Midday scan Wednesday: pot reform money; racing a fish virus; hopes in job darkness.

Respectable money goes to marijuana (the initiative campaign, not the drug); Joel Connelly warns about that salmon virus; the 520 bridge helps Aberdeen's economy.

Crosscut archive image.

Respectable money goes to marijuana (the initiative campaign, not the drug); Joel Connelly warns about that salmon virus; the 520 bridge helps Aberdeen's economy.

The Costco of cannabis? Or at least of an initiative campaign. Think the revered doyenne of a venerable Northwest family, Harriet Bullitt. As the AP's Gene Johnson writes, Bullitt is providing a financial infusion to the campaign for Initaitive 502, a signature-gathering drive to ask the Legislature to tax and legalize marijuana in Washington. If the Legislature fails to approve the measure, it would go on the November 2012 ballot. "New Approach Washington said it received a check Tuesday for $100,000 from Harriet Bullitt, a philanthropist and environmentalist from one of the state's most prominent families," Johnson writes.  "And by the end of next week it expects to have $200,000 more from Progressive Insurance Co. Chairman Peter Lewis who has already given $50,000."  

This doesn't appear to be your hippie-uncle's campaign. Initiative 502 boosters include Seattle City Attorney Pete Holmes and former U.S. Attorney John McKay (consider them "Suits for Sensimilla") The initiative would be a watershed of sorts, closely monitored by pro-marijuana organizers nationwide. Curiously, the campaign has triggered blowback from marijuana friendlies in part for its incrementalist approach (not to mention guffaws from the lucrative medical-dope industry). The political takeaway: Every 2012 candidate from sewer commissioner to governor will be asked 1) How do you plan to vote? 2) Did you ever inhale? and 3) Big Bud or old-school White Widow?

You looking for money? A decade ago, the joke in Olympia was "just make sure you reference salmon." Money for a hospital? "Lots of permeable surfaces to mitigate runoff to benefit salmon." An arts group? "We'll produce a Martha Graham dance program that mimics native coho returning to spawn." Alas, the era of salmon-centric funding is over. Today, fishery survival is the watchword. As Joel Connelly writes in this morning's Seattlepi.com, a deadly virus could imperil a Northwest treasure.   

"Infectious salmon anemia, or ISA, has now been detected in two Canadian locales nearly 400 miles apart. The ISA virus was earlier found in two steelhead taken near Rivers Inlet on the British Columbia coast. Now it's in the Fraser River, one of the world's greatest salmon streams," Connelly writes. "Does this give reason for alarm?  Damned right it does." The ISA virus has devastated farmed Atlantic salmon in Chile, and massive industrial fish farming is clearly the source of the epidemic. "Salmon farming is a big deal in British Columbia. Salmon pens can be seen — and smelled — in such renowned recreation destinations as Clayoquot Sound on Vancouver Island, and the Broughton Archipelago between the island and the B.C. mainland," Connelly writes.  

On Tuesday Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell and Alaska's Lisa Murkowski voted in support of an amendment that "requires federal scientists to investigate and come up with a rapid response plan to prevent the spread of infectious salmon anemia." Cantwell notes, "Pacific Northwest wild salmon support tens of thousands of local jobs. We need to take immediate action to protect these jobs by quickly developing a salmon virus action plan."

Where some just see humongous pontoons, Aberdeen sees jobs. As the Seattle Times' Susan Gilmore writes, the state Department of Transportation's decision to award Aberdeen a $367 million state pontoon contract for the 520 bridge replacement has breathed life into Grays Harbor's anemic economy. "The pontoon project will produce 300 union-wage jobs over several years," Gilmore writes. "While it's not the only burst of recent good news for Aberdeen, it's clearly the most visible."     

Gilmore notes the irony that the pontoon project is being built on a former log yard. For five generations, timber was emblematic of Aberdeen's resouce -based economy. Not anymore. "The pontoon project is projected to pump millions of dollars into Grays Harbor County before it's completed in June 2014," Gilmore writes. "Already, workers are renting hotel rooms and buying houses, eating at restaurants and shopping at such places as Home Depot and Safeway. Retail sales are up 25 percent from a year ago in Grays Harbor, said LeRoy Tipton, president of the Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce." Coupled with a thriving port, it's welcome news for Aberdeen.  

We have met the enemy, and it is Walmart. Or our own land-use laws. Probably no corporation in American history has been more adept at capitalizing on urban land-use and development regulations to land big-box stores than Walmart. On Tuesday, they outdid themselves, as the Tacoma City Council cleared the way for a Walmart Supercenter in central Tacoma despite the city’s temporary ban on new big-box stores. As the Tacoma News Tribune's Lewis Kamb reports, the council was legally bound to green light the project. "Several council members said Tuesday that while they didn’t necessarily like it, the city’s hands were effectively tied. The Walmart application already had been deemed complete and was 'vested' when the council’s original moratorium kicked in Sept. 1, they said. That meant the development was destined to happen, moratorium or not," Kamb writes. The irony? The Walmart proposal was the impetus behind the city's big-box moratorium in the first place.  

Lastly, Starbucks seems serious about bolstering small-business employment. As the Seattle Times' Melissa Allison writes, "Beginning Tuesday, thousands of Starbucks locations across the country began encouraging customers to contribute toward small-business lending that Schultz believes will lead to job growth." And, yes, Starbucks is hiring as well.   

Link Summary

Seattlepi.com, "Wash. initiative to legalize pot ger cash boost"

Seattlepi.com, "A West Coast salmon epidemic: Get ahead of it, and get Canada off its behind"

Seattle Times, "Aberdeen buoyed by 520 bridge"

Tacoma News Tribune, "Saying it has no choice, Tacoma council passes Walmart proposal 6-3"

Seattle Times, "Starbucks cranks up its own jobs plan" 


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


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