Midday Scan: Thursday's top stories around the region

A move to save waterfront forest from development; linguistics for Occupy Seattle; Murray focused on Super Committee; a primer on density; "Seattle Times" offers a viaduct closure guide.

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Work moving ahead on Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement: The project, approved by Seattle voters, will soon have a construction bypass route on the surface, after this section of the old structure is torn down in a nine-day closure scheduled to start Oct. 21.

A move to save waterfront forest from development; linguistics for Occupy Seattle; Murray focused on Super Committee; a primer on density; "Seattle Times" offers a viaduct closure guide.

Gifford Pinchot, the father of the U.S. Forest Service, conceived the conservation ethic, "the greatest good for the greatest number for the longest time." It's an elastic-enough definition (the greatest good according to whom)? that its application is still wrangled over like a Talmudic text. In this morning's Seattle Times, Ross Anderson reports on the latest expression of "greatest good" maneuvering: An agreement between the Cascade Land Conservancy and Pope Resources to preserve 7,000 acres of woodlands in North Kitsap County. "The huge swath of undeveloped forestlands, including two miles of waterfront between Port Gamble and Kingston, had been scheduled for rural residential development, possibly into 20-acre ranchettes," Anderson writes. "But the Poulsbo-based timber and development company agreed to give conservationists 18 months to assemble the money needed to buy all or part of the land and prevent its development."  

A century ago, timber barons such as Frederick Weyerhaeuser would have had a difficult time imagining their lumber empires devolving into real estate enterprises. But times change. All the while, the Cascade Land Conservancy will need to raise a lot of money to succeed. Anderson quotes the conservancy's vice president, Michelle Connor: "This deal opens a door, but we still have to find the means to go through."

Many of us pretend to understand the mechanics of urban growth by tossing out buzzwords like "density," or "eco-development." Seattle's Chuck Wolfe offers an instructive primer on the history of modern urban-growth planning and the extended time it takes a brainstorm to come to fruition. "For many of today's advocates of creative cities, success cannot be achieved soon enough," Wolfe writes. "Common aspirations of sprawl avoidance, compact development, dynamic public spaces, ecosystem integration, and multimodal transit are increasingly touted in both the public and private sectors." Patience in this case is a virtue. "In reality, much time often passes between aspiration, mission statement, and common acceptance and/or implementation. Good ideas evolve and often merge along the way. And always, land use planning and regulation are impacted by fundamental principles of safety, jobs, education, and the politics of place," Wolfe notes.  

In addition, Wolfe's piece links to a very cool (and oddly prescient) 1959 video entitled, "Community Growth: Crisis and Challenge." It's worth a look.

There is good reason to celebrate Patty Murray's anemic fundraising numbers: the supercommittee co-chair apparently is not for sale. As the Seattle Times' Kyung M. Song reports, "The flow of campaign cash to Sen. Patty Murray all but dried up this summer, a period that coincided with her appointment to a powerful congressional deficit-reduction panel and criticisms about potential conflicts of interest with her fundraising."  

Fundraising didn't entirely tap out: Over three months, Murray still raised $31,000 for her 2016(!) re-election campaign. The humongous volumes of political money can be expressed in gradations: "Extremely gross," "gross," and "less gross." Murray's numbers fall under "less gross" relative to her supercommittee colleagues. Song writes, "Rep. Jeb Hensarling, R-Texas, Murray's co-chair on the deficit panel, raised $471,000 during the third quarter. Rep. Dave Camp, the Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, took in $705,000 — $90,000 of which came from PACs, including those representing health-care interests with stakes in the deficit debate — in the six weeks after he was named to the panel."

Berkeley professor George Lakoff may be too smart for his own good. The author of Moral Politics and Don't Think of an Elephant! is now applying his linguistic finesse to help activists frame the mission of Occupy Wall Street. "I think it is a good thing that the occupation movement is not making specific policy demands," Lakoff writes. "If it did, the movement would become about those demands. If the demands were not met, the movement would be seen as having failed."

Lakoff's premise could be Occupy Seattle's guiding text. "OWS is a moral and patriotic movement. It sees Democracy as flowing from citizens caring about one another as well as themselves, and acting with both personal and social responsibility. Democratic governance is about The Public, and the liberty that The Public provides for a thriving Private Sphere," Lakoff writes. Most writers respect Lakoff because he elevates the value of linguistics and word choice. Applying the Lakoff method to Occupy Seattle presupposes, of course, that those words are undergirded by a substantive movement.  

Lastly, recall former Mayor Greg Nickels's farsighted warning from a decade ago? "We need to move on the Viaduct before the Viaduct moves on us," Nickels said. The good news: We're moving on the Viaduct. The bad news: You may have a hard time moving yourself because we're moving on the Viaduct. As the Seattle Times Mike Lindblom reports, "The 1950s-vintage elevated highway, the star of car commercials and the bane of mayors, will close from 7:30 p.m. Friday to 5 a.m. Oct. 31, so its southern mile can be demolished as part of a project to eventually replace it with a tunnel." The solution? Stock up on antacids, rent some books on CD, and study the Times' Viaduct-closure guide.  

Link summary

Seattle Times, "Conseravtion group given chance to buy Port Gamble forestlands"

The Atlantic, "Remembering urban growth, from idea to implementation"

Seattle Times, "Murray fundraising down since appointment"

Huffington Post, "How to frame yourself: A framing memo for Occupy Wall Street"

Seattle Times, "How to get around while Viaduct's closed"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson