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Originally published Sunday, March 17, 2013 at 6:04 AM

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Busy Boeing clips wings before drone bill can fly

The Wrap by Ron Judd

Seattle Times staff columnist

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Pretty cheeky move by Boeing, formerly of Seattle, shooting down a bill in the state Legislature to regulate any government use of drone aircraft in Washington state.

The bill was pulled from the hopper for “more study” after lobbyists from the Lazy B — which owns a drone-building company in Klickitat County — put the pinch on some legislators, complaining that any limits on drone use might not be good for drone business.

A Boeing spokeswoman, Susan Bradley, said in a statement that the company opposed the bill because it was not “sufficiently thorough and thoughtful.”

Two questions.

Since when has anything proposed in Olympia in the past decade cleared that rather high bar?

And when Boeing lobbyists decide over tax-writeoff martinis to exercise their apparent veto power over state legislation, does it take two-thirds of them, or a simple majority?

More big-brother bullying:

Speaking of Boeing: Mr. Wrap feels so much better after the explanation from Boeing exec Mike Sinnett, who told reporters that the fabled 787 battery meltdowns created only teensy weensy baby flames under the cockpit of a plane in Boston and no flames at all in the smoldering-battery incident in Japan. It will be comforting to know that all that smoke billowing through the cockpit on an upcoming flight is actually a design feature.

Come to Think of it: An easier and cheaper solution to the battery problem might have been simply hiring Allegiant Air MD-82 pilots to captain the 787s. For those folks, smoke in the cockpit is just another day at the office

Meanwhile, in Chicago: The annual compensation for feckless Boeing CEO Jim McNerney, whose deft leadership touch presides over all of this, rose 20 percent to $27.5 million last year. God bless America.

Hey, Nice Hat: Quite the week at the Vatican. Who among us will ever forget where we were when receiving the news about the election of the first partial-one-lung pope from “the Americas”?

You Couldn’t Possibly Have Seen This Coming: Steven Ray Tickle, a star of the TV show “Moonshiners,” was arrested for public intoxication. He’s been charged with two counts of felony cliché.

Post Route, Interrupted: Fabulously wealthy University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian laid down the lawafter star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins was arrested and cited for DUI, saying the team would support the athlete, while “also holding him accountable and responsible for his actions.” We wait to see whether that means “accountable and responsible” in a Rick Neuheisel sort of way, or in an entire-rest-of-the-world sort of way.

Talk-Is-Cheap Division: Crafty Bay Area hedge funder Chris Hansen treated the city to another splendid publicity stunt, opening up a no-money-required “priority ticket waitlist” website for his still-imaginary Seattle NBA franchise. The site drew a secret, stratospherically phenomenal number of pledges, each of them every bit as bankable as the solemn word of NBA Commissioner David Stern.

And Finally: Word is that the Washington State Patrol was conducting another “emphasis patrol” targeting the scourge of local roads: control freak left-lane campers who impede freeway traffic. Mr. Wrap welcomes the effort, but must note that the state strategy of “educating” lane campers has been a miserable failure.

Ron Judd’s column appears each Sunday. Reach him at or 206-464-8280.

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About The Wrap / Ron Judd

"The Wrap" appears on Sundays, highlighting the absurd and providing the punch line to the week's news headlines.


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