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Spin Control

Archive for September 2012

GOP comes to McLaughlin’s aid after campaign misstep

Nancy McLaughlin's campaign for state Senate greatly exaggerated her opponent's stance on income taxes.

So much so, that she apologized to Democrat Andy Billig for the falsehoods her campaign used in literature during the primary after a complaint was filed with the state's Public Disclosure Commission.

Even so, Republicans apparently aren't taking the issue off the table for the general election.

Earlier this month, the county Republican Party issued a press release attacking Billig for declining to rule out income taxes as part of some kind of tax reform.

It's not surprising that the issue has been raised again. After apologizing for the inaccuracies, McLaughlin expressed frustration because she said her campaign didn't need to use incorrect information for the income tax issue to attract voters. What is somewhat surprising is that it was the county party that highlighted the the issue, not McLaughlin's campaign.

Here are Billig's and McLaughlin's positions on income taxes as stated in their responses to a question in the Spokesman-Review's legislative candidate questionnaire:

Council will consider repeal of beer restrictions

The West Central Neighborhood Council wanted restrictions on the sale of high-octane beer and now it doesn’t.

But while council members used the council’s support as a reason to create a voluntary Alcohol Impact Area in West Central, the neighborhood’s change of heart won’t make an open-and-shut case when the Spokane City Council considers a repeal next month.

Spokane shrinks tax subsidy area

It will be harder next year to qualify for tax subsidies to build apartments and condos in Spokane.

The Spokane City Council on Monday reauthorized Spokane’s multifamily tax exemption for another five years. The decision significantly reduced the areas that will qualify for the subsidy and set lower limits to qualify for bonus exemptions when building affordable housing for rent.

Owners participating in the program paid $1.4 million less in property taxes this year because of the exemptions.

Under the program - first approved in 2000 and updated in 2007 - condo and apartment developers pay property taxes only on their land and the value of improvements before starting construction.

McMorris Rodgers backed national park at Hanford

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, on Thursday backed a proposal creating a national park at three sites central to the creation of atomic weapons, including Hanford.

The vote was bipartisan in its support and opposition. It failed 237-180. It needed supermajority support to move forward. The bill's sponsor was U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Washington.

You can read more about the proposal here.

Revenue prospects flat; political prospects high

OLYMPIA — Washington's revenue forecast was up just slightly for the rest of this biennium, and through the next two-year budget cycle, a state panel was told this afternoon.

On the upside, construction is improving and employment should slowly rise, although it won't get back to pre-recession levels until sometime in 2014. On the downside, manufacturing is off a bit and so are exports except for airplanes, state economist Steven Lerch told the Economic and Revenue Forecast Council.

Bottom line, the state can expect to collect $30.469 billion for 2011-13, which is up about $29 million from last June's forecast; it can expect to collect $32.649 billion for 2013-15, up about $22 million from that previous forecast. It can expect $35.5 billion in 2015-17, the first time forecasters have looked out that far.

The biggest risks — economic slow down in China, problems in the Eurozone and the federal government's willingness to consider across-the-board cuts — are all outside the state, Treasurer Jim McIntire said.

In recent years, some forecasts have been so bad that they prompted calls for special sessions of the Legislature and calls for deep cuts or new taxes. This time, legislators on the council were willing to wait until January, and the regularly scheduled session that will follow the election.

There's still a shortfall of about $1 billion the next Legislature will need to close, Lerch said. Or about $500 million if it uses up the reserve funds.

It's clear the economy isn't going to grow fast enough to provide revenue needed for things like education improvements being ordered by the state Supreme Court, Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle and the chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee said.

But the Legislature can look at the next forecast, due out in November, and look for some adjustments through the end of June that would add to the reserves, Rep. Ed Orcutt, R-Kalama, the chairman of the council said.

Sen. Dino Rossi, R-Sammamish, who was recently appointed to the Legislature and the council to fill vacancies, said the biggest problem with the economy is that Washington needs to become “a business-friendly state” to attract businesses and jobs.

“Many of the problems in the budget are self-inflicted,” said Rossi, who chaired the Ways and Means Committee during his previous tenure. Medicaid will be a big drain in a few years because Democrats “have swallowed Obamacare hook, line and sinker.”

Murray defended the current budget, which he helped author. All budget writers face the same problems and wrestle with the same tough choices, he added: “It's unfortunate this forum is degenerating into a campaign forum.”

“Facts are stubborn things,” replied Rossi.

“So is history,” countered Murray.

Obama on Letterman, Romney in USA Today

The pre-debate debate continues:

President Obama on Letterman last night talked about Mitt Romney's “47 percent” comments.


Romney, in a guest column in USA Today, criticized Obama's policies as creating dependency. Read the column here.

Not sure what all this is about? See the original post here.

Read the police reports that led to Shea’s gun charge

Not shockingly, the Democrat challenging state Rep. Matt Shea's reelection bid made it extremely clear this week that she will highlight Shea's charge for carrying a loaded weapon in his pickup without a concealed weapons permit in the fall campaign. 

Amy Biviano's campaign mailed ads to voters this week that include the bold, red, all-caps headline: “lawmakers should not be law breakers.”

Both sides have at times misrepresented what's in the police reports about the road rage incident, so we present the police report, as provided to The Spokesman-Review through a public records request.


Gregoire extends fire emergency

OLYMPIA — Gov. Chris Gregoire is extending the fire emergency for all counties east of the Cascade Crest, which means the Washington National Guard will continue to help fighting wildfires and the burn ban stays in effect until at least next Monday at midnight.

Gregoire announced the extension while touring the town of Liberty and visiting with evacuees from fires in Kittitas County. The First Creek Fire was burning about four miles outside of town.

The burn ban means no outdoor burning in those East Side counties. That includes camp fires, bonfires, residential trash or brush cleanup fires, as well as no fireworks of any kind.

Gas stoves are permitted, as are charcoal grills at homes provided the stoves or barbecues are set up on nonflammabe surfaces and kept at least five feet away from flammable materials like dried vegetation.

Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark said with no rain in sight, the state is “in for a long haul.”

Today’s video: Romney’s 47% comment, and his response

In case you're wondering what exactly GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney said at a fundraiser in May about Barack Obama's supporters, here is the video clip, courtesy of Mother Jones:


Here is his explanation Monday night of how he could've used better words in his “off the cuff remarks”, but sticks by the message.


Feel free to weigh in, in the comments section.

Answer to Constitution Day question

The marker commemorating the Bicentennial of the Constitution, which would have been in Sept. 17, 1987, can be found on the northwest side of the Thomas S. Foley U.S. Courthouse in downtown Spokane, Main and Riverside.

It's across the street from the big statue of Lincoln, so it often gets overlooked.

Today’s fun video: SNL’s new Obama


It's only 50 days to election, which means there are about 47 days for Saturday Night Live to find good political material for their opening sketches.


They've got a new Obama this year in Jay Pharoah — Fred Armisen did a good handoff — but Jason Sudeikis returns as Mitt Romney.

Happy Constitution Day

It's Constitution Day.,  Did you remember to send a card or flowers to your favorite Amendment?

We celebrate the nation's charter because this is the day Constitutional Convention signed the document. This is the 225 anniversary of that vote in 1787. Unfortunately, there's no special gift like diamond or platinum for the 225th. Not one of those good Latin terms, either, like Dodransbicentennial, which is 175 years, or Sestercentennial, which is 250.

While some might argue that the Constitution should be celebrated on the day it became law, that's a bit more complicated because the states ratified it on different days. Would it be when the first state ratified? That'd be Dec. 7, 1787, the day Delaware voted yes.

Or would it be when the ninth state — which was the tipping point among the 13 states for establishing the Constitution as law of the land? That would be June 21, 1788, when New Hampshire voted yes.

Or would it be when the 13th state ratified? That would be May 29, 1790, when Rhode Island ratified — which, by the way, was more than a year after the first Congress was seated and George Washington was inaugurated as president — on a 34-32 vote at that state's convention. (The route the Founding Fathers took to their more perfect union was not exactly straight and smooth.)

In any event, this is Constitution Day. It's also known as Citizenship Day, in honor of people who have come to the United States and become citizens. Find an appropriate way to celebrate.

Spokane trivia quiz: Where is the marker in Spokane to commemorate the bicentennial of the signing of the Constitution?

Answer later today.

1 U.S. Senate debate set

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell will debate her Republican challenger, state Sen. Mike Baumgartner, at least once this fall.

The Cantwell campaign announced it has agreed to an Oct. 12 debate in Seattle at KCTS, the public television station. It will be taped, and shown on other public television stations around the state. The station and the League of Women Voters of Seattle, which are co-sponsoring the debate, will each provide a moderator.

Up to this point, the Cantwell campaign had been, to say the least, noncommittal about debates. She'd do some unspecified number, at some unspecified time, her spokesman said last month.

This, of course, has frustrated the Baumgartner campaign, whose candidate once proposed a debate in each of Washington's 39 counties, but later pared down the challenge to 10, spread around the state.

The Cantwell campaign remains noncommittal about more debates, saying in the announcement press release it “continues to review a number of outstanding invitation” but insists it is happy to fit the Seattle debate into her busy schedule.

“While Senator Cantwell's  focus remains squarely on fighting to pass legislation like the Veterans Job Corps Act and an extension of the sales tax deduction, she looks forward to discussing her record of tireless advocacy for Washington jobs, from apples to aerospace, along with her vision ot grow jobs and boost Washington exports in the future,” spokesman Kelly Steele said.

Baumgartner has something else in mind besides some salutory comments about Cantwell's “tireless advocacy.”  Responding to the fact that she had finally “conceded that she has a responsibility to Washington's voters” to debate, he suggested in a press release the debate start on another area: foreign policy.

“She needs to explain her record in the Middle East and her support of the war in Afghanistan,” he said.

Baumgartner is still pushing for more debates, but with days falling off the calendar toward the Election, he's winnowed it down to a total of three: one in Spokane and one in Southwest Washington to go with the Seattle debate.

Fire emergency declared

OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire is activating some National Guard units to help fight fires in Eastern Washington in what she labeled “one of the worst fire situations I can recall” during her tenure.

The activation order is part of an emergency proclamation Gregoire signed Thursday. It calls for air support from the Guard to help fight fires;, directs state agencies to do “everything reasonably possible” to help cities, towns and counties respond to fires and recover from them; and calls on the state Emergency Operations Center to coordinate all efforts.

As of late Thursday, fires were threatening more than 500 homes and prompted numerous evacuations, Gregoire said in the emergency proclamation, and resources throughout the state are limited because of firefighting efforts throughout the region.


Today’s fun video: Biden messes up his WSUs

Vice President Joe Biden named the wrong WSU in a speech recently.

No, not our WSU. But who knew there were so many of them?

Crowd was quick to correct him.

Today’s fun video: Music in Lt Gov race

OLYMPIA — The lieutenant governor's race doesn't garner anywhere near the attention of the state's top executive spot.

While many people can't name their current lieutenant governor without a hint or two, it's rare for an incumbent to get ousted.

Facing that challenge in his run against Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, Republican Bill Finkbeiner decided to set his campaign peregrinations to music, tapping some musician friends, rewriting the lyrics to “I've Been Everywhere”, and using shots of him standing in front of signs or icons for cities and towns around Washington. (Spokane's near the end.) It won't make you forget the Johnny Cash version, but it is entertaining.

This could start an interesting trend, because Owen himself is part of a musical group. Maybe he could record and post up his own music video, and t0he lieutenant governor's race could double as a a Battle of the Bands.

What if Straub doesn’t get commissioned?

If the Washington State Criminal Justice Training Commission today doesn’t grant the new leader of the Spokane Police Department’s request to waive a requirement to join the state police academy, it’s unclear if the city will bother making him the chief.

City officials are confident that the commission will allow Spokane’s new director of law enforcement, Frank Straub, to become a commissioned officer without having to take the usual five-month training required to earn the status based on his 28-years of experience in law enforcement.

“The City of Spokane believes that Mr. Straub has the background, training and expertise to lead the Spokane Poice Department and to quickly become an asset to our community,” said a letter signed by Mayor David Condon to the training commission. (The full letter and Straub's resume are attached to this post.)


9/11 remembrances

Flag placed in a name of a victim of the 9/11 attacks at the Ground Zero memorial in New York.

Sept. 11 is traditionally a day for politicians to reflect on their thoughts and remembrances of that day in 2001.

Today was no different. Inside the blog are some comments from local office holders about the day. You can read them by clicking here.

WA can’t use Homeland Security records to check voter lists

OLYMPIA — Washington can't use immigrant registration records from the U.S. Homeland Security Department to verify names on its voter rolls, state elections officials said today.

The reason: The state doesn't have a system that requires proof of legal residence before issuing a driver's license, which is necessary to use the federal system.

Secretary of State Sam Reed requested access to the federal system in July as a way of checking the accuracy of the state's voter rolls. But to use the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program, which is designed to determine whether a person qualifies for different social and medical programs, the state would need to issue some sort of identification card that checks for legal immigration status.

The state doesn't check for legal residency when issuing driver's license or an official ID card. Several proposals in recent legislative sessions have been died after critics said it would prevent drivers who are in the country illegally from proving they can drive by taking the driver's test, and obtaining insurance.

Reed said he was disappointed the state can't use the federal system to check its voter rolls and is dropping the effort for the 2012 election. He urged the Legislature to require applicants for a driver's license of ID card to show proof of legal residency.

Among those critical of the plan was the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, which met with state elections officials this summer in an effort to get them to drop the plan. Shankar Naryan of the ACLU, said today Reed made the right decision in dropping plans to try to find illegal immigrants on the voter rolls.

“It's a solution in search of a problem,” Naryan said. “I'm not aware of anyone convicted of voting as a non-citizen in Washington.”

Illegal immigrants are unlikely to risk voting illegally, he said. It's a felony, and if they are caught, they'd be jailed or deported. State elections officials should spend money instead on making sure people who are eligible register and vote.

Reed said the state is dedicated to keeping illegal people off the rolls and registering people who are legal.

New police leader will live within city limits

Spokane's new director of law enforcement will start his job in Spokane on Oct. 1.

Frank Straub, the former director of public safety for the city of Indianapolis, was hired by the Spokane City Council in a 6-0 vote Monday night. He will appear at a press conference this afternoon in Spokane.

Straub said Monday night that he has made an offer, which was accepted, on a home on the South Hill. He hopes he and his fiance can move in by Nov. 1.

Condon pays to fly four to Spokane to back Straub

Tired of hearing negative things about the man he selected to be police chief, Mayor David Condon and his top administrator personally paid to fly four Indiana residents to Spokane to vouch for him.

The four, including the former editor of the Indianapolis Star and the leader of the Indianapolis fire union, told the Spokane City Council on Monday night that Condon’s pick, Frank Straub, is a hard-working, caring reformer who listens to the community. Straub last month left his job as Indianapolis’ public safety director after a controversial two-year tenure.

After the four Hoosiers and 10 others testified, the council appointed Straub as Spokane’s new director of law enforcement in a 6-0 vote. (Councilman Steve Salvatori was absent.)

Is it better to have more presidential candidates, or fewer?

Possible bragging rights for Washington over Idaho: We have more presidential candidates on our ballot than you have.

Possible bragging rights for Idaho over Washington: We have fewer presidential candidates hardly anyone's  ever heard of on our ballot than you.

As colleague Betsy Russell reports over on Eye on Boise, the Idaho presidential ballot is set: 
Democrat Barack Obama and Republican Mitt Romney, of course, plus Libertarian Gary Johnson, Constitution Party's Virgil Goode and independents Rocky Anderson and Jill Stein.

Washington's ballot, which was set about a month ago lists all six, although it identifies Anderson as being with the Justice Party and Stein with Green Party. Washington also has Peta Lindsay of the Socialism and Liberation Party and James Harris of the Socialist Workers Party.  For more on the third party candidates on the Washington ballot, click here.

Baumgartner baby born

State Sen. Mike Baumgartner took time off from the campaign trail Monday for the birth of his second child. His wife Eleanor delivered a boy, just before 11 a.m. in Spokane.

Roman Otway Leo Baumgartner weighed in at 6 pounds 10 ounces, the campaign said. Baby and mother are said to be doing fine.

Candidate forum Tuesday evening

The Riverside Neighborhood Council hosts a candidate forum starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday at the Downtown Spokane Library.

The schedule is set up to give voters a chance to meet candidates before the forum, and to ask them questions during it.

Confirmed for the forum, Neighborhood Council Chairman Gary Pollard says, are; Congressional candidate Rich Cowan; 3rd District Senate candidates Nancy McLaughlin and Andy Billig; 3rd District House candidates Dave White and Timm Ormsby, and Marcus Riccelli and Tim Benn; and county commission candidate John Roskelley. A few others apparently are “Maybes”, having told the council they would try to make it but not committing.

Liquor sales up in July

OLYMPIA — After dropping during the first month of private liquor sales, the amount of liquor sold and the taxes the state got for it went up in July.

The state Revenue Department said sales were up about 15 percent this July compared with July 2011, and sales for the second quarter of this year are up about 11 percent over last.

Liquor sales took a big jump in May as the deadline imposed by Initiative 1183 for switching from the state monopoly to private sales approached. Bars and restaurants in particular stocked up against the coming change.

Sales dropped about 9 percent in June, the first month the law  took effect, compared to the previous June.

In all, Washington consumers bought 10.6 million liters of spirits for the second quarter, an increase of about 1.2 million liters. (For folks who don't do “metric”, that's about 2.8 million gallons total and an increase of about 317,000 gallons.)

The state also collected $68 million in taxes and fees on liquor, an increase of about 15 percent. Prices were higher in July than in pre I-1183 days, but they did come down sligthly from June.

It's too soon to tell what kind of trend we're developing, the Revenue Department said.

Big surprise: Obama endorses Inslee

Democrat Jay Inslee's gubernatorial campaign is all aglow today with President Barack Obama's endorsement of their guy.

Wait a minute. Hasn't Obama been a fan of Inslee's all along. Didn't he wish him well last spring in marking Inslee's departure from Congress to campaign full-time? Didn't he say nice things about Inslee during his May stop at the Paramount Theater in Seattle? 

Yes, but -

“He's been supportive but hasn't officially endorsed,” Inslee campaign spokeswoman Jaime Smith said. “Obama is a very popular figure here, so obviously we're excited to use this.”

The most recent statewide poll we could find, which was the SurveyUSA poll from the beginning of August, had Obama over Romney 54 percent to 37 percent.

In ticket-splitting Washington, some of that popularity might not carry down the ballot into the governor's race. In 2008, Obama beat John McCain by 17 points, but incumbent Gov. Chris Gregoire beat Republican Dino Rossi by 6.5 points. In 2004, John Kerry beat President George W. Bush by 7 points, but Gregoire beat Rossi by .0047 points, after two recounts and a court case.

Ryan in WA today, Clinton on Saturday

Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan will be in the Seattle area later today for two fund-raisers. The Wisconsin Congressman is attending an evening reception, where tickets start at $1,000, followed by a separate dinner, tickets $25,000.

Those events aren't open to the public or the news media. The only chance for the cameras to catch him is this afternoon when he lands at Boeing Field. With this schedule, Ryan appears to be taking a cue from the Obama playbook, which often uses the Seattle area as a campaign ATM with private fund-raisers and little or no public events.

No public events makes it hard to mount a “spontaneous” demonstration by the other party, so Democrats are settling for a “rapid response” telephonic press conference with several people who will likely excoriate Ryan on his proposed changes to Medicare. It's actually a pre-response, because it's scheduled to happen a couple hours before the veep nominee gets to town.

On Saturday, former President Bill Clinton will be in Seattle for a fund-raiser for Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee at the Convention Center. Tickets start at $150; getting a photo with the former POTUS costs $5,000.

Clinton is apparently a draw, even before his convention speech last week.. An Inslee spokeswoman said they've had to expand the space reserved for the fund-raiser after selling more than 2,000 tickets.

Sunday Spin: McLaughlin criticized for lifted words

One of the first things a candidate does these days, after announcing he or she wants to do good things for the good people of this good community, is get a website.
While any campaign website worth its salt must offer a chance to become a fan on Facebook, follow me on Twitter, on contribute via PayPal, the main purpose is to give voters something about the candidate’s background (Click here for BIO) and ideas (Click here for Issues).
But when voters read a candidates websites, or an e-mail or a campaign letter, for that matter, should they expect the candidate wrote it? Or that the candidate read and approved it? Or that the candidate is simply responsible for it?
These are the questions facing Republican state Senate candidate Nancy McLaughlin, as a Democratic group takes issue with her website’s issues page, as well as some other campaign material…


Baumgartner schedules ‘Empty chair’ debate



Some people think Clint Eastwood's 12-minute schtick with an empty chair at last week's Republican National Convention was great theater. Others think it was bizarro sad.

Your opinion may depend on your political leanings.

Republican Mike Baumgartner, the state senator from Spokane hoping to  unseat U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, is apparently a fan. So much so that his campaign is staging its own Eastwood moment on Friday, announcing that Baumgartner will debate an empty chair at  the Spokane Republicans Breakfast Club.

Baumgartner has been frustrated for months at Cantwell's refusal to commit to debates. At one point, he proposed one debate per county, which would be 39; he has since lowered the number to 10. Last week, her campaign said they would debate, but declined to say when, where or how many times.

So at 7 a.m. Friday at the Riverview Thai Restaurant, 1003 E. Trent, he will debate an empty chair, the campaign announced this morning.

“Participating in a debate during an election campaign is a civic duty of a public servant. It is admirable this empty chair is willing to serve the voters of Washington so graciously and without hesitation,” Baumgartner said in a press release.

This strategy is not without risks, of course. Suppose, for example, the empty chair were to win the debate?

Lisa Brown in Azerbaijan

Map courtesy of

Lisa Brown is able to do a bit of travelling these days because she doesn't have to worry about a re-election campaign. So does she go to Disneyland, Hawaii, Cabo, or even Charlotte for the Democratic National Convention?

No. She goes to Azerbaijan.

This week, Brown is in the west Asian country that borders on the Caspian Sea to speak and answer questions at a women's leadership conference sponsored by the United Nations Democracy Fund in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. It's part of a two-year project by two other groups, Bridge to the Future and Young Leaders, to increase the number of women in government and other civic organizations. 

The Senate majority leader from Spokane, who is retiring at the end of the year, is scheduled to talk about her experiences in the Legislature and important characteristics of women leaders in the United States and Azerbaijan, a press release from the sponsors said.

Brown is also being sponsored by the U.S. Embassy to visit three other cities, Gyandzha, Yevlakh and Kazhakh to speak and meet with young volunteers. Brad Kessler, a former Spokane resident now in the Peace Corps and helping to organize the trip with Bridge to the Future, said she'll be the first Embassy-sponsored visitor to the last two cities.

For those unfamiliar with Azerbaijan (which is to say, most of us) it's a former Soviet republic, slightly smaller than Maine, north of Iran, south of Russia,  and east of Georgia and Armenia. It has about 10 million people, most of them Muslim.

Murray: Keep Senate Democratic, too

While voting to re-elect Barack Obama, please help keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, Patty Murray asked delegates to the Democratic National Convention.

Murray, Washington's senior senator who also leads the organization dedicated to electing Democrats to that chamber, got an early evening speaking slot to boost Obama, knock GOP nominee Mitt Romney and make a pitch for a Democratic Congress.

She reiterated the Democrats line of the night, that Obama believes in “an economy that's built from the middle out, not from the top down.” That Republican proposals could turn Medicare into a voucher system, repeal health care reforms and take away abortion rights.

“To them, every problem is a nail and the onlly hammer they have is cutting taxes for millionaires and billionaires,” she said. “With a Republican Congress riding shotgun, Mitt Romney will put the middle class on the roof and take our country on a long ride.”   

'About an hour after her speech, the Republican National Committee issued a statement that Democrats were resorting to “false attacks to distract from their abysmal record” that includes high debt and employment above 8 percent for 42 months. “Nothing the Democrats can say will change the fact that voters know they are not better off after four years of failed policies and leadership,” Ted Kwong, a GOP spokesman, said.

Democratic convention: Murray to speak this afternoon

Sen. Patty Murray has a pre-prime time speaking role at the Democratic National Convention today.

Washington's senior senator will be the third scheduled speaker in the block of speakers on tap from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Pacific Time.

Convention schedule says it will be AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, Rep. Steve Israel of New York, then Murray. She'll be followed by Rep. Pedro Pierluisi and a video on Energy.

Democrats plan Obama watch

Loyal Washington Democrats who didn't get to go to Charlotte for their National Convention, but are dying to watch President Obama accept the nomination and make a speech Thursday, are planning parties around the state to make it a shared experience anyway.

Some will have special guests, like Gov. Chris Gregoire, who will be at a Seattle pizza parlor with U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott.

In Spokane, the setting is more business-like. They'll meet at the party Field Office, 239 W. Main, at 6 p.m. Congressional candidate Rich Cowan will be the special guest.

Boiling down the 2012 ballot

OLYMPIA — The Nov. 6 ballot will be long on measures and well-populated by candidates for everything from president to state legislator.

The Washington Secretary of State's office has produced a summary that could be considered the Cliff Notes version of a Reader's Digest take. It fits on a little more than one page, with some important dates and websites to fill out the rest of a two-sided sheet of paper.

We submit it for your perusal.


Parker gets honorary gig on McMorris Rodgers’ campaign

State Rep. Kevin Parker has plenty of time on his hands, politically speaking.

The Republican from Spokane's 6th District doesn't have an opponent in this year's election. So over the weekend, he signed on as honorary chairman of Cathy McMorris Rodgers' congressional re-election campaign.

According to the press release, she is pleased and he is honored. She wants him to help her campaign “move forward”. He wants to make sure the campaign stays in touch with voters while she's back in that other Washington.

The press release also contains some bio information on Parker, such as his co-ownership of coffee shops, serving as a leadership instructor at Fairchild Air Force Base and adjunct business prof at Whitworth University.

He was also “honorary commander for Fairchild” last year, it notes. We're guessing as honorary commander of the base, Parker didn't get to order launches of any of the planes. Perhaps this honorary gig will be more action-packed.

McKenna: Charter schools ‘clearly’ constitutional

OLYMPIA — Charter schools would be constitutional in Washington state under the system proposed by this year's ballot initiative, Attorney general and wouldbe governor Rob McKenna said Tuesday.

Answering questions about charter schools during a weekly press conference, which he supports, McKenna dismissed any concerns that the separately established schools would be unconstitutional.

“It clearly is (constitutional) because the schools are public charter schools,” he said. “They are public schools so they are constitutional.”

It wouldn't matter that the commission that would oversee charter operations statewide is appointed, while public school boards are elected, he said. Public universities' boards of regents and trustees are appointed, too, he said.

His Democratic opponent, former U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee, has said he opposes charter schools for fear they'd draw limited funds out of the public schools, and will instead expand other innovative programs in schools.

McKenna made his comments during a telephonic press conference that was marked by technological glitches. The candidate and his staff were dialed in to one line, waiting for reporters to call in with questions, for about 15 minutes while reporters were dialed into a separate line, waiting for word that McKenna was present and ready for questions.

On a separate topic, McKenna said he would not “categorically” reject any expansion of Medicaid that's available under the Affordable Care Act, as some Republican governors already in office have vowed to do. But he is concerned that some people who would qualify for Medicaid under the expanded income limits of the act could drop private coverage they now have and apply for government assisted health care, increasing the costs to the state. He also wants to see what the state can afford, how flexible the plans are, he said.

Gov candidates playing up endorsements

OLYMPIA — Washington's gubernatorial candidates are playing the “look who's endorsing me” game today.

Republican Rob McKenna has an afternoon press conference to announce the latest round of “Democrats for McKenna” names at a Seattle cafe. One can only hope it goes smoother than the campaign's morning telephonic press conference, for which reporters were on one line for about 15 minutes with no McKenna, and the candidate and his staff were on the a different line, with no reporters.

Democrat Jay Inslee's campaign put out a “Rob endorses Jay” announcement. But it's not THAT Rob. Rather, it's Rob Hill, another Democrat who ran for governor in last month's primary. He got 3.22 percent of the vote. On Wednesday, Inslee has a press conference with folks from the clean technology at a Seattle bio-diesel facility. 

Judge’s ruling on Obama ballot challenge

OLYMPIA — Here's Thurston County Superior Court Judge Thomas McPhee's ruling on the challenge to Barack Obama's eligibility to be on the ballot that's mentioned in Sunday's Spin Control column.


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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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