Financial crisis threatens Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center
To claim the Discovery Park bluff that serves as a spiritual and cultural respite in Seattle, local Native Americans in 1970 surrounded a military fort and scaled the fences. The invasion of Fort Lawton, when more than 100 people covered razor wire with blankets to ensure that Indians got a piece of Fort Lawton when it was decommissioned, is a proud moment for Seattle’s urban Indians. It led to the construction of the Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center and a vision for a 96,000-square-foot complex to commemorate and celebrate indigenous culture. The rest of the complex was never built after Daybreak Star was completed in 1977, and now Daybreak Star faces a financial crisis. Program and governmental cuts have left the center nearly $300,000 in debt, and losing money every month, even after devastating layoffs. Seattle Times, 11-19-13.
Police make arrests, clear Horace Mann
Seattle police say they have made arrests and are searching the building as groups occupying the Horace Mann school are being cleared from the Seattle Public Schools property on E Cherry near 23rd. SPD says that four adult males were arrested as police continue to search the building after entering the barricaded facility Tuesday afternoon. The arrests come after months of talks between the school district and groups occupying the building dragged on. Schools has sent the Africatown and More for Mann groups multiple letters notifying them they would need to clear the building to make way for planned renovations so the school can re-open next fall. The groups continued to occupy the building despite those demands. Central District News, 11-19-13.
Wallace declares victory in Bellevue City Council race
Bellevue City Council member Kevin Wallace declared victory Tuesday in his bid for a second term as challenger Steve Kasner’s prospects faded. Wallace held a 201-vote lead over Kasner with 33,715 vote-by-mail ballots counted. Wallace had 50.23 percent of the vote to Kasner’s 49.54 — numbers that changed little from earlier counts. Based on King County Elections ballot return statistics released Sunday night, Tuesday’s vote count left only 759 more ballots, many of them challenged because of unverified signatures or other problems. Wallace said he had not heard from Kasner, for whom victory appeared to be “out of reach.” Seattle Times, 11-19-13.
Critic to Benton supporters: ‘you guys have killed Clark County’
A crowd of more than 200 people, many emotional and clamoring, sat or stood at Tuesday night’s meeting of Clark County commissioners. Most of them wore stickers, carried signs, or joined in rounds of applause to indicate they were there in support of Ed Barnes. Barnes, a retired leader of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 48 and engaged community volunteer, received a letter earlier this month from an attorney for Clark County Environmental Services Director and state Sen. Don Benton (R-17). The letter states Benton is considering legal action against Barnes for continually speaking negatively to county commissioners about their hiring of Benton to his county role. After about an hour of public comment on the matter, mostly from folks in support of Barnes and wearing name tags that stated “I am Ed Barnes,” the real Ed Barnes stood up and took the microphone. “This isn’t about Ed Barnes,” he told the commissioners. “This is about freedom of speech in this community.” Barnes told commissioners that he, too, had been in contact with attorneys over the matter, and that he believes a lawsuit against the county could be forthcoming for his having received such a letter from a county employee. He then addressed his comments to the standing-room-only crowd in the hearing room. “We need to stand up,” Barnes said. “We need to start coming to every meeting.” He then addressed comments to Commissioners David Madore and Tom Mielke, both Republicans, telling them, “You guys have killed Clark County.” Columbian, 11-19-13.
A closely guarded secret: State tax bill for Boeing
Washington lawmakers recently rushed into special session to pass $8.7 billion in aerospace tax breaks in an attempt to land assembly work of Boeing’s next generation 777 airplane. But how much does Boeing, or any other major company in Washington, pay in taxes? That’s actually a closely guarded secret. Now, one state lawmaker wants to change that, and a hearing is scheduled for this Friday. You can look up the Boeing Co. online and find out how much its quarterly profits are, what its stock price is, what sort of dividend it’s paying to its shareholders. But one data point you cannot find is how much this company pays in Washington state taxes. Confidential taxpayer information is available to the governor and a few other elected officials. Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36), who chairs the House committee in charge of taxation, is one of them. Carlyle said, “Under state statute, I am prohibited from answering that question.” But Carlyle believes lawmakers and the public deserve to know how much a company like Boeing pays in state taxes, especially if that company comes to the Legislature asking for special consideration in the tax code. KPLU, 11-19-13.
Race for Democratic state chair gets crowded
Two new candidates have declared for Democratic state chair, bringing the field to four persons who hope to succeed incumbent Dwight Pelz, who will resign as of February. Jim Kainber served as the Democrats’ executive director under Chairman Paul Berendt, during a time when the party recovered from a disastrous 1994 defeat, retained the governorship, gained three U.S. House seats, and unseated Republican U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton. Dana Laurent is a former political director at Planned Parenthood Votes-Northwest, and currently heads Win/Win, which her announcement describes as “the strategic hub for over 50 different organizations in the progressive community.” It is a group that has worked for to replace at-large elections for local offices, and supported creation of majority-minority districts. Seattle P-I, 11-19-13.
Republicans start lining up for Jan Angel’s House seat
Candidates have started lining up for the 26th District House seat, which is open after Port Orchard Rep. Jan Angel won a special election to the Senate this month. Seeking the seat are Jesse Young, a former candidate for Congress and business consultant from Gig Harbor, and Spencer Hutchins, a real estate broker who helped run Angel’s fundraising operation in her race against Sen. Nathan Schlicher. First-term Port Orchard City Councilwoman Cindy Lucarelli, a nonprofit director, said she is considering running. So is Jerry Gibbs of Gig Harbor, who helped lead the campaign that defeated Peninsula School District’s $50 million capital levy this month. Tacoma News Tribune, 11-19-13.
Gun-rights initiative will qualify for ballot, supporters say
Supporters of an initiative to prevent Washington state from adopting universal background checks for gun sales have collected 340,000 signatures—more than enough to qualify for the ballot in 2014, sponsors say. Alan Gottlieb, founder of the Bellevue-based national Second Amendment Foundation, said supporters are planning to submit the signatures in Olympia Thursday. They’ll continue collecting signatures until the early January deadline to demonstrate support for the proposal, said Gottlieb, who added that nearly 900 volunteers have participated in the effort. Initiative 591 would prevent Washington state from adopting background-check laws stricter than the national standard, which requires the checks for sales by licensed dealers but not for purchases from private sellers. The proposal was crafted in response to Initiative 594, also aimed at the 2014 ballot, which will seek to require background checks for all sales. Seattle Times,11-19-13.
Navy vet to oppose Kathy Haigh for 35th District House seat
A second Republican candidate has announced he is running for the state House seat now held by Kathy Haigh (D-35). Josiah Rowell, a Navy reservist and University of Washington business student, is the latest candidate to announce he will run next year for Haigh’s seat. The 35th district includes Mason County, and parts of Thurston and Kitsap counties. Republican Dan Griffey, a firefighter from Allyn who ran against Haigh in 2010 and 2012, is also vying for the position in 2014. Haigh, who has represented the 35th District since 1999, confirmed Tuesday she will be seeking reelection in 2014. Olympian, 11-19-13.
Environmental complaint added to lawsuit against Port
Three environmental groups that sued the Port of Vancouver, alleging that its approval of a lease for an oil transfer facility violated state open public meetings law, have broadened their lawsuit to charge that the port also violated state environmental laws. In their updated complaint, originally filed Oct. 2 in Clark County Superior Court, Columbia Riverkeeper, Sierra Club, and Northwest Environmental Defense Center charge that the port failed to follow the state’s Environmental Policy Act. The port’s failure is partly because it approved the lease before completing an environmental impact statement, the groups say in court documents. The port denies all of the accusations. It says a state agency—not the port—is conducting the oil project’s environmental examination. It also says the open public meetings charges have little or no practical value because the port held a second public hearing and took a new vote on the lease. The fresh jousting in court between the port and the environmental groups represents yet another development in the ongoing public strife over the proposal by Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies to build an oil-by-rail transfer terminal at the port. Columbian, 11-18-13.
Whistleblower at Hanford vit plant says retaliation continues
A key official at the Hanford vitrification plant has filed a second legal complaint, saying she continues to suffer retaliation and harassment since filing a whistleblower complaint two years ago. Donna Busche, the manager of environmental and nuclear safety at the vitrification plant, filed the new complaint with the Department of Labor, naming URS Energy and Construction and Bechtel National as respondents. Bechtel and URS strongly denied Busche’s accusations Monday. Busche is employed by URS, the primary subcontractor of Bechtel, which holds the Department of Energy contract to build and commission the vitrification plant. “Busche’s job is to raise technical and safety issues,” including issues that could lead to an unplanned nuclear reaction, according to the second complaint. She filed her first complaint with the Department of Labor in 2010 and that claim has moved to federal court. The additional complaint lists 32 examples of alleged harassment and retaliation, including that Bechtel tried to have Busche removed as “key personnel” from its contract with DOE. People listed as key personnel can only be removed from their positions with DOE permission. Tri-City Herald, 11-18-13.
Police say Aryan Brotherhood placed bounty on heads of WWII vet murder suspects
Two Spokane teenagers accused of killing a World War II veteran during a parking lot robbery are being targeted by the Aryan Brotherhood, a California-based white supremacist prison gang. Court documents indicate Spokane police learned the supremacist group may have placed a $10,000 bounty on the teens, both of whom are black. The details are part of a court filing explaining why a judge moved Kenan Adams-Kinard, 16, to protective adult custody rather than returning him to juvenile detention before he and Demetruis Glenn, also 16, were formally charged in Spokane County Superior Court. District Court Judge Debra Hayes ordered Adams-Kinard held in Spokane County Jail on $3 million bond Aug. 27, nearly a week after police say he and Glenn beat Delbert Belton, 88, to death in his car outside the Eagles Ice Arena in north Spokane. Spokesman-Review, 11-20-13.
Supreme Court allows Texas to continue abortion restrictions
A sharply divided Supreme Court Tuesday allowed Texas to continue enforcing abortion restrictions that opponents say have led more than a third of the state’s clinics to stop providing abortions. The justices voted, 5-4, to leave in effect a provision requiring doctors who perform abortions in clinics to have admitting privileges at a nearby hospital. The court’s conservative majority refused the plea of Planned Parenthood and several Texas abortion clinics to overturn a preliminary federal appeals court ruling that allowed the provision to take effect. The four liberal justices dissented. The case remains on appeal to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. That court is expected to hear arguments in January, and the law will remain in effect at least until then. Associated Press (Dallas Morning News), 11-19-13.
Albuquerque voters reject abortion ban
Albuquerque voters resoundingly rejected an antiabortion initiative Tuesday that would have banned the procedure after 20 weeks, with record-breaking turnout for a special election. The nation’s first citywide measure to limit abortion lost by nearly 10 percentage points, about 55% to 45%. More than 87,000 voters cast ballots, including 50,000 who voted early or absentee. In all, about a quarter of the city’s approximately 360,000 registered voters participated, a record for a special election, officials said. By contrast, last month’s mayoral election drew about 70,000 voters. The initiative turned Albuquerque into the latest battlefield on the contentious issue, as well as a testing ground for whether abortion limits could be imposed at the local level. The graphic campaign included a protest comparing abortion to the Holocaust. The initiative was sparked by Tara and Bud Shaver, who call themselves pro-life missionaries. They moved to New Mexico from Kansas, a center of antiabortion activism, intending to mobilize a campaign to shut down Southwestern Women’s Options, one of a handful of clinics in the country that provide later-term abortions. Los Angeles Times, 11-19-13.
Florida Tea Party Congressman caught in DEA cocaine sting
Freshman GOP Rep. Trey Radel was charged Tuesday with misdemeanor possession of cocaine in what a senior Drug Enforcement Administration official described as a sting operation. Radel, 37, will appear in court Wednesday morning. The charge carries a maximum sentence of 180 days in jail and a fine of $1,000 for a first offense. Radel, a former television journalist and radio talk show host, issued a statement acknowledging he has a problem requiring treatment. Radel, 37, represents Florida’s 19th Congressional District, centered in the Fort Myers-Naples area, in a seat that was vacated by Republican Connie Mack when he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Senate. Radel was swept into office with Tea Party support. Fort Myers News-Press, 11-19-13.
Teachers union, parents protest LA’s $1-billion iPad plan
More than a dozen Los Angeles teachers Tuesday staged their first protest of a $1 billion plan to provide iPads to every student and teacher, calling the effort misguided and unsustainable. About 15 teachers, parents and representatives from the teachers union rallied at the Valley Academy of Arts and Sciences in Granada Hills, just before a meeting held by Los Angeles Board of Education member Tamar Galatzan where L.A. Unified officials explained and defended the iPad rollout. The protest, organized by United Teachers Los Angeles, included protesters eating an iPad-shaped cake and 10 teachers and parents holding up the numerical digits of the $1 billion cost. A protester dressed up as Marie Antoinette and wearing a sash that read “Tamar Antoinette” urged onlookers to “let them eat iPads” in response to requests by protesters for more librarians and nurses and smaller class sizes. The reference was intended to question the Los Angeles Unified School District’s priorities in spending so much for technology when campuses and students had other needs. Los Angeles Times, 11-19-13.
Op-ed: BART management’s big mistake
Immediately after reaching a deal that ended last month’s transit strike, some of BART’s top managers were privately insisting they got the better end of the bargain. They claimed to be actually happy with the public perception that they caved in giving workers a 15.4 percent raise over four years. They were hoping the public and union would not focus on the fine print that was a coup for management: the tightening of work rules that would root out costly inefficiencies and allow the transit district to bring in new technologies. BART’s managers wanted the “unions won” narrative to remain long enough for the workers to ratify their contracts. And they did. It turns out that management should have scoured the 470-page contract’s fine print before signing off on the deal. In an almost breathtaking lapse of competence, BART management has since realized that the deal provides workers with a new benefit of up to six weeks of paid leave to deal with serious personal or family medical problems or to bond with a newborn or newly adopted child. Under the old contract, workers were allowed up to 12 weeks of such leave, but it had to be taken with vacation, sick leave or other accrued time off. San Francisco Chronicle, 11-18-13.
To Think About
The GOP’s scary-movie strategy against Obamacare
House Republican leaders could not have been more blatant in their attempts to frighten Americans if they had emerged from their weekly meeting wearing hockey masks and carrying chainsaws. The GOP scary-movie strategy has some logic to it: If they can frighten young and healthy people from joining the health-care exchanges, the exchanges will become expensive and unmanageable. This is sabotage, plain and simple—much like the refusal by red-state governors to participate in setting up the exchanges in the first place. But those sabotaging the new law should be careful what they wish for: Instead of killing the law, they are likely to make it more expensive to taxpayers. Their efforts could have the effect of turning Obamacare, which relies on private insurance and the free market, into just the sort of big-government entitlement Republicans were worried about in the first place. But the exchanges are unlikely to fail; they are working more or less as intended in states that have supported the launch. The likelier outcome: Republicans will achieve nothing but an increase in the federal deficit, about which they profess to be concerned. Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 11-19-13.