Seattle nightlife leaders endorse Ed Murray for mayor
Leaders of Seattle’s nightlife industry, many of whom backed Mike McGinn in his successful bid for mayor in 2009, today threw their support to his challenger, Sen. Ed Murray, saying Murray would be a more effective mayor. About 10 nightclub and restaurant owners joined Murray at an afternoon press conference at the Crocodile in Belltown Wednesday to recount Murray’s efforts to support restaurants and clubs in his Capitol Hill district over the past 18 years and the successful repeal of a dance tax last session that threatened to saddle many clubs and dance venues with high bills for unpaid back taxes. McGinn pushed a well-publicized Nightlife Initiative that allowed bar patrons to pay for overnight on-street parking and to catch cabs at dedicated taxi stands, both to support late-night venues and reduce drunken driving. But McGinn was unsuccessful in his most ambitious effort on behalf of the nightlife industry: a 2012 effort to convince the state Liquor Control Board to extend liquor service hours in the city. Seattle Times, 10-2-13.
Kent City Council candidate Bailey Stober responds to allegations by opponent’s wife
The Kent City Council race between Bailey Stober and Ken Sharp continues to heat up. Stober responded Wednesday by email to the Kent Reporter in response to comments posted by Sara Sharp, wife of his opponent Ken Sharp, on the Kent Reporter website and Facebook page, including “When it comes to handling money, Mr. Stober is on the record for misappropriations of money and donations (Kiwanis and Halo Network Foundation).” Stober denied the allegations, saying: “While I appreciate and respect the public vetting process a candidate goes through, making knowingly defamatory statements is illegal. I have stayed out of the mudslinging throughout this campaign and only felt it necessary to defend myself when accused of criminal and deplorable activity.” (Stober has been scrupulous not to bring up Sharp’s legal issues. Sharp faces first-degree theft charges filed by King County prosecutors against him for allegedly stealing money from his 93-year-old mother’s bank account.) Kent Reporter, 10-2-13.
Government shutdown could jeopardize medical research at UW, throughout state
The shutdown of the federal government could harm medical research in this region, forcing some research teams to delay their work, even discontinuing treatment for patients in ongoing medical trials. Without Republican cooperation, the government doesn’t have the money to keep operating. As a result, researchers such as Dr. Nora Disis, a principal investigator into two cancer trials at the University of Washington, have been receiving letters from the National Institutes of Health notifying them that funding could dry up before the government resumes business. “Everyone who is doing research that is funded by the NIH, the money that they have right now is all the money they have for funding their research,” Disis said. “You may be out of money in a couple of weeks or in a couple of months.” That means the longer the shutdown drags on, the more likely it is that researchers will start to feel these effects. For researcher physicians like Disis, that can mean being out of work; her job is 100 percent funded by NIH money. Her team of 40 researchers would be in the same situation. Puget Sound Business Journal, 10-2-13.
Port of Vancouver sued over oil lease discussions
Three environmental groups Wednesday filed a lawsuit against the Port of Vancouver, alleging that the port violated Washington state’s Open Public Meetings Act when it approved a lease agreement with two companies that want to build a controversial oil-by-rail operation. In the lawsuit filed in Clark County Superior Court, Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center allege that the port broke state law by considering the lease with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies in secret, and by using an executive session for improper purposes. Port officials, including elected commissioners, said Tuesday they hadn’t yet reviewed the lawsuit and were unable to comment on it at this time. Brett VandenHeuvel, executive director of Columbia Riverkeeper, said the “oil lease the port signed is unprecedented in the massive volume of oil and the threat that it brings to our region.” He added: “Important decisions should be made in front of the public, and secret meetings are inappropriate, especially when the decision is controversial.” Vancouver Columbian, 10-2-13.
Is coal port money fueling Whatcom Republicans’ campaigns?
Promoters of a giant coal export terminal, proposed for north of Bellingham, have given $40,000 to the Washington Republican Party, bucks that a Western Washington University professor suspects are being funneled into campaigns of sympathetic but officially “non-partisan” Whatcom County Council candidates. “It appears that Pacific International Terminals and the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad have earmarked campaign funds given to the state Republican Party such that these funds exclusively benefit candidates in Whatcom County,” Todd Donovan, a WWU political scientist and elections expert, said in a filing with the state Public Disclosure Commission. No way, responded state Republican Party spokesman Keith Schipper: “The state party does not accept earmarked funds. Period.” Seattle P-I, 10-2-13.
State, unions reach health care deal that includes wellness
Negotiators for more than two dozen public-sector labor unions and Gov. Jay Inslee struck an agreement late Tuesday that largely maintains current benefits and worker share of health care costs. Both parties say details remain to be worked out on a wellness plan that would steer workers toward more healthful activities and lower costs. “Essentially we kept the status quo,” said Greg Devereux, executive director for the Washington Federation of State Employees, which served as the lead union in the talks that began about two weeks ago. At issue are workers’ health benefits for the second year of a two-year labor agreement covering 2013-15. Olympian, 10-2-13. Potentially higher out of pocket costs for prescription drugs is one piece not mentioned in the earlier report. Olympian, 10-2-13.
Labor unrest continues in Sakuma berry fields
An hour north of Seattle, along Washington State Route 11, the land is flat but colorful. Bountiful acres of farmland stretch in every direction. Lush fields of raspberries, strawberries, and blackberries begin just yards from the edge of the road. They belong to Sakuma Brothers Farms, a regional grower that sells the berries by the millions of dollars to grocery stores nationwide, and to Häagen-Dazs for its ice cream. Tucked at the bottom of the hill across from ripening blackberries, there’s a labor camp in a dirt clearing—a grouping of wooden sheds with tin roofs, some larger cabin-size models. The mattresses inside the sheds look ratty and old, and the workers complain that rain leaks through the roofs. It resembles refugee settlements in Haiti. Now the workers are trying to build on the momentum of an earlier court victory with intensified calls on the public to boycott Sakuma Brothers Farms berries. The boycott is a tried-and-true tactic—the same tactic that Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers used in the 1965 Delano grape strike. That effort took years of boycott marches and pickets, including a pilgrimage from Delano to Sacramento, before the growers finally caved and let the farmworkers sign a contract and unionize. The Stranger, 10-2-13.
Government shutdown shutters 270-acre wildlife refuge, leaves Dungeness Spit an ‘island’
Two U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees have been left to manage the 270 acres of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge northwest of Sequim after Tuesday’s federal government shutdown closed it and refuges like it across the U.S. The Dungeness Spit is closed to the public, but the New Dungeness Lighthouse at the tip of the Spit will remain open. It is owned by the Coast Guard and managed by the nonprofit New Dungeness Light Station Association. Jennifer Brown-Scott, manager of the Washington Maritime National Wildlife Refuge Complex, and federal wildlife officer David Falzetti will be the only two of six Dungeness refuge staff who will continue to work through the government shutdown, working without pay to tell visitors the area is closed and ensure the safety of the land and property within the refuge. Peninsula Daily News, 10-1-13.
Baying at the moon
The Cathy McMorris Rodgers 2014 reelection campaign is underway — more than a year before the election. Most recently, she held a fundraiser where, if you paid enough, you could actually shake hands with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor. While on “recess,” she did manage to wedge in a quickie town meeting — providing all of 48 hours notice to the public. But why does our congresswoman even think she needs all this campaign loot? Much of it comes from the much more affluent west side of the state — places like Mercer Island and Sammamish. Through four reelection campaigns, she has never seriously been challenged. The 2000 redistricting helped her out in the Fifth District, and her party has further benefited from the growing suburbs in the Spokane Valley. But still, does it follow that Democrats can’t even confront Rodgers on her record? After all, she serves in the leadership of the consensus worst Congress in American history, now staring at an 87 percent disapproval rating. You would think that this news alone would provoke a good debate. Robert Herold, Pacific Northwest Inlander, 10-1-13.
Cathy says: Obamacare ‘making life harder’ in E. Washington
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers says, in a USA Today guest column defending the House Republicans, that she hears lots of angst about Obamacare in Eastern Washington. “No matter where I go when I’m home in Eastern Washington—the grocery store, the local coffee shop, the county fair—the concern is the same: Obamacare is making life harder for everyday Americans. At the doctor’s office, the dinner table and in the job market, ” she wrote in a counterpoint to the newspaper, which criticized House Republicans. A skeptic might say that McMorris Rodgers’ most recent visit to the home district was pretty much designed so she would mostly hear criticisms of the new law. Jim Camden, Spokesman-Review, 10-2-13.
Government shutdown: GOP puts new price on debt hike
Rank-and-file members want Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to return to the so-called “Boehner Rule,” which they say means any debt limit hike must be matched by an equal amount of spending cuts. An earlier GOP measure to raise the debt ceiling included a host of GOP priorities, including defunding ObamaCare and constructing the Keystone XL pipeline, but not dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. Now, as it looks increasingly like the government shutdown fight will be paired with raising the debt ceiling, Republicans are pushing hard for a strong opening bid and are adamant that changes to “entitlement programs” be included in any final deal. The Hill, 10-03-13.
Government shutdown: Cruz blasted by angry GOP colleagues
Ted Cruz faced a barrage of hostile questions Wednesday from angry GOP senators, who lashed the Texas tea party freshman for helping prompt a government shutdown crisis without a strategy to end it. At a closed-door lunch meeting in the Senate’s Mansfield Room, Republican after Republican pressed Cruz (R-TX) to explain how he would propose to end the bitter budget impasse with Democrats, according to senators who attended the meeting. A defensive Cruz had no clear plan to force an end to the shutdown — or explain how he would defund Obamacare, as he has demanded all along, sources said. Things got particularly heated when Cruz was asked point-blank if he would renounce attacks waged on GOP senators by the Senate Conservatives Fund, an outside group that has aligned itself closely with the Texas senator. Cruz’s response: “I will not,” according to an attendee. Politico, 10-2-13.
Government shutdown: Tea party lawmakers see the culmination of years of effort
The federal shutdown represents the culmination of a sustained attack by a group of conservative Republicans on the size and scope of government that has been years in the making. A core group of House Republicans elected in the tea party wave of 2010 has largely succeeded in scaling back federal spending, despite fervent opposition from President Obama and the Democratic controlled Senate. Even before the shutdown that began at midnight Monday, the tea party efforts greatly reduced the pace of federal spending. To the dismay of many Democrats and supporters of a robust federal government, the consequences of tea party efforts are likely to remain even when the shutdown ends. Washington Post, 10-2-13.
Brown signs California ban on indefinite detentions
Gov. Jerry Brown (D) signed a statewide ban on indefinite detentions into law Tuesday, prohibiting compliance with provisions of federal law. With overwhelming bipartisan support in the State Assembly, Brown approved AB 351, in effect banning any state assistance with federal enforcement of “indefinite detention” of vaguely defined “enemy combatants,” including American citizens, without due process, as outlined in the the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. Among other points of legal controversy, President Obama’s signing of the NDAA has sparked particular legal backlash over its provisions on indefinite detention in section 1021. AB 351 now prohibits any future “local entities from knowingly using state funds … to engage in any activity that aids an agency of the Armed Forces of the United States in the detention of any person within California for purposes of implementing Sections 1021.” Several states have raised legal challenges against the NDAA, claiming that aspects of the law violate First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights. Huffington Post, 10-2-13.
Racial-profiling lawsuit ruling: Federal judge in Arizona imposes conditions on Arpaio, sheriff’s office
Four months ago, U.S. District Court Judge Murray Snow ruled that Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s immigration-enforcement efforts had violated the constitutional rights of thousands of Latinos. Wednesday, Snow issued a followup ruling that maps out the future for day-to-day operations of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office. That future includes cameras in every deputy’s car, increased data collection and reporting, a community-advisory board, and a court-appointed monitor to ensure the agency is taking steps to prevent discrimination now and in the future. The Sheriff’s Office will appeal the ruling but try to comply with the court order while the appeal is pending, according to Arpaio’s attorney. If an appeal fails, the agency will have to demonstrate complete compliance with the ruling — which will likely take at least a year to achieve. The office then would have to maintain complete compliance for three consecutive years before the court-ordered oversight is lifted. Arizona Republic, 10-2-13.
To Think About
New California law aims to cultivate urban agriculture
A new law promoting community gardens and small farms lets municipalities lower property taxes on plots of 3 acres or less if owners dedicate them to growing food for at least 5 years. The legislation authored by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) arose from this city’s rich blend of urban ag interests: community gardens with long waiting lists, nonprofits that offer hands-on nutritional education, and small enterprises that took root when officials there changed zoning laws. The program is voluntary: Interested cities can now move forward to create “urban agriculture incentive zones.” County supervisors must then sign off. (Counties can also directly create their own zones.) It passed the Senate unanimously and garnered just six no votes in the Assembly. Los Angeles Times, 10-2-13.