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Morning Fizz

1. Unlike his predecessor Mike McGinn, Mayor Ed Murray is continuing to provide health care and other city benefits through the end of January to the employees he has decided not to retain, his spokesman Jeff Reading tells Fizz. 

In 2009, McGinn opted to cut off mayor Greg Nickels' staffers' benefits starting at the beginning of his term, by terminating their employment at the end of the year instead of letting it continue through the beginning of January and extending health care through the end of the month. 

2. Mayor Murray took to Facebook in response to an item we filed on New Year's Eve about comments he made at a luncheon with members of the Asian and Pacific Islander community that didn't seem sufficiently gung ho about light rail.

That afternoon, Murray posted: "I support light rail expansion. Have fought to prevent attempts to take away sound transit funding in Olympia. I raised money for the the campaign to expand ST last time it was on the ballot. And I just hired as my transportation adviser the person who ran that campaign. Need more proof?"

Has the task of whirring through dense soil simply worn down the boring machine's engine?

Murray hired Andrew Glass-Hastings away from King County's transportation team as his own transportation adviser. And yes, Hastings ran the successful 2008 campaign to extend light rail.

3. Speaking of Murray's transportation policy, Sightline's Eric de Place was one of the local brainiacs we asked to send a memo to the incoming mayor advising Murray on what his priorities should be.

No surprise, urbanist de Place was adamant about prioritizing transportation.

De Place concludes:

Study the current transportation proposal. Linger over the Senate package currently under consideration that would devote 71 percent of funds to unpopular highway expansions while setting aside a paltry 20 percent to basic road repair and only 4 percent to bicycling, walking, transit, and other environmental priorities. Your bus is probably stuck in traffic right now, so you’ll have time to reread that section of the bill that holds Metro bus funding hostage as a bargaining chip.

If King County doesn’t support pork barrel roads spending elsewhere in the state, the county won’t even be allowed to pass a motor vehicle excise tax to pay for buses on our own dime. Without adequate bus service, city traffic is going to get a whole lot worse.

Bridge the state and city divide. Remind yourself that probably no one in the state is better suited than you are to bridge the divide between the ­upside-down world of state transportation funding and the needs of the state’s biggest city and most critical economic engine. You can point to years of leadership in the state legislature and you have the clout and credibility to bring lawmakers to the negotiating table. Remind yourself too that Seattle foots a disproportionate share of the bill for state spending, that workers need transit to get to their jobs, that low-income households can’t afford the costs of car ownership, and that fatality statistics show that many of the city’s streets are flat-out dangerous for elders and kids alike.
Now get on the phone to Olympia. It’s time for you to fix this mess.

Read all the memos to Murray we solicited—from leaders like Real Change's Tim Harris, Public Defender Association attorney Lisa Daugaard, Seattle chamber of commerce head Maud Daudon, and Minority Executive Directors Coalition head Dorry Elias-Garcia—in the new issue of Seattle Met.

4. Also in the new January 2014 Seattle Met, Josh debuts a micro-column he'll be writing every month in the front of the magazine (the Mud Room section).

Think of it as the Green Room, where he'll be writing about urbanist innovations in transportation, land-use planning, housing, and other policy fronts where Seattle is hopefully leading the way with 21st-Century ideas.

His first installment is about Bell Street Park—a "school-without-walls" approach to mixing peds and cars downtown.

5. File this as a theory Fizz is hearing from transportation engineering types: Bertha hasn't run into a giant boulder (or a capsule with a video message from a distant planet). Bertha is tired.

That is: the task of whirring through dense soil has simply worn down the boring machine's engine.

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