A few ancient Buddhist koans should be scrubbed and updated for the 21st century. "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" is serviceable. But how about "What does a public-sector business scheme consistent with the public interest look like?" (consider this mouthful the policy-wonk koan). On Wednesday, Gov. Chris Gregoire revealed her Buddha nature and presented a $9.8 million plan to land the 737 MAX that looks, at least on the surface, suspiciously consistent with the public interest (except for the business-and-occupation tax-break extension, it might even pass the Occupy Seattle smell test).
As the Everett Herald's Michelle Dunlop writes, "Gregoire's plan calls for $7.6 million to go toward adding capacity for 775 extra engineering students at University of Washington and Washington State University. About $1.5 million will go for creating a research center. Additional money would be directed toward K-12 programs." With aerospace education as its centerpiece, the governor's plan should draw bipartisan support. (All of the recommendations flow from a study by the consulting firm Accenture). Dunlop writes, "Although similar calls to action for more aerospace training and education have fallen short, Gregoire said she was confident this one will work even amid a budget deficit. The governor has reached out to legislative leaders for their support."
So what could go wrong? Crosscut's Matt Fikse offers a trenchant analysis that concludes, "all of these packages may seem like peanuts in comparison to the largest, most delicate issue likely to be in the air: the relationship of Boeing and organized labor with each other, and how both are prepared to work together so the company can take advantage of the legendary skills in the Pacific Northwest and local area workers can take advantage of having a job." Let's hope so. Alas, Puget Sound competitor Texas, like Boeing, has many more Baptists than Buddhists.
Seattle has found its Mother Jones (or more accurately, its Hazel Wolf) As the Atlantic Wire's John Hudson writes, "The new face of the youth-fueled Occupy Wall Street movement is none other than an 84-year-old woman who's spent her life crusading for liberal causes. The image of pepper-sprayed Doril Rainey has quickly gone viral across Twitter, Facebook, and Tumblr."
In fact, Doril Rainey has become a symbol and a force greater than herself. Her lefty-activist background is instructive. "Rainey has been active in politics and Seattle public life since the 1950s. A former schoolteacher, she ran for a seat on the King County Council in the 1970s and lost," Hudson writes. "During the same period, she was a school board member in Issaquah, a nearby city. Last year, she ran for mayor but eventually withdrew from the race saying, 'I am old and should learn to be old, stay home, watch TV and sit still.'" Radical politics notwithstanding, you've got to a love an octogenarian with a blog called Old Lady in Combat Boots.
The criminal investigation of just-re-elected Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon merits an avuncular "let's hope it's not true." For now, the recrimination headwinds are fierce and growing stronger. As the Seattle Times' Emily Heffter and Steve Miletich write, "A woman who prompted a criminal investigation into Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon's travel spending said she took multiple county-paid trips with the executive where he did little or no official business."
Here is the unfortunate and tawdry kicker: "The woman — who has known Reardon for 20 years and asked that her name not be used — told The Seattle Times on Wednesday that she took the trips during a longtime affair with Reardon, who is married," Heffter and Miletich write. "The woman, a county employee, said she took the trips to U.S. cities where Reardon ostensibly was attending conferences. When asked what the two did, she said, 'Not much. He wasn't working.' " Reardon denies any wrongdoing. One disheartening line in the story likely signals the beginning of the end, however. "Asked whether he had an affair with the woman, Reardon said he would not comment."
Ugh. The day after the election, Midday Scan cheerfully predicted, "Presupposing Reardon weathers the pending investigation, his political future looks promising." Midday Scan now takes back this un-Norse-like sanguineness. If there is a scintilla of truth to the allegations — an affair and/or a documented violation of the public trust —not only is Reardon's political career over, he ought to resign.
Is there a downside to urban densification? Well, it's complicated. In this morning's Tacoma News Tribune, Sara Schilling describes one fallout of urban annexation. "A swath of land that includes one of the Puyallup Valley’s last remaining daffodil farms will be taken into the City of Puyallup in January, making it easier for a longtime agriculture family to sell it and for buyers to develop it," Schilling writes. "The Puyallup City Council Tuesday finalized the long-awaited annexation of nearly 114 acres northeast of the city.
The area also includes some other farmland, a small number of homes and the Shaw Road overpass." For the city of Puyallup, the annexation and subsequent development will spell more tax revenue for infrastructure and vital services. For the farm owners, it's a retirement windfall. Willing buyer, willing seller. All the while, the intangible value of open space and agricultural land close to an urban core gets lost. Would the property have qualified for an agricurtural conservation easement? Arguably the authors of Washington's 1990 Growth Management Act hoped to avoid these kinds of outcomes.
Lastly, the Oregonian's editorial board provides a thoughtful tribute to mark the 25th anniversary of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area. "It wasn't a pretty start. But 25 years later the gorge act is almost everything its supporters dreamed," the board writes. "It has largely protected one of the world's most stunning landscapes. It has purchased and opened to the public thousands of acres of formerly fenced-off private lands. And up and down the gorge it has created more economically diverse, more vibrant local communities." Who were the heroes? Oregon Gov. Bob Straub, the late Sen. Mark Hatfield, and fomer Washington Gov. and then Sen. Dan Evans.
Everett Herald, "Gregoire outlines $9.8 million plan to win Boeing 737 MAX"
The Atlantic Wire, "Dorli Rainey's History of Activism before she became an Occupy Icon"
Seattle Times, "Reardon used county trips for affair, employee says"
Tacoma News Tribune, "City of Puyallup absorbs farmland"
The Oregonian, "A thing of beauty turns 25"