1. Fizz is taking the rumors about Ron Sims running for mayor in 2013 a smidgen more seriously now. Sims, the former King County Executive (and more recently, Obama's former Deputy Secretary of Housing and Urban Development), met with political consultant Christian Sinderman this month; and though Sinderman works for mayoral hopeful Tim Burgess, we say the meeting is the strongest evidence yet that Sims is thinking about a run.
Sims has not ruled out the idea, according to sources familiar with the meeting. [pullquote]Sims has not ruled out the idea according to sources familiar with the meeting.[/pullquote]
2. The Seattle city council has until, well, today to figure out how it plans to move forward with its "notice to proceed" on the deep-bore tunnel. Under the tunnel referendum adopted last month, the council is authorized to issue a notice to proceed on the tunnel "at an open public meeting." The referendum doesn't say how the council should issue the notice, raising the question: Should they pass an ordinance (which would potentially be subject to another referendum)? A resolution? Or should they simply give a toast to the tunnel?
The referendum is silent on which option the council should choose, and council members reportedly remain divided. But they need to move quickly: Unless the council issues a notice to proceed next week, the state could be forced to halt tunnel construction until they do.
3. The Seattle Police Department has gotten so serious about cleaning up Belltown that Chief John Diaz and Assistant Chief Mike Sanford went all French Connection late last month, shaking down suspected drug dealers in the neighborhood.
Police sources say Diaz and Sanford were driving through Belltown around 7:00 am on August 30, when they spotted a large group of people huddled together on the street who the chiefs believed were involved in a drug deal.
The chiefs pulled up to the group, whose members quickly scattered, and Diaz and Sanford stopped members of the group for a chat.
Seattle police spokesman Sean Whitcomb confirmed the incident, and said the chiefs were in Belltown “to see if there were any gaps in enforcement.”
While surveying the scene in Belltown, Whitcomb says the chiefs “made contact with some people who may not have wanted contact with the police.”
According to Whitcomb, Diaz and Sanford did not make any arrests. “It’s not as if they were seizing dope and taking guns,” he said.
It’s certainly rare to see high-ranking police officials out on the streets fighting crime in Seattle but Whitcomb says, “they may be chiefs, but they’re still police officers.”
4. The Connecting Washington Task Force, a group of statewide business, labor, legislative, tribal, and trade association leaders formed by Gov. Chris Gregoire and tasked with recommending a 10-year financing strategy to address the state's top transportation needs, met on Friday to fine-tune its eight draft principles.
State Rep. Mike Armstrong (R-12, Wenatchee), the ranking Republican on the House transportation committee, created some waves by criticizing points seven and eight: "Provide transportation options that respond to the needs of an aging and more diverse population;" and "Respond to the public health challenges posed by obesity and the lack of physical activity by providing the infrastructure for walking and bicycling." [pullquote]The Republican from Wenatchee sounded a bit like Seattle PI.com columnist Joel Connelly.[/pullquote]
The Republican from Wenatchee sounded a bit like Seattle PI.com columnist Joel Connelly or the Seattle Times editorial board, flagging the two ideas as social engineering.
Armstrong says: "I quite frankly don't feel comfortable going into people's refrigerators as a transportation organization and telling them what they should eat or how much exercise they should get and try to tie that to our transportation system. so I kind of take exception to that. And I also, for instance, don't feel right going to Sen. King's house and telling him he is getting rather old, and we're trying to create a system to address his aging. ... I take exception to those. I think we have to be careful on how much we try to push our way into people's lives." [Sen. Curtis King (R-14, Yakima), who's also on the task force, is the ranking Republican on the senate transportation committee.]
Both Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen (one of two Seattle appointees to the committee; the other is Deputy King County Executive Fred Jarrett) and E. Susan Meyer, CEO of Spokane Transit, addressed Rep. Armstrong's comments.
Meyer: "I wasn't sure if Representative Armstrong was just joking about number seven and old people, but I wanted to offer a comment about why we should care about the aging population. The number of people, especially as baby boomers retire, has created a larger share of our population. Those needs of folks who can't drive, can't afford to drive, or whose disabilities prevent them from driving need public transportation and so the importance of being able to provide mobility and access to services falls largely for a portion of that population on public transit."
And then Rasmussen:
Maybe the example given in number eight is one that's a little bit touchy with people, obesity, but I do think that it's very important to recognize that transportation has a very very significant impact upon public health and perhaps a broader statement saying our transportation priorities should support public health goals as well as environmental goals might be a broader statement rather than identifying a particular cause or issue, and I definitely agree that mobility is extremely important to all people—but particularly vulnerable are seniors and people with disabilities, and I think that we have to recognize that our transportation system has to meet that need ... our baby boomer generation may be the largest age group in our communities for decades, and we have to recognize that they will need mobility, and they may not be able to drive.
5. Sound Transit's capital committee voted last week to spend $100,000 on "additional work on the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel South Access Security project"---specifically, on new concrete barriers and tire shredders to keep cars from driving into the downtown transit tunnel.
Although Sound Transit spokesman Bruce Gray says there hasn't been a problem with people driving into the tunnel---"not sober people, anyway," he jokes---the Department of Homeland Security recommended the new barrier preventing drivers from crossing the light rail tracks at Royal Brougham and new tire shredders (AKA "tiger teeth") to keep people from driving into the tunnel itself. The improvements will allow King County to reassign a sheriff's deputy who currently parks at the south entrance to the tunnel and monitors the traffic going in and out.