Remember parking reform? Yeah, it’s still just about the most important—and least attended—issue of urban sustainability and affordability.

And remember when I alienated untold readers by arguing that urban greens’ biggest blind spot is their opposition to taller buildings? Yeah, it still is, as Sightline friend Erica Barnett illustrates in a distressingly true description of a mob of neighborhood density opponents commenting at a Seattle city council meeting on a modest proposal to slightly limit an otherwise overreaching antidevelopment zoning rule. Like most Cascadian cities, Seattle keeps promising ever grander climate accomplishments while drastically constraining the growth of the dense, walkable, European-style neighborhoods that are the best alternative to internal combustion. As I’ve been arguing for almost two decades.

Better news: Honest Elections Seattle—the innovative money-in-politics initiative that Sightline helped to design—is heading to the ballot, thanks to a robust signature-gathering campaign that delivered 32,000 signatures to city hall on Monday. Crosscut had the best coverage.


Everyone has implicit racial bias. The bias may be very specific (“black people have guns”) rather than general (“black people are bad”). Police officers—including and possibly even more true for minority police officers—have a “shooter bias” that associates blacks with weapons, leading to officers being quicker to shoot a black person (because they might be armed) than a white person. Seems like it might be easier to uproot a specific implicit bias; but it is still hard. However, there is one solution that is, if not exactly easy, certainly straightforward: reduce officer discretion and replace it with prescriptive guidance. Instead of saying, “hey, pull over whoever you feel looks suspicious and let your implicit bias guide your way,” tell officers “pull over only people who are doing one of these six things that we know are correlated to these crimes.” It works. When NY let officers pull over whoever they felt like, officers pulled over a lot of innocent people, especially black innocent people. When directed to six specific behavioral tells, officers pulled over only one quarter the number of people, but quadrupled their contraband finds. Whoa. Less work, more payoff, less opportunity for implicit bias to do harm, fewer innocent citizens hassled. Let’s do that.

Imagine you are a low-income single mom trying to make ends meet and take care of your kids. Your teenager skips school. A judge fines you thousands of dollars, which you can’t pay, so you get thrown in jail. Where, of course, you can’t work to pay the fines, and you can’t take care of your kids or get them to go to school. (and, maybe, you don’t get the medication you need and you die in prison). Does anyone think this is a good way to make sure kids go to school? Yes, actually, judges, police officers, and attorneys general across our country think that. Aagh. But, check it, fining and jailing parents for truancy is so obviously horribly bad that Republican Texas Representative James White started to think maybe we are “criminalizing being poor” and maybe that’s not such a hot idea, and he introduced a bill to stop it. Go him.

Game of Thrones is really all about climate change. Yes!


The quote of the week goes to Lou Soumas, pitch man for the unholy beast of a new oil refinery on the Columbia River that he is hawking as a source of clean fuels. Soumas is quoted in the Longview Daily News this week saying, “Everybody outside the Northwest thinks that’s where energy projects go to die.”

There’s a reason for that, Lou. It’s because this is, in fact, where energy projects go to die. You should meet the Thin Green Line.

Over at the Tyee, I recommend reading Chris Woods’ new piece, Natural Capital: What Canada Stands to Lose.

  • Our work is made possible by the generosity of people like you!

    Thanks to Judy Pigott for supporting a sustainable Northwest.

  • I also recommend reading Quinault National fisherman Junior Goodell in the Seattle Times on what his tribe stands to lose if oil terminals are permitted in Grays Harbor.

    Finally, it’s time to pronounce a victor for all time: Sweden wins the internet.


    So what have you accomplished this week? Probably not as much as these animals: Seals are using twitter-like technology to capture data about climate change in the Antarctic Ocean as they dive to depths of up to 2,000 meters below the surface. Also, giant octopuses, which can be found right off the Seattle coastline, are expanding the moral universe and generally being as smart as humans, if not smarter. But perhaps you’re faring better than the stars of the accurately named new reality show, Treetop Cat Rescue, which is set in the Puget Sound area and, you guessed it, shares the trials and tribulations of cats stuck in trees.


    SNL Energy compiled a list of US coal industry bankruptcies since 2012. It’s quite a long list!!


    Constitutional amendments have come at times of great challenge and have propelled the US forward in civil rights, social justice, and democracy. But it’s an uphill battle. Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin and attorney Jeff Clements, board chairman of the nonprofit organization Free Speech for People, make the case that overthrowing ‘Citizens United’ is worth the hard work of amending the Constitution.

    With his criticism of the Pope’s hard-nosed stance on climate change, Rick Santorum risks looking like a not-so-great Catholic. Can you really dis the Pope? Maybe it’s strategic. He’s probably more interested in courting non-Catholic Christians in his bid for the White House. But he should have checked Pope Francis’ resume before telling him to “leave science to the scientists.” I hadn’t known that Francis studied chemistry. Santorum also said that instead of getting into “political and controversial scientific theories,” the Catholic Church should be focusing on “what we’re really good at, which is theology and morality.” But of just about anybody on the planet, the Pope makes the best case—with the most credibility—for action on climate change being a moral imperative.

    Finally, in Bill Moyers’ article “Turn Left on Main Street,” he writes: “if Senator Sanders is a crackpot, so are the majority of Americans. Far from being an outsider, Sanders is paddling his way along the mainstream of American public opinion.” (And research backs this up.)


    Our friends at Common Acre are hosting pollinator pundit Eric Lee-Mader at Seattle Town Hall on June 17th. In celebration of national Pollinator Week, Eric will discuss the decline of pollinators in recent years and share pollinator habitat restoration tips. Eric is the author of several books including Attracting Native Pollinators and Farming with Native Beneficial InsectsMore info here!

    The Yes Men, the hilarious activist pranksters, infamous for taking on corporate bad guys with ingenious schemes, are back with a new film, The Yes Men Are Revolting. The film is making its way around the Northwest—find out where it’s showing near you!


    Outdoor outfitter Patagonia is a recognized industry leader in ethical sourcing and environmental and social corporate responsibility. That’s why recent findings of abusive labor practices in even this gold standard company’s supply chain were alarming. Nevertheless, the company remains committed to rooting out the abuses well beyond the requirements of any “fair labor” label—and they plan to remain transparent about their findings all the while:

    Patagonia is banking that their efforts at transparency will pay off when it comes to consumers’ responses to the disturbing findings, even if the initial response isn’t wholly positive. “We think people will be disappointed, we think people will likely ask why we didn’t do something sooner. We’re going to be really honest about those things,” he says. “We’re going to dive very deeply into this issue and we’re going to break trails for the rest of the industry.”

    And if you missed this Grist article in Sightline Daily earlier this week, check out this additional prompt to really go beyond the labels of “fair trade,” “organic,” and “cruelty-free.”