Hoocoodanode?

This is from Monday but I thought it was a great piece of journalism about an awful event.

Since the 1950s, geological reports on the hill that buckled during the weekend in Snohomish County have included pessimistic analyses and the occasional dire prediction. But no language seems more prescient than what appears in a 1999 report filed with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, warning of “the potential for a large catastrophic failure.”

That report was written by Daniel J. Miller and his wife, Lynne Rodgers Miller. When she saw the news of the mudslide Saturday, she knew right away where the land had given way. Her husband knew, too.

“We’ve known it would happen at some point,” he told The Seattle Times on Monday. “We just didn’t know when.”

Daniel Miller, a geomorph­ologist, also documented the hill’s landslide conditions in a report written in 1997 for the Washington Department of Ecology and the Tulalip Tribes. He knows the hill’s history, having collected reports and memos from the 1950s, 1960s, 1980s and 1990s. He has a half-dozen manila folders stuffed with maps, slides, models and drawings, all telling the story of an unstable hillside that has defied efforts to shore it up.
[…]
His perspective stands in contrast to what John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, said at a news conference Monday. “It was considered very safe,” Pennington said. “This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere.”

This isn’t the one-in-a-billion disappearance of a jet airplane in thousands of square miles of remote ocean. A herd of unicorns didn’t fly down from the heavens, piss all over that hillside, and stir up the landslide with their horns. A 2010 report said it was dangerous, and the area might have been logged in a way that contributed to the slide.






99 replies
  1. 1
    RaflW says:

    It would certainly seem that John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, is bad at his job.

    There really should be some consequences for being either that incompetent or that much of a liar.

  2. 2
    Russ says:

    What a shame, they could of a least warned to residents below the hillside Looks like Mr Pennington now has 2 emergencies on his hands and the second one is what he knew and when he knew it.

  3. 3
    Kropadope says:

    @RaflW: C’mon, don’t you know that it’s always a bad decision to listen to alarmist scientists and their warnings that are at odds with county (short-term) business interests?

  4. 4
    StringOnAStick says:

    Speaking as a former geologist, my experience was always that geologists are never listened to when doing so will cut into some developer’s bottom line.

    I live near a large hill that had one portion designated as unstable landslide-prone terrain on maps produced by the state Department of Geology, so they built expensive homes right up to the edge of that area and started the multi-year whine attack to get the landslide area “de-designated”. It finally was, expensive homes were built, and whaddayano, the area slid and the homes were destroyed. No lives lost thanksfully, but wow what a clear cut case of money perverting science, and in this case it was political pressure that resulted in the “de-designation”.

  5. 5
    CaseyL says:

    A few years ago, I gave in to impulse and visited a realtor’s open-house of a $1+ million home on a high bluff in Seattle’s North Beach neighborhood. It’s a gorgeous neighborhood, and this home had an amazing view of the Sound and Olympic Peninsula.

    The back yard extended some twenty feet out to an abrupt drop-off. The realtor said there had been a landslide many years before, and a geologist survey concluded there was a non-negligible risk of an additional landslide, possibly endangering the house itself. That information, the realtor said, was in the “due diligence” portion of the title deeds. In other words, the realtor affirmatively offered the information, and noted it was also part of the documentation for the house.

    I don’t know what the requirements are for putting that kind of information in real estate documents, or how imminent and immediate such risks are before they trigger a due diligence requirement. But it would be interesting to know what information was available to the people who bought land or homes there – and by “available” I mean “mentioned clearly to the prospective buyer before they made an offer,” not “something they could look up in county records if they had any idea they should do so,” much less “something they would have to go hunting for by searching for records of geologic surveys if they knew any had been done.”

  6. 6
    Linnaeus says:

    Speaking as a former geologist, my experience was always that geologists are never listened to when doing so will cut into some developer’s bottom line.

    That’s particularly true in western Washington and I don’t anticipate that it will get any better.

  7. 7
    Baud says:

    This reminds me of stories I’ve read about people building homes in Colorado fire zones that end up being destroyed by…wait for it…wildfires.

  8. 8
    Anoniminous says:

    Four Stages of a Disaster:

    1. The scientists don’t know what they are talking about

    2. It can’t happen here

    3. It’s not going to be as bad as the scientists say

    4. WHY DOES ALL THIS BAD STUFF HAPPEN TO ME? WHY DIDN’T ANYBODY WARN ME?

  9. 9
  10. 10
    Baud says:

    @Anoniminous:

    5. Why won’t the government help me more? I’m voting Republican to protest.

  11. 11
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    Found this Gold Bar Reporter piece on Pennington. An excerpt:

    John E. Pennington ignored warnings signs of mudslides because he has no scientific training. When asked one time what he knows about science John Pennington stated ” God has taught me to listen to my instincts.”

  12. 12
    Anoniminous says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    The combination of Real Estate developers with lots o’ bucks and corrupt, bribable, Land Use officials is toxic.

  13. 13
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Kropadope: DING DING DING DING DING

    That’s pretty much always the case when it comes to NW county governments. They’re warned that something bad will happen if you develop/exploit this land, and they dismiss it because their god, Mammon, tells them to.

  14. 14
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Baud: Michele Malkin, we’re talking to you.

  15. 15
    dmbeaster says:

    It is worth stressing that the landslide risk was acute here as the terrain was glacial till, which is very weak. I wonder how it had at least enough integrity to form the cliffs that ultimately collapsed.

    The “regulation” of this sort of thing ends up being almost exclusively our tort system. Land use rules and small government politics have a hard time with uncertain risks that are not clearly obvious. Whether
    Or not government can be liable also for the risk has a lot to do with how well it regulates the risk.

  16. 16
    Fuzzy says:

    If the local government took the warning seriously they would not issue building permits in that area. Then the landholders would sue, and win, but at least the county or town avoids liability.

  17. 17
    Roger Moore says:

    @CaseyL:
    The amount of information provided depends heavily on local law. Here in California, they’re required to provide that information as part of general disclosures, the same as termite inspection. Of course that’s only after you’ve put down a good faith deposit, though they might tell you if you asked just to avoid wasting their time on buyers who are going to back out when they hear about the danger.

  18. 18
    Just Some Fuckhead, Thought Leader says:

    His perspective stands in contrast to what John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, said at a news conference Monday. “It was considered very safe,” Pennington said. “This was a completely unforeseen slide. This came out of nowhere.”

    Heckuva job, Pennie!

  19. 19
    The Dangerman says:

    I was listening to Seattle news and I heard that less than 1% of WA homes have landslide insurance; I suppose given the potential for landslide damage if Rainier ever goes kaboom, it must be expensive…

    …but if you don’t live it the Rainier flood plain and you call your insurance company about landslide insurance and they laugh at you, that might be a clue that something is wrong.

    ETA; Also, I’m all for corporate personhood for that logging company that clear cut above the slide (where they were expressly told NOT to cut). Can you imagine the lawsuit?

  20. 20
    cckids says:

    My daughter is in her first year majoring in geology, she saw Mr. Miller on Rachel Maddow’s show & called me to tell me to watch it. Wow, what an eye-opener.

    I also wonder, didn’t the developers have to disclose this to buyers? Even here in developer heaven (Vegas), natural stuff like flood plains have to be disclosed when you put the deposit down.

    Also, slightly OT, but I love Miller’s job title: Geomorphologist. Say it out loud. It sounds like he could be teaching at Hogwarts.

  21. 21
    trollhattan says:

    Have a gander at this aerial, which shows the clearcut extent in the drainage above the slide site.

    http://slog.thestranger.com/sl.....egulations

    Not only would the tree root matrix help stabilize the top soil layer, the trees themselves would take up a considerable amount of water, retarding infiltration and runoff. Enough to have prevented the slide? Don’t know. Enough to have reduced the slide’s size and extent? I’d take that bet.

    Quite possibly a hundred deaths, making this one of the nation’s largest “natural” disasters. Question remains: how “natural”?

  22. 22
    trollhattan says:

    A good chunk of western Washington is glacial till and site prep doesn’t always take this into account. Childhood friend’s family had to sell the Seattle home they grew up in after the folks died. Like a lot of homes there it was build in the early 20th century on a hill. The house inspector they hired discovered the foundation had dropped eighteen inches at the low corner.

    Apparently, back in the day, they’d cut into the hillside, bring the soil forward to level off the slope, lay down a foundation, and build. Compaction, stabilization and upslope drainage? Not so much.

  23. 23
    ruemara says:

    I’m amazed at the lack of coverage this disaster has gotten.

  24. 24
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Baud:
    Can’t local authorities refuse people permission to build in a fire zone? Don’t insurance companies warn them: “If you build a house there, no one will insure your property”?

  25. 25
    Cheap Jim, formerly Cheap Jim says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I wouldn’t stand too close to Mr Pennington. God is not mocked, y’know.

  26. 26
    Tommy says:

    @Baud: Well I have been in an area like that, where you have to remove all tinder around where you live. I bet there are a few people here that know this.

  27. 27
    Roger Moore says:

    @Amir Khalid:

    Can’t local authorities refuse people permission to build in a fire zone?

    Sure, but then they’ll miss out on kickbacks from the developers. Local politics tends to be quite corrupt, and real estate development is at the core of a lot of that corruption.

  28. 28
    elmo says:

    Nothing to do with landslides exactly, but developers have lots of creative ways to save money that leave homeowners holding the bag later. My childhood home in San Diego county wasn’t on particularly unstable land, so it was odd when the master bedroom started settling away from the main body of the house, so that the house literally started to split.

    We found out why. Apparently the developer of the subdivision had put down rebar for foundations in a section of the subdivision at a time. When the inspector signed off on it, he pulled up the rebar in the dead of night to take to the next section, and poured the concrete foundations right away to hide the missing rebar.

  29. 29
    Judge Crater says:

    As we move into the 21st century, with more development, with more complex infrastructure and with more intrusions into our natural environment (fracking, logging, mining, industrial scale farming with insecticides and GMOs etc.) the political luddites on the right want a 19th century style government. Well, except when the creek rises or the mountain caves in or a super-storm takes out the beaches and boardwalks of an entire state.

    This is just another case in point. Have you seen the bumper sticker that reads, “Legalize Freedom”. Yes sir! The freedom to live a life free of regulations and taxes. This is the dumbed-down bottom to which we are headed.

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @ruemara:

    In the US I agree, it’s not much of a story nationally. But the international press has been on it–it’s on an equal level with the airliner story at BBC and ABC (Australia Broadcasting). The ABC published a very good set of before/after aerials.

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/201.....de/5346460

  31. 31

    @cckids: Aside: Where is your daughter in school? My 8th grader wants to major in geology & I’ve been…cautious…about the schools in my region that offer it. A future as an oil company drone is not one that will make her happy.

  32. 32
    MikeJ says:

    Loggers in Washington are like coal miners in West Virginia. they are 100% convinced that any regulation whatsoever is going to cause their family to live on the street.

    Was it the Simpsons where they had people protesting over the loss of jobs when the baby poison factory shut down?

  33. 33
    cckids says:

    @PhoenixRising: She’s at the University of Denver, she’s not entirely sure about geology, but she really loves her Environmental Science classes so far. She, also, is adamant about not working for an oil company.

    I try not to stress about it too much; it is her first year & while she is very emotionally mature for her age, she is still finding out how many careers/jobs are out there that you don’t even know about. Thankfully, she has a very decent scholarship, so that makes a big difference. If not, she’d be at a state school here in Nevada (Reno has a good Geo. dept.)

  34. 34
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Higgs Boson’s Mate: I can recommend a series of physical science shows on the History Channel 2, one of which specifically talks about an ancient mudslide in the PNW that caused a tsunami in Japan. (Though few and far between, History Channel does have some good geology/physical science shows about the earth and its processes.)

  35. 35
    cckids says:

    @elmo:

    Apparently the developer of the subdivision had put down rebar for foundations in a section of the subdivision at a time. When the inspector signed off on it, he pulled up the rebar in the dead of night to take to the next section, and poured the concrete foundations right away to hide the missing rebar.

    Oy. We found out 2 years after we bought our house (in 2001), that this explosion had damaged the seals on the windows & cracked all the grout in the bathrooms, leading to “microleaks” & mold behind the tiles. We noticed that every few weeks, someone was obviously doing over a bathroom & asked the only neighbor who’d owned the house since it was built if she knew why.

    Apparently, when the plant blew up, the houses were in the finishing stages. Windows were cracked, some doors were blown in (!), and the above-referenced damage happened. The builders only were required to fix & tell the people who already had a deposit down on the houses. Any that were sold after that? Tough shit.

    And, BTW, our house is 12 MILES away from that plant that exploded.

  36. 36
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    The developers want to build even more homes near Mt Rainier despite the dangers of lehars(volcanic mudslides) places like Orting, Sumner and Puyallup have exploded with new homes despite being in the path of the volcanic after effects, but hey it isn’t like it will going to happen tomorrow Eh? Gotta die of something right? At least you got a good view.

  37. 37
    YellowJournalism says:

    @MikeJ: I grew up in a community that relied heavily on the logging industry. Your description is spot-on. It was not unusual to walk around and see people with t-shirts and bumper stickers that made references to using spotted owls as toilet paper. (I still see them when I go there to visit.) They were so afraid of regulation, but what happened? The jobs went away anyways, mostly by the actions of the companies that encouraged the mob mentality against the EPA and safety regulators. Now my hometown is a shell of what it used to be, trying to turn itself into a tourist destination.

  38. 38
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    The developers want to build even more homes near Mt Rainier despite the dangers of lehars(volcanic mudslides) places like Orting, Sumner and Puyallup have exploded with new homes despite being in the path of the volcanic after effects, but hey it isn’t like it will going to happen tomorrow Eh? Gotta die of something right? At least you got a good view.

  39. 39
    Linnaeus says:

    @YellowJournalism:

    That’s a good point, but I don’t think that the fears of those workers should be disregarded either (I’m not saying you’re doing that, by the way). We have a long history in this country of throwing workers onto the scrap heap when jobs are moved elsewhere or an industry goes into decline. I can’t completely fault someone for being worried about her or his job if regulation will impact that job, even if I think that regulation is on the whole the right thing to do. We don’t do nearly enough for folks in that kind of situation.

  40. 40
  41. 41
    trollhattan says:

    @elmo:

    Hellofa story. Hey, rebar be espensive!

    Buddy who once did light construction had endless tales of the drywallers, who evidently represent some sort of stub in the human evolution process. One story involved leaving the job site on Friday as the drywall crew was arriving, then returning Monday to continue work, after the crew had finished. The guys kept having odd problems and eventually broke into a wall to discover the drywallers had stolen every other stud.

  42. 42
    mainsailset says:

    I’ve driven through Oso many times over the years. Each time I drive the ‘shortcut’ route that lands in Arlington it’s been a magnificent view of Washington’s beauty; the endless number of bald eagles fishing in the Fall and the river filled with rafts of appreciative onlookers.

    But what always has stuck with me is that people of Oso I’ve run into in the few stores are unusually kind spirited, social, teasing one another and good old fashioned hard working. The CNN interviews I’ve seen of various community members may seem cherry picked but the real story is that they are representative of who that community is.

    Sure, anyone who’s been in that part of the state knows what logging can do, knows about the slides and certainly watches how the river pulls at the toe of the area. But individuals simply can’t judge for themselves a danger like this, not when the science is in 5 pt fonts and the eagles are soaring over a gorgeous river.

  43. 43
  44. 44
    Ruckus says:

    @The Dangerman:
    Very few people in CA have earthquake insurance. It is painfully expensive, it pays back little and so I think you are better off putting the money in the bank and after you are wiped out use the money to move somewhere else. Oh wait…..
    Somewhat like health care insurance was and is less so now. Pre existing conditions? Yeah we’re not going to sell you insurance at anything like affordable.

  45. 45
    MikeJ says:

    @the Conster: Fnu Lnu?

    I’ve seen the fnords!

  46. 46
    Roger Moore says:

    @Linnaeus:
    The problem is that the workers’ jobs are always going to be in danger as long as our natural resources strategy is to descend like a swarm of locusts and move on when the resource is destroyed. Environmental policies that require renewable resources to be managed renewably rather than irreversibly depleted are in the employees’ (and communities’) long term interest, even if it means fewer jobs today.

  47. 47
    Gin & Tonic says:

    @the Conster: Now he’s free to be dead. Karma can be a bitch sometimes.

  48. 48
    trollhattan says:

    @Ruckus:

    When they shoved the 99-year flood zone line to exclude our house following some levee improvements, flood insurance was no longer mandatory but the price also dropped and we kept it. Our bit of California isn’t a high seismic zone but as a flood zone it’s technically more threatened than New Orleans.

  49. 49
    Ruckus says:

    @elmo:
    Lived 4-5 miles away from the 94 Northridge earthquake(SoCal), in a relatively new housing development. Most of the houses came through in pretty good shape, all things considered. Except the last house built. The entire bottom floor exterior walls blew out all the drywall. The framing was still there the second story was OK the family got out fine. The builder had used every left over short piece of studs from all the other houses to build the frame, which is not how it is supposed to be done. The family was very lucky that the nails held and they didn’t end up in a pile of house.

  50. 50
    JoyfulA says:

    @elmo: My parents’ carport fell off the side of their house for that same reason, no rebar. By the time it happened, the builder had long ago decamped to Florida.

  51. 51
    Linnaeus says:

    @Roger Moore:

    I’m not saying that’s wrong. I do think that 1) we’ve generally done a poor job of articulating the long-term interest to those communities, 2) we’ve done a poor job of planning out the long term and 3) we’ve done a poor job of helping with the transition. It’s easy to be cavalier about that when we’re not the ones having to deal with the transition.

    It’s also important to make sure that the communities themselves are able to participate in the process in a meaningful way if there is a potential for serious economic impact. Actually, that’s a good thing to do for any reason.

  52. 52
    trollhattan says:

    @the Conster:

    Dear lord, think of his poor gunz! Have a lot more sympathy for Harry Truman who refused to vacate Spirit Lake at Mt. St. Helens. He was just a crusty old dude and an actual, not fake patriot, having barely survived WWI.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Randall_Truman

  53. 53
    Steve Crickmore says:

    Is clear cutting to blame for the Oso mudslide? It seems pretty obvious what caused the mudslide at the Stillaguamish River bend. Listen and watch the following video explanation, using google earth, of what continual clear cutting and the failure to reforest it, and public officials’ negligence and stupidity can cause to the unfortunate who live down slope from it.

  54. 54
    dollared says:

    I think we’re pushing this a little hard. Mr. Pennington is an idiot and he is in developers’ pockets. Of course, that’s because it’s Snohomish County, that next-county-over-from-the-big-city that always promises to be nicer to developers and other Republican scum.

    But this place is genuinely rural, and genuinely in a mountain river valley. Mountains fall down. It’s what they do. And Snohomish County is 2200 square miles – double the size of Rhode Island, the same size as Delaware, 23% of the size of Vermont. Does the state of Vermont assess every slope in the entire state?

    And if they had tried to block development, the people who lived there would have screamed bloody murder, filed lawsuits, etc. If there were developers involved, they were little mom and pop people working to get a permit to subdivide their $20,000, 2 acre parcel in the middle of nowhere near a pretty river. This is a little street with a bunch of raggedy houses and trailers, each with their own septic. I’m sure the county made sure the septic wouldn’t pollute the river, and I bet either the county or the Corps checked for flood risk. But I’m not surprised that nobody looked all the way to the other side of the river and up the mountain a mile away and tried to guess at the risk of a slide 50 times larger than the 2006 slide coming all the way across the river and flattening this little street.

    This is a tragedy. I’m sad that it gets so little coverage because nobody gives a fuck about rural poor people and someday we’ll all understand that this will make every top 20 list for US natural disasters. But this is not an object lesson in the failures of government or the failures of wingnuttery. We can’t assess every goddamn hillside in Washington.

  55. 55
    trollhattan says:

    @Roger Moore:

    During James Watt’s reign of terror over western lands, had old-growth clear-cutting not been halted it would be literally all be gone today along with the so-called threatened jobs. Oh, I suppose they’d have been eyeballing the stands inside National Parks to keep workin’ a few more months.

    Timber still has a political stranglehold in Oregon to a shocking extent. Beyond Portland, Salem and Eugene it’s a red state.

  56. 56
    Ruckus says:

    @trollhattan:
    When I worked in OH, my house was about 20 ft above an active flood area. I say active as in an extended rain period or extreme snow season the river could easily breach it’s banks. So I didn’t need it either, but that’s OK the insurance was still relatively expensive, telling me that the possibility was greater than nil.

  57. 57
    gbear says:

    @Roger Moore: The loss of forestry jobs is such a smokescreen for these companies. They’ve already shut down all of the local milling factories and just send the raw logs overseas for processing. Bastards.

  58. 58
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee: “Sumner! Gateway to Orting!”

  59. 59
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @gbear: THIS.

    They blamed those damn hippies concerned about the spotted owl, when the reality was, they were shutting down the mills BEFORE the EPA stepped in.

  60. 60
    trollhattan says:

    @dollared:

    Willing to bet the Washington Dept of Highways does, in fact, assess slide risk along every highway mile. As to the rural poor, I’ll be surprised if that’s a significant cohort of the folks living here. With all that said, am not eager to “blame the victim” but I think various regulatory agencies have a lot of explaining to do.

  61. 61
    efgoldman says:

    @RaflW:

    John Pennington, head of Snohomish County’s Department of Emergency Management, is bad at his job.

    Well, to be fair, it wasn’t an emergency until the hill came down.

  62. 62
    elmo says:

    Wow. Just in this little thread, a half-dozen or so stories like mine. There really is a tremendous potential for petty thievery and graft in construction, isn’t there?

    My wife’s father was a high-end contractor in San Diego, building custom homes in some of the tonier areas (not Rancho Santa Fe, nothing like that, but surgeons and lawyers homes). His father before him did the same thing. One of the things she says to me when I get insecure about my ability to do DIY home improvement, is “Honey, guys with a sixth-grade education do this for a living. Nearly all construction is wood and paper, with a few wires and pipes. It’s not complicated.”

  63. 63
    trollhattan says:

    @the Conster:
    My immature (and dominant) side got a chuckle out of “former Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart.”

    “Mongo impressed. Have deep feelings for sheriff Bart.”

  64. 64
    Sloegin says:

    It’s fairly shocking how little coverage this has received in the local Washington press. The slide uncovers multiple uncomfortable truths that nobody wants to deal with. Washington has a strong libertarian streak, and the regulation, monitoring, and enforcement mechanisms that would have prevented this would not and will never be welcome here. Don’t blame the victims, blame Washington voters.

  65. 65
    Steve Crickmore says:

    live radio coverage of oso mudslide http://player.originpull.cdn.l.....net/KIROFM

  66. 66
    Steve Crickmore says:

    live radio coverage of oso mudslide http://player.originpull.cdn.l.....net/KIROFM

  67. 67
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @trollhattan:

    Apparently, back in the day, they’d cut into the hillside, bring the soil forward to level off the slope, lay down a foundation, and build. Compaction, stabilization and upslope drainage? Not so much.

    Downtown Seattle.

  68. 68
  69. 69
    susan says:

    @cckids:

    Good for your daughter. DU is a fine school!

    I live in Denver, my husband grew up in Western NV, and my kids graduated from Whitman College in Walla Walla, WA.

    The houses/apts my kids lived in in WA all seemed to have structural defects. We attributed it to cheap student housing, but maybe the problems had more to do with unstable ground.

    My heart goes out to the WA victims and their families.

  70. 70
    Betsy says:

    Always the environmental bad idea is also a bad idea for humans. In the southwestern state where all those firefighters were killed in action last year, they were out there battling flames around houses and sprawl that had been built way up in the scrub, instead of down in the damn town, where folks should live.

    But Towns are full of blah or brah ppl, I suppose.

  71. 71
    rikyrah says:

    63 Black Harvard Students Share Their Experiences In A Powerful Photo Project

    The “I, Too, Am Harvard” photo campaign explores the diverse experience that black students at Harvard have to face. Here are 21 of the images. posted on March 3, 2014 at 12:06pm EST

    A group of black students at Harvard are fed up with the institutional racism they say they have experienced, and are speaking out against it through a commanding photography project on Tumblr.

    “Our voices often go unheard on this campus, our experiences are devalued, our presence is questioned,” the website says. “This project is our way of speaking back, of claiming this campus, of standing up to say: We are here.”

    http://www.buzzfeed.com/alison.....-through-a

    The play premieres Friday, March 7, but today a video teaser was released.

    http://youtu.be/uAMTSPGZRiI

    All the rest of the pictures

  72. 72
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @PurpleGirl:

    Cool! Thanks for the heads up. I’ll comb through Netflix and see what I can find.

  73. 73
    doug r says:

    @trollhattan: No kidding. Driving south of Eugene, it’s all RW talk, Country, or if you’re lucky Classic Rock stations.

  74. 74
    opiejeanne says:

    @elmo: that makes nonsense. Rebar is not all that expensive and the labor to yank it out and install it elsewhere would eat up most if not all the savings.

    More likely he paid off the inspector and. Ever put it in.

  75. 75
    Betsy says:

    @Roger Moore: real estate development is mostly just another form of resource extraction, like clear cutting or coal mining. The sprawl type especially.

  76. 76
    Betsy says:

    @Anoniminous: it’s not usually bribes and corruption. When a huge part of the economy is “bad thing x”, it doesn’t take bribes to get the public officials to lean towards allowing x. Herd mentality is sufficient to get the job done there.

    Or in other words, never blame evil when stupidity will do.

  77. 77
    Betsy says:

    @dmbeaster: and that’s why we need tort reform NOW!

    / just kidding

  78. 78
    Higgs Boson's Mate says:

    @Baud:

    This reminds me of stories I’ve read about people building homes in Colorado fire zones that end up being destroyed by…wait for it…wildfires.

    I seem to recall seeing a documentary about how much the state spends on enabling people to live in Malibu. The film referenced a study by one of our universities. The study concluded that California would save a boatload of money long term if it simply bought up all of the homes in and around Malibu and allowed the land to go back to wilderness.

  79. 79
    Roger Moore says:

    @Betsy:

    But Towns are full of blah or brah ppl, I suppose.

    It isn’t necessarily the specific people; it’s the feeling of being crowded. Some people want to own a bunch of land so they can be separated from their closest neighbors, which simply isn’t possible in town. There are also some definite advantages to going up in elevation, especially when you’re near a city. Each 1000 feet of elevation gain lowers the average temperature by 5F, and going up helps to get you above the smog when there’s an inversion. They still shouldn’t have been allowed to build there, but there’s a lot more than racism behind the desire.

  80. 80
    notorious JRT says:

    @mainsailset:
    I love that drive, too.

    I am not defending officials or logging that exceeds permitted limits. But, long-term property owners are grandfathered and fight losing their families’ slice of paradise. King county spent a lot of taxpayer dough and a number of years buying out folks in an area that had flooding problems. It was controversial. Mr Miller conceded on Rachel’s show that he might have responded to mandatory buy puts differently before the slide than after. The impulse against government restrictions on property development is wicked strong in this country. Public officials do not always enjoy constituent support for such actions.

    Pennington’s comments look punk-headed, but I am not sure that even “catastrophic” conjures visions of this collapse, which crossed a river and a highway to take out homes.

  81. 81
    elmo says:

    @opiejeanne:
    Really? I know nothing about such things. I know what we were eventually told, that there was a lawsuit and everything, but obvs I have no personal knowledge of what was done.

  82. 82
    Roger Moore says:

    @Betsy:

    real estate development is mostly just another form of resource extraction, like clear cutting or coal mining. The sprawl type especially.

    I would say that’s mostly true of the sprawl type. Redevelopment within cities is more like recycling. But the potential for corruption is still there whether the area is virgin territory or land being redeveloped. Construction is very heavily regulated, both in terms of zoning and other rules that restrict what kinds of things can be put where and in terms of various building codes. There are plenty of possibilities for corruption in the process: officials holding up developers in exchange for allowing development to progress, developers bribing officials to grant variances, “community” groups threatening to sue to block development, inspectors blackmailing or being bribed by contractors, etc. It’s a huge engine of local politics, which are already more open to corruption because of the lack of adequate scrutiny.

  83. 83
    Roger Moore says:

    @notorious JRT:

    The impulse against government restrictions on property development is wicked strong in this country. Public officials do not always enjoy constituent support for such actions.

    The only thing that gets public support for limitations on development is disasters. I grew up in the part of Colorado that was affected by the big floods last year, and one of the most noteworthy features was the low death toll given the scale of the disaster. A big reason for that is that there was a terrible flash flood in 1976 that killed over 100 people, most of whom were trapped in areas they couldn’t escape. Local governments learned their lessons from the disaster and put strong restrictions on building in flood prone areas, and there were still enough people who remembered the last flood to give them some backbone in continuing to enforce those rules. When the even bigger floods happened in 2013, they mostly affected areas that had been deliberately left undeveloped. It caused a huge amount of disruption and a lot of damage to public infrastructure, but surprisingly few lives.

  84. 84
    opiejeanne says:

    @elmo: it’s possible that he did do that but either way the builder was an idiot.

  85. 85
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Roger Moore: Of course, the lesson the fuckhaids take away from this is that there is no need for regulation of flood plain development since the floods didn’t take many lives.

    I’ll just bang my head against my desk now.

  86. 86
    Bill D. says:

    @opiejeanne: @opiejeanne:

    The Cypress Structure, the doubledecker freeway that fell down in the 1989 Loma Prieta Earthquake, was built of reinforced concrete. Unfortunately, and contrary to the plans, the rebar in the lower half of the structure didn’t connect to the rebar in the upper half. I always thought that an inspector must have been paid off for that to happen.

  87. 87
    celticdragonchick says:

    @StringOnAStick:

    Speaking as a former geologist, my experience was always that geologists are never listened to when doing so will cut into some developer’s bottom line.

    Looking to get into a geology PhD program at UNC Chapel Hill or Duke…and when I was a student intern at Earth Technology and Leighton & Assoc…I saw what you are talking about.

  88. 88
    celticdragonchick says:

    @trollhattan:

    My immature (and dominant) side got a chuckle out of “former Snohomish County Sheriff Rick Bart.”
    “Mongo impressed. Have deep feelings for sheriff Bart.”

    The Snonomish Sheriff Dept was responsible for one of the most horrific police fuck ups of the early 90’s…the shooting of Robin Pratt in front of her daughter and niece on a bad tip raid.

    As they executed the raid, shards of glass flew out toward the Pratts’ six-year-old daughter and five-year-old niece sleeping nearby. The police confronted 28-year-old Robin Pratt as she came out of her bedroom to see what was wrong. She immediately dropped to her knees. She briefly raised her head, looked at Dep. Anthony Aston, and said, “Please don’t hurt my children.” Aston then fired a single bullet into Pratt’s neck. She bled out and died in front of her daughter.

    The police then went to the bedroom, where they confronted Larry Pratt and put a gun to his temple. When he asked if he could move, the officer said if he did, he’d blow Pratt’s head off.

    Police later learned that the informant had been lying — he admitted as much. Every one of the raids conducted that morning were waged against innocent families. The police never bothered to check the informant’s statements with the accused before confronting them and their families with violence. If they had, they’d have found that every one of the people he had implicated — including Larry Pratt — had solid alibis disproving the informant’s story.

    The grand jury issued an indictment against detective Aston but he was never prosecuted. He resigned from the Snonomish SWAT team, but no disciplinary action was ever taken against him and as of the past few years he has been the supervisor in charge of courthouse security for all of Snonomish County.

    The Pratt family settled for 4.5 million or so, and both of the girls had special arrangements that if any police officer entered the school they were to be removed immediately.

    Aston can be found today on LinkedIn bragging about his love of golf and his amazing military and law enforcement bonafides.

    He leaves out the details where he used a German MP5 submachinegun to blow out the throat of a young, unarmed woman kneeling in front of him who was pleading that he not hurt the two little girls behind her.

  89. 89
    dollared says:

    @trollhattan: No, really, four of the dead are a woman who took over a family shack and three tradesman who were installing hot water plumbing for the first time. Several of the dead are listed as “laborers.” Oso is 30 miles up a dead end highway, 60 miles from Seattle. It’s dark and rainy, these aren’t vacation homes.

    And yes, the state HWY Dept. assessed slide risk for the highway. Not the county zoning folks. Look at the map. The highway is on the other side of the river. And somebody, I don’t know who, probably assessed flood risk for this little cluster of homes, I’m sure. But they weren’t looking over on the other side of the river, and the other side of the highway, and assessing the risk that the whole mountainside would fall across the valley.

    And why didn’t we have an immediate panic on Saturday about 100 missing people? The county didn’t know what it had on its hands because this is the middle of nowhere. And nobody cares about these people. We lost under 100 people in our area about 20 years ago when an Alaska Airlines flight from Mexico splashed. it was wall to wall news for weeks. Why? People in the right demographic fly to Mexico. People living in shacks without hot water, we just don’t care.

  90. 90
    WaterGirl says:

    @dollared: I am flashing back to Katrina. How is it that one life is worth more than another, based on the color of your skin or how much money you have in your wallet?

  91. 91
    Anna in PDX says:

    @YellowJournalism: Wow, me too. I am from Port Orford, OR.

    Did anyone see the NBC article about two of the casualties of the WA landslide being in a sort of sovereign citizen MTV mostly because they were mad at the idea of zoning? They had already had kids otherwise it makes me think of the Darwin Awards.

  92. 92
    Anna in PDX says:

    Damn of course I tried to abbreviate “movement” and the dumb iPad autocorrected to MTV. Argh. Sorry

  93. 93
    Elmo says:

    @celticdragonchick:
    Cops. Bet you a dollar that they consider that shooting “NHI.”

    Stands for “No Humans Involved.”

    Cuz none of the victims was wearing a fckn badge.

  94. 94
    Glocksman says:

    @elmo:
    When my Mother remodeled her home, one of the improvements was to replace the 30 year old HVAC system with a then top of the line Carrier setup.

    Imagine her shock when I noticed that the system actually being installed was a cheaper York.

    When I confronted the contractor about it, he got angry with me and said that I should have kept my mouth shut.
    I got angry back and said that I should have called the police and reported him for home improvement fraud.

    She eventually got the proper system installed, but she never recommended that builder to anyone.

  95. 95
    hitchhiker says:

    It’s very hard to read the Seattle Times articles about this thing. There’s a gi-fekking-normous pile of unstable mud, water, destroyed homes — and dozens of people are buried in it.

    It’s possible that many of them will never be recovered; it’s almost impossible to even look for them. Their wretched families — the people who happened not to be at home when the slide happened — are just reeling around, everything gone.

  96. 96
    celticdragonchick says:

    @Elmo:

    Yep.

  97. 97
    Bill D. says:

    @Roger Moore: In 1993 I drove down the canyon of the Big Thompson River, scene of the 1976 disaster, and saw an an awful lot of homes built only three feet above the level of the river. This trip was during a low-flow period for the river. Those houses will be goners one day.

  98. 98
    Betsy says:

    @Roger Moore: yeah, it’s not always the blah people –there’s also wanting to be near a town, without having to pay town taxes.

    Classic free rider problem — be near the jobs, ,museums, concerts, roads, shopping centers, and public water-sewer, but not contribute to the civil government that makes those things possible.

  99. 99
    Mnemosyne says:

    @dollared:

    It’s also because it happened in “flyover country” — if it’s not on the Eastern seaboard or between San Diego and San Francisco, it doesn’t exist to the national media.

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