Arrow-right Camera
News >  WA Government

Spin Control: Almost everything gets a special spot on the calendar. How about orcas?

In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, Wash. With just 73 whales left, the fragile population of endangered Puget Sound orcas is at a 30-year low. Washington state lawmakers are pitching a number of measures to save them from extinction. (Elaine Thompson / AP)
In this Jan. 18, 2014, file photo, an endangered female orca leaps from the water while breaching in Puget Sound west of Seattle, Wash. With just 73 whales left, the fragile population of endangered Puget Sound orcas is at a 30-year low. Washington state lawmakers are pitching a number of measures to save them from extinction. (Elaine Thompson / AP)

In the summertime, it’s sometimes hard to tell what day it is, let alone week or month.

This is not to suggest people seem to being losing track of whether it is Wednesday or Thursday, June or July. It’s just that it’s getting harder and harder to keep up with all the designated days, weeks or months set aside to honor, remember or raise awareness about different causes, and fit them into an overfull calendar. For example, last Thursday was National Asking Saves Kids Day, which falls during National Gun Violence Awareness Month, as well as being the summer solstice and June 21.

Then there are the ones that get proposed with fanfare, but never really get done.

On Thursday an email announced that two of Washington’s esteemed members of Congress, Democratic Reps. Denny Heck and Derek Kilmer, had introduced a resolution to declare a National Orca Protection Month.

The iconic marine mammals in Puget Sound are much in need of protection, with the Southern Resident orcas down to 73, the lowest level in decades. The Legislature took a swing at saving orcas earlier this year, with bills to increase patrols to protect the critters, particularly the young ones, during whale-watching season. But they had to settle for setting aside $1.5 million for recovery efforts, with some extra money to enforce restrictions on boat traffic around them, boost hatchery production of the fish they eat and set aside money for an “action plan” for whale recovery.

Gov. Jay Inslee wiped that money out with his veto pen, arguing that it did not “fully cover the costs of important work needed to begin the recovery of this iconic species.” But Inslee told the Department of Fish and Wildlife to use $650,000 to put up some fish screens, conduct public outreach and support a killer whale recovery task force.

After all, nothing says “we really, really care” like a task force.

So the orcas definitely could use some help from Congress, since the state’s commitment to one of its most recognizable critters could be seen as somewhat lacking. One might say that setting aside a special month for orcas is the least that Congress could do.

But one would be wrong. It can, and almost certainly will, do less. Heck and Kilmer introduced the resolution Friday to name June as National Orca Protection Month. So more than two-thirds of the month was gone before the ink on the resolution was dry. Plus the measure has to go to a committee before it can get a House vote.

Orcas can hold their breath a relatively long time, but not long enough to see any help from the resolution. Heck and Kilmer introduced a similar resolution last year to declare June 2017 National Orca Protection Month. It went to the Committee on Government Reform and Oversight, which has been keeping kind of busy trying to figure out whether the Deep State has infested the FBI, the Russians rigged the 2016 election and the head of the EPA has any scruples.

The 2017 resolution sank without a trace.

Yo ho ho, skip the bottle of rum

Speaking of maritime topics, boaters should be warned that next weekend, state and local law enforcement will be taking part in a national effort of “emphasis patrols” to detect BUI.

That’s Boating Under the Influence for landlubbers.

The effort, somewhat incomprehensibly, is called Operation Dry Water. After all, if the water is dry, it’s not water at all and thus not a good medium for operating a boat. On the other hand, if a martini is dry, it’s prepared properly but you shouldn’t be drinking one while operating a boat.

The goal of Operation Dry Water is to make people aware of some grim statistics, such as drinking or doing drugs is the leading contributor to fatal boating accidents nationwide, was a primary factor in 44 percent of fatal boating accidents in the state, and the cause of 57 boating deaths between 2006 and 2016 in Washington.

In Washington state, it’s illegal to operate a boat when impaired by drugs or alcohol. That includes kayaks, canoes and inflatable rafts as well as motorboats or sailboats. If a law enforcement officer orders you to take a breath or blood test, you can be fined up to $2,050 for refusing. The penalty for BUI is a fine of up to $5,000 and 364 days in jail.

Law enforcement usually does an emphasis patrol around July Fourth, which is sort of the height of the drinking and boating season.

Also off the ballot

Last week’s column explained that Zamboni John Scannell was disqualified from a state Supreme Court race because he had been disbarred. An alert reader noted that Stanley Lippmann, another disbarred lawyer running for a different seat on the court, was similarly bounced from the ballot.

Spin Control didn’t mean to give Lippmann short shrift. It’s just that Scannell has a longer history of unsuccessful races for the court.


Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter

Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter

There was a problem subscribing you to the newsletter. Double check your email and try again, or email webteam@spokesman.com

You have been successfully subscribed!