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Saturday, February 26, 2005

Ave Maria 

NW Progressive Institute is getting behind Maria Cantwell. I'm still waiting to see how the Democratic field lines up. I have no problem with a primary, against an incumbent in any office. I don't know who would run, though. So we'll see where things land.

But she is considerably better than 'Roid Rage Vance, Neandercutt, or anybody else mentioned on the other side. She has been great on Enron, she opposed Torture Boy, she'll vote to save social security if the time comes.



Oh Canada 

The House passed a bill that makes it so that we can license Canadian pharmacies. This will make it easier to get cheap drugs from Canada.

Rep. Sherry Appleton, who sponsored the bill, said the monthly drug bill for her 88-year-old mother, a cancer survivor, dropped from $836 to $300 when she started buying medications over the Internet from a Canadian pharmacy.

"I think people will feel more comfortable going across the border, knowing we have said as a Legislature that it's all right," said Appleton, D-Poulsbo.

If passed in the Senate and signed by the governor, the state Health Department will try to create a reciprocal licensing agreement with Canada, such as Washington has with other states -- saying that both accept and recognize the other's pharmacy licenses. Failing that, state workers would visit, inspect and license Canadian pharmacies that do mail-order or Internet business with Washington residents.
Republicans are opposed to helping the elderly get drugs on principal. They want the feds to do it. I do too, but since they're not, I think we shouldn't just sit on our asses. And really remember, Republicans are now in favor of a large Federal government doing what the states are already doing. Also against being bold.

"Why should we take this bold leap and put ourselves in jeopardy here at this state? Why not let the federal government do this?" Bailey asked. "After all, it's the FDA that keeps us all safe with our pharmaceuticals, why are we going outside of that?"



Friday, February 25, 2005

Open Thread 




Neat! 

The Sound Transit site on the Duamish is right over a newly discovered, and quite well preserved Native American archaeological site. It dates back to before white settlers came here. And at the time the Duamish was the major route East from the Sound, so they expect to find a lot of good stuff. They've already found over 900 artifacts in a relatively small portion of the site.

And it won't delay building of light rail. So it's a double win.

LeTourneau emphasized in his report that only 5 percent of the artifacts were found outside the archaeological "features" of the site, indicating there had been no site disturbance by either the river cutting into the site or by later human activity.

"Taken as a whole, we believe that the cultural deposits at 45KI703 represent an intact prehistoric structure that was burned and was subsequently buried by floodplain sedimentation," the summary and conclusions section of the report said.

Archaeologists will soon take up residence at an old house on the site, establishing a field laboratory there.

During the excavation they will develop a detailed three-dimensional picture of the site from elaborate excavation procedures. After artifacts are collected, cleaned and classified, a few will be selected for "protein analysis" to identify plant or animal material on remaining tool edges. Other materials will be sent for radiocarbon dating.

Radiocarbon dating from a site found at Allentown a short distance away in the 1990s placed that site between 200 and 540 years old. LeTourneau speculated based on that evidence and the depth of these finds, this site would be about the same, probably slightly older.



NASCAR 

The NASCAR officials who's Snohomish County deal fell apart are back. They're trying to figure something out before the 2006 legislative session. And they're looking at a few places in Western Washington. They mention a place in Lacy that I know about where it is, and it would probably be a good spot if the city wanted it.

He declined to discuss specific sites except to say he might visit Lacey to see an undeveloped site at Interstate 5 and Marvin Road. Lacey officials would prefer to have the tree-covered site used for retail development and repeatedly have expressed opposition to putting a racetrack on the property.



Vulnerability 

Cascadia Scorecard talks about how vulnerable our energy system is to an attack. And how they released a report a few days ago, and nobody's contradicting them. Scary.



Anderson-Murray Anti-Discrimination Bill 

Democracy for Washington has wonderful info you need on HB1515. It would give GLBT folk around the state protection from discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and more. They are urging you to contact your senators.



Signed Into Law 

Gregoire signed the first bills of her tenure into law yesterday. Such exciting topics as internships and a swimming pool in Tacoma. But they're the law of the land, and the internships one might not have passed muster with Rossi.



Thursday, February 24, 2005

“Mighty men. Men of renown.” 

Fort Lewis remembers its fallen.

The post paused to honor the memory of Sgt. Adam Plumondore, 24, Sgt. Frank Hernandez, 21, and Spc. Clinton Gertson, 26, all killed last week in northern Iraq.



767 

God I hate Harry Stonecipher. He's threatening to shut down the 767 plant in Everett if Boeing doesn't get its tanker contract.

The commercial version of the 767 hasn't sold well recently, and Stonecipher said the company will not keep the line open after production of the current backlog and any new orders of commercial version of the 767 runs out. But he told reporters that the line could be restarted if the company eventually wins the tanker contract.



United Federation of People Just Like Me 

Stilwell (formerly stilwell) secedes from Washington.



Bases 

Gregoire doesn't want Washington State bases closed. She thinks that base closures in other parts of the country could actually benefit Washington if troops from other bases come here. So she's planning improvements around bases (not in this article) and lobbying the commission.



King County Bar Wants Legalized Drugs 

The King County Bar Association thinks that there are ways for the state to legalize some drugs and still get around the Controlled Substances Act and legalize some drugs. As the Stranger Reports:

So, what's the latest group to make the case that states' rights should determine policy? Try the flaming liberals at the King County Bar Association (KCBA), who on March 3 will release a radical proposal urging Olympia to reform local drug laws. And by "reform," the KCBA means make certain drugs legal so they can be yanked off the street (a hotbed of violent crime and addiction) and placed in a tightly regulated state market. Regulation could allow for things like safe injection sites, be used to wean addicts off drugs, and sap a black market that gives kids access to drugs.

...

The KCBA also argues that when a state becomes a "market participant" by running drug-distribution outlets, the activity would be beyond the scope of federal commerce power. "[C]annabis availability for adults through exclusive state-owned outlets, for instance, would render Washington immune to federal intervention…" the KCBA's states' rights manifesto argues.

Obviously, these legal arguments are just that: arguments. The KCBA readily admits as much. "Whether Washington could now promulgate its own regulatory system… of substances that are currently prohibited under federal law is a critical open question," the report allows. However, raising that question is an important first step in itself. According to Goodman: "That's always part of the reform process."
The link to the full report is here.



RIP Ruth Fisher 




Senate Smoking Bills 

There are a couple bills in the Senate designed to limit smoking in public places.

Senate Bill 5592, sponsored by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, would require businesses such as bars, restaurants, taverns, bowling alleys and skating rinks to be smoke-free.

...

Senate Bill 5909, proposed by Sen. Alex Deccio, R-Yakima, wouldn't take the ban as far. It would require smoking areas to be enclosed or sufficiently separated from the rest of a business.



Why They Have it at Churches 

You can't beat this story about Tent City 4's last day at St. John Vianney.

“Meeting and collaborating with Christians from other churches, with people from other religions, and with others who were simply good and caring human beings, was especially powerful and inspiring,” said Father Duggan. “From the Islamic man who regularly brought coffee to Tent City residents, to the Jewish woman who prepared meals, to the Buddhist woman who Sunday after Sunday peacefully protested the protesters, we felt an overwhelming support from people of every faith background.”

Throughout the evening of food and music on Feb. 12, the stories shared reflected Father Duggan’s words; each story, each memory, a valentine of love and caring.

From the opening prayer offered by Sharon Sherrard of Kirkland Interfaith Network, which supported Tent City 4 during its stay, to the music provided by Crossroads Band from Lake Washington United Methodist Church, to the many volunteers present from varying faith backgrounds, the celebration reflected that ecumenical spirit.



Wednesday, February 23, 2005

"It's a strategic thing" 

I don't understand the desire to of the rest of the county to run away from Seattle. I also am not entirely sure how a county with Bellevue, Shoreline, Kent, and Kirkland will be the Republican rural wet dream.

I for one won't sign the petition. I mean it'll be less police and probably more taxes. I can hardly wait until the rural parts of the new county become an even bigger meth producer.

But none of that is what I actually wanted to talk about. I'm amused by the process that will make Kent the interim county seat. You see they're afraid that if Bellevue were the seat that given that it's growing rapidly, it might overwhelm the rural areas again. Fair enough, but really, having a county seat there is going to tip the scales? But what really made Kent appealing was that the chair of the House Local Government Committee represents Kent.

``It's another way to get him to give a hearing on the bill,'' Nixon said. ``It's a strategic thing.''



A Historic Moment I Missed 

But on the 17th when Rep. John Lovick and Sen. Rosa Franklin presided over a joint session of the legislature, it was the first time two African Americans held the gavel at a joint session.

Lovick and Franklin already made a mark when they were elected by the House and Senate to positions no African-American had held in Washington state.

"As a kid growing up in Louisiana, during Segregation," said Lovick, "I didn’t think this was possible. Even as a grown man, running for the Mill Creek City Council seemed impossible – until my son challenged me when I said it couldn’t happen. He said, ‘Why not?’ And he was right. I hope kids see Sen. Franklin and myself as proof that with hard work, you can take down barriers and start a trail for others."



Key Arena 

The bill to extend the taxes for the stadiums for ever to pay for Key Arena and upkeep of the stadiums is getting introduced in the House today.



Letters 

Goldy sends a note to Tim Eyman urging him to support the amendment to end the supermajority needed for education levies.

As a self-proclaimed champion of direct democracy, you have time and again admonished our elected officials and judges to honor the will of the people. In defense of your own initiatives – even the really, really stupid ones – you have argued that voters, not politicians, should be trusted to choose the kind of government they want. Thus I am confident that you will agree with me that the super-majority amendment can and should be decided directly by the voters… for to contend otherwise would be hypocritical.

That’s why I urge you to join me in asking the Senate to approve SHJR 4205. I suggest we draft a joint letter, instructing our respective supporters to contact their state senator, and demand that the people be given the opportunity to decide this important issue for themselves. Since I happen to have a copy of your list, I’d be happy to directly email your supporters on your behalf.



Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Eastern Washington Environmental Orgs and Organization in General 

Newly minted WashBlogger Bart Haggin has a post on how difficult it is to get Western Washingtonians to pay attention to the East. He talks specifically about environmental groups, but the point is more general. Now I'll admit that much of the same criticism can certainly be applied to me. I'm a King County boy, who doesn't know much about a significant part of the state that he ostensibly has a "report" on.

The “Washington” Environmental Counsel pulled out long ago and never looked back. Their board of directors makes a token appearance once a year in Spokane brags about its accomplishments along I-5. Methinks they don’t like having an office so far from “home”. Anyway, they claim that water issues are high on their agenda but NOT in Spokane, I guess. The Spokane River is listed as one of the most endangered rivers in the nation and it mixes with an aquifer that serves over 400,000 people but that is “chump change” to the WEC. Lake Samamish and Lake Washington, now you’re talking about condo lovers with a real appreciation for real water. Wait until the rivers over in latte land run dry this summer. The drive across the “Gobi Desert” of central Washington will be too much for the WEC elite to come over to the dry side for a meeting. But then how often do the Cascade consumers ever deign to drive? It is so far over there! Must fly to such distant regions. Never mind that the wait at both ends and the flight time is more time consuming than a four-hour drive over the “mountains” and through the “scablands” to bubba land. You don’t have to be depressed to be cynical.

The organization called Washington Conservation Voters brings phoniness to a whole new level. This is a political action committee that claims, in its mission statement, to “Help elect environmentally responsible candidates and hold them responsible”. Where? Not east of the “Cascade Curtain”. The few races they get involved in are largely “sure things” so they can boast about their success record. No wonder they left the “red side” for bluer pastures. When they had an office over here there was no newsletter, no list of board members, not statement of finances or any significant information sharing. Where were the board meetings and when did they take place? Certainly, never in our secondary surroundings. They do like to lobby though. Nice to hang out with other 425s and 206s. Nice to rub shoulders with the great and the near great. No accountability there. No WASL scores for lobbyists. No “Consumers Reports” ratings. How cozy to drive home at night after a “day at the legislature” and get paid well for it besides.



Corporate Radio 

DJ Lisa Wood is not impressed.

And how is a Disk Jockey similar to a chipmonk? Anything that the Dick Jockey can't eat or [make love to], he [defecates] on.



10 Acres 

There is a possibility of a new park near the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It's still in the early stages because ownership of the land and who will pay for it is still up in the air. So it may not get built.



Drinking Liberally 

I can't make it, but I'd like to pass along an email about Drinking Liberally in Seattle:

I'm the new City Leader for the Seattle Chapter of drinking liberally.
We are still trying to get off the ground and get some regular
attendance. Is there any chance you guys can put in a plug for us
today?

Where:
Murphy's Pub
1928 North 45th Street

Map and picture at Map and picture at http://www.amazon.com/gp/yp/B0004HL9AY

When: Tuesdays, starting tonight, 8pm

For questions contact Nick Beaudrot at seattle@drinkingliberally.org
or by phone at [Number Deleted at Nick's request]. Also y'all are welcome to come.



Sick Kids 

Children have less insurance and they are going to the doctor less often since the budget cuts got riproaring a few years ago. This means more ER visits. It means a choking of our resources. And of course it means more sick kids.

"For three years now, children have born the brunt of ongoing budget cuts, they are less healthy, they aren't any safer, they aren't any better educated," said Paola Maranan, executive director of the Children's Alliance, at a rally of about 400 people Monday on the Capitol steps.

"Our elected officials must have the courage this year -- not next year, not the year after, this year -- to find the revenue needed to reverse the state's willful neglect of children." Maranan said.
Fortunately, we have a governor who wants to insure all kids by 2010. Although, I'd like to see her get more into the nitty gritty of the fights in the leg.

"If we want children who can learn, they have got to be healthy," Gregoire said, mentioning the support of Speaker of the House Frank Chopp of her plan.

But Gregoire did not endorse a bill that was heard by a committee Monday, which would increase coverage for kids at the cost of $28.3 million.



Commuting Across State Lines 

Columbian Watch has some info on the proposal by Baird and Cantwell to have more reciprocity for people who pay Oregon income taxes but live in Washington.



50% 

The amendment to make it only 50% for school levies passed the House. The Senate will still be tough because of the 2/3 requirement of any constitutional amendment.



State Retirement Fund Director Makes the LA Times 

The LA TImes quotes Washington State Retirement Director John F. Charles on private Social Security accounts:
And when it comes to people's investment abilities, state retirement officials have plenty of stories about how ill-prepared most workers are to handle the financing of their own futures.

"We get individuals into our training sessions and ask them about basic investment terms — What is a stock? What is a bond? — and they rate themselves as practically unknowledgeable," said Washington state retirement director John F. Charles.

The result, Charles and others said, has been a series of investment choices that officials fear will leave many workers without adequate funds after they retire.

In Washington state, workers' decisions on accounts seem to have been heavily influenced by stocks' immediate performance, rather than a long-term perspective on their investments.

In 1996 and 1997, when the stocks were climbing, more than 75% of teachers picked a hybrid plan that included an individual account, rather than sticking with traditional pensions.

In 2002 and 2003, after the market had crashed, about 14% of public employees signed up for the hybrid plan.



Monday, February 21, 2005

Asking Questions and Looking at Evidence 

Is not what right wingers do. No they prefer to level charges that don't make any sense and then not even try to find out if they're true. I spend less time than many local lefty blogs on the crazies who see a conspiracy no matter what the evidence in the election. But it is amusing that they don't even bother with trying to find evidence.



Cantwell's Meth Bill 

link

Yesterday, she and her parents joined law enforcement officials, politicians and community members to push for passage of a bill that would expand federal funding for programs that combat meth addiction. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and dubbed the "Arrest Methamphetamine Act," would provide federal grant money to states that enact a law limiting the sales of pseudoephedrine and other easily accessible "precursor products" often used to manufacture methamphetamine.

The grant money -- $100 million in 2006 and 2007 and $200 million a year through 2010 -- would be used primarily for prevention and community-based education, interventions, hiring and training specialized law-enforcement officers and seizures and cleanups of meth labs.



Sunday, February 20, 2005

Inslee on BPA Rate Increases 

Into the Breach has enough details to make me sad that I'm not one of Inslee's constituents any more.

I recently questioned new Department of Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman during a Energy and Commerce Committee hearing about the rationality of the Administration's proposed rate increases for the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). Secretary Bodman suggested that the legacy of charging cost-based rates to their Northwest consumers is subsidized by the American taxpayer. This characterization of BPA is inaccurate: BPA customers repay all of BPA's costs including paying interest on Bonneville's old, appropriated debt and any funds borrowed from the U.S. Treasury.

While I am honored that the Secretary could spend time answering my questions on Bonneville power rates, I disagree with the Secretary's idea that the federal government is somehow subsidizing power consumers in the Northwest when the BPA charges us cost-based rates. Bonneville, which produces power overwhelmingly with publicly owned resources, pays back every cent of its costs to the federal treasury. We do not expect government run libraries to make a profit and we do not expect government run Power Marketing Administration to turn a profit either. The current proposal aimed at changing the BPA rates is illegal and I will continue to oppose the Administration's attempts to impose the equivalent of a very large energy tax on Washington State consumers.



Second Gig 

Some time this week, I'll be guest posting in the Upper Left portion of blogtopia (y!s blah blah blah) this week as Shaun takes a vacation. I'll try to be a bit more worldly, maybe have thoughts on something in the New York Times other than how nice it is for them to mention Seattle in a non sports context. I don't know.



Gah! 

The story of Vladimir German as related in the Walla Walla Union Bulletin is bound to break your heart. He was an immigrant from Kazakhstan. Because of his German heritage and Christianity, he would be the subject of government harassment if he were to return. He's been trying to become a citizen for more than a decade. He's been the victim of a scam artist who took $1,200 to help with immigration, but just took the money. But he's been working with more reputable people for some time now.

But now the US government is trying to deport him. They say things have improved in Kazakhstan since the Germans moved to the US.

Last summer, after a span of 10 years, someone in the San Francisco U.S. Department of Homeland Security finally looked at the Russian family's application for asylum. No one can say where the case file was all that time.

``Sometimes that happens. There is no good reason, but every once in awhile we see a case like this,' said Seattle-based lawyer Cigne Dortch, recently hired by the Germans.

No one can answer this, either: what happens to the family that has spent a decade building a new life?

The reasons Vladimir gave for seeking asylum - persecution due to ethnicity and religion - are deemed no longer valid by the United States, according to the finding of the California immigration officer who reviewed the case.
Of course much of the rest of the article details how things are bad for ethnic minorities and on the decline. And since the Germans are rich by Kazak standards, they will probably be the subject of police harassment.



Local Blogging Around 

Wash Blog has a report from People for Puget Sound's Priorities for a Healthy Washington lobby day.

Cascadia Scorecard has good news about teenage birth rates in Washington. It includes a graph that compares us to British Columbia.

Archy has an amusing discussion of flags. And why someone who posts a letter to Students for Academic "Freedom" (quotes his) is a bit of a loon.



Crazy 

The cuts to Medicaid for the mentally ill are coming in July. It will mean a cut of $82 million from the Feds. While the state will probably fill some of the gap in the budget,

"I don't see the whole amount just because of the budget situation," said House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle. Still, he said, "We ought to provide a lifeline for these folks."

The federal cut will vaporize 20 percent of the state's community mental health budget.

For years, Washington state exploited an ambiguity in federal law that allowed the state to use the savings from its Medicaid managed care program to pay for non-Medicaid people and services.
I've written about it before, but it's been a while. And the realities are really coming in fast. Far too often this will mean more people in prison; It will mean fewer hospital beds; It will mean more homeless.

"We're having to turn away about 80 clients a month who are seeking outpatient services," said Jess Jamieson, president and CEO of Compass Health in Everett. The public mental health system in Washington is administered by 14 Regional Support Networks, which contract out services to local organizations such as Compass Health.

Last month, Compass Health closed a homeless drop-in center in Everett that offered mental health services and served about 500 people a year.

...

Law enforcement officials have complained frequently to the Legislature that jails have become de facto state mental institutions. They're worried budget cuts will make things worse.

"It's left upon us to provide the treatment with no funding," said Karen Daniels, chief deputy for corrections with the Thurston County Sheriff's Office. About 30 percent of the Thurston County jail inmates suffer from some sort of mental illness, Daniels said.

Two jail employees work with mentally ill inmates, basically trying to get them stable so they don't wind up back in jail again. Daniels said those positions will go away unless the Legislature restores mental health funding.
Sen. Jim Hargrove has a bill that would have the state pay for the whole $82 million cut by the feds. It doesn't stand much of a chance with the 2.2 billion dollar hole.

"It's totally dysfunctional," Hargrove said of the current system. "It wastes piles of money, and I mean piles -- like billions -- because we don't provide a cohesive and coordinated system for mental health and alcohol and drug dependency."

Hargrove's bill would integrate those two treatment tracks -- mental illness and chemical dependency -- because they so often occur together. It would also streamline and consolidate the process for involuntary treatment; expand alcohol and drug treatment services; require the state to create and use a consistent screening process for mental illness and chemical dependency; and it allows counties to levy a local-option sales tax to pay for expanding treatment.

It's an ambitious bill and it will have a hefty price tag. Hargrove, however, is concentrating on the prospect of future savings.

"I'm not a trigger happy, tax-and-spend kind of person," said Hargrove, who hails from a conservative district in southwest Washington. But he said his past experience with reforming the juvenile justice system has shown that prevention pays off.
...edited grammar



Welcome Back 

This Thursday to the men and women of the 2nd Battalion, 146th Field Artillery Regiment.



David Horsey Nails Doc Hastings 

right to the wall.



Foster Care 

There is a bill in the house dealing with foster care when instead of becoming a parent the foster care is provided by a guardian.

Yakima attorney Gayle Harthcock handles mostly adoption, guardianship and dependency cases. She said the bill may make some positive changes, but she's leery of the language.

"It takes a lot of power away from the court, and some protection away from the child," she said.

For example, HB2030 gives DSHS the final say in what it pays to families, and courts can no longer order the state to provide services.

Additionally, the bill makes it more difficult for families to dissolve a guardianship.

Those changes translate to increased pressure and responsibility for foster families, critics say.

"I think if they push this, it will cost them parents. It will discourage new people from coming in to take foster kids," said one Yakima foster mother, who requested her name not be used.

But DSHS hopes the new rules would increase the commitment levels of parents who take on a guardianship.

...

State-licensed foster parents receive benefits according to the ages and needs of each child they care for. If the bill passes, parents would no longer receive that money; instead they would receive state adoption funds. The amount they receive would be determined prior to approval of the guardianship.

Unlicensed parents — relatives caring for a family member's child, for example — could also apply for adoption subsidies. Currently, most of those families receive no outside support unless they qualify for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, a federal block grant program that offers limited relief to poor families.

That change might encourage more relatives to become guardians, Reed said.



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