County plans for local Metro rescue
King County Executive Dow Constantine unveiled a bold Plan B to save Metro Transit services. The plan mixes local taxation with a tentative deal that would freeze wages for bus drivers next year. In case the state fails to act on a new transportation plan, Constantine and the King County Council will develop a local funding plan to present to voters early next year. Constantine said the county still prefers a permanent plan for local taxing authority from the state Legislature, to replace an expiring temporary authorization from the state. The expiration threatens to set transit back to the last century — literally. Planned bus cuts would leave local riders with 1997 levels of service. One interesting sidelight of the local option: It takes away a bargaining chip used by the roads, roads, roads wing of the Republican Party in the state Senate. — J.C.
Coal suit looming
The state Department of Ecology is going beyond its legal authority by pursuing a broad-based environmental review of the Longview and Cherry Point coal terminals. At least, that's what officials from Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota say in letters they've submitted on the Longview review, according to Washington State Wire. Former gubernatorial candidate and Washington state attorney general Rob McKenna — now in private practice — put together the legal arguments put forth by Montana and North Dakota.
The Constitution delegates power over interstate commerce to the U.S. Congress, and the coal states claim that Ecology is entering into that territory. Translation: We are ready to sue. We just wonder how Montana and North Dakota managed to get together to agree on hiring McKenna: Did the Montanans promise a statewide moratorium on North Dakota jokes? The threat adds to the challenges facing Gov. Jay Inslee's climate change agenda. — A.S.
Charles Schwab has advice for Bill Gates
Investing guru Charles Schwab says Bill Gates should return as Microsoft's next CEO. As GeekWire's Todd Bishop notes, Schwab is the voice of experience: He left the Charles Schwab Co. but then came back for four years to get the corporate culture back on track. It's free advice, and will probably get treated that way. Gates just put out his holiday wish list and it's all about where his heart is these days: making the world a better place with cheap, convenient technology to battle disease and improve crops. And how do you go back to being the hard-charging MSFT CEO when you've been mocking Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg over half the globe for thinking that e-connectivity is the world's greatest modern challenge? — J.C. (Disclosure: Crosscut gets some of its funding from Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.)
Dueling gun initiatives: Petition edition
Gun rights groups have turned in some 340,000 petition signatures on an initiative (I-591) to keep the state from enacting any background checks that are more stringent than current federal requirements. The Herald reports that the number of signatures exceeds the state-suggested limit (of at least 320,000) necessary to ensure that the measure is forwarded to the 2014 Legislature (and, then, likely to voters next November). A competing measure, I-594, would expand the background check requirements; last month, its supporters turned in 250,000 signatures but they intend to come back with more. If the two measures wind up with enough signatures, they both would go to the Legislature. It's almost certain the Legislature will fail to act, meaning that voters will get to decide on both. Which could get really confusing. But voters are probably better equipped to sort out the confusion than the Olympia crowd. — J.C.
Medford bombing charge
Authorities have arrested a 46-year-old man for bombing the prosecutor's office in Medford, Ore. Alan Leroy McVay, jailed on $1 million bail, was scheduled to make a Thursday afternoon court appearance. A brother tells an Oregonian reporter that McVay has been out of touch for four years, has had some drug problems and is "an incredible mechanic." Authorities have said that the explosive device might have leveled the building but for the fact that a 7-gallon propane tank only partially detonated. Call that incredible good fortune. — J.C.
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