Public safety: It ain't just about police reform
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray today said he wants a chance to address the City Council about public safety issues. Murray mentioned in particular looking at what the city can do to create safer conditions, including better lighting, and examining how well human services are working. His remarks came at a press conference to talk about recent gun violence, including the tragic death of a Seattle Pacific University student and the double murder of two young men in the Central District earlier this week. But he said he had been planning to ask the council for a special session on public safety for weeks. And he doesn't mean Seattle's obsession with reforming the police, either. Crosscut's Bill Lucia will have a report shortly.
Most encouraging news of a bad week
Seattle Police officials said the condition of critically injured Seattle Pacific University student Sarah Williams, 19, has been upgraded to serious. A Harborview Medical Center spokesperson says she remains in intensive care, but she is conscious and breathing on her own. Williams underwent surgery at Harborview Medical Center overnight.
Spokane homeless count up
A one-night count has found that Spokane's homeless population increased 12 percent over the past year, according to The Spokesman-Review, almost matching a 14 percent rise in Seattle during the same period. A Spokane city official says the increase was likely a result of a more accurate and complete count rather than such a sharp increase in homelessness. Sheila Morley of the city’s Community, Housing and Human Services department also pointed to bright spots: The number of homeless families and veterans have dropped, indicating that new programs serving those populations are working.
City Light salary
Tacoma officials are scratching their heads over a Seattle City Council committee's plan to give a big raise to the city's highest-paid employee, City Light boss Jorge Carrasco. That's because the committee in part based its recommendation on a comparison between his salary and that of Tacoma Public Utilities CEO Bill Gaines, who makes $320,000. So, Seattle is thinking about an immediate, retroactive raise from $245,000 a year to $305,000 for Carrasco — with the authority for Mayor Ed Murray to give him as much as $364,000 a year in the future.
But Tacoma officials tell The News Tribune that Seattle's comparison is wrong. Gaines has a much more complex job, running in effect four offices: not just electric power (like Carrasco), but also water, rail and cable (yes, Seattle, progressive municipalities can operate their own broadband and cable). Tacoma does have an interest in this: It uses the City Light superintendent's pay to help determine the salary of Tacoma Power's superintendent — $247,000 currently. So a big raise for Carrasco could eventually cost Tacoma, too.
Computer education: Look out
Like many major higher education leaders, the University of Washington is seeing a surge in the number of students enrolling in computer engineering. But as a richly reported article in GeekWire shows, there are good reasons to worry about higher education's ability to meet the demand — especially at state institutions dependent on a stingy Legislature. And schools across the country aren't meeting the demand even now, raising questions about U.S. competitiveness and what kind of employment opportunities there will be for young people in the future. UW computer genius Ed Lazowska says, "We're turning away many students we'd love to have. That's the tragedy."
Traffic: Oh, what a weekend
It's summer and the driving won't be easy. In fact, the Puget Sound region faces what a Washington State Department of Transportation spokesperson calls "the trifecta of closures": The Highway 520 floating bridge, two northbound I-5 lanes and the southbound lanes of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Some people in Seattle neighborhoods near the Highway 520 work were in a bit of shock after receiving notification only this morning of major work beginning at 11 p.m., including the nighttime saw cutting of concrete. The spokesperson said officials give as much notice as possible, but changes in construction plans and adjustments to weather conditions sometimes limit how much advance warning can be given. "We take these things very seriously," he said.
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