McGinn, facing broad opposition, ends police drone program
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn said Thursday he will permanently ground the Seattle Police Department’s proposed aerial drone program. The Police Department had purchased two 3.5-pound Draganflyer X6 Helicopter Tech drones with money from a regional Urban Area Security Initiative grant. But during a community meeting last fall and a public hearing Wednesday night, opponents voiced strong opposition to the program, citing privacy concerns. (Now what about those cameras at Alki?) Seattle Times, 2-7-13.
MAP protest goes national; Seattle teachers flooded with petitions, flowers, chocolate from across the nation
What started as one school’s protest against the MAP test has quickly ignited a storm. First other schools in Seattle started weighing in, then the NAACP, and now, in the most striking demonstration of how the issue has touched a nerve, teachers, parents and students across the country. Let’s remember that the MAP test is given not just to Seattle students, but to millions of kids across the country. Seattle Weekly, 2-6-13.
Somebody’s listening: Dorn aims to cut 2 graduation exams
Starting with this year’s sophomores, Washington will be the only state to require students to pass five different tests to graduate. Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn would like to see Washington save money and time by dropping that number to three. HB 1450, which would make these changes, is scheduled to be heard Friday in the House Education Committee. Tacoma News Tribune, 2-7-13.
Strike ends: Teamsters at UNFI vote to ratify 5-year contract
Warehouse workers and drivers represented by Teamsters Local 117 overwhelmingly voted to ratify a fully recommended 5-year contract agreement with United Natural Foods, Inc. (UNFI) Thursday. The vote, held after a 3:30 p.m. meeting at the Teamsters building in Tukwila, officially ends the nine-week strike that started Dec. 10 at the company’s distribution center in Auburn. Auburn Reporter, 2-7-13.
Most comments on coal terminal are form letters, e-mails
More than 124,000 comments were submitted for the review of the proposed coal export terminal at Cherry Point, but the vast majority were form letters or e-mails, the review agencies said Wednesday. Only about 16,000 of the comments were uniquely worded, according to a joint news release by the review agencies: Whatcom County, the state Department of Ecology and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Bellingham Herald, 2-7-13.
The ace up Ed Murray’s sleeve
He’s got a plan to wrest Inslee of his ‘no new taxes’ stance
Murray (D-43) wants to take a capital gains tax proposal to Washington’s November ballot. His proposed tax would apply to capital gains beyond the first $10,000 for a person and the first $20,000 for a married couple. Crosscut, 2-8-13.
New senator pushes to delay Narrows Bridge toll increases
Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-26), appointed to replace Derek Kilmer in the state Senate, has introduced SB 5592, which would prevent a rate increase for two years by capping administrative costs, lowering the reserve fund, and delaying a $3 million bridge overlay till the next biennium. This would save $8 million to $11 million over two years. Kitsap Sun, 2-6-13.
Washington farm labor group recruits in Mexico
A Washington state farm labor group plans to travel to Mexico to recruit seasonal farmworkers to help farmers here harvest their crops this year. The Washington Farm Labor Association aims to recruit about 3,000 workers at the job fair Monday in the border town of Nogales, Mexico. The goal is for those workers then to be accepted into a federal guest worker program for seasonal employment. Columbian, 2-6-13.
Postal Service’s move to 5-day mail delivery stirs support, fury
Like a quarterback eyeing a hole in the defensive line, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and eagle-eyed USPS attorneys have found an opening in the law that binds the service to six-day mail delivery. When a temporary funding measure expires March 27, there will be no Congressionally imposed six-day requirement — a provision that has been in place since 1983. Donahoe hopes to break through that breach and implement five-day mail delivery starting in August. Saturday delivery of packages and mail to post office boxes would continue, as would Saturday post office hours. Most staffing cuts would come through reduced overtime and attrition, he said. Washington Post, 2-6-13.
Congress broke USPS, and now must fix it
The real cause of the agency’s fiscal problems is the unique congressional requirement — the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act (PAEA) of 2006 — that USPS prefund retirement benefits for decades into the future, including for employees that haven’t even been hired yet. No other entity in America — public or private — bears this burden. Since the PAEA took effect in 2007, the Postal Service has been required to pre-pay some $5.5 billion per year. Yet the same law prohibits the Postal Service from raising postage rates to cover the cost. The Stand, 2-7-13.
King on Rove: ‘Nobody can bully me’ out of a Senate run
Rep. Steve King (R-IA) Thursday e-mailed supporters asking for cash to stave off interloping efforts by a new Karl Rove-backed group in Iowa’s U.S. Senate race next year. The New York Times Sunday reported that King could be a target of Rove’s new group, the “Conservative Victory Project,” which would seek to put forward “more electable” candidates. Polls released this week showed that King, who has not said he will run in 2014 to replace retiring Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA), is the overwhelming favorite of the ultra-conservative Iowa GOP (and Tea Party activists). “I have not made a decision on this matter, but already Karl Rove and his army have launched a crusade against me,” King wrote, according to Politico. “They said I couldn’t win in 2012 — the entire political machine was against me — but I soundly defeated my opponent by 8 percentage points. So let me be clear. Nobody can bully me out of running for the U.S. Senate, not even Karl Rove and his hefty war chest.” Talking Points Memo, 2-7-13.
To Think About
Breaking Up with the Sierra Club
Dear Sierra Club: I’m through with you. More than a month has past since your executive director, Michael Brune, admitted in Time magazine that the Sierra Club had, between 2007 and 2010, clandestinely accepted $25 million from the fracking industry, with most of the donations coming from Chesapeake Energy. The Sierra Club had taken money, gobs of it, from an industry that we in the grassroots have been in the fight of our lives to oppose. The largest, most venerable environmental organization in the United States secretly aligned with the very company that seeks to occupy our land, turn it inside out, blow it apart, fill it with poison. All for the goal of extracting a powerful heat-trapping gas, methane, that plays a significant role in climate change. Common Dreams, 2-8-13.