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Saturday, March 19, 2005

Open Thread 

Non protesting edition.



Hood Canal 

I can't find a copy of Gregoire's proposed budget online. So I guess I'll just see the interesting items in news stories piecemeal, rather than see the whole budget. Anyway, one of the things she's proposed is $5 Million to clean up Hood Canal.

Here's how much of the 2005-07 state budget money for Hood Canal would be spent:

- Provide $1 million for Mason County and the Skokomish Tribe to design a sewage treatment system for the Hoodsport-to-Skokomish-Reservation area of the canal.

Any future system there and in Belfair would recycle and infiltrate highly treated wastewater at upland sites, not discharge it to Hood Canal, said state Department of Ecology regional manager Dick Wallace.

- Give Mason, Jefferson and Kitsap counties $470,000 to continue the search for failing septic systems and work with homeowners to get them fixed. Septic systems are the largest human source of nitrogen to Hood Canal.

- Direct the Department of Ecology to provide as much as $1 million in low-interest loans to fix failing systems.

"We have a willing population," said state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, who doubles as a Mason County Commissioner. "One of the big problems is lack of money. These funds will help a lot."

- Use $250,000 to continue a program started in 2004 to recycle chum salmon carcasses from the Skokomish tribal fishery. Prior to last year, the carcasses were dumped back in the canal.

"That's a project that worked really well this past year," James said.

- Spend $1 million to design and construct pollution prevention ponds at the state Department of Fish and Wildlife Hoodsport hatchery and a new sewer system for Dosewallips State Park.

- Allot $560,000 to help the Mason Conservation District and Skokomish Valley livestock owners build an anaerobic digester that would process animal waste, fish carcasses and other organic wastes into high-quality compost, and produce energy at the same time.



Protests Thread 

The second year of this damn war, and there were protests in Seattle and many of the smaller cities. If you went to one, use this thread to tell any stories.



Drought 

Gregoire is asking for $12 Million to deal with the drought. It will include money for wildland firefighters and longer term water storage.



Friday, March 18, 2005

Gah! 

Rep. Glenn Anderson has a tough time distinguishing between the Holocaust and stem cell research. Aparently because Josef Mengele claimed to be helping people, anybody who claims to be helping people is as bad as Mengele.



$739 Million 

The budget forecast picked up $739 Million. That means that Gregoire will have to fill in $1.5 Billion, not 2.2.



Town Hall Meetings 

Dems in 2006 has this link for you to see what representatives are having town hall meetings.



Open Thread 




Council Candidate Questions 

I just sent the following letter to both the Edmonds and Ferguson Campaigns. In full disclosure, I know Edmonds in real life and have volunteered for her previous campaigns.

Dear council members Edmonds and Ferguson,

My name is Carl Ballard and I run the Washington State Political Report (carl-ballard.blogspot.com), and my readers and I have some questions for you. Any reply will be put on the page as soon as it is received.

1) What role should the county play in providing human services?

2) One of the major county parks in your new district is the Burke-Gillman trail. Recently the city of Lake Forest Park made it more difficult to make improvements on the trail where it runs through LFP. What steps should be taken to improve the trail?


3) There is a hodge podge of transportation in King County. From Sound Transit, to the soon to be built monorail, to Metro. How do we keep building a mass transit infrastructure that includes all these elements? Are there any underserved areas you would like to see more routes on?

4) What are your thoughts on the CAO?

5) Looking back on what you’ve accomplished on the King County Council so far, what is the moment you’re most proud of?



Thursday, March 17, 2005

Wind 

PSE is building a wind farm in South East Washington.



Disclosure 

The senate passed a bill to require third parties that run attack adds to identify where the money to run the ads came from. It was 48-0 and was supported by the PDC.

Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, the bill's sponsor, said it was spurred in part by ads run last year against a candidate for state attorney general, Democrat Deborah Senn.

An out-of-state political action group was paid more than $1 million by groups including the Republican State Leadership Committee and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to run the ads against Senn. The group tried to maintain its anonymity, but the state PDC eventually forced disclosure.

"It's important that people know who's behind these organizations, because they're so easy to create," Kastama said. "By forcing people to disclose who actually funds them, we get to the bottom of where this information is coming from."



Oh, and speaking of Cap Chat 

Here's how Vance answered my question with good follow up from the moderator:

Carl, Vashon: Should we have new elections every time they are close, or only when a Democrat wins?

Vance: There's never been an election like this in American history. This is the closest gubernatorial election in U.S. history. Close elections are not unusual, but 109 people deciding out of 3 million is unusual. Even with that, we would not contest the election unless we knew it was fatally flawed. We are amazed at the number of felon voters. We are amazed King County can't match every signature to a voter, and that they have acknowledged voges made illegally. You cannot contest every election, but the unique circumstances surrounding this election are why we are contesting it.

Moderator: The BIAW was looking into irregularities with felon voters immediately after the election, and I understand they have been working with your party since then, but there was not expression of concern over felon voting until the Supreme Court ruled the extra 500 votes could be counted in King County. Why not bring it up earlier?

Vance: You have to separate those issues. We've been expressing concern about King County's practicies since Election Day. On Election Day our lawyers talked to Dean Logan about our observers watching provisional ballots being cast illegally. I've had multiple press conferences about problems with King County.

With regards to felons specifically, we had no idea how many felons were on the voting rolls until we were able to get the State Patrol's database of convincted felons and the final list of poeple who voted in King County, and those documents were not available until mid-January. So there's no way we could have complained about felon voters earlier than that, but we have been complaining about problems with King County elections literally from Election Day.

Moderator: You complained, but you didn't distrust the outcome until Rossi was losing.

Vance: I didn't say that. We've been complaining about the elections in King County since day one.

Moderator: But it was her lawfyul right to seek a third count.

Vance: Yes, just as it is our lawful right to contest it.
But my favorite part came later. Chris Vance. Chris "Love me BIAW" Vance. Chris Vance had the nerve to say this (emph mine):

Vance: I am an Olympia veteran and I know the real Legislature session has not yet begun. We have not yet seen Gregoire take a firm position on the big issues that matter right now, and that is the state budget. When we see the real budget and the real tax plan, we'll know where she stands. In the meantime, she revealed herself to be a politician.

Stem cell research -- during the campaign she said she wanted to commit billions of dollars to stem cell research. Rossi said it was just a sham to get the issue of stem cells into the campaign, and he was right. The final thing we've seen so far is that she is a really weak governor. She doesn't believe she really won. The special interests funded her hand recount without which she wouldn't be there. I belive she's going to be bullied by the Legislature leadership, and right now I think (Democratic Speaker of the House) Frank Chopp is running Olympia.
As you may recall, it wasn't special interests. John Kerry was the major backer. He just won a solid majority of Washington votes. Much of the rest was raised in small contributions. Kos, Move On, Dean and others (like me) asked people to make small contributions, and that was the major driving force. So small contributions are special interest, BIAW millions aren't.



Capitol Chat 

I really like these, even though I haven't really been talking about them as much as I probably should have. Anyway, Gregoire's was today and she did a fine job.

Moderator: Tell us, governor, how does today's revenue forecast change what you will do in your budget proposal for 2005-07?
Gregoire: The revenue forcast is good news -- it means the economy is returning, getting stronger, people are getting back to work and we are getting new revenue. On the other hand, when I walked into office on Jan. 12, we had a revenue picture that quickly eroded because the state Supreme Court decided two cases that cut our budget by $518 million. So this new forecast doesn't solve what is a shortfall of between $1.5 and $1.6 billion dollars.

Moderator: Does this mean you will seek tax increases? How much do you think you'll need?

Gregoire: I'm going to have ot wait until we make those final decision this weekend, but I'm not going to turn my back on important parts of the economy, like education for children, access to higher education, health care for those who can't afford it, particularly children. I'm going to live by certain principles. One is not to harm our economic recovery but the other is not to maintain the status quo. Our children need good jobs to ensure future economic health.[...]

Josef, Sedro-Woolley: How is it that you believe your election is legitimate and the Rossi campaign - which has unified Democrats and Republicans - has no grounds? Or am I incorrect in stating your belief, Madame Governor-Pro-Tem?

Gregoire: You know, I think the most recent poll by Elway is very telling. Sixty-three percent of those polled said it's time to move on. What we had is a state law that provided for the original count, mandatory machine or manual count, and then at the option of the candidate, if they could pay, a manual count. We raised the money and paid for the manual count, and the final count had me ahead by 129 votes. And by Washington state law I was certified by the Secretary of State and the Legislature as governor and I am serving as governor. There's nothing illegitimate about that at all and I agree with the poll that it's time for us to move on.

Moderator: Does that mean you are asking Rossi to give up his campaign?

Gregoire: I'm not asking Rossi to do anything, he's free to pursue any course, but I am moving on and I am going to do what I think the voters have called me to do.[...]

Moderator: We received a few submissions that were name calling under the pretense of asking a question. People wrote in just to call you a cheater or say your election was rigged. Are you experiencing that kind of resentment from the public personally, and what do you make of it?

Gregoire: Every day that I serve as governor, I don't hear one word about the election. Frankly, people lost interest in even chatting with me about it probably one week after inaguration. All of the talented individuals I am appointing as heads of departments don't even mention it. Surely there are people who feel strongly about it, and I respect it, but nobody, not even Republican legislators ask me about it. They have moved on and I have moved on.[...]

James, Lilliwaup: While you've expressed your willingness to sign a law that would provide anti-discrimination protection for gays and lesbians (HB 1515/SB 6069), is there anything else you can or will do to get this passed this session?

Gregoire: Yes, I've indicated in particular to Sen. Brown that when she's prepared to bring the bill to the floor for a vote, and if she thinks I"ll be of help, I'll talk to any Senators who have questions about it. I don't think Washington state should have discrimination in any way or form. I would welcome the bill onto my desk and will help to make that happen.[...]

Judith, Olympia: Will the State have a campaign on water and energy conservation this year, since our snow pack is so low and energy prices could increase? Will there be public service announcements and more information, made public, for our awareness? Also, do you think a ban on 4th of July fireworks, this summer, would be in our good interest to cut down on fire danger?

Gregoire: I'm going to propose a drought package tomorrow and in it I"ll have some major efforts for how we're going to transfer water rights to EWashington for growers, and $200,000 for an education campaign. I;m going to partner with local utilities for education campaigns because this is a statewide problem and it's going to take everybody participating in the solution. So when we individually conserve today it will serve us well as we work through what may be the driest summer in Washington history. We will give tips for water cosnervation to people because we believe that to do the least damage to the economy, we all have to work together.

I haven't thought about the fireworks issue. I would like to talk to the fire marshal about it. I do have some efforts toward fighting fires. I have supplemental money for early hires by DNR. This early spring is beautiful, but it's fuel for fires. Doug Sutherland asked for money to hire early, and at the same time I have Gen. Lowenburg working on table-top emergency exercises, readying us for fire emergencies. He will have much of the Guard trained by next month in case we get into a situation where DNR can't handle it.



Damn Kids 

Columbian Watch points me to an article in today's Times. The Republican Party dropped the ball with their list of felons who voted. The Times found over a third of the people they were able to check out were convicted as children. Thus they didn't ever have their right to vote taken away in the first place.

"It could very well be that people we have on our list didn't have their voting rights taken away," Lane said of the juvenile cases.

A partial check by The Seattle Times showed that 165 alleged felon voters in King County had only juvenile cases. The Times was able to check 462 names using a Washington State Patrol database.



Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Candidate Training 101 

If you're considering running for something this time around (and school district, fire commission and other things are a wonderful place to start) and you can get to the Renton Carpenters Hall on Wednesday, you should definitely attend. The King County Democratic Central Committee is having a presentation. Democracy for Washington has the details.

Wednesday March 30, 2005 – 6:30 pm-9:00 pm
Renton Carpenters Hall
231 Burnett Avenue North

Online presentation by Greg Rodriguez and Sharon Mast

Welcome and Introduction by KCDCC and Candidate Recruitment Chairs

Free and Open to the Public
Refreshments Provided

Everyone interested in running for office, managing or working on a campaign should be interested in learning how and why campaigns are put together.



Obstruction 

OlyScoop lets us know about Republican obstruction. They talked 30 bills on election reform, the environment, property taxes and other topics to death.



Blowing Past the Bureaucracy 

I couldn't figure out exactly who's getting cut under Gregoire's plan. But it's 1000 state jobs. The PI calls them middle management. They come from a pool called the Washington Management Service.



Shit 

An SPD officer died today after falling into the Ship Canal.



5.5% 

Unemployment is up in the state, despite a number of people employed. There's a larger total workforce.



Campaign Web Sites 

I'm still working on questions for Ferguson and Edmonds, any thing you'd like to know, ask away. But I decided to make sure I could find their email addresses (some of the older readers may remember I had some trouble with Dave Ross).

Anyway, I found websites for both of them and there is contact info. The Carolyn Edmonds page is better. It's more interactive. My only problem is the map has the cities in the new district. It has parts of Seattle and Woodenville, but for Woodenville it's cut off so the map says she's running in W.

The Bob Ferguson page isn't quite as good, although I do like the picture of the city (but downtown isn't part of his current district or the new one). The issues section seems a bit stale (articles from 2003 and let's reduce the size of the council).

Of course I think both of them should have a blog and other bells and whistles. But I understand that my expectations for a county council seat have to be a bit lower than my expectation for a national office.



Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Mary Helen Roberts 

Former Featured Dem Mary Helen Roberts sent out an e-mail detailing what she's up to in the legislature.

SHB 1366 -- requiring posting of signs about video game ratings

SHB 1426 -- mandating a DSHS/Department of Corrections task force to address meeting the needs of children with incarcerated parents


HB 1986 --
requesting the Higher Education Coordinating Board to review tuition waivers impacting higher education institutions


HB 2030 --
establishing a new form of guardianship to assure permanency for children who have been in the foster care system


HB 2064 --
clarifying juvenile court jurisdiction [...]

Sen. Paull Shin, Rep. Brian Sullivan and Rep. Mary Helen Roberts invite residents of the 21st Legislative District to attend town hall meetings on Saturday, March 19.



ISSUES FOR POSSIBLE DISCUSSION INCLUDE :

- State budget

- Paine Field

- Transportation and ferries

- Topics of interest to you


WHEN AND WHERE

Saturday, March 19

10 a.m.: Beverly Elementary School

5221 168th St. SW, Lynnwood, 98037


1 p.m.: Harbour Pointe Middle School

5000 Harbour Pointe Blvd., Mukilteo, 98275



Whatcom County Homeless 

There are 839 in the whole county. That's up by more than half of last year's number.



Goats 

They'll probably be classified as livestock by the end of the session. And then life will be worse for goat thieves.



Chief 

Lacy is looking for a new police chief. The candidates:

Lacey police Cmdr. Dusty Pierpoint, Washington State Patrol Capt. Brian Ursino and Ken Lightfoot, who leads the patrol division in Sparks, Nev., are vying for the job. One will replace Chief Larry Dickerson, who is retiring this month after 37 years with the department, the past two as its leader.



Against Reform 

Wow. To a man the senate Republicans refused to support pushing the primary date to August. That with the help of 4 Democrats and the fact that anything dealing with the primary will need 2/3 of the votes of both houses for the next few years conspired to kill the bill. Stilwell says we should bring this up repeatedly. Republicans oppose reform when given the chance.



Court Safety 

With the recent murder of a judge and court reporter in Atlanta, local courthouses are taking a look at their own security. The Benton and Franklin Counties' judicial system is especially on the look out because it has been a target in the past. But budget problems have made basic security tough.

Franklin County, however, cited budget woes in its decision late last year to cut back on security patrols at the courthouse and public safety building. And requests over the years by county employees and court officials to close off all but one public entrance and install an airport-style security station have been met with resistance by county commissioners who don't want to inconvenience the public.[...]

One Franklin County courtroom is equipped with bullet-resistant walls on the judge/clerk bench, the court reporter station and the barrier between the court proceedings and the gallery. But there's no measure in place to prevent people from bringing weapons into the courtroom, and county officials have said it would take more money than already allocated to beef up security when the restored courthouse reopens in about a year.

Judge Jim Lawless was killed in June 1974 at his Franklin County Courthouse chambers as he opened a package containing a pipe bomb. Ricky Anthony Young, whose fingerprint was found on a piece of bomb fragment, is serving a life sentence for the murder.



Monday, March 14, 2005

Gold Bar 

Permanent Defense and Goldy are more interested in the fact that Gold Bar might have to disband than I am. I've only been up there once, and I kind of liked it, but I didn't think it would be horrible for them to be not a city. I thought Darrington losing out on actual grant applications was more interesting than what role the county plays versus city government. But the loss of $707,000 over half a decade has had real consequences.



EFF'd Up 

Thanks to reader BB for the tip. I quite enjoy the website that's there "because when state workers get organized, Satan pokes Grover Norquist in the Butt with a pitchfork." It's pretty new, but I laughed reading things like this:

FedUp shouldn't be the only shadowy front group fighting public sector employees. What if they make a mistake? We could lose this opportunity to screw state workers. That's why I've created F'dUp. Hopefully, I too can receive help from extremist right-wing groups like EFF.
I hope they stick around a bit.



New Job 

As of Wednesday, I'll no longer be delightfully under employed, but back to fully employed. I don't know what this will mean for the frequency of posting, but just a heads up.



Covering Vets and Reducing Costs 

Wow. It isn't often that giving retired vets who work for the state better health coverage will save $17.6 million over the 2 year budget cycle. But that's precisely what SB 5391 does. And that's why it passed the Senate 47-0.

Currently, retired military personnel who come to work for the state have the option of choosing a comprehensive health plan offered by the state or retaining the Department of Defense (TRICARE) coverage they are eligible for. TRICARE does not cover as much health care as the state’s comprehensive plan.

But under SB 5391, former military personnel would have a third option – a TRICARE supplemental plan that the state would purchase for them, which would complement their existing TRICARE coverage and giving them more comprehensive coverage.

The benefit to the retired military employees who chose the supplement and retain their military coverage is that they would have no monthly premium. The benefit to the state is that the cost of the supplemental plan is only $62 a month. That difference in costs will result in a net savings to the state of $17.6 million during the upcoming two-year budget cycle and $24 million during the 2007-09 budget period.



Tie it Down 

The House passed a bill to increase the fines when failing to cover a load on the highway causes problems. The story related in the press release is a woman who was blinded by a 2-by-6 that fell off a truck it was improperly fastened to. The driver ultimately had to pay a fine of just under $400. The release doesn't say what the new fees are but I guess there is a criminal component as well as the increase.



Wild Fires Don't Care Where They go 

(You have to sing it to the Dolly Parton song, and then ignore that I'm an idiot) Anyway, wild fires are already springing up in Western Washington. It's too early, so this could be a bad fire season. This article is about the South Sound but it's true all over.



Sunday, March 13, 2005

And Speaking of the Vance Questions 

Here's mine: "Should we have new elections every time they are close or only when a Democrat wins?" Feel free to submit your own to the Daily O forum between now and Wednesday (provided blogger publishes this).



Local Blogging Around 

Blather Watch has the top 5 most self obsessed radio squalkers. They're all national (and one is liberal) but it's still a good list.

Joe at Boston Steamer also wants to know why The Stranger needs Sharkansky as its token liberal. And yes, half the post is an exerpt from my letter to The Stranger, but eh.

Oly Scoop lets us know about the Daily O's upcoming Capitol Chat sessions with Gregoire and Vance. Gregoire's is on Saint Pats' "just hours after the Forecast Council has issued the state's revenue update and just four days before Gregoire will submit her first budget proposal. It will also be just a few hours before most people of voting age will be three sheets to the wind."



Open Thread 

Closed needle edition (yeah I stole that joke from skippy).



Drought in Walla Walla 

The Union-Bulletin has some info on the specifics there.

``Right now we are on one well,' Gordon said. ``Early May and June is normally when the wells get turned on. We're ahead of schedule.'

To get a head start on conservation measures, Thomas said the Council has agreed that the city's Water and Wastewater Advisory Committee will work with him and Gordon to provide recommendations on what should be done to save water as the summer advances.

Thomas said they will meet with the committee this week and return to the Council in April to update its members.



I-695 and Snohomish County 

The Everett Herald has an article on rural and small cities' problems since I-695 and the rest of the tax slashing craze. It also deals with problems by the county itself. Darrington was the most interesting as far as what it's cost them.

The initiative's biggest impact in Darrington has been to dry up the small amount of extra money the town used to have for local matching funds when applying for grants, Boyd said.

Town officials have prioritized paying for basic services, and have little left over for developing plans for the airport, parks or the cemetery, she said.

"Without the plan, it's difficult to go after the construction dollars," Boyd said.
Of course most of the places mentioned voted for 695. So there's only so much boo hoo hooing you can do.



Ferry Food 

I didn't realize it had only been restored to some routes. But in May, food might served on the whole system.



Public Records 

The public records bill all but died. So we get to keep the overly broad view of attorney client privilege and an under broad view of access to public records. Can we do better next year? I hope so.

Lawmakers had hoped to pass legislation to settle the attorney-client dispute, but leaders in the House and Senate said Friday they will likely set the issue aside until next year, or maybe leave it to a future court fight.

The legislation bogged down last week after one key lawmaker, Sen. Jim Kastama, D-Puyallup, who had sided with the government lawyers, was hit by an onslaught of negative newspaper editorials. One headline: "Government secrecy finds its champion." [...]

Without that limitation, they say, the ruling gave government agencies broad new authority to withhold communications involving a lawyer.

"It gives a certain class of public employees a general exemption to disclosure, something no other class of public employees enjoy," said Scott Wilson, publisher of the Port Townsend Leader and president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government.

Critics also warn the ruling could allow agencies to claim attorney-client privilege on records prepared by other employees, such as paralegals and investigators.[...]

McKenna hoped his legislation would strike a fair compromise.
For instance, his bills call for stiffer fines on agencies that violate the disclosure law, but would shorten the length of time for people to file public-records lawsuits.

Newspapers and open-records advocates praised those provisions but complained that his attempt to define attorney-client privilege was tilted too far in favor of government attorneys.



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