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On Other Blogs Today: CRC Dead, Shen Endorsed, McQuaid Located

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By Erica C. Barnett July 1, 2013


1. As we mentioned in Fizz this morning, the state legislature went home without passing a transportation funding package, forcing cutbacks at transit agencies (including a 17 percent funding cut at King County Metro) and leaving major highway, road maintenance, and bridge projects unfunded.

Those unfunded bridges include the biggest one of all—the planned $3.4 billion Columbia River Crossing between Vancouver and Portland, which would have included a light rail link between the two cities. Republicans opposed the bridge because it included light rail and could have inconvenienced a handful of upriver businesses.

Over the weekend, the Oregonian reports, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber declared the project—which was years in the making and has already cost $170 million—dead, saying, "I am extremely disappointed that our legislative partners in the Washington state Senate failed to address the clear and present safety and economic need for this essential I-5 bridge."

Oregon's legislature already approved that state's $450 million contribution, but the Washington legislature needed to approve its own $450 million appropriation for the project to secure federal funding.

2. Portland Transport, a Portland/Vancouver transportation blog, sees the CRC's demise as good news: It means time to regroup and come up with a more transit-friendly alternative than the massive highway widening that made up the bulk of the CRC's expense. As younger voters supplant older Clark County anti-transit conservatives, they speculate, momentum could build for a CRC that's more transit-friendly than the proposed highway megaproject. 

"By killing the project, the next version of the CRC can start off with a clean slate, free from the burden of 'we've spent all this time and money so we can't quit now.' And when the project does get revisited, the politics will probably be far less in the favor of the concrete lobby."
This reminds us of the 2007 debate over RTID, the Roads & Transit initiative, when transit advocates came out against the measure, arguing that light rail would come back on its own in 2008. Which it did.)

3. The Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, which last week endorsed state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43) for mayor over current Mayor Mike McGinn, also endorsed an opponent of McGinn's frequent city council ally (and former Sierra Club compatriot), Mike O'Brien. The PI.com reports that the business group is backing Albert Shen, an engineering consultant who had raised a little over $112,000 (to O'Brien's approximately $74,000) as of the end of last month.

4. The Everett Herald reports that although state legislators may be patting themselves on the back for finding an additional $1 billion for K-12 education, that may not be enough to satisfy the mandate of the McCleary decision, in which the state supreme court ruled that the state had failed in its "paramount duty" under the state constitution to adequately fund education. The court will issue its analysis of the amount of funding the legislature provided, as well as whether the funding source is "regular and dependable," this fall. 
5. The Seattle Times tracked down the elusive Doug McQuaid—a mayoral candidate who has raised no money, does not have a website (the site listed on his city registration goes to an "under development" page that's currently a list of links to payday loan sites), and has not showed up at any mayoral forum. In their Q&A, we learn that McQuaid wants more neighborhood say over new developments, volunteers with Alcoholics Anonymous and at a drug treatment facility, believes light rail has hurt low-income and homeless people in the Rainier Valley, and considers himself a "serious candidate."
6. Finally, in Texas, The Texas Tribune has an Instagram feed featuring the thousands of abortion-rights supporters who showed up for what was supposed to be the first day of a special session called to pass one of the nation's most restrictive anti-abortion laws (it would shut down 37 of the state's 42 abortion clinics, including all clinics in the western half of the state). "Supposed to be," because less than an hour into the session, state Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst called a recess until July 9 so everybody could go on vacation, the Dallas Morning News reports.
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