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On Other Blogs Today: Replacing Wilbur, Rejecting ORCA, and More

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By Erica C. Barnett July 31, 2013


1. Who should replace outgoing state Republican Party chair Kirby Wilbur? (Wilbur, as we reported Monday, is leaving to take a job in D.C. after just two years at the post). The Everett Herald suggests former attorney general Rob McKenna, calling him "the kind of sensible-center Republican that Democrats and Independents respect." 

It's an odd suggestion for two reasons: First (as the Herald acknowledges), McKenna is a relative moderate in a party dominated by right-wing Tea Party ideologues, and would have a hard time winning over the party faithful; and second, McKenna lost the governor's race last year to Democrat Jay Inslee, making him the highest-profile symbol in the state of a party that currently holds just one statewide office (Secretary of State Kim Wyman is a Republican.)

(Over at the Seattle Times, conservative columnist Bruce Ramsey says that whoever the Republicans pick, it should be someone under 50 with a suburban sensibility but with "respect for religious liberty and ... individual freedom," with an "affable" personality with Wilbur's and a "thick skin." But Ramsey, unlike the Herald, doesn't name names.)

2. Ramsey seems much more certain about economic opportunity: In a column about a recent study showing that Seattle has more upward mobility than many cities, he opines that everyone has an equal chance to get ahead in life, whether they're rich or poor; and that poor people who don't manage to move up the economic ladder are just making poor choices, either by moving into the "wrong" neighborhoods, sending their kids to the "wrong" schools, or "choosing" to spend less time with their kids than they should.

Nothing like listening to a wealthy North Seattle resident lecturing poor people who can't afford a house in a good neighborhood, private schools, and top-notch child care about how they're just making bad choices.

3. Mercer Island Patch reports that public comments on a proposed light-rail station on the island show overwhelming support for lots and lots and lots of car parking at the station. While that's hardly surprising for the wealthy, car-dependent island (residents of the island sued to stop light rail across I-90), it's kind of ironic that light rail opponents are now demanding more access (albeit by car) to light rail.

Several commenters even suggested a special permit for Mercer Island residents only—an idea akin to the special permit island residents already have to drive alone in HOV lanes, and the special permit they've sought to drive across I-90 in the future without paying tolls that will be charged to every other driver.

4. Thanks to anti-tax crusader Tim Eyman's anti-tax initiative I-960, Washington state voters will get the chance to vote in a nonbinding advisory election on five tax votes the legislature took this year, the News Tribune reports. The special election will cost taxpayers $240,000.

5. ORCA, schmorca.

TriMet, the Portland transit agency, is less than impressed with the Puget Sound region's One Regional Card for All, and has rejected an offer to adopt ORCA technology, the Oregonian reports; instead, they'll spend $30 million developing their own electronic card system befitting what one TriMet official called "the digital age we live in."

Ouch. ORCA has plenty of kinks—its machines frequently break down, they don't work if you have other smart-chipped cards in your wallet, and they cost $5 to replace if you lose them—but it's a pretty good system and solution to a problem that isn't of ORCA's making: The region's confusing multi-agency system, which used to require riders to be familiar with a bewildering range of different zone- and region-based fares. 

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