McGinn video attacks rivals for supporting “corporate welfare” on Whole Foods deal
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn’s final TV ad before the end of the Aug. 6 primary strikes a positive, almost apologetic tone. But in a web video aimed at his core supporters, McGinn takes a more aggressive tack, ripping his mayoral race rivals over their criticism of his efforts to block a proposed Whole Foods store in West Seattle. “The Whole Foods issue showed there is a big difference between me and my opponents,” McGinn says in the video uploaded Tuesday to his campaign’s YouTube channel. “They would have us give city land — your land — away to support a business that doesn’t share our values.” (Editor’s note: Just so everybody’s clear: The decision of whether or not to vacate the alley in question is solely in the hands of the Seattle City Council, and the mayor, having made his recommendation and his statement, has no further role in the process.) Seattle Times, 7-31-13.
Scott Walker will bring his anti-union tour to Seattle in September
The Washington Policy Center, a corporate-funded conservative think tank with close ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), has invited Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker to its 2013 annual fundraising dinner in Seattle Thursday, Sept. 5 at the Sheraton Seattle, 1400 6th Ave. Alongside state Rep. Jan Angel (R-26), WPC President Daniel Mead Smith is Washington state co-chair of ALEC, the controversial “corporate bill mill” that has pushed Stand Your Ground laws like Florida’s, discriminatory voter-identification legislation, and anti-union “right-to-work” (for less) legislation across the nation. Walker has become a hero of right-wing anti-labor conservatives for passing legislation in his state known as Act 10, which limited collective bargaining rights for state employees. He’s on a national tour to promote this fall’s release of his book entitled Unintimidated: A Governor’s Story and a Nation’s Challenge. The Stand, 7-31-13.
Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant arrested while defending homeowner from eviction in South Park
Months after serving an eviction notice, King County Sheriffs officers finally showed up at construction worker Jeremy Griffin’s South Park home this afternoon, leading to Griffin’s eviction and the arrest of Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant and other protesters participating in an eviction blockade. The eviction blockade was organized by SAFE (Standing Against Foreclosure & Eviction), a grassroots volunteer group that formed as an offshoot of Occupy Seattle. The Stranger, 7-31-13.
A loss of heritage: Indian Heritage School faces shutdown
With three Native students enrolled for the 2012-2013 academic year, no Native instructors, no cultural component, and an all-digital curriculum, some wondered if there was any reason to call it “Indian Heritage” anymore. For some, it was just another symptom of chronic decline that started years ago. Back in the mid-’90s, Indian Heritage boasted more than 100 students, dropout rates well below the SPS district average for Native Americans, and a host of college-bound seniors—not to mention sports and performing arts. Now, almost 40 years after the Native-focused program first opened its doors, Indian Heritage is closing. The decision caps several months of uncertainty. Community leaders have been embroiled in discussions with SPS officials over the fate of Indian Heritage, and over the soon-to-be demolished Wilson-Pacific Building, which served as the site of the school and bears cherished Native American murals. To many, the imminent closure of Indian Heritage is a heartbreaking loss they fought to prevent, and some hold SPS accountable for its demise. Real Change, 7-31-13.
Gateway Pacific coal terminal to get sweeping environmental review by Whatcom County and state; foes cheer decision
Whatcom County and its state and federal partners announced Wednesday that they will require a sweeping review of Gateway Pacific Terminal’s environmental impacts—a significant victory for the coal terminal’s opponents. Among the impacts that will require study are greenhouse gas emissions from coal burning, traffic impacts from coal trains, and human health impacts. Business and labor groups from around the state had joined SSA Marine in calling for an environmental impact statement that would be confined to direct effects of the terminal and rail operations in and around the SSA Marine property near Cherry Point, at the end of Gulf Road. But in a series of public meetings during fall 2012, environmental groups, Lummi Nation, and thousands of citizens urged the regulatory agencies to study the impacts to human health, global climate, and railroad crossing blockages that could result if the coal terminal is built. Bellingham Herald, 7-31-13.
Columbia Riverkeeper sues Corps over dams’ pollution
Columbia Riverkeeper Wednesday filed a set of lawsuits targeting the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for what it calls illegal discharges of oil and pollutants from eight dams on the Columbia and Snake rivers. In complaints filed in U.S. District Courts in Portland, Tacoma, and Eastern Washington, the Oregon-based advocacy group described a series of leaks and discharges it argues are in violation of the federal Clean Water Act. The facilities under scrutiny are Bonneville Dam, The Dalles Dam, John Day Dam, and McNary Dam on the Columbia, and Ice Harbor Dam, Lower Monumental Dam, Little Goose Dam, and Lower Granite Dam on the Snake. Each complaint focuses on different dams, depending on each court’s jurisdiction. The complaints list the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which operates the facilities, and Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick as defendants. Vancouver Columbian, 7-31-13.
Group files suit to stop Tacoma’s utility tax proposition
A group led by a lobbyist for the Simpson Tacoma Kraft pulp and paper mill is asking a judge to throw out a Tacoma ballot measure that would raise taxes on utility companies. The political committee, which calls itself Stop Higher Utility Taxes, filed a complaint Tuesday in Pierce County Superior Court requesting an injunction to stop Tacoma’s Proposition 1 from appearing on the Nov. 5 ballot. The complaint, which names the City of Tacoma and the Pierce County Auditor’s Office as defendants, says the language of Proposition 1 is “impermissibly confusing to voters” because it doesn’t state that the proposed tax could cause utility customers’ rates to go up. Proposition 1 would levy an additional 2 percent tax on the gross earnings of natural gas, electricity, and phone companies to fund Tacoma street repairs. Tacoma News Tribune, 7-31-13.
DINGALINGALING! Right-wing WA Rep. warns of nationwide economic collapse at conclave of survivalists
An Eastern Washington legislator, speaking at an Idaho “Self-Reliance Rally” of Tea Party activists and survivalists, predicted last weekend that the US economy will collapse, and told activists to stock up on ammo and stay in top physical condition for when that happens. “We need to prepare for the inevitable collapse that is going to happen: You know it’s going to happen. That’s right, I am a politician and I am standing up here and saying that,” said state Rep. Matt Shea (R-4). The lawmaker’s remarks were reported in the Coeur D’Alene Press. The “Self-Reliance Rally” was held at Farragut State Park on Lake Pend Oreille. Attended by about 500 people and sponsored by a group called Oath Keepers, it featured training sessions ranging from hand-to-hand combat to field midwife training. Seattle P-I, 7-30-13.
Libertarianism at the fore as Paul, Christie jockey for 2016
Libertarianism once again is a hot topic, particularly among the young. But its alliance with the Republican establishment is fraying, as demonstrated by the increasingly personal war of words between two leading potential 2016 presidential contenders. The sparring began last week, when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) posited: “As a former prosecutor who was appointed by President George W. Bush on Sept. 10, 2001, I just want us to be really cautious, because this strain of libertarianism that’s going through both parties right now and making big headlines, I think, is a very dangerous thought.” After Christie made it clear that he was referring to Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), the Senate’s leading critic of the NSA and its surveillance programs, Paul fired back on his Twitter account: “Christie worries about the dangers of freedom. I worry about the danger of losing that freedom. Spying without warrants is unconstitutional.” Their feud — which is being watched closely as a possible warmup round for 2016 — has continued, expanded, and spilled over into other issues. Washington Post, 7-31-13.
House approves compromise on student loan rates
The House passed a measure Wednesday that resolves a dispute over how to set student loan rates, sending it to President Obama, who has said he would sign the legislation “right away.” The compromise proposal, which passed 392-31, bases rates on the market and, at least temporarily, will allow some recipients of new federal student loans to pay lower rates than last year. As the economy improves, however, rates will increase. But the bill also caps the rates and allows borrowers to lock in interest rates over the life of the loan. Los Angeles Times, 7-31-13.
Liberal groups aim to put GOP on defense on Obamacare
Obamacare supporters are launching a new war room operation to stick up for the law, mobilizing liberal groups to talk up its benefits and pound Republicans for trying to cut off its funding. The new effort — to be headed by Americans United for Change, an all-purpose liberal advocacy group, and Protect Your Care, which focused on Obamacare — will include rapid-response messaging and town halls to try to change the conversation over the health care law, its organizers say. They’ll start next week, during the August recess, but they’re promising to stick around during the massive effort to sign people up for Obamacare this fall. Their goal: Get Democrats and liberals off of defense, and make the Republicans defend trying to take away benefits like health coverage for pre-existing conditions, which will become available to all Americans when the main parts of the law take effect next January. Politico, 7-31-13.
To Think About
Pressure-cooker kindergarten: Politicians, not educators, making it rough on 5-year-olds
Kindergarten is supposed to be the happy land of building blocks and singalongs. But increasingly in schools across Massachusetts and the United States, little children are being asked to perform academic tasks, including test taking, that early childhood researchers agree are developmentally inappropriate, even potentially damaging. If children don’t meet certain requirements, they are deemed “not proficient.” Frequently, children are screened for “kindergarten readiness” even before school begins, and some are labeled inadequate before they walk through the door. Boston Globe, 7-30-13.