Art work by Noel Franklin
Champagne, M. & Mme Mastro?
A French court has apparently decided that bankrupt Washington real-estate mogul Michael Mastro and his wife, Linda, can stay in France outside the reach of U.S. law. Their attorney gave The Seattle Times a statement that the court decided they are too old (he's 87) and unwell to face prison. The couple faces a 47-count indictment for alleged bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. His unsecured debts, as The Times' Eric Pryne notes, have been estimated at $250 million — or a quarter billion dollars. She just lost an attempt to get U.S. courts to return two rings worth $1.4 million. But, hey, life in tolerant France beats the pokey.
The chief of the FAA and Boeing officials met today (Boeing says it is "encouraged," according to Reuters) to review the company's proposals for an early fix on the 787 battery problems. Congressional officials put out word that Boeing's plan would be a "permanent" fix. There's reason to doubt that FAA boss Michael Huerta will be giving any early acceptance, particularly when, as a New York Times story notes, the problems' causes aren't all clear. Bigger picture: Will Huerta or airline passengers quickly forget the harsh words from the National Transportation Safety Board about the handling of battery and electrical systems for the plane?
Two problems loom for local travelers this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday the state will halt through traffic in both directions on Highway 99 as part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. Construction crews are starting work on an old, elevated section of 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge. The closures will allow northbound travel on 99 from West Seattle to downtown. Details on timing here; a map with detour routes is here.
Then there are all the big weather issues. The wind brought state Department of Transportation cautions late this morning about severe sidewinds on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the National Weather Service has posted winter storm warnings for the Cascades through early Saturday. Just last weekend, UW's Cliff Mass complained on his weather blog about "boring" winter weather. But by mid-week, he was changing his tune, saying he "knew it was a mistake" to complain about boring. Apology accepted. Unless the lights go out or something.
Hanford tanks leaking
Gov. Jay Inslee said this afternoon that six tanks are now leaking radioactive-contaminated wastes at Hanford. Crosscut's John Stang will post a report shortly. (His report on the first revelations of new problems and his in-depth reporting on nuclear-waste issues can be found on our Hanford page.)
Solving Mercer Island's tolling problem
Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia:
Two bills are in play to figure out which way in and out of Mercer island should be toll-free if tolls are set for the I-90 bridge. Right now, a toll on the I-90 passage across Lake Washington — which includes Mercer Island — has been mentioned as a way to deal with increasing costs on replacing the State Route 520 floating bridge across the same lake.
Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island and chairwoman of the Washington House Transportation Committee, introduced a bill Wednesday that calls for studying whether the eastside or westside bridge connecting Mercer Island to the mainland should be toll-free so islanders can commute to work and for errands. Meanwhile, Sens. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, and Rodney Tom, D-Medina, introduced a similar bill Friday in the Senate. A public hearing on Litzow and Tom's bill is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the John A. Cherberg Buiding in Olympia.
Arena wins jump ball
(Updated at 3:22 p.m.) A King County Superior Court judge ruled this afternoon in favor of King County and Seattle on a challenge that could have forced them to start over on decisions about a pro sports arena in the SoDo area. The Longshoreman's union argued that the environmental review has to start with a study of possible sites, not focus on one.
In a statement, Mayor Mike McGinn said, “This is a big win in our work to bring the Sonics home to Seattle."
There are still many more hurdles (Sacramento, chiefly). But maybe Chris Hansen and his investment group can now think about inviting this Mississippi college cheerleader to make an early appearance at a men's NBA game in Seattle. Of course, the WNBA Storm would be able to host her a lot sooner.
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