1. At a packed hearing yesterday afternoon, the King County Council heard more public testimony about pending bus cuts if the council doesn't pass its proposed $20 car license fee to fund Metro service.

The council was scheduled to vote on the proposal after the testimony, but put off the decision until August 15. Erica's live coverage is here.

2. City council member Tom Rasmussen---who voted against his colleague Tim Burgess's proposal to crack down on aggressive panhandling last year---now says he'd like to focus some city resources instead on nonprofit solicitors who use aggressive tactics to solicit donations from people downtown and in the University District.

Of four companies that solicit donations, Rasmussen says, just one---Dialogue Direct, whose clients include Children International---has not returned calls or agreed to meet with him. The other three, he says, have agreed to abide by the city's solicitation law, which says solicitors (a term that includes both panhandlers and firms that contract with charities) "may not commit the crime of pedestrian interference, which means, in a public place, to intentionally obstruct pedestrian traffic or aggressively beg."

"I've gotten more complaints about [nonprofit solicitation] than I have about aggressive panhandling," Rasmussen says.

3. The Seattle Times has a big story on the impact that tolling will have on the tunnel—highlighting the anti-tunnel campaign's argument that the toll will divert 40,000 cars to city streets.

One thing the article failed to mention, which could make the scenario even worse, is that Tim Eyman's new initiative, I-1125, which regulates tolling, prohibits variable tolling (charging different tolls at different times of the day.)

As Fizz pointed out earlier this month: Without the ability to lower and raise the toll based on demand, the state's diversion numbers (and revenue numbers—they're counting on $400 million) are out of whack.

4. Speaking of the tunnel, the pro-tunnel camp sent out a press release yesterday touting its latest campaign finance report, which they say shows broad-based support:

  • 146 donations of $50 or less

  • 203 donations of $100 or less

  • 226 donations of $250 or less

  • Microsoft and tunnel contractors Dragados and Tutor Perini each gave $25,000

  • Downtown Seattle Association, Chamber of Commerce, and Equity Residential each gave $15,000.

  • The Seattle and Ethics and Elections Commission deadline for contributions of more than $5,000 is July 25. More than $216,000 came into Let’s Move Forward in the past week as many donors made their final decisions.

  • The anti-campaign followed up with a press release of its own, highlighting the Dragados and Tutor Perini contributions. Both companies are part of the tunnel contracting team.
    “These corporations are spending $25,000 so that we will give them $1.3 billion of our tax dollars. These checks are easy to write while they have Seattle taxpayers on the hook for all cost overruns, ” said Ben Schiendelman, spokesperson for Protect Seattle Now.

    “Today we are calling on tunnel supporters to return this money from the tunnel contractors and instead run a campaign based on the interest of Seattle taxpayers,” said Tim Harris, Director of Real Change News and leader of Protect Seattle Now. “This money will be spent to manipulate voters about a project that will bankrupt Seattle and benefit a few national and international corporations.”

    Full disclosure: Local sustainable real estate developer, Urban Visions, contributed $10,000 to the pro campaign. One of PubliCola's investors, Greg Smith, is the founder and CEO of Urban Visions.

    5. In a letter to Seattle Weekly advertisers yesterday, the head of Global Philanthropy Group---who previously asked Weekly advertisers to withdraw their ads from the paper because of ads that involved child sex trafficking on the Weekly's online classified service, Backpage.com---emailed the same advertisers saying that the organization was "no longer calling on advertisers to withdraw their ads from the Village Voice, the Seattle Weekly, or any of their related publications."

    The organization's director, Trevor Neilson, wrote that he now has "come to believe that they are serious about working diligently to prevent their digital classifieds website from being used by those seeking to exploit children or others."  The Weekly has the full letter here.

    6. A reader sent in this photo of a traffic-counting tube on Pike and Broadway, positioned parallel to---and directly in the middle of---the bike lane. The reader was riding his bike in the lane when he hit the tube lengthwise, flying off his bike and hitting two cars, spraining both ankles.

    "All they had to do was put the counter tubes on the other side of the parked cars, along the curb," the reader writes. We have a call out to the Seattle Department of Transportation to find out why they placed the tube in the middle of the bike lane.
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