Tuesday 24 Nov, 2015

Saving the P-I Globe

Troll: Back Monday

at 5:28pm by Joe Copeland

We are taking the holiday weekend off, returning Monday. Happy Thanksgiving!

Recount on

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

King County this afternoon confirmed that it will conduct a recount in Seattle City Council’s District 1 race between Lisa Herbold and Shannon Braddock. Herbold leads Braddock by 39 votes out of more than 25,000 cast.

An official said training and work collecting the ballots for the recount will take place next Monday through Wednesday. The manual recount itself is expected to take two days or slightly more. A final meeting of the County canvassing board to confirm the recount results has been set for Monday, Dec. 7. (A Crosscut story on the long wait for results is here.)

What's Thanksgiving week without wind?

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

The Kitsap Sun reports that winds are “causing havoc” on the Peninsula. King County suspended water ferry service until at least 5 p.m. And, besides parts of the Kitsap Peninsula, Puget Sound Energy reports outages on Bainbridge Island, and a few other spots around Puget Sound. All this, of course, will have many people checking on backup options for cooking their holiday meals. But the National Weather Service forecast generally sees “breezy” conditions letting up by Wednesday night and not returning until Thursday night.

Puget Sound Energy map of electrical outages this afternoon
Puget Sound Energy map of electrical outages this afternoon


Lorena Gonzalez to be first Latina on City Council

at 4:06pm by David Kroman

More than a month before the three other newly elected councilmembers take their places in City Hall, Lorena González will take office, becoming the first Latina elected to the Seattle City Council. González will take over this evening for Councilmember John Okamoto, who was finishing the term of departed Councilmember Sally Clark.

Most recently, González was the legal advisor to Mayor Ed Murray before leaving to run for council. As a private attorney, she won a civil rights lawsuit settlement from the city over the actions of the Seattle Police Officer who threatened to “kick the Mexican piss” out of a citizen.

González will be sworn in at 5 p.m. She is also hosting an open house Wednesday morning in her office on the second floor of City Hall.

P-I Globe: almost landmarked

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray joined with several City Council members today to introduce legislation formally designating the Post-Intelligencer Globe as a city landmark. The legislation follows years of work by city staff, the Seattle Landmarks Board, the Hearst Corp. and the Museum of History & Industry on the details of preservation. Councilmember Jean Godden, a former editor at the P-I, called the legislation “in a long journey to preserve and honor a symbol of competitive journalism in Seattle.”

Monday 23 Nov, 2015

Seahawks: Clear skies, playoffs ahead?

Seattle adopts 'adaptive signals'

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle has a plan for South Lake Union traffic: being smart. Or, as the Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom writes, traffic signals that constantly adjust to traffic — “adaptive signals” — will go into operation next year on Mercer Street, providing much better traffic flow.

Mercer will be the first of five corridors in Seattle where the signals are installed. Isn’t Seattle smart? Well, Lindblom notes that Bellevue has already put the advanced signals at 197 intersections.

No breaks for Spokane

at 1:15pm by Joe Copeland

There are still 33,000 customers without power in Spokane in the wake of last Tuesday’s wind damage, CBS News reports. Avista, the power company, says it is doing all it can making repairs but some customers won’t have power back until late Wednesday. But a snowstorm could hit tonight.

At a press briefing broadcast live by at least two Spokane TV stations, KHQ and KREM2, Ed Lewis of Spokane County Emergency Management said, “Utility crews will continue to work through this event, as conditions allow.” But he warned that the new storm’s winds could cause particular problems with trees already weakened by the first storm. Officials spent considerable time telling people without power that they understand how stressed they must be.

“Spokane is a resilient community,” Mayor David Condon said.

The city itself has been particularly hard hit. Spokane Public Schools has been shut because so many of its building were without power; there are reports the schools could reopen Tuesday.


Seahawks: All sunny skies

at 12:45pm by Joe Copeland

The Stranger’s headline captures the Seahawks’ return to .500 status: “Seahawks play non-depressing football game, suddenly back in playoff hunt.” And writer Spike Friedman explains why they are in a good position to make the playoffs, partly based on the meh quality of the quarterbacks they will face in four of their remaining games. Speaking of QBs, SportspressNW’s Art Thiel has a good look at where Russell Wilson and the offense are.

Russell Wilson Credit: Larry Maurer/Wikimedia Commons
Russell Wilson Credit: Larry Maurer/Wikimedia Commons

Friday 20 Nov, 2015

Standoff in Olympia over Syrian refugees

Sawant to take a second crack at 12-week paid parental leave

at 4:59pm by David Kroman

During Monday’s Seattle City Council budget talks, Councilmember Kshama Sawant tried to get her fellow councilmembers to support a $1.5 million one-time payment to stretch paid parental leave out to 12 weeks for City workers. The proposal needed five votes, but only got four and was stricken from the budget package.

But there was one notable absence Monday: future Council President Bruce Harrell. Sawant is hoping she can swing Mr. Harrell her direction next Monday and get the money approved.

In his budget proposal, Mayor Ed Murray pledged about $6 million to repay a longstanding loan. However, the city isn’t required to pay that much this year and Sawant is proposing the city takes $1.5 million of that and put it toward expanding paid parental leave. The four skeptical councilmembers said the city is already on track to go to 12-weeks, just not right now. They also worried about what would happen when the onetime payment ran out.

Will it pass? Harrell is probably the least predictable councilmember on the dais, so, honestly, who knows?

Herbold stretches her tiny lead

at 4:57pm by Joe Copeland

With the need for a recount likely to become official Tuesday, the Seattle City Council District 1 race will head into a Monday vote count with Lisa Herbold holding a narrow lead. Friday’s tabulations saw Herbold gain slightly, to lead Shannon Braddock by 32 votes out of the just over 25,000 so far tallied.

That leaves them well within the margin for a recount.


Gov. Inslee in the New York Times

at 4:57pm by David Kroman

In recent days, Washington Governor Jay Inslee had grabbed national headlines for being the first governor to vocally welcome Syrian refugees to his or her state. After appearing earlier this week on NPR’s Morning Edition, Inslee published an op-ed Friday in the New York Times.

“The American character is being tested,” writes Inslee. “Will we hew to our long tradition of being a beacon of hope for those chased from their homelands? I have always believed that the United States is a place of refuge for those escaping persecution, starvation or other horrors that thankfully most in America will never experience.”

As Crosscut published Thursday, Inslee challenger for governor Bill Bryant is not enthused with what he called headline grabbing “masquerading as leadership.”

Will there every be another Ken Griffey Jr.? Vice says no.

at 4:51pm by David Kroman

Vice sports had a piece up today that argued that near certain Hall of Famer Ken Griffey Jr. is not only the last of his kind in baseball, but perhaps in all sports. “What made Griffey such an iconic figure during his prime wasn’t just that he was good,” writes Michael Baumann. “His on-field accomplishments, though remarkable, are not what make Griffey inimitable. He was baseball’s last great mainstream superstar, a universally beloved figure the likes of which we won’t see again, at least not for a long time. For all his superstar peers, there was just something different, and bigger, about Griffey.”

Standoff in Olympia over Syrian refugees

at 4:43pm by David Kroman

Roughly 250 people showed up in Olympia Friday to protest recent comments from Governor Jay Inslee welcoming Syrian refugees to resettle in Washington, reports the Seattle Times. The scale was balanced, however, as about 200 supporters of Inslee’s comments came out for what the Times called a “counter” demonstration.

The standoff sounds a little tense, as many of those opposed to resettlement were carrying sidearms — a little nod to the crowd’s other favorite issue. They apparently attempted to block Inslee supporters — who were chanting “go home racists” and “Jesus was a refugee” — from getting near the center of the protest.

Remember: Only about 2,000 Syrian refugees actually live in the United States and a booming 25 in Washington State.

Thursday 19 Nov, 2015

Seattle teens get new school start times

Up and down the mountains

at 3:34pm by Joe Copeland

Washington’s ski season is here, at least at Mt. Baker Ski Area. It opened today, the first in the state. Crystal Mountain had been planning to open Friday, but now says on its website that the midweek storm, which brought plenty of snow, has left it without power. And there’s still debris cleanup to do. So, for the moment, Mt. Baker is the place with this scene.

Folks at Mt. Baker Ski Area enjoy the sun and snow for all of us Thursday. Credit: Mt. Baker Ski Area
Folks at Mt. Baker Ski Area enjoy the sun and snow for all of us Thursday. Credit: Mt. Baker Ski Area

Who's afraid?

at 1:48pm by Joe Copeland

A Seattle area Facebook user, Tucker FitzGerald, came up with a parody of a Newsweek map tracking what governors are saying about welcoming (or not) Syrian refugees fleeing their country’s civil war and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

While many governors are saying they don’t want to take refugees, Gov. Jay Inslee is being hailed by a Washington Post writer for making a “powerful argument” in favor of accepting refugees.

Facebook ISIS Tucker Fitzgerald




Seattle teenagers will get later school start times

at 10:35am by Cambria Roth

raised hands

Seattle School Board directors are calling it a ‘historic’ moment that could lead to a trend. “We will unleash a torrent of public schools shifting to bell times that make sense for students,” board Vice President Sharon Peaslee said. The Seattle Times reported that beginning next school year, the city’s public high schools, most middle schools and some K-8 schools will start at 8:45 a.m. Most elementary schools, four K-8 schools and Denny International Middle School will start at 7:55 a.m., and the remaining elementary and K-8 schools will begin at 9:35 a.m. The changes come after a research-based community initiative to better match school start times to teens’ biological clocks.



Wednesday 18 Nov, 2015

Powering the Internet of Things

Market site: Preserving and improving

at 5:02pm by Joe Copeland

Things are looking up for an historic building at Second and Pike, near the Pike Place Market. Lake Union Partners today announced plans to redevelop the seven-story Eitel Building, constructed in 1904, as an independent hotel with a ground floor restaurant and bar. In a press release, Mayor Ed Murray called the plan “a significant turning point for downtown’s Pike/Pine Corridor.”

Site for Convention Center expansion

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

A site has been found for an expansion of the Washington State Convention Center: a nearby block currently used as a Metro bus station at the north end of the transit tunnel. King County Executive Dow Constantine said the county and the Center have tentatively agreed on a sale that will provide $283 million over 30 years for Metro Transit services. The County Council and the Center’s board of directors must still give approval to the deal, which is expected to keep the expansion moving toward a planned 2020 opening. Light-rail plans had already determined that the station would be eliminated by 2021.

Artist’s rendering (courtesy of the Convention Center)
Convention Center Rendering - Night







Convention Center addition 2

UW research gets devices talking

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

University of Washington researchers appear to have taken a big step toward connecting all sorts of electronic devices in our homes and offices. In work to be presented at a conference in Germany next month, researchers were able to use energy from the signals from a Wi-Fi router to power sensors in other devices, paving the way for communicating among unconnected items. The research documenting that power from the Wi-Fi system (PoWiFi, it’s called) was led by Vamsi Talla, a doctoral student in electrical engineering.

A UW statement explains: “PoWiFi could help enable development of the Internet of Things, where small computing sensors are embedded in everyday objects like cell phones, coffee makers, washing machines, air conditioners, mobile devices, allowing those devices to ‘talk’ to each other. But one major challenge is how to energize those low-power sensors and actuators without needing to plug them into a power source as they become smaller and more numerous.” Challenge solved, at least in concept. And the researchers say that while relatively little charging was done, they believe the system can be made more robust.

Mayor Murray nominates new City Light CEO

at 11:10am by David Kroman

Larry Weis, head of the publicly run Austin Energy, is Mayor Ed Murray’s nominee for CEO of Seattle City Light. His nomination concludes a roughly nine month search to replace former CEO Jorge Carrasco.

Weis was born in Seattle and raised in Central Washington. He graduated from Western Washington University before bouncing between the Public Utility Departments of Snohomish, Pend Oreille and Turlock in California. He’s been the head of Austin Energy, the country’s third largest publicly owned utility department, since 2010.

Carrasco started in 2004, and left earlier this year with a mixed record. He’s credited with shifting City Light’s focus toward reducing its environmental impact, making the department greenhouse gas neutral in 2005. But his tenure hit a few bumps toward its end, with The Seattle Times reporting Carrasco authorized more than $47,000 in city contracts to polish his online image.

Weis will take over City Light from interim CEO Jim Baggs in February and will be paid $340,000 a year.

Tuesday 17 Nov, 2015

City starts to review 101-story building proposal

'Over the top' for Facebook

at 5:22pm by Joe Copeland

GeekWire uncovered pretty spectular planning documents for Facebook’s new office at 1101 Dexter Ave. N., which is being designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. Among what GeekWire calls the “over-the-top amenities”: a covered dining terrace on the roof, near the big barbecue pit and the walking trail. One of the images shows a couple of guys looking out over South Lake Union (perhaps commiserating with people who might be crying at their desks at another tech company in the distance).

Wind storm claims 1 life. Commute troubles, power outages.

at 5:07pm by Joe Copeland

A wind blew over a tree, killing a car driver in the Monroe area shortly after 1 p.m. today, The Herald reports. About the same time, a wind gust of 58 mph was recorded at the Snohomish County Airport. Rainfall levels were bringing flood conditions to several area rivers, including the Skykomish and the Stillaguamish north of Seatle. KIRO 7 reports flooding in the Kent area, and that power was out for an estimated 200,000 people. An outage in Snohomish County forced Edmonds Community College to close the campus and cancel all classes for the evening.

Just before 5:30 p.m., Sound Transit said its commuter trains from Seattle had stopped just south of Everett because of trees on the tracks.  The agency expected to allow trains to go on to Everett Station as soon as the debris could be cleared by crews. There were also troubles that halted commuter service south of Auburn Station for a time but the tracks there were cleared by 5:45 p.m.

Going up!

at 4:23pm by Joe Copeland

While there are loose ends to tie up, the plans for a 101-story skyscraper in Seattle are getting a serious look from city government, beginning with a design review hearing tonight. As KING 5 notes, the building at Fourth Avenue and Columbia Street downtown would be the West Coast’s tallest structure. The owners have expressed confidence that the Federal Aviation Administration will agree to the plan, despite concerns about it affecting flight paths to Boeing Field and Harborview Medical Center, served by emergency medical helicopters. The Seattle Times’ Sanjay Bhatt explains that the Middle East and Asia saw a trend toward super-tall buildings much earlier, but they are spreading to the U.S. Developers see an interest in more downtown living space.

Monday 16 Nov, 2015

Inslee not joining the governors' panic on refugees

Obama honors Ruckelshaus, Billy Frank Jr.

at 4:23pm by Joe Copeland

President Barack Obama today selected former EPA Administrator William Ruckelshaus and the late Billy Frank Jr., the longtime chair of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, as recipients of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian honor. The White House announcement noted, among other things, the legal battles in which both were involved. While at the Justice Department, Ruckelshaus resigned rather than fire the Special Prosecutor investigating Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal (Ruckelshaus wrote at length in 2012 about his dealings with Nixon). And Frank’s activism helped lead to the Boldt Decision recognizing tribal fishing rights.

The two Washingtonians are among 17 people nationally whose medals will be presented at a White House ceremony on Nov. 24.

Archdiocese struck by burglar

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Police say they are looking for a burglar at the offices of the Catholic Church’s Seattle Archdiocese. Although an assessment of possible losses was still underway, initial reports indicated it was likely a straight-forward theft, with a lap top and some cash taken. Police posted two surveillance photos that they believe show the burglar.

Inslee: Staying the course

at 1:28pm by Joe Copeland

While more than a dozen governors have made it their order of Monday morning business to say they don’t want Syrian refugees coming to their states, Gov. Jay Inslee stepped up to say, in essence, Pull yourselves together.

In a statement, Inslee said, “Washington will continue to be a state that welcomes those seeking refuge from persecution, regardless of where they come from or the religion they practice. We have been and will continue to be a state that embraces compassion and eschews fear mongering, as evidenced so well by Republican Gov. Dan Evans’ welcoming of Vietnamese refugees here in the 1970s.”

The Washington Post reported that some of the governors acknowledged that the placement of refugees is a federal responsibility but said that, in the wake of the Paris bombing, they wanted assurances that people will be screened carefully. Others said they wanted no refugees in the country from war-torn Syria, and Politico reported that Sen. Rand Paul plans to introduce a bill to stop any refugees from some 30 countries with a “significant jihadist movement.”

Tuesday 10 Nov, 2015

Trump wants to serve up a Starbucks boycott

Herbold on verge of tie

at 3:59pm by Crosscut Editors

Lisa Herbold pulled to within in six votes in the City Council race to represent West Seattle. Continuing her steady rise since Election Night, she was nearly 90 votes ahead of leader Shannon Braddock in today’s counting.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell widened his lead over challenger Tammy Morales.

As we reported yesterday, it appears there will be no final determination until at least Thursday. There will be no vote tabulations on Wednesday, Veterans Day.

Grant concedes on Council race

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

City Council candidate Jon Grant, the former state Tenants Union head, has conceded that he lost the race for Position 8, one of the two citywide positions. Grant points with pride to his campaign against incumbent Tim Burgess, saying, that “in truth, it doesn’t feel like a concession knowing that the people who came together to support our campaign can claim concrete victories this year for many progressive causes. Together, we moved the body politic of Seattle and showed that a community driven campaign led by women, workers, students, people of color, tenants facing rent hikes, transit riders, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks, teachers, and more, are a political force that must be reckoned with.”

Grant’s statement includes a brief mention of a notable campaign incident: an attempt to get him to help settle a lawsuit brought by the Tenants Union against a developer in return for what was said to be a chance to block a large independent expenditure targeting him. Grant resisted and went public, alerting voters to a kind of heavy-handed action that Seattle likes to think only happens elsewhere.

Grant tells Crosscut that he called Burgess before issuing the concession but wound up having to leave him a phone message of congratulations.  Grant’s full statement is here.

Trump's boycott mania has hit Seattle before

at 3:29pm by Joe Copeland

Donald Trump is among those who want to strike back at Starbucks over its simple use of red for holiday cups without other reference to Christmas. As Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com documents, this is a man with a quadruple venti passion for boycotts. At one point in 2011, Trump decided to go to bat for Seattleite Amanda Knox by tweeting that “everyone should boycott Italy” if the nation didn’t free her (she eventually was released and cleared of all charges in the death of a roommate during a university study program).

Connelly runs through other Trump boycott tempests, against Macy’s (yes! The bland department store dropped a line of Trump clothing over his attacks on Mexican immigrants), Mexico (well, because), and Glenfiddich scotch (because the company gave an award to a Scottish land owner who wouldn’t sell his property for a Trump golf course).

We are just waiting for Trump to remember his Italian threat and Knox’s subsequent release as a GOP presidential debate talking point on his international diplomatic skills.

Monday 9 Nov, 2015

Diabetes awareness: yes, we do need better understanding

Washington state slipping in its openness?

at 3:48pm by Joe Copeland

The Evergreen State has long prided itself on open and honest government, but a new report paints a rather less-glowing picture. InvestigateWest reports that a new ranking by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity ranks Washington 12th nationally but only gave it a D-plus. And just three years ago, the Center ranked Washington third (scoring changes may have contributed to the drop).

Among the problems: difficulties getting information from public agencies, despite a law mandating open public records, and revolving door hiring of state officials by private interests. Attorney Katherine George, a member of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, tells InvestigateWest that agencies are too cautious about disclosing documents and they often put more money and effort into public relations efforts rather than hiring enough staff to handle public requests for documents.


SeaWorld makes a change on orca showings

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

SeaWorld’s San Diego park will change how it displays its taken-from-the-Northwest killer whales. Associated Press reports that, instead of having the orcas perform tricks, they will be on view in a more naturalistic setting. Animal rights groups dismissed the move as a gimmick that is no substitute for letting the orcas return to the wild.

Children with Type 1 diabetes still face unnecessary educational hurdles

at 2:47pm by Leslie Holleran

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and maybe we do need some consciousness-raising, at least if a recent New York Times story is any indication.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, primarily occurs in children, and recent statistics show that it’s on the rise. Unfortunately, the Times story suggests, educators in Seattle — as well as much of the country — do not always know what they need to about helping kids with Type 1 deal with the demands of this chronic illness, such as insulin shots and blood sugar testing. The article features the experience of the Pollards, formerly of Seattle, who moved to Maine in the wake of what they found to be an unwelcoming and unhelpful environment for their son with Type 1 diabetes at a Seattle private school.

Federal law requires that schools, except those run by religious institutions without federal funding, accommodate students with disabilities, including diabetes. As a result, parents have brought complaints to federal authorities in 400 cases since 2011, and this may be just a small representation of the problem.

The Times article, which was picked up by the Seattle Times print edition, also includes a list of resources for parents to learn more about their rights and how best to partner with schools to keep their kids safe.


Friday 6 Nov, 2015

Seattle's campaign plan draws national attention

2 Seattle council races narrow

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

King County Elections put out a late afternoon round of voting results that tightened two Seattle City Council races. In one, Bruce Harrell, who had been presumed to be the winner on election night, saw his challenger Tammy Morales draw to within just over 3.5 percentage points. If late returns continue to go Morales’ way, the southwest Seattle contest could become neck and neck.

In the race to represent West Seattle and South Park, Lisa Herbold continued to gain ground on election night leader Shannon Braddock. Herbold is just over 400 votes, or about 2 percentage points, behind Braddock, but has made up considerable ground.

Western State Hospital on notice

at 1:02pm by Joe Copeland

Western State Hospital’s chronic problems providing adequate treatment for mentally ill people have taken a turn for the worse, with the federal government taking a step toward a possible cutoff of Medicare funding for the 900-bed hospital. State Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Kevin Quigley has ordered a slowdown in service expansions while the hospital works to hire more staff, the key issue with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. KING 5 notes that DSHS has received $700 million in increased funding from the Legislature for Western. State Rep. Eileen Cody told KING that department officials had assured her they were making progress on staffing issues.

DSHS said federal officials have formally put Western in danger of losing its Medicare certification, which could lead to the loss of funding for its services.

Seattle is here to help, America

at 12:25pm by Joe Copeland

In Crosscut’s story a day ago delving into Seattle’s new campaign finance vouchers, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman said, “This is a dramatic step in putting democracy back in America.” Ackerman and fellow Yale Professor Ian Ayres have expanded on their view in a new Washington Post op ed, arguing that the plan — which they are credited with inspiring — should be a basis for controlling the influence of money in national politics.

Ackerman and Ayres write:  “With appropriate revisions, the ‘Seattle idea’ can be taken national and serve as a litmus test of political seriousness for presidential candidates, who no longer should be allowed to pretend that only minor reforms are possible until the court reverses its decision in Citizens United. The time for action is now.”

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