Midday Scan: Seattle's new gun problem proves bullets don't discriminate

A rash of gun violence takes down innocent Seattle bystanders, but McKenna and Inslee still aren't pulling any punches when it comes to nasty ads. In the other Washington, Gregoire points fingers at pols for our infrastructure issues.
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A rash of gun violence takes down innocent Seattle bystanders, but McKenna and Inslee still aren't pulling any punches when it comes to nasty ads. In the other Washington, Gregoire points fingers at pols for our infrastructure issues.

Random urban violence, the kind associated with dystopian crime films of the 1970s, is rarely visited on Seattle. Most residents are cocooned, secure in the social contract that violence only falls on scofflaws and gang members. Bullets don't discriminate, however. 

"A man waiting to cross the street near Seattle Center was shot in the leg Saturday night, the second bystander in three days — and the third in recent weeks — to be caught in gunfire, continuing a troubling increase in the number of shootings in Seattle since the start of the year," the Seattle Times' Sara Jean Green, Sandi Doughton and Bob Young write. "More violence erupted early Sunday: In four drive-by shootings in South Seattle, gunmen fired more than 60 rounds, riddling four houses and several cars with bullets. Miraculously, no one was hit; a teenage girl dived to her bedroom floor to avoid being shot." 

Last week's murder of Justin Ferrari, a forty-something dad who was driving with his family when he was hit by a stray bullet, provoked a groundswell of grief and hand wringing. (The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat wrote a poignant tribute.) Ferrari's violent death, like most senseless, indiscriminate crimes, resonates for empathetic and self-preserving reasons. "I can't recall any crime in Seattle that was more 'it could have been me' than the slaying last week of Justin Ferrari," Westneat writes. 

When in doubt, blame Washington, D.C. Political gridlock has a price, often hindering the distribution of federal largesse. And no region of the country is more fed-dependent than the American West. Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire, in Washington.D.C. this week, is pressing the point. 

"With federal money for highways set to dry up June 30, Gregoire fears that the extreme partisanship of members of Congress is threatening the state’s ability to maintain both its roads and its finances," the Olympian's Rob Hotakainen writes. "'I don’t know that, collectively, they have an understanding of the impact it has outside, in a state,' Gregoire said. Unless Congress acts in the next five weeks, Gregoire said, the state’s mega-projects 'are all at risk,' including the upgrade of the Columbia River Crossing between Vancouver and Portland, as well as plans to replace the floating bridge between Seattle and Bellevue and the Alaskan Way Viaduct along Seattle’s waterfront."

Gregoire's points are valid, although the finger-pointing is best captured in the final lines of the Oscar-nominated song, "Blame Canada." "We must blame them and cause a fuss/Before someone thinks of blaming us!" 

McKenna or Inslee? It doesn't matter. Come November, voters will have soaked in so many negative political ads that it will be impossible to picture either without imagining a drooling, sepia-toned Peter Lorre or Bela Lugosi. Prepare to be haunted, dear voter.  

"We can't avoid the TV ads. What the (organized) public should agitate for is to see McKenna and Inslee go mano a mano in debate — not just feud over debate venues. It's time for civic groups and colleges and newspapers and TV stations to start pressuring both campaigns to sign up," the Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes. "Send 'em around the state. The City Club up in Bellingham puts on top-notch issues forums. I've seen 500 people pack into an auditorium at Lower Columbia College in Longview. With the unemployment rate in Southwest Washington, Inslee and McKenna need to go there and say what they'll do about it."  

The Oregonian features a fascinating editorial on the state's changing demographics (the state remains one of the ten whitest in the country.) Are progressive Oregonians prepared for the shifting tide? 

The editorial notes, "Sadly, Oregon has an ugly history of keeping nonwhite people away, down or on their way out. It's been only a decade since vestiges of overt racial discrimination were eliminated from the state's constitution. It hasn't been two years since the city of Portland discovered in blind field testing that folks perceived to be of minority origin were having a harder time renting apartments than white applicants." 

Lastly, where can you buy cheap hooch? Someone will need to keep tabs as the state girds for the June 1st switch to privatized liquor. As the AP's Shannon Dininny writes, "You might want to stock up on tequila and rum if margaritas or mojitos are on your summer menu, because prices are likely going up at many retailers this week — and prices are just one of several big changes in store when Washington state abandons its long-held place in the liquor business."  

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "More gun violence shakes a worried city"

The Olympian, "Partisan gridlock in Congress threatens state's projects, finances" 

Seattlepi.com, "'Clean campaign' for governor? Given the stakes no way, non way"

Oregonian, "Editorial: The new meaning of minority in Oregon" 

The News Tribune, "Wash. opens up liquor sales; prices could go up"



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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