Buzz

Scandal

When the University of Washington last week appointed a six-member committee to review the causes of its medical school billing scandal—which cost at least $50 million in settlement and legal fees—one of the committee's leaders, Starbucks CEO Orin Smith, vowed, "We will follow the trail wherever it leads." For starters, says Mark Erickson, the whistle-blower who exposed the corrupt system, the panel must review the reams of case documents still being kept secret by federal prosecutors. The documents, says Erickson, will provide "a sobering dose of reality" while also revealing the leniency doled out by the government to wrongdoers. Likewise, the panel might like to read the new book by a scandal insider, Swannee Rivers, called Healthcare Under Duress. Among other revelations, the former billing-office worker details how individual patients—much overlooked in the case—were greedily double-charged by the UW and, unable to pay, wound up hounded by collection agencies. Let's see if the trail goes there. RICK ANDERSON

Monorail

The Seattle Monorail Project won't decide for months who will build its proposed 13.7-mile Green Line, but let us guess: Cascadia Monorail? It's the only bidder left now that Team Monorail folded its tent last week, unable even to pretend it would submit a bid at the deadline next week, forgoing a guaranteed $2 million to the loser. SMP says no problem, however; a single bidder will work as good as, say, a single rail (the planned monorail will have four cost-cutting miles of them). OK, so it has always said a competitive bid would benefit taxpayers and keep costs down, but before any bid is approved, the SMP has some higher hurdles to clear—a legal battle, a City Hall financial review, and a possible recall vote in November. Meanwhile, to see what Seattle's new monorail may look like, visit cascadiamonorail.com's Web site and view the video. The team is not shy about its expectations: It compares music by Bach and art by Monet with "the monorail by Cascadia." Of course, it's all in the eye of the beholder. RICK ANDERSON

War

It's an unfortunate milestone for Washington state: The Department of Defense this week announced that Marine Sgt. Yadir G. Reynoso, 27, of Wapato, Yakima County, died in combat Aug. 5 in An Najaf Province, Iraq. His death brings to 50 the number of soldiers with state connections who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan (see War Dead at www.seattleweekly.com). An earlier U.S. milestone went mostly unnoticed: When Pfc. Samuel Bowen of Cleveland was killed in action July 7 in Iraq, he became the 1,000th member of the U.S. military to die in Iraq and Afghanistan—or what the White House calls the War on Terror. RICK ANDERSON

Quote

"If I had been born a woman, I'd have been pregnant all the time."—A randy President Warren G. Harding, among the memorable squibs you could find in the Mike Mailway column, which last week ended its run in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, where it began 41 years ago

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