Food stamp anxiety
Congressional proposals to cut food stamps are worrying families and social services providers in the state — and the media are starting to pay attention. Herald writer Sharon Salyer talks today to a woman with four adopted kids who moved to Snohomish after her husband, a minister, lost his position with an Oregon church just a few months after buying a new home. "When we lost everything, the one thing I knew is that I could feed my kids," Krista Nichols said.
A church-going family with four adopted kids may not be entirely typical, but it's probably closer to representative of the real needs than the "surfer dude' on food stamps profiled by Fox in two segments fueling the Republican drive to cut food stamps. And, no, food banks are not brimming with excess food to make up for any large cuts, providers tell The Herald. — J.C.
Strike approved by grocery workers
Members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union have authorized a strike against grocery chains in the Puget Sound region. The unions could begin striking against Albertson's, Safeway, Fred Meyer and QFC stores as early as Sunday, but it's not clear that action is imminent. A statement from UFCW 21 said the "ball is in the employer's court" and quoted a member of another local, UFCW 367: “We hope the employers come to their senses and make a fair proposal that respects me and my co-workers and our families. But if they force us to strike, we are ready."
"The important thing is that we get back to the bargaining table and do the hard work of putting a negotiated settlement together," a representative of the grocery stores told KOMO. Grocery strikes sometimes cause an entire chain or some locations to close, but KOMO noted that shortened hours could also be a possibility for consumers. What, you'd have to go to the convenience store if you suddenly wanted milk after TJ's, PCC Natural Markets and Whole Foods had closed? — J.C.
Council preps for budgetary sausage making
The gears started turning Thursday morning on the Seattle City Council’s two-month long budget writing process for 2014. During a morning meeting, staffers dished-out details on McGinn’s proposed budget.
Budget committee chair Tim Burgess questioned whether the city’s rainy day fund was adequate. "I can tell you we’re way below what is the norm for municipalities around the country,” he said. Rough roads were a focal point for councilmember Sally Bagshaw, who questioned why less than 10 percent of SDOT's budget was allocated for road maintenance. SDOT's budget would also include installation of 75 traffic sensors to improve downtown stoplight timing and traffic flow. If you want, dig into the nitty-gritty yourself using the city’s interactive budget book. — B.L.
Scofflaw boot-revenue bounty
Seattle has hauled-in $828,000 in parking ticket revenue so far in 2013, from “scofflaws” whose vehicles were “booted” by the Seattle Police Department, City Budget Office Director Beth Goldberg told the City Council on Tuesday. Under an ordinance the city adopted in 2011, scofflaws are defined as anyone with more than four outstanding parking tickets. The ordinance gave police the authority to immobilize scofflaw’s vehicles with a wheel-locking device — commonly known as a boot. Each month the SPD slaps boots on between 300 to 350 vehicles, Goldberg said, adding that the number of scofflaws has declined to 18,000 this year, from 20,000 in 2011. Parking-fine evaders busted with a boot have to pay $145 to free their car, plus the cost of their back-tickets. If you've got nothing else to worry about than your chances of being nailed for too many tickets, you can check-on your outstanding tickets on the Municipal Court of Seattle website. — B.L.
The Wall Street Journal's "Experts" blog this week is publishing four postings from the Washington Policy Center's Todd Myers this week. The articles attempt to go after myths on both sides of renewable energy questions. On the Seattle-based Center's site, Myers says he has gotten the most flak for one of his pieces arguing that solar lags just about any other source of power ("nuclear, wind and even coal with carbon capture") would do more to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And it's much more expensive, but its costs are hidden by subsidies. Myers writes a lot about energy and environmental topics. You don't have to agree with Myers on all of his conclusions — I certainly don't — but he's well worth following. — J.C.
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