I'm betting that a lot of the year-end wrap-ups you're going to read in the next few weeks are going to focus heavily on the Obamacare website woes. But I bet in three years, nobody will remember or care that for a couple months, a new government-run website didn't actually work. Especially now that the site is starting to work:
About 29,000 people signed up for health insurance through HealthCare.gov on Sunday and Monday — a figure that surpasses the total for the whole month of October, an official familiar with the program told POLITICO.
The quickened pace of enrollments came as the White House hit its self-imposed Nov. 30 deadline to fix the troubled Affordable Care Act website.
Remember how outraged Republicans were about that whole "You Didn't Build That" manufactured controversy from last year? And remember how ordinary Americans just didn't give a shit? The Republican response to the Obamacare rollout reminds me a lot of that.
Only 42% of Asian Americans are Christians. Only 24% of Asian American voters supported Mitt Romney in 2012. So maybe Republicans, who are currently seeking ways to expand their non-white voter base, should stop demanding that people should say "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays."
Most voters are Christian, so a pro-Christmas position seems like it should be popular. But Republicans don't understand how their anti-outsider messages aggregate. Most voters are straight, so opposition to gay marriage shouldn't be an electoral problem. Most voters aren't Mexican-Americans, so they shouldn't be too bothered by thinly-veiled (or unveiled) anti-Mexican messaging on immigration. Add these things all together, and you get a political party that looks like it's engaged in interest group politics for straight non-Hispanic white Christians. That's not too appealing to the increasing share of voters who aren't straight non-Hispanic white Christians.
I know plenty of straight non-Hispanic white Christians who don't find the GOP's attacks on gays, immigrants, and non-Christians to be at all appealing. The t-shirt that prompted Barro's advice for the GOP has been yanked from the National Republican Congressional Committee's online shop:
The National Republican Congressional Committee appears to have removed a t-shirt from its website that advocates against saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas." In a tweet last week, the NRCC promoted the t-shirt, which reads “Happy Holidays is What Liberals Say” in a Comic Sans font on the front and “Merry Christmas!” on the back, for Black Friday.
But not to worry, assholes, the RNCC has other shirts for the assholes on your Christmas list:
As of Monday, the shirt looks to have been removed from the NRCC website. The online store is still selling a t-shirt milder version that says “Not Afraid to Say ‘Merry Christmas.’”
Immigrants rights advocates are celebrating today after the King County Council narrowly passed an ordinance that says the county can ignore certain requests from federal immigration agents. Under the new law, the county narrows the criteria under which it will honor requests from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to "hold" people in county jails past their release dates while ICE assesses whether to deport them.
"This ordinance sends a clear message that King County will no longer collude in funneling its residents into an unjust deportation system," said Ann Benson of the immigrants rights group One America.
Proposed by Council Member Larry Gossett this summer, the ordinance was supported by local police (including the King County Sheriff) who say it will encourage immigrants report crimes without fear of being detained. Here's how Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel and Snohomish County executive John Lovick put it in a guest op-ed last month:
One way or another, Seattle voters will be asked to approve a $15-an-hour minimum wage next November. And the whole nation will be watching. "There is a lot of momentum," says Seattle City Council member-elect Kshama Sawant in the wake of her stunning come-from-behind victory over incumbent Richard Conlin. An avowed socialist, Sawant made a $15 minimum wage the centerpiece of her campaign, and it is fair to argue that Sawant's surprising victory was at least in part a proxy vote on her signature issue: "We are in a position to get something in 2014," Sawant predicts, "because the [$15 minimum wage] issue is so alive in people's minds."
SEIU 775NW president David Rolf agrees. "We are going to see something happen in Seattle," says Rolf, whose union spearheaded the efforts to successfully pass SeaTac's historic Proposition 1, an initiative that guarantees a $15 minimum wage and other benefits to thousands of airport and hospitality workers.
Although SeaTac Prop 1 still faces a series of legal challenges, its victory at the polls, combined with Sawant's council win, makes Seattle the obvious next battleground in the fight for a living wage. (The SeaTac battle also demonstrates the high stakes: The airline, hotel, restaurant, and car rental industries spent about $200 per vote opposing Prop 1—that's equivalent to spending $40 million to sway an electorate the size of Seattle's.) As Rolf puts it, "I don't think at this point we could hold back a debate in 2014 if we wanted to."
So what will this battle look like?
It will be a two-front war—both at city hall and at the ballot box—a strategy intended to force minimum wage opponents to sue for peace in the council in order to avoid a more devastating defeat at the polls.
Leading the charge at city hall could be mayor-elect Ed Murray, who embraced the $15-minimum-wage issue mid-campaign and has publicly promised swift action. "We'll begin our process immediately," Murray tells The Stranger. "We're having our discussions in the transition team already."
So President Obama wrote a personal letter to a teabagger who complained about Obamacare. In it, Obama wrote that he appreciated his "concern about the toxic political environment right now." Obama continued:
I do have to challenge you, though, on the notion that any citizen that disagrees with me has been “targeted and ridiculed” or that I have “made fun” of tea-baggers.
So teabaggers are all upset, because how dare President Obama refer to teabaggers as "tea-baggers?" Of all the disrespectful ways to refer to a group that has only ever treated President Obama with the utmost respect! Anyway, it turns out that Obama was just referring to teabaggers in the same language that the teabagger himself referred to teabaggers. Here's the pertinent quote from the letter the teabagger sent: "I watched you make fun of tea baggers and your press secretary make fun of Ms. [Sarah] Palin which was especially beneath the dignity of the White House." What an outrage, that the busiest man in the world took the time to handwrite a reply to an antagonistic letter-writer that used the man's own language! Outrageous! Or not.
There is, of course, a real reason to be outraged in all this. You simply do not spell "teabagger" with a hyphen or a space in between the words "tea" and "bagger." You should only ever refer to them as "teabaggers." All one word. It's cleaner.
Organizing for America produced this video and a whole website to help you start a conversation with your family members this holiday season about getting health insurance.
They offer tips, like making sure everyone knows what kind of info they'll need to shop on the new insurance market, keeping the conversation positive, and offering to help your family sign up for some flimflammin' goldurn socialist Obamacare right then and there. None of the tips include pointing out that you might need health insurance if you're trampled during Black Friday shopping. An oversight?
YouTube commenters on the video are less than impressed—"The first person to mention the Un-ACA at Thanksgiving gets tied to a chair, a turkey leg stuffed in their mouths and will listen to Washington's Thanksgiving Proclamation over and over until they 'get it'," says one hilarious goofball. Another: "Deck the halls with debt and folly, fa-la-la-la-la..." Zing!
RT @deborahhorne: At least 4 arrested at WalMart protest. @KIRO7Seattle pic.twitter.com/1jrzWOQWeU
— KIRO 7 (@KIRO7Seattle) November 29, 2013
A group of over a hundred protesters showed up at Walmart around 10 a.m. on Friday and reportedly blocked one, but not all of the entrances to the store before police arrived. Protestors said they wanted to call attention to the low wages paid by Walmart stores.
About a hundred people carried signs and marched near the mall entrance on Black Friday, one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Bellevue PD brought in officers in riot gear to clear protestors from Walmart property.
Long live civil disobedience. This should happen at Walmart more often.
In the comments to Andrew Johnson's National Review story about Kshama Sawant, Republicans are losing their minds:
anybody who supports any minimum wage is a socialist
"The Stranger", the alt-weekly that endorsed this woman, is a novel by Camus - an existential absurdist writer whose world view included the irrationality of the universe and meaninglessness of human life. This plagiarism of a title certainly cheers me up!
The Seahawks will have to move to Spokane to play a Contact Sport if she has her way...lol Think about it Seattle, do you want her or the Seahawks?
The only thing you're going to find in Seattle and the Pacific Northwest is white supremacists and the Costco stores necessary to stock their end-days fantasies until the White Republic is founded in the ruins of current society. And the only people who need pallets of toilet tissue are people who are full of it.
And it gets even worse in the story linking to this story from their blog The Corner:
Oh Lordy, it's worse than what's been advertised. If Wiki is to be believed (and that's a big "if"), she's a part-time economics professor.
This is an extremely dangerous woman and needs to be dealt with before she does any more damage to our country. She needs to be returned to whatever horrible country produced her and if she won't go needs to be treated as an enemy combatant for her economic terrorism threats.
We have already gone through this once with having to week out the communist sympathizers who attempt to damage our country and we will do it again if this nonsense continues. This lady and her anti-American view have no place here.
Isn't it ironic that only the Left is praising this socialist? But call them socialist? Oh, no! you're out of bounds!
Ron Unz, a Silicon Valley millionaire, rose to fame by promoting a ballot initiative that essentially eliminated bilingual education in California. He went on to become publisher of The American Conservative, a libertarian-leaning magazine.
But after decades in the conservative movement, Mr. Unz is pursuing a goal that has stymied liberals: raising the minimum wage. He plans to pour his own money into a ballot measure to increase the minimum wage in California to $10 an hour in 2015 and $12 in 2016, which would make it by far the highest in the nation. Currently, it is $8 — 75 cents higher than the federal minimum...
“There are so many very low-wage workers, and we pay for huge social welfare programs for them,” he said in an interview. “This would save something on the order of tens of billions of dollars. Doesn’t it make more sense for employers to pay their workers than the government?”
That's one way to get there. Mr. Unz wants to place his measure on California's 2014 ballot.
Was I supposed to praise them?
City Budget Office Director Beth Goldberg, the woman responsible for stabilizing our depressing, recession-era city budget under the McGinn administration—a budget with virtually no new revenue that nevertheless managed to preserve much-needed social services—is resigning, according to everyone.
Here is a nice quote about her from mayor Mike McGinn:
"When I entered office, we were experiencing the longest, deepest recession since the Great Depression. Beth quickly stabilized our city budget in the face of dramatically reduced revenues. She crafted policies to rebuild our Rainy Day Fund to record levels, including proactively restoring depleted reserve funds. Beth worked hard to make the City budget more accessible to the general public and won an award for municipal budget transparency last year. And she was instrumental in securing an innovative, long-term jail contract with King County that provides financial and operational security to both of our governments. I am grateful for her service in my administration and strongly believe that she is leaving City government in better shape than when she arrived.”
She may be resigning but, according to sources, Goldberg is only doing so because she was pressured by Ed Murray's camp. "It's the prerogative of the Mayor-elect's to hand-pick department heads and he's exercising that prerogative for the Budget Office, among others," confirms Murray spokesman Jeff Reading, who adds: "I think there will be a greater opportunity to articulate the answer to the inevitable next question — 'well, then why that department?' — when he names his selection for the job."
It's also fairly common knowledge that Goldberg didn't work well with folks on the second floor—or rather, they didn't work well with her (the council's budget committee chair, Tim Burgess, banned her from attending his budget meetings earlier this year).
Peter Hahn, the director of the Seattle Department of Transportation is also, ahem, "resigning," as is Office of Intergovernmental Relations Director Marco Lowe, Personnel Director Dave Stewart, and Rick Hooper, Director of the Office of Housing.
Susan Hutchison, the brand new leader of the Washington State Republican Party, makes $75,000 a year. Her predecessor, Kirby "Witches & Hags" Wilbur, made $95,000 a year.
What happened when Hutchison recently got all Lilly Ledbetter on her party and asked for equal pay? What happened when she pointed out that paying her less than a man kinda plays right into the idea that Republicans are conducting a War on Women?
As Jim Brunner reports, things got ugly.
Hutchison received no raise and, as she wrote in a memo afterward, "left the meeting demoralized." Other state Republican Party leaders, for their part, were upset that Hutchison raised such a ruckus.
File this one away for when Rob McKenna inevitably attempts to make his political comeback:
Former Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna, now practicing law in the Seattle office of the multi-national Orrick law firm, has prepared formal comments for the states of Montana and North Dakota, challenging Washington state's constitutional right to require a sweeping environmental review of coal export terminal impacts.
"The States (Montana and North Dakota) strongly believe that such regulatory decisions are outside the scope of Washington’s authority under the U.S. Constitution, and improperly burden international commerce," the McKenna-authored comments say.
That's right: McKenna is working for the coal industry, attempting to block the state from even studying the environmental impact of coal export terminals. Because he's a different kind of Republican.
Congratulations to Slate's Matthew Yglesias for demonstrating his proud contrarian street cred by declaring that socialism is already "off to a poor start" in Seattle. Yglesias makes fun of Kshama Sawant for talking about collectivizing Boeing's Everett plant, as well as her call to defend existing housing from unscrupulous developers.
"Look... there's someone even lefterer than me! Aren't they quaint!" exclaims Yglesias, (if not exactly in those words).
First, let's just be clear that socialism can't have possibly gotten off to a poor start in Seattle, because it hasn't started yet. With certification a week away, Sawant hasn't even officially won the election yet, let alone been sworn in. So grabbing an old out-of-context campaign quote (as Yglesias does with Sawant's comment on land use) and presenting it as a "poor start" to her term in office is just plain lazy.
As for that quote—"The first thing we need is a council that will defend existing housing and not destroy existing housing in the name of density and sustainability"—that's 25 words taken out of a 42-minute conversation with the Seattle Neighborhood Coalition. Indeed, this quote comes specifically in response to a question about the impact of speculation on the availability of affordable housing: "This is speculative investment masquerading as solutions of density," Sawant explains. "They are destroying existing affordable housing while saying they are creating affordable housing," decries Sawant, calling it "doublespeak."
Sawant goes on to criticize her opponent for pandering to developers in the name of density, while ignoring environmental sustainability and neighborhood plans that are already in place. "It's not a question of density, it's a question of who is calling the shots," explains Sawant. And clearly, she believes that the shots are too firmly in the hands of powerful developers.
Yglesias uses this out-of-context quote to make some smug comparison to "urban planning in the communist bloc." Gimme a fucking break. Again, that's just lazy.
As for the Boeing thing, yeah, I understand that Sawant's suggestion that workers "take over" Boeing's Everett plant may strike some as a bit shocking. Of course it's shocking. That's the whole point! That's part of what Sawant brings to the table—a refusal to just submissively accept whatever fate allotted by our corporate overlords. Yglesias, on the other hand, not so much:
I would love to have a conservative look at this infographic...
168 filibusters of nominees in our history. HALF of them have occurred during Obama years! pic.twitter.com/xbQfsftLGm— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) November 21, 2013
...and then try to explain to me how racism has nothing to do with the way congressional Republicans have dealt with this president. In 100 years, this is going to be clear as day to anyone looking back on presidential history.
As Gary Locke, the first Chinese-American to serve as US ambassador to China, announced his resignation on Wednesday, the news came as a surprise to many. While experts say the impact of his stepping down on US-China ties will be minimal, they recognize the envoy's achievements in promoting trade and investment between the two largest economies.Locke's wife returned to Seattle earlier this year.
Locke, 63, a former governor of Washington State and US commerce secretary, citing personal reasons, said he is leaving Beijing to rejoin his family in Seattle early next year. In an official statement, the envoy - who took the post in August 2011 - said he had informed US President Obama of his decision in a meeting earlier this month.
So there are big banner ads everywhere (check up top, there!) that say “Go Health Yourself,” and we’ve already written about this big event—which is tomorrow!—on Line Out and officially Suggested it. But just why is everyone so damn excited about something that looks like a health-care fair? I called up the spokesman from SEIU, who’s co-sponsoring the event, to find out.
Hi! Um, why are we doing this “Go Health Yourself” thing again?
Jackson Holtz, SEIU: What happened is the Affordable Care Act passed—that’s Obamacare—and everybody should be really psyched about it. But there’s a concerted effort among the right wing and big corporations to do everything they can to make it seem like the Affordable Care Act is something horrible. [Editor’s note: For example, see this creepy Uncle-Sam-all-up-in-your-vagina ad.]
So you guys decided to throw Obamacare a big ol’ party. Sweet! But what exactly is it?
Well first, there’s great music—it’s Hey Marseilles, and that’s awesome, and then there’s the Emerald City Soul Club. So I’m excited! Also, you’ll be able to find out what resources are available to help you sign up for quality affordable health care.
Tell me more. What am I gonna find, health-care-wise, if I show up to Chop Suey tomorrow night? Other than sexy people dancing and playing music, which is very health-inducing.
What people will find at the event is that signing up [for health insurance] is easy. It takes a little bit of time and a little bit of homework, but we’re gonna have people there to help everyone prepare for what they need to know and to show them what kind of coverage is available for their income. For some people, there’s free health care available. For others it’s low-cost. Obamacare is accessible, it’s affordable, and it’s the right thing to do.
What happens if you skip this whole process—you just say fuck it, I’m not getting insurance? You could pay a fine, right?
You could potentially pay a tax penalty—if you don’t enroll by next March 31, you can face a $95 fine or 1 percent of your income, whichever is higher, when you file your 2014 taxes. But what really sucks is that you don’t have health care. We’re here to counter the argument that the other side is saying—that this thing sucks. We’re saying no, it doesn’t suck. In Washington State, we’re in the top three in enrollment. We have a functioning health plan website, we’re a progressive community, this is what we do. Signing up for health care doesn’t suck! Talk to people, find out how much it sucks to break your arm and have to deal with the emergency room and then deal with follow-up care and physical therapy. Or talk to your friends who get MS in their 20s. Or who just have a really bad flu. Or go skiing and break their leg. You don’t think it can happen, but in reality that happens. It probably happens to more people than you know. The Affordable Care Act is what we, as a nation, have decided is the best way to take care of each other—having health care is an important part of being part of just being a healthy community. [Editor's note: As is dancing, music, sweating a lot, and sexy people. Right?]
Hey, the details! They're right here if you missed the other thousand links!
WTF? Go Health Yourself, the Obamacare Party!
W[here]TF? Chop Suey!
W[hen]TF? Tomorrow night, starting at 8 p.m. (doors at 7)!
How TF much does it cost? $7! Get tickets here!
It's not council member-elect Kshama Sawant's avowed socialism that scares some Democratic Party insiders. Most Seattle Democrats share her core values and embrace much of her agenda ($15 minimum wage, progressive taxation, etcetera). And much of what most Democrats don't embrace (say, collectivizing Boeing), they don't expect she has a snowball's chance of enacting, so no worries there.
No, it's not her socialism that some Democrats find scary, but her independence. More than just being a Socialist, Sawant has made it absolutely clear that she is not a Democrat. She might have even won some Democratic LD endorsements had she merely said she was a Democrat—but she isn't, so she wouldn't, and thus she didn't. And that is rightly perceived by some as a threat to the Democratic Party's hegemony over local electoral politics.
To be clear, Sawant didn't just win office by running a successful outsider campaign—that happens from time to time. She won office by explicitly running away from and in opposition to the Democratic Party, which she accused of being in the pockets of big corporations. She didn't spend a dime on the consultancy crowd that normally frames our political conservations, and she didn't raise money from any of the usual suspects. She did win a few labor endorsements, but steadfastly refused to play the endorsement game.
Now that she's elected, Sawant will need to work with some traditional Democratic allies (like labor) if she wants to be effective in office, but that shouldn't be so hard since these should be her natural allies too. But unlike her Democratic colleagues, she won't feel beholden to anybody but the voters who elected her.
Sawant's election means one less seat on the Democratic bench, and one less Democratic elected official to help give future Democratic candidates a leg up. But more importantly, it's a demonstration that you don't need to be a Democrat to win election in Seattle. Everybody understands that Sawant's insurgent campaign would be almost impossible to duplicate by design—even Sawant may struggle to repeat it. But in a city where Democratic power brokers have grown accustomed to declaring frontrunners, Sawant provides an inspiring example to all those candidates willing to run from behind.
It turns out that the conventional wisdom isn't so wise, and the power brokers don't have a lock on power. And exposing that reality is much more upsetting to the Democratic establishment than Sawant's "Socialist" label.
In October, [conservative activist Larry] Klayman called upon “millions of Americans” to march on Washington, D.C. The goal? To remove “usurper” President Obama from office. Today, November 19, 2013, is the date Larry Klayman picked for his “revolution.” Did the millions he forecast to descend upon the city arrive in planes, trains, and automobiles? Are the Obama’s hastily packing and preparing to sneak out of the White House under cover of darkness? Hardly. Larry Klayman’s revolution was not quite what he predicted it would be. Right Wing Watch estimates that “no more than a hundred people” attended today’s event.
Here's Klayman's call to arms, from last month, in which he accuses President Obama of bowing down to Allah and compares himself to Gandhi:
When Mitt Romney chose famous budget-slasher Paul Ryan for his vice presidential candidate, he was widely perceived as embracing Republican austerity measures. But then the Romney campaign basically kept Ryan from talking about his agendas—cutting government programs, slashing taxes, "fixing" Social Security—while campaigning. Now the Washington Post says Ryan is preparing an anti-poverty plan for next year:
Advisers say Ryan’s immediate goal is to become chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee when Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) steps down in 2015. That would give him an ideal perch to advance an expanded agenda that combines an overhaul of the tax code and federal health and retirement programs with kinder, gentler policies to encourage work and upward mobility.
As I've noted, we live in Paul Ryan's America already; his plans for reducing government three years ago have basically become a reality, and it's been terrible for the middle class. Now that he's preparing to go directly after the very poor, expect the already-tattered social safety net to resemble nothing so much as a ruined cobweb floating in the breeze.
This American Life was a rerun this weekend, but it contained a short piece that'd be an entertaining and informative listen for anyone tracking Seattle's path toward universal preschool.
In the '90s, a lawmaker snuck universal preschool into Oklahoma state law—that's Oklahoma, one of the most conservative states in the country. And the state legislator who snuck it in, Joe Eddins, says to the TAL reporter that it would've been aboslutely impossible to pass otherwise:
Eddins: I don't see it ever being funded if you had to do it like other states do. If you had to say, "Here's a program that we want to implement, here's how much money it'll take." Whew! Where are you going to get the money? Okay? If you would have to have a line-item appropriation, nobody would've supported it except the young mothers, and they have no political clout.
Alex Blumberg: Say other stayes want do something like this—
Eddins: They don't have a prayer. They don't have a prayer. They don't have a prayer. Because it's expensive, and state legislatures are run by people who want to cut programs, not add programs.
As Goldy's mentioned, "everybody agrees"—even Republicans—that quality early learning gets results. It's undeniable. But just like Eddins says, our legislature just doesn't have the balls to fund it. So, like other cities, Seattle's gonna have a go at it ourselves, thanks largely to leadership from city council member Tim Burgess.
Check out the TAL story if you have 20 minutes to kill today:
The race to replace Dwight Pelz as Washington State Democratic Party chair just got a bit more interesting with the news that former Planned Parenthood Northwest political director Dana Laurent is throwing her hat into the ring.
Laurent has a resume rich with relevant experience as a grassroots organizer, party activist, political fundraiser, campaign manager, and political strategist. She also has impeccable progressive credentials. Along with her stint at Planned Parenthood and her active role recruiting PCOs for the 36th Legislative District Democrats, Laurent is currently the executive director for the Win/Win Network, while serving on the boards of Fuse Washington, OneAmerica Votes, and Progressive Majority Washington. She's also, obviously, a woman, which doesn't hurt when you're running a party that disproportionately relies on women voters to push its candidates over the top.
“This is a pivotal time for Democrats in Washington,” kvells former Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown in a press release. "The next chair must bring a combination of progressive values, political expertise and commitment to winning elections. That leader is Dana Laurent.”
Unlike some of the other candidates for the position, Laurent is well known (and well liked) in Seattle-area Democratic circles. If she's not an instant frontrunner, she probably should be.
This is an issue we have dealt with privately for many years, and we are pained to see it become public. Since it has, one thing should be clear: Liz has always believed in the traditional definition of marriage. She has also always treated her sister and her sister’s family with love and respect, exactly as she should have done. Compassion is called for, even when there is disagreement about such a fundamental matter and Liz’s many kindnesses shouldn’t be used to distort her position.
The mother in this family, Lynne Cheney, is also in favor of gay marriage. But when Lynne and Dick's gay-married daughter, Mary, defends a right that both mom and dad agree she should have, Mary's the problem? Not Liz?
Earlier this year, northwest environmentalists and an impressive array of elected officials lobbied the US Army Corps of Engineers and the State Department of Ecology to thoroughly review all of the environmental and economic impacts before permitting the world's largest coal export terminal to be built at Cherry Point, outside of Bellingham, Washington. The activists' efforts were met with mixed results: The feds basically said "Haha, nope!" while the department of ecology was like, "sure thing, friend."
Now they're doing it all over again, this time targeting another coal export terminal proposed for Longview, Washington. Like the Gateway Pacific Terminal at Cherry Point, the proposed $643 million Millennium Bulk Terminals facility will take coal arriving by train from Montana and Wyoming and ship it to Asia.
Today, 21 state legislators, led by Representative Reuven Carlyle (D-36), submitted an eight-page letter asking that county, state, and federal agencies thoroughly review the cumulative impacts of plunking a terminal along the Columbia river. Specifically, they ask that agencies take into account the proposed Cherry Point terminal (and another terminal planned for Oregon), when reviewing environmental and economic impacts—including congested rail crossings, impacts to current freight and passenger rail, traffic impacts, effects on property values along rail lines, net employment changes, noise, air pollution, and greenhouse gas effects, among other things.
From the letter:
In addition to the discrete impacts list above, we strongly urge the agencies to analyze the effects of the MBTL project cumulatively, in light of existing coal export proposals and other potential bulk fuel export projects in the Pacific Northwest. These additional projects will almost certainly have similar impacts (in type if not in extent), and the potential aggregate impacts should be analyzed in the environmental review process. The very nature of a comprehensive assessment requires a cumulative assessment that accurately identifies and analyzes the externalities of multi-site proposals. Only through a comprehensive and thorough review process can all affected parties understand and assess the scope of the project.
It seems like a pretty obvious ask, and yet judging by the feds' reaction to just this kind of thorough, data-driven review process at Cherry Point, it still needs to be said. Repeatedly. Today is the last day to submit public testimony on the terminal proposal—they've already received over 165,000 public comments. You can pile on your thoughts over here.
If I wanted to run for president to the left of Hillary Clinton, this certainly would be something I'd say.
I know it's cool in Seattle, even among Democrats, to roll their eyes at Congressman Jim McDermott as an ineffective do-nothing, but I've always appreciated his role in Congress as an unabashed truth-teller. (I also don't equate bringing home the bacon with effectiveness.)
The fact is, we're little more than a month into the ACA rollout. Sure, the website was fucked, but it's getting fixed, and there's plenty of time for Americans to sign up before the March deadline. So everybody—especially Democrats—need to stop shitting bricks, and give this thing some time to work.
That said, wouldn't this all have been much easier and more straightforward if we had simply offered a public option?
Today, Toronto's city council voted to strip their leader, the crack-smoking, pussy-eating warthog known as mayor Rob Ford, of some of his mayoral duties. Among them: His ability to appoint committee chairs—giving him less control over policy making decisions—and his ability to govern during citywide emergencies (question: does his current situation constitute an emergency?).
In response, mayor Ford vowed to fight the council's move in court. But because he's a very self-aware sort of person, Ford had this to say:
"Obviously, I can't support this," Ford told council members, warning that the legal fight will cost taxpayers "an arm and a leg."
But, he added: "I perfectly understand where they're coming from. ... I would have supported what they're doing. I want to move on. I'm not mad at anybody."
... The mayor's brother, Councilor Doug Ford, chastised fellow council members, saying they didn't have the "moral or legal authority" to strip an elected official of his responsibilities.
"It's not up to you folks to make this decision," he said, "it's up to the people."
On the one hand, if Ford gets the job done, who cares how much crack he's smoking and pussy he's eating (even though he denies eating any pussy but matrimonially sanctioned pussy)? On the other hand, taking this Mayor Ford quotes quiz will pretty much wipe out any empathy you have for the guy. Unless you're a dick.
Council Member Tom Rasmussen says he's trying to tweak the city budget to fund two different pedestrian/bike/transit improvements, both of which are important. As I wrote yesterday, while his plan removes $500,000 from planning for a Northgate pedestrian bridge so he can use that money to fund a green boulevard in West Seattle, he says he's quite certain that adding the same money back into next year's budget will be good enough to keep the bridge project on schedule.
But advocates for the bridge project strongly disagree. This morning, local pedestrian advocacy organization Feet First wrote a letter to Rasmussen asserting that his budget change "could jeopardize completion" of the Northgate ped/bike bridge, which would connect the future light-rail station with the communities on the other side of the highway. They say that his move to take away planning money could put the bridge behind schedule.
Here's why, says Feet First:
It is vital that this project move forward, particularly in 2014. Although the city and Sound Transit have committed a combined $10 million towards partial funding of the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge, this project still has an $8–$10 million funding gap. The agreement between the city and Sound Transit stipulates that this funding gap must be closed by the summer of 2015 or the Northgate Pedestrian/Bicycle Bridge project will be cancelled and the money reallocated. The city is currently pursuing grants to close the funding gap. However, any delays in project development will weaken efforts to secure these grants; the lack of a preferred alternative will make this project less competitive against other grant applications that are closer to construction.
They also get a jab in at the neighborhood angle, noting that "for years, north Seattle's pedestrian infrastructure has been neglected." North Seattle, you'll recall, is the only future city council district that can't count a single city council member as a resident. A PDF of the full letter is right here.
The West Seattle project is a great project, and Rasmussen has every reason to support it, even outside the framework of the new districts (he lives in West Seattle). But projects get prioritized for a reason, and while he doesn't seem concerned about how this will affect the bridge's funding, plenty of other people, including the often-overlooked neighborhoods the bridge will serve and regional organization Feet First, certainly are worried.