Supporters protest Seattle teacher’s transfer
More than 100 supporters of a teacher at Seattle’s Center School packed Wednesday night’s School Board meeting to protest disciplinary action that will move him to another school next year. Decked out in green clothes and armbands, they insisted Seattle Public Schools board members reinstate Jon Greenberg at the high school along with his now-banned frank-discussion method of teaching about racial issues. The district Wednesday confirmed that Greenberg is to be moved to Hamilton International Middle School next year. Seattle Times, 6-5-13.
Making the city safe for lawn chairs
Before officers in the Seattle Police Department (SPD) head out on a shift, they glance at a map on a computer at the precinct office. The map is dotted with little red boxes. Each box represents an area where, according to an algorithm, crime is most likely to occur. Officers know to pay extra attention to those areas. The software, called PredPol for predictive policing, is designed to forecast crimes much like meteorologists predict the weather. It’s loaded with crime reports stripped of everything except the time, date, location and type of crime. An algorithm crunches the data and selects several spots on a map where property crime is most likely to occur. This is expected to build trust in the community by better responding to people’s needs. But PredPol, which costs $45,000 a year, will be used to predict and prevent property crimes, a category of crime that has declined almost every year for the last 25 years, according to SPD. PredPol doesn’t address complaints raised by the DOJ report about a police culture that allowed officers’ use of excessive force to go unchecked. Real Change, 6-5-13.
McGinn’s daily news events: Short on news, long on politics
A contentious Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn managed to alienate a lot of people during his first two years of office, from supporters of the Museum of History and Industry to backers of the state Route 520 bridge product and the deep bore tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. McGinn is trying to make up for all that in an election year, staging ceaseless, nonstop daily “feel-good” news events at which official announcements are used to boost hizzoner’s re-election prospects. “Mayor to Announce New Families and Education Levy Award for Dental Health” was the news Tuesday. “McGinn announces new work opportunities for at-risk youth” was the packaged event Wednesday. While mayoral challenger Ed Murray announced his latest list of endorsers, McGinn was announcing a new program — or maybe it was an extension of the existing program — to provide jobs for at-risk youth ages 14-18, in announcement laden with self-promotion. Seattle P-I, 6-5-13.
With Murray locked in fundraising freeze, backers create independent committee
Seattle mayoral candidate Ed Murray faces one obstacle not shared by his rivals. As a state senator, Murray (D-43) is barred from raising campaign cash while the Legislature remains in session. With lawmakers locked in a budget stalemate, that has threatened to become a liability for the Murray campaign as the Aug. 6 primary draws closer. Now a group of Murray backers is stepping in to fill the void, forming an independent political committee called People for Ed Murray. The group, whose co-chairs include former Seattle Mayor Charles Royer and Puget Sound Partnership chair Martha Kongsgaard, said in a news release it plans to “level the field” with other candidates who don’t have to abide by the fundraising freeze. (Interestingly, Kongsgaard’s husband, environmental attorney Peter Goldman, has endorsed former City Council member Peter Steinbrueck in the mayor’s race.) Seattle Times, 6-5-13.
Investigation questions complaint against Federal Way mayor
The city has released an investigation of a complaint against Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest over his alleged behavior during a meeting with a City Council member. The formal complaint was filed May 9 by Council member Kelly Maloney after a conversation she had with the mayor the day before. The complaint describes a nearly 30-minute meeting in which the mayor was angry, pounding his fist on the desk and “lacing the ‘F’ word throughout his statements as he was yelling.” The complaint alleged the mayor was trying to intimidate Maloney and claimed the mayor also cried. Priest is running for re-election to a second term in 2013. The investigator reported a concern that the complaint filed by Maloney “was being used for political objectives.” According to the investigator: “Although I do not make any specific findings about who notified the press of Ms. Maloney’s complaint, the fact that Ms. Maloney told Mayor Priest’s political opponent about it raises the possibility that the complaint itself, regardless of the investigative findings, could be used to elicit as much damage politically, as possible, over a single conversation.” Federal Way Mirror, 6-5-13.
Kirkland residents oppose banning plastic bags, study reveals
Kirkland residents have spoken: Leave plastic bags alone. During a recent phone survey from the city of Kirkland, 69 percent of 407 residents opposed the ban of plastic shopping bags, while 90 percent favored encouraging citizens to voluntarily reduce their bag use instead. From May 21-23, employees from Elway Research, Inc. – the same research firm that led the Seattle plastic bag survey – called adult residents at random with a 16 question recycling survey.Of the 67 percent who opposed charging a fee for plastic bags, 67 percent also said they’d be willing to pay something, while 33 percent said they would not pay anything, an option not offered in the questionnaire. “I hate going to Seattle and you have to pay 15 cents [for paper bags],” said Shaun Hanning, who grasped a plastic bag on Monday following a shopping trip at the Parkplace QFC in Kirkland. “I’d be pretty sad if they took them away, but at the same time it’s bad for the environment. Maybe they should make one that, like, dissolves in the water.” Kirkland Reporter, 6-5-13.
House Democrats offer ‘significant compromise’ budget
House Democrats offered to trim back spending and drop many proposals on taxes as part of a compromise they say would allow the Legislature to pass a 2013-15 operating budget before time runs out in the special session. The $33.6 billion plan for the next biennium spends an extra $700 million on public schools in an attempt to meet a state Supreme Court mandate, although less than their leaders proposed at the beginning of the year. It closes fewer tax exemptions and preferences and would not extend a business and occupation tax surcharge or higher taxes on beer that are scheduled to expire at the end of the month. A separate proposal would close or reduce seven tax exemptions, raising an estimated $256 million. That money would be dedicated to specific programs in public schools or colleges if they pass as separate legislation. But the coalition of 23 Republicans and two Democrats that holds the 25-24 majority in the Senate, was less enthusiastic. Spokesman-Review, 6-5-13.
State health exchange awards $6M to community health groups
Washington state’s health benefit exchange has announced the 10 organizations that will share $6 million in contracts to lead local groups that will help the public navigate the new health insurance system. The federally mandated exchange, called the Healthplanfinder, is an online marketplace that will allow people to comparison shop for health insurance. It starts operation on Oct. 1, with coverage kicking in Jan. 1. Each of the 10 contract winners will be responsible for a selecting and leading organizations in the community to offer a more localized in-person assister network. The exchange estimates another 75 additional organizations will be included in these subcontractor-like partnerships. The smaller partner organizations will likely include local health clinics, cultural centers and other community resources. Puget Sound Business Journal, 6-5-13.
Cowlitz commissioners hear update on coal terminal permit process
Several factors — including the need to be extra cautious in the face of public scrutiny — are contributing to the lengthy time it’s taking to process a permit for the proposed Longview coal terminal, Cowlitz County commissioners were told Tuesday. Millennium Bulk Terminals applied for the permit to build a $643 million terminal west of Longview in February of 2012. The consultant who will conduct the environmental review was hired last month, and public hearings are yet to be scheduled. Commissioner Dennis Weber said some have questioned how long the process is taking. Usually, one local public hearing is all that’s needed for a shoreline permit, said George Raiter, the county’s interim Building and Planning Director.. But because there is statewide and even international concern about the coal projects, several hearings are planned across the state during the “scoping” phase to ensure everyone who wants to can comment. Longview Daily News, 6-5-13.
Washington immigration lockups among worst for long holds
If you end up in an immigration detention center in Washington, you could face a long stay. And ironically, if you’re a legal resident the lockup will likely be even longer. Newly released federal statistics show Washington ranks toward the bottom of the list for quick turnover in detention. Immigrants are held in detention for an average of 48 days in Washington. And out of 30 states with the most detainees, Washington ranks number 20 – among the worst – for long detention times. That’s according to a new report from researchers at Syracuse University. The findings are based on two months of federal immigration data from 2012. Northwest Public Radio, 6-4-13.
Marijuana industry gets a little help from its friends in Congress
Add marijuana to the list of home-state businesses that members of Congress are trying to protect. Wednesday, House members from Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and California held a press conference outside the Capitol to advocate legislation that would allow marijuana businesses that are legal in their states, such as medical marijuana dispensaries, to take standard business deductions when they file their federal taxes. These members also want to change federal banking laws so that marijuana businesses don’t have to operate as cash-only enterprises. Legislation also has been introduced to protect the property of medical marijuana dispensaries from being seized by the Justice Department through civil forfeiture proceedings. All three bills are critical to the marijuana industry, which has emerged as a legitimate business opportunity now that 20 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized marijuana for medical purposes, and two states, Washington and Colorado, have legalized recreational use of the drug. Puget Sound Business Journal, 6-5-13.
McDermott to Fox’s Megyn Kelly: ‘Stop it!’
Seattle’s Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott found himself in the crosshairs of the political right Tuesday when he lampooned as “political theater” Republican-run House hearings on the IRS for targeting applications for tax-exempt status by Tea Party groups. He also described what the IRS did as “stupid” and “inept.” But McDermott fired back when on Wednesday morning when intrusive Fox News host Megyn Kelly tried to put words in his mouth. McDermott told Kelley: “Stop it!!!” Kelly repeatedly interrupted McDermott, and brought up the $30,000 claim. McDermott responded that the witness was not under oath when he claimed $30,000 was lost, adding: “He didn’t offer any proof.” The congressman tried to argue that witnesses (including the IRS) often make misleading or outrageous or half-true claims at congressional hearings. “Do you make false or misleading claims?” Kelly asked. “He was lying? Is that your answer to that?” “Ms. Kelly, you are putting words in my mouth: Stop that! You are putting words in my mouth. Stop it!” McDermott shot back. Seattle P-I, 6-5-13.
MA Senate debate: ‘Stale’ Republican v. ‘hyperpartisan’ Dem
In their debate Wednesday night in the Massachusetts Senate special election, Republican businessman Gabriel Gomez and Democratic Rep. Ed Markey each took every opportunity to brand the other as a product of his national party out of step with the state’s voters. At every turn, Markey characterized Gomez as being in lockstep with national Republicans and Gomez cast Markey as a “hyperpartisan” creature of Washington. Both men, vying to fill the Senate seat formerly occupied by Secretary of State John Kerry, have been making similar attacks on each other since winning their respective primaries in April. They immediately came out swinging in Wednesday’s debate. TPM’s Polltracker average shows Markey leading Gomez by just over 10 percentage points. The special election is June 25. Talking Points Memo, 6-5-13.
To Think About
Amazon’s grocery delivery: A Trojan horse to get in your door
Amazon already delivers everything from toothpaste to televisions to your doorstep. Now, it wants to bring your berries and beer, too. The online retailing behemoth is planning a major expansion of AmazonFresh, the home delivery service of meat, dairy, and other fresh and frozen foods that it has been field-testing in Seattle since 2007. The service could launch in Los Angeles this week, and delivery in San Francisco is on the horizon for later this year, according to Reuters. By 2014, the company could expand grocery delivery to 40 major urban areas. So why would a heavyweight like Amazon bother diving into the grocery business, with its notoriously razor-thin profit margins? Home grocery delivery could prove to be a Trojan horse for Amazon to get inside your home more frequently, says Justin Bomberowitz, a senior analyst with RetailNet Group, which released a research note on AmazonFresh in April. So who are the likely shoppers for this service? This is not for the people who find joy in squeezing avocados to find the best one in the bin. But it is for busy, moneyed professionals who will happily delegate that task to someone else. KUOW, 6-5-13.