Art work by Noel Franklin
Tax breaks for tech
Seattle Times tech columnist Brier Dudley showed courage with a hard-hitting, detailed article this morning on the tax breaks received by the big tech companies here — and how they want even more. Including major state improvements in education. He notes that just-departed Gov. Chris Gregoire had proposed $248 million in new taxes on beer, gasoline and other businesses to meet the educational needs. Tech firms, though, would be exempted from the new taxes. And while other new breaks are being proposed for tech firms on top of existing ones, Dudley notes an existing one saved Microsoft and others almost the exact amount Gregoire suggested in new taxes for the rest of the state.
Iran imprisons Idahoan
Iran has sentenced a pastor from Boise to eight years in the notorious Evin prison, according to Northwest Cable News and other reports. Saeed Abedini has made repeated trips to Iran, his homeland, but agreed several years ago to give up religious missionary activity and was on a humanitarian mission, building an orphanage, according to NWCN. A CNN blog says that a conservative religious advocacy group (funded by televangelist Pat Robertson) has reported that the judge in the case has faced European Union sanctions for his harsh sentences in some rights cases. The State Department says it is seeking Abedini's release.
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn is already talking up another gun buyback. No wonder: The one over the weekend produced long lines and led to more than 700 weapons being turned in. As seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly notes, the Seattle-King County event also produced a vivid (some might say pornographic) illustration of the state and federal failure to close the gun-show loophole. Private gun dealers lined the street, hoping to scoop up any weapons that missed the buyout. It turns out that buying and selling weapons on a street corner is perfectly legal.
McGinn said at a press conference today that it's up to the state Legislature or Congress to close the unregulated, unregistered sale of guns: “We can’t regulate, at the city or county level, the private sale of guns with no background checks whatsoever.” Connelly also notes that, while more money would be needed to launch another buyback event, King County Sheriff John Urquhart and the Seattle Police Department will pick up guns people wish to dispose of.
Guns in use
Of course, the gun buyback wasn't designed to stop all gun violence, and a shooting the next day had police and the public in danger. A man and a woman suffered gunshot injuries and the gunman wound up dead in the Sunday night incident at the Central District's Twilight Exit, described as a popular bar. The Stranger's fashion columnist, Marti Jonjak, happened to be there and this morning she wrote a brief, gripping account. She recounted that she was next to the gunman's target, "a really beautiful young woman," as the trouble unfolded. Reports indicate that the gunman died when shot by police after firing at arriving officers. The woman, who was a customer, and a bouncer who tried to help are expected to survive, according to a Seattle Police Department statement.
The smart money seems to be on the Legislature and Gov. Jay Inslee taking a year to assemble a transportation funding package to submit to voters statewide. As a Seattle Transit Blog report this morning shows, however, transit supporters aren't waiting until then to advocate for efficiency and the environment as serious considerations during the development of a new plan. The blog's Ben Schiendelman says that 31 agencies statewide have united to demand at least $400 million for transit or 25 percent of whatever funding request the Legislature puts before voters. He writes of the $400 million:
That’s the level that will shore up Pierce Transit, keep Metro from having to make huge cuts, and even assist Sound Transit a tiny bit in implementing light rail. As part of a statewide package, direct funding would avoid fighting every local battle individually, and provide a rock for the next economic crisis.
Given that voters in the Puget Sound area won't approve a measure that focuses entirely on roads and transit, even the most highway-oriented legislators may want to pay attention.
Habitat for Humanity
After last week's unfortunate news from an annual count that more people seem to be homeless locally, here's a good reminder that a lot of efforts continue to make a real difference for many people. This video of a Habitat for Humanity home dedication was posted Sunday.
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