On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Public Safety, Air Safety, Traffic Safety, and More
Our daily roundup.
1. The Seattle Times reports that a man accused of stabbing two people in Pioneer Square last Friday is "dangerously mentally ill" and has had his bail set at $2 million.
The man, Donnell Jackson, killed a Shoreline Community College professor and seriously injured the professor's girlfriend.
2. The Daily News has a comprehensive FAQ on a proposed coal terminal in Longview, which would facilitate the transport of up to 25 million tons of coal a year from Montana and Wyoming to Çhina—including questions like, What are opponents' concern about this terminal? How harmful is coal dust? And, Won't the coal trains snarl traffic along the route?
Public hearings are about to start on the $643 million terminal. Environmentalists want the federal government to consider all the impacts the coal terminal would have, including the greenhouses gases it will produce when it's burned in China; the coal industry wants to limit environmental review to the immediate impacts around the terminal.
3. The hotly contested race for 26th District state senator has drawn nearly half a million dollars in independent-expenditure spending, the News Tribune reports. Those dollars are pouring in from Republican donors (on behalf of GOP challenger Jan Angel) and from Democrats (on behalf of incumbent Nathan Schlicher, the Democrat appointed to replace former Sen. Derek Kilmer, who was elected to Congress, in January).
The pro-Schlicher money comes largely from a political-action committee called the She's Changed PAC and the environmental group Washington Conservation Voters; the pro-Angel money comes largely from companies with ties to the American Legal Education Committee (ALEC), the right-wing group affiliated with the Koch Brothers.
4. KUOW's Deborah Wang clarifies her initial story from last week anout a recent report that concluded that some 42,000 Seattle mortgages are underwater—that is, the debt on the house is worth more than it cost.
Although Wang cited a "remarkable statistic—about a third of all mortgages in Seattle are underwater"—the actual details of the study show that many of the houses it included were outside Seattle; the story goes on to quote lefty council member Nick Licata saying that regardless of how many homeowners are underwater, "What we do know is that a certain amount of homeowners are being affected negatively and are in the position of possibly losing their homes."
5. If you're a state legislator on your way to work, you can drive as fast as you want. According to the AP, lawmakers are exempted under the state constitution from receiving noncriminal tickets during the legislative session as well as 15 days before the session starts. "The logic? Detaining lawmakers on the road — even for the time it takes to issue them a speeding ticket — may delay them from getting to the Capitol to vote." Essentially, because traffic laws are civil, not criminal, the constitution protects legislators who break them.
6. The Seattle Times profiles incoming Office of Professional Accountability head Pierce Murphy, who's replacing longtime OPA director Kathryn Olson. Although the story sheds little light on Murphy's plans for his new position (he wants to "give people a voice"), there is one interesting detail: Murphy plans, unlike Olson, to operate in a different building than police headquarters, setting up shop in the Seattle Municipal Tower across the street from the police department instead of occupying Olson's old office at SPD HQ7.
7. And one from Josh:
The New Yorker's economics columnist James Surowiecki writes a primer on the share economy, hitting all the basics: access trumps ownership; apps and online culture have made sharing more efficient; idle assets are going to waste (again, a matter of improving efficiency); and finally, the slumpy economy lends itself to pooling resources.
However, echoing a controversy that’s been roiling Seattle—the traditionally regulated taxi industry vs. the unregulated Wild West of sharing—Surowiecki concludes with a reality check and a challenge:
It isn’t just companies and regulators who will have to be flexible, though. Workers will, too, since the sharing economy requires people to function as micro-entrepreneurs. Uber is just a broker, and the drivers aren’t anyone’s employees, any more than the landlords in Airbnb’s system are. They are all independent contractors, working for themselves and giving the companies a cut of the action. This has certain attractions: no boss, the ability to set your own hours, control over working conditions. It also means no benefits, no steady paycheck, and the need to always be hustling; in that sense, it fits all too well with the free-agent nation we’re increasingly becoming. Sharing, it turns out, is often a hell of a lot of work.