If you’ve worked for the City of Seattle for more than six months and are planning on having a kid, here’s some good news: You now qualify for four weeks of paid parental leave. The legislation, spearheaded by Councilmember Jean Godden, passed unanimously Monday at a Seattle City Council meeting.
The measure will provide mothers, fathers and foster parents with, as a statement from the city reads, “critical bonding time for employees of the City to have with their children.” In allotting fathers time-off, the statement argues, the measure will also challenge the notion that women should be the primary caretakers of a family’s children.
Only the United States, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea have no national parental leave law. By contrast France allows four months for paid maternity leave; Ireland, six months.
The King County Council is currently considering a 12-week parental leave law that would dwarf Seattle’s. When asked in March if there was some one-upmanship going, Councilmember Godden said no, showing support for King County’s efforts. Four weeks, she said, is only the first step.
Mayor Ed Murray will sign the ordinance Friday.
Marco Rubio jumps into 2016 presidential race
at 3:45pm by Mary Bruno
“Yesterday is over,” the 43-year-old U.S. Senator told a crowd of supporters in his hometown of Miami, “and we’re never going back.”
When celebrating, timing is key
at 3:11pm by Cody Olsen
One athlete from the University of Oregon learned a hard lesson about humility, and the proper time for a victory celebration this past weekend (hint: it’s after the victory has actually been achieved).
Participants from Washington, Kentucky and Oregon were competing at the Pepsi Team Invitational in Eugene, Oregon, and during the last moments of the 3,000 meter steeplechase event, the would-be victor, Tanguy Pepiot, slowed down, waving his arms in a “let’s hear some noise” type gesture. The runner just behind him, Meron Simon from UW, was tearing along, and overtook him at the finish line.
A friend of the UW runner posted the video on YouTube, and it’s as cringe-worthy, and hilarious, as you might expect. Seattlepi.com ran the original story. Nice gesture: After winning, Simon goes over to Pepiot, helps him off the ground and embraces him.
'The Unknown Sea' (the Salish) has its moment in the spotlight
at 3:05pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey
The Salish Sea is the focus of a documentary premiering Tuesday at Everett Community College. Collaborators Joe Gaydos, Audrey Benedict and Kevin Campion all have a deep-seated love for the Salish Sea and its ecosystem. Their film, The Unknown Sea, is intended to “portray the many ways that the sea and its watersheds are part of an interconnected web of life.”
The three also co-authored The Salish Sea: Jewel of the Pacific Northwest. In The Herald, Sharon Wootton describes the contents of the book as “bizarre and beautiful, alien shapes and streamlined bodies, the invisible and obvious.” The free premiere of The Unknown Sea will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the Jackson Center Wilderness Auditorium at Everett Community College.
Republican state Rep. Jesse Young’s plans for creating a bridge between Bremerton and Port Orchard out of two decommissioned aircraft carriers (reported by Crosscut in February) is a step further along. A transportation bill passed last week by the House includes $90,000 for a feasibility study of Young’s project. The Gig Harbor representative told the Northwest News Network that “people from around the world would come to drive across the deck of an aircraft carrier bridge.” A Navy spokesperson suggested there is little likelihood of providing any used carriers for the project, but Young said he’s not discouraged.
1 dead in SR 410 construction accident
at 12:33pm by Cody Olsen
A temporary sidewalk on the 410 overpass near Bonney Lake collapsed onto Angeline Road, crushing a truck and killing its driver. As MyNorthwest reports, firefighters are on the scene.
Basement classroom for Des Moines kindergartners
at 12:14pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey
Washington state law will mandate full-day kindergarten in a few years, but Highline School District is getting a head start. There’s one problem: Voters recently nixed bond proposals that would have provided construction funds, so schools like Des Moines Elementary are resorting to extremes in an effort to fulfill requirements. KOMO News reports that the school has converted a frequently flooded basement storage room into a kindergarten classroom. Other districts around the state are also struggling to meet the 2018 regulations, which include a student-teacher ratio of 17-to-one.
Who's the geekiest of them all? Not Seattle.
at 11:47am by Cody Olsen
Tech companies like Microsoft and Google along with Seattle’s growing startup market has made Seattle a city ripe with geekiness, but just how geeky are we?
GeekWire reported on a list, compiled by predictive marketing firm Mintigo, that puts Seattle No. 8, just below Dallas — and Atlanta (6), Houston (4) and Chicago (2). Go figure. New York takes the top spot.
B.C. worrying about pot use among teens
at 11:45am by Marissa Brent-Tookey
Parents and the public are increasingly nonchalant about marijuana, to the detriment of teens’ developing brains, claims Dr. Siavash Jafari in Vancouver, British Columbia. He says the city’s growing number of medical marijuana dispensaries helps to normalize marijuana usage in the general population and within the home.
Harvard Medical School research recently suggested a link between cannabis consumption at an early age and brain damage. Joy Johnson, of Simon Fraser University, tells The Vancouver Sun that pot naysayers have “lost [their] credibility because young people go home and see their parents smoking it.”
A play inside of a corrections center
at 11:29am by Cody Olsen
Out of all the venues for theater performances — some intimate some grand — the gymnasium of a women’s correction center isn’t usually what one’s mind conjures up. But the Washington Corrections Center for Women is holding performances of an inmate play, Truth Flows Like Water: Transformations in Perdition. The play was written in tandem with Freehold’s Engaged Theater Program, and on April 7 had its world premiere in front of 200 prisoners.
The Stranger was present at a performance the next day, this time for visitors. The paper describes the play as “goggling between the metaphorical town, stories from the prisoners’ lives, fantasies about the future (one woman dreams of reuniting with her dad over dinner at the Space Needle), and snippets of social commentary, like a living newspaper.”
Amazon hires Spike Lee to direct its first feature film
at 11:22am by Marissa Brent-Tookey
Amazon Studios, which until now has only produced television shows (including award-winning Transparent), is branching out. Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Amazon’s first feature film, Chiraq, is in the hands of big-name director Spike Lee. PSBJ’s Emily Parkhurst says the studio’s 12-films-per-year plan will apparently use in-depth data analysis to optimize sales and distribution.
Cuban and U.S. leaders make history
at 10:17am by Cody Olsen
When Barack Obama shook hands with Cuban president Raul Castro on Saturday, he became the first American leader in more than 50 years to meet, face-to-face, with Cuban representatives. The meeting took place in Panama at the Summit of the Americas where the American and Cuban presidents joined other leaders from the Latin American region in two days of diplomatic talks.
Obama and Castro discussed re-opening diplomatic ties between the two countries in the near future. Alluding to the half-century of frosty relations between the two countries, Obama allowed that “… it was time to try something new.” (KUOW has a full report.)
Novelist Guenter Grass dies
at 8:30am by Mary Bruno
The Nobel Prize-winning German novelist and social critic died on Monday at age 87. Grass, reports The New York Times, “whom many called his country’s moral conscience … stunned Europe when he revealed in 2006 that he had been a member of the Waffen-SS during World War II.”
To the surprise of no one Hillary Clinton announced her 2016 presidential campaign on Sunday, as rumored. “Everyday Americans need a champion,” said Clinton in her announcement video, “and I want to be that champion.”
Much of the coverage felt, if not supportive, then at least a little bandwagony. A welcome exception was New Republic’s sharp but respectful take, which concluded, skeptically, “There’s Nothing Inevitable About Hillary.”
Would-be Clinton challenger Marco Rubio plans to announce his own candidacy later today in Miami.
Catching ‘Up’ with Edith Macefield’s house
at 7:37am by Mark Matassa
On Saturday, The New York Timesput Ballard’s famous “Up” house on the front page, with a sweet kiss of a story that sought to update the status of the late Edith Macefield’s bungalow, which she refused to sell to developers. “She stood her ground,” says one visitor. “She created this gouge in the infrastructure.” The Oregonian filed its own version this morning’s edition. But neither captures the nuance or legend-puncturing of Crosscut’s report last week, by Brian Hagenbuch:” The real story behind Ballard’s ‘anti-development icon.’”
Meanwhile, the Guardian glorified China’s version of this phenomenon (“nail houses”) in a terrific photo gallery.
at 7:32am by Mark Matassa
First, the CBS television story, which wasn’t about the West Seattle Trader Joe’s, but did start there in an interesting tale of a Vancouver, B.C., man who shops in huge quantities then takes the goods back across the border … where he sells them at a markup at his store, Pirate Joe’s. TJ’s wants him to stop, has taken him to court and has banned him from its stores. Mike Hallatt, of Pirate Joe’s, says he’s filling a vacuum (there are no Trader Joe’s in Canada) and will close his store only if TJ’s opens one in Vancouver. Read more in the West Seattle Blog.
Legislature wants new office to help homeless youth
at 3:02pm by John Stang
By a 71-to-26 margin, the Washington House passed a bill Friday to create a state Office of Homeless Youth Prevention and Protection Program by Jan. 1. The Senate earlier passed the bill by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma, 48-1.
The bill would establish a small office responsible for coordinating a variety of policies and activities related to how homeless youth find housing, obtain education and employment, and reconcile with their families.
The measure is headed to Gov. Jay Inslee, who is expected to sign it into law. His staff testified in support of the final version of the bill.
“Homeless” students fall into several different categories in Washington, and the population fluctuates. Estimates of Washington’s homeless student population range from roughly 30,000 to roughly 42,000. One state figure, from the 2012-2013 school year, was 30,609. That included 1,254 students who had no shelter at all.
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Capitol Hill Art Invasion attracts hundreds to threatened historic home
at 2:22pm by Alyssa Campbell
Last night, hundreds of strangers gathered to roam the rooms of an old Capitol Hill house slated for demolition as part of the Capitol Hill Art Invasion, the Capitol Hill Blog reports. The one-night only art show was organized by the home’s long-time resident and artist Damien Puggelli, along with local group Space 4 Art. The house, which will soon be replaced with a high-density apartment building, has provided work space for Seattle artists over the years, and the work of 40 locals — from paintings to costumes to a loving wooden hand — filled every corner of the three-story 1920’s home.
Puggelli wanted to showcase the Capitol Hill arts community, which is as threatened as his house because of the recent, rampant development in the neighborhood. “I’m against the total wholesale destruction of the history of the city,” he said. The City of Seattle has tried to mitigate the destruction through its Capitol Hill Arts District initiative, but that program hasn’t done much for independent local artists.
Forest Service eyes yellow cedar for protected status
at 2:21pm by Amy Augustine
The iconic yellow cedar tree is being considered for endangered status due to the effects of climate change, the AP is reporting.
“We’re losing yellow cedar rapidly to climate change, and if we don’t start addressing our greenhouse gas emissions, we’re going to lose yellow cedars,” Rebecca Noblin, an attorney in Anchorage for the Center for Biological Diversity, told the AP.
KEXP's new home nearly left out of Senate budget
at 2:07pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey
Local station KEXP has had a new Seattle Center space in development for years, but with its current lease up at the end of 2015, time is running out on getting that new space built.
Between our Republican-controlled Senate and Democratic House, there was bound to be some disagreement over which organizations got Building for the Arts fund money. But, says the Slog, KEXP, which had the second-highest priority project, never expected to be kicked off the legislature’s list entirely. Which, according to The Stranger’s Heidi Groover, is exactly what just happened when the Senate compiled its capital budget on Wednesday.
Two million dollars of the renovation’s $15 million total was supposed to come from state grants. The station has raised $8.63 million on its own. When word spread that KEXP had been dropped from the budget, last-minute appeals by supporters convinced Democratic Sen. Karen Keiser to add money back in — but only $1 million. It’s half of the expected amount, but better than nothing.
Bellevue gets new deal on East Link light rail
at 1:47pm by Alyssa Campbell
Bellevue has finalized negotiations with Sound Transit for the East Link light-rail extension that should leave the city with a little more cash and curb appeal. As the Seattle Times reports, when Sound Transit decided last year on putting a light-rail maintenance yard adjacent to the city’s multibillion dollar Spring District development, Bellevue city officials were less than pleased.
Now, after months of debate, Sound Transit has agreed to make the maintenance yard smaller and allow 1.6 million square feet of commercial and residential development on the edge of the Spring District, enhancing the site. The City of Bellevue will also get a $60 million break on its contributions to the cost of a rail tunnel. Bellevue will grant the agency permission to start construction on the Eastside light-rail corridor as soon as next year to begin service in 2023.
It’s all subject to final approval by the Bellevue City Council, which will likely hold a vote late this month.
Iran deal: 3 local Democrats pretty happy
at 12:51pm by Cody Olsen
Speaking at a World Affairs Council gathering in Seattle Thursday, three Democratic members of Congress from Western Washington expressed general satisfaction with the Iran nuclear deal.
“It’s a good first step,” according to U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene, adding that the final details will be key. Those include verification procedures and how easily the sanctions could be put back in place if Iran reneges.
Rep. Jim McDermott is frustrated at the lack of Congressional support for the deal, which he views as historic. “The president has been tasked to do this. And we should let him do it,” he said. Panel moderator C.R. Douglas of Q13 Fox pointed out that McDermott is the one who originally sponsored the bill to levy sanctions against Iran. McDermott said the sanctions against Iran always have had provisions for them to be easily jettisoned when the president felt the time was right.
Asked by Douglas about former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger’s reservations, U.S. Rep. Adam Smith said, “He’s flat out wrong.” Smith noted that a chief opponent of the deal, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, predicted in 2005 that Iran would have the bomb in six months.
Bellevue's new Bitcoin doc
at 12:02pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey
KOMO News reports that Dr. Jason Attaman, a pain management specialist based in Bellevue, is likely the first physician in the state to accept Bitcoin. Despite its volatility (Bitcoin’s dollar value dropped from $666 to $245 over the past year), Attaman values the privacy of the virtual transactions. Banks and credit card companies have no business butting into the doctor-patient relationship, he says, and besides, it’s “a lot simpler than a credit card.”
Sabra recalls hummus
at 11:50am by Alyssa Campbell
The company has issued a recall on more than 30,000 tubs of hummus after several tested positive for the food-borne bacteria listeria, the New York Times reports. Three deaths and five illnesses have recently been linked to the bacterium.
NW farmers brace for low water year
at 10:00am by Mary Bruno
Blame drought and a truly shallow snowpack, says KPLU’s Anna King. “Some farmers in the Yakima Valley will get just 60 percent of their normal water. They’re facing questions like: Let the hay field and veggies go fallow to save the cherry trees? Buy expensive water from a neighbor? Or maybe switch to costly drip irrigation?” No good answers here. Farmers are hoping state lawmakers will grant a request for $9 million in drought relief.
Amazon gets FAA nod to test newer drones
at 9:23am by Mary Bruno
First, the background: In March, after dragging its feet (according to Amazon), the Federal Aviation Administration finally gave Amazon permission to air test drones for its new drone delivery system. Good news, except that by then, said Amazon, its drone fleet had become obsolete. Fast forward to Wednesday when, reports GeekWire, the FAA granted Amazon permission to air test its newest prototype, putting the company one giant step closer to the seemingly fantastical prediction made by CEO Jeff Bezos on 6o Minutes in 2013. Drone delivery, here we come.
Panama Hotel declared "national treasure"
at 9:00am by Mary Bruno
The National Trust for Historic Preservation made the announcement on Thursday, making the 104-year-old Panama Hotel the first Seattle building to be so honored. Peering through the glass viewing portals in the floor of the Panama’s tearoom, you can see the suitcases and other belongings of local Japanese-Americans who were sent to internment camps during World War II. The Puget Sound Business Journal celebrates the news with a slideshow.
Fire near Fauntleroy ferry terminal
at 8:53am by Mary Bruno
The two-alarm blaze in a house just north of the ferry terminal sent one person to the hospital. The West Seattle Blog, as usual, has details and is tracking developments.
Valve moving to Seattle?
at 8:10am by Mary Bruno
The Bellevue-based gaming giant that gave us Half Life and Portal is eying a Seattle address, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. Real estate sources tell PSBJ that the 19-year-old company is also looking in Bellevue. The goal is more space. Lots more space to accommodate projected growth. “Currently, Valve is in 110,000 square feet in downtown Bellevue’s Skyline Tower,” writes PSBJ, “and could expand to approximately 200,000 square feet.” If Valve does choose Seattle it would become the second big employer (remember: Expedia’s coming in 2018) to make the move across the lake.
Comcast service is back
at 7:33am by Mary Bruno
That severed fiber-optic line in South Lake Union that sent 30,000 Comcast customers off-line on Thursday has been repaired. The widespread service blackout, which included some 911 service, ended at about 7 p.m. last night for 90 percent of the affected (and angry) customers, according to The Seattle Times.
“The outage,” noted The Times, “benefited at least one Capitol Hill business, though: Porchlight Coffee had an increase in customers who wanted to use the coffee shop’s Internet, provided by CenturyLink, according to barista Nikki Buckley.”
Hillary to announce this weekend
at 7:23am by Robert LeCompte
After months of waiting, the inevitable is about to happen: Three insiders tell The Washington Post that Hillary Clinton will finally announce her candidacy for president on Sunday, making her the first — and only, so far — Democratic contender for the White House. Look for word to arrive via social media and a video, according to the Post sources. Once she commits, Hillary will out to Iowa to whip up some support in that critical caucus state. Of course, these details were shared on background; nothing’s final yet. Except those Hillary 2016 buttons.
Olympia to honor deceased local musicians
at 5:30am by Robert LeCompte
Officials in the state capital are asking people to nominate dead musicians who helped to grow the Olympia music scene, Thurston Talk reports. The city will honor three finalists with mosaics on three different downtown sidewalks. But that’s not all: The city is planning live performances this summer at each of the three mosaics, which will also incorporate the work of other local artists. Send submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org by April 30.
Giant twister tears through Illinois
at 5:15am by Mary Bruno
Multiple tornadoes descended on Illinois on Thursday evening. At least one massive funnel cloud touched down near the town of Rochelle, according to The Huffington Post, and there were reports of damage in nearby Fairdale, Kirkland and Ashton. One person is reported dead and at least seven others injured.
Which pot gets pot revenue?
at 5:03am by Mary Bruno
Lawmakers in Olympia are looking to change the way marijuana tax revenue gets spent. The GOP-led Senate wants to dedicate the bulk of the new money to education. The Democratic House prefers sticking to the letter of the voter-passed initiative, which means spending pot money on prevention, treatment and low-income health-care programs. Remember: At this stage, no one knows for sure exactly how much revenue the sale of now-legal recreational marijuana will actually generate.
“Corporate Culture in America values shareholders, executives, and customers, but it does not give a rip about the employees,” said U.S. Rep. Adam Smith on Thursday. Smith was onstage in Seattle for the Diplomacy Begins Here summit, hosted by the World Affairs Council. He was joined by fellow U.S. Representatives — and Democrats — Jim McDermott and Suzanne DelBene. The 90-minute panel, moderated by Q-13 Fox’s C.R. Douglas, covered a variety of topics, including the proposed Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP).
Sporting crutches due to his recent hip surgery, Smith addressed the apprehensiveness about the Trans Pacific deal, saying Corporate America “has failed spectacularly” to make employees feel like their company’s success will benefit workers too. “Boeing, I know you’re probably represented here…” he said, eliciting laughs and a few hoots from the audience. “Why can’t the machinists make, for example, $120,000 and the executives make $3 million instead of four million?”
Jim McDermott echoed Smith’s concerns about who benefits from the Trans Pacific Partnership, wondering “Exactly how is it going to produce more jobs?” The stock market is booming even as the middle class keeps shrinking. That’s not the kind of effect Smith and McDermott want the TPP to produce.
Amazon sues fake review sites
at 3:45pm by Robert LeCompte
For the first time ever, says GeekWire, Amazon is filing lawsuits against websites that the company believes are selling fake reviews of products on Amazon. The suits charge trademark violations, unfair competition and deceptive acts. The owner of one of the sites named in the suit, buyamazonreviews.com, claims that his company requires clients to send in products so that employees at buyamazonreviews.com can write fair reviews. But GeekWire reported that the FAQ section of buyamazonreviews.com says something a little different, advising that “you can either provide your own reviews or we can write them for you.” (The FAQ language is different now, and concludes with a Happy Face emoticon.)
Road rage incident kills one, injures three on I-5
at 3:22pm by Amy Augustine
A 23-year-old woman was killed and three were injured in a road rage incident that closed down I-5 for over five hours on Wednesday night, KING5.com reported.
Andrea Dickey, 23, of Centralia was a passenger in one of the vehicles. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
The three-car crash occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m. near Michigan Street. The Washington State Patrol said that the incident started when a Dodge Neon and Chevrolet HHR merged I-5 southbound from Interstate 90 when the Chevy flashed its lights at the Neon for driving slowly.
The drivers are believed to have antagonized one another for another three miles until the Chevy suddenly hit its brakes and the Neon slammed into the back of it. A third, unrelated car then struck the Chevy.
The Patrol also said that they are checking for possible impaired driving.
Putin and K-Pop star top TIME 100 Reader's Poll
at 3:00pm by Robert LeCompte
This year’s TIME 100 Readers Poll includes Barack Obama and Pope Francis, as well as music mega-stars Lady Gaga and Beyonce. But leading the list is Russian president Vladimir Putin and Korean pop star Lee Chae-rin (aka CL of the group 2NE1). Putin and the pop star are trending at 6.2 percent and 6.1 percent, respectively (as of Thursday afternoon). You can view the poll and cast your vote at TIME.
Author Michael Pollan kicks off UW's Weight and Wellness series
at 3:00pm by Cambria Roth
Best-selling food writer Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, last night kicked off the the UW Graduate School’s “Weight and Wellness” Speakers Series. Each year members of the community nominate speakers for the graduate school’s lectures, and recommendations this year focused on weight, wellness and health.
Pollan’s lecture, “Our National Eating Disorder,” where he discussed the causes of America’s public health crisis, and how it isn’t just a personal health problem but a political and public one. “Because of unhealthy diets, one hundred years of progress and improved public health has been reversed,” Pollan said.
He focused on three main areas for concern — agriculture policy, food marketing and food ideology. One proverb he recited carried particular punch: “The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.”
Oregon teens sue over climate change
at 3:00pm by Robert LeCompte
Kelsey Juliana, 18, and Olivia Chernaik, 14, filed suit against former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber over the state’s alleged failure to meet carbon emission reduction goals established eight years ago. According to Oregon Live, the Eugene teens claim that air is a part of the public trust and as such should be protected by the government, something both the governor and state have failed to do. “Kids don’t get to vote yet and we don’t have money to donate to campaigns,” said Juliana, “but we, as a generation, have the most at stake and the most to gain from taking action.”
Comcast outage in Capitol Hill outrages customers
at 2:50pm by Amy Augustine
Comcast bore the brunt of angry — sometimes irrationally so — Twitter users, presumably tweeting with their cell phones after damage to a fiber optic line left many on Capitol Hill without web or cable services Thursday morning. The Capitol Hill Seattle blog first reported the outage about 9 a.m. Comcast spokesman Steve Kipp told the blog that a construction crew unaffiliated with Comcast damaged the line that primarily feeds the Madison Park neighborhood.
Customers said Comcast told them that service would be up again by noon, but an Xfinity app said not to expect the return of internet service until at least 9 p.m. As the afternoon wore on, people became angrier, with many calling for a municipal broadband service.
@MayorEdMurray@Comcast ’s message says Internet down until noon. It’s 2pm. Still down. This is DOWNTOWN SEATTLE on your watch! Disgrace.
Comcast still down in Seattle. Suddenly jealous of Chattanooga TN, with their publicly owned gigabit internet and actual ISP competition. — Jonathan Brebner (@JPBrebner) April 9, 2015
May we suggest to CenturyLink that it might be time to offer a Blackout Special?
Mary Kay Latournueau on Barbara Walters
at 2:00pm by Mary Bruno
Mary Kay Latournuea Fualaau and her husband celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary with an exclusive Barbara Walters interview. Latourneau Fualaau, a former Seattle school teacher, became a tabloid sensation back in 1997 when she had an affair and got pregnant with the child of Vili Fualaau, her then-13-year-old student.
Seattle home prices up almost 19 percent from 2014
at 1:15pm by Robert LeCompte
Since last March, as the Seattle Times reports, the average price of homes in Seattle have risen from $450,000 to $535,000, an 18.9 percent increase. One factor driving prices up: The number of available homes for sale has fallen by 23 percent in the same one-year period. J. Lennox Scott, CEO of John L. Scott Real Estate, said, “We are selling more homes than new listings come on the market.”
Ninkasi Brewing used outer space yeast for latest beer
at 1:00pm by Robert LeCompte
For a few years now, says KGW.com, the folks at Eugene’s Ninkasi Brewing Company have had this burning desire: to brew a beer made with ingredients from outer space. And now they have. The Oregon brewery is about to release a brew made with yeast that they actually launched into space on their own homemade rocket. Ground Control, a stout, will be available in select stores April 13, just in time for this summer’s big sci-fi blockbusters.
Tacoma going after world hopscotch record
at 12:01pm by Cody Olsen
The city of Tacoma, in partnership with the University of Puget Sound, will try to set a new world record for … hopscotch. That’s right hopscotch. UPS students Brandon Johnson and Graham Robinson created Puget Sound Hopscotch as a way to bring the community together, raise funds for youth programs and blow the previous world hopscotch record (yes, there is one) out of the water. In that order, of course.
Sunday May 3rd, from 10 am to 1pm, Tacomans are invited to hop a 3.5 mile course, surpassing the current 3.42 mile record set in 2011 near Toronto, Canada. The suggested donation ($5-10) goes to the UPS Center for Intercultural & Civic Engagement youth programs which connects “Puget Sound college students with Tacoma youth for mentoring and tutoring.”
Hopping is not for everyone, but fret not: to make the record official only Johnson and Robinson have to actually complete the course, which they estimate will take a few hours. “It sounds wacky, and it’s harder than people think — 3.5 miles of hopping,” said Johnson. “But it’s a great way to bring together the community.” Hoppers can register at 9 am the day of the event, or online here.
Sawant talks to Greenpeace activists, sort of
at 11:58am by David Kroman
Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant set up a conference call Thursday to speak with and show support for the activists from Greenpeace who are currently aboard (without invitation) the ship carrying Shell’s arctic exploration equipment to Seattle. But, because they are on a ship in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, the call connection was at best spotty.
The activists boarded the ship on Monday near Hawaii along its route from Malaysia to Seattle. Quickly thereafter, Shell filed a lawsuit in federal court to kick them off the ship.
Seattlepi.com broke the news early this year that the Port of Seattle had agreed to host Shell’s equipment at Terminal 5 on the waterfront. The two-year lease has set off a firestorm of opposition among local environmental groups.
Sawant Thursday asked the activists why they’re aboard the ship. The response was difficult to hear:”We’re hear because Shell … environment … earth … trying to go back out there and do it again…stay out of the Arctic.”
Because Q and A proved difficult, Sawant took the opportunity to rail against Shell, praise the activists for the their efforts and encourage them to join in rallies —if and when they arrive in Seattle.
In a moment of clear telephone connection, the activists pledged to continue fighting against Shell as long as was necessary. but said they had no plans for when they arrive in Seattle.
Hiking the Pacific Crest Trail — in selfies
at 11:51am by Amy Augustine
Andy Davidhazy hiked the entire Pacific Crest Trail, from Mexico to Canada, over 2,660 miles. He captured his journey by taking a selfie at every mile over the five-month trek then created a time-lapse video. PBS Newshour chatted with Davidhazy, who lost 50 pounds during his hike.
Late-season snow to hit mountains this weekend
at 11:20am by Amy Augustine
A large storm is on its way to Puget Sound this weekend and it could bring drenching rain and hail, as well as much-needed snow to mountain areas, KOMO is reporting. The forecast is calling for 6-11 inches around Stevens Pass and 3-5 inches in Snoqualmie Pass from Friday night into Saturday, with some locations getting up to a foot of now.
Plan those weekend trips accordingly.
Can Judy Clarke save Dzhokhar Tsarnaev?
at 11:04am by Amy Augustine
Anti-death penalty attorney Judy Clarke has defended some of the most egregious felons of our times: The Unabomber, Susan Smith, and Jared Loughner, successfully sparing them from capital punishment. Clarke is now battling to save Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was convicted by a federal jury this week on 30 counts stacked against him. Vanity Fair has an excellent in-depth portrait of her unusual career.
Today’s Boston Globe editorial offers a to-the-point argument against the death penalty, on both legal and moral grounds. “Tsarnaev was 19 at the time of the bombing; he was apparently a heavy drug user; he had no prior criminal record. By themselves, none of these would seem like a particularly good reason to spare him, but taken as a whole, and alongside evidence of his brother’s dominant role, they should plant seeds of doubt.”
Back-to-back political suicides stun Missouri
at 10:37am by Mary Bruno
In February, Missouri’s auditor Tom Schweich shot and killed himself. In March, Schweich’s press secretary, Spence Jackson, did the same. The twin tragedies, reports National Public Radio, “have sparked fresh scrutiny of Missouri’s increasingly bruising political system.” Bruising is an understatement.
Schweich was a leading Republican candidate for Missouri governor, and an outspoken critic of the party, launching his gubernatorial campaign with what NPR calls “a scathing broadside” against the state’s GOP establishment. “They’ve tried to buy the courts. They’ve tried to buy the media,” said Schweich. “It’s deception and it’s fraud and it’s influence peddling. And it’s the kind of thing that worries me about the future of the Republican party in Missouri. And I thought we needed a voice that says ‘no.’ ” Now, Schweich’s voice and that of his press secretary are silent and Missourians are asking why.
Did GOP smear campaigns drive the two men to their deaths? Or was it something more sinister? Jack Danforth, a former U.S. Senator and fellow Republican, delivered the eulogy at Schweich’s funeral. “Tom Schweich publicly attacked what he thought was corruption in state government, and within a month of that he was dead,” said Danforth. “Spence Jackson publicly called for the resignation of [Missouri’s GOP Party Chair] John Hancock, and within a month of doing so he was dead.”
Bill to end distracted driving dies in Olympia
at 10:11am by Robert LeCompte
Washington has banned texting and talking (on your cell phone) while driving since 2007. Senate Bill 5656, as The Seattle Times reports, would have broadened that ban to include web surfing and typing into your GPS. Emphasis on would have. SB 5656 just got voted down in the state’s House of Representatives. The bill had sailed through the Senate (35 – 14) and enjoyed support of Washington State Patrol officers who, in 2013 alone, ticketed more than 1,200 drivers for texting or talking on cell phones. So, what does the death of 5656 mean for Washington drivers? Texting and chatting on cell phones while at the wheel is still illegal, but feel free to browse the web, update Facebook or watch YouTube videos to your heart’s content.
UW students shut down regents dinner over wage dispute
at 8:01am by Mary Bruno
Workers all across Seattle got a raise on April 1 as the city began phasing in its new $15 minimum wage law. No so for student employees at the University of Washington — and they are hopping mad.
Because of its status as a public entity, UW officials say they aren’t sure the city’s minimum wage law applies on campus. The university’s reluctance to bump the comp prompted student activists to storm the University of Washington Club on Wednesday night, effectively shutting down a UW regents dinner. According to The Seattle Times, the regents retreated to a downstairs dining room, “leaving plates of uneaten appetizers on the table.”
“If every other employer in Seattle can pay $15 an hour by 2017, surely the UW, a $6 billion a year institution, can pay at least $15 dollars an hour to all workers on campus,” Garrett Strain, a grad student at the Evans School of Public Affairs and member of the UW Academic Workers for a Democratic University, told The Daily. Strain was not among the students who crashed the regents dinner.
Michael Bloomberg's data-driven war on coal
at 8:00am by Mary Bruno
“Before Michael Bloomberg would commit tens of millions of dollars to the Sierra Club’s campaign to shut down coal plants all over the United States, he wanted something: more data specifying where his money would go,” writes Andrew Restuccia in Politico. “… Among other requests, Bloomberg wanted the group to create better ways of gauging the success of its efforts, including maps of every coal-fired power plant and details on their pollution controls.”
Powered by his $30 million donation, the Sierra Club got to work. Bloomberg’s data-fueled obsession is credited with the closure or re-purposing of 188 coal plants around the country since 2010. And that makes the erstwhile New York City mayor the coal industry’s Number One enemy.
State looking to do more for homeless youth
at 5:30am by John Stang
The House Appropriations Committee has recommended 18-to-14 along party lines that the full House pass a bill that would create a state Office of Homeless Youth Prevention & Protection Program by Jan. 1, 2016.
The Senate already passed the bill by Sen. Steve O’Ban, R-Tacoma, 48-1 and the House Early Learning & Human Services Committee recently gave it a thumbs up.
The bill would create a small office to coordinate efforts to help homeless youth find housing, obtain education and employment, and reconcile with their families.
Estimates of Washington’s homeless student population range from roughly 30,000 to roughly 42,000.
According to a ranking recently released by Walk Score, Seattle is the eighth most walkable city in the US (scoring 70.8 out of 100). Urban trends such as transit-oriented development and dense multi-family housing, both of which are on the rise in Seattle, tend to increase walkability as people move in closer to their work and are able to carry out their shopping on foot.
The Walk Score ranking’s methodology includes variables such as pedestrian friendliness, number of walking routes and population. Not surprisingly, the population dense New York City tops the list, followed by San Francisco. While Seattle used to be named among the few truly “walkable” American cities, our relative ranking has dropped two places since 2011 as other cities like Miami have been developing with pedestrians in mind.
Judge fines Forks' dog shelter
at 3:52pm by Mary Bruno
Clallam County Superior Court judge George Wood ruled Friday that the Forks charity that raised $360,000 for a dog shelter violated the state’s Charitable Solicitations Act. According to the Attorney General’s office, Judge Wood found that the Olympic Animal Sanctuary committed 48 violations when it failed to register with the Secretary of State and could not produce records of how the donations were spent.
The attorney general’s office is seeking fines of $2,000 per violation, or a total of $96,000, plus an extra $20,000 in costs and fees. Former executive director Stephen Markwell no longer operates the Sanctuary and has surrendered the dogs to a shelter in Arizona.
Tsarnaev guilty on all counts in Boston Marathon bombing
at 1:26pm by Marissa Brent-Tookey
CNN reports that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev has been found guilty of all 30 charges filed against him in the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing. Three people were killed and 250 injured by the explosives Tsarnaev and his brother planted in the crowd near the finish line.
Selig to develop another Belltown high-rise
at 12:29pm by Alyssa Campbell
As the PSBJ reports, Martin Selig Real Estate announced plans to develop a 440-foot office and apartment tower on the corner of Third Avenue and Virginia Street. The building will be go up across the street from Bed Bath and Beyond on property acquired for a combined $14 million. it will join the slew of other condo/office tower developments that are rising at lightning speed across Belltown. Selig’s company is behind a host of other developments that are changing the face of Seattle, including office projects in the works in Ballard and Lower Queen Anne.
Washington farmers plan for drought
at 11:53am by Marissa Brent-Tookey
The state’s farmers and the Department of Ecology are already looking for ways to stop the ongoing dry conditions from wreaking havoc on agricultural production. In March, Gov. Jay Inslee declared a drought in three regions (including much of the Olympic Peninsula). The reason: a below-average snow pack. Last week, Dan Partridge of the Department of Ecology blogged that snow pack levels were 20 percent below average for this time of the year.
According to Northwest News Network, Department of Ecology officials are considering purchasing water from landowners in the mountains. Even so, Yakima Valley farmers could face tough decisions about which crops to water in the event of extreme shortages.
Swinomish Indian tribe sues to ban Bakken oil trains
at 11:36am by Alyssa Campbell
The Swinomish filed suit suit in U.S. District Court in Seattle to permanently ban BNSF Railways from moving Bakken crude oil by rail across tribal land. As the Seattle Times reports, the tribe claims that, by sending 100-car oil trains across reservation lands without asking permission, BNSF is violating a 1991 agreement that allows only a very limited number of cars to transit Swinomish land each day.
The tribal land transit is vital for BNSF, connecting its trains to the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes. But the safety of the oil trains is drawing increased scrutiny. “It’s unacceptable for BNSF to put our people and our way of life at risk without regard to the agreement we established in good faith,” said Swinomish Chairman Brian Cladoosby in a statement.
The Swinomish-BNSF legal battle is only part of a larger, nationwide discussion about what precautions (and legislation) should be adopted to protect the public from more oil train explosions, one of which killed 47 people in Quebec last year. The National Transportation Safety Board has urged new route planning measures to avoid sending oil trains through large population centers. Vice News producer Spencer Chumbley’s new documentary on oil trains features a segment on the effects of an oil-train explosion in downtown Seattle.
Smart stove knobs
at 9:05am by Mary Bruno
Meld, a startup from Amazon, Pinterest and RichRelevance refugees, just launched a Kickstarter campaign for its new “stovetop temperature control system,” reports GeekWire. Think smart knobs that can be attached to an existing range and come complete with a temp-sensing “clip that sits in boiling water, oil, or any liquid in a pot on the stove.” Wait, there’s more: That clever clip communicates with a recipe app so when you fire up the burner the Meld app and clip, in perfect software harmony, adjust the knobs to maintain the proper temp. Here’s a video:
Canada to protect 'Arctic sovereignty' with new satellite system
at 7:30am by Amy Augustine
Canada is ramping up its claim to the Arctic with active military exercises some speculate are aimed at Russia, as well as upgrading its satellite observation program, VICE Canada is reporting.
Stephen Harper’s government is soliciting bids for $17 million worth of development toNorthwest Territories’ Inuvik satellite station. The current station is used for “mapping, weather, surveillance, and other purposes.”
Judge calls zoo's plan troubling but will let it ship out elephants
at 7:00am by Joe Copeland
U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour will let the Woodland Park Zoo ship its two remaining elephants, Chai and Bamboo, to Oklahoma City. But Coughenour, a highly respected federal judge, said in his decision that the court was “deeply troubled” by the zoo’s action in sending the elephants someplace poorly suited to meet their needs in terms of adequate space and climate, according to the Seattle Times. In part, the zoo won because Coughenour found conditions for the elephants at Woodland Park “at least equally unsuited” to the elephants as what they will face in OKC. The Times posted the full decision here.
South Carolina cop charged with murder
at 7:00am by Mary Bruno
A white police officer was charged with murder on Tuesday in the shooting of an unarmed black man in Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston’s Post and Courierreports that officer Michael T. Slager, 33, was arrested after a video surfaced of him shooting 50-year-old Walter Scott in the back as Scott fled. The footage, given to The Post and Courier by an anonymous source, captures the conclusion of a confrontation between Slager and Scott that began when Scott ran from the officer after a traffic stop on Saturday.
Every Seattle voter with $100 to spend
at 6:45am by Cody Olsen
Citizens group Honest Elections Seattle has filed an initiative aimed at reducing the influence of money and special interests in Seattle politics. The Stranger highlighted the initiative’s main components, chief among them giving all registered voters a $100 voucher they can donate to candidates running for city council, mayor or city attorney. Candidates could opt into the system, thus collecting campaign dough from a swath of voters who otherwise wouldn’t be able to contribute.
The initiative also features a “cooling off” period, which would require a mayor, city council member, city attorney or any of their top aides to wait three years after leaving office before taking up a career as a lobbyist. (A similar cooling off measure for some state offices was defeated in the Legislature earlier the current legislative session.)
So where would the money foe voter-vouchers come from? That would be a 10-year, $30 million dollar property tax. Honest Elections Seattle is gathering signatures now; the initiative needs 31,000 to get on the ballot.
A chance to support Crosscut's broader journalism approach
at 6:30am by David Kroman
No straight path to journalism for me: Out of college, I worked in a school for children with autism, spent a mere month making sandwiches at Whole Foods, worked in Russia briefly, followed the wine harvest as a cellar hand and eventually applied for an internship with Crosscut. I always wrote when I had time between jobs, but I hadn’t received formal training in journalism.
The internship program at Crosscut was that training.
When the City Reporter position opened at Crosscut, I applied, but sheepishly. My winding path to journalism would have worked against me at most news publications. But at Crosscut, it was an opportunity to cast a broader net and bring new and important viewpoints into the conversation.
If you believe, like I do, that news shouldn’t always go from A to B, but should examine C and D and X along the way, please consider becoming a member. And thank you.
Toll roads spreading like scotch broom
at 5:30am by Joe Copeland
The Brookings Institution says that toll roads have been spreading across the nation over the past decade. And in the past few years, the miles of toll roads have grown at a much faster pace than that of highways generally. Some 350 miles of toll roads have been added since 2011 alone. The institution says, “Amidst federal dysfunction, every financing option appears to be on the table to repair the country’s infrastructure, and tolls are likely to be one of many possibilities attracting attention in the months to come.” Speaking of the months to come: The Washington State Department of Transportation is close to finishing up work on widening and adding new toll lanes to I-405 between Bellevue and the I-5 merge in Snohomish County. The first tolling is expected late this year.
UPDATE: It seems that Rand Paul forgot to get permission to use the song “Shuttin’ Down Detroit” by John Rich and now, as the Washington Post reports, the video announcing his candidacy for president has been blocked by Warner Music Group.
YouTube’s content ID system automatically matches any video that’s uploaded against other copyrighted material and allows the owner of the material to block the video.
— — — — — —
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul this morning joined the herd and announced his candidacy for president via his website. His objective? “To DEFEAT the Washington machine and UNLEASH the American dream.”
Whether he stands a chance is another matter: The most recent Washington Post/ABC News poll shows 42 percent of those surveyed found him unfavorable.
Marijuana equity firm raises $75 million
at 2:05pm by Robert LeCompte
Privateer Holdings, which specializes in providing capital for marijuana businesses, raised $75 million in its second round of funding from investors. So says GeekWire. Privateer will use the money to grow its three marijuana-centric brands: Leafly (a Yelp-like marijuana app), Tilray (a Vancouver, B.C. medical marijuana distributor) and Marley Natural (a marijuana products company created with the help of Bob Marley’s daughter).
Privateer has made great strides since raising its first $7 million in 2013. This latest cash infusion “positions us to build a family of global brands over the coming years,” CEO Brendan Kennedy told GeekWire.
Starbucks offers full tuition ride for its employees
at 1:38pm by Amy Augustine
Starbucks on Tuesday updated its college plan to offers employees full coverage of tuition through Arizona State University’s online program, the Seattle Times is reporting.
The company, which hopes to graduate 25,000 employees over the next decade, had previously paid two years of tuition for those in their last two years of college. Though the university offers a significant discount for the employees, Starbucks says the the program may cost something to the tune of $250 million.
Seattle's boom, mapped out
at 1:14pm by Amy Augustine
Want to get a visual sense of how quickly Seattle is changing? Check out Seattle In Progress by Ethan Phelps-Goodman, a software engineer who believes that the tech industry urgently needs to make housing for everyone a top priority The site shows every large-scale development project, application through construction, and plots them on the map. You can click on any landmark to see what the project is, see when its being proposed, or find out which single family homes that will be torn down to make way for the projects.
Sea-Tac Airport upgrading Wi-Fi service
at 12:03pm by Robert LeCompte
Sea-Tac Airport will soon be making a $9.8 million upgrade to its Wi-Fi, replacing a 10-year-old system.
GeekWire reports the money will go toward installing two high performance Wi-Fi access ports in the terminal to speed up Internet connectivity and accommodate more users, as well as adding three access points near the parked aircraft for use by airport personnel.
“In the Seattle area, with Microsoft, Amazon, and other tech companies, our passengers demand we have a robust Wi-Fi,” SEA-TAC’s chief aviation technologist told GeekWire.
Need a job?
at 12:02pm by Cody Olsen
The Olympian reports on an upcoming job fair at Capitol Mall, April 16th in west Olympia. The mall’s website lists dozens of companies coming to the job fair including Costco, Port of Olympia, Lowe’s, Washington State DSHS. The fair is free, and the mall’s ad reminds participants to “Bring Your Resumes & Dress for Success!”
Providence medical clinic moving to bigger Olympia space
at 11:54am by Robert LeCompte
Olympia’s Providence West Olympia Family Medicine clinic will be moving down the street into the old Office Depot building at 1620 Cooper Point Road. Once construction is complete, Providence staff will be practicing in a brand new, 25,000 square-foot space. The new clinic is expected to open later this year, possibly as early as July. You can read more at The Olympian.
Tech workers lament lack of family time
at 11:23am by Amy Augustine
Working for a tech company may have its cushy perks – unless you’re a parent. For a country that prioritizes work over family, the advantages for big companies are obvious in reduced costs and increased production. But the absence of social policies that provide paid parental leave and child care puts significant strain on tech workers, the New York Times reports, and workers within the tech sector, which attracts some of the country’s brightest, have a lot of bargaining power.
Expert panel says tunnel not likely to need additional money
at 11:13am by David Kroman
The panel tasked with assessing the finances, management, schedule and safety of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Program — known as the Expert Review Panel (ERP) — released a new report Tuesday.
Crosscut will have a full story later today, but here are some of the major points:
The panel believes the project will be completed without needing additional state or local funds outside of the project’s $3.1 billion budget.
Although the report says the relationship between Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and Seattle Tunnel Partners, the project contractor, is good, it questions the dual authority of the state department and the contractor, saying that most megaprojects have a more defined management arrangement.
From the report: “Communication protocols between WSDOT and the City are not clearly identified as would be expected at this point during a megaproject of this size and this level of complex stakeholder involvement.”
The need for formalizing agreements for post-tunnel projects between WSDOT and the City is “urgent.”
Perhaps reacting to the move of WSDOT’s program director, Matt Preedy, to Sound Transit, the report recommends “WSDOT should retain the entire current Program Management Team. Turnover in the Program leadership would be harmful to the Program, as the tunnel project continues to be in a critical phase.”
After trash talk, real budget haggling in Olympia
at 8:07am by Mary Bruno
Leaders from both parties will huddle behind closed doors this week in an effort to hammer out a budget for the 2015-2017 biennium. State lawmakers need to reach agreement about how many dollars to spend and on what and Jerry Cornfield of The Everett Herald is not feeling optimistic given the differences between the parties on taxes, spending, pay raises for state workers, social service cuts (we could go on) and the looming end-of-session (April 26) deadline: “There are fewer than 20 days to reach a deal and avoid a special session of the Legislature,” writes Cornfield, “and a deal doesn’t seem probable given the differences in partisan budgets passed by House Democrats and Senate Republicans and the volleys of criticism exchanged by their authors.” Gulp.
Home prices in Seattle jump 19 percent
at 7:51am by Mary Bruno
Affordable living takes another hit as The Seattle Times reports that the median price for a single-family home in Seattle rose 19 percent last month to $535,000. That impressive gain is three times higher than for King County as a whole, where the median home price rose 6.1 percent. Eastside real estate is cool by comparison, with home prices inching up a mere 5.4 percent (to $632,554).
Bellevue chief promises integrity
at 5:45am by Joe Copeland
Bellevue’s new police chief, Stephen Mylett, promises that he and his command staff “will epitomize integrity,” according to the Seattle Times. But he called incidents that drew attention to the police force, including a confrontation between off-duty Bellevue officers and Seattle police working a Seahawks game, isolated incidents that do not represent Bellevue. A veteran of police forces in Corpus Christi, Texas, and an affluent Dallas-Fort Worth suburb, Mylett also promised to increase the diversity of Bellevue’s force.
Tradition in the NCAA: Duke wins. Next: Which women's power?
at 5:30am by Joe Copeland
The experts seemed to think the men’s national championship in college basketball would go to longtime power house Kentucky — until it got beat by upstart Wisconsin. But Wisconsin couldn’t quite hold off Duke, another national power, in Monday night’s championship. Still to be decided: the women’s championship. Notre Dame, seeking its second national title, is in the championship for the fourth time in five years. But, as the Washington Post notes, it faces an even more established program in the University of Connecticut, holders of nine national championships.
at 5:15am by Joe Copeland
Sprucing up the journalism landscape
at 5:00am by Jordan Royer
For years, we’ve watched the changing landscape of journalism transform the way we get and understand information. Too often now, we seek out those we agree with and don’t engage with those who think differently.
That’s where Crosscut comes in. The Crosscut Idea is to provide analysis and integration of information and hopefully, if we’re all doing our jobs, provide a space for solutions and unique ideas.
By supporting Crosscut you are taking a stand for good government, respectful and productive dialogue and a search for solutions. It’s why I joined Crosscut in the very beginning. Are we there yet? No. But we can’t do it without you.
As a writer and now a Crosscut board member, I am urging you to help us continue this effort. There will be many opportunities ahead for your involvement in helping us find solutions to some of our most pressing problems.
The Mariners are beginning the season the way they wanted: with a win, behind the pitching of Felix Hernandez. Today’s win over the Los Angeles Angels was at Safeco Field, the first at-home opening for the M’s since 2008, ESPN Seattle notes.
Art Thiel has a good look at the confidence of Manager Lloyd McClendon, who has predicted the approach of a “golden era” for the franchise. And while fans are eager to see how their team does this year, there are some whose job it is to worry about their performance off the field. My Northwest interviews Mariners spokesperson Rebecca Hale, who is mindful of the potential impacts the players can have with social media posts. “We ask them to be smart.” Hale said. Her aim is to make them aware of what might get them into trouble, saying if there’s something they wouldn’t want a relative to see, it’s probably best not to publish it.
Voters on budget: No clear direction
at 3:38pm by Joe Copeland
A new Elway Poll shows that Washington voters are essentially split on how to meet the prime mandate for this year’s budget: Increase spending on public education. The poll found 48 percent favor doing so within existing tax revenues even if other programs must be cut; and 43 percent favor increasing the spending on public education even if it means taxes must be raised. The poll has a margin of error of 4.5 percent. As pollster Stuart Elway reports, “When it comes to funding public education and balancing the state government budget, voters seem to be just as divided as their representatives in the legislature.”
Greenpeace boards Shell ship headed for Seattle
at 2:55pm by Joe Copeland
Greenpeace activists have boarded a Shell oil rig crossing the Pacific on its way to Seattle, Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com reports. The crux of the issue is that Shell intends to send the rig, the Polar Pioneer, to Alaska for oil exploration in the Arctic later this year if the company can get permits from the U.S. Department of the Interior. Shell issued a statement saying that it values dialogue with opponents of the drilling but that the protesters’ actions were illegal and jeopardize their safety and that of the crew of the Polar Pioneer. Is the Port of Seattle still hoping the controversy about its contract allowing Shell oil exploration vessels here will just go away?
Carbon tax initiative collecting signatures
at 2:00pm by Cody Olsen
Carbon Washington is collecting signatures for Initiative 732, a measure aimed at reducing carbon emissions in Washington State. The initiative is meant to be an alternative to Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal, a batter on deck of sorts, if the governor’s attempt at carbon reduction is defeated in the Legislature.
The initiative was filed on March 20, 2015, and needs 325,000 signatures to go before the Legislature. If supporters gather enough signatures, the 2016 Legislature would then have a chance to enact the measure. If the Legislature didn’t act, the initiative would go on the 2016 ballot. KUOW highlights the details of the initiative, which involve phasing in a $25 per ton tax on carbon emissions by large firms, starting in July 2017, the proceeds of which would go toward reducing the state sales tax (by 1 percent) and the businesses and occupation tax on manufacturing. When the tax is fully phased in, gas prices at the pump would go up 25 cents per gallon; rebates would be provided to thousands of lower-income families to minimize the effect the tax has on the consumer.
Carbon Washington’s initiative is based off a system already in place in British Columbia, which EarthFix provided coverage for. However some environmentalists are unsure if this plan is the right approach, KUOW spoke to Ross Macfarlane of Climate Solutions, a group that supports Gov. Inslee’s cap and trade proposal but is wary of Carbon Washington’s initiative: “We’re excited that people care so much about climate that they’re looking at ways to pass an initiative. But we’re concerned that Carbon Washington’s proposal is premature and … is building their strategy around a particular policy and hoping that it results in a winning strategy.”
Boeing patents an 'upright-sleep' chair
at 1:05pm by Cody Olsen
The “transport vehicle upright sleep support system” might be a mind-numbingly boring name, but the patent from Boeing could make air travel a little cozier.
The video from PatentYogi, run by GeekWire this morning, shows how the device would work, allowing the user to lean forward a bit to sleep. What’s interesting is that it seems to negate the loss of space associated with economy-section airline seats, giving someone the ability to sleep comfortably on a plane despite the crowding. Anyone else eager to try it out?
Boeing, Delta fight over Export-Import Bank
at 11:57am by Cody Olsen
The New York Times reports today on the long-running battle between Boeing and Delta Airlines about the existence of the Export-Import Bank, a government agency that gives loan guarantees to, among others, overseas airlines so they can purchase Boeing jets. Last week Delta, suffered a serious legal defeat, as a federal judge tossed out the airline’s claims that the Export-Import Bank hurts its ability to compete with foreign airlines. But, the Times points out that the real fight is political. The bank, first created in 1934, is up for renewal from Congress, otherwise it will cease to exist on July 1.
Both Boeing and Delta have put considerable resources into the fight, with Delta spending nearly $10 million to kill the Export-Import Bank, and Boeing spending over $69 million to protect it. Highlighting Boeing’s stake in the outcome, the Times said, “The purchase of Boeing’s big jets can run to the hundreds of millions of dollars, and even wealthy state-run airlines like the Persian Gulf’s Emirates Air might demand a United States government guarantee to help them get private loans that large.” The paper also notes that Boeing is the bank’s biggest beneficiary, which has helped fuel arguments that the government agency is looking out for the best interests of corporate America rather than the interests of taxpayers.
Developer Martin Selig buys former Federal Reserve Bank building
at 9:50am by Mary Bruno
The U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) auctioned off its Federal Reserve bank building (1015 Second Avenue) in downtown Seattle and Seattle developer Martin Selig walked away with the prize, according to The Puget Sound Business Journal. The $16 million pricetag was too high for the Seattle School District, which had considered the federal Building for a downtown school. The structure was “where cash was counted and distributed among banks in the region,” reports PSBJ. Which means Martin Selig bought himself an atomic bomb-proof building. Seriously.
Cruz + Cano + pitching = World Series?
at 8:19am by Mary Bruno
With the acquisition of former slugger Yankee Robinson Cano, the Mariners added much needed pop to the batting order. But Cano always said he couldn’t do it alone. “The No. 1 priority was to try to find a middle-of-the-lineup hitter,” GM Jack Zduriencik told The Tacoma News Tribune. “Someone who would bat behind Cano, and someone who would be a force.” So the Ms wooed Nelson Cruz, Major League Baseball’s 2014 homerun king (with 40). With Cruz, Cano and one of the best starting rotations in the majors, 2015 could be the season for the Mariners. It all starts Monday at 1:10 p.m. at Safeco. Don’t miss Art Thiel’s preview here.
Microsoft at 40
at 8:10am by Mary Bruno
Microsoft turned 40 on Saturday, April 4. Geekwire’s Todd Bishop took a look at how the software giant has changed, and stayed the same since that fateful day in 1975. In a memo to employees, wrote Bishop, Bill Gates shared the original vision that he and co-founder Paul Allen had for their new enterprise: “A computer on every desk and in every home, running Microsoft software.” And look what happened.
GOP lawmaker revives debate over tab for Alaskan Way tunnel delays
at 7:44am by Mary Bruno
Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, told The Seattle Times that he opposes a proposal to pay an extra $17 million for transit buses during the delayed construction of the Alaskan Way tunnel project. “The project is taking longer than it should have,” Orcutt told the Times. “Should that cost be borne on the state taxpayers’ dime? Or should it be borne by the city of Seattle or by the contractors?” In Orcutt’s view, the latter two options are the way to go.
His objections stem from a clause in the original 2009 tunnel legislation, which stated: “Any costs in excess of two billion eight hundred million dollars shall be borne by property owners in the Seattle area who benefit from replacement of the existing viaduct with the deep bore tunnel.”
NY Times gives nod to Inslee climate change proposal
at 5:30am by Mary Bruno
On Sunday, The New York Times spotlighted Gov. Jay Inslee’s efforts to tackle the hairy environmental threat of climate change. Inslee claims that his proposal to tax the carbon emitted by the state’s oil refineries, power plants and other industries will raise an estimated $1.3 billion in its first year. He’d spend those extra dollars, not on climate change-related efforts, but on transportation fixes and to comply with the State Supreme Court’s mandate to fully fund K-12 education. “By linking the money to broadly popular bread-and-butter programs,” writes The Times, the governor “hopes to build support for an antipollution policy that faces stiff opposition from Republicans and some industry groups.”
The future of the governor’s plan remains iffy. It went missing from budget proposals that both the state House and Senate submitted last week.
Rolling Stone retracts story about UVA rape
at 5:10am by Mary Bruno
Following the release on Sunday of a Rolling Stone-commissioned report from the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Rolling Stone retracted its article about a brutal gang rape at a University of Virginia frat party. According to The New York Times, the Columbia J School investigators said the magazine had failed to engage in “basic, even routine journalistic practice.”
Also on Sunday, the story’s author, veteran journalist Sabrina Rubin Erdely, issued a public apology, saying: “I hope that my mistakes in reporting this story do not silence the voices of victims that need to be heard.”
Indulge Mossback Knute Berger. Donate to Crosscut today.
at 5:05am by Knute Berger
As a writer, I can become a bit self-absorbed. I am grateful to Crosscut for indulging that side of me. I’ve been writing for the website since Day One in 2007, getting to explore the city and region, our politics and heritage. It’s been a gift from smart and tolerant editors, made possible by generous support from all our patrons, especially our readers and members. Like you, I’m a Crosscut consumer — and I don’t want to be without it. I hope you’ll join me in supporting the good work being done here by making a donation today. Please help get reach our fundraising goal.”
Would FDR join the Senate's Majority Coalition Caucus?
at 1:37pm by Mary Bruno
Sen. Tim Sheldon thinks so. Sheldon is the lone Democrat in the majority coalition that controls the state Senate. Around 2:30 a.m. on Friday, that conservative coalition was doing battle with the Senate’s 23 Democrats over whether to take up the GOP-friendly 2015-2017 budget proposal. The wee hours spat came after more than nine hours of tense arguments over endless budget amendments. Everybody was really, really cranky. But something (exhaustion?) inspired Sheldon to pontificate to his Senate colleagues: “If Franklin Delano Roosevelt was in this chamber, he would be voting with me [to support the GOP budget]. If Eleanor Roosevelt was in this chamber, she would be voting with me.” Okay then.
March tweet round-up of Seattle street corners
at 1:20pm by Cambria Roth
13 destructive workplace behaviors
at 1:00pm by Mary Bruno
Workplace dynamics are intriguing — if you’re a sitcom writer — and irksome if they skew towards the dysfunctional. The good news, insists Puget Sound Business Journal contributor Sylvia Lafair, is that once you’re on to troublesome behavior patterns, you can do something to make things better. Besides quitting.
Lafair’s 13 most common destructive workplace behaviors include the Super Achiever, the Rebel, the Procrastinator, The Clown, the Persecutor, who “bullies people into misery and the Victim, who’s “too scared to take any action.” Can you guess the other seven?
Are shorter commutes for company honchos driving Expedia's Seattle move?
at 12:00pm by Mary Bruno
“Conspiracy theorists speculate that an influential executive’s home in Magnolia or Ballard, a short distance from the new campus, might be quietly driving the decision to relocate,” writes Geekwire’s Todd Bishop. A review of King County real estate records reveals that a few of Expedia’s top execs, including CEO Dara Khosrowshahi, do live in Seattle. “But none of them lives near the new campus,” reports Bishop,”at least not yet. And in many situations, their commutes to the new campus would actually be tougher.” Another conspiracy theory shot down.
Mudslide wiped out Oso homes, but not mortgages
at 10:53am by Mary Bruno
In the wake of last spring’s fatal mudslide in Oso, large banks such as Wells Fargo and JPMorgan Chase generously sent donations to help those who had lost their homes — and often family members. Unfortunately, reports the Everett Herald, mortgages on those destroyed homes are still on their books.
Tim Egan on the new corporate conscience
at 7:49am by Mary Bruno
A raft of businesses have raised their voices in protest over the new freedom of religion legislation in Indiana and Arkansas. Apple, Nike, Walmart, Mariott, the NCAA. “Their outrage is selective, and calculated,”writes New York Times columnist Tim Egan: “In corporate America, the branding conceit of the moment includes just the right dash of social activism.”
That said, Egan continues, the free market and the First Amendment were working pretty well together until “activist judges — thy names are Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Samuel Alito, Anthony Kennedy and John G. Roberts — have tried to broaden the intent of the founders …”
Founders' Co-op announces $20 million funding round
at 6:23am by Berit Anderson
Angel investor and Founders’ Co-op co-founder Chris DeVore announced yesterday that the early-stage venture fund has closed its latest round: $20 million to invest in Pacific Northwest startups.
So what, pray tell, is the seed-stage investor looking for? “Looking ahead,” he wrote, “the only sustainable source of competitive advantage will be the capability to foster, fund and promote new ideas more quickly — and with shorter cycle times between learning and action — than the next most agile competitor.”
On your marks, get agile … GO!
Committee recommends bill to manufacture small nuclear reactors
at 6:05am by John Stang
A bill to research the manufacture and shipping of small nuclear reactors is now in the hands of the state House’s Democratic leaders. The House Technology & Economic Development Committee recommended 11-2 on Wednesday that a bill by Sen. Sharon Brown, R-Kennewick, be passed. The Republican-controlled Senate has already passed the bill, mostly along party lines.
It is now up to House leaders to decide whether the full House will vote on the bill.
The reactors in question would be small and prefabricated; their parts manufactured in one location and then transported to the reactor site for final assembly.
The concept is still on the drawing board. No one has built a commercial small modular reactor yet, although supporters contend they are similar to the small reactors that operate on U.S. Navy ships.
Critics of the concept point to the lack of any track record on cost or safety for small modular reactors, plus concerns over the nation’s lack of a permanent place to store used nuclear fuel.
Energy Northwest (a consortium of Washington public utilities, including Seattle City Light), the NuScale company of Corvallis, Ore., and the U.S. Department of Energy facility at Idaho Falls have agreed to build a full-scale small modular reactor in Idaho by 2023. Tri-Cities interests hope to attract mass production to a half-built, never-finished Energy Northwest reactor site at the Hanford reservation.
City council announces process to fill vacated seat
at 6:03pm by Amy Augustine
City Council president Tim Burgess on Wednesday announced the process to fill the vacancy for exiting council member Sally Clark, who leaves the position April 13.
In a statement, Burgess said he believes the council should appoint an experienced “caretaker” who will not to seek election to the council this year. The city charter states that a new member must be appointed within 20 days.
“In this context, we need someone who can hit the ground running,” Burgess wrote.
The filing period is April 2 through April 14. Finalists will be chosen April 20 ahead of a full council vote on April 27. Council member Clark’s last day is April 13.
BNSF bites back against state's leak allegations
at 6:00pm by Amy Augustine
Railroad giant BNSF is criticizing the state’s claims that the company failed to report more than a dozen hazardous material spills, claiming it found inaccuracies of more than 90 percent of the alleged violations, the Bellingham Herald reported.
The report, released by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission on March 19, recommended over $700,000 in fines for the company, finding that between Nov. 1 and Feb. 24, there were 14 incidents of releasing hazardous materials not properly documented with the state. By law, spills must be reported to a state hotline within the required half hour of learning about them.
In its report, the state claimed that in some cases BNSF did call the hotline, but not within the required 30 minutes. In other cases, it claimed BNSF did not call at all but submitted a copy of a federal report required within a month of any hazardous material spill.
BNSF claims, however, that the company reported at least six of the other incidents to the hotline, and it has the reports to prove it, according to an email newsletter sent Monday.
“We are disappointed we were not provided the opportunity to review the report and correct some of the misinformation before it was issued,” the BNSF newsletter reads.
In the most severe of the allegations, which included up to 111 violations involving a tank car that leaked 1,600 gallons of crude oil, the state claimed it was not notified until nearly a month after the incident, when it got a report BNSF sent to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.
In its statement, BNSF said the leak was “discovered off BNSF property,” that the car was not in transit, and that it was not it in the company’s custody when the incident happened.
Karina Shagren, spokeswoman for the state Emergency Management Division, told the Herald that BNSF had, in fact, reported the Dec. 7 and 8 incidents, but not within 30 minutes of when the spills were reported to have happened.
Four other incidents on Dec. 9, Shagren said, were reported to the state by an employee from the National Response Center, the federal government’s 24-hour hotline for reporting spills of hazardous materials and oil. A copy of those reports shows that BNSF reported the spills to the NRC.
Nearly 150 sleeping college students were killed in a terrorist attack on a Kenyan university Thursday, the country’s worst attack in nearly two decades, the Washington Post is reporting.
Militants stormed the university’s dormitories, fatally shooting two security guards and starting their bloody rampage. Nearly 500 people were rescued by Kenyan security forces; an unknown number of Christians were taken hostage and 79 injuries were reported.
Terrorist group al-Shibab took responsibility for the attack. Al-Shabab considers Kenya an enemy because the country sent troops to Somalia in 2011 to fight the group, according to WaPo.
“If you were a Christian, you were shot on the spot,” said Collins Wetangula, a student who was in a dormitory when gunmen burst in, opening doors and asking whether students were Muslim or Christian, according AP. “With each blast of the gun, I thought I was going to die.”
Breakthrough in Iran nuke agreement
at 12:02pm by Cody Olsen
The United States and Iran reached a framework agreement regarding Iran’s nuclear program early Thursday. The negotiating parties released a statement saying they had “reached solutions on key parameters of a joint comprehensive plan of action.” The text of the framework agreement can read here.
Secretary of State John Kerry tweeted about the success.
Big day: #EU, P5+1, and #Iran now have parameters to resolve major issues on nuclear program. Back to work soon on a final deal.
The P5 +1 Kerry references are, China, France, Russia, the UK, and the U.S., plus Germany. Between now and June 30th the negotiating parties will finalize the language of the draft and sign it, ending the negotiations.
“In this deal, Iran has undertaken to carry out a 75 percent reduction in its uranium enrichment infrastructure, from 19,000 installed centrifuges to just over 5,000 in the Natanz enrichment plant,” wrote the Guardian, which breaks down other key elements of the deal, like the international community terminating all economic sanctions against Iran.
The New York Times details the last-minute talks between President Obama and John Kerry late Tuesday, where the President instructed the Secretary of State to disregard the original March 31st deadline, and continue with the negotiations, so as to not let the self-imposed deadline prompt any major, last-minute concessions to Iran.
Councilmember Sally Clark to step down April 12th
at 11:49am by David Kroman
Outgoing Seattle City Councilmember Sally Clark has found her next career: University of Washington’s director of regional and community relations. She’ll leave the council on Sunday, April 12th, and start her new job on May 18th.
Clark announced last February she wouldn’t seek re-election, insisting that her decision had nothing to do with Seattle’s new district election system. Clark began a campaign for one of Seattle’s two city-wide seats then called it off, but said she wasn’t worried about her chances of winning. “I’ve done city-wide campaigns before,” she said at Wednesday’s Civic Cocktail. “It’s what I know.”
According to the UW website, the Office of Regional & Community Relations “links the University with surrounding neighborhoods, civic groups and local government.” According to UW vice president of external affairs, Randy Hodgins, its new director “brings a wealth of leadership experience to the office, not only from her time on the Seattle City Council, but also in her neighborhood and economic development work.”
No word yet on a replacement for Clark on the City Council.
Can high schoolers turn Nickelsville into a state-of-the-art homeless camp?
at 11:47am by Brian Hagenbuch
What would the Nickelsville homeless encampment look like with state-of-the-art micro homes, composting latrines, solar panels to power LED lights and heat water and a communal kitchen for residents?
The Everett Herald is reporting that the North Cascades Highway will reopen tomorrow in one of the fastest reopening efforts in the scenic byway’s 42-year history. It took just three weeks this year for crews to clear the roads, compared with six last year. If you don’t have time to cruise the full 400-mile loop, check out the Washington State Department of Transportation’s virtual drive online.
Murray, Expedia confirm travel company's move to Seattle
at 11:35am by David Kroman
Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi and CFO Mark Okerstrom confirmed the rumors Thursday morning: The online travel-booking company will be moving from Bellevue to Amgen’s spot on Seattle’s waterfront. “The view from the Amgen campus is beautiful,” said CEO Khoskowshahi.
Expedia’s buying the 40-acre, 750,000 square feet campus for $228.9 million — in cash, of course — and taking possession at the beginning of 2016 after Amgen, the biotech firm that’s closing its Seattle office, fully vacates. Expedia plans to move its 3,000 workers to their new home in 2018. And its building an extra 200,000 square feet on site to accommodate a 1,500-worker expansion. (No timeline yet on that growth.)
One big moving challenge: transportation. Khoskowshahi said 75 percent of his employees live on the Eastside. He figures their average commute will increase by 5-6 minutes. Hard to believe when you consider that those Eastsiders will be traveling straight down Mercer street and along the South Lake Union corridor, two of the most congested parts of town.
Look for a more in-depth story on the ramifications of Expedia’s move on commuting and employee happiness.
Local videographer captures planes struck in lightening storm
at 11:15am by Amy Augustine
Local videographer Owen Craft got a good show when he went out looking to film lightning strikes during the thunderstorm that moved through the regionWednesday night: As two jets approached Sea-Tac Airport, he filmed them getting struck by lightning.
Planes are built to withstand lightning strikes; no injuries were reported.
U.S. travelers can now rent homes in Cuba
at 10:56am by Amy Augustine
Home rental service Airbnb is now offering homes in Cuba following a recent Obama administration easement on some travel restrictions to the Caribbean island nation. According to BBC, there are over 1,000 properties that can be rented by U.S. travelers, some for as cheap as $42 a night. The San Fransisco-based company expects Cuba to become one of its biggest markets in Latin America.
Muslims to surpass number of Christians worldwide this century
at 10:37am by Amy Augustine
Islam is the world’s fastest-growing religion, according to a new report by the Pew Research Center, which also says that if current trends continue, the religion will nearly match Christianity by 2050 before eclipsing it by 2070. NPR says the main reason for the Muslim boom is location, location, location. “Muslim populations are concentrated in some of the fastest-growing parts of the world,” says Alan Cooperman, Pew’s director of religion research.
Jerry Brown can thank dad for California water crisis
at 10:00am by Mary Bruno
The late California Gov. Pat Brown was the zealot behind “massive mid-century water projects in the Golden State,” says the Washington Post. His son is now paying for it.
Pat Brown’s $1.8 billion California Water Project, brought enormous volumes from wet northern to parched southern California. “I wanted this to be a monument to me,” said Pat Brown back then. Fast forward 50 years: California governor and enviro, Jerry Brown was forced to imposed mandatory statewide restrictions on water use in the face of the state’s unprecedented drought and water shortage. “It’s a different world,” Jerry Brown told the Post. “We have to act differently.
Germanwings' co-pilot researched suicide, cockpit door security
at 9:00am by Mary Bruno
After examining an iPad belonging to Andreas Lubitz, German prosecuted found that the Germanwings co-pilot had been searching for information on how to commit suicide and on cockpit door security in the days before he crashed the jet into the French Alps. The New York Times has all the details.
Geekwire to Expedia: moving's a bitch.
at 7:38am by Mary Bruno
Moving is never easy, especially when you’re relocating an entire company. Bellevue-based Expedia surely knows a thing or two about travel. But Geekwire asked Glympse CEO Bryan Trussel, who moved his software startup across the lake three years ago, for some relo tips: Hardest part by far, said Trussel, was the toll on employees: “Almost the entire company went from a 5 minute commute, and free parking, to a 25-40 minute commute + Bridge Toll + Parking Fees.” Welcome to Seattle.
Can this guy create a social network that combats depression?
at 6:30am by Berit Anderson
Robert Morris is a self-described researcher and inventor at MIT Media Lab. What he’s not, presumably, is a fan of Facebook trophy-stalking, the self-deprecating hours spent scrolling through an endless feed of others’ accomplishments, humblebrags and photos of their cats in boxes.
Starting with the desired effect of helping people deal with depression, he developed Panoply, a crowdsourced website for improving mental health. The site, which was the focus of his doctoral thesis at MIT Media Lab, trained users to reframe and reassess negative thoughts, embedding an established technique called cognitive behavioral therapy in an engaging, unthreatening interface. After a study confirmed the site’s effectiveness, Morris formed a company and is now working on turning the idea into a polished consumer app.
He's baaack: Mark Driscoll resurrects himself in time for Easter
at 6:18am by Berit Anderson
Writes SeattlePI.com’s Joel Connelly, “The former senior pastor at Mars Hill Church has a new website name and an e-book out for Easter, as Mark Driscoll tries to resurrect his ministry more than five months since quitting the Seattle-based megachurch he co-founded.”
VA breaks ground on $152 million mental-health expansion
at 6:04am by Berit Anderson
“For the first time in nearly three decades, Seattle’s Veterans Affairs (VA) hospital campus is poised to expand, with construction of a new mental-health and research building set to start later this month amid a booming veteran population seeking treatment,” writes Seattle Times staff reporter Lewis Kamb.
Tomorrow, Mayor Ed Murray will officially announce a “Major employer” relocating into Seattle. The Puget Sound Business Journal reported today that the employer will be travel giant Expedia. The company will move its 3,000 employees from Bellevue into the old Amgen campus in Seattle.
When contacted, a spokesperson for Expedia said she could not comment on the move. However, she did say, “I’m going to have to move my hair appointment tomorrow.”
The company’s move has been rumored since February when CEO Mark Okerstorm said the company was looking to relocate, but said they were committed to the Puget Sound region.
State whistleblower? Join the (growing) club
at 3:01pm by John Stang
The number of state government whistleblower complaints significantly increased from 2013 to 2014, a Washington Senate committee was told Wednesday. State Auditor’s Office officials told the Senate Accountability & Reform Committee that 224 whistleblower complaints were filed by state employees in 2014, compared to 146 in in 2013.
Those complaints led to 47 investigations in 2014, compared to 18 in 2013. And 14 complaints were found valid in 2014, compared to eight in 2013. No reasons were given for the increases.
What missing our fundraising goal means - to you.
at 2:54pm by Mary Bruno
Each month, some 150,000 of you read Crosscut. More than 5,000 of you get our eNewsletters. We counted on you, our readers, to support the production of all those in-depth articles and analysis on the issues that affect our region. We need you now.
Many of you have contributed — mightily — during the past two weeks, but our shortened (two-week) member drive fell short of its goal. We pride ourselves on the depth and breadth of our current coverage, and the only way we can keep delivering it is with your support. So please . . .
If every single Crosscut reader gave just $4, if every single eNewsletter subscriber gave just $120, we could fund our entire not-for-profit for a whole year. Will you make a gift today to support quality, independent, in-depth news?
Newly legalized: WSU's medical school
at 1:31pm by John Stang
The proposed new Washington State University medical school is now legal. Gov. Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday to repeal a 1917 law that limited the state’s medical schools to the University of Washington. (Full disclosure: Both WSU and the UW are Crosscut University Members.)
Nature Conservancy buys big tract on Olympic Peninsula
at 12:30pm by Alyssa Campbell
The Nature Conservancy recently spent $7 million for a 3,184-acre tract of timberland on the Olympic Peninsula, reports the Seattle Times. The land was purchased from the global forest products company Rayonair as part of a larger Olympic Peninsula forest-restoration initiative, whose goal is to create a 32-mile, wildlife-friendly corridor between the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park. The corridor will protect the habitat of species such as the northern spotted owl and marbled murrelet.
Rayonier President David Nunes called the sale an “economically viable agreement.” Mike Stevens, director of the Nature Conservancy in Washington State, pointed to the acquisition’s loftier impact, ensuring that native forests and salmon runs “will continue to provide recreation and sustainable livelihoods for generations to come.”
UW debate over Seattle's rising cost of living
at 11:32am by Alyssa Campbell
On Tuesday night, the University of Washington hosted a panel discussion titled: “Priced out: The struggle for an affordable Seattle.” As the Seattle Times reports, hundreds of locals showed up to discuss how best to address the rising living cost in the city. Soaring real-estate prices are a hot topic everywhere lately. According to a recent study by Forbes, the Seattle-Bellevue-Everett metro area is the 16th most overpriced city in the country, with housing affordable to only 51.2 percent of households. The cost of transportation, groceries, and healthcare, as PSBJ points out, are all above than the national average.
The four panel members in Tuesday’s affordability debate came from the city’s real-estate and labor markets. Skylar Olsen, chief economist at Zillow, linked the rise in housing costs to zoning restrictions that limit growth relative to demand. Jake McKinstry, principal at Spectrum Development Solutions which specializes in mixed-use and transit-oriented development, talked affordability from the perspective of Seattle’s newest, mostly higher-income residents.
Emigres from pricey New York and San Francisco find Seattle very affordable, said McKinstry. A perspective not shared by longtime Seattle residents.
David Rolf, the president of the Service Employees International Union 775, argued that low-wages that fail to keep pace with rising costs are behind the affordability problem. Seattle’s growth, he notes, is excluding low-income residents.
The answer, Rolf and McKinstry agreed, is more incentives for developers to build mixed-income housing that creates more economically diverse neighborhoods.
On April Fool's Day, city government can have a sense of humor too.
at 11:25am by David Kroman
City Hall is having fun this April fool’s day and not just because of the new minimum wage ordinance.
At an Education and Governance Committee meeting Wednesday morning, Council President Tim Burgess opened by saying, “The council would like to declare its support for aerial drone delivery.” He added, “Oh yes, it’s April 1st.”
Mayor Ed Murray’s office sent out a press release declaring that Seattle would now use the metric system. “The Seattle Parks Department will change all wildlife information kiosks to refer to inchworms as centipedes,” it read. “All stadium vendors and food stands selling hot dogs will be encouraged to market their 30.48 centimeter-long hot dogs.”
The press release did not say it was an April fool’s joke and Murray’s Press Secretary Jason Kelly clearly got a little spooked that people would read it as fact, quickly sending a follow-up e-mail that read, “Hope you’re all having a fun April Fool’s Day!”
Last January, when we ran a story about Councilmember Kshama Sawant’s “13th Man” initiative, in which we joked that she was organizing together a class of fans without tickets to CenturyLink, a number of people believed this was, in fact, Ms. Sawant’s next big social justice effort.
Just saying: Be careful with your jokes this April 1st.
Let Seattle's minimum wage begin!
at 11:16am by David Kroman
If your Starbucks barista seemed happier this morning, it may be because she just got a raise. All businesses employing 500 or more employees hiked wages today (to at least $11/hour) thanks to Seattle’s new minimum wage ordinance. Companies with fewer than 500 employees are now required to pay $10/hour, up from the state’s $9.54 minimum wage. (Every minimum wage worker in the city is scheduled to reach the $15 an hour limit by 2021.)
Despite the months of lead-up and all the hoopla, the beginning of the city’s (long) journey to $15 an hour feels subdued. The Seattle Times front page story is about traffic; this morning’s City Council meeting was all about next year’s Pre-K rollout; and construction crews are still banging away at the new Weyerhaeuser building in Pioneer Square.
Councilmember Kshama Sawant, who arguably won her council seat thanks to her $15 Now campaign, will host a rally Thursday at Westlake to celebrate the rollout — and reveal a new bus campaign to spread the word. According to KOMO, businesses around the city are reacting differently; jumping the gun, Ivar’s raised employee wages to $15 an hour today, rather than phasing it in. (They’ve also raised their food prices and now discourage tipping to compensate.)
Dick’s hamburgers already pays its employees almost $11 and hour, so no hubbub over there.
The city’s Office of Labor Standards is tasked with enforcing the new wage hike, but as Crosscut wrote last week, the agency has yet to hire a director. Patricia Lally, director of the city’s Office of Civil Rights, which oversee Labor Standards, says her team is prepared to field complaints from employees, but proactive investigations into any alleged violators of the new $15 wage are still months away.
Why American business is in a downward spiral
at 8:00am by Mary Bruno
“An extensive body of evidence shows that the public focus on the success of high-tech companies like Apple and Google masks an overall downward trend in key measures of business vitality,” writes author and Columbia University professor Thomas B. Edsall in The New York Times. Many forces contribute to this disturbing trend, including regulation, consolidation and a shortage of workers with high-tech skills. But mostly, argues, Edsall, politics is to blame: “Federal and state officials, often under pressure from major corporations seeking to stifle competition, have adopted a regulatory regime that makes the creation of new businesses more difficult.”
We're #5!! In traffic congestion
at 7:40am by Mary Bruno
Seattle Times reporter Mike Lindblom delivers the bad news from a national traffic rankings report newly-released by the Tom Tom navigation company. Seattle was the fifth most congested city. Some sobering stats: Seattle drivers with a 30-minute commute wasted 23 minutes per day in traffic jams last year; that’s 89 extra hours a year, more than two work weeks. Best commuting days (no surprise) are Mondays and Fridays. Avoid Thursdays at all costs. In fact, the most congested day of 2014 was Thursday, July 31.
Tom Tom’s top 10, in order: LA, San Francisco, Honolulu, New York, Seattle, San Jose, Miami, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Portland.
Marysville shooter's dad charged with buying guns illegally
at 6:00am by Cody Olsen
The FBI has charged Raymond Fryberg, whose son Jaylen shot and killed four Marysville-Pilchuck High School classmates before killing himself, with illegal possession of the pistol used in the October 2014 shootings. According to KUOW, Raymond Fryberg “lied on federal documents when he purchased five guns from a Marysville gun dealer.”
Seattle sales tax goes up today
at 6:00am by Mary Bruno
On Wednesday, The Seattle Times reminds, Seattleites will all be paying an extra .1 percent in sales tax. Voters approved the little bump (9.5 percent to 9.6 percent) last November. That little sales tax hike will raise some $21 million for King County Metro Transit service in the city. Lord knows this traffic-choked town could use more buses.
Obama commutes drug-related sentences for 22
at 5:35am by Amy Augustine
President Barack Obama on Tuesday commuted the sentences of 22 people arrested on drug-related charges, saying those individuals had been imprisoned under an “outdated sentencing regime.” Tuesday’s reprieves more than double the number issued during Obama’s six-year tenure, according to the Huffington Post.
Leading up to Tuesday’s announcement, Obama told HuffPo that people awarded clemency should more broadly reflect the demographic pool of all those arrested, with less focus on white-collar criminals.
Joni Mitchell rushed to LA hospital
at 5:10am by Mary Bruno
LA paramedics responded a 911 call at singer/songwriter Joni Mitchell’s Bel Air home on Tuesday afternoon, according to Variety. Mitchell was rushed to the hospital. As of Tuesday night, there was no word on her condition.
Ivar’s seafood chain, long lauded for treating its employees well, is doing away with tipping at its Lake Union location and opting to adopt $15-an-hour worker pay right away ahead of the city’s incremental mandatory minimum wage increase. KUOW chatted with Bob Donegan, president and CEO of the company, about the decision, which will raise restaurant prices by about 20 percent.
Iran deal down to the wire
at 12:15pm by Cody Olsen
Today is the deadline for reaching a preliminary agreement with Iran over its nuclear program. Although all parties appear to be closer to a deal than ever before, negotiations may be extended until Wednesday, reports the New York Times. A sticking point is how quickly the United Nations will lift sanctions against Iran. Seven nations are involved in the talks: Iran, the United States, France, Germany, UK, China, and Russia. The official deadline is midnight Tuesday in Switzerland, where the talks are taking place. That’s 3pm here in Seattle.
Gov. Inslee bans travel to Indiana
at 12:13pm by Cody Olsen
Gov. Jay Inslee will join Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy by imposing “an administration-wide ban on state-funded travel to Indiana.” Inslee and company are responding to Indiana’s new Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which allows private businesses to refuse service to customers if doing so would conflict with their religious beliefs. Opponents contend that the law will legalize discrimination against the LGBTQ community. (In the wake of protests by the business community, Indiana lawmakers are reconsidering the law’s language.)
In the statement released Monday, Inslee also took the opportunity to make a pitch for Washington State. “We in Washington stand for equality,” said Gov. Inslee. “I applaud those companies and organizations that have spoken out against the law and said they would not locate or expand operations in Indiana. I want to invite all those organizations, and anyone interested in a state that promotes equality and opportunity, to come visit Washington. We are open for business, and open to all people.”
The 700 service options offered through Amazon Home Services – expected to compete with online consumer review sites like Angie’s List, craigslist and Yelp — are now available in 40 states, though the fewer services are available outside large metropolitan areas like Seattle, Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco.
“It’s really a natural extension of what we’ve already been doing for years with physical products,”Peter Faricy, vice president of Amazon marketplace, told the LA Times. “We had over 85 million customers last year shopping for products that need a professional service. At this point, this is what customers want from us.”
New data from researchers at the University of Wisconsin’s Population Health Institute suggest that people living in communities where there is high income inequality die before the age of 75 more often than people living in communities where incomes are more equal. “It’s not just the level of income in a community that matters,” Bridget Catlin, the co-director of the project, told The New York Times. “It’s also how income is distributed.” The New York Times has a cool interactive map that shows inequality, county-by-county, across the U.S.
Council green-lights three new homeless encampments
at 8:41am by David Kroman
The Seattle City Council Monday unanimously approved three new homeless encampments — or ‘tent cities’ — for up to 100 people each.
Debate over whether such encampments help or hurt Seattle’s homeless population has been going on for years now. In 2013, the council rejected similar legislation, worried that tent cities would take the place of more stable housing projects. But the city’s homeless population has been growing — up 20% last year — and unsanctioned encampments appear to be on the rise. In combination with a more progressive council, the measure passed easily.
The sites will be on either city land or private property. For now, encampments will not be allowed in residential areas, but Councilmember Kshama Sawant added an amendment to study the impact of tent cities in neighborhoods. It was approved 6-3.
$170,000 was approved to provide case management services. The ordinance will expire in 2020.
Bertha cutterhead, in photos
at 7:56am by Mary Bruno
The seattlepi.com features a photo shoot of Bertha’s newly-surfaced face (aka, the tunnel boring machine’s damaged cutterhead) which just returned to the surface for repairs. My, how she has aged . . .
2 things make Indiana's religious freedom law dangerously different
at 7:37am by Mary Bruno
“The new statute’s defenders claim it simply mirrors existing federal rules,” argues Garrett Epps in The Atlantic, “but it contains two provisions that put new obstacles in the path of equality.”
Germanwings' co-pilot once treated for "suicidal tendencies"
at 6:00am by Mary Bruno
German prosecutors have revealed that co-pilot Andreas Lubitz, who crashed the Germanwings jet in the French Alps last Tuesday, had been treated for “suicidal tendencies” before he received his pilot’s license. Since then, added the prosecutor, “no signs of suicidal tendencies or aggression toward others were documented” by psychotherapists who treated Lubitz. Read more in The New York Times.
Madrona Venture Group: Is Seattle a one VC town?
at 5:30am by Mary Bruno
Geekwire’s John Cook asks: What would happen to Seattle’s startup scene if Madrona Venture Group, the region’s preeminent venture capital firm, disappeared? “If Sequoia or Kleiner Perkins disappeared from Silicon Valley, the money train would likely continue unabated,” writes Cook. “When it comes to early-stage venture capital, Seattle is almost the equivalent of a one-sports-team town. And that’s not really a good thing.”
Indiana GOP to revise religious freedom act
at 5:02am by Mary Bruno
Looks like Republican leaders in the Indiana legislature are having second thoughts about that whole Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) thing. The Guardian reports that Indiana’s Republican leaders are “working on adding language … to make it clear that [RFRA] does not allow discrimination against gays and lesbians.”
Prepping Bertha for repairs
at 5:01am by Mary Bruno
Today’s the day the tunnel boring machine’s ailing cutterhead will finally resurface so crews can repair the problems and get Bertha boring again.