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Monday 26 Jan, 2015

A new look at nuclear power. CenturyLink could get more seats. Homeless count up. Targeting Bertha.

Olympia: Targeting Bertha, annoying Tim Eyman

at 3:14pm by John Stang

Updated at 9:25 p.m. Two influential Senate Republicans introduced a bill to put the Bertha tunnel-boring machine out of its misery. Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane and Sen. Doug Ericksen of Ferndale want to stop all spending on the tunnel work and launch an investigation of alternatives for the Highway 99 project, while directing the state to examine legal remedies for ending the tunneling contract. “We need to stop throwing money at a hole in the ground,” Baumgartner said in a statement late in the afternoon.In other Olympia news Monday:

  • Twenty-two Washington House members have joined the Senate in trying to amend the state constitution to require any public initiative with major spending implications either identify a funding source or show that it won’t mess up the state budget over the next four years. Rep. Ruth Kagi, D-Seattle, and 21 bipartisan co-sponsors from the entire left-to-right political spectrum introduced legislation to that effect on Monday. Last week, Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, and 37 Senate cosponsors introduced similar legislation. In a Monday email, professional initiative promoter Tim Eyman criticized the heavy Republican support for Fain’s bill in the Senate, saying the GOP senators “are squandering … good will by joining with Democrats in the most arrogant power grab in state history.”
  • Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, introduced a bill Monday to require a study of the effects of predators — primarily gray wolves — on the state’s deer, elk and other wild ungulates. The study is also to consider the ripple effects on predators attacking domestic ungulates, such as cows, sheep, goats and horses. Her bill specifies that the study would have to meet the standards for publication in a peer-reviewed scientific journal. Washington State University has a wild ungulate research center.
  • Rep. Reuven Carlyle, D-Seattle, introduced a bipartisan bill Monday to repeal the state’s death penalty and replace it with life in prison without parole. Right now, Gov. Jay Inslee has a moratorium on implementing the death penalty for the duration of his stay in office. The cosponsors are Reps. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, Maureen Walsh, R-Walla Walla, and Chad Magendanz, R- Issaquah.
  • Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle and Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, introduced companion versions of the Reproductive Parity Act in the House and in the Senate. The bills would require health plans that cover maternity care to cover abortions as well. This is the third time that these bills have gone into the Legislature, passing the House along party lines, and stalling in the Republican-controlled Senate. — J.S.

Amazon's Japanese unit under investigation for child pornography

at 3:14pm by David Kroman

Japanese authorities are investigating Amazon Inc.’s Japanese unit for the possible sale of child pornography on their website. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, police raided Amazon’s Japanese headquarters on suspicion of selling books with pictures of underage girls. There were no details about the source of the suspicion. An Amazon spokesperson in Japan said company officials are cooperating with the investigation. — D.K.

NFL gets creative

at 3:14pm by Cambria Roth

There is only one downfall to watching the Super Bowl live in the stands — none of the cool new commercials that advertisers broadcast for the game. You could watch them the next day, but why shouldn’t the traveling 12s see the commercial action along with everyone else? Geekwire reports that the NFL has unveiled its first-ever Super bowl app for attendees to watch the same fun ads that they’d see at home. Fans can also watch instant replays from four different camera angles as the Seattle Seahawks take on the New England Patriots. The app only works in the University of Phoenix’s stadium in Glendale, Ariz. This is all part of the NFL’s effort to “incorporate technology into the fan experience.” — C.R.

One Night Count results are in; Count Us In results due in March

at 3:14pm by David Kroman

Last week, two surveys attempted to count King County’s homeless population: Count Us In for youth and young adults and the One Night Count for the general homeless population. The results for Count Us In will not be available until March, but the One Night Count revealed a 20 percent increase in people without stable housing, said Mark Putnam, director of the Committee to End Homelessness in King County. The increase is close to Mayor Ed Murray’s recent estimation that the homeless population had increased 30 percent.Part of the increase is due to an expanded survey. “We counted additional areas,” said Putnam. But he said the broader reach “only accounted for a third of the increase.” The reasons for the overall increase are complex, but Putnam said the state Department of Commerce showed a 10 percent increase in rents over the last eight years, while the income of low-income people has decreased 10 percent. Additionally, said Putnam, Washington state ranks 47th in the availability of mental health and chemical dependency treatments. The combination, he said, “is costing people a roof over their heads.”The news is discouraging, especially considering King County’s goal of preventing and eliminating homelessness by 2020. While Putnam praises the programs working to alleviate the issues surrounding homeless people, he admitted, “If we started over now, we’d be funding different programs.” The issue is that they tend to be one size fits all. His goal is to work with the city and county to “shift housing models” toward more cost-effective, person-specific models. The money saved from providing only the resources people need would allow for serving more people.As part of our Kids@Risk coverage, Crosscut will flesh out the results of the Count Us In survey when the results are released. — D.K.

Seahawks expanding Century Link

at 3:14pm by Cambria Roth

Rumors are flying that the Seattle Seahawks are expanding CenturyLink Field for the 2015 season. Sources tell The Seattle Times that the Seahawks plan to pay an estimated $5 to $6 million for the installation of 1,000 additional seats, which would make the stadium’s capacity more than 69,500. The seats would be added to the south end of the stadium, on the upper level next to the 12th Man flag. The project would include construction of a new 12 Flag Pavilion to dramatize the raising of the flag. Ticket holders in the new section will have access to the Toyota Fan Deck, a covered viewing area with a fireplace, televisions, views of the field and food and beverage stands. The team hasn’t officially confirmed the expansion, but an announcement could come in the next few weeks. — C.R.

Nuclear bills get off the ground

at 3:14pm by John Stang

With a trio of bills that will be heard Tuesday, a Kennewick legislator is taking the lead in efforts to nurture nuclear energy in Washington.The bills by Republican Sen. Sharon Brown go to a public hearing before the Senate Environment, Energy & Telecommunications Committee on Tuesday. Four committee members also belong to a House-Senate task force studying whether nuclear power should be expanded in Washington. The four are Brown, committee chairman Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, Sen. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, and Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch.One of Brown’s bills calls for providing a sales tax exemption for small modular reactors that some Tri-Cities interests hope to eventually build and ship elsewhere. Another of Brown’s bills would add nuclear power to the list of alternative power sources that certain utilities are required to use to meet state targets for having “green” energy sources as part of their electrical-generation mix. Brown’s third bill would create a nuclear energy education program that would include classroom sessions and science teachers’ workshops on teaching nuclear science to eighth through 12th graders. Washington State University would be in charge of the overall program, which would be financed by a yet-to-be-determined mix of state and private money.  — J.S.

Friday 23 Jan, 2015

Another council member opts out. Elysian swallowed up. Expedia makes another acquisition.

Boston wins the Census Bowl

at 2:38pm by David Kroman

The U.S. Census can have some fun, too. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the government bureau has posted comparative statistics between Seattle and Boston — the two cities in this year’s Super Bowl. And it turns out, Boston is bigger, richer, and better educated. The reports shows that 39 percent of Seattleites have at least a bachelor’s degree, compared to 44 percent in Boston. In Seattle, the median household income is $67,479 versus Boston’s $72,907. As for metro population, Boston’s 4,684,299 trumps Seattle’s 3,610,105. But don’t be disheartened Seattle: the census measures neither average decibels per capita nor the pounds per square inch pressure in our footballs. — D.K.

Ditch Seattle traffic with a waterslide?

at 2:38pm by Cambria Roth

Commuters — you could get a refreshing break. A Utah outfit says that in July (no specific date given so far) it will bring Seattle a new way to get through downtown Seattle : a waterslide. SeattlePI.com reports that Seattle will be one of more than 150 cities to host “Slide the City.” The company brings its 1,000-plus-foot vinyl waterslide, live music, food and drinks to cities across the United States. “We spend so much time walking, running or driving around our cities,” a news release said. “But how many times have you been able to say you slid down your city streets?” Get your sun tan lotion, but don’t book your schedule too tightly around traveling the slide. The San Jose Mercury News notes that plans for a waterslide event in Los Angeles last fall came undone after protests over wasting water. With any luck, we won’t have drought issues. — C.R.

Expedia swallows Travelocity

at 2:38pm by David Kroman

Locally based travel giant Expedia just got larger.  Bellevue based Expedia purchased Travelocity for $280 million. The move isn’t necessarily surprising: The Puget Sound Business Journal notes, that in 2013, the two companies made a deal that gave Expedia control of most of Travelocity’s operations. With its acquisition, Travelocity is folded into Expedia’s long list of brands, including Hotels.com, Hotwire, trivago and CarRentals.com. Can you leave without them? — D.K.

Another independent brewery bites the dust

at 2:38pm by Cambria Roth

Anheuser-Busch has claimed its second Pacific Northwest brewery victim. The company just bought Elysian Brewing. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Anheuser-Busch is a subsidiary of the Belgian beverage company InBev and makes Bud brands of beer. They also bought 10 Barrel Brewing, based in Bend, Ore., last year for a rumored $50 million. Elysian is the fourth-largest brewery in Washington state and produced 43,253 barrels of beer in 2013. Craft beer fans aren’t happy about the acquisition and took to Twitter to air their complaints.— C.R.

Finding out Elysian sold to Anheuser-Busch is like finding out your girlfriend cheated on you with Justin Beiber #craftbeer #elysian— The Beeroness (@TheBeeroness) January 23, 2015

Tom Rasmussen will not seek re-election

at 2:38pm by David Kroman

On the heels of Councilmember Nick Licata’s declaration that he would not seek re-election comes Seattle City Council veteran Tom Rasmussen’s announcement Friday that he, too, will leave the council at the end of his term. A resident of Alki in West Seattle, Rasmussen has been a council member since 2004. Prior to his council tenure, he worked as a legislative aide to for Seattle City Councilmember Jeanette Williams. He then went on to work as the Director of the Seattle Mayor’s Office for Senior Citizens.On the council, he has worked on issues of transportation, the environment, housing and human rights. In 2013, Rasmussen received a lot of press for wanting to put a stop to aPODments – tall and narrow housing units popping up around Seattle — because of concerns over the lack of review process. More recently, Rasmussen has been a proponent of increasing ride-share programs like Uber and Lyft as well as expanding free-floating car shares like Car2Go.In his statement, Rasmussen said he did not want to be “divided between a campaign and the work I want to accomplish.” Additionally, like Licata, Rasmussen seems ready to work outside of government. “It is now time,” he said, “to direct my efforts toward the same causes I have always been most passionate about — in exciting new ways.” Mayor Ed Murray said, “Seattle is losing a major champion on the council. But we know his community activism will find new outlets as he writes his next chapter.”With his withdrawal, Rasmussen from the District 1 council race in West Seattle, the remaining declared candidates are George Capestany, Amanda Kay Helmick and Chas Redmond. — D.K.

Thursday 22 Jan, 2015

Murray signals hope for an NHL franchise. Rideshare reaches Olympia, politically. Kalakala makes its last run.

counts its homeless youth

at 3:22pm by Mary Bruno

King County’s annual Count Us In survey of homeless youth is happening even as I type. Teams of volunteers from local libraries, community centers, advocacy groups and service provider organizations are fanning out across the county, taking a census (albeit inexact) of our homeless youth population. Count Us In teams will visit 70 different spots around the county, 46 more than last year. The goal is to gauge the size and demographics of the county's homeless youth cohort. Crosscut’s David Kroman is embedded with volunteers from The Mockingbird Society and will have a report on the 2015 Count Us In effort soon. – M.B.

Bainbridge: More of an island

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

Bainbridge Island is an island, sure, but folks do have Agate Pass Bridge to provide an easy on-off drive to Silverdale and beyond on the west side of the Sound. However … the state Department of Transportation is already putting out reminders that "long traffic delays" are ahead. Beginning Feb. 9, crews will funnel bridge traffic into a single lane, alternating between the two directions of traffic while they perform low-pressure washing and clean the bridge — by hand. The work will last for 21 straight days. (The slightly varying hours are here, but weekday closures will generally be 8:45 a.m. to 3 p.m.). Relaxing-in-traffic mantra: "I love living on an island." — J.C. 

Kalakala: scrap

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

The historic ferry Kalakala today reached its final destination: the scrap yard. The News Tribune has an excellent blow-by-blow account and time-lapse video of her early morning trip and arrival in the yard (there were tugs to guide her but the crews let the tide do most of the work because of the ship's fragile state). As Crosscut's Knute Berger wrote earlier this month, the original ferry (then called the Peralta) was regarded as a "jinx ship" when it first operated in California from 1927-33, but after a big fire, it was overhauled into the sleek, beloved Kalakala, serving on runs between Seattle and Bremerton for decades. Alas, numerous restoration and preservation efforts failed. So, it's the end, although we have a feeling Berger might have a word or two about it soon when he does his annual "Heritage Turkeys" awards column recognizing dubious achievements in historic preservation. — J.C. 

Ridesharing goes to Olympia

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

Several King County legislators are jumping into a touchy issue: regulation of ridesharing companies. Sen. Cyrus Habib, D-Kirkland, has introduced a bill to set statewide safety standards and insurance requirements for firms like Sidecar, Lyft and Uber. His Senate co-sponsor is Republican Sen. Joe Fain of Auburn, vice chair of the Transportation Committee. In a press release, Habib said, "This legislation will provide protections for passengers and drivers so these new transportation options can serve the public safely and fairly." Rep. Larry Springer, D-Kirkland, is expected to introduce a companion House version of the measure. — J.C. 

Murray talks with sports leagues

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

Mayor Ed Murray says he met with representatives of pro basketball and hockey in New York City on Monday, on his way to a U.S. Conference of Mayors gathering that is taking place in D.C. In a very brief statement, Murray reported that — no surprise — NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told him that there are no expansion plans (Nice to see you, Seattle! Great memories, huh? I'll give you a call sometime when I've got nothing else to do.) In contrast, Murray's few words about meeting with NHL boss Gary Bettman were intriguing: "We are very keen on bringing an NHL team here, and the commissioner recognizes the value we would bring as home to a future franchise. We will continue to work toward that shared vision." Is a second Seattle sports story brewing. — J.C. 

Wednesday 21 Jan, 2015

Give the people the costs of initiatives. How bad is homeless problem? Mount Vernon student hears Obama.

Attorney General proposes smoking age hike

at 2:53pm by Cody Olsen

State Attorney General Bob Ferguson wants to raise the legal smoking age from 18 to 21 in Washington. Sen. Mark Miloscia, R-Federal Way, and Rep. Tina Orwall, D-Des Moines, have joined in a bipartisan introduction of the measure, which Ferguson’s agency requested. Ferguoson noted that Alaska and three other states already prohibit the sale of tobacco products to anyone under 19. Crosscut’s John Stang will have a full story later. — C.O.

Med school: Spokane is bipartisan

at 2:53pm by John Stang

Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, and Rep. Marcus Riccelli, D-Spokane, introduced Senate and House bills Wednesday to create a Washington State University medical school in Spokane. The Senate bill has 17 cosponsors, a little more than a third of the membership, while the House bill has 60 co-sponsors, well over half of the entire body. The bills would eliminate a 1917 restriction that makes the University of Washington the only state institution that can operate a medical school.WSU would then expand an existing medical training facility at its branch campus in Spokane into a separately accredited medical school. Baumgartner and Riccelli are seeking $2.5 million in this session's budget to begin the accreditation process. Roughly 350 Washingtonians become medical students each year, but the University of Washington will accept only 120 applicants from this state, so most Washingtonian medical students go elsewhere, according to a press release from Baumgartner and Riccelli. The WSU project envisions reaching an annual enrollment of 120 in 10 years.  — J.S.

Lower gas prices equals more traffic

at 2:53pm by Cambria Roth

Forgive Puget Sound area residents if they feel they can’t catch a break. King5 News reports that new research from Kirkland-based INRIX finds a correlation between gas prices and traffic congestion. We trade one for the other — as the price decreases, traffic increases in the Seattle Metro area. In September and November, a decrease of 5 cents in the gas price year-over-year corresponds to around a 10 percent increase in traffic congestion. October’s 20-cents drop resulted in a 30 percent traffic increase. — C.R.

Sawant's Socialist response to SOTU

at 2:53pm by Cody Olsen

Adding to the myriad of reactions to President Obama’s SOTU address, Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant posted a 10-minute Socialist response last night. Sawant felt that despite lofty rhetoric, Obama has not done enough to combat income inequality and doubts his ability to achieve success on some of the goals he outlined due to the Republican controlled congress. My Northwest provided highlights of her response. “Under Obama the gap between the rich and poor has only widened,” she said. Sawant went on to call out Obama for not doing enough to protect people of color from police brutality. "Why can't Barack Obama say 'Black Lives Matter'?" Sawant asked. For the full speech, addressed to "Sisters and Brothers," you can go to the Socialist Alternative website. — C.O.

Mount Vernon student attends State of the Union speech

at 2:53pm by Cambria Roth

Juan Andres Macedo was shocked when he received an invitation to be in the audience during President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech. The high school senior from Mount Vernon got the call from Rep. Suzan DelBene’s office. KUOW reports that Macedo is an undocumented immigrant who was detained while visiting friends in Blaine. DelBene and other members of Washington’s congressional delegation have been involved in his case and sent letters of support to federal immigration officials. A judge allowed him an indefinite stay. Macedo hoped Obama would talk about immigration reform, but the speech only included a few passing references to the issue. But the president did threaten to veto any effort to defund or roll back his executive action to shield millions of undocumented immigrants from deportation. — C.R.

One Night Count

at 2:53pm by David Kroman

It’s hard to take a census of a demographic that often doesn’t want to be seen. But that’s what the One Night Count will do this later this week as volunteers try to record the number of homeless people in King County. Although the state and federal government now mandates that counties keep track of their homeless population, King County’s count has been happening for 35 years, before it was required.Last year, according to KPLU, over 1,000 volunteers found some 3,100 people with no shelter during a three-hour window in the middle of the night. They found them on sidewalks, in bushes, in trees, in cars, even in makeshift homes. In his speech coming out in favor of three new homeless encampments, Mayor Ed Murray said he believes that number will be higher this year.King County will also conduct its annual Count Us In survey, which attempts to count the number of youth and young adults who are homeless or in unstable housing. — D.K.

Spenders beware amendment

at 2:53pm by John Stang

The Washington Senate wants to amend the state constitution to require any public initiative with major spending implications to identify a funding source or show that it won't mess up the state budget over the next four years. Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn and 37 Senate cosponsors — covering the entire right-to-left political spectrum –— introduced the legislation Tuesday.The cosponsors alone would provide enough votes to pass the measure in the Senate. In both the Senate and the House, two-thirds of the members — meaning 33 senators and 66 representatives in the House — are needed to send a constitutional amendment to a public vote. This proposed amendment is an apparent response to voters' overwhelmingly passage of Initiative 1351 last year requiring significantly lower teacher-to-student ratios in Grades K-12. That measure is predicted to cost $2 billion in 2015-2017, with the Legislature stymied on where to find that money on top of another $1 billion in court-ordered class-reduction obligations. I-1351 did not say where the extra $2 billion would come from.“Our initiative process sometimes fails to give voters all of the facts,” Majority Floor Leader Fain said in a news release. “Voters deserve the opportunity to make decisions knowing the true costs of what they’re supporting or opposing.” —J.S.

Tuesday 20 Jan, 2015

Trial beginning in officer's death. Sawant challenger makes promise. City workers walk out.

Federal Way: Center of the political spectrum?

at 2:36pm by Joe Copeland

Federal Way City Council member Martin Moore said today he will run for a state legislative seat that will be up for election in November. Moore said he is switching from the Democratic Party to the Republican Party. In a statement emailed to the media, he said, “Democrats have had a firm grip on Olympia for 30 years and what do we have to show for it? Declining wages, a court order to reform and fund our schools, crumbling roads and bridges, skyrocketing college tuition, and an inefficient and ineffective government."The seat is held by Rep. Carol Gregory, a Democrat who was just appointed to fill the vacancy created by the death of popular Democratic Rep. Roger Freeman. The News-Tribune notes that Moore had served earlier as Freeman's legislative assistant and campaign manager. As Crosscut's Knute Berger noted in a profile of the 30th Legislative District, which includes Federal Way as well as Des Moines and Auburn areas, party switching has a bit of history there. Federal Way Mayor Jim Ferrell considers himself a Democrat but had earlier been a Republican. And the district just elected former Democrat Mark Miloscia to the Senate as a Republican. One of Miloscia's first acts this session was to appear with Democrats unveiling bills on raising the minimum wage and assuring workers of sick leave. — J.C.

Vacation: a legal mandate?

at 2:36pm by John Stang

Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, introduced a bill Tuesday to require most public and private employers to provide paid vacation for qualifying workers.After six months of employment, full-time and part-time employees would be entitled to two hours of paid vacation for every 40 hours worked, Tarleton said in a press release. That would work out to about 12 days per year for a full-time employee. Private organizations with fewer than 10 employees and schools are exempted.The legislation does not require employers to make changes to existing paid vacation policies that are more generous than the minimums set in Tarleton’s bill. – J.S.

Seahawks Tweet apology

at 2:36pm by Cody Olsen

On Monday the Seahawks tweeted the image of an emotional Russell Wilson with a quote from Martin Luther King Jr. on it. Twitter users were quick to call out what they saw as tastelessly equating the civil rights struggle to football. Time reports that within two hours the team had taken down the tweet and posted an apology, “We apologize for poor judgment shown in a tweet sent earlier. We did not intend to compare football to the civil rights legacy of Dr. King.” — C.O.

City workers walk out

at 2:36pm by David Kroman

More than 200 city employees staged a lunch-hour walkout at 1 p.m. on the steps of city hall. The event was in support of the Black Lives Matter demonstrations growing out of the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner at the hands of police officers. Among the crowd were employees of Seattle Public Utilities, Seattle City Light and the Office of Public Defenders. Politically, the most noteworthy aspect might have been the presence of councilmembers Nick Licata, Mike O’Brien, Kshama Sawant, Bruce Harrell and, reportedly, Sally Clark (Crosscut couldn’t place her in the crowd).The event was subdued, with no chants, few signs and certainly no conflict with police. In fact, police were not present at all. The event consisted of short speeches from members of the NAACP and others, lasting about 30 minutes. Organizer Christopher Peguero, a division administrator with Seattle City Light, called the event a success. “As civic employees,” he said, “it’s important for us to make a statement and keep the momentum moving forward.” While he said they were willing and hoping to work with the police,  “the ultimate goal is to eliminate the use of lethal force by police officers.” Councilmember Harrell said it was important for council members to be there to support the “narrative that black live matter because all lives matter.” When asked about his participation potentially angering the Seattle Police Department, he replied, “I don’t see a conflict,” adding he has plans for meeting  with African American police officers in the near future. — D.K.

New Challenger for Kshama Sawant 

at 2:36pm by Cody Olsen

Seattlepi.com is reporting that Morgan Beach will challenge Kshama Sawant for a City Council seat in this year’s elections. Beach, a 28-year-old Red Cross employee, describes herself as “young pragmatic, and collaborative.” She seemed to get in a dig at Sawant, saying, “This is not about grandstanding, this is about governing.”

She’s the second announced challenger, following a campaign announcement by Rod Hearne, a leading organizer in the successful 2012 campaign for equal marriage. But Sawant may have dodged a big bullet in the District 3 council election late last year when likely challenger Alison Holcomb, the author of the state’s pot  legalization initiative, decided to take a job with the national ACLU. Elected in 2013 under the Socialist Alternative banner, Sawant has sparked debate about whether she’s shaking up City Council or just hopping from one confrontation to another.  — C.O.

Man accused of gunning down SPD officer on trial

at 2:36pm by Cody Olsen

Opening arguments began today in the trial of Christopher Monfort, the man is accused of the 2009 shooting death of Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton. KOMO Radio reported that a deputy prosecutor asserted that he stalked Brenton. The Seattle Times said the prosecution’s opening statement took about an hour, outlining the case that Monfort had deliberately targeted police officers over allegations of brutality.  He is also charged with trying to kill three other officers in two separate incidents, one a firebombing of police vehicles. The defense has pleaded not guilty for reasons of insanity. — C.O.

Friday 16 Jan, 2015

Smith's name misappropriated. Feeling the heat on climate? MLK rally plans.

Inslee on revolving door

at 3:44pm by John Stang

Gov. Jay Inslee supports Democratic Seattle Rep. Reuven Carlyle's bill to require a one-year cooling-off period before high-ranking state appointed officials plus elected leaders and legislators can legally lobby the Legislature and state agencies on issues. Inslee voiced that support Friday in a press conference. — J.S.

UW to pilot masters program for modern business

at 3:44pm by David Kroman

Shwetak Patel of the University of Washington made a name for himself by creating a cheap and easy way to monitor the energy efficiency of your home. He has gone on to create both software and hardware that can do anything from detecting tuberculosis based on the pitch of a cough to enabling touchless interaction with smartphones and tablets. When Crosscut profiled him last fall, he championed interdisciplinary work, arguing that programmers, electrical engineers, MDs and entrepreneurs are able to more effectively solve problems when they escape their bubbles and integrate with one another.

The Puget Sound Business Journal reported Friday that Patel is walking the integrated walk. He is leading a UW effort to set up a new masters program to prepare students for creating a successful startup. “I think traditional educational programs aren't quite set up for the modern innovation industry,” said Patel. “I think the kind of knowledge you get with an MBA is different than the kind of knowledge you would need for a startup.” The program would pair students with local businesses such as Microsoft, Amazon or Starbucks. Students would learn about entrepreneurialism as well as technology by shadowing and participating in the companies day by day. They would also team with international students to prepare them for what they will find in the tech industry. While the program is only in its pilot stages, Patel and the UW hope to have a masters program by 2016. Likely base for the program: Bellevue. — D.K.

The Cheeseheads are coming

at 3:44pm by David Kroman

There’s been some fun back and forth between Wisconsin and Washington leading up to this Sunday’s NFC Championship game between the Seahawks and Packers. First, a Milwaukee radio station banned all music from Seattle. Of course, this only drew attention to how much good music came from Seattle and how little came from Wisconsin. Bainbridge Island returned the volley by banning cheese in City Hall Friday. This also was a bit of a backfire: Most of the cheese we eat around here is from Washington, Oregon and California.

According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, there will, in fact, be real back and forth between the states. They contacted Bellevue-based Expedia and found that the website has seen a 15 percent spike in searches for flights between Green Bay and Seattle. They also reported a 30 percent increase in hotel searches from this time last year. You won’t be alone, 12th man. Luckily, Seattle still gets the last laugh: Visit Seattle predicts this surge in people will bring an additional $6 million to downtown restaurants, bars, hotels and taxis. — D.K.

The skill of watching football

at 3:44pm by John Stang

Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Pam Roach, R- Auburn, introduced bills Friday to legally declare fantasy sports as games of skill and not of chance. The bills' language specifically say it takes skill and know-how to win at fantasy sports — and not chance, which would run afoul of federal gambling laws. Forty other states protect fantasy sports with similar laws.

All this brings to mind W.C. Fields in1940's My Little Chickadee. A rube approaching a poker table says: "Uh, is this a game of chance?" To which Fields replies: "Not the way I play it, no." — J.S.

Amazon in trouble with the EU

at 3:44pm by John Stang

Last month, Boeing got into a bit of controversy with the European Union over state tax breaks. This month, Seattle’s other massive employer, Amazon, is the one in trouble. GeekWire reports that an EU study, released Friday, suggests Amazon may be working the tax system to an unfair advantage by way of Luxembourg. The deal in question was struck in 2003 between the e-commerce giant and the small European nation. The EU investigation claims Luxembourg allowed Amazon to pay exceedingly low tax rates. At the center of the controversy is a fee paid from Amazon’s European office to a Luxembourg-based subsidiary of Amazon. Amazon paid 4-6 percent taxes to the European Commission. By comparison, Starbucks paid nearly double that. Both Luxembourg and Amazon maintain that they’ve done nothing wrong. — D.K.

Holiday: Rally 

at 3:44pm by John Stang

In observance of Martin Luther King Day, the Daily Troll is going on holiday, but we’ll be back Tuesday with more news of the Northwest. As you embark on this three-day weekend, you might want to make time to watch ‘Selma,’ which our film critic Rustin Thompson praised (Hollywood is getting slammed all over the place for the film's shortage of Oscar nominations).There are a number of events around the area. The Martin Luther King Celebration Committee (now in its 33rd year of sponsoring events) will hold workshops, rallies and a noon march from Garfied High School to the Federal Courthouse Building downtown. Speakers will address the crowd at the Courthouse beginning at 1:30 p.m. If you want to get an early start, there's a blockbuster set of workshops scheduled from 9 to 9:50 a.m. on everything from communications through storytelling to education, youth rights and law enforcement issues (former U.S. Attorney for Western Washington Jenny Durkan is one speaker). Full details can be found on the committee's website

Hot 2014

at 3:44pm by John Stang

The news by scientists that 2014 was the warmest year ever recorded on Earth just might be good news for Gov. Inslee and his climate initiative — but it's clearly bad news for everyone else. The New York Times reports that extreme heat blanketed Alaska and much of the western United States, set temperature records in several European countries and created a warmer ocean surface everywhere except around Antarctica. This resulted in 2014 surpassing 2010 as the warmest year in a global temperature record stretching back to 1880. This latest declaration could affect the climate change brawl ensuing in Olympia. One of Inslee’s chief passions is to tackle climate change by dealing with carbon emissions. He wants a cap-and-trade program or a carbon emissions tax. Republican senators have repeatedly voiced qualms about his push to tackle the issue, pointint to potential effects on businesses and lower-income individuals. — C.R.

Hot 2014 

at 3:44pm by John Stang

Thursday 15 Jan, 2015

Starbucks will lay off some central staff. Getaway driver wins appeal. Delay on jail releases.

More Facebook employees? Like

at 1:49pm by Cody Olsen

Facebook is now 400 employees strong in Seattle, with no signs of slowing down the rapid growth the social media giant has had in the city. Its first office opened here in 2010 — with two employees. GeekWire reports that Facebook expanded this week onto the fourth floor of its main Seattle office, with plans to occupy two more floors in the building as well.“We have a bunch of companies that have been here for a long time, building up Seattle as this great technology hub,” said Paul Carduner, the Facebook site lead. — C.O.

Assistant police chief hired away

at 1:49pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Police Department veteran Nick Metz will become chief of police in Aurora, Colorado. Metz received glowing praise from the city manager, who announced the selection of the Seattle assistant chief, one of five here, this morning. Aurora manager Skip Noe told the Denver Post that Metz's experience and leadership skills make him "a unique fit" for Aurora. Metz will be the first African American police chief for Aurora, a city of nearly 350,000 people outside Denver. Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole told The Seattle Times this morning that she is delighted for Metz (who has long been held in high regard at City Hall). Metz told the paper that he has always wanted to lead a department. — J.C. 

Book and release on hold

at 1:49pm by Cody Olsen

A proposed "book-and-release" plan, which put King County Executive Dow Constantine and Seattle Mayor Ed Murray at odds, has been delayed ahead of its planned Feb. 1 enactment. The Seattle Times reported that the plan sought to assess drug and property crime offenders, releasing the low-level offenders after the initial booking and requiring them to appear in court at a later date. The goal was to curb the county’s $54 million budget shortfall, while also addressing the rising prison population. Murray recently suggested other approaches to saving money, including quicker scheduling of suspects' court appearances. Constantine said he would delay the plan until June 1, but if the county doesn’t find a way to secure more revenue from the state legislature, the book-and-release program should still be an option. — C.O.

New trial for getaway driver

at 1:49pm by Cody Olsen

Thursday morning the Washington State Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Darcus Allen, the man convicted in 2009 of driving Maurice Clemmons to and from the coffee shop where he murdered four police officers.The News Tribune noted the court’s unanimous ruling that a Pierce County deputy prosecutor engaged in “prejudicial misconduct” during Allen’s trial when he repeatedly told jurors in closing statements Allen “should have known” his friend Clemmons planned to kill the police officers. The point of contention is that the law can’t convict Allen for what he should have known, but rather, what he did know. During the trial Allen denied knowing Clemmons’ intentions. Pierce Prosecutor Mark Lindquist disagrees with the court ruling and promises to retry Allen: “The deputy prosecutor should have phrased his argument more artfully so it was not open to misinterpretation, but it was the evidence that convicted Allen.” — C.O.

Starbucks headquarters: Becoming less venti

at 1:49pm by Joe Copeland

Starbucks will lay off what a spokesperson calls a "relatively small number" of employees from its Seattle headquarters, according to GeekWire. The company official said that, at the store level, there will be no layoffs and, in fact, thousands of hires this year.  Some of the layoffs may stem from changes in corporate direction made as part of a growth strategy unveiled at the end of the year: The Puget Sound Business Journal was told that it was told the layoffs involve positions that "are redundant or not in line with our growth strategy." The Journal also said the layoffs will include at least one vice president. — J.C. 

Wednesday 14 Jan, 2015

Much more car sharing. Worst on tax inequality. Green Bay, you're so petty!

Available: trash-talking dogwalker

at 2:16pm by David Kroman

Have a dog or two? Interested in hiring a dogwalker because you’re “at the office 23 hours a day in a coke-fueled effort to squeeze every last penny out of your 20's and 30's?” One who is an Ivy League grad (at least according to his Craigslist ad)? If yes, then we have just the guy for you…- D.K.

Not everyone loves a bus-riding dog 

at 2:16pm by Cody Olsen

Eclipse, the Black Lab that rides Metro's D bus by herself to the dog park has made just about everyone in Seattle fall in love with her canine antics. Everyone except KIRO’s Dori Monson, who seems to have a bone to pick with the adorable lab.“I know everyone is portraying this as a feel-good story, but this is just another Seattle freeloader who's learned how to milk the system, how to get the taxpayers to cover everything, and I'm sick and tired of these labs thinking they can just suckle off the public teat,” says Dori in an article by My Northwest that seems pretty tongue-in-cheek — although the article goes on to list all the rules the dog is breaking with her bus-trips. Dori sees over seven violations, and if anyone was clamoring for those violations to be broken down into Leash Law and Metro sections, fret not, Dori has you covered. So, if Eclipse gets busted to the dog pound, will Monson's listeners band together to spring her? — C.O.

The Kingfish Café closing, could it relocate to Pioneer Square?

at 2:16pm by Cambria Roth

Seattle residents will have to find their soul food elsewhere as of Jan. 25 when influential restaurant Kingfish Café closes its doors. The restaurant became a big hit after it opened in April 1997 and has continued to grow throughout the past 20 years on Capitol Hill. Co-owner Leslie Coaston told The Seattle Times that she and her sister hope to open another soul food restaurant soon and keep the Kingfish name. While she wouldn’t elaborate on their new project, she did say it would bear some resemblance to the old Kingfish, but they would be doing something different. She declined to say what neighborhood she and her sister are looking at, but The Times notes that in a September 2013 interview with Nancy Leson, the sisters hinted at an interest in Pioneer Square. “I’d love to get another location down there…I’d do something that kept the integrity of the old part of Seattle, an older space, and breathe a little contemporary [into it]. Not someplace so sterile you’d want to get out as soon as you sat down.” — C.R.

Wisconsin radio station banning Seattle bands before NFC championship game

at 2:16pm by Cambria Roth

Mayors are betting and radio stations are banning music, this can only mean one thing — the NFC Championship game is upon us. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Green Bay Mayor Jim Schmitt have agreed to a friendly beer and cheese wager. Milwaukee radio station 94.5 The Lake’s response to the Seahawks vs. Packers game isn’t as pleasant. They have spearheaded a “Say No to Seattle” campaign. The Lake is banning all music from Seattle beginning today until the game on Sunday.“Let’s face it. The last couple Green Bay Packers games in Seattle haven’t been the best for cheesehead fans,” a post announcing the ban reads. “Green Bay lost in Seattle in Week 1 of this season, and in the 2012 ‘Fail Mary’ game where the incorrect result cost the green and gold a first-round bye. To help change the karma and give the Packers all the support they need … the station’s listeners will hear no Heart, no Nirvana, no Pearl Jam, no songs from any band that calls Seattle home.”KOMO News asked 94.5 morning show co-host Danny Clayton what groups would be banned if Seattle radio stations retaliated, but he could only come up with two — the Violent Femmes and the BoDeans. Not to mention all those beloved groups playing real Wisconsin "music" — polka? — C.R.

Washington taxes: We're No. 1 (in abusing the poor) 

at 2:16pm by Cody Olsen

The Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy released a new study today showing that Washington State’s tax system weighs heaviest on the poor. The non-profit Washington State Budget & Policy Center broke down the ITEP's report, saying, “Washington state has, by far, the U.S.’s most regressive state tax system, taxing the poorest residents at 16.8 percent while taxing the top 1 percent at only 2.4 percent.” The report goes on to explain this is in part because Washington state relies primarily on sales tax for revenue instead of a personal income tax, though that method is shared by other states.  The ITEP concludes that if these problems that exacerbate inequalities are not dealt with soon, states will find it difficult to raise needed revenue. Washington may have already gotten there. — C.O.

2,500 more chances to feel like you're committing GTA?

at 2:16pm by David Kroman

When Car2go came to Seattle, it did so by storm. Practically overnight, the streets crawled with the bug-like cars. Suddenly we could tell how crazy Saturday night on Capitol Hill was by how many cars were left over Sunday morning.In early 2013, 350 Car2go vehicles were allowed in the city, expanded to 500 several months later. The program, unlike, say, ZipCar, is based on free-floating cars, meaning they can be parked most places on city streets rather than in specified parking spots. Car2go has been immensely successful, with 60,000 members and nearly 3,000 daily trips. According to the Seattle Department of Transportation, 3 to 4 percent of users gave up their personal vehicles in favor of a Car2go membership. The company says Seattle has the largest base membership of any U.S. city.Now, the city council transportation committee has introduced legislation to expand car-sharing. The legislation would allow for more companies – such as BMW’s Drivenow service or Zipcar’s new one-way service – and therefore more cars. It would also increase the cost of certain permits required of these services. And it would give extra permits to programs serving the whole city (Car2go doesn't go south of S. Orcas Street in Southeast Seattle.)While the measure still needs approval from the larger council, the 3-0 vote in the committee signals a positive response to car-share expansion. If the measure is enacted, Seattle could see upwards of 3,000 new cars on the streets by the end of 2015. — D.K.

Tuesday 13 Jan, 2015

SpaceX has out-of-this-world plans for Seattle. Amazon hooks up with Woody Allen. Honor for Pam Roach.

Punishing Center School teacher

at 2:34pm by Cody Olsen

Teachers and students at Seattle’s Center School are again rallying behind Jon Greenberg, who has been on the receiving end of punitive measures from the Seattle Public Schools. Back in 2013 Greenberg’s Citizenship and Social Justice class raised the ire of at least one parent whose complaint led the district to axe the teacher’s class and transfer him to another school. This sparked cries from high school students that the board was censoring a curriculum about race that was pertinent to current social issues. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com writes that Greenberg and the teachers union successfully appealed the transfer but the district was still allowed to suspend him for two weeks. Writing to Superintendent Larry Nyland, the Center School faculty said, “Continuing to pursue this punishment makes the district come off as needlessly punitive.” Connelly notes the district has consistently refused to comment on the Greenberg issus. He suggests the district bureaucracy is bent on pursuing punishment. — C.O.

U Bookstore lights 115 candles

at 2:34pm by Cody Olsen

The University Bookstore turned 115 this past Saturday, making it the oldest independent bookstore in the state. The store’s legacy dates back to Jan. 10 1900 when it first began in a cloakroom neighboring the president’s office in Denny Hall, according to seattlepi.com. The store has moved its main location a few times, finally settling in the off-campus location on University Way it still has to this day. It other store locations include the Bellevue, Bothell, Tacoma, Mill Creek and Renton. — C.O.

Playing games in state Senate

at 2:34pm by John Stang

Democrats managed to take the Senate president pro tempore seat away from Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, and give it to Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, on Monday. Roach and Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, joined the 23 minority Democrat to put Roach in that post by a one-vote margin. The position has no behind-the-scenes power. But it has a presiding and refereeing role during the Senate's floor debates when the lieutenant governor is absent.Democrats, known to want to punish those who stray from party positions, have a thing about Sheldon. He is a maverick Democrat who caucuses with the majority Republicans, and was a key player in the Democrats' loss of Senate control for the past two sessions despite outnumbering the Republicans at the time. Meanwhile, Roach and Benton, while both very conservative, have tense personal relationships with several fellow Republicans. Of significance for the rest of the legislative session: The Benton-Roach mini bloc is just big enough to make both sides pay attention to it. — J.S.

Amazon inks Woody Allen

at 2:34pm by Cody Olsen

Fresh off wins at the Golden Globes, Amazon officials announced a new TV show created by prolific filmmaker Woody Allen to add to their list of original content. The New York Times reports Allen will write and direct every episode of the full season for his still-untitled new show. On most broadcast networks a full season is at least 22 episodes, though Amazon could be looking at fewer shows. Writing and directing that many episodes of a show is a massive undertaking, something occasionally done by writers like Aaron Sorkin, but even then directorial duties lie elsewhere. “I don’t know how I got into this, I have no ideas and I’m not sure where to begin.” Allen said, in keeping with his, uhh, offbeat public persona. — C.O.

SpaceX hiring for Seattle

at 2:34pm by Cody Olsen

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk plans a new focus on engineering better satellite technology, including at a new Seattle office, according to a Bloomberg News report. The Seattle office will work on developing and launching satellites. Eventual employment: “Several hundred people, maybe a thousand people,” according to Musk, who is also known for the Tesla electric cars. The satellites are key to achieving his idea of colonizing Mars. GeekWire, which first reported on the SpaceX's Seattle area office plans last fall, says today that the exact location is still unknown but a document filed with the state has an address in Bellevue. — C.O.

Monday 12 Jan, 2015

'Catastrophic' talk around Bertha. Missouri has plan to grow Boeing jobs. Space age production here?

New Director for the Fish and Wildlife 

at 1:58pm by Cody Olsen

Jim Unsworth, former deputy director of the Idaho Fish and Game department, will take over as the Washington Fish and Wildlife Works director. Unsworth replaces Phil Anderson, who resigned in August 2014.. The Bellingham Herald reports that the decision came Saturday, after the nine-member state and wildlife commission voted to select Unsworth from a group of four finalists to lead the agency with 1,600 employees and a two-year operating budget of $376 million. — C.O.

Amazon’s 'Transparent' gets two Golden Globes 

at 1:58pm by Cambria Roth

Amazon had a big night at the Golden Globe Awards, winning two awards for "Transparent." The new dramatic comedy, produced by Amazon Studios, won a Golden Globe award for Best Comedic Television Series and lead actor Jeffrey Tambor won Best Actor in a Comedy Series. Jeff Bezos even got a shoutout on stage from director Jill Soloway. Geekwire reports that while this is a milestone for the company’s video production arm’s quest to produce original video content, it is a far cry from the blockbuster status of rival Netflix’s "House of Cards" and "Orange is the New Black." — C.R.

Raucous police complaints at council

at 1:58pm by David Kroman

Update 5:32 p.m. The public comment line of Monday’s council briefing extended down the aisle and nearly out the door of City Hall’s council chambers. Person after person voiced concerns directly to the city council and Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole regarding the police response to recent Ferguson protests. Audience members clapped, whooped and and cheered.Demonstrator grievances included the Seattle Police Department's alleged use of pepper spray, “intimidating riot gear,” blocking of sidewalks and what speakers claimed to be a general overuse of force.After the public comments, audience members disrupted a briefing by representatives of the ports of Seattle and Tacoma on their planned seaports alliance. Attendees of the briefing overwhelmed the council and presenters with shouts of “black lives matter,” “I can’t breathe” and songs of “which side are you on?” As shouts grew louder, representatives from the ports left early, despite pleas from Councilmember Bruce Harrell for the audience to maintain order.In a briefing, O’Toole, Deputy Chief Carmen Best and Assistant Chief Nick Metz responded to questions. O'Toole said that while some cities recorded hundreds of arrests a day, Seattle remained mostly orderly while police achieved their goal of upholding First Amendment rights to protest.Update 8:50 PM After today's meeting, Council President Tim Burgess issued an apology to Police Chief Kathleen O'Toole for the noise caused by the protestors:

I’m sorry this morning’s meeting got out of hand. We are used to public testimony that is sometimes loud, direct and even offensive, but we are not used to continued disruptions of our meetings by people shouting insults and disrupting the dialog Councilmembers are having with witnesses.  I regret that I wasn’t better prepared to control all that. My apologies.— D.K.

Seattle entrepreneur: A step beyond 3D printers?

at 1:58pm by Cambria Roth

Seattle tech entrepreneur Dan Shapiro is back at it with a new company called Glowforge. This time — instead of teaching preschoolers to code like in his board game Robot Turtles — his mission is to “make it easier to make things.” Geekwire reported on his new venture back in November, but today he officially announced the beginning of Glowforge. He wrote on his website:“ We’re making a real, tangible thing — a piece of hardware — powered by a giant stack of software…it’s not an incremental thing; it’s approaching science fiction. It’s actually a product that makes it simple for people to create real, beautiful products.”  The Seattle startup veteran has assembled quite the team: Co-founders Tony Wright (founder of RescueTime, Jobby and CubeDuel) and Mark Gosselin (founder and former CTO of Cequint); Kira Franz (who ran operations for Chef); Dean Putney (Developer of boingboing.net); and Tim Ellis who created electrical systems behind the Genie lift. Shapiro says Glowforge is a mixture between today’s slow, expensive and plasticky 3D prints and Replicators from Star Trek — but not for food (Nestlé is working on that). — C.R.

Missouri trying to guarantee Boeing jobs stay 

at 1:58pm by Cody Olsen

Missouri is offering Boeing incentives if the aerospace giant increases employment in the St. Louis area where they currently operate. An Associated Press story in The Seattle Times reports that the company would receive up to $229 million over 18 years if they increase their current workforce by 2,000 employees. However, they would still receive some incentives by maintaining their 14,500 employees, and only if employment is reduced below 12,500 workers would they no longer receive anything any of the incentives. Put another way, Boeing can lose over 2,000 employees and still be subsidised by the state of Missouri.The incentives also depend in part on a capital investment by Boeing within three years. AP quoted Missouri development consultant Richard Ward, as saying it’s “pretty unique.” Anyone else guessing that some state leaders in Olympia are busy trying to figure out what this means for jobs here and whether Missouri has built a better mice trap? — C.O.

Seattle Officials and Washington State at odds over Bertha

at 1:58pm by Cambria Roth

Seattle city officials are standing up to the Washington State Department of Transportation over the Bertha mess. The Stranger reported this morning that Seattle’s own Department of Transportation and Seattle Public Utilities sent a letter last week to the state asking for an explanation on why Bertha’s rescue pit engineers had warned about “risk of catastrophic failure” as early as Dec. 11. The engineers, a firm called Brierley Associates, quietly issued a draft report telling contractors to halt digging, referencing catastrophic failure. However, when Seattle Tunnel Partners, the Washington State Department of Transportation’s contractor, posted the report to a document-sharing site, the language had clearly changed. Anything about catastrophic failure was deleted and in its place: “we believe that the untreated soil zones (…) will have a significant impact on the structural, geotechnical and hydraulic adequacy of the shaft structure.” Seattle officials ask other questions like: what kind of catastrophic failure did the engineers mean? Did the language change to cover up the facts?” WSDOT officials were meeting today with the  City Council, which was already unhappy with communication from the state; Crosscut’s David Kroman will have a full report. — C.R. 

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