Mayoral race goes prime time
Incumbent Mike McGinn and challenger Ed Murray squared off in a KING5 debate this afternoon, which will air at 7 p.m. tonight. Looking at Twitter feeds (#SeaMayor), we'd say this showdown will at least feature a bit more clarity. Murray is going after the mayor on police and public safety. McGinn is raising questions about a number of decisions by the Legislature (on school funding, for example), where Murray has long served. Crosscut's Bill Lucia is at the debate and will have a full story later today.
Oil and coal exports
The state Shoreline Hearings Board plans to cancel permits for two oil-shipment terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor and require more extensive environmental studies, according to Associated Press. Both proposals involved bringing the oil. by rail, from North Dakota or Alberta. The board agreed with the Sierra Club, the Quinalt Indian Nation and others that the cumulative effects of a series of oil terminals need to be studied. The decision came on the same day the environmental nonprofit Sightline published a rather startling review of how trains carrying oil and coal for export would disrupt rail crossings along the Columbia River, and create safety risks at some relatively unguarded crossings. A hearing (in Vancouver) on the proposed coal-export facility at Longview concludes tonight. The author of the Sightline assessment, Eric de Place, said he wasn't familiar enough with the Grays Harbor ruling to comment on it specifically, but that in general the oil and coal-export facilities have cumulative impacts that need to be studied, including the economic downsides of big traffic disruptions. — J.C.
Bringing science into 522 debate
The Washington State Academy of Science released a "white paper" evaluating the implications of passing I-522. The report, commissioned by state lawmakers with no funding from either campaign, provides definitions and outlines what we know, and don't know, about how the new law would affect food cost and safety.
"GM plants and animals are 'substantially equivalent' to their non-GM counterparts," says the report. Nothing new there. But the report also notes that our knowledge of the long-term safety of GMOs is limited ("Continued surveillance of food safety, including long-term health effects, is warranted for both GM and non-GM containing foods.") and that potential increases in food prices could affect both GMO and non-GMO foods. “The greatest costs are not in the labeling itself," says the report, "but in the segregation and demonstration of GM-free status, costs that would affect the price of both GM and non-GM containing foods."
In the midst of loud, questionable claims by both sides in the GMO debate, a little science may go a long way. The full report is available here. — E.M.
If your car gets towed in Seattle — and the city's exquisite variety of tow-eligible parking zones threatens everybody — it's critical that the lot storing your vehicle be close to transit. As Publicola reported this week, that isn't the case in the South End, where the storage lot (10140 W. Marginal Place S.) is in — Tukwila. That location didn't even meet city specifications for reasonable transit access. In the north end, the main lot is on Aurora Avenue North, one of the areas better servived by Metro buses. The city, observes Publicola's Morning Fizz, is "yet again, favoring North End residents over South End residents." Graduate student research paper: How many unanimously approved city policies, executive orders and pious political speeches about equity are being fragantly violated? — J.C.
Colbert gets a talking to
Comedian Stephen Colbert delivered some stark truthiness about Seattle and marijuana. Seattle Police Department blogger Jonah Spangenthal-Lee, author of a celebrated guide to the new legal situation for marijuana, has posted an open letter to "Mr. Colbert and the Colbert Nation." The tonuge-in-cheek letter (well worth a read) acknowledges the Colbert segment and then says, "Unfortunately, this segment was rife with errors—understandable given that your program airs during a late evening hour, typically the domain of infomercial watchers, graffiti vandals and car prowlers." Colbert accused the PD of failing to address pot's effects on short term memory. That isn't taken lying down, as Spangenthal-Lee responds: "We simply cannot remember a time we were more incensed by such a blatant mischaracterization ..."
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