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Spin Control

Archive for July 2012

McKenna: Limit other spending to boost education

Washington could spend more money on its public schools and colleges by limiting the growth in other state expenses and changing the way some property taxes are collected, a gubernatorial candidate said Tuesday.

Republican hopeful Rob McKenna released new details of his plans to increase spending on education, with an extra $1.25 billion for public schools and $437 million for colleges in the first two years of his tenure.

After McKenna discussed the details in a pair of one-hour meetings with reporters, a spokeswoman for Jay Inslee, his chief Democratic rival, called it “empty promises.” The plan won't generate the revenue he expects, Jaime Smith said in a press release.

The state is under a Supreme Court mandate . . .

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

Primary turnout could be low

The presidential campaign has been in the news for months and political commercials are starting to crowd other products off the airwaves, but Washington's voters seem less enthusiastic than normal about next month's state primary.
Ballots that were mailed to overseas and military voters in late June and the rest of the state almost two weeks ago are coming back less quickly than normal in some counties, including Spokane.
Returns through the Monday are behind the pace for the same period in 2008, the last state primary in a presidential election year, data from Spokane County Elections Office show. They also trail returns for most primaries since.
“We wish we had more in,” Mike McLaughlin, supervisor of elections, said Monday…
  

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

A site for endorsements

With the Aug. 7 primary approaching, some harried voters are looking for all help possible to help them decide among the long list of candidates, many of them unknown, for offices, many of them unfamiliar.

Spokesman.com has the Election Center which gives you information about the candidates' background and issues. Now, we also have a link to a page for the newspaper's endorsements.

This is not to suggest that Spin Control believes you should vote your ballot the way the newspaper endorses.

For one thing, it's not really possible, because in many races the editorial board picks two candidates, and you only get to choose one.

For another, we realize that while some people may would look to the newspaper's sage advice for guidance in selecting a candidate, at least as many — and probably more — look at a Spokesman-Review endorsement and immediately vote the other way.

We're just collecting all of the endorsements in one place, as a service to our readers. What you do with them is up to you.

We've got no stake in the endorsements to begin with, because reporters don't sit in on the discussions before endorsements are made, and don't pay attention to them after they are published. 

Sunday spin: Value of debate over debates is debatable

A sign that Washington’s campaign season remains in the doldrums, despite the fact that ballots are in voters’ hands – or at least languishing under a pile of junk mail on some counter – arrived last week with the announcement two gubernatorial debates had been scheduled.
One will be in Vancouver at the end of August and another in Yakima in early October. This is great news, not solely because putting Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna on the same stage is instructive for voters and good theater for political junkies. These are also two places that often have little chance to get up close and personal with gubernatorial candidates, let alone host a debate.
If Spokane complains about being a second-class citizen in the eyes of some statewide campaigns, other parts of the state might rightfully note they are in steerage. (Information about the venues is in the post below.)
The oddest thing about the announcement . . .

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

Gubernatorial debates in the ‘hustings’

The Vancouver gubernatorial debate on Aug 29 will be at the Washington State University-Vancouver campus, and has a long list of sponsors including the local ports, the public schools, development councils, newspapers, civic and business groups. So many that it might be quicker to say who wasn’t on board, which is, apparently, nobody.
Troy Van Dinter, who has the job of herding cats for the debate, said it’s the first gubernatorial debate in the Vancouver area that anyone involved can remember. It will be televised by Portland station KATU, and may be picked up by stations in Seattle and Spokane.
The Yakima gubernatorial debate will take place during a conference of Hispanic chambers of commerce on Oct. 2, and be televised KCTS, Seattle’s public television station, which is supplying the moderator, Enrique Cerna. It might be picked up by other public television stations across the state.
  

Same-sex marriage campaign gets $2.5 million boost

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to ratify same-sex marriage in Washington state received $2.5 million from the founder of Amazon.com, the campaign announced today.

Washington United for Marriage, which is pushing Referendum 74 on the Nov. 6 ballot, announced  the contribution from Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos this morning. A spokesman said it was the largest single donation to a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.

It also more than doubles the campaign's total contributions, to about $4.8 million and shows continuing support from the state's high-tech executives. The campaign has also received contributions of $100,000 each from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that gathered signatures to put the measure on the ballot and is urging a no vote to block same sex-marriage, has reported about $250,000 in contributions.

The Washington Legislature passed a bill legalizing marriage between same-sex couples early this year and it was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had announced her support for the change before the session started. But opponents quickly filed a referendum and gathered the needed signatures, placing the law on hold.

Six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, but no state has approved it through a ballot measure. Washington, Maryland and Maine have same-sex marriage proposals on statewide ballots this fall.

For the top donors to Washington United for Marriage and Preserve Marriage Washington campaigns, click here to go inside the blog.

I-1183 boosts liquor sales — in Idaho

Washington voters probably didn’t intend it, but they gave at least a temporary economic boost to Idaho liquor stores when taking their state out the booze business last year by passing Initiative 1183.
In June, the first month that I-1183 closed Washington’s state-owned liquor stores and raised the overall price of distilled spirits in the private outlets that took their place, Idaho state liquor stores just across the border saw more Evergreen State license plates in their parking lots and a jump in business.
The two Post Falls liquor stores saw a 58 percent increase in sales for June 2012 compared to the previous June, said Jeff Anderson, director of the Idaho State Liquor Division. Between Lewiston and Oldtown, the eight Idaho liquor stores just across the border are up 33 percent overall, or a total of $560,000.
“The numbers are a bit skewed,” Anderson said . . .

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

Murray, Crapo, McMorris Rodgers on list of “Best”

Take all 535 members of Congress, and select out 30 for special recognition via a “Best of Congress” award.

In that group of 30, place Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dave Reichert and Adam Smith, and Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo.

That kind of list was just announced. Who gave them the award, and for what?

Answer inside the blog.

Charter school measure makes November ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative which will be the fourth attempt to get voter approval for charter schools will be on the November ballot.

Initiative 1240 has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 election, the Secretary of State's office said this afternoon.

Although supporters had a mere 21 days to collect signatures, they turned in about 115,000 more than the 241,000 needed to put an initiative on the ballot. They accomplished that largely with paid signature gatherers, paying almost $2.1 million to a California company, PCI Consultants.

The state Elections Division said a random sampling of the petitions showed a rejection rate of about 16 percent, resulting in I-1240 qualifying as the sixth ballot measure for this fall.

Under the initiative, a charter school would be a public school governed by a special board and operated under a special contract that outlines powers, responsibilities and performance expectations. As many as 40 such schools could be set up in the state over the next five years, either by public school districts or nonprofit organizations. The per-pupil allotment that a public school would get would go to the charter school for its students.

Voters have turned down charter school proposals in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  

TVW blasts Ferguson ad for AG

OLYMPIA – The Democratic candidate for state attorney general is being accused of violating TVW broadcast rules by using the government cable channel’s footage in his latest commercial.
The commercial for Bob Ferguson, which only appears on the Internet, features a brief video clip of his opponent, Republican Reagan Dunn, challenging a Ferguson allegation about poor attendance at King County Council meetings.
TVW broadcast the June 12 debate live from the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, and the full event remains available on the organization's website. But the network doesn’t  allow edited versions of any of its broadcasts to be used for campaigns, TVW President Greg Lane said…

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

Home builders backing mostly GOP

The Spokane Home Builders Association released its list of candidate endorsements this week, and they're going mostly Republican.

Mike Baumgartner and Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress

Republicans for most statewide executive office, except for Democrat Jim McIntire for state treasurer, who has no Republican opponent.

Republicans in most Spokane-area legislative races except for Democrat Bob Apple, the former city councilman, in that crowded 3rd District House race. No endorsement in the other 3rd House race. They went for Jeff Holy for the open House seat in the 6th District, which has two other Republicans looking to replace John Ahern.

Incumbent Todd Mielke in the District 1 Spokane County commissioner race. Silent on the more hotly contested commissioner race, which features two Republicans, Shelly O'Quinn and County Treasurer Rob Chase.

Campaign video: Nastiest ad?

 

BuzzFeed describes this commercial, from the Texas Senate race, as the Nastiest Ad of the Campaign Cycle. Understood in that is most likely “to date” because there is quite a bit of time left in this cycle to get nastier.

Even so, using that superlative seems questionable. What do you think?

Today’s fun video: Romney is his hero

This is a very unusual political video.

It's pro-Romney, although not from the Romney campaign. In fact, the Obama campaign might send it out on their Twitter feed for a few grins.

But the guy really likes Romney, and really doesn't like Obama. That, and he seems to be standing in the middle of a stream while playing his keyboard…

City to hold call-in session on budget

People who have a question of a comment or a question on the City of Spokane budget could get a chance to phone it in Tuesday night.

That's when the city is holding a Telephone Town Hall on the budget from 6 to 7 p.m. The phone number is (855) 296-4484. Or you can get to the online link by clicking here.

Documents from Sunday’s story on Shea

Some readers of Sunday's story about Matt Shea's continuance of a charge of having a loaded handgun in his pickup without a valid concealed weapon permit, which stemmed from a “road rage” incident, have wondered why the story appeared now rather than in November when the incident occured, December when the charge was filed or January when the continuance was signed.

The answer is simple: We didn't know about it until Friday, when copies of documents were delivered to the newsroom in Spokane.

The news media is not given access to the daily police incident reports, like the one that was filed on this case on Nov. 25. We do receive daily reports from Municipal Court for our Official Records column, but only those convictions that result in jail time or a fine of $500 or more. This case was given a “Stipulated Order of Continuance” until next January, which means there will be no conviction if he doesn't have another criminal charge by then.

Because they are court records, they likely would have turned up  in the routine court checks we do for all candidates. But because Rep. Shea is in a primary with only one opponent, Democrat Amy Biviano, and both will advance to the general election regardless of the primary results, we have been concentrating on candidates in contested primaries at this point.

The documents arrived Friday. We checked Municipal Court records to verify they were authentic, and contacted Rep. Shea for a comment that afternoon, and held the story until he responded. Late Friday night, he directed us to his attorney, Bob Cossey, who we were unable to talk to until late Saturday afternoon and add them to the story, which then ran Sunday.

For readers who want more information about the documents, we're posting them here. Newspaper policy is to redact personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth, and I've done that with these documents.

To read Sunday's story, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.


Documents:

Sunday Spin: Is Internet making politics better?

It’s not clear yet whether this year’s campaign staffs are hell bent on testing Marshall McLuhan’s theorem that “the medium is the message” or are so enamored with high tech that they think it’s the be-all and end-all of politics.
Last week, a member of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s campaign went from paid staffer to suspended staffer to fired staffer in the span of three days. Kathlyn Ehls had typed messages into Twitter that called for Asian Americans to “learn English” and senior citizens who walk too slowly across the street in front of her vehicle to “get a wheelchair.”
Ehls had tweeted these uncharitable thoughts months before going to work for the McKenna campaign. But the recent college graduate apparently was unaware, or forgot, the cardinal rule of venting in cyberspace: things on the Internet have a nasty habit of living forever and surfacing at inopportune times. These did, last Monday, on Seattle blogs.. .
  

Correction on candidate Q&A in today’s print edition

In today's print edition of The Spokesman-Review, an answer in the candidate questionnaire for the 6th District House seat being vacated by John Ahern was inadvertently cut.

Here is the question and the complete answer from candidate Ben Oakley:

4. Do you support the voter-approved rule that stipulates that the Legislature can only approve a tax increase when each chamber supports the increase with two-thirds majorities? Should the state Constitution be amended to require two-thirds votes to approve tax increases?

Yes, I support the will of the people who have repeatedly asked the Legislature to live within its means by requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. The State’s General Fund has 7.5 percent more revenue this year over last year. We have the resources we need, but must reprioritize where we spend taxpayer dollars. I would also support the constitutional amendment requiring the two-thirds majority to raise taxes. Again, the voters have repeatedly spoken on the issue.

Here is Oakley's complete 15-topic Q&A.

Super-majority initiative qualifies for the ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative reiterating that tax increase must pass the Legislature with a two-thirds majority will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The Washington Secretary of State certified Initiative 1185 for the ballot this morning, giving voters a sixth shot at passing some sort of restriction on tax increases in the last 19 years. The petitions  had an error rate of 19.4 percent, which is higher than average, but sponsors had submitted about a third more signatures than the minimum required.

The state Elections Division  now  begins checking signatures for Initiative 1240, which would allow for establishing charter schools. Sponsors of that proposal submitted even more signatures, and it, too, is expected to qualify for the ballot.

That would mean six statewide ballot measures for voters to consider in November. Here are the other four:

Referendum 74, on same-sex marriage

Initiative 502, on legalizing marijuana for personal use

Resolution 8221, on changes to the state debt limit

Resolution 8223, on changes to investment policies for UW and WSU

For more information on the ballot measures, chedk out the state's Online Voters Guide by clicking here.

Congressional candidates take stand on 15 topics

We have posted the answers to a Spokesman-Review candidate questionnaire from each of the four candidates for the Congressional seat representing Eastern Washington.

You can read the candidates' opinions on 15 topics, including taxes, same-sex marriage, immigration, marijuana, abortion and the North Spokane freeway at the following links:

Rich Cowan

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Ian Moody

Randall Yearout

Another big Seattle payday for Obama?

President Barack Obama is scheduled to stop in Seattle next week, the third time in seven months he will visit the state's largest city to raise money.
His re-election campaign hasn't released many details of the trip yet. It’s a stop with two campaign fundraisers at the end of a Western swing that includes Nevada, California and Portland, Ore., then heads for New Orleans.
But if the pattern of previous trips holds, he can expect to rake in more than $1 million . . 

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

Today’s fun video: Newt meets Snooki

 

A long way from the presidential campaign trail. Last night on the Tonight show:

Leno: I never thought I'd say this. Newt meet Snooki. Snooki, Newt.

Snooki: Whatup?

Some things have to be true, because if you made them up, no one would believe them.

Stuckart: I support Billig

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Thursday that he didn't give City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin permission to use a picture of him on a campaign mailer for state Senate.

McLaughlin, a Repbulican, is running for state Senate seat that represents central Spokane against Democratic state Rep. Andy Billig.

The mailer, which began arriving in mailboxes this week, includes a picture of McLaughlin with Stuckart, Mayor David Condon and council members Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori.

Stuckart said in an interview that the picture was taken at a bill signing earlier this year.

“I endorsed Andy Billig the day he declared for the state Senate,” Stuckart said in a written statement. “For Nancy's campaign to use my photo implies endorsement of her candidacy. I denounce this action. It is misleading and inappropriate for her to use a photo of me in a campaign mailer.”

Obama coming to Seattle next week

OLYMPIA — President Obama will hit the Washington state campaign ATM again next week. He's scheduled to attend two fundraisers in Seattle.

A press release this morning from the Obama campaign said Washington is on a list of stops the president will make to raise money: Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington and Louisiana.

No firm details on the stops yet, although there will be two in Portland before the two in Seattle.

Obama was last in Seattle, for a pair of fundraisers, on May 10, the day after he announced he'd changed his mind and was supporting same-sex marriage. He also made campaign money stops in Seattle in February and last September.

McKenna adviser out for tweets

OLYMPIA — A policy adviser for Rob McKenna's gubernatorial campaign resigned today after apologizing for making derogatory remarks about Asians and the elderly on the Internet.

Kathlyn Ehls submitted her resignation, which campaign manager Randy Pepples said in a press release he accepted after she met with leaders of the campaign's Asian American Coalition. “It was important for her to thoroughly understand their feelings and to apologize to them for her comments,” he said.

In comments posted on Twitter several months before she joined the campaign, Ehls wrote Asians should “learn English” and that senior citizens who take too long to cross the street in front of her car should “get a wheelchair.”   (For an earlier post on this, click here.)

Ehls' termination was at the top of a list for a “true mea culpa” that a group describing itself “Concernd Asian Pacific Islanders” was demanding as it announced plans to protest outside McKenna's headquarters today. Other items on the list included “not wage war on unions”, support for same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act and a jobs plan that doesn't sacrifice the envirobnment, quality of life but provides wages that meet “basic needs” for families.

Five Asian-American legislators — all Democrats — also called for her termination: “One tweet reveals a callous insensitivity toward the multiple challenges faced by non-native English speaking immigrants and refugees.  As long-time champions of English Language Learning (ELL) opportunities and initiatives, we call on both Mr. McKenna and Mr. Inslee to declare their commitment to full funding for ELL programs as well as for other immigrant and refugee integration programs that assist in the transition to life in America.”

Ballots in the mail

Today is the day for county elections offices in Washington to begin mailing out ballots for the Aug. 7 state primary.

Spokane County will start its mail “drop” of about 265,000 ballots, finishing it on Thursday.

All registered voters should receive their ballots by early next week. If you get to the end of next week, and still no ballot, you should contact your county elections office to find out what's going on. In Spokane County, that number is 509-477-2320. For contact information for other Washington counties, click here.

The ballot is fairly long, because some of the races have a long list of candidates who would love to have your vote. Chances are, there's a fair number you've never heard of. For information on candidates for state and local offices, check out The Spokesman-Review's Election Center and the Washington Secretary of State's Online Voter's Guide.

Once you've marked your ballot, you can either mail it in (postmarked by Aug. 7) or save a stamp by depositing it in a Drop Box.

A list of Spokane County Drop Box locations can be found inside the blog.

Condon boosts City Hall outreach

Early in his term, Mayor David Condon appeared frustrated with the city’s ability to stay in touch with its citizens.

“It should be easier to contact the mayor and to get back to you,” Condon said in a televised call-in show with the mayor and City Council President Ben Stuckart that aired live on KSPS in February.

Condon noted that he previously worked on the staff of U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and was used to helping answer and track large volumes of constituent questions and concerns.

This month, Condon is unveiling two new communication strategies already commonly used by other government officials. On Tuesday, Condon and a few other city administrators responded to questions on Facebook during the city’s first official Facebook chat. Both events are focused on getting citizen input on the 2013 budget.

“This is another way we can communicate,” Condon said, while taking a break from answering questions. “Were doing it during the lunch hour so people if they wanted to can break away from work and see what their city is up to.”

Marijuana initiative lists Spokane boosters

The campaign for Initiative 502, which would legalize some marijuana use, announced three “name” supporters Tuesday.

State Sen. Lisa Brown. Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart. The Rev. Happy Watkins.

Brown and Stuckart aren't big surprises, considering they've supported medical marijuana measures in the past. I-502 is a step beyond that, to decriminalizing small amounts of mairjuana for personal use, but it's not a big step. Brown said the taxes from legalized marijuana would help health care and drug prevention programs, and Stuckart said the city's policing resources could be better spent on more serious problems.

Watkins, however, is the campaign's “get.” In the announcement, he said he was looking at it from a community perspective. “When young adults are arrested and charged for marijuana possession, they are shamed, turned into second-class citizens and face long-term economic hardship,” he said in the press release announcing the endorsement.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said I-502 is lining up support in what she called “the faith community”, particularly among African-American ministers because the minority community may feel a bigger impact of the war on drugs. They announced support from three Seattle-area ministers last month.

Today’s fun Web site: Obama or Romney?

A poll purports to be able to tell whether you're likely to support Barack Obama or Mitt Romney by your preferences to things like movies, cars or pets.

Of course, it could just ask who you plan to vote for. But that wouldn't  be any fun, would it?

Click here to see the list of questions.

New media ways to get into trouble

OLYMPIA — All of the “new media” opportunities for candidates in their staffs have a downside, the Rob McKenna campaign discovered this week. There are now more ways to do something stupid, and get caught at it, and have it come back months later to bite you in the posterior.

So it was that Kathlyn Ehl, a policy staffer for the Republican gubernatorial candidate's campaign, had to apologize Monday for sending out Tweets that disparaged Asians and seniors, before she was on the McKenna staff.

Seattle area blogs like Slog and Publicola reported that Ehls had tweeted in January that Asians should “shut up and speak English” and in November that anyone so old that it takes an entire light to cross the street should “GET A WHEELCHAIR”. Not good for a campaign that would like to get votes from one of the state's largest minority communities or the state's most dependable voting block.

By 5 p.m., McKenna had issued an apology. Unlike some political apologies, it didn't include a series of equivocations:

“The tweets sent by a member of my campaign staff, Kathlyn Ehl, which were reported today were offensive and inappropriate.  I am glad to see that she has apologized for her actions.
The fact that she made the comments before joining my campaign does not make them any less hurtful to Asian Americans and the elderly. They were insensitive and wrong regardless of their context.
She has done the right thing by apologizing.  I am hopeful that she has learned a humbling lesson that will give her greater perspective about having charity in her heart when considering the challenges faced by others.”

McMorris Rodgers makes a Top 25 list

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers made the cover of a national magazine, and landed on its Top 25 list.

She's sharing the list and the cover  with some pretty high profile Democrats. And while the cover of National Journal is not the cover of the Rolling Stone, for political types it  might be better. 

The political magazine named the Eastern Washington Republican to its list of Top 25 Influential Women in Washington, D.C.

She made the list with First Lady Michelle Obama, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Nancy Pelosi and California Sen. Diane Feinstein.  The list included some other Republicans, too, including Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Florida Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and former Rep. Susan Molinari.

The list is alphabetical, so there's no numeric ranking. A link to the whole story is here.

A copy of their article on McMorris Rodgers can be found inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: GOP intrigue in the 5th Lege District

OLYMPIA – To the unpracticed political eye, the dog days of summer might have been declared last week when what’s left of the Capitol press corps showed up for the swearing-in of a replacement legislator who might never cast a vote from the floor of the Senate.

But this was not some little-known partisan retainer getting the “thrill” of sticking Sen. in front of his name for a few months. Dino Rossi was raising one hand, putting the other on a Bible and swearing to uphold the U.S. and state constitutions, and the other things legislators-to-be must promise before crossing to the realm of legislators who are. . .

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

To read the press release and letter connected to this story, click here.


  

State Supreme Court will hear super-majority appeal

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court agreed to fast-track an appeal of a case involving the two-thirds majority for tax increases that voters have imposed through initiatives.

The high court said today it will hear the appeal of a challenge to the law by the League of Education Voters, the Washington Education Association and several legislators who filed suit after a bill to end a tax break for large banks received a simple majority, but not the required supermajority. It will take up the case on “an expedited basis” suggesting it could be  heard and decided by the time the next regular session of the Legislature convenes in January.

But possibly not before voters go to the polls in November, with a  new initiative that asks them to extend supermajority for another two years.

The court also refused to grant Attorney General Rob McKenna's request a stay of the judgment issued by King County Superior Court Judge Bruce Heller in May, meaning the supermajority requirement is not in effect now. But because the Legislature isn't in session, that has little practical effect.

Heller ruled the state constitution calls for a simple majority, not a supermajority, to raise taxes. The constitution does require supermajorities for some other things, so if the writers wanted it for taxes, they could have put it in at that time, he said.

Requiring a higher standard  through an initiative is unconstitutional, Heller said. So is the requirement that a tax passed with a simple majority go to voters, which isn't in the constitution.

Tim Eyman, the sponsor of several voter-approved initiatives to enact or re-enact the super-majority and this year's measure to extend it for two years, said he's confident the Supreme Court will uphold the requirement because it has done so  in the past.

But opponents of I-1185 counter that the court has never ruled directly on the issue of the supermajority. Instead it has let the provision stand by refusing to rule on cases because they didn't provide a “justiciable issue”, or something which the court had the authority to decide.

Heller's ruling gives the court a justiciable issue. The case involves a bill that would have removed a tax break large out-of-state banks receive for some first mortgages, while leaving that incentive in place for smaller banks. Money collected from the change in tax policy would have been used to reduce public school class sizes in kindergarten through grade 3. The three legislators who later became plaintiffs in the lawsuit, specifically asked if the change could be passed by a simple majority, or if the House could override that requirement, and were told no by House Speaker Frank Chopp in a dialog that foreshadowed the challenge.

Another potential challenge to the supermajority, which involved taxes on roll-your-own cigarette machines, was dismissed this month when both sides agreed to drop the case.

About 250 attend Jindal event for McKenna

More than 250 people attended a fundraiser for Republican candidate for governer Rob McKenna in Spokane County Wednesday evening.

The event featured Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal and was held at the home of Mike and Pam Senske, who live southeast of the city of Spokane, according to an invitation for the event. Mike Senske has long been active in Spokane-area politics and their son, Mike A. Senske is the chief executive officer of Pearson Packaging and was a member of the transition team for Spokane Mayor David Condon. (An earlier version of this post incorrectly listed the younger Senske as the host of the fund-raiser.)

McKenna's campaign had declined on Wednesday to say where the fundraiser would be held.

Attendees were charged $125 per person to attend a “pre-reception and photo opportunity” and $40 to attend an “outdoor dinner.”

Republican star stumps for McKenna in Spokane

The frontrunner to be the Republican nominee for Washington governor brought a GOP star to Spokane on Wednesday to help raise money for his campaign.

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal – often listed as a potential vice presidential nominee this year as well as in 2008 – joined Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna soon after disembarking from a private jet at the Spokane International Airport about 5:15 p.m.

After speaking briefly to reporters at a podium not far from the parked plane at the XN Air terminal, Jindal and McKenna were headed to a fundraiser at an undisclosed private residence in Spokane. McKenna spokesman Charles McCray said he didn’t have details immediately available about how many people were expected or how high of a contribution was required to attend. He declined to say who was hosting the event.

War of words over Rossi appointment continues

OLYMPIA — First former Sen. Cheryl Pflug criticized the appointment of Dino Rossi to her old seat (which was his seat before it was hers).

Then State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur criticized Pflug for criticizing the appointment.

Today, Pflug fires back at Wilbur in an “open letter.”

True, this is the 5th Legislative District, which is in eastern suburban King County, so it's far away from Spokane. But the 5th used to be one of our districts, back before the 1991 redistricting snatched it away and plunked it down in Pugetopolis.

And besides, it's a pretty interesting fight.

The text of Wilbur's press release, and Pflug's letter, are inside the blog. Click here to read them, or to comment, or both.

Charter school fans spent $2 million for signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to put charter schools on the Washington ballot for the fourth time paid more than $2 million to an out-of-state firm to gather the signatures that virtually assure them of a vote.

Reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission show the campaign for Initiative 1240 paid about $2.1 million to PCI Consultants Inc. of Calabasas, Calif. A spokeswoman for the campaign had refused to reveal the amount spent on signature-gathering, or the company that received it, when supporters turned in signatures last Friday.

That expenditure allowed I-1240 to gather about 350,000 signatures, almost 110,000 more  than the minimum required to qualify for the ballot, in a little more than three weeks. That's far more than the cushion recommended by the Secretary of State's office, and makes certification all but certain.

PCI has a long track record of gathering signatures for ballot measures in Washington, receiving a total of more than $8.3 million over the last seven years, campaign disclosulre records show. It was paid to gather signatures last year for I-502, the marijuana legalization proposal on this year's ballot, as well as for an initiative that required more training for home health care workers and one that would require more humane treatment of farm animals. In 2010, it was paid to gather signatures for a proposal to impose an income tax on upper income residents and for one of two plans to end state control of liquor sales.

All but the farm animal initiative reached the ballot. But of the three that went before voters in the last two general elections, only I-1163, the home health care worker proposal, passed.

The $2.1 million may represent a record expense for signatures to get an initiative on the Washington ballot. PDC records show it far exceeds any previous payment to PCI from a client and also outstrips the reported costs of gathering signatures for last year's liquor sales initiative, about $1.12 million.

The signature campaign for the charter schools initiative was bankrolled by some of the big names in Washington's high tech industry, including $1 million from Bill Gates, $100,000 from Paul Allen and $450,000 from members of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos's family.

I-1240 would allow the school districts or nonprofits to open as many as 40 charter schools over five years, which would be held to the same teacher certification and performance requirements as standard public schoos, but exempt from some laws and district policies. The per-pupil allotment from the state would bo to the charter school.

Rossi sworn in as fill-in senator

Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson swears in Dino Rossi to a state Senate seat.

OLYMPIA — Republican Dino Rossi is back in his old Senate seat for five months after being sworn in this afternoon in by Supreme Court Justice Jim Johnson.

Rossi was appointed by the King County Council to fill the seat vacated by Sen. Cheryl Pflug, who resigned to take a gubernatorial appointment to the Growth Management Board. Rossi held the seat before Pflug, retiring to run for governor in 2004

She was critical of that appointment Tuesday, saying GOP officials “strong-armed” precinct committee officers into putting Rossi's name on the list of nominees sent to the council. “I’m angry and appalled at the tactics of my former Senate Republican leadership, and I think they and Rossi shame themselves by trying to play Godfather.”

Pflug is supporting a Democrat, Mark Mullet, for the seat, contending he has the “business background, financial expertise and common sense” to hold the job.

State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur said there was nothing underhanded about the way Rossi was named to fill the seat; it was the same process that put her in the spot in 2003, after Rossi quit to run for governor the first time.

“For her to criticize this transparent appointment process, given how sneaky and deceitful it was for her to make a backroom deal for a cushier position as a bureaucrat, makes her a hypocrite - plain and simple,” Wilbur shot back.

Rossi said he hadn't talked to Pflug since she left office, but has no plans to run for any elective office in the future. He can't run for the Senate seat because he's been moved into another district by this year's redistricting. He only qualifies to hold the seat until November, when the new districts take effect.

He said he will keep his day job in commercial real estate investment and  concentrate on constituent services. He's been appointed the top Republican on the Senate Ways and Means Committee, a spot left open by the retirement of Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield. 

Roll-your-own operations shut down

OLYMPIA — Between the courts and Congress, operators of roll-your-own cigarette machines in Washington are essentially out of business for the foreseeable future. Read the story on the main website by clicking here.

Dino Rossi returns

OLYMPIA — Dino Rossi is once again a state senator.

The King County Council voted today to appoint Rossi — the former GOP standard bearer for governor in 2004 and 2008, and for U.S. Senate in 2010 — to an opening in the Senate.

The 5th Legislative District Senate seat became open when Republican Cheryl Pflug accepted a gubernatorial appointment to the Growth Management Hearings Board, just days after filing for the office closed. The district has a pair of candidates, Republican Brad Toft and Democrat Mike Mullet, and the winner of the November election will take office as soon as the results are certified.

But in the meantime, the good people of eastern King County's 5th Lege District would be without a senator.  Rossi's name was among those submitted by the GOP.

Rossi held the position before Pflug.

It's not clear how much senator-ing Rossi will get to do in his new/old seat. The Legislature doesn't start a regular session until January, and doesn't have a special session scheduled.

At least not yet.

Easy voter registration deadline is today

Today is the deadline for the easiest way to register to vote. That is, online or by mail.

Yes, there is another deadline, later this month, for people who are willing to make the trip to their local county elections office and sign up in person. But let's face it, most people who are willing to jump through that hoop are already registered.

For the average, marginally motivated voter who puts things off until the last  minute, this is probably the preferred way to go. And it's the last minute.

So click here to go to a website where you can get yourself registered.

Sunday Spin: Health care reform a key difference between WA and ID

OLYMPIA – In a world of e-mails and Twitter tweets, it’s usually nice to get a real letter. Except, maybe, if it’s a letter telling you to do something that you’ve already said you aren’t gonna do, or not do something you’ve said you will.
This is the case with the letter that U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador, R-Idaho, and a cohort of other Republican senators and congresspersons, sent to Gov. Chris Gregoire, urging her and her 49 fellow governors to “join us in resisting a centralized government approach to health care reform.” . . .

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

This is grass-roots democracy?

Friday’s deadline for turning in initiatives demonstrated clearly that letting voters approve legislation at the ballot box might still be an exercise of government of the people, but getting a measure on the ballot is all about money.
Of some 55 proposals that were filed this year and a half-dozen or so that made at some level of effort to gather signatures, only two reached the deadline with enough names to make the ballot. Both relied heavily on large infusions of cash from businesses or wealthy donors to pay people to collect those names. ..

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

A video voter’s guide for the primary

TVW and the Secretary of State's office have put together a video voter's guide for statewide candidates on the Aug. 7 primary election.

For voters who want to see the candidates before making a choice, here's your chance.

If the video is taking too long to load, (it's a big file)  try the TVW website here.

Not the smartest plan to make $20,000

Photo from skyfurrow.webs.com

OLYMPIA — A Tacoma man asked an insurance company to reimburse him for his cat that he said died in a car accident caused by a person they covered.
Even though PEMCO had already settled the claim on the two-and -a- half year-old accident for more than $3,452 to cover Yevgeniy Samsonov's chiropractor bills, it sent him a check for $50. Not enough, said Samsonov, not for a cat that cost him $1,000 and was “like a son” to him. He sent PEMCO two pictures of a very attractive white cat with blue eyes, and asked for $20,000.
PEMCO balked. Samsonov objected. He filed a complaint against the company with the state Insurance Commissioner's office. PEMCO filed a complaint of suspected insurance fraud, noting that the pictures he sent apparently came off the Internet, and weren't even of the same cat. And cancelled the $50 check.
The complaints arrived at about the same time, Rich Roesler, a spokesman for the commissioner's office, said. An investigation showed PEMCO was right. Samsonov faces charges in Pierce County Superior Court for insurance fraud and attempted theft.
“We've handled some pretty unusual fraud cases, but this is one of the stranger ones,” Commissioner Mike Kreidler said.
One of the problems for Samsonov, Roesler said, was that the photo above, which is one of the two sent PEMCO, is the first picture one gets on Google images when typing in white cat with blue eyes.

Today’s fun video: The best (worst) political ads

 

BuzzFeed has compiled its list of the 10 best political ads of the year so far. Or, they may be the 10 worst, depending on your outlook.

The one above is No. 1, but the others are pretty good, too and can be found at this link.

Try our 13 Trivia Questions for Independence Day

July 4th is a day for getting together with friends and family, tossing back a few cold ones and grilling a few hot dogs and watching things go Ka-Boom in the night sky. But before you go painting the town red-white-and-blue, test your Yankee-Doodle-ness with our annual 13 Trivias for Independence Day. 

(There's another July 4th Quiz in Wednesday's paper, but these are the ones we thought were a little bit tougher.)

1. According to the poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “the shot heard round the world” was fired at
A. Lexington
B. Concord
C. Boston
D. Yorktown
E. Trenton

2. The Battle of Bunker Hill took place in the city of
A. Boston
B. New York
C. Lexington
D. Philadelphia
E. Charleston

3. Who was the last president who was born a citizen of another country?
A. James Monroe
B. John Quincy Adams
C. Andrew Jackson
D. Martin Van Buren
E. Millard Fillmore

4. To what political party did President George Washington belong?
A. Federalist
B. Whig
C. Democratic
D. Republican
E. Can't fool me. None of those are right.

5. By the end of the American Revolution, what was the ratio of blacks in the Continental Army?
A. 1 in 20
B. 1 in 10
C. 1 in 7
D. 1 in 4
E. None, blacks weren’t allowed to serve.

6. On what ship did John Paul Jones utter the phrase “I have not yet begun to fight”?
A. USS Bonhomme Richard
B. USS Constitution
C. USS Liberty
D. USS Invincible
E. Can’t fool me. Patrick Henry said that.

7. Before the Star Spangled Banner, what song served as American’s unofficial anthem?
A. Yankee Doodle
B. Battle Hymn of the Republic
C. God Bless America
D. My Country ‘Tis of Thee
E. America the Beautiful

8. Before the U.S. Constitution was ratified, what was the document that governed the United States?
A. The Magna Carta
B. The Declaration of Independence
C. The Articles of Confederation
D. The Emancipation Proclamation
E. The Mayflower Compact

9. Who was president for the nation’s Centennial?
A. James Polk
B. Abraham Lincoln
C. Andrew Johnson
D. Ulysses S. Grant
E. Rutherford Hayes

10. What was the first state added to the original 13?
A. Vermont
B. Kentucky
C. Tennessee
D. Ohio
E. Louisiana

11. From what country did Thomas Jefferson buy the land of the Louisiana Purchase?
A. England
B. France
C. Mexico
D. Russia
E. Spain

12. In what line of stars in the flag is the star for Idaho?
A. Fifth from the top
B. Sixth from the top
C. Seventh from the top
D. Eighth from the top
E. Can’t fool me. None of those are right.

13. Name the presidents whose last name ended in ”-son”

Wonder how you did? Answers inside the blog.

Eyman to turn in signatures on I-1185

OLYMPIA — Signed petitions on an initiative to reiterate the supermajority needed for the Legislature to approve tax increases will be turned in Friday morning. 

Tim Eyman and other sponsors of Initiative 1185 will be carting boxes of petitions into the Secretary of State's Elections Division office at 10:30 a.m., Eyman said. That's about 90 minutes after petitions for an initiative to allow public schools to set up charter schools

His announcement followed just one day after he told supporters “we're not there yet” and urged them to get even partially filled petitions to the campaign offices because “every signature counts.”

Initiatives require about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the ballot, and state elections officials always urge campaigns to collect at least an extra 15 percent to account for duplicates, people who arent registered and signatures that don't match the state's voter registry. 

Charter school initiative to turn in signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot initiative that would allow public school districts to create charter schools will turn in signatures Friday morning.

The Secretary of State's office said this morning the campaign for Initiative 1240 will deliver their petitions to the Elections Division office at 9 a.m. Friday is the last day to turn in signatures for ballot initiatives.

Voters would be asked to approve a proposal similar to one that was introduced with much fanfare in the past legislative session, but never came up for a vote. It would allow the state to form as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years that would be operated as nonprofits with the same academic standards as other public schools but exempt from some regulations on curriculum and budget.

Supporters filed the initiative in May, and after it was reviewed by the attorney general's office and went through court challenges by both sides on the ballot title, signature gathering didn't begin until mid June. They will need about 242,000 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify for the Nov. 6 ballot.

GOP gov candidates split over health care reaction

OLYMPIA — In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court decision upholding the Affordable Care Act, Republicans have a split in their party's candidates for governor.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, by far the GOP frontrunner for governor, joined one of the key lawsuits that because he doubted the constitutionality of the individual mandate, said post-decision that that question was answered. Time to get on with implementation and stop talking about a wholesale repeal of the law, he said in a press conference.

Shahram Hadian, an Iranian-American Christian pastor is a long-shot to be sure, but is trying to close the gap by vowing to be as resolute against federal health care reform and “join other fiscally conservative, freedom loving, citizen defending, courageous governors to rise up against the implementation of this unconstitutional and outrageous law.”  He lists some current Republican governors who he says are refusling to implement Obamacare in their states, and includes Idaho's Butch Otter in that list. (In fact Otter hasn't said much post-decision because he was out of the office when it came down, other than he's not calling a special session to deal with setting up a health insurance exchange or other looming provisions of the federal law.)

Hadian isn't the only other Republican sharing the primary ballot with McKenna, but he's the only other one with anything close to an active campaign, and the only other one allowed to address the GOP state convention. He a sent out a fund-raising appeal and press release late last week based on fighting federal health care reform: “As the next governor, I will invoke the 10th Amendment rights and fight tooth and nail in refusing to implement any part of Obamacare. Period.”

It's a strong appeal to the Tea Party wing of the GOP. But it seems to ignore the fact that unlike Idaho, the Washington Legislature has already set the state on course to have a health insurance exchange in time for the federal deadline. So he'd have to convince the Lege to repeal that law,  toss out that work and give up the promise of federal funds for the exchange.

Of course, if Mitt Romney wins the White House and Republicans take control of both house of Congress, that  all may be taken care of in the other Washington. But that would be the case for McKenna… or even Democrat Jay Inslee, should he win.

Who had a better year?

The Spokesman-Review updated its searchable list of annual salaries for state employees last week, and as usual, the top salaries went to coaches for the major sports at the two biggest universities. And as usual, the state’s chief executive is pretty far down the list.

We always include the caveat that salaries for the athletics departments in those schools don’t come from taxpayers, but from other revenue. But the list always reminds us of a quote attributed to George Herman Ruth in 1930, when the Babe was asked to justify his salary being higher than President Hoover’s: “I had a better year than he did.”

Ruth was hitting homers and the country was in a recession, so there was no arguing there.

It may be possible for Steve Sarkisian, Lorenzo Romar and Ken Bone to make that case in comparison to Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had to deal with a protracted budget fight in a recalcitrant Legislature. But WSU football coach Paul Wulff and UW football defensive coach Nick Holt? Don’t think so.

A link to the searchable list can be found here.

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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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