What we're reading:
-This analysis, by a private think tank called the Washington State Budget and Policy Center, of the differences between House Democrats' recent cost-cutting plan and a similar proposal from Gov. Chris Gregoire. Researcher Jeff Chapman concludes that the House would reduce the budget by $172 million more than the governor, largely because its plan ignores "maintenance level" changes like counting the 1,700 more students than expected who are enrolling in schools.
-This article in The New Yorker, detailing the views of the worst-case-scenario crowd. Among them: a Russian emigre who sold his Boston apartment and moved onto a sailboat, the better to flee (and trade commodities like apples) in the coming financial apocalypse. The story includes peak-oil folks, fans of gold bullion, Vermont secessionists and an upstate New York author who argues that postwar suburban sprawl will prove a massive national mistake.
-This post, by the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly, who argues that the recent election of Spokane's Sharon Smith as vice chair of the state Democratic Party "signals an increasing presence for Eastern Washington's Democrats."
Connelly doesn't mention the fact that the previous vice chair, Eileen Macoll, lives in Pullman. But he points to two other big Democratic victories east of the Cascades recently: November's victory for Okanogan's Peter Goldmark as lands commissioner and, two years earlier, Sen. Chris Marr's ousting a Republican in a largely suburban Spokane district.