Government shutdown: Home-turf anger has Reichert treading fine line
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert (R-8) won big last election in rural Enumclaw and its surroundings. But the federal government shutdown and the drone of partisan bickering some 3,000 miles away are starting to grate among people there. The GOP’s resolve on linking government financing to defunding or changing Obamacare has been pushed by House leadership. Caught in the middle are moderates like Reichert, who treads a fine line when supporting the tactics while offering overtures of compromise for his district. Highly unscientific and wholly conversational, a recent sampling of opinions in this chunk of the 8th Congressional District — from the livestock auction yard just outside Enumclaw to a medical cannabis collective near Black Diamond — reveals growing frustration over the shutdown. Seattle Times, 10-13-13.
Is Prop. 1 the answer to big money in Seattle council campaigns?
Big money is a problem in Seattle City Council elections, say proponents of Proposition 1, a measure on the November ballot. Large campaign contributions make average voters less important, discourage good candidates from running, and give donors more access to council members, contend Prop. 1 advocates. The solution, they say, is to fund council campaigns largely with property taxes. It’s the best chance for candidates to run “without being beholden to special interests,” said Rory O’Sullivan, a spokesman for Prop. 1. That’s misguided, counter critics of the measure, which would collect up to $2 million next year in property taxes for candidates. Seattle Times, 10-13-13.
Anatomy of a smear: Seattle Times tries—and fails—to link Kasner to BCTI scammers; not ‘nonpartisan’ enough for them
Bellevue City Council candidate Steve Kasner was an administrator and teacher at a computer school that closed after investigations showed it falsified basic-skills test scores of prospective students. Kasner said he was unaware of wrongdoing at Business Computer Training Institute, where he worked from 2002 to 2004. Seattle Times, 10-13-13. (And that should have told the editors that this was a non-story, because the reporter does not establish any link between Kasner and the scammers, and doesn’t even try. The Times endorsed the KCDCC-endorsed Kasner in the primary, but recanted here, saying: “Kasner has a solid résumé of local experience, but a video of him making some divisive comments about his future colleagues suggest he might not be a force for unity.” Steve’s crime? He said he was a Democrat.)
Dead man running for King County Water Commissioner
Jim Langston is in an unprecedented race for Commissioner 2 with King County Water District Number 54, in Des Moines. Langston is 70 years old, single, a retired school teacher, and is, indeed, living. Believe it or not, that’s the main issue in this election because Langston’s water district rival, John Rosentangle, passed away unexpectedly in August. “With all due respect, I would’ve liked to have beaten him in an election, but certainly not to have seen anybody pass away,” said Langston. One might think that running against a dead person would give Langston a distinct advantage, but it’s his opponent who could emerge victorious. Because he was running unopposed at the time of filing, Rosentangle’s name is the only one on the ballot. If the deceased candidate is elected, a successor would be appointed either by other Water District members or the King County Council. KING, 10-11-13.
The not-so-simple path to reducing Washington state class sizes
Money provided by the Legislature for reducing class sizes has shrunk dramatically amid budget cuts. But the problem that everyone identifies, from the state teachers union and its Democratic allies to some Republican legislators, may be about to improve for one small slice of the state’s students: kindergartners and first-graders in schools with high levels of poverty. In a $1 billion package of new school funding this year, lawmakers earmarked only a tenth for class-size reduction. But they targeted it to that subset of students — and they tied strings to the money requiring districts to show that classes are small. That mandate doesn’t take effect until next year. The Legislature gave targeted schools money intended to keep lower-grade classes below 20.85 students this year, but also gave them a year to get ready. And the lawmakers reached a deal on the budget too late for districts to count on the money in their budget process. The end result is that the $45 million increase that districts are projected to receive this school year, while intended for class-size reduction, can essentially be spent as districts like, according to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction’s Office. Tacoma News Tribune, 10-13-13.
Sheriff says Snohomish County must change jail procedures
Ty Trenary didn’t create the problems at the Snohomish County Jail, but he’s trying to fix them. He hired an on-call doctor and changed booking procedures in hopes of identifying inmate health problems before they become deadly. He has assigned some of his most trusted command staff to tackle jail troubles, including concerns about cleanliness and spiraling costs. The newly minted sheriff in Washington’s third-largest county—barely three months into his new job—also finds himself starting what promises to be an uncomfortable conversation. Snohomish County needs to change how it uses the jail, Trenary said. While working to address concerns about a string of eight inmate deaths since 2010, Trenary has begun talking with community leaders about using the 1,200-bed jail differently. Everett Herald, 10-13-13.
Will coal port come to ‘Wide Open Whatcom?’
Voters will fill four Whatcom County Council seats next month, but there was one looming issue that candidates could say little about at a packed forum in Bellingham Thursday night — the huge Gateway Pacific coal export terminal proposed for Cherry Point near Ferndale. The council must think locally about a decision that will send tremors globally. It gets, in a judicial role, to decide whether to grant permits to a plant that would export up to 48 million tons of coal each year, the lion’s share to power coal-burning power plants in China. One incumbent, Bill Knutzen, sounds like a throwback to days when the county’s openness to any and all development gave it the nickname “Wide Open Whatcom.” He rails against the Growth Management Act — “a political board appointed in Olympia” — and delivered such lines as: “We can’t sacrifice thousands of forestry jobs for tourism.” Yet, he was restrained on Gateway Pacific. “We’ll be ruling as a quasi-judicial body,” Knutzen said. He promised to read the full decision record and listen to one and all. Seattle P-I, 10-11-13.
GOP-backed Lynden farmer seeks ‘balance’ in race for environmentalist’s seat on Whatcom council
Ben Elenbaas, who wants Ken Mann’s seat on the Whatcom County Council in the Nov. 5 election, said he would bring something the council conspicuously lacks—a farmer’s voice and experience. Mann, born and bred on the East Coast, moved to the county in 2000. He responds to Elenbaas’ “vote local” slogan by saying the county needs someone with broad experience. Mann owns a farm, too – in Vermont. He worked for four years as an equities trader on Wall Street. He later became a civil engineer working on sustainable developments and now invests in commercial and residential real estate. He owns two buildings in downtown Bellingham. Elenbaas said environmentalism needs to be balanced with other interests. Farmers get undeserved blame for the county’s environmental problems, he said. Bellingham Herald, 10-13-13.
Spokane Council candidates Jon Snyder, Candace Mumm are targets of PAC-funded attack ad
A group of business-backed political action committees has launched a new television attack ad against two candidates for Spokane City Council, marking the opening salvo in what could become the most expensive council races in city history. Councilman Jon Snyder and candidate Candace Mumm, seeking separate seats in this fall’s general election, are targeted by a PAC called Jobs & Prosperity for Spokane, which received funds from three other PACs to help pay for $23,000 in television advertising against them. The ads began appearing on Spokane TV stations last week. The campaign is being directed by former Spokane County Commissioner Kate McCaslin, a Republican, who said she assembled the money to create an even playing field with Snyder and Mumm, both of whom have raised more money than their opponents. Spokesman-Review, 10-13-13.
Government shutdown: Logging halted in Northwest’s national forests
Loggers are packing up and leaving timber sales uncut across the Northwest as a result of the partial federal government shutdown. Timber companies say even if a deal is reached soon at the nation’s Capitol, the effects from the logging hiatus could be felt all the way into next spring. Timber companies received letters from the U.S. Forest Service telling them to cease operations after employees who oversee and inspect timber sales were furloughed. Adam Molenda, president of Spokane-based Timber Products Manufacturers Association, says the halt to logging comes at the worst possible time for the industry. Molenda’s association represents logging companies, mills, truckers, and others in the Northwest. KPLU, 10-12-13.
Self-ordained minister says zoning laws don’t apply to having sex offenders in his home
A self-ordained minister who angered neighbors by housing more than 20 sex offenders in his home told Kennewick officials this week he doesn’t have to comply with zoning laws. Roger Reiboldt contends his work as a minister means he doesn’t have to abide by city codes. That’s his response to a lawsuit Kennewick filed in July, claiming he misused his property at 1132 N. Arthur St. Neighbors have complained to city and state officials about the house since 2009. They say Reiboldt’s tenants make their neighborhood unsafe. At least 13 “high risk” offenders, in addition to other levels of sex offenders, have lived at the house. The city contends Reiboldt—leader of Steel against Steel Ministries—violated city code by illegally renting his five bedroom house to a multitude of sex offenders. Reiboldt, who has said he now lives in Arizona, told city officials he never was served with the lawsuit. Tri-City Herald, 10-12-13.
Government shutdown: ‘Time to tell Congress to go to hell’
Federal judges, long used to being blasted as “judicial activists” by members of Congress, are now directing a stream of anger and vitriol right back at Capitol Hill. Driving their ire is the budget austerity and chaos lawmakers have imposed on the judiciary. Jurists say funding for the courts has already been cut to the bone by way of sequestration — and now the government shutdown has added insult to injury, leaving the government’s third branch running on fumes that likely won’t last out the week. “It is time to tell Congress to go to hell,” Senior U.S. District Judge Richard Kopf wrote on his blog last week. “It’s the right thing to do.” Kopf, a George H.W. Bush appointee who sits in Lincoln, Neb., urged his fellow judges to evade the shutdown by designating all their staff as essential and exempt from furlough. “Given the loss of employees already suffered by the judiciary on account of the sequester and otherwise, why shouldn’t every remaining employee of every federal district court (including [federal public defenders]) be declared ‘essential?’” the judge asked. “Such an order would set up an inter-branch dispute worth having….[Congress] could do nothing, in which event Congress loses its ability to destroy the judiciary [by] failing to pass a budget. Or, Congress could go batshit and the judiciary and Congress could have it out,” he said. Politico, 10-13-13.
Government shutdown: Senate deal remains elusive
With a possible default on government obligations just days away, Senate Democratic leaders — believing they have a political advantage in the continuing fiscal impasse — refused Sunday to sign on to any deal that reopens the government but locks in budget cuts for next year. The disagreement extended the stalemate that has kept much of the government shuttered for two weeks and threatens to force a federal default. The core of the dispute is about spending, and how long a stopgap measure that would reopen the government should last. Democrats want the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration to last only through mid-November; Republicans want them to last as long as possible. The Democrats’ demand shows a newfound aggressiveness. Previously, they had favored a so-called clean bill that would reopen the government and lift the debt ceiling without any policy changes attached. With Republicans on the defensive, it remains unclear whether the Democrats are using a negotiating ploy to raise the likelihood that any final deal will include their priorities as well as the Republicans’. New York Times, 10-13-13.
Pete Festersen to vie for Lee Terry’s Congressional seat in 2014
Democrat Pete Festersen is in. The Omaha city councilman says he will seek Republican Lee Terry’s congressional seat in 2014, after initially saying he would not run. His entry into the race all but guarantees a tough re-election battle for Terry (R-NE), who is acknowledged as vulnerable even by Republicans. Festersen said the partial government shutdown — and not Terry’s controversial comments about his paycheck during the shutdown — was the tipping point. Festersen, 42, had been aggressively wooed by national Democrats to reconsider his August decision. They view the Omaha-based 2nd Congressional District as fertile ground to pick up a seat in the U.S. House. It is considered Nebraska’s only swing district. Omaha World-Herald, 10-13-13.
Two-tier voting? Arizona, Kansas pushing forward
Barred by the Supreme Court from requiring proof of citizenship for federal elections, Arizona is complying — but setting up a separate registration system for local and state elections that will demand such proof. The state this week joined Kansas in planning for such a two-tiered voting system, which could keep thousands of people from participating in state and local elections, including next year’s critical cycle, when top posts in both states will be on the ballot. The states are using an opening left in June by the United States Supreme Court when it said that the power of Congress over federal elections was paramount but did not rule on proof of citizenship in state elections. Such proof was required under Arizona’s Proposition 200, which passed in 2004 and is one of the weapons in the border state’s arsenal of laws enacted in its battle against illegal immigration. New York Times, 10-11-13.
To Think About
The right wing, 50 years later: The John Birchers’ Tea Party
It is startling, and even surprising, is how absolutely consistent and unchanged the ideology of the extreme American right has been over the past fifty years, from father to son and now, presumably, on to son from father again. The real analog to today’s unhinged right wing in America is yesterday’s unhinged right wing in America. This really is your grandfather’s right, if not, to be sure, your grandfather’s Republican Party. Half a century ago, the type was much more evenly distributed between the diehard neo-Confederate wing of the Democratic Party and the Goldwater wing of the Republicans, an equitable division of loonies that would begin to end after JFK’s death. (A year later, the Civil Rights Act passed, Goldwater ran, Reagan emerged, and we began the permanent sorting out of our factions into what would be called, anywhere but here, a party of the center right and a party of the extreme right.) Adam Gopnik, New Yorker, 10-11-13.