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Posts published in “Day: May 7, 2011”

The phone book overreach

phone books

Seattle phone book recycling/Office of Mike O'Brien

A lot of people (we among them) probably sympathize with the idea: A requirement that people distributing telephone books allow people to opt out of distribution - to not receive them. Considering the number of trees used to produce masses of telephone books a lot of people don't want and simply throw out ... Well, there are masses of them. Were there just one phone book covering a specific area, as was the case years ago, and were there no Internet for phone number lookup ... but again, we live in another world now.

So our impulse was to declare the ordinance pushed by Seattle Council member Mike O'Brien, and passed there last week, as a good thing. The opt-out site has gone live, and by the end of the first day "8,800 households logged on and opted out of 59,600 phone books," notes the Slog.

And it still could roll ahead ... but it's got some problems. Most of those stem from going beyond simply allowing customers to opt out of delivery, and leaving it at that; had O'Brien stopped there, his effort might be in good shape.

As it is, we'd guess his ordinance will run into a judicial buzzsaw. A number of phone book producers (including the largest, Dex, which is about to deliver its next edition at Seattle), have filed suit. The first sentence of their suit suggests the problem areas involved:

"Seattle Ordinance 123427 violates the First Amendment by banning distribution of yellow pages without a license, taxing publishers for every book they distribute, and forcing publishers to print the City’s messages on their books and to participate in the City’s delivery opt-out program."

It goes on: (more…)

Casinos as a population engine

For a number of Indian tribes around the country, casinos have been a major economic boon. (Thinking here about the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes at the Fort Hall reservation, where a casino has been a centerpiece for an economic boon that includes a major meeting and tourist center just for which ground has just been broken.)

Less obvious: The casinos have been drawing tribal members who have moved to other locations, back to the reservation.

The Seattle Times, parsing 2010 census figures, has a useful piece on this today. The numbers of tribal members in Washington (that is, members of tribes whose reservations are located in Washington) are not massively large - 61,582, scattered among 29 tribes. (The Yakama and Colville reservations account for about a third; the Stillaguamish, with 200 people, are the smallest.) But it makes some difference as a matter of clout whether the people are scattered or in a close physical location; concentration generates influence.

Now, the Times reports, the Suquamish Tribe, which had slight population and few resources of any sort 40 years ago, employs 1,200 people - even more than the tribe's population. It notes, "At Suquamish, the count of Indian people living on the reservation is up 47 percent over the 2000 census. So many have returned home to Suquamish, or chosen to stay there, that tribal housing is in chronic short supply."

In the case of many well-managed tribes, the casinos have been only the engine of a larger economic redevelopment. And the spinoff effects of that may be only starting to come into view.