts customers on food assistance and other government benefits from the bag fee. The city will also make free or reduced-cost reusable bags available to poor people," Ho writes. "The ordinance applies only to single-use, checkout bags, and not to produce, bulk-ban and dry-cleaning bags. Plastic bags for take-out restaurant food are also still allowed, because they help protect health and safety while transporting hot food and liquid."
To ensure that memories of a 1970s childhood are forever quashed, the only editorial cartoonist many of us have followed, David Horsey, is running away to the Los Angeles Times (especially galling because it represents a kind of reverse migration to Southern California. LA is clearly getting the better deal.) As KPLU reports, "Horsey is leaving the Seattlepi.com after a long career with the news organization run by Hearst Newspapers. Since the print publication of the P-I ceased in 2009, Horsey has provided cartoons and columns for the Hearst newspapers in San Francisco, San Antonio, Houston, Albany and Connecticut, as well as for seattlepi.com."
Northwesterners were disappointed when Boeing skipped town for Chicago in 2001. Horsey's departure (at least in terms of employer, whatever he may be doing about his residence) feels like a cultural sacrilege, as if Ivar Haglund had opted to relocate to Beverly Hills (and who is going to properly lampoon Rob McKenna and Jay Inslee next year?) It also bodes poorly for the future of the Seattlepi.com. KPLU reminds readers of Horsey's accolades: "Horsey won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial cartooning in 1999 and 2003 and was a finalist for the prize in 1987. In 1998, he received the National Press Foundation's Berryman Award for Cartoonist of the Year. A recipient of numerous other national and regional awards for both cartooning and writing, Horsey took first place in Special Topic Column Writing in the 2009 Best of the West Journalism Competition for coverage of the 2008 presidential campaign."
Promising news for the city and the Seattle Police Department: They've tamped down the bluster and agreed to meet with Department of Justice officials. "Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said Monday the city will begin talks to forge a legally binding agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to address findings that Seattle police officers engage in unconstitutional use of force," the Seattle Times' Jonathan Martin writes. "McGinn, with Seattle Police Chief John Diaz by his side, struck a more conciliatory tone than was heard Friday, when a blistering DOJ report found one in every five uses of force by Seattle officers was unconstitutional."
McGinn and Diaz's willingness to find common cause with the feds illustrates sound judgment (not to mention don't-yell-at-G-men common sense). It will be a long, humbling process for the SPD. Still, as Churchill said in 1914, "To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war."
Snohomish County is no Cook County. Cook County, thankfully, cleaned up its act. As the Seattle Times Nancy Bartley writes, the travails of Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon have reinforced the stereotype of cheating, power-abusing politicians. Bartley notes that while some residents shrug off the state patrol's criminal investigation of the County Executive, "in Everett, it's more common to find people who are incensed over the allegations that he misused public funds for travel — something he denies — while having an affair with a county employee."
Reardon's studied silence has magnified community cynicism. "Reardon has refused to discuss the investigation, saying only that he's innocent of criminal wrongdoing. He has not commented on the allegation of an affair," Bartley writes. Well, at least it's not as bad as what unfolded in Pierce County, circa 1978 (another 1970s childhood memory.)
Lastly, this morning's Oregonian presents a sober picture of childhood poverty today. (It's arguably, what really should concern and galvanize Northwesterners.) Betsy Hammond writes, "Increasing child poverty in Portland during the past year means half the elementary students in Oregon's largest school district now rely on free or deeply discounted school lunches to keep them from going hungry in class."
Seattlepi.com, "Plastic bags banned in Seattle"
Seattle Times, "Seattle, feds to open talks on police use of force"
Seattle Times, "Snohomish County's mood mixed as leader faces inquiry"
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