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OLYMPIA – Washington voters will face a pair of gun control issues this fall and will probably decide whether to have fewer students in some public school classes. But, because of a lack of support, citizens won’t be voting on efforts to change the U.S. Constitution on campaign finances or the state constitution on raising taxes.
In a sign that campaign season is truly upon us, last week saw the first debate over debates, the annual exercise in which one candidate dares another to meet on the field of verbal combat, and the person challenged offers a reason not to jump at the chance. Independent candidate Dave Wilson challenged Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers to 10 debates – five before the Aug. 5 primary and five after. This may seem a bit presumptuous on Wilson’s part, considering no independent congressional candidate has made it through the state’s top-two primary, but congressional candidates must be confident above all else.
Voters seeking extensive information from the usual sources on five statewide advisory measures may be out of luck. There are no high-powered campaigns for or against the nonbinding Advisory Votes 3 through 7. No statements pro or con in the state Voters’ Pamphlet. No websites with videos or lists of endorsers.
OLYMPIA – The dog days of the summer around the state capital are not as uniformly sunny as in Eastern Washington. But morning fog and low clouds – a pattern Seattle’s television weather heads describe with the more elegant-sounding title “marine layer” – give way to bright warm afternoons during which it is difficult to work up much fervor over anything. So it seemed last week as Republicans made a half-hearted stab at playing the latest round of “who’s losing Boeing?” after the aerospace giant said it will move some 375 engineering jobs to California. When Boeing moved its corporate headquarters to Chicago in 2001 and built a 787 production line in South Carolina in 2009, there were major political earthquakes.
Envision Spokane, a group that has failed twice at the ballot box with its far-reaching Community Bill of Rights, has countersued a coalition of business and government groups that sought last month to keep Envision’s initiative off the ballot with legal action. The countersuit filed Wednesday argues that the coalition is seeking to “mis-use the judicial process” and cannot show it would be injured by the initiative simply appearing on the ballot. The suit also claims that the coalition’s legal action was directly intended to suppress public involvement with the electoral process.
OLYMPIA – Friday was a rare day in Washington state politics, although it went mostly unnoticed because it was rare for what didn’t happen rather than what did. It was the deadline to turn in signatures for an initiative to the people – to put on the November ballot an idea some would deem brilliant and others ridiculous. No one turned any in.
As the city amasses legal rationalizations for denying citizens a vote, there has been a refrain from those who object to these pesky citizens’ initiatives. It runs something like this: No one wants to deny citizens a vote. No one relishes the burden of pre-empting democracy. It’s a rare, rare circumstance that brings us to this difficult point … BUT.
OLYMPIA – Unable to ask voters again to approve an initiative that requires a supermajority for tax increases, a group of self-described tax fighters will try to prod the Legislature into putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot. Perennial initiative sponsors Tim Eyman, of Mukilteo, and Mike Fagan and Jack Fagan, of Spokane, filed an initiative Wednesday that would require a public vote on any tax increase, a one-year limit on any new tax and an advisory vote on whether voters should get to vote on a constitutional amendment that requires any tax increase to pass the Legislature with a two-thirds majority.
Councilman Mike Fagan’s description of Gov. Jay Inslee as a “lying whore” was provocative and controversial but apparently doesn’t violate the city’s ethics code. The Spokane Ethics Committee unanimously ruled Wednesday that the slur, which was included in a February letter signed by Fagan and two others, didn’t violate ethics rules because it’s unclear whether the comment harmed the city. Committee members also say Fagan’s free-speech rights likely trump the city ethics code.
Advice for any elected official wanting to be taken seriously: Try not to call the governor “a lying whore.”
Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan, in a fundraising letter for his anti-tax efforts, called Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.” The letter, which was signed by Fagan and the two other co-directors of Voters Want More Choices, was part of a mass email soliciting money for the group. Voters Want More Choices advocates for lower taxes through statewide voter initiatives.
A letter sent today that was signed by Spokane City Councilman Mike Fagan calls Washington Gov. Jay Inslee “a lying whore.”
OLYMPIA – As state law enforcement officials began investigating more than 8,000 allegedly forged signatures for a pair of ballot measures, a legislative panel looked at changes to the initiative process – the century-old avenue for grass-roots democracy. One suggestion the Senate Governmental Operations Committee aired out Thursday: Give initiative campaigns more time to circulate petitions.
An informal opinion from the Washington attorney general's office says lawmakers may need to take another vote on whether the state's public universities can set their own tuition rates.