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Saturday, January 24, 2004

Green Line Recommendations

The good people at the Seattle Popular Monorail have their final recommendations for station locations and route alignment here.

It goes down Second. Now I know a lot of people are pissed that it might disturb the tranquility of the garden of remembrance. To those people, I would ask if you've ever been to the garden of remembrance? I was across the street trying to catch a bus (one of 13 that stop there and another dozen that stop a block or two South). There is the hustle and bustle you'd expect in a major metropolitan area. Cars, buses, construction, people yelling. I can't imagine the monorail will be in the top 5 noisy things at the garden of remembrance.



Money

Open Secrets has some fun local stuff.



what's a Billion Dollars Between Friends?

The latest projections from the governor's budget office indicate state spending will outpace tax collections by more than $1 billion during the next two-year budget cycle — the budget legislators will be working on a year from now. The shortfall is projected to grow to more than $3 billion by 2009.

Here's a partial list (off the top of my head) of things that have already been cut since I-695:

Sales Tax Equalization

Public Transportation

Roads

Anti-Smoking Programs-- Although fortunately we've taken less of the tobaccoo settlement money to pay for other things than most states.

Parks and Recreation

Education Funding-- Especially the two education initiatives that passed a few years ago.

And we still have a billion dollar shortfall. Partially that's the downturn going on nationally, and the Boeing job losses. Fine. But we would be much better equipped to handle this collectively if we hadn't passed those loonie Tim Eyman initiatives.

The thing people always ask government to do is cut the fat. But government isn't a fine steak. Its a hamburger. There is fat there, but you can't cut much of it without cutting some meat too.



For a Day or a Lifetime

Bothell's city manager is getting the heck out. I just posted this story as an excuse to post Bothell's crazy slogan.



Friday, January 23, 2004

I'd Rather have Monorail

ST wants a couple of light rail routes across I-90 and along 405. They are looking at 2005 to hold elections. I don't know if it'll pass or not, or even if I'd support it. But the campaign to expand the monorail to King County said their technology could get from downtown Seattle to downtown Bellevue in 19 minutes. It would also probably be cheaper.



SUSA Poll

Its still plenty early but Survey USA has a poll (.pdf) out comparing a hypothetical dem. candidate/Bush. Kerry strangely did the best. Oddly they didn't have primary results. We'll throw our electoral college votes the Democrat, but I'd think we would be ahead already. Could be good if Bush thinks he can win and wastes some money. Could be bad if the Dems think they'll lose and waste some money.



More Higher Ed

Yesterday I mentioned a higher education committee meeting. You can hear it here



Cruz to Endorse Rossi

They will be holding a joint press conference, this afternoon. And it's being leaked that Cruz will bow out of the governor's race and endorse Rossi. We're still good for the governor's race on the D. side.



Thursday, January 22, 2004

BPA Lawsuit to go Forward

So close to a settlement but Snohomish County and a few other hold outs didn't go along. Yesterday was the deadline, so the suit will go on. Several North West utilities are in on the lawsuit saying they were over charged during the California power crisis.

After months of negotiation, BPA made a settlement offer to the public utilities last fall, saying it would refund a 2.2 percent rate increase approved last October and temporarily cut rates an additional 7.4 percent.

But the Snohomish County Public Utility District, Bonneville's biggest customer, rejected the offer, calling it a short-term fix that simply puts off rate increases into the future. All the litigants must agree to a settlement offer to be accepted.

"It would essentially result in higher costs over the long term," Neil Neroutsos, a spokesman for Snohomish PUD, said of the proposal. "While there was a temporary rate reduction, it wouldn't rule out a rate increase as early as this October."



Smoking Ban

Back in court.

Personally I would like the legislature let localities decide for themselves. As the statute is now, I doubt the courts will uphold the measure.



Reinstating affirmative Action in College

Today the senate is considering a bill that would reverse portions of I-200 regarding college admissions. They are tailoring it specifically to the University of Michigan ruling. According to the Seattle Times the bill would

permit admissions policies to consider an applicant's race, color, ethnicity or national origin to promote diversity as long as:

• No enrollment slots are set aside on the basis of race.

• All applicants are judged on how they would contribute to campus diversity.

• Race isn't given a predetermined weight or points in admissions.

• Institutions periodically review whether consideration of race is necessary to achieve diversity.


Update: You can contact members of the senate higher ed committee here. Tell them what a wonderful thing it would be to see this passed.



Wednesday, January 21, 2004

A Start

Shell Oil Co. has agreed to pay $250,000 of the $3.05 million fine the U.S. Office of Pipeline Safety imposed after the fiery 1999 Olympic Pipe Line Co. disaster in Bellingham, an agency spokesman said Tuesday.

The remaining $2.8 million will be negotiated with Olympic, OPS spokesman Damon Hill said.



I Love The Theater

Should be fun



SOTU

My favorite paragraph from the State of the Union:

Some critics have said our duties in Iraq must be internationalized. This particular criticism is hard to explain to our partners in Britain, Australia, Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania, the Netherlands -- (applause) -- Norway, El Salvador, and the 17 other countries that have committed troops to Iraq. (Applause.) As we debate at home, we must never ignore the vital contributions of our international partners, or dismiss their sacrifices.

It's "hard to explain" to all those countries that some of our most important allies including France, Germany, and Canada opposed the war? Russia, China, and others countries that we are courting disapproved. It's "hard to explain" to the coalition that Turkey didn't let us use their airspace. That both the UN and NATO refused to go along? They couldn't figure out that Kuwait was the only Arab country that supported the war? Is it "hard to explain" because you're an idiot or the members of the coalition you slapped together are idiots? Basically you're saying only morons signed up for the Iraq war.



King County Council Selects Committee Chars

here

The Democrats aren't being partisan enough for my taste, but that's probably a good long term strategy.



It Must Be An Election Year

Doug Sutherland is planning to set aside the last of the old growth on state lands from logging. This is a good step, but environmental groups say it won't be enough. There is a good chance that we can take his seat back. Most people in the state preferred Mike Lowry's positions on the environment but didn't like his sordid past. If we can field a decent candidate, with the environmental leanings of the state, and the gubernatorial and presidential coat tails, we should be able to take back this position. But despite the politics, and the fact that it isn't enough, this is good news.

OLYMPIA -- State Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland will announce plans today to make old-growth forest on state trust land off-limits to logging, a source familiar with the planned announcement said.

The move would protect about 60,000 acres of old-growth forest in Washington, according to Department of Natural Resources estimates.



Tuesday, January 20, 2004

More Awful Caucus Reporting

George Howland Jr. manages to write a caucus report nearly as bad as mine from a few days ago. Of course Howland has fact checkers and editors. So he has no excuse to write like this (OK, his excuse is he works for the weekly):

LOCAL DEMOCRATS say that decision had unintended consequences. Where once caucuses were held in living rooms, the Democrats now prefer public buildings that are handicapped accessible. Schools are a popular location, but some are demanding steep rents to open their buildings on a Saturday and provide weekend staffing and heat. "There should have been a lot more thinking on how to pay for it," says Keefe of Spokane. Responds Berendt: "Are we talking about an astronomical amount of money? No, we're not, maybe $500 per legislative district. It's a burden but not an outrageous one." The change to Saturday has left many districts scrambling to find affordable spaces. "It is a chaotic mess," says Beckie Summers, Democratic chair of Tacoma's 29th Legislative District. Says Betty Means, state campaign director of Dean for America: "It's later than people would like."



State Unemployment Rate Still High

We're about a percentage above the national average. At least in the Puget Sound region we're still pretty dependant on Boeing. And while the 7E7 has helped stop the hemraging, we're still losing jobs there. Micorsoft is still pretty good, but Boeing is our manufacturing base.

The state unemployment rate in December was 6.8 percent, a minor improvement over the revised November rate of 6.9 percent, the state Employment Security Department reported Tuesday.

The national unemployment rate also fell in December, dropping to 5.7 percent from 5.9 percent



House Passes Constitutional Amendment on Levies

Needing to pass by a 2/3 margin, it passed 68 for 29 against. The Republican senate will be tougher. Then we've got to pass it statewide. So we've still got a long way to go, but so far so good.



Locke on KUOW

Here (Real Audio) and here is the archive page.



Monday, January 19, 2004

Get your Iowa On

Check out the Iowa Presidential results here



Kind of Makes me Wish They'd Picked me Up

But then again, I was too much of a wimp to violate the no protest zone. Oh well, here's hoping they won't put up free speech zones next time the president is in town. Or at least they bill his campaign for the lawsuits that come about.

The city of Seattle has agreed to pay $250,000 to World Trade Organization protesters swept up in mass arrests during the riots and protests that crippled downtown in 1999.



Legislature Considering Eliminating Teacher's Right to Strike

In the wake of the 49 day Marysville teacher's strike, the legislature is considering binding arbitration for teachers and school boards that can't reach a contract agreement. The statute would fine the teacher's union $10,000 a day. Hans Dunshee, the normally reliable Snohomish County Democrat introduced the house version.

Binding arbitration resolves a collective bargaining contract by using a neutral third party to make a final decision enforceable in court.

Dunshee's wife, a teacher in Snohomish, went on strike in 2002.

The proposal would make teacher strikes illegal.

It is similar to guidelines for police and firefighters negotiations.


Look its a hassle to have these strikes. And Marysville probably could have been resolved earlier. But you want to know what would work even better than binding arbitration? Pay the teachers what they are worth.



Olympia Woman to go to Jail for Medical Marijuana

I swear why did we vote for this if judges aren't going to allow the argument? It's like being arrested and charged with drunk driving and the judge won't let you show your breathalizer test that shows you were well below the legal limit. Except Monica Ginn wasn't driving erratically, she was medicating her chronic back pain under her doctor's advice.

It rankles Ginn's lawyers that the jury was never able to hear the argument that Ginn had a medical reason for growing 23 plants and using the marijuana.

Thurston County Judge Thomas McPhee, in the ruling excluding Ginn's medical defense, said the doctor hadn't proved Ginn had "intractable pain," a qualifying condition under the law.

The law, McPhee told her lawyers, "requires more" about Ginn's condition than had been presented to him.

"It is not sufficient, in my estimation, for a doctor simply to take a self-reported history from a person who has been using marijuana for a longer period of time and conclude that this patient qualifies under the medical-marijuana law."

Dr. John Walck, Ginn's doctor, told the judge that he thought "medical marijuana was an appropriate therapy" for Ginn's chronic back pain.

Dr. Gregory Carter, a medical-marijuana expert who took part in the pretrial hearing, said the judge was "second-guessing" the doctor.

"In essence the judge is practicing medicine. That's scary," Carter said


And by the way Judge Thomas McPhee, you're an elected official in Olympia. I lived there for a few years, and I swear to God, I'm the only person who didn't light up. So basically you're saying the medical marijuana law doesn't count in the most politically active and pot friendly area in the state. Good luck getting re-elected.



Sunday, January 18, 2004

We're Number 9!

I honestly don't know how to feel about the fact that Washington will get $373.1 million from the federal government if the omnibus spending bill passes. Definitely some of it is pork but most seems reasonable.

Big-ticket items in the bill for Washington state include $18.3 million for repair of the federal building in Auburn; $9.8 million for a new border station in Blaine; and $11.3 million for improvements at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. Spokane International Airport would get $8 million for a new air traffic control system.

Add to that $75 million for Sound Transit. I have no idea how much any of those things should cost though. It is surprising that we did this well in the pork department. Both of our Senators and a majority of our Representatives are from the minority party. And the president isn't going to take Washington in the next election.



Dear College Republicans

I know you guys like to attack middle aged women. And at least you aren't attacking pregnant women like the abortion clinic blockers,but you still suck.

Love Carl Ballard

PS. Is it embarrassing to get your ass kicked by a 40 something Joan Jett?

PPS. Losers

Updated to change the link because the old one stopped working.



Patty Murray for VP

I'd really like to see a North Westerner on the ticket. While I'd prefer they be on the top of the ticket, that isn't going to happen this year. So here's my list of possible VPs from the North West.

Patty Murray Dean has said that he wants someone who can navigate Washington DC as his running mate. Murray is smart, articulate, and a solid liberal.

Clark is running poorly with women, and Murray would certainly boost that.

John Kitzhaber The former Governor of OR. He has solid environmental cred. He might be a bad fit for Dean because they would make a former governor/former governor ticket. Would move Oregon from a toss up that leans Dem to a Democratic state.

Norm Dicks Solid military credentials would help Dean. Dicks knows DC better than almost anyone, and could help any potential president. The problem is his last name. Sadly there is a percentage of the electorate who would laugh at him. And we'd get stupid jokes about replacing Dick with Dicks.

Jay Inslee If one of the pro war candidates emerges Inslee could secure the base. He opposed the war from the beginning and he's a darling of MoveOn.

If you have any other suggestions, lets see them in the comments.



Education Levies

On February 3 several south sound school districts are holding education levies. These need 60% to pass.

Education is always starving. The state constitution says that education "is the paramount duty of the state", and it says that any bond measure needs 60% to pass. This sets up a conflict as local folks (even often a majority) refuse to fund education. So go vote on the 3rd.



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