Washington Bulb Workers picket early this morning for better pay.
Washington Bulb Workers picket early this morning for better pay. Andrew Eckels

We want to speak to Paulie: A week before thousands of tourists come to Skagit Valley for the annual tulip festival, Washington Bulb Company workers went on strike, demanding higher wages and better health and safety protocols. About 70 workers picketed this morning with support from Familias Unidas por la Justicia, an independent labor union of more than 400 indigenous farmworkers in Skagit and Whatcom counties. Skagit is quite the trek for Seattlites who want to show solidarity, but workers said you can help with just a phone call to Paulie.

Paulie. ^This twitter video

Mask madness: Monday, students at Seattle Public Schools rallied and demanded the school district reinstate the mask mandate. I went, I heard them out, and they are scared that maskless classmates will put them and their families at risk. King5 talked to an expert at UW, Dr. John Lynch, who confirmed some of their fears.

Masks do in fact work best when everyone is wearing them. For people who still want the security of a mask, the issue of the individualist approach to masks is becoming an even larger problem now that the state and county are stripping mandates. However, Lynch said that even if you are the only one wearing a mask, it can still help you.

COVID-19 is only one of the pandemic's health issues: As hospital capacity oscillated from completely overwhelmed to slightly less overwhelmed, people were putting off hospital visits for other health problems. This was the case for cancer screenings in Washington. Now researchers worry this lapse will lead to later-stage diagnoses, which often decreases the chance of survival.

More pandemic impacts: Remote work means less transit use among downtown workers. The Seattle Times reported that before the COVID pandemic, almost half of downtown commuters took transit to work, but by the end of 2021, that figure was just 18%. Pre-pandemic, only 6% of employees at downtown business worked remotely. That number shot up to 46% during the pandemic.

GUNZ: Today, Gov. Jay Inslee signed not one, not two, but three gun safety bills into law. The laws will prohibit “ghost” guns, high capacity magazines, and guns in public gatherings like school board meetings.

Here in Seattle, Mayor Bruce Harrell has prioritized reducing gun violence with the hope that he can change state law to allow cities to make their own gun rules. While these three gun bills took up the Democrats attention, Harrell may just lobby hard enough to get this long sought after reform to the Govenor’s desk.

Save the trees, but not in a NIMBY way: In today’s meeting, the city council’s Land Use Committee discussed new protections to try and retain Seattle’s existing urban tree canopy.

The bill would require tree-cutters to register with the city before removing trees. The sponsor CM Alex Pedersen said this would "daylight" the people who come in the middle of the night, wielding chainsaws to kill trees. The council clashed on an amendment to the bill and how this registration process would impact the speed of already the slow-going permitting of housing projects. In the end, the committee voted against the amendment.

Of course, some will try to preserve trees in bad faith to knee-cap efforts to increase density, but the urbanists at Share The Cities argued that urban forestry and density are not mutually exclusive priorities:

"Share The Cities Action Fund wants a future Seattle with twelve plexes and rooftop gardens. Four floors and corners stores is not a bold enough vision during our dual housing and climate crises. We want neighbors who don’t have the funds for a downpayment on a house to be able to choose to live within walking distance of our biggest parks. Seattle’s tree protections have partially failed because of bad zoning. 75% of the places where Seattle experiences deforestation in our urban tree canopy are in our neighborhood residential zones. Council Bill 120207 to create a tree service provider (TSP) registration is one small step to address the problems with the current way our tree canopy is managed.”

Tree murder song: For fans of the infamous tree murder song, there was in fact a song at the end of public comment today about the unregistered tree murderers. I'll post once the council video is uploaded.

Garage entrepreneurs rejoice: In the same meeting, the Land Use committee revisited Councilmember Dan Strauss’s COVID-19 Era baby (not streeteries, the other baby) “Bringing Business Home” which eased restrictions and allowed business’s to operate in their garage. The committee voted the six month extension out of committee with a few slight changes, so the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections and the Office of Economic Development can come up with permanent changes. It will go to full council for a final vote.

Councilmember Sara Nelson asked that the council ask BIAs how they feel about allowing businesses to operate without a brick and mortar set up. She ultimately supported the measure.
Councilmember Sara Nelson asked that the council ask BIAs how they feel about allowing businesses to operate without a brick and mortar set up. She ultimately supported the measure. Screenshot from Seattle Channel

Missed connections: I saw today’s I Anonymous and I felt absolutely compelled to speak out. The writer asked that people stop letting their dogs run around off-leash in parks. I don’t have strong opinions about this. It has never bothered me, but I’m willing to be convinced by someone more passionate than I. However I feel like I know who wrote this? If you lectured a woman for 45+ minutes at Madison Park Beach about her small dog being off-leash on July 29, please email me. This weird, aggressive behavior made a profound impact on me and I would like to discuss.

RV safe lots coming soon! Okay, okay, Seattle has TRIED to do RV safe lots in the past and now the King County Regional Homelessness Authority (KCRHA) is poised to take a crack at it. A directive from the City in their budget gave the KCRHA $1.9 million to create spaces for 25 vehicles. According to a Notice of Funding Availability, the contract start date is expected in the second quarter of 2022. According to a recent presentation from the KCRHA, vehicle residents make up as much as half of the unsheltered homeless population in King County. Many of these people are hesitant to leave their vehicles to go to another shelter option.

Let’s go to the mall: As an unashamed fan of malls, I liked this story from Crosscut. Yes, there are dead and dying malls all across America, but that is not the case in this Central WA shopping center.

Another fake spring: Yesterday life felt worth living. Today, on the other hand… We had the first 60 degree day in Seattle in 127 days. The rain, the gloom, and the low 50s made a swift comeback today. However, temperatures will perk back up Thursday and Friday. Still, it might be a while before we see a day as nice as yesterday.

Russia bombed a theatre full of women and children: Last Wednesday, Russia bombed a theatre in Mariupol where up to a thousand civilians, mostly women and children, took shelter. The building split in two and the bomb left it in complete ruins. While it is unknown how many civilians died in that theatre, one woman, who had lived in there for ten days, survived. This is how she did it.

What the sexiest senator said: Matt Baume already filled us in on how the Senate Republicans made absolute fools of themselves questioning Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. (Why does Ted Cruz care so much about child porn but is buddy-buddy with Josh Duggar who molested his sisters??)

Anyway, I thought you might also be interested to know that Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia joked about asking Jackson if she is a tea or a coffee drinker in the morning. The fact that Ossoff can say that is pretty privilege and that’s okay. He also asked about a 2019 decision on presidential power over House Democrats’ attempt to subpoena a former White House Counsel. Jackson said “presidents are not kings,” and Ossoff asked for clarification. You King Inslee types might like her response:

“The framers decided, after experiencing monarchy, tyranny and the like, that they were going to create a government that would split the powers of a monarch in several different ways..."

"The separation of powers is crucial to liberty, it is what our country is founded on, and it's important as consistent with my judicial methodology for each branch to operate within their own sphere. That means for me that judges can't make law, judges shouldn't be policymakers.”

Happy birthday ferry!