Load More

Thursday 22 May, 2014

The Stressing about minimum wage details. Food and ethics clash at Sea-Tac. 787 battery tests faulted.

Seattle's growth spurt

at 4:41pm by hailey way

U.S. Census figures show the city of Seattle's population is growing faster than any other major city in the country,  according to The Seattle Times' FYI Guy, Gene Balk. Austin, Texas held the highest single-year growth rate the last few years. Seattle took Boston’s place as the 21st most populous city nationally. — H.W. 

Mercer Island mail suspect takes the plunge

at 4:41pm by hailey way

A fleeing suspect was treated for hypothermia after he jumped into Lake Washington early Thursday morning. Police were called to Clarice Apartments on Mercer Island at 2 a.m., where a suspicious duo (man and woman) was attempting to break into locked mail boxes, according to the Mercer Island Reporter. The caller had used his own car to prevent the couple from leaving the scene while officers were en route. The female suspect was immediately arrested but the man fled on foot. State troopers found him two hours later on the I-90 bridge. When they approached the suspect, he leapt into the chilly Lake Washington waters. He didn’t get very far, but it was 30 minutes before Seattle Harbor Patrol dragged him from the water. Both suspects will reportedly be booked on multiple felony charges after a search of their vehicle turned up bundles of stolen mail. — K.L.

787 batteries: More testing?

at 4:41pm by hailey way

The National Transportation Safety Board today called for development of new tests to more thoroughly check the safety of the Boeing 787X Dreamliner's advanced lithium-ion batteries. The board also criticized the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to involve outside engineers in the development of the initial testing of the batteries, according to The New York Times. — J.C. 

Food fight at Sea-Tac

at 4:41pm by hailey way

Workers who help prepare in-flight meals at Sea-Tac have been given the go-ahead by the state Supreme Court to sue their employer over dietary deceptions. For security reasons, Gate Gourmet prohibits its employees from bringing their own meals to work. Instead, it provides workers one “healthful meal” a day. The problem, claim the workers, is that meals don’t always comply with their religious and ethical dietary restrictions. For example, employees charge that "turkey" meatballs are secretly made of pork and beef and vegetarian dishes contain animal byproducts. Washington's High Court today overturned a lower-court dismissal of the case; the justices said that state anti-discrimination law “includes a duty to reasonably accommodate an employee's religious practices." — K.L.

Minimum wage: Trouble?

at 4:41pm by hailey way

With reports of the potential failure of Mayor Ed Murray's proposal for a $15 minimum wage, a Seattle City Council committee held a lengthy session to study the mayor's approach. Councilmember Sally Clark, who chairs the Committee on Minimum Wage and Income Inequality, sought to play down suggestions that the mayor's compromise is unraveling. Council's questions and exploration of changes to his suggested legislation are a normal part of the process. "This is what we get paid to do," Clark said. But, as Publicola reports, labor leaders are already troubled by the possibility of a two-tiered payment system where businesses get to pay lower wages to teenagers and some trainees. If that's going to happen, labor leaders want the council to compensate by introducing alternative, worker-friendly changes to the mayor's plan. During the meeting, Councilmember Kshama Sawant noted that Murray had added the training wage language without any recommendation from the advisory committee that helped him on the issue. Let the fun begin. — J.C. 

Wednesday 21 May, 2014

The Obama honors Seahawks. Bridge tolls going up. Dan Lewis signing off.

GMO bans voted in Oregon

at 11:12am by Joe Copeland

2:45 p.m. Voters in two largely rural Oregon counties on Tuesday approved bans on growing genetically modified crops within their borders. The vote in Jackson County, which includes Medford and Ashland, ran nearly 66 percent in favor of the ban. Voters in neighboring Josephine County also voted in favor of a ban, but their measure is considered vulnerable to a legal challenge. Work on Josephine County's ban came after the state Legislature prohibited local governments from banning genetically engineered crops. The Jackson County ban was in the works early enough that it's not covered by the new state law.

Seattle transit plan: Not regional

at 11:12am by Joe Copeland

3:02 p.m. Metro Transit General Manager Kevin Desmond tells KIRO Radio that a proposal to fund extra bus service in Seattle is intriguing and could provide a short-term Band-Aid for some of the expected service cuts. But he said, "We need a regional solution." What would that be? There has been talk of other cities also picking up the type of revenue package that Mayor Ed Murray is proposing: a small sales tax hike and an increase in the cost of annual car tabs. But voters in almost every city except Seattle overwhelmingly rejected those funding sources when a countywide transit-and-roads package went down to defeat last months. 

Dan Lewis' final night as anchor

at 11:12am by Joe Copeland

KOMO TV's Dan Lewis is anchoring the evening news tonight for the final time before stepping down after more than 25 years of outstanding work. When he was honored Saturday with the Western Washington Society of Professional Journalists lifetime achievement award, Lewis said he had never sought to be a TV star. His real goal, he said, was just to be a journalist — a star one at that. In his acceptance speech, he talked about having the feeling that he was walking arm in arm with the audience as he and viewers took in some of the more shocking news stories. Lewis acknowledged that it might sound odd; actually, it came off as utterly authentic and devoted to the people of the region. 

Tolls going ... where else ... up?

at 11:12am by Joe Copeland

The Washington State Department of Transportation said today that tolls will go up July 1 for both the Highway 520 floating bridge across Lake Washington and the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. WSDOT said the 520 tolls, which vary by time of day and whether motorists have automatically billed passes, will increase roughly 2.5 percent in each category. Tacoma Narrows tolls are going up by 25 cents for each billing category. Cash tolls are on the rise too, from $5.25 to $5.50 (tolls are only collected on eastbound trips). (This item has been updated since it first appeared to correct an error in the percentage of increase.)

Obama greets Hawks

at 11:12am by Joe Copeland

It's a White House ritual: The president honors the winners of major sports championships. And the Seahawks were at the House today for a visit. Round after round applause greeted team members as they made their way to the rostrum. As the President Obama began to talk, he referred to the team as "quiet and reserved." Uh-huh.Obama gave nice shoutouts to individual members of the team for overcoming adversities and contributing to the community, and he hailed the 12s' support for the team while joking about the engineering and design behind the noise at CenturyLink: "You all have that is kind of cheating because it is so loud." 

Tuesday 20 May, 2014

The Mary Yu joins state court. Feds don't want water turned into pot. EU irked by Boeing's 787X tax breaks.

Metro Transit: A different idea

at 4:30pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle businesses would pay a tax of up to $18 annually on each employee as a way to help fund bus service under a proposal from City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant. The plan also includes a hike on the tax rate for commercial parking lots (from the current 12.5 percent to 17.5 percent). Licata and Swant offered their plan as a replacement for the 0.1 percent sales tax increase in Mayor Ed Murray's bus funding proposal. The mayor also wants a $60 vehicle license fee for Seattle motorists, which the Licata-Sawant proposal would leave in place. The revenue would preserve much of the city bus service threatened by Metro Transit cuts.Licata and Sawant say the sales tax is more regressive than their proposals. "At first blush you're thinking, 'oh my gosh there's another tax on business,'" Licata said. "But we don't say that when there's another tax on people." They also say that the council and mayor could approve their revenue sources, leaving only the car tab measure to go up for a  public vote. King County voters shot down a ballot initiative in April that was similar to Murray's plan, but the measure received strong support within the city.The Downtown Seattle Association issued a statement pooh-poohing the Licata-Sawant proposal. "A city tax on jobs sends the wrong message." said the statement, adding "Seattle already is one of the most expensive cities in the nation with respect to parking.” Resonding on Tuesday, Licata said, "It's always going to be expensive." The Seattle City Council imposed a per employee tax in 2006, but repealed it in 2009, during the recession. Licata said that many of the complaints over the tax at that time focused on the paperwork involved, something he and Sawant would try to limit this time around by eliminating exemptions.  — B.L.This report has been updated to correct the name of an organization.

EU vs. Washington state tax breaks

at 4:30pm by Joe Copeland

The European Union is weighing a possible challenge to the tax breaks Washington gave Boeing to assure its 787X would be built in the state. The Herald notes that some tax break opponents had warned that the EU would complain to the World Trade Organization. The WTO has previously ruled that both Boeing and Airbus receive illegal subsidies. At some point, the WTO could allow the EU to impose financial sanctions on U.S. imports.  — J.C.

Pot and Doritos

at 4:30pm by Joe Copeland

Sgt. Sean Whitcomb is back in action at the Seattle Police Department's public affairs unit. Whitcomb went incommunicado in recent months after another officer reportedly filed an internal complaint against him. The complaint, according to a KUOW story early this year, claimed that Whitcomb created a hostile work environment after the other officer declined to participate in the police department's nationally noted Doritos giveaway at last year's Hempfest. The bags of Doritos had labels designed to educate people about Initiative 502, which legalized recreational marijuana use.On Monday, Whitcomb was at the Mayor's Office shuttling reporters in and out of interviews with Seattle's new police chief nominee, Kathleen O'Toole. He confirmed that he is once again available to respond to media inquires but he offered no further details. Also on hand at the O'Toole interview session was former Seattle Times reporter, Andrew Garber, who the police department recently hired as a senior media adviser. — B.L.  

Pot and water

at 4:30pm by Joe Copeland

The federal Bureau of Reclamation, which supplies much of the irrigation water in the West, is doing its part to keep America from wasting precious water on marijuana. The bureau issued a statement saying it would not allow any of its water to be used to grow pot, because the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act prohibits growing what was then sometimes referred to as mary-jo-wanna. Fortunately, as the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, the state Department of Ecology says there are a number of ways for farms east of the Cascades, where the bureau is a big player, to get water for irrigation without the bureau's involvement. Whew: We wouldn't want the feds to keep Eastern Washington from its rightful share of the state's legal marijuana industry. — J.C.

Mary Yu sworn in

at 4:30pm by Joe Copeland

Longtime King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu today became Justice Mary Yu, the state Supreme Court's first openly gay member. Gov. Jay Inslee appointed her to fill the vacancy created by the health-related resignation of Justice Jim Johnson. No opponents filed to run against Yu, so — barring some kind of unlikely write-in campaign — she will serve the remaining two years of Johnson's term. In a statement today, Inslee said, "Justice Yu will be a great addition to the court, with years of experience as a trial judge that have grounded her in the everyday effects of our justice system." According to Associated Press, Yu is only the sixth woman justice and the second with a minority ethnic background. — J.C.

Monday 19 May, 2014

The O'Toole for Seattle police chief? Arts district for Capitol Hill? City Council rules on small lots.

Michael Jackson moonwalks again

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Being dead is not a career-ending condition. CGI technology resurrected the King of Pop for Sunday’s Billboard Music Awards. Midway through the show, a hologramic Michael Jackson, resplendent in gold jacket and red pants, joined 16 live dancers for a rendition of Slave to the Rhythm, from his posthumous Xscape album. (Yes, he — or it? — moonwalked.) Billboard.com says Jackson’s after-death experience was months in the making. "It was really strange talking about something that did not exist," confessed BBMA director and producer Larry Klein. Yes, we imagine it was. But Michael's was not the first posthumous performance by a dead king: Remember that Elvis – Celine Dion duet from season six of American Idol (April 25, 2007)? — M.B.

Tooting our own horn

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Crosscut writers won seven awards from the Northwest chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists over the weekend. David Brewster and Art Thiel took home first place honors in commentary and sports reporting, respectively. John Stang got a second place in commentary for his analyses of the Legislature, and a third in sports for his series on roller derby. Hugo Kugiya scored in the sports category too, a second-place finish for his profile of Russell Wilson. Knute Berger won second place in business writing for his article about West Seattle’s Whole Foods controversy. And a team of Crosscut writers won third place in spot news reporting for its coverage of last November’s local elections.Crosscut's seven awards were the most for any online publication. Seattle Times columnist Danny Westneat was honored as Western Washington's journalist of the year and KOMO anchor Dan Lewis received the lifetime achievement award. — J.C.

Oregon judge overturns ban on same-sex marriage

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Oregon’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage was thrown out on Monday by District Judge Michael McShane — a decade after it was put in place. Saying the ban violated the federal constitutional rights of gays and lesbians, McShane ordered the change to take immediate effect, prompting same-sex marriage ceremonies throughout the state. Hopeful couples lined up outside Portland’s county clerk’s office early this morning to get their marriage licenses as soon as the decision was made public. If McShane’s ruling goes unchallenged, as expected, Oregon will become the 18th state to legalize same-sex marriage. — K.L.

Danford Grant sentenced for serial rape

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle lawyer Danford Grant got 25 years for raping five massage therapists. According to The Seattle Times, the 49-year-old lawyer, who is married with three children, once worked for the Seattle City Attorney's Office. He was arrested in 2012 after sexually assaulting the women. "I recognize that my behavior was reprehensible and … that prison is a just punishment,” Grant told the courtrrom at his sentencing on Monday. — M.B.

Arts district for Capitol Hill

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Capitol Hill Housing Foundation, the group behind 44 of the city’s affordable housing developments, wants to create a Capitol Hill Arts District. The Foundation is the driving force behind 12th Avenue Arts, a mixed-use development due to spring up on the corner of Pike and 12th later this year. The new multi-story space will provide 88 affordable apartments above and two custom-designed theaters — plus local retail and community meeting rooms — below. At this year’s Capitol Hill Housing forum, which takes place Tuesday May 20th at 5:30 pm, prominent local arts figures such as Leslie Bain (Frameworks Cultural Placemaking) and Cathryn Vandenbrink (Artspace)  will gather to discuss the project. — K.L.

Small lots, big problems

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle City Council gave neighborhoods a couple of breaks on new small-lot development rules on Monday. Activists argued that allowing the proliferation of small lots is threatening to destroy the character of single-family neighborhoods by inviting houses that tower over and crowd neighboring homes. Council members agreed, unanimously approving a new ordinance on lot sizes and building heights that provides some protections for existing neighborhoods. The council (on a 6-to-3 vote) also rejected a rule that would have let developers subdivide existing lots, and approved an amendment to tighten how the city calculates allowable building heights for small lots. —J.C.

Kathleen O'Toole: Seattle's new top cop?

at 5:14pm by Joe Copeland

True to his word, Mayor Ed Murray nominated Kathleen O'Toole to be Seattle's next police chief at a Monday morning press conference. (The mayor had promised to pick a new chief by May 19.) The 59-year-old O'Toole, a former Boston Police Commissioner, who spent six years as chief inspector for the Irish national police service, is now poised to become Seattle's first female police chief. All she needs is a thumbs-up from the City Council. Bill Lucia has the story. Look for his interview with O'Toole later today. Meantime, here's the O'Toole press conference.  — M.B.

Friday 16 May, 2014

The Ed Murray ready to pick police chief. Gunshots keep police busy. Eastside starting to talk $15 minimum wage.

Idaho debates. Oh, yes it does. 

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

On Tuesday, Idaho primary voters will pick the finalists for this fall's gubernatorial election. A televised debate among Republican candidates went viral because two of the GOP challengers are so, well, colorful. Even Fox News calls them "eccentric." The debate featured lots of talk about the Bible, God and his directives. One of the contenders concluded his opening remarks by saying, "Don't think I'm crazy." On the other hand, one of the eccentrics — Harley Brown, the bearded guy in biker leather — did call gay marriage a basic right and say how great it is to see people who love each other and want to marry. Button-down Gov. Butch Otter begs to disagree — all the way to the Supreme Court. — J.C.

Eastside and minimum wage

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

The debate about raising the minimum wage in cities around King County may be about to heat up. A group called the Eastside Human Services Forum today announced a June 12 discussion on the impact of Seattle's likely minimum wage hike on social service groups, nonprofits and businesses in the rest of King County.Alan Berube of the Brookings Institution, wrote earlier this week that King County businesses outside Seattle are more likely than businesses in the city to pay their workers less than $15 per hour. Sub-$15 wages were the norm for 30 percent of workers in Seattle and for 34 percent of workers in the rest of the county. But that small difference added up: All told, some 216,000 jobs in King County (full- and part-time) paid less than $15 in recent years versus 149,000 in the city of Seattle. Berube suggested that Seattle — and other big cities — should keep neighboring jurisdictions in mind as they address regional economic and income-inequality issues. — J.C.

Rideshare drivers make allies

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Uber and UberX drivers are taking steps to organize. Some of the ride-share drivers will hold a meeting on Sunday in Tukwila to officially found a drivers' association, designed to serve as a counterweight to some of the policies the well-heeled tech company has in place. The criteria Uber uses to "deactivate" and rate drivers are among the ride-share drivers' central concerns. They are also taking issue with Uber's "unwillingness to provide sufficient liability coverage to protect drivers and their customers," according to a statement issued on Friday. (Ride-share companies say they provide good coverage.) In a somewhat odd turn of events, this Sunday's meeting will take place at the Teamsters Local 117 auditorium, and representatives from the teamster-affiliated Western Washington Taxi Cab Operators Association will attend. During the nearly year-long Seattle City Council debate about how to regulate ride-share — or "transportation network"  — companies, the taxi cab operators association was one of the main proponents of cracking down on Uber, Lyft and other app-based services. Reps from the taxi group, according to Friday's statement, "will share their experiences operating their own organization."  — B.L.

Dozens of shots fired

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Speaking of the Seattle Police Department, police say gunmen apparently fired more than 50 shots at businesses and vehicles in a single block on the southeast edge of the city late Thursday night. Officers found 39 casings from rifle and handgun ammo in the 9300 to 9500 blocks of Rainier Avenue S. — J.C. 

Police chief appointment

at 4:14pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray put out word this afternoon that he will announce his selection for Seattle's new police chief first thing Monday morning (May 19). He's been promising for months that he'd make his choice public during the week of May 19, so score one for timeliness on the part of a government official. Assuming the City Council confirms Murray's pick — and he or she takes the job  — the real test will be how well the new chief performs. — J.C. 

Thursday 15 May, 2014

Fast food workers act nationally. Seattle police: Looking the other way? All in for Vashon prom.

Idaho marriages halted

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter has gotten his way, at least for the moment: The state can continue to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today blocked a lower court's order that marriage equality go into effect on Friday. As Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com reports, Otter, a Republican, has promised to appeal all the way to the Supreme Court if necessary to preserve the state's prohibition on same-sex marriage. One more reason to spend Northwest tourism dollars along the Stillaguamish?  — J.C.

This summer’s top tourist destinations

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Forget Hawaii. Your dream vacation is closer to home, just along the North Fork Stillaguamish River. And the people of Arlington, Oso and Darrington want you to remember that. Worried that the recent Oso mudslide will depress tourist figures (and business revenues) this summer, the Snohomish County Office of Economic Development has joined forces with the local Economic Alliance to bust out an emergency advertising campaign, reminding us of what the area has to offer. With regional events beginning as early as May 31, time is limited and the promotional budget is tight, just $150,000, according to The Herald. But, hey, media shoutouts for those two cities and their nearby trails, peaks and rivers are free. — K.L.

Next tech wonder company?

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Where's Seattle's next Zillow hiding? Every year the Washington Technology Industry Association does the hard work of combing through local early-stage startup companies to find the best of the best. This year's finalists (there were 15) have the chance to pitch to a group of top Northwest VCs, who select a winner and several runners-up.Yesterday those VCs selected StratoScientific as this year's winner. The medical devices company has built both a smartphone stethoscope that lets you visualize heart sounds, and a device to decrease unnecessary stents in angioplasty. Even more impressive, StratoScientific spun off the inventions of 15-year-old Lakeside student, Suman Mulumudi. Watch out, Bill Gates. — B.A.

Plenty of crime, fewer police stops

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

The number of times Seattle police officers stopped to investigate and call in suspicious activities or minor violations they witnessed while on patrol has steeply declined in recent years, according to a report issued by the police department on Wednesday. The decline coincides with the city's federally mandated police reform process, which began in 2012 after a 2011 U.S. Department of Justice investigation. While there is no clear evidence that links the decline and the reforms, people familiar with the department say that some reform-related policies have made officers less proactive while on patrol. When an officer stops to look into a suspicious activity or minor violation it's known as an "on-view." Compared to the first quarter of 2011, the number of on-views during the first quarter of 2014 was down 44 percent. During that same time period, calls for police assistance have gone up 9 percent.The report also showed an ongoing decline in the number of non-traffic citations written by patrol officers. Totals have dropped every year between 2006 and 2013. During that time-span the average number of citations that patrol officers wrote each year for non-traffic violations dropped nearly 61 percent, from 41 to 16. Similarly, the number of misdemeanor crimes filed in Seattle Municipal Court fell 49 percent between 2005 and 2013.A department official presented the report to Seattle's Community Police Commission yesterday. The commission provides input on the federal reform process. Mayor Ed Murray said the department, the commission and his office should investigate the numbers further. “The preliminary statistics in the Seattle Police Department’s presentation to the Community Police Commission today are deeply concerning to me," he said in a statement. The department said that it "owes it to both residents and officers to provide clear expectations, training and equipment necessary to perform policing that is constitutional and within policy.” — B.L.

Preschool plan from Murray

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray today laid out a proposal to finance universal preschool in Seattle. How are we going to pay for that? With a four-year property tax levy, which would raise $14.5 million per year. Ana Sofia Knauf has the details here. — J.C. 

Vashon's open prom

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Fundraising for this year’s Vashon High School prom was so successful that the senior class decided to invite the whole school. Led by teacher and senior class adviser Eric Heffelfinger, Vashon high seniors washed cars, sold baked goods, held an auction and raised nearly $13,000. (That's a lot of cars and cakes.) In addition to supporting an open prom, Heffelfinger said “A substantial portion [of the record-breaking total] will be left to the school as a Class of 2014 legacy.” Five hundred students attend Vashon high; around 300 will be attending the senior prom at Seattle’s EMP this Saturday. Two hundred of those prom-goers will be underclassmen. Congratulations, and nice work, class of 2014! — K.L.

Big Macs or Big Labor?

at 3:53pm by Joe Copeland

Do cheap Big Macs demand cheap labor? Whatever the answer, low wages are pushing thousands of fast food workers into the streets today as part of a national strike for a $15 minimum wage. Demonstrations in Seattle started at Cal Anderson Park this morning and will end — after several events scheduled around the city — in a 4 p.m. rally at Westlake Park. Seattle is one of 150 cities taking part in the national strike, which will be amplified by support rallies in more than 30 countries, according to The New York Times. The National Restaurant Association, which opposes hiking the national minimum wage, claims that the Service Employees International Union is using the protests to push a Big Labor agenda. Noting the U.S. Senate's recent failure to raise the national minimum wage, PR Watch says the National Restaurant Association is having its way with Congress through "super-sized political giving." — M.L.

Wednesday 14 May, 2014

The Inslee blocks a parole. Obama might allow oil exports from here. How people make earthquakes.

Hiring here earns national attention

at 4:49pm by Joe Copeland

With employers hiring some 7,700 additional workers, Washington state's unemployment rate fell to 6.1 percent last month, a drop of .2 percentage points from a month earlier, the state Department of Employment Services said today. A CNN story notes a Washington state contradiction to a lot of the rhetoric around the supposed job losses from raising the minimum wage. A report by two business service providers finds that small businesses in Washington — which has the highest minimum wage among states at $9.32 per hour — are adding jobs at a faster rate than in any other state. And, CNN points, out San Francisco, which has a minimum wage of $10.74, led in job growth among all the cities tracked by the service companies, Paychex and INS. None of this, of course, proves a cause-and-effect between higher starting pay and hiring. — J.C.  

Quakes: We are making the earth move

at 4:49pm by Joe Copeland

According to a new study co-authored by a Western Washington University professor, human-caused groundwater depletion may be causing increased seismic activity and changes in mountain height in California’s Sierra Nevada range.As humans continue to deplete groundwater resources in the San Joaquin Valley, the process puts pressure on surrounding sedimentary materials, thus causing the region’s mountains and valleys to rise and fall, though only by a matter of inches. According to researchers, this may affect the nearby San Andreas Fault, whose sensitivity to small changes in stress can control the amount and frequency of smaller earthquakes along the fault line. However, Colin Amos, assistant professor of geology at Western and one of the leaders of the research, notes that these findings do not serve as a warning for “The Big One” that seismologists predict for the region. — M.C.

Energy rush could grow

at 4:49pm by Joe Copeland

The Obama administration is reviewing whether to lift the long-held ban on exporting U.S. oil, according to the D.C. political publication The Hill. As Ansel Herz notes on the SLOG, the move would have "troubling implications" for Washington state, which is already seeing an increase in oil deliveries to its refineries. Crosscut's Floyd McKay has reported on increased risks from shipments of coal, as well as possible exports from Canada's Alberta tar sands oil. One hope has been that Oregon and Washington's governors could decide to stop many energy export proposals, but a lifting of the export ban might create a whole new level of pressure on the states. — J.C. Tesla: The car, the legend, the namePopular Seattle cartoonist Matthew Inman — he writes and draws The Oatmeal site — drives a popular car, the Tesla Model S (which he prefers to call a magical space car, among other names). His paean includes an explanation that the small motor giving the car incredible power is an AC motor, the result of the 1880s work of Nikola Tesla. He's just finished a new posting about why there ought to be a museum honoring Nikola Tesla (whose only connection to the car is the name).  An earlier crowd-funding campaign, which Inman led, saved the site of Tesla's New York labs from possible development. But now another $8 million is needed to actually create a museum there, he's asking Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla Motors (which has no other connection to the inventor than the name) to help. To wit: To come up with the $8 million. 
 

As Slate notes, that isn't necessarily a promise of $8 million. But it's a heck of a start. — J.C. 

No parole for police shooter

at 4:49pm by Joe Copeland

Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday canceled the parole of a man who stabbed a Richland police officer seven times and shot the officer twice with his own gun in 1982. Jerry Lain has been serving a life sentence for the attack on officer Mike Fitzpatrick, who had caught Lain breaking into a car, and was eligible for parole after 20 years. Several Tri-Cities law enforcement officials recently testified against the parole, which was granted by the Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, subject to Lain's drawing up a post-release plan for himself.In a press release, Inslee said he denied the parole after reviewing the case, including a 2013 psychological examination that concluded that Lain is a moderate to high risk to re-offend. Exam administrators also concluded that Lain was not completely honest in his responses to test questions, Inslee said. The Tri-City Herald reported that Lain stabbed officer Fitzpatrick just five months after Lain was released from an Iowa prison, where he had been sentenced for stabbing a man in a bar fight. The Herald said Lain was within two days of release in 2010 when then-Gov. Chris Gregoire blocked a parole order, a decision that was upheld by the state Supreme Court last November.  — J.S. 

Tuesday 13 May, 2014

The Obama honors Bonney Lake native. A surprising Amazon patent. Murray offers Metro plan.

Red lanes on Seattle streets

at 12:43pm by Joe Copeland

The Seattle Department of Transportation is going to experiment with painting some bus lanes red, according to Seattle Transit Blog. The experiment will start with three short stretches of street near the Montlake Bridge on Pacific Avenue, in Belltown on Wall and Battery streets east of Third Avenue, and in Wallingford on N. Midvale Place between 45th and 46th streets. SDOT hopes the clearer markings will cut down on the number of regular vehicles using the bus lanes. After all, nothing says "no" like the color red.  — J.C. 

Sea-Tac jetway drops  

at 12:43pm by Joe Copeland

A jetway at Sea-Tac Airport dropped about six feet this morning, according to airport officials. No one was hurt. KOMO said the accident occurred shortly after a Southwest Airlines plane pulled up to Gate B14.

Transit rescue?

at 12:43pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray unveiled a proposal  on Tuesday intended to stave off King County Metro Transit bus cuts in Seattle. The proposal would impose a $60 vehicle licensing fee on Seattle residents and an additional 0.1 percent sales tax within the city. Murray said that given existing vehicle license fees and expiring county fees, the total "car tab" price for Seattleites would be $80 a year. The bulk of the tax and fee revenue would pay for the city bus routes that Metro Transit has put on the chopping block due to a budget shortfall. Without additional funding, the service cuts would begin this fall and continue into 2015.“We must preserve bus service in this city," Murray said. "We know this is what Seattle wants.”The Mayor's Office estimated that the plan would generate $45 million in revenue annually. Of this money, approximately $40 million would go toward preserving service. As much as $3 million would be funneled into a "Regional Partnership" matching fund designed to encourage investments from nearby cities and employers. The money in the fund would help pay for regional commuter routes. Another $2 million would be used to fund a vehicle license fee rebate program and reduced bus fares for low income residents.Murray's plan is similar to Proposition 1, which would have imposed a similar fee and tax, but on a countywide level, through a new transportation benefit district. Voters rejected the Prop. 1 ballot measure in April, but it received strong support within Seattle's city limits. The mayor's proposal will next be considered by Seattle's nearly four-year-old Transportation Benefit District. Seattle City Council members act as the board for the district. The council will have until Aug. 5 to decide whether to put the proposal on the November ballot. Several councilmembers were on hand when the mayor announced the plan on Tuesday, including Tom Rasmussen, Tim Burgess, Sally Bagshaw and Sally Clark. — B.L.

Questions over Amazon photography patent

at 12:43pm by Joe Copeland

2:55 p.m. Amazon has invented a new method of taking photographs: using a clean white background in a studio to highlight the specific features of a product. OK, maybe that’s not so inventive, but the company managed to win a patent today giving it exclusive rights to photograph against a white background in a studio using several rather technical steps. The particular method eliminates the need for post processing, the Puget Sound Business Journal reports, which could translate to reduced labor costs and better efficiency. It’s unclear how this will affect the thousands of photographers who use white backgrounds in studios every day. — M.L.

Medal of Honor awarded

at 12:43pm by Joe Copeland

3:30 p.m. President Barack Obama today gave the Medal of Honor to former Army Sgt. Kyle White, a native of Bonney Lake. White, who graduated from Sumner Senior High School, was honored for helping injured comrades during a 2007 ambush in Afghanistan, according to The News Tribune. White is now an investment analyst at a bank in North Carolina. — J.C.

Monday 12 May, 2014

The Oso survivors to speak up on safety. A breast cancer vaccine? Another Metro funding idea.

Missing plane found

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

Officials in Wyoming said this afternoon that they located the wreckage of a plane that was reportedly carrying 86-year-old Seattle man, Ward Zimmerman, and his 84-year-old brother Robert Zimmerman of Huntsville, Alabama. The wreckage was in an area of high avalanche danger as rescuers tried to reach the area Monday afternoon and determine the Zimmermans' status, according to the Enterprise in Cody, Wyoming. A helicopter pilot spotted the wreckage in a steep ravine; the local sheriff's office hoped to bring in a larger helicopter to see if it could reach the plane.

Metro funding

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

The SLOG reports that a draft proposal in Mayor Ed Murray's office outlines the use of a city-only car tab fee and sales tax hike to protect Seattle routes from some of the expected Metro Transit service cuts. The proposal would go on the November ballot. A first round of Metro cuts would be expected to take place before the city would start to collect the additional money, but further cuts could be headed off, according to the memo. As the report notes, the proposal is essentially identical to one that passed in the city but failed in the suburbs last month.

Breast cancer vaccine tested

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

The Providence Regional Cancer Partnership in Everett is one of just 13 sites testing a vaccine to see if it can prevent the recurrence of breast cancer. Initial tests on a small group of women were promising, and the vaccine, combined with other drugs, could provide a major step forward in fighting some types of breast cancer, according to The Herald. The Everett test, which will involve about 50 volunteers, is the only one being conducted in Washington state.

Oso review

at 4:43pm by Joe Copeland

Officials of the state Department of Natural Resources are holding an all-day review of landslide hazards and the Oso muslide, Associated Press reported. During the evening, survivors of the mudslide are expected to testify that tighter controls should be imposed on logging. Peter Goldman, director of the Washington Forest Law Center, told Q13 that their stories ought to help move DNR to develop emergency controls on logging. 

Friday 9 May, 2014

The Boeing union leaders survive. Big Coal makes enviro hire. Bertha shaft work poised to begin.

CenturyLink's Colossal Heads. Credit: Claudia Fitch website

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

Visual artist honored 

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

Claudia Fitch has won the Artist Trust's 2014 award for lifetime achievement by a Washington state woman artist. By giving Fitch its Irving and Yvonne Twining Humber Award for Lifetime Artistic Achievement, Artist Trust  recognized and honored her innovations in visual arts. (The award includes a $10,000 award). Visitors to CenturyLink Field — home of the Seahawks and Sounders — will be familiar with one of her better-known public-art projects, Colossal Heads. Fitch's work can also be seen at the Lynnwood Transit Center and along the Interurban Bike Trail in Tukwila. And, of course, on her website. — J.C. 

Bezos talks drones

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

In a talk to a local school, Jeff Bezos talked up the possibility of using drones to deliver items to customers, saying 80 percent of its shipments involve packages of five pounds or less. According to Puget Sound Business Journal, the Amazon CEO said the decision about its pace of any introduction of drones will be determined by Federal Aviation Administration's actions to regulate drones.  The Journal, which based its reports on tweets by Zillow CEO Spencer Rascoff (a parent at the school, which was not named in the report), said Bezos basically replied "why not?" to a question about drones carrying people eventually. Should Lyft and Uber be worried that their apps will soon be old school? — J.C. 

Digging to Bertha

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

Now that an environmental review is complete, Seattle Tunnel Partners can build the 120-foot-deep pit that will allow crews to repair our stalled tunneling machine. 
Pit construction will be hard to see because crews recently erected a wall to shield neighbors from construction noise at the the waterfront site between South Jackson and South Main streets. If you're dying for a glimpse, the best viewing spot is online via the state's newly installed time-lapse camera. Excavation of the shaft won't begin until workers dig a ring of 75 boreholes around the site, and inject a concrete barrier that will keep water from seeping in. Meanwhile, scientists are searching the shaft area for anything of archaeological significance. The actual shaft digging is tentatively scheduled to begin in late July.Here's what the work site looked like at noon Friday. — J.S.

Coal firm hires enviro board member 

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

The Sightline environmental group reports that a firm planning to ship coal from Longview to China has hired the board president of a Seattle-based environmental group as its next president. Bill Chapman, an attorney with K&L Gates for many years, will become president of Millennium Bulk Terminals, which is seeking permits for a major coal shipping operation. Chapman is currently president of the board of directors for Mountains to Sound Greenway, and a board member for the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Coalition. — J.C.

Boeing union leaders declare victory

at 1:41pm by Joe Copeland

Leaders of the International Association of Machinists, which represents Boeing technical workers here, say they have survived the first election challenge in more than a half-century. The insurgent group, IAM Reform, tells The Herald they will dispute the election results. Some of the momentum for change came from the discontent among many workers over contract concessions — pushed by national union leaders — given to Boeing to ensure that the compny would build the 777X airliner in Washington state. — J.C. 

Load More