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Saturday, February 21, 2004

I love it When

The big newspapers mention our little berg in the middle of nowhere.



Death penalty OK for Cop Killer Suspect

Charles Champion will face the death penalty. It's hard to say his crime is worse than Ridgway's, but the judge punted on those grounds. It will probably make it to the state supreme court though.

A King County judge on Friday refused to throw out the death penalty in the case of an accused cop killer, even though Green River killer Gary Ridgway didn't have to face death.

Superior Court Judge Anthony Wartnik denied the request made by attorneys for Charles Champion, who is charged with killing Des Moines Police Officer Steven Underwood on March 7, 2001.
...
Wartnik said he had ``grave concerns'' about the fundamental fairness of a death penalty system that ``lets a Gary Ridgway successfully bargain for his life.''

Champion attorney Rita Griffith, when asked if the defense would file briefs on the fundamental fairness issue, replied, ``Of course we will.''



Viaduct Money

I know I'm not the only one who finds it odd that a mayor is asking the federal government for money for a state highway. I mean is this because the state refuses to act? If so people who drive on the viaduct regularly should file some sort of lawsuit. Because that isn't surviving a big earthquake.

As the Alaskan Way Viaduct settles a bit, Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels is seeking $1 billion in federal funding to replace the aging structure.

Nickels asked for the money in letters to the U.S. House Transportation Committee as Congress prepares to act on a six-year transportation-spending bill. He is seeking the money under the committee's proposed "mega-projects" initiative.

"The viaduct is the No. 1 transportation priority in our state, and time is running out to replace it," Nickels said in a statement


edited to add a shiny link



Friday, February 20, 2004

Cool

The monorail has pictures of what areas along the route will look like (click "VISUALIZATIONS"for specific neighborhoods).



$76 Million

Given the recent predictions that there would be a billion dollar shortfall for the next biennium, the $76 Million from the slight uptick in the economy won't be all that much. Still it means less of a tax increase or fewer cuts to services. So yeah it's still a small percentage of the problem solved, and not much on the job front.

Washington's ``painfully slow'' economic recovery is continuing to show modest gains -- but few new jobs -- and will pump an unexpected $76 million into state coffers, state officials said Thursday.

State budget Director Marty Brown said the extra money, combined with recent lowering of school enrollment projections and other savings, should make it easier for lawmakers to produce a no-new-taxes supplemental state budget in the next three weeks.

House Democrats plan to roll out their budget proposal next Tuesday, and majority Senate Republicans will counteroffer a different version one day later. The regular session ends on March 11.

Editedfor some faulty math.



Governor Signs High Tech Taxbreak Extension

I have mixed feelings about this. We should be making our tax system as even as possible across the board (I have no problem taxing bigger companies at a higher rate, but there is something weird about taxing ag at a different level as manufacturing for example). That way the market can decide what works best in the area.

On the other hand, the Boeing is an established Washington company. And high tech is a wave of the future. So there may be more bang for the buck in keeping their taxes low as opposed to other sectors.



It's Probably the Right Thing (but it hurts)

Boeing is slowing down its development efforts on the 767 refueling tanker program, which could result in the loss of up to 50 local jobs, 100 contract jobs in Wichita and the redeployment of 600 more at the two sites.

In a note to employees Friday, Boeing CEO Harry Stonecipher said Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has called for "a pause in discussions" as a series of reviews of the tanker deal is undertaken



Pipeline

So B-Ham, as the kids are calling it these days, wants to put some more pipelines up. But Fuel Safe Washington is opposed to it. Keep up the fight, ladies and gents.



Thursday, February 19, 2004

Church/State Eh?

This is the sort of thing a civil libertarian like myself would like to get upset about. But it turns out I don't care say what the senate says. And congrats Catholic schools.

In other legislative action, the Senate earlier this month honored the state's Catholic schools following the conclusion of Catholic Schools Week Jan. 25-31.

Adopted Feb. 3, Senate Resolution 8700 saluted the approximately 28,000 students in 91 Catholic elementary and secondary schools around the state, honoring their "academic excellence and faith-based instruction." The senators praised the dedication of Catholic school educators to "produce academically strong students who also commit themselves to service." And they noted Catholic schools "greatly help relieve the financial burdens" placed on public schools. "Catholic schools have trained many of the finest leaders in professions and occupations throughout this state and nation," the resolution said.



More 8th District

I didn't realize how Democratic it had become in recent years. I've argued that as Bellevue has moved from suburb to big city in its own right that it has taken a leftward bent. But I didn't realize how much. The Stranger reports:

Historically, the 8th Congressional District has voted staunchly Republican, and Dunn drew solid majorities in her races. In recent elections, however, the 8th has otherwise shown signs of trending Democratic. Senator Patty Murray won the district in 1998, and Governor Gary Locke and Al Gore both outpolled their Republican opponents there in 2000.

Given that the seat is one of only two currently Republican House seats in the country that will be open in November in districts carried by Gore, political consultant Christian Sinderman, who is working for Alben, says that the race is of tremendous national significance, and will likely be one of the most expensive in the country.

Alben announced last month that he'd raised $290,000, much of it his own money, but says fundraising has taken off since Dunn announced her retirement. The race will now cost substantially more than the $1.5 million goal he spoke of last September, but with national Democrats smelling a big win, Alben does not expect to have trouble raising the necessary cash.



Sanders Does it Again

I don't know what they're paying him at the Stranger, but it isn't enough. His analysis of the Gay rights groups in Washington state and their fall is probably his best reporting since he blew the lid on Gay City's insanity.

edited to change the link to something more permanent



$244,000 Buys A lot of Awesome

synchronization of county 60 traffic lights specifically. Mostly in Northend cities. It's part of an ongoing effort from by county.

Travel time is about 30 percent faster after Renton last year synchronized 16 lights in the corridor traveling east from the city center.

The 2004 projects include:

• Ten signals along Seattle's Northwest Market Street from 24th Avenue Northwest in Ballard to Third Avenue Northwest in Fremont.

• Twenty-four signals along Greenwood Avenue North from North 65th Street to North 145th Street.

• Three signals in Shoreline on Northeast 175th Street from Meridian Avenue North to 15th Avenue Northeast.

• Three signals in Bothell on 195th Street Northeast from North Creek Parkway to 120th Avenue Northeast.

• Six signals in Kirkland along Northeast 85th Street from 114th Avenue Northeast to 132nd Avenue Northeast.

• Six signals in Federal Way on 21st Avenue Southwest between Southwest 336th Street and Southwest 312th Street.

• Nine signals on East Lake Sammamish Parkway Southeast in Issaquah between Southeast 43rd Street and Gilman Boulevard.



That was Always my Favorite Protest

When I lived in Olympia. The anti tuition hike protest. Somewhere there's some B-roll from King 5 of me in a suit and tie chanting at the state senate with a bunch of dirty hippies (just kidding, many of the other people were somewhat clean hippies). These always seem to happen after the deadline for passage out of one house, but they happen consistently, so maybe that's something.



Oops

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., violated federal election law by failing to disclose large loans to her campaign just prior to her Senate election in 2000, the Federal Election Commission has ruled.
In late 2000, as she entered the home stretch of a closely fought race against three-term incumbent Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., Cantwell arranged two large bank loans totaling about $3.8 million.

Under FEC rules, Cantwell should have disclosed the complete terms of both credit lines before the November election.

But she didn't do so until Jan. 30, 2001 — after getting two letters from the FEC requesting additional information.



Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Good Luckabay (sorry in advance)

Sammamish mayor Kathy Huckabay will be running for the state senate seat vacated by Rossi.

Huckabay, a Democrat, said she would work to encourage economic growth while:

* protecting the environment, wildlife and natural resources;

* funding public education;

* expanding higher education;

* building a transportation system that can drive economic growthl[sic]; and

* improving health care for seniors and families.



Driving craziness

The King County Journal has a new column about driving. It seems so far to just be a place to complain, but given the state of motorists in the area, I don't blame them. My favorite is:

``I think it is fairly safe to generalize that nobody in King County knows how to merge,'' wrote Nicole Hagerty.

I bring this up to tell my own story from driving home today. I'm on I-5 going north before rush hour, so it was pretty clear. This was right at downtown, so there are exits on the left side. Anyway someone in front of me goes to turn into the left lane, and he just gets half way across and is taking up 2 lanes, but he keeps going. So its like 30 seconds of this guy being in both lanes and he starts to slow down. He's going 40 half way in the left and half way in the second to left lane, and I honk at his ass, and he speeds up and goes into the correct lane, and eventually exits. But seriously even if he was lost or something, that was awful driving.



I Love Arlan Hatloe

EVERETT -- It's old, rusting and stinks like fish. And some Everett officials are unhappy that the vintage ferry Kalakala might soon be parked on the city's waterfront.

"I would hope it sinks on the way here," City Council President Arlan Hatloe said Tuesday. "It's been an eyesore while on Lake Union, and I'm afraid that if it gets here, that old rust bucket will be sitting here forever."


Edited HTML problems



I'll Give up the Bike Lane

If the monorail opponents give up their bitching. I mean my ideal solution is to have the trains run closer and give the passengers large sticks to bang on the windows of the people who are complaining about the route. But I don't mind losing the bike lane. I'm too far north to use it much, but even when I'm down there I don't see many people using it. And it's only one way, and downhill, so it won't be too bad for traffic if bikes ride in the road.

Of course the trains won't actually be a problem. They will be plenty far away, and they will be plenty quiet. And as I've mentioned before, it will run through the middle of a major metropolitan area, so it isn't like it's quiet at the 4th floor window looking onto 2nd anyway.



Viaduct

The PI is reporting Murray isn't happy with the RTID (Pronounced art-id, if you like).

Regional transportation leaders who achieved something of a consensus last week after more than a year of stalemate are headed in the wrong direction and need to better fund two crucial projects -- the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Evergreen Point Bridge, a powerful state lawmaker says.

The entire seven-member executive committee of the Regional Transportation Investment District signed a letter last week proposing a joint road-light rail ballot with Sound Transit for November.

But Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, chairman of the state House Transportation Committee, is unhappy the group is pushing funding for light rail and Interstate 405 ahead of what he sees as the two highest-priority projects of the region: the viaduct and the Evergreen Point Bridge.

But here's the thing I don't understand. Why should the RTID paying for any of it? Those are both state highways. Shouldn't people like Murray be the ones ponying up the cash? Especially on the viaduct where their inaction could easily lead to people dying in a relatively minor earthquake, the legislature should fund one of the 3 projects to replace the viaduct with some sort of capitol budget by the end of the session.



Tuesday, February 17, 2004

OK, you Convinced me

Law Dawg (I know) says since the blogosphere helped give us a Democratic Victory we should help ol Alex Alben. And who am I to disagree with someone who calls themselves Law Dawg? I aint' nobody. So there you go. I'll put a more permanent link to some of the Dems running on the bloggerroll soon. The 8th could be one of the best wins of the whole country next year.



South Lake Union Park

This would be awesome. Between Jack Block, and this new expansion of South Lake Union Park Seattle is really making a wonderful improvement in open space. It may not be the commons, but it is doable. And it still looks pretty awesome.

For those at the boat center, which has had its home on the lake for the past 27 years, the park will be a much-welcomed neighbor.

"Despite how beautiful the general surroundings are, Seattle lacks for open space and green space and access to the water," Bennett said. "This is a great example of the fulfillment of that."

Edit: I thought I should give y'all a Jack Block link since I did mention it. And yes I realize it isn't a Seattle park, but it is a park in Seattle.



We'll have to see if he Fights

Or lays down again. Governor Locke is supporting the $1 Billion school initiative. It will be interesting to see how hard he fights. In the past he's come out for or against certain initiatives, but except for I-200 he generally stayed above the fray. Now in what could be his final legacy and without the shackles of running for reelection, he might lead the charge. I would love to see that.



Governor Candidates and SEIU

It was such a good endorsement for Dean (I kid, it was good for him despite his eventual fall).

OLYMPIA — The three Democratic candidates for governor yesterday made their final pitches for the prized endorsement of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU).

Attorney General Christine Gregoire, King County Executive Ron Sims and former State Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge took turns trying to win the hearts of the more than 500 SEIU members at the two-hour forum.



Monday, February 16, 2004

Much Better

House Bill 2598 will allow people from far flung corners of the state to appeal state agency rules in several places not just in Olympia. This is good news in a state that can take a good portion of the day to drive across.



I don't Understand it, but I like it

BELLEVUE -- This city could become one of the first in the nation to develop a water purification system that could slake the public thirst in the event of a major emergency such as an earthquake or terrorist attack.

Bellevue officials are poised to apply for a $500,000 federal grant from the Department of Homeland Security to pay for five reverse-osmosis water purification units.

In the event of a catastrophe that disables the city's water system and depletes all the water in Bellevue's 22 reservoirs or tanks, the units could be trucked to Lake Washington or Lake Sammamish. Once in place, a diesel generator would power the units, which can purify water at the rate of 600 gallons per hour.


I read the whole thing and I have no idea how "reverse-osmosis" works.



Abortion billboard

There's a Billboard on Lake City Way near the city line that has a picture of a smiling baby and a tagline to the effect that life begins a conception (I tried to find a picture on the web, but didn't know what to search for or even if it's there). I was thinking about this, and decided these were two contradictory messages. If these anti abortion groups felt that a cluster of cells was important human life why would they go with the baby picture? I mean no pro choicers think we should be killing the baby in their picture. It turns out that even hardcore anti abortion activists think there's a difference between a few cells and a baby.



Sunday, February 15, 2004

Poetry!

Nethercutt hasn't responded to my letter a few days ago. I mailed it off to his campaign with a footer saying that I ran a blog and the address. He's had time to respond. I figure since he responded angrily the next day when the PI paraphrased him correctly, that if he had any issues he'd write back. So we can operate under the assumption that he doesn't mind being called crazy or characterized as hating America. As such I've written some poems on the fact that he thinks it's bad to mention that a guard member had to pay for his own body armor. And by the way, if anyone has a good rhyme for Kevlar, let me know.

First a Limerick:

There once was a guy Nethercutt
Was really a pain in the butt.
Heard of a national guarder
Who paid for his body armor.
The wannabe Senator said so what?

Then a haiku:

Liar about term
limits thinks guardsman's trouble
is not important

Use the comments for more poems.



Charter Schools

Charter schools have twice failed at the ballot. One of those failures was more recent than I-695. But legislators who keep demanding that any tax increase go to the voters want to push charter schools on the public. Some localities don't like it very much.

Last week, the Snohomish School Board joined Everett and a few others around the state in passing a resolution that opposes the bill, HB 2295.

The Snohomish board said it opposed the bill because charter schools drain resources from other public schools, they're not overseen by elected officials and because voters rejected charter-school proposals in 1996 and 2000.

House staff working on the bill said the reaction from school districts across the state has been split. Some believe such schools could work because they would cater to the individual needs of students better than a public school.



Malpractice Caps Alone Won't Keep Insurance Low

A review of malpractice rate increases last year by Medical Liability Monitor, an independent reporting service that tracks medical professional liability trends and issues, shows that states without caps on noneconomic damages had the lowest -- and highest -- rate increases: Wyoming had no increase; rates in Pennsylvania jumped 45.16 percent.

Increases last year in states that limit noneconomic awards in malpractice cases ranged from 3.1 percent in Kansas to 41.2 percent in Virginia.

Washington's increase was 8.3 percent.



Moving My Favorite Eyesore

The Kalakala is moving to Everett. I don't know what the attraction of the boat is. I mean it's so rusty it looks decrepit from the freeway. And it probably still smells like fish.

I've never understood the sentiment of longing for "old Seattle" that so many folks around here have. Maybe because I'm a transplant. The skyline looks so much prettier now than when I moved to the area a decade and a half ago. Really it's as nice looking as it's been since the Smith Tower dwarfed the rest of the city. And you can walk downtown better than almost any other city.



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