Art work by Noel Franklin
Microsoft bribery probe
The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission attorneys are examining allegations of bribery in China, Italy and Romania involving representatives of Microsoft. The report (it's behind a paywall) says that Microsoft conducted a 10-month look at the China allegations in 2010, but didn't find wrongdoing.
A report released this morning shows sharp (and embarrassing) differences between treatment of some Sea-Tac International workers and their counterparts in four other major West Coast airports. The report from Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit, shows Sea-Tac baggage handling, cabin cleaning and wheelchair service workers making as little as $9.19 per hour, $3 to $6 per hour below workers at Los Angeles Airport and the three major Bay Area airports. And the Sea-Tac workers (employed by a private contractor) don't have the paid sick leave and health-insurance incentives found elsewhere.
All of the California airports have standards for worker treatment. A spokeswoman for Puget Sound Sage said that a variety of jurisdictions, including the Port of Seattle, could institute requirements for better pay and working conditions. But the report's title, "Under the Radar," gets to one key point: Nobody has paid much attention to the fact that Seattle could do better — for employees, for the people who use the airport and for a regional economy that needs more living-wage jobs. (We've uploaded the pdf version of the report here.)
Metro: Where's the new bus?
Metro Transit will delay the scheduled September start of the final two of six RapidRide bus lines. Shoreline-Downtown Seattle service on the new Line E will begin in February, and Line F (linking Burien, Tukwila, Southcenter and Renton) will launch in June. Metro blamed the delays on a variety of factors, including the need to install new fare-card reading equipment and coordinated traffic signals.
In a press release, Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said the agency had "learned clear lessons" from troubles starting its RapidRide services to Ballard and West Seattle. The statement also said the delay will mean Metro is "better able to provide the speed and reliability riders expect." Speed? The Ballard line is still waiting on that. But it is tops in ridership among the four lines.
Food stamp challenge
Beginning Monday, United Way of King County wil hold its annual Hunger Action Week, which includes a food stamp challenge. Among those willing to go Monday through Saturday on $7 of food per day are, we hear, Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine will take part. Their offices just confirmed. Maybe McGinn will get a Cory Booker-like lift for his popularity. Also taking part are the chairs of United Way's annual campaign, Dan and Annie Wilson. For a family of four, the allotment goes to $22 of food daily.
If you're feeling adventurous and committed, here's a small bit of encouragement: The tip sheet actually has a few healthy, tasty-looking recipes (lunch: quinoa with salsa, dinner: rosemary lemon chicken). There are more details and sign-up information here.
City Council budget chair Tim Burgess has asked for an audit of the Seattle Department of Transportation's management of capital fund balances and its construction program. He pointed to unused money from construction bond sales, pointing to fund balances of $112 million in 2011 and $64 million in 2012. Burgess also expressed concern about a proposal for issuing more debt. Is this a sign that transportation will become a hot issue in the crowded field for mayor, which includes McGinn and Burgess?
A job market for Hasselbeck
The Indianapolis Colts signed former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck this morning as a backup to young phenom Andrew Luck. After being cut by the Tennessee Titans, Hasselbeck's unemployment didn't last 24 hours.
Prof goes dominant paradigm
A University of Oregon group, Students Against Imperialism, was holding a demonstration last week when a University of Oregon adjunct law teacher happened by. In true professorial form, he decided to ... lecture ... them in rather provocative terms. Then he decided to snatch the cell phone camera of one of the students. The Oregonian reports the U of O relieved him of his teaching duties; police said he would be charged with theft for taking the camera.
The group focuses its energy on Palestinian and immigrant rights. In the video, the professor, James L. Olmsted, seems to take particular offense at the immigrant issue and the whole questioning of imperialism. "I am the dominant paradigm," he proclaims. At least as far as his teaching duties go, that's apparently subject to revision.
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