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Tuesday 19 Mar, 2013

The McGinn pulls a Corey Booker. MSFT bribery scandal bubbling. Metro slow walks RapidRide.

Microsoft bribery probe

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

The Wall Street Journal reports that U.S. Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission attorneys are examining allegations of bribery in China, Italy and Romania involving representatives of Microsoft. The report (it's behind a paywall) says that Microsoft conducted a 10-month look at the China allegations in 2010, but didn't find wrongdoing.

Airport workers

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

A report released this morning shows sharp (and embarrassing) differences between treatment of some Sea-Tac International workers and their counterparts in four other major West Coast airports. The report from Puget Sound Sage, a nonprofit, shows Sea-Tac baggage handling, cabin cleaning and wheelchair service workers making as little as $9.19 per hour, $3 to $6 per hour below workers at Los Angeles Airport and the three major Bay Area airports. And the Sea-Tac workers (employed by a private contractor) don't have the paid sick leave and health-insurance incentives found elsewhere. All of the California airports have standards for worker treatment. A spokeswoman for Puget Sound Sage said that a variety of jurisdictions, including the Port of Seattle, could institute requirements for better pay and working conditions. But the report's title, "Under the Radar," gets to one key point: Nobody has paid much attention to the fact that Seattle could do better — for employees, for the people who use the airport and for a regional economy that needs more living-wage jobs. (We've uploaded the pdf version of the report here.) 

Metro: Where's the new bus?

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

Metro Transit will delay the scheduled September start of the final two of six RapidRide bus lines. Shoreline-Downtown Seattle service on the new Line E will begin in February, and Line F (linking Burien, Tukwila, Southcenter and Renton) will launch in June. Metro blamed the delays on a variety of factors, including the need to install new fare-card reading equipment and coordinated traffic signals.In a press release, Metro General Manager Kevin Desmond said the agency had "learned clear lessons" from troubles starting its RapidRide services to Ballard and West Seattle. The statement also said the delay will mean Metro is "better able to provide the speed and reliability riders expect." Speed? The Ballard line is still waiting on that. But it is tops in ridership among the four lines. 

Food stamp challenge

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

Beginning Monday, United Way of King County wil hold its annual Hunger Action Week, which includes a food stamp challenge. Among those willing to go Monday through Saturday on $7 of food per day are, we hear, Mayor Mike McGinn and County Executive Dow Constantine will take part. Their offices just confirmed. Maybe McGinn will get a Cory Booker-like lift for his popularity. Also taking part are the chairs of United Way's annual campaign, Dan and Annie Wilson. For a family of four, the allotment goes to $22 of food daily. If you're feeling adventurous and committed, here's a small bit of encouragement: The tip sheet actually has a few healthy, tasty-looking recipes (lunch: quinoa with salsa, dinner: rosemary lemon chicken). There are more details and sign-up information here.

Transportation audit

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

City Council budget chair Tim Burgess has asked for an audit of the Seattle Department of Transportation's management of capital fund balances and its construction program. He pointed to unused money from construction bond sales, pointing to fund balances of $112 million in 2011 and $64 million in 2012. Burgess also expressed concern about a proposal for issuing more debt. Is this a sign that transportation will become a hot issue in the crowded field for mayor, which includes McGinn and Burgess?

A job market for Hasselbeck

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

The Indianapolis Colts signed former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselbeck this morning as a backup to young phenom Andrew Luck. After being cut by the Tennessee Titans, Hasselbeck's unemployment didn't last 24 hours. 

Prof goes dominant paradigm

at 4:18pm by Joe Copeland

A University of Oregon group, Students Against Imperialism, was holding a demonstration last week when a University of Oregon adjunct law teacher happened by. In true professorial form, he decided to … lecture … them in rather provocative terms. Then he decided to snatch the cell phone camera of one of the students. The Oregonian reports the U of O relieved him of his teaching duties; police said he would be charged with theft for taking the camera. The group focuses its energy on Palestinian and immigrant rights. In the video, the professor, James L. Olmsted, seems to take particular offense at the immigrant issue and the whole questioning of imperialism. "I am the dominant paradigm," he proclaims. At least as far as his teaching duties go, that's apparently subject to revision.

Monday 18 Mar, 2013

The New city surveillance controls. Downtown's plea to Legislature. Pot consultant picked.

Surveillance legislation

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle City Council this afternoon approved legislation tightening controls on police surveillance practices and equipment purchases. An ACLU of Washington representative urged a delay to look more carefully at Seattle Police Department provisions inserted at the last minute and to add an auditing provision.Council members, led by public safety committee chair Bruce Harrell, declined to prolong the discussion any more, promising that the legislation would be just the start — not the end — of discussions about better regulation and privacy protections. Harrell said surveillance is important in some cases, suggesting the Council is "privy to certain information" from police about potential threats involving the Port of Seattle.   

Mayor on public safety, spending

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn joined downtown business leaders and social service providers to call on the state Legislature to expand Medicaid coverage and provide good funding for housing, substance abuse and mental health treatment. The group also asked that mental health treatment be provided for those cleared of crimes on the basis of mental illness.Downtown Seattle Association President and CEO Kate Joncas described the joint approach as an "unprecedented" collaboration among city officials, business people and social service groups. "We have agreed on priorities that will protect public safety and make downtown a more attractive place to live, work and play,” she said.

Pot consultant picked

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

Washington state’s Liquor Control Board has reportedly chosen its pot consultant — it’s a firm headed by a UCLA professor, Mark Kleiman. Associated Press reported that the contract is expected to go to Botec Analysis Corp. of Cambridge, Mass.Hailed for his advanced thinking about law enforcement, Kleiman is familiar with the Northwest. The Seattle City Council invited him to discuss public safety in 2010. At the time, Crosscut’s Kent Kammerer (who died in 2011) wrote:

Kleiman is the epitome of the pragmatist. He can tell you exactly the cost and effectiveness of most of our laws and their enforcement. He understands the cost both in human terms and dollars of how we currently handle law enforcement. His book points to ways to overcome our nation's crime failures.

Sunset Bowl: Revival?

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

Residents have started moving into a recently completed housing complex in Ballard, on the site of the old Sunset Bowl, which long served as a community hub for the area. Community member Jim Bristow headed the movement to save the establishment. However, as Brian LeBlanc writes in the Ballard News-Tribune today, nearly five years after the development company shut them down, Sunset Bowl still hasn't found a new home. Developers of the new housing facility did listen to a proposal to reestablish Sunset in the new building. Other sites have been explored by Bristow, but the reminder of the loss (at least so far: LeBlanc is for making something happen) is a good one as the city faces a new building boom.

Matt Hasselbeck released

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

The Tennessee Titans reportedly released former Seattle Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck today. The Seahawks may well be paying attention. The News Tribune's Eric Williams writes:

No word yet on if Hasselbeck is looking for an opportunity to start, or if he’s comfortable serving as a backup on a championship-caliber team. However, if the Seahawks decide to move Matt Flynn via trade, Hasselbeck would make some sense as a backup for Russell Wilson in Seattle.

I know Hasselbeck can’t run the read option game, but the Seahawks still run a West Coast-based offense, and Seattle offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell could create packages for Hasselbeck to be successful if he had to play.

James Beard finalists

at 4:04pm by Joe Copeland

Blaine Wetzel of The Willows Inn on Lummi Island is a finalist for the James Beard Foundation's award as the country's Rising Star Chef of the Year. In the finals for Best Northwest Chef of the Year, Portland has a 3-2 advantage over Seattle. Seattle's two contenders are Jason Franey of Canlis and Ethan Stowell, Staple & Fancy Mercantile. Portland's lineup: Naomi Pomeroy (Beast), Gabriel Rucker (Le Pigeon) and Cathy Whims (Nostrana).As The Seattle Times' Rebekah Denn notes, three Seattle writers are finalists in various cookbook categories: "The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook: Sweetness in Seattle" by Tom Douglas and Shelley Lance; "Herbivoracious" by Michael Natkin and "Modernist Cuisine at Home" by Nathan Myhrvold and Maxime Bilet.

Friday 15 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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? 

Thursday 14 Mar, 2013

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.  

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.  

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday 13 Mar, 2013

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

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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.  

Tuesday 12 Mar, 2013

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

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.

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.” 

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.

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.  

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 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.

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.

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

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