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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Morning News: Coyote Sightings in Ballard, and What Amazon Gets for Building a Data Center

Posted by on Tue, Sep 16, 2014 at 8:55 AM

PROWLING BALLARD? There are reports of a creature like this.
  • Cynthia Kidwell/Shutterstock
  • PROWLING BALLARD? There are reports of a creature like this.

"Upon further examination I realized it was a coyote": According to MyBallard, there have been several sightings of a creature that is not a dog and looks "well fed and not afraid."

Real Housewives of Kirkland? A casting call for "20-40 year olds who made their money in Washington's booming tech center," "live in Seattle or Eastside area," and "make more money than you know how to spend."

Amazon's $1.1 billion data center: Planned for Dublin, Ohio, in exchange for "a 100 percent, 15-year sales-tax exemption." Oh, also the company gets a tax credit for adding jobs. And: "Amazon also is working to get land for the site for free from the city."

FALSE ADVERTISING! Danny Westneat says riding Seattles buses made him bitter.
  • Seattle Municipal Archives
  • FALSE ADVERTISING! Columnist says riding Seattle's buses made him "bitter."

Danny Westneat rides Seattle's bus system: Is dismayed because it has problems, fails to note the role of his own newspaper's editorial page in perpetuating those problems, get smacked around by Seattlish.

Rent increase for Seattle low-income housing tenants: It's causing "panic," according to The Seattle Times. The Seattle Housing Authority calls the change "Stepping Forward," and:

It would pair rent hikes with job counseling and encourage tenants who are able to work to become self-sufficient, SHA brass say.

But Mayor Ed Murray, City Councilmember Kshama Sawant and others oppose the plan, setting up a showdown at City Hall for the future of public housing in Seattle.

A public meeting on the matter is set for this evening at 6 p.m. at the Meadowbrook Community Center.

Obama to send troops to fight Ebola: The New York Times reports they'll help construct treatment facilities and "train up to 500 health care workers a week to deal with the crisis."

MIGRATION MAKER If you thought Amazon was changing the population of Seattle, wait for the climate migrants.
  • Ideas_supermarket/Shutterstock
  • MIGRATION MAKER If you thought Amazon was changing the population of Seattle, wait for the climate migrants.

Get ready for climate-change refugees in Seattle: "The good news, according to the climate models, is that things are likely to be much worse elsewhere," says Knute Berger. The bad news: People fleeing elsewhere will be coming here.

A faster phase-out of gases that power your office air conditioner: "The Obama administration is preparing to introduce major steps to phase out production of a popular chemical coolant used in refrigerators and air conditioners, citing growing evidence that the substance is contributing to the warming of the planet," the Washington Post reports. This isn't Freon, which got banned in the 1990s for tearing up the ozone. This is Freon's replacement, R-134a, which doesn't tear up ozone but is thought to be a bigger driver of climate change than carbon dioxide.

What Seattle's new waterfront park might look like: "Leaders now believe they’ve come up with a way to pay for the park and keep it active and safe." (Reminder: Here's what the waterfront park might look like "if all the world's ice sheets melt".)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Mayor Murray and Council Member Licata Announce New City Office of Labor Standards

Posted by on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 1:05 PM

Ed Murray and Nick Licata make wage-law enforcement officially official.
  • AM
  • Ed Murray and Nick Licata make wage-law enforcement officially official.
This is all fairly straightforward, but for anyone who's been following the minimum-wage debate closely, you've been waiting with bated breath for this moment: At a City Hall press conference this morning, Mayor Ed Murray and city council member Nick Licata announced a proposal to create a city Office of Labor Standards to run the enforcement of city labor laws like the new $15 minimum wage.

Currently, business compliance with two of the city's other notable labor ordinances—the paid sick leave ordinance and a law regulating how employers can use background checks in hiring—is enforced through the city's Office for Civil Rights (OCR). OCR is great, but that's not necessarily a great fit (nor are there enough resources there). And the city's wage theft law is technically enforced via complaints to the police department, but it's generous to call that "enforcement," since no one ever gets charged with breaking that law.

Enter a city office designed expressly for the purpose of enforcing these great progressive labor laws that the city is so proud of passing. Mayor Murray calls this a "one-stop shop" for both employers and employees, with a focus heavy on education at the start, while the wage law is still new. Council Member Licata has been pushing for an office like this for a long time now, and he says he's "excited" to see it finally come to the table.

The budget details (nerd alert!): This office will be funded by sweeping the current employee hours that OCR is spending enforcing these laws—that's 1.5 positions—and combining it with 5.5 new positions, for a total of 7 full-time equivalent positions in the Office of Labor Standards. The budget for that comes from the general fund, and will be $511,000 in new dollars in 2015 and $660,000 in 2016. But the existing work is funded at $165,000 a year, so the total will actually be $715,000 in 2015 and $825,000 in 2016, according to mayoral spokesperson Jason Kelly.

They also announced a Labor Standards Commission to guide the work of the office. I'm so sick of city committees and commissions I'll reserve judgement till later, but they did say it will be composed of both employees and employers.

Two other important things:

Continue reading »


Is There Something a Little Distasteful About the New Report Claiming That "Classical Music" in Public Places is the Key to a "Calm Public"?

Posted by on Mon, Sep 15, 2014 at 12:02 PM

What's bothering me about this short story in the Independent claiming that playing "classical music" in public places "could improve people’s behaviour... as it creates 'a calming effect by releasing pleasure-inducing dopamine and inhibiting the release of stress hormones'"?

More dopamine and fewer stress hormones sounds nice—but the idea as a whole makes me a little itchy. It recalls the various downtown businesses—from McDonald's to condos—playing opera and country music to "reduce crime." The implication is as clear as a bell: White-dominated music (and, in the case of classical, "civilized, white-dominated music") will chase away the violence, chaos, and crime. If a passer-by can't enjoy our notion of what music should sound like, she's probably a threat of some kind.

Maybe it's just because I've spent the morning reading Terra Nullius by Sven Lindqvist, in which he charts the hideous way Australian Aborigines were mentally exterminated by Europeans long before they broke out the guns and infections—because whites couldn't see anything they recognized, or anything they considered civilized, they considered the land empty. Terra nullius.

"This solid wall of white incomprehension ends with a death sentence couches in a tone of forced jocularity." Lindqvist writes. "'They'll soon be gone.'" Whether "gone" meant chased away or cut down didn't particularly matter—as long as they were out of sight, the colonizers were satisfied.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Halei Watkins, 26, Will Run for City Council's North Seattle District Next Year

Posted by on Wed, Sep 10, 2014 at 9:02 AM

HALEI WATKINS At Matthews Beach. Shes running for city councils North Seattle district in 2015.
  • Kelly O
  • HALEI WATKINS At Matthews Beach. She's running for a seat in the city council's open North Seattle district in 2015.
The current Seattle City Council can be very progressive when compared to, uh, conservative cities. They've gotten good at entertaining banter from the dais. They wear fleece and ride bikes and pass feel-good resolutions. Sometimes they even tackle serious issues (minimum wage, public preschool).

But often, the council amounts to a bunch of rich older people answering letters from other rich older people. It's been that way for years now. A third of the council members have served for a decade or more. There are three former attorneys and a former CFO. Their average age is in the 60s. Nothing wrong with spending your golden years in public service, but the council rarely feels like a group in touch with what it's like to be, say, a renter in your 20s or 30s who lives paycheck to paycheck.

And that's a big demographic in Seattle.

When voters resoundingly passed a measure last year creating new geographical districts for city council races, it opened the door for a new kind of campaign. You can run an effective door-knocking ground game in a neighborhood-based district in a way you never could in the city at large. Which in turn could mean a new kind of candidate: younger, less wealthy, less entrenched with donations from the status quo donors, perhaps more in tune with a new generation of Seattleites.

Meet Halei Watkins.

Continue reading >>

Saturday, September 6, 2014

The Best of Slog: The Truth About PAX, Pronto, and Wu Tang Paraphernalia

Posted by on Sat, Sep 6, 2014 at 10:57 AM

"Like" If You Suck: Seattle police officer Christopher Hall sure does seems to be a terrible person on Facebook.

Hear That Train A-Comin': Activists in Everett blocked oil trains all day on Tuesday.

Storyville Coffee's Connection to Mars Hill Church: Bethany Jean Clement has been looking into a Storyville/Mars Hill connection for some time now, but this seems significant: "Storyville owner Jon Phelps is joining Mars Hill's Board of Advisors and Accountability."

Long Lines, a Diversity Lounge, and Pinkeye: Callan Berry's illustrated review of PAX is just about the best thing ever.

We're Fans of Pronto Cycle Share: But Charles Mudede does have a point when he suggests that Pronto seems to be avoiding Seattle's predominantly non-white neighborhoods.

Celebrity Skin: Did you look at the celebrity photos that were released over Labor Day weekend?

The Play's the Thing: Annie Wagner returns to The Stranger to tell you to ignore the hubbub and go see Angels in America.

Fly the Angry Skies: Dan Savage asks if airlines would notice if more people fought over legroom on domestic flights.

Durkan Won't Be Workin' at the End of This Month: Could US Attorney Jenny Durkan be defecting to Team Hillary?

You Know It's Not a Real Flavor, Right? Megan Seling looked into America's out-of-control pumpkin spice epidemic.

Bumbershot: We published reviews of (almost) every band (give or take) that (allegedly) played at Bumbershoot. Read them by clicking these links: Saturday. Sunday. Monday. Here's everything that Emily Nokes learned at Bumbershoot, too.

Such Wu. Many Tang. So Wow. Look at all these Wu Tang Clan outfits! People wore non-Wu Tang clothes to Bumbershoot, too.

It's OK, I've Got a System: Nipper has fond memories of friends who tried to game the Columbia House Record Club.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Fair Weather Report: Seahawks Vs. Packers Tonight

Posted by on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 2:10 PM


Tonight is the Seahawks' first regular season game. In fact, it's the first regular season game for the league. The Hawks ended up splitting the preseason 2-2, but that matters nil. The Green Bay Packers are currently ranked ninth in the league, and they're predicted to do quite well this season. The Seahawks, of course, are still ranked first. They're only predicted to lose two games this year, and this is not one of them. Moreover, this is the loudest crowd in the NFL, and it's the first regular season home game coming off a Superbowl win. It's really tempting to think it will be a trouncing, but, speaking as a lifelong Seattle resident and an on-and-off spectator of its professional sports teams over the years, one still fills with dread at the possibility of a choke.

Public Memorial Service for Bob Gogerty Tomorrow at Town Hall

Posted by on Thu, Sep 4, 2014 at 1:36 PM

We haven't mentioned it on Slog, but a figure important to much of Seattle's political class and to the history of the city, strategist and consultant Bob Gogerty, died a little over a week ago at age 74. Gogerty had his hands in a bunch of projects that ended up shaping what Seattle looks like today, from our light rail to our stadiums to landmarks like Pike Place Market.

If you were familiar with Gogerty, you'll want to know that family and friends are hosting a memorial service for Gogerty tomorrow at Town Hall Seattle (1119 Eighth Avenue), which the public is invited to attend. It begins at 2:00 p.m.

If you weren't, his Seattle Times obituary is here; his consulting firm, Gogerty Marriott, offers their own over here. An excerpt from his firm:

The Forward Thrust ballot initiatives changed the face of Seattle in the 1960s. Reopening Pine Street to traffic spurred the resurgence of the downtown retail core. Passing an initiative to create Sound Transit helped get us moving. Helping with the remodeling of the Seattle Center Coliseum and spearheading the campaigns for Safeco Field and CenturyLink Field created professional sports venues of which we could be proud.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Best of Slog: All the Best Places Are Going Out of Business

Posted by on Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 11:02 AM

Your War Metaphor Is Backwards: There is no "War on Cars," but bicyclists are dying in the streets. Still, we're excited about the new bike share program.

The Return of Officer John Marion? If so, this man deserves a greatest-hits compilation.

Was It Worth the Wait? Hillary Clinton ignored Ferguson and then she finally made a statement on Ferguson.

Should Washington Eliminate Its Statute of Limitations on Rape Charges? Cienna Madrid investigates.

All the Bullets in Britain: Charles Mudede looks at an awful juxtaposition of facts comparing Great Britain to Ferguson.

Just In Time for PAX: Anna Minard explains the terrible gamer response to Anita Sarkeesian's feminist critiques of gamer culture.

Just In Time for Bumbershoot: Jen Graves broke the news yesterday of the Ferguson-related art that got cut from Bumbershoot.

Dan Savage Vs. the Rotating Preacher: This is one weird-ass video, for sure.

Rubble for Ice: Ansel Herz told us about the Rubble Bucket Challenge, and then a Stranger Genius of Literature brought it to Seattle.

Another Bad Week for Mars Hill: Mark Driscoll announced that he was going to take at least six weeks off, but there's still a lot of Driscoll-related turmoil behind the scenes.

So Long and Thanks for All the Breast Cakes: The Erotic Bakery is closing. What do we do now? The last time I asked QFC to put a penis on a cake, it ended with a restraining order. Here's an interview with Erotic Bakery owner Kimmie Barnett. This is such sad news, and we can't even gorge ourselves on catfish to get through our grief.

That's Ffity Shades of Bullshit: Let's debunk some falsehoods about Fifty Shades of Grey and abuse.

Real Genius: Here's what happened at the Literature Genius Showcase at the Frye.

White Flag: Henry Rollins unequivocally apologized for his shitty, stupid comments about suicide.


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Empty, Locked Buildings on Magnolia Bluff

Posted by on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 3:08 PM

LAST SATURDAY A dancer faces her desire to interact with the empty, locked buildings at Discovery Park in a performance by Seattle artist Tia Kramer called Five Silent Structures.
  • LAST SATURDAY A dancer faces her desire to interact with the empty, locked buildings at Discovery Park in a performance by Seattle artist Tia Kramer called Five Silent Structures.

If you've ever been to Discovery Park, you've almost certainly passed by the smattering of historic butter-yellow buildings not far from the main entrance. Discovery is Seattle's largest park, a former military fort that today is a bewildering mix of army relics, residential housing, and habitat for bald eagles and great blue herons (two birds who do not live in harmony). But the Seattle artist Tia Kramer was drawn to those yellow buildings.

They ring the original oval parade grounds of Fort Lawton, and they were built in the first decade of the 20th century, when they were equipped with mineral-oil lamps and only later converted to electricity. Today they're protected and maintained as historic—but sealed. The doors and windows are locked, the interiors inaccessible. All function has vacated. They've become abstract studies in structure and emptiness. They are not normal. You feel it walking by.

Last weekend, Kramer invited a group of dancers to interact with the buildings in a performance called Five Silent Structures. They carefully and slowly ran their hands across railings, leaned against columns, pressed their foreheads to pillars, faced off with unyielding walls. Nina Bozicnik, Henry Art Gallery's assistant curator, said the performance lent a tactility to the buildings that gave people the chance to see their histories and shapes anew. The performance was a a satellite event included in the group art exhibition It Is a Door and a Window That Make a Room Useful, up through tomorrow at SOIL. The title comes from the Tao Te Ching: "We make doors and windows for a room, but it is the empty spaces that make the room livable."

TIA KRAMER The cup measure—its empty space highlighted by being sealed over—in the 2014 series A Study of Interiors, at SOIL.
  • TIA KRAMER The cup measure—its empty space highlighted by being sealed over—in the 2014 series A Study of Interiors, at SOIL.
The skin and bones of a building are alluring, but only there to make meaningful emptinesses. Kramer and Boston-based artist Venetia Dale organized It Is a Door and a Window because they purposely create objects with meaningful emptinesses. A row of tools hangs on the entryway wall at SOIL. At first they seem like regular tools: scissors, tongs, wrench, cup measure, apple corer. But Kramer has painstakingly sealed off the empty spaces that are needed to make the tools function. Using fine paper she beat and dyed to match the color of the tools and blend in, she covered the cup measure, filled in the scissor handles. The shape and power of what isn't there in any physical object come to the fore.

Continue reading »

Thursday, August 28, 2014

This Red Robin Is No More! It Has Ceased To Be! This Is An Ex-Robin!

Posted by on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:38 PM


"Just now I rode by the site of the original Red Robin," says Slog tipper DOUG. "Though it's been closed for years, the building remained. Until today. Now it's just toppled wood siding, piled like a plate of bottomless fries."

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Owner of the Erotic Bakery on 30 Years of Sexy Cakes

Posted by on Wed, Aug 27, 2014 at 11:22 AM

Breast wishes to you, Erotic Bakery!
  • Breast wishes to you, Erotic Bakery!

On Monday, we announced that the Erotic Bakery is closing its doors at the end of September after nearly 30 years in business (boooooo!). While there's still about a month for everyone to get their boob and/or dick cake fix, owner Kimmie Barnett gave us the scoop on why the shop is closing down, how many penis cakes they've sold over the years, and which celebrities they've sold 'em to.

Why are you closing? And do you know when your last day of business will be?

We are closing because it is time for me to retire. I have tried to sell the business, however most folks do not wake up one day and say, "Hey! I think I want to own the Erotic Bakery! Wow! It's for sale!" We live in Enumclaw (go Hornets!). It's a drive for our family to get there daily. Our last official day will be Tuesday, September 30th. We may be open through that weekend if someone else does not move in right away—however, no orders those days, only walk-in sales.

The store’s been in business for almost 30 years, right? How many penis cakes have you made in that time?

Well, we may never know, however, we like to say that we have over 20 million inches served!

What has been your best-selling creation?

Cupcakes, with any sculptures. Folks buy them by the dozens! Not only are they adorable, they taste great!

Have you ever made an erotic cake for a celebrity?

[Caution: NSFW image after the jump!]

Continue reading »


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Seattle's Brand-New Bike Share Program Welcomes Its First Members

Posted by on Tue, Aug 26, 2014 at 6:00 AM

Put the fun between your legs!
  • Pronto! Cycle Share
  • Put the fun between your legs!
Yesterday was the first day annual memberships for Seattle's bike share program, Pronto! Cycle Share, went on sale. For $85, you get unlimited 30-minute bike trips on the city's new fleet of 500 green and blue bicycles (see above), soon to be available at 50 different stations spread over Downtown, South Lake Union, Capitol Hill, and the U-District, as we've been reporting for months. These bikes will be on the streets when the program finally launches on October 13, at which point you can get a 24-hour day pass for $8 or a three-day pass for $16.

But if you're truly committed, you have to go with the annual pass. And early birds get some treats, too: The first 600 people buying the annual memberships get a free T-shirt and a special Founding Member key fob to unlock bikes, along with, of course, bragging rights in very limited circles. You can even pay more for an extra-sweet package, with a handful of shareable day passes and a tote bag. You'll be able to get these annual memberships year-round, but not this initial Founding Member version. (Some big ol' nerds were already bragging on Twitter yesterday. I fully expect to see people flashing their Founding Member key fobs in bars to try to pick up dates. In this town, it'll probably work.)

So how many people actually signed up? Well, they had some website trouble in the middle of the day, but by late afternoon, Pronto tells us they'd had around 260 annual members sign up.

Who was the first member? Why, our very own Mayor Ed Murray, which either warms your heart or fills your cold, cold War-on-Cars heart with rage:

Mayor Murray signs up for bike share.
  • Courtesy of Pronto Cycle Share
  • Mayor Murray signs up for bike share.

You can check out Pronto's website here, which will give you all the pricing info, a map of the stations, an FAQ page, info about corporate memberships, and a heads up on helmet rentals—a notable feature of Seattle's bike share program. Since we've been watching and waiting for the better part of a year, we're pretty damn excited to see what happens with all this. One interesting thing: Scott Kubly, Murray's nominee for city transportation director, said in a great interview Ansel posted yesterday: "I think bike share is one of the smartest investments a city can make in transportation."

What say you, Slog? Are you in?

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Sunday Comic

Posted by on Sun, Aug 24, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Click to enlarge.
  • Seth Goodkind
  • Click to enlarge.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Best of Slog: This Week, a Whole Lot of People Said a Whole Lot of Dumb Things

Posted by on Sat, Aug 23, 2014 at 11:10 AM

Nickelsville Is on the Move: It's heading to the International District next.

I Guess He Learned His Lesson: The cop who handed out four of every five tickets for publicly smoking pot in Seattle is back on the streets.

How to Talk About Race: Brendan Kiley attended a possibly too-polite discussion about race and the Mikado controversy at Seattle Repertory Theatre.

How Not to Talk About Rape: Here are two examples, one from Stanford University and one from Seattle.

How Not to Talk About Depression: And here's why Henry Rollins should go fuck himself.

Art Smashed: Jen Graves watched an artist destroy his own sculpture. Legal release forms were involved.

Dan Savage Fights Walrus: Go let a Canadian magazine know how badly they misrepresented Dan's position on being GGG in relationships.

Should Macklemore Speak Up on Ferguson? Charles Mudede can't help but notice that Macklemore hasn't said anything on Ferguson for a while.

Seattle Stands Up for Ferguson: While Macklemore was busy not saying anything, the local NAACP held a rally to show support for people in Ferguson.

Another Shitty Week to Be Mark Driscoll: Mars Hill Church raised money for a Jesus Festival that never happened. Is the Jesus Festival hiding here? Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on Mars Hill's many other problems.

Bárðarbunga! Iceland comes up with the best names for the worst volcanoes.

A Purse Named Polonius: A bunch of commenters had opinions about Charles Mudede's experience at a restaurant.

The Mural That Was Used as a Long-Jump Mat: Did you follow the weird story of the WPA-era mural by William Cumming that survived ridiculously bad treatment in obscurity for decades? It unfolded over three consecutive days in our In Culture News feature.

How High Are You? A Stranger investigation.

What's Your Favorite Fake Movie Band? Slog readers had their opinions. Personally, I have a soft spot for Josie and the Pussycats, but this might be my single favorite performance by a fake movie band:

Friday, August 22, 2014

We’ve Got to “Police the Police”: Photos from the Local NAACP's Rally for Ferguson

Posted by on Fri, Aug 22, 2014 at 9:42 AM

  • Kelly O

Blues music played from loud speakers strung across the rolling green lawn, friends caught up in small groups, and children ran through water sprayed from beautiful, cartoonish park fountains. If it wasn't for the signs reading "Who's Next?" and "Stop Police Terror" and the 150-strong crowd chanting, "Hands up! Don't shoot!", the scene last night in the Central District's Pratt Park could have been mistaken for a neighborhood picnic.

But it wasn't. The people amassed last night by the Seattle King County chapter of the NAACP were angry. The National Guard may have withdrawn from the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, but the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager at the hands of a white police officer on August 9, the tear gas and arrests deployed against protestors and journalists that ensued, and the war-like military presence that has since pervaded that town has left its mark on black communities across the country.

"[Ferguson] wasn't an anomaly, that was a microcosm of towns across the nation," said Sheley Secrest, former NAACP chapter president (and former candidate to represent Washington's 37th legislative district). "We've got to make certain that we've got people to police the police."

Speakers, most of whom were faith leaders, highlighted instances of historic and recent police brutality across the nation before bringing the conversation home and speaking about the mistrust and aggression propagated by Seattle police in communitites of color. Sixty-nine-year-old William Wingate spoke to his recent experience of being confronted by an SPD officer who accused him of swinging at her with a golf club that he used as his walking stick. "I'd never seen her before in my life," he said.

  • Kelly O

Continue reading »

Thursday, August 21, 2014

People Who Live Near Fixed-Rail Transit Are Happier

Posted by on Thu, Aug 21, 2014 at 7:14 AM

The Atlantic:

Jason Cao, a transport policy scholar at the University of Minnesota, has conducted a short but tidy study that demonstrates just what good public transit can mean to a person's life. His findings, in a word: satisfaction. Cao focused his research on the Hiawatha light rail line in Minneapolis (lately called the Blue line instead).... Cao sent questionnaires to households in the Hiawatha corridor. Respondents rated the quality of transit in their area (namely, service quality and accessibility) as well as the quality of their lives (how satisfied they were). To form points of comparison, Cao sent the same survey to residents of four other corridors: two in urban areas with transit but no light rail, and two in suburbs with similar demographics but no transit. What he found spoke to the power of living along the rails. People in the Hiawatha corridor had higher ratings on questions related to the quality of their lives compared to people in the other four corridors. These were items like "In most ways my life is close to my ideal" and "The conditions of my life are excellent." In short, they were satisfied with their lives.

Living near fixed-rail transit doesn't just make you happier—it also helps maintain property values during recessions. So why do so many suburbanites hate light rail so much? Do they like being miserable? Do they like seeing their property values tank during recessions?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Hey, Seattle: Tell Me One Good Thing!

Posted by on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 3:58 PM

Between the actions taking place in Ferguson, Iraq, and Gaza, the fear, panic, and loss of human life caused by shit like Ebola and ISIS, and the everyday level of horrific gun violence we've now become reluctantly accustomed to, the last few weeks have been the pits for humanity. We are currently watching—and/or experiencing—a scourge of horrifying disease and multiple human scourges of epic proportions. It's enough to make a regular news reader (or journalist) feel like they have the life expectancy of a kitten dipped in gravy.

Topping it off, here in Seattle we're in the midst of a natural news lull, with city council on recess and other city employees taking their summer vacations. What I'm saying is, there's not much going on (except flashes of local horror) to distract us from all this national/international horror.

For my own peace of mind, and yours, I've been trying to counterbalance all that horror today by asking one simple favor of nearly every person I talk to—people on the street, city officials, coworkers.

What I'm asking everyone is "Hey, tell me one good thing." Here are a few responses:

Melissa Warner
Spokeswoman for the Seattle Animal Shelter

"We're holding our next Foster Cat Orientation from 1-2:30 p.m. on Sunday, September 7 at the Seattle Animal Shelter. The shelter’s cat foster and adoption programs were recently featured in the “Kitty Hall” event with Mayor Ed Murray, and we need volunteers!"

KITTY HALL: Populated with gravy-free kittens
  • City of Seattle
  • KITTY HALL: Populated with gravy-free kittens

Ivonne Rivera Martinez
Spokeswoman for the city Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs

"We're currently working on the September 6 launch of the first ever Refugee Women's Institute, a pilot project that will bring 20 refugee women and 20 female Seattle Police Department officers together to learn from each other. It'll run every Saturday, for four or five hours, over eight weeks. We're really excited!"

Continue reading »

Monday, August 18, 2014

Officer Responsible for 80 Percent of Seattle's Pot Tickets Resumes Downtown Patrol

Posted by on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Earlier today, KIRO's Brandi Kruse broke the news that Officer Randy Jokela, the Seattle police officer best known for issuing 80 percent of the city's tickets for smoking pot in public, was back on bike patrol after being initially benched on desk duty during an investigation of his questionable ticket writing practices by the Office of Professional Accountability (OPA).

The tickets, punishable by $55 in fines, were handed out disproportionally to poor people and people of color, according to a recently released city report.

While SPD spokesman Sean Whitcomb declined to name Jokela specifically, citing the OPA's ongoing investigation, he seemed to confirm that Jokela has reapplied his BodyGlide™ and resumed normal bike patrol duties in the West Precinct, which encompasses downtown and Pioneer Square.

"Chief O'Toole conferred with OPA director Pierce Murphy and together they decided that there wasn't anything to preclude this employee from resuming normal patrol duties while the OPA investigation continued," Whitcomb stated. (Another department source confirmed that Jokela is indeed back on patrol.)

OPA investigations generally take six months to complete.

Former SPD Interim Chief Hired as King County Sheriff's No. 2

Posted by on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 at 11:47 AM

At a press conference this morning that I did not attend because it interfered with my strict napping/drinking/not-giving-two-fucks schedule, King County Sheriff John Urquhart announced that he'd hired Jim Pugel, former interim chief of the Seattle Police Department, as his second in command.

This is fantastic news. Before Pugel was pushed out of the SPD and into early retirement earlier this year, he was known as one of the most progressive officers in the department—a champion of drug diversion programs and an advocate for departmental reform. His short reign as interim chief also showed a marked improvement in transparency within the SPD, specifically by getting in front of potential scandals and owning up to gaffes with grace and seeming sincerity.

The Seattle Times has more on the announcement, though not much:

Pugel, a Seattle native and University of Washington graduate, started as a volunteer reserve police officer in 1981. He was hired as a full-time officer in January 1983 and promoted to sergeant seven years later.

Congrats to Pugel for the new position and to Urquhart for being clever enough to nab him.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Best of Slog: Saving Scarecrow, Saving Homes, and Sending Our Love to Ferguson

Posted by on Sat, Aug 16, 2014 at 11:05 AM

Westlake Mall Cop Maces African-American Bystander: Here's why mall cops have a bad reputation.

Affordable Through 2064: The self-described "dream team of affordable housing" helps keep Squire Park Plaza accessible to people who don't work for Microsoft or Amazon.

Affordable Public Transit Should Be a Constitutional Right: Metro will offer a reduced fare to low-income riders.

How to Kickstart a Scarecrow: Hooray for the Scarecrow Project!

Maybe He'll Start a Band Called Death Uber for Cutie? Chris Walla announced that he's leaving Death Cab for Cutie after their show on September 13th. Here's Death Cab's statement on Walla's announcement.

Seattle Supports Ferguson: Here are two reports from Seattle's silent solidarity protests.

No Place Like Home: Ansel Herz reports on the Bartons, a West Seattle family fighting the system to stay in their West Seattle home. King County Sheriffs removed them from their home yesterday.

Life on Mars: Mark Driscoll's actions have made Mars Hill Church into a pariah in the evangelical community.

"I really appreciate what US does, and let’s think about future" Jen Graves interviews a local Yazidi woman about the refugees on Mount Sinjar.

The NRA Aims at Seattle's Minimum Wage: No, the other NRA.

Oops: Did Mayor Murray's office just kind of forget about the plan for bicycle infrastructure?

Run, Bernie, Run! Dan Savage hopes Bernie Sanders runs for president, even if it's just to "pull Hillary to the left."

The Great Lauren Bacall Fight of 2014: In this corner: Anna Minard. In this corner: Charles Mudede. Why don't we just stop fighting and agree to watch To Have and Have Not again, instead?

Is It Appropriate to Fingerbang a Loved One During Book of Mormon? No? Man, you guys are sticks in the mud.

Crane-on-Crane Cannibalism: So long, red crane.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

How Far We've . . . Not Come

Posted by on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 8:38 AM

Besides the Ferguson Missouri replay of Bull Connor v. MLK, we also have a reminder another legacy of American racism in the Chicago area today.

Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan has brought suit against an Orland Park homeowners' association. The group had allowed owners to rent their units, but then one showed his to African-American or mixed-race potential renters. He got a phone call with the usual racist epithets, and the Association promptly changed its rules. Owners now could not rent to anyone. Just to be safe.

Money quote:

In May of that year, the property owner showed the unit to two sisters who are black and, separately, a multiracial woman, her African-American husband and her multiracial daughter, the lawsuit says.

The suit alleges that a neighbor of the property owner and a member of the homeowners association called the property owner that same day and told him, “I hope you are not doing what we think you are doing because we do not want to live next to (racial slur).”

A few days later, the lawsuit alleges, the property owner received a letter from the homeowners association telling members that a vote was necessary to determine the “amount of control the members have in protecting their privacy.” Members were given the option to vote in favor of allowing renters only if they were limited to families, defined as two parents and their children, and excluded families with foster children.

Note the coded way of excluding African-Americans without using racial categories.

The suburb in question is one of the White Flight Suburbs that sprang up overnight out of cornfields in the aftermath of the end of legal segregation. As I contemplate my city without these people, I can only say: good riddance.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

It's Official: Scarecrow Video Is Becoming the Scarecrow Project, Under the Nonprofit Auspices of the Grand Illusion

Posted by on Tue, Aug 12, 2014 at 8:47 AM

Following our psst-psst last Friday, the Seattle Times has the full official story:

Several of [Scarecrow's] employees, with a little help from a friendly neighborhood cinema, are spearheading a drive to convert the store to nonprofit status. This comes with the blessing of the current owners, who are donating the store’s assets — including its legendary inventory of approximately 120,000 titles. A Kickstarter campaign to fund the transition begins this week.

Later this fall, Scarecrow Video the for-profit business will close and a new nonprofit corporation, known now as The Scarecrow Project, will appear in its place. The Grand Illusion Cinema, just a few blocks from Scarecrow, is the fiscal sponsor of the project, lending its nonprofit status during the transition. The Kickstarter drive, lasting a month, has a goal of $100,000; funds will be used as startup money and for preservation and expansion of the collection.

Congratulations and good luck, Scarecrow!

Monday, August 11, 2014

#KittyHall Update: Hey, Were Those Kittens Actually Adopted?

Posted by on Mon, Aug 11, 2014 at 12:07 PM

A bunch of shelter kittens basically held their own press conference on July 15.
  • Anna Minard
  • A bunch of shelter kittens basically held their own press conference on July 15.
A few weeks ago, Mayor Ed Murray's office renamed City Hall "Kitty Hall" for a day, invited the public to hang out in a tent full of adoptable shelter kittens, and spawned a ridiculous amount of social media love for kittens. All sorts of city departments, media, and Seattleites got involved on Twitter. Even Google got in on it. (See SPD's greatest hits here, here, and here, and the mayor's office's here, here, and here.)

It was all done in the name of promoting the cats and kittens at the city's animal shelter and publicizing some upcoming adoption events. But lots of people griped about how it was a stupid media stunt, or a harmless but pointless excuse to hang out with kittens. So I've been wondering: Did anything tangibly good come of it other than a bunch of city staffers, politicians, and reporters getting to hang out with kittens (and of course all those fucking adorable pictures)? I mean, whatever happened to all those cats?

I asked the mayor's office for an update. Says mayoral spokeswoman and cat lady Megan Coppersmith:

We do know that four [Kitty Hall kittens]—Marguerite, Kingsley, Raymond, and Bella—were among the 16 cats adopted at the July 19 Fab Felines event, which we promoted at Kitty Hall. Most people who attended that event said they did so because they heard about it via Kitty Hall. And 16 adoptions at one of these monthly events is likely a record—the typical is four to five adoptions.

It appears that other kittens from that day, including one whose adoption page had said she was "retiring from political life," have also been adopted since.

Sure, you could argue that letting loose a bunch of cats into a room usually reserved for press conferences is somehow not a good use of city resources. But then, you'd be a total butthole, because c'mon, KITTENS. And also, seriously: When bureaucrats get goofy on social media for a second, sometimes it gets citizens to engage with them in a new way. SPD has pioneered having a funny social media presence but using that to draw people in so they can actually deliver useful information. They've even won awards for it. If we got to watch kittens take over the podium and the city tried something new with social media and then the city's animal shelter saw an uptick in kitten adoptions? I call that a win-win. And also, I totally don't care, because I'll never look at the 7th floor Norm B. Rice conference room the same way again after seeing cats crawling all over the press seats, trying to get into the mayor's office, and staring up at the flagpole.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

The Best of Slog: Mars Hill and Rand Paul Had a Bad Week, Pete Holmes and Frank Chopp Had a Great Week

Posted by on Sat, Aug 9, 2014 at 10:54 AM

Primary School: Washington had a primary! We went to all the places and saw all the things. Here's our report, and here's what it all means.

Pete Holmes Hopes You Don't Pay Your Pot Tickets: You gotta love Pete Holmes, am I right?

Protesting Mars Hill: Brendan Kiley reports from the "We are not anonymous" protests last Sunday.

Protesting Mark Driscoll: Mark Driscoll founded Acts 29, an organization made up of dozens of evangelical churches. Yesterday, they kicked Driscoll and Mars Hill out of Acts 29, told him to step down as pastor of Mars Hill, and urged him to "seek help." Mars Hill said they're standing by Driscoll.

Got Any Plans for Today? Dan Savage wants you to improve the lives of sex workers in Seattle.

Close But No Cigar: Mayor Murray had a pretty good announcement about internet in Seattle, but it wasn't as good as it could've been.

Eating Away at Us: Charles Mudede has some thoughts about Ebola and racism and capitalism.

Dave Meinert's Facebook Page Is a Legal Document Now? The anti-$15 franchise organization has filed a hilarious legal document citing Facebook, Twitter, and, perhaps most ludicrously, a Seattle Times editorial.

Headline of the Week: "The Seattle Times Thinks You're a Bunch of Urine-Burned Elephants, Seattle Taxpayers."

Bad News for Rand Paul Is Good News for Me: Rand Paul vacillated and ran away and generally made an ass of himself this week.

Jesus Would Totally Do That, Right? An atheist author was going to appear in Seattle, but someone sent death threats to him and so he cancelled his appearance.

Seattle Can't Find Ass with Both Hands and a Map: Jesus Christ, would these special markings teach you people to use an escalator properly, Seattle?

The Joy of X: It's been over for years, but you still have opinions about The X-Files.

Good News for Good People: Seattle Repertory Theatre hired Marya Sea Kaminsky, which is a good move.

This Week in Scarecrow Video Rumors: Could this be true?

Kind of Blue: It ain't porn, so what are they doing in there?

Friday, August 8, 2014

Is Scarecrow Video Forming a Nonprofit Alliance with the Grand Illusion?

Posted by on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 1:33 PM

That's the buzz we're hearing about town, along with a heads up that the official word will be coming down on Monday. Stay tuned!

Unions Claim "Swiftboating" of Their Preschool Measure

Posted by on Fri, Aug 8, 2014 at 8:16 AM

The mayor hangs out with preschool kids the day of the big city preschool announcement.
  • City of Seattle
  • The mayor hangs out with preschool kids the day of the big city preschool announcement.
The mayor and city council's decision to put funding for a pilot version of a public preschool program before voters this fall has become a hell of a lot more controversial than anyone might've guessed.

I mean, universal pre-K, of which this city pilot is a hopeful precursor, is one of the most widely supported public policy measures out there, with the goal of, y'know, helping children succeed in life. The Children! Think of The Children!

But this is still politics. And with two unions who represent preschool teachers and child-care workers not feeling heard by the city and thus gearing up to pass their own semi-related initiative—that's I-107—it's been a lot more shit talk than kumbaya around here. (As you'll recall: I-107's backers thought their measure would go to the ballot as a stand-alone attempt to require higher pay and more centralized training of the city's preschool and child-care workers, but the city council has set the two up as opposing measures on the ballot, a move that caused the I-107 campaign to take the city to court.)

The current drama: The Yes on I-107 campaign, called Yes for Early Success, alleges that someone at the city deliberately leaked a legally privileged memo to the Seattle Times, spurring an editorial in the newspaper the next day that used secret legal and fiscal analyses done for the city to slam I-107 as being expensive and potentially opening the city up to liability. Whatever was in those memos was strategically leaked and used to promote the city's preschool measure at the expense of I-107, charges the union campaign, and they'd like the opportunity to refute these analyses. The problem: When Yes for Early Success requested to see the city's paperwork, the city refused.

"We've officially asked for and were denied our Public Disclosure Requests to see these memos," says Heather Weiner of Yes for Early Success. The city's opinion? The documents are exempt from disclosure under attorney-client privilege, which the city says it has not waived even though the Seattle Times got a peek. "For all we know, the city's numbers are based on yesterday's winning lottery numbers," gripes Weiner, who wishes she could actually see how the city arrived at them.

The difference between the two sides is vast.

Continue reading »

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Should Seattle Take a Position on Israel's Bombing of Gaza?

Posted by on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 2:06 PM

Council Member Kshama Sawant says yes: Her draft letter to President Obama calls for "an immediate end to all US government military aid for Israel."

"We also condemn the indiscriminate rocket attacks by Hamas against the civilian population living in Israel," the letter says.

Council Member Tom Rasmussen says no: "I personally abhor the war, and the violence that is occurring in Gaza and in that area in general, but I believe that it is wrong to condemn one party alone," Rasmussen said yesterday during a city council briefing after Sawant presented her letter. "And so you may use your podium as you wish, but I do not share your views in terms of condemning one party alone."

Mayor Ed Murray says no and conflates criticizing possible war crimes with "demonizing" Israel.

"I don't think it benefits anyone to demonize the state of Israel," the mayor said during this morning's press conference without taking further questions and without mentioning Sawant by name. "We as a city should speak with a moral voice... but demonizing folks is not going to help that cause."

Time for an internationally-legally-binding Slog poll:

There Are Lots of Serious Reasons to Vote, But Also There Is FREE ICE CREAM

Posted by on Tue, Aug 5, 2014 at 1:39 PM

Eli reminded you to vote this morning, but I just wanted to remind you again and give you reason #2,000,001 to vote today: FREE ICE CREAM!!!!

Molly Moon's Ice Cream says, via Instagram: "see this strip of paper? after you send in your ballot, bring it into any of our shops TODAY for a free single scoop!"

Related question: If you ask someone for their ballot stub, and tell them you want it for "no particular reason," and then you trade it for free ice cream, is that (a) voter fraud, (b) ice-cream fraud, (c) both, or (d) neither?

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Seattle Times Thinks You're a Bunch of Urine-Burned Elephants, Seattle Taxpayers

Posted by on Mon, Aug 4, 2014 at 10:50 AM

Theres a joke in here about the Seattle Times really reaching for this argument, isnt there?
  • Jez Bennett/
  • There's a joke in here about the Seattle Times really reaching for this argument, isn't there?
Surely no campaign in recent memory has managed to be quite such an entertaining shitshow as the campaign around this primary election's Proposition 1, a move to create a city parks district in Seattle.

Just on Friday came new drama centering on a robo-calling campaign that is now apparently under investigation by the Seattle Police Department.

This morning, the Seattle Times gets in on the campaign's main theme (which is obviously "How Close Can We Come to Selling This as a Parks and Recreation Plotline?") with a whacked-out editorial on elephants. The lede is gorgeously weird:

LOCAL taxpayers now know how Watoto, Bamboo and Chai feel at the Woodland Park Zoo. Helping pay the bills does not earn respectful treatment.

A few paragraphs later, we get "The zoo would be a beneficiary of Proposition 1’s Park District, which only compounds the taxpayer-provided free lunch, and builds the wall of secrecy higher."

Because elephants, my friends, elephants. We are the elephants. And Proposition 1 is the zookeeper trying 112 times to inseminate us, obviously. We are covered in urine burns. Vote—WAIT A SECOND, THIS IS CRAZY. Nice try, ST! But not voting for Prop 1 because you're mad about the elephants is unbelievably shortsighted. Voting against Prop 1 doesn't do anything to help elephants. All it does is underfund local parks and squeeze our ability to fund future city needs like pre-K and transit.

The SECB's endorsements and cheat sheet are right here, and the deadline to mail your ballot is tomorrow. More than ever, we say: Don't fall for this shit, Seattle. We're always wishing the city could find some magical taxing authority that Olympia can't mess with and that would take some stress off our levy capacity. Well, surprise! Here it is. Vote for Prop 1.



Saturday, August 2, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014









Thursday, July 31, 2014









Tuesday, July 29, 2014





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