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Eye On Olympia

Archive for May 2007

Hey, kid with the net — Get outa here….

A month after releasing 199 hand-raised rare butterflies as caterpillars, about a dozen of the insects have emerged from coccoons.

So reports the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, which is trying to restore the endangered Taylor’s Checkerspot Butterfly, which favors prairie of the kind that was once abundant — and is now pretty rare — in western Washington, Oregon and British Columbia. The butterfly was listed as endangered by the state in 2006.

Think you’ve got one in your back yard? Here’s what to look for, according to Fish and Wildlife:

The Taylor’s Checkerspot is a medium-sized butterfly with upper wing surfaces of distinctive red-organge, black and cream colors in a checkerboard pattern. Like most butterflies, it has a short life span. Winged adults usually emerge in May, mate, lay eggs, and then die.

(See a photo of one here.)

The caterpillars were raised at the Oregon Zoo in Portland, from eggs collected in the wild.

Interestingly, the agency says some of the state’s best preserved prairie habitat is tucked away on sprawling Fort Lewis, the army base near Tacoma. The base is spending $1 million in Defense Department money — and $2.2 million over 5 years — to restore prairie habitat on land around the base, part of it aimed at helping the butterfly.

A candidate’s poem…

We’re still well over a year away from the primary in most statehouse races, but already, folks are starting to file.

As the Tri-City Herald’s Chris Mulick mentioned last week, Rep. Bob Sump, R-Republic, has decided not to run again when his term expires at the end of 2008. Seeing an opening, Edwall architect and goat rancher Sue Lani Madsen has filed for what’s likely to be a well-contested primary.

And in downtown Spokane’s liberal 3rd Legislative District, conservative Michael A. Novak is going to try to become the first Republican elected there since the early 1980s. He’s filed to run against Rep. Timm Ormbsy, D-Spokane, a labor-oriented Democrat now serving his second term.

I was unable to reach Novak by phone, but found his extensive myspace web page. (Note: Turn down your computer’s volume before clicking on this link, unless you want Enigma’s 1994 hit “Return to Innocence” and it’s opening chant by aboriginal Taiwanese singers echoing in your office.)

On his myspace site, you’ll find a poem penned by Novak shortly before he announced his bid for a legislative seat.

Here, in part, is the piece, entitled “Corruption”:

“…Is there anybody that can stand up against this injustice
There is one man
He is a different type of man
He has been told he is a tiger
Even though at one time he felt like he was no tiger
This man grew up knowing the difference between right and wrong
He fought as a soldier against dictators and warlords that were wrong
Now he sees injustice in politics and business
He is about ready to make this injustice his business
Many have told him to mind his own business because he would fail
This old soldier believes in a creed that says he will never fail
Recently he was almost destroyed from the inside out
A lady ripped his heart out
She almost destroyed his spirit
Nothing can fix a broken spirit
Until the lady with the blue eyes walked into his life
He saw a spark of hope and the true meaning of life
She breathed life back into the old soldier for him to stand up for what is right
She has given him the will to continue the fight
Now the ones that abuse their power and their might
Will soon discover a man that is willing to fight.”

What you’re really reading…

The three top-read Spokesman-Review stories of the past week:

1) “Data on Sasquatch Piling Up”

2) “17-year Cicadas Soon to Cover Midwest”

3) “ABC adds `Cavemen’ to its Fall Lineup”

Lisa Brown for governor?

Maybe, in five years.

Brown talked about future political possibilities with Crosscut’s Austin Jenkins for a story published today.

The short version: On running for the open seat for state treasurer — seemingly a good fit for an economist and a much higher salary than senate majority leader: “People are still talking to me,” Brown told Jenkins. “But at this point it seems unlikely.”

As for a gubernatorial run in 2012, Brown seems at least interested in the possibility, Jenkins reports. “That’s an open door,” she told him.

Fired U.S. Atty John McKay: Nothing meriting federal charges in 2004 gov’s election…

Fired U.S. Attorney John McKay said Sunday that the 2004 razor-thin governor’s election in Washington “smelled really bad,” but that an extensive, little-publicized investigation by FBI agents and federal prosecutors found no evidence of a federal crime.

“As a citizen and as someone who watched it, I didn’t like it,” the Republican former official said. “I didn’t like what happened at all. Through incompetence, through a mistake, whatever it was, I didn’t like the way the election was handled.” But a public-corruption case, he said, needed “conclusive evidence of a conspiracy” – something the federal task force was unable to find.

McKay was the breakfast speaker at a weekend gathering of GOP moderates, the Mainstream Republicans. Although some political observers have speculated that McKay, a longtime Republican at odds with an unpopular Bush Administration, could be a strong crossover political candidate. He said Sunday that he has no imminent political aspirations.

“I have no intention of running for political office now…And I don’t expect to anytime soon,” he said.

GOP moderates convene in Wenatchee…

Two years after suffering a bitter political defeat in the apple capital of Wenatchee, some of the state’s best-known Republicans gathered here Saturday to discuss their party and the battle for independent-minded voters.

“This is the future of the party,” said Secretary of State Sam Reed, one of the Republican moderates who helped organize the two-day Mainstream Republicans conference. “Most voters are centrists, when you come right down to it.”

If any place should prod Republicans into expanding their tent, it’s Wenatchee. It was here – after three ballot counts and a monthslong court fight – that Republican Dino Rossi’s campaign for governor fell a whisker short of victory. A Chelan County Superior Court judge, unconvinced by conservative assertions of ballot fraud in the race, refused to invalidate the election. Democrat Chris Gregoire won by 133 votes.

Now, as the GOP tries to regain lost ground in the Legislature and elsewhere, moderates like Reed say they can show the way.

“The party needs to expand,” Rossi said in an interview. “We need to welcome anybody into the group and stop putting up walls.”

Asked if he’ll run again for governor next year, Rossi said he’ll decide by the end of this year. He said he wants to be sure it’s the right decision for his wife and four children.

The weekend conference drew only about 75 people, but among them were Rossi, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, congressman Doc Hastings, former congressman Sid Morrison, former Secretary of State Ralph Munro, GOP chairman Luke Esser, and more than half a dozen state lawmakers. Fired U.S. Attorney John McKay, locked in a very-public clash with the Bush administration, is slated to speak to the group today.

On Saturday, panelists discussed – and occasionally clashed over – immigration, the war, school testing and the cleanup of Puget Sound.

Some in the party disagree that moderates show the way to victory.

Doug Parris, a conservative who runs a blog called The Reagan Wing, argues that the party has weakened itself by softening its stances.

“The idea that a Party that has been moving left for 27 years and losing progressively more and more each year has found a solution in moving further left,” he wrote in an e-mail Saturday night, “strains all possible credibility.” Only when the party returns to staunch conservatism on matters like illegal immigration, abortion and homosexuality, he said, will it see the groundswell of grass-roots activists that it needs.

“‘Mainstream’ not only cannot lead,” he wrote, “they haven’t got a clue.”

Read our full print story here.

Consumer-rights settlements: State legal action may result in a check for you…

The clock is ticking, but if you paid for a video subscription from Movieland.com, bought “Spyware Cleaner” software or ran into problems with several other products, you may be owed cash.

The state attorney general’s consumer-protection division says thousands of Washingtonians are potentially eligible for refunds for products and services that prompted state legal action. Among them:

-Anyone who downloaded a free three-day trial offer from Movieland.com, moviepass.tv or popcorn.net, then bought the program due to pop-up ads demanding payment. The AG’s office has $50,000 to distribute as partial refunds to consumers who paid for the service but didn’t — or barely — used it. Deadline: June 20.

-Anyone whose computer was harmed when they tried to remove the anti-copying software or Digital Rights Management software on some Sony BMG music CDs. The company agreed to provide repair refunds up to $175 per person, and is offering software fixes, replacement CDs and free music downloads. Deadline: June 30.

-The estimated 1,145 Washingtonians who bought Spyware Cleaner software. The seller has set aside $75,000 to reimburse customers.

-The roughly 3,000 Washingtonians who enrolled in one of Trilegiant’s many membership programs, including AutoVantage, Everyday Privileges God, and Travelers Advantage Service. Many of these solicitations, according to the AG’s office, were checks for $2 to $10 that looked like a customer rebate. Instead, those who failed to cancel were charged membership fees.

-and others, including people who took out mortgages and people who may have unwittingly been billed for an e-mail service as part of their phone bill.

To find out more, go to the attorney general’s settlements page, which details who’s eligible for what, and how to apply.

Attorney General’s computer system hijacked to send e-mail scam…

“You have 1 New Secure Message!” reads an email sent to reporters statewide this afternoon from a listserv distributing press releases from Attorney General Rob McKenna’s office.

The message, purporting to be from the recipient’s “Military Bank Online” was, of course, a “phishing” scam aimed at tricking recipients into revealing their account names and passwords.

McKenna is no friend of spammers and phishing con artists, winning a $3.3 million judgement in December against one spammer, and suing several others under the state’s consumer-protection laws.

Raises all around…

After months of study, the state’s Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials has concluded that the hundreds of state politicians and judges for whom it sets the salaries are all underpaid.

The prescription: Substantial raises for all, ranging from 7 percent for appellate, district and superior court judges to nearly 17 percent for Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who will see his salary jump from $78,930 to $92,106 this summer.

At a meeting in Seatac Tuesday, some members of the commission balked at Owen’s increase — the largest of the bunch — but were overruled by their colleagues.

“I don’t mind catching up, but I thought we over-caught,” said Katherine Wade-Easley, a Woodinville horse trainer on the panel.

As in previous years, public comment was minimal. Hearings in Spokane, Olympia, Port Angeles and Everett drew only about 15 people. Another 60 submitted comments by phone or over the Internet. Wade-Easley said that the group was surprised at the number of people who urged more pay for elected officials.

“There clearly were those who said it’s outrageous, that nobody should get these kinds of raises, that they’re public servants,” said retired banker Alan Doman, another member. “You always have that element. But I think there was much more of a balance this time, including people that were supportive of increasing the pay.”

(To read our full print story, click here.)

Here’s what the commissioners approved. Barring a citizen’s referendum to try to repeal them, they’ll take effect Sept. 1.

Gov. Chris Gregoire: $150,995 to $163,618.
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen: $78,930 to $92,106.
Supreme Court justices: $145,636 to $155,556.
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown: $44,311 to $49,280.
House Speaker Frank Chopp: $44,311 to $49,280.
Secretary of State Sam Reed: $105,811 to $114,657.
Treasurer Mike Murphy: $105,811 to $114,657.
Auditor Brian Sonntag: $105,811 to $114,657.
Attorney General Rob McKenna: $137,268 to $148,744.
Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler: $105,811 to $114,657.
Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson: $107,978 to $119,234.
Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland: $107,978 to $119,234.
Appeals Court judges: $138,636 to $148,080.
Superior Court judges: $131,988 to $140,979.
District Court judges: $125,672 to $134,232.
Most state representatives and senators: $36,311 to $41,280.

Source: WA Citizens’ Commission on Salaries for Elected Officials


Correction: The figures for judges above have been updated. Apparently there was a calculation error last night by commission staff, resulting in slightly lower numbers — $100-$200 a year — provided last night. These are the final numbers.

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Richard Roesler covers Washington state news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Olympia.

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