Bertha's double whammy
The state Department of Transportation says two problems have stalled the waterfront tunnel-boring machine — and the fix for one must still be figured out. In addition to the debris it ran into earlier, contractor Seattle Tunnel Partners has discovered damage to the seal system for Bertha's main bearing. STP will work with the machine's manufacturer, Hitachi Zosen, on repairs. Until then, no one knows what extra costs and delays may occur, the state said.
The state released a few videos of underground work that are the definition of sleep-inducing (here). But the one below is interesting for a couple reasons: It reminds you how "colossal" the machine is and it reflects STP's expectation that Bertha would be a "workhorse" with lots of "bells and whistles." So, as long as it's tricked out with easy ways to make repairs, there won't be any collossal problem with fixing the seals. Then again, we could be whistling in a very dark hole. — J.C.
Film and Music switcheroo
Seattle mayor Ed Murray made his first semi-controversial appointment Friday, ousting the popular James Keblas from his post as Film + Music Office Director in favor of longtime arts organizer Kate Becker. Keblas sent an email to colleagues Thursday, posted by the Stranger's Anna Minard, saying he is "sad" to leave the office; an announcement that led to concerned tweets from the likes of local darling and film director Lynn Shelton and a Change.org petition.
Still, the less kneejerk reaction this morning, after Becker was announced as Keblas' successor, was more positive. The two actually co-founded the Vera Project together, it turns out, and Becker's resume is certainly nothing to spit at: Leadership roles with Seattle Theatre Group and Art Share LA and a founding role at Redmond's all ages venue and teen center, The Old Fire House. Sounds like Murray replaced one great leader with another. — B.A.
The Winter Olympics opened, The New York Times reports, "with pageantry and pride." If you're tuning in to the events, Mashable has a fun map of U.S. Olympians' hometowns. We spot seven Washingtonians. Three are Winthrop residents: Sadie and Erik Bjornsen (sister-brother) and Brian Gregg — all cross-country skiers. The rest are scattered: Patrick Deneen, from Redmond, is a freestyle skiing competitor; Holly Brooks, from Seattle, a cross-country skier; J.R. Celski, from Tacoma, a short-track speedskater; and Angeli VanLaanen, from Bellingham, is competing in the freeskiing event. — J.C.
Today in Olympia: Marijuana
Two similar bills marrying Washington state's medical and recreational marijuana markets won unanimous approval in the Senate's Commerce & Labor Committee. Both bills would put regulation of medical marijuana in the hands of the Washington State Liquor Control Board and would use registries to track medical marijuana patients. Both bills would allow either the patient or a designated provider to grow the pot, though they differ on rules around collective gardens and how much a person can grow.
Commerce Committee chair Janéa Holmquist Newbry expressed hope that the two bill sponsors — Sens. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, and Jeanne Kohl-Welles, D-Seattle — can iron out minor differences in their bills into one piece of legislation. Some medical marijuana advocates regard the regulatory ideas as serious infringements of patients' rights. — J.S.
Animal rights activists are taking a new tack in efforts to free a captive Northwest orca from the Miami Seaquarium. According to The Herald, the groups have petitioned the federal government to declare Lolita, captured off Whidbey Island in 1970, a part of the endangered resident orca population here. If Lolita is covered by the Endangered Species Act, an attorney for the groups says, the aquarium might be prohibited from forcing her to perform, even if she isn't returned home. The Miami Aquarium disagrees.
Lolita's mother is believed to be an 88-year-old killer whale still swimming with the pod from which Lolita was kidnapped, er, taken. — J.C.
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