Category: Seattle/King Co (Page 1 of 4)

Here’s What Happens When a Woman Runs for State Senate… as a Republican

Seattlepi.com blogger Joel Connelly must not have been listening when former First Lady Michelle Obama called for political fighters to “go high.”

The veteran columnist’s first strike following the announcement that a new Republican has entered the pivotal race for state Senate in the 45th legislative district ran under the following headline:

“One of D.C.’s ’50 Most Beautiful’ shooting for Wash. senate”

Hat tip to The Stranger’s Heidi Groover for catching the original headline and posting it to Twitter with a tip from one journo to another:

The offense seems obvious. Instead of inserting any of Englund’s legitimate accomplishments into the headline, Seattlepi.com – and Connelly by association – chose to place a metaphoric tiara onto her head. Only the author of the headline knows for sure if the intent was to inaugurate a gross misconception that Englund is just a pretty face. *

We all know, however, what would happen if a female Democratic candidate received this treatment. A judgment of malice would come swiftly and the Republican candidate in the race would be asked to defend or repudiate obvious misogyny emanating from ‘their side.’

Nevertheless, within a few hours, the headline morphed into something less offensive, though still somewhat inaccurate and obvious in its intent. The scrubbing of the headline heads off a conversation in which uncomfortable questions about double standards practiced by the left would be asked. Have no fear, though. Based on water cooler chatter about how Englund’s candidacy and ethnicity have already been discussed in at least one liberal klatsch, there will be other opportunities.

 

* Ed. On the matter of whether Connelly authored the original headline, normally journalists are able to say honestly that they don’t write their own headlines. There’s no reason, however, to suspect this is the case with Connelly’s pieces, which is why we chose to preserve ambiguity.

To say that Seattlepi.com operates a streamlined editorial process would be a gross overstatement. Stories still run under the banner of a former print newspaper enterprise for which longtime locals have a fond memory, but now the masthead flies like a flag over a derelict ghost ship.

So, based on operational realities of a gutted newsroom (we believe this is sad, regardless of whether we agree with the general slant of Connelly’s writing), and other tell-tale clues that indicate a second set of eyes doesn’t often grace his work, we’re going suspect that Connelly was doing what has become commonplace in most threadbare news organizations – self-editing and self-publishing. There’s nothing wrong with that – we do that here at NW Daily Marker, too, out of necessity since we have literally NO operating budget outside of what the publisher (a.k.a, Me) spends from his own pocket.

Still, the authorship of the headline is relevant in assigning responsibility for what was an obvious and cheap attempt to diminish a woman’s more substantive accomplishments and instead push forward a narrative that her primary achievement is having a pretty face.

Jinyoung Lee Englund Announces in Key Washington State Senate Race

The wait is over. A Republican has stepped into what is likely to be this year’s spotlight race in Washington state.

Jinyoung Lee Englund announced Tuesday that she will run in the special election to fill the state Senate seat left vacant by the untimely death of Sen. Andy Hill.

Jinyoung Lee Englund, candidate for Washington state Senate. [Official campaign photo.]

Englund enters the race almost two months after Democrat and Deputy King County Prosecutor Manka Dhingra tossed her hat into the ring.

Time is money and Dhingra’s head start can be measured in dollars. As of the end of March, Dhingra had raised nearly $200,000, according to reports made to the State Public Disclosure Commission. Don’t expect the imbalance to be anything but temporary, however. Seasoned operatives expect the race to draw in record or near-record dollars from both sides.

The stakes are high. A Democratic win returns to them full control of the Legislature and brings Gov. Jay Inslee’s pen back into the picture as a tool to enact their agenda. A victory by Republicans retains the only solid foothold to stand on when moving forward fresh approaches and putting the brakes on bad ideas.

A Democratic proposal to enact a tax on income earned from capital gains is just one agenda piece that could swing with the 45th. Transportation angst is another and there are many more. So, although voters in the 45th will ultimately determine control of the Legislature, voter anxiety over those questions that will feature in the race is shared by voters statewide.

The full release that accompanied Englund’s announcement can be found on her campaign website.

The Seattle Way: Tax Soda, Subsidize Heroin All in the Cause of Public Health

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray’s proposal to slap a new tax on sugary drinks to promote good public health has irked at least one of the city’s restaurant owners. It should be angering even more Seattle business owners and residents, though not for the obvious reasons.

The mayor’s crusade exposes real inconsistencies and skewed priorities in the city’s approach to critical public health issues. Spoiler alert: Seattle is moving toward subsidizing and enable the use of destructive, addictive, and life-threatening illegal drugs such as heroin with so-called safe injection sites. I’ll get to that a little further down the page, but first…

The city’s lack of response to one White Center restaurant owner’s concerns about Murray’s proposed tax on soda pop prompted a protest of sorts.

Ryan Hopkins, owner of Burger Boss Drive-In, is using his roadside sign to let people know how the proposed tax would affect his customers, and how he feels about it. According to KING-TV:

It’s been pretty quiet around Seattle since Mayor Ed Murray proposed a tax on soda and other sugary drinks, but one small business owner is firing back.

Ryan Hopkins owns Burger Boss Drive-in and said he recently learned that the mayor’s idea could force him to raise prices on his large soda to more than $5.

He called City Hall, and when he didn’t get a response, he posted an eye-catching message outside his restaurant to get some attention.

The sign says “HEY MR MAYOR $5 SODAS? UR POP TAX SUCKS!”

Hopkins says he’s contacted the mayor in hopes of having a conversation but has yet to receive a response.

The initial outline for Murray’s soda tax proposed adding 2 cents per ounce for sugary beverages, though the details will not be disclosed until legislation is presented to the City Council. Why does Murray believe the new social engineering tax is necessary? Why, public health, of course. From The Seattle Times:

Murray has given two reasons for the tax on sodas, energy drinks, sports drinks, sweetened teas and more: improve health by reducing consumption of sugary drinks, and fund education programs aimed at improving the graduation rate of minority youth.

The mayor even compared sugary drinks to tobacco, saying “sugar is as bad as cigarettes in how we consume it,” on The Seattle Times’ politics podcast.

Let’s assume that Murray is right about the dire risk from drinking soda pop. Wouldn’t a safe soda consumption center be more consistent with the current dogma that pervades Seattle’s public health infrastructure? Those seeking the fizzy giddy rush of a cola would enter a community facility, guzzle their syrupy beverages in a supervised and non-judgmental environment, and then be sent on their merry way.

Of course, this is an absurd idea and not only because if a safe soda site was as “effective” in affecting health outcomes as Vancouver, B.C.’s safe injection site, Seattle would need to brace for a diabetes explosion.

No, the irony here is obvious: If drinking soda is bad enough that the city has to impose negative incentives to curb its use, is heroin – an illegal substance to begin with – less bad? Obviously, it is not less bad; it is much, much worse.

Nevertheless, Seattle’s leaders, elected by Seattle’s citizens, may this year choose to subsidize one activity that 100% of health experts agree poses lethal risk while punishing another behavior that is relatively benign by comparison. I feel safe in assuming that the risk of death by overdose after drinking a 64-ounce cola is as close to zero as actuaries can ever be comfortable stating.

Maybe this ideologically pure but logically backward way of thinking is one reason why Snohomish and Pierce Counties are leading the nation in net migration while Seattle-dominated King County lags.

[Featured image credit: Adobe Stock]

The Perplexing Push for Affordable Housing

Back in 2003, Mr. Words and I decided that we needed more open space than our tiny postage stamp yard afforded, so we started looking for a new home with a bigger yard. At the time, we lived in a virtual hovel in what was probably the worst neighborhood in a very expensive area and we knew we’d have to move farther “out” to find a house on more land within our price range.

Before that, many years ago, I lived in Sumner (now Bonney Lake), Washington, and worked in what is now called the SoDo District of Seattle. At the time, it was a 45 minute drive on good days, but could be much longer depending on traffic. In a car with no air conditioning. On bad traffic days in the summer, it could be brutal. But I did it because Sumner was the place we could afford a cute little house with a nice, big yard and friendly neighbors.

That’s what fiscally responsible people do, right? You live where you can afford the rent or the mortgage payment.

So you  might wonder why people like Seattle Mayor Ed Murray are constantly going on about the need for affordable housing and cutting deals by upzoning, or rezoning, various Seattle neighborhoods for more intensive use. This allows developers to build taller buildings, yielding more units with smaller footprints. The upzoning triggers a Seattle ordinance that requires developers include a minimum number of rent-controlled units in their buildings or pay a fee to help develop them elsewhere.

That might also lead you to wonder why Seattle effectively killed the micro housing industry, which naturally provided affordable housing units without the need for government intervention.

To get back to my question, why doesn’t Ed Murray (or other mayors in large metropolitan areas, for that matter) just let market forces work? Why do he and the city council prefer to force developers to include rent-controlled (i.e., government controlled) units in their buildings?

Let me propose this: Affordable housing is only an issue of government concern when that same government wants or needs “everyone” to live in densely populated urban centers, and rent control only when government pursues perverse policies that unnaturally limit the affordable units that would otherwise be provided through the free market.

If you’re wondering why the government cares where you live, let me direct your attention to ESS HB 2815. This was passed into law in 2008 in response to then-Governor Christine Gregoire’s executive order 07-02. The executive order set some fairly aggressive goals for CO2 reductions which, to an ordinary person, seem rather arbitrary and unattainable given the current state of technology. At least one provision of the law, participation in the Western Climate Initiative, was abandoned when it became clear that the State Legislature was not likely to to enact cap and trade.

One thing that did come to pass was the implementation of a work group to study various policies that could be utilized in pursuit of those carbon reduction goals. In November of 2008, the work group presented a report with their recommendations. Among other things, the report concludes, “However, to significantly reduce VMT and GHG emissions in Washington State, the majority of people in Washington State will need to live and work in places that both support bicycling and walking for shorter trips and provide reliable and convenient public transportation that meets mobility needs for longer trips.”

Right now, just under half the population of Washington State, roughly 48%, live in the three most populous counties, King, Pierce and Snohomish. But not everyone in those counties lives in an urban area with access to public transportation. Consider this system map from King County’s Metro division. Do you see all those areas that have no bus routes? Those are areas where leftists would prefer that people not live.

Below this paragraph is an aerial view of Covington, Washington, an area included on the linked system map. Does this look like an area that can ever “support bicycling and walking for shorter trips and provide reliable and convenient public transportation that meets mobility needs for longer trips?”  No, it doesn’t, because going almost anywhere is going to be more than a short trip. Is it ever going to be close to where the majority of the people living there work? No again.

Remember, the study group concluded that the majority of people in Washington need to live and work in urban areas. That means that to meet their goals, people who currently live in exurban and rural areas are going to have to accept that their lifestyles will change. This, in a nutshell, is why it’s vitally important to Ed Murray that the city include affordable housing.

If our leftist overlords are going to herd us into the cities so that we can live and work there like rats, there needs to be housing available. And too bad for you if you’d rather not live that way. Do you think it’s beyond the reach of government to make car ownership prohibitively expensive for middle class workers? Or tax you out of homes outside the reach of economically feasible public transportation?

Leftists embrace an ideology that’s diametrically opposed to liberty. They want to control where you live, where you work, what kind of vehicle, if any, you can drive, and where you can go. That doesn’t leave much to your discretion, does it, but, I mean, really…is anyplace you can’t reach via public transportation a place that’s worth going? So no big deal, right?

You have to admire leftists; they never do anything that doesn’t move their agenda forward. So the next time you see a leftist say or do something that doesn’t make any logical sense at all, look for the hidden agenda.

[This post first appeared here on the author's personal blog.]

Seattle’s biggest loser on Election Night 2016 was Kshama Sawant. Here’s why.

Kshama_Sawant_at_University_Commons_GroundbreakingIt’s clear that after last week’s elections, Seattle is in no danger of losing its place as the new West Coast capital of socialist politics.

But a reading of results on ballot measures and Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant’s comfortable re-election may obscure other indications that Seattle socialist movement has stalled, at least for now.

In general, Seattle affirmed and intensified its reputation as a bastion of liberal politics. They passed a transportation package that will move bikes — but not cars — marginally more efficiently and substantially more expensively through downtown.

Seattle voters also stood apart from the rest of Washington by rejecting yet another widely popular measure meant to constrain the state’s ability to raise taxes — Initiative 1366.

For good measure, they enacted an arguably unconstitutional, property tax-funded public campaign financing scheme, one that must have union and community organizers salivating in anticipation of opportunities for graft and electoral corruption like Seattle hasn’t seen for maybe a century or more.

One might assume that if you’re a moderate Democrat in Seattle, after all of those harbingers of civic decay rolled in, Sawant’s re-election would have come as a coup de grâce — a finishing blow.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to imagine that some of Seattle’s moderate city council members and frustrated business leaders may have quietly celebrated Election Night 2015 as “Freedom from Sawant Day.”

That’s because amid all of the signs that Seattle’s political hue has darkened from navy blue to blue-black, Sawant’s brand of militant ‘eat the rich’ socialism failed to expand either its market share or its legislative power.

As Sawant’s influence over the Seattle City Council has been enabled by belief that she represented the leading edge of a surging socialist tilt, so would the rejection of two city council candidates who campaigned alongside her on the issue of rent controlLisa Herbold (District 1) and Jon Grant (Position 8, at-large) — be recognized as the sleeper takeaway from the 2015 election: the empress has no coattails.

(Note: As of Nov. 12, Herbold only trails her opponent Shannon Braddock by six votes. Yes, that’s the number six as in half the number of eggs that go into the infamous mega-omelette at Beth’s Cafe. It’s hard to say whether a narrow win by Herbold would be interpreted as a mandate of any kind, but it seems certain that it can’t be seen as evidence of a socialist surge.)

Although Sawant’s ability to mobilize against her opponents has had moderates and progressives tripping over each other in a mad rush to move to the left, in order for those shifts to become permanent her ideological partners in crime needed to win.

Sawant may privately recognize the impact of Tuesday’s election, though socialist-friendly media may begin churning out cheap fan fiction featuring tales of secret Republican money and gerrymandered districts to explain away the losses by Herbold and Grant.

But money is just a means of activating voters, not a method of engineering votes. Voters spoke by rejecting candidates who did all but pinky swear to charter a Sawant-led caucus and form a new voting bloc if elected. Those losses dealt Sawant a double blow, politically, by depriving her of two reliable votes on her shoulders and by revealing to her adversaries that she lacks the power to unseat them.

Plain and simple: Sawant lost big time because elections matter more than choreographed protests when it comes to creating permanent political change.

I won’t cry for Kshama, but if she feels like forcing a tear or two she could reflect on the comparative success Tea Party and conservative groups have had in shifting the center of gravity in the Republican Party.

The stunning primary election ouster of then-House Majority Leader Eric Cantor by Rep. David Brat (R-VA-7) in 2014 was one such event that sent a message to the GOP establishment.

Last Tuesday in Kentucky, another such message was pounded home by hardcore conservative Republican Matt Bevin, who had run an unsuccessful primary effort in 2014 to unseat Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, was comfortably elected to become the state’s next governor.

In Washington state in 2014, many Republicans held their breath through a narrow victory by Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA-4) against fire-breathing farmer and former pro football player Clint Didier.

Conservative wins are incentivizing the Republican establishment to face a reality: intense conservative urges still exist within its base. A craving for more active responses to fiscal nonsense and creeping codification of progressive social policy might have been dismissed if not for the wake-up call that only elections can provide.

Sawant is a key figure in a fringe movement within the universe of Democratic voters. Seattle elections this year were an early opportunity to transform the mobilizing strength of her movement into electoral victories and expand legislative power. She lost that battle to win the political heights. Whether more reasonable, pragmatic minds will read the tea leaves and move to circumscribe Sawant’s power inside a smaller, appropriately sized space remains to be seen.

[The story has been edited since publication to reflect the very close race in Seattle City Council District 3.]

Teachers in Lake Washington School District Vote to Shut Down Schools May 6

Teachers in the Lake Washington School District voted on Thursday to shut down classes on May 6, the first approval by a King County teachers union to walk out to protest what they claims is a failure of the state legislature to fully fund basic education.

Educators in the largely suburban district serving the communities of Kirkland, Redmond, and Sammamish now join fellow teachers in districts in Pierce, Snohomish, Skagit, and Whatcom counties who have already conducted a one-day walkout or have voted to schedule a day of protest.

The Lake Washington Education Association’s—the union representing LWSD’s teachers—posted news of the walkout vote to its Facebook page late Thursday night.

LWEA joins Fourth Corner Locals in staging a one day  walkout against the legislature on May 6th. With an 83.5% vote of…

Posted by Lake Washington Education Association on Thursday, April 23, 2015

 

Prior to the LWEA’s announcement on social media, LWSD Superintendent Dr. Traci Pierce sent an email to parents notifying them of the impending walkout, saying the “LWEA worked closely with the district to schedule this action on a day that would minimize disruption for students and parents to the greatest extent possible.”

In the email, Pierce seemed also to speak for the teachers union, saying, “It is important for families to know that this LWEA action is not directed at the Lake Washington School District or the Lake Washington communities. We share the LWEA’s concern that the legislature should fully fund basic education.”

An official statement was also posted on the Lake Washington School District website.

Left-Wing Friendly Fire: Kshama Sawant Slams Obama Admin Study on Economic Damage From Min. Wage Hikes as ‘Right-Wing’

KshamaSawantIn matters of guns and political debate, it’s sound advice to positively identify your target before opening fire.

That wisdom proves doubly true when one is pulling the rhetorical trigger to gun down a bearer of bad news, as Socialist Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant demonstrated at a public forum on the city’s $15 minimum wage proposal held Tuesday.

Sawant knows all too well that the Achilles’ heel of her faux populist campaign to boost the minimum wage is its punishing consequences on low-skilled workers.

So, when faced with a 2008 study of minimum wage hikes in American Samoa that found evidence of those negative impacts, Sawant shot from the hip, pulling the trigger with the speed of Wyatt Earp but the factual accuracy of, well, a typical Seattle liberal.

Sawant elected to dismiss and demonize the study as the work of the “right-wing think tank” the Freedom Foundation, when in fact the study was the work of the Obama Administration’s Government Accountability Office.

Oops.

Freedom Foundation labor policy analyst Maxford Nelsen wrote today about Sawant’s amusing act of friendly fire: [emphasis added]

Newly-elected Socialist Seattle City Council Member Kshama Sawant is better known for her incendiary rhetoric than her policy acumen. Her recent comments at a minimum wage forum at Seattle Central Community College exhibit either a lack of knowledge on the issue or a startling deficiency of candor.

One attendee asked Sawant about the economic consequences of increasing the minimum wage. In his comments, the gentleman noted that the U.S. territory of American Samoa had recently experienced significant economic damage after Congress mandated sharp increases in the territory’s minimum wage.

Sawant responded by claiming that the American Samoa study “has been done by some organization called the Freedom Foundation, which is a right-wing think-tank.” Her comments about the study’s validity were unequivocal. …

There’s only one-problem: the report was actually written by the Obama Administration’s Government Accountability Office (GAO), not the “right-wing” Freedom Foundation. While we have cited the study, we are not its authors.

It’s one thing to be disgruntled about the findings of a study that affirms common sense – a drastic raise in the minimum wage will limit opportunities for low-skilled workers and force companies to make workforce cuts to compensate for the increased labor costs, both of which will result in a net job loss overall. For a true believer in socialism, facing third-party affirmation that wage controls do create negative outcomes in a free market economy must be hard to deal with.

But Sawant’s sloppy and knee-jerk handling of evidence she doesn’t like — a full-on ‘metatarsal-jammed-in-your-windpipe’-grade debating disaster — should discredit Sawant as being nothing more than an ideological hack. Should, but probably won’t, as the Seattle media’s love affair with Sawant, pushing her forward as a lightning rod figure who is probably generating clicks and ratings points at a rate that previous City Council mavericks such as Charlie Chong could only have dreamed of.

Watch the entire video of Sawant in all of her ultra-confident wrongness below and then read Nelsen’s entire post on the Freedom Foundation website. It’s important to fully understand the real reason Sawant would like American Samoa’s real-world experience with minimum wage hikes to be a right-wing myth.

Taxpayer-Funded ‘EcoConsumer’ Ignores Data to Attack Private Solutions as Alternative to Government Program

When innovators working in a free-market come up with a better, environmentally friendly solution to a problem, what is the reaction of government agencies? Attack it.

Tom Watson, a King County employee who calls himself the “EcoConsumer,” offers his thoughts on how to be a good environmentalist. On his (taxpayer-paid) blog, you will find a range of topics, from praise for Occupy Wall Street to recommending that people eat more kimchi (he calls it one of the “most enviro-friendly foods you can eat” but doesn’t explain why).

Recently, he attacked the Car2Go program in Seattle, noting darkly that it is “owned by the giant international corporation Daimler,” and worrying that people using the cars aren’t using public transit. He wrote:

Governments and the public need to support public transit. If a new transportation option is resulting in people getting off public transit and using fossil-fuel-burning, privately-owned vehicles instead…that could be a problem.

He goes on to warn that the “King County Metro Transit bus system is currently facing potential major cuts in service because of a lack of funding.”

As is too often the case with the county’s EcoConsumer, he chooses pontification over science, and government over the environment.

While Watson is quick to defend government programs, he doesn’t provide any data to support his arguments. In fact, Car2Go may be the better policy for the environment.

According to Metro, King County buses in 2011 saw 441,634,833 passenger miles using 10,484,083 gallons of fuel, amounting to 42.12 passenger miles per gallon. This is a countywide number and includes Seattle trolleys that are all-electric and use no fuel. Since Car2Go offers cars only in Seattle, it is hard to know whether this fuel number is high or low. On the one hand, trolleys are primarily in Seattle, which would increase overall fuel efficiency. On the other hand, most Seattle buses are diesel-powered and fuel efficiency, even for hybrid buses, is much worse on city streets than highways.

By way of comparison, Car2Go Smart Cars average about 34 MPG. Assuming that one-in-four trips in a Car2Go has two people, the average gas mileage per passenger increases to 42.5 passenger miles per gallon. A Car2Go would be more environmentally friendly even if every person using the service came from buses.

There is some margin of error here, but the numbers are extremely close. The experience with another car-sharing service, ZipCar, is that car sharing allows people to avoid purchasing an extra car. This is a more efficient use of resources.

When you combine the fuel efficiency of Car2Go with the ability to avoid purchasing an additional car, the program is a clear win for the environment.

There are additional reasons to support Car2Go.

First, taxpayers subsidize every public transit rider, rich or poor. If Car2Go shifts costs from taxpayers onto those who can pay for themselves, it allows Metro to focus on serving the poor, who have few options beyond public transit. Requiring working families to subsidize people who can pay for themselves makes no sense — unless you simply believe that all government programs are superior to the private sector.

Second, government exists to serve people, not the other way around. The King County EcoConsumer’s basic argument is that people need to sacrifice themselves to make life easier for government. I can understand why government employees find that argument attractive and demand more money and more sacrifice from others, but it doesn’t fit with any democratic concept of government.

This is just the latest failure of the EcoConsumer to get the science right. He is emblematic of environmentalism that values government over the environment, and feel-good policies over science.

If the EcoConsumer doesn’t care enough to spend the time on accurate, science-based information, why would we believe he actually cares about helping the environment?

 

[Reposted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog]

Kirkland Poll on Plastic Bags: Strong Opposition to a Ban

Elway_KirklandPlaticBagPoll_01 After other local cities have banned plastic grocery bags, the City of Kirkland commissioned a public opinion survey to see what residents would think about bringing the policy to the community. Not much, apparently.

Two results stand out.

First, strong majorities opposed charging for plastic bags or banning them altogether. By more than a two-to-one margin, Kirkland residents oppose a plastic bag ban. Similar margins oppose charging for the bags.

The poll also asked if people would support requiring stores to include recycling bins or voluntarily reducing the use of plastic bags, although it is unclear what that means. Strong majorities supported those options.

The policy drawing the strongest opposition was when people were asked if they supported charging for any bags. A greater than three-to-one margin opposed that policy.

I also found it interesting that many people reported reusing their plastic bags. One of the common talking points against plastic bags (repeated by Thurston County staff in their own report I addressed last week) is that plastic bags have low recycle rates. They intentionally leave out, however, that plastic bags have very high rates of reuse.

Elway_KirklandPlaticBagPoll_02In the Kirkland poll, fifty-two percent of residents reported reusing their plastic grocery bags. Those who answered the survey reported a combined reuse and recycle rate for plastic grocery bags of 85 percent. Assuming some margin for error, and some who don’t want to admit throwing them away, this is virtually identical to the reuse and recycling rate for paper bags.

This also indicates that a ban on plastic bags is unlikely to achieve the promised environmental benefits. Plastic grocery bags are reused for a variety of purposes, and without the bags, people would simply purchase or acquire plastic bags in some other way for those same purposes. Trust me, you can’t pick up after your dog with a paper bag.

My sense is that people believe plastic bag bans are good for the environment but are unwilling to deal with the cost and hassle. If they found out that plastic bag bans were actually bad for the environment, the poll numbers would be even worse. As it is, politicians looking to ban plastic bags will do so at their own risk.

 

[Reposted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog; featured image: ]

Is the Bullitt Center Worth The Carbon Emissions of Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville Combined?

Sunday was Earth Day and Governor Inslee and Mayor McGinn attended the opening of the Bullitt Center, billed as the “greenest” building on the planet. One of the selling points is that it creates more energy than it uses. But, is it really green?

The Seattle Times notes the building cost $30 million to build and is 50,000 square feet. That amounts to construction costs of $600 a square foot. Last year, Crosscut reported the Bullitt Foundation expected it to cost much less, noting at the time that “The $30 million Center will run about $350 a square foot in construction costs finished – about $50 more per square foot than your typical commercial building.” Even if Crosscut’s previous projection was incorrect, the Bullitt Center is still twice as expensive as a typical commercial building.

Assuming these numbers are correct, the Bullitt Center cost $15 million more than a comparable building. What environmental benefits do they get for all that additional cost?

With the same amount of money, here are a few things they could have done to benefit the environment:

  • Eliminate all carbon emissions from Issaquah, Sammamish, Snoqualmie and Woodinville for an entire year – 1.5 million metric tons of CO2.
  • Fund five years of the Puget Sound Partnership’s #6 priority, matching federal grants from the Natural Resources Conservation Service, which is zeroed out in the Governor’s budget.
  • Fund three years of the gap between the agency request and the Governor’s budget for the Floodplain Management Local Grant Program. The request is $6 million, but the Governor’s budget funds only $1 million.
  • Fund half of all Pollution Prevention & Cleanup projects the Puget Sound Partnership lists as needing “additional resources” to complete before 2020.

Remember, this is the additional cost for one building. If this building is truly the model some hope, hundreds of millions of dollars could be spent to meet these standards rather than fund other environmental priorities.

Will the Bullitt Center provide more environmental benefit than could be provided by any of the above? That remains to be seen. Even if it falls short of these alternatives, it will likely be claimed that the building was an experiment and it is important to learn from successes as well as mistakes. That is certainly true. Knowledge is pushed forward by people taking risks and experimenting, so this is a positive step in that process.

I am certain the Bullitt Foundation will brag about those things that worked. Let’s hope they are also honest about those things that don’t work. The environmental community has not been forthcoming about admitting its failures and ending projects that don’t work, shifting limited funding and resources to projects that can make a difference. They have, instead, tended to double down on those very projects arguing that failed programs just need a bit more funding.

Until the results are in, however, we can’t call the Bullitt Center the “greenest” or even a “green” building.

[Reprinted with permission from the Washington Policy Center blog]

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