Thursday, December 31, 2009

Predictions for 2010

Happy New Year!

[Ed. Note, see my 2011 Predictions, too]

2010, an even numbered year, can not hide how odd it will be.

Yesterday, one of Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn's media advocacy groups,, posted its ten predictions for 2010.

In light of what passed for predictions, I will make some of my own for Mike McGinn, Seattle City Council, King County Executive Dow Constantine, the Washington State Legislative "short session", and color trends in Seattle (why not),

Mike McGinn set expectations high among his supporters during his mayoral campaign with open access becaming a backstory for someone that was generally unknown a year ago. Here, first, are the McGinn predictable let-downs for 2010.

1. The accessable candidate will substitute a blizzard of press releases as a substitute for actual connectivity (there are way too many citizens). Get used to this:
The new mayor is inviting the public to a "City Hall Open House" between 1 p.m. and 5 p.m., that day. According to a news release from McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus, the event will celebrate "the city's commitment to openness, transparency and the spirit of service in Seattle."
From the Seattle Times, McGinn inaugural week includes concerts, City Hall tours, Posted by Jim Brunner

There the "openess" was communicated by a press release, from a staffer. I'll let his fans forgive him for this, and they will, because they love him.

2. McGinn will discover the double-edged sword that is Frank Chopp. They both do not like the deep bore tunnel replacement for the Alaska Way Viaduct. Hooray for McGinn. Sadly, that is where the agreement ends. McGinn wants a surface option, Chopp wanted a Choppaduct.

This is where we were a year ago. So, this is what passes as "Progressive", going backward into a quagmire, if McGinn is successful.
The built-in failure of McGinn's surface option will not slow him down.

3. There will be at least one policy item that I will actively support as much I oppose others.

4. McGinn will make the mistake of worrying way to much about Councilmember Tim Burgess potential run against him in 2013, while Council President Richard Conlin does the real work of moving the councils' agenda past McGinn.

The race to consume the city's bonding capacity began 6 months ago.

5. Councilmember Nick Licata does not want to relive the monorail. This will be an obstacle for Mike McGinn attempt to force an early public vote on his West Side light rail.
For fun, substitute "AWV Tunnel" for "Sound Transit", and "West Side Light Rail" for "Monorail" here: Urban Politics #89.

6, and 7. The Washington State Legislature's "short session" begins January 12, and runs for 60 days. Urbanized counties will "horse trade" levy equalization in "tax poor" rural school distrcts for broader taxing authority in the "tax rich" districts. A lot hangs in the balance for Dow Constantine here, and he will show leadership here.

8. The color is red, though some will claim it is for Seattle University, some for Washington State University, creating a purple backlash from the University of Washington. Lots of red and purple this year.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, December 28, 2009 The Climate Lobby from Soup to Nuts - Global Climate Change Lobby

The Center for Public Integrity, when it isn't trying to think up a better name for itself is reporting on the lobbying effort on climate legislation in Washington D.C. it appears that low carbon producing industries are not thrilled that the coal industry may get a 15-year free pass in cap-and-trade legislation.
The next round of the battle over climate change policy on Capitol Hill will involve more than the usual suspects. Way more. Watch soup makers face off against steel companies. Witness the folks who pump gas from the ground fight back against those who dig up rock. And watch the venture capitalists who have money riding on new technology try to gain advantage in a game that so far has been deftly controlled by the old machine.
In short, even though President Obama pledged to the world at Copenhagen that the United States is committed to action on global warming, the domestic politics are only growing “curiouser and curiouser,” as Alice might say from Wonderland. An analysis of the latest federal records by The Center for Public Integrity shows that the overall number of businesses and groups lobbying on climate legislation has essentially held steady at about 1,160, thanks in part to a variety of interests that have left the fray. But a close look at the 140 or so interests that jumped into the debate for the first time in the third quarter shows a marked trend: Companies and organizations which feel they’ve been overlooked are fighting for a place at the table.
In other words, as the action moved to the Senate in recent months, still more sectors of the economy waded into the battle. This occurred even though the issue and interests are already so complex that Congress failed to pass legislation this year as hoped, and even though the House more than doubled its draft bill to 1,428 pages to address an array of industry concerns and gain passage back in June. The amount of money involved likely rose as well. Although amounts spent on lobbying by issue are not disclosed, if the groups involved spent just 10 percent of their lobbying budgets on climate, they shelled out $30.5 million in the third quarter — up nearly 13 percent over the previous quarter.
(read more here, it's Mmm Mmm, Good: Center for Public Integrity:The Climate Lobby from Soup to Nuts, An Array of New Interests Joins Washington’s Climate Change Debate
By Marianne Lavelle and M.B. Pell | December 27, 2009

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Sunday, December 27, 2009 Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who've told the White House or their own leaders that it's time to jettison the centerpiece of their party's plan to curb global warming.

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year.

“I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who've told the White House or their own leaders that it's time to jettison the centerpiece of their party's plan to curb global warming., Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade

With "moderates" like that, they might as well be Republicans. I think the White House should push every item they can, while they can. The Dems are going to lose the 60-ish majority in the Senate. They might as well clean house on their terms (that's you, Leiberman).

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Daily Kos: State of the Nation, 20 Answers

The Daily Kos has a pretty good "Q&A" about the federal legislation churning through that other Washington.

Kos' answers are to Nate Silver and his 20 questions For Bill Killers.

Read the Kos answers (and questions) here.

Why this matters to this Washington: states form their policy, and resulting legislation, around what the federal government is, or is NOT, supporting. Had the feds done their job and passed Healthcare Reform Washington State attempting to fund some of those things that might be covered in the federal legislation. The delay tactics by Republicans, and Democrats (DINOs, in particular), cause states to just keep cutting things they know will not get supported, or might not be supported, or could be supported.

Washington State's "short"100 day session starts in January. It requires hacking 2.6 billion dollars out of the budget of the state or out of the budget of tax payers. The bigger problem is that if/when federal legislation shows up there will be holes between the feds and state where real people will not get support, or, there will be overlap in policy and the state budget is projected to cover something already covered by the feds. We waste our legislator's time, and possible enact taxes, on actions that will just go away in 2014.
A simplistic view would be to just say that we can adjust later. That one point is true, and ignores the complete waste of time, money, and effort, to enact state legislation. IT IS WASTEFUL.

So, why would Republicans want to delay, other than pushing this into an open campaign season?
Well, let's look at the federal stimulus package that was eventually passed this year. The stimulus package was going to pass no matter what Republicans said or did. What the republicans were able to do in many cases is force state to complete their budgets without knowing exactly what the federal government would "stimulate" (though they could guess on some of it). So, states may have cut things they didn't need to, or support things that were eventually covered (overlap). It was, in a small way, a way to force cuts on states.
Washington State pretty much ran in place on the budget waiting for the the federal legislation, and then passed the state budget at the end. Worse yet, much like this short session, you have state Republicans calling for cutting right now, in a Special Session, without the benefit of knowing what the federal government is planning to do. It is true that there will have to be cuts, but cutting something you can support temporarily until the feds take over just impacts people, you know, people.

The shorter and simpler answer to much of this is that Republicans hate government (name the part they like... see) so having bad government is good for killing government. The people, the majority does not call its self Republican, debate the size and shape of government but want it to be good and work.

Right now, government is not working as well as it could, that's what Republicans want. Is that what you want?

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

On the state chopping block, "property-poor" School Districts, Red Districts with Republican Reps

The Gov submitted the required balanced budget. She has identified programs that both could be cut, but should be funded. As I mention a few days ago, those that "have not" will not have school district levy equalization money scooped up from all over the state (via the general fund) and given to district that either do not have the tax base for levies, or have chosen not to raise taxes. The last group, usually represented by like minded Republicans will be beggng on the House and Senate floor for a redistribution of wealth.
Her budget would eliminate the Basic Health Plan, a state-subsidized insurance program for the working poor, saving about $161 million over the next fiscal year. About 65,000 people are current enrolled.

Also zeroed out would be the General Assistance-Unemployable (GAU) program, which provides a temporary safety net for people unable to work because of mental or physical disabilities. That would save $207 million.

It would suspend funding for school levy equalization, which provides money to "property-poor" school districts, saving $143 million, and suspend state-subsidized all-day kindergarten, saving another $33.6 million. State-subsidized all-day kindergarten has been offered at a few school districts with the intent of expanding the program.

The budget also would cut $146 million in financial aid for college students and lower the qualifying income threshold from 70 percent of median family income to 50 percent. That means the money would only go to low-income families. The size of the grants would be smaller as well.

All told, the governor's budget would reduce spending by about $1.7 billion. The rest of the $2.6 billion shortfall would be filled by shifting money from certain funds and tapping reserves.
read the story here, in Seattle Times, Facing $2.6 billion shortfall, Gregoire to seek tax increase to balance budget

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

News Flash, "a family of three needs at least thirty-six thousand to get by in Seattle"

Yesterday I wrote about the Washington State Legislature preparing for the "short" 60-day session in January. As the state makes cuts, and King County makes cuts, and the City of Seattle makes cuts, will the differences between those that "have", and those that "have not" become greater?

The answer has been "yes" for a couple decades, and it will grow. The reality is that these is a different standard of living, depending on where you live, as well as how you live.

In today's Seattle Times Columnist Danny Westneat provided us with the story of a woman who does not make enough money to live in Seattle, though she does live in Seattle.
It all started a year ago, when Porcaro, a 32-year-old mom with two boys, was summoned to the Seattle office of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). She had been flagged for an audit.

She couldn't believe it. She made $18,992 the previous year cutting hair at Supercuts. A few hundred of that she spent to have her taxes prepared by H&R Block.
. . .
"They thought she must have unreported income. That she was hiding something. Basically they were auditing her for not making enough money."

Seriously? An estimated 60,000 people in Seattle live below the poverty line — meaning they make $11,000 or less for an individual or $22,000 for a family of four. Does the IRS red-flag them for scrutiny, simply because they're poor?
. . .
Rachel's returns weren't all that complicated. At issue, though, was that she and her two sons, ages 10 and 8, were all living at her parents' house in Rainier Beach (she pays $400 a month rent). So the IRS concluded she wasn't providing for her children and therefore couldn't claim them as dependents.
Read the whole story in The Seattle Times, $10 an hour with 2 kids? IRS pounces.

60,000 people, 10%, of Seattle can not afford to live in Seattle.

I used a cost of living "wizard" at to compare living in Seattle on $18,992 in Seattle vs Richland (population 46,000 as of 2008)..
Employers pay 4.7% less in Richland, but the cost of living is 19.4% lower.

So, let's understand something here before the Washington State Legislature gets together, know that there are more "poor" people in Seattle than there are people in Richland. That the cost of living is lower, and your personal wealth is worth more in smaller cities, like Richland. When legislators representing Seattle, and King County, propose bills to allow their municipalities to have access to broader taxes, tourist taxes, untility taxes, stadium taxes, whatever, to get more return for the communities they have invested in, understand why.

Seattle is a nice place to visit, and some of us live here.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

2010 Leadership and "Followship": McGinn, Conlin, Constantine, Brown, Chopp, Gregoire

This week the Washington State Legislature held meetings in Olympia in various sub-committees to prepare for the upcoming "short" session in January. The state's projected budget shortfall of 2.6 billion dollars is the number 1 topic.

Decisions will be made that will put an end to the state being all things to all people. The question becomes, will the state deny some things to all people?
The state may want to stop supporting "tax poor" school districts by cutting some, or all, of Levy Equalization. Will it also deny "tax rich" school districts the ability to raise higher levies?

As it cuts support to counties for health and human services for its citizens will it deny counties different taxing sources to not only make up for the state's shortfall, but the same shortfall counties are facing?

Further, will the state grant authority to counties and cities to choose to raise, or extend local taxes for non-essential services?

As we travel down this road of hard choices, and we answer no, are we denying local control over communities? If we are answering yes are we creating a stark contrast between those that "have", and those that "have not"?

To a great degree we are already living this way. The challenge for the state is to decide what they will commit to supporting, and ensure that power and authority is passed to local jurisdictions to allow them to pick up the pieces not supported by the state.
This is not entirely different than the relationship between the states and the federal government (see Medicare), or the relationship between the county and its cities.

Hopefully those that let go of the responsibility for somethings also let go of the authority, so local communities will be able to say yes where the state says no.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Mayor McPipedream Hold Focus Group, Calls it a "Town Hall"

Hey, J-School kids, it's called a focus group.

As much as I like the idea of the mayor-elect having "Town Halls" I can not quite get over the fact that this was not really a Town Hall.

Dominic Holden got right to the point on who Mike McGinn announced as his first three staff members.
(emphasis mine)
McGinn's deputy mayors will be Phil Fujii, the community relations manager at Vulcan, and Darryl Smith, a Windermere realtor and former city council candidate. Julie McCoy (no, not this Julie McCoy), the managing director of the Mercury Group, which conducted strategy for McGinn's campaign, will be McGinn's chief of staff.
The Stranger

After the 1 hour, 45 minute, thing I think McGinn owes me a free sleeping bag for living through the mayoral version of a timeshare pitch. Here's larger message being given tonight, He needs our help, here are the questions, remember these words, say them back to me, I need your help.

Word to the guy in the red tie, Town Hall means you get your ass out there and we pepper YOU with questions and you try to answer them. For real, this bullshit should have been done 4 months ago. Here is an idea, know what the answers to those three questions are BEFORE you run for office. WTF are you asking these kinds of questions know for, other than to test your word cloud Vulcan/Windermere/Mercury marketing on those think tank subjects in the gym in North Seattle.

Is this Q&A, or push-polling?
Here is a tip, the crowd provided the "answers".

Tell me what you think of when you read these three questions:
How do we build the strongest possible team to achieve the policy objectives and values set forth by the campaign?
How do we build public trust in the new administration?
What do you view as the incoming administration and the city’s greatest challenge — what should the new administration do first out of the gate?

Good, now that you are thinking these things, here are the words we have collected from other people in connection with these same questions (insert "word cloud", that's #7 of 9 tips here at
Now, start talking to the questions, let's see if our "word cloud" words are part of your statements.

Note to the folks in the South end of Seattle, McGinn spoke for about 14 minutes (8 minutes opening, 3 minutes telling everybody that we have a $40 million dollar deficit next year, 3 minutes to close). I hope you are not expecting answers to your questions. I do not think they are ready to market answers yet.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Stranger, Reading Today: A Nickname for Mike McGinn?

This question has been posed at the SeattleWeekly, as well as today in the Stranger; what should the be the nickname for the new mayor?

At Seattle Mystery Bookshop, it's time for Derek Haas. Columbus is about an international assassin who is nicknamed "The Silver Bear." I think "The Silver Bear" would be a great nickname for our new mayor.

posted by PAUL CONSTANT on SAT, NOV 21, 2009 at 10:04 AM
Reading Today: A Nickname for Mike McGinn? , The Stranger [Slog].

First, barf, second, I have selected my own nickname for McGinn.

I will be calling Seattle Mayor-elect Mike McGinn Mayor McTaft. This name is for his neighborhood "Dollar Diplomacy" that he is chasing, as well as serving as his own Secretary of War with the Washington State Legislature.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

[Urban Legends] Urban Politics #282 - MAYOR ELECT MIKE McGINN REACHES OUT

In a year we will all look back and remember that these days were happening while Greg Nickels was still Mayor of Seattle, and Mike McGinn is Mayor-Elect of Seattle.

Urban Politics #282, November 16, 2009

By City Councilmember Nick Licata

I've used Urban Politics primarily to discuss pending and passed legislation, but this year I will also be providing more commentary on City Hall's workings and politics and how I see them helping shape legislation.


Friday afternoon Councilmember Jan Drago stuck her head into my office and said in a jovial manner, "Hey if you want to see the new Mayor, come next door." That would be Councilmember Sally Clark's office. Drago and I found Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn in the middle of Clark's office, smiling broadly (his seemingly ever present smile may become his trademark) and talking in a casual style to both staff and Clark. Councilmember Tim Burgess soon walked over and joined us.

McGinn explained that rather than making courtesy calls to all the Councilmembers, he thought it better to just walk over and meet face to face on a casual basis. This is a departure from Mayor Nickel's style, which was to rely more on his deputy mayor Tim Ceis to walk the Council hallway.

In another way McGinn is making a more dramatic departure from not only the Nickels' transition but others that have gone before him as well. Rather than appoint a distinguished list of civic leaders and activists to head up his transition team, he is relying on a more diffuse collection of community people. As one of them explained to me, "He wanted to avoid a sense of who was in and who was out in this effort."  And there still seems to be a lot of campaign volunteers willing to continue with their assistance. McGinn shared with us that up to six volunteers a day were currently working in the transition office in the Municipal Tower across from City Hall.

McGinn is also asking a number of community leaders to solicit opinions from their contacts in the general public by answering several questions. I received such a request from Sharon Lee, the Executive Director of the Low Income Housing Institute. And with her encouragement I'm passing on these questions to UP readers. For those who wish to answer the following questions, send your comments directly to Sharon at by this Friday. She will compile them and submit them to a smaller group working directly with Mayor Elect McGinn.

Mayor Elect McGinn's Three Questions:

How do we build the strongest possible team to achieve the policy objectives and values set forth during Mike's campaign?

How do we build public trust in the new administration?

What do you view as the incoming administration and the city's greatest challenge - what should we do first out of the gate?

I applaud this effort and wish him well in his administration's first challenge: figuring out how to best use this flood of information. I hope he also shares the compiled responses he receives with the Council and the public. This could be the start of an open and vigorous conversation on where Seattle should be headed

This "reaching out" is not limited to just council members, oh no. You too can run in place with Mayor-Elect Mike McGinn is inviting YOU to participate in the post-election campaign.
Read the vision, give your input to a web page, and read the list of people that have filled our resumes, uh, drones, er, Outreach Meeting people.

What flavor is your kool-aid?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Reality Catcher: Marijuana Decrim, Frank Chopp, and the Case of the Missing Balls

Reality Catcher: Marijuana Decrim, Frank Chopp, and the Case of the Missing Balls

I am no dope smoker, but blocking reasonable legislation by Frank Chopp has to stop, and not with just this subject.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Seattle Times Newspaper: Mallahan concedes Seattle mayor's race to McGinn

Best of luck to Mayor-elect Seattle Mike McGinn. Today his opponent, Joe Mallahan conceded the race to McGinn.
Read the newspaper report, here.

See Mike McGinn's campaign stump speech here:

My reasons for voting for Mallahan left with him, but not my reasons for voting against McGinn.
To quote myself:

The knock I have on Mike McGinn is that he has promised all kinds of things, with many of them requiring cooperation from the state government. Asking for help keeping some of his promises while Mike McGinn battles the state for two years trying to stop the current plan to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel, sounds absurd. He has ideas, not really a plan. Much of his leadership experience appears to be pitting one group against another and fighting.

How would he be viewed at the state level, by the rest of the state? Is he the scruffy lawyer finding every hair to split in his battle with the State of Washington on one hand, while on the other claiming that the state will just fall in line to support his "surface" proposal. That is laughable.
Me, on 10/10/2009

It is up to me to stay engaged in the things that are important to me, even when opposed by Mike's way, or the highway attempts to run me over.

Word to the mayor, I have no fear.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, November 2, 2009

KING5/SurveyUSA Election Poll #16015: Mallahan 45, McGinn 43

I predict: Mallahan 51%, McGinn 48%, 1% other.

Here is the current KING5/ poll. Joe Mallahan 45, Mike McGinn 43, 12 undecided.

Can Joe Mallahan get 5 of the 12% that is left? Yes, that is possible.
Can Mike McGinn get 7 of the 12% that is left? Yes, that is possible.
Margin of error was 4.1%

McGinn has closed ground on Mallahan, but the question is if McGinn can get over 49.9% while opposing the tunnel.
It is possible, though I do not think so. I think the ceiling for the anti-tunnel candidate is 48%.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Thursday, October 29, 2009 | 911 Log has a webmap of crime in Seattle, half an hour later, I thought I should post a link to it here. I am hooked.

Oh, ya, there is good reporting on crime and the police on this site, too.
Go there,, now.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

While filling out my voters' ballot I will be watching Burt Lancaster in "The Swimmer"

Ah, politics and each contest, like The Swimmer, series of swimming pools that greet you in different ways.

In the end, we make the best of each pool, believing and hoping the next pool will be more refreshing than the last.

If you make-believe hard enough, then it's true for you

In a key scene, he encounters a solitary boy playing a flute at a lemonade stand below a tree. The boy's parents are away somewhere. Merrill has no money but cajoles the boy into giving him a drink. He asks the boy if he can use his pool... but when they arrive at the pool, they find it empty. The boy says he can't swim very well. Undaunted, Merrill gives the boy a lesson, and they simulate different strokes across the floor of the dry pool. "If you make-believe hard enough, then it's true for you," Merrill tells him, and the boy is suddenly delighted by his apparent success in swimming an entire length.

But as Merrill departs, he hears a sinister reverberation... he turns, sees the boy bouncing on the spring-board above the deep end.... Yes, in this low tech but high concept film, symbolism is everything.
Film Court | copyright 2001 | Lawrence Russell

Here are my endorsements that I made a couple weeks ago, that I am still sticking with, some more tightly than others.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

In-Kind "Media" Contribution of the Day

It is a tie. These two are actually from yesterday, but here they are:

Did Knute Berger celebrated's switch to a not-for-profit Journalist-ish media outlet with a little slander?

While pretending to be on the fence between the two Seattle mayoral candidates, Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn, Berger slung a little mud (emphasis mine).
If Mike McGinn is a conviction candidate — as contrasted with Mallahan, who seems to be an avatar (or is it shill?) of Seattle's power establishment — he's undercutting his main strength, which is to take bold, challenging stands against the conventional wisdom. You can say this is smart politics, and I suppose it would be if he were running as a conventional politician, but everything about his campaign's appeal — the low budget, the accessibility of the candidate, the insurgent tactics, even the beard — have pointed in a different direction. Are we going to discover that McGinn is now just a more rumpled, perhaps more articulate but also more lawyerly version of Joe Mallahan.
Berger, McGinn's tunnel cave,

Calling McGinn a rumpled lawyer is factually correct. Would it be a stretch to call Mike McGinn, and his development brokering company, a shill for local developers wanting to greenwash housing devepment?

Calling somebody a shill is a pretty serious charge. In some states it is against the law to be a shill. Berger should know this.

But I am not sure how Berger can call Mallahan a shill, as if he is he pretending to be someone that he is not in order to misslead people into buying into him?
So, I will just chalk this up to a political in-kind contribution from a non-profit media organization.

The other in-kind media contribution of the day was from's Erica C. Barnett, ironically from a column/report called Contribution of the Day. in this report Barnett lists who contributed money to which political campaign. But for Barnett the facts are not enough.
. . . conservative mayoral candidate Joe Mallahan.
Erica C. Barnett, Contribution of the Day,

This label prompted the first comment to the story to question the author:
1. Stacy, Stacey, Stacie says:

“Conservative mayor candidate Joe Mallahan?”

Are you even going to pretend to be a journalist Erica? Susan Hutchison yes, Joe Mallahan no. That tag is bullshit and you know it.

The answer is clearly no, Barnett is not even going to bother to pretend to be a journalist. And yes, it is "bullshit".
A conservative candidate for mayor, in Seattle, really?
It looks like's endorsement of Mike McGinn for Mayor does not stop with its editorial staff (whoever that is).

What is the monitary value of media bias? Should Mike McGinn have to claim these labels applied to his opponent as a contribution?
No, but the public should be aware that these two media entities are not newspapers.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Will McGinn now vote for Mallahan?

On September 15th McGinn insisted, "it's not a done deal."
McGinn has ran on this, leading thousands to support him in his bid to be Mayor of Seattle.

Much of McGinn's battle with Joe Mallahan has centered on this issue. Mallahan has been saying that the issue has been decided, and he would use his project management skills to ensure that the project would complete on time and under budget. Now it appears Mike McGinn is taking Joe Mallahan's position.

I guess the question I have for McGinn is: Will he be voting for Mallahan?
It does appear, by McGinn's change of positions, that Mallahan is right.

How many anti-tunnel folks will keep supporting McGinn?
How many undecided voters will view this announcement as an endorsement of Joe Mallahan?
How many people that would otherwise support McGinn, if not for his opposition to the tunnel?

Joe Mallahan released this statement this afternoon:

I am pleased the City Council reaffirmed its commitment to move forward on the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project. The worst thing we could do for our economy is undo a decision that took eight years to make. If we don't move forward on replacing the viaduct, our economy and our traffic will come to a screeching halt.

"My opponent has spent the last eight months campaigning on one issue - stopping the tunnel and our economy from moving forward.

"Now he's changing his position because he's seen the poll numbers and is fighting for his political life. My opponent has shown he is willing to say whatever voters want to hear. His flip-flopping clearly demonstrates that voters have a choice between a political opportunist or a principled leader and effective manager, like myself, to lead this city and our economy forward."

So, the Washington State Governor and Legislature, the current Mayor and City Council of Seattle, have committed to the agreement to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a deep bore tunnel. For eight months Mike McGinn has said that he will fight the project, until today.
McGinn's entire statement:.

Today, the City Council authorized Mayor Greg Nickels to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the State of Washington committing Seattle to the tunnel plan.

I disagree with the decision. I disagree with the timing.
But the reality is Mayor Nickels and the Council have entered into an agreement, and the City is now committed to the tunnel plan.

If I'm elected Mayor, although I disagree with this decision, it will be my job to uphold and execute this agreement. It is not the Mayor's job to withhold the cooperation of city government in executing this agreement.

I will, however, continue to ask tough questions:

• We don't know how much it's actually going to cost.

• If it ends up costing more than the current budget allows, there is serious disagreement between Seattle and the State over who will pay the cost overruns.

• Where will the money come from, and who will bear the burden? Will we have to cut police, fire, library, or services for the poor?

I will not stop asking the tough questions nor will I ever stop standing up for Seattle's interests in this process.

I'm worried the people that want the tunnel have a champagne appetite and the City has a beer budget. The question is who will end up paying the tab.

There is a clear choice in this election.

My opponent has refused to ask any hard questions about the tunnel.

In fact, when asked about the Legislature passing the cost overrun amendment, he said:

"If I were mayor, rather than taking potshots at Democratic leadership who put that (amendment) on, I'd express disappointment and say, "OK, we can live with this."

Seattle cannot live with paying the cost overruns on the tunnel.
Mike McGinn says he would uphold the plans for a tunnel if elected, despite opposition

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Sonicsgate Movie Premere, Tonight!

I will post a few pictures here from the event. I will likely live blog at

Sonicsgate Movie sent a message to the members of Sonicsgate Movie Premiere.

Subject: Sonicsgate Movie Premiere TONIGHT!!

Just a reminder that the Sonicsgate movie premieres tonight!

What: Sonicsgate -- Requiem For A Team
When: Friday, Oct. 9 at 8:00 PM
Where: SIFF Cinema (321 Mercer Street)

This screening is sold out, so hope you got your tickets!  Please note the movie starts at 8PM sharp, and SIFF does not allow late entries.

Join us at the Official Sonicsgate Afterparty at Spitfire (2219 4th Ave) after the movie!  Your ticket stub gets you in free!  Live performances by Neema, Wizdom, Lil Kriz and Spaceman!

Rock on Sonics faithful,

- Sonicsgate Crew

Have a great day!

Tuesday, October 6, 2009 Group sues in federal court to stop Alaskan Way tunnel

The ran this story in its blog on September 15, 2009. The headline, Group sues in federal court to stop Alaskan Way tunnel, was not enough court action.
Today we have, Lawsuit Filed Against State Over Tunnel
Elizabeth Campbell and Seattle Citizens Against the Tunnel have filed a lawsuit against the state Department of Transportation (WSDOT) and WSDOT director Paula Hammond to stop the proposed waterfront Alaskan Way tunnel, arguing that WSDOT is “making a mockery of” the state environmental review process by moving forward with the $4.2 billion deep-bore tunnel without having completed a required environmental review. Campbell, an activist who supports rebuilding the viaduct, filed a similar but separate suit in US district court last month.

So, why does this tunnel need to be stopped?
Seniors beware:  As we drive into the tunnel from the bright sun, and when Seattle is bright the light is strong, within 60 seconds you will be coming to a semi blind curve and if cars are stopped ahead, then accidents are going to happen. And remember, accidents in tunnels cause many times the magnitude of destruction and injury than when they occur on an above ground, open highway.

                 We cannot protect seniors or the taxpayers without your financial and moral support.  Each lawsuit will cost over $100,000 and it will likely take several lawsuits as the tunnel is a very complex project with lots of permits and lots of related government efforts going into trying to improvise [scat] on the facts; not to mention lots of special interests wanting to scat upon the public and its hard earned dollars for these special interests’ benefit.

So, Campbell, after her failed run for Mayor of Seattle, has filed this case in two courts. Why two court filings? I think she will file as many cases as people are willing to pay for. She is a lawyer, this is how she makes a living.

By the way, seniors, by SCAT's statement, we should have packed so many wrecked cars in the Battery Street Tunnel that the dangers of building a new tunnel would be common knowledge. That is some freaking stupid logic, lookout older people, the sun is bright, the NEW tunnel will be dark like cave, and you will die in a horrible car crash unless you give me money to SLAP as many lawsuits as possible.

SCAT (might be pronounced shat?) is Campbells stab at "activi$m", something that will keep her name in the public.  

Seniors beware:  As we drive into the tunnel from the bright sun, and when Seattle is bright the light is strong, within 60 seconds you will be coming to a semi blind curve and if cars are stopped ahead, then accidents are going to happen. And remember, accidents in tunnels cause many times the magnitude of destruction and injury than when they occur on an above ground, open highway.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, October 3, 2009 What would Jane Jacobs do about the Viaduct?

Crosscut's Knute Berger has written an interesting essay that effectively states the urbanist conflict within the race for Mayor of Seattle, between Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn.

Though I had not read Jane Jacobs, I think I understand her point of view. I will give her book, The Death and Life of Great American Cities (1961), a read. I will also read the book about her, Wrestling with Moses (2009), by Anthony Flint.

I have arrived at supporting the current tunnel solution as replacement for the viaduct in much the same way Seattle City Councilmember Tim Bergess did.
But Burgess worries that the surface option will be destructive at the street level, especially to the businesses that rely on Highway 99 and waterfront access. Both blue-collar industry and tourism would be heavily disrupted during the construction and street rewiring process. The fear of the damage that disruption could do is shared by many tunnel backers. That's partly how the deep-bore tunnel became the kind of have-our-cake-and-eat-it-too solution: We keep the cars and trucks rolling out of sight and underground, and still have a new, Viaductless waterfront to make pretty. Expensive, yes, but in the passing Greg Nickels era, it was often claimed that the money could be found. It's only a billion extra (if we're lucky).
Read the rest here, at, What would Jane Jacobs do about the Viaduct?

On another front, last Thursday the Seattle Times played host the mayoral candidates, Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn.
There was, at one point, actual debate between the two opponents. That is a bit of a rarity, though both men appeared comfortable engaging in discussion that helped to contrast their views on solutions to the Alanan Way Viaduct.

When the questions turned to the political reality of McGinn's surface solution he did not really have a good argument. It appears that he is prepared to fight the Governor, the State Legislature, King County, and the majority of the Seattle City Council. If he could stop the tunnel project over the next couple years how would he get those people he just battled to support his surface solution. He said that leaders would do the "right" thing and get to work on the surface solution.
That just seams so unlikely, if he can stop the tunnel project there is no good reason for any of those other politicians to support his solution. We are talking about a State highway. The state will support a solution that supports its requirements.
It took eight years for a solution to be agreed to by all levels of government.
Here is a link to the video.
Joe Mallahan was successful at painting Mike McGinn as a fighter. Having a fighter as a mayor sounds great until you think about Greg Nickels reputation as a bully and his relationship with othe levels of Washington State government.
Fighting for and about everything is not leadership, according to Joe Mallahan. Mike McGinn did not effectively argue that was not his style or that fighting was the best method of leading change.
He accepted that he would be fighting and pretty much said that everybody else would just get over it. That is just stupid.
I support the active solution, and, I guess, Joe Mallahan.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, September 28, 2009

Gentrification is a bad word in Seattle, the other Seattle, if only that were the problem here

I do not see McGinn peddling his electric-assist bike up North Aurora, or Joe Mallahan standing on the overpass at 125th Street pontificating. There is no neighborhood romance to leverage into votes here.

There are no art galleries serving white wine, and no battles over street cars.

North Aurora in Seattle looks much worse than South Aurora in Shoreline. Same road, two different cities.

There are no battles to bring light rail stations, monorails, or pramanades. No tourist gift shops hawk cheesy totem pole t-shirts to cruise ship passengers here.
But this is still Seattle, paying Seattle taxes, isn't it?

Gentrification is a bad word in Seattle, the other Seattle, if only that were the problem.
Read the latest rerun of this story at the Seattle Times right here.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata (aka Dr. No) Proposes to drag his feet on the deep bore tunnel for up to 8 months!

Why does Nick Licata want to hold up the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct?
What is so important to him that delaying the entire project for up to eight months more is the best option?

Let's find out.

Urban Politics #280, 9/25/09

By City Councilmember Nick Licata


Today Mayor Greg Nickels presented his 2010 Proposed Budget to the City Council. One of the major elements accompanying his final budget is accompanying legislation to the Council requesting that we approve a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the State signing off on $787 million for the city’s obligations to fund projects related to the bored tunnel.

The Council is receiving this legislation eight months after he signed an agreement with the Governor and King County Executive. The Council is scheduled to take a week to evaluate his proposal and approve the MOA. The legislation will be introduced Monday and up for a vote Tuesday in the Transportation Committee, with a final vote expected the following Monday.

There is something wrong with this picture. Why rush to sign an agreement that is barely off the press? What is motivating this breakneck speed after no action for months? I fear that the public may get the impression that the current Mayoral election may have something to do with it. There is no clear reason for the City Council to bypass our budget deliberations.

Ok, let's insert some facts missing from Council Member Licata's memory. "Barely off the press" to Licata is months old.

The Washington State Legislature passed Senate Bill 5758.

Apr 24 Senate concurred in House amendments.
Passed final passage; yeas, 39; nays, 9; absent, 0; excused, 1. (View Roll Calls)
Apr 25 President signed.
Speaker signed.
Apr 26 Delivered to Governor. (View Bill as Passed Legislature)
May 12 Governor signed.
Chapter 458, 2009 Laws. (View Session Law)
Effective date 7/1/2009.

Remember something, anything, from back in April. How about something from the press? No, yes, maybe?
How about this?
On the May 27, 2009 edition of City Inside Out: Council Edition, Seattle City Councilmember Nick Licata, a longtime opponent of replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, said, "I've never been a big fan of the bored tunnel but if they are going to do it-this might be the best opportunity.".

What happened between May 27, 2009, and September 25, 2009?
The "best time" turned into "what's the rush".

Could it be... McGinn?

The city Transportation Subcommittee has been meeting regularly, as sub-committees do. Then they approve, or recommend action to the full council.

Nick Licata is not on the Transportation Sub-committee. He, like the rest of the council members not on this, or other committees, get recommendations all the time to review and consider for full council review and action. There is no rush, just grandstanding by a council member not part of the sub-committee, but fully aware of the impending requirement for council action to support its obligation to support the law passed nearly six months ago, and went into effect more than two months ago.

Back to Licata's statement:

The Council should act responsibly in considering legislation stating the City’s intent to enter into an agreement with the state and agreeing to fund $787 million in City projects as part of the bored tunnel project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The proposed budget includes $603 million, well short of full funding. It appears that over 80% of the cost of the public open space on the waterfront is not identified.

So, the council, that has been living with the law for a couple months, has sub-committee meetings on the viaduct replacement, needs to slow down because the "public open space on the waterfront " does not have funding. A major earthquake and much of viaduct will be "public open space on the waterfront " in a matter of seconds, it is sinking into the earth a little at a time, you can not delay gravity.

The "public open space on the waterfront " is a Seattle want. Ripping down the viaduct and replacing it with the already paid for tunnel is a need.
Offer an amendment to postpone acting on the "open space" until funding can be secure, offer that next week, if that really is your reason for wanting to delay the project, and I do not know it is, really. You flip-flopped from now is the time, to dragging it out.

It is hairsplitting grandstanding like this that you embrace as "responsible" footdragging, and then object when your opponent says that you have a reputation for obstruction. I wonder where she gets that from? Oh ya, from you.

Back to Licata's statement:

Voting two business days after receiving the Mayor’s funding proposal falls short of accountability standards we should be setting for ourselves. We have eight weeks to consider the Mayor’s budget; the MOA should grow out of that work, not precede it.

The mayor is restating what was reflected in the legislation from Spring, that went into law in Summer, and is now in the Mayor's budget proposal this Fall. This stuff is outlined in a brochure published last May, in color, with pictures. Seasons have passed, laws have passed, sub-committees have been meeting. Not enough time for Licata, for some reason.

And while Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata is sending out his press release stating that he wants to slow down, the Seattle City Council sends out its own press release stating that it is ready to move forward:Council set to solidify alignment with the state on Viaduct replacement
Transportation committee will vote on authorizing forward progress

SEATTLE - On Tuesday, Sept. 29 the Transportation Committee will review and discuss a Memorandum of Agreement between the Washington Department of Transportation and the city, which would authorize the parties to move forward with the Alaskan Way Viaduct Deep Bored Tunnel and Seawall replacement.

While the city, county and state have previously agreed on the deep bored tunnel alternative, this agreement marks the fourth in a series of contracts for the project. On Sept. 8 the Council approved three MOAs with the state, authorizing more than $480 million in state funds to be used for reconfiguration of the south portion of the Viaduct.

“This legislation is timely and appropriate,” said Jan Drago, Transportation Committee Chair. “The state and the city are continuing to make progress on the bored tunnel replacement and this is one of many pieces in that process. The legislation will prepare Council for necessary financial actions which we will address during budget deliberations, beginning next week.”

This agreement outlines the state and city’s responsibilities and provides a clear path for progress. It recognizes the necessity for all entities to work collaboratively toward completion.

"I'm pleased that Mayor Nickels and the Seattle City Council are moving forward with the State of Washington on this Memorandum of Agreement," said Gov. Chris Gregoire. "Replacing the Viaduct with a deep bored tunnel was a decision involving years of analysis, evaluation and deliberation to arrive at mutual agreement. We have no time to waste if we are to ensure the safety of our citizens and our future economic viability that relies heavily on our transportation systems."

“Our responsibility is to both provide safe, effective transportation solutions and to lay the foundation for a great urban waterfront for future generations,” said Council President Richard Conlin. “This legislation commits the city to continue working in partnership with the state to fulfill that commitment.”

Once discussed and voted on by the Transportation Committee, the proposed legislation would go before the Full Council for a vote, which is expected to occur on Oct. 5.

Hmm, the council is ready, Licata is not prepared to move forward.
And more Licata:

Seattle can be a good partner with the state by replacing the central seawall, establishing a promenade on the downtown waterfront, completing the Spokane Street Viaduct Project, and replacing utilities on the central waterfront. Signing an MOA with the State on these items is a reasonable step to take, but the Council should first determine how we are going to pay the bill. The Mayor has released only the vaguest of plans, including parking taxes, possibly increasing property taxes, and a new vehicle license fee.

Vaguest of plans?
This is how it is spelled out in the Mayors budget, and highlighted in the Seattle Times, dollar values, dates, potential sources.

The Council says that they are ready, are you part of the Council?

And more Licata:

In 2008 the City Auditor cautioned about beginning large capital projects without full funding in place. This agreement commits the City to a path to begin capital projects without telling the public how this full funding will occur; it goes against the spirit of the Auditor’s recommendations.

The state legislature required WSDOT to report back in January with a revised cost estimate for the bored tunnel (and prohibited awarding contracts before that), and whether $400 million can be raised from tolling. A 2002 study estimated $35 to $95 million could be raised. The legislature required cost overruns to be paid for by Seattle property owners. This agreement does not address this provision, and acting prematurely could place Seattle taxpayers at risk.

It’s time to do our homework.


Citizens are directed to the following website to complete a form to
send an email to the Mayor's Office.

When people send messages to people like themselves they say one thing, when they communicate to a wider group they pull back a little. Nick Licata's attempt to drag his feet on this project is built off the least significat details, nothing that should at this juncture hold up the project. So, why does he do shit like this?
Because that is who he is, champion of hairsplitting, and grandstanding off that public hairsplitting.

I do not have any good reason to endorse voting for Jesse Israel, and that is a shame.
I will actively endorse voting against Nick Licata.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mallahan changed mind on Mercer after Vulcan mind probe

Money talk, flip-flop, Mallahan is now supporting Mercer Street beautification project.

I am now an undecided voter.

Seattle Times story here.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Crosscut's David Brewster: The tone test for the mayor's race

I agree with David Brewster in comparison of tone of the two candidates for Mayor of Seattle. One is snarky, the other is B-O-R-I-N-G.

First, the context, here is the McGinn light rail proposal as reported in the Seattle Times (Seattle's only daily metro newspaper):
Mike McGinn pledged this morning to bring a plan before voters within two years to expand light rail to more neighborhoods within Seattle.

Neighborhoods that could be connected, he said: West Seattle, Ballard, Fremont, Queen Anne and Belltown.

"Seattle's values on these things just couldn't be clearer," McGinn said, at a news conference at the Columbia City light-rail station.

McGinn mentioned the possibility of funding the light-rail extensions with car-tab taxes, sales taxes or other taxes.

Sound Transit has a plan to ask voters in 2016 for neighborhood extensions, and a build-out to Everett and Tacoma. McGinn, though, is proposing to hold a Seattle vote sooner on light-rail within the city.
Seattle Times: Mike McGinn wants more light rail in Seattle, vote within two years

I have no idea how Mike McGinn, an attorney, will kill the deep bore tunnel, a state highway, and then go back to the state to get car-tab taxing authority (details, details). The legislature already loves Seattle, I am sure killing the tunnel, and then demand tax authority to make the tunnel's death possible is exactly what the state really wants to have happen, or not.

Anyway, back to David Brewster's point on tone.
Today's [9/16/2009] example was a tiff over a proposal from Mike McGinn for hurry-up transit to the unserved neighborhoods. Joe Mallahan riposted quickly:
“Light rail is a critical service that not only gets people out of their cars and off the roads, moving more quickly, but also promotes economic development along its lines. We need more mass transit investments but light rail is a regional transportation system and all additions need to be integrated into our existing transit network.

“When someone proposes a plan of this size, the responsible thing to do is let voters know how much it will cost and how he’s going to pay for it. Mike McGinn won’t be honest with voters about how much his proposal will cost and suggests putting this haphazard measure on the ballot the same year Seattle’s Family and Education Levy is up for renewal. I think the last thing we should do is pit kids against mass transit solutions.

“Voters approved a Sound Transit package last year that included studies for expanding mass transit options in other parts of the city. I will advocate for expediting those plans and work with Sound Transit to move forward in a responsible manner.”

To which McGinn quickly returned fire:
"In his response criticizing my light rail expansion proposal, Joe Mallahan made the accusation that we would be pitting 'kids against transit.'

"Mr. Mallahan's comment is uninformed. Seattle voters routinely pass multiple measures on the same ballot. Two recent examples include:

"Nov. 2008 - Seattle voters passed the Parks Levy (59% Yes), the Pike Place Market Levy (61% Yes) and Sound Transit 2 (70% yes in Seattle) at the same time with large majorities.

"Nov. 2006 - Seattle voters passed the Bridging the Gap Levy (53% Yes) plus King County's Transit Now (69% Yes in Seattle).

"My question for Mr. Mallahan is would he vote for a good light rail package and an education measure if they were on the same ballot?

"I also find it somewhat ironic that Mr. Mallahan is trying to raise concern about the Families and Education Levy (passed with a 62% Yes vote) as an excuse to not move forward on light rail. County voting records indicate that Mr. Mallahan has missed ten important elections since he moved to Seattle nine years ago including the last Families and Education Levy in 2004."

The difference in tone is apparent, with McGinn heavier on the sarcasm and the gratuitous insults, as well as the punchy data. This lawyer knows how to address a jury and score points. Mallahan, meanwhile, is trying (aided by his grave tone) to plant in voters' minds that McGinn is flaky, a sound-bite politician versus the stay-with-the-program manner of Steady Joe. If McGinn risks getting whistled for low blows, Mallahan flirts with B-O-R-I-N-G.

Underlying this positioning is the question whether voters, stunned by the Town Hell events and "You lie!" taunts, will find McGinn's snarky manner off-putting or refreshing.
Crosscut's David Brewster: The tone test for the mayor's race

Mr. Brewster is right, message intent projects a tone. That tone is a product of the person, and how they express their ideas.

McGinn put the light rail idea out there as if we have to go it alone, like the monorail, and streetcars (not that we have to, but his message form could imply it).
McGinn compares the publics willingness to vote for $149 million for parks with a new light rail vote of 10x the tax cost is a bit of a reach. Comparing people voting for parks or even the the Seattle Library vote ten years ago, that spreads the pain and gain all over the city, is simply not the same as a multi-jurisdiction vote for Sound Transit light rail (ST). The project's larger scale spreads the pain and gain broader. Many hands make light (rail) work.

What I think most people in Seattle want to avoid are mass transit projects that can be compared with the failed monorail, $130 car tabs for nothing is still in living memory for the vast majority of citizens. While I am at here, the monorail mode of transportation is tainted with civic failure, and will take more time to pass before revisiting more monorail as anything more than an aspiration.

There is a point where too much tax is just that, concentrating too much gain, or pain, is unacceptable on its face. Proposing to vote on a formless and expensive proposal in two years is a socially dumb proposal, no matter how good the idea is behind it.

McGinn's proposal does look a little flaky, flacky, or simplistic. He put the idea out there as a proposal (to have a vote in two years). Proposal messages demand a finer level of information than aspirations. It has been my experience that proposals that demand money are expected by the person getting the message to have finite facts with which to agree to a reasonable solution with.

You can see the lack of specitivity in how people, in general, react (such as Mr. Brewster's story referenced above). 10% unemployment will have that effect on the masses. Call it mass transit consumer confidence, if you like.

This messaging failure could also say that McGinn is out of touch with the maturity of his broader message, or with the depth of understanding of the transportation issues with the masses. This is not a transportation wonktocracy.

My simple advice for Mike McGinn is to propose things that happen in the future in more open terms; civic aspiration, and an alternative idea to stopping the tunnel, should have been that message.

Joe Mallahan's response was spot-on, but uninspiring. In Mallahan's transportation messaging, and his direct response to McGinn's proposal, he has to express the broader ST transportation message, couched in perspective that would directly benefit McGinn's proposal. More simply, reduce McGinn to a subject matter expert voicing a poorly formed proposal. Mallahan should have taken the proposal's positive attributes and placed them into broader policy, being the policy maker. That's what a mayor does do, after all.

Mr. Mallahan's response was to fight the rough edges of McGinn's slightly ham-handed proposal, it should have been aspirational, placed into the ST context of win-win pain-gain spreading. Place the idea in the appropriate broader scale. For a guy espousing project management skills he, quite frankly, choked on that answer. Project management is the discipline of planning, organizing, and managing resources to bring about the successful completion of specific project goals and objectives.. The resources are tax payers that need meaningful transportation solutions. The project scope is big, and pitting it against resources for children, as Mallahan did, failed to provide a right-sized policy solution.

The more inspiring massage both missed was that by working with ST the western parts of Seattle could, and should, start thinking about light rail in ways that Bellevue and Redmond currently are. In Two years we should know where we want to have light rail progress in Seattle, and what it will take to make that happen for the citizens of Seattle.

There, a little ST, mention the broader ST idea, how do we fit in and play along, and an aspiration for Seattle.
Realistic and inclusive aspirations are what this election, and many others, are about.
Honestly, it is not that hard to express the direction you want to go in open terms that are inclusive and realistic to the broadest number of voters.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Tunnel, or Surface option? Eventually it could be both

In today's Seattle Times Mike Lindblom has written a story on mayoral candidate Mike McGinn's proposal to shelve the tunnel as the replacement for the aged Alaska Way Viaduct and go with a less expensive surface and transit option. The surface option would include increasing throughput on Interstate 5, a boulevard to replace the viaduct, and an increase in mass transit.

The good news is that McGinn's alterative would be cheaper, the bad news is that it will not be enough capacity.
The tunnel is a more expensive idea, it includes having vehicle traffic that is passing through Seattle not mixing with the local surface traffic. The good news is that seperating that traffic will help that some, the bad news is that it will not be enough capacity, either.

Skim through Washington State Office of Financial Management data here and it becomes pretty clear that Seattle is not absorbing as much population as the rest of King County, and King County is growing.
The facts are that people keep moving to King County, and to Seattle. King County increased by about 13% over the past 9 years, Seattle about 6.8%.

Over the lifespan of either option, surface, or tunnel, more capacity will be required, the question is moot.

McGinn scenario

MIKE McGINN would seek to move $2.4 billion in state highway funds to a "surface transit" plan instead of a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

Alaskan Way/waterfront: Demolish viaduct, rebuild surface road similar to present width, mostly four lanes, $825 million.

Interstate-5 widening: Eliminate left-side offramps to fit an additional lane through downtown, make other improvements, $553 million.

Utility relocation: Paid by the state instead of the city, $250 million.

Sea-wall replacement: Paid by the state instead of the city, $255 million.

Transit: Cost savings applied to buy new buses and increase service in waterfront and other areas, $500 million.

Source: McGinn campaign

Read about the strawman debate here, in the Seattle Times Newspaper: McGinn's no-tunnel campaign counts on fewer cars

Build the Tunnel, and make all of the surface improvements, and the increase in mass transit, and the bike lanes, and the sidewalks, and a million people will come to King County and Seattle, no matter what.

Do it all, start with the throughput tunnel first.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Is having endorsers remorse?, the online mostly political newsy web site, back on August 3, 2008, endorsed Mike McGinn for Mayor of Seattle in the Primary Election.

Why did they like Mike a month ago?
In order, McGinn’s follow-up acts included: 1) Starting an urbanist nonprofit called the Seattle Great City Initiative, which, among other things, helped nudge the city council to pass the legislation requiring the city to add bike and pedestrian facilities whenever it tears up city streets. . . Endorses, Mike McGinn

There was more, feel free to follow the link, but the #1 was getting taxpayers to pay for improvements in and around private investments. How green of him.

Today, Erica Barnett has written a story to inform the Mike McGinn Kool-aid drinkers where Mike McGinn got support for Publicola's #1 reason for endorsing him.
So it may come as a surprise to some of his idealistic supporters that the group that financed McGinn’s Great City—in addition to environmental groups like the Cascade Bicycle Club and the Bullitt Foundation—includes many of the city’s biggest developers, law firms, and builders.
. . .
the group has posted a list of the companies and organizations themselves that funded the group’s creation.
. . .
The most prominent company on the list  is Vulcan, Paul Allen’s South Lake Union development firm. Although McGinn wouldn’t say specifically how much Vulcan had contributed to Great City, he does concede that the developer is among the organization’s top two or three contributors, along with Bullitt and the Land Conservancy.

McGinn Group Funded by Seattle’s Biz Establishment
BY ERICA C. BARNETT, 09/11/2009, 3:11 PM

The story got a shout-out from SeattleWeekly's Mark Fefer:
Where exactly is the surprise in the fact that real estate developers like Vulcan and Harbor Properties, and the architects they employ, are supportive of a group like Great City that's all about creating amenities for more density? Why wouldn't they like a group that led the charge in 2008 to get Seattle voters to put up $145 million in taxpayer money to fix up parks near the developers' condos and apartments?
News Flash From Publicola: Developers Like Density and Taxpayer-Funded Parks".

So, do not ask how and why Mike McGinn can oppose a tunnel replacement for the Alaska Way Viaduct, but be for the $290 million dollar reworking of the "Mercer mess" that does next to nothing to improve traffic (that IS the mess). It sure does look good in the middle of Paul Allen's Vulcan investment and development in the South Lake Union area (this for that?).

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

Seattle Times: Mayor candidates oppose 1st Avenue streetcar

I selected both Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn for Mayor of Seattle in the Primary (that is the function of the Primary). Both candidates projected ideas and ideals centering on the citizens that actually live here, and work here.
The Nickels administration, as well as prior administrations, focused on downtown investments. That preoccupation can only go on for so long before the people that actually live here notice.
Every mass transit idea thought of by city government has gone into downtown. If you place the maps of the streetcar, metro transit, trolley, light rail, mono rail, sidewalk and street improvement, on the same map the consentration of lines is downtown and vanish as you leave downtown to the residential neighborhoods. We've noticed, and so have the mayoral candidates.

We have something in common:
Seattle mayoral candidates Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn both said in recent interviews that they oppose a streetcar on First Avenue -- a 2.5-mile line that outgoing Mayor Greg Nickels included in last winter's agreement to build a highway tunnel, Sodo interchange, seawall, promenade and related items for $4.2 billion.

$130 for a streetcar to placed on an existing street (that has sidewalks) where a bus runs. Adding a bus might be a little less expensive.
McGinn said the first priority is to protect Metro bus service from recession-related service cuts, not build a streetcar.

He is seeking to halt the state's tunnel plan, and subsitute "surface-transit improvements," including work on Interstate 5, within the $2.4 billion state lawmakers already earmarked for viaduct replacement -- so there would be no city tax increases, he says. (One problem: the state Constitution requires state gas taxes to go toward highways.)

Streetcars are simply inefficient, Mallahan argued. "It is redundant to Metro bus service. Third Avenue [limited to buses and bicycles at peak times] is only two blocks away," he said.

On this matter I am not able to choose one candidate over another, but both candidates over Nickels and Drago in the Primary.

Mallahan added that he would study and maybe oppose Sound Transit's future streetcar across First Hill and Capitol Hill -- even though it's funded by last fall's voter-approved Proposition 1. The line is Sound Transit's consolation prize to one of the state's most populated neighborhoods, after rising costs forced the transit board to cancel a First Hill light-rail station promised to voters back in 1996.

Not long ago, streetcar fever gripped the City Council, which voted 6-3 in December to endorse lines reaching Ballard, the University District, South Jackson Street and the Seattle Center-First Avenue corridor --- in addition to the existing South Lake Union and voter-approved First Hill lines.

. . .
She [Jan Drago] also said the First Avenue line still makes "immense sense" because it can connect the SLU streetcar (which could be extended to First and Stewart) and the First Hill streetcar (next to the International District/Chinatown light-rail stop).

This was Jan Drago's mass transit "contribution" for the deep bore tunnel replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.
The "multi-modal" transportation mish-mash that just dumps cash downtown, and has people standing around transferring from one mode to the next is an expensive mess. Combining wait-transer times with the actual travel time and it is no big shock that many people outside of downtown still NEED cars, and yet, I am paying for all of those transportation "solutions".

Read the linked story.
Seattle Times: Mayor candidates oppose 1st Avenue streetcar

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Seattle Times: Ed Murray won't run for Seattle mayor

The following message was released by State Senator Ed Murray (D - 43):

While I am deeply concerned for the future of our city and Michael and I are honored to have been approached by so many people and organizations we admire and respect, I am also a realist: write-in campaigns are extremely difficult, and time is short. Also, the recognition yesterday that Referendum 71 will appear on the fall ballot galvanized my decision.
I considered a write in campaign because I was concerned that one candidate wanted to reopen a fight with the state when we need to work together. The other candidate who seeks to become our civic leader has failed to engage in civic activities including on the most basic level, voting, something Americans in the south have died for in our lifetime.

I considered running because I believe Seattle is greater than the selfish conversation in the Mayor's race. Missing are issues and leadership on social justice. Issues of poverty and civil rights. This campaign to date has been about one bridge and one neighborhood. Issues such as our schools, neighborhoods and diversity are missing from this debate.

I urge the candidates to broaden their messages and address the critical issues facing our city and look forward to working with one of them as our next mayor.
From the Seattle Times

I would have voted for him. Now, it is back to a hairsplitting followed by a coin-flip, with Joe Mallahan and Mike McGinn.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Reality Killed the Radio Star

The days of writing down what you listened to, or hoped to listen to, or want to promote as a formate, are done. The methods of identifying and measuring its data has changed, for the better. The old method was an asparational log/booklet that listeners would write down what the wanted the ratings to be. Now, those that take a survey wear a sensor that detect the actual radio frequency you are around.

This new method is not perfect, I would argue that the measurement taken is the maximum potential listening time. If you have ever turned down the sound because of a telephone call, or a knock at your door, then you prove my point.
Have you ever left your radio on and then vaccuumed your carpet, or mowed your lawn, or left the room where the radio is to go to a different room to do housework for 15, or 20 minutes?
I know I have.

What I think is interesting is the reality of what people really are listening to, and that is not talk radio, not to the same degree once believed.
For nearly two decades the flawed diary method indicated that talk radio was a much more popular format than it might not have been. We do not really know what the real ratings were, and to some degree we can forgive the media hyping the importance of a format because they thought the popularity of the format was something more, something worth reporting on and paying more attention to by other media.

I hope you click the link at the bottom of the quote and read the full story.

The change might not be in people's listening habits at all. Arbitron switched from its old-fashioned diary method to an electronic way of finding out who was listening to what, and when.

It used to be that survey participants had to remember their listening habits. This led to obvious inaccuracies, as people guessed and fudged. They sometimes wrote down that they listened to a station all morning when they actually were switching around. Maybe they didn't like a particular song, or something a disc jockey said, or just got bored with whatever was on.

But now that the Portable People Meters, known as a PPMs, which can be worn like a pager, are around to monitor the airwave signals instead, the fudging is gone.

In the old days of diaries, somebody could be a fan of particular talk show, and write down that five days a week, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., he was listening to that station, says Mark O'Neill, one of the founders of ROI Media Solutions in Los Angeles. He's a media consultant doing PPM consulting these days, although not in Seattle.

That method didn't reflect reality, he says.

"Not even the talk-show host's mother could listen that long to it," O'Neill says.

Monson also acknowledges the old diary system was flawed, "and it said I was the top talk show in town for 12 years. It's a new set of rules and I have to figure out how to prevail under the new set of rules."

Read the full story here, Seattle Times Newspaper: Arbitron now uses meter to measure radio listening

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Catty, borderline tacky, that is the “charm” of

Sometimes the news is just the news, sometimes it is an editorial, and sometimes it is both. In the case of Publicola sometimes just the facts might not be enough.

So, last night from the "Publicla: Seattle's News Elixir" there was a report on another online publication, For the most part this is a report of news, with some historical background information, and then it looks to me that there is some editorializing. I have set in bold where I think the news reporting stopped, and the characterization drifted into editorializing clouded in an unidentified source called "some". I don't know, maybe a Journalist can explain this to me, and correct me where I am wrong. Help, please, oh great and wise Journalists. Is this Journalism, a mycterismus, or both?

In the home page of Sandeep Kaushik has the title of "Spiritual Adviser, Guitars". Inserted into his "Spiritual" advising Mr. Kaushik drifts into an assertion attributed to "some". Is this the "Elixir" part of Publicola's motto?
How refreshing it is to have "some" as a source of derisive comments, uh, news (I don't know).

Now, we do not know who "some" are, maybe "some" had their work get poor reviews at, or maybe "some" are writers at that do not have the heart to tell Publisher David Brewster that what they are writing is "overly dry and self-consciously upper-middlebrow to the point of borderline snobbery, though the site’s worship of intellectual detachment and penchant for discursive musings", or maybe some other nameless, faceless, "some in the local journalism". Who knows?

Gates Foundation Rides to the Rescue: Crosscut Gets $100,000 Gift.
BY SANDEEP, 08/28/2009, 6:53 PM

Back in March of this year PubliCola reported that people close to, a bastion of high-minded civic commentary, were saying privately that the site might be on its last legs. Founded by David Brewster, who founded the Seattle Weekly in the 1970s and more recently Town Hall, Crosscut was conceived in 2006 in Brewster’s own image as a haven for "independent, bipartisan, ’solutionist’ politics" and analysis, as an FAQ provided on the site puts it. The site quickly emerged as a home base for Brewster’s circle of friends and acquaintances in the old school Seattle commentariat, including former Weekly editor and self-described "Mossback" Knute Berger, former Hubert Humphrey aide Ted Van Dyk, and former King Broadcasting CEO Steve Clifford. Former P-I columnist Jean Godden (now on the City Council) has contributed occasionally, as has former WSDOT director Doug MacDonald.

Initially intended as a for-profit venture, the site is privately criticized by some in the local journalism world as overly dry and self-consciously upper-middlebrow to the point of borderline snobbery, though the site’s worship of intellectual detachment and penchant for discursive musings—heavy on context, relatively light on news—has also won it a core of dedicated readers, mostly among the over-50 set.

In any event, Brewster’s solutionist politics turned out to be something of a buzzkill when it came to advertising sales, and the site rapidly burned through several hundred thousand dollars in seed capital drawn from monied Old Seattle benefactors.

By this May the Seattle Weekly (long since sold by Brewster, and currently owned by the nation’s largest alt-weekly chain, Village Voice Media) was also picking up indications of trouble, reporting that Crosscut was having difficulties paying its freelance writers. Brewster, however, was undeterred, hinting at the possibility of better days to come in an e-mail to his contributors. "I’m waiting for a decision on a lead gift that would really launch us, so I hope I can send good news and catch up with past-dues. Thank you very much for staking me and Crosscut," Brewster wrote.

He is waiting no longer. Indeed, happy days are here again for Crosscut; solutionist politics may not have won over many advertisers, but it apparently strokes the intellectual erogenous zones of program officers at major philanthropic foundations. According to two knowledgeable sources, Crosscut, now refashioned as a non-profit venture, is about to receive a $100,000 grant from the Gates Foundation (the Seattle Foundation is also involved) that will ensure the stie’s continued survival for some time to come.

Though the grant is still being finalized, new signs of life at Crosscut are already apparent. As Josh reported a few days ago, Mark Matassa, a talented former Seattle Times , P-I , and Los Angeles Times editor, will be joining Crosscut on September 15 as deputy editor, a half-time position. (Matassa has been a member of PubliCola’s advisory board—not a paid gig—but is now stepping down to take the Crosscut gig; he was not a source for this post).

What other changes the new funding will bring remain to be seen. In response to an inquiry about the new Gates Foundation funding and its implications for the site, Brewster politely declined comment. “I have nothing to announce at this point,” he wrote in an e-mail.

Ok, that must be Journalism. I read Publicola, Crosscut, most of the other stuff I have feeding my little blog. Sure, I give my opinion on my personal blog, here, and I am not passing it off as News or Journalism. I am writing to remember, and refine my fleeting thoughts, and give my opinion. I am not qualified by training or experience as a Journalist. I have been writin' 'n stuff, for a couple years, n' such (and have a BA in Communication). So, forgive me if I do not always recognize Journalism when I see it.

Hey, did Sandeep Kaushik mention that was not much more than a spin-off of until a private investor dumped a pile of money into it?
Huh, that's weird.

So, "some" readers of the story took issue with the manor of characterization of, Lucky for "some" the writer responded with an explanation of his views of

10. Sandeep says:
To be clear about a couple of things:

I do think David Brewster is a talented guy, who has done a lot to add to the civic discourse in Seattle. I come from a pretty upper-middlebrow background myself — spent a lot of time in graduate school working on a history Ph.D. I never finished — so I am sympathetic to efforts to elevate (and intellectualize) the discourse. And I like him personally.

Second, I think the Gates grant is great news. I’m glad to see that Crosscut will survive. We need more media choices in this town, not fewer. Also, there has been a lot of talk in the journalism world about how the old advertising based model is irreparably broken, and great hope has been pinned non-profit public interest journalism filling the void. But aside from a handful of much-hyped examples, I haven’t seen much evidence that such a model is viable. So David’s success in finding foundation support is notwworthy — and a feather in his cap.

The criticisms expressed in the post above is stuff that one hears pretty commonly in local journalism and civic circles about Crosscut. Not to say that those perceptions are anything close to universal — Crosscut has its share of fans as well. Perhaps not surprisingly, the public radio/public tv crowd appear to be big supporters. Steve Scher, the host of KUOW’s “Weekday” comes to mind — he’s even written several pieces for the site.

And I like Crosscut better than some of its critics do. Brewster’s work is often insightful, though I think marred at times by his reliance on the off the record conversations with a relatively narrow range of older Seattle voices. I don’t agree with Skip Berger on much — I don’t mourn the loss of some ugly-ass building Ballard that housed a Denny’s, so much as I mourn the loss of a Denny’s in Ballard — but I also think he’s smart, prolific, informed, full of ideas and a talented writer. Some of the coverage on Crosscut has been excellent; for instance, former Wall Street Journal reporter Bill Richards’ reporting on the Seattle Times’ finances. Austin Jenkins, the Olympia correspondent for public radio, has contributed some solid work as well.

But in my estimation there hasn’t been enough news content on the site. I do think Crosscut would benefit greatly from more original reporting, and less bloviating from the Friends of David. The hiring of Matassa may be an indication that David agrees.

One final criticism of Crosscut: the site would benefit from being more transparent about its funders and other benefactors. So far as I know, David has never revealed who sits on his board, for instance. Here at PubliCola we’ve tried to be transparent about how we operate, where we get our money and how we deal with conflicts. I’m not at all concerned to see that a foundation is funding a media site, so long as that is openly disclosed. Every media site is open to criticism about its revenue sources abd its potential conflicts — its not like all of the Seattle Times’ rules and protestations of ethical rigor protects the paper from widespread public suspicions of the Blethens’ influence over the thrust of their news coverage. Now that Crosscut has moved to non-profit status, I think we’ll see more transparency — I suspect David will have more to say about the changes to his site once the Gates grant is finalized.

Sandeep says: To be clear about a couple of things:

Gosh, thanks for clearing that all up. I thought for a second "some" were random media people milling about outside of your house. Turns out, "some" might just might include Sandeep Kaushik.

I guess the answer to my question: Is this Journalism, a mycterismus, or both? might be both.

Don't get me wrong, I am happy for both online publications, that they have funding to keep doing that. They have to make a living somehow. I do not know, I am no Journalist.