Midday Scan: Boeing's early Christmas present; Seattle Schools' debt crisis; Oregon's newest celebrity

Boeing scores big with its 737 MAX; Seattle Schools gets caught with its hand in the $50 million cookie jar; Oregon goes gaga over a studly young gray wolf.

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A gray wolf in Pend Oreille County, Washington.

Boeing scores big with its 737 MAX; Seattle Schools gets caught with its hand in the $50 million cookie jar; Oregon goes gaga over a studly young gray wolf.

It began with a lion-lamb canoodle, as Boeing made peace with the Machinists, the 737 MAX landed in Renton, and the unpleasantness of the National Labor Relations Board's action against the company's South Carolina plant was put to rest. Christmas, it seemed, came early. How early? The Seattle Times reports this morning that Boeing received its largest order. Ever. "Southwest Airlines has placed the largest firm order in Boeing history to become the launch customer for the 737 MAX, Dominic Gates writes. "The Dallas-based carrier ordered 150 of the proposed new version of Boeing's workhorse single-aisle jet featuring a new fuel-efficient engine. The airline also ordered 58 model 737s."  

Gates notes that this is Boeing's largest airplane order as well as the highest price tag. Just as critical, the Southwest surprise is a counterweight to Boeing's bete noire, Airbus. "The Airbus A320 neo, which was launched a year ago and is scheduled to enter service two years earlier than the MAX, has won almost 1,500 orders and commitments from 26 customers. It received a massive boost at the Paris Air Show in June when AirAsia ordered 200 of the jets," Gates writes. "With the Southwest order, Boeing is beginning to catch up. The 737 MAX now has orders and commitments for more than 900 airplanes from 13 customers." Take that, Europe.   

If only Olympia could emulate the Boeing-Machinists' marriage. They seem so happy, those two. Instead, lawmakers are opting for a decisionmaking divorce that drop-kicks who keeps the junker car and who pays the mortgage. As the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes, the special session is a profile in sublime do-nothingness. "State lawmakers reached the halfway point of their special session Monday with an agreement to shave off a quarter of a $2 billion budget problem without making a serious nick in any program or major change in any policy," Cornfield writes. "The school year isn't shortened, inmates aren't released, early and subsidized health care for the poor is preserved in a deal which fills $480 million of the hole."  

What about a sales-tax boost? (true, it's regressive and Washington could do better). Even that, the who-pays-the-mortgage question, gets kicked to next year's regular session. Rep. Ross Hunter offers an emblematic read. "If we had difficulty negotiating something, it fell off the table. These are the least controversial things we could do," Hunter said. Curiously, one item lawmakers managed to find time to cut: "$30,000 for printing of publications tied to the Legacy Project run through the Secretary of State's Office." It seems they hope that the legacy of a do-nothing special session won't be documented.

Maybe if Seattle School administrators listened to Jimi Hendrix, they wouldn't be on the hook for a $50 million glass palace. "Castles made of sand fall in the sea, eventually," Hendrix sang. Hendrix's wisdom is especially resonant when the castle in question doesn't pay for itself. "A decade after Seattle Public Schools administrators built a central headquarters with a promise it would pay for itself, the district acknowledged Monday it still owes nearly $50 million on the building and has no serious plan for how to pay for it," the Seattle Times Brian M. Rosenthal writes.

"The district has until 2027 to pay off the debt. But the amount is so large that it will necessitate some hard choices for a school district already struggling with twin financial crises of state budget cuts and serious overcrowding at some schools." Rosenthal offers a thoughtful, comprehensive analysis.

There's a wolf loose in Western Oregon and he's not in a fraternity (cue drums). "A young gray wolf has become an overnight celebrity, captivating a worldwide audience with his epic 730-mile trek searching for love and a place to start a new pack west of the Cascades," the Oregonian's Richard Cockle writes. "The 2 1/2-year-old male known as OR-7 is the first confirmed wolf in more than 60 years to set up housekeeping in western Oregon. He now roams a 100-square-mile region between Crater Lake and the high country north and east of Medford."

How popular is OR-7? He can be found on 300 different websites, Cockle writes. Arguably, Oregon's wandering wolf merits a proper name, not simply a number. How about "Dion?" (readers know why.)     

Lastly, if Darcy Burner isn't elected to Congress in 2012, she might consider a future career as a cosmopolitan. "Darcy Burner is running for Congress in Washington’s 1st District, but is venturing far from the Kitsap Peninsula, south Snohomish County, and the Eastside," the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "She recently flew to a conference in Berlin to talk about ending the Afghan War, and is now headed to New York to discuss implications of the Occupy Wall Street movement." Sounds like good training.   

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "Largest Boeing order ever: Southwest wants 208 737s, including 150 MAX"

The Herald, "Lawmakers reach deal to cut $480 million, but avoid controversial proposals"

Seattle Times, "Schools face $50M in 'glass palace' debt" 

Oregonian, "OR-7--Oregon's wandering wolf--captures imagination of worldwide audience"

Seattlepi.com"Darcy Burner: The Far afield candidate" 


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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