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April 9, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Should a new Seattle waterfront include a Viaduct park?

The airbrushed sketches for a glittering new Seattle waterfront lack rain, authenticity (as Crosscut’s Knute Berger notes) and maybe (as the Times’ Danny Westneat joked) a few Disney princesses. They also lack any hint of the Alaskan Way Viaduct that has dominated the waterfront for 60 years. That’s why my ears perked when Seattle…


0 Comments | Topics: alaskan way viaduct, parks, Seattle waterfront

April 7, 2014 at 7:10 AM

Should Snohomish County landslide site be memorialized?

The scope of the Snohomish County mudslide is difficult to grasp. Aerial photographs lack the scale of a one mile-square disaster scene. Up close, evidence that an entire missing neighborhood – a red child’s hat, a twisted metal stair railing, the torn American flag now hanging in a command tent ­– have been so chaotically mixed in with fallen cedars and piles of mud that it’s equally easy to lose the scope.

Jonathan Martin / Seattle Times

Photos by Jonathan Martin / Seattle Times

What should the site look like in the future? Should Highway 530, which is still under 20 feet of mud in spots, be rebuilt, or moved? What of the Steelhead Haven neighborhood? The rescue and recovery efforts focus on the fringe; the force of the slide was so great it shoved everything out there, leaving 75 foot-high haystacks of mud dotting the former neighborhood.

Should the entire site be memorialized into something like a park?


0 Comments | Topics: oso mudslide

April 3, 2014 at 6:42 AM

$15 makes Seattle outlier compared with other cities that raised minimum wage

Nine city or county governments across the country have increased their minimum wage. A University of California, Berkeley study commissioned by Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s income inequality committee concludes that a higher wage floor can increase productivity and reduce turnover, cushioning the macro-economic cost. Based on studies, it suggested companies could “adjust to higher…


0 Comments | Topics: business, economy, minimum wage

March 28, 2014 at 6:25 AM

The ‘theoretical’ and ‘practical’ of a Seattle $15 minimum wage law on tipping

Washington is one of just seven states that does not allow a lower wage for tipped workers; if you give a tip, it’s on top of a wage that is at least $9.32 an hour. It’s a settled issue. The federal minimum tip wage is an appalling $2.13 an hour, meaning that waitress in Idaho who calls you “hon” really needs that 20 percent tip.

File photo from a March 5 public hearing before Mayor Ed Murray's minimum wage committee at Town Hall. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

File photo from a March 5 public hearing before Mayor Ed Murray’s minimum wage committee at Town Hall. (Dean Rutz/The Seattle Times)

But the $15 minimum wage issue is re-stirring debate over whether it should come with a lower tip wage, or some acknowledgement that “total compensation” of workers includes tips. A state food service industry wage survey shows only chefs and managers made more than $15 an hour (including tips), but my bartender friends say that ridiculously low-balls tips.

The last panel of Mayor Ed Murray’s Income Inequality Symposium Thursday at Seattle University offered an entertaining exchange on the pros and cons of a tip law.  Eric Pravitz, an earnest nail salon co-owner who supports a minimum wage which counts tips, sat next to Saru Jayaman, a charismatic restaurant industry advocate who denounces tip wage laws as a “draconian, sexist system.” It was very Seattle: they clearly thought each other nuts, but in a friendly way.


0 Comments | Topics: minimum wage, Seattle

March 21, 2014 at 11:53 AM

A bipartisan push to save state research funding

Democrats in the state House and Senate are asking Gov. Jay Inslee to veto a portion of the state budget, even though nearly all voted for the budget.

They seek to preserve funding for the Life Sciences Discovery Fund, a public-private partnership which has used money from the tobacco settlement to seed research. The final budget agreement cut $9.8 million from the fund, a compromise down from the Senate’s earlier proposal to drain $34 million and effectively close it entirely.

In a letter to Inslee, 17 Democrats and one Republican (retiring state Rep. Mike Hope of Lake Stevens, who voted no on the budget) rightly argue the Life Sciences Discovery Fund has shown a strong return on investment.

Funded by Tobacco Settlement money, LSDF has produced a nearly 8:1 return on Washington’s investment, including over $396 million in additional funding and more than $67 million in health-care cost savings.


0 Comments | Topics: Washington State Legislature

March 12, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Another important mental health reform… gets delayed

Doug Reuter is most likely leaving Olympia Wednesday morning a frustrated man.

Doug and Nancy Reuter (Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times)

Nancy and Doug Reuter (Bettina Hansen / Seattle Times)

He and his wife Nancy moved to Olympia from Texas this winter to lobby the Legislature on a mental-health reform bill they believe would’ve saved their son’s life. The Joel Reuter bill, as it’s become known, passed the House 96-0, due in large part to their amazing advocacy.

It simply would allow family members to seek judicial review if a mentally ill loved one is denied emergency psychiatric hospitalization. Right now, there is no means to contest a denial by the gatekeepers of involuntary commitments. As Doug Reuter points out, supposedly progressive Washington ranks 49th in the nation for community psychiatric beds, and is an outlier on this issue too. Forty-five other states already allow judicial review, which the Reuters used to get their son help in Arizona.


0 Comments | Topics: legislature, mental health

March 3, 2014 at 6:25 AM

The $30 million February snowstorms

To drive across Snoqualmie Pass in mid- to late-Feburary was to play chicken with weather. The pass opened and closed like the Fremont Bridge, as state crews swept and re-swept the suddenly snowy pass. I was fool enough to nearly get stuck twice. This traveler’s hassle, however, was a golden ticket for Northwest energy generation. On…


0 Comments | Topics: bonneville power administration

February 27, 2014 at 6:25 AM

‘Pray the gay away’ therapy ban stuck in state Senate

Until 1973, homosexuality was medically classified as a mental disorder. The vestige of that fundamentally wrong notion — that same-sex attraction is an illness to be cured — lives on in the fringes of psychology through the practice of “gay conversion therapy.” In the coming weeks, Washington should become the third state to ban such “treatments”…


February 25, 2014 at 6:25 AM

Cascade Bicycle Club apologizes for creepy email

The Cascade Bicycle Club got valuable real estate on Monday with a front page Seattle Times story on the club’s pivot toward a “more inclusive” recreation-first group. But the CBC took advantage with a rather a creepy email to members.  (Yes, I’m a member.)

Here’s an excerpt:

Let me introduce myself. I’m Bike “I’m smarter than you” Bot, the Director of Cascade’s Intelligence Agency.*

I’m not human. I’m an internet program that’s been trolling through how many emails you’ve been opening from the Cascade Bicycle Club and how many actions you’ve been taking.**


0 Comments | Topics: advocacy, cascade bicycle club, cycling

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