Mary Yu sworn in
Longtime King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu today became Justice Mary Yu, the state Supreme Court's first openly gay member. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed her to fill the vacancy created by the health-related resignation of Justice Jim Johnson. No opponents filed to run against Yu, so — barring some kind of unlikely write-in campaign — she will serve the remaining two years of Johnson's term. In a statement today, Inslee said, "Justice Yu will be a great addition to the court, with years of experience as a trial judge that have grounded her in the everyday effects of our justice system." According to Associated Press, Yu is only the sixth woman justice and the second with a minority ethnic background. — J.C.
Pot and water
The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies much of the irrigation water in the West, is doing its part to keep America from wasting precious water on marijuana. The bureau issued a statement saying it would not allow any of its water to be used to grow pot, because the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits growing what was then sometimes referred to as mary-jo-wanna. Fortunately, as the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, the state Department of Ecology says there are a number of ways for farms east of the Cascades, where the bureau is a big player, to get water for irrigation without the bureau's involvement. Whew: We wouldn't want the feds to keep Eastern Washington from its rightful share of the state's legal marijuana industry. — J.C.
Pot and Doritos
Sgt. Sean Whitcomb is back in action at the Seattle Police Department's public affairs unit. Whitcomb went incommunicado in recent months after another officer reportedly filed an internal complaint against him. The complaint, according to a KUOW story early this year, claimed that Whitcomb created a hostile work environment after the other officer declined to participate in the police department's nationally noted Doritos giveaway at last year's Hempfest. The bags of Doritos had labels designed to educate people about Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana use.
On Monday, Whitcomb was at the Mayor's Office shuttling reporters in and out of interviews with Seattle's new police chief nominee, Kathleen O'Toole. He confirmed that he is once again available to respond to media inquires but he offered no further details. Also on hand at the O'Toole interview session was former Seattle Times reporter, Andrew Garber, who the police department recently hired as a senior media adviser. — B.L.
EU vs. Washington state tax breaks
The European Union is weighing a possible challenge to the tax breaks Washington gave Boeing to assure its 787X would be built in the state. The Herald notes that some tax break opponents had warned that the EU would complain to the World Trade Organization. The WTO has previously ruled that both Boeing and Airbus receive illegal subsidies. At some point, the WTO could allow the EU to impose financial sanctions on U.S. imports. — J.C.
Metro Transit: A different idea
Seattle businesses would pay a tax of up to $18 annually on each employee as a way to help fund bus service under a proposal from City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant. The plan also includes a hike on the tax rate for commercial parking lots (from the current 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent). Licata and Swant offered their plan as a replacement for the 0.1 percent sales tax increase in Mayor Ed Murray's bus funding proposal. The mayor also wants a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle motorists, which the Licata-Sawant proposal would leave in place. The revenue would preserve much of the city bus service threatened by Metro Transit cuts.
Licata and Sawant say the sales tax is more regressive than their proposals. "At first blush you're thinking, 'oh my gosh there's another tax on business,'" Licata said. "But we don't say that when there's another tax on people." They also say that the council and mayor could approve their revenue sources, leaving only the car tab measure to go up for a public vote. King County voters shot down a ballot initiative in April that was similar to Murray's plan, but the measure received strong support within the city.
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