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A flag flies in front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C.

Truth over party: Today So Far

  • On Washington Republican exiting DC has some advice for her colleagues in Congress.
  • Solutions to affordable housing are going to be heavily discussed around Washington state in the legislative session ahead.

This post originally appeared in KUOW's Today So Far newsletter for December 14, 2022.

Before she leaves office, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler is offering some advice to her colleagues at the nation's Capitol. In short: Put the truth over your party.

"...the truth is somewhat the last thing people want to hear, especially if it doesn't fit their narrative. But that doesn't make it any less true and we don't do Americans any favors if we deceive them, or if we stand by quietly as they deceive themselves. Hardcore partisans on both sides will tell you that their party is blameless and the other party is the only one that engages in deception. But the truth is, there are people in both parties who have made an industry of it."

Herrera Beutler represents Southwest Washington's 3rd Congressional District.

The advice is notable as she was among a handful of Republicans who voted in favor of impeaching former President Trump. It was a move that led to her defeat in August's primary election. She was knocked out of consideration by MAGA Republican Joe Kent (who ultimately lost the election in November, though he has asked for a recount).

Check out Herrera Beutler's full statement here.

Politicians in Olympia are looking forward to 2023, and many aim to fix Washington's housing woes. There are a few points that lawmakers seem to be on board with, and therefore we can expect them to be pushed in the upcoming session. They include: Spending $1 billion more on affordable housing annually; removing bans on denser forms of housing; eliminating design review boards statewide for residential projects. Read more about what to expect here.

That second point — nixing design review boards — has also been a move gaining momentum in Seattle. As of this week, Seattle is temporarily halting the design review requirement for affordable housing projects. The requirement will be put on hold for a year while the City Council develops a new policy for these builds.

Many folks might not be familiar with the design review process. It looks over plans and makes sure they are up to par with land use codes and local regulations. Part of this process is also a city's defense against "ugly." For example, when someone goes into a quaint, small town and plants a neon offense in the middle of Main Street. Same thing happens in cities like Seattle. Usually, a design review board considers aesthetics, landscaping, etc. The public gets to weigh in, too. But all this adds a layer of permits, processes, and extra time. It's a heavy layer for affordable housing projects on tight budgets. That has run afoul of folks who want to find ways to speed up affordable housing and make such projects less expensive to build.

If you're like me, you're scratching your head, worried about developers coming around and beating Seattle with the ugly stick. Now, I'm no expert architect, but I have walked around Seattle quite a bit and have admired Smith Tower, the Arctic Building, the brick glory spread throughout neighborhoods like Pioneer Square or Ballard. Even odd buildings that make it work, like Rainier Tower or the Seattle Public Library.

If you're worried about new, unappealing construction (like me), well, you're too late. There's already a range of oddly painted big boxes with mixed-panel siding scattered throughout the city. We've already been using a design review process, and we've still ended up with whatever that is across from the Fred Meyer, or what's popping up around the U-District. It all prompts passersby to ask, "Is that an apartment or public storage?"

But reality check: Given the situation Seattle is in right now, perhaps the only question we can afford to ask is, "How can we get housing as fast as possible?"

AS SEEN ON KUOW

caption: The birthday tree in 2022
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The birthday tree in 2022
Credit: Photo courtesy of Noel Gasca

In a timely essay, Soundside producer Noel Gasca reflects on a special holiday tradition that has taken on new meaning in her adulthood: A birthday tree. (Courtesy of Noel Gasca)

DID YOU KNOW?

It's official: "Iron Man" is a national treasure.

The National Film Registry picks 25 films each year to add to its archives for posterity. This year's selections include 2008's "Iron Man" starring Robert Downey Jr. After years of disappointing movies drawn from comic books, Marvel opted to start its own studio and make its own movies. It was a gamble that paid off. Marvel has become a force in Hollywood, influencing the entire industry, showing that comic book stories are not as childish or cheesy as Hollywood previously treated them.

"Iron Man was the very first film Marvel Studios independently produced. It was the first film that we had all of the creative control and oversight on and was really make or break for the studio .... to have it join the Film Registry tells us it has stood the test of time and that it is still meaningful to audiences around the world," said Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige.

Other films selected this year include: "When Harry Met Sally," "The Little Mermaid," "Super Fly," "House Party," and "Hairspray."

ALSO ON OUR MINDS

caption: The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial is in Newtown, Connecticut, On Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The names of the 20 first graders and six educators killed a short distance away at Sandy Hook Elementary School 10 years ago are engraved in concrete around a memorial pool with a sycamore tree in the middle.
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The Sandy Hook Permanent Memorial is in Newtown, Connecticut, On Monday, Dec. 5, 2022. The names of the 20 first graders and six educators killed a short distance away at Sandy Hook Elementary School 10 years ago are engraved in concrete around a memorial pool with a sycamore tree in the middle.
Credit: AP Photo/Ted Shaffrey

10 years after Sandy Hook, there is hope for a brighter future

Wednesday marks 10 years since the senseless massacre of 20 first-graders and their six teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. A decade later, the gun-violence prevention movement has never been bigger.

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