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    The Daily Troll: Farewell to food stamps? Seattle's transit uh-oh. Pat Robertson, #1 Seahawks fan?

    Meanwhile, Washington picks a new poet laureate and puts modern day John Waynes at ease: Sawed-off shotguns are back on the table.

    Compromise cuts food stamps

    In a largely bipartisan vote, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a farm bill Wednesday that cuts food stamp benefits while renewing subsidies for farmers and extending soil conservation programs. Among Washington's six House Democrats, only Jim McDermott and Adam Smith voted against the bill, according to Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com. The cuts will reduce benefits for about 850,000 people but avoids the kind of outright booting of 4 million people from food aid that House Republicans had supported earlier. In an article exploring the compromise, the Christian Science Monitor suggested passage in the Senate may not be certain. But Sen. Patty Murray said she will vote for the measure. — J.C.

    Today in Olympia

    Under current Washington law, good guy Steve McQueen of the late-50s TV hit "Wanted Dead Or Alive" would be an outlaw. His sawed-off rifle had a barrel less than 16 inches long — a no-no in Washington. Rep. Brian Blake, D-Aberdeen, wants to change that with a bipartisan bill that would legalize the ownership of short-barreled rifles. The bill received no opposition at a Tuesday public hearing before the House Judiciary Committee.

    Despite the lack of opposition to his bill, Blake came loaded with ammo: visuals of John Wayne and McQueen (seen below in "Wanted: Dead or Alive" TV series), who he said could have been arrested here for the lengths of their guns. Blake asked the committee to endorse his bill this year: "You may not be able to do it for me, but do it for the Duke." — J.S. 

    Transit scores

    Say it ain't so: Seattle's Transit Score, based on the availability of transit service, has dipped slightly in the past year, according to Sightline's Clark Williams-Derry. The main drop seems to have been in Southeast Seattle, where some Metro bus routes have been cut because of Sound Transit's Link Light Rail. But, that area often ends up with the short end of the stick in public policy decisions.

    Solutions? A new report suggests the world's largest all-free transit system provides huge benefit to residents of Tallinn, Estonia. Tallinn's biggest ridership gains have occurred in a district of high unemployment and minority population (Russian, in this case). No wonder King County is examining reduced fares for low-income residents. But maybe we should go further? — J.C 

    State of Union responses

    U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wasn't the only state politician delivering a response to President Barack Obama's State of the Union address. Here's Kshama Sawant, criticizing both parties for their lack of support for those in need and their favoring of the wealthy and corporations. — J.C. 

    Poet laureate picked

    Elizabeth Austen has been picked as Washington's poet laureate for the next two years. Besides being a published poetry author, Austen is a producer at KUOW 94.9 and has performed at poetry festivals and other events across the country. According to a press release from Humanities Washington and the State Arts Commission: "Her work trends towards the personal, touching on issues such as women’s societal roles, courage and searching for spirituality." She will become the state's third poet laureate next month, when she takes over from Kathleen Flenniken. — J.C. 

    Seahawks: God's team?

    Never say "never." Therefore, we present a Seahawks video produced by ... the Christian Broadcast Network. It's not too shocking the network would be interested: Players like Russell Wilson have made no secret of their religion. Most surprising: The CBN reporter actually came to gay-marrying, pot-smoking Seattle. Hope he had some fun. — J.C. 


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

    John Stang covers state government for Crosscut. He can be reached by writing editor@crosscut.com.

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    Posted Wed, Jan 29, 5:32 p.m. Inappropriate

    I agree the minimum wage should increase significantly, that homeowners and renters rights should be more strictly enforced, that police misconduct is unacceptable, and more. Kshama Sawant and I agree on all this.

    But I find her to be a self-mythologizing, self-aggrandizing attention grabber, and personally dislike her. Who cares what she thinks of the SOTU? Her job is very real, very concrete, and very distant from the SOTU. She has more pressing things to do today.

    Overall, she's good for Seattle politics and American politics. But I really hate how she's continuing the status quo of opining on topics with minimal relevance to the administration of the city, at the expense of learning our city's administrative system inside and out. I'd rather she knew exactly how street paving projects were prioritized than knowing exactly how racial justice issues, diluted into a single nation-wide meme, manifest themselves in national economic policy.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 12:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Sawant was committed to attend the Central Seattle Community Council Federation meeting Tuesday evening, but cancelled at the last minute to give her little TV speech. She doesn't return phone calls. She's lived in Seattle all of 3 years, and knows almost nothing about how the city works or how City Hall works. And she's demonstrated no interest in learning (who's the experienced City Hall hand on her staff? Answer: nobody).

    All she's good for is making speeches and flag-waving. When it comes time for her to run for re-election next year in City Council District 3, I expect those voters will be eager for new blood.

    Posted Wed, Jan 29, 8:36 p.m. Inappropriate

    She is young, she is idealistic, and she is dedicated. She is a voice to listen to, because she speaks for a body of people who deserve to be heard. It will be a term of getting the bigger picture for Sawant.. but we can learn a lot by listening. I disagree with a lot of her present philosophy, but she deserves the forum she has won. Let the process take place.


    Posted Wed, Jan 29, 11:06 p.m. Inappropriate

    What’s too bad is that Kshama Sawant’s response to the Obama speech didn’t receive the same exposure as Seahawk Richard Sherman’s misunderstood emotionally charged response edited into a misleading dumbass sound bite. We should stop slinging labels around and realize that Rep. and Dem. and conservative and liberal have little meaning anymore. It’s clear that her message resonates with a huge segment of the population who are facing real life challenges and concerns that are not being addressed.

    I would also venture that she may already know more about cost/value issues of city projects than our current crop of geniuses who are mismanaging the multi-billion dollar messes tunneling under the waterfront and our sinking 520 pontoons.

    It’s about time.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 12:49 a.m. Inappropriate

    "realize that Rep. and Dem. and conservative and liberal have little meaning anymore"

    You have got to be be kidding. Look at Congress and at our own state legislature. It's pretty easy to tell which party is in the majority in each of those houses. The two major parties have more space between them than at any other time in US history.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 8:01 a.m. Inappropriate

    And what difference does it make? All continue to work within limits determined by huge special interests who have little political philosophy beyond maximizing profits and doing business as usual. See any big changes in bank oversight or SEC rules following what was arguably the biggest financial crime in the history of the planet? How about our trillion dollar defense policies that grind on regardless of changes in administration, the economy and public opinion? The monkeys may change at election time but the organ grinders stay the same.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 8:59 a.m. Inappropriate

    The main drop seems to have been in Southeast Seattle, where some Metro bus routes have been cut because of Sound Transit's Link Light Rail.

    Sound Transit has confiscated north of six billion dollars in regressive tax revenue from individuals and families here. It puts in a wildly-expensive light rail system into southeast Seattle, and that part of the city's transit score DROPS.

    Anyone else see the disconnect?


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 9:43 a.m. Inappropriate

    For the approximately $2.6 BILLION Sound Transit wasted on Central Link light rail, we could have greatly improved bus transit in every neighborhood in Seattle.

    Light rail in this area is just stupidly expensive. Light rail stations are about one mile apart, which is why transit scores go DOWN when light rail replaces bus routes with stops that are closer together.

    If you want to put as many people as possible on transit for the same amount of money, buses beat light rail every day of the week.

    Of course the precious little yuppies who are cramming light rail down our throats don't care about how many people use transit -- they just want more stupidly expensive little trains, because they consider themselves too good to ride a bus.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 10:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Of course the precious little yuppies who are cramming light rail down our throats

    You wish.

    A handful of old white men designed the legal structure and financing plans, and a handful of political appointees are responsible for implementing those policies.

    Name the individuals who drafted the state and local enabling legislation, Lincoln. Let's see if you have a clue.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 2:26 p.m. Inappropriate

    It was put to a public vote. Who do you think voted for it? All the precious little yuppies.

    Who you think is behind plans to build light rail to W. Seattle and Ballard? Who supported Mike "the Bike" McGinn? The precious little yuppies.

    The people who voted for it did not give a damn about the financing plan or enabling legislation -- they just wanted their expensive little toy trains.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Address the issue. Identify the individuals who drafted the state and local enabling legislation, Lincoln. Let's see if you have a clue.

    It was put to a public vote.

    The financing plan was not put to a public vote. Light rail could have been provided cheaply in terms of local taxing, as it is done elsewhere in the country. Voters in fact were told the structure of the financing plan was to be decided later, by the political appointees on the board of that municipality. The boardmembers who made the taxing and bond selling laws AFTER the 2008 vote are the individuals shafting the public with excessive tax costs. "Yuppies" had nothing to do with any of that.


    Posted Fri, Jan 31, 9:29 a.m. Inappropriate

    Yuppies were the ones who campaigned for and voted for light rail. Without the YES vote winning, there would be no light rail, and no financing plan.

    You can't comprehend that simple fact?


    Posted Fri, Jan 31, 10:12 a.m. Inappropriate

    Without the YES vote winning, there would be no light rail, and no financing plan.

    The results of that election did not cause the financing plan the unaccountable board began setting in to place. The financing plan -- the one centered on excessive regressing taxing -- was not required by approval of that ballot measure.

    Indeed, the two Sound Transit ballot measures did not even hint at what the board would end up doing years after those votes in terms of imposing taxes for decades as security for a mountain of long-term debt.

    This is par for the course. We've got a PR agent trying to shift blame for the abusive Sound Transit financing plan away from where it belongs (the handful of individuals who drafted the state and local enabling legislation and then after the votes implemented those abusive policies via ordinances). Who does the PR agent want the public to blame? The victims of those unnecessary, abusive taxing policies (people living here, who may or may not have voted on either those two ballot propositions).

    Sure it's pathetic, but that's how these propagandists are paid to operate.

    What do the Sound Transit PR agents like this one hate? Requests that they identify 1) who drafted the abusive legal policies, and 2) the amount of the tax impositions required by the financing plan the board has been setting in to place since the votes. They have to play stupid about those topics, so they just try to shift blame.


    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:34 p.m. Inappropriate

    Well, now the people will find out that the precious little toy trains are really expensive to run, maintain and that they don't carry enough people to make a difference in traffic. And that Sound Transit is going to have Seattle City Light install 130' towers along residential streets for power for the toy trains.

    That little installation will actually be a benefit, because once people see 130' giant towers next to their one story little bungalows, they are going to scream bloody murder.

    Posted Thu, Jan 30, 4:49 p.m. Inappropriate

    The operations costs you reference are peanuts. But you knew that.

    That's what all Sound Transit's communications team members do: focus on the operations costs and ignore the tax costs and the abusive financing plan.

    Show everybody you have a clue about the capital spending plan. Nobody cares about the operations costs.

    Sound Transit's board -- controlled by political appointees -- intends on selling about a billion dollars worth of long term bonds early next year. Estimate what the regressive tax costs to the individuals and families around here will be due to the security pledges in those upcoming bond sales contracts. Sound Transit's board will create a new local law pledging to collect the sales tax at the maximum .9% rate for three additional decades, as security for the bondholders. Will Sound Transit be pledging to confiscate $40 billion in regressive tax revenue as security for those new 30-year bonds it will sell? Show us your calculations.


    Posted Tue, Feb 4, 3:17 p.m. Inappropriate

    Pleeeeease, you elected her because you think being socialist is coooool.
    Just as you elected Obama for the color of his skin.
    Neither have a clue.


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