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Tuesday 3 Feb, 2015

UW president heads to Texas A&M. Playing those Seattle, Eastside traffic blues. Ready to move on?

UW president on the move

at 2:57pm by Joe Copeland

Updated at 6:50 p.m. University of Washington President Michael Young said this afternoon that he is leaving to become president of Texas A&M, which boasts of being the sixth largest public university in America. 

Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com notes that Young has been at the U, which has so far declined to comment, for less than four years. And he will take over duties in the spring, forcing the UW to name an interim leader. In a statement posted on the university's web site,  the UW Regents chair Bill Ayers said, "The news about UW President Michael Young and Texas A&M University has come as a surprise to the Board of Regents."

In his statement, posted with generous remarks about him from Ayers, Young said, "“Deciding to be a candidate for the presidency of Texas A&M University was one of the hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make. I was not looking to leave the University of Washington, but the allure of the recruitment process led to conversations in which the opportunity to bring new leadership and fresh ideas to another outstanding university presented itself with some force." The part about fresh ideas could leave many others at the UW wondering why they hadn't heard more of those during his low-key tenure here.

For the record, the UW may be slightly smaller in enrollment, but it's 26th best in the world on The Times of London's ranking of universities. Texas A&M clocks in at 141st — right behind the Colorado School of Mines. — J.C.

Travel Blues

at 2:57pm by Cody Olsen

Being frustrated with sitting in traffic is quickly becoming synonymous with Seattle life, so The Stranger’s Eli Sanders decided to give us a quick breakdown of why our travel blues exist. His summary is basically: Seattle is a particularly narrow piece of land, an isthmus located between Lake Washington and the Sound. Sanders notes we are “the fastest-growing large city in America.” Obviously more infrastructure and travel room is needed, but the transportation spending has — at least until recently — focused on freeway projects, rather than increasing our public transit rapidly enough — a bit easier and cheaper in a city so narrow as Seattle.Sanders condemns our Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement spending, saying the budget could have been much more effective in augmenting our public transportation system. — C.O.

Express Lane Tolls

at 2:57pm by Cody Olsen

Tolling the express lanes between Lynnwood and Bellevue starts later this year, and we now have an idea of the pricing. The Seattle Times reports that typical express lane tolls will probably be between 75 cents and $4, but that peak tolls could be as much as $10. The express lane will also be open to cars with at least three occupants free of charge, but the paper notes they must have a good to go account and Flex Pass. Public comments about the toll proposal can be given this evening a Transportation Commission meeting at Bellevue City Hall and at two upcoming Kirkland meetings (as well as online) — details here. — C.O.

Seahawks return: kinda cheery

at 2:57pm by Cody Olsen

On Monday, as Seattle was collectively licking its wounds, the Seahawks returned from Arizona and were greeted at their training center in Kirkland by fans. MyNorthwest.com notes that there’s even a petition going around to still hold a Seahawks rally congratulating the team for making a two back-to-back Super Bowl appearances. It seems that despite an ending that left a horrible taste in our mouths, at least some Seahawks fans remember this team just had two great seasons. No reason the team can’t keep the momentum going, either.  — C.O.

Monday 2 Feb, 2015

Get your pot from a vending machine. Middle income: The endangered class. Super Bowl aftermath.

Marijuana vending machine coming to Seattle

at 3:46pm by Cambria Roth

Forget chips and candy — Seattle is getting its first marijuana vending machine. The vending machine is set to make its debut on Tuesday inside Seattle Caregivers, a medical marijuana dispensary on South Jackson Street. MyNorthwest.com reports American Green is the company behind the machine, and they say it will verify a user’s age and identity using an ID scanner. Pot vending machines in Colorado have been selling edible THC-infused products since last year. The Seattle vending machine will have medicinal and recreational marijuana flowers, edibles, and pot-related merchandise. You won’t be able to use a credit or debit card, though — only cash or bitcoin is accepted considering pot isn’t legal at a federal level yet. — C.R.

Middle class? What middle class?

at 3:46pm by Alyssa Campbell

While word is out on Seattle’s economic boom around the country, not everyone will be prospering. As KUOW reports, since 2000, fewer than 5 percent of new households in King County are middle income. In fact, the largest demographic expansion is occurring amongst economically disadvantaged households earning less than $25,000 a year — offering a contrasting narrative to Seattle’s yuppification.As has been the case in cities throughout the country, King County’s union culture has weakened in recent years. The Machinists, Boeing’s employee union, struggled to maintain solidarity in response to the company’s threat to remove 20,000 jobs if employees refused to give up their pension.The transition from permanent to temporary and contracted work further threatens the security of the middle class. Large local companies, such as Microsoft, have announced plans to cut a large proportion of contracted workers as they fight to remain competitive on a global scale. — A.C.

Council: Taking attendance

at 3:46pm by Cody Olsen

How do we measure the success of Seattle’s city council members? Since one of their primary responsibility is attending meetings, looking at their attendance record might be a good place to start. The Seattle Times breaks down the attendance of our nine members, showing the percent each one showed up at a meeting they were expected to attend. Three council members broke 90 percent, with four more in the 80s. Helping everyone else to look good: Kshama Sawant at 75 percent and Tom Rasmussen, who’s not seeking re-election, at 69 percent. Maybe there’s a lesson for council watchers of the future: If a member attends less than 70 percent of the time, is he or she getting ready to step down? — C.O.

Locker room conspiracy theories fly after last night's loss

at 3:46pm by David Kroman

There are 30 NFL teams that would love to have been where the Seahawks were last night. And yet something tells me the Hawks and their fans feel worse today than all 30 combined.  I heard once that bronze Olympic medalists live happier lives than silver medalists because while the third place finishers compare themselves to everyone they beat, the silvers only think of the gold they didn’t get. Likewise, for this offseason — and maybe for years — the Hawks will not think of those 30 teams who watched Super Bowl 49 from their couch. They’ll only think of the yard Marshawn Lynch didn’t have the chance to gain.Like a rash that never went away, the locker room divisions everyone talked about when the Hawks were 3-3 came flaring up today. A writer for The Nation, who said he was working from some tweets and text messages from sources inside the locker room and among sports writers, some players are see something of a conspiracy. With contract negotiations for Russell Wilson and Lynch around the corner, s “the call” for Wilson to throw on 2nd and 1 could have been an attempt to establish him, not Lynch, as the face of the franchise. If that pass is completed, Seahawks win and Wilson wins Super Bowl MVP. Whether there’s truth to the idea or not is almost irrelevant: If the conversation is coming from players, it raises questions about what the team will look like moving forward. — D.K.

Defensive coordinator gone 

at 3:46pm by David Kroman

Speaking of personnel moving forward, one person the Seahawks will definitely be without is current defense coordinator, Dan Quinn. The Atlanta Falcons made their formal announcement of his hiring as head coach there today, calling it "an exciting day for the Atlanta Falcons franchise and fans," according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Reports that Quinn would leave to take the head-coaching job with the Atlanta Falcons had circulated for a few weeks. Quinn landed the job on the success of his Seahawks’ defense, which could go down as one of the best all time. The Falcons, on the other hand, allowed the most total yards in the league this season. It will be interesting to see how Quinn’s defense translates, as it is among the simplest in the league, relying mostly on the athleticism of the players on the field. Will it work in Atlanta? The Atlanta paper included a brief video of Richard Sherman praising Quinn as smarter and willing to listen to his players. — D.K. 

Fans react

at 3:46pm by David Kroman

Here’s a video of reactions to last night’s game. Beware: this may induce PTSD (and you may not want the sound up in some circumstances considering some of the expletives from fans for both sides).

Friday 30 Jan, 2015

Breakup for Seattle Public Schools? Lawmakers look at fantasy sports. Did someone say 'Super Bowl'?

Breaking up the school district?

at 3:10pm by Joe Copeland

A bill from two south Seattle legislators would split Seattle Public Schools into two districts. Democratic Reps. Sharon Tomiko Santos and Eric Pettigrew are the prime sponsors, and Santos is chair of the House Education Committee. The committee's vice chair, Rep. Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, and Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-Issaquah, have also signed on. Santos tells Crosscut's John Stang that the district is simply too large to govern. John Stang has a full story here. — J.C.

Fantasy: Gambling?

at 3:10pm by John Stang

Fantasy football and other fantasy sports might take skill. But are they still gambling? A Senate Labor & Commerce Committee appeared stumped Friday on the gambling question.What is happening is that Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn has a bill to declare fantasy sports, such as fantasy football, a game that requires skill instead of chance. The distinction is that chance is 100 percent gambling, while putting money on a skill-oriented game is …well. … uh … hhhmmm. The committee raised that question, with no one really knowing the answer. In fantasy sports, participants draft real-life pro players, and tabulate their statistics game-by-game or over a full season to determine a winning “team.”Fantasy sports with money stakes is legally allowed in 45 states, which have generally decided it’s not gambling but a contest of skill based on knowing enough to pick players well. The federal government leaves the issue up to to the individual states. Technically, Washington is one of the remaining five.    Labor committee member  Sen. Steve Conway, D-Tacoma, said the definition is critical because a gambling legalization bill would require a two-thirds majority of Washington’s House and Senate to pass. Committee chairman Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, said: “This committee may return to this issue when we learn more.” — J.S.

Marshawn Lynch speaks...and he's funny!

at 3:10pm by David Kroman

One of the biggest story lines of Super Bowl 49 has been Marshawn Lynch’s defiance of the media. It’s turned into something of a game: Who can get Marshawn Lynch to say something, anything at all.It turns out, the answer is comedian Conan O’Brien. Marshawn and Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski went on Conan’s show to play the forthcoming video game ‘Mortal Combat X.’ The results are, well, hilarious. Be warned though: there is some disturbing video game violence involved. — D.K.

Inslee gets loud

at 3:10pm by John Stang

Did you hear it? Today, Gov. Jay Inslee decreed that there would be a “moment of loudness” at noon. We didn’t catch any whiff of it in Pioneer Square, but our Olympia correspondent John Stang was right in the middle of the noise in the state’s capital. Below, Tyler Hawkins, 5, and his mom Shawna shout as loud as they can, along with 350 other people, at noon Friday on the Capitol steps in Olympia in support the Seahawks. His brother Luke, 7 and dad, Rep. Brad Hawkins, R-East Wenatchee, were also part of the crowd. Statewide shoutouts for the Seahawks are also scheduled on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo by John Stang) —  D.K.

Your chance to cheer for charity

at 3:10pm by Cambria Roth

Do you think you have a good guess for the final score of Sunday’s Seattle Seahawks vs. New England Patriots Super Bowl game? Do you have a prediction of Marshawn Lynch’s carries in the game? If you guess both correctly, you could win the chance to choose any qualified King County nonprofit organization a donation of $4,900 from The Seattle Foundation. Head to The Seattle Foundation’s Facebook page, enter your guess in the comment section. You have until Sunday’s kickoff to enter. Happy guessing! — C.R.

Sit down, watch the game, with a 12th something?

at 3:10pm by Joe Copeland

Not to doubt the Seattle area enthusiasm for the Seahawks, but there’s no denying that businesses are taking advantage of the Seahawks’ success to better market their products. Hilliards beer has a “12th Can” beer, Dick’s beer has a “12th Man Pale Ale,” we’ve seen 12th man wine, vodka, donuts and basically anything else with room for a label.

Starbucks is the latest brand to jump on the 12th-wagon. “In support” of their hometown Hawks, Starbuck has released a Seahawks Frappuccino. The drink is a “vanilla bean crème beverage blended with blueberries and topped with green tea matcha-infused whip cream,” said a statement from the company. Nothing says loud and proud like “crème” and “matcha—infused whip cream.” — D.K.

Tickets limited to the 1%

at 3:10pm by Joe Copeland

How much are you willing to spend to see the Super Bowl in person? $200? $400? How about $8,548? The last number was the cheapest of some 225 tickets that one seat broker said could be bought as of Friday morning for Super Bowl 49. According to the Puget Sound Business Journal, Connor Gregoire of SeatGeek.com says the ticket prices have something to do with brokers selling tickets too quickly, too early, so the limited tickets are driving up prices. Whatever the reason, if you don’t have your ticket now, maybe consider throwing a party instead. For $8,548, you could afford to have Canlis cater it. (And as of mid-afternoon, you were looking at more like $10,700 on SeatGeek.) — D.K.

Thursday 29 Jan, 2015

Amazon earnings soar. Neighborhood tone to City Council races. Homeless keep out?

Amazon's amazin' earnings

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Amazon reported its fourth quarter earnings — and they were socko. Several major news outlets said the Amazon profits for the quarter "crushed" analysts' modest estimates. It must be sweet vindication for everyone behind Amazon's aggressive investment-and-growth strategy, which some Wall Street investors had griped about. As Slate put it, "All of a sudden, those investments appear to be paying off."  — J.C. 

City Council races growing

at 4:28pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle's new district election system is supposed to give neighborhoods more representation on the City Council, since seven of the nine members will be elected by their districts. Now, a neighborhood leader is thrown himself into one of the two remaining citywide at-large positions. Bill Bradburd, chair of the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition, today said he is running for Position 9, one of those two spots. Bradburd, who helped lead the districts campaign, said he will work to keep the city "affordable for workers, middle- and low-income families, and renters."Other candidates for Position 9 are current Councilmember Sally Clark, Madison Park Bakery owner Terry Hofman and David Ishii, who has described himself as an artist and poet. So far, multiple candidates have filed in every race except the north end's District 6 (Councilmember Mike O'Brien announced this week) and Downtown to Magnolia's District 7 (Councilmember Sally Bagshaw is running). — J.C.

Keeping the homeless out of Redmond?

at 4:28pm by Cody Olsen

Of the many problems facing the homeless population of Seattle, expensive temporary-use permits can now be added to the list. The Seattle Times reports that Camp Unity a tent city in Kirkland is looking for a new home. But when members of a church in nearby Redmond offered up their location, Redmond city officials informed them there would be a $2,600 temporary use permit. Kirkland charges $226 for the permit and Seattle waives the fee for religious groups. City officials tell The Times’ Lynn Thompson that they are trying their best to respect a religious institution’s constitutional right to help the poor while maintaining the safety of the neighboring residents. — C.O.

Can you hear us, AZ?

at 4:28pm by John Stang

If all Washingtonians yell at once, can they be heard in Phoenix? Inspired by the book “Horton Hears A Who,” Gov. Jay Inslee wants to test that theory as he proclaimed noon Friday, noon Saturday and noon Sunday as statewide  “Moments Of Loudness.””I urge all 12s to build support for the big game by getting LOUD, LOUDER and LOUDEST for 30 seconds each day in preparation to be the best and loudest fans at the Super Bowl” he declared in the formal proclamation issued today. — J.S.

Our art is better than Boston's (sure)

at 4:28pm by Cody Olsen

For any art and culture fanatics feeling a little left out of the Seahawks mania, you now have a stake in Superbowl XLIX. The Seattle Art Museum and New England’s Clark Art Institute each have a valuable painting ready to be loaned out should their city’s team lose. Seattle’s piece is the 145-year-old “Puget Sound on the Pacific Coast” by Albert Bierstadt, a beautiful tableau of a coast probably familiar to most our readers. While New England’s piece is Winslow Homer’s “West Point, Prout’s Neck,” a 115-year-old rendering of the rocky coast of Maine.While both museums have been playfully confident in their home team’s guaranteed victory, only one can win, the other will loan out their work to the other for a humiliating three months, paying for their piece’s travel expense too. So Seattle art fans, get your 12th man on. — C.O.

Getting our email newsletters?

at 4:28pm by Cody Olsen

Have you signed up for Crosscut’s newsletter but still aren’t getting it? We’ve heard of a number of people having this problem. It sounds like our Crosscut Daily and Troll newsletters are for some reason getting lost in some people’s spam folders. But fret not, there’s an easy fix. 1. Add the following emails to your address book in gmail: daily.newsletter@crosscut.com membership@crosscut.com 2. Check your spam filter to see if any of the above emails have been blocked Simple as that. If you haven’t yet signed up for the Crosscut Newsletter, you can click here. — Crosscut

Wednesday 28 Jan, 2015

Did the Seattle schools get their building? Police pepper spray video emerges. Bill Gates takes all questions.

Online school auction

at 4:12pm by Joe Copeland

Things got hot during the online bidding this morning for the old Federal Reserve Bank building in Downtown Seattle, where Seattle Public Schools is interested in putting a school. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that the bids leaped from $6 million around 9:30 a.m. to $6.8 million at 10 a.m., when a flurry of four bids were submitted just as the scheduled close of bidding arrived. The Journal's Marc Stiles says there will be no announcement of a winner until at least 10 a.m. Thursday, and it's possible that the bidding will be extended if more offers come in. Naturally, the school district has been mum about how exactly high it is prepared to go. A Seattle Times editorial on Monday, favoring a new downtown school, expressed hope there would be no competition for the district in the bidding. Alas. — J.C. 

Teacher pepper sprayed

at 4:12pm by Joe Copeland

Update 4:26 p.m. Garfield High School teacher Jesse Hagopian is reportedly filing a claim against the Seattle Police Department over being pepper sprayed shortly after delivering a speech at a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in downtown Seattle. His attorney sent out a press release announcing the claim and posted a YouTube video of the incident, according to David "Goldy" Goldstein on horseass.org. (Goldy also had a report on the incident last week.) The Stranger reports that the Seattle Police Department has so far declined comment. The video is short. The press release says Hagopian, the man on the cell phone who looks to be just casually walking by the police line, was chatting with his mother about plans for a family birthday party. — J.C.

Ask Bill Anything!

at 4:12pm by Cody Olsen

Bill Gates did an AMA on reddit today (his third), fielding the usual wide range of questions the internet forum spawns. Here are a few of his noteworthy answers.Q: In your opinion, has technology made the masses less intelligent?Technology is not making people less intelligent…Technology is letting people get their questions answered better so they stay more curious. It makes it easier to know a lot of topics which turns out to be pretty important to contribute to solving complex problems.Q: What do you think has improved life the most in poor countries in the last 5 years?Vaccines make the top of the list. Being able to grow up healthy is the most basic thing. So many kids get infectious diseases and don’t develop mentally and physically.Q. What innovation has been brought to you but sadly never worked out for whatever reason?So far we have not being able to use technology to connect people to the needs of the poorest in countries that are far away to tap into their empathy.For those dying to know more about his eating habits, he says he prefers BBQ sauce over dry rub. — C.O.

Did he ask Bill?

at 4:12pm by David Kroman

Here’s a quick association test. When I say “artificial intelligence,” you say … Terminator? World domination? Malevolent overlords? Thanks to Stanley Kubrick, James Cameron and countless others, A.I. has officially become our collective worst nightmare. But fear not, human beings! According to the BBC, Microsoft Research’s chief Eric Horvitz “has said he think artificial intelligence systems could achieve consciousness, but has played down the threat to human life.” (Personally, I’d have preferred outright denial to playing down.) Mr. Horvitz and his team of more than 1,000 are the architects of Microsoft’s Cortana — their answer to Apple’s Siri. According to Horvitz, Cortana will spur development in the A.I. field. But when it comes to world domination, he said, “I fundamentally don’t think that is going to happen.” (The A.I. story is the fifth most popular on the international site at the moment; for more of Horvitz’s thinking, see this Microsoft Research blog post that BBC used for its report.)Unfortunately, the sunny outlook is not the view shared by Stephen Hawking, who warns that conscious machines would begin to shape their own future. Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla called A.I. an “existential threat” to humankind. The Spectrum computer’s inventor, Sir Clive Sinclair, said he believes once A.I. is achieved it is unavoidable that it will wipe out mankind. And then there’s someone who did a few things for Microsoft, Bill Gates. As Forbes noted, in today’s reddit Ask Me Anything session, Gates said, “I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don’t understand why some people are not concerned.” Will one of Mr. Horvitz’s bosses be trying to explain to the co-founder? — D.K.

KEXP on the grow

at 4:12pm by Cody Olsen

KEXP broke ground on its new location in Seattle Center. The expanded facility, dubbed the New Home, will officially begin construction on Feb. 15. The move is funded, like the rest of KEXP, in part by donations from listeners, grants and contributions from KEXP staff themselves. Additional funds coming from musicians like Pearl Jam, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and Dave Matthews band. So far their capital campaign has raised $8.1 million of a $15 million goal.

KEXP’s new home will include over 400 annual in-studio performances, planned daily tours of the studios and a DJ booth that can be seen from a public gathering space. Crosscut’s Jake Uitti has a full report here. — C.O.

Homeless youth event

at 4:12pm by kate harloe

Every now and then, Crosscut likes to gather all you readers, thinkers and civic leaders together in the same (gasp) physical space. Why? To have a real-time, in-person conversation about the topics that we cover. This Thursday, we’ll be convening a panel of experts to discuss homeless youth.Crosscut’s Editor-in-Chief, Mary Bruno, will moderate the expert panelists, and together they’ll tackle this question: Why are certain groups of young people — like LGBT and African American youth — far more likely to to experience homelessness?Panelists include Shannon Perez-Darby, Youth Services Program Director at the Northwest Network; Eleta Wright, PRO Youth Case Manager at Auburn Youth Resources; Sara Rankin, Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills at Seattle University; and Megan Gibbard, Homeless Youth and Young Adult Project Manager on the Committee to End Homelessness in King County.We’ll see you there. To register or learn more, go here. To read Crosscut’s coverage of homelessness and related issues, go here. — K.H.

Tuesday 27 Jan, 2015

Bertha gets a reprieve. That's your answer, Boss. Microsoft's lousy stock day.

Bertha rescued (for now)

at 3:44pm by Joe Copeland

Sen. Curtis King, R-Yakima, has stepped in promptly to kill any idea of enacting a law to shut down the waterfront tunnel. In a statement today, he said, "While it is important to maintain control over the costs, we are not at a point where burying Bertha and walking away pencils out. Plus, can you imagine the environmental implications that would have?" Since King is the chair of the Senate Transportation Committee (besides a very smart thinker on transportation issues), that pretty much settles the dustup created by two of his fellow Republicans. King did say he understood the concerns of Sens. Mike Baumgartner and Doug Ericksen, who introduced a bill to shut down the tunnel work and look at alternatives for Highway 99 along the waterfront.As for the repairs on the stalled tunnel boring machine, King said tunnel workers are within 6 feet of completing the access pit. Crosscut's John Stang will have a full report later. — J.C. 

Any question? One answer

at 3:44pm by Cody Olsen

Facing a $500,000 dollar fine if he didn’t participate in the annual Super Bowl media day, Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch fielded questions from reporters today.“I’m here so I won’t get fined,” said Lynch, giving what might be the most honest answer any sports star has given to reporters in recent memory. ESPN is reporting that the running back repeated that same answer to each and every question for exactly four minutes and 51 seconds when he said “time” and then left the microphone.In the lead-up to the Super Bowl media day sources were reporting that the NFL was prepared to increase the fines levied against Lynch as a coercive measure to ensure his participation in media coverage. His fellow teammates have expressed sympathy for Lynch’s discomfort with press conferences. Whether NFL officials actually thought an in-depth press conference would come out of forcing a man notoriously uncomfortable with publicity in front of cameras is anyone’s guess. — C.O.

Microsoft: Not the greatest numbers day ever

at 3:44pm by Joe Copeland

The price of Microsoft shares dropped this morning — and never really picked up through the rest of Wall Street's trading day. Todd Bishop of GeekWire reported that lower numbers for commercial and consumer licensing of Windows and Office software appeared to have worried investors. The shares were running down a little more than 9 percent during the trading day, although it looks like the prices could be stabilizing in after-hours trading. — J.C. 

Waterfront activity breakthrough

at 3:44pm by Joe Copeland

The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that West Coast port terminal companies and dock workers appear to be getting closer to a deal in their long-stalled labor contract talks. A spokesman for the Pacific Maritime Association told the Journal that a deal has been reached on the repair of equipment used to move freight containers on the waterfront, allthough no more details were released. A mediator has been working with the Longshore Union and the PMA this month. A PMA representative told the Long Beach Press-Telegram that progress in the talks may now speed up. — J.C. 

Alaska offshore drilling curtailed

at 3:44pm by Joe Copeland

President Barack Obama today put out a plan to ban oil and gas drilling in parts of Alaska's Beaufort and Chukchi seas, while opening up much of the East Coast and 10 parts of the Gulf of Mexico. Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com has a smart analysis, noting that while the administration has pursued worthy environmental goals in Alaska, it seems to have fallen into a pattern of acting without much collaboration with Alaska's politicians. And he notes that angering Sen. Lisa Murkowski could backfire, since she has a commitee post overseeing the Interior Department. — J.C.  

Monday 26 Jan, 2015

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Friday 23 Jan, 2015

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

Thursday 22 Jan, 2015

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

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. 

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

Wednesday 21 Jan, 2015

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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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