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Saturday, January 22, 2005

Gregoire's Healthcare Plan 

She announced it a couple days ago. I only stumbled on it looking for her response to Bush's radio address. Because the last time we had a Washington Governor respond to Bush, it um didn't go that well.

Gregoire’s executive request legislation for Washington residents include:

·Private Participation in Public Employees Benefits Board (PEBB) Programs – This legislation would allow private employers to purchase health insurance benefits for themselves and their employees and families through the programs administered through the state;
·Importation of Prescription Drugs from Canadian Wholesalers – This bill will direct the state Board of Pharmacy to submit a waiver request to the federal Food and Drug Administration to authorize the state of Washington to license Canadian prescription drug wholesalers;
·Prescription Drug Purchasing Consortium – This bill is intended to help make prescription drugs more affordable and would authorize the Health Care Authority to adopt policies necessary to establish a prescription drug-purchasing consortium. The consortium would build on the evidence-based prescription drug program and its preferred drug list; and
·Long-term Care Task Force – This proposal would create a long-term care task force to develop recommendations on public and private mechanisms for financing long-term care, particularly in rural communities, and providing disability prevention interventions and chronic-care management that can reduce need for long-term care.



Friday, January 21, 2005

Rural Washington is Dying 

I'm not sure how I missed it yesterday, but Feit has an article in this weeks' Stranger about the troubles in rural Washington. He gets the tone about right when he concludes:

I've got no sympathy for Douglas County. It voted 70.3 percent in favor of I-695 and 69.9 percent for I-747. The county went 66 percent for Bush, who has cut taxes by $1.9 trillion helping create a $412 billion deficit. The next time the mainstream media runs a sob story about Douglas County, it should also tell readers about the county's hypocritical votes and, on an inextricably linked note, its hypocritical values.
I only read it because goldy at Horses Ass thinks leadership is needed. And in short supply.

Yes I know that I am generalizing; there are some politicians willing to speak out on these issues, but rarely loud enough. For when someone like Ron Sims does, we the people take out his knees, desperately angry at the messenger for telling us what we don’t want to hear. Meanwhile, the politicians who lie the best, we reward the most. There is an odd, pathological symbiosis between us voters and our elected officials, that I would say is suggestive of the “Stockholm Syndrome” if only I could figure out who has been taken hostage by whom.



What he said 

Dean Nielsen over at Progressive Majority Washington points out even more reasons why the re-vote is a sham.

For example, I wouldn't want to disenfrancise Sgt. Jay Anthony Blessing, from Tacoma, who died in Afganistan on Nov. 14th, Spc. Harley Miller, of Spokane, who died Nov. 27 also in Afganistan, Staff Sgt. Kyle Eggers of Yakima, killed Dec. 4 in Iraq (and the son-in law of Yakima City Council member Susan Whitman), Spc. Blain Ebert, of Washtucna, who died Nov. 22 from injuries suffered in Iraq, Marine Staff Sgt. David Ries of Vancouver, WA, who was killed Nov. 8 in Iraq, pfc. Andrew Ward, of Kirkland, who was killed Dec. 5 in Iraq, Marine Lance Cpl. Nathan Wood, also of Kirkland, who was killed Nov. 9 in Iraq, or Pfc. Curtis Wooten III, of Spanaway, who was killed Jan 4 in Iraq.



Attempted Extortion 

Good work Republicans.

In the first major day of court action in the case, Bridges denied a Republican request to expedite the schedule for collecting evidence and taking depositions. Attorneys representing some of the 39 counties named in the suit told Bridges that the requests have been overwhelming, particularly in small counties. One even accused Republicans of attempted extortion, saying the party offered to cut back its information request in exchange for the county agreeing not to fight some issues in court.

...

But attorney Greg Banks, representing Island County, said Republicans were "extorting stipulations out of the counties" and that it was unfair to ask for more evidence from "counties that didn't knuckle under to this."



Performance Audits 

Performance audits are probably going to pass under Democratic control of the house, senate, governor's mansion. It won't change the perception of us as big spenders, because we are. At least compared to the Republicans. Government actually works for people under Democrats. And yeah it costs more to insure kids then to have them sick all the time. It costs more to have transit (roads and mass) than not. It costs more to have a good fire department than to have your neighborhood burn down.

The reason the audits are good is because they allow us to do all the things that the state does more efficiently. That means that we can do more for the people, or do the same for less cost. And so I think that auditing the tax cuts is a great idea.

So did State Auditor Brian Sonntag, a Democrat who has long championed performance audits. Currently Sonntag is barred from conducting performance audits, although the state's Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee has conducted 140 such audits since 1990, with a claimed savings of approximately $500 million. And in the last two legislative sessions, a performance-audits bill drawn up by state representative Mark Miloscia (D-Federal Way) has passed the Dem-controlled state house unanimously, only to die in the Republican-controlled state senate. A bill pressed by state representative Jim McIntire (D-NE Seattle), that would create performance audits of the state's tax breaks for various businesses, has been blocked by Republicans as well.



Thursday, January 20, 2005

Thinking Out Loud Again 

This time on healthcare. It's absolutely something that should be sooner rather than later, or really 40 years ago. But while George W. Bush is president and Congress is controlled by the Republicans, that isn't going to happen. And with a risk averse Governor and not too much money, and the fact that Democrats been chastened once before on this issue, it probably won't happen in the state for a while.

So the next step down is the county. Why not at least push King County to have universal care? I know it leaves a lot of people out. It isn't something the county has specific responsibility for in its charter.

There are a few pieces of good news. First, we don't have to convince Ferry County residents, or anyone in Eastern Washington, to come along, so the political will may be more palatable. Also, we could pay for it with a property tax, and that's a bit more fair than a sales tax.

With Sims at the helm it'll be a tough fight. He isn't exactly making noise on healthcare. Despite what you may have heard in the primary, he's a moderate on many things.



Pacific Northwest Inlander 

I feel bad about not giving Eastern Washington enough time. But I'm a Westside boy. The furthest East I've been in the state is North Bend. And since the Spokesman Review decided to charge for its content, there's been even less. But I'm thrilled that the Spokane County Young Democrats linked to the Pacific Northwest Inlander. And I love it!



Trial Lawyers 

Shaun points out this article in the Weekly about the Republican lawsuits. He points out that there are so many Republican lawyers that they had to change venues. Then he connects it to tort reform.

Every time a Republican legislooter in Olympia dares to so much as mumble 'tort reform' during this session, we should drown out the words in a chorus of criticism of their Party's penchant for judge shopping and the resulting strain on the municipal infrastructure of a rural county.
I just re-read Dan Savage's book Skipping Towards Gomorrah. There's a section about Jimmy Swaggart and the "virtucrats" wanting to ban sins that other people enjoy because they can't stop themselves from using it. Maybe that's how Republicans are with trial lawyers. Also, Dan, in the unlikely event that you're reading this, for the next book, if it's not too much trouble, could you include an index please?

To be fair, for some of the high-profile virtuous, living an upright life may not make them all that happy. In fact, it may make some of them miserable. There may be conservative pundits out there who desire to smoke dope or sleep around but deny themselves these pleasures, and these public calls for virtue are simply an externalization of their own inner struggle to be good. "Our virtues are most frequently but vise disguised," wrote La Rochefoucauld in his Maxims (1665) , a point driven home by former television evangelist Rev. Jimmy Swaggart. Swaggart, you'll recall, condemned pornography and prostitution for years, and then was caught visiting prostitutes and "consuming" pornography. Swaggart had deeply conflicted feelings about pornography and prostitution, and he called for the more restrictive laws against both in hopes that the state might help keep him right with God. But those of us who enjoy pornography and prostitutes without conflict shouldn't have to go without to protect Swaggart from himself.



Open Thread 

Light posting until late night edition.



Murray Says $1 Billion for Tunnel for 99 not Going to Happen 

But the mayor's office isn't convinced.



Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Tent City Hearings 

It's a bit of late notice, but the senate will take it up tomorrow.

The Senate Financial Institutions, Housing & Consumer Protection Committee, chaired by Fairley, has scheduled the hearing at 10 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 20, in Senate Hearing Room 2 of the John A. Cherberg Building in Olympia.



Plea Agreement 

Blogger seems to have eaten my last post, so here we go again: William Scheyer, the Softball doctor who gave the ladies on the team illegal prescription drugs, plead guilty.



Poverty in America Awareness Month 

Values. From an editorial in the Progress, the paper for the Seattle Archdiocese:

At this time each year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) sponsors “Poverty in America Awareness Month.” According to the most recent census figures, 35.9 million Americans now live below the poverty threshold, a 1.3 million increase over last year’s number. The government-defined threshold in 2003 was $18,810 for a family of four, $12,015 for a family of two.

As part of this awareness campaign, CCHD commissions a survey, or “poverty pulse.”
According to this year’s survey, more than six in 10 Americans believe there will be even more people living in poverty four years from now. There was all but unanimous opinion among the 1,004 adults surveyed that something ought to be done; 97 per cent said it was very important or somewhat important to decrease or eliminate poverty in the United States.
But a great disparity exists about the top five problems facing America, as identified by those that could help, and those needing help.

The general public listed the economy, war, government/politics, immorality and terrorism.
The experts on poverty – the poor themselves –had a totally different perspective. The top five problems facing Americans, according to low-income Americans, are: unemployment/low wages, health care, education, discrimination, and poverty.

Commenting on the results of the survey, Father Robert J. Vitillo, CCHS executive director, said: “What is particularly striking to me is that the general public does not even seem to connect its concerns about the economy with the ongoing drain and burden placed by the long-term cycle of poverty on the overall economic and social well-being of our nation.”



Tooth Fairy 

Geez. The Republicans are pretty pathetic. They claim to have a list of military voters who weren't able to vote, but they won't show it to anybody (special note to Republicans, if they were at Ft. Lewis, instead of Iraq they wouldn't have these problems -- yeah they're made up, but still something to consider before the midterms if you really care about making sure they can vote). But Preemptive Karma lets us know that not only is Tyler Farmer, the poster boy for the Republican problems wrong (he had 2 more weeks to get his ballot faxed back when he threw it out), but the Republicans haven't even helped the people they claim are on their list.

Rossi and the people in his office are using the Farmer case as a "poster boy" for military voter disenfranchisement. Yet when I asked Chris Hanzeli what official offices these voters were sent to for redress for their complaints, Hanzeli told me that they just took down their names and information.

Rossi and Washington State Republicans are asking the public to believe they are indignant about these voters being disenfranchised even though the military voters had multiple opportunities and access. They want us to believe that they are fighting for the rights of our soldiers to vote, despite not having bothered to help them report their alledged voting problems to the military or county elections officials.

Perhaps next time I contact Rossi's office, I should ask to speak to the Tooth Fairy or the Easter Bunny.



Lumber Mill and Power Plant 

And 200 jobs may be coming to Everett.



Team Monorail 

Ok, remember how I didn't want anything to do with you guys a while ago? Well now I do! Competition is good, of course. But I do wish they'd been around the whole time.

Team Monorail, one of the original two consortiums of construction and engineering companies vying for the work, has asked the Seattle Monorail Project to "revisit the current procurement, reissue or modify the (request for proposals) ... and invite (competing Cascadia Monorail Co.) and Team Monorail to submit proposals," Team Monorail Vice President Denis Bouvette wrote in a letter to the agency late last week.

The idea is being floated at a time when the monorail agency is entering its sixth month of contract negotiations with Cascadia, the lone surviving team to submit a proposal. Monorail officials yesterday ruled out any immediate move to rebid the work or take another look at Team Monorail.



Tuesday, January 18, 2005

There is no Crisis 

Taking a minute out of Washington State blogging to remind you that there is no crisis in social security.



Back End 

I've been adding links to the blogger roll, and doing some other back end stuff. If you see anything funky, a heads up would be much appreciated.



5.8% 

The unemployment rate is up again.

The state's unemployment in December was 5.8 percent, an increase of one-tenth of a percentage point from November, according to data released by the state Employment Security Department. That marks the second month in a row that the rate has edged upward -- it was 5.6 percent in October.



That's a Long Way for Junk 

But Hawaii's trash may end up in Idaho. And, it will probably come through the port of Longview. Sort of. At some point.

Idaho Waste Systems, Inc., of Mountain Home, Idaho, has been pursuing the idea of shipping bales of trash from Honolulu to Longview or Rainier. At either location, the garbage would be transferred to rail cars and shipped to a landfill 25 miles east of Boise.

Honolulu, which handles solid waste on the island of Oahu, has no current plans to ship trash, but companies on the U.S. mainland have made unsolicited proposals to the city-county government. It grapples with a rapidly filling landfill and limited space, said Eric Natamura, Honolulu Director of Environmental Services.



Election Reform Laws 

With the close election exposing many of the problems that happen every election, there are many ideas coming from the legislature to fix some of the problems.

More than a dozen bills are in the works, including proposals that would require that absentee ballots be received by Election Day and measures that would move the primary election to an earlier date.

"Voters deserve to feel like we've paid attention to what happened and we're at least going to fix what we can fix," said House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.

No amount of new legislation, however, can completely prevent problems from cropping up in an election like the one between Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire and Republican Dino Rossi, election officials say. Gregoire won by 129 votes. The Republicans are contesting the election in court.

"It's important not to set up a false expectation," King County Elections Director Dean Logan said yesterday. "When you're dealing with a process that is so dependent on human interactions ... there is going to be a margin of human and administrative error."
I'm still opposed to having absentee ballots in on election day. I mean in the primary (and now with the new Cajun primary, also the general) I often take a hell of a lot of time agonizing over who I'll vote for. Sometimes I want to be able to see how people will react right up until election day, and I want to vote absentee. Also it'll be more likely to screw up our military ballots. It will get the ballots out earlier (assuming there's the same primary date) but it will also push forward the deadline from the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November to a more foggy date earlier.

The earlier primary, I have no problem with. You might have to make adjustments as to when elected officials can raise money, but bumping it up a few mounts wouldn't really be bad. Although my favorite person who carries a gun so she doesn't have to shoot anybody doesn't like it.

State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, doesn't like the idea of holding the primary in early summer. That would push back the filing deadline for lawmakers running for office, she said. "You'd have every legislator running for office in the middle of the [legislative] session," she said.
...Edited clarity on what the hell I was opposed to.



Protest in Vancouver 

DFV has the details if you want to vent your anger over the inauguration but can't make it out to DC.



Sierra Club Environmental Briefing/ Lobbying Training 

Evergreen Politics has the scoop on how you can get involved in this citizen activism.



Standardizing Sex Ed 

Rep. Shay Schual-Berke is introducing a bill that would standardize sex ed. in Washington schools. I'm not sure I understand the teaching of everything. I mean abstinence should maybe be mentioned, but it isn't as important as giving effective info to children. But in general it seems good.

The bill is based on voluntary sex education guidelines recommended by the Washington State Department of Health and Superintendent of Public Instruction released Thursday. The bill, however, requires schools that teach any form of sex education to teach a comprehensive, medically and scientifically accurate curriculum based on the state guidelines.

Sex education is optional in Washington state public schools. The only requirement is an AIDS education program.
Terry Bergeson is worried that if the law is put into effect, districts will shy away from teaching sex ed. at all. Honestly, I think nothing is better than just telling kids to not have sex and leaving it at that (although both are bad).

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson said it was too soon to start making requirements for sex education.

"I'm afraid some of the districts, rather than revamp their program, won't teach sex education at all," said Bergeson. "(Because) if they do, they have to use these guidelines."



Light Posting 

Sorry, internet and power were out. I'm back now but the rain is still coming down pretty hard, so there may be light posting in the future. Consider this an open thread.



Monday, January 17, 2005

Base Closure 

Another round is coming in May. The military towns around the state are worried.

Everett fears that losing its 6,000 sailors would wreck businesses ranging from car dealerships to the local florists who fill hundreds of orders for homecomings.

Folks in Oak Harbor say the closing of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station would turn the city into a ghost town and eliminate 68 percent of Island County employment.

...

Most of the state's bases are considered safe.

Pierce County's Fort Lewis is the largest Army base on the West Coast and has expanded in recent years. Soldiers can rapidly deploy from nearby McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma.

Bangor Submarine Base, one of two ballistic-missile submarine bases in the nation, is also considered BRAC-proof, as is the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, which overhauls nuclear-powered ships of the Pacific fleet. Bremerton also hosts the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis.

No one wants to name the most vulnerable bases, but the three top recipients of a $500,000 state fund to help with the base-closure process include Everett, with its Navy aircraft carrier; Oak Harbor, home of Whidbey Island Naval Air Station; and the Spokane Regional Chamber of Commerce, leading the effort to protect the city's Fairchild Air Force Base. The fund is intended to pay for consultants and economic-impact studies.
I'm all for base closing, although, I do think it's a bit weird in the middle of a war. If it's more efficient, or if we can make due with less, OK. But the feds really ought to make sure that the economies of the towns they pull out of aren't wrecked.



Line of Duty 

Firefighter Mark Noble of the Olympia FD died of brain cancer. The state is saying that it was a line of duty death. What's surprising to me is that's only the second time carcinogens have been blamed in a death of a firefighter in the state.



A fun time 

N in Seattle and Shaun and I talked politics. It's weird to put a face on other bloggers, even if in Shaun's case I'd seen his face before.

I had a good sandwich, except whenever I have a ruben I get the Tennessee Twin song stuck in my head.



Sunday, January 16, 2005

Backup Plans 

I think every Republican in the state moving to King County (but only in their mind) is a good plan B for stealing the next election. But just in case it doesn't work, Columbian Watch has plans C through Z. Here are some of my favorites:

Plan D: In “Night of the Living Dead,” one zombie looks like Dean Logan, the director of King County Elections.

...

Plan K: King County will be magically transformed into my happy place, where Republican street vendors making $1 an hour serve cupcakes with gumdrops.

...

Plan S: 8,462 dead voters voted in Washington, and 4,231 of them voted for Dino Rossi, according to an email I received this morning, so whatever happened to that TV show with the guy who could talk to dead people? Let’s ask him.
Plan T: We call in Mr. T. Of course.



See Y'all at 6:00 

At the Cabin Tavern. I'll be the guy in a rugby shirt and a blue hat.



Just Because You're Getting Your Head Handed to You 

Sound Politics is so confidant in their riotousness, that you can't even use "www.preemptivekarma.com" in their coments. (I actually tested this one out you'll be glad to know)



Worker's Comp 

Rep. Bill Fromhold is proposing changes to the workers comp rules.

State law allows businesses to form pools to share insurance risks of workers comp. The BIAW operates the largest pool and gets refunds from the state every year its premiums exceed claims. The BIAW keeps 20 percent of the refunds and gives the rest to members who participate in the pool.

The association's take in 2004 was more than $5 million, half of which went to its 15 local chapters.

Under Fromhold's legislation, House Bill 1070, groups like the BIAW could keep no more than 10 percent of their refunds -- half of what's allowed now.
Pretty straightforward. The BIAW and others act like the mob when they just got their hands on 20% your pension fund. And when someone is taking a modest step of giving back some of the extra money to the people who put it into the system in the first place, the people who will get less of their employees' money for free are complaining.



Spokane Gay Neighborhood 

I thought the point of gay neighborhoods in Seattle, San Fransisco, and New York was that they were where the newly out went when they left places like Spokane. I'm not sure activists can just say "here!" But I could be wrong. So good luck Spokane.



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