Closed. And we mean it!
Taking some international students sightseeing over the weekend, Kelly Sanders, a teacher from Port Angeles, pulled into an Olympic National Park lot to shoot a photo of the kids in front of a ranger sign. Big mistake, apparently: A park ranger (furloughed no less) ticketed her and two other drivers who had stopped, according to the Peninsula Daily News. They were cited for "violation of closure" — the federal shutdown. Sanders told reporter Joe Smillie, “I didn't know how to explain it to [the students] because I can't really understand why all this happened myself." The ranger apologized. Speaking of the shutdown, the Wall Street Journal just reported that the rating agency Fitch has placed the United States' credit on a watch for a downgrade as the nation approaches it borrowing limit. Is anyone sorry about that? — J.C.
A question about guns at this morning's mayoral debate revealed fundamentally different approaches to the problem on the part of mayoral challenger Ed Murray and incumbent Mike McGinn, according to seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly. "McGinn is an activist-innovator to the tips of his toes," writes Connelly, "willing to try a variety of street-based initiatives — e.g. 87 businesses declaring themselves “Gun Free Zones” … Murray is at heart a legislator, looking to fashion laws and build coalitions.
The mayoral campaign ends is in three weeks. The candidates are deploying their end-stage strategies in an effort to sway a whole lot of undecideds (see Bill Lucia's Crosscut article from this afternoon). King County starts mailing out ballots on Wednesday. And as Connelly notes, there's lots of debating left, too. — J.C.
Oregon department heads
The head of Oregon's lottery is going to step down next month, and Oregonian writer Harry Esteve says it's part of a heavy turnover pattern under Gov. John Kitzhaber. Esteve counts about 30 high-ranking appointees who have departed during Kitzhaber's three years in office. Gov. Jay Inslee says he wants a leaner, more effective government here in Washington. Maybe he should take a lesson from his fellow Democrat to the south. — J.C.
Lounging Downtown, for safety
This month, UW sociology students will be creating "temporary street lounges" along Third Avenue in Downtown Seattle. The students want to see how people interact with public space. But the Downtown Seattle Association, which provided lounge furniture for the project, has a slightly different aim. They're looking for innovative ways to make this vital corridor safer and more inviting.
James Sido of the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) calls Third Avenue the city's "welcome mat." More than 40,000 people arrive downtown using the Third Avenue transit corridor. Yet it's best known for its drug deals and muggings. Last December, the City of Seattle, King County and the DSA signed a joint memorandum aimed at innovative improvements. "We want environment more conducive to somebody sitting down to read the paper without feeling threatened," says Sido. "We want a community-driven feel. When you have that there are ripple effects." — E.M.
Squeeze (or density to the max)
Washington, Oregon and the rest of the Pacific states have the smallest average lot sizes for most new construction in the nation, according to a report on MyNorthwest.com. The lots in the Census Bureau's Pacific Division, which includes California, Hawaii and Alaska, average just .14 acres, or one-sixth of the .75 acre average in New England. If you think density is a good thing (my hand is up), this is positive news: We aren't sprawling all over the place. But what's up with those urbanites back East? Lot sizes in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania are twice as big as out here. — J.C.
Medal of Honor
Former Army Capt. William D. Swenson of Seattle recently received the Medal of Honor from President Barack Obama for his heroic actions. Capt. Swenson recovered the bodies of fallen comrades and protected others while serving in Afghanistan near the Pakistan border. Swenson graduated from Seattle University in 2001 with a degree in political science; Associated Press reports that he would like to return to active duty with the Army. The AP story embeds a YouTube video that includes battle scenes. This video just shows the awards ceremony.
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