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12 good things that happened the past year

It's okay to be grateful around this time of year, so here are some suggested causes for lifting your wassail bowl.

Seattle Symphony's new music director Ludovic Morlot

Seattle Symphony's new music director Ludovic Morlot Seattle Symphony

The central plaza for Amazon, designed by NBBJ.

The central plaza for Amazon, designed by NBBJ. Lawrence W. Cheek

'Tis the season to be grateful, so here are some presents I would hand out to good folks and good happenings in the past year.

1. Seattle Symphony, for an artful transition from one era to the next. After Maestro Gerard Schwarz's overlong "Farewell Symphony," the organization pivoted dramatically and skillfully to a very different tempo. It made the most of new Maestro Ludovic Morlot's youthfulness and openness to all kinds of music, let him charge up the players (oh-so-happy to have a new leader), and sent strong signals of engaging with the broader community of music lovers, not just classical music buffs. An example: open rehearsals.

2. Winning the war to keep the 737 in Renton. This is a huge boost to the local economy (and pride), and for once the winner (not the bad guy) was labor, which deftly used the leverage of the NLRB lawsuit. Less known but just as admirable was the way Gov. Gregoire's operatives used the moment of danger to get UW and WSU on the same page for the need to educate more engineers.

3.  Danny Westneat, Seattle Times columnist, had a strong year, often leading the civic discussion. While the paper's editorial page has veered right on cost-cutting, Westneat has carved out a sensible center, full of common sense, a nice sense of comic outrage, impatient with political correctness, and a genuine feeling for how ordinary people are suffering during hard times.

4. The state Republicans. Encouraged by the prospect of a center-right new governor, Rob McKenna, numerous young Republicans are trying to create a moderate cadre that will be a kind of revival of the Dan Evans wing of the party in the 1970s. The state GOP that may emerge will be quite distinct from the Tea Party-crazed national party, and so may have national influence as well. At last, the state GOP may come in from the political wilderness.

5. Dow Constantine, the King County Executive, is now the leading Democrat and power broker in the region. He built an excellent top staff, laid out a firm but gradual path for introducing productivity in the bureaucracy, and has become the top regional statesman, well regarded by business, labor, greens, and both parties. He's the go-to leader on such things as saving Boeing jobs or forging a transportation blueprint.

6. Pacific MusicWorks. Among the most ambitious of the smaller arts groups to emerge in the past few years, this group is led by the esteemed lutenist Stephen Stubbs, who returned to his native Seattle after an important career in Germany. High standards, great imported artists, and a bracing openness to modern music and multi-media shows.

7. Seattle University. It is becoming a model of a university that takes its immediate urban neighborhood seriously, sending students to help with local poverty and schools with homeless kids. Another intriguing aspect is the way this values-based Jesuit university deeply cares about tapping religious traditions to deal with contemporary problems. And it makes speedy decisions, thus inviting innovative proposals.

8. Modernizing, urbanizing Bellevue. The rising city is at a political and economic crossroads. Is it controlled by a group of original developers, maximizing their investments and keeping taxes low, or is it going to follow the path of Sound Transit and double its size and become a much richer, more techy blend of workforce and residents? The past election, rejecting Tim Eyman's initiative against tolls and Sound Transit and rebuffing the Kemper Freeman slate on the city council, was a strong indication of the new direction.

9. Moving on from the Viaduct wars. Ironically, the vote that the deep-bore tunnel advocates feared and tried to stop ended up going their way in August and finally ridding Seattle politics from the rearguard snipers on the tunnel proposal. This culture war, which will now seek better battlefronts and issues, had grown very stale and was sucking all the oxygen out of local politics. Too, Mayor McGinn can now move on to other issues and perhaps rescue his sinking mayoralty.


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Comments:

Posted Sun, Dec 25, 12:25 a.m. Inappropriate

I'm generally pretty optimistic about the future, but I have to laugh to imagine that anyone would think that any time soon we're going to see a revival of some old-timey Dan Evans-Joel Pritchard-Sid Morrison kind of GOP here in Washington State. Last I checked, these same GOPs elected Kirby Wilbur as their state chair...and their leading candidate for US Senate is a backbencher legislator cypher from the other side of the Cascades. There are no GOPs from Seattle in the state legislature and many of the best they had from the 'burbs have switched parties (Rodney Tom, Fred Jarrett, etc.). It all looks to me like GOP business as usual.

TaylorB1

Posted Sun, Dec 25, 9:20 a.m. Inappropriate

I hae laugh at the image that anyone thinking individual who continues to vote for the Majority Democrat Party in this region can possibly expect any different results. Dow Constantine, while holding the line better than Ron Sims, is still a union owned functionary. He cut's those who are not in a position to fight back effectively, the elderly, the small towns, while maintaining his friends in his union power base. He also continues to fund a useless County Foot Ferry from West Seattle to Downtown on the backs of all taxpayers in the County, benefiting only a few, the few from his old home district...strange how that works out isn't it?

Cameron

Posted Sun, Dec 25, 10:30 a.m. Inappropriate

Summary.

Same special interests directing the same plug and play politicians working on the same to-do lists designed to benefit the few while being underwritten by the many.

And so much for having an unbiased news instrument here in Paris on Puget Sound.

jmrolls

Posted Mon, Dec 26, 9:37 a.m. Inappropriate

The old-guard pundits and editorial writers around here still are trying to paint “Eyman” initiatives as legitimate threats to worthy social undertakings. Fortunately enough people now look behind the curtain. It’s obvious who really pulls the levers.

The voters’ rejection of I-1125 in November indeed was a good thing, but not for the reasons the author states. In my estimation a sufficient quorum of King County voters now recognizes the transportation-related initiatives branded with the name of “Eyman” in fact are Trojan Horses sponsored by the lawyers pushing Sound Transit’s excessive taxation schemes.

We’ve seen those clowns’ act too many times before: those initiatives’ advertisers make vague promises of “$30 tabs” and “less tolling”, and what results when those measures pass are just lawsuits that Sound Transit’s lawyers use to obtain more unwarranted case law from the dirty justices. The lawsuits that result from these deceptive ballot offerings just lead to excessive financial harm for people.

As for Kemper Freeman . . . he wants East Link built for his personal financial reasons. Everybody gets that, right? His properties in downtown Bellevue near those planned light rail stations would increase in value. He’s probably got plans to develop properties on Bel-Red Road near those planned stations, near the planned Overlake/Redmond stations, etc. He’s a fake-enemy of Sound Transit’s; none of his arguments against that local government or its plans stand up to scrutiny. That’s how the propaganda game is played – the media outlets only may refer, in dismissive tones, to the lame arguments the chosen “opponents” raise.

Anyone want to discuss what I-1125 actually said, and what it actually would have done? Contrary to how it is described in this piece, it said absolutely nothing "against . . . Sound Transit".

Maybe somebody wants to argue that Freeman is a legitimate opponent of Sound Transit . . . that would be a great topic to discuss. We could address what happened in the "Freeman v. Gregoire" lawsuit that wrapped up last April, what the ST2 Voters Guide statement he signed said, what I-1125 actually said, all of the quotes attributed to him published in the local media outlets, etc. He's a fake-enemy of that taxing district and its plans, and the public appears to be catching on.

crossrip

Posted Mon, Dec 26, 10:31 a.m. Inappropriate

Kudos to Danny Westneat and in your own shop to Pete Jackson's "midday scans"

Posted Mon, Dec 26, 10:32 a.m. Inappropriate

Re comments so far - conspiracy theories and cynicism abound.
Re the top 12 - no real argument, but it's a bit of a stretch to imagine a re-cast GOP. The next election might give us an early answer, but I won't be taking a chance with my vote.
Yes on Westneat; I can't count the times it's been worth passing him on. Usually a don't miss column.
I like the South Lake Union changes, but still lament that it could have been so much more but for the cynical class warfare campaign against a visionary park in the center of it all.
Good luck, David, on holding the grumps at bay for even a week. They're at work 24/7.

Posted Mon, Dec 26, 10:43 a.m. Inappropriate

The fight to stop the bored tunnel isn't over. Seattle's obese and limp-wristed know-it-all faux-progressives simply prefer to ignore the permanently unavoidable, unrepairable damage to dozens of downtown towers. Even the high potential for catastrophic collapse in an earthquake is to be ignored.
Crosscut is a rightwing rag stained with oil and blood.

Wells

Posted Mon, Dec 26, 6:03 p.m. Inappropriate

Am I the only one who finds it odd that editor selects a comment as an "editor's pick" when the editor wrote the story?

jd8686

Posted Tue, Dec 27, 5:57 a.m. Inappropriate

That wouldn't be the same Mike James who ran for Senate as a Democrat in 1994 would it? That explain's the Editor's pick, which could just as easily be renamed the echo chamber award.

Cameron

Posted Fri, Dec 30, 1:36 p.m. Inappropriate

Finishing off the Viaduct argument might save Mayor McGinn's skin? Oh, please, think again. When we have an SPD that is spinning out of control and Mayor M almost dissed the report from the Department of Justice? When he refuses to demand terminations starting at the top of this group of licensed muggers?
As long as our police department is dysfunctional (and the report indicates that the dysfunction is no longer race-based - we're ALL getting bashed in the head and taken down now) the mayor is persona non grata to me.

lorie916

Posted Mon, Jan 2, 8:41 p.m. Inappropriate

Here's something else good that happened in 2012: two of the ineffective members of the Seattle School Board were replaced by people who appear interested in doing the job. That's certainly a positive.

Also, I think people should start paying attention to the spirit of entreprenuerism that I see all around the city. A great idea for a business can come to you in a dream and when you wake up in the morning you can go online to get your UBI, your state and city business license, your tax id number, and register your domain name. You can be at the bank when they open at 9:00 to establish your business bank account, come back home, build your web site, and be selling product by 4:00. It's not hard for anyone and everyone to have their own business. Only in this past year have a critical mass of people not only discovered how cheap, quick, and easy it is, they have actually DONE it.

coolpapa

Posted Mon, Jan 2, 9:14 p.m. Inappropriate

I'm sorry your feelings are hurt, Cameron. Unintended. Other people, living and working here, have views different from your own. It's normal. Get over it.

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