–Great for Tourism
–Great for the Locals
Heroin’s already cheap as dirt in Seattle. Now all they’ve gotta do is make it legal, just like marijuana.
Well, City Council? We’re waiting!
–Great for Tourism
–Great for the Locals
Heroin’s already cheap as dirt in Seattle. Now all they’ve gotta do is make it legal, just like marijuana.
Well, City Council? We’re waiting!
“The world’s biggest tunnel-boring machine, nicknamed Bertha — which hit a pipe and was damaged in mid-December after only 1,000 feet of excavation — is down there in the dark, awaiting what may well be the world’s biggest industrial rescue operation.”
–Oh fuck! Can you believe it? They were digging a billion-dollar tunnel and . . . wonder of wonders . . . the tunnel machine bit into a PIPE and choked. Now who would’ve expected to find something like that buried down there. Of all the crazy things! A pipe!
Below is a copy of an e-mail cc’d to me by a friend. It’s a complaint he’s making to Sound Transit, the commuter bus service that runs between Seattle and several of the surrounding cities . . . I’ve included a file photo of the type of dog my friend is complaining about, a blood hound. As you can see, they’re large dogs.
Via e-mail to email@example.com on 10/14/2014
Re: Sound Transit Dog Policy Enforcement
Dear Sound Transit,
I’m writing to appeal for your cooperation in instituting tighter controls by your coach operators to enforce your dog policy and enhance the structure around what is defined by a “Service Animal.” On your online published basic rules for bus and train passengers is this first item – “Animals: Service animals are allowed on Sound Transit buses and trains. Pets may ride if they are carried in small containers.”
Yesterday I witnessed this spectacle on boarding the #512 bus southbound for Seattle at the Ash Way Park & Ride around 3:30pm: A full-grown bloodhound (!) on the driver side of the bus in the senior citizen area. The owner had spread her belongings on the seats on both sides of herself taking up 4 spots (!) and her animal sniffed each boarding rider with its snot-dripping nose. She fussed with the dog’s ears, removing material she then would drop on the bus floor. On the opposite side of the bus, a man held a small dog on his lap. Then once underway, he let the dog walk on the bus seat (!). She asked the other animal owner if he cleans his dog’s ears? He said no. She exclaimed loudly, “Well these dogs are known to have a lot of crud in their ears-it’s a full-time job!”
I was FURIOUS! Neither animal had any service animal identification or bibs visible, and neither animal was in any container, let alone “small.” The Ukrainian operator had allowed both of these animals aboard. This has been increasingly happening on the bus with your policy being flaunted more and more often, and I’m sickened by it. If you saw a human wanting to board who licked his privates in public, you definitely wouldn’t allow that human to board the bus (and you’d probably call Security to boot). The dog owners set a gauntlet we have to pass by as their dogs run their wet noses over our passing pant legs. And whether the rider favors dogs or not, this is a public health issue. But most importantly, it makes me daydream about not wanting to ride the bus anymore. I drive a couple of days a week, but could very easily switch to driving every day. It won’t take much.
I would also like to bring to your attention the real cottage business of Service Dog bib fraud. A friend of mine south of Missoula, Montana described a lady there who routinely sews and sells fake Service animal bibs to dog owners who don’t want to be constrained by societal rules for keeping their dog out of places they shouldn’t be.
I suggest instituting a Sound Transit Service Animal pass that owners have to obtain from the Ridestore with staff there verifying documents showing their animal is an authentic Service Animal. Then the owner needs to be required to run the pass by the Orca [boarding card] reader each time they want to board the pass with their Service Animal to verify they are in your database. I know Orca is a fare tracking program, but since you mention that Service Animals ride free, you could program those passes as free. All others without this ID should not be permitted on the bus, PERIOD, unless, as your policy states: they are small and contained in a closed carrier.
Please enforce this out of respect for those of us who would not think of imposing our pets on fellow riders. With your planned fare increase, please consider this additional reason those of who have the choice would consider not riding the bus anymore.
I welcome your response.
(12-year Sound Transit passenger, but considering quitting)
Tent City 4 is a large homeless encampment managed by a group known as the Seattle Housing And Resource Effort (SHARE). SHARE is a registered 501(c)3 charity that solicits funds from government and private sources. SHARE has an annual budget of several hundred thousand dollars, much of which is not properly accounted for on SHARE’s annual 990 income tax form. SHARE does not make their budget public.
SHARE operates both permitted and unpermitted (illegal) homeless camps in and around Seattle. In order get a permit for one of its legal encampments, SHARE is required to hold community meetings in advance and is required to address neighbor concerns about drug use in camp, community safety, sanitation, and so on. At these meetings SHARE representatives (including some camp residents) stand up and assure the community that the camps are being run safely, that no drugs are allowed on the premises, and so on. However, police reports tell quite a different story.
A colleague of mine recently filed a public disclosure request with the Bellevue Washington Police Department in response to a drug overdose death that occurred in early July, 2014. This death is not the first drug overdose at a SHARE-run camp. It is certainly not the first drug-related incident or arrest that’s happened at a camp.
This police report is noteworthy in two respects: First it suggests that SHARE either can’t or won’t police drug activity in the camps that it runs. Second, it suggests that, far from cooperating with the police and community in keeping out drug users, SHARE management (as represented by the “Marvin” in the police report) are willing to obstruct police investigations into drug use, even when that use leads to one of the camper’s deaths. As you read through this report, pay attention to the parts I’ve highlighted. You’ll see how Marvin tries to control the flow of information about what goes in the camp to the outside world. On page 9 we see that one of the Bellevue police officers, a Detective Mangione, observed drug paraphernalia in the victims tent, but when he tried to determine the victim’s identity and get the details of what had happened, the staff at Tent City 4 was “uncooperative.”
Please share this link with anyone you know in the Seattle or King County government. Tomorrow, the full King County Council will be reviewing a proposed ordinance on temporary homeless encampments (Proposed Ordinance No. 2014-0365). This ordinance is largely being written with SHARE in mind. The sponsor of the bill is Councilmember Rod Dembowski. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His phone number is (206) 477-1001.
See the full police report on James Wosser’s death here: Death of James Wosser
Now I’m not claiming that this lady is typical of panhandlers in terms of her life situation. In fact, most panhandlers I see in Seattle are scruffy, and they DON’T drive nice cars. Most are mentally ill and drug addicted and are either homeless or just barely off the street. In other words, they’re ’bout as different from Grannie here as they could be.
There’s something the scruffy guys do have in common with Grannie though, and that’s that they’re both perpetrating a fraud. They are both leading their kind-hearted but naive benefactors into thinking that she’ll be using the money to pull themselves out of a rut. In Grannie’s case, she won’t be doing that because she’s not IN a rut. But even if she were, it’s highly unlikely that she’d be getting out of it through panhandling. Of all the panhandlers I’ve known, not one has ever improved his or her long-term condition as a result of panhandling. To the extent that panhandling did anything at all for them, it kept them down.
Now here’s a video that established the authenticity of the first video. It also presents viewers in the OKC area with healthy, alternative options for helping the poor and homeless:
Saturday, September 6, 2014
This picturesque tableaux was discovered around 1st and Seneca, just a block from the Seattle Art Museum and Benaroya Hall, two world-class cultural amenities. It’s not uncommon to see crud like this around on the sidewalk at all hours and even during high tourist season. Apparently some angry and sarcastic homeless person has decided to ditch his duds, along with a collection of his writings. Actually, there’s a good chance that what happened here is that dude was tossed out of the Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) or some other free squat in the vicinity, and he didn’t have the wherewithal to take his shit with him. I’ve moved folks in and out of these places, and believe me when I tell you that it’s an education in how little a person actually needs to “own.” I’ve seen people throwing away family pictures, treasured heirlooms, everything but what they could carry with them and sleep on. After just a few weeks of being homeless, you know the drill: Whether you’re under a roof in a downtown squat or right out on the street, if you can’t keep a eyewatch on it 24/7 then lose it NOW, because your’e gonna lose it in the end anyway, and in the meantime it’s gonna cause you nothing but grief.
There was a wealth of good material in the bag, and I would’ve liked to take some of it with me as a souvenir. But I didn’t know where that material had been, and my companions were waiting, so I gingerly unfolded the first leaf, took the photo, and then moved on.
With spelling corrected, the paper reads:
“Fuck the Police”
Angry, Irish BUM TOURS
• Get a ticket, wipe your ass with it, give it back to the police
• Experience puking, peeing, and pooping in public alleys [Nice alliteration! -Ed.]
• Build a card house!*
• Fly a sign**
• Die of humiliation when your ex sees you
• Lose your shit
• Pee on police cars
• Hang out with One-ear Jack
• Get staph, a spider bite, a free meal, ill-fitting shoes, boot rot, diarrhea and you***
• Fuck a squat mattress (an ugly woman)
• Advanced toilet paper
• Sex in a porti-potty
• Be entitled
* I don’t know what “building a card house” means. It might refer to gift cards, meal tickets, or something of that nature. Or perhaps fake IDs.
** Refers to holding a sign up to street or sidewalk traffic, asking for money. (Panhandling)
*** Play on an old Jimmy Rodgers tune (Miss the Mississippi and You)
This is a story from my own neighborhood of West Seattle. Several years ago a local unemployed veteran named Byron Barton borrowed some $650K on his house (more than it was worth) and then had himself a stroke. Between him and his wife, they spent up all the money and then stopped making payments on the debt. So . . . guess what? The mortgage owner sold the property for payment of the debt and the home’s new owner moved to evict the Bartons.
But wait! Then a group called “SAFE” (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction) made THEIR move to blockade the house to prevent it from being repossessed, and Seattle’s high-profile Socialist City Councilmember, Kshama Sawant, fresh from her $15 minimum wage victory, endorsed the campaign to keep the Bartons in their home. After much stalling by the King County Sheriff’s Office and the City of Seattle, the house’s new owner took the case to King County Superior Court several weeks ago and forced the Sheriff to arrest the Bartons and remove them from the property.
Naturally, there was much sympathy for the Bartons around these parts, and much disgust for the mortgage banker, too, as well as banks in general, but in the end the Court decided, wisely I think, that just because you’re a disabled vet, and just because you’re friends with Kshama Sawant, it doesn’t entitle you to a bagful of free money and a nice house to live in, rent-free, for the rest of your life.
It was close there for a while, though.
Here’s an interesting segment from today’s Dori Monson’s show on KVI radio in Seattle. In this bit, the host is talking about how Seattle’s class divisions are paradoxically widening as a result of the city’s Robin Hood-like efforts to help the poor. He’s comparing our city to San Francisco, which has undergone a similar evolution, only sooner. While much of what Monson says is clearly hyperbole, there’s enough truth in it to make you wonder: Seattle has been throwing money at the homeless problem for years now, but it seems like there are more homeless than ever. So perhaps we should be asking ourselves some questions.
What is the yardstick by which we measure our success or failure?
Where are the standards by which we judge whether we, as a city, are doing more or less than our fair share?
Listen to Monson’s Segment on Downtown Seattle by clicking HERE.
Photo below by David Preston, taken near his home in Highland Park.
P.S. I know this guy, and that’s why I’m not identifying him by name. He’s a good guy, but I know for a fact that he doesn’t want to work, even though he can.
I recently asked the Seattle City Council to share with me any data they were looking at in their deliberations on the proposed minimum wage hike for Seattle. They sent me two studies, which I have linked for you below. The first study was prepared by the University of Washington specifically for the City Council:
At 107 pages, it’s just a damn long report, and although it does contain a lot of info, it’s not well organized or explained. To help you along, I’ve highlighted some of the material that I consider most relevant.
The most important thing the UW report tells us is how many workers will be directly affected if the minimum wage is raised to $15 (102,000) and what businesses those people will be in (restaurants, retail, health care, warehouses).
The second study the Council used was prepared for them by three University of California-Berkeley wonks. It’s here:
As with the UW report, I’ve highlighted some of the UCB report text you might want to pay special attention to.
The second report strongly suggests that a minimum wage hike in Seattle will not have a significant negative impact on business because similar wage hikes in San Francisco and San Jose did not have such an impact.
As the world knows by now, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray just announced his plan to raise the minimum wage to $15/hour. The raise will be staggered across different sized business and will be implemented in increments, with the last increment to be finished by 2021. See more on that story here:
In making his decision, the Mayor undoubtedly relied heavily on the UCB minimum wage impact report. That report argues – convincingly I think – that the San Francisco wage hike was good for workers without being bad for business.
Two grains of salt should be taken along with the UCB impact report. The first is that the report was prepared by people who almost certainly favor wage hikes. If you read the document closely, you’ll notice that the lead authors, Michael Reich and Dan Jacobs, cite their own research more often than they cite other studies. Collectively Reich and Jacobs have authored no fewer than seven research studies that they cite at various points in their impact paper. That’s what’s known as academic incest.
The second critique I would make of the UCB report is that the analogy it makes between Seattle and San Francisco may not be valid. San Francisco’s cost of living is considerably higher than Seattle’s (especially when rents are taken into consideration) yet San Francisco’s current minimum wage was just boosted to $10.55 per hour – much lower than the $15/hour wage that Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant had originally proposed, and not much higher than Seattle’s current rate of $9.22/hour. That suggests that the cost of labor was already considerably more out-of-synch with the cost of living in San Francisco than it is here in Seattle. Accordingly, we would expect to see much less of a blip on the business radar after raising the wage modestly in spendy, trendy San Francisco than we would expect to see after raising it several dollars more in little old Seattle.
But this raises a broader question: How do we know what number the minimum wage should be be set at? If the implication of the UCB report is right and there’s no mischief in raising the minimum wage to $10/hour, why stop there? Or why stop at $15? Why not boost it to $25 and put everyone over the top?
Although the UCB authors don’t mention this fact, of course there is a point at which hiking the minimum wage number will start hurting the economy. Do the UCB authors know what the pain threshold is? No. They don’t. All they’ve demonstrated, really, was that San Francisco’s number ($10.55/hr as of 2014) was somewhere below the pain threshold. But how far below? Again, nobody knows.
And what about $15/hour for Seattle? Is that below the pain threshold or above it? Again, nobody knows. I guess we’ll find out as Mayor Murray’s plan is phased in. On the other hand, since the Murray plan is so gradual, it could be that Seattle’s small business is asphyxiated by imperceptible degrees.
First, think of labor as a commodity, which it is. Then consider how that commodity would be priced if it were sold on a perfectly free and open market . . . with the understanding that there’s no such thing.
The chart below should be recognizable to anyone who’s had a high-school level economics class. It describes how the price is set for a given commodity. For example a widget . . . or an hour of unskilled labor.
Table 1. Setting a Natural Labor Price Point
If you’re a worker selling your labor, you must set the price for it at the “equilibrium” point where the lines of labor supply and labor demand intersect. If you ask for money than that, employers won’t buy your labor because they can get it somewhere else cheaper. If you set it below that point, you’re losing out.
Now let’s assume that the current unskilled labor supply is priced artificially low for some reason. Let’s say it’s because Wal-Mart and Starbucks are colluding to keep wages down to the minimum. This means the price dot in the graph above (i.e., the wage rate) would be located somewhere below the imaginary equilibrium point. Like so:
Table 2. An Artificially Low Labor Price Point
This means that you and other workers should be doing whatever you can (unionizing, striking, electing socialists) to raise that wage. Or you can just leave town, because if enough workers leave town and are not replaced by other workers (such as immigrants) the price for an hour of unskilled labor will come up naturally. But of course by then you’ll be gone. In any case, if the price of labor is artificially low, you can keep pushing it back up until you hit that natural equilibrium point without significantly disrupting business. But what happens if you raise the minimum wage to $15 and that number happens to be above the natural price point for an hour of labor? Like so:
Table 3: Artificially High Price Point
In that case, business will be affected and will have to do something to remain competitive and profitable. That action could take the form of:
In the final analysis, I think Mayor Murray did the right thing. Seattle’s existing wage can probably stand a hike without hurting business, but that should be done gently and incrementally, and with the understanding that different sized businesses operate on very different profit margins when it comes to labor costs.
Will business be hurt by the time the wage raises to $15? Possibly. Consumers could be feeling some pain by then, too, as businesses phase in higher retail prices to compensate for increased labor costs. Some business owners will cope by cutting waste elsewhere in the supply chain, or by increasing labor productivity, as they did in San Francisco. (Better paid workers naturally make for more productive workers, according to the UC Berkeley study.)
Some businesses will probably go under, and the products and services they offer – along will the jobs they provided – will simply disappear. However, that’s a risk that Mayor Murray is apparently willing to take in exchange for the promise of a better standard of living for some 100,000 of Seattle’s workers.
~ fin ~
Coming up next: The informal economy. How will a new minimum wage affect it?
A friend of mine lives in housing for (formerly) hard-core homeless people. He’s been there for a little over a year now. I’m not at liberty to tell you exactly where he’s, at other than to say it’s a high-rise in downtown Seattle.
At this place they tolerate drug addicts and even dealers, as well as people in various states of mental decay. In contrast to the other tenants, my friend is of sound mind – most of the time anyway – and he doesn’t use or sell drugs. Moreover, he has health issues that make him sensitive to smoke and the toxic chemicals associated with home-cooked dope, so this place is awfully hard for him to abide.
Unfortunately, when he complains to management about the situation – which he does frequently – they ignore him.
So what are his options here? It doesn’t look like he’s going to be able to persuade the landlord to draw the line on people using or cooking in their rooms, and he’s reluctant to take his complaints to the next level. This place is his refuge of last resort, and if he gets kicked out, he’ll be back on the streets, where he won’t last long.
The guy reminisces a lot about living on the streets and tells me that he’d gladly go back to that life if his body could take it. But that’s just it, see . . . because even with a roof over his head now, he’s on thin ice. He’s got half a dozen fancy sounding health conditions, and that’s not even counting the pain. The good old-fashioned pain.
And the depression.
On top of all the other problems at his digs, the place is always getting infested and reinfested with bedbugs. To pretend like they’re doing something about the problem, management will send a bedbug-sniffing mutt through the halls every week or so.
I think the pooch must be depressed too, though, what with all the shit he sees going on in the world. So don’t be surprised to pick up the paper one of these days and read about a dog jumping out a window, somewhere over the mean streets of Seattle.
I enjoy spending outdoor time with my two granddaughters. Yesterday, on the way home from school, we stopped at nearby local playground to get our ya-yas out. (See map below.)
The area this playground is in has had a checkered past. Over the years there have been several ghastly crimes committed there, and the neighborhood has had a tough time living that down. But things are changing. Recently the playground got a much-needed face lift (new castle feature and skate park) and as a result the place is always packed with families on warm, sunny days.
And yesterday was no exception.
Unfortunately, on this particular day there were also three “pimped out” rods parked end-to-end along the west side of parking lot. Ghetto music (thump-thump-thump) was blasting from one of them and there was a youngish, gangsta-looking guy leaning on the car door, yelling nigga-this and nigga-that at someone inside. Naturally, everyone on the playground could hear this disturbing little performance . . . which I believe was the gangsta’s intention. Continue reading
Dedicated to Jiggers, who just gots to know . . .
Jiggs, there are as many answers to this question as there are liberals, but I think you’re looking for a general sense of what it means to be a liberal in this particular time and place (America of the 21st century).
The simplest way I can answer you is by use of a schematic that counter-poses what most Americans think of as liberal attitudes to what most people think of as conservative ones. I don’t know if you recall, but I created this graphic for the Off-Brand Blog forum section when I was still dwelling there among the harpies:
Of course, there are infinite degrees of liberalism and conservatism, and you certainly can’t fit all liberals and conservatives neatly into one of these two baskets. Moreover, a lot can change depending on the issue you happen to be discussing . . .
Take abortion for example. That’s an area where liberals would tend to favor the rights of the individual (in this case a pregnant woman choosing an abortion) over the rights of the collective. But in the main, I think it’s fair to say that liberals generally believe that the collective (i.e., society) is responsible for the good of the individual and that, accordingly, any special wealth or status that accrue to an individual for whatever reason, should be divided up among the members of the collective.
The liberal model is similar to the one that our hunter-gatherer ancestors used for hundreds of thousands of years; it only changed with the Industrial Revolution, which made it possible for a significant number of individuals within society to amass large amounts of status or wealth, based (presumably) on their talent and effort.
Any questions? I’ll get into specific cases later.
April 4 Update: A talk with Marcus Adams about Nickelsville Security
Go to Update HERE.
Yesterday I received information that a man who once lived at Nickelsville Highland Park – and might even have been in charge of “security” there – is cooling his heels in the King County Jail on $250,000 bail.
The man’s name:
Attempted Child Molestation
[Click on the image below to enlarge]
Here’s a head-shot of Mr. Adams, taken while he was living at Nickelsville:
As I understand it, Mr. Adams moved into Nickelsville shortly after the squatter’s camp turned up at Highland Park in early 2011. He lived there for at least a year. One of my sources remembers him being there until about a year before Nickelsville left Highland Park in September 2013. If it’s true that Mr. Adams was in charge of Nickelsville “Security” at some point that means he would have been in charge of screening others for entry into the camp.
Whether he was responsible for screening entrants or not, Mr. Adams did stay at Nickelsville long enough to have come in contact with several of the children who moved in and out of the camp, and please remember that these children were there with the full knowledge of Nickelsville bosses Scott Morrow and Peggy Hotes. After leaving the camp, Mr. Adams did not go far. He was living for several months in downtown White Center, in a building that a friend of mine jokingly refers to as “The Meth Arms” — presumably because there are so many former (and current) methamphetamine users there.
According to my source, Mr. Adams was arrested in Utah and extradited to Seattle for further processing. I will continue updating you as I get information, but in the meantime, please see my caveats below . . .
Caveat 1: Mr. Adams has not been convicted of anything. He has merely been charged.
Caveat 2: As far as I know, the charges against Mr. Adams do not date to the time he was at Nickelsville.
Caveat 3: Even if Mr. Adams is convicted, it won’t mean that he’s Satan or that he should be hounded from place to place by mobs with pitchforks. It won’t even necessarily mean that he shouldn’t have been staying at Nickelsville.
It will mean, however, that there should never have been children there at Nickelsville in the first place, which is what I have been TRYING to get across to various politicians, government officials, and church ladies for the longest time!
I visited Marcus Adams at the King County Jail on Saturday, March 29 to ask him some questions about his time at Nickelsville. During this visit I did not talk with Mr. Adams about the child molestation charges against him (see above).
Here’s what I learned in the course of the discussion:
► Mr. Adams arrived at the Nickelsville homeless encampment about three months after they moved into their location at Highland Park. (This would have been sometime in May of 2011.) Prior to living at Nickelsville, Adams had lived at other SHARE-run homeless encampments for a total of about two years.
► Adams stayed at Nickelsville for approximately 10 months before moving into an apartment in downtown White Center. While he was there several families with children stayed there.
► Adams was head of security at Nickelsville Highland Park for about six months. As was customary, he shared these duties with another person.
Security chiefs at Nickelsville make the final decision on whether someone is allowed into camp. They are also responsible for training other residents on how to do resident intakes. Intakes is done by whoever happens to be “on security” (i.e., manning the security booth) when a prospective new resident shows up.
Security shifts last two hours and the work is divided up – theoretically at least – among all campers. At least two campers are supposed to be on security duty 24/7.
Intake is a three-part process that includes: (1) checking the name of the new resident against a list of registered sex offenders, (2) doing a phone-in warrant check with the police, and (3) going over the camp rules with the campers. The camp check-in process takes about 20 minutes. If the new camper is a sex offender or has an outstanding warrant, he will be turned away. If the camper does not agree to abide by the rules, he will be turned away.
When I asked Mr. Adams about the overall security situation during the six months he was chief, he said it was very tight. I asked him whether people used phony IDs or had no ID and he said that was very rare. He also said the sex-offender and warrant-check processes were streamlined and effective. He told me that in the time he was there, he’d had to turn a maximum of about 10 people, either because they showed up on the sex offender registry or they had an outstanding warrant. He’d also had to call the cops a few times, he said, to have an obnoxious drunk booted out of camp.
The warrant check process depends on having a working phone at the security desk, and I asked Mr. Adams about a story I’d heard that the front-desk phone at Nickelsville was often out of commission. He allowed that that was true and said that the phone service was frequently cut off because Mr. Morrow had not paid the phone bill.
“What did you do when the phone wasn’t working?” I asked him. “How did you do the warrant checks?”
“We borrowed somebody’s phone. Or I used my own.”
I asked Mr. Adams if he had any criticism of the security situation at Nickelsville, and he told me that after he left, things went downhill. He visited the camp from time to time after moving out and noticed that people were openly doing drugs in camp – he could see them doing drugs in or near their tents – and that security was often lax or even non-existent.
“Why did that happen?” I asked. “Because people are just lazy,” he said. “And after I left, nobody cared anymore.”
Wasn’t the laxness on security also a problem when you were there? I asked him. He admitted that it was, though to a lesser degree. Adams told me that one of his biggest challenges as a security chief was getting people who were manning the security desk to take the job seriously and do it right. When he was there, he rode them, making sure that they did the intakes right. But after he left as security chief, his replacements did not take their role as as seriously as he had.
Didn’t Scott Morrow (boss of SHARE and Nickelsville) care about this? I asked. No, Adams said. Scott was much more concerned with how the port-a-potties and Dumpsters were going to get paid for.
I talked at length with Mr. Adams about Mr. Morrow’s longstanding claim that Nickelsville is a democratically run camp. Adams told me that Nickelsville was not a democracy and that Morrow was known to regularly countermand directives of the security chiefs and to overrule decisions of the camp “arbitrators” who decided on punishments for campers who had broken some rule or other. This caused resentment among camp residents, Adams told me, because Mr. Morrow didn’t even live in the camp.
Interestingly enough, one of the running disagreements between Mr. Adams and Mr. Morrow, according to Adams, was over the question of whether campers would be allowed to sleep off a drunk in their tents. Adams said he took the position that campers who got drunk or high off property should be allowed to come back at night, as long as they didn’t make trouble. Morrow, on the other hand, believed that returning campers who showed up drunk or stoned should be turned away.
Another bone of contention was Morrow’s decision to reject out of hand the Sunny Jim site proposal. (The Sunny Jim site is the location of the disused Sunny Jim peanut butter plant.) Mayor McGinn had proposed the site as a permanent location for Nickelsville, and Adams told me that a strong majority of Nickelodeons were for the Sunny Jim proposal. But Morrow overruled them without even allowing the question to go to a vote of campers.
Note: The Sunny Jim site was later rejected by the City Council, too, though ostensibly for other reasons. In early 2013, when I asked Mr. Morrow why he had rejected the Sunny Jim site and other proposals from the Council and/or the Mayor, he told me that they were too restrictive.
On the question of whether Nickelsville is democratically run by the residents, I have heard reports from a number of ex-Nickelodeons that support Mr. Adams version. The narrative that emerges from those stories is one in which the camps are run by campers only so long as campers’ decisions don’t contradict the wishes of Mr. Morrow. According to the narrative, Morrow insists on having the last word on all major decisions. If that narrative is true (which I believe it is) it poses a dilemma both for Morrow and for the camps in general. Morrow is clearly a busy man. In addition to overseeing at least two non-profit organizations (SHARE and Nickelsville) Morrow has placed himself in charge of the daily operations of two tent cities, two homeless camps, and a number of shelter sites within Seattle city limits. One of the homeless camps (the Nickelsville at 20th and Jackson) has young children and infants living there, amid recovering (and active) drug addicts, felons, and the mentally ill.
Is it really possible for one person with so many duties to assure the safety of all these people?
Update: March 14
Update: March 10
OK, so I’ve been contacted by a nice lady named Rachel Goodluck from the West African nation of Burkina Faso. She doesn’t even know me, but she must’ve heard that I’m hurting for cash, so here’s what she says:
My name is Mrs. Rachel Goodluck. I am banker by profession with the Boa bank of Burkina Faso and I am the chief account officer to the late Mr. Lam Kok, who died in a helicopter crash in France while inspecting one of his new acquisitions.
Please follow the link to read more about his story: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-25476662.
I have the opportunity of making you the beneficiary of his funds deposited with our bank. I have all the details and required information to make you the beneficiary to the funds. Get back to me via email for more details about the deal only if you are interested to actualize this deal with me.
Mrs. Rachel Goodluck
Naturally, I wanted in, so I sent her a brief e-mail asking for more info. Here’s her grammar-corrected reply:
Dear Friend, Continue reading
Dedicated to Scott St. Clair and Dr. Ron Sterling
OK . . . so I got signed up with Obamacare on schedule, right? As of now, I haven’t been to see a doctor once, so I haven’t gotten anything good from the program yet.
What I HAVE gotten, though, is this:
4 Amerigroup~RealSolutions membership cards
1 Letter from DSHS offering me food stamps (declined)
1 Letter from DSHS denying me health care benefits*
and . . .
Approx. 30 robo-calls (sometimes two in one day) from Amerigroup Final Solutions telling me I need to call them back urgently so they can share some “important” information with me.
I never call the Amerigroup number back. Why? Because I tried that once and guess what happened? Instead of giving me the so-called urgent information, their machine just grilled me for information about my health. Personal information of the kindthat you would only want to discuss with a live human being, preferably a medical professional:
Don’t get me wrong. I like the concept of Obamacare.
The CONCEPT of Obamacare.
I’m po’, and I need that shit. But what I do NOT need is for some computer to be calling and asking me about my business. That is exactly the kind of thing Republicans said they were worried about, is it not?
Here. Listen to a recording of my one call with Amerigroup:
(Some bits of personal info have been edited out of the recording.)
As you’re listening to this, please, note the following:
¶ It’s so easy to game the survey it’s laughable
It has limited voice recognition capabilities, so all I had to do to fool it into thinking I was my wife Phea was to say “Yes” to their question: “Is this Phea?” and then give her birthdate. From there I could have proceeded to give all kinds of misleading or just plain wrong information about her health status.
Do you have HIV? –Sure do.
Depression? –Afraid so.
Diagnosed with schizophrenia? –Well, yes and no . . .
¶ They say you can talk to an “agent” at the end
Yeah. You can talk to an agent at the end of the survey, all right. But the agent is clearly no help at all. Worse than nothing, in fact.
What’s the survey for? I asked.
Don’t know, says Agent Tracy.
Have you ever taken that survey yourself? I say
None of your business, she replies.
Hm. Oh, I get it. So your machine can ask me if I have AIDS I can’t ask your representative if she’s ever taken the same survey . . . because that’s a PERSONAL question!
When I asked Agent Tracy why they couldn’t just have someone call me personally and ask for that information, she explained that they’re simply too busy to do that. “We have thousands of insureds,” she said. “We can’t take the time to contact each of them individually.”
To top it off, Tracy is not even in Washington state. She’s at a call center in God-Knows-Wheresville. (Could be a federal detention center for all I know.)
She said that she’d have a manager call me back the next business day, but [surprise] nobody’s ever called me back. And I’m sure nobody ever will.
And in the meantime, Amerigroup’s machine keeps ringing me every goddam day, asking me to call them back. (It’s URGENT!!)
Now remember . . . Amerigroup is not a health care provider. They couldn’t help me put a Band-Aid on my finger, and this Tracy lady probably wouldn’t know a hypodermic if it stuck her in the ass.
Nope. Amerigroup is just an insurance company, one I was given no choice over but had to accept by virtue of the federal mandate that I sing up for medical insurance.
Like I said, I’m not going to call this outfit back or answer any more questions about my health until I get to talk to a live human being. I’m expecting a letter from Amerigroup any day now telling me that my Obamacare’s been cancelled because I’m not being responsive. After that I’m expecting a visit from some IRS goons who will inform me that me they’re garnishing my wages (what wages?) or sending me to prison for non-compliance with Obamacare.
With a little luck, though, the IRS Obamacare punishment section will be run on the same business model as Amerigroup, and instead of paying me a personal visit they’ll just have a robo-dialer call me and tell me to report to a federal detention center at my earliest convenience.
As we go to press I hear the phone ringing . . .
Hold on a sec, blogoszoids. I’ll be back with you shortly . . .
[ . . .]
This is inmate #4859609 blogging to you from the Federal Corrections Facility in scenic Sheridan, Oregon.
God bless you, and may God bless the United States of America . . .
Recent news stories about the fictional collapse of the fictional bitcoin currency have me wondering who’s the bigger dupe: the trustifarian nerds who buy bitcoins or the journalists who write about them.
Take this recent story from the Associated Press, via the Seattle Times:
The is absolutely typical of the bitcoin media hype. Reporters will talk about someone “seizing” a stash of bitcoins [read: the FBI took someone's hard drive]. Or they’ll quote some financial “expert” who doesn’t know jack-shit about computers and the Internet but is happy to wing it in order to get his name in the papers.
It’s obvious that the Establishment has been hoaxed on bitcoin. But here’s the beauty of it . . . In order to convince themselves that they’re not actually a bunch of suckers, the hoax-ees all have to keep the hoax going and get more people buying into it. That means they have to keep yammering on about it in such a way that leads you to believe that they are taking bitcoin seriously – even if they’re trashing it at the moment – and that therefore, so should you.
Here’s a quote from the Times print edition in which some banker is talking about the latest bitcoin “crash” :
“This is extremely destructive,” said Mark Williams, a risk-management expert and former Federal Reserve Bank examiner. “What we’re seeing is a lot of the flaws. [Bitcoin] is not only fragile, it’s fragile as eggshells.”
Oh yeah? Eggshells, huh? Try fairy dust! That would’ve been a better metaphor, because compared to what bitcoin is made of, eggshells are like reinforced concrete.
Want more evidence of media shilling for bitcoin? Do an Internet search on the terms “bitcoin” + “wild ride.” [Or click Here.] There’s nearly a million hits on that combo, several of them in the Seattle Times coverage alone. And those hits are spanning several months’ worth of coverage; it’s not like they’re all for one story.
So what does that prove? Just that no one’s doing any original research or writing on bitcoin. Instead, one source (probably someone who is in league with the bitcoin hoaxters) planted a story trying to bump the price up. The rest of the media (including the AP) then picked up the term “wild ride” and parroted it endlessly:
Eventually even the shilliest of media shills has to fess up and admit that bitcoin is nothing but smoke and mirrors. They usually do this between the lines, though, maybe in one of those “What the hell is bitcoin anyway?” side panels they have to stick in there for the yokels. In the piece I linked above, the AP admits that the value of bitcoin isn’t pegged to anything. In fact it seems that nobody even knows who started it:
Q: Who’s behind the currency?
A: It’s a mystery. Bitcoin was launched in 2009 by a person or group of people operating under the name Satoshi Nakamoto and then adopted by a small clutch of enthusiasts. Nakamoto dropped off the map as bitcoin began to attract widespread attention, but proponents say that doesn’t matter; the currency obeys its own, internal logic.
–Got that folks? Bitcoin is a mystery! [Insert spooky sounds here.]
Let’s give bitcoin a little grounding in reality, shall we? Because that’s something the media isn’t very good at . . . reality. They tend to speak of bitcoin as if it were its own thing out there in cyberspace. But is that really true? Could bitcoin stand alone as a currency, without another, non-fictive currency (like, say, the dollar) to sustain it?
Here’s a scenario that involves bitcoin and at least one non-credulous person . . . Say you’re trying to sell your old Chevy Impala through Craigslist, and within minutes of your ad appearing online, a nerdy teenager shows up at your doorstep saying he wants to buy the car immediately without even kicking the tires. You quickly agree on a price, but when it’s time to pay, the kids pulls a walnut out his pocket and hands it to you. You stifle a giggle at first, but suddenly you’re worried. What else might junior have in that pocket . . .
“Um, look, I’m sorry kid, but I only take cash,” you say, backing slowly into the safety of your house.
“Oh no, mister. This is Nut-Coin,” the kid says. “It’s better than cash. Nut-Coin is accepted everywhere on the Internet, and there’s no middleman. Plus,” he adds, beaming, “it’s totally untraceable.”
The kid looks dead serious, so you decide to humor him, just to see if he’s part of some new Mormon ploy to get into people’s houses.
“Where did you get that er . . . Nut-Coin, kid?”
“Off the Inter-nut, naturally. (Duh!)”
“I see. And how much is that thing worth, exactly?”
“It depends,” he replies. “Yesterday Nut-Coin was worth five cents, but today it’s worth a million dollars. Who knows how much it’ll be worth tomorrow? Right now, as of this second, I’m sure it’s worth several times more than your car.”
(You see your chance.)
“But I’m only selling this jalopy for six large. I can’t make change for your million-dollar Nut-Coin.”
“Oh, that’s all right Mister,” he says. “You can keep the change. I’ve got plenty more Nut-Coins in my account.”
“Uh-huh. Well, look. I think I’ve decided to keep the car after all. But tell me something, sonny. Who’s guaranteeing this Nut-Coin of yours?”
“I mean . . . who do I see if want to change a Nut-Coin into dollars. Or into yen. Or into pickled herring? You can do that with a currency that’s based on something real; you can exchange it for another currency or for a more-or-less static amount of goods or services.”
“I’m still not following, mister.”
“OK, look. The value of the dollar is based on the ability of U.S. government to tax its citizens and businesses, which is in turn based on the ability of those citizens to produce something that they and other people want. So . . . what is the value of this Nut-Coin thingie based on? Hm?”
“Gosh!” he says. “I never thought about it like that. I guess I don’t rightly know who’s behind Nut-Coin. Some squirrels probably. Squirrels are amazing critters aren’t they? They sure know their nuts.”
“They sure do, kid. They sure do. I’m feeling rather squirrely myself right now as a matter of fact. But yeah, look . . . I’m sorry, but like I said, I’ve decided not to sell the car after all. Did you want to talk to me about something else? The Book of Mormon maybe?”
“The Book of Who?”
“Never mind, kid. Never mind.”
To be continued.
* Take your pick.
West Seattle commuters were in shock today as their cars were pelted with trillions of tiny, aqueous globs released from altitudes of several thousand feet above the city.
The globs – assisted by wind and gravity – hurtled downward at tens of miles per hour. Most drivers reacted as if they had never encountered such a phenomenon. Some cursed and some prayed. Still others gritted their teeth and motored on, determined to act as if nothing was happening.
The documents below tell the story of how one government agency in Washington State, the Seattle King County Department of Public Health, failed to do its job and serve the public interest.
Of course, government failures happen all the time. Unless they’re especially spectacular or costly, they’re not news. What sets this particular failure apart is the fact that the agency in question – the Health Department – had everything it needed to succeed. It had the time, the money, the expertise, the good will. And most of all, it had the experience. And yet it failed anyway.
This is some of the most honest material I’ve yet seen on how quickly and surely we’re losing the war against the Taliban.
The bad news: It’s a total loss.
The good news: It’ll all be over soon.
What went wrong? –Almost everything.
What went right? –Almost nothing.
In the West, we talk of “failed states,” but Afghanistan was never a state to begin with. That was just a figment of some diplomat’s imagination, a dog-and-pony show staged for the benefit of Congress, Joe Sixpack, and the Masters of War.
Check out the coverage of the U.S. Ambassador’s visit, starting at 41:30. They fly the guy in to a protected base, walk him 150 meters into a tent for a quick speech about how safe the provinces are, and then hustle him back out.
So you see, ladies and gentlemen, that proves it. That proves we’re winning.
Or at least we’re not losing. Continue reading
Don’t answer that. I already know why it’s hard. In a word: Bureaucracy. Mindless, wasteful bureaucracy.
See the insurance card below? It’s the third one the government-mandated insurance provider has sent me in the forty days since I signed up for Obamacare. All together, I’ve received half a dozen mailings from various organizations connected with my new health insurance, each one chock-full of small-print gobbledygook that looks like it was farted out of some robo-lawyer’s ass. And in all that time I haven’t even been in to see a doctor. Or a nurse. Not even a fuckin’ receptionist!
But actually, I couldn’t care less about that. Let me tell you what else I got in the mail though, just last Friday.
Ah . . . nope. I think I better back up a little first. Give you some history.
Why do football players make a hundred times more money than Nobel laureates? Why do American high schools students know more about sports teams than they know about the Vietnam War?
Look, football is a game. By any measure of social benefit, it’s less important than the effort to cure cancer, fix our schools, or heal our planet. So . . . why all the fuss?
I’m glad that some people get enjoyment out of this game, but as for me I cannot support its glorification, because to do so would send a message to others that I think this country has its priorities straight, when in fact the opposite is true. Our national priorities are backwards, and football is the epitome of that backwardness.
I live in Seattle, and I can assure you that the “Seattle” Seahawks don’t have any organic connection to this city or its people. The players aren’t from here, they don’t spend much time here, and many of them don’t even live here. Regardless of whether the team wins or loses, it will have little impact on the lives of anyone outside the team and a few obscenely wealthy TV executives.
I would no more cheer for such an organization than I would cheer for Microsoft or General Motors.
In the end, the Super Bowl is just a lot of money and energy down the drain . . . resources that could have been used to do better things.
~ David Preston 2/2/14
1. Peyton Manning, Broncos – $18,000,000
2. Michael Vick, Eagles – $12,500,000
3. Matt Ryan, Falcons – 11,500,000
4. Philip Rivers, Chargers – $10,200,000
5. Aaron Rodgers, Packers – 8,000,000
6. Jay Cutler, Broncos – 7,700,000
7. Joe Flacco, Ravens – 6,760,000
8. Josh Freeman, Buccaneers – 6,585,000
9. Sam Bradford, Rams – 6,000,000
10. Matt Hasselbeck, Titans – 5,500,000
Washington State College/University Employees by Salary
|Agency Title||Name||Job Title||2010 Gross Earnings|
|UW||SARKISIAN, STEPHEN A||COACH-FOOTBALL||$1,982,918|
|WSU||BONE, KEN||HEAD BASKETBALL COACH||$746,416|
|UW||HOLT V, NICHOLAS||ASSISTANT COACH-FOOTBALL||$652,229|
|WSU||WULFF, PAUL L||HEAD FOOTBALL COACH||$551,670|
|UW||WOODWARD, DAVID SCOTT||ASSOCIATE VICE PRESIDENT||$550,008|
|UW||SEKHAR, LALIGAM N||PROFESSOR WITHOUT TENURE||$547,980|
|UW||REYES, JORGE DIONISIO||PROFESSOR WITHOUT TENURE||$521,304|
1. Orthopedic surgery — spine: $714,088
2. Neurological surgery: $701,927
3. Cardiovascular surgery — pediatric: $681,408
4. Neurological surgery — pediatric: $656,282
5. Cardiology — electrophysiology: $601,111
6. Orthopedic surgery — hip and joint: $589,267
7. Cardiology — invasive-interventional: $586,765
8. Dermatology — Mohs surgery: $586,083
9. Cardiovascular surgery: $567,171
10. Orthopedic surgery — trauma: $562,688
Traffic was sluggish on the West Seattle Bridge last night, with speeds varying between 30 and 40 mph and some scofflaws driving up to 42 mph. The wind was at 3 nauts.
Our stay-at-home correspondent, Martin Muschquack, reports that at approximately 5:37 PM two cars came perilously close to experiencing a mid-span collision as the driver in the car behind – “who was probably yapping on her phone” – did not leave enough stopping distance between herself and a line of cars slowing down at the Delridge exit. Tragedy was narrowly averted when the driver “hit the brakes at the last second.”
“I was sitting there watching the Bridge Blog when it happened,” Muschquack says. “Traffic is so unpredictable at that spot. We can go for weeks without an accident and then, Wham! out of the blue . . . something like this just . . . almost . . . Oh, I don’t even want to think about how bad it might have been.”
No reports of near misses have come over the police scanner, but that doesn’t mean anything. Lots of stuff happens here without even being reported to the police.
This is what very nearly happened last night:
Here’s what the scene looks like now:
Please leave your comments below. (Limit: 500 words.)
Below is an itemized list of the City of Seattle’s estimated clean up costs at Nickelsville Highland Park (aka the “Glassyard Site”).
If you recall, Nickelsville was evicted by the Seattle City Council after being on that spot illegally for two and a half long, trashy years. The formal eviction date was September 1, 2013, but Nickelsville residents weren’t completely gone from there until about a week later, at which time the city had to come in, supervise garbage removal, and pay a private security company to keep people off the site.
Costs for that phase of the operation:
This lady’s been chillin’ at the intersection of Highland Park Way SW and West Marginal Way SW in Seattle:
It’s right where Nickelsville used to be. A world-class destination for panhandlers:
Would you like to know what her sign says? –Of course you would!
Mom and newborn baby. Please help. Continue reading
Three recent articles on SHARE’s Tent City 4 from the Seattle Times:
Wednesday, Jan. 15, 2014 ~ Sammamish OKs moratorium on homeless camps
This article is supposed to be about the City of Sammamish’s decision to impose a moratorium on tent cities, but it clearly reads like a puff piece. Discussion of the moratorium itself is limited to a single paragraph at the end, which contains no direct quotes from council members, but which summarizes the Sammamish City Council’s majority position as being that the city needs a breather so they can develop a permanent process for welcoming (!) homeless encampments. Continue reading
This page contains a discussion of a specific low-income housing provider business in Seattle. For the main page and introduction to this topic, see here: Homeless, Inc.
Below is an itemized and downloadable list of housing-related contracts between the City of Seattle’s Human Services Department (HSD) and Catholic Community Services of Western Washington (also known as Catholic Housing Services of Western Washington). These contracts were force services to be provided in 2013.
I gathered this material using a Public Disclosure Request.
Services Provided (page 10):
Meals and daytime shelter for 1,915 older men
Total HSD Budget (page 2): $118,618