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Spin Control

Archive for June 2010

Murray v. Rossi on Petraeus

As expected, the Senate confirmed Gen. David Petraeus as the commander in Afghanistan.

Also as expected, Petraeus became a bone of contention in Washington state’s U.S. Senate campaign, although not from the candidates themselves.

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray voted for Petraeus (as did everyone else in the Senate. “It is incredibly important that our troops on the ground have a qualified, experienced commander like Gen. Petraeus.”

Republican senatorial candidate Dino Rossi also said nice things about the general: “The U.S. Senate’s vote to confirm him today demonstrates they have the same confidence I do in Gen. Petraeus’s ability to lead a successful counterinsurgency campaign.”

Mark this day on the calendar, folks. Murray and Rossi are pretty much in agreement on a topical issue.

Rossi didn’t mention Murray, but the state Republican Party lapsed into a “voted against before voting for” refrain. They called her vote a “direct contradiction” to a vote three years ago against condemning a smear campaign against Petraeus by

That’s a reference to an ad the liberal group ran probably best known by it’s headline “General Petraeus or General Betray-us” questioning his statements on the progress of the Iraq war when Congress was voting on the surge in that country.

The state GOP claims Murray was “AWOL” when Petraeus needed support. But it careful reading of the record shows that’s not really accurate…

Shameless plug: Vestal weighs in on Idaho GOP

In case you missed it, elsewhere on The Spokesman-Review Web site is a good hard look by Shawn Vestal at the new Idaho Republican state platform approved by the state convention last week.

“Idaho just turned purple…” Vestal opines. It’s a look at what’s conservative and what’s CONSERVATIVE.

For those readers who keep up with the politics in both states, it’s worth a read.

Dorn apologizes (sort of) for Cliff Lee comparison

OLYMPIA — State Schools Superintendent Randy Dorn is sorry he compared his salary to Mariners’ pitcher Cliff Lee’s salary last week.

Which isn’t too surprising, considering he’s been taking flak for it for the last week on talk radio and elsewhere. It probably doesn’t help that Lee is proving to be well worth his salary these days, what with last night’s third consecutive complete game victory. If Dorn put up numbers like that for school test scores or graduation rates, he might be able to get a raise, too.

The background: Last week at a House Ways and Means Committee hearing, Dorn was telling legislators it was time for the nation to rethink priorities and put more resources on education.

“I don’t want to tell you how many pitches my salary would pay for, for Cliff Lee from the Mariners. It would be embarassing. Somebody who’s responsible for a 1,050,000 kids. It would only add up to a few pitches,” Dorn said. “We have our priorities out of whack.”

“It should be embarassing to our state, and the citizenry of the United States, that we’re only willing to spend, basically, a half a game, to be responsible for 1,050,000 students.”

Gov. Chris Gregoire was asked this morning what she thought of Dorn’s comments, and she declined to get involved in comparing  the SPIs and ERAs. But she didn’t support giving out raises, either.

“Every family that I know of in Washington state is struggling,” she said. “Nobody that I know of in public or private sectors is expecting pay raises now.”

Today, Dorn issued a statement about his previous statement, insisting that he was merely trying to make the point that we need to spend more on education by comparing it with what’s spent on professional sports.

“Unfortunately I made the mistake of using my salary as the point of comparison.  It was a poor analogy and I regret using it,” he said. “But I don’t regret pointing out the absurdity of our current lack of commitment to education funding.  I strongly believe we need to reset government and actually dedicate ourselves to fully funding a basic education for every child in this state.  Our future as a society depends on it.”

So here’s the problem with the logic in today’s statement…

Gregoire, other govs repeat call for Medicaid money

OLYMPIA — Chris Gregoire and other governors from around the country are in Washington, D.C., asking, cajoling, lobbying, pleading (pick one) with Congress to approve more money for Medicaid payments.

They held a joint press conference about 11 a.m. PDT, reiterating what they’ve already repeated, that the promised federal medical assistance percentages, or FMAP, need to be raised to the levels they were told to expect early this year. Without it, their budgets look even worse than they do right now.

In the case of Washington, the $480 million for FMAP equals about 6,400 state jobs, although Gregoire was careful not to threaten to axe that many workers at a date certain if Congress doesn’t come through.

The prospect of Congress approving that money in the near future took a turn for the worse Tuesday night, when Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., announced a new version of a bill with some money to help those hit hard by the economy. It would extend unemployment insurance to workers who are losing that, and would extend a tax credit for home buyers. But it has no money for FMAP.

Gregoire said the unemployment benefits extension is more pressing, because people are being dropped from thr rolls right now: “That’s one piece of the puzzle. We’re here to get the other piece.”

There is another proposal in the Senate, from Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass., that would provide the extra FMAP money.

Gregoire said she believes time is running out on waiting for Congress to approve the money.

“Once they go on their August recess (around Aug. 9) I don’t have any realistic expectation they’re going to come back and do anything with the fall elections,” she said.

If there’s no decision by then, Gregoire said she’ll call a special session to revise the state budget, but only if legislators can agree to meet for a day to handle the problem. “I am not going to call a Legislature in that’s going to sit there and do nothing for 30 days.”

Without such an agreement, she’ll order across the board cuts. State agencies would need cuts of about 7.5 percent to come up with the full $480 million. She couldn’t estimate how many layoffs that would mean, but said there aren’t many options for cutting programs so without a special session, the bulk of the reductions would have to come through employee reductions.

Candidate says he’s back in the running

A day after announcing an end to his campaign, David Elton says he’s back in the running for Spokane County Commission.

On Monday, Elton wrote a news release announcing his departure from the race. Today, he told a Spokesman-Review reporter that he’ll still be a candidate because it’s too late to get a refund on his $930 filing fee.

“I will be running,” he said. “But I will not be running a full-fledged campaign.”

Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said Elton’s check that he submitted earlier this month when he filed to run for the seat bounced. Even so, McLaughlin said it’s past the deadline for him to withdraw.

Verner will sign ombudsman ordinance

UPDATE: City Spokeswoman Marlene Feist said this afternoon that Verner will sign the ordinance.


Spokane Mayor Mary Verner said Tuesday that she supports the “overall intent” of the police oversight ordinance approved by City Council and “likely” will sign it.

She added, however, that she still has to read the final version before making a final decision.

Verner made the comments at the end of Monday’s council meeting, which ended Tuesday morning.

Supporters of children’s fund tax closer to earning spot on ballot

Advocates of a property tax that would raise money for early-child learning, abuse prevention, treatment and other programs have submitted more than 12,600 signatures in support of placing the levy on the November ballot.

Supporters of the initiative, which is called the Spokane Children’s Investment Fund Levy for Families and Youth, collected 771 sheets of signatures that they turned in to the city clerk’s office on Thursday.

The issue needs 8,334 valid signatures to earn a public vote.

The Spokane City Council will vote on July 12 if it will place the idea on the ballot, ask the county election’s office to validate signatures first or declare it illegal.

The council usually orders a review by the election’s office when asked to consider an initiative.

The tax, which would raise $5 million annually, would cost the owner of a $100,000 property $35 a year.

Candidate drops bid for county commission

David Elton, a civic gadfly and former radio show host, announced Monday that he is dropping his bid for Spokane County Commission.

Elton had filed to run as a Republican for the seat held by Democrat Bonnie Mager. Elton faces harassment charges related to e-mails he sent that allegedly threatened City Council President Joe Shogan and Cowles Co. Chairwoman Betsy Cowles. The Cowles Co. owns The Spokesman-Review.

Elton recently was ordered by a Spokane County Superior Court judge to undergo mental evaluations to decide if he’s competent to stand trial.

“Mr. Elton believes that he cannot get fair and accurate media coverage from the local journalists,” said a news release from Elton that announced his departure from the race.

Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said it’s too late for Elton to pull his name from the August primary ballot. Mager and Republicans Jeff Holy, Al French and Steve Salvatori remain in the race for County Commission.

Verner’s sustainability plan ‘adopted’ and ‘accepted’

The Spokane City Council just after midnight adopted a plan aimed at cutting carbon emissions and reducing the city’s dependence on oil.

The 5-2 decision was the second time the council voted on a report finished last year by Mayor Mary Verner’s 13-member Sustainability Task Force. Council members Nancy McLaughlin and Bob Apple voted against the plan.

When the council took its first action on the plan, in May 2009, there were only enough votes on the council to “accept” the report. Since then, two City Council members have been replaced.

“I’m honored to have another opportunity to adopt” the report,” City Councilman Steve Corker late Monday night.

City officials say that new state rules require that the city have an “adopted” plan to reduce emissions to qualify for some state grants.

The report recommends several steps the city should take to cut its dependence on oil and reduce the city’s negative effect on climate change. Ideas include promoting energy-efficient construction and transportation. It also sets a goal for the city to acquire 100 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2030.

Drop that bag. Move away from the bread.

The City of Spokane is asking — actually, it’s sort of pleading, sort of demanding — that people stop feeding the ducks at Manito Pond.

City Parks and Recreation has put up signs to that effect. It has issued press releases and public announcements that feeding bread to the ducks is bad for the water fowl, and fouls the water.

People feeding ducks leads to an increase of ducks on the pond, which quickly becomes more than the pond can support, and some very nasty water. And the ducks don’t get much nutrition out of the bread, so they wind up fat and malnourished.

It seemed to be working for a while, but now, two years into the “Don’t Feed the Ducks” effort, City Parks is seeing an increase in duck feeding, and an increase in bread in the pond. (That seems to suggest that people are bringing bags of bread to the pond, reading the signs and tossing the bread in the water. “Honest officer, I wasn’t feeding the ducks. I was feeding the POND. Not my fault the ducks ate some of the bread before it sank.”)

So, to review. Don’t feed the ducks. Don’t take bread to the pond to feed the ducks.

But if you forget, and you bring the bread and read the sign and say “D’oh!” Don’t just toss the bread in the water, toss it in the trash cans conveniently located in the park. Or, better yet, take it home and toss it in your trash can.

Any questions?

Let’s get real and just sell space on the ballot

Washington voters are on track to have at least nine statewide measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, which would be a state record. While some applaud this as a triumph of direct democracy, it is, more accurately, a triumph of electoral capitalism.
Along with three referenda placed on the ballot by the Legislature, the six initiatives seemingly destined for the ballot are beneficiaries of substantial corporate sponsorship, which provided money to pay people who gather signatures on their petitions.
Relying on volunteers to gather signatures has become so 20th Century, although a seventh initiative, to legalize marijuana, might succeed if its supporters can stay motivated through July 2. Meanwhile the paid campaigns are booking dates to turn in petitions with a hundred thousand or more extra signatures.
Early contributions to some successful petition drives are so substantial it only makes sense to dispense with the alpha-numeric designations to initiatives and award naming rights…

Rossi puts up new Web site

About a month after officially getting into the race, Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi unveiled a new campaign Web site Friday. One that has more than the video of him announcing his campaign and a chance to sign up for Twitter, Facebook or campaign contributions.

It’s a much more standard Web site with a biography, issues, copies of press releases and a blog. We can expect Democrats to chime in with “About freaking time” at almost any moment.

Tucker, Bugbee get dual endorsement

Republican voters looking for a little help on the Spokane County prosecutor primary are going to have to do a bit more than just scan the endorsements the candidates list.

After a forum last Monday, the Republicans of Spokane County decided to make a dual endorsement of incumbent Steve Tucker and challenger Chris Bugbee.

This may be particularly UN-helpful because the Spokane County Republican Party has endorsed challenger Dave Stevens.

Confused? It’s necessary to remember that the Republicans of Spokane County is separate from the county Republican Party. The former is an organization of like-minded GOP types, while the latter is the official party structure.

While it is a bit unusual for the official party to endorse someone other than a party member who is the incumbent office holder, as the county GOP did in this race, Stevens is the party’s vice chair.

Poll: Murray, Rossi still tied

Patty Murray and Dino Rossi are tied in the latest Rasmussen Reports poll, each with 47 percent of the people responding to automated calls on June 22.

A month ago, Rasmussen had the race at 48 percent Murray, 47 percent Rossi — which means there’s been no change in the race. Why? Because the survey of 500 people has a margin of error of 4.9 percent, so a 1 percent shift is meaningless. In fact, Rasmussen has essentially had the two candidates in the same ballpark for months: Murray has ranged from 46 percent to 48 percent, and Rossi from 49 percent to 46 percent.

When asked about a potential November matchup between the other two leading GOP candidates, Murray does slightly better. She leads Clint Didier 48 percent to 40 percent, and leads Paul Akers 48 percent to 38 percent.

One caveat about the poll: Each matchup contains a few percentage points for “some other candidate” which is apparently part of the automated script that’s read before the person is asked to press a button to show support for a candidate. In the general election in Washington, there is no “other candidate.” It’s just the two top voter getters from the Aug. 17 primary, and a space for a write in.

The poll also suggests Washington voters are about evenly split between supporting and opposing repeal of national Health Care Reform, about one in five considers  him or herself a member of the Tea Party movement, and three out of five think U.S. troops should be sent to the Mexican border to prevent illegal immigration. (Apparently they didn’t ask about sending troops to the Canadian border…)

To read more about the poll, click here to go to the Rasmussen site.

Tree advocate nominated for Spokane Park Board

An advocate for improving the city’s urban forest has been nominated by Mayor Mary Verner to serve on the Spokane Park Board.

Susan M. Ross Traver, a board member of Spokane Preservation Advocates, was selected from a dozen people considered for the job, said Marlene Feist, city spokeswoman.

The Park Board interviewed four of the applicants and selected two finalists, including Ross Traver, for Verner to consider, Park Board President Ross Kelley said.

Ross Traver is the secretary for a citizens advisory group that advises the Urban Forestry Committee, which is made up of Park Board members.

The Spokane Park Board has the final say on park spending and policy. The City Charter also gives the board authority over trees along roads and on other public property, but some park officials have complained that they don’t have the money to do an adequate job maintaining street trees.

“I can bring a different voice concerning that issue,” Ross Traver said in a phone interview. She added: “It’s not the only thing I’m interested in.”

Income tax may be ballot-bound

OLYMPIA — Supporters of an initiative to put an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 may have the signatures to make the Nov. 2 ballot.

The Initiative 1098 folks have informed the Secretary of State’s office they’ll be bringing in an estimated 325,000 signatures on July 1, the day before the deadline for turning in petitions.

I-1098 is the latest attempt to put an income tax in Washington state. It calls for a tax on a person making more than $200,000 per year or a couple earning more than $400,000. In exchange, it lowers some of the existing state taxes, such as the sales tax.

An initiative proposal needs about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to make the ballot, and elections officials suggest having at least 300,000 to get the cushion needed for rejected signatures.

Income tax proposals on the ballot have generally failed, the exception being the first such proposal during the Great Depression, which was overturned by the state Supreme Court. There’s a debate among lawyers whether an  income tax by initiative is even possible without a change in the state constitution, but that’s a discussion for Nov. 3, if the initiative passes.

Gregoire: We gotta budget differently

Gov. Chris Gregoire answers a question during a press conference Thursday. Staff photo by Jim Camden

OLYMPIA — Facing a shortfall of $3 billion in the next biennium, the state has to come up with a new way of writing budgets, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

She announced a plan to develop a new system that includes public hearings, a 32-member panel of advisers, and the prospect of privatizing major state services like the ferry system.

Gregoire insisted that no state agency will get a free pass in the new system, that will build on the old system known as “priorities of government” by asking eight questions, starting with “Is the activity an essential service?”

If it is, the next question would be whether the state has to perform the service, or can it be provided by someone else.

Various state officials have asked such questions for years, but with varying results. In the last  legislative session, for example…

U.S. Supremes: Releasing initiative names not barred by First Amendment

OLYMPIA — Round One in the fight over names on initiative petitions goes to the state.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled this morning in Doe v. Reed that the First Amendment is not a barrier to the state releasing the names of people who sign initiatives or referendums. The state’s concerns about honesty and transparency in the election process in general trump federal privacy concerns, in general.

We say in general because this was the broad challenge of the signature release by attorneys for Referendum 71 and Protect Washington Marriage, who wanted to overturn new rules involving same sex unions and others that are short of marriage but more liberal than before the law changed in 2009. Ruling 8-1, the Supremes said that they weren’t going to give a blanket ban on releasing names, which the R-71 sponsors said was warranted under the First Amendment.

But a case-specific ban would be possible, the high court said. The case now goes back to the U.S. District Court of Western Washington for Round Two, where R-71 proponents will get a chance to make the case that releasing the names on these particular petitions would subject some signers to harassment.

Beyond that, there will be a Round Three in the Washington State Courts, where initiative sponsors are arguing that stricter Washington State Constitution rights of privacy would bar the release of names.

Seems possible this won’t be settled for several years. Which brings up the question of how many of those names and addresses won’t be any good, anyway, from people passing on or moving on.

The big wallets in the initiative campaigns

OLYMPIA — The first ballot initiative turned in its petitions today, which may be the first of about a half dozen that will be rolling in to the Secretary of State’s office between now and July 2.

Initiative 1100 collected about 390,000 signatures in 27 days, which is pretty remarkable by historic standards. Not a record, to be sure, but remarkable, considering the averaged more than 14,400 per day or 600 per hour or 10 per minute (and that’s only if they were gathering round the clock, and obviously they weren’t because Costco, a key location for their collection, has to close some time.)

Other campaigns may have similar numbers, proving that sponsors will be able to wait until late into the spring before starting a petition drive if…

…if they have enough money to pay people to gather signatures. Some people will argue that’s not what the Progressives intended when they added the initiative to the state Constitution, but that’s an argument for another day.

The point is, money is flowing into the initiative campaigns, mainly from corporations, industry association and unions who stand to gain or lose if voters pass these initiatives. Already there is one seven-figure donor and 10 six figure donors to the initiative campaigns.

For a list of the top donors, go inside the blog

Let the counting begin

Staff from the Secretary of State’s elections office begins counting petitions for Initiative 1100 brought in Wednesay afternoon. (see post below) Staff photo by Jim Camden

I-1100 turns in petitions to change liquor rules

Glenn Avery of Modernize Washington wheels boxes of signed petitions into the Secretary of State’s office. Staff photo by Jim Camden

OLYMPIA — Supporters of Initiative 1100 turned in what they estimate are 390,000 signatures on their petitions for a ballot measure to privatize liquor sales. It’s a number that all but guarantees them a spot on the Nov. 2 ballot.

“I think it would be amazing if we didn’t” make the ballot, said Glenn Avery, treasurer of the Modernize Washington campaign after wheeling in a hand cart stacked with boxes of signed petitions. 

Staff from the Secretary of State’s office began sorting the petitions for an official count of signatures.

About 40 percent of the signatures were gathered at Costco, Avery said. The rest were collected in stores and by paid signature gatherers.

Costco has provided $842,000, the vast majority of cash and in-kind contributions for the initiative, which has more support from retailers. Another initiative which would also privatize liquor sales, I-1105, has support from distributors and has a total of $864,000 from two distribution and wholesaling companies.

The manager of the I-1105 campaign said Tuesday it will also turn in signatures before the July 2 deadline, raising the prospect of two different ballot measures with key differences before voters this fall. Avery said that will likely result in some confusion for voters, but he expects to draw clear distinctions between the two during the campaign if both make the ballot.


Today’s fun video: Huckabee on Palin and pot

Former Arkansas governor turned presidential candidate turned Fox News contributor Mike Huckabee talks about former Alaska governor turned vice presidential nominee turned Fox News contributor Sarah Palin and pot.

He makes a joke, it falls flat. Huchabee should definitely not quit his day job to do stand-up.

But he does make one very good prediction at the end.

Apple’s campaign for state House may have violated campaign rules

Two years after paying a hefty fine for breaking campaign law, City Councilman Bob Apple appears to have violated another campaign rule.

As of Tuesday, Apple, who is running for a state House seat representing the 3rd Legislative District, listed on his campaign website his City Council e-mail address as a way to contact him.

Reached on Tuesday, Apple agreed that the address shouldn’t appear on campaign material.

“It it was on there, it shouldn’t be,” he said. “I’l have that stripped out.”

Lori Anderson, a spokesman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said using a city e-mail address violates rules that prohibit the use of public resources in campaigns.

“If (voters) want to contact him, they should do it through some other means other than his city e-mail address,” Anderson said. “The city e-mail address is paid for with city tax dollars and it’s to conduct city business.”

She added, however, that the mistake is minor and likely would not result in fines.

In 2007, Apple’s election opponent complained to the PDC about Apple using a City Hall phone number and e-mail address in a campaign ad.

Apple later faced more serious accusations from the PDC regardng his 2007 campaign.

One liquor initiative has signatures; second expects to

OLYMPIA – Washington state’s 77-year control of liquor sales may be in doubt.
Sponsors of one ballot measure to turn the sale of all liquor over to private stores, Initiative 1100, say they will turn in nearly 350,000 signatures today cqWEDS, a number that practically guarantees the proposal will be on the Nov. 2 ballot.
The campaign manager for a separate measure to privatize liquor sales, Initiative 1105, says it too expects to have more than enough signatures to turn in by July 2, raising the prospect of two competing plans for voters to sort out this fall.
Getting the state out of the liquor business has been a familiar refrain in the Legislature for decades…

To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog.

Shogan says council will delay ombudsman vote

It’s past midnight here at the Spokane City Council. City Council President Joe Shogan recently announced that there will not be a vote tonight (or more accurately, this morning) about providing ombudsman the power to conduct independent investigation. But testimony is continuing. So far, a couple dozen people have talked, all in support of independent oversight.

The city hired its first ombudsman last summer, but rules haven’t allowed him to investigate allegations into police misconduct. Instead, he shadows police internal investigations and decides if the police have been thorough and fair.

In an interview last week, Ombudsman Tim Burns said he believes his office should have investigative authority. In a brief interview before the meeting, Mayor Mary Verner said she would wait to see the final version approved by the council before deciding if she would support giving the ombudsman investigative power. Verner said she hasn’t talked to Burns about his current opinion on the topic.

“I don’t know how much that (Burns’ opinion about the need for independent investigatory authority) reflects a need for a change in the ordinance,” Verner said.

The Spokane Police Guild, in an interview with Spokane Public Radio, has threatened to challenge any ordinance that expands the ombudsman’s authority. The most recent proposal under consideration would give Burns the power to begin interviewing witnesses as soon as a complaint is received. Burns would not have the power to interview guild members. (Related: Previous proposal, held over from the May 24 City Council meeting.)

Spokane buys warehouse for police evidence

Mayor Mary Verner won unanimous support Monday for her plan to buy a police evidence warehouse and an office building by borrowing from the city’s main investment fund. The council approved the purchases of the Gardner Building, 1427 W. Gardner, for $1.8 million and the Great Floor warehouse, 4010 E. Alki Ave., for $2.8 million.

Last year, voters rejected a bond proposal that would have included $11.5 million to build a new evidence building. Under the new plan, the city will spend $2.8 million to buy the warehouse and $600,000 to upgrade it. Verner said Monday that she’s hopeful the new evidence building will be functional by the end of the summer.

Under the plan, the city will repay its investment fund with savings from vacating leased space, including offices at the Monroe Court, a building owned by Dr. Marcus DeWood. DeWood has lobbied against the plan and criticized the city’s financial analysis of the deal. Verner asked another well-known Spokane developer, Mark Pinch, to speak about the plan. Pinch told the City Council that the proposal was sound.

Goldmark takes fight with McKenna to Supremes

OLYMPIA – The fight between the state’s top land manager and its top attorney is headed to its top court.

Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark said Monday he will ask the state Supreme Court for a writ of mandamus, essentially ordering Attorney General Rob McKenna to appeal an eminent domain ruling by the Okanogan County Superior Court.

Andy Brown: Helping the other survivors of the Mellberg rampage

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Spin Control note: Today’s newspaper column has items recast from last week. For regular Web readers, however, here’s a profile that’s a hopeful update for the 16th anniversary of one Spokane’s biggest tragedies.

A psychotic gunman made Andy Brown into a hero 16 years agocq june 20.
He became a legend, the guy who made “the shot” that stopped Dean Mellberg’s murderous rampage through the Fairchild Air Force Base hospital complex on June 20, 1994. Brown He got a medal and a move to Hawaii.
But the mantle of hero never sat comfortably on Brown, who was a 24-year-old Air Force security policeman on bike patrol that day. It gnawed at him that Mellberg was able to kill and maim people on his watch. Months later, Brown found himself struggling with so much anxiety that his hands would shake when making a routine traffic stop.
He knew he needed help, but discovered a Catch-22 that military police officers face: He could have counseling for post-traumatic stress symptoms only if he turned in his badge and gun.
“I stopped seeking counseling. I pretty much stuffed down any feelings I was starting to have.”
They didn’t stay stuffed down and eventually Brown, who’d hoped to have a career in military law enforcement, left the Air Force with a medical disability. Now he’s trying to help other law enforcement officers avoid the same fate, keep connected with some of the other survivors and understand what caused Mellberg to snap.
He’s started a website and is working on a book…
For the rest of the story, go inside the blog

Shea went with Didier to meet Palin

Look closely at last week’s pictures of Clint Didier meeting Sarah Palin in the Tri-Cities, and Spokane residents might recognize another familiar face.

State Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley.

Shea accompanied Didier on the quick trip from the state GOP convention in Vancouver to the Tri-Cities when the U.S. Senate candidate had a meeting the former Alaska governor and vice presidential nominee.

Shea said this week he got a chance to meet Palin and mention a few state issues, but mostly Didier talked to her about federal issues. “She’s a terrific lady…very gracious.”

After the meeting, Palin said she was firmly behind Didier in part because he “didn’t wait to see what the lineup looked like” a not-so-veiled diss of GOP rival Dino Rossi.

So is Palin going to endorse Shea, too? It’d be a fairly safe endorsement, considering he’s running unopposed for a second term in the Valley’s 4th Legislative District.

Not likely, Shea said. “She’s focused more at the federal level.” And he was there for Didier, so it really didn’t come up.

Shea’s a big Didier supporter. Since he’ll have some time on his hands this campaign season, he’ll be travelling around the state campaigning for other candidates. There’s no plans at this point, however, for him to campaign with Didier, he added.

Monday showdown for GOP prosecutors

Republican candidates for Spokane County prosecutor go head to head to head Monday evening in a forum in the Valley.

The prosecutor’s race has been a contentious contest so far, which is probably why the Republicans of Spokane County picked a moderator who could enforce order …with a gun if need be.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich will moderate the discussion between incument prosecutor Steve Tucker, former deputy prosecutor Dave Stevens and attorney Chris Bugbee. It starts at 6:30 p.m. at Quality Inn Suites at I-90 and Argonne

Rumor Squelching Dept: Obama ain’t coming

It was such a nice rumor while it lasted: President Barack Obama, on his way back from campaigning in Seattle for Patty Murray, would stop in Spokane on Sunday to pay tribute to the founder of Father’s Day on the centennial celebration of the holiday, and highlight the importance of dads.

Alas, none of it is true. First, Obama is not campaigning with Murray this weekend in Seattle, or anywhere else, said a campaign spokeswoman who noted that she’d have been told by now if that was the case.

He’s not doing anything anywhere in the state, as far as the state Democratic Committee knows, a party spokeswoman said.

So Spokane isn’t on the way to or from anything this weekend for the prez.

Helping to fuel the rumor, apparently, is some practice that local law enforcement types are doing on staging motorcades. Whatever they’re practicing for, it ain’t a Sunday drop-in from Obama. Maybe he’s highlighting the importance of dads by spending Father’s Day with Sasha and Malia.

How McKenzie made the ballot for assessor

Gina McKenzie, an independent candidate for assessor, has a whole campaign season to prove to voters she can do the job of running the office that figures out what property is worth.

But she’s already proved adept at getting voters to sign a petition to get her on the ballot.

McKenzie was a late addition to the assessor’s race — so late, in fact, that she didn’t show up in the 5:30 p.m. Friday check of candidates the newspaper made to compile its list for Saturday morning’s paper. We figured we just missed a name on the list, but County Auditor Vicky Dalton explained it was because McKenzie’s petition of candidacy was still being processed at that point.

McKenzie, it turns out, filed for office as an indigent, which means she submitted signatures rather than a filing fee….

Palin endorses McMorris Rodgers

Sarah Palin endorsed Cathy McMorris Rodgers’ re-election today, listing the Eastern Washington Republican as one of her “Mama Grizzlies.”

The label is meant as a compliment. Seriously.

It’s not a huge surprise, considering McMorris Rodgers was a big supporter of Palin’s when the Alaska governor was named to John McCain’s presidential ticket. They’re both fiscal and social conservatives. And they both have children with Down Syndrome.

And there’s not much danger of having this endorsement blow up in Palin’s face. Although she faces a primary challenge from the right from Constitutional Party candidate Randall Yearout, McMorris Rodgers faces no serious pressure from Tea Party folks in Eastern Washington.

It’s not likely to help sort out the field of four relatively unknown and likely underfunded Democrats: Daryl Romeyn, Barbara Lampert, David Fox and Clyde Cordero.

Full text of the endorsement from Palin, via the Conservatives for Palin website, can be found inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Sixth Sense

America’s Voice, a group that wants immigration law reform, but not the kind in Arizona, is making fun of Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, for suggesting it’s easy for cops to use their “sixth sense” to spot illegal immigrants.

Naturally, they mix it with clues from the movie “Sixth Sense” (but you knew that was going to happen, right? The only real question was what would “I see dead people” be changed to.)

It should also be noted that the things King is suggesting should tip off cops are all part of the five regular senses.

County assessor race loses conspiracy theorist

The race for county assessor has become less crowded, and perhaps, less interesting.

A real estate agent working for the city of Spokane and apocalyptic author who announced he would run for county assessor dropped out of the race earlier this month and never filed.

Terry L. Cook has written several books, including one that says President Obama “is an America-hating Muslim/Communist who’s actually a puppet-leader of the Council On Foreign Relations’ international New-World-Order globalists,” according to a Web site that sells his books.

Economy improving, state budget in black from tax hikes

OLYMPIA — Although the economic recovery “lost steam” in May, the state’s economic outlook is slowly improving and the state’s budget no longer awash in red ink.

What’s keeping it in the black, however, are hundreds of millions in new taxes the state expects to collect through mid 2013, and an as-yet unfulfilled promise of $480 million in federal money.

Arun Raha, the state’s chief economist, said this morning the state’s job growth was “disappointing” in May, after several good months of increases when manufacturing and software jobs improved. In May, most of the job growth was from temporary employment for people helping with the U.S. Census.

Some employers are holding off on new hires…

Comings and goings

Forbes magazine has an interactive map of where people are moving from, and to, around the country. It’s not particularly surprising, but it’s fun to play with.

Revenue day, Dad’s Year: Wassup June 17

Washington State’s economics experts will tell folks how well or how poorly they expect the state to do as far as collecting revenue in the coming months and years at 10 a.m.

It’s the Revenue Forecast, which is made roughly quarterly, and lets state officials know whether they need to make any corrections in the budget. The state is already holding its breath to find out whether it will get some $480 million from the federal government in extra Medicare/Medicaid payments, and any drop in tax revenues will be a secondary jolt.

Speaking of that extra fed money, which is known as FMAP for federal medical assistance percentage, the U.S. Senate is supposed to try yet again to get 60 votes to move a bill with that in it sometime today. An attempt earlier this week failed.

Also in Congress, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell have a resolution giving Spokane a congressional high five for being the home of Father’s Day, 100 years ago. In honor of the centennial, the resolution establishes 2010 as Father’s Year. Even though by June 17 it’s actually more of a half year, please resist the urge to go out and buy a tie a day through Dec. 31

For full text of the resolution, go inside the blog:

Gregoire heading north to look at big hole

OLYMPIA — The back and forth over plans to dig a humongously expensive tunnel for part of the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project is prompting Gov. Chris Gregoire to make a little day trip Thursday to Canada.

Gregoire’s office announced this afternoon she’ll be heading a delegation of state and Seattle area officials for a quick trip to Vancouver, British Columbia, to take a look at the deep bore tunnel for the Translink Canada Line from the city to the airport.

“The Washington delegation is seeking to learn firsthand about the multi-billion dollar transportation mega-project and what lessons can be learned as the state moves forward with the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement project,” the goveonor’s staff said. Thinks like how to complete a project ahead of schedule and on budget.

The governor is taking Amtrak from Seattle to Vancouver. Absent from the travelling list is Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn, who has been the most critical of the big dig project. Maybe he’ll just look at everyone’s vacation photos when they get back?

Didier meets with R. Paul; Dems take note

Republican U.S. Senate candidate Clint Didier probably has the most avid readership of his Twitter postings in an unlikely quarter.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. Although the DSCC is not always the most careful reader, it seems

Rarely has Didier tweeted in recent days about his trip to Washington, D.C., without the DSCC taking note, and sending copies to its long list of media outlets. This afternoon, Didier tweeted, and the DSCC repeated:

“Just met with Ron Paul. What an inspirational leader! Makes me want to fight harder for Liberty! Pics to come.”

When the DSCC sent out its e-mail, however, the described it as a meeting with Rand Paul.

Note to the Democrats: Ron Paul is the congressman from Texas who ran for president in 2008 in the Republican primaries. Rand Paul is his son, running for Senate this year in Kentucky, who recently won the Republican primary. They do look a little bit alike, but Ron is, not surprisingly, considerably older. And is more likely to be in Washington, D.C. these days.

McKenna on dating services: Get it in writing

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna offered some advice to people who sign up for dating services: Get the terms and the promises in writing.

The state recently settled with a King County dating service, Great Expectations, for new restrictions on how the company can market its services. Some unsatisfied customers got partial refunds. Seems the company was overstating the number of members to choose from and not disclosing all costs. (Such a surprise!)

“Anyone willing to pay for assistance in finding a soul mate deserves to know exactly what they’re signing up for,” McKenna said.

Which is not as harsh as it could have been, like “anyone willing to pay someone to find them the love of their lives should just light their money on fire.”

So read the contract before signing and make sure everything you’ve been promised is in there. “It’s much easier to enforce a written contract than an oral promise,” he said.

Who’s cozier with BP? Wassup June 16

The Senate campaign between Patty Murray and Dino Rossi appears Wednesday to be a contest over who can paint the other as cozying up to the worst villain in the universe.

That would be BP.

Rossi described the latest energy bill, which includes a cap-and-trade proposal, as a “BP-Backed national energy tax” and demanded that Murray denounce it. That’s in line with the Senate Republican communications release this week that refered to BP’s support of cap-and-trade when it was drafted a few months ago.

State Democrats dissed Rossi for not jumping on board a Murray plan to force BP to put $20 billion into an escrow account to cleanup the Deepwater Horizon spill. Rossi reportedly told the Vancouver Columbian he thought a few questions should be answered first, such as who should administer the fund and whether BP would pay the money in voluntarily or be forced into it.

Next up: A contest between who’s more wishy washy, the candidate who wants BP executives sent to the guillotine and who wants them drawn and quartered.

Republican Senate Clint Didier, meanwhile, continues to tweet from Washington, D.C., about all the fun he’s having meeting Republican bigwigs and raising money for the race.

A quiet day in Olympia, but it seems like a busy one in Washington, D.C. Murray plans to question Defense Secretary Robert Gates about letting Airbus bid on the new tanker in light of their smackdown by the World Trade Organization. (Interesting typo in the Murray press release refers to the plane as the “serial refueling tanker”, which could actually work for missions that involve refueling squadrons of fighters.)

Also in D.C., Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a busy day releasing reports. First she has a GAO report on federal funding that goes to groups that provide abortions, then a study on the impacts of multiple deployments on military families.

Panel: Delay new tanker; McMorris Rodgers: Say what?

A congressional panel studying ways to save billions in the Defense budget came up with one that’s sure to be unpopular in Washington state: Delaying a new air refueling tanker to replace the aging KC-135s, like the ones flown out at Fairchild Air Force Base.

Bad idea, says Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. The Eastern Washington Republican said in a press release that replacing the KC-135 has already dragged on too long.

The Sustainable Defense Task Force, set up by Congress and chaired by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., issued a report last week with a long list of things to cut Pentagon costs. The ones that got the most attention were thinks like reducing the nuclear stockpile, cancelling some pricey new weapons systems or buying considerably fewer fancy fighter planes.

But tucked inside the report’s section on cancelling or delaying various programs was this suggestion on the new tanker:

Delay procurement of the KC-X Aerial Refueling
Tanker for five years;
In the interim, retain and
upgrade some existing tankers. Save $9.9 billion from
The KC-X is supposed to replace roughly one-third of
the current KC-135 tanker fleet. The first five tankers
were to have been purchased in 2010, with production
increasing to 15 aircraft per year in 2014. The program
remains on hold, however, due to an ongoing contracting
An alternative option, described in 2009 by the Congressional
Budget Office, would delay procurement
of the KC-X Aerial Refueling Tanker by five full years
and, instead, retain and upgrade 60 KC-135Es during
that period.42 CBO notes that, despite their age, the
“KC-135s still have significant structural life remaining.”
The retained aircraft would be upgraded to the KC-135R
standard, which CBO argues is better performing and
more reliable.
A five-year delay would also allow the program to
focus on the new design 787 or A-350XWB commercial
aircraft, rather than the old design Boeing 767 and the
Airbus A-330, as is currently likely. The new design aircraft
are likely to have lower operating costs. In addition,
DoD might benefit from larger production runs as these
new aircraft draw other government and commercial

McMorris Rodgers responded with the predictable, although accurate, observation that the KC-135s are already 50 years old. (Thankfully, she refrained from the one of the other refrains of “older than the pilots that fly them.”) But she did allow as how planes designed in the ‘50s and built in the 60s are hardly state of the art technology.

“For the sake of our national security, we need to move forward with the acquisition process for the KC-X Tanker – a process which has already been drawn out too long and cost taxpayers too much money,” she said.

Rossi: We’ve still got more Facebook friends

Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi is apparently a HUGE hit on Facebook.His campaign once again has proclaimed his success at getting Facebook “friends” is far superior to that of incumbent Sen. Patty Murray.

Rossi campaign news proclaimed this morning he had 25,276 friends, “more than double Sen. Patty Murray’s 11,796 followers.” While this is an admirable amount of amicus, one wonders what else the campaign is doing besides counting Facebook friends. As regular readers might recall, Spin Control noted the Rossi campaign was touting its Facebook numbers just under two weeks ago, when it had about 20,000 friends. 

At that time, we felt rather petulant about noting the Rossi campaign Web site really didn’t have much to do except watch a video of Dino’s campaign entry announcement, sign up for Facebook or Twitter, or donate. No issue statements, no bio, no campaign appearance schedule.

Twelve days later and what’s changed on the Web site? Nada.

In other online U.S. Senate campaign news, Clint Didier informed Twitter followers that he’s off to the other Washington. “Brings back a lot of old memories. I’m in this to win this.” Didier, it should be noted, is likely referring to memories of playing football for the Redskins, not any of that government/political stuff that is currently out of vogue.

For some reason, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee was so taken by the Didier whereabouts that it is passing it around, not the Didier campaign.

County GOP backing Baker, White

The Spokanke County Republican Party endorsed Assessor Ralph Baker and legislative candidate Dave White over the weekend.

Ordinarily, one might think that the county party endorsing an elected GOP official, as Baker is, is something of a gimme. But not always this year. The County GOP is endorsing Dave Stevens over incumbent GOP Prosecutor Steve Tucker, for example.

For White the choice might have been pretty easy. He’s running in the open seat in the 3rd Legislative District, a district that is trends strongly Democratic and has three Democratic candidates.

Dems to hit Rossi on seminar

Expect Democrats to pound on Republican Senate candidate Dino Rossi for several days about his upcoming speaking engagement on real estate.

It’s a seminar Tuesday at a Bellevue restaurant that asks a legitimate question, although not one for which many people are seeking an answer. To wit:

“Is now the time to buy a Waterfront Home?”

The seminar, put on by a real estate firm, is going to answer the question in the affirmative, listing some “great dealw” of $11 million on down on Lake Washington, citing low interest rates and  low closing costs.

Clearly a buyers’ market on  high end lake mansions. But maybe not the best speaking gig for someone running for the U.S. Senate in tough economic times.

Romeyn running for Congress

Candidate filing surprise of the day — or at least so far — in the 5th Congressional District: Former TV weathercaster Daryl Romeyn filed as a Democrat to run against Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Romeyn’s filing, which apparently arrived via the Internet, went up late this morning. We’re still trying to contact him.

Romeyn was a weather reporter at KXLY for several years, then switched over to KREM, where he was a Stormtracker 2 fixture, particularly on the weekends. He also had an outdoors program, Romeyn’s Domain. He left KREM in March, the station said.

One thing he brings to the race that the other two Democrats — Clyde Cordero and Barbara Lampert — don’t, is name recognition.

In other filing news, the U.S. Senate race is  up to 14 candidates with the addition of Republican Mike Latimer of Des Moines.


Palin in Tri-Cities?

Former vice presidential candidate and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is reportedly in the Tri-Cities.

We have to say reportedly because this information comes about third-hand:

State Democrats (yes, Democrats) report that Republican Senate candidate Clint Didier has tweeted that he has to make a quick trip to the T-C to meet with Palin. (“All geared up for the convention. Then I got the call from Sarah. I’m now getting ready to sit down with Sarah Palin.”)

And they sent a photo of a sign in front of a table at the state GOP convention in Vancouver that he was he’d be back after flying over to the Tri Cities to talk to Palin “about fundraising”.

No word on whether he’d try to bring Palin with him. She’s not on the schedule, but chances are the state GOP would clear a few minutes for her to address the crowd if she showed.

R-52 gets new ballot language: “job creation” out, tax mention in

OLYMPIA — A Thurston County Superior Court judge approved new ballot language for Referendum 52, a proposal to sell bonds to pay for environmental upgrades of schools and colleges.

Democrats in the Legislature approved the concept for the bonds, often called Hans bonds because they’d been pushed by Rep. Hans Dunshee, during the session. But paying for the bonds was a problem, because the state was about at its indebtedness limit, so legislators eventually decided to give voters a chance to approve a special source of money: the tax on bottled water that they were describing as temporary.

Republicans wanted the ballot language in the bill to say the bottled water tax would be permanent. Democrats declined, arguing essentially that nothing is truly permanent because the Legislature can always come up with a different formula later. The language in the bill made no mention of the bottled water tax. But it does say the bonds will promote job creation.

The Association of Washington Business appealed, arguing the claim of job creation was “a speculative assertion” and that the use of the tax on bottled water was a core subject of the proposal.

As the Washington Policy Center notes, Judge Carol Murphy rewrote the measure’s description to read thusly:

“This bill would authorize bonds to finance construction and repair projects increasing energy efficiency in public schools and higher education buildings, and continue the sales tax on bottled water otherwise expiring in 2013.”

Murray lauds Kitara McClure

While Republicans who want her job are gathering in Vancouver, Sen. Patty Murray is holding a fundraiser today in Seattle with a special guest and prizes.

It’s her annual “Golden Tennis Shoe” Awards, which Murray gives to people she believes make a difference in state residents’ lives. One of the awards goes to Kitara McClure of Spokane, for her at-risk teen drop-in center at Northtown Mall called PONY TALES, (which is an acronym for a really long name that”s inside the blog.) McClure is also the multicultural director at Spokane Community College.

The special guest is Vicki Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy. Other shoe winners include Marcelas Owens, a Seattle youngster whose mom died after losing medical insurance who became sort of a poster child during the health care reform debate.

The award’s name, of course, comes from the oft-repeated story of how Murray got into politics after being told by some recalcitrant officeholder that he wasn’t going to support an issue and she couldn’t do anything about it because she was “just a mom in tennis shoes.”

Last day to file, GOP in Vancouver: Wassup June 11

Not to be a nag, but today is the last day for candidates to file for office. And if you’re waiting until the last minute, remember that the offices close at different times, depending on what individual counties are facing in terms of budget problems.

In Spokane County, the office closes at 4 p.m. In Olympia, the Secretary of State’s office closes at 5 p.m. For a list of some other elections offices around Eastern Washington, click here to see an early post.

The U.S. Senate race grew to a baker’s dozen with the addition of Mohammad Said, an Ephrata physician. He’s run before as a Democrat, this time he lists a preference for “the Centrist Party.”

Speaking of the Senate race, Politico has a long piece on the courting of Dino Rossi by Republicans in the other Washington. Washington state Democrats are flagging it a sign Rossi’s an insider; a more balanced read would suggest that Rossi will have plenty of resources to run against Murray if he beats Clint Didier and the gaggle of other candidates in the Aug. 17 primary. Didier got in the race Thursday, apparently choosing to ignore the admonition from another would-be Republican challenger, Sean Salazar, who wrote an open letter on Red County urging Didier to drop in favor of Rossi.

(Salazar it should be noted, is not exactly a model of consistency on this point. Two weeks ago, his campaign spokeswoman said he was sticking in the race: “He’s not going anywhere. We’ve put so much work into this campaign, the volunteers are saying ‘You better not jump the race.’” who two weeks ago said )

Perhaps the Republicans will sort all this out in Vancouver, where they are gathering for their state convention. Delegates have a dinner with guest speaker Michelle Malkin tonight. Candidates speak to the assembled body on Saturday.

And Didier makes 12

OLYMPIA — Clint Didier made it an even dozen in the U.S. Senate race Thursday afternoon.

The Central Washington farmer and football coach, and former NFL player, was one of four candidates filing for the seat held by Democrat Patty Murray, who is seeking her fourth term.

The three best-known and better financed Republicans — Didier, Dino Rossi and Paul Akers — all filed Thursday. So did Bob Burr of Bellingham, a Democrat who said he’s unhappy with Murray’s refusal to support publicly financed political campaigns.

For those keeping track at home, that makes 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 2 “No party preference” candidates.

Democrats are having fun with the fact that Rossi signed up for the 2008 ballot as “Prefers GOP Party” but lists “Republican Party” this year. Not sure it’s something that will decide anyone’s vote, though.

For a complete list of the names on the Spokane area ballots thus far, go inside the blog.

Rossi, 2 more Ds in Senate race: Wassup June 10

Dino Rossi filed his candidate paperwork this morning at the Secretary of State’s office., making him the ninth candidate in the U.S. Senate race. Democrats Charles Allen of Seattle filed online yesterday evening, and the paperwork got processed this monring. Democrat Bob Burr of Bellingham filed this morning.

Republican Paul Akers is planning a 12:30 p.m. filing to coincide with a campaign evenet.

Other morning additions to the ballot:

Morgan Oyler, who lists the GOP Party preference, filed to run against Timm Ormsby in one of central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District House races.

Republican state Rep. Matt Shea filed for re-election in one of the Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District House race.

Chris Bugbee became the fifth candidate in the Spokane County prosecutor’s race.

Reierson files for prosecutor

And then there were four…Spokane County prosecutor candidates, that is.

Jim Reierson joined the race for county prosecutor today, saying he prefers “The Law and Order Party.” (Who knew the hit TV show had its own political party?)

Reierson ran for the job four years ago as a Democrat, and ran twice for Spokane County District judge, which is a nonpartisan position.

For a complete list of candidates on the Spokane area ballots thus far, click “continue reading.”

Elex roundup, CA voters go for Top 2

With all the talk about who survived and who didn’t in the various state primaries Tuesday, not much nationally has been said about California voters decision to switch their primary to the Top 2 system.

You know, the one like Washington has. (It’s coming up on Aug. 17.)

California went for Top 2 in a big way yesterday.

The last time Californians decided to copy Washington’s primary system, it didn’t turn out so well. They went for the Blanket Primary that Washington  had since the 1930s, and their state political parties got angry, took it to the U.S. Supreme Court and got it overturned. Then Washington political parties took our Blanket Primary to court, and got it overturned.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court has already given a legal okey-dokey to the Top 2, so that probably won’t happen again.

For a quick rundown on the big candidate races, here’s an AP video:

Will Parker get a Democratic opponent?

Less than three days left in candidate filing week, state Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, still has no opponent.

Sixth Legislative District seats are highly competitive, but Democrats remain without a challenger to Parker, who unseated Rep. Don Barlow, D-Spokane, in 2008.

Democratic officials haven’t offered any names of potential candidates in the race. Spokane County Democratic Party Chairwoman Amy Biviano said Wednesday that the party still hopes to “have a candidate” to challenge Parker.

“Until two days from now, we’ll just have to wait and see,” Biviano said. 

Parker has a sizeable campaign chest waiting for a potential opponent. He’s raised $124,000, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.


More candidates, more events: Wassup June 9

The field for Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District filled out overnight, a result of candidates being able to file on-line. No surprises, though.

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers got her paperwork filed. Newcomer Clyde Cordero, a Democrat, and Randall Yearout of the Constitution Party also got their paperwork in to run against the three-term Republican incumbent. Perennial candidate Barbara Lampert, also a Democrat, was the first to file for the seat on Monday.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Barbara Madsen filed for re-election, as did Justice Richard Sanders, who already faces a challenge from Charlie Wiggens of Bainbridge Island. Stan Rumbaugh of Tacoma filed for Position 1, the seat held by Justice Jim Johnson, who is expected to file later this week.

Number of candidates in the U.S. Senate race is up to eight, with yet another perennial candidate, William Chovill of Tacoma, in the race. And the two most visible Republicans, Clint Didier and Dino Rossi, haven’t even filed yet. Noon update: Republican Paul Akers said this morning  he will file Thursday…that would make 11.

Two Spokane area candidates are filing today, and may bump into each other at the county elections office. Republican Mike Baumgartner, who is challenging state Sen. Chris Marr in the 6th Legislative District, has a post-sign up rally at 3:30 p.m.; so does incumbent County Commissioner Bonnie Mager, a Democrat seeking her second term.

Not sure how big a crowd either is expecting, but there’s a fairly big parking lot outside the elections office.

Don’t wait too long to file for office

Would-be candidates planning to wait for the last minute to file for office be advised: Make sure you know when the “last minute” is. Depending on where you file, it could be earlier than you think.
Washington candidates have until “the close of business” to file their initial paperwork. Traditionally, that meant 5 p.m. across the state. It was common to see unopposed incumbents gather at the elections office about 4:45 p.m. on Friday of filing week to see if they’d drawn any challengers. Fence-sitting candidates might wait until 4:55 p.m. to get into a race with weak or no competition. And sometimes a person who’d become sidetracked with work, school, kids or life in general would rush in with just seconds to spare.
For people walking their petitions of candidacy into the Secretary of State’s office, where papers for any office that covers more than one county, 5 p.m. is still the drop-dead time
But for county elections offices, where candidates for county, legislative and judicial offices contained within their boundaries must file, the deadline could be different.
Spokane County elections office closes at 4 p.m. as do Ferry, Lincon and Pend Oreille counties.
Stevens County elections closes at 3:30 p.m, Adams County at 4:30 p.m. and Whitman County at 5 p.m.
That’s because many counties are struggling with tight budgets, and operating on shortened hours. Elections offices don’t have to stay open extra to accept candidate petitions.
Candidates can also file by mail, or online. But the deadline for those petitions is 4 p.m., no matter where they are going.

Tuesday filings: Lunchtime update

Today’s candidate filings as of lunchtime:

U.S. Senate: Mike The Mover, Democrat

3rd Leg. District, House Pos. 2: Timm Ormsby, Democrat

4th Leg. District, House Pos. 1: Larry Crouse, Republican

7th Leg. District, House Pos. 2: Joel Kretz, Republican

Spokane County Assessor: Andrew Jackson; Democrat, Vicki Horton, Republican

Spokane County Prosecutor: Dave Stevens, Republican

Spokane County District Judge Pos. 6: Debra Hayes

State Supreme Court: Richard Sanders

Filing Week, Day 2: Wassup June 7

Candidates continue to turn in paperwork to county elections offices and the Secretary of State today, although Tuesday traditionally is one of the lightest days of filing week.

The big rush on Monday be candidates who either want to be first or don’t want to forget is followed by a few days of candidates who are setting up campaign events around the turning in of paper work and those who are fitting it into a busy schedule.

Beyond the names — some familiar, some not — a curious thing is happening with the “party preference” part of the forms. Just as in 2008, some “Rs” are filing as preferring the Republican Party and others are filing as preferring the GOP Party. (Yes, that’s a redundancy because the P in GOP stands for Party, but don’t complain to me, complain to them.)

On the other side of the aisle, some “Ds” are filing as preferring the Democratic Party, while others are filing as preferring the Democrat Party. It would seem that all these years of Republicans stressing the word without the -ic as a slur has finally seeped into the subconscious of the other side, and now some Democrats don’t know their nouns from their adjectives, either.

There’s a smattering of Green, Independent and No Party preferences. But a few candidates are just having fun with the party preference line. Tim Sutinene says he Prefers Lower Taxes Party (wouldn’t we all?). Leslie Klein of Seattle Prefers (R) Problem fixer Party. Jon T. Haugen of Vancouver wrote he “Prefers Neither Party”.

And for the readers wondering if “Goodspaceguy” is the real name of a candidate running for the U.S. Senate. Yes, it is. He previously went by Mike Nelson, Mike Goodspaceguy Nelson or Goodspaceguy Nelson. One of his main campaign planks is to colonize orbital space.

He runs for something just about every year, including King County executive last year, the U.S. House in 2008 , the U.S. Senate in 2006 and governor in 2004. Part of this year’s campaign strategy appears to be slimming down to a single name.

Council gives OK to demolish Spokane’s Piggly Wiggly warehouse

The Spokane City Council on Monday gave the green light to tear down two 85-year-old downtown warehouses.

The city already has a demolition permit for the historic structures, which sit on the southeast corner of Riverside and Division, but the land is owned by Washington State University.

The council voted 6-1 to approve an agreement that transfers the land to the city, clearing the way for the buildings’ removal.

The warehouses are the former homes of Western Piggly Wiggly, a grocery chain based in Spokane that later was bought by Safeway, and Ryan Fruit Co. Earlier this year, downtown developer Dan Spalding unsuccessfully tried to persuade the city and WSU to save at least one of the buildings.

City administrators say that the buildings are in the way of the proposed extension of Riverside Avenue, which will be called Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

Eldon Brown, Spokane’s principal engineer of developer services, said construction of Riverside and demolition of the warehouses is expected to start around Oct. 1.

2 Democrats in 5th Congressional District race against McMorris Rodgers

Last week, Democrats had no one to run against Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Eastern Washington’s congressional seat. Monday they had two candidates – a novice from Spokane Valley and a perennial office-seeker from Spokane.

Clyde Cordero, an advertising salesman for a Web publication, announced Monday that he would run for the seat that has been reliably Republican since the GOP knocked off the sitting speaker of the House in 1994. Cordero is originally from California, and moved to the Valley about 4½ years ago with his wife and two children.

About the same time his announcement was being e-mailed out, Barbara Lampert, a former nursing aide, was filing her paperwork in Olympia. Lampert has run unsuccessfully for offices ranging from city council to U.S. Senate every year since 1996; she ran for Congress two years ago.

Both talked about the importance of giving voters a choice.

 To read more or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Cordero to challenge McMorris Rodgers

Spokane Valley resident Clyde Cordero will file for Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional seat against three-term incumbent Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Democratic official said this morning.

Cordero, a 50-year-old business consultant for a Web advertising firm, will announce his campaign today, the beginning of filing week.

Washington state Democratic Party Vice Chairwoman Sharon Smith said Cordero, a California native who moved to the Valley about four years ago, is a former Army intelligence analytst and veteran of Operation Desert Storm. It will be his first run for elective office.

Cordero enters th race against McMorris Rodgers with less than five month until the Nov. 2 election. McMorris Rodgers, a member of the House Republican leadership team, had already raised $738,000 as of March 31.

Also in the race is Randall Yearout, a member of the Constitutional Party.

Talking about running for office? Put up or shut up

For Washington state candidates, it’s put up or shut up time.
Starting tomorrow morning,cq Monday they have five days to file paperwork and pay the fee necessary to run for one of the many elective offices on this year’s ballot.
It may seem that some have been running for months, or even years, and in a sense that’s true. Candidates have been jumping into the U.S. Senate race since early 2009, and as recently as last Thursday, jumping out.
Candidates in Washington can announce their campaigns whenever they want. They can even say they’re running for one office in January, and switch to another in May. But by the first full week of June, they have to file a form and pay 1 percent of the annual salary of the office they are seeking to be on the Aug. 17 primary ballot.
By Friday, Washington voters will know ….

8 simple rules for candidates thinking of running

Each campaign season brings in a new crop of candidates who pump fresh blood into the body politic. Good thing, too; the body politic could use a transfusion, or at least iron supplements.
Most years, some call for advice, which Spin Control is prohibited by the newspaper’s owner, longstanding journalism policies and several admonitions in the Bible from providing. As we did at the start of last year’s campaign season, however, we will offer our eight “rules to live by” for candidates and campaigners.
1. No whining

McMorris Rodgers at VA hospital, filing week approaches: Wassup June 4

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center at 2 p.m. Friday for a tour. It’s one of several military and veteran related events this weekend for the Eastern Washington Republican.

She was at Fairchild Air Force Base this morning for a “dirt-turner” — the groundbreaking ceremony for a new physical fitness center. On Saturday, she’s at the Veterans’ and Military Families Resource Fair from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the WSU Riverpoint Campus, 412 E. Spokane Falls Blvd. There’s a town hall style meeting at 10:30 a.m.

Meanwhile, would-be candidates around the state will have to make up their minds pretty soon about whether they really want to run. Really. Next week is filing week. People who have been talking about running for weeks, months or even years have to file their paperwork and pay your filing fee. Or as they say in poker, put up or shut up.

One candidate for U.S. Senate, Republican legislator Don Benton, dropped out of the race today. (See post immediately below.) Don’t be surprised if more would-be’s turn into won’t-be’s by next Friday.

Benton quits Senate race, backs Rossi

Just a week after saying he was sticking in the U.S. Senate race, State Sen. Don Benton dropped out and endorsed the man he labeled the “establishment” candidate, Dino Rossi.

In a press release, Benton, a Vancouver Republican and former chairman of the state party, said the party needs to “consolidate our resources and work together to put our country back on track.”

“Therefore, since this campaign has never been about me, I have decided to do what is best for my country, my party, and my fellow Washingtonians: I am stepping aside to endorse Dino Rossi,” Benton said in a press release.

Rossi formally entered the race last week, after months of speculation which drained much of the attention from Benton and the dozen or so other Republicans already running. Benton officially entered the race in February, and had raised $121,000 by the end of March; Rossi’s campaign said Thursday it raised $600,000 in one week.

After Rossi made his candidacy official last week, Benton vowed to stay in the quest to be one of two candidates to survive the Aug. 17 primary. As a three-term incumbent and the only recognizable Democrat in the race, Patty Murray is expected easily to take one of those spots, leaving one for the crowded field of challengers.

Benton called Rossi a friend, but suggested he had the wrong connections: “We can no longer look to the establishment to turn our economy and our country around. The people want an independent voice that will take on both parties and stand up for common sense and fiscal responsibility.”

All announced candidates must file their paperwork and pay the filing fee by next Friday to have a spot on the primary ballot.

Rossi: We’ve got more Facebook friends

Dino Rossi may have just introduced a new metric into the U.S. Senate campaign: Facebook friends. And he’s ahead.

A press release marking  his one week anniversary of getting into the race suggests he’s way ahead on that score: “In just the first week, we have signed up over 2,500 people online, attracted over 20,000 Facebook followers, third most of any US Senate candidate and nearly twice that of Senator Murray and raised over $600,000, including nearly $200,000 online.” 

So clearly, Murray’s going to have to get busy getting people to “friend” her or someone’s going to write about Rossi’s ongoing Facebook advantage, and what she’ll have to do to overcome it. And then, before you know it, they’ll be exploring any Twitter gap she might have, and then talking about how he’s so much better at campaigning in the new media.

One reason why Rossi may be doing so well: Go to his campaign website, and there’s not much to do except watch his YouTube announcement speech, signup to follow the campaign on Facebook or Twitter or by e-mail.

Or donate, of course.

But no long biography, no boringly detailed issue analyses or white papers, no calendar of campaign events…at least not as of Thursday afternoon. It’s the perfect site for web surfers with short attention spans.

Patty Murray, Larry Craig and trees: Wassup June 3

Sen. Patty Murray is in Spokane this afternoon to makr the celebration of a local company, McKistry Co., with Mayor Mary Verner. They’re whooping it up at 1:30 p.m. at the Great Northern Building, 802 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

The city’s Father’s Day Centennial Celebration Committee will be planting a tree in honor of Dad’s Day at 2 p.m. at Grant Elementary School, 1300 E. 9th Ave. Why a tree and why Grant? you may ask. Because the person who invented Father’s Day, Sonora Smart Dodd was from Spokane and her son, Jack, went to Grant Elementary and later grew up to be in the U.S. Forest Service. (Bet you thought Father’s Day was invented by Hallmark.)

And just when you think late night television has forgot all about former U.S. Sen. Larry Craig, the Daily Show features him on a segment about the perks one misses when leaving the Senate. John Oliver dying to ask about one aspect of flying back to Idaho, while Craig is talking about another aspect, is pretty funny…and Craig demonstrates he still has his singing voice.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Evan Bayh’s Senate Retirement
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

Gregoire: Not being chatted up for Kagan’s job this trip

OLYMPIA — Even though she’s in Washington, D.C., Gov. Chris Gregoire says she’s not talking about the White House about a job as Barack Obama’s lawyer.

Gregoire has been mentioned as being on the short list to replace Elana Kagan as solicitor general, should Kagan be confirmed by the Senate for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. But she said she’s had no meetings on that topic with the White House on this trip.

All the talking has been about Medicaid money and being clear between the feds and the states on who’s in charge in case of terrorist attacks.

Special session could be needed, Gregoire says

OLYMPIA — Washington may need another special session of the Legislature if Congress doesn’t come through with some $480 million in higher payments for Medicaid, Gov. Chris Gregoire said today.

Concerns over the mounting federal deficit have delayed congressional approval of what Gregoire and officials of other state’s once considered a sure thing — a boost in the Federal Medical Assistance Percentages, or FMAP, for Medicaid costs which are shared with the states.

Washington is expecting a total of $480 million, and all but $30 million is dedicated to giving the state a General Fund ending balance that would carry over into the 2011-13 biennium.

The Obama Administration has called for the extra FMAP money, and both houses have approved it in some appropriation bill, but not yet in the same appropriations bill. As the days move toward the November elections, Congress may be increasingly reluctant to approve the higher Medicaid payments, which would add $23 billion to the federal deficit, she said.

“I think what the big hangup is, we’re in an election year and there’s all this talk about deficit spending, which is resonating,” she said.

Congress could attach the money to any of the remaining spending bills, or might wait until after the election to approve the money in a “lame duck” session after the elections, she said: “It will be a nail-biter, all the way.”

If the state gets a bad economic forecast next week or in September, she could call a special session to decide how to cut the budget. Because the state has accepted stimulus money, which comes with requirements to continue certain programs, only about 29 percent of the state’s general fund spending can be cut, she said. Basic education and higher education would generally be protected from the cuts; health care, social services and corrections would not.

“It depends on our forecast,” Gregoire said. “It’s a little premature right now. If we got a terrible forecast …I’d have to rethink this.”

Gregoire defended herself and fellow Democrats who control the Legislature against criticism that the state budget should not have counted on money that Congress hadn’t approved. She said it isn’t a partisan thing, because Republican governors and legislatures around the country also budgeted the money; some even allocated it to be spent for programs. 

“It happened everywhere. Everybody was confident (FMAP approval) was going to  happen,” she said.

Centennial Trail now “National Recreation Trail”

The U.S. Department of Interior has named the Centennial Trail a National Recreation Trail, which means DoI believes it contributes to the nation’s “healt, conservation and recreation goals.”

City of Spokane’s Parks and Recreation Department announced the selection today, as well as a ceremony on June 18 at Veterans Park to mark being one of 31 trails to get the designation this year.

Seems fitting that the department give the Centennial Trail a national designation, considering the feds ponied up a chunk of money to help build it.

United Way official chosen to serve on Spokane’s library board

A United Way official will join the Spokane Public Library Board of Trustees in time to decide how to deal with major budget cuts proposed by Mayor Mary Verner.

The Spokane City Council on Tuesday unanimously appointed Janice Marich, the vice president of community relations for Spokane County United Way, to the city’s library board for a five-year term.

Marich, 62, said in an interview Tuesday evening that she is open to “all the options” for solving the budget problem.

“What’s really important to me is keeping the resources available to as many people as possible,” said Marich, whose mother worked as a librarian in McKinleyville, Calif.

The five-member board sets library policy and determines how to spend money set aside for libraries by the City Council. Marich was nominated for the job by Verner.

Although use of the city’s libraries continues to increase, Verner announced last month her intention to cut the library budget twice as much as the 2.85 percent cut she proposed in most city departments.

Medicaid money, protesting Israel: Wassup June 2

Gov. Chris Gregoire is in “the other Washington” today, where she’s talking with a Pentagon panel about states and feds working together if there’s a WMD-type incident. Other familiar faces on the panel are Maj. Gen. Timothy Lowenberg of the Washington National Guard, and former U.S. Rep. George Nethercutt.

Gregoire is also talking with federal officials about Medicaid funding amounts, which have yet to pass Congress but which form the ending fund balance in Washington’s 2009-11 biennial budget. Without the expected payment levels for the money, known as Federal Medical Assistance Percentages or FMAP, the state would have the rough equivalent of pocket change to carry over into the next biennium. 

In Spokane this evening, the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane will be protesting Israel’s strike on the flotilla trying to break the blockade of Gaza. They’ll be holdilng signs at Wellesley and Dviision (near Northtown) between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m.

Elsewhere in Washington state, Democratic state Sen. Craig Pridemore is out of the congressional race to replace U.S. Rep. Brian Baird in  southwest Washington’s 3rd District. In an account in the The Olympian by Jordan Schrader, his withdrawal is partly a result of his inability to keep pace in raising money because of the “intense” pace of the special legislative session. If Pridemore thought the spec sess was intense…gotta wonder what he’d think of life in the U.S. House.

His departure leaves two Democrats, Cheryl Crist and Denny Heck, and two Republicans, David Castillo and Jaime Herrera, running hard.

And on a lighter note, Jon Stewart returns to take a look at the Gulf oil mess:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Spilling Fields
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical HumorTea Party

WA Poll: Tea Party fans unhappy with gov, Lege, support McKenna

People who strongly support the Tea Party are likely to strongly not suport the jobs that Gov. Chris Gregoire and the Legislature are doing, the health care reforms passed by Congress or the way things are going in the state in general, the Washington Poll reports.

They do support Attorney General Rob McKenna suing to overturn some of federal health care reforms, Dino Rossi or any Republican over incumbent Sen. Patty Murray and requiring a two-thirds vote to raise any taxes.

New survey results from The Washington Poll, which did interviews with 1,695 voters last month, suggest that there’s not much difference between those who strongly support the Tea Party, and people who  identify themselves as Republicans. Nearly two thirds of those who identified themselves as Republicans said they either strongly approved or somewhat approved of the movement, while only 8 percent said they strongly or somewhat disapproved. (The rest said they had no opinon or never heard of the movement.)

The numbers were almost completely reversed for Democrats, with 8 percent either strongly or somewhat approving, and 64 percent somewhat or strongly disapproving. The independents were more evenly split, with 38 percent voicing some level of approval, 32 percent some disapproval, and 29 percent in the No opinion/never heard of columns.

Tea Party supporters tend to be much stronger in Eastern Washington, where almost half the respondents said they either “strongly approve” or “somewhat approve” of the movement.

Researchers for the University of Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race and Sexuality also compared the response of different blocks of Tea Party sentiment to the survey as a whole, and found those who “strongly support” the group were much more likely than other groups, or respondents as a whole, to say the state was on the wrong track, give Gregoire and the Legislature a thumbs down or McKenna’s lawsuit a thumbs up.

More on the poll inside the blog

WA sends in its Race to the Top app

OLYMPIA — Washington has nearly 9 of 10 school districts signing on for the federal Race to the Top competition, hoping to get a total of $250 million in federal cash for a wide variety of education programs.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn had a made-for-media event late Tuesday morning at Nisqually Middle School in Lacey to give the application a formal send-off. They have 265 of the state’s 295 school districts — covering 97 percent of the total students —  signed on.

A couple of months ago, there was some concern the state wouldn’t be able to submit an application because so few districts had turned in their paperwork. But it looks like that was mainly a function of waiting until close to the deadline.

Finalists for the program — it’s competitive, so the Deparemtn of Education will have to pick winners and losers — will be announced in mid summer, and the winners in early September.

For a list of the school districts, go inside the blog.

Mercer staying in U.S. Senate race

Skip Mercer confirmed this afternoon that he’ll stay in the U.S. Senate race, but will file as an independent rather than a Republican.

Mercer was out of the country on a research trip last week when Republican Dino Rossi announced that yes, he was indeed running for the Senate. In a list of other announced candidates in Spin Control, Mercer’s wife Lisa said the Seattle physicist and University of Washington professor was likely to stay in, but not as a Republican.

Skip Mercer said he had initially planned to run as an independent anyway. But his treasurer had written in Republican when filing some forms. “Philosophically, I’m basically a conservative.”

Given the state’s Top Two primary which advances the first and second vote getters regardles of party, Mercer thinks that everyone basically runs as an independent, anyway. But he’s cautious about his chances.

“I think anybody running against Patty Murray or Dino Rossi is a long-shot,” he said. But in travelling around the state pre-Rossi, Mercer said he and some other candidates found significant support for someone running who wasn’t an established politician or a lawyer.

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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.

Nick Deshais covers Spokane City Hall for The Spokesman-Review.

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