1. At the Seattle Times, editorial board member Thanh Tan (whom we've praised in the past for writing a smart piece in favor of density in Seattle's urban areas) argues that news organizations should reconsider using helicopters for coverage because "accidents happen."
That's true, but rarely: As the Times itself has reported, only six news helicopters have crashed in the U.S. since 1980, not all resulting in fatalities, compared to some 40,000 fatalities from car crashes every year. In that context, suggesting an emergency reevaluation of helicopter policies is like calling for a massive U.S. public-health response to the threat of polio (which, like helicopter crashes, does kill a small number of citizens every year)—while millions are dying of other, far more common, preventable diseases.
2. Seattle Transit Blog deftly eviscerates the misleading "con" statement (which is going out to all county voters as part of the official April Voters Pamphlet) against the proposed $60 vehicle license fee and 0.1-cent sales tax increase, which, if passed, will allow Metro to avoid devastating service cuts.
The voter statement against the measure claims that the proposal would increase voters' costs from "$40 per vehicle over two years to "$600 per vehicle over 10 years: An unacceptable 1,500% increase."
To make that claim, STB points out, opponents of the measure have to conflate two years (of a $20 annual fee that's expiring this year) to ten years (of the $60 fee that's actually on the ballot)—an absurd apples-to-oranges comparison. (It's like saying that the proposed parks levy, which would apply in perpetuity, will cost voters an infinite amount.) Additionally, as STB notes, the proposal includes a $20 rebate for low-income drivers, a fact the "con" statement does not address.
3. KING 5 has the news that Seattle Tunnel Partners, the group of companies in charge of building the downtown deep-bore tunnel, has relented and agreed to revamp its contracting practices to include more minority- and women-owned businesses. The station reports that STP is now "contractually obligated" to provide at least $96 million in contracts to such historically disadvantaged businesses, and that it has entered into an agreement with the federal government to ensure that it actually follows through with its oblivation.
STP got in trouble earlier this year for failing to live up to its promises to spend some $90 million on small women- and minority-owned contractors; instead, it had spent only about 8 percent of the total it promised.
4. You think your housing costs are too damn high: In San Francisco, the Washington Post's Wonkblog reports, some 43.5 percent of all homes for sale have asking prices above $1 million. Here in Seattle, that number is a comparatively minor 7.4 percent, well below other high-priced cities like San Jose (where 25.7 percent of homes listed for above $1 million), New York (20.8 percent), and Honolulu (19.8 percent).
5. In response to a case that prompted disgraced Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Granier, who was charged with sexual assault by a subordinate, to crow triumphantly hat "the system worked" (Granier got a slap-on-the-wrist fine and no demotion or jail time), U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) has vowed to reform how the military responds to the too-common problem of sexual assault in its ranks, the PI.com reports.
Earlier this month, the senate blocked efforts by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand (D-NY) to pass legislation that would have given military attorneys, not officers who supervise soldiers making charges of sexual assault, the ability to decide whether to pursue a case. (In the military, unlike in civilian office environments, a person alleging sexual assault has to ask their boss for permission to press charges against someone who may answer to the same boss.)