Rod Dembowski appointed to King County Council, will represent Bothell, Kenmore and Kirkland
Dembowski takes the seat vacated by Bob Ferguson, who was elected Washington State Attorney General in November. Dembowski will face a general election for the position in November. He was among three finalists, including State Rep. Cindy Ryu (D-32) and Shoreline City Councilman Will Hall. “I am honored to have been given the opportunity to work on behalf of the residents of District 1 and all of King County,” said Dembowski, who has raised more than $70,000 for the race next fall to hold his new seat. Bothell Reporter, 2-11-13.
Activists revive group to fight I-90 tolls
Two Mercer Island women are leading a grass-roots lobbying effort against tolls on the Interstate 90 bridge. Lisa Belden and Eva Zemplenyi started politicking in 2008 when they first heard of state officials discussing I-90 tolls. Belden and Zemplenyi spent more than $4,000 on printing and mailing, but their group went dormant after their state representative, Judy Clibborn (D-41), chair of the House Transportation Committee, said in 2009 that tolling the I-90 bridge “isn’t on the table and it won’t be.” They revived their group last month when the prospect of I-90 tolls resurfaced. Seattle Times, 2-11-13.
Seattle Police surveillance cameras in West Seattle and beyond: McGinn promises ‘public vetting’
Mayor Mike McGinn is promising a “public vetting” before the cameras go into operation. No one has details yet on what will constitute the “thorough public vetting.” The cameras are funded – with an accompanying “wireless mesh” communications system – by a $5 million federal Homeland Security grant that the City Council OKd last May. (McGinn spokesman Aaron Pickus says the outreach will be done through the Seattle Police Department.) West Seattle Blog, 2-11-13.
What, more? FAA accepts 20 new applications to fly drones over U.S. soil
An Indian casino and the U.S. State Department appear on a new list of drone license applicants uncovered through a lawsuit against the Federal Aviation Administration. And the King County Sheriff’s Department (?!?) WTF, Urquhart? The nonprofit digital rights organization Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been using lawsuits to get the FAA to release information about drone license applicants, so that Americans can begin thinking about privacy issues and considering legal privacy protections. Scientific American, 2-11-13.
Kreidler takes another whack at health insurer surpluses – Regence and Premera have $2 billion in bank while premiums double
Once again, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is accusing health insurance companies of gouging customers, doubling rates while socking more than $2 billion away in the bank – and insurers are countering that it’s darn lucky they have the money with national health reform around the corner. There’s nothing new about the argument, but it shows how high the fears are running in insurance and business circles about Obamacare, one year away from the launch. Washington State Wire, 2-11-13.
‘Are you rich?’ Pam Roach plays hardball on I-1185
“La Cucaracha” (R-31) wants to require a two-thirds majority in the State Legislature to raise taxes. And she’s happy to bully colleagues and citizens to get there. The Tim Eyman vehicle is the fifth initiative seeking to require a two-thirds majority in the Senate and House to raise taxes.Washington’s Supreme Court is expected to rule soon on whether the two-thirds majority rule is constitutional. Crosscut, 2-11-13.
Can wolves and Washingtonians coexist?
Though Washington’s master plan has been to scatter reinstated wolf packs somewhat evenly around the state, most have, in reality, clumped in Washington’s northeast corner. That same corner is home to more than a few livestock owners who have seen a not-incidental spate of wolf attacks on their livestock. Republicans in the House and Senate are looking for answers. Crosscut, 2-11-13.
Former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer calls most Washington state coal export plans ‘dead’
Schweitzer, who just concluded two terms as Governor, tells in an in-depth, number-crunching interview why he thinks no coal will be exported from Washington State, what the near-term market is for different grades of Western coal and why, that he has no ambition to become Energy Secretary, and no desire to become a coal lobbyist, even though he was accused of being one all through his tenure as Governor. SNL.com, 1-17-13.
Senate defeats GOP amendment to scale back Violence Against Women Act
The Senate late Monday defeated a Republican-backed amendment to eliminate a provision of the Violence Against Women Act aimed at beefing up protections for Native American women, setting the stage for final passage of the reauthorization Tuesday. The amendment offered by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) would have stripped out language that allows tribal courts to prosecute non-Native Americans accused of crimes against Native Americans. Talking Points Memo, 2-11-13.
Young, liberal and open to big government
Missoula, a funky college town nestled along two rivers where five mountain ranges converge, has long been a liberal pocket, an isolated speck of blue in a deeply red state. Now Montana is electing more politicians who lean that way, thanks to a different-minded generation of young voters animated by the recession and social issues. New York Times, 2-10-13.
Detroit charter teachers live up to Chavez name
Congratulations to the teachers at Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Charter School. Chavez teachers, counselors and social workers voted Thursday to unionize the southwest Detroit charter school. The staff voted 88-39 to have the Michigan Alliance of Charter Teachers & Staff, associated with the American Federation of Teachers’ state affiliate, become their official bargaining agent. The teachers’ victory is even more impressive because Michigan is now a Right-To-Work state, making unionization twice as difficult. Mike Klonsky’s Small Talk Blog, 2-8-13.
At Cablevision, Norma Rae’s been escorted outside
Cablevision takes pride in its open-door policy for employees. So two weeks ago, a tight-knit band of cable television installers gathered at a company depot in Brooklyn to pick up route sheets and put ladders and tools in their vans. Then they trooped inside to ask a vice president for a few minutes of his time. For this they all were fired. New York Times, 2-11-13.
To Think About
Original Sin: Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people
With Barack Obama sworn in for a second term—the first president in either party since Ronald Reagan to be elected twice with popular majorities—the GOP is in jeopardy, the gravest since 1964, of ceasing to be a national party. The civil rights pageantry of the inauguration—Abraham Lincoln’s Bible and Martin Luther King’s, Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s swearing in of Joe Biden, Beyoncé’s slinky glamor, the verses read by the gay Cuban poet Richard Blanco—seemed not just an assertion of Democratic solidarity, but also a reminder of the GOP’s ever-narrowing identity and of how long it has been in the making. New Republic, 2-10-13.