A slow moving landslide and a quick arriving mayoral election, this week
Bill Radke reviews the week's news with Crosscut Eastern Washington reporter Mai Hoang, The Stranger editor Chase Burns, and political analyst and contributing columnist Joni Balter.
With regional elections just a few weeks away, political advertisements and campaign spending are ramping up. And so are debates. Last week we discussed a recent (independent) ad claiming Bruce Harrell accepted a sizable chunk of money from a leading local Trump funder. Essential Workers for Lorena -- which is funded by several workers unions -- has so far spent a reported $380,000 on Harrell attack ads. In contrast, Harrell has seen major donations from a number of major real estate executives, and Bruce Harrell for Seattle’s Future reported spending $20,000 on newspaper ads throughout a variety of local papers. Both candidates have heavily emphasized their upbringings throughout their messaging. On Thursday candidates Bruce Harrell and Lorena Gonzalez took to the stage for the second Seattle mayoral debate, this time focused on the economy. Between campaign spending and the debates, what have we learned about these two mayoral candidates?
Plus, it's safe to say downtown Seattle will not look the same post-pandemic as it did pre-pandemic. There's new construction and entertainment options, like the home of The Seattle Kraken, Climate Pledge Arena, or the newly remodeled monorail station. There's also likely to be less employees downtown post-pandemic: this week Amazon announced that they will allow many of their employees to work from home indefinitely. And with 60,000 Amazon workers based in South Lake Union, businesses are worried what impact that will have on the area. With so much change coming to the region, what does the future of downtown Seattle look like?
On the Eastern Washington front: since 2017, a landslide on Rattlesnake Ridge in Yakima County has been on the move. Measurements in August showed that the pace of the landslide has slowed from 2020, moving from 2-3 inches a week to less than 2 inches a week today. Around 60 people live near the slide, which has county emergency management concerned. Although the pace of the slide is rather leisurely, the pile has the potential to rapidly cascade down, which has led residents to periodically evacuate in preparation. Researcher Stephen Reidel from Washington State University has one word to describe the landslide: “constipated.” What do you do in the face of a (very) slow moving potential disaster?
In COVID news, Seattle is set to open a COVID vaccine hub downtown and restart its mobile vaccine clinics. This is to account for the rollout of COVID booster shots, which are beginning to be approved for public use. And messaging remains an especially critical aspect of the COVID vaccine rollout. In Eastern Washington, debates over pandemic restrictions are center stage in this year’s elections. Mandates are of particular focus, with candidates touting the importance and efficacy of vaccination, while also pushing for individual freedoms against broad mandates. What are the city and state doing to assuage vaccine concerns, and make sure the booster shot rollout goes smoothly?
Finally, it’s hops season here in the Pacific Northwest. In Seattle, that means that when you go to a local brewery you might be able to see some fresh hops placed out on display, or try some freshly brewed pumpkin beer. And you can be pretty sure that most, if not all, of that brewery’s hops will be local -- according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, as of June Washington had 71% of the more than 60,000 acres of hops planted in the U.S. Nearly all of that acreage is in the Yakima Valley which, like most of Washington, spent this summer dealing with wildfires, unprecedented heat waves, and a shifting climate. And it's not just hops -- apple farmers and wineries are facing similar issues. How are these industries dealing with changing climate conditions?