Daily Troll: Bertha's minority problem. Amazon's big win. Seahawks diss CA fans.

Mudslides and no-pants rides riddle Northwest passenger trains.
Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront.

Crews drill to look for an obstruction in front of the tunnel-boring machine on Seattle's waterfront. Washington State Department of Transportation

Bottomless commute

Yesterday was the 6th annual No Pants Light Rail Ride day! According to KOMO, dozens of Sound Transit commuters observed this global event by going bottomless on the Light Rail from Westlake Center to SeaTac. The station has a slideshow to prove it. All we can say is, most people really do look better with their pants on. — M.B. 

Tuition cap

Hitting the ground running in Olympia this session, Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R- Spokane, plans to submit a bill on Monday that would limit tuition totals at all state colleges and universities to 10 percent of the average annual wage in Washington State. Which, by the way, is slightly more than $50,000. Since lower tuitions will trim the revenue going to state universities, Baumgartner's proposing that marijuana-related taxes — and possible future Internet sales tax revenues — make up the difference. — J.S.

Discriminatory drilling? 

As if labor disagreements and steel pipes weren't enough, the Washington State Department of Transportation today declared the SR 99 tunnel drilling team in violation of its contract. The problem: Seattle Tunnel Partners has not hired enough minority contractors for the megaproject. As Mike Lindblom reports in the Seattle Times, "Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBEs) led by minorities and women are supposed to receive 8 percent of the work, but as of last fall, by some measurements the rate was less than 2 percent ...."

Unless STP makes rapid improvements, WSDOT says they will impose sanctions on the contractors, which may or may not include delayed or withheld payment, suspension or termination of the contract — and burying big metal objects in the ground ahead of Bertha without telling anybody. (OK, that last one's a red herring.) — B.A.

California: No admission

Tickets for Sunday’s Seahawks-49ers NFC title game went on sale at 10am today. But not for Californians. Only fans with billing addresses in Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, Hawaii, British Columbia or Alberta are eligible to buy seats at Century Link on Sunday. The Seattle Times says the 'Hawks' California lockout is an attempt to “keep the tickets in the hands of  local fans” – and the 12th Man volume on 11.

Californians are advised to hurry over to StubHub, or some such online ticketeer. As of noon Monday, StubHub boasted 5,572 tickets, from $374. Btw: not much California sympathy out there. “If the 49ers wanted the fans of their team to see the NFC championship game,” wrote Times’ commenter Wassuprising, “they should have won home field advantage.” Harsh. — M.B. 

Mudslides

Northbound Amtrak and Sounder trains to Everett are cancelled until Tuesday night after heavy rains sent mud sliding over the rails on Sunday. Officials were able to clear the tracks for freight trains, but a safety moratorium will mean rail passengers will need be bussed until Tuesday.

Mudslides are typical during the Northwest's rainy winters. (Terminally frustrated commuters are only too happy to point out that whoever built the rails should have seen them coming.) But, as The Herald of Everett reports today, this is the first slide of the year. That makes at least one upside from the larger drought our region's been suffering, though skiiers and farmers would probably take the occasional mudslide over drought any day. — B.A. 

Amazon's dominance grows

Amazon has beat out other consumer-favorite companies — including Google, Apple and reigning leader, Ford — to become the most favored brand in the nation. According to GeekWire, the BrandIndex Year in Review survey, conducted by YouGov, asks more than 2.5 million participants a single question about individual U.S.-based companies: “If you’ve heard anything about the brand in the last two weeks, through advertising, news or word of mouth, was it positive or negative?”

And it’s no surprise that Amazon snagged the first-place seat. With all the buzz over its Prime Air drone delivery service and record 2013 holiday sales, we can only presume that 2014 will be another big year for the Seattle-based company. — M.C.

John Stang is a longtime Inland Northwest newspaper reporter who earned a Masters of Communications in Digital Media degree at the University of Washington. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.

Berit Anderson is Associate Editor at Crosscut. You can find her on Twitter @Berit_Anderson or reach her at berit.anderson@crosscut.com.

Mary Bruno is the Editor-in-Chief of Crosscut.

Mackenzie Ciesa is an editorial intern for Crosscut and a graduate of the University of Washington's journalism program. When she’s not busy writing, she enjoys seeing live music and wistfully wishing it was football season.


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Comments:

Posted Mon, Jan 13, 6:06 p.m. Inappropriate

Leave it to WSDOT. Here they are, busting the budget because of their gross incompetence, and what are they focused on? How to spread the loot. Ya really just gotta love the "progressives" around here. Real performers, they are.

NotFan

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