Load More

Friday 4 Apr, 2014

The Banning a book: for inspirational effect? Parks plan tension. Inslee vetoes a bipartisan bill.

Oso benefits

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Speaking of getting out and about: You can listen to music and support Oso mudslide victims at the same time. The Herald has a list of  about a dozen benefits over the next two weeks in Snohomish County and farther north. Northwest Music Scene has what appears to be a running list here that covers a bit broader geography, including a few events in Seattle, Redmond and Tacoma. 

National-forest Pass

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

In case getting outside is just a little too inconvenient for you, you’ll soon be able to purchase a one-day recreational pass for national forests in Washington and Oregon online. The U.S. Forest Service, in partnership with the non-profit, Discover Your Northwest, is selling these new ePasses for $5 a pop, according to a Seattle Times item.The passes won’t cover Sno-Parks, but they’ll certainly make last-minute trip-planning easier: Instead of dealing with the roundabout challenge of finding a ranger station or store, you can print your pass and be on your way before you even reach the trailhead. Now all we need is an app. that fulfills the second half of the work and hikes up the mountain for us. Oh wait: that may already be covered.

Today in Olympia 

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

  • Gov. Jay Inslee vetoed a bill that legislators passed to provide privacy protections in regard to the use of drones by state agencies and to ensure that an elected body, such as the Legislature or a city council, approved any agency's purchase of an unmanned aircraft. Inslee called the bill "complicated" and said he would appoint a task force to come up with better recommendations. Influential fellow Democrat Rep. Jeff Morris said he was "very disappointed" and praised the bill, introduced by Republican Rep. David Taylor, at some length. Crosscut's John Stang has a full report here. — J.C. 

Parks district hearing

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

A City Council committee will hold a hearing Monday on a Mayor Ed Murray-backed proposal for a brand new taxing authority to finance parks in the city. The council could fast track the property-tax proposal to appear on the low-turnout August ballot, when the support of committed supporters could be decisive. The idea has lots of influential support — including from the Seattle Parks Foundation, the Woodland Park Zoo and the Aquarium, the latter two of which would be likely to receive funding.But the hearing turnout will be interesting: A January hearing conducted by the group that developed the proposal for the council drew what a Seattle Times headline summed up as a "tepid response" from the public. On Thursday, neighborhood activists filed a complaint with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, charging that top parks staff coordinated a poll of likely voters about a possible parks levy. The complaint alleges that state law forbids public agencies from conducting polls designed to influence elections or shape public policy around likely voter sentiment. The poll was conducted and overseen outside the department. A parks spokesperson said officials had no information about the complaint. The policy at Ethics and Elections is not to comment on the filing of a complaint, so it was impossible to confirm it had filed. Crosscut received a copy Thursday afternoon.  — J.C. 

Idaho bans a book

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

A big Idaho school district just outside Boise has banned Sherman Alexie’s book, “The True Diary of a Part-Time Indian.” Although a local high school student, named Brady Kissel, presented a petition against the ban with 350 signatures on it, the Meridian school board wouldn't budge, according to seattlepi.com. An Idaho report said parents wanted more inspirational literature. The highly acclaimed novel by the Seattle-based Alexie deals with a 14-year-old tribal student's growing up in an all-white school. Instead of reading a classic piece of Northwest literature, Meridian students, like most high school students throughout the nation, will now be reading light-hearted tales — say, "A Separate Peace" or "Catcher in the Rye" — whose plots are unequivocally inspirational — or maybe just revolve around main characters who are considered light-skinned enough to be uplifting. — K.H. 

Thursday 3 Apr, 2014

The Bertha getting a new part? Congress gives Darrington a boost. Measles alert.

Coffee in your muffin?

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

Another green creation derived from waste will soon arrive in our muffins. Bellevue’s Intellectual Ventures patent firm backed the startup Coffee Flour, the brainchild of Starbucks veteran Dan Belliveau, according to GeekWire. Another Starbucks veteran, Ken Poppe, led Intellectual Ventures work on the idea. Normally, the material separated from the coffee cherry and the bean is discarded; but by milling the pulp down to granules, a protein-rich, gluten-free flour is created. Coffee Flour is a good substitute for wheat and other flours in a variety of baked goods and other recipes. The invention could generate revenue for small coffee farmers.  — H.W. 

Hunger strike isolation challenged

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

Local legal groups have gone to court to try to protect detainees engaged in a hunger strike from being kept in isolation at a Tacoma detention center. The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington and Seattle-based Columbia Legal Services expect a court hearing on their request for a temporary restraining order against U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The legal groups say the detention is clearly being used as punishment for an exercise of First Amendment rights. — J.C. 

Free corporate speech

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

City Councilmember Mike O'Brien and several community groups on Thursday blasted the U.S. Supreme Court's latest ruling overturning limits on campaign donations. The McCutcheon decision, issued Wednesday, will remove the overall cap on campaign donations. Meaning that any person in any two-year election cycle can give any amount of money to any and all campaigns, parties and political action committees. In a press release, O’Brien called the decision another "disastrous step” towards the purchase of elections and warned against a “pay-to-play system” of democracy. — K.H.

Measles in the air

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

This should have a lot of people checking their medical histories. In late March, a Whatcom County woman contracted measles (her case is linked to an outbreak in the B.C. area). The state Health Department says the virus remained dormant as she unknowingly tripped around popular tourist destinations in King and Pierce counties, including Key Arena, the Best Western Loyal Inn, Starbucks in Pike Place Market, the market itself and Beth’s Café. In Pierce County, she dropped by the LeMay Car Museum and Harmon Brewing Company. Measles is highly contagious. Anyone wandering through an area where a carrier has been — even hours after they've left — may contract the virus, said public health officials. The Health advisory has information on who should seek medical advice about possible exposure (and when people should be vaccinated). Go here for a full list of locations where risk of exposure was high. — H.W. 

Paying attention to Darrington

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell celebrated Thursday over the unanimous passage by their Senate colleagues of a long-sought measure to preserve a "cherished," historic Forest Service fire lookout tower near Darrington. The House is likely to pass the long-stalled measure on Monday, according to seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly, at least in part because of help from soon-to-retire U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings. That's certainly a timely assist for the mudslide-slammed Darrington area. It's been a long fight: This February 2012 Crosscut article, distributed by High Country News, outlined the issues raised by a lone environmental group to force removal of the tower as a violation of Wilderness Area principles. —  J.C. 

Bigger Bertha repair

at 4:51pm by Joe Copeland

The repairs to Bertha, the Highway 99 Tunnel boring machine, will likely be more extensive than originally planned, Washington State Department of Transportation said today. Seattle Tunnel Partners, the contractor digging the underground roadway has told WSDOT "verbally" that they are going to replace the machine's main bearing, according to Todd Trepanier, a program administrator for the department. Until now, the contractor has only confirmed that it would replace a set of damaged seals that protect the bearing. We'll have more details in a story shortly. — B.L. 

Wednesday 2 Apr, 2014

The Obama delivers disaster declaration. Hey, that looks like a ballot. Pam Roach gets a surprise.

Today in Olympia

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

  • Among the bills that Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law today was a juvenile records bill by Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, to seal most of a juvenile's court records automatically at age 18 unless someone takes court action to stop that sealing. In 1977, Washington opened juvenile offender records up to the public. Since then, a person could seek to seal his or her juvenile file on a case-by-case basis, but the criteria for sealing have become stricter over the years. And many young people faced gbig difficulties finding jobs because of their records. Kagi's bill limits access to non-violent juvenile files to the court, the appropriate attorneys and the defendant. — J.S. 
  • Inslee also signed a bill by Sen. Randi Becker, R-Eatonville, that requires the Office of the Insurance Commissioner to run any new health insurance rules by the health care committees of the House and Senate. If either of those committees objects to the proposed regulation, an administrative procedure would resolve the conflict. This requirement does not apply to new regulations for other types of insurance. It is what is left of a bill that originally called for abolishing the elected position of insurance commissioner, and replacing that person with a legislatively nominated board to supervise all insurance matters in the state. — J.S. 

 

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

the Kitsap Sun reported. Angel,a longtime state representative, defeated Nathan Schlicher last November in a special election. Schlicher was appointted to the seat in early 2013 after the Democratic incumbent Derek Kilmer was elected to Congress. — J.C.

Legislative race in Kitsap

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

Update 5:12 p.m. Judy Arbogast, a former teacher and teachers union president in the South Kitsap School District, is running as a Democrat against Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, in the 26th Legislative District,

Challenging Pam Roach

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

Colorful Republican Sen. Pam Roach no longer has to worry about her main Democrat challenger. But that's because, as The Seattle Times reports, she may face an even bigger challenge from within her own party, state Rep. Cathy Dahlquist. Democrat Jonathon Dunn is switching from the Senate race to seeking the seat that Dahlquist is vacating. The Dahlquist challenge is surprising on one level: Intra-party fights are uncommon, especially where someone — in this case, Dahlquist — is risking a presumably safe re-election. But on another level, consider: This is Pam Roach, a sometimes-strident conservative who was banned from her own party's Senate caucus meetings until the Republicans needed her to take control of the Senate with two renegade Democrats.   — J.C. 

Incoming: Ballots

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

The King County Elections on Wednesday sent out most ballots for the April 22 special election. Countywide, there is one issue, but it's a biggie: Proposition 1 on transportation improvements. It would fund maintenance of Metro Transit service and help finance road and bridge repairs through a 0.1 percent sales tax hike and an increase in the annual car tab fee. There's also an important measure for the Lake Washington School District: a $404 million bond issue on school construction and remodeling. Details and ballot arguments are here for the transportation measure and here for the Lake Washington measure. Elections spokesperson Barbara Ramey said residents who fail to receive a ballot by late next week should check with the office at 206-296-VOTE. — J.C.

Federal aid to help individuals

at 4:48pm by Joe Copeland

President Barack Obama has just declared the Oso mudslive a major disaster, opening up a host of assistance in the recovery. In particular, as Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com notes, it will make individuals eligible for assistance with some of their losses. The governor's office says there are also programs to assist businesses and households, with as much of 75 percent of losses covered by the feds. As The Herald notes, some of the coverage can be directed toward housing for those affected by the disaster. If this is handled like other disasters, the Federal Emergency Management Agency will be rolling out details on applications for assistance. The Obama administration has been quick with assistance so far, and this appears to be no exception. Inslee requested the declaration of a major disaster just Tuesday but representatives of his office said it could take weeks to get a decision. — J.C. 

Tuesday 1 Apr, 2014

The Marriage conversion deadline coming. More aid sought for Oso. Who's that looming along Elliott Bay?

Bellevue goes mobile

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

Smartphone users can now have the whole city of Bellevue at their fingertips thanks to a new mobile app called MyBellevue. The app lets users enter service requests, read city news, search for job openings and access the city’s social media pages. It aims to make accessing city information easier in our ever-changing technological world.“People can still ask for help by phone or online,” said Toni Cramer, Bellevue's chief information officer, in a news release, “but this makes service and information as easy to access as possible via whatever is the most comfortable and convenient way for folks living, working and visiting here.”Perhaps the city of Seattle will take note and further integrate its city apps. Seattle’s Find It, Fix It app, for instance, allows users to submit service requests, but users have to look to other city apps for news and event features.You can download MyBellevue — for free — from the Apple App Store, Google Play and Blackberry World. It will soon be available in the Microsoft Window Store. — M.C.

 

Bellevue names city manager finalists

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

Update 4:30 p.m. Bellevue has named four finalists to become the city manager. One of the four candidates is the acting city manager, Brad Miyake. He's held the post since May, shortly after the departure of longtime manager Steve Sarkozy. The public is invited to a reception for the four candidates from 7 to 9 p.m. Friday at City Hall. (Details on the candidates and the event are here.) The city council will choose the new city manager, possibly as early as Monday. — J.C.

Olympic Sculpture Park

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

A 46-foot-tall face of a girl will be looming over Puget Sound shortly as the newest installation at the Olympic Sculpture Park. The white fiberglass resin sculpture named “Echo” is the work of Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. According to MyNorthwest, the statue is based on the 9-year-old daughter of a restaurant owner near Plensa’s Barcelona home. “Echo” was originally located in Madison Square Park in New York City in 2011. A time-lapse video of that installation can be seen below. — M.C.
 
 

Oso update

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee has approached President Barack Obama with an additional request for federal disaster assistance in the wake of the Oso slide. The latest request involves help clearing debris and other emergency response measures. On Monday, Inslee asked Obama for money to help provide housing for people who lost their homes, to replace personal property, and defray transportation costs, medical and funeral expenses. Federal dollars would also provide unemployment insurance for people who lost jobs due to the slide and for crisis counseling.The latest death toll is 27; 22 are still missing. Preliminary state and federal  assessments put the mudslide-related damage at $32.1 million. — J.S.

Domestic partnerships 

at 4:20pm by Joe Copeland

Nearly 7,000 same-sex couples in Washington are getting married in three months — like it or not. The state has begun to phase out domestic partnerships as a result of the marriage equality law, which states that all same-sex couples will be converted to marriage on June 30, says KUOW.   The Secretary of State’s office has alerted all domestic partners to the impending change, hoping to ensure that couples have enough time to dissolve their partnership if they want to avoid the technicality of marriage. “We don’t want any couples to be caught off-guard when their partnership is changed into marriage,” said Secretary of State Kim Wyman in a news release early last month. — M.C.

Monday 31 Mar, 2014

The Gas explosion injures 5. Metro cuts, visualized. Public broadband prospects go belly-up?

Gentrification, interrupted: the Comet Tavern reopens

at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson

After holding its own for more than 60 years as one of Seattle's most hallowed dive bars, the Comet Tavern abruptly closed its doors last autumn. Today it reopened. In what is beginning to look like a quest to preserve ruin renew Seattle’s last-surviving dive bars, Dave Meinert — who purchased the 5 Point Cafe in 2009, and was reportedly in talks about the shuttered Canterbury last winter — joined fellow Capitol Hill music man Jason Lajeunesse to (reportedly steeply) outbid others and purchase the Comet last November.At first glance, the new Comet looks both less filthy and brighter than the old one. There’s also a new, lighter music schedule that reduces the number of live shows and adds a Sunday Country Lunch (when barflies can listen to country musicians and djs while eating chili and cornbread). Starting today, the new Comet is open daily from 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. — C.H.

Broadband

at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson

Each time Seattle elects a new mayor, he or she (oh, wait, there hasn't been a she in, well, never mind) dutifully takes up the city's better, faster broadband drum and begins a slow, measured beat toward 'progress'. Though he brought fast Internet to Pioneer Square, former Mayor Mike McGinn's elaborate Gigabit Seattle ploy turned out not to have any financing.Now, according to the Seattle Times' Brier Dudley, Mayor Ed Murray is planning to give phone companies free rein when it comes to placing utility cabinets — those big metal boxes so loved by street marketers and guerilla artists — on parking strips. Previously, the installation of new cabinets required written permission from nearby homeowners — a practice Crosscut writer Bill Schrier criticized as a roadblock to competing services like Google Fiber just last month. Now, Murray says he'll throw the rule out by the end of June, making way for 349 new cabinets in the first year. Progress, of a sort.The big question, which Dudley raises, is about strategy. If Murray really, as he claims, wants a city-owned broadband network, why is he giving away one of his best bargaining chips to a corporate broadband provider (CenturyLink stands to gain the most) without any guarantee of a return? As Dudley reports, "The company and its lobbyist gave his mayoral campaign the maximum possible donations. He also received a $5,000 donation from the state broadband-providers association." — B.A.

Bus cuts, visualized

at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson

Those who haven't yet made up their minds about whether to vote yes on King County's Proposition 1, which would raise vehicle fees to avoid King County bus service cuts and fix local roads, have a new resource to consider. Seattle Transit Blog's Oran Viriyincy has created a visualization of how "frequent transit service" in neighborhoods (defined as routes that run every 15 minutes or less on weekdays before 6 pm) will be affected if the measure doesn't pass. Keep in mind, these routes will not be cut entirely, just run less frequently. Still, it gives a pretty bleak picture of easy busriding in Seattle neighborhoods. —B.A.

Did a clear cut contribute to the Oso slide?

at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson

Loggers and locals have long been conflicted over potential landslides in the Oso, Washington area. In 1997, the state Department of Ecology commissioned a new map of the unstable plateau above Oso. The mapmakers suggested boundaries for safe logging areas. According to a report in today's Seattle Times, in spite of praising the map and the accompanying report (created by geologist Daniel Miller and hydrologist Joan Sias), the Department of Natural Resources failed to take its suggested boundaries into account when, around 2005, it issued permits for a 7.5 acre clearcut.

The August 2005 clearcut, of land owned by Grandy Lake Forest, covered much of the area that would have been protected had DNR followed the prescription of the Miller map. The Seattle Times also notes that clearcutting appears to have extended beyond its permit onto restricted land. Less than six months later, in January, 2006, a landslide hit Oso, a landslide that looked eerily similar to this year's fatal hillside collapse — only smaller. — C.H.

Natural gas explosion

at 3:15pm by Berit Anderson

Five people were injured in an explosion Monday morning at a natural gas facility near Plymouth, Wash., along the Columbia River. According to the Tri-City Herald, the explosion sent shrapnel flying into a nearby gas tank, which caused a leak and the potential for explosion in a 2-mile radius around the building. Nearly 1,000 residents and farm workers were evacuated across the river to Hermiston, Ore., and Highway 14 was closed between Interstate 82 and Paterson. — B.A.

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2014/03/31/2904040/natural-gas-facility-on-fire-near.html?sp=/99/177/&ihp=1#storylink=c.  — B.A.

Friday 28 Mar, 2014

The Daily Troll (Updated): Mudslide death toll at 21. Obama approves request for more federal aid. Zoo keeping elephants.

Rideshare saga: More twists

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

Update 5:27 p.m. Lyft, Uber and Sidecar are backing an effort to repeal newly approved city ridesharing regulations in Seattle. A group called “Keep Seattle's Ride Options,” began collecting signatures for a ballot referendum yesterday that would overturn a city ordinance, which Mayor Ed Murray signed last week. The app-based services are especially opposed to a cap that would limit the number of drivers allowed to use each of the app-based car services at any one time to 150. Asked about who is bankrolling the push to repeal the rules Brad Harwood, a spokesman for the group said that Lyft, Uber and Sidecar are “spearheading” the effort and that “we expect at least one of the leading rideshare services to contribute” money. Lyft said in a statement that it is “proud to support” the coalition.A Facebook page recruiting signature gatherers for the referendum was offering $3 per name earlier this week. Harwood confirmed that the group was relying on paid signature gatherers, but could not say how many had hit the street. “It’s been pretty easy to get signatures,” he said. The group needs 16,510 people to put their John Hancock on signature sheets in order to get the referendum on the ballot. And they’ll need to deliver the names to the city clerk before April 18 when the ordinance is set to take effect. If they succeed in doing so, the ordinance will be suspended until a public vote takes place.Earlier this week, another group, Yes! Rideshare Seattle filed a ballot initiative with the City Clerk’s office that would toss out the driver cap and eliminate an annual fee the companies would need to pay the city. And the fun doesn’t stop there. Unrelated to the ballot measures, the Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association filed a lawsuit against Uber in King County Superior Court on Monday saying the company is breaking state and local laws with its operations. — B.L.

Departure lounge

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

Update 4 p.m. Chief Technology Officer Erin Devoto is leaving the helm of Seattle's Department of Information Technology for a job as public works superintendent in the City of Kirkland. Devoto says the new Eastside post "fell into my lap." She'll leave around April 15. Mayor Ed Murray's office sent out a statement today saying that he will name an interim director in the next few weeks. Under her tenure the department has worked to slim down the number of city data centers from 15 to two (the project should be finished next year), and to transition city departments to cloud-based Microsoft Office 365. There have been some bumps along the way. The department was overseeing a now-defunct effort to connect city neighborhoods with ultra-fast broadband Internet. The project fell apart in early January after Gigabit Squared, the company that was supposed to provide the service, went belly-up financially. Devoto notes that providing the city with “fiber-to-the-home” is a “heavy lift” without an easy solution — and it will cost hundreds of millions of dollars. The Gigabit Squared deal, in her opinion, was a reasonable idea. “Given the other options on the table,” she said, “I think it was good to try the private sector to see if they could make something happen.”Devoto began at the department seven years ago and moved into the director post after former Chief Technology Officer Bill Schrier left in 2012. In addition to the new job being closer to her Eastside home, Devoto points to other perks, saying: “I heard that Kirkland was going to have a gondola.” — B.L.

Ferry fare increases?

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

Update 3:38 p.m. Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson issued an opinion Friday that will allow the state to raise ferry fares without the approval of the Legislature. The opinion says that a Tim Eyman tax-and-fee limitation measure, Initiative 1185, fails to require legislative approval, since it didn't specifically eliminate the state Transportation Commission's longstanding authority to decide on fare increase. At least in theory, the opinion could make it easier for Washington State Ferries to raise money to avoid possible service cuts — and maybe even easier to replace departing boss David Moseley. Of course, ferry riders aren't always eager to support fare hikes. — J.C. 

Zoo elephants forever!

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

Update 3:25 p.m. After a lengthy review, Woodland Park Zoo officials said Friday that they plan to keep their Asian elephants and add to the herd. They did say they would remove the most troubled elephant, African elephant Watoto. Watoto won't be going to a sanctuary, as some have suggested: The zoo plans to find a spot with another zoo that keeps African elephants. In a blog posting, zoo CEO Deborah B. Jensen said Woodland Park will launch a $1.5 to $3 million plan to improve the elephant program and support conservation in the wild. Friends of Woodland Park Zoo Elephants and In Defense of Animals denounced the decision as "clinging to the past." The Seattle Times editorial board recently renewed its call to let all three elephants go to sanctuaries. (Scientific American recently called for freeing both elephants and orcas from exhibits.)Jensen wrote, "Like you, we are also deeply concerned for the future of elephants in the wild. Our vision is that our investment will make an impact on reducing human-elephant conflict in the world, and inspire a growing respect for sharing the planet with these awe-inspiring animals." — J.C.

Obama approves request for more Oso emergency aid

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

Update 1:01 p.m. President Barack Obama on Friday approved Gov. Jay Inslee's request for additional federal aid to help pay for mudslide response efforts. The governor's office has said that the slide will cost local and state agencies at least $4.5 million. Under the amended emergency declaration Obama approved, the federal government will reimburse local and state agencies and non-profit organizations for 75 percent of eligible costs. —B.L.

Updated March 30 at 6:45pm: Number of mudslide fatalities remains at 21

at 10:06am by Joe Copeland

The number of people unaccounted for after the mudslide near Oso, Wash. dropped from 90 to 30 on Saturday, according to Snohomish County officials. In recent days detectives from the county sheriff's office ferreted out duplicate names from a list of those reported missing to arrive at the new total. Over the weekend the Snohomish County Medical Examiner's Office also confirmed four more deaths, bringing the official number of slide victims to 21. There are 620 people working at the slide area, including 160 volunteers. Heavy rains on Saturday formed ponds some areas of the site, complicating search efforts. Satellite imagery has shown that the mud is up to 75 feet deep in some places. – B.L.

Thursday 27 Mar, 2014

The Taking hold of inequality? Boeing gets ANA order. Microsoft meets the iPad.

Downfall of fake and bake

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

There's one more thing minors must look to as a coming of age reward: A trip to the tanning bed. Washington is joining a half-dozen other states to ban the use of tanning salons by those under the age of 18. A key player in backing the measure was Republican Sen. Curtis King of Yakima, who told The Seattle Times he hopes to reduce the chances of teens later developing skin cancer. In order to use a tanning bed, you must provide a government issued photo ID. A $250 fine will be issued on every violation for underage use. No longer will you see that artificial orange glow of girls at the junior prom. — H.W. 

Suicide prevention beefed up ">

Suicide prevention beefed up 

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

On Thursday, Gov. Jay Inslee signed Rep. Tina Orwall's bill to strengthen suicide prevention measures. The new law will now make Washington a national leader in suicide prevention, requiring suicide prevention training every six years for some health professionals (including counselors and psychologists). Doctors and nurses will have to be trained once. One factor in the Legislature's backing of the measure: Washington's suicide rate is 15 percent above the national average. — K.H. 

A new Microsoft?

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

Microsoft announced on Thursday that its Office suite for iPad has finally arrived. The only problem is — it may be too late. For years, iPad users have relied on apps, like Quip or Haiku Deck to serve their writing and word processing needs. Meanwhile, Microsoft – in all its mammoth corporate angst – has remained decidedly undecided: Provide Office for the iPad or push the company's own Surface tablets?For many, as The New York Times writes, this move signifies a “refreshingly” new Microsoft, “one slowly unshackling itself from an era when all of its major decisions were made in deference to Windows.” But many critics think Microsoft already missed their (figurative and cyber) window of opportunity: Allowing iPad users so much time to adjust to iPads sans Office may mean there’s no turning back. But GeekWire reports even more surprising Microsoft adjustments to reality: Office suite will also appear on Android and be free for all tablets.  — K.H. 

Boeing wins Japanese plane order

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

All Nippon Airways placed a big order with Boeing on Thursday: 40 widebody jets worth about $7 billion, according to a Bloomberg News report carried by the Seattle Times. ANA's order includes 787 Dreamliners (the battery problems are in the rearview mirror, apparently), 737-300 extended range models, and the upcoming 777-X. Airbus received an ANA order for 30 single-aisle jets, worth perhaps $1.6 billion. Not bad for a consolation prize. — J.C. 

Income inequality 

at 4:52pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray's all-day symposium on income inequality addressed lots of issues around opportunity, equity and minimum wage improvements — with the ambitious aim of making Seattle a leader in creating greater fairness. Nick Hanauer, venture capitalist and a big advocate for addressing inequality and education issues, kicked off the event with an impressive speech covering a wide variety of points.Tying education, better family incomes and healthy communities, Hanauer said, "When workers earn enough from one job to live on, they are far more likely to be contributors to the civic prosperity — of your community. Parents who only need one job, not two or three to get by, now can be available to help their kids with homework and keep them out of trouble — in your school. They can look out for you and your neighbors, volunteer and contribute in your school and church." We'll be posting a report from Crosscut's Bill Lucia and more from Hanauer's speech. — J.C.

Wednesday 26 Mar, 2014

The Murray wants to help immigrants. Amazon's price waffling. Pride Parade has Hollywood star.

Art on the waterfont

at 4:33pm by Joe Copeland

Ann Hamilton has been selected to create a $1 million large scale art project on the Seattle waterfront. The MacArthur "genius" award winner is known for her large-scale, sensory installations, including a ginormous "swing" at the Park Avenue Armory in New York in 2012. The Seattle Central Library is home to her LEW Wood Floor, whose raised letters spell out the first sentences from books in the library's collection. Hamilton was chosen from a field of 340 artists to create a project on the piers, which will be rebuilt as part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement. — F.D. 

Pride Parade snags Sulu

at 4:33pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Pride Parade is going Hollywood this year. According to seattlepi.com, actor George Takei will serve as the grand marshal for the 2014 parade. Takei is best known for his role as Sulu on the 1960s TV show Star Trek. In addition to his acting fame, Takei, who is openly gay, is a recognized advocate for civil rights. Younger generations might also associate the celeb with Facebook: Takei posts funny photos to his account, which has 6.4 million followers. The Seattle Pride Parade will take place in downtown Seattle on Sunday, June 29. — M.C.  

Compton memorial service

at 4:33pm by Joe Copeland

The memorial service for journalist and former City Councilmember Jim Compton will be held from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday at Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave. The program will include several speakers along with clips from his "Compton Report" program, which ran on KING-TV. A former KING colleague Mike James, who wrote a memorial piece about Compton for Crosscut last week, will be among the speakers. The cover for a new, as yet unpuublished book that Compton had recently completed will be on display at the services. — J.C. 

Amazon's price waffling

at 4:33pm by Joe Copeland

Up! No, down! Amazon's making moves — not all of them consistent — in the pricing department. Earlier this month, the company announced it was boosting prices on its Prime services and today, at its San Francisco Amazon Web Services conference, it announced that it would be dropping prices on cloud storage. Geekwire reports that "The price changes, which take effect on April 1, include a 51 percent average price reduction for AWS’s Simple Storage Service, and a 38 percent average price reduction for general-purpose M3 Elastic Compute Cloud instances."The moves actually make a lot of business sense: Like Kindles, Prime has long been a loss-leader for the company and the cloud market is a huge opportunity. Lower prices are obviously a part of their plan to steal a bigger piece of the pie there. Intriguing local application: Microsoft, which announced last April that it would match Amazon's prices, will likely drop Azure's prices soon in response. The upshot? YOU get cheaper cloud services! And YOU get cheaper cloud services! You ALL get cheaper cloud services! — B.A. 

Murray expands immigrants' office

at 4:33pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray said Wednesday that he plans to double the size of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs to better serve the growing population of foreign-born Seattleites. Murray said that one in five city residents is foreign born. He outlined five priorities for the expanded services, including wider availability of information in the first language of foreign-born residents, more access to English classes and support for small businesses owned by immigrants. Murray asked the City Council for an additional $409,000 to fund the expansion as part of a supplemental budget he submitted on Monday. — J.C. 

Tuesday 25 Mar, 2014

The Hope for mudslide survivors. Minimum wage bump benefits. NFL bans goalpost dunking.

Girls Scout cookie monster

at 2:10pm by Mary Bruno

Meet Katie Francis, the new Girl Scout cookie selling champ. The sixth grader from Oklahoma City set a new national record by selling 18,107 boxes of those classic Thin Mints and DoSiDos — in just seven weeks! The previous record — a piddling 18,000 boxes sold by (former) “cookie queen” and Falls Church, Virginia scout Elizabeth Brinton — was set way back in the 1980s. And more good news for Katie, and the Girls Scout financial team, Oklahoma’s bitter winter prompted Katie’s troop to extend its cookie sales period through the end of this month, which puts Katie’s new goal of 20,000 boxes well within her grasp. Btw: Katie’s troop plans to donate a portion of her proceeds to a breast cancer research charity.So what's Katie's key to cookie-selling success. She told the BBC: "It takes lots of time, commitment and asking everybody I see.” And working 12 hour days every weekend and school nights until 9:30pm doesn't hurt. For those who aspire to beat Katie’s record, consider copying the San Franciscan Scout who set up shop outside a marijuana dispensary. — H.W.
 

NFL spikes the dunk

at 2:10pm by Mary Bruno

In an attempt to drain all personality and bombast from the league, the NFL has banned the goalpost dunk. Starting with the 2014 season, players who dare to dunk will be hit with a 15-yard penalty, according to the Washington Post. Some sports fans and commentators trace the ban back to New Orleans Saints tight end Jimmy Graham. The hang time on his touchdown dunk last November in a game against Atlanta bent the Georgia Dome goal post — and delayed the game. (Watch the video below.)The no-dunk ruling from NFL’s head of officiating Dean Blandino joins a long list of no-no celebrations that can earn a flag for “unsportsmanlike conduct." The list already bans dancing, spinning or doing almost anything with or to the football besides running with it. Will post-touchdown cheering with teammates be next? — M.C.

PopCap's Vechey on life after acquisition

at 2:10pm by Mary Bruno

Since being acquired by game goliath Electronic Arts three years ago, Seattle game company PopCap — of Bejeweled fame — has laid off staffers, cancelled games, closed studios and said farewell to former executives. But John Vechey, PopCap cofounder and honcho in charge (since January), tells Geekwire: “We made the right decision. EA has a reputation for acquiring companies and ruining them, and it’s different being a part of a big company, and there’s things that suck about being a part of a big company, and there’s things that suck about being independent — and that’s life.” True enough, John. PopCap could have gone public or picked a different acquisitor – Zynga was allegedly sniffing around. But that’s ancient history. Besides, according to Vechey, PopCap’s rocky “transition to freemium” has been “in our hands.” EA, he continued, has been supportive. “Our success or failure is on us.” — M.B.

Study finds pay hike good for local workers

at 2:10pm by Mary Bruno

A report by University of Washington researchers finds that nearly one in four Seattle workers would benefit from a minimum wage increase. According to The Seattle Times, the report from the UW's Evans School of Public Affairs estimates that a $15 wage would match or exceed the current hourly pay of about 102,000 local workers, or 24 percent of Seattle's workforce. This number could approach one-third of Seattle’s workers if those who already make $15 to $18 an hour get a bump too. The Evans School report, which also details the demographics of those most likely to be affected by a minimum wage hike, will be presented Wednesday at a meeting of Mayor Murray’s Income Inequality Advisory Committee. — M.C.

Hope still alive for mudslide survivors

at 2:10pm by Mary Bruno

Snohomish County Emergency Management director John Pennington told USA Today that he still has hopes of finding survivors of last Saturday's mudslide near Oso. "I've said it before — I believe in miracles," Pennington told the paper. "I believe that people can survive these events." The death toll remains at 14; 176 people remain unaccounted for. Pennington also noted that a 1.1 magnitude earthquake had been recorded 100 yards behind the mudslide area on March 10, but scientists doubt that the small quake had anything to do with the slide. The slide, which spans a square mile, consumed nearly 50 homes. Rainy weather in the days ahead will hamper search efforts by making the terrain more unstable and treacherous. — H.W.See also:

Monday 24 Mar, 2014

The Mudslide update. Groups push to deep six rideshare caps. Murray reassigns press secretary.

Neighborhood patrols back on Capitol Hill

at 3:34pm by Bill Lucia

In response to a recent rape and an attack on a drag performer, a group called OutWatch has decided to organize late night street patrols in Capitol Hill. The patrols will run between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. Thursday through Saturday. Patrol members, some of whom have self-defense training, will provide late night escorts or car rides. Jennifer Dietrich, owner of Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty in Capitol Hill, helped organize the group. A similar group called the Q-Patrol formed in 1991 in response to several gay bashing incidents.

Murray’s press secretary reassigned

at 3:34pm by Bill Lucia

Mayor Ed Murray has reassigned press secretary Rosalind Brazel. She'll be heading to the city’s Personnel Department. Why? Perhaps because Hizzoner's media shop made at least two embarrassing gaffes in recent months. In late February, Murray's office issued a statement mourning the loss of former Seattle Department of Neighborhoods Director Jim Diers. Diers, however, wasn’t dead. Then in late January, Brazel forwarded reporters a pair of draft statements about the state Senate’s passage of the DREAM Act. The email was meant for communications director Jeff Reading and included a note saying, “two statements below. One more straight forward, one with a ‘tisk tisk’ feel.” Department of Information Technology public information officer, Megan Coppersmith, takes over the press secretary post on an interim basis. In her new Personnel job, Brazel will develop “a strategy for regular communications with City employees on behalf of Personnel and the Mayor’s Office.”

Rideshare regulation controversy – Part II

at 3:34pm by Bill Lucia

Even though the Seattle City Council passed new ridesharing rules last week the brouhaha over how to regulate app-based car services could be far from over. An initiative filed with the city clerk last Friday would amend the City Council's recent legislation by nixing the 150-driver cap imposed on each rideshare service operating in the city. Initiative 111 would also reduce the annual fee that rideshare companies like Lyft, Uber and Sidecar pay the city from $50,000, or or 0.35 percent of their revenue, to $500.Meanwhile, another group announced on Facebook yesterday that it would begin gathering signatures to get a referendum placed on the ballot that would repeal the council’s legislation entirely. It’s not clear who is behind the repeal effort, which is offering signature gatherers up to $3 per signature along with money for travel and lodging. Lyft and Uber did not respond to requests for comment about the referendum. John Michael, listed as a contact on the Facebook page, said he did not know whom reporters should call to get information. Michael has worked in the past with a group called Progressive Campaigns, Inc., a “petitions management firm,” based in Los Angeles.Initiative 111 backers are a group called Yes! Rideshare Seattle. The group is affiliated with the Democracy Workshop, which has pushed past initiatives to ban interstate tolls, terminate the Highway 99 Tunnel Project and lower liquor taxes. Democracy Workshop’s program administrator, Elizabeth A. Campbell, recently filed an initiative that would increase the city’s minimum wage to $15 for many workers, while cutting taxes for businesses. She also submitted an ethics complaint earlier this month against councilmember Kshama Sawant. Campbell said the Democracy Workshop had been in touch with “a couple” representatives from rideshare services, but did not say which ones.

Mudslide update

at 3:34pm by Bill Lucia

The number of people who are unaccounted for following Saturday’s massive mudslide near Oso, Wash. climbed to 176 on Monday evening, according to the Snohomish County Department of Emergency Management. Officials emphasized that the number "does not reflect the number of expected causalities or injuries" and would likely decrease. Meanwhile, 14 people are confirmed dead. The roughly one-square-mile slide hit 49 structures, some of them homes. About 100 rescuers continue to comb the debris using helicopters, search dogs and hovercraft. Some ground crews were forced to stand down on Monday after concerns arose about additional slide activity. Mud and debris are still blocking the North Fork of the Stillaguamish River. Upstream flooding behind the dam has damaged at least seven homes. But river water is now flowing through the clogged area, creating a new channel. Washington State Department of Transportation is monitoring downstream bridges that would be threatened if the debris dam breaks. WSDOT says it is no longer concerned about flash flooding. State Route 530 remains closed between mileposts 36 and 39. Governor Jay Inslee's office said it had received assurance from the Federal Emergency Management Administration that the agency would issue a “verbal emergency declaration” which will allow for federal assistance with the response effort.

Load More