SPD provided little data to back crime crackdown, records show
Seattle police handed City Attorney Pete Holmes only a list of names and personal information when they asked in August that criminal charges be filed against 28 people who repeatedly had failed to respond after civil infractions for drinking in public or sitting or lying on sidewalks, according to newly released documents. But police did not include details on the specific actions of each individual and the consequences, nor did they chronicle whether each had refused social services typically offered to violators as an alternative to criminal charges. The request for criminal charges came while the Police Department and Mayor Mike McGinn were under intense public pressure to address downtown crime, following criticism from the Downtown Seattle Association (DSA) and the Aug. 12 shooting of a Metro Transit driver. One of McGinn’s top aides, Ethan Raup, became personally involved in the effort to get Holmes to take action against the 28 people, raising the question of whether the move was politically motivated to shift attention to Holmes. Seattle Times, 10-16-13.
Revealed: The cool side of Ed Murray
The political playbook on state Sen. Ed Murray has been the same for years: He’s sensitive to criticism, a guy with a short fuse, so get under his skin. But Murray showed a Job-like patience Wednesday when Mayor Mike McGinn threw the book at him in a Seattle Rotary Club debate. McGinn’s cool is in for a test in the last three weeks of the campaign. A pro-Murray PAC, called People for a New Seattle Mayor, is airing a TV spot hitting the McGinn administration for eliminating the city’s Office of Domestic Violence. It has bought $63,000 worth of airtime for the ad. The Murray campaign has a few more shoes to drop. Murray has scheduled a news conference Thursday morning with Peter Steinbrueck, who finished third in the August primary. Steinbrueck, a former city councilman, showed up recently at Murray’s vision-of-Seattle speech. Seattle P-I, 10-16-13.
Federal Way school board removes Tony Moore as president amid legal troubles
In a 3-2 vote, with the deciding vote coming from the man himself, Tony Moore was removed as the president of the Federal Way School board during the board’s Oct. 15 meeting. The other two votes in favor of Moore’s removal were Claire Wilson and Danny Peterson, with board members Ed Barney and Angela Griffin voting against Moore’s removal. Wilson was voted in unanimously as the new president of the board. Moore will remain an active member of the board. Moore said he felt that his ongoing legal troubles were likely to be a distraction to the district moving forward. Moore is accused of scheming with a tire company employee in Portland to steal more than $150,000 in semi-truck tires in 2011. A grand jury indicted Moore on Aug. 23. Moore will go to trial in Oregon. His next court appearance is Nov. 25. Federal Way Mirror, 10-15-13.
Ferguson accuses grocery manufacturers of hiding millions in corporate contributions to anti-522 campaign
State Attorney General Bob Ferguson is accusing the powerful Grocery Manufacturers Association of political shoplifting, namely creating a secret account to fight Initiative 522 and shield big food manufacturers from having to leave their footprints on the campaign. The AG is asking Thurston County Superior Court for a restraining order to force the association to comply with the state’s Public Disclosure Act, and disclose where its $7.2 million in contributions to the anti-522 campaign really come from. Ferguson cited a Feb. 23 memo from Pamela Bailey, chief executive officer of the association, establishing a “Defense of Brand Strategy Account” to oppose efforts to put labeling on food products that have been genetically engineered. The purpose of the committee, she wrote, was give maximum flexibility in mounting a campaign against the Washington initiative, and — the key wording — to “better shield companies from attack” for their involvement in defeating the consumer initiative. Big food companies were invoiced in March and August. The “Defense of Brand” account has raised $13.5 million. The Grocery Manufacturers Association has put $7.2 million into the anti-522 campaign. “This is precisely the kind of activity our state disclosure laws are designed to prevent,” said Ferguson, elected last year. Seattle P-I, 10-16-13.
Inslee says Columbia bridge not part of transportation deal
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee says he still wants to call a special session of the Legislature to pass a transportation revenue package this November, but a new Interstate 5 bridge across the Columbia River won’t be part of the deal. Inslee has championed the Columbia River Crossing, but said Tuesday he won’t try to include the bridge in a tax plan to fund statewide road improvements, and would be content having Oregon take the lead on replacing the connection between Vancouver, Wash., and Portland. Legislative leaders will meet Oct. 29 to see if they can agree on a transportation plan, Inslee said. The governor said he will call lawmakers back to Olympia in November only if he is confident a deal is at hand. This week, The Oregonian reported that Oregon officials might convene a special session to try to fund the bridge on their own using a combination of state and federal funds. Inslee said Tuesday that by choosing to not fund half of the bridge project, “we’ve removed an excuse” to not come up with a transportation package. Tacoma News Tribune, 10-16-13.
Washington Medicaid increases dental coverage for adults
A quarter-million adults in Washington will gain dental coverage over the next two years as the state expands its Medicaid rolls under the Affordable Care Act and re-establishes programs dropped in budget cutbacks. Starting Jan. 1, current Medicaid recipients who lost coverage after successive rounds of budget cuts in 2009 and 2011 will have it restored, and those added to the health care program under an agreement between the state and federal government will also be eligible for dental coverage, state officials said. “Obviously, it’s a relief,” said Dr. Ashley Ulmer, a Spokane dentist who has a North Side private practice and serves as director of the Inland Dental Expanded Access, or IDEA, Clinic. “Some people have put off care for a long time.” Spokesman-Review, 10-16-13.
House GOP names state Rep. Chandler as top voice on budget
The state House Republican Caucus named Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-15), a conservative orchardist from Granger, as its leading voice on the House Appropriations Committee later this year. Chandler is scheduled to replace Republican Rep. Gary Alexander (R-2), who is running for Thurston County Auditor (a post he holds by appointment), and plans to step down after the Nov. 5 election. Chandler has served as House Republican leader in 2005 but lost that position to Richard DeBolt (R-20), from Chehalis. DeBolt stepped down early this year due to health problems. Rep. Dan Kristiansen (R-39), of Snohomish, took his place as minority leader. Olympian, 10-16-13.
Civics teacher seeks Wenatchee Council re-election against challenger who wants to eliminate Council altogether
Retired history and civics teacher Jim Bailey will face a challenge for his seat on the Wenatchee City Council from Democritus Blantayre, who calls himself a “reformist.” Bailey is seeking his second full term on the council and is the only council member facing an opponent in the November general election. Councilmen Tony Veeder and Keith Huffaker are running unopposed. Bailey, 68, described himself as a “political science geek” who enjoys the challenges and diversity of helping to run the city. He also wants to give something back to the community where he has lived most of his life and raised his family. Blantayre said he is running on the sole platform of getting rid of the City Council form of government and shifting, instead, to a direct democracy where all citizens propose and vote on any legislation. “My objective is to get into City Council and then dissolve it,” he said. Wenatchee World, 10-16-13.
Government to resume, debt ceiling to rise; GOP gets nothing (except sequestration—which was the plan all along)
If these last two weeks have proven anything, it’s that House Republicans haven’t yet mastered the art of using their majority. Many House Republicans believe they’ve gained next to nothing from a two-week government shutdown and near debt default. Despite tossing and turning for weeks, Republicans led by Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) ended up extracting exactly no concessions from the Obama administration in the final deal that was heading for a vote Wednesday evening. Almost every time their leadership came up with a plan to redirect the debate, it was knocked down. Despite a party-wide pledge to rebrand after the 2012 elections, House Republicans spent more than two weeks in a wrestling match while Democrats held firm. As the Obamacare rollout proved disastrous for much of this month, much of the media and nation’s focus remained on a shuttered government and loud protests on the National Mall. Democrats now say they’ve successfully put Republican majority at stake in 2014, as the GOP’s numbers are in the cellar. “We did have sequestration — and it’s still the law of the land,” Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) said. “There is a mechanism in town for cutting the budget that has survived. Secondly, we’ve made it abundantly clear we don’t support Obamacare.” Politico, 10-16-13.
House Dems sent Boehner a message: Strike a deal and maybe we can help you protect your speakership
About two weeks ago, as tea partiers in the GOP-controlled House were forcing a government shutdown, some House Democrats sent a private and informal message to House Speaker John Boehner: If you need to break with the die-hard conservatives of your caucus to keep the government running and avoid a debt ceiling crisis, we might be able to try to help you protect your speakership, should far-right Republicans rebel and challenge you. This offer was conveyed to Boehner just as he was entering what has turned into the toughest stretch of his speakership, according to two senior House Democratic lawmakers who each asked not to be identified. Mother Jones, 10-16-13.
Tea Party donors push back, but what did they expect?
At a Senate Banking Committee hearing last week, Frank Keating, president of the American Bankers Association and a former Republican governor of Oklahoma, warned that the damage from default would have to be measured in hundreds of billions of dollars. “If Congress fails to act and we hit the debt ceiling, we will set off a chain of events that will cover our entire economy and impact all Americans,” he said. But if Keating is frustrated with Congress, in some ways he is just getting the government the ABA has paid for. During the 2012 campaign cycle, the association gave $2.5 million to congressional candidates, with 80 percent, or $2.08 million, going to Republicans. Among the GOP candidates the ABA donated to last cycle are those who championed a strategy of trying to defund Obamacare, including then-candidate Ted Cruz, who received $15,000. The ABA declined to comment on its PAC giving for this story. Daily Beast, 10-15-13.
Booker wins special Senate election in NJ
Cory Booker is heading to Washington. The 44-year-old two-term Democratic mayor of Newark defeated his Republican opponent, Steve Lonegan, Wednesday in a special U.S. Senate election. With 99% of precincts reporting, Booker led Lonegan 55%-44%. Booker was the front runner in all the public opinion polls throughout the short campaign to fill the remaining 15 months of the term of the late Democratic Sen. Frank Lautenberg, who died in June. With his victory, Booker becomes the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Barack Obama in 2004. During the campaign, Booker characterized Lonegan as a far-right, tea party conservative who was too far out of the mainstream for Garden State voters. And Lonegan criticized Booker for what the Republican described as his celebrity status, adding that the nationally recognized Booker is a “Hollywood stand-in” for President Barack Obama. CNN, 10-16-13.
To Think About
The NSA and your buddies
There is a certain unfortunate quality now to the ongoing revelations about the National Security Agency’s interwoven mass surveillance programs: each aspect of our digital life that seems untouched by the agency is, in fact, merely a gap waiting to be filled in by a new set of leaked information. It’s mundane to expect that the agency has access to every part of our digital selves, in theory if not in practice. And while the agency continues to insist that it is constrained, technically and legally, to surveilling foreign targets, American communications are routinely what it collects. The Washington Post revealed Monday that the NSA captures contact lists from every major e-mail and instant-messaging service—Yahoo, Microsoft, Facebook, and Google—and that, while the none of the collection happens in the US, the contacts of “millions or tens of millions” of Americans are inevitably gathered in the process, which ensnares so much data that it has “occasionally threatened to overwhelm storage repositories.” According to a leaked presentation slide, the N.S.A. sweeps up roughly half a million “buddylists and inboxes” on a “representative day.” Matt Buchanan, New Yorker, 10-15-13.