Ballmer gets ... another team
Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has just won a bidding war to buy the Los Angeles Clippers, outbidding all rivals with a record-setting $2 billion bid, according to the Los Angeles Times. The next highest bid that the paper mentioned was $1.6 billion. The Times didn't identify its sources for the report and said that the tentative deal with Clippers co-owner Shelly Sterling still must receive approval from her husband, Donald Sterling, and other NBA owners. The news could hardly be worse for those who hope to see a new version of the Seattle Sonics, since Ballmer had been identified as a key part of hedge fund manager Chris Hansen's group seeking a franchise here. — J.C.
$15 minimum wage
In a preliminary vote, the Seattle City Council today unanimously favored imposing a phased-in $15 minimum wage beginning next year. Meeting as a committee, the council voted 4-to-3 to approve an amendment to delay the hike three months into the year, until April 1, 2015. Under the approved version, most companies of 500+ would have three years to phase in the full $15 minimum wage. Smaller businesses and non-profits would have seven years.
Since two members were absent, the delay could theoretically be dropped when the measure comes to a final vote on Monday. Minimum Wage and Income Inequality Committee Chair Sally Clark said the extra time will let businesses adapt better to the wage. The council also voted to allow exceptions for teens, people in training programs and disabled workers and to toughen enforcement provisions. —J.C.
Obesity: We're not alone
A University of Washington-led study shows that obesity has become a worldwide epidemic, with some 37 percent of adults around the globe overweight or obese. In developing countries, the rates of obesity are rising rapidly, but the increases in the richest countries have slowed. But the Los Angeles Times notes that the United States remains special: It has more obese people than any other single country. — J.C.
Police reform lawsuit
More than 120 Seattle police officers have filed suit against the mayor, the police department and the U.S. Attorney General, among others, contending that the city's policies on the use of force are so restrictive as to constitute a danger to police and the public. The city and the U.S. Department of Justice agreed to the policies and related training as part of the ongoing police reform effort. U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan told reporters this afternoon that the suit is "without merit." Crosscut's Bill Lucia will have a full story later. — J.C.
I-5 traffic jam likely caused caused by a chain dangling from truck
All that commuter misery this morning apparently stemmed from a chain dangling from a truck. Officials told The Seattle Times that the chain got caught on an expansion joint in the southbound lanes of I-5 near Holgate Street and pulled up a 10-12 foot long section of the joint's protective steel plate. The joints, which are inspected weekly, allow highways and bridges to expand and contract with temperature changes. Damaged and aging joints are a known hazard on I-5. The Times’ ace transportation reporter Mike Lindblom wrote that he had seen a protective plate pop up nearly 3 feet as a truck passed before dropping back down — also on southbound I-5 near the site of today’s trouble. — J.B.
Echo at Olympic Sculpture Park
Crews today put the final touches on the installation and landscaping for Spanish artist Jaume Plensa's startling new "Echo" on the waterfront at the Olympic Sculpture Park. Seattle Art Museum spokeswoman Cara Egan says the impression is startling and already popular with passersby, who are sending out cellphone photo images that look Photoshopped. Until you can get there, here's an image shot for SAM by Benjamin Benschneider, one of the region's renowned photographers. — J.C.
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