A light weekend for King County-specific government and political hard news, but two veteran local columnists sure had plenty to say:
Dems keep shooting themselves in foot
How can legislators keep introducing a bill they don’t support? Because not only are they sometimes not reading their bills. They aren’t writing them, either. Lobbyists are. I’m referring to the Orwellian tale of three Democratic senators who sponsored an assault-weapons ban, SB 5737. Only to discover — when I called them, apparently — that it would allow police to search gun owners’ homes without a warrant. Danny Westneat, Seattle Times, 2-24-13.
Why not wait your turn, Sen. Tom?
Washington once had Republican governors: John Spellman was the most recent. Family, friends and old aides gathered Friday night at the Rainier Club to greet a lucid, readable new Spellman biography by John Hughes, part of the Washington State Heritage Center Legacy Project. Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (“D”-48), leader of a coalition of Republicans and dissident Democrats that runs the Legislature’s upper chamber, was on hand. Guests lined up to get books autographed by Spellman and Hughes. It was a fun line to be in. Stories were told. There was ribbing and much laughter. Nobody minded the wait except Rodney Tom, who strolled up to the front of the line, interposed himself, exchanged pleasantries with Spellman and Hughes, and had his book autographed. The line crashing did not go unnoticed, and elicited a bit of amusement from fellow guests. “If he were a better politician, he would have worked the line,” joked one esteemed Seattle editor/writer on the drive home. Joel Connelly, Seattle P-I, 2-24-13.
Federal sequester would close Renton Municipal Airport control tower, according to transportation secretary
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is warning that if the federal government’s sequester becomes a reality next week, several small airports could be affected, including Renton Municipal. LaHood Friday sent out a letter detailing the Transportation Department’s plans for dealing with the sequester. The cuts include furloughs of the “vast majority” of the Federal Aviation Administration’s 47,000 workers and the closure of more than 100 air traffic control towers at small airports, including Renton. Renton Reporter, 2-22-13.
Unusual expenses led to probe of Senate Dems’ campaign official
An investigation into whether the executive director of the Washington Senate Democratic Campaign Committee took political funds for his own benefit was prompted by unusual polling expenses after the 2012 election. Jason Bennett, a partner at Argo Strategies, who was in charge of compliance for the committee, said he reported that information to leadership Feb. 20. It then launched an investigation into handling of the committee’s funds by Michael King, the executive director. Seattle Times, 2-24-13.
Who will replace Reardon? Names already popping up
The Snohomish County Council or Gov. Jay Inslee will make the final choice of who should lead the third-largest county in the state as County Executive. They’ll pick from a list that’s likely to include Sheriff John Lovick, some state lawmakers, and maybe a member of the County Council. Whatever they do is likely to create a political vacancy elsewhere, and another party appointment. Former Edmonds Mayor and County Councilman Mike Cooper said he would be interested, butonly as a caretaker who would not run for the position in 2014. State Rep. John McCoy (D-38) also showed interest, saying the county needs somebody who can restore public trust in the executive’s office. Everett Herald, 2-23-13.
13 missteps by Aaron Reardon
Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon turned political heads for winning elections, keeping budgets balanced and talking jobs, jobs, jobs. He also made a series of missteps during his decade in county government, along a path that led to last week’s announcement that he will resign May 31. Everett Herald, 2-23-13.
Major Banks Aid in Payday Loans Banned by States
Major banks have quickly become behind-the-scenes allies of Internet-based payday lenders that offer short-term loans with interest rates sometimes exceeding 500 percent. With 15 states banning payday loans, payday lenders have gone online in more hospitable states or locales like Belize, Malta, and the West Indies to evade statewide caps on interest rates. The banks, which include Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo, do not make the loans, but they enable the lenders to withdraw payments automatically from borrowers’ bank accounts, even in states where the loans are banned entirely. In some cases, the banks allow lenders to tap checking accounts even after the customers have begged them to stop the withdrawals. New York Times, 2-23-13.
To Think About
Immigration reform and the American worker
If anything is going to wreck the current bipartisan push for comprehensive immigration reform, it’s the fact that many Americans are convinced that more immigration will be bad for American workers and for the U.S. economy. Intuitive as this may seem (more workers means fewer job opportunities and lower wages), actual evidence that immigration drives down wages is hard to find. On the contrary, a host of studies have found that immigration has actually boosted wages for native-born American workers as a whole, and that while immigration has had a negative impact on the wages of one group—men without a high-school education—that impact has been surprisingly small. Taken as a whole, in fact, the numbers clearly suggest that immigration reform would be a genuine boon to the U.S. economy. James Surowiecki, New Yorker, 2-22-13.