(Daily Clips will not publish Wednesday June 26, so that the editor can attend Tuesday night’s meeting of the King County Democratic Central Committee. See you there.)
Inslee says deal imminent on budget; might be announced shortly
At the same time the state budget office notified tens of thousands of public employees that they will be furloughed indefinitely without pay next week, Gov. Jay Inslee announced that a breakthrough had been reached in budget talks between the House and the Senate, and a final deal may be announced at any moment. That ought to end once and for all the fear that state government will shut down on July 1, he said. Next Monday, a new fiscal year begins, and without a budget most state government agencies will have no authority to spend money. But another question was raised by Inslee’s announcement – what, exactly, was that breakthrough? Washington State Wire, 6-24-13. (Smith’s usual GOP slant, but a good overview nonetheless. Sure to be updated.)
With a budget in sight, what did Olympia’s turncoat Democrats really win?
“I think we’ve had a very successful session,” says Tim Sheldon (“D”-35), one of two state Senate Democrats who famously turned their back on their party this year to join with Republicans and stage a coup. Really? While Governor Jay Inslee just announced a “breakthrough” in budget negotiations—one he refused to provide details about—the legislature has allowed the state to come a week away from a shutdown. Even if a deal is reached today, one might argue that the prolonged stasis—taking the legislature deep into a second special session—has made the year in Olympia a screaming failure. From the point of view of the majority coalition caucus—formed by Sheldon, fellow “Democrat” Rodney Tom and Senate Republicans—there’s reason for chagrin too. Many of the reforms caucus members touted as their top priorities hit a brick wall when they got to the Democratic-controlled House. Seattle Weekly, 6-24-13. (Jumping the gun with analysis here, but interesting.)
Ex-senator: Benton’s complaint over profanity ‘height of hypocrisy’
For Sen. Don Benton to file a complaint against Sen. Ann Rivers (R-18) for cursing at him is the “height of hypocrisy,” Benton’s former Republican colleague Cheryl Pflug said Monday. The former Fifth District senator said Benton (R-17) got in her face and cursed at her last year, right after Pflug voted in favor of same-sex marriage. “He came to the front side of my desk and leaned forward,” Pflug said, adding that she was seated at that point. “He put his face up against mine and yelled ‘F— you! F— you!’ And there was a threat after that, something about making sure I didn’t come back.” Pflug was later told that Benton’s profane comments were so loud that people could hear him up in the Senate second-floor public gallery. An independent source present at the time has confirmed the account of the incident. Last week, Benton went public with a complaint he filed against Rivers (R-18). The complaint, given to Senate majority and minority leaders, stated Rivers went on an angry profanity-laced tirade in April that made him feel demeaned, embarrassed and physically threatened. Vancouver Columbian, 6-24-13.
Rep. Pike starts Facebook debate about teacher wages
State Rep. Liz Pike (R-18) is taking heat for a Facebook post in which she tells teachers to pick a different profession if they have a problem with their pay. Addressing public school teachers who want state legislators to approve a cost of living increase for teachers, Pike wrote: “Congratulations on enjoying your last day of the school year. If I had the opportunity to choose my career all over, I would have opted to get the necessary degree and teaching certificate so that I too could enjoy summertime off with my children, spring break vacations, Christmas break vacations, paid holidays, a generous pension and health insurance benefits.” Vancouver Columbian, 6-24-13. (This is the same bright light who wanted to arm all teachers. She wants them to be cops, and paid like rent-a-cops.)
Enviro group: Whatcom council is 4-to-3 pro-coal; Council: Huh?
Washington Conservation Voters seems to know something about the Whatcom County Council that council members themselves don’t even know. WCV sent an e-mail recently to its recipients that said: “the seven-seat council swings pro-coal by just one vote.” Of the four incumbents up for election this year, the letter says, two are pro-coal and two are “longtime WCV-endorsed candidates.” Council member Sam Crawford, who is one of three council members not facing an election this year, wrote: “Exactly who are the current ‘pro-coal’ county council members? My intuition is WCV will prove to be clueless as to how current council members might end up voting on this issue.” Bellingham Herald, 6-24-13. SSA spokesmen regularly note that coal trains already are a fact of life here, and they assert that coal train traffic will increase no matter what happens at Cherry Point. But Gateway Pacific opponents insist those arguments are misleading. In fact, just about every claim made about Gateway Pacific, from any side of the issue, is open to serious debate. Bellingham Herald, 6-24-13.
Campaign-contribution debate sparked by Pierce County case
If you sue the state’s campaign-finance watchdog, do your legal fees count as a campaign contribution? The state Public Disclosure Commission says yes. Backers of an attempt to recall Pierce County Assessor-Treasurer Dale Washam two years ago say no. So does the libertarian law firm that won a legal victory against the PDC last year. The Washam recall attempt is long dead. It fell short in September 2011, but its legal aftershocks continue. The implications could affect future recall campaigns, including Tuesday’s vote on a potential recall of Cy Sun, embattled mayor of the small city of Pacific. Tacoma News Tribune, 6-24-13.
Seattle City Council puts public election funding on ballot
Saying they want to reduce the influence of big donors on local politics, the Seattle City Council on Monday approved sending to voters in November a property-tax levy to publicly fund council campaigns. In adopting the measure 8-0, council members said they hoped the proposal would attract more candidates to run for City Council and engage more people in the election process. The measure would provide a match of $6 in public funds for every $1 raised privately, up to a total of $210,000 in public funds. “This will not get money out of politics,” Council member Nick Licata said before Monday’s vote. But he said the proposal’s requirement to get $10 donations or more from a minimum of 600 people would engage more of the public in campaigns and lead to discussion of a broader array of issues. Seattle Times, 6-24-13.
Seattle will close Nickelsville, spend $500K to house residents
The Seattle City Council has voted unanimously to shut down the homeless encampment known as Nickelsville, and to set aside $500,000 to help residents transition. The encampment has been dug in for two years at a site in West Seattle, and the council vote means this summer will be its last. The money will go to providing to provide housing and services to the more than 100 campers who live there. The city’s Human Services director will choose a nonprofit group to administer the money and the services. The camp is supposed to be vacated by Sept. 1. KPLU, 6-24-13. There was some debate, both in public testimony and then put forth as a possible amendment by Council member Sally Bagshaw, of directing some of this money toward people living in the green belt areas surrounding Nickelsville, which now have their own satellite encampments. As one Highland Park neighborhood resident said at a council meeting a while ago, their neighborhood is no longer hosting just Nickelsville, but also “the suburbs of Nickelsville.” The Stranger, 6-24-13.
Negative outlook for Port’s finances
The Port of Seattle’s financial outlook is poor and likely to get worse, according to Moody’s Investors Service, which changed its outlook on the Port’s bonds from stable to negative last week. The news won’t immediately change anything for taxpayers. Moody’s stuck with the existing ratings on the Port’s $2.7 billion debt. But it’s a signal that the taxpayer-subsidized Port is facing a lot of challenges. Port spokesman Jason Kelly said the Port is working to address its challenges. For example, in May, Port CEO Tay Yoshitani handed over some of his day-to-day responsibilities to his deputy chief executive officer so he could focus on promoting the Port and attracting new shipping lines. Seattle Times, 6-24-13.
Medina: Where presidents visit big political givers
The Sunlight Foundation unsurprisingly identifies New York and Washington, D.C., as homes to the biggest of big givers in American politics — the “1 percent of the 1 percent” — but high on the list in a new study is the small community of Medina, Washington. Medina had only 2,969 residents according to the 2010 census, but no town in Washington has seen more visits by presidents and would-be White House occupants in recent years. President Obama came through twice in the 2012 election cycle, President Bush stopped by, and Republican Mitt Romney held two top-dollar events in the Eastside suburb. Candidates do not press the flesh or kiss babies when they come to Medina, although President Obama did make one brief photo op stop at the Medina Elementary School in February of last year. Seattle P-I, 6-24-13.
Supreme Court voids key portion of Voting Rights Act
The Supreme Court says a key provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act cannot be enforced until Congress comes up with a new way of determining which states and localities require close federal monitoring of elections. The justices said in 5-4 ruling Tuesday that the law Congress most recently renewed in 2006 relies on 40-year-old data that doesn’t reflect racial progress and changes in U.S. society. The court did not strike down the advance approval requirement of the law that has been used, mainly in the South, to open up polling places to minority voters in the nearly half century since it was first enacted in 1965. But they said lawmakers must update the formula for determining which parts of the country must seek Washington’s approval for election changes. (That should be easy, right? With the Tea Party in control of the House?) Associated Press, 6-25-13.
IRS scrutinized liberal groups, too, documents show
The instructions that Internal Revenue Service officials used to look for applicants seeking tax-exempt status with “Tea Party” and “Patriots” in their titles also included groups whose names included the words “Progressive” and “Occupy,” according to IRS documents released Monday. The documents appeared to back up contentions by IRS. officials and some Democrats that the agency did not intend to single out conservative groups for special scrutiny. Instead, the documents say, officials were trying to use “key word” shortcuts to find overtly political organizations — both liberal and conservative — that were after tax favors by saying they were social welfare organizations. But the practice appeared to go much farther than that. One such “be on the lookout” list included medical marijuana groups, organizations that were promoting President Obama’s health care law, and applications that dealt “with disputed territories in the Middle East.” New York Times, 6-24-13.
Alpine Lakes: In the hands of a hostile House
The U.S. Senate’s passage of Alpine Lakes legislation last week poses a question that may be answered next month: Is the U.S. House of Representatives so hostile to environmental legislation that it will not pass even a non-controversial bill with a Republican congressman as lead, longtime sponsor? Starting in 2007, Rep. Dave Reichert, (R-8) has sponsored legislation that would add the wild Pratt River valley in eastern King County to the existing Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. If the Alpine Lakes-Middle Fork legislation passes Congress, 22,000 acres would be added to the wilderness area, and the river valley would be preserved for recreational use. It would also create, in eastern King County, a large protected swath of lowland forests and streams. Seattle P-I, 6-24-13.
Texas GOP Rep on abortion: Women get ‘cleaned out’ with ‘rape kits’
One Texas GOP state representative is apparently confused about what “rape kits” are used for. While the Texas House debated an anti-abortion omnibus bill for 15 hours Sunday night, Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D) called for an exemption for victims of rape and incest, Associated Press reported. Rep. Jodie Laubenberg (R) objected, saying “rape kits” make that exemption unneccessary: “In the emergency room they have what’s called rape kits where a woman can get cleaned out,” [Laubenberg] said, comparing the procedure to an abortion. “The woman had five months to make that decision, at this point we are looking at a baby that is very far along in its development.” Talking Points Memo, 6-24-13.
To Think About
Massachusetts Senate contest offers stark choice about austerity
Democratic Rep. Ed Markey and Republican private equity investor Gabriel Gomez are very different individuals with very different positions on the issues. Some effort has been made to pitch Gomez as a moderate who could work with President Obama, in the spirit of Scott Brown at his most mainstream. But the Markey and Gomez have little shared ground; they’ve clashed on everything from whether Edward Snowden should be labeled a “traitor” to the threat posed by big-money influence on politics. The most fundamental difference, however, is on the question of austerity. And that’s where today’s election will turn in one direction or the other. John Nichols, The Nation , 6-25-13.