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Saturday, December 24, 2005

Open Thread 

Merry Christmas edition!



Friday, December 23, 2005

Paying The Bills 

Today's version of the paying the bills series of orgs that are making an impact in the state and could use some scratch from you. The last couple of orgs have been national groups with a big local presence. While MoveOn and Progressive Majority do a hell of job here, they aren't exclusively local.

But there is a wonderful group that's been fighting the fight here for a while. When Tim Eyman was making crap up and there was nobody fighting back, Permanent Defense was formed. It's been one of the greatest forces against stupid assed initiatives. And they've spawned a bunch of spin offs, including NW Progressive.

They were the people opposed to 912 when it looked like it was going to pass easily and their constantly pointing out the consequences of that initiative if passed. They were the first people with anti-912 merch. And you can help them out for the next campaign where they are ahead of the game.



And Worth Every Penny 

As a KXOT listener, I'm of course upset that it will be going away. But John in the morning could probably be making a hell of a lot more and doing a hell of a lot less at a commercial radio station.



Thanks Darcy 

Shaun has a good point from Darcy Burner.



Reinstated 

Well apparently Sound Foods will still be on the ferries but they’ve screwed the ferry workers out of good healthcare. They’ll apparently have something, but it isn’t as good as it was. So apparently Sound Foods was lying about that they’d never be able to make a profit on the boats. I don’t know all the specifics, but Sound Foods is still not responding. Boo.



Thursday, December 22, 2005

Crochity Old Man 

Senator Stevens is so amusing. I for one welcome him any time he wants to come and spout some of his batshit craziness. In fact if he wants to spend some money on ads in our lovely media markets, I've already got the spot worked out:

Opening shot of ANWR:


Menacing voice: Maria Cantwell cares more about preserving this than she does about the interests of big oil.


If you re-elect her to the Senate, this bird might live another day. All right thinking Americans surely would prefer it covered in Oil. But not Maria Cantwell.


And this bird. What the hell is a sandpiper anyway? Sounds like some bird isn't playing for the right team if you know what I mean. Maria Cantwell supports gay bird marriage. Or something.


And how about this polar bear? You think it would continue debate to keep you alive? Hell no, it would just eat you and not have a second thought. Do you want to become bear kibble, Maria Cantwell thinks you do.

Ted Stevens: I'm Ted Stevens and I approved this ad because I'm loonier than a toon. I consider the decision not to destroy this pristine part of my state a sadder day than any when members of my family died. Including my wife. Sadder than 9/11. Sadder than Pearl Harbor Day. And if you can't understand my sense of proportion, then you're mean! So remember support the crazy guy and vote against Maria Cantwell.
All pictures lifted from the Burke's Website. I'd recommend you head out there if you have a chance before the new year because they are more awesome live than on the web.



Paying The Bills 

The second in this series of orgs that have a big impact on state politics is decidedly national. It's been doing fine work since they helped fight off the removal of Bill Clinton. Since then they've fought the rightwing deconstructionists at every turn.

Here in Washington, they fundraised for the recount when the party was still unsure what they were going to do. Now they're putting the pressure on Dave Reichert on the war in Iraq.

I'm talking about MoveOn. Now they're raising money for that ad campaign. So hopefully they can make it a good one.



Legislation 

Washblog has a couple posts on possible upcoming legislation for the short session.



More Budget 

In case you wanted to read the details straight from the horse's mouth.



Sims Rules! 

Thank God someone is fighting voter intimidation.



After Compton 

The Stranger has a list of the B list.



Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Paying The Bills 

I've decided to start a series of posts on orgs that have a big impact on state politics. I figure there isn't too much competition for the fundraising money right now, so if you've found you had a few (hundred?) dollars left after Christmas shopping you might want to throw them a bone.

Anyway, the first is an org who's blog I've linked to in the past. They do good work recruiting and financing people to run for positions all over the state. They've done well in moving the legislature to the side of good in recent election cycles as well as plenty of local races. They've been able to get good candidates in places where it's tough for good Democrats to win. And they have won.

I'm talking of course of Progressive Majority Washington. So go help them pay the bills and maybe they can spend even more time recruiting candidates and less time fundraising. (and Dean, then you can contact people 3 days before the deadline!)



Gregoire's Supplemental Budget 

These are tricky. Every new dollar spent this year needs to have two next year to work into the biennial budget. There will be some new hiring. And the fact that the right people like it and the right people hate it gives me hope.

It raises the general fund account to $27.05 billion. The governor proposes to keep about $905 million in four accounts, including an ending balance in the general fund and three other reserve accounts.

Here is a breakdown on the supplemental budget for the 2005-07 cycle, which still needs approval by state lawmakers who come into session Jan. 9 for 60 days.

It adds roughly 500 to 550 new state employees during the next 18 months. That includes 18 new State Patrol troopers; 180 Department of Social and Health Services workers, including 55 caseworkers in the Child Welfare Services program; 117 Department of Corrections workers including prison guards and community supervisors; mental health workers in a new wing at Western State Hospital; 7 or 8 at the new Department of Early Learning; 30 federal-grant funded employees at Department of Health.

It spends $223 million in new investments. This includes:
• $1.5 million to set up a Cabinet-level Department of Early Learning.

• $38.5 million to help high school students with the state’s new high-stakes graduation tests (the WASL).

• $690,000 of general fund money to create a Washington Youth Academy, or alternative high school for teens. Would also use $3 million in capital funds and $1.3 million in federal money.

• $46 million for WorkFirst, including additional money for child-care aid to families transitioning from welfare to jobs.

• $12.7 million for assisting families that adopt special-needs children.

• $17.5 million to develop biofuels production using grains such as canola and mustard grown in Eastern Washington. Money would go to loans for equipment such as seed crushers; governor would require fuel sellers to gradually increase percentage of biofuels used.

• $18.3 million in reduce regulatory burdens on small business, including repeal of a 5 percent penalty on tax returns with errors. Filing date for tax reports is delayed by five days.

• $3 million tax incentives to aerospace maintenance and research companies. This extends a lower business-occupation tax rate for repair firms and business and occupation tax credits for pre-production development spending left out of the $3 billion tax package in 2003.


• $500,000 of new money for Puget Sound cleanup (most of $42 million package comes from surpluses in toxins accounts).


• $500,000 for a tsunami warning system for the coast and $227,000 for an alternative or backup data system for emergency management that would go into Eastern Washington.


• $4.7 million for 18 new troopers on state highways, replacing similar number of officers already redeployed to provide homeland security on state-run ferries Puget Sound.

• $6.2 million for 55 new caseworkers in the Children’s Administration, part of reducing caseloads and allow more frequent visits to children by Child Protective Services staff.



Nothing Like The Run Around 

The Ferries say talk to Sound Foods and Sound Foods won't respond.

The vendor fired them as they do not work for us. The vendor could not make enough money to continue service.



Cantwell Filibuster Successful 

Seantor Maria Cantwell has prevailed in blocking drilling on the Alaska Arctic Wildlife Refuge. Goldy has the details.



Dear The Discovery Institute; 

I join your call in opposing activist judges. I think this court ruling shows that we simply can't trust any judge appointed by George W. Bush. As such, I hope you'll join me in opposing Alito. After all, if you appoint one activist judge, you're probably going to appoint more. Also, his favorite supreme court justices are among the most activist on the court.

...Sent



Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Vote By Mail 

King County moves in the right direction there. The County will be looking at the option and will have a report by the end of January.

King County Executive Ron Sims today announced he is proposing to change King County elections to an all-mail ballot system. Sims directed Records, Elections and Licensing Services Director Dean Logan to prepare a comprehensive plan and a proposed timeframe for establishing a vote-by-mail balloting process for the county's 1.2 million registered voters by the end of January 2006.

"While numerous outside reviews of our elections operation have recognized and praised the many improvements in King County elections, they also point out the complexity and duplicate effort in the current dual-voting system where the vast majority of voters have chosen to cast absentee ballots," Sims said. "An all-mail system is an important next step to reducing the challenges to running trouble-free elections and to build on the improvements and achievements of these last two years."

Sims said his goal is to adopt a system that fosters the highest level of public trust and confidence while increasing voter participation, improving access to voting, and simplifying the administration of elections. Options for in-person voting will be included in the report. The plan will include voter education and outreach plans to make sure the public is well versed on how the vote-by-mail system works. New technology also will allow for tracking of ballots in the mail stream and the ability for voters to confirm that their votes were received and tabulated.



Get Your Paperwork in Order 

The Blue Mountain Humane Society in Walla Walla is having trouble.



Ferry Food 

Rumor has it that Sound Food is firing its people on the Ferry and no food on the boats. More info as I get it. I've got some emails out.



Drinking Liberally 

Hey Seattle and near Seattle folks, come on down.



Monday, December 19, 2005

Sidewalks and Bike Lanes 

Hell!



Bon Fire! 

I may try to stop by before my final destination. But anyway, it looks like a hoot if you don't have any plans for New Year's Eve.



Two Gregoire Things 

First, she's proposing an additional $42 million for the clean up of Puget Sound. This will be awesome if she can make it happen.

Second, an interview with Lynn Allen of Evergreen Politics.

A big part of this session will be dealing with the supplemental budget. There is currently a $1.4 billion surplus. That’s the good news. However, there are a number of essential expenditures that must come out of the budget. For example, we have an increase in the caseload of social service agencies across the board. We need $176 million to fund the state pensions properly. Then we have a few strategic investments that this surplus will allow us to fund. The rest we want to set aside for emergencies or a downturn in the economy.

The biggest strategic investment is education. We have a lot of tenth graders that are not able to pass the WASL. That tells us we haven’t invested in students as we should. We don’t want to lower the standards. In the near-term we are looking into how we can help provide individual assistance to those students, by way of tutors or “English as a Second Language” programs as examples. What will it take to help these students pass the WASL?

Longer term we want to improve the schools, lower class sizes and get at the root causes of the inability of some students to do well in school. On the latter, we are going to start with providing better daycare and pre-school for the youngest children to prepare them to learn better in school. We know that children who are intellectually, socially and emotionally better prepared at an early age are more likely to succeed in school. I am proposing we fund a public-private partnership, the Early Learning Partnership Fund, to support high quality learning services in Washington, including an on-line ratings system for child care and preschools and a coordinated public outreach and education campaign to let people know the importance of early learning.

We will also be helping those who can’t afford to meet the skyrocketing costs of home heating. I will be asking the legislators that the $7.6 million from a recent case that was just settled go to fund this need.

We also need to fund biofuels and biodiesel research and development.

We will also propose funding key investments for emergency preparedness, including funding for tsunami warnings and increased funding for the UW seismic warning system.

Then we have a set of selected strategic investment, including the cleanup of Puget Sound. We need to address the conditions that have degraded the Orca’s environment.

In January we will also be looking at healthcare improvements. As a state we serve 1.3 million people in healthcare. With rising healthcare costs, that is expensive. We are looking at the root causes of lack of quality, costs, affordability. We want to look at how we can address those issues. We are willing to take risks and be innovative. I don’t think we solve the problem by cutting benefits. Or shift the costs to those who can least afford it.

So we are going to go to what is called “evidence based medicine”. There are huge inefficiencies in any healthcare system and we are going to tackle that and improve the entire system. That will cost money but it will save much more in the long run.



Gates On The Cover 

Bill and Melinda Gates are two thirds of Time's person of the year.



Open Thread 




Sunday, December 18, 2005

Spocraziness 

Who will replace West until 2007? If it's Hession who will replace him? The Moderate Washingtonian doesn't know either, but I guess, will be making some popcorn.



Slow News Day 

But Merry Christmas.



Percival Landing 

That looks like it's going to be a good thing.

Starting at the Fourth Avenue bridge and progressing around to the Port Plaza, the boardwalk plan calls for:

• A pier and pavilion at the northwest corner of the Bayview grocery store.

• A pocket park near the Olympia Yacht Club and another pocket park at the end of Sylvester Street.

• A pavilion near Sylvester Street.

• A new, at grade, boardwalk paralleling the Oyster House.

• A “City Dock” area near The Kiss statue, with more separation between traffic and the boardwalk, a new floating boardwalk creating a water-level connection, art to reflect the tidal changes of lower Budd Inlet and an enlarged public gathering space with night lighting and public art.

• More vegetation, a suspension bridge, a stage and overwater boardwalk at the corner of Water Street and State Avenue near Les Schwab Tire Center.

• A pavilion and floating stage, children’s play area, Squaxin canoes, seating and a new restroom facility near the open city lot across from The Olympia Center.

• A pedestrian walkway linking the boardwalk (near Budd Bay Cafe) and the Port Plaza to the Olympia Farmers Market.



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