The Daily Troll: Getting tough on DUIs. Canadian trouble spilling south. More pot stores needed?

Making nice on the Olympic Peninsula. A new Homeland Security grant is not quite ready for prime time.
The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute.

The Daily Troll: News for your evening commute. Art work by Noel Franklin

Crackdown on impaired driving?

An advisory group is urging the state Legislature to sharply increase penalties for impaired driving, including setting tougher minimum sentences and making repeat offenses felonies sooner, according to The Seattle Times. The panel, which was established by the Legislature, found that Washington is the most lax state when it comes to classifying repeat offenders as felons. It takes five DUI offenses before a conviction becomes a felony. In half the states, a conviction becomes a felony after the third offense. The group also advocated one idea that is likely a non-starter: establishing sobriety checkpoints. The practice is allowed in most states, but is considered a violation of Washington State's constitution.

Oil spill alert

A Candian panel has warned that the country is dramatically unprepared for an oil spill off British Columbia, where there are proposals to export large amounts of fuel to Asia. The national government is eager to expand exports through the construction of two new pipelines to the coast. In a well-documented analysis of the problems around the export proposals, Joel Connelly of points out that a spill in Haro Straits would head right toward Washington waters and the San Juan Islands. And we can't build a wall along that border.

Moving medical pot to front of line?

Updated at 4:35 p.m. City Attorney Pete Holmes is asking the state to issue more pot store licenses for Seattle, ease rules on their locations and give existing medical marijuana retailers priority for recreational pot licenses. He says the state has to be more aggressive about creating a strong, regulated pot market than it had expected. He points to the federal willingness to take a hands-off attitude but only as long as the market is well-regulated and not creating such problems as an increased supply of pot in neighboring states or more availability of pot for young people. Without more legal stores, he says, the illegal market will remain strong, putting at risk the shift to a legal system that voter-approved Initiative 502 was meant to achieve. He suggests 50 licenses for pot stores here instead of the 21 currently planned.

Can loggers and enviros be friends?

First-term congressional Rep. Derek Kilmer plans to tackle an old problem: the divisions between the forestry industry and  environmentalists. The Peninsula Daily News reports that he has set up a 16-member group — drawn from both camps — whose aim will be to increase logging in the Olympic National Forest while restoring natural forest ecosystems. The report notes that Kilmer still hasn't taken a position on his predecessor Norm Dicks' proposal to expand wilderness areas on the peninsula.

Let's not talk security just yet

A City Council committee was supposed to consider an ordinance today that would let the Seattle Police Department take new Department of Homeland Security money for an "urban areas security initiative." After the Council's agenda was published, however, committee chair Bruce Harrell decided that the police needed to talk more with the American Civil Liberties Union before the City Council considers the measure. The SLOG discovered that part of the money in question would be used for facial recognition capability. As SLOG writer Brendan Kiley suggests, checking the facial images of unknown suspects against a database could well be conducted without raising privacy issues, but it's worth a little careful discussion first.

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Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at

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Posted Fri, Dec 6, 10:36 a.m. Inappropriate

Police interrogation-and-search roadblocks (euphemistically referred to "sobriety checkpoints") are very effective at harassing good motorists, and to the extent that the cops get to write a lot of tickets to people who stopped for a couple beers after work, they make good press. But they do very little to get bad drivers off the roads. "Not all dumbs are blonde" the old saying goes, and not all reckless drivers are drunk. And the habitually drunk drivers, the ones who are still behind the wheel with no insurance, a revoked license, and a fifth of Jim Beam under their belts, seem to be much more effective at eluding police than they are at staying on their side of the center line. Put the cops on the highways, writing people up for aggressive behavior, parking in the left lane, weaving between other vehicles, changing lanes without signalling, etc., and you will probably get more drunk drivers - and all bad drivers - off the road than any roadblock accosting drivers with demands for "your papers, please" could ever hope to.


Posted Sat, Dec 7, 8:52 a.m. Inappropriate

No kidding. I-5 has become completely dangerous with fast racing vehicles weaving from lane to lane just as soon as the traffic stalls open up.

More cops on the highways please. And more cops on foot downtown.

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