KING-5 TV has some pretty strong evidence that
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who represented the 24th and 35th Legislative
Districts in the Legislature for 20 years, is considering
retirement at the end of this term. Owen’s office is not giving any
public clues, but the station got emails through public records
requests that make the case retirement is a real possibility. And
there’s the rationale for keeping that consideration mum:
(Owen aide Ken) “Camp recommends not announcing plans to retire
as it could result in the office losing some of its funding:
‘Another consideration is that if we let them know you’re
definitely retiring, the Governor and the Legislature may try to
reduce the budget. I’m not a fan of telling OFM [Office of
Financial Management] that you’re retiring at this point so that
they don’t have a reason to cut our budget and because if we
formally tell people you’re retiring they’ll just start writing you
off and making you irrelevant.'”
Owen’s Lt. Gov. bio mentions that he’s been in office since
getting elected in 1996. He lives in Shelton and represented the
24th Legislative District in the House from 1977 to 1983 and the
35th Legislative District in the Senate from 1983 to 1997. When he
left the Senate after getting elected as lieutenant governor, he
was replaced by party appointment by Lena Swanson, who then lost
the next election to Tim Sheldon.
The job entails acting as governor while the governor is away,
being president of the Senate and taking a large role in the
state’s international trade missions.
The Los Angeles Times has an informative piece showing
why Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have one clear edge in seeking the
presidential nomination from their parties.
Because neither are currently working for any government,
they’re free to pile up money using Super PACs as long they don’t
say that they are running for president. For Clinton, who for the
time being seems to be the only serious contender on the Democratic
side, this could be a moot issue until she emerges as the
For Bush it’s a bigger deal, because as of right now the
Republican field is competitive. To his advantage is that the other
main contenders all have government jobs.
“Bush did declare he would impose a total cap on how much each
donor could contribute, according to the Washington Post. But it
wasn’t the $5,000 maximum that those in the race are limited to
asking for by law. It was $1 million.”
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are all prohibited from
coordinating with Super PACs. The governors, Chris Christie and
Scott Walker, might have state rules prohibiting them from raising
money from organizations that do business with their states.
Bush is under no restriction, he believes. The Federal Elections
Commission could argue otherwise, but critics contend it doesn’t do
that often enough.
UPDATE: Turns out Ted Cruz has proven adept at raising money, at least the
Super PACs supporting him have. The Washington Post reports the
Super PACs supporting Cruz $31 million in a week.
On Friday some activists got on their iPhones and agreed that on
Saturday they’d throw on their Wolverine work boots to beat
tracks down to Olympia to protest the “communist” Chinese flag
flying on the capitol campus.
I first learned of the controversy from a Facebook thread
started by Mason County Republican Party Chairman Travis Couture,
who asked, “So can someone please explain to me why the hell we are
flying a communist Chinese flag at our capitol? (Rhetorical) We
cant have a ‘Christmas’ tree or a Gadson flag but we can have a
As for the tree question, that call is made by the Association
of Washington Business, because it’s their tree and it’s part of a
fundraiser they’ve been doing for kids for 26 years, according to
this story from the (Spokane)
The governor’s office answered that the flag was up because
there was a delegation visiting from China and that the flag was
removed after they left. The same was done earlier this year when
delegations from Austria and Finland were here. On Monday the flag
of Scotland was raised in honor of Tartan Day.
The video in one of the links above shows the flag being
lowered, with a couple of Gadsden-flag bearing witnesses and a
voice on one of the videos saying, “This is what happens when
America speaks.” That the activists had anything to do with the
flag’s removal is questionable, but not completely clear to me.
First of all, it looks to me that the state staff removed it, not
some roving gang of patriots. The guy has a specific tool to lower
the thing. It all looks quite orderly. Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman
for the governor, said it was state personnel that removed it. But
she also told Huffington Post, “Our state’s
Department of Enterprise Services was going to lower the flag
shortly after that anyway.” The “anyway” in that statement makes me
wonder if even if the protesters didn’t remove it themselves, if
the lowering was expedited by the complaints. She clarified in an
email to me later that, “The flag would have been lowered anyhow,
was my point to HuffPo.”
China makes products we use, like boots, phones, most of our
shoes, other clothing and even, according to one Amazon reviewer,
Gadsden flags. (That’s the one
with the snake and the “Don’t Tread on Me” mantra.) We as a nation
also owe China, or the Chinese, a lot of money. I can’t argue
whether it’s a good idea to fly any other nation’s flag at our
capitol campus, but if you’re going to, how do you decide which
nation to exclude?
And obviously I don’t know what kind of phones the protesters
use or the boots they wore, but they might want to check the
labels, even on those flags.
UPDATE: I asked state officials from the governor’s office and
from the Department of Enterprise Services some additional info.
Some on Facebook are asking about flag protocol.
Smith sent me a list of other nations’ flags that have flown in
the same place for the same reasons. Here they are.
United Kingdom 2014
Japan 2013 and 2014
We also received a detailed explanation from Smith on the flag’s
placement and the criteria for when a foreign flag gets raised.
“We fly the flag of a foreign country in the Flag Circle when a
high level government representative of a country recognized by our
government meets with a statewide official. Countries like Iran and
North Korea are not recognized and we would not fly their national
flag under any circumstance.
“The US government formally recognizes countries. A state does
not. In 1980 the United States formally recognized the People’s
Republic of China.
“International flag standards and the flag code of the United
States specifically state that the flags of sovereign nations need
to be flown from separate staffs and at equal height. No national
flag should be higher than any other national flag. State flags and
banners are different.
“When the US and other national flags are flown together, the
U.S. flag should be in the position of honor and to the right of
other flags. We orient our flags to the north steps of the
Legislative building as the prominent feature of the most
significant building. So looking at the flags from the steps, the
U.S. flag is always to the right and a foreign flag is to its left.
If you look at the flags from the Temple of Justice, however, it
looks backwards. The flags have been oriented in this way for more
than 20 years. With the flags in the conference room they are
oriented to whomever is speaking at the podium, so to the speaker’s
right, but audience’s left.”
Regarding the lowering of the flag, I’ve got a second person
saying it was state staff that removed the flag during a normal
course of duty. Linda Kent from DES sent the following.
“DES received an email Friday afternoon from the Governor’s
office informing us that the Chinese ambassador had departed, and
that the flag could be taken down. The email also contained a
reminder that the Scottish flag should be put up by Monday
“In the past, there has not been a specific time frame for flags
to come down. Basically the building and grounds crew works the
changing of flags in between other duties on the Capitol
I agree with one critic who said we have bigger issues to worry
about. My reason for diving in has much to do with Fox News’
coverage, which was shown Monday on the show “Fox and Friends.” The
coverage obviously involves no original reporting and seems to rely
solely on the accounts offered on sites like Gateway Pundit.
Somehow I expect more from the news organization with the tagline
“Fair & Balanced,” and the one that can legitimately brag that it is
the most trusted news network in the nation.
Senate Republicans offer a tuition cut and reject a collective
bargaining agreement the governor’s office reached with state
employees. The party then offers $1,000 per year to all state
employees. A statement issued by the Washington Federation of State
Employees argues that the Legislature can reject an agreement, but
not make a new proposal.
“If contracts are rejected, the process calls for a return to
negotiations. In this instance, Senate budget writers have
by-passed our rights by instead authorizing flat raises of $1000
per full-time employee (prorated for part-time positions) per year
of the two-year biennium. Under the collective bargaining statute,
they cannot offer alternatives. In this case, the Senate has
offered an alternative that is illegal under the law.”
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, highlights the “no new
taxes” feature of the Republican budget, making no mention of the
state employee clause. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, the Potlatch
Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, also highlighted the
“no new taxes” feature of the Senate budget, but also addressed the
collective bargaining rejection. He said the budget, “Provides a
flat $2,000 annual cost-of-living increase for state employees –
meaning 25,000 state workers will see a larger increase than under
agreements bargained between the governor’s office and public
It took a while, but
we heard back from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, regarding
an email blast Friday critical of her from initiative guru Tim
This issue comes from a bill Angel cosponsored with
two other Republicans and a Democrat. It passed 41-8 in the Senate
earlier this month, with all three Kitsap senators voting in favor.
All but one of the eight who voted “no” were Republicans. That’s
seven Republicans voting, “no,” which means 18 favor the bill.
The legislation is in the House now.
The bill would require that any initiative that the
state budget office determines will either add more than $25
million in costs or cut more than $25 million in revenues to the
state have the following statement added to the initiative title on
the ballot, “The state budget office has determined that this
proposal would have an unfunded net impact of [amount] on the state
general fund. This means other state spending may need to be
reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”
Eyman said the emails reveal Angel’s true intent was
to stop some initiatives from happening, naming possible voter
actions authored by the Washington Education Association and the
Service Employees International Union.
“This is extremely disturbing. Having legislators plotting and scheming to
‘stop’ certain initiatives ‘from getting on the ballot’ is a gross
abuse of power. It doesn’t
matter whether it is politicians conniving to block liberal
initiatives or politicians scheming to undermine conservative
initiatives,” Eyman wrote.
Angel responded by email saying, “I am a co-sponsor
of this bipartisan bill SB5715 which is a ‘transparency’
issue for the voter to help make a decision when voting. It
passed in a strong bipartisan fashion off the Senate floor with a
vote of 41-8. The ballot title would include a fiscal note
only under certain circumstances and doesn’t affect the citizen
initiative process at all.”
What follows is Eyman’s email blast to supporters and
reporters, Angel’s response and video from Wednesday’s House
There was far more material than I could use in the story about
the passing of Adele Ferguson. Here are some more comments I think
you’ll enjoy. There could be a few more. I received some written
stories, but I’m double-checking to make sure the writers would be
fine with me including them. Check back. They’re good ones.
“I always liked Adele because she would stab me in the front.” —
Former Gov. Dan Evans. This quote actually was told to me by David
Ammons, former AP statehouse reporter now with the Secretary of
State’s office, but Evans confirmed that he said it.
“She was the den mother in a moveable feast. She was absolutely
hilarious; I’ve never known a better story teller.” John Hughes,
former editor of the Aberdeen Daily World, now overseeing the
Secretary of State’s Legacy Project.
“They called her’Senator Adele,'” Rachel Pritchett, former
Kitsap Sun reporter who met Adele in the 1980s. Pritchett was a
communications staff member in the state Senate at the time.
“She was tough as nails, but she was also very feminine and
dressed smartly. She was not feminist in the modern sense of the
word. She pushed for the right for women reporters to wear pants on
the floor.” — David Ammons
“She was a phenomenal asset to Bremerton. She defended Bremerton
and she defended the Navy to the hilt.” — Ralph Munro, former
Washington Secretary of State
“Adele was great. She could swear and drink with the
best of the backroom politicians. I remember one time
late in Warren G. Magnuson’s career he came into the office
assisted by two of his aides. They had hold of each of his elbows
so he wouldn’t fall down. He stopped right next to my desk to
steady himself and catch his breath. He still had about 30 feet to
go to get to Adele’s office and made it in another couple minutes.
The next day in her column Adele called Magnuson ‘robust and
healthy.’ That was so far from the truth, but only Adele could get
away with that. All the top politicians made appearances in her
office. She was one of a kind, and I really liked her and got along
great with her because she called them like she saw them, except
for Warren G.)” — Terry Mosher, former Kitsap Sun reporter
“She was the only media person who sat through the Gamscam trial
from day one to day end, so she had an opportunity of hearing all
the testimony and listening to the various witnesses. She was a
steadfast in my defense in that time and continued to be so.” —
Gordon Walgren, former state legislator who served about two years
in prison in connection with the Gamscam scandal.
“She was such a person of such stature. The Kitsap Sun should be
so proud.” Rachel Pritchett.
“She never did go for a tape recorder to record. She was about
the last reporter who depended on her own shorthand, but she easily
the most accurate reporter that covered me.” — Dan Evans
“Adele could punish when she thought you did something wrong.
Several times she would lay me out, but we were always friends.”
Norm Dicks, former congressman.
“She was bigger than life for me when I was very young.” —
“She gave as good as she got. She was deliciously bawdy and
funny. Boy could she write.” — John Hughes.
“She had more insight in the capitol building than anyone, by
far. She could smell a story two or three days before the next guy
knew there was even one coming.” — Ralph Munro
“At times she would be salty. She could be critical, but she was
always fair.” — Norm Dicks
“Feisty. Opinionated. Conservative. She had her own ideas and
carried them out as best she could. Most of all she was a good
friend.” — Gordon Walgren
“If Lehman (John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy) was at
the Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce and he and I had gone fishing
that day, she wanted to know all the details.” Norm Dicks,
explaining Adele’s love of salmon fishing.
Dan Evans said Adele was covering an event in Washington, D.C.
and was sitting next to him. A button came off his sport coat. She
looked in her purse and found a sewing kit and sewed the button
back on. “It was the last thing you would expect out of adele. She
said, ‘You tell anybody about this and I’ll kill you.'”
“I was sitting next to her. I asked her what it would take to
get onto the Bremerton Sun. She said, ‘Not much, apparently.” —
One of Adele’s fellow Olympia reporters was on deadline to send
in a column, but “he was so drunk there was no way he could have
written that column.” Adele said, “‘I wrote the column for him. I
knew how he wrote.’ I don’t think you could get away with that
nowadays.” — Dan Evans
“She would invite people into her office and say, ‘Don’t sit
down.” — Rachel Pritchett
When I got to spend those four days up there, (Hughes
interviewed Adele over four days for the Legacy Project oral
history about Adele. about the fourth day I decided it would not be
imprudent. I allowed myself to have a little beaker; I think it was
MacNaughton’s. I kissed her on the forehead and she said, ‘Don’t be
fresh.’” — John Hughes
“She was a superb political reporter. She feared no one and she
was always up front in her feelings.” Dan Evans
Point of personal privilege: In the first six years I worked for
the Kitsap Sun beginning in 2002 I knew Adele Ferguson mostly
through her columns in the local biweeklies and from her questions
at debates during election season. It was in 2008 that things
changed for me. We attended both county party conventions, offering
coverage for our different publications. Again, she was writing for
the biweeklies. I was writing for the paper she had been the voice
of for almost five decades.
At the Republican convention the party gave her a Barnes &
Noble gift card. I sat next to her at the Democratic convention and
the party didn’t give her any gifts, but several delegates came to
the table to say “Hello” to her. This was the first time I ever had
a lengthy conversation with Adele and I was charmed like you
wouldn’t believe. Maybe if you ever met her you would believe
A few things charmed me. One, she was a vivacious story teller,
and I’m a sucker for stories. Secondly, she had all kinds of
respect from a large number of Democrats that day. Certainly they
didn’t like her politics, but they loved her. Third, she said she
used the gift from the Republicans to buy Barack Obama’s books.
Fourth, for all that she had accomplished she didn’t ever treat me
as anything but a peer, and given her history and all she
accomplished she had every right to act superior.
After that I got to meet with her at her home in Hansville when
the state made her one of three oral history subjects. At other
times I would call her when I needed a quote about someone with
political history here in Washington or for other various reasons.
In every instance she was gracious to me. I know others can’t say
that. I guess I was a lucky one.
It is true that she wrote columns later in life that were
unsupportable. Not that many, but how many does it take? Set that
aside for a moment and consider the woman’s life as a whole. We,
both women and men, walk through doors she opened. It’s hard for me
to imagine some of our open government laws existing without
reporters like Adele Ferguson, who called nonsense on secrecy.
Women, particularly journalists, owe their opportunities to Adele
and others like her.
I’m 53 and I enjoy political reporting, but I’m content in the
reality that my chances of ever filling Adele’s shoes as a
political reporter are slim. Perhaps that time has passed for
anyone, but even if it hasn’t it would be akin to matching the
greatness of a Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax. She meant that much.
For me, even though Adele will be remembered generally for her
work as a political reporter, I’ll remember her most through two
stories she told me at that Democratic convention. From that moment
on I was a fan. She also told them to John Hughes, who wrote her
biography and oral history for the state’s Legacy Project. Those
stories will conclude this insufficient memorial. Allow me to add
one more thing. I’m really going to miss Adele. I feel lucky that I
ever got to meet her.
It is not lost on
us as reporters how much work our governments dedicate to
fulfilling requests for public records from the likes of us and
citizens. We, most of us anyway, try to be reasonable.
We know it also might seem unfair that we can and do attend
meetings some government officials would rather we didn’t. I was
once asked by a well-intentioned elected official to not attend a
meeting. Asked. Then when I attended I was asked what I was doing
there. Neither question was legally justifiable, though I trust
there wasn’t malice in either of them.
Perhaps you know some government folks who you could encourage
to partake in some training. Perhaps you are a government official
willing to get a refresher course. Washington State Auditor Troy
Kelley is offering to provide it. From 3-5 p.m. on March 24 he will
offer a free Open Government & Transparency training session in
the Auditor’s Office building in Tumwater. The office did
open-government trainings across the state last year it says were
For what it’s worth, most government officers I’ve worked with
have been entirely cooperative about sharing what was needed. But
the law being the law and open government being something we value,
this kind of training can save a local government a lot of A.
money, B. time, and C. embarrassment when something that should be
in the sunshine is hidden, intentionally or not.
Jim Brunner of the Seattle Times wrote a story detailing a
disconnect in what oil and gas industry officials say publicly and
how they’re responding to Gov. Jay Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal.
Industry officials say they support cap-and-trade, but they’re no
fans of Inslee’s proposal or of what’s happening in California.
When asked what kind of proposal they would favor, they don’t offer
Included with the story, however, is a chart that is useful, but
illustrates how easy it is to make a false equation in politics.
The chart shows that state Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, has
received more campaign money from oil and gas interests than all
but one other legislative politician in the state. State Sen. Jan
Angel, R-Port Orchard, comes in at No. 8 for donations she received
for her 2013 campaign. Here is a list of the oil and gas industry
contributions that went to Kitsap candidates in 2013 and 2014.
The easy accusation is to say that a legislator, once gifts are
offered, is paid for. I won’t argue that money has no influence,
but its bigger influence is in who gets elected, not in what the
politician does once in office. To illustrate that point, let me
ask you this question: If the oil and gas industry hadn’t
contributed $13,700 to Tim Sheldon’s campaign, do you think he
would then favor Inslee’s proposal? I seriously doubt it. If you
doubt me, do you think that same amount of money would have
influenced Irene Bowling’s vote?
I could give you new evidence about the impact of money and
politics, but instead I’ll give one I’ve offered before.
More than years ago This American Life, addressed
the issue. Andrea Seabrook asked Democrat Barney Frank if money
Barney Frank: People say, “Oh, it doesn’t
have any effect on me.” Look, if that were the case, we would be
the only human beings in the history of the world who, on a regular
basis, took significant amounts of money from perfect strangers and
made sure that it had no effect on our behavior. That is not human
Andrea Seabrook: On the other hand, he
says, there are things that influence a politician besides
Barney Frank: If the voters have a
position, the votes will kick money’s rear end any time. I’ve never
met a politician — I’ve been in the legislative bodies for 40 years
now — who, choosing between a significant opinion in his or her
district and a number of campaign contributors, doesn’t go with the
And I have had people tell me — and we talk honestly to each
other, we don’t lie to each other very often. You don’t survive if
you do. As chairman of a committee, I’d be lobbying for votes.
I have had members say to me, Mr. Chairman, I love you.
Barney, you’re right. But I can’t do that politically because I’ll
get killed in my district. No one has ever said to me, I’m sorry,
but I got a big contributor I can’t offend.
I’m not defending anyone here. I’m just suggesting that the oil
and gas industry ponied up money for Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel
because they knew Tim Sheldon and Jan Angel. I don’t think either
has ever shown any sign of being a fence sitter on cap and
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman is proposing the
state’s political parties use the presidential primary results
to allocate at least some part of their delegates to the national
political conventions. And she has provided a carrot, or maybe it’s
a stick, to get them to go along.
Some history is in order.
In 2008 Washington Republicans allocated half
their delegates from the February primary, which according to the
Secretary of State’s office is what they have always done. The
Democrats allocated none in 2008. It would have played more of a
factor on the Democratic side, too, because Barack Obama won by a
big margin in the caucuses, but just by a few points in the state
primary, a reflection of what happened nationwide. Clinton fared
much better with everyday Democratic voters across the country,
while Obama did well with people more willing to take a day off to
weigh in at the caucuses.
Of the state’s pledged 78 Democratic delegates
in 2008, 52 went to Obama and 26 went to Clinton. Had Democrats
done what Republicans did, the margin would have been 26-13 from
the caucuses, and something like 20-18 from the primary, with John
Edwards picking up the straggler. The final delegate count
combining the caucus and primary would have been Obama 46, Clinton
31, and Edwards 1. The Edwards delegate would have probably ended
up in Obama’s totals.
Obama ended up winning the national pledged
delegate count by 102 delegates, but didn’t secure the majority
until June. And by the time the Feb. 9, 2008 caucuses began he was
only up by 11 delegates overall.
Looking back at how the election played out,
had Washington Democrats done what Republicans did with the primary
in 2008, the ultimate result would likely have been the same. Obama
would have won. But perhaps there are some who could argue that a
five-delegate shift, which amounts to 10 points in the margin,
could have made a psychological difference. The fact is, though, we
don’t know how many people skipped out on the 2008 Washington
presidential primary or voted Republican, because the Democratic
primary was a taxpayer-funded beauty contest.
The reason we have a presidential primary at
all is because voters submitted an initiative to the Legislature in
1989 asking for one. In 2012 (Just as it did in 2004.) the state
suspended the presidential primary to save $10 million. As the law
stands now the parties don’t have to recognize the numbers from the
primary. Bills in the House, HB 2139, and Senate, SB 5978, would change that.
If each party agrees to allocate part of their
delegate count from the primary, voters would have to declare a
party for that election and choose among that party’s candidates.
Your party prefence selection would be a matter of public record,
so if you pick a Republican or Democratic ballot, everyone in the
state has the right to know that. If you sit out the election no
one will know which party you prefer. If the parties don’t
agree the state would create a single ballot with every candidate’s
name. In no circumstance would anyone know who you voted for.
That, in fact, is where the carrot and stick
come in. The state Republican and Democratic parties both love
getting the lists of which voters picked which party. They haven’t
received one of those since 2008, so a fresh list would update
their data for fundraising and mailing. Under the terms of this
law, if they don’t each allocate at least part of their pledged
national delegates from the primary, there is no such list, because
the Secretary of State would create one ballot that tells the
Presidential primaries do more for parties in
years when there is no incumbent running, because in theory each
race has a real contest. Another reason for parties to like
primaries comes in years when candidates at the extreme end of
party philosophy capture less affection from regular voters than
they do from the more devoted. In 2008 any of the Democratic
frontrunners could have fared well in November and Dennis Kucinich
wasn’t getting enough support even at the caucuses to threaten
Obama, Clinton or Edwards, so strategically the party could afford
to ignore the primary. For Republicans in 2008 the thorn to the
party bosses was Ron Paul, who received 8 percent of the
primary vote (compared to 50 percent for John McCain), but 22
percent at the state caucuses, just 3 percentage points behind
The Legislature has to allocate funds to have
the primary. Kitsap County would spend an estimated $345,000 to
hold the election, but like all counties would be reimbursed by the
A story we reported in 2008 from the
presidential primary follows.
UPDATE: Pam Roach received a letter from Lt. Gov.
Brad Owen regarding her behavior in this hearing and others. The
link to the story is at the end of this post.
NOTE: We have placed a survey on the right relating
to this post.
John Stang from Crosscut provided us a great rundown on a
hearing of a bill that made it into committee last week in the
Senate but isn’t likely to make it out.
I got interested in the legislation, which would call for more
reporting and training on paid signature gatherers, because in
Tim Eyman’s email he described it as the hearing blowing
up. He was right. For me it was an amazing show mostly by
Senate Government Operations Committee Chairwoman Pam Roach, an
I’ve never witnessed a Roach-led hearing before and if they’re
all like this I don’t think I ever want to miss another one. It
began when the Fred Meyer/QFC’s Melinda Merrill dared say store
customers were being harassed by signature gatherers at their
stores. Roach was willing to entertain that idea for somewhere
south of a couple seconds. As Stang reported, Roach wondered if
Merrill could provide names. Merrill could not but vouched for the
honesty of their customers and store employees.
There were four reps from grocery stores there, and Roach took
every opportunity she could to interrupt to turn the conversation
to one about her last election, which she reminded the audience she
won. This was less a hearing about the deportment of signature
gatherers than it was about payback for grocery store lobbyists
favoring her opponent in November.
It was a show that didn’t need Eyman to spice it up, but he was
there. Eyman, if you’re new to these parts, is most often
identified as Washington’s “initiative guru,” having turned a
passion into a living several years ago and working every year to
generate mostly tax-saving ballot measures. Eyman not only
dismissed the claim that a signature gatherer would harass any
customer, he said it was a strategy by opponents of his initiatives
to go into store managers and falsely claim that they were
And while I don’t cotton much to conspiracy theories, my own
experience makes me wonder if he has a point. So here, and in the
right rail of this blog, is my question. I think Sen. Roach would
appreciate you answering, too. Have you ever been verbally harassed
by a signature gatherer?
Yes or no, go answer the survey. If yes, Sen. Roach wants to
hear from you if you’re willing to provide your name. At least
that’s what I think she was inviting at the hearing.
The reason I ask is because I haven’t told a single signature
gatherer “yes” to signing any initiative in the 14 years I’ve lived
in this state and I’ve only experienced anything close to
harassment twice. Both times it was when a reporter tried to
explain that we reporters don’t sign those things, ever.
The first one was at the Seattle Center when a friend of mine
made the mistake of trying to explain why to someone who clearly
had ingested so much Red Bull that the sensitivity
portion of his brain had been snuffed out. I say my friend made a
mistake because there was plenty of room to walk away from the
miscreant, but my friend wanted him to agree.
The second time, though, was here in Bremerton when there was a
meeting about Washington State Ferries and there was a petition
being circulated dealing with a local ferry initiative. A reporter
from a rival paper tried to explain why she wouldn’t sign a
petition and the ferry zealot tried to talk her into it, as if
her several minutes of badgering would override years of being told
by journalism professors and bosses that signing a petition is no
better than planting a campaign sign in your yard or your copy.
Still, she persisted, shutting up only because the meeting was
Other than those two incidents, I can’t remember a single time
an initiative gatherer tried to get strong with me. I say “No,
thank you.” and walk inside the store. I’ve sensed disappointment,
but I don’t stick around long enough to verify it.
This is why I want to ask you whether you’ve ever been addressed
more aggressively by a signature gatherer than you’d like. Story
commenter dardena said he was by someone gathering ink for
Initiative 502, the one dealing with marijuana.
Lest you worry, this legislation’s sponsor, Democrat Marko Liias
of Lynnwood, told Stang he didn’t think the bill would make it out
of committee. If true, this means we don’t need to discuss the
merits and cons of the legislation. A similar bill that received 71
votes in the House last year got blasted by newspapers and
didn’t get far in the Senate.
Again, though, the entertainment factor provided by Roach was
stellar. I’ve never seen a committee hearing that was so much about
the committee chair. If only someone had thrown Roach a
football she could have spiked like Gronk.
UPDATE: Rache La Corte from the AP’s
Olympia bureau wrote the story Monday (Feb. 16) that
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen sent Roach a letter admonishing her for her
behavior as chairwoman in this committee and others. Writes La
The four-page letter obtained Monday by The Associated Press was
sent to Roach on Friday. In it, Owen states that her “abusive
behavior” must stop. He also informs her that she can only meet
with nonpartisan committee staff when in the presence of another
senator on the committee, Republican Sen. Kirk Pearson.
Roach said Monday that she hadn’t yet read the letter in its
entirety, but said it was a “very unfair assessment.”
“I am a fair chair,” she said. “I am a tough chair.”
In the original post here we didn’t mention a couple other
moments that might be sparking the concern from Owen. At one point
a committee staffer reads the information about the bill. There is
nothing remarkable about his reading and is done as it has been in
every other bill hearing I’ve witnessed. These bills are also
discussed at length after these reports, so in some sense the
non-partisan staffer’s reading appears some pro forma. But Roach
told him that next time he ought to slow down. She wasn’t harsh,
but that’s not something I’ve ever seen in committee, and his
reading was not at all unusual.
Another piece that Owen doesn’t mention is that during the
committee hearing Don Benton, a Vancouver Republican who with every
Senate Democrat helped Roach take the Senate Pro Tempore position
away from Democrat Tim Sheldon, questioned Sen. Marko Liias’
argument that Washington State Patrol had nine investigations on
signature gatherers during a recent election, but because of lax
reporting requirements could only fully investigate one of them.
Benton said he found that hard to believe. At the end of the
hearing Liias wanted and opportunity to respond with his evidence,
but Roach wouldn’t let him, saying she had to keep control of
According to La Corte’s story Roach is crafting a response to
Owen, part of which argues that she has “been the most unfairly
treated senator in state history.”
UPDATE — I might have painted too optimistic a picture
on the chances on this bill. On Feb. 5 the Senate Law and Justice
Committee voted 4-3 to send SB 5006 to Ways & Means. But it
wasn’t as easy as all that. The explanation follows the original
“Time makes more converts than reason.” — Thomas
A year ago a bill dealing with the rights of men who prove the
children they support financially are not biologically theirs
received enough support to make it to the state Senate floor, but
not enough to get a vote on time.
By all indications the bill, SB 5006, should have an easier time of
it this year than last.
The legislation would not apply to children conceived through
fertility treatments or for children who were adopted by a
non-biological father. Existing law would allow a man to question
paternity within four years of accepting it, but judges have more
discretion in allowing testing than the new law would dictate.
We wrote about the
bill last year, giving some attention to how it came to be.
It was presented to Angel by Naomi and Andrew Evans of
Bremerton. They have been dealing with the kind of situation in
question for some time, saying Andrew was told when he was 19 that
he was the father of the baby his girlfriend was carrying. They
married and divorced and both sides have seen their share of days
in court. Andrew questioned whether he was the father, said he got
tested and found out he wasn’t. The way the law stands now he has
no recourse. Should the bill pass the courts would have to give him
We reached out to the mother in question and someone who
contacted us on her behalf said there would be no comment.
The disagreement between adults is not the child’s fault, which
is why opponents of the bill argued last year that the welfare of
the child should not be threatened as this new legislation could
But Angel and others have said this is a fairness issue, that
fathers who are led to believe they are biologically responsible
and therefore financially responsible should not have to continue
being responsible if genetic testing proves they were wrong or lied
to about paternity.
If a mother is financially harmed by this legislation, she could
turn to the state to make up for it, so there could be a cost to
taxpayers. But again, Angel argues that a duped non-biological
father shouldn’t pay the price for a child that isn’t his. The mom
needs to go where anyone would go when faced with a new financial
And this time, by all indications, legislators seem to agree.
The House companion to Angel’s bill, sponsored by state Rep.
Michelle Caldier, a Port Orchard Republican, was sent to Judiciary
and has seven co-sponsors, three of them Democrats.
A delay in the bill moving forward is happening, Naomi Evans
said she was told, because state officials want to be sure that men
who have been paying won’t be entitled to back payments, so an
amendment is in the works.
Naomi Evans said she and other advocates spent a day in Olympia
talking to 50 legislators from the Senate and House committees that
are home to the bill and found only one legislator who outright
said he would oppose the bill. Another one or two were iffy. All
others expressed support, she said.
If that’s true it looks like legislators getting a year to think
about it has made a difference, because any changes to this year’s
version of the bill were not substantial, according to Angel.
The angst about the child being harmed over the loss of
money does not seem to be trumping the question of
fairness in dictating who pays the bill.
Earlier in the session I questioned whether that was the case. I
wondered if opponents were waiting for a House hearing to pile on
in hopes of swaying a more sympathetic Democratic leadership. That
might also be the forum where any perceived substantive technical
problems could be aired, making it too late to pass. But I’ve seen
no evidence of that.
Time, which seems to have won some legislators over, will
UPDATE — As mentioned earlier, the Senate Law and Justice
Committee voted 4-3 to send an amended bill to the Ways and Means
Committee, from where it could go to the floor.
The amendment does specify that non-bio fathers would only be
saved any future payments, that the state wouldn’t be liable to pay
them back should genetic testing prove the father was not
biologically related to the child. A man who was behind in payments
would still have to make up however much he hadn’t payed, perhaps
ensuring that no dad just stops paying in anticipation of expected
developments in the future in court.
The one-vote split reflected party differences, however, with
the four “do pass” recommendations coming from Republicans and the
three “do not pass” votes coming from Democrats. Should that hold
it’s fine for the Senate, but could present problems in the House,
even though three Democrats co-sponsored the House version.
The bigger problem is one of the Republican votes was from state
Sen. Pam Roach of Auburn. Democrat Jamie Pedersen said he had
problems with the bill because he said it undermines a state
policy on what parentage is and because of the way it could
affect parenting plans.
Roach, while she agreed to send it on, said she had concerns and
that the bill needed work. She said she wondered if fathers would
still have access to the children, and while she agreed with the
overall aim of the legislation, I wouldn’t take her willingness to
move it as a guarantee she would vote for it on the floor. “I vote
it out and I say I think it needs some work,” she said.
According to the report on the bill the Department of Health
would like implementation of the law delayed so it has time to
develop policies to match the mandate.
Meanwhile, in the House there has been no movement at all on the
We haven’t talked about this in a while here, and probably with
good reason. Once I saw the birth certificate and newspaper
clipping showing our current president was born in a hospital in
Hawaii it seemed pretty clear to me that Barack Obama was qualified
at birth to run for president once he turned 35.
But others who continue to fight this battle want clarity on
what it means to be a “natural born citizen.” Tracy A. Fair is one
of those, and in a press release which follows this post she makes
the case that the Supreme Court needs to define it. She’s using
that question to challenge the presidential candidacies of Florida
Sen. Marco Rubio, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Louisiana Gov. Bobby
Some years ago there was talk of revisiting the whole
requirement about being born here to qualify as president. This was
when some people were seriously talking about Arnold Schwarzenegger
as a presidential candidate.
What do you think? Is this requirement outdated? Should there be
other requirements in place instead?
Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was one of several local (Kitsap
and Mason County) legislators who responded to my request for input
on the education budget for 2015. Specifically I asked for their
thoughts on the chances of a teacher’s COLA being reinstated and
other thoughts on teachers’ salaries. Perhaps due to crossed wires
on her part, mine or both, Angel’s response came late for
in my article, which ran today.
Note, Jan. 28: I have heard from Senator Angel that she did
send the response last week, so apparently there was a technical
glitch in the email on our end. My apologies, Jan.
Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to
reinstate the COLA?
Budget challenges have forced the Legislature to delay or set
aside I-732 as we worked to pay for our priorities of government
and, when it comes to education, we had to pay for what is most
effective for student achievement first. This year with $3 billion
additional revenue in state coffers, we potentially have the
ability to pay for increased maintenance costs, the minimum
investment in schools required by McCleary and the teacher COLA
required by I-732. Of course, the specifics of the budget will go
through negotiations and restructuring, but as our revenue outlook
currently stands, we are likely to have enough money to provide the
teacher COLA this year, which I do support.
Describe the pressures you will face as a legislator to
suspend the COLA to pay for other education expenses.
We want to prioritize our education spending toward what will do
most to address our 77% graduation rate and our lacking student
achievement rates. I believe that providing a great teacher in
every classroom is very important for student success and making
sure we provide them competitive compensation is part of reaching
that goal. Our teachers are hard-working and dedicated to our
children and I want to make sure we do the best we can for them. As
the budget is scrutinized and negotiated, I hope we can reach a
solution that supports our teachers while meeting our obligations
on other budget demands.
What, in your opinion, are the chances the COLA will be
Based on our revenue outlook and initial reactions from
budget-writers, the chances are positive.
The governor’s office projects a $2 billion shortfall,
despite rising revenue. Randy Dorn at OSPI thinks, with the class
size initiative, the real cost could be at least $4.5 billion and
possibly closer to $7 billion for the 2015-2017 budget. Given the
projected budget shortfall, is it realistic for the Legislature to
discuss teacher/school employee compensation in the upcoming
The Governor assumes some cost increases that are not required
for the government to keep running, but I think the importance of
supporting teachers and the fact that we have a statutory
commitment suggests that we give it our most thoughtful
In your opinion, why is/isn’t compensation a compelling
issue at this time?
As mentioned before, the direct correlation between student
achievement and teacher compensation is not clear, so it is
difficult to prioritize when we are trying to reach higher student
success rates. Prioritizing a budget is difficult work, but I hope
we can address this with the tax dollars we’ve been given to work
with. I would also like to see additional training dollars
allocated. Our teachers have been asked to perform a number of new
duties without training provided to do so – – this creates
frustration and puts them in a difficult position.
If you support a compensation reset for school employees,
how should the Legislature pay for it?
This is a complicated budget issue that requires negotiation and
the prioritization of available funds. We are still in the process
of determining what is the best use of taxpayer dollars so we’ll
have to see how much we have to work with before we can begin the
strategy of putting these pieces together. Teachers receive several
different types of pay so this can be complicated.
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, issued this statement
following the president’s State of the Union address:
“Tonight, the President detailed why America wins when a growing
economy expands opportunities for everyone. Overall, we are
creating new jobs and our unemployment rate is falling. Now we can
do more to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to enter the
middle-class, and that families still feeling squeezed find ways to
get ahead. That means giving students the key to unlock the doors
of a quality education, helping workers get the skills they need to
compete for 21st century jobs, and ensuring our businesses on Main
Street have the tools they need to grow and expand. The President
also called for Congress to come together so we can keep the good
economic news coming. I look forward to working with my colleagues
to improve our infrastructure so businesses can more easily get
their products to customers and to simplify a complex, convoluted
tax code so we can encourage businesses to innovate and grow jobs
here in the United States, not overseas.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democrat, issued this
“Tonight President Obama offered bold ideas that confront some
of the most important issues facing our nation, foremost among them
the need to provide working families with a more meaningful share
in our economic recovery. It is my hope that Congress will pursue
common ground with the President to tackle these issues, for the
benefit of our state and the entire country.
“The first requirement for progress in a divided government is a
willingness to work together. In order to move forward it is
incumbent on all elected leaders to offer solutions to the
challenges we face.”
Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said this:
“I am very glad that President Obama laid out an agenda that
puts well-paying middle class jobs first and would offer
opportunities to all families in Washington state and across the
country who want to work hard and succeed, not just the wealthiest
few. Republicans control Congress and can decide to push us toward
more gridlock and dysfunction if they want, but if they are willing
to come to the table to get results for the families and
communities we represent, I am ready to get to work.
“I was especially glad that President Obama reiterated his
strong support for helping workers across the country increase
their wages and economic security. Washington state is leading the
way in showing that increasing the minimum wage raises wages far up
the income ladder, increases demand for the goods and services
local businesses provide, and helps the economy grow from the
middle out, not the top down. And it’s time for the federal
government to step up.
“I was glad to hear President Obama throw his support behind my
Healthy Families Act, which would help workers earn paid sick days
so they can care for a loved one without falling behind or losing a
job they put so much work into. And I strongly agree with the
President that we need to do more to make sure that big
corporations can’t game the system and underpay their workers who
put in overtime hours.
“A strong education for every student in America is a critical
piece of a middle class economic agenda, and I am very glad that
President Obama laid out some important policies and goals tonight.
I am going to be working with his Administration and my colleagues
in Congress over the coming months to fix the broken No Child Left
Behind and make sure it works for every student no matter where
they live, how they learn, or how much money their parents make.
And I am going to continue fighting to increase access to higher
education for students who want to work hard, graduate, and help
local businesses succeed.
“I also strongly agree with President Obama that we should close
wasteful loopholes and tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans and
biggest corporations, and direct those tax cuts and investments to
the middle class and families who need a hand up—the ones who will
actually drive economic growth. Many Republicans have spent years
fighting to shift the tax burden from the well-off and
well-connected to the middle class, but I am hopeful that public
pressure will push those Republicans into working with us to put
money into the pockets of the middle class, not those who need it
the least. Expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit for more workers
is one tax policy with bipartisan support that I will be fighting
for and that we should be able to move on quickly.”
Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., had this to say:
“Tonight, President Obama laid out a clear plan for
strengthening the middle class. We see signs that our economic
recovery is gaining ground, but too few Americans are
participating. We must work across party lines to strengthen the
middle class through investments in workforce training, more
affordable higher education, and a focus on manufacturing jobs.
“I am especially pleased that the President has announced plans
to open the doors of opportunity for millions more Americans by
lowering the cost of community colleges. We’ve seen positive
results with similar programs in Washington state. More than 1,000
students have gained access to higher education under a South
Seattle College initiative that provided a free year of tuition to
eligible students. Expanding community college access will help
millions of Americans get new skills to pursue their dreams and
grow our economy.”
From Republicans I pulled from other news organizations. Since
we don’t have any representing us in federal office, they don’t
send us their statements.
Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler was quoted in The Columbian.
“The president outlined a number of initiatives tonight for
which he will need help from Congress,” U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera
Beutler, R-Camas, said in a statement. “While he and I don’t always
agree on the government’s role in helping individuals and small
businesses, Americans are expecting us to work together to find
common ground. I remain ready and willing to do just that.”
Joel Connelly at the Seattle P-I quoted to Washington
But Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., a member of the House
Republican leadership, was out with a statement that was hard,
unrelenting and partisan.
She hoped President Obama would stand up for the “hardworking
families” of her Eastern Washington district, McMorris Rodgers
claimed. “Instead he stood up for Washington, D.C. He stood up for
the old, outdated top-down approaches of the past — while I believe
in an open, organic, bottom-up vision of the future.”
Newly elected Rep. Dan Newhouse, R-Wash., hewed to the
Republican position that Obama is offering “the same
government-centered, tax-and-spend approach of the past.”
Still, Newhouse said he is willing to “work with anyone” to help
the beleaguered middle class, “expand energy and free trade
policies that grow our economy.” Newhouse has a right flank to
guard in Eastern Washington, but has served as both a GOP state
legislator and state agriculture director under a Democratic
As of this writing we’re about 90 minutes away from President
Barack Obama’s seventh State of the Union address. If you’re
scoring at home that means he has one more before he is out of
office and his popularity surges.
I have a friend, a Facebook friend really (which is not the same
as a friend friend), who has been posting her disdain today for
this event, not because of the speech, but because Obama’s giving
It got me thinking about the usefulness of the State of the
Union. It is good in one sense because it telegraphs the
president’s moves beyond, “I’m going to veto everything you
knuckleheads send me.” It gives the president a chance to lay out
an agenda for the year, and all kidding aside I believe that is a
useful function of the speech. And I’m also a fan of trotting out
examples of a few people who make us feel good about being
Still, I can’t say I’m ever excited about a State of the Union
address. I’m even less enthused about opposition responses. I think
this is a function of sitting still for live television for
anything other than sports becoming a dying practice. I sat Sunday
for the Seahawks game and I’d bet money that the president, no
matter how eloquent he is, will not deliver anything with near the
impact Jermaine Kearse’s game-ending had. The speech is more
important than that game, probably.
The White House just sent out some excerpts. Let me give you a
few, then ask you a question.
“We are fifteen years into this new century. Fifteen years that
dawned with terror touching our shores; that unfolded with a new
generation fighting two long and costly wars; that saw a vicious
recession spread across our nation and the world. It has been, and
still is, a hard time for many. But tonight, we turn the page.”
“Will we accept an economy where only a few of us do
spectacularly well? Or will we commit ourselves to an economy that
generates rising incomes and chances for everyone who makes the
“In Iraq and Syria, American leadership – including our military
power – is stopping ISIL’s advance. Instead of getting dragged into
another ground war in the Middle East, we are leading a broad
coalition, including Arab nations, to degrade and ultimately
destroy this terrorist group. We’re also supporting a moderate
opposition in Syria that can help us in this effort, and assisting
people everywhere who stand up to the bankrupt ideology of violent
extremism. This effort will take time. It will require focus. But
we will succeed. And tonight, I call on this Congress to show the
world that we are united in this mission by passing a resolution to
authorize the use of force against ISIL.”
“No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our
networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of
American families, especially our kids. We are making sure our
government integrates intelligence to combat cyber threats, just as
we have done to combat terrorism. And tonight, I urge this Congress
to finally pass the legislation we need to better meet the evolving
threat of cyber-attacks, combat identity theft, and protect our
children’s information. If we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and
our economy vulnerable. If we do, we can continue to protect the
technologies that have unleashed untold opportunities for people
around the globe.”
The question is a simple one: Do you take time out of your
schedule to watch the State of the Union? Why?
There is a cynical way to look at your representative in Congress
climbing the ladder of power. There is another way, too.
Norm Dicks, who had a reputation for bringing money home to his
district, held a seat on the House Appropriations Committee his
entire congressional career. If the 2012 election had been as good
for Democrats as the 1976 election was, Derek Kilmer might have
Dicks, who held the seat for 36 years, was elected in a year
that saw Democrat Jimmy Carter elected president. His party had 292
seats in Congress, more than twice the 143 held by Republicans.
Democrats had only picked up one seat that election, but there was
enough movement that it created room for a freshman congressman
from Belfair to claim a spot on a coveted committee.
Kilmer, by contrast, joined Congress when Democrats were in the
minority, holding 201 seats. Committee numbers are devised based on
party ratios. Western Democrats backed Kilmer for the committee to
party leaders when he was first elected, Dicks said. The argument
then was the same as it was this time around, that with Dicks’
departure from Congress the Pacific Northwest would not be
It wasn’t the worst environment for the party to take a risk on
a rookie. It had picked up a seat on the committee and five
Democrats had left, but the vacancies were filled by six veteran
After the 2014 election Democrats lost seats, but not in
Appropriations. Kilmer’s regional backing, along with his track
record in his relatively short congressional career, made a bigger
difference this time around. Despite Democratic losses in the
November election he got the nod when Rep. Adam Schiff of
California left the committee to become ranking member of the House
Select Committee on Intelligence.
Subcommittee assignments, which are expected to be made in the
next week, are a matter of what’s available. Dicks said the basic
process is that members with three assignments pick one to put into
a pool to add to the ones left behind by Schiff. Kilmer will get to
pick two from the pool. Dicks was on Defense and Interior. Schiff
was on neither of those, so if they are in the pool it won”t be
coming from him. It may take a few years for Kilmer to grab
Defense, Dicks said.
The former congressman said the Appropriations assignment is
huge for this district and for Kilmer. “It’s still the best
committee in terms of bipartisanship,” he said. Besides working
across the aisle, he will have the benefit of working across the
capitol building in the Senate, where Washington Sen. Patty Murray
sits on that chamber’s Appropriations Committee.
You don’t have to link all the benefits to the region as pork.
You can if you like, but someone has to sit on Appropriations and
oversee government spending. It doesn’t hurt us that it’s someone
local. Should Kilmer eventually make it onto Defense there are
obvious benefits to having someone who can argue for the shipyard
and the bases. There are obvious benefits to having someone on
Appropriations who has been through the district enough that dollar
figures are actually connected to pictures. How strident a member
of Congress is on hometown issues is another question, but having
someone with a distinct awareness of what’s happening here has to
be a benefit.
There is another, potentially unsavory, advantage of having a
local ascend to the powerful committee, one that some thought would
go away when earmarks were banned. But politicians want to bring
home the bacon for their constituents, so they will figure out ways
to extract more money for the district. One way they do it now is
by writing letters to agencies asking for specific funding. The
more powerful your member of Congress is, the more likely a letter
penned by your rep will have more weight. A letter from someone on
Appropriations ranks pretty high. And the longer Kilmer stays in
Congress, the higher the clout. The bad news for those interested
in transparency is it’s not as easy to track as earmarks once were,
at least not yet.
In this story from Roll Call comes the
news that Thomas Steyer, who spent $1.25 million in the 2014
election in Washington and $525,000 in 2013 in the 26th Legislative
District Senate race, is considering a run for the U.S. Senate.
On Tuesday he wrote on Huffington Post, “I will
decide soon based on what I think is the best way to continue the
hard work we’ve already started together to prevent climate
disaster and preserve American prosperity.”
For us the question is whether this means he would stop donating
money to out-of-state races while he’s running and should he win.
I reached out to Steyer’s NextGen Climate organization and
received no response.
Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the DC-based campaign
finance watchdog organization Center for Responsive Politics,
answered by email that she didn’t know of any precedent that
could predict how Steyer would respond.
“But there is nothing to prevent him from
continuing to make contributions down to state and local level
according to whatever limits those states allow,” Krumholz
The California race promises to be expensive, though, and even a
billionaire can eventually run out of money.
Steyer’s money played a big role in the drama, though not so
much the result, in the 2013 26th Legislative District election
battled between appointed incumbent state Sen. Nathan Schlicher, a
Democrat, and the eventual winner, Republican Jan Angel.
Elected officials do contribute to each other. Krumholz
provided a link to a list of candidates who
contributed lots to other candidates. They’re limited to $5,000 per
candidate. The link leads with, “Members of Congress in safe seats
are often asked to contribute some of their campaign funds to
candidates in need.” The top donor was Eric Cantor at nearly $1.9
million. His seat turned out to be not so safe.
Steyer, should he win, would replace U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a
Democrat who went from the House to the Senate following the 1992
election. The Roll Call story makes the case that it would be
tough for a current member of Congress to make the same leap Boxer
did, because California congressional districts have a smaller
proportional footprint than in any other state. California has 53
seats in the House.
For a representative whose name is known primarily in only 1/53
of the state, it’s tough to imagine getting play in the other
A couple of other things that are worth noting from the
Experts are predicting this race will cost more than $100
California uses a top-two primary system and leans far enough
left that it’s not unreasonable to think that the two final
candidates could both be Democrats.
Talking Points Memo has a story that focuses exclusively on
Steyer and his strengths (money) and his weaknesses (money) should
Call it symbolic revenge for a real defection. One party
pulled two of the opposite party over to form a coalition. That was
true two years ago when Republicans lured Potlatch Democratic state
Sen. Tim Sheldon, along with Rodney Tom, to form a de fact majority
in the chamber, a majority that was boosted by the election of real
Republican Jan Angel.
Even after the Republican Party announced in early December
Sheldon’s return to the role, which would have put him in charge of
the chamber in the case of Lt. Gov. Brad Owen’s absence, Democrats
helped maneuver to get Sheldon out of the seat. They nominated
Republican Pam Roach. Republicans tried to counter by nominating
Democrat Karen Fraser. But Democrats, Fraser included, voted as a
bloc and along with Vancouver Republican state Sen. Don
Benton, elected Roach to the position.
The Northwest Progressive Institute Advocate described it
as Democrats settling a score with Sheldon, making “the most of an
opportunity to hold Tim Sheldon accountable for his treachery.”
Sheldon told Schrader he thought Democrats were retaliating and
that they will want something in return. Roach said they did not
ask for anything.
It’s a mostly symbolic victory and will do little to change the
agenda in the chamber. The first evidence of that was the Senate’s
vote to require a two-thirds vote to approve any tax increases, a
rules change in the chamber that passed with a 26-23 vote, exactly
the number of the Republican+1 majority.
The Sheldon upset went down officially within 12 minutes, which
is on the video that follows. Of course, it really took flight in
conversations for which there is no video, so this will have to
enough Supreme Court aversion to go around, even to the
state version of the highest court in the land.
Sometime before Christmas, among the multitudes of greeting
cards I received was the one you see here on the left. You probably
have to click on each image to see them clearly.
My favorite part is at the end of the inside part of the
card. “This card is
a parody and not actually from Chief Justice Roberts.” It’s a
good thing that disclaimer is there, because Roberts could sue and
eventually appeal the case all the way to himself.
The message of this card is that the U.S. Supreme Court is
secretive and accountable to no one. State lawmakers have a
different complaint about the state nine, and they
say partisanship is the answer.
The bill is unlikely to get a hearing, according to other news
reports and one local legislator. It sends a message,
nonetheless.House Bill 1051, sponsored by state
Rep. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, and co-sponsored by 15 Republicans
and three Democrats, begins with this subtle epistle:
“The legislature finds that because the supreme
court has decided to act like the legislature and has
thus violated the separation of powers, the supreme court
should be considered partisan like the
Why the dig? Because the state Supreme Court has not only ruled
that the state is not meeting its paramount constitutional duty in
adequately funding education, the court has a bucket of solutions
it can choose from should the Legislature’s response to that
ruling be deemed inadequate.
Two local legislators, Democrat Sherry Appleton of Poulsbo and
Republican Jesse Young of Gig Harbor, are among the
Young did not respond to requests for comment. Appleton
responded to an email saying she believes the bill will not
even get a hearing. Asked why why she is backing it, she
replied that she isn’t. “It was just a message to make people aware
there are three branches of government, and we don’t make
constitutional rulings, and they should not tell us how to write
Asked what the court should be allowed to do in its role as
a check against the state government’s two other branches, Appleton
said the court’s job is to determine the constitutionality of
laws. “We have a job to do, and they are part of the solution,
but not doing the legislature’s business by telling us how to write
a budget. We know full well what we have to do, and we
will do it, in spite of the Supreme Court, not because of it.”
Among the solutions the court has discussed should the
Legislature fail to meet the court’s definition of “adequate”
education funding is one that would void the budget
completely, undoing all tax loopholes. It seems unlikely the court
would resort to that option first, but should it
employ anything there are legislators who believe it would be
out of its bounds.
Hugh Spitzer, a constitutional law professor at the
University of Washington, said any constitutional revenge by the
Legislature would require near unanimity of the lawmaking body,
which doesn’t seem likely. More within reach is
legislators stalling state law fixes requested by the courts.
Legislators have threatened the court financially in the past,
but that seems unlikely, too. Punishing the courts
financially “punishes the public if the public doesn’t have
access to the courts,” Spitzer said. Furthermore, in a pinch the
Supreme court could order funding from the state. It never has, but
Washington would not be the only state with partisan judges and
it wouldn’t be the first time the state had such a setup.
According to Judgepedia, seven states elect Supreme Court
justices in partisan elections. In two states the
justices are nominated in party primaries or conventions and other
states involve the parties in lower court assignments.
Spitzer said Washington judges were elected in partisan
elections until 1907. Partisanship came back came back a few years
later when Republicans were upset that a Democrat had been elected
in a non-partisan election. GOP legislators managed to put two more
seats on the bench, got two of their own elected and then made the
judge races non-partisan again.
Maybe this Legislature ought to consider doing that. If they did
it during presidential election years, when all our televisions are
affixed to Fox News and MSNBC, we might not notice. The
newspapers would cover it, but who reads those anymore?
If you paid attention to stories about the budget Congress just
passed, a budget that gave us the term “CRomnibus,” (It’s a mash up
of Continuing Resolution and omnibus. Part of the budget is one and
most of it is the latter. Because I think we all can agree if
Congress isn’t inventing new words it’s not doing its job.) you
learned that in addition to giving Wall Street a break, (“About
time!” I say.) it gave national political parties access to huge
swaths of money.
That second part is one U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor,
objected to the most. When the budget passed the house he sent a
news release with the statement:
“Part of the reason Congress is held in such low esteem is
that it does things like this. While I’m all for funding
government, adding a provision at the last minute to a must pass
bill that benefits the wealthiest donors and floods our elections
with even more money undermines our democracy.”
Kilmer didn’t stop there. He offered a bill that would undo that
portion of the CRomnibus. (The more you say it the less debased you
feel.) “Close the Floodgates Act” got no sponsors and the Senate
went home, but Kilmer said this week he will bring the bill back
during the next session, which begins in January.
On Wednesday I asked him if he thought any of the 219 members of
the House who voted for the CRomnibus (You see? You’re becoming
assimilated.) objected to the campaign finance provision. Uh, yeah.
“I have not spoken to anyone on either side of the aisle who
thought this provision made sense,” he said.
That provision would increase caps on annual donations by
individuals to the national political parties from $97,200 to
That so many people would think the provision makes no sense is
because no one is sitting around saying, “You what we need? More
money in politics.” Well, someone might be saying it. On the right
the Koch Brothers and on the left George Soros are the demons of
MSNBC and Fox for saying that with their money, for example.
The rationale, simply, is this: With so much money going to
third-party political organizations that don’t have to limit what
they can receive from donors, parties are having a tough time
collecting money they use to advertise, host conventions and wage
legal battles. Part of what the CRomnibus rider did was create not
only new limits, but new organizations donors can fund to handle
different aspects of a campaign. The parties want this, because
they don’t want to cede a campaign’s message to third-party groups
that they can’t coordinate with or control.
So who orchestrated this? Sounds like it was Nevada Senator and
now former Majority Leader Harry Reid, employing a Seattle lawyer
to make it happen.
So while most people favor reducing the money in politics by,
um, changing the law to reduce money in politics, Reid and Congress
just passed legislation to open up the tap for the parties, in
hopes of strengthening the parties’ influence in the bigger pool of
Kilmer favors the first approach. He co-sponsored the Disclose
Act, which would have required more financial disclosure in
campaign ads. He also co-sponsored a bill proposing a
constitutional amendment specifying that corporations are not
people and allowing Congress to set campaign limits. Another bill
he co-sponsored would allow candidates to accept public funds as
long as they forego big donations.
Before any of that though, Kilmer wants to kill any
encouragement to attract more money to political races. “First, do
no harm,” he said Wednesday. “The American people want us to take
actions to restore their faith in our democracy.”
Increasing the amount of money wealthy people can contribute to
political parties, Kilmer said, is not one of those actions.