1. The New York Times eulogizes former Washington state governor Booth Gardner, who died earlier this week, calling Gardner "one of the state's most popular politicians" and crediting him, among other accomplishments, with helping to pass the state's "death with dignity" assisted suicide law, which, indeed, many locally had seen at the time (2008) as Gardner's last (and frankly, poignant) political campaign. It won 57.82 to 42.18.
2. Seattle Transit Blog has "some thoughts on tolling and Mercer Island."
Islanders, as we've reported, argue that they should have a special exemption from tolls on I-90 because they can't avoid paying them (a claim that's only true of those who choose to drive alone across the bridge instead of carpooling or taking one of the many buses that cross the island); residents of the ritzy enclave have even compared themselves to inmates on Alcatraz.
One of the more potent arguments against tolling is that it is regressive. Personally, I see no other practical way to ration the road space. Nevertheless, what would clearly make the policy worse would be to exempt the city with the highest median household income in or near the I-90 corridor.
3. Washington state Sen. Pam Roach (R-31, Auburn) says the state transportation commission doesn't have the authority to raise tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, thanks to Tim Eyman's I-1185, which requires the approval of a majority of the legislature to increase toll rates. If the commission, which has traditionally set toll rates, can't raise tolls by 25 cents, the money to pay for bridge costs will have to come out of the state's general transportation fund, the Kitsap Sun reports.
"aPodments" aren't just controversial in Seattle; they're now popping up in Everett, where opponents argue allowing them would damage the "character" of their neighborhoods (sound familiar?)4. In happier news, Seattle's jobless rate has dipped below six percent for the first time in more than four years, Geekwire reports.
The main explanation: "A steady stream of hiring" in the tech world, including firms like Zillow, Amazon, and F5 Networks that has kept employment in Seattle strong even as jobless rates across the state have failed to improve measurably since the recession.
5. So-called "aPodments"—a developer's brand name for small housing units centered around a single kitchen and living area—aren't just controversial in Seattle; they're now popping up in Everett, where, the Everett Herald reports, the city is considering changing its zoning code to allow the affordable units. Monthly rents would range between $400 and $500; but neighbors argue allowing the small units would damage the "character" of their neighborhoods (sound familiar?)
One resident the Herald quotes even argues that the small units shouldn't be allowed near a high school—as if low-rent apartments for single people are the harbinger of crack houses, brothels, and other dens of iniquity.