Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. We'd usually save this for the PubliCalendar (our daily picks for civic nerds), but it deserves some extra notice: Today at 1:30 at the King County Courthouse (516 Third Avenue, 10th Floor, County Council Chambers), the council is holding a public hearing on a pair of 20th Century development proposals: One proposal near Snoqualmie would push back the Growth Management Act boundaries to allow big box development and one proposal near Sammamish would allow developers to build  housing near a wetland.

Green development group Futurewise, which fights to protect the GMA, is calling on people to attend the hearing to oppose extending the GMA for Wal-Marts and sprawl.

2. During the gubernatorial campaign, Democrat Jay Inslee (now the governor-elect) was criticized by the media (PubliCola included) for his vague economic plan. And while this bullet point from his plan—"Facilitate Technology Commercialization Activities at our Research Institutions and Drive Investments into Local Companies"—does seems fake-fancy rather than substantive, evidently he's on to something.

And while the "Life Science" bullet point from his ecomomic plan seems fake-fancy-wordy rather than substantive, evidently he's on to something.

Over the weekend, a glowing article in  New York Times hyped the success that research universities such as M.I.T. were having commercializing their work.

The UW was notably absent from the account—which makes this excerpt from the NYT piece all the more frustrating.

As an example, a controlled-release polio vaccine developed in the Langer Lab was financed by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for use in the developing world. The foundation has also arranged to use, through Seventh Sense Biosystems, a rapid way to draw blood with a microneedle patch that could be used outside the confines of a medical center. (The approach is still in human trials.) The Langer Lab has also been working with the United States Army on a regenerative-tissue project that would help wounded soldiers from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

When a discovery is licensed at M.I.T., the university splits the profit three ways — among the department where the discovery was made, the university and the inventors.

It also makes Inslee's puffy pitch to "Enhance commercialization capabilities at our research institutions by giving them flexibility in taking equity positions in spinoff companies" sound a bit more compelling.

3. The Washington Post editorial page weighed in yesterday on Washington State's marijuana legalization law, advising the feds to take a hands off approach. 

It’s unrealistic and unwise to expect federal officials to pick up the slack left by state law- enforcement officers who used to enforce marijuana prohibitions against pot users and small-time growers. Unrealistic, because it would require lots more resources. Unwise, because filling prisons with users, each given a criminal stain on his or her record, has long been irrational. For the latter reason, we favor decriminalizing possession of small amounts of pot, assessing civil fines instead of locking people up. Also, for that reason and others, the Justice Department should hold its fire on a lawsuit challenging Colorado and Washington’s decision to behave more leniently. And state officials involved in good-faith efforts to regulate marijuana production and distribution according to state laws should be explicitly excused from federal targeting.

It’s not yet clear how a quasi-legal pot industry might operate in Colorado and Washington or what its public-health effects will be. It could be that these states are harbingers of a slow, national reassessment of marijuana policy. Or their experiment could serve as warning for the other 48 states.

4. A bar full of editors, reporters, and politicians packed into the Beverdige Place Pub in West Seattle on Saturday night to give a warm send off to local journalism all-stars Mark Matassa and Michelle Nicolosi.

Matassa, who most recently worked for the city, first as head of Mayor Mike McGinn's communications shop and then at Seattle Public Utilities, was an assistant managing editor and metro editor at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and a politics editor and reporter at the Seattle Times. Nicolosi was most recently the managing editor for the PI's online effort. (Matassa was also on PubliCola's original board of directors.)

The pair is moving back to Orange County, California, where Nicolosi will return to her former paper, the Orange County Register, where she previously won a Pulitzer.