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Spin Control

Nethercutt: Cantor loss is warning to GOP leaders

Former Rep. George Nethercutt, who pulled off his own dramatic unlikely Congressional victory 20 years ago unseating Speaker of the House Tom Foley, of Spokane, said Tuesday he could see parallels between his experience and that of David Brat.

“It’s a message, as I look at it, to all members of the House: You’ve got to pay attention to what people at home are saying,” Nethercutt said.

Calling Majority Leader Eric Cantor a “rising young star” and “a bright young guy,” Nethercutt said it’s possible the Virginia Republican got too wrapped up in his leadership role and lost sight of his constituents’ wishes. He said he doesn’t want to see the same happen to Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who currently heads the House Republican Caucus and is a fixture at press events with Cantor and other GOP leaders. Her office did not respond to a request for comment on Cantor’s loss late Tuesday.

McMorris Rodgers, chairwoman of the House Republican Caucus, is the fourth-highest ranking member of Congress, behind the Speaker of the House, Majority Leader and Majority Whip.

“Anybody from Eastern Washington needs to pay attention to the voters at home,” Nethercutt said.

Inslee heading to UK, Finland

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee and folks from the state Department of Commerce are heading to jolly old England next month where Washington has a booth at the Farnborough Air Show.

The United Kingdom and France sort of alternate the big European air shows, holding it in Farnborough one year and Paris the next. State officials like to put in an appearance to support Washington's big aerospace industry, in hopes of making it even bigger. Inslee will be there for opening day, July 14, to throw out the first pitch, cut the ribbon or what ever one does to open an air show exhibit.

Not to waste a trip “across the pond” on a single stop, Inslee will make a stop in Helsinki, Finland to meet with the Nordic Council of Ministers and visit Nokia, which had its mobile devices and services businesses bought up by Microsoft this spring. He'll also tour a renewable diesel refinery and meet with companies that might be interested in investing in Washington.

Full details of the trip, contained in the press release from Inslee's office, can be found inside the blog.

Sunday Spin: Inslee to pass on Hoopfest ‘14

OLYMPIA – For the second year in a row, Gov. Jay Inslee won’t be able to make good on a post-election promise to come to Spokane to play in Hoopfest.

Inslee, an admitted hoop-aholic, played in the 2012 tournament during the gubernatorial campaign, and made what seemed like an easy-to-keep promise on Inauguration Day to return with a team as governor. He repeated the promise a few weeks later to the Greater Spokane Inc. lobbying contingent, saying he planned to double the number of victories from the previous year. (Not a high goal, considering they won one.)

But the Legislature went into double overtime in 2013, and didn’t have a budget by the last weekend of June, which meant state government faced a partial shutdown on July 1. So Inslee had to stick close to the Capitol for budget talks rather than hitting the half-court.

This year the Legislature finished on time and the living is easy in Olympia. During the mile walk for his annual pre-fire season test, he talked of plans to participate in the 100-mile Wenatchee Apple Century Bike Ride.

Got a team ready for Hoopfest this year, he was asked.

“I have to work that weekend,” he said, shaking his head. He’s out of state at a Democratic Governors Association meeting that weekend, his staff said. 

Lege committees hit Spokane June 17

The Senate Energy and Environment Committee comes east for a June 17 hearing on possible legislation to control oil trains. Leaders of the House and Senate Joint Transportation Committees will talk about freight and regional transportation priorities the same day, then do two-day bus tour through Eastern Washington to talk about rail projects.

The oil train hearing starts at 10:30 a.m. at Spokane City Hall and the transportation hearing at 1 p.m. at the Convention Center. The bus tour’s tentative schedule starts bright and early June 18, and includes Spokane and Spokane Valley, the international airport, Airway Heights, Rosalia, Pullman, Colfax and Ritzville.

Legislators are fond of saying they like to get out, meet with the people and hear what they have to say. It’s possible that after the bus tour, members of the Transpo Committee will be looking more kindly on proposals to allow remote testimony for hearings via teleconferencing, videoconferencing or the Internet.

Not only would it save Eastern Washington constituents from having to make that long trip through a mountain pass during the winter to give them a piece of their minds during the session, it could cut down on some odysseys between sessions.

Of course they’d miss some of the perks of being out and about in person, like the tours of grain elevators planned for the Transpo bus tours.

Fund-raiser out of bounds, or just out of boundaries?

Central Washington's 4th Congressional District race may be so crowded that it can't quite hold all the candidate events for the campaign.

Republican Janea Holmquist has a fund-raiser in Ellensburg this weekend, which is in Kittitas County. The flyer for the event says she's “worked hard for Kittitas County and it won't stop when she is in Congress.”

Seems strange, one critic e-mailed, considering that Kittitas County isn't in the 4th District. Used to be, but that changed in 2012 when the redistricting commission redrew the lines. But the county is in Holmquist's legislative district. 

Campaign manager Joyce Mathews said some longtime constituents from her time in the Legislature wanted to throw a fund-raiser to show their support. As for the suggestion that she'd be a “strong voice for Kittitas County”, as the flyer also promises, Mathews said Holmquist is familiar with Central Washington issues, which are the same in Kittitas as in neighboring counties in the 4th District. 

“She knows the votes aren't coming out if Kittitas,” Mathews said. “We clearly know where the boundaries are.” 

Holmquist is one of 12 candidates vying for Rep. Doc Hastings' old seat — eight Republicans, two Democrats and two independents.

AG: Same-sex spouses to be covered in business health plans

OLYMPIA — Businesses that offer health coverage to opposite-sex spouses must also offer it to same-sex spouses, state officials said today. Insurance plans must offer equal coverage to all spouses.

Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler and Human Rights Commission Executive Director Sharon Ortiz issued an open letter today to the state's employers, insurance companies and benefit plan administrators that state law requires same-sex and opposite-sex spouses to be offered equal health coverage. Otherwise they run afoul of the state laws that ban discrimination based on sexual orientation.

The letter follows on the heels of an agreement the attorney general's office reached with O'Reilly Automotive Inc. this spring to extent health benefits to same-sex couples after the state received a consumer protection complaint. It's not possible to send the letter to every employer in the state, Ferguson said, so the three held a joint press conference and sent the information to various e-mail lists.

The state banned discrimination based on sexual orientation in 2006, and voters approved a law legalizing same-sex marriage in 2012.

Ferguson said his office had only one other complaint of a company not providing health care benefits to same-sex partners and “can't take a guess” on how many others might be violating the law. But if O'Reilly, a large national company with what he termed sophisticated legal advice could be out of compliance, others could, too. He urged anyone facing discrimination on benefits for spouses to contact his office. 

Kreidler said letters were going out to the 48 insurance companies operating in the state, although his office has not received any complaints about carriers failing to offer benefits to same-sex couples. While it's possible an employer could drop benefits for opposite-sex spouses to comply with the law, the financial impact of covering the additional spouses is relatively minor, he added.

Practicing for fire season

Inslee deploys a fire shelter during a practice session near the Capitol.

OLYMPIA — With wildfire season approaching, Gov. Jay Inslee used an annual exercise to push for more controls on carbon emissions, saying forest fires will get worse in Washington if the nation doesn't cut greenhouse gases.

The state is facing what Inslee called “the three horses of the fire Apocalypse” – drought, heat and beetle infestation killing trees – and doubled its wildfire fighting budget this year. The number of wildfires in Washington could quadruple by 2030 if steps aren’t taken to reduce carbon pollution and slow climate change, he said. . . 

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

Today’s fun video: Slamming liberals for fighting science

 

The Daily Show points out that it's not just conservatives who fight science. Liberals can be virulently anti-science, too, just not on the same topics.

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.

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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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