Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Could I Do Any Worse?---The Seattle August Primary Season Is Approaching

As more than 20 mayoral candidates line up at the primary starting gate, only two will make it to the general election, meaning your vote in the upcoming primary election is essential because we are past the point where we need a true taxi advocate in the mayor's seat.  While outgoing Mayor Ed Murray has, overall, been a decent mayor, rating a C grade from me, he was a complete disaster in how he dismembered our local taxi industry and promoted TNC/Ride-share companies like Uber and Lyft over our needs and interests.

That he, like so many municipal and county administrators, by simply not comprehending in any real way the menace posed by the monster Uber, miserably failed both the American taxi industry and similar taxi-like services and their  passengers and customers, thus creating a situation seeking uncertain resolution toward a problem not of our own making.  When considering your mayoral choice, please consider if that particular candidate will be at best neutral in their overall policy decisions, and not making things worse, as the past five Seattle mayors, Rice, Schell, Nickells, McGinn and Murray have, comprising a 27 year long span of at best mediocre, and at the worse, complete incompetence---the WTO and Pioneer Square Mardi Gras  riots and the giving away of an invaluable NBA franchise heading the sorriest examples of an abysmal list.

Public policy should not, and I repeat, should not be some conflated version of "pin-the-tail-upon-the donkey" because too often the administrators involved end up looking like the proverbial "horses' ass," with the voting public kicked squarely in the buttock.  While slapstick comedy worked quite well for the Three Stooges, the Marx Brothers and Laurel & Hardy, public and governmental policy is neither a movie script nor comedic routine.  While trying to find a serious candidate who understands this obvious point will be difficult to locate, still, despite the low odds, we must continue attempting to both find that correct candidate and keep communicating our thoughts and political aspirations.

Already there are two mayoral front runners: former United States Attorney Jenny Durkan and former mayor Mike McGinn.  The big money is pouring in for Durkan,  ensuring she will reach the general election.  The second slot is more uncertain, with McGinn being penciled in due to his familiarity with the voters.

While McGinn is clearly a nice guy, he is the mayor whose bike-lane polices have clogged the already un-drivable streets, McGinn somehow not noticing that Seattle now has 200,000 more permanent residents, translating into at least a 40-50 percent increase in citywide car ownership. Where are we going to put all these cars when lanes have been eliminated and on-street parking greatly reduced?  

If interested in viewing his handiwork, trundle down to the east-bound Pike Street at First Avenue and see for yourself McGinn's failed version, how the heavy traffic is now funneled down one narrow lane.  Just as the pin-the tail game is played with a blindfold on,  that is good description of McGinn's governing style, closing his eyes and hoping for the best.  Unfortunately, for those of us who can see beyond our nose, remain appalled at the results, McGinn destroying reasonable traffic assess at one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations.

Again, if this were comedy, it would be funny.  But since it is governmental policy it is farcical. Something called the INRIX Parking Ranking announced today that Seattle is the fifth hardest city in the entire country to find a parking space, saying the average Seattle-lite spends 58 hours per year looking for available parking.  If you find that to your liking, then do vote for McGinn because he is the individual who eliminated miles of on-street parking.

And if you are curious, there are over 35,000 recognized American cities and towns, meaning a fifth overall ranking means you have truly screwed up, a kind of reversed efficiency.  I personally at  this point have no one to recommend but remember the name of Washington State Senator Bob Hasegawa because he might be the one candidate who is not sold out to special interests.

The reason I entitled this week's posting the way I did is because I know, beyond any doubt, that the majority of folks managing the City of Seattle, are clueless, and dangerously clueless at that.  This point was reinforced Monday when I took a passenger from the train station to the 2300 hundred block of1st Avenue.  Given the amazing congestion now clogging both directions north and south-bound on 1st, I chose to take north-bound (its one-way) 4th, turning left (or west-bound) to access that part of 1st Avenue.

Five years ago this would have been an easy task but no longer because those idiots in Seattle City government decided to transform the arterial Bell into a glorified park, restricting access and the ability to turn both left and right. Avoiding that mess and a myriad of potential  moving violations I picked Wall Street to turn west but even that wasn't the best choice due to the no-left turn sign posted at 1st and Wall.

Even what would be the final choice, Clay Street, doesn't work either since it now closed  west-bound due to construction at 3rd.  The only legal option left then is to go 6 blocks out of your way and turn left onto Broad Street off of 3rd Avenue.  I would wager any amount you suggest that NOT ONE INDIVIDUAL in the entire Seattle City government knows they have created this kind of complication for what used to be a very simple matter.

The best thing about this particular fare is that the old soldier told me that the US Army in 1955 were taking him somewhere downtown Seattle when he saw a red convertible being chased by a motorcycle cop who suddenly flipped into the air after colliding with a seat cushion tossed out of the car.  Now that was when Seattle was a real rough and tough city, and not the wimpish suburban center is has now become.  Could you imagine anyone in Seattle now disobeying the good officer?  No, neither can I.

And do I want to be mayor of Seattle?  No, but if I were you can bet I might understand just a little bit better the real down-to-earth issues facing the Emerald City.   Instead I would rather run for Congress in Toledo, Ohio, representing the honesty of a rough and tumble, Rust-Belt City.  Both of my grandfathers worked in the local factories there, supporting as well as they could their large families.

Back then life was more black and white sans the grayer areas now known as excuse and obfuscation. In the other words, my grandparents lived in the good old (and bad) days when corruption was shoved in your face minus pretense.  Back then, you knew exactly what they were thinking and doing to you, which is quite unlike today when simultaneously government says "I love you" while cutting your throat with high property taxes and of course, no parking spaces for the car whose licensing just cost you a King's random.  Just be glad you will have access to better public transportation in 2022!  Isn't that great!

Postscript Wed July 13th, 2017

Today's Seattle Times On-line edition has a very helpful guide to all 21 mayoral candidates.  I encourage everyone to check it out.










Thursday, July 6, 2017

She Scared Me! & Other Small Horror Stories

What I find so successful about Edgar Allen Poe's stories and poems is how they often capture human personality as it truly is, Poe of course presenting our more confused, distorted and sinister sides---accurate psychological profiles years before Freud and the advent of modern psychiatry.   While debate continues about just what motivates human behavior, there is one, unavoidable truth:  as a fellow homo-sapien you are surely going to be affected by what another member of the species does, whether or not you want it to,  or like it,  because it is going to happen.  And of course taxi is all about human interaction, voluntary or not, you instantaneously receiving a concise introduction to who just entered your cab, the invitation reading: welcome (or not) to my world and all my assorted pluses and minuses and personality-based bugaboos.  The inspiration for this brief preamble was a police call in the Fremont ushering forward a very drunk woman concealing herself behind a car:

"Get me out of here," she exclaimed, "it is all too crazy!" And so I took her home to an address almost parallel to where I found her, an address on the other of the canal located on the northern face of Queen Anne Hill.  Taking three minutes to get her there, she announced that her husband would be paying the almost seven dollar fare.  "I know he won't be happy with me," she commented, "we are just two days away from our first wedding anniversary."

Understanding her state of intoxication I waited at the open door while she looked for the money, asking her husband, also sounding drunk and hidden from view, where his wallet was.  After taking a couple minutes she reappeared with a five-dollar bill prompting me to say, "That's fine, it's enough." which elicited a spreading of her arms into a wide U, signaling she was about to embrace me in a passionate "bear hug." Scaring the "hell-out-of-me" I swiftly avoided her octopus arms and escaped back to 1092, wanting no part of what she was offering.  And there was her husband, sitting a mere four feet away!  Heaven help us all is my best comment upon the subject.  And good luck too because they are going to need it but perhaps not as much as four-year old Andrew who is clearly involved in a living hell not of his making.

Andrew

My newest book, the nearly completed "To Age 13," is all about a child, me, who is repeatedly victimized by less-than-aware parents, which is why Andrew's situation for me is all the more poignant, understanding too well his personal dilemma.  His father seems okay but his mother is entirely another story.  I will never forget Andrew's anguished face.  It is not funny.

I picked up Andrew and his father at the train station, both of them having just come up from Portland, Oregon, their destination an address in the Magnolia neighborhood.  The two of them kept up a rousing dialog, Andrew clearly a bright and aware child.  All seemed normal until the father told me we were heading for Andrew's mother's apartment building, where he had left his car.  Suddenly comprehending the situation, we actually passed the mother walking with her new boyfriend.

Stopping, it turned out that Andrew would remain with his father for the afternoon while the mother wanted me to take her and the boyfriend over to a Ballard pot shop.  Witnessing various interactions between all concerned is when I saw poor Andrew's pained face.  I didn't want to see his intense suffering but I saw it and will never forget, his face a permanent photograph in gallery of my mind''s eye.  All I can hope is that Andrew's young wisdom is somehow transferred to his adult self.  Best wishes, my young friend!

More Uber

Post- 4th July fireworks the passengers at Queen Anne's Kerry Park wanted to go to either North Everett or 130th & Greenwood Ave North.  Most recently Uber riders, they were avoiding the Uber surge by taking a cab, the Uber surge rate to their Everett address being $188.00, greatly surpassing my estimate of $95-100 dollars.  My meter to their Greenwood condo was $26.00, which got me a nine dollar tip on top.  What was Uber asking for the same ride?  $66.00.

Postscript Thursday 5:30 PM---They didn't get me but got my money instead!


Today I stayed in Seattle so I could attend my moving violation court date where I was represented by Doug Silva.  Doug negotiated a deal where I pleaded guilty to to non-moving violation and in return receiving a reduced fine and nothing on my driving record.  Though it cost me, including Doug's fee, a total of $275.00, it would have cost me much more in increased insurance costs if I had been found guilty of not obeying a traffic devise.  I did enjoy my post-courtroom conversation with Doug, someone I have now known for nearly 20 years.  Thanks Doug!  And what a crazy world it is!