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Spin Control

Gregoire gets Harvard fellowship

OLYMPIA — Former Gov. Chris Gregoire will be going to Harvard University in a program designed to inspire undergraduates to seek jobs in government and public service.

Gregoire will be one of six resident fellows at the John F. Kennedy School of Government for the fall semester. As part of that program, she will interact with students, developing and leading weekly study groups.

The fellows come from a range of government, political, campaign, media and business backgrounds. Gregoire served two terms as Washington governor, three terms as its attorney general and was also director of the Department of Ecology.

Sit-lie protest draws few

Only two people actually sat at today's protest against Spokane's sit-lie ordinance, though one was in a wheelchair. The only other two protesters stood outside downtown's Spokane Regional Business Center to talk about why they believed the law targets the homeless.

The law in question, which has been in place for less than a year, makes it illegal to sit or lie downtown most hours of the day. Sitting on fixtures or planters is also illegal. 

“I think it's unfair,” said Mara Spitzer, 54, who has been in a wheelchair for a few weeks due to a broken foot. “They just don't want a certain looking population downtown.”

Rick Bocook, 57, a downtown fixture himself known as “Harpman Hatter,” has dealt with the shifting laws downtown for years, not just as a homeless advocate, but also as a street musician.

“They say (the sit-lie ordinance) doesn't target the homeless, but it does,” Bocook said.

As the protesters mingled in the shade, two police officers on bicycles rode by on the sidewalk and gave them a word of advice.

“Try to stay hydrated, guys,” one cop said. 

Despite such niceties, Hans Crawford, 42, said he's seen the homeless mistreated by officers for violating the law. One particular incident, he said, involved three squad cars and a man in a wheelchair.

“They were just screaming at him,” Crawford said. “I guarantee you if he was wearing a three-piece suit, they wouldn't have bothered him.” 

The protests are scheduled to take place every week, but one of the organizers said they're not always attended by just four people.

“Sometimes there's just one or two of us,” said Rebennah Black, 39. “Sometimes there are 20.”

Chud Wendle joins McMorris Rodgers’ local staff

Spokane-native Chud Wendle has joined Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' local office as district director, the congresswoman announced this week.

“I was intrigued from day one, by the challenges and opportunities this job would present,” Wendle said.

A member of the Wendle family that owns several area car dealerships, Chud Wendle was named McMorris Rodgers' district director and will be working out of her office in downtown Spokane. Wendle has spent the past six years in Pullman, where he worked in real estate and ran a frozen yogurt and cupcake shop with his wife, Cindy.

Wendle said his job description includes being the “eyes and ears” for the congresswoman in the district. He will handle legislative matters, though he will be available to assist with McMorris Rodgers' re-election campaign. She faces challengers Joe Pakootas and Dave Wilson in the primary concluding next week.

The congresswoman approached Wendle to direct her district office, he said, about the time his wife took a new position in Spokane. They return to the Lilac City with their three sons: Ben, Nick and Jack. Wendle said his family is excited to return to Spokane, where he was born and raised.

In a statement announcing the hire, McMorris Rodgers praised Wendle's ties to the community and nonprofit work.

“Chud brings over a decade of experience and involvement in Eastern Washington, having worked with numerous local non-profit organizations, including Goodwill Industries and United Way of both Pullman and Spokane,” McMorris Rodgers said in the statement.

Wendle said he was pleased to be working for McMorris Rodgers.

“I’ve always respected the work that the congresswoman does,” he said

Nazi comments continue to provide ammo to I-594 debate

A suggestion by an NRA spokesman that Jews should oppose gun control because of what happened in Nazi Germany has added new ammunition to the debate over two competing measures on the November ballot.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and others on Tuesday called for the resignation of NRA state lobbyist Brian Judy, who said recently he couldn't understand why Jews would support gun control, a policy instituted by the Nazis.

Judy reportedly was telling a group of gun rights advocates he couldn’t understand the support for Initiative 594 by a major donor whose family he said was “run out of Germany by the Nazis”. . . 

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

Today’s fun video: Reason rebuts on minimum wage

 

Didn't take long for the anti-minimum wage folks to counter with a video of their own to Funny or Die's Mary Poppins parody.

Decide for yourself which you like better in terms of economic philosophy and artistic presentation.

Bringing Nazis into the WA gun debate

It's almost always a bad idea to make a reference to Nazis in any contemporary American political debate because it shifts the focus away from the issue at hand and onto the rightness or wrongness of the analogy.

That's what's happening for opponents of Initiative 594, which would expand background checks for most gun sales and transfers, after a comment by a National Rifle Association spokesman.

Steve Judy, an NRA lobbyist, was recorded offering his views of why some people push for more gun control, and why he believes they should know better. As first reported on Horsesass.org, a Seattle political blog, he started with the super rich, opining that they want to know where the guns are so that the poor can be disarmed before the rise up against them. He was rifting on a column in Politico, a national political website, by Nick Hanauer, who was actually talking about what was going to happen to the super-rich (himself included) if they don't do something to correct the growing gap between the rich and poor.

Hanauer was talking about the poor coming for the rich with pitchforks, but Judy said the reason the rich support gun control is so that the poor won't have guns. But then Judy veered into the fact that Hanauer's family emigrated from Germany to escape the Nazis, and said he was dumbfounded Hanauer would give money to gun control. . .

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

 

Today’s fun video: Mary Poppins wants a raise

 

Mary Poppins Quits with Kristen Bell from Funny Or Die

Funny or Die's video shows how Mary Poppins would come out in support of a  higher minimum wage.

Last call for voter registration

Today (July 28) is the last day to sign up to vote in the primary for eligible Washington residents who aren’t yet registered.

Who’s eligible? You’ll have to be 18 by Aug. 5, an American citizen, and not someone whose voting rights have been revoked for something like a felony conviction and not later restored.

You have to go to your county elections office to sign up in person. Can’t sign up a spouse, significant other or friend. For Spokane residents, that’s at 1033 W. Gardner between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Sunday Spin: What will primary turnout be?

OLYMPIA – With Washington’s primary a mere 10 days away, the big question – after who’ll survive and go to the general election, of course – is how many voters will bother to cast ballots.

It’s a common question around the country, as a recent study shows primary turnout is down in most states from 2010, the last mid-term primaries.

A recent report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate says turnout is down even in states that took steps to make it easier to vote by offering such things as election day registration or early voting. This must confound voting-reform advocates who believe the only thing needed to do to promote more frequent and fervent voting is to make it easier, as if voters are being deterred from casting a ballot because they must turn over their first-born child to register and walk two miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to the polling place on election day. . . 

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.

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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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