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Saturday, February 19, 2005

$2.50 a Pack 

Rep. Rodney Tom (R) wants to tax cigarettes another dollar a pack, or $25 a carton. That would be the highest cigarette tax in the country.

Tom said the tax plan is a fair way to recoup some of the costs government has to pay for tobacco-related illness. He would earmark 83 percent of the new revenue to the state's Health Services Account and the rest to the Youth Tobacco Prevention Account.

He conceded that some of his fellow Republicans have given him flak for sponsoring the bill. But he said his 48th District constituents, even many of the smokers, are encouraging him to pursue his plan.

Rep. Dawn Morrell, D-Puyallup, an intensive care and coronary care nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in Puyallup, said she's intrigued by the idea of a mega-increase in the tax. But she said smokers will be furious if lawmakers approve an increase like Tom has in mind.

House Finance Chairman Jim McIntire, D-Seattle, didn't take a position on the bill, but said he's glad Tom has proposed it.



Yakima River Basin Reservoir 

It looks like it will be pretty expensive. $1.8 billion was the original estimate. Yesterday the Federal Bureau of Reclamation said that the cost is probably closer to $3.5 to $4 billion. I wasn't entirely sure who pays for it, probably the US government if they're doing the Feds are doing it.

But the area will need more water for farms and development. The article lists other possible ways to get it.

Whether a full-fledged feasibility study is conducted depends on how much political and economic support the project garners, Cross said.

Three other alternatives -- including expansion of existing storage reservoirs and building a new dam near Ellensburg -- still are being considered as ways to improve Yakima Valley water supplies.


...Title changed. Thanks to patriotboy.



31 

More sex abuse lawsuits in the Seattle Arch.



Air America 

Everything that you ever wanted to know.



Friday, February 18, 2005

Open Thread 

Last post for me until late night tomorrow edition. I don't know if Brenda has anything to say, but as always, she's welcome to post something. For the rest of you, talk about anything you want here.



Lakewood Annexation 

Marysville just got another 2000 residents.



2 States 

Sen. Adam Kline wants to split Washington at the Cascades. I know this comes up from time to time and never comes close to passing. But I'd think with power concentrated in Western Washington (with the exception of the Senate Majority Leader) if we wanted to make the amount of tax revenue more proportionate between East and West, we could do that.

Kline said a "disproportionate amount" of tax revenue generated in the western part of the state goes to the eastern part.

"Why should the western half continue to subsidize the east? We could use that money right here for job creation, education and health care," Kline said in a statement.



Election Reform 

A reform package has made it out of the Senate Government Operations & Elections Committee yesterday. I can get behind most of it, but the requirement of ID might be a problem. Still, if everything passed I'd be OK with it.

Dozens of bills have been introduced in both houses since the session began Jan. 12, and a package that passed out of the Senate Government Operations & Elections Committee on Thursday could go to the Senate floor as early as next week.

The Senate package would hold the primary a month earlier so counties would have more time to get out general election ballots. It would impose statewide standards for handling ballots, require first-time voters to produce identification at the polls, require regular audits of county election departments, and require a paper trail for touch-screen voting machines such as those Snohomish and Yakima counties are using.



Crab Feed 

If you can make it.

What: Washington State Democrats Annual Crab Feed

and PCO Training



When: Presidents’ Day - February 21, 2005

10:00 PCO Training ($10 per person)

5:00 Crab Feed ($40 per person- $10 kids)



Where: St. Martin’s College

5300 Pacific Ave SE

Lacey, Wa 98503



McDermott Social Security Forum 

He'll be in town tomorrow talking about social security. According to the ad on the radio about this, he's on whatever committee the bill will go through.

Forum on Social Security
Saturday, February 19, 2005
10:00 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Bloedel Hall, St. Mark's Episcopal Cathedral
1245 10th Avenue East, Seattle

Parking available and the event is accessible via the Metro 7 and 9 bus lines.



New York, New York! 

(Did I call him former Stranger writer?) Eli Sanders has an article on the smoking ban in New York. It also goes into what it might mean for Washington.

I'm still not sure I like the idea of a statewide ban (but it seems like it's all or nothing for a while). I'd much rather change it so that local governments can decide for themselves and then have King decide to enact one. However I still might vote for a smoking ban initiative, but it isn't what I'd have preferred.



The Poor 

At a local conference of the Saint Vincent de Paul Society, the president of the society had harsh words for Bush's budget.

With the nation awash in record deficits, President Bush has proposed a budget to Congress that calls for spending cuts that will only further endanger the livelihoods of the unemployed and working poor, said Smith, national president of the St. Vincent de Paul Society.

“I am definitely troubled by it and very concerned,” said Smith, who attended an annual banquet of the Seattle-area society last Sunday at St. Madeleine Sophie Church. “We need more help from the government.”

Smith, 65, cited the 40 million people nationally who live without health care insurance.

“Nothing’s being done about it, and now it looks like nothing will be done about it,” he said.

Smith is well familiar with the gap between government financial assistance and the real needs on the street. He’s been a Vincentian for the past 35 years, making regular visits to the poor in need of food, rental assistance or vouchers from department stores to help already strained budgets.



Take Down 

Anybody claiming to still believe the voting discrepancies mean anything is either an idiot, a liar, or whatever third category James Na thinks he's in.



Thursday, February 17, 2005

Section 8 Housing 

It's being cut pretty drastically all over the country. King County isn't taking any new applications and they are scaling back on the help they're giving.

"The Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher program is a critical support for low-income families at a time when housing costs are outstripping income," Doreen Cato, chair of housing authority's board of commissioners, said in a statement. "Less money from HUD, however, means less money to pay for vouchers."



Dave Reichert - An Endangered Species? 

The rethugnican leadership thinks so.



Budgeting 

The process is moving forward, but with the repeal of the estate tax the hole is $2.2 billion. Gregoire and key Democrats in the legislature are going over specifics. They also found that Locke's final budget had deep cuts in mental health and temporary welfare programs.

One question though: the article mentions the new taxes that the Locke budget would have made. It talks about "a tax on doctors." My recollection is that it was just for plastic surgery. Was that it, or is there something broader I missed?



Dear Discover The Network, 

I just saw that my Congressman made your little list of liberals. Apparently you have to be "activists for leftwing agendas and causes, radical egalitarians, and opponents of American 'imperialism,'" to make the list. And being dead doesn't disqualify you. So let me add another name to the list. He said:

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.
I don't know about you but that sounds like he's one of those "opponents of American 'imperialism'" you detest so much. I know the part where he says that we should have ad hoc coalitions sounds kind of like what Bush did in Iraq, but he only meant for defense, not to gloriously attack a little country. So please please please add George Washington to your silly little list. Otherwise the liberals like Ayatollah Khomeini and Roger Ebert will win.

Good luck with your blacklist,

Carl Ballard

Tip of the hat to Shaun.



Time to Read 

In this week's Mossback, Knute Berger gets all sad about Seattle's possibility of becoming a one paper town. In part he laments the decline of readership. But one way to increase readership is to improve public transit. There's a reason that there are people selling papers at every entrance to every bus tunnel. There's a reason that paper machines are common around bus stops.

Many people on public transit read. Sometimes it's a book. Sometimes it's the ads or the bus poetry. But often it's the paper. It's obviously something that can't be done while driving.

So I wish Knute and the rest of the Weekly were more supportive of public transit. After all, it's good for their paper too.



Initiatives 

Evergreen Politics takes on I-900, I-901, I-905, and I-906.



They're Back! 

A back up OlyScoop points me to Patty Murray's campaign blog still pumping out posts.



Pang 

His lawyers say the Blakely exemption means that he can get out with time served. Obviously the Department and the state are trying to keep him in jail.



Sidran 

He's been appointed to head the Utilities and Transportation Commission.



Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Uniform Punishment 

Responding to the Kent handcuffing, Rep. Eric Pettigrew is sponsoring a measure to specifically allow restraints all over the state. But only in very specific circumstances.

If there is no immediate threat of harm, Pettigrew said, HB 1792 would require school security officers or staff to first try talking to the student or using other techniques to ``de-escalate'' the student's behavior.

``If you've got a pouting kid or a yelling kid, it doesn't give you the right to tell him, `I don't like your attitude' and put them in a headlock or handcuffs,'' said Pettigrew, whose 37th state Legislative District includes areas of Renton, Skyway and south Seattle.

``What I'm saying with this measure is that I want -- and everyone should want -- the adults who deal with our children and our neighbors' children to be held accountable for their actions,'' Pettigrew said.



Wild Sky Again 

It's back. It cleared the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. So that's a positive step. It was also introduced in the House. I'm not exactly sure what that means in terms of process, but it still has to make it through committee and of course the full house.

Pombo is still being a jackass. I know tough to imagine. He's still trying to block it but his spokesman says, "[t]he chairman is more than open to working with Rick Larsen and (fellow Democratic Rep.) Jay Inslee on the Wild Sky bill." So we'll see.

Meanwhile none of the Washington State Republicans have taken a stand. Hastings is the same neutral that he was last year. And the two new Republicans haven't made a decision on it.



Portland Airport Noise 

Brian Baird is trying to do something about the noise of the flight paths over Vancouver coming from the Portland Airport. There are already guidelines in place, but they are voluntary. Baird is trying to add an enforcement mechanism.

"I will explore regulatory options with the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) to ensure there are consequences for deviating from noise mitigation guidelines, unless warranted for reasons of safety or other emergency," he wrote. "I will also explore legislative options to ensure that adopted guidelines are followed."
Tip of the hat to stilwell



Sex Ed 

The sex ed bill I wrote about a bit ago passed the House Healthcare Committee. The full House and the Senate are still to come.

And there was a rally in support of, you know, actually teaching children. It was apparently well attended. 300 or so mostly by high school and college students showed up. But there were parents there too.



$200 Million 

The monorail bid is about $200 Million more than the $1.5 Billion that Seattle voters approved. I guess that's why Team Monorail was given a second look a while ago. Hopefully the market will bring prices down a notch.



Tuesday, February 15, 2005

The Wave of the Future 

In Broadview. It's pretty amazing stuff how native plants, weirs, silty soils and a few other innovations can do wonders for a stretch of Piper's Creek.



Locke's New Job 

At DWT in case you missed it.



Scoop's Records 

Weird. There is a reclassification of Scoop Jackson's records going on right now and the CIA is actually going to Suzzallo to physically remove papers.



Pam Roach 

No I'm not doing the Pam Roach story (except for this somewhat cryptic post), but thanks for all your emails. I'll happily be an asshole, but not to people's family.



In the Times 

My letter will be there tomorrow. So um there you go. And to anybody who read it and is now coming around to say hi. Hi back at you. And if you're here to say boo, boo back at you.



Pelz's Letter to DFW 

It covers why Deaniacs should like him and a resume.



Helverson re Cantwell - Part 2 

Let's try this again:
Dear Senator Cantwell:

As I promised, I posted your reply to The Washington State Political Report. Here are a few of the resulting comments:

Comment 1: "I had just begun (again) to feel good about Maria and she did THAT! "

Comment 2: " Here's the problem: If we had a Republican Senator in the seat, the Republican would likely vote:

1. To invade Iraq.
2. Confirm Rice as Secr. of State despite her incompetence.
3. End class action lawsuits in Washington state courts.

Hmmm."

comment 3: "The judiciary often is our only hope against powerful interests. When we’ve lost access to the courts, we lose enormously! Enormously! It’s why business and other powerful interests bash lawyers, whether they represent injured parties or the environment or the down-trodden.

Look who appears on each side. Favoring the bill: "The insurance, tobacco, drug, chemical and other industries that financed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's $40 million propaganda campaign exposed their fundamental distrust of state legislatures, courts and juries …” per the American Trial Lawyers.

Look who opposed: ACLU, AFL-CIO, Consumer Federation of America, Earthjustice, NAACP, National Organization for Women, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law, Sierra Club and many, many other outstanding organizations..

Who would you rather side with? "

And Senator, here's my comment for you: If I wanted a bipartisan Senator, I would have voted for the bipartisan ticket. Instead I voted for a Democrat. It am beginning to suspect that I may not be getting what I voted for.

As everyone can see, "bipartisan" really means "the Democrat sold us out on this one." I believe that this accurately describes your decision to vote for this utterly horrible bill. And I suggest that votes like this one resulted in Rick White sitting in your House seat. Do you really want history to repeat itself?

Yours very truly,

Brenda L. Helverson



Washington Business Climate 

I honestly don't know why Mike's Hard Lemonade is moving its corporate headquarters here. Probably a mix of things, many of them intangible. The founder (ironically not named Mike) said he's looking for talent.

But it is interesting that the business climate is good enough here for them to move from bright red Colorado. I'm sure if Rossi had managed to steal the election he'd be taking credit for it.



Yikers 

The VRWC in Vancouver helped fund Gannon's 3 day course.



First Week of June 

David Neiwert (of Orcinus) is going to have a book out in June about the Bellevue Japanese strawberry farmers who lost their land during interment. It looks like a fascinating read. The same thing happened in my current neck of the woods too.

... some editing



Taxing Mini Casinos 

I just read this press release and I don't understand the tax structure Sen. Margarita Prentice is proposing. But it seems silly to me that currently local casinos pay nothing to the state.

Under current law, only local jurisdictions can tax card rooms; the maximum rate is set at 20 percent of the gross revenue. Under Prentice’s measure (Senate Bill 5287), if the card room is already in a jurisdiction that collects more than 10 percent, the card room would be given a credit for the additional amount.

The tax would affect about 125 card rooms in Washington and would generate $38 million of General Fund-State revenue in the upcoming biennium. Beginning in 07-09, Washington would collect $42 million per biennium.



Gay Rights and Religion 

The Olympian has a good article about pro gay religious organizations.



Ray Minchew 

He's been interviewed by Evergreen Politics. It's very interesting to see how a grassroots organization can form and grow. And to see what they do when it isn't election season. A lot of it you'll know if you've been following them from the beginning, but still, I didn't know some of it.



Dismissed 

Apparently doing your job isn't grounds for a recall.

Thurston County judge dismissed a recall petition against Secretary of State Sam Reed on Monday, finding too little factual or legal basis for the nine charges.



Monday, February 14, 2005

In Depth on King County Voting 

Goldy gives you the nitty of what happened at the hearing with Dean Logan. The gritty will presumably be forthcoming in part two.

...Part 2



What he Said 

link

But that doesn't mean Republicans will give up. Even now, they continue to beat the war drums, demanding a revote, while Rossi steadfastly refuses to concede.

This public campaign -- waged largely on the right-wing talk-radio bandwidths, as well as those belonging to conservative bloggers like Stefan Sharkansky's Sound Politics -- is in fact representative of Republicans' larger effort to remake America into a one-party state.

The whole idea, it seems, is to attack relentlessly, barraging the public with a steady drumbeat of misinformation and wild speculation, all designed to undermine the legitimacy of the Democrats.

And if you want to see how to counter it, check out the work that's been conducted so far by progressive Northwest bloggers, particularly the folks at Also Also and Preemptive Karma. (For a great read on these battles, be sure to also visit David Goldstein's blog, Horses Ass.)

Late last week, Carla at Preemptive Karma and Torrid Joe at Also Also posted their most recent analysis of the election results, particularly Sharkansky's claims that the rate of errors in King County, a Democratic stronghold, were significant enough to change the election's outcome. Indeed, the entire revote campaign is focused on the King errors. But as Carla and TJ point out, its errors were well in line with what occurred elsewhere:



Class Action - Cantell Responds 

Here's the form letter:
Dear Dr. Helverson:

Thank you for contacting me to share your views on class action reform. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.

As you may know, on February 8, 2005, a bipartisan group of senators introduced the Class Action Fairness Act (S. 5). The Class Action Fairness Act improves the process of organizing and trying class action cases, by moving most of the larger cases into federal court. I value efficiency and common sense in our justice system, and a single federal court can better streamline and manage a large multi-state lawsuit han can numerous state courts all over the country.

The Class Action Fairness Act benefits plaintiffs, defendants and consumers. It provides more certainty to plaintiffs about the courts that will hear their cases. It provides checks on the abuses in the current system, such as net loss settlements where class members actually lose money, the more egregious coupon settlements where class members receive little or nothing of value, and outcomes where the lawyers receive huge windfalls at the expense of their clients and defendants. On February 10, 2005, the Senate passed the Class Action Fairness Act with my support by a vote of 72 to 26. I believe this is a balanced bill that ensures the injured their day in court and creates a more efficient, just, and effective class action system.

Thank you again for contacting me to share your thoughts on this matter. Finally, you may be interested in signing up for my weekly update for Washington State residents. Every Monday, I provide a brief outline about my work in the Senate and issues of importance to Washington State. If you are interested in subscribing to this update, please visit my website at http://cantwell.senate.gov.

Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future if I can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

Maria Cantwell
United States Senator

Somehow, I find this response to be somewhat less than satisfactory. How about you?



Dear the Seattle Times, 

James Na is either an idiot or a liar. He claims that there aren't many liberal bloggers from the area. The basis for this assertion is that a get together organized by a conservative blogger wasn't attended by conservatives. So for future reference, here are some of the more prominent lefty blogs from Seattle or the Seattle area:

www.horsesass.org/ Horses' Ass: Originally a web site set up for the initiative to call Tim Eyman a horses' ass has become a prominent and popular blog in the area.
upper-left.blogspot.com/ Upper Left: Is run by the former chair of the 32nd District Democrats. It deals with local and national issues.
www.evergreenpolitics.com Evergreen Politics: Local politics from an activist perspective.
www.progressivemajoritywashington.org Progressive Majority Washington: The local blog of the national organization Progressive Majority.
www.democracyforwashington.com/civicspace-0.5/ Democracy For Washington: The Statewide blog of the Howard Dean organization Democracy for America.
www.nwprogressive.org/weblog The Northwest Progressive Institute Blog: Another web log of a local activist group.
washblog.typepad.com/ WashBlog: Good local info on a wide variety of topics
And my own Washington State Political Report carl-ballard.blogspot.com is another local blog.

There are plenty more to be found from the Seattle area as well as the rest of Washington and Oregon and Idaho at the Pacific Northwest Portal http://www.nwprogressive.org/portal/.

Carl Ballard

Tip of the hat to susanf

...added websites and sent

...It's being considered for publication only with "wasn't attended by conservatives" changed to "wasn't attended by liberals" because that's what I meant. Boy howdy, I love that I've started putting these letters on the board for y'all to catch the mistakes before I send them. I suppose the best solution would be to not make the mistakes in the first place. Or to catch them myself. But no harm done.



BIAW 

Blogger ate my last post, so here we go again:

Jon DeVore, (formerly stilwell) points out that the change from 20% to 10% of worker's comp funds going back to the association wasn't going to pass. So instead the bill's sponsors decided to take a different tack. Namely, they are saying, the money can only be used for specific things, like worker safety and administrative functions. And if they want to use it for political functions, they can do it the old fashioned way and start a PAC.



Improper 

Having Darleen Druyun in their pocket probably seemed like a good thing for Boeing for a while. But now every contract she had a part in is, "tainted by at least the appearance of impropriety." In this case it's a C-130 upgrade that Boeing got over Lockheed Martin.



Sunday, February 13, 2005

Homestead 

NW Progressive Institute has the info on how you can get involved in the homestead exemption legislation.



Local Blogging Around 

With big ups to the Northwest Portal.

Nor'westy writes a letter to KPLU. They apparently did a hactackular job of covering the Bush social security plan.

Emerald City Commentary is concerned with megaprojects. They don't like the Montlake proposal to add lanes to 520. They think it will add to traffic on I-5 and cost too much.



Welcome Home 

To the men and women of the 737th Transportation Company.




USS Abraham Lincoln 

There's a BBC documentary on the Lincoln that airs locally for the first time tomorrow Tuesday.

"Warship: At War," a one-hour documentary that airs at 9 p.m. Tuesday on KCTS, Channel 9, offers viewers a small glimpse of life on the carrier from the crew's perspective.



Car Emissions 

I think there's a good chance we could have tougher standards at the end of the legislature.



Here's a Letter, Maria 

Carl took Saturday off, but he forgot to lock my cage:
Dear Senator Cantwell:

I was astonished to see that you voted in favor of Senate Bill 5, the Republican bill to limit class actions to Federal courts.

I realize that your vote will pave the way for increased campaign contributions from corporate interests and undoubtedly earned you a pat on the head from Bill Frist. Senator, did you consider the damage that your vote will cause to groups of people, including your own constituents, who are damaged by corporate neglect or malfeasance? Why on Earth would you vote to move these suits into the overcrowded Federal Court system?

Please explain your vote in favor of this horrible piece of legislation. And while you are at it, please explain exactly how, in the future, that we can be certain that you actually are a Democrat.

Yours very truly,

Brenda L. Helverson
The Washington State Political Report


As usual, I will post any reply.



Gay Marriage 

Sen. Stevens is trying to get a constitutional amendment banning not only gay marriage, but civil unions. It doesn't stand much chance of passing, but if the supremes rule in favor of marriage, it might get a boost.



Geez 

The only thing that amuses Sharkansky more than dead parents are death threats to the Governor.



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