Caffeinated News

1. Combining letter grades and standard job performance measures, a new Elway Poll found "that most voters are OK with the job Inslee is doing as governor. Not enthusiastic, but not angry either," pollster Stuart Elway says.

53 percent said Gov. Inslee was doing a "Fair" (34 percent) or "Poor" (19 percent) job vs. 42 percent who said Gov. Inslee was doing an "Excellent" (seven percent) or "Good" (35 percent) job. Elway polled 502 voters in late December.

Overlaying an A-F scale, Elway said, added nuance to the findings. Inslee's "solid 'C' (GPA=2.15)," with nearly twice as many As and Bs than Ds and Fs, led Elway to conclude: "Even those who say he is doing an 'only fair' job are not especially critical. The flatness in the 'Excellent-Poor' ratings throughout his term suggests that, so far, he has not moved very many people off their initial impression of him. After two years in office, most voters are still giving Jay Inslee the benefit of the doubt."

Voters initial impression—after six months on the job in the summer of 2013—was 49 percent "Only fair or poor" vs. 40 percent "Good" or "Excellent," according to Elway's first poll a year and a half ago.

2. Yesterday, I reported that Vulcan—currently lobbying the mayor and council against a proposed "Linkage Fee" that would tax new development to pay for affordable housing—bought Mayor Ed Murray's ticket to Saturday's Seahawks playoff game. The mayor's office, which initially told me Vulcan gave Murray (and his husband) the tickets, later told me that the Seahawks—not Vulcan—provided the tickets, an inconsequential difference (both companies are owned by Paul Allen) Seattle Ethics and Elections director Wayne Barnett told me.

However, Barnett had also told Murray's legal counsel Lorena Gonzalez last week when she asked him, that the gift was kosher because Murray was performing a "Ceremonial Function"

Looking for an explanation—Murray's "Ceremonial Function" consisted of waving at the crowd—I followed up with Barnett about his ethical stamp of approval. Barnett said the Seahawks were simply "facilitating something he [Murray's] gotta do [as mayor] ... as opposed to him taking in a Sunday game in October." 

In Barnett's estimation, and he readily acknowledged he was making personal interpretations of the guidelines which permit gifts for "ceremonial functions," Murray had to be at Saturday's game because the game had transformed into a day of civic pride; Barnett compared it to a city parade. Barnett, who judges gifts on a case by case basis, said his Spidey Senses might have started tingling if Murray was coming to him every Sunday to green light gifts of Seahawks tickets.

The fact that Murray and his staff were evidently palling around with Vulcan lobbyists on Saturday (Murray's chief of staff Chris Gregorich is pictured below at the game with Vulcan lobbyists Barb Wilson and Jared Axelrod in photos Wilson posted on Facebook) certainly complicates the issue. (Murray staffer Gregorich paid for his own ticket.)

Barnett said anyone was free to go over his head and raise the issue with the commission.

3. In more Seahawks-as-official-government-business news, I also followed up with King County Metro about all the Seahawks messaging (and logo) that was evidently getting free air time on Metro buses.

King County Metro spokesman Jeff Switzer confirmed that the Seahawks aren't paying for the displays and told me in an email:

“Go Seahawks!” was added to destination signs on buses as a fun way to show our team support and civic pride. We also have Go Mariners!, Go Sounders!, Go Huskies! and Go Cougars! [What? No  "Go Storm!"?—Eds]

Our destination signs are not for sale and therefore are not part of the advertising policy inventory. [Metro's advertising guidelines prohibit the "appearance of  favortism" for any advertiser over another—Eds.] These signs are temporary, and will be removed after the Seahawks win the Super Bowl.

You may see Metro operators showing their support for the Seahawks, too. During the playoffs, they are allowed to wear Seahawks gear on “Blue Friday,” the Friday immediately preceding a championship playoff game.

Our customers continue to respond positively to the signs and the community support it demonstrates. Riders are fans, too, and we’re glad they take transit to games and help reduce traffic and pollution.

One person who didn't respond positively is retired Metro bus driver George Hickey from West Seattle. Hickey sent an email to Metro yesterday complaining about a policy which allowed "operators ... to display the Seahawks sign at their discretion." 

Hickey wrote:

I'm curious as to what other personal activities (supporting a sports team is a personal activity) King County employees are allowed [on] publicly funded equipment. I'm unable to understand why county employees (operators on the clock) are allowed the use of publicly funded equipment, purchased to transport the public, to promote the interests of a private company. Even if it only takes the operator 30 seconds to set up that Seahawks sign, that is 30 seconds of public money (about 3 cents) intended for transportation expenditure not being used for that purpose. I disagree with but understand the civic pride argument but isn't there a legal prohibition against public resources, in this case employees and buses, being used to promote a private business for free? And in a manner arbitrarily unavailable to any one else?

Hickey also wrote to King County Council member Rod Dembowski to complain about the Seahawks promos.

Dembowski emailed back:

I trust that the transit division will take a look at the concerns you raised, and make a determination as to whether or not this show of pride for our hometown football team is appropriate ...  In fact, I believe that the displays have increased the general public's appreciation for and awareness of our transit system by increasing its visibility by associating the system with the tremendous amount of civic pride for the Seahawks. I personally don't view it as a subsidy or gift of value to a private entity in any way whatsoever. Indeed, it appears that we are using the Seahawks logo without payment to the team, which would ordinarily be required for a registered trademark.  

You seem to imply that we could sell this electronic reader board space to commercial entities.  I don't believe that Metro Transit makes the displays available for commercial sale, and therefore I don't believe that they are losing potential revenue by displaying, on an intermittent basis, the "Go Seahawks" image or logo.

4. File this under Pedestrian (and Bike) Chronicles: We're watching the legislative session, and this Republican-sponsored bill, allowing mopeds to drive in bike lanes, certainly caught our attention.

(For more coverage of the legislature, check out yesterday's Afternoon Jolt featuring a report on the Republican-controlled state senate.)

5. And file this under On Other Blogs Today: Seattle Times transportation reporter Mike Lindblom has a report on yesterday's contentious city council hearing where WSDOT's tunnel team updated skeptical council members (that means Mike O'Brien) on the project.


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