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On Other Blogs Today: Transit's Future, McGinn's Legacy, Murray's Strategy, and More

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By Erica C. Barnett December 17, 2013


1. King County Metro says that without new revenue options from the state, it's facing service cuts of up to 17 percent. Although the true number is likely lower, thanks to higher-than-expected sales tax revenues post-Great Recession, Metro is still planning a major, system-wide restructuring that would involve significant service cuts. 

But does it have to be that way? Seattle Transit Blog's David Lawson says not necessarily. He's put together an "ideal" Metro service map, which consists of what he calls the "best possible bus network regardless of resources, with no buses running less frequently than every 15 minutes.

That network, he says, would only require a 33 percent increase in service hours for today's level. And that scenario, Lawson argues (a bit optimistically), "could actually come to pass, if there were a solution to the 17 percent cut, a few good years of economic growth, and maybe one more funding vote premised on meaningful improvements." 

Image via Seattle Transit Blog.

Many transit proponents have argued for fixed rail as a more development-friendly transit solution than buses, and they're right. Citywide is a laudable goal. A subway system would, similarly, be great. But in the immediate future, improving our bus system to the point that no one is stuck waiting in the rain for a half-hour or an hour seems like a more achievable, and universally useful, goal than a prohibitively expensive grade-separated system that serves only one or two parts of the city. 

2. In a less-than-gracious parting interview with the PI.com's Joel Connelly, Mayor Mike McGinn blames the city's "elites" for his defeat—specifically, business and "Democratic party elites"—and accuses the city council of applying a "double standard" when allocating funds to various programs, citing the fact that they combed the mayor's Youth Violence Prevention Inititiative while approving a waterfront redevelopment plan with little scrutiny.

“There’s an awful lot of people with an awful lot of status in this town, who were afraid of losing that status," McGinn tells Connelly. "I was a threat to them.”

It's an awfully bitter last word from the outgoing mayor. And it doesn't exactly square with the generous contributions McGinn received from "elites" like Vulcan, Amazon, and white-shoe downtown law firms like Foster Pepper.

Not to mention the tens of thousands third-party campaigns raised on his behalf from the "Democratic Party elites" at the Washington, D.C.-based hotel workers' union, UNITE HERE and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union.

Loyal Democrats UNITE HERE and UFCW have donated millions to Democratic candidates and party organizations like the Democratic Congressional Camapign Committee (the DCCC).


 3. How did Washington state U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, the head of the Senate budget committee, keep all the Senate Democrats united behind a budget deal that cuts federal workers' pension benefits, presreves tax loopholes, and allows unemployment benefits for needy workers to expire?

Talking Points Memo has a look behind the curtain. 

4. The Seattle Times reports that freelance photographer Alex Garland is suing the Seattle Police Department over a May Day incident in which he was charged with assaulting an officer, pepper-sprayed, and arrested. Prosecutors dropped charges against Garland after viewing a video showing that, contrary to the arresting officer's claim that Garland had grabbed his arm and twisted it, Garland never even touched the officer. 

As I reported at the time, an SPD officer at the same event pepper-sprayed me in the eyes, nose, and mouth at point-blank range when I attempted to take a photo of a woman who had fallen or been thrown to the ground in front of an officer's bike. After pepper-spraying me, the officer shoved me roughly several blocks up the street with his bike before I was able to escape down an alley. I was unable to identify the officer (pepper spray causes temporary blindness), so in lieu of filing a complaint, I went through mediation with the city's Office of Professional Accountability, which deals with allegations of officer misconduct.

I look forward to seeing how Garland's suit turns out.

5. An American Amazon worker who lives and works in Germany says Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos "would not survive" for a single week as a "picker" in one of his company's warehouses, where employees work for low wages as "contract" workers assembling and packing orders for the retail giant.

Washington State Labor Council blog The Stand reports that Amazon workers have been walking off the job in Germany to protest conditions in warehouses there, and on Monday, dozens of German workers traveled to Amazon's South Lake Union headquarters in Seattle to demand better wages and working conditions. The workers say they should be classified as retail employees and paid better wages; the company says they are "logistics" employees who should be paid less. 


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