O.P.E.N. T.Hr.E.A.D.

- Emmett’s piece on how different people see Downtown Olympia probably scales to other downtowns.

– You need to know how to parallel park before you get on the road, Maryland drivers.

– The only Republican answer on Iraq that would make any sense is that it was the wrong decision. It’s surprising how few can do that.

Top 5 Irritating Agency Operations Habits

The diverse crowd of advocates, business owners and community leaders shows that the tide has turned overwhelmingly in favor of taking bold action to make Rainier Ave safer. This is a street where safe streets advocates have long felt resistance. It takes a big shift in mindset for communities to realize busy, scary streets can and should be made safer for everyone. It’s beautiful to realize that shift has happened, and this dangerous street’s days are numbered.

It’s sad that one only need replace “back then” with “nowadays” and Assata could be describing life in 2015, not the 1960s of her youth.

Still Some Work

I found the state’s compliance checks on marijuana businesses interesting.

The stores — two in Everett and two in Tacoma — could be hit with a $2,500 fine and a suspension. The person who did the actual selling could be charged by a local prosecutor.

The four stores were among 22 tested in checks between May 15 and 18. Brian Smith, a spokesman for the state Liquor Control Board which licenses recreational marijuana stores, said that compliance rate of 82 percent is lower than the 85 percent rate for all retail stores that sell some alcohol product and the 92 percent rate for stores that sell spirits.

I hope they get those numbers up, because obviously they shouldn’t sell marijuana to children. If it takes suspending some licenses, that’s fine. We’ve had more time to weed out* people selling alcohol (I don’t know how much it changed with privatization and deregulation a few years ago, but it at least had a bit of a head start).

It’s also pretty small numbers so one less bust would be better than 86%. Not that any selling to minors is OK, but we’ll probably want more numbers in the future.

Also, I’m guessing that’s a much better number than street dealers. So while legalization has had some hiccups, it’s a lot better than the old way people got their marijuana in the state.

[Read more…]

Open Thread

It’s another one of everyone’s favorite type of thread: The Carl forget his computer at home, so he’s writing from his phone. Enjoy!

How Long Have You Been Illegally Not Funding Education?

Hey, is anyone surprised Sen. Michael Baumgartner (or an intern in his office) is writing press releases in support a bill to dock teacher’s pay during strikes? No, nobody? I’m going to make fun of it anyway.

OLYMPIA… On the same day that teachers in the Seattle School District are planning to walk off the job, the state Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will hold a hearing on a bill that would dock their pay.

On the same day that Michael Baumgartner is violating his oath by not supporting the paramount duty of the state — AKA, any day — he still managed to find time to complain about the people who actually educate children. Yes, he has helped make sure that teacher pay has been frozen for years. Not for nothing, but he’s literally using a special session where he’s supposed to find ways to fund education to try his hand at cutting teacher pay.

The work session and public hearing on Senate Bill 6116 is set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday in Senate Hearing Room 4. Officials of the Washington Education Association and other education groups have been invited.

The bill, sponsored by state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, would for the first time impose a financial penalty on teachers who choose to break the law by going on strike. The proposal is especially timely this year, said committee chair Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. Teachers affiliated with the WEA have voted to stage one-day walkouts in 55 school districts.

It’s like he isn’t aware that it’s the middle of a special session to fund education, and failing super hard. The most timely thing about this bill is a strike? Is he even trying? He’s aware that we can read, right?

“Let’s leave aside the political arguments for a moment,” Baumgartner said.

Seems unlikely, but let’s see what “leave aside the political arguments” looks like:

“The fact is that these strikes use our children as a political football. The teachers walk out and the parents have to stay home. The union is hoping parents will take out their anger on the Legislature. It’s a nasty game they play.”

So leaving aside the political argument is blaming someone else for your own shortcomings. Great. Again, if the legislature did their job, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

Teachers are protesting a Senate budget proposal that gives them their first cost-of-living increase since the Great Recession. The problem is the Democrats in the state House are offering them more. At the same time, both parties balk at paying for Initiative 1351, a class-size reduction measure backed by the teacher’s union that narrowly passed last year. The measure would require that 25,000 additional teachers and school employees be hired, costing $3.8 billion every two years when fully implemented.

Oh right. You’ve not passed teacher raises despite inflation still being a thing for the better part of a decade. Now you’ve decided that instead of fully making up that gap and paying for the other things you haven’t funded for a long time, not to mention what people just voted for, just dock teacher pay for a one day strike that will be made up at the end of the year anyway.

Sheldon noted that state law has always prohibited teacher strikes. In addition, most local schoolteachers’ unions have agreed to no-strike clauses in their contracts. Those rules are rarely enforced. When teachers walk off the job, strike days are generally made up at the end of the school year in the same manner as snow days, with full pay and benefits. Sheldon’s bill stipulates that no state money shall be used to compensate teachers when they go on strike. The intention is that teachers shall not be compensated when they make up strike days, he said.

In the previous paragraph he said he wouldn’t fund I-1351, despite it being state law. Throughout the entire press release, there’s no way to meet the Constitutional requirements spelled out in McCleary. Yet somehow, he’s super concerned with obeying the law? Also, is he saying strike days shouldn’t be made up, or just that the state shouldn’t pay for it? Either way, the bill is seeking to harm school districts to prove some sort of nebulous point. And have I mentioned how they’re failing their paramount duty?

“This is really a bipartisan concern,” Sheldon said. “I know of no other profession in which you get paid to go on strike. I’m glad we’re holding this hearing the same day the Seattle teachers are protesting the Legislature. Some of them may actually come down here and do it. That will give me a chance to ask why they think taxpayers should pay them to play hooky.”

Can whoever wrote this press release ask Tim Sheldon if he still gets paid by Mason County while he’s playing hooky in the legislature?

Shorter Seattle Times Editorial Board: “We Hate Teachers” (Also, “We’re Fucking Idiots”)

Teachers protest outside Franklin High School

Teachers protest outside Seattle’s Franklin High School

In case you’re wondering, the Seattle Times editorial board isn’t too pleased with today’s one-day teacher walkout in the Seattle, Mercer Island, and Issaquah school districts, because the children!

The only clear consequence of Tuesday’s walkout by Seattle teachers is that students will lose one precious day of instruction.

Oh no! The children are going to lose one precious day of school!

This one-day protest extends the last day of school from Monday, June 15 — ending on a Monday is a strange decision itself — to Tuesday, June 16.

Wait. Um, doesn’t the second sentence in their editorial totally contradict their first? (Not to mention their entire thesis?)

I know, I know… their argument is that moving the day from now to then makes the school year functionally one day shorter, but that’s just plain stupid. Their lede is factually wrong. Jesus. What a bunch of fucking morons.

I was going to fisk their entire editorial, but if they’re not going to take their work seriously then neither am I.

Christopher Hitchens on Islam

When if comes to critique of religion, folks on the left have a nasty habit of tying themselves in ecumenical knots. For example, if you want to see these knots tied in front of you, simply criticize Islam in mixed conversation. Eyes will flicker, and someone in the group will say, “well, Christians have been just as bad.” Even the president gets in on the act. It’s an understandable habit.

Christopher Hitchens didn’t care much for this predilection. This video is an example of this. Hitch was supposed to appear on stage at Town Hall in June of 2010. This appearance was canceled due to his cancer diagnosis, which killed him about a year and a half later. In honor of that missed appearance, here’s Hitch in action:

Drinking Liberally — Seattle

DLBottleIt’s Tuesday…and that means it’s Drinking Liberally night in Seattle. So please join us for an evening of politics under the influence at the Seattle Chapter of Drinking liberally.

We meet tonight and every Tuesday at the Roanoke Park Place Tavern, 2409 10th Ave E, Seattle. Our starting time is 8:00 pm, but some folks stop by earlier for dinner.

Can’t make it to Seattle tonight? Check out one of the other DL meetings happening this week. Tonight the Tri-Cities, Vancouver, WA, and Shelton chapters also meet. The Lakewood chapter meets on Wednesday. And on Thursday, the Tacoma chapter meets.

There are 190 chapters of Living Liberally, including eighteen in Washington state, four in Oregon and two in Idaho. Chances are excellent there’s a chapter meeting somewhere near you.

“No Consensus” Wins the Day at 37th LD Dems Endorsement Meeting

Incumbents didn’t do so well at tonight’s 37th Legislative District Democrats endorsement meeting, with port commissioner Courtney Gregoire and city council members Tim Burgess, Sally Bagshaw, and Bruce Harrell all failing to win endorsements. It was a particularly poor showing for Harrell in his home district (well, one of his homes, anyway). Lorena Gonzalez, running to fill Sally Clark’s vacated seat, was the only council candidate to win an endorsement. It was “no consensus” for everyone else.

All in all, the 37th LD Dems displayed a lot of discontent with Democratic incumbents.

Of course, the headline match was between Socialist incumbent Kshama Sawant and establishment Dem challenger Pamela Banks—or rather, between Banks and the vote for “no endorsement.” The rules prohibit the 37th from endorsing any candidate who refuses to claim to be a Democrat, and that left Sawant ineligible for endorsement. So Sawant backers pushed for a “no endorsement” vote.

“No endorsement” led after three rounds, but not by the 60 percent margin necessary to win the day, so bizarrely, that led to a final “yes” or “no” vote on a dual endorsement for Banks and distant third, Rod Hearne. No crushed yes, leaving an official position of “no consensus.” (By the rules, a no consensus race can be reconsidered after the August primary.)

It was a victory of sorts for Sawant—a demonstration of her relatively strong support among active Democratic Party members. Establishment types like to soothe themselves with the idea that Sawant’s vocal support is a mirage: the result of the same 50 folks packing the room at every event, or something. But only dues-paying members and PCOs can vote at LD endorsement meetings. Sawant simply has a lot of support among rank and file Dems. And why shouldn’t she? No other candidate speaks more directly to Democrats on core Democratic issues than Sawant.

We’ll All Soon Be Drinking Our Own Pee, and We Have Ron Sims to Thank (No, Really, Thank You, Ron Sims)

Brightwater Reclaimed Water

Brightwater sewage treatment plant’s reclaimed water is 99.9% pure!

Much to William Shatner’s surprise, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee declared a statewide drought emergency last week, what with the state’s average snowpack only at 16 percent of normal and the national weather service predicting a hotter than usual summer.

Anticipating a decline in snowmelt, Seattle took advantage of winter rains to fill its reservoirs to above normal levels, so the city won’t likely face any water restrictions this summer, but our future water security is less certain. The mountain snowpack is by far our state’s largest reservoir, and as climate change shifts much of our winter precipitation from snow to rain, snowpack levels are expected to steadily decline over the coming the decades. But fortunately for the region, at least one of our leaders was thinking ahead.

At the time, former King County Executive Ron Sims was the target of a fair bit of criticism for the planning, execution, and cost of our state-of-the-art Brightwater sewage treatment facility, and one of the design decisions that added to the expense was its then-unneeded water reclamation capacity: up to 21 million gallons a day of Class A reclaimed water. Class A reclaimed water isn’t certified as potable, but it’s safe to drink, and it wouldn’t take much more processing to get it the rest of the way there. Diluted into the 140 million gallons a day Seattle Public Utilities currently delivers, we wouldn’t notice the difference at the tap, even as reclaimed water made up 15 percent of the supply.

With our population growing even as our source of fresh water shrinks, reclaimed water will become an ever more valuable resource.

Building that reclamation capacity into Brightwater wasn’t cheap, but it was a helluva lot cheaper than adding it on later. At least, that’s what Sims told me a decade ago when he explained that the county had to start preparing now (well, then) for the inevitable impacts of climate change. And a declining snowpack, Sims said, was inevitable.

To be clear, Sims was no latecomer to the issue. Way back in 1988, when he was just a county council member, the Seattle Times editorial board excoriated him for proposing that the county spend a mere $100,000 a year to study how to prepare for climate change:

IF THE “greenhouse effect” is exacerbated by political hot air, the world is in real trouble.

The hyperbolic clouds of rhetorical gas belched out on this issue in recent weeks could easily choke someone – or at least cloud the vision of otherwise rational people.

… many reputable scientists dispute the reality of the greenhouse effect. Others seriously question its long-term impact …

The point is that the sky-is-falling, icecaps-are-melting, oceans-are-rising rhetoric must be tempered by common sense.

If Sims and Laing want to study the greenhouse effect, they should buy themselves some tomato plants and a bag of steer manure – which shouldn’t be at all hard for such experienced politicians to find.

It’s not so much the wrongness of the editors that stands out, but the utter eye-rolling contempt in which they attacked Sims’ foresight.

Fortunately, Sims wasn’t cowed by the editorial board, and continued to stick by his convictions (and the science) throughout his years in office. And so on that inevitable day some years hence when reclaimed wastewater starts flowing through our faucets, I hope the editors of the Seattle Times join in raising a glass of recycled pee to the vision and perseverance of Ron Sims.

It’s not easy for politicians, facing the present day demands of taxpayers, to keep the needs of future generations in sight. But on many issues—from transit, to education, to income inequality, to the environment—that is the only way to assure that our region continues to thrive well into the future.

[Cross-posted at Civic Skunkworks]

Open Thread 5-18

- It’s nice to see the district organizations giving incumbent Seattle City Council members so much shit.

– Speaking of those elections, the only thing I took away from this, is I won’t have to leave my 7th District ballot blank.

– I for one look forward to the next year of the GOP out phoney tough guying one another.

– Good on the anti-Shell rig people (also the #shellno hashtag on Twitter is probably going to be active all day).

Rasmussen’s Anti-Density Conservation District Bill Screams “Unintended Consequences”

– It’s sort of strange to celebrate a safety feature for after a truck hits you, but OK.

– Anyone else going to Folk Life, and what’s the best clog dancing troupe?

We Need to Start Aggressively Prosecuting Reckless Gun Owners

Because guns make you safer:

VENICE, Fla. (AP) – Sarasota County Sheriff’s deputies say a 3-year-old boy shot his 1-year-old sister in the face as the two were in a car in the parking lot of a daycare.

A news release said the incident happened at 4:30 Friday afternoon in Venice, a small city south of Sarasota on Florida’s Gulf Coast.

The girl was flown to All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg with non-life threatening injuries and is expected to recover.

Officials say the children were left alone in a car while their mother was talking to people in the parking lot. A report said the boy picked up a handgun in the car and fired it, striking his sister. Only one shot was fired.

Deputies said that no criminal charges were expected Friday.

No doubt the mother feels awful about what happened, but we’re never going to curb reckless gun ownership until we start prosecuting it, just like we do with drunk driving. Were her daughter injured in accident during a DUI, the mother would have been prosecuted. She should be prosecuted for this too.

Friday Night Multimedia Extravaganza!

Young Turks: Obama speaks the truth about FAUX News.

Jon feeds FAUX News from its own ‘Rich buffet of bullshit’.

Mark Fiore: Obama trades transparency.

Vsauce: Counting.

Young Turks: FAUX News guest so vile and sexist that even Hannity cringes.

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

Mental Floss: Misconceptions about health food.

Chris Hayes: Seattle ‘KAYAKIVISTS’ face down shell’s ARCTIC drilling rig:

Sam Seder: The myth of the absent black father.

Chris Hayes: The new G.O.P. War on Women.

A Get Well Soon message for George Zimmerman.

The 2016 Clown Parade:

WaPo: The hydrogen powered car of the future?

The minimum wage should be $15/hr.

Thom with the The Good, the Bad, and the Very Very Patripotestally Ugly.

Mental Floss: 30 strange scholarships.

Young Turks: George Stephanopoulos sorry for secretly fighting AIDS.

Thom: Reaganism caused the train crash.

Jon: UK election extravaganza.

White House: West Wing Week.

David Pakman: Study shows every Republican Obamacare fear-mongering prediction was WRONG:

Reid: NFL more concerned about Deflategate than a racist team name.

No-Sex Education:

Maddow: Reproductive rights remain brightest partisan dividing line.

Everything you need to know about Seymour Hersh’s Bin Laden report.

Thom: G.O.P.’s food stamp hypocrisy.

Mental Floss: Why are calculator and phone keypads the opposite?

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

Open Thread 5-15

- If inflation, population growth, and economic growth weren’t a thing, that spending increase number might be meaningful.

Bill Bryant, Who Backed Bringing Shell’s Arctic Drilling Fleet to Seattle, Announces Run for Governor

Caring about affordable housing isn’t why John Okamoto is now on Seattle’s city council. As always, the public is the last to get the memo.

– You don’t necessarily have your family’s policies if you run for office, but if you can’t get away from George W. Bush, you’re in trouble.

Reporting from the “My Actual Hell” newsdesk; Cuddle Club.

– I liked the last book by Randall Munroe’s last book, so here’s looking forward to Thing Explainer