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Saturday, February 28, 2004

Open Thread

Discuss all the stuff I missed.



Police Driving

Laura Ruderman introduced a bill that holds police to the same standards as us normals when they cause accidents because they can't drive worth a damn. The bill seems dead because it was introduced too late in the session, though.



Transportation and Taxes

It should be abundantly clear to people who've been reading this blog that I have no idea why some things are state projects and some are local ones. I mean I understand the monorail is a city issue, and that ST is hemmed into the 3 county region. And RTID (pronounced like a pirate watching the Superbowl halftime show might exclaim) is a broader 3 county thing. But I don't understand the funding and I don't understand why the state would let the RTID levy an odometer tax (that will clog up the backroads, and probably be tough to enforce) but not a gas tax (that will be a pain at the pump but are probably more fair). I mean I could understand if the state was raising the tax on its own, but they are saying that the RTID can put the odometer tax on the ballot but not a gas tax. And remember a statewide gas tax passed the 3 county area a few years ago. If we were willing to pay a gas tax for roads in Eastern Washington surely we would be willing to pay a gas tax for roads in the 3 counties.

State House Democrats have scrapped the idea of letting voters in the Puget Sound area vote to raise their gas tax by as much as 20 cents a gallon.

House Bill 2531, which the House passed Friday on a 52-43 vote, instead would give the region the power to impose an odometer tax, which would tax drivers based on how many miles they drive on the freeway system.

The bill also would make light rail in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties eligible for funding if the three counties ever win voter approval for a regional transportation tax increase.



Gentlemen Start Your Bidding

As long as they don't make me pay for it, I'm ok with NASCAR building whatever they want. I mean I'm not happy about funding stadiums for teams I like, let alone a sport I maybe watch once a year on TV. But whenever these people talk about the economic opportunity of their enterprise, I go into disbelief mode.

OLYMPIA — International Speedway Corp. told state legislators yesterday that if the company develops a racetrack for NASCAR in the Pacific Northwest, it will identify a preferred site in either Washington or Oregon by the end of this year.

ISC executives Lee Combs, senior vice president of corporate development, and John Graham, vice president of business affairs, met with lawmakers yesterday to outline the economic-development opportunities that could accompany a track in the region. They answered questions about their company, its relationship to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and how a track here would fit into its portfolio of 13 speedways — all of which host several large-scale NASCAR events each year



Friday, February 27, 2004

Dueling Quotes

This is the most important thing that faces us at the moment. Indiana state house minority leader Brian Bosma on gay marriage.

Eight priests who were members of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Indiana Province, committed sexual abuse against children between 1950 and 2003, the provincial superior reported. The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette, just to pick the first example of an IN paper dealing with an issue sane people would find more important than the fact that some gay people are getting married 1500 miles away.

And that's just a state issue. If you assume he means by "us" the United States, since gays aren't getting married in his state, we can assume he means more important than terrorism, than the fact that we've lost over 500 soldiers in Iraq. The deficit and the jobless recovery are less important than the fact that a few scattered jurisdictions may recognize and sanction loving couples' eternal bonds. No matter what side of the issue you're on, and I'm on the opposite side as Brian Bosma, I think it's fair to say he's lost his sense of proportion.

Brian Bosma is an idiot. The good people of his district are idiots for electing him and re electing him. The House Republican caucus of the state of Indiana is a bunch of idiots for putting him into a position of power. And I'm probably an idiot for wasting my time on him, but that's what happens when you say something stupid to reporters from a real newspaper.

Edited because I don't know the state abbreviations well enough.



Nudie Dancer Gate

I could live my whole life without hearing about strippergate. Especially hearing the name. I'm just saying our local reporters decided the worst part of this bribery scandal was that the guy owns a strip club. Not his time in federal prison, not his connections with a crooked ex-governor, not the bribery. It's that he owns a strip club. There aren't even any strippers involved in strippergate.

Anyway, with the charges against Colacurcio relatives, we'll be hearing another round of crap. And it's important to remember that there's no evidence of any wrong doing by Wills or Nicastro.

The thing is that crooked ol Rossellini befriends every new Democrat office holder. I don't think there's a dog catcher in Clallam County who he hasn't been lovely to. So when one of his friends needs a favor like oh that strip club needs a few more parking spaces, well it's probably the right thing to do any way. And Rossellini wouldn't jerk me around. Then Corlacurcio just gives them money because he likes them. I don't think they did it because of the money, and that's the tortured distinction I'm trying to make. This is a Democrat problem and we have to deal with it, but I have no idea how.



Bad Cops Need lawyers

A few police officers in a gang unit were charged with violating various laws when they mistreated an informant. I have no idea if they did or didn't but it seems to me that if you want good public officials, you need to defend them when they get in trouble on duty. And the only way to do that is to defend the bad ones too. But the King County Sheriff is denying them legal compensation. Obviously, my desire for public figures goes further than what's required legally, but here I support the cops any way.

At issue in the lawsuit is the interpretation of a county statute that guarantees legal representation and payment of legal fees to sheriff's deputies and "authorized agents." Baldwin, even though he works for Des Moines, is eligible because he was working for a King County Sheriff's drug and gang task force.

To have that benefit, however, the statute states "the county officer ... shall have performed or acted in good faith, with no reasonable cause to believe such conduct was unlawful."

County Chief Civil Deputy Prosecutor Sally Bagshaw said that under that clause, the officers' actions disqualify them from receiving any financial benefits.



Thursday, February 26, 2004

A New Bridge Over The Columbia?

A couple agencies are looking at the possibilities of putting up another bridge between Vancouver and Portland. It seems good to me in the preliminary stages. The biggest complaint in the article was that it might cement into people's minds that Vancouver is a suburb of Portland. Now the most obvious point is that Vancouver is a suburb of Portland. But more to the point look what having another bridge across Lake Washington did for Bellevue (among other things). It went from a suburb to a big city in its own right. It did that because of Seattle, not in spite of it.

Angie might have more insight if she wants to say hi.

Edit Apparently I'm an idiot. This article is about a replacement bridge, but it talked about Oregon and Washington paying for it so I got confused.



6.5

The state's seasonally adjusted unemployment rate fell to 6.5 percent in January from December's revised rate of 7.3 percent. The state on Jan. 20 had originally reported the December rate at 6.8 percent, but revised it upward as more data became available.



Eco-terrorism

So the Republican supplemental budget has a provision to make a database of "eco-terrorism." Now I'm opposed to ELF and the tactics of similar groups, but for the life of me I can't understand why people call them terrorists. I mean ELF's tactics have resulted in 0 deaths. So in that regard they are a little different from Hezbollah, or Al Queda, or the IRA. If we're making a database of terrorists, why exclude most terrorists?

The provision was prompted by recent attacks in the state by animal-rights extremists, such as the August release of 10,000 minks from a Sultan fur farm and the 2001 arson that destroyed the Center for Urban Horticulture at the University of Washington.

The Earth Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the CUH arson, while the Animal Liberation Front took responsibility for the mink release.

Also, I don't understand the procedures here. I mean this is a provision of a similar bill that died earlier in the session. Are we going to pay for a database that we don't have a law creating? Is just passing it in the budget enough?

edited slightly.



Yay a Republican Primary. Now Please be Bloody

Diane Tebelius is running for the 8th Congressional district. I don't know anything about her. But she seems to be more of a party insider type than Reichert.

Tebelius, 55, of Bellevue, could prove a formidable opponent to Reichert. Though she lacks his broad name recognition, she is well-known in Republican circles and has experience organizing large-scale political campaigns. Reichert had little involvement in party politics before entering this race.

Tebelius had been telling party officials she would enter the race and yesterday confirmed she plans to do so.

She expects to make a formal announcement of her candidacy next week, when her campaign organization is in place, she said.

And beautifully even though she didn't single him out by name she already said that Reichert "a candidate of opportunity." It'll only get better from here ladies and gents.



Religion Scholarships

I'm glad the supremes decided this the way they did. I mean it'll be tough for Bush to argue judicial activism (although he will because he always argues it). It lets Washington and other states define religious freedom on our own terms. It leaves room for Bush's faith based nonsense, and that's fine. There is a line where the faith based programs cross a Constitutional standard, and long before it there is a line where they cross the common sense standard.



Wednesday, February 25, 2004

45th District Madness

I don't blame Ruderman for getting out. I've always been a fan of Laura Ruderman (anyone who says this blog isn't mostly just me amusing myself is clearly insane) and it's been tough for her to win even though she's pretty moderate. Therace should be interesting. But I predict this one will be a pick up for the Republicans. And that means we'll have to win somewhere else to keep the lead in the house.

And on an unrelated note, why doesn't Blogger's spell check have "blog"?



Smoking in Pierce County

I don't know what to make of it. I still don't see how it's legal but I think they should be allowed to do it.

TACOMA — A state Court of Appeals commissioner today reinstated Pierce County's indoor smoking ban.
Commissioner Ernetta Skerlec issued an oral ruling and planned to elaborate with a written decision within a few days.

The Tacoma-Pierce County Board of Health imposed the ban Jan. 2, but three weeks later it was overturned by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald E. Culpepper, who said the agency lacked authority to enact the ban.



The Stranger Thinks Sims Should Marry Gays

Not personally. But the first two articles I've read in this week's Stranger are both about the issue. Feit gives a history of the executive enforcing judicial activism. He compares Bush unfavorably to Ike in the 50s. And he concludes with this Gem:

Speaking of which, I'd like to formally challenge King County Exec Ron Sims to start issuing some licenses. I've lined up a lovely lesbian couple, my colleague Amy Jenniges and her honey, to show up at the courthouse and escalate the grassroots challenge to Bush that S.F. Mayor Gavin Newsom started. You game, Ron? Or is the governor's race tempering your liberal values?

Sanders has a more specific critique of Sims and Nickels for not standing up on the issue. He thinks Sims has the power to issue licenses and Nickels can then enforce them. And unlike me he has actual expert testimony and research.

Sims, who does have authority to issue same-sex marriage licenses, could also move beyond his pro-gay talk. At the most radical, he could simply start issuing marriage licenses in defiance of state law, as Newsom has done, citing the equal protection clause of the California constitution as justification (the same sort of equal protection language can be found in Washington's constitution). If this feels too radical an idea for Sims, who is currently running for governor, he could issue just one symbolic marriage license to a Seattle gay couple. Then he could instruct the county's attorneys to file suit against the state, with the support of Nickels, when that license is declared illegal. The result would be a definitive ruling on the constitutionality of Washington's Defense of Marriage Act.

Now is the perfect time for such a suit. Here's why: Opponents of gay marriage would freak out, fearing a Washington ruling similar to the recent decision in Massachusetts ordering same-sex marriages to begin May 17. And their freakout would be well founded. The equal-protection and equal-rights language in Washington's constitution is so strong, observers believe the state's highest court would rule in favor of same-sex marriage. To head that scenario off at the pass, gay-marriage opponents would try to go above the heads of the Washington State Supreme Court justices by trying to amend the state constitution to prohibit gay marriage. But the amendment process begins in the state legislature, and the legislature is about to close up shop for the year, so the soonest anti-marriage forces could introduce their amendment would likely be 2005--which would give the courts enough time to rule on the Seattle/King County case, and gay-rights supporters enough time to rally the one-third of state senators or state reps that is needed to kill a proposed amendment.

"Most people have been assuming that same-sex marriage isn't something that could happen here for a while," says Jamie Pedersen, a Seattle lawyer who serves on the national board of directors for the gay-rights group Lambda Legal. "But if you could get a Ron Sims to go ahead and start issuing licenses immediately, and then start a court battle--you'd have to do the timing right to make sure the legislature wasn't going to come and do anything mischievous, but that would be great."



Tuesday, February 24, 2004

College Marmish

Does anyone think that this is a good idea? I mean it isn't like there aren't actual laws if you're a college student. And if individual schools want to have tougher rules, that's fine by me. But the notion that as a state we should be deciding what college students can and can't do is too nannyish for me.

A bill to force state colleges to crack down on car-smashing, bottle-throwing, mattress-burning undergraduates who do their mischief off campus is drawing fire from students and school officials, who call it vague, unnecessary and unfair.

House Bill 2807, sponsored by Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, was prompted by a drunken melee on the University of Washington's Fraternity Row in September. It would require public universities and colleges to adopt rules penalizing students for disruptive off-campus conduct.


edited because I forgot a link.



Our Governor is Thinking Hard About the Gropenator

Or: I'm after Lowry and next to Arnold, what's a guy got to do to get away from Governor pervert?

Or: What's the deal with my collar?






Locke Gets Around to Appointing People

I don't know anything about these people. They were both interim, so probably they were appointed late, so their term can go further. But I don't know in this instance.

Gov. Gary Locke on Tuesday announced the appointments of Will Rice as director of the state Department of Revenue and Linda Hoffman as the director of the state Department of Ecology. Both have been serving in those capacities on an interim basis -- Rice since December 2001, and Hoffman since October 2003.



What is it With Republicans and Pregnant Women?

So the US Senate votes today on a bill limiting the amount that an obstetrician can be sued for in cases of malpractice. So if a pregnant woman gets treated poorly and problems result the biggest lawsuit is $250,000. This is the same party whose membership regularly block abortion clinics. I mean when they try to do it for all doctors, fine they can be standing up for a principal. A stupid wrongheaded one, but a principal. But when they single out pregnant women, its just bullying.

Fortunately Patty Murray is standing up to this sort of crap. And it's another reason to vote against Nethercutt.



Budgets Out

The Senate has turned its back on our new economy," said Seattle Rep. Helen Sommers, House Democrats' budget chief. "It's turned its back on what we're hearing from business (is needed:) To provide the work force."

Senate Republicans proposed fewer policy changes to the two-year budget, and said their proposal would be the slowest growing budget in state history, with only $69 million in new spending. It would retain nearly $400 million in reserves.



Gregoire gets Several Union Endorsements

This is a nice thing for her. It's especially nice this early. All three were trying to get the nod, and this gives Gregoire a further leg up. I don't know if they want to back a winner, or if they genuinely think she's the best but, I suspect it's a little of each.

Three of the state's largest and most politically influential unions yesterday threw their weight behind Attorney General Christine Gregoire's gubernatorial campaign, further solidifying her status as the front-runner for the Democratic nomination.

The unusual early endorsement was issued by the Machinists union representing Boeing workers, the Washington Federation of State Employees and the Service Employees International Union. Together, they represent 144,000 workers and wield considerable political clout, especially for Democrats.



Monday, February 23, 2004

Highway Bill

You can complain about it, but you have to tell me what you'd cut, or how else you'd pay for it.

With more than $5 billion in federal highway and transit funding for Washington state at stake, Congress and the White House appear to be on a collision course over a six-year transportation bill.

The administration has threatened to veto any bill that is financed with an increase in the federal gasoline tax or any measure that significantly adds to the growing federal deficit.

But transportation bills traditionally have broad, bipartisan support on Capitol Hill. Talk of increasing the gas tax has been mostly fueled by the Republican chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, Rep. Don Young of Alaska.



Comanche helicopter Deal Nixed

Well I don't know what this does in terms of Puget Sound area jobs. The article didn't mention, so I assume nobody knows or at least is telling. And its possible that it won't hurt Boeing too much because the army will probably pick up the slack with Apache helicopters, and they are also made by Boeing.

The U.S. Army will shift $14.6 billion into other aircraft programs through 2011, acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee said Monday. Brownlee said the money would be used to buy 800 other aircraft, upgrade 1,400 existing helicopters and accelerate work on unmanned aerial vehicles.

The department has already spent about $8 billion on the project, and a Pentagon official said cost was one factor in canceling the program.

The U.S. Army had planned to buy more than 600 helicopters, down from about 1,200 at one point.



Primary Still Unconstitutional

The supreme court, SCOTUS if you're insane, refused to hear arguments about the blanket primary. This is no surprise to anyone I hope. Still it puts more pressure on the legislators to get something done in a hurry.



Sunday, February 22, 2004

Nader

So he's running. That's his right of course, but it's a mistake. I think we have to hit him back hard. So here's my proposal, and I'm not sure I like it. On Nov. 3rd, we should cut off support for Nader's organizations in states where the difference between Kerry or Edwards and Bush is greater than Nader's votes. And if Bush wins the popular vote by less than Nader gets, cut off all his support. I've already stopped supporting WashPIRG a couple years ago, so it isn't any skin off my back one way or another.



Gay Marriage

The Sunday Seattle Times has a rundown of where Washington's House and Senate delegation stand on gay marriage. They answered in terms of the amending the Constitution and gay marriage versus civil unions.

Like Smith, Rep. George Nethercutt, R-Spokane, doesn't support gay marriage, and he would not be in favor of amending the constitution, at least for now.

But a spokeswoman for Nethercutt, who is leaving his seat to challenge Democratic Sen. Patty Murray, said Nethercutt "would consider a constitutional amendment when one state's laws are forced on another state."

Some members of the delegation say any amendment banning gay marriage is discriminatory and un-American.

"I'm adamantly opposed to a constitutional amendment," said Rep. Brian Baird, D-Vancouver. "It would be the first time the Constitution would be amended to take away a fundamental human right."

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Bainbridge Island, wrote in an e-mail: "We have never amended the Constitution to deprive people of rights, and we shouldn't start now."

I'm not going to point out to Nethercutt how states impose their will on other states all the time. Boeing operates out of Illinois with their contract law. Marriages that take place in Nevada count in Washington even though there are less stringent requirements. I don't know what these people have against the full faith and credit clause of the Constitution.

Also I wonder if Sims could change the marriage licenses like they are doing in San Francisco. I mean I don't think our state constitution has the same protections as California. And we have a similar law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. So the obstacles would probably be tougher. And it might be the only thing that could give us a Rossi victory (eg popular with Democratic primary voters enough to push him over the edge, but not so among the electorate at large to give Rossi something to run on).



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