(Daily Clips is taking Labor Day weekend off and will publish again the morning of Wednesday, September 4. Take some time off to celebrate the labor movement, which brought you the weekend.)
Darvas feels the heat: Judge to reconsider decision on SeaTac minimum pay initiative
A King County Superior Court judge has agreed to consider a motion by the “Yes! For SeaTac” group that the 248 additional signatures should be checked for accuracy so that the proposition to increase the minimum wage for selected transportation and restaurant workers can be reinstated on the November general election ballot. Judge Andrea Darvas earlier this week ordered the city to remove the issue because she found that initiative “is not supported by the required number of valid signatures of registered voters.” But the “Yes! For SeaTac” group’s lawyers are now adding another point to their argument. They claim the city’s Review Board was not legally qualified to remove signature that were accepted by the King County auditor. SeaTac Blog, 8-29-13.
Seattle City Council members endorse Murray
Seattle City Council members Sally Clark and Tom Rasmussen became the latest high-profile local politicians to endorse state Sen. Ed Murray for mayor, and deliver understated but undercutting criticism of incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn. “If I can collaborate with a somewhat dysfunctional body in Olympia, I can collaborate with nine Democratic Seattle City Council members,” Murray said, joking about his 17 years as a state legislator. The endorsements came as Murray hit on turmoil at the top of Seattle’s Department of Human Services, which has experienced four different department directors — one formally appointed, the other three interim — during the past four years. “Human Services is rudderless and losing ground,” Murray said. Seattle P-I, 8-30-13.
Seattle-area fast-food workers walk out of jobs to join ‘Strike Poverty’ movement
Low-wage workers hit the streets Thursday as part of a “Strike Poverty” rally, the first ever coordinated nationwide protest of low-wage workers, demanding a $15/hour pay and the right to organize without retaliation. Washington state’s minimum wage is currently $9.19/hour, the highest in the nation. The protesters, many taking the day off, picked up a couple of on-the-clock workers along the way, who walked out when the protest showed up at the their door. The protest—think of it as Occupy meets organized labor—is part of a national movement that started in New York last November and has since found support in Seattle (last May) and more than 50 other cities. Some of the other cities that participated Thursday are New York, Detroit, St. Louis, and Los Angeles. Publicola, 8-29-13.
Group Health won’t cover abortions, but won’t charge for them, either, state insurance commissioner says
Seattle’s nonprofit health care system, Group Health, has said they won’t be offering abortion coverage in the new health care exchange. But they also said women will be able to get an abortion without paying more. Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler said that it’s likely Group Health will discreetly keep women from having to pay extra for abortion services. “What they would wind up doing is that when somebody has submitted a bill, a wink and say – you really don’t need to pay this. The net effect is that very few people accessing abortion services will be charged for those services. They can’t say that because then would run afoul of insurance commissioner’s office for offering a service and then not accounting for it.,” Kreidler said. KUOW, 8-29-13.
Vashon school bus drivers claim wage inequities, Teamsters file complaint with NLRB against First Student
A dispute over wages for Vashon’s school bus drivers could lead to a strike if the group is unable come to an agreement with First Student, the company that provides Vashon’s bus service. In a disagreement that has delayed union negotiations for months, the drivers, part of the Teamsters Local Union No. 763, say their wages are not equal to those of First Student drivers in other parts of the state. They also claim there are wage inequities among the Vashon drivers themselves, and that First Student has stalled negotiations and withheld public information concerning wages in other areas. The union filed formal charges against First Student with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last week, said Jason Powell, the Teamsters’ business agent. Bus drivers have said they plan to show for work when school starts next Tuesday, though Powell said it’s possible they could vote to strike after that. A strike would require a vote of more than 50 percent of the group. “The drivers are committed to staying on the job unless they’re left no other options,” Powell said. Vashon Beachcomber, 8-27-13.
Holden: Obama’s pot rules are a bigger deal than you think
President Obama and US Attorney General Eric Holder blew up the internet Thursday when they said the federal government will allow Colorado and Washington to enact voter-approved laws that regulate growing and selling marijuana. That was stunning news on its own. Starting next year, it’s now official: Adults will be walking into stores and buying bags of marijuana unmolested. But this is about more than Washington and Colorado: The White House is formally deferring to the states on drug policy, much like the Feds now recognize marriage equality. In doing so, Obama is acknowledging that the US drug war is not mandatory, while he also sets a bold precedent of standing back when states present superior alternatives, such as more states legalizing pot, states decriminalizing hard drugs, cities opening safe-injection sites, and other countries breaking away from the formerly Drug Free America. Dominic Holden, The Stranger, 8-29-13.
IRS ruling could mean upswing in same-sex marriages in WA
County officials who issue marriage licenses in Washington state are gearing up for a possible influx of new applicants following the Internal Revenue Service’s ruling that states’ gay marriages will be recognized across state lines for federal tax purposes. Thursday’s ruling means that for the first time, there will be a financial incentive for same-sex couples in Oregon or Idaho to cross over into Washington to get married. Their marriage will be recognized by the IRS when it comes time to fill out their tax form. Washington doesn’t require people getting married to be residents of the state. KPLU, 8-29-13.
Republicans’ Hutchison: Washington is ‘one-party state’ (better ours than yours sis)
Washington has become a “one-party state” in which a “Democratic machine” has out-hustled and succeeded in demonizing its opposition, newly elected Republican State Chairman Susan Hutchison said Thursday, just five days into a difficult job. “What we have now is a one-party system: We don’t get pushback,” said Hutchison, a former KIRO-TV news anchor who stressed her nonpartisan credentials in 2009 running for King County Executive. Hutchison experienced the “Democratic machine” — she makes liberal use of the term — in her 2009 race against Dow Constantine for King County’s top job. She was ahead or even in opinion polls, until Democrats and their penumbra of allied groups took up the warning cry: Hutchison is a Republican. “I ran a nonpartisan race for a non-partisan office with the support of many good Democrats,” she said. “My opponent ran a partisan race that was a distortion on my person and my record.” (What distortion is she talking about? We said she was a Republican.) Seattle P-I, 8-29-13.
State Supreme Court rules in favor of wind farm
The Washington State Supreme Court has upheld the approval of a controversial wind farm in Skamania County, turning back a legal challenge from two advocacy groups that aimed to block it. The court’s unanimous ruling, released Thursday, allows the Whistling Ridge Energy Project to move forward. The proposed wind farm was given a green light — in a scaled-back form — by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council in 2011, then approved by then-Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2012. But even with its latest affirmation, the wind farm likely isn’t going to begin construction right away, according to its developer. the Supreme Court ruled that many of the petitioners’ arguments held the Whistling Ridge project and its application to an unreasonably high standard that goes beyond legal requirements — which were met. Vancouver Columbian, 8-29-13.
The elephant in the room on the Longview coal port
The magic number for Millennium, the giant coal terminal proposed at Longview on the Columbia River, is not 44 million — that’s how many tons of coal would be shipped annually. It’s 432. As in State Route 432, or at least the stretch of highway where traffic crossing the Lewis & Clark Bridge merges with the railroad tracks and streets that serve the busy Port of Longview and assorted major industries. Mention SR 432, otherwise known as the “432 Mess”, to anyone in town and eyes roll and heads shake. The fix — new bridge ramps that overpass a relocated rail line, renovated surface streets and a new railroad bridge — will cost anywhere from $150-$200 million, depending on who’s doing the estimating. And that doesn’t account for the prospect of 16 new coal trains a day. Crosscut, 8-30-13.
Everett Head Start program a victim of budget cuts
A Head Start preschool program that has served kids in north Everett since the early 1970s shut down this week, a victim of the federal budget sequestration and its resulting funding cuts. The closure leaves nearly 40 children from low-income families without the program, which aims to ease their way into elementary school. Four full- and three part-time Head Start employees lost their jobs. Dana Connolly, executive director of Head Start in Snohomish County, was informed March 1, after Congress failed to pass a budget, that she would have to eliminate about 5 percent or more than $300,000 from her annual expenses. The amount was equal to the cost of running the Head Start program in north Everett, Connolly said. On Monday, the North County Head Start in Everett was closed and the school signs removed from the building leased by the program. Everett Herald, 8-29-13.
Tiny North Dakota town finds its new resident is planning to take it over—for white supremacists
The bearded man with thinning, gray-and-bleach-blond hair flapping down his neck first appeared in the tiny agricultural town of Leith ND (population 24) last year, quietly and inconspicuously roaming the crackly dirt roads. Their new neighbor, people thought, was just another person looking to get closer to the lucrative oil fields in western North Dakota known as the Bakken. But all that changed last week. The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Bismarck Tribune revealed that the man, Paul Craig Cobb, 61, has been buying up property in this town of 24 people in an effort to transform it into a colony for white supremacists. New York Times, 8-29-13.
Federal appeals court upholds CA ban on ‘gay conversion therapy’
California’s unprecedented ban on gay conversion therapy for minors is back on the books. In a decision that could spark a U.S. Supreme Court review, a federal appeals court on Thursday upheld the state’s new law barring the practice of counseling minors to convert from homosexuality, rejecting the free speech and religious rights arguments of therapists and families who support the practice. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals unanimously concluded that the ban, the first of its kind in the nation, did not violate the free speech rights of therapists and was within the state’s authority to outlaw medical or mental health practices it considers harmful to minors. The court also rejected the argument that the law interferes with parents’ rights to seek such counseling for their children. San Jose Mercury News, 8-29-13.
Unions call for boycott of Yuengling beer after owner’s support of right-to-work law
In response to a statement made Monday by the head of D.G. Yuengling and Son Inc. calling for a “right-to-work” law, a local labor union leader is calling for a Yuengling boycott. “We’re against anyone who’s for a right-to-work law in this state,” Gary Martin, Pottsville, vice president of Pennsylvania State Building and Construction Trades Council, said Thursday. Richard L. “Dick” Yuengling, president and owner of the Pottsville-based brewery, made the statement Monday at a Pennsylvania Press Club luncheon at the Harrisburg Hilton, according to Associated Press. Yuengling said Monday the state would attract more business if it adopted a right-to-work policy that would make it more difficult for unions to organize, according to the AP. Pottsville Republican-Herald, 8-29-13.
To Think About
Op-ed: The NSA unravels a civil rights-era win
Following the revelations about the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ communications, many have invoked citizens’ rights to speech and privacy. Tightly linked, also fundamental, and equally under assault is the right of association. Rigorous protection of this right is a key legacy of the civil rights movement. The First Amendment protects “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances,” but this was not initially interpreted by the courts as a general right of association. Instead, it was construed to indicate protection of specific efforts of people to assemble to appeal to the government for the correction of grievances. Only through the civil rights movement was the Constitution’s protection of assembly clearly defined by courts as “the right to associate,” regardless of “whether the beliefs sought to be advanced by association pertain to political, economic, religious, or cultural matters.” The men and women who marched in Washington in 1963 had formed extensive social networks in the preceding years, in part because they were protected by the court’s new articulation of a “right to associate.” It is this right, above all, that has been undone by the National Security Agency’s surveillance program. Danielle Allen, Washington Post, 8-29-13.