Busted on video: FW Mayor Skip Priest under investigation for taking city-confiscated campaign signs
Federal Way Mayor Skip Priest is under investigation for possible criminal theft after he was caught removing city-confiscated campaign signs late at night. The incident occurred just before 10 p.m. Sept. 24. A Federal Way police officer had stopped by the auxiliary building on South 333rd Street, across from City Hall, when he observed Priest removing campaign signs from the so-called “sign jail” at the side of the building. The sign jail is where the city stores confiscated campaign signs that are illegally placed in the city. Sign owners must pay a fine to get the signs back. The officer advised his supervisor because it appeared the signs were being stolen. The officer was suspicious because the activity was taking place at night. “I paid for (the signs) before I took them,” Priest told The Mirror on Tuesday, and said that he even waved at a police officer while retrieving his signs. “I honestly have no understanding of what this is about.” Federal Way Mirror, 10-1-13.
Seattle City Council authorizes a Sodo improvement district and Pioneer Square restroom
The Sodo neighborhood will get a new business improvement association (BIA), Seattle businesses soon will have to recycle more materials, and Pioneer Square now stands a better chance of getting its public restroom. On Monday, the Seattle City Council approved the BIA, despite objections from the Port of Seattle and the Manufacturing Industrial Council. In the past, these groups expressed concerns that the BIA would be used to lobby for land-use changes that would further threaten the industrial character of Sodo, where many shipping and manufacturing businesses operate. Businesses already have to recycle paper and cardboard. Now they’ll have to recycle plastic, tin, aluminum, glass and paper and plastic cups. Puget Sound Business Journal, 10-1-13.
Seattle City Council to Inslee: Regulate medical pot properly
The Seattle City Council Monday sent a letter addressed to Gov. Jay Inslee, state Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles,and state Rep. Roger Goodman asking for “further action from the State to appropriately regulate medical cannabis.” The letter was signed by all nine members of the Council along with City Attorney Pete Holmes. According to the letter, the issue at hand is the “gray market” that medical marijuana continues to operate in even as the state prepares to implement the recreational pot market created under Initiative 502. City lawmakers worry that, “If relatively easy access to medical cannabis continues, the goals and potential of Initiative 502 will be undermined.” Seattle Weekly, 10-1-13.
Washington’s health exchange site crippled by early glitch, system back online at around 1:30 p.m.
The Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange was back up and running Tuesday afternoon. Spokesmen for the agency that runs the marketplace say it went back online at about 1:30 p.m. after modifications were made to the system. The Washington Health Benefit Exchange says some consumers may continue to experience “intermittent” problems while filling out forms online. It also warned Tuesday that at times the insurance exchange “may be temporarily unavailable as we conduct additional maintenance to improve the current experience. We expect to have more information to share tomorrow morning.” Despite the computer problems, the exchange call center’s toll free telephone number is working at 1-855-WAFINDER or 1-855-923-4633. Olympian, 10-1-13.
Carlyle asks Inslee to outline finances for $4.2 billion Yakima Valley water project
House Finance Committee Chairman Reuven Carlyle (D-36) is calling on the governor to spell out how the state will pay for a proposed $4.2 billion plan to bring more water to the Yakima River Valley. As explained in a Seattle Times story Sunday, the proposal would be the biggest thing to hit the region since the Grand Coulee Dam was completed in 1942. It was tentatively endorsed by the Legislature earlier this year. Among other things, the plan calls for fish passages on dams, new and bigger reservoirs, and a 5-mile-long tunnel to move water between lakes. “It is fiscally irresponsible to take another step until there is a financing plan,” Carlyle said Tuesday morning. He sent a letter to Gov. Jay Inslee Monday asking his office to develop one, pointing out that, although backers say farmers and other water users will pay for their share of the project, there’s nothing in writing that spells that out. Seattle Times, 10-1-13.
Grocery lobby puts $5 million against I-522
The Grocery Manufacturers Association has added $5 million to the campaign against Washington’s Initiative 522, bringing the agribusiness and food industry-financed warchest against the ballot initiative to a staggering $17.168 million. With a month to go until the election, the anti-522 campaign has now surpassed the $16.9 million spent by the American Beverage Association three years ago to roll back a small soda pop tax that had been voted by the Legislature. The tax was designed to stave off cuts to education, and the association didn’t want other states to get similar ideas. Initiative 522 would require that most raw agricultural commodities, processed foods plus seed and seed stocks produced using genetic engineering be labeled when offered for retail sale in Washington. The Grocery Manufacturers Association stands accused in a state court suit of laundering money for major food producers who do not want their names associated with the campaign.to defeat the labeling measure. Seattle P-I, 10-1-13.
Hanford cleanup continues, rec areas close
Hanford and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory workers, totaling more than 8,000 people, reported to work as usual Tuesday. The Department of Energy national laboratory in Richland will continue to operate using unspent money from previous years in the event of a federal shutdown, said PNNL spokesman Greg Koller. DOE will continue to operate for a short time during the shutdown and a lapse in congressional appropriations, DOE said in a prepared statement. The amount of time will vary by program. Contractor and DOE workers at the Hanford nuclear reservation have been told to report to work as usual, but little information was released Monday about Hanford plans. At the Mid-Columbia River National Wildlife Refuge Complex, most of the staff is expected to be furloughed, or told to stay home. Employees who provide law enforcement on the refuges will continue to work, however. Tri-City Herald, 10-1-13.
Christian group told to stop feeding homeless in Olympia city lot
Crazy Faith Ministries, a nondenominational Christian group that feeds street people twice a week in a city parking lot in downtown Olympia, is in a bind. After complaints from nearby businesses, the city informed the group last week that it can no longer feed hundreds of people on Thursdays and Saturdays out of a city parking lot southeast of the intersection of State Avenue and Washington Street. Now the group, which has provided free food for about two years, is trying to find a suitable location. Olympian, 10-1-13.
Government shutdown: Capital prepares for long siege
Washington began bracing for a prolonged government shutdown Tuesday, with House Republicans continuing to demand that the nation’s new health-care law be delayed or repealed and President Obama and the Democrats refusing to give in. There were signs on Capitol Hill that Republicans — knowing that blame almost certainly will fall most heavily on them — are beginning to look for ways to lift some of the pressure. House GOP leaders pushed a new approach to end the impasse, offering to fund some parts of the government — including national parks, veterans benefits, and the D.C. government. The goal was to put Democrats on the spot by trying to make them vote against programs that are popular among their constituents. Senate Democratic leaders and the White House quickly rejected the piecemeal strategy. And in a series of evening votes, Democrats helped defeat the measures on the House floor. Meanwhile, Obama made his second appearance in as many days to call on Republicans to fund the government. Washington Post, 10-1-13.
Government shutdown: Now on to the debt ceiling
The U.S. markets had been closed for several hours when Congress, at midnight, let the government shut down, but, even so, they already reflected how things were going in Washington. Stocks were down, continuing a slow-motion slide that’s seen the S. & P. 500 drop on eight of the past nine days. It’s hardly been a momentous decline so far—the S. & P. has fallen about two and a half per cent from its all-time high, and is still up for the month—but it seems clear that markets are getting a little queasy about the shutdown. Even if the shutdown is resolved, though, investors have a bigger concern on their minds: namely, the possibility that Republicans might actually refuse to raise the nation’s debt ceiling in a couple of weeks. The ceiling is the legal limit on the amount of money that the government is allowed to borrow, and raising it is necessary not just to keep the government running in the future but to allow it to pay for obligations it’s already incurred. James Surowiecki, New Yorker, 10-1-13.
Op-ed: John Boehner’s shutdown
At any point, Boehner could have stopped this. Had he put on the floor a simple temporary spending resolution to keep the government open, without the outrageous demands to delay or defund the health reform law, it could easily have passed the House with a strong majority — including with sizable support from Republican members, many of whom are aware of how badly this collapse will damage their party. But Boehner refused. He stood in the well of the House and repeated the tired falsehood that the Affordable Care Act was killing jobs. As the public’s anger grows over this entirely unnecessary crisis, it should be aimed at a party and a speaker that are incapable of governing. New York Times, 10-1-13.
To Think About
Even Friedman gets it: Our democracy is at stake
This time is different. At stake in this government shutdown forced by a radical Tea Party minority is nothing less than the principle upon which our democracy is based: majority rule. President Obama must not give in to this hostage taking — not just because Obamacare is at stake, but because the future of how we govern ourselves is at stake. We’re seeing how three structural changes that have been building in American politics have now, together, reached a tipping point — creating a world in which a small minority in Congress can not only hold up their own party, but the whole government. And this is the really scary part: The lawmakers doing this can do so with high confidence that they personally will not be politically punished, and may, in fact, be rewarded. When extremists feel that insulated from playing by the traditional rules of our system, if we do not defend those rules — namely majority rule and the fact that if you don’t like a policy passed by Congress, signed by the president and affirmed by the Supreme Court then you have to go out and win an election to overturn it; you can’t just put a fiscal gun to the country’s head — then our democracy is imperiled. Thomas Friedman, New York Times, 10-1-13.