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Posts published in “Day: March 13, 2007”


Alaskan Way at SeattleNot a great surprise, after the tenor of things in the last couple of weeks especially: In the vote released this evening, Seattle voters decisively rejected both ballot options for fixing the Alaskan Way viaduct, the reconstructed elevated highway (no: about 55.5% in the first round of vote releases) and tunnel (no: 69.9%).

So there.

What this should, logically, suggest is a revisitation of the ground-level highway option, a proposal dismissed out of hand by almost everyone much involved (and not given a lot of credence here either, we might add). Yet it looks better the more you think about it; and we keep thinking about the recent Danny Westneat column pointing out that the downtown area underneath the viaduct is little more than wasted space at present. And how either of the two main proposals, shot down now by the voters, would remove the viaduct from use by the public for possibly a decade - that being how long the construction project might last.

The vote was a take-down of both tunnel advocates (main in city hall, including Mayor Greg Nickels) and reconstruction acolytes (including Governor Chris Gregoire and House Speaker Frank Chopp). As a comment on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's site suggests, "Gregoire would have to be crazy to try and stuff the viaduct/eyesore onto the city now. It would be political suicide." Same, for that matter, for the other office holders.

The situation is unsettled. One commenter suggests, "So the real vote is 30% tunnel, 45% viaduct, 25% surface street. I wonder which option should win?"

Still, in our view: Look for street-level to gain some traction.

FOLLOWUP One of the rebuild-the-elevated advocates, Seattle City Council President Nick Licata, this evening told the Seattle Times that the losing 45% vote was “a pretty solid base for elevated. . . . It will definitely keep it alive."

Never say die, apparently. But we suspect state Senator Ed Murray, D-Seattle, was closer to the mark when he told the Stranger's Slog: “A loss is a loss. Legislators who lose 55 to 45 don’t get to be legislators.”

Private mail

old Seattle post officeAnother spooky note (via Blue Oregon), about the Post Office beginning to contract out mail delivery, to relatively low-paid workers. It comes in a piece in the Beaverton Valley Times written by Peter Shapiro, a Hillsboro mail carrier who edits B-Mike, the monthly publication of National Association of Letter Carriers Branch 82.

Yes, there's a union issue here, but also an issue for anyone who depends on reliable and safe delivery of the mail. He writes, "Across the U.S., the Postal Service is experimenting with hiring cut-rate private contractors to deliver your mail. Local postmasters who once had the authority to approve new addresses for delivery service must now get approval from higher-ups. Here in Washington County, mail service for 374 new addresses in the Arbor Park development near Bethany are slated to be contracted out. Additional addresses are being contracted out near Orenco Station."

Where's this going? "There’s always the temptation to farm out the work to private entrepreneurs who claim they can do it on the cheap," he writes, and the point is compelling: You often do get what you pay for. But will your important mail (such as money mail, and mail with sensitive personal information enclosed) arrive as it should?

Shapiro said that an informational picket line at the Beaverton post office will be held starting at 4:30 p.m. on March 15.


Biological time bomb?

It did generate a headline in the Twin Falls Times News, but maybe the comments by V.C. (Lud) Prudek merit some wider attention.

The scene was the Jerome County commission, which is considering planting a moratorium on new dairies in the dairy-stuffed county. Speakers ranged pro and con, but none generated the stunned reaction Prudek did.

He is quoted as saying, "You perhaps don't realize what a hot issue you're sitting on. It isn't just dairy - it's field crops, too. We've made some huge mistakes, and we're headed for a wreck." Serious viruses could break out, he warned, some possibly as severe as ebola - simply because of the intense concentration of cattle and crops in the county. He added, "The greater the concentration, the greater the potential for a serious outbreak. You're sitting on a bomb right now."

The rebuttal was that Prudek offered no conclusive evidence for substantial risk. Still, he has credentials. Now living at Buhl, he was better known in Canada and for decades was a leader in Alberta agriculture (he joined the province's hall of fame in 2002). And he has background in agricultural research; one publication described him as "a specialty crop farmer for 50 years, was instrumental in the development of the dry bean industry in Alberta in the 1950s. Further work led to his development of gated pipe irrigation, as well as salinity and seepage control through the transportation of water in pipelines."

Consider it a moment of warning.