Statehouse incumbents appear to be headed for re-election

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 9:20 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

Incumbents in the race to represent Issaquah in Olympia — Republicans Glenn Anderson and Jay Rodne, and Democrat Judy Clibborn — pulled far ahead of opponents in initial election results released Tuesday night.

The representatives trounced little known or under-funded candidates to cruise to re-election.

Meanwhile, Democrat Marcie Maxwell appeared to be locked into a close contest against Republican Peter Dunbar to retain the state House of Representatives seat she clinched in 2008. The same scenario appeared to be the case for Democrat Randy Gordon and Republican Steve Litzow in a state Senate bout.

The measure to increase the King County sales tax rate to pay for criminal justice services trailed in early returns and a state liquor-privatization measure backed by Issaquah-based Costco lagged.

Republican Dino Rossi, a Sammamish resident and former Issaquah state senator, remained locked in a tight race against incumbent U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, Democrat in a close fight for a fourth term.

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County reports strong voter turnout at Accessible Voting Centers

November 2, 2010

UPDATED — 7:40 p.m. Nov. 2, 2010

King County Elections officials said a large number of last-minute voters turned out at the Accessible Voting Centers, leading to longer lines and wait times.

The office has recommended for people to arrive at the Accessible Voting Centers as soon as possible and prepare for long lines. The centers close at 8 p.m., but the elections office is required to serve anyone in line by then.

The closest center to Issaquah is located at Bellevue City Hall, 450 110th Ave. N.E. Find a complete list of the centers here.

For voters unable to reach a drop box or voting center, the Riverton Heights Post Office in SeaTac, 15250 32nd Ave. S., is collecting mail until 11:45 p.m.

Ballots must be postmarked Nov. 2 or returned to a ballot drop box by 8 p.m. The office has a drop box at Issaquah City Hall, 130 E. Sunset Way.

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Former President Jimmy Carter greets Issaquah fans

November 2, 2010

Former President Jimmy Carter takes a break from signing copies of 'White House Diary' at the Issaquah Costco Oct. 27. By Greg Farrar

Costco event attracts almost 1,000 people

In Issaquah, more than 30 years after President Jimmy Carter delivered the so-called malaise speech, the former president finally uttered the word.

Carter — during a break from a packed Oct. 27 book signing at the local Costco — said a lack of national confidence set the stage for a Washington outsider to run for president in 1976.

“There was a lot of dissatisfaction back in those days with the government and with incumbents in office,” he said. “I really capitalized on that, there’s no doubt about that. Because we had had the Watergate scandal, we had had the Vietnam disgrace, we had had the Kennedy brothers assassinated and Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, so there was just a general malaise about what was going on in Washington.”

The scene at Costco carried flickers of the enthusiasm Carter inspired among the electorate a generation ago.

The former president, 86, attracted almost 1,000 people to the Issaquah stop on a tour to promote “White House Diary” — a frank account of the single term he spent in the White House from 1977-81.

Carter — encircled by a retinue of aides, Secret Service agents and Costco employees — strolled through the cavernous store just before noon to a table cordoned behind velvet ropes near jewelry cases and cookware displays.

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Issaquah braces for rain-soaked winter, creek floods

November 2, 2010

City completed projects to reduce risk since last flood

Mike Crossley (yellow vest) works in the HAM radio communication station during a Community Emergency Response Team flood drill. By Autumn Monahan

January rain turned placid Issaquah Creek into a debris-filled torrent in early 2009 — and emergency planners hope fresh memories of the flood prompt residents to prepare for the rain-soaked winter on the horizon.

Long before fall rain blanketed the area, Issaquah and King County emergency planners had prepared to respond to Issaquah Creek flooding.

Meteorologists predict La Niña conditions — colder-than-normal temperatures and greater-than-normal rain- and snowfall — in the months ahead. The combination has emergency planners concerned about rain-gorged Issaquah Creek and the potential for disaster.

“If you look at Issaquah Creek now, you think, ‘Oh, that’s a nice, pretty little creek.’ It can turn into a roaring monster pretty quick,” Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director, said last week.

The city has completed a series of flood-control projects in the 21 months since the most recent flood, including a high-profile floodplain restoration effort at Squak Valley Park North.

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La Niña prepares to soak Pacific Northwest

November 2, 2010

The extended forecast calls for La Niña.

La Niña means unusually cold temperatures in the Pacific Ocean near South America — and colder-than-normal temperatures and greater-than-normal rain- and snowfall in Western Washington.

Ni Cushmeer, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Seattle, said residents should expect “classic La Niña” conditions to start in November. The combination of soggy conditions and cold temperatures has emergency planners concerned about floods and snowfall.

“As we go into a La Niña weather pattern, we expect that we’re probably going to have more rain than usual from October to December, it’s going to be colder than normal from January to March and we’re also going to see an increased precipitation potential in those months of January to March,” King County Emergency Management Director Hillman Mitchell said. “Throughout the whole winter, we’re looking at a wetter pattern and a colder pattern toward the latter part of the winter.”

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Planning for worst-case scenario is business as usual for emergency director

November 2, 2010

King County faces risks from earthquakes, floods, terrorism, volcanic eruptions and more than a dozen other threats.

For Hillman Mitchell, director of the King County Office of Emergency Management, planning for a worst-case scenario is business as usual. The longtime emergency planner and Sammamish resident settled into the role Aug. 3 after a stint as the emergency management coordinator in Tukwila.

Mitchell served in the South King County city as the region braced for a destructive Green River flood exacerbated by the storm-damaged Howard Hanson Dam. Though the flood did not occur, the effort — and a candid assessment of potential damage across the region — earned Mitchell respect from leaders in other cities.

“Obviously, the Green River planning activity really brought together a lot of those collaborative and cooperative opportunities to look at how we respond, not just from a city’s perspective, but as we respond to disasters that don’t respect political boundaries,” he said.

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King County highlights flooding alert program

November 2, 2010

King County launched the countywide Flood Warning Program in 1960. In the decades since, the program has provided automated flood alerts and river level information to residents. The system operates continuously during a flood. Flood Warning Program employees also monitor river levels on site during flood events.

King County Council members highlighted the program Nov. 1 for a half-century of protecting residents during floods.

The program is part of the county Flood Control District. Staffers from the county Water and Land Resources Division run the program.

“New technology has improved the speed and accuracy of receiving and distributing flooding data, and demonstrates the value of maintaining this system,” County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert, the Issaquah-area representative, said in a statement. “This information system allows citizens, businesses and public agencies to make critical safety and economic decisions, such as sand-bagging or evacuation, during flood events.”

Plan recommends tall buildings in Central Issaquah

November 2, 2010

City task force re-envisions 915-acre business district

Issaquah in the decades ahead could be punctuated by tall buildings — some as high as 150 feet — and arranged around a greenbelt and pedestrian paths.

The suggestion from the Central Issaquah Plan Advisory Task Force is included in a proposal for the 915-acre area straddling Interstate 90 from the far edge of the city to Northeast Gilman Boulevard. The group has offered a bold plan to transform acre upon acre of strip malls and parking lots into dense neighborhoods bordered by parks and linked by mass transit.

The city rolled out the proposal Oct. 27, after the task force logged almost 1,000 hours across 13 months to prepare the plan. If the city decides to implement the plan, any results could be decades distant.

The plan re-envisions Central Issaquah as a blend of businesses and residences ringed by a “green necklace” of parks and trails. The task force studied redevelopment efforts in nearby cities for inspiration, but members said the result is tailored to Issaquah.

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City invites Broadstripe customers to hearing

November 2, 2010

Officials plan to update the agreement between the city and cable provider Broadstripe in the months ahead, and city leaders plan to gather input next week from Broadstripe customers.

“We want to hear from the citizens — the people that are being served by Broadstripe — and hear what their concerns are regarding customer service, quality of signal, those types of things,” city TV Coordinator Tim Smith said.

Many customers claim Broadstripe services do not compare to Comcast in response to outages, video-on-demand services and other offerings, Smith added.

Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee members planned a Nov. 9 hearing to listen to Broadstripe customers’ concerns. The cable provider serves mostly multifamily residences in the Issaquah Highlands, Providence Pointe and the Kelkari condominiums near downtown Issaquah.

The committee serves as the liaison between the full City Council and the city Cable TV Commission. The commission advises the council on telecommunications issues.

The negotiations could be complicated because Dallas-based Broadstripe is in the midst of a reorganization after the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in early 2009.

The proposal is the latest cable agreement to reach city leaders.

The council members OK’d a revised Comcast agreement in September. Comcast is the predominant cable provider in Issaquah.

The pact prompted grumbling from council members, because the agreement allowed the cable provider to raise prices and removed many of the provisions the city had in place to maintain some of the best cable prices in the state.

Get involved

Council Utilities, Technology & Environment Committee

  • Agenda: Broadstripe public hearing
  • 5:30 p.m. Nov. 9
  • Baxter Room
  • City Hall Northwest
  • 1775 12th Avenue N.W.

Warren Kagarise: 392-6434, ext. 234, or wkagarise@isspress.com. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.

King County approves boundary change critical to Park Pointe preservation

November 2, 2010

Park Pointe transfer of development rights

King County has adjusted the area for urban growth in the Issaquah Highlands, as part of the long-running effort to preserve about 140 forested acres.

In a unanimous decision, King County Council members added 35 acres near Central Park to the urban area open to dense development. The council adopted the change to the countywide growth blueprint, or Comprehensive Plan, Oct. 18.

The decision is part of a push led by Issaquah officials to preserve 102 acres at the Park Pointe site on Tiger Mountain, plus a rural parcel adjacent to the highlands.

The deal, a complicated transfer of development rights, aims to set aside about 140 acres — the Park Pointe land near Issaquah High School and another 43 acres adjacent to the highlands.

Port Blakely Communities, the developer responsible for the highlands, owns 78 acres in unincorporated King County near Central Park. The proposed transfer calls for Port Blakely to preserve 43 acres and open the remaining 35 acres — the land addressed in the Comprehensive Plan change — to construction.

Issaquah Mayor Ava Frisinger said the boundary decision represented a milestone in the effort to preserve Park Pointe and add density to the highlands.

“It was very, very important that it be done,” she said. “Otherwise, the ability to have the whole TDR transaction take place would have been in jeopardy.”

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