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Archive for May 2010

Coday drops from U.S. Senate race

Art Coday, one of a flock of Republican candidates who were in the U.S. Senate race, said today he’s getting out and supporting Dino Rossi.

Coday said he’ll run for an open state House of Representatives seat in the 32nd Legislative District instead.

Coday, a Shoreline physician, said none of the other candidates’ views matched his perfectly, but he’s been a longtime supporter of Rossi, backing both of Rossi’s bids for governor.

“I think highly of each of these guys,” Coday said. “I think Dino has the best chance of beating Patty Murray.”

Rossi, who has been discussed as a possible candidate for months, officially entered the crowded race on Wednesday. Staying in are (alphabetically) Paul Akers, Don Benton, Clint Didier, Skip Mercer, Sean Salazar and Craig Williams.

And, of course, Murray, a Democrat seeking her fourth term. In the state’s Top Two primary system, they all appear on the ballot together (along with anyone else deciding to file next month). The two top vote-getters go on to the November general election, regardless of party preference.

Online poker and betting: High Court doubles down

Mike Poppke and his “poker-playing  buddy” Prince, a Malamute/Husky mix, attend a Poker Player Alliance rally on the steps of the state Capitol Thursday.

OLYMPIA – The Washington Supreme Court was asked to decide Thursday whether Internet poker is merely a 21st Century twist on a friendly game played at the kitchen table or “the crack cocaine of gambling.”

Online gambling is illegal in Washington, and should remain that way, assistant attorney general Jerry Ackerman said, because it can’t be regulated and monitored like casino gambling. Internet sites can’t prevent minors from playing, or cut off compulsive gamblers, he said.

But Lee Rousso, who is challenging the law, said the ban is “illegally protectionist” because it helps local gambling operations by banning out-of-state or out-of-country operations. Internet gambling sites are regulated, just not by the state, he said.

The justices seemed skeptical of the legal distinction the state makes between games played in a casino or licensed card room, and on the Internet.

For more on this story, go inside the blog

Suddenly, Washington senate seat in play?

National political experts are taking Dino Rossi’s entrance into the race fairly seriously. Two “name” politicos — Cook Political Report and Rothenberg Political Report — are “upgrading” the state’s status from ho-hum to looky there.

Or whatever words they use to connote boring races and exciting ones.

The Rothenberg Report had rated it as clear advantage for Democrats and Patty Murray, but with Rossi in they moved it to Narrow Advantage Murray.

The Cook Report moved it to Toss Up, from Solid Democrat. The Cook analysis is longer, but not always consistent. For example, it notes that Murray is ahead of Rossi by 4 percentage points in one recent poll, but ahead of a generic Republican by only 3 points. (So having a name like Rossi  jump in is at best a wash, folks.) But at least it points out that the polls are all over the map.

It also has a bit of history, noting that Washington voters sometimes pass over experienced incumbents in favor of change, as they did with House Speaker Tom Foley in 1994.

“Foley was well-liked and his position certainly gave Washington a great deal of clout in Congress, but neither could save him in an election that was about change,” they write. (Except that Foley made some campaign mistakes, and some voters bought the concept that their vote counted for more if they could oust the speaker of the House, so the parallels aren’t exact here, either.)

Anyway, this attention is good, regardless of your political persuasion. As long as the contest is believed to be close, more national political pundits will come to the state to watch the candidates and talk to the voters … and spend expense account money on hotels, restaurants, bars and rental cars. A hot U.S. Senate race through November would definitely be good for the economy.

Poker players raise stakes in Internet gaming fight

Members of the Poker Players Alliance gather on the steps of the Capitol Thursday morning after the Supreme Court hears arguments on a state law that bans Internet gambling.

OLYMPIA — Members of the Poker Players Alliance gathered on the Capitol steps today after arguing the state Supreme Court should strike down the state’s law against online poker.

The state allows people to go to casinos to play poker, but won’t let them play it online in their home, they said. It’s a way of protecting local gambling operations to the detriment of out-of-state and out-of-country gambling operations. That’s a violation of the interstate commerce laws, they contend.

Phil Gordon of Newport, a professional poker player, said it’s ridiculous that he has to leave his home and drive down the road about 200 yards to Idaho to play poker online on his cellphone.

It’s a contemptible law, said former U.S. Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, chairman of the alliance. And he was speaking assomething of an expert, having voted for some contemptible laws while in Congress.

Not so, says the state. Poker is illegal unless it’s played in a state-regulated facility and there’s no way to regulate Internet gambling sites on such places as the Isle of Man, an island off Great Britain where many are located.

It’s harder to restrict minors and compulsive gamblers from Internet gambling, assistant attorney general  Gerry Ackerman said. “Internet gambling is the crack cocaine of gambling.”

More on the argument and rally this eveing on line and in Friday’s print edition.

Rossi entrance not clearing GOP field

ino Rossi’s long expected entrance into the U.S. Senate race did not prompt a mass exodus by other Republican candidates Wednesday. Several said they welcomed the competition of the former state senator who has been weighing the race for months.

Rossi, who announced his candidacy on the Internet early Wednesday morning after months of weighing his options, has statewide name recognition from two runs for governor and enters the race with the support of top Senate Republicans. But at least five active GOP candidates said they’ll stick in the race.

That includes state Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, who has amassed a list of endorsements from GOP office holders, and former NFL player and Connell farmer Clint Didier who has the support of Sarah Palin.

Voters will now have a choice between a “GOP established candidate or a citizen statesman who is a part of the grass roots movement,” Didier said in a press release after Rossi’s 7 a.m. announcement was posted on the Internet.

Benton called Rossi a friend whom he will enjoy debating, while taking a shot at Rossi’s Washington, D.C., establishment backing: “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.”

Sean Salazar, a Seattle chiropractor who specializes in sports injuries, offered to drop out months ago and support Rossi if the former gubernatorial candidate would get in the race then, spokeswoman Kandy Schendel said, but Rossi took too long to decide. “He’s not going anywhere. We’ve put so much work into this campaign, the volunteers are saying ‘You better not jump the race.’”

Salazar is building a coalition among voters that Rossi and some other Republicans ignore, such as Asian-Americans, African-Americans and Hispanics, she said.

Craig Williams, a PacifiCorp energy trader and real estate broker from Vancouver, said he considers Rossi and all the other GOP candidates friends and won’t run against them. “Our focus is Patty Murray.” He said while Rossi and others court the far right, he’ll seek support from a broader spectrum of Republicans, independents and Democrats in the Top Two primary.
“It’s really not a primary, it’s two general elections in a row,” Williams said.

Paul Akers, a Bellingham businessman, is staying in the race, a spokesman said. He released a statement saying his expertise in “empowering people and eliminating wasteful spending” was what the nation needed.

Skip Mercer, a Seattle physicist and professor at the University of Washington, will likely stay in the race but may run as an independent, his wife Lisa Mercer said. Skip Mercer is on a ship in the Philippine Sea doing research and may not even know that Rossi is formally in the race, she said.

Mercer’s campaign website has a picture of him with Rossi taken months ago. Whether he’ll remove the photo is “a decision he has yet to make,” she said

Only one candidate in the race Tuesday said he was getting out because Rossi was got in. Ed Torres of Orting, a general superintendent for a plumbing firm, said he was throwing his support to Rossi.

Another, Art Coday, a Shoreline physician, “is still in a decision-making process,” a spokesman said.

Gregoire press conference about more than just Rossi

The political news out of the governor’s Tuesday morning press conference was all about a possible Dino Rossi v. Patty Murray matchup. While that filled the lunchtime blog post, there were other interesting items as well, which will be reported in Wednesday’s S-R. The “non-political junkie’s story, starts below, and continues inside the blog…Jim Camden

OLYMPIA – With the state facing a possible shortfall of $2 billion in the next budget cycle, the governor’s office will hold “town hall” meetings around the state on the budget this summer and early fall.
Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday she’ll send out the head of the Office of Financial Management to explain the tight budget and give residents “a full appreciation of the trade offs” for potential cuts.
“I think there’s a misimpression out there, that there’s lots of money in Olympia,” Gregoire said during a press conference. The meetings will give residents a chance to weigh in on “what are we willing to cut or get rid of.”…

Rossi to announce online at 7 a.m.

Dino Rossi will announce whether he’s getting into the U.S. Senate race Wednesday morning on his web site, with an online video announcement.

He sent out a press release to that effect and told his supporters on his Facebook page, and tweeted them from his Twitter account to watch for the big announcement at 7 a.m. So he’s got all his social media and Internet bases covered.

For those of you who want to sleep in: Count on him running. If you wake up later and find out he isn’t, check to see if the sun is rising in the West, pigs are taking flight and hockey is being played in hell.

Vaughn Ward takes his lumps. Are they deserved?

Talking Points Memo, a liberal news blog, has hung the title of worst candidate ever on Vaughn Ward, who is running in the GOP primary in Idaho’s 1st Congressional District.

In part, it’s due to a video that shows Ward saying some of the same things another young politician said in 2004. So what, you say, politicians borrow each other’s lines all the time? Well, the young politician was Barack Obama addressing the Democratic National Convention, so that’s not a good thing for someone running in a Republican primary in Idaho. It also lists some of Ward’s other mistakes, many chronicled expertly by colleague Betsy Russell at Eye on Boise.

But it seems TPM is picking on Ward and, by extension, Idaho, just a bit. I mean really, worst ever? On the same page, they mention that J.D. Hayworth, running for the Senate in the Arizona Republican primary, insisted that the United States didn’t declare war on Nazi Germany in 1941, and that’s probably even in history books in Texas. And then his staff tried to parse history in such a way that well, you could argue we did or we didn’t, so no one’s really right or wrong on this point.

And Richard Blumenthal, running as a Democrat for U.S. Senate in Connecticut, lied about serving in Vietnam and being captain of the Harvard swim team — two things that are so easy to check it’s amazing it took reporters so long to call him out on them. And he’s the state’s attorney general for gosh sakes. Compared to that, cribbing from Obama (who is, after all a good speaker; even John McCain said so) and suggesting Puerto Rico is a country might be small potatoes.

Washington has it’s share of bad candidates too, like Robert Tilden Medley, a U.S. Senate candidate who wanted to deport all immigrants, send all African Americans to Africa and fund AIDS research by charging gay men to have sex. (Spin Control is not making this up; we don’t have that good of an imagination.)

The title of the worst candidate ever would have to be decided by a playoff with brackets, sort of like the NCAA basketball championship, with divisions for local, state, congressional and presidential.

Who would you put as the top seed in one or more of those brackets for the worst candidate competition?

McMorris Rodgers, House GOP unveil new website

Congressional Republicans announced a “new initiative” to get the public to weigh in on important issues. And by new initiative, they mean a…

A new website.

They call it America Speaking Out, and it allows folks on the Internet to offer their own ideas or comment on others’ ideas on things like prosperity, fiscal accountability, American values and national security.  And even earn “badges” (why do I keep hearing Alfonso Bedoyo saying : “Badges…We don’t need no badges. I don’t  have to show you any stinking badges”?)

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., is in charge of New Media Outreach for the House Republicans, and is tasked with maximizing the site’s effectiveness.

“All across America, New Media technologies – such as websites, blogs, online videos, and social networking sites - have greatly improved communications in our personal and professional lives,” she said in a press release.  “Now it’s time for New Media to have the same impact on America’s government. ”

Perhaps, but McMorris Rodgers and House Republicans may discover one other fact about a political social media site, which is “if you build it, God knows who will come and write long-winded diatribes.” A check of the site on its first day showed that some of the posts are fairly acerbic, and some could best be described as logic challenged.

But anything that  moves the political dialog forward is a good thing, right?

Gregoire: Rossi’s been running all along

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire said she’s not worried about fellow Democrat Patty Murray’s chances against here two-time opponent Dino Rossi. But trading a three-term incumbent like Murray for Rossi or any Republican challenger “would be a disaster for the state” by losing so much clout and hard work.

Mary Lane Strow, a spokeswoman for Rossi, replied: “Spoken like a true goverment insider. I would expect nothing less from another career politician.”

Asked about the potential matchup between Murray and Rossi at a morning press conference, Gregoire said if asked for advice, she’d urge Murray to compare their records for the last six years. Rossi gave up his state Senate seat in 2004 to run for governor, and has been in business since then, except for his 2008 rematch against her.

“What’s he been doing since 2004. Where’s he been? Talk about what she’s done, talk about what he’s done,” she said. “What has he done? He runs on ‘I wrote a budget once.’”

Strow countered that Rossi has been in business, “helping to contribute to economic growth” since leaving office.

“While Patty Murray has been sitting in Washington, D.C., spending massive amounts of tax dollars and bringing on huge debt levels…Dino has been working in the private sector,” she said, adding that politicians “tend to look down on people who work in the private enterprise.”

A poll released Monday shows Murray in a close race with Rossi or any Republican candidate, and with less than half the voters contacted saying they were ready to vote to re-elect her. Incumbents below 50 percent are generally considered vulnerable for re-election.

Gregoire said she thought there were other races around the country, particularly for governor’s posts, where the incumbents were in more jeopardy than Murray.”I’m not worried for Patty because Patty’s never taken anything for granted in a race.”

And she defended the opposition research against Rossi underway by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, even though he’s not yet officially in the race, as merely “due diligence”.

“I don’t think it’s any less fair than him holding…12 candidates at bay. What has been the issue that has taken him so long to make up  his mind,” she said.

Countered Strow: “That’s lawyer speak for dumpster diving. I’m sure Christine Gregoire is deeply concerned about the other Republicans in the U.S. Senate race.”

Rossi said as recently as Friday that he’s waiting for all members of his immediate family to be on board with a run, and trying to make sure he can put together all the pieces of a campaign. But he also told the Mainstream Republican Conference that his wife is “100 percent” behind him if he decides to run — a comment that some of the political activists in the room took as a sign he’d enter the race.

“I think he’s been running all along,” Gregoire said.

WA Poll: Jobs top issue, state on wrong track

More voters think Washington is “seriously on on the wrong” track than going in the right direction, a new survey by University of Washington researchers says.

More than half approve of the job President Obama is doing, and slightly les — 51 percent — approve of Sen. Patty Murray’s job performance. But less than one in three give Congress good marks for the work its doing.

Less than half say they’re planning to vote to re-elect Murray in November, and two out of five would either vote for Dino Rossi or any Republican candidate runnign against her.

The Washington Poll, which was released today, has more voters giving Gov. Chris Gregoire  bad marks than good marks for her job performance. While her overall numbers are relatively close — 44 percent say they approve compared to 47 percent who say they disapprove — those who feel strongly about it are much more likely to say they disapprove. Nearly a third, 30 percent, say they strongly disapprove compared to 17 percent who say they strongly approve.

Gregoire’s numbers look good compared to the Legislature. Only about one in three approved of the job the Legislature is doing, while 43 percent disapproved.

Attorney General Rob McKenna fared better than Gregoire or the Lege, with 41 percent saying they approve of the job he’s doing and 23 percent disapproving. But more than a third (37 percent, say they have no opinion or have never heard of him; less than one in 10 had no opinion of Gregoire.

Democrats currently have a slight edge in upcoming legislative races, the poll suggests, but nearly one in five voters polled was undecided when asked if they planned to vote for a Democrat or Republican candidate for the Legislature this fall.

The poll flagged something that could help Republicans and pose a problem for Democrats in the legislative elections: 60 percent said they support a two-thirds majority vote for the Legislature to raise taxes. The state had such a law, enacted by voters, until this year when Democrats in the Legislature voted to suspend it.

More than half the voters surveyed said they would for an initiative to institute a state income tax on those making more than $200,000 and another initiative to end the state ownership of liquor stores. Both proposals are among ballot measuers in the signature-gathering phase.

Voters surveyed were about evenly split on the new taxes the Legislature approved to support the budget, on the  health care reform approved by Congress, and on McKenna’s decision to sue the federal government to block some aspects of that reform from taking effect.

There was strong support for repealing the state’s civil and criminal penalties for possession of marijuana, something the Legislature considered briefly but didn’t pass.

The poll showed increasing support for allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry, and allowing illegal immigrants to remain in the country and becoming citizens “but only if they meet certain requirements like working and paying back taxes over a period of time.

Want more poll results? Click here to see the full Washington Poll Issues and Opinions May 2010.


Eyman update: Proposal would ban red light cams

OLYMPIA — Initiative guru Tim Eyman’s latest ballot proposal seeks to ban automated ticketing cameras for running red lights in Mukilteo unless they are approved by two-thirds of that city’s council AND a vote of the public.

Spin Control mentioned this morning that Eyman had an event to unveil a new initiative. This is it.

U.S. Senate race update, Eyman event: Wassup May 24

Washington’s U.S. Senate race continues to get noticed by the national news media. The Washington Times today carried a story about the race, focusing on Republican candidate Clint Didier, focusing on the fact that he’s a former Washington Redskin, perhaps for those who follow football more than they follow politics.

It mentions the Sarah Palin endorsement, the fact that Didier and other candidates are waiting for potential candidate Dino Rossi to announce whether he’s getting into the race and some poll info. The WashTimes article is being circulated by what on the surface may seem an unusual source, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee. But hardly anything written about the race fails to get spread around by e-mail from the DSCC these days.

In other news, Tim Eyman is holding a kickoff for a new initiative this afternoon. He doesn’t say which one, which is too bad because Eyman has filed so many initiatives this year that it’s hard to guess which one he’s going to be boosting at the event, which is at Mukilteo City Hall.

Rossi to decide “Soon, very soon”

Dino Rossi and former Sen. Slade Gorton talk during a reception for the Mainstream Republican Cascadia Conference Friday evening.

SEATTLE – Dino Rossi tiptoed up to the starting line for a run for the U.S. Senate Friday evening, telling a crowd of fellow Republicans the nation was at a crossroads with mounting debt and a potential loss of freedoms.

He didn’t actually get into the starting blocks, but he seemed to have his track spikes laced up.
“Either we are going to restore the free enterprise ideals that made this country great, or we’re going to become France, or worse, Greece,” Rossi told the Mainstream Republicans annual conference.

He split his criticism between Olympia and Washington, D.C., blasting legislative Democrats for removing the super-majority needed to raise taxes, then passing an array of taxes.

“Every time they raise taxes, they take it from the wealth-creating, job-creating sector of the economy,” he said. “This time bomb clearly needs to be defused.”

A former state senator who has run twice for governor, Rossi said he wasn’t thinking about the U.S. Senate race six months ago. He told the gathering of what some people call Dan Evans or moderate or establishment wing of the party that he expected to make a decision on whether to enter the U.S. Senate race against three-term Democratic incumbent Patty Murray “soon, very soon.”

“If we do this again, I’m going to need you again,” he told a crowd of about 150 activists and candidates for other offices.

“It’s impossible for me to have heard that speech and not think he’s in,” Alex Hays, executive director of the Mainstream Republicans and a supporter of one of the other candidates, state Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver.

I-1058: Could you pass a test on the constitution?

Monte Benham of Kennewick is convinced that people know very little about the U.S. Constitution and next to nothing about the state Constitution.

“Elected officials swear an oath to uphold the state Constitution, and most of them have never even seen it, let alone read it,”he  said.

Benham, who previously worked with Tim Eyman on several tax initiatives, would like to fix that knowledge gap with the current generation of school children, requiring them to learn about the two constitutions and the Declaration of Independence in fifth, eighth and tenth grades and pass a test before graduating high school.

To do that, he and supporters of Initiative 1058 will need about 250,000 like-minded citizens to sign petitions, and for voters to approve the initiative to the people in November. Copies of the initiative were inserted in The Spokesman-Review earlier this week as a way to generate more signed petitions, which must be turned in by the beginning of July.

The initiative calls for schools to teach the relationships among those documents and other things like the Pledge of Allegiance and the Gettysburg Address. They would also be required to know some of the important words in the documents, like despotism, providence, tranquility and consanguinity. (The last one means blood relationship, in case it comes up on some future test.)

It also requires they learn about initiatives: “Students shall be taught the inherent right of the people to elect government officials and enact or reject, at the polls, legislation independent of the Legislature, and to approve or reject, at the polls, any law passed by the Legislature.”

 The initiative calls for standardized tests, although Benham said this week he didn’t know of an adequate test that exists right now. The schools would have to come up with one, he said.

Want to test your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence, U.S. and State constitutions?

The U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence and Washington Constitution » online testing



Murray, Cantwell disagree on Wall Street regs

Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell see eye-to-eye on most things. The two West Side Washington Democrats have fairly similar voting records.

But they parted ways today on the Senate’s Wall Street regulation bill. Murray voted yes, calling it “the strongest consumer protections in our history:”

Cantwell voted no, saying it allows Wall Street “to continue to exploit loopholes.”

And yes, they are talking about the same bill.

To read their separate takes on the bill, which passed the Senate, go inside the blog.

Bob McCaslin, champion of unions?

OLYMPIA —Bob McCaslin scored 100 percent on the state Labor Council’s legislative report card.

Which is a little like Bart Simpson scoring 100 percent on the SATs. You gotta know something strange is going on.

But organized labor’s report of the late legislative session does give the Spokane Valley Republican, who has a lifetime score of 10 percent on votes the unions pick as their most important, a 100 percent for 2010. No liberal Democrat had a percentage that high.

You think the Labor Council is just trying to cheer McCaslin up during his recovery from heart surgery? Not exactly, although that’s a couple steps down the road to the real explanation. Turns out because McCaslin had to miss much of the session because of cardiac surgery and recovery, he was only around for one of the unions’ key votes, a Jan. 22 roll call involving furloughs for state workers. McCaslin and most Republicans voted no, while most Democrats voted yes. Shortly after that, McCaslin was hospitalized and excused from other votes. The seven other tracked votes don’t count against his score, so he’s 1-for-1, not 1-for-8.

Come to think of it, the shock of getting a perfect score from the unions might not be the best thing for McCaslin. Maybe next time the AFL-CIO could just send a card?

Palin backs Clint Didier for Senate

Clint Didier has something that the 10 or so other GOP candidates looking to challenge Patty Murray for the U.S. Senate don’t have… and we’re not talking about Super Bowl rings here.

Support from Sarah Palin.

The former Alaska governor and Republican vice presidential candidate tweeted “be inspired by patriot running for U.S.Senate to serve his state & our country for all the right reasons!Go #86.”

The number is a reference to Didier’s NFL jersey, not a shout out to Special Agent Maxwell Smart.

This could definitely be considered an up and down week for Didier, with this being the high point, and a news report earlier in the week that the opponent of federal government spending is himself the recipient of some six figures worth of subsidies and other farm program payments from the federal government.

The ever-vigilant Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee took a break from firing volleys at not-yet candidate Dino Rossi to call Didier the “Tea Party candidate.” Which isn’t really a slam in some parts of the state.

Third Party candidates have it tough

The results of a study by the National Institute on Money in State Politics concludes that third party candidates face long odds at getting elected.

Which may rival “it rains in Seattle” for the least surprising conclusion of the week. But at least the institute puts some  numbers behind what most people inherently know. They could toss a bit of cold water on anyone planning to run outside the two major parties, even in a year in which many people say the two party system isn’t working very well (or at all).

The Helena, Mont., based institute  studied nearly 6,200 third-party candidates over the last nine years, and found just 2 percent won.

Those who ran as independents or members of the Progressive Party, did the best among that tiny universe. Between 2001 and 2009, a total of 1,136 candidates ran as independents, and 36 won. That’s more than any other third party, the study said…although it should be noted that “independent” isn’t a third party, it’s the absence of a party. The Progressive Party had 85 candidates and won 25 seats, although 24 were in Vermont where the Progressives actually qualify as a major party.

Those running as Libertarian or Green Party candidates — the parties that are arguably the most organized, visible and vocal of the nation’s other organized political organizations — were among the least successful. The Libertarians have an awful win ratio: 2,382 candidates filed, 1 winner. The Green Party’s ratios and wins were better, but hardly something that would inspire confidence: 653 candidates, 4 wins.

The institute studied five states closeup, but Washington and Idaho weren’t among them. Too bad, because Washington has a long tradition of third party attempts, with candidates claiming allegiance to the American Heritage, Reform, Independent, Constitution, Natural Law, Green, Socialist Workers, Libertarian, Commons, America’s Third, Progressive Democrat, True Democrat and Salmon Yoga parties making appearances on partisan ballots.

And none of them won.

Idaho has a smaller crop of third party types, mainly Libertarian and Constitution parties in recent years. Although some would argue that in much of Idaho, being a Democrat is like being a member of a third party.

Otter in Bellevue, Oregon results: Wassup May 19

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter travels West today. He’s the featured speaker at the Jennifer Dunn Leadership Institute’s first annual fundraising dinner at the Bellevue Hilton. The institute is a sort of training ground for young conservative leader prospects, and Otter is likely to get a warm welcome despite recent efforts to grab businesses from Washington. Republicans, after all, think Butch was doing it for the right reasons.

Oregon had a primary last night that generated exponentiallyl less interest nationally than some other states. In the governor’s primary, former Gov. John Kitzhaber easily won the Democratic nomination and Chris Dudley, a former NBA center,  finished on top of a crowded GOP race.Incumbent Democrat Ron Wyden had no trouble in the U.S. Senate primary, and Jim Huffman, a former law professor,  topped the Republican field.

One interesting stat: Oregon’s turnout in its all-mail balloting was 41 percent. (Unlike Washington, Election Day is the final deadline for having ballots in elections officials’ hands.) Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown notes that exceeds turnout in three states with high-profile races, Kentucky which is at 33 percent, Arkansas 25 percent and Pennsylvania at 22 percent.

Since it is an otherwise slow day, here’s a look at what talking head political commentary on cable television might come to, brought to you by Onion News Network.

AWB backs return to tax-raising supermajority

The Association of Washington Business is throwing its weight behind the return of a two-thirds supermajority to raise taxes in the Legislature.

The statewide business organization urged its members Tuesday to support Initiative 1053, which was introduced even before the Legislature voted to suspend the provision. Although the proposal is still in the signature gathering stage, President Don Brunell said the group’s board was making an early endorsement to try to raise its visibility.

Welcome to Tacoma, Mr. Secretary. It rains here.

TACOMA — Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner got a Washington state trifecta today, experiencing three things for which the West Side is best known: Boeing. Microsoft.

And rain.

In an effort to emphasize the importance of exports to the nation’s fledgling recovery, Geithner planned a tour of the Port of Tacoma, specifically a large, outside area where large yellow Caterpillar tractors are lined up to be shipped to China. It was a great backdrop for a prepared speech in which he discussed an upcoming trip to China to talk about more open trade and stronger laws that protect the intellectual property of U.S. manufacturers.

Unfortunately for Geithner and Gov. Chris Gregoire, who joined him, they arrived just as a rain squall moved in, leading to what he later characterized as a “quick, soggy tour.” His speech was moved inside the port offices, where he noted that U.S. exports were  up by 20 percent in the first quarter of 2010 compared to the previous year, and were up by 50 percent to China.

Geithner said he’ll be in China later this week to talk about three important things: the pace and direction of the country’s growth, making sure American companies can compete for the Chinese market without undue restrictions and “reforming their exchange rate to reflect market forces.”

Exports are part of the reason the unemployment rate is coming down, he said. It’s part of a “rebalancing of growth” coming out of the recession: “As we in the U.S. save, invest and export more, other countries are increasing consumption.”

Washington state saw it’s first decline in unemployment numbers in 36 months, and Geithner was asked what he would say to people still out of work or worried about losing their jobs, who want to know when the recovery will help them.

The federal government does have plans to move some of the money recovered from the bailout of the large financial banks to the smaller community banks, which could provide stability for the housing market and help more homeowners. But “when?” will be depend on the individual, he said.

“The test for many people is ‘When do I have a job?’” he said. “It is going to take us time to heal what was damaged and fix what was broken.”

More fun videos: Campaign commercials

A few weeks ago, Spin Control reported on a campaign commercial for governor of Alabama,  not because we care how the race comes out, but because it contained an interesting catch phrase: “We speak English here.”

Turns out Alabama is a wealth of fun campaign commercials, compared to which Washington state is a boring desert. Here’s a couple more.

For the GOP nomination for governor, it’s apparently a bad thing to believe in evolution.

And when running for Ag Secretary, the strategy seems to be to consider Alabama as “somewhere West of the Pecos.”

Today’s fun video: Rockin against health care reform

Even if you support health care reform, this opposition video from Dem Strait  has fun visuals, a good reworking of the lyrics, and as they used to say on Bandstand, it’s got a good beat, you can dance to it.

How would you give it if Dick Clark asked  you for a rating?

Geithner in Pugetopolis, recall appeal coming: Wassup May 18

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is in the Seattle-Tacoma corridor today. He spoke to the Microsoft CEO Summit this morning (closed to the press), toured the Boeing plant in Renton, (photos allowed, but no talking to the press), and tours the Port of Tacoma this afternoon (press conference to follow).

In Tacoma, he’ll be joined by Gov. Chris Gregoire. They’ll talk international trade, which, according to sources, is kind of important around here.

Elsewhere, Jim Vaughn of Orting says he’s decided to appeal last Friday’s ruling that his effort to recall Gregoire is not legally sufficient. (Read more about the recall effort here.)

Vaughn says after his session in Thurston County Superior Court he has a better feel for what the courts may want, and will try to make improvements for the appeal, which goes directly to the state Supreme Court…and he may have learned the truth to the old axiom about a person representing himself. “I would love to have an experienced attorney help me and present an appeal to the Supreme Court for me. Maybe there is a young attorney that would like the opportunity to make the presentation and a name for him or herself.”

In the other Washington, Sen. Patty Murray is trying to get “Oil Spill Cleanup” legislation moving through the Senate. Her floor speech is on her website..

In this Washington, it’s the 30th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens Blast. The state archives is getting in on the celebration with a special exhibit in Olympia on pre-blast days. You can read more about it here.

Jacobsen joins ranks of departing Dems

OLYMPIA — Sen. Ken Jacobsen of Seattle won’t run for re-election this year.

The 28-year veteran became the fourth Democrat to announce he’s quitting when his term runs out this year: “The job has been wonderful, but at times very stressful. My high blood pressure has forced me to reassess my priorities, especiallyl after it was responsible for a brief stay in the hospital this past October.”

Jacobsen joins Sens. Joe McDermott, Darlene Fairley and Rosa Franklin in hanging it up after long careers. On the Republican side, Sen. Dale Brandland is calling it quits.

Labor endorsements given, police protest delayed: Wassup May 17

Unions in Washington state are threatening to hold back their support for some Democrats in statewide races after a couple of disappointing sessions. Over the weekend, the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO had its Committee on Political Education convention and left some significant gaps in the legislative race lineup.

Not surprisingly, all incumbent Democrats in U.S. congressional races got endorsements, as well as Craig Pridemore in the open 3rd District race and Jay Clough who is running against Republican Rep. Doc Hastings in central Washington’s 4th District.

In fact, the only congressional race without a labor endorsement is Eastern Washington’s 5th District, where incumbent Republican Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has drawn a challenger from the right, the Constitutional Party’s Randall Yearout, but a serious Democrat has yet to materialize for the race. (And one may not. It is getting extremely late.)

Labor delegates did endorse state Rep. Timm Ormsby and Democratic hopeful Andy Billig in central Spokane’s 3rd Legislative District, but otherwise ignored other Eastern Washington contests.

They voted to oppose returning the super-majority for tax increases, privatized worker’s comp, privatized liquor stores or any attempt to repeal taxes the Legislature raised last seesion, and support the proposal for an income tax — if any of them get on the ballot.

In Spokane, if you were planning to come to City Hall tonight to support independent  investigations of the city Police Department, you can stay home…for a week. The groups planning to rally before a City Council meeeting have moved their demonstration to next Monday, May 24, at 5 p.m., because the council moved the issue to next week’s agenda.

Coming Tuesday:

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is in Seattle to tour a Boeing plant and Tacoma to tour the port.

The Spokesman-Review unveils its multi media package to mark the 30th anniversary of the Mount St. Helens explosion.

Voter discontent? Let us count the ways

OLYMPIA – Anyone doubting 2010 is an extraordinary year in the body politic should consider two numbers: 77 and four.

The first is the record number of proposed initiatives filed with the secretary of state, which swamps the previous record of 60 in 2003. There are initiatives to cut taxes, raise taxes, restrict federal powers, end state programs, legalize marijuana, criminalize martial arts weapons and force schools to do a better job of teaching the Declaration of Independence and the state and federal constitutions. Oh, and trade George Washington’s face on the state seal with a tapeworm.

A wide array of political persuasions are at work, from perennial initiative sponsor Tim Eyman and his band of merry activists – Eyman’s name is on about one in five of the active and inactive initiatives filed this year – to Bill Gates Sr., who was in Spokane late last week to drum up support for a proposal to place an income tax on people who make more than $200,000 a year in exchange for dropping some existing taxes.

Many initiatives are ideas that have been kicked around the Legislature for years, such as getting the state out of the liquor store business. Others want to undo something the legislators did, such as removing the supermajority requirements for tax increases.

It’s possible that supermarkets will have to schedule petition gatherers in designated time slots next month, much the way they do Girl Scout units at cookie time.

Gates Senior, dam fixes: Wassup May 14

Bill Gates Sr., is in Spokane this evening, trying to drum up support for a proposal that would place a state income taxe on folks with annual incomes over $200,000, or couples over $400,000.

Initiative 1098, which would also cut the state property tax and make changes to the business and occupation tax, will be on the November ballot if Gates and other supporters can gather about 300,000 signatures by the end of June. He’s at the Glacier Conference Room at the Quality Inn, 110 E. 4th Ave., at 5 p.m. He’s also speaking to the Washington Education Association gathering at the Convention Center at 8 p.m.

On the other side of the state, Sen. Patty Murray,  U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott and an array of local officials are celebrating the announcement of $44 million in federal money to help shore up the Howard Hanson Dam in the Green River Valley.

And talk of Gov. Chris Gregoire being on the list of possible replacements for Elena Kagan as the White House solicitor general appear to have quieted, at least for the time being.

Billig gets Democratic nod over Apple, Chadez

Spokane County Democratic Party officials voted this week to endorse Andy Billig for the Statehouse seat now held by Democratic Rep. Alex Wood.

Billig, president of the Spokane Indians Baseball Blub, announced his candidacy last fall, before Woods announced his retirement.

Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple and social worker Louise Chadez also are running as Democrats on the August primary ballot. No Republicans have announced a run for the Third Legislative District seat, which represents central Spokane and is Eastern Washington’s most reliable Democratic district.

Billig’s endorsement doesn’t come as much of a surprise. He already had won backing from many prominent Spokane Democrats, including three of Apple’s colleagues on City Council: Richard Rush, Jon Snyder and Amber Waldref.

The county party has typically not weighed in on candidates until after primaries, but county Chair Amy Biviano said state party officials decided that the party should select candidates in response to the top-two primary system.

Candy tax update: Lege did talk about diabetes

OLYMPIA — Spin Control may have taken an unfair swipe at the Legislature on Tuesday in the preceding post when writing about reader questions regarding the candy tax.

At least one committee hearing on the tax on sweet stuff did have witnesses raising the question about whether putting a sales tax on candy was unfair to diabetics. Niki Reading, reporter and blogger for TVW’s Capitol Record, wrote to say that it came up at a Jan. 22 joint hearing of the House Finance and Health Care committees, when an early version of a candy tax bill was discussed.

That was for HB 2388, which was a short-lived proposal to levy the sales tax on candy and put the money in a special fund for public health projects. One witness did raise an objection that the tax was unfair to diabetics.

That bill never made it out of committee, and the eventual revenue bill that was put together in the special session puts the candy tax money into the general fund. So it’s hard to guess whether any of the legislators present at that Jan. 22 joint committee meeting, who were weighing their vote on the final tax package, had a momentary pause where they wondered “didn’t someone mention something about this being unfair to some people with some medical condition?”

Of course, if they had, it might not have made much difference because the Legislature’s special session coach was about to turn into a pumpkin, and there wasn’t any way to delay the vote to get a bit more research, let alone hold a public hearing.

But big thanks to Niki Reading for the information on the hearing that Spin Control may have missed (or dozed off during). And apologies to the Legislature for any unfair aspersions the previous post may have cast.


Is candy tax unfair to people with medical conditions?

OLYMPIA — Monday’s post about the taxable and tax-exempt sweets starting June 1 generated some interesting queries from readers.

One wrote to say his daughter has Type 1 diabetes, and she takes candy on a daily basis to treat her hypoglycemia. Would candy that’s taken for medical reasons be exempt?

Another called to say that people with celiac disease can’t digest grain flours, so a rule is discriminatory that doesn’t levy the tax on sweets made with grain flours — licorice is in many of the items on the exempt list — because they’re classified as food under the National Streamline Sales Tax System. Shouldn’t they be able to have tax exempt candy?

Interesting issues, because when the Legislature extended the sales tax to bottled water, it exempted those people who have a prescription for bottled water for medical purposes. And prescription drugs remain free of the sales tax.

But even though the sales tax extention to candy is in the same section as the sales tax extension to bottled water, there’s no language that exempts candy for medical purposes.

Without that language, the Department of Revenue can’t extend the exemption administratively, Mike Gowrylow, a department spokesman, said. It would have to be authorized by the Legislature at some future date.

Kind of makes you wonder if the Legislature had had some honest to gosh public hearings on the tax bill during the special session, as opposed to shuttling proposals back and forth between the Senate back offices and the House back offices, would someone have pointed out that inconsistency. Guess we’ll never know.

Pay boost unlikely for Spokane City Council

The looming $10 million deficit facing the city of Spokane for 2011 probably won’t get worse from City Council pay.

The Spokane Salary Review Commission is recommending a freeze in City Council salaries. The five-member commission voted unanimously earlier this year in favor of a freeze, but it is holding a public hearing on Wednesday to accept more public opinion on the matter.

“The commission was very much aware of the economic times,” said Chairman Hal Ellis.

In 2008 — the first year the commission met — the body increased City Council pay from $18,000 to $30,000 a year. It was the first increase since 1991. Pay for City Council President Joe Shogan increased from $40,000 to $55,000 a year.

The 2008 pay boost was approved in hopes of attracting more candidates, Ellis said. This year, the commission met with current and former elected city officials. Ellis said there was “no compelling feeling” that council members are “grossly underpaid.”

But Ellis believes the previous increase had the desired effect.

“A couple council members mentioned that by raising the salary that it did encourage them to file and run,” Ellis said.

The commission, which only meet every other year, will accept public testimony at 3 p.m. Wednesday in Conference Room 2B in Spokane City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Ellis said the commission could change its mind if its swayed by public opinion. Otherwise, the commission’s earlier vote will stand unless citizens collect enough signatures to put the decision on the November ballot. Ellis said the commission does not have the ability to lower council pay.

AWB challenges ballot title of Energy Rehab bonds

OLYMPIA — The Association of Washington Business says it will challenge the proposed ballot title for Referendum 52, the measure that asks voters to approve bonds for a half billion worth of energy retrofits at public schools and colleges.

Dubbed “Hans Bonds” during the late legislative session because they were the brainchild of Rep. Hans Dunshee, the bonds would be sold to pay for energy savings rehabilitation that would save the schools money and create jobs in the lagging construction sector of the economy. Or at least that was the pitch from Dunshee and House Democrats, who finally got the bonds past the Senate late in the special session.

But not until the legislation added a refendum clause, allowing voters to decide whether they want to pay for the bonds by making the now-temporary tax on bottled water permanent, and the source for paying off the bonds.

AWB says the ballot title language should state that very fact, and wants to add “and make the sales tax on bottled water permanent” to the end of the title. The challenge will get a Superior Court hearing laster this month.

UPDATE: Jason Mercier of the Washington Policy Center notes this afternoon that legislative Democrats can’t say they weren’t warned that the language would prompt a legal challenge. During debate on the bill, Sen.Linda Parlette, R-Wenatchee, sponsored an amendment to add the language about a permanent water tax to the required ballot title. Democratic Sens. Karen Fraser of Olympia and Lisa Brown of Spokane argued that the tax isn’t really permanent because it could be removed at the Legislature at any time.

The amendment failed 16-30. Mercier has posted a clip of the debate on his blog.

Tanker bids, plastic factories, Greek bailouts: Wassup May 11

For a plane that has been discussed for nearly a decade but never built, the next U.S. Air Force tanker continues to create “news” opportunities for politicians and PR specialists. Sen. Patty Murray joins union machinists at a rally to support the Boeing bid to sell the Pentagon a version of its 767 for a new tanker.

Meanwhile, EADS, the maker of Boeing chief rival Airbus and the only other company looking to bid on the $35 billion-plus contract, counters with a release through its PR arm KC-45 Now, that rallies don’t build planes. It has a video on its website of a new tanker that actually flies.So there, nyah. (Not that the newspaper pays me to offer advice in this little spitting match, but the next round could feature a video from Boeing that says “here’s all the tankers we’ve built for the U.S. of A. Air Force” with planes stretching back to the ‘40s, and here’s all the tankers Airbus has built for our boys and girls in blue, with a blank screen. And Airbus could follow with mug shots of folks who went to prison for dirty dealing on an earlier tanker deal, with “Would you buy a tanker from this company?”)

Elsewhere, Gov. Chris Gregoire is in Puyallup to mark the opening of the new Saint-Gobain factory, which makes special plastics and composites for aerospace and computers.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continues to knock United States participation in the International Monetary Fund’s assistance to Greece with a new column at with a cutesy headline: “My Big Fat Greek Bailout.” (In her defense, headlines are often written by someone else.)

Democrats continue to snipe at not-yet candidate Dino Rossi, this time because Politico is reporting a bank he helped start early in the last decade is under a directive from the Office of Comptroller of Currency to get more cash to shore up bad loans.


How sweet it is…probably has nothing to do with the tax

OLYMPIA — Tax protestors with a sweet tooth rejoice. You may have plenty of sweet treats to enjoy without paying a sales tax.

You may have to commit your favorite “tax-exempt” sweets to memory, though. Unless you know the ingredients, you may have trouble figuring what’s on or off the state Department of Revenue’s list of taxable candies. The department’s preliminary list is just out, and in each of the following pairs of items, one is taxable and one is exempt. Can  you guess which is which between:

Good and Plenty or Mike and Ike..

Milky Way bars or 3 Musketeers bars.

Kit-Kat bars or Hershey bars.

In each of the above pairings, the first one is exempt and the second taxable. The main difference is the use of flour in the creation of those treats, Mike Gowrylow,  a Department of Revenue spokesman said: Those that use flour aren’t candy under the law.

Many of the “not candy” items on the department’s exempt list are licorice: black or red, bits, nibbles, whips or sticks. Apparently, licorice is made with flour.

So if you always thought of that box of pink and white “Good and Plenty” as candy when you bought it at the concession stand when you were a kid attending a matinee, turns out you were wrong. And while most jelly beans are candy, and taxable, the licorice flavored assortment of Jelly Belly’s is exempt.

The department has posted a list of some 3,000 sweets and their tax status. It can be found here. 

The list is preliminary, Gowrylow said “We’re going to try to refine it through the rest of this month.

For a list of the currently exempt treats, go inside the blog


Wassup: May 10

Reaction is already starting to come in on President Obama’s nomination of Elena Kagan to the U.S. Supreme Court. Sen. Patty Murray is a thumbs up, saying Kagan “is unquestionable a highly qualilfied choice.”

Idaho’s Sen. Jim Risch is taking a wait-and-see approach: “I am a strong supporter of the rule of law and believe judges are to objectively interpret our laws, not create new ones.  Over the coming months, I will be looking closely at Solicitor General Elena Kagan’s academic and public service record and listening carefully as she goes before the Senate Judiciary Committee.” 

Reaction of another sort to news that the International Monetary Fund may be lending $321 billion as part of a package to stabilize the euro and help Greece, Portugal and Spain. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who had a guest column she co-authored run in The New York Post on Saturday, called the deal a “global TARP” that the United States can’t afford. “The Obama Admnistration needs to stop taking America down this path which may end up costing hundreds of billions of dollars.”

Meanwhile, Murray and Gov. Chris Gregoire are among those joining Boeing honchos in Mukilteo to announce the possible economic impact of Boeing getting the new tanker bid. Just a guess, but it’s probably “huge.”

Tomorrow state flags will be at half-staff to honor Master Sgt. Mark W. Coleman of Ylem, who was killed last week by an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan.


Playing the Will Rossi Run game

OLYMPIA – The favorite game among the political “experts” these days is Will Rossi Run?

It’s sort of like Trivial Pursuit without the board, but the cognoscenti award themselves colored wedges by ferreting out clues as they roll the dice and run in circles. No winners yet, except maybe the polling firms, which are cleaning up.

Depending on whose poll you like in the last fortnight, Murray is comfortably ahead or Rossi is surging ahead or they’re in a statistical dead heat. Never have so many been polled so much for so little clarity.

The fact that Rossi has come no closer to announcing his candidacy than “You never say never” discourages no one from playing the game because the Legislature is out of session, the governor’s race is two years off, most of the congressional races are thought to be shoo-ins for the incumbents, and we political reporters have columns to write and expense accounts to justify.

Oh, and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, which apparently has even less to do than West Side political reporters, calls or e-mails almost daily in an effort to scuff up Rossi before he gets in the race, if he gets in the race. . .

Law officers honored

OLYMPIA – Washington marked the deadliest year for law enforcement in generations with bag pipes and drums, prayers and speeches, and the posthumous awarding of seven Medals of Honor Friday.
Law enforcement officers from cities and counties around Washington joined state troopers and Royal Canadian Mounties in donning dress uniforms and marching past the state Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol Campus overlooking the lake and Budd Inlet to the Puget Sound. Bagpipers played “Amazing Grace,” a bugler played “Taps” and a line of seven state troopers fired three volleys.
As several hundred law enforcement officials and family members watched, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna presented medals to the families of seven officers killed in 2009, and three to officers seriously injured.

Wassup: May 7

OLYMPIA — State officials will honor slain deputies, police officers and other law enforcement types this afternoon in a ceremony at the state Peace Officers Memorial, which is north of the Temple of Justice overlooking Capitol Lake.

The annual ceremony takes on additional significance this year with the string of law officer slayings last fall on the West Side. Those names have already been added to the memorial wall.

Gov. Chris Gregoire and Attorney General Rob McKenna will be speaking at the ceremony. Weather expected to cooperate.

Congrats go out to Spokane County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin, who received the state’s Elections Employee of the Year Award at t his week’s state elections office. Other counties praised McLaughlin for his willingness to help neighboring counties on elections matters, a release from Secretary of State Sam Reed’s office said. Which makes sense because he’s always available to help news reporters with their elections questions, too.

In the other Washington, we have some catchup from late announcements yestereday:

Sen. Maria Cantwell has joined with Sen. John McCain — interesting combination, no? — to reintroduce tough rules on banks. They want to restore Glass-Steagall, a law that kept the commercial banks and the investment banks separate from 1933 to the mid 1990s. You can read more about it here.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers continued her fight against U.S. aid to Greece by way of the International Monetary Fund. You can watch her discussion of why this is a bad idea here.

And this just in: The U.S. Census Department has announced the best and worst cities for turning in their Census forms, and the winner is…


New initiatives would privatize liquor sales, outlaw martial arts weapons

OLYMPIA — Another initiative to privatize the state’s liquor business is being proposed. A group calling itself Washington Citizens for Liquor Reform filed a measure to get the state out of the liquor business but to continue to raise money from it through a percentage of the booze sold.

Also looking to give voters a chance to pass a new law is the North American Self-defense Association, which has one proposal to outlaw all martial arts weapons at schools and colleges, and another that would mandate “abduction prevention training” as part of physical education courses at public schools.

Both groups face rather daunting math for getting their proposals on the ballot.

There are less than 60 days left before the July 2 deadline for turning in signatures, and while the state requires about 242,000 valid signatures, most drives shoot for 300,000 to allow for a certain number of invalidated signers.

Even if sponsors can get the language of the initiatives checked and petitions printed by the middle of the month, they’ll have, at best, 45 days for a signature drive.That means they’ll need to collect about 6,700 signatures a day. That’s 277 an hour or 5 a minute.

“It’s a heavy lift,” said Charla Neuman, a spokeswoman for the liquor sales initiative. They’ll have paid signature gatherers because “in that amount of time, there’s no other way to do it.”

One complicating factor on liquor sales is there are two other initiatives aimed at getting the state out of the liquor stor business. The biggest difference, Neuman said, is that this proposal  ties the fee for the license to a store’s sales, rather than charging a flat rate for a license. So the more a store sells, the more the state makes.

Jim Curtis of the self-defense association, said they will rely strictly on volunteers for what he concedes is “a big push.” He has contacts with veterans groups, the self-defense and martial arts groups, and hopes to enlist some civic groups. Curtis said he has tried to interest legislators in bills that would do the same thing, but has received “the cold shoulder.”

To see all the initiatives to the people proposed thus for this year, click here to go to the Secretary of State’s website.

Wassup: May 6

OLYMPIA — Thursday is state Supreme Court decision day, and the high court handed down several rulings, including one involving pornography, the Internet and public libraries. Quick synopsis: By a 6-3 vote, you don’t have a right to surf the net for porn in a public library.

Read a story about it here, or for those really interested, read the majority opinion here, a concurring opinion here and the dissent here.

There’s also a decision involving a Spokane man’s request to own a firearm after being convicted of vehicular homicide. Quick synopsis: By a 9-0 vote, James Rivard gets his gun. Read that opinion here.

The state is releasing a study on pay scale and benefits for state employees. Early reports say most state workers make less than their counterparts in the private sector but have better benefits.

Attorney General Rob McKenna announced a $10 million settlement with drug manufacturer AstraZeneca over the marketing of Seroquel, a drug used to treat schizophrenia and manic depression. More details here.

State Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, who would like to become U.S. Sen. Don Benton, R-Washington, is airing  his first TV ads against incumbent Patty Murray.

Murray, meanwhile, is holding the first meeting of the congressional Aerospace Caucus, hosting a luncheon with U.S. Sen. Kit Bond, R-Mo., that features Air Force Secretary Michael Donley. Odds are that somewhere before dessert was served, Murray turned to Donley and said “Whose stupid idea was it to put off the selecting the bidder for tne new Air Force tanker until Nov. 12?”

And a coalition of environmental groups, commercial and sport fishermen and energy organizations introduced a plan for a process to restore salmon runs in the Snake River. They’re trying to push Murray and Washington’s other senator, Maria Cantwell, to join in the process. More information about Working Snake River for Washington can be found here.

And for your viewing pleasure, here’s Jon Stewart’s take on what the American people get:

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WA Sen Race: Rollin’ in pollin’

Washington’s U.S. Senate race may not be on most people’s radar yet. But if you’re a pollster, you’ve gotta love a race with a three-term Democratic incumbent, 10 announced Republican challengers. one potential but unannounced Republican challenger and the national political machines ready to jump into anything with the slightest provocation.

Today there’s word of an Elway Poll which has Sen. Patty Murray up 51% to 34% over Dino Rossi, who’s thinking about the race but hasn’t committed to it yet. The same survey has her up 51% to 27% over Don Benton; 50% to 24% over Clint Didier and 50% to 26% over Paul Akers.

Which is a big difference from yesterday’s Rasmussen Report poll that was:

Murray 48% Rossi 46%
Murray 52% Benton 38%
Murray 51% Didier 36%
Murray 49% Akers 35%

Which was different from the mid April SurveyUSA poll that was:

Rossi 52% Murray 42%
Murray 46% Benton 44%
Murray 46% Didier 44%
Murray 45% Akers 44%

Which was different from the late March Research 2000 poll in Daily Kos that was:

Murray 52% Rossi 41% (they didn’t do the other candidates)

Which, in turn, was different from the Moore Information poll in late January, that was:

Rossi 45% Murray 43% (also did not do the other candidates)

So take your pick, but remember when partisans start talking about “the poll results”, you have to ask “Which poll results?”

Wassup: Cinco de Mayo

With the signing of the supplemental budget and a few other bills yesterday, the state’s legislative business officially drew to a close. To get a list of all the laws the Legislature made in the two sessions, check out the this page on the Secretary of State’s website.

Here’s Jon Stewart’s look at yesterday.

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And a Cinco de Mayo bonus video:

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Supplemental budget signed (most of it, anyway)

Gov. Chris Gregoire shakes hands with House Budget Chairwoman Kelli Linville and offers Linville the ceremonial pen after signing the supplemental budget.

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a new spending plan Tuesday designed to close an estimated $2.8 billion gap in the state’s operating budget with what she said were a “fair mix” of cutting staff and programs, taking federal money and raising taxes.
Before the ink was dry, the Republicans’ top budget expert criticized it as relying on taxes rather than needed government reforms, and an analyst for a conservative think tank said the state was placing too much trust in Congress to come through with money for medical programs.
The budget, technically a revision for the fiscal biennium that runs through June 2011, closes or shrinks five state institutions, including the Pine Lodge Correctional Center for Women in Medical Lake.
Gregoire used the veto pen to remove some sections, including an exemption from increased liquor charges the Legislature approved for restaurants and bars, a commission to study public school district consolidations and legislative demands that various state agencies produce reports.

Murray on new tanker bid: Enough of ‘Endless delays’

Sen. Patty Murray’s staff has apparently peeled her off the ceiling enough to get a comment on reports the Pentagon will delay awarding the bid for a new Air Force aerial tanker yet still again. To wit:

“These endless delays come at the expense of our men and women in uniform, American workers, and our economy. I want to hear directly from the Pentagon on why we are again delaying this contract for a company that has had ample time to bid and compete. I also want to know why we continue to bend over backwards to accommodate an illegally subsidized foreign company.
“Concession after concession has been made to keep Airbus at the table. Yet we have seen no bid and no sign that they are willing to play by the rules. In fact, all we have seen are delay tactics and repeated efforts to gain U.S. market share and undercut American workers.
“Boeing’s workers have the know-how and product to build these tankers.  They are ready to compete.  It’s time to stop playing the waiting game and to move forward with getting these tankers into the hands of our men and women in uniform.”

Wassup: May 4

Gov. Chris Gregoire is scheduled to sign th supplemental operating budget at noon today, or at least most of it. She hinted last week that there were some aspects of it she might line out with the veto pen.

Also up for signing is the supplemental capital budget and a “jobs” bill that retrofits schools and other public buildings to make them more energy efficient.

Expect some not so happy reactions later this morning from Washington’s congressional delegation regarding the Pentagon’s announcement that it will not award the bid for the Air Force’s new tanker until Nov. 12. The Defense Department had previously said it would push back the submission date to allow Airbus-maker EADS to submit a bid but award the contract worth an estimated $35 billion in September. The tanker program has been so plagued with SNAFUs and delays that no one should be surprised, but congressional staffers may need to peel their bosses off the ceiling before getting comments suitable for a family newspaper or FCC regulations.

The federal government is announcing that Inland Northwest Health Services in Spokane will receive a $15 million grant from the Health and Human Services Department to “focus on increasing preventive services for diabetic patients in rural areas by extending Health Information Exchange and establishing anchor institutions in close proximity to remote clinics that will promulgate successes in health IT supported care coordination.”

And here’s Jon Stewart’s quick look at yesterday:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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City Council rejects ‘Do Not Mail’ concept

Post Office employees are fighting back against a proposal to allow people to “opt out” from receiving bulk mail.

On Monday, the Spokane City Council rejected a non-binding resolution asking the state Legislature to create a registry that would allow people to decline bulk mail.

Spokane Postmaster Karen Fairlee and several postal workers testified against the idea, as did a few owners of local print shops.

Murray video smacks at Wall Street, GOP

Sen. Patty Murray created a link for voters to watch legislation designed to rein in Wall Street — well, her legislation anyway — and posted this video on her official Senate website of a speech on financial reform.

It’s not as well-produced as the Didier video below, but then, it’s not a campaign piece. Wink, wink.

Before the power goes out, read this

Anticipating that some power might be knocked out by high winds, the ever-helpful folks at Spokane City Hall sent out some tips, which Spin Control is happy to provide despite the obvious underlying irony that when you most need them, you won’t be able to read them here.

So read now and commit to memory:



Expected high winds could lead to power outages, other street obstructions



With high winds in the forecast for today, here’s a reminder for motorists:  When the power’s out, everybody stops.  Motorists should use caution and treat a signalized intersection without power like a four-way stop, allowing vehicles to take turns.

 City Street crews are monitoring weather conditions closely today.  They are prepared to deploy generators to busy intersections, if needed, but they note that citizens should be prepared for dark signals as well as the possibility of downed power lines and trees blocking the roadway.

 Don’t approach a downed power line; call 9-1-1 for assistance.  To report a tree blocking traffic, call 625-7733.

Don’t quit your day job, Mr. President

President Obama jokes around at the Washington Correspondents dinner, gets some laugh, could use a bit of work on delivery in spots.

Soda tax exemption fell flat

OLYMPIA – Not to be a nag about the value of public hearings for important stuff government wants to do to us, but legislators’ penchant for closed-door, back-room discussions of the tax plan they passed may have bit them in the posterior.

Or more appropriately, bit them in the soda bottlers.

The tax on soda pop goes up 2 cents per 12-ounce can on July 1. Among all the taxes considered by the Legislature this year, the pop tax got the least public airing. There were no committee hearings on the pop tax comparable to some other taxes in the plan that passed – or even compared to some that didn’t pass and were never gonna pass, like Sen. Rosa Franklin’s state income tax proposal.

Gov. Chris Gregoire suggested a soda tax early in the session, but it didn’t bubble up in the Legislature until the final days, when word leaked out the weekend before the special session ended. The state’s bottlers and distributors stormed the Capitol on that Friday and Saturday, but there was no bill to look at. Instead, they got assurances of a “break,” with the first $10 million in sales exempt from the tax.

“Every one of my legislators said, ‘You’re going to be exempt,’ ” Tim Martin, president of the Washington Beverage Association, said recently.

No one outside the handful of legislators and governor’s staffers negotiating the budget saw the wording of the bill until about noon on the session’s last day, and if they’re honest, some legislators will admit they didn’t read the tax bill before voting on it that night.

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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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