The Daily Troll: Tunnel machine reaches Seattle. Midnight march for transit. Coal trains face lawsuit.

The Sierra Club says the existing coal trains are already violating pollution laws.

By Joe Copeland

April 02, 2013.

Real Change: Real price increase

It's the last day to buy the excellent Real Change weekly for a $1. Beginning with the Wednesday issue, Real Change goes up to $2. In the press release announcing the change, Publisher Tim Harris said, "When you need to sell three papers to net enough money for a cup of coffee, it's definitely time for a raise." Real Change itself will get an extra quarter per paper (60 cents), which will help it expand into east King County and Kitsap County. You grow, Real Change.

Tunneling machine

The huge machine that will bore the waterfront tunnel is arriving in Seattle after a two-week journey from Japan. Last year, Washington State's Department of Transportation held a contest to nickname the world's largest diameter tunneling machine. The winner was "Bertha." Does that mean we have someone to blame by name — other than, say, DOT Secretary Lynn Pedersen — if things go wrong in digging the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct? We'll see. For now, Bertha is here and, like the Mariners after one game, she boasts an unblemished record. 

Coal dust lawsuit

The Sierra Club and other groups today said they plan to sue over the coal dust escaping from existing rail shipments for export to Asia. As The Oregonian notes, the planned suit against BNSF and six coal companies could play a big role in corporate efforts to greatly expand exports to China with new ports pending near Bellingham, Longview and Boardman, Oregon.

The environmental group said it had found significant amounts of coal dust along the tracks at nine Columbia River points. The Sierra Clob notified coal shippers of its plans to sue under the Clean Water Act (for polluting without a permit). A BNSF spokeswoman told The Oregonian that the allegations are hearsay so far. but that it would be prepared to conduct its own tests if it receives a formal complaint.

Women in Congress

In a visit with Crosscut writers and editors today, U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene noted that the percentage of women in Congress has reached its highest point its history. That would be 18 percent, which DelBene doesn't consider a final goal. Washington has "certainly done its part," she allowed: Five of the 12 our Senate and House members are women. DelBene said she has met briefly with the two Republican women in the state's House delegation, Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Jaime Herrera Beutler. She noted that McMorris Rodgers is very busy with Republican leadership duties. Crosscut's Floyd McKay will be writing a report shortly.

Social media privacy

A state House committee chair has proposed a change that could dilute proposed protections of employees from any social media intrusions by their bosses. Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia:

Employers would be able to request passwords and other access information from an employee's or job seeker's social media accounts in response if a specific reason materializes, according to a proposed change to a Senate bill intended to forbid employer-related Facebook snooping. The proposed change does not precisely define the parameters of such a specific reason. Committee chairman Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, brought up the change Tuesday in the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. The committee will discuss that change Wednesday.

The Senate earlier unanimously passed the bill by Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, which would forbid employers from obtaining passwords to an employee' or job seeker's social media account. Currently, state law does not prevent employers from doing so. In its present form, the Senate bill would allow employers to view an employee's or job seeker's social media accounts if they are already open to the public or if government regulatory issues require access to private settings.

Bellevue City Manager out

Bellevue’s city manager, Steve Sarkozy, is resigning, The Seattle Times reported this afternoon. There was no immediate explanation.

Bellevue Youth Theatre

The Bellevue Youth Theatre Foundation today held a groundbreaking for construction of a 150-seat theater that will be near the Crossroads Community Center. The building is expected to open in late 2014. Part of the money comes from a 2008 parks and natural areas levy, according to the city. The foundation, which currently presents 10 productions a year, says the new facility will allow it to improve its offerings in a variety of ways, including workshops, summer camps and additional opportunities for young people with disabilities.

March for Metro

A bus riders' advocacy group plans a "midnight march" to Magnolia. The group is urging state legislators to renew Metro Transit's ability to finance existing bus service. An article on Seattle Transit Blog explains that, contrary to perception, well-to-do Magnolia has low-income, elderly, disabled and other residents who are dependent on bus service. And if people in Magnolia are affected, the impact of a potential 17 percent cut in service would be felt all around King County.

The march, which will begin at 11 p.m. on Saturday, goes across the Magnolia Bridge late at night, just as stranded riders will have to do if nighttime service cuts go into effect. Details on the march are here.

No kayak zone

With North Korea escalating its threats of war, the Pentagon is moving ships closer to the N. Korea coast. A Boeing-built SBX-1 floating radar ship is part of the fleet. That's the vessel with what looks like a giant golf ball on top. It was in Elliiott bay for several months during 2011. Here's a look from more peaceful times. Note to North Koreans: Kayaking nearby is not recommended at this time.

This is the 100th edition of the Daily Troll, your made-for-the-evening-commute summaries of the news. Still fresh after all these ... months. You can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

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

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Printed on January 30, 2015