Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.
December 19, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Thanks to our readers for your thoughtful and interesting comments in response to the Seattle City Council’s draft plan to regulate app-powered ridesharing services in Seattle, such as uberX, Lyft and Sidecar.
In this Monday Opinion Northwest post, I argued that the city’s proposed efforts to regulate these popular new services using old-school standards punish innovation and do not increase consumer safety or choice. The council is considering whether to limit each of these ridesharing networks to 100 vehicles and many drivers to 16 hours per week. A vote is expected sometime early next year, so now is the time for a robust public discussion.
Here’s what some of you have to say about whether and how ridesharing should be regulated:
Absolutely. In an effort to live according to our environmental and urbanist values, my wife and I got rid of our car a year ago. We walk, ride our bikes, take the bus and use a number of ridesharing services to get around town. We rarely use traditional taxis because they are unreliable, especially when you need them most (i.e. rainy weather) and the service is usually not very good. Just try paying with a credit card and the driver has to run your card through an old-school carbon-copy machine. It’s like returning to last century. In contrast, the rideshare services have much better service (just ask the drivers how they like their jobs), are more convenient and are available when you need them most because of pricing that responds to demand.
By stifling these innovations, it becomes harder for people to become less dependent on cars, which contributes to the ongoing cycle of ever-increasing traffic congestion. Seattle thinks of itself as a city that embraces innovation and forward thinking. However, on this issue, our City Council is way behind.
— Gabriel Grant, Seattle
No. All this does is hurt the taxi and for-hire drivers who have worked hard to play by the rules. The stated demand is simply for a cheaper service. These new companies aren’t modeled on providing a cheaper service on a level playing field, they simply pick off the taxis’ best fares and do so without licensing fees, safety or insurance standards. This isn’t a new market segment against the established taxis, it’s the black market versus the law-abiding market.
Level the playing field. The current proposal is TOO lenient on these illegal black market rideshare companies.
— Pat Flanagan, Seattle (more…)
October 30, 2013 at 4:37 PM
Is it OK to turn off the porch light, hide in the basement and not open the door on Halloween to give out treats? Our Wednesday editorial, “Don’t be a deadbeat on Halloween,” said no and we asked readers to weigh in with their thoughts. Here are some edited excerpts from reader responses
I love Halloween. Our neighborhood is fairly popular for trick-or-treaters and on average we go through about 25 bags of candy. It is really fun to not only give out candy but to watch kids have such a great time. I have blown out the candle in the pumpkin and turned off the porch light but that is later and only because we had a particularly good year and ran out of candy before we had hoped. Those who turn off the lights and pretend not to be home are the ones missing out.”
— Clarence Geyen, Mill Creek
I’m one of them. Last time I checked, this was still a free country and we can treat … or not, as we choose.”
— Lorna Lou, Mountlake Terrace
I think that’s their prerogative and I don’t think any more or less of them. Halloween is not a mandatory participation activity.”
— Skye Koontz, Seattle
My dogs bark and have to be controlled. I only get teenagers who aren’t in costume and say, ‘I’m dressed as a high school student for Halloween.’ Most parents take their kids to organized events these days, so what’s the point? My light will be off.”
— Hilari Anderson, Seattle
Orthodox Jews, who live in several Seattle neighborhoods, such as Seward Park and Ravenna-Bryant, would not give out Halloween treats because Halloween is a holiday that espouses beliefs and traditions rooted in pagan Samhain and the Christian All Saints Day that are inappropriate for Jews to participate in.”
— Lynn Gottlieb, Seattle
And the growing sense of entitlement continues to spread. I have absolutely no problem with people leaving the light off, going out for the night or just ignoring the doorbell. It’s not something I would do — my wife and I look forward to seeing the costumes each year — but everyone certainly has a right to not spend their money on candy for strangers and to not get up and answer the door every 2 minutes all evening. And if the kids and their parents can’t handle it, too bad. May their bags be filled with Tootsie Rolls.”
— Doug Walsh, Snoqualmie
October 29, 2013 at 5:00 PM
Is it OK to turn off the porch light, hide in the basement and not open the door on Halloween to give out treats? Our Wednesday editorial says no. Here is an excerpt:
Certain blocks have become Halloween deserts, where an enterprising trick-or-treater practically needs a dowsing rod to locate some Reese’s Pieces.
What do you think? Share your thoughts with us below. We’ll share the most interesting responses on the Opinion Northwest blog.
October 2, 2013 at 5:23 PM
On Monday we asked our readers: “Have you experienced the government shutdown?” Submissions have been coming in this week. Below are a few of the responses we’ve received, showing the human impact caused by the “high drama” of shuttering government. If you would like to contribute to our coverage, enter your submission in the form at the bottom of this post.
“My husband and I both work for the EPA and were sent home Monday. We work in the Superfund program where hazardous waste cleanups are now continuing without government oversight. We’ve got money saved, but many ‘feds’ live paycheck-to-paycheck and none of us know how long we’ll be off work or whether we’ll get paid for the time off.”
— Lynne Kershner, Seattle
Feeling the federal government shutdown here in Chimacum. Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park just canceled their large order we just washed and packed for them. Hopefully this all will be cleared up soon, for all the federal employees and programs — as well as for us lowly farmers.
— Karyn Williams, Red Dog Farm, Chimacum
Went to the McChord AFB Commissary Tuesday for regular shopping. Total madhouse. Amid signs and PA announcements that advised the Defense Commissary Agency is shutting down all stores in the continental U.S. until funding is approved by Congress. Imagine the impact of these huge stores losing all the fresh meat and produce during a forced shutdown? Plus the impact on our young enlisted personnel families losing this vital benefit?
— Ben Yount, Federal Way
I work in math advocacy and spend a lot of time on the U.S. Department of Education website finding and using education research. This is the message I got when trying to access the website: “Due to a lapse of appropriations and the partial shutdown of the Federal Government, the systems that host ies.ed.gov have been shut down. Services will be restored as soon as a continuing resolution to provide funding has been enacted.”
— Aimee Krol, Seattle
My daughter finally got a federal job last week after at least seven years trying. She has a master’s degree and has been working for little more than minimum wage as she has sought professional level work in her field. The job requires her to move to another state. Now she is in limbo about what to do concerning her current job, her move, etc. Her family has been financially struggling for years. They don’t need this added stress and confusion.
— Diane Bommer, Port Townsend
I’ve had a passport appointment for two weeks that was canceled today due to the shutdown. I’m supposed to travel internationally in 3 weeks. If the government doesn’t get its act together soon, this trip I’ve been planning for so long obviously can’t happen.
— Jessica Mautone, Berkeley, Calif.
My 7-year-old daughter became fascinated with Zion National Park after her best friend visited there this summer. I surprised her by organizing a backpacking trip there leaving Oct. 2, complete with hard-to-get backcountry campsite reservations, plane tickets to Vegas and a rental car. The parks shut Oct. 1; I canceled that night. I lost $350 and she cried and cried. I figure we are the lucky ones though. At least I still have a job. At least we aren’t depending on federal money for cancer research for a family member.
— Brad Traum, Issaquah
October 1, 2013 at 8:15 AM
In “Breaking Bad” a Washington state drama, Walter White’s blue meth would’ve been the bomb 10 years ago.
That’s when, by some measures, meth peaked as the drug of choice. It was an “epidemic” in news reports (including mine).
But meth’s decline has skipped notice. Like Walter White (no spoilers), meth skipped town, but is still dangerous.
The Department of Ecology spill response section’s 20 years of data on methamphetamine contamination sites is the best single measure of the rise and fall of local meth production (above). When state troopers or rural cops bust a lab, the guys in yellow from the DOE show up (click here for county-level data). The past several years aren’t on the chart, but spill response manager David Byers reports that the trend continued: 95 in 2010; 46 in 2011; 84 in 2012; and 37 through August 2013.
Another measure — state hospital admissions with amphetamine diagnosis — tracks a similar pattern (right).
This trend reflects huge emphasis and resources — and a smarter strategy than just busting down meth-lab doors. Local police tracked meth-lab cooks as if they were mafia kingpins. And Washington in 2010 joined at least 18 other states in a national effort to track, via pharmacy sales, the precursor ingredients used to manufacture meth.
All this is not to say meth has vanished, like Saul Goodman’s vacuum-cleaner guy’s deluxe package. This report from University of Washington’s Alcohol and Drug Abuse Institute shows that meth is the fourth-leading drug cited as primary for King County treatment admissions in 2012 (alcohol 3,438; heroin 2,064; marijuana 1,834 and meth, 955). But the curve has been bent.
You know what hasn’t changed? Government’s willingness to spend money fighting a shrinking meth trade. Sen. Patty Murray “saved” the state meth initiative in 2010 with a $2.2 million federal appropriation.
DEA Assistant Special Agent in Charge Hank Schrader would be proud.
July 29, 2013 at 11:58 AM
SeaTac residents are on the verge of possibly voting for what would be the highest minimum wage in the country. This is the time to ask questions. Lot of them.
Last Tuesday, the SeaTac City Council voted to send the SeaTac Good Jobs Initiative to the November ballot without changes. It would have gone there regardless after Working Washington, an organizing arm of the Service Employees International Union, collected thousands of signatures in May.
Supporters of the proposal argue it will pull transportation and hospitality workers in and around Sea-Tac Airport out of poverty by increasing wages from $9.19 to $15, starting in January 2014.
However, some business owners say a hefty 62 percent increase in hourly wages would force them to close or limit hiring.
Initiative backers contend living-wage increases in other West Coast airports in San Jose, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Francisco have not led to such dire consequences.
Expect a long and heavily funded debate on this issue. If the SeaTac initiative passes, it is likely to head to other cities in Washington. Look at what’s happening in Seattle alone, where Mayor Mike McGinn has opposed Whole Foods’ efforts to expand in West Seattle unless it increases worker pay and fast-food workers have filed complaints against employers for wage theft.
Here are some early questions and concerns about the initiative: (more…)
July 29, 2013 at 7:09 AM
My recent column took on a sobering report by economists at Harvard and University of California at Berkeley that poor children growing up in certain cities will have a far more difficult time escaping poverty than others. Check out this New York Times interactive and map of the “Equality of Opportunity” project.
The reasons make sense: some cities, Atlanta for example, are sprawling behemoths where good jobs, schools and housing are located geographically out of reach for low-income families, many of whom often lack cars or other reliable transportation. Cities most likely to engender success, including Seattle, have strong economies and accessible public services.
Readers responded with views that often diverged on their personal ascents out of poverty:
Anna Bee wondered what researchers, and my column, meant by economic “success.” This reader also appeared to take issue with my mentioning social safety nets as key to successfully moving out of poverty.
“I am betting it has everything to do with how graciously one accepts handouts. I’ve never been good at that. We just weren’t raised that way. Maybe it is because our zip code was always changing so that my mother and father could keep us fed without having to ask for hand outs.”
Good ole Preposterousness from Idaho offered a sobering truth: “In today’s economy you can do everything right, including being born in the correct ZIP code, and still fall out of the middle class.” Indeed. (more…)