Monthly Archives: December 2009

Metro bus bomb threat closes street briefly; all over in matter of minutes

Police are evacuating homes and businesses near along 10th Ave after receiving information that there may be a bomb aboard a Metro bus. 
 6:06PM I’ve been told the call about the threat first came in from the #49 bus. A squad of investigators is examing a possible explosive device on the bus.

NBA team, expand light rail, legalize pot–they’re among public’s Top 20 ideas for Seattle

You may recall that Mike McGinn’s “open-source” transition to his mayoral post encourages the public to tell him their top ideas for Seattle, and so far two ideas have shot to the top, garnering the most votes on his web site: “Expand as much light rail and subway as possible” stands far and above at No. 1. Lagging  behind at No. 2, “legalize marijuana and tax it.”

And McGinn is in favor of both.

Well, what other top vote-getters?

Here are the top 20, as excerpted from the open-source web site:


  1. 1,149 votes

    Expand as much light rail and subway as possible

    Seattleites have resorted to using mediocre and unreliable bus transportation as the only mode of mass transit since the failure of Forward Thrust. Expand light rail on the west side, connect neighborhoods like UW, Ballard, Fremont, Wallingford, etc. Look for smart financing methods to grade se… More

  2. 810 votes

    Legalize marijuana and tax it.

    Just Do It! The city would make a LOT of money on this. It’s already happening so why not bring it out in the open and treat it like the business it is. Take the profit motive away from the drug gangs and let us law abiding citizens enjoy a toke without worry.

  3. There is some talk that Elliott Bay Book Company may move to Capitol Hill. I love EBBC and would hate to see them move, but I wouldn’t blame them. If they move I blame the city which has allowed Pioneer Square to rot. Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman was right when he criticized Seattle for the ne… More

  4. 435 votes

    Make Seattle the first US city to be carbon neutral

    A number of the ideas already proposed (unifying transportation systems, more mass transit, bicycle right-of-way improvements, higher density, green innovation) can all be included in this one target. We should aim to be carbon neutral by 2030. Any new city policy or law should be judged on wheth… More

  5. 384 votes

    Set aside park beach areas for European-style, clothing-optional recreation (sunbathe + skinny dip)

    The Greater Seattle Area has long hosted the world’s most renowned, colorful, family-friendly and free-spirited clothing-optional cultural events and groups in the world including: The Fremont Solstice Cyclists (17 years), World Naked Bike Ride, Body Pride Ride, Seattle Free Beach Campaign, Garde… More

  6. 340 votes

    Create a lid over I-5 in Seattle

    I-5 creates a divide between Downtown Seattle/Lake Union and the densely populated Capitol Hill area. A lid should be placed over it (from Pike St to Mercer St or further) and have the lid contain a large open park with features such tennis courts, baseball fields and other related recreational f… More

  7. 328 votes

    Install sidewalks throughout Seattle

    Many Seattle streets do not have sidewalks or curbs installed, especially in south Seattle. Pedestrians, children, dogs and dog walkers, are forced to share the road with cars that go too fast and pay too little attention. For the safety and ascetics of neighborhoods throughout Seattle, a sidew… More

  8. 303 votes

    Bring an anchor tenant back to key arena

    the health of key arena is very important to me. that said, if we can find a fair, fiscally responsible deal that is not overwhelmingly on the backs of taxpayers to renovate key arena and bring an anchor tenant like an NBA team back to seattle center., we should consider it. working with the new … More

  9. 273 votes

    Foot/Bike Patrols for SE Seattle

    Foot and bike patrols for Southeast Seattle. Friday, Saturday and Sunday during peak criminal activity hours on Rainier Ave S, between S Alaska and S Orcas. If that goes well, maybe shuffle patrols around as criminal activity shuffles around.

  10.    251 votes

    Secure a new source of funding for City libraries similar to King County Library, to avoid closures.

    The Seattle Public Library is funded from the general city budget, “off the top” of an already strained source of funding. The King County Library System has a secure form of funding in the form of property taxes, thus avoiding budget cuts and enabling the library system to better serve… More

  11. .   210 votes

    Make Seattle a hub for Green and Sustainable Innovation

    Our population is young, tech savvy and green-minded. Our natural beauty is world class.

    Seattle is a perfect place to incubate green technology and business.

    Tax incentives, public/private partnerships, leveraging our local research institutions and non-profits — there are countless paths to … More

  12. .   207 votes

    City-funded public farmer’s markets

    The City has operated a public farmer’s market in Pike Place since 1907, but since then a multitude of privately organized farmer’s markets have sprung up throughout Seattle’s neighborhoods. These markets are often voluntary organizations, depending on available parking lots to exist, and are on… More

  13. .   198 votes

    Make This Site Official

    Make this site part of Seattle’s official web site. This might encourage more people to participate. There should also be some system to prevent people from creating multiple accounts.

  14.         175 votes

    Clean-up Chinatown/International District

    I love going down to the “ID”, which is really comprised of Chinatown, Little Saigon and Japantown. Seattle has one of the best and largest Chinatown’s in the US. Most other ones in the US are going downhill quickly.

    Our ID celebrates our very diverse Asian culture here in the US. … More

  15.      144 votes

    Implement a 311 non-emergency city phone number

    I’d love to see the candidates (McGinn in particular!) back a 311 system. It’s a non-emergency contact number for the city. New York City implemented this about 5 years ago. it has reduced load on the 911 system, and has greatly improved people’s access to city info. when you call the number, an … More

  16. In Ballard many people are offering small areas of their yard for small garden spaces. These are smaller than the regular P-Patches and are being managed by a small group.

    Since P-Patches have a long waiting list, can we expand the idea to smaller plots?

  17.    117 votes

    Create a way for citizens to buy municipal bonds at $100 denominations.

    Right now we have to have $5,000 to be able to buy even one municipal bond. Nobody I know has $5K. We need to reduce that down to something the people can afford.

    Make the city something that we CAN invest in, and you’ll find people who WANT to invest in it.

  18.       104 votes

    Enhance the Smoking Ban by Allowing Cigar Bars

    Most of the modern cities that we look up to have allowed the smoking ban and those of us who enjoy cigars to co-exist peacefully.

    New York, San Francisco, Portland and others maintain a smoking ban while allowing limited cigar bars to operate, especially if they are owner operated.


  19.     103 votes Vote         Bring an NBA team to Seattle

KUOW: Donations up for some nonprofits, down for others

Today’s the last day to donate to favorite causes and get a tax deduction for 2009. KUOW reports that in our region, some nonprofits say their giving is up, others down. Here are some winners and losers… (read here)

What’s your biggest regret from 2009? Seattle City Councilmembers give their answers…

  What’s your major regret from 2009?
  When C.R. Douglas sat down with members of the Seattle City Council to ask them about their regrets and accomplishments of the last year and hopes for 2010 for his Seattle Channel show, they shared these regrets:
  I’ll probably get in trouble for saying this, but I was really disappointed that we did not do a better job of explaining why the bag fee was a very important step forward in our environmental protection work that Seattle has in many ways led the nation on.
  I also regret probably speaking out too soon before I was ready about downtown street crime problems and panhandling and not then being able to adequately back up what I was advocating for. But after the first of the year, we’ll relaunch that effort.

 The major regret that I have is to see another senior center closed. I’ve been a strong advocate for seniors and our senior centers during the last six years on the council. We’ve provided hundreds of thousands of dollars to help them continue to grow and thrive, and yet another one, the Wallingford Senior Center, has closed. [Editor’s note: There’s a fundraising drive to bring it back, as stated here.] I’m really sorry to see that that wasn’t able to make it. 
 The furloughs can’t go on forever. You can do furloughs for one or two years, but it’s not a permanent solution to how you recalibrate your income and your expenses.  


 Nick Licata

  I wish that the public had been more informed about the Mercer project… Unfortunately I think the way it was sold to public was it’s either this way or no way. In fact, the council had previously approved a prior plan…that would accomplish the same goal.

 Jan Drago

  I think one of my regrets for 2009 was the fact that people did question the efficacy of the tunnel.And I think this is very, very important. We have to remember that this is S.R. 99. It isn’t a city street. It is a very big artery that carries 110,000 vehicles a day.
 No regrets. There’s still alot of work that needs to be done. The Race and Social Justice Initiative that I was able to get passed 9-0 by this council--there’s work that needs to be done. We have to make sure that we’re inclusive in all of our dealings that transcend race; inclusive in how we repair streetlights, for example, how we provide customer service. So that work is not finished…

 Richard Conlin

  The biggest regret that I would have is probably just that because the budget and recession hit us at a time when we were poised to do a lot of good things– like, for example, begin the implementation of the parks levy — we had to spend so much time working on the budget issue that we weren’t to able to fully take advantage of some of the opportunities that we had. The parks levy is a great example of that. We could continue to proceed with the new construction and acquiring property and so forth, but we’re really in a difficult situation when we talk about actually maintaining that and operating the system that we have.

Parks superintendent pulls name of Perugia Park, acknowledging community concerns

Seattle Parks Superintendent Tim Gallagher took less than 24 hours to reverse himself on naming a new park “Perugia,” the site of a murder in which former University of Washington student Amanda Knox was recently sentenced. The conviction has been highly controversial.

As we reported Wednesday , Gallagher announced a small Capitol Hill park would be named for Seattle’s sister city. He made no reference to the criminal case, citing a committee decision and the history of naming some parks for sister cities.

This morning, he sent out a press release announcing that the naming decision is under review and will be taken up again in the spring.

Here’s the announcement’s explanation:

“The park was named to commemorate our Sister City relationship with the Italian city of Perugia, based on a recommendation from the public to the Park Naming Committee.

“‘Due to community concerns about the naming of Perugia Park on the heels of the recent verdict in the criminal case involving Seattle resident Amanda Knox, we will temporarily shelve the naming process for this park,’ Gallagher said. ‘We will take up the process again in the spring.’

“The new park is located at the northeast corner of E John Street and Summit Avenue E. The .22-acre park was acquired in 2007 with funding from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and a matching grant from the King County Conservation Futures Tax. This space on the western slope of Capitol Hill will be developed into a neighborhood park and P-Patch. Construction is projected to begin in the spring. Development funds will come from both the Pro Parks Levy and the P-Patch Program.  For more information about the park, visit: .”

The Park Naming Committee is comprised of one representative of the Board of Park Commissioners, one representative of the Seattle City Councilmember who chairs the committee dealing with parks issues, and one representative of the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation. Police say they have made arrest in 2 recent pharmacy robberies reports that police have arrested a man they believe may be connected to robberies in the Maple Leaf and Ballard neighborhoods in recent weeks.

Full story here.

Holiday poem parody: UW prof gets New York Times notice for best health care ‘doggerel’

A University of Washington professor did the best job of rewriting “The Night Before Christmas” to fit the health care reform debate for an informal New York Times contest.

Steve Harrell, a professor of anthropology, won the contest — and nothing else, a reflection we can only suppose of the sad state of newspapers these days — put on by a Times’ blog on the health care debate, Prescriptions.

His parody began: 

Twas the week before Christmas and all through the Hill

Not a solon dared say they would soon get a bill

Amendments were hung with meticulous care

In hopes that the 60 votes somehow were there

After being notified of his win, Harrell promptly penned — OK, entered on his keyboard — this witty explanation to the Times of taking the “2009 Health Care Doggerel” honors:

“I am not a poet by training or any other route but come from a long family tradition of doggerelists. I love Gilbert and Sullivan, whose songs I have frequently used for parodies of anthropology, academic pretense, and other easy targets. Maybe when I retire and have more time I can start doing this regularly on a bloggerel.”

Harrell’s biography on the UW web site says that he has taught there since 1974 and has focused on China and Taiwan. In recent years, he has taken a particular interest in environmental sustainability and educational exchanges, heading the university’s UW Worldwide Program. It offers an exchange program with Sichuan University in the city of Chengdu.

The Times has Harrell’s full parody and excerpts from a few other entries here.

Only 10%!3{2}of construction cranes are certified as new law requires

  Only about 10 percent of the state’s estimated 7,000 construction cranes have been certified as required by new rules that take effect in a matter of hours on New Year’s Day, according to the state Department of Labor and Industries.

  It’s not like there wasn’t warning.

  The crane-safety rules were adopted by state lawmakers in 2007 after a deadly crane collapse in November 2006, when a 210-foot tower crane used to build a Bellevue office building collapsed, killing Microsoft lawyer Matthew Ammon in a nearby condo. An L&I investigation later found that the crane’s steel base frame wasn’t strong enough to support it. The frame needed to be four times stronger.

  The state agency sent out a press release Dec. 22 sounding the alert that the Jan. 1 deadline was near but only 700 cranes had been certified, including just 20 tower cranes — and there are an estimated 100 tower cranes currently erected throughout the state.

  Things picked up just a tad. By yesterday, 760-odd cranes were certified, L&I spokesperson Hector Castro told the PostGlobe. That’s still barely surpassing 10 percent.

  Castro surmises that a lot of crane owners may be waiting until last minute, as certification isn’t required until Jan. 1 and certification only lasts for a year. Also, he hears that a lot of cranes are sitting idle, so some owners may figure certification isn’t worth it (as a KUOW story indicates here).

  “There are a huge number of cranes not certified,” Dan McMurdie, manager of L&I’s Construction and Specialty Services program, said in the Dec. 22 press release. “Businesses should have been working on this all year, but if they haven’t, they certainly should now.”


   “The public should not be overly alarmed” about safety, McMurdie said.

   More precisely, McMurdie put it this way:

   “Cranes affected by the new requirements range from very large ones you see at construction sites to small ones delivering materials to a site,” McMurdie said. “The vast majority are safe, efficient and well designed, and the public should not be overly alarmed. But in order to remain in that condition and ensure the safety of workers and people passing by, regular inspections must be conducted and those who operate them must be properly trained.”

     Only about 50 people statewide are trained to certify cranes, according to L&I, and an inspection can take a few hours to a week or more, depending on the crane’s size and complexity.

    Inspectors from L&I will start their work in January to ensure cranes are certified, Castro said. The goal is 100 percent compliance. What Castro is hearing from the director is the agency is not interested in shutting down construction sites. 

“Alarming surge” in officer gun deaths nationally; WA ranks 4th in nation

If it seems like a lot of cops have died by gunfire lately, national statistics confirm it’s not necessarily just a local trend: In the past year, firearms-related fatalities among cops increased 26 percent.

Some 49 officers nationally died this way this year, up from last year’s 39 — “an alarming surge in the number of officers killed by gunfire,” said Craig W. Floyd, CEO and chairman of National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) in a press release. The press release cites “a disturbing increase in the number of officers who were killed by gunfire, many of them in brutal, ambush-style attacks.”

The latest death was Pierce County Deputy Kent Mundell, for whom a public memorial is set to begin at 1 p.m. Jan. 5 at the Tacoma Dome. A memorial procession begins that day at 10 a.m. at the Puyallup Fair and Events Center and ends at the Tacoma Dome.

People in Lakewood, meanwhile, continue to mourn the deaths of four Lakewood Police officers  shot and killed execution-style in the Parkland area on Nov. 29. On Halloween, Seattle police officer Timothy Brenton was “ambushed, shot at point-blank range,” and a memorial procession in his honor included more than 1,000 vehicles.

Washington this year had more shooting deaths of officers than any other state except for three, all of which are far more populous — No. 1 Texas (11 deaths), Florida (9), California (8). Washington shared the fourth-place spot with North Carolina and Pennsylvania.

What does it all mean? The Memorial Fund’s report, putting it all in perspective, points out that the nation’s 49 shooting deaths of cops in 2009 represents an improvement over 2007’s 68 deaths — or indeed any other prior year going back a decade. In 1999, 46 died by gunshot. 

 2009 Shooting Fatalities – Top 10 States

Texas 11 Alabama 5


New York 5
California 8 Georgia 4
North Carolina 7 Indiana 4
Pennsylvania 7 Minnesota 4
Washington 7 Nevada 4



KUOW: Spike in police gunfire deaths in Washington




To Perugia. From Seattle, with love. (P.S. Let’s forget the Amanda Knox case)

The parks department announced Wednesday that Superintendent Tim Gallagher has named a new park on Capitol Hill park “Perugia,” in honor of Seattle’s sister-city relationship with the Italian city.

As our partner Capitol Hill Seattle Blog notes , Perugia is the Umbrian city that was the site of the murder of Meredith Kercher. Former University of Washington student Amanda Knox was recently sentenced to 26 years imprisonment in the case, which is being appealed.

The parks department’s press release makes no mention of the case and notes that six other city parks are already named for other sister cities. So, the Perugia Park will mean that one-third of what the department says are 21 sister-city relationships have led to such recognition.

Gallagher is one of the top officials from the Nickels administration who will continue under incoming Mayor Mike McGinn.

Here’s the city’s explanation of Perugia Park:

“The Park Naming Committee unanimously recommended to the Superintendent that the park be named in honor of our longstanding relationship Perugia. Centrally located in the middle of Italy’s “boot” and north of Rome, Perugia became a Sister City to Seattle in 1991. It is the capital of the region of Umbria, and its major exports are chocolate and other food products. Perugia has a Seattle Sister City park named Orca Park, which features “Sister Orca,” a sculpture created by Seattle artist Marvin Oliver and dedicated in July 2008.

Perugia Park is located at the northeast corner of E John Street and Summit Avenue E. The .22-acre park was acquired in 2007 with funding from the 2000 Pro Parks Levy and a matching grant from the King County Conservation Futures Tax. This space on the western slope of Capitol Hill will be developed into a neighborhood park and P-Patch. Construction is projected to begin in the spring. Development funds will come from both the Pro Parks Levy and the P-Patch Program.


There are six other parks that bear the name of Seattle’s Sister Cities. They are: Beer Sheva Park (Israel), Bergen Place (Norway), Kobe Terrace (Japan), Nantes Park (France), Daejeon Park (Korea) and Tashkent Park (Uzbekistan). Seattle has Sister City relationships with 21 cities. For more information about the Sister City program, visit:

The Park Naming Committee is comprised of one representative of the Board of Park Commissioners, one representative of the Seattle City Councilmember who chairs the committee dealing with parks issues, and one representative of the Superintendent of Parks and Recreation.