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On Other Blogs Today: Driving High, Setting Precedents, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett May 3, 2013



1. Matt Yglesias has a piece in Slate that deftly sums up the reasons why the NBA board of governors wants to keep the Kings in Sacramento instead of allowing them to move to Seattle despite the fact that Sacramento has submitted a lower bid. It's all about how the arena gets paid for, Yglesias says—a theory Josh laid out earlier this week. 

Essentially, Yglesias says, the NBA doesn't want to set a precedent that would give other cities an incentive to develop arenas in collaboration with private investors like Chris Hansen, because they prefer to be able to threaten to leave cities unless they get new publicly financed arenas. "An individual owner just wants to sell to the highest bidder," Yglesias writes. "But the league approval process means the owners as a whole can think of the interests of the overall cartel, and those interests very much include a strong interest in maintaining the ability to get cities to pony up subsidies.

2. Sightline has the (happy) news that deaths due to car crashes have declined in Washington state to their lowest level in years—a trend that correlates directly with the fact that drivers in the state are driving less and driving safer. That's true despite the fact that Washington has relatively (and increasingly, with last year's marijuana legalization initiative) permissive marijuana laws—driving under the influence of alcohol, it turns out, is much more dangerous than driving while high.

3. Ouch: The Seattle Times' Lance Dickie isn't convinced that state Sen. Don Benton (R-17, Vancouver) is quite as qualified for his new gig running Clark County's department of environmental services as his advocates claimed. (The Clark County board of commissioners' two Republicans voted to appoint Benton to the position without the ordinary public process, prompting the group's lone Democrat to storm out of the meeting in disgust.)

Noting that Benton's non-legislative resume is confined to stints as a marketing and ad consultant, founding a temp firm, and selling insurance, Dickie concludes that the two Republican commissioners "said that Benton was fully qualified and they did not need to open the job to candidates. You decide."

4. The Spokesman-Review editorial board argues that both the Democratic Party-controlled state house and the Republican-dominated state senate are playing budgetary tricks to balance the state budget, "inflat[ing] revenue expectations, and assum[ing] leaner management will wring savings from a government apparatus wrung hard from four years of squeezing.

Citing a letter from state treasury secretary Jim McIntire warning against "phantom savings and raids on reserves and capital funds," the paper writes, "A false move could trigger downgrades on bonds the state sells to finance construction projects." 

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