by Goldy, 03/31/2007, 7:34 PM

Coming up tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on Newsradio 710-KIRO:

7PM: Is our food supply safe?
The FDA now blames melamine, a chemical found in plastic, as the poison that has tainted wheat gluten in dozens of brands of dog and cat food. But could this poisoned gluten also have entered the human food supply?

8PM: TBA

9PM: TBA

Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

by Goldy, 03/31/2007, 10:01 AM

Wow… Rep. Richard DeBolt is really campaigning for that Jefferson Award. First he nominates himself, and now he’s running this flattering campaign commercial:

Looks like DeBolt is a shoe in.

by Goldy, 03/30/2007, 7:31 PM

I’m filling in again tonight for Frank Shiers from 9PM to 1AM on Newsradio 710-KIRO, and joining me at the top of the first hour is former Stranger writer and current Ron Sims and Washington State Budget & Policy Center press flak Sandeep Kaushik.

We’ll be talking about the new King County parks levies, state Sen. Cheryl Pflug’s (R-Maple Valley) new proposal to rob Sound Transit to build more roads, and probably a bunch of other stuff. Later on, Will might join me. Maybe.

Give us a call at 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

by Goldy, 03/30/2007, 12:23 PM

Oh shit: “Mayor proposes tougher fines for owners of blighted property.”

The proposed legislation, Nickels said, is “important work that gets to the heart of keeping our neighborhoods safe and livable.” The mayor’s proposal, which requires City Council approval, would amend city codes to punish repeat offenders who allow their homes to become blighted, turn their open spaces into junkyards or let bushes and weeds take over sidewalks.

Damn it. Next thing you know, Animal Control will raid my house to remove the hundreds of dust bunnies I’ve been inhumanely breeding.

by Goldy, 03/30/2007, 10:57 AM

Rev. Jesse Jackson today denounced the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s planned presidential debate partnership with FOX, and called for candidates to boycott the debate.

“I am disappointed by the Congressional Black Caucus Institute’s partnership with FOX, and strongly encourage them to reverse that decision. Why would presidential candidates, or an organization that is supposed to advocate for Black Americans, ever give a stamp of legitimacy to a network that continually marginalizes Black leaders and the Black community? FOX moderating a presidential debate on issues of importance to Black Americans is literally letting the Fox guard the henhouse – FOX should be rejected.”

In a press release issued by ColorOfChange.org, Jackson and other Black leaders launched a petition campaign, accusing FOX of “smearing” the Black community.

“The CBC cannot claim to represent Black Americans and at the same time legitimize a network that calls Black churches a cult, implies that Senator Barack Obama is a terrorist, and uses the solemn occasion of Coretta Scott King’s funeral to call Black leaders ‘racist,’” said James Rucker, head of ColorOfChange.org. “The CBC Institute’s decision is shamefully out of step with most Black voters — and now Black voters will hold our leaders accountable and demand they end their partnership with Fox.

What kind of “smears” are they talking about? The folks at FoxAttacks.com provided the following clips:

by Goldy, 03/29/2007, 6:13 PM

I’m filling in again tonight for Frank Shiers from 9PM to 1AM on Newsradio 710-KIRO, and joining me at the top of the first hour Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

We’re going to get an update on some important environmental litigation, including I-297 (Hanford Cleanup Priority Act) and the Roadless Rule, as well as talk about the AG’s initiatives on meth and identity theft. But first I’m going to ask him about the U.S. attorney scandal and the tenure of ousted USA John McKay.

Got questions for our state’s highest ranking Republican? Give us a call at 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).

by Goldy, 03/29/2007, 4:28 PM

Are those good ol’ boys down in Georgia more progressive than WA’s Democratic House majority, at least when it comes to protecting consumers from unscrupulous lenders?

State lawmakers decided Tuesday that Georgia does not need payday lending.

A hard-fought battle to legalize the short-term, high-interest loans ended when the state House voted 82-77 for the measure. The bill needed 91 favorable votes — a majority of the House membership — to move on to the Senate.

[...] The vote was a victory for consumer advocates, who had strongly opposed the measure.

The defeat “is going to save Georgians hundreds of millions of dollars a year in high interest rates and fees,” said Danny Orrock, legislative coordinator for Georgia Watch, a statewide consumer organization.

The Georgia bill would have allowed payday lenders to charge $45 in fees on a two-week, $300 loan, which computes to an annual percentage rate of 391 percent. You know, exactly the same usurious rate currently allowed in WA state. There was an effort this session to cap payday lending at a significantly lower rate, but Rep. Steve Kirby (D-29), refused to let it out of his House Insurance, Financial Services and Consumer Protection Committee.

Yup, nothing says “consumer protection” like sticking up for lenders who charge desperate borrowers 391-percent interest.

by Goldy, 03/29/2007, 12:34 PM

Yesterday the Seattle P-I published a list of nearly 100 reader-nominated candidates for this year’s Jefferson Awards, which supposedly honor service “by ordinary people who do extraordinary things.” It really does warm the heart to read through this list of volunteers and citizen activists, and learn how much some of our neighbors are contributing back to the community. But fortunately, green tea doesn’t permanently stain a computer monitor, because I did an actual spit-take when I stumbled across the following nominee:

RICHARD DeBOLT

CHEHALIS

As the communications and external relations manager for TransAlta in Centralia and the 20th District Republican representative for Lewis and Thurston counties, DeBolt’s legislative priority is to create an open and honest flow of communication between his constituents and government. He is a devoted champion of safer, more prosperous communities in the South Puget Sound area. His loyalty and caring attitude for his community while working to solve problems on a statewide basis make him the caring man he is today.

Hey, thanks for the nomination, Kevin.

Hmm. Compare that commissioned piece of ass-licking puffery with what The Olympian’s editorial board had to say about DeBolt last year, in the wake of the House Republican Caucus’s bogus sex offender postcard scam:

Rep. Richard DeBolt owes his legislative colleagues and his South Sound constituents an apology. His feeble attempt at rough-and-tumble politics has backfired, making him look foolish and disingenuous.

[…] His actions are bad for public discourse, and his reliance on falsehoods does not speak well of DeBolt’s character.

[…] Yes, the public is now aware how low Rep. Richard DeBolt and his political action committee will stoop to stretch the truth and sling a little mud at the opposing party.

Guess what? DeBolt never apologized. But he did have Kevin or some other unprincipled staffer write in to the P-I and nominate him for working “to create an open and honest flow of communication between his constituents and government.” (Dollars to doughnuts we read that manufactured quote in DeBolt’s campaign literature next year, attributed to the P-I.)

If you want to know what the Jefferson Awards are really all about, just take a look at the nomination of the only other name I immediately recognized on the list:

MARK BOYAR

SEATTLE

Boyar created Middle Fork Outdoor Recreation Coalition and began raising awareness about problems in the environment. He also encourages the construction of trails by public landowners while kindly pressuring private landowners to either sell or develop trails on their land. He also writes grants for the private landowners to help them receive a fair monetary trade for the land. He has been a strong and relentless advocate with a gentle touch and successful record.

I know Mark Boyar and how hard he works — and how often he lets others take credit for his remarkable accomplishments because quite frankly, that’s sometimes the most politically expedient way to get things done. So it particularly irks me to see DeBolt so selfishly pollute an awards process that might honor Mark for his quiet and selfless work to clean up our precious wilderness.

But I guess that’s the sort of conniving, amoral, political machination that makes DeBolt “the caring man he is today.”

by Goldy, 03/29/2007, 1:54 AM

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Just to briefly follow up on my earlier post, I thought the chart above might clearly illustrate just how little grassroots support Tim Eyman enjoys these days. The chart is drawn from PDC data, and shows the number of individual contributions to Eyman’s initiative campaigns from 2000 through 2006.

As you can easily see, Timmy’s support has steadily declined since contributors first learned that he was secretly pocketing their money… and lying about it. (It is also interesting to note that of the seven initiatives charted, only one, I-900, remains on the books — and it has absolutely nothing to do with cutting taxes.)

No wonder Tim has been reduced to begging for food:

URGENT: Please help us raise funds. Can you arrange a lunch or dinner at your home or at a local restaurant with a few other potential donors attending? Great chance for us to meet, talk, answer questions, and explain the latest initiative and talk about ideas for future initiatives.

by Goldy, 03/28/2007, 6:39 PM

I’ll be filling in for Frank Shiers again tonight on 710-KIRO, from 9PM to 1AM. Tune in or, um… don’t tune in.

by Goldy, 03/28/2007, 3:38 PM

by Goldy, 03/28/2007, 9:05 AM

Yet another stupidly conceived, stupidly written Tim Eyman initiative was tossed out by the courts last year, I-747, which capped the revenue growth from regular local levies at 1-percent a year. And now I hear that House Dems are stupidly caucusing today to discuss the stupid idea of reinstating I-747.

Oy.

I’ll come back later with a more substantive post on the issues involved, but I just want to take a moment here to discuss the politics. I have been told by more than one legislator that there is a real concern that failing to reinstate I-747 would create the opportunity for Eyman to come back with an even more damaging initiative, thus reinvigorating his flagging career, and I just have to respectfully say that this is the most heads-up-your-ass, mind-numbingly backwards analysis that I have ever heard in my life.

If you are desperate to breathe new life into Eyman, go ahead and prove to the world that you fear him, by reinstating I-747. He’ll claim credit for your boneheaded, reactionary blunder, and the Capitol press corps will give it to him, because… well… he’ll deserve it. Hell… why not just abdicate your responsibilities entirely, boot Frank, and elect Tim as Speaker?

Or, of course, you could calmly explore the policy alternatives, impose a more reasonable cap of say, inflation-plus-population with a 4-percent max, and then address the growing regressivity burden by creatively passing a property tax homestead exemption or an income-sensitive circuit breaker.

And you know how Tim will respond? He’ll send out a couple of angry emails to a list whose most avid readers include a handful of email-weary journalists and some anti-Tim activists like me. Maybe Dave Ammons will quote him in an AP story. And that’s about it.

You see, in case you weren’t paying much attention, Eyman really hasn’t done much these past five years, his last tax-cutting initiative having passed way back in November of 2002. He has no organization to speak of, no grassroots, and apart from the deep pockets of Michael Dunmire, an anemic and ever-shrinking fund raising base that barely brings in enough cash to pay for mailing his many fund raising appeals.

The legislature has nothing to fear from Tim Eyman. He’s toothless. He’s a paper tiger.

No… I take that back. To call Tim Eyman a paper tiger would be to grossly overestimate his chance of delivering a political paper-cut. With his dwindling support and our shifting political climate, Tim is at most a toilet paper tiger… the soft, 3-ply, fluffy kind my grandmother buys, not that coarse, off-brand variety you find in the Capitol restrooms. Provoke Tim, and at most he might leave behind a political dingleberry or two. But come back with a killer initiative? Not likely.

So my advice to the House caucus is please… take your time and carefully evaluate all the implications of reinstating I-747 — the stupid political implications as well as the stupid policy ones. And please remember that Tim Eyman is a toilet paper tiger, so the last thing you want to do is feed him. No, you just want to wad him up, wipe your ass with him, and flush him down the toilet.

by Goldy, 03/27/2007, 5:35 PM

rovearrest.jpg

White House adviser Karl Rove will be the guest speaker at the King County Republicans annual Lincoln Day Dinner on April 14. (Does it strike anyone else as curiously ironic that the day they choose to celebrate the life of our most revered Republican president is the anniversary of his assassination?)

King County GOP Chairman Michael Young said he expects Rove’s remarks to focus on the future of the Republican Party, and — keeping with White House policy — be off-the-record, behind closed doors, and not under oath.

“In the past, when he’s come out to do these kinds of things, they’re very optimistic, forward-looking speeches for the most part,” Young said.

Following the KCGOP’s standard accounting procedures, proceeds from the event will be reported 300 days late, and without occupation or employer data.

Young says that Rove’s visit “shows a commitment of the national party to our state and our county.” Uh-huh. It also shows the close affinity the two criminal organizations the national and local parties have for one another. Karl Rove represents everything that has eroded the faith of the American public in the Bush administration and the Republican Party. And yet the KCGOP embraces Rove, and proudly welcomes him as the keynote speaker at their annual dinner.

That should tell local voters something very important about the political allegiances and philosophy of the King County Republicans.

Speaking of which, take a gander at this old clip of a very young Karl Rove from his early days as a dirty trickster for Richard Nixon’s infamous 1972 Committee to Re-elect the President. No wonder Rove refuses to to testify under oath — he learned a valuable lesson from his old boss, Jeb Magruder, who served seven months for his role in the Watergate break-in and subsequent coverup.

rove-nixon.jpg

by Will, 03/27/2007, 4:11 PM

The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.

I won’t be there, but I suspect Goldy and the usual suspects will be.

Not in Seattle? Liberals will also be drinking tonight in the Tri-Cities. A full listing of Washington’s eleven Drinking Liberally chapters is available here.

by Goldy, 03/27/2007, 11:57 AM

The headline in today’s Daytona Beach News-Journal says all you need to know about International Speedway Corp.’s attitude towards local government: ISC gives Washington officials green flag on track taxes.”

“Yee-hah!” our state legislators must be exclaiming, “ISC has given us the green flag to give them money!” And talk about a major concession:

Daytona Beach–based International Speedway Corp. has agreed to let local officials in Washington State have more of a say in how tax revenue from a proposed racetrack in Bremerton, Wash., would be divided.

Wow. ISC is willing to let local officials have a say in how to spend their tax revenue. How can the Legislature possibly say no to a deal like that?

The latest iteration of the bill would provide at least $164 million of public financing to build a NASCAR track near Bremerton, while exempting from property taxes only 750 of the site’s 950 acres. ISC claims sales taxes would mostly be levied on out-of-state fans, and that economic and development benefits would lead to lower property taxes on area residents… but local officials dispute these claims. And in fact, most of the these new, so-called concessions merely represent a willingness to negotiate some of the final terms with local officials, rather than having them mandated in the legislation.

Whatever. ISC can issue all the press releases it wants, but the fact remains that we’re talking about giving a huge public subsidy to an extremely profitable out-of-state corporation that wants WA to build it a new track in a relatively remote location, that would require many millions more in transportation improvements on top of the millions being sucked out of state and local coffers. To hear ISC spin it, they’re doing charity work here, and all they want from us is a matching grant. If we want a NASCAR event in Washington state — and all the prestige and tourism that supposedly comes with it — well, this is the only way they can financially swing it. Take it or leave it, Washington state.

Yeah… um… except, that’s a load of bull.

This isn’t about bringing NASCAR to Washington state, this is about crafting a sweetheart deal for ISC and the family that controls it. For if they really wanted to bring NASCAR to Washington, there is better alternative, near the heart of our state’s population center, that would require little if any public subsidy: Pacific Raceways, near Kent.

Pacific Raceways is located on a 330 acre site just outside of Kent, a quarter mile off Highway 18, with its own dedicated off ramp. Just 20 miles from both Seattle and Tacoma, there are plenty of hotel rooms in the region, and no major transportation improvements would be needed. The site is already zoned, and has been operating as a racetrack since 1960. And perhaps best of all, the local owners have plans to privately finance a $135 million upgrade and expansion that would be capable of attracting NASCAR, IRL and CART racing events.

pacificraceways.jpg

So why would NASCAR lobby for a new $344 million facility in Bremerton, when they could be running events at a more conveniently located racetrack in Kent? Because the France family, which controls NASCAR, also controls ISC, which is in the business of building and operating racetracks. The Bremerton facility, with its huge public subsidy, represents a financial windfall for the France family, whereas a NASCAR event at Pacific Raceways, well… that would only bring in revenues from a NASCAR event — revenue they would have to share with the owners of Pacific Raceways.

The Bremerton proposal is not about bringing NASCAR to Washington state — it is about the France family leveraging its control of NASCAR to grab $164 million in direct public subsidies for ISC, plus additional tax breaks. If NASCAR really only wanted to expand its market by bringing high profile events to Washington, it has a willing and eager partner at Pacific Raceways, a facility that would require little or no public subsidy… and no legislative action. NASCAR already runs races on road courses like Watkins Glen and Infineon — nothing is stopping them from running major events at an upgraded Pacific Raceways in Kent.

Nothing, that is, except greed.

We have repeatedly been told that only a brand new, taxpayer subsidized racetrack will do, but that simply is not true. Racing enamored legislators would be wise to buckle up and strap on their helmets before letting ISC/NASCAR take them for a ride.

by Goldy, 03/26/2007, 10:33 PM

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by Goldy, 03/26/2007, 10:16 AM

The Seattle Times David Postman thinks that ousted U.S. Attorney for Western Washington John McKay added few new details in his interview yesterday on NBC’s Meet the Press, and accuses the Washington Post of “making too much” of McKay’s choice of words. But I think both Postman and the Post underplay the most significant word choice of all: “illegally.

I think that what happened here, because the stories have changed so frequently, what happened here has to be investigated. Those who either acted unprofessionally or even illegally have to be held accountable for what they did.

One of the unquestioned assumptions that has run through the media coverage of this growing scandal is that although the firings may have been improper, they were not illegal. Since the U.S. attorneys serve “at the pleasure of the President” we are told, he has the legal authority to fire them at will, whatever his motives. I myself have been guilty of repeating this snippet of common wisdom.

But it is simply not true.

As Adam Cohen pointed out recently in the NY Times, if the motive behind a firing was to punish an attorney for not misusing his office, or to interfere with a valid prosecution, that may well be illegal.

In law schools, it is common to give an exam called the “issue spotter,” in which students are given a set of facts and asked to identify all the legal issues and possible crimes. The facts about the purge are still emerging. But based on what is known — and with some help from Congressional staff members and Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University — it was not hard to spot that White House and Justice Department officials, and members of Congress, may have violated 18 U.S.C. §§ 1501-1520, the federal obstruction of justice statute.

Cohen goes on to suggest that some of the crimes a special prosecutor might look into involve misrepresentations to Congress, undue influence by representatives under Sarbanes-Oxley, witness tampering, and outright obstruction of justice. This sort of legal analysis runs counter to the oft repeated “at the pleasure” meme that has permeated our news coverage, but is beginning enter the public debate. And I think the fact that McKay specifically referenced it in his nationally televised interview Sunday morning, represents quite a significant and deliberate choice of words.

by Will, 03/26/2007, 9:08 AM

David Sirota on the 60 Minutes interview:

Perhaps the most disturbing display of all, however, was 60 Minutes’ Katie Couric. She spent most of her interview with the Edwardses behaving like a prosecutor, cross-examining them about why they are going forward with the presidential campaign. And when I say “interrogate” I mean interrogate. This was no ordinary interview – this was a televised guilt trip. She stated as fact to John Edwards that he is supposedly “putting your work first, and your family second.” She also pulled the “some say” technique, claiming that an unnamed “some” say that in making this decision, Edwards is displaying “a case of insatiable ambition.”

I think the “some say” device is a dishonest interview tactic. It’s a dumb trick best used by FOX News. It allows an interviewer to ask a question even if that question has no relevance. It’s lazy, and I’m glad I haven’t seen it much in the local media. Rush Limbaugh’s bullshit musings do not deserve to be cloaked by Couric with the phrase, “some say.”

The decision to continue their campaign belongs to John and Elizabeth Edwards alone. Their decision not to surrender to cancer is admirable. As Elizabeth said, “we’re all going to die someday.” No amount of interview spin can hide that fact.

by Goldy, 03/25/2007, 11:09 PM

Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska):

“The president says, ‘I don’t care.’ He’s not accountable anymore. He’s not accountable anymore, which isn’t totally true. You can impeach him, and before this is over, you might see calls for his impeachment. I don’t know. It depends how this goes.”

by Goldy, 03/25/2007, 7:01 PM

Coming up tonight on “The David Goldstein Show”, 7PM to 10PM on Newsradio 710-KIRO:

7PM: Where is Sound Transit going?
Ric Ilgenfritz, executive director of policy and public affairs joins me to talk about Sound Transit’s current projects and future plans, and what a proposal for a regional transportation commission might hold for light rail in Seattle and beyond. Is Seattle’s light rail on track? Will it ever reach to the Eastside? Give Ric a call and ask for yourself.

8PM: Were the U.S. attorney filings illegal?
Ousted U.S. Attorney for Western Washington John McKay appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press today, where he suggested that those involved in the scandal may have not only acted improperly, but “even illegally.”

9PM: TBA

Tune in tonight (or listen to the live stream) and give me a call: 1-877-710-KIRO (5476).