1. In its endorsement of incumbent city council member Richard Conlin over socialist challenger Kshama Sawant, Seattle Transit Blog notes that Conlin has been a strong advocate for "environmentally sustainable growth ... and the source of insightful critiques on the Sound Transit Board."
STB continues: "Sawant is not particularly focused on these issues, and when she does address them slips all too easily into anti-developer rhetoric. She evidently views housing affordability as a problem of insufficient subsidy and regulation rather than insufficient supply."
Conlin isn't perfect on green issues (the tunnel, sigh). But the anti-Conlin rhetoric from some of his harshest opponents is just weird. And it ignores much of his record.
To name just a few examples: Pushing to ban all disposable bags; advocating strongly for the urbanist South Lake Union upzone; spearheading the council's work on the proposed $60 vehicle license fee; championing a pedestrian bridge at Sound Transit's rail station at Northgate; working to accelerate high-capacity transit planning from downtown to Ballard; opposing a potential moratorium on aPodments, or microhousing; and pushing to preserve the city's urban forests. Far from being a green-washer, Conlin has a solid, if mixed, record on issues that matter to urbanists, transit supporters, and environmentalists.
2. A couple of coal-terminal-related posts today. The first one, from the Tacoma News Tribune, is an op/ed by Tacoma City Council member Ryan Mello about the impacts a proposed coal terminal in Longview would impact the rest of the state. It isn't just traffic congestion, Mello writes—coal trains would worsen air quality, damage residents' health, hurt Tacoma's port economy (as both container traffic and passenger rail speeds get slower) and cost communities along the route millions of dollars in infrastructure improvements to accommodate as many as 17 more coal trains every day.
The second, from Sightline, is a report that concludes that Peabody Energy, a major Powder Basin coal company that plans to transport up to 24 million metric tons of coal a year to Asia through the proposed Gateway Pacific coal terminal near Bellingham, will not be able to turn a profit if the coal market continues on its current trajectory. Korean buyers, for example, can already buy coal for about $10 less per ton than Peabody's price, meaning that "at today’s prices, Peabody Energy would lose roughly $10 per ton selling coal through the Gateway Pacific terminal."
3. Seattle Bike Blog reports that mayoral candidate and state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) has "reversed his position" on a bike lane on NE 75th St., saying Murray first claimed the project was a "mistake," then changed his position, saying it was "not a mistake."
Much as we love a good gotcha, that characterization is pretty misleading. The Bike Blog is referring to an interview Murray gave to Feet First, the pedestrian advocacy group, saying that taking out parking on both sides of the street and putting bike lanes on both sides was "a mistake." But in the very same sentence, Murray said the project had "slowed traffic and will likely improve pedestrian safety."
Elsewhere in the same interview, Murray specifically cited community concerns about pedestrian and bike safety on NE 75, saying, "It took the tragic deaths of Judy and Dennis Schulte, and the critical injuring of their daughter Karina and her infant son, Elias, to move the city to act. But we must do more." The Murray campaign says Murray does have questions about the implementation of bike lanes on 65th, which Murray addresses in a statement on the Bike Blog.
"Now, as Wallace seeks a second term on the council, he describes the evolution of his thinking on the rail issue as a sign of how he has matured from a sometimes-abrasive combatant into a collaborative policymaker."
4. Bellevue City Council member Kevin Wallace, one of the council's longtime three-member anti-light-rail bloc, has changed his tune, the Seattle Times reports. "Now, as Wallace seeks a second term on the council, he describes the evolution of his thinking on the rail issue as a sign of how he has matured from a sometimes-abrasive combatant into a collaborative policymaker."
Wallace spent years fighting against a light-rail alignment that would directly serve downtown Bellevue; he's being challenged by neighborhood activist Steve Kasner. Even assuming Wallace wins (he's raised about twice as much, $130,000, as Kasner), the council majority will be pro-light-rail; another member of the Kemper Freeman-backed anti-rail bloc, Don Davidson, lost in the primary and both of his potential successors support Sound Transit.
5. Finally, in yet another sign of the times, the Huffington Post reports that a new Gallup poll concludes a whopping 58 percent of Americans support legalizing recreational marijuana. That's the first time Gallup has shown support for legalization above 50 percent. Just two states (Washington and Colorado) have taken that leap so far, but there's little doubt that more are close behind.