1. KING-5 (and Time and the New York Times et al.) have the news that an I-5 bridge collapsed over the Skagit river in Mt. Vernon early last night. The collapse was caused by an oversized truck, which hit the span. Two cars fell about 50 feet into the shallow water below. Three people were rescued and taken to the hospital and there were no reported deaths.
Fizz was at the King County Conservation Voters annual fundraising dinner in South Lake Union last night when the news of the collapse had everyone glued to their phones and the uniform response from the lefty environmentalists and Democratic politicians in the room was: Maybe now we'll get a transportation package. Or more explicitly from one state legislator: "Maybe the MCC [the Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus, which controls the senate and opposes money for a new bridge over the Columbia River between Vancouver and Portland] will get off its ass."
Washington Secretary of Transportation Lynn Peterson, who was at the dinner, rushed out to join Gov. Jay Inslee at the scene. Her comments alluded to the politics:
"It's an older bridge that needs a lot of work just like a good number of bridges around the state," she said at the press conference.
Rep. Judy Clibborn (D-41, Mercer Island), the Democratic house transportation chair, whose transportation funding plan includes the money to go forward with the Columbia River Crossing [CRC], was more direct. KING 5 reports:
"It is shocking that I-5 would have something happen like this," she said. Clibborn said the collapse will call attention to the issues facing bridges -- especially the old bridge over the Columbia River that connects Vancouver and Portland, Ore.
2. Speaking of the KCCV dinner, the group certainly has an original fundraising pitch. As opposed to the usual earnest ask from the executive director or high-profile supporter, KCCV has two supporters do competing pitches and audience members, getting into the spirit of competition and snarkiness, opt to give money to one roaster or the other as the donations escalate.
She made a point of calling out the candidates who were no-shows.
KCCV board member and Sound Transit staffer Rachel Smith, facing off against local environmental lawyer Ken Ledderman, carried the day.
Her biggest zing: Asked who should be the next mayor of Seattle, she made a point of calling out the candidates who were no-shows—incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn, Seattle City Council member Bruce Harrell, and former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck—quipping, "absence duly noted."
A fourth mayoral candidate, State Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), was at a center table and had gotten a shout out to heavy applause earlier in the program, though Smith's on-the-spot faux endorsement went to the candidate, she said, who pledged to make a hefty donation to KCCV.
3. Speaking of fundraisers: Transportation Choices Coaltion, the scrappy transit advocacy group which held its 20-year anniversary party last weekend, reports that they raised a whopping $140,000.
4. Erica will be on KUOW's Weekday this morning at 10 to talk about the top stories of the week.
5. You may remember that in yesterday's Fizz we noted that Steinbrueck, who's perceived as the "neighborhood" candidate in the race, which is Seattle shorthand for anti-downtown establishment, was rumored to be the surprise standout at the chamber of commerce mayoral forum on Tuesday. (The chamber tells Fizz they didn't video the event, so we're relying on a batch of eyewitness acounts.)
Why was Steinbrueck a hit? One attendee tells Fizz that Steinbrueck, when asked about burdens on local business, noted the new paid sick leave policy, saying critically it would have been more appropriate for the state to deal with the issue. The state, with a push from conservative MCC senate majority leader Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina), is trying to scale back the paid sick leave law; it is in fact one of their priorities in the special session.
However, Steinbrueck spokeswoman Kathy Mulady tells Fizz simply: "Peter supports paid sick leave." Asked if he supports the version the council passed and about the state legislature's attempt to amend it, Mulady repeated: "He supports paid sick leave."
"I got hosed," he told the committee.
6. During yesterday's city council taxi committee meeting, at which dozens of taxi and for-hire car drivers expressed their opposition to the expansion of new, largely unregulated ridesharing services like SideCar and Lyft in Seattle, city council central staff director Ben Noble offered a personal perspective on the viability of such services: As part of his research into the ridesharing issue, Noble signed up for Sidecar—a serivce where people who own cars can sign up to give lifts to the carless—and decided he wouldn't be quitting his day job.
"I got hosed," he told the committee, earning just $1 for a ride between downtown and Capitol Hill that would have cost his passengers about $10 by taxi. (SideCar allows users to pay whatever they want for rides, and keeps the payment secret from drivers until after passengers are out of the car). Actually, Noble added, it was worse than that: Because SideCar takes a 20 percent fee off the top of a fare, he only made 80 cents. "I guess I'm more charming up here than I was" as a SideCar driver, Noble said.
7. Next Tuesday May 28 at 6:00 at the Jewel Box Theater in Belltown (the back room at the Rendezvous), PubliCola is hosting a discussion—moderated by Q13 TV's C.R. Douglas—on development and density, focusing on microhousing.
On our ThinkTank panel: Seattle City Council member Tom Rasmussen, who considered proposing a moratorium aPodments; Diane Sugimura, Seattle's Department of Development Director who oversees the city's zoning and planning policies; Bill Bradburd, an outspoken neighbhorhood activist who opposes aPodments; and Roger Valdez, a microhousing proponent and density evangelist with Smart Growth Seattle.