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On Other Blogs Today: Coal, Districts, Bellevue, and More

Our daily roundup.

By Erica C. Barnett October 10, 2013



1. In the contentious race for the 26th District state senate seat, to which Nathan Schlicher (D-Gig Harbor) was appointed after fellow Democrat Derek Kilmer was elected to Congress, the Seattle Times endorsed Schlicher over Republican Jan Angel, a conservative Republican who opposes the Affordable Care Act, has an 11 percent lifetime voting record from the Washington Conservation Voters, and who strongly opposes a proposed new gas tax to fund transportation projects in Washington state.

An Angel victory would tip the balance in the senate even further in favor of Republicans, who effectively control the senate, despite their numerical minority, thanks to a coalition they formed with two conservative Democrats.

2. Whoa: Oregon Public Broadcasting reports that more than 1,000 people turned out at yesterday's public comment session on a proposed coal terminal in Longview, which would be the U.S. terminus for some 44 million tons of coal a year headed from Montana and Wyoming to China.

According to Power Past Coal, an environmentalist anti-coal group, the majority of public comments at the hearing were opposed to the proposed coal terminal. OPB reports that opponents of the planned terminal want the Washington Department of Ecology and U.S. Army of Engineers to "look at the health impacts of transporting all that coal through other communities," while proponents want those agencies to "limit the scope of their reviews." 

Coal opponents wore red T-shirts; coal proponents wore blue.

3. In a piece for the Stranger, Anna Minard reports on a contentious issue that city council member Tim Burgess brought up back when he was running for mayor—the fact that the plan to convert Seattle elections from at-large to a hybrid seven-district, two at-large council system would leave just one minority-majority district, in Southeast Seattle (#2 below), with all of the six other proposed districts dominated by white voters.

Minard's piece quotes districts sponsor Faye Garneau—a north Seattle businesswoman who has contributed 89 percent of the district campaign's funds—calling claims that the proposed map disenfranchises minority South End voters "garbage."

As we pointed out earlier this year, the districts campaign's North Seattle-centric map has another potential problem: It favors single-family neighborhoods over the city's densest areas, dividing dense areas like Capitol Hill, and downtown up and lumping them in with wealthy single-family areas like (respectively) Montlake and Magnolia (and splitting Fremont, a pretty cohesive, and dense, neighborhood, in two). 

4. And speaking of contentious: KUOW reports on a debate between candidates for Bellevue City Council yesterday, where the two candidates for the council seat being vacated by conservative council member Don Davidson, who lost in the primary, differed somewhat on Bellevue's most controversial issue: Light rail.

Lynne Robinson, head of the Bellevue Parks Board, believes the rail route through downtown Bellevue the council ultimately adopted is too far from the center of the city's downtown, but that it's now the council's job to help it succeed; her opponent, Amgen employee Vandana Slatter, said the city needs to address auto mobility as well as light rail if it wants to reduce congestion and improve mobility. 

Two other incumbents up for reelection, Kevin Wallace and Conrad Lee, have long been part of the council's four-member anti-rail majority; the election of either Robinson or Slatter could shift the balance of the council in rail's favor. 

5. And speaking of urbanization: In the Guardian, David Byrne (yes, that David Byrne ... and yes, Josh made me add this item) has an essay on the problem with cities like New York: "Rampant inequality" is squeezing out creative people, annihilating the artistic genius that makes cities like NYC the vibrant places they've always been. A very short excerpt from a very long piece: 

The city is a body and a mind – a physical structure as well as a repository of ideas and information. Knowledge and creativity are resources. If the physical (and financial) parts are functional, then the flow of ideas, creativity and information are facilitated. The city is a fountain that never stops: it generates its energy from the human interactions that take place in it. Unfortunately, we're getting to a point where many of New York's citizens have been excluded from this equation for too long. The physical part of our city – the body – has been improved immeasurably. I'm a huge supporter of the bike lanes and the bikeshare program, the new public plazas, the waterfront parks and the functional public transportation system. But the cultural part of the city – the mind – has been usurped by the top 1%. [...]

One would expect that the 1% would have a vested interest in keeping the civic body healthy at least – that they'd want green parks, museums and symphony halls for themselves and their friends, if not everyone. Those, indeed, are institutions to which they habitually contribute. But it's like funding your own clubhouse. It doesn't exactly do much for the rest of us or for the general health of the city. At least, we might sigh, they do that, as they don't pay taxes – that we know.

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