1. The state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) has hired the former head of its viaduct replacement project, Ron Paananen, to review three state megaprojects—the viaduct replacement, the Columbia River Crossing, and the 520 bridge replacement, the AP reports.
Whether Paananen's appointment represents a conflict of interest or not is obviously a matter of opinion, but he is definitely familiar with the project (he left WSDOT for the private sector right after 58 percent of Seattle voters expressed support for the tunnel in 2011).
2. Ezra Klein at the Washington Postinitially called U.S. Senate Budget Committee chair Patty Murray's budget "conservative"—in the traditional sense, that it treats the federal budget deficit as an economic problem to be solved by modest spending cuts and modest tax increases.
Grousing that Murray's budget, compared to her House counterpart Paul Ryan's (which would gut Medicare, Medicaid, and food stamps and radically remake the entire federal government), "is deeply, even excessively, respectful of existing institutions," Klein concluded, "the problem with Murray’s budget is that it is almost entirely devoted to saying what it won’t do, and it gets very vague when the topic turns to what it will."
But today, Klein said he'd been (at least partly) wrong. Murray's budget, he writes, actually focuses on job creation by investing in infrastructure, adopting a gradual path to deficit reduction, and protecting economically important investments like education and research—and it's "much more specific about the spending it would expand than the spending it would cut."
Still, Klein writes, Murray's budget remains relatively modest and tentative compared to Ryan's slash-and-burn approach to cutting the federal budget.
3. Breaking! If people want to take advantage of the new so-called "liquor stickers"—a program that lets drivers leave their car at paid meters overnight instead of driving home drunk—it helps for them to look at the parking meter with their eyes. KIRO TV reports, "Stickers have been placed on every parking meter throughout the city of Seattle for a program to let drivers know they don’t have to drive home drunk, but some people are having a hard time spotting them."
Their evidence: They walked up to a guy on the street and pointed out the sticker; he told them, "You had to tell me to look for it, yeah."
The stickers are on the front of the meters, and contrary to KIRO's spin, the numbers show that people are actually using the service—45,000 drivers since the "liquor stickers" launched a year ago.
4. Although socialist Kshama Sawant says she's opposing city council member Richard Conlin because he's a tool of "super-rich" downtown developers, the PI.com reports that Conlin has kicked off his campaign by asking for $5 donations—hardly the act of a "plutocrat," the PI's Joel Connelly notes.
Connelly (always ready with the current references) writes:
Asked about an opponent who sounds like she’s rallying people to the barricades in the Paris Commune or Spanish Civil War, Conlin demurs. “I always value the opportunity for dialogue on visions for the future of Seattle,” he said. “I don’t know the woman, all I know is what I heard in news of her announcement.”