On Other Blogs Today
On Other Blogs Today: Tunnels, Theft, and The Working People
Our daily roundup.
1. Apparently still unhappy that Mike McGinn isn't the mayor anymore, the Stranger blames this past weekend's traffic jam on "timid" Mayor Ed Murray, because he won't (caps theirs) "make it a priority to build a citywide light-rail network WITHIN 25 YEARS."
Their idea of a citywide light-rail network? Not the citywide light-rail network we're already building, of course (Sound Transit 3 will be on the ballot in a year and a half) but the McGinn-endorsed "Seattle Subway" plan, which, at unknown cost, would theoretically link every single neighborhood in the city by fast underground rail lines within just a few years.
"A grade-separated transit system," the Stranger writes, "is something that EVERY MAJOR CITY MUST BUILD." "Grade-separated" means underground or in the air, and both of those options cost far more than the light-rail system we're building, which includes some tracks on the ground.
The Stranger's post mocks the idea that Seattle needs regional, statewide, or federal support (or dollars) to pay for rail—"Critics say Seattle must do everything regionally or not at all—including building transit—but that's a ruse"—but the reality is that, yeah, we do need those dollars, because if we really decide to go it alone, with Seattle tax dollars only, to build a massive subway system, we'd have to give up or scale back dramatically on all kinds of other local priorities, like preschool, the minimum wage, parks, and the families and education levy.
Left unsaid in the paper's subway advocacy, finally, is one giant irony: The publication that has been most vocally opposed (and understandably so) to the downtown deep-bore tunnel, on the grounds that digging tunnels in Seattle's shaky, earthquake-prone soil is risky, expensive business that leads to cost overruns, is more than willing to take a leap of faith that a citywide subway system—that is, a system of tunnels in Seattle's shaky, earthquake-prone soil, including under the Ship Canal—won't run into any cost overruns or technical problems, because it's transit, not a road, and transit tunnels never run into problems.
2. The Seattle Times would seem to have it in for Seattle City Light head Jorge Carrasco. First, the paper revealed that City Light had paid a consultant more than $17,000 to burnish its Google image, hiring a firm, Brand.com, to produce unintentionally hilarious press releases that, according to one Times columnist, "don't read as if they were written by humans."
Today, the paper reported that a massive copper theft last year was effectively authorized by Carrasco.
The basics: In 2013, two con men claiming to be Cherokee tribe members working for a charity that helped disabled children make copper jewelry in Oklahoma talked their way into a secure City Light scrap yard with approval from Carrasco, where they made off with more than 40,000 pounds of valuable copper wire.
Pretty good gotcha. The only problem: It appears that the Times' big news (posted under the splashy subhead TIMES WATCHDOG) wasn't so fresh after all. Way back in December 2013, KOMO, KIRO, Q13, and the PI.com all had the news that Carrasco had allowed the two men into the City Light facility. It's still an embarrassing story—how did the head of a huge city department get conned so easily?—but it's also, well, six months old.
3. At the PI.com, Joel Connelly's coverage of the appointment of Kathleen O'Toole as Seattle's first-ever female police chief focuses, a bit oddly, on city council member Kshama Sawant's "remarkable ... hubris" in voting against O'Toole's appointment and $250,000 annual compensation, which she opposed because "the working people" of Seattle don't make anything close to O'Toole's salary, and because she has "not seen sufficient evidence that she (O’Toole) will challenge the status quo of the police department and the political establishment.”
Look, we think O'Toole was an inspired choice: She's tough, an outsider, and has demonstrated in Boston and Ireland that she's capable of providing the kind of shakeup the Seattle Police Department needs to get beyond its reputation for racially biased policing and excessive use of force. And we don't think $250,000 is too much to pay a big-city police chief (like Tim Burgess said: Should we be looking for a cut-rate leader instead?)
But geez: "Hubris" (look it up) suggests that Sawant has gone way too far simply by criticizing the mayor's choice out loud. Last I checked, the voters ("the working people") elected Sawant, which gives her the right to pontificate, even if newspaper columnists find it annoying to listen to her, as Connelly put it, "meander."