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Issue #139

King County

Ed Murray’s vision: Meat and potatoes, no greens

Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), center, his husband Michael Shiosaki, left, and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43), right.
Sen. Ed Murray (D-43), center, his husband Michael Shiosaki, left, and Rep. Jamie Pedersen (D-43), right.

State Sen. Ed Murray has, for months, campaigned for mayor of Seattle with a promise of “building togetherness” and “my way of governing — coalition building,” but has said very little about what, specifically, he would do once he is elected and brings everybody into the room. Murray sought to fill the gap Thursday in Columbia City with a “vision of Seattle” speech. It turned into another paean to togetherness, with the message that incumbent Mayor Mike McGinn is a divider. The speech dwelt very much on consultant-vetted, meat-and-potatoes themes –  improved public safety, “a new Chief of Police that has an unwavering commit to reform,” and a “Move Seattle” transportation strategy that integrates bike, pedestrian, transit and freight plans. In one of America’s “greenest” cities, however, Murray served up no greens. Seattle P-I, 10-3-13.

Satterberg kicks off 2014 campaign; could face challenge from a former employee

King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg

With more than a year to go until the election, Republican King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg celebrated his campaign kickoff  in a packed ballroom at the Sheraton Seattle. King County Executive Dow Constantine, Sheriff John Urquhart, former King County Executive Ron Sims, retired municipal court Judge Anne Levinson, Pastor Doug Wheeler, Metropolitan King County Council members, and Seattle Police Chief Jim Pugel were there. Satterberg, a Republican, spoke about getting tough on crimes against the elderly and harsh punishment for sex offenders. Levinson, Wheeler, and even a former three-strike felon spoke on his behalf. There have long been rumblings about Craig Sims, chief of the criminal division at the Seattle City Attorney’s Office and a former senior deputy King County Prosecutor, running. Wednesday, Sims posted a video on YouTube talking about concerns about how the office is being run. Sims never said he is running against Satterberg, but asked for people to contact him via email, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn “regarding new leadership and a fresh new vision at the King County Prosecutor’s Office.” Seattle Times, 10-3-13.

Belshaw workers ratify deal, end long strike

IAM Local 79 members at Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group in Auburn overwhelmingly approved the company's last offer Wednesday night.
IAM Local 79 members at Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group in Auburn overwhelmingly approved the company’s last offer Wednesday night.

Closing the books on a 196-day strike, International Association of Machinists District 160 announced Wednesday night that IAM Local 79 members at Belshaw Adamatic Bakery Group had overwhelmingly approved the company’s last offer, which included the last key provision the union had sought: All of the union members would go back to work and the “permanent” replacement workers scabs would be dismissed, as well as safeguards on temporary employees and outsourcing. Since March 24, IAM members have been out on strike at Belshaw on issues that initially revolved around wages, health and welfare, and pension. The Belshaw workers, who produce high-quality bakery equipment sold around the world, went on strike March 24 after they made concessions that would save the company $20,000 per month and the company refused to share a portion of the savings with workers through increased salaries. The Stand, 10-4-13.

Teamsters will honor strike if grocery workers walk out

Teamsters Joint Council 28 president Rick Hicks

Joint Council of Teamsters No. 28, which represents more than 50,000 members across Washington, Alaska, and Northern Idaho, says it will honor a grocery worker strike if one occurs. Joint Council 28 stands with the 2,600 members of Teamsters Local 38 in Everett along with the nearly 27,000 members of UFCW 21 and 367 who, on a daily basis, keep the grocery stores in the Puget Sound area running, according to an Oct. 3 Joint Council 28 press release. Rick Hicks, President of Joint Council Teamsters 28, said “The Teamsters will always stand up for working people, and the fact that these four grocery chains with a combined revenue that is in the tens of billions of dollars annually want to force their employees onto taxpayer subsidized healthcare is absurd and will not be tolerated.” The current negotiations between the Teamsters Local 38, UFCW and the four major Grocery Chains (Safeway, QFC, Fred Meyer and Albertsons) have been going on for more than six months. Talks are scheduled to resume Oct. 10-11. Auburn Reporter, 10-3-13.

Kent City Council candidate Ken Sharp due back in court Nov. 20

Kent City Council candidate Ken Sharp

Kent City Council candidate Ken Sharp is scheduled to return to court Nov. 20 as he faces seven counts of first-degree theft for reportedly stealing $297,500 from his 93-year-old mother’s bank account and putting the money into his account. Sharp, who pleaded not guilty to the charges Aug. 29, had a case-setting Wednesday in King County Superior Court in Kent that was continued to Nov. 20, according to the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office. A trial date can be set during the court hearing or attorneys can ask for more time to prepare the case. Sharp is running against Bailey Stober for a council seat. King County Elections mails ballots Oct. 16 for the Nov. 5 general election. Kent Reporter, 10-3-13.

Bellevue candidates debate partisanship, public safety

Bellevue City Council candidate Steve Kasner

Bellevue City Council candidate Steve Kasner, tagged by incumbent Kevin Wallace as excessively partisan, said city budgets supported by Wallace have left the fire and police departments understaffed. Wallace and Kasner, in the most sharply drawn of three “nonpartisan” council races, hit those themes Tuesday night at a candidates forum sponsored by the Bellevue Downtown Association. Also appearing at the forum were Lynne Robinson and Vandana Slatter, vying for the open seat created by longtime Council member Don Davidson’s loss in the primary, and Mayor Conrad Lee and challenger Lyndon Heywood. Kasner didn’t respond to Wallace’s attack or address his own earlier comments at the forum, instead focusing on his record as chair of the East Bellevue Community Council and criticizing Wallace’s actions on the City Council. Seattle Times, 10-3-13.

Shutdown prevents worker from getting ALS treatment in Seattle

Jim Hashman (light blue shirt), Fine Arts Coordinator, Mark Hannold (dark blue shirt w/tie), Honor Music Festival Director, and Sgt Ariel Majors, flute and piccolo player with the III MEF band, talked about the 2013 Far East Honor Music Festival Concert on AFN Okinawa's morning radio show in April.
Jim Hashman (light blue shirt), Fine Arts Coordinator, Mark Hannold (dark blue shirt w/tie), Honor Music Festival Director, and Sgt Ariel Majors, flute and piccolo player with the III MEF band, talked about the 2013 Far East Honor Music Festival Concert on AFN Okinawa’s morning radio show in April.

A civilian military employee diagnosed with ALS or “Lou Gehrig’s Disease” says the government shutdown could cost him his life. Jim Hashman, a music teacher at a school for military families in Japan, says life-saving treatment is waiting for him in Seattle. Aside from being furloughed, Hashman’s medical retirement is delayed from being processed. “The military hospital is set up to serve the military; they aren’t set up with an ALS clinic,” said Hashman. The Hashmans have family in Edmonds and Bellingham and fear what will happen if Jim has to wait any longer. Jim has treatment lined up for his ALS at Virginia Mason Hospital & Medical Center in Seattle. But, with no end to the shutdown in sight, he isn’t sure if that’s days, weeks, even months away. KING, 10-3-13.

The State

Six Hanford workers taken to hospital as precaution after a spill

242-A Evaporator Building on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation
242-A Evaporator Building on the Hanford Nuclear Reservation

Six Hanford workers were taken to Kadlec Regional Medical Center in Richland Wednesday morning as a precaution after an unknown liquid spilled on some of them. Tests are being conducted to determine what was in the liquid, but it was not radioactive, said Rob Roxburgh, spokesman for Department of Energy contractor Washington River Protection Solutions. Workers were at the 242-A Evaporator building dismantling piping that previously had been drained and taken out of service, Roxburgh said. They were removing piping valves when some liquid spilled out, getting on the clothing or skin of some of the workers, he said. A couple of the workers felt discomfort on their skin, and all the workers who had come in contact with the liquid or were nearby were taken to Kadlec about 10:30 a.m., Roxburgh said. They were released from the hospital by late afternoon, but still needed medical clearance to return to work Thursday. Tri-City Herald, 10-2-13.

Homeless street feed to happen, against City of Olympia’s wishes

Ben Charles, founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, is concerned his organization will have no place to feed the homeless, after the city of Olympia ordered him to stop running a feeding program on a city-owned parking lot.

A nondenominational Christian group that Olympia police asked to stop feeding street people in a city parking lot said it would hold its street feed anyway Thursday, its founder said. Ben Charles, founder of Crazy Faith Ministries, said the feed would go on after he and the city could not come to a resolution at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting. Volunteers were to start setting up at 6 p.m. Thursday, and the meal was scheduled to begins at 6:30 p.m. in a city-owned parking lot southeast of State Avenue and Washington Street. Charles and other volunteers have fed hundreds of people each week on Thursdays and Saturdays, something they’ve been doing full-time for two years. The city has allowed the group to use the parking lot. But last week police told the group to stop using the site after receiving complaints including “blocking vehicle traffic and parking,” “garbage and debris being left behind after your event,” “food handling safety,” and “participant and public safety.” Olympian, 10-3-13.

Former Democratic campaign official pleads guilty to theft

Michael King, the former executive director of the state Senate Democratic Campaign Committee (SDCC) who was charged with embezzling at least $250,000 in campaign donations to fuel his alcohol and gambling problems, pleaded guilty this morning to four counts of first-degree theft and four counts of second-degree theft. King showed up in King County Superior Court for what was supposed to be his arraignment on eight counts of theft. In an unusual move, he pleaded guilty. The state will recommend he serve two years in prison and pay $250,000 in restitution. Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 22. According to charges filed last month, King faked polling results and other expenses and wrote himself checks from the Democrats’ campaign account between 2011 and early 2013. Seattle Times, 10-3-13

Here’s why the State Labor Council has endorsed I-522

The Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO endorses Initiative 522 because everyone in our state deserves to know what is in their food before they buy it. I-522 would require foods such as breakfast cereals, chips, and many other pantry staples to be labeled if they contain ingredients that have been genetically modified. The main reason that foods are genetically modified is so they can withstand exposure to pesticides and herbicides, chemicals that are known toxins. Many of the organizations that support I-522 stood up to support farm workers who told their stories about the horrors of pesticide exposure in Olympia last year at the hearing on HB 2413, legislation to protect people from dangerous pesticide drift. The stories of rashes, vomiting, respiratory distress, and birth defects from exposure to aerial crop dusting were grotesque and sobering. Imagine your boss dumping tons of toxic chemicals on you and your children! I-522 will give consumers the chance to decide against genetically modified organism (GMO) products that require the intensified chemical use. The Stand, 10-3-13.

The Nation

Government shutdown: Boehner tells Republicans he won’t let nation default

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH)

Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) has privately told Republican lawmakers anxious about fallout from the government shutdown that he would not allow a potentially more crippling federal default as the atmosphere on Capitol Hill turned increasingly tense on Thursday. Boehner’s comments, recounted by multiple lawmakers, that he would use a combination of Republican and Democratic votes to increase the federal debt limit if necessary appeared aimed at reassuring his colleagues — and nervous financial markets — that he did not intend to let the economic crisis spiral further out of control. They came even though he has so far refused to allow a vote on a Senate budget measure to end the shutdown that many believe could pass with bipartisan backing. They also reflect Boehner’s view that a default would have widespread and long-term economic consequences while the shutdown, though disruptive, had more limited impact. One lawmaker, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Boehner suggested he would be willing to violate the so-called Hastert Rule to pass a debt-limit increase. The informal rule refers to a policy of not bringing to the floor any measure that does not have a majority of Republican votes. New York Times, 10-3-13.

Government shutdown: Tribes bear the brunt; 300 furloughed on Crow Reservation

Employees of the Crow Tribe line up to receive their paychecks at the tribal offices in Crow Agency, Mont., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. These are some of more than 300 tribal employees being furloughed after the federal budget impasse and government shutdown stopped payments due to the southeastern Montana tribe.
Employees of the Crow Tribe line up to receive their paychecks at the tribal offices in Crow Agency, Mont., Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. These are some of more than 300 tribal employees being furloughed after the federal budget impasse and government shutdown stopped payments due to the southeastern Montana tribe.

American Indian tribes have more than access to national parks on the line with the government shutdown, as federal funding has been cut off for crucial services including foster care payments, nutrition programs, and financial assistance for the needy. For the 13,000 members of southeast Montana’s Crow Tribe, the budget impasse had immediate and far-reaching effects: Tribal leaders furloughed more than 300 workers Wednesday, citing the shutdown and earlier federal budget cuts. As a result, tribal programs including home health care for the elderly and disabled, bus service for rural areas, and a major irrigation project were suspended indefinitely. Some tribes intend to fill the gap in federal funds themselves, risking deficits of their own to cushion communities with chronic high unemployment and poverty against the effects of the budget battle. Associated Press (San Diego Union-Tribune), 10-2-13.

Millions of poor remain uncovered by health law

Claretha Briscoe, left, of Hollandale, Miss., with family. She earns too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to get subsidies on the new health exchange.
Claretha Briscoe, left, of Hollandale, Miss., with family. She earns too much to qualify for Medicaid but not enough to get subsidies on the new health exchange.

A sweeping national effort to extend health coverage to millions of Americans will leave out two-thirds of the poor blacks and single mothers and more than half of the low-wage workers who do not have insurance, the very kinds of people that the program was intended to help, according to an analysis of census data. Because they live in states largely controlled by Republicans that have declined to participate in a vast expansion of Medicaid, the medical insurance program for the poor, they are among the eight million Americans who are impoverished, uninsured and ineligible for help. The federal government will pay for the expansion through 2016 and no less than 90 percent of costs in later years. Those excluded will be stranded without insurance, stuck between people with slightly higher incomes who will qualify for federal subsidies on the new health exchanges that went live this week, and those who are poor enough to qualify for Medicaid in its current form, which has income ceilings as low as $11 a day in some states. New York Times, 10-2-13.

Iowa GOP state Senator resigns; took illegal money from Bachmann PAC

Republican State Senator Kent Sorenson resigned from the Iowa State Legislature.

Kent Sorenson, an Iowa state senator facing accusations that he inappropriately received pay from at least one presidential campaign in the lead-up to the 2012 Iowa caucuses, resigned from office Wednesday. The Milo Republican stepped down just hours after an independent investigator delivered a damning report to the Senate Ethics Committee, which has been investigating his conduct for several months. The report found “probable cause” that Sorenson broke ethics rules by accepting payments from a political action committee associated with 2012 presidential candidate Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN). The report also said his denials of taking such payment may represent a felony under Iowa law. Sorenson served as the Iowa campaign chairman of Bachmann’s presidential campaign until a dramatic defection to U.S. Rep. Ron Paul’s campaign just days before the Jan. 3, 2012 caucuses. The report also finds that Sorenson received a $25,000 check from a senior official in Paul’s presidential campaign, which he did not cash. Des Moines Register, 10-3-13.

Grading of Idaho student essays outsourced to India

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter

Let’s step back from the lunacy of the Tea Party GOP Shutdown for a moment, and take a look at a recently unearthed chapter of the Otter-Luna assault on Idaho public education: Idaho Virtual Academy, which is operated by K12 Inc., outsourced student essays to be graded in India. Almost no one in Idaho (except K12, Inc., and probably Otter and Luna) knew about this until now. Why? The story was discovered last week by citizen journalist and activist Travis Manning of Caldwell. Why does this matter?

1) A for-profit online education provider outsourced the education of our children and is paid with public education dollars.
2) Parents were not made aware of this–until now, by a reporter.
3) Supt. of Public Schools Tom Luna and Gov. Butch Otter enjoy very large contributions from K12 Inc.

As our children have endured a $930 drop in state support for each student in Idaho’s public education system since 2008, our GOP leaders have been rewarding companies like K12 Inc.  Idaho Democratic Party, 10-03-13.

To Think About

The trouble with the Common Core

Bill Gates: Who profits from Common Core? He does.
Bill Gates: Who profits from Common Core? He does.

It isn’t easy to find common ground on the Common Core. Already hailed as the “next big thing” in education reform, the Common Core State Standards are being rushed into classrooms in nearly every district in the country. Although these “world-class” standards raise substantive questions about curriculum choices and instructional practices, such educational concerns are likely to prove less significant than the role the Common Core is playing in the larger landscape of our polarized education reform politics. For starters, the misnamed “Common Core State Standards” are not state standards. They’re national standards, created by Gates-funded consultants for the National Governors Association (NGA). They were designed, in part, to circumvent federal restrictions on the adoption of a national curriculum, hence the insertion of the word “state” in the brand name. States were coerced into adopting the Common Core by requirements attached to the federal Race to the Top grants and, later, the No Child Left Behind waivers. Alternet, 10-2-13.

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