»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
IN THE REALM OF THE SENSELESS
Oct 27th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

mark mulligan, ap via seattlepi.com

I had to break my three-month unplanned blogging hiatus to write about this.

But it’s been more than three days since the event, and I still haven’t figured out what to say.

As a few of you know, I went to the old Marysville High School. After I left, it merged with the newer Pilchuck campus. The combined Marysville-Pilchuck school took Marysville High’s red-and-white colors and “Tomahawks” team name.

My younger brother attended MPHS. (The campus is just up the road a bit from the family’s old house.) He knew many of the families involved in last Friday’s horrible shooting, including the extended family that included the shooter and the shooter’s cousins (two of the victims).

Marysville was never much of a town. The half-mile square old town (grid streets, sidewalks) was just a centrifugal point for miles of suburban and exurban sprawl, and for the Tulalip Indian Reservation.

“The Rez” was where dozens of tribes (some of whom hated each other) had been forcibly relocated in the second half of the 19th century. While the Tulalips as a whole were not as impoverished as some other tribes, they still had to deal with issues of cultural identity, drug/alcohol abuse, and the rest.

I left Marysville long before the shooter, Jaylen Fryberg, was born. But Everett Herald writer Andrew Gobin did know Fryberg. Gobin can’t figure out what happened either.

But if he or I don’t have a clue, at least we’re more knowledgable than the wingnuts who are already spreading so-called “false flag” conspiracy theories and blaming, of all people, New York ex-mayor Michael Bloomberg. (The premise being that gun-control advocates would hypnotize boys into shooting people, in order to promote taking guns away from other people.)

It’s patently false and ridiculous, but it’s more of a “rational” explanation than anything you can find in the reality of the tragedy.

A SEARCH FOR THE CITY’S SOUL
Jul 28th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

76th and aurora, 1953; seattle municipal archive

Seems every week, something important from this once fair little seaport city is taken away from us in the name of density, development, or “disruption.”

Cool old bars and restaurants and shops, yes. But also a men’s pro basketball team, a daily newspaper, a radio host, a live theater space.

And the new things that replace the old things tend to be costlier, louder, hoity-toity-er. Dive bars get turned into upscale bistros; cheap apartments become luxury condos.

For someone who came of age loving the old Seattle, for all its faults and limitations, today’s city seems more and more like an alien land.

The Soul of Seattle is a hard thing to define, and different people have defined it differently. But this is how I define it.

Seattle’s soul is not loud or pushy. It doesn’t scream at you to order you to love it.

It’s quiet and confident; yes, to the point of dangerously smug self-satisfaction.

Yet it’s also funny in a self-deprecating way. Seattle’s sense of quirky humor can be seen in Ivar Haglund, J.P. Patches, John Keister, the Young Fresh Fellows’ songs, the comic art of Jim Woodring and The Oatmeal.

It believes in beauty, in many forms. The delicate curves and perfect proportions of the Space Needle; the slippery warmth of a bag of Dick’s fries; the modest elegance of a Craftsman bungalow.

It believes in old fashioned showmanship. The fringe theaters of the ’70s and ’80s; the burlesque troupes of the ’90s; the alternative circus acts of the 2000s.

It believes in old fashioned fun. Boat races; cream cheese on hot dogs; tiki parties; comics conventions.

Yet it also believes in schmoozing and in deal making. Boeing got on such good terms ith the airlines of the world that Lockheed never sustained. Microsoft made deals to put MS-DOS and Office on almost every desktop computer.

And it believes in civic progress, however it’s defined. It created monuments to its own “arrival” (the Smith Tower, the Olympic Hotel, the Century 21 Exposition). It built public spaces more beautiful than they had to be (the UW campus, the Volunteer Park Conservatory). It leveled hills, filled in tide flats, raised streets, lowered Lake Washington, and put up parks everywhere from freeway airspace to an old naval base.

There are several places around town where this Soul of Seattle still lives and even thrives.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Aurora Avenue just north of Green Lake. The Twin Teepees, that beloved “roadside vernacular” restaurant, may be gone, but this stretch of the old Pacific Highway still boasts a pair of culinary opposites. On the east side: PCC Natural Markets, the local pioneer in “healthy” groceries (even if it’s less of a “consumers co-op” than it used to be). On the west wide: Beth’s Cafe, home of the 12 egg omelet and unabashed (and un-prettified) all-night diner.
  • West Marginal Way South, heading north. A biking/walking path keeps pedal and foot traffic separate from the semis. Container docks along the Duwamish River are now interspersed with mini parks, some restored to something approximating a “natural” state. The Duwamish Longhouse and Museum honors local native design arts while hosting ethnic cultural programs. Just uphill from the river is a sliver of a residential neighborhood once tributed by author Richard Hugo.
  • Red Square (officially “Central Plaza”) on the UW campus. The gorgeously Gothic Suzzalo Library, and the equally classic Administration Building, represent an era when public architecture could be both monumental and populist. The other buildings, dating from the 1960s and 1970s, are more simply designed and more cheaply built but still (especially Meany Theater) manage to express an understated humanism in their “big box” forms. The square itself is the lid of a parking garage, with air vents hidden inside sculptural pieces.
  • The Museum of Flight and the Living Computer Museum. One south-end landmark honors the industry that made our city’s past. The other honors the hardware that ran the software that’s making our city’s future.

(Cross posted with City Living Seattle.)

A HOLIDAY I CAN FULLY SUPPORT
Jul 17th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

fix.com

To date, I have turned down all requests to allow paid “advertorial” content on this site. (You’re welcome.)

However, I am accepting (unpaid) the following request to link to a commercial site:

Hi there, as you may or may not know, July 23rd is National Hot Dog Day! To celebrate, we have designed this commemorative graphic that I thought you might enjoy: http://www.fix.com/blog/national-hot-dog-day/

I saw you had linked to HotDog.org in the past and wanted to suggest this for your readers. If you decide to share, all I ask is that you credit the source and I can send visitors to your site as a thank-you if you are interested.

Thanks,

Kelsey Phillips

FOR A BACK YARD, NOT A FRONT LAWN
Jun 29th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

waterfrontseattle.org

Bertha, the humungous deep-bore (or deeply boring) tunnel digging machine, is still stuck under the ground, and won’t resume creating an underground Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement highway until perhaps some time next year.

But that delay won’t stop the rest of the total central-waterfront makeover from going forward.

A new seawall (which won’t protect us from long-term rising sea levels) will resume construction any month now, following a summer hiatus.

And the planning stages for a post-viaduct remake of Alaskan Way’s real estate, combining a surface street with a mile-long pedestrian/recreational “promenade,” continue apace.

At the end of May, the Seattle Office of the Waterfront (waterfrontseattle.org) released a new set of drawings and paintings depicting the project’s latest plans.

Unlike the project organizers’ previous set of sketches, which some online pundits snarked at for depicting all lily-white citizens enjoying the sights, these new illustrations show a healthy variety of skin tones on their make-believe happy citizens.

But the images still depict sizable groups of adults and kids walking about and enjoying sunny, warm days near Elliott Bay.

Days which, as anyone who actually lives here knows, are both precious and rare.

What would this landscaped playground look like the rest of the time?

It would probably look as barren and windswept and unpopulated as the waterfront mostly looks now during the wintertime, only prettier. (Which would, at least, make it friendlier to early-morning joggers and bicycle commuters.)

And, unlike some of the Waterfront Project’s earlier conceptual images, these new paintings don’t make the place seem too precious, too upscale, too (to use a far overused term these days) “world class.”

This is good.

It’s not so good that the fictional laid-back and mellow waterfront enjoyers in the images aren’t doing much of anything.

One image shows some kids splashing around a set of small, floor-level fountains (officially called a “water feature element”) at the planned Union Street Pier (to be built between the Great Wheel and the Seattle Aquarium).

Another image shows a few mellow aging-hipster couples (apparently all hetero) waltzing to the tunes of a small acoustic combo at the same Union Street site at dusk (with the “water feature element” turned off).

Otherwise, the fantasized open-space enjoyers are seen mostly just standing, sitting, strolling, bicycling, and talking on cell phones.

We don’t need a civic “front lawn;” the Olympic Sculpture Park already serves that function.

We need a civic “back yard.”

If we can’t have industry on the central waterfront in the container-cargo age, we can at least have industrious leisure there.

I want (at least seasonally) food trucks and hot dog carts, art fairs and circus/vaudeville acts. I want a summer concert series like the waterfront had years ago. I want a roller coaster to complement the Seattle Great Wheel, and smaller amusement attractions and rides nearby (finally replacing Seattle Center’s sorely missed Fun Forest).

Some of these events and attractions would require ongoing funding. The Waterfront Project doesn’t have that funding authority; its duty is only to design and build the promenade and to rebuild piers 62-63, using a part of the funding for the viaduct replacement.

So activities in this area, along the promenade and the rebuilt piers 62/63, would need to be supported separately. The Seattle Parks Department is having enough trouble supporting its current operations. But a semi-commercial amusement area, with concession and ride operators paying franchise fees, could support a variety of warm-weather-season activities and at least some off-season events.

(Cross posted with City Living Seattle.)

TODAY IN BEST/WORST BAND NAMES
Jun 28th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

addictedttaddiction.wordpress.com

Following are some of the acts performing today at the Warped Tour, at the White River Amphitheatre outside Auburn:

  • Cute Is What We Aim for
  • Vanna
  • Ice Nine Kills
  • The Devil Wears Prada
  • The Ghost Inside
  • The Story So Far
  • The Word Alive
  • Falling In Reverse
  • For Today
  • Stray From the Path
  • Air Dubai
  • Teenage Bottlerocket
  • Mayday Parade
  • The Protomen
  • Tear Out The Heart
  • Plague Vendor
  • Saves the Day
  • A Skylit Drive
  • I the Mighty
  • Beartooth
  • The Ready Set
  • Chunk! No, Captain Chunk!
  • NiT GriT
  • Issues
  • Survive This!
  • Crown the Empire
  • The Maine
  • Chelsea Grin
  • Bad Rabbits
  • To the Wind
  • Breathe Carolina
  • I Fight Dragons
  • After 8
  • Motionless In White
  • Courage My Love
  • Yellowcard
  • Born of Osiris
  • We Are the In Crowd
  • Beebs and Her Money Makers
  • Thecityshakeup
  • We the Kings
  • Every Time I Die
  • For All Those Sleeping
  • Get Scared
  • Dangerkids
  • Icon for Hire
  • Four Year Strong
  • Monogamy Party
WHO’S AFRAID OF THE FREMONT FAIR? (NOT MANY.)
Jun 25th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

After last Saturday’s Fremont Solstice Parade, I met up with an acquaintance who asked if this spectacle wasn’t the greatest possible statement against corporate America or something like that.

I told her no, not really.

Hedonism, in and of itself, is not a terribly effective counterforce to consumer capitalism.

“The market” can easily ingest any image or genre of recreational “rebellion,” transform it into something completely commercial, then sell it back to you for big money. (For recent examples, witness the playgrounds of the cyber-rich known as Burning Man and Coachella.)

Above, we see a “political” parade entry. Big business is stereotyped as an octopus in a suit, with big, money-stuffed, claw-shaped hands at the end of each tentacle. Assisting him is an old rabbit-eared TV set, that eternal lefty symbol of all that is supposed to be inherently evil in the media.

This is not to say there wasn’t plenty to contemplate about at the parade and fair.

Or that fun and pleasure are not good things to promote.

The Fremont Parade is like one of author Peter Lamborn Wilson’s old fantasized “temporary autonomous zones.” It’s a place where, for one afternoon a year, the rules of social repression (and clothes-wearing) are suspended; where free expression (albeit within its own set of rules) is championed. A place where a different way of life can, for a while, be imagined.

Actually creating a better world for real takes a different set of disciplines.

‘SEATTLE TIMES’ SHRINKAGE WATCH
Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

startribune.com

My ex-UW Daily editor (and proud Armenian-American) Suki Dardarian is the latest SeaTimes leading light to leave the Bore on Boren (née Fairview Fanny). She’s now a senior managing editor at the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

She’d been a managing editor here, until SeaTimes management transferred her out of the daily deadlines and into the position of “strategist on audience development and community engagement.”

Her hubby (and fellow Daily vet) Peter Callaghan, currently one of the best remaining reporters about Wash. state government, will join Dardarian in Flour City upon the end of his current contract with the Tacoma News Tribune.

THREE THOTS ON YOOTOOB
Jun 24th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey
  1. Last Friday evening, a long line of excited but patient teenage girls gathered outside the Showbox. They were going to something called “Digitour O2L” (Our 2nd Life). That isn’t an electronic dance music ensemble, but a package tour of hot looking young men who simply post “video diary” monologues onto YouTube. These six idols (ages 15-21) don’t sing; they don’t dance. They just talk about stuff. And, with the nurturing attention of a couple of hotshot promoters, they’re raking in the bucks.
  2. YouTube itself, and its Google masters, are trying to make monetizable sense of a big part of the streaming video site’s offerings. One tactic is a subscription-based music service, to start some time this year. The company’s reached contracts with the Big Three (formerly Big Six) record companies. Smaller labels, though, are balking at YouTube’s proposed terms. As CNet describes the situation, “the massive video site requested the smaller labels automatically give up their royalty rate if a major label agrees to something lower.” YouTube is threatening to remove all videos from its main site by musicians whose labels don’t sign on for the subscription service. This could effect affect as much as 5 percent of all the music tracks on the site. There are plenty of other streaming-clip sites out there where these acts and/or their fans can place clips; but none of them has YouTube’s recognition or market share.
  3. Those other video sites also don’t have the massive inventory of clips YouTube can offer on its “Recommended For You” page, where so many users/viewers first find so much new and/or intriguing stuff. Why, just the other day that page referred me to Two Breaths To…, an educational film produced by Hanna-Barbera for a Hanford Nuclear Reservation contractor. Hanford, Hanna-Barbera, the late beloved Casey Kasem narrating, and gruesome animated deaths—what’s not to love?

Two Breaths To…

WORDS ABOUT PICTURES SUBSTITUTING FOR WORDS
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

There’s an international committee that creates standards for online typefaces. It’s called the Unicode Consortium.

It recently announced a new set of more than 250 pictographic symbols (also known by the Japanese term “emoji”). They’ll be available in a chat room or on a smartphone near you as soon as Microsoft, Apple, Google, et al. get around to adding them.

The consortium’s announcement listed some of these new symbols with verbal descriptions. They include:

  • Thermometer
  • Black Droplet
  • White Sun
  • White Sun With Small Cloud
  • White Sun Behind Cloud
  • White Sun Behind Cloud With Rain
  • Fog
  • Wind Blowing Face
  • Hot Pepper
  • Fork And Knife With Plate
  • Heart With Tip On The Left
  • Musical Keyboard With Jacks
  • Studio Microphone
  • Level Slider
  • Control Knobs
  • Beamed Ascending Musical Notes
  • Beamed Descending Musical Notes
  • Film Frames
  • Admission Tickets
  • Sports Medal
  • Weight Lifter
  • Golfer
  • Racing Motorcycle
  • Racing Car
  • Snow Capped Mountain
  • Building Construction
  • House Buildings
  • Cityscape
  • Derelict House Building
  • Classical Building
  • Desert
  • Desert Island
  • National Park
  • Stadium
  • White Pennant
  • Black Pennant
  • Waving White Flag
  • Waving Black Flag
  • Chipmunk
  • Eye
  • Camera With Flash
  • Film Projector
  • Portable Stereo
  • Lower Right Shadowed White Circle
  • Upper Right Shadowed White Circle
  • Notched Right Semicircle With Three Dots
  • Dove Of Peace
  • Right Speaker
  • Right Speaker With One Sound Wave
  • Right Speaker With Three Sound Waves
  • Bullhorn
  • Bullhorn With Sound Waves
  • Ringing Bell
  • Book
  • Candle
  • Mantelpiece Clock
  • Black Skull And Crossbones
  • No Piracy
  • Hole
  • Man In Business Suit Levitating
  • Sleuth Or Spy
  • Dark Sunglasses
  • Spider
  • Spider Web
  • Joystick
  • White Touchtone Telephone
  • Black Touchtone Telephone
  • Telephone On Top Of Modem
  • Clamshell Mobile Phone
  • Back Of Envelope
  • Stamped Envelope
  • Envelope With Lightning
  • Flying Envelope
  • Pen Over Stamped Envelope
  • Linked Paperclips
  • Black Pushpin
  • Lower Left Pencil
  • Lower Left Ballpoint Pen
  • Lower Left Fountain Pen
  • Lower Left Paintbrush
  • Lower Left Crayon
  • Left Writing Hand
  • Turned Ok Hand Sign
  • Raised Hand With Fingers Splayed
  • Reversed Raised Hand With Fingers Splayed
  • Reversed Thumbs Up Sign
  • Reversed Thumbs Down Sign
  • Reversed Victory Hand
  • Reversed Hand With Middle Finger Extended
  • Raised Hand With Part Between Middle And Ring Fingers
  • Black Hard Shell Floppy Disk
  • White Hard Shell Floppy Disk
  • Soft Shell Floppy Disk
  • Tape Cartridge
  • Wired Keyboard
  • One Button Mouse
  • Two Button Mouse
  • Three Button Mouse
  • Trackball
  • Old Personal Computer
  • Hard Disk
  • Screen
  • Printer Icon
  • Fax Icon
  • Optical Disc Icon
  • Document With Text
  • Document With Text And Picture
  • Document With Picture
  • Frame With Picture
  • Frame With Tiles
  • Frame With An X
  • Black Folder
  • Folder
  • Open Folder
  • Card Index Dividers
  • Card File Box
  • File Cabinet
  • Empty Note
  • Empty Note Page
  • Empty Note Pad
  • Note
  • Note Page
  • Note Pad
  • Empty Document
  • Empty Page
  • Empty Pages
  • Document
  • Page
  • Pages
  • Wastebasket
  • Spiral Note Pad
  • Spiral Calendar Pad
  • Desktop Window
  • Minimize
  • Maximize
  • Overlap
  • Clockwise Right And Left Semicircle Arrows
  • Cancellation X
  • Increase Font Size Symbol
  • Decrease Font Size Symbol
  • Compression
  • Old Key
  • Rolled-Up Newspaper
  • Page With Circled Text
  • Stock Chart
  • Dagger Knife
  • Lips
  • Speaking Head In Silhouette
  • Three Rays Above
  • Three Rays Below
  • Three Rays Left
  • Three Rays Right
  • Left Speech Bubble
  • Right Speech Bubble
  • Two Speech Bubbles
  • Three Speech Bubbles
  • Left Thought Bubble
  • Right Thought Bubble
  • Left Anger Bubble
  • Right Anger Bubble
  • Mood Bubble
  • Lightning Mood Bubble
  • Lightning Mood
  • Ballot Box With Ballot
  • World Map
  • Slightly Frowning Face
  • Slightly Smiling Face
  • Hollow Quilt Square Ornament
  • Solid Quilt Square Ornament
  • Leftwards Rocket
  • Upwards Rocket
  • Rightwards Rocket
  • Downwards Rocket
  • Very Heavy Solidus
  • Very Heavy Reverse Solidus
  • Checker Board
  • Reverse Checker Board
  • Triangle With Rounded Corners
  • Prohibited Sign
  • Circled Information Source
  • Boys Symbol
  • Girls Symbol
  • Couch And Lamp
  • Sleeping Accommodation
  • Shopping Bags
  • Bellhop Bell
  • Bed
  • Hammer And WrenchOil Drum
  • Motorway
  • Railways Track
  • Motor Boat
  • Up-Pointing Military Airplane
  • Up-Pointing Airplane
  • Up-Pointing Small Airplane
  • Airplane Departure
  • Airplane Arriving
  • Satellite
  • Oncoming Fire Engine
MISC@28
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Yep, this li’l venture in snarky commenting and pseudo-intellectual aggrandizing has gone on now for one score years plus eight. Slightly over half my life.

The last few months, I know, I’ve been away from the site a lot.

It’s not that there hasn’t been a plethora of potential subject matter, both on the local front (the waterfront tunnel machine’s woes, the rise of jocks-with-laptops aka “brogrammers,” the ugly new buildings going up everywhere) and the national-p0p-culture front (weird crimes, dumb online “meme” obsessions, the ongoing collapse of almost all professionally-made media genres).

It’s just that the site/column’s “persona” isn’t a personality mode I’ve been into lately.

For the past two years, ever since my mother’s death, I’ve been forced to scramble and hustle just to keep a roof over my head.

Some acquaintances and friends have understood this.

Others have just told me, why don’t I just write full time? They offer “cool” book ideas, imagining that that’s a viable substitute for the real job I tell them I really need. They tell me to just “do what you love” and “don’t worry about the money.”

But I do have to worry about the money. (Despite the occasional rumors over the years, I’m not, and have never been, independently wealthy.)

And I’m working on that, on several fronts.

Among them are two new projects in the “writing” line, neither of which I’m ready to announce right now.

Watch this space for further details.

TODAY IN OWN-TAIL-EATING, INTERNET STYLE
Jun 19th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Apparently, there are deliberately annoying (male) online “trolls” (in the days of dial-up bulletin board systems, we called them “twits”) who have conspired to promote fake “feminist” Twitter slogans. Their idea was to make feminists as a whole appear to be just as stupid and sexist as these trolls themselves are. They (or at least many of them) got caught.

But also, apparently there are also Twitter trolls who have conspired to promote a made-up meme about “bikini bridges” (defined as an open space under the top of a bikini bottom, between the hips).

But what makes this operation even dorkier is that the same trolls, under a variety of online pseudonyms, are orchestrating fake “grassroots” comments both promoting and denouncing this supposedly “viral” hashtag obsession.

Some people, clearly, have just too much time on their hands.

NO HIDING PLACE
Jun 6th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

elaine thompson/ap via kiro-tv

When I was in high school, I once saw a recruiting brochure for Seattle Pacific University. The cover photo depicted a real street sign, apparently somewhere near North 46th and Aurora, with two arrows. The left-pointing arrow was labeled “ZOO.” The right-pointing arrow was labeled “Seattle Pacific University.”

The brochure’s copy explained that SPU was neither a party school nor a gargantuan state enterprise. It was a small, quiet place, where nice Christian youth could get nice Christian educations. I would later learn that students entering SPU signed contracts promising not to smoke, drink, or have non-marital sex.

If there was a place where psycho gunmen wouldn’t likely appear, this would be it.

Or so one might think.

But, alas, not.

It happened two years after the Cafe Racer/Town Hall shootings; days after the Santa Barbara, CA shootings; not too many years after the rave after-party and Jewish Federation office shootings; and in the collective wakes of so many other shootings in so many other parts of this nation.

And as long as certain political interests consider gun nuts to be useful idiots, this will not end.

everytown.org

RANDOM QUESTIONS
May 26th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

sony pictures tv via wellesley.edu

I’m still not back to posting Random Links posts (at least not without re-thinking their whole format).

But today, I have some random questions:

  • If you know that advertising/media images about people like you are lying, why would you ever believe such images about anyone else?
  • Why do most “do what you love, the money will follow” books presume that everybody already has money?
  • If “not all men” are rude or violent creeps (which is true), how can those who aren’t convert (or at least disarm) those who are?
  • If “content is king,” the thing that gets and keeps people going to one website instead of another, why do so many dotcoms pay six-figure salaries to programmers but expect writers and artists to work for free?
  • Could I ever deserve to be the man of a woman as smokin’ smart as Jeopardy! champ Julia Collins?
SAVING METRO (PARTLY)
May 21st, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

seattletransitblog.com

Public transportation is more popular here than ever, with continued ridership growth on King County Metro buses.

These same buses are currently threatened with service cuts of 15 percent or more.

Two different schemes to prevent these cuts have failed. Seattleites are about to face two or three proposals, all of which would restore only some of the threatened cuts.

How did we get to this predicament?

First, the Washington State Legislature failed to act.

Back when sales tax revenues first started to go “pfft,” the state passed a law allowing King County to temporarily add a $20 surcharge to the Motor Vehicle Excise Tax (MVET), to make up the difference and help keep transit systems running.

But that temporary authority runs out this year, and the Legislature failed to renew it.

That particular inaction goes back to Rodney Tom’s party switch that gave Republicans control of the state Senate. That body has resolutely refused to pass any transportation package that included any money for Metro Transit, no matter how desperately the rest of Washington needed road improvements (remember the Mount Vernon I-5 bridge collapse?).

Without the state approving the renewal of car tabs for transit, and with sales tax revenue still down sharply since 2008, the county scheduled a special election referendum in April.

It would have combined $60 car tabs and a one-tenth-of-a-percent sales tax increase, to fund both preserved Metro service and road projects in the county.

The referendum was poorly timed and poorly campaigned for, particularly in the suburbs.

(There was also almost no organized opposition, except from the Seattle Times editorial board and one small campaign group led by Eastside conservatives.)

The city approved the proposal, in some districts by huge amounts; but the ‘burbs voted no, defeating the whole thing.

It undoubtedly didn’t help that the ‘burbs have always gotten relatively less Metro service than Seattle, by population and tax revenue.

That’s been the case ever since 1973, when the Municipality of Metropolitan Seattle (a taxing district formed more than a decade before to clean up Lake Washington) took over the city-owned Seattle Transit System and the private Metropolitan Transit Company. Metro has spent four decades trying to beef up suburban service (especially in recent years), even while in-city and commuter usage has grown.

After the special election’s failure, Metro officials announced a preliminary list of cuts to be made, perhaps as early as September. 550,000 hours of service per year (down from an initial estimate of 600,000) would go away. These would include 69 total routes, and reduced or restructured service on some 80 other routes.

The cuts would be phased in over a one-year period, with “lower hanging fruit” (lower-ridership runs) dying first. Those would include the “Night Owl” runs after 1 a.m.

By the final phase-in of cuts, many familiar routes would disappear. They include #26 to Fremont and Green Lake, #66 to Roosevelt and Northgate, #4 to East Queen Anne, #60 to First Hill and Broadway, and #99 along the waterfront (the bus that replaced the still-mourned Waterfront Streetcar).

But wait! To the rescue, but only of in-city routes, came “Plan C.”

It was an initiative filed by a group called Keep Seattle Moving.

It would raise property taxes within the Seattle city limits (by 22 cents per $1,000 of assessed value), to fund bus service, but only along routes whose service hours are 80 percent within the city limits.

If the initiative made the ballot, and if it then passed, it would have raised $30 million per year for six years. In-town riders would have their service preserved, or in some cases restored. That’s because it wouldn’t have taken effect until after the first round of cuts.

The initiative sponsors officially suspended signature-gathering efforts after Mayor Ed Murray announced “Plan D.”

It’s another city-only plan. It would combine a vehicle license fee and an o.1 percent sales-tax hike. It would preserve some, but not all (and not the first scheduled batch of) bus-service cuts in town. It would have to pass both the City Council and city voters.

But wait! Here come City Councilmembers Nick Licata and Kshama Sawant with “Plan E.”

It would increase taxes on employers and commercial parking operations, replacing the sales-tax part of Murray’s proposal. It would only need the City Council’s approval, so it could be passed before Metro starts cutting routes in town. (Though the first round of cuts would still go through, at least temporarily.)

For the rest of the county: tough darts. More long car commutes, more traffic messes, more impossible-to-get-to jobs in remote office parks, more pollution.

And more people stuck in cars, as potential captive audiences for conservative talk radio, where they can be preached to about Seattle’s evil big-spending ways on such silly luxuries as public transit.

(Updated from a post originally cross-posted with City Living Seattle.)

POSTS WILL RESUME SHORTLY (I PROMISE)
May 16th, 2014 by Clark Humphrey

Just a heads-up here. I’ve been busy working a part-time job while looking for a full-time job, while also pursuing a book project I still can’t announce yet.

And I’ve been toying with new formats and shticks for this site.

But I’ll have new full-length and quickie material soon. Within days even.

»  Copyright 2012 Clark Humphrey (clark (at) miscmedia.com)   »  Substance: WordPress   »  Style: Ahren Ahimsa