Friday morning's headlines

Jan 7, 2011

Making headlines today:

  • Gov's ferry proposal draws fire
  • Red light cameras in the hot seat
  • A bottlenose dolphin spotted in south Sound

The governor's plan to get the state out of the ferry business is being met with mixed reactions today. Gregoire announced Thursday her idea of creating a self-governing regional ferry district. It would be run by the nine counties currently served by state ferries.

The Kitsap Sun's Brynn Grimley reports local leaders' reactions range from skepticism to opposition:

“Fundamentally what we have here is an avoidance by the state of Washington,” Poulsbo Mayor Becky Erickson said. “Ferries are part of the state highway system, they should be financed like we finance state roads.”

Ferry commuters were mostly negative as well, worrying the plan would only increase taxes. Similar reaction is coming from Gregoire's fellow Democratic lawmakers, according to The Seattle Times' Jonathan Martin and Susan Gilmore:

Five Democratic senators, including Transportation Committee Chairwoman Mary Margaret Haugen, signed a letter attacking the plan for adding to government. "Every time there's a problem out there, we go create another district," Haugen, D-Camano Island, said in an interview.

County leaders told the Times the plan is a no-go. Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon says the ferry system is an extension of the state highway system, and is the state's responsibility. King County Councilman Pete von Reichbauer says the idea is "a Trojan horse," and comes at a time when the county is having to lay off cops due to budget woes.

The governor's ferry district plan does not yet have a legislator to sponsor it. Legislators convene in session next week.


Spotlight on Red Light Cameras 

Should voters have more say when cities decide to install red light cameras? Enumclaw legislator Chris Hurst thinks so. The former police detective will hold a press conference today to talk about his plan to give voters final say. Hurst believes the cameras are too hastily used as municipal money makers.

Jordan Schrader of the News Tribune reports:

Requiring voter approval would make it harder for more cities to join the list of those using photo enforcement – which already includes Lacey, Auburn, Lakewood, Puyallup, Federal Way, Fife and Tacoma. Cities have embraced photo-enforcement as a way to enhance safety, but critics say it’s more about enhancing municipal budgets.

Tacoma lawmaker Connie Ladenburg says a public vote on every red light camera is micro-managing. She supports the idea of setting state standards for how tickets are determined. That bill has the backing of the Tacoma City Council, according to the Trib.


Rare Visitor in Puget Sound

A bottlenose dolphin has been spotted in Olympia's Budd Inlet. Cascadia Research took photos of the dolphin on Thursday. According to KING-TV, Cascadia's team doesn't believe the bottlenose is injured, only lost. 

Tropical dolphins have strayed into Puget Sound before -- one was spotted last year, and one back in 1988. But both of those animals died.

Cascadia's website reports the Budd Inlet sightings are only the most recent of many. Reports from people saying they'd seen the dolphin have been coming in since last month.

Most recent sightings have been in Budd Inlet where the animal was sighted multiple times from 2-6 January 2011. Sightings occurred in the Redondo Beach area before that in late December and in and around the Port of Tacoma in mid December. 

NOAA Fisheries is working with Cascadia Research to keep tabs of the animal's location and condition. You're asked to report to them if you see it, by calling 360-943-7325, or toll-free at 800-747-7329.

This video of bottlenose dolphins playing alongside a boat was shot in New Zealand a couple of years ago. Don't you wish you could swim so well?