This edition of Daily Clips will be the final one under the present format. The time and work involved in producing this feature is proving to be unsustainable for a strictly volunteer effort. We are as committed as we can be at KCDCC to informing Democrats of the news and issues of the day, to help us all function more effectively as citizens and activists. So rather than bringing the breaking news, which is duplicated elsewhere, we’ll be selecting one story a day from the “To Think About” category, as in-depth and as packed with hard information as we can find, on a political or policy issue of the day, summarizing it and linking to it as we do now. These stories might be local, statewide, or national. Please stick with Daily Clips, even at one article a day, to give you something to think about, and something to act on. Thanks for reading.
Gap analysis reveals large unmet demand for affordable, high-quality preschool in Seattle
Implementing universal Seattle-wide high-quality preschool isn’t really a controversial topic within city hall; both the mayor and the council have voiced their unanimous support. But how to fund it, and to what extent, may make for a more contentious debate. That’s why the early learning “gap analysis” released Thursday will prove so crucial to the council’s deliberations, as it fleshes out the scope of the challenge the city faces. According to the report, there are currently about 12,280 three- and four-year-olds living in Seattle, of whom between 27 percent and 37 percent are not enrolled in any sort of formal preschool or child care program. The report makes no effort to speculate on the quality of existing programs, but it seems likely that many would not meet the “high quality” standard the council will ultimately adopt. The Stranger, 1-30-14.
Insurance questions drive Seattle’s rideshare debate
Gray areas cloud insurance coverage for ridesharing services like Lyft and Uber. That became clear Thursday during a Seattle City Council discussion where an insurance expert outlined his industry’s concerns about app-based ridesharing services. Resolving lingering questions surrounding insurance coverage will likely be central to the Council’s final push toward a set of rules for the taxi-like tech upstarts. Council staffer Tony Kilduff said companies like Lyft and Uber are concerned that if they expand their $1 million policies to cover drivers waiting for passengers, “they face the potential to be gamed.” The city requires taxi drivers to carry $325,000 commercial liability policies that also cover $100,000 per-person and $300,000 per-incident coverage for collisions with uninsured or underinsured motorists. Uber recently added underinsured and uninsured coverage to their $1 million policy. Taxi and flat-rate for-hire drivers have complained that they have to pay for commercial policies that can cost $450 per month, while competing against rideshare drivers paying only for personal auto coverage. Crosscut, 1-31-14.
Harry Bailey: It’s time for a new SPD ‘road map’
Three weeks into his new job, Interim Seattle Police Chief Harry Bailey has made changes that might normally occur over three years. Operating with a mandate from new Mayor Ed Murray to accelerate the pace of reforms to curtail excessive force and biased policing, Bailey has quickly assembled his own command staff while helping usher some of the old guard out the door. Bailey won’t talk about the reasons behind the departures, calling them personnel moves. But in an interview Wednesday, Bailey said he and his staff have been working 12 to 14 hours a day developing a “road map” for the future and “resetting” the Police Department before a permanent chief is hired. Seattle Times, 1-29-14.
Bellevue police chief to retire in April
Bellevue Police Chief Linda Pillo will retire April 15, which happens to be her 28th anniversary with the police department and 35th year of public service. Pillo started her career in law enforcement with the Mercer Island Police Department in 1979. Interim City Manager Brad Miyake highlighted the police chief’s successes in an email to city staff, particularly how “she helped blaze the trail for women in the field of law enforcement.” Pillo was Bellevue’s first female captain, major, deputy chief and chief. A decision on who will ultimately become the next police chief for the city of Bellevue will be left to the city’s next city manager. Miyake has been serving in the position since Steve Sarkozy resigned from the position in May. Bellevue Reporter, 1-30-14.
Op-ed: Federal Way children’s education is not a bargaining chip
Are you mad at the Federal Way school district over the school board’s travel, the superintendent’s salary, or the grading system? If so, how mad are you? Are you mad enough to vote no on the upcoming levy, just to teach the school board and the superintendent a lesson? Are you mad enough to take it out on the children we are trying to educate and prepare to be responsible adults? Are you mad enough to eliminate resources, some teachers, and other staff that help our children learn? Are you mad enough to shoot yourself in the foot? And do you really think that reducing school district funding by 20 percent is the answer? Bob Roegner, Federal Way Mirror, 1-30-14.
State Senate breaches blockade of Washington Dream Act
The long-blocked Washington Dream Act, which would allow state financial aid to college-bound sons and daughters of undocumented immigrants, appears headed for passage by the state Senate as early as Friday. A breakthrough was announced by Sen. Barbara Bailey (R-10), chair of the Senate Higher Education Committee, who last year blocked a vote and said recently that the Dream Act was “not a priority.” It came on the same day that Republican rulers in the U.S. House of Representatives announced they will move ahead with legislation that would allow undocumented residents to remain legally in the United States. Whatever the reasons and motives behind it, the Bailey breakthrough set off celebration in Olympia. The legislation, assuming it reaches his desk for signature, will help educate “the next generation of innovators, builders and entrepreneurs who will strengthen and grow Washington’s economy,” Gov. Jay Inslee said in a statement. Seattle P-I, 1-30-14.
State studies charging for road use — by the mile
Next year, some Oregon drivers will start paying a cent and a half for every mile they drive — rather than a 30-cent tax on every gallon of gas they pump. Washington, while far behind, has quietly been inching down the same road. Replacing the gas tax with a “road usage charge” would help ensure drivers pay their fair share regardless of their car’s power source or gas mileage, according to a report this month from a Washington task force that includes the Legislature’s transportation budget writers. Charging drivers by the mile or for a fixed time period would cost more to collect than the gas tax but would reap more in proceeds over the long haul, according to the task force convened by the Transportation Commission. A Washington state spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union said the group hasn’t examined what’s under consideration by the Transportation Commission but has privacy concerns about the government tracking where people are going. Tacoma News Tribune, 1-30-14.
Meet the Republican Senators who want to pay teenagers less than minimum wage
While the rest of us are fighting to increase the minimum wage, this crew is fighting to extend sub-minimum wage to all teenagers in Washington, making it easier for businesses to pay 85% of the current minimum wage to teen employees. The state of Washington currently pays teen workers aged 16-17 the same minimum wage as adults ($9.32/hour), with minors under age 16 getting paid 85% of minimum wage ($7.92). SB 6471 looks to pay teen workers ages 14-19 the sub-minimum rate for summer employment, and SB 6495 would seek to extend the sub-minimum rate to all employees ages 14-19 who are training for new jobs. The only problem is that neither bill includes restrictions, requirements, or established parameters around what constitutes a training period, or how many times someone could be hired into a job as a trainee. Under these bills, if you’re a teenager in Washington state, you could effectively be paid less than minimum wage until you turn 20 years old. The Stranger, 1-30-14.
Safety and equipment flaws, lax standards cited in refinery blast
An April 2010 explosion that killed seven people at an Anacortes refinery occurred in part because Tesoro Refining failed to use safe equipment, had poor inspection procedures and allowed its employees to regularly work in unnecessarily dangerous situations, according to an early draft of a federal investigation released late Wednesday night. After a four-year investigation, the federal Chemical Safety Board determined that the deaths happened after cracks and fissures in a damaged heat exchanger caused a metal pipe to rupture as it was filling with flammable material. The process of restarting the refinery’s heat exchangers had led to so many leaks and fires in the past that workers had come to view that risk as normal. Tesoro didn’t even investigate all the previous incidents, the chemical board found. But the board’s investigators also determined that refinery industry standards were too lax and largely voluntary and that state regulators had neither the resources nor competence to make sure refineries adequately followed them. Seattle Times, 1-30-14.
Mayor says NY will settle suits on stop-and-frisk tactics
New York City will settle its long-running legal battle over the Police Department’s practice of stopping, questioning, and often frisking people on the street—a divisive issue at the heart of the mayoral race last year—by agreeing to reforms that a judge ordered in August, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Thursday. In making the announcement, which he said he hoped would end a turbulent chapter in the city’s racial history, de Blasio offered a sweeping repudiation of the aggressive policing practices that had been a hallmark of his predecessor, Michael R. Bloomberg, but that had stoked anger and resentment in many black and Latino neighborhoods. He essentially reversed the course set by Bloomberg, whose administration had appealed the judge’s ruling. New York Times, 1-30-14.
‘Bette in Spokane,’ cited in McMorris Rodgers’ speech, declined health insurance options
The woman described only as “Bette in Spokane” during a nationally televised address by U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers said Wednesday she had no idea her frustrations over increasing insurance premiums would become part of the Republican attack on health care reform. Not that Bette Grenier, a critic of the Affordable Care Act, minds that much. But the “nearly $700 per month” increase in her premium that McMorris Rodgers cited in Tuesday night’s GOP response to the State of the Union address was based on one of the pricier options, a $1,200-a-month replacement plan that was pitched by Asuris Northwest to Grenier and her husband, Don. The carrier also offered a less expensive, $1,052-per-month option in lieu of their soon-to-be-discontinued catastrophic coverage plan. And, Grenier acknowledged the couple probably could have shaved another $100 a month off the replacement policy costs by purchasing them from the state’s online portal, the Health Plan Finder website, but they chose to avoid the government health exchanges. Spokesman-Review, 1-30-14.
Top House Democrat to retire at end of current session
Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) will step down in January 2015, he said in a statement released Thursday. He is a close ally of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee. “After 40 years in Congress, it’s time for someone else to have the chance to make his or her mark, ideally someone who is young enough to make the long-term commitment that’s required for real legislative success,” Waxman said in a statement. “I still feel youthful and energetic, but I recognize if I want to experience a life outside of Congress, I need to start soon. Public office is not the only way to serve, and I want to explore other avenues while I still can.” Waxman, who was first elected to Congress in 1974, has become well known particularly for his work on environmental issues and was one of the top House Democrats in developing the Affordable Care Act. Talking Points Memo, 1-30-14.
Why the 1 percent are freaking out
The co-founder of one the nation’s oldest venture capital firms fears a possible genocide against the wealthy. Residents of Manhattan’s tony Upper East Side say the progressive mayor didn’t plow their streets as a form of frosty revenge. And the co-founder of Home Depot recently warned the Pope to pipe down about economic inequality. The nation’s wealthiest, denizens of the loftiest slice of the 1 percent, appear to be having a collective meltdown. Economists, advisers to the wealthy, and the wealthy themselves describe a deep-seated anxiety that the national—and even global—mood is turning against the super-rich in ways that ultimately could prove dangerous and hard to control. The collective result, according to one member of the 1 percent, is a fear that the rich are in deep, deep trouble. Maybe not today but soon. Politico, 1-30-14.
To Think About
The charter school bill 1240 and the 1%: an analysis
If only they had channeled all of the money represented above into our public schools in Seattle rather than into financing the corporate takeover of our educational system, we would have full time librarians, nurses, career counselors, enough teaching assistants to handle the increased load of data collection that is to occur, as well as alleviate our crowded classrooms. There would be field trips, after school enrichment programs in all of our schools, books, fully equipped science labs, a well rounded after school sports program, civics classes, sewing classes, cooking classes (remember those?), drama, art in art rooms rather than art on a cart … the list continues, and I know that parents reading this post can add other programs and resources that we have lost over the years due to a lack of adequate funding of our schools. Now the venture/vulture capitalists, and anyone who wants to make an easy buck, are swarming our state. Dora Taylor, Seattle Education 2010, 1-29-14.