In 1975, the late U.S. Sen. William Proxmire conceived the-not-so-coveted Golden Fleece Award to spotlight the latest taxpayer-funded boondoggle. "Winners" included a $200,000 curriculum to teach college students to watch television (Midday Scan's author received an A+) and a $57,800 FAA study of the physical measurements of flight attendants. Against this exalted standard, does Seattle's new viaduct museum rise to Proxmire-Fleece notoriety? As the Seattle Times' Danny Westneat writes, "The viaduct museum, with its dubious purpose and $490,000 price tag, comes at a time the state is said to be in its worst fiscal crisis since the 1930s."
Thankfully, Westneat does his homework and sidesteps reflexive ridicule. "When the $1.8 billion Brightwater sewage facility opened out near Woodinville a few months ago, it included an $8 million conference center with meeting rooms, lending library and dressing room for events such as weddings. You better believe people scratched their heads over that one, too. Why would a poop plant need any of that?" Westneat writes, "Obviously, it doesn't. Except for one crucial detail. The plant probably would never have been built without it."
In fact it's mitigation (or horse-trading or politics). Pioneer Square will take a hit during the tunnel's construction, and this is a tangible way to say "sorry about that." As Westneat writes, "It's just a cost of doing business."
"Scarcely any political question arises in the United States that is not resolved, soooner or later, into a judicial question," Alexis de Tocqueville wrote 150 years ago. The United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21 and the Joint Council of Teamsters 28 have, it seems, been reading their de Tocqueville. As The News Tribune's Peter Callaghan writes, on Tuesday the unions filed suit in King County Superior Court to put the kibosh on Costco's liquor-privatization Initiative, I-1183. "The state constitution does not allow two subjects to be covered in a single piece of legislation. That avoids the type of shenanigans that goes on in Congress where an unrelated bill is tucked inside a completely unrelated law," Callaghan writes. "But whether the so-called Costco initiative that won easily last month includes two subjects might be a stretch." Disregarding the merits of I-1183, this lawsuit focuses on a narrow legal question of a two-in-one. As Callaghan notes, "Again, it all has to do with liquor distribution and sales, which a judge might well consider one subject. But then, that’s what judges are for."
Rather than over-tip your Blue Moon bartender tonight, consider salting away a dollar to purchase the historic Kalakala ferry. As the Seattlepi.com's Nick Eaton writes, "The Kalakala ferry — yes, that hunk of junk which sat on Lake Union for years — is up for sale. And for just a buck." Too much of a good thing for history mavens? Consider it something of a fixer-upper. "In August and again in November, the Coast Guard sent letters to the Kalakala’s owner. It wants improvements to the ferry’s thin and brittle hull, so that it won’t sink if towed. It also wants improved mooring and a towing plan," Eaton writes. The Kalakala's owner, Steve Rodrigues, declared, "Salvage companies not welcome!" In a statement, Rodrigues wrote that he was looking for a,"qualified and motivated investor or buyer as alternatives to assure the full restoration of an incredible maritime historic ship with global, social and cultural significances." Global significance? Ah, to tip or not to tip.
Mayor McGinn and the Seattle Police Department are looking to pre-empt an upcoming federal report on alleged bias and the overuse of force by the SPD. "Addressing concerns raised by the U.S. Department of Justice, Seattle Police Chief John Diaz has ordered a 'complete revamp' of how the Police Department develops its 'professional standards and expectations' for officers and has created two new panels to oversee the use of force," the Seattle Times' Steve Miletich writes. "The Police Department also is conducting a 'top-to-bottom review and rewrite' of its policies and procedures and invited the Justice Department to assist in that effort, Mayor Mike McGinn revealed in a letter sent to federal attorneys Tuesday."
Reform is generally a positive step. Hopefully it will be meaningful but, as Hemingway warned, "Never mistake motion for action."
Lastly, to no one's surprise, Everett and Bellingham have shouldered past Seattle in yet another key index. As City-Data.com documents, of the top 101 cities with the lowest average amount of sunshine, Bellingham ranks first and Everett comes in a close second. The Emerald City? An unimpressive fourth.
Seattle Times, "Why a $490,000 Viaduct museum now?"
The News Tribune, "Unions file suit against private liquor, I-1183"
Seattlepi.com, "Old Kalakala ferry up for sale for just $1"
Seattle Times, "SPD plans major oversight changes"
City-Data.com, "Top 101 cities with the lowest average sunshine amount"