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Spin Control

Archive for June 2011

No need to sing Auld Lang Syne

Happy new fiscal year, Washingtonians.

Forget about making resolutions, but remember to get a new tab for your boat, or a Discover Pass if you plan to be spending time in state parks. If you’re a state employee, your paycheck gets smaller starting today.

Some restaurant owners get a break, shoppers who come down from Canada don’t. The state’s two-year budgeting cycle starts today, although many program cuts the Legislature approved to make that budget balance will be phased in…

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

Get while the getting is good

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is ending her term as president of the National Governor's Assocation and starting her term as chairman of the Western Governors Association.

That sounds a bit backwards, going from the national to the regional, but remember that Gregoire was picked for the NGA in November to fill out the term of West Virginia's Joe Manchin, after he was elected to the Senate. So that wasn't the normal ascension to the top.

In any case, her first big initiative at the Western Governors Association is to boost tourism, recreation and conservation around these here parts, out where buffalo roam and the deer and the antelope play.

“Many of our friends and neighbors have lost their connection to the land just beyond the city limits —  especially the younger generation and poorer, inner city residents,” she said at the WGA annual meeting in Coeur d'Alene. The initiative will “help restore that connection,” she said.

The initiative has a slogan, as any good initiative must.

Get Out West!

The exclamation point comes with the slogan, it wasn't added just now for emphasis. Providing the correct punctuation is probably a good thing because with different punctuation, and varying inflection, one could convey different meanings entirely.

Get…Out West. Get Out! West? Get out, West. Get. Out West.

Punctuation was one of the problems with a slogan Washington had for a brief time, a few years back: Say WA. Too many people interpeted as Say WA?

OK, so that was a minor problem with Say WA, the bigger problem was the slogan itself. But still.

Wyman running for Sec State

Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman announces 2012 campaign for Secretary of State.

OLYMPIA — After waiting a respectable 48  hours after her old boss got out of the 2012 Secretary of State race, Thurston County Auditor Kim Wyman got in it Thursday.

Wyman told a press gaggle in Olympia she would be running to replace Sam Reed, who also preceded her as Thurston County Auditor. She said she wants to modernize the voter registration by moving from paper registration to a more computer-based system, one that would eventually jibe with other states, allowing for better checks of voter rolls across state lines.

She said she has few disagreements with Reed, who is retiring after 12 years in the post. She doesn't agree with him that all ballots in the state's vote-by-mail system should be in elections officials' hands by 8 p.m. on Election Night to be counted. She would let the ballots continue to be received and counted as long as they are mailed by then, as the law now allows, but thinks the delays in reaching a final count could be reduced by making the system more efficient.

Wyman said she doesn't agree with the Legislature's decision to take money set aside for a Heritage Center in Olympia to help keep the Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane and the State History Museum in Tacoma open. That decision has put the planned Heritage Center on hold.

“I was disappointed they chose to sweep the funding for the Heritage Center,” she said. “You've robbed Paul to pay Peter. But the Legislature has the ability to do that.”

The state doesn't have a widespread problem with illegal immigrants and other ineligible residents registering to vote, but it does have to address a “perception” that problem exists, Wyman said. It's unlikely that most illegal immigrants would  walk into a government agency to register to vote and risk being caught and deported, she said.

Wyman, 48, was the Thurston County elections manager before being appointed county auditor in 2001 when  Reed was elected to the state job. She has held the auditor's post ever since, with her last re-election in 2010, and currently is the only Republican in county office in Thurston County.

TPM: Wednesday in 100 seconds

If you took yesterday off from the news, here's what you missed, courtesy of the folks at Talking Points Memo.

Lampert suggests placing bounties on squirrels

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Barbara Lampert’s top priorities

Mayoral candidate Barbara Lampert is lucky Spokane's famous yellow-bellied marmots don't vote.

At the first significant mayoral debate of the election season, Lampert listed controlling Spokane's varmint population among her priorities.

“Varmints bring disease,” Lampert said Tuesday at the forum sponsored by the nonprofit group Sustainable Resources INW. “Let's create a city plan to control pests and rodents.”

Lampert said in an interview on Wednesday that the city needs to reduce the population of squirrels, crows, marmots, skunks and potentially other rodents and animals.

“Children are being dive-bombed by crows. Children are being bitten by squirrels,” she said. “I don't think it's right in civilization for pests to have the upper hand.”

Obama has Seattle Storm over to White House

President Barack Obama, fulfilling the number one presidential duty of congratulator-in-chief, had the WNBA champion Seattle Storm over to the White House this afternoon  for some high fives and kind words.

He introduced the coach, joked around with the players and talked about how he sweated his stint as a coach for daughter Sasha's team. “Nothing gets me more stressed,” he said.

(Not Afghanistan? Not Libya? Not the economy? Wow, those kids must be playing in a tough league.)

Joining the gathering were some other Washington state folks who hang out in the other Washington, former Governor/current Commerce Secretary/future Ambassador Gary Locke, Deputy HUD Secretary Ron Simms and Sen. Patty Murray. The Storm didn't make the trip just to have their picture taken in the Rose Garden; they held a basketball clinic for some inner city kids in D.C.

The White House was kind enough to send out a full transcript of the event. You can read it inside the blog.

Ladenburg: Sup Ct yes, AG no

Former Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg says he's made up his mind on what state office he wants to seek in 2012 and it's…

State Supreme Court justice.

Not state attorney general.

Ladenburg's campaign operation sent out word that he is shutting down his “exploratory committee” for AG, and starting up a campaign committee for the high court. One reason, he says, is that hundreds of lawyers around the state have urged him to run for the court “because of my broad experience in law.” Ladenburg was Pierce County prosecutor before he was county executive.

Inslee says ‘new blood’ needed in Olympia

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Jay Inslee on gay marriage
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Jay Inslee on North Spokane freeway

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee appeared to criticize his fellow Democrats when introducing his campaign for governor to Spokane on Tuesday.

“Frankly, we need some new blood in Olympia,” Inslee said in his speech. “Having not been in Olympia, I think I'm in pretty good shape to bring a little new blood to Olympia and stop some of the ossification that has happened there.”

Democrats control the state House, state Senate and governor's office.

Besides highlighting his time outside Olympia, he also stressed his time outside the Puget Sound.

“Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have a governor who's lived outside the shadow of the Space Needle for once?” Inslee said.

Inslee, who lives on Bainbridge Island, lived near Yakima when he first served in Congress in the early 1990s. 

Sam Reed to retire after 2012

Sam Reed says he won't run for re-election at a press conference today.

OLYMPIA — Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed is calling it quits after three terms in that office and more than 34 as an elected official.

Reed, a Spokane  native and a leader in the moderate wing of the state Republican Party, said today he will retire at the end of  his term rather than seek re-election in 2012 as the state's chief elections officer, archivist and business registrar.

During his term, he saw the state go from poll-site balloting to vote-by-mail elections and oversaw the recount of the 2004 gubernatorial race, one of the closest statewide contests in U.S. history, which Democrat Chris Gregoire won after two recounts with a margin of 133 votes out of more than 2.8 million ballots cast.

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

Council approves loan to help stop raw sewage from entering Spokane River

Spokane will borrow more than $1 million from the state to help prevent untreated sewage from spilling into the Spokane River.

The City Council on Monday agreed to accept a low-interest loan from the state Department of Ecology to pay for a combined sewage overflow tank already under construction near the T.J. Meenach Bridge.

The project is one of many that that will add up to an estimated $300 million through 2017, the deadline that’s been set for the city to stop nearly all discharges of raw sewage into the river.

Much of Spokane’s south side has storm drains that flow into the sanitary sewage system. When it rains, that system becomes overburdened and sewage flows to the river without being treated. To prevent that from occurring, the city is installing a series of overflow tanks to capture excess sewage that can flow to the treatment plant as capacity allows.

City officials say they likely will seek a bond to pay for most of those projects. The construction of the tanks has been cited as a significant reason for recent and proposed sewage fee increases that could make monthly sewage bills hit $55 in 2013, up from about $33 in 2010.

Spokane mayoral candidates to discuss ‘green’ business

Spokane voters can get an early look at their choices for mayor Tuesday night at a candidate forum focused on environmentally friendly businesses.

Four of the five candidates for mayor will be at the candidate forum sponsored by Sustainable Resources INW, a nonprofit that assists businesses to make changes that save money while helping the environment, said Susanne Croft, executive director of the organization.

Incumbent Mary Verner, David Condon, Mike Noder and Barbara Lampert will attend. Robert Kroboth has said he won’t participate in any candidate debate.

Croft, who worked as Verner’s sustainability coordinator in 2008, will moderate the debate. She said most the questions will be posed by the audience.

“We really don't take a stand on sustainability as a political issue,” Croft said. “It's a topic of community concern just like poverty is.”

The hour-long forum will start at 6 p.m. Tuesady at the Community Building, 35 W. Main Ave. 

It’s official (if unsurprising): Inslee’s in

U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee officially got into the 2012 governor's race today, making the announcement at a morning press conference in Seattle and following up with another campaign stop in Yakima.

He'll be in Spokane, Vancouver and Tacoma on Tuesday. The Spokane event is scheduled for 4 p.m. at McKinstry, 850 E. Spokane Falls Blvd.

Inslee's entrance has been so well-known and long choreographed that The Spokesman-Review published an “announcement of the announcement” story last week.

Today we'll tell you some of the reaction, although that, too, is unsurprising. Democrats were magnanimous in their praise, Republicans pointed in their criticism. Here's a sampling:

Kirby Wilbur, Washington state Republican Party chairman: “Congressman Inslee has been in public office since the 1980’s, raising taxes and running up government spending,. The voters of Washington state will reject his out-of-touch politics again, just like they did in 1996 when he last ran for governor.”

(Election trivia 1: Inslee finished third among Democrats, and fifth overall in a 15-person primary that year.)

Dwight Pelz, Washington state Democratic Party chairman: “”With his laser focus on growing jobs, and strong base support from representing both sides of the mountain, Jay Inslee is the automatic front-runner for the Democratic nomination.  He has more than what it takes to become our state's next chief executive.”

(Election trivia 2: Inslee was once the representative for Central Washington's 4th Congressional District. He held that position for one term 1993-94, before losing to current occupant Doc Hasting. Inslee won the 1st District seat in 1998.)

Pelz also called Inslee “the automatic front-runner for the Democratic nomination.” At this point, he seems to be the only runner, but perhaps that's being overly pedantic.

To see the full versions of these and other Inslee-related press releases, go inside the blog.

Redrawing the lines: How the commissioner districts stack up

Here's some extra detail on Spokane County Commissioner Districts developed for Sunday's story. For a larger version, click on the link below. (Individual population numbers are in each precinct.)

To read the story, go inside the blog.


Redrawing the lines: How council districts stack up

This map provides some extra details for Sunday's story on local redistricting. For a larger version, click on the link below. (The population numbers are in each precinct.)

To read the story, go inside the blog.


Sunday Spin: Mainstream GOP may have been hot dogging Inslee money

Washington Republicans tried last week to wring every last drop out of a connection between the state and Rep. Anthony Weiner's bad behavior, however tenuous it was.
Earlier in the month, the state GOP criticized Jay Inslee, a Washington congressman who would like to be governor, for accepting a $1,000 contribution from Weiner in 2000. Inslee should “send back the tainted money”, Republicans said.
Rather than give the money back to Weiner, Inslee's campaign announced it would donate it to Planned Parenthood.
Not good enough, a group known as the Mainstream Republicans said last week. . .

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

High rivers a blow to wind farms

When the wind is blowing and the Columbia River is flowing, wind turbine operators in Washington have a problem they are looking to France and Germany for help.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who is in Europe for a 10-day trade mission, said she met Thursday with the chief executive officer of AREVA, a French firm that operates wind farms around the Tri-Cities. The problem of wind power and hydropower peaking at the same time has been particularly bad this year, she said.

“There are concerns about BPA shutting down wind power because of excess hydropower,” she said.

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

Help Spokane spend money on streets and sidewalks

Spokane leaders are seeking applications for a new board to oversee the use of the city’s new $20 vehicle tab tax.

The Citizens Transportation Advisory Board will have seven members. It was modeled after the Citizens Street Advisory Committee, which oversees projects paid for by the city’s 2004 street bond.

The board will include one member each from the Citizens Street Advisory Committee, the Pedestrian, Traffic and Transportation Committee of the Community Assembly, and the Bicycle Advisory Board. They will be appointed for one year.

The remaining four new members will be appointed for three years.

Applications are due on Monday and are available here. The forms also available at the City Council office at Spokane City Hall, 808 W. Spokane Falls Blvd.

City loses $500,000 grant for whitewater park

OLYMPIA — A state board in charge of money for recreational projects rejected a plea from supporters of a whitewater park in the Spokane River and refused Thursday to extend a $500,000 grant. The project will probably take longer than supporters estimate, and the city should return when more prep work has been done, board members said.

In a 6-1 vote, the Recreation and Conservation Funding Board agreed with a staff decision in April not to extend the expiring grant. Board members rejected arguments that doing so would kill the momentum for the project; instead they said the project should complete an environmental impact statement and obtain needed permits, then return to the board to ask for the grant to be awarded a second time.

Spokane City Parks Director Leroy Eadie said after the vote that the next step will be to “go back and regroup” and try to find the $75,000 to $80,000 needed for the EIS. It might be possible to pay for that study with another grant obtained by Friends of the Falls: “This is a little bump in the road. This project's had a lot of bumps in the road.”

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

League schedules candidate forums

The League of Women Voters will bring Spokane's candidates head to head — or in some cases head to head to head to head — next week as they tape forums to be played through July and into August in advance of the primary.

The league's Spokane chapter has scheduled three hours of forums starting at 5 p.m. on June 30.

First up will be the mayor and council president candidates, followed at 6:30 p.m. by the Council District 1 candidates. (The other two districts only have two candidates each, so they don't have primaries.)

A school board forum will start at 7:30 p.m.

For a complete listing of the broadcast times on City Cable 5, check inside the blog.

City to review council boundaries

The City of Spokane is looking for three people willing to review its council district boundaries and decide whether they need to be adjusted as a result of the 2010 Census.

Think that's you? You have until July 1 to decide. Here's the criteria:

You must:
Be a registered voter.
Be a resident of the city for at least two years.

You can't:
Be a lobbyist now, or any time in the past year.
Campaign for public office, be part of someone else's campaign or contribute to a campaign while on the board
Serve on the City Council or campaign for a council seat for two  years after the plan takes effect.

If the lines are redrawn, they won't matter to this year's campaign. They'll be used in the 2013 city elections.

Board members will be nominated by the mayor and approved by the council. Council President Joe Shogan and a councilmember to be named later will serve in advisory capacity on the board.

And before you ask, no there's no pay involved.

Local women living longer

Women in Spokane County can expect to live about a year longer than women a quarter century ago, and Kootenai County women about two years longer.

Those averages are contained in a new study by the University of Washington which shows that while women in some parts of the United States have slightly lower life expectancy, those in Washington, Idaho and most of the Northwest have slightly higher life expectancy.

After studying data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the UW developed a county-by-county map that shows the change in life expectancy across the nation between 1987 and 2007. It shows a decline in life expectancy for women in 313 counties, mostly in the South, Southern Midwest and Appalachia.That's the largest decline since the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918.

 Declines in life expectancy for men went down in only six counties.

To see the map, or read the analysis, click here.

Baxter teeing up the ball

State Sen. Jeff Baxter is holding a campaign kickoff Wednesday night at the Mirabeau Park Hotel.

This may seem a bit late, considering Baxter announced more than a month ago he was running for the seat to which he was appointed after Bob McCaslin retired. And he filed for the seat about two weeks ago. In football, after all, the kickoff happens at the beginning of the game, not sometime in the middle of the first quarter.

Regardless, he'll have appearances by some name Republican supporters, including Sens. Mike Hewitt of Walla Walla, the Senate minority leader, Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane and Rep. Matt Shea of the Spokane Valley. It starts at 6:30 p.m.

Name supporters are a factor in this race between Baxter and former state Rep. and District Judge Mike Padden, who has the support of state Rep. Larry Crouse and former state Rep. Lynn Schindler, as well as McCaslin's endorsement before he died.

Both candidates are Republicans. There's no primary, not because of that, but because there's only two of them in the race.

Today’s fun video: Bri Wi for prez?

This is clever, although one is left with the nagging feeling that the makers have too much time on their hands.

Mainstream GOP to Inslee: That money’s tainted

Washington Republicans are trying to wring every last drop out of any connection Washington may have to Anthony Weiner's bad behavior, however tenuous it may be.

Last week the state GOP criticized Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., for accepting a $1,000 contribution from Weiner, saying the current congressman and likely gubernatorial candidate should “send back the tainted money.”

The fact that the contribution was made in 2000 wasn't mentioned in the press release, although it could be discerned from following the helpful link to Weiner's contribution history with the Federal Elections Commission

Rather than give the money back to Weiner, Inslee's campaign announced it was donating it to Planned Parenthood.

Not good enough, the Mainstream Republicans complained today. Two members of the moderate wing, who identify themselves as pro-choice, accused Inslee of trying to “clean up his mess” by giving the “tainted money” to Planned Parenthood. He shoulda gived it to a food bank or the Red Cross, they said…

Gov at Paris Air Show: Part Deux

Seattle will be the site of a  “summit” on aerospace suppliers next March and a Bellingham company will expand to reconfigure planes for an Austrian airline, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

Deals for both were struck during the second day of the Paris Air Show, which Gregoire is attending to boost the chances of selling more Boeing planes and the products of some 650 aerospace manufacturers and suppliers in Washington.

The summit, to be hosted by Boeing and the state Commerce Department, is expected to draw about 600 businesses and be the first of its kind in North America, Gregoire said in a telephone press conference.

“All in all, it was a pretty good day for us,” she said.

The governor also defended the 10-day trip out of the state — she stopped in Spain before Paris to talk with the company that will dig the tunnel for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement in Seattle, and will travel to Hamburg to talk with BMW and other companies making carbon-fiber parts at a new Moses Lake facility — as worth the $40,000 price tag for herself, two staff members and three representatives of the Commerce Department.

“I'm here promoting our state,” she said. “We are not going to come out of this recession with me sitting in my office.”

She didn't attend the last Paris Air Show in 2009, “and I took criticism for not going.”

She met with top executives from Boeing, lobbying for Washington to be the site for any expansion of the company's 737 jetliner production. She also met with the American chief executive officer of Boeing's aviation industry rival Airbus, which also buys parts from aviation suppliers in Washington. “I made clear to them I fully appreciate we're the Number Two state in the nation with (companies) supplying to Airbus.”

Asked if that meeting was awkward, considering she helped lead the lobbying for Boeing to beat out Airbus for a U.S. Air Force contract to build a new refueling tanker to replace the KC-135, Gregoire said she made clear she was rooting for “my home team.” 

“We didn't talk very much about the tanker at all,” she said.

Bonjour. Je m’appelle Chris. Je suis la gouverneur de Washington.

Gov. Chris Gregoire is in Paris this week, talking up Boeing at the biennial air show and talking up Washington as a place for the aerospace giant’s next assembly line.
In a telephone press conference after the first day of the Paris Air Show, where she helped open the state’s pavilion, Gregoire said she’s trying to boost all 650 of the state’s aerospace manufacturers and suppliers, not just its biggest one.. .

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

Kearney withdraws from Spokane City Council race, endorses Jones

The race for a City Council seat representing Northwest Spokane already is down to two.

Karen Kearney, chairwoman of the Balboa South Indian Trail Neighborhood Council, late last week withdrew her candidacy for the seat currently held by Councilman Steve Corker, who is running for City Council president.

The remaining candidates are Steve Salvatori, owner of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center; and Joy Jones, program manager of Mentoring Children of Promise, a youth program run by Goodwill Industries.

Kearney said she decided to withdraw because of “family health issues.”

“Due to increases in demands upon my time outside of the electoral process, I cannot devote the time required for a successful campaign,” she said.

Today’s fun video: When jokes fall flat

The Republican Leadership Conference invited a Barack Obama impersonator to provide a bit of comic relief at a meeting last week, and he fell a bit flat.

Actually, a bit flat may be understating it. Obama himself might have received a better response.

Sunday Spin: When 2012 encroaches on 2011

Turning on the television Monday evening created a sudden moment of panic. Had I slept, Rip Van Winkle-like for months and awoke in January 2012?
Seven Republican presidential candidates were on a stage in New Hampshire, taking questions from news media types and citizens, with panels of pundits dissecting their every utterance. Surely, the presidential election wasn’t some 17 months away.
But it is, and a GOP presidential debate was on. This was actually the second GOP presidential debate, although the first one had fewer debaters and got less attention because, presumably, May 2011 was way too early for serious candidates to have announced their campaigns.
This is not to complain about the ever-lengthening timeline for the presidential race, which other people do better, elsewhere. A clip from the Daily Show, which offers some of the best political satire around, can be found inside the blog, and probably says it best.
Rather, it’s to warn of an insidious corollary…

Eyman was on good behavior

OLYMPIA — Earlier in the week, Spin Control mentioned that inveterate initiative sponsor and sometime gubernatorial critic Tim Eyman would be attending the final bill signing ceremony that included all those little bills — the operating budget, the capital budget, workers compensation reform, government streamlining.

Spin Control might also have implied that some antics were expected, considering Eyman had in previous appearances made some gestures that signified he didn't much like a particular bill while posing for the ceremonial post-signing photo.

It seems only fair to note that Eyman was what mom would have called a good guest Wednesday. Not only did he not give anything a thumbs down, stick out his tongue or make rabbit ears behind Gov. Chris Gregoire during photos, he brought her a bouquet of flowers.

It would be safe to say Gregoire was surprised, and touched.

He was around when Gregoire signed the budget and said she was not vetoing a shift of money from the state auditor's account that Brian Sonntag said could affect his ability to do performance audits. She said she didn't agree with the shift, and will watch it carefully but “I'm not worried about the Legislature turning its back on perfromance audits.”

Later he called to say that while he was disappointed that she didn't line-item veto that piece of the budget, he thought the Legislature essentially left Gregoire with no choice in the matter, and that they should be blamed, not her.

Gregoire in Spain, checking out tunnel

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire's office is providing daily updates of her itinerary as she makes her way to the Paris Air Show, where she'll be plugging those big flying metal things folks make in various parts of the state.

Today's stop is Spain, where she's meeting with the honchos of Dragados, the company hired to dig the tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, providing opponents in Seattle don't find a way to stop it. To check out their work, Dragados officials are showing her a tunnel they bored in Madrid. Folks from the U-dub met with folks from the U-Madrid to set up an exchange program that will result in hundreds of Huskey students teaching English in Spanish high schools, and likely convincing them to wear purple on the last Saturday in November when the Apple Cup is played.

Tomorrow she meets with Iberdrola, a company that operates wind farms in Washington state, then heads for Paris after tapas, paella and sangria.

OK, we made the menu items up. For all we know, she's having burgers and fries with a Diet Coke.

The state has a “press kit” for the Paris Air Show. Interested? You can see it by clicking here.

Revenue outlook a little worse; Budget reserve outlook even more so

OLYMPIA – The state’s most likely revenue outlook for the next two years dropped slightly Wednesday as the state’s chief economist revised his projections down about $183 million because of what he calls a “soft patch” in the recovery.

The state should collect $31.603 billion in its general fund to spend on a wide array of programs, services and salaries, Arun Raha said, or about sixth-tenths of 1 percent less than the revenue projected in March…

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

On the Web: A Rep. Weiner Timeline

Now that Rep. Anthony Weiner has resigned, we can only hope that the double entendre and just plain silly headlines will stop in the next 24 hours or so.

For a look back at a timeline of some of the worst jokes at Weiner's expense (which is not to say he didn't deserve it, but still), interersted folks can click here.

In other action from Weds. bills signing

Gov. Chris Gregoire congratulates Sen. Mike Baumgartner on the passage of his government consolidation bill just before she signs it.

OLYMPIA — All the political infighting, negotiating and debating of the last weeks of the special session were essentially condensed Wednesday with bill signings for more than a dozen pieces of legislation.

That meant that some t hings that generated much angst and several stories during the 105-day regular session and the 30-day special session got fairly short shrift Wednesday as Gov. Chris Gregoire signed what is either the Legislature's crowning bipartisan achievement or its shining example of economic irresponsibility, the 2011-13 general operating budget.

But before Gregoire signed the budget, she signed into law the revisions to the workers compensation system that allow for voluntary structured settlements for folks who get hurt on the job, an expansion of family planning services, restrictions on the amount of time a family can receive temporary aid, a revamp of the Disability Lifeline and a study of the possible leasing of the liquor distribution system.

She also signed what turned out to be the last bill passed  in the session, SB5931, which was Spokane Republican Sen. Mike Baumgartner's bill to streamline government by combining several departments like General Administration, printing and information services into a single Department of Enterprise Services. agencies.

“Now we'll implement it, and we'll implement it well, right everybody?” she asked state officials gathered for the signing.

When she got a tepid assent, she repeated “RIGHT, EVERYBODY?” and got stronger agreement.

Baumgartner made the trip over for the bill signing and was all smiles, although it's not clear if it was more because his bill passed or his wife, Eleanor Baumgartner, just had their first child less than a week earlier.

Their son, Conrad Michael Augustine Baumgartner, was born June 6 at Sacred Heart Medical Center.

Stuckart missed deadline; former treasurer says PDC lost form

Spokane City Council president candidate Ben Stuckart missed a state deadline for filing a campaign finance report by more than two months.

The mistake was quickly fixed once the Public Disclosure Commission informed Stuckart that he was late, and a penalty is unlikely, said Lori Anderson, PDC spokeswoman.

The state requires candidates to file a “personal financial affairs statement” (calld the F-1 form) within two weeks of raising or spending money on a campaign or declaring a candidacy. Stuckart entered the race March 1. The PDC didn't receive his personal financial disclosure form until June 1, though other required forms were received on time.

Stuckart's campaign manger Jessica Anundson said last week that Stuckart filled out the form in a timely manner and gave it to his first campaign treasurer, Amy Biviano, with other forms. But Biviano didn't “submit it with everything else,” Anundson said.

“We thought it was filed until the PDC called us,” she said.

But Biviano, who said she left the Stuckart campaign to work on Spokane Mayor Mary Verner's reelection bid, said this week that she sent the form on time and that if there was a problem, it occurred after she sent the forms.

“The campaign did follow the rules,” said Biviano, former chairwoman of the Spokane County Democratic Party. “It sounds like it was lost.”

Anderson, of the PDC, said she couldn't completely rule out the possibility of the PDC making a mistake with the form, but said it is unlikely. Paperwork is scanned into the system as soon as it arrives. The only possibility is that it was mislabeled when it was scanned. But each document and label is doublechecked by a second employee, she said.

Today’s fun video: Is this the way you feel about 2012 campaigning?



OK, I admit I watched much of the GOP presidential debate on Monday, because, well, it's sort of my job.

But the whole set up — New Hampshire, seven candidates, town hall meeting style questions, a full phalanx of talking head analysts parsing every word — did have me checking the calendar to make sure that I hadn't slept Rip Van Winkel-style through 2011 and awakened in January 2012.

Truth be told, I had a similar “What year is this again?” feeling when folks in Washington started announcing in the last week runs and non-runs for various statewide executive offices on the 2012 ballot.  And some of the full-time political geeks who do campaigns for a living admitted similar feelings in conversations.

So I gotta wonder, how does the rest of America — you know, the real people who have lives and  jobs and other things to occupy their minds — feel about presidential debates nearly 18 months before an election? The Daily Show may have captured it best.

Budget signing today

OLYMPIA — After about 135 days of fretting and arguing and nearly two weeks of perusing, Washington's 2011-13 Operating Budget and Capital Budget are set to be signed this afternoon.

Gov. Chris Gregoire has an official signing ceremony at 2:30 p.m. for the budgets and some other bills passed in the closing hours of the special session. She could line-item veto parts of the bills — some folks are urging her to knock the emergency clause out of a proposal to seek bids on getting the state out of the wholesale liquor distribution biz, under the theory that voters may get a chance to take the state completely out in November, and there's no real emergency here. She's also being asked to veto cuts to the performance audit system.

Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman has promised (threatened?) to attend. In past years, he's stood behind the governor and made thumb's down gestures, or scarfed up several “signing” pens, even though he's been opposed to the specific bill being signed.

Good times…

Dunn in the AG race

OLYMPIA — King County Councilman Reagan Dunn officially entered the 2012 race for state attorney general Tuesday a post opening up because current occupant Rob McKenna is running for governor.

Dunn, a Republican, was welcomed to the race King County Councilman Bob Ferguson, who got in the race in February. Being a Democrat, Ferguson had no reason to wait for the GOP incumbent to announce he was trying to move up. But won't those county council meetings be fun?

Dunn has lined up GOP endorsements from McKenna, former AG Ken Eikenberry and several former U.S. attorneys including Jim McDevitt and Bill Hyslop.

His announcement statemment, as well as Ferguson's “welcome” statement, can be found inside the blog.

Dick Morris at Fairgrounds Saturday

Political consultant, commentator, author and FOX news contributor Dick Morris will be at the Spokane County Fairgrounds Saturday for the Freedom Foundation's “Stand Up for Freedom” celebration.

The Freedom Foundation, a conservative think tank, is also bringing former Seattle Seahawk Mack Strong in for the event, which starts at 11 a.m. and will include music, a meet and greet and a book signing by Morris.

Cost: $10 for foundation members, $20 for non-members.

The gravelly voiced Morris was once a campaign strategist for President Bill Clinton, but was fired in 1996 for letting a prostitute listen in on a phone conversation with Clinton. He became a columnist, commentator and blogger and vocal critic of Hillary Clinton. His latest book, “Revolt, A Patriot's Guide”, describes ways to “defeat Obama and repeal  his socialist agenda.”

Today’s fun video: Candidate dis n dat

It wasn't all serious budget discussion and Obama bashing Monday night at the GOP presidential debate.

Flag Day video

It's June 14th. Spin Control doesn't have a mounting bracket to hold a flag pole, so we hope this will take its place.

Gregoire terms: From a disputed win to recession-era budgets

OLYMPIA – Chris Gregoire, who became governor in the midst of controversy and managed the state during some of its worst economic adversity, said Monday she won’t seek a third term.
Instead, she said she’ll spend the next 18 months working to improve the economy, then take some time off.
“The worst thing that I can think of for the state of Washington is for me to be preoccupied with a campaign right now,” she said at a morning press conference in front of the Governor’s Mansion, where she was flanked by members of her family and had members of her cabinet and senior advisors gathered on the driveway nearby. “We are going to make sure we pull this state out of this recession.”
She said she wanted to leave “on my terms, in my time” and go on to do something else after taking “a little break” to spend time with her family…
 To read the rest of  Tuesday morning's story, go inside the blog

Gregoire called Inslee, urged him to run

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire made the decision not to run for re-election over the weekend after talking with family and close advisors, called cabinet members and one potential replacement on Sunday evening.

She urged Jay Inslee, the Democratic congressman from Western Washington's 1st District, to get in…although it seems unlikely she had to push very hard. Inslee has been itching to get into the race as soon as Gregoire is officially out.

“I don't know who all's going to get in the field,” she said during her press conference outside the Governor's Mansion to announce that she won't.

Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna officially got in last week.  He made the courtesy call to Gregoire before his announcement, and she followed protocol by not really saying very much about that when asked.

Look for an Inslee campaign rollout press conference later this week, and any other serious candidates in the near future. After all, it is June of 2011, which means the 2012 general election is ONLY 17 months away.

Sunday Spin: Free advice for candidates

  Last week was the official start of campaign season that saw swarms of candidates filing for various offices and in some cases plunking down the fees that go with them. Kudos for your public spiritedness and participation in the democratic process. But as my father always said, you pays your money and you takes your chances.
   Some of candidates have been around the block once or twice already and know the basics. A few have been around the block so many times they’re starting to wear their own paths.
   But some are new to the game, and as is traditional around filing week, Spin Control offers its eight simple rules to live by for new candidates and their campaign staffs. It's free advice, which my father always said is usually worth exactly what you pay for it. But it could save you some grief down the road:
   1. No whining. We congratulate winners and console losers, but we will brook no whining, especially on things that are “part of the deal.” That includes filing your Public Disclosure forms on time, and doing it online if that’s required. No lame excuses like “I’m not good with computers.” Join the 21st century or find a 12-year-old with a laptop….

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

Candidate ranks continue to grow

The list of people who covet an elective office continues to grow, both in the city of Spokane and elsewhere.

Joy Jones, who works for Goodwill lndustries, filed for the Spokane City Council seat in the Northwest District, saying she wants to maintain roads and parks and push for more neighborhood business districts like South Perry. She filed late Thursday and joins a race that already included Karen Kearney and Steve Salvatori.

Chris Bowen, who ran for a 3rd Legislative District House seat in 2008, made it an even half dozen candidates in the Northeast Council District with a filing this morning. He joins John Waite, Gary Pollard, Mike Fagan, Luke Tolley and Donna McKereghan in what could be the most crowded race on the primary ballot.

The Spokane School District 81 board shrunk to five candidates this morning as Shawn Siggson withdrew his name for the open seat. Earlier in the week, Siggson, an employee of a local foundry, was asked why he decided to run and replied: “I really don't know. Just for fun, I guess.”

Filing continues until the close of business today. That varies from county to county, but iIn Spokane County, it's 4 p.m.

Filing week shocker: Hession enters race for Spokane City Council president

Former Spokane Mayor Dennis Hession on Thursday filed to run for Spokane City Council president.

His decision is the big surprise so far this week among candidates entering Spokane races.

Hession was City Council president in 2005 when Mayor Jim West was recalled from office. Hession was elevated to mayor and served in that spot until defeated by Mary Verner in 2007.

Hession has endorsed David Condon in this year's race for mayor.

Two more file for Spokane City Council

Two candidates who previously said they would run for Spokane City Council formally took the plunge on Thursday morning.

Donna McKereghan, former chairwoman of the Logan Neighborhood Council, and Steve Salvatori, owner of the Spokane Entrepreneurial Center, filed paperwork to officially become candidates.

McKereghan joins a crowded field for the chance to take the seat representing Northeast Spokane. The position currently is held by Councilman Bob Apple.

Salvatori is running for the seat being vacated by Councilman Steve Corker, who has chosen to run for City Council president. Only one other candidate has filed to run for the position, which represents Northwest Spokane.

For the full list of candidates so far who have filed for Spokane city office, keep reading this entry.

Luke Tolley joins race for Spokane City Council

The chairman of the Hillyard Neighborhood Council added himself late Wednesday to the growing list of people who want to represent Northeast Spokane on the City Council.

Luke Tolley, 32, also ran four years ago, but lost in the primary. He is the outreach and marketing organizer of Sustainable Works, a nonprofit group that works to make homes more energy efficient.

This is candidate filing week in Washington. In the race for Northeast Spokane, Tolley joins downtown businessman John Waite, Riverside Neighborhood Council Chairman Gary Pollard and Mike Fagan, co-director of Voters Want More Choices. Two others have filed campaign finance paperwork indicating that they also plan to run. The winner will take the seat currently held by Bob Apple, who can't run again because of term limits.

Tolley says his goal is to “try to get government and citizens and businessses to try to work together.”

In dealing with the city's budget problems, Tolley said there isn't “a silver bullet” and that he would prefer trying to avoid cutting full programs like the Youth Department. But he said he is willing to make “tough decisions” if alternatives aren't possible.

“We have to learn to live within our means,” Tolley said.

Tolley also opposes the new $20 vehicle tab fee that was imposed this year by the City Council.

“I feel like it's a tax that is going to hurt low-income people,” Tolley said.

Mike Fagan files to run for Spokane City Council

A co-worker of Tim Eyman, the prominent anti-tax initiative guru of Washington, has joined the race for Spokane City Council.

Mike Fagan, co-director of Eyman's Voters Want More Choices, filed on Wednesday to run for a seat representing Northeast Spokane.

The seat currently is held by City Councilman Bob Apple, who can't run again because of term limits. Earlier this week, downtown businessman John Waite and Riverside Neighborhood Council Chairman Gary Pollard filed for the seat.

Fagan, 51, is a member of the Spokane Patriots, an offshoot of the Tea Party of Spokane. Fagan ran for council in 2009, losing to Councilwoman Amber Waldref in the general election.

He said he's running because the council has enacted too many taxes and increased too many fees and trampled on private property rights. He claims that it's easier to get welfare in Spokane than to get a building permit.

“It just about takes an act of Congress to get a building permit,” he said.

On the property rights front, Fagan criticizes the city's use of eminent domain to build a bridge over railroad tracks at Havana Street, city rules that restrict the demolition of historic buildings downtown, and certain code enforcement rules, such as ones preventing overgrown weeds, which he said are “subject to interpretation.”

Fifth Spokane mayor hopeful pledges not to debate opponents or talk to media

Spokane voters on Wednesday got a fifth choice in the race for Spokane mayor.

Robert Kroboth, 77, filed paperwork to place his name on the Aug. 16. He joins incumbent Mayor Mary Verner; David Condon, former district director for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers; Mike Noder, who co-owns a demolition busines; and Barbara Lampert, who runs for office every year.

Kroboth also ran for mayor in 2000 and 2007 but didn’t attract much support. He came in fourth in the four-way mayoral primary in 2000. He was fifth in the five-way primary in 2007, taking 1.4 percent of the vote.

In a brief call Wednesday afternoon, Kroboth indicated that his policy of not talking to the media hasn’t changed.

“I don’t want to talk to you,” he said, before hanging up.

(Kroboth had the same policy in 2007, but talked to a reporter when he appeared at a City Council meeting and mentioned that he had once been tried and acquitted related to a shooting in California.)

On his website, Kroboth says if elected, he would eliminate the city’s Waste-to-Energy Plant and would place garbage in landfills. He also stresses his opposition to fluoridating the water system and calls the Spokane Police Department a “NaziFascist police force.”

“I will not appear at any debates because they are simply not debates, but ignorant questions from ignorant people, most of whom are the stooges of candidates,” Kroboth’s website says. “If we had a League of Men Voters, they would call us ‘male chauvinist pigs.’”

Thousands of folks want to run for office

OLYMPIA — A check of county elections office by the Secretary of State's Office indicates 2,132 people have filed for office as of the close of business Wednesday.

That's hump day for filing week, which ends whenever your local Elections Office shuts down on Friday. In Spokane, that's 4 p.m.

So for the undecided potential candidates out there, it's time to make up your mind.

The Spokane area's one legislative race, the 4th District Senate seat, has one candidate right now, but will have two by Thursday. Former Rep. Mike Padden filed Monday; current Sen. Jeff Baxter, who was appointed to the opening this year plans to file Thursday. Both are Republicans. Still no sign of a Democrat in the race.

Today’s fun video: For those not tired of Weinergate


Jon Stewart gives everything he's got Tuesday to mock Anthony Weiner, and himself for not hitting it harder Monday. (And probably deserves a visit from OSHA for injuring himself in the sketch.

And for the most unusual take on the Weiner “fess-up” — and possibly the cutest — click here.

Protesters could add to excitement at health care conference

The Washington Policy Center will do a reprise of its health care reform conference today in Spokane at the Red Lion Inn at the Park, complete with a keynote speech from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

The Seattle version of the conference was reported in this morning's paper. Something new for Spokane, however, will be protesters outside the conference demonstrating against McMorris Rodgers' support for the GOP proposal to change Medicare.

The group incorrectly describes the event as McMorris's “$500 a table event,” with “her supporters.” It's actually the policy center's event, and while many of the people in the room maybe McMorris Rodgers supporters, the money doesn't go to her.  It's also $200 for a table of eight; the $500 charge is for company sponsors who want a table for lunch, information packets and display space at the conference.

Details, details.

Bethany Heath, the organizer of the protest, said she thought it was still a fair way to characterize the event.

“We're not trying to go after her,” Heath said, then proceded to discuss the votes McMorris Rodgers has taken in favor of the Ryan Medicare proposal and against the Affordable Care Act which suggested that yes, they were going after McMorris Rodgers.

It wasn't personal, Heath added. “I just don't like her voting record.”

Condon’s a candidate

David Condon officially became a candidate for Spokane mayor on Wednesday, joining three others, including incumbent Mary Verner.

The bigger news about Condon's campaign is his recent reporting of campaign contributions. Only a month into his campaign, he's already leading Verner in fundraising, having raised $74,630 in May, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission. Verner only has raised $45,407.

(Photo caption: David Condon addresses the media on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 outside the Spokane County Elections Office shortly before filing to run for Spokane mayor.)

Here are the Spokane candidates so far:


Mary Verner, incumbent

Mike Noder, co-owner of MoMike Inc., a demolition company

Barbara Lampert, former nurse’s assistant, frequent candidate for office

David Condon, former deputy chief of staff for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers

City Council president

Ben Stuckart, executive director of Communities in Schools

Steve Corker, Spokane City councilman

City Council, northeast district

John Waite, owner of Meryln's, a science fiction store in downtown Spokane

Gary Pollard, chairman of Riverside Neighborhood Council

City Council, south district

Mike Allen, former city councilman

Richard Rush, incumbent

City Council, northwest district

Karen Kearney, former regional operations manager at Capital Savings Bank in Seattle

Holder backing dispensary raids, Gregoire says

OLYMPIA – States that have legalized marijuana for medical uses are pushing the U.S. Justice Department for help in sorting out the conflict between federal drug laws and their own, Gov. Chris Gregoire said Tuesday.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said he’s aware of the problems and agreed this week to work with her, as the head of the National Governor’s Association and the point person for the 16 states with medical marijuana laws.

But Holder told her a department memo on not using federal resources to pursue patients using medical marijuana is being “misinterpreted” by the states and people setting up dispensaries to sell the drug to patients. That lack of prosecution was intended only for “those that are really quite ill” she said. “It’s expanded beyond anything anticipated in the Ogden Memo.” Holder told her he fully supports federal prosecutors who are shutting down dispensaries, and they are in Eastern Washington and Montana.

Gregoire believes the federal government should reclassify marijuana so it can be used for some medicinal purposes. Right now it’s classified as illegal for all uses. But reclassification usually takes time for drug tests, and the states don’t have that luxury. “I said, ‘The states need your help, the sooner the better.”

School board candidate not sure why he’s running

At the end of the second day of candidate filing, the race that's still drawing the most interest remains an open seat on the Spokane School Board.

Late Monday, Shawn Siggson, became the fifth candidate in the race.

Asked why he decided to run, Siggson said: “I really don’t know. Just for fun, I guess.”

“I wanted to run for mayor and when I realized it was a $1,700 filing fee, I had to start with something lower,” he said.

Because board positions are unpaid, filing fees aren’t charged to candidates. The filing fee for mayor this year is $1,693.58, 1 percent of the mayoral salary.

Although he said he doesn’t “know all that the job entails,” Siggson said he’s a serious candidate and that he identifies with the Tea Party. He said we would work to balance the budget without cutting teachers or increasing class sizes.

Siggson, 33, is an employee at Travis Pattern and Foundry.

The seat is currently held by Garret Daggett, who recently announced that he would not seek re-election.

For information on other school board candidates, read this.

Karen Kearney will make second run for Northwest council seat

Karen Kearney will return to ballot in August in hopes of landing a seat representing Northwest Spokane on City Council.

Kearney pledges to be more visible in the district than the current council members who serve Northwest Spokane, Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Corker.

“When I go into businesses and multiple businesses and they say they have never met their councilperson, and they don't even know who they are, I have issues with that,” Kearney said.

Gregoire to decide on re-election run this month

Gov. Chris Gregoire at a post-bill-signing press conference Tuesday.

OLYMPIA — Chris Gregoire will decide this month whether she will seek a third term as Washington's top elected official.

“I haven't made a decision. I'm meeting with my family this weekend,” the governor said during a press conference after signing a list of bills from the recently completed special session of the Legislature .”I can't go on beyond this month. I've got work to do.”

Although the election is not until 2012, she would want to start on a statewide campaign this summer if she decides to run, and another candidate will need that time if she doesn't. The two-term Democratic incumbent said she talked this week with Republican Attorney General Rob McKennas but declined to say what the subject was. “It's his to announce,” she said of his plans.

Asked if the conversation was about a lawsuit over federal health care reform, on which they disagree, or about the gubernatorial campaign, she replied: “Not about the health care lawsuit.”

Next week Gregoire is expected to sign a budget that cuts social service programs, education, higher education and most state services. “I didn't run on this six years ago. I didn't run on this two years ago. But the times are what they are.”

Latest candidate for Spokane mayor, Barbara Lampert, calls for deep budget cuts, but increase in police officers

Barbara Lampert wants to balance the city fo Spokane's budget while at the same time hiring an additional 100 police officers.

The perennial candidate, who filed to run for Spokane mayor on Tuesday, said she would do that by cutting city administration, forcing pay cuts and freezing salaries.

“There are way too many layers of supervision,” Lampert said. “Count four steps from the mayor, draw a line left to right, and they're all gone. They can find another job.”

Lampert added that her statement about “four steps from the mayor” is only an example and that she would make more concrete decisions about trimming administrators once elected. She admitted, however, that she has not examined a city organizational chart for about 20 years.

“But I can't believe it got better, and, probably, it's gotten worse,” she said in an interview Tuesday.

McMorris Rodgers on Weiner: ‘I had no idea’

SEATTLE — Weeks ago, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers co-wrote a guest column with the co-chairman of a new group of congresspersons concerned about local pharmacies staying in business. It sat around for until Monday, when it got published at a time when her caucus co-chairman was getting maximum exposure.

But not the good kind.

That co-chairman is Rep. Anthony Weiner, D-N.Y., who on Monday admitted that he'd been lying for about 10 days by denying he never sent a suggestive photo by Twitter to a woman in Seattle. He fessed up and said not only had he sent that photo, and lied about it, but he'd sent others by Twitter or Facebook, and engaged in other behaviof of which he is now ashamed.

“I had no idea,” she said Tuesday in Seattle, where she's the keynote speaker at the Washington Policy Center's conference on health care.

McMorris Rodgers said she wouldn't call for Weiner's resignation, adding she wanted to see what else comes out in an upcoming ethics investigation. “I hesitate to say when someone should resign.”

But other Republican members of Congress have resigned when facing similar scandals, and she supports Speaker John Boehner's admonition to the GOP caucus: “You are held to a higher standard when it comes to being a member of Congress.”

McMorris Rodgers has been one of the prime movers at getting Republicans in Congress to use Twitter and Facebook to communicate with constituents and supporters. While Weiner's problems point out the possibilities of misuse of the social media, that's not a reason to stay off Twitter.

” I think there are a lot more positiives about opening up communication,” she said. providing that one is careful about what kind of communication one is opening up.

Perennial candidate Barbara Lampert is running for ….

Mayor of Spokane.

Lampert, a former nurse's assistant, has run for office every year for about the last 15 years. Last year, she placed third in the six-way primary for Congress, even beating the candidate endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Today is the second day candidates can file to run in the August primary. Deadline to file for office is on Friday. Lampert, 65, filed her paperwork this morning at the Spokane County Elections Office. She also paid the $1,693.58 fee (1 percent of the mayor's salary) .

In the race for mayor, she joins incumbent Mary Verner and Mike Noder, who co-owns a demolition company.

Mike Noder files to run for Spokane mayor

Mike Noder, who ran for mayor in 2007, has again entered the race to lead Spokane's city government.

Noder, 53, is the co-owner of MoMoke Demolition and Salvage. He filed to enter the mayoral race this afternoon. In 2007, one of his major campaign focuses was his criticism of the Spokane Regional Solid Waste System, which he believes wastes money and charges too much.

He said he's running again to reign in city government.

“The on-going cost of government is too high,” Noder said. “We're going to continue to drive businesses away.”

In 2007, Noder came in fourth out of five candidates in the primary and captured 3.4 percent of the vote.

McMorris Rodgers, Weiner get together for drugs

Although probably not what you're thinking. (Get your mind out of the gutter.)

Reps. Cathy McMorris and Anthony Weiner co-wrote a guest column in Roll Call, a Washington, D.C., publication, about the importance of independent pharmacies in cities, towns and rural America and explained three key pieces of legislation they are pushing this year a co-chairwoman and co-chairman of the newly re-established Community Pharmacy Caucus. A copy of the guest column can be found here.

But maybe this co-chairmanship could help Weiner, a New York Democrat, out in another area.

Weiner is probably better known for something other than making sure Mr. Gower's Drug Store stays open in Bedford Falls. He has gotten much attention in the last week for allegedly sending a photo, via Twitter, of his underwear (with him in it) to a woman in Washington state who is not his wife. Last week, Weiner said his Twitter account was hacked and  he didn't send the photo, but he couldn't say for sure that the photo wasn't him. It was been a gift to late night comedians.

Today he admitted that he did, after all, send that photo to the woman in Washington, as well as some other photos to other women, also not his wives, on Facebook.

McMorris Rodgers is, among other things, the GOP House Caucus's tech guru. She was among the first on Twitter and is constantly pushing other Republicans into social media cyberspace. She ought to be able to help Weiner brace up the security for his Twitter account and go over some tips on what to send and what not to send, an explanation how something sent out on Twitter never stays private for very long.

Today’s fun video: Palin explains Paul Revere’s ride

Sarah Palin explains the importance of Paul Revere. Did she get it wrong?




She says no, she didn't.



So it might not be the version you learned in American History (or American Lit). But it's not as if Henry Wadsworth Longfellow got it completely right, either. For the ultimate source of what happened on that night in 1775, go inside the blog.

Verner’s officially a candidate; so are Corker and Stuckart

Spokane Mayor Mary Verner filled out the paperwork and paid her $1,693.58 filing fee on Monday morning to officially enter the race to keep her job.

Today is the first day candidates can file to put their name on the ballot.

Handing the check to Voter Services Supervisor Kit Anderson, Verner said: “It's an investment in my grandchildren's future.” 

Afterward she spoke to supporters and reporters in the parking lot.

Also filing this morning were Ben Stuckart and Steve Corker for City Council president, Mike Padden for the Spokane Valley state Senate seat representing district 4, Mike Allen for the council seat representing south Spokane, Gary Pollard and John Waite for the seat representing northwest Spokane, and Paul Lecoq, Rod Roduner and Deana Brower for the Spokane Public Schools board.

The Spokane County Elections Office keeps an updated list for all the candidates who have filed for each office here.

(Photo caption: Mayor Mary Verner writes a check for $1,693.58 to pay her filing fee on Monday, June 6, 2011 to run for office.)

Election Trivia Quiz

Spokane voters haven’t re-elected a mayor since 1973. Who was it?
A. Neil Fosseen
B. Dave Rodgers
C. Ron Bair
D. Jim Chase

Answer inside

Ah for the good old days

The first day of filing – actually the first few minutes – used to be the busiest and most interesting part of the week. Candidates would line up and camp out the night before in an effort to be the first person to file for a particular office. They’d play cards, tell stories, pass around a flask or two, make a dawn patrol run for coffee and donuts.
Being first in the door would mean the candidate’s name was listed first on the ballot for that position, a spot that can be worth a few extra percentage points, particularly in elections involving relatively unknown candidates or relatively uncontroversial offices.
Candidates shouldn’t go searching for their sleeping bag, though. The law was changed and now the ballot order is determined by a lottery after filing closes on Friday. Getting there at the crack of dawn Monday gives you the same chance of the top spot as beating the filing deadline by 30 seconds.
In Spokane County, the office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Other counties may open earlier or close later, so be sure to check if you’re timing a special trip.
Or you could save yourself the trip, file online and pay with a credit card. The Washington Secretary of State’s office, at has links to all the county elections offices. It also has addresses. You can print out a petition of candidacy, write a check and mail it in.

Reminder: Filing week starts tomorrow

OK candidates, listen up. Filing week starts tomorrow. Those of you who like the personal touch of filling out your forms and paying your fees in person can head down to your county elections office any time through Friday afternoon.

Friday factoid: More women than men

The U.S. Census Bureau released another pile of data this week from tghe 2010 headcount, and the tabulation of American residents by gender revealed the unsurprising fact there are more women than men in the United States.

But there are more boys than girls.

For all age groups, there are roughly 5 million fewer male Americans than female Americans (149.5 million to 154.8 million).

But when breaking it down by age groups, the male numbers are larger from infancy through age 29. At age 30, women pull ahead slightly, and get farther ahead with each five-year increment. By age 85 and older, they're approaching 2-to-1, with 1.6 million men and 3.1 million women.

For the Census Bureau's latest info on “Age and Sex in the United States” (which is not as risque as it sounds), click here.

2011 WA Lege: Counting the votes

OLYMPIA — With the Legislature a full week in the books, the group WashingtonVotes, has released its annual statistics about the number of bills introduced and passed, the votes taken…and the votes missed.

Topping the list of missed House votes was Rep. Larry Crouse, R-Spokane Valley, which was a surprise initially because Crouse is usually far down in that tally. He missed 143 votes in the just-finished regular and special sessions, because of medical problems.

“In the past 16 years, I don't think I missed that many votes, total,” Crouse said Thursday.

He had back surgery last October, and his back started acting up again after the session started. “It was miserable,” he said. “It got so bad that I h ad to schedule surgery again. I didn't have a choice.”

He scheduled it for  May, which would have been after the session, had the Legislature finished on time. Instead, the surgery fell in the middle of the special session. He made it in several days while recuperating, but otherwise stayed away.

“I was in contact, on the phone, with leadership. If they needed me there, I would be there,” he said. As it turned out, there weren't  many 714 roll call votes in the House that were close.

No. 4 on the list of missed votes for House members was John Ahern, R-Spokane, with 66 missed votes.  Ahern returned to the Legislature after a term off, and had better voting attendance in previous sessions.

“I had a couple of family emergencies, two hospitalizations,” he said Thursday. First his wife was ill, then his son was in a car accident, and he was back in Spokane for those votes. He said he enterred in the House record how he would have voted, had he been there.

Topping the Senate list was Sen. Jerome Delvin, R-Richland, who told the organization many of the 120 votes he missed were a result of being away for the unexpected death of his father. Sen. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, was second with 79 votes. Some were a result of the “unforeseeable conflicts due to the nature of special sessions,” he said, while others occured during votes that weren't close and he chose to be off the floor “to meet with constituents who have come to see me.” 

Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, missed 36 of the 648 Senate votes cast, and Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, missed 30. But that put them 10th and 13th from the top, respectively.

Some Spokane-area legislators had perfect scores. In the House, Republicans Joel Kretz of Wauconda, Joe Schmick of Colfax; Matt Shea of Spokane Valley, and Shelly Short of Addy, as well as Democrats Andy Billig and Timm Ormsby, made every roll call vote. So did Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville.

Having a perfect voting record in the Senate is a bit more difficult, because senators have to be present to vote by voice when the roll call is taken. The House votes by machine, in a very short allotted time, and it is possible for a representative who is off the floor to leave instructions with a seatmate which button to push.

But representatives do have to be in the chamber that day. They can't call in a vote from Spokane after watching the debate on TVW.

Other fast facts from Legislators introduced 2,093 bills and passed 444.

Today’s fun videos: Stewart mocks Trump on pizza, Weiner on Twitter comments


Jon Stewart delivers a damning critique of Donald Trump.

Not for his aborted presidential campaign, his questioning of Obama's birth certificate or his coiffure. But for his pizza savvy. And it may be the most devastating Trump tromping of all time.

In a bipartisan move, he also asks the question that's on everyone's mind about Rep. Anthony Weiner's not quite unequivocal denial of that Twitter posting. Click here to see that inside the blog.

Undoing the deed: Company settles over misleading mailers

OLYMPIA – A California company accused of misleading people into buying overpriced copies of their deeds has signed an agreement with the state Attorney General's office to refund the money and stop the practice.

The “State Records Retrieval Board” sent notices to an estimated 5,000 Washington residents last year, urging them to buy a copy of their property deeds for $87 by a certain date, or pay a $35 fee if they missed that deadline. The state’s Consumer Protection office began investigating after complaints from Eastern Washington, and later issued a warning about the mailings.

The state has no such board; the Olympia address it listed was a mail drop box at a mall. The mailings were from a California company owned by Neil Camenker, which sent similar notices around the country.

On Wednesday, Assistant Attorney General Jack Zurlini announced a settlement in which the company will reimburse 45 Washington residents totaling $3,915, pay state legal costs and face a civil penalty if they don’t comply with restrictions on their business practices.

“The notices were deceptive junk mail designed to trick people into something they don’t need,” Zurlini said in a prepared statement announcing the settlement. A copy of a deed can be obtained from a county auditor for about $10, he added.

Eugster questions proposed Spokane City Charter changes on August ballot

The proposed City Charter changes that will appear on the August ballot were supposed to be noncontroversial. But they already have high-profile opposition.

The Spokane Park Board publicly opposed the plan to strip its power to condemn property for park acquisition when the items were placed on the ballot last month.

Now the man who led the effort to create Spokane's current system of government — the strong mayor system — says he doesn't like many of the ideas either.

Former City Councilman Steve Eugster said the proposal on the Park Board endangers the park system's independence.

“The independent park board is a bright, historical phenomenon,” Eugster said. “How are you going to have an independent park board if it can't acquire land?”

Among other proposals on the ballot that  Eugster said he likely will vote against is the plan to change the recall process. Currently, City Council members are elected by district, but if a member is recalled, the recall vote would be held city-wide. Voters in August will be given a chance to restrict the recall process to the districts.

Filing week approaching

OK candidates, listen up. Filing week starts next Monday for those of you who like the personal touch of filling out your forms and paying your fees in person.

From Monday through Friday of next week, you can saunter into your county elections office, turn in your form, pay the fee (1 percent of the annual salary for the position you desire) and qualify for a spot on the August primary ballot.  Remember, there may be some special requirements for a particular position, such as length of residence inside the borders of the particular city or district you wish to elect you, or being eligible to vote.

In Spokane County, the office will be open 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Editor's note: An earlier version of this post had the wrong start time.)

Or you could save yourself the trip, file online and pay with a credit card. To file online for Spokane County, click here.  To find a website or address for one of the other county elections offices in Washington state, click here.

It's also possible to file by mail, right now. To do that, you would need a petition of candidacy to fill out. You can get started by clicking here.

A note to the wouldbe candidates who are just “thinking about” a run. Think about it all you want, but remember the filing fees are non-refundable.

To see a list of offices up for election this  year in Spokane County, click here.

Murray passing out gilded sneakers

SEATTLE — Sen. Patty Murray's annual fundraiser-cum-good deed recognition luncheon today features a top Obama campaign strategist.

The 16th Annual  “Golden Tennis Shoe Awards” luncheon has David Axelrod, the top strategist for the Obama re-election campaign, to rouse the crowd. The 2012 election is, after all, only 17 months away.

Award recipients are: 

— Isaac Pope, a Centralia pediatrician who converted a two-story house into a clinic and day care center for severely disabled children:
— Denise “Cookie” Bouldin, a Seattle police officer who organized a chess club for disadvantaged youth, where they learn non-violence skills, self-esteem and the consequences of their actions:
— Mike Brown, a Vietnam era veteran who beat a meth addiction and now works with other veterans to get them into vocational training, stable home settings and community involvement.

The name of the award is a derivative  of the story told of Murray's early political career, when she reportedly decided to run after a politician told her she couldn't get things done, she was “just a mom in tennis shoes.”

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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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