Archive for August 2008
As Republicans on the stage in Denver are giving speeches saying they plan to cross party lines and vote for Obama, in Washington state, Republican gubernatorial candidate is apparently hoping to get some Democrats going the other way.
Rossi will be airing this video on network and cable stations statewide before and after Obama’s primetime speech at 7:15 p.m. tonight.
“Tonight the Democrats have a nominee. I agree with them on this: change is needed,” Rossi says in the video. “But not just in Washington, D.C.”
In the ad (and on the campaign trail), he makes an appeal for a philosophical majority behind fiscal responsibility, and pledges to reach across party lines.
Forty five minutes before Barack Obama takes the stage in Denver, his campaign has sent out excerpts from his prepared remarks.
He talks about his background, about the nation’s promise that hard work and sacrifice, each can pursue his or her dreams. But this is “one of those defining moments,” the speech says, with a nation at war, an economy in turmoil “and the American promise…threatened once more.”
He appeals to the struggles of families: “More of you have cars you can’t afford to drive, credit card bills you can’t afford to pay and tuition that is beyond your reach…America, we are better than these last eight years. We are a better country than this.”
“Next week, in Minnesota, the same party that brought you two terms of George Bush and Dick Cheney will ask this country for a third,” the speech reads. ” And we are here because we love this country too much to let the next four years look just like the last eight.”
John McCain has worn the uniform of the country with bravery and distinction, he says, but “voted with George Bush ninety percent of the time.”
Democrats measure success by the progress of families and children, he says:
“We measure progress in the 23 million new jobs that were created when Bill Clinton was President – when the average American family saw its income go up $7,500 instead of down $2,000 like it has under George Bush.”
“We measure the strength of our economy not by the number of billionaires we have or the profits of the Fortune 500, but by whether someone with a good idea can take a risk and start a business, or whether the waitress who lives on tips can take a day off to look after a sick kid without losing her job – an economy that honors the dignity of work.”
He says he’ll cut taxes for 95 percent of all working families, and sets a goal: “in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.”
“We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans – have built, and we are to restore that legacy.
“As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
“I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing so that America is once more the last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.”
My colleague Jim Camden has worked his political-mapping skills and come up with a couple of graphics in the governor’s race.
The upshot: the late-arriving ballots have been tilting slightly to Republicans.
“Dino Rossi has been gaining a bit of ground in the gubernatorial vote tally as the primary count continues,” writes Camden. “His percentages are getting bigger east of the Cascades, while incumbent Chris Gregoire’s percentages are getting smaller in most Western Washington Counties.
Although the primary-to-general-election comparison is a little apples-to-oranges, the governor still looked strong in the Western Washington area, getting more votes in several counties that she lost in 2004. She also got 26,689 votes (as of this morning) more than Rossi in the primary. (Rossi’s campaign argues that primary turnout favored Republicans by several percent.)
Meanwhile, at Politickerwa.com, Brian Bissell writes from Denver that DNC chairman Howard Dean stopped by the Washington delegation Monday for a pep talk that included marching orders: turn out Democrats in Eastern Washington.
How? The old fashioned way: by knocking on doors repeatedly and making a personal connection that outweighs conservative talk radio.
Dean “said that Washington Democrats needed `to begin to build [their] base in rural Washington. You have an immediate dividend. Every extra vote you get out in Eastern Washington is a vote for Chris Gregoire. It is a long term benefit as well. These people haven’t voted for a Democrat in a long time. As soon as you get these folks to think about voting for a Democrat again, they start t consider voting for state legislature candidates. That is how you turn the country blue,’” reports Bissell, continuing to quote Dean: “`We are going to turn Eastern Washington blue.’”
(and yes, the state Supreme Court’s office building is really called the Temple of Justice.)
Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown is doing something that would make many a politician squirm: going to court to make it easier to raise taxes.
A 15-year-old law declaring that a tax increase requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature is unconstitutional, she argues. Her fast-track lawsuit will be heard by the state Supreme Court on Sept. 9.
Defenders of the two-thirds requirement – including national anti-tax groups, small businesses and farmers – say Brown’s setting the state up for big tax increases.
Others call the lawsuit an act of political courage.
“Lisa, when she fundamentally feels that something’s the right thing to do, she’s willing to go out on a limb a little bit,” said Marilyn Watkins, acting executive director of the Economic Opportunity Institute. “Leaders have to be willing to take risks.”
Politically, the lawsuit’s probably of little risk to Brown. She’s one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers, has been in the Legislature since the early 1990s and is sitting on about $140,000 in campaign cash. She got 77 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary.
But the case has drawn flak for months. “Why are you displaying such an arrogant elitist’s attitude?” wrote Gary Lollis, of Mukilteo. “You work for the people of the state of Washington, not the Senate in Olympia. Remember where you came from.”
Gov. Chris Gregoire, locked in a close race for re-election, has repeatedly declined to say if she supports Brown’s case. She says she’s not familiar with the specifics.
“I know that everybody thinks that’s surprising. I have not studied it,” Gregoire said in a recent interview.
The flak was no surprise, Brown said. But after 15 years in Olympia, watching lawmakers struggle to balance a budget in an up-and-down economy, she said, it just seemed like time to clarify the law. In a representative democracy there’s a careful balance of powers, she said, and the two-thirds requirement threatens that.
The stage was set six months ago on a drizzly Friday in Olympia.
After an afternoon of phone calls and emails with political consultants, campaign managers, etc., it’s nothing but day-after sunshine and candies.
Everyone I talked to claimed to be happy — usually very happy — with the results. Incumbents said challengers fell short of expectations, and challengers said incumbents should have done better.
“It is clear we are on track for victory,” said a memo from Superintendent of Public Instruction candidate Randy Dorn, who so far has gotten 31 percent of the vote in a six-way race.
Across the way, incumbent superintendent Terry Bergeson’s campaign was equally pleased with her 36 percent. “By every honest analysis, Dorn suffered a crushing defeat last night,” is how campaign guy Alex Hays saw the results. “I was amazed at how well it was for us.”
At Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland’s campaign, Todd Myers was “very pleased” with Sutherland’s near-tie with Democratic challenger Peter Goldmark. “Four years ago we got 41 percent in the primary,” Myers noted. And Sutherland polled about 5 points better than gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi, he said, a fact not meant to knock Rossi but to suggest that Democratic turnout was higher in the primary.
Goldmark’s campaign: equally happy. “We’re the challenger,” said campaign manager Heather Melton. “We’ve come a long way.”
And attorney general? Incumbent Rob McKenna, with 56 percent, called last night to say how pleased he was. Challenger John Ladenburg “is throwing a lot of punches, but he’s not landing them,” McKenna said.
The Ladenburg campaign’s take, with its 44 percent? “The results are good,” said campaign manager David Sawyer. “We’re at 45 percent without doing a thing. We have nowhere to go but up.”
Another very close race to the north, where it looks like Shelly Short and Sue Lani Madsen will face off in November.
The race in the rural northeastern Washington district is a rare five-way legislative battle with only Republicans in the ring. Three of them — Mike Davis, Peter Davenport, and Kelly White — did about equally, getting 14 to 17 percent each.
The numbers were equally similar among the apparent top two vote-getters, Short and Madsen. Each got about 26 percent, with Madsen leading tonight by about 60 votes.
A surprisingly sharp open-seat battle between Republicans Mel Lindauer and Kevin Parker seems to have ended with Parker facing off in November against Democratic incumbent Rep. Don Barlow.
Parker got 28 percent to Lindauer’s 21 percent in tonight’s returns, a roughly 1,500-vote gap that will be hard for Lindauer to overcome. Barlow, the lone Democrat in the race, got 48 percent. Independent Marcos James Ruiz Jr., an ex-Marine and home health aide who saved for years to pay for the race, got less than 3 percent.
Interestingly, the Republican votes and Democratic votes are nearly equal in this race, suggesting that the next round is going to be pretty fierce as well.
As expected, Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, steamrolled independent challenger John Moyna, a night janitor at a hamburger eatery in Spokane. The two will face off again in November, but the early returns show Brown with 78 percent to Moyna’s 22 percent.
In the same central-Spokane district, Rep. Alex Wood far outpolled two Republican challengers, 64 percent to their COMBINED 27 percent. But the GOP’s Laura Carder and Chris Bowen were in a tight race for who will face off against Wood in November. Bowen led by 1,835 votes to Carder’s 1,781.
The final Legislative District 3 seat featured incumbent Democratic state Rep. Timm Ormsby, with 70 percent to the GOP’s Mike Novak, with 30 percent. They’ll face off again in November, but at this point it seems hard to imagine how Ormby could lose.
Rossi 46 percent, Gregoire 48 percent.
In a press release a earlier this hour, Rossi called that a “strong showing” and pointed out that he got just 34 percent of the vote in 2004. (Note: Although in 2004, Democratic turnout in the primary was spurred by a heated Democratic faceoff between Gregoire and King County Executive Ron Sims.)
Rossi said he’s happy with the outcome and looking forward to the next few months. And then came a preview of what we’ll hear a lot of between now and November:
“Christine Gregoire sees Washington state the way it is today and she is satisfied. In Christine Gregoire’s Washington our economy is fine, there is no transportation crisis, she is satisfied with the education of our children, and she believes we are safe enough. In the end, Christine Gregoire is so satisfied with how things are today in Washington, that she wants us to have four more years of the same thing. I believe we can and must do better.”
We’re feeling good; we take nothing for granted,” Gregoire said in a phone interview from a campaign party in Seattle. “We’ve got momentum.”
She said she feels the voting suggests that her message of positive results for all Washingtonians is resonating across the state.
Asked if she’s disappointed to be polling below 50 percent, she said no, and noted that there were nine other candidates for governor in this primary.
Also, she noted that vote counting will continue for days to come.
“It’s not over yet,” she said.
Democrat Peter Goldmark, who’s led incumbent Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Sutherland in campaign fundraising for months, is neck and neck with Sutherland: 49 percent to Sutherland’s 50 percent. (It’s closer than it sounds, due to my rounding of these percentages.)
As expected, urbanites seem to like the Okanogan rancher with a message of sustainable land management. Goldmark is far outpolling Sutherland in King County, and beating him in Spokane and Snohomish counties as well. But Sutherland, a moderate Republican and former Pierce County official, is far ahead in much of rural Washington, as well as Pierce and Clark counties.
As with the attorney general’s race below, both these candidates are guaranteed a spot on November’s ballot, which will feature the top two candidates in partisan races. But the temptation is strong to view this primary as an indicator of statewide support — which is why the Rossi and Gregoire campaigns were making hard 11th-hour pushes in the governor’s race. Good numbers help fundraising in the final 2 1/2 month stretch.
Longtime Justice Charles Johnson is also holding strong over two challengers. Johnson’s getting 58 percent to C.F. (Frank) Vulliet’s 11 percent and James Beecher’s 31 percent.
Now Rossi’s up by a fraction of a percent: 47.49 percent to Gregoire’s 46.5 percent.
He’s been helped by heavy leads in rural, sparsely populated counties, primarily east of the Cascades. But Gregoire’s up by nearly five percentage points in Snohomish County — a populous battleground in this campaign.
No numbers at all yet from the other population centers: King and Pierce Counties.
Incumbent state Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson, seeking a fourth term, is drawing about 44 percent in the first batch of ballots. Her main opponent in a six-way race is Randy Dorn, a former lawmaker and head of a union representing rank-and-file school workers. Dorn’s getting 27 percent so far.
Unlike most of the races on the ballot tonight, any candidate who gets more than 50 percent of the vote in the primary essentially wins the office.
Gregoire’s beating Rossi 48 percent to 45 percent in the earliest returns.
Also, local guy John Aiken Jr. can take heart: among the 8 much-lesser-known contenders for governor, he’s currently in the lead, with a statewide 2 percent.
More top-two predictions from The Moderate Washingtonian blog, including NE WA races:
3rd House District #1:
Alex Wood [D] 55%
John Waite [I] 19%
(Spokane Valley area)
4th House District #2:
Diana Wilhite [R] 32%
Tim Hattenburg [D] 29%
(A crescent around western Spokane)
6th House District #1:
Don Barlow [D] 47%
Kevin Parker [R] 31%
(much of rural northeastern WA)
7th House District #1:
Shelly Short [R] 38%
Sue Lani Madsen [R] 33%
Barring effective write-in challenges, lots of state lawmakers are getting a free ride to re-election this year.
Two dozen state lawmakers, including local Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville and Rep. Joel Kretz, R-Wauconda, are running without even a token opponent on the ballot.
-Rep. Al O’Brien, D-Seattle,
-Rep. Cary Condotta, R-E. Wenatchee,
-Rep. Bill Hinkle, R-Cle Elum,
-Sen. Minority Leader Mike Hewitt, R-Walla Walla,
-Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia,
-Rep. Eileen Cody, D-Seattle,
-Rep. Sharon Santos, D-Seattle,
-Rep. Dave Quall, D-Mount Vernon,
-and Rep. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island.
The list is much, much longer for the judicial branch of government, where lawyers tend to be understandably reluctant to challenge sitting judges for office.
Also with the rainy-Monday-morning-coffee: a rant from Stevenl at Olympia’s Olyblog community blog.
In comments that I suspect a lot of people can empathize with — and more so as Nov. 4 nears — Stevenl bemoans the flood of glossy political postcards, radio and TV ads, smiling knocks on the door, Robocalls and e-mails.
“This isn’t educational,” he writes. “It isn’t informative. It’s advertising a product, and after awhile it becomes nagging and/or harassment.”
The Coalition Against Assisted Suicide sent out a note this morning thanking “members of the media for permanently refraining from accessing KVI’s John Carlson for Coalition information.”
It turns out that some folks are confusing retired health care executive John Carlson — the guy heading up the coalition — with conservative talk-radio host and former Republican gubernatorial candidate John Carlson.
“When I e-mailed KVI’s Carlson, he said `Yeah, I’ve been getting some calls” from reporters, said the coalition’s newly hired Cyndie Ulrich.
But wait, there’s more. The coalition also has a volunteer co-chairman in Spokane named Chris Carlson.
Following Utah’s decision to save an estimated $3 million by switching to a four-day work week for state workers, Gov. Chris Gregoire said in an e-mail to employees this afternoon that she’s considering the same thing.
Gregoire recently asked state workers to send their money-saving ideas to her. More than 300 did, suggesting things like encouraging more teleconferences or improving state purchasing policies.
“However, the most popular idea was implementing a ten-hour workday four days a week,” the governor said.
Staffers are looking into each idea. A decision on the four-day week is likely within coming weeks.
The text of the e-mail is below.
Dear fellow state employee:
In my last e-mail to you, I asked you all to give me suggestions on creative ways to save money, cut fuels costs and help us meet our service obligations in these challenging economic times. I asked for ideas on how to avoid trips - even across town - and still get your very important jobs done. In fact, I asked you to be as creative in increasing savings as you are with your own family budgets. And if you came up with ideas that can be applied across state government, I wanted to hear from you.
I knew I could count on you and was pleased to receive over 300 responses. Some of the ideas included improving the state’s buying policies, encouraging more mass transit, vanpool use and teleconferencing, and eliminating cell phones and Blackberries. However, the most popular idea was implementing a ten-hour workday four days a week.
I have asked my senior staff and cabinet directors to investigate the feasibility and cost saving possibilities of each idea. Some of your ideas were very specific to your agency or division, and I have asked agency directors to look into those.
I also want to let you know that the suggestion box is still open. As I said in my earlier message, “when all is said and done, it is each of you making thousands of decisions every single day who will determine how effective these steps will be.”
You are a major part of one of the best state governments in our nation. I thank you for your service and look forward to more ideas for saving money and cutting fuel costs.
Once again thanks for your help.
Survey USA’s latest Washington poll shows the governor’s race “too close to call,” with Democratic Gov. Chris Gregoire leading Republican challenger Dino Rossi 50 percent to 48 percent, with a remarkable 1 percent undecided.
The poll suggests that Gregoire is particularly strong with women (54 percent), voters earning less than $50k a year (54 percent) and voters over age 65 (also 54 percent). Rossi’s stronger in Eastern Washington (54 percent) and slightly stronger (51 percent) with age 35-49 voters.
Political blogger Daryl, at Hominid Views tries to put the horse race in perspective, combining it with several other recent polls and noting that none has shown Rossi in the lead since February. He writes:
The take-home message is that (1) Gregoire has repeatedly held the lead in this race. It is highly unlikely that this has happened by chance (i.e. the lead is almost certainly real). (2) There has been very little movement in the polling numbers for Rossi or Gregroire over the last 1.5 years. (3) If the non-movement continues, Gregoire will almost certainly win a second term.
Rossi’s campaign spokeswoman had a different take on it.
“Just as we have been saying all along, and poll after poll has confirmed, this race is statistically dead even,” said Jill Strait. “No one poll should be seen as being 100 percent accurate, but collectively these polls all show the race is extremely close and competitive.”
By random selection, it says, the state Liquor Control Board has picked the 15 independently-owned grocery stores that will be allowed to offer free wine and beer samples to customers, starting this fall.
Another 15 chain stores will be picked soon.
State lawmakers were extremely wary of the idea when it was floated in Olympia this year. House floor debate also offered a rare ideological flip-flop, with rural Republicans from grape-heavy areas like Sunnyside and Walla Walla touting the idea of free drinks while some urban Democrats decried it.
“Let’s take a look at this bill. It’s about drinking — in grocery stores!” state Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland, exclaimed on the House floor in March. “What are we thinking?”
“You’re going to see booze being handed out for free,” said Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, a retired Navy captain. “That’s wrong.”
Among the proponents: Sunnyside Republican Rep. Dan Newhouse.
“You won’t be seeing signs out on the street: `Come and get your free wine sample,’” he assured legislative critics at the time.
The bill passed, and the modest sampling — a maximum of two two-ounce samples of wine or beer per person — can begin Oct. 1. Stores can hold a tasting once a month for a year. State liquor agents will be at each store’s first tasting and will be doing spot checks throughout the year-long pilot project.
Among the independent grocers taking part:
Rosauer’s Super Market No. 2 in Spokane, Denny’s Harvest Foods in Medical Lake and Cowiche Harvest Foods in, yes, Cowiche.
Trying to trump Gov. Gregoire’s recent announcement of a hiring freeze and other budget-trimming measures, Republican challenger Dino Rossi says he’d:
-launch a year-long hiring freeze,
-and shrink consulting contracts 20 percent, travel 10 percent and supply purchases 10 percent
Rossi says the state should not only hire no new workers (except for public safety workers and a few other categories), but that it should only replace one worker for every four that leave.
Citing the high cost of gas, food and housing, hundreds of state workers converged on the Washington Capitol on Tuesday to call for larger pay raises.
“We ain’t nobody’s working slave, we deserve a real pay raise,” the crowd of about 500 Washington Federation of State Employees chanted on the statehouse steps.
Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget office is in the midst of more than two dozen negotiations with bargaining units representing more than 60,000 of the state’s more than 100,000 employees.
Even during the recently-booming economy, the workers say, their cost-of-living increases were just 2 percent last year and 3.2 percent the year before that.
Among their chants Tuesday: “Their 2 percent…Won’t pay the rent!”
Neither side is saying what sort of COLA’s being discussed now.
“What I always strive for is a fair but affordable contract,” said state budget director Victor Moore. “Our definition of affordable and theirs is where the fight is.”
Also, he said, the economy’s not as healthy as it was in 2006.
That’s a point made often on the campaign trail by Gregoire’s main challenger, Republican Dino Rossi. Rossi recently called for a halt to public-employee contract negotiations until the state gets a better handle on how it will deal with a projected $2.7 billion budget shortfall over the next two years.
Rossi and other Republicans have also blasted Gregoire for bargaining with workers while the unions’ political arms are helping pay for Democratic election efforts.
Rossi was singled out for a special chant Tuesday, as the workers marched up the Capitol lawn.
“Hey, hey, ho, ho! Dino Rossi’s got to go!” the workers chanted.
Watching from the sidelines at Tuesday’s rally was Tom Henry, a staffer for the conservative Evergreen Freedom Foundation. With the projected $2.7 billion shortfall, he said, the state will be hard-pressed to come up with money for larger raises.
“I sympathize, because costs are hitting state workers like everyone else,” he said. “But if there’s no money in the bank, there’s no money in the bank.”
…as I try to work the kinks out of a new computer system.
In a coup for incumbent superintendent of public instruction Terry Bergeson, the state Labor Council endorsed her yesterday at the group’s annual convention in Vancouver.
The state teachers’ union, the Washington Education Association, is supporting a challenger, Randy Dorn.
(Locally, the Labor Council also endorsed legislative District 9 candidate Tanya Kelley, a Democrat, and a “limited endorsement” for the Green Party’s Chris Winter in the same district.)
Today, Bergeson’s likely strongest opponent fired back. Dorn, a union head and former lawmaker, said he now has the backing of 50 Washington state lawmakers, from Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, to Rep. Brendan Williams, D-Olympia.
There are quite a few Republicans on Dorn’s side, too — at least partly an indication of the simmering bipartisan unhappiness with the high-stakes Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL) test that Bergeson supports. Among them: Vancouver’s Don Benton, Richland’s Jerome Delvin and Shirley Hankins, Ritzville’s Mark Schoesler and Moses Lake’s Judy Warnick.
State Sen. Pam Roach, R-Auburn, is chronicling her travels to the Philippines and China on this blog.
Under a post entitled “They Called Me Brave,” Roach recounts seeing military maneuvers during a pre-China visit to the Philippines:
The military was walking down the street. I didn’t think too much of it but had read in the paper about the New People’s Army. They are kind of like FARC in Columbia. That means they kill people.
There is danger here. I was given a bodyguard who walks in front of me where ever I go. He is taking his job quite seriously. To put all the community leaders in one room there was publicity about my visit and because of that they are worried for me.
Later, Roach met with a provincial governor. It didn’t go well.
Roach wanted to mention that a shipping container with medical supplies had been delayed, apparently by customs agents in the Philippines, for 18 months.
Instead, the governor announced his most important issue was global warming and preceded to talk non-stop about that. And then about how everyone had access to health care (NOT), and how everyone had a free education through college (NOT), and how he was a delegate to WTO and had been to Seattle. He rambled on about being arrogant (Not, Not!) and then told us how busy he was. Pretty busy, I guessed, as I noticed he apparently had no time to put on his socks.
On to China…
More on why endorsements are rarely news:
The Association of Washington Business recently announced its “automatic endorsements” for incumbent lawmakers, based on their voting records.
All 35 lawmakers listed had something in common: Every single one is a Republican.
Then yesterday, Planned Parenthood Votes! Washington (yes, the exclamation point is in the middle of the group’s name) issued its endorsements of state lawmakers and candidates.
Of the 76 legislative candidates and incumbents listed, every one is a Democrat. In some races, the group endorsed two Democrats for the same seat.
Gov. Chris Gregoire is running two new TV ads, both tailored to Eastern Washington voters.
Both tout jobs and Gregoire’s work hashing out an agreement to slightly draw down Lake Roosevelt in order to provide more water for farmers, municipalities and — in unusually dry years — for fish in streams.
This one, titled “Understanding Spokane,” is running in the Spokane area. It focuses on Gregoire’s early-adult life in Spokane, where she got her Gonzaga Law degree and started her family.
“Understanding Yakima” is running in Yakima and the Tri-Cities. It’s very similar, except that it briefly touches on the summers Gregoire spent on a relative’s farm in Windust, Wash.
Gov. Chris Gregoire is calling on state agency heads, colleges and other statewide elected officials to stop filling new staff vacancies and to cut the gasoline used by state vehicles, among other budget-trimming moves.
“Even though Washington’s economy remains healthy, a weakening national economy has affected us,” Gregoire wrote in a memo sent to state agency directors. The high cost of food and gasoline are being felt by all, she said, including the state.
“We must continue our aggressive reduction of fuel consumption to ease the burden on our budget,” she wrote.
To mitigate the unexpected costs of high gas prices “and a continued softening of the national economy,” Gregoire wrote, she’s calling for:
-a halt to filling new staff vacancies,
-a 5 percent reduction in gas use compared to last year,
-a freeze on non-emergency out-of-state travel,
-holding off on buying non-essential new equipment
-and freezing non-emergency contracts with consultants, etc.
State general-fund spending, which rose 31 percent during Gregoire’s four years, is Exhibit A for Republicans trying to unseat Gregoire, a Democrat. So Republican challenger Dino Rossi was quick to say that Gregoire’s not going far enough.
“I’m glad that Governor Gregoire has started to recognize the budget crisis she’s created,” Rossi said. As governor, he said, he’d cut staff at the governor’s office, freeze salaries for gubernatorial appointees and halt salary negotiations with state employee groups over pay increases until the budget picture’s clearer.
The Washington Policy Center’s Jason Mercier posted the memo here.
Note: This post has been changed to reflect a little mental dyslexia on my part. Rossi said he’d cut the governor’s office budget, not the governor’s budget office. Mea culpa.
The state Commission on Judicial Conduct today decided to censure — or officially call on the carpet for a in-person reprimand — former Federal Way Municipal Court Judge Collen Hartl.
Hartl violated the code of judicial conduct, both sides agreed, when she had a sexual encounter with a public defender who appeared frequently in her court. From the CJC’s announcement today:
“Shortly after that, Respondent hosted a Friday night holiday party at her house, attended by several Federal Way Municipal Court employees. During the course of her party, Respondent became highly intoxicated and revealed the encounter to a group of court employees.”
On Monday, the judge reported the situation to the commission, but said there had simply been “flirtation” between the two. According to the commission, she also called the court administrator to ask if court staff “would support that version.”
Hartl — who said that voice mail was in no way meant to induce anyone to be dishonest with the commission — resigned the following day.
“Respondent’s sudden departure, together with the foreseeable public dissemination of her admissions and unseemly behavior at her party, received considerable public notoriety and media attention and significantly disrupted the court’s operations,”
the commission said.
In the stipulated agreement, Hartl agreed that the conduct violated the code of judicial conduct, which among other things requires judges to avoid the appearance of impropriety. She also agreed not to serve as a judge again without the commission’s approval.
In other judicial news, the commission also admonished Pierce County Superior Court Judge Katherine Stolz, who sparked a controversy by insisting that a man in her courtroom remove a religious head-covering.
Staff writer Carley Dryden has a story today about the Whitman County city of Pullman possibly following in Seattle’s footsteps and instituting a 20-cents-each tax on plastic shopping bags.
Washington State University professor Elizabeth Siler’s promoting the idea, after counting 55 plastic bags littering a stretch of Highway 195 last year.
“A plastic bag we get today at a grocery store in Pullman that accidentally blows out of the car window will be here longer than any of us,” she said. “I am going to biodegrade in 100 years or less. But that bag out my window will be there another 1,000 years, breaking down, choking animals, creating environmental havoc.”
City Supervisor John Sherman sounded lukewarm on the idea, which Siler hopes to bring to the city council shortly after WSU goes back in session in a few weeks.
“Right now, with the high cost of food, we are very concerned about adding additional costs to people,” Sherman said. He said there’s a chance the measure will fail for that reason.
“I think it will be very controversial,” he said.
Click here to read Dryden’s full story.