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Spin Control

Archive for May 2012

City union tentatively agrees to contract

Spokane Mayor David Condon has reached his first tentative contract deal with a major city union.

The Spokane Managerial and Professional Association mailed ballots to its 250 members this week on a proposed three-year contract, said Carly Cortright, the association’s president.

The union’s leadership, which represents mostly salaried city workers, agreed to the deal early this month. Members have until June 9 to drop ballots in the mail. If membership accepts the contract, the Spokane City Council would have the final say.

The union’s contract expired last year. The new deal would be retroactive to Jan 1. Negotiations started in September.

Links to the court ruling on I-1183

OLYMPIA — The state Supreme Court upheld Initiative 1183, a.k.a. get the state out of the booze business, on a 5-4 vote. (Here's a link to today's story.)

Or maybe it's better described a 5-3-1 vote, because Justice Tom Chambers disagreed with the majority on some points, but agreed with them on others.

For those who were worried that the court was going to throw a monkey wrench in plans to rush to your favorite discount store and stock up on cheap booze, here's the reason why the changeover to private liquor stores will proceed on schedule:

Justice Steven Gonzalez's majority opinion, signed by Chief Justice Barbara Madsen and Justices Susan Owens, James Johnson and Debra Stephens,  can be found here.

Justice Charlie Wiggins' dissent, signed by Justices Charles Johnson and Mary Fairhurst, can be found here.

Justice Chambers' half and half, where he agrees that voters might've been hoodwinked by calling taxes fees, but agrees with the majority on some other things, can be found here.

As always, feel free to comment on what you think about I-1183, or the court's decision, by clicking here.

Mike Gregoire undergoes cancer surgery

OLYMPIA — Mike Gregoire, husband of Washington's two term governor, is recovering from cancer surgery after colon cancer was discovered during a routine screening.

Gov. Gregoire said in a statement her husband, who is 66, is still in the hospital but is expected to make a full recovery.

Cancer was discovered during a colonoscopy and he was immediately scheduled for surgery, the governor said in her statement. “Prior to the screening, Mike showed no symptoms and was never in pain,” she added.

The governor was diagnosed with breast cancer about eight years ago, also from routine screening, and made a full recovery.

Speaking of convention speakers

OLYMPIA — State Democrats and Republicans sparred today over the scheduled banquest speakers for their upcoming conventions, trying to one-up each other with digs at the incoming guests.

Democrats invited Newark Mayor Corey Booker to address their assembled delegates for a Friday evening banquet. This was before Booker suggested the Obama campaign lay off Bain Capital and others of its financial ilk, but Booker is still a hot ticket in Democratic circles, and the controversy probably makes him even better known among the incoming delegates.

Booker is also a supporter of charter schools, which many Washington Democrats, who have strong allies among the Washington Education Association, are not. Gov. Chris Gregoire is not. Legislative leadership is  not. Rep. Jay Inslee is probably not, although when asked questions about it, he talks about other ways to bring innovation to schools without actually coming out and saying.

So what did the Republicans do? They announced that the conservative Freedom Foundation has invited Booker to attend its forum on charter schools at the GOP convention in Tacoma on Thursday. Don't expect hizzoner to show up; he's not due at the Democratic convention in Seattle until Friday evening.

Not to be out-played, the state Democrats decided to challenge the state GOP's banquet speaker, Michelle Malkin, to endorse gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. The TV pundit has endorsed some pretty conservative folks in the past, including Rick Santorum's presidential bid this year and Dan Liljenquist, the Utah legislator who challenged U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch from the right.

Apparently the Democrats think getting an endorsement from a person who has a significant television following, and would shore up a candidate's street cred with the conservative bloc of his party, is a bad thing. And it might be, if the governor's race is so close that it comes down to the moderate independents in November…if they care about what someone like Malkin says at the end of May. At the convention, however, it's likely to burnish McKenna's image among the the more conservative delegates.

The state GOP convention starts Wednesday in Tacoma and runs through Saturday. The state Democratic convention starts Friday in Seattle and runs through Sunday. But the real action for both is Friday and Saturday. Between now and then, expect more of the same.

County awash in PCO candidates

The most basic political position for either party is that of the Precinct Committee Officer, a job with no pay, limited authority, and the potential for significant demands on the office holder’s time.

In theory, Democrats and Republicans should each elect a PCO for each of Spokane County’s 314 precincts every two years, although in many years the parties often go begging for willing candidates, and when they find one, there’s no contest for the job.

Not this year. In 105 precincts, about a third of the county’s total, there will be contested elections. Almost all, 101 races, will be for Republican positions. In one precinct, a South Hill precinct near Roosevelt Elementary School, both parties have contested PCO races with two Democrats and three Republicans.

By comparison, less than a tenth of the precincts in King County have contested PCO races in the Aug. 7 election.

It’s a sign of the ongoing struggle between two factions of the local GOP,

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

Romney’s Mormon mission partner recalls time in Paris

Mulloy Hansen had been a Mormon missionary in France for just a few months in early 1967 when he got word he was getting a new roommate and partner to seek converts in a working class section of Paris.
The 19-year-old Canadian teenager, who'd spent part of his life on a farm in Alberta, knew only a little about his new mission partner: He was the new leader for that district of the Mormon mission to France. He was a bit older, and had been in France about eight months longer. His father was a former Detroit auto executive who’d become a governor.
His new mission partner’s name: Mitt Romney. . .

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

Sunday Spin: Be prepared as a voter

As candidates wander around their respective district, county or state looking for support, it’s up to us the voters to have an idea what to expect from them.
They’re trying to cajole your vote with cheesy pictures in brochures or fancy camera work in commercial. It’s our job to make them work for that vote with something more than a nice smile or a catchy slogan on a billboard.
The assignment for Voter 101 is to figure out what’s important to you, and ask the candidate standing at your door or behind the podium “What’s the plan, Stan?”
The Washington Roundtable figured one out recently . . .

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

State to “monitor” gas prices

OLYMPIA — If your motor is racing because Washington's gasoline prices are going up, while most of the rest of the country's prices are going down, here's something that may tach it  up further:

There is now a state agency in charge of monitoring and reporting on gasoline prices and supplies. Gov. Chris Gregoire assigned that task to the state Department of Commerce.

Among its new duties, Commerce will “closely monitor Washington state and West Coast supplies and prices.” Spin Control will suggest it's first few reports:

“Hey, gas is getting damned expensive.”

“Hey, it's even worse than last week.”

“Geez, we can hardly afford to drive to work gas is so expensive. Can we have a raise?”

The department is also charged with “reporting any market concerns to the attorney general's office.” That's an interesting idea, but it could get her in trouble with the Democratic Party. If Commerce tells the AG's office they think there's something fishy about gas prices, and the AG does something to the oil companies to make them lower the prices, Republican Rob McKenna might be elected governor for life in the November election.

Gregoire also sent letters to all the refineries in Washington, including to the boss of BP's Cherry Point refinery, which is reputed to be part of the reason prices are going up because a fire earlier this spring forced it to shut down. It's not what you'd call a “come to Jesus” letter demanding Cherry Point stop dinking around and open the gasoline spigots. It's more of a reasoned, “we're all in this together” sort of missive:

“I urge you to take all prudent measures to increase production and supplies sufficiently to reduce prices for our consumers,” it says in part. The whole letter can be found here.

Today’s fun video: Look at the props in this one

Washington state and Idaho have some unusual, quirky and creative candidates. But so far none of them has produced a video like this one from Jeff Barth, a Democrat running to unseat a Republican congresswoman in South Dakota.

Sure, at nearly 5 minutes, it's too long. But it's still fun. Pay particular attention to the props he uses along the way.

Gregoire pushes education funding to center of debate

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Jay Inslee talks charter schools to WEA
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Jay Inslee talks collective bargaining to WEA

 

Job creation may be the main talking point of the two main candidates for governor, but another topic is rivaling jobs as a top issue in the campaign.

That’s thanks in part to outgoing Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has loudly backed the creation of new taxes to support the state’s Constitutional requirement to provide quality basic education.

The state Supreme Court ruled early this year that the state hasn’t met its obligation to adequately fund education programs.

But both Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna, and Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee — Gregoire’s pick to succeed her — disagree with her assertion that more taxes are necessary.

Gregoire spoke strongly last week to the Washington Education Association for the need for “new revenue” to raise an extra $1 billion in the next two-year budget. The teachers union held its annual convention at the Spokane Convention Center.

The next day, however, Inslee addressed the WEA convention and largely avoided the topic of how to address the the Supreme Court ruling.

In an interview before the speech, Inslee said he would focus efforts to improve education funding on improving the economy, which would increase tax revenue.

“The most fundamental thing we need to do is get people back to work in this state,” he said. “That’s the real driver of revenue creation in our state.”

Inslee said he also would find savings by instituting efficiency programs that have grown popular in corporate America as well as in some city’s like Spokane under former Mayor Mary Verner.

McKenna says growing the economy is important, but says Democratic administrations have allowed the percentage of the state budget devoted to education to shrink as other programs have grown. He said he would reverse that trend.

“Moving forward we have to focus on reform and on spending more of the state budget on education,” McKenna said in an interview last week. “That means we’re not going to spend as much on other parts of the budget – that we won’t allow other parts of the budget to grow as fast as they have been growing.”

Charter school initiative filed

OLYMPIA — An initiative that would allow the state to form as many as 40 charter schools over the next five years was filed today with the Secretary of State in an effort to get the proposal on the November ballot.

They would be “public charters” which mean they'd be non-profits with the same academic standards as other public schools, but would be exempt from some regulations on curriculum and budget.

The League of Education Voters, which filed the proposal, and its allies have less than two months to gather the 241,153 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. A short time span for most campaigns, although Costco managed to get enough signatures for its “get the state out of the liquor business” initiative in less time last year.

Mark Funk, a campaign spokesman, said the group would use both volunteer and paid-signature collectors to get enough signatures in the short time available. The campaign hasn't raised any money yet, but expects to get contributions from people and groups who have long supported that aspect of education reform, and most money will likely come from individual rather than corporate sources, Funk said.

Washington voters rejected charter schools in 2004, and the Legislature has considered but not passed them since then. Legislation similar to the initiative was introduced with fanfare early in the last legislative session with bipartisan sponsors, but it met with strong opposition from Gov. Chris Gregoire and legislative leaders in both chambers, and eventually died.

Text of the initiative can be found here.

Parker again without challenger

So much for magical thinking.

The Occupy Spokane activist who challenged state Rep. Kevin Parker's reelection bid already has dropped out of the race.

Wayne Kyle Spitzer, a Democrat, confirmed today that he decided against running for Parker's 6th District House seat. He filed paperwork officially dropping out on Monday.

Spitzer said recently that Parker would be tough to beat, but that with some “magical thinking” it could be done.

His withdrawal means that for the second election cycle in a row, Parker will not face a challenge to reelection.

Another legislator out: Pflug to take GMA Board slot

OLYMPIA — The number of vacant seats in the Legislature continues to grow, as Sen. Cheryl Pflug accepted a gubernatorial appointment Monday to the Growth Management Hearings Board.

Pflug, R-Maple Valley, represents the suburban King County 5th Legislative District, first elected to the House in 1998, then appointed to the Senate in 2004 when Dino Rossi resigned to run for governor. (Those with really long memories might recall that the 5th District used to be located in Spokane County prior to 1992.)

Gov. Chris Gregoire announced this afternoon she was appointing Pflug to a six-year term on the board, which settles disputes over planning and development issues in cities and counties around the state, and two representatives each from Eastern Washington, Central Puget Sound, and the rest of the state West of the Cascades.

Pflug filed for re-election last week, listing her party preference as “Independent GOP Party.” She will have to withdraw from that race because she can't serve on the board and in the Legislature. That leaves the seat to a race between Democrat Mark Mullet and Republican Brad Toft.

It's also at least the third surprise departure from the Senate this month. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown, D-Spokane, announced May 3 that she was retiring and Sen. Joe Zarelli of Ridgefield, the top Republican on the Ways and Means Committee and a key player in this year's budget negotiations, announced last Friday that he'd had enough, too.

Spokane GOP challenges Roskelley run

The Spokane County Republican Party plans to go to court this week in an effort to block the county commissioner campaign of Democrat John Roskelley.

The county GOP filed a challenge to Roskelley's current voter registration on Friday, and asked Auditor Vicky Dalton to remove his name from the ballot for the District 1 commissioner race, where he is challenging incumbent Republican Commissioner Todd Mielke. But an auditor has no authority to strike a name from the ballot, Dalton said, and the party will have to convince a Superior Court judge to take  him off the ballot.

“This is a very clear-cut case,” Matthew Pederson, county GOP chairman said, contending Roskelley is trying to “deceive voters” with the address.

“It's just politics,” said Roskelley.

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

Compare the proposed Spokane marijuana initiatives

Attached to this post are the two proposed citizen intiatives filed recently with the city of Spokane clerk's office. The supporters of each initiative still need to gather signatures in order to force the issues onto the city ballot.

Here is the story about the proposals.

Finally, I apologize to anyone who tried to find them on Spin Control earlier today, as the print version of the story directs interested readers to do.


Documents:

There’s a reason it’s called a political party

Washington’s Top 2 primary doesn’t just bring out a wealth of candidates. It brings out the creativity in some of those candidates as they list which party they “prefer.” Preference is a key part of the Top 2, because it doesn’t limit the general election field to one Democrat and one Republican, so no matter what party is listed on the ballot, if a candidate finishes first or second, he or she goes on to November. Finish third or worse and it’s “Later, gator.”
This year we have a candidate from the Human Rights Party running for secretary of state, candidates from the FDR Democratic Party, the Progressive Independent Party, the Employmentwealth Party and the 99% Party running for various Congressional seats (on the West Side, of course.) Lieutenant governor attracted the most creativity, with candidates inventing an Indep Republican Party, a Democracy Indep. Party and a Neopopulist Party. And there is the usual schism for between candidates who want to list Republican Party and others who want to list the GOP Party. The latter ignore the redundancy because spelling out the acronym would mean they prefer the Grand Old Party Party.
Or they just really like to party.
  

A Filing Week tradition ends

When the dust from candidate filing week settled at the close of business Friday, there were a few surprises in who is running for what. But the biggest surprise was who isn’t running.
For the first time since 1996, a Spokane primary election ballot will be printed without Barbara Lampert’s name on it.
The retired nurse’s aide said after that first campaign 16 years ago she planned to run every year for something until she got elected or turned 70. In that span, she has run for almost every office short of president in that span, from U.S. Senate down to city council member. She is such a fixture that some political reporters joked recently about betting on which race it would be.
Joke’s on us. Lampert, at 66, is shy of her self-imposed age limit and hasn’t wound up with the most votes in a general election. But Friday she said she’s getting spoiled in retirement and isn’t up to a run this year. “I was just too busy with other things,” she said. “There’s no sense to kill myself.”
To read the rest of this item, go inside the blog

Day 5 Filing Week: A long ballot for Aug. 7

OLYMPIA – Washington’s primary ballot got longer and more interesting before elections offices closed for filing Friday afternoon.

Spokane-area ballots will have nine candidates for governor, eight for U.S. Senate, seven for secretary of state, six for lieutenant governor, five for a Spokane legislative seat, four for Eastern Washington’s 5th District congressional seats. No partridges or pear trees, though.

Many of the candidates for major offices are well-known, and have been campaigning for months. Some entering the field this week are perennial candidates who regularly file for something, but rarely make it past a primary. Mike the Mover, owner of a Seattle area moving company who legally changed his name to reflect his occupation, filed this year for Senate, as did Will Baker of Tacoma and Glen Stockwell, a Ritzville resident who has tried legislative campaigns in the past.

The Aug. 7 election is a Top 2 primary, which means the candidates with the most, and second most votes move on to the general, regardless of party. Candidates say which party the prefer, but that doesn’t signify party support, or even recognition.

That means some races in November could match two Democrats or two Republicans. It also means candidates are free to describe their party preference in creative ways, to make up parties, or say they have no party preference at all.

For a list of candidates appearing on Spokane-area ballots in the primary, and their stated party preference, go inside the blog.

Waite drops out, endorses Snyder

Downtown Spokane businessman John Waite said Friday that he has decided not to run for the state House afterall.

Waite said earlier this month that he would run as a Democrat for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, who is giving up his seat to run for state Senate.

With five candidates who have filed for the seat, Waite said he decided this afternoon that it already was too crowded and that the entry of former City Councilman Bob Apple would make the race more difficult because he was hoping for strong support in Apple's former council district in Northeast Spokane. Waite ran for Apple's seat last year.

Waite said he will support City Councilman Jon Snyder in the race because of Snyder's experience in small business and his work promoting sustainability.

“He fits my agenda as well as anybody,” he said.

Day 5 Filing Week: Waite drops out on the final day

OK candidates, it's down to the wire. You have until 5 p.m to file for statewide office, and 4 p.m. to file for an office with a district that is solely within Spokane County.

As we approach the deadline, the field for one of the races got smaller. Spokane businessman John Waite posted on Facebook that he was dropping out of the 3rd District primary for an open state House of Representatives position. Waite said he was throwing his support behind Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder.

That leaves three Democrats — Bob Apple, Marcus Riccelli and Snyder — as well as Republicans Tim Benn and Morgan Oyler, in that race.

For a list of all candidates filed for offices on Spokane-area ballots as of 3 p.m., go inside the blog.

Gregoire tells teachers that state must raise taxes

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Gregoire on the need to raise taxes

Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire told the state’s largest teachers union that she will work to increase taxes to help the state meet its mandate to provide quality education.

“I am traveling the state to send the message to legislators and taxpayers that we must have a new source of revenue because we cannot have money in the good times and no money in the bad times,” Gregoire said. “We have to have money all the time to meet our obligation to ensure the education of our children.”

Gregoire spoke Thursday evening at Spokane Convention Center during the annual convention of the Washington Education Association. About 1,000 members are attending the weekend event.

The governor, who opted not to run for a third term, won’t be governor when the Legislature convenes in January to consider the next two-year budget cycle and if tax increases will be part of that budget. Even so, she said she will remain active on the issue of education funding.

“It is time for us to step up to the responsibility that we as citizens in the state have and that is a long-term sustainable revenue source,” she said.

WA Delegation to Air Force: Put new tankers at Fairchild

Washington's congressional delegation is a diverse group that doesn't agree on much, whether it's who's waging a “war on women” or what's the right policy on taxes, budget cuts, health care reform or immigration.

But they managed to rally around one favorite topic this morning: Putting the first new KC-46A tankers at Fairchild Air Force Base.

OK, so it's kind of a no-brainer that planes assembled in the state at a Boeing plant would stay in the state at Fairchild. Still, all nine representatives and both senators signed on to a letter today to Air Force Secretary Mike Donley and various generals that Fairchild would be a really great spot for the first '46As because it has both Active Duty and Air National Guard units that fly tankers, an improved runway, and is close to the Asia-Pacific theater. That plus the federal government has spent about $400 million on a wide range of improvements over the last few decades. (Stuff that we assume the secretary and the generals already know, but hey, they're busy guys so it probably doesn't hurt to remind them.)

A copy of the full letter is inside the blog.

Condon backs change to initiative process

Changes to the way citizens can sidestep elected leaders to pass their own laws received the endorsement on Wednesday of Mayor David Condon.

But there will be more steps before the new rules become law if some citizens have their way.

Ian Moody, a marijuana reform advocate and candidate for Congress filed a referendum in hopes of preventing the ordinance, which was approved by City Council on April 30, from becoming law.

Supporters of the referendum will have until June 14 to collect 6,262 signatures of registered voters in the City of Spokane – 10 percent of the number of people who voted in the last city election – to prevent the rules from becoming law on June 15. If enough signatures are verified, the City Council will reconsider the ordinance. If the council upholds its decision, voters would have the final say in November 2013 election – though the City Council could opt to hold the election sooner.

Day 3 Filing Week: Some familiar names and one new one

OLYMPIA — The middle of filing week, as usual, brings some familiar names to the primary ballot and at least one newcomer: Mike the Mover has filed for governor. John Adams has filed for state insurance commissioner.

Ian Moody of Spokane has filed for the U.S. House in Eastern Washington's 5th District.

The Mover runs for some major political office every two years. In 2010 and 2006 it was U.S. Senate. In 2004 it was governor. In 2000, insurance commissioner. He seemed to be ready to sit out 2008 and didn't show up anywhere during fililng week, but later filed to run for governor as a write-in candidate.

As his name (which was legally changed years ago from Michael Shanks), he runs a moving company in the Seattle area.

John Adams, who has a presidential-sounding name, has run for insurance commissioner in 2004 and 2008, capturing the Republican nomination both times, then spending small sums — $1,346 in '08 and $997 in '04 — on his campaign. He got about 41 percent of the vote the first time and about 39 percent the second, which is a pretty good vote-to-dollar-spent ratio, in a “statistics are for losers” kind of metric.

Moody is active in efforts to legalize marijuana and the Sensible Spokane Alliance. His congressional campaign will dovetail with marijuana intiative efforts, and bring attention to problems with federal marijuana laws, he said. He's running with no party preference and describes himself as a social progressive and fiscal conservative.

For the latest list of candidate filings for offices on Spokane-area ballots, go inside the blog.

State gets piece of Skechers settlement

OLYMPIA — Attorney General Rob McKenna says state residents shouldn't be taking advice from Kim Kardashian, at least not about shoes that supposedly help build you up without a trip to the gym.

The state got a piece of the settlement between Skechers shoe manufacturers for several models of “Shape Up” footwear that don't deliver what Kardashian promises in the above ad.

“Advertising materials claimed that consumers may ‘get in shape without setting foot in a gym’ even though there’s no good evidence to show the shoes work as advertised,” McKenna said in a press release. “Don’t cancel your gym membership. File these sketchy footwear claims under ‘too good to be true.’”

The state gets about $117,000 in the settlement, which will go for legal costs and education programs for health and fitness for women and girls. Consumers who bought Shape Ups, Tone Ups or Resistance Runners can apply for a partial refund by going on the Federal Trade Commission site.

A spokesman for McKenna's office says the refund is about $20, because the shoes weren't completely worthless. They still covered your feet, they just didn't work as advertised.

A cleaner Victory

OLYMPIA — With Memorial Day around the corner, the state Department of Enterprise Services is doing its annual maintenance and restoration of the Capitol Campus grounds and monuments.

On Tuesday, Larry Tate of FS Ltd., a company that specializes in art restoration and conservation work, did a cleaning job on Winged Victory, the monument to World War I veterans at the northeast entrance to the Capitol Building. Heat, cold, rain, snow and salt air from nearby Budd Inlet are hard on the sculpture

FS Ltd. did a major restoration work on Winged Victory, cleaning off the gold paint that had been applied by someone previous administration that thought  the1938 sculpture needed to be a brighter color, and restored it to the color it was when Alonzo Lewis finished it. 

From his vantage point, Tate got to see Winged Victory from an angle most people don't. How's it looking from up there?

“It looks good,” he said.

McMorris Rodgers: GOP designated hitter on War on Women

 

As previously mentioned in Spin Control, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has been given command of GOP forces counterattacking Democrats on the “War on Women.”

Along with her appearance yesterday on Chris Matthews, she also appeared on CNN's John King U.S.A. show.

The message is essentially the same, as it has been for more than a month, that the war is a “Democratic myth” designed to capture women's votes in 2012 after losing them in 2010, and that women really care about the economy.  Compare the two clips, if you are so inclined, to see which matchup she handled better.

Day 2 Filing Week: Inslee draws a crowd

Inslee gives a campaign speech on the Capitol steps after filing for office.

OLYMPIA — In front of a crowd that included babies in arms, senior citizens and union members in hard hats, Democrat Jay Inslee tried to energize his gubernatorial campaign after making it official.
One of a handful of candidates to file paperwork and pay his fee Tuesday, Inslee gave a campaign speech on the Capitol steps after completing the process inside the building to run for governor.
State Republicans were quick with a counterpunch, saying voters shouldn’t choose Inslee to be governor after he decided he couldn’t serve out his congressional term and run for office at the same time. Inslee resigned his seat earlier this year to campaign full time.
“Ex-Congressman Inslee is obviously not concerned about the welfare of (Congressional) District One, so how can he be concerned about the welfare of the state?” State GOP Chairman Kirby Wilbur said in a prepared statement a few hours after Inslee filed.
After his speech, Inslee talked with reporters about plans for education improvements  that would build on successes around the state and pay bonuses to the best teachers willing to be mentors to new teachers. He shied away from the term charter schools, saying at one point it has different meanings to different people, and for some signifies a lack of control by locally elected school boards. Changes under his plan would be controlled by school boards, and possibly funded by state grants, he said.
Inslee
also disagreed with fellow Democrat and retiring Gov. Chris Gregoire, who said he and Republican candidate Rob McKenna need to acknowledge the fact that the state faces a new source of revenue — that is to say, a tax increase — to cover a $1 billion jump in spending to comply with a recent state Supreme Court ruling on fully funded basic education. No new taxes are needed, he said, if the economy gets back on track, more people get back to work, and the state finds savings elsewhere in the budget, like reducing health care costs.

For the 5 p.m. update on the list of candidate filings, click here to go inside the blog.

Matthews takes on McMorris Rodgers

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, was put on the defensive Monday by Chris Matthews of MSNBC's Hardball.

McMorris Rodgers, who has become the GOP's chief spokeswoman against attacks on the party related to women's issues, defended the House leadership's position against adding protections for lesbians and others in the Violence Against Women Act, which expired last year and is under consideration for reauthorization by Congress.

She said the House GOP leadership is committed to the act but not as the reauthorization has been approved by the Senate. The version approved by the Senate includes the protections as well as extra visas for female immigrants facing abuse.

Day 2 Filing Week: As the day starts

OLYMPIA — Filing week continues today for all the political offices on the Aug. 7 Top 2 primary ballot. Unlike Monday, when there was the traditional rush into the elections offices by anxious candidates, Tuesday started slower.

Sen. Mark Schoesler and Rep. Joe Schmick, Republican incumbents in southeast Washington's 9th Legislative District, filed this morning. Overnight, Republican Art Coday filed electronically for U.S. Senate.

Yes, you actually can avoid the trip to the county elections office or Secretary of State's office, save time and gasoline, by filing online. (Click here for details.) You can sell yourself as the sensible, efficient, environmentally friendly, tech savvy candidate. But you miss the chance to turn your filing, which is really just a clerical exercise, into a campaign event.

Speaking of which, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the leading Democratic candidate for governor, will be chatting with reporters on the north steps of the Capitol this morning after filing his forms and paying the fee.

For the latest list of candidates for offices on Spokane-area ballots, click here to go inside the blog.

Council adopts easier-to-enforce noise law

Testimony at Monday’s Spokane City Council meeting included the sounds of William Cruz on guitar and trumpet as some downtown buskers argued against proposed noise restrictions.

But Spokane City Council members said the new rules, which they approved 6-1, protect free speech while making the law easier to enforce when buskers or other sound makers infringe on other peoples’ rights.

The ordinance will replace a law that was approved in 2010 that required an officer to take a decibel reading of the noise in order to issue a violation. It bases most noise limits on how far away the sound can be heard, a standard that many other Washington cities use.

Performers or anyone else making sound on public rights-of-way such as sidewalks will be barred from making noise that is “plainly audible” 100 feet away if other factors are at play, such as if the noise is rattling windows or includes “heavy bass frequencies.” If a performer were playing between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. they also can't make noise that is “plainly audible” on adjacent private property. The distance limit for noise from private property was set at 50 feet or the property line, which ever is shorter.

Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori, who co-sponsored the ordinance with Councilman Mike Allen, said the 100-feet distance may the longest distance that any city in Washington allows for noise. He also stressed that the new law, unlike the old one, requires police officers to give offenders a chance to stop making the noise before issuing a citation.

“This is a kinder, gentler ordinance,” Salvatori said.

After his brief, amplified performance Cruz called the 100-foot limit “a joke.”

He and others argued that the standard is less subjective than using decibel readings and could open the city to lawsuits for infringing on people’s free speech rights.

Gonzaga law professor George Critchlow likened the ability of police to issue noise violations without a decibel reading to issuing speeding tickets without using a radar gun.

Air Force sets standards for new tanker base

The Air Force released the criteria today for deciding which of its bases will get the first new air refueling tankers, and Fairchild will be among about 60 bases being considered.

That means the Air Force won't limit those first KC-46As to a base that already serves as a current home for tankers, but will look at most facilities in the continental United States. The main criteria for making this first list for consideration?

“A runway,” a spokeswoman for the officer of the Secretary of the Air Force said after a short description of the criteria was released. That's essentially all bases with airplanes, although not every Air Force base has planes, Ann Stefanek said.

From that most basic of necessities for a jet patterned after the Boeing 767 commercial airliner, the Air Force will consider other important details, such as the capacity of the fueling system, available space on the runway, size of hangars, proximity to planes needing to be refueled, airspace availability, environmental considerations and costs.

The Air Force expects to have scores for all the potential bases sometime this summer, Stefanek said, and narrow the list further to a small group of top scorers from which the preferred site and reasonable alternatives will be chosen late this year.

The Air Force began briefing members of Congress and posted the criteria briefly on its website this afternoon. It later removed the criteria, even though it kept a link with a picture of a prototype of the new tanker refueling a cargo plane that promised information about the criteria.

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, said she believes the criteria puts Fairchild Air Force Base in a ” very competitive position” to be an early home for the new planes, which will be built in Everett: “I'm confident that Fairchild's long tanker history, strong community support and joint operations between the Active Duty and Guard place it in an ideal position to succeed.”

The West Plains base has a new runway and a new wing headquarters under construction, Murray said in an e-mail. A letter from the state's congressional delegation to Air Force leaders on how the base stacks up to the criteria could be sent as soon as Tuesday.

To read the Air Force announcement of criteria for the first two new tanker bases, and the tanker “formal training unit, click here to go inside the blog.

Day 1 Filing Week. Some races fill up quickly

OLYMPIA — Some races are starting to fill up quickly on the first morning of filing week as many of the expected candidates and a few surprises turn in their forms and fees.

The top of the ballot for the Aug. 7 primary, the U.S. Senate race, had three names before lunchtime: Incumbent Democrat Maria Cantwell, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner of Spokane's 6th Legislative District were “givens.” But filing first was a previously unheralded candidate, Chuck Jackson of Snohomish. He listed Republican as his party preference, and scaryreality.com as his e-mail provider.

The statewide race attracting the most attention so far is secretary of state. Incumbent Sam Reed is retiring, and five candidates already want to take his place. First in the blocks, and perhaps the first person to file this morning at 8:00 a.m., was Sam Wright of Olympia, who lists his preference as the Human Rights Party. Perhaps more recognizable to a larger chunk of the state's electorate is former Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels, listing Democrat as his party preference. Democratic State Sen. Jim Kastama also wants that job, as does Democrat Kathleen Drew, a former state senator, and Karen Murray of Quincy, who lists the Constitution Party as her preference.

On a local note, Spokane County Treasurer Rob Chase filed for the County Commissioner seat being vacated by fellow Republican Mark Richard.

For more candidate filings, go inside the blog. We'll update the list several times a day.

Sunday Spin: Our 8 simple rules for surviving as a candidate

Monday marks the official start of campaign season. Would-be officeholders will file the paperwork and plunk down the fees for the political position of their choice, or perhaps their dreams.
Thanks for that. You help keep the newspaper’s government and political reporters in beer and burgers with your willingness to participate in the democratic process.
Some of you know what you’re doing, some think you know what you’re doing and some haven’t a clue. Without placing any candidate into any category, Spin Control each year at this time offers candidates and their campaign staffs its eight simple rules for survival through Election Day.

Check them out inside the blog.

  

Filing week is nearly here. Candidates take note

Everyone thinking about running for political office this year, take note: You have less than a week to make up your mind. Everyone talking about running and acting like they’re already a full-fledged candidate, take note: It’s not official until you file your paperwork and pay your fee.

Candidate filing week starts Monday morning, and ends when the office where that paperwork and fee must be deposited closes on Friday. Here’s a tricky part – because of budget cutbacks, some county elections offices close as early as noon on Fridays, others at 4 p.m., and some stay open until 5 p.m. Anyone planning to wait until the very last minute to build suspense would be wise to make a phone call to the appropriate office and check when that last minute is.

For some positions that’s the county elections office in the county seat; for others, it’s the Secretary of State’s office in Olympia. How do you know what goes where?

Go inside the blog to read more, or to comment.

Apple joins crowded field for Spokane House seat

The field to replace state Rep. Andy Billig is getting larger.

Former City Councilman Bob Apple today became the fifth person to say he will run for the Third Legislative District House seat that Billig is leaving to run for state Senate.

Apple, 56, joins Democratic candidates City Councilman Jon Snyder; downtown businessman John Waite; and Marcus Riccell, senior policy analyst to state Sen. Lisa Brown; and Republican candidate Tim Benn, a child day care center owner.

Apple left the City Council at the end of last year after finishing his second term. He was term limited from running again. He ran for the same House position in 2010 and finished third among four candidates in the primary.

A former roofer, Apple said he currently isn't employed and will be able to campaign full-time.

Apple is more conservative than many in the party. He opposed former Spokane Mayor Mary Verner's sustainability plan, for instance. He said he likely will vote against same-sex marriage in November, though he'll accept whatever the voters decide on that issue.

Parker challeger, Wayne Spitzer, used to big challenges

Wayne Kyle Spitzer isn’t without ‘magical thinking.’

Just check out his 1990s film work on YouTube.

Spitzer, who has become a prominent voice in Occupy Spokane, recently announced on Facebook that he will challenge state House Rep. Kevin Parker, R-Spokane, in the August primary as a Democrat.

Parker has raised more than $140,000 for his reelection bid and has obtained a reputation as nearly unbeatable in only two terms serving his House district that includes much of Spokane. No one even bothered to challenge Parker in 2010.

“I don’t have any delusions about our chances, and yet I don’t think it’s impossible,” Spitzer said in an interview at Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown’s farewell party on Wednesday at the Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox. “It takes a leap of faith and just a little dose of magical thinking.”

Spitzer, 45, has had many jobs since he graduated from University High School in 1984, but he probably is best known as an independent filmmaker, who produced science fiction programming and short films, including the series “Dead of Night” which ran on a cable access channel in Spokane in the mid-1990s. And, yes, some of his work is thankfully available on YouTube. Here’s a Spokesman-Review story about “Dead of Night” from 1996.

Obama: Move forward, don’t go back

SEATTLE — Barack Obama acknowledged he hasn't been a perfect president as he asked some , supporters to help him win another term and ask themselves a different question than the tradition standard an incument faces of “are you better off than you were four years ago?”

The question he wants to frame the election: “Will we be better off if we keep moving forward?”

In a half-hour speech regularly interrupted by the partisan audience, Obama sought to paint Republicans as the group that wants to go back to policies that didn't work in the last decade and Democrats as the party trying to move forward.

Some of the loudest cheers came whenever he mentioned something involving gay rights, and he worked that theme into many areas of the speech just a day after he said he personally supports the rights of same-sex couples to marry, although the issue should be decided by each state.

“If you're willing to work hard, you should be able to find a job…give your kids a chance to do better…no matter what your last  name is, where you come from… no matter who you love,” he said.

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

Obama making rounds in Seattle

SEATTLE — president Obama's motorcade arrived in downtown about 2 pm where crowds lined the blocked off streets to snap photos and gay rights activists waved supporting signs.

Inside the paramount Theater a crowd that paid $1000 per ticket was being treated to music from dave Matthews and warmup Political speeches from local democrats like patty Murray while about 20 reporters and photographers waited downstairs near the restrooms for Obama's entrance.

Crowds gathering outside Paramount

McClain, left, and Brotski outside the Paramount Theater.

SEATTLE — President Obama's supporters are lining up outside the Paramount Theater and filling the blocked off street in advance of his second fund-raiser of the day in this city.

Obama arrived shortly before noon at Boeing Field, where he was greeted by Gov. Chris Gregoire, Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee and other local Democrats, a pool report said. The motorcade then took Obama to a home overlooking Lake Washington, where about 70 people were gathered for a $17,900 per ticket meet and greet.

Outside the estate, a small child had a sign that thanked Obama for “standing up for my mommies,” the pool report said.

Downtown near the Paramount were also fans of Obama's announcement Wednesday that he personally supports same-sex marriage.

Mary Beth Brotski and Teri McClain wore a pair of sandwich signs, which read on the front “Thanks for Evolving on Same Sex Marriage” and had a picture of a chimpanzee on one side and Obama on the other.

McClain, who said she tries to attend every Obama appearance in the Seattle area, said she created the signs this morning. The response was mostly positive, although one person did criticize her choice of picturing Obama and a chimp.

“I didn't have time to draw the whole evolutionary chart,” said McClain.

Neither were surprised by his announcement. “I think it was inevitable,” Brotski said.

“It's time,” McClain said. “He's all about change.

Waite questions labor’s backing of Riccelli

Candidates haven’t even officially signed up to run for office, but the contest for a state House seat representing central Spokane is heating up.

The race for the seat held by state Rep. Andy Billig, D-Spokane, already has attracted four candidates, in large part because Billig decided last week that he wouldn’t run for reelection as planned so that he could run for the state Senate seat held by Lisa Brown, who announced last week that she would not run for a new term.

The AFL-CIO’s Washington State Labor Council endorsed on Saturday Democrat Marcus Riccelli, Brown’s senior policy analyst, for Billig’s 3rd Legislative District seat without seeking the positions of other candidates.

Democratic candidate John Waite, who owns Merlyn’s Comics and Games, said the labor endorsement indicates that “elite, upper party leaders” are working to control the outcome.

“That’s absolutely, positively not my vision for how our democratic elections process should work,” Waite said.

The other two candidates who have announced their intentions to run are Republican Tim Benn and Democrat Jon Snyder, a Spokane City councilman.

Riccelli, who attended the labor council’s weekend convention where union leaders selected candidates they support in the August primary, said he’s “extremely proud” of the support he earned from the labor council.

Obama headed for Seattle

President Barack Obama is headed for Seattle today, to raise campaign money and tie up traffic.

Make that tie up traffic even worse than normal in the city.

He's due into Boeing Field about 11:45 a.m., has a high-ticket private fundraiser in the city ($17,900 per ticket) for about 70 folks at a private residence, then a “more affordable” event for the masses — $1,000 per — at the Paramount Theater downtown.

At least for $1,000, folks will get to hear Dave Matthews.

Spin Control will be there, and the campaign says there will be Wi-Fi, so if they're right, we'll be live blogging the event.

Stay tuned.

What happens to Lisa Brown’s $156,000 campaign fund?

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Lisa Brown speaks at ‘campaign kickoff’

State Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown perhaps was too prepared for her reelection bid.

She already had ordered her campaign signs when she made the surprise announcement last week that she would not to seek a new term.

“They’re going to have to get recycled,” Brown, a Democrat, said.

Although Brown had raised more for her campaign as of Wednesday than any other state legislative candidate who represents Spokane County, most of that money has already been spent or will have to be returned. Even so, there likely will be a sizable amount left that Brown can direct to Democratic Party campaign efforts.

Obama gay marriage support fuels state politicians

OLYMPIA — In a state that recently went through a legislative battle over same-sex marriage and faces a potential ballot fight over the issue, President Barack Obama's comments supporting gay marriage drew quick response.

He'll likely hear some of it in person Thursday, when he stops by for a pair of re-election campaign fundraisers.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who offered similar reasoning late last year for her switch in support of gay marriage, praised Obama for a “courageous and heartfelt act.”

Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, an openly gay legislator and sponsor of the bill that could ultimately allow Washington state to recognize same-sex marriages, thanked Obama for “his courage in taking a strong position in support of equality for all Americans.”

But the National Organization for Marriage, a national group helping to gather signatures to place Washington's same-sex marriage law on the ballot and calling for a boycott of Starbuck's for its support of the legislation, predicted Obama's comments would cost him re-election. Although Obama said he personallly supports gay marriage but believes states should decide the issue, “that is completely disingenuous,” NOM President Brian Brown said.

In an interview with ABC, Obama said he had hoped that civil unions for same-sex couples would be enough, but that hasn't proved true. He also mentioned that his daughters have friends whose parents are same-sex couples and whom they wouldn't expect to be treated differently, and that helped prompt his change in thinking.

Within hours, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, as chairwoman of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, sent out an e-mail to party supporters, asking them to sign an on-line petition to “stand with President Obama in support of marriage equality.”

That closely parallels Gregoire's comments in December, when she called for the change in state law and said her opinion had also evolved from supporting civil unions to marriage for same-sex couples. At that time, she mentioned the her views had evolved from talking with her daughters, whose generation is much more accepting of same-sex unions, and that children who are being raised by two parents of the same sex deserve to have their families recognized the same way as their classmates in more traditional families.

Gregoire and Obama may have a chance to discuss the issue Thursday. The president will make a campaign stop in Seattle, with a fundraiser at the Paramont Theater in downtown; Gregoire will be there, her office said.

The comments could also cause a ripple into the governor's race, which could share the ballot with a referendum seeking to block the same-sex marriage law that is on the books but currently on  hold. The leading Democratic candidate, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, has said  he supports the new law. The leading Republican candidate, Attorney General Rob McKenna, has said he supports civil unions but not marriage for same-sex couples, adding his stance on the issue was essentially the same as Obama's. Until today, that description was accurate, but it is now obsolete.

Opponents of same-sex marriage are gathering signatures on Referendum 74, which would give voters the final say on whether the law takes effect. A representative of Preserve Marriage Washington, the main sponsor of the referendum, told the Associated Press Wednesday they had about 70,000 of the more than 120,000 signatures needed to place the measure on the November ballot.

Making hay in Eastern Washington

Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Jay Inslee spent today in Spokane reminding Eastern Washington voters that he's the only candidate with political and professional experience on both sides of the state's Cascade Curtain.

“Every race needs one candidate who knows how to buck hay,” Inslee joked over coffee at Chairs Coffee house in North Spokane, explaining that he grew hay on part of his property while living and working in the Yakima area for nearly 20 years.

It's both a figurative and literal description of what Inslee is bringing to a tough race pitting him against Attorney General Rob McKenna, a Republican with two successful statewide campaigns under his belt.

“I have an understanding of Eastern Washington's economy,” Inslee said, adding that he's also toured the region's growing aviation industry and its alternative energy companies.

In the weeks ahead, look for Inslee to continue pushing his jobs plan, which he describes as being built around strengthening Washington's middle class families by focusing on key industries and the training needed to supply the workers. McKenna has a competing jobs plan, which both candidates say they're eager to compare and contrast, point by point if necessary.

New voter cards in the mail

Most Spokane County voters will get cards in the mail updating their voter information.

County elections officials said they've mailed out 195,000 cards listing new precinct information, which is roughly three out of four voters in the county.

The changes were prompted by the redistricting, which happens once very 10 years after a national census. Spokane County remains in the 5th Congressional District, but the lines for all of the legislative districts locate completely or partially in the county were redrawn.

In an effort to save some money, the county is sending cards only to voters whose precinct information changed. The Valley's 4th Legislative District saw the least change, and many precincts in that district remain the same, so those voters won't be getting new cards. But the 3rd, 6th, 7th and 9th districts all had significant changes that effect of their voters.

A bit of voting info trivia of the political geeks: Precincts in Spokane County have a four-digit number that helps explain where that voting sector is. The first digit is the legislative district, so all county precincts start with either 3, 4, 6, 7 or 9.

The second digit tells whether the voter lives inside or outside an incorporated area like a city or town. A zero for the second digit means the precinct is in an unincorporated area; another digit means its a city or town. Most of the cities and towns are in a single legislative district, so a precinct that starts 44 is the City of Spokane Valley and one that starts 43 is Liberty Lake. Airway Heights precincts start 64 and Cheney precincts 67. Spokane city precincts are a bit trickier because there are three Lege districts that have pieces of the city, and the second digit is either 1, 2 or 3, to tell you which City Council district the precinct is in. Northeast is 1, South is 2 and Northwest is 3.

Into endorsements

Washington candidates are scrambling to announce endorsements this week as filing week approaches.

The gubernatorial candidates are taking turns touting nods from “first responders.” Former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, the likely Democratic nominee, is in Spokane today to pick up the endorsement of Fire Fighters Local 29. They'll have a formal laying on of the hands at 2:15 p.m. at the union hall, 911 E. Baldwin.

Attorney General Rob McKenna, the all-but-certain Republican nominee, announced Monday that he'd been endorsed by the Washington State Troopers Association.

The State Labor Council weighed in over the weekend with its endorsements, which were, depending on one's point of view, strongly pro-Democrat or anti-Republican. The council is backing Rich Cowan against U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers in the 5th Congressional District, and picked a D in eight of the other nine districts. For District 3 in Southwest Washington, they didn't have a good Democratic option, so they came out opposed to Republican Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler.

In Spokane Legislative races, the labor council showed an ability to shift quickly to the winds of Sen. Lisa Brown's surprise retirement last week. endorsing Andy Billig for the now open Senate seat and Marcus Riccelli for Billig's former House seat. One problem with the quick turnaround: They misspelled Riccelli's name. Also on their list: Amy Biviano in the 4th District and Dennis Dellwo in the 6th.

Speaking of that potentially crowded 3rd District House race, Democratic leaders seem eager to jump in line behind Riccelli. Brown endorsed her former aide this morning, as did former state Sen. Chris Marr, former Reps. Alex Wood, Jeff Gombosky, John Driscoll and Don Barlow, and most recent past county party chairpersons.

That's a pretty quick closing of the ranks, considering the seat became open less than a week ago, and at least two other candidates — Spokane businessman John Waite and Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder — have expressed interest in filing.

Filing week, by the way, begins Monday morning.

Roskelley edges McKenna among Bloomsday politicians

Among the elected leaders and politicians running for office, it should be no surprise that John Roskelley won the race.

Roskelley, a candidate for Spokane County Commission, had the best Bloomsday time among all elected Spokane and Spokane Valley city leaders; state House and state Senate candidates for districts within Spokane County; Spokane County commissioner candidates; and gubernatorial candidates.

Roskelley is, afterall, a world-renowned mountain climber.

Here is the list of local politicians (plus a governor hopeful) who completed Bloomsday:

  1. John Roskelley, D, candidate for Spokane County Commission, 0:59:00
  2. Rob McKenna, R, candidate for governor, 1:00:21
  3. Amber Waldref, Spokane city councilwoman, 1:07:52
  4. Marcus Riccelli, D, candidate for state House, 1:08:27
  5. Steve Salvatori, Spokane city councilman, 1:17:00
  6. Amy Biviano, D, candidate for state House, 1:17:16
  7. Dennis Dellwo, D, candidate for state House, 1:20:08
  8. Tom Towey, Spokane Valley mayor, 1:28:14
  9. Brenda Grassel, Spokane Valley city councilwoman, 2:13:47
  10. David Condon, Spokane mayor, 2:41:52
  11. Michael Baumgartner, R, state Senator and candidate for U.S. Senate, 2:47:31

Today’s fun video: SuperPACman

 

Spin Control returns after some light days with a fun video for your viewing enjoyment.

Why this video? you may ask.

Because Colbert “interviews” an old friend and colleague, Kim Barker of ProPublica, for part of the video. And, of course, because it's funny.

Republican, Tim Benn, enters field for Billig’s seat

A Republican has entered the expanding field of candidates to replace state Rep. Andy Billig.

Tim Benn, who co-owns a child day care with his wife in North Spokane, filed paperwork with the state Public Disclosure Commission announcing his run earlier this week, even before Billig announced he wouldn’t run for reelection so he could run for state Senate.

Democrats who have announced that they will run include Marcus Riccelli, Jon Snyder and John Waite.

Benn, 34, has been active this year in lobbying against proposed day care regulations that he says will drive small day cares out of business.

“I decided to run because I believe in small business and I believe in the people of the 3rd Legislative District,” he said. “We’re regulating small businesses out of out of business.”

Benn’s day care is called Little Precious Ones.

Critic of two-party system, John Waite, will run as Democrat

John Waite, who has run several campaigns for state Legislature and City Council as an independent, announced Friday that he will run for the House seat that will be vacated by Andy Billig.

And this time, he'll run as a Democrat.

Waite, 47, is fiscally conservative but socially liberal. He has been a outspoken critic of the two-party system.

He said Friday he's just being realistic by picking a party. He found that when he campaigned as an independent, Republicans assumed he was a Democrat and Democrats assumed he was a Republican.

“We live in a broken, two-party world,” he said. “I still bring an apolitical view to this — real world solutions, not party bickering.”

Waite, who owns two downtown buildings and Merlyn's Comics and Games, said he identifies more with the Democratic Party, which he believes is more realistic about the problems faced by the community.

Parker aide, Ben Oakley, announces bid for Ahern’s House seat

A third Republican candidate has entered the race to replace state Rep. John Ahern.

Ben Oakley, the legislative aide for state Rep. Kevin Parker, filed paperwork earlier this week announcing his bid with the state Public Disclosure Commission.

Oakley joins Republicans Larry Keller, the superintendent of the Cheney School District, and Spokane attorney Jeff Holy. Former state Rep. Dennis Dellwo, a Democrat, also is running. 

Ahern announced last month that he would not seek reelection for his 6th Legislative District seat.

Oakley, 29, worked for Parker's office for three years until he stepped down last week to run for the office.

Snyder hints at possible run against Riccelli for state House

Late this afternoon Spokane City Councilman Jon Snyder tweeted: 

“Dear friends: Tomorrow I will be making an announcement regarding Andy Billig's vacated 3rd District House seat. Stay tuned.”

He hasn't returned calls seeking comment, which means he's either running for Billig's seat, or playing a trick on folks like me and will announce that he's endorsing Marcus Riccelli, Lisa Brown's senior policy analyst who sent out a news release Thursday announcing that he is running for the seat.

In an political environment like the one created by Brown's surprise announcement this morning, there likely will be many rumors to chase down in the next couple weeks as folks scramble to put together support for a campaign before the May 18 filing deadline.

Spokane likely to lose influence with Brown’s departure

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Gregoire praises Brown

Even before Lisa Brown became state Senate majority leader, Spokane enjoyed influence in the state Legislature with Jim West, who served as majority leader until becoming Spokane's mayor in 2004.

Asked today if Spokane will lose power without Brown leading the Senate, Gov. Chris Gregoire was frank:

“I’d like to tell you no, but that would not be honest with you,” she said. “Lisa as majority leader has to fight for the entire state, but at no time did she ever fail to advocate not just her own district but all of Spokane — the greater Spokane. To her credit, she has brought home things that are exceedingly important.”

Gregoire called Brown's departure “a huge loss to Spokane.”

To hear more about Gregoire's thoughts about Brown, listen to the interview posted above.

Brown’s bombshell shakes up Democratic politics

State Rep. Andy Billig said this morning that he will be making an announcement today. Other sources are indicating that he will jump into the race for state Sen. Lisa Brown's seat.

Brown's decision, so close to the candidate filing deadline, has shocked many local Democrats.

Billig has been a rising star in local Democratic circles and was the only 3rd Legislative District legislator who hadn't attracted Republican competition. If he runs for the Senate, that opens new possibilities for his House seat.

Former state Sen. Chris Marr said today that a leading possibility for the seat is Marcus Riccelli. He had been pursuing a possible run in the 6th District until the boundaries changed and he ended up in the Third. Another possible candidate is former Spokane City Councilman Bob Apple, who unsuccessfully challenged Billig in 2010 and said recently he was pondering a run for Spokane County Commission.

Photo caption: Andy Billig, center, and his daughter Isabella, 10, right, celebrate early returns that show him leading in a 3rd state legislative race on Tuesday, Nov. 2, 2010 at Lincoln Center in Spokane, Wash. At left is Lisa Brown, the Democrat leader in the state senate.

Flag designer would be happy to see flag flying again

A few weeks ago I wrote a story about the reemergence of the City of Spokane's flag.

I heard soon after from the flag designer's son, who shed more light on the flag.

Here is his note:

I'm Lloyd Carlson's son, and it was a real treat to see the flag again after all these years. The history of the flag is actually somewhat more complex (perhaps you knew this but didn't have space) as the “Children of the Sun” logo was done by dad as the official seal of the City of Spokane in the 1960s — 1964-65 as I recall. I have the original artwork, along with the original Expo '74 logo master art in my collection of his designs.

The flag combined the city seal with the white, green and blue motif that had been made famous by the Expo “Mobius strip” logo. The STA (Spokane Transit Authority) adopted the same colors a bit later, which I believe are still in use. When I visit Spokane I see examples of logos he did half a century ago, still in use– not a bad legacy.

Dad was born in Spokane and lived there until 1986, when my parents moved to Portland to be near their grandchildren. In his retirement, he painted as a hobby, but still did the occasional logo design to keep his hand in. He passed away in July of 2009 at the age of 90. I know he would be so very pleased that the City of Spokane flag was flying again.

Best regards,

Steven B. Carlson

(Attached to this blog post of a letter Carlson wrote to Mayor Jack Geraghty about the logo he designed for Expo '74. Here is a link to photos of all three of the city's official flags, which were adopted in 1912, 1958 and Carlson's in 1975.)


Documents:

Citing his experience, Texas politician promises to avoid peeing on electric fences

The Inland Northwest has seen its share of off-beat, low-budget political TV ads, and anyone who's looked at the calendar lately should realize the new season of silliness is about to begin.

But it would be tough to top the campy, folksiness of Texas railroad politics, where candidate Roland Sledge has devised a rather memorable campaign theme: “Isn't it about time we elected political leaders that have sense enough not to pee on electric fences?”

Here, in all its shockingly plainspoken glory, is Sledge's latest TV spot:

Candidate filing opens later this month in Washington.

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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.

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