by Carl, 01/31/2013, 8:06 PM

I assume this bill that Pam Roach introduced is just her acting out (h/t).

(1)State employees shall be truthful and forthright when providing information or answering questions related to the scope of their employment, the performance of their duties, and the operations of the agency at which the state employee is employed.

(2) State employees shall be truthful when providing information of any kind.

Oh, see, those state employees who accused me of losing my temper at staff, and the witnesses were clearly lying. Why I’ll write a law that gets them fired if they keep saying things about me. Yeah that’s it.

Senator Roach is probably unaware of the first rule of holes. I mean, given her caucus abandoning her for some time, given the settlement, and given the second case, it’s pretty clear who was lying in that case. I don’t think you’d have even had much disagreement among Republicans until they needed her to make a majority.

Or, perhaps she’s just looking forward to a time when she can ask who moved her roses. And the state employees will have to tell her the truth. Maybe, I guess.

Or come to think of it, she can ask all the state employees who leaked the second report of her abusing staff. If any of them know, they’ll have to give it up or risk disciplinary action. In any event, I’m sure this law will be bad news for whistle-blowing government employees. If that’s a feature or a bug of the law, you can decide for yourself.

One last thing, I see one of the few co-sponsors is Rodney Tom. Makes you wonder if “prefers Democratic Party” counts as not being “truthful and forthright when providing information or answering questions related to the scope of their employment,” when he goes and caucuses with the GOP and votes for their budgets.

by Carl, 01/31/2013, 8:19 AM
by Carl, 01/30/2013, 6:17 PM

Were you aware that rape in the third degree isn’t a crime in Washington if it’s done to a married partner? I was not. I had just assumed that by 2013, someone would have fixed that. Fortunately, Roger Goodman is offering a bill this session to make spousal rape a crime in all circumstances.

Washington is one a handful of states where marriage remains an absolute defense against allegations of some forms of rape and sexual assault, and lawmakers considered a proposal Tuesday that would change that.

House Bill 1108 would remove the spousal exemption from both rape in the third degree – in which no physical force is used – and from taking indecent liberties.

“There is no such thing as legitimate rape,” said Rep. Roger Goodman, D-Kirkland. “We have to get rid of this marital rape exception and catch up with the rest of the country.”

According to the article, he thinks it has a good chance of passage. I hope so, but I don’t see a Senate version (it could be that I missed it, the legislative search isn’t intuitive, at least to me). The Senate has promised no social issues this session, but this is the sort of social issue that the legislature needs to solve, like right fucking now.

So this seems like the sort of bill that public pressure could make sure to push to the governor’s desk. If you want to thank Roger Goodman for sponsoring it, you can here. If you want to find info on the bill, including the other co-sponsors, you can here. If you want to write your legislator, you can find them here. My email to my legislators is below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

by Darryl, 01/30/2013, 1:40 PM

We’ve seen a run on vote rigging attempts in Republican controlled blue states. Republicans in Florida, Virginia, and Pennsylvania have flirted with, and have had rejected, plans to change their electoral vote allocation from a winner-take-all system to a congressional district allocation system. Republicans in Ohio, Michigan and Wisconsin are expected to join the fun. (And probably be rejected.)

It makes sense for Republicans to selectively change the state laws in their favor, especially given their excellent job of gerrymandering congressional districts following the 2010 census. Yeah…the voters get fucked, but that never stopped a Republican from power-grabbing.

Changing a handfull of blue states to congressional district allocation, while maintaining the winner-take-all system in red states, would have given Mitt Romney the presidency. Even as the popular vote went to Obama.

With Sen. Rodney Tom’s Republican Senate majority, Washington state has taken it’s first step to becoming a blue state controlled by Republicans. Surprise, surprise…House Republicans are trying to join other Republican-controlled blue states in their Presidential election-rigging effort:

The proposal, House Bill 1091, would divvy up Washington’s electoral votes by results in each of the state’s 10 congressional districts, with the remaining two votes going to the statewide winner.

In 2012, that would have given Obama nine electoral votes from Washington while Romney would have taken three.

Supporters say that would be a fairer result for more conservative parts of the state that are constantly outvoted in statewide elections by the Seattle area.

In one sense, these whining Republicans are correct. Under some conditions, allocating electors by congressional district (with the two additional electors going to the state popular vote winner) is a fairer system than the winner-take-all system. Those conditions are:

  • Every state does this, rather than just selected blue states.
  • Congressional districts are not gerrymandered. That is, all states have in place a rigorous, non-partisan redistricting process.

Under those conditions, a universal congressional district allocation system is fairer because all but 100 of the 538 electoral votes are allocated by smaller, and thus more representative, voting blocks. That wold be fairer than the current system that has some bizarre artifacts:

The [current] system has the effect of making your vote count a lot more in “swing states” — states where the majority could conceivably vote for either candidate — than in other, more politically predictable states. It is a virtual certainty, for instance, that Georgia will vote for Mitt Romney, so an individual Georgian’s vote for Barack Obama doesn’t mean a lot — Georgia’s 16 electoral votes are going to be cast for Romney. Conversely, an individual voter’s choice for Romney in ultra-blue New York won’t stop that state’s 29 electoral votes from going to Obama.

This raises the questions, what do we mean by a “fairer” system? Here are some ideas:

  • A fairer system would give each person’s vote an identical weight in determining the election’s outcome.
  • Consequently, a fairer system would elect the winner of the national popular vote.

Democrats remember how unfair it felt when George Bush lost the popular vote, yet became President. And Republicans would have collectively “gone postal” if Mitt Romney had won the popular vote but lost the presidential election.

What I am getting at is that the fairest system of all is to elect the President by popular vote. The system we have now, fails 8.7% of the time (four out of 46 elections where the national popular vote was known) by putting in office the loser of the popular vote.

We used to believe that the only way to change the system to elect the President by popular vote was to amend the Constitution. Now we know better. The National Popular Vote compact system achieves the same thing by letting states exercise their constitutional right to allocate electors as they wish:

The National Popular Vote bill would guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in the entire United States. The bill preserves the Electoral College, while ensuring that every vote in every state will matter in every presidential election. The National Popular Vote law has been enacted by states possessing 132 electoral votes — 49% of the 270 electoral votes needed to activate it.

This works when a coalition of states is formed that controls 270 or more electoral votes. Then, by each member state’s law, the slate of presidential electors for the state is elected according to the result of the national popular vote. If the coalition does not control 270 votes, the states revert back to their old system (winner-take-all for most states).

There doesn’t seem to be a downside–unless you believe it’s okay for a candidate to lose the national popular vote and still be elected President. Since the compact makes no changes to the electoral college itself, no Constitutional amendment is necessary.

Back to the Washington state Republicans trying to rig the vote. The new bill, HB 1091, actually does two different things. It changes the way we allocate electors now. It also cancels Washington state’s participation in the interstate compact.

Of course! Why would we expect consistency from Republicans? They were never interested in making the presidential election as fair as possible. They’re only interested in advantaging Republicans.

So sad…Washington state Republicans have still have not shown any ability at true leadership. Fuck ‘em. And fuck Rodney Tom for joining ‘em.

by Darryl, 01/29/2013, 2:40 PM

DLBottlePlease join us tonight for an evening of politics over a pint at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking Liberally.

We meet every Tuesday at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. Starting time is 8:00pm. Some people show up earlier for Dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle’s DL tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings over the next week. The Tri-Cities chapter also meets tonight. And on Monday, the Aberdeen, Yakima, South Bellevue and Olympia chapters meet.

With over 200 chapters of Living Liberally, including fourteen in Washington state, four in Oregon, and two more in Idaho, chances are excellent there’s a chapter that meets near you.

by Carl, 01/29/2013, 8:02 AM
by Carl, 01/28/2013, 6:57 PM

I just don’t know what to say:

There was a shooting at Twilight Exit last night.

The gun buyers on surrounding streets underscore the case for Congress and the Washington Legislature to act get cracking on gun safety legislation, McGinn argued. “That’s one of the loopholes we need to close,” he said. “One person can sell another person a gun on the street and it’s absolutely legal. Do you see anybody out there doing a background check?”

Shirley Chambers has lost 4 children to gun violence in Chicago since 1995.

All the soundbites about how it isn’t guns who kill people, and all the victim-blaming that has been and will be heaped on Shirley Chambers and her children, and all the rationalizations about people with mental illness, and all the Othering of poor black people who live in cities, and all the sanctimonious hand-wringing about “cultural degradation,” and all the excuses and justifications and cynical rhetorical flourishes in the world will not change this fact: Shirley Chambers’ children are dead. All of her children are dead.

There is really nothing left to say that hasn’t been said before. I guess it’s once again the wrong time to talk about these things lest we offend some of the worst political actors out there. What we certainly won’t do is stop the next horror. We won’t do anything to stop the time after that or, or, or.

by Carl, 01/28/2013, 8:03 AM

Looks like the first gun buy back event in King County in decades was a success except that more people wanted to turn in their guns than there were gift cards available. So they had to end early. Still the program got hundreds of guns — all unwanted — off the street.

Now, I don’t know how much is a feel good measure and how much it actually will stop gun crime. Those guns won’t be used in crimes, but the county is still awash in guns. And a voluntary program probably isn’t going to keep the guns out of the hands of the most paranoid or the most dangerous people, or the people who are planning to use a gun in a crime. Still, it’s better than nothing.

Maybe what’s most telling is the people trying to buy guns for more than the gift cards:

The gun buyers on surrounding streets underscore the case for Congress and the Washington Legislature to act get cracking on gun safety legislation, McGinn argued. “That’s one of the loopholes we need to close,” he said. “One person can sell another person a gun on the street and it’s absolutely legal. Do you see anybody out there doing a background check?”

The fact that most people turned in their guns instead of selling them to someone offering more money speaks to the fact that this wasn’t just get a gift card and go. Even if the people offering money for guns didn’t understand that.

by Lee, 01/27/2013, 9:15 PM

- This story by Ryan Grim and Ryan J. Reilly on how Obama’s DOJ dealt with medical marijuana in his first term is long, but very much worth your time. It provides some details of the internal high-level discussions that we’ve only been able to speculate about before.

One thing that stands out to me is how the Obama Administration and the DOJ are engaging in some revisionist history about the Ogden memo, the DOJ statement in March 2009 affirming that they intended to keep Obama’s promise about not going after individuals who were in compliance with state law. There was absolutely an expectation that the DOJ would honor this in this good faith and that the memo was an affirmation of Obama’s campaign promise. As state-sanctioned systems grew, however, many U.S. Attorneys simply didn’t do that. And once some of them crossed that line and didn’t get smacked down from above, others began to undermine it as well. This was a clear failure in Obama’s first term, and there continues to be an expectation that Obama do better in his second term.

- Eric Mortenson at the Oregonian writes about the fledgling industries that are starting to crop up as I-502 becomes a reality. The Washington State Liquor Control Board hearing in Seattle last Thursday saw a huge turnout. If you happen have a spare 2.5 hours, you can watch the full hearing here and here.

by Lee, 01/27/2013, 12:00 PM

Last week’s contest was won by Poster Child. It was Mercer Island.

This week’s contest is related to something in the news from January, good luck!

by Goldy, 01/27/2013, 6:00 AM

Revelation 13:10
He that killeth with the sword must be killed with the sword.

Discuss.

by Darryl, 01/26/2013, 12:01 AM

Ed: Boehner blames Obama for GOP’s incompetence.

Guns and Stuff:

Thom with some more Good, Bad, and Very, Very Ugly.

Roy Zimmerman: Vote Republican, D.C. episode:

Hillary’s Day:

Sam Seder: What the fuck went on inside Michele Bachmann’s campaign???

Maddow: Is America a liberal country?

Re-Inauguration:

Gov. Jay Inslee makes some announcements.

Thom: The Good, The Bad, and The Very, Very Ugly.

G.O.P.’s War on Elections:

Sam Seder with another episode of Random Rush.

The “No warming in 16 years” myth.

Last week’s Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza can be found here.

by Carl, 01/25/2013, 9:32 PM

Oh look what Rodney Tom’s majority is looking to do now:

SB 5156 would completely repeal RCW 9.02.100, otherwise known as Washington’s abortion law. The law was adopted by public vote in 1991 to shore up state law with the US Supreme Court decision, Roe v. Wade (so that if Roe were ever overturned, Washington women would still continue to have the same rights and protections. It states, among other things: “Every woman has the fundamental right to choose or refuse to have an abortion.”

The bill would also repeal in its entirety 9.02.110, “The state may not deny or interfere with a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion prior to viability of the fetus, or to protect her life or health.”

Allen says that Planned Parenthood’s legal team is still trying to suss out how, exactly, this bill’s passage would affect women’s access to abortion providers in Washington state, given that Roe is still the federal law of the land. Regardless, it’s troubling: Washington voters have repeatedly confirmed women’s right to make their own pregnancy decisions, beginning in 1970, when voters approved Referendum 20 and legalized abortion in the early months of pregnancy.

“We don’t believe it’s an accident,” Allen says.

It’s hidden in a bill that’s ostensibly about parental notification, and you can read at the link why that’s fucked up enough on its own.

Of course even if it passes the Senate, it’ll never see the light of day in the House. And if it somehow got to Inslee’s desk he’d veto it. And even if it somehow became law, Roe is still the law of the land. But still, we were told that this session the Senate would be all about kicking poor people off social services and hating teachers. And that we’d avoid social issue fights. “You are going to see individual members do what they want to do, but what we have said is, we’re not going to let social issues divide our focus.” Whoops.

by Carl, 01/25/2013, 4:11 PM

The results of the one night count are in, and they’re bad.

The One Night Count of homeless people in King County took place early this morning. We are incredibly grateful to the many volunteers and supporters whose careful work made this a safe, respectful, and accurate Count.

At least 2,736 men, women, and children were found sleeping on sidewalks, under bridges, in their cars, on public transit, and in temporary structures and makeshift campsites. This is 142 more people than our volunteers counted outside one year ago.

We’re failing as a society when the number increases. We failed as a society 2,736 times last night. While many of us were comfortable in our beds, 2,736 of our neighbors had to brave the cold night in one way or another.

by Carl, 01/25/2013, 3:26 PM

I don’t know if there’s anything I can add to the disgust felt at Tucker Carlson’s tweet.”The administration boasts about sending women to the front lines on the same day Democrats push the Violence Against Women Act.”

If this was an indictment of the fact that anyone is in combat, I guess you could make a case that it wasn’t terrible (although opposition to the VAWA is still bad on its own). But given that he supported the Iraq war, it’s tough to make that case. But women volunteering for combat, knowing the risks is somehow equivalent to domestic violence. It’s sickening. We should both pass the VAWA and let women serve in combat. Jesus.

by Carl, 01/24/2013, 7:23 PM

I think it’s instructive that people who are anti-tax like Rodney Tom usually run on we can magic up solutions. They’ll talk about reform or combating wastefraudandabuse. So it leaves the impression that you can lower taxes and at the same time keep our programs in place.

So they don’t seem to ever campaign on dismantling the social safety net. But when they get to Olympia, it turns out that — whoops — they’re doing just that. So we get to Tom trying to repeal the never even implemented family leave law.

Braun’s bill has 10 co-sponsors, including two Democrats who have joined with Republicans to form a new coalition this legislative session. The measure has its first public hearing Monday. Braun called Keiser’s counter-bill one of “good intentions, but good intentions aren’t always affordable.”

“We already have a program on the books that we can’t fund,” he said. “Expanding it seems contrary to public interests.”

Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom, D-Medina, voted in favor of the paid family leave law when he was in the House, but he is now signed on to Braun’s repeal bill. He said some companies already are moving in the direction of paid family leave, but that taxpayers and businesses wouldn’t support a tax increase for a statewide program.

When he voted for it initially, it’s presumably at least because he thought his constituency supported it. So when he talks about the will of his constituents to not raise taxes, that has to be counterbalanced against the fact that his constituents probably want to live in a state with a strong safety net. So maybe when people like Rodney Tom run for office next time, they can be honest and instead of reforming education they can talk about how they’ll make schools more overcrowded. And instead of finding waste they can talk about destroying the social safety net. Because that’s the choice he and the rest of the GOP majority want. Maybe when that choice is laid out, their constituency won’t be so happy with the low taxes they keep promising.

by Carl, 01/24/2013, 7:55 AM

Hey, remember back in December when I said I’d be switching to Monday-Tuesday-Thursday open threads in the new year? OK, me either, but that’s how it’s going to be for a while.

- Problems with the tunnel machine.

- Thank you not just for your work, but for your service to all women and families. You’re making the world a better place. Perhaps you already knew that. But I think it’s worth saying.

- Only one side hates science.

- Build better bike infrastructure for the SoDo arena.

- It doesn’t even rhyme.

- Some modest goals for a 2nd term.

by Carl, 01/23/2013, 7:24 PM

Oh God.

Three veteran King County Sheriff’s detectives have filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging years of sexual harassment from two supervisors in the department’s Special Assault Unit.

Among the allegations, statements from other detectives accuse Provenzo and Mahlum of making repeated comments about the size of female detectives’ body parts and that Provenzo “regularly talks about the size of his penis” in front of co-workers: “On more than one occasion, Provenzo took a plastic penis and hung it out of the bottom of his pants.”

The complaint also alleges the sergeants made light of sex abuse victims, instructing the female detectives to “say it slower, so I can close my eyes” when they were discussing the facts of a case. Provenzo regularly told one of the plaintiffs not to investigate rapes on the Mukleshoot Indian Reservation because such crimes take place there “all the time.”

I don’t even know how someone with that attitude becomes a police officer. If there’s a lot of a type of crime, that’s a reason to step up enforcement, not to ignore it. I don’t even know what to say except if the allegations are true, I’m sorry my tax dollars were poorly spent hiring, training, and paying him.

(see also)

by Carl, 01/23/2013, 8:00 AM

I meant to get around to this Joel Connelly piece earlier. I had earlier accused him of being unhelpful in a writing a piece about states seceding that, whoops, he didn’t write. This one about Texas though is all him. I’ve double checked the byline.

So no, Texas shouldn’t leave. Those of us who aren’t from Texas and are less than thrilled with the politics and politicians coming out of Texas should figure out ways to empower the more than 3 Million Obama voters, and engage the countless Texans who didn’t vote at all. That doesn’t mean that we should ignore our values to court Texans, it means there’s a large base of support there (and in every state) that already supports Democratic values.

by Lee, 01/22/2013, 9:48 PM

Gene Johnson writes about the meeting today in the other Washington:

SEATTLE (AP) — Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson met with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday, but came away no further enlightened about how the federal government will respond to last fall’s votes in Washington and Colorado that set up legal markets for marijuana.

Inslee said the meeting with Holder was collegial and the attorney general asked a lot of questions but gave no indication about when the DOJ might make a decision. Colorado’s governor did not attend.

“I went into this believing that our state should continue to move forward with our rulemaking process,” Inslee said. “Nothing I heard during that discussion dissuaded me of that view.”

During a speech in early December, Holder said the DOJ would have a decision relatively soon.

The fact that Holder didn’t make any attempt to stop Inslee and Ferguson from trying to implement I-502 is certainly a positive sign. Holder has to know that the consequences of allowing Inslee and Ferguson to move forward for months and then later decide to use the courts or some other means to shut it down will be embarrassing both to the Obama Administration and to their fellow Democrats in Olympia. Nothing that cynical is likely to happen.

But the fact that Holder gave no additional assurances regarding the federal government’s response makes me a little concerned about what will happen when people start participating in this new above-ground market. This is an important point:

Inslee described the meeting as the opening of an ongoing conversation. He said he gave Holder details of the role of state employees — noting that although they issue licenses to private entities, they won’t be charged with handling or distributing the weed.

This is key because it gets down to some of the more nuanced legal aspects involved. Most (but not all) attorneys I’ve heard from don’t believe that the feds can legally pre-empt the state and arrest workers merely for setting up and carrying out regulations. The only thing that’s pre-emptible is actual participation in the marketplace (and thanks to Raich vs. Gonzalez, privately growing or even merely possessing marijuana is within that definition).

This concerns me because it’s entirely possible that Holder simply doesn’t care about either Washington or Colorado sets up regulations because he’d likely lose that battle in the courts. He may just be biding his time until licenses are given out and then allowing prosecutors to go after growers and sellers he knows he can win cases against. That also may be too cynical an expectation, but after the experiences in Obama’s first term regarding medical marijuana, the cynicism might be justified.

As Obama began his first term, he re-iterated a promise that he – and every other Democratic hopeful in 2008 – made regarding medical marijuana. He wouldn’t use DOJ resources to undercut the various state laws that made it legal. However, over time, that promise was repeatedly violated and a number of folks who were complying with their state laws are now facing long jail terms.

But this turnaround wasn’t the result of a top-down decree by either Obama or the DOJ. This was a bottom-up attempt by various U.S. Attorneys and other folks in the embattled drug war bureaucracy to find ways to circumvent the intent of that decree. In states like California and Montana, the meaning of the state law was ignored and even actively undermined. But in states like Colorado and New Mexico, it was largely respected. And here in Washington, there was even a noticeable difference between the aggressive enforcement in Eastern Washington and the saner approach in Western Washington.

And it was more than just enforcement. We also saw attempts from various institutional drug war tools to scare some state politicians away from regulations that they knew would be impossible to undermine. This is what happened to both Governor Gregoire and Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee as each of them attempted to establish more concrete statewide medical marijuana regulations.

So until there are actual assurances from Holder (and maybe not even then) that our state laws will be fully respected, there’s definitely a concern about what various lower level drug warriors in the DOJ and the DEA could do once we start handing out the licenses. There would certainly be a political backlash to any attempt to undermine the will of Washington and Colorado voters, but it could be another in a long line of political backlashes that folks in Washington DC barely notice. Or maybe this time will be different. Maybe having state officials like Inslee and Ferguson fighting for the voters of their state will force Holder to keep his folks in line. Still a long way to go before this starts to play out.