Supporters of Washington state's GMO-labeling campaign have had a pretty good go of things this summer, chugging along on the vocal support of local chefs (Maria Hines), food celebs (Who can say no to Ben & Jerry?) and Washington's reliably pro-locavore food community. But Monsanto just shook things up, donating nearly $5 million to the No on 522 campaign, which doubled the campaign's fundraising total.
In a statewide poll, 66 percent of Washingtonians say they planned to vote for GMO labeling this fall, SeattlePI.com's Joel Connelly reported today. But Monsanto's willingness to vomit cash all over anti-GMO labeling efforts means that 66 percent will likely drop. The Yes on 522 campaign's $3,340,748.48 seems suddenly less impressive. Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap has been the biggest Yes on 522 giver so far, with $950,000). Ben? Jerry? You out there? — B.A.
Change at Gates Foundation
Jeff Raikes announced today that he is leaving his position as CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He talked about a five-year stint when he discussed the job with the Gateses in May 2008. Apparently, he is a man of his word. Raikes will stay until the Foundation's next big step: naming a successor. Bill and Melinda have shown a preference for Microsoft people whom they like: Raikes and predecessor Patty Stonesifer. So, maybe a Microsofter with a passion for philanthropy, or a trusted executive from inside the Gates Foundation, or from PATH, its favorite global grantee? Then again, some head of state or world leader who transcends partisanship would be interesting. Hillary Clinton's name has surely come up. She's available. — J.C.
Sound Transit growth
A lot more people are jumping aboard Sound Transit's Central Link light-rail operation, according to Seattle Transit Blog. Weekday ridership leapt 14.2 percent in June compared to last year, and Link has been averaging 10.9 growth overall for the past 12 months (through July). Plus, ST buses between the Eastside and Seattle in June and July were 15 to 19 percent more crowded above in 2012. The stats won't make light-rail critics (who believe buses are a better investment than rail) rest any easier, but voters who approved ST projects can feel pretty good about the ridership growth on rail and bus routes. — J.C.
Spokane license plate reader
Pushing ever deeper into automated license plate tracking, Spokane is equipping two police cars with Automated License Plate Reader cameras, The Spokesman-Review reports. The American Civil Liberties Union has been seeking state legislation to limit how police use the devices and how long they store the data. Big Brother alert? Au contraire, says a police spokesman: “It’s like having a very mindful person that can just sit there and look at every single plate going by.” That sounds so conscientious and almost Buddhist, what with that "mindful" reference. Maybe this guy should help the National Security Agency come up with a similarly aw-shucks explanation for its apparently universal email and phone tracking. — J.C.
Explosive action scene downtown
For a few moments this afternoon, the intersection of James Street and Second Avenue looked more like an action movie set than a quiet block in downtown Seattle. A truck lost control and smashed into a parked car, which went hurtling through the air and into the side of a building. Then, it exploded, according to eyewitnesses. “When it hit, everything flew at us,” said bystander Dax Perrault. Luckily, said Kyle Moore, the Seattle Fire Department’s Public Information Officer, nobody was in the car. “We tore it apart and didn’t find anyone.” Perrault said he overheard the truck driver tell cops that his brakes failed. As firefighters pried apart the wrecked car, a man approached one patrolman to say that his minivan was parked in front of the smashed car and that the time on the parking meter was up. Relax, said the officer: “I don’t think anyone is coming by to check the meter right now.” — B.L.
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