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On Other Blogs Today: The Violent Crime Debate, the Recycling Nondebate, and More

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By Erica C. Barnett September 12, 2013


1. A post at the Downtown Seattle Association blog challenges this week's  2,400-word feature at the Stranger that trashes Mike McGinn's opponent, state Sen. Ed Murray, for supposedly lying about crime stats downtown. 

The DSA points out (using stats from the city of Seattle) that, contrary to the Stranger's rosy analysis, downtown crime is actually up in the areas of downtown that people think of as downtown. In the retail core and at Westlake Park, for example—two areas where people frequently complain they don't feel safe—violent crime has more than doubled when you compare 2013 to 2008 during the same period. In the police beat that includes the waterfront and Pioneer Square, it's at its highest level in six years. 

The Stranger reached its conclusion that violent crime is down, I'd point out, by including South Lake Union, the International District (which stretches to 12th & Jackson), and Lower Queen Anne as parts of "downtown."

Additionally, they write that if you count "only serious violence," crime citywide is down. That ignores some non-"serious" violent crimes—including any domestic violence that doesn't rise to the highest-level felony, known as a Part 1 crime. Overall, domestic violence is up 60 percent across the city.

The Stranger has a theory, and, big surprise, it's anti-Ed Murray and pro-Mike McGinn: People who feel scared downtown, they argue, don't have a right to feel scared because they're just being duped by "power brokers" (the Seattle Times, Murray, and the anti-McGinn members of the city council) into feeling scared. "This is a divisive political ploy based on misrepresentation of the context and facts," they write. Not sure you win this argument by telling people their perception that downtown is less safe is just irrational. 

Reported violent crimes in the police beat that includes Westlake and the downtown retail core.

(And, side note: The paper also misrepresents what Murray said about an aggressive panhandling law city council member Tim Burgess proposed in 2010, cherrypicking a tiny part of his response to the question. Murray, they write, said he would consider such a law if elected. "That is something that has to be looked at," they quote him as saying. Okay. But here's what he said next: He would "veto" such a proposal unless the city had reformed the police department "reestablished respect between the police department and the citizens," and expanded programs like Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion (LEAD), which directs low-level offenders to services instead of jail—and all of those steps failed to reduce street disorder.)

2. A new rule proposed by city council member Jean Godden would require businesses to recycle plastic, tin, aluminum, and glass. The Puget Sound Business Journal reports that Godden says that by 2019, the requirement would reduce waste by 6,000 tons; she expects it to pass unanimously. Currently, residential users—both renters and homeowners—are required to both recycle and compost yard and food waste.

3. The Olympian reports that Gov. Jay Inslee—who made a non-announcement announcement earlier this week that he plans to implement "Lean Management" to make state government more efficient and effectivee—has granted double-digit pay hikes to some agency directors, including a 17 percent raise for new Department of Licensing director Pat Kohler, who earns $141,000, and a 15 percent raise for Health Care Authority director Dorothy Frost Teeter, who earns around $152,000.

Rank and file state workers, meanwhile, had their pay and hours cut by 3 percent during the recession; that cut expired in June, bringing them back to their previous pay levels. 

4. Seattle Transit Blog reports that the Seattle Department of Transportation has given its official blessing to a downtown streetcar on First Ave., as opposed to a couplet of streetcars on Fourth and Fifth.

With two lanes of traffic taken over part-time by streetcars, it's going to be crowded down there, but First is probably a better choice: The Fourth/Fifth couplet would have had a greater impact on Third Ave. buses, a proposed Fourth Ave. cycletrack, and planned downtown developments; the First Ave. option (which would be the only transit service on First now that all the former First Ave. buses have moved to Third) will also serve more tourists than a streetcar further away from the waterfront. 

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