All politics and election news

Shawn Vestal: Lawmakers have authority to fund schools, not necessarily ability

The Washington Supreme Court has diagnosed the illness correctly. But the justices must wish they could prescribe a different treatment. The court has held the Legislature in contempt of court for its failure to produce a stable, long-term funding plan for the state’s schools. The justices ruled in 2012 that lawmakers were violating their constitutional obligation to amply fund the schools – violating the rights of the state’s children, in essence. Read more

Planned Parenthood responds to weekend protests

The organization says this weekend’s events represent continued political attacks from “fundamentalist extremists.” Read more

Planned Parenthood rally in Spokane draws hundreds

Protesters accuse group of selling fetal tissue for profit and funding abortion with taxpayer dollars. The beleaguered agency has denied those claims. Read more

Shawn Vestal: It seems likely City Council will keep its liberal majority

In the wake of last week’s primary election, there is a much more interesting question than whether Mayor David Condon will hang on for a second term. Will the City Council’s liberal, veto-proof supermajority stand? Or will it be demoted to a simple majority? Or will it be bolstered even further, to a “super-duper” majority? Read more

Shawn Vestal: Washington state gas tax a tale of two votes

Today we have a tale of two votes – a Republican yes and a Republican no for a state package that will bring $1 billion in new transportation investments to Spokane and raise the gas tax by almost 12 cents a gallon. On one hand, Sen. Michael Baumgartner – whom the conventional wisdom pegs as a blunt and sometimes pugilistic battler – emerged from this year’s legislative session having worked alongside local Democrats to pull a lot of money to the dry side of the state, including the final funding for the North Spokane Corridor. Baumgartner took perhaps the toughest vote a Republican can take these days, voting yes on a tax, but he says the benefits for his district carried the day. Read more

Hearing set on adding two more to Spokane County Commission

Spokane County is closer than it’s been in years to expanding its governing body. The public will have a chance Tuesday to tell the three sitting commissioners why voters should be allowed to consider increasing their ranks by two, following a public shift from Commissioner Shelly O’Quinn earlier this year calling for more representation. She had previously said she wanted to see the petition signatures necessary to put the issue on the ballot before weighing in. Read more

Ballot error could cause election re-do in Canyon County

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: CALDWELL, Idaho (AP) — An Idaho city may have to redo its school board election after officials found problems with ballots in one district. The Idaho Press-Tribune reports ( ) that the Canyon County Elections Office announced… Read more

Coeur d’Alene School Board election: Terri Seymour versus Tambra Pickford

Coeur d’Alene School District Trustee Terri Seymour considered not running for a second term. She wanted to spend more time with her children. “It was tough at times when I wasn’t able to attend some of their sports activities because I had a board meeting that lasted for six hours after I’d be at work all day,” Seymour said. Read more

CdA voters to weigh public safety bond issue next week

A $1.4 million ladder truck and three fire engines costing almost $600,000 apiece are the big-ticket items in a proposed public safety bond measure going before Coeur d’Alene voters next week. The city is asking for $6 million over 10 years, mainly to buy fire vehicles but also for some police needs. A similar tax measure approved in 2005 expires this year, and the city says property owners will see their taxes go down a bit even if the new bonds are approved. Read more

Airway Heights mayor downplays ‘minor’ school bus accident

Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing suspects politics are behind increased interest in a noninjury crash involving a school bus he drove in January. “You know the saying, ‘Hold your friends close and your enemies closer’; I take that to heart,” Rushing said Thursday. Read more

Airway Heights mayor says bus incident tied to politics

Airway Heights Mayor Patrick Rushing said Thursday he believes political opponents are behind efforts to play up what he called a “minor vehicle accident’ that took place in January while he was driving a Medical Lake School District bus. Read more

Idaho voters back schools

North Idaho voters were in a generous mood Tuesday, approving school tax measures from Bonners Ferry to St. Maries. The Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls school districts had strong voter support for replacing two-year supplemental operating levies, and Post Falls voters also passed a major school construction bond measure. Read more

Women’s pay 78 percent of men’s in Washington state

Spokane City Councilwoman Candace Mumm is all too familiar with the conditions that have led women workers in Washington state to make 78 cents on the dollar compared to their male counterparts. As a young nightly TV news anchor in South Dakota, Mumm was tasked with writing scripts, producing shows and appearing in front of the camera. In spite of those tasks – above and beyond those of her male co-anchor – Mumm earned $10,000 less annually, she said. Read more

Post Falls to vote on school levy, bond

Population growth in Post Falls was putting pressure on its schools a decade ago, but officials held off asking voters for help when the economy soured and was slow to rebound. “It’s time,” Superintendent Jerry Keane said. “We delayed it as long as we can.” Read more

Shawn Vestal: Too quick to mock lawmaker for anatomy query

As someone who initially gloried in the apparent idiocy of Vito Barbieri and his tiny-camera question, I think it might be time for a second opinion: Vito was wronged. Barbieri – whose political ship tacks right so hard that it goes in circles – was saying something ridiculous while questioning a doctor on a bill that would ban doctors from overseeing abortions by videoconference. But it is very, very unlikely that he does not know that a pill swallowed by mouth does not proceed to the vagina, and it is very, very likely that he was posing a rhetorical question, and not a literal one, however inartfully he did it. Read more

Coeur d’Alene School District voters to decide on two-year levy

At Lakes Magnet Middle School north of downtown Coeur d’Alene, a small room inside the main office is piled high with obsolete textbooks. A larger room one floor up is stacked with hundreds more, some more than 10 years old. New, relevant instructional materials that align to the latest educational standards and curricula are one of the priorities of a $15 million-a-year school levy the Coeur d’Alene School District has on the March 10 ballot. Read more

Editorial: Prepaid postage for ballots would boost voter participation

Washington should try putting the “mail” in mail-in voting by providing prepaid postage on ballot envelopes. Despite a relatively high turnout rate compared with other states, too many Washington voters are losing or discarding the ballots that are their tickets to full participation in our democracy. In November, returns collapsed to less than 40 percent of eligible voters for only the third time since 1958, and the first time since mail-in voting became the rule for all Washington elections. Read more

Spin Control: Weighing candidates’, voters’ return on election investment

How much should a reasonable person spend to secure a $42,000-a-year job? A job with pretty good benefits, like a strong health care plan, generous expenses for food and lodging, and a decent pension – if you keep the bosses happy and they keep you around for a while. It’s mostly inside work, no heavy lifting, although you may have to spend time with people who disagree with you, and some who can be downright disagreeable. You have to agree to work 105 days straight, although no one ever does. There’s no clock to punch, and no one docks your pay if you don’t show up on one or even most of those days. Read more

More men than women voted in November in Washington

Washington’s 2014 general election may go down in the books as the year of the male Republican voter. For the first time in a while – it’s not quite clear how long – more men cast ballots in Washington than women. Not just for all voters, but in every age group broken down by state elections officials. Read more

Idaho’s longtime Secretary of State Ysursa to retire

BOISE – After 40 years in state government, Ben Ysursa has strong opinions about how things ought to work in Idaho – and how, on occasion, they have. For example, when both of the state’s political parties came together, they successfully passed a ballot measure to create the College of Western Idaho, now the state’s fastest-growing community college. Read more