Midday Scan: The history-in-the-news edition

From Seattle to northern Snohomish County, history casts a long shadow over news developments about police, jobs, and outdoor recreation.

Crosscut archive image.

The fire lookout on Green Mountain in the Glacier Peak Wilderness.

From Seattle to northern Snohomish County, history casts a long shadow over news developments about police, jobs, and outdoor recreation.

Everett's Kimberly-Clark mill sits on an engineered coastline and looks West across the salt water of Port Gardner Bay. It rests below the bluff like a decommissioned fort, eerily silent.

The mill, built in 1935, is the waterfront's now-and-then ledger, the ageless uncle in the family pic. Once crowded by industry, the Kimberly-Clark mill looks unstylish and old-school opposite its neighbor, Naval Station Everett. It's the City of Smokestacks' last big mill, and its recent closure has scissored a labor and cultural thread that was a social cohesive for generations. The fallout is well documented in Voices of the mill, a must-read series running in the Herald through Sunday. Today's profile of forklift operator Joanne Moore, a nearly 40-year veteran of the mill, is illustrative (the series is supplemented by video interviews with former employees.) 

"Joanne Moore has this memory from her early days working at the Scott Paper Co. in 1973," the Herald's Debra Smith writes. "She was grabbing a dozen toilet paper rolls at a time and packing them in boxes. They came out so fast, Moore just 18 years old, could hardly keep up. Her dad, Vince Mardesich, came by on a forklift and she caught his eye and screeched, 'I can't do this!' 'Yes, you can, Joanne,' he told her."

Congress: For five weeks or for a lifetime (with apologies to Bothell.) The recent resignation of Rep. Jay Inslee to pursue his gubernatorial bid fulltime has ignited a debate over how and when to fill his congressional seat. The governor announced on Thursday that she plans to move forward, and the most likely scenario involves the election of a de facto caretaker who would serve from his or her election in November through December. (Note to voters: This is the kind of stopgap gig well suited for Midday Scan's non-insured author.)   

"Inslee's departure has created particular confusion because Congress is going through redistricting and the 1st District will be dramatically reshaped. That means voters may end up voting twice for 1st District representation in November," the AP reports in a story carried by King5.com. "Gregoire said she is still working with officials in both Olympia and Washington to determine the appropriate way to hold the election. The person who wins the special election in November may end up representing the old 1st District for only a few weeks before the new 1st District representative is seated in January." 

Pressure groups often win the battle but lose the war. In the case of Wilderness Watch, an enviro watchdog based in Montana, it could scuttle both in its battle to raze an historic fire lookout in the Glacier Peak Wilderness Area. Wilderness Watch won in court this week, but the ripple effect will sour locals and likely compel lawmakers to remedy the ruling through federal legislation, grandfathering in the lookout.

"A federal judge has ordered the U.S. Forest Service to remove a historic lookout from Green Mountain in the Glacier Peak Wilderness," The Herald's Gale Fiege writes. "The mood was sour at the Darrington Historical Society meeting Wednesday evening as people were met with the news that U.S. District Judge John Coughenour ruled in favor of a Montana-based conservation group that sued to have the lookout removed."   

The question revolves around a literal interpretation of the National Wilderness Act of 1964, and if the use of a helicopter (a no-no in a national wilderness) during the lookout re-build means the Civilian Conservation Corps-era structure must be destroyed. The Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly isn't charitable in his analysis. "with the Green Mountain Lookout — and a lawsuit that blocked reconstruction of the Suiattle River road — extreme green groups have successfully blocked access and enjoyment of trails and campgrounds in the western half of this half-million-acre wildland."

Progressives won't have state Sen. Val Stevens to kick around anymore. Stevens, 73, has decided not to seek re-election from her rural Snohomish County district, once a redoubt of New Deal liberalism that is now populated by conservative and libertarian-leaning voters.   

"Stevens is leaving after four terms at the far right flank of the Washington State Legislature," the Seattlepi.com reports. "She has served as a director of the conservative American Legislative Exchange Council.  She authored a resolution calling on Congress to initiative a Constitutional Amendment that would restore the selection of U.S. Senators by state legislators, replacing direct election." She was also, the Seattlepi.com notes, no friend of gay rights. In one fundraising letter she declared, "Are the homosexuals finally going to take control of our culture and push their depraved lifestyle on our children and families?"    

Lastly, Seattle cops may need to purchase copies of Murray Morgan's Skid Row, in keeping with Mayor McGinn's just-announced police reform initiatives. Why? As the Seattle Times Mike Carter reports, Seattle officers should be steeped in local history and appreciate the city's social, ethnic, and political culture. Hooray for history (hat tip, Knute Berger.)

Link Summary

The Herald, "The Last Smokestack: Voices of the mill" 

King5.com"Special election in works to replace Inslee" 

The Herald, "Judge orders removal of historic lookout in wilderness"

Seattlepi.com, "Anti-gay legislator retires"

Seattle Times, "Seattle mayor announces broad initiative to improve police force"


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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