Load More

Friday 11 Jan, 2013

The Daily Troll (updated): McDreamy gets his coffee. Boeing review. Fire on icy roads. NBA coming?

News talk

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

 KUOW's Weekday news gang, including Crosscut's Knute Berger, talked about the news of the week this morning, including the mayoral election and Garfield High teachers' anger about student testing. You can hear it here.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon. 

Gay marriage services

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Weekly looked this morning at a service created by two ordained ministers that is specializing in marriages for LGBT couples. The company has an upbeat name, "Joyful Joinings," and it donates 10 percent of earnings to anti-bullying programs. That makes sense both because, as writer Jeva Lange notes, bullying is such a problem for LGBT youth and the social justice and anti-violence orientations of both the ministers. They are former Snohomish County state Sen. Jeralita Costa, dynamic force in the Legislature when she represented Snohomish County for a time in the 1990s, and Jenny Ward, a founding board member of a group that brought mothers together to fight violence.

Fire and Ice

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Cold conditions have made for a bit of trouble the past couple days for motorists and pedestrians alike. But the real "nightmare morning commute," as KOMO-TV put it, was the result of fire: A Sound Transit bus caught fire after the driver pulled over on southbound I-5 in north Seattle. No reports of passenger injuries.

Guns and the lawmakers

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

At a CityClub discussion today, four top lawmakers wrestled repeatedly with questions from the audience and media folks — Austen Jenkins, Essex Porter and Joel Connelly — about what they were going to do to start controlling gun violence. Sen. Ed Murray spoke about incremental steps, alluding to a scenario he has been developing in several settings in which, as on the issue of gay marriage, people could take incremental steps over a number of years. House Speaker Frank Chopp offered a couple of concrete, plausible ideas for this year, including tougher laws on minors' possession of guns. House Republican Floor Leader J.T. Wilcox and incoming Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom emphasized mental health improvements. The audience was frustrated with them; I'd say they mean well.But you want some straight talk on preventing gun violence? A guest opinion piece from an Eastern Washington gun owner in Thursday's Wenatchee World offered six concrete ideas, including making sure mental health issues are detectable in background checks, closing the gun-show loophole and banning both assault weapons and large capacity magazines. It ought to be required reading for every legislator. And they ought to expect to have to answer for making progress on, say, three issues this session.My favorite part of Joe Kelly's article was his final recommendation:

6. Pass a test. If you are required to take a course, pass a test and possess a license to drive a car, fly a plane, be a massage therapist, and to go hunting, why not have a license for responsible gun owners? I’ve seen far too many gun owners who are not safe or competent in their ownership.Hate that idea? Fine. But there are options for beginning to control the shameful levels of violence.

787 Review

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The Federal Aviation Administration's review of the 787 is more sweeping than the print version of an advance Seattle Times story this morning seemed to indicate. On top of looking at electrical and related systems, the actual FAA announcement covers design and manufacturing. No wonder, too, given a windshield problem to cap the week of embarrassments. The FAA says the review will start in Seattle but might extend elsewhere. Duh, do you think? Given the way the greedy B insisted upon scattering everything on the 787 project, including final assembly, and diluting the value of its talented Puget Sound workforce?

Are the Kings sold? Here or there?

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The rumors and the news reports took on renewed energy late today. Shortly after 3 p.m., The News Tribune was carrying a story out of the Sacramento Bee that highlighted one Bay Area reporter's tweet that the Sacramento Kings had been sold to Chris Hansen and his Seattle-based investor group. At the same time, the Bee was reporting on the emergence of potential local buyers there, including the founder of 24 Hour Fitness.

Tully's to Dempsey

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Actor Patrick Dempsey's bid for Tully's retail outlets has been upheld by a federal bankruptcy court judge. The Seattle Times' account notes that the actor's group had promised to keep Tully's employees while Starbucks, a rival in bidding for some of the stories, had only offered a chance to apply for jobs. The seattlepi.com's story from Associated Press includes a reaction from Dempsey (often called Dr. McDreamy): "thrilled" and "deeply humbled by the outpouring of support from the city of Seattle." 

Thursday 10 Jan, 2013

The Seattle vs. Medina. A Sound Transit plaza at UW? New guv wants Boeing peace.

Inslee drops back to pass

at 4:19pm by Joe Copeland

…Inslee was a high school quarterback and it pops up explicitly and implicitly in conversations and public appearances. But, as annoying as his platitude-only gubernatorial campaign was, Inslee is an engaging person — and, high school football stereotypes aside, quite capable of humility. He took a minute recently to ask for the public help's as governor. His former roles as a legislator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives,  "were demanding," said Inslee, "but frankly [those jobs] don’t hold a candle to this one.”Here's the start of his talk.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

He's the economy governor

at 4:19pm by Joe Copeland

At the AP briefing, incoming Gov. Jay Inslee didn't stray far from his campaign talking points: job development, no general tax increases. Nevertheless,  an interesting picture of his priorities is starting to emerge, and it's all about the economy. Even while Inslee and others talked about ending a lot of existing tax loopholes, the new guv emphasized ideas for targeted tax breaks to stimulate the clean-energy sector, tech innovation and hiring. He also seemed willing to devote himself to strike prevention at Boeing, where the company and its engineers' union have been having some, ah, difficult contract talks.Inslee said, "You cannot overstate the importance of Boeing and the Boeing supply chain to the state of Washington. Nor can you overstate the potential growth in the aerospace industry … I will try to play a positive role and make sure the parties understand the importance of the issue."

The Sound of Transit at UW

at 4:19pm by Joe Copeland

The University of Washington's regents OK'd a land deal with Sound Transit for a light-rail station at NE 45th Street and Brooklyn Avenue, according to a Seattle Times report. The UW will have the above-ground development rights, which will generate some interesting land-use and urban-design discussions. The Times' Mike Lindblom says that the UW is still willing to look at retired architecture prof Philip Thiel's idea for a European-style plaza. Of course, there are fears that any plaza will become a hangout for vagrants. But isn't hope a better guide for designing the city of the future?

Bipartisan Shimartisan

at 4:19pm by Joe Copeland

State Senate leaders are dancing ever so gingerly around the question of who will control what in a divided legislative session. At this morning's Associated Press briefing, Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom, the soon-to-be Senate majority leader, said he's getting calls from fellow Democrats interested in accepting committee chairmanships offered to some of them under the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus that he helped spearhead with Republican senators. Ed Murray,  would-be Dem majority leader, said some party colleagues might accept chairmanships — as individuals — but that the party caucus is ready to operate as a minority body.Both Murray and Tom seemed to leave room for some new compromise plan before the session starts Monday. But we're not holding our breath. At one point, Tom went into his anti-Seattle riff (same one he used with Bellevue constituents the other night) and suggested that having his coalition in charge would be better for middle-class folks around the state. Seattle's Murray didn't let the Seattle-bashing go: "The average income in the city of Medina where you come from is three times the average in Seattle, where I come from." Well, touché!Barbs aside, Tom and Murray did seem to lay some groundwork for cooperating over the course of the upcoming session. Murray called the question of whether the Senate is controlled in bipartisan fashion an insider game and suggested the focus should be on results. Amen.

Wednesday 9 Jan, 2013

The McGinn is in. 'Gar is (grrr) out. And Kings are in -- limbo.

Hall of Fame voting blooper

at 4:22pm by Joe Copeland

Edgar Martinez slipped further away from election to Baseball's Hall of Fame, as SportsPressNW.com reports. The story gets right to the point:

Despite another persuasive argument mounted by the Seattle Mariners on behalf of their former designated hitter, Edgar Martinez, the Baseball Writers Association of America largely rejected the statistical case the club presented, once again barring the Seattle icon from the portals of Cooperstown. In fact, the BWAA did not elect a single player, notably denying Hall entry to Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa.The posting by Steve Rudman, who discovered stats before Nate Silver was 5.35 years old, goes on to lay out the statistical case for 'Gar, comparing his hits, homers, total bases and the like to the most acclaimed Hall of Famers. And in contribution to the Mariners' successes (in between all the failures before and ever since, of course). Here's another way to look at the Meaning of Martinez, posted by baseballbard two years ago. The most recent comment on the video, posted one week ago, was a prediction that Edgar would be elected to the Hall "next year." Not sure which year the commenter meant. But here's to the Martinez cause in 2014.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

McGinn running

at 4:22pm by Joe Copeland

From the "no surprise there" file, Mayor Mike McGinn announced that he is seeking re-election. Also to be expected for an incumbent, he's running on his accomplishments: strengthening schools, keeping our neighborhoods safe, providing more transportation choices and high-speed broadband. Whoa, just playing the messenger here, OK? Crosscut's Eric Scigliano is working on a story from the press conference. 

Seattle Weekly sold

at 4:22pm by Joe Copeland

This sale is confirmed. Finally. The Seattle Weekly went, as it so carefully reported, to "Sound Publishing, the state's largest community news organization." Not needing to keep any new bosses happy, Publicola.net was more pointed: "Little Nickel Publisher Buys Seattle Weekly." Nickels (dimes, quarters, etc.) will be in short supply for the Weekly if Sound Publishing lives up to its stingy rep. But when has no money ever stopped us scrappy news folks from carrying on while the bosses let the operation circle the drain?

Sonics reborn?

at 4:22pm by Joe Copeland

On a big news day for Seattle, it was the Sacramento Bee and Yahoo! News providing most of the oomph. Yahoo said a deal to bring the Sacramento Kings to Seattle was "in the final stages." Hours later, the SacBee continued its more nuanced approach: "The Sacramento Kings are in fact engaged in talks with a Seattle investment group about a possible sale, a source told the Bee today, but he and another source denied a media report that a deal is at hand." Seattle's Chris Hansen, who has led efforts for a new arena, is said to head that "investment group." Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson began a press conference late in the afternoon and talked about a group there coming together to buy the team from the current owners, the Maloof family.

Tuesday 8 Jan, 2013

The Gun buyback. Bellevue police woes. Pam Roach - again?

Snow: good for Spokane

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Spokane survived a snowstorm yesterday and was in the process of getting back to normal today, according to the city. To prove it, the city has a cool online map updating people on the progress of its snowplows.The press release, which was put up on msnbc.com KHQ-TV, begins:

City of Spokane snow removal crews made good progress overnight under the Stage 2 Snow Event declared yesterday. They have completed the residential hill routes and are moving into other residential areas. They will work 24 hours a day until they complete a full-City plow that includes all residential areas.That sounds like a serious response to snow. Good for Spokane. But for Seattleites, we pretty much expect any real snow here to bring us back to conditions last January. And this video (posted this week by Russ W on YouTube) serves to remind us that Seattle's best response is often just to make-do.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

More waterview condos

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Love the skyline along Puget Sound north of Seattle? Well, be prepared for more "skyline" north of Shoreline. The Herald reported this morning that a state Court of Appeals court has opened the way for development under rules that had been in effect when a real-estate firm proposed building more than 3,000 homes, some in buildings up to 180 feet high. The Snohomish County property is just north of the King County line. Even before the ruling, more than 2,000 housing units would have been allowed at heights up to 124 feet.

Bad cop, bad cop 

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo had to discipline three officers for their obnoxious behavior at a Seattle Seahawks game; two of the officers were allegedly intoxicated. This morning, The Seattle Times reported that Pillo has now demoted two ranking officers for engaging in an extra-marital affair and failing to disclose it. The Times obtained the disciplinary letters sent to the two officers under a public records request.

Pam Roach: A sequel

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

With only days until the start of the state Legislature, Associated Press has obtained documents that raise serious questions about the role of state Sen. Pam Roach in Eastside Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom's plan to lead the Senate as part of a Republican-dominated coalition. In a story carried on seattlepi.com and elsewhere, AP reported that Roach "violated a Senate policy on treatment of staff shortly after she was allowed back into the GOP caucus last year." Roach was kicked out of the caucus largely because of the way she treated staff. Neverthess, Tom insisted that sanctions against Roach will be lifted and declined to comment on any specific criticisms or allegations in the documents. 

Disarming program

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn and King County Executive Dow Constantine today unveiled a gun buyback initiative that has a host of community and corporate supporters, including Amazon and Pemco. What is described as the first local buyback in 20 years will take place on Jan. 26 (details from a press release are here). Gift cards of up to $100 will be given to those turning in most guns, with assault weapons earning $200 cards. The effectiveness of such programs can be fairly questioned but both McGinn and Constantine make common sense arguments for getting guns out of circulation if you don't have a good reason to keep them. Said Constantine: “If we can prevent just one child, one innocent bystander, from being the victim of a random accident, or the target of an unstable person, it will be well worth our time and effort.”

Monday 7 Jan, 2013

The 3 more flu deaths. Fire on a 787. Taiko drumming.

Pounding at Mochi festival

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

Bainbridge's IslandWood environmental education center held its annual Mochi Tsuki Festival over the weekend, and the pounding of rice into flour was accompanied by another kind of pounding: a Seattle taiko group, Seattle Kokon Taiko, performed. A YouTube of the group's self-introduction can be seen here. And here's a bit of the performance recorded on YouTube by Joan Lin:Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

Town Hall for Rodney Tom

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

State legislative delegations often hold town hall gatherings together, particularly if all three of a district's members (one senator and two members of the state House) are from the same party. So, it's not surprising that the three legislators in the Eastside's 48th Legislative District, as Kirkland Patch reports, are planning to meet the public (Tuesday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Bellevue City Hall) together. All are Democrats, but one is Rodney Tom, the Republican choice for Senate majority leader as part of a coalition of himself, one other breakaway Democrat and the Senate's Republican members. It's the Eastside, so doubtless everyone will be polite.

Eagles on the Skagit

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

The number of eagles wintering along the upper Skagit River has already peaked for this year, somewhat earlier than normal, according to a weekend report in the Mount Vernon-based Skagit Valley Herald. Things are looking better downstream in the Skagit flats, although that hasn't spared some visitors from disappointingly small numbers of sitings. Reporter Lynsi Burton adds one other unfortunate note:

Things are looking grim for the Skagit River Bald Eagle Interpretive Center, too, located at the Howard Miller Steelhead Park.

Kelly Regan, coordinator of the interpretive center, said that if they don’t get enough donations and sponsors this year, they will have to close the center’s doors next year.

The Friday school program, which hosted 300 students each January from as far away as Seattle, was the first victim of the center’s financial troubles. The program was cut this year.

Information about the Bald Eagle center, a registered charity that is changing its name to the Skagit River Bald Eagle Awareness Team, can be found here.

Ballard sewer overflows

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

Crosscut has reported on the problems with rain gardens installed by Seattle Public Utilities in the Ballard area, but the truth is that the rain gardens are designed to solve a very real problem: During rapid runoff, heavy flows of rainwater overwhelm the capacity of the drainage systems there and mix with sewage flows. So, untreated raw sewage pours into Puget Sound. The Ballard News-Tribune has a good look today at the size of the problem with rainstorm flows in the area. Zachariah Bryan writes:

If there's one thing that Ballard is good at, it's polluting the Puget Sound. It’s the grim picture painted by statistics for combined sewer overflows in the month of November.Trendy Ballard? Say it ain't so. Ballard contributes a disproportionately large amount of the city's overall problem with sewage mixing into the regular drainage system during storms. As Bryan explains, the problem stems from the haphazard way sewage and drainage systems developed there over a century. And SPU is having a hard time finding a spot to put a very large underground storage tank to help regulate the water flow during storms.

787 fire

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

People who fly on the new 787s tend to rave about them: sleek, modern amenities (it feels like they know what devices you will carry and want to use, a relative says), maybe even a little more comfortable. But there's a narrative developing around electrical problems, and today a 787 caught fire while parked at Boston's Logan Airport, according to reports by Associated Press and others. A Bloomberg story sums up the concerns in striking fashion:

Boeing's newest model has been plagued by incidents since it entered commercial service in late 2011 and suffered an electrical fire that grounded the test fleet in 2010. The Dreamliner is the first jet with a fuselage made chiefly of composite materials instead of aluminum and has more electrically operated systems than other airliners.

"Anything that involves a fire does not get the luxury of being called a teething problem," Carter Leake, an analyst at BB&T Capital Markets in Richmond, Va., said by telephone. "Boeing needs to get ahead of this quickly, because now you run the risk of getting into a passenger aversion issue."The Associated Press account is, at last check anyway, less dramatic than Bloomberg's, so this may require some time to be assessed. At Logan, all the passengers had already exited from a Tokyo-Boston flight.

3 flu deaths

at 4:10pm by Joe Copeland

The warnings about a potentially severe influenza season took on some extra meaning today. Three Snohomish County women have died from influenza, The Herald in Everett reported late this morning. The head of the countywide Shohomish Health District, Dr. Gary Goldbaum, told reporter Sharon Salyer, "To have three deaths at this stage in the influenza season is pretty unusual." One of the victims was in her 40s. Goldbaum said plenty of flu vaccine is still available. Three other deaths had been reported earlier. The state Department of Health's flu information is here

Friday 4 Jan, 2013

The Gregoire to EPA. The chill (literal) at City Hall.

The heat before the kickoff

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

OK, Seattle Seahawks fans have been kinda embarrassing in their treatment of the other team's fans at home games, according to a couple of telling letters that the Seattle Times published last weekend. (Kudos for the blunt truth telling.)So, let's not take trash-talking too seriously. But here's a Redskin-fan take on how the game — and the Seahawks — will go down.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

Adieu, Steve Kelley

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

Rick Anderson of Seattle Weekly reports that Seattle Times sports columnist Steve Kelley is departing around the end of the month after a remarkable 31 years at the paper. Anderson quotes Kelley as saying he wants "to do something else." He has some book and movie ideas. And we like this part, too: "he'll continue as a volunteer coach at Shorewood High and teaching writing to Seattle 4th graders."

Tully's is now so glam. Or not.

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

Ah, the fun! Actor Patrick Dempsey ("Grey's Anatomy") had the winning bid for Tully's, and promptly set hearts racing and cell cam's clicking at local Tully's outlets he visited during the morning. Crosscut Publisher Greg Shaw happened to be at one, capturing photos and a quick interview.)By midday, jilted-bidder Starbucks was moving in for the buzz-kill. Seattle Times' Melissa Allison reports that a Starbucks spokesman said "we are evaluating our options," which apparently include going to a bankruptcy court to object that it and another bidder had actually offered more than Dempsey's $9.15 million for the struggling chain's retail stores. Really, Starbucks? Do you know how many fans Dempsey has? Maybe that's the point, though.

Mudslides forever? 

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

The most recent reminder from Sound Transit about suspended Northline Sounder service came into our inboxes at 12:12 p.m. No service this evening. Maybe next week? As both Seattle Transit Blog and The Seattle Times reported, this year's service cancelations already constitute a winter record.The Times' account by Alexa Vaughn captures commuters' frustrations (it's a little head-scratching why Sound Transit doesn't go into overachievement mode to make bus alternatives comfortable and abundant), but also reports on projects and strategies that could alleviate the situation in the Edmonds-Mukilteo area. Apparently drainage improvements along the line in north Seattle helped deal with slides there in the 1990s. (For a really thorough overview of the effects on long-term passenger rail service growth, see Floyd McKay and C.B. Hall's December 2011 report for Crosscut here.)Kimberly Reason of Sound Transit emailed us this in response to a question about the future:

Sound Transit is in ongoing discussions with BNSF Railway about slide mitigation planning efforts. We know the State Department of Transportation has been awarded a $16 million grant for slide mitigation and look forward to progress on that project. We also understand that the problem is a complex one, encompassing multiple geotechnical and other issues that would require significant funding investments to address.

Temperature falling at City Hall

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

Publicola's Morning Fizz today notes that the Seattle city government is trying to save money by lowering winter temperature settings at City Hall and other buildings. A department of Finance and Administrative Services spokeswoman assures one or the other of the Publicola reporting Super Duo (Josh Feit and Erica C. Barnett) that "not a lot" of workers are complaining. Still, "Fizz hears that some city employees are getting around the rules by bringing in their own heaters right now — a power drain that will certainly show up on the city's energy ledger."A la the fare inspectors checking on members of the public aboard Metro's Rapid Ride buses, maybe the Finance and Administrative Services could do its own walk-throughs looking for culprits? No need to fine the public employees as a fare dodger would be, but if it's in the office of a politician, it sure would be fun to have it documented.

No rest for the gov

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

Joel Connelly at seattlepi.com reports that President Barack Obama is about to nominate Gov. Chris Gregoire as Environmental Protection Agency administrator. Connelly attributes the sourcing for his report in this way: "according to a very private prediction from a very senior source in Washington's congressional delegation." Well essentially (and delightfully) that could mean just about anything: Did Sen. Patty Murray call Connelly up? Did a couple of folks pass along some word that they had heard from a longtime staffer in one of the congressional offices? Connelly is so savvy that we will bet on Gregoire for nomination — and easy Senate confirmation, precisely because she has (as Connelly notes) a mixed record on the environment. So industry and Republicans will figure she's as good as they can get from the prez.

The calm before the kickoff

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

How far ahead of a home Seahawks' playoff game would the partying in Pioneer Square have started? Forty-eight hours? Alas, there's no way to know, since the Seattle squad is traveling to D.C. to meet-and-greet-and-beat the national media's beloved Washington Redskins.Also traveling there for Crosscut's readers: Sportswriter Art Thiel. For all his reports, check in often at Crosscut's special "Art Thiel in D.C." page this weekend or follow his updates through our Twitter feed and Facebook page

Thursday 3 Jan, 2013

The McGinn is a betting man. New Eyman, GMO initiatives. Coldest day this year.

Cautious about winter

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Ahh, but Mass' upbeat post aside, there's still plenty of winter left. And who better than the City of Seattle, or at least its Seattle Channel to remind us to be responsibly prepared. Seattle Channel took to Twitter today to call attention to a winter-preparedness video.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

Time to start getting warmer 

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Chilly this morning, right? On his blog, weather expert Cliff Mass tells us that Jan. 3 is on average the coldest day of the year in Seattle, as measured at Sea-Tac Airport. He presents data for the 1948-2012 time period, saying of this date: "The average maximum temperature drops to 43F and the minimum temperature to 33.  Then the warming begins!"The situation is pretty much the same for Portland and Spokane, though not quite as clear cut on the turnaround date. 

Congressional diversity

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com takes a nice look at one of the less-noticed facts about the new Congress sworn in today. There are now 20 women senators, a full one-fifth of the body. As Connelly notes, Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray are among the longtimers who are moving up in seniority and influence.Connelly writes:

Murray will chair the Senate Budget Committee in the 113th Congress. Just elected to her third term, Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., takes over as chair of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee. She already sits on three “A”-list committees — Finance, Commerce and Energy and Natural Resources. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., just gained a seat on the House Appropriations Committee.There are also 81 women in the House, including influential Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane. One fact Connelly doesn't parse out: That's 18.6 percent, putting the House pretty much on par with the Senate. 

New year, new initiatives: Part 2

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Food and health activists also filed signatures from an initiative petition campaign today for I-522, which would require labeling of most processed and raw foods that have genetically engineered ingredients. A California measure for GMO labeling lost in November after a heavily financed opposition campaign by agricultural interests. The text of the Washington measure is here.Both I-517 and I-522 appear to have plenty of signatures, according to the Secretary of State's Office.Both Eyman and the GMO measures are initiatives to the Legislature. As Ammons explains:

They will go first to the lawmakers, who begin their 105-day regular session on Jan. 14. Legislators have three options for each initiative: pass it into law as is, let it go to the November ballot for a public vote, or send it and a legislative alternative to the ballot and let voters decide which, if either, they want to support. The typical initiative to the Legislature takes the second path, going on to the General Election ballot. One or both houses may hold public hearing(s). 

New year, new initiatives: Part 1

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman today turned in signatures for his latest measure, one to make it easier to gather petition signatures. The Herald's Jerry Cornfield reports that Initiative 517 will face opposition from the Northwest Progressive Institute, which says the measure's provision for longer petition-gathering timelines could lead to year-round requests for signatures. Cornfield also reported that retailers are worried that the petition gatherers would have the right to be inside their properties; Eyman said it would only apply to public buildings.Dave Ammons of the Secretary of State's Office summarized I-517 this way:Initiative 517 would set penalties for interfering with or harassing signature-gathering crews; extend to one year the time sponsors are allowed to collect signatures, rather than less than half a year; and require a public vote on ballot measures that qualify, even if lawsuits are filed.The full text is here.

Local officials are wagering on Hawks

at 3:50pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn took to Twitter to make a bet on the Seattle Seahawks-Washington Redskins NFL game, the Seattle Weekly reports. Not to worry: No money is involved. Under the bet, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray will fly the city of Seattle flag after the Seahawks, or, ugh, McGinn will hoist the D.C. flag for a day over City Hall. Not to be outdone, King County Exec Dow Constantine, a huge football fan (he's made every Husky home game for decades, according to his office), placed a somewhat more elaborate bet with a suburban D.C. county executive via webcam and then posted the exchange on Vimeo.

Wednesday 2 Jan, 2013

The Counting the NW votes on 'cliff.' Begging for Windows Phone apps. First tabby of the new year.

First fireworks of 2013

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

Lots of people are still posting videos of the New Year's fireworks at the Space Needle. This one, posted by YouTube user lidipiri, is a pretty good mix of reasonably close video and crowd noises.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

First adoption of the new year

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

King County's animal welfare office came up with a clever play off all the first baby of the new year stories: This afternoon, the Regional Animal Services of King County sent out an email announcing the first pet adoption of 2013: "Just after noon today, Natalie and Paul Delaurenti of Kent adopted Crookshanks, an orange tabby cat."Yes, of course, there is a photo (above right) of the proud new adoptive parents and tabby. 

Burien city job requirements

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

If you are going to earn $94,000 to $110,000 as assistant public works director for the city of Burien, you better be capable of frequent sitting, lifting 10 pounds, "fingering" and "occasional feeling," according to the hyperlocal B-town Blog. It makes for funny reading legalese. And there's an informative, good-humored response from a human resources professional who identifies herself as "SR":

As an HR manager, I often find some of the necessary language pretty hilarious. But it’s just a standard BFQ (bona-fide qualification) for most desk positions. It’s necessary to include basic physical standards, so that candidates have a clear understanding of a job. I had a manager once ask why “stooping or crawling” should be in a secretary’s requirements. “They never do that.” Really? So if said secretary drops his/her pencil or a piece of paper under the desk, or has to plug or unplug an electronic device at the workstation, do you have another employee whose job it is to do that? If so, I want to work there.

Fiscal cliff voting

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

You might say President Obama got better support from Washington's U.S. House Republicans than Democrats in the voting on the fiscal cliff. All four Republicans — Dave Reichert, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers — voted in favor, making Washington one of just three states nationally in which multiple Republican members voted unanimously for the deal, according to Jeff Mapes of The Oregonian.Mapes also notes that two of the state's five Democrats (we get one more when the new Congress convenes) voted against the deal: Adam Smith and Jim McDermott. There's nothing so far on McDermott or Smith's congressional websites to explain their votes, but Smith's Facebook page links to a ThinkProgress.org story where he is reported as saying the measure could lead to spending cuts in the future because the deal doesn't raise enough revenue. (Update: Smith has posted a statement here.)It's tempting to view the Smith-McDermott votes as the Democratic equivalent of the my-way demands of the Republican right. But it's not really the same, when you consider the reaction from the TheTeaParty.net in an email today, promising support for GOP primary challengers to those Republicans who supported tax increases: 

"This is war. Congress is going to learn that the Tea Party has not lost its bite," said Todd Cefaratti, founder of TheTeaParty.Net.Presumably, the Northwest Republicans are not shaking in their boots. Oregon, the focus of Mapes' article, had an even more pronounced shift. Mapes wrote: "Three of the state's four Democratic representatives voted against the deal — Suzanne Bonamici was the only aye vote — while the state's sole Republican representative, Greg Walden, voted for it."

Online petitions for apps

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

Some users of Microsoft's Windows Phone are trying a new tack to get more apps for their phones: online petitions. Todd Bishop at GeekWire writes about the phenomenon this morning, saying it's a sign of both user loyalty and "lingering holes" in the availability of some major phone applications. Maybe the bigger news comes from tech news star Bishop: He just switched to Windows Phone, and he's happy with his initial hunt for apps.

Monday 31 Dec, 2012

The Burn bans expand. Seattle's loneliest bus stop. New Year's liquor prices.

New Year's fireworks

at 1:35pm by Joe Copeland

The Space Needle will host its annual fireworks display. Want to get a head start or compare tonight's with Jan. 1, 2012? Here's a nice little video from the 2012 event that's accompanied with music (although it doesn't seem to kick in until shortly after the 1:30 minute mark).Happy New Year to all from Crosscut — and stay safe tonight!Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

Center of news universe

at 1:35pm by Joe Copeland

While most media outlets are pretty light on news today, The Herald in Everett published a couple of interesting pieces with statewide significance. First, Michelle Dunlop wrote about the challenges facing the state in just keeping aerospace jobs. She reports that incoming Gov. Jay Inslee will need to finish an overall aerospace jobs strategy that Gov. Chris Gregoire has started; should be alert to emerging competition for Boeing assembly work from many more states besides South Carolina; and may need to do fence-mending with Airbus, which buys many parts here but suffered some rather pointed remarks from Inslee while he was in Congress advocating for Boeing.Second, Bill Sheets took a New Year's Eve-appropriate look at liquor prices in the wake of Initiative 1183's privatization of liquor sales, which had been controlled through a state monopoly. He reports:

The average price per liter of hard liquor after taxes statewide in October was $24.06, according to figures from the state Department of Revenue.

This is down slightly from the first month of privatization in June, but still more than 10 percent higher than the $21.59 at state liquor stores in October 2011.As he notes, the initiative campaign stressed promises of lower prices from competition. But, alas, competition seems to be for the little guys trying to eke out small margins as retailers, not the distributors.With mission accomplished, the backers will probably be toasting themselves and their profits come midnight. And far beyond.

Bus shelter blues

at 1:35pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Transit Blog told the tale over the weekend of Seattle's "loneliest bus shelter," a full shelter at Fourth and Wall in Belltown that only has two daily stops, in the middle of the night. The blog says Metro neglected to switch one night-owl run to Third Avenue when other routes along that stretch of Fourth were moved a block over last fall. But it will move the night-owl service soon, as well. The blog calls the situation "a hilarious oversight." True, but Metro did a rather remarkable job with other service changes, especially the rationalization of routes in Ballard. Yes, you can get to Fremont, aka Center of the Universe, from Ballard now.

Burn bans

at 1:35pm by Joe Copeland

Environmental authorities this morning widened the burn bans issued earlier for Pierce and Snohomish counties. New stage 1 burn bans went out for five Indian reservations in the Puget Sound area (Muckleshoot, Nisqually, Puyallup, Stillaguamish and Tulalip) and Thurston County. In issuing the Thurston County ban, authorities also asked residents of Mason, Pacific, Jefferson, Grays Harbor and Clallam counties to refrain from outdoor burning and use alternatives to wood heat if possible. With clear weather ahead, it's possible the restrictions will spread.

Friday 28 Dec, 2012

The Oil via rail. Most fascinating Seattleites.

Census changes

at 3:55pm by Joe Copeland

The U.S. Census Bureau announced today that it is closing its Seattle office; a Seattle Times story notes the federal agency is focusing more on Internet replies to questionnaires. The acting Census director, Thomas Mesenbourg, said that technology allows the agency to "do more with less." Regional oversight of part-time workers in the Northwest is shifting to a Los Angeles office. Because of retirements and people finding other jobs, only three of about 45 regular Seattle staffers were laid off.

Another big pick

at 3:55pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle biomedical pioneer Dr. Leroy Hood, who is currently president of the Institute for Systems Biology, has been selected to receive the National Science Medal. He and other recipients will receive their awards at a White House ceremony early next year. The news came out late Friday, just before many of us headed off for a holiday weekend.

Most fascinating people of 2012

at 3:55pm by Joe Copeland

Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com plays the yearly list game in intriguing fashion, picking Seattle's 12 most intriguing people of 2012. The selections, first posted late Thursday, are in the slideshow format so overused at seattlepi.com (Hearst loves those extra clicks!) but the picks are well conceived and so well explained that it works well. Naturally, with Connelly, there's a slant toward compassionate, middle-of-the road progressivism. The picks include UW President Michael Young, U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan and soccer player Hope Solo.

Oil trains

at 3:55pm by Joe Copeland

This year has brought a lot of talk about coal trains coming to the Northwest as part of the proposed development of ports to ship coal to China for its utilities. But there are also oil trains coming from North Dakota to refineries at Anacortes, a factor that adds to the concerns, as Crosscut's Floyd McKay has reported. This afternoon, Oregonlive.com picked up an AP report on the national explosion in oil shipments via train. Comparing the trains to pipeline transportation of oil to refineries, a North Dakota Sierra Club representative told AP that rail is  "the greater of two evils." Some fear major spills in population centers.

Load More