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On Other Blogs Today: War, Public Safety, and Tax Breaks

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By Casey Jaywork and Josh Feit September 12, 2014


1.  Over on his blog, state Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) uses this week's Washington State Supreme Court McCleary ruling to reiterate his longtime legislative priority: Forcing tax breaks to receive the same regular scrutiny that line-item budget expenditures get.

“Open the books for the public,” Carlyle says of the 650 tax exemptions.

And in his inimitable stentorian vernacular Carlyle says he wants to elevate “the dialogue about our state’s addiction to tax incentives and set in a motion the Legislature’s embrace of a more rigorous financial and analytical review by legislators themselves.”

2. Tom Fucoloro at Seattle Bike Blog has the deets on the newest plans to add bike infrastructure in Montlake as part of the state's megaproject to replace the (automobile-only) SR 520 bridge. 

Judging from the concept pictures, state planners are envisioning Ecotopia draped on top of a highway--part and parcel, no doubt, of Washington's well-known war on cars.

A future bike lane overpass.

3. Wednesday, President Obama delivered a speech outlining his plan to "eradicate" the "cancer" that is ISIL, also called the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

The Nation's Phyllis Bennis argues that Obama has abandoned measured diplomacy (painfully slow but effective in the long-term) for John-Wayne-style military intervention (feels effective, as long as you ignore the long-term blowback).

Salon's Elias Isquith is more on the fence: he's heartened that Obama didn't fall into Clash-of-Nations rhetoric, concerned about yet another de facto war that skips Congressional authorization, and critical of both left- and right-wing attacks on Obama's plan.

And The New York Times noted Wednesday that even as Obama hammered away at the "threat" ISIS poses (the word appears 16 times in his 14 minute speech), many experts say ISIS' ability to harm Americans has been vastly exaggerated in public discussion:

But as President Obama prepares to send the United States on what could be a yearslong military campaign against the militant group, American intelligence agencies have concluded that it poses no immediate threat to the United States. Some officials and terrorism experts believe that the actual danger posed by ISIS has been distorted in hours of television punditry and alarmist statements by politicians, and that there has been little substantive public debate about the unintended consequences of expanding American military action in the Middle East.

Here's hoping that deployment (or not) of the most powerful military in the world gets based on long-term policy considerations, and not politicians' need to look heroic.

4. Mayor Ed Murray announced today that his budget proposals for next year will include more spending on police and social services, according to Capitol Hill Seattle. Murray says he'll try to get 50 more cops on Seattle's streets, plus extra funding for homeless shelters and public health clinics. The Mayor also highlighted the importance of "transparency" and "accountability" within the city police department. This might not just be lip-service: the federal monitor which is supervising SPD's reform (or lack thereof) praised the Mayor in June for his involvement in fixing the department.

CHS also reports that Murray noted city police have started using CompStat, a data-tracking system which ideally leads to more effective policing--though critics warn that it can lead precincts to under-report crimes in order to create the illusion of successful policing (as dramatized in The Wire).

5. Over at Crosscut, reporter Bill Lucia has a fat follow-up to our story about the scaled back Watefront project; we had the news last week that the controversial Local Improvement District (LID) that’s supposed to fund much of the redesign, along with allthe  question marks about the tunnel construction, have caused the city’s Office of the Waterfront to “suspended” budget planning on the LID.

The LID line item, we’ve been told, is likely come way down from the original $250 to $300 million figure.

Lucia reports that the city has decided to cut the $22 to $23 million  floating pool barge that was envisioned for Piers 62 and 63 as part of the $1.1 billion waterfront redesign.  


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