1. The anti-McGinn Seattle Times has a long story about a "much-hyped study" on the economic impacts of sending coal trains through Seattle that tacitly accuses the mayor of withholding the study for five weeks, until the Times filed a public records request.
McGinn announced the study, which cost $25,000, in December. Proponents of the coal train proposal have called the study a win, because it shows that coal trains would create $28 million in jobs during construction, and $2.4 million a year after that.
However, the rest of the news—buried lower in the Times' piece—isn't so positive for coal. According to the study, the proposal would increase congestion, costing workers and employees up to $455,000 in work lost to delays every year; would require the Seattle Fire Department to spend as much as $100 million to upgrade its emergency-response systems; and would decrease property values near rail lines by as much as $475 million. I'm no mathmagician, but that's quite a bit more than $2.4 million.
To bolster its rose-colored pro-coal narrative, the Times takes at face value proponents' arguments that the proposal "might spur BNSF Railway to upgrade its Seattle rail infrastructure" and that reduced property values would "theoretically be offset by property-value increases in other areas."
2. One person who isn't taking that sanguine POV at face value is Sightline's Eric de Place, who offers a scathing critique of the pro-coal study. As one of the experts whom the city asked to look at the first draft of the study, de Place says he concluded that "The truth is even uglier" than the potential $500 billion-plus impact the report acknowledges "because the report does not provide any cost estimates for coal dust pollution, nor diesel exhaust from locomotives, nor public health impacts from the noise and vibration caused by coal trains. The report also does not tally the localized cost of impacts from global warming nor of air pollution caused by burning the coal."
One person who isn't taking that sanguine POV at face value is Sightline's Eric de Place, who offers a scathing critique of the pro-coal study.
3. While we're on the subject of credulous Seattle Times reporting, Seattle Transit Blog takes on editorial writer Thanh Tan's recent column lamenting how impossible it is to live without a car in Seattle; in Tan's world, car-free life "added up to hundreds of dollars every month."
As STB quite reasonably points out, that's only true if your idea of living "car-free" is renting cars all the time instead of dealing with the occasional inconvenience of public transit.
Meanwhile, thousands and thousands of Seattleites are living without cars every day—and without spending "hundreds of dollars a month" to do so.
4. And while we're on the subject of coal trains: The New York Times had a piece yesterday about the impact of the trains on Spokane's local economy (and the implications the proposed Cherry Point terminal near Bellingham would have on same). The largely pro-coal-train piece concludes that coal trains create jobs and that their environmental impact is unknown; BNSF now disputes its own previous estimate that coal trains can lose as much as a ton of coal per car in transit.
5. Seattle Weekly has a short but illuminating profile of last week's Metro bus shooter, Martin Duckworth, who was shot by a Seattle Police Department officer after he fled the scene of the shooting and tried to commandeer a second bus. The story is sadly typical: A homeless resident of Pioneer Square's parks and alleys, Duckworth was "a frequent no-show at court-ordered drug rehab and mental-health therapy" who ignored the conditions of his court-ordered supervision. "Drug-addled, homeless, with a 10th-grade education, Duckworth, court records show, was arrested 71 times over the past dozen years," mostly for drug dealing and purchases.
6. Time to ask for a raise: According to Seattle Bubble, to afford a median-priced house in King County ($434,000), a household needs to make $69,300. Meanwhile, the actual median household income in King County is around $68,000.