– Last week’s Parks and Recreation had me in stitches with what Tom calls foods. I’m so glad this exists.
– Will someone please run against Scott Brown?
– Last week’s Parks and Recreation had me in stitches with what Tom calls foods. I’m so glad this exists.
– Will someone please run against Scott Brown?
There are a group of state, King County people and Seattle City Council people who insist that the cost overrun provision on the tunnel is meaningless. They stand in stark contrast with Mayor McGinn, and most of the non-Seattle legislators who support the cost overruns provision. And they keep getting angrier and angrier at McGinn for keeping his campaign promise to oppose the cost overrun provision. They think (perhaps with reason) that it’s an excuse to go back on his saying he wouldn’t oppose the tunnel itself.
But don’t believe Governor Gregoire, Exec Constantine, or any legislator or City Council member who says that Seattle won’t be on the hook for cost overruns while they keep acting like Seattle will be on the hook for those cost overruns. The state, the county especially, but also the city council all have had the opportunity to call McGinn’s bluff and instead have insisted on poisoning the well. This may be good politics, but if they want the project to go forward without the mayor trying to block it, it’s not in the interest of their policy.
A quick recap: a few weeks before the mayoral election, the city council passed an ordinance that McGinn felt (or said at the time he felt) hemmed Seattle into the tunnel option. As such, he announced that since he couldn’t stop the tunnel he would still oppose the provisions that put Seattle on the hook for cost overruns. In this environment, McGinn went on basically doing what he said he would do until Richard Conlin illegally signed the draft Environmental Impact Statement. From that point on, McGinn took a much harder line, including vetoing a tunnel ordinance, and supporting initiatives to put the tunnel itself to a vote. Still, publicly, his position throughout has been that if the city doesn’t have to pay cost overruns, he’ll get out of the way. The state has lied to Seattle about the project repeatedly.
And magically the tenor of the debate has already changed from “of course, Seattle has to pay cost overruns, they get this awesome tunnel!” to “of course, the city won’t have to pay for cost overruns, what would possibly give you that idea?” Still, many people outside of Seattle are taking the first tack, and there haven’t been any laws changed about it since everyone was saying the first part. So, despite assurances from the state, it’s tough to believe that they won’t put “Seattle area property owners” on the hook for cost overruns.
Of course Washington State and King County could do things to assure Seattle that they won’t have to pay cost overruns. The most obvious, is the state could repeal the cost overrun provision, and commit to paying for cost over runs, just like every other state highway project. If King County is as sure as Dow and others say they are that the state is picking up the tab, they could easily work out an agreement with the city to take over any cost overruns that the state imposes on “Seattle area property owners.” If the county people don’t trust McGinn, they could structure the deal in a way that says if Seattle challenges the tunnel, they are back on the hook for cost overruns, so that the tunnel can go forward.
Until the state or the county do something like this, they may believe that Seattle won’t pay cost overruns, but they’re not betting with their own money.
But who cares, right? I mean if there are cost overruns, someone is paying for them? Why does it matter if it’s Seattle? With or without the City Council, McGinn is going to get a proposal on the ballot (and we’ve seen his ability to get the signatures to put things on the ballot without the City Council) to put light rail around the city. It’ll be a much better plan if there isn’t a gigantic question mark in the budget from the state. Simply, Washington should pay for its highways with gas tax money, not local property taxes: Seattle has a better use for the local property tax money.
Now, maybe it is good politics to oppose McGinn. To say he’s just being intransigent or a flipflopper, or whatever. But when the cost overruns do come, when the traffic from taking away exits and onramps and adding tolls comes, when Seattle goes into the red to pay for a shitty road, when we’re still tethered to cars with gas $5, $6, $7 a gallon, it won’t be McGinn’s fault.
– Oh my:
Pajamas Media’s resident fashion-plate and bow-tie adorned dildo brings us his latest installment in the wingnut myth that Obama Is a Muslim intent on imposing sharia law in the United States. Kimball’s editors — no doubt concerned that the typical Pajamas Media lip-moving reader rarely makes it past the headline — pack everything into the post title: “Why It’s OK for the U.S. Govt. to Burn Bibles But Condemn Burning the Koran.”
– The tunnel is a stupid project (also Pete Holems is a coward).
– What Booman said.
– I was going to write about Rick Perlstein’s feature in this month’s Mother Jones titled “Inside the GOP’s Fact-Free Nation. From Nixon’s plumbers to James O’Keefe’s video smears: How political lying became normal”, but will offer it as a link here instead. The article is an interesting history of the modern political lie in American politics.
In my post on I-1053, I wrote, “I’m not a fan of the initiative process, but I think we do need to respect the will of the people.” This post will expand on that a little. Initiatives are simply a tool to make laws. We shouldn’t treat them as anything more or less.
The biggest problem is that they are a blunt tool. The legislative process has hearings and amendments. Better (or worse) ideas make it into the final product. With initiatives, the final outcome is the same one people were collecting signatures on months and months prior. It doesn’t take into concern the opposition. You don’t need to talk to attorneys to see if it passes constitutional muster, or look into other ways of doing something. It is all or nothing.
And this all or nothing approach tends to hamper debate. If an initiative passes, then it’s the will of the people. This despite the fact that the people didn’t get any alternatives. Their will was based on if they approved the language of the initiative or not, not on what their most preferred alternative might have been. That has real value, and should be respected, but we should also keep it in perspective. And when an initiative fails, it often kills momentum for whatever was being worked for, like the income tax (although, I’m not sure how much momentum it actually had, and oddly it hasn’t done much about liquor privatization).
Another problem is the influence of money. Most of these Eyman initiatives in recent years have got on the ballot with the financing largely of one man. Of course, most normal people can’t afford to do that. And when they do get on the ballot, even political junkies like me get sick of seeing all the ads and getting mailings. Money does play too large a role in the initiative process. Still, money also plays too large a role in the legislative process. The rich and powerful will use their power in the crafting of laws, no matter how we make those laws.
Because of all this money, often the more grassroots voices the initiative process was envisioned to give a voice get shouted out. It’s tougher for grassroots signature gathering efforts to get a foothold amid the paid signature gathering. It’s tougher for the opposition to raise the money to compete with some of the corporate campaigns we’ve seen recently.
Still, even for all the faults in the process, people still do get to vote on specific issues, and that is rather remarkable. So, how do we judge an initiative? The same way we’d judge any law: who wins, who loses, who it helps, and who it hurts.
– Speculation probably does play a role in high gas prices. But the fact that it’s a finite resource that we’re using more and more of probably has more to do with it.
– Birtherism qua birtherism is really, really dumb, but as always Shakesville has an interesting take.
– I didn’t realize people vote straight ticket more often either, but I guess it makes sense as the line between Democrats and Republicans has sharpened.
– I’m amazed we didn’t do this already.
– The Seahawks’ schedule looks tough. Still, as we learned last year, you don’t have to have anything as fancy as a winning record to make the playoffs.
Oh look, here’s a press release from Representative Katrina Asay. Enjoy.
Last fall, voters overwhelmingly approved Initiative 1053 (I-1053), which requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to approve tax increases. Voters in the 30th Legislative District approved I-1053 by more than 66 percent.
Yes. I think it was a mistake. Did voters realize what would be cut if the legislature passed a no new taxes budget? Did they make a guess about the revenue forecasts that have come in since then? Would they vote for the kinds of cuts that Republicans (and too many Democrats) want if those cuts were on the ballot? I’m not a fan of the initiative process, but I think we do need to respect the will of the people. However, I don’t think we can divine the will of the people about this budget by any Tim Eyman initiative. And I certainly don’t think we can figure out the will of the people with regard to local tax revenues.
Voters have approved the tax constraints found in I-1053 several times, most recently with Initiative 960, which was thrown out by the majority party last year. This allowed the majority party to increase taxes with a simple majority vote, or 50 plus one. In no mood to be taxed even more in this battered economy, voters in November quickly repealed a host of tax increases put in place by the majority party in the 2010 legislative session.
I know what Rep. Asay means, but that first sentence seems to imply that I-960 happened after 1053. Also, the will of the people is Democratic control of both houses of the legislature. Has been for a decade. Yet, oddly I don’t see Republican press releases demanding whatever Democrats want in the legislature.
That’s why I was so disappointed when majority Democrats in the House passed an amended version of Senate Bill 5457, the so-called “congestion relief bill.” Despite the catchy title, I voted against this bill because, as it was changed in the House, it does an end-around the voter-approved two-thirds vote requirement to increase taxes.
1053 didn’t say anything about counties or municipalities. We’re now divining the will of the voters based on things they didn’t vote for or against. That simply wasn’t on the ballot. In fact, King County was pretty close to evenly split. I’d bet Seattle and some suburban cities opposed it. Does that mean that their city councils should have majority rule like the framers of the state constitution envisioned?
Senate Bill 5457, as amended, would authorize a simple majority of King County Council members to impose up to an additional $20 in annual car-tab tax to help maintain Metro transit service. From all reports, the King County executive, once the bill is signed into law, will ask for the full amount of the tax. This would raise an estimated $25.5 million for each of the two years the tax will be in place.
Awesome. As a King County resident and a car owner, I’ll gladly pay my share. If enough people don’t like it they can either try to block it at the ballot like many of the state taxes last year, or if they don’t like it but not enough to do that, they can vote out the people who agree to the taxes. Democracy. Awesome.
What makes Senate Bill 5457 so offensive to me is that while the voters approved I-1053 to ensure any tax increase would be required to receive a two-thirds supermajority vote to be approved, the measure violates the will of the people by allowing a simple majority on the King County Council to approve the additional tax.
Again, NOBODY VOTED ON IF KING COUNTY SHOULD HAVE A 2/3 MAJORITY TO PASS ANYTHING. It wasn’t on the ballot. You can’t call the will of the people on an at best tangentially related question. This is crazy.
I see this as a way for the majority party to raise the ante when it comes to how many shenanigans voters will put up with when it comes to how new and increased taxes are approved. I feel as though they are basically telling citizens that while voters clearly and unequivocally directed the Legislature to have a supermajority consensus to increase taxes; they can snub that directive with a simple majority vote of legislators. Now, we are faced with a bill that could allow local governments to skirt the newly-approved mandate from last fall.
Local governments aren’t skirting anything. The mandates were to the legislature. And they were dumb. But even if they were the most sensible policy ever, they have nothing to do with King County.
If there is a good case to be made for higher taxes, let those who are asking for them convince others to support the idea. It’s that simple.
You mean like a majority of the King County Council, the King County Executive, enough voters not to sign a county wide referendum or initiative on that, or if there is a referendum to vote on it? You mean convince those people? Because there are already plenty of checks and balances in the system.
Additionally, and not to be lost in this debate, is that voters approved Initiative 695 specifically to ensure car tabs would cost no more than $30. Whether you like the idea or not, it’s what the people of this state approved. However, each year the Legislature has offered local governments the opportunity to add $20 here and there, weight fees and now this. Senate Bill 5457 is another example of why voters again decided to put such strict standards in place to raise taxes.
695 was ruled unconstitutional. So basically, we have to uphold the will of the people to support one unconstitutional thing, possibly another unconstitutional thing (the previous 2/3 rules have all been on standing, not on the merits). Also, 695 failed in King County. So by this logic, the will of the people is that they have higher car tabs. Why do you hate the imagined will of the people based on something that they didn’t really vote on, Katrina Asay?
This bill is a bad deal for taxpayers and breaks faith with voters. Because the House amended a Senate bill, it must now go back for the Senate to approve or reject the change. For all of our sakes, I can only hope the bill is set aside. It’s the right thing to do to maintain the integrity and spirit of I-1053.
It gives the voters plenty of say. As does every question before a legislative body in Washington. And it helps Metro get through tough fucking times.
– I love, love, love that there are things that scientists discover that have been right under their nose for a long time.
– Has the tunnel debate become too classy?
That’s my 6 word summary of what people want based on the comments at this thread. Well, I don’t know how to up the quality of our trolls, but here’s a post about Washington with swearing:
Hey assholes, turds, jackasses, fuckers, and various shits for brains! Are any of you as pissed off about some Democrats’ (and more Republicans, but they don’t control anything) attempts to fuck with teachers?
As amended by a coalition of eight Senate Democrats and 22 Senate Republicans, the bill now would require school districts facing layoffs to first get rid of teachers who have received the lowest evaluations. That would replace the standard method of using seniority only – the last hired would be the first fired.
Look, there are bad teachers who probably deserve to get fired. If district administrators want to work with the teachers unions to figure out the best methods to fire those teachers, I’m all for it. But it should be part of collective bargaining, not imposed on districts by the legislature. I just realized this paragraph hasn’t had any swear words, so: blumpkin. In any event, those evaluations had better be pretty rock solid if legislators want the state to impose them on school districts.
Gregoire said she doesn’t expect the layoff change to pass the entire Legislature. But if it does, she will not support it. That’s because the state is in the midst of a process to improve the way teachers are evaluated because the existing system doesn’t work.
Well shit, I hope at the very least, that there’s some compelling reason to make this change now.
Numbers collected by the state show that fewer than 1 percent of all teachers have received unsatisfactory grades while all others have been deemed satisfactory. The percentage of principals graded unsatisfactory is less than one-half of 1 percent.
So, if these legislators get their way, the state is going to fuck with collective bargaining to impose a system on districts that mandates hiring and firing based on a system we’re trying to fix. And if you do trust that system, there already is a better than 99% satisfactory rating for those teachers. Thanks, fuckfaces.
It’s been a couple months without Goldy, and I’m curious what you guys who’ve stuck around are interested in. I’m curious about what were your expectations of the blog when he left, and have those of us who post on the front page lived up to them? Do you want a stricter comment policy? More posts? Longer posts? Shorter posts? More writers? If so, who? I don’t pretend that we’ll necessarily be responsive to anything here (it’s not a full time gig for any of us, and I’m going to write about bikes, Lee is going to write about the drug war, and Darryl is going to write about airplanes no matter how much whining there is in the comments), but I am curious about what people come here expecting.
I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but my goal is to keep the place lively and worthwhile to come back to. I try to make sure that there are 2 posts every weekday. So if Darryl and Lee are on fire, I’ll put something in my pocket until the next day, but if nobody else is writing, I’ll try to post something. I try to make sure we’re somewhat regularly supplied with open threads and that the rest of the content I write about is at least things I find interesting. I don’t have the time to write that Goldy did but I think it’s important that politics not be incredibly dry, so I do try to write fun things and on topics I find interesting. I also often write on my commute and hit the Publish button pretty soon before I get to work, so I may not read the comments until lunch. So there’s only so much policing I can do, and as bus time becomes bike time in the spring and summer, there may be less writing from me.
I’ve been doing open threads with links, but could just as easily do videos, etc. There was a time when local political blogging was more of a community affair, and I’m hoping that using this platform to link to interesting writers (and I try to make at least one of the links in the open threads local) will help keep what community we have and perhaps expand it.
But again, I’m curious what you think should happen here. Where should HA go?
– This piece has a cute premise (if not wholly original) that was very well executed. Mostly, I’m linking to it because, what a wonderful opening sentence: “Those sensitive, shrinking violets on the right took a day off from their racist dog whistles and comparing Barack Obama to murderous tyrants to whine about their hurt fee-fees.”
– These pictures are pretty amazing.
– Goldy is right, Rob McKenna is a dick.
Until today, I didn’t realize that this was part of the budget deal.
A rider in the budget bill to keep the federal government in operation has triggered fury among some wildlife groups because it would remove certain wolves from the endangered species list.
I’m not sure what Obama’s side got for it, and I didn’t want the government shut down, so I won’t comment on if it’s good as part of the budget package. But on its own, it stinks. It’s a bad idea, and a worse precedent.
Instead of letting the best science prevail, or forcing the states with dwindling wolf populations to come up with a reasonable recovery plan, it just bypassed the whole process. Even if you agree with the bill’s proponents about the merits of wolf recovery in the Northern Rockies, and you accept that legislation singling out one species is a good idea, it’s only reversible through legislation, so if populations do decline, this law will still be on the books. And surely in the future, with this on the books, we’ll have more states demanding stupid exceptions.
In any event, what right wing Republican nut job thought this would be a good idea?
“Right now, Montana’s wolf population is out of balance and this provision will get us back on the responsible path with state management,” Sen. Jon Tester, a Montana Democrat, said in a written statement. He said he wrote the language together with Republican Rep. Mike Simpson of Idaho.
Awesome. John Tester is so far out there, he has Ron Fucking Paul making sense.
Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas, said the inclusion of such a rider “doesn’t make any sense.”
“And it really shows how out of touch so many people are here in Washington and how unlikely it is that we will get to the bottom of our problems,” Paul said in an interview this week with CNN.
State legislators are trying to pass liquor privatization. I’ll leave it to other people to point out that liquor privatization initiatives failed last year, as well as the pros and cons of this particular measure.
There is one thing I do find interesting about last year’s results: how poorly it did in Eastern Washington. Maybe there’s some moralizing and concern for the budget that compelled the rest of the state (myself included) to oppose liquor privatization. But there’s something else unique to rural Washington.
You see, in many rural parts of the country, capitalism doesn’t work very well. There aren’t enough people in the market for various goods and services, so they don’t get there. In some cases, that’s just how they want things. I think most people who chose to live 50 miles from the nearest stop sign wouldn’t trade with me, no matter how much I’m glad to have a few bakeries within walking distance, and the ability to go out on my bike anywhere I want. Still, rural people want some things that the market can’t provide. So we as a society have set up things like rural electrification, farm subsidies and public radio.
Surely, there are places in rural Washington where there would be less hard alcohol sold if we privatize the system. For a lot of people the selection and hours may not be all they want, but they know they would get less if the state stores went away.
– Somehow, I doubt very much that my father will ever say, “Boy do you have smart commenters.”
– I’m not quite as pessimistic as Oliver about what would happen if there isn’t an extension of the debt ceiling but I imagine some terrible things.
– Bikes for Books at the Lake City Library. Sounds like a great thing for 4th and 5th graders.
It might shock you to learn that an editorial in The Seattle Times pissed me off. But here we go:
PROTEST is a venerable American right. Sleep in the state Capitol building. Camp out on the Capitol grass. Carry signs. Chant, march, yell, make your point.
It is all part of the political process.
Here are a list of things that The Settle Times Editorial Board finds acceptable: Sleep, camp, carry signs, march, yell, and make a point. You may do these. Yes, the people who you want to persuade will probably ignore you. So will the Seattle Times.
But a protest becomes something else when a group of rowdy people storm or try to force their way into the relatively small foyer in the governor’s office in Olympia, which creates a safety hazard.
OH NO LOUD PEOPLE IN A FOYER! Save us from the Rowdy Foyer People!
So it was last week when a large group of protesters from the Service Employees International Union, upset about looming budget cuts, gathered outside Gov. Chris Gregoire’s office. They had earlier marched around the Capitol campus and demonstrated inside the legislative building.
Thank God less than 1% of them were a bit rowdy (and one probably more serious). Otherwise we might have to spend this prime editorial space talking about the issues they protested. Now we can harrumph.
These protesters wanted to talk to the governor. A lot of people do. A pushing match ensued with State Patrol officers who closed the governor’s door and stood guard outside her office to ensure her safety.
Look, they should be an editorial board. Governors call you up if you’re an editorial board. Senators. Legislators. Business leaders. If you were more polite like our editorial page, then more people would call you up.
Anyway, it goes on like this for a while. And it mentions that one of the people was charged with assault and are accused of elbowing and kicking State Patrol officers. Of course, don’t do that. If the entire editorial was, “hey please don’t kick police officers” it would have been fine. And left them space to debate what the actual budget maybe should look like.