Seattle Times Labels Imaginary Seattle Municipal Broadband Network a “Failure”

There goes the Seattle Times editorial board just making shit up again:

As efforts to develop publicly owned networks have failed, competition between multiple providers seems the best way to improve service.

Um, what effort to develop publicly owned networks? We’ve had no effort here in Seattle. There was an effort in Tacoma, and that’s been up and running and providing reliable service for years. And recent municipal broadband networks using more advanced technologies have proven even more successful—for example, the affordable gigabit Internet the residents of Chattanooga now enjoy.

But while there has certainly been chatter about developing a municipal broadband network here in Seattle, and there have been a couple of studies over the years, there has been no actual effort to build one. None. Zero. Zilch. So please, stop lying to your readers, Seattle Times, in defense your inflexible pro-corporate/anti-government ideology.

Open Thread 9/16

- On the one hand, you have to admire the audacity of street dealers trying to poach pot shops. On the other hand, I’d think that would be the worst place to sell. Maybe it’s like when there’s a Wendy’s next to a Burger King? Also, don’t threaten people.

How Not to Manage Parking

– A couple different takes on Danny Westneat not having a car for a little while. You can read the column here, but there isn’t much to add.

– I’m glad that Maria Cantwell is leading the charge to get the Washington NFL team to change their name.

– Waiting periods for abortion really are just calling women uninformed about their own bodies.

The guide to e-holes

New Report: Over-Dependence on Sales Tax Is Stunting Washington’s Economic Growth

If the fairness issue can’t move the serious people to start the conversation on tax restructuring (and Washington State does have the most regressive tax structure in the nation), perhaps the negative economic impact of our current tax structure will?

Washington is among the states that depend most heavily on sales taxes for revenue, and a new report links a decline in growth of such funds to the rising concentration of wealth for the richest U.S. households.

The study by credit-ratings agency Standard & Poor’s shows a significant decline in annual average state tax growth among the 10 most sales tax-dependent states, which includes Washington.

That report ties the slowed growth to rising income inequality, which appears to stunt overall economic growth. S&P also links it to a slowdown in average yearly gains in state tax revenues.

Washington is in fact the most sales-tax-dependent state in the nation, and it is crippling our ability to make the human and physical infrastructure investments we need. Our state’s inability to fund McCleary? Blame the sales tax. King County Metro’s 400,000 hours of service cuts? Blame the sales tax.

Seriously, serious people, we need to add some sort of tax on income and/or wealth into the mix.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle


Please join us tonight for an evening of politics over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

We meet tonight and every Tuesday evening at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. The starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks show up before that for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities and Shelton chapters meet. The Lakewood chapter meets this Wednesday. And for Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets.

With 204 chapters of Living Liberally, including seventeen in Washington state, three in Oregon and three in Idaho, chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

Open Thread 9/15

- Guest Editorial: To Fix Washington State’s Problems, We Need Real Talk on Taxes

– Good on the groups flying Goodell Must Go banners over NFL games this week.

– I’m not sure Marco Rubio knows what defeat means.

– We should probably just raise the voting age to whatever Fox News’ median is.

Do you know who I am?

– Apparently the kids today are all entrepreneurs. Not because capitalism has failed them so they’re doing something, but because that’s how kids do, freedom, etc.

Officers Beat Deaf Man for Signing, then Charge Him with Assault

These sort of stories—a deaf man allegedly Tased, beaten, and arrested by Hawthorne, California officers who mistook his attempt at sign language as a physical threat—generate the usual outrage over excess use of force. But there’s one detail consistent with nearly every excessive force incident that doesn’t seem to generate the outrage it should:

In February, Meister had been loading boxes of winter clothes and a snowboard that belonged to him at a friend’s house when a neighbor mistook him for a robber and called police. When officers Jeffrey Salmon, Jeffrey Tysl, Erica Bristow, and Mark Hultgren arrived on the scene, they encountered Meister and ordered him to stop. The only problem is that Meister is deaf and couldn’t hear the officers so he couldn’t obey their commands.

After grabbing his hand, a startled Meister began communicating the only way he can- by using sign language. As he desperately tried to make them understand him, the cops decided that Meister was trying to resist and assault them. So they jumped him, took him to ground, shot him twice with a Taser and punched and kicked the crap of him until they finally arrested him and charged him with assault.

This automatic charge of assaulting an officer and/or resisting arrest nearly every time officers assault a suspect is one of the more pernicious practices of modern policing. I understand that police use it to justify their actions, and that it gives prosecutors and city attorneys leverage in negotiating plea deals or in persuading victims to drop lawsuits (“We’ll drop our charges if you drop yours”).

But the officers are lying.

It is one thing to be so fucking stupid as to beat and arrest a deaf man for not adequately responding to verbal commands. But by the time those charges were formally filed, everybody involved had to be totally aware of what had actually transpired. And yet they filed the assault charges anyway.

If I were to knowingly file a false report with the police, it would be a crime. Officers who file false reports to cover their tracks should be held criminally liable too.

HA Bible Study: Deuteronomy 21:10-14

Deuteronomy 21:10-14
When you go out to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hand and you take them captive, and you see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you desire to take her to be your wife, and you bring her home to your house, she shall shave her head and pare her nails. And she shall take off the clothes in which she was captured and shall remain in your house and lament her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. But if you no longer delight in her, you shall let her go where she wants. But you shall not sell her for money, nor shall you treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Thom: Why Republicans are embracing over-the-counter birth control.

Puppet Nation: Resurrecting Christie.

Cillizza: How close is the Senate race?

Thom: The REAL cost of a Big Mac.

David Pakman: Nutburger Rick Santorum thinks secularism is a religion and should be banned from school.

Young Turks: Ted Cruz booed off stage by Christians sick of his BS.

Bill Maher: “History will treat [Obama] very kindly”.

ONN: The Onion Week in Review.

The Drums of War:

Thom: Republicans have forgotten the victims of 9/11.

Mental Floss: 36 facts about cats.

Young Turks: Palin family caught in a drunken brawl.

White House: West Wing Week.

David Pakman: Scott Brown’s cringe-worthy introduction.

Ed: North Dakota nutburger Kramer things Obama has a “War on Potatoes”.

Sam Seder: Surprise. Latest Right Wing hero is a total fraud.

Thom: The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

Cops Do The Darnedest Things:

Bill Maher: The target Representative.

Obama: The 11th observance of 9/11.

Puppet Nation: Just go with Mitt.

Sharpton: Michelle Obama campaigns in Georgia while Republicans demonize ‘Black-voting.

Jimmy Dore chats with Arnold about Maria cheating:

David Pakman: Louie Gohmert wishes Central American kids were more like North Koreans.

Young Turks: GOP filibuster bill to overturn Citizens United.

Thom: Why we need to prosecute OUR torturers.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

This Post Would Be More Relevant 3 Months Ago, Or Never

I was walking home the other day along the waterfront. The Mariners were playing, so there was a nice partisan crowd* walking to the stadium. It’s more touristy than I generally like on my commute, but still I’m glad it’s there, and I’m glad to live in a city where that walk is possible. We can (and have and likely will) discuss the merits of what we’d like to see there in the future. But one thing I think we can all agree on is the people on Pedicabs need to turn their damn music down.

Now, don’t get me wrong! I like that there are people on bikes taxiing people around: It seems like a great sort of thing. I’ve never taken one, but it seems like a fun way to get to see a city. Perhaps someday when I’m lost in some other city, I’ll take one. If I’m offered a choice between normal volume or no music, I’ll probably take the no music, but if there’s just normal volume, that’s fine.

The problem only comes when I’m walking and it drowns out my headphones. Especially if I’m caught behind them. The tinniest speakers belting out music so loud I can’t think kind of ruins that segment of the walk.

Weirdly, I don’t even mind when people play music loud at the park. I can just keep going and find somewhere else. I think the combination of it being in a throughfare and of being stuck behind it was the problem. And to be clear, this post isn’t advocating for a law against it. It seems like the enforcement would be worse than the problem. I just want to register my complaint.

[Read more...]

Take Dori’s License Away

Dori Monson, and Jamie Skorheim who is writing him up, complaining about new lights and a better bike lane on 2nd Ave:

“It is so confusing,” says Monson. “There are five lights, and you’re supposed to decipher what to do.”

There are 3 sets of lights. One for people in cars turning, one for people in cars going straight and one for people on bikes. If you can’t decipher that, you should get out and walk. You have no business guiding a ton of metal near other humans.

I guess if you count the pedestrian light, that’s 4. Still if you’re unfamiliar with what that little guy or the blinky/ solid hand mean, that’s even an even worse case that you should be talking about driving, let alone behind the wheel.

Also, not for nothing, but the lights for bikes are in the shape of bikes. I’m not saying pictures on public amenities always look exactly perfect, but if you’re in a car and you have a tough time figuring out if the light in the shape of a bike is meant for you or someone else, you are a danger to humans just by putting your foot on the pedal. Apply the break, and call for a tow, because there is no amount of lights or signage to correct for your gross, gross incompetence.

With transportation officials always warning about distracted driving, Monson wonders if all these different signals aren’t their own type of distraction, making it even harder for drivers trying to navigate already-busy downtown streets.

Right. Looking at, and responding appropriately to, street lights is the same as watching cat videos on your phone behind the wheel. Good logic. These green lights are too sparkly for me, but I’m definitely qualified to navigate 30 miles an hour through those same busy streets.

Legislature scolded for late homework

It sounds like a Big. Fucking. Deal. The Washington State Supreme Court has just found the state Legislature in contempt of court. Boy are they in trouble, now, huh?

The court said in an order issued Thursday it would hold off on punishing the Legislature until after the 2015 session. If lawmakers do not complete their plan for fixing the way the state pays for public schools by the end of that legislative session, the court promises to reconvene and impose sanctions and other remedial measures.

Oh. Dang…I was hoping for something more like Rodney Fucking Tom being frogmarched to the gates of the Monroe prison.

The contempt finding is related to the McLeary vs. State case, in which the Supreme Court ordered the Legislature to fully fund the state’s public education to be in compliance with the State Constitution that makes it the

…paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children….

The Court has repeatedly “emphasized” that the State is engaged in an ongoing violation of this constitutional duty, and has known that funding is “constitutionally inadequate” for decades.

But the lack of “ample provision for [...] educaton” isn’t what the Legislature was found in contempt for. Rather, it is because they are late with a report telling the Justices how they planned to fully fund education. Specifically:

After the 2014 legislative session, the Committee issued its report to the court. In it, the Committee admitted that “[t]he Legislature did not enact additional timelines in 2014 to implement the program of basic education as directed by the Court in its January 2014 Order.” [...]

[O]n Spetember 3, 2014…the State again admitted that it did not comply with the court’s January 2014 order….

[T]he court unaimously finds the State in contempt for failing to comply with the court’s January 9, 2014 order.

They are tardy with their homework, just like children in school, who would simply earn an F.

Rather than handing out an F, the Court offers this:

Sanctions and other remedial measures are held in abeyance to allow the State the opportunity to comply with the court’s order during the 2015 legislative session. If by adjournment of the 2015 legislative session the State has not purged the contempt by complying with the court’s order, the court will reconvene to impose sanctions and other remedial measures as necessary.

And if the Legislature fails again, the court wants a report on why they should not sanction. Otherwise…

[n]o other pleadings should be filed by any of the parties except at the direction of the court.

In other words, “shut up and finish your damn homework!”

Open Thread (For Ever!)

- How and when can we enjoy great art made by people who did, or are alleged to have done, terrible things? For me it’s mostly aliveness, but it feels unsatisfactory.

– Glad to see the $15 minimum wage activists going to Bellevue.

– Ride The Ducks needs to provide better answers.

– Tim Russert was overrated at the time and is overrated now.

– The P-I globe needs to go somewhere.

Mars Hill, Cascadian religion and the Seahawks

City Pairs

I’ve been looking at this post at Seattle Transit Blog on how many people go from city-to-city on Amtrak Cascades. It’s probably a measure of city size, and perhaps how close to the middle of the line it is than anything else. Also, perhaps less so also a measure of how easy it is to use within a city.

I’m thinking about Olympia specifically. It seems to me as someone whose only city pair in the last year is Seattle-Olympia that Olympia is really not convenient, and that probably drives down some of its numbers. The station is actually in Lacey and the bus there isn’t very frequent. So you’re kind of stranded in the middle of nowhere (no offense, Lacey!) without a car. The fact that it had 2 top 20 pairs is more than I might expect.

Compare that to the Seattle station that’s right in Pioneer Square. Get out, and it’s less than a 5 minute walk to a lot of buses or to the Link Light Rail.

I’ll end on what Zach envisions for the future after looking at the numbers:

Imagine a new morning southbound train from Seattle to Portland leaving around 6:30am, stopping only in Tacoma and Olympia before arriving in Portland at 9:15am. Tukwila riders could transfer via Sounder at Tacoma (with added RailPlus ticketing), Kelso and Centralia riders would retain their local service one hour later, and Vancouver WA riders would already be taking C-Tran anyway. Conversely, imagine a train leaving Portland for Seattle around 6:30am, but instead stopping only in Vancouver WA and Olympia, as Tacoma and Tukwila riders would already take Sounder. After adding that limited-stop service, you could still add a 5th fully local service and meet the ARRA requirement for 2 additional roundtrips.

Save Washington’s State University System: Raise Taxes

Danny Westneat has been obsessing over our woeful higher education funding recently, as he should, first with a column pointing out that we would need to expand the number of degrees awarded by 25,000 annually just to keep up with current demand, and now with a column highlighting the utter stupidity of asking our universities to prepare for another 15 percent cut.

Danny’s doing a great job of pointing out the death spiral our state college and university system is facing. But what he hasn’t touched on is the obvious solution: raise taxes.

As you can see in the chart below, the cost of educating each “full time equivalent” student has remained relatively flat over the past 25 years. But as state funding has been slashed, tuition has been hiked to increasingly make up the difference, from about 20 percent of costs in 1960 to about to about 75 percent today. That is a direct shift of costs onto the backs of students and their families, resulting in an explosion of student debt.

To be clear, it’s not the cost of a college education that’s been skyrocketing, it’s the price:

cost of WA state universities flat

The story of rising tuition is the story declining state funding.

So why have we resorted to this dramatic shift from taxpayer funding to ever-higher tuition? The following chart, tracking state taxes per $1,000 of personal income should give you a clue:

Just state taxes per $1,000

Washington State’s tax burden is at a half-century low.

As you can clearly see, our state’s dramatic decline in higher education funding corresponds directly to a dramatic decline in state tax revenue as a percentage of our overall economy. We can have a conversation about how to spend higher education dollars more efficiently if we want. But the inescapable truth is that we’re simply not spending enough money. And we’re not spending enough money because our state taxes are too low.

No we can’t just throw money at the problem. But part of the problem is a lack of money. And just like with our K-12 schools, we simply cannot adequately address this shortfall without raising taxes.