Mayor wants waterfront focus
Mayor Ed Murray is setting up a new office to oversee the redevelopment of the central waterfront. The new office, Murray said, will bring together city transportation, parks and public utilities efforts on capital projects along the waterfront to ensure good management and planning. Murray also said he wants to focus on having strong partnerships with the state on its tunnel project and the Seattle Aquarium and Pike Place Market as they expand and renovate. Jared Smith, who had worked for an engineering firm involved with the tunnel, will head the office. Murray sent out an announcement after mentioning the new office in a Crosscut interview with veteran broadcast journalist Bryan Johnson. Crosscut will publish more of the interview later today. — J.C. (This item has been updated since it was first published.)
Bill Gates on the Internet's front page
Bill Gates took to the people's Internet Monday (i.e. a Reddit Ask Me Anything or AMA) to talk about his new role at Microsoft, his work with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a few of his guilty pleasures. Among other things, the Northwest's most famous billionaire waxed eloquent on education reform and vaccinations, advised computer science students to look into deep machine learning and told Redditors that though owning his own plane is a guilty pleasure, he's the dishes man in the Gates household. Every. Single. Night. "I like the way I do it," he explained.
No really new Microsoft insights to speak of: He will be focusing on the big picture, he's excited about the potential of cloud to help the company create a seamless data access experience across platforms (a la Microsoft's new One branding) and he won't be working on Xbox. ("My son knows a LOT more than I do about what is cool on Xbox.") For more analysis of Gates' role at Microsoft, check out this article from Crosscut contributor (and, full disclosure, my dad) Mark Anderson. — B.A.
Today in Olympia
- Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, is protesting her caucus' passage of the Washington DREAM Act, which was passed in less than 24 hours and without a public hearing in late January. Twelve members of the Majority Coalition Caucus broke ranks to join Democrats in supporting the bill, which makes the children of undocumented immigrants eligible for state financial aid. Normally, a public hearing is scheduled no sooner than five days after a measure is introduced. "To pass a bill on the Friday before the Super Bowl, with less than 24 hours’ notice, goes against everything I stand for when it comes to giving citizens a voice and encouraging their participation in the legislative process," Holmquist Newbry said.
- The Senate unanimously voted to move the date of the state's first quarterly revenue forecast of the year up to Feb. 20 rather than its current late March deadline. The Legislature typically procrastinates creating budget proposals until the quarterly revenue forecast has been released. The new bill would force lawmakers to start budget debates earlier in the session, decreasing the odds that the Legislature would go into the kinds of overtime seen last year. The bill now goes to the House. — J.S.
Microsoft buses blocked
Two protesters attempted to block Microsoft buses picking up workers on Capitol Hill this morning. The Capitol Hill Seattle Blog reports the protesters handed out fliers complaining about gentrification. It's not clear how long the activity took place, but the neighborhood blog notes an anarchist blog's claim that five buses were blocked over a 45 minute period. — J.C.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) has just set up seven Hubs across the country to help farmers tackle the challenges posed by climate change. The Pacific Northwest’s hub is located in Corvallis, Ore. and will target regional problems, including higher temperatures and reduced snowmelt.
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