In brief: A construction crane toppled over Saturday afternoon at the intersection of Mercer & Fairview, killing two crane operators and two motorists; today is the final day of the 2019 state legislative session, with legislators are expected to pass a final budget before the end of the day; and City Attorney Pete Holmes and King County Department of Public Defense Director Anita Khandelwal accused municipal judge Ed McKenna of violating judicial ethics.
Sunday, April 21st - Saturday, April 27th, 2019
Image from The Seattle Times / Angela Gottschalk
Last Week in Seattle
South Lake Union crane collapse:
  • One of the construction cranes that's been building the new Google office building at Mercer & Fairview in South Lake Union broke in half and fell onto the street below Saturday afternoon,after it was hit by a brief windstorm as it was in the process of being disassembled.
  • Four people were killed--two crane operators and two motorists whose cars were crushed--and four more motorists sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
  • The last fatal crane accident in the Seattle region occurred in 2006 in Bellevue; Mike Rosenberg at The Seattle Times looked at the history of crane accidents across the country, as well as the inspection and certification process that each the record-breaking number of cranes in Seattle has to go through before starting a job.
  • Mercer will be closed all day today as the scene is investigated and then cleared; a full investigation into the cause of the accident could take as long as 6 months
An accusation of judicial bias:
  • On Thursday, City Attorney Pete Holmes and lead public defender for King County Anita Khandelwal, who are opponents in the courtroom, sent a highly unusual joint public letter to Seattle Municipal Court Presiding Judge Ed McKenna questioning his impartiality, accusing him of ignoring their joint sentencing recommendations to make an example of a defendant late last year in front of a KOMO reporter who contributed to Seattle is Dying and a member of the virulently anti-homeless group Safe Seattle (who are currently the subject of the viral hashtag #SafeSeattleIsAHateGroup on Twitter), and asking him to step down from his leadership post at the municipal court.
  • KUOW's Sydney Brownstone and Amy Radil looked at the full transcript of a response McKenna gave at a Downtown Seattle Association breakfast panel (moderated by KIRO Radio host Dave Ross and also featuring erstwhile Holmes opponent and Seattle is Dying contributor Scott Lindsay) on April 19th, at which Holmes and Khandelwal say he implied that he ignores the counsel of defense attorneys where sentencing guidelines are concerned. 
  • For context, you can read the original account of the sentencing hearing by the KOMO reporter, Matt Markovich, here and watch his interview with Pete Holmes about the case here, and read the Safe Seattle activist's Facebook account of the sentencing here, all from late January. 
  • Both the KOMO reporter and the activist denied that they were personally invited by McKenna to witness the sentencing; Markovich says that he received a tip about it from a source outside the court, and the Safe Seattle activist says that McKenna put out a general invite for members of the public to attend a court hearing at a public meeting she was attending and this one just happened to work for her schedule. 
  • McKenna strongly denied the accusations in his own public letter responding to the claims by Holmes and Khandelwal, and said that he has no plans to step down as Presiding Judge for the municipal court.  
Boeing's continuing woes:
  • Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg continued to deny that any technical errors on the company's part were responsible for the recent crashes of two of its brand new planes, as the continuing grounding of all 737 MAXs in the world cost the company nearly $1 billion in the last three weeks and it publicly acknowledged that it's the subject of "lawsuits, investigations, and inquiries" stemming from the crashes. 
  • While the FAA expects to have the 737 MAX cleared to fly again by late May or early June, it's unclear if international regulators will follow their lead like they have in the past given concerns that lax FAA oversight of Boeing was a contributing factor in the recent crashes. 
  • The Stranger's Charles Mudede, meanwhile, pointed out that Boeing's quality control issues have come at the tail end of a period of a large-scale "transition to...value extraction, over value creation," most notably in the form of the company using tens of billions of dollars in profits and Trump tax cut revenue over the course of the last decade to buy back its own shares and artificially inflate the value of its stock while aggressively cutting costs and staff (including quality control staff) in order to maximize profits.
Homelessness and housing affordability:
  • Mayor Durkan withdrew her nomination of interim Human Services Department director Jason Johnson in the face of resistance from the City Council.
  • Vianna Davila at The Seattle Times looked at a King County program called Vital that provides repeat misdemeanor offenders who struggle with mental health issues and addiction with services and a support system in order to keep them out of jail and off the streets.   
  • And the medical director of Neighborcare's Homeless & Housing Programs wrote an op-ed for Crosscut in which he debunked the two central premises of Seattle is Dying; namely, that visible homelessness is synonymous with addiction, and that arresting everyone who's visibly homeless and suffering from addiction and incarcerating them on a prison island while forcibly administering methadone or other similar medications to them (which is literally the call to action that Seattle is Dying spends its hour-long running time leading up to) would cure their addiction and allow them to function normally in the world while also permanently solving our homelessness epidemic. It's amazing that an earnest call to lock up an entire population of Seattleites on a prison island would require any kind of rebuttal in 2019, but thanks to Seattle is Dying, it does.
Election Watch 2019:
  • The City Council picked erstwhile City Council candidate Abel Pacheco to serve out the remainder of Councilmember Rob Johnson's term, after Johnson resigned from his seat early and took a job working for the Seattle NHL ownership group. Pacheco had previously run for the District 4 seat in 2015, and had announced his intentions to do so again this year; he said after the appointment, though, that he won't be running for the permanent seat. 
  • The City Council also voted to put the renewed and enlarged 7-year library levy on the August primary ballot. 
  • In the District 3 City Council race, pot entrepreneur Logan Bowers applied to lift the democracy voucher program's fundraising cap after incumbent Kshama Sawant, who's not participating in the Democracy Voucher program, raised more than $75,000 (the cap allowed in the primary for candidates making use of the public funds), allowing her opponents to petition the City to be able to raise more themselves.
  • After Safe Seattle accused District 4 candidate Shaun Scott of campaign finance violations for asking for a "suggested democracy voucher donation" at a free campaign event, KUOW's Amy Radil reported that Scott had cleared it in advance with Seattle's Ethics and Elections Commission, which is fine with the practice.
  • Safe Seattle City Council District 2 candidate Ari Hoffman appeared on the Glenn Beck show to talk about Seattle is Dying, in which he features prominently.
  • The Stranger's Lester Black looked at the self-run King County Conservation District special election earlier this year, which only saw 4,000 people participate (voters had to go to a website and request to have a ballot mailed to their house).
  • And Rich Smith interviewed Governor Jay Inslee on a ferry about his long-shot presidential bid. 
Meanwhile, in Olympia:
Real Estate Corner
As part of its expansion plans across Lake Washington, Amazon bought a piece of prime Bellevue real estate across the street from the light rail station that's set to open there in 2023. 

The Seattle Times looked at the story of a West Seattle couple who were hit with a $26,000 water and sewer bill from Seattle Public Utilities following a major leak in the street (which they were responsible for because their water meter is over 100 feet from their house, and homeowners are responsible for any leaks between their water meter and their house)...which the utility ultimately ended up paying for in its entirety after the case got media attention. 

Meg van Huygen looked at the history of the iconic, 126-year-old Seven Seas Building (aka the Lusty Lady building).

The Urbanist opened nominations for 2019's Worst Intersection in Seattle

A Hunts Point mansion sold for $37.5 million, becoming the most expensive home sale in history for the Seattle region. 

Curbed Seattle featured another one of my listings (which is nowhere near $37.5 million; it's a co-op apartment on Capitol Hill). 

The Seattle Renters Commission asked the City Council to implement some form of rent control this year, something that's already a priority for Councilmember Kshama Sawant. 

And Sarah Anne Lloyd at Curbed Seattle looked at what $1,500/month will rent you right now across the city.
Thank you to everyone who's sent me a real estate referral or used me as an agent yourself! The city of Seattle is my geographic area of expertise, and while I'm also very good at helping sellers get top dollar for their homes, my true passion is helping first-time homebuyers get homes that they love quickly and easily.

f you need a residential real estate agent to help you buy or sell a home of any kind--or you know someone who does--I'd love to be of service. My website is here, or see here for client reviews. 
Quick Takes
A UW report showed that ICE has used King County International Airport (more commonly known as Boeing Field) to deport 34,400 people since 2010, and that the flights didn't stop after County Executive Dow Constantine vowed last year to put an end to them. In response, Constantine signed an executive order directing the airport to amend its future long-term leases with tenants to ensure that they abide by local regulations regarding "not cooperat[ing] or facilitat[ing] immigration enforcement directives unless accompanied by a court order." [Crosscut,]

At the request of the King County Council, Executive Constantine re-delivered his State of the County address in council chambers on Wednesday at a public meeting, after initially giving it at a private, invite-only event in Preston, WA (presumably to avoid a repeat of the disruption last year of his State of the County speech by No New Youth Jail protesters). [The Stranger]

The County Council voted to extend the life of the Cedar Hills Regional Landfill to 2040, which will require $270 million in upgrades to the facility. [Seattle Times]

There were three times as many reports of sexual misconduct on King County Metro buses in 2018 vs. 2017, in the wake of the #MeToo movement and a public campaign from various local authorities to get more people to report misconduct on buses. [Seattle Times]

Allison Williams wrote a feature story for Seattle Met on the disappearance of a solo hiker 9 months ago from a trail in the Cascades, and the extensive but fruitless efforts to find her since then. [Seattle Met]

Microsoft announced that it's doubling the voluntary carbon tax that it already "charges" itself, increasing it to $15/ton; and also that it plans to transition its data centers to 100% renewable energy in the next decade. [KUOW]

Through an act of Congress, Seattle's Nordic Museum is now the National Nordic Museum. [Seattle P-I]

Heidi Groover looked at Seattle's unique position relative to bike- and scooter-sharing programs among major American cities: we have a large dockless bike-sharing network, no scooter-sharing programs, and no docked bike-sharing network, all three of which are unusual for a city our size. [Seattle Times]

A federal judge in Eastern Washington blocked the Trump administration's anti-abortion Title X changes from taking effect. [KUOW]

Viaduct demolition is behind schedule, which is worrying waterfront businesses as the peak tourist season draws near. [Seattle Times

The tunnel contractors may lose a lawsuit attempting to get the state to pay for cost overruns after throwing away key pieces of evidence in the case. [KING 5]

And Patricia Murphy interviewed a retiring juvenile court judge about his ideas for reforming the youth criminal justice system in King County. [KUOW]
Upcoming events this week
5/1, 6:00 - 7:30 pm: Civic Cocktail: A discussion of Seattle is Dying

5/3 - 5/4: Crosscut Festival

5/4: Opening Day 2019 / 2019 Windermere Cup

5/4, 9:30 am - 3:30 pm: TEDxUW 2019

5/4 - 5/5, 11 am - 5 pm: Northwest Green Home Tour

Sol Villarreal
Broker, Windermere Real Estate
Sol's Civic Minute: What's happening in Seattle, in 60 seconds per week.
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