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Tuesday 10 Nov, 2015

Trump wants to serve up a Starbucks boycott

Herbold on verge of tie

at 3:59pm by Crosscut Editors

Lisa Herbold pulled to within in six votes in the City Council race to represent West Seattle. Continuing her steady rise since Election Night, she was nearly 90 votes ahead of leader Shannon Braddock in today’s counting.

Councilmember Bruce Harrell widened his lead over challenger Tammy Morales.

As we reported yesterday, it appears there will be no final determination until at least Thursday. There will be no vote tabulations on Wednesday, Veterans Day.

Grant concedes on Council race

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

City Council candidate Jon Grant, the former state Tenants Union head, has conceded that he lost the race for Position 8, one of the two citywide positions. Grant points with pride to his campaign against incumbent Tim Burgess, saying, that “in truth, it doesn’t feel like a concession knowing that the people who came together to support our campaign can claim concrete victories this year for many progressive causes. Together, we moved the body politic of Seattle and showed that a community driven campaign led by women, workers, students, people of color, tenants facing rent hikes, transit riders, people with disabilities, LGBTQ folks, teachers, and more, are a political force that must be reckoned with.”

Grant’s statement includes a brief mention of a notable campaign incident: an attempt to get him to help settle a lawsuit brought by the Tenants Union against a developer in return for what was said to be a chance to block a large independent expenditure targeting him. Grant resisted and went public, alerting voters to a kind of heavy-handed action that Seattle likes to think only happens elsewhere.

Grant tells Crosscut that he called Burgess before issuing the concession but wound up having to leave him a phone message of congratulations.  Grant’s full statement is here.

Trump's boycott mania has hit Seattle before

at 3:29pm by Joe Copeland

Donald Trump is among those who want to strike back at Starbucks over its simple use of red for holiday cups without other reference to Christmas. As Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com documents, this is a man with a quadruple venti passion for boycotts. At one point in 2011, Trump decided to go to bat for Seattleite Amanda Knox by tweeting that “everyone should boycott Italy” if the nation didn’t free her (she eventually was released and cleared of all charges in the death of a roommate during a university study program).

Connelly runs through other Trump boycott tempests, against Macy’s (yes! The bland department store dropped a line of Trump clothing over his attacks on Mexican immigrants), Mexico (well, because), and Glenfiddich scotch (because the company gave an award to a Scottish land owner who wouldn’t sell his property for a Trump golf course).

We are just waiting for Trump to remember his Italian threat and Knox’s subsequent release as a GOP presidential debate talking point on his international diplomatic skills.

Monday 9 Nov, 2015

Diabetes awareness: yes, we do need better understanding

Washington state slipping in its openness?

at 3:48pm by Joe Copeland

The Evergreen State has long prided itself on open and honest government, but a new report paints a rather less-glowing picture. InvestigateWest reports that a new ranking by the Center for Public Integrity and Global Integrity ranks Washington 12th nationally but only gave it a D-plus. And just three years ago, the Center ranked Washington third (scoring changes may have contributed to the drop).

Among the problems: difficulties getting information from public agencies, despite a law mandating open public records, and revolving door hiring of state officials by private interests. Attorney Katherine George, a member of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, tells InvestigateWest that agencies are too cautious about disclosing documents and they often put more money and effort into public relations efforts rather than hiring enough staff to handle public requests for documents.


SeaWorld makes a change on orca showings

at 3:22pm by Joe Copeland

SeaWorld’s San Diego park will change how it displays its taken-from-the-Northwest killer whales. Associated Press reports that, instead of having the orcas perform tricks, they will be on view in a more naturalistic setting. Animal rights groups dismissed the move as a gimmick that is no substitute for letting the orcas return to the wild.

Children with Type 1 diabetes still face unnecessary educational hurdles

at 2:47pm by Leslie Holleran

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and maybe we do need some consciousness-raising, at least if a recent New York Times story is any indication.

Type 1 diabetes, also known as insulin-dependent diabetes, primarily occurs in children, and recent statistics show that it’s on the rise. Unfortunately, the Times story suggests, educators in Seattle — as well as much of the country — do not always know what they need to about helping kids with Type 1 deal with the demands of this chronic illness, such as insulin shots and blood sugar testing. The article features the experience of the Pollards, formerly of Seattle, who moved to Maine in the wake of what they found to be an unwelcoming and unhelpful environment for their son with Type 1 diabetes at a Seattle private school.

Federal law requires that schools, except those run by religious institutions without federal funding, accommodate students with disabilities, including diabetes. As a result, parents have brought complaints to federal authorities in 400 cases since 2011, and this may be just a small representation of the problem.

The Times article, which was picked up by the Seattle Times print edition, also includes a list of resources for parents to learn more about their rights and how best to partner with schools to keep their kids safe.


Friday 6 Nov, 2015

Seattle's campaign plan draws national attention

2 Seattle council races narrow

at 3:59pm by Joe Copeland

King County Elections put out a late afternoon round of voting results that tightened two Seattle City Council races. In one, Bruce Harrell, who had been presumed to be the winner on election night, saw his challenger Tammy Morales draw to within just over 3.5 percentage points. If late returns continue to go Morales’ way, the southwest Seattle contest could become neck and neck.

In the race to represent West Seattle and South Park, Lisa Herbold continued to gain ground on election night leader Shannon Braddock. Herbold is just over 400 votes, or about 2 percentage points, behind Braddock, but has made up considerable ground.

Western State Hospital on notice

at 1:02pm by Joe Copeland

Western State Hospital’s chronic problems providing adequate treatment for mentally ill people have taken a turn for the worse, with the federal government taking a step toward a possible cutoff of Medicare funding for the 900-bed hospital. State Department of Social and Health Services Secretary Kevin Quigley has ordered a slowdown in service expansions while the hospital works to hire more staff, the key issue with the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. KING 5 notes that DSHS has received $700 million in increased funding from the Legislature for Western. State Rep. Eileen Cody told KING that department officials had assured her they were making progress on staffing issues.

DSHS said federal officials have formally put Western in danger of losing its Medicare certification, which could lead to the loss of funding for its services.

Seattle is here to help, America

at 12:25pm by Joe Copeland

In Crosscut’s story a day ago delving into Seattle’s new campaign finance vouchers, Yale Law Professor Bruce Ackerman said, “This is a dramatic step in putting democracy back in America.” Ackerman and fellow Yale Professor Ian Ayres have expanded on their view in a new Washington Post op ed, arguing that the plan — which they are credited with inspiring — should be a basis for controlling the influence of money in national politics.

Ackerman and Ayres write:  “With appropriate revisions, the ‘Seattle idea’ can be taken national and serve as a litmus test of political seriousness for presidential candidates, who no longer should be allowed to pretend that only minor reforms are possible until the court reverses its decision in Citizens United. The time for action is now.”

Thursday 5 Nov, 2015

Ballard High School evacuated after report that student had firearm

One City Council position still undetermined

at 9:16pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle City Council candidate Lisa Herbold gained ground Thursday evening in the race for District 1, but she remains nearly 4 percentage points behind Shannon Braddock. Political consultant and Crosscut contributor Ben Anderstone said on Facebook that the race is still too close to call but Braddock, who has led since the first count on Tuesday, “remains the  very likely winner.” He said a clearer picture could emerge in Friday’s vote counts and it would only take a couple of very good days of vote counting to put Herbold right back in the race.

We have all the latest results here.

Tribes worry about coal export plan

at 3:52pm by Joe Copeland

With environmental studies underway, discussions about the proposed Cherry Point coal export terminal have been somewhat quiet lately. But, as Joel Connelly of seattlepi.com reports, the Lummi Nation and others are taking their case against the giant facility’s air and water impacts to the White House Tribal Nations Conference.

The president of the National Congress of American Indians is Brian Cladoosby, who also chairs the Swinomish Tribal Community, which opposes the project. Today, he said, “We can no longer allow industry and business to destroy our resources, water and land. No mitigation can pay for the magnitude of destruction to treaty resources for today and generations from now.”

The Lummi Nation has said the plant would be built on the site of a 3,500-year-old village and would hurt fishing and the region’s environment. Supporters say the project, which would supply coal to China’s electric plants, would create badly needed jobs.

The great disrupter's brick-and-mortar bookstore: 'inoffensive'

at 2:16pm by Joe Copeland

“Nice only insofar as it is bland,” “very boring,” “aggressively inoffensive”: Those are a few of juicy quotes GeekWire’s Molly Brown picks out from a New Republic review of Amazon’s just-opened bookstore in the University Village mall. The review writer, a former independent bookseller from Portland, wasn’t very impressed with U Village either: “Amazon Books—like the surrounding mall—feels like it’s predicated on anxiety.”

Ballard SWAT call: Safety first

at 12:57pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Police say they took a student into custody late around noon after reports that he had been seen on campus with a gun. A police statement said that officers evacuated the campus to search for a firearm “out of an abundance of caution.” MyBallard.com reports that students were moved into the gym.

Wednesday 4 Nov, 2015

Cougs football gaining momentum, with fans

Next round of voting results

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

King County Elections plans to release a day’s worth of ballot counting results at 4:30 p.m. We’ll be moving quickly to update our results listing, which is here.

Sheriff as constitutional authority

at 3:47pm by Joe Copeland

Voters in Oregon’s Coos County have spoken: Their sheriff can declare any state or federal law void if he — or she — deems it to contain restrictions on gun rights in violation of the U.S. or state constitution. The residents of the south coastal county was 61 percent in favor of the measure, according to The Oregonian. One supporter said it would turn the county into a “sanctuary for gun owners.”

Vancouver's West End is ...

at 3:13pm by Joe Copeland

A Canada-wide contest has chosen Vancouver’s West End as a Great Neighborhood for, among other qualities, its walking and bicycling opportunities, safety and access to Stanley Park. And, the Vancouver Sun notes, there are pocket parks, the diversity … oh, Seattle can dream of having all that, right?

Cougs sell out stadium

at 2:41pm by Joe Copeland

Washington State University has sold out Martin Stadium for Saturday’s football game, marking the second time this year the team has drawn a full house, according to the Seattle Times. Maybe the Cougs will really land a promised visit by the premier football broadcast, ESPN’s GameDay.

Tuesday 3 Nov, 2015

Commercial office builders lose a potentially big client

Seattle City Council backs Murray's State of Emergency

at 4:54pm by David Kroman

The Seattle City Council unanimously approved Tuesday both Mayor Ed Murray’s declaration of civil emergency in response to Seattle’s homeless problem and the $5.3 million he’s allotted for homeless services.

Councilmember Nick Licata introduced two amendments, one to re-consider the declaration in January and the second to require the mayor’s office to update the council on spending on a bi-weekly basis. The first was rejected, the second accepted.

Although the council unanimously approved the $ 5 million, Licata and Councilmember Kshama Sawant made the case that the City needed to invest much more. Licata suggested diverting some of the City’s rainy day funds, although no specific action was taken.

Ducks will stay idle through end of year

at 3:51pm by Joe Copeland

A state investigation will keep Ride the Ducks Seattle off the streets (and Lake Union) until at least early next year, KING 5 reports. The Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission says it will need another month to finish its examination of the Ducks vehicles, and it is unlikely a commission hearing could be held during the holidays season.

Vote ... until 8 p.m.

at 2:59pm by Joe Copeland

General election ballots must be delivered to official voting spots or be postmarked in the mail by 8 p.m.

King County Elections’ list of voting return drop box and van pickups locations is here. It has accessible voting centers in Seattle (at Union Station), Bellevue and Renton; details here. 

Crosscut’s Election Guide is here. And our live blog is here.

Not the gum wall!

at 1:21pm by David Kroman

For the first time in 20 years, the reset button is about to get pushed on Seattle’s most unsanitary tourist attraction, the gum wall of Post Alley. For as popular as the attraction has become, it turns into a real mess every time it rains, sugar, dye and saliva streaming down the brick and cobblestone. The gum has become so thick that it will take more than a week of steam cleaning to strip the wall of its sticky decorations.

But fear not, chewers! Gum will be allowed again and the wall will be born anew. “The Wall is like the art that takes place behind it, constantly changing from the sharing of its participants and, like a good improv story, has a beginning, middle and end,” said Kent Whipple, marketing and development director for Unexpected Productions, the improv theater troupe that operates the Market Theater in Post Alley. “The Wall is ready to start a new story. We are excited to see the new incarnation.”

Could office rental market be hurt?

at 1:16pm by Joe Copeland

Safeco has decided to stay in its current office tower across the street from the main Seattle library, dealing a potential blow to commercial real-estate developers, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal. A Safeco official told PSBJ that the company will expand from its current 17 floors in the tower to take over 26 of the tower’s 50 floors and will undertake a complete renovation of all its floors to create a campus environment.

The Journal’s Marc Stiles notes that two major towers are under construction just a block from Safeco but have not yet announced any leases.


Monday 2 Nov, 2015

Seahawks' player undergoing surgery

Amazon Books to open at University Village

at 4:53pm by Leslie Holleran

This just in from the Irony Department: Amazon.com will have a new physical presence in Seattle as of Tuesday when it opens its literal doors at the U Village shopping center.

Just in time for the holidays, Amazon told its customers in an e-mail today, “We’ve applied 20 years of online bookselling experience to build a store that integrates the benefits of offline and online book shopping … there are thousands of books available in store.”

The store, located is a space previously occupied by Blue C Sushi, will be open every day except Thanksgiving and Christmas Day. But where can you turn if you want to buy a book those days?

NW aid groups tackle Syrian refugee crisis

at 2:39pm by Mason Bryan

With the Syrian civil war and the resulting refugee crisis forcing governments and organizations far and near to respond, the Seattle Foundation has compiled a list of resources and organizations providing support for Syrian refugees.

Among the organizations that Seattle Foundation recommends are three based in the Northwest. World Vision of Federal Way has helped more than 2 million children and adults, offering education and medical services for young refugees in Syria, Iraq, Jordan, Turkey Lebanon and elsewhere. Medical Teams International of Portland is providing services to Syrian refugees who are in Lebanon, and Mercy Corps of Portland is working with refugees in several countries in the region. The entire list of recommended charities is here.

The crisis has now taken more than 200,000 lives and forced millions to flee their homes.

KBCS 91.3 transportation series recognized

at 1:31pm by Leslie Holleran

A local public radio station has won national support for looking at transportation problems here: The national Association of Independents in Radio (AIR) has selected a project proposed by KBCS 91.3 for its annual Localore: Finding America initiative. KBCS’s project will focus on transportation issues faced by King County commuters, particularly its bus riders. Approximately 30 short audio segments and a few longer profiles will air on KBCS starting in early 2016 and be available on-demand online.

Mayor, County Executive declare homelessness state of emergency

at 1:21pm by David Kroman

Mayor Ed Murray and King County Executive Dow Constantine declared a state of emergency Monday — usually reserved for natural disasters and civil unrest —  in response to the City and County’s rising homeless population. At the same time, Murray and members of the Seattle City Council announced a $5.3 million package to tackle short-term and long-term problems of homelessness. Crosscut will have the full story this afternoon.

Seahawks’ Lockette undergoing neck surgery

at 12:58pm by Matt Spaw

Seahawks Wide Receiver Ricardo Lockette remains in Texas to undergo neck surgery Monday afternoon, following a devastating hit during a punt return during the Dallas Cowboys game on Sunday. According to an article by Sportspress Northwest, Lockette’s prognosis is good and he sent out an upbeat message on Twitter before the surgery for ligament damage.

Both the hit, by Cowboys safety John Heath, and Dallas coach Jason Garrett’s response, or lack of it, have been criticized by Seahawks players. Defensive end Michael Bennett said that Garrett should have come out on the field to check on Lockette, who was treated on the field for several minutes before being placed on a neck board to be taken to a hospital. Heath said he felt horrible.


Friday 30 Oct, 2015

Needed: Middle-income jobs

Foster care records to be examined

at 4:11pm by Joe Copeland

A King County Superior Court judge will allow InvestigateWest journalists to examine records it sought for an examination of how well the state is planning with young people for their future after they leave foster care. InvestigateWest argued for access to transition plans that the state Department of Social and Health Services create with young people approaching 18 years old, an age where they generally leave foster care. The plans are considered important in helping foster care youth prepare for life as young adults, and the pioneering news organization said that analyzing the records can help determine how well DSHS is serving young people. Judge Laura Inveen’s order will let InvestigateWest look at the records after information identifying the foster children has been redacted.

According to Investigate West, DSHS wanted the journalists to first apply for access through an institutional review board. The pioneering journalism organization argued that the requirement would be a violation of freedom of press protections, which include the ability to operate without government licensing. In a statement, IW’s attorney, Katherine George, of Harrison-Benis, LLP, said, “It shows that DSHS children’s programs are not immune from public scrutiny, and opens a new avenue for journalists to get behind the wall of confidentiality normally surrounding the state’s handling of abused and neglected children.”

Cougs ahead of Huskies on tossing away tobacco

at 2:43pm by Joe Copeland

Washington State University regents agree with a student vote to make the main campus in Pullman tobacco-free. The regents today prohibited smoking and other nicotine use campuswide beginning next fall.

WSU said in a news release that a task force found that there are more than 1,500 smoke-free campuses, and more than 1,000 that prohibit all nicotine use. Some University of Washington groups have been advocating for a tobacco free campus by 2017, but the U still lists some two dozen areas where smoking is allowed on campus.

Meet you in the middle

at 2:03pm by Joe Copeland

Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce CEO Maud Daudon tells Puget Sound Business Journal that the biggest challenge for the local economy is the shrinking of middle-income jobs. Those are ones paying $35,000 to $75,000. A study recently showed a 2 percent decline in local jobs with salaries in that pay range.

Still, she told PSBJ:  “I think we’re in a fantastic position overall. We have an economy that is really the envy of the nation right now.” But she says it’s important not to rely entirely on high-paying tech jobs but to concentrate on creating jobs across a much wider spectrum.

Thursday 29 Oct, 2015

Questions about how restaurant workers are doing

WA licenses: Not good enough at airports?

at 3:28pm by Joe Copeland

The federal government says it’s out of patience with Washington’s failure to update its drivers license, according to Associated Press. So, if you have a standard drivers license, you could find yourself blocked at airport security lines in as little as 90 days, the Seattle Times and AP report. There is an option (besides a passport): the state’s enhanced drivers license. The key issue is that Washington (and New Mexico, which was also put on notice) don’t require proof of legal residence. A number of other states offer only restricted licenses to people who don’t present proof of legal U.S. residence.

Sen. Curtis King, chair of the state Senate Transportation Committee, said the Legislature will try again in January to come up with a license that resolves the federal concerns.

Help wanted: Attorneys

at 2:17pm by Joe Copeland

A newly released report says that low-income Washingtonians face increasing burdens of civil legal issues — debt collection, health-care coverage, housing problems — with little recourse to attorneys or any professional legal services. A survey commissioned by the Washington Supreme Court shows that 7 out of 10 low-income residents runs into some civil problem over the course of a year. It also showed that families face three times the average number of civil problems they did a decade ago.

The suggested solutions include state funding of more civil legal aid attorneys and greater use of volunteer attorneys.

Report: Seattle’s restaurant workers still await better wages and benefits

at 1:21pm by Leslie Holleran

Seattle’s Restaurant Opportunities Center (ROC) has completed and released a comprehensive report of the city’s restaurant economy. The analysis, in which over 500 workers were surveyed, concludes that restaurant workers are still impacted by low wages and paltry benefits, in spite of the new minimum wage and a law mandating paid sick-leave.  According to the report – titled “Behind the Kitchen Door: the Highs and Lows of Seattle’s Booming Restaurant Economy” – 42.7% of restaurant employees reported receiving poverty wages and 73.5% report that they are not given paid sick-leave.

ROC calls upon policymakers to strengthen and enforce employments laws in the restaurant industry, and restaurant owners and employers to implement fairer workplace practices, such as increasing wages and communicating to workers about their benefits.

Wednesday 28 Oct, 2015

AG goes after 'organic' vaping liquids

Deal on Downtown development

at 3:06pm by Joe Copeland

A developer and tenant activists have a deal to allow a controversial construction project on an empty block across the street from City Hall. The Tenants Union of Washington State said that $5.7 million for affordable housing under the agreement is an “unprecedented victory.” Most of the money is contingent on the high-rise project actually being built, but $700,000 will be provided no matter what.

The project came into the City Council election campaign when a candidate, Jon Grant, said that a Triad representative had told him that plans for a large independent campaign against him would be dropped if he facilitated a deal with the Tenants Union, which Grant formerly headed. The Triad representative was let go.

But is it going ahead? Mayor Ed Murray, who has lost patience with the long promised project, says the deal changes nothing about his plan to pull a permit when it expires at the end of the year and the property won’t be developed by Triad, according to the Puget Sound Business Journal.

Kids, have some spending ideas for the city?

at 2:32pm by Joe Copeland

The city of Seattle is looking for people interested in helping to oversee an experiment in which the city will let young people ages 13 to 19 help determine how a half-million dollars will be spent next year. The “participatory budgeting project” grew out of discussions led by Councilmember Nick Licata about how to let citizens generally have control of how to spend parts of the city’s budget; Licata and Mayor Ed Murray agreed in July to let youth take part in the budgeting this year. The city Department of Neighborhoods is accepting applications by both youth as young 13 and representatives of groups serving young people to be part of a steering committee guiding the project, details here.

Port Commission candidate Goodspaceguy interviewed by Crosscut

at 2:06pm by Matt Spaw

In case you missed it: Perennial candidate Goodspaceguy had quite the confab with Crosscut’s Drew Atkins. Although his goals for the Port Commission (this year’s election target) do not directly relate to space travel, Goodspaceguy says that a strong economy with a high living standard is necessary to foster space exploration. Goodspaceguy says that he doesn’t think it would be smart to launch into space from the port — due to noise. But we like that you can tell that he really, really likes the idea of local space launches (if it weren’t for that pesky noise issue). 

Washington Attorney General goes after 'organic' e-cigarette liquids

at 2:03pm by Matt Spaw

Attorney General Bob Ferguson says he is taking action against three e-cigarette liquid manufacturers for deceptive labeling and advertising. These manufacturers sell their e-liquid as organic without being certified, Ferguson says.

According to a press release, Ferguson has filed a lawsuit against one of the companies—California-based Alchemy e-Lixir. And he has required two other companies — California-based Jai Mundi and New Jersey-based Orb Vapor — to enter into “Assurance of Discontinuance” agreements promising to change their labeling practices.

Separately, Ferguson has been working with Gov. Jay Inslee on proposed legislation to regulate e-cigarettes much more closely, along the lines of current controls on tobacco products. E-cigarettes are essentially unregulated in Washington.

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