Midday Scan: Ms get political about new arena plan

Perhaps looking out for themselves and their own future, the Mariners send a strongly worded letter to city and county leaders telling them to go somewhere else with the new arena.

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The Seattle Mariners logo.

Perhaps looking out for themselves and their own future, the Mariners send a strongly worded letter to city and county leaders telling them to go somewhere else with the new arena.

Baseball, like nuclear arms control, is driven by strategy. So, what is the endgame when the Seattle Mariners weigh in against a proposed Sodo arena the day before the final meeting of the Arena Advisory Panel? A hypothetical sports team doesn't have much leverage, and the Mariners could be reminding the city and county to enhance what they've already got instead of looking to the next big splurge. Or, maybe, there's no subtext, and the Mariners are simply worried about the attendant storm of Sodo traffic. (That's a big "maybe.") 

"In a strongly worded letter to city and county leaders, the Seattle Mariners say to find another spot for a new sports arena," the Seattle Times' Lynn Thompson writes. "'The proposed Sodo location, in our view, simply does not work,' wrote team Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Howard Lincoln, in a letter Tuesday to Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, King County Executive Dow Constantine and members of the Seattle and King County councils. 'It would bring scheduling, traffic and parking challenges that would likely require hundreds of millions of dollars to mitigate.'" 

The Lincoln letter reflects a coordinated strategy. In addition, for underemployed scribes (meaning all scribes) the Mariners' maneuvering could spell a remunerative new gig. Thompson writes, "over the past few days the Mariners' opposition to the arena location appears to be intensifying. The Public Facilities District, which oversees Safeco Field, where the Mariners play, is advertising for a public-affairs specialist to coordinate the team's response to the proposed location of the new arena."  

It's an Orwellian dilemma, when good unemployment news spells bad news for the unemployed. In Washington, an 8.2 percent unemployment rate is an encouraging sign of an invigorated economy. It's encouraging enough, in fact, for the feds to shut off the spigot.  

"The recent news of a falling Washington unemployment rate in the long run is good news for the state’s economy, but for some 12,500 long-term unemployed workers, it soon will have a much darker effect." The Olympian's John Gillie writes. "Those job seekers’ unemployment benefits will be terminated after April 21, the state Employment Security Department announced Tuesday. An additional 11,000 job seekers will lose their emergency benefits within eight weeks of that date, and by year’s end 40,000 more unemployed workers will be in jeopardy."  

Does the legislature have an endgame, or a strategy, or a Mariners'-like eye to the future? A strategy presupposes lawmakers can mimic a team and unify behind a common vision. Instead, they're playing it one day at a time (apologies to Crash Davis from 1988's Bull Durham.)  

"No budget deal is in the offing at the state Capitol yet, and to hear minority Republicans the Great Olympia Budget Impasse is alive and well as lawmakers work into their fourth week of a special session," the Olympian's Brad Shannon reports in an article in the News Tribune. "But House Democrats are putting their newly modified budget plan out for the public to see Wednesday morning. They also scheduled hearings on bills that Majority Leader Pat Sullivan says are signs that Democrats have "moved" toward compromise with Senate Republicans, who want to see reforms that trim the long-term cost of government." It's not an inspired way to end the season.  

In the new 1st Congressional district, it could be the Tea Party versus Netroots (at least if a new poll is to be believed). As Publicola reports, "Conservative Republican Snohomish County Council member John Koster, the likely Republican candidate in the 1st District Congressional race, released polling numbers today that show him with a commanding lead over the pack of six Democrats who are also running."

One takeaway is that lefty Darcy Burner registers highest among the Democrats, an indication of name recognition and/or an effective, grassroots campaign. Nevertheless, it's early spring and most campaigns are just gearing up. For Democrats assuming Koster will be easily defeated because of his decidedly conservative record, however, it's worth revisiting the example of the late Rep. Jack Metcalf. A right-wing Metcalf, who represented the Democratic-leaning 2nd Congressional district from 1995 to 2001, was amiable and unpretentious. At times in politics, personal style can obviate ideology.  

Lastly, we know how evil wolves are, menacing young girls in red-riding hoods and donning zoot suits and smoking in alleyways (at least, if the wolves in 1940s Warner Brothers cartoons are an accurate portrayal). While there are only two documented cases over the last century of a wolf killing a human in North America, it doesn't mean wolves shouldn't be shot for sport in the Idaho hinterlands, yes?  

"Depending on your point of view its been a good season or a tragedy. Hunters killed 252 wolves, and trappers 123, for a total of 375 wolves. Fish and Game sold about 43,300 wolf tags for the 2011-2012 season," the Idaho Statesman's Rocky Barker writes. "That left a population of about 570, Fish and Game biologists estimated last month. If you don’t think we have enough wolves to function ecologically, as the Defenders of Wildlife does, this season’s been a disaster."  

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "Mariners tell city, county: Don't put another sports arena in Sodo"

The Olympian, "Good news for state's economy is bad news for the unemployed"

The News Tribune, "Impasse cracking? House offers budget, bills"

Publicola, "Koster's new polling numbers"

Idaho Statesman, "Idaho hunters and trappers kill 375 wolves"


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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