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Thursday 25 Apr, 2013

The NBA will break some hearts. A win for south King Co. Feds go after fake Chihuly case.

NBA: Expansion is out

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

NBA Commissioner David Stern said today that either Seattle or Sacramento is going to be disappointed, according to the Sacramento Bee and other media. As Sportspress Northwest interprets it, this isn't the first time Stern has said there will be no make-everyone-happy expansion solution, but his repetition of the message underlines the NBA's rejection of the (sensible) option. Stern also said the final decision won't come until May 13, or close to that date. A committee of league owners will make its recommendation on Monday, instead of tomorrow, as Stern had earlier indicated.

Graduation roadblock

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Schools Superintendent José Banda said today that there are approximately 80 high school seniors who are in danger of being unable to graduate this year solely because they are coming up short on new state math requirements. In a letter to the students and their families, Banda said the district has concluded it can't get a waiver. He outlined a host of options, including retaking an end-of-course exam for either algebra or geometry and using SAT/ACT test scores as an alternative demonstration of competence.Banda notes that some of the options would mean waiting until November to receive a diploma. OK, but in a city with tons of brilliant science and math workers, isn't there a way to mobilize enough volunteer tutors or mentors to make sure this doesn't happen in the future?

Chihuly fakes

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

Federal authorities today arrested a Renton man  for offering fake Dale Chihuly glass pieces and paintings. Sadly, the case that brought it to attention involved a man who had wanted  to donate works by Chihuly to a museum at Gonzaga University and ended up spending $22,000. Jen Graves, The Stranger's outstanding arts critic, asks about the case against Michael Little:

If the accusations are true, I wonder:

Were they good forgeries?

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

Chihuly has expert glassblowers fabricating his pieces, and he employs at least one man who specializes in making his splattery paintings. Who made these forgeries? Little himself? Or was he just the trafficker?Chihuly is noted for his arguably over-aggressive assertion of rights. But, if the allegations are true, this sounds like one of the meanest and oldest tricks in the arts theft world.

Micro apartment

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

sThere have been calls for a moratorium on apodment construction in Seattle. Part of the concern comes from the city's exemption of the new units from normal neighborhood notification and design rules (How on Earth does a city manage to come up with something that goofy just to promote density?). But, as Seattle Times editorial writer Thanh Tan notes in an excellent, video-illustrated posting this afternoon, fixing the shortcoming doesn't require a moratorium. And it's possible to mix quality with micro-housing. Tan includes a neat ABC News video from Tokyo that is very informative, even kind of inspirational. But a couple of points that ought to raise questions in Seattle: The best Japanese apodments seem to have kitchens in each unit, unlike what the city is encouraging. And note that even the tiny units featured in Tokyo seem to be larger than some of the 150 to 200 square feet apartments that have been mentioned here. 

Sound Transit

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

Sound Transit is breaking ground on a 1.6 mile extension of its Link lightrail line, which currently ends at Sea-Tac Airport. The extension, which will end at a new station at Angle Lake, is expected to be finished in 2016, four years ahead of an original promise to voters. Finally, a good rail option for the growing communities of Des Moines, Kent and south SeaTac. The event is at 11 a.m. Friday at 19863 28th Avenue S., SeaTac. Sen. Patty Murray and Gov. Jay Inslee will speak. Details here.

Wednesday 24 Apr, 2013

The Seattle traffic better (a little). A little mercy on toll bridge fines. Who will get blamed for M's woes?

M's scapegoat watch starts ... now!

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

The Mariners lost today. Again. To the Houston Astros, generally predicted to be baseball's worst team this year. The 10-3 whumping ran the M's record against the Astros to 2-4. Since there's no prospect for change at the tippy top of the organization, General Manager Jack Zduriencik or Manager Eric Wedge will become the most likely targets of any let's-look-like-somebody-cares firing.

Tolling: A day in court

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

Under a bill passed unanimously in both houses of the Legislature, Highway 520 and Tacoma Narrows Bridge users will get the chance to complain to a judge about citations they've received for failure to pay their toll bill. The measure, sponsored by Kirkland Rep. Cyrus Habib, lets administrative law judges consider a number of mitigating factors that could justify either reducing or waiving the penalty ($40). Among those mitigating factors: hospitalization, military service and failure of the state to send a bill. Bellevue Patch says the current billing system has been "plagued with problems," including many cases in which people never receive their original billings. The governor has to sign the legislation, which is set to go into effect 90 days after the legislative session ends.

Reefer Madness: Courthouse Edition

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

Prosecutors are urging legislators to fix the state's new marijuana legalization law. Immediately. There's some highly technical language in Initiative 502 that uses delta-9 THC levels to distinguish between pot and industrial hemp. Some recreational marijuana has lower levels until it's burned, at which point it generates higher concentrations of THC. In big possession cases, the potential legal impact of this THC concentration transformation has King County holding off on some cases, according to an Associated Press report. 502 sponsor, Alison Holcomb, agrees with the need for a change. But to make that change happen the Legislature needs to override its normal bill deadlines. Given the chance for a photo op showing Senator X and Represenative Y in strong support of law enforcement, let's consider this a done deal. 

Traffic congestion a little better

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

A new study says the Puget Sound region has seen a slight improvement in traffic congestion, defying a national trend and the normal (more congested) effects of an economic recovery. A spokesperson for Kirkland-based Inrix's Traffic Scorecard tells The Seattle Times' Mike Lindblom that the heavy use of transit in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties was one factor in cutting our average time behind the wheel. (Seattle-area drivers wasted 35 hours annually in 2012, down from 39 hours for 2011.) Also helping to reduce drive times: a lot of people here make good use of apps and the Washington State Department of Transportation's web site to avoid traffic delays. Very smart of us — and green.

South Sound 911

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

Puyallup has reached an agreement for the upgrading its radio towers and equipment. It's all part of Pierce County's effort to improve emergency communications. The News Tribune said the South Sound 911 governing board today agreed to pay for the  improvements in Puyallup as part of larger, regional upgrades expected to be completed next year. In 2011, Pierce County voters created South Sound 911 and funded it with a .1 percent sales sales tax. Puyallup, where politics seems to be a blood sport, isn't a member but under the agreement it could join later.

Lip dubbing at Everett High

at 4:15pm by Joe Copeland

It's spring and high school students are starting to think about the end of the school year. Everett High School students can now check "annual lip dub" off their to-do list. This video, published Wednesday, has some nice energy at what appears to be an all-school event. 

Tuesday 23 Apr, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.  

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.


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. 

Monday 22 Apr, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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. 

Friday 19 Apr, 2013

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

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.

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?

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."

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." 

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.

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. 

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. 

Thursday 18 Apr, 2013

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Wednesday 17 Apr, 2013

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

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.”

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

Tuesday 16 Apr, 2013

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

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. 

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.

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.

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.  

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?

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. 

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.

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? 

Monday 15 Apr, 2013

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


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. 

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday 12 Apr, 2013

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

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. 

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.   

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."

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.

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. 

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.)  

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