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Spin Control

Archive for July 2014

Gregoire gets Harvard fellowship

OLYMPIA — Former Gov. Chris Gregoire will be going to Harvard University in a program designed to inspire undergraduates to seek jobs in government and public service.

Gregoire will be one of six resident fellows at the John F. Kennedy School of Government for the fall semester. As part of that program, she will interact with students, developing and leading weekly study groups.

The fellows come from a range of government, political, campaign, media and business backgrounds. Gregoire served two terms as Washington governor, three terms as its attorney general and was also director of the Department of Ecology.

Sit-lie protest draws few

Only two people actually sat at today's protest against Spokane's sit-lie ordinance, though one was in a wheelchair. The only other two protesters stood outside downtown's Spokane Regional Business Center to talk about why they believed the law targets the homeless.

The law in question, which has been in place for less than a year, makes it illegal to sit or lie downtown most hours of the day. Sitting on fixtures or planters is also illegal. 

“I think it's unfair,” said Mara Spitzer, 54, who has been in a wheelchair for a few weeks due to a broken foot. “They just don't want a certain looking population downtown.”

Rick Bocook, 57, a downtown fixture himself known as “Harpman Hatter,” has dealt with the shifting laws downtown for years, not just as a homeless advocate, but also as a street musician.

“They say (the sit-lie ordinance) doesn't target the homeless, but it does,” Bocook said.

As the protesters mingled in the shade, two police officers on bicycles rode by on the sidewalk and gave them a word of advice.

“Try to stay hydrated, guys,” one cop said. 

Despite such niceties, Hans Crawford, 42, said he's seen the homeless mistreated by officers for violating the law. One particular incident, he said, involved three squad cars and a man in a wheelchair.

“They were just screaming at him,” Crawford said. “I guarantee you if he was wearing a three-piece suit, they wouldn't have bothered him.” 

The protests are scheduled to take place every week, but one of the organizers said they're not always attended by just four people.

“Sometimes there's just one or two of us,” said Rebennah Black, 39. “Sometimes there are 20.”

Chud Wendle joins McMorris Rodgers’ local staff

Spokane-native Chud Wendle has joined Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers' local office as district director, the congresswoman announced this week.

“I was intrigued from day one, by the challenges and opportunities this job would present,” Wendle said.

A member of the Wendle family that owns several area car dealerships, Chud Wendle was named McMorris Rodgers' district director and will be working out of her office in downtown Spokane. Wendle has spent the past six years in Pullman, where he worked in real estate and ran a frozen yogurt and cupcake shop with his wife, Cindy.

Wendle said his job description includes being the “eyes and ears” for the congresswoman in the district. He will handle legislative matters, though he will be available to assist with McMorris Rodgers' re-election campaign. She faces challengers Joe Pakootas and Dave Wilson in the primary concluding next week.

The congresswoman approached Wendle to direct her district office, he said, about the time his wife took a new position in Spokane. They return to the Lilac City with their three sons: Ben, Nick and Jack. Wendle said his family is excited to return to Spokane, where he was born and raised.

In a statement announcing the hire, McMorris Rodgers praised Wendle's ties to the community and nonprofit work.

“Chud brings over a decade of experience and involvement in Eastern Washington, having worked with numerous local non-profit organizations, including Goodwill Industries and United Way of both Pullman and Spokane,” McMorris Rodgers said in the statement.

Wendle said he was pleased to be working for McMorris Rodgers.

“I’ve always respected the work that the congresswoman does,” he said

Nazi comments continue to provide ammo to I-594 debate

A suggestion by an NRA spokesman that Jews should oppose gun control because of what happened in Nazi Germany has added new ammunition to the debate over two competing measures on the November ballot.

The Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and others on Tuesday called for the resignation of NRA state lobbyist Brian Judy, who said recently he couldn't understand why Jews would support gun control, a policy instituted by the Nazis.

Judy reportedly was telling a group of gun rights advocates he couldn’t understand the support for Initiative 594 by a major donor whose family he said was “run out of Germany by the Nazis”. . . 

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

Today’s fun video: Reason rebuts on minimum wage

 

Didn't take long for the anti-minimum wage folks to counter with a video of their own to Funny or Die's Mary Poppins parody.

Decide for yourself which you like better in terms of economic philosophy and artistic presentation.

Bringing Nazis into the WA gun debate

It's almost always a bad idea to make a reference to Nazis in any contemporary American political debate because it shifts the focus away from the issue at hand and onto the rightness or wrongness of the analogy.

That's what's happening for opponents of Initiative 594, which would expand background checks for most gun sales and transfers, after a comment by a National Rifle Association spokesman.

Steve Judy, an NRA lobbyist, was recorded offering his views of why some people push for more gun control, and why he believes they should know better. As first reported on Horsesass.org, a Seattle political blog, he started with the super rich, opining that they want to know where the guns are so that the poor can be disarmed before the rise up against them. He was rifting on a column in Politico, a national political website, by Nick Hanauer, who was actually talking about what was going to happen to the super-rich (himself included) if they don't do something to correct the growing gap between the rich and poor.

Hanauer was talking about the poor coming for the rich with pitchforks, but Judy said the reason the rich support gun control is so that the poor won't have guns. But then Judy veered into the fact that Hanauer's family emigrated from Germany to escape the Nazis, and said he was dumbfounded Hanauer would give money to gun control. . .

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

 

Today’s fun video: Mary Poppins wants a raise

 

Mary Poppins Quits with Kristen Bell from Funny Or Die

Funny or Die's video shows how Mary Poppins would come out in support of a  higher minimum wage.

Last call for voter registration

Today (July 28) is the last day to sign up to vote in the primary for eligible Washington residents who aren’t yet registered.

Who’s eligible? You’ll have to be 18 by Aug. 5, an American citizen, and not someone whose voting rights have been revoked for something like a felony conviction and not later restored.

You have to go to your county elections office to sign up in person. Can’t sign up a spouse, significant other or friend. For Spokane residents, that’s at 1033 W. Gardner between 8:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Sunday Spin: What will primary turnout be?

OLYMPIA – With Washington’s primary a mere 10 days away, the big question – after who’ll survive and go to the general election, of course – is how many voters will bother to cast ballots.

It’s a common question around the country, as a recent study shows primary turnout is down in most states from 2010, the last mid-term primaries.

A recent report from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate says turnout is down even in states that took steps to make it easier to vote by offering such things as election day registration or early voting. This must confound voting-reform advocates who believe the only thing needed to do to promote more frequent and fervent voting is to make it easier, as if voters are being deterred from casting a ballot because they must turn over their first-born child to register and walk two miles in the snow, uphill both ways, to the polling place on election day. . . 

Eastern WA burn ban extended

OLYMPIA — The ban on most outdoor and agricultural burning in 20 Eastern Washington counties was extended for another week.

The ban, ordered last week by Gov. Jay Inslee, was set to expire at noon today. But with wildfires still burning east of the Cascades, Inslee extended it through Aug. 1.

“While fire crews  have made significant progress over the past week in bringing the fires under control, weather conditions are still a concern and we need to continue erring on the side of safety,” Inslee said in a press release announcing the extension.

The ban includes, but isn't limited to:

Campfires
Bonfires
Yard debris or trash burning, land clearing, weed abatement
Agricultural burning
 Fireworks.

Court: Public records trump renters’ concerns

OLYMPIA – Renters who have been wrongly sued by their landlords can't have their names hidden in court records to prevent possible problems with finding future housing, the state Supreme Court said Thursday.

Public interest in the judicial system outweighs renters' rights to privacy, a slim majority of the court said. A dissenting justice said the majority was ruling from an “ivory tower” in a way that favors court records over the prospect of a family’s homelessness. . . 

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

Today’s video: Murray talks about WA fires on Senate floor

 

Sen. Patty Murray tells the Senate some of the details of the wildfires in Central and Eastern Washington, makes pitch for emergency aid to move through.

 

Spokane County turnout nudges past 10%

Slightly more than 30,000 ballots for the Aug. 5 primary have been returned to the Spokane County elections office.

That pushes turnout — or turn in, to be more precise — to about 10.5 percent countywide. County Elections Manager Mike McLaughlin said the county is on track for the predicted turnout of between 35 percent and 40 percent total.

The four-way primary in the 5th Congressional District and a three-way primary for a 4th Legislative District House seat are drawing interest, McLaughlin said. The 6th Legislative District Senate race is also getting attention, even though it has only two candidates so both will advance to the general.

As usual, the mailbags were heavy on Monday, after the first weekend ballots had been in homes after they were mailed out the middle of last week. That's often the heaviest day for ballot returns until the Monday before the election.  People who know who they plan to vote for (or against) in all races tend to mark their ballots and drop them in the mail, as do folks who plan to be gone at some point between now and the election and don't want to forget. 

Unlike primaries in some odd-numbered years which can be hit or miss for having enough candidates for some municipal elections, all voters in the state get a ballot this year because of primaries for federal and state elections. Most of those offices are partisan. But under the state's primary system, the candidate with the most and second-most votes advance to the general, regardless of party. 

Primary turnout in even-year elections typically is near or above 40 percent, McLaughlin said. One exception was 2002, which like this year had no primaries for statewide offices or a U.S. Senate seat and had a turnout of 36 percent.

Ballots must be marked, placed in the provided envelopes which must be appropriately signed, and deposited at a drop box by 8 p.m. Aug. 5 or mailed with proper postage so they are postmarked by that date. 

Spokane County drop boxes can be found at public libraries. For a list of addresses, click here to go inside the blog.

Election junkies who want to follow the turnout statistics can click here and call up the latest PDF under Statistics.

Used practice targets left at League office

The League of Women Voters of Washington wants supporters of a gun-rights initiative to denounce the unknown group that left used targets at or near their office.

But supporters of Initiative 591 called the incidents a “propaganda stunt” the good government group is milking to get money for a rival ballot measure, I-594. . . 

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

Believe it or not: Support for conspiracy theories

About a third of American adults believe the JFK assassination was pulled off by a conspiracy, a new survey suggests. About the same number say he was the victim of a lone gunman.

Rasmussen Reports surveyed more than 1,000 Americans on some of the most common conspiracy theories. It found that 32 percent believe more than one shooter was involved in John F. Kennedy's assassination, which was slightly less than the 37 percent who said he was a victim of a larger conspiracy when a similar survey was conducted in November around the 50th anniversary of the event.

Other conspiracy ratings:

Almost one in four believe the government new about the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks before hand and did nothing to stop them.

About the same number say Obama is not an American citizen. (That goes to two out of five for Republicans surveyed.)

One in five believe a UFO with aliens crashed near Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947.

About one in seven (14 percent) say the U.S. faked the moon landing in 1969.

Almost the same number (13 percent) say the British Royal Family had Princess Di killed.

Disbelief was high, however, that Paul McCartney was killed and replaced by someone else in the Beatles. Only 3 percent believe the Walrus is Paul. (Oblique reference explained inside the blog.)

Obama signs emergency declaration for fires

President Barack Obama signed an emergency declaration this morning that offers federal aid to Central Washington areas hard hit by wildfires.

It authorizes the Federal Emergency Management Agency to coordinate relief efforts in Chelan and Okanogan counties and on the Colville Reservation. Obama had promised action Tuesday in Seattle after receiving a briefing on the fires from Gov. Jay Inslee. 

Full text of the White House announcement can be found inside the blog.

 

Inslee: FEMA aid to help restore power in fire areas

SEATTLE – The federal government will provide emergency assistance to help restore electricity in areas of Central Washington where wild fires have knocked out power, Gov. Jay Inslee said Tuesday.

Inslee got a promise of emergency assistance that will include generators, replacing burned out lines and poles and help from the Army Corps of Engineers from President Obama after briefing him on the devastation from the fires. Obama and Inslee rode into Seattle for a Democratic Party fund-raiser after Air Force One landed at Boeing Field Tuesday afternoon.

During the ride, Inslee said he was able to show Obama maps of the fires in Central Washington and brief him on “how enormous this threat is.” An estimated 350,000 acres have burned, the most in state history, and fire season still has months to go, the governor said.

“The administration is going to grant that emergency assistance that will be generated through FEMA,” Inslee said.

Today’s fun video: What would Reagan do about Ukraine shootdown?

 

The Daily Show's Jon Stewart skewers talking head news types who compare Barack Obama to Ronald Reagan's response to the Soviet shoot-down of a jetliner without checking the facts. 

Spokane unemployment rate drops

Spokane County's unemployment rated dropped by 1 percent in June, nearing the state average as it fell to 5.6 percent.

The Washington Employment Security Department released its monthly unemployment report this morning, which shows unemployment in Spokane County at the lowest point since October 2008. Statewide unemployment is estimated at 5.4 percent.

Ferry and Grays Harbor counties had the highest unemployment rates, at 8.5 percent and Asotin County the lowest, at 4.4 percent. King County, the state's most populous is at 4.7 percent.

Inslee to brief Obama on fires

Gov. Jay Inslee will brief President Obama on the fires in Central Washington as the two drive into Seattle this afternoon.

Obama, Air Force One and the traveling White House press corps are due in to Boeing Field at mid-afternoon, and the president will motorcade into Seattle for a fund-raiser. Inslee will ride in the car with Obama to brief him on the progress of fighting the wildfires, which have torched a record amount of area east of the Cascades.

The president is due to leave Seattle right after the fund-raiser to fly to San Francisco. Seattle drivers are being warned to expect traffic days for Obama's coming and going. 

Inslee, who has made several trips to the east side of the state to check on firefighting efforts, plans to stop at the Camp Murray Emergency Operations Center to thank workers on his way up to Boeing Field, his staff said.

Sunday Spin: Some advice for Obama on this trip to Seattle

President Obama’s campaign apparatus e-mails almost every day asking for money, but perhaps because I never give him any, he never calls to ask for advice. That’s OK. I have some for him anyway, unsolicited.

Don’t pop in and out of Seattle this week like some guy stopping at the ATM for cash on the way to pick up pizza and a video. If you’re intent on coming for a fund-raiser at some Seattle fat-cat’s home – thus making the city’s usually terrible traffic abysmal for everyone not in an escorted motorcade – it ought to be for something more than just the money. This is particularly true if half the state is still either on fire or choking on smoke.

The White House said last week the president will stop in Tuesday on his way to California, where he’s got even more money-makers later in the week. . .

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

Obama coming next week. Will WA still be burning?

President Barack Obama is planning a fund-raising visit to Seattle on Tuesday. Quick in and out on the way to more fund-raising in California.

As with previous visits, it's likely to tie up traffic in the Puget Sound during his coming and going to the event, which is at an as-yet-undisclosed residence in Seattle. Motorists already dealing with summer construction season can expect even more delays.

But the fires in Central Washington — which Gov. Jay Inslee labeled a firestorm today — might still be burning by Tuesday, and even if they are under control, there will be plenty of scorched earth and former homes that are not much more than a foundation and a chimney. 

So the question for Obama and all his political planners is this:Do you cancel the Seattle stop out of respect for the disaster? Do you pop in and out of Washington like a person hitting their favorite ATM? Or do you extend the stay to acknowledge the disaster, possibly making a trip to the devastation and talk about the effects of climate change? 

Gov. Jay Inslee said today he hadn't talked to Obama about the fires and his upcoming visit.

Edible pot rules: No to lollipops, yes to brownies

OLYMPIA — Legal marijuana stores won't be able to sell lollipops, gummy bears or other candies infused with the drug, but will be able to sell properly labelled brownies and cookies, a state agency decided today.

The Liquor Control Board approved rules for marijuana-infused food products, also known as edibles, designed to limit items that may appeal strongly to children. . . 

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

 

Today’s fun video: We’re all guilty of some word crimes

 

How many of these infractions, misdemeanors and felonies have you committed?

And yes, Weird Al probably made better use of this tune than Robin Thicke.

Ex-Im Bank: How vital is it?

Govs. Jay Inslee and Butch Otter signed on to a letter Tuesday urging Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, but the owner of a Palouse company sometimes listed as a local beneficiary of the institution says the United States should let it go out of business . .  .

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

Ballots start to go in mail tomorrow

County elections offices around the state will begin mailing out ballots Wednesday to the state's voters. Spokane County elections officials say they will be mailing out more than 275,000 in two batches, Wednesday and Thursday.

If you are registered to vote and don't get a ballot by the following Friday, July 25th, call the elections office, which in Spokane is 509-477-2320 about a replacement ballot. (Live in another county and need their number? Click here.)

If you aren't registered to vote, but would like to be (and are a qualifying Washington resident) you have until July 28th to sign up in person at the Elections Office, which in Spokane would be at 1033 W. Gardner. Can't do it online, or by mail. Have to show up in person. Sort of the price you pay for putting it off too long.

The ballots must be marked, placed in the signed envelope and returned, either by depositing them in a drop box before 8 p.m. Aug. 5, or by mailing them back so they are postmarked no later than Aug. 5. Yes, if you mail your ballot you will have to put a stamp on the envelope. No, we will not listen to complaints about how this is unfair or as unconscionable as the poll tax. 

Your best bet for a drop box is probably the closest public library. For a list of drop box locations go inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Calm v. a screamer on CNBC

 

If you're tired of watching two people trying to shout over each other on cable news, this CNBC clip shows what happens when you don't fight fire with fire.

When you fight fire with water, and keep it up, water wins.

Inslee talking up WA in UK

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is returning from the Farnborough Air Show in Great Britain, but it would seem none of the British reserve rubbed off on him during his short stay there.

Asked during a telephonic press conference this morning how the air show was going Inslee offered this observation:

“It's hard being humble when you win the Super Bowl and have the best airplanes in the world.”

Asked what he was doing for fun, Inslee produced an all-business answer: “The pleasure was watching our airplanes fly.”

Clearly, the governor needs to get out more.

He also put in a plug for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, currently the subject of some debate within the House GOP majority. He said he doesn't see any need for big reforms, which Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers recently said are needed before she'd sign on to re-upping the Ex-Im, but he'd be open to some changes as long as the bank can keep helping the state's exporters.

The fight is along ideological lines, he said, but shouldn't be. “This is a meat and potatoes issue.”

Today’s fun video: A candidate, a shotgun and an elephant pinata

 

Firearms may be a great accessory for campaign ads, but apparently not if you are a Democrat running for Congress in Central Washington's 4th Congressional District.

Estakio Beltran, one of two Democrats and 12 candidates overall running for the open seat in the 4th, announced a TV spot last week, then abruptly pulled it.

The 30-second commercial has Beltran in an arid open space, blasting away at an elephant-shaped pinata with a pump action shotgun. He racks out an empty while saying the standard “… and I approve this message” tagline before riding off on a burro in a direction that a sign suggests Congress is thataway.

A little loud, but in a crowded race that has one of the Republican candidates offering a gun giveaway with an AR-15, not totally out of the box. It did draw criticism from gun control groups, and from Republicans who contended that Democrats would be incensed by one of their candidates blasting away at a donkey, the traditional symbol for Democrats.

The ad had a very short shelf life and was pulled after a few days, which seems like a lot of trouble to go through for such a short run.

Asked why, Beltran spokesman Grady O'Brien sent out a prepared statement, explaining: “The purpose of the video was to call attention to a do-nothing Congress in need of a kick in the butt. Now it’s time to move forward and focus on the issues that are important to the people of this district: jobs through innovation, education, and accountability in Washington, D.C.”

The official campaign version was pulled from Youtube, but nothing really dies on the Internet. The above version, which features the ad twice, is still available elsewhere.

Decide for yourself: Clever ad by a young campaign or out-of-bounds rookie mistake.

Mitsubishi coming to Moses Lake

OLYMPIA — Mitsubishi Aircraft Corp. will begin testing its new airliner in Moses Lake next fall, bringing about 100 jobs to that Central Washington community, Gov. Jay Inslee said. . . 

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

Spin Control Files: Reagan’s big visit to Spokane

Over the weekend, we ran the second installment of a new feature called “Spin Control Files,” which is an occasional look at some of the people and events that shaped Washington politics over the years.

The editors thought it would be nice to add another feature that highlights local history for our readers, and they asked me to do it because I've been around long enough to remember some of the people and events. (It was a nice way to ask me without suggesting I'm old.). 

We call it occasional because we don't have a regular schedule, but they'll probably appear about once a month. The first one explained who the Sam Guess Memorial Bridge is named for. (Hint: His initials were S.G.) The second, about the 1986 visit Ronald Reagan made to Spokane, can be found inside the blog.

No hidden agenda to either story. Someone asked me about the bridge a little while ago, and I recently ran into another reporter who covered the visit.

Sunday Spin: Covering pot — interesting, but no sampling

During of quarter century-plus of living in Spokane, I regularly had to explain to friends and relatives elsewhere that it was not a suburb of Seattle and thus did not get rain all the time.

Now in Olympia, I battle a new misconception, that being the newspaper’s marijuana reporter is not like being its wine critic or beer columnist. It’s interesting on many levels – government policy, changing social standards, complicated chemistry – but there’s no sampling of the subject matter and it has about as many laughs as sitting through a legislative budget hearing.

Which is to say, almost none.

Whenever Washington’s new relationship with marijuana makes national news, envious friends in California will send a “seen this?” e-mail with a story link to some other news outlet and a note usually cribbed from Cheech and Chong or Firesign Theater. . .

To read the rest of this item, or to comment, continue inside the blog…

Today’s fun video: Candidate shows he can take it

 

Republican Mike McFadden, running for Minnesota's U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Al Franken, ignored the old W.C. Fields advice about never working with dogs or kids.

He has the players of his junior football team — or somebody's players, as they look like they come straight from Central Casting — delivering the message about how he taught them their skills but Congress is fumbling its job. Cute, until the very end when one of the helmeted youngsters delivers a quick blow to McFadden.

There is some debate in Minnesota about where he gets hit. Abdomen? Solar plexus? Groin?

The way he delivers the “I approved this message” line, it kind of sounds like the third option. 

State voter roll hits new high

OLYMPIA — Washington has a record number of voters on its rolls as the Aug. 5 primary approaches.

The Secretary of State's office says it has 3,922,537 active registrations, which is more than previous highs before the 2012 and 2013 elections.

The number of voters ebbs and flows a bit over the election cycles, increasing in a presidential year then dropping back as the rolls are updated and people who have died are removed and those who haven't voted for years are placed on inactive status.

Ballots for the primary go out next week.

Inslee offers up clean water plan

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee proposed new standards for cleaning up Washington’s lakes, rivers and the Puget Sound, immediately drawing criticism from some business and labor groups that they will be too expensive and from some environmentalists that they are too lax.

The plan announced Wednesday, which is still in an early draft stage, would require stricter standards for 70 percent of the chemicals regulated by law and “no backsliding” on the others, Inslee said: “If we do this, we will make our waters cleaner and safer and we will in fact reduce Washingtonians’ risk of having cancer.”

The new standards will be packaged with legislation Inslee will seek next year give more authority to the Department of Ecology and exceptions known as variances for some businesses that try to meet the new standards but can’t until technology improves or they find new materials that won’t bring toxic chemicals into their manufacturing processes.

Under orders from the Environmental Protection Agency, Washington has been trying for several years to upgrade its water quality standards that date to the 1970s.

The stricter limits proposed for toxic chemicals are set by a formula that includes a controversial “fish consumption standard” . . . 

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

New proposal on water standards coming today

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is set to release a proposal to change the state's water quality standards at noon today, and already both sides of the debate are warning that it could be bad, if not downright terrible.

The environmental group Earthjustice is saying the devil may be in the detail, with confusing numbers that make things look stricter but really aren't.

Mark Schoesler, the Senate Republican leader, is saying the new standards must balance cleaner water with family budgets and jobs.

At the heart of the new rules will be the “fish consumption standards”, which estimate how much fish, shellfish and other river-lake-seafood people eat. The current rules are set with a daily consumption rate of 6.5 grams, a little less than a quarter ounce or about what you'd find on one fancy canape if the chef isn't skimping too much on the good stuff. Put another way, that's about 7 ounces a month, or about the size of that pricey Copper River salmon fillet that cost you an arm and a leg at the restaurant last month.

Obviously, some people eat way more fish than that. But it also matters what kind of fish, and where it comes from. . . 

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

First legal pot buyer in WA was from…Kansas

The first legal pot store in Washington opened not in Seattle or Tacoma or Spokan, but in Bellingham this morning at 8 a.m.

First in line to buy some legal weed was Cale Holdsworth of Abilene, Kansas, Slog reports. Holdsworth was almost immediately mobbed by a gaggle of reporters there to record the moment for history. 

Spokane's first pot store, Spokane Green Leaf, is scheduled to open at 2 p.m. First customers began lining up last night.

Supply problems limit pot store openings

Three stores in north Spokane are among the 25 applicants who will get the state’s first licenses to sell recreational marijuana, but only one will open Tuesday, the first day such sales will be legal.

The state Liquor Control Board this morning released its first list of store licenses it is issuing for communities around Washington. Three are in the Spokane area.

But only Spokane Green Leaf, 9107 N. Country Homes Blvd., expects to open, and one of the owners said they have not yet settled on a time. Because of supply problems that include a processor in the Seattle area cancelling over the weekend, it may be a “soft opening” on Tuesday, followed by a grand opening this weekend. . . 

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

Sunday Spin: Checking out claims on a dog day afternoon

OLYMPIA – In these dog days of summer, things that would not get a second-look the rest of the year are tested for news viability under much lower July vacation standards in an effort to fill the paper.

Any other time, a press release from one candidate complaining that his opponent was lying about his stance on an issue would likely go straight to the delete file. Lying in campaigns is, after all, a time-honored political tradition constitutionally protected by the state Supreme Court.

But Democrat Rich Cowan’s complaint that Republican state Sen. Mike Baumgartner was lying about Cowan’s stance on a state income tax came with an interesting wager: If Baumgartner could prove Cowan supported a state income tax, he could plant one of his campaign signs in Cowan’s yard. . .

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

Go forth this Fourth and take the trivia quiz

So, you think you’re a good patriot. The flag pin on your lapel says “Made in the USA”. You sing “The Star Spangled Banner” before baseball games without looking at the words on the Jumbotron. You chanted USA during the World Cup even though you don’t understand soccer.

On July 4th, we all bleed red, white and blue. But before heading off for hot dogs, apple pie and fireworks, try your hand at our annual Independence Day Trivia quiz. It has 13 questions, one for each rebel colony. They start easy, and get a little tougher:

1. We celebrate July 4th as Independence Day because that’s the day
A. The first shots in the American Revolution were fired
B. The Declaration of Independence was approved
C. The British surrendered at Yorktown
D. King George signed a treaty granting the colonies independence.

2. The American flag you put out this morning has
A. More red stripes than white stripes
B. More white stripes than red stripes
C. An equal number of red and white stripes

3. Where was the Continental Congress meeting when it adopted the Declaration of Independence?
A. Boston
B. New York
C. Philadelphia
D. Richmond

4. Who reportedly said “I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country”?
A. Thomas Paine
B. Patrick Henry
C. Nathan Hale
D. John Paul Jones

5. Which of the following signed the Declaration of Independence and became president?
A. George Washington
B. John Adams
C. James Madison
D. James Monroe|
E. All of the above

6. True or False: George Washington once served in the British army.

7. True or False: The American army invaded Canada during the Revolutionary War.

8. True or False: The vast majority of colonists supported independence from Great Britain in 1776.

9. True or False: Paul Revere warned residents from Lexington to Concord “the British are coming.”

10. After the Revolution, the United States was governed by the Articles of Confederation and a Congress consisting of a single chamber. That Congress didn’t have the power to do what?
A. Levy taxes
B. Declare war
C. Set up a postal service
D. Coin money

11. In the U.S. Constitution, how were slaves counted for determining the number of representatives each state sent to Congress?
A. The same as other people in the state, they just didn’t get to vote.
B. They were counted like Indians rather than “free men”.
C. Each slave was counted as three-fifths of a person.
D. They weren’t counted at all.

12. When the Constitution set up the House of Representatives to have members based on each state’s population, it gave each state the number of representatives it would have until a census could be taken. Which state got the most representatives?
A. Massachusetts
B. New York
C. Pennsylvania
D. Virginia

13. The design of the first American flag is the stuff of legends – much of them in dispute – but the arrangement of the stars in the current 50-star flag was designed by
A. Norman Rockwell
B. The winner of an American Legion contest
C. A New York advertising firm hired by the White House
D. A high school student for a class assignment

For the answers, click here to go inside the blog.

No Eyman initiative this year

OLYMPIA — Initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman will not have a measure on this fall's ballot.

Eyman informed supporters today that he and his associates, Spokanites Mike and Jack Fagan, will not be turning in signatures for Initiative 1325, an effort to force the Legislature into sending voters a constitutional amendment for a super-majority to raise taxes. Today is the deadline for signatures to go to the Secretary of State's office.

In an e-mail, Eyman said the campaign worked really hard, but fell short because qualifying for the ballot is “brutally difficult”. It also promises to work harder next time. It also contends that just the threat of I-1325 “was incredibly effective in deterring the Legislature from raising taxes this year.”

Well, that and the fact the Legislature's two chambers were controlled by different parties that agreed on almost nothing when it comes to taxes.

 The e-mail, like most Eyman missives to supporters, doubles as an appeal for money. The post script that says “Please don't forget about us. Jack, Mike and I only earn what our supporters decide to give” and offers a link to the website where contributions can by made by PayPal or credit card.

I-1325 was one of six versions of the the supermajority proposal that Eyman and company filed this year. Longtime Eyman critic Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute predicted they wouldn't make the ballot about a week ago, noting the signature effort for I-1325 seemed non-existent and the campaign was not spending money for paid signature-gatherers. 

Have you seen a UFO?

If you live in Washington, odds are greater that you have seen a UFO than if you lived in, say, South Dakota. Or even Idaho.

That's according to data compiled by the National UFO Reporting Center, which has tracked sitings of unidentified flying objects for about 50 years, and looked at records going back even farther.

The website Vox.com took the data from NUFORC and cross-referenced it with the Centers for Disease Control data on heavy drinking, as a way to allow for the fact that some people who've had too much to drink might not be the most reliable sources of what they think they see.

Either way, Washington state has the most UFO sitings per capita. Idaho has fewer, which either says something about the residents of the Gem State, or the occupants of UFOs.

Or maybe Washington's tourism agency has a better intergalactic ad campaign than Idaho. 

Class-size initiative supporters say they have enough signatures

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure that would reduce class sizes in public schools say they're confident the proposal will be on the November ballot after turning in more than 325,000 signatures this morning.

The Secretary of State's office will still have to check petitions before certifying Initiative 1351 for the ballot, but the cushion of signatures supporters collected means they will go through an expedited process unless major problems turn up.

I-1351 would require the Legislature to reduce class sizes across the state in Kindergarten through Grade 3, and other grades in “defined  high-poverty schools.”  It tells the Legislature to pay for the reductions, phased in over the next four years, but does not specify if that would be by raising taxes or cutting other programs or both.

UN offers map on marijuana use

The United Nations estimated marijuana use around the world, and the United States ranks pretty high.

Not as high per capita as Iceland, where about a fourth of the population regularly uses the drug. But Iceland's a small country, so that's only about 55,000 people, which is less than the number of people smoking pot in the Gorge during a summer of concerts.

The map is based on data from 2012, so it predates legalization of recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado. One other note: there's no data from big chunks of the world.

Today’s fun video: John Oliver on Hobby Lobby case

 

This actually aired the night before Monday's Supreme Court decision came down, but Oliver's rift on what corporations should have to do if they really want to be considered people may be even more on point now.

He'd probably get high fives from the minority and those in their corner, but not from the five who ruled for Hobby Lobby and those who think they're right on the mark. 

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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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