OOBT

1. A concrete example of why Congressional Republicans are in trouble: freshman U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-WA, 3), is being challenged for reelection ... from the right.

The Columbian reports that despite Herrera Beutler's conservative views (she opposes transit, is staunchly anti-abortion, and has voted dozens of times to kill health-care reform), her challenger, Clark County Republican Michael Delaver, says she has failed to meet several key Tea Party litmus tests because she voted to end the government shutdown and supported the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, which upheld the president's authority to detain U.S. citizens suspected of involvement with terrorism. 

Delaver supported Ron Paul for president, and says the federal government should turn over many of its functions to individual states. 

2. Speaking of Congress' march to the right: A chart created by the National Journal illustrates the (frightening) disappearance of the political middle in Congress; between 1982 and 2012, according to the magazine's vote rankings (from conservative to liberal), the overlap between Republicans and Democrats has declined from 344 members of the U.S. House to 11.

In other words, in 1982, there were 344 members of Congress whose voting records fell somewhere between the most conservative voting Democrat and the most liberal voting Republican. By 2012, there were 11. 

3. The Seattle Bike Blog reports that the current plans for a Center City Connector streetcar along First Ave. downtown (connecting the South Lake Union and First Hill streetcar lines) do not "include a safe bike facility" on First Ave.

The city is considering either "shared" lanes—in which streetcar tracks would share the street with car traffic—or exclusive lanes, which would be streetcar-only. If the city chose the shared option, the streetcar could get from Jackson St. to Westlake in 12 minutes; with an exclusive lane, it could travel the same distance in six minutes. 

Either way, though, "building a streetcar on First Avenue without a bikeway could make the street more dangerous for people on bikes than it is today," the Bike Blog argues. 

4. Mother Jones drills down on the upcoming Whatcom County Council elections—which could help determine whether the Gateway Pacific Coal Terminal near Bellingham, which would be the largest coal terminal on the West Coast, gets built.

The money pouring in to the race for four Whatcom County Council seats "dwarfs anything ever seen in this county of lumberjacks, farmers, and banana slugs," Mother Jones reports—roughly $1 million, much of it from fossil fuel interests on one side and wealthy environmentalists on the other. The council will probably vote to approve or deny the terminal sometime in the next two years. 

5. While I totally agree with the basic premise of this Tacoma News Tribune op/ed by two leaders of the National Women's Political Caucus—women should encourage other women to run for office—the chorus of voices telling women that if they just "lean in," a la Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, men will welcome them gratefully into the halls of power strikes me as naive. Yes, we should be pushing ourselves.

At the same time (and not to get all bell hooks on you), the "you go girl" school of feminism that says that all we have to do is "lean in" and privileged white men will happily welcome us in to existing power structures ignores the very existence of those structures (look no further than the wage gap, the housework gap, or the child care gap if you think patriarchy doesn't exist.)

To (why not?) quote Ms. hooks:

No matter their standpoint, anyone who advocates feminist politics needs to understand the work does not end with the fight for equality of opportunity within the existing patriarchal structure. We must understand that challenging and dismantling patriarchy is at the core of contemporary feminist struggle – this is essential and necessary if women and men are to be truly liberated from outmoded sexist thinking and actions.

6. As usual, we're no San Francisco.

But according to a new analysis by researchers at the University of Oklahoma, who looked at how commuters get to work in major cities across the U.S., Seattle came in second on the West Coast in terms of transit, bike, and pedestrian mode share, followed by Oakland and, in fourth, Portland.

Nineteen and seven-tenths of Seattle commuters got to work on transit in 2012, along with 9.9 percent who walked, and 4.1 percent (more than San Francisco!) who rode their bikes. That leaves another 66.3 percent who got to work by some other method, including carpooling, vanpooling, and driving alone. 

7. The Vancouver Sun cites Seattle's experience with partial tolling—tolling some roads (like SR-520) while leaving others free (like I-90)—in an editorial arguing for comprehensive tolls: That is, tolls throughout the entire system, tolls drivers can't avoid by simply taking other routes.

If planners remove the option to drive for "free" on an alternate routes ("free" because driving miles out of the way obviously carries costs of its own), people will figure out other ways to avoid tolls, like avoiding trips, combining trips, taking transit, or carpooling. 

The likely outcome of comprehensive tolling is less traffic, and hence less of the other negative outcomes. There will be less pressure for new roads, and less cost to government, because the existing network is far more likely to work just fine. There will be less pollution and fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

Ultimately, a good system fosters urban densification, potentially saving thousands of acres of land from urban sprawl. And it will boost ridership, thus making transit systems more sustainable and less dependent on subsidies.

8. Finally, the Seattle Times reports that Initiative 517, which would give initiative campaigns more time to gather signatures and vastly expand their right to petition in public places and outside private businesses, is losing ground with voters; according to a recent poll, a plurality of voters—40 percent—oppose it, compared to 33 percent who support it. Seattle voters, in particular, oppose the Tim Eyman-backed measure.

 

 

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