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Spin Control

Archive for May 2014

Sunday Spin: Gregoire v Rossi 2 lives on in the courts

OLYMPIA – The 2008 governor’s race probably slipped from most voters’ minds long ago.

The winner, Democrat Christine Gregoire, retired from office in 2012 and the loser, Dino Rossi, seems headed for the status of elder statesman in the Republican Party.

It was their second contest, something of a grudge match, and like most sequels, Gregoire-Rossi 2 lacked much of the excitement and drama of the original in 2004.

But the race has tremendous staying power in the state court system. . . 

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

State chooses Voter Pamphlet art

OLYMPIA — Talia Anderson, a Port Angeles fifth grader, got a bit of a surprise when Secretary of State Kim Wyman showed up at school. She knew Wyman was going to speak to students

Anderson didn't know Wyman was going to announce her artwork had been chosen for the cover of this year's Voters' Pamphlet. It will make her a well-circulated artist. The pamphlet gets sent out to 3.2 million voters. 

Salvatori replacement will be able to hire a full-time assistant

Although soon-to-be former Spokane City Councilman Steve Salvatori famously gave up a full-time council assistant and made arrangements to send the $50,000 allocated for the position to worthwhile community causes instead, his replacement would still be able to hire one.

Turns out that $20,000 of the allocation earmarked for the University District Development Association has yet to be distributed, and now is being held back.

Council President Ben Stuckart said he and Salvatori already have discussed the need to suspend the distribution in case his replacement chooses to hire an assistant. Salvatori's last council meeting will be July 8 and the council is hoping to have a replacement selected by the end of August, which means it should be enough to cover the salary and benefits of an assistant for the remainder of the year.

Salvatori was a vocal critic of what he called “mission creep,” and pointed to growth in how much the council was spending on itself. The move to provide a full-time assistant for each council member beginning this year was one of his prime examples, and he noted that just six years ago the seven-member council all shared one assistant, then provided part-timers for each council member, adding healthcare benefits shortly after that, and expanding them to full-time this year.

He arranged with Stuckart to have the money allocated for his assistant be spent on homeless and youth services and economic development efforts. It landed both in front of the city's Ethics Committee earlier this month on allegations they failed to properly disclose Salvatori's connections to one of the groups. The ethics panel split 3-3 and dumped the complaints.

Today’s fun video: Ad didn’t rock Texas race


Texas Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst closed out his primary campaign with this upbeat disco themed commercial.

He lost.

Causation, correlation or coincidence? Discuss.

Govs send joint letter to feds on pot banking

OLYMPIA — Governors from Washington and Colorado sent a letter to federal banking officials trying to get them to get a move on and develop rules for recreational marijuana businesses.

In their joint letter (insert expected marijuana joke here), Jay Inslee and John Hickenlooper reminded the heads of the Federal Reserve, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, National Credit Union Administration and the comptroller of the currency of a letter the governors sent last October, asking for banking policies in line with the Justice Department's memo on marijuana in states that have legalized it.

The banking officials, or their predecessors, responded last November with their own joint letter (insert second marijuana joke here) and issued some guidance in February on marijuana businesses. But they have yet to come up with instructions to banks and credit unions on how to provide banking services to state-licensed marijuana businesses.

“In the meantime, product sales have begun in Colorado and will soon begin in Washington, exposing all involved to significant risks of criminal activity associated with accepting, storing and transporting large quantities of cash that can be ameliorated by access to the banking system,” the governors wrote.

They asked bank officials “expeditiously” provide guidance to the banking institutions.

Washington expects to have some recreational marijuana stores open in late June or early July.

Supremes to hear 2008 election case

OLYMPIA — Washington politicos may be looking toward the 2016 gubernatorial race, but the state Supreme Court will be looking backwards today to the 2008 race.

The case in which a couple of former justices challenged the way the Building Industry Association of Washington helped finance the campaign of GOP candidate Dino Rossi finally made its way through the system to the Supremes.  

That election was the rematch of Rossi and Gov. Christine Gregoire, which she won by a more convincing margin than the 2004 contest.

But in the midst of the 2008 campaign, former Justices Faith Ireland and Robert Utter contended the BIAW surpassed state spending limits because it coordinated too closely with Rossi to be considered an independent campaign. Notable about the lawsuit was the court order for Rossi go submit to a deposition on his involvement with BIAW just eight days before the election.

After the election, the lawsuit continued through the court system, with the appeals court most recently siding with BIAW. 

Sunday Spin: Inslee probably not giving away the store

OLYMPIA – Gov. Jay Inslee raised eyebrows, and some blood pressures, among some legislative Republicans and other conservatives last week with comments about state worker salaries on the eve of contract talks.

“It’s just clear to me that it’s unacceptable state employees have gone so long without a general pay increase,” he was quoted as telling members of the Washington Federation of State Employees.

Some suggested he was making a concession on wages before contract talks even started. Perhaps they would have liked him to suggest workers should get ready to swallow pay cuts or expect to be replaced by robots. . . 

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


Today’s fun video: Pot smokers not really OK with FBI chief


Word of warning to Washington's recreational marijuana smokers with mad computer skills: Regardless of what you may have heard, you will not — repeat NOT — be welcomed with open arms at the FBI, even if you are a master hacker.

During a recent Senate hearing, FBI Director James Comey had to “walk back” his comments he made to the Wall Street Journal about hiring folks with certain needed skills who smoke marijuana . Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., who clearly was not amused by the comments. Just another example of leadership in America dismissing the seriousness of marijuana use, he says.

Because when it comes to a choice betwee preventing the Chinese from stealing U.S. trade secrets and keeping folks from smoking marijuana, America's priorities should be very clear.

Oil train hearing set for Spokane

A bill requiring a state study of oil trains, which was introduced so late in the legislative session it didn't get a hearing, will get an airing next month in Spokane.

The Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee will use the Spokane City Council chambers at 10:30 a.m. June 17 for a hearing on SB 6582, which would require the Department of Ecology to conduct a study of the safety of transporting crude oil by rail and by barge. Companies receiving the oil would be required tell the department how much they shipped each month, where it came from and how it got there. They would also pay the state's one-cent per barrel tax on crude oil, which would go into the special oil spill response fund.

The bill is sponsored by Republicans Mike Baumgartner of Spokane and Doug Ericksen of Ferndale, who is the committee chairman.

McCleary attorney pans Legislature’s ed report

OLYMPIA – Legislators’ recent report on how they will improve public education is so lousy they should be held in contempt, plaintiffs in the landmark case over school funding told the state Supreme Court. Maybe the court should levy fines, take control of the budget or close down schools until the legislators comply, their attorney suggested.

 The report by a special committee, submitted late last month, ignores previous court orders to provide detailed plans and offers excuses similar to a child telling a teacher “the dog ate my homework,” attorney Thomas Ahearne wrote in a formal response filed this week.

“This Court must decide whether court orders really matter,” he said.

Rep. Susan Fagan, a co-chairwoman for joint select committee on meeting what’s generally known as the McCleary decision, said the tone of Ahearne’s response was disappointing but probably not aimed at the court. . . 

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

To see the plaintiff's latest response in the McCleary case, click here.


Senate Dems to NFL: Change Redskins name

Maria Cantwell, Patty Murray and most other Democrats in the U.S. Senate sent the NFL a letter saying it's time to come up with a new name for the Washington Redskins.

Cantwell followed it up with a speech on the Senate floor, urging the rest of the Senate to get behind the push. “I'm convinced that if each member of this body speaks on this issue and is forceful in their resolve, that we can help initiate change.”

The letter drew a comparison between changing the D.C. team's name and the NBA banning L.A. Clippers' owner Donald Sterling from attending basketball games for his racist comments.

“So what is it going to take to get the name of this team changed?” Cantwell asked in her floor speech. “Even the patent office, a federal agency with determining whether a word can be protected in commerce says this term is a derogatory slang and is disparaging to Native Americans.”

To read the full letter, or to comment, click here to continue inside the blog.

Today’s fun video: Colbert on the great ID gov debate


Stephen Colbert is a little late in weighing in on the Idaho gubernatorial debate, but last night managed to wrap Harley Brown and Walt Bays into a report on Tuesday's primary results.

This may confirm for some Russ Fulcher's complaint that Gov. Butch Otter's insistence that the two “out there” candidates in the sole debate made Idaho a laughingstock. To which Spin Control can only say: “Oh, waaaaah.”

Watch for a guest appearance by the S-R's Betsy Russell late in the segment.

McMorris Rodgers with Seahawks at White House

Normally, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers wouldn't be all smiles at a gathering headed by President Obama at the White House — if she'd be there at all.

Not so today, where she stopped by for Obama's salute to the Super Bowl champs and tweeted out a photo, proving perhaps that winners draw a bipartisan crowd.

Today’s video: Seahawks at White House


Video from KIRO-TV

President Obama had the Seattle Seahawks over to “the house' to give them congrats for winning the Super Bowl. For the text of his speech, go inside the blog.

4th Congressional District has long ballot

An even dozen candidates are running for an open seat in Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District, making it the most crowded race in the state’s Aug. 5 primary.

The district trends heavily Republican, and so did the candidate filings. Eight are Republicans, with two Democrats and two independents. Under the state’s primary system, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election, regardless of party.

Go inside the blog to see the order they’ll appear on the ballot after a drawing by the secretary of state’s office:


Yu sworn in as Supreme Court justice

OLYMPIA —  With people who inspired her at her side and others she hoped to inspire in the audience, Mary Yu was sworn in this afternoon to a state Supreme Court a seat she's likely have for at least two years despite facing election this fall.

No one filed to run against her last week, so barring an unprecedented write-in campaign in November, Yu, who is Gov. Jay Inslee's first appointment to the high court, will finish out the term of Justice Jim Johnson who retired last month. She said she was “perplexed and surprised” by the lack of opposition, but attributed it more to the short time potential challengers had to plan a campaign than to her strengths as a candidate.

“I'm relieved,” she said in a brief meeting with reporters after the ceremony. “I'm delighted and happy.”

She'll have to run for a full term in 2016, giving potential challengers both time to plan a campaign and a record of her decisions to use as ammunition.

Yu is the high court's first Asian, Latina and lesbian justice and as she took the oath of office, she had at her side three women who had been inspirations to her for their work for equal rights for the state's Asian, Latino and gay communities. In the audience were teens, many of them minorities, who had just attended a symposium on the juvenile justice system Yu had helped organize as the co-chairwoman of the Minority and Justice Commission. In the lobby was a draped portrait of former Justice Charles Z. Smith, the first minority member to serve on the court, scheduled to be unveiled in a few minutes.

It was important for those teens, particularly the ones who were minorities, to be in the Temple of Justice this day, Yu said. There was a clear message that “they could come here, too, and they could be a justice some day.”

While Yu's move from King County Superior Court to the Supreme Court offers better representation for several different groups, it does not provide more representation for Eastern Washington residents. They make up more than 20 percent of the population but the nine member court has only one justice, Debra Stephens, from Eastern Washington.

Yu said she's not convinced justice is tied to where a person lives, but said she plans to get around the state in the coming months for her campaign, even though she has no opponent, with stops in Eastern Washington's cities and small towns.

“I  need to make an effort to go out and hear what people's concerns are,” she said.

WA county unemployment rates

OLYMPIA — The state released unemployment rates for Washington counties this morning. 

Check out the map above, or go to the department  website for more details

Today’s fun video: Stewart skewers feds over VA problems


Jon Stewart on The Daily Show expresses outrage over the lack of outrage in the Obama administration over problems at Veterans Affairs Centers.

Party time

The top-two primary continues to give candidates a chance to show creativity to dream up political parties. Under the old law, a candidate claiming to be a member of a minor party with a clever name had to take the rudimentary steps of forming it, collecting signatures at a special gathering.

Because candidates no longer run as a member of any party, the ballot merely says which they prefer. This leads to some Republicans saying they prefer the GOP Party (yes, it’s a redundancy, but never mind) or the Independent R Party. Some who say they are independent, and put that down in the box on their candidate form, get listed as preferring the Independent Party, which sounds like something else entirely. Ronnie Rae, a candidate in the 7th District, listed his preference as Centralist Party but said there’s not really any party, it just describes his middle-of-the-road philosophies.

Other candidates just seem to let ’er rip on party preferences. Candidates in congressional races list the National Union, the Work and Wealth and the Human Rights parties. Legislative candidates list Independent Dem, Framers and Republicanspirit parties. Then there’s a legislative candidate from Graham who listed his preference as the Marijuana Party, although maybe he really just wants to attend one.

Bring on the Zamboni

Judicial races in Washington usually are notable for having very little notable to report. Candidates compare resumes, look for people to place in long lists of endorsements in their newspaper ads and generally avoid controversy in an effort to seem judicious.

One state Supreme Court candidate may have stirred up controversy just by filing. John “Zamboni” Scannell filed against incumbent Justice Debra Stephens. He’s notable for more than just his nickname, earned from driving the ice-smoothing machine for a Seattle hockey team. . . 

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

Millennials: The latest hot thing?

The latest hot thing in politics seems to be Millennials.

Last week the Youth Engagement Fund and Project New America released a poll that said voters aged 18 to 29 will determine the fall elections. It delves deeply into the political psyche of Generation M and suggests they are a progressive Democrat’s dream.

Strong majorities say women and men should be paid equally, same-sex marriage should be legal, women should make the decision on abortion, small amounts of marijuana should be legal, utilities should produce more energy from renewable sources and taxes should be raised on people making more than $250,000 a year. So except for that last one, they kind of reflect the way Washington votes on initiatives. . . 

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

McMorris Rodgers draws 3rd opponent as filing week closes

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers drew a third challenger and several other political races filled out Friday on the last day for candidates to file for office in Washington.

Tom Horne of Nine Mile Falls filed as a Republican against McMorris Rodgers, who is seeking a fifth term in Eastern Washington’s 5th Congressional District. Horne hasn’t filed with the Federal Elections Commission or made a formal campaign announcement, and couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on his plans to unseat a fellow Republican. An internet search indicates he’s a firefighter and the inventor of the “Jake knife” a tool used by firefighters.

The race already includes independent Dave Wilson, a Spokane business consultant, and Democrat Joe Pakootas, chief executive officer of the corporation that manages Colville Tribal businesses.

Other last-day filings included former Spokane Valley Mayor Diana Wilhite, who made it a three-way race for a 4th Legislative District House seat, which also includes appointed incumbent Leonard Christian and Valley school teacher Bob McCaslin Jr. Rep. Matt Shea filed for re-election to the other seat and drew a challenge from Josh Arritola, who runs a management consulting firm. All five 4th District candidates are Republicans.

Randy Glenn II, an information technology manager filed as a Libertarian in the 3rd Legislative District House race that already included incumbent Democrat Marcus Riccelli and Republican Tim Benn, a day care center co-owner. Glenn is one of three Libertarians in local legislative races, along with Paul Delaney of Spokane, who is running for the other 3rd District seat against Democratic Rep. Timm Ormsby, and James Apker of Mead, who is challenging 7th District Republican Rep. Shelly Short.

Donald Dover, a retired manager of distance learning programs for Washington State University filed against Republican Rep. Kevin Parker in the 6th District and Ronnie Rae, a Loon Lake attorney, filed with a “Centralist Party” preference against Republican Rep. Joel Kretz in the 7th District. Rae said that’s not a real party but a description of his political philosophy.

For a list of candidates who have filed for offices that would be on Spokane area ballots, click here to go inside the blog.

Today’s video: Murray presses VA officials


Sen. Patty Murray tried to get answers Thursday from Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki and other VA officials on longstanding reports of problems in their system.

They didn't have much. . . 

4th Cong District: Then there were 10

The number of candidate's for Central Washington's 4th Congressional District seat climbed into double digits for Thursday as a second Democrat and an independent joined the crowd.

Tony Sandoval, a Yakima businessman, filed as a Democrat. Richard Wright of Kennewick, who ran unsuccessfully against Doc Hastings in 2006, filed as an independent.

So for those keeping track at home, there are now seven Republicans: George Cicotte, Clint Didier, Kevin Midbust, Janea Holmquist Newbry, Dan Newhouse, Gavin Seim and Glen Stockwell; two Democrats: Estakio Beltran and Sandoval, and one independent, Wright.

Candidate filing closes tomorrow. Those filing in person at secretary of state's office have until 5 p.m. Those filing at a county elections office have until the normal closing time for that office; in Spokane County, that's 4 p.m.

Online filing is available for all positions. It closes at 4 p.m.

Today’s fun video: ID gov debate


There are about as many differences between Washington and Idaho politics as there are differences between the two states. 

 As this video demonstrates, Idaho gubernatorial debates are quite a bit more entertaining, as dark horse candidates Harley Brown and Walt Bayes join Gov. Butch Otter and his main Republican opponent Russ Fulcher on stage for a debate. 

This is not to say Washington doesn't have its own stable of unusual folks who run for office. Mike The Mover and GoodSpaceGuy have jumped into congressional races. But they don't often wind up in a debate broadcast around the state on public television.

Brown and Bayes, who were invited at the insistence of Otter, kind of steal the show at various times.

Kudos to colleague Betsey Russell, The Spokesman-Review's Boise bureau chief, who is on the panel and handles this all with great aplomb.

National political blogs — which normally pay as much attention to Idaho as they do to Liechtenstein, are agog with the debate. 

The fill video lasts about an hour, but for highlights, try Buzz Feed's 9 Reasons Why The Idaho Gubernatorial Debate Was the Most Important Political Event of the Year.

Seahawks get White House invite


The Seahawks are being invited to the White House next Wednesday for some presidential atta-boys.

The White House announced President Obama will honor the team for their Super Bowl victory and “for their efforts to give back to their communities.”

Perhaps he'll also thank Richard Sherman for supplying him with some gag lines in the recent correspondents dinner as shown in the video above.

4th Cong District: Holmquist Newbry makes 8

In a sign that politics abhors a vacuum almost as much as nature, an open seat in Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District has drawn eight candidates with two days left in the state’s filing week.

State Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, on Wednesday afternoon joined six other Republicans and one Democrat seeking to replace 20-year veteran Richard “Doc” Hastings in a district that stretches from Canada to the Columbia River and also includes Yakima and the Tri-Cities.

Other Republicans in the race include former legislator and state Agriculture Director Dan Newhouse; rancher Clint Didier, who has run for U.S. Senate and state lands commissioner; Tri-Cities attorney George Cicotte; Rite Aid supervisor Kevin Midbust; videographer Gavin Seim and economic development specialist Glen Stockwell.

Jamie Wheeler, an in-home care provider who previously announced a campaign on Facebook but had not filed papers with the Federal Election Commission said Wednesday she would not run.

Estakio Beltran, a former congressional aide, is the lone Democrat at this point. . . 

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


Washington job numbers up

OLYMPIA – Washington has gained back the jobs it lost during the Great Recession and sees its employment slowly expanding.

Figures released Wednesday by the state Employment Security Department put the state unemployment rate at 6.1 percent, down two-tenths of 1 percent from March and the lowest it has been since October 2008. Over the last three months, it has added an average of about 6,900 jobs per month, a rate comparable to the period between 2005 and 2007 “when the economy was expanding,” Paul Turek, a department labor economist, said. . .

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

City of Spokane plans park/streets meetings

Spokane city officials will hold six public meetings this month on their plan to refinance bonds to raise money for street maintenance and the proposed Riverfront Park Master Plan.

The proposal involves refinancing three older bond issues, paying them off and raising an extra $25 million for streets and $60 million for the Riverfront Park plan. It would pay off the 1999 park bonds, the 2004 street bonds and the 2007 pool bonds, leaving the 91 cents per $1,000 of assessed valuation in place, but extending it for 20 years. The two older bonds are due to expire this year, although the 2007 pool bonds have another 16 years.

City officials liken the plan to a homeowner refinancing to take advantage of lower interest rates.

For a look at the meeting schedule, click here to go inside the blog.


4th Congressional District filling up

Central Washington's 4th Congressional District continues to attract candidates Tuesday with seven would-be representatives filing for the seat being vacated by Doc Hastings. . . 

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


DNR to explore halt to timber harvests near slides

OLYMPIA — The agency that manages state forest lands will ask whether it's legal to declare a moratorium on timber harvests near landslide areas.

The Forest Practices Board, which sets rules for harvesting timber, will also review those rules “with a particular eye to public safety” around slides and the areas where water is absorbed into the ground and recharges the aquifer below. . . 

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

Today’s fun video: What happens when you put Putin on ice


Russian President Vladimir Putin took to the ice over the weekend for a hockey game and scored six goals.

Makes you wonder how they kept Putin off Russia's Olympic hockey team, although he was probably too busy planning the annexation of Crimea to practice regularly.

Video clip also suggests the other team's goalie so transparent in not blocking Putin shots that he should try out for another Olympic group… the diving team.

Day 1 of filing week

A noon-time campaign event by state Sen. Michael Baumgartner brought several Republicans into the Spokane County Elections Office on the first day of filing week.

State Reps. Jeff Holy of Cheney and Leonard Christian of Spokane Valley joined Baumgartner in filing their paperwork and paying their fees. Also on the list the first morning were:

— Mary Lou Johnson, filing as a Democrat for the Spokane County commissioner seat now held by Republican Al French
— Larry Haskell, filing as a Republican for Spokane County prosecutor
— Alene Lindstrand, filing as “G.O.P. Party” for Spokane County auditor
— Mary Kuney, also lilsting “G.O.P. Party” for Spokane County treasurer.

Incumbent Republican Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich also turned in his paperwork.

For a full list of filings as of lunchtime, go inside the blog


Filing week starts today

Washington residents with political ambitions have until Friday afternoon to make them official by filing for office.

Voters will elect 10 members of the U.S. House, half the state Senate, the full state House, four state Supreme Court justices and many county executive posts in this fall’s election. Except for the judicial positions, most offices are partisan, so candidates are asked to indicate which party they prefer when they file their paperwork and pay the filing fee, which amounts to 1 percent of the salary for the office sought.

Candidates running for county offices and legislative seats for districts inside a single county file paperwork at the county elections office. Those running for Congress, statewide judicial offices or legislative districts that spread over more than one county file with the Secretary of State in Olympia.

Or a candidate can file for any office online from 9 a.m. Monday through 4 p.m. Friday at – if he or she has an e-mail address and a credit card.

County office hours vary. In Spokane County the office is open from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and elections officials say a candidate must be in the process of filing at 4 p.m. Friday for the petition and fee to be accepted.

The Secretary of State’s office is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Sunday Spin: Clarification on candidate ad rules

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton wrote recently to say that at the urging of a legislator she had delved deeper into state election law than when we last spoke, and discovered state law does not require candidates to list the office or position they are seeking in advertising. That’s contrary to what was reported in last week’s column on possible jockeying in the 4th Legislative District.

It does, however, have rules for a candidate running for re-election to a seat currently or previously held, or to keep an appointed seat. So the office and position could come into play on advertising in those cases, she wrote.

The two House seats in Spokane Valley’s 4th Legislative District have seven announced candidates, all of them Republicans, but they’re unlikely to be the business primaries in the state.

That distinction is likely to go to Central Washington’s 4th Congressional District seat being vacated by Richard “Doc” Hastings. Six Republicans and one Democrat have already notified the Federal Elections Commission they might run.

Also of note: The state usually has three Supreme Court races in an even-numbered year, but this year there will be four. Mary Yu, who was appointed to the seat of retired Justice Jim Johnson, must run for election and already has one opponent, Bruce Hilyer.

3rd District gathering Monday

The Third Legislative District's delegation will hold a gathering something between a town hall and a coffee klatch Monday afternoon.

Dubbed a “mobile office” meeting, Sen. Andy Billig and Reps. Timm Ormsby and Marcus Riccelli will be at Indaba Coffee, 1425 W. Broadway to give constituents a chance to comment or ask questions about legislation that affects the region. The three Democrats will be there from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

‘Outrage’ of the day

The Tea Party is outraged at President Obama. And it's not about the fact that he was born in Kenya or that Obamacare is assembling death panels to kill our grandparents or he's issuing orders to send all gun owners to FEMA camps. Or any of the other outrages that have filled the Tea Party web sites over the years.

This time the group is outraged over a photo Obama himself produced at the White House Correspondent's dinner, which shows him sitting on the Iron Throne of Westeros. Not funny, complained the Tea Party said on its web site, contending the “gag that cuts a little too close to the bone for some critics given Obama's lust for executive power.”

Not to mention the fact that the picture has in its foreground a crossbow, obviously confiscated from someone in violation of the 2nd Amendment protection of the right to keep and bear arms.

For those who don't have HBO, and therefore don't get the joke of the picture dubbed Westeros Wing, the Iron Throne is the seat of power from which the king of the Seven Kingdoms rules in “Game of Thrones.” 

Some might not see the funny side of the image given that Obama is actually behaving like a king by flouting the constitution and pursuing his agenda by executive fiat on a number of different issues.

Indeed, representations of the President as a king have been used by some of his fiercest critics for years as a way of highlighting Obama’s disregard for the constitution.

Of course anyone who has watched the series might point out that the Tea Party would have reason to rejoice at Obama on the Iron Throne, considering no one who has sat on it during the last four seasons has managed to stay in power for very long. Something bad always seems to happen to the occupant of the throne and the folks around him.

But why spoil a perfectly good rant?


Top Inslee aide stepping down

OLYMPIA — Ted Sturdevant, the head of Gov. Jay Inslee's legislative affairs and policy office, will step down at the end of June.

In an e-mail to legislators today, Sturdevant said he decided “it's time for a different pace and a different work-life balance.”  Sturdevant, who was director of the Department of Ecology under Inslee's predecessor Christine Gregoire, and said he first went to work for the Oregon Legislature 30 years ago.

“I have an enormous amount of respect for those of you who are willing to surmount those obstacles and make the sacrifices required to serve the state as elected leaders,” he wrote in the e-mail.

Inslee's office said no decision has been made on a replacement.

Today’s fun web site: Test your political knowledge

Lots of web sites offer quizzes of government and politics. This one on Buzz Feed comes complete with photos and GIFs that make it more fun than usual.

Questions probably are only moderately difficult for regular Spin Control readers.


Mudslide communities getting tourism money

OLYMPIA — Areas near the Oso mudslide will get some state money to boost tourism this summer as a way to help their economies.

Gov. Jay Inslee approved a $150,000 request from the state Commerce Department to supplement local business and government spending on promoting Darrington and the Stillaguamish Valley as a destination for summer travelers, helping to combat public perception that getting to the region is difficult.

It will promote businesses and attractions accessible by Highway 20 and summer events like the Darrington Timberbowl Rodeo, Summer Meltdown and Bluegrass Festival, targeting potential travelers in the Puget Sound and Vancouver, British Columbia.

“A country run by idiots”

Audience comments during the Spokane City Council’s debate over adding gender identity to local civil rights protections were at times so graphically vile that Councilman Jon Snyder suggested it was evidence of why the ordinance is necessary.

Former state Rep. John Ahern, for example, warned of increased rapes and other violent crimes that he believes would escalate if men dressed as women were allowed to use public restrooms. Another audience member described cases of sexual torture that included setting victims on fire. A woman who drew a mustache on her face and dressed as a man (pictured) took to the podium to declare that America is becoming “a country run by idiots.”

The proposal was approved Monday night on a 5-2 vote, with several councilmen calling the tenor of the testimony “offensive.” Among them was Councilman Mike Allen, who opposed the measure on technical grounds but joined others in expressing disappointment over some of the more vicious comments made by audience members.

Allen said he’s worried that by adding local protections, which already are provided under state law, it would open the city to litigation if lawsuits ever arose over something like equal access to school locker rooms. He said he’d prefer to let the state pick up the tab for that kind of legal fight.

The proposal also added local prohibitions against discriminating based on military status and disabilities. It was proposed by the city's Human Rights Commission. A video of Monday night's meeting can be seen here. The gender identity issue is toward the end.

Sims named health exchange chairman

OLYMPIA — Ron Sims will be the new chairman of the Washington Health Benefit Exchange, which operates the state's online system for finding health insurance.

Sims, a member of the Washington Health Alliance board,  is a former King County Executive and former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. He ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in 1994 as a Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Slade Gorton.

On a more parochial note, he's a Spokane native and graduate of Lewis and Clark High School. 

Gov. Jay Inslee announced the appointment this week to replace current chairwoman Margaret Stanley.

Update: More Eastern WA pot store locations


To check for locations, enlarge the map or click on the locator pins.

OLYMPIA — When the Liquor Control Board announced the “winners” of its lotteries for recreational marijuana stores, it also mentioned there were other applicants getting the green light to secure a license in places that didn't have lotteries.

In those locations, there weren't more applicants than the slots allowed, so there was no reason to bother with a lottery. But with all the excitement over the lottery, the board didn't have time to sort out the locations of the non-lottery applicants.

They remedied that this week, and we've updated the map of possible recreational marijuana store locations above. The list comes with the same caveats, that these are still just applications. The potential owners must still build out their stores and pass inspections before they can open. They might also move if they develop problems with local jurisdictions, but if that happens they'll have to find a location that meets state and local requirements. Those who don't pass inspection won't get licenses

Today’s fun video: More guns in campaign ads


Guns continue to be a popular accessory in 2014 campaign ads.

Tribal treaty rights leader Billy Frank dies

Billy Frank Jr. earlier this year along the Nisqually River. AP photo.

Billy Frank Jr. once told a biographer that when he dies, he wanted to be remembered as a fisherman. 

Leaving it at that for Frank, who died Monday at 83, would be like saying Rosa Parks should be remembered as a mass transit patron.

Being a fisherman was the beginning of the man who grew to be one of the region's premier champions of tribal treaty rights and the environment. Being a fisherman was part of his heritage as a member of the Nisqually tribe, whose ancestral lands once spread out from the South Puget Sound river that carries their name and once teemed with salmon and steelhead.  

“He was part of that river, and he saw the salmon as being part of him,” said Tom Keefe, who met Frank, one of his childhood heroes, while an aide to Sen. Warren Magnuson. . . 

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

Today’s fun video: Obama’s schtick at Correspondent’s Dinner


President Obama takes shots at reporters, news networks and Congress at the White House Correspondents Dinner

Sunday Spin2: Janet Gilpatrick will be missed

Janet Gilpatrick never held elective office but put her stamp on the politics and governance of Eastern Washington for some 17 years by making sure things got done right for someone who did.

That someone was Tom Foley, the Spokane congressman who rose through the ranks to become speaker of the House. While Foley rose from committee chairman to majority whip to majority leader to speaker, Gilpatrick headed up the staff taking care of business back in Spokane.

To many, she was eyes and ears of Tom Foley in Eastern Washington, meeting with business leaders, school officials, farmers and just about anyone else who had an idea or a request for their congressman when he wasn’t around. When he was, she was the person who made sure he got where he needed to be when he needed to be there, no small trick with a boss who lingered at one event talking to constituents while the time got shorter to get to the next one.

But Gilpatrick was adept at covering the miles between cities and towns in the far reaches of the 5th District at speeds that would impress a NASCAR fan. Ever been stopped for speeding, she was once asked after covering the stretch from Spokane to Pullman in an impressively short time span. Oh yes, she replied. Does having the speaker of the House in the car get you out of a ticket? It might if they were allowed to mention it, she said, but they weren’t, so she would just take the ticket and pay the fine.

She also saved my life — well, kept me on my feet, at least — during the 1988 Democratic National Convention by taking pity on a starving reporter and equally famished newspaper photographer who had wandered into a gala political event for her boss and pointed to a table of fancy food and beverages all but untouched by crowd of politicians who were too busy schmoozing. 

Eat before you collapse, she said. Can't do it, we replied, ethics rules say we can't take anything of value from sources, and that food's definitely of value. It's going to be thrown out in a few minutes, she said, I won't tell anyone if you don't.So she fixed us to-go bags and we worked another eight hours straight covering the convention. She never told anyone because Janet Gilpatrick was a woman of her word.

When campaign season came around, as it did every other summer for Foley, she split her time between the congressional office and the campaign. There were things she could tell a reporter on the record, things off the record, and things she couldn’t tell at all. She was the rarest of political operatives – passionate and knowledgeable about issues and loyal to her boss without ever steering anyone wrong.

She took those talents to a career in public relations after closing up Foley’s office. She’d had some health problems lately and went downhill after her longtime husband Thomas passed away, daughter Annie Gilpatrick said. Her memorial will be May 14 at Hennessey Smith on North Division.

Sunday Spin: Pick your race, then file

Last week’s steady stream of candidates announcing they plan to run for some office or another is a sign that filing week is nearly upon us.

May 12 through 16 is the time for a candidate to go from talking about running for office to putting money where his or her mouth is, and then attaching it to the required paperwork and filing it with county or state elections officials.

Spokane County Auditor Vicky Dalton had a word of advice recently for would-be candidates contemplating their runs. It boils down to “do all your contemplating before filing and paying your fee.”

Apparently some candidates in the 4th Legislative District have been talking about filing early in the week for one House seat, and maybe switching later in the week if the field for the other seat seems to offer better prospects.

Right now, the state Public Disclosure Commission lists seven House candidates in the 4th, all Republicans. Five haven’t indicated which seat they will seek, leaving the space marked “Position No.” blank, or putting a U – presumably for “undecided” – or a NA, which usually stands for not applicable.

In this case, the position number is very applicable. You file and run for one or the other, and must say so on your campaign signs and literature and candidacy petitions.

Presumably, this is all about jockeying to see who will run for the seat that was vacated last year by long-time Rep. Larry Crouse, to which Leonard Christian was appointed. Christian is willing to say he’s seeking No. 1, which he currently holds. Yet Rep. Matt Shea, who has held the No. 2 position since winning it in 2008, considers it “NA”.

Shea has already endorsed Robert McCaslin for the House, who is also running NA, but presumably not NSS, or Not Shea’s Seat.

Josh Arritola of Chattaroy, the head of a management consulting firm, made the formal announcement last week that he’s running against Shea. He may be waiting for Shea to pick a number to replace the U on his form and put it to his web site. (There was a time when candidates chose their race before designing a web site, but that’s probably so 2000s.)

The position number can be added to a web site with a few key strokes by a programmer. It can be attached to a yard sign or a bill board with stickers. Changing it on a petition of candidacy after it’s filed with elections officials next week isn’t so easy. In fact, it’s not possible, Dalton said. A candidate can switch races only by withdrawing from the first race, which means forfeiting that filing fee, then filing new paperwork for the other race. And paying the fee again.

Elections officials won’t mind taking two fees from the same candidate. But it might not sound good for anyone running as a fiscal conservative in the Spokane Valley’s 4th District. And does anyone run as anything else in the 4th?

Some E. WA pot stores could be really close to ID


To enlarge the map, click on the + sign. To see the  name of the proposed store in a particular location, click on the icon. Google+ map by Jim Camden

Some of the most popular locations for Eastern Washington’s new pot entrepreneurs are close to the Idaho border, the list of winners for the state’s marijuana store lottery suggests.

Three of the Spokane County applicants receiving the green light by the Washington Liquor Control Board to try finishing the licensing process plan to open a store at the same East Trent location, just a mile and a half from the border.

Manpreet Singh of Hi-Star Corp., who wants to open one of those stores, said he picked the small shopping mall in Newman Lake for two reasons. One is he owns a gas station nearby.

The other? “It’s close to the border,” Singh said. That could mean an expanded customer base from Idaho, he said.

Recreational marijuana isn’t legal in the Gem State, so Idaho customers would be taking a risk carrying it back across the border. They’d have to consume it somewhere in Washington, in private. Driving back under the influence would also be a problem.

Also receiving a slot through the lottery for suites at the same address in the 25000 block of East Sprague are NXNW Retail and Urban Top Shelf. The licensing process has a ways to go, and any of the applicants could drop out or switch to a different location without losing their slot, Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said.

Singh said having three marijuana stores in the same area might be tough for business. He has scoped out another spot in the Spokane Valley, but it’s not as good. Among other things, it’s at least 15 miles from the border.

Joseph Rammell received the OK to proceed with his application to open Mary Jane’s Weed in Newport. It would be less than 1,000 feet from Oldtown, Idaho, a short walk along residential streets. But only if Newport drops its moratorium on marijuana businesses within its city limits. If not, “we’re looking at a couple of alternate locations” outside of town, he said.

Several cities and counties have moratoria, but that didn’t stop the board from giving the green light to Rammell or to Kelly Jackson, one of two Asotin County applicants selected in Friday’s lottery. He plans to open his Canna4Life store on Clarkston’s 6th Street, which is less than a mile from the bridge separating the two states. The closeness to Idaho was one reason he picked the spot, although only a few buildings in the city met the state’s qualifications of being at least 1,000 feet from schools, playgrounds and other places meant mainly for children.

Jackson said his lifelong asthma was cured about 20 months ago by medical marijuana and he would like someday to carry some medical products as well. Under current law, state-licensed stores can only sell the heavily regulated and taxed recreational marijuana, but with medical marijuana also illegal in Idaho, that state’s residents might have a hard time getting the doctor’s recommendation to buy from a Washington dispensary.

The Clarkston city council will revisit its moratorium later this year. Jackson hopes it can be convinced to drop the moratorium and go after “marijuana tourism”, billing the area as a destination for people who want to fish, spend time on the rivers or visit nearby Hell’s Canyon – and have a chance to enjoy a recreational drug illegal most other places.

“Tourism is going to go crazy,” he predicted.

The three applicants in Pullman are clustered within a few feet of each other, and less than seven miles from the Idaho border. But interstate commerce isn’t likely the main concern of proposed stores on Southeast Bishop Boulevard. They’re also less than half a mile away from the Stadium Boulevard entrance to Washington State University. Underclassmen take note: The law requires customers to be at least 21, and for the stores to check IDs.

In the Spokane area, applicants making it through the lottery are heavily concentrated on North Division Street as well as East Trent and East Sprague avenues.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one selected in the lottery are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division Street, two on East Francis Avenue and one on North Ralph Street. One applicant just south of I-90 is on South Lewis Street.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague Avenue, with two of them listing the same address on the 9800 block. The rest of the county has seven possible locations, with two more on East Trent Avenue in Millwood as well as the three in Newman Lake. Another is on North Division Street beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne Street.

Carpenter, the liquor board spokesman, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of would-be retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

For a list of applicants in Spokane, Pend Oreille, Whitman and Asotin counties that received the “go ahead” from the Liquor Control Board to develop retail marijuana stores, click here to continue inside the blog.

And the pot lottery winners are. . .


OLYMPIA — Marijuana retail stores in the Spokane area could be heavily concentrated on North Division, East Trent and East Sprague, based on the results of the state lottery.

The Washington Liquor Control Board this morning released the results of the double-blind lottery for most of the 334 licenses for recreational marijuana stores. Drawing a number doesn't guarantee the holder of opening a store, but it gives them a chance to secure a lease and proceed with setting up an operation that will be inspected by board staff. Those who pass inspections for such things as security, training and tracking procedures will be allowed to open. If any lottery winner fails to pass all inspections, the next applicant on the list will be given the opportunity.

The City of Spokane is allotted eight stores, and all but one of the lottery winners are north of Interstate 90. Four are on North Division, two on East Francis and one on North Ralph. The lone south side store could be on South Lewis.

All three Spokane Valley stores would be on East Sprague, with two of them listing the same address.

Mikhail Carpenter, a spokesman for the liquor board, said in cases where the same address is held by two applicants, a landlord could decide which he or she wanted for a tenant, and the other applicant would be able to find a new location — possibly in one of the locations of wouldbe retailers who weren't drawn in the lottery — and open there.

Outside those two cities, the county at large has seven possible locations, and five would be on East Trent. Another is on North Division beyond the city limits, and the seventh is on North Hawthorne.

The applications were awarded through a lottery operated by a Seattle accounting firm and Washington State University. 

For a list of the addresses, go inside the blog.


Pot lottery ‘winners’ revealed Friday

The original logo for legal recreational marijuana in Washington, which was developed for the Liquor Control Board but never officially used. But we kind of like it, anyway. 

OLYMPIA – More than 300 businesses that get the first crack at opening the state’s recreational marijuana stores will be announced Friday.

The state Liquor Control Board will publish a list of applicants selected through lotteries to finish the process for obtaining a marijuana retailer license, as well as those who are in cities or counties which didn’t have more requests than the limits set by the board last year. .  .

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

Inslee names Yu to state Supreme Court

Inslee and Yu arrive at the Temple of Justice where Inslee announced her appointment to an opening on the state Supreme Court.

OLYMPIA — In his first appointment to the state Supreme Court, Gov. Jay Inslee replaced that court's most conservative member with its first Asian-American, Latina openly gay member.

Inslee named King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu as the replacement for Justice Jim Johnson, who is stepping down in the middle of his term for health reasons. Yu will have to run for the seat in this year's elections.

In making the announcement, Inslee praised Yu as a judge with great intellect, dedication and compassion and “her personal story adds a unique perspective that is important as our state’s demographics continue to shift.” 

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


Inslee to name high court appointee at noon

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee is scheduled to name his choice to fill an opening on the state Supreme Court at noon today.

Inslee plans to make the announcement in the Temple of Justice, the Supreme Court building across from the state Capitol Building. He'll be naming a replacement for Justice Jim Johnson, who stepped down because of health concerns. Johnson's last day was Wednesday.

The appointee will have to run in this year's election


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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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