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The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute

In Crosscut's inaugural afternoon news round-up, Seattle eyes election hold-ups, bunched-up buses and a wall of coal trains.
The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute. Art work by Noel Franklin

Here come the elections. And the wait for results. And the arguments about whether there is a simple fix to the delays in Washington’s results.

As Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center wrote on Crosscut, one possibility would be to change the deadline to require people to get their ballots into the hands of election officials no later than election night — as opposed to the current requirement that ballots merely be postmarked by election day. On The Slog today, Goldy (David Goldstein) writes that the delays occur largely because counties, specifically King, don’t make it a priority to spend on extra shifts of workers to count ballots quickly. He cites some strong evidence from research he did a few years ago, which compared the timing of ballot returns in Oregon (which has the Tuesday return requirement). His research showed that most ballots in King County and Oregon arrived at the elections office around the same time.

Outgoing Secretary of State Sam Reed, though, has had other experience. As it is, he says, many ballots don't arrive until Thursday, meaning that signature checking doesn't begin until the end of the week. But he said that organizing county elections offices to gear up, including the "not very expensive" hiring of temporaries, can make a difference.

So far, Washington's experimentations with initial electronic screening of signatures for validity hasn't gone very well, Reed said, but Oregon has apparently had better results.

While the elections had everyone’s attention, Mayor Mike McGinn released a study this afternoon about the effects on Seattle traffic of the lengthy coal trains that would run through the city — not to mention numerous other cities, including Edmonds and Bellingham — if a coal port is built north of Bellingham. The study focused on the effects that 10 to 18 additional trains, each likely more than a mile long, would have on intersections along the waterfront and in the SoDo district. Most of the traffic would involve shipments of coal to China. 

The findings look bleak. In a press statement, McGinn said, “This study suggests that 18 coal trains per day, each one more than a mile long, could create a wall between our waterfront and our maritime and industrial businesses. The public and policymakers need to take a close look at these findings as we examine the proposal to export more coal.” 

A hearing in Seattle on Nov. 13 is part of series of opportunities for public comment; one hearing will be in Mount Vernon this afternoon.

The news out of a military evidentiary hearing at Joint Base Lewis McChord today is grim and bizarre. The hearing involves Staff Sgt. Robert Bales, who is accused of murdering 16 civilians. A corporal testified that when Bales was taken into custody he kept saying, "I thought I was doing the right thing." Both The News Tribune and The Seattle Times are posting running accounts.

On a much brighter note, in two different ceremonies, Seattle City Council and the Prosperity Partnership both honored outgoing U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks for his long years of service to the region. At a council meeting, Council President Sally Clark commended him for his work on behalf of the average wage earner, Boeing and the military during his 44-year run as a congressman and congressional staffer (along with his background as a UW Husky football player).

Clark said the city always liked to think of Dicks as one of its own, even if he represented South Sound areas. One oddity: Dicks thanked the council for his first chance to address the group. Come back in another 44 years, though, and they will be glad to host you again, right, Congressman?

Speaking of first-in-40-year events, Times' sportswriter Bud Withers had a compelling weekend column about volatile Washington State football coach Mike Leach, who paraded his linemen out for postgame humiliation in front of reporters after Saturday's Utah defeat. "In four decades of covering the conference, I've never seen anything like it," Withers said. Question: Would WSU allow any of its other employees to treat students that way? In tomorrow's Crosscut, Art Thiel will offer his perspective. 


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Nov 5, 4:39 p.m. Inappropriate

Joel,

Just a technical issue raised by my brother, an Amtrak employee and a train geek who spent his childhood hanging around the Delta Yard in Everett.

Sidings, where trains pull over so other trains can pass, are generally about a mile long - 5280 feet. As a result, REALLY long trains are usually under 5000 feet.

Just saying.

Ross Kane
Warm Beach

Ross

Posted Tue, Nov 6, 7:40 a.m. Inappropriate

Hi Ross,
I'm sure your brother is right about siding length. But the coal trains' length has been infuriating mountain West and even North Central communities for years. I used to find the common description of them as more than a mile long hard to imagine. But I've tried to judge when traveling in those areas, and it certainly seemed right. The study says 7,000 feet in total length. But you've got me curious again about how that fits with sidings. Maybe there are longer sidings in more open parts of the country? Maybe changes in sidings would be planned here?
Thanks,
Joe

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