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On Other Blogs Today: Creepy, Dark, and Predictable
Our daily roundup.
1. The Spokesman-Review's Shawn Vestal has harsh words for the Washington state GOP, which has been reluctant, he says, to be critical of state Rep. Matt Shea (R-4, Spokane Valley), a Tea Party Republican who's running for reelection.
In past legislative sessions, Shea has sponsored bills to repeal Obamacare, increase access to guns, and mandate parental notification for abortions—not to mention supporting Cliven Bundy, the tax-dodging rancher who said "Negroes" were better off as slaves, flashing his gun in a road-rage incident, and posting a creepy photo on Facebook showing him standing in a female political opponent's driveway.
In short, Vestal writes, Washington state Republicans are more than willing to trash Shea in private, but won't go public opposing the shocking views of a fellow Republican, whom Vestal refers to as "R-Alternative Universe."
The latest on Shea, he writes, is that he was overheard at a Spokane Valley Mexican restaurant with fellow members of the Oath Keepers—"self-declared patriots and apocalyptic prophets"—recently talking about snipers, Cliven Bundy, militias, and thermal binoculars. The discussion was so troubling that a nearby customer, who did not know Shea was an elected official, called the sheriff's department to report that it "sounded like they were planning something."
"Shea and his love of guns and Revelations talk are not some secret," Vestal writes. "They’re not new. New would be if more voters and others in the tent with Shea stopped whispering and started speaking up."
You may remember that Shea made Morning Fizz back in March for his "The Fright for Freedom" video.
2. Parks advocate Michael Maddux lays out the case for the proposed Seattle parks district (ballots landing in mailboxes now!) on The Urbanist, arguing that it's a good idea to pay for extended community center hours, programs for seniors and people with disabilities, and major parks maintenance, which faces a $267 million backlog.Just as it's hard to object to people making a little extra money off their apartments when they're out of town, it's hard to believe that a relatively small operation like AirBnB has more impact on New York City rents than scarcity, high demand, and unscrupulous landlords.
And he makes the case that the Tim Eyman-esque arguments against the proposal—which boil down to the idea that we can't trust our (elected) leaders and that taxes for basic services should be subject to periodic micromanagement by voters—ignore the real-life needs of actual park users, who want a stable funding source to keep the parks system solvent, not a levy-to-levy, pay-as-you-go approach that subjects parks funding to a public referendum every few years.
3. On the other side is the Seattle Times, whose editorial board write that although of course they love parks, we shouldn't provide them with a stable funding source because who knows if the city council, which will serve as the governing body of the parks district, will misuse district funds because they can.
What do they suggest as an alternative? The same old levy-to-levy funding mechanism we've always used (funny, since they've opposed the past two parks levies). Oh, and an audit.
4. What does the New York Times have against the sharing economy? Today, they ran a story—titled "The Dark Side of Sharing"—that is oddly reminiscent of a NYT piece that ran less than three months ago, titled "The Dark Side of the Sharing Economy."
Both pieces inveigh against AirBnB, the company that hooks up travelers with renters and homeowners willing to turn their homes into temporary hotels for a fee.
Calling the very concept of the "sharing economy" (which also includes everything from free tool libraries to for-profit ridesharing companies like Uber and Lyft) "a kind of willful ignorance that recasts poverty as an opportunity for innovation," the NYT's Anna North writes, "sharing [is] what you have to do when there’s not enough stuff to go around."
And she cites a widely circulated New York Magazine piece by Kevin Roose, titled “The Sharing Economy Isn’t About Trust, It’s About Desperation." That is, people "share" because they're desperate for cash, not because of any utopian vision about pooling resources or using less stuff.
The earlier, similarly named, NYT piece made a similar populist point: Companies like AirBnB, the paper's editorial board wrote, exist to generate profits, not communithy. As rents in New York City increased dramatically, AirBnB became more popular, pinching the housing supply and making rents less affordable for ordinary people.
Just as it's hard to object to people making a little extra money off their apartments when they're out of town, it's hard to believe that a relatively small operation like AirBnB has more impact on New York City rents than scarcity, high demand, and unscrupulous landlords, all of which seem like better targets than a popular alternative to high-priced hotels in the city.
5. As this Crank predicted, people—who are not, by and large, idiots or automata—have chosen to stay away from I-90 during this week's partial westbound closure, taking other routes, staying home, delaying trips, riding the bus, or biking instead of driving from the Eastside to Seattle. The result, according to the Seattle Times, has been a "huge traffic drop on I-90."
So much for "Carmageddon."
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