“Amgen’s exit a new blow for Seattle biotech industry”

Amgen’s exit a new blow for Seattle biotech industry | Business & Technology | The Seattle Times.

Seattle’s biotech sector has been in free fall for a decade, unfortunately.

The problem, obviously, is they never built a heated pedestrian/bike bridge! The Spokesman-Review assured us the essential requirement for a local biotech sector is the heated ped/bike bridge (really): Spokane’s biomedical economy will collapse without the heated ped/bike bridge

Seriously, if Seattle cannot retain its biotech industry, the likelihood of a huge biotech sector in Spokane is low. With or without heated pedestrian/bike bridges.



Seattle Times: State does not need a WSU Spokane med school

Now, as Washington State University tries to gain statewide support to build a new medical school in Spokane, some regional and national experts say there’s no longer a pressing national need for another one.

State might not need a WSU medical school, some experts say | Local News | The Seattle Times.

A lot of this is about market control. The UW, which has failed to provide adequate med school slots in the state, does not want WSU as a competitor in Spokane and would prefer to go down the WWAMI route of having med school students rotate through various locations. The UW argues its brand reputation is stellar and will attract top students while a first year start up med school run by WSU would start, on day one, with the lowest reputation of all med schools nationally.

WSU-Spokane argues that a med school is needed in eastern Washington to ensure doctors in rural areas even though there is no evidence this solves the root problem: pay is lower in small towns, which does not work for young doctors paying off med school debts, and the lifestyle may not be what young doctors are seeking.

Only a few years ago local Spokane promoters convinced us that a Spokane med school was essentially a done deal and would be opening shortly. Now its pushed out another decade or more (UPDATE: Should be accepting students in about 2017-2018 assuming all goes to plan – this is good news. Meanwhile, the UW has partnered with Gonzaga University on future medical student training in Spokane. There is zero justification for Spokane to have two medical schools –  but one makes sense.)

Our past posts on the Spokane med school including the outrageous lies told about the alleged economic impact of a Spokane med school. In Spokane, people just cannot stop lying. I have never seen a community where lying is conducted so openly and passionately.

Spokane trolley cost estimates double

It was $36 million as recently as months ago: STA Votes To Approve Electric Trolley | News – KXLY.com.

Now its $72 million: STA considers $72 million trolley from Browne’s Addition to SCC

(Both KREM TV and the Spokesman-Review fail to mention the price doubling. Censoring the project history is bad journalism – or good fiction writing. )

Next year: $96 million? How about $129 million?

They are considering options that raise the price to $129 million for a system that is no better than a bus except its cooler. There is, in fact, no reason provided for this extraordinary expenditure except it has the cool factor.

As shown in many studies “there’s no clear evidence trolleys bring growth but it’s clear they’re expensive.”

What are the objective measures of success of this project?

There are none.

The only measure of success is they spend money, which is an easy target to reach! Indeed, with each passing month they keep increasing the price tag!  Spending Federal money is the only goal for this project.

Objective measures would set goals for:

  • Total passengers per day
  • Average passengers per trolley trip
  • Revenue earned per trip and per day
  • Operation costs per passenger per mile
  • Energy used per passenger per mile
  • Specific, measurable economic growth metrics

And management would be held accountable.  But lacking objective measures and that no one at STA management is ever held accountable, they’ll squander money once more. Remember their hybrid bus project that wasted money? All of the information needed to know that hybrids were a waste was available in advance. After the STA wasted the money, no one was held accountable.

The STA has not come up with a single meaningful reason for spending up to $129 million other than its “cool” and the Federal government would pay 80% of the costs. They will make absurd promises, just like the Convention Center expansion campaign lies about creating more jobs and visitors – when actual use of the PFD facilities has gone down during the past 15  years, jobs have gone down, and there is no evidence of an increase in visitors.

Meanwhile, the STA Plaza remodel is on hold after six years of planning – because the downtown business cartel did not approve. After six years of public involvement it now comes down to secret deal making between the business cartel and STA management. Update: It appears the downtown cartel will get its wish – at great taxpayer expense and rider inconvenience, the STA plaza will probably be moved out of downtown, throwing the STA system in to planning chaos (the STA plaza is THE central hub of the system). Second Update: A couple of sources say that original – linked – report that the STA Plaza might be moved was based on poor reporting and its not going to happen.

The evidence that downtown trolley’s create economic growth is nil but they are the rage for mid-sized cities all over the country since the Feds offered grant money. Mostly they shift local money to those who will benefit (downtown businesses) and away from other local businesses that are not so well connected.

  • Proponents must come up with compelling, fact-based arguments for the trolley. “Cool factor” and “spending Federal money” do not cut it.
  • Proponents must develop a set of objective measures of project success.
  • Spokane’s news media must perform actual journalism in spite of their conflicts of interest (instead we are already seeing the puffy propaganda)
  • Local political leaders must ensure that the STA management is held accountable to specific, measurable objectives.

If these steps are not taken, this is just another feel good project designed to funnel other people’s tax money into the downtown business cartel, leaving most of Spokane worse off, in the long run.

Spokane Airport Passenger trend update

There has been a nice increase in passengers year-over-year during the first part of 2014.  Alaska and Delta have announced additional flights starting next year.

2014 is currently running +1.55% over 2013. This change is too small to see in the chart, however but it is a real change. It is good to see these positive developments.

June2014AirportHere is the trend in month over month changes. As you can see, the year started out with strong year over year growth, but the month-over-month increases declined as the year went on. June is up by +1.55% but not shown in the table below.

Current passenger usage is about -9% below 1996 and -14% below 2007 – it will take many years of continuous passenger growth to return to those levels.

Alaska and Delta have announced more flights starting in 2015 which means they expect to see growth in passengers through SIA. If that new growth continues, this could eventually reverse the long term slightly downward trend in place since 1996.

Spokane County Employment and Unemployment for June


The Washington Employment Security Department has released their employment and unemployment estimates for June 2014. The estimate of non-farm employed has risen to 217,900. This is generally in line with the expected progression for Spokane County.

(See correction, below – there is no problem here –>) Oddly, the chart curve at left is different than what is shown in the data table. In June of 2013 there were 216,200 people, and this rose to 217,900 on June 2014.  Look at the horizontal red line added to the chart at left – the 2014 peak is shown as less than a year ago. The chart does not agree with the data table. Something is wrong here and the State needs to fix it or explain what is happening.



Correction: The problem is the X-Axis does not have month tics which led to the confusion. The peak in 2013 was in November, not mid-year. Spokane has an employment pattern that peaks twice then collapses on January 1st. The chart is correct but confusing when paired with the table. The table will likely show employment at about 220,00o in November of this year and 220,000+ at November of 2015.

The unemployment rate is the percent of those “in the labor force” age 16-64, that are looking for work but are not yet employed.



The unemployment rate has gone down for two reasons: (1) more people are estimated to be employed, and (2) the size of the labor force is smaller.

Each of those values is an estimate and the short term (monthly) estimates can vary due to the confidence of the estimate.

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics says the 90% confidence interval for the national employment estimates is + or – 0.2%. That means there is a 9 in 10 chance the actual employment number lies within + or – 0.2% of what they publish as the official estimate. The estimate is not exact because they survey only a sample of the population – consequently, the estimate will be off by a bit from the actual number (which we would only know if we could survey every single person in the country).

The State of Washington uses a subset of their national survey but does not appear to provide a confidence interval (they might but it was not immediately located).

Washington’s web site for the American Community Survey (derived from US Census, not BLS), for Spokane County in 2012, has an estimate of about 210,130 employed with a confidence interval of + or – 1.1%. That is a different survey and cannot be directly compared with the ESD numbers from the US BLS. But … it helps us understand that the unemployment estimate is just an estimate with an associated but not disclosed confidence interval.

We would be better served with numbers such as May 2014: 6.6% + or – 0.2% (we don’t know that 0.2% if the right value – this is for an example only) and June is 5.6% + or – 0.2%. That means for May, hypothetically, the actual unemployment percentile could be anywhere in the range 6.4 to 6.8% and for June 5.4 to 5.8%. If the confidence interval is larger, then the range is going to be larger too.

Spokane and CDA area dogs seek “Suicide by cop”

After the recent police shooting of an innocent dog in Couer d’Alene, the script started out according to plan.

First, they impugned the reputation of the deceased. They labeled him a “vicious pit bull” that was  armed with paws and teeth and was apparently seeking to commit “suicide by cop”. The word “vicious” is an obvious code word for “mentally ill” and “excited delirium”, a  medical condition that exists solely when dogs or people interact with the police.

Of course, the victim was actually a 2 year old black lab. Oops. And the bullet hole went through the glass of the window pane (read the comments there, including from a witness, and see the window pane photo here), meaning the “vicious pit bull” black lab was on the other side of the window.

After killing the dog, they broke into the vehicle, stole the dog’s body and left this business card on the blood spattered vehicle: “Please contact city police watch commander regarding your dog”. Soon more contradictions in the official statements were noted. And there’s more – why abandon a vehicle without finding the owner, when moments earlier, the van was falsely alleged to be involved with looking at children – so the PD then abandons the van?

The PD had to cancel the press release naming the officer and telling us about his experience, awards, training, and the sainthood elevating gold stars.

It is obvious: dogs nationwide are seeking “Suicide by cop” amid mounting incidents of police killing innocent dogs.

You likely heard about a police officer entering a secured Salt Lake city backyard recently, searching for a child that had been found 30 minutes before, and then shot and killed the dog that lived in the yard. This is happening all over the United States.

Yep, another dog obviously seeking suicide by cop.

Seriously. (And if you cannot figure it out, much of the above is satire. Biting satire in this case, of course.)

Back in the real world, a lot of us have encounters with dogs, but for some reason, us regular folk don’t need to shoot every dog that barks, raises hackles, bares teeth or just looks damn scary.

  • I have lost count of the number of times I was chased by dogs while riding a bike. If it gets rough, a quick shot of water from my water bottle into the dogs face stops the dog in its tracks. Works every time.
  • I’ve had a dog leap out the back end of a station wagon and charge me  – I did not shoot the dog.
  • I had a dog come up along side me, while on my bike, and rip my pants. I did not shoot the dog.
  • On many occasions, I have had dogs try to attack my dog or dogs, while walking my leashed dogs. I did not shoot any of the dogs.
  • I have had dogs chase me while jogging. I did not shoot the dogs.
  • Postal workers, utility workers, delivery truck drivers – lots of people interact with dogs every single day. And none of them shoot the dogs.

It’s only when a police officer is involved that we see this “suicide by cop” phenomena among dogs. Some how the rest of us routinely deal with upset dogs without killing them.

If any of us were spooked by a dog in a van, pulled out a gun and shot through a window pane to kill the dog, we would be arrested and in jail.

But not the police. That’s because all these dead dogs were seeking “suicide by cop”. This is obvious. I am surprised the CDA police have not explained this – its standard procedure after most officer-involved-shootings now – impugn the reputation of the victim and claim the victim was seeking “suicide by cop” or suffered from “excited delirium”. The latter pretty much explains every dog I have met – most are in a state of excited delirium, especially the young ones.

The CDA police officer will suffer zero repercussions.  The police department will investigate itself and conclude the officer’s actions were fully justified. They know they are immune from the rules that apply to everyone else and they will continue to shoot dogs because they can and there is nothing any of us can do about it. Throughout the country.

(Update Aug 2014) Weeks after the shooting, the CDA Keystone Cops have still not released the name of the officer who shot the dog through the van of the window.  Compare this lack of transparency with recent shootings of people in Spokane: in Spokane, the police routinely release information specifically intended to impugn the reputation of the victim while elevating the officers to sainthood.  This double standard is inexcusable and unacceptable and the leadership and leadership staff of the CDA Keystone Cops should be fired for their double standard and obvious coverups. (For reference see: Police Shooting Propaganda Manual, Spokane Propaganda-Style)

If the officer says they felt threatened then it is a justified killing and that is that.

From the comments here, the  CDA police have a record of shooting innocent dogs.  Their unprofessional handling of this situation puts them somewhere between the Keystone Cops and Idaho’s reputation for red neck behavior and pulling over cars with Colorado license plates because weed is legal in Colorado. (Am pretty sure they also need to abide by the 4th amendment and get a warrant to remove a body from within private property, once the “emergency” is over.)

Welcome to the militarized police state where all of us and our pets are “the enemy” of the state.

Spokesman-Review average daily circulation

Circulation data is surprisingly hard to find. The chart below should be considered approximate.

The numbers may come from different months of each year. Various source report different numbers – average daily subscribers, total Sunday edition subscribers  (about 20% more than the average daily subscribers), total estimated number of readers per print copy, total subscribers including print and digital – and so on – making it hard to find definitive numbers when we do not have access to the Audit Bureau of Circulations database.

Consequently, treat this chart as an approximate trend.

SRCirculationMultiple sources were used for this – too many to list. The 2006 data point is estimated as the average of 2005 and 2007.

The newspaper industry was hit by economic, technology and competitive threats.  The old model was to sell eyeballs to advertisers (paying for production of the day’s print edition) and sell subscriptions to readers (paying for delivery of the paper).

Craigslist, and later EBay and Amazon, obliterated the classified ad revenue, which was once said to account for 40% of a typical paper’s revenue, 20 years ago.

Internet distribution meant that a print edition was no longer needed and the cost of physical delivery fell close to zero (compared to the old “paper boy” delivery of a printed paper).

The Internet also created new kinds of competitors. TV stations began to deliver “print” news stories. Access to “news” became free.  In the recent bad economy, subscribers became former subscribers to save money.

New kinds of competitive “news” emerged, usually online. Many news consumers stopped reading traditional news and now read mostly what they see shared on social media, or watch from the nation’s non-news reporters like Jon Stewart and Steven Colbert.

Together this has created a terrifically tough market for the original printed newspaper business.