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Friday 15 Mar, 2013

The Dear Armed Leader is looking at us. Boeing hopeful. Online option for youth in crisis.

Fox News attractions

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

A country song sings the praises of the women of Fox News. OK, some pretty good humor (especially about Bill Clinton). But what time is Rachel Maddow on MSNBC again? 

520 Bridge closed open

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

The state Department of Transportation made a last-minute decision this afternoon to leave the Highway 520 floating bridge open all weekend. The department was concerned about bad weather affecting planned construction work, which will be rescheduled. There are plenty of other lesser traffic projects, including night closures on up to three southbound lanes of I-5 from NE Ravenna Boulevard to Boylston Avenue North. Details here.

Mercer Islanders vs. Tolls

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Attorneys working for Mercer Island have asked the Federal Highway Administration to block any tolls on the I-90 floating bridge. Mercer Island Patch describes it as part of a larger City Council strategy to fight the tolling proposal with lobbying and a possible lawsuit. KOMO News notes that lawmakers will be holding town hall meetings with constituents in the district this weekend (details here). Mercer Islanders should feel free to offer their thoughts. Or just whine. Unlike the rest of us, Legislators don't make fun of the first world problems of their own constituents — especially the ones from wealthy zip codes.

Suicide prevention goes online

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Volunteers of America Western Washington is expanding service on its online chat portal for those in crisis. Herald columnist Julie Muhlstein tells a good story of how young people have increasingly turned to online forums rather than traditional phone hotlines when they are in crisis or considering suicide. Considering this week's state report on how many young people feel depressed or consider suicide, it's a great resource for the VOA (with a lot of volunteer help from college students in the Everett area) to provide. 

Seattle, we might have a problem

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

The Obama administration is responding to the obvious implications of North Korea's nuclear threats: Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today that the Pentagon is beefing up missile defenses from Alaska to California. As The New York Times noted, Hagel concedes that no missile defense system is completely secure. Uhh-huh. The 14 new ground based interceptors will be installed by 2017 for a total of 44 along the coast. But the U.N. will hold its next review of the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2015. Maybe the United States would like to reconsider the pretense that it can avoid commitments to total nuclear disarmament while expecting the rest of the world to be serious about nonproliferation.

Boeing progress

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing officials are giving varying estimates on how long before its 787 planes return to regular service. A fairly cautious exec told Associated Press today that the basic testing for a battery fix should be done in two weeks, but the timing of a return to service is up to the feds. But at an earlier briefing in Tokyo, one Boeing official talked about being back "in weeks," according to the Chicago Tribune. In any case, it's clear the company is feeling more optimistic.

Earthquake risk

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

A new report in Oregon says a massive earthquake and tsunami would kill more than 10,000 Oregonians, Associated Press reports. The study looked at an inevitable event (timing uncertain) like the ones that hit Fukushima in 2011 and Washington's coast in 1700. The report notes that Japan had done much more to prepare than Oregon. Ditto for Washington.

Thursday 14 Mar, 2013

The Hiring freeze at Seattle schools. Call for gun-check initiative. Bike leader shifting gears.

Seattle film in PBS contest

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle filmmaker Eric Becker's short film, "Honor the Treaties," follows the story of fellow Seattle artist and photographer Aaron Huey, who spent seven years photographing the violence and suffering of life on South Dakota's Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation. At some point in his experience, Huey turned from journalist to activist and joined up with prominent street artist Shepard Fairey to create a campaign honoring the people of the Lakota tribe. Now the film has made it into the PBS Online Film Festival and viewers can vote for their favorite among 25 short films through March 22.   

Watch 2013 Festival | Honor the Treaties on PBS. See more from PBS Online Film Festival.

Tom McCall anniversary in Oregon

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Speaking of Oregon, Crosscut writer Floyd McKay will speak next Thursday at an Oregon Historical Society panel discussion honoring the 100th anniversary of former Oregon Gov. Tom McCall's birth. McCall, a Republican, helped define the Northwest's national reputation for independent, progressive thinking with early concerns about growth and the environment. A few years ago, McKay wrote a Crosscut article about how the Nixon administration's placing of deadly chemical weapons in Oregon transformed McCall from a cautious administrator to an activist — just as the first Earth Day celebrations occurred. Details on the event are here.

Coal port delay

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Worried about a rejection, the company behind a proposed coal export facility in Boardman, Oregon, has reluctantly agreed to wait until Sept. 1 for a state decision on a permit application, The Oregonian reported this afternoon. Ambre Energy also finally agreed to respond to state Department of Lands requests for more information related to the effects of exporting coal for burning overseas. Writer Scott Learn said that port developer Ambre hopes its facility is small enough to get a quicker review than those proposed for Bellingham and Longview.

Health survey: Pot up, tobacco down

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

A new student survey shows the state's high school students are more likely to smoke pot than tobacco. And that's before the legalization of marijuana hits with full force, as AP reports. New state Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Kevin Quigley noted that alcohol use was declining, but said many young people feel they need greater support in making smart choices. More than a quarter of students from 12 to 17 years old said they had been so sad they dropped their usual activities for two weeks or more. And a sixth had considered suicide. A fact sheet on substance usage results has some tips for adults.

Gun initiative

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

The Herald in Everett's editorial board today called for a state initiative to require background checks for all gun sales. Some gun-control advocates have already signaled they might run an initiative in the wake of the failure of the House Democrats to close the gun-show loophole. Seattle Democratic Rep. Reuven Carlyle sees one last chance for legislative action: Members are holding town hall meetings in their own districts this weekend. Until members of both parties have a chance to hear the reaction of soccer moms to inaction on guns, he says, "it is a little early" to jump to an initiative.  

Bike club leader pedaling away

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Cascade Bicycle Club Exeuctive Director Chuck Ayers announced today that he is leaving, and a national search will look for a replacement. He says the club's membership recently surpassed 15,000 and its influence is growing, but it's "the right time" to move on.Only in Seattle would that be real political news — OK, maybe in Portland, too. But remember that an attempt by the club's board to ease out Ayers a few years ago indeed led to an ouster: a member-driven recall election that removed most of the board. His message seems to aim at heading off any to-the-barricades reaction, writing, "Though this may be a surprise to you, I have been thinking about this transition for a while." We trust that's true: The club's emphasis under Ayers on all-around environmental and economic sustainability is admirable.  

Ovarian cancer and the night shift

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

(added at 5:11 p.m.)A study done at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center has found a possible link between ovarian cancer and working a night shift. The study also said women who consider themselves night owls may have less risk of cancer from working a night shift.The study, just published in the Britain-based Occupational Health and Medicine journal, found a 24 percent increase in the risk of developing an advanced case of the cancer among those who had worked night shifts. The risk of developing an early stage cancer went up 49 percent. The authors, led by Dr. Parveen Bhatti, said the link to night-shift work occurred in statistically significant numbers among women aged 50 and above.A news release said the International Agency for Research on Cancer considers work that disrupts the body’s normal sense of time a cause of cancer. Researchers have long suspected a link between night-time exposure to light and increased risk of breast cancer. 

School hiring freeze

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Public Schools said this afternoon that it is imposing a partial hiring and spending freeze. The announcement mentions uncertainty around the amount of education money and federal budget cuts. The district says an anticipated $2.5 million in savings from the freeze will help close a potential $18 million shortfall for the coming school year's budget.The hiring portion of the freeze applies to "non-critical" positions. The district separately said it is searching to fill a vacant position of regional executive director overseeing Southeast Seattle, where a number of the district's underperforming schools are. 

Budget shortfall

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

The state's budget gap grew today with a report saying some key services will cost an extra $300 million. That's primarily because of more use of Medicaid services than expected, according to Associated Press. Lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee have essentially put off doing anything about 2013-15 budget decisions until today's report and a much more important revenue forecast next Wednesday. 

Wednesday 13 Mar, 2013

The The pope is a WHAT? Inslee climate change bill advancing. Huge park near Bellingham.

Mariners' strong suit: Ads

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Mariners have their new ad campaign posted on their website. Hopefully, this is the year when the team finally has both a good ad campaign and a good team.  

From mayoral hopeful to Chinese sports impresario

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

Former Seattle Supersonic star James Donaldson is heavily engaged in teaching and sports in China, now spending eight months a year there, according to the locally based [contextChina] news site. Donaldson took a decent shot at becoming mayor of Seattle in the 2009 primary. Bet he's having more fun with the China ventures.

Starbucks-free zone

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

It's rainy in Seattle. So, of course, we want to get away somewhere. So, what if you really want to get away from all things Seattle? Like, even … Starbucks? Monica Guzman at The Seattle Times just put up a fun look at where in the U.S. is as far away from a Starbucks location as possible. Spoiler alert: We will only tell you that you'd be in a really great national park.

Climate change bill

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee's hopes for legislative action on climate made progress in Olympia today — of sorts, anyway. Crosscut's John Stang writes:

The Senate voted today to create a taskforce to tackle climate change in Washington by a 37-12 vote. Fourteen members of the 23-Republican-two-Democrat majority coalition — including Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina — joined 23 minority Democrats to pass the bill. Ten of the most-conservative Republicans, plus majority coalition member Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch and aisle-crossing Sen. Brian Hatfield, D-Raymond, opposed the bill. It is opposed by some major business lobbying organizations.

The Senate bill — introduced by Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island — is a compromise. The Senate weakened the governor's role in the effort, removed language about seeking clean energy sources and expanded the scope to consider the state's current efforts to reduce carbon emissions. Inslee is worried about the economic losses the state might suffer due to climate change. Health costs, loss of irrigation from smaller snowpacks, the death of shellfish due to ocean acidification and a rising risk of forest fires will likely cost Washington's economy $10 billion by 2020. Another version of the bill is going through the House.

The pope is a what? 

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

Pope Francis I is, in a sense, tied to the Jesuit colleges in the Northwest — Seattle and Gonzaga — since he is a member of the church's Jesuit order. But Jesuits almost never are bishops, much less cardinals. The president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, the Rev. George F. Lucey, sent out an email calling it "an historic day."  The Rev. Pat Howell, S.J., rector of the Jesuit residence at Seattle U., will talk at 12:30 p.m. on Thursday about the new pope, Jorge Mario Bergoglio from Argentina. In an email, he said he's preparing furiously for the event (at Wyckoff Auditorium in the Bannan Building):

He is the first Jesuit ever elected Pope, and in this regard, it's rather unusual, since every Jesuit takes a simple vow not to seek or accept ecclesial honors, namely not to be a bishop. Exceptions are obviously made when the pope insists that this particular Jesuit is the right person for this diocese, [which happens] often enough in missionary countries where there are fewer priests. So not only is it unusual for a Jesuit to be a bishop. Until now, it's been unheard of for a Jesuit to be pope.

It's highly significant that he takes the name of Francis I. Francis of Assisi tried to more faithfully follow in the footsteps of Jesus with a life of great simplicity and poverty. The name also reminds us that the two highly successful interfaith gatherings of world religious leaders were both held at Assisi — one under John Paul II and the other under Benedict XVI.  Assisi, the home of Francis, has come to symbolize the desire for peace and understanding among all people of faith.He also said the new pope has been active in social justice causes.Popes and conservatives have a history of distrusting the Jesuits for their scholarliness and engagement with the world. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com has a balanced, somewhat upbeat first impression of the choice. The Stranger — reliably — tells us that the new pope is just as bad as the last one. Fair points about church belief on homosexuality, marriage and gender matters in general. But it could be a case of media orthodoxy remaining unwavering in its assessment of a changing world.

Really really big park

at 4:27pm by Joe Copeland

The Whatcom County Council has approved a huge new park around Lake Whatcom east of Bellingham. The park system will plan some 55 miles of trails, according to the Bellingham Herald. The 8,880 acres are more than all of Seattle's parks combined or, as Crosscut's Bob Simmons wrote once, large enough to hold 16 Discovery parks. 

Tuesday 12 Mar, 2013

The WSDOT mayhem. 787 moves ahead. Google expanding in Kirkland.

Campaign contributions

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

Big last-minute campaign contributions would become legal under a bill that responds to court decisions striking down limits on political giving. Crosscut's John Stang reports:

Washington's Senate voted 45-4 Tuesday to eliminate a limit on combined campaign contributions of more than $50,000 to any statewide election or $5,000 to a non-statewide campaign within 21 days of the general election.

This legislative elimination was prompted by a U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that Washington's current law on this matter is unconstitutional. This is part of a bill by Sen.Pam Roach, R-Auburn, which was introduced at the request of the Washington Public Disclosure Commission. The rest of the bill consists of housekeeping measures.

Sen. Bob Hasegawa, D-Seattle, contended  the bill should be rewritten to back up the state's interest in giving voters access to contribution information. The court held the state hadn't shown adequate reason for the 21-day blocking of contibutions. Sens. Hasegawa, David Frockt, D-Seattle, Sharon Nelson, D-Seattle, and Maralyn Chase, D- Shoreline, voted against the bill, which now goes to the House.

New special ed director

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

In an email today, Seattle Public Schools Superintendent José Banda announced that he had hired a veteran of the field to be the district's new executive director of special education. Zakiyyah McWilliams has held major special education positions in the Compton Unified School District outside Los Angeles since 2007, and she has also had experience in other parts of education. As Seattle Times education expert Linda Shaw notes, Seattle has a history of problems with a lack of strong leadership in special education.

Pelosi: Leave Washington pot alone

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi wants the Justice Department to leave marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado alone. Joel Connelly reports on a Pelosi interview with the Denver Post editorial board, where she appeared with a Colorado congressman who is co-sponsoring a federal marijuana legalization bill introduced by Oregon Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer. Blumenauer's measure won't go anywhere for now, but good for him.

New Seattle Weekly editor

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Weekly today announced a new editor-in-chief, Mark Baumgarten, who had been editor-at-large for City Arts, a cultural  publication. The statement from the publisher is all about Baumgarten's ties to music journalism. News? Well, there are some good news people left, but the departure of capable editor Mike Seely looks more than ever like a signal of new owner Sound Publishing's priorities, which aren't the news.  

WSDOT shakeup continues

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

Jerry Lenzi, a key leader on the 520 bridge project, assistant secretary and chief engineer of the Washington State Department of Transportation, announced he will leave his post next month. In a Monday email that Crosscut obtained, he says that he will miss co-workers and 'the work that remains to be done." Like the tremendous amount of cleaning up to be done on the 520 bridge, with the delivery of new cracked bridge pontoons, and a ferry put out of service by shoddy communications and safety practices in the state's own maintenance facility.Gov. Jay Inslee recently appointed Lynn Peterson, an adviser to Oregon's governor, as transportation secretary. She's an engineer, but much of her background appears to be in policy, particularly on the ties between sustainability and transportation. But it looks like she is being dropped into a situation where organizational sustainability is the first issue.

Boeing gets FAA blessing

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

The Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing's basic plan for redesigning and testing the battery system for its 787 airliners. The FAA also said in its announcement that Boeing can conduct limited test flights of two planes with a new containment system to deal with smoke and overheating. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said that a comprehensive series of tests will show whether the redesign works. He promised the FAA won't allow the planes back in service "unless we’re satisfied that the new design ensures the safety of the aircraft and its passengers.” 

Google expanding in Kirkland

at 3:39pm by Joe Copeland

Google is announcing an expansion of its campus in Kirkland this afternoon. The Puget Sound Business Journal had suggested in January that an expansion might bring an additional 800 employees to the 1,000 already working in Seattle and Kirkland. Whatever Google has planned is big enough that Gov. Jay Inslee plans to attend the 4:30 p.m. announcement.

Monday 11 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday 8 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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."

Thursday 7 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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. 

Wednesday 6 Mar, 2013

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

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

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. 

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.

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." 

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? 

Tuesday 5 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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!

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 …? 

Monday 4 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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