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April 2006


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Posted April 28, 2006
To be rich, tall and skinny

Mayor Nickels's dream of a denser downtown providing affordable housing for all is already starting to pay off! The PSBJ reports that Samis Land Co. is partnering with Opus NWR Development on the first of the new taller, skinnier buildings made possible by all-but-certain downtown rezoning.

The new building at 1521 Second will offer 143 condos, reports PSBJ, and will be open in 2008. The P-I reported in a box at the top of yesterday morning's Business section that the starting price for a unit is around one meeellion dollars.

What an excellent precedent; I guess I need to start saving. If all the new downtown housing is going to be that nice, why would anyone ever want to go outside? There won't be a need for new downtown parks and schools, and we'll all save! Thanks Mister Mayor, now I wish I'd voted for you.

We'll be right back.

Do you like to vacation? Ride bikes? Dress up like a real soldier? If you do, you might have the talent to be a President, dictator, strongman or caudillo! Hi, I'm Mariam Abacha—wife to the late Nigerian Head of State, General Sanni Abacha, who died on the 8th of June, 1998 while still on active duty—speaking for the Political Art Institute of Nigeria. You've probably always wondered if you would make a beloved leader for your people, and now all you need to find out is take this simple test:

You lied your nation into war. Do you...
a) find out who is responsible; make sure it never happens again
b) bring your troops home
c) trot out a new excuse; pretend it doesn't contradict previous excuses.

A number of your agencies handle domestic security, emergency preparedness and relief. Do you...
a) staff them with qualified managers
b) listen to their expert advisors
c) weaken them by staffing them with incompetents, muzzle experts who disagree with you, and outsource functions to your political cronies.

A law requires you get warrants before you wiretap people's phones. Do you...
a) you get warrants, because it's the law
b) ignore the law, because why should the head of state have to bother?
c) don't get warrants, but say you did.

Gas prices are too high. Do you...
a) tax windfall profits
b) call your oil company friends and ask them to cool it
c) suspend pollution regulations.

If you answered "c" to all the above, you have the talent to be a fascist dictator! Call our toll free number today and we'll send you an email describing how you can enroll with only a modest financial commitment on your part! I must also use this opportunity to implore you to exercise the utmost indulgence to keep this matter extraordinarily confidential, whatever your decision, while I await your prompt response.

There's a kind of hush. News broke Thursday that the Resmuglican House Majority Leader is going to allow a floor debate on Iraq:

Four House Republicans have signed a Democratic-sponsored discharge petition that would begin 17 hours of debate over Iraq on the House floor. The Republicans signed on because GOP leaders had ignored their requests for a debate, said Rep. Walter Jones (R-N.C.), one of the four mavericks.

[Majority Leader John] Boehner told colleagues about his plan for debate on Iraq yesterday morning during a closed-door meeting of the Republican Conference... Boehner's remarks, which were unexpected, caused a hush to fall over the audience, said Rep. Wayne Gilchrest (R-Md.), ...one of the four GOP signatories to the Democratic discharge petition.
...
[Rep. Neil] Abercrombie [D-HI], who launched the discharge petition, said he hopes the petition and the accompanying resolution will be used as the vehicle for debate since supporters worked hard to make it bipartisan.

Boehner told his colleagues they would not debate the Abercrombie resolution. Instead, he said, they would debate a resolution produced by the Republican-controlled House International Relations Committee, but it is unknown what form that resolution will take. Source

The Resmuglican rats are beginning to get off the sinking S.S. Thirty-Five Percent.

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Posted April 26, 2006
Therefore be it resolved

I love the move by state legislatures in California, Vermont and Illinois to force impeachment proceedings by using Sec. 603 of Thomas Jefferson's Manual of Rules of the House.

It's elegant, it's an appropriate state-level response to the unresponsive Resmuglican Congress, and what's more, it is a move that honors history. It's delicious that the Resmuglicans adopted the Manual unaware the provision has been in the Rules for 200-odd years. They ignore history because that is where their mistakes live.

Hey Democratic-controlled Washington Legislature: where's our House Joint Resolution on impeachment?

Tony Snow is taking over from Scott McLyin, but an important question has been lost in all the hoopla: what idiotic frat boy name will Dubya give Snow? Snow Job? Snow Ball? Flake? Snort? White Powder? Now taking nominations!

Seattle Center needs a makeover, most agree. The work has proceeded gradually--the International Fountain, Fisher Pavilion, EMP, and McCaw Hall to name a few. Now we need a major push to finish the job, and I have just the project to serve as a centerpiece: upgrading KeyArena for basketball! All we need is a couple hundred million dollars in taxes, and let the Sonics keep all the revenue, even from concerts and Star Trek conventions. This will act to drive the remainder of Seattle Center improvements, securing this civic jewel for the 21st century, and- HEY! Uh-oh. Greg Nickels?! What do you think you're doing? Oh; hey- What the hell are you doing in my blog??? Sorry. Out! But- Get out!!!

Berger:Avoid upscale preciousness

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Posted April 21, 2006
Take this

Yesterday we had an interesting show & tell at my workplace. Dave Batker of Earth Economics (neé Asia Pacific Environmental Exchange) gave a talk about assigning economic value to things our ecosystems do for us. These things are called "ecosystem services," and it comes from a wonky branch of environmentalism that started taking off in the late 1990s.

What Batker et al are talking about are ecological goods and services. Not only do these include things with idiosyncratic value like recreation and scenic beauty, but also oxygen generation, decomposition of waste, flood and drought control, water filtration, climate control, and on and on. Forests alone provide 23 identifiable services.

Most people think this all happens for free, but environmental economists value these ecosystem services by estimating what it would cost if we had to pay to replace these natural-occuring services with manmade facilities: water treatment plants for instance, or flood control levees.

Batker's stump speech (no pun intended) is very close to this opinion piece that ran last year in the News Tribune.

This bears directly on the I-933 "takings" initiative, the right-wing temper tantrum that is a backlash to attempts to control the impact of development on the environment. I-933 proponents act as if their existing and potential property values are the only value involved. But ecosystem service value gives a more complete picture: it shows the costs individual property owners pass on to the rest of us if they are allowed to do what they want with their land, unregulated.

Pave over an aquifer? Taxpayers have to shell out for water treatment and stormwater control. Rip out a wetland? That calls for flood control projects.

Because of these shared costs, the idea that property owners must be compensated for "takings" grows more and more ludicrous. Besides, property development is speculative; why should taxpayers agree to make such investments free of risk?

By the way, I've heard tell that a Frontier Bank branch in Kitsap County is prominently featuring I-933 petitions in its front window. Greenies with Frontier accounts may want to seek clarification from the bank about its official stance on the initiative.

Earth Economics
Untold Value: Nature's Services in Washington State
Robert Costanza,
economist

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Posted April 19, 2006
The bus is the worst type of transit

Except for all the others. I say that because although it is slow, can be crowded, and can have a nausea-inducing ride, the bus is the most widely available and therefore egalitarian transport alternative currently in existence.

Available means access--anywhere in the city you need walk just a few blocks, and there's a bus stop where you can catch a ride, usually several times an hour at least. This is in marked contrast to Sounder commuter rail, with few depots and service only during mudslide-free rush hours. Or the upcoming light rail, which will be great if your origin and destination happen to be near one of the stations.

So after years of high profile attention on rail-based megaprojects that seem to be more about gentrification, it was with great pleasure that I read about Ron Sims's plan to increase the frequency and availability of bus service along maybe three dozen routes.

It's a great idea, and I'm happy to endorse the idea without any trace of snark whatsoever, because it means better, faster service on the existing transit system—and relatively soon. No "pay now, maybe good but limited service later after years of disruptive construction."

I even support Sims's idea to fund the increased service with a sales tax hike-- 0.1%, or 1 cent on a $10 price tag.

It would be more appropriate, though, if it was 0.25% during peak hours and 0.1% off-peak.

What we don't need however is any attempt to link this proposal with Mayor Horizontal's idea for a vague transportation tax ballot measure. Frankly, I just don't trust him to not piggyback wasteful vanity projects onto requests for the sidewalk & maintenance backlog and basic transit needs.

Speaking of Hizzoner:

Campaign donation transforms public space into hotel?
Nickels backs out of transpo pact
State decries "bad faith", bully tactics

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Posted April 17, 2006
MegaRich Little

I have it on good authority that the highlight of the Roulstone fundraiser was when Bill Gates entertained Dick Cheney with his impression (left, below) of Scooter Libby (right).

After Bill meets Chinese leader Hu Jintao on Wednesday, he'll need to meet him again an hour later.

If you bought the hard copy version of this morning's P-I, you might have noticed the article on Dale Chihuly. You might also have noticed the photo (A9) of Chihuly painting on the deck of his lakeshore studio under the Ship Canal Bridge. Paint dripping between the deck planks into Lake Union. Hope it's not lead-based paint.

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Posted April 14, 2006
Bad Company

The problem with last week's P-I story about Wallingford Center's woes (Renovation tests patience of merchants, shoppers, April 8) is that it was nothing more than a pulse-taking. Further, it ignored the long history of the retail anchor's troubles, blaming problems on

...more recent renovation project at the center that has dragged on for more than a year has left merchants weary and shoppers wary.
     Many owners have closed their shops and left the center. Those remaining say they are confident that business will rebound once the work is done. But for now, they are holding on by their fingernails. Source

No mention of the history of high tenant turnover, of escalating rents that for years has been forcing out a series of otherwise successful shops and restaurants.

No mention, either, of the building's owner, the Seattle Public Schools, and how revenue problems at Wallingford Center means less revenue for the school district. No mention why the district is keeping management firm Lorig under contract, or what possesses Lorig to continue to pump money into a property it doesn't even own.

The problem was that the P-I assigned the story to the business section, when it should have been assigned to an investigative reporter.

Blarchive: Who killed Au Bouchon restaurant? (2/17)

Nutria

Imagine my surprise at seeing today's headline, Bucktoothed rodent joins region's invasive species. I didn't know Senator Norm Coleman (R-MN) had moved here.



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Posted April 7, 2006
Just following hors d'oeuvres

And now, a news update from the Mr_Blog bureau in Chefornak, Alaska. Substituting for Mr_Blog: Tim Snide.

Hello everyone, the Plamegate investigation developed a new wrinkle yesterday. According to a court filing by Special Counsel Patrick J. Fitzgerald, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby said President Bush was the White House official who authorized him to disclose highly sensitive intelligence information to the news media. Beltway insiders say this sets the stage for Libby's defense to claim that he believed the disclosure was legal.

When asked to comment, the President denied knowing himself:

"I've heard the name, but I've never met me. I meet a lot of people in the White House. Lots of events. People coming through all the time. So I may have met myself. But I don't recall."

An international team that includes National Geographic announced yesterday it had completed restoration and translation of the Gospel of Judas.

The Bible's other gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John depict Judas as the betrayer of Jesus. But the Gospel of Judas describes him as acting at Jesus' request. Judas was told by Jesus that while he would be "cursed" by future generations, eventually he would "rule over them." The other major disclosure: Judas is identified as the person who gave the name of an undercover CIA operative to New York Times reporter Judith Miller.
Mr. Harry Taylor

In science, NASA has announced a new manned space program. Destination for the quickly planned mission: Quaoar, the new planet discovered in 2002, located beyond the orbit of Pluto

Assigned to the mission is novice citizen astronaut Harry Taylor, a North Carolina real estate broker. He was not available for comment, although his companions on the one-way journey, Pauly Shore and J. Alexander, posed for photographers.

That concludes this news update, we'll be back at the top of the hour. Now stay tuned for "Two & A Half Men."

Blarchives: The Slam Book®

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Posted April 5, 2006
The Single Issue

This morning the Connelly is running some reader feedback on his skewering last week of "the left's" targeting of Maria Cantwell. Connelly's thesis was that local liberals seem to be more critical of their own than the Resmuglicans, so some of the comments he chooses to publish help him make his original point. One wrote:

I am a 50-year old Democrat who will be voting for a Republican (to defeat Cantwell) for the first time in my life.

And another:

"She can do all she wants that's good for the environment, but if she still supports our insane continued invasion of Iraq, she's gotta go."

That's real good. You're anti-war, so you replace Cantwell with—a pro-war Resmuglican. That's teaching the warmongers a lesson!

One thing I've suspected over the years is that activists who are way out on the right or left extremes sometimes act as though actually getting what they want would be bad for bidness—where does the revolution/counterrevolution go once it succeeds? In Mexico they tried to institutionalize it: Institutional Revolutionary Party. Talk about contradiction.

But now I'm coming around to a different conclusion. Single-issue voters aren't liberal, or conservative. They are just doctrinaire, folks who can't get past their own ideology to see political reality (and sometimes facts). Cantwell didn't do everything we want, so we're going to make her pay.

Anti-Cantwellites: join me in voting for Mark Wilson in the primary. That's how those of us to her left will make known our displeasure over her Iraq and PATRIOT votes. But when Maria goes on to the general election, we all must get behind her, because Mike McGavick is not going to have a Saul of Tarsus moment on the road to Baghdad.

Plus, if Cantwell loses and Democrats fall one seat short of taking back the Senate, Washington's anti-war single-issue community will have a lot to answer for. Remember it's the Senate that conducts the impeachment trial.

After a recent brush with COBRA, health insurance is rapidly becoming my single issue. So it's interesting to see the Massachusetts bipartisan love-in over their new plan for almost-universal coverage. Noteworthy is the big compromise to require both employer and individual mandates. What still bugs me is the lexicon of the battle: it's still being referred to as "health care reform," when what is being reformed is health insurance. Our doctors tend not to be the problem, the problem is (has always been) our insurers.

I wouldn't quite say I'm getting on the bandwagon, but after two games I'm cautiously optimistic about the 2006 edition of the Mariners. Jamie seemed shaky in Game 1, but pitched well enough to win. One supposes Bartolo Colon had something to do with the outcome. Game 2's Joel Pineiro was an express train except for a lapse in the top of the 6th. Two whiffs of 2001: with home runs in each game, Kenji may be an Ichiro with more power; doesn't Yuniesky Betancourt standing at the plate look like a clone of Mark McLemore?

Numerologyndent"> Numerology. An acquaintance informs us that, later today (as well as earlier today), it will be 1:02 and 3 seconds, on 4/5/06. We passed this tidbit on to another friend, who had a birthday on 9/9/99. She replied that her brother is going to have a birthday on 10/10/10.

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Posted April 1, 2006
Latin America

The Right is so far out on the fringes, it's fallen off the edge of the Earth. Here's something about one of their trailblazers:

Minister's quest:
no more "homo sapiens"

(Algona, WA) A fundamentalist minister in this small community near Seattle is attracting nationwide attention to his controversial new campaign.
     Pastor Gary K. Frandle of the Algona First Congregational Bible Church and Espresso announced his quest to change the human species' Latin name to hetero sapien during an appearance on the Michael Medved radio program.
     "The very word 'homo' offends the sensibilities of God-fearing people, not to mention God Himself," Frandle said. "Hetero sapien is the right name for our society, which prizes heterosexuality as normal and acceptable."
     Frandle said he became aware of the need for the name change when his daughter Bethany, a seventh grader at Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Junior High School, reported that the mere mention of 'homo sapien' never failed to elicit giggles in biology class.
     "Our public schools shouldn't be teaching unproven theories like biology in the first place," said Frandle. He said that academic subjects take time away from basic education, such as prayer, afterschool religious clubs, and military recruiting.

Also: GOP Chair boosts Green.

GOP maven praises Dixon
(Sources) Aaron Dixon, declared Green Party candidate for U.S. Senate, has generated controversy both for his role as a potential spoiler in the Maria Cantwell-Mike McGavick race, and the revelation that he has never voted in an election.
     But Republican State Chair Diane Tebelius is a Dixon admirer. Speaking yesterday to a GOP gathering at the Bellevue Square Crate & Barrel, Tebelius praised Dixon as "her kind of liberal," choosing to see Dixon's longtime failure to vote in a different light.
     "Voting is like a donation," said Tebelius. "Voters can be viewed as one-person special interest groups, and a candidate that accepts a vote is beholden to that special interest," Tebelius said. "As a nonvoter, Aaron is perhaps the ultimate in clean candidate. He won't even be beholden to himself."

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There is 1 comment
April 09, 2006 - 00:05
Subject: The Single Issue

Yeah, dude, I'm totally down for Mark Wilson. I just wish he was more into doing an interview with me. He seems to have been a little standoffish so far, although I hope that's just temporary.

It'd be great to have an avalanche of truly democratic support for a candidate who challenges so clearly on the biggest issues of the day. I guess we'll jsut wait and see. But I am telling everyone to keep challenging Cantwell, don't let her slide through this "Free trade" thing. This stuff is killing children, it's weakening our national sovereignty, it's increasing illegal immigration, and it has to stop. Let's make sure Cantwell understands that these aren't single-issue voters she's messing with, they're true patriots, who want all workers to be treated fairly, in Iraq and everywhere else.

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