(Daily Clips will have a full election roundup, gathered from news sources around King County, Washington state, and the nation, Wednesday November 6.)
Will Seattle-area voters put their left feet forward?
Incumbent Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was playing the role of populist insurgent on election eve, while challenger State Sen. Ed Murray was talking about public safety amidst a phalanx of big-name supporters. McGinn released a video ad, alluding to his support for a $15 an hour minimum wage and taking a swipe at Murray for being too close to Comcast. ”If you are a hotel worker, you are as important as a hotel owner: If you work in a startup, you are as important as a cable company executive,” says the Mayor, talking to the camera. The nation’s two races for Governor are on the East Coast — with Washington, D.C. pundits jabbering about implications for Hillary Clinton, Gov. Chris Christie, and 2016 — but there are trends worth watching in this corner of what the Wall Street Journal calls America’s “Left Coast.” Joel Connelly’s roundup, Seattle P-I, 11-4-13.
Sawant’s ambush attempt fails when Seattle City Council members use second door
Seattle City Council candidate Kshama Sawant failed to watch for the back door Monday afternoon, dooming her plan to ask current council members entering their regularly scheduled meeting to sign a pledge to increase the minimum wage. Sawant and several supporters were waiting, oversized pledge in hand, outside council chambers as the 2 p.m. meeting start time approached, arrived and ticked past. The spectacle capped an unusual election eve event by Sawant, a socialist who is challenging longtime Council member Richard Conlin. The media event was billed as a challenge to the council members, and to Mayor Mike McGinn and his rival, state Sen. Ed Murray. Reporters were invited to come at 1 p.m. and told that McGinn, Murray and at least two council members would respond to the challenge. Only one reporter showed up. Seattle Times, 11-4-13.
Surprise: The immigrant-owned hotel the Seattle Times says the SeaTac $15 minimum wage would ‘devastate’ is exempt
SeaTac’s Proposition 1 only applies to hotels and motels with 100 or more rooms and 30 or more non-managerial employees. (Times editorial columnist Sharon) Pian Chan’s latest post claims that the Quality Inn has 104 rooms, but when a representative from the Yes campaign inquired about booking the entire hotel, they say they were told that there are only 82 rooms in service. But more definitively, (owner James) Shin’s own filing with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (doing business as JP & J, INC.) states that the Quality Inn only employs “11 to 20 Workers.”* So I don’t know what kind of math Shin allegedly did, but Pian Chan obviously didn’t bother to do any. I mean, who needs to double check your facts when you’ve got theSeattle Times banner lending you instant credibility? Because journalism! David Goldstein, The Stranger, 11-4-13.
Low-income residents in Renton fed up after being charged by landlord for ongoing fight against bedbugs
Spencer Court resident Carol Sanders, 60, gathered 20 residents together this week in the social room of the assisted living facility to take action against her landlord. Sanders says the Senior Housing Assistance Group (SHAG) in control of the property is neglectful of the premises and disrespectful to their residents. A bedbug infestation affecting the property since late July is the biggest concern to the residents. They were told to put their belongings in garbage bags and their beds were taken out of the room while treatment was administered. Months later, bedbugs are still swarming their rooms and many are sleeping on air mattresses or sleeping bags on the floor. They reported having to get rid of mattresses, bed frames, plants, clothes, food, and other household items. The residents were each given a bill of $400 from Spencer Court management to help pay for pest control treatments and were told they would be sent to collections if they didn’t pay a minimum fee by the end of October. Residents of the low income facility say this is extra money they simply can’t pay. Renton Reporter, 11-4-13.
Oil-terminal protesters gather at Vancouver port gate
About 50 environmental activists paraded and chanted Monday morning near the entrance to the Port of Vancouver, in the latest protest against proposed construction of an oil-transfer terminal at the port. The demonstration was organized by the Portland and Vancouver chapters of Rising Tide, an environmental group that is focused on “confronting the root causes of climate change,” said Stephen Quirke, a Portland member. Rising Tide is opposed to a proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build a $110 million terminal at the port. The proposal is undergoing a lengthy environmental review by the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council, or EFSEC. Several hundred people attended an EFSEC hearing last week in Vancouver, and a vast majority registered their opposition to the project. Gov. Jay Inslee will make the final call on the project. Demonstrators carried signs as they circled the roadway leading into the port’s main checkpoint, but they stood back to allow trucks to enter or leave. Vancouver police and port security personnel were on hand, but demonstrators said they did not intend to break any laws. Many chanted: “No tankers. No pipelines. No oil on the rail lines.” Vancouver Columbian, 11-4-13.
Crowding threatens health of jail inmates, report finds
Inadequate staffing, overcrowding, and a health policy in need of “comprehensive reform” combine to pose medical risks for inmates at the Snohomish County Jail. Those are some of the findings outlined in a 100-page federal report released Monday. The sheriff’s office asked for an outside perspective following two high-profile deaths involving inmates who were both in their 20s. The report said more corrections employees are needed to provide medical care to fewer inmates, and their work needs to be guided by better policies and procedures. The national institute’s review had been requested in March by John Lovick, who was then sheriff. Lovick later was appointed county executive and Ty Trenary took over in July. Eight people have died in the jail since 2010. Litigation over at least three of the deaths could end up in courtrooms. Everett Herald, 11-4-13.
How Dr. Bronner’s got all lathered up About GMOs, and why it’s a player in Washington’s Initiative 522 campaign
Initiative 522, which Washingtonians will vote on Tuesday, is one of the costliest in state history: Its proponents have spent a little more than $7 million, while their opponents in biotech and agribusiness have poured in $22 million. Dr. Bronner’s has donated a whopping $1.8 million to the Yes on 522 campaign. (That’s on top of $620,000 it gave in support of a similar California ballot measure last year.) At stake, CEO David Bronner says, is consumers’ right to decide what they put in their bodies. “If we don’t win the right to label and enable people to choose non-GMO, then everything is going to be GMO.” The GMO battle is the latest in a long line of feisty political campaigns waged by Dr. Bronner’s, the lovably weird cleaning products dynasty best known for its tingly peppermint liquid soap with the earnestly logorrheic label. Since it was founded in 1948 by Bronner’s grandfather, the Southern California company has become a soapbox for a variety of causes—from the elder Bronner’s religious universalism to its recent campaigns to legalize hemp and marijuana, clean up fair trade and organic standards, and combat income inequality. Activism and charitable donations consume about half of the company’s healthy profits. “I feel that if we are not maxed out and pushing our organization to the limit, then what are we doing?” says Bronner. Mother Jones, 11-4-13.
What Washington’s political campaigns know about you and your ballot, and how they’re using it
There’s no question our political system is getting more and more complex, thanks to technology. Based on our demographics — age, gender, Facebook likes — candidates and political parties, like advertisers, target us based on who we are to sell us a particular brand of their message. In local elections, things may not be quite so dramatic, but campaigns are using new resources to know more about every voter. Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton says in recent years campaigns have begun requesting information not only about voter registration, but also reports known as “matchbacks.” The reports, updated in real time as the elections office receives ballots and runs them through its sorting machines, show who’s returned their ballot and who returned a ballot but forgot to sign it. Parties and campaigns compare all that data to their own lists of voters (think: voters in a certain neighborhood they’re targeting or people who’ve signed up to receive their updates) and target voters on that list who haven’t returned their ballots or have missing signatures. “This is all going to change,” Dalton says. “Fifteen years ago, this was just barely in its infancy, what was available about individual voters. Give it a few more years and there’s going to be even more history about individual voters.” “For campaigns, it’s about resources,” Dalton says. “They only want to contact voters who have not returned their ballots.” Pacific Northwest Inlander, 11-2-13.
Bill advances in Senate to outlaw workplace bias against gays
A measure that would outlaw workplace discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity overcame a significant obstacle in the Senate on Monday as seven Republicans crossed party lines and voted to begin debate on the bill. The 61-30 vote marks the first time since 1996 that the full Senate will consider a measure to extend federal nondiscrimination law to gay, lesbian and bisexual people — a stark reminder, supporters said, that as the public has come around to accepting gay rights, Congress has been slow to keep pace. It is also the first time that either house of Congress has voted on a nondiscrimination bill that includes transgender people. Despite passing this procedural test, the fate of the bill remained uncertain. The Republican-controlled House was already signaling that the bill was going nowhere fast. New York Times, 11-4-13.
Old man yells at the clouds: Ron Paul, campaigning in VA for trailing Cuccinelli, calls for ‘nullification’ of Obamacare
Headlining the final rally of Ken Cuccinelli’s underdog campaign for Virginia governor, Ron Paul suggested the “nullification” of Obamacare Monday night. “Jefferson obviously was a clear leader on the principle of nullification,” the former Texas congressman said of the third president. “I’ve been working on the assumption that nullification is going to come. It’s going to be a de facto nullification. It’s ugly, but pretty soon things are going to get so bad that we’re just going to ignore the feds and live our own lives in our own states.” “Nullification” is a loaded word, still brimming with connotations here in what was once the capital of the Confederacy. But it might not even have been the most provocative comment that Paul, 78, made in a somewhat disjointed half-hour speech in the Richmond Convention Center. He tore into the Constitution’s 17th Amendment. Ratified in 1913, it’s the one that allows for the direct election of U.S. senators by popular vote. He criticized the 16th Amendment, which allowed the federal income tax. Politico, 11-4-13.
Coal train dust contained? Some claim new ‘topper’ protocol not effective, and that trains still lose some of their loads
Just north of the Montana-Wyoming border, operators at Cloud Peak Energy’s Spring Creek Mine near Decker are conducting a relatively new protocol, spraying a solvent on coal as it is loaded into each rail car leaving the mine. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway has required coal that will be transported in rail cars to be sprayed with a surfactant, a “topper agent,” since 2011. “It creates a 4-inch crust on the top of each load,” said Keith Walters, technical services manager at the Spring Creek Mine. Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, argue that applying surfactant to loads of coal transported in open rail cars doesn’t ensure that no coal and dust will escape from the uncovered cars. Rather, they argue, dust and even chunks of treated coal blow off rail cars and land in waterways and along the tracks. The coal dust issue continues to be a key in the arguments of opponents to proposed coal export terminals on the West Coast. Great Falls Tribune, 11-2-13.
Coal trains affect air quality, UW-Bothell researcher says
New research by a University of Washington-Bothell professor finds coal and diesel trains in our region pose air quality issues and could affect the health of people living near the railroad tracks. Dan Jaffe tested the amount of diesel exhaust and coal dust escaping from more than 500 trains over the span of one month. He tested air quality levels in a house in North Seattle and at a location in the Columbia River Gorge. For people living near the railroad lines, Dr. Jaffe’s data suggests that there is a concern with air quality from diesel exhaust. He says coal trains appear to release some larger particulate matter, which is likely to be coal dust. The study was prompted by a proposal to build a new coal terminal at Cherry Point in Whatcom County. The terminal would increase the number of coal trains that pass through Puget Sound cities. KING, 11-4-13.
To Think About
Everything That’s Happened Since Supreme Court Ruled on Voting Rights Act (it’s grim)
Last year, we wrote extensively about photo ID laws and the Supreme Court’s decision to strike a key section of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Now, with gubernatorial elections in New Jersey and Virginia, and the debt ceiling and healthcare debates already shaping the 2014 midterms, we’re revisiting voting policies to see which states have enacted tougher restrictions since the Supreme Court ruling in June. While literacy tests are a thing of the past, voting rights advocates say that statutes that limit early voting and registration, require voters to show photo ID, and purge voter rolls still affect poor and minority voters disproportionately. The Supreme Court’s June 2013 decision also effectively shifted the burden from states to citizens. Before, a state subject to preclearance had to demonstrate that a new voting law was not discriminatory and let voting law experts in the Justice Department evaluate it before it could be implemented. Now it is up to voters to challenge voting laws by filing lawsuits under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits racial discrimination. But most court cases involving Section 2 have been limited to redistricting, not other controversial voting measures, says Yale University law professor Heather Gerken. Pro Publica, 11-1-13.