Midday Scan: Tuesday's top stories around the region

Gov. Rosellini, Tweeters beware, McGinn's Westlake tap dance, Metro's ban on political advertising, and Sightline's Alan Durning provides a neat glimpse of the soon-to-be-gone Elwha dams.

Crosscut archive image.

The Elwha River's Glines Dam (above), and an artist's rendition of what an unfettered Elwha could look like (below).

Gov. Rosellini, Tweeters beware, McGinn's Westlake tap dance, Metro's ban on political advertising, and Sightline's Alan Durning provides a neat glimpse of the soon-to-be-gone Elwha dams.

The most evocative and detailed of various tributes to former Washington Gov. Al Rosellini, who died Columbus Day morning at age 101, was written by the late Walt Crowley. The Seattlepi.com printed Crowley's HistoryLink essay in full, the surprise of a resurrected byline breathing life into a storied Washington politician. "Rosellini's first term was one of the most progressive and productive in state history," Crowley writes. "He created a separate justice and prison system for juveniles, modernized the mental health system, increased aid to universities and colleges, accelerated road construction, set up a merit system for state employees, and established the Department of Commerce and Economic Development. Under his leadership, the Legislature passed enabling legislation for the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (Metro, now part of King County) and Seattle's 'Century 21' world's fair."  

Rosellini's politics were solidly Democratic. As Crowley notes, "Although never an idealogue (he later broke with the left), Rosellini once summed up his view that 'Our American society has become truly democratic only in that social mobility from one economic class to another has been provided by the opportunities open to all through our [public] education system.' Without conscious political symbolism, Rosellini would later adopt a bright red rose for his political emblem." State lawmakers might study Rosellini's legacy, the political courage, savvy, and years demanded to bolster higher education and critical infrastructure, before they whack away at both without asking voters to (gasp) pony up and sacrifice for the greater good.    

Be careful what you tweet. The Oregonian's Sally Ho reports on the state's first Twitter-libel lawsuit. Tiffany Craig, a Portland scribe, has been hit with a $1 million defamation suit after she blogged and tweeted about the practice of a Tigard doctor, Dr. Jerry Darm. Ho writes that "Craig called Darm, 62, 'ubiquitous' for a television commercial advertising his Tigard-based medical spa, Aesthetic Medicine. Citing a 10-year-old order against the doctor by Oregon's Medical Board, Craig wrote, in part, that the doctor tried to get sex in exchange for treatment." What's compelling is the counter charge and its illustrative acronym, SLAPP. "Craig's lawyer, Linda Williams, filed a motion in August under Oregon's anti-SLAPP laws to get the case dismissed. SLAPP, or Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation, suits are recognized as threats or attempts to shut down speech on public issues by the heavy burden of a lawsuit itself." The courts will ultimately determine the outcome, either freedom of tweet or do not tweet, lest thee be tweeted upon.      

Either the kids are alright or they're not alright. You really can't have it both ways. As the Seattlepi.com's Chris Grygiel writes, Mayor Mike McGinn offered rhetorical fuel to the "Occupy Seattle" protesters just days after he demanded they pack up their tents and skedaddle. "At Westlake Park, which is in the center of the downtown shopping district, McGinn said the pattern of income inequality started gaining steam under President Ronald Reagan and had worsened in recent years," Grygiel writes. Sounding like a Northwest Huey Long, McGinn inhabited his former role as a Sierra Club gadfly while also donning his mayoral hat. It's something of an uneasy fit. Grygiel quotes the mayor, playing populist firebrand. "It felt like a small portion of the population was doing their best to grab a bigger share of a shrinking pie. And it's gone on long enough," McGinn said. How did former Democratic boss James Farley's 1930s toast go again? "To the 47 states of the Union and the Soviet of Washington."  (This morning, McGinn issued a press release on the demonstration, saying, "We wish to support valid free speech activities, while working to bring Occupy Seattle into compliance with applicable city rules and regulations.  Those efforts will continue.  The Mayor's Office and other city representatives are communicating with participants in the Occupy Seattle protests with the goal of resolving these issues.")

The Soviet of Washington (a not-so-applicable title after the high-tech and dot-com gold rush of the 1990s) also loves to dabble in international relations. Susan Gilmore of the Seattle Times reports that King County's effort to put the kibosh on bus signs alleging Israeli war crimes has survived the judicial test. "U.S. District Court Judge Richard Jones granted King County's motion for summary judgment. The case had not gone to trial," Gilmore writes. "In his ruling, Jones said the court recognized the need to protect free speech, 'but in light of the totality of circumstances of this case, the court concludes that King County's decision to reject the (advertisement) was a viewpoint-neutral and reasonable restriction in a limited public forum.'" Despite the outcome, the Seattle Mideast Awareness Campaign, which says it's considering an appeal, has kindled a fair amount of publicity. Tweeting is a more effective 21st-century medium anyway (just try to avoid libel suits).

Finally, the "last dam summer" of the Elwha dams is given full expression in this time-lapse video compiled by Sightline's Alan Durning and posted on High Country News. (There's also a cool series on the breaching of the Glines Canyon Dam). It's Heraclitus in motion: You really can't step in the same river twice.      

Link summary

Seattlepi.com, "Rosellini: 'Leading champion of working people' "

The Oregonian, "Oregon's first Twitter libel lawsuit pits Tigard doctor against Portland blogger"

Seattlepi.com, McGinn to 'Occupy Seattle:' 'Fight to get justice'"

Seattle Times, "Judge upholds rejection of 'war crimes' bus ad"

High Country News"Breaching the Elwha dams: A time-lapse video"

(Disclosure: Pete Jackson is a board member for HistoryLink.org.)


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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