A new report from Frontier Group and TransitCenter makes a provocative (and almost certainly true) point: federal tax policy subsidizes traffic congestion. The IRS lets employers offer their employees a tax-free parking subsidy of up to $250 per month—which, by the report’s estimate, boosts national rush-hour traffic by roughly 820,000 vehicles per day. Worse, the tax subsidy for parking focuses the benefits on upper-income Americans—the very people who need the subsidies the least.
Emily Badger has an excellent write-up of a compelling case that crosses questions of food access, gentrification, justice, and marketing that no doubt resonate in Northwest communities, too: Whole Foods is opening a store in one of Chicago’s poorest neighborhood. In Englewood, one in four adults is unemployed, one in three households lives below the poverty line, and crime rates are among the city’s highest. But Whole Foods has never closed a store, and they don’t expect the Englewood site to be the first. The conversation around the project on the ground, though, is a testy one:
After the groundbreaking over the summer, the Chicago Tribune called the Whole Foods a “socioeconomic experiment,” a phrase that made Mayor Rahm Emanuel and another local alderman, JoAnn Thompson, bristle.
“This is not an experiment. African American people are not an experiment,” Thompson says. “People need to stop thinking like that, that we cannot afford the things that people in other communities have.”
Sonny Sixkiller, the legendary Cherokee quarterback, is considered one of the University of Washington’s greatest of all time. What would happen if the former NFL player and Seattle resident, who has been outspoken about the Washington Redskins’s offensive name, bought the team himself? That’s the story told in Lummi tribe member Darrell Hillaire’s political satire, “Sonny Sixkiller Buys the Redskins.” In the play, Sixkiller keeps the name as is, but assigns new names to the players instead.
Hillaire told Indian Country Today: “It was an idea that emerged at the beginning of the year, and I thought, ‘I need to bring this to life.’ There’s a lot of humor here—it’s respectful, but it shows the irony of everything and sheds a light on this attitude of racism.” After the performances, the audience is invited to participate in a conversation about racism and the trauma of native genocide. Youth from the Northwest Indian College and Lummi Youth Academy were involved in all stages of the play’s development and production. You can catch it this weekend if you’re in Seattle. (Go here for tickets and a video preview).
I was riveted by every single speaker in this week’s TED Radio Hour. The topic is “stereotypes” and there are some amazing people doing moving—and wrenching and funny—work that forces us to examine race and identity. OMG! Sarah Jones!! She is incredible. Listen here.
The New Yorker has been nailing the satire lately—satire that, as it should be, is painfully funny because it’s so shamefully close to reality. See Borowitz on the GOP’s immigration plan (that is, to make the US a miserable place to live so nobody wants to come here), and an over-the-top ode to the magical properties of coconut oil.
One thing President Obama can do about economic inequality without Congressional approval is to raise the threshold at which salaried US workers must be paid overtime. Inflation has eroded it so low in recent decades that almost no one qualifies anymore. Returning the threshold to the inflation-adjusted equivalent of its 1975 level would transfer billions of dollars a year from the 1 percenters to the middle class. Calling it the mid-income equivalent of raising the minimum wage, Seattle entrepreneur (and Sightline friend) Nick Hanauer makes the case in Politico.
The pedestrian environment, in one Swedish illustration.
I can’t testify to whether this article on Sweden’s approach to regulating prostitution is right, but it sure caught my interest. Marie de Santis of the Women’s Justice Center in Santa Rosa, California, at the southern edge of Cascadia, writes:
In 1999, after years of research and study, Sweden passed legislation that a) criminalizes the buying of sex, and b) decriminalizes the selling of sex. The novel rationale behind this legislation is clearly stated in the government’s literature on the law:
“In Sweden prostitution is regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children. It is officially acknowledged as a form of exploitation of women and children and constitutes a significant social problem… gender equality will remain unattainable so long as men buy, sell and exploit women and children by prostituting them.”
From my new home in Arizona: cats!
My wife is deleting her Uber app. She’s done doing business with a company that has transitioned from just vaguely creepy to being blatantly sexist and now grossly unethical. The hits just keep coming for Uber after it was revealed this week that top executives are hiring opposition researchers to smear journalists—and their families—who write negative things about the company. I recommend reading Sara Lacy’s account of being targeted by Uber while you wait for the Lyft app to install on your phone.
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Even as Tesoro plans to build a gargantuan oil-by-rail-to-ship facility on the Columbia River—a plan that is continuing to draw fire from local residents—the company’s already awful track record gets worse. California regulators are slapping Tesoro with $260,000 in fines for 23 violations at its refinery in Martinez, including an out-of-control flaring incident, leaky tanks, and failing to monitor the site’s emissions. Meanwhile, Tesoro’s stock is hitting all-time highs.
Speaking of which, Minnesota is ground zero in the world of oil trains so it’s worth paying attention to how that state is reacting. Rail expert Fred Millar has an excellent op-ed in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune on the industry. It is, as he points out, “a born-yesterday, ultrahazardous, transcontinental enterprise that does not need to exist at all.”
In Burnaby, BC, the thin green line is digging in for a fight. Activists there are occupying a park where energy giant Kinder Morgan has illegally cleared trees as it prepares to construct an enormous new pipeline carrying tar sands to the Salish Sea. The company won an injunction against the protestors, but the people aren’t moving and the Mayor of Burnaby is standing up for his community. This is a face-off to watch.
An adventure playground in Seattle—one tailored specifically for kids with special needs–is the latest casualty of the deranged fearfulness that kids may hurt themselves while playing. Sure, no one’s ever actually sustained a serious injury at the site, but it could happen—and that’s reason enough:
In mid-October, the Seattle Parks department notified the Seattle Children’s PlayGarden that we would have to dismantle a much-loved play area, citing “extreme dangers” and “hazardous conditions.” These so-called liabilities consisted of a four-foot rope ladder, secured at its top and base, a simple tree swing suspended from a large cedar tree, and a unique nest made of thick rope and bicycle tires.
These simple play features may seem ordinary, but to our campers they are anything but. Here children with cerebral palsy, autism and developmental delays are encouraged and assisted as needed to climb and swing alongside their typically developing peers. The joy is palpable.
Make that, “was palpable.”
On a lighter note (I think), I’ll say that as a sports fan and an environmentalist, this video really spoke to me: