Weather update: The Seattle Times has you covered with all the snow-related updates one could ever need, including a depressing realization that the holiday weekend will feature freezing rain instead of the delightful white stuff coating the city. More importantly, temperatures will remain inhospitably cold today and roads can remain treacherous even without fresh snow. Seems like a great day to reacquaint yourself with the ever-reliable light rail system, which served me well getting around the city yesterday without incident.
Great job, everyone: We did our civic duty here on the Slog, screeching to you about the tripledemic, and guess what? You listened! The data in the graphs below are from LA County, but King County's COVID dashboard shows a similar trend (albeit with a smaller sample size). Keep testing ahead of indoor gatherings, masking up through the new year, and following these doctors' other tips so we don't get another COVID spike for Christmas!
Covid is trending down; RSV has been on downslope since mid-November; and an early flu season also peaked early. It’s important to acknowledge facts on the ground to rebuild public trust in media and public health. pic.twitter.com/CYwhVMIN7x— Michael Daignault, MD (@MichaelDaignau3) December 20, 2022
What else did we expect? A new federal report shows that homelessness has become even more of a crisis since the start of the pandemic, with Washington's unhoused population increasing 10% since 2020. The report concludes that more than half the country's people living without permanent shelter come from Washington, California, New York, and (inconvenient for right-wing trolls) Florida. What do all of those places have in common? Real estate markets that make cheap housing artificially scarce. None of this will change until we start building lots of new, cheap housing.
Speaking of housing: KUOW teamed up with a freelance journalist reporting on displacement for Southeast Asian communities in South Park for a deep dive into the history of Seattle's housing policy pushing people out of the city. Take a listen, and remember that we've been forcing lower-income communities in Seattle to accept the overwhelming share of new housing starts for decades.
Homelessness services workers getting some relief: Crosscut reports that more than 9,000 people working in homelessness outreach and other aid organizations have been approved for two $2,000 stipends from the state. The money comes from a fund the State Legislature established using pandemic relief money to help service providers retain talent. If you're an outreach worker or other service provider making less than 80% of the area median income, there's still time to apply for the second round of stipends before June 2, 2023.
I can think of somewhere else to get that money: Periodic reminder that basically everywhere in the United States, police department budgets dramatically outclass investments in health and care programs for people in need. That's not my hot take, it's the conclusion of a new nationwide survey of municipal budgets. Or, if you like your daily dose of abolition in video form:
A billboard in the heart of Times Square. Directly across from the NYPD station. This message: “Hey NYPD. It’s us. NYC residents. The ones who pay your salary.” A single day of pay could fund NYC’s public libraries to avoid Eric Adams’ budget cuts. Watch: pic.twitter.com/JaU3bSkOZb— Scott Hechinger (@ScottHech) December 20, 2022
Twitter drama update: We're doing this all in one blurb, because I'm quickly losing patience with the manbaby's petulance. Elon Musk says he'll step down as CEO, when/if he can find someone willing to take over the dumpster fire he's created. That could be tough after Musk revealed the company is bleeding cash with just $1 billion in its reserves. Good luck to whichever delusional patsy he finds to take the fall, as many of those employees Musk summarily fired now contend he did so in violation of California law and aren't going quietly into the good night.
Speaking of lawsuits: A group of 16 municipalities in Puerto Rico have banded together to sue a group of the world's leading fossil fuel companies for allegedly defrauding the public about the risks of climate change to vulnerable communities like those devastated by hurricanes Maria and Ian. The towns and cities claim ExxonMobil and others violated prohibitions against racketeering by colluding with their "competitors" in the oil industry to defeat attempts to regulate fossil fuels starting in 1989. Get 'em.
In other evil corporation news: Wells Fargo agreed to a settlement with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau yesterday that will see the bank pay $3.7 billion for abusing its customers. $2 billion of the money will go directly back to Wells Fargo customers who had their auto loan payments misapplied, resulting in some of those people having their cars wrongly repossessed. The effect on the bank? A meager 1.5% drop in stock price.
Totally healthy legal system we have here, folks: Another day, another abuse of power scandal from Florida Governor Ron DeSantis.
Florida voters ousted Judge Jared Smith from office after he refused to let a minor terminate her pregnancy, deeming her too immature to get an abortion.— Mark Joseph Stern (@mjs_DC) December 20, 2022
In response, Ron DeSantis just appointed Smith to an even higher court. https://t.co/V5bdWMnqNw https://t.co/cIwsYteHjS
What rule of law? At this point, with all of the evidence from the January 6 committee available in the public domain, there are no good legal arguments against indicting the former president. None. Anyone pretending otherwise is just looking for approval from the reactionary centrists who believe the only way to govern is to find some mythical middle ground between liberals and fascists. All that remains is to see whether Attorney General Merrick Garland is willing to sacrifice the rule of law on the altar of respectability politics or if he'll press the most obvious charges in the history of the Department of Justice.
These people will never stop, unless the law makes them:
Steve Bannon says that impeaching Joe Biden is not enough and calls for him to be arrested for treason and for all other "traitors" to be imprisoned. pic.twitter.com/pnwwRvlLxb— The Republican Accountability Project (@AccountableGOP) December 20, 2022
Ending on a brighter note: With funding from Biden's Inflation Reduction Act, the US Postal Service announced it will transition its fleet to electric vehicles by 2026. See! Good governance is possible, once you get the people determined to burn the country down out of the way.
My final pre-holiday music choice for the loyal readers of the Slog is Donald Glover's 47.48. At first blush, it may not seem like a holiday track. But for anyone else who has a bittersweet relationship with this time of year due to missing those who used to occupy the empty seats at your dinner table, remember this from the second verse: "Just take care of your soul / Let the beauty unfold / You'll get through it."