Midday Scan: Horsey looks back; Connelly critiques Obama on environment; tolls, tolls, tolls

David Horsey digs out some classic cartoons of three "revolutions" in the 1980s. What mistakes lie ahead with the start of tolling on the 520 bridge?

Highway 520 across Lake Washington

Highway 520 across Lake Washington WSDOT

David Horsey, Seattle's spectacular living journalism institution, is counting down the days until his Dec. 31 departure from the Seattlepi.com (for The Los Angeles Times) with a look back at cartoons from a career that dates back to the 1980s. The two-time Pulitzer Prize winner focuses on what he calls "three revolutions in the 1980s that ushered out a world order that had existed since the late 1940s."

He presents and discusses cartoons depicting the Reagan era, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of Islamic fundamentalism. It's a rich review of his wit, intellectual strength, and passion for decency in public affairs. Next up, Horsey promises, a look at the Bill Clinton era, wherein Horsey drew hilariously and sometimes ribaldly — while reputedly only once going so far as to earn a suggested revision from his editor — about the fruits of free-range human passion. 

Also at Seattlepi.com, Joel Connelly writes with particular insight into President Barack Obama's on-again, off-again devotion to protecting the environment. As he notes, as soon as Obama acts to protect the environment in one area, such as mercury emissions, he can be counted on to do something counteractive. Like issuing exploratory drilling permits to Shell Oil in Alaska's Chukchi Sea.

Somewhat surprisingly (for a columnist who often finds activists too rude or demanding), Connelly looks approvingly at the raise-hell tactics of demonstrators who got the White House to slow or change course on what had seemed like a determined march to approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, planned to carry Alberta tar sands oil.

Here come the tolls on the Highway 520 floating bridge, and The Seattle Times' Mike Lindblom has an excellent look at what lies ahead in terms of traffic, costs, and technology. Scheduled to begin Thursday (Dec. 29), as he writes, the tolling system is viewed as the most complicated in the nation, with implications for tolling systems around the country. Being that complicated, some early problems are to be expected, according to an expert. Major problems? Depends on whether you are a victim of, say, erroneous billing.

In The News Tribune of Tacoma, there's also a tolling story, but this is about the state finally achieving a profit on its hot-lane tolling of Highway 167. As Jordan Schrader reports, however, some of that is because the state has changed some accounting practices, shifting some costs for toll operations to the 520 project in advance of actually tolling there. "Some state lawmakers remain skeptical. Sen. Joe Fain, an Auburn Republican, said the department hasn’t yet shown it can recoup the construction costs of the toll lanes."

Finally, in a sign of the continuing troubles for newspapers, some top-notch veterans are leaving The Herald of Everett because of buyouts. These include columnists Mike Benbow (business) and Kristi O'Harran (general). Benbow delivers a thank you to readers, while O'Harran has a humorous rummage through her notes, digging out column ideas she never quite got around to writing.

Links summary

Seattlepi.com, "Witness to three decades of revolutionary change"

Seattlepi.com, "On the environment, a 'good' Obama and a 'bad' Obama"

The Seattle Times, "520 bridge tolling ready to roll"

The News Tribune, "Tolls on SR 167 profitable"

The Herald of Everett, "I've got one final thing to say: Thank you" and "During a long career at The Herald, some stories left untold"

Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.


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