Partnering for the planet
The governors of California, Oregon and Washington, along with the premier of British Columbia are forming a partnership to arrest climate change and promote clean energy. California’s Jerry Brown, Oregon’s John Kitzhaber, BC’s Christy Clark and our own Jay Inslee will formally announce their new climate coalition late this afternoon in San Francisco. The four Northwest neighbors plan to sync up their respective climate policies as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions across the region. This new climate deal grew out of the Pacific Coast Collaborative Agreement, which was signed by leaders of California, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and British Columbia in June of 2008. Alaska apparently opted out of this latest climate partnership, which links together four economies whose combined GDP (of $2.8 trillion) is the fifth largest in the world.
City will rack-up new costs if it takes money from COPS (the federal grant, not the TV show)
A $1.25 million Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) federal grant that the mayor's office wants to use to hire 10 new officers will actually cost the city more than $3 million over the next four years. That money is Seattle's share of salaries and equipment for the new cops, according to a city council budget briefing Friday. The COPS grant stipulates that the 10 new officers must be assigned to Community Police Teams, which focus on neighborhood problems and emphasize getting to know residents and business owners. A staff report suggests the city might consider simply spending its own money on new hires to have greater flexibility in how the officers are assigned. The number of community police officers has dropped from 33 in 2010 to just 17 now. In a September announcement about the grant, Mayor Mike McGinn's office made no mention of the city's costs. — B.L.
Texting and driving: Where it costs the most in fines
When it comes to maximum fines for texting while driving, Washington ranks 20th among U.S. states and territories, according to figures published by Mother Jones. If you get caught texting while driving in Washington, it could cost you up to $124. In Oregon, up to $500 (although the usual fine there is more like $110). Our neighbor to the north, Alaska, is the national leader: Driving texters get up to $10,000 in fines and one year in the slammer. For fine-free texting, head to Montana, where there is no texting-and-driving ban. But, before you reach for your phone, remember that vehicular texting accidents caused 3,331 deaths in 2011, according to a 2013 report from the Governors Highway Safety Association. Among teenagers, texting is now the leading cause of fatal car accidents. — B.L.
Oil-by-rail plan for Vancouver
State agencies will take comments on Tuesday about what issues they should address in the environmental review of the large oil shipping terminal proposed for Vancouver in southern Washington. That's according to Oregon Public Broadcasting. The oil would arrive at Vancouver by rail from North Dakota and then be shipped to West Coast refineries. Terminal backers call it a step toward energy independence; opposing environmental groups raise concerns about spills and the safety of transporting oil in train cars. (Remember Lac-Megantic, Quebec.) The environmental think tank Sightline has reported nearly a dozen new proposals for shipping oil, by rail, to facilities in Oregon and Washington; at least two Northwest Washington refineries already receive rail shipments. — J.C.
Inquest in police shooting
King County Executive Dow Constantine has ordered a court inquest into a fatal shooting by police last July. Police tried for hours to negotiate with Joel Reuter, who had barricaded himself inside a Capitol Hill condominium. At least two SWAT officers returned fire when Reuter reportedly came outside and shot at them. After being struck by one SWAT officer's bullet, Reuter retreated inside the condo, only to come back out holding a weapon. A press statement said that, to ensure transparency, inquests are routinely called when police are involved in a fatality. — J.C.
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