Judge: SeaTac petition for $15/hour minimum wage invalid
The petition to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour in SeaTac was halted Monday when a King County Superior Court judge ruled that it did not have the adequate number of signatures to be on the general election ballot in November, according to a report in the SeaTac Blog. The petition had been signed more than once by 61 of its supporters, Judge Andrea Darvas said, and once the repeat names were stricken, the petition did not have enough signatures, according to the report. Darvas’ ruling on Monday reversed an earlier statement from the SeaTac city clerk that the petition was sufficient to put the minimum-wage measure before voters. Where the ordinance goes from here isn’t clear — nor is whether sponsors will be allowed to go back out to get more signatures, the blog report says. Seattle Times, 8-27-13. A more in-depth look at Washington State Wire.
Seattle teachers reject district’s contract offer
Seattle teachers, as expected, rejected the school district’s latest contract offer, b y an almost unanimous vote, at its meeting Monday evening, but the superintendent suggests the district is ready to deal on some key sticking points. The Seattle Education Association had recommended that its members reject the contract proposal, and it has a long list of reasons why: not enough money, too much emphasis on testing, and overworked counselors, psychologists, and school nurses, to name a few. And the union is especially irked about a proposal to extend the workday for elementary school teachers. This proposal was originally floated as a way to increase the time and quality of classroom instruction. Now the district is proposing to use it for teacher planning and collaboration, but not for extra classroom time for students. SEA President Jonathan Knapp says the plan would extract more work from teachers for less money. KPLU, 8-26-13.
SR-520 bridge project may sink into the red
Problems on the new 520 bridge not only could wipe out the state’s reserve fund for the project, but also send it into the red. New documents released Friday show that delays and the need to redesign pontoons could wipe out the final $100 million that’s left in the state’s $250 million reserve fund for the $4.18 billion project. Worse, it could cost another $128 million to fix the flaws. And, the the project is now estimated to be completed in April 2016, 490 days late from its original completion date of the end of 2014. The state also said it only has money to continue to work on the project through mid-2014. The bulk of the problem is due to design errors by the state Department of Transportation that results in cracks in pontoons and the need for costly fixes. Mercer Island Reporter, 8-26-13.
Bus drivers’ petition says job stress getting worse
The recent downtown shooting aboard a King County Metro Transit bus is just one symptom of a work environment that creates unacceptable stress, bus drivers said Monday. Driver Chuck Lare, several colleagues, and the new Seattle Transit Riders Union handed letters and 450 petition signatures to the King County Council. On the morning of Aug. 12, a mentally disturbed man shot a bus driver in the cheek and arm, then forced his way onto another bus where police fatally shot him. The wounded driver was treated at the hospital. Seattle Times, 8-26-13.
Connelly: Name violent storms for climate deniers
The proposal for climate advocates at “350 Action” can be summed up by altering a familiar slogan: Speak Truth to Powerful Storms. Instead of giving innocuous names to hurricanes, cyclones and typhoons, why not name them after prominent global warming deniers in American politics? Make up a list of those strumpets of Big Oil and Big Coal who are constantly trying to block efforts at curbing greenhouse gases going into the atmosphere. Joel Connelly, Seattle P-I, 8-26-13.
Why the market will be the death of coal ports
If you listen carefully, you might hear the sound of the “coal export bubble” popping. Coal prices are plummeting globally, and the bottom seems nowhere in sight. Early this month the price of benchmark Australian thermal coal fell below $77 per metric ton, down 46 percent from its 2011 peak. Unfortunately for the coal industry, its plans assumed that coal prices would keep rising as they had until 2011, that China would continue to need more coal for its power plants than it could produce itself, and that its demand for imports would keep prices high for years. But as we learned from the real-estate bubble of the past decade, which triggered the financial panic of 2008 and led to the Great Recession, smoothly rising economic projections can be awfully risky. Crosscut, 8-26-13.
Former Democratic legislator Jean Berkey dies at 74
Jean Berkey, a longtime Everett resident whose political activism began with work on the presidential campaign of Henry “Scoop” Jackson and included terms in the state House and Senate, has died. She was 74. She died Aug. 21 at her home on Fidalgo Island near Deception Pass after a brief illness. Berkey joined the Snohomish County Labor Council in the late 1960s as a delegate representing the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and served for 15 years, her husband, Donald Berkey, said. Jean Berkey served on the Everett Civil Service Commission, was a board member of United Way of Snohomish County in the late 1980s, served on the board of the Everett Medic One Foundation and was an Everett Community College trustee. Everett Herald, 8-27-13.
‘Nooksack 306’ fight to remain in tribe
From the time he was a young boy paddling a homemade raft in Puget Sound, Phillip Narte grew up believing he was a Nooksack Indian. “It was ingrained in us that we needed to be on the water, that we were Indian and water was in our blood,” said Narte, now 56. The Nooksack Tribal Council disagrees. Earlier this year, the council voted to disenroll 306 members because the council believes they don’t meet membership requirements. As a result, Narte and 305 others are no longer considered members of the tribe. The “Nooksack 306,” as they’ve become known, banded together to fight the largest tribal disenrollment in Washington history. The legal battle has been waged in tribal and federal courts, spilling over into questions about identity and the tribe’s future. Seattle Times, 3-26-13.
Megaloads hearing delayed, but no loads to travel before new hearing date
A federal court hearing originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon on Highway 12 megaloads has been postponed to Sept. 9, after a company that’s already sent one giant load over the route this summer agreed to hold off on any further shipments until at least Sept. 18. The U.S. Forest Service asked Omega Morgan, the shipping company, to hold off on that first load until it could develop review guidelines for such loads and consult with the Nez Perce Tribe, in accordance with a federal court ruling last winter that the Forest Service has jurisdiction over the loads. But the Idaho Transportation Department issued Omega Morgan a permit, noting that it still had to deal with the Forest Service; the company then shipped the load, which drew protesters along the route, saying it’d consult with the Forest Service after the shipment, and the Forest Service didn’t stop it. Spokesman-Review, 8-26-13.
Defending abortion limits can cost states millions
Passing a controversial bill is just the first step. Then come the legal costs. Just last week, Idaho was ordered to cover the $376,000 in legal fees a woman there spent on suing the state after she was charged for an illegal abortion, according to the Associated Press. Combined with its past defense of abortion limits, the state has shelled out more than $1 million since 2000. And it’s far from alone. South Dakota’s attorney general predicted in 2011 that a law passed that year would cost anywhere from $1.75 million to $4 million to defend. And last summer, the Sioux Falls Argus Leader reported that the state had, to that point, spent $378,000 in defense of a separate 2005 abortion law. Washington Post, 8-26-13.
Conservatives are finally admitting what voter suppression laws are all about
North Carolina’s new voter ID law is ostensibly designed to reduce voter fraud. That’s the official story, anyway. But if that’s the case, why did North Carolina also pass a whole bunch of other voting restrictions, including limits on early voting? Phyllis Schlafly, the doyen of right-wing crankery, explains that the reason was simple: “Early voting plays a major role in Obama’s ground game….[It] is an essential component of the Democrats’ get-out-the-vote campaign.” At this point, the jig is up. Everyone knows what these laws are about, and there’s hardly any use in pretending anymore. Kevin Drum, Mother Jones, 8-26-13.
To Think About
Impeaching Obama: A dream come true—for Democrats
Somehow it seems appropriate that a freshman Republican congressman who raises reindeer to pull Santa’s sleigh in holiday parades is suggesting that impeaching President Obama would be “a dream come true.” Yes, it would be the equivalent of a whole Santa’s sleigh full of toys—for Democrats. Conveniently forgetting that the healthcare law championed by the president was passed by Congress in 2010, that the president trounced his political rival, Mitt Romney, in 2012, and that the Supreme Court upheld the Affordable Care Act, angry conservatives believe that but for a bootlicking mainstream press, Obama would be on his way back to an early retirement in Chicago, if not to prison for the terrible “crimes” he has committed against the American people. Conservative politicians are walking a delicate line; telling their constituents what they want to hear while grasping how nutty they’d look if they actually pursued impeachment. Robin Abcarian, Los Angeles Times, 8-26-13.