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.

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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.

Open Thread (Yesterday?)

Some combination of my ancient computer being a problem while I type on public transit and how I’m using jokes for the date instead of actual dates this week, and I seem to have somehow posted this into the Open Thread for Monday, and I’m not quite sure how to undo it. So I’m reposting it here, as an open thread. Um, sorry to people who really wanted whatever ephemera I’d posted there.

– I know that there is a large group of the chattering class that hate Seattle passing resolutions. But I think this opposition to the Hyde Amendment is right the fuck on.

– Sad face for Mars Hill.

– I’m not sure I’m qualified to say anything about Ray Rice that goes outside of just cliche. But holy shit, Fox News, shut the fuck up.

Redmond will fund Overlake Village bike/walk bridge

We tend to think of activism as an “all-in” sort of affair where one eats, sleeps, and shits the struggle. If you don’t live up to this romanticized notion, you’re a fraud. In reality, many of the people fighting for basic things like access to clean water, good schools, and affordable housing are, in fact, people with lives and families and other responsibilities.

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottleThe last Tuesday of the primary season is upon us, with primary elections in Massachusetts and New Hampshire, Delaware and Rhode Island. (Okay…we’re ignoring the 13 Sept primary in the U.S. Virgin Islands.) So please join us this evening for some electoral 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? Check out another Washington state chapter of Drinking Liberally over the next week. The Tri-Cities, Shelton, and Vancouver, WA chapters also meet on Tuesday. On Wednesday, the Bellingham chapter meets. The Bremerton chapter meets on Thursday. And next Monday, the Aberdeen and Yakima chapters meet.

With 203 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.

Apparently, Not Even the Seattle Times Editorial Board Reads Seattle Times Editorials

So I’m wreaking havoc in the other Washington for a few days, but that doesn’t stop me from reading the Seattle Times editorial page. (Because I’m stoopid.) And for obvious reasons, I just couldn’t wait to click through to the following headline: “Washington’s tuition stability good for students, GET program.”

WASHIINGTON’S prepaid tuition plan rebounded into financial solvency on the wings of a rebounding stock market and a shift in legislative policy. That’s good news for the state: In 2013, the Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program was underfunded by $631 million. Absent the rebound, Washington would’ve been on the hook.

But the real winners in the rebound are Washington college students and their families, whether they had GET accounts or not. The prepaid plan’s deficit had been compounded by a ruinous state policy of huge tuition increases.

But if you were expecting the editors to eat a little well-deserved crow, think again. Absolutely zero mention of the editorial board’s prior advocacy to shut down GET at a taxpayer cost of $1.7 billion. Though in their defense, perhaps not even Seattle Times editors can bear to read the paper’s awful editorial pages.

One other comment, though:

The Legislature wisely reversed the gouge on college students and froze tuition increases for the past two years.

To be clear, freezing tuition after four years of double-digit increases is good. But the legislature has not “reversed the gouge.” Lawmakers who paid an inflation-adjusted $2,500 a year for their own tuition a generation ago have still left today’s students paying around $13,000. It would take a couple decades of tuition freezes to truly reverse the gouge. And we all know that’s not likely to happen.

So if the editors truly care about Washington college students and their families, they would marshal their advocacy on behalf of raising the tax revenue necessary to both add capacity and restore some fiscal balance to our state college and university system.

Open Thread (Today)

- I know that there is a large group of the chattering class that hate Seattle passing resolutions. But I think this opposition to the Hyde Amendment is right the fuck on.

– Sad face for Mars Hill.

– I’m not sure I’m qualified to say anything about Ray Rice that goes outside of just cliche. But holy shit, Fox News, shut the fuck up.

Redmond will fund Overlake Village bike/walk bridge

We tend to think of activism as an “all-in” sort of affair where one eats, sleeps, and shits the struggle. If you don’t live up to this romanticized notion, you’re a fraud. In reality, many of the people fighting for basic things like access to clean water, good schools, and affordable housing are, in fact, people with lives and families and other responsibilities.

HA Bible Study: Nahum 1:2-6

Nahum 1:2-6
The Lord is a jealous God, filled with vengeance and rage. He takes revenge on all who oppose him and continues to rage against his enemies!

The Lord is slow to get angry, but his power is great, and he never lets the guilty go unpunished. He displays his power in the whirlwind and the storm. The billowing clouds are the dust beneath his feet.

At his command the oceans dry up, and the rivers disappear. The lush pastures of Bashan and Carmel fade, and the green forests of Lebanon wither.

In his presence the mountains quake, and the hills melt away; the earth trembles, and its people are destroyed.

Who can stand before his fierce anger? Who can survive his burning fury? His rage blazes forth like fire, and the mountains crumble to dust in his presence.


Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

That Canadian Immigrant:

Mark Fiore: The Presidential Painsuit.

Puppet Nation: ISIS Schmisis.

Cheap Labor:

Liberal Viewer: Nutburger Peter King’s bogus claim that al Qaeda planned to attack Ft. Knox.

Sharpton: Republicans go into warp-drive trivial by attacking Obama’s tan suit.

The Wrong Guys:

Mental Floss: 40 tremendous college traditions.

Sharpton: Right Wingers preaching impeachment to their racist teabagger base.

A Batty Story:

Richard Fowler: Go figure…Medicare is not such a budget-buster anymore.

Sharpton: Carpetbagger Scott Walker enlists out-of-state supporters for Senate election

What’s Black and Brown and Red All Over?

Obama visits Stonehenge.

Maddow: Rand’s burdens.

Puppet Nation: NATO Plays with itself.

The Politician–Industrial Complex:

Some nutjob Republican tries to argue that health care can be harmful to health.

ONN: The Onion Week in Review.

Fruits of the Political Season:

White House: West Wing Week.

Pap: Republican obstructionism shapes Obama’s legacy

Young Turks: Dumbass politician from Oklahoma warns Christians about ALL Muslims.

Old McDonnell Had a Pen:

Puppet Nation: Burger King hates America.

Jimmy Dore calls Mitt Romney:

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

I-594’s First TV Ad Hits WA Airwaves

“Our background check law has stopped over 40,000 people in Washington State—felons, domestic abusers, you name it—from getting guns,” says former Bellingham Police chief Don Pierce in the first TV ad from I-594 sponsor Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

“But there’s a dangerous loophole in the law,” Pierce explains: “Criminals who fail a background check can simply go online, or to a gun show, and buy a gun from a stranger, no questions asked. 594 closes that loophole, helping keep guns out of the hands of criminals. Close the background check loophole,” Pierce urges, “vote Yes on 594.”

Hard to argue with that.

The problem NRA folks will have with truthfully refuting I-594’s message is that at their worst, background checks are little more than a nuisance. But it’s a nuisance that most gun owners have already gone through to purchase their current firearms, so it’s not like the prospect of closing this loophole is all that scary.

So don’t expect a truthful response.

[Full disclosure: I'm biased!]

State Taxpayers Save $1.7 Billion by Not Following Seattle Times Advice to Close GET Program

Hey, remember how just a year and a half ago the oh so wise Seattle Times editorial board vociferously (and dishonestly) backed up Rodney Tom’s call to shut down GET (the state’s Guaranteed Education Tuition Plan), deriding it as “too generous,” while arguing that “lawmakers should be seriously concerned about a projected $631 million future shortfall” in the program?

“Closing GET to new enrollees would cause a $1.7 billion hit to the state treasury,” the editors wrote in January 2013, back when they were editorializing in favor of, you know, closing GET to new enrollees. And yet just 19 months later, according to today’s Seattle Times, GET is now funded at 106 percent of obligations:

The state’s prepaid college tuition is no longer underfunded, and has fully recovered from the recession.

That’s right: following the editors’ sage advice would have cost Washington taxpayers an unnecessary $1.7 billion, while eliminating our state’s only college savings option that allows middle-class families to securely plan for their children’s college education. Oops. Not that this wasn’t entirely predictable. As I explained in my contemporaneous fisking of this insane editorial:

Why the fuck would we want to lock in a $1.7 billion loss that we’d never have to pay if we’d just fund higher education at the level we all say we want to fund it? I mean, that’s just crazy. Inflation has averaged between 2 and 3 percent over the past few decades. Limit tuition increases to 7.5 percent a year and the GET program easily outgrows its shortfall.

As it turns out, the legislature ended up freezing tuition for two years. That and a booming stock market predictably led to GET’s full and speedy recovery.

Seriously… where do these clowns get off telling us how to run a government? Nobody should ever, ever, ever listen to their budgetary advice.