The Daily Troll: State of Downtown. Suburbs growing up. Rodney Tom bashes Seattle again.

Why can't we be more like Vancouver? A legislative move to nullify Seattle's sick leave law. Our beaches make us tough.

By Joe Copeland

February 13, 2013.

Local cities keep growing up

The Suburban Cities Association today rebranded itself as the Sound Cities Association. The group, which represents King County cities under 150,000 in population, said the new name reflects "a different stage" for them. The group claims they have become a more important part of a single region, not just outlying bedroom communities.

We got a kick out of this: The press release quoted frequent Crosscut writer Mark Hinshaw“The notion of a 'suburb' is history. Diversity, greater density, more shopping and transportation choices are all part of the new identities of the communities around Seattle." So, do we call them "ring cities"?

A Vancouver-inspired downtown Seattle

With Mayor Mike McGinn getting ready to deliver his state of the city speech on Tuesday, business leaders gathered for the annual State of Downtown Economic Forum. Crosscut Publisher Greg Shaw provides these highlights:

Seattle’s downtown merchants and leaders envision a “New Urban,” and they invited the loyal opposition in Vancouver, B.C., to show them how to get there. This morning’s 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum at the Westin drew nearly 1,000 leaders, including plenty of mayoral candidates.

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s consulting city planner and urbanist, presented a friendly and frankly inspiring talk about the road his leadership took to become one of the most liveable cities in the world. He laid down the gauntlet by presenting all the metrics by which Vancouver ranks first, including one that ruffled a few feathers — best coffee city. “Competition between cities is good,” he chuckled.

Density done right, Toderian argued, addresses a range of pressing city issues: housing affordability, rising costs for energy, climate change, an aging population, public health and civic engagement.

Vancouver’s goal is to be the greenest city and one of the most family-friendly. To get there, they've emphasized land use and smart transportation design — what he called “the power of nearness.”

In her annual address on the state of downtown, Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Kate Joncas pointed  out that Seattle has more apartment and condo units under construction than any other metro area outside of Houston. Her number-filled and often humorous talk focused on how downtown must become more child-friendly. There are already 3,000 kids living in downtown’s three square miles. She argued for a new downtown public school. Schools and day care have been instrumental in Vancouver’s downtown success.

One city councilman said after the gathering that Vancouver’s story is a little rosy and largely the result of Asian investment. He also pointed out that the central control Vancouver imposes may not go over so well in Seattle.

Roach home free

A Senate committee today released documents related to an investigation of misbehavior toward staff and colleagues by Sen. Pam Roach. As Crosscut's John Stang reported last night, a closed Senate committee decided against any sanctions for verbally abusing a staff member last March. Stang updates the situation:

Roach, R-Auburn, declined to comment today about Tuesday's conclusion of an investigation of her treatment of staff members. She said she might publicly discuss the issue "in a couple days." The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee unanimously decided Tuesday to close the investigation, with no sanctions to be levied.

The committee publicly released today a Dec. 17 draft report and a final Jan. 15 report into three incidents involving Roach, which contain no new significant revelations beyond what has already been reported. No blame was assigned in two incidents, one involving inadvertent contact with a staff member during a period when such contact was forbidden and another involved a politically-oriented, but not personal, shouting match with another senator during a meeting. She was found to blame for verbally abusing a staff member last March, with no sanctions levied. However, her behavior has led to upgrades in the Senate's respect-in-the-workplace policies. 

Roach had been banned from the Republican Caucus in 2010, her staff privileges denied because of verbally abusing staff members. Her access to staff was recently reinstated because Roach was needed to give a 23-Republican-two-Democrat alliance a one-vote majority in the Senate. 

No sick leave for you, Seattle!

Senate Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, has signed on as a co-sponsor to two bills to gut sick leave protections passed by Seattle and prevent any other cities from requiring companies to provide paid sick leave. SB 5728 would exclude any localities from acting on sick leave and put any decisions into the hands of the state Legislature. SB 5726, dubbed by opponents as the "Burger King Exemption Bill," would say that no city could apply a sick leave measure to a corporation headquartered outside the city.

Really, Senators? Locally owned businesses would still be required to foot sick-day bills, but Tom (who has been accused of Seattle bashing) and his Republican pals would protect mega-corporations from the whims of the big bad city. The prime sponsor on both bills is Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.

Washington is No. 1. Or close.

A Tacoma-based website, Camp666, has rolled out an amply documented (well, some photographs are included) posting on "a few things that make Washington one of the most superior states in the union."

The first reason, according to writer Joe Korbuszewski: "If you've been to one beach in the US, you've been to them all. Warm sand, sunshine, girls in bikinis, boardwalks and blah blah blah. In Washington, our beaches are made of rocks because sand is for sissies. Our freezing waters, howling winds and constant rain force our women to wear at least three layers."

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

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Printed on January 29, 2015