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Spin Control

Archive for October 2011

State GOP pours cash into Condon campaign

Spokane mayoral candidate David Condon advertises himself as “nonpartisan” on his signs, but that didn't stop the former aide to Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers from getting a $25,000 contribution from the state Republican Party.

The contribution, the largest so far in a Spokane city race this year, was received by Condon's campaign on Thursday, according to the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Condon already had a big lead in fundraising over Mayor Mary Verner. As of Friday, Condon was reporting about $245,000 raised compared to Verner's $121,000.

Verner, who has been endorsed by the Spokane County Democratic Party, got only $800 from the state Democratic Central Committee.

Lisa Brown staying put

OLYMPIA — State Sen. Lisa Brown is dropping any plans to run for statewide office in 2012

Democrat Brown, the Senate majority leader from Spokane, has been rumored for two possible statewide posts on next year's ballot, lieutenant governor and state auditor.

The auditor's seat is open with long-time incumbent Brian Sonntag deciding last month he wouldn't seek re-election. The lieutenant governor's seat isn't, with incumbent Brad Owen showing no sign of giving up the job of presiding over the Senate and standing in when a governor leaves the state.

Brown said Monday she'll be concentrating on leading the Senate Democrats during the upcoming special session that starts Nov. 28, and the regular session that starts in January.  Although that would still leave some time to put together a campaign in March or April, “I'm not planning on running for statewide office in 2012,” she said.

Her current term is up next year, so she'll have to seek re-election to the Senate in 2012. While that's a relatively safe seat right now, there's no telling what Spokane's legislative seats will look like after the Redistricting Commission gets finished with redrawing the lines.

Last call for voter registration in Washington

This is the final, absolute, no-spit Sherlock deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 8 election.

If you are a resident of Washington who is otherwise eligible, but not yet registered, you would have to get yourself down to your county elections office today before it closes and sign up in person.

Word of warning: Because of budget cuts in many counties, elections offices don't all close at the same time, so it's a good idea to check when they shut the door for the day. To get the phone number and other info for your elections office, click here.

Annual words of warning

Every year at this time, Spin Control offers some free advice to the thousands of people who have campaign yard signs for their favorite candidate or ballot issue: Put your coffee cup down, go out, pull them out of the ground and put them in the garage, basement or at least the back yard.
Tomorrow is Halloween. Campaign signs make too-tempting targets. If they get stolen, knocked down, ripped or spray painted, you have no one to blame but yourself.
Well, you could blame the miscreants who did it, but finding them will be about as easy as finding anyone with sympathy for your plight.
Save yourself some grief, and put them back out on Tuesday.

Sunday Spin: 1st Amendment not chicken scratch

When you pass the Occupy Spokane protesters or any other demonstrators at any location, you might honk and wave to show support. Or you might honk and wave just one finger to show the opposite.
When you’re waiting with the motor running for a friend or spouse who is dallying inside, you might honk to get them to move it.
When you drive past another vehicle with a bumper sticker that urges you to honk if you love Jesus or the Zags or any number of other potential objects of affection, you might honk if so moved.
In all cases, you are exercising your First Amendment rights. At least in Washington state.
That’s what the state Supreme Court said last week in the somewhat interesting, somewhat bizarre, case of State v. Helen Immelt, a Snohomish County woman who was ticketed for honking her horn in anger at her neighbor in 2006, in a dispute over chickens…

Spokane water bill shocker: most paid less this summer

The results are in and they're somewhat shocking.

Spokane's utility billing department has compiled the data from water bills that were received in August and September, and 53 percent of them were less than they would have been under the 2010 rate structure.

Other stats (the ones that may indicate why some are upset):

- 37 percent paid up to $50 more during the two-month cycle.

- 7 percent paid between $50 and $100 more during the two-month cycle.

- 3 percent paid more than $100 more during the two-month cycle.

The City Council voted in May 2010 to redo the water rate structure to lower rates on those who use less and increase rates on those who use more.

The city estimated that 60 percent of customers would pay less over the course of the year under the new system, but that wasn't expected necessarily for the summer months — especially because of the huge outcry heard from the public since summer bills were mailed. Mayor Mary Verner has said she will introduce a new rate structure before the end of the year.

For more data, click on the document link attached to this entry.


Skip regular session? No way, Gregoire says

Gov. Chris Gregoire at Thursday's press conference.

OLYMPIA — While most of Gov. Chris Gregoire's press conference Thursday revolved around the cuts that could be made or should be made, she did field a few questions a bit farther afield.

At one point she was asked what she thought of House Minority Leader Richard DeBolt's recent suggestion that the Legislature do all the work of cutting the budget, and whatever else might need to be done, in the 30-day special session that starts Nov. 28, then save the taxpayers some money by skipping  the regular 60-day session set to start in January. Think they could do that?

“I do not,” she replied. Closing the gap between projected revenues and scheduled expenses will take all of the attention of the special session, even by giving legislators a “jump start” by previewing her budget options a month before they arrive.

“For December, I'm only asking them to focus on the budget…and any crisis we have out there.” In January, the Legislature should “turn our attention to how we put Washington back to work.”

She also denied a recent sale of bonds for the 520 bridge expansion, which relies on variable tolls that would be outlawed by Initiative 1125 if it passes, was intended as a way around the voters, as initiative sponsor Tim Eyman contended Thursday. The state has already begun work on the project, she said, and needs money to pay for it. “That was intended to pay our bills,” she said of the bond sale.

State union to Gregoire: Cut biz tax breaks first

OLYMPIA — The Washington Federation of State Employees has an answer to Gov. Chris Gregoire's request to reopen their contracts and pay more for health care premiums.

It's not quite “hell no” or “drop dead” — or something more colorful but less printable — but it's pretty close.

“Before there’s any talk of taking more from the state workforce she must convene a meeting of corporate entities and ask them to take a 3% cut in any tax break they are already receiving from the taxpayers of the state of Washington,” a message from WFSE Executive Director Greg Devereux, posted on the union's web site, says.

In an interview Wednesday evening, Devereux said the union feels state workers have borne their share of the cuts, a fact which the letter from Office of Financial Management Director Marty Brown basically acknowledges.

Gregoire and other state officials need to look out their windows at the Occupy Olympia protesters encamped on the park grounds below the Capitol, or take note of Occupy Seattle and Spokane demonstrations to realize public sentiment is shifting.

If the governor can convene a group of corporate leaders and get them to agree to giving up some of their exemptions, “we will be happy to come back to the table.”

If not? “We have no interest in going back.”

Gregoire wants to reopen state worker contracts

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is asking state employees' unions to reopen their contracts and agree to higher health insurance costs.

In a letter to the unions, Office of Financial Management Director Marty Brown cites the projected imbalance of $1.4 billion between projected state revenues and scheduled state expenses in General Fund programs.

“Due to the continuing decline in revenue, the state is requesting that the coalition of unions agree to reooeb the 2011-13 health care benefits agreement in order to negotiate a reduction in the employer premium contribution,” Brown says in the letter.

He acknowledges that unions have made concessions in their current contract, which was approved by the Legislature earlier this year. “However, because of the seemingly unrelenting pressure that the Great Recession has had on revenues and increased caseloads, state employees may be called upon yet again to sacrifice.”

Prez candidates to Boise on Jan. 6? Don’t bet on it

As colleague Betsy Russell reports on Eye on Boise, Idaho Republicans will hold a presidential straw poll on Jan. 6 in Boise in hopes of attracting the would-be GOP nominees to address any Idahoan who signs up as a Republican and pays $30 to cast a ballot..

Not that anyone asked Spin Control's opinion, but this seems like really bad timing for this event, if the goal is to draw the presidential candidates to Idaho .

It falls between the Iowa caucuses on Jan. 3, and the New Hampshire primary on Jan. 10. Both of these are the presidential sweepstakes equivalent of “All In” in Texas Hold 'em. Every serious candidate will spend the week before Jan. 3 travelling around Iowa, then decamp to New Hampshire as the GOP faithful in that state are gathering in living rooms and meeting halls for the caucuses. They rarely hang around Des Moines to get the results; the satellite trucks are set up at the Manchester, N.H., airport to catch the winners and losers getting off their campaign planes.

Once in the Granite State, they rarely leave before the primary, unless they are a sitting member of Congress and a key vote comes up, or a sitting governor and a disaster strikes their state. Oh, they may go into Boston for television interviews, but that's not really leaving the state because Boston TV is ubiquitous in New Hampshire.

So to expect the presidential campaigns to put their candidates on a plane on a Friday afternoon, and fly more than 3/4ths of the way across the country (significant downtime in the plane), speak to the Idaho GOP faithful in Boise, get back on the plane (more significant downtime) and fly back to the East Coast, is asking quite a bit.  They'd lose most of a campaign day on the weekend before the primary.

The Idaho GOP's reasoning that their state has more convention delegates than Iowa, New Hampshire or Nevada is true, but flawed. That week isn't really about delegates; it's about exposure and spin.

It's dangerous to make predictions, but it could be the best that they can achieve in Boise will be satellite feeds of the candidates talking to Idaho Republicans on a big screen.

Coalition calls on candidates to take ombudsman pledge

A coalition of organizations including the Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane is asking Spokane mayoral and City Council candidates to pledge not to vote for a Spokane Police Guild contract unless it includes stronger oversight.

The guild's contract expires at the end of the year and is under negotiation currently.

Earlier this month, the City Council repealed its 2010 police oversight law at the demand of an arbitrator, who ruled that it violated the guild's contract. The law gave Ombudsman Tim Burns the right to investigate allegations of police misconduct separately from the police department's internal affairs division.

The city is now operating under its 2008 police ombudsman rules.

Those who voted to repeal the law said the best way to obtain the provisions in the 2010 law are win guild approval of them through negotiations. Some council member said they would be unlikely to vote for guild contract unless the extra oversight is included in it.

League Director Liz Moore said pledge supporters will give candidates until the end of the week to decide if they will sign the pledge. Results will be publicized early next week.


Verner, Condon debate handling of Zehm case

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Here's the latest of election video.

Condon: “To find out that the city started to know some of the facts in 2009 and here we are nearly two years later not dealing with those facts, that's what was troubling me.”

Verner: “We can not critique every aspect of this matter while the litigation is ongoing. I feel we would interfere with the execution of justice to do so and that is my heartfelt belief.”

Council votes to allow members to take 3 percent pay cuts

Following the lead of the state Legislature, the Spokane City Council voted unanimously to allow council members to take a 3 percent pay cut to help balance the budget.

Council members earn $30,000 a year. The council president earns $55,000.

Spokane resident Gretchen McDevitt told the council that the proposal appeared to be election-year “grandstanding” and would barely make a difference in the city’s budget.

“I do not think $30,000 is overpaid,” she said.

But Councilman Richard Rush, who proposed the rule, said it allows city leaders to be in solidarity with city workers who have taken concessions to help balance the budget.

Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin said she is “fine” with the rule but that since she already puts 25 percent of her pay toward charities within her district, she wouldn’t be cutting her pay 3 percent unless all city unions agreed to do the same.

Council stance unchanged on Community Bill of Rights

The Spokane City Council took another chance on Monday to critique Proposition 1, the Community Bill of Rights.

Council members voted 6-1 to formally oppose the initiative, which appears on the November ballot.

The rejection is no surprise. All the members of City Council already were on record in opposition to the proposition, which would require developers of some kinds of projects to collect voter signatures, make it easier to pursue lawsuits against governments or businesses that pollute the Spokane River or aquifer, challenge corporate rights and extend constitutional rights into the workplace.

Only Councilman Jon Snyder voted against the recommendation.

Snyder said he personally opposes Proposition 1 but that he didn’t think the council should take a formal position on a local citizen’s initiative. He later, however, sponsored a resolution that took a stance against state Initiative 1125, which focuses on road tolling. Snyder’s resolution recommending opposition to I-1125 was approved on a 5-2 vote. Council members Bob Apple and Nancy McLaughlin dissented.

I-1125: Good democracy or bad economics?

For Spokane residents who haven’t dealt with a local toll way since the booths came down on the Maple Street Bridge in 1990, Initiative 1125 might seem like a ballot measure more important to the west side of the state.

Not so, say supporters and opponents of the initiative that occupies the top spot on the Nov. 8 ballot. They don’t agree, however, on the key reason it’s important to Eastern Washington…

Go inside the blog to find out why.

How ‘bout we park that Shuttle in Seattle?

OLYMPIA — The Museum of Flight tried very hard to get one of the nation's Space Shuttles earlier this year when NASA got out of the shuttle business. NASA eventually said no to Seattle and bunches of other cities that covet one of the space ships, and yes to New York, Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.

Now it seems that New York is changing some of its plans for housing the shuttle Endeavour, which is going to create some delays for NASA getting rid of it.

In an effort to help NASA and New York City out, Gov. Chris Gregoire is suggesting the space agency send either Endeavour or Enterprise, which technically belongs to L.A. but isn't there yet, to the Museum of Flight.

Just temporarily, of course, Gregoire said. Just until NYC or LA museums get their act together and build structures worthy of “these priceless artifacts.” The Museum of Flight has the perfect spot to put them for now.

Washington state isn't the only place angling for temporary housing for the shuttles. Dayton, Ohio, was pretty steamed when it didn't land one for the U.S. Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. And Houston was similarly p.o'd when Mission Control only got a mockup. Politicians for those to spots have suggested taking Endeavour away from New York City and giving it to their facility.

Gregoire's letter to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden describes the Museum of Flight's offer as an interim plan. But let's face it. Once NASA parks one of those 165,000 pound birds some place, it could be there for a very long time.

Meanwhile, at the other protest

OLYMPIA — Not far from the un-U.N. Day protest on the Capitol steps is the 99%-Occupy Olympia protest. They have a nice place to set up tents, between Capitol Lake and the Budd Bay Harbor, as the leaves are changing for autumn.

But it is getting a bit chilly at night here, so we'll see if the number of tents starts to decline.

As the crow flies, they're about a half mile from the Capitol and today's Tea Party endorsed un-U.N. Day demonstration. When it comes to economic theory, they're light years apart. On political philosophy, they're at that spot where, if one person goes far enough to the left and another goes far enough to the right, some of their beliefs, like a deep suspicion of government, start to meet about 180 degrees away from the middle.

Happy U.N. Day. Or not

If you have a calendar that lists a wide-enough array of special days, you could check to discover that today is United Nations Day. The U.N. was formed 66 years ago today.

In Olympia, however, it is un-U.N. Day for about 60 people who gathered on the steps of the state Capitol. They came to celebrate “American Exceptionalism” and sovereignty, and suggest the United States get out of the U.N., and the organization's headquarters should get out of New York City. Wouldn't Donald Trump like to get his hands on that prime Manhattan real estate, one speaker wondered.

The demonstration was sponsored by several Tea Party organizations, the Freedom Foundation and the Second Amendment Foundation. A couple of motorcyclist in leathers from the Sons of Liberty Riders also made an appearance.

As protests go, it wasn't particularly large,. There's no legislative session going on and this is a pretty peaceful place, so it's pretty easy to get noticed, but sometimes hard to draw a crowd.

It’s Un-U.N. Day in Oly

OLYMPIA — Folks who would like to get the United States out of the United Nations, and vice versa, have planned a rally today at the state Capitol.

Advance info for the rally says to expect representatives from The Freedom Foundation, the Second Amendment Foundation, the Olympia Tea Party, the Sons of Liberty Riders and Shahram Hadian, a candidate for governor next year.

They'll be a few blocks up the hill from the encampment of Occupy Olympia demonstrators, so one never knows what might develop with the cross-pollination of different protests.

Flags at half-staff for White

OLYMPIA — Flags will be flyiing at half-staff at state buildings for state Sen. Scott White, who died over the weekend.

The Kittitas County coroner said White, 41, died of a previously undiagnosed enlarged heart. He was found in his hotel room at a resort near Cle Elum by hotel staff.

Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered the flags to stay at half-staff until after the memorial services are complete.

Sunday Spin: Treat Occupiers, Tea Partiers the same

OLYMPIA – As the news media lurches between ignoring and overexposing the Occupy Wall Street/Spokane/Seattle/Everywhere movement, is it too much to ask for the pontificators to show a little consistency in their love or disdain for populist rebellions that spring up in the 21st Century?
Conservative commentators are complaining that the Occupy (fill in the blank) protesters are inexperienced at best and ignorant at worst. Liberal commentators have essentially alibied the protesters by saying the movement is young, diverse and still in its nascent stages.
Funny thing is that two years ago when the Tea Party movement sprang up, the conservatives and liberals were taking the opposite stances. So here’s a thought:
If you criticized Tea Partiers two years ago for saying they opposed government-run health care, then pointed out some of them were on Medicare, you can ding Occupy Wherever for complaining about capitalism while wearing Nike logo clothing or using their ATM cards to get cash for a latte at Starbucks. If you ignored the first, you should ignore the second.
If you razzed Tea Partiers bizarre attire that included tea-bag festooned hats and Colonial tri-corners, you can toss verbal bricks at the 99 Percenters for dressing like they shopped at a Haight-Ashbury Value Village. If you gave one a pass on weird fashions, do the same to the other.
If you suggested that Tea Partiers didn’t understand health care reform, tax policy or the democratic process, you can suggest that Occupiers don’t understand banking regulations, international finance or the democratic process. If you thought the one provided a refreshing new perspective on old tired issues, don’t accuse the other of being foolishly naïve.
And don’t pop out that Ralph Waldo Emerson quote about a foolish consistency may be the hobgoblin of a small mind. A consistent lack of consistency is the hallmark of an even smaller one.

WA gets high marks for getting ballots to troops

OLYMPIA — Those with long memories might recall a point last fall when the state received a waiver of the federal deadline for getting ballots to the troops overseas, and FOX News commentators briefly came unglued because they thought the state was trying to take the most precious right of democracy away from the brave men and women fighting and dying to defend those rights.

Or something like that.

No matter how hard then-assistant state elections director Katie Blinn tried to explain the state's system, FOX anchor Megyn Kelly couldn't seem to wrap her head around the idea that because the Washington continues to count ballots that come in the mail for nearly two weeks after “election day”, the state actually has a longer window than most for the troops — and anyone else overseas — to get their ballot back to be counted. The state GOP's executive and central committees passed a resolution calling for Secretary of State Sam Reed to withdraw its request for a waiver, without ever bothering to call Reed, who is a Republican.

You can read about that whole flap from the archives, here or watch the FOX report here.

So why bring this up? Because a new study on the record for states in getting ballots out and back to deployed troops and other overseas voters gives Washington high marks for the 2010 election… .

Read about it, inside the blog.

Democratic chairman says Verner took ‘high road,’ as former Dem chairman takes to airwaves for Condon


Not surprisingly, the campaign of David Condon is taking full advantage of the endorsement he got from former Spokane County Democratic Chairman Tom Keefe. Keefe is featured in the Condon TV ad above and is the first endorsement listed on a Condon mailer that arrived at homes this week.

Condon, the former district director for Republican U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, has been working to distance himself from the Republican label, though McMorris Rodgers recently headlined a fundraiser for his campaign.

Meanwhile, Verner's campaign has a released a statement from the current chairman of the Spokane County Democratic Party, David Smith. He addresses the Otto Zehm matter, which is the issue that Keefe said pursuaded him to back Condon.

“Mary Verner was not mayor when Otto Zehm died. She was sworn into office a full eighteen months after his death. She could have chosen to augment her political capital by joining in the public condemnation of Officer Thompson,” Smith said. ” Instead, despite her professed grief for the family of Otto Zehm, she chose to accept the political risk inherent in standing up for Officer Thompson’s right to a fair trial. Doing so took courage.  Standing up for the constitution always does.”

Here is Smith's full statement responding to Keefe's endorsement:

Big bucks for booze: Costco donation breaks record

OLYMPIA – In an effort to get voters to end the state's liquor monopoly, Costco this week made the largest contribution in history – nearly $9 million – to a state ballot campaign.

The discount retail giant based in Issaquah, Wash., nearly doubled down on its contributions this year to the Yes on Initiative 1183 campaign, on which it had already spent more than $12 million through cash contributions and in-kind services such as employee time for gathering signatures in less than a month to get the proposal on the Nov. 8 ballot…

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

Hession misquotes Lincoln

A new campaign ad that’s been posted on YouTube by the campaign of Dennis Hession starts with him making the following statement:

“Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than you earn.’ I believe that. My opponent does not.”

Hession apparently has fallen victim to the “Ten Points.” That’s a list that originated in a pamphlet distributed in 1916 by Rev. William John Henry Boetcker, of Pennsylvania, according to Washington Post and Chicago Tribune articles from 1992.

The list has often been mistaken as Lincoln’s own words, and Hession finds himself in good company. The Post and Tribune articles from 1992 were about former President Ronald Reagan incorrectly attributing portions of the “Ten Points” to Lincoln in a speech to the Republican National Convention.

Today’s fun video: Daily Show take on GOP debate


The Daily Show is a little late on its segment on the latest GOP presidential candidates debate — it happened after the show started Tuesday, so they couldn't get to it until Wednesday night — but they did manage to do a pretty good take off.

McMorris Rodgers isn’t naming GOP favorite — yet

Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers smiled, hesitated and then dodged a question that could have earned her plenty of press – and grief: She declined an invitation to endorse a Republican presidential candidate today.

Eastern Washington’s representative and member of the U.S. House’s Republican leadership team was wrapping up her appearance at the Spokane City Forum when an anonymous questioner quizzed McMorris-Rodgers’ preferences.

She didn’t take the bait.

We’ll have to wait, perhaps after a clear front-runner emerges next year. No surprises there.

McMorris Rodgers revisited her standard talking points, including cutting federal regulations, slashing federal spending, repealing federal health care reform, and passing a balanced-budget amendment.

These City Forums are a worthwhile $10 affair. The speakers are important, local and relevant. Check it out at

No lie: They’re in the mail

General election ballots for Spokane County began hitting the post office today.

County elections is mailing a total of 265,768 ballots to registered voters. They started today and will finish on Thursday. That means if you don't get a ballot by next Friday, Oct. 28, something might be amiss and you want to call the county elections office, at 477-2320, to find out what's going on while there's still time to get a replacement in the mail.

It is still possible to register to vote for the Nov. 8 general election, although you'll have to go to your county elections office to sign up in person.

After they are marked, sealed and signed, ballots can be returned by mail as long as they are postmarked by Nov. 8, or deposited in a drop box at locations set up in each county.

The locations of Spokane drop boxes can be found inside the blog.

Does Sesame Street have a governor?

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire's office just revealed one of the year's most eagerly awaited announcements: What  the governor will be for Halloween.

Gregoire and her husband Mike traditionally don costumes and greet kids at the governor's mansion for a couple of hours on Halloween to give out treats. (Don't even think about tricks. The mansion's security is provided by state troopers.)

This year, the governor will be dressed as Elmo from Sesame Street. Mike Gregoire will be dressed as Super Grover, which the office describes for those who are not close followersr of “the Street” as Grover's “super hero alter ego.” Some of the chocolate bars will have tickets to a special holiday reception in December.

Not clear yet is whether Gregoire will be practicing Elmo's high-pitched voice at press conferences between now and Oct. 31.

Decoration and treats are covered by surplus campaign funds. Good thing, because with the state's current budget problems, the office would be hard pressed to buy a bag of candy corn and give it out one kernel at a time.

Fact Checking Tuesday’s prez debate

Most Republican presidential candidates were in Las Vegas Tuesday night for the CNN debate. But what happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas when you're running for president, and what's said in a presidential debate gets dissected before you get out of the auditorium at the Venetian and walk past the blackjack tables.

It was a pretty feisty debate, which opened with most candidates piling on Herman Cain, who is rising in the polls, and offered some spirited exchanges between Mitt Romney and Rich Perry. Hard to say who the winner was, but it's pretty clear the loser was moderator Anderson Cooper, who lost control of the debate at several points when the candidates tried talking over each other and wouldn't stop.

“I thought Republicans followed the rules,” he complained at one point. Get a grip, Anderson. Anyone who occupies the Oval Office doesn't have to play by the rules…a president gets to make  his or her own rules. has a rundown of some of the main points that came up in the debate, including Cain's 9-9-9 plan and Romney's Massachusetts health care plan.

Allen, Rush support more street funding, but differ on specifics

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Here is what likely will be the last of the videos featuring the City Council race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen. They debate if the city should go for a new 10-year street bond and if the city should consider creating fees for streets on utility bills.

The other five Allen-Rush videos include an intro and their thoughts about:

Water rates.

Red light cameras.

Budget cuts.

Moving Jefferson Elementary School.

During KSPS debate, Rush questions Allen’s work ethic

NOTE: This post has been corrected from an earlier version to accurately reflect the number of times Allen was recorded absent during Spokane Employees' Retirement System board meeting. An earlier version was incorrect because of a reporter error.

Before tonight's KSPS candidates debate was filmed last week, Councilman Richard Rush handed out the minutes for each meeting in 2009 of the Spokane Employees' Retirement System board to each debate panelist.

The records didn't come up in the debate. When asked about the minutes afterward, Rush pointed to the attendence listings that show Allen was absent for seven of the 10 meetings when Allen served as the City Council representative on the board. Rush said if Allen is so concerned about financial accountability, Allen should have been present.

Allen, who served two years on the City Council, is challenging Rush's bid for re-election.

Allen said this week that the pension meetings conflicted with his job at the time as an administrator at Eastern Washington University. He said he did attend, though often late, at least half of the meetings and is unsure why he was listed as absent, he said. Allen said missing meetings won’t be a problem now that he owns his own business.

“I control my own schedule now,” he said.

Verner’s message on water rates sounding more like Condon’s

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The second video on the mayoral race features one of the hottest topics: water rates.

Since this was filmed, Verner announced that she would float a new water rate proposal to City Council before the end of the year.

City Council President Joe Shogan already has started debate by introducing legislation to go back to rates based on the old water rate structure that was in place until last year. The result would be that rates would increase on those who use less and fall for those who use more.

Shogan said at a meeting Monday that he expects to hold a hearing on the topic sometime next month. Shogan, like Verner, supported the structure change last year, but now believes it should be changed.

City spokeswoman Marlene Feist said Verner will introduce her water rate proposal in time to be considered by the council during debate on Shogan's plan. It will be developed in consultation with HDR Engineering, which advised her and the council when setting rates last year.

Shogan said he introduced his rate proposal to spark debate and is open to Verner's idea or others that may emerge.

Rush and Allen differ on decision to move Jefferson

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The Spokane City Council didn't make the decision to move Jefferson Elementary School, but it's one of the more divisive issues specific to the south district. Here's what the two candidates for the south district, Richard Rush and Mike Allen say about the School Board's vote.

Rush, Allen debate eliminating city departments

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Here's part three of our election video series.

Gregoire going to China, Japan

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is racking up the frequent flier miles this month. She's in Washington, D.C., right now for a National Governors Association meeting. Next week, she'll be going to China and Japan.

Gregoire is leading an NGA delegation to Beijing that leaves Monday, a spokeswoman said. That organization is paying the cost of the trip for her and an aide. She'll also have a couple state patrol officers accompanying her for security, which will be covered by the state.

Also making the trip will be governors from Georgia, Hawaii, North Carolina, Guam and the Northern Mariannas Islands.

After finishing in Beijing, Gregoire, her aide and security folks will make a brief side trip to Tokyo where she will meet with two Japanese companies that have manufacturing facilities in Washington and are looking to expand. One company makes carbon fiber parts for Boeing and is thinking of expanding into the automobile field; another makes silicon wafers.

The group is scheduled to return to Washington state on Friday.

Total cost to the state for the trip is still being calculated.

DSHS’s Dreyfus leaving at year’s end

OLYMPIA — Susan Dreyfus, the director of the Department of Social and Health Services, is leaving after the end of the year.

Dreyfus will stay through the upcoming special legislative session, which begins Nov. 28 and is expected to take a big chunk of the $2 billion hole the state needs to fill out of DSHS. She's taking a  job with Families International, Inc., a nonprofit organization that has three other nonprofits under its umbrella. Its previous director died in August.

Gov. Chris Gregoire appointed Dreyfus to run the state's mega-agency in May 2009; at the time she was the chief operating officer for the Alliance for Children and Families and Families International in Wisconsin.

The governor will likely make an interim appointment before the end of the special session, her office said.

Rush, Allen debate water rates

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Here's part two of our video series on race between Richard Rush and Mike Allen.

Condon questions decision to send city utility drivers to ‘green driver’ training

David Condon, who is challenging Spokane Mayor Mary Verner in her bid for reelection, criticized Verner's speech to City Council on Monday for not mentioning new water rates or the “tragic loss of confidence in our police and legal authorities.”

“Overall, the Mayor told a nice bedtime fairy tale, with green elves and happy worker,” Condon said in a news release. “But it's time to wake up and see the real challenges facing our city government.”

Condon's response criticized the decision to send city utility drivers to “green driver” training.

A part of Verner's speech mentioned steps the city has taken to reduce energy consumption. She noted that the city spend about $8 million a year on its power bill.

“Taking these steps to reduce energy expenses are a sustainable and responsible approach to cost management,” Verner said in her speech, according to prepared remarks.

Asked about his criticism of “green driver” training, Condon said such training might reduce expenses a bit, but it's a sign that the mayor is focusing on small programs that won't solve the on-going, annual multi-million dollar deficits.

“We need to make some long-term policy changes,'” he said.

Allen and Rush critique Rush and Allen

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Today, we release the first of several election videos. We'll start with one of the races that didn't have a primary, the Spokane City Council seat representing the South Hill.

Former Gov. Rosellini dead at 101

Rosellini signs the bill that created the State Library in 1957. Photo courtesy of the State Archives, via the Secretary of State's office.

 Albert Rosellini, who served as the state's governor for two terms starting in 1957, died today at age 101.

The son of immigrants, he rose to be the state's chief executive then the Democratic Party's elder statesman. He was a rare politician whose passing is being marked by members of both parties.

To read a complete obituary, click here.

Online voter registration deadline: TODAY

If you're a Washington resident who has been putting off registering to vote but still want to cast a ballot in the November general election, here's your last warning:

This is the last day to register the relatively easy way, online. You can just go to the Secretary of State's website and follow the instrluctions.

Because this is a federal holiday (Columbus Day), the time has passed to download a form, fill it out and mail it in. You can't get it postmarked today because the Post Offices are closed.

But the Internet does not close down, so you can do it  online.

Miss today's deadline and you'll have to go to your county elections office, fill out the form in person and turn it in, sometime between now and Halloween. But seriously: If you've been procrastinating this long, which are you more likely to do? Click a link and type in some info, or figure out where the elections office is, when it's open and drive over there?

We thought so. Click on the link and get going.

If you're an Idaho voter, never mind. The rules are different there.

Catch the candidates: Valley races tonight

Got questions about a particular candidate or race in the Valley? Tonight's the night.

Central Valley High School Advanced Placement Government class is hosting a debate and forum for the 4th Legislative District Senate race, Valley City Council, Liberty Lake City Council Position 5 and Liberty Lake Mayor.

The students get to ask the questions, but don't let that deter you. In the years of watching a similar debate by the Spokane Youth Commission, it has become clear that Art Linkletter had it wrong. Kids don't say the darnedest things; they ask some of the toughest questions.

It starts at 5 p.m. at the CVHS theater.

Reykdal looking at auditor race

State Rep. Chris Reykdal is officially thinking about running for state auditor.

That is, he announced today he's formed an “exploratory committee” to look into the possibility of running for the job being vacated by Brian Sonntag.

Reykdahl, D-Olympia, is the second Democrat to talk about getting into the race. Rep. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way is also in.

If you're thinking that there was a time when only presidential candidates announced exploratory committees instead of just saying “I'm running”, you're right. And you're probably kind of old.

Sunday Spin: At the confluence of two wars

OLYMPIA – It’s never really clear whether coincidence or fate juxtaposes certain events, but there was a peculiar one here last week.

For those who didn’t notice, Friday was the 10th anniversary of the start of the war in Afghanistan. It’s a milestone that was mostly honored in its breach; perhaps the 20th will be a bigger deal if the United States is actually out of Afghanistan.

Friday was also the day the state Department of Veterans Affairs put out a call for photos of the casualties of a previous war, Vietnam. It’s a dual purpose request: the state is trying to have one photo of every service member from Washington killed in that war, and the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in the other Washington has an ambitious expansion project to get at least one photo for each of the 58,272 names on The Wall.

There are 1,049 Washington names on The Wall, and state Veterans Affairs has photos of about half of them. (If you have a photo of a relative or friend from Washington state who died in Vietnam, check the newspaper’s online database  to see if it’s one the state needs.)

Marking an anniversary of the start of the Vietnam War was always difficult. . .

Mailing in that registration? Do it quickly

Washington residents who are eligible to vote but haven’t registered have until Saturday to mail in their registration forms, and until Monday to sign up online.

The final deadline for mail and online voting is Monday, but that’s Columbus Day, a federal holiday on which post offices will be closed. Mail-in registrations must be postmarked by Monday, but if they don’t get postmarked Saturday, they won’t be postmarked until Tuesday.

It will be possible to register online through Monday by going to the Secretary of State’s web site . Residents who miss that deadline can still sign up in person at a county elections office until Oct. 31.

Verner beats Condon; Hession tops Stuckart

The Chase Youth Commission held its annual candidates' debate tonight, an event that is usually one of the better debates of the season and comes with the bonus of a vote from teens in the audience at the end.

Here are the picks of Spokane's youth:

Spokane Mayor:

Mary Verner: 30

David Condon: 24

Spokane City Council President

Dennis Hession: 34

Ben Stuckart: 20

Spokane City Council, Northeast district seat:

Donna McKereghan: 28

Mike Fagan: 24

Spokane City Council, Northwest district seat:

Steve Salvatori: 41

Joy Jones: 13

Spokane City Council, South district seat:

No vote taken because Mike Allen did not attend.

Billboard sponsor on water rates remains unknown

The person who has paid for five billboards criticizing the Spokane City Council and Spokane Mayor Mary Verner for their decisions related to water rates plans to remain anonymous.

Five billboards about the water rates were erected about a week ago and will stay up for the month of October, said Tom Townsend, general manager of Emerald Outdoor Advertising.

Townsend said the ads were not sponsored by Emerald, which had a widely publicized fight with the mayor in 2009 when she planned to end bus bench advertising.

“We're just the messenger,” Townsend said.

He also said the man who bought the ads is not related to the campaign of David Condon, who is challenging Verner in the November election, or anyone else running for office.

“It's not against anybody,” Townsend said. “It's just somebody giving his opinion on a matter.”

City Councilman Richard Rush, however, questioned how the billboard could be unrelated to the election since it specifically calls out “The Mayor and City Council” the month before an election.

Rush laughed when told that the purchaser did not plan to reveal himself.

“There's some courage for you,” Rush said.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the state Public Disclosure Commission, said as long as the ads are not sponsored by a campaign, they would not have to be reported to the commission unless the total cost was at least $5,000 for each politician mentioned. Because it mentioned the mayor and City Council, the total cost of the campaign would have to reach $40,000.

Townsend said the total cost of the campaign was less than $5,000.

Labor unions to join “Occupy” protests

OLYMPIA — The Washington State Labor Council says it will  join with various local versions of the “Occupy Wall Street” protests next week.

The council is in line with national labor leaders who are praising the protests from New York City to Seattle and Spokane for “capturing the imagination and passion of millions of Americans who have lost  hope that our nation's policymakers are speaking for them.”

Unions are planning a “Week of Action” starting next Monday, and want to hook up with Occupy demonstrations for some joint efforts. They haven't yet announced an agenda for their coming week.

Occupy Spokane protests have all been peaceful so far, but Occupy Seattle demonstrations at the Westlake Park resulted in 25 arrests Wednesday after protesters refused a city order to remove their tents. The tents have come down and but protesters remain in the downtown park…

Registration reminder: Sign up by Monday

Washington residents who want to vote in the general election but just haven't got around to registering have until Monday to sign up “the easy ways.”

The easy ways are by Internet, by going to the Secretary of State's website, or by mailing in a voter registration form.

The slightly harder way — which might also be regarded as “the old way”, because that's what folks once had to do — is to go down to your county elections office and fill out the form in person. If you miss Monday's deadline, you can still do that until Halloween. But let's face it, if you won't do it on the Internet in the comfort of your own home, and maybe in your pajamas, how likely are you to make a special trip to the county offices?

You are eligible to vote if you are:

At least 18 years old by Nov. 8, which is election day this year.
A citizen of the United States.
A resident of Washington state

So if all those apply, you can vote unless you are :

A convicted felon who has not had your voting rights restored.
Someone declared mentally incompetent and ineligible to vote by a court.

So if you can pass this 5-point test, you can register.

An estimate released by the Secretary of State's office suggests that about one in five Washington residents who are eligible to vote are not registered.

So if 20 percent aren't even registered, and only 60 percent bother to vote, and the winning candidate gets 51 percent, how is that an example of “majority rules?”

Today’s fun video: Obama channeling Reagan


You can do almost anything with the right collection of video clips, including making Barack Obama and Ronald Reagan seem like they were philosophically separated at birth.

At least that's what Think Progress, a liberal organization, did with this video.

Longtime Dem backs Condon, blasts Verner over Zehm

Former Democratic County Chairman and one-time congressional candidate Tom Keefe said today he is reaching outside his normal partisan boundaries to endorse David Condon in the mayor's race.

Officially, municipal races in Spokane are non-partisan. But sometimes the county organization or prominent party members endorse candidates who are politically well aligned. When that happens, it's sometimes considered news, but rarely is it NEWS.

But this is not one of those cases. Instead, it's an instance of a longtime Democrat endorsing a known Republican. Keefe is a former congressional aide whose service goes all the way back to Warren G. Magnuson; he ran for Congress against Republican Rep. George Nethercutt in 2000.

Condon is the former district manager to Nethercutt's successor, Cathy McMorris Rodgers and a GOP campaigner before becoming a candidate.

The reason for the cross-party endorsement? The Otto Zehm case…

Today’s fun video: Daily Show airs out the N word


This may be the funniest send up of the Rick Perry hunting camp name controversy. But be advised that it may be the most concentrated use of the “N word” in a single television segment.

By the way, Wyatt Cenac's contention that Washington has a “Niggerhead Mining District” does not seem to be quite accurate. There is, however, a Niggerhead Creek and a Niggerhead Road that leads up to a gold mine in the McCoy Creek area, and a Nigger Creek Placer Mine in Chelan County.

Council supports Verner’s choice for planning director despite past receipt controversy

The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 7-0 to appoint Scott Chesney as its new planning director.

The former director of planning and development for El Mirage, Ariz. hasn't even worked a day in his new job and he's already been the focus of a Doug Clark column.

While serving as the planning and community development director for Surprise, Ariz., Chesney admitted violating city policy by using city credit cards to buy alcohol for himself and staff, and failed to provide itemized receipts for reimbursement, the Arizona Republic reported after Chesney resigned in November 2007. He told the paper that he bought drinks with a city credit card to reward staff for hard work.

No one on the council mentioned the issue before the vote, but City Councilman Jon Snyder criticized the hiring process because he said the City Plan Commission was not consulted.

Baumgartner ‘officially’ in Senate race

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner made his “official” announcement today that he's running against Maria Cantwell next year.

If that sounds familiar, it's because he was on television Friday evening, and in this newspaper Saturday morning, saying he'd run. That may have seemed pretty official to most folks.

Baumgartner previously said he'd make an announcement today, but did an interview with KING-TV on Friday for that station's weekend public affairs show. He said he was running with cameras running; KING and its Spokane sister station KREM had it at 5 p.m. Friday, and KXLY had a brief mention by 5:30 p.m. Generally speaking, The Spokesman-Review does a single story about a candidate's announcement and  will wait for an “official” announcement that we know is coming as long as the candidate doesn't make some other kind of public pronouncement. When that happens, as it did in this case, we posted  Friday and published  Saturday that we would have posted today and published tomorrow.

So let's call today the official unveiling of his campaign website and the unveiling of the obligatory campaign video on YouTube. And there's nothing more official for a campaign than having a web site and a video, no?

Well, nothing except maybe drawing a first strike from the opposing party. State Democrats were quick to brand Baumgartner as a far-right extremist for signing the 2010 Spokane County Republican platform which calls for such things as withdrawing from the United Nations, eliminating the U.S. Department of Education, returning to the gold standard and repealing the Endangered Species Act.

Baumgartner did sign the platform, but said it has about 120 planks; he agrees with some but has spoken out against others, such as withdrawing from the UN.

Expect the platform to come up on a regular basis as Baumgartner tries to get some name identification on the West Side.

Young voters’ numbers lagging (still)

OLYMPIA — The Secretary of State's office has some new numbers on voter registration among different age brackets, and they show what political experts have known for ages.

That young folks register to vote in lower percentages than they represent in the general population, and senior citizens sign up in higher — much higher — percentages than they represent.

Despite various registration initiatives targeting young voters, they don't show up on the voter rolls in particularly high numbers as of last month. OK, so it isn't a presidential election and they didn't have a charismatic candidate like Barack Obama to sign up and vote for (and perhaps by now they've decided that vote for Obama wasn't working so well for them, anyway.)

That 18 to 24 demographic, which is targeted by Rock the Vote, campus voter drives and various Social Media initiatives, made up about 8.8 percent of the registered voters as of Sept. 19. Figures from the 2010 Census show that they made up about 12.6 percent of the state's population.

It only gets a bit better for the next group, the 25 to 34 year olds. They are 15.5 percent of registered voters; they make up 18.2 percent of the population.

After 35, things start to get a bit more equal in terms of proportions. The group from 35 to 44 constitute 16.3 percent of the voters; they make up 17.6 percent of the population.

The 45 to 54 year olds represent 19.8 percent of the voters, they made up 19.2 percent of the population.

Then things start to reverse. The 55 to 65 year olds are 19.7 percent of the voters; they were 16.2 percent of the population.

The 65 and older crowd are 20 percent of the voter rolls; they were 16.1 percent of the population.

There's a caveat here: The Census figures show age, not eligibility, so there are some people in each voting block — such as felons and those who aren't citizens, whether they're in the country legally — who couldn't register even if they wanted. The Census, in theory any way, counts everyone, not just citizens.

But if one assumes that ineligibility to vote crosses all age groups about equally (it may actually hit harder in the middle age groups, where more people have had a chance to rack up felony convictions) there's further proof that younger folks are, essentially, staying away in droves.

About half of all Washington residents between 18 and 24 are registered to vote. That goes up to 60 percent from ages 25 to 34; 65 percent ages 35 to 44; 73 percent ages 45 to 54; 86 percent for ages 55 to 64 and 89 percent for those 65 and older.

A year ago, Spin Control  managed to torque a few young voters by harumphing over strategies to sign them up. Our harumph still stands.

BTW. You  have one week left to sign up to vote the easy way, by mail or by Internet. After that, you would actually have to go to the county elections office — in person — and fill out the forms.

Redistricting hearing set

The state Redistricting Commission has a hearing on Oct. 11 to give the public one more chance to weigh in on the proposed redrawing of lines for political districts. Each of the four commissioners submitted maps earlier this month for the 10 congressional districts and 49 legislative districts, and the commission put those maps on its website.

The hearing is in Olympia, but will be broadcast live on TVW and online. The panel will take comments in person, on the phone and via the Internet.

Sunday Spin: Ads give up the right to remain silent

The campaigns for and against the get-the-state-out-of-the-booze-biz initiative seem in a competition for “first responders” willing to endorse their stance.

It started with the ad by Protect Our Communities, the official name of the No on I-1183 committee, which enlisted a county sheriff, a city police chief and a pair of firefighters to denounce the proposal…

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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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