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Monday 25 Mar, 2013

The Nice day for a 787 flight. No one wants to smell our compost. Climate bill passes.

Amanda Knox

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

An Italian court will take until tomorrow to make the final decision on prosecutors' appeal of Amanda Knox's acquittal in a Perugia murder case, Associated Press reports. If the acquittal is overturned, Italy could eventually seek Knox's extradition, but there are a lot of hurdles between here and there. Including justice. The decision is expected at 10 a.m. Tuesday in Rome — 2 a.m. in Seattle.

Boeing's prodigal flight

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing put a 787 back in the air this afternoon for a test flight to check the redesigned battery system. The flight took off from Paine Field on a route sending it down the Washington and Oregon coasts before turning to come back to Everett, according to The Herald. This may be the most closely-watched flight of a 787 since its very first test flight on Dec. 15, 2009, which also took off from Everett — with a lot more fanfare.

Inslee's climate bill

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

The state House of Representatives today passed a bill setting up a climate change task force to look at the best options for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The Democratic House accepted the version passed by the Republican-dominated Senate, sending the bill to Gov. Jay Inslee for his approval. He had sought the task force. So expect a big signing ceremony. And lots of happy talk about bipartisan collaboration. Crosscut's John Stang will have more on this.

No one wants to smell our compost

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

The City Council today went along with a request from Councilmember Sally Bagshaw to delay a week before voting on a contract to send its compost waste to Eastern Washington. Currently, much of the city's compost goes to a south King County facility, where neighbors have complained about the stench. The move would be an attempt to ameliorate community relations.Councilmember Tom Rasmussen had already said he would vote "no," largely out of concern that more consideration should have been given to options for keeping the trash closer to home. The situation is turning into a hot political one for the council. The top bidder for the project gave up on a permit application for disposal in Kittitas County last week, after being faced with intense objections. Today, Councilmember Jean Godden, who has overseen the proposal, said the waste would still go to Eastern Washington, "potentially" to another Kittitas site. A Seattle Public Utilities staffer said it's possible that technological advances would make the compost easier to deal with closer to home: Generating electric energy and reducing the smell within the minimum six year term of the proposed contract. (Disclosure: Bagshaw is married to Crosscut board chair Brad Bagshaw.)

Coal letter

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Update: 4:28 p.m. Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber today wrote a letter to the White House Council on Environmental Quality calling for a broad review of the environmental effects of shipping coal to Asia. They urged the council to "undertake and complete a thorough examination of the greenhouse gas and other air quality effects of continued coal leasing and export before the U.S. and its partners make irretrievable long-term investments in expanding this trade."Inslee stressed in a separate letter to state Ecology Director Maia Bellon that he remains committed to a fair, objective assessment of permit applications for coal exporting through state ports.

Wave energy technology

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Oscilla Power, a company based in Seattle and Salt Lake City, said today that it has successfully completed a nine-week field test in Lake Washington of technology to capture electric energy from ocean waves. The company said that NOAA and the University of Washington's Applied Physics Laboratory had helped in the nine-week test, which included periods of winter storms. Capturing energy from waves has been discussed for decades, but may finally be getting more readily useful.

Health insurance access

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Update 4:47 p.m. The state is working on the details of expanding access to health insurance under the federal Affordable Care Act. John Stang reports from Olympia:

Insurance providers backed a House bill to assess a yet-to-be-determined fee on health and dental insurance plans provided by a new Washington Health Benefits Exchange. The fee would cover the insurance companies' administrative costs under a portion of federal health care reform. 

That backing came Monday at a hearing before the Senate Health Care Committee. No one opposed the bill. But most supporters wanted to make several technical tweaks to it. Supporters included Group Health, Premera Blue Cross, the Association of Washington Business and the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

The bill by Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, passed the House 69-29. The Health Benefits Exchange will begin enrolling people in October for health insurance coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The Washington Health Benefits Exchange will be an online clearinghouse for people and small businesses to compare and enroll in health insurance programs– as well as gaining access to tax credits, cost sharing and programs such as Medicaid. 

Terrorist sentencing

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

A federal judge today imposed an 18-year prison sentence for Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif, who was convicted in December of plotting to kill military and civilian personnel at a military processing on East Marginal Way South. The Seattle Times reports that U.S. District Judge James Robart criticized destruction of evidence gathered on a cell phone during a Seattle police investigation.

Starbucks stands up

at 4:00pm by Joe Copeland

Seattlepi.com today alerted us to a video from the Puget Sound Business Journal capturing Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz bluntly  rejecting a shareholder suggestion that the company back away from his support of same-sex marriage. Maybe Seattle can start to forgive that whole sell-the-Sonics thing.

Friday 22 Mar, 2013

The Big Boeing job cuts. Room for Needle views? Bellevue police in Seattle shooting.

Police shoot suspect

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

A Bellevue police SWAT team fatally shot a man this morning while serving a warrant in South Seattle near Columbia City. A Seattle police spokeswoman told The Seattle Times that the local police were aware in advance of the Bellevue police serving the warrant, which was connected to an investigation into robberies in both cities. Expect this to take a while to sort out.

Micro housing

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

The City Council today announced a public meeting on so-called micro housing developments, or apodments. Those multi-family developments with extremely small studio units that have been popping up in some number on Capitol Hill and, to a degree, in some other neighborhoods. The Capitol Hill Seattle blog reported last year on the not-so-happy reactions the units elicit and how they escape reviews that traditional apartments would face. The City Hall meeting will be April 18; details here.Capitol Hill Seattle mentioned spaces of less than 100 square feet; the council's announcement said units are "typically" 150 to 200 square feet. No, that would not be considered spacious in Tokyo.

Space Needle views

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

The owners of the Space Needle have launched radio ads to protect views from South Lake Union, which are being threatened by city plans for 40 story buildings there. City Council member Richard Conlin is promising two amendments to zoning laws that should make a difference from parks and streets, according to a report by KIRO Radio's Chris Sullivan: Setbacks and view protection from the sparkling new South Lake Union Park.Crosscut's Knute Berger recently wrote about the value of the Space Needle as a symbol of Seattle, so what Conlin is saying sounds like a smart move. But don't underestimate the power of commercial interests, including The Seattle Times, to make the council dance to the beat of their drum while singing a soothing lullaby. (Disclosure note: As Berger mentioned in his article, he has worked for the Space Needle's owners.)

Boeing making big cuts here

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing will lay off 800 workers in Everett in 2013 as part of larger reductions that will reduce its Puget Sound work force by up to 2,300 positions this year, according to The Herald in Everett. Many of the losses will come through attrition, meaning workers won't be replaced. The layoffs primarily involve 787 and 747 modification workers at Paine Field. Reports from South Carolina a few weeks ago said that a few hundred workers employed under contract would be cut there too.Boeing says none of the cuts are related to the 787 battery issues.

RapidRide kudos

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

After a careful study of the Metro Transit RapidRide routes, the Seattle Transit Blog has concluded that there may be a politically expedient reason for their stranglehold on King County geography. That is, their prevalence gives Metro a little something to brag about to voters across the county. Frank Chiachiere writes:

Defense contractors figured out long ago that the best weapons system is one that’s built in all 435 congressional districts and never actually ships. So kudos to Metro making RapidRide “hard to kill” in the political parlance.We just thought we'd mention that for all of you pro-bus advocates. We've seen you out there, telling everyone about how fast bus service is God's gift to Seattle, while muttering that Sound Transit's light rail is a big political scam/ waste of money/ whatever.

No easy weekend traffic?

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Once again, the Washington State Department of Transportation is planning to get a few things done over the weekend. In the middle of some of the busier highways. The closures include up to three lanes of I-5 in north Seattle, ramps from the West Seattle Bridge to I-5 and I-90 bridge express lanes. Details here.

A Disney video for grownups

at 3:43pm by Joe Copeland

Want a little social justice with your Disney music? In a four part harmony with himself (you'll see), this young acapella star gives his own, perhaps more realistic endings to all of your favorite Disney princess stories. You may not want to watch this one with young kids: Instead, put them down in front of Aladdin for the hundredth time, sequester yourself in the other room with your tablet and your headphones and prepare for straight guffawing.

Thursday 21 Mar, 2013

The Lawmakers stand for vets. Jewell nomination gets good vote. Seattle's Downton addiction.

March snow

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

The second day of spring finds snow and icy stuff falling in unexpected places. Parts of Snohomish County had snow on the ground in the morning, Kirkland was getting snow shortly after 2 p.m. and a Seattle broadcaster was tweeting hopefully that it "kind of looks" like snow in north Seattle. On his weather blog, Cliff Mass said spring often brings the coldest upper air temperatures.

Downton Abbey

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

Seattlepi.com asks, Does Seattle still lead the nation in love for "Downton Abbey"? The short answer is yes. The slightly longer one: KCTS9 dug into the numbers and found viewership here was a good 30 percent higher than the national average. So, naturally, there will be a marathon showing this Sunday of the entire Season 3 set of episodes, which finished last month. We're all for unwinding, but do we really need Seattle Sits-and-Stares Sunday?

Pushing the VA

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott proposed a commission today to explore ways to improve care for returning veterans. The Seattle Democrat would also have the commission look for new ways to have vets and active service members "teach their public about their experiences."A day earlier, Sen. Patty Murray said she is worried about the challenges that the Department of Veterans Affairs faces in dealing with returning service members' mental health needs. She was the prime sponsor of the 2012 Mental Health ACCESS Act, designed to improve care for veterans.Recent reports from the Center for the Investigative Journalism have shown that the VA has large problems keeping up with assistance applications. The problem has been particularly bad in California, where applications often sit for 600 days before being decided. Seattle and Portland aren't great, either, with processing of applications estimated to take 340-plus days in each.Murray, a longtime advocate for veterans, recently won the Veterans of Foreign Wars' 2013 award for contributions to returning service members' needs. But remedying the VA's persistent shortcomings under the Obama administration — apparently even worse than under the not-very-high-peforming Bush administration — is going to take a lot of pushing. Hard, even angry pushing.

Jewell gets big vote 

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

In a largely bipartisan vote, a Senate committee approved REI's Sally Jewell as the next U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com notes that Idaho Republican Sen. Jim Risch might place a hold on the nomination over protection of sage grouse (he favors a state plan; some Republicans fear the feds' protection ideas might interfere with energy developments). Despite voting for her in committee, Risch could still block a full Senate vote on the nomination.The vote was 19-to-3; Republicans John Barasso of Wyoming, Mike Lee of Utah and Tim Scott of South Carolina opposed. Hmm,  opposing an REI exec (whose products reach millions of the youngest and most active folks nationwide). Perhaps they didn't get the Republican memo on modernizing the party's image. 

Hanford idea

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

Kurion, a small Richland-based company, wants to use a condensed glassification technology to help clean up radioactive waste leaking from Hanford tanks on the quick, according to the Tri-City Herald. Kurion is designing small, modular units to turn leaking waste into glass. That could bump up the clean-up start date to 2014. Otherwise, Hanford might be stuck waiting for the 2019 completion of a larger facility (which is needed either way). Kurion is less than 5 years old but it has already built a cesium removal system for the disaster-struck Fukushima nuclear plant. 

Coal port protest

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

Update 5:01 p.m.: Protesters against coal port proposals marched from Westlake Center to SSA Marine offices in Seattle this afternoon. Idle No More, a Native rights group, sponsored the march. Here’s a part of the march as it passed through Pioneer Square. For full coverage of coal ports, including today's final part in a series by Floyd McKay, check out Crosscut's coal ports page.

Bainbridge art museum opening

at 3:57pm by Joe Copeland

The brand new Bainbridge Island Museum of Art said today that it will open June 14. The museum recently met a $1.2 million challenge match grant for its capital campaign. This video is from last year, but it gives an overview of the thinking behind the museum.Love the Daily Troll? Now you can sign up to get it in your inbox every afternoon.

Wednesday 20 Mar, 2013

The Better jobs numbers. McGinn's transportation bragging rights. Pot growing goes public.

Jobs: Looking up

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

The jobless rate in the Seattle-Bellevue area fell below 6 percent, to 5.9 percent last month, according to preliminary state figures. Statewide, the rate stayed at 7.5 percent, although the number of jobs did grow, particularly in the private sector. It's progress, but in February of 2008, the state unemployment rate was 4.6 percent. Really. 

Economic forecast

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

The economic forecast for state government showed a mixed picture. In fact, the overall shortfall still rounds out to some $1.2 billion. In other words, absent the ending of some tax breaks or approval of some new taxes, Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers will have about as much money to work with as they've been expecting for months. In other words, after all the procrastination, it's time for some decisions in Olympia. Crosscut's John Stang is preparing a full report.

My road building is better than yours

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said today that there's an extra $11.5 million for other transportation projects because work on the Spokane Street Viaduct cost less than budgeted. McGinn said the money will be used for "sidewalks, basic road maintenance, upgrades to the City’s traffic signal system, work to complete the Burke-Gilman 'Missing Link' and support for Seattle’s updated Transit Master Plan." The announcement comes just one day after City Councilman Tim Burgess, one of McGinn's challengers in the mayor's race, called for an audit of unspent transportation funds raised by bond sales. In Seattle, all transportation is political


at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Coal pollution

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Even without being burned, coal can have significant environmental effects on air and water. The nonprofit Sightline organization, which is against coal ports, today outlines existing research on coal dust or coal spills in the water. Much of it is old and inconclusive, or both. David Kershner writes about the dilemmas this poses for the Northwest, where major coal ports are under discussion:

Yet the region is in the dark when it comes to understanding the risks of coal on sensitive ecosystems and endangered species. Scientific studies raise a variety of concerns, but the most comprehensive reviews also suggest that the core issues have not been well-studied and that the aquatic risks of coal are poorly understood.On Thursday, Crosscut's Floyd McKay will have the final part in a three-day series on arguments about the scope of an environmental review for the coal port proposals. Parts 1 and 2 are here and here.

Willapa: Not just great oysters anymore

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

The Port of Willapa Harbor in Raymond is becoming the first public agency in Washington state to get into pot growing — at least indirectly. It is leasing a port facility to Seattle restaurateur Marcus Charles, who plans to use it to grow marijuana. Associated Press has picked up on the story today, but a more detailed version came from Washington State Wire at the end of last week. Writer Erik Smith noted that the coastal community south of Aberdeen has lost a lot of jobs due to the decline of the timber industry. The new jobs? The grow operation would be in a 30,000-square-foot former storage shed with a headquarters in a former sawmill office, according to Smith.

Seahawks, Gonzaga have already won

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Going into the NCAA men's basketball tournament, Gonzaga is No. 1. And, more than five months before the first kickoff, the Seattle Seahawks are the best team in the NFL, according to an ESPN ranking. Well, at least the Mariners don't have to live with the burden of great expectations, right? But for those fans wanting to build hope on something beyond a lot of meaningless spring training wins: The Mariners' Michael Saunders was named to the All World Baseball Classic team from the just-completed tournament, where he played for Canada. 

Drones and rights

at 3:58pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle City Council approved regulations to restrict the use of surveillance technology by city departments, proclaiming itself a leader in balancing privacy and providing important public information. Most departments need to have all plans approved in advance. Police, however, received a last-minute exemption in some cases. Kshama Sawant, who plans to challenge incumbent Councilmember Richard Conlin, today said she completely objects to allowing police to use drones, citing historic problems between the police and minority communities. Otherwise, she credited the council with a step in the right direction but complained today about “gaping holes.”Update (4:08 p.m.): Mayor Mike McGinn's spokesman Aaron Pickus says the city doesn't envision any near-term usage of drones. He pointed out that the police department has returned two drones it had acquired earlier with federal support. "We support the ordinance," he said in an email. There’s a video and informative story on TheVerge.com on drones and privacy rights (Hint: you might have fewer than you think).  

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.

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