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Spin Control

Eastern WA burn ban extended

OLYMPIA — The ban on most outdoor and agricultural burning in 20 Eastern Washington counties was extended for another week.

The ban, ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, was set to expire at noon today. But with wildfires still burning east of the Cascades, Inslee extended it through Aug. 1.

“While fire crews  have made significant progress over the past week in bringing the fires under control, weather conditions are still a concern and we need to continue erring on the side of safety,” Inslee said in a press release announcing the extension.

The ban includes, but isn't limited to:

Campfires
Bonfires
Yard debris or trash burning, land clearing, weed abatement
Agricultural burning
 Fireworks.

Court: Public records trump renters’ concerns

OLYMPIA – Renters who have been wrongly sued by their landlords can't have their names hidden in court records to prevent possible problems with finding future housing, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.

Public interest in the judicial system outweighs renters' rights to privacy, a slim majority of the court said. A dissenting justice said the majority was ruling from an “ivory tower” in a way that favors court records over the prospect of a family’s homelessness. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Today’s video: Murray talks about WA fires on Senate floor

 

Sen. Patty Murray tells the Senate some of the details of the wildfires in Central and Eastern Washington, makes pitch for emergency aid to move through.

 

Spokane County turnout nudges past 10%

Slightly more than 30,000 ballots for the Aug. 5 primary have been returned to the Spokane County elections office.

That pushes turnout — or turn in, to be more precise — to about 10.5 percent countywide. County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the county is on track for the predicted turnout of between 35 percent and 40 percent total.

The four-way primary in the 5th Congressional District and a three-way primary for a 4th Legislative District House seat are drawing interest, McLaughlin said. The 6th Legislative District Senate race is also getting attention, even though it has only two candidates so both will advance to the general.

As usual, the mailbags were heavy on Monday, after the first weekend ballots had been in homes after they were mailed out the middle of last week. That's often the heaviest day for ballot returns until the Monday before the election.  People who know who they plan to vote for (or against) in all races tend to mark their ballots and drop them in the mail, as do folks who plan to be gone at some point between now and the election and don't want to forget. 

Unlike primaries in some odd-numbered years which can be hit or miss for having enough candidates for some municipal elections, all voters in the state get a ballot this year because of primaries for federal and state elections. Most of those offices are partisan. But under the state's primary system, the candidate with the most and second-most votes advance to the general, regardless of party. 

Primary turnout in even-year elections typically is near or above 40 percent, McLaughlin said. One exception was 2002, which like this year had no primaries for statewide offices or a U.S. Senate seat and had a turnout of 36 percent.

Ballots must be marked, placed in the provided envelopes which must be appropriately signed, and deposited at a drop box by 8 p.m. Aug. 5 or mailed with proper postage so they are postmarked by that date. 

Spokane County drop boxes can be found at public libraries. For a list of addresses, click here to go inside the blog.

Election junkies who want to follow the turnout statistics can click here and call up the latest PDF under Statistics.

Used practice targets left at League office

The League of Women Voters of Washington wants supporters of a gun-rights initiative to denounce the unknown group that left used targets at or near their office.

But supporters of Initiative 591 called the incidents a “propaganda stunt” the good government group is milking to get money for a rival ballot measure, I-594. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Believe it or not: Support for conspiracy theories

About a third of American adults believe the JFK assassination was pulled off by a conspiracy, a new survey suggests. About the same number say he was the victim of a lone gunman.

Rasmussen Reports surveyed more than 1,000 Americans on some of the most common conspiracy theories. It found that 32 percent believe more than one shooter was involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination, which was slightly less than the 37 percent who said he was a victim of a larger conspiracy when a similar survey was conducted in November around the 50th anniversary of the event.

Other conspiracy ratings:

Almost one in four believe the government new about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks before hand and did nothing to stop them.

About the same number say Obama is not an American citizen. (That goes to two out of five for Republicans surveyed.)

One in five believe a UFO with aliens crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

About one in seven (14 percent) say the U.S. faked the moon landing in 1969.

Almost the same number (13 percent) say the British Royal Family had Princess Di killed.

Disbelief was high, however, that Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by someone else in the Beatles. Only 3 percent believe the Walrus is Paul. (Oblique reference explained inside the blog.)

Obama signs emergency declaration for fires

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration this morning that offers federal aid to Central Washington areas hard hit by wildfires.

It authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts in Chelan and Okanogan counties and on the Colville Reservation. Obama had promised action Tuesday in Seattle after receiving a briefing on the fires from Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Full text of the White House announcement can be found inside the blog.

 

Inslee: FEMA aid to help restore power in fire areas

SEATTLE – The federal government will provide emergency assistance to help restore electricity in areas of Central Washington where wild fires have knocked out power, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

Inslee got a promise of emergency assistance that will include generators, replacing burned out lines and poles and help from the Army Corps of Engineers from President Obama after briefing him on the devastation from the fires. Obama and Inslee rode into Seattle for a Democratic Party fund-raiser after Air Force One landed at Boeing Field Tuesday afternoon.

During the ride, Inslee said he was able to show Obama maps of the fires in Central Washington and brief him on “how enormous this threat is.” An estimated 350,000 acres have burned, the most in state history, and fire season still has months to go, the governor said.

“The administration is going to grant that emergency assistance that will be generated through FEMA,” Inslee said.

Today’s fun video: What would Reagan do about Ukraine shootdown?

 

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart skewers talking head news types who compare Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan's response to the Soviet shoot-down of a jetliner without checking the facts. 

Spokane unemployment rate drops

Spokane County's unemployment rated dropped by 1 percent in June, nearing the state average as it fell to 5.6 percent.

The Washington Employment Security Department released its monthly unemployment report this morning, which shows unemployment in Spokane County at the lowest point since October 2008. Statewide unemployment is estimated at 5.4 percent.

Ferry and Grays Harbor counties had the highest unemployment rates, at 8.5 percent and Asotin County the lowest, at 4.4 percent. King County, the state's most populous is at 4.7 percent.

Inslee to brief Obama on fires

Gov. Jay Inslee will brief President Obama on the fires in Central Washington as the two drive into Seattle this afternoon.

Obama, Air Force One and the traveling White House press corps are due in to Boeing Field at mid-afternoon, and the president will motorcade into Seattle for a fund-raiser. Inslee will ride in the car with Obama to brief him on the progress of fighting the wildfires, which have torched a record amount of area east of the Cascades.

The president is due to leave Seattle right after the fund-raiser to fly to San Francisco. Seattle drivers are being warned to expect traffic days for Obama's coming and going. 

Inslee, who has made several trips to the east side of the state to check on firefighting efforts, plans to stop at the Camp Murray Emergency Operations Center to thank workers on his way up to Boeing Field, his staff said.

Sunday Spin: Some advice for Obama on this trip to Seattle

President Obama’s campaign apparatus e-mails almost every day asking for money, but perhaps because I never give him any, he never calls to ask for advice. That’s OK. I have some for him anyway, unsolicited.

Don’t pop in and out of Seattle this week like some guy stopping at the ATM for cash on the way to pick up pizza and a video. If you’re intent on coming for a fund-raiser at some Seattle fat-cat’s home – thus making the city’s usually terrible traffic abysmal for everyone not in an escorted motorcade – it ought to be for something more than just the money. This is particularly true if half the state is still either on fire or choking on smoke.

The White House said last week the president will stop in Tuesday on his way to California, where he’s got even more money-makers later in the week. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog.

Obama coming next week. Will WA still be burning?

President Barack Obama is planning a fund-raising visit to Seattle on Tuesday. Quick in and out on the way to more fund-raising in California.

As with previous visits, it's likely to tie up traffic in the Puget Sound during his coming and going to the event, which is at an as-yet-undisclosed residence in Seattle. Motorists already dealing with summer construction season can expect even more delays.

But the fires in Central Washington — which Gov. Jay Inslee labeled a firestorm today — might still be burning by Tuesday, and even if they are under control, there will be plenty of scorched earth and former homes that are not much more than a foundation and a chimney. 

So the question for Obama and all his political planners is this:Do you cancel the Seattle stop out of respect for the disaster? Do you pop in and out of Washington like a person hitting their favorite ATM? Or do you extend the stay to acknowledge the disaster, possibly making a trip to the devastation and talk about the effects of climate change? 

Gov. Jay Inslee said today he hadn't talked to Obama about the fires and his upcoming visit.

Edible pot rules: No to lollipops, yes to brownies

OLYMPIA — Legal marijuana stores won't be able to sell lollipops, gummy bears or other candies infused with the drug, but will be able to sell properly labelled brownies and cookies, a state agency decided today.

The Liquor Control Board approved rules for marijuana-infused food products, also known as edibles, designed to limit items that may appeal strongly to children. . . 

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

 

Today’s fun video: We’re all guilty of some word crimes

 

How many of these infractions, misdemeanors and felonies have you committed?

And yes, Weird Al probably made better use of this tune than Robin Thicke.

Ex-Im Bank: How vital is it?

Govs. Jay Inslee and Butch Otter signed on to a letter Tuesday urging Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, but the owner of a Palouse company sometimes listed as a local beneficiary of the institution says the United States should let it go out of business . .  .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Ballots start to go in mail tomorrow

County elections offices around the state will begin mailing out ballots Wednesday to the state's voters. Spokane County elections officials say they will be mailing out more than 275,000 in two batches, Wednesday and Thursday.

If you are registered to vote and don't get a ballot by the following Friday, July 25th, call the elections office, which in Spokane is 509-477-2320 about a replacement ballot. (Live in another county and need their number? Click here.)

If you aren't registered to vote, but would like to be (and are a qualifying Washington resident) you have until July 28th to sign up in person at the Elections Office, which in Spokane would be at 1033 W. Gardner. Can't do it online, or by mail. Have to show up in person. Sort of the price you pay for putting it off too long.

The ballots must be marked, placed in the signed envelope and returned, either by depositing them in a drop box before 8 p.m. Aug. 5, or by mailing them back so they are postmarked no later than Aug. 5. Yes, if you mail your ballot you will have to put a stamp on the envelope. No, we will not listen to complaints about how this is unfair or as unconscionable as the poll tax. 

Your best bet for a drop box is probably the closest public library. For a list of drop box locations go inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Calm v. a screamer on CNBC

 

If you're tired of watching two people trying to shout over each other on cable news, this CNBC clip shows what happens when you don't fight fire with fire.

When you fight fire with water, and keep it up, water wins.

Inslee talking up WA in UK

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is returning from the Farnborough Air Show in Great Britain, but it would seem none of the British reserve rubbed off on him during his short stay there.

Asked during a telephonic press conference this morning how the air show was going Inslee offered this observation:

“It's hard being humble when you win the Super Bowl and have the best airplanes in the world.”

Asked what he was doing for fun, Inslee produced an all-business answer: “The pleasure was watching our airplanes fly.”

Clearly, the governor needs to get out more.

He also put in a plug for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, currently the subject of some debate within the House GOP majority. He said he doesn't see any need for big reforms, which Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers recently said are needed before she'd sign on to re-upping the Ex-Im, but he'd be open to some changes as long as the bank can keep helping the state's exporters.

The fight is along ideological lines, he said, but shouldn't be. “This is a meat and potatoes issue.”

Today’s fun video: A candidate, a shotgun and an elephant pinata

 

Firearms may be a great accessory for campaign ads, but apparently not if you are a Democrat running for Congress in Central Washington's 4th Congressional District.

Estakio Beltran, one of two Democrats and 12 candidates overall running for the open seat in the 4th, announced a TV spot last week, then abruptly pulled it.

The 30-second commercial has Beltran in an arid open space, blasting away at an elephant-shaped pinata with a pump action shotgun. He racks out an empty while saying the standard “… and I approve this message” tagline before riding off on a burro in a direction that a sign suggests Congress is thataway.

A little loud, but in a crowded race that has one of the Republican candidates offering a gun giveaway with an AR-15, not totally out of the box. It did draw criticism from gun control groups, and from Republicans who contended that Democrats would be incensed by one of their candidates blasting away at a donkey, the traditional symbol for Democrats.

The ad had a very short shelf life and was pulled after a few days, which seems like a lot of trouble to go through for such a short run.

Asked why, Beltran spokesman Grady O'Brien sent out a prepared statement, explaining: “The purpose of the video was to call attention to a do-nothing Congress in need of a kick in the butt. Now it’s time to move forward and focus on the issues that are important to the people of this district: jobs through innovation, education, and accountability in Washington, D.C.”

The official campaign version was pulled from Youtube, but nothing really dies on the Internet. The above version, which features the ad twice, is still available elsewhere.

Decide for yourself: Clever ad by a young campaign or out-of-bounds rookie mistake.

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About this blog

Jim Camden is a veteran political reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Jonathan Brunt is an enterprise reporter for The Spokesman-Review.


Kip Hill is a general assignments reporter for The Spokesman-Review.

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