June 19, 2013 at 8:24 AM
Asked to perform a reading of an influential book, Seattle mayoral candidate Peter Steinbrueck made the unusual pick of The Conjure Woman, the 1899 story collection by African-American writer Charles Chestnutt about race relations in South post-Civil War. Strangely, Steinbrueck chose to read it in dialect, making him sound like Chris Rock impersonating a white Seattle architect trying to impersonate Chris Rock's Cheap Pete character.
I wasn't at the reading, but KUOW was. Here's their story; Steinbreuck's reading starting at about 7 minute mark.
What was Steinbrueck thinking?
June 19, 2013 at 6:30 AM
Summertime brings us parents into much closer contact with the kids in our children's' lives. Play times that normally happen during the school day or in after-school programs are now front and center. I take a hands off approach to choosing my son's friends. We talk about the need for honest, supportive friends. He can spot a bully a mile off. And friends who lie, cheat and steal are deal breakers. But part of becoming his own person is learning to decide for himself what he likes in a friend.
I on the other hand am about to lose it with some of his friends. First, there was the classmate we picked up after school one day and decided to treat to burgers at a nearby restaurant. Imagine my surprise when my son's friend sat down, perused the menu and said without lifting his eyes from the list of entrees, "I'm in the mood for steak." What I said next riles me to this day.
"The hamburgers look good," I said to no one in particular. When the waitress came to our table the boy turned to her, ordered his steak, 'well-done please' and began perusing the flavors of milkshakes. He never once looked at me. Throughout the meal he ordered little things from her, steak sauce, fries instead of vegetables. He even helped himself to my son's fries. (No, I wasn't angry because I wanted them.) By dessert I had recovered from my shock. When the waitress asked him if he cared for dessert, I didn't snarl at her and ask if she thought an 11-year-old was in charge, I merely smiled and replied "no thank you, we would just like the check."
On another day, my house is the site of an afternoon play date with my son and two other boys. I love these afternoons for the peals of laughter heard around the house and the chance to curl up with a book mostly undisturbed. I ordered pizza. Cheese, no red sauce. My son doesn't eat red sauce. I've done that a hundred times and the kids all either adapt, or when I ask, tell me otherwise and I split the pizza in half. The pizza came, was devoured in seconds and all was well until one boy's Dad came to pick him.
When I thanked little Mr. Sunshine at the door for spending the day at our house, he piped up, "I didn't like that pizza." You'll like the gruel served next time even less, I started to reply. Instead I looked at the boy's Dad who looked at his son and asked, "What was on the pizza?" Cheese and nothing else, the boy sniffed. "Oh" the Dad said, in what appeared to me as an understanding - 'yikes, I hear ya buddy' - tone. They left. I can only hope Dad told son that when you're a guest in someone's home, you take what you get and you don't throw a fit.
Are we teaching kids manners these days? A 2009 poll by the website Babycenter found that the majority of parents value good manners in their kids. Among the many reasons parents valued good manners was the belief that “increasing global competition makes me want to prepare my kids” for a competitive working world.
Among the examples of what parents in that poll considered good manners was treating adults with respect. Sounds good to me.
I know that a combination of hormones and immaturity takes the lack of manners to a whole new level with middle school kids, but I believe in the broken window theory. Left unadressed, little bouts of rudeness turn into even longer bouts of dysfunction. You can see that in public discourse among adults. I know its a stretch, but dare I extrapolate to incidents of road rage or domestic abuse?
For parents who think instilling manners is difficult there is the Dummies version of raising your child to have manners.
June 19, 2013 at 6:20 AM
The U.S. Department of Justice has a curious set of priorities. In the wake of the nation’s most serious economic collapse in decades, the federal government is giving up on pursuit of a Seattle businessman suspected of bankruptcy fraud. Yet the FBI still can find the resources and sustain the inclination to search for the remains of Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa.
Michael Mastros and his wife fled to France in 2011. Hoffa has been missing for almost 40 years.
Earlier this month a French court told the U.S. legal system to buzz off. France would not extradite Mastros because of his age and poor health. The federal Department of Justice meekly replied, “OK,” and left the outstanding charges and a federal judge’s arrest warrant flapping in the breeze. The court was going after the Mastros’ assets to help cover a portion of an estimated $250 million in debts.
Hoffa disappeared in 1975 and spent the first decade or so being a punch line for jokes. Apparently the hunt for Hoffa, who has been missing for longer than most federal careers, is a higher priority than financial justice for Mastros’ creditors.
June 19, 2013 at 6:02 AM
She offers me a sheaf of studies. Here is one from the Journal of Toxicology, 2013, by Nicholas Sullivan, et al. It found pesticide residue that was “alarmingly high and of serious concern.” The exposure to pesticide was greatest if smoked with a glass pipe but much less if filtered through a water pipe. (It didn’t test a vaporizer.) The study called for regulation, noting that “there is no better way to avoid pesticide and other chemical residue than to assure that it is not present on the product in the first place.”
Here is a study from Cannabinoids, 2006, by Arno Hazekamp of Leiden University, the Netherlands. The study compared samples from the unregulated coffee-house trade with official Dutch medical marijuana. The coffeshop marijuana had most of the market because it was cheaper, and some users liked it better. But it was also contaminated with bacteria and mold, so that the regulated cannabis was “a significantly safer product.”
Here is “Health Effects Associated with Indoor Marijuana Grow Operations,” by John Martyny, et al, Department of Medicine, National Jewish Health hospital, Denver. He reports that indoor grow operations (which is how the Washington State Liquor Control Board expects marijuana to be grown for the Initiative 502 stores) are normally kept warm (21-32 degrees C) humid (50-70 percent) with high CO2 levels (700-1,500 ppm), which “enables fungal growth” and “elevated mold exposures.” This is a particular risk to people, particularly the children, living in the building with the indoor plants.
“Emergency personnel and law enforcement officers entering these facilities on a regular basis have reported upper respiratory infection, skin rashes, and other symptoms associated with these exposures,” the report says.
The bottom line, says Kyashna-Tocha: “It’s time to regulate it all.”
Indeed, the Washington State Liquor Control Board's proposed rules include mandatory record keeping of "each daily application of fertlizers, pesticides or herbicides" applied to the plants and mandatory testing of samples by an accredited testing lab.
June 18, 2013 at 11:55 AM
Jeff Keever's phone lit up as soon as news broke about the pending closure of the Egyptian Theater on Seattle's Capitol Hill.
As director of auxiliary services for Seattle Central Community College, which owns the Egyptian, he is basically the theater's landlord. And the interest in preserving the theater has been so strong this morning that Keever said the college will quickly open a bidding process. "This is actually very exciting," said Keever. He believes it would likely be attractive as a performing arts space as well as a movie theater.
That's great news. The Egyptian is a civic treasure. Built in 1915 as a Masonic temple, it has been an art-house movie mainstay since 1980, when Dan Ireland and Darryl MacDonald, co-founders of the Seattle International Film Festival, bought, rehabilitated and renamed it the Egyptian. They sold it in 1988 to Landmark Theaters, who in turn sold it to SCCC in 1992. The Egyptian has remained a mainstay of SIFF, the largest film festival in the U.S. Capitol Hill Seattle, a Seattle Times news partner, has good coverage of saga.
The Egyptian clearly needs some love. It's floors, seats and bathrooms are beyond funky, and Keever said he understands the screen needs work. The deferred work on the Egyptian mirrors Landmark's poor caretaking of other local theaters, particularly the Guild 45th and the Crest in Shoreline.
That's partly due the tough economics of a single-screen theaters in the multi-plex age, and the niche market for art-house films. Landmark owner Mark Cuban couldn't find a buyer for the 55-theater chain just two years ago. Now, the required conversion to digital projection systems (Hollywood will stop distributing film prints later this year, according to the Los Angeles Times) has made those economic factors worse.
But the success of SIFF shows Seattle's love of films. Venue after venue has been saved from destruction, often by civic-minded types. Paul Allen saved and restored the Cinerama in Belltown, and Ken Alhadeff stepped up to build a new Majestic Bay theater in Ballard. A restoration plan for the Admiral theater in West Seattle is in in the works, according to West Seattle Blog. The Princess Theater in Edmonds and Seattle's Columbia City Theater were saved.
Keever said the long-term lease rate is about $8,400 a month. Who's going to be the Egyptian's savior?
June 18, 2013 at 6:20 AM
The Pacific Northwest’s reputation for building the world’s best airplanes is getting its proper respect , according to U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Lake Stevens.
Larsen is filling in for Gov. Inslee, who was grounded in Olympia by the Legislature’s failure to launch the next state budget.
Larsen, in a conference call with reporters Monday from the 50th Paris Air Show, had an upbeat tone as news accounts wondered about the role for Boeing’s Everett plant in the final assembly of the 787-10. In the absence of a definitive corporate announcement, Larsen talked about the appreciation he was hearing for Washington at the state’s busy and popular exhibit.
Possibilities come not only from Boeing, but also European companies who want into the supply chain for Boeing and Airbus. Mergers or new facilities that put them close to the action here. Europe is looking a little stodgy these days, and the word is that European manufacturers recognize the need to diversify to sell back to Airbus and be part of Boeing. A dour exchange rate helps fuel their imaginations.
Larsen said Washington needs to be mindful the region competes in a global market for jobs and customers. The state’s efforts to stay competitive via education get noticed. “When we compete, we will win,” Larsen said.
Opportunities abound if we are prepared to respond to them. That is what Washington is doing with STEM education with an eye toward aerospace jobs. Preparation that creates options.
June 18, 2013 at 6:03 AM
The event of my Saturday morning was the dock sale at Ocean Beauty Seafoods. Really it isn’t on a dock, but at a warehouse on a dirt road over the railroad tracks by the south end of the Ballard Bridge.
I was late. The sale went from 8 a.m. to 11. I got there at 9:45: too late for the black cod. Too late for the sea bass. Still, there were bargains. I bought two 10-pound boxes of Pacific cod fillets, individually quick frozen, for $25 each. That’s $2.50 a pound for the stuff of the best fish and chips. Not pollock. And not breaded.
Tom Sunderland, vice president of marketing, told me the cod market had crashed. There has been a “huge rebound” in the biomass of cod, both in the North Pacific and elsewhere, and prices are way down. “It’s $3.99 a pound at QFC,” he said.
There was another box, of individually packaged 4-ounce portions of salmon with garlic pepper sauce. Twenty portions, $5: a salmon meal for two bits! A small meal, to be sure; if you wanted a big serving, it would cost you 50 cents.
“It was a retail product that got discontinued,” said Sunderland. “I don’t have a place for it.”
I did. I had the first pack for lunch.
Then there was the cioppino sauce, in a 28 oz. frozen block: 50 cents.
Ocean Beauty is one of the big fish companies in Seattle, which processes fish from the North Pacific and Bering Sea. The company doesn’t sell a lot of things here: it sells them in Asia, in Europe and on the East Coast. The dock sale is a chance of getting in on some local products (salmon, mussels, black cod) and some not-so-local ones (my salmon packs were from China).
The customer base of this sale is heavily Asian. More people of those traditions know how to prepare fish. There is also prepared food, for the gastronomically challenged.
There are drawbacks to buying fish this way. You have to plan ahead, because the sale is only on the third Saturday of each month (except December). You can get on the company’s email list, and find out a product and price list a few days before the sale. It’s different each time. You have to get up: to get there at 10 a.m. is worthless. You have to have freezer space, otherwise there is no sense in buying a 10-pound box. And it pays if you take the time to repackage things that otherwise would get freezer burn.
But the deals: “Cold smoked Atlantic trim” (i.e., lox) 8-pound bag, $15. Rockfish fillets, individually quick frozen, 10 pounds, $20. Salmon burgers, case of 34, $10. That’s 29 cents each.
On the waterfront, life can be good.
June 17, 2013 at 6:07 AM
The Seattle City Council is set to vote on a proposal for public financing of campaigns for their own seats. Read our June 15 editorial. Here editorial board members Bruce Ramsey and Lynne Varner consider whether this is a good idea.
June 17, 2013 at 6:00 AM
This Seattle Times news story caught my eye over the weekend because I spent my first several months in Seattle without a car. I relied heavily on a combination of my own two feet, buses, trains, taxis, Uber, ZipCar, Car2Go and, of course, my driver friends. The costs really added up, but I enjoyed for a time the convenience of not having to pay for gas and insurance or having to park a car every night in Capitol Hill.
Now I see a dilemma on the horizon. I want the drivers of innovative services like Lyft and Sidecar to succeed. They're doing well because they're responding to Seattle's heavy demand for quick, responsive ride-share car services. At the same time, I don't think their success is necessarily fair to taxi drivers who are heavily regulated by the city and subject to licensing fees.
Of course, the Seattle City Council is weighing its options.
While I formulate my own thoughts on this issue, what do you think? Give me a sense of your opinion on this. Take our poll.
June 14, 2013 at 12:43 PM
As the state House and Senate near a budget deal (we all hope), lawmakers are reminded to make sure higher education has enough money.
This is not the year for cuts. At a minimum, the budget must include maintenance-level funding that allows our public universities and community and technical colleges to pay for current programs and obligations.
Budget proposals from the Democratic House and the Republican-led Senate Majority Coalition include maintenance-level funding. Both budgets also invest more money in the State Need Grant.
But in letters to key lawmakers this week, education leaders from both the state's four-year and two-year systems expressed serious concerns about the budget prospects.
University of Washington President Michael Young urges the Legislature to prioritize expansion of STEM programs. A "Skills Gaps" report by the Washington Roundtable noted that 25,000 jobs are going unfilled in Washington because of a lack of qualified applicants. Eighty percent of those jobs are in health care and STEM fields.
STEM program expansions at the University of Washington and Washington State University is key to addressing the skills gap. At the UW, half of qualified students who apply for engineering, and two-thirds applying for computer science programs, cannot get in because there is no space.
Other budget problems that ought to be made to go away, include an untenable 3 percent tuition reduction in the Senate Majority Coalition's budget. Our public universities and colleges have just two ways to sustain themselves, state aid and tuition. Without a significant ramp up in state support, reducing tuition is simply taking away revenue the schools need. It negates the state's proposed increase in funding. The House offers the better solution by allowing schools to raise tuition by 3 to 5 percent a year.
Another big problem that ought to go away is the Senate's proposed 20 percent tuition surcharge on international students. Foreign students at our state's universities already pay nearly two and half times the in-state tuition paid by residents. Making them pay more is an unfair tax.
Lawmakers must scrub the budget compromise for anything that imperils higher education. They must also keep an eye on the clock. The longer it takes to reach a budget deal, the more vulnerable financial aid and education jobs become. Negative impacts have already begun. WSU has pushed back by a year expansion plans at its Everett campus.
A budget balanced with revenue, strategic cuts outside of education and smart reforms needs to happen. Soon.
June 14, 2013 at 9:29 AM
Cheeky headline because the answer is of course yes. Humans, largely female, will make up the teaching workforce in the year 2030 and beyond. But the future of teaching, and how much of it will be driven by technology is the topic of my column this week. How will teachers be trained and exactly what they'll be doing in the classroom is changing, in part at the behest of teachers who see their roles expanding in the realm of learning.
I mention the popularity of Khan Academy as one driver of online education, but I want to be clear that it is the offsprings of Khan Academy that we ought to look toward. There are also online tools for all kinds of learners, here's one a parent just recommended, Sophia learning. Please send in more examples. Online tutorials do not replace teachers. I'm convinced their vital role is to supplement them in ways that free up teachers to truly be professional masters of content and learning. I've been thinking about what public education, including teaching, will look like 20,30,40 years out for some time. Someone recommended Barnett Berry's “Teaching 2030: What We Must Do For Our Students and Our Public Schools — Now and in the Future.” The first chapter is illuminating, Berry says:
"We must convince parents, businesspeople, and community leaders to think beyond tradition - beyond their own childhood experiences in school - and consider what it will mean for our students and for the nation when we fully embrace teaching as professional work..." "In the flattening world of the 21st century, American students will need to master knowledge and skills as never before."
June 14, 2013 at 6:20 AM
Nine members of the U.S. House of Representatives from Washington and Oregon sent a letter this week to President Obama expressing their strong support for protecting the jobs and salmon resources in Alaska’s Bristol Bay.
They join five Western senators who earlier sent a letter to the White House stating their grave concerns about the vast mining proposal under review by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
The House members – Reps. Suzan DelBene, Denny Heck, Derek Kilmer, Jim McDermott and Adam Smith of Washington, and Reps. Earl Blumenauer, Suzanne Bonamici, Peter DeFazio and Kurt Schrader of Oregon – asked the president to “move quickly to protect Bristol Bay from any open pit mining that would threaten the Pacific region’s fishing economy.”
Bristol Bay’s extraordinary fishing resources power commercial fishing and fish processing industries that extend down the West Coast. Add in sport fishing and tourism and the employment and income numbers climb even higher.
They are all alarmed by a proposal to “turn the habitat where these fish spawn into an industrialized hard rock mining zone.”
A truly bad idea, with profound environmental hazards that will exist for hundreds of years, is attracting the negative reviews its deserves. Read a Times editorial that agrees with the sentiments expressed by these lawmakers.
June 14, 2013 at 6:09 AM
The Associated Press reports that the deadline is Friday for the Legislature to “fix” the estate tax. That’s a one-time levy on the estates of dead people. If a fix isn’t passed, the state must send out $13 million of tax refunds to executors, the first of an estimated $160 million in revenue losses over the next two years.
Lost revenue is how the state sees it. The heirs to these estates see the case as a retroactive tax that is fundamentally unfair.
I will try to explain what is informally called the “Bracken fix.” The story of it goes back to the 1980s, when the federal estate tax allowed a 100 percent credit for a certain amount of state estate tax. In other words, Congress had set up the estate tax so that state governments could share in the money from it.
In 1984 Jim Bracken died. His share of the marital estate was worth more than $4 million. His estate would have had to pay a bunch of federal and state tax on that, but there was created a trust called a QTIP. (Don’t stick this in your ear!) Under a QTIP (Qualified Terminable Interest Property) trust, the tax on Jim Bracken’s estate, and its distribution to his heirs, was delayed until the death of his wife, Sharon, so she could receive the income from it.
Sharon Bracken died in 2006. By then, the federal tax had changed. It no longer shared revenue with the states. And in 2005 Washington had passed a separate estate tax.
Her estate paid federal and state estate taxes on her assets. The QTIP for Jim’s assets dissolved, and the federal tax was paid on that. The question was: Did the estate of Jim Bracken owe estate tax to Washington under the law passed in 2005?
The state said yes. Bracken’s executor said no. The case went all the way to the Washington Supreme Court. Representing the Bracken estate was Tukwila attorney Phil Talmadge, who was once a justice of the court himself. You can watch him argue here.
The gist of his argument, as I understand it, is that for an estate tax the taxable event is the transfer of assets from Jim Bracken to Jim Bracken’s estate, which happened when Jim Bracken died. That was in 1984. The federal government agreed not to collect the tax on Jim’s estate until Sharon died, which was in 2006. But the taxable event on Jim’s estate had occurred 22 years earlier. The payout of Jim’s assets to his heirs in 2006 was a distribution, not a transfer. An estate tax has to be levied on the transfer to an estate. And a tax passed in 2005 could not reach back to a transfer in 1984.
The state’s attorney, Charles Zalesky, argued that “Congress and the Legislature are not constrained by property law concepts on when a transfer occurs.” Zalesky argued that the transfer occurred when Sharon died, and the state could tax it.
The justices ruled, 9-0, for the estate of Bracken. Six justices agreed that an estate tax is a tax on the transfer of property at death, and that in 2006 there was no transfer of Jim Bracken’s property for the state to tax. Three justices argued that there was such a transfer but that it wasn’t taxable.
Now the Legislature proposes to undo this decision. Whether its attempt at retroactive law will hold up in court is a question for another day.
June 13, 2013 at 11:54 AM
News of Gannett's pending purchase of Belo's television stations is not good. The Dallas-based company's stewardship of television stations across the country has long set the gold standard for local broadcast journalism.
This could result in a huge loss for viewers in the Pacific Northwest, where Belo runs news stalwarts like KING5 in Seattle (a Seattle Times news partner), KREM in Spokane, KTVB in Boise, KGW in Portland and Northwest Cable News, which spans the entire tri-state region.
I've never worked for any of the company's affiliates, but I've worked as a television reporter in Boise and Portland where I had to compete against their people and their resources. It was never easy.
What sets a Belo station apart? Belo's stations are hard to beat because their leadership is competent, their on-air talent is consistent, and for all the problems inherent in feeding the so-called TV news beast, they have a tradition of producing high-quality content for local television and digital viewers.
Every broadcast reporter I know wants to work for a Belo station. At journalism job fairs, their booths are always mobbed.
I can see why their properties would be appealing. The stations are in growing markets and tend to dominate or stay right at the top of news ratings.
When KOMO TV was sold to Sinclair a few months ago, I had industry friends point out that things might be okay because out-of-state Belo has maintained a strong sense of integrity in its ownership of KING5.
What happens now if the Gannett deal goes through? I can't predict the details, but expect a fundamental shift in how business is done. Gannett is massive and already owns 23 other television stations. How much will the McLean, Va., corporation care about the city of Seattle and its surrounding areas? I don't know.
Local television news remains an integral part of so many lives. When breaking news happens, they become even more critical. When ownership changes, our community loses a sense of certainty in a station — a critical thing for any company to have when it is responsible for delivering credible information to the masses. Media ownership isn't just about shares, stocks and diversification; it's about independence and the greater purpose of keeping people informed so that communities can be safe and our democracy can thrive.
Anyone else have their eyes glued to the screen during the Interstate 5 bridge collapse over the Skagit River? I was flipping between local channels for hours. In my humble opinion, KING5 offered the best, most analytical, accurate coverage. I heard a reporter on another channel refer to eyewitness reports of fatalities at the scene, which turned out to be totally false. Meanwhile, KING brought on Glenn Farley to explain bridge structures. The difference was night and day. One station offered sensation; the other gave us context to the best of its ability during a volatile situation. That is a reflection of good ownership.
Be skeptical of this Gannett deal. Belo needs to explain why its shedding its broadcast stations. Is this really the only path forward?
June 13, 2013 at 6:20 AM
The University of Washington wants to stretch the feds' traditionally narrow definition of transportation infrastructure to include the bike and pedestrian super-highway of the Burke-Gilman trail.
The UW's application for a $12 million federal TIGER grant, submitted last month, would create separate pedestrian, running and bike lanes on the the 1.7-mile stretch of trail through the campus. The intent is to respond to already-crowded conditions on the trial, and to prepare for projected growth in use of the trail when the Link light rail station opens in 2016, said Josh Kavanagh, UW's transportation director.
"If we don't so something, the conditions would be unsafe," he said.
What's innovative here is the reach for a TIGER grant. The U.S. Department of Transportation's TIGER grants, which are highly competitive, usually go to "road, rail, transit and port projects that promise to achieve critical national objectives." The state won a $10 million grant for a rail project in Spokane in 2012 and $15 million for Interstate 5 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2011.
Seizing a TIGER grant for a bike project is rare but not without precedent. At the National Bike Summit in April, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said $130 million in TIGER grants had been previously awarded nationwide to bike-pedestrian projects, although most went to help seed bike-share projects. And with $500 million or so granted a year, bike projects have taken a back seat.
Using precious transportation dollars for bike infrastructure, of course, is red meat for the carbon-fuel loving crowd. To those folks I say, hope you're enjoying your climate change. Reducing carbon fuels, and building denser cities of the future, requires full embrace of bike infrastructure.
The future is already here for the Burke-Gilman. About 1,000 pedestrians and bikers use the Burke-Gilman during evening rush hour right now, making it a carbon-free highway. By 2030, about 1,000 pedestrians and 1,600 bikers are projected to be on the trail at rush hour, Kavanagh said.
The projected re-build would add an underpass at the busy UW entrance off Montlake Boulevard (photo to the right), would widen the trail for walkers and runners, and add an elevated cycle track on a slight berm. Overall, it would cost about $26 million, and could be finished before the Link station opening in 2016.
The state Congressional delegation, including Republican Rep. Dave Reichert, have signed on in support. Sen. Patty Murray sent a letter to LaHood. Kavanagh acknowledges the rarity of getting TIGER dollars for bikes, but thinks the UW has a good case. "What’s unique about the Burke-Gilman is, this is not your father’s trail. It’s a major piece of transportation infrastructure. It’s not just a recreation corridor. It’s a travel corridor first."
A decision is expected in September.
June 13, 2013 at 6:00 AM
Comprehensive immigration reform is easy to bash when you look at a bunch of policy reforms on paper.
Many Americans get it. Some don't. This is really about people. Living, breathing human beings. There's no better way to understand the need for changes to the way we treat the issue of citizenship in the United States than to hear the personal stories of individuals who are living in the shadows.
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray delivered a strong opening speech before Congress Wednesday as the chamber opened the floodgates to a national debate on reforming immigration laws. She outlined a pragmatic approach to the problem while standing beside a a giant poster-sized photo of two Washington state sisters, Mari and Adriana Barrera. The two were raised by a single mother and began working from a young age. When one sibling fell terribly ill, the other pledged to become a doctor. Unfortunately, she recently had to drop out of the University of Washington because she could not afford tuition and did not qualify for financial aid. That's the price young people have to pay when they are raised in and thrive in the U.S., but lack a valid nine-digit code known as a social security number. It's inhumane for us to limit their talent and brain power, which are often cultivated in American schools.
Watch Murray's 15-minute speech below. As the debate continues, I hope other lawmakers bring forth similar stories of determination and survival. They should remember these stories before they vote.
Whatever happens in Washington, D. C. in the coming months will affect our state in profound ways, whether we're talking about laying the groundwork for the high-tech sector to maintain jobs here or keeping up with the labor demands of our agricultural economy. As this February Slate map shows, there are approximately 230,000 undocumented immigrants within Washington. They make up about 3 percent of our statewide population and 5 percent of our total labor force (and very likely a much higher percentage of our farm workers).
"The millions of undocumented families in or country are already an important part of our communities. Immigrants work hard. They send their children to schools throughout this country. They pay their taxes. And they help weave the fabric of our society. In all but name, they are Americans," Murray said in her speech.
Yup. I couldn't agree more. C'mon, Congress. Take the opportunity this year to pass comprehensive immigration reform and change millions of lives for the better.
June 12, 2013 at 11:48 AM
Guest columnist Danielle Campoamor calls Seattle's dating scene dysfunctional and says it's because men are too timid to approach women. If you missed it, check out her Saturday guest column, What's wrong with Seattle's dating scene. She also spoke to KIRO radio about her column.
Do you think it's true that Seattle men are more timid and shy than men elsewhere? Do you have another explanation? Or do you think Seattle's dating scene is totally normal?
Join us for a live chat with Campoamor, a Seattle freelance writer, at noon on Wednesday, June 12.
We want to hear from men, straight or gay, and women whether you've shared her experience.
Can't make the chat? Let us know in our online poll whether you agree with Campoamor.
Update 4:24 p.m.
Danny O'Neil, 710 ESPN Seattle radio host and former Seattle Times sports reporter, will be stopping by at 12:30 p.m. during the Wednesday chat to talk about how he failed to ask me out. "Me" as in Sharon. Not Danielle. Danny and I are now married.
Update 6/11/2013 5:41 p.m.
We are bringing on another man's perspective: Rishad Quazi, who leads the Seattle Singles Meetup group and works in the tech sector. The group has 7,000 members, which he says makes it the largest Meetup group in the area. Quazi has lived in cities all around the world, and has called Seattle home since 2005.
He disagrees with Campoamor about Seatle's dating scene and this city's male disposition, but he's saving his thoughts for the chat. Tune in at noon Wednesday to hear from Quazi.
June 12, 2013 at 7:10 AM
The federal Environmental Protection Agency is collecting public comments through the end of June on a proposed mining operation near Alaska’s salmon-rich Bristol Bay. In a pointed letter to President Obama, five West Coast senators expressed their concerns about the fishery resources and regional economic bounty threatened by the massive project.
The June 10 letter to the White House, copied to lots of administration officials, is signed by Washington Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, and California Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer. The five Democrats cite a new report by the University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research that not only describes Bristol Bay’s impact in Alaska, but also its economic clout in Washington, Oregon and California.
The senators want the White House to dispatch staff from the Council on Environmental Quality and the Department of Commerce to discuss the report. Yes, do take a close look at the numbers. Here is a link to a summary of the ISER findings.
The report found that commercial fishing activity in Bristol Bay generates $1.5 billion in economic activity for Alaskans. The report also found that Bristol Bay salmon fishing and processing is worth $674 million in Washington, Oregon and California. That translates into 12,000 seasonal jobs and an estimated 6,000 fulltime jobs in the three states.
“Water contamination and habitat loss from the construction and operation of a hard rock mine in Bristol Bay would put thousands of fishery-related family wage jobs at risk,” the lawmakers wrote Obama.
The proposed Pebble Mine creates environmental hazards that will exist for decades – centuries. Early analysis by the EPA has already raised doubts about the project. The timely expression of concern by the senators is welcome. A recent Seattle Times editorial also urges the protection of Bristol Bay.
June 12, 2013 at 6:12 AM
Seattle’s traffic cameras, which issue $189 tickets for driving faster than 20 miles per hour in a school zone, have raised $3.3 million since the city started fining drivers Dec. 10. The cameras are by four schools, making the revenue $825,000 per location in six months.
Mayor Mike McGinn announced Tuesday that the city will install speed cameras in five new locations. The man knows a good investment when he sees one.
If the reader detects some cynicism here, and maybe even a dash of bias, it is probably so. I paid one of those $189 tickets. The camera photographed me zooming north on the broad, straight arterial of 5th Avenue Northeast, in optimum visibility conditions, at the breakneck speed of 27 miles per hour. No schoolchildren going to Olympic View Elementary were present, but that didn’t matter. I had to pay.
“Our goal is not to write tickets, it’s to reduce speed.” That is what McGinn said last fall when the cameras went up. And the cameras do scare drivers into slowing down. But excuse my cynicism if I think reducing speed is not city officials' only goal.
June 12, 2013 at 6:00 AM
My anger boiled over at this Times story about a rape victim suing the City of Lynnwood after police did not believe she had been assaulted.
In August 2008, a serial rapist broke into the apartment of an 18-year-old woman and raped her. Two Lynnwood detectives, for reasons they should be compelled to now explain, did not believe the woman, despite a medical exam that found injuries consistent with rape. Adding insult to horrific injury, police charged her with making a false report and she was fined $500.
Fast-forward 2-1/2 years, past the weeks, months and years of emotional hell this woman endured, to the capture of her rapist for several assaults in Colorado. Detectives there found photographs of the woman and her ID card in the possession of a former Washington state resident, Marc O'Leary. Not even the Lynnwood police could ignore that kind of evidence. They re-opened the case. Voila! O’Leary was convicted of raping five women, three in Colorado and two in Washington state - besides the Lynnwood woman, O'Leary raped a 63-year-old Kirkland woman. He is serving a 327-year prison sentence in Colorado. Good. Justice served.
Now for justice from the Lynnwood police department. To get it the victim has filed a federal civil-rights lawsuit against the city of Lynnwood, the police chief and two detectives, one who has left the department and one who is still there. She says detectives disregarded evidence of the rape, bullied her into saying it didn't happen and threatened to kick her out of her apartment when she tried to tell the truth.
There should be hell to pay.
I do not know how this woman held onto her sanity. She endured a brutal attack and for a long while, no one believed her. The very least the Lynnwood police department can do is nix any defensiveness or effort to protect their brothers in blue. Take responsibility. It is the least they can do for her, since once before they did nothing.
The woman had been living at Cocoon House, a residential at-risk youth program. Apparently no adult there believed her either. Cocoon House CEO Cassie Franklin is quoted in the Times story as saying the program and its employees acted appropriately. Then they believed her when she told them she had been assaulted? What steps were then taken to help her? Police reports? Sexual assault counseling?
This goes beyond one vulnerable woman taken advantage of in more ways than one. More than half of all sexual assaults go unreported, according to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network. At least some of the victims may fear that like the Lynnwood woman, they'll be branded a liar, and worse, charged with a crime and forced to pay restitution while the real criminal goes free.
June 11, 2013 at 6:16 AM
The state Legislature's embrace of Medicaid expansion has the potential to revolutionize mental health care in Washington State.
But the transition into Medicaid expansion will be rocky. Exhibit A & B are the House and Senate budgets now pending in Olympia. Each assumes Medicaid expansion will reduce the need for so-called "state only" mental health funding. For King County, the House Democrats' budget reduces state-only funding by about $5 million in the 2013-15 biennium; the Senate assumes closer to $8 million.
State-only money covers services that Medicaid will not, including short-term psychiatric hospitalizations in facilities with more than 16 beds. That's a particular problem in King County, because it depends heavily on Navos in West Seattle and Fairfax Hospital, which are too big to get Medicaid reimbursement.
And access to inpatient psychiatric care is already disastrous in King County. As I've written, and the Times has editorialized about, each night dozens of patients are "boarded" in emergency rooms because there's no place else for them to go. The numbers are staggering - 2,160 patients in King County alone were boarded - in conditions a Pierce County Superior Court judge recently ruled were unconstitutional.
The current budget proposals will make that worse, Navos CEO David Johnson wrote in a letter to Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle, chair of the House Health Care committee.
"We currently have too few beds for too many involuntary patients. Slashing funding that pays for hospitalizations is not a viable solution and will only exacerbate an already terrible problem in inadequate access to care," he wrote.
King County mental health director Amnon Schoenfeld agreed. Medicaid expansion may help seed more care in the long term, he said, but King County has already seen state-only funding drop from $45 million five years ago to $36 million in 2012.
"They’re making all these assumptions on Medicaid expansion. I think there will be some (additional revenue), but don’t know how much," he said.
The House budget effectively delays some state-only funding cuts to the second year of the biennium, but not enough, said Schoenfeld. "If you’re going to cut, just give us some more breathing room."
When I reached Cody in Olympia, she sighed. "In case no one noticed, we have a budget problem," she said.
Statewide, Medicaid expansion will add a net $26 million to the mental health budget, plus about $17 million more intended to expand inpatient psychiatric care due to account for a broadened definition of involuntary treatment. But Cody acknowledges that the cut in state-only funding hits King County harder than other counties. "No matter how we do it, there’s winners and losers."
This post, originally published at 6:16 a.m. on June 11, 2013 was corrected at 12:51 p.m. on June 11, 2013. An earlier version incorrectly stated that a Pierce County Superior Court judge had ruled that boarding psychiatric patients in emergency rooms was constitutional. It was ruled unconstitutional.
June 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
This time ought to be the charm for the landmark Farm Bill which cleared the U.S. Senate Monday with key provisions adding agriculture jobs and bolstering nutrition in the school lunch program.
About 16 million jobs, many in Washington state will be created by the five-year measure setting federal food and farming policy for the next decade. This Times editorial praised two important proposals by U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash. The first would add peas, lentils, chickpeas and beans to school cafeteria menus.
The second would drive $25 million in research of "pulse crops," essentially lentils, chickpeas and other legumes. Research into the crops' effect on obesity and chronic diseases adds an important public health benefit.
"The bipartisan passage of this Farm Bill is a win-win for Washington state: it means jobs for our agriculture producers and keeps our students healthy and ready to learn," Cantwell said in a statement following the Senate vote.
The legislation will cost about $100 billion annually. It is a huge sum to be sure, but thoughtful restraint led the Senate to enact efficient changes, including eliminating subsidies paid to farmers whether they farm or not. A $4 billion cut in the $80 billion federal food stamp program over the next decade is painful. The House has threatened to quadruple the Senate's cut in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program; lawmakers should not.
Speaking of that other chamber, House members are expected to take up the bill next week. Washington's entire delegation should fight any effort to repeat last year's implosion over a 2012 version of the bill. The political winds are blowing against Republican intransigence. The Senate's bipartisan 66-27 roll call vote exceeded last year’s political margin with 18 Republicans joining Democrats this time around. Speaker John Boehner should take the vote as a sign that some in his party want to get the Farm Bill done and move on. Boehner should help them.
June 11, 2013 at 6:00 AM
My best friend's husband recently started a co-ed rec soccer team. I joined. We're on turf every Wednesday. Win or lose, watching or playing — everyone has a great time. I always think to myself, "Dude. Soccer rocks." The sport is also a global phenomenon that cuts across political, language and cultural barriers.
That's why I'm excited to take my dad to CenturyLink Stadium tonight to see the U.S. men's team face Panama in a World Cup qualifier match. I don't think he has been on the sidelines of any sporting event since my weekend soccer games in middle school. Tuesday's game will mark his first time watching live professional soccer since he arrived in the United States in 1979. Back in his native Vietnam, soccer is the national pastime. (My soccer-crazed grandfather keeps a television set in his rural farmhouse outside Ho Chi Minh City for the sole purpose of watching games.) When my parents were both teachers in Saigon, they lived right across from Cong Hoa Stadium, renamed Thong Nhat Stadium after the fall of Saigon. They became regular spectators of soccer games at the 25,000-capacity venue. Throughout the 1970s, friends and family members would meet at their apartment before walking over to the field to cheer on visiting teams. Another time, my dad took students from his school to a sister school in Da Lat to play in a soccer tournament. It was a big deal for the kids. He refereed a match between the teachers. His voice gets excited and his face really lights up when he recalls those memories.
As The Seattle Times' Joel Petterson writes in this charming report, the last time U.S. Soccer made an appearance in the Emerald City, the year was 1976, the Kingdome was still around and the national league had just hired its very first full-time coach. The Americans were the underdogs, but they won that game, 2-0.
Thirty-seven years later, the U.S. men's team is on a winning streak, my parents live in Olympia and World Cup soccer is paying a rare visit to Seattle.
I can't wait to sit in the stands with my dad and at least 37,000 other spectators. Seeing the home team compete for national pride and a shot at the 2014 World Cup will be a special experience for us both. He'll get re-acquainted with a game that's familiar to him. I'll be there to (hopefully) help him chant, "Goaaaaal, USA!"
The game kicks off at 7:08 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN.
June 10, 2013 at 1:16 PM
Civil Disagreement pits two members of the Seattle Times editorial board against each other on a question. Here Lance Dickie (left) and Jonathan Martin debate the decision by Edward Snowden and Bradley Manning to disclose confidential information about the U.S. government.
Achenblog by Joel Achenbach
Postman On Politics