Pass: Do not pass
Updated at 5:34 p.m. Blasted by two feet of new snow over the weekend, Snoqualmie Pass remained shut down through most of Monday. According to the WSDOT blog, crews managed to reopen it at 4:30 p.m., but traffic cameras and sensors showed it was still a slow go for those venturing over the divide as sunset neared. The state Department of Transportation, which closed I-90 over the pass late Sunday night, had 17 plows and 48 employees working all day on avalanche control and removal of downed trees to make the pass safe for travel. At noon today the line of cars and trucks waiting to cross the mountains at I-90 stretched for three miles.
With Stevens Pass also periodically closed today for avalanche control, it was, in the words of a WSDOT blogger, an "extremely challenging" day to try and cross the mountains. — C.H.
Gates: Back on top
Bill Gates is the world's wealthiest man. Again. Forbes magazine reports that a bounce in Microsoft shares pushed his net worth up to $76 billion, surpassing Mexican telecom magnate Carlos Slim Helu. Forbes' 500 richest people are collectively worth $4.4 trillion — a record. Joining the Gates family on the most monied list are Warren Buffet (#4), Oracle's Larry Ellison (#5) and the two conservative Koch brothers (tied for #6). Walmart heiress Christy Walton is the only woman in the Top 10 — at #9. (Disclosure note: Crosscut is a recipient of Gates Foundation funding.) — J.C.
Today in Olympia
- The Senate Majority Coalition has finally put its $12.3 billion transportation package into a bill for consideration. The proposal, formally introduced late Friday, features an 11.5-cents-per-gallon gas tax hike, compared to a 10.5-cents-per-gallon increase in the House Democrats' $10.5 billion package. Democratic leaders want a guarantee that a majority of the 26-member coalition supports Republican Sen. Curtis King's bill. So far, an internal caucus head count has showed 13 supporters. Two caucus members, King and Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, have actually signed on to the bill. — J.S.
- House Democrats may make teacher cost-of-living raises and how to pay for them part of their supplemental budget proposal, according to House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan, D-Covington. That tactic could make it more difficult for the Senate Majority Coalition to keep proposals to close four tax breaks out of the upcoming negotiations over the supplemental budget. The Majority Coalition already passed a $96 million supplemental budget; the Democratic-controlled House is looking at a $219 supplemental budget. The cost-of-living adjustments (a.k.a. COLAs), which are already in the House proposal, are expected to add $51 million in 2014-2015; the Democratic plan to close four tax breaks would raise $101 million in 2014-2015, more than enough to pay for the COLAs. — J.S.
The owner of the Oakland Raiders football team mused rather generally to a San Francisco writer about the difficulties he has had getting a deal for a new stadium with the East Bay city. He didn't talk about any "Plan B" sites, although he acknowledged a visit to the neighboring city of Concord. That hasn't stopped Portland sportswriters from fantasizing about Raiders in Oregon. On OregonLive and elsewhere, John Canzano is already looking at suburbs that might be quicker to jump at a deal than Portland itself. It seems like a longshot, but it'd certainly make for a good Northwest football rivalry to have another team that close to Seattle. As for resuming the Portland-Seattle pro basketball rivalry: Seattlepi.com notes that the new NBA commissioner, Adam Silver, says he is "open" to putting a team in ... Europe. One more nail in the coffin of a certain arena proposal? — J.C.
Just when the TV hype around a few men's college sports threatens to obliterate all perspective about the proper relationship between sports and school, somebody like Washington State University's Jason Monda comes along. The aspiring doctor is a star on the Cougars baseball team, and has come back this year despite being drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies. The Spokesman-Review says Monda was a 6th round pick. At that level, almost every athlete signs up for a chance to play in the bigs. But Monday, says the paper, "values his degree" — to the tune of the $200,000 he rejected. (Ironically, according to a Philadelphia report that was highly critical of the Phillies and the NCAA, the team tried and failed to get Monda in trouble with the NCAA. (Monda had the temerity to engage in the general — and prudent — draftee practice of having a financial adviser look at the proposal, which is apparently questionable under existing NCAA rules.) — J.C.
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