Hella Bus Blog
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- The increase owes significantly to the 50% cut in state funding towards higher education over the past three years.
- For the first time, the UW board of regents was granted tuition setting authority.
- Interim president Phyllis Wise said on KUOW that half of the revenue raised from tuition will go towards student aid and the other half is aimed towards restoring high demand programs.
- Administrative costs went largely unaddressed in the discussion.
First person to name this Washington Bus board member wins a signed copy of the photo:
The Alaskan Way Viaduct. Apparently about to collapse at any moment.
Chances are, if you follow Seattle politics in the slightest
you dream about process you've heard a lot about the tunnel. Ever since (and partly because) Mike McGinn was elected mayor, the tunnel has been the most talked-about and controversial issue in Seattle politics. The mayor has made blocking the tunnel the highest priority of his administration. That political effort spawned a referendum that will appear on Seattle ballots for the August 16th primary, and you're going to hear a lot about the initiative and the tunnel itself. You will also probably be confused, because a lot of stuff has already happened and you might have missed some of it (or you might have shut off from hyperbolic overload).
Now we realize that the last thing Seattle needs is another news outlet speaking exclusively in tunnel, so we're offering a thorough overview for those unfamiliar or to catch you up to speed - and from here on out, we pinky swear not to obsess over it. So, with no further ado, here is Hella Bus's official Story of the Tunnel:
The tunnel story starts at 10:54 A.M. on February 28, 2001. It was at that time that
I was in my sixth grade science class thinking about dinosaurs the Nisqually earthquake struck Puget Sound. The tremblor didn't cause too much damage to the area, but an inspection of the Alaskan Way Viaduct revealed that the highway wouldn't be able to withstand a more significant bad vibration. Seattleites and their officials, terrified about the prospect of a collapsing concrete pancake of death (and blithely unaware of its potential as a cult horror film), started to debate ways to replace the viaduct.
Why does this matter? Replacing the viaduct is an opportunity to make dramatic, positive changes to Seattle's city plan. After all, the viaduct is - objectively - an ugly, intimidating waste of space. It creates an uncomfortable and unfortunate barrier between Downtown and the waterfront—nobody wants to go for a stroll in a bunker. (Semi-tangential note—the City is entertaining lots of awesome ideas for what to do with the space when the viaduct comes down.)
Everyone in Seattle understands the opportunity that viaduct replacement creates, and each replacement option drew supporters who thought that their choice would best advance their waterfront vision. Eventually, three options emerged (and they are listed in no particular order here). The first option was to simply tear down the viaduct. The second option was to tear down the viaduct and replace it with another elevated highway of equal or larger capacity. The third option was to build a cut-and-cover tunnel—a shallow tunnel created by tearing up the street, digging underneath, and covering it up with a surface that can be built on (visualize the part of I-5 that goes under the Washington State Convention Center in Downtown Seattle).
After lengthy debate and several false starts, the Seattle City Council eventually chose to hold a referendum on viaduct replacement, which was held in March 2007 as a special election. Seattleites promptly rejected both the cut-and-cover tunnel and the new elevated highway. Shit. City and state officials went back to the drawing board. Eventually, folks (especially former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels) came up with a deep bore tunnel. That construction process would use what a layperson might call a "giant power drill" to dig a freeway tunnel hundreds of feet under the waterfront.
Local and state officials, like Governor Christine Gregoire and Nickels, eventually coalesced around the plan, but strong opposition abounded. Anti-tunnel folks found their leader in Mike McGinn, who eventually was elected mayor due in part to his staunch anti-tunnel advocacy (which briefly, and controversially, was recanted during the latter stages of the general election).
That brings us up to the present day and the current tunnel status quo: the City and the State have reached agreements to construct the tunnel despite McGinn's best efforts, which include putting final approval for the tunnel on the ballot this August during the primary. Referendum 1 (as the tunnel referendum is titled) will ask voters whether or not they approve of the City Council moving forward with the tunnel contracts, all of which have been signed and approved by the City. The cliffs notes version: if the vote is for the "Yes" option, then the pro-tunnel folks (represented in the campaign by Let's Move Forward) claim victory. If the vote is for the "No" option, then the anti-tunnel folks (represented by Protect Seattle Now) will do an endzone dance.
The question posed in the referendum sounds like a big deal, but it may not be. The contracts have all been signed, as noted above, and a contract is a contract- it would be difficult for the City to withdraw from agreements already in place with the State and contractors. If the City were to actually renege on the agreements they made with engineers, surveyors, and builders, then they'd probably be in for a whole boatload of lawsuits. Still, if the Referendum comes down overwhelmingly No, then we might see some real changes in the status quo. The City Council would have to think about the ramifications of broad-based public opposition to the tunnel and potential legal challenges from the anti-tunnel folks, who aren't exactly shy to mobilize.
So that's where the battle lines lie. I honestly have no idea who has an advantage right now: the pro-tunnel folks have formidable support from the traditional political establishment and most of our elected officials, but Seattle voters did vote down the original proposals for viaduct replacement. Stay tuned for the next episode... it's coming your way this August.
...that's the tuition hike facing University of Washington student's this year - the largest in the university's history. Whoah.
Suffice to say, nobody's happy.
We'll be following up with more extensive coverage, but here are some Bullet Points:
We'll be discussing it in depth next week, hit us up if you want to share your perspective!
Hello all, and - after a year's hiatus - welcome back to Gabe's Picks!
Over the past 11 months, we have witnessed the rapid ascendence of the Odd Future crew, Weezy F. Baby's release from Rikers, Kanye's infatuation with ballet, the rise in popularity of dubstep (womp womp anyone?), and Lil' B release an album titled "I'm Gay" (he's not). Detox was given another release date... and predictably was delayed again.
This week, I'm not going to focus on new music music, but instead will highlight a few artists that have been in constant rotation for my past year sans Hella Bus. Attending school in Southern California gave me the opportunity to hear a ton of great tunes, as well as see shows in LA (not easy without a car as I'm sure Dan the Transportation Man would lament). Having heard so much new music and seen so many shows, there is absolutely no way I could write a comprehensive 'best of' list of the past year, but screw it - it's worth a try.
Below is a list of the best shows I have witnessed since last June. There's a bunch of hella good music in here, and their presence on the post gives them the official Gabe Meier seal of approval. Over the coming week, I'll be delivering some of my favorite albums, songs, and artists direct to your digital door. Without further ado, here are the some of the best live sets around:
1.) Sleigh Bells @ Sasquatch Music Festival
When the Sasquatch schedule was first released, I was disheartened to see that Sleigh Bells was only scheduled for a 30 minute set. After seeing videos of their performance at the MTV Woody Awards, and hearing rave reviews from across the interwebs, the Brooklyn duo was at the top of my list of bands to see at Squatch. While the duo of Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller only graced the stage for half an hour, I don't know how much more of their blistering set I could take. Faced with a wall of strobe lights and speakers in the dance tent, the Sasquatch crowd moshed, crowdsurfed, and collectively lost its mind from the opening (Black Sabbath's "Ironman") to the final thrash of Erdman's guitar ("Infinity Guitars"), the duo dominated the stage, and put on the best live set I've seen in recent memory.
2.) Major Lazer @ Sasquatch Music Festival 2011
The DJ duo of Diplo and Switch, together Major Lazer, were the final act scheduled for the dance tent, and the second to last act of the entire festival. Following dubstep maestro Skrillex's torrid set, Switch and Diplo took the stage in front of a crowd ready to get down, but also fearing the end of an incredible weekend. The two DJ's started off the set with their classic dancehall sound, but by 15 minutes in, they were blasting Flux Pavillion's remix of DJ Fresh's "Gold Dust", and feeding a dubstep hungry crowd with a few Rusko and Skrillex bangers. Diplo and Switch knew exactly what to play, and constantly switched the tempo of the show, going from hip hop (Rick Ross's "BMF") to reggae to their own classic hits ("Percolate" and "Hold The Line"), all while hypeman Skerrit Bwoy daggered. While its hard to list a DJ set this high on the list, the fluidity and song choice in the Major Lazer set, along with Skerrit Bwoy's antics, made the show seem like much more than a standard EDM show.
3.) Murs @ Paid Dues Festival 2011
Heading into Paid Dues, I was most excited to see Black Star perform their self titled album, but also more than ready to finally see the enigma Lil' B in the flesh, one of my favorite artists Blu, and Houston legend Bun B. Murs has always been one of my favorite artists, but his music never came across to me as if it would translate well to a live show. Boy was I wrong. Murs not only put on the best set at his own festival, but also probably the funnest hip hop show I've ever been to. Bringing genuine emotion and enthusiasm, Murs displayed his diverse discography (say that 10 times fast) in a set that went 45 minutes over its allotted time. Highlights included the touching "First Love Blues", "Everything", and a remix he did with the Italian electro house duo Crookers called "To Protect and Entertain" (the older hip hop crowd didn't seem to appreciate that one as much).
4.) Glitch Mob @ Claremont Colleges
Performing on the second floor of a parking garage, glitch hop masters Glitch Mob brought an energy, and force that I never expected to witness when I first arrived on my quiet college campus. From the start of the show ("Animus Vox") to the rawkus finish (a remix of "Seven Nation Army" by The White Stripes), the trio brought the bass in a venue that was literally shaking from start to finish. The crowd was entirely made up of college students, and the energy and intensity was evident. Utilizing laptops, Lemur MIDI controllers, and drums, edIT, Boreta, and Ooah delivered their signature glitch sound with a vengeance in a show that could hardly be called a DJ set.
5.) Blue Scholars @ Claremont Colleges
Since I first saw Geo and Sabzi throw down at Bumbershoot 2006 or '07 (the Kanye year), I have seen them perform at all sorts of different venues across the Northwest. When I heard they were performing at an auditorium on my campus, I was excited, but not expecting anything more than their standard set. The show opened with The XX's "Intro" (or as Geo and Sabzi have dubbed it "Lumiere), one of my favorite songs of all time, and Geo wading his way through the small crowd and climbing onto stage to finish his verse. The show was in California, but you wouldn't have known it with every Seattle kid at the Claremont Colleges singing along at the tops of their lungs. A few weeks ago, I was at the Cinemotropolis release show at Neumos, and while the Scholars put on another sublime performance, it wasn't even close to as fun as the show in Claremont. The intimacy of a show by a group like the Scholars in a burning hot ballroom, in front of 200 or so adoring college kids cannot be matched.
"Anarchy" in the NW
In the midst of the revelry during Seattle’s pre-Pride Saturday night celebrations came a startling sight: five or so police cars driving an angry mob up Pine St. past 10th Avenue. There seems to be some confusion as to why this mob formed, and why they smashed up windows at the Broadway American Apparel and at a Ferrari dealership. Some reports say it was a flash mob that got out of hand. Others have been more inflammatory.
For a frozen-in-time look at how the story evolved, just look at KOMO 4’s preliminary report from the morning after next to the more recently updated version. Let’s compare the first sentences:
Hours after the event in question (posted 8:49 AM on Sunday), KOMO reported it thus: “Hundreds of anarchists create overnight havoc on Capitol Hill”
By the next morning, KOMO’s language changed to “Noisy mob creates havoc on Capitol Hill”
So what really went on that night? Did hundreds of anarchists flood the street and make their political opinions heard, as the first article stated? Or did KOMO adjust their story to fit a more detailed picture emerging from the internet?
First reports of an issue tend to be somewhat limited in scope, as their goal is to get information out quickly, rather than accurately. Over the weekend, new facts were discovered and KOMO changed the story to match them (you might also recognize the tendency towards sensationalism). By looking at the full scope of what the internet has to offer, we can see that the equation is pretty much this:
First Report + Time = Full story
As best I can tell, the gathering was inspired by this anti-corporate post on a Seattle community website calling for a midnight flash mob to celebrate Pride “with creation, rather than consumption”. Somewhere along the line, though, things turned ugly.
At midnight, the flashmob formed and started partying in the streets. Police cars showed up, and the demonstration took on a distinctly anti-establishment air. According to one bystander on The Stranger's blog (appropriately titled Slog), two men darted from the crowd and lifted up a police barricade, and it seems like that’s when the proverbial poo-poo hit the fan.
Along the way, the crowd busted windows at several local businesses and chanted some anti-police sentiment, before quietly dispersing.
Capitol Hill Seattle is reporting that the one arrest from the night was a transgender activist by the name of Maurice Schwenkler. (It should be noted that Schwenkler pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor back in 2009 for smashing windows at the Colorado Democratic Party headquarters.) So it does appear that anarchists- or at least “anarchists”- had something to do with the demonstration.
Though a popular anarchist message board claimed that the riot carried an anti-commercialization message throughout, reddit.com user potatolicious (who says he was walking through the crowd on his way home that night) begs to differ.
“While I was craning my neck and looking around a masked guy came up (bandana on face), pulled his handgun out of his pocket (9mm? Didn't get a good look) and told me ‘It's the cops against the people, man! I'm gonna get me a pig when it all goes down.’”
Adds potatolicious, “these anarchists couldn't [care less] about any issue except...lynching cops.”
So in brief summary, about thirty “anarchists” smashed windows, following a crowd of about 200 partiers.
As all the facts began to come in and we learned that the riot wasn’t as widespread as was first assumed, Komo’s narrative transformed ever so slightly; you can look at the two articles side by side and very clearly see the difference in word choice. It’s an interesting little case study that shows how impermanent and organically changing the news is, especially in this day and age.
Quick personal introductions to some of the brilliant, interesting, and really, really ridiculously good-looking writers who will populate the world of Hella Bus with all the political and cultural news you require this summer. More to come!
Born and raised in Seattle, I am in an incoming senior at Whitman College where I major in politics with a particular interest in race and ethnic studies. I enjoy reading fashion magazines, watching crime shows, listening to hip-hop, and snacking. Usually all at the same time.
Last August, I left for Southern California to pursue higher education at a little place called Pitzer College, not knowing if I would ever return to the city I’ve called home my entire life. With the added experience of living in a waterless desert, I have now returned to the city by the sea to resume my post as writer, photographer, and documenter of all things music and art. I love public transportation issues, and am a huge proponent of protecting basic civil liberties for all citizens.
I'm a freshly-minted college graduate. I am also crazy, because for some reason I want to get into journalism and fiction writing, which are dying and poverty-inducing professions respectively. This quixotic quest for clippings started when I was the go-to Hella Bus guy last summer. I combat my existential crisis by playing bass, working part time as The Stranger's Unpaid Intern, and hanging out with Mitch Hedberg.
I’ve been the youngest volunteer in the room since my first Bus experience way back in 2008, and my time with Hella Bus is no exception. A rising high school senior with a summer birthday, I am the only Bus intern who won’t be able to vote come November. Despite this bitterly ageist setback, I’ve done my best to become an involved member of my local community. When I’m not sitting in the dark writing about local happenings or out in the sun experiencing them, I can be found watching and relentlessly making fun of bad movies, skiing (yes, even in the summer, what’s good), and biking.
Ever bake a cake, and leave out a key ingredient - sugar perhaps? Tastes terrible (Probably. I'm an insanely good baker). Or forget to add tapioca/flour/your thickener of choice to a fruit pie and end up with a soupy mess? (Again, I'm purely trying to imagine the problems that a lesser baker might encounter).
You see, oven-based neglect is not dissimilar to the predominant discourse on transportation today - it's missing a key ingredient:
When we talk about transportation we nearly always talk about sustainability, but transportation is also a social and economic justice issue.
For a timely example, see this Monday's front-page New York Times article about transportation. It turns out that Europe is on the forefront of establishing "more environmentally friendly modes of transportation." It's a lovely article, but focuses solely on environmental issues without drawing out the broader affects of public transportation.
So what's the problem? Well, when we make transportation a narrow issue, we get back a narrow demographic engaged in the discussion. If we want to reel in a broader range of voices into the discussion of transportation policy, we need to acknowledge the broader role it plays in our life (see the Sightline institute for a great fusion of human and environmental approaches to transportation).
The ability to move yourself from one place to another is one of the baseline requirements of participation in our society. You must be able to transport yourself from your house to your work, to school, to the store, to the doctor, to leisure activities (like baking camp*).
Even when we look at large-scale decision-making around transportation and development, it doesn't take long to spot the effects on the individual.
If we collectively decide that we're going to build car-focused infrastructure, then we're saying that the price of participation in our society is at least $8,500 per year on average (the cost of operating a car).*
If we collectively decide to require developers to build a set minimum of parking spaces with each new building, we're pushing the cost of development up, and ultimately, the cost that all of us pay for housing or at the store.
If we collectively decide that we want to maintain low housing density in our cities, we're pushing up the price of housing (via supply and demand), and making our cities unaffordable for all but the very wealthy.
If we collectively make a decision to underfund Metro, who does it hurt most? The people who count on it as an affordable mode of transportation.
Don't get me wrong--the environmental aspects of transportation are huge. I love the fact that bicycling, bussing and walking are great for the environment, for health (I'm pretty convinced that the cure for our current obesity epidemic is to stop driving), for fun, for stress relief, and on and on...
But when the discussion is framed primarily around sustainability and skirts over the day to day human impact, a whole range of voices - most often those most directly affected by declining public transit - are pushed to the margins.
So just as a sugarless cake is only enjoyed by a small slice of folks (just kidding, no one eats sugarless cake), so too does a purely environmental discussion of transportation leave out important issues and voices. Those of us interested in funding public transportation would do well to open more avenues into public discourse by looking at it as a social and economic justice issue as well.
*Is there such a thing? Not that I need it. I'll refer you to my earlier comment about how really, really ridiculously good at baking I am.
*A little comparison shopping: Four full-cost, peak hour fares on Metro ($2.50), every day, 365 days per year, would come out to $3,650/year. I'm not sure what the yearly cost of biking is, but say you ride a really, really extremely nice bike for your commuting pleasure--a $1,500 bike for example. The bike lasts for 3 years, so that's $500/year. Throw in a generous $500/year for repairs, accessories, and of course spandex! Because spandex is essential to biking! That's only $1,000/year. And all that walking costs you is the price of a comfortable pair of kicks.
Your new Hella Bus Staff!
Now - as you know - the Bus has been working on the ground alongside thousands of powerful young people, organizations, community leaders, and good elected officials to move Washington towards a fresh era of politics since 2007.
Now, Hella Bus is bringing the good parties, good politics, and youth power to the world wide web.
We've been here (as in the mystical realms of the internet) for a while now, but today marks a distinct moment in our history. Specifically, we now have a fully staffed team of talented young folks (rather than one curly-haired guy in an attic) to bring you the best in arts, culture, politics, and the beautiful ways they interweave.
Today's media climate needs more platforms for thoughtful, authentic young voices, and Hella Bus aims to be just that. Nothing annoys us more than when major publications write about young people, but leave out our voice (and it happens all the time).
Ultimately, (and here's where the name comes in) we believe the world should be hella Bus - which means more informed, more inclusive, more youth-driven, more progressive, less self-satisfied/serious/involved, and much much more of a party. We're taking over the world, and having a good time while we do it.
On this here blog of record, we'll be sharing the Bus/youth/potentially your perspective so join the movement and let's do the dang thang.
Check out the podcast of a very interesting, informative, and provocative roundtable on gentrification in Seattle featuring the likes of former mayor Norman Rice, The Stranger's Charles Mudede, Eric de Place from Sightline, and Richard Morrill a professor of Geography at UW.
Listen to smart, smart people talking about very important stuff here.
Add another chapter to the Bus' party book of records. On Monday, over 200 people crammed into Nord Alley in Pioneer Square for the 2011 Summer Fellows Inauguration. And it was the best! To be topical, the Inauguration was to parties in an alley as zombie ladybugs are to being totally real.
For an easier point of reference, check out this lovely set of photos of the event courtesy of 2009 Summer Fellow Gabe Meier:
Pai's food truck, followed by chocolate cake, followed by immense satisfaction.
Not your average alley party (little to no public urination).
2011 Summer Fellow Paris Randall relaxing.
It was Thomas' birthday!
2010 Summer Fellows Stacy Beull reveals her musical talents.
Two former Summer Fellows, two State Representatives. A match made in heaven.
Huge thank you's to everyone who made it happen - the Pai crew, Seattle Foundation, Brainerd Foundation, Bullitt Foundation, Zeitgeist Coffee, the International Sustainability Institute for the wonderful space, Rep. Eric Pettigrew, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon, and the whole Bus family that came out to support an amazing group of young people launching their journey to leadership in Washington State!
If you follow local news in Seattle, you've probably seen that King County Executive (and friend of the Bus--both the Hella and the Metro varieties) Dow Constantine proposed a two-year $20 vehicle license fee to prevent major cuts to Metro services. Specifically, 600,000 service hours, or roughly 17% of all Metro Service.
Visualizing abstract numbers is hard. For clarity, Metro has put the effects of a 17% cut in bus service in an understandable context--"the rough equivalent of eliminating all rush hour bus service for commuters, or all weekend service in King County."
Needless to say, that's HUGE. The impacts of such a dramatic cut in service will be felt by bus patrons and those of the car-going variety alike. If you're a bus rider, the effects are pretty direct. Check out the plan for one-sixth of the (PDF--helmet tip to Seattle Transit Blog). Not a Metro rider? According to Metro, buses "carry the equivalent of 7 lanes of traffic on state highways in peak commuting hours." Your commute just got longer.
Thank you map. For enhancing my confusion.
Dow's proposed $20 fee is a fairly straightforward plan to cover the revenue gap and prevent these cuts.
Now $20 may not seem like a whole lot of money. After all, it is about a half of one tank of gas (escalades excluded), or two-tenths of one percent of the AAA's --a pretty small amount of money in the grand-scheme of car-ownership.
But those thinking that a temporary $20 car tab hike would be uncontroversial should think again. In order to pass, the car tab hike needs either 6 out of 9 votes on the King County Council, or 5 out of 9 votes to be referred to the voters on the November ballot. There is still a great deal of uncertainty surrounding whether or not the Council will pass the fee directly - Publicola reports that five council members are on the fence - including all four Republicans and Democrat Julia Patterson.
Completely unrelated side note: You can find out who your King County Council person is and what their phone number is here (on the right side of the page). A call from an active and engaged constituent goes a long way towards nudging an elected official in your preferred direction. Whatever that may be.
Whatever happens with the two-year car-tab hike, though, the big picture demands that we find some long-term solutions for Metro funding. Currently, Metro gets the majority of its money from sales taxes (regressive and unstable), and another big chunk from rider fares (which have increased every year since 2008).
It's almost a perfect storm: the recession, rising fares, the fact that people in King County are driving less and less, and the fact that baby boomers are about to hit the age where they have to turn in their car keys. Combine all those and you have an underfunded transit system pushed to the limit. Luckily, there are ideas out there such as the Local Transit Act designed to confront this impending challenge - we'll see how they fare (pun EXPLOSION!) in next year's legislative session. Stay tuned for more!
Last week we posted this astounding photo album from the great Vancouver hockey riots of 2011. Two follow ups that more or less confirm that this was one of the more peculiar riots in history -
1) 90% of the wreckage was cleaned up the next day by 11 am. Almost 16,000 Vancouver residents RSVP'd to join in sweeping up a shattered downtown - some of whom were angry about the riots, some of whom had taken part.
2) Police are identifying perpetrators through Facebook photos. The NYT has the rather creepy lowdown here. This feels like a fairly logical corollary to the public nature of social media and serves as an excellent reminder that when you stare into Facebook, Facebook stares back (thanks Nietzche!).
And this continues to be one one hell of a photo album.
You met some of them. Then you met some more. Now, check out the third and final installment of 2011 Summer Fellows introductions below. Say hi to them digitally now - then meet them in their full 3-dimensional reality this evening at 6pm in Nord Alley for the Summer Fellows Inauguration!
Alma Garcia Santos
I will be graduating in the fall from Eastern Washington University with a degree in social work and a minor in gerontology. I have 3 younger brothers who get on my nerves sometime like any other siblings. Super excited to what this summer will enrich me with!
Amber Rose Jimenez
Amber is enchanted with philosophy and smitten with the arts. She's got mad-rad love for a free press, an informed citizenry, and all-ages, youth run spaces. Plus, she's totally keen on learning about the social & political (sub)cultures within the Middle East and is planning on traversing the region as a foreign correspondent someday soon.
Omar Mozo Olazcon
I got this.
Sug Haynor is all about glamarchy, dirty feet, overalls, and and micron .005 pens. She/they/squee/ze enjoys long walks on the beach and dinner by candlelight.