(Daily Clips will not publish Tuesday, May 14 due to technical difficulties. Hope to be back Wednesday, May 15.)
Special session could drag on to the bitter end
Washington lawmakers return to the Capitol Monday to finish their work on a two-year state budget, but with no deal reached during their two-week interim, the special legislative session could take its full allotted 30 days, if not longer. Budget writers in the House and Senate met a few times during their time off, though staffers met more frequently. But without firm agreement on what a compromise budget would look like, what exactly lawmakers will do immediately upon their return is still unclear. “We’re feeling our way through the initial stages here,” said Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-24), the top budget writer for Senate Democrats. “It’s kind of like a big steam engine getting going out of the station. There’s a whole lot of energy and steam, and it doesn’t move very fast to begin with. But I think it will start to pick up.” Another budget meeting was scheduled for Monday, on what was expected to be a very low-key first day of the special session. Associated Press (Tacoma News Tribune), 5-12-13.
Indoor pot production leaves giant carbon footprint
Marijuana growing is not a green industry. Done mostly indoors in Washington, pot production often uses hospital-intensity lamps, air conditioning, dehumidifiers, fans, and carbon-dioxide generators to stimulate plants and boost their potency. The power-hungry crops rival data centers or server farms in intense use of electricity, according to a peer-reviewed study last year in the journal Energy Policy. One kilo, or 2.2 pounds, of pot grown indoors, the study says, leaves a carbon footprint equivalent to driving across the country seven times. Producing one joint is equivalent to leaving a light bulb on for 25 hours. But in this blue-green state, very few folks are lobbying for pot grown under the sun in Eastern Washington where the climate is suitable, in part because of security concerns about outdoor grows. And absent a stronger push, it appears state-regulated retail stores will open next year without sun-grown weed on their shelves. Seattle Times, 5-11-13.
Whatcom County’s senators try unity, get discord on environment
This year was supposed to be different. After Republicans took over the state Senate in December, Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42) spoke of an “unprecedented opportunity to change the way Olympia operates.” The Senate, controlled by a coalition of all 23 Republicans and two Democrats, would pass bills on their policy merits, not for political reasons, he said. Ericksen and his rival, Sen. Kevin Ranker (D-40), showed signs early in the session of working together to pass environmental legislation. With the regular session over and a locally important environmental bill still alive for the special session that starts Monday, that cooperation appears to have unraveled. Ericksen, chairman of the Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, and Ranker, the committee’s ranking member, have drastically different priorities on the environment. Bellingham Herald, 5-12-13.
Appointment no promise in high-profile 26th District race
Sen. Nathan Schlicher (D-26), appointed to his seat when Derek Kilmer was elected to Congress, and Rep. Jan Angel, (R-26), elected three times in her district, will be among the many candidates spending part of this week filing with election officials to run for office. Other candidates might even file for the same race, but so far Schlicher and Angel are the only two candidates getting any attention in what could be the state’s highest-profile race this November. Schlicher hopes incumbency will be one of his tickets to success. The record indicates that it might not be so easy. Kitsap Sun, 5-11-13.
Backers of food labeling see hope
Food labeling activists, who lost a ballot brawl in California last year, are counting on a high-powered consulting team and the deep pockets of donors nationwide to pass their initiative in Washington this fall. Supporters of Initiative 522 on the November ballot have already stockpiled $1.1 million, with more than half of it coming from major contributors to the failed attempt to require food labeling in the Golden State. Meanwhile, foes of the measure trail badly in fundraising and lag in organizing but are expected to wage a vigorous and well-funded fight. The No on 522 campaign committee had raised a miniscule $1,144 as of Friday, according to reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission. Opponents have not hired a campaign manager or begun aggressively fundraising, though they say a prominent consulting firm capable of handling both chores could be on board this month. Everett Herald, 5-12-13.
Clallam land-use director denies wrongdoing; probe widens
An investigation into an overtime complaint has grown into a review of allegations that Clallam County land-use director Sheila Roark Miller used her office for personal gain and ordered the backdating of a building-permit document so it complied with the county’s new Dungeness water rule. Clallam County Administrator Jim Jones confirmed last week that county Department of Human Resources attorney Akin Blitz has expanded his investigation into the Feb. 21 whistleblower complaint concerning overtime, and is reviewing the building-permit file that contains the document in question. In an interview Thursday, Roark Miller, the only elected director of a department of community development in the nation, defended herself and her department. She won election to the post in November 2010 after 21 years as a department employee. Peninsula Daily News, 5-12-13.
Federal judge: Civil-rights suit against SPD officers can go to trial
A federal judge has ruled that a jury should hear a civil-rights lawsuit filed by a Greenwood man who was unarmed and suicidal when he was shot in the face by a Seattle police officer during a standoff four years ago. Nathaniel Caylor, who was despondent over the recent death of his girlfriend, told several relatives he was thinking of killing himself. When he locked himself in his apartment with their 20-month-old son on May 22, 2009, one relative called police. After a tense standoff involving several officers, Officer Eugene Schubeck spoke to Caylor from a landing overlooking the patio of the apartment. Caylor, who ranted at the officer for pointing a gun at him, turned to go back inside and Schubeck — without warning — fired a single round, striking him in the face and shattering his teeth and jaw, according to court records and depositions. U.S. District Judge Richard Jones, in a 31-page order issued April 30, rejected the city’s efforts to dismiss the lawsuit. Seattle Times, 5-12-13.
Pacific mayor ordered to reinstate suspended police officers
It’s been a bad week for controversial Pacific Mayor Cy Sun. Thursday, Sun learned he would face a recall election in June after King County Elections officials verified more than 415 signatures on a petition to oust the embattled mayor. Friday, a King County judge ordered Sun to take two of the city’s top cops off administrative leave. Sun suspended police chief John Calkins and Lt. Edwin Massy in March for what he called harassment and intimidation. The Pacific Civil Service Commission last month ruled that Sun broke the rules when he suspended the officers. Friday, a Superior Court judge sided with the commission and ordered Sun to fully reinstate the officers and return the equipment. Both officers are expected to return to work immediately, according to a Pacific Police Department news release. KOMO/Seattle P-I, 5-10-13.
Renton seeks $10M for aerospace center
The city of Renton is ready to donate land for a hands-on aerospace training center to serve young people hoping for careers in the industry. But getting the $10 million needed to build the facility from a cash-strapped Legislature is another matter. Right now there’s $5 million for the center in the House budget, and nothing in the Senate budget, said Jay Covington, Renton’s chief administrative officer. As the state Legislature starts a special session Monday, he’s hoping for the best. The Legislature in the last session provided $2.5 million for the project, some of which was used for design, and some of which was set aside for construction. The facility would be built on a 2-acre site at Renton Municipal Airport to be donated by the city and valued at $1.8 million. Puget Sound Business Journal, 5-10-13.
Kelly Maloney will run for Federal Way city council seat
Kelly Maloney has announced her candidacy for Federal Way City Council Position Two. Maloney is running to retain the seat after she was appointed to fill a vacancy in January. So far, Mark Koppang has filed to run for Position Two. Koppang and Maloney were among 20 applicants for the two council seats vacated in January by Linda Kochmar and Roger Freeman, who were elected to the state House. Maloney and Diana Noble-Gulliford were selected for the two positions. Federal Way Mirror, 5-11-13.
‘Living wage’ at issue in LA mayoral campaign
The pickup truck tooled around Highland Park on Saturday morning, loudspeakers in back crooning in Spanish: “Wendy, la Wendy. We’re gonna vote. $15 an hour we’ll make. Wendy, la Wendy, we’re gonna dance. Eric Garcetti start crying.” A political mailer prepared by the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor — and duly posted on the city’s Ethics Commission website — offers a strikingly similar promise. “On May 21, our votes can raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour,” says the brochure from the Coalition for Better Schools and Communities, the organization’s “super PAC.” “We are working hard to elect la Wendy our Mayor so she can raise the minimum wage.” But the pitches on behalf of Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel could cause considerable confusion by implying that all workers in Los Angeles could expect to get a minimum of $15 an hour under a Mayor Greuel. In fact, labor groups currently are fighting for the higher wage only for hotel workers. Greuel initially would not commit to the $15 hotel wage proposal, but several hours later Saturday her campaign said she supported it. Los Angeles Times, 5-11-13.
DOJ: We don’t need warrants for e-mail, Facebook chats
The U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI believe they don’t need a search warrant to review Americans’ e-mails, Facebook chats, Twitter direct messages, and other private files, internal documents reveal. Government documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union and provided to CNET show a split over electronic privacy rights within the Obama administration, with Justice Department prosecutors and investigators privately insisting they’re not legally required to obtain search warrants for e-mail. The IRS, on the other hand, publicly said last month that it would abandon a controversial policy that claimed it could get warrantless access to e-mail correspondence. CNET, 5-8-13.
GOP, Koch brothers find there’s nothing finer than Carolina
The GOP lost big nationally in 2012, but may have found the key to future success in one southern state. Cash from groups backed by the Koch brothers and others helped North Carolina Republicans build a robust conservative infrastructure and fundraising network, leading to the GOP winning both the governor’s mansion and the state legislature in the same year for the first time since Reconstruction. That takeover didn’t come overnight, but it caught Democrats by surprise, especially since Barack Obama carried the state in 2008 and lost only by 2 percentage points last year. The hope, say conservatives, is to replicate their successes elsewhere. Politico, 5-11-13.
Op-ed: The Family Unfriendly Act
There are two good things to say about the Working Families Flexibility Act, which passed the House this week with 220 Republican and 3 Democratic votes. One, the bill is bound to go nowhere in the Senate, and, two, even if it did advance, the White House has threatened to veto it. The bill, in brief, is worse than meritless; it is a fraud. According to its Republican backers, it’s an expression in legislative form of how much they care for families, work-life balance, and, in particular, working women. If this is caring, I would hate to see what contempt looks like. The bill would amend long-standing labor law by allowing private-sector employers to offer compensatory time off in lieu of time-and-a-half pay for overtime. Employers and workers are supposed to agree on the arrangement, but there is nothing to stop an employer from discriminating against those who prefer payment by cutting back on their overtime hours. Teresa Tritch, New York Times, 5-10-13.
To Think About
Op-ed: Today’s Know Nothing Party wears it proudly
Back in the mid-1800s there was a political party that called itself the “Know Nothings.” Ahead of their time, they were anti-immigration and pro religious purity. Eventually they disappeared, reanimating in our time, morphing into the “You Shall Know Nothing” party”; although I believe they prefer “Republican.” Some people don’t like it when I say things like that. But in the 1850s the name was meant ironically; today’s version flaunts know-nothingism like a banner. For today’s Republicans, to whom true conservatism is as foreign as whatever it is Sarah Palin sees from her porch, proscribing knowledge is an organizing principle. Sid Schwab, Everett Herald, 5-12-13.