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On Other Blogs Today: Extra Wages for Republican Legislator, a Higher Minimum Wage for Workers, and More

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By Erica C. Barnett March 11, 2014


1. Despite a written hiring agreement saying that he could only use his vacation time and accrued personal leave while on duty in Olympia, the Columbian reports that Vancouver Republican state Sen. Don Benton (R-17) is being paid for his new job as head of the Clark County Department of Environmental Services even as he serves in the state senate.

Benton has received more than $8,500 in salary from Clark County while working in Olympia, under what his boss, Clark County administrator Mark McCauley, characterized as a "verbal agreement" to pay Benton even when he isn't showing up to work. 

Benton's salary at Clark County is around $115,000; he also receives a little over $42,000 for his part-time job as a legislator. 

 2. Also at the Columbian, a small-business owner—Don Orange of Vancouver's Hoesly Eco Automotive—offers an underrepresented perspective on proposals to raise the state minimum wage to $12 an hour: Better wages are better for small businesses, particularly those like Orange's, whose customers often have to weigh the cost of fixing their cars against more critical expenses like rent, groceries, and health care. 

As far as he's concerned, Orange writes, "yearly family incomes of even $40,000 or $50,000 make for bad customers. For those people, every trip to my shop, every repair or upgrade, is a momentous decision to be weighed against all other emergencies and necessities. More often than not, their patronage at my store gets postponed."

The $12 minimum wage flopped in the legislature this year, but as Seattle's own $15 minimum wage proponents have argued, more money in workers' pockets means more money in the economy, whether it's Seattle residents splurging on a weekly meal in a restaurant or Vancouver drivers replacing their rattling muffler. 

3. The Seattle Times has a long interview with WSDOT secretary Lynn Petersen, which unfortunately fails to shed much light on Petersen's concerns about the tunnel-boring machine ("I wasn't here" when the contract was approved), her views on why the TBM is stuck ("I'm no tunneling expert") or her opinion about the probability that the state, as opposed to the contractor, will be on the hook for cost overruns ("as the contract is written [my level of certainty that the state isn't responsible] is very high.")

Image via WSDOT on Flickr.

And, despite reporter Andrew Garber's repeated attempts (he asked the same question seven times) to get Petersen to say WSDOT's credibility had been damaged by problems with the tunnel, she refuses to take the bait. "We are trying to do the best job managing through to minimize risks to the taxpayer."

Note how many cars are driving illegally on bus-only Third Ave. at rush hour!

4. Who doesn't love a good time-lapse video? Check out this one of Third and Pine between 5 and 6 on a weekday afternoon, via Seattle Transit Blog (and note how many cars are driving illegally on bus-only Third Ave. at rush hour!)

5. Mayor Ed Murray announced this week that the city is implementing new "priority load zones" where musicians can load and unload their equipment in front of clubs without the danger of being ticketed or towed.

So far, there are only four, serving five clubs (venues have to apply for loading-zone status) but it's possible to imagine that in time, Seattle will start to look more like the other "city of music," Austin, TX, where entire lanes in the city's downtown club district have been designated musician loading zones for the past ten years.

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