Inslee vetoes part of CRC funding
Gov. Jay Inslee signed the $8.7 billion transportation budget (SB 5024) Monday that puts money toward maintaining state roadways and continues spending on existing big-ticket projects, but he vetoed several sections, including one that would have spent $81 million in planning money for a replacement bridge carrying Interstate 5 over the Columbia River. The budget includes continued funding for the Alaskan Way Viaduct tunnel project, a replacement bridge for State Route 520 over Lake Washington, and high-occupancy lanes on Interstate 5 in Tacoma. The budget initially included the planning money for the Columbia River Crossing, but the Republican-dominated Senate has also come out in opposition to the CRC in its current form, saying that it is too low and should not include light rail transit. Inslee says there’s no point of spending the planning money if the state funding for the bridge isn’t there. Associated Press (Seattle Times), 5-20-13.
Inslee, Heck join rally at Capitol for transportation funding
Gov. Jay Inslee, U.S. Rep. Denny Heck (WA-10), and several other elected officials spoke at a rally on the steps of the Capitol Monday in favor of a transportation funding package. About 200 people attended the event, many wearing neon safety gear and carrying signs that said: “Do your job so we can do ours,” and “Finish your job.” The governor has said transportation funding must be a top priority during the current 30-day special session. King County Executive Dow Constantine said that when he was a state representative 17 years ago, transportation was never a partisan issue. He said he’s hopeful Monday’s rally will spur that type of bipartisanship again. Constantine talked about the need for transit funding, saying the King County Metro system will face a 17 percent cut in service if the Legislature doesn’t take action this year. TVW, 5-20-13.
Commission unanimously OKs Tacoma Narrows Bridge toll hike
It’s official: Tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge will increase 25 cents starting July 1, with another 25-cent toll increase set for July 1, 2014. As expected, the Washington State Transportation Commission voted in favor of the toll hikes held after a final public hearing Monday evening at the Gig Harbor Civic Center. Tolls on the eastbound bridge will rise this summer to $4.25 for electronic payment, $5.25 cash and $6.25 pay by mail. Commission members said their task was difficult, but in the end they voted unanimously. They’re looking at rising payments on the debt incurred from construction of the 2007 bridge. Budgeted debt payments total $45.3 million in the current budget year and will increase to $54.3 million in the year that starts July 1. Meanwhile, bridge traffic has not met expectations. Tacoma News Tribune, 5-20-13.
No coal trains, no export ports, say Northwest Indian tribes
Fossil fuels should not be transported through the Pacific Northwest and exported out of ports in Washington and Oregon, according to a resolution adopted late last week by the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, representing 57 Native American groups in the region. The Affiliated Tribes, in a statement Monday, said they will take the resolution to this Thursday shareholder meeting of Goldman Sachs: The New York financial giant owns 51 percent of the holding company that includes SSA Marine, which wants to build a coal export terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham. Several individual tribes — notably the Tulalips, the Swinomish and the Lummis, all on the route to the proposed Pacific Gateway Terminal — have already taken a stand against the coal export project. Seattle P-I, 5-20-13.
Yakima Valley increasing doctors, staff to prepare for health care law
In October, an estimated 55,000 people in Yakima County will be eligible to start enrolling in expanded Medicaid and the state Health Benefits Exchange under federal health care reform. That means thousands of people will have access to less expensive health care than they’ve likely had before, flooding the community’s existing health care system. With any luck, local providers will be ready. Yakima Valley clinics and hospitals are hiring new primary care physicians, extending office hours, and expanding service locations in anticipation of the influx of new patients starting this fall, while also preparing outreach programs to educate community members about new options for health care coverage. Yakima Herald-Republic, 5-20-13.
UW Medicine, Catholic health system to have ‘strategic affiliation’
The latest in a long list of affiliations in Washington between secular hospitals and religious health-care systems is a shocker: UW Medicine and PeaceHealth said Monday they had signed up to create a “strategic affiliation,” with details to be spelled out by the end of September. UW Medicine, which receives taxpayer support, includes the University of Washington and Harborview medical centers, Northwest Hospital & Medical Center, Valley Medical Center, UW Neighborhood Clinics, UW Physicians, UW School of Medicine and Airlift Northwest. PeaceHealth, a nonprofit system based in Clark County and founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Peace, operates nine hospitals and physician groups in Alaska, Washington and Oregon, and a Medicaid health plan (Columbia United Providers). The two organizations said they will remain legally separate and independent, but critics of such affiliations noted that after Swedish Medical Center used such language in an affiliation with Providence Health & Services last year, it stopped doing elective abortions and closed its hospice service. Seattle Times, 5-20-13.
Seattle’s largest homeless encampments oppose Council legislation on encampments
Legislation intended to assist tent cities is meeting opposition from the very groups it’s aimed at helping. Nick Licata will introduce legislation on Wednesday, supported by fellow Council member Mike O’Brien and Mayor Mike McGinn, to allow longer-term tent cities to set up on public and private land in Seattle. The measure moves beyond what is already allowed under temporary use permits (six months) or the 2011 ordinance allowing encampments on religious properties. If the council doesn’t go for it, there’s alternate legislation planned to fund an environmental review of the current Nickelsville site so that encampment could become, perhaps more safely and healthily, an even longer-term camp than the two years it’s been squatting on this city land. There will doubtless be opposition on the council, but there’s also opposition coming from a different direction: SHARE, which runs Tent City 3—a camp that shelters up to 100 otherwise shelterless people—and Nickelsville, which supports a similar number of residents. The Stranger, 5-20-13.
Michelle Binetti to seek position on Auburn City Council
Michelle Binetti has filed as a candidate for Auburn City Council Position 6. Binetti will challenge incumbent Rich Wagner. Her candidacy, said the lifelong Auburn resident, is about offering Auburn fresh and needed leadership. Binetti, an Auburn High School graduate, attended Central Washington University. She is a health technician at Arthur Jacobsen Elementary School, a past PTA president and a softball coach. Auburn Reporter, 5-20-13.
Apple’s web of tax avoidance saved it billions, Congress finds
Even as Apple became the nation’s most profitable technology company, it avoided billions in taxes in the United States and around the world through a web of subsidiaries so complex it spanned continents and went beyond anything most experts had ever seen, Congressional investigators disclosed Monday. The investigation is expected to set up a potentially explosive confrontation between a bipartisan group of lawmakers and Timothy D. Cook, Apple’s chief executive, at a public hearing Tuesday. Congressional investigators found that some of Apple’s subsidiaries had no employees and were largely run by top officials from the company’s headquarters in Cupertino, Calif. But by officially locating them in places like Ireland, Apple was able to, in effect, make them stateless — exempt from taxes, record-keeping laws and the need for the subsidiaries to even file tax returns anywhere in the world. New York Times, 5-20-13.
Secret Service eyes right-wing radio host who wants to “shoot Hillary Clinton in the vagina”
The Secret Service is following up on recent comments by right-wing radio host Pete Santilli, who claimed to want to shoot former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the vagina and see President Obama tried and shot for treason. “We are aware of Mr. Santilli’s comments and will take the appropriate follow up action,” Edwin M. Donovan, a Secret Service spokesman, told TPM Monday. “He certainly has a right to free speech, but the Secret Service has a right and an obligation to determine what a person’s intent is when making comments like this.” He made the threatening comments the week before last on his eponymous Internet based radio program. Santilli is a fringe figure who has made threatening comments on his program in the past. Talking Points Memo, 5-20-13.
Koch Brothers’ petroleum coke pile grows along Detroit River
The black petroleum coke piles that have been growing larger along the Detroit River on the city’s Southwest side have drawn concern from local residents and Canadians alike, many of whom are worried about the oil sands byproduct’s environmental impact, not to mention the eyesore. According to an article in the New York Times, the piles are the result of Canada exporting more oil sands byproducts to the United States—a practice it plans to increase. Detroit’s petroleum coke piles have been produced By Marathon Petroleum refinery but are owned by Koch Carbon. Koch Carbon is run by Charles and David Koch, conservative lobbyists and businessmen who are well-known for questioning the science behind climate change. Ann Arbor News, 5-20-13.
To Think About
Public television’s attempts to placate David Koch
Last fall, Alex Gibney, a documentary filmmaker who won an Academy Award in 2008 for an exposé of torture at a U.S. military base in Afghanistan, completed a film called “Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream.” It was scheduled to air on PBS on November 12th. The movie had been produced independently, in part with support from the Gates Foundation. “Park Avenue” is a pointed exploration of the growing economic inequality in America and a meditation on the often self-justifying mind-set of “the one per cent.” As a narrative device, Gibney focuses on one of the most expensive apartment buildings in Manhattan—740 Park Avenue—portraying it as an emblem of concentrated wealth and contrasting the lives of its inhabitants with those of poor people living at the other end of Park Avenue, in the Bronx. Among the wealthiest residents of 740 Park is David Koch, the billionaire industrialist, who, with his brother Charles, owns Koch Industries, a huge energy-and-chemical conglomerate. The Koch brothers are known for their strongly conservative politics and for their efforts to finance a network of advocacy groups whose goal is to move the country to the right. Jane Mayer, New Yorker, 5-20-13.