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Friday 3 May, 2013

The Military beefs up in WA. Planning Seattle's parks future. A traffic doozy.

Public lands, public no more

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

An apartment developer is suing the city of Sumner over the municipality's plan to sell a municipal golf course, The News Tribune reported today. Investco's Six Kilns Apartment — a complex planned near the Sumner Meadows Golf Links — alleges that the sale of open space violates the city's own open space plans. The city tells The News Tribune's Kari Plog that's not so, and the land won't necessarily be converted to an industrial warehouse park development, as Six Kilns alleges. Holy mackerel. Would somebody tell the city that once public land is gone, it's gone. They ain't making no more (except on Hawaii's Big Island).  

Military beefing up

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

The Pentagon plans to base more units at both Naval Station Everett and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen said today. The Navy wants to double, to nearly 50, the number of anti-submarine P-8A Poseidon airplanes it will assign to Whidbey. The Poseidons are a new Boeing long-range jet equipped with torpedos, missiles, bombs and mines; the planes can be used for surveillance, reconnaissance and sea or air battles.At Everett, the Navy is accelerating its schedule to bring in three destroyers, which will replace three frigates that are being mothballed, the congressman said. And the Navy told him it plans to keep Everett as the homeport for the aircraft carrier through 2020. Larsen said, "“I have worked for over a decade with local leaders to make the case to the Navy why Northwest Washington is the best place to base these assets. The Navy clearly agrees." Well, now we know the low-profile congressman has been doing something

Plan your parks

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Parks Department next week will kick off a series of meetings that will have a big say in the future of the city's open space and recreational opportunities. The hearings will focus on the department's recent Parks Legacy Plan, which says the city's ability to maintain and operate parks is not keeping pace with land acquisitions. The draft plan appears to lay the groundwork for a new parks levy to go before voters as early as next year.One issue that seems likely to surface: Will the levy add to the city's increasing reliance on special levies to fund day-to-day operations? The hearings on the plan begin with a meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Parks and Administration Building, 100 Dexter Ave. N. Details on the series of meetings around the city through May 22 are here

A Bloomsday scorcher

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

It looks like the weather for Sunday's Bloomsday run in Spokane will be the warmest in 21 years, according to The Spokesman-Review. So, drink lots of liquids, OK? And enjoy. If you're suddenly inspired — by the weather, the urge to defy people who want to scare others, the presence of 78-year-old SI cover guy Bill Iffrig or other Boston Marathon participants who undoubtedly will be there without the same publicity — you've got unil 6:30 p.m. Saturday to register in person: details here

Traffic doozy

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

The weather will be great. There are lots of events. And the events will mean that people should be ready for occasional traffic disruptions, the Seattle Department of Transportation says. The Opening Day Boat Parade and Windermere Cup race will close the Montlake Bridge much of the day Saturday. Many streets around Seattle Center and in Belltown will be closed Saturday morning for the annual March of Dimes for Babies. And there will be several other events, including a 5K run, a food truck rodeo and Cinco de Mayo parties, creating street closures. Details here. Plus, there will be a weekend closure of the Mercer on- and off-ramps to I-5.

sleuth of mayoral debates">

A sleuth of mayoral debates

at 4:38pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle mayor race's debating season got underway in earnest this week. If you didn't catch our stories, here are reports from a forum at the Georgetown campus of South Seattle Community and an education forum at Garfield High School. Our next candidate infographic profile — of Tim Burgess — will appear Monday. Seattle Channel has videos of both available. Here's the full-meal deal from the Georgetown event.

Thursday 2 May, 2013

The Metro cuts guidebook. May Day aftermath. A win for Iranian-Americans

May Day aftermath

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

The cleanup from May Day started early this morning with city prosecutors filing misdemeanor charges against six people. The six are accused of participating in disturbances downtown and on Capitol Hill that included rock throwing, smoke bombs and broken windows. The prosecutor's office said that at least three others who posted bail overnight face possible charges. A Seattle Police Department tally said 17 people had been arrested so far; officers are seeking video and photos as they continue to investigate.Eight officers were injured, mostly bumps and bruises. But one officer, a woman, was reported to have had a more serious injury from being struck on the knee by a fist-sized rock that was thrown. 

McGinn plays the 'disappointed' card

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

Late Wednesday, Mayor Mike McGinn expressed concern that the May Day violence would hurt Seattle's reputation, according to reports in The Seattle Times and elsewhere. “We’re a bigger, better city than this," he said. "I’m disappointed that this is the picture that the world sees of us.” This morning he was at a Cascade Bicycle Club breakfast, where Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com reports the mayor said he appreciates the police department's work. "They did the job they were asked to do," he said. He also said he'd be meeting with police to review their performance.Given the U.S. Department of Justice settlement requiring reform of police practices around the use of force, McGinn is probably smart not to get all boosterish about the results of a just-completed operation. But here's an initial personal reaction, unencumbered by any political response: Great work by the officers and their commanders. And, if the police strategy of permitting free speech let a few people push the limits, Seattle can be proud of that. Even though, as McGinn notes, hooliganism is pretty lame as an annual event.

A win for Iranian-Americans

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee today appointed Bellevue-based attorney Susan Amini to fill a vacancy on the King County Superior Court. Amini is Iranian-American and, when she starts the position on May 13, will become the first American of Middle Eastern descent to hold a Superior Court judgeship in state history. She's well-qualified, according to various judicial groups that rated her when she made a run for a judgeship in 2008. She has served as a trustee at Overlake Hospital and a Bellevue Human Rights Commission member. Her son, Cyrus Habib, recently became the first Iranian-American legislator elected in the country when he became a state representative for the Eastside's 48th Legislative District.

What's the deal with Metro cuts

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

?Seattle Transit Blog this morning posted a helpful guide to the fiscal cliff facing Metro Transit. The potential cuts to buses will be one of the most important King County issues before the Legislature when it comes back to work May 13. As businesses, environmentalists and public officials have kept telling lawmakers, it's vital to renew the temporary local-taxing authority for a $20 per year tax on vehicles, 60 percent of which is spent on transit. Otherwise, Metro Transit will have to cut service 17 percent next year.Most people can't believe that the state would refuse to let its biggest county decide on its own transportation taxation and needs. Especially when businesses are saying job creation would be at risk in the state's main economic engine — Seattle-King County. But anti-Seattle fever is pretty much a permanent, low-grade condition in the Capitol, ready to flare up at any point. 

Tulalip cultural-revival leader dies

at 4:46pm by Joe Copeland

Hank Gobin, the 71-year-old cultural resources director of the Tulalip Tribes, has died. The Herald writes that the he had dreamed of creating a cultural museum for the tribe — and achieved that dream with the 2011 opening of the Hibulb Cultural Center. He had a masters degree in painting from California State University Sacramento and taught art and ethnic studies before returning to the Tulalip reservation in 1989. He also played a role in the revival of the Lushootseed language and the tribal family canoe journey. This video highlights some of the exhibits at the Cultural Center.  

Wednesday 1 May, 2013

The Lots of peaceful talk, some minor troublemaking on May Day. In David Stern we trust. What's that big yellow thing?

Much ado about May Day 

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

Upated at 8:43 p.m. May Day protests in Seattle went peacefully with the exception of a final one in the early evening. As Jordan Royer reported, police felt they were well prepared for events. And the vast majority of the demonstrators wanted to keep it peaceful — as most do every year. Joel Connelly on seattlepi.com praises the peaceful, well-organized marches and speakers in Seattle, Spokane and Yakima advocating for immigration reform. For about a half-hour beginning shortly before 8 p.m., there were arrests and pepper spray following reports of people throwing things at police. They were a part of the final march, which originated around Seattle Central Community College. KING5 reported that one woman officer appeared to have suffered a leg injury. Crosscut's Tom James has been covering the demonstrations and will have a story and photos later.

In David Stern we trust

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

NBA Commissioner David Stern says "public trust" was a factor in the league committee's decision to recommend Sacramento for a franchise over Seattle. Stern says the committee took Sacramento's community support into account, rather than basing their decision solely on market size and potential revenue.One potential workaround was highlighted by Nick Eaton on seattlepi.com. He notes that Chris Hansen's Seattle-based group could technically buy the Kings and only temporarily keep them in Sacramento a la the Oklahoma City group that said it wanted to keep the Sonics here. We wouldn't wish that kind of NBA-branded "public trust" on anyone.

Fatal bike accident

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

Updated at 5:15 p.m. A bicyclist died in a collision with a semi-truck on East Marginal Way at S. Hanford Street. Witnesses told KING 5 that the truck had cleared the intersection when the bicylist hit the rear tires; other reports said it wasn't immediately clear exactly how the accident occurred. Seattle Police said the cyclist was in his mid-50s. The accident was reported around 7:15 a.m. An updated Seattle Times report has good material exploring some of the traffic difficulties for cyclists at the intersection and along Marginal Way.

Newcomers face off in Bellevue race

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

At least two challengers will seek the Bellevue City Council seat held by longtime member Don Davidson. Vandanna Slatter, a clinical pharmacologist, has decided to target Davidson's seat, Bellevue Patch reported today. Slatter has raised $36,000, according to state Public Disclosure Commission filings. Another challenger for the seat, business owner Lynne Robinson, has raised $25,000. Davidson hasn't reported any donations. Both challengers have public office experience. Robinson is a Bellevue Parks Commissioner and Slatter served on the state Board of Pharmacology.Two other incumbent council members, Kevin Wallace and Mayor Conrad Lee, don't have any declared opponents yet. Wallace leads all fundraising with $42,000. Slatter had earlier said she might challenge him.

What's that yellow thing in the sky?

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

Whether May Day is your thing or not, May 1 brought sun for the Northwest to celebrate. Of course, as this video suggests, knowing what to do with sun can be a challenge in Seattle.

Tuesday 30 Apr, 2013

The 520 bridge, Take 2. Onions not only Walla Walla stink. Police & city finally agree on something.

A very bad trip

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

A fire in the Sea-Tac Airport garage destroyed at least eight cars and damaged 10 others today. According to KIRO 7 News, the fire appeared to have been caused by a mechanical problem in a BMW or Prius on the north end of the garage's sixth floor. Officials said cars are often parked there for several days mid-week while business people are traveling. Now there's a surprise you don't want to return to.

Police, city finally agree on something

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

The city and the Seattle Police Officers Guild this afternoon announced a tentative deal for a four-year contract that would ensure Seattle officers remain the highest paid in the state. The guild agreed to drop its legal challenge to changes in police practices on use of force implemented under an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice, according to a Seattle Times report.Nobody was saying immediately how much the wage increases will be. In a statement, City Council public safety chair Bruce Harrell said officers haven't received a raise since 2010. He also had this line: "We demand a lot from our police department and I have faith in their ability to meet and succeed our expectations." As in, expectations for keeping things calm on the streets, say, tomorrow (May Day)?

Bike to Work month

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Bike Month's Commute Challenge will start on Wednesday, so expect to see more spring-inspired bikers on the way to work. Various events will highlight biking in Bellevue and Everett and biking to school. The Cascade Bike Blog has the details.

Onions not the only Walla Walla stink

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

Sen. Mike Hewitt's co-sponsorship of a bill to allow business owners to discriminate based on religious beliefs has drawn fury from what Western Washingtonians might consider an unlikely source: his hometown of Walla Walla. As a Walla Walla Union-Bulletin story reports, part of the concern came from offensive remarks by a staffer. Asked how gays in a rural area could get along if the sole nearby grocer or service station refused them service, the aide reportedly suggested they'd have to grow their own food. Eastern Washington tourism officials were privately treating the situation as an emergency. The paper reported widespread calls for a boycott and heavy criticism from tourism-dependent businesses.As the paper noted, it's ironic that Walla Walla is also home to profile-in-courage Republican Rep. Maureen Walsh, who cast a key vote for gay marriage last year. Double irony: Hewitt and his staff were cowardly failing to return any of the local paper's calls or emails.

520, Take 2

at 5:12pm by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation said "the second cycle of new pontoons" for the new Highway 520 floating bridge is en route from the Aberdeen casting yard. The first set, if you recall as WSDOT surely does, turned out to have a costly ($100 million) problem with cracks. Maybe it's a good sign that WSDOT is trying to be transparent in announcing milestones now. And, hey, at least in the video below, the pontoons float.

Monday 29 Apr, 2013

The No NBA team for Seattle. Gun initiative launched. A rescue in Bellevue.

NBA rejects Seattle

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

Updated at 4:14 p.m.The Sacramento Bee reports that a committee of NBA owners has rejected a move to Seattle for the Sacramento Kings. Worse, the vote was unanimous. The Bee's initial report at 2:04 p.m. cited "a source," but the posting was quickly updated to say that the league had confirmed the vote. The finance and relocation committee's recommendation to reject Seattle next goes to the NBA's board of governors for a final decision. The league's vote isn't expected until May 13, but the owners almost certainly will follow the recommendation from the committee.USA Today NBA writer Sam Amick said this: 

Hedge fund manager Chris Hansen and Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer agreed to buy the team from the Maloof family that owns them for a valuation of $525 million, then later upped their purchase price for 65% of the team to $550 million. But as has been the case since the story began, Sacramento mayor and former NBA point guard Kevin Johnson countered and, barring a surprising late twist, appears to have kept his hometown's team from leaving.

Reactions to NBA

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

The political reactions have started. Mayor Mike McGinn, who gained some political traction with his support for a proposed sports arena in the SoDo district, said, "I’m proud of how Sonics fans have rallied together to help Seattle get a team. We’re going to stay focused on our job: making sure Seattle remains in a position to get a team when the opportunity presents itself.”County Executive Dow Constantine, another supporter of the arena, said in a statement: “I’m disappointed, but undeterred in our quest to bring NBA basketball back to the Pacific Northwest. Today’s decision doesn’t mean this effort is over. … We have a documented fan and business base ready to step forward when the time comes."Peter Steinbrueck, a challenger to McGinn in the mayor's race and an opponent of the SoDo arena, said he was relieved that the NBA rejection will offer the city a chance to reconsider the impacts of another sports venue in an area of industrial operations and heavy port traffic. He said, “I will work to bring professional basketball to Seattle in the future, should the NBA consider an expansion team.  Now we have the opportunity to work together to make independent and informed decisions that put public interest first, over wealthy special interests."

Gun initiative launched

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

Faith-based and gun-control leaders today announced an initiative to require universal background checks for gun purchasers in Washington state. If enough signatures are gathered, the measure would require the Legislature to pass the mandate or put the measure to voters in the fall of 2014.The Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, a gun-control group, will run the initiative campaign. But faith-based groups took part in the announcement, and Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com has a powerful report on their determination to make a difference. Connelly notes the ability of the NRA and other groups to short-circuit previous efforts at gun control:

What is different this time? “Sustained moral outrage” and “focused moral outrage,” answered the Very Rev. Steve Thomason, dean of St. Mark’s (Episcopal) Cathedral. “We can beat the gun lobby’s decades of organizing and fundraising and make a difference,” added Rabbi Daniel Weiner of Temple De Hirsch Sinai.

The faith community has shown strength in numbers here. It put more than 800 people onto Seattle streets for a downtown [gun-control] march in early winter, and nearly 900 for services at St. Mark’s and St. James, and a 1.4 mile march between the Capitol Hill and First Hill cathedrals.Gov. Inslee wants the Legislature to do more on gun control during its special session. But it’s clear that the gun-control supporters aren’t willing to bet on that.

Mayoral recall election

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

A group of Pacific residents today filed a petition to recall Cy Sun as mayor of the troubled community of Pacific. KOMO reports that 556 signatures were turned in to the King County Elections Office; a minimum of 425 must be ruled valid to force the recall vote.The state Supreme Court ruled just last Thursday that the recall’s charges were sufficient to justify an election. The petitions accuse him of attempting to use the police department for personal purposes and jeopardizing the city’s liability insurance by failing to appoint city department heads. Five of eight department heads were fired or quit shortly after Sun took office last year. He’s facing a civil lawsuit from a former police chief and four officers who were fired or forced to quit.Sun has proclaimed himself to be fighting “corruption.”

Bellevue

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

rescue

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

A volunteer chaplain for Bellevue’s police and fire departments last Thursday provided first aid for a man who collapsed without a pulse at the King and I restaurant. According to a Bellevue Patch story today, Chaplain Mike Ryan told restaurant staff to summon aid while he performed CPR. The emergency crew used an AED machine to restart the man’s pulse. The restaurant patron felt so good that it took some convincing before he agreed to be taken to a nearby hospital for a checkup.

Champion Frisbee action on Alki

at 2:22pm by Joe Copeland

The Spread the Jam Project, which promotes freestyle Frisbee, last week published a video of World Freestyle Disc Champion Randy Silvey performing some of his signature moves on Alki Beach. The group has previously released videos of stars at various New York City locations.

Friday 26 Apr, 2013

The Police reform ups & downs. Loss for County Council. Biking vulnerably.

Seattle Police oversight

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Federally appointed police monitor Merrick Bobb today issued a mixed report on the Seattle Police Department's efforts to reform its use of force practices. A Seattle Times story reports Bobb is concerned about much of the department being "dug in" against changes. But he praises Interim Chief Jim Pugel — who can certainly use the praise amid news reports of his apologies for his 1980s' participation in a music video mocking Seattle's homeless. Crosscut's Matt Fikse has more on that. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn today nominated Boise city ombudsman Pierce Murphy as the city's new director of the Office of Professional Accountability, the office that recommends discipline of police officers. McGinn's announcement included praise for Murphy from federal monitor Bobb. That's an especially big deal for two reasons: The argument-loving McGinn has had to extricate himself from fights with Bobb and the U.S. Department of Justice over federal involvement in local police reform here. And in developing the case behind Bobb's appointment, the U.S. Department of Justice had expressed concerns about a lack of strong disciplinary recommendations from the Professional Accountability office.

Julia Patterson departing County Council

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

King County Councilmember Julia Patterson today announced that she won't seek re-election when her term ends this year. Patterson has served since 2001, establishing herself as a council leader on social service, transportation and budget issues. She's currently a vice chair. Her south King County district, which is increasingly Democratic, includes parts of Renton, Kent, Des Moines, SeaTac and Burien. The council is officially nonpartisan, but nobody is confused about where loyalties lie: Patterson was previously a Democratic state legislator and the district itself is increasingly going that way too.The press release announcing her departure — no other immediate plans announced — hit the nail on the head:

As a fierce supporter of equity and social justice issues, Patterson committed herself to standing up for struggling and working class families, as well as immigrants and refugees facing language and cultural barriers.

Biking vulnerably

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Prosecutors have barely used a state law to increase penalties for drivers who hit bicyclists, pedestrians and other "vulnerable" roadway users, according to a report on the Cascade Bike Blog. One exception: The Seattle City Attorney's office (which also helped get the law passed in 2011) won fines totaling some $11,000 in January against a driver who blew through a stop sign and seriously injured a cyclist in the Ballard-Fremont area last fall. A court later threw out the fine on a procedural issue, but a spokesperson said today the office is preparing an appeal.The cyclist, Heather Barnett, spent five days in a hospital and months in a wheelchair. The blog author Anne-Marije Rook explains the penalties this way:

Under the Vulnerable User Law, which Cascade worked to pass through the Washington Legislature in 2011, a driver committing a traffic infraction — such as speeding, texting while driving or running a stop sign — that results in the serious injury or death of a vulnerable roadway user will face an automatic fine of up to $5,000 and a 90-day suspension of driving privileges.The law lays out options for reduced penalties on first offenses.

Fishing and restaurant worries

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Sen. Maria Cantwell said today that proposed mining development near Alaska's Bristol Bay would devastate salmon "and the thousands of Washington state jobs that depend on them.” Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com quotes her in reporting on an EPA analysis of the Pebble Mine project proposed there. Cantwell has been worried for months about job loss in restaurants and among the Seattle-based fishing fleet if the project is approved in Bristol Bay, where about half of the world's sockeye salmon harvest originates.

Weekend traffic

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Going somewhere? Patience may be required. The Washington State Department of Transportation has several projects this weekend involving lane closures:

  • Up to two left lanes of southbound I-5 from Northeast Ravenna Boulevard to Boylston Avenue from 10 p.m. Friday to 10 a.m. Saturday.
  • Up to three lanes of northbound I-5 between South Albro Place and South Spokane Street from 10 p.m. Friday to 7:30 a.m. Saturday.
  • Up to three lanes of northbound I-5 between South Albro Place and South Spokane Street from 11:59 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday for expansion.
  • Up to two lanes of southbound I-405 between Northeast 195th and SR 522 from 8 p.m. Saturday to 8 a.m. Sunday.
  • Up to three lanes of southbound I-405 between SR 522 and Northeast 128th Street from 8 p.m. Saturday to 7 a.m. Sunday.

At least the projects avoid the heaviest travel periods, right?

"Boeing, Boeing"

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Rep's production of the decades-old "Boeing, Boeing" drew a mixed review this morning from The Seattle Times — even though the Rep got at least $50,000 from both Boeing and Alaska Airlines for the production, as the Puget Sound Business Journal reports. The play is from "The Mad Men" era of prosperity when air travel was growing and the sexual revolution was taking off. Times critic Misha Berson praises the performance of quite a few performers, including Anne Allgood. Crosscut's Alice Kaderlan's recent interview of Allgood is here.Here's a video highlight, which the Business Journal also used:

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.

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. 

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. 

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