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Time running out for voters

If you haven't voted in the Washington state primary, but have been meaning to, you are running out of time.

The deadline to get those ballots marked, sealed and mailed, or sealed and deposited in a drop box, is 8 p.m. Tuesday.

If you are mailing it in, remember that it's not when you drop it in the mailbox that counts. It's when the U.S. Postal Service post marks it.

So rather than dropping it in a remote maibox on Tuesday afternoon on the way home from work, you might want to stop by the Post Office and have them postmark it. Or save yourself a stamp and put it in a drop box.

In Spokane County, drop boxes can be found at the public libraries, as well as the STA Plaza in downtown Spokane, and county Elections Office at 1033 W. Gardner.

On Tuesday, Spokane County will also have voter service centers at key locations where you can go for help if you lost your ballot, never got a ballot even though you are registered, or spilled coffee on your ballot or did something else to it that could keep the scanner from reading it.

Locations of the voter service centers can be found inside the blog.

How excited are voters for the primary?

U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell talks with Daryl Romeyn, a candidate for Spokane County commissioner, at the county Democratic Party's fund-raiser in Riverfront Park.

Every couple of weeks, some national pundit or cable news talking head ruminates about the “enthusiasm gap” for a certain set of voters.

Sometimes the gap is diagnosed among Democrats, who were oh so excited to vote for Barack Obama in 2008, but now, not so much. Other times the gap is prognosticated among Republicans who backed a different candidate in the primaries and now the best they can say about Mitt Romney is “at least he's better than Obama.”

If there is an enthusiasm gap in Spokane, it may be for a primary that takes place the first full week in August. This observation comes not from polling or deep analysis of ballot returns (cursory analysis, however, says they are nothing to brag about) but from a brief stop at the Spokane County Democrats' salmon bake and Obama birthday celebration Saturday night.

Normally, if you put together a warm clear summer night on the north bank of the Spokane River, offered baked salmon and  liquid refreshments whose containers must reveal their alcoholic content, you could draw a decent crowd of Democrats. Throw in the chance to see the party's U.S. Senate candidate, the wife of its gubernatorial candidate and a passel of other local office seekers, and offer cupcakes to mark the president turning 51, you could count on what used to be called a rip-snorter of a time. 

Saturday's turnout was, in the view of several longtime Ds there, disappointing. Not abysmal, but not outstanding, either. Sen. Maria Cantwell and other candidates dutifully worked the crowd. Supporters of one or another of the Democrats in that crowded 3rd Legislative District state rep race eyed each other warily, and asked those on the sidelines “Who do you think will win?”

(My answer at various times: 1. I live 300 miles away; I don't know. 2. It may come down to turnout. 3. It's possible the two Republicans could split the GOP vote in such a way that two Democrats will make it into the general. 4. The wild card could be the Tea Party vote. 5. The wild card could be the Christian Conservative vote. 6.  It could depend the independent vote in Hillyard, or the lower South Hill, or the northwest part of the district. 7. Ask me who will win the state treasurer's race. There's only one candidate in that one. I actually believe any combination of 2 through 6 could happen, but 1 and 7 are the only things I'm sure of.)

The real problem for the salmon bake may be the problem for the primary. It's summertime, and the living is easy, as “George Gershwin once astutely observed. Easy living does not often galvanize people to political action. (Editor's note: Earlier version of this post wrongly attributed the lyricist of the song until an alert reader pointed out our mistake.)

 A weekend political event must compete with a trip to the lake place or the favorite campsite or that promised trip to grandma's, or even a backyard barbecue. Yes, the ballots were mailed out some two weeks ago, but for voters who've been gone on some multi-week peregrination and are just returning from the mountains or parks or beaches or Disneyland or wherever, they are tucked in among the bills, the offers of new credit cards, back-to-school ads and outdated magazines.

Some uncast primary votes could easily be lost in the summer shuffle. If that's the case,  pundits may spend much time dissecting the upcoming returns for an enthusiasm gap. 

Sunday spin: Is this tanker tout accurate?

 

A reader had a question about a claim in a recent campaign commercial for Sen. Maria Cantwell, in which the incumbent Democrat touts her record on expanding aerospace jobs: “I also helped Boeing win the Air Force tanker contract worth billions.”

What gives? wrote a reader, who wondered if the contract even had been awarded.

It was, in 2011, after a torturous back and forth between Boeing and Airbus. It’s for more than $30 billion, so they pulled out all the stops, including heavy lobbying by officials of the places that stood to gain from the contract. Everyone from the Spokane business community to Gregoire to the state’s congressional delegation, Democrat and Republican, linked arms and said that the plane Boeing would use for the new tanker, a modified 767, was a wonderful aeronautical marvel and that Airbus A330 was a flying hunk of foreign junk.

Under the axiom that success has many fathers, Cantwell was a part of that lobbying effort.

But as taxpayers and people who may someday have the KC-46A flying over Spokane, we should fervently hope that the Air Force paid no attention to the lobbying, and picked the best plane for the mission. Or is that too naïve?

Farris releases 10 years’ tax returns, calls on Labrador to do the same

Idaho 1st District Congressional candidate Jimmy Farris released 10 years of his income tax returns today, and called on incumbent Congressman Raul Labrador to do the same. Labrador immediately rebuffed the request. “He just said, 'No comment,'” said Labrador's campaign spokeswoman, China Gum.

Farris, at a news conference in downtown Meridian, declared, “In the spirit of George Romney and Frank Church, I think it's important that our elected officials show the utmost amount of transparency.” Romney, father of current GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney, famously released 12 years of his tax returns when he was running for president in 1967.

Longtime Idaho Sen. Frank Church released his tax returns not only when he ran for president in 1976, but throughout his many years in the Senate. His widow, Bethine Church, recalled Thursday, “His colleagues got sort of mad at him over it, because it put the pressure on them. … He just thought it was fair that people know where his money was coming from. … He said it was important to have his integrity.”

Farris, a former NFL football player and Lewiston native, released tax returns from 2001 to 2010 that cover the entire arc of his professional football career, from his rookie year with the New England Patriots in 2001 when his wages were $70,020, to his peak earning year with the Atlanta Falcons in 2004, when he earned more than $350,000. A Spokesman-Review analysis of his returns shows he paid more than $73,000 in taxes in 2004, 21 percent of his earnings that year, and donated $62,443 to charity, nearly 18 percent of his income.

Over the 10 years, the analysis showed, he donated $204,526 to charity, mainly through church programs; in 2006, he gave nearly a quarter of his income to charity.

“One of the reasons why I'm running is because of the importance of giving back and paying it forward and doing what I can to help people,” Farris said. “One of the things you'll see in my tax returns is a significant amount of charitable contributions that I've made. They are in line with what I've said before, that I really, really value helping out and giving a hand to people.” You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.
  

More words for the Nov. 6 ballot

OLYMPIA — Voters get to weigh in on two more ballot measures in November, a pair of advisory votes on changes to tax law the Legislature approved this year.

One involves petroleum taxes, the other involves a tax break for large banks on mortgages.

They're advisory votes, so the Legislature isn't bound by them. They're required by Initiative 960.

They will add about 16 pages to the state Voter's Guide, which will be coming out in the fall.

To read the ballot language, go inside the blog.

McKenna: Limit other spending to boost education

Washington could spend more money on its public schools and colleges by limiting the growth in other state expenses and changing the way some property taxes are collected, a gubernatorial candidate said Tuesday.

Republican hopeful Rob McKenna released new details of his plans to increase spending on education, with an extra $1.25 billion for public schools and $437 million for colleges in the first two years of his tenure.

After McKenna discussed the details in a pair of one-hour meetings with reporters, a spokeswoman for Jay Inslee, his chief Democratic rival, called it “empty promises.” The plan won't generate the revenue he expects, Jaime Smith said in a press release.

The state is under a Supreme Court mandate . . .

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

Primary turnout could be low

The presidential campaign has been in the news for months and political commercials are starting to crowd other products off the airwaves, but Washington's voters seem less enthusiastic than normal about next month's state primary.
Ballots that were mailed to overseas and military voters in late June and the rest of the state almost two weeks ago are coming back less quickly than normal in some counties, including Spokane.
Returns through the Monday are behind the pace for the same period in 2008, the last state primary in a presidential election year, data from Spokane County Elections Office show. They also trail returns for most primaries since.
“We wish we had more in,” Mike McLaughlin, supervisor of elections, said Monday…
  

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

A site for endorsements

With the Aug. 7 primary approaching, some harried voters are looking for all help possible to help them decide among the long list of candidates, many of them unknown, for offices, many of them unfamiliar.

Spokesman.com has the Election Center which gives you information about the candidates' background and issues. Now, we also have a link to a page for the newspaper's endorsements.

This is not to suggest that Spin Control believes you should vote your ballot the way the newspaper endorses.

For one thing, it's not really possible, because in many races the editorial board picks two candidates, and you only get to choose one.

For another, we realize that while some people may would look to the newspaper's sage advice for guidance in selecting a candidate, at least as many — and probably more — look at a Spokesman-Review endorsement and immediately vote the other way.

We're just collecting all of the endorsements in one place, as a service to our readers. What you do with them is up to you.

We've got no stake in the endorsements to begin with, because reporters don't sit in on the discussions before endorsements are made, and don't pay attention to them after they are published. 

Gubernatorial debates in the ‘hustings’

The Vancouver gubernatorial debate on Aug 29 will be at the Washington State University-Vancouver campus, and has a long list of sponsors including the local ports, the public schools, development councils, newspapers, civic and business groups. So many that it might be quicker to say who wasn’t on board, which is, apparently, nobody.
Troy Van Dinter, who has the job of herding cats for the debate, said it’s the first gubernatorial debate in the Vancouver area that anyone involved can remember. It will be televised by Portland station KATU, and may be picked up by stations in Seattle and Spokane.
The Yakima gubernatorial debate will take place during a conference of Hispanic chambers of commerce on Oct. 2, and be televised KCTS, Seattle’s public television station, which is supplying the moderator, Enrique Cerna. It might be picked up by other public television stations across the state.
  

Same-sex marriage campaign gets $2.5 million boost

OLYMPIA — Supporters of a ballot measure to ratify same-sex marriage in Washington state received $2.5 million from the founder of Amazon.com, the campaign announced today.

Washington United for Marriage, which is pushing Referendum 74 on the Nov. 6 ballot, announced  the contribution from Jeff and Mackenzie Bezos this morning. A spokesman said it was the largest single donation to a campaign to legalize same-sex marriage in the country.

It also more than doubles the campaign's total contributions, to about $4.8 million and shows continuing support from the state's high-tech executives. The campaign has also received contributions of $100,000 each from Microsoft's Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Preserve Marriage Washington, the group that gathered signatures to put the measure on the ballot and is urging a no vote to block same sex-marriage, has reported about $250,000 in contributions.

The Washington Legislature passed a bill legalizing marriage between same-sex couples early this year and it was signed by Gov. Chris Gregoire, who had announced her support for the change before the session started. But opponents quickly filed a referendum and gathered the needed signatures, placing the law on hold.

Six states — Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont — as well as Washington, D.C., have passed laws legalizing same-sex marriage, but no state has approved it through a ballot measure. Washington, Maryland and Maine have same-sex marriage proposals on statewide ballots this fall.

For the top donors to Washington United for Marriage and Preserve Marriage Washington campaigns, click here to go inside the blog.

Candidate Farris has TV ad, but still trying to raise the money to actually air it…

1st District Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris has a “buoyant” 60-second TV ad filmed and ready to go, but doesn't have the cash yet to actually run it, reports Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey. Popkey reports that Farris, a former NFL football player and Lewiston native, is hoping to tap his former teammates in a fundraising push. You can read Popkey's report here, and see Farris' ad here, which opens with the broad-shouldered young man on the state Capitol steps, saying, “People from small towns know how to dream big. … My dreams never included being a politician, but I always wanted to make a difference.”

Charter school measure makes November ballot

OLYMPIA — An initiative which will be the fourth attempt to get voter approval for charter schools will be on the November ballot.

Initiative 1240 has enough valid signatures to qualify for the Nov. 6 election, the Secretary of State's office said this afternoon.

Although supporters had a mere 21 days to collect signatures, they turned in about 115,000 more than the 241,000 needed to put an initiative on the ballot. They accomplished that largely with paid signature gatherers, paying almost $2.1 million to a California company, PCI Consultants.

The state Elections Division said a random sampling of the petitions showed a rejection rate of about 16 percent, resulting in I-1240 qualifying as the sixth ballot measure for this fall.

Under the initiative, a charter school would be a public school governed by a special board and operated under a special contract that outlines powers, responsibilities and performance expectations. As many as 40 such schools could be set up in the state over the next five years, either by public school districts or nonprofit organizations. The per-pupil allotment that a public school would get would go to the charter school for its students.

Voters have turned down charter school proposals in 1996, 2000 and 2004.  

TVW blasts Ferguson ad for AG

OLYMPIA – The Democratic candidate for state attorney general is being accused of violating TVW broadcast rules by using the government cable channel’s footage in his latest commercial.
The commercial for Bob Ferguson, which only appears on the Internet, features a brief video clip of his opponent, Republican Reagan Dunn, challenging a Ferguson allegation about poor attendance at King County Council meetings.
TVW broadcast the June 12 debate live from the Bing Crosby Theater in Spokane, and the full event remains available on the organization's website. But the network doesn’t  allow edited versions of any of its broadcasts to be used for campaigns, TVW President Greg Lane said…

To read the rest of this item, see the add or to comment, click here to go inside the blog
  

Home builders backing mostly GOP

The Spokane Home Builders Association released its list of candidate endorsements this week, and they're going mostly Republican.

Mike Baumgartner and Cathy McMorris Rodgers for Congress

Republicans for most statewide executive office, except for Democrat Jim McIntire for state treasurer, who has no Republican opponent.

Republicans in most Spokane-area legislative races except for Democrat Bob Apple, the former city councilman, in that crowded 3rd District House race. No endorsement in the other 3rd House race. They went for Jeff Holy for the open House seat in the 6th District, which has two other Republicans looking to replace John Ahern.

Incumbent Todd Mielke in the District 1 Spokane County commissioner race. Silent on the more hotly contested commissioner race, which features two Republicans, Shelly O'Quinn and County Treasurer Rob Chase.

Campaign video: Nastiest ad?

 

BuzzFeed describes this commercial, from the Texas Senate race, as the Nastiest Ad of the Campaign Cycle. Understood in that is most likely “to date” because there is quite a bit of time left in this cycle to get nastier.

Even so, using that superlative seems questionable. What do you think?

Today’s fun video: Romney is his hero

This is a very unusual political video.

It's pro-Romney, although not from the Romney campaign. In fact, the Obama campaign might send it out on their Twitter feed for a few grins.

But the guy really likes Romney, and really doesn't like Obama. That, and he seems to be standing in the middle of a stream while playing his keyboard…

Documents from Sunday’s story on Shea

Some readers of Sunday's story about Matt Shea's continuance of a charge of having a loaded handgun in his pickup without a valid concealed weapon permit, which stemmed from a “road rage” incident, have wondered why the story appeared now rather than in November when the incident occured, December when the charge was filed or January when the continuance was signed.

The answer is simple: We didn't know about it until Friday, when copies of documents were delivered to the newsroom in Spokane.

The news media is not given access to the daily police incident reports, like the one that was filed on this case on Nov. 25. We do receive daily reports from Municipal Court for our Official Records column, but only those convictions that result in jail time or a fine of $500 or more. This case was given a “Stipulated Order of Continuance” until next January, which means there will be no conviction if he doesn't have another criminal charge by then.

Because they are court records, they likely would have turned up  in the routine court checks we do for all candidates. But because Rep. Shea is in a primary with only one opponent, Democrat Amy Biviano, and both will advance to the general election regardless of the primary results, we have been concentrating on candidates in contested primaries at this point.

The documents arrived Friday. We checked Municipal Court records to verify they were authentic, and contacted Rep. Shea for a comment that afternoon, and held the story until he responded. Late Friday night, he directed us to his attorney, Bob Cossey, who we were unable to talk to until late Saturday afternoon and add them to the story, which then ran Sunday.

For readers who want more information about the documents, we're posting them here. Newspaper policy is to redact personal information, such as addresses, phone numbers and dates of birth, and I've done that with these documents.

To read Sunday's story, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.


Documents:

Both presidential campaigns head to Sun Valley for high-dollar fundraisers

The presidential campaign is on its way to Idaho, with both the Republican and Democratic candidates planning major fundraisers in Sun Valley - within a two-day span. Mitt Romney has a $1,000-a-head reception scheduled for the Sun Valley area on Aug. 3, possibly followed by a high-dollar dinner; Idaho Statesman columnist Dan Popkey reported here on that event. And now it turns out that the Obama campaign will hold a high-dollar reception and dinner in Ketchum the previous day, Aug. 2, featuring Vice President Joe Biden.

The Sun Valley area is a target for national campaign fundraisers because of its high-dollar givers to both parties. Republicans have captured the lion's share of Idaho donations so far in the 2012 presidential campaign, with Idahoans donating $1.3 million so far to Republican candidates, and $287,229 to Democrats, according to the Federal Election Commission. Donations to Romney accounted for $970,147 of the GOP giving; 100 percent of the Democratic giving went to Obama.

For the Obama Idaho fundraiser with Biden, attendees can pay $250 just to attend the reception, $1,000 for preferred seating there, or $2,500 for a photo reception; supporters can become dinner co-hosts for $10,000 to $50,000. Romney's event will be his fifth Idaho fundraiser. Neither has announced any public events in conjunction with the fundraisers.

Sunday Spin: Is Internet making politics better?

It’s not clear yet whether this year’s campaign staffs are hell bent on testing Marshall McLuhan’s theorem that “the medium is the message” or are so enamored with high tech that they think it’s the be-all and end-all of politics.
Last week, a member of Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna’s campaign went from paid staffer to suspended staffer to fired staffer in the span of three days. Kathlyn Ehls had typed messages into Twitter that called for Asian Americans to “learn English” and senior citizens who walk too slowly across the street in front of her vehicle to “get a wheelchair.”
Ehls had tweeted these uncharitable thoughts months before going to work for the McKenna campaign. But the recent college graduate apparently was unaware, or forgot, the cardinal rule of venting in cyberspace: things on the Internet have a nasty habit of living forever and surfacing at inopportune times. These did, last Monday, on Seattle blogs.. .
  

Correction on candidate Q&A in today’s print edition

In today's print edition of The Spokesman-Review, an answer in the candidate questionnaire for the 6th District House seat being vacated by John Ahern was inadvertently cut.

Here is the question and the complete answer from candidate Ben Oakley:

4. Do you support the voter-approved rule that stipulates that the Legislature can only approve a tax increase when each chamber supports the increase with two-thirds majorities? Should the state Constitution be amended to require two-thirds votes to approve tax increases?

Yes, I support the will of the people who have repeatedly asked the Legislature to live within its means by requiring a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. The State’s General Fund has 7.5 percent more revenue this year over last year. We have the resources we need, but must reprioritize where we spend taxpayer dollars. I would also support the constitutional amendment requiring the two-thirds majority to raise taxes. Again, the voters have repeatedly spoken on the issue.

Here is Oakley's complete 15-topic Q&A.

Congressional candidates take stand on 15 topics

We have posted the answers to a Spokesman-Review candidate questionnaire from each of the four candidates for the Congressional seat representing Eastern Washington.

You can read the candidates' opinions on 15 topics, including taxes, same-sex marriage, immigration, marijuana, abortion and the North Spokane freeway at the following links:

Rich Cowan

Cathy McMorris Rodgers

Ian Moody

Randall Yearout

Another big Seattle payday for Obama?

President Barack Obama is scheduled to stop in Seattle next week, the third time in seven months he will visit the state's largest city to raise money.
His re-election campaign hasn't released many details of the trip yet. It’s a stop with two campaign fundraisers at the end of a Western swing that includes Nevada, California and Portland, Ore., then heads for New Orleans.
But if the pattern of previous trips holds, he can expect to rake in more than $1 million . . 

To read the rest of this post, or to comment, click here to go inside the blog.

Stuckart: I support Billig

Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said Thursday that he didn't give City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin permission to use a picture of him on a campaign mailer for state Senate.

McLaughlin, a Repbulican, is running for state Senate seat that represents central Spokane against Democratic state Rep. Andy Billig.

The mailer, which began arriving in mailboxes this week, includes a picture of McLaughlin with Stuckart, Mayor David Condon and council members Mike Allen, Mike Fagan and Steve Salvatori.

Stuckart said in an interview that the picture was taken at a bill signing earlier this year.

“I endorsed Andy Billig the day he declared for the state Senate,” Stuckart said in a written statement. “For Nancy's campaign to use my photo implies endorsement of her candidacy. I denounce this action. It is misleading and inappropriate for her to use a photo of me in a campaign mailer.”

McKenna adviser out for tweets

OLYMPIA — A policy adviser for Rob McKenna's gubernatorial campaign resigned today after apologizing for making derogatory remarks about Asians and the elderly on the Internet.

Kathlyn Ehls submitted her resignation, which campaign manager Randy Pepples said in a press release he accepted after she met with leaders of the campaign's Asian American Coalition. “It was important for her to thoroughly understand their feelings and to apologize to them for her comments,” he said.

In comments posted on Twitter several months before she joined the campaign, Ehls wrote Asians should “learn English” and that senior citizens who take too long to cross the street in front of her car should “get a wheelchair.”   (For an earlier post on this, click here.)

Ehls' termination was at the top of a list for a “true mea culpa” that a group describing itself “Concernd Asian Pacific Islanders” was demanding as it announced plans to protest outside McKenna's headquarters today. Other items on the list included “not wage war on unions”, support for same-sex marriage and the Affordable Care Act and a jobs plan that doesn't sacrifice the envirobnment, quality of life but provides wages that meet “basic needs” for families.

Five Asian-American legislators — all Democrats — also called for her termination: “One tweet reveals a callous insensitivity toward the multiple challenges faced by non-native English speaking immigrants and refugees.  As long-time champions of English Language Learning (ELL) opportunities and initiatives, we call on both Mr. McKenna and Mr. Inslee to declare their commitment to full funding for ELL programs as well as for other immigrant and refugee integration programs that assist in the transition to life in America.”

Ballots in the mail

Today is the day for county elections offices in Washington to begin mailing out ballots for the Aug. 7 state primary.

Spokane County will start its mail “drop” of about 265,000 ballots, finishing it on Thursday.

All registered voters should receive their ballots by early next week. If you get to the end of next week, and still no ballot, you should contact your county elections office to find out what's going on. In Spokane County, that number is 509-477-2320. For contact information for other Washington counties, click here.

The ballot is fairly long, because some of the races have a long list of candidates who would love to have your vote. Chances are, there's a fair number you've never heard of. For information on candidates for state and local offices, check out The Spokesman-Review's Election Center and the Washington Secretary of State's Online Voter's Guide.

Once you've marked your ballot, you can either mail it in (postmarked by Aug. 7) or save a stamp by depositing it in a Drop Box.

A list of Spokane County Drop Box locations can be found inside the blog.

Congressional campaign reports show big fundraising and some big spending…

Idaho's 2nd District congressional candidates are raising big bucks for their campaigns, Boise State Public Radio reports today, with Democratic challenger Nicole LeFavour raising $156,016 so far for her run, and incumbent Republican Rep. Mike Simpson taking in $955,982. BSU radio reports that LeFavour has raised more than any Democrat who has challenged Simpson in years, but Simpson is on a record pace in his own fundraising as well; you can read their full report here.

The figures reflect fundraising for the election cycle to date, as updated by the latest filing, the July quarterly report. Interestingly, Federal Election Commission summaries show that cash-on-hand figures for the two candidates aren't near as far apart: Simpson had $196,703 as of June 30, while LeFavour had $117,602. That's partly because of high expenditures by Simpson: In the most recent period, Simpson raised $193,734, but spent $151,024. LeFavour raised $88,065 and spent $28,258. And though Simpson has raised $955,982 to date, his campaign spending to date came to $604,302, plus he's transferred $300,000 to other committees, including $50,000 to the National Republican Congressional Committee in the most recent quarter.

In the 1st District race, freshman GOP Rep. Raul Labrador has raised $551,568 to date, compared to $37,388 for his Democratic challenger Jimmy Farris, according to FEC summaries; in the latest reporting period, Labrador raised $68,725, spent $66,293, and closed the quarter with $202,947 in the bank. Farris' quarterly fundraising came to $9,899; he spent $8,762; and had $8,306 on hand at the close of the quarter.

Marijuana initiative lists Spokane boosters

The campaign for Initiative 502, which would legalize some marijuana use, announced three “name” supporters Tuesday.

State Sen. Lisa Brown. Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart. The Rev. Happy Watkins.

Brown and Stuckart aren't big surprises, considering they've supported medical marijuana measures in the past. I-502 is a step beyond that, to decriminalizing small amounts of mairjuana for personal use, but it's not a big step. Brown said the taxes from legalized marijuana would help health care and drug prevention programs, and Stuckart said the city's policing resources could be better spent on more serious problems.

Watkins, however, is the campaign's “get.” In the announcement, he said he was looking at it from a community perspective. “When young adults are arrested and charged for marijuana possession, they are shamed, turned into second-class citizens and face long-term economic hardship,” he said in the press release announcing the endorsement.

A spokeswoman for the campaign said I-502 is lining up support in what she called “the faith community”, particularly among African-American ministers because the minority community may feel a bigger impact of the war on drugs. They announced support from three Seattle-area ministers last month.

New media ways to get into trouble

OLYMPIA — All of the “new media” opportunities for candidates in their staffs have a downside, the Rob McKenna campaign discovered this week. There are now more ways to do something stupid, and get caught at it, and have it come back months later to bite you in the posterior.

So it was that Kathlyn Ehl, a policy staffer for the Republican gubernatorial candidate's campaign, had to apologize Monday for sending out Tweets that disparaged Asians and seniors, before she was on the McKenna staff.

Seattle area blogs like Slog and Publicola reported that Ehls had tweeted in January that Asians should “shut up and speak English” and in November that anyone so old that it takes an entire light to cross the street should “GET A WHEELCHAIR”. Not good for a campaign that would like to get votes from one of the state's largest minority communities or the state's most dependable voting block.

By 5 p.m., McKenna had issued an apology. Unlike some political apologies, it didn't include a series of equivocations:

“The tweets sent by a member of my campaign staff, Kathlyn Ehl, which were reported today were offensive and inappropriate.  I am glad to see that she has apologized for her actions.
The fact that she made the comments before joining my campaign does not make them any less hurtful to Asian Americans and the elderly. They were insensitive and wrong regardless of their context.
She has done the right thing by apologizing.  I am hopeful that she has learned a humbling lesson that will give her greater perspective about having charity in her heart when considering the challenges faced by others.”