Alan

Oregonians will vote in November on whether to adopt open, top-two primaries like California and Washington. Here’s the pro argument, from US Senator Chuck Schumer.

“Honk if you’re horny” and other creative signs from a pro-choice couple who stand side by side with abortion clinic blockaders to leaven their messages with humor and perspective.

Did you take a big road trip in your college days? My nephew and niece just did. In a Tesla. With a GoPro. Here’s the video.

Jerrell

Construction in Seattle continues apace, and daily it seems like hulking cranes multiply, filling the skies with mechanical songs. If every projected development is finished, the Seattle skyline is set to see great expansion.

But is it truly the sort of expansion that makes Seattle a more affordable and livable environment? The Stranger cheered one recent victory for affordable housing proponents, but the victory is a costly one. The Squire Park Plaza, located in the Central District, is a 60-unit subsidized apartment complex built in 2006 with $9.7 million in public financing. Presently owned by a nonprofit group, it was to be sold to a for-profit developer that was likely to raise rents. That deal is off. What is not being discussed is the cost to the public for what is, admittedly, a very small number of housing units. At a unit cost of nearly $160,000, filling the city with similar projects would be a terribly costly venture.

Speaking of costly, a brief lesson in politics: when you run out of municipal funds, the next best source of capital is, obviously, the Feds. This is a lesson taken to heart by the Seattle City Council, which voted for a 1st Avenue streetcar project, but not for the necessary funds. Current estimates say that the roughly 1 mile streetcar line will start at $110 million, and likely go up. The federal government might supply $75 million of this, but the question remains: at the staggering fee of $110 million per mile, is such a project justified?

Clark

Declining driving: it’s not just happening the Northwest. See, for example, the latest news from Arizona

[B]etween 2005-2012 Arizona saw a 10.5 percent decline in annual vehicle miles traveled per capita… Between 2007 and 2012, the number of registered vehicles in Arizona dropped by 4.16 percent. The percent of households with no vehicle increased 1.9 percent from 2006 to 2011 for the Phoenix urbanized area, while at the same time, the percent of households with two or more vehicles decreased 2.9 percent.

Interested in how entrepreneurs are trying to tackle social and environmental problems? This online event starting next Thursday may be for you…

This summer, entrepreneurs across the globe who are building startups that address social and environmental problems will get the chance to share their best ideas with the world during Impact On Air—a series of live presentations hosted on Google+ Hangouts On Air.

Eric

The reasons I eschew eco-food writing could hardly be better exemplified than by Tom Philpott’s screed last week, “Lay Off the Almond Milk, You Ignorant Hipsters”. As near as I can tell after three passes through the article, Philpott is super duper mad that water policy doesn’t well address almond growers. That seems fair enough as far as it goes, but then he goes ballistic over the fact that almond milk actually contains very few almonds. Which, um, what?  Then, for reasons that elude me entirely, he asserts that buying almond milk makes you a “hipster” (whatever than is), and an ignorant one at that, if you haven’t brushed up on California water law. Sheesh.

(At HuffPo, food writer Ed Coffin also scratched his head over Philpott’s piece.)

  • Follow that up with a piece at Grist arguing that “millions would have to die” to make the Paleo diet universal, and I’m starting to look for other topics to read. Fortunately, I was able to cleanse my palette with Bruce Chapman’s “Oh the Things You Can Eat!”, a delightful serenade to the high and low-brow culinary wonders of the city.

    Last week the Northwest bid farewell to Seattle Times columnist Lance Dickie, who is retiring. He was one of the best opinion writers in the region who in recent years provided especially incisive commentary on energy and environmental policy. We’ll miss him. (He won me over 12 years ago when in an editorial about the planned Seattle monorail he wrote, “I’ve banished the images of chai-besotted passengers leafing through their Utne Readers as they sway to Emo tunes on their MP3 players. The monorail does not ride upon a moon beam 30 feet in the air, but on expectations of the housing, retail and commercial investments that will follow.” To this day I can’t hear the word “chai” without recalling that beautiful sentence.)

    Speaking of good writing, let’s talk about David Quammen. For me, reading him is like savoring a good meal and I was moved by his account of the resurgent ebola virus in West Africa. His ability to match science with moral force is a wonder to me.

    My least favorite oil company, Tesoro, sure does know how to keep it classy: it’s filing a legal complaint against a Utah county that passed a couple of ordinances designed to provide some regulatory checks on a new oil pipeline Tesoro wants to build there. Tesoro whines that it was “deprived of due process.”

    Now forget about exploding oil trains and climate change wreckage for a moment because Vancouver Sun investigative reporters have revealed an industry cover-up of alarming proportions. I’m confident this problem extends beyond Canada’s borders, and I so wish we could have this kind of journalism in the US. I will even volunteer to contribute to the effort.