OOBT

1. Former city of Seattle Office of Information Technology director Bill Schrier writes in Crosscut that the city's embrace of surveillance cameras is a good thing—a strategy that will allow the city, like Boston after the Boston Marathon killings, to apprehend criminals quickly. 

"[J]ust like traffic cameras, all government video surveillance should be open to the public," Schrier writes. "In Seattle you can view traffic cameras in a web browser or on an app. Similarly, we should open Seattle's video surveillance cameras on the port, Westlake Mall, Belltown's Third Avenue and around the Othello Link Light rail station to the public." 

2. Sightline reports on King County's decision to propose a "Plan B" strategy which would allow the county to preserve transit service on its own in the absence of a statewide transportation revenue package. The county is hoping the state passes a package that gives it the authority to ask voters for a new motor vehicle excise tax; if the state doesn't do so, county officials announced last week that they'll propose their own sales tax and vehicle license fee.

Sightline says the prospect that the county might go it alone is "good news," because the transporation tax proposal that's currently on the table "uses a regressive gas tax increase to fund $8 billion of new roads while providing virtually nothing for transit, pedestrians, or bikes and little on road repair." Eliminating the need to bargain over such a plan, they write, will give voters "time to work out a much more equitable transportation spending plan, one with truly balanced priorities that people across the state can support."

Let's hope that they're right, and that this roads-vs.transit game of chicken doesn't result in more years of transportation gridlock. 

 

3. As the city of SeaTac prepares to adopt a minimum wage of $15 an hour for hospitality and transportation employees, NPR's Planet Money reports on who, exactly, earns the minimum wage (nationally: $7.25; in Washington state: $9.19) across the nation.

The biggest category of minimum-wage workers is workers in the leisure and hospitality industry, followed by wholesale and retail workers and education and health care employees. The minimum-wage workforce is overwhelmingly female, with about two-thirds of the minimum-wage workforce made up of women. 

4. Seattle Bike Blog has a thorough and thoughtful response to Eric Scigliano's weird piece blasting bikers with bright flashing lights on Crosscut, where he argued that cyclists with "disco-ball" lights are "the scariest thing about biking at night in Seattle." In short: No, cyclists don't use bike lights to annoy other people. They use them to be seen.

And for those who have bought "ultra-bright lights," it seems most likely that they "simply want to be safe and likely do not realize how their light affects other users. After all, it was sold as a bike light, so why in the world would they think that it’s not actually proper for use on a bike trail?" Surely there are more pressing problems facing nighttime cyclists, or those who come into contact with them, than a cyclist who buys a bright light hoping not to be run over by a car.