NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, September 16th, 2021

Poll Watch: Elway Research assesses Seattle’s citywide races one month before ballots drop

With the August 2021 Top Two elec­tion now well and tru­ly in the rearview mir­ror, and with Labor Day also hav­ing come and gone, the sprint to Wash­ing­ton State’s local gen­er­al elec­tion is on as the sum­mer sea­son gives way to fall.

Can­di­dates who sur­vived the Top Two elec­tion or who got to skip it entire­ly due to hav­ing only one oppo­nent now have just one month left to make their case to vot­ers before bal­lots arrive in mail­box­es across the state.

With the gen­er­al elec­tion quick­ly draw­ing near, Cross­cut and Elway Research have queried vot­ers regard­ing their views on Seat­tle’s four city­wide races, sup­ply­ing fresh data to an elec­toral land­scape that — with the notable excep­tion of NPI and Change Research’s polling — has been bereft of cred­i­ble, inde­pen­dent polling.

Here’s a quick run­down of each of their find­ings, fol­lowed by con­clud­ing thoughts.

Mayor

The poll found Bruce Har­rell ahead of Lore­na Gon­za­lez, mir­ror­ing the result in the Top Two elec­tion. 42% of respon­dents backed Har­rell, while 27% backed Gon­za­lez. About a quar­ter of respon­dents were not sure (24%).

In the Top Two elec­tion, Gon­za­lez start­ed out well behind Har­rell in the ini­tial returns, but most­ly closed the gap by the time the elec­tion was certified.

We could see a sim­i­lar dynam­ic play out this fall.

Seattle City Attorney

Ann Davi­son, who ran as a Repub­li­can for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor last year (but is now telling Seat­tleites she vot­ed for Joe Biden as she seeks sup­port in the gen­er­al elec­tion) cur­rent­ly leads for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, despite hav­ing fin­ished behind Nicole Thomas-Kennedy in the Top Two. 26% of respon­dents expressed a pref­er­ence for Davi­son, while 22% picked Thomas Kennedy. 45% were not sure.

In our polling back in July, Davi­son and Thomas-Kennedy were tied at 14% each and bare­ly trailed incum­bent City Attor­ney Pete Holmes. Both of them went on to surge past him, bring­ing his cam­paign for reelec­tion to an end.

Seattle City Council Position #8 (At Large)

The poll found incum­bent Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da in decent shape for reelec­tion. Mosque­da cruised in the Top Two, van­quish­ing a large field of lit­tle-known chal­lengers. She’ll be opposed in the gen­er­al by bridge engi­neer Ken­neth Mar­tin, who flew past Kate Mar­tin to claim the oth­er spot in the Top Two.

How­ev­er, although Mosque­da locked down almost 60% of the vote in the Top Two elec­tion, she did­n’t fare near­ly as well in Elway’s poll, which sug­gests some of her sum­mer vot­ers are not ready to com­mit to her can­di­da­cy yet for the final round. She received 33% in the poll, while Mar­tin received 17%. 40% were not sure.

Seattle City Council Position #9 (At Large)

The poll found Fre­mont Brew­ing cofounder Sara Nel­son ahead for the open coun­cil seat at 31%, with Nikki­ta Oliv­er close behind at 26%. 34% were not sure. Oliv­er led in our July 2021 poll, but was in sec­ond on Elec­tion Night. How­ev­er, by the end of count­ing, they had moved past Nel­son to claim the first place spot.

This is anoth­er race that seems like­ly to tight­en. Oliv­er-Nel­son def­i­nite­ly has the poten­tial to be one of the more com­pet­i­tive race for city coun­cil in recent memory.

Poll methodology

Elway Research sur­veyed four hun­dred like­ly Seat­tle vot­ers for Crosscut/KCTS9 from Sep­tem­ber 7th-9th, 2021. (Like­ly in this case means vot­ed in at least one gen­er­al elec­tion in a local cycle in the last four years… 1 of 2017, or 2019). 97 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed via land­line with a live inter­view­er, 146 par­tic­i­pants were inter­viewed via cell­phone, and 158 took the sur­vey via text mes­sage. The poll has a mar­gin of error of +/- 5.0% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Concluding thoughts

Though Har­rell, Davi­son, and Nel­son all lead their respec­tive races in this sur­vey, it’s ear­ly and their oppo­nents could eas­i­ly eclipse them.

Ann Davi­son and Sara Nel­son both led for stretch­es dur­ing the Top Two, only to watch as their oppo­nents zipped past them to grab first place in the late ballots.

And Bruce Har­rell, despite fin­ish­ing first, saw much of his com­fy lead over Lore­na Gon­za­lez evap­o­rate by the time cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rolled around.

Tere­sa Mosque­da is in a less com­pet­i­tive race, but can­not afford to be com­pla­cent, as the data sug­gests much of the sup­port she got last month was lukewarm.

The Seat­tle Times pre­vi­ous­ly endorsed Har­rell, Davi­son, and Nel­son, while The Stranger backed Mosque­da, Thomas-Kennedy, Gon­za­lez, and Oliv­er. We’ll see if the Times decides to get behind Mar­tin for Posi­tion #8. If they do, that would put each pub­li­ca­tion behind a com­plete­ly dif­fer­ent slate of can­di­dates for the general.

NPI does­n’t endorse can­di­dates or take sides in can­di­date elec­tions, but we will be doing anoth­er city­wide sur­vey of the Seat­tle elec­torate next month in part­ner­ship with Change Research. Those find­ings will be announced here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate when they become available.

Wednesday, September 15th, 2021

Seattle voters overwhelmingly favor policies to protect and expand the city’s tree canopy

Despite hav­ing been dubbed the Emer­ald City in 1982, and despite hav­ing a rep­u­ta­tion for sup­port­ing cli­mate action and envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, the City of Seat­tle cur­rent­ly lacks many of the pro­tec­tions that oth­er big cities around the Unit­ed States have adopt­ed to pro­tect their trees and urban forests from destruction.

While the city has com­mit­ted itself sev­er­al times to embrac­ing strate­gies to pro­tect trees and increase Seat­tle’s tree canopy cov­er — such as in this res­o­lu­tion from 2019 — the city has yet to fol­low up by enact­ing an updat­ed tree ordi­nance that would bring into force sore­ly need­ed poli­cies that oth­er met­ro­pol­i­tan areas have already employed to com­bat clearcut­ting and tree loss with­in their borders.

Con­se­quent­ly, Seat­tle is with­out essen­tial tools for vet­ting and scru­ti­niz­ing activ­i­ties or projects that would result in the unnec­es­sary loss of mature trees, as well as ini­tia­tives to plant new trees to improve the health of the city.

At the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, we believe that con­ser­va­tion and envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice should be foun­da­tion­al val­ues that guide city planning.

Trees and forests are a cru­cial ingre­di­ent in cre­at­ing liv­able cities. They are a neces­si­ty, not a nice-to-have. We also know from expe­ri­ence that good inten­tions and res­o­lu­tions are sim­ply not a sub­sti­tute for pol­i­cy tools.

Seat­tle’s trees can­not defend them­selves. The only way the Emer­ald City is going to stay emer­ald is if the city con­scious­ly choos­es to pro­tect its urban forests.

Ear­li­er this sum­mer, in the wake of the unprece­dent­ed heat wave that killed hun­dreds of peo­ple across the Pacif­ic North­west, we teamed up with TreeP­AC to gauge Seat­tle vot­ers’ inter­est in updat­ing the city’s tree ordi­nance and embrac­ing mea­sures to pro­tect and expand Seat­tle’s tree canopy cover.

From July 12th, 2021, through July 17th, 2021, our poll­ster Change Research asked Seat­tleites about a range of sen­si­ble ideas for cre­at­ing tree-friend­ly pol­i­cy tools. 617 like­ly August 2021 vot­ers par­tic­i­pat­ed, all online.

Every sin­gle idea we test­ed received not just a favor­able response, but an over­whelm­ing­ly favor­able response.

In fact, the tree pro­tec­tion ideas we asked vot­ers react to col­lec­tive­ly received more sup­port than any­thing else that we asked about in the entire survey.

As you’ll see in a moment, the mar­gins are about as lop­sided as they could pos­si­bly be, which just goes to show that even dur­ing a time of intense polar­iza­tion, there are still pri­or­i­ties that near­ly every­one can agree on.

Seat­tle may have a rep­u­ta­tion as a very pro­gres­sive, Demo­c­ra­t­ic city, but that does­n’t mean it lacks polit­i­cal fault lines. They’re there; they’re just dif­fer­ent from the more fre­quent­ly dis­cussed nation­al and state fault lines.

But what­ev­er their dif­fer­ences, the vast major­i­ty of Seat­tle vot­ers are in agree­ment that pro­tect­ing trees and urban forests is in the city’s best interest.

Questions and responses

Let’s now take a look at each of the ques­tions that we asked and the respons­es that we received. Our first ques­tion con­cerned the city’s tree pro­tec­tion ordi­nance, which, as men­tioned, is sore­ly in need of an update and is not being well enforced by city offi­cials. We want­ed to know if vot­ers were inter­est­ed in apply­ing an equi­ty lens to the repeat­ed­ly delayed work of rewrit­ing the tree ordi­nance, and pur­su­ing poli­cies that could help com­mu­ni­ties con­front the impacts of cli­mate dam­age. Trees are, after all, the best tech­nol­o­gy we have avail­able to reduce heat deaths.

“Trees are, quite sim­ply, the most effec­tive strat­e­gy, tech­nol­o­gy, we have to guard against heat in cities.”

– Bri­an Stone Jr., a pro­fes­sor of envi­ron­men­tal plan­ning at the Geor­gia Insti­tute of Technology

So, we asked:

QUESTION: Do you agree or dis­agree with the fol­low­ing state­ment: Seat­tle’s tree pro­tec­tion ordi­nance should be strength­ened to include increas­ing tree plant­i­ng in low income and pre­vi­ous­ly red­lined neigh­bor­hoods with insuf­fi­cient tree canopy to reduce heat island impacts and counter cli­mate damage?

ANSWERS:

  • Agree: 82%
    • Strong­ly agree: 57%
    • Some­what agree: 25%
  • Dis­agree: 11% 
    • Some­what dis­agree: 4%
    • Strong­ly dis­agree: 7%
  • Not sure: 7%

Though majori­ties in every age group were sup­port­ive, as the total sug­gests, young vot­ers offered the most enthu­si­as­tic response to this ques­tion of any age group in the poll, with 66% of those ages eigh­teen to thir­ty-four say­ing they strong­ly sup­port­ed the above state­ment, and anoth­er 24% say­ing they some­what sup­port­ed it. That’s a total of 90%. Only 7% expressed any opposition.

Their enthu­si­asm was almost matched by vot­ers ages six­ty-five and up. 65% of vot­ers in that age group expressed strong sup­port, with anoth­er 25% say­ing they some­what sup­port­ed the above statement.

89% of Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers, mean­while, voiced agree­ment, along with 64% of inde­pen­dents. And, in a find­ing that might come as a sur­prise to some, the Democ­rats and inde­pen­dents were joined by a plu­ral­i­ty of Repub­li­cans (42%).

What this tells us is that vot­ers don’t need to be con­vinced of the val­ue of think­ing of trees as “actu­al infra­struc­ture, rather than an ameni­ty,” in the words of Dr. Stone of the George Insti­tute of Tech­nol­o­gy. They already get it. And they’re eager for the city to col­lec­tive­ly put its mon­ey where its res­o­lu­tions are.

Next, we asked about a set of spe­cif­ic ideas for giv­ing Seat­tle’s tree ordi­nance more teeth. Most of these ideas would give the city a chance of trans­lat­ing its lofty rhetoric about pro­tect­ing trees and tree canopy into every­day actions.

We asked:

QUESTION: Please indi­cate your sup­port or oppo­si­tion for each of the fol­low­ing poten­tial ideas for updat­ing Seattle’s tree pro­tec­tion ordinance.

IDEAS & ANSWERS:

Increas­ing pro­tec­tions for sig­nif­i­cant and excep­tion­al (large) trees

Sup­port: 78%Oppose: 13%Not sure:
Strong­lySome­whatSome­whatStrong­ly9%
52%25%6%7%———

Adding replace­ment require­ments for sig­nif­i­cant and excep­tion­al tree removal

Sup­port: 76%Oppose: 13%Not sure:
Strong­lySome­whatSome­whatStrong­ly11%
47%29%6%7%———

Cre­at­ing a city tree plant­i­ng and preser­va­tion fund

Sup­port: 77%Oppose: 14%Not sure:
Strong­lySome­whatSome­whatStrong­ly8%
47%30%7%8%———

Requir­ing tree care providers (arborists) to meet min­i­mum cer­ti­fi­ca­tion and train­ing and reg­is­ter with the city

Sup­port: 75%Oppose: 14%Not sure:
Strong­lySome­whatSome­whatStrong­ly11%
41%34%7%6%———

Cre­at­ing a per­mit­ting process for removal of sig­nif­i­cant trees (trees greater than six inch­es in diam­e­ter at four and a half feet high)

Sup­port: 57%Oppose: 28%Not sure:
Strong­lySome­whatSome­whatStrong­ly15%
31%26%14%14%———

Sup­port for these ideas ranged from 78% in favor of increas­ing pro­tec­tions for sig­nif­i­cant and excep­tion­al (large) trees to 57% for cre­at­ing a per­mit­ting process for removal of sig­nif­i­cant trees (trees greater than six inch­es in diam­e­ter at four and a half feet high). Even that last idea, which was the least pop­u­lar of all the ones we test­ed, still got more than twice as much sup­port as opposition.

As with our ini­tial ques­tion, we saw high lev­els of sup­port from younger and old­er vot­ers. Vot­ers in our two mid­dle age brack­ets were also sup­port­ive, just not quite to the degree that vot­ers ages eigh­teen to thir­ty-four or six­ty-five and up were.

Last­ly, we asked:

QUESTION: Cities like Austin, Texas require devel­op­ers to max­i­mize the reten­tion of exist­ing trees through­out the plan­ning, devel­op­ment, and con­struc­tion process, while Seat­tle allows build­ing lots to be cleared of trees dur­ing devel­op­ment. Do you sup­port or oppose requir­ing Seat­tle devel­op­ers to max­i­mize the reten­tion of exist­ing trees through­out the plan­ning, devel­op­ment, and con­struc­tion process?

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 81% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 58%
    • Some­what sup­port: 23%
  • Oppose: 11%
    • Some­what oppose: 7%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 6%
  • Not sure: 6%

As with our oth­er ques­tions, we saw plen­ty of enthu­si­asm across the board.

By a mar­gin of about eight to one, vot­ers endorsed requir­ing devel­op­ers to max­i­mize the reten­tion of exist­ing trees through­out the plan­ning, devel­op­ment, and con­struc­tion process. By set­ting a new default for projects that’s friend­lier to mature trees, Seat­tle can join oth­er cities in mak­ing future rede­vel­op­ment projects more sus­tain­able and neighborhood-considerate.

Because mature trees take a life­time to grow, mere­ly requir­ing devel­op­ers to plant x num­ber of trees for any they cut down is not an approach that will cre­ate liv­able neigh­bor­hoods. We need stronger pro­tec­tions like the pol­i­cy pro­posed above.

Trees need to be con­sid­ered as assets wor­thy of preser­va­tion, not imped­i­ments. If it helps to think of trees as a form of infra­struc­ture, like Dr. Stone has sug­gest­ed, then let’s frame shift so that we can flip our defaults and stop need­less­ly los­ing trees when parcels are rede­vel­oped. Our trees are worth saving.

Survey methodology

  • Change Research, a Pub­lic Ben­e­fit Cor­po­ra­tion based in Cal­i­for­nia, sur­veyed 617 like­ly August 2021 Top Two elec­tion vot­ers in Seat­tle from Mon­day, July 12th to Thurs­day, July 15th on behalf of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online.
  • Change used tar­get­ed adver­tise­ments on Face­book, tar­get­ed adver­tise­ments on Insta­gram, and text mes­sages sent via the echo19 and/or Scale To Win plat­forms to cell phone num­bers list­ed on the vot­er file for indi­vid­u­als who qual­i­fied for the survey’s sam­ple uni­verse, based on their vot­er file data.
  • Regard­less of which of these sources a respon­dent came from, they were direct­ed to a sur­vey host­ed on SurveyMonkey’s web­site. Ads placed on social media tar­get­ed all adults liv­ing in Seat­tle. Those who indi­cat­ed that they were not reg­is­tered to vote were terminated.
  • As the sur­vey field­ed, Change used dynam­ic online sam­pling: adjust­ing ad bud­gets, low­er­ing bud­gets for ads tar­get­ing groups that were over­rep­re­sent­ed and rais­ing bud­gets for ads tar­get­ing groups that were under­rep­re­sent­ed, so that the final sam­ple was rough­ly rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the pop­u­la­tion across dif­fer­ent groups.
  • The sur­vey was con­duct­ed in Eng­lish, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Concluding thoughts: Time to unite for a greener Seattle

The Emer­ald City can only be the bea­con for envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice and cli­mate lead­er­ship that it aspires to be (and that it should be!) if it walks its talk. The city must enact a strong tree ordi­nance with­in the next few months to ensure that it tru­ly val­ues its nat­ur­al cap­i­tal. Trees and urban forests pro­vide incal­cu­la­ble, immense ben­e­fits to our built envi­ron­ment, from reduc­ing noise pol­lu­tion and pro­vid­ing shade to fos­ter­ing habi­tat and cap­tur­ing car­bon dioxide.

We have noth­ing to lose and every­thing to gain from speak­ing up for our trees and act­ing to pro­tect them. Our team at NPI believes that pro­tect­ing trees is and should be part of every urban­ist’s ethos. There is noth­ing incom­pat­i­ble about pro­tect­ing trees and build­ing attain­able hous­ing, or pro­tect­ing trees and pre­vent­ing sprawl. These are pri­or­i­ties we should be pur­su­ing in tan­dem. Imag­i­na­tive, respon­si­ble, tree-friend­ly devel­op­ment is what we should want for Seattle.

Pio­neer­ing urban­ists have long rec­og­nized how impor­tant trees are to the health of cities large and small. Sub­ur­ban Nation, a turn of the cen­tu­ry clas­sic cham­pi­oning urban­ism, con­tains an ear­ly pas­sage empha­siz­ing the impor­tance of trees in the built envi­ron­ment, con­trast­ing the wel­com­ing, tree-lined streets of Alexan­dria with the tree­less traf­fic sew­ers of Vir­ginia Beach:

On Alexan­dri­a’s streets, car dri­ve and park while peo­ple walk, enter build­ings, meet, con­verse under trees, and even dine at side­walk cafes. In Vir­ginia Beach, only one thing hap­pens on the street: cars mov­ing. There is no par­al­lel park­ing, no pedes­tri­ans, and cer­tain­ly no trees. Like many state depart­ments of trans­porta­tion, Vir­gini­a’s dis­cour­ages its state roads from being lined with trees, which are con­sid­ered dan­ger­ous. In fact, they are not called trees at all but FHOs: Fixed and Haz­ardous Objects.

The authors of Sub­ur­ban Nation were right to call out and shake their heads at this char­ac­ter­i­za­tion of trees twen­ty-one years ago.

Now, it’s time for Seat­tle to do the same by updat­ing its poli­cies. Vot­ers are ready and eager for action. The next May­or of Seat­tle and Seat­tle City Coun­cil must make tree pro­tec­tion a top pri­or­i­ty for the com­ing leg­isla­tive year.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Republican recall implodes as Californians give Gavin Newsom big vote of confidence

The Repub­li­can Par­ty’s plot to replace Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som with one of its own extrem­ist can­di­dates is crash­ing and burn­ing in spec­tac­u­lar fash­ion, not only leav­ing New­som in office, but giv­ing him a big boost head­ing into next year’s midterms, when he will once again be on the bal­lot as a can­di­date for reelection.

With 16.7% of precincts par­tial­ly report­ing, New­som had a com­mand­ing lead on the piv­otal ini­tial ques­tion in the recall, “Shall Gavin New­som Be Recalled (Removed) From the Office of Gov­er­nor?” Vote-rich coun­ties like Los Ange­les, San Diego, and San­ta Clara are over­whelm­ing­ly back­ing the no position.

The no vote stood at 68.2% as of press time with 5,074,795 votes, and the yes vote was 31.8% (2,365,971 votes). Net­works began call­ing the recall for New­som short­ly before 8:40 PM Pacif­ic Time, hav­ing seen enough data to con­clude that the Repub­li­can Par­ty’s attempt to seize the gov­er­nor­ship had failed.

(Network/Outlet Calls: AP | CNN | MSNBC | CBS)

New­som deliv­ered a short vic­to­ry speech begin­ning at 8:53 PM Pacif­ic, declar­ing that Cal­i­for­ni­ans had not just vot­ed no on the recall, but yes on envi­ron­men­tal jus­tice, yes to repro­duc­tive rights, yes to sci­ence, and yes to vaccines.

“I’m hum­ble, grate­ful, and resolved,” the Gov­er­nor said, focus­ing most of his remarks on his hopes for the future and express­ing a desire for the rejec­tion of the pol­i­tics of divi­sion, extrem­ism, and cynicism.

The Gov­er­nor took no ques­tions and con­clud­ed his remarks just before 9 PM.

“Once again, vot­ers reject­ed the Repub­li­can Party’s denial of the pan­dem­ic sweep­ing our coun­try and their sub­se­quent refusal to address it, reject­ed Repub­li­cans’ dis­proved con­spir­a­cy the­o­ries about our elec­tions, and reject­ed Repub­li­cans’ unwa­ver­ing loy­al­ty to the man who caused it all — Don­ald Trump,” said Demo­c­ra­t­ic Nation­al Com­mit­tee Chair Jaime Harrison.

“Tonight is a win for the bold agen­da put forth by Pres­i­dent Biden, Gov­er­nor New­som, and Democ­rats in Con­gress to build our coun­try back bet­ter, deliv­er on their promis­es, and get our coun­try back on track.”

“I am con­fi­dent we will con­tin­ue to do so in 2021, 2022, and beyond. Gov­er­nor New­som pro­vides the smart, capa­ble and focused lead­er­ship nec­es­sary to keep Cal­i­for­ni­ans safe and build the state’s econ­o­my back bet­ter amid the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. He has a strong record of deliv­er­ing for the peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia and I look for­ward to watch­ing him con­tin­ue that crit­i­cal work as governor.”

“The peo­ple of Cal­i­for­nia have spo­ken. They chose to keep an accom­plished gov­er­nor who has led on cli­mate & eco­nom­ic inequal­i­ty. In doing so they reject­ed a right-wing attack on sci­ence and pub­lic health. Con­grat­u­la­tions, Gov­er­nor New­som,” said Wash­ing­ton State Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee.

“I’m hap­py to have strong part­ner­ships with lead­ers like [New­som] and Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown up & down the West Coast,” Inslee continued.

“Our con­stituents are bet­ter served because of it. This elec­tion is also anoth­er resound­ing loss for the pol­i­tics of Don­ald Trump. Today’s results con­firm what we already know, that most peo­ple across the coun­try believe in the life­sav­ing pub­lic health mea­sures that will help us defeat COVID-19.”

It took a peti­tion signed by 12% of Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers in the last elec­tion to ini­ti­ate the recall. The recall cost the state $278 mil­lion. The race was effec­tive­ly decid­ed with­in fif­teen min­utes of polls clos­ing,” the BBC’s Antho­ny Zurcher tweet­ed.

Los Ange­les Times colum­nist Mark Z. Barabak offered this “tweet-length” analy­sis: “There are far more Democ­rats than Repub­li­cans in Cal­i­for­nia. Ear­ly inter­est + inten­si­ty were on the side of recall pro­po­nents. Once Gavin New­som and allies were able to rouse Democ­rats to vote in a weird­ly timed elec­tion, that was that.”

Past NPI Pres­i­dent and cur­rent NPI Advi­so­ry Coun­cilmem­ber Robert Cruick­shank not­ed: “There were near­ly 10,000 peo­ple send­ing more than 46 mil­lion texts against the CA recall this sum­mer, a tru­ly mas­sive mobilization.”

Change Research, one of NPI’s poll­sters, point­ed out the polling has sug­gest­ed a New­som vic­to­ry for a while, and espe­cial­ly in the final weeks, thanks to suc­cess­ful Demo­c­ra­t­ic efforts to rouse vot­ers ahead of today’s dead­line to return ballots.

“In late August, it had been over two months since any poll showed New­som with a dou­ble dig­it lead,” Change’s Ben Green­field wrote. “We were the first to see a changed race: No +15, due to an enthu­si­asm surge among Demo­c­ra­t­ic vot­ers. Based on ear­ly returns, looks like we were not only first, but we were right.”

“Yes­ter­day, before results were released in the Cal­i­for­nia recall, Lar­ry Elder’s cam­paign launched a web­site pro­mot­ing base­less claims that the elec­tion was stolen. We’ve reached the point where Repub­li­cans don’t even wait until polls close before claim­ing an elec­tion was rigged,” for­mer Sec­re­tary of Labor Robert Reich remind­ed his fol­low­ers, refer­ring to the top Repub­li­can run­ning to top­ple Newsom.

Elder, as expect­ed, is cur­rent­ly win­ning the irrel­e­vant sec­ond item on the recall bal­lot (who should replace New­som) with a plu­ral­i­ty of 42.1% (1,629,337 votes). Elder, who holds a wide range of extreme views, emerged as the “fron­trun­ner” among a pack of Repub­li­cans hop­ing to take New­som’s place after catch­ing fire with the Repub­li­can base, who were look­ing for a suit­ably Trumpian can­di­date to get behind and ral­ly around. They found their man… but he proved to be the per­fect foil for Gov­er­nor New­som, Pres­i­dent Biden, and the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

In a bit of sym­bol­ism of how anti­cli­mac­tic the results were, MSNBC wrapped up its spe­cial cov­er­age at 9 PM (mid­night East­ern) and began re-air­ing The Rachel Mad­dow Show instead of con­tin­u­ing to offer live coverage.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Washington gets a new U.S. federal judge: David Estudillo wins Senate confirmation

David Estudil­lo, the Sun­ny­side-born son of Mex­i­can immi­grants, was con­firmed by the U.S. Sen­ate on Tues­day as a Unit­ed States Dis­trict Judge for the West­ern Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton. Estudil­lo has worked as a Grant Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judge, appoint­ed in 2015 by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee as the first Lati­no to serve as a judge on any court in East­ern Washington.

“Judge Estudil­lo is a great exam­ple of the suc­cess­es and con­tri­bu­tions that many immi­grant fam­i­lies make to our great nation,” Sen­a­tor Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, said in a Sen­ate floor speech.

Cantwell and Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, put for­ward Estudillo’s name and he was nom­i­nat­ed to the fed­er­al bench in April by Pres­i­dent Biden.

A sec­ond West­ern Dis­trict nom­i­na­tion, of Seat­tle lawyer Tana Lin, is pend­ing in the Sen­ate with con­fir­ma­tion likely.

The state’s sen­a­tors have moved to give much-need­ed help to the fed­er­al bench in Seat­tle and Taco­ma, which has just two active U.S. Dis­trict Court judges.

Sev­en judges with senior sta­tus, their appoint­ments dat­ing to the Carter and Rea­gan admin­is­tra­tions, con­tin­ue to fill heavy caseloads.

Judge Estudil­lo has enjoyed wide, bipar­ti­san sup­port in con­ser­v­a­tive Grant Coun­ty, and cur­rent­ly heads the Wash­ing­ton State Supe­ri­or Court Judges Assocation.

Still, the Sen­ate vote to con­firm him was 54–41, with 41 of 50 Repub­li­cans in the U.S. Sen­ate vot­ing against confirmation.

The “no” votes includ­ed Sen­ate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McConnell and even Sen. Rob Port­man, R‑Ohio, often tout­ed in the press as one of the upper chamber’s most “rea­son­able” and col­le­gial Repub­li­cans. The “yea” Repub­li­can votes includ­ed Sen­a­tor John Cornyn, R‑Texas, a mem­ber of GOP lead­er­ship, Sen­a­tor Susan Collins, R‑Maine, and Iowa’s Repub­li­can Sen­a­tors Chuck Grass­ley and Joni Ernst. Ernst ini­tial­ly vot­ed No but switched her vote with Grass­ley stand­ing beside her.

Judge Estudil­lo built a prac­tice as an immi­gra­tion lawyer before being named to the supe­ri­or court bench by Gov­er­nor Inslee.

“He rep­re­sent­ed clients in tough removal pro­ceed­ings, suc­cess­ful­ly pre­sent­ing and try­ing claims for asy­lum, can­cel­la­tion of removal and oth­er forms of relief from depor­ta­tion,” Mur­ray said in a Sen­ate speech sup­port­ing the nomination.

“He also con­sis­tent­ly pro­vid­ed pro bono ser­vices at immi­gra­tion legal clin­ics to help immi­grants apply­ing for cit­i­zen­ship and often pre­sent­ed infor­ma­tion in Span­ish about immi­gra­tion pol­i­cy and pro­ce­dure all around the community.”

After his appoint­ment by Inslee, Judge Estudil­lo was twice reelect­ed to his Supe­ri­or Court seat, the sec­ond time unopposed.

After Don­ald Trump sent a parade of white con­ser­v­a­tives to the fed­er­al bench vet­ted by the Fed­er­al­ist Soci­ety, Pres­i­dent Biden pledged to diver­si­ty the make­up of the U.S. Dis­trict and Appel­late Courts. He has also pledged to put an African Amer­i­can woman on the U.S. Supreme Court when there is a vacancy.

Tuesday, September 14th, 2021

Link’s arrival in Northgate is a good reminder that Seattle voters are keen on getting more neighborhoods connected to light rail

In a few weeks, Sound Tran­sit is set to inau­gu­rate rev­enue ser­vice on North­gate Link, the first expan­sion of the region’s high capac­i­ty tran­sit sys­tem in five years. On the morn­ing of Octo­ber 2nd, three new sta­tions will offi­cial­ly join Line 1, known once upon a time as Cen­tral Link, cre­at­ing a safe and reli­able means of get­ting quick­ly between the Uni­ver­si­ty Dis­trict and North­gate, as well as points south, from Capi­tol Hill and down­town to SoDo and the Rainier Valley.

The new sta­tions are poised to once again rev­o­lu­tion­ize trav­el in Seat­tle, just like the Uni­ver­si­ty Link project did five years ago when its com­ple­tion con­tributed two new sta­tions to Line 1. Those new under­ground sta­tions result­ed in a mas­sive rid­er­ship boom, bol­ster­ing mobil­i­ty with­in Seat­tle and giv­ing peo­ple out­side of Seat­tle new options for get­ting in and out of the city with­out sit­ting in traffic.

As local read­ers know, the stretch of I‑5 between North­gate and down­town is one of the most noto­ri­ous­ly grid­locked seg­ments of high­way in all of Wash­ing­ton State. There are arte­r­i­al streets that par­al­lel I‑5, along with Auro­ra Avenue North (High­way 99), but they can be con­gest­ed too, mak­ing trav­el between North­gate and down­town need­less­ly cum­ber­some and stressful.

Link will change that. In a mat­ter of days, one new above­ground mul­ti­modal hub and two under­ground sub­way-style sta­tions will throw open their doors to rid­ers, and it will be pos­si­ble to com­plete­ly bypass traf­fic on I‑5 and adja­cent arte­r­i­al streets for seam­less trips between North­gate and down­town… or even short­er trips, like from the U Dis­trict to the south­east end of the UW’s campus.

The increased reach of our rail spine will also allow bus routes and sched­ules to be recon­fig­ured to pro­vide more and bet­ter ser­vice in north King Coun­ty and south Sno­homish Coun­ty, some­thing that tran­sit plan­ners have cho­sen to do in con­junc­tion with the new sta­tion open­ings rather than wait.

For those neigh­bor­hoods about to gain new sta­tions, North­gate Link is a tan­gi­ble and direct mobil­i­ty win. For oth­er neigh­bor­hoods, whether in Seat­tle or beyond the city lim­its, North­gate Link’s arrival reminds us that a more sus­tain­able future is pos­si­ble and with­in our reach — but only if we recom­mit our­selves to get­ting Sound Tran­sit 3 built and adding to that with a Phase IV expan­sion plan.

Back in July, when we sur­veyed Seat­tle vot­ers in advance of the August 2021 Top Two elec­tion, we asked about this very sub­ject. In part­ner­ship with Seat­tle Sub­way, we inquired whether vot­ers would back a new city-lev­el tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure to speed up con­struc­tion of light rail projects with­in the city limits.

We posed the ques­tion in two dif­fer­ent forms.

One ver­sion was accom­pa­nied by a map and referred specif­i­cal­ly to the pos­si­bil­i­ty of project delays sanc­tioned by Sound Tran­sit’s realign­ment process.

We released that results of that ques­tion last month before the Sound Tran­sit Board­’s realign­ment vote right here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.

Today, we’re pleased to share the oth­er ver­sion of our ques­tion, which found sim­i­lar­ly high lev­els of enthu­si­asm for expand­ing Link light rail in Seattle.

This ver­sion, rather than bring­ing up realign­ment, sim­ply notes that many neigh­bor­hoods in Seat­tle aren’t yet con­nect­ed to the sys­tem and still won’t be even after Phase 3 has been deliv­ered. The ques­tion then asks whether respon­dents would back a fund­ing mea­sure to change that:

QUESTION: When all Sound Tran­sit 3 projects are ful­ly built, more than half of Seat­tle’s dense­ly pop­u­lat­ed neigh­bor­hoods will still not have their own light rail sta­tions. Would you sup­port or oppose a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure to con­nect the rest of the City of Seat­tle with Link light rail?

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 76% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure: 48%
    • Some­what sup­port a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure: 28%
  • Oppose: 19%
    • Some­what oppose a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure: 6%
    • Strong­ly oppose a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure: 13%
  • Not sure: 5%

Our poll of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

As we can see, Seat­tle vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly favor a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure to con­nect more of Seat­tle’s neigh­bor­hoods to Link light rail. Near­ly half are in strong sup­port, more than twice the total num­ber who say they’re opposed.

Unlike in the 1990s, when our region was debat­ing whether we should even build light rail at all, we no longer have to rely on pic­tures from oth­er cities, archi­tec­tur­al ren­der­ings, or hypo­thet­i­cal trav­el times to make the case for high capac­i­ty tran­sit. The sys­tem we’ve already built makes the case for itself.

While vot­ers are sold on light rail as a good invest­ment, there is still the prac­ti­cal mat­ter of deliv­er­ing it to the neigh­bor­hoods that need it.

That’s why we asked about sup­port for a new tran­sit fund­ing mea­sure in two dif­fer­ent ways. Giv­en that we’re in the midst of a cli­mate emer­gency, we just can’t wait until the 2050s or 2100s to get Link into more neighborhoods.

We’ve got to fig­ure out how to accel­er­ate our high capac­i­ty tran­sit build­out so that we can be the cli­mate action and sus­tain­abil­i­ty leader we aspire to be.

No one appre­ci­ates the need for action more than our friends at Seat­tle Subway.

If you’re inter­est­ed in their efforts to cre­ate a city and region ful­ly con­nect­ed by fast, reli­able high capac­i­ty tran­sit, con­sid­er book­mark­ing their web­site, fol­low­ing them on social plat­forms, or sup­port­ing their work with a con­tri­bu­tion.

A reminder: Stay tuned for more Seattle polling!

NPI and Change Research will be join­ing forces again this autumn to sur­vey Seat­tle vot­ers in advance of the Novem­ber 2020 gen­er­al elec­tion. We look for­ward to bring­ing you more cred­i­ble insights about what’s hap­pen­ing in the Emer­ald City before vot­ers make their final deci­sions this autumn.

Monday, September 13th, 2021

President Joe Biden touches down in Boise; visits National Interagency Fire Center

Wel­come to the great Pacif­ic North­west, Mr. President!

Today, Joe Biden made his first offi­cial vis­it to Cas­ca­dia as Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States of Amer­i­ca, land­ing in Boise, Ida­ho to vis­it the Nation­al Inter­a­gency Fire Cen­ter (NIFC), which is locat­ed adja­cent to Boise Air Teminal/Gowen Field.

“The Pres­i­dent stepped off Air Force One at 11:54 AM at Boise Air­port and was greet­ed by Boise May­or Lau­ren McLean,” the White House press pool report­ed. “They spoke for more than a minute before POTUS [Biden] entered the Beast.”

(For read­ers who don’t know, the Beast is the pres­i­den­tial limousine.)

The press pool loaded into vans at 11:56 AM Moun­tain Time and was rolling to the NIFC about one minute lat­er. At 12:08 PM, the pool was escort­ed into the rig­ging shop of the Smoke­jumpers Loft for the briefing.

“Before the brief­ing began, pool was told that the Boise may­or pre­sent­ed a paint­ing of the Boise foothills for POTUS,” the pool report noted.

Video show­ing the gift is avail­able here.

“POTUS, wear­ing a blue suit, no tie and a mask, sat in the mid­dle of U‑shaped pan­el. Grant Beene, the assis­tant direc­tor for fire and avi­a­tion for the bureau to land man­age­ment, began the brief­ing by wel­com­ing the president.”

The brief­ing ran for about a half hour.

The pool was escort­ed out at rough­ly 12:35 PM Moun­tain Time.

“Col­or: there were para­chutes hang­ing from the walls, as well as mul­ti­ple pieces of taxi­dermy. Antlers were hang­ing to Biden’s right and the coat of a bear to his left. A large para­chute was pinned at the back of the room,” the pool report said.

Video of Pres­i­dent Biden’s arrival in Boise is avail­able from KTVB.

Read More »

Sunday, September 12th, 2021

Texas Republicans intend for SB 8 to be the template for gutting reproductive healthcare in the United States. It must not stand.

Ten days ago, a five-mem­ber right wing major­i­ty on the Unit­ed States Supreme Court allowed Texas Sen­ate Bill 8 to go into effect, in what felt like anoth­er death knell for democ­ra­cy and the civ­il rights of women and peo­ple with uteruses.

Billed by Repub­li­cans as the “Texas Heart­beat Act,” Sen­ate Bill 8 bans all abor­tions before six weeks of preg­nan­cy and puts antiabor­tion cam­paign­ers — or any­one inter­est­ed in mak­ing ten thou­sand bucks — in charge of enforce­ment, by estab­lish­ing a sys­tem where­by any­one may sue any­one who per­forms or facil­i­tates an abor­tion for a min­i­mum of $10,000 in statu­to­ry damages.

As med­ical pro­fes­sion­als have explained, SB 8’s nick­name (“Texas Heart­beat Act”) is a mis­nomer. At six weeks, a fetus is not ful­ly formed, so while there may be some lev­els of car­diac activ­i­ty, there is no heart­beat.

The name, like the law itself, is meant to intim­i­date peo­ple and put an excla­ma­tion point on the forced preg­nan­cy, forced birth agen­da that right wing Repub­li­cans across the coun­try have been push­ing for over fifty years.

Accord­ing to the Amer­i­can Asso­ci­a­tion of Preg­nan­cy, the major­i­ty of women will find out that they are preg­nant between weeks four and sev­en of their preg­nan­cies. With care clin­ics in the Lone Star State unable to offer abor­tion, women in Texas who find out they are preg­nant after six weeks will be a dif­fi­cult predica­ment. Many will no doubt be advised to go out of state for care.

In fact, clin­ics in near­by states like Okla­homa, and New Mex­i­co are already prepar­ing to deal with an onslaught of Texas-based patients in the future.

Apart from the fact that this has the poten­tial to over­whelm already thin­ly spread resources in sur­round­ing states, it is not a prac­ti­cal means of access­ing repro­duc­tive care. Inter­state trav­el is sim­ply not fea­si­ble for many women, par­tic­u­lar­ly women of col­or and eco­nom­i­cal­ly dis­ad­van­taged women.

Not all women in Texas have access to the trans­porta­tion or funds need­ed to trav­el hun­dreds if not thou­sands of miles for a med­ical pro­ce­dure they should have access to in their home state. Activists for wom­en’s rights and repro­duc­tive health­care providers have already spo­ken out about how Sen­ate Bill 8 will dis­pro­por­tion­ate­ly impact low income women of col­or, espe­cial­ly Black women.

A study from the Guttmach­er Insti­tute revealed that 49% of all women in the U.S. who received an abor­tion in 2014 were liv­ing below the fed­er­al pover­ty line.

Fur­ther­more, data from Texas Health and Human Ser­vices shows that Black women made up 29% of all Texas-res­i­dent abor­tions in 2020.

Fur­ther­more, 36% of Texas-res­i­dent abor­tions in 2020 were Lat­inx women.

Stud­ies have indi­cat­ed that high­er rates of unin­tend­ed preg­nan­cies occur among peo­ple of col­or due to deep-root­ed struc­tur­al issues that lim­it access to con­tra­cep­tives and oth­er forms of pre­ven­ta­tive care.

There is a grow­ing lev­el of appre­hen­sion that this new law bill will force vul­ner­a­ble young girls in Texas out of girl­hood and into moth­er­hood before they are tru­ly ready. To this, back­ers of restric­tive abor­tion leg­is­la­tion proud­ly tout adop­tion as an option. How­ev­er, as a fel­low adoptee, I know it is not that simple.

For some, car­ry­ing a preg­nan­cy to term and then giv­ing the baby up for adop­tion is a far more trau­mat­ic deci­sion than elect­ing to have an abor­tion ear­li­er on in the preg­nan­cy. For oth­ers, abor­tion is a med­ical­ly safer option than adoption.

Data from the CDC shows that pri­or to the ver­dict in Roe v. Wade in 1973 (which legal­ized abor­tion nation­wide), only 9% of nev­er-mar­ried women chose adop­tion as an option for an unwant­ed preg­nan­cy. After the 1980s, this fig­ure decreased to about 2% and was last report­ed below 1% in 2002.

Soci­ol­o­gists note that women are not nec­es­sar­i­ly choos­ing between abor­tion and adop­tion but abor­tion and par­ent­ing, which in cas­es means choos­ing between one’s goals and ambi­tions and rais­ing a child one nev­er want­ed to have.

As an adoptee, I know very clear­ly what it means to have grown up in a home where I had a par­ent who was ful­ly com­mit­ted to being a par­ent and who had the resources to sup­port a child. The detri­men­tal effects of being born and raised into a home where one is made to feel like a bur­den are obvi­ous to most.

Restric­tive abor­tion bans like this do not just strip one per­son, one par­ent, or one gen­er­a­tion of their repro­duc­tive rights, but also affect gen­er­a­tions to come.

Chil­dren born to moth­ers denied abor­tions are more like­ly to live in house­holds with­out ade­quate access to basic care. Like­wise, moth­ers of said chil­dren are less like­ly to form strong mater­nal bonds with their kids and are more sus­cep­ti­ble to feel­ings of resent­ment, and issues like these are often cyclical

And we all know — or should know — that these same (most­ly male) Repub­li­cans who are forc­ing women and peo­ple with uterus­es to car­ry preg­nan­cies to term are nev­er there when it is time to feed, clothe and pro­vide for the chil­dren who have been brought into the world as a result of those pregnancies.

Remem­ber, every Repub­li­can in Con­gress vot­ed against the Child Care Tax Credit.

SB 8 is not a heart­beat bill. It’s a heart­less bill. It’s a thought­less bill. It’s a repro­duc­tive rights deny­ing, free­dom-steal­ing bill. And it must be overturned.

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

Twenty years, twenty reads: Reflecting on the September 11th attacks two decades later

Today is the twen­ty year anniver­sary of the hor­rif­ic Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks. With two decades now hav­ing passed since that awful day, a lot of pieces have been pub­lished recent­ly about the attacks, their after­math, and how the tragedy affect­ed the Unit­ed States and the world com­mu­ni­ty. Here’s a col­lec­tion of twen­ty of the most inter­est­ing, thought-pro­vok­ing arti­cles and columns that we’ve seen.

“Survivors Are Still Getting Sick Decades Later”

This pho­to essay by Hilary Swift and Corey Kil­gan­non intro­duces a group of Sep­tem­ber 11th attack sur­vivors who were exposed to the tox­ic dust fol­low­ing the col­lapse of the build­ings at the World Trade Cen­ter com­plex. They note:

By some esti­mates, more than 400,000 peo­ple in Low­er Man­hat­tan, includ­ing those who lived, worked and stud­ied there, were exposed to tox­ic mate­r­i­al from the pul­ver­ized tow­ers, lead­ing to health issues that were diag­nosed many years later.

The George W. Bush White House, the EPA (then under the con­trol of Chris­tine Todd Whit­man) and Rudy Guil­iani all made state­ments or allu­sions in the after­math of the attack that the air in Man­hat­tan was safe to breathe, when in fact, it was­n’t. (Whit­man mem­o­rably said: “I am glad to reas­sure the peo­ple of New York … that their air is safe to breathe and their water is safe to drink.”)

NPI’s found­ing board­mem­ber Lynn Allen was among those at the World Trade Cen­ter on Sep­tem­ber 11th. She was able to walk out before the com­plex was destroyed, but was exposed to the tox­ic dust for hours there­after. Lynn died of ovar­i­an can­cer in 2011. Not a day goes by when we don’t miss her.

“How mass killings by United States forces after September 11th boosted support for the Taliban”

This piece by Emma Gra­ham-Har­ri­son exam­ines how the Unit­ed States and its NATO allies squan­dered an oppor­tu­ni­ty to declare vic­to­ry after dis­lodg­ing the Tal­iban and with­draw com­bat forces ear­ly on, then inad­ver­tent­ly fueled the Tal­iban’s long insur­gency by fail­ing to pro­tect Afghan lives.

“The insur­gency was not inevitable. There was a good chance for peace in 2001. Every­one, includ­ing the Tal­iban accept­ed they had been defeat­ed. But the US and their Afghan allies per­se­cut­ed and mar­gin­alised those who’d lost the war, not just Tal­iban but trib­al and fac­tion­al rivals of those who had seized pow­er,” said Kate Clark, co-direc­tor of the Afghanistan Ana­lysts Network.

“Gifts of Aloha”

This short remem­brance by Dean Sen­sui recounts a vis­it from a con­tin­gent of musi­cians, dancers and oth­ers to New York on the one-year anniver­sary of the attacks in Sep­tem­ber of 2002. The accom­pa­ny­ing video is avail­able to watch on YouTube. Sen­sui explained his role in the visit:

Mona Wood invit­ed me to come along to doc­u­ment it. There’s almost ten hours of footage. It was boiled down to this musi­cal mon­tage that bare­ly touch­es what every­one felt and experienced.

“Barbara Lee, Who Cast Sole Vote After September 11th Against “Forever Wars,” on Need for Afghan War Inquiry”

This inter­view from Democ­ra­cy Now between Amy Good­man and the amaz­ing Bar­bara Lee can either be watched or read using the pro­vid­ed tran­script; it delves into Lee’s coura­geous and his­toric vote against the autho­riza­tion for the use of force in Afghanistan as well as what Lee believes needs to hap­pen now to ensure we can learn from the mis­takes we made in Afghanistan.

The first call was from my dad, Lieu­tenant — in fact, in his lat­ter years, he want­ed me to call him Colonel Tutt. He was so proud of being in the mil­i­tary. Again, World War II, he was in the 92nd Bat­tal­ion, which was the only African Amer­i­can bat­tal­ion in Italy, sup­port­ing the Nor­mandy inva­sion, okay? And then he lat­er went to Korea. And he was the first per­son who called me.

[…] He said, “I know what wars are like. I know what it does to fam­i­lies.” He said, “You don’t have — you don’t know where they’re going. What are you doing? How’s the Con­gress going to just put them out there with­out any strat­e­gy, with­out a plan, with­out Con­gress know­ing at least what the heck is going on?”

“Just four people on floors above where Flight 175 hit Twin Towers survived: Two are ‘brothers for life’”

This arti­cle by Nathan Place of The Inde­pen­dent retells the sto­ry of Bri­an Clark and Stan­ley Praim­nath, two of the four peo­ple who were on floors above where Unit­ed Flight 175 impact­ed the south tow­er of the World Trade Cen­ter complex.

On 11 Sep­tem­ber, 2001, Mr Clark was at work on the 84th floor of the World Trade Center’s South Tower.

At 9:03am, Flight 175 struck floors 77 to 85 of the build­ing, with Mr Clark’s office at the top of the impact zone.

“Our room just got rocked, just destroyed in a sec­ond,” Mr Clark told the Asso­ci­at­ed Press ten years lat­er. “And it was for the next 10 sec­onds after that imme­di­ate impact – that was the only 10 sec­onds of the day that I was afraid. Ter­ri­fied, in fact.”

There were three stair­cas­es in front of Mr Clark. On an impulse, he start­ed head­ing down Stair­way A. He had no idea that was the only stair­case that hadn’t been destroyed.

“Foreign Terrorists Have Never Been Our Biggest Threat”

This col­umn from Paul Krug­man exam­ines how right wing Repub­li­cans exploit­ed the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks to push their own agen­da (includ­ing tax cuts and the dis­as­trous inva­sion of Iraq) while also sow­ing divi­sion and dis­cord, which would help set the stage for the Trump error in the mid-2010s. An excerpt:

The Repub­li­can Par­ty wasn’t yet full-on author­i­tar­i­an, but it was will­ing to do what­ev­er it took to get what it want­ed, and dis­dain­ful of the legit­i­ma­cy of its oppo­si­tion. That is, we were well along on the road to the Jan­u­ary 6th putsch — and toward a GOP that has, in effect, endorsed that putsch and seems all too like­ly to try one again.

“How TV, art, education, bigotry, country music, fiction, policing and love have changed”

This col­lec­tion of assess­ments from twen­ty-three writ­ers and five artists con­cise­ly explores the cul­tur­al impact of the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks on every­thing from tele­vi­sion shows to lit­er­a­ture to to music and theater.

Sep­tem­ber 11th, 2001, was first and fore­most a human tragedy, claim­ing the lives of 2,977 inno­cent peo­ple and leav­ing, in its wake, incal­cu­la­ble grief. The attack would alter the lives of U.S. troops and their fam­i­lies, and mil­lions of peo­ple in Afghanistan and Iraq. It would set the course of polit­i­cal par­ties and help to decide who would, and who would not, lead our coun­try. In short, Sep­tem­ber 11th changed the world in demon­stra­ble, mas­sive and heart­break­ing ways. But the rip­ple effects altered our lives in sub­tle, often-over­looked ways as well.

“I Lost My Father on September 11th, but I Never Wanted to Be a ‘Victim’ ”

This per­son­al essay by Leila Mur­phy, which ran in The Nation, dis­cuss­es Mur­phy’s expe­ri­ence as a mem­ber of Sep­tem­ber Eleventh Fam­i­lies for Peace­ful Tomor­rows and her dis­com­fort with the offi­cial rit­u­als of Sep­tem­ber 11th grief, “with their over­tones of patri­o­tism and vengeance.”

Twen­ty years after Sep­tem­ber 11th, the names of the vic­tims still car­ry weight. Though I have found a way to choose how I use that weight, I still feel uncom­fort­able with iden­ti­fy­ing myself as a vic­tim. I feel cer­tain that the Unit­ed sStates response to the attacks has not result­ed in justice—that vio­lence, secre­cy, and impuni­ty can­not be the answer—but I have also learned that real grief can only be felt, not relo­cat­ed to a par­tic­u­lar cause. That cause can remain essen­tial, and there may well be a role for peo­ple like me in push­ing back against the use of our vic­tim­hood for war and violence.

“Altercation: On September 11th, Was W. AWOL?”

This arti­cle by jour­nal­ist Eric Alter­man crit­i­cal­ly exam­ines the behav­ior of George W. Bush and his advis­ers on Sep­tem­ber 11th. As Alter­man explains, we’ve nev­er got­ten a full or an hon­est account­ing of what hap­pened that day from Bush or his inner cir­cle, who were sub­se­quent­ly caught fib­bing about the day’s events.

Twen­ty years lat­er, one could focus on lit­er­al­ly hun­dreds of aspects of the phe­nom­e­na that the attacks led to.

I want to look at just one rather small ques­tion: What the heck was hap­pen­ing with George W. Bush?

I choose this because with all that atten­tion to that fate­ful day, nobody seems to know the answer to that par­tic­u­lar query. Even after 20 years, we have no cred­i­ble and con­sis­tent account of why Bush and his entourage took the actions they did that day.

“I was responsible for those people”

This piece by Tim Alber­ta, pub­lished by The Atlantic (where he is a staff writer) pro­files his cousin Glenn Vogt, the man­ag­er of the Win­dows on the World restau­rant, which was locat­ed at the top of One World Trade Cen­ter. Vogt sur­vived the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks, while sev­en­ty-nine of his employ­ees per­ished. Vogt is “still search­ing for per­mis­sion to move on,” Alber­ta writes.

On the morn­ing of Sep­tem­ber 11th, Glenn had a sched­uled 9 AM meet­ing with his assis­tant, Chris­tine Olen­der, to plan for the restaurant’s New Year’s Eve celebration.

Glenn was a stick­ler for being ear­ly; a 9 o’clock meet­ing meant he belonged in his office by 8:45. That morn­ing, how­ev­er, Taylor—having stayed up the night before, talk­ing with his dad — was late for school. As Glenn walked out the door of their home in Westch­ester Coun­ty, Tay­lor, a sixth grad­er, yelled for him to wait. He need­ed a ride. It was that unplanned fif­teen minute detour that placed Glenn on the West Side High­way at 8:46 AM, when the North Tow­er was hit, rather than inside his office on the 106th floor.

“Alum Nick Scown on his new film ‘Too Soon: Comedy After September 11th’ ”

This film review by Mer­ritt Mecham offers a syn­op­sis of Too Soon, a new doc­u­men­tary from Uni­ver­si­ty of Utah alum Nick Fituri Scown that debuted on VICE TV sev­er­al days ago. The film is an explo­ration of humor in the wake of tragedy, and Scown was inspired to make it after read­ing The Onion’s Sep­tem­ber 11th issue, which is the first time he laughed after the attacks.

Over­all, what Scown wants to share with Too Soon is “humor’s abil­i­ty to break the spell of depres­sion and anx­i­ety” and show how a comedian’s job “is to find light in the darkness.”

As he was edit­ing the film through­out the course of the pan­dem­ic, Scown observed peo­ple flock­ing to com­e­dy again. “In try­ing times, what­ev­er ter­ri­ble news is hap­pen­ing that day, it’s these come­di­ans that we go to to help process that and try to take some of the pow­er away from anger and frus­tra­tion,” he said.

“The World Trade Center, Before, During, and After”

This essay by Justin Beal, which is an excerpt from his book Sand­fu­ture, pro­files archi­tect Minoru Yamasa­ki (a Seat­tle native!) and his works, which most famous­ly includ­ed the World Trade Cen­ter’s Twin Towers.

Nei­ther the Port Author­i­ty nor Yamasa­ki began with the inten­tion of design­ing the tallest build­ing in the world. The World Trade Cen­ter pro­gram called for 10 mil­lion square feet of office space — more than exist­ed in the entire city of Detroit at the time — and Yamasa­ki had to fig­ure out where to put it.

“Preserving the Selfless Heroism of the Passengers of United Flight 93”

This arti­cle by Paige Williams focus­es on Unit­ed Flight 93, which crashed into a field near Shanksville, Penn­syl­va­nia after the pas­sen­gers vot­ed to fight back and suc­cess­ful­ly con­front­ed the hijack­ers, as well as the sub­se­quent con­struc­tion of the Unit­ed 93 Nation­al Memo­r­i­al, now admin­is­tered by the Nation­al Park Service.

Locals arrived first at the scene of the crash, expect­ing to see a fuse­lage and per­haps even sur­vivors. Instead, they found it “eeri­ly” qui­et. The plane’s explo­sive impact, com­pound­ed by sev­en thou­sand gal­lons of jet fuel, had vapor­ized near­ly every­thing. Those on board had not just died; they had all but dis­ap­peared. First respon­ders found a crater marked by the ghost­ly imprint of air­plane wings, at the edge of a smok­ing, siz­zling for­est of hemlock.

“September 11th forged forever friendships between strangers who connected through tragedy”

This arti­cle by Nan­cy Dil­lon tells tells the sto­ries of Olivia Vilar­di-Perez and Brit­tany Oelschlager and Barabara Con­stan­tine and Ani­ta Wat­son. Vilar­di-Perez and Oelschlager each lost a father on Sep­tem­ber 11th and lat­er con­nect­ed at a camp for fam­i­ly mem­bers of the lost. Vilar­di-Perez cred­its Oelschlager with sav­ing her life at a low point, when she was con­tem­plat­ing suicide.

“Brit­tany saved my life that night. I want­ed to kill myself, and I called her, and she saved me. She remind­ed me I have a god­son and peo­ple who love me and asked, ‘Did I want to put them through what I went through?’ That shook me to my core. I kind of put all my stuff aside and cried myself to sleep,” she said.

“Still seeking September 11th perspective, twenty years after forgetting about baseball and covering real life”

This rem­i­nis­cence by Seat­tle Times sports enter­prise reporter Geoff Bak­er recounts his expe­ri­ence cov­er­ing the attacks (he was tasked with going to the Pen­ta­gon on an assign­ment for the Toron­to Star) and his thoughts on the annu­al com­mem­o­ra­tions of that event that have tran­spired ever since.

Nobody is just a sta­tis­tic. And on this twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of a day of death, that’s what I’ll stick with. And hope that oth­ers can join me in find­ing per­spec­tive that remains elu­sive long after one of the dark­est moments in this nation’s history.

“Some of the most iconic September 11th news coverage is lost. Blame Adobe Flash.”

This report from CNN’s Clare Duffy and Ker­ry Fly­nn dis­cuss­es how some of the online video from Sep­tem­ber 11th was made large­ly inaccessible/unplayable due to the dis­con­tin­u­a­tion of Adobe Flash, for­mer­ly known as Macro­me­dia Flash, a pro­pri­etary tech­nol­o­gy that used to pow­er online video sites (like YouTube) and was used for years before­hand by news web­sites to embed videos into web con­tent, or by gamemak­ers to pow­er online games.

Adobe end­ing sup­port for Flash — its once ubiq­ui­tous mul­ti­me­dia con­tent play­er — last year meant that some of the news cov­er­age of the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks and oth­er major events from the ear­ly days of online jour­nal­ism are no longer accessible.

For exam­ple, The Wash­ing­ton Post and ABC News both have bro­ken expe­ri­ences with­in their Sep­tem­ber 11th cov­er­age, view­able in the Inter­net Archive. CNN’s online cov­er­age of Sep­tem­ber 11th also has been impact­ed by the end of Flash.

“I was eight in New York during September 11th. How did it change me — and my generation?”

This reflec­tion by Ben­jamin Oreskes draws on the expe­ri­ences of his moth­er, cor­re­spon­dent Geral­dine Baum, who was an eye­wit­ness to the col­lapse of the World Trade Cen­ter on Sep­tem­ber 11th and report­ed on the tragedy for The Los Ange­les Times. Oreskes him­self is now a reporter for the Times.

The real­i­ty is I remem­ber very lit­tle about that cloud­less Tues­day 20 years ago. I’m not sure if I remem­ber or if my mom lat­er told me, but that night, when she got home, I thought she was a ghost because of the dust that coat­ed her clothes and hair.

I felt fear. I know that. But what else? Was I con­fused? Dis­tressed? Here’s where my par­ents’ rec­ol­lec­tions replace my own.

“‘Did my service make a difference?’ Post September 11th vets face unique challenges, questions after fall of Afghanistan”

This arti­cle by the Chica­go Tri­bune’s Ali­son Bowen focus­es on the expe­ri­ences of ser­vice­mem­bers who were deployed to Afghanistan (and sub­se­quent­ly Iraq) after George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Don­ald Rums­feld decid­ed to launch inva­sions of those coun­tries in 2001 and 2003 fol­low­ing the attacks.

Mark Doyle, a Chicagoan who was in Afghanistan as part of a foren­sic account­ing team and lat­er start­ed Rags of Hon­or, which employs home­less vet­er­ans through a screen-print­ing oper­a­tion, said many of his employ­ees men­tion the dif­fi­cul­ty of find­ing purpose.
“There wasn’t ever a clear mis­sion,” he said.

“What was all the sac­ri­fice for? That is what’s trou­bling all these peo­ple. Did my ser­vice make a difference?”

“‘And then I felt the building shake.’ Idahoans share memories on twentieth anniversary of September 11th”

This piece from Scott McIn­tosh (an opin­ion edi­tor at the Ida­ho States­man) weaves togeth­er sto­ries from Ida­hoans who expe­ri­enced Sep­tem­ber 11th, both in New York and North­ern Vir­ginia and in places far away, like McMur­do Sta­tion, Antarc­ti­ca, Saint Mar­tin in the Caribbean, and Check­point Char­lie, Berlin.

“I could smell the smoke in my apart­ment for days after­wards. And so every­thing about that day was just so per­son­al to me. And so every year I’m not sick of it and I’ll nev­er be sick of it because I’ll always stop and remem­ber, I always take the time to stop and remem­ber what that day was, and remem­ber what was lost and remem­ber how lucky I was to make it through OK.”

“Works of art that commemorate and shed light on September 11th”

This com­pi­la­tion by The Globe and Mail’s Mar­sha Led­er­man presents sev­er­al artis­tic works that Led­er­man describes as suc­ceed­ing in help­ing us remem­ber, and maybe even under­stand­ing things we weren’t quite able to grasp before. It ranges from lit­er­a­ture and film to stream­ing the­atre avail­able on demand.

Cre­at­ing a work of art around a recent hor­rif­ic event comes with a com­pli­cat­ed set of implic­it rules and poten­tial mine­fields. Do not exploit the vic­tims for your art, do not tie up loose ends in any sort of neat-and-order­ly way, do not cross the line into maudlin sen­ti­men­tal­i­ty. Make the view­er feel uncom­fort­able, but for the right reasons.

A day for remembrance, but also a day for good deeds

On behalf of the board and staff of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, our heart­felt con­do­lences to every­one who lost a friend or fam­i­ly mem­ber on that dark day, and our thanks to every­one who has con­tributed to help­ing take this day back from the ter­ror­ists and spread­ing kind­ness in its place.

Saturday, September 11th, 2021

In memoriam, twenty years later

Today is the twen­ti­eth anniver­sary of the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks, which destroyed New York’s World Trade Cen­ter, dam­aged the Pen­ta­gon, and claimed the lives of thou­sands of inno­cent Americans.

In hon­or of those who died that day, we’re repub­lish­ing a poem that we post annu­al­ly here on The Cas­ca­dia Advocate.

New York's Twin Towers

Two thou­sand one, nine eleven
Two thou­sand plus arrive in heaven.
As they pass through the gate,
Thou­sands more appear in wait.
A beard­ed man with stovepipe hat
Steps for­ward say­ing, “Let’s sit, let’s chat.”

They set­tle down in seats of clouds,
A man named Mar­tin shouts out proud,
“I have a dream!” and once he did
The New­com­er said, “Your dream still lives.”

Groups of sol­diers in blue and gray
Oth­ers in kha­ki, and green then say
“We’re from Bull Run, York­town, the Maine”
The New­com­er said, “You died not in vain.”

From a man on sticks one could hear
“The only thing we have to fear…”
The New­com­er said, “We know the rest,
trust us sir, we’ve passed that test.”

“Courage doesn’t hide in caves.
You can’t bury free­dom, in a grave.”
The New­com­ers had heard this voice before
A dis­tinct Yan­kee twang from Hyan­nis­port shores.

A silence fell with­in the mist
Some­how the New­com­er knew that this
Meant time had come for her to say
What was in the hearts of the two thou­sand plus that day.

“Back on Earth, we wrote reports,
Watched our chil­dren play in sports
Worked our gar­dens, sang our songs
Went to church and clipped coupons
We smiled, we laughed, we cried, we fought
Unlike you, great we’re not”

The tall man in the stovepipe hat
Stood and said, “Don’t talk like that!
Look at your coun­try, look and see
You died for free­dom, just like me.”

Then, before them all appeared a scene
Of rub­bled streets and twist­ed beams
Death, destruc­tion, smoke and dust
And peo­ple work­ing just ’cause they must

Haul­ing ash, lift­ing stones,
Knee deep in hell, but not alone
“Look! Black­man, White­man, Brown­man, Yellowman
Side by side help­ing their fel­low man!”
So said Mar­tin, as he watched the scene
“Even from night­mares, can be born a dream.”

Down below three fire­men raised
The col­ors high into ashen haze
The sol­diers above had seen it before
On Iwo Jima back in ’44

The man on sticks stud­ied every­thing closely
Then shared his per­cep­tions on what he saw mostly
“I see pain, I see 20 tears,
I see sor­row – but I don’t see fear.”

“You left behind hus­bands and wives
Daugh­ters and sons and so many lives
are suf­fer­ing now because of this wrong
But look very close­ly. You’re not real­ly gone.

All of those peo­ple, even those who’ve nev­er met you
All of their lives, they’ll nev­er for­get you
Don’t you see what has happened?
Don’t you see what you’ve done?
You’ve brought them togeth­er as one.”

With that the man in the stovepipe hat said
“Take my hand,” and from there he led
two thou­sand plus heroes, New­com­ers to heaven
On this day, two thou­sand one, nine eleven.

— by Paul Spread­bury, ded­i­cat­ed to the vic­tims of Sep­tem­ber 11th

Friday, September 10th, 2021

COVID-19 Update: President Biden unveils new plan to get more Americans vaccinated

It’s time for anoth­er install­ment of of our spe­cial series COVID-19 Update, bring­ing you the lat­est devel­op­ments on the nov­el coro­n­avirus out­break that pub­lic health author­i­ties here and across the coun­try are work­ing to mitigate.

United States

On Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 9th, Pres­i­dent Joe Biden took sig­nif­i­cant steps toward address­ing the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic after a deflat­ing sum­mer that many had hoped would be a return to almost nor­mal, instead inter­wo­ven with fear and dead­ly con­se­quences (most­ly for the unvac­ci­nat­ed), of the virus’ delta variant.

First, Biden announced that all fed­er­al employ­ees will be required to become vac­ci­nat­ed per an imple­men­ta­tion strat­e­gy to be cre­at­ed by each fed­er­al agency, with excep­tions only as required by law. Each fed­er­al agency will be giv­en spe­cif­ic guid­ance by or before Sep­tem­ber 16th by the Safer Fed­er­al Work­force Task Force to ensure as rapid and effec­tive a process as possible.

Sec­ond, all con­trac­tors and sub­con­trac­tors work­ing on projects for the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will be required to have all employ­ees vac­ci­nat­ed in order to con­tin­ue such work, with spe­cif­ic guid­ance for such firms in place by the Safe Fed­er­al Work­force Task Force in place by Sep­tem­ber 24th.

Any new con­tracts with the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will imple­ment such guid­ance and all such com­bined effort is to be ful­ly imple­ment­ed by Octo­ber 15th. This includes all employ­ees at health facil­i­ties that receive fed­er­al Medicare or Med­ic­aid, plus any employ­ee of Head Start or oth­er relat­ed Fed­er­al edu­ca­tion programs.

Third, the Occu­pa­tion­al Safe­ty and Health Admin­is­tra­tion (OSHA) will be cre­at­ing an Emer­gency Tem­po­rary Stan­dard (ETS) that requires all employ­ers with one hun­dred or more employ­ees to ensure their work­force is ful­ly vac­ci­nat­ed or require any work­ers who remain unvac­ci­nat­ed to pro­duce a neg­a­tive test result on at least a week­ly basis before com­ing to work.

All such employ­ees that need to be vac­ci­nat­ed will be required to be pro­vid­ed paid time off to accom­plish the task.

The net result is that around one hun­dred mil­lion employ­ees, almost two thirds of the work force in the Unit­ed States, will like­ly be required to be vac­ci­nat­ed by Octo­ber 15th.

“We’ve been patient. But our patience is wear­ing thin, and your refusal has cost all of us,” said Pres­i­dent Biden, speak­ing to the unvaccinated.

“We’re going to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by increas­ing the share of the work­force that is vac­ci­nat­ed in busi­ness­es all across America.”

And that’s not all.

Gov­er­nors will be urged by the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to require vac­ci­na­tion for school dis­trict employ­ees, but the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will con­tin­ue to pro­vide fund­ing for COVID test­ing for the time being.

Sta­di­ums, con­cert halls and oth­er venues for large events will also be urged by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to require proof of vac­ci­na­tion or neg­a­tive COVID test. (This mat­ters because if nei­ther item is sig­nif­i­cant­ly met in the near future, the next log­i­cal step will be avail­able — to fed­er­al­ly man­date such actions.)

The Biden admin­is­tra­tion also announced that it would offer finan­cial help to school dis­tricts that face penal­ties for cre­at­ing mask man­dates in states that have barred them, in an effort to pro­tect them from finan­cial loss­es that could come from penal­ties or fund­ing cuts. (Last month, the U.S. Edu­ca­tion Depart­ment announced that it was launch­ing civ­il rights inves­ti­ga­tions of five states that had barred schools from cre­at­ing mask man­dates, say­ing they may be in vio­la­tion of laws that pro­tect spe­­cial-edu­­ca­­tion students.)

Start­ing Sep­tem­ber 20th, if the Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion autho­rizes or approves boost­er vac­ci­na­tions for COVID-19, a cam­paign to deliv­er such boost­ers to the gen­er­al pub­lic will begin.

Mask require­ments will con­tin­ue for inter­state trav­el and with­in fed­er­al build­ings. The Trans­porta­tion Secu­ri­ty Admin­is­tra­tion will dou­ble fines on air­line, train and oth­er trav­el­ers who refuse to mask up.

The num­ber of phar­ma­cies offer­ing free test­ing will be expand­ed to 10,000. Wal­mart, Ama­zon and Kroger will offer at-home COVID tests at cost, about a 35% sav­ings for consumers.

Over 1,400 fed­er­al­ly qual­i­fied health cen­ters and hun­dreds of food banks will offer 25 mil­lion free tests — Med­ic­aid will be required to cov­er the cost.

The Pen­ta­gon will dou­ble mil­i­tary med­ical teams help­ing local hos­pi­tals over­whelmed with virus patients.

Fed­er­al agen­cies will boost ship­ments of a COVID-19 treat­ment known as mon­o­clon­al anti­bod­ies by 50%.

Med­ical teams will be dis­patched to help admin­is­ter the treatments.

Top loan amounts for small busi­ness­es affect­ed by the pan­dem­ic will be increased to $2 mil­lion from the cur­rent $500,000.

The response from the busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty and unions has been large­ly pos­i­tive, if also some­what cau­tious. The Repub­li­can Nation­al Com­mit­tee, on the oth­er hand, announced that it would be suing the Biden admin­is­tra­tion for plac­ing an undue bur­den on small busi­ness­es, con­ve­nient­ly ignor­ing the fact that the con­tin­ued spread of the coro­n­avirus is the real burden.

Wash­ing­ton

Yes­ter­day (Thurs­day, Sep­tem­ber 9th), at a press con­fer­ence, Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee expand­ed a statewide mask require­ment to include out­door events of more than five hun­dred peo­ple, regard­less of whether or not such par­tic­i­pants have been vac­ci­nat­ed, which becomes effec­tive on Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 13th.

He also request­ed that the peo­ple of the state of Ida­ho adopt mea­sures sim­i­lar to that adopt­ed by the state of Wash­ing­ton, as their actions can affect those imme­di­ate­ly across the bor­der in Wash­ing­ton State, and that the sit­u­a­tion is increas­ing­ly about work­ing togeth­er as part of a larg­er community.

Inslee also offered some of his strongest com­ments to date about those who remain unvac­ci­nat­ed, declar­ing it a pub­lic respon­si­bil­i­ty to be vac­ci­nat­ed and that those who have not yet done so are behav­ing irresponsibly.

“This is about patri­o­tism right now,” said the Governor.

Oregon

On Tues­day, Sep­tem­ber 7th, Gov­er­nor Kate Brown held a press con­fer­ence to dis­cuss COVID-19’s spread with­in the state and chil­dren return­ing to school.

“Because Ore­go­ni­ans are mask­ing up and con­tin­u­ing to get vac­ci­nat­ed, we have been able to cut the pro­ject­ed length of this surge.”

“How­ev­er, there are still chal­leng­ing times ahead. And we must remain vig­i­lant. Every action you take impacts how this plays out. Every time you mask up you’re help­ing our doc­tors and nurs­es do their jobs. Every time you mask up, you’re help­ing our kids return to school more safe­ly. And every time you mask up you’re help­ing keep our busi­ness­es and com­mu­ni­ties open.”

“It is with mixed emo­tions that we are wel­com­ing our kids back to school this year. I know many par­ents are excit­ed for kids to return to the class­room full time, and at the same time anx­ious about the Delta vari­ant. We all play a part in reduc­ing com­mu­ni­ty spread of this virus. Togeth­er we can stop the Delta vari­ant from spread­ing and keep our kids safe and learn­ing in the classroom.”

Idaho

Gov­er­nor Brad Lit­tle respond­ed imme­di­ate­ly to Pres­i­dent Biden’s announce­ment on Sep­tem­ber 9th, say­ing “Today’s actions from Pres­i­dent Biden amount to gov­ern­ment over­reach.” He con­tin­ued, “Gov­ern­ment should stay out of deci­sions involv­ing employ­ers and their employ­ees as much as possible.”

This was said less than two days after the Pan­han­dle and North Cen­tral Health Dis­tricts in north­ern Ida­ho declared “cri­sis stan­dards of care” allow­ing health care rationing for the area’s hos­pi­tals because there are more coro­n­avirus patients than the insti­tu­tions can han­dle. It is expect­ed that the sit­u­a­tion will get worse, with the same prob­lems spread­ing through­out the state in a mat­ter of days.

British Colum­bia

The provin­cial Min­istry of Health declared that as of Wednes­day, Sep­tem­ber 8th,  77.8% of new cas­es record­ed between August 31st and Sep­tem­ber 6th were among peo­ple not ful­ly vac­ci­nat­ed. Between August 24th and Sep­tem­ber 6th, they account­ed for 85.9% of hospitalizations.

Also as of Wednes­day, Sep­tem­ber 8th, 85.2% of eli­gi­ble peo­ple twelve and old­er in B.C. have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vac­cine and 77.7% have received a sec­ond dose.

On this same day, Dr. Shane Bar­clay, who has a prac­tice with­in the Inte­ri­or of the province, Sun Peaks, sent a let­ter to his patients, which since has been made pub­lic, stat­ing that no exemp­tion let­ters will be writ­ten for them unless they meet the cri­te­ria set out by health authorities.

“I am not pre­pared to com­mit fraud, so some­one can avoid a vac­cine,” wrote Bar­clay, who treats patients at the Sun Peaks Com­mu­ni­ty Health Centre.

The hard, cold numbers (plus vaccinations)

Wash­ing­ton has had 596,618 cas­es and 6,935 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-sev­enth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-fifth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

9,725,550 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 10,752,185
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 9,648,024 (89.73%)

Ore­gon has had 294,392 cas­es and 3,394 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the forty-eighth worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-sev­enth worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

6,508,079 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 6,346,975
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 5,042,792 (79.45%)

Ida­ho has had 231,056 cas­es and 2,447 attrib­ut­able deaths.

The state has the twen­­ty-third worst infec­tion rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

The state has the forty-first worst death rate among the fifty states, the Dis­trict of Colum­bia and Puer­to Rico per mil­lion population.

1,653,676 tests have been recorded.

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the state: 2,059,860
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 1,485,093 (72.1%)

British Colum­bia has had 172,338 cas­es and 1,847 attrib­ut­able deaths.

3,652,264 tests have been recorded.

British Colum­bia has the sixth worst infec­tion rate and the sixth worth death rate among the thir­teen Cana­di­an provinces and ter­ri­to­ries per hun­dred thou­sand pop­u­la­tion. (If it were an Amer­i­can state, it would be fifty-third and fifty-third, respec­tive­ly, out of fifty-three.)

  • Dos­es of vac­cine dis­trib­uted to the province: 7,853,200
  • Dos­es admin­is­tered: 7,570,924 (96.41%)

That does it for this install­ment of COVID-19 Update. Stay safe and well!

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Tim Eyman publicly pleads with wealthy right wingers for money to revive initiative factory

Flanked by two new side­kicks, Tim Eyman stood in front of the Sec­re­tary of State’s Elec­tions Annex this morn­ing in Olympia to make a Very Impor­tant Announce­ment: he’s ready to go back to hawk­ing destruc­tive ini­tia­tives (and would like to be hand­some­ly com­pen­sat­ed for doing so!) just as soon as possible.

Hav­ing spent a year a half inef­fec­tu­al­ly run­ning for gov­er­nor, appear­ing as a sur­ro­gate for fel­low grifter Loren Culp, and fil­ing futile law­suits against Wash­ing­ton State over Demo­c­ra­t­ic Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s COVID-19 safe­ty mea­sures, Eyman has decid­ed it’s time to go back to what he knows and loves.

Name­ly, dup­ing peo­ple into help­ing him ensure that Wash­ing­ton State’s upside down tax code remains per­ma­nent­ly rigged in favor of the rich.

But the noto­ri­ous chair thief and ser­i­al pub­lic dis­clo­sure law offend­er has a prob­lem: he does­n’t have the mon­ey to restart the gears of his inop­er­a­tive, rust-cov­ered ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry. No wealthy patron has yet stepped for­ward to write the six-fig­ure checks Eyman requires to resume his hus­tle. And appar­ent­ly, behind-the-scenes fundrais­ing efforts have sim­ply not yield­ed any fruit.

So today, Eyman start­ed beg­ging in pub­lic. Not for small dol­lar con­tri­bu­tions, which he does all the time using his email list, but for large ones.

Osten­si­bly, his “press con­fer­ence” at the Elec­tions Annex was to announce that he is launch­ing a new ini­tia­tive to ban all income tax­es, cap­i­tal gains tax­es, and Jump­start-style employ­ment tax­es every­where in the State of Washington.

But it was unmis­tak­ably clear that the effort is total­ly unfund­ed and not going any­where unless some real­ly rich peo­ple write some real­ly big checks.

And soon.

“This is our only chance to get this crit­i­cal ini­tia­tive on the Novem­ber 2022 bal­lot,” Eyman claimed. “Ini­tia­tives to the peo­ple next year will be impossible.”

“Cal­i­for­nia and oth­er states are going to monop­o­lize paid peti­tion­ers next year. Wash­ing­ton will nev­er be able to com­pete. The dead­line for us to turn in sig­na­tures is Decem­ber 30th. The num­ber of vot­er sig­na­tures we need? 400,000. The cost for a paid sig­na­ture dri­ve that guar­an­tees this ini­tia­tive will qual­i­fy for that Novem­ber 2022 bal­lot? $2.7 mil­lion. To get that many sig­na­tures — 400,000 — in such a short time­frame (Sep­tem­ber 9th to Decem­ber 30th), we need a hand­ful of Mike Dun­mires to quick­ly step in and finance this sig­na­ture drive.”

If you just read the above and are won­der­ing what’s a Mike Dun­mire, the answer is pret­ty sim­ple: Mike Dun­mire is the name of Eyman’s all-time top wealthy bene­fac­tor, a deceased invest­ment banker who financed Eyman’s destruc­tive cons for sev­er­al con­sec­u­tive years in the ear­ly 2000s (2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009).

With­out Dun­mire, Eyman’s ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry might have sput­tered to a halt, but Dun­mire kept it going by pump­ing huge sums of mon­ey into it. Dun­mire great­ly admired Eyman, and Eyman in turn was extreme­ly fond of Dun­mire. How­ev­er, even Dumire’s gen­eros­i­ty had its lim­its; he severe­ly cur­tailed his giv­ing to Eyman in the last few years of his life, forc­ing Eyman to look else­where for money.

For much of his career as an ini­tia­tive pitch­man, Eyman has tried to pre­tend to be a pop­ulist head­ing a sort of cit­i­zen-dri­ven “tax revolt” move­ment, when in fact, he is sim­ply a front­man for super­rich peo­ple who don’t want to be required to pay their fair share in tax­es. But today, in a refresh­ing bit of can­dor, Eyman most­ly dis­pensed with such false pre­tens­es and plead­ed open­ly for any right wing bil­lion­aires who might be lis­ten­ing to take pity on him and become his patrons.

“We need suc­cess­ful folks who are will­ing to break open their pig­gy banks.”

“Some of you can be a Mike Dun­mire for this crit­i­cal effort. Many of you are friends with some Mike Dun­mires. Please help us con­nect with those peo­ple,” Eyman beseeched his fol­low­ers. (A grand total of five peo­ple were then watch­ing the Face­book livestream, accord­ing to a screen cap­ture I saved.)

“For us to have any chance of qual­i­fy­ing for the bal­lot means rais­ing a lot of mon­ey,” Eyman reit­er­at­ed a few min­utes later.

“I’m doing every­thing I can to pro­mote this ini­tia­tive. To talk to all the Mike Dun­mires that I know. They know some Mike Dun­mires,” Eyman added, ges­tur­ing to his side­kicks Sid and Lar­ry. “We are not Mike Dun­mires. We are good guys will­ing to work hard, but we are not Mike Dunmires.”

“We need Mike Dun­mires to step up — sig­nif­i­cant­ly and quick­ly — if we have any chance of qual­i­fy­ing this to the ballot.” 

Empha­sis is mine. Again, “Mike Dun­mire” is Eymanspeak for rich peo­ple with megabucks who can make me rel­e­vant again. Whether or not this con becomes an actu­al threat we have to wor­ry about or not is entire­ly con­tin­gent upon whether any bil­lion­aires answer Eyman’s call, as he him­self admitted.

It’s worth not­ing that the last two right wing bil­lion­aires who trust­ed Eyman (Clyde Hol­land and Ken­neth Fish­er) got burned twice: first when they financed a 2015 mea­sure that Eyman had assured them would hold up in court but then did­n’t (I‑1366), and then again the fol­low­ing year when Eyman used more of their mon­ey in an attempt to intim­i­date Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors into doing his bid­ding.

NPI and Wash­ing­to­ni­ans For Eth­i­cal Gov­ern­ment caught Eyman in the act of run­ning an ille­gal inde­pen­dent expen­di­ture against those Demo­c­ra­t­ic leg­is­la­tors and filed a com­plaint with the PDC, which prompt­ly found Eyman guilty and for­ward­ed the case to Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son for legal action. The case end­ed in default sev­er­al years lat­er, result­ing in sig­nif­i­cant fines for Eyman.

We will be ready to respond again if Eyman and his pals suc­ceed in get­ting this new con fund­ed. If they don’t, it will implode on its own launch­pad, which would be the best out­come for every­body, Eyman’s fol­low­ers includ­ed, who stand to ben­e­fit from a more pro­gres­sive tax code just like all oth­er Washingtonians.

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Joe Biden will make his first stop as President in the Pacific Northwest next week

Pres­i­dent Joe Biden will be in the Pacif­ic North­west for the first time since becom­ing the nation’s Com­man­der-in-Chief back in Jan­u­ary when he took the oath of office, the White House announced in a media advi­so­ry today.

The Pres­i­dent will be mak­ing a stop in Boise, Ida­ho as part of an west­ern swing that will also include a stop in Den­ver, Colorado.

The Pres­i­den­t’s pri­ma­ry des­ti­na­tion on this trip is Cal­i­for­nia, where he is mak­ing an elec­tion eve appear­ance with Cal­i­for­nia Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som to urge vot­ers to turn out and vote no on the Repub­li­can recall. He will also vis­it fire-scarred com­mu­ni­ties in the Gold­en State to observe dam­age firsthand.

Here’s the notice from the White House:

On Mon­day, Sep­tem­ber 13th, the Pres­i­dent will trav­el to Boise, Ida­ho where he will vis­it the Nation­al Inter­a­gency Fire Cen­ter; Sacra­men­to, Cal­i­for­nia to sur­vey wild­fire dam­age; Long Beach, Cal­i­for­nia to par­tic­i­pate in an event with Gov­er­nor Gavin New­som; and Den­ver, Col­orado, where he will par­tic­i­pate in a Build Back Bet­ter event.  The trip will be pooled press. Addi­tion­al details to follow.

The advi­so­ry does­n’t say if Biden will be stay­ing overnight on the Left Coast, but a four stop itin­er­ary will make for a long day regard­less. For­tu­nate­ly, the Air Force knows how to get VIPs from A to B to C to D in an expe­di­tious fashion.

The Pres­i­dent has not yet vis­it­ed Wash­ing­ton or Ore­gon since assum­ing office, although that could change by the time the midterms roll around. Ore­gon will have an impor­tant guber­na­to­r­i­al elec­tion next year, along with a new­ly expand­ed con­gres­sion­al map, while Wash­ing­ton will have a U.S. Sen­ate election.

The Nation­al Inter­a­gency Fire Cen­ter, which the Pres­i­dent is vis­it­ing in Boise, is an impor­tant strate­gic facil­i­ty that hous­es teams of peo­ple work­ing on fire pre­ven­tion, con­tain­ment, and extinguishment.

“NIFC is a place. But it’s far more than a col­lec­tion of build­ings. It is the epit­o­me of inter­a­gency coop­er­a­tion and col­lab­o­ra­tion,” the agency explains.

“It’s the ener­gy of near­ly six hun­dred employ­ees, rep­re­sent­ing eight sep­a­rate fed­er­al and state agen­cies, engaged in mul­ti­ple aspects of the same mis­sion: to devel­op nation­al wild­land fire pol­i­cy and lead in its imple­men­ta­tion; and to serve as the logis­ti­cal and sup­port cen­ter for the nation’s wild­land fires and, at times, oth­er nation­al dis­as­ters and emergencies.”

Con­ve­nient­ly, NIFC is sit­u­at­ed right next to the Boise Air­port, which means the Pres­i­dent can fly in on Air Force One and already be with­in a few steps of the place he’s vis­it­ing upon land­ing. No need for a heli­copter ride or road clo­sures in the heart of Boise to accom­mo­date a motorcade.

The Pacif­ic North­west has not had a pres­i­den­tial vis­it since the Oba­ma era, as Don­ald Trump did not set foot in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, or Ida­ho dur­ing his occu­pan­cy of the Oval Office. Trump did, how­ev­er, make sev­er­al stops in Alas­ka and Mon­tana. Most of his trips to Mon­tana were in oppo­si­tion to Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­a­tor Jon Tester’s reelec­tion. Despite Trump’s efforts to defeat Tester, Big Sky vot­ers sent him back to the Sen­ate for anoth­er six-year term in 2018.

Thursday, September 9th, 2021

Incoming federal judges David Estudillo and Tana Lin will diversify and strengthen a federal bench that has spoken truth to power

A clo­ture peti­tion recent­ly filed in the U.S. Sen­ate sug­gests that we are close to a final vote on the con­fir­ma­tion of Pres­i­dent Biden’s nom­i­na­tions of Grant Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court Judge David Estudil­lo and civ­il rights attor­ney Tana Lin to the U.S. Dis­trict Court for the West­ern Dis­trict of Washington.

This is a big deal, for diver­si­ty on the fed­er­al bench as well as strength­en­ing a fed­er­al bench that has deliv­ered land­mark deci­sions. As Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, put it when the nom­i­na­tions were announced: “The fed­er­al judi­cial sys­tem plays a deeply sig­nif­i­cant role in shap­ing our every­day lives: It’s impor­tant to appoint high­ly qual­i­fied indi­vid­u­als who also reflect the make­up of our country.”

When appoint­ed by Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee to his Grant Coun­ty post in 2015, Estudil­lo became the first Lati­no to serve as a supe­ri­or court judge east of the Cas­cades. He has since been retained by vot­ers in the con­ser­v­a­tive Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton coun­ty, despite Trumpian cam­paign tac­tics.

Lin would become the first Asian Amer­i­can on the fed­er­al bench in West­ern Wash­ing­ton. She has prac­ticed civ­il rights law and once worked for the Civ­il Rights Divi­sion of the U.S. Jus­tice Depart­ment. She is pres­i­dent of the board of direc­tors of the Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of Washington.

The names were put for­ward by Sen­a­tors Mur­ray and Maria Cantwell, D‑Washington, in accor­dance with tra­di­tion. They “reflect the diver­si­ty we need on the fed­er­al bench,” said Cantwell, and both are “high­ly qualified.”

They need to be. Lives of North­west­ern­ers have been shaped by deci­sions com­ing down from the fed­er­al cour­t­house. Unlike the U.S. Supreme Court, which has increas­ing­ly sided with busi­ness and weak­ened civ­il rights enforce­ment, the under­dog has often emerged as top dog in rul­ings here.

The most famous rul­ing came in 1974 when U.S. Dis­trict Judge George Boldt, a Richard Nixon appointee, ruled that Native Amer­i­can tribes were enti­tled to fifty per­cent of the com­mer­cial salmon catch.

The fish­ing indus­try was out­raged: A block­ade of fish­ing boats greet­ed Pres­i­dent Ger­ald Ford when he arrived for a 1976 ral­ly at the Seat­tle waterfront.

Still, despite pre­dic­tions from then-Attor­ney Gen­er­al Slade Gor­ton, the Boldt deci­sion held up on appeal. And, thanks to Native Amer­i­can leader Bil­ly Frank, Jr., it became an impe­tus for restora­tion of dec­i­mat­ed salmon runs. To catch fish, Frank explained, both native and non-native fish­ers need­ed fish.

As sug­gest­ed by Inslee’s appoint­ment of Estudil­lo, the His­pan­ic pop­u­la­tion of East­ern Wash­ing­ton has found itself large­ly exclud­ed from high office.

And not by accident.

OneAm­er­i­ca and the ACLU, with help from the Perkins Coie law firm, won a land­mark rul­ing when they chal­lenged Yakima’s at-large sys­tem for elect­ing city Coun­cil mem­bers. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Thomas Rice found that by at-large vot­ing “the non-Lati­no major­i­ty in Yaki­ma rou­tine­ly suf­fo­cates the vot­ing pref­er­ences of the Lati­no minority.”

Three can­di­dates from the Lati­no com­mu­ni­ty were sub­se­quent­ly elect­ed to the City Coun­cil. Now it’s the coun­ty’s turn. Under a set­tle­ment now pend­ing in Kit­ti­tas Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court, Yaki­ma Coun­ty Com­mis­sion­ers will hence­forth be both nom­i­nat­ed and elect­ed by dis­trict rather than at large.

There are oth­er rul­ings that come to mind, too.

For exam­ple: Unpro­tect­ed old-growth for­est was being clear cut at a rate of 60,000 acres a year in fed­er­al forests of the Pacif­ic Northwest.

U.S. Dis­trict Judge Bill Dwyer ruled that the U.S. For­est Ser­vice was vio­lat­ing the Endan­gered Species Act by imper­il­ing the north­ern spot­ted owl.

Sen­a­tor Slade Gor­ton had cham­pi­oned Dwyer’s nom­i­na­tion to the fed­er­al bench by Pres­i­dent Rea­gan, but show­ered his old friend with denunciations.

Dwyer was also to throw out Washington’s ini­tia­tive decree­ing term lim­its for fed­er­al office­hold­ers, in a Supreme Court-qual­i­ty opin­ion that held up through appeal. Along with now senior U.S. Dis­trict Judge Jack Coughenouer – who pres­i­dent over tri­al of the Mil­len­ni­al Bomber – Dwyer was a pow­er­ful pres­ence whose influ­ence extend­ed beyond the local bench.

The most famous recent rul­ing out of the West­ern Dis­trict came in 2017, when U.S. Dis­trict Judge James Robart grant­ed a tem­po­rary restrain­ing order block­ing Don­ald Trump’s first trav­el ban tar­get­ing Mus­lims from going into effect.

The U.S. Ninth Cir­cuit Court of Appeals lat­er upheld Robart’s rul­ing, lead­ing to Trump’s Twit­ter tantrum against a “so-called judge.”

Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son has made mas­ter­ful use of U.S. Dis­trict Courts, in both West­ern and East­ern Dis­tricts of Wash­ing­ton, to block Trump actions, from roll­backs of envi­ron­men­tal reg­u­la­tions to attempts at ham­string­ing fed­er­al fund­ing to Planned Par­ent­hood. Judge Robart would go on CBS’ “60 Min­utes” to relate the threats and hate mail he received from sup­port­ers of the for­mer president.

(Robart has also presided over the U.S. Jus­tice Department’s con­sent decree and over­seen reforms to the Seat­tle Police Department.)

Assum­ing con­fir­ma­tion by the U.S. Sen­ate, Judges Estudil­lo and Lin can expect a full work­load. The West­ern Dis­trict of Wash­ing­ton has been reduced to just two active dis­trict judges — Ricar­do Mar­tinez and Richard Jones – while nine judges on senior sta­tus con­tin­ue to car­ry heavy work­loads.  Lawyers who are unpre­pared appear at their own risk in Jack Coughenouer’s courtroom.

The new judges can look around for reminders of jus­tice in the Northwest.

The Nisqually Nation­al Wildlife Refuge bears the name of Bil­ly Frank, Jr., who endured thir­ty plus arrests while cham­pi­oning trib­al fish­ing rights.

The jury room at Seattle’s new fed­er­al cour­t­house is named for Bill Dwyer, who pub­lished a book cel­e­brat­ing the jury sys­tem as he was dying of cancer.

The old fed­er­al cour­t­house is named for William K. Naka­mu­ra, a Japan­ese-Amer­i­can sent to an intern­ment camp with his fam­i­ly in 1942, but was award­ed the Con­gres­sion­al Medal of Hon­or as a sol­dier on the Ital­ian front in World War II. He was killed on Inde­pen­dence Day in 1944.

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Seattle voters eager for I‑5 to be modernized with seismic, accessibility improvements

Six decades ago, the Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion (WSDOT) set up an office to begin clear­ing land for the “Seat­tle Free­way,” a mas­sive project intend­ed to cre­ate new right of way for auto­mo­bile traf­fic through the city’s cen­tral core along with the neigh­bor­hoods to the north and south of it.

Interstate 5 shield

Shield for Inter­state 5

Over the span of sev­er­al years, con­struc­tion crews relo­cat­ed or demol­ished thou­sands of struc­tures on 4,500 parcels of land, lit­er­al­ly split­ting the city in half in the process.

The result was a twen­ty and a half mile artery for auto­mo­biles stretch­ing from one edge of the city to another.

How­ev­er, it would not be known as the “Seat­tle Free­way,” nor would it be signed with a tra­di­tion­al state or “U.S.” route num­ber, for Con­gress and Pres­i­dent Eisen­how­er had agreed in the late 1950s on leg­is­la­tion to cre­ate a new inter­state high­way sys­tem for the Unit­ed States.

It would take a cou­ple more decades, but by the end of the 1970s, Inter­state 5’s ini­tial build­out was com­plete. Des­ig­nat­ed by Con­gress as the main north-south route serv­ing the Unit­ed States’ Left Coast, Inter­state 5 is the only high­way that goes from the Cana­di­an bor­der at its north­ern end all the way to the Mex­i­can bor­der at its south­ern end, with a length of 1,381.29 miles/2,222.97 kilometers.

I‑5’s Seat­tle sec­tion is among its busiest. The twen­ty-mile Emer­ald City seg­ment nowa­days sees lev­els of traf­fic that would have been unimag­in­able in the 1950s when it was designed. The same is true of I‑5 seg­ments in oth­er met­ro­pol­i­tan areas, like Los Ange­les or Port­land, where I‑5 cross­es the Colum­bia Riv­er.

Despite I‑5’s impor­tance to Seat­tle, Wash­ing­ton, and the Pacif­ic North­west, it is falling apart. Decades of heavy use and inad­e­quate main­te­nance have left the high­way in increas­ing­ly bad shape. The Wash­ing­ton State Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion, aware of the need for action, has respond­ed with a series of leg­isla­tive­ly-autho­rized projects that it col­lec­tive­ly calls “Revive I‑5″.

“Com­plet­ing this crit­i­cal preser­va­tion work will take more than a decade, into the 2030s,” WSDOT explains on its project web­site, refer­ring to the dif­fi­cul­ty of work­ing on the high­way while also keep­ing it open to traffic.

“Man­ag­ing traf­fic and con­ges­tion dur­ing pave­ment preser­va­tion work requires care­ful and coor­di­nat­ed plan­ning that con­sid­ers time of year, region­al spe­cial events, changes to the tran­sit sys­tem and oth­er state or local road clo­sures. All sched­uled lane and ramp clo­sures for these preser­va­tion projects are care­ful­ly timed. How­ev­er, emer­gency repairs could hap­pen at any time. Sched­uled work reduces the chances that an inci­dent requir­ing emer­gency repairs may occur.”

As with the State Route 520 float­ing bridge replace­ment project and Alaskan Way Viaduct replace­ment tun­nel project, WSDOT is in a race against the clock. Wash­ing­ton State is earth­quake coun­try and a tem­blor could strike at any time, with lit­tle to no warn­ing, caus­ing mas­sive dam­age to I‑5 and oth­er infrastructure.

While I‑5’s integri­ty and future is often dis­cussed at state, coun­ty, or city trans­porta­tion com­mit­tee work ses­sions and at WSDOT staff meet­ings, it gets far less atten­tion than it should in the press and in oth­er settings.

As part of our July 2021 sur­vey of the Emer­ald City elec­torate, we decid­ed to ask Seat­tle vot­ers a series of ques­tions about Inter­state 5 ear­li­er this sum­mer to ascer­tain their aware­ness of the facil­i­ty’s seis­mic risks and access improve­ment needs, and their enthu­si­asm for mod­ern­iz­ing the highway.

First, we asked about aware­ness of I‑5’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ty to quakes. We includ­ed a map with our ques­tion show­ing high­ways in King Coun­ty, I‑5 includ­ed, that are crit­i­cal to region­al mobil­i­ty and at risk of earth­quake dam­age. We asked respon­dents how con­cerned they are about I‑5’s resilience, and found that the vast major­i­ty of Seat­tle vot­ers are either some­what or very concerned.

QUESTION: The map below depicts the state of risk of major high­ways in our area to severe dam­age in a major earth­quake. After review­ing the map, please indi­cate how con­cerned you are about the capa­bil­i­ty of Inter­state 5 to sur­vive a major earth­quake in Seat­tle and be avail­able for emer­gency use.Interstate 5 seismic risks map

ANSWERS:

  • Con­cerned: 82% 
    • Very con­cerned: 38%
    • Some­what con­cerned: 44%
  • Not wor­ried: 13% 
    • Not wor­ried: 10%
    • Not wor­ried at all: 3%
  • Unsure: 5%

Note: The map above has been updat­ed slight­ly for clar­i­ty in prepa­ra­tion for pub­lic dis­sem­i­na­tion since the poll field­ed in mid-July, but is oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal to the ver­sion that poll respon­dents saw when tak­ing the survey. 

Over eight in ten vot­ers described them­selves as con­cerned, ver­sus just 13% who stat­ed they were not wor­ried. Only 5% said they were unsure.

Most Seat­tleites clear­ly appre­ci­ate that I‑5 is at risk of fail­ure in an earth­quake, which is not sur­pris­ing, but nev­er­the­less reassuring.

Next, we asked vot­ers about improv­ing I‑5’s flow through Seat­tle’s down­town and First Hill neigh­bor­hoods. In par­tic­u­lar, we want­ed to know how vot­ers would react to the idea of relo­cat­ing some of the numer­ous entry and exit ramps that make this sec­tion of the high­way need­less­ly treach­er­ous to navigate.

We found plen­ty of enthusiasm:

QUESTION: The map below shows the entry and exit ramps to Inter­state 5 in down­town Seattle.

I-5 central city core ramps map

After review­ing the map, please spec­i­fy whether you would sup­port or oppose relo­cat­ing some of the Inter­state 5 ramps in down­town Seat­tle if this were deter­mined to be fea­si­ble for improv­ing traf­fic con­ges­tion and safe­ty issues.

ANSWERS:

  • Sup­port: 77% 
    • Strong­ly sup­port: 43%
    • Some­what sup­port: 34%
  • Oppose: 12%
    • Some­what oppose: 6%
    • Strong­ly oppose: 6%
  • Unsure: 6%

Note: The map above has been updat­ed slight­ly for clar­i­ty in prepa­ra­tion for pub­lic dis­sem­i­na­tion since the poll field­ed in mid-July, but is oth­er­wise iden­ti­cal to the ver­sion that poll respon­dents saw when tak­ing the survey. 

More than three-fourths of respon­dents indi­cat­ed sup­port for relo­cat­ing ramps.

Final­ly, we asked respon­dents to weigh in on I‑5’s future in their own words.

We offered the fol­low­ing as a ques­tion prompt:

QUESTION: Should the state pri­or­i­tize mod­ern­iz­ing the stretch of Inter­state 5 that runs through Seat­tle, from the north­ern city lim­it with Shore­line to the south­ern city lim­it with Tukwila?

ANSWERS:

  • 40% wrote sup­port­ive answers
  • 30% did not express a clear stance or made oth­er comments
  • 18% indi­cat­ed opposition
  • 12% expressed ambiva­lence or said they did­n’t know

The plu­ral­i­ty who wrote sup­port­ive answers expressed a lot of enthusiasm.

“100% would sup­port mod­ern­iz­ing the stretch of I‑5. It’s been a huge prob­lem with traf­fic and for peo­ple com­mut­ing to and out of Seat­tle,” wrote one.

“I‑5 is in such bad shape and neg­a­tive­ly dis­sects the city,” not­ed anoth­er. “It needs to be redone to bet­ter serve trav­el­ers, reunite neigh­bor­hoods it now divides and be cli­mate neutral.”

“Def­i­nite­ly need [I‑5 to be] more tran­sit ready and earth­quake safe,” agreed yet anoth­er respon­dent. “Sin­gle car dri­ving should be dis­cour­aged and the city needs to great­ly improve mass transit.”

A fourth wrote: “The state absolute­ly needs to pri­or­i­tize this project. The area is so con­gest­ed at near­ly all times of the day. It needs to be made safer also by mak­ing sure peo­ple can’t throw items from the over­pass­es onto cars below.”

“I would take pride in Seat­tle if it was one of the only cities in Amer­i­ca to actu­al­ly have its infra­struc­ture up to and safer than code,” said a fifth, who iden­ti­fied them­selves as a young Seat­tleite. “Mak­ing it more tran­sit friend­ly may be worth it, but upgrad­ing it so it’s safer than America’s bridges gen­er­al­ly is vital.”

Many of the small num­ber in oppo­si­tion sug­gest­ed it sim­ply was­n’t feasible.

“At this point just wait for the quake it will hap­pen before any con­struc­tion project could ever be com­plet­ed,” one respon­dent said.

“Can’t do every­thing,” wrote another.

“I do not con­sid­er this a pri­or­i­ty. We have more, seri­ous issues that need greater atten­tion, urgency, and fund­ing than cre­at­ing more con­ve­nience on our free­ways,” said a third, appar­ent­ly hav­ing inter­pret­ed “mod­ern­iza­tion” to mean “widen­ing”.

Oth­er respon­dents called for fix­ing the West Seat­tle Bridge first. (SDOT cur­rent­ly expects to par­tial­ly reopen the bridge to traf­fic next year.)

And still oth­er respon­dents expressed inter­est in how WSDOT would do the work with­out cre­at­ing addi­tion­al traf­fic prob­lems for I‑5 users.

“How will you min­i­mize dura­tion and sever­i­ty of traf­fic dis­rup­tions dur­ing this mod­ern­iza­tion process?” one respon­dent won­dered. “I‑5 in Taco­ma has been under con­tin­u­ous con­struc­tion for 10+ years.”

(WSDOT actu­al­ly has a pret­ty detailed traf­fic mit­i­ga­tion plan for the work it’s already got fund­ing to do, which is one rea­son why the work has such a long time­frame. Still, as with all con­struc­tion projects, there will be disruptions.)

Our poll of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

One of the themes run­ning through the open-end­ed respons­es was a desire for more and bet­ter tran­sit. Even though our prompt was about mod­ern­iz­ing I‑5, quite a few respon­dents spoke of want­i­ng to fin­ish build­ing out Sound Tran­sit’s Link light rail sys­tem and pur­sue poli­cies that reduce auto­mo­bile dependence.

That’s fresh and use­ful evi­dence that Seat­tleites under­stand that an auto-cen­tric trans­porta­tion sys­tem is nei­ther sus­tain­able or desirable.

The future is mul­ti­modal. Bet­ter tran­sit will lib­er­ate the Emer­ald City from car depen­dence, enabling more and more trips to be tak­en by walk­ing, bicy­cling, rid­ing the bus or train, or a com­bi­na­tion of all three. With that said, respon­dents do agree that we must invest in I‑5’s future. Mak­ing the high­way seis­mi­cal­ly safe will improve our abil­i­ty to recov­er from a major dis­as­ter and will pro­tect all users of the high­way, includ­ing those in bus­es as well as cars and trucks.

Only a frac­tion of what is need­ed to ful­ly mod­ern­ize I‑5 has been appro­pri­at­ed so far by the Leg­is­la­ture. Law­mak­ers are cur­rent­ly con­tem­plat­ing autho­riz­ing more funds for I‑5 by enact­ing a new trans­porta­tion pack­age that would build on the invest­ments approved in Con­nect­ing Wash­ing­ton six years ago.

Mean­while, Democ­rats in Con­gress are try­ing to reach agree­ment on leg­is­la­tion request­ed by Pres­i­dent Joe Biden that would make major invest­ments in infra­struc­ture along with Amer­i­ca’s social con­tract. If those efforts suc­ceed, I‑5 will almost cer­tain­ly be one of the facil­i­ties that benefits.

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