Another Council endorsement for Murray: Godden jumps on the bandwagon
State Sen. Ed Murray got yet another endorsement for mayor of Seattle from a sitting member of the Seattle City Council. Jean Godden becomes the fifth member of the governing body to throw weight behind incumbent Mike McGinn’s challenger. Murray has previously been endorsed by City Council President Sally Clark, along with Council members Tim Burgess, Bruce Harrell, and Tom Rasmussen. Striking a familiar theme in this year’s mayoral race in questioning McGinn’s ability to collaborate, Godden said via her Twitter account: “Seattle deserves to have cooperation and collaboration back at City Hall.” With five of nine sitting members of the Council having now endorsed Murray, his campaign was quick to tout this “unprecedented” show of dissent against Seattle’s current mayor. Seattle Weekly, 9-18-13.
Is McGinn’s new spending to prevent domestic violence just window dressing?
Mayor Mike McGinn continues to spotlight potentially popular investments in his proposed 2014 budget, and Wednesday, he unveiled $438,000 in new spending on prevention of domestic violence and help or its victims. But a spokesman for state Sen. Ed Murray, the mayor’s challenger, argued that the announcement is window dressing on a less-than-stellar aspect of the McGinn record. “Mayor McGinn is holding yet another in his seemingly endless series of (supposedly official) feel-good, hide-the-real-record press conferences this morning, this one on the subject of domestic violence,” said Sandeep Kaushik of the Murray campaign. Kaushik claimed that domestic violence cases in the city had surged 60 percent as the mayor dismantled the city’s Office of Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Prevention– even deriding opponents of the move as “defenders of the status quo” — and also attempted to eliminate two of the seven victim advocate positions in the Seattle Police Department, though that proposed cut was rejected by the Council. Seattle P-I, 9-18-13.
Survey: SPD gets 60 percent approval rating, but blacks and Latinos differ
Sixty percent of Seattle residents approve of the job the Police Department is doing, while 34 percent think they are doing a poor job, according to key findings of a phone survey made public Wednesday. Moreover, 74 percent believe the police do a good job of keeping people safe, with 20 percent disagreeing, the survey found. But the numbers conceal sharply lower views among African-Americans and Latinos, according to the survey commissioned by the federal monitoring team overseeing court-ordered reforms to address excessive use of force by officers. Forty-nine percent of African-Americans approve of the overall job done by Seattle police, while 42 percent disapprove. For Latinos, it is 54 percent approve and 39 percent disapprove. Only 35 percent of all respondents agree that police treat all races equally, including minorities, the homeless and young people. Seattle Times, 9-18-13.
Strike, lockout are possibilities for Darigold workers
After talks between Teamsters Local 117 and Darigold broke down this week, there is the potential for a lockout or strike at the company’s production facilities in Issaquah and Seattle. The union said Darigold representatives walked out of federal mediation Monday night, but a Darigold spokesman said that was untrue, and that they had bargained for 13 hours that day. Bargaining between the Teamsters and the company began in April and continued throughout the summer, but talks broke down over increased health care costs for workers. Currently, workers pay 5 percent of their health care premiums. Darigold is asking they pay 10 percent, the same amount all the company’s nonunion employees pay. KIRO, 9-18-13.
With a unique financial stake in the game, Seattle hospitals rally for Obamacare success
Hospitals have a unique financial stake in the success of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and they’re investing time and resources to get the uninsured covered next year under the sweeping federal law. Each year, Washington hospitals lose hundreds of millions of dollars treating people who don’t have insurance. Now, Obamacare eliminates disproportionate share (DISH) payments to hospitals, which are to help offset the cost of those uninsured visits. The idea was that hospitals wouldn’t need DISH payments, now that so many more Americans will have insurance through the ACA. That’s the bet that the ACA made for hospitals. And whether or not the health systems supported the legislation in the first place, they are now focused on making the gamble pay off. Puget Sound Business Journal, 9-18-13.
People who feed the hungry decry proposed $40 billion in cuts
The Nutrition Reform and Work Opportunity Act Congress votes on this week would cut food aid by $40 billion over 10 years, affecting up to 6 million hungry families, say alarmed community advocates and people who depend on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. Wednesday morning, people with personal knowledge of what such a loss would mean to the people they serve, came together at the Auburn Food Bank to say no. And to urge Congress, particularly U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) to say no. Among those speaking out were Auburn Food Bank Director Debbie Christian, Kent City Councilwoman Elizabeth Albertson, members of the Washington Community Action Network, members of SNAP, and the Rev. Jimmie James, director of Holistic Opportunities for Personal Empowerment and head of the Kent Black Action Commission. Auburn Reporter, 9-18-13.
State’s revenue forecast packs $368 million of good news over the next two years
Washington’s top economic forecaster, Steve Lerch, says the recovering economy and tax changes approved by the Legislature are expected to generate $368 million more revenue for state operations through mid-2015 than was expected in June when lawmakers finished their two-year budget. That figure includes $123 million that is resulting from non-economic factors such as legislative action. It also includes $23 million more than expected through June this year. His quarterly forecast also predicts a brighter outlook than in June for the next biennium, showing $342 million more in new revenue. But again, $249 million of that is due to legislative and other non-economic impacts. Olympian, 9-18-13.
Longview coal supporter: Opportunity too good to pass up
For union business agent Jeff Washburn, the Millennium coal terminal debate is simple: It’s about jobs. “There are going to be a lot of good union jobs created,” he testified during the evening session of Tuesday’s hearing on the proposed coal terminal west of Longview. “It’s a real benefit to the local area.” Washburn, president of the Kelso Longview Building and Trades Council, said Millennium has been great to work with and supports the community. Longview is an industrial town and suffers from high unemployment, he noted, which makes the coal terminal a boon. “This is a good opportunity,” he testified during the first session of the hearing. As a local resident, Washburn said he wants the coal terminal developed correctly, adding that concerns about increased train traffic and pollution do need to be studied. But, he said, he trusts Millennium to follow the rules and do what’s needed to protect the environment. Longview Daily News, 9-18-13.
Longview coal opponent: Nothing good about it
St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church pastor Kathleen Patton said she’s never thought of herself an environmental activist. But there she stood Tuesday, speaking in front of hundreds of environmentalists at an anti-coal rally and, later that evening, in front of thousands of people during a public hearing about the coal terminal proposed for Longview. Patton said she simply couldn’t stomach Millennium Bulk Terminal’s plan to bring hundreds of train cars brimming with coal to Longview each day, then load the coal onto ships on the Columbia River and send it off to Asia. She cited the sheer scale of the project, the immensity of the environmental risks, the potential for damage to fish habitat, and health hazards from coal dust. And, even though the coal gets sent to the other side of the world, “it comes back to us through ocean acidification and … really dire impacts of global warming.” Longview Daily News, 9-18-13.
Op-ed: Time for patience with Spokane Police Guild has passed
If Steve Salvatori is tilting at windmills, the whole city should join him in the tilt. Salvatori has lost patience with the quicksand of the city’s contract negotiations with the Spokane Police Guild. The process is a black hole of information, even for members of the City Council such as Salvatori, and one that has become a direct obstacle to the will of the people of Spokane. And so Salvatori is proposing that the city simply stop waiting on the guild and start implementing the charter amendments that voters passed in February – back when 70 percent of us said we wanted the Office of the Police Ombudsman to conduct its own independent investigations into complaints about police and to name a citizens review panel to oversee it. If the guild members want to oppose it – again – let’s make them oppose it. Shawn Vestal, Spokesman-Review, 9-18-13.
Industry groups vow to ‘expose’ union-backed worker centers
Business and labor are going to war over the nonprofit worker centers that union officials increasingly see as the future of their movement. The organizing groups are thriving amid the decline in traditional unions, and campaigns, like Fast Food Forward, have made a splash by staging walkouts of fast-food workers who are demanding $15 per hour in wages and the right to unionize. Industry groups have closely tracked the centers and are ready to fight back against what they see as a deliberate effort to move union organizing outside the law. “They have morphed into groups that harass employers, shame companies and hurt business across the country,” said Ryan Williams, an adviser to Worker Center Watch. “They are essentially getting away with skirting labor laws.” Williams, a former spokesman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign and a consultant at FP1 Strategies, said Worker Center Watch is gearing up for a national campaign against the worker centers. It launched a website this week that will closely track the organizing activities. FP1 is also doing work for the Workforce Fairness Institute, which campaigns against unions. The Hill, 9-18-13.
Newark charter school contract with K12 Inc. shows influence of for-profit companies in public schools
Newark Prep Charter School opened last year with 150 students, a dozen teachers, and big ambitions to become among the first schools in the state to offer classes taught online. It hired K12 Inc., a for-profit online learning giant, to handle the startup and offer many of the services the high school would provide. A contract obtained by the Star-Ledger shows the publicly traded company — which operates charter schools for thousands of students in 27 states and made $30 million in the last school year — selected Newark Prep’s principal, drafted its budget, and leased it furniture and equipment. In return, Newark Prep paid the company nearly half a million dollars, or 17 percent of the $2.8 million it received last school year to educate students, according to financial data provided by the school’s board of trustees. This year, as the student body grows, the fees could take up to 40 percent of the school’s revenue, according to the contract. Newark Star-Ledger, 9-17-13.
Arizona extends driver’s license ban to all migrants granted deferred action
Arizona, one of only two states that deny driver’s licenses to young undocumented immigrants allowed to stay and work, is expanding the ban to include any immigrant granted deferred action from deportation. Most of those affected by the decision are people granted deferred action for humanitarian reasons, most commonly victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The state announced the policy change in pleadings filed in federal court Tuesday as part of a lawsuit accusing Gov. Jan Brewer of discriminating against young undocumented immigrants who receive federal work permits through President Barack Obama’s program of deferred action from deportation. Arizona Republic, 9-18-13.
Obama’s TVA plan makes strange bedfellows
When President Barack Obama floated the idea of selling the Tennessee Valley Authority to private hands as part of his budget proposal in April, the idea earned a swift rebuke from Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander. He called the proposal “one more bad idea in a budget full of bad ideas.” It was only days later a chorus of fellow Republicans joined Alexander in decrying the idea of taking the government-owned TVA into the private sector. Monday, he was joined by an organization which has rarely aligned itself with Alexander, the AFL-CIO Unions. “Privatization of TVA is a very bad idea,” said Engineering Association/IFTPE Local 1937 president Gay Henson in a news release. Henson also said Obama’s privatization plan would “diminish the critical role that TVA has played in the region, negatively impact the economy of many states, and bring a catastrophic blow to the more than 13,000 jobs – many union jobs – at TVA.” Memphis Business Journal, 9-17-13.
Court rules that Facebook ‘likes’ are free speech
A federal appeals court today issued an important decision that reaffirms everyone’s right to speak freely on the Internet. The three-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals found unanimously that, as the american Civil Liberties union argued in its friend-of-the-court-brief last year, “liking” something on Facebook is undoubtedly constitutionally protected speech. (Facebook also filed its own friend-of-the-court brief supporting that position.) As the ACLU’s Ben Wizner said:
This ruling rightly recognizes that the First Amendment protects free speech regardless of the venue, whether a sentiment is expressed in the physical world or online. The Constitution doesn’t distinguish between ‘liking’ a candidate on Facebook and supporting him in a town meeting or public rally.
In this case, employees of a Virginia sheriff who was running for reelection were fired for “liking” the sheriff’s opponent’s webpage on Facebook and taking other actions to indicate their support for the opponent. ACLU, 9-18-13.
To Think About
In New York, having a job, or two, doesn’t mean having a home
With New York City’s homeless population in shelters at a record high of 50,000, a growing number of New Yorkers punch out of work and then sign in to a shelter, city officials and advocates for the homeless say. More than one out of four families in shelters, 28 percent, include at least one employed adult, city figures show, and 16 percent of single adults in shelters hold jobs. Mostly female, they are engaged in a variety of low-wage jobs as security guards, bank tellers, sales clerks, computer instructors, home health aides, and office support staff members. At work they present an image of adult responsibility, while in the shelter they must obey curfews and show evidence that they are actively looking for housing and saving part of their paycheck. New York Times, 9-17-13.