King County

Diversity means opportunity in Tukwila

Zaynaba Gobana of Minneapolis, left, visits her childhood friend Halimo Galgalo, owner of the Top Fashion store in the Juba Shopping Mall in Tukwila.

Zaynaba Gobana of Minneapolis, left, visits her childhood friend Halimo Galgalo, owner of the Top Fashion store in the Juba Shopping Mall in Tukwila.

The lunch room at Tukwila Elementary School fills and, suddenly, it feels like the United Nations. White, black and every shade in between is elbow-to-elbow, eating lunch— Somali, Kenyan, Eritrean, Bosnian, Turkish, Korean, Vietnamese, Mexican, Russian, Burmese, Nepali. You need a world map to keep track. The cultural mash-up is one of the more obvious signs of the global migration that has transformed this once sleepy Seattle suburb into an international city of the future. Largely ignored, sometimes mocked, and often mistaken as “Southcenter” after the shopping mall that occupies the city’s south end, Tukwila has quietly taken its place beside New York and San Francisco as one of the most diverse cities in the country. In Tukwila, 62 percent of the population is minority and more than 49 percent speak a language other than English at home, according to the 2010 census. Seattle Times, 5-17-13.

Harley Hoppe, colorful assessor, tax foe, dies

Harley Hoppe, former King county Assessor, died at age 82 last week.

Hoppe

Harley Hoppe, the colorful former King County assessor, was an early promoter of taxpayer rebellion in Washington. A lightning rod for controversy, he was known almost as much for his love of horse racing and flamboyant clothes as for his tax-cutting efforts. Mr. Hoppe, who had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, died in his sleep Monday (May 13) in his Mercer Island home. He was 82. Mr. Hoppe lost more battles than he won with his state anti-tax initiatives, and his bids for county executive and governor were unsuccessful. But his political influence never entirely disappeared. Seattle Times, 5-18-13.

Seattle labor activist Will Parry dies at 93

Will Parry, longtime Seattle advocate for working and retired people, died last week at age 93

Parry

Will Parry, a labor activist and writer whose commitment to working people and social justice made him an inspiration to generations of progressive leaders, died May 13 at age 93. Mr. Parry founded the Puget Sound Association of Retired Americans (PSARA) to take on issues such as Social Security and health care for seniors. n 2010, the Seattle City Council issued a proclamation honoring Mr. Parry for his “lifelong commitment, and work, to achieve social and economic justice for all the residents of Seattle.” A celebration of his life is planned June 29 from 2 to 5 p.m. at the Seattle Labor Temple, 2800 First Ave. Seattle Times, 5-19-13.

Labor leader Larry Kenney pushed for farmworker rights

Former State Labor Council president Larry Kenney died last week at age 82

Kenney

Former state Labor Council President Lawrence Kenney was remembered last week for his advocacy for farmworkers at a time when such a stance took courage. Mr. Kenney’s actions took courage “because that’s not where some segments of the Labor Council were coming from at that time,” former Governor Mike Lowry said. Mr. Kenney died Tuesday at his home in Seattle after a long illness. He was 82. He was surrounded by his wife, former state Rep. Phyllis Gutiérrez Kenney, and his children. Seattle Times, 5-18-13.

The State

Bill-job conflict: It’s not unusual in Olympia

 

Rep. Steve Kirby (D-29)

Kirby

Rep. Steve Kirby (D-29) says he kept busy during the Legislature’s brief hiatus this month by training for his new job at a Tacoma-area credit union. It’s a field that intersects with his work at the Capitol. As the chairman of the House Business and Financial Services Committee, Kirby has the power to decide the fate of finance-industry bills — including those that affect his new employer, Harborstone. Conflict of interest? Not in Washington, where lawmakers routinely work in the same fields they regulate, with the blessing of state ethics rules. Kirby said his new position as a business sales and service specialist pays less than $50,000 a year and does not involve assisting with the credit union’s policy-making or lobbying. Kirby is not alone in his ability to wield influence over legislation that could help or hurt his bosses. Tacoma News Tribune, 5-19-13.

‘Pit-to-pier’ not over yet, company says

Artist’s rendering depicts the proposed pier in Hood Canal designed to load gravel onto barges and ocean-going ships.

Artist’s rendering depicts the proposed pier in Hood Canal designed to load gravel onto barges and ocean-going ships.

The “pit-to-pier” project isn’t dead, its manager said, despite a conservation agreement in the works between the state and the Navy that would prohibit new construction along areas of Hood Canal. “We’re going to be going forward,” said Dan Baskins, project manager for the Thorndyke Resources Project, before referring inquiries to the company’s spokesman. The Navy is working with the state Department of Natural Resources, or DNR, to secure a department-owned strip of subtidal lands stretching from the Hood Canal Bridge south to just below the border between Jefferson and Mason counties. The agreement, expected to be approved by the Navy by this fall, would prevent new nearshore commercial and industrial construction along the areas of Hood Canal and neighboring waterways that the DNR manages and in which the Navy operates. Some have heralded the pending agreement as signaling the end of the Thorndyke Resource Project, nicknamed “pit-to-pier,” a proposal that would move gravel from an extraction area near the former Fred Hill Materials Shine pit along a 4-mile-long conveyor belt to a 1,000-foot pier at Hood Canal where it would be loaded on barges for shipping. Peninsula Daily News, 5-18-13.

The Nation

Obama gets personal about race and manhood in Morehouse College speech

President Obama told graduates of Morehouse College Sunday to take the power of their example — as black men graduating from college — and use it to improve people's lives.

President Obama told graduates of Morehouse College Sunday to take the power of their example — as black men graduating from college — and use it to improve people’s lives.

President Obama Sunday summoned the graduates of historically black Morehouse College to “transform the way we think about manhood,” urging the young men to avoid the temptation to make excuses and to take responsibility for their families and their communities. Delivering a commencement address at the all-male private liberal arts college in Atlanta, Obama spoke in deeply personal terms about the “special obligation” he feels as a black man to help those left behind. “There but for the grace of God, I might be in their shoes,” Obama said. “I might have been in prison. I might have been unemployed. I might not have been able to support a family — and that motivates me.” Washington Post, 5-19-13.

Lawmakers express privacy concerns over Google Glass

Eight members of Congress have formally demanded that Google address a range of privacy concerns about its new wearable technology device, Google Glass. The letter, addressed to Larry Page, Google’s chief executive, outlined eight questions for Google and asked for a response by June 14. The glasses, which are not yet for sale to the public, connect to the Internet and allow people to do things like take photographs, record and watch video, send text messages, post to social media sites and read text snippets. They have already raised privacy concerns on issues like unwanted recording. The request, from the Bipartisan Congressional Privacy Caucus, came as Google held its annual I/O developers conference in San Francisco. New York Times, 5-17-13.

Tea Party sees IRS debacle as spark for movement rebirth

Is the tea party getting its groove back? Shouts of vindication from around the country suggest the movement’s leaders certainly think so. They say the IRS acknowledgement that it had targeted their groups for extra scrutiny — a claim that tea party activists had made for years — is helping pump new energy into the coalition. And they are trying to use that development, along with the ongoing controversy over the Benghazi, Libya, terrorist attacks and the Justice Department’s secret seizure of journalists’ phone records, to recruit new activists incensed about government overreach. It’s unclear whether a movement made up of disparate grassroots groups with no central body can take advantage of the moment and leverage it to grow stronger after a sub-par showing in last fall’s election had called into question the movement’s lasting impact. Associated Press (Talking Points Memo), 5-19-13.

To Think About

Religious liberty: Does it mean freedom to discriminate?

A boy holds a sign in front of the Massachusetts State House after a state supreme court decision made the Bay State first-in-the-nation to legalize gay marriage.  Lawmakers were considering a proposed amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

A boy holds a sign in front of the Massachusetts State House after a state supreme court decision made the Bay State first-in-the-nation to legalize gay marriage. Lawmakers were considering a proposed amendment defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

In the closing days of Washington’s same-sex marriage debate, Yakima’s Catholic Bishop Joseph Tyson thundered in a pastoral letter that marriage equality “jeopardizes freedom rather than expands it” and “endangers our religious liberty and the right of conscience.” Last week, after Minnesota became the 12th state to say that people of the same gender can wed, Minnesota’s Council of Catholic Bishops described the new law as “a serious threat to the religious liberty and conscience of Minnesotans.” While doubtless poll-tested, the language is Aesopian.  The “liberty” and “freedom” being defended is the right to deny freedoms to other Americans, and to refuse goods and services to a defined class of citizens. As well, the language heard now, directed at gay and lesbian Americans, has been heard in the not-too-distant past—and even the present— to justify discrimination against African-America ns, women, Jews, Muslims . . . heck, even the Irish. Joel Connelly, Seattle P-I, 5-17-13.