Monday, July 26, 2010

Seattle City Council Splits the Tunnel "baby", McGinn Cries over failure to stop project

The Seattle City Council has been struggling to both keep the Alaska Way Viaduct replacement project moving, and deny responsibility for the state's portion of the project, the tunnel.

In an effort to delay an possibly kill the project, Mayor Mike McGinn attempted to force a public vote when the council passed an ordinance allowing the project to move ahead.

The council was trapped by having to do two things at once, keep the project moving, and deny responsibility for tunnel cost overruns. The state legislature is not in session to resolve the cost overrun language.

Today the Seattle City Council stated that they would not issue an ordinance, but a council resolution stating that it both supports the technical aspects of the tunnel and project, but reserved the right to revue the the vendor bids before proceeding.

A Seattle City Council plan to delay signing Highway 99 tunnel agreements with the state is a change of course that would allow the state to seek bids for the project without worrying about two threats: a mayoral veto or a public vote.

Council says it will postpone signing tunnel agreement for months, Seattle Times Newspaper

The council has effectively kept the project going and dumped the cost overrun issue back in the state legislature's lap.

The tunnel does not have majority support, neither does any viaduct replacement option. What has become the least popular option is the cost overrun language.
Today the Seattle City Council, City Attorney the Washington State Governor and Attorney General, all came out against the state legislature's cost overrun language.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has claimed that he is intent on denying the city be responsible for cost overruns. So, what was his reaction?
Mayor's Statement

"It appears that Council is doing everything possible to prevent a public vote. Yet they still have not dealt with the underlying issue - who will pay for overruns given the $2.4 billion cap in state law. Until the state law is changed, Seattle remains at risk of paying cost overruns."
Office of the Mayor

The tables have turned on the mayor, but his adoring fans will not allow him to let go.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Seattle Times: Tunnel figure says he didn't mean to put city on hook if costs soar

I guess we now know what the true legislative intent is.
Move on everybody, build the tunnel.

The intent, says Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee, was to keep Seattle political and business groups from showing up in Olympia and asking the state to pick up the tab for parks, bike lanes, park-and-ride lots or roads to areas beyond the immediate work zone.

He says he doesn't expect the state Department of Transportation (DOT) to exceed its $2 billion estimate for the tunneled portion of the $3.1 billion highway, which includes $300 million from the Port of Seattle.

"My amendment was not a legal means to get the city to pay for any cost overruns, if there are any," he said Tuesday in a phone interview. "My intent was to send them notice that this project was not going to become a Christmas tree that they can hang everything and anything on, that the state was going to pay for."

Local News | Tunnel figure says he didn't mean to put city on hook if costs soar | Seattle Times Newspaper

Seattle Times: New public facilities district to oversee state convention center

SB 6889 passed into law on 7/13/2010. King County did their part yesterday with Ordinance 2010 - 0366. Next, the Convention Center takes control of its funds and funding sources.
They should be able to wrap that up by October.

“This new structure for the Convention Center means the revenue generated by it goes right back into investments in the center, keeping it competitive,” Councilmember Jan Drago, prime sponsor of the measure, said in a statement.
Politics Northwest | New public facilities district to oversee state convention center | Seattle Times Newspaper

Monday, July 19, 2010

Sunday, July 11, 2010

MIT Comparative Media Studies: Theses

Here is some summer reading:
MIT Comparative Media Studies: Theses
Interpreting Abstract Games: The Metaphorical Potential of Formal Game Elements

New Medium, New Practice: Civic Production in Live-Streaming Mobile Video

Not Just in It to Win It: Inclusive Game Play in an MIT Dorm

Designing Game Ethics: A Pervasive Game Adaptation of The Count of Monte Cristo

A Brief History of Re-performance

Audience Research for Fun and Profit: Rediscovering the Value of Television Audiences

What I will be reading, at the very least, is from: AUDUBON DOUGHERTY,
New Medium, New Practice: Civic Production in Live-Streaming Mobile Video.

Think about everybody that has a cell phone today having that two-way streaming video phone everywhere they are. Think of all of the video clips shot, uploaded, sent around, maybe they are protests in another place. Now think of that video streaming live from millions of "phones".

I don't think we will see it or understand it until it is happening, and then we look back. Think back now to re-cell phone, or at least before you and most of the people you know had one.

I am posting this to my blog from my phone, and then I will "Share" it with my "Friends" on Facebook. 10 years ago nobody posted a sentence like that, it would not have any meaning. Words have added meanings unimagined before, therefore the way we think of the world has changed.

The first time I used my iPhone a couple years ago I felt like a spy, living in the present with technology of the future. My last two years at UW, 2007-2009, I was able to do most of my research and draft writing using my "cell phone".
A few months after I got my phone more people had similar technology, at some point we are stop being spies on the present social construct that is influenced by common communication technologies.

What strange and abstract metaphor will explain this next communicative state?
All guessing is wrong, here is mine:
We are entering a multimedia technology juiced world that is part 1950's television show You Are There, part Where the Heck am I (we send live video to friends who tell us when to turn left or right), and part family videographer at the supermarket (look what I am cooking for dinner).

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Seattle Times, Editorials: It's time to end the pingpong match over the viaduct tunnel project

The Seattle Times takes a swing at calling on the mayor to recognize that the political game is over.

The city, state and county have haggled long enough over the deep-bore tunnel to replace the aging and dangerous Alaskan Way Viaduct. At some point, Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has to concede he lost this debate. The time to march forward is now.
. . .
At some point, the mayor has to concede he lost this debate. The time to march forward, and live up to his campaign rhetoric, is now.

Editorials | It's time to end the pingpong match over the viaduct tunnel project | Seattle Times Newspaper

The short answer is that he can't choose to stop. He must keep going through the motions until his supporters let him off the hook. The problem for Mayor Mike McGinn is that they never will. Opposition to the tunnel for the majority of his supporters is stronger than their support for him. That is the truth he needs to embrace, and maybe he has.

This is a no-win situation. He won election by a thin margin by agreeing to not stand in the way, but he got into position to win by opposing the tunnel. If he stops his opposition he stands to lose his base, if he obstructs he loses his majority support from last November's election.

It is a lose-lose proposition.
But wait, it could get worse for the mayor. He is managing to create opposition to him personally by focusing on the actions and motives of others.
This is a fundimental attribution error, or Actor-observer bias, pick your favorite. The problem is wrongly attributed to the person rather than the subject.

Coming out of this "debate" over how the State will pay for the State's highway will people leave their opposition attached to the project, or has the mayor made the opposition about him?

It is one thing to lose a debate in your first year, but quite another to be ineffectual and ignored for another three.
On subjects where he might find common ground he makes it difficult for the people he opposes to overcome their dislike of him.
The short answer: Mike McGinn needs to stop acting like a jackass.
I just don't think he knows how.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Andy Grove: We must rebuild structure to create U.S. jobs

Tribal knowledge is not a commodity, it is a core competency.

As we give away what we know and then borrow money to buy back what we have given away in the form of manufactured products we should not be surprised at the state of the Anerican economy.

New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman recently encapsulated this view in a piece called "Start-Ups, Not Bailouts." His argument: Let tired old companies that do commodity manufacturing die if they have to. If Washington, D.C., really wants to create jobs, he wrote, it should back startups.

Friedman is wrong. Startups are a wonderful thing, but they cannot by themselves increase tech employment. Equally important is what comes after that mythical moment of creation in the garage, as technology goes from prototype to mass production. This is the phase where companies scale up. They work out design details, figure out how to make things affordably, build factories and hire people by the thousands. Scaling is hard work but necessary to make innovation matter.

The scaling process is no longer happening in the U.S. And as long as that's the case, plowing capital into young companies that build their factories elsewhere will continue to yield a bad return in terms of American jobs.
(read the whole thing, please, here: Business & Technology | We must rebuild structure to create U.S. jobs | Seattle Times Newspaper

Jeremy posted this on Facebook, I am pushing it along.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Nellie Goodhue School, also, RSA: Crisis of Capitalism

There is something disarming and somewhat pleasing about watching a cartoon, even if it is digging at the nature of the global financial crisis. To a great extent, on America's birthday, I think it is fitting that we have a little Marxist cake to go with the 3 decades of Capitalism's frosting.

To further the sugar/frosting metaphor, we should all look at the fat and empty American life to see if we are happy, or at least living a sustainable life. The short answer is too often "no" but we look for ways to mitigate the bad things and take steps toward individual happiness (whatever that is for you). One of the reasons that the answer is "no" is that somebody is making a lot of money off of us for their benefit, and they don't give a ratsass if we become miserable in the process.

Stick together everybody.

I hope you will watch this 11 minute and 10 second video from They have a channel with this, and other videos.

I am not about to adopt the Lesser Seattle philosophy, but I will expect that when I vote for parks and sidewalks that they actually show up in existing neighborhoods, and not in some housing development for the benefit of a billionaire.

While we are here:
Two blocks away I have 26 plots of urban blight. This gem used to be a mothballed Seattle Puble School called the Nellie Goodhue School.
1946: Opened by Shoreline School 
District No. 412 as Shoreline 
Health and Guidance Center  
1954: Annexed into Seattle School 
District on July 1; renamed 
Nellie Goodhueon 
August 13  
1954–57: Operated as annex to 
Northgate School  
1957–61: Operated as independent 
1961: Closed in June as a classroom 
1961–: Used for North (Area) 
Guidance Center/North 
Region or Region I Student 
Present: Northend Annex

"Present" on the timeline ended, and was sold two years ago to a housing developer.

Urban blight sounds bad until you know what the alternatives were for the site.
The responsible school official listed for this determination is Ronald J English. English was recently the center of another questionable environmental skirmish in the same Haller Lake residential neighborhood when he was involved with the proposed sale of a Seattle School District building - the former Nellie Goodhue School - located at Meridian Ave N and Roosevelt Way N. The school district initial determination would have opened the residential neighborhood to an onslaught of trucks because of a "determination" that it was zoned for a warehouse. The Haller Lake Community Club sued and the property has now been sold to be converted into 26 single family homes.
Majority Rules blog

To understand what having a warehouse and lots of truck traffic would mean you should know that there are more rainwater ditches than sidewalks here, more post WWII houses turning over in generations to young families that have small children, to an area with remarkably few stop signs.
In 1954 when seattle annexed this land it was on condition that Seattle provide sidewalks. Some 65 years later it was being offered a warehouse and truck traffic.
Commerce calls on our unelected officials

Application Number(s): 3004747 and 3005091

I'll tie this together, I swear.
Capitalism isn't everything.
State Authoritarianism isn't the answer.
Sometimes you have to band together, as the Haller Lake Community Club did.
A vacant lot could be worse if left to the worst combination of Capitalism and Authoritarianism.
Lastly, I might join one of these groups of people that are looking out for each other, because nobody else is.

Happy Birthday to you, America!