July 28, 2013 in City

Spin Control: Boeing’s latest move causes little uproar

By The Spokesman-Review
 

OLYMPIA – The dog days of the summer around the state capital are not as uniformly sunny as in Eastern Washington. But morning fog and low clouds – a pattern Seattle’s television weather heads describe with the more elegant-sounding title “marine layer” – give way to bright warm afternoons during which it is difficult to work up much fervor over anything.

So it seemed last week as Republicans made a half-hearted stab at playing the latest round of “who’s losing Boeing?” after the aerospace giant said it will move some 375 engineering jobs to California. When Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001 and built a 787 production line in South Carolina in 2009, there were major political earthquakes.

This time there were some predictable complaints about workers’ compensation costs and a business-unfriendly climate. But readings on the political Richter scale were much lower.

It could be that the engineering slots, while admittedly good-paying jobs, are much smaller than an entire assembly line and less prestigious than a world headquarters.

Maybe the standard complaints about Washington’s relative job competitiveness – high labor costs, high development costs, big government bureaucracy – don’t work as well when the boogeyman is California. Or that something Boeing reportedly wanted from the late, great Legislature was a transportation package that the Senate Republicans helped scuttle. Or that another thing which could make Senate Republicans into Boeing’s BFF is something they can’t deliver: turning Washington into a right-to-work state.

Sen. Mike Baumgartner, R-Spokane, tried that last one during the first special session, but no one else even signed on to his bill. Where’s the love in that?

Maybe there’s even some realization that Boeing’s a big multinational company and when it needs to move pieces around the operational chess board, it’s going to do that no matter how many nice things the state does for it.

A bridge too far out?

Meanwhile, at the secretary of state’s office, someone filed an initiative to rename the fallen and resurrected Skagit River Bridge for initiative entrepreneur Tim Eyman. But that produced mostly yawns.

Sponsor Nicholas Santos, of Bothell, seems to want to draw negative attention to Eyman’s tax-cutting initiatives without realizing that for Eyman attention is its own reward, whether negative or positive. Something like this helps burnish his reputation while making his opponents look small.

It’s not a completely new idea, as colleague Jerry Cornfield of the Herald of Everett noted. The meme has kicked around the Internet since a Daily Kos writer suggested sticking Eyman’s moniker on the bridge the day after the incident. The collapse was caused by a truck hauling an oversized load hitting an upper span.

Santos paid $5 to turn the idea into an initiative but says he has neither the resources nor the expertise to get the nearly 250,000 valid signatures needed to send it to the Legislature.

That’s probably just as well, considering it has a few technical problems:

• It would name the span the Tim Eyman Memorial Bridge, a designation reserved for the dearly departed. Based on my email inbox, Eyman is very much alive.

• It describes the highway from Vancouver to the Canadian border as state route 5. That’s actually Interstate 5; Washington doesn’t have a state route 5.

Pink Flamingo guest

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers has a guest for an upcoming Spokane fundraiser who’s sure to delight Republicans and inflame Democrats.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is scheduled to attend her annual Pink Flamingo Barbecue on Aug. 8.

Cantor is a few rungs above McMorris Rodgers on the House GOP leadership ladder, but the two share many positions, both on political issues and in the line behind Speaker John Boehner when leadership turns out for a news conference.

Tickets for the barbecue are a relatively modest $40 per person. Tickets for a chance to have a photo taken with Cantor are $250 each. Tickets for the 30-minute “Host Committee Reception” before the photo shoot are $1,000 per couple.

Tickets for the 30-minute “Roundtable Discussion” before the reception are $2,600 per couple. For the extra $1,600, you’d probably want to be able to talk fast.

Spin Control, a weekly column by political reporter Jim Camden, also appears online with daily items and reader comments at www.spokesman.com/blogs/spincontrol.

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