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Local legislators reaching out by phone

OLYMPIA — While Spokane-area legislators are spending most of their time for the next two months in Olympia,some are  are trying to keep in touch with constituents by shifting the standard “town hall meeting” from a place to a phone number.

Republican Reps. Kevin Parker and Jeff Holy from Spokane's 6th Legislative District, which has parts of south and northwest Spokane city and much of the West Plains, are having a one-hour conference at 6:30 p.m. tonight. conference. Constituents can call 1-800-759-5308 to listen and press the star key to ask a question.

The 7th Legislative District delegation, Sen. Brian Dansel and Reps. Joel Kretz and Shelly Short, will have a joint teleconference on Feb. 3. Constituents can call 1-877-229-8493 and enter  112381 when prompted.

Susan Fagan not the one slamming Inslee

OLYMPIA — Rep. Susan Fagan and Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan don't share any constituents, but both do have voters in the Spokane area.

And the Pullman legislator wants them to know that she is not the Fagan who called Gov. Jay Inslee a “lying whore” in a recent fund-raising letter.

Councilman Mike Fagan, who signed onto an appeal with initiative partners Tim Eyman and his father Jack Fagan, is coming under criticism from his council colleagues for the use of that language. (See posts below.) The governor, who is in Washington, D.C., and has a few other things to worry about like additional tanks leaking at Hanford, has declined comment.

But headlines tend to stick with last names, which is causing Rep. Susan Fagan some heartburn. She's a Republican legislator from the Palouse who is likely to disagree with Inslee on any number of issues over the course of the session, and agree with Eyman and Co., on some.

But that kind of language “would never cross her lips,” an aide said.

Sunday Spin: Adventures in redistricting

OLYMPIA – Tuesday is Election Day 2011 – or what passes for one in a state that mailed out its ballots two weeks ago and will spend more than two weeks counting the returns – but it could be a key day for Election Days 2012-21.
That morning is the next meeting of the state Redistricting Commission, which is weighing two proposals to redraw congressional and legislative lines in Washington…

To read the rest of this post, go inside the blog.
  

Got something to say to your legislator? Here’s your chance

There's a break in the legislative action this weekend, so several Spokane-area legislators will be back in their home districts to hold town hall meetings.

The break is a result of the Legislature passing a major deadline for voting bills out of one chamber, and not yet reaching a key point in crafting the next biennium's budget, the state economic forecast which comes out March 17. Because of that, neither house is in session this weekend, so it's a good time for legislators to head home for a few days, and Saturday seems like a good day for town hall meetings.

Here's a list of what's scheduled for Saturday.

3rd Legislative District
Sen. Lisa Brown, Reps. Timm Ormsby and Andy Billig.
  10 a.m., Northeast Community Center, 4001 N. Cook St.
  2 p.m., Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, 2316 W. 1st Ave.

6th Legislative District
Sen. Mike Baumgartner, Reps. Kevin Parker and John Ahern
  10:30 a.m. Northwood Middle School gymnasium, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
Parker
  2 p.m., Education themed town hall at Northwood Middle School library, 13120 N. Pittsburg St.
Baumgartner
  5 p.m. town hall at the MAC, 2316 W. 1st Ave.

9th Legislative District
Rep. Susan Fagan

  10:30 a.m., WHMC Public Education Building, 1200 W. Fairview St., Colfax
  2 p.m., Cafe Moro, 100 E. Main St., Pullman

Area companies recognized for community service

The Association of Washington Business Tuesday recognized the volunteerism and community service efforts of 21 Washington companies, including five based in Eastern Washington.

The Spokane-area corporate winners were: Associated Industries, for its Bright Promise Scholarship program; PAML, for raising $339,527 for charities such as Shriners Hospital and the Make-a-Wish Foundation; Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories Inc. of Pullman, for its work on behalf of United Way, the Corporate Angels Program, and Haitian earthquake relief; and Sterling Savings Bank, for employee incentives that generated 24,000 volunteer hours in 2009.

Also, State Rep. Susan Fagan, R-Pullman, received the Judy Coovert Award for her work on the AWB Health Care Committee.

AWB President Don Brunell said the winners sustained their charitable work during a deep recession.

“Giving back is integral to who they are and what they do. It’s part of how they do business,” he said.

PAML also received one of 10 AWB Environmental Excellence Awards for upkeep and updating of its 162-vehicle fleet, and implementation of route-mapping software. Coupled with handheld devices for couriers, PAML has reduced travel by 1.5 million miles, or 30 percent.

Fagan gets Rossi endorsement

Southeastern Washington legislative candidate Susan Fagan picked up the endorsement of the Republicans’ last two gubernatorial nominees.

OK, that was just a chance to see if you were paying attention after a three-day weekend. As anyone with a working knowledge of Washington politics knows, the same person has been the GOP’s nominee for governor for the last two elections.

Former State Sen. Dino Rossi is endorsing Fagan for that empty 9th District House seat, though.

One might wonder what impact that has, considering Rossi was unsuccessful in his two runs for governor. (Unless one wants to argue that he actually was successful in 2004 but had the election stolen from him, but the statute of limitations has kind of run on that one.)

The answer, though, is potentially a big impact. Rossi got 58 percent of the vote in the 9th District last year. And with two Republicans — Fagan and Pat Hailey — on the Nov. 3 ballot, this kind of endorsement could be significant for Republicans trying to choose between the two.

More election news: Lots — LOTS — of interest in two E. WA. House seats…

Very few legislative seats are up for election in this off-year, but there’s tremendous interest in two Eastern Washington spots in the House of Representatives.

Four people have so far filed documents with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission to run for 9th District Rep. Steve Hailey’s old seat representing the Palouse region. Retired Rep. Don Cox was pressed into service as an appointee this year after Hailey died of cancer, but Cox has so far not filed paperwork to run for re-election this fall.

Who has? Hailey’s widow, Pat Hailey; Schweitzer Engineering’s Susan Fagan, who scored an early coup getting AG Rob McKenna’s endorsement; WSU’s Darin Watkins (described as “Extremely charismatic. Looks and sounds like a politician” by Palousitics two years ago when he applied to replace departing state Rep. David Buri), and Lamont’s Arthur Swannack, who has been the president of the Washington State Sheep Producers. All are Republicans.

Just to the southeast, no fewer than 5 people are running for late Rep. Bill Grant’s seat, now help by an appointee: his daughter, Rep. Laura Grant-Herriot. Grant-Herriot, running as Laura Grant, recently filed for re-election. She’s the lone Democrat in the race so far.

Also in the running for that 16th district seat: Lawyer/former prosecutor Terry Nealey, Paco city councilman Matt Watkins, and Walla Walla’s Kevin Allen Young, who works as a manager for the state Department of Transportation. Walla Walla County Commissioner Greg Tompkins had filed to run for the seat, but got out of the race recently, citing a family member’s health. “I can’t be in two places at the same time, and right now I am needed by my family more than ever,” he said.

Lastly, Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, is so far running for re-election unopposed.

Schweitzer’s Susan Fagan raising money for House run…

Susan Fagan, whose work for Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories means she’s not a stranger in Olympia, has raised more than $20,000 in her run for the state House seat now held by Rep. Don Cox, R-Colfax. The district covers a large swath of southeastern Washington, including the Palouse and part of southern Spokane County.

“I am thankful that, given the difficult economy, people realize having an advocate in Olympia who understands agriculture and job creation is worth investing in,” Fagan said in a press release.

Fagan’s trying to tap into the district’s heavy ag vote by forming “Farmers for Fagan,” chaired by Farmington’s Bruce Nelson, a former president of the state wheat growers’ association.

Pat Hailey of Mesa, the wife of late state Rep. Steve Hailey, has also said she’ll run if Cox doesn’t in November. Cox was appointed recently to the seat after Steve Hailey died suddenly from cancer.