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Saturday, March 27, 2004

Crazy

The PI has a great if scary article about a lobbyist for the poor, the disabled and children. While it's nice what she does, it delves into lawmaking in the state. At times it gets into law and sausages territory.

Greeting a disabled woman here to testify on a bill, the oft-intense Johns-Brown is suddenly relaxed and casual. Bringing "ordinary" people before politicians is an important tactic for most lobbyists, especially with low-budget advocates like Johns-Brown. But Johns-Brown also seems genuinely pleased to be talking with an Olympia outsider for a change.

Johns-Brown testifies on the bill -- which already blew deadline and is dead for the year -- as a courtesy. After all, Johns-Brown helped write the hearsay law that some want to expand.

In some states, lobbyists and their special interests shy away from admitting their direct role in crafting legislation. Not in Washington.



Teachers to put out Anti Charter School Initiative

I for one couldn't be more thrilled. While the charter schools bill passed out of the legislature isn't as bad as some similar bills in other states, it's still got problems. The main one is accountability. Schools in districts are directly accountable to the district. When they screw up we can run the bums out of office, like Seattle voters (and to a lesser extent voters elsewhere in the state) did last November. The charter schools to be created under the new law don't have that kind of accountability.

I'm all for school districts being more creative, and more flexible. The best way to do that is to elect flexible, creative people to the school board. Demand that they appoint flexible, creative people to other positions. Demand that they come up with creative solutions to our problems.

The other thing is for the state to give them the money to work for tough to educate kids. This is also something that the state teachers want to. So the teachers are being serious on both counts. The state hasn't been.



Friday, March 26, 2004

Road Money

If the US House of Representatives gets its way, the Federal government will give the Puget Sound area $275 billion for highways. That's less than the Senate proposal, so it'll probably be even more. I'd of course like to see more rapid transit. But if the Feds are going to spend money on roads, they might as well spend it here.



They Seem to have the Vapors

Yikes

CH2M Hill, the engineering firm working on the 177 buried storage tanks at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, said it "has stopped all routine operations" after three workers were exposed to vapors and sent to the hospital Thursday.

"Only essential workers will be in the field," CH2M Hill said in a statement. "These workers will have respiratory protection when entering tank farms. We are evaluating the situation and will determine the appropriate precautions moving forward."



Teamsters Are Picketing Waste Facilities

Local 174, which represents nearly 200 solid-waste division workers, isn't on strike. But the picketing conducted by the union could deter private citizens -- and even unionized drivers of garbage hauling firms -- from entering the landfill and the 10 transfer stations where the protests will occur.

"We are not asking any workers to withhold their labor from their employers," said Bob Hasegawa, an official of Local 174, which represents truck drivers and other workers at the disposal sites. "But we are asking the public not to patronize the county."

The Teamsters accuse the county of unfair labor practices for its plan to impose, starting Thursday, what the union calls "numerous unilateral changes to our work hours and shifts, overtime pay, job bidding rules by the county, safety conditions, basic job security and more."



Bike Cop Patrols Won't Increase in Cal Anderson Park

This is just the sort of thing that makes civic activists go crazy. The people of the area felt that making Cal Anderson park free of junkies was a higher priority than renovation it. And they felt increasing the bike patrols would be a better way to go. So naturally the city disagreed.

Last fall, residents in the East Precinct, which includes trouble spots such as Broadway on Capitol Hill and the Madison corridor in the Central Area, organized in large numbers to complain about drug use at neighborhood parks and increasing violence.

Licata, who chairs the council's public-safety committee, suggested taking one-third of $1.2 million already approved for playfield renovation at Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill and using it to pay for extra police bicycle officers.

...

It makes no sense to Brad Trenary, a Capitol Hill resident who is crusading to clean up Cal Anderson Park, where heroin use and transients are prevalent.

"The playfield got screwed out of $430,000 and we didn't get any public safety," he said. "Because of our activism and our work, it actually cost us $430,000."

Trenary was one of 40 to 50 people who met three times this winter with city officials, after the money was frozen, to come up with solutions to the East Precinct's crime problems. Paying for extra bicycle cops was one of the group's primary requests.

"This is a terrible squandering of civic activism," Trenary said. "We had a very significant group of people committed to this. We were trying to work in good faith with our government and our leaders, and in fact, they turned their backs on us."



Slow Down

You may have noticed the quality of posts here degrading since the legislature adjourned. I mean movie theater bills? And it'll only get worse once Locke's finished signing bills. It will probably stay that way until the campaigns start to heat up. Add to that the fact that my real life is going to keep me busy for the next couple months.

So after this weekend, I'm going to slow down the pace of posting considerably. It's not a hiatus, and I'll definitely post when I have the time. But there may be a string of days where I don't post. There may be some times when I just throw up the occasional open thread. I realize this isn't the best way to greet the people coming here because skippy was nice enough to throw me a link, but c'est la ville.



Thursday, March 25, 2004

State Audit Finds Fault With Ferries

The state auditor released a report yesterday on agencies (I couldn't find the report on the auditor's web page). And while there is apparently a lot in the report, one of the agencies taken to task the hardest is the state ferries.

With ticket sales of more than $115 million a year and 190 ticket clerks, the state needs much better safeguards, the report said.

In comments published with the report, the ferry system objected to the findings.

"Management has balanced considerations of cost, benefit and risk, and believes the current system of internal controls is adequate. ... The fact that no significant employee theft losses have been discovered in the 18 years the auditors have reported this condition underscores this assessment."

Edited to fix some grammar.



Bills Locke Signed

Mostly they were pretty bland but I was surprised that one wasn't illegal already. And do you have to put "would make" for a bill that the governor just signed into law? Isn't will make more appropriate?

- Senate Bill 6378, outlawing the use of video cameras in movie theaters. The bill by Sen. Luke Esser, R-Bellevue, would make recording a movie punishable by as much as a year in jail and a $5,000 fine.



$500 is a Pretty Pathetic Bribe

A complaint was filed with the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission yesterday, alleging that Mayor Greg Nickels and the Vulcan corporation have violated the city's election code in connection with contributions the company made to Nickels' office fund while doing business with the city.

According to the complaint, filed by the Seattle Displacement Coalition, Vulcan made two contributions of $250 each to the Mayor's Office fund. The first donation was made in April 2002, and the second was made in March 2003.

Soon after the complaint was filed, a spokeswoman for Nickels' office said the office is returning the $500 to Vulcan. Spokeswoman Marianne Bichsel said officials in the Mayor's Office don't think the contributions were improper, but she said the "appearance could be there."



A Bit Early Governor?

Locke Endorses Sidrian. Aside from the fact that this is pretty early, it's also the wrong person. I mean they are both "moderate" Democrats, but they are very different moderates. Locke is a meet the other guy half way type and Sidrian is an agree with the other guy on many issues moderate. Sidrian's positions seem to be from the heart (although it is a heart of stone) while Locke's are more political, and in the spirit of compromise (or kowtow, after 695).



Wednesday, March 24, 2004

Nickels Afraid of Monorail?

In tomorrow's Stranger, Josh Feit has a column about the Monorail EIS. He says that the council will likely approve it but that Nickels' lieutenants are trying to delay the process. He says there is a Drago/Licata alliance (!) for keeping moving forward on the project and that they should be enough to overcome a mayor with cold feet.



Ha!

I love it. Several church leaders from various faiths want the state to allow gay marriage



Sims Sues State Over I-885 Title

Ron Sims feels the title of I-885 that "would authorize licensed non-tribal gambling establishments to operate the same type and number of electronic lottery machines as tribal governments, using generated state revenue to reduce the state property tax levy." isn't sufficient. It doesn't tell people how much more gambling would be allowed.



Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Yes!

The UW student workers have decided to unionize. 1391 out of 2370 people voted in favor. They'll be representation represented by the UAW at the bargaining table, and while that seems a bit odd to me, if it's what they wanted, more power to them.

... Check out the comments, grad student and regular commenter KevinCorvey goes into greater detail. (With the usual caveats of course. On the web nobody knows you're a dog.)



Dearest Monorail Recall,

The monorail is under budget at this point. They have found many things that cut costs since the voters approved the green line. These seem to me to be the opposite of "significant financial problems." If there was no cost would you call it a crisis? If the monorail were to make money would you call it Armageddon?

Kisses,

Carl Ballard



Mark Emmert is Saying the Right Things

He's both acknowledging that there's a way to go, and laying out basic principals. It's still general at this point. Obviously, we'll have to see what he can implement. If he can right the course of the athletic department, and keep tuition from increasing further it'll be good.

The Tacoma native and UW alumnus said his first priority will be to get familiar with the university's culture and community. Emmert said his long-term goal is for the institution to be "an excellent university in all that it does," one that "stands shoulder to shoulder with the finest public universities in the country," such as the University of California, Berkeley.

"The next step is not a tall one, but an important one," said Emmert, 51.

He acknowledged the difficulty of persuading state lawmakers to boost spending on higher education, but said he would take the same approach he used in Louisiana — making citizens and lawmakers alike aware of the economic, cultural and social impacts of a healthy university system.

...

Tuition levels at the UW are "very disconcerting," Emmert said, adding that the university should have "the greatest flexibility" with tuition rates to ensure equity.

"We're not creating it to be a University of Washington for rich people. We're creating it to be a University of Washington for the citizens of the state," he said.



Monday, March 22, 2004

Money

The Bremerton Sun has an interesting article on campaign fundraising. I had had it in my mind that Rossi had already passed Gregoire in cash on hand, so good news that he hasn't. (Tip of the hat to the Democracy for Washington blog. And a note, guys get some comments.)

Gregoire's rivals for the Democratic nomination, meanwhile, continue to trail badly, even though they haven't been subject to the freeze. King County Executive Ron Sims had just over $377,000 in hand at the beginning of this month, while former Supreme Court Justice Phil Talmadge had just $58,000.

Gregoire's campaign expects money to come pouring in when the freeze lifts early in April. It's even possible that pent-up support may propel her back into the fund-raising lead by summer.

"We don't anticipate any difficulty after the freeze at all," said Tim Zenk, Gregoire's campaign chairman.

With the office open for the first time since 1996, and the most viable Republican candidate in more than a decade, the race could be the most expensive gubernatorial contest in state history.



Preventing Oil Spills

Remember that oil spill off the coast of Edmonds a few months back? The union who works there has apparently been demanding greater staffing for environmental reasons for years.

The Inlandboatmen's Union, which represents tankermen, has said for years that double staffing should be the rule.

"For prevention purposes, it's better to have two individuals on every barge," said Stuart Downer, business agent for the IBU.



Yikes

Sound Transit is having more troubles. The PI is reporting that problems at ST led to severe problems with service on the Tacoma-Seattle commuter rail.

The Sounder track between Seattle and Tacoma is 40 miles long, but a single 1.3-mile segment, built by Sound Transit, that was rushed into service has caused headaches for the agency.

The new track segment in the Tacoma Tideflats opened Sept. 15. Less than a week later, it was the scene of a Sounder derailment that was blamed on a conductor. But documents reviewed by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer revealed that other factors -- such as insufficient start-up testing and beginning service before construction was done -- may have contributed. Soon after the derailment, trains had to be pulled off the tracks and diverted to a temporary station because of a sinking earthen embankment.



Just A Heads Up

Governor Locke will be on Weekday tomorrow. I couldn't find the info on their site, though so it's from memory. If you want to call and ask him or email him you can start thinking of questions now.



How Many Times

Does the Supreme Court have to reject the blanket primary?



Sunday, March 21, 2004

Panel Recommends Appointing King County Sheriff

Last week the King County Commission on Governance recommended the sheriff again be appointed because he or she doesn't set countywide policy, the criteria it used to determine which offices should be elective or appointive.

The sheriff's position is technical, instead, requiring specific knowledge and background, it reasoned. The sheriff was the only office the commission recommended changing.



Viaduct

There is a new group, the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Coalition. They are trying to get funding from state and federal governments to replace the viaduct.

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels and the group, chaired by retired attorney Dick Ford, held a news conference yesterday to discuss the viaduct's condition and plans for funding its replacement, a major construction project that Nickels said he expects will begin in 2008.

So if everything goes according to plan we can't expect anything to happen until 2008. If there's an earthquake in the next 4 years, it could be hundreds dead if it's rush hour. That's assuming that the funding comes through, and that there are no delays.



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