Archive for December 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.
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. 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?
4. When Kevin McCallister is left “Home Alone”, where does his family go?
5. How much does Lucy charge for psychiatric advice in “A Charlie Brown Christmas”?
She doesn’t charge; she gives her advice for free.
6. Who narrates the television version of “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”?
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”?
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
For answers, go inside the blog.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Q 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. . .
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.
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 . . .
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.
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. . .
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. . .
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. . .
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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
Spokane City Councilman Ben Stuckart used first-hand experience when arguing at Monday's council meeting that the city should hire more cops.
Two weeks ago, when he and his wife were in Seattle, someone knocked in the back door of their home. It was the second time within 15 months that their South Hill residence was burglarized.
In an interview after the meeting, Stuckart said the burglar or burglars took his wife's and grandmother's jewelry, cash and an electronic food scale (which he surmised won't be used to weigh food anymore).
Spokane’s city government is shedding 92 jobs.
The Spokane City Council on Monday voted 4-3 to freeze the city general fund budget, largely accepting the recommendations of Mayor David Condon.
Condon proposed a $161 million general fund, which pays for police, fire, parks, libraries and other services paid with taxes. The total budget, including utilities like trash and water, will be $615 million.
The mayor’s budget eliminates the arts, and weights and measures departments. It will fund the equivalent of 2,033 full time jobs. It removes 19 police officer positions that already were vacant. It shrinks the on-duty firefighting force from 61 to 58 and removes the first-response firefighting capabilities of Fire Station 9 on the South Hill.
The council split was predictable. Republican-leaning council members, Mike Allen, Mike Fagan, Nancy McLaughlin and Steve Salvatori, voted for the budget. Democratic-leaning members Jon Snyder, Ben Stuckart and Amber Waldref opposed it. The same 4-3 split rejected Stuckart’s plans to shift money to pay for public safety positions or items that the city’s Use of Force Commission is expected to recommend to improve police services. They also reject for the second time in less than a month a 1 percent increase in property taxes.
OLYMPIA — Reaction to the announcement of a new coalition to run the Senate is decidedly mixed.
Republicans, not surprisingly, are hailing the decision of two Democrats to join hands with the 23 GOP members and create a brave new world of legislative leadership.
State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur described himself as “beyond excited.”
“The courage of these two Democrats means that we can expect a no-new taxes budget and education reform with Republicans now chairing both the Ways and Means and K-12 committees,” Wilbur said in a press release.
His Democratic counterpart, Dwight Pelz, is, not surprisingly, less thrilled. Sens. Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon “turned their backs” on their own party to side with “radically right” Republicans, he said. And this after the state Ds gave Tom $25,000 in his last election.
“Sen. Tom has instigated this unprecedented coup and joined with Republicans to install himself as Majority Leader out of a desire to further his own personal ambitions,” Pelz said in a prepared statement.
Governor-elect Jay Inslee is staking a “wait and see” attitude on the loss of his party's control of the Senate and won't weigh in on whether Democrats should reject the offer choosing some committee chairmanships and sharing others, spokeswoman Jaime Smith said. Who is in charge of the chamber and the committees is less important than solving problems on the budget and education, she added.
House Majority Leader Pat Sullivan said the plan “certainly has the potential to make reaching a consensus more difficult” but insisted House Democrats have always worked with members from both chambers and both sides of the aisle. (House Republicans would likely take issue with that. ) He also chimed in on the Senate Republicans' theme of not wanting to look like that Congress.
“But we can't allow this Washington to devolve into the bitter drama and endless gridlock we too often see in the other Washington,” Sullivan said.
Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, answers a question at the press conference announcing plans for a coalition to run the Senate.
OLYMPIA — If the math holds, Republicans and a pair of Democrats will control the state Senate in 2013.
The 23 Republicans voting as a block with two Democrats mean a 25 vote majority over the remaining 24 Democrats. The 25 are offering the 24 a piece of the action.
The 24 may refuse.
For the full story, click here.
OLYMPIA — Senate Republicans say they will announce a “coalition” this morning that will run the chamber in the 2013 session.
They've scheduled a 10:30 a.m. press conference with a bipartisan group of senators to announce how the coalition will work.
Technically, Republicans are the minority in the Senate, but practicallly, they may have the upper hand.
A recent recount in a Vancouver area legislative district confirmed that Democrats have 26 seats and Republicans 23. Democrats had already announced their leadership structure, with Ed Murray of Seattle the majority leader, and their chairmanships.
But that majority is on paper. Two of the Democrats, Tim Sheldon of Potlach and Rodney Tom of Bellevue, have said they would vote with Republicans on opening day to form a bipartisan coalition that would determine leadership posts and committee chairmanships.
OLYMPIA — The location of the Inaugural Ball, which has been the subject of much kvetching since it was announced several months ago, has changed. It will be back at the Capitol.
The Capitol has been the traditional location for the inaugural celebration, and the domed Legislative Building even has a large reception room with a dance floor (usually covered with a rug) for the inaugural dance.
A few months ago, however, the Inaugural Ball Committee announced it would hold the ball at the St. Martin's University gymnasium because of concerns over security and traffic control at the Capitol.
Admittedly, parking is not ample, and some streets around the Capitol aren't very wide.
But the announcement generated some biting complaints. A petition to return the ball to the Capitol circulated. One high-ranking legislator said he wouldn't be going out to the because “I already attended a prom, in high school.” Some incoming office-holders, who will be inaugurated that day, also weren't pleased.
The committee held firm — until Friday afternoon, when it announced the ball is being moved back to the Capitol grounds “through a cooperative effort” with Gov. elect Jay Inslee's transition team and the Department of Enterprise Services.
“The logistical concerns that first demanded a move away from the Capitol have been discussed with the relevant players, managed and changes have been made that will help with accessibility and security,” spokeswoman Lisa Cosmillo, the committee spokeswoman, said in a press release. St. Martins “graciouisly released” the committee from its commitment.
The World War II Memorial on the Capitol Campus today.
In case you're wondering: Washington state buildings have their flags at half-staff today.
It's in honor of Pearl Harbor Day.
A county commissioner, a former legislator and a former legislative aide are among five applicants so far for an open state Senate seat in Northeastern Washington’s 7th District.
The seat becomes open Jan. 1 when Sen. Bob Morton, a 22-year veteran legislator, retires halfway through his term. Republican precinct committee officers in the district will nominate as many as three possible replacement to the county commissioners from Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan counties, who must choose one through a majority vote.
The district’s two state representatives, Republicans Joel Kretz and Shelly Short have said they won’t seek the Senate position.
Applicants can seek the office up to the time precinct officers meet on Dec. 15 in Colville. At this point, GOP officials said they knew of five actively seeking the job
Spokane County officials issued 23 marriage licenses to same-sex couples Thursday on the first day that became legal in Washington state.
That was, not surprisingly, the most of any Eastern Washington county, but fairly low compared to the urban counties along the Puget Sound.
King County, which opened at 12:01 a.m. and planned to keep open until 8 p.m.,had issued 456 licenses as of 4:30 p.m., but it wasn't breaking them out by same-sex or opposite sex applications.
Thurston County, which also opened at 12:01 a.m. to issue licenses to 10 couples chosen by lot, had issued 34 to same-sex couples throughout the day. Pierce County issued 42, Island 25, Kitsap 23, Whatcom 22 and Snohomish 20.
Except for Spokane, no East Side County broke out of single digits and some — Adams, Columbia, Ferry, Garfield and Stevens — didn't have any requests.
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been getting plenty of face time on the TV news networks as the House GOP's spokeswoman on its counter to President Obama on the fiscal cliff negotiations.
It has prompted criticism from some liberal blogs that she only sticks to the talking points and won't answer questions about things like spending cuts with any substance.
After we published answers in the print and online versions of The Spokesman-Review to questions about the new marijuana laws, a not too surprising thing happened.
People asked us more questions.
Spin Control does not give out legal advice, and isn't in the position of knowing everything possible about the new post I-502 marijuana laws. But we can answer a few of the questions, or find someone who can. If more come in, we'll take another run at it, too.
If I'm at a bar that has an outside area where patrons can drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes, would it be legal to smoke marijuana there?
For the answer to this and other questions, click here to go inside the blog.
Gov. Gregoire signs election results with Secretary of State Reed.
OLYMPIA — Washington state took the last step Wednesday in changing its laws to allow same-sex couples to marry.
With about two dozen supporters looking on, Gov. Chris Gregoire and Secretary of State Sam Reed signed documents certifying vote results certifying that Referendum 74 passedin the Nov. 6 election.
Certifying results one month after the election is usually a pro forma event. The results for the other statewide elections and ballot measures — including those that reiterate supermajorities to raise state taxes, allow for charter schools and legalize marijuana use for adults — were signed earlier in Gregoire's office.
But the governor invited supporters of Ref. 74 to her conference room to mark the occasion, and to brag that Washington will be the first of the three states that approved same-sex marriage in the election to issue marriage licenses.
“This is our last step for marriage equality in the great state of Washington,” said Gregoire, who used a different pen for each letter of her name, and distributed the pens among the same-sex couples who gathered for the ceremony.
Reed commended supporters and opponents of the referendum for a civil campaign over a tough issue.
The law takes effect on Thursday. King and Thurston counties are opening their auditors offices just after midnight to issue marriage licenses, and Pierce County will open at 6:30 a.m.
Spokane County will open its auditor's office at the regular time, 8:30 a.m. It will stay open late on Friday, until 4 p.m.
Josh Kerns, a former legislative aide and campaign manager, said today he'll apply for the open state Senate seat in Northeast Washington's 7th District.
Kerns, 27, was a legislative aide during the last session to state Rep. John Ahern, managed the campaign of Ahern's replacement Representative-elect Jeff Holy, and once served as an intern to U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers. He describes himself as an “action-oriented advocate of property rights” and someone who won't take as much time to get accustomed to the job because of his experience as a legislative aide.
He has lived in Mead all of his life, but the area has been moved around by legislative redistricting every 10 years. Until this spring he was in the 6th District but the redrawing of lines put him in the 7th,which is where it was in the 1990s after Spokane lost the 5th District which had that area in the 1980s.
Republican precinct committee officers from the 7th District will meet on Dec. 15 in Colville to nominate as many as three people to fill the seat. County commissioners from Spokane, Pend Oreille, Stevens, Ferry and Okanogan counties will meet sometime after Jan. 1, when Bob Morton's retirement becomes official, to select one of those nominees.
The district's two House members, Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short, have said they will not seek a nomination to the Senate.
Supporters of same-sex marriage in Washington state apparently have something to hold over those other states that approved a similar law change at the ballot box last month.
Not only did Washington have a bigger margin of victory than Maine and Maryland, says Andy Grow of Washington United for Marriage, it also gets the jump on having the law take effect and couples saying “I do.”
The Nov. 6 election results will be certified this afternoon, and they will show the Ref. 74 winning with 53.7 percent of the vote. It was 52.6 percent in Maine and 52.4 percent in Maryland.
The law will take effect at 12:01 a.m. Thursday. King and Thurston counties seem to be competing for the attention of accepting applications at that time. Spokane County's auditor's office is opening at the usual 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning… although it is staying open until 4 p.m. on Friday to handle any extra traffic for folks wanting to get married early next week. Apparently 12/12/12 is a popular date for weddings, possibly for men who forget things like birthdays and anniversaries.
Anyone who gets a license on Thursday in Washington can get married as early as Sunday. Maine's law becomes effective Dec. 29, and licenses can be issued that day. Applications in Maryland could be filed last week, and can be issued Thursday, but weddings can't take place until Jan. 1.
OLYMPIA — The turnout was down slightly in Washington state compared to the 2008 presidential election, but the number of ballots cast was up.
That means the number of signatures needed for initiatives and referenda goes up next year.
Huh? We explain inside the blog. Click here to read more, or to comment.
A funny thing happened on the way to Spokane County supporting Initiative 502, which legalizes marijuana for private use by adults.
Some precincts, particularly those in the city of Spokane, really liked it. And by that we mean by big margins. Other precincts, as the map shows, really did not.
There's one precinct on the map that's particularly interesting. It's Precinct 6500, but is more commonly known as “Fairchild Air Force Base”. That precinct went about 70 percent for Republicans Mitt Romney and Rob McKenna, about 74 percent for U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and 66.3 percent for Republican Senate candidate Mike Baumgartner. It went 80 percent for the tax limiting I-1183 and 56 percent against Ref. 74, to allow same sex marriage.
So it's a pretty conservative, Republican precinct, no?
On I-502, it turned down legalized marijuana by just 3 votes.
For a more detailed look at the map, click on the Document file below.
When the clock ticks past midnight Wednesday,
But the new law isn’t a blanket license for anyone to smoke marijuana anywhere, any time. There are restrictions within the law, and some items that must still be settled, either by state agencies or the courts. Here are some answers to common questions about what changes in state marijuana laws tomorrow.
So I can I legally have marijuana, right?
If you are under 21, no, just like alcohol. Over 21, yes, with some qualifications. If you live in university housing, for example you can’t have it in your residence because of school policies. Your employer may ban it from the workplace. Some jobs may have a zero-tolerance policy for drug use. The law doesn’t change those restrictions.
Jon Stewart on the Daily Show takes on the filibuster.
To be clear, both parties have flip-flopped on changing the filibuster rules. To see move videos on the topic, go inside the blog.
OLYMPIA — Rep. Shelly Short said this evening she will not seek the state Senate seat that will become open on Jan. 1 with the retirement of Bob Morton.
Morton, a 22-year veteran of the Legislature, announced last week that he would retire halfway through his current term. His position will be filled through a process that takes as many as three nominations from Republican precinct committee officers in northeast Washington's 7th Legislative District, and a majority vote by commissioners of the five counties in the district.
Short, who was just elected to her third House term in November, said she wants to remain in that chamber and continue her work on issues involving energy, the environment and natural resources: “It's important to keep that continuity.”
Conversations she has had over the last several days convinced her there are good candidates in the district interested in the Senate seat.
Rep. Joel Kretz, the district's senior House member, previously said he would not seek the seat.
Holding check, right to left, are Valley Mayor Tom Towey, Rick Cooper of Pepsi Bottling Co., and Dan Duer, general manager of Wolff Services.
A few weeks ago, the state gave a $50,000 grant to the Pepsi Bottling Co., as an incentive to move into the Central Business Park in Spokane Valley.
Pepsico consolidated its area operations into an 80,000 square foot distribution center, and received $50,000 from the governor's Strategic Reserve Fund.
As is customary with such awards, there had to be a ceremony that we in the newsbiz refer to as a “grip and grin.” It's a chance to hold a gigantic pair of scissors to cut a ribbon, or a chance to line up folks in business suits with shiny hard hats and shovels to scoop up a bit of dirt, or a chance to hold a giant check.
This was the giant check variety of grip and grin. And while it isn't significantly different from others, it reminded us some things that we always wonder about these events. Like:
—Has anyone ever taken one of these to a bank and tried to cash it?
—Is there a book of giant checks that the state has for just such occasions?
—And if there is a giant book of checks, does it come with a free simulated leather cover, or is that extra?
—Why doesn't the state use electronic funds transfer, like everyone else?
For those of you worried the world will end on Dec. 21 because of the Mayan calendar — or because 12/21/12 is just too many combinations of 1 and 2 — the federal government is offering some advice to chill out.
USA.gov, a federal government blog, assures readers that the world is not, repeat NOT, going to end on that day. Or any day in 2012.
How can they be sure? They contacted a NASA astronomer who explains it all, and posted a couple videos, including the one above, online.
Of course, conspiracy theorists out there might argue that if the federal government KNEW the world was going to end on Dec. 21, do you really think they'd tell us? Of course not.
Thanks to Jason Mercier of the Center for Government Reform for the tip on the blog.
The 3rd District will have an all-guy delegation.
It’s part of the de-feminization of
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