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Tuesday 23 Apr, 2013

The Boeing grilled in D.C, day one. July 4 fireworks saved. New port commissioner picked.

Dance?

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Port Angeles High School and its students are in a long-running standoff over rules for school dances. A Peninsula Daily News story (being distributed today by AP) said students are voting with their feet against the "Face to Face, Leave Some Space" rules. Opposition to the new rules was strong enough to cancel the school's spring fling. Only 15 tickets had been sold. Likewise, Junior Ball ticket sales droppped from 412 tickets at this time last year to six this year. Students have complained about the School Board's unwillingness to work with them on compromises. The rules have been promoted — and provoked similar controversy — in a number of schools around the country for several years.Peninsula reporter Arwyn Rice points out the similarities to "Footloose," the 1984/2011 film about students in a Midwestern town who rise up in favor of rock music and dancing. Ironically, notes Rice, students in nearby Sequim are preparing to stage "Footloose" next month. 

Bellevue meets Columbia City

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Bellevue Police officials held a Seattle neighborhood community meeting to discuss their department's fatal shooting in Seattle's Columbia City neighborhood. On March 22, a Bellevue SWAT team came to Columbia City to serve a search warrant on a robbery suspect and wound up shooting him. A report in The Stranger calls the community meeting tense, but noted that the police departments are open to discussing what their officers do when they are in another jurisdiction.Deputy Seattle Mayor Darryl Smith, a Columbia City resident who attended on Mayor Mike McGinn's behalf, said he thought the meeting was good because it let neighbors and Bellevue officals hear from each other directly. Smith, who posted very pointed and thoughtful questions of his own before the meeting, said it's important now for Bellevue to follow through as quickly and as fully as possible on its promises to respond to neighbors' questions. Smith's questions largely boiled down to, in effect: Would you act like this in your own city? "I don't have an answer yet," he said today.

Boeing for the defense

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

The National Transportation Safety Board chair harshly criticized the responses from Boeing representatives during a hearing today on the original approval of the 787 Dreamliner's malfunctioning battery system. Bloomberg News quoted NTSB chair Deborah Hersman charging "obvious obfuscation" when Boeing reps attempted to explain how the company calculated the chances that the 787's lithium ion batteries would overheat. Boeing and several subcontractors will face more grilling when the hearings resume Wednesday morning. Then comes testimony from the Federal Aviation Administration, which the NTSB clearly suspects of toothless watchdogging in its original certification process. The NTSB will webcast the hearing beginning at 6 a.m. PDT from this site.  

Fireworks: game on!

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle will have July 4 fireworks after all. Mayor Mike McGinn, the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Seafair have announced a plan to finance the fireworks celebration. Vanessa Ho at seattlepi.com reports that a host of corporate sponsors (led by Microsoft, Amazon and gaming firm DoubleDown Interactive) promised multi-year support. Tiny footnote: The chamber's online news release includes a link for those who'd like to donate. Please tell us the annual weeks-long soap opera about how to finance 20 minutes of fun is really, really over.

New Seattle Port commissioner

at 4:25pm by Joe Copeland

Stephanie Bowman, a former Port of Tacoma public affairs manager, will fill the last vacancy on the Port of Seattle commission. The other four commissioners unanimously selected her this afternoon from a field of seven finalists. Commission President Tom Albro said Bowman fits well with "our core mission," mentioning job development as one aspect of the port's work. Bowman is now executive director of the Washington Asset Building Coalition, which seeks to help low- and middle-income people develop their financial skills and futures. Makes sense even in a particularly strong field of finalists. But the port has a lot of ground to make up after recent troubles, including the resignation of Bowman's predecessor Rob Holland amid questions about favoritism for campaign donors and his use of a port credit card.

Monday 22 Apr, 2013

The Eyman gears up again. Teacher of year: Grown in WA. 5 die in Federal Way shootings.

A week after the Boston Marathon

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Federal authorities today charged Dzokhar Tsarnaev, the surviving suspect in the bombing of the Boston Marathon, with using a "weapon of mass destruction."Here's a video posted by The Herald of an interview with bombing survivor, 78-year-old Bill Iffrig of Lake Stevens. You gotta like the Sports Illustrated cover boy who, right off the bat, says he didn't run in high school — in fact, he tells writer Rich Myhre, he was a smoker at the time. 

Earth Day: Coal alliance

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

With Earth Day today, an array of events in and around Seattle that started over the weekend (when more people could take part) continued today. The Bullitt Foundation officially opened the Bullitt Center, which has been hailed as the greenest commercial building on Earth. The Seattle City Council went on record as opposing genetically engineered salmon (AquaBounty Technologies has applied to the Food and Drug Administration to market franko-fish, er, AquAdvantage Salmon). Perhaps most significantly, Mayor Mike McGinn announced a wide-ranging coalition of tribal and local governments formed to oppose both coal trains and coal exports.As it happens, the editorial board of The Herald came out on Sunday against coal port development in the state, suggesting Washington needs to focus its economic development efforts in science, technology, aerospace and other more advanced areas. It may be the first major newspaper to come out fully against the proposals.

Five dead in Federal Way

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Police say that five people died during a Federal Way shooting spree carried out by a 27-year-old man, including the gunman. Police theorize that the gunman shot his girlfriend first and then may have wanted to eliminate witnesses. A Seattle Times report said the gunman apparently killed a 62-year-old neighbor after shooting the door to get into the older man's apartment. 

Police meeting

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle and Bellevue police tonight will meet with neighbors concerned about the fatal shooting of a man in Columbia City last month. KUOW radio reports today that neighbors continue to have questions about the actions of a Bellevue police SWAT squad that shot 51-year-old Russell Smith, while in Seattle to serve a warrant on him. The meeting is at 6:30 p.m. at the Columbia City Church of Hope, 3818 S. Angeline St. and was organized by a group calling themselves the 43rd Avenue South Community and Friends, according to the Rainier Valley Post.

Teacher of the year

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Zillah High School's Jeff Charbonneau will receive the national Teacher of the Year Award from President Barack Obama on Tuesday. He teaches a variety of science, computing and engineering classes at Zillah (it's southeast of Yakima along Interstate 82). On "CBS This Morning" today, he talked about the importance of student-teacher relationships that give kids confidence that they can learn. A profile on the state superintendent's website calls him "a whirlwind on a mission." He is a National Board Certified teacher who attended Zillah himself (he joked on CBS that he got hired because a new prinicipal and superintendent were at the school by the time of his job interview). The profile also said:

Jeff has also designed an exciting robotic challenge open to students from across the state, independent study opportunities, a hiking club that completes community service projects on their trips and much more. The robot challenge alone has served over 850 students from 43 school districts over the past 4 years. These opportunities, combined with his innovative instruction, have dramatically increased the interest in science at Zillah. This year, over 60 percent of juniors are registered for Chemistry and one third of seniors will take Physics.Charbonneau made the point that there are a lot of great teachers. True. And for many young people, it only takes one to make a huge difference.

Eyman initiative

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Legally, state initiatives can't require the Legislature to initiate changes to the state constitution. However, that seems to be the goal of Tim Eyman's new initiative, designed to force supermajority requirements for all state tax increases. The state Supreme Court recently ruled that it's illegal to require supermajority votes by the Legislature without a constitutional amendment. One part of the initiative would require an annual advisory question on the ballot about a constitutional amendment to require supermajority tax votes in the Legislature. Eyman apparently hopes the advisory vote would embarrass Legislators into actually writing and approving the amendment. Yes, it actually is as convoluted and confusing as it sounds. Crosscut's John Stang is preparing a full report.

Affordable housing

at 4:41pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle City Council gave tentative approval to increased requirements for affordable housing in South Lake Union this afternoon. Councilmember Nick Licata, who had pushed hardest on the issue, said the plan developed by other council members (chiefly Tim Burgess, Mike O'Brien and Sally Clark) would bring more than 700 new, affordable units and would apply to developers who build higher under a neighborhood rezoning. The original proposal, drafted by the mayor's office, called for about 500 units.

Friday 19 Apr, 2013

The Stern sets NBA decision date. Dysfunction in D.C. MSFT coding legend retires.

Traffic: 520 bridge closing

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation will close the 520 bridge all weekend. It's a big one: All lanes, all weekend from 11 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Monday. The closure, which is related to ongoing reconstruction of the bridge, had been postponed since March for weather reasons. An official said this afternoon that the closure is on. 

Friday: Truly done with work

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

Duane Campbell is leaving Microsoft after a career in which he quietly became what Todd Bishop of Geekwire calls a "coding legend." Campbell came to Microsoft from Tennessee 28 years ago. A hard worker, he found himself moving up in management, but soon realized he'd rather do what he loved: coding. If he had a spare hour, he might tinker with the code to make Word work a little faster or better. Campbell gives such great advice on how to have a rewarding career that, by the end of Bishop's story, you'll likely be cheering for Campbell — and his whole family. 

Looking up in Tacoma

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

State Farm insurance has signed leases to take over the former Russell Investments headquarters and part of a nearby building in downtown Tacoma, The News Tribune reported this morning. About 300 people will be hired this summer, but there appear to be plans to hire up to 1,100 sometime in the future. Tacoma's economic development director Ricardo Noguero said the new hiring would encourage more jobs and, particularly, provide a spur for downtown housing.

Metro and the state's competitiveness

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

The House Transportation Committee held a hearing in Olympia today to review House Democrats' proposed increase in funding for state transportation. King County and Seattle officials stressed the economic advantages of funding state highway projects and financing Metro Transit; spending they called critical for Washington's economic competitiveness, job creation and opportunity. Kenmore Mayor David Baker said some suburban Metro riders would simply be unable to get to their jobs if Metro service is cut 17 percent. Seattle City Councilmember Mike O'Brien warned that the cuts would force more drivers onto Seattle streets, increasing congestion and impeding commerce and job growth. "If we lose this transit funding, we are in danger of cutting off that job growth at the knees," O'Brien said.Bellevue Mayor Conrad Lee and Sea-Tac Deputy Mayor Mia Gregerson argued for the economic advantages of new funding to finish projects on such routes as I-405, Highway 509, Highway 167 and the 520 floating bridge. Lee said projects on 405 and 167 "will reduce some of the state's worst traffic congestion and speed economic recovery for the state." 

Dysfunction in congressional delegation

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

Even Washington state's congressional delegation seems to have lost that collaborative feeling, as seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly portrays clearly in a D.C-datelined column. As he notes, Republican Rep. Doc Hastings of Pasco won't even give a hearing to a bill from fellow Washingtonian and Republican Rep. Dave Reichert to protect more wildlands in eastern King County. It's a sorry state of affairs, but Connelly offers a bit of inspiration at the end: 

As poet Terry Tempest Williams reflected Wednesday night at an Alaska Wilderness League dinner, "The eyes of the future are looking back at us. They are urging us to see beyond our own generation."

Stern speaks

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

NBA Commissioner David Stern says the pro basketball league will reach a decision in early May on moving the Sacramento franchise to Seattle, according to the Sacramento Bee. A committee of NBA owners will make a recommendation in advance of the meeting.Stern said he expects a final offer in a day or two from a Sacramento group bidding to buy the team from the current controlling interest, the Maloof family. It wasn't clear if the bid would include a non-refundable down payment, like that of the Seattle-based group led by Chris Hansen, the Bee said. Earlier today, as Levi Pulkkinen at seattlepi.com reported, the Maloofs sent a letter telling the NBA that Seattle is the only viable option and suggested they want no further dealings with the Sacramento group. And Seattle wants to be a part of this league, why?

Boeing gets FAA's OK

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

The Federal Aviation Administration today approved Boeing's 787 design modifications for fixing the battery problems on the new airliner. The FAA said it will issue a final directive to airlines on making the changes and it will "closely monitor" the installation of the new design. A New York Times report suggested that approving the changes today may help smooth things for the FAA at a National Transportation Safety Board hearing next Tuesday and Wednesday: "The agency could argue that, if the risks were underestimated initially, the new battery system should prevent that from happening again." Airline travelers will certainly hope so.

Thursday 18 Apr, 2013

The More Viaduct closures? McGinn wins bike club endorsement. 'Gentrification' vs. fishing jobs?

Quincy Jones and Heart

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

It's a big night for Seattle in the music world: The musical group Heart, led by sisters Ann and Nancy Wilson, and Quincy Jones will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony won't be broadcast on HBO until May 18.The Wilsons' family settled in Bellevue, while the sisters were in school. The Hall of Fame bio calls the Wilsons "pioneers," who, as the first women to lead a hard rock band, inspired countless other female musicians. "In the last decade, Heart has released two of the strongest albums of its career: 'Jupiter’s Darling' and 'Red Velvet Car.' The latter album, issued in 2010, featured a return to the melodic hard rock and folk sound of early Heart albums."Jones was a student at Garfield High School, where the auditorium bears his name. "He is a record producer, conductor, arranger, film composer, television producer and trumpeter," his bio crows. Plus, an entrepreneur, philanthropist, progressive political and spiritual thinker and an author. But, in the category of "Didn't Know This": Jones, who recently turned 80, is the survivor of two 1974 brain aneurysms. They didn't slow him down though. Afterwards, he went on at the same pace to produce albums for Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson (including "Thriller") and others. And he was a key figure in the seminal "We Are The World" recording to raise money for Ethiopian famine victims.Here's a recent Billboard Magazine interview with Jones: And here's a Heart performance at the Kennedy Center awards in D.C. last year.

Shelter beds

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

King County and the city of Seattle have teamed up to keep shelter capacity at winter levels through June 15. That means a total of 215 beds will continue to be offered nightly at Seattle City Hall, the King County Administration Building and Angeline's Center for Homeless Women (2030 Third Avenue in Seattle). The beds had been set to close this week. A big factor in the extension was the appropriation of an extra $150,000 by Seattle City Council, according to County Executive Dow Constantine.

Fishing, the port and gentrification

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Fishermen’s News sponsored today’s Bering Sea Fisheries Conference in Seattle, a major home to the nation’s Bering Sea Fleet. Crosscut Publisher Greg Shaw reports:

Mixing his metaphors a bit, Seattle Port Commission President Tom Albro told a gathering of commercial fishermen today in Seattle that “our barn is on fire.”

Albro, who comes from a farming family and admitted to never having sailed on a commercial fishing vessel, told the fishermen, ship-builders and maritime industry leaders that when your barn — or in this case a home dock and port — is on fire, you stop everything you’re doing to put it out. The fire in this case is what he described as encroachment of residential and retail space on maritime industrial land — gentrification.

While the fishing industry must tend to national and international environmental and safety regulations, he said, it’s also the home port the industry needs to be minding. He encouraged leaders to create a big tent movement, and to get involved in local politics.

While Albro cited condo associations as one example of those who are starting the fires, Seattle mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck fingered the proposed public arena. Steinbrueck said he’s all for the return of the Sonics, but he’s not for taking away important maritime industrial lands to build it. “The Sodo arena will take away industrial land,” and we need to protest that, he said.

Boeing layoffs

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

Boeing today said it will reduce its engineering workforce by 1,000 to 1,500 people by the end of the year. The Herald reports the first layoff notices will go out Friday. This follows last month's announcement that the company will reduce its machinist workforce by 800 people this year.Ray Goforth, a representative of the Society of Professional Engineering Employees in Aerospace, criticized the layoff and attrition plan here at a time when Boeing is hiring engineers for its design center in Russia. Boeing's long-term plans include additional engineering positions. This is just the latest in a growing pattern of Boeing jobs packing up out of Washington.

Bikers pedaling for McGinn

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

The Cascade Bicycle Club announced this morning that it has endorsed Mike McGinn for mayor. It's an indication that activists who supported him in 2009 are sticking with him, which could provide plenty of energy to ensure he emerges from the crowded August primary field as one of two November general election finalists. The local Sierra Club endorsed McGinn, its onetime leader, for re-election back in January. The club is also endorsing Seattle City Council incumbents Sally Bagshaw, Richard Conlin and Mike O'Brien (disclosure: Bagshaw is married to the chair of Crosscut's Board of Directors, Bradley Bagshaw). The club said it will make additional endorsements later.

Viaduct closures?

at 4:06pm by Joe Copeland

The start of tunneling work on the Seattle waterfront could lead to closures of the Alaskan Way Viaduct as a safety precaution, according to the West Seattle Blog. As editor Tracy Record's big scoop notes, officials from other agencies recently began to raise the possibility of a closure of unspecified duration when tunneling starts. A decision could be made this spring. Last year, she notes, a press release had said that reinforcement work on the Viaduct would allow traffic to continue during the tunneling.

Wednesday 17 Apr, 2013

The Buy a win for McGinn. Macklemore's inner pirate. Everett Herald's new publisher.

Jobs forecast: Mixed

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

The unemployment rate fell again last month for both the state and, in particular, the Seattle metropolitan area. New figures from the Employment Security Department show the seasonally adjusted state unemployment rate at 7.3 percent for March, the best since December 2008. The Seattle-Bellevue-Everett unemployment rate is down to 5.5 percent. Though it's beginning to sound like hard times are over, the report also shows that there has been no actual job growth over the past two months. Much of the flattening is due to job losses in the public sector. So, maybe we can't breathe easy just yet.

Seattle as video star

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

PerezHilton.com calls Seattle's new Macklemore and Ryan Lewis music video "larger than life." MTV.com's James Montgomery describes it as "epic" and living up to high advance billing. Of course, in true Seattle fashion, it ends at the Space Needle. Knute Berger approves.

UW in a final four

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

The University of Washington's environmental and sustainability efforts won Final Four recognition in an annual contest for colleges and universities nationwide. The UW made it through several rounds of judging in the Environmental March Madness Tournament before Ohio State University ended up winning. UW President Michael Young told The Daily, “Our track record in researching and teaching about environmentally sound and sustainable practices and incorporating them into the lives and behaviors of our students is impeccable.” Great. But losing to Ohio State?

New publisher in Everett

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

Sound Publishing has just appointed Josh O'Connor, one of its own vice presidents, Publisher of The Herald in Everett, which it recently acquired from the Washington Post Co. There had been a national search for the position, but, as The Herald reports, "it became apparent that we [Sound Publishing] had the good fortune of having the right person already on board." One potentially good sign: The paper says O'Connor has been involved in a number of community organizations.

Mayoral straw poll

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn has pulled into the lead! Well, at any rate, he won a straw poll. Among Democrats. In the hyper-liberal 43rd District. The voters had to fork out money to cast votes ($2 each), but got a discount for buying extra votes ($3 for 5 votes). Publicola and The Stranger reported on the final vote tallies for each candidate. Supposedly, the willingness of candidate supporters to a) show up and b) spend a little money gives us an accurate picture of the voting populace.Has anyone checked to make sure McGinn wasn't there in disguise handing out $10 bills? Oh well. Straw polls are good enough for Iowa and voting often is a tradition in Chicago.

House Republican leader stepping down

at 4:16pm by Joe Copeland

Health reasons have forced Rep. Richard DeBolt of Centralia to step down from his position as House Republican Leader. He will continue to serve in the Legislature. (John Stang has a report here.) New Gov. Jay Inslee, who has spoken warmly of the classy DeBolt, said in a statement, "“Richard has been a stalwart leader for his caucus and I thank him for his dedication and work. I wish him all the best as he takes time to focus on his family and his health.”

Tuesday 16 Apr, 2013

The Harsher DUI penalties. Mariners buy TV outlet. Better than the Swimsuit Edition.

Port of Seattle's agenda

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The Port of Seattle just posted this video about its "Century Agenda"; a long-term plan for developing maritime and Sea-Tac Airport operations and creating local job opportunities over the next 25 years. The Port Commission approved the agenda late last year, but has been caught up in challenges since then.The commission lost one very capable commissioner, Gael Tarleton, to a position in the Legislature. Another, Rob Holland, resigned in the wake of critical coverage about his fights with other commissioners and problems using his port-issued credit card. But, hey, we're only a few months into the 25-year plan and things are bound to get better, right? 

Monson Fruit Co. head dies in copter crash

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The president of Eastern Washington's Monson Fruit Co. died in a helicopter crash while on a fishing trip in British Columbia, The Yakima Herald-Republic reported this morning. Michael Monson was the only person killed when the helicopter went down in a remote area northeast of Campbell River. The company has grown into a 3,500-acre world-wide exporter of high-quality cherries, apples and pears, since its 1987 founding.

Highway 20 reopens

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation reopened Highway 20 today. The winter closure of the North Cascades route began just over five months ago, on Nov. 20. According to WSDOT's records, the highway's reopening was as early as any since 2005 and follows two straight years of May openings. 

NBA delays vote

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The National Basketball Association will set aside plans for a vote this week on the sale of the Sacramento Kings to the Seattle-based group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen, according to The Seattle Times. Mayor Mike McGinn presented a deal earlier today to the City Council that would improve the city's terms on a lease of KeyArena, while the new SoDo district sports arena is constructed. The agreement guarantees the city at least $2 million in new use fees and protects the jobs of existing city workers at the arena.It's just one more sign that Hansen is great to work with, always on top of things for the city. But can anybody make things work for Seattle with NBA Commissioner David Stern?

SPD: On alert

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Police responded to a report of a suspicious bag at the Pioneer Square bus tunnel station entrance this morning and found a hair dryer inside.  

An unlikely Sports Illustrated cover

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Sports Illustrated will put the Boston Marathon picture of Lake Stevens' Bill Iffrig on its cover. He's the man who was knocked over by the first terror bomb blast. As The Herald and other publications reported, Iffrig got up after police rushed to him and finished the race.The Herald's account sparkles for its interviews with family members and neighbors about what "a great guy" and amazing runner the former mountain climber is. He was a finalist for the paper's Sports Star of the Year award in early 2010 (at age 75). Now, he'll be on one of the year's most memorable SI covers — one that more people will likely remember than whoever is on the 2013 swimsuit edition.

More money for the Mariners

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Mariners today bought the controlling interest in Root Sports, the cable TV channel that has the contract to broadcast their games. The move positions them for what has proven to be a financial boon elsewhere. Art Thiel says on Sportspress Northwest that the purchase will likely increase the franchise value in sales of ads and broadcast rights.

New DUI law

at 4:36pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee and lawmakers from both parties have come up with a proposal for a new, tougher DUI law. The bill would include mandatory arrest of anyone reasonably suspected of a DUI and would force anyone arrested for a DUI to install an ignition interlock device. Second offenders would face a choice between six months in jail or enrollment in a new sobriety program. Those provisions are based on a South Dakota law that Inslee said has proven successful in reducing repeat offenses.The Senate bill will be discussed at an 8 a.m. hearing Thursday; the House will hold a hearing at 10 a.m. In the wake of tragic accidents recently in North Seattle and on the 520 bridge, the Legislature is using good judgment to toss aside its normal deadlines for bills to consider the proposals. 

Monday 15 Apr, 2013

The Many Seattle runners in Boston. The challenges of bus transfers. Police troubles beyond Seattle.

Shooting inquest

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

King County Executive Dow Constantine today ordered an inquest into the Seattle police shooting of Jack Sun Keewatinawin on Feb. 26, when officers responded to a call indicating Keewatinawin was holding his father hostage. Constantine said the inquest would provide transparency and had been recommended by county Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg.Crosscut Editorial Intern Vanesha Manuturi contributed reporting to this report.

Police troubles

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

Mountlake Terrace and Gig Harbor have both have run into troubles around their police departments. In Mountlake, it seems like police and the guild have an extraordinarily distant relationship. The state Public Employees Relations Commission has ordered the department to rescind several disciplinary decisions imposed by Police Chief Greg Wilson. The problem, according to the commission, is that the city changed its disciplinary procedures without negotiating the changes with the police officers guild. The department will have to reimburse officers who were disciplined by loss of annual pay raises and by being placed on unpaid leave. The city said it will appeal the ruling, according to The Herald.In Gig Harbor, The News Tribune reports today, a former police sergeant has sued, complaining of a hostile work environment due to her gender. Sharon Cox said she was told to expect resistance toward a female sergeant and, when she in fact encountered it, was told to live with it. An outside investigator, earlier hired by the city, concluded that Cox did not face a hostile environment based on gender discrimination.

South Lake Union debate

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

Updated at 4:54 p.m. The Seattle City Council today took up one of the most controversial issues in a proposed rezone around South Lake Union: affordable housing. said The Council is considering at least four different proposals that would require developers to devote anywhere between 5 and 15 percent of new SLU housing to low and medium-income residents. Some of the proposals are also designed to assure the lower-rent units are actually built in the SLU neighborhood rather than spread around other parts of the city. After a lengthy discussion that failed to produce a consensus, Councilmember Richard Conlin, who has led the review of the rezone, said everyone should be prepared to vote on the issue next Monday.

Walking Bellevue's future

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

As it pursues its Downtown Livability Initiative, Bellevue is making extra efforts to engage the public. It has now scheduled two walking tours, of about two-and-a-half hours apiece, for those interested in an on-the-ground discussion. The walks will begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 27, and Wednesday, May 1; both days will offer participants a north or south loop route starting at the City Hall Plaza. RSVPs are requested; details are here. Don't look back, Seattle, but someone might be walking up on you.

Commuting/transfers

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

Making transfers on buses in Seattle isn't as easy as it could be. In fact, according to the Seattle Transit Blog, trips that require transfers during off-peak times are often very difficult. This is in marked contrast to straight-shot transit use and peak commute hours. According to Commute Seattle data cited by the blog, during peak commute times we have one of the highest ridership percentages in the country. Writer Frank Chiachiere suggests two immediate priorities:

The first and most basic is to ensure that transfer points are dry, well-lit, safe and with good signage. The second is to increase frequency. He also notes that a recent plan for a route change stumbled on rider concerns about security when transferring on Third Avenue in Downtown Seattle. 

Boston explosions

at 4:37pm by Joe Copeland

Some 525 Washington state runners took part in the Boston Marathon, where explosions killed at least two people this afternoon. The Seattle Times has powerful accounts from some of the local runners and their relatives describing horrible scenes and the luck of leaving the finish line area where the blasts occurred. Alice Snyder of Stanwood told The Times she and family members had made reservations in a restaurant near the finish line to wait for their daughter and son-in-law to finish the race. Luckily, they left the area before the explosions after her daughter slowed down because of shin splints. In a story posted before the explosions, KING5 noted that five of the top 100 men's finishers were from Washington state.On his personal Facebook page, Mayor Mike McGinn wrote: "Our thoughts are with the victims, their families and the people of Boston. We are monitoring the situation." Spokesperson Sgt. Sean Whitcomb posted on the Seattle Police Department's blog that no information indicated a threat to Seattle, but officers were focusing their efforts on infrastructure and neighborhoods. Police advised calling 911 about suspicious activity.Google has launched a person finder to check on people who were at the event.

Friday 12 Apr, 2013

The Arena wins a legal round, but what's with David Stern? WSDOT firing.

Some (fake) love for David Stern!

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

A variety of reports (Seattle Times here; USA Today here) are suggesting that NBA Commissioner David Stern is weighting the scales in favor of Sacramento keeping the Kings. That fits with what Art Thiel wrote for Crosscut on Wednesday: "It appears that the NBA is doing everything it can to push Sacramento into presentability in order to deny" Chris Hansen's Seattle bid for the franchise.But why worry? It's Friday. Instead, let's honor that ancient (2008 or so) Twitter tradition of Follow Friday and point out the @Fake_DavidStern account. It's mildly amusing. But we have the feeling that there are embittered ex-Sonic fans who could provide a broader range of humor about the commish. (Let us know at editor@crosscut.com if you get inspired.)  

Good arena news

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

A judge today dismissed a lawsuit claiming that a new SoDo sports arena would be unlikely to make the profit required under a city initiative. Superior Court Judge Laura Gene Middaugh said the suit could be refiled after the final plans are approved. But, as the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, the attorney for the plaintiff claimed a larger victory: Government officials are already promising that the arena would meet the law's requirements. 

PLU ex-coach dies

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

Former Pacific Lutheran University Forrest "Frosty" Westering, 85, died this afternoon, according to The News Tribune. The story notes that he endured years of losing, while building a program on unselfish, faith-based principles. As a byproduct, the teams started winning. And having fun.

Marv Harshman

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

Longtime University of Washington Men's Basketball Coach Marv Harshman died today at age 95. Just last year, Sportspress Northwest had an extended, truly rich profile of Harshman, a real gentleman. At the time, he was still attending day games occasionally.David Eskenazi and Steve Rudman wrote that University of Washington "suits" shoved Harshman into retirement in 1985. The word is they were looking for a younger face — even as Harshman was producing some of his best teams and led all NCAA Division 1 coaches in victories. But he stuck by the U in retirement. When a former colleague spent weeks in the hospital recovering from a severe burn (much of the time unconscious), Harshman was the only university person to visit daily, for hours at a time.The UW basketball team went through some tough years before settling down under Lorenzo Romar, who as a student had transferred to the UW to play for Harshman. Romar this afternoon told Northwest Cable News: "We lost a great man, obviously his accomplishments speak for themselves, but Marv Harshman the man was a great person, a great mentor."

1 less excuse for budget procrastination?

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

Legislatures have gotten into the habit of delaying the constitutionally mandated work of passing a balanced budget until the state gives its official revenue forecast for the coming biennium. John Stang, who wrote about the issue last week, provides this update:

A Senate bill was introduced Friday to try to give future legislative sessions more time to work on the House and Senate budget proposals. The bipartisan bill, introduced by Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, would move the annual state revenue forecast release from March 20 to Feb. 20.

March 20 is roughly two-thirds into a 105-day legislative session and even deeper into a 60-day short session. Currently, the House and Senate budget proposals cannot be introduced until the March revenue forecast provides income estimates, giving lawmakers a short window in which to agree on a budget. By pushing the forecast date up to Feb.20, more time becomes available for the public and legislators to study the budget proposals, and the two chambers would have more time to debate the merits of each.   

Transportation firing

at 4:03pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Times reports that the Washington State Department of Transportation has fired its top bridge engineer, who oversaw the Highway 520 bridge reconstruction where cracks have been found in the pontoons. One other WSDOT employee has been demoted; there will be no other discipline over the problems. No sign yet of Republican press releases criticizing the action as a mere pretense of accountability. But expect some healthy debate in Olympia, especially with transportation budget decisions still to be made. 

Thursday 11 Apr, 2013

The KOMO bought out. Coal ports get national attention. GoDaddy arrives on Eastside.

EPA and the coal ports

at 4:54pm by Joe Copeland

A Republican senator spoke up for coal ports today during a Senate hearing for Gina McCarthy, President Obama's pick for EPA administrator. Sen. John Barasso, R-Wyoming, greeted her with an opening statement that blamed the EPA's emission rules for unemployment among coal miners and for forcing coal companies to look for export markets in Asia.He also complained about the EPA's stance on an environmental impact review of a coal port proposed near Bellingham:  

Your EPA has written a letter to the Army Corps of Engineers encouraging them to look at the greenhouse gas impacts of allowing coal to be shipped overseas through these West Coast ports.

So, not only have you have blocked the use of coal in power plants domestically, you now are recommending that coal not be shipped, an American product not be able to be shipped and sold overseas.According to NBC News, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, thanked Barasso for making it clear that the whole discussion was really about climate change. Not to mention "whether or not we are going to listen to the leading scientists of this country, who are telling us that global warming is the most serious planetary crisis that we and the global community face."Here's the opening statement, which Barasso's office posted on YouTube. Agree or disagree, it at least comes off pretty reasonably.

Geek appeal

at 4:54pm by Joe Copeland

GoDaddy.com, a leading web site hosting company, is moving into the Seattle market in search of engineering talent, according to a report today from GeekWire's Todd Bishop. The company is leasing in Kirkland and plans to open its own office. Up to 30 people could be hired within months. The report comes on the same day that the New York Times compared the geek appeal of New York City vs. Seattle. Bottom line: Lots of educational opportunity in both Seattle and NYC. NYC has Mayor Michael Bloomberg's new Applied Sciences Initiative, which brings a variety of college offerings together, but there is more opportunity for students to work with data on the West Coast. Plus, how can you keep 'em in the Big Apple once they've seen South Lake Union, the 520 floating bridge and the Microsoft Campus?

Tunnel deja vu

at 4:54pm by Joe Copeland

Meanwhile, the tunnel-boring machine is ready to start doing its thing on the waterfront. Just in time for activists to rally around another initiative against it. As the Seattle Times reported recently, the "tunnel termination" measure, created by tunnel opponent and one-time mayoral candidate Elizabeth Campbell, would require another public vote on the tunnel. It could go to the Legislature next January. Warning to Oregon and LaHood: In Washington state, it's never too late 

Senate bickering

at 4:54pm by Joe Copeland

Two state Democratic senators today sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood (a Republican), expressing their regret for what they describe as the "undignified reception" he received in Olympia from the Republican-dominated Majority Caucus Coalition.Republican Sen. Don Benton, in particular, boasted in a Republican blog post that he'd demolished LaHood in a discussion over the proposed Columbia River Crossing. Did we say boasting? Or crowing. Or strutting: The headline reads "Benton 1, U.S. transportation secretary 0." "[I]t wasn’t even a fair fight," Benton reports in the post. "I’d say we schooled the transportation secretary in a way he couldn’t possibly have expected."This could get juicier, too. Republicans took down a video of the discussion and deleted a tweet about it. According to a Senate Democratic spokesperson, LaHood and his host, Gov. Jay Inslee, hadn't been told they were being recorded. Which would be illegal under Washington state law. A spokesperson for the Republican Caucus took a number to return a call for comment.Luckily, for all of us Senate gossip-mongers, a YouTube user by the name of "Otis Firefly" managed to save the video, so you can see for yourself who came out on top.

KOMO sale

at 4:54pm by Joe Copeland

The big, Maryland-based Sinclair Broadcasting Group today bought Fisher Broadcasting, the longtime owner of KOMO radio and TV as well as several other radio stations here and 19 other television stations. The Seattle Times Jon Talton sums it up with his typical direct insight as "bad news" for Seattle; a loss of corporate jobs and "distinct local voice." Scott Sunde at seattlepi.com notes Sinclair's conservative leanings, including a report that it forced all its stations to air an anti-John Kerry piece two weeks before the 2004 election.

Wednesday 10 Apr, 2013

The Democrats want more school money. McGinn wants transit studies quickly. Sacramento elevates its game.

Rainier Beach High School

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

There have been signs that things are looking up for Rainier Beach High School, which has frequently had academic achievement problems over the years. Most visibly, it received approval last month to launch a coveted International Baccalaureate program beginning in the fall. The 37th District Democrats just posted this video of what looks like a worthwhile panel discussion about Rainier Beach and Southeast Seattle education issues generally.

Sacramento: We're right there

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

California Senate leader Darrell Steinberg is reportedly boasting that Sacramento's NBA offer matches dollar-for-dollar that of the Seattle investment group led by hedge fund manager Chris Hansen. MyNorthwest.com's Stephanie Klein notes that the Seattle group could still up its offer. Who says NBA Commissioner David Stern is stressed about the difficulty of this decision? Art Thiel is working on a column about the NBA's decision making.

Transit study

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Mike McGinn said today that he wants to move up studies on possible transit projects to cross the Ship Canal as part of a Downtown-Fremont-Ballard streetcar route and to connect South Lake Union with the University District on high capacity transit, possibly rail. The proposal, according to the mayor's press release, is "to help ensure both projects can be eligible for competitive federal grants and other funding sources." Nothing to do with the competition in the mayor's race, right?

WSU beating arrest

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

Pullman police made one arrest in connection with the severe beating of Washington State University instructor Dr. David Warner, who remains in critical condition in a Spokane hospital. The school's Daily Evergreen paper reported that Police Chief Gary Jenkins announced the arrest at a Native American Student Center gathering. Warner is Native American as well as a lifelong resident of Pullman. His research interests include tribal sovereignty. A press conference was scheduled for late afternoon. WSU President Elson Floyd had earlier announced a $10,000 reward, expressed disappointment at a lack of help on campus in the search for suspects and said he is setting up a Commission on Campus Climate:

Dr. Warner’s attack has revealed an underlying fear and anger among some on campus regarding issues of race and marginalization. These must be addressed. I am creating a new Commission on Campus Climate to give shape to the discourse and to develop specific action steps to improving the situation. I can assure you, this will not be “yet another task force.”

Implementing Dignity

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine today, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance researchers said that patients and caregivers there have been generally well-satisfied with a program that allows the terminally ill to make use of the state's Death with Dignity law. A statement from the Alliance said the program was "rarely used." In a rougly 32 month period, only 114 patients inquired about the option; 24 eventually took a lethal prescription. The study said:

The most common reasons for participation were loss of autonomy (97.2%), inability to engage in enjoyable activities (88.9%) and loss of dignity (75.0%). … Qualitatively, patients and families were grateful to receive the lethal prescription, whether it was used or not.

Democrats' budget

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

House Democrats today released their proposed state budget, which they trumpeted as "best for schools." The budget plan dedicates a whopping $1.9 billion in new spending to public school education. Much of it will go to meet the state Supreme Court's McCleary ruling on the shortchanging of Washington's constitutional obligation to fund schools. Republicans were less impressed, with Sen. Mike Hewitt saying the Democrats' real priority is taxes. Crosscut's John Stang will sort through the numbers and rhetoric in a story later.

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