Ramping up tunnel rhetoric
2:50 p.m. In the wake of reports about escalating financial demands from the waterfront tunnel's prime contractor, Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson today stepped up the state's defense of its refusal to go along with change orders on the project. "Wash DOT is strongly holding this contractor accountable to the contract," she said. The Seattle Times has reported that Seattle Tunnel Partners has asked for nearly $190 million in possible change orders on the project, including a tentative request for $125 million over the damages to the Bertha tunneling machine.
Peterson said the tunnel's design-build contract makes the contractor responsible for the additional charges. She compared STP's request for payments over the Bertha damage to a household moving company demanding that a customer pay for the repairs to a truck engine that blew out on the way to his new residence. STP has charged that the state is responsible for old metal that had been left underground in the way of the tunnel machine. Peterson also questioned STP assertions that it can finish on time. "I am still skeptical," she said, adding that the Transportation Department will keep demanding more information on the timeline.
Inslee on climate
Gov. Jay Inslee is trying to reinvigorate his climate change initiative, issuing an executive order that will start action on several fronts. Parts of his order direct state agencies to improve the energy efficiency of state buildings and vehicles, work on an action plan to encourage use of electric vehicles and study the costs and benefits of requiring that vehicle fuels burn lower amounts of carbon. Legislative Republicans had warned that he might implement the so-called clean fuel standards without them, but the governor seems to be holding off on that, at least for now.
Much of the proposal, in fact, seems to be aimed at working with the Legislature next year on clean energy proposals, even though it hasn't been an easy partner on the issue so far. Other parts of his proposal include a plan to press electrical utilities to end their reliance on coal-generated power from out of state, an idea that probably means Puget Sound Energy executives can expect to be hearing from state officials on how quickly they could stop use of their plant in Colstrip, Montana. Crosscut's John Stang will have a full report later.
Tony nomination for Seattle writer
Seattle writer Robert Schenkkan has received a Tony nomination for best new play for his work "All the Way," about President Lyndon B. Johnson's dramatic first year in office. "It's great to be back on Broadway," he told Seattle Times' critic Misha Berson. Schenkkan won a Pulitizer Prize in 1994 for another Broadway drama, "The Kentucky Cycle." BroadwayWorld.com reports he was sitting at his laptop sipping coffee and watching a stream of Tony announcements when he read about his own nomination. "So it was a good way to wake up!" he said. As Berson notes, there's another Seattle connection to the Emmy nominations in the Disney production "Aladdin": It premiered at 5th Avenue Theatre in 2011 before going on to Broadway. It's up for five nominations.
Shelton bombing and robbery plan
Larry Gillette, a 53-year-old Shelton resident, was a man with a plan for mayhem, according to allegations from the U.S. Attorney for Western Washington. He was arrested Monday afternoon when he met with an undercover agent and attempted to detonate a car bomb, which was inoperable, as part of a scheme to create diversions and rob three banks in Shelton, a Justice Department press release said. Gillette had unknowingly been meeting with an undercover officer posing as someone interested in helping with the plot. Gillette, the statement said, had "indicated he wanted the maximum loss of life to occur in the bombings and the bank robberies."
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