The number of people who are unaccounted for following Saturday’s massive mudslide near Oso, Wash. climbed to 176 on Monday evening, according to the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. Officials emphasized that the number "does not reflect the number of expected causalities or injuries" and would likely decrease. Meanwhile, 14 people are confirmed dead. The roughly one-square-mile slide hit 49 structures, some of them homes. About 100 rescuers continue to comb the debris using helicopters, search dogs and hovercraft. Some ground crews were forced to stand down on Monday after concerns arose about additional slide activity.
Mud and debris are still blocking the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. Upstream flooding behind the dam has damaged at least seven homes. But river water is now flowing through the clogged area, creating a new channel. Washington State Department of Transportation is monitoring downstream bridges that would be threatened if the debris dam breaks. WSDOT says it is no longer concerned about flash flooding. State Route 530 remains closed between mileposts 36 and 39. Governor Jay Inslee's office said it had received assurance from the Federal Emergency Management Administration that the agency would issue a “verbal emergency declaration” which will allow for federal assistance with the response effort.
Rideshare regulation controversy – Part II
Even though the Seattle City Council passed new ridesharing rules last week the brouhaha over how to regulate app-based car services could be far from over. An initiative filed with the city clerk last Friday would amend the City Council's recent legislation by nixing the 150-driver cap imposed on each rideshare service operating in the city. Initiative 111 would also reduce the annual fee that rideshare companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar pay the city from $50,000, or or 0.35 percent of their revenue, to $500.
Meanwhile, another group announced on Facebook yesterday that it would begin gathering signatures to get a referendum placed on the ballot that would repeal the council’s legislation entirely. It’s not clear who is behind the repeal effort, which is offering signature gatherers up to $3 per signature along with money for travel and lodging. Lyft and Uber did not respond to requests for comment about the referendum. John Michael, listed as a contact on the Facebook page, said he did not know whom reporters should call to get information. Michael has worked in the past with a group called Progressive Campaigns, Inc., a “petitions management firm,” based in Los Angeles.
Initiative 111 backers are a group called Yes! Rideshare Seattle. The group is affiliated with the Democracy Workshop, which has pushed past initiatives to ban interstate tolls, terminate the Highway 99 Tunnel Project and lower liquor taxes. Democracy Workshop’s program administrator, Elizabeth A. Campbell, recently filed an initiative that would increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 for many workers, while cutting taxes for businesses. She also submitted an ethics complaint earlier this month against councilmember Kshama Sawant. Campbell said the Democracy Workshop had been in touch with “a couple” representatives from rideshare services, but did not say which ones.
Murray’s press secretary reassigned
Mayor Ed Murray has reassigned press secretary Rosalind Brazel. She'll be heading to the city’s Personnel Department. Why? Perhaps because Hizzoner's media shop made at least two embarrassing gaffes in recent months. In late February, Murray's office issued a statement mourning the loss of former Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director Jim Diers. Diers, however, wasn’t dead. Then in late January, Brazel forwarded reporters a pair of draft statements about the state Senate’s passage of the DREAM Act. The email was meant for communications director Jeff Reading and included a note saying, “two statements below. One more straight forward, one with a ‘tisk tisk’ feel.” Department of Information Technology public information officer, Megan Coppersmith, takes over the press secretary post on an interim basis. In her new Personnel job, Brazel will develop “a strategy for regular communications with City employees on behalf of Personnel and the Mayor’s Office.”
Like what you just read? Support high quality local journalism. Become a member of Crosscut today!