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The Daily Troll: Inslee is governor. And WTF, WSF?

Trolling the web to bring you news for your evening commute. Today's scoop: McKenna concedes, a fail for Washington State Ferries, KOMO loses a great journalist and Seattle misses the mark on bikes.
The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

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

Update: 6:40 p.m.

New governor

Rob McKenna has conceded in the race for governor against Jay Inslee. Here's his recorded statement to his supporters.

Another fail for ferries

Washington State Ferries will likely be without the service of one of its ships for months. That's bad enough in a constantly stressed public transportation system. Worse, if an investigative report by KING 5's Susannah Frame is even close to correct, it's probably because of violating one of the most basic safety procedures in the books.

In a story first broadcast Thursday night and updated today, KING reports that it is lucky no one died when a surge of electricity entered a motor of the Walla Walla while it was undergoing maintenance at the ferry system's Bainbridge Island facility. The surge blasted apart a section of the motor and melted large chunks of steel and copper.

Sources told KING the cause of the accident is still under investigation, but that it could have been prevented if employees had followed a longstanding safety procedure known as the "lockout/tagout" (LOTO) process — a simple, well-known way to label and lock equipment during repair work. Do a web search for "LOTO process" or any of the other suggested terms the search engine brings up. This has been around for decades.

There is one acronym Washington State Ferries does usually get right: Its own. Perhaps some legislative oversight committee will hold a hearing on the issue: "WTF, WSF?"

A round of applause for broadcast news

Speaking of KING's report, let's talk about broadcast news for a minute, which doesn't get nearly the respect it deserves from print journalists. There are, in fact, scores of good journalists and many good broadcast news outlets, both TV and radio, around Puget Sound. 

A classy KING tweet today brought up an easily overlooked departure from the scene: KOMO's Bryan Johnson is retiring after 53 years. "Bryan is retiring today, and he leaves at the top of his game," says a KOMO tribute. It's no exaggeration, at least if watching him dig into an issue at city press conference a few months ago is any indication.

Rivers of sweat aren't for everyone

The city of Seattle is holding a series of public meetings to shape the update of its biking master plan, something it has been working on since the early part of the year.  There's a helpful op-ed today on The SunBreak that raises important points about the need for the city to make biking easier and more manageable for larger numbers of people — not just highly fit males. 

In urging the city to think much more broadly, Michael van Baker writes about surveys showing the percentage of women bicycling downtown has barely budged from 20 percent in the early 1990s:

In a city with as many outdoorsy women as Seattle boasts — trust me, REI membership is not 22 percent female — that’s not an accident. It’s a discriminatory by-product [of city transportation thinking].

His larger point:

In-city cycling doesn’t need to exceed 12 or 15 mph to get everyone where they need to go in a reasonable amount of time. It’s safer for all concerned, lets cyclists of all ages and experiential-stripes mingle, and everyone can arrive at their destination without trailing rivers of sweat if they don’t want to.

Van Baker goes on to suggest the city needs a lobby more dedicated to bicycling moms with kids and the like, rather than one overwhelmingly identified with the annual Seattle-to-Portland bike race (yes, he's taking a bit of a shot at the Cascade Bicycle Club here but also notes the value of much of their advocacy). Seattle Bike Blog is also covering the update.


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Comments:

Posted Fri, Nov 9, 9:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Joe- Let me take a minute to point out that WSF has an industry leading record for safety and vessel reliability. Out of every 1,000 trips scheduled, we complete, on average, 997. The thousands of trips of safe, reliable service accumulated by the WSF fleet stand as an example of service excellence. This record is unmatched in the transportation industry.

Out of all those trips, this is the first time an accident like this has happened here.
This is an unfortunate accident, but one which fails in any way to serve as a defining aspect of WSF operations. As bad and unfortunate as this incident is, it fails to compare in any way to the excellent record of service delivery that WSF employees have racked up.

That the news media fails to take note of this isn't nearly so much a sign of the level of performance at WSF as it is a sign of the shallow and shameful tendency of media outlets to highlight the exception and portray it as the norm. This is about as perfect an example of yellow journalism as you're likely to come across.

Next time you want to make your old journalism professors proud, try to dig a little and find the story behind the story. You are capable of better than what this article demonstrates. I'm sure of that.

Humbug

Posted Mon, Nov 12, 6:08 p.m. Inappropriate

Humbug, perhaps then the engine was sacrificed on purpose to make the valid points that we do not have spare boats or emergency parts/plans when something goes afoul.

WSF has been horribly mismanaged, by the Terrible Trio: WSF, State Legislators and WADOT.

Posted Sat, Nov 10, 6:58 a.m. Inappropriate

Clarification-WSF has a reliability rate of 99.7%. This means that we cancel 3 out of 1000 scheduled trips due to mechanical or electrical failure. WSF personnel have no control over weather, train traffic, etc. and so cancellations for those reasons are not included in this statistic.

Humbug

Posted Mon, Nov 12, 6:09 p.m. Inappropriate

... and seemingly no control on employees not showing up at work, or handling engine repairs correctly.

Posted Sun, Nov 11, 2:38 p.m. Inappropriate

Lock out tag out LOTO has only been around since 1990 or so. OSHA did not create anything new. I learned tagout in US Navy in 1973. I also saw the same system at Trojan nuclear plant. We did not use locks - did not need them the tag system was enforced by other operators in most cases and then by management.

These things do happen - people make mistakes. I have seen pump #1 being worked on and the LOTO was on #2.

Somebody made a mistake for sure. It was either a bad tagout or someone did not obey the rule.

Marine electrical is a complicated system and only those checked out and qualified on the system should touch it.

It is a matter of luck no one was hurt in this accident.

leitmotif

Posted Mon, Nov 12, 6:04 p.m. Inappropriate

Starting with Paula Hammond, and moving down the food chain to David Mosely and all the top administrators at WSF: fire them all.

And then privatize the system.

Posted Tue, Nov 13, 7:36 a.m. Inappropriate

I've lived here for many decades, routinely relied on Washington State Ferries, and never had a problem.

I have also owned boats and know that they are money pits that are full of problems.

It is news when there's an exception to the rule. Most reasonable people view these TV reports for what they are: cheap shots.

Jan

Posted Wed, Nov 14, 2:26 p.m. Inappropriate

You want everyone--and not just the athlete types--biking in Seattle? Then level its hills.

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