Posts tagged: veterans
Washington’s Secretary of State’s office has been pretty innovative in bring yellowed-paper archives out of their boxes in cool storage and into the digital age. The state’s Digital Archives has scanned in — and hand-indexed — years of territorial newspapers, old marriage and other personal records, and photographs, among many other things.
A new feature: a searchable online database to find records of World War I veterans. The paperworks lists training, battles, wounds, birthplaces, and race (Welcome to 1919: “Race: White or colored”, with that capitalization.)
The information cards don’t provide many details, but they give a glimpse into a life. Here, for example, is the March 12, 1920 record for a Pfc. Alexander D. Munro, a Spokane man who was born in British Columbia and enlisted at age 32 for a tour that saw him overseas in the final months of the war. He served in the “QMC,” which I’m guessing was the Quartermaster’s Corps — the Army’s supply arm — and was overseas from July 1918 to April 1919.
Here’s the link to search for someone by name. (Scroll down to bottom of the page and you’ll see where to type in the info.)
If you happened to be watching TVW yesterday afternoon, you may well have been left wondering what they’re putting in the House coffeepot these days.
What the hell was that?
(Tech note: To replay this segment, refresh this page on your browser first. The video, if you don’t have the 29 seconds to spare, shows state Rep. Joel Kretz saying that he doesn’t know much about a bill, but he wanted it sent to a committee. “I was hopeful that, if nothing else, I could take credit for the bill,” he said.)
Here’s the backstory: This was House Republicans’ way of protesting the fact that Senate Democrats have spiked what would have been freshman Rep. Kevin Parker’s only successful bill this year: a modest proposal to simply allow the state veterans’ administration take custody of veterans’ cremated remains that have been sitting, abandoned, for years at funeral homes across the state. Parker, R-Spokane, was so eager to introduce the bill that he handed it in weeks before he was even sworn in.
Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane, apparently liking the idea, introduced a nearly-identical bill, SB 5481, weeks later. Not surprisingly, the majority-holding Democrats decided that they liked their guy’s bill more. Despite some frantic last-minute lobbying by Parker, they killed his bill.
This greatly annoyed Republicans, who felt Parker had been robbed of a popular bill he’d worked hard on. Hence Kretz’s tongue-in-cheek motion yesterday to try to put his name on one of the Democrats’ bills. (It was quickly overruled.)
In the end, Parker proved gracious. He gave a short floor speech, calling Marr’s version “a wonderful bill” and urging everyone to vote for it. And they did, unanimously.
(If this second segment doesn’t load, trying hitting refresh on your browser.)
Case closed? Not quite. The man whom Parker ousted in November, former state Rep. Don Barlow, called this morning to remind me that it was Barlow, in fact, who came up with this idea. (Parker had also mentioned this.)
Barlow says the problem is real, that a surprising amount of veterans’ ashes are sitting on shelves at many funeral homes, who are afraid to do anything with them for fear of a future lawsuit.
“We need to do something about those guys,” said Barlow, a Democrat. “I’m glad to see that bill’s in there.”
This can be a stomach-churning time for lawmakers trying to shepherd pet bills over the finish line. If you need any evidence of that, ask Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane.
Parker, a freshman who narrowly ousted Democrat Don Barlow in November, was one of the first out of the gate this year when he introduced House Bill 1001. He filed it Dec. 8, standing in the rain on the capitol lawn to meet a handful of veterans who supported it.
The bill would allow the state Department of Veterans Affairs to claim human remains sitting unclaimed or abandoned by family members at funeral homes across the state.
Parker badly wants his bill to become law. And yet it’s parked in a Senate committee, where it will soon die.*
“Being that it was the second bill (introduced) this session, and the day after Pearl Harbor Day, you’d think there could have been a hearing by now,” Parker complained the other day. So he went to see the committee chairwoman, Sen. Darlene Fairley.
At this point, the two versions of what happened diverge.
Parker says he waited patiently for Fairley, and finally got a moment with her to urge her to move the bill ahead.
Fairley has a somewhat different take on what happened. She said, in essence, that Parker accosted her as she was trying to get somewhere on her electric scooter. She repeatedly described him as a “bully,” and said that Parker threatened to complain loudly to the press.
Fairley says there’s a simple reason she didn’t hold a hearing or vote on the bill: there’s a similar version from Sen. Chris Marr, D-Spokane.
“Marr’s bill is alive and well,” she said. “It does the same thing. The House sent me millions of bills. I can only hear so many. We’re going with Marr’s bill.”
UPDATE: But wait, there’s more: Republicans have apparently launched an effort to horse-trade and save Parker’s bill. It ain’t over yet.