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Spin Control

Archive for 2012

Today’s fun video: Jibjab looks at 2012

Spin Control had last week off, but in place of Sunday Spin we offer the annual Jibjab look back at the year past.

And for those with fond (or at least good) memories of 2012, try this week's That's News to You Quiz, which has 20 questions about news events from the past year and a special prizes: a drawing for a $100 gift card to the Davenport Hotel for the top entries and a drawing for a pair of tickets to a Spokane Chiefs' hockey game for all entries.

Sunday Spin: Annual Christmas Trivia Quiz

Once again, in the spirit of peace on Earth to men and women of good will, Spin Control avoids political commentary so close to Christmas. This year our holiday wish is that if lions can lie down with the lambs, Senate Republicans can peacefully break bread with Senate Democrats, NRA members can share a cup of cheer with gun control advocates and birthers will wake up Tuesday morning to find a brand new conspiracy in their stockings.

Instead, we offer our annual 12 Trivias of Christmas Quiz. 

1. In the song 12 Days of Christmas, how many day have gifts involving people?
2
3
4
 5

2. In “It’s a Wonderful Life,” what book is Clarence the angel reading?

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
The Adventures of Huck Finn
Dickens’ Christmas Carol
The Red Badge of Courage

3. Who was the first president to celebrate Christmas in the White House?
George Washington
John Adams
Thomas Jefferson
James Monroe

4. When Kevin McCallister is left “Home Alone”, where does his family go?
Disneyland
Hawaii
Paris
New York

5. How much does Lucy charge for psychiatric advice in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”?
A penny
A nickel
A dime
She doesn’t charge; she gives her advice for free.

6. Who narrates the television version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”?
Dr. Seuss
Boris Karloff
Bill Cosby
Bing Crosby

7. The story of Jesus’s birth is described in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. Which of the following accurately represents those accounts?
Both feature shepherds and the Magi.
Both have shepherds but only Matthew has the Magi.
Both have shepherds but only Luke has the Magi.
The Magi are in Matthew, the shepherds are in Luke.

8. What do the children drink on the way to the North Pole on the “Polar Express”?
Warm milk
Hot chocolate
Egg nog
Holiday
punch

9. “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas” was rewritten this year to be more politically correct by a Canadian author who changed what?
Santa is not described as an “elf” to avoid offending little people.
Santa comes through the door to avoid references to carbon-burning fuel in the fireplace.
Santa is described as so trim and fit he can slide down the chimney without getting ashes and soot.
Santa isn’t smoking a pipe.

10. Ebenezer Scrooge’s favorite line in “A Christmas Carol” is “Bah. Humbug.” What is a humbug?
It's a trick or a hoax.
It’s a small, pesky insect that plagued Londoners in the 1800s.
It’s a stupid person.
It’s a 19th Century oath.

11. Kissing under the mistletoe is a custom that is traced back to
Ancient Greeks
Ancient Romans
Ancient Celts
Ancient Norse

12. When Washington crossed the Delaware on Christmas 1776 to surprise the British at Trenton, what future president was wounded in the battle?
Thomas Jefferson
James Madison
James Monroe
Andrew Jackson

For answers, go inside the blog.

When Inouye came to Spokane

Inouye and David SoHappy Sr., at Geiger Corrections Center in March 1988. Spokesman-Review photo by Dan Pelle.

The passing of Sen. Daniel Inouye this week generated some memories from long-time Democrat Tom Keefe, who reminded Spin Control of the time the Hawaiian senator came to Spokane in 1988 and made a trip to Geiger Corrections Center. 

We'll let Keefe tell the story:

 

On March 6, 1988  Inouye of Hawaii, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs, visited with David Sohappy and his son, David, Jr., following their acquittal in Yakama Tribal Court of all charges related to the federal/state “Salmonscam” sting operation that occurred on the fall of 1981 and the spring of 1982 along the Columbia River.  Following their conviction in federal court in Los Angeles, the Sohappys were each sentenced to serve five years in federal prison for selling their own salmon (David, Sr. was convicted of selling 317, David, Jr. to selling 28) to undercover federal agents.  The first photo was picked up by the Associated Press and appeared in newspapers nationwide.

As our visit was ending, David and his son stood on each side of Senator Inouye, David, Sr. facing him.  They began to slowly sing a sacred Feather Religion song, passing their hands through the air above and around the senator, who stood with head bowed in silent reflection.  When they finished, he thanked them both.

Before coming to Spokane, Senator Inouye asked me to provide him with standard sentencing ranges under Washington State law for a variety of crimes (burglary, child abuse, bank robbery, etc.) for which David and his son would have received lesser prison sentences. He calmly and deliberately listed those offenses for the gathered press as we departed the prison yard, and thereby highlighted the disproportionality of what had occurred.  Senator Inouye continued to carry that message to Indian Country and to the White House until the Sohappys were released. Without his intervention, David would have likely died in prison.

Senator Inouye’s last words to David at the prison gate were, “Don’t give up.  The next time we meet again I hope it is at your home at Cooks Landing”.  When David Sohappy passed away, Senator Inouye sent a personal note of condolence to the Sohappy family.

The federal “Salmonscam” and subsequent search for justice for David Sohappy proved to be the final great battle of the “Indian wars” over treaty fishing rights that had plagued the Pacific Northwest and the State of Washington for over a century.  Thanks largely to the courage of Senator Daniel Inouye, that sad chapter in our state’s history was finally closed.  

What’s unusual about this photo?

S-R photo by Sandra Bancroft-Billings

Today's story about assault-weapon bans had this photo from the 1994 campaign of then House Speaker Tom Foley shooting a buffalo rifle at a local shooting range.

It's one of my favorite photos from the campaign, in part because there are two things about Foley that most people might say they'd rarely or never seen before.

One, obviously, is him shooting a buffalo rifle.

What's the other one?

Answer inside the blog.

Senate passes bill to rename Spokane VA

Spokane's Veterans Affairs Medical Center moved a step closer to getting a new name today as the Senate passed a bill to name it after two local Medal of Honor winners.

The Northwest Spokane facility would become the Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center in honor of Pfc. Joe E. Mann and Platoon Sgt. Bruce Grandstaff.

Mann was a member of the 101st Airborne in World War II who was wounded four times while destroying an enemy artillery position near Best, in The Netherlands. Later that night, with both arms bandaged to his body, he volunteered for sentry duty and when the Germans attacked and a grenade was thrown, he threw himself on the grenade to save other members of his unit.

Grandstaff was a member of the 4th Infantry Division in Vietnam who was leading a reconnaisance mission that was ambushed near the Cambodian border. He crawled through enemy fire to rescue his men, and crawled outside the safe position to mark the location with smoke grenades for aerial support. He continued to fight until mortally wounded, then called in an artillery barrage to knock out enemy forces.

The Senate passed legislation sponsored by Democrat Patty Murray to rename the center. A companion bill sponsored by Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers is pending in the House of Representatives.

There appears only one problem with this idea: Mann-Grandstaff Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center is a really long name, so someone is going to have to come up with a way to shorten it. If you've got any suggestions, put them in the comment section.

Obama asked ‘where ya been?’ on assault weapon ban

At a White House press conference today, President Barack Obama announced a group of high-level federal officials, headed by Vice President Joe Biden, will look at ways to reduce gun violence. 

The White House press corps mainly asked about negotiations on the “fiscal cliff”, but in for the last question, Jake Tapper managed to rile Obama by bringing the focus back to a possible assault weapon ban, and what the president has — or hasn't — done about it.

From the official White House transcript:

   It seems to a lot of observers that you made the political calculation in 2008 in your first term and in 2012 not to talk about gun violence.  You had your position on renewing the ban on semiautomatic rifles that then-Senator Biden put into place, but you didn’t do much about it.  This is not the first issue — the first incident of horrific gun violence of your four years.  Where have you been?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, here’s where I’ve been, Jake.  I’ve been President of the United States dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars.  I don’t think I’ve been on vacation. . . 

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

Council OK for Spokane tent city unlikely

A homeless advocate's proposal to create a large tent city beneath Interstate 90 won't be getting approval from Spokane City Hall any time soon, City Council President Ben Stuckart predicts.

Stuckart said this week that he asked his fellow council members if they’d be interested in extending the 14-day limit imposed by the transient shelter ordinance and each gave him an informal “nay.”

Pushing the issue is homeless advocate Ralph “Doc” Harvey and his wife, Becky, who want to create a 50-person shelter under the freeway on South Browne Street, but current city laws prohibit a tent city from existing for more than 14 days.

Harvey's next stop is the state Transportation Department, which is in charge of the area under the freeway, Harvey said.

Gregoire budget: Combination of cuts and taxes

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed two “lame-duck” budgets Tuesday for her successor and the next Legislature to consider next year. One cuts programs to stay within the revenue the state expects to collect; the other adds some programs it may need to improve public schools, and would need some extra tax revenue.

She called the former “simply unacceptable” because it cuts money for public schools, colleges, local governments and social programs.

The latter, she said, was a “balanced solution” that accounts for savings the state has made through consolidations and better management practices, and again cancels raises for public school teachers that were approved by voters in 2000 but rarely funded since. But that budget spends more . . .

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

News flash: Obama wins Washington

Rick Lloyd of Spokane Valley, center, and other members of Washington's Electoral College sign paperwork to cast the state's electoral votes for Barack Obama.

OLYMPIA – Forget what the news media told you six weeks ago. Barack Obama was elected to his second term as president Monday in a process that the Founding Fathers dreamed up in 1787 and has confounded Americans pretty regularly since.

The Electoral College – which doesn’t have a mascot, a fight song or even a campus – met at noon Monday in state capitals around the nation and awarded votes to Obama or Mitt Romney based on the general election results.

Each state gets one elector for each member of the U.S. House of Representatives and senator, so in Idaho, the four votes were cast for Republican Mitt Romney, even though the former Massachusetts governor has no chance of moving into the White House.

In Washington, where a majority of votes were cast for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, 12 men and women selected by Democratic activists gathered in the Capitol’s marble-walled Reception Room to do the official work of casting the Evergreen State’s ballots, which mostly involved signing their names to multiple sheets of paper with official writing and seals.

A bit tedious to watch, maybe, but exciting to be part of, electors said. . . 

Senate Dems: How about we split power?

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats offered a power-sharing agreement to counter last week's proposal by Republicans and two defecting members of their party. They called for co-leaders for the Senate and co-chairmen for all committees.

But the top Republican and the Democrat the coalition wants to install as Senate majority leader quickly balked. Somebody has to be in charge, Sens. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, and Rodney Tom, D-Bellevue, said, and they believe they have the votes to make sure it is them. . . 

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

Murray to Tom: You don’t control Senate

OLYMPIA — The Senate will have two claimants to the title of “majority leader” when the Legislature convenes on Jan. 14

Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray of Seattle said Republicans will need more than a press conference and a logo on their stationary to be in control of the chamber.

In a letter today to Sen. Rodney Tom of Bellevue, who last week was named majority leader by a coalition of the chamber's 23 Republicans, himself and fellow defecting Democrat Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, Murray says that's not how the system works: “Under the current and past Senate rules, and longstanding past interpretations of those rules, the majority caucus is defined as the party containing the most elected members, which currently remains the Democratic Caucus.”

Tom wrote Murray last week, asking him to name chairmen and co-chairmen to certain committees the coalition said it was asking Democrats to control as a sign of bipartisanship. Murray made clear today he wasn't going to do that.

The party with the most members elects the majority leader, and the Democrats picked him. The Democratic Caucus also sent its choice for committee leaders and members to the lieutenant governor, who fills those slots “as presented to him by the majority caucus.”

The coalition will  have to change the permanent rules of the Senate. Until that happens. . . 

It’s presidential election day. No, really. It is

OLYMPIA — The next president of the United States will be elected today.

Barring some real skullduggery so remote it can't be mapped out here, that will be Barack Obama.

What? You thought Obama was re-elected more than a month ago? It was in all the papers, and on all the cable news networks — even Fox News after Karl Rove calmed down?

Not exactly. That was the general election, but the president, as you will recall from junior high civics, is elected by the Electoral College.

The EC, as its closest friends call it, meets today. Not in one place, but in state capitals all over the nation. In Washington, they will meet in the State Reception Room at noon, where they are expected to cast the state's 12 votes for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

Sunday spin: A Senate of 49 kings and queens

OLYMPIA – To hear supporters tell it, a new power-sharing coalition in the state Senate could usher in a Legislative session of compromise and moderation, with a positive response to Rodney King’s famous question: Can’t we all just get along?

Forgive a professional skeptic, but it’s more likely to be best described by the title of a famous 1934 speech by Huey Long: Every man a king.

That’s not to suggest the 23 Republicans and two Democrats who last week announced a “Coalition Majority” will push for the Louisiana populist’s platform of wealth redistribution. Far from it.

Rather, they have set up a scenario where any controversial piece of legislation could be held hostage by any senator at any time. . . 

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

Flags to half-staff for Connecticut victims

OLYMPIA — As state leaders weigh in with shock, sadness and support for the families of the Connecticut shooting victims, Gov. Chris Gregoire ordered state flags lowered to half-staff through Tuesday.

Gregoire called the shootings in Newtown, Conn., “incomprehensible” adding “all Washingtonians stand with me in expressing our profound sorrow and grief.”

Governor-elect Jay Inslee called it “an incredibly dark day for our nation” and a day of mourning. “But in the days to come I will be listening to all in our community with ideas for how we can prevent such violence.”

Spokane Mayor David Condon described the community as “heartbroken” but said the city and school district have a commitment to student safety. “The City of Spokane and Spokane Public Schools work closely together in many ways to help ensure that our kids are safe at school and within our community.”

Sen. Ed Murray of Seattle, the Senate Democratic leader, called it a “horrendous, senseless shooting” but the kind of violent action that is becoming too frequent. “I believe we are long overdue to have the politically difficult discussion of how we prevent them.”

Spokane to close its IMAX at end of year

The IMAX at Riverfront Park only will be open for six months.

The Spokane Park Board on Thursday voted unanimously to close the theater after Dec. 31.

It will open for six months in the spring. Park officials estimated that shortening the schedule would save about $90,000.

Hargrove: Coalition isn’t sharing power

Sen. Jim Hargrove shows charts that indicate where state government has reduced spending on some social programs.

OLYMPIA — Senate Democrats don't know yet whether they will accept an offer to lead six legislative committees in the coming session, Sen. Jim Hargrove said today.

The Hoquiam Democrat, who is the chamber's longest serving legislator, said they'll  meet next week to discuss their options. But Hargrove said the coalition of 23 Republican and two Democrats who formed a coalition majority with a plan to run the Senate is not really offering to share power by letting Democrats run six committees and be co-chairmen of three others.

“It's not a power-sharing offer. It's a structural offer,” Hargrove said.

Whether it results in more bipartisan cooperation isn't clear, he added. “Our expectation was that everything was going to have to be bipartisan.”

Part of that strategy for Democrats was appointing Hargrove, one of the most conservative Democrats in the Senate to be chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which is arguably the most powerful committee becaue it handles the budget. But that was last month, when it looked as though they had a 26-23 majority. After Democrats Rodney Tom of Bellevue and Tim Sheldon of Potlach decided to form a new majority with the 23 Republicans, that group named Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, to head that committee.

Democrats will meet next week to discuss possible reassignments.

“That's all up for discussion, but as of this point I think I'm the minority leader (of Ways and Means)” Hargrove said.

Regardless of who is in charge of the committee, it was almost certain to write a budget without a tax increase while looking for options to cut government spending, he said: “It's pretty clear that the public is not interested in any more taxes.” 

Baumgartner No. 2 on budget panel

OLYMPIA — Sen. Mike Baumgartner would serve as vice chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee next year under the proposed “coalition” majority in that chamber.

The Spokane Republican, who is halfway through his first term, said he thinks the coalition of the Senate's 23 Republicans and two Democrats which was announced earlier this week will lead to greater consensus and a better budget.

“One of my main goals in the Senate has always been to reform state government: make it leaner, more efficient, less costly and more service-oriented,” he said in a prepared statement.

As vice chairman, he will be helping with the development of the operating budget, the spending plan for most state services, programs and salaries. In recent years, the Senate Ways and Means vice chairman is focuses on the capital budget, which deals with construction projects, but that job under the planned coalition majority will fall to Sen. Jim Honeyford, R-Sunnyside.

Cantwell to head Indian Affairs Committee

Sen. Maria Cantwell will be the chairwoman of the Indian Affairs Committee in the new Congress.

Democrats announced their expected committee assignments for next year, which are essentially done deals for everything but a pro forma vote at the beginning of the session. Cantwell has been a member of Indian Affairs since coming to the Senate in 2001, and will be taking over that panel, as well as remaining on Commerce, Science and Transportation; Energy and Natural Resources; Finance; and Small Business and Entrepreneurship. 

She will be the first woman to lead the Indian Affairs Committee. Washington has more than three dozen tribes within its borders, although not all are federally recognized.

Gov race most expensive in WA history

OLYMPIA — Even without the final spending tallied, this year's governor's race was the most expensive in state history and outside independent groups spent a record amounts trying to convince residents to vote against Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna.

Post-election reports filed this week with the state Public Disclosure Commission show the Inslee and McKenna campaigns spent a combined $25.7 million in the race to be Washingon's next governor. With other candidates eliminated in the primary, and by incumbent Chris Gregoire before she opted out of the race, spending hit nearly $26.2 million, passing the record set in 2008 by nearly $1 million.

Inslee and McKenna still could list more spending in the next month or so because neither filed a final report.

Republican McKenna, a two-term state attorney general, spent more, about $13.66 million, in his losing effort. Democrat Inslee, who resigned his congressional seat before his term ended, spent about $12.1 million.

Also up this campaign season was spending by independent groups both for and against the two candidates. Most of it went for television commercials that blanketed the airwaves in the fall.

Led by the Republican Governor's Association, independent groups spent $9.3 million against Inslee. They also contributed heavily to some $1.2 million spent for independent ads supporting McKenna.

On the other side, a group calling itself Our Washington, which collected large sums from the Democratic Governors Association and organized labor, spent almost $9 million against McKenna. Washington Conservation Voters and the Service Employees International Union led groups that spent more than $825,000 supporting Inslee.

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

Gallup poll: Feds should back off in pot states

The federal government should back off enforcement of federal marijuana laws in stateslike Washington that have legalized the drug, a solid majority of people told a recent Gallup poll.

Nearly two-third — 64 percent of all adults surveyed in late November — told pollsters they do not believe the federal government should enforce its laws if they conflict with state law. 

In the same survey, respondents were almost evenly split — 50 percent for, 48 percent against — on whether they thought marijuana should be legal. That's a big jump from 1969, when Gallup first started asking the question and 12 percent said the drug should be legal

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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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