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Join the informed writers of The Times' editorial board in lively discussions at our blog, Opinion Northwest.

Topic: Seattle

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July 23, 2014 at 6:02 AM

School supply drive update: Workplace giving helps students in need

In Wednesday’s opinion section, the editorial board shined a spotlight on Hopelink, one of the three beneficiaries of The Seattle Times’ annual school supply drive.

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics, which is hosting a school supply drive to benefit Hopelink's Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

Donated backpacks are filled with supplies and displayed in the waiting room at Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond, which is hosting a drive to benefit Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign. (Photo by Thanh Tan/The Seattle Times)

This year, Hopelink’s Kids Need School Supplies campaign is trying to collect enough tools of learning to assist at least 2,000 students. One way readers can help is to simply make a donation through the Times’ Fund for the Needy. A sturdy backpack filled with the basics costs about $40.

Another way to assist Hopelink, which reaches families through its service centers in north and east King County, is by hosting a workplace or community supply drive. The organization is requesting donations be dropped off at any of its service centers by Aug. 1 so that volunteers have a few weeks to sort and stuff backpacks before the new school year begins.

On Tuesday, Lake Hills Orthodontics in Redmond showed me how they are working with Hopelink to collect back-to-school supplies.

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Comments | Topics: eastside, poverty, school supply drive

July 18, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Legal representation for unaccompanied minors at border

The humanitarian and refugee crisis involving migrant children now extends far beyond the border states.

As of Friday morning, Joint Base Lewis-McChord remains on a federal shortlist of military bases that might become a host site for some of the more than 54,000 migrant children caught entering the U.S. illegally since October.

If they come to the local base, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services must follow through with its promise on Wednesday to provide appropriate resources to help these children remain safe as they await hearings to determine their legal status. (In a Thursday Opinion Northwest blog post, I argued that many of these children likely qualify for refugee or asylum status.)

Here’s something to keep in mind: the government could expedite the process by providing more legal representation for these children.

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Comments | Topics: border crisis, immigrant children, jblm

July 16, 2014 at 6:01 AM

Readers react to Seattle Park District measure

A call-out last week for readers to tell us how they would fund Seattle’s expansive parks system so far has generated more than a dozen thoughtful responses. Highlights from some of those comments are featured below. The Seattle Times editorial board recently advocated voting against Proposition 1, known as the Seattle Park District measure on the…

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Comments | Topics: august primary, election, metropolitan park district

June 13, 2014 at 6:20 AM

Bring the World Cup to Seattle

If the World Cup comes to the U.S., “a significant portion of it would be in Seattle.”

centurylink (1)

Imagine World Cup at CenturyLink Field. (John Lok / Seattle Times)

That’s the promise of Ralph Morton of the Seattle Sports Commission, who helped put together the U.S.’s runner-up bid for the 2022 cup. He was talking about a potential bid for 2026.

But by day, it looks like the 2022 cup may be back in play.

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Comments | Topics: brazil, fifa, qatar

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.

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Comments | Topics: minimum wage, Seattle

March 24, 2014 at 6:23 AM

How a higher minimum wage would affect nonprofit supported-living providers

In a Sunday guest column, Sylvia Fuerstenberg wrote about how a higher minimum wage would affect a nonprofit like hers, which provides care for people and families with developmental disabilities. Fuerstenberg is the executive director of The Arc of King County. Her nonprofit receives funding from the state to provide a specific number…

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Comments | Topics: arc of king county, developmental disabilities, minimum wage

March 18, 2014 at 6:04 AM

Poll: Do you agree with Seattle City Council’s decision to limit Lyft, uberX and Sidecar?

No big surprises with the Seattle City Council’s unanimous decision on Monday to cap technology-based ride-services such as Lyft, uberX and Sidecar. The council passed a two-year pilot program to legalize and limit each network to 150 drivers at any given time, and to raise the number of taxi licenses by 200 over the next two years. (Read Seattle Times reporter Alexa Vaughn’s news side story.)

Taxi driver Benyam Hailu holds a sign as he waits for a meeting of the Seattle City Council to begin, Monday, March 17, 2014 in Seattle. The Council was voting on rules and regulations that have pitted supporters of ride-share and other non-traditional transportation companies against taxi and for-hire drivers and operators. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Taxi driver Benyam Hailu holds a sign as he waits for a meeting of the Seattle City Council to begin, Monday, March 17, 2014 in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

As The Seattle Times editorial board argued in this March 14 editorial, the city should have focused less on caps — for both taxis and ride-services — and more on consumer safety and leveling the playing field for all drivers. Increased competition has improved customer service over the last year, and it would be a shame to see ride-services cut back services in a city where people are driving less and demanding more affordable transportation options.

The other takeaway? This likely becomes a political issue in the next city council election cycle. See Uber Seattle’s tweet after the vote, which was retweeted at least 100 times as of Monday evening.

Before Mayor Ed Murray signs Council Bill 118036, he should also consider convening a panel to review and revamp the city’s antiquated taxi regulations. In a timely statement released after the vote, Murray indicated he plans to get more involved:

“As Mayor, I will direct my staff and the Facilities and Administrative Services Department Director to engage stakeholders and experts outside of City government in further discussions. Based on these discussions, I then plan to submit to Council my own recommendations to both ensure customer safety and improve customer choice while leveling the playing field for all industry players.”

This entire process has put Seattle in the spotlight because its city council is the first in the nation to limit the growth of a wildly popular service. Hopefully, Lyft, uberX and Sidecar officials learned along the way that they must release data much sooner and develop better relations with the council. Several elected members showed a willingness to revisit the cap in the future, but not until the market has time to adjust and the networks agree to be more transparent about their insurance policies.

Below the poll and forum, look for a sampling of reactions from the council members.

Do you agree with the council’s decision? Vote in the poll below. 

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Comments | More in Discussion, Polls | Topics: lyft, ride-services, ridesharing

March 7, 2014 at 6:04 AM

UberX, Lyft and Sidecar finally reveal driver numbers in Seattle

One week after a Seattle City Council subcommittee‘s controversial and preliminary decision to limit ridesharing services to 150 drivers per network at any given time, Lyft, uberX and Sidecar have each come forward to reveal the number of drivers on their respective platforms.

Supporters of uberX wave cards as a person speaks in favor of their continued existence. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

Supporters of uberX wave cards as a person speaks in favor of their continued existence. (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

During a Feb. 27 hearing, council members complained loudly that these companies were refusing to release that information. The city’s top officials have struggled for months to reach an agreement on how to legalize ridesharing, which has disrupted Seattle’s highly regulated taxi industry.

Now armed with a little more information, council members should  revisit the cap number they proposed and at least raise the limit on the number of drivers from each company who can work at the same time.

A March 10 vote by the full council has been postponed until March 17.

On Friday afternoon, uberX sent out a press release revealing it “has 900 active drivers on its system. This number does not include drivers who have left the system or those awaiting background checks to join the system. That number also does not include UberBlack or UberSUV drivers.”

The service also said more than 300 drivers are active at any given time and continues to grow with demand. So if the city’s proposed legislation is passed, hundreds of drivers using their personal cars will lose the ability they currently enjoy to earn income through uberX.

Uber Seattle General Manager Brooke Steger’s statement:

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Comments | Topics: lyft, regulations, ridesharing

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