1. An internal Office for Civil Rights memo from OCR employee Elliott Bronstein suggests that city of Seattle employees refrain from using two terms ("brown bag" and "citizen") in official city documents because they're "potentially offensive," KOMO reports. The memo has been ridiculed everywhere from the Daily Mail to the conservative PJ Media as an example of typical Left Coast P.C. nonsense.
But you know what? I'm with the city. Words mean things, and they affect the way we think. The meanings of words can't be divorced from their history, which is why you no longer see words like "crippled," or "Negro," or "policeman" in official documents anymore. The "brown bag test" refers to the fact that lighter-skinned African Americans have often been perceived as higher-status; inviting "citizens" to attend a meeting implies that non-citizens (people who live here but don't have citizen status) aren't welcome.
If there weren't easy substitutes, I could understand the objections, but there are—Bronstein, for example, suggests "sack lunch" and "residents."
Is that politically correct? Hell, yes. It's also a way of not semantically telling large parts of the Seattle population that they don't matter.
2. Q13 reports that dozens of taxicabs blocked Fourth Avenue in front of City Hall this afternoon to protest the proliferation of "for-hire" vehicles (which charge a rate negotiated between the driver and passengers) and "ridesharing" services like Lyft and Sidecar, which allow private car owners to charge passengers for a lift (without obtaining a taxi license).
The city council's special committee on taxis and for-hire vehicles is meeting next week to talk about potential ridesharing regulations.
3. The Spovangelist reports on the race for state senate in Spokane's 7th District, where the incumbent John Smith (appointed to replace his predecessor Bob Morton, who retired), has a rather interesting C.V.
In additionn to having just caught up on four years of back taxes, Smith apparently married a 16-year-old when he was 23 ("Unless they met six weeks before their wedding day, that would have made him a 23-year-old dating a 15-year-old"), in a church that the Southern Poverty Law Center categorizes as a "hate group."
The church is affiliated with the "Christian Identity" movement, a radical group that espouses anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.
Smith, according to the Spovangelist, has received more than $50,000 from mainstream corporations (Weyerhaeuser) lobbying groups (the Washington Beverage Association), and moderate Republicans, such as state Sens. Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup), Andy Hill (R-Redmond), and Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island).
The news about Smith follows a story earlier this week about state Rep. Matt Shea (R-Spokane Valley), who warned a Tea Party audience in Idaho about the need to stock up on ammo in preparation for the coming economic collapse.
4. A California-based environmental PAC has jumped into the already high-dollar 26th District state senate race between appointed incumbent Nathan Schlicher, a Democrat, and challenger Jan Angel, a Republican state representative, the Everett Herald reports. (Schlicher won the appointment after his predecessor, Derek Kilmer, was elected to Congress.)
Banker and environmentalist Tom Steyer contributed $2 million to the PAC, the NextGen Climate Action Committee, which immediately turned around and gave $75,000 to an anti-Angel PAC and $150,000 to the pro-Schlicher Washington Conservation Voters PAC.
5. The Puget Sound Business Journal asked the mayoral candidates their views on a couple of business-related issues: Does parking cost too much? And, how would the candidates make the streets safer for everyone? No big surprises, but a good primer on what the candidates think about parking rates and downtown public safety.