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Monday 11 Mar, 2013

The Ron Sims' final answer. Another transportation stumble. Inslee targets gun show loophole.

Whidbey plane crashes

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

Three military crew members apparently died when their plane crashed in Eastern Washington on a training flight from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. Lincoln County Sheriff Wade Magers told KOMO that no one survived the crash around 9 a.m. in a field near Harrington. The crew was on a routine training mission with an EA-6B Prowler, an electronic warfare plane.

Sims won't run

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

Ron Sims this morning ruled out running for mayor of Seattle. The former King County executive told KUOW's Steve Scher that he and his wife want to work on global issues, including clean water and health. "I want this to be a great city, I really do," Sims said. "But the answer is no." It's must be a relief for Mayor Mike McGinn and his election challengers. But there will be a lot of disappointed voters: Sims tied McGinn in a recent poll of voters. Without even trying.

Another self-inflicted WSDOT injury

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation this afternoon issued a report saying that human error caused the heavy damage to the ferry Walla Walla in a November accident. The department says the ferry remains out of service until at least next month as it undergoes $3 million in repairs. The report confirms that extremely basic procedures to protect lives and the ship weren't properly followed. Late last month, the department reported major mistakes on the construction of concrete pontoons for the reconstruction of the Highway 520 floating bridge.

Transportation push

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

The Downtown Seattle Association, labor and business leaders today renewed their efforts to win a state transportation financing package that includes a mechanism for King County to raise extra money for local needs. In a statement prepared for the group's press event at Pioneer Square this morning, King County Executive Dow Constantine said, “Half the payroll in this state is here in King County. To keep and grow those jobs, we must be able to move people and goods — and that means saving Metro bus service and maintaining our roads and bridges."Yes, but it might have been nice if the state had tipped city transportation supporters that another embarrasing overspending-due-to-negligence report was coming.

Inslee on guns

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee went to the floor of the state House of Representatives today to urge passage of a bill requiring background checks on all gun sales, including at gun shows and in private sales. Crosscut's Tom James is following the story to see if the measure comes to a vote today. If the bill clears the House, it would still need Senate approval.

Sports acquisitions

at 3:37pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Seahawks have reportedly acquired a wide receiver, Percy Harvin, from the Minnesota Vikings. The Sounders apparently reached a deal with Obafemi Martins, the forward for a Spanish team whom they had been pursuing — desperately, given their lack of scoring over the first two games of the season.

Friday 8 Mar, 2013

The Police reform progress. NRA-sponsored gun safety. Boeing moves more flight training.

Boeing: Another step out of here

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing today announced that it is moving flight training from Seattle to Miami, where it has been developing its flight training campus to serve airline personnel. The company said the move out of Seattle will begin with two full flight simulators for the 787. Boeing was vague about the workforce impacts, saying "the majority of the Seattle Flight Services team will not be affected, but some employees will be impacted."

Shooting closes rec centers

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle shut down recreation offices citywide while police searched for a suspect in the shooting of a man at a north Seattle parks and recreation department office. After a few hours, police posted a statement they had taken a suspect into custody. 

Meeting of mayor, monitor's minds 

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn says he has reached agreement with the federally appointed police monitor, Merrick Bobb, in order to move forward with the sweeping police reforms laid out under Bobb's recent plan. The plan wasn't itself changed, but a McGinn statement said the two agreed that it will be considered a "a living document" that can be amended. McGinn said his office would be working with City Attorney Pete Holmes' staff to revise court documents so that they incorporate his understandings with Bobb. The statement also said Bobb and McGinn will hold regular review meetings, "which the City Attorney will also attend." It sounds like, after throwing a ton of dirt at Holmes and some pebbles at Bobb, McGinn used the caveat to save face. (Nothing's permanent.) But maybe it's progress. Before the recent eruption, a well-placed source in another City Hall office predicted that McGinn and Bobb would get along perfectly well once the mayor got to know the monitor.

Seattle lifts ban on race, justice class

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda today said the district will re-instate a Center School class on race and social justice. The district suspended the class after a family complaint that it worsened racial tensions in the classroom.In his message, Banda laid out several conditions and changes, including dropping some discussion activities that had been developed for adults rather than high school students. And he ordered that a revised syllabus be checked with the College Board for Advanced Placement to make sure the class still qualifies for college credit. But Banda also was clear on the appropriateness of the subject matter: "I cannot stress enough how much I value curriculum on race and social justice." Good.

NRA program approved

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Does support for a program that has National Rifle Association connections mean NRA infiltration of Washington schools? Eight Washington Democratic senators apparently thought so, according to Crosscut's John Stang.

One of the Senate's most liberal members, Sen. Maralyn Chase, D-Shoreline, introduced a resolution to encourage exposing child care centers, preschool programs and students in grades K-3 to the 25-year-old Eddie Eagle GunSafe program. It teaches young children not to touch or play with firearms unsupervised.

The NRA's help with the program bothered some of her fellow Puget Sound Democratic senators. Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattte, pointed to an NRA logo on the program's brochure: "It looks like as advertisement [for the NRA]. I don't think it's appropriate to allow the NRA entree to the schools."

Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, replied: "This is something that the left decided is dangerous. If you're not in favor of a program to save our children, then vote, 'No.' … and explain that to your grandchildren." Chase said she opposes most stances taken by the NRA, but this program is strictly a child-safety measure, with no advocacy regarding gun issues. The resolution passed 40-8 with support from Republicans and a majority of Democrats.

Poetry contest

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

The high school basketball championships just concluded, but there's still a state championship up for grabs this weekend. Thirteen students in grades nine through 12 will compete in the finals of the poetry recitation contest on Saturday in Tacoma. Not to make 3-point shooting stars jealous, but there's more on the line than just pride. The winner receives a trip to the national finals in D.C., $200 and a $500 donation for her or his school library. The event is free, from 1 to 5 p.m. at Tacoma's Theatre on the Square, 901 Broadway. The Washington State Arts Commission, one of the sponsors, has more details and a list of the finalists here. Go, poets!

Suquamish youth on ocean acidification

at 5:08pm by Joe Copeland

Washington is on the cutting edge of ocean acidification work by states. And young people from the Suquamish tribe just may be our best messengers. Here's a really well done, quick video … in which Gov. Jay Inslee also pops up.Suquamish Coastal America Film (Seattle Aquarium) from Longhouse Media on Vimeo.

Thursday 7 Mar, 2013

The A polling wake-up for McGinn. 787 still under fire. Jewell stays calm with senators.

Mayor's race poll

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

Mike McGinn and Ron Sims both drew 15 percent of the vote in a SurveyUSA mayor's race poll which was commissioned and published by KING5.com early this afternoon. This despite the fact that Sims hasn't said yet whether he will actually challenge the mayor in a crowded primary field. Thirty-four percent surveyed were undecided. The rest of the field and their percentages are: Tim Burgess, 10 percent; Ed Murray, 9; Peter Steinbrueck, 7; Bruce Harrell, 5; Kate Martin, 3; Charlie Staadecker, 1; and David Ishii, 0. The margin of error was 3.9 percent. The poll is a smart move by KING, likely to pique public interest and jump-start discussion around the August primary. 

Inconclusive Boeing results

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

A National Transportation Safety Board report today reaches no firm conclusions on the cause of the Boeing 787 battery fire in Boston. It's certainly no help to the company's hopes of returning the 787 to regular flight service quickly. Especially given that the NTSB also announced a mid-April forum and hearing on the safety of lithium-battery technology. Chairwoman Deborah Hersman specifically mentioned a desire to "illuminate how manufacturers and regulators evaluate the safety of new technology." She's clearly putting the spotlight on the industry-friendly Federal Aviation Administration, just as it has to evaluate Boeing's efforts to create a 787 fix. 

New polio vaccine push

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

Bill Gates is throwing himself into the oh-so-close (but troubled) push to eliminate polio. Reports in the Middle East say that he will attend a Global Vaccine Summit in Abu Dhabi late next month. A ranking official for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation calls the summit "a seminal moment," with the potential to unite leaders, push medical advances and garner international support for the eradication of polio, as Australia's The National reports. The visit will also highlight other opportunities to use vaccines to make major gains for child health.

San Juans and Jewell

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

Sally Jewell, President Barack Obama's pick to be Secretary of the Interior, faced hours of confirmation hearing questions before a Senate committee today. The Seattle Times D.C. correspondent Kyung M. Song said she kept a "measured, solicitous" tone under sometimes-pointed questioning from Republicans.Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com uses the occasion to push for the Obama administration to protect 955 acres in the San Juan Islands as a national monument. Democratic Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, who warmly endorsed Jewell, are reintroducing legislation to protect the San Juan sites as a national conservation area. Unfortunately for them (and their House co-sponsors, Rick Larsen and Suzan DelBene), the bill will likely end up before the House Natural Resources Committee, which is headed by Republican Rep. Doc Hastings. And, as Connelly notes, Hastings doesn't even bother to work on conservation measures sponsored by Eastside's moderate Republican, Rep. Dave Reichert.

Whidbey, Skagit, Whatcom buses

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

Speaking of the state's Northwest corner, Seattle Transit Blog has a post advocating that the Legislature provide $6 million to maintain a three-county connector bus service between Whatcom, Skagit and Island counties. Writer Joe Kunzler says the service allows area residents "to link up with the stellar Seattle area transit network." And for the adventurous Seattle resident to head out to great getaway destinations.

Seattle U reverberations

at 4:29pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle University students are dealing with the shock of a bizarre Wednesday incident in which an outside man eating a pink ice cream cone refused to leave a law school classroom, made odd statements and ran and jumped around, knocking over tables. Law student Claire McNamara was in the class next door to the incident when it took place. (As she notes, her descriptions of the event are drawn from what students in the original class told her.)

The main issue is that there wasn't really a good response to the situation. Despite the school's issued statement, most students said it took campus security a long time to pick up the call and between 6-8 minutes to arrive, and it was actually the professor who cleared the room. She planned to stay alone in there with him, but 4-5 guys stayed with her and then campus security arrived. A lot of students are getting together today to put together a petition to the dean to fix the procedure.The professor, Madeline Kass, told The Seattle Times that the students and faculty need to have a deep discussion about security. She said time seemed to drag while security responded, but she estimated a two-to-four minute wait.

Wednesday 6 Mar, 2013

The McGinn takes a breath on police. Here come the charter school leaders. Overlooking NW racism.

Charter school commission

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Top state elected officials today announced the members of the nine-person Charter School Commission, which will oversee the voter-approved introduction of public charters. House Speaker Frank Chopp's three appointments include former state Rep. Dave Quall, often considered the most pleasant roadblock to education reform in state history. But it looks like a potentially strong group with former Seattle School Board member Steve Sundquist (appointed by Gov. Jay Inslee), former Gates Foundation and Bush administration official Cindi Williams (selected by Lt. Gov. Brad Owen), and Trish Millines Dziko, founder and CEO of the Technology Access Foundation (another Chopp pic). Of course, this is Washington, so who knows what games will be played to trip up charters? 

Eyman for Legislature

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Tim Eyman ought to run or be drafted for the Legislature, according to seattlepi.com columnist Joel Connelly. It's basically a put-up-or-shut-up challenge from the dean of political commentary. Former Gov. Chris Gregoire issued a similar challenge in early 2010. Connelly raises good questions about whether Eyman could settle down, listen to others and collaborate. He may not have the capacity to stay in his seat long enough for that. But he shouldn't be underestimated.Eyman isn't taking the invite. He emailed: "The 1.9 million voters who approved I-1185 like our efforts so we're going to keep fighting for them.  We'll do that by continuing to give the people the chance to approve policies and protections the Legislature won't." 

Microsoft fine

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Microsoft will pay a $737 million fine to the European Union. It's over the company's admitted failure to offer consumers a choice of Internet browsers. Microsoft had promised browser options in an earlier settlement of anti-trust allegations. Seattle Times' business columnist Brier Dudley sees this as a ridiculous failure by Microsoft and a ridiculously low fine. (Passing a hat around in the executive suites would cover the cost). Then Dudley digresses, comparing the shoddy decisionmaking by EU bureaucrats to the local imposition of HOV lanes on Highway 99. Arguable? Yes, but it is a worthwhile challenge to those of us comfortably encamped among the orthodox on mass transit questions.

As the mayor turns

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn is suddenly tired of fighting with City Attorney Pete Holmes. The mayor wants to sit down with Holmes and the federal police monitor, Merrick Bobb, to work out their differences. McGinn made his conciliatory remarks on KIRO Radio's Ross and Burbank Show this morning, the same forum where he tossed firecrackers a few days ago.McGinn didn't apologize, but he did say he believed that he and Holmes shared a desire to avoid the kind of public fight they've been engaged in. Holmes said he welcomed the mayor's remarks and has been open to talking at any point. But, he added, McGinn and his counsel had framed their demands so aggressively in the letter they sent him that his office would continue preparing a response unless the mayor withdrew the letter. Just to step back: Imagine the fight McGinn might have picked with Holmes if Holmes had decided to run against him for mayor, a rumored possibility? Still, if the mayor wants to cool the dramatics, better late than never. 

Northwest history of racism 

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

The Tacoma Art Museum is auctioning off a collection of precious Chinese robes that were donated decades ago by a local family, who isn't happy about the decision. It's a complicated story. The Museum acted with reasonable care. But on the Slog, Jen Graves gets to the sad core of the matter: The donation was a gesture of reconciliation by the family towards a city whose leadership led riots to drive out Chinese neighbors in the late 1800s. Now, in light of the Museum's auction plans, the generous gesture itself isn't even honored. And isn't just Tacoma that tends to forget its history, it's Seattle, too

Tuesday 5 Mar, 2013

The Begging for July 4 booms. White House urged to get after pot law. DelBene on risk list.

What, July 4 again this year?

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle is again scrounging for a Fourth of July fireworks sponsor. Seattlepi.com's Casey McNerthney reports that One Reel, the nonprofit that organizes the Lake Union show, is looking for $500,000 in donations. Otherwise, there might not be a show. Didn't we just go through this soap opera/farce last year? Do other communities wake up in March, realize July 4 is looming and dial 911, as a way to filch a few bucks for the patriotic booms? And do any of those communities boast corporations named Starbucks, Microsoft, Amazon …? 

Drug debate

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

A United Nations agency and former federal drug officials both asked the Obama administration today to stop the legalization of marijuana in Washington — Colorado too. The U.N. International Narcotics Control Board urged the administration to go to court to overturn the voter-approved state laws as a way to "ensure full compliance with the international drug control treaties on its entire territory." Eight former heads of the Drug Enforcement Administration warned the administration that it's running out of time if it wants to block the Washington and Colorado pot measures, according to Associated Press. Act! Quick! Before you think about tolerating any changes to a system that works so well!

Justice and police

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

The federal police reform monitor released his plan for overseeing changes to the Seattle Police Department's use of force. The plan included a statement praising the work of the City Council and City Attorney, but not Mayor Mike McGinn, The Seattle Times reported. McGinn quickly said the city cannot agree to anything without his say-so and pointedly included a reference to questions about the monitor's expense-reimbursement requests. City Attorney Pete Holmes, a target of McGinn wrath over his efforts to work directly with the monitor, criticized the mayor for his "counterproductive" statements.

School discipline investigation

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating possible discrimination by the Seattle School District. Investigators will look into the high rates of discipline for African American males in Seattle's schools, according to a Seattle Times report. Disparity in discipline along a number of ethnic lines is a longstanding problem in public schools, and it has received significant attention from the Obama administration.Former Seattle School Board member Steve Sundquist, who happened to be at Crosscut today for a meeting with writers and editors on school reform, called disparate discipline "an ongoing issue of board concern." He added: "It is absolutely something that is important for us as a school district." In a number of districts, the Justice Department has negotiated reform plans; it's not clear from the initial report what role Justice, which forced the city's police reform effort, might eventually assume in any work on discipline. The state Legislature, Sundquist noted, is also working on discipline-related reforms that would limit the amount of time students lose to any suspensions. 

A Gregoire appointment

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

Port of Seattle commissioners today appointed Courtney Gregoire, daughter of former Gov. Chris Gregoire, to fill the vacancy on the commission created when Gael Tarleton won a seat in the Legislature. Next up for the troubled port: Filling the vacancy created by the resignation of Commissioner Rob Holland. Since Gregoire is a (presumably) well-paid Microsoft attorney, she may not be a fierce advocate for fellow Commissioner Tom Albro's proposal that Port pay rise from $6,000 per year to $42,000. And, hey, at least one Gregoire got the job she wanted this week.

DelBene 'vulnerable' in 2014

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

The Democratic Congressional Committee today put new U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene on a list of "Frontline" members it will help in re-election bids — basically a list of the most vulnerable members the party thinks it needs to defend in the next election. Republicans quickly distributed an email that DelBene sent to supporters calling her inclusion on the most vulnerable list "an honor," and asking for contributions. A National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman, Alleigh Marré, said the group shares "DelBene's enthusiasm in being named to the Democrats' vulnerable list." DelBene might be at risk if 2014 is a big Republican year, but otherwise her district should be fairly safe territory for a Democratic incumbent.

Monday 4 Mar, 2013

The Gregoire loses twice over. Highway package faces voter hostility. Liquor board needs more time on pot hire.

Holding our breath on marijuana

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

The state Liquor Control Board says it won't meet its goal of hiring an adviser on marijuana this week. There are far more applicants than expected, AP reports. Who'd have thought there'd be so much interest in getting paid to be a marijuana consultant? When the Liquor Board screening is done, maybe we can ask the runners-up to apply for the quality control team now examining the cracked pontoons for the new 520 floating bridge.

No Gregoire

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Former Gov. Chris Gregoire lost out twice today on a possible appointment to the Obama cabinet. The president nominated Gina McCarthy, head of the Environmental Protection Agency's air pollution division, to be the new EPA administrator, and tapped MIT nuclear physicist Ernie Moniz as his new Secretary of Energy. Gregoire had been mentioned as a possible candidate for both positions. The former governor got passed over last month when President Obama named Sally Jewell, REI's CEO, to head the Interior Department.McCarthy's nomination will likely light up the right wing. She's a champion of taking action to curb climate change, who helped Mitt Romney tackle global warming-related pollution when he was governor of Massachusetts. That was before Mitt started pandering to his party's base on science-y stuff, when he still saw climate change as a threat rather than a hoax.

Gas tax skepticism

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Pollster Stuart Elway has found that state voters heavily oppose hikes in the gas tax and annual car tab fees. That's according to The Seattle Times. Those taxes are the bedrocks of a big transportation package proposed by Democrats in the state House of Representatives this session. Elway's survey also found that 70 percent of respondents believe the transportation system is satisfactory or better. Only 7 percent think it's in poor shape. That disparity could derail the push by businesses, labor and some Olympia leaders to create a sense of urgency around getting a big transportation package before voters this year.

Bike apology traced

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Republican state Rep. Ed Orcutt has apologized for writing that taxes on bicycling are warranted because cyclists, you know, breathe. And, uhh, pollute the air by exhaling all that carbon dioxide. (At least, Orcutt concedes that excess carbon dioxide is a danger.) Scott Sunde at seattlepi.com traces the evolution of Orcutt's apology for his irrelevant, not to mention ridiculous, emphasis on breathing bicyclists as a cause of global warming. But, hey, if a legislator can swallow his or her pride long enough to retract a nutty statement, more power to them. Offer that lawmaker a free spot in the Seattle to Portland bike event.

Healthier snacks

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle City Council this afternoon mandated that 50 percent of the vending machine items in all city buildings be healthy. Don't worry: The new fiat won't change the lineup of vending maching choices at city rec centers. They have offered all healthy snacks for several years (although, as a Seattle Times story last month noted, potato chips qualify as "healthy."). Since we can't think of any council members who really need to lose weight, they may just be sincere about wanting to promote healthy options for city workers?

Water for all Seattle's kids

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

City Councilmember Jean Godden will introduce legislation on Tuesday to protect homes with children from having the water cut off over failure to pay utility bills. Godden said close to 70 families with kids were among the nearly 140 who had their water shut off last year. She said that offering families with kids some emergency assistance on utility bills up to two times a year could essentially end the problem. There's currently a once-a-year limit on emergency assistance, which can be as much as $340. Godden says she was surprised to learn that some Seattle kids have been living in homes with no running water.

Friday 1 Mar, 2013

The More light rail ahead? Sacramento lunges for the hoop. Boeing still has one friend.

Sacramento makes it move

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Kevin Johnson tweeted this morning that it is "a proud day for Sacramento": Investors submitted their bid to buy the city's NBA basketball team, meeting the league's deadline for any bid to compete with a Seattle group's $525 million purchase contract. The Sacramento Bee reported that the bid will be "very close" to Seattle's. Doesn't a proud day for Sacramento make you feel almost as good as Howard Schultz's balloon-festooned press conference to announce the Sonics' sale to Clay Bennett?

Sound Transit moving ahead

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

Sound Transit's board of directors is eyeing another major bond to be approved by voters that would finance expanded rail lines. According to Seattle Transit Blog, the agency will study eight possible new lines, including Lynnwood-Everett, Redmond-Kirkland-UW and Downtown-West Seattle-Burien. No need to start losing sleep about which way to vote just yet: The directors would like to consider a 2016 election vote.

ANA stands by its manufacturer

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

All Nippon Airways, the largest buyer of Boeing 787 planes, said today that it plans to continue buying the planes. After meeting with a Boeing representative, the new ANA president expressed confidence that Boeing is making progress, according to Reuters. The ANA chief, Shinichiro Ito, did say that a grounding of the planes into June would present bigger challenges. The airline has already canceled all 787 flights through May. The Federal Aviation Administration's initial analysis of Boeing's proposed fixes is expected next week.

Sex-trafficking study

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia:

The Washington House will consider a sex-trafficking bill that gained unanimous approval in the Senate on Thursday. Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles' bill would create a task force to study best practices for combating the child sex trade. The committee would collect information on sexually exploited children, review recommendations from law enforcement agencies and make its own recommendations for tackling the problem.

Where not to go this weekend

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

The City Attorney's Office says it has filed papers declaring Citrus, a nightclub in South Lake Union, "a chronic public nuisance."  The declaration is part of an attempt to resolve problems with the club that have included a triple shooting, late night fights, assaults and hit-and-run accidents. Besides police concerns, the nearby Fred Hutchinson Center/Cancer Care Alliance has also expressed worry about the safety of patients, visitors and staff, who come and go at all hours, according to Kimberly Mills of the City Attorney's Office.

Weekend closures

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

There are a lot of traffic closures this weekend. The state Department of Transportation bluntly advises: "Add extra time to your trip due to several closures in Seattle and large special events." Some of the biggest:

  • The Alaskan Way Viaduct for daytime inspections;
  • A weekend-long closure of the southbound I-5 University District exit at NE 45th/50th streets in Seattle;
  • Night closures of up to three lanes at a time for southbound I-5 near Ravenna and
  • Saturday night to Sunday morning closure of up to three lanes of northbound I-405 between NE 85th and 160th streets.

Full details here. But, hey, if we didn't scare you into a housebound catatonic state, check out Crosscut's new weekly listing of what to do for $15 or less. 

Season opener

at 4:13pm by Joe Copeland

Speaking of big events that could affect traffic, the Sounders' host Major League Soccer's season opener Saturday at 7:30 p.m. If you haven't seen Art Thiel's look at the team, read it here. Or just watch his video.This discussion from MLS features an assistant coach at the University of Washington./p>

Thursday 28 Feb, 2013

The McGinn vs. Holmes. Court lights up a debate on taxes. Outside probe in Snohomish.

King County to examine Reardon case

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

King County sheriff's detectives will look into the filing of public requests by officials in outgoing Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon's office. Reardon resigned recently amid allegations that the records requests were being used to harass Reardon's detractors. When the detectives finish their work, the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney will look at whether any laws might have been broken in the apparent targeting of Reardon's opponents and critics. As The Herald explains, the neighboring counties are stepping in because of a tangle of potential conflicts of interest.

Court rules against Eyman

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

The state Supreme Court this morning said enough to initiatives trying to impose two-thirds majority requirements on legislative approval of tax increases. Its ruling means that any such requirement would have to come through the more difficult constitutional amendment process. The Senate's Majority Coalition said it would, nevertheless, keep tax measures from receiving a floor vote, unless they had two-thirds support. Crosscut's John Stang and Tom James have that story here.  Many Republicans want to send a constitutional amendment to voters. And the reaction is only beginning, as you would expect with a landmark ruling. The Stranger's Dominic Holden has fun with the decision, mocking Gov. Jay Inslee about his unwillingness to break his "stupid" pledge not to raise taxes, but predicting he'll do so anyways sometime in the next few years.

Politician on politician action

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn appeared to be digging in today for a fight with City Attorney Pete Holmes over the city's legal representation in its police department reform. On Thursday, he told KIRO Radio that Holmes needs to set up an "ethical screen" to keep himself out of negotiations over the handling of the reform process.The fight emerged Wednesday when McGinn accused Holmes of unethically sharing information with the independent monitor of the reform process. The mayor believes Holmes overstepped his authority by trying to independently negotiate the plan for reform oversight with monitor Merrick Bobb. Holmes, however, believes his communications with Bobb fell within his proper authority. It's hardly the first fight between McGinn, a bulldog attorney himself, and Holmes on the reform process; or, for that matter, between McGinn and the City Council.

Crane index

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

The city of Bellevue is starting to look hopefully to the sky — for construction cranes. At the height of the 2007 construction boom, a posting on the city's website notes that there were 21 large construction cranes in the city. Currently, there's a total of … one. But the news release says that city officials see signs of construction picking up both downtown and in the nearby Bel-Red corridor, which will be connected by a Sound Transit light-rail line.The city has a bit of a checkered history with cranes. In 2006, Matthew Ammon, a 31-year-old Microsoft attorney, was killed in his apartment when a nearby crane collapsed. The accident led the Legislature and Gov. Chris Gregoire to make changes in state oversight of cranes.

Sometimes we do get along

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

Olympia erupted today over whether it was good or bad for a court to overturn a voter-approved measure. The mayor and the city attorney aren't getting along. It's been kinda rainy. But this newly posted video highlights a moment where a ballot measure brought a lot of the state together. Yes, it's promotional, but it's also rather heartwarming.

Wednesday 27 Feb, 2013

The Inslee talks coal trains. FAA nixes immediate 787 tests. Anti-gun organizers step up.

Gun control campaign coming

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

Activists are close to launching what The Seattle Times calls "the state's biggest gun-control campaign in years." The top priority: universal background checks for all gun sales. Venture capitalist Nick Hanauer will support the effort, which will reach out to PTAs and religious organizations. The story by The Times' Brian M. Rosenthal reports that the idea grew out of holiday party discussions in the wake of the Sandy Hook school massacre. One of the organizers is ex-Seattle City Councilmember Tina Podlodowski, who wrote a widely distributed op-ed on the subject for Crosscut in mid-December. 

Inslee gets into coal specifics

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee promises the state will consider an extensive list of issues in reviewing coal port proposals in Bellingham and elsewhere. In an exclusive interview with Crosscut writers and editors today, the governor mentioned such factors as train-crossing delays in cities large and small, health effects from coal dust blowing off trains and even the economic effects of giving Chinese firms access to "cheap, dirty power" that isn't available to Boeing and other U.S. companies that compete in the same markets. Inslee made it clear that mitigation is a possibility, noting that the state could negotiate with BNSF for crossing improvements. But he also said he doesn't view coal ports as a simple jobs vs. the environment decision, because the economic effects could also hurt some companies here. "We are going to have a very comprehensive, thorough evaluation for the people of the state of Washington," he said. "We are going to do our jobs."There's an early media story line that Inslee isn't on top of policy details. Really? It didn't sound like it on coal trains. Crosscut will have more on the Inslee interview from Olympia correspondent John Stang later today. 

Cool your jets, Mr. Boeing

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

The Federal Aviation Administration came out with a sharp denial today of the Wall Street Journal's suggestion that it will allow Boeing to conduct test flights as it works on a fix to the 787 battery problem. Reuters reports a tersely worded FAA email saying, "Reports that we are close to allowing 787 test flights are completely inaccurate." Reuters also notes that the FAA intends to allow public comments on its original decision to ground the planes. But there was a surprisingly upbeat sign in a brief New York Times story from Tuesday:

Battery experts say the company’s plan generally seems on track. But Donald R. Sadoway, a professor of materials chemistry at M.I.T., said he thinks Boeing should add a water-cooling system or a fan to provide more assurance that the battery cells will not overheat.The overall assessment is at least somewhat promising. More importantly, that kind of specific criticism is something that Boeing's engineers can learn from.

Bellevue land-use changes

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

Bellevue overhauled its land-use codes this week and initial reactions seem to indicate the city has done itself proud. Seattle Transit Blog describes the measure, passed by the City Council on Monday, as opening the way for Sound Transit to move forward on its planning for light-rail in the city. Neighbors see the setbacks between homes and a rail line as a big win for protecting property values, according to the Bellevue Reporter. It was a unanimous vote, something surprising on the often-divided council. Highly capable Councilmember John Chelminiak told the Bellevue Reporter, "I think this is a great outcome."

Hands for a Bridge

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

This is so Seattle, and hopeful, that we can't resist mentioning it. A Roosevelt High School group, Hands for a Bridge, is sending groups of students to South Africa and Northern Ireland this spring to talk about the handling of cultural and ethnic differences. As a fund-raiser, the group will show "My So Called Enemy," a film about six Israeli and Palestinian teenage girls working for mutual understanding and justice.Speaking of building understanding across that particular divide: Seattle's Middle East Peace Camp for Children is taking registrations for its summer sessions. The camp sessions began in 2002, in response to the 9/11 terror attacks.

Code talkers: The tech version

at 3:41pm by Joe Copeland

A video on the value of teaching computer code to young people had hit some 124,000 views by early afternoon today, little more than 24-hours after its launch. It's an inspiring piece with loads of Northwest connections, including Bill Gates talking about how his first coding project was to set up the computer scheduling of Lakeside School classes. He says it allowed him to decide which girls would be in his classes. And the look on his face suggests it is true. That devil.The piece makes a strong case for including coding in K-12 education. Some comments seem to say, "No, not one more thing to be prescribed for schools." Well, yes, change and the need for improvements never stop.

Tuesday 26 Feb, 2013

The Seattle home prices climb. Ex-officer knows nothing. Bad driving in Seattle and Tacoma?

Seattle home prices up

at 1:37pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle home prices rose modestly in 2012, but remained a good 25 percent below their peak levels. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that after hitting their lowest point in early 2012, by December prices were 8.2 percent higher than they had been at the end of 2011. That fits with the rest of the nation, which has seen strong recovery in home prices.

Teachers want improvements, too

at 1:37pm by Joe Copeland

Education reform advocates today released new survey results that they say show public support for more data-driven education reform. Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia:

Excellent Schools Now — a coalition of about 40 education groups — polled 500 teachers and 500 voters in late 2012 and early 2013. The survey's results showed that 82 percent of the voters and 47 percent of the teachers believe financial and student performance information should be used to determine whether schools are serving kids well. Forty-four percent of the voters and 63 percent of the teachers said that the K-12 education system is headed in the right direction. Seventy-seven percent of the voters and 60 percent of the teachers believe that public schools are not doing a good enough job to help students compete in the workplace and help the economy grow. And 90 percent of the voters and 80 percent of teachers believe students should have to pass math, English and science exams to graduate from high school.

“The polling numbers show that most voters and teachers agree that significant changes are needed to our K-12 education system to better prepare our students for college and work,” said Chris Korsmo, head of the League of Education Voters, in a statement. “When our state Legislature lives up to its duty to fully fund basic education, we need to know whether those new dollars, along with current ones, are increasing student learning.”It's interesting to note that while their views are broadly similar, parents and teachers do show some differences: The parents seem to be a little more focused on the need for improvements.

Food truck to restaurant

at 1:37pm by Joe Copeland

The popular El Camión food truck trio apparently has a hit with its first brick-and-mortar restaurant of the same name. The new spot, which opened early in the month across the street from Ballard High School, has received a good reaction, according to a Ballard News-Tribune report today."It's our truck inside," owner Scott McGinnis tells the paper. He plans to expand the range of dishes beyond the tacos and burritos usually ordered at his three trucks. McGinnis says people who love the trucks' food are pleased to have an option to avoid standing in the rain. And the wind and cold. He appears to have August covered, too, with outdoor seating.

Ex-Seattle officer knows his rights

at 1:37pm by Joe Copeland

A retired Seattle police officer's car was used in a scary road-rage incident in Spokane Monday, according to Spokane's KXLY TV station. The driver of the car threatened to kill a man at a 7-Eleven who questioned his driving, then drove toward him at high speed. He managed to jump out of the way, but suffered a serious knee injury. The retired officer wasn't in the car, but he's not saying much about who might have been driving. KXLY reported that witnesses had "no trouble remembering" the license plate: It was a four-digit Law Enforcement Memorial plate.Here's the report, which was posted Monday. 

Routinely bad drivers

at 1:37pm by Joe Copeland

A Seattle area YouTube user has started a series of reports on bad driving. He says he is using a dashboard-mounted camera to record our collective driving inferiority. Guess it all depends on your definition of bad driving. Is Seattle's rolling stop routine any different than driving habits in the rest of the country?

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