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    The Daily Troll: Something's fishy with Northwest gas prices

    A new report undermines the supposed rationale for high West Coast gas prices. The city of Seattle is trying to protect its law on distributing commercial phone directories. And M's try to light up their fans.
    The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

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

    Oil refinery games?

    Remember how Northwest and West Coast gasoline prices were the highest in the nation earlier this year — supposedly because of problems that had put refineries off-line? As McClatchy first reported on Wednesday, a new study being presented to California's state Senate suggests the refineries were continuing to produce.

    U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., said today that she will call for a full investigation by the Department of Justice. A statement from her office quoted her as saying, “Washingtonians were hit hard this year by gas price spikes supposedly caused by supply disruptions. This report indicates that the gas price spike may have been caused by more than just supply and demand. We need a true cop-on-the-beat policing the vital oil market."

    More court time for phone books

    Seattle is sending back last month's court ruling that called Seattle's phone book ban a violation of freedom of speech.

    City Attorney Pete Holmes' office said today that it is asking the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for a re-hearing on a ruling that went against the measure, which is intended to reduce waste. A ruling from the court last month tossed out Seattle's law restricting the distribution of the Yellow Pages and similar directories. The court ruling held that the books were more than just commercial directories, and thus deserved full protection as a matter of free speech.

    The city could have appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, but it also had the much less frequently used option of trying to get a fuller review by the Circuit Court (which has 28 judges) of the decision last month from a three-judge panel. It's unusual for a court to grant such a review, but the city thinks the ruling was such a departure from established case law that it merits a fuller hearing.

    In a statement, Holmes' office cited part of its petition to the 9th Circuit: “The conclusion that Yellow Pages are not commercial speech is contrary to the long-standing law of the Supreme Court, this Court and sister circuits requiring that hybrid speech be regulated as commercial speech unless the two types of speech are actually ‘inextricably intertwined.’ ”

    This afternoon, Kimberly Mills, a spokeswoman for Holmes, said, "It is certainly no matter of course that we would get a rehearing. But we certainly think that [the case] cries out for it."

    Some 79,000 Seattle residents have already used the provisions of the city's new law to try to block deliveries of the directories. The commercial directory industry has suggested people use a program it has set up as another way to decline deliveries.

    Tent City dispute in Kirkland

    Kirkland Patch reports this afternoon on a dispute that has led to a split in the Tent City 4 camp, currently hosted at St. John Vianney Church on Finn Hill. The dispute apparently stems from an argument about whether to do random background and warrant checks on those staying at the camps, according to the report.

    A 35-year-old man at the camp was arrested earlier this month on charges of first-degree child rape. On-site leaders of the camp, working with the church, had reportedly agreed to random background checks but SHARE/Wheel, a Seattle-based group supporting the camps, objected. Some Tent 4 residents upset with SHARE's stance were being welcomed at another church, Lake Washington United Methodist. Kirkland Police told Johnston that the dispute appeared headed toward a peaceful resolution.

    Mariners want to light it up

    OK. So the Seattle Mariners weren't all that exciting much of the time last season. Or the past decade. But they apparently think we will really, really want to see more of them next year.

    The team announced today that it will install a state-of-the-art video-screen scoreboard in center field. The team's posting included this description: "The entire board can be used as a video screen to show live action or video replays, or split into sections for graphics, animation and statistical data. When the full board is used as a video screen, it measures nearly 57 feet in height by 201 1/2 feet in width, or 11,425 square feet." It will be more than a third larger than any other video screen in baseball and, the team noted, "just slightly smaller than the 11,520-square foot video screen at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas, which is the largest NFL stadium screen."

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    Posted Thu, Nov 15, 4:42 p.m. Inappropriate

    Here's another cool story: A whistleblower is going public with claims that Washington State is out more than $35 million in just the last three years after going easy on the rich and powerful.

    "Money that is properly owing and due to the state has been made to simply disappear...by Department of Revenue senior management...due to political influence," said State Tax Agent Dennis Redmon.



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