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    The Daily Troll: Burn bans expand. Seattle's loneliest bus stop. New Year's liquor prices.

    Wood smoke is no amenity in this weather. A bus stop that time, or Metro, forgot. Who is toasting higher liquor prices?

    Burn bans

    Environmental authorities this morning widened the burn bans issued earlier for Pierce and Snohomish counties. New stage 1 burn bans went out for five Indian reservations in the Puget Sound area (Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Stillaguamish and Tulalip) and Thurston County. In issuing the Thurston County ban, authorities also asked residents of Mason, Pacific, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Clallam counties to refrain from outdoor burning and use alternatives to wood heat if possible. With clear weather ahead, it's possible the restrictions will spread.

    Bus shelter blues

    Seattle Transit Blog told the tale over the weekend of Seattle's "loneliest bus shelter," a full shelter at Fourth and Wall in Belltown that only has two daily stops, in the middle of the night. The blog says Metro neglected to switch one night-owl run to Third Avenue when other routes along that stretch of Fourth were moved a block over last fall. But it will move the night-owl service soon, as well. The blog calls the situation "a hilarious oversight." True, but Metro did a rather remarkable job with other service changes, especially the rationalization of routes in Ballard. Yes, you can get to Fremont, aka Center of the Universe, from Ballard now.

    Center of news universe

    While most media outlets are pretty light on news today, The Herald in Everett published a couple of interesting pieces with statewide significance. First, Michelle Dunlop wrote about the challenges facing the state in just keeping aerospace jobs. She reports that incoming Gov. Jay Inslee will need to finish an overall aerospace jobs strategy that Gov. Chris Gregoire has started; should be alert to emerging competition for Boeing assembly work from many more states besides South Carolina; and may need to do fence-mending with Airbus, which buys many parts here but suffered some rather pointed remarks from Inslee while he was in Congress advocating for Boeing.

    Second, Bill Sheets took a New Year's Eve-appropriate look at liquor prices in the wake of Initiative 1183's privatization of liquor sales, which had been controlled through a state monopoly. He reports:

    The average price per liter of hard liquor after taxes statewide in October was $24.06, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue.

    This is down slightly from the first month of privatization in June, but still more than 10 percent higher than the $21.59 at state liquor stores in October 2011.

    As he notes, the initiative campaign stressed promises of lower prices from competition. But, alas, competition seems to be for the little guys trying to eke out small margins as retailers, not the distributors.With mission accomplished, the backers will probably be toasting themselves and their profits come midnight. And far beyond.

    New Year's fireworks

    The Space Needle will host its annual fireworks display. Want to get a head start or compare tonight's with Jan. 1, 2012? Here's a nice little video from the 2012 event that's accompanied with music (although it doesn't seem to kick in until shortly after the 1:30 minute mark).

    Happy New Year to all from Crosscut — and stay safe tonight!

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

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    Posted Thu, Jan 3, 12:12 p.m. Inappropriate

    To people who voted to privatize booze:
    You suckers.

    Steve E.

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