Load More

Friday 22 Feb, 2013

The Daily Troll (Updated): Arena wins a court ruling. A French prison vacation. Big meeting for Boeing.

Champagne, M. & Mme Mastro?

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

A French court has apparently decided that bankrupt Washington real-estate mogul Michael Mastro and his wife, Linda, can stay in France outside the reach of U.S. law. Their attorney gave The Seattle Times a statement that the court decided they are too old (he's 87) and unwell to face prison. The couple faces a 47-count indictment for alleged bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. His unsecured debts, as The Times' Eric Pryne notes, have been estimated at $250 million — or a quarter billion dollars. She just lost an attempt to get U.S. courts to return two rings worth $1.4 million. But, hey, life in tolerant France beats the pokey. 

Boeing 787

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

The chief of the FAA and Boeing officials met today (Boeing says it is "encouraged," according to Reuters) to review the company's proposals for an early fix on the 787 battery problems. Congressional officials put out word that Boeing's plan would be a "permanent" fix. There's reason to doubt that FAA boss Michael Huerta will be giving any early acceptance, particularly when, as a New York Times story notes, the problems' causes aren't all clear. Bigger picture: Will Huerta or airline passengers quickly forget the harsh words from the National Transportation Safety Board about the handling of battery and electrical systems for the plane? 

Patience required

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

Two problems loom for local travelers this weekend. Both Saturday and Sunday the state will halt through traffic in both directions on Highway 99 as part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. Construction crews are starting work on an old, elevated section of 99 just south of the West Seattle Bridge. The closures will allow northbound travel on 99 from West Seattle to downtown. Details on timing here; a map with detour routes is here.Then there are all the big weather issues. The wind brought state Department of Transportation cautions late this morning about severe sidewinds on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and the National Weather Service has posted winter storm warnings for the Cascades through early Saturday. Just last weekend, UW's Cliff Mass complained on his weather blog about "boring" winter weather. But by mid-week, he was changing his tune, saying he "knew it was a mistake" to complain about boring. Apology accepted. Unless the lights go out or something.

Hanford tanks leaking

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee said this afternoon that six tanks are now leaking radioactive-contaminated wastes at Hanford. Crosscut's John Stang will post a report shortly. (His report on the first revelations of new problems and his in-depth reporting on nuclear-waste issues can be found on our Hanford page.)

Solving Mercer Island's tolling problem

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia:

Two bills are in play to figure out which way in and out of Mercer island should be toll-free if tolls are set for the I-90 bridge. Right now, a toll on the I-90 passage across Lake Washington — which includes Mercer Island — has been mentioned as a way to deal with increasing costs on replacing the State Route 520 floating bridge across the same lake.

Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island and chairwoman of the Washington House Transportation Committee, introduced a bill Wednesday that calls for studying whether the eastside or westside bridge connecting Mercer Island to the mainland should be toll-free so islanders can commute to work and for errands. Meanwhile, Sens. Steve Litzow, R-Mercer Island, and Rodney Tom, D-Medina, introduced a similar bill Friday in the Senate. A public hearing on Litzow and Tom's bill is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in the John A. Cherberg Buiding in Olympia.

Arena wins jump ball

at 1:46pm by Joe Copeland

(Updated at 3:22 p.m.) A King County Superior Court judge ruled this afternoon in favor of King County and Seattle on a challenge that could have forced them to start over on decisions about a pro sports arena in the SoDo area. The Longshoreman's union argued that the environmental review has to start with a study of possible sites, not focus on one. In a statement, Mayor Mike McGinn said, “This is a big win in our work to bring the Sonics home to Seattle."There are still many more hurdles (Sacramento, chiefly). But maybe Chris Hansen and his investment group can now think about inviting this Mississippi college cheerleader to make an early appearance at a men's NBA game in Seattle. Of course, the WNBA Storm would be able to host her a lot sooner.

Thursday 21 Feb, 2013

The Reardon says 'Enough.' Legislature gets a talking to. Meet your civic superheroes.

Reardon resigns

at 4:21pm by Joe Copeland

Embattled Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon resigned today. He said he had had enough of defending himself and his family against "scurrilous accusations." The latest county controversy stems from apparently well-documented reporting by The Herald. They allege that Reardon's aides filed repeated public records requests aimed at Reardon's critics using fake identities and front groups. Some requests targeted people interviewed during a probe that cleared Reardon of allegations that he misused public funds during an alleged extramarital affair.Reardon's resignation is effective May 31. That date, The Herald reports, is shortly after the election filing week, thus making it impossible for voters to have the final say on his successor until November 2014. Instead, the county Democratic Party — which is surely tainted to some degree by its ties to Reardon — will choose three possible successors. And the County Council will have to select one from the field.Reardon is sharp, works well with businesses and has held down costs in Snohomish County. But his high political prospects —he was frequently mentioned as a possible governor until recently — faded as his office slipped into a with-us-or-against-us siege mentality.

The best news north of Seattle

at 4:21pm by Joe Copeland

The Herald's investigative reporting on Reardon has been dogged, the kind of public-interest work that has become harder to sustain in the media crisis of recent years. And it comes just as the paper is being sold by the Washington Post Co. to Sound Publishing. That will make Sound's decisions about continuing relatively robust staffing of the newsroom an early test of its commitment to legitimate community journalism. The paper has seen buyouts and layoffs of talented staffers in recent years, making what The Herald continues to achieve all the more remarkable — and important to maintain.

A nudge for education funding

at 4:21pm by Joe Copeland

A coalition of parents, school districts and other education supporters is expressing impatience with the Legislature on school funding issues. Last year's state Supreme Court McCleary Decision requires Washington lawmakers to improve support for public schools. The Network for Excellence in Washington Schools seems to be getting a little nervous about the prospect for their success. According to an afternoon Associated Press report, they've written a pointed letter to lawmakers: "Please, do not defy the court order."Meanwhile, a higher education advocacy group, the College Promise Coalition, released a poll saying that 64 percent of voters would be more favorably inclined toward a legislator who voted to increase support for the state's colleges and universities. The poll also showed 80-plus percent support for the GET tuition guarantee program, which Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom has targeted for elimination. Details of the results are here.

Meet your civic heroes

at 4:21pm by Joe Copeland

The Municipal League of King County just released its list of civic award winners for the year. Among them: Superior Court Judge Mary Yu as public official of the year; the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle as outstanding organization; and Maggie Walker for regional leadership for chairing both the Seattle Foundation and Bullitt Foundation boards. The UW's Dream Project received a special award for their work helping low-income students become the first in their families to attend college. The program pairs college-aged mentors with students during the admissions process. And, we have to give a special shoutout to one of our favorite places to find comment and reporting on transit issues, the super-smart Seattle Transit Blog. It was honored for government news reporting.

Friday night

at 4:21pm by Joe Copeland

Is it cheating the universe, or at least the time and space continuum, to be thinking about the weekend during the Thursday workday? We may be ahead of ourselves, but we liked this newly posted Friday-night-in-Seattle video. The apparently tourist-shot piece features shots of the market and Irish music at Kell's (the kind of spot where a round of drinks might suddenly be offered at the insistence of Frank from Columbus, or some such place).

Wednesday 20 Feb, 2013

The Gas tax increase gets a boost. Step away from that computer, Mr. County Executive. Starbucks' Manga Man.

Boeing has a plan

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing will offer an interim fix for the 787 battery problems on Friday, according to an Associated Press report this afternoon. The company will reportedly float its suggestion in a meeting with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta. A Boeing spokesman wouldn't comment to AP.

Hands off the computers

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

The Snohomish County Council this morning took authority over the county's computer systems away from County Executive Aaron Reardon. His staff stands accused of concealing their identities while requesting public records about his critics. The Herald described the unanimous vote to yank his tech oversight as "a stinging repudiation of Reardon's ability to manage the county's day-to-day operations — and evidence of the deep distrust other elected officials have for the embattled executive." There was no immediate comment from Reardon.

Transportation package

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

House Democrats unveiled a transportation tax increase and construction package today that could draw broad support — and significant opposition, at least in its present form. The plan provides money for big highway projects in Eastern Washington (particularly around Yakima and Spokane) and all over central Puget Sound (particularly for east and south King County), as well as Pierce and Snohomish counties. But there's also lots of transit money, which will warm the environmentalist hearts of Puget Sound voters. Labor and the Washington Business Roundtable are cheering too.So, is passage by the Legislature and voters an easy Job One for new state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson? Not at all. Smart money says the Legislature and new Gov. Jay Inslee need a year to build support among voters for this or any transportation plan. A 10-cent hike in the existing 37-cent state gasoline tax would indeed provoke a lot of questions from voters. As details were about to be released, the conservative Washington Policy Center sent out an email warning against a "transit bailout." And then there's the Tim Eyman factor: The current version includes an increase in the motor vehicle tax statewide. Some urban areas have proven quite willing to impose local motor vehicle taxes for transportation. But a larger state take on vehicle registrations each year?The Roundtable's savvy leader Steve Mullin expressed hope that Mercer Island Rep. Judy Clibborn's proposal would be the "start of a robust conversation." Count on it, big guy.O

ne transportation tangle

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

The House Democrats' package would include money to ease traffic problems around Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Here's one look on YouTube at traffic there.

Shooting pigeons

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

A new bill aims at a rather surprising tax target: a sales tax exemption for non-profit gun clubs buying clay targets. Crosscut's John Stang reports:Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, introduced a bill Wednesday to exempt nonprofit shooting clubs from paying sales and use taxes when they buy clay pigeons. The bill's co-sponsors are Sens. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, and Pam Roach, R-Auburn. Roach is an expert marksperson who keeps shooting contest awards on one wall of her office.  

Howard Schultz: The cartoon edition

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

A Vancouver (Washington) company has a new cartoon book featuring Howard Schultz. Bluewater Productions quotes the author of its book, CW Cooke, as saying, "I am in awe of Howard Schultz. What he managed to accomplish in such a short period of time with Starbucks made him a legend. And reading his book made me desperate to tell his story to the world in comic book form.” See, someone actually read Schultz's "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing its Soul"? But speaking of Schultz's accomplishments (and there are quite a few, bitter Sonics fans), his contribution to the development of the Japanese yen for coffee certainly won't be hurt by becoming a manga character.

Tuesday 19 Feb, 2013

The Inslee switches transportation leaders. Judge rejects Mastro ring appeal. Roach wants biblical law.

Mastro ring appeal

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

A federal judge today refused to return two rings to Linda Mastro, the wife of bankrupt local real-estate mogul Michael R. Mastro. According to the Seattle Times reported, the judge said Linda Mastro lost her right to appeal when she fled the country in 2011. That was after a bankruptcy court ordered her to give up the $1.4 million rings. The Mastros, longtime Clyde Hill and Medina residents, are in France, resisting extradition. The rings are back in Seattle in the custody of that noted art connoisseur: the FBI. Free travel advice: Take nothing worth more than $1 million on hurried trips abroad.

Inslee's transporation shakeup

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee will bring in Lynn Peterson, an Oregon transportation expert, as his new Secretary of Transportation. The appointment  will be politically popular with Inslee's Democratic and environmental base, because she's the current sustainability and transportation advisor to Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. Peterson's professional background is as a transportation planner and she has undergraduate and graduate degrees in engineering, as well as a graduate degree in transportation planning, so she should have no trouble talking shop with the transportation engineers in her new office. One potential question certain to arise though: Does Peterson have the management experience to lead such a sprawling transportation organization? She did serve as a Clackmas County commissioner. Even so, some transportation advocates wanted Inslee to keep Paula Hammond.

McGinn: Togetherness

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn's State of the City speech ended on a note of togetherness as he stressed advances in job creation, environmental protection and the city's quality of life during his first term: "Let us renew our commitment to build … And let us resolve to go further together." Two of the council members present, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess, are part of the growing field of opponents seeking to unseat McGinn in his re-election bid this year. Crosscut's Knute Berger is preparing a report on the Mayor's State of the City speech. 

Pam Roach: Good enough for God

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Sen Pam Roach had her audience alternately chuckling and groaning on Tuesday as she argued for her own bill requiring state employees to tell the truth. Crosscut's Tom James reports:A Senate committee staff counsel noted that many state employees are already required by their oaths of office to tell the truth. But Roach said she wanted to be sure the concept was explicitly enshrined in state law. The Bible, Roach said, commands Christians "to not bear false witness." She said the requirement to tell the truth should be fine for state employees "if it is good enough for God."Roach's biggest disappointment, it seemed, was that no one showed up to argue with her. A representative of the ACLU had signed up to oppose the bill, but he declined to testify. Still Roach repeatedly asked where the ACLU was. To a smattering of chuckles, Roach said she wanted to question the organization that would "object to telling the truth."

Boeing union: to strike or not to strike

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Members of Boeing's engineering union are wrapping up the final vote on whether to a) accept the company's contract offer or b) strike. Voting ends at 5 p.m. The Herald says to expect a quick announcement of results.  

Beard nominations

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Two Seattle restaurants, Shanik and The Whale Wins, are semi-finalists for Best New Restaurant in the 2013 James Beard Foundation Awards. And Maria Hines of Tilth is one of the 20-some contenders for Outstanding Chef nationally.Other Puget Sound area nominees for national citations include: William Leaman, Bakery Nouveau, Outstanding Pastry Chef; Canlis, Outstanding Restaurant; John Howie, Bellevue, Outstanding Restaurateur; Café Juanita, Outstanding Service; Chris Weber, The Herbfarm, Woodinville, Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island and Mark Bodinet of Copperleaf Restaurant at Cedarbrook Lodge (in the Sea-Tac area), Rising Star Chef of the Year; Canon, Outstanding Bar Program.The nomination lists will be trimmed to finalists in advance of the awards in the spring. The full list is here.

Hand sanitizer fire

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Authorities reportedly have fingered hand sanitizer as the likely cause of the fire that left an Oregon girl with serious burns. The hand sanitizer in her room at Portland's Doernbecher Children'™s Hospital contained alcohol; the girl's father tells The Oregonian that fire marshals believe the alcohol is the only possible source of the fire. Static electricity has occasionally reacted with the alcohol in some hand sanitizers to spark fires. Eleven-year-old Ireland Lane is expected to recover, but she is undergoing skin grafts and may face plastic surgery. Her dad, Stephen Lane, tells the paper: "As readily available as hand sanitizer is nowadays, and how everybody sends it to school with their kids, it makes me much more worried."

Monday 18 Feb, 2013

The Long-awaited cat reunion. Harrowing Portland transit ride. Burien's exclusive state lake.

The cat came back

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

Nearly five years after disappearing as a kitten, an Everett cat named Ginger and its owner have been reunited, thanks to a microchip scan. As soon as it returned home, the cat started following its now-22-year-old owner, Alex Bismore, around the house as if nothing had happened, according to The Herald. Bismore hasn't received any explanation of how the scanning occurred, but the cat had been taken in by a man with a number of cats living three miles away.AP has already picked up the story; a good sign that Ginger better get ready for the TV cams that will make her a national story.

Protesting coal train

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

Climate change protests against the proposed Keystone Pipeline continued over the weekend and today in D.C. Here in Seattle, Mayor Mike McGinn appeared Sunday at a rally against the proposed development of ports to ship coal to China according to seattlepi.com. The mayor said the increased train traffic from a proposed Bellingham-area development would hurt the city's ability to keep port-related traffic moving.That might be a job destroyer for Seattle — especially given the port's struggle to compete with Tacoma.

Mayor's big speech

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

With the Presidents Day holiday, local governments shut their doors. Seattle City Hall will get back to work with a big event on Tuesday: Mayor Mike McGinn's annual State of the City address. Crosscut will stream the speech live beginning at 2 p.m. 

Lake Burien: For their pleasure only

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

Neighboring property owners are working hard to permanently prevent public access to state-owned Lake Burien, in the heart of south King County. The Seattle Times Erik Lacitis describes the struggle between the lone activist trying to establish public access to the lake and the response of the 'We-have-friends-in-City-Hall' property owners, who live on its banks.Property owners argue that public access would pollute the state's lake. Lacitis quotes a blog item by a lakefront property owner: "Over the years, the people of Lake Burien have been generous to invite their children's friends to swim with them." It's unknown how many other state-owned lakes may be surrounded by private property and lack access. The state government might like to check that out — and do something on behalf of the public in Burien and statewide.

TriMet sliding doors

at 3:36pm by Joe Copeland

Passengers on one of Portland's MAX had an interesting few minutes after a door on the train failed to close while it sped between stops. One rider tells The Oregonian, "I almost darn near fell out of the open door when the train took off." The Oregonian reports that the rider, Michael Lentz, repeatedly tried to alert the driver. TriMet says today that it's investigating the cause of Friday's incident.Thanks to a cellphone camera, the incident is unlikely to be swept under the rug. The video contains (not too surprisingly) some profanity — and a please, don't ever do this on a moving train moment: A passenger sticks his head out the door. 

Friday 15 Feb, 2013

The Hanford leaks anew. Spying on Seattle waterfront. Transit mania grows.

Hanford leaks anew

at 2:44pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee this afternoon threatened legal action against the federal government over a newly discovered leak of radioactive waste from a storage tank at the Hanford nuclear reservation. Inslee said the leak from one of the problem-plagued single-shell tanks involves "very significantly toxic" waste, but doesn't pose an immediate threat to the waters of the nearby Columbia River. Inslee also pointed to the possibility that the federal government might suspend the cleanup effort. Crosscut's John Stang is preparing a full report.

Seattle, the surveillance city?

at 2:44pm by Joe Copeland

The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is raising new questions about the city of Seattle's use of surveillance equipment obtained under federal grants. In a letter provided to the media this morning, the ACLU objects to dozens of surveillance cameras for monitoring West Seattle waterfront neighborhoods and the Port of Seattle. KOMO reported Thursday evening that the Seattle City Council had approved the cameras, but the police department apparently didn't disclose the extent of the cameras' coverage. Two council members, Bruce Harrell and Tim Burgess, said they want to re-examine the cameras' planned usage. The ACLU praised Mayor Mike McGinn's cancellation of a police drone program, but called for a public process for civilian review of all new surveillance purchases and programs. 

Move over for developers!

at 2:44pm by Joe Copeland

Construction is picking up in Seattle, and the city is letting developers shut sidewalks. On the Slog this morning, Dominic Holden posts his thoughts (and a relevant photo) about the city's unwillingness to require protected walkways — even in areas designated for heavy pedestrian activity. As he notes, cities in the Eastern part of the country routinely require temporary walkways. Seattle? It loves to talk about encouraging pedestrians, supporting sustainability and requiring smart development. But City Hall's decades of hicktown pedestrian mistreatment point to the real interest: the developers' money.

Put down the keys, Seattle

at 2:44pm by Joe Copeland

Only 34 percent of downtown Seattle workers drive to their jobs in single-car vehicles, according to a new study reported on Seattle Transit Blog. Buses are the No. 1 method of travel (with 35.7 percent) but rail, walking, biking and vanpooling are growing faster than Metro Transit bus ridership.

Sammamish: King County's Pleasantville

at 2:44pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle gets a happy pass from any mention on a list of the 100 most dangerous U.S. cities from an online real-estate service, NeighborhoodScout. And, as seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly found, Sammamish is No. 8 on the service's list of the safest cities. So, let's salute Sammamish, its safety and the ability of some of its residents to poke fun at its oh-so-comfortable suburban-ness. Forbes magazine even ranked them No. 1 in friendliness last December.

Thursday 14 Feb, 2013

The Legislators play marriage counselor. Police on the upswing. Reardon, not so much.

Police progress update

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn is proclaiming that the city has made progress on improving police practices around the use of force and community relations. He said today that the city is about halfway through the tasks he set in his 20-month reform plan, launched just over 10 months back. With the mayor's race looming, there's surely a political element in his announcement. But the city has a site for tracking the progress in each area and judging for yourself: Click here for the progress reporting and here for the overall plan

Your elected marriage counselors

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Conservative Republican Sen. Don Benton and seven other senators want to make it tougher for couples to divorce. Their bill, which Q13 notes is called the Family Second Chance Act, would require couples to wait a year (rather than the current 90 days) before divorcing. And both spouses would have to swear that they had read a state-approved handbook on preserving their marriage. In the spirit of the day, we will encourage the preserve-marriage senators to get out this evening and toast some of the same-sex couples celebrating their first Valentine's Day of the marriage equality era.

*Bipartisan* DREAM Act support

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Yakima-area Republican state Reps. Bruce Chandler and Charles Ross have stepped up to support the state DREAM Act. The act, as Publicola reports, makes the children of undocumented immigrants eligible for in-state tuition at public colleges. Chandler could be particularly significant in inspiring some courage by other Republicans and moderate Democrats: The Granger resident has served since 1999 and was the Republicans' House minority leader at one time.

Cuteness alert

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Woodland Park Zoo will put its four lion clubs on display for the first time this Saturday. As Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho reports, "In the last few weeks, the 3-month-old, still unnamed cubs took their first steps in the lions' outside pen, in which they rolled in grass and chewed on sticks." The viewing hours will generally be from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., but should expand as the cubs grow.

Reardon's in hot water ... again

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon's office is once again at the center of political weirdness: The county council is considering an uprecedented investigation into what appears to be an elaborate effort on the part of Reardon's office to harass and gain public records on the exec's political opponents.The Herald put together a seven-minute video to explain the labyrinth of documents, dubious names and record requests involved. Two of Reardon's fellow Democrats -— County Council members Dave Somers and Brian Sullivan — along with their aides, have been particular targets of the record requests. Longtime Republican Councilmember John Koster (one of the most decent if utterly conservative pols you'll ever find) tells The Herald that answers are needed: "The voters expect better of us."Reardon was cleared last year of any financial wrongdoing in connection with an extramarital affair. The county was once a model of good governance under Bob Drewel, who was executive for 12 years through 2003. Then came Reardon.

Shocker alert: 'Die Hard' scores a positive review

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Bruce Willis' latest Die Hard movie, "A Good Day to Die Hard," is out and it already has at least one positive review: Megan Seling of The Stranger. Here's betting her review is much more entertaining than the movie.

Orcas Island flash mob

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

OK, we get that you might be skeptical just reading the headline. And this starts a tad slowly. But Orcas Island earns some cred by the time this is over.

Wednesday 13 Feb, 2013

The State of Downtown. Suburbs growing up. Rodney Tom bashes Seattle again.

Local cities keep growing up

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

The Suburban Cities Association today rebranded itself as the Sound Cities Association. The group, which represents King County cities under 150,000 in population, said the new name reflects "a different stage" for them. The group claims they have become a more important part of a single region, not just outlying bedroom communities. We got a kick out of this: The press release quoted frequent Crosscut writer Mark Hinshaw“The notion of a 'suburb' is history. Diversity, greater density, more shopping and transportation choices are all part of the new identities of the communities around Seattle." So, do we call them "ring cities"?

A Vancouver-inspired downtown Seattle

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

With Mayor Mike McGinn getting ready to deliver his state of the city speech on Tuesday, business leaders gathered for the annual State of Downtown Economic Forum. Crosscut Publisher Greg Shaw provides these highlights:

Seattle’s downtown merchants and leaders envision a “New Urban,” and they invited the loyal opposition in Vancouver, B.C., to show them how to get there. This morning’s 2013 State of Downtown Economic Forum at the Westin drew nearly 1,000 leaders, including plenty of mayoral candidates.

Brent Toderian, Vancouver’s consulting city planner and urbanist, presented a friendly and frankly inspiring talk about the road his leadership took to become one of the most liveable cities in the world. He laid down the gauntlet by presenting all the metrics by which Vancouver ranks first, including one that ruffled a few feathers — best coffee city. “Competition between cities is good,” he chuckled.

Density done right, Toderian argued, addresses a range of pressing city issues: housing affordability, rising costs for energy, climate change, an aging population, public health and civic engagement.

Vancouver’s goal is to be the greenest city and one of the most family-friendly. To get there, they've emphasized land use and smart transportation design — what he called “the power of nearness.”

In her annual address on the state of downtown, Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Kate Joncas pointed  out that Seattle has more apartment and condo units under construction than any other metro area outside of Houston. Her number-filled and often humorous talk focused on how downtown must become more child-friendly. There are already 3,000 kids living in downtown’s three square miles. She argued for a new downtown public school. Schools and day care have been instrumental in Vancouver’s downtown success.

One city councilman said after the gathering that Vancouver’s story is a little rosy and largely the result of Asian investment. He also pointed out that the central control Vancouver imposes may not go over so well in Seattle.

Roach home free

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

A Senate committee today released documents related to an investigation of misbehavior toward staff and colleagues by Sen. Pam Roach. As Crosscut's John Stang reported last night, a closed Senate committee decided against any sanctions for verbally abusing a staff member last March. Stang updates the situation:

Roach, R-Auburn, declined to comment today about Tuesday's conclusion of an investigation of her treatment of staff members. She said she might publicly discuss the issue "in a couple days." The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee unanimously decided Tuesday to close the investigation, with no sanctions to be levied.

The committee publicly released today a Dec. 17 draft report and a final Jan. 15 report into three incidents involving Roach, which contain no new significant revelations beyond what has already been reported. No blame was assigned in two incidents, one involving inadvertent contact with a staff member during a period when such contact was forbidden and another involved a politically-oriented, but not personal, shouting match with another senator during a meeting. She was found to blame for verbally abusing a staff member last March, with no sanctions levied. However, her behavior has led to upgrades in the Senate's respect-in-the-workplace policies. 

Roach had been banned from the Republican Caucus in 2010, her staff privileges denied because of verbally abusing staff members. Her access to staff was recently reinstated because Roach was needed to give a 23-Republican-two-Democrat alliance a one-vote majority in the Senate. 

No sick leave for you, Seattle!

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

Senate Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, has signed on as a co-sponsor to two bills to gut sick leave protections passed by Seattle and prevent any other cities from requiring companies to provide paid sick leave. SB 5728 would exclude any localities from acting on sick leave and put any decisions into the hands of the state Legislature. SB 5726, dubbed by opponents as the "Burger King Exemption Bill," would say that no city could apply a sick leave measure to a corporation headquartered outside the city.Really, Senators? Locally owned businesses would still be required to foot sick-day bills, but Tom (who has been accused of Seattle bashing) and his Republican pals would protect mega-corporations from the whims of the big bad city. The prime sponsor on both bills is Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia.

Washington is No. 1. Or close.

at 4:26pm by Joe Copeland

A Tacoma-based website, Camp666, has rolled out an amply documented (well, some photographs are included) posting on "a few things that make Washington one of the most superior states in the union."The first reason, according to writer Joe Korbuszewski: "If you've been to one beach in the US, you've been to them all. Warm sand, sunshine, girls in bikinis, boardwalks and blah blah blah. In Washington, our beaches are made of rocks because sand is for sissies. Our freezing waters, howling winds and constant rain force our women to wear at least three layers."

Tuesday 12 Feb, 2013

The Reichert sticks up for VAWA. Sharing bikes & prejudices? M's heart Felix.

Felix inked

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

Felix Hernandez will be a Mariner for years to come. The team sent an email today announcing a 2 p.m. Wednesday press conference and contract signing with the All-Star pitcher. Reports say that the expected $175 million contract may have undergone some minor adjustments after a medical test suggested the possibility of elbow problems. Or maybe the Mariners noticed that some pitchers come back from elbow surgery throwing faster than ever. Which, in Hernandez's case, would be very fast.

Violence Against Women Act

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

The U.S. Senate gave overwhelming, bipartisan passage to a renewal and expansion of the landmark Violence Against Women Act, broadening protections for Native American women, sexual minorities and immigrants. The bill faces an uncertain future in the House of Representatives, where the retrograde Republican leadership balked at the expansions last year.Joel Connelly at seattlepi.com reports that Eastside Republican Congressman Dave Reichert joined 16 other House Republicans in signing a letter urging the GOP leadership to allow a vote to pass the measure. Connelly also notes that the three other House Republicans from the state — Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Jaime Herrera Beutler and Doc Hastings — did not sign. Perhaps they understand law enforcement and violence against women and minorities better than former sheriff Reichert, who worked the Green River Killer case?

Bike sharing for the white and wealthy

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

Bike sharing has a date with Seattle. Starting next year, the Puget Sound Bike Share program will include 500 bikes in 50 locations, according to a City Council discussion this morning reported by Publicola. Incredibly, none will be south of I-90 or in West Seattle.Publicola's Erica C. Barnett is appropriately indignant: "Puget Sound Bike Share will initially cater to wealthier, whiter neighborhoods, while areas like the Rainier Valley (areas that, incidentally, include light rail stations that would be natural homes for bike-sharing kiosks) are left out." Barnett notes that, unless the service takes off, the Rainier Valley might not get any stations until 2018, and then only a pilot basis.

Layoff relaxation 

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

With its sale to Sound Publishing, The Herald in Everett faces large scale layoffs, requirements that people re-apply for jobs that are saved and the usual tensions that go with such things. An internal memo from Human Resources at the paper, which is still owned by the Washington Post until the sale is finalized, informs employees that chair massages will be offered to reduce tensions. That's pretty standard for a good workplace (and The Herald has always been a top notch one). But the message adds, "Cost is $20 for 12 minutes or $40 for 30 minutes. They accept cash, check or credit cards." Perhaps Don Graham, CEO of the Post, would like to call the message group with

Four attacks on women

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

Four women are now known to have been targets in a series of assaults in north Seattle. Seattlepi.com reports that police are investigating whether at least some of the attacks are connected. 

Fat, cloudy Tuesday

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

Enjoying the cloudy skies and chance of rain that go with Mardi Gras in Seattle? Hey, you could have paid a lot of money to get the same weather in New Orleans. If you're still not satisfied with being stuck in the Northwest for the end of Mardi Gras, there's a Bourbon Street webcam here

A West Seattle bee garden

at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland

A High Point community activist, Lauren Englund, has been working to gain support for a West Seattle bee and pollination garden to help teach West Seattleites about the importance of bees. Is it a good idea? Not sure, but gardening, fruit and sunny days certainly look good at this point in the winter.

Monday 11 Feb, 2013

The Seattle ranks high in traffic relief. New boss at Prov Health. A winter without snow?

Boeing flies again

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing conducted its second in-air test of the troubled 787 battery system with a flight out of King County's Boeing Field. The company said the flight was uneventful. The Herald reports that Boeing has no further test flights scheduled and will analyze results from today's flight and one last Thursday. It's not clear what might be learned from just two flights. And Boeing says it won't release data from the flights. So maybe we won't hold our breath waiting for a breakthrough in the grounding of the 787 line.

New head at Providence

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Providence Health and Services today named Dr. Rod Hochman as its next CEO, to succeed longtime CEO Dr. John Koster. Providence operates 28 hospitals including 16 in Washington and Oregon, has 3,000 physicians, and employs some 64,000 people overall. Hochman was head of Seattle-based Swedish last year when it affiliated with the Catholic Providence system, which serves the West Coast states from Alaska to California, plus Montana. Hochman, who joined Providence after the affiliation, takes over as CEO and president on July 1; Koster had earlier announced his retirement for later this year.

Thank God for Metro?

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Time to stop cursing late buses: Public transit service in Seattle provides some of the best savings nationally in time traveled for commuters according to an annual study by the Texas Transportation Institute. The study found that the Seattle metropolitan area ranks eighth in the nation in the amount of time public transportation saves commuters. Seattle also scored 10th best in benefits from such transportation management measures as freeway ramp metering, use of HOV lanes and coordination of traffic signals.That's the flip side of the study's measure of the time Seattleites lose while stuck in traffic. We're the ninth worst major metropolitan area. How did the TTI calculate these numbers? The Institute says the benefits of transit are measured against how bad traffic would be if all those transit riders jumped into private cars and drove to their destinations.The Oregonian dug a little deeper today to pick Portland's transportation benefits; Portland gets the 12th most benefits from its public transportation. The Oregonian's Joseph Rose termed the contribution of public transit there "admirable." That must make Seattle service even more admirable than Portland's.

Weather hope, worries

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

With winter half over, the odds are growing that Seattle will get through the season without a significant snowfall, according to an Associated Press report based on an interview with a National Weather Service forecaster. Meanwhile, over on Cliff Mass' weather blog, there's a lengthy complaint about the lagging quality of U.S. forecasting. Mass says the Europeans outdid the National Weather Service in forecasting the east coast's recent blizzard, just as they did wth Sandy. His explanation? Feds have been neglecting weather service computing capabilities, pumping resources into high level climate change research computers.

Pope seemed frail

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Pope Benedict XVI's resignation caught the world by surprise, but his explanation of frailty made sense to a Ferndale woman who had visited him last year for the canonization of Kateri Tekakwitha, the first Native American saint. Elsa Finkbonner told KOMO radio that the pope had seemed weak. Finkbonner's son, Jake, was cured of a flesh-eating bacteria infection in 2006 after prayers to Tekakwitha. His recovery was declared a miracle, prompting the sainthood of Tekakwitha, was born to Iroquois and Algonquin parents in 1656. 

Macklemore woof woof

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

There's a new spoof of Seattle singer Macklemore labeled "Barklemore." The company behind it, The Pet Collective, has helped promote animal rescue adoptions. With Seattle singer Macklemore's "Thrift Shop" at the top of the charts and the Westminster Dog Show starting today, the timing of the video is perfect.

Load More