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On Other Blogs Today: Ranking Crime, Fining Legislators, and a Very Special Session

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By Erica C. Barnett July 9, 2013


1. KOMO reports that WalkScore, the Laurelhurst-based (oh, the irony) company that tells you how walkable, bikeable, or transit-friendly your neighborhood is, has started using crime stats to rank neighborhoods by "crime heat"—that is, how safe a neighborhood is based on the number of crimes that occur there, normalized for population.

Currently, the site is in beta mode and still pretty glitchy, but the "heat map" does give a general sense of violent and property crimes by area.

Grain of salt, though: The company's proprietary algorithms are notorious for producing odd results; for example, as Grist has noted, WalkScore ranks Portland, a bike Mecca, lower on "bikeability" than Minneapolis, and "thinks that there are sidewalks on state highways."

In my neighborhood, the system ignores many major area businesses (PCC isn't a grocery store?) and doesn't yet acknowledge the existence of Car2Go. 

2. The News Tribune reports that senate Majority Coalition Caucus leader Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) wants to fine legislators $250 for every day they spend in special sessions and yank the per diems that pay for things like food and laundry.

That's pretty audacious. As head of the senate majority that stalemated with minority Democrats, he's arguably the legislator most in a position to negotiate a budget deal and keep lawmakers from having to go into not one but two special sessions.

3. State legislators may end up in yet another special session this fall if they can come to an agreement on a transportation funding package, the Everett Herald reports—too late to save King County Metro from 17 percent cuts to service (the agency is seeking the authority to pay for transit and county roads locally).

And neither side, the Herald reports, seems any closer to an agreement on the proposed $10 billion revenue package, which would be paid for by a new 10.5-cent gas tax, than they were when the legislature adjourned last month.

4. The PI.com reports that U.S. Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), along with two other liberal Democratic senators and Planned Parenthood, will lead the charge against an effort by U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to pass a new law that would ban all abortions after 20 weeks—a law that mirrors the one Texas Gov. Rick Perry hopes to pass in his state, which would be the most restrictive in the nation.

Abortion opponents hope Rubio, who is widely viewed as a Republican contender for President in 2016, will bring national attention to their efforts to severely restrict abortion in state legislatures across the country.

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