(Daily Clips will be taking Friday May 3 off so that the editor can prepare for King County Democrats endorsement committee meetings. The Clips will resume Monday, May 6.)
May Day one year later: Seattle grand jury holdouts still not talking
When protesters smashed windows at a federal courthouse and vandalized property in Seattle last May Day, Katherine Olejnik and Matt Duran were not among them. Olejnik, 23, an Olympia waitress, and Duran, 24, a former information technology specialist, were 60 miles away from the mayhem unleashed by anarchist protesters dressed in black. But two months later they got a surprise. “It was really, really shocking. I was walking to work and an FBI agent popped out of a car and handed me paperwork, told me to show up to court,” Duran said. They’d been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury. It was enough to first put them in the federal spotlight, and then, when they defied the grand jury, to land them in prison at the Federal Detention Center in SeaTac last September, not charged with a crime, but for what’s called “civil contempt of court.” KING5.com, 5-1-13.
Planned Parenthood, Seattle-area clinics sue after anti-abortion activist asks for patient info
Abortion providers in the Seattle area have sued to stop the state from releasing patient reports to an anti-abortion activist seeking detailed information on the region’s clinics. Filing a lawsuit in King County, the Northwest chapter of Planned Parenthood and four clinics have asked for an order preventing the state Department of Health from releasing some patient information to an anti-abortion activist who they contend has harassed abortion providers in the past. In November, activist Jonathan Bloedow filed a public records request with the state, asking to view the clinic reports filed with the Department of Health, which collects detailed information on abortions performed at Washington clinics and disseminates it through annual statistical reports. Seattle P-I, 4-30-13.
3 business groups to lawmakers: Don’t toll Seattle tunnel
Don’t toll the Seattle deep-bore tunnel. That’s the message in a May 1 letter sent from a group of North Seattle business organizations to the Washington State Legislature. The organizations believe that the tunnel tolls, which could range from $2.50 to $3.50, would push too much traffic onto city streets, and in some cases, away from their businesses. The letter continues by asking legislators to use a gas and transportation tax to raise the $200 million intended to be raised by tolls. That tax is now under consideration by the Legislature. Puget Sound Business Journal, 5-1-13.
They’re serious! Benton (!) named to top environmental post
State Sen. Don Benton (R-17) was tapped Wednesday to become Clark County’s director of environmental services in a surprise and controversial move by Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke. The two Republican commissioners’ action came about with no members of the public present, except for a Columbian reporter, and despite the angry objection of Democratic Commissioner Steve Stuart, who called the action “political cronyism.” Madore and Mielke directed County Administrator Bill Barron to begin the hiring process for Benton, saying it was unlikely a better candidate could be found, and the need to hire quickly required bypassing the county’s typical hiring practices. After chiding Madore and Mielke for circumventing the hiring process the county typically goes through, Stuart began to pack up his files and put on his coat. “I can’t even believe you guys are discussing that,” Stuart said. “This is disgusting.” If Benton takes the position, it won’t violate any rules within the Washington Legislature. As outlined in the state’s Constitution, Benton is considered a part-time citizen legislator who can seek other employment opportunities. Vancouver Columbian, 5-1-13. Even the Columbian has had enough, calls Benton “not even minimally qualified.” Vancouver Columbian, 5-1-13.
PLU students rally to support union effort by contingent faculty members
“Down, down, down with exploitation! Up, up, up with education!” students of Pacific Lutheran University chanted as they marched to show their support for contingent faculty Wednesday morning. Rallied together in PLU’s Red Square, more than 50 students equipped with signs and wearing red clothing stood together to support International Workers’ Day, also known as May Day. PLU has filed objections with the NLRB to an election that would determine whether SEIU will represent 176 contingent faculty members in negotiations concerning wages, benefits and working conditions. Tacoma News Tribune, 5-1-13.
After trooper’s death, officers to have more info in traffic stops
Police officers around the state have been armed for the first time with information that can serve as a warning for how likely a felon might be to resort to violence on a traffic stop. The state’s Department of Corrections conducts a risk assessment at the conclusion of an inmate’s sentence. The assessment — its best guess as to whether the inmate will return behind bars after release — has never been available to officers on the street. But after State Trooper Tony Radulescu was shot to death on a traffic stop by a felon in February 2012, local law enforcement leaders wondered what could be done to better safeguard officers. The risk assessment — which classifies each offender as “low,” “moderate,” “high nonviolent” and “high violent” — will provide even better and more specific information. The risk assessment also will come with another new tool for officers: the knowledge of whether a person is being supervised in Washington for a crime in another state. Kitsap Sun, 4-30-13.
Obama administration plans to appeal Plan B ruling
The Justice Department filed notice late Wednesday that it will challenge a federal court decision requiring the government to make emergency contraceptives available over the counter to women of all ages. The move came hours after the Food and Drug Administration approved over-the-counter sales of emergency contraceptives to women 15 and older. Previously, Plan B was available to teenagers younger than 17 only with a prescription. Older women had to request it from a pharmacist. The Obama administration also asked the U.S. District Court of the Eastern District of New York to stay Judge Edward Korman’s early-April ruling, which is set to take effect Sunday. The administration’s challenge will no doubt reignite a debate over whether young teens should be eligible to obtain emergency contraception without a doctor’s consent, a politically fraught issue that has vexed two presidential administrations and led to the resignation of multiple FDA officials. Washington Post, 5-1-13.
Don’t like that one? How about this one? Obama taps anti-union, pro-charter Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary
President Obama plans to fill out his economic team Thursday, nominating a long-time supporter and a top aide for the jobs of Commerce Secretary and U.S. Trade Representative. Obama will nominate Chicago business executive and fundraiser Penny Pritzker for Commerce Secretary, and economic adviser Mike Froman for trade representative, administration officials said. Pritzker, who raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Obama’s two presidential campaigns, is on the board of Hyatt Hotels Corp. Her personal fortune is estimated at $1.85 billion, and she is listed among the 300 wealthiest Americans by Forbes magazine. USA Today, 5-2-13. The Hyatt Hotel chain—co-founded by Pritzker’s father, Donald N. Pritzker—is currently engaged in a lengthy and acrimonious dispute with the hospitality workers union UNITE HERE. A UNITE HERE-maintained campaign website alleges that Hyatt is “the worst hotel employer in America,” and that it has a lengthy track record of labor abuses including unpaid wages and crushing workloads. Ed Schultz, MSNBC, 2-1-13. Her inherited wealth has enabled her to form an entire network of charter schools, which helped make her a pro-charter, anti-union voice on the Chicago School Board, which is appointed and not elected. Chicago Tribune, 3-14-13.
Electoral college rigging scheme could spill into PA Governor race
A GOP proposal to split up Pennsylvania’s electoral votes proportionally, effectively ending its status as a prize swing state, could spill over into the governor’s race next year. State Senate President Dominic Pileggi (R) introduced the electoral vote legislation in February after an unsuccessful attempt, backed by Gov. Tom Corbett (R) and state Majority Leader Mike Turzai (R), to pass similar legislation in 2011. Pileggi’s office has said the bill is a low legislative priority, and Corbett has kept quiet about his position on the latest version, but Democrats have been warning for months that the Republican legislature might suddenly bring it to the floor before the next election cycle to boost the Republican presidential candidate in 2016. GOP lawmakers would likely have to push the bill through before the 2014 election to ensure Democrats don’t recapture either chamber or the governorship, and block it. Talking Points Memo, 5-1-13.
To Think About
The American public knows it’s downwardly mobile. What it doesn’t know is what it can do to arrest, much less reverse, that trend. Clearly, the expectations of economic security and mobility that were widely shared by Americans in the decades after World War II have vanished, replaced by a pervasive economic anxiety. Anxiety, however, won’t change anything. Neither will the majority of analyses of how we got into this fix, nor will most of the (relatively few) recommendations as to how we can get out of it. Moving from a shareholder capitalism that has diminished most Americans’ share of the national pie to a stakeholder capitalism that distributes a greater share of company revenue to the workers who produce it will require major changes to our political economy. It will require our remaining unions to organize millions of workers whom they won’t enroll as members but who can nonetheless agitate for better pay and working conditions. It will require Congress, state legislatures and city councils to set the kind of wage standards — and not just minimum-wage standards — that workers once were able to win for themselves before the advent of shareholder capitalism. It will require the rebirth of the kind of economic left in the United States that gave us the New Deal and the four ensuing decades of broadly shared prosperity. Tall orders all, but the alternative is just more anxiety, and all its attendant pathologies. Harold Meyerson, Washington Post, 4-30-13.