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No surprises from Northwest senators

Jim Camden The Spokesman-Review

Lots of interest last week in the financial disclosures of U.S. senators, thanks in large part to the controversy over U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay and his travel at a lobbyist’s expense. But the revelations for Washington and Idaho senators were, well, a bit of a yawn.

As we all know, Sen. Maria Cantwell has a bundle tied up in RealNetworks stock, although the shares that were once pushing $100 per are down to a little over $5. Senators don’t have to list an exact worth, but Cantwell checked the box for the range of $1 million to $5 million for the stock’s value; back in 2001, it was worth $10.8 million.

Sen. Patty Murray’s investments are valued several decimal places to the left, and are tied up in mutual funds. On the DeLay issue, neither Washington senator reported any exotic travel on a lobbyist’s tab – or any travel, for that matter.

Idaho Sens. Larry Craig and Mike Crapo did travel, but not anyplace where they could order mai tais in a foreign language. Craig went to Pittsburgh for three nights on the National Rifle Association’s dime (he’s an NRA honcho from way back) and spent two nights in British Columbia and one night in Salt Lake City to talk to other groups. Crapo spent two days in Tampa, courtesy of the American Bankers Association.

Whatever happened to ecumenism?

Citizens Against Government Waste, a Washington, D.C.-based budget watchdog organization, has released its annual listing of congresspersons at the federal trough, and Washington state has some folks on it. That’s not unusual, because the state has two folks on the Appropriations committees, which write the spending bills; until George Nethercutt decided to leave the House in last year’s quest for the Senate, it had three.

Citizens Against does not like the money spent for Ag Research in Pullman, particularly spearing a joint study on cutting labor costs of asparagus. Nor does the group think it was wise to spend $8.2 million on a new chapel at Fort Lewis, which “offers diverse services for Christians, Jews, Muslims, even Wiccans.”

Just think what it would’ve cost to build a chapel for each denomination.

A gifted pen stilled

Gary Perkins, a former Spokane resident who provided the words for three governors, died last week of cancer, and was buried Saturday after funeral services in Tumwater.

Perkins, 45, was a writer for Govs. Mike Lowry, Gary Locke and Christine Gregoire, penning some speeches and handling correspondence. A graduate of Spokane Falls Community College, Perkins had been president of the Young Democrats of Washington, worked as a legislative aide for Spokane-area Reps. Dennis Dellwo and Shirley Rector before becoming the public information officer for state Agriculture Secretary Jim Jesernig. Being familiar with issues on both sides of the state was a plus in his different jobs.

Perkins was also a novelist who has one book “Closet Governor,” in the stores and another to be published soon. He was active in gay rights, as the founding chairman of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Issues Caucus of the Young Democrats and a county chairman of the Hands Off Washington campaign.

His cancer was related to Crohn’s disease, from which he had suffered since he was 19.

Among the survivors are his mother and stepfather, Shirley and Stace Valentine, who still live in Spokane, and his long-time partner, Hal Stockbridge, of Olympia.

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