KING, PIERCE, SNOHOMISH, ISLAND
KITSAP & THURSTON COUNTIES | ELSEWHERE 75¢
A HEARST NEWSPAPER
LIFE AND ARTS D1
But Mariners place Putz on the DL
THURSDAY, APRI L 3, 2008
Another sunny day.
High 56. Low 38. B8
The P-I and seattlepi.com reach
1.3 million readers a week in
Western Washington, including
three-quarters of a million
Monday through Saturday.
To subscribe, call 206-464-2121.
©2008 SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER
Citizens Against Government
Waste says Sen. Patty Murray and
Rep. Norm Dicks are among the
biggest abusers of earmarks. The
group ranked Washington 25th in
pork barrel spending. B1
A fish that
A newly discovered fish with a flat
face and armlike fins could be part
of a formerly unknown family of
vertebrates. It lives in coral beds in
Indonesia, crawling around on its
bent pectoral fins. B1
In the wake of four high-profile
campus killings, college officials
are seeking new ways of
identifying troubled students – for
their own good and the safety of
those around them. B1
This month will see a first in the Pu-
get Sound area’s transportation system:
Solo drivers will be able to use the car
pool lanes on state Route 167 without
getting a ticket – if they pay for the privi-
“High-occupancy toll” or HOT lanes
open at 5 a.m. April 26, kicking off a
four-year test to see whether drivers will
pay to move out of crowded general-
traffic lanes into the car pool lanes for a
price that will vary almost by the minute
and be assessed electronically. It could
be the latest step in a return to state
highway tolls that began last summer on
the Tacoma Narrows Bridge.
“This will be a new situation that
drivers will need to get used to,” said
Craig Stone, urban corridors adminis-
trator for the state Department of Trans-
portation. Similar lanes are already in
use in places such as California, Minne-
sota and Texas.
Preparations for Washington’s HOT
lanes already are visible. New signs and
electronic gear have been put in place.
On April 12, two weeks before the new
lane arrangement starts, crews will be-
gin painting a new white double line
that will more sharply delineate the
HOT lanes from the others on the high-
way between Auburn and Renton.
Drivers will pay to use the 9-mile
stretch of HOV lane between the cities,
with the amount based on how congest-
ed the lanes are. With no congestion the
toll will be 50 cents – the low end of the
scale – to lure drivers to the HOV lanes
and relieve congestion in the others.
‘HOT’ lanes wide open to solo drivers – for a price
4-year test on state Route 167 begins April 26
BY LARRY LANGE
SEE HOT, A7
Fishermen are sometimes seen as an ex-
ceptional breed, willing to risk it all in pur-
suit of the sea’s bounty.
Fishing boats – boats such as the Alaska
Ranger, the Seattle-based processor that
went down last month off the Aleutian Is-
lands – also have been viewed as exception-
al. At least by Congress.
Despite a decades-long effort by the
U.S. Coast Guard and others, Congress has
not passed regulations to require inspec-
tions of fishing vessels.
Such seaworthiness standards are the
norm on other commercial vessels such as
cruise ships, charter boats and cargo ships.
But because of resistance by the fishing in-
dustry and with the acquiescence of Con-
gress, similar rules do not exist for vessels
headed to the Bering Sea.
“This sounds like where we started 20 –
almost 25 – years ago,” said Peggy Barry, a
longtime advocate for fishermen’s safety
whose son Peter died when the fishing boat
he was on sank in 1985.
The five fishermen who died when the
Alaska Ranger went down off Unalaska Is-
land on March 23 joined the more than 400
killed since 1999, when a Coast Guard pan-
el told Congress that extraordinarily weak
regulation allows vessels that aren’t up to
the task to continue fishing.
Records show that on at least 10 occa-
sions since 1971, the Coast Guard has told
Congress and the public that fishermen are
dying because of unseaworthy boats, and
that a legislative fix is needed to improve
safety. But Congress instead opted for vo-
luntary safety programs supported by the
Meanwhile, the fishing industry, which
grosses roughly $10 billion annually, has
spent heavily on lobbying Congress. And
senators and representatives from Wash-
Congress has never
BY DANIEL LATHROP AND LEVI PULKKINEN
RICHARD CANTY PHOTO
The Alaska Ranger at sea in 1998. The ship
was never certified to new Coast Guard
SEE BOATS, A4
Seattle could trump even the
greenest of American cities with
fines on foam and taxes on bags –
both paper and plastic, city politi-
Seattle would impose a
20-cent-per-bag “green fee” and
outlaw foam food containers next
year under a proposal announced
Wednesday. Aiming to persuade Se-
attleites to ditch disposable bags,
the city hopes to send a free reusable
bag to every Seattle household,
Mayor Greg Nickels said.
“No other city has done what
we’re suggesting here,” Nickels said.
“These actions will take tons of plas-
tic and foam out of our waste
stream. . . . The best way to handle a
ton of waste is not to create it in the
Eventually, Seattle restaurants
also would be forbidden from using
plastic food containers that can’t be
recycled or composted, according to
Paper or plastic? You
may pay either way
PLAN IMPOSES 20-CENT ‘GREEN FEE’ FOR DISPOSABLE BAGS
SCOTT EKLUND / P-I PHOTOS
PROPOSED: A 20-cent green fee on disposable
shopping bags, both paper and plastic.
WHERE: Grocery, drug and convenience stores.
WHEN: To begin Jan. 1.
EXEMPT: Bags used inside stores to contain bulk
items, bags for prepared food, newspaper and
WHY: Seattleites use 360 million disposable paper
and plastic shopping bags every year. Almost 240
million end up in the garbage. That’s close to 4
percent of all residential garbage, by volume. This
will save 4,000 tons of greenhouse gases per year,
the same as taking 665 cars off the road.
PROPOSED: A ban on the use of expanded
polystyrene (sometimes called Styrofoam) containers
WHERE: All food service businesses, including some
of the foam packaging used in grocery stores, such
as meat trays and egg cartons.
WHEN: To begin Jan. 1.
PROPOSED: Switch from one-time-use, disposable
plastic and plastic-coated paper food and beverage
containers and utensils to fully compostable and
WHERE: All food service businesses.
WHEN: By July 1, 2010.
Some plastic, foam
be banned under
proposal by mayor,
CITY’S PLAN AT A GLANCE
BY ANGELA GALLOWAY
SEE ‘GREEN FEE,’ A7
P - A 4 C M Y K
P - A 4 C M Y K
A4 SEATTLE POST-I NTELLI GENCER ❘ THURSDAY, APRI L 3, 2008
Saves you money
Present this ad at any Thrifty Car Rental counter to
get a FREE upgrade when you rent for a week or more.
Counter Agent Instructions: Proceed to Special Documents Window and input code EMUPG
Rent a compact, mid-size or full-size for 5 days or more and upgrade to the next higher car class at no additional cost. Present certiﬁcate
to rental agent when you arrive. Upgrades subject to availability. Certiﬁcate must be surrendered at time of rental and may not be used
in conjunction with any other offer or promotion and has no cash value. Certain renter qualiﬁcations, geographical driving restrictions,
additional driver and blackout periods may apply. Limited number of vehicles available at this discount. Renter must meet minimum age,
driver and credit requirements. Offer available at participating locations. Expires April 28, 2008. ©2008 Thrifty Rent-A-Car System, Inc.
Thrifty.com is a trademark of Thrifty, Inc. All rights reserved. Thrifty features quality products from Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep
and other ﬁne cars.
Book now at Thrifty.com and get our
Lowest Rate Guaranteed, or call 1-800-THRIFTY.
Everything to Build, Remodel and Update Your Home!
April 4, 5 &6
Reg. Admission $6
Porches· Sunrooms· PoomAdditions· Decks
CustomPemodeling· Patios· |nterior Decorating
Saunas&Spas· CustomCabinetry· Painting
DecorativeConcrete· Pinancing· SatelliteTv
windows· Siding· Poofing· Countertops
StorageSolutions· Pencing· Much,MuchMore!
ington state – home to 85 per-
cent of the Bering Sea fishing
fleet – have netted their share of
industry dollars while sitting on
committees where change could
be made, or blocked.
Net of influence
One of the top recipients of
industry largesse is Sen. Patty
Murray, D-Wash. She has re-
ceived about $60,000 from fish-
ing interests since 2003. Murray
and her staff declined requests to
comment for this story.
Murray chairs a subcommit-
tee that overseas maritime
spending and controlled the
Coast Guard’s budget until a
Former Murray aide Justin
LeBlanc is now a lobbyist for fish-
ing boat owners in the Pacific
Northwest, and has lobbied on
their behalf for industry-friendly
changes to pending safety rules.
LeBlanc said shipowners are
committed to the safety of their
“I know that the Pacific
Northwest and particularly the
Seattle-based industry is far
more proactive about safety than
other areas of the country,” he
LeBlanc has lobbied the
House on safety, representing
boat owners concerned that
some new regulations would be
“The devil is in the details,”
Of course, Murray is not the
only lawmaker who has a close
relationship with the fishing in-
Since 2003, employees of
just one company, Seattle-based
Trident Seafood, have made
more $170,000 in federal politi-
Recipients included Murray,
Sen. Ted Stevens, R-Alaska, and
Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash.
The industry also has re-
tained dozens of Washington,
D.C., lobbyists and paid them
millions of dollars to influence
government decisions. At least
10 of those lobbyists are, like Le-
Blanc, former congressional or
executive branch officials
charged with regulating the in-
dustry, according to data from
the nonpartisan Center for Re-
All of those relationships give
the industry the loudest voice on
“If only one side of the issue
is being vocal and they’re using
money and insider connections
to raise their own volume, then
its easy for Congress to ignore
the other side,” said Massie
Ritsch of the center, a campaign-
finance watchdog group.
The result has been decades
of inaction by Congress. Despite
repeated requests that fishing
vessels be inspected for seawor-
thiness, the fishing fleet remains
the only large group of boats
where inspection isn’t required,
even though it operates in some
of the most dangerous seas.
That’s even though fisher-
men die on the job at 30 times
the average rate, making fishing
one of America’s deadliest jobs,
according to a congressional re-
Stronger fishing vessel safety
rules were first put forward in
the 1930s, and have been backed
by the Coast Guard since then.
But Coast Guard inspectors still
lack the authority to check ves-
sels for structural or engineering
problems such as those consid-
ered possible causes of the Alas-
ka Ranger sinking.
A 2006 Coast Guard study
said safety problems will contin-
ue until Congress acts.
“We can expect approximate-
ly 127 . . . vessels to be lost each
year in the future, unless a sub-
stantial regulatory shift concern-
ing the vessels’ material condi-
tion and machinery can be im-
plemented,” according to the
Those conclusions were
brought to Congress last April,
where they were presented to a
subcommittee on which Reps.
Brian Baird, D-Wash., and Larsen
At that hearing, Jerry Dzu-
gan, executive director of the
Alaska Marine Safety Education
Association, said the current sys-
tem is akin to telling airline pas-
sengers to pack a parachute.
“The fishing vessel safety act
focuses on survivability after a
vessel loss,” Dzugan said, ac-
cording to his written statement.
“By anyone’s definition, this is a
reactive, rather than proactive,
approach to casualties.”
In the face of congressional
inaction, the Coast Guard has
launched an initiative to inspect
vessels such as the Alaska Rang-
The move, which hasn’t yet
come to fruition, marks the only
major step forward in fishing
safety since 1988.
That year, Congress passed a
law requiring that boat owners
pack survival suits and life rafts.
Safety advocate Barry and her
husband, a former ambassador,
pushed for the change after their
son’s death aboard the Aleutian
The law is credited with sav-
ing hundreds of fishermen from
an icy death, and widely viewed
as a success by those inside and
outside the industry. But it does
nothing to prevent unsafe boats
from heading to sea.
The Coast Guard’s expansion
of its authority beyond the 1988
law involves “head and guts”
boats, including the Alaska
On “head and guts” boats,
the crew removes the fish heads,
guts the fish and sometimes per-
forms additional processing. His-
torically considered fishing
boats, the Coast Guard now clas-
sifies them as seafood proces-
sors, subject to inspection.
The original deadline for the
safety initiative was January, but
the Coast Guard extended the
deadline. As a result, the Alaska
Ranger was never certified to the
Coast Guard’s new standards,
said Capt. Steve Hudson, direc-
tor of the Coast Guard’s new li-
Hudson said that under the
new inspection regime, about 60
“head and guts” processors even-
tually will be inspected for sea-
worthiness. So far only 12 boats
have been brought up to Coast
The creative regulatory ma-
neuver was prompted by two Be-
ring Sea disasters involving
“head and guts” processing
boats. A total of 18 crew mem-
bers died in the 2001 and 2002
As a result, the Coast Guard’s
Hudson said, boat owners were
offered a choice: they could stop
processing and lose revenue or
volunteer to join the Coast Guard
safety compliance program.
Owners who opted into the
program were given a lengthy
checklist to complete. Hudson
said many of the vessels still need
a significant amount of work be-
fore they’ll be in compliance.
Safer boats – by 2018
The new safety program
does not apply to the thousands
of fishing vessels that do little or
A current proposal backed by
Larsen and by Sen. Maria Cant-
well, D-Wash., would expand the
agency’s inspection authority to
include fishing boats.
However, the new powers
wouldn’t be granted to Coast
Guard inspectors until 2018, ex-
cept on new boats. Even then,
many smaller boats such as those
that dock at Seattle’s Fishermen’s
Terminal would still be exempt.
The proposal largely mirrors
a bill introduced 16 years ago by
then-Rep. John Miller, R-Wash.
Miller introduced that bill af-
ter documents surfaced showing
he’d helped the owner of the at-
sea processor Aleutian Enterprise
avoid an inspection of another
boat owned by the company. His
bill, the Fishing Safety, Conserva-
tion and Productivity Improve-
ment Act of 1992, never made it
out of committee.
heavily to lobby
P-I reporter Daniel Lathrop
can be reached at 206-448-8157
SEATTLE P-I Source: U.S. Coast Guard and P-I archives
For decades, U.S. Coast Guard leaders have asked for the authority to check fishing vessels for seaworthiness.
But much of the nation's 82,000-boat-strong fishing fleet continues to sail without inspection because of
1941: The Fishing Vessel Safety Bill would set
standards for watertight bulkheads, captain
qualifications and life-saving equipment. It is
scuttled at the start of World War II.
1971: A revision to federal law enables the
Coast Guard to set standards for all
“uninspected” craft – except for fishing vessels.
The same year, a Coast Guard panel finds that
safety exemptions are in part to blame for the
fishing industry’s poor safety record.
1972-1976: The Coast Guard repeatedly
requests the authority to inspect fishing vessels.
Congress and the Department of Commerce
block the proposals.
1984: Congress adopts rules setting basic
life-safety standards for large fish-processing
vessels. Most vessels are exempted.
1988: Under pressure from the parents of Peter
Barry, Congress requires fishing vessels to carry
life rafts and survival suits. Contrary to the
Barrys’ requests, the law doesn’t mandate boat
1991: The National Research Council publishes
a report urging that a system of vessel
inspections be put in place. Legislation to make
those recommendations into law dies in
1999: Findings of a Coast Guard panel prompt
changes in fishery management, but the Coast
Guard’s authority to inspect vessels for
seaworthiness is not expanded.
2006: A second Coast Guard panel finds that
vessels would continue to sink at a rate of
about 127 a year unless new rules are put in
2008: Congress is considering a change in law
that would require an inspection regime similar
to the one proposed in 1991. The new
regulations would not take effect until 2018.
1983: The fishing vessels Altair
and Americus sink in the Bering
Sea, killing 14. Coast Guard
investigators conclude design
standards are needed, but the
agency’s commandant turns to
an industry group pushing
1985: The Western Sea sinks in
the Bering Sea. Six crewmen are
killed, including Peter Barry.
Barry’s parents go on to demand
that fishing vessels carry life rafts
and survival suits.
1990: The Aleutian Enterprise
capsizes and sinks, killing nine.
Following the sinking, memos
written by Rep. John Miller,
R-Wash., surface showing Miller
pressured the Coast Guard not to
inspect another boat belonging
to the Aleutian Enterprise’s
2001: The fish processor Arctic
Rose sinks in the Bering Sea in
part because of problems with a
watertight hatch, taking all 15
members of its crew with it.
2002: The at-sea processor
Galaxy (below) sinks following a
freak explosion. Three crew
members are killed; the other 23
survived only because of
“extraordinary heroism” on the
part of their rescuers.
2008: The Alaska Ranger sinks
off of the Aleutian Islands, killing
five of the 47 crew members
aboard the Seattle-based
CHANGES IN THE LAW
A HISTORY OF INACTION
Fishing industry donations
received 2003 to present
Source: Federal Election Commission
Top recipients from fishing
industry donors identified by the
P-I. Donors gave directly to
candidates or through industry
political action committees.
*Donations to Sen. Ted Stevens
include money donated to his
campaign as well as a political action
committee he controls.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)
Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska)
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.)
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.)
Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska)
From top: Aleutian Enterprise, Americus and the Arctic
Rose are all vessels that sank at sea, costing the lives of
many of their crew members.