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Saturday, June 12, 2004

Alben Kick Off Monday

From his main page.

Kickoff BBQ
Monday, June 14, 5:30 pm,
Pickering Barn, 1730 10th Ave. NW, Issaquah
$25 per person; kids free



Occidental Park Renovations

Project for Public Spaces, a New York firm is proposing some changes to Occidental Park.

The year round ice skating rink seems nice. And I love the idea of bocce and chess in the park. I have no problem removing the railing.

But the removing trees, and the totem poll? Replacing cobblestones with astroturf? Removing the monument to the fallen Seattle firefighters? I can't get behind any of that.




Swedish and NW Looking at a Merging

"The merger is tentative. It's a letter of intent," said Dr. Nancy Auer, vice president of medical affairs at Swedish.

"We like each other, and we might want to get engaged," she said. "We're very hopeful that it's going to go through."


Edited to remove a typo



2004 Dem Platform

here(.pdf).



Art is hard on the Eastside

The Bellevue Art museum is having trouble.

A board member of the Bellevue Art Museum resigned this week, charging the museum leadership was bungling efforts to revive the Eastside institution.

In a scathing resignation letter, Seattle lawyer Gene Brandzel said he was leaving the board just a month after joining because future plans for the museum lacked a long-term vision, and the museum was in a perilous financial position. Brandzel had previously served on the board in the late '80s.

Things are dire enough it "destroys the hope that anyone who knows the financial facts should donate to BAM," Brandzel wrote in his letter dated Thursday.

The museum simply isn't as good as SAM (and that's tough). It also lacks the location. So even if it was brilliant it would probably be overshadowed by its neighbor across Lake Washington.



Friday, June 11, 2004

Bishop of Spokane Would Give Kerry the Eucharist

In the Inland Register, the Spokane Diocese's newspaper Bishop William S. Skylstad said he would give pro choice Catholic politicians the eucharist. He's also the vice president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for what it's worth.

The prophet Isaiah has that wonderful line about peace-making – turning swords into plowshares, spears into pruning hooks. In our present-day American society, particularly in regard to politics, I fear that we are reversing the situation, and taking God’s great gift to our Church and using it as a weapon of divisiveness and destruction.

I speak, of course, about the matter of Catholic political figures who have taken a pro-choice position with regard to abortion legislation, and whether they should be allowed to receive Communion in our churches.



Oly City Council Member Jeanette Hawkins Resigns

The link in the Daily O will change because of how they deal with breaking news.

Olympia City Councilwoman Jeanette Hawkins resigned Friday after more than 10 years in elected office.

In her resignation letter, Hawkins wrote:

“I have accepted a job with Edward Jones as an Investment Representative. The next year will involve preparing for this responsibility daily to secure my licenses, clientele and office location. I am very excited to be given such a wonderful opportunity for my family and myself with one of the best organizations to work for in our country.



Montana Primary Legal

So I know that most of the board is opposed to this system, or at least you were when the debate was raging in the legislature. Fine. Good for you. I have my problems with it too; I think some sort of IRV would be the best. But I support this over Cajun by a long shot.



Yeah Bush'll be here

He'll be in Spokane and Ft. Lewis. If anyone knows about protests being organized, give me a heads up, and I'll put it up for dozens of people to see.

...From martha in the comments:
Thursday, June 17 5:00pm
Spokane, WA
North Entrance of Riverfront Park (near Flour Mill).

Wear a blue shirt to show George Bush and George Nethercutt that Washington is a Blue State!

Sponsored by PJALS, State Labor Party, SCDCC, WSDCC.



Thoughts on the Campaign Questions

My own impressions are mostly positive, but as I’ve said many times before I’m pretty much a pushover for anyone with a (D) after their name. Gregoire’s answers were a bit more in depth, but it also took her campaign a couple weeks to do instead of a day or so in the case of Sims.

To the specifics: Brenda, who knows more about the public disclosure issue than me, didn’t think either candidate’s answers matched their actions in office. I thought the most revealing answers were to the question of controversial issues they faced. Sims had a good list and would be proud to do them again. The only thing I noticed is that he didn’t mention ST. Gregoire’s list included some things that weren’t exactly the most controversial. Going after child predators, way to take a stand. But I did like how she used it to talk about her leadership style.

I was glad they both took on the tax issue. While Sims’s plan was more ambitious, both of them seem to have good ideas in the area. In healthcare, Gregoire’s plan seemed more fleshed out, but Sims’s record with King County is a good one.

Would you like me to try this again? There aren’t too many contested primaries (all the AG campaigns didn’t answer an e-mail I sent them about gay marriage, and I don’t know how receptive the candidates in the 8th CD who aren’t Alben would be to a page that’s openly hoping he’ll win). If I do send out some more questions, there are a few things I’d have to think about:

*It’s probably a bad idea to ask for answers so close to a 3 day weekend.
*I don’t know what to do about the answers being so far apart. Putting a deadline seems wrong for two reasons: I don’t want to put up obstacles to people answering a few dozen hits a day web page. Also if a candidate missed the deadline, I’d need a writ of douchebaggery to keep it off the page, and that’s something I can’t invoke at the moment.
*I don’t know if a max word limit is appropriate. The same considerations apply.



Thursday, June 10, 2004

Gregoire Responds

#1- How would the tax structure change if you were governor? How would you go about changing it?

I think we need to move Washington in the right direction. That means a detailed and comprehensive plan to create 250,000 jobs in four years. As part of my “Putting Washington Back to Work” plan, I want to promote small business growth by revising the B&O tax exemptions and filing thresholds; centralize the collection of B & O taxes to simplify the process; and create a rainy day fund.

My leadership style is straightforward and effective. I believe in getting all interested parties around the table, reaching consensus and then moving forward. That’s the approach I’ll take as governor.

#2- What controversial issues would you take a stand on and show leadership? What controversial issues have you fought for in the past? Would you do it again?

I have never shied away from controversial issues nor will I as Governor. As Attorney General, I have tried to offer the right leadership for Washington state. That means standing up to the special interests.

Everyone told me we couldn’t win a lawsuit against big tobacco. But I saw what smoking did to my mom. And I saw my daughters’ friends beginning the same cycle of addiction and early death. I also heard the tobacco companies lying to adults and targeting our kids. So we took on big tobacco and we won.

I brought people together in a shared vision of environmental preservation to break a longstanding deadlock – and I mean years, not months -- on new shoreline protection rules that will leave an environmental legacy to all of our children. And when the federal government backed away from their promise to clean up the Hanford site, we took them on – and we won.

Because I saw a threat to Washington’s children, I created a high-tech crime unit to go after internet sex predators who prey on our kids. I also held the big drug companies accountable when they cheated our state’s seniors.

I did all these things because I believed it took Washington in the right direction.

Typically, my style is to involve as many interested people as possible and bring them to the table. Then, we work to find common ground among the parties. I am always willing, when needed, to take forceful action if parties cannot come together.

#3- Recent court decisions about the Public Disclosure Act have made it tougher for private citizens to access government documents. What do you think of this, and do you support the legislation Brian Sonntag is drafting to keep the spirit of the PDA intact? What changes if any to the PDA do you support?


I am a strong supporter of giving the public full access to public records. I believe we are served best by an open, accountable and efficient government.

My own office has earned several awards for effective management. I have also adopted “AgMap” technology, allowing us to increase transparency in the use of public dollars and insure that they are spent where they’re supposed to be.

#4- What will you do to provide healthcare for uninsured and underinsured Washingtonians?

My top priority is children. Children without health insurance are unable to get basic medical care for common conditions and often do not get the preventive services they need.

This is a real contrast from our Republican opponent, who proposed throwing 40,000 of Washington’s most vulnerable children off of health care. I don’t think those are the right values or the right direction for Washington state.

We are exploring a number of solutions to address the issue of making health insurance accessible and affordable for working people. Although I don’t want to reveal everything yet, our plan has several goals. These include: making insurance affordable for small businesses, helping small low wage employers and employees pay for their share of premiums, and supporting the Basic Health Plan approved by the voters. These are the changes that will help move Washington in the right direction.

#5 How will you fund K-12 Education? What will you do to keep tuition low in Washington State colleges and universities?

As the first member of my family to get a college education, I know the importance of an education. Working my way through college as a clerk/typist, I knew that my degree was the key to unlock opportunities that my parents never had.

The state constitutional language describing education as the “paramount duty” of the state is not only the law, it is wise. In the near future, I will be releasing my detailed and comprehensive plan for improving our state’s schools.

To move Washington’s schools in the right direction, my plan will offer specific proposals to expand capacity within our two- and four-year institutions, produce graduates more quickly and cost-effectively through increased efficiency, establish accountability for performance, create a balanced approach to funding, and focus on our dropout rate.



Not so Grass Roots After All

The Stranger has a whole series of things that the anti-monorail people are doing. Monorail Recall needs to pay people to gather signatures. I'm against the practice in theory, but I don't think that it necessarily makes your organization bad. The group is based out of Tacoma, so there's a strike against them. They are getting much of their money from property developers. But what takes the cake is the main proponent drives a beast.

He may have another interest in killing the monorail as well. He owns a gas-guzzling Hummer. So, thanks to the monorail's 1.4 percent motor vehicle excise tax, Kettlewell pays at least $1,280 in monorail tax. That's a lot of cash. He'd probably rather spend it on gas for his 10 mpg steel beast.

"Two fill-ups of that Hummer would pay for my MVET," says Monorail Now leader Sherwin, referring to the monorail tax.

"That's funny," Kettlewell says, "but it has nothing to do with why I'm against the monorail. What I drive is of no interest to anybody."

Actually, it is interesting that a leader in the monorail recall effort drives a Hummer. Heck, if the monorail agency succeeds at nixing a traffic lane along its downtown route to accomadate a bike lane, I imagine Kettlewell wont have enough room to drive his oversized Hummer there.



Chad Johnson's Monorail Rant

It's a good one.



Tent City Legal

It can stay at St. Brendan.



Bush'll be in Eastern WA Probably

Nethercutt's people have announced that they will have a "Tribute to Leadership" (or Tribute to Fundraisers, whatever you want to call it) that will include George W. Bush next Thursday. Problem is Bush won't confirm or deny it. He releases his schedules on Friday for the next week. This practice strikes me as bizarre. And didn't we know that he was going to be at McCaw's more than a week in advance?



Question

So the Times had this article about how much money Rossi and Gregoire are raising. I probably wasn't going to even mention it until I ran across this:

The national Republican Governors Association (RGA) aims to raise a lot of money for Rossi. He will be the featured guest next month at a fund-raising dinner the RGA is planning in Seattle next month to coincide with the National Governors Association annual convention. Tickets range from $5,000 to $25,000.

Isn't that a bit over the legal limit? If I recall correctly you can raise $600 for the primary and $600 for the general. My numbers may be off, but I'm pretty sure they aren't that far off. So my question is what gives?



WARNING! Trains are dangerous!

The family of a young person who was killed by a train at Golden Gardens Park three years ago is now suing the railroad and apparently are preparing to sue the City of Seattle over her death.

I don't mean to be unsympathetic, but how do you raise a child without teaching her that trains are dangerous and one shouldn't walk on the tracks? I learned this lesson at a very early age, even though the nearest tracks were over 30 miles away. It appears to me that this is another case where the plaintiffs are looking for deep pockets to absolve a case of very poor judgment.



Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Even More UW Medicare Fraud

Holy cats. I knew it was bad but I had no idea it was this prevalent.

A woman with the lyrical name of Swannee Rivers opened her front door one day in 2002, and there stood two FBI agents. Finally! she thought, her heart racing. “You don’t know how long I’ve been waiting for this day,” she told them later, sitting on the long couch in the rec room of her split-level home in Renton. She began to pour out the story she would later tell a 2003 federal grand jury, detailed here for the first time: how University of Washington doctors routinely falsified Medicare insurance bills, how office workers were told to forge doctors’ names on billing documents, how bills were “re-created” for procedures done as long as seven years earlier, how “surprise” visits by federal auditors were quietly announced by UW officials weeks in advance, and how everybody—everybody—at UW Physicians, the medical school’s billing office and nexus of the fraud scheme, knew UW had been methodically cheating the government, and taxpayers, for a decade.

...

Erickson, 35, who, like Rivers, tried to find a cure within the system, filed a sealed whistle-blowers’ lawsuit in 1999 and became an FBI informant. “Some of these fraudulent practices were so well entrenched at UWP they became almost standard business practice,” Erickson says. Sending charts back to doctors to have them “post-documented” to justify unwarranted charges, he said, was even detailed in some job descriptions. Under the False Claims Act in which a whistle-blower shares in any fines, Erickson is about to receive $7 million for his effort, netting about half that amount after taxes and legal costs. He calls the civil fine and plea-bargained criminal cases only “a partial repayment” of what UW wrought. “I do believe that the [U.S. attorney’s] office was put in a difficult position and had to mitigate the effect on the community,” Erickson says. Prosecutors were creative with their settlement plans, “but they may have been too lenient.” The University of Pennsylvania was fined a then-record $30 million in 1995 for similar violations, based on treble damages of $10 million in overbilling, as determined by a federal audit process known as PATH—Physicians at Teaching Hospitals, also used in the UW case. UW’s settlement agreement, says Erickson, “doesn’t even come close to single damages” for its overbilling, estimated to be more than $50 million. (UW calls such a figure an exaggeration.) “I believe that there are many more doctors in many departments who could have found themselves facing criminal charges,” Erickson says.



Charter School Initiative

I'm so glad we have yet another yes is no initiative. This fun practice started with I-200 (at least to my memory, maybe it was longer), but man it just keeps on going. Yes on the initiative is repeal the law and no is keep it on the books. So the group that was gathering signatures are now the vote no people. I know how I want to vote, but damn, I'll probably screw it up and end up voting for charter schools.



Nancy Pearl Retiring

It's so sad.



Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Cantwell and Inslee want Enron to Refund PUD

They have both been working on this for a while. Inslee since before Enron collapsed. But with the leak of the tapes they are using the moment to push for refunds. Inslee will be introducing an amendment, and has set just the right tone:

Inslee, also a Democrat, said he has an amendment that he wants added to the federal energy bill that would make it illegal for Houston-based Enron Corp. to recoup money that it bilked from utilities such as the PUD.

If assets can be found, the legislation would also force Enron to refund the PUD as much as $10 million. That's the amount PUD officials estimate they were overcharged during the eight months they bought power from Enron.

...

"These people at Enron make OPEC look like Girl Scouts," Inslee said, taking umbrage at transcripts that show chortling Enron traders explaining how they were driving up energy prices.



Compton Proposes Seattle Become Internet Wholesaler

He thinks providing access would be cheaper than many people can get now. It would also generate money for the city.



Ramsey Knew About Fraud in 1998

He got a letter in 1998 dealing with some charges. While these specific charges weren't true, instead of finding out if there was a larger context, Dean Ramsey decided no more investigation was necessary.



Monday, June 07, 2004

Kagi Kick-Off Sunday

State Rep Ruth Kagi kicks off her re-election campaign Sunday, June 27th at 2:00. It's at the Shoreline Children's Center 1900 N. 170th.



Tight Presidential Race, Senate Wide Open

According to a diary at Kos, King 5 and Survey USA did a poll that shows Kerry ahead of Bush 49-44 and Murray up on Nethercutt 49-34. It doesn't say what the MOE is, so Bush may be closer than it looks.

And the Senate numbers are with Nethercutt's ad blitz and heavy campaigning while Patty hasn't kicked her campaign into high gear. So you can judge for yourself how effective the "vote for me my daughter has diabetes" and "vote for me I can run" ads were.



Now that's a law!

Here's the law:

"It shall be unlawful for any person to operate a motor vehicle upon the highways of this state when such person has in his or her embrace another person which prevents the free and unhampered operation of such vehicle. Operation of a motor vehicle in violation of this section is prima facie evidence of reckless driving."

My interpretation: Keep your hands on the wheel.



Cantwell and Snohomish PUD want Enron Tapes Released

I hope they get them released.



Labor Divided in 36th

Since Sommers opposed the home healthcare workers' raises, among other things, some in labor leaders are opposed to re-electing her. They'll come together after the primary, but for now many are supporting Alice Woldt.



Draft EIS for Viaduct Replacement

It apparently pissed a few people off. There is a group of business owners along the waterfront who think that the viaduct should be closed during the replacement. Some other groups want a smaller road where the viaduct is now. The proposal is 4 lanes, and the groups want 2. My plan remains do effin something.



Barbieri Volunteer Meeting

The Spokane County Young Dems have the details.

If you are interested in volunteering for Barbieri for Congress, you should attend a volunteer meeting on Thursday, June 10th from 6:30pm to 7:30pm. The meeting will be held at Barbieri Headquarters (719 W Main). Eat some pizza and learn about how you can help the campaign. Don Barbieri has been endorsed by the Spokane County Young Democrats.



Sunday, June 06, 2004

On the Books

277 new laws will be officially on the books this week.



Tacoma Schools in the red

The district must fill a $6.1 million gap between state basic education revenues and the cost of maintaining services next year. Three main factors are causing the shortfall: increased special-education costs, rising employee expenses that exceed revenues and a decline in enrollment, which will result in less state money.

...

Administrators are proposing more than two dozen cost-cutting measures ranging from reducing central administration costs to hiring fewer administrator substitutes when school principals are ill or gone from the building.


The district also plans to eliminate the equivalent of at least 31 full-time teaching positions, mostly due to the enrollment drop.



Platform Fights and Governor Candidate Speeches

Sounds like the convention is a blast. Too bad I'm not there.



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