Friday, July 31, 2009

The Stranger: Primary Endorsements for Mayor of Seattle - Mike McGinn

Publicola and the SeattleWeekly have not yet publish the names of people that fit their opinions (that is what it is).

So, Seattle Times - Nckels and Mallahan
The Stranger - McGinn
Muni League - Mallahan
Friends of Seattle (are they Astroturf?) - McGinn

Notice a pattern? How about the absense of Drago, Donaldson, Sigler, Garrett, and Campbell? 2009 primary endorsements

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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The Seattle Times recommends: Nickels, Mallahan top so-so field in Seattle mayor's race

The McGinn supporters are going to be as upset as they had anticipated they would be by the Seattle Times endorsement.

Seattle Times endorsement

Friends of Seattle endorsed Mike McGinn.
I then dropped out of the FoS Facebook group, not because of the endorsement, I endorsed McGinn and Mallahan. FoS has an AstroTurf feel to it. If they are, or not, is not the point.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I endorse for Seattle City Council Position 6: Marty Kaplan and Jessie Israel

Marty Kaplan for City Council: Putting Our Ideals Into Action
Marty Kaplan's voter pamphlet page.

And, Jessie Israel: (no slagan, so, I'll make one up) It's time for a new vision
Jessie Israel's voter pamphlet page.

Have a great Weekend,
Mike Baker

Saturday, July 25, 2009

I endorse Mallahan and McGinn for Mayoral Primary

I endorse Mallahan and McGinn as the top two for Mayor of Seattle.
There, I said it.

Rather than send individual emails out, here is why I endorse two candidates for a primary; that is the function of the primary, to pick the top two. It is also a nice trick of presenting readers with a false sense of choice. I could live with either candidate, and by limiting the list to two you may reject all the others and vote for either of the two people on my primary list.

In the case of Mallahan and McGinn (as well as Hunter and Jarrett) I am compelled to say that I think the top two candidates should do one of two impossible things:

Job Share - they switch off at lunch time, both working 20 hours a week (yes, impossible, AND a good idea).
Fusion the characters like in the video game (I have to trust my son here) Dragon Z
Namekian Fusion: This fusion is exclusively for Namek's. First, one Namek places his hand on the other, then ki is concentrated and the fusion begins to take place. The Namek's have the ability to choose which of the two bodies they want to use. The resulting warrior is much stronger than either warrior alone. If by chance the two warriors fusing were once one being and parted for whatever reasons, the Fusion becomes twice as powerful.

Since job sharing and Fusion are out, I will pick one candidate to endorse after the primary election is over.

Mallahan's Muni rating makes sense to Erica Barnett at Publicola. But that is not a rating of their policy choices.

So, read about them here:
See the City Club Mayoral "debate" here.

Joe Mallahan's voter pamphlet page.
Mike McGinn's voter pamphlet page.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Seattle Times Editorial Board: Ross Hunter and Fred Jarrett endorsed for King County executive

I agree with the Seattle Times and endorse for King County Executive: Ross Hunter and Fred Jarrett as the top two primary candidates.

I do not have anything against these fine candidates, including Stan Lippmann ( . . . limit the size of a Congressional District to 50,000). Good luck with that, Mr. Lippman.

I just could not vote for all of them, or even most of them.

Larry Phillips - no, has been living the problem, has been endorsed by some of the problem.

Fred Jarrett - yes, has had to live with the county problems as a State Senator, he knows what he is getting into and is still willing to do it.

Stan Lippmann - no

Alan Lobdell - no

Susan Hutchison - no, raising money for a non-profit by taxing patrons more is not the experience I am looking for right now.

Dow Constantine - no, has been living the problem, has been endorsed by some of the problem.

Ross Hunter - yes, has had to live with the county problems as a State Representitive, he knows what he is getting into and is still willing to do it.

Goodspaceguy - no

THE sky is falling on King County government. The budget is unsustainable. The task of delivering services grows more challenging by the day.
For the first time since the current county government was created, no incumbent is seeking re-election as executive, creating enormous opportunity for change. Of several quality candidates seeking the job, two stand out ahead of the others, state Rep. Ross Hunter and state Sen. Fred Jarrett. Both are endorsed with equal enthusiasm.
. . .

Jarrett and Hunter are thoughtful and prepared — ready to make difficult changes in areas where the budget is imploding. Vote confidently for Jarrett or Hunter for county executive.

Read the full endorsement here, from: Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Seattle Times: Drago tries to distance herself from Nickels

Publicola had a live blog during the City Club's mayoral debate last night. It is an interesting look into journalistic preferences.

Here is mine: Jan Drago is Greg Nickels' runningmate. She can say whatever she wants, but she has been on the city council for 16 years, 8 of that was clasping hands with Greg Nickels.

Her only major endorsement — from the Alki Foundation — is shared with Nickels. Democratic districts have rejected her as an insider. The Stranger alternative newspaper featured a drawing of Nickels last week, and to capture Drago's likeness, the artist used the same drawing — with a bow in its hair.

Her opponents have seized on it.

"She brings some different dynamics and different elements into the race (in that) she's seen as being another longtime incumbent," said former Sonic James Donaldson, the candidate who in some polls is tied with Drago for third place.

Drago (pronounced DRAH-go) has been elected four times to the City Council, serving 16 years. She has been Nickels' ally on major initiatives. If the two disagreed in public, it was often over who should get credit for a project they worked on together.

Drago said she and the mayor worked together "because it takes a mayor and a council working together to make the big accomplishments on projects."
Read the rest of the story, Seattle Times: Drago tries to distance herself from Nickels

As for Donaldson . . .
The thinning of the pack has Nickels, Drago, and now Donaldson out of the running for my vote.

James Donaldson, the former Seattle Sonic, is the only candidate [for Mayor of Seattle] who is against using tax money to refurbish KeyArena to hopefully lure another NBA team to town. Also, Drago was the only candidate to say she was against electing City Council members by district instead of the current system of city-wide elections. Seattle mayoral debate highlights

I kind of knew this, he said it about a year ago on KJR, and I had to guess he was either thinking that the entire time, or was awash in the loss of the franchise, now you know, and so do I.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, July 20, 2009 Internet Killed the Radio Star

There is a well written story at about the remediation of broadcast radio.

If anyone truly believes the future in commercial broadcast radio as more than a niche market has a lifespan of more than a few years, I expect they are 40 years or older, live in an area with poor broadband coverage, or have never heard of this thing called the iPhone. Mobile radio—using devices like the iPhone to listen to Internet radio—is going to kill standard commercial formats.  It may also bring new life to non-corporate formats like indie, college, alternative, and public radio broadcasters.

Read the rest of Internet Killed the Radio Star
BY GLENN FLEISHMAN, 07/20/2009, 11:09 AM

I had written similar things in a class paper last year. I thought a lot about this when I first got my iPhone, and finishing my COM degree.

I felt like an alien, attempting to descibe this other planet, where the radio is turned inside out, flattened, like the newspaper industry.

Technology will catch tv in short order.
Information is not the commodity anymore, connecting is.

The only "problem" with the story was not what was written, but that I had to read it. Let me explain a further idea by the process of connecting and consuming information in the world of tomorrow.

1. I have a blog (this) that pulls in headlines in an RSS feed from a variety of news and information sources.
2. I read (see) a headline that I think may be interesting, so I click on the link.
3. I read (see) the story and gain something from it.
4. I do something with the information that you can read (see).

See the problem?
Try driving while doing those steps (don't, it is against law and common sense).
When Apple upgraded the software to the 3.0 version it brought a few features. One feature was a Voice Control, you say "play some music" and that is what happens. Adding cut/copy/paste to the iPhone was nice, but many years ago Apple had/has a text-to-speech engine on its computers.
Stay with me here.
There is a neat little application that you can download to your Mac that converts text-to-speech as an audio file, iSpeak it I could import the converted file to my iTunes play list and play the static file, maybe a book, on my iPhone.
That is just not good enough, and ubiquity begs the question: where is the "streaming" text-to-speech? Why, oh why, isn't the device reading my email, Facebook Friend status, tweets, news headlines, to me while I drive?
Doesn't my new iPhone have as much computing power as my old PowerPC 6100/AV?
Well, maybe that sounds like a strange thing to want to have, to have my phone read the latest breaking news from the New York Times to me while I drive home from work. Do I listen to broadcast radio, Internet radio streaming, or a text source speak to me, anywhere I go, everywhere I go?
I think that is a killer ap for the news "paper" business, and journalism.
1. Voice Control: Safari, read headlines. My phone reads headlines and "listens" for a command to "follow link", or "read story", and that is what it does.
2. Voice Control: mail, read subjects, the phone reads the subject lines and who it is from (including the email address), and listens for read/delete/forward to commands.
3. Voice Control: read book by H.G. Wells, The Time Machine.

I am sure there would be a better solution, application, to bridge streaming text sources to mobile audio devices as streaming audio.

What is a radio, anyway?
ra⋅di⋅o  [rey-dee-oh] Show IPA noun, plural -di⋅os, adjective, verb, -di⋅oed, -di⋅o⋅ing.
Use Radio in a Sentence
1. wireless telegraphy or telephony: speeches broadcast by radio.
2. an apparatus for receiving or transmitting radio broadcasts.
3. a message transmitted by radio.

ok, let's call it all radio.
Sure, having text items spoken to me in the Apple computer voice of Agnes, or Alex, while driving or walking around would be a little strange. I have had Agnes read many of my term papers back to me (it actually helps), but the mobility of text is bound by its medium.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Friday, July 17, 2009

They said no "new" taxes

A little hair has been split over funding for King County arts, heritage programs, and Seattle Center by all five of the candidates for King County Executive. No new taxes!

The five major candidates for King County executive agree on one thing.

No new taxes.

Not to mitigate looming huge cuts to health and human services, and to public safety, and not for a new arena to lure an NBA team to replace the Seattle Sonics.

The candidates - County Councilman Dow Constantine, state Rep. Ross Hunter, former broadcaster Susan Hutchison, state Sen. Fred Jarrett and County Councilman Larry Phillips - all gathered Thursday in Bellevue for a City Club forum.

Read Exec candidates: No taxes for NBA arena or anything else right here.

No "new" taxes for King County and Seattle Center is a big NO!
But existing taxes, tourist taxes, for youth athletic fields, heritage centers, arts, some to health and human services and affordable housing near transit centers?
Oh ya, that has lips sweeter than wine.

Dow Constantine and Ross Hunter both testified supporting Senate Bill 6116 to the State Senate Ways & Means Committee in March. That was the use of "existing" non-general fund "tourist taxes" collected within King County for county stuff and within Seattle for Seattle Center.

Maybe all of those County Executives should be asked if they support existing tourist taxes for the stuff listed in SB6116? If a Special Session is called by the legislature in October would they support bringing a revised SB6116 to a vote?

I know arts has a one year bandaid from the Feds, but the Heritage institutions get shorted on stimulus funds, and a long term solution was not provided by Frank Chopp.
That is the only likely source of funding for King County that does not dig into their general fund.

March 19, 2009
Constantine promotes jobs, tourism in Olympia

Testified Wednesday to Senate Ways and Means Committee

Metropolitan King County Council Chair Dow Constantine addressed legislators yesterday in Olympia in support of a bill that would allow King County to redirect existing visitor taxes to tourist promotion, arts and heritage centers, and other community development programs.

“Supporting arts, cultural and heritage programs in our communities is extremely important,” said Constantine. “People travel from other states and other countries for the symphony and the opera, for art exhibits and rock & roll shows. Visitors' hotel, restaurant, and retail dollars are critical to our state and local economy.”

Additionally, SB 6116 could fund low-income housing, regional centers and publicly owned stadiums or arenas. The bill would direct revenue currently being used to pay off the bonds for construction of Qwest and Safeco Fields to these new programs once the stadium debts are retired.

Studies show the strong relationship between tourism, arts and the economy. One study indicates travel and tourism is the third leading retail sector in the country, creating more than 8 million jobs. Visitors to historic sites and cultural attractions stay longer and spend more money than passive tourists.

“People are hurting, and King County and the state face continuing budget shortfalls, so now is the time to invest in programs that preserve jobs, generate revenue and support economic development,” added Constantine.

SB 6116 is sponsored by Senator Ed Murray (D-43) and Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36).
Link to: Constantine promotes jobs, tourism in Olympia

The rest of the county wanted to target those tourist taxes to arts, heritage, and a short term support to health and human services.
The cougs killed the addition of Husky stadium, that revenue IMO should go toward high density housing and infrastructure near the new light rail stations.

Senate Bill 6116

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Monday, July 13, 2009

The SeattleWeekly, Daily Weekly: Up Close & Personal With Ross Hunter

SeattleWeekly Executive blogger Mike Seely "came away impressed" with Ross Hunter.
why doesn't Hunter, who's already earned a reputation as that rare politician who gets shit done, simply wait to try and pick off Congressman Dave Reichert in 2010, a scenario the state Dems would cream their pants over? Fact is, his county exec campaign may be a well-masked attempt to lay the groundwork for just such a run.
Mike Seely posted his story right here.

I think that is what this is all about at this point. Does he hurt Jarrett by staying in? He can not really drop out at this point, he is raking in money. Being able to make the rounds now on this campaign's dime only helps, as does getting shit done.

If he loses in the primary, and a Special Session is called in Rocktober, then goes from running for office to being in the middle of getting more "shit" done in a hurry.

So, Ross Hunter is a State Representitive, he could be King County Executive, or he might be a U.S. Congressman (kicking Dave Reichert's ass getting there). Ok, remove the brackets, I really do think Ross Hunter would kick Dave Reichert 's political ass. Darcy Burner had two well funded boot swings at that kickball. Darcy Burner got pretty close to winning.

Ross Hunter going into that matchup would have his experience as Washington State House Finance Committee Chair to run on. I think that helps him carry broader support than Burner drew.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Steve Balmer, tell how supporting a Portland Trailblazer "home game" helps Seattle Center's KeyArena become home again to a Sonics team

At first blush I hated the idea of supporting the Portland TrIlblazers in any way (still do), and hated the idea of supporting the political entities that emptied the building of an NBA franchise (still do).

I still have a problem with Seattle Center's KeyArena not having an anchor tenant that regularly draws people to the city and fills the building all the way up into upper bowl with patrons that can afford an NBA season ticket, and suites.

I do not see how one preseason game with two out-of-town teams helps the Seattle Center's KeyArena get authrization from the state to tax sports fans parking/eating/drinking to fund a remodel the facility so it can compete with Safeco Field and Quest Field for high end patronage.
A remodel is the ONLY thing that would elevate KeyArena in the eyes of suite buyers, and the NBA entertainment seller.
And the city's facility plays second fiddle to the county facilities until things change.

In 2000 KeyArena began to lose suite owners to the new local facilities. The city and the Sonics did not anticipate such a thing happening way back in 1994 when working out the funding plan for KeyArena. In fact, in 1994 is was quite possible the the Seattle Mariners might leave their King Dome home to Tampa Bay.

The Mariners stayed, Seahawks stayed, both got new buildings with restuarants, bars, suites and club suites, everyday like a trip the county fair. So, the big money left KeyArena, and no matter how many "Joe fans" filled KeyArena stands the facility would not (will not) compete in Seattle.
Still, "Joe fan" kept coming after 2000 and it did not matter. They could fill almost every seat on every night and the Sonics were not going to turn an operating profit, and the city would lose money since much of their revenue was to come from suites.
The Mariners MLB and Seahawks NFL business models were not supported by the King Dome, and they were heading out of town for the same reasons as the Sonics.
The worst season the Sonics ever had, the last, the dead duck year, they still sold 13,000 ticket per game, and they lost more money.

No matter how many fans filled that hole, the hole could not be made whole, not the city, not the team owner. The fans did their part and it did not matter to the city, the team, or the NBA.

For some strange reason Seattle Times Sports Columnist Steve Kelley did not think fans would boycott the October 14th, meaningless, preseason game between the Portland Trailblazers (NBA media market "home" team for Seattle) and the Phoenix Suns.
And I had never thought of calling a Portland anything a "home" team, even for a meaningless NBA preseason game.
In fact, some people might be borderline offended by the very idea. I call them "Sonics" fans.
Poor tone-deaf Steve Kelley, he could hear the single note song of millionaire players asking why, and failed to remember the chorus of the 3,000 fans at the rally on the federal courthouse steps just more than a year ago.
Will local businesses rent suites? See Steve, that is what has been missing for nearly a decade.
It aint me, Steve, you can not hang the leaving or returning of the NBA to KeyArena on the fans showing up, or not.

And the the city, seeing this trainwreck coming since the groundbreak of Safeco and Qwest Fields got nothing done in making its building competitive with the real competition, not Oklahoma City, but King County.

To be sure, KeyArena manager Edie Burke does not have a clue why Joe Fan left KeyArena, or is just putting on a happy face for the press, either way the publc is not well served, and neither is Seattle Center and the surrounding businesses that made business investments based on a 15 year lease and 41 nights of Joe Fan.
The city council got nothing done for the long-term viability of KeyArena and the Seattle Center. The Seattle Center master plan was released last year with a half of a billion dollar price tag, price not including doing anything with KeyArena. Jan Drago has been on the council the entire time, maybe she could have done something, like lead.
Maybe the mayor could have been less of an asshole to everybody.
Maybe, maybe,maybe neither will lead the city in making the Seattle Center master plan and KeyArena remodel happen.
To be sure, not maybe the fans. They, we, were there no matter how poorly the Sonics owners and city officials responsible for all the other stuff involving KeyArena.
Hosting the Portland Trailblazers now is a risk, and if it does not go well then that is on the city and NBA. For it to go well could only be measured by what counts for the city and NBA, suite sales for the event, because the fans showing up did not keep the old team here and will not bring one back.

The only way KeyArena lands an anchor tenant that fills the upper bowl, and suites, is by remodeling the facility to compete with Safeco and Quest Fields.

So, the only way I could see supporting an NBA event at KeyArena is if Steve Ballmer told me why anybody should support the Portland Trailblazer NBA preseason game.

Steve Ballmer would have come on over to my blog and tell me why it is a good idea for me to support this game, and how it would help the effort to remodel the facility. He is the guy picked by the NBA to be the next Seattle Sonics owner.

Ya know, I have been writing about this thing for a while, and I have gotten and answered some strange emails from a variety of folks. Why not Steve Ballmer?
Mr. Ballmer, my consumable email address is next to my Facebook picture on this page, send me an email and tell me how it is (or become my Facebook Friend and write it on my Facebook wall, not holding my breath). I'll keep your email address supersecret.

I do not owe anybody any favors, and I have zero monitary interest in this (other than as a citizen). I think I have made the effort, I think a direct answer from the next NBA owner is not too much to ask for.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Daily Weekly: Donaldson Rips Nickels Over Handling of Police, Roads, Fire Stations, City Light, Labor...In Other Words, Just About Everything

On Friday, James Donaldson had a free shot at Mayor Greg Nickels, courtesy of The SeattleWeekly's Mike Seely.
Maybe Mr. seely was too busy dreaming up his basketball analogy to provide other meaningful commentary, or reporting, or whatevere it is the Managing Editor of the SeattleWeekly does do (thanks, in advance).

Donaldson Rips Nickels Over Handling of Police, Roads, Fire Stations, City Light, Labor...In Other Words, Just About Everything

By Mike Seely in Campaign 2009, City of Seattle, Civics 101, Politics

Gargantuan mayoral candidate James Donaldson delivered a speech to the King County Labor Council's Endorsement Committee today, in which he backed Mayor Nickels down in the post and threw a bunch of elbows, the sharpest of which can be reviewed after the jump/below.
Read the rest of the story, "Donaldson Rips Nickels", here.

Mr. Seely then went on to provide a quote and a list of charges Mr. Donaldson levied against Mr. Nickels.

As much as I dislike Mr. Nickels' policies, and like Mr. Donaldson as a person, the public was not served well by Managing Editor Mike Seely giving Mr. Donaldson a free shot at scoring political points (a clear path to the basket).

Presenting problems without solutions is called complaining. In that light, I offer a question Mr. Seely might try next time he has a brush with greatness:
How would Mr. Donaldson pay for the things he is unhappy that Mr. Nickels cut?

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Seattle Times "editorial board here to help with voter education before Aug. 18 primary"

SEATTLE - Welcome to the one newspaper town, Seattle. This will be the first election cycle in more than a century to be reported on, editorialized, and opined, through the pages of one daily metro newspaper.

How will anybody know, for sure, that the bias of the Seattle Times is more of the same it has, or a final payoff for more of the same bias?
This same newspaper lobbied, and incumbant politicians they "cover" lobbied, for a special partial exemption from Washington State's B & O tax [quid].

To this end our schedule at The Times is packed with endorsement interviews this month. We will be vetting races from the Eastside to Seattle that involve more than two candidates, triggering a primary vote. In most cases, the editorial board will pick two candidates to suggest for the general election [pro quo?]. The advancing candidates will likely be asked to come in for another endorsement meeting in the fall.

Technology makes it possible to give voters more insight into the endorsement process. will webcast our endorsement meetings for King County executive on July 15 and Seattle mayor on July 21.

Look for our endorsements the last week of this month and the first week of August. The endorsements will begin running about a week before the mail ballots go out and for nearly a week after voters receive them. This ensures voters have our suggestions before and while they sit down at the kitchen table to vote. We will also do a recap of our suggestions closer to Aug. 18.

We are not going it alone for this primary. The editorial page has partnered with CityClub to put on debates for the two highest profile races. The county executive debate will be July 16 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. The following week, on July 23, we will be at it again with the Seattle mayoral debate at CityClub's home in Rainier Square.

Ryan Blethen
Times editorial page Editor

The technology that enables the Seattle Times to transmit video of its editorial board interviews of candidates will also allow web sites, bloggers, and the fringe publications to have thier voices heard, too.

The new medium gives anybody a tiny bit more power than maybe they should. We are were we are, in an environment where the daily metro has gotten into bed with the people they are supposed to be reporting on.
We have to fend for ourselves, to some extent.
I have an iPhone, and I am not afraid to use it.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Seattle PostGlobe, Commentary: How I tried to save the city and became Mr. Mean

Mr. Baker agrees with Mr. Mean:
Commentary: How I tried to save the city and became Mr. Mean
By seattlepostglobe
By Ben Schroeter
After the substantial media coverage of my recently filed SEPA lawsuit against the city of Seattle and One Reel, my persona has almost overnight morphed from neighborhood activist to “Mr. Mean” and my name has surfaced on blogs and comments in the local online media sources as the evil malignant tumorlike, sue-happy, tree-hugging environmental idiot du jour .
Thanks, folks … I must be doing something right.

This event has been going on for years Ben why are you complaining now?
Why did you file this lawsuit right before the event?
Do you hate fireworks?
Why are you so anti-American?

The answer is quite simple. After years of study on toxics and pesticides I’ve learned that these chemicals are much more dangerous than most of us can imagine and our mistaken idea that our government will protect us is exactly that: a mistaken idea.
Just because the City allows 50,000 people into Gas Works Park doesn’t mean it is safe…does it? I mean…they wouldn’t do it if we could be harmed right? What evidence can they provide that documents the safety in Gas Works Park ? Well…uh…I did years of research looking for it and I did not find it anywhere in their records.
What I did find is that large corporate users are given preferential treatment in park rentals and manage to have fees and rules waived so as to help them stage their events. If your kid’s soccer team seeks to get a permit to hold a party at Gas Works Park , they will be required to keep all tents, staging off the turf and driving on the grass is strictly forbidden so as to protect the grass and dirt “cap” that separates us from the toxic chemicals below. But for the 4th of July those rules are dismissed. Why? Is it somehow safer to drive on the grass on the 4 th of July?
I have tried to bring these deficiencies, errors and dangers to the media eye for a long time now but the media is looking for sensationalism and none of them took interest until I filed this thing right before the 4th . If there is one thing I did learn in my 10 years of college, it is how to create a news event that media will bite on.
And so after years of asking the city of Seattle to follow the law; after years of looking at public documents; after having to (successfully) sue the city (under the Public Records Act) to give me the documents I requested, I finally filed this suit in a manner that will allow people to actually hear and consider the issues raised.
How patriotic is that to question our government on the 4th of July? At least Stephen Colbert understood my point (see

Read the rest of his story at Seattle PostGlobe

My last trip to Gasworks Park, with the hazard signs, was a strange reminder of how technological waste has its own half-life. The dangers involved in just rolling on that grass should be communicated in a direct, person-to-person way if the city chooses to allow these events to take place. Some basic decontamination practices should be given to all of those people going to the grass covered industrial land-fill.
I know I will never return.
Good luck, Mr. Mean!

Have a great day,
Mike Baker
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Friday, July 3, 2009

I had a chat with Art Thiel at Seattle Post-Intelligencer offices on June 1st, 2009 (part 1)

The beginning of the end of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

(Interview from, June 1st, 2009)

Art Thiel grew up in Tacoma, went to college at Pacific Lutheran University. He has been at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for 29 years, starting in 1980. At the Seattle PI he has been a sports columnist since 1987.

In 2003, he wrote Out of Left Field, a book on the Seattle Mariners. His latest book, The Great Book of Seattle Sports Lists, with co-authors Steve Rudman and Mike Gastineau is available in bookstores now. He also provides commentary weekly on KPLU-FM 88.5 every Friday.Also, every Friday at 3 p.m he is with Kevin Calabro on ESPN 710 AM.

Through nearly three decades of the newspaper’s operation Art has been there for the announcement of the end, the actual end of print, and the new beginning as an online news organization,

After 146 years of operation On January 9th, 2009, the Seattle PI newspaper announced that barring a sale within 60 days the newspaper would either be web-only or cease operating. Two days later his article One paper can't contain all our voices, views was published.

Mike Baker: I would like to go back to January and work my way to, even, today.

Art Thiel: Ok.

Mike: On January 9th.

Art: Black friday.

Mike: Right, they announced the end of the end. two days later you wrote your first article about a one newspaper town, or, a zero newspaper town. so, what was the immediate change, the announcement was that they were going to stop printing or they are going to be an online publication. How did that go through this office?

Art: Just as a brief background, there were any number of pundits and civic leaders that had predicted the demise of the PI. Well, we had survived many of these alleged threats. People said this was only going to work five years because of the history of joint agencies (1983 Seattle Times and Seattle PI Joint Operating agreement).

Then there was the recession of 1990-91, we were going to be domed then.

Then the Times muscled its way into the morning market, with the PI’s reluctant agreement in 1999. People said, well, the PI’s dead then.

Then, of course, there was the strike, the PI’s dead then (7 week strike ending 1/3/2001). And, the times used the strike as an excuse to begin inducing losses in the Joint Operating Agreement. Hearst (PI’s publisher) knew that and sued to stop them in 2003. Four years later Hearst won a $24 million-dollar, well they did not win a judgement, they accepted a settlement from Frank Blethen (Seattle Times publisher), who paid Hearst to settle this dispute. Clearly he was deliberately trying to sabotage our production in order to make the PI go away.

So, the PI finally felt confident. We were at least on equal footing with the Times, and the further undermining of the agency had ceased.

Well, September of ‘08 comes the market crash. All sorts f things that had been threatening all newspapers, and these two here, came to a head, and started circling the drain. Somewhere along the way, as hindsight revealed, Heart decided to pull the plug here.

To get to January 9th, I had a tip, but I was unable to confirm it, but most of us were shocked that the advantage gained by the settlement in April of ‘08 meant nothing. And that we were, in fact, going to be the second major newspaper in the county this year to go down. Rocky Mountain News, actually, Rocky Mountain News hadn’t announced it was going down, but they crashed in the 60-day window we had before the online effort took hold.

Mike: They shut all the way down.

Art: Ya’, and there was no remaining online product.

So, there was all the emotions that you associate with a plant shutdown. I mean, there was anger, dismay, disappointment, bitterness, and all the K├╝bler-Ross stages of grief. We all went through that in varying degrees, and complicating the feeling was that none of us knew if we were to be among the anointed twenty that would survive. And, would we want to if offered? Because we didn’t know what they were offering, and we didn’t know what Hearst wanted the online edition to look like.

Mike: All kinds of risks. At that point, even today you could argue, that there isn’t a great model for an online edition.

Art: Right, this is pioneering, no one has done what we are doing.

Mike: Exactly, and so, I know that in Minneapolis, I think they had a weekly that went online.

Art: They are the remaining staff, the laid-off staffs of both Minneapolis and St. Paul papers created MinnPost ( There is an equivalent in San Diego, called Voice of San Diego ( I think the St. Louis journalists got together and did a similar thing, that name escapes me (St. Louis Beacon,, but, there have been nascent efforts to create online newspapering in metro areas.

Mike: one of the different things here is that the owner-publisher is going that direction, where if you go back, McClatchy was selling-off. There was a lot of selling-off, there wasn’t somebody investing, and saying, we’re going to try this.

Art: Right.

Mike: So, this is an unusual, a big unknown for everyone here.

Art: It is, exactly

Mike: I remember, I saw online a panel discussion, I think it was late February, at downtown Seattle.

Art: Oh, the No News is Bad News? I was there (

Mike: Right, as the lone print journalist on the panel.

Art: (laughs) That’s right.

Mike: As I was watching that, you had mentioned where the news comes from (a newsroom), and, it still comes from there. It isn’t necessarily delivered all the time in a print format, but that business cycle of printing it and getting paid has dissipated up to this point.

So, I’m wondering, some six weeks, or so, had passed since the announcement and this panel. So, when you’re in a room full of people all asking the question, What happens now, even the people that were supposed to be doing what was supposed to be happening now, like the West Seattle Blog (, they all seem to be trying to figure it out.

Was it far enough along here that it became clear that they were not going to be able to sell, and that they were likely going to go online?

Art: Well, at that point the sale period had expired as of January 9th, so that’s when they felt they could say this. but, what wasn’t known then was anything about Hearst’s agenda for the online operation. So, at that point, nobody knows. No one knew who would be retained, how many would be retained, and what the look of, and the ambition of the online website would be. And so, we were still in the Nether World of not knowing, and of not being sure wether, they hadn’t even set salaries. So, we all assumed it was going to be less money. But, Hearst was also competing against itself because, for people like me, who had been here a long time, I’ve been here 29 years, we had a big severance package. And so, it seemed, pretty unlikely that for anybody with, probably, 15 years of time that the Hearst offer of employment here would match that one big chunk of severance.

So, a lot of people, they said, I can’t imagine Hearst offering me anything I want, and so they were playing out the string for the 60 days. The issue, of course, for many people is healthcare coverage, ‘cause the one advantage that this newsroom now is that Hearst has continued healthcare, whereas, those of us that accepted the severance got 90 days of COBRA which will expire July 1st. And so, we are going to be out on private pay healthcare which is obviously quite expensive.

So, all that was going through people’s day-to-day existences, and there was something of a moving target as to when the last print product would be. A lot of people were reading tea leaves in the Hearst’s motives and say, oh they’re going to pull the plug now, and right about that time the Rocky Mountain News went down in February. So, well Hearst could do that in a day.

Well, they actually wound up being 66 days, or whatever it was. And so, in February when that online meeting people were just beginning to explore, well, what else is there? What can I do as an individual, what can we do collectively? That’s when the Seattle Post-Globe people ( started having their meetings, and discussions. Can we put an online product out that’s somewhat similar to MinnPost, or Voice of San Diego, meetings took place to try to create that. And there were, also, people splintering off in to do their own things, other people leaving the business, other people retiring, vacationing, whatever.

So, there was no particular cohesion, everyone had a certain place in their lives, ya’ know, if you got two kids in college you’ve got to come up with something. If you’re near retirement, you’re a different story, or if you’re a single person, all kinds of things, everybody had kind of a different agenda. So, there was no really cohesive element. Then, and now, no single angel investor has emerged to be the life force like it was in Minnesota to sustain an operation until it could get, probably, to be break even.

Mike: At the same time, if you step away from here, and create your own, you are then competing with the PI or Hearst as an online entity, if you go that direction. So, people choosing to go that direction, it seems to me, that they, were, were people breaking into specialty subjects, or how did that come about?

Art: There was nothing that organized. It was just everybody who just thought that they had a talent or a skill who wanted to try to pursue it, who were looking at options. But, I mean, there’s maybe a collection of 15 to 20 people contributing to Seattle Post-Globe, which is the biggest group. But there is another group just started, just today, called investigate west ( launches July 8th), which is lead by assistant metro editor Rita Hibbard and has several people who made their living investigative reporting, are together, for a website, that they hope will be sponsored. And, I think they had affiliation with University of Washington grant money that will help sustain them for a while. That’s another experiment. I’m working on a website with my colleague Steve Rudman that will off sports commentary, per haps, on a subscription basis (

So, everybody’s got a different agenda, and a different timeline. And, obviously, it varies with urgency, a lot of people with younger kids are saying I’ll take any job I can get; PR, or construction.

Mike: But that’s not your position, that’s not where you’re at?

Art: Right, I want to continue in journalism, and I want to continue with this website. And the PI, also, Hearst did not fully commit to the electronic version until early in March. So, we didn’t know if they were going to pull this trigger, and they finally did. And they belatedly, at the end of that period, said ok, “you, you, you, and you”, and these steps [gestures] go up to the second floor where they were meeting everyone and making their proposals. And so, it was a very strange period there in mid-March where the phone would ring, and somebody would say, “come up stairs to the meeting room”. So, you’d watch who would go up the stairs to see who got the job, or, they came back down and said “no”, ‘cause some people did turn it down.

. . .

This is the end part 1 of the conversation.

I had a chat with Art Thiel at Seattle Post-Intelligencer offices on June 1st, 2009, as part of a classroom assignment I was taking at the University of Washington (COM495 with my host, Steve Scher).

I wanted to know how technology has had an impact on society, in this case, the internet and the newspaper.

As it turned out, I only needed to submit the audio recording for the classroom assignment. Unfortunately, for the past couple weeks my mind kept returning to the interview. To be fair to Art Thiel, and his generosity with his time, I will publish the transcription of the interview here, lightly edited (to remove my rambling).

This is part 1, the beginning of the end. The middle of the end will arrive in about a week, and the end of the end a week after. The next two parts are much shorter (I promise).

Happy Independence Day, Art!

Mike Baker

Visit me here: Strains in the green-growth coalition

AKA: Mossback piggyback Publicola green pac.
Strains in the green-growth coalition
The battle for candidate endorsements reveals some ideological divides between local environmentalists, developers, and independent thinkers who wonder if all urban growth is good.
By Knute Berger
People in Seattle are green green green. We're a leader on Kyoto, we hate plastic bottles and shopping bags, and our politicians often jockey over who is more green than the other. Candidates for office vie for key endorsements from groups like the Cascade Bicycle Club, Washington Conservation Voters, and the Sierra Club.

The unified have split from Nick Licata.

Erica Barnett writing at Publicola offers an interesting window into how the green-growth coalition is finessed. She writes about how city council candidate Jessie Israel managed to get endorsements from both pro-density Washington Conservation Voters and the pro-growth Seattle/King County chapter of the Washington Realtors Association. One group hates sprawl, the other thrives on growth, including sprawl.
She's not the first Seattle candidate to get the endorsements of both, but it's interesting to see at whose expense the endorsements were made. Both groups found Israel more to their liking than her opponent, incumbent City Councilmember Nick Licata, one of Seattle's most progressive politicians. Barnett wanted to know why Israel over Licata? There were several reasons:

Asked why the Realtors supported Israel, association public-affairs director David Crowell pointed to two issues, both of which would appear to conflict with her environmental-community support. First, Crowell said, Israel told the group she would not let tree protections stand in the way of development within growth management boundaries (i.e., in cities). "She remarked that trees are very important, but if it's a question between trees and urban areas...density would trump trees," Crowell said.

Israel also apparently opposes home sellers having to conduct mandatory energy audits to let buyers know just what they're getting. As to why the WCV made its choice, Barnett reports:

Sudha Nandagopal...says the group decided to endorse Israel because she "really showed that she'll be an environmental champion" on the council, by supporting "walkable, transit-oriented communities — things that are also very important for tree canopy protection."

As for why WCV didn’t endorse Licata, as they have in the past, Nandagopal said, "Nick has been a strong opponent of Sound Transit for many years, and he's not really on same page with us on density issues. When it comes down to it, Nick Licata is not running with the environment as a priority."

Pretty amazing that Licata is now considered some kind of green apostate, despite his backing of numerous green efforts, including the Green Line monorail project which was the very definition of "transit-oriented" and the darling of the pro-density crowd. It's also interesting that one group sees Israel as willing to sacrifice urban trees while another believes her overall policies will protect urban trees. Strains in the green-growth coalition

Nick Licata has chased the urban wine bar vote to its conclusion. He may be able to hang on as the general opposition person on the council, but that depends, in part, on Greg Nickels and his running mate Jan Drago being favored in the Fall. They are not that now, so, drawing anti Nckels/Drago support in a council position is watered down by a fist full of direct mayoral challengers to the Mayor of Downtown.

About the trees:
The city is littered with limbless trees, telephone/power poles. Where people, or the city, have made the error of planting an actual tree near one of those things it has often resulted in a block-long hatchet job, lopping off the tops of the trees, with a reverse mohawk.

Bury the lines, open the skies.

It is possible to have both Nickel/Drago and Licata replaced this November. The question then becomes: Who will tell the other council members what to do (or not do). I am only half-joking. The majority vote together as one big vote, going along with whatever is simulating leadership at any given moment. I am not looking for endless debates and 5-4 split votes on everything, but I am having a hard time accepting the pac vote for a head tax on business, and then against the head tax on business, for example.

Have a great day,
Mike Baker

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