In competing press releases sent out on Tuesday Tim Sheldon
takes teachers to task for missing work for a strike and for not
using a strike day to come to Olympia. Washington State
Democrats say that’s Sheldon operating under a “Do as I say, not as
I do,” program, citing his absences from county meetings.
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.
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
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.
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?
All three of the Kitsap Caucus’ state senators will have
leadership roles in the 2015 Legislature. Two of them are repeats,
while Jan Angel takes on a new responsibility.
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, was elected Senate Majority
Coalition Caucus vice chairwoman and named to the panel that
selects committee leaders.
Angel, first elected to the Senate in 2013, was re-elected in
November and will begin a four-term in January.
The caucus position puts Angel in place to be a liaison between
coalition leadership and committee chairs and to lead caucus
deliberations when the chairwoman, Sen. Linda Evans Parlette,
R-Wenatchee, is not available. Angel also will be part of the
effort to hire and fire coalition staff.
“I’m excited to get to work building on the bipartisan success we
achieved as a caucus last year,” Angel said in a written statement
issued by the coalition. “I have all the right tools to be a leader
in this role with my previous experience leading committees and
developing employees as a small-business owner and I am very
grateful for the confidence of my Senate colleagues.”
The senator was also appointed to the Committee on Committees,
which helps select which coalition senator goes on which
State Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-Potlatch, retains his role as Senate
president pro tem, even though Republicans have and outright
Sheldon, along with former state Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, began
caucusing with the 23 Republicans in 2013, giving the GOP a de
facto 25-24 majority known as the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus.
With the election of Angel later that year the coalition’s majority
rose to 26-23.
Tom retired from the Senate, but Republicans won the major
contested races and took actual control of the Senate 25-24.
Sheldon said all along he would continue to caucus with
Republicans, so the coalition remains intact. His reward is keeping
the leadership position.
“This recognition I have received from my colleagues is a
demonstration of the bipartisan ideals that have governed our
coalition since Day One,” Sheldon said in a statement. “We always
said our chief concerns were jobs, education and the budget, and
not partisan politics.”
State Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, resumes her role
as floor leader for the Washington State Senate Democratic Caucus.
This is her second year in that job.
The floor leader is the party’s point person on parliamentary
procedure and in facilitating floor debate on the Senate floor.
“I am honored to have been selected again by my colleagues to serve
as their floor leader,” Rolfes said. “We are facing some
significant challenges in 2015, but I look forward to working
across the aisle to ensure things run smoothly.”
State Sen. Jan Angel,
R-Port Orchard, is getting heat from her opponent regarding Angel’s
involvement with the American Legislative Exchange Council. This is
something we addressed in the
2013 election, but since this treads into matters of substance,
it’s worth revisiting.
ALEC is a nationwide organization that goes to great efforts to
get conservative policies enacted in state legislatures. Angel is a
conservative and has been affiliated with the organization for some
time. She has never really denied that, but when she wrote the
Facebook post you see pictured on the left here, she never let on
that Rick Perry, Texas governor and one-time candidate for
president who recalled two of the three agencies he planned to
eliminate, was speaking at an ALEC conference when she snapped his
picture and gushed, “what a champion!”
At its core the question that seems worth asking is whether
Angel or Arbogast better represent the values of the 26th District,
and Angel’s affiliation with ALEC could be evidence to support
whatever conclusion you make. Instead much of the debate centers on
whether legislators should be sponsoring what are called “model
bills.” A model bill is one written in one place and used either
verbatim or as a template in several states.
Some of ALEC’s model legislation would ban states from
prohibiting insurance companies from using credit scores to deny or
charge more for coverage, is tough on minimum wage standards, goes
after Obamacare and would limit how much a state could require
electric utilities to provide a certain percentage of its energy
from clean energy sources.
This issue arises from the following exchange that took place in
the Oct. 7 Bremerton Area Chamber of Commerce Eggs & Issues forum
between Angel and Democrat Judy Arbogast.
Question: Can ALEC really write laws that
best serve a state as diverse as Washington, and if yes,
Arbogast: Absolutely not. ALEC provides
ready-made legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
problem. It’s also backed by big corporations, not the people who
are trying to actually solve the problems. People who know me know
that I’ve been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I
certainly know that it’s not good for the people. That’s why any
bills that I propose will come from the people themselves, They
will not be premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of, (And at this point you can hear people
laughing at the statement) the only ALEC bill, seriously, the only
ALEC bill that’s come to the Legislature actually came through your
governor, Gov. Inslee, And I want to talk, I’m so glad this
question came up, because ALEC stands for the American Legislative
Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission statement is free
market and individual liberties. I am proud to stand for that. I
make no apology and I actually question anyone that would question
those values. As far as model legislation, we sit on task force,
which I am proud to sit on Economic Development, Commerce and
Insurance. That task force works on issues nationally. The last
task force meeting I attended we worked on national catastrophes
like the slide that we just had, how did that affect everybody ’s
insurance premiums. Now if a model bill is written it is up to the
legislature whether they take it back to their state. And if the
state House and Senate pass it and the governor signs it, maybe
it’s a good bill.
We’ll dissect those arguments later, but following the debate
and after my story was written, Samara Ressler, campaign manager
for Arbogast, sent me an email titled “Forum Clarification.” She
then provided a list of three bills Angel co-sponsored Ressler said
come from ALEC model bills. They are Senate Bills 6300 and 6307
during the 2014 session and House Bill 1804 in 2011.
SB 6300 would have required more unions to increase financial
reporting requirements and does seem to have much the same language
as ALEC’s model legislation, “Union Financial Responsibility Act.”
SB 6307 prohibits local jurisdictions from enacting minimum wage
requirements higher than the state’s. It is much the same as ALEC’s
“Living Wage Mandate Preemption Act.”
The House Bill 1804 in 2011 would have prevented the state from
spending any money to implement Obamacare. At the time the
justification was the health care reform measure was still making
its way through constitutional challenges. Supporters said they
didn’t want to burden the state with efforts for a program that
could become moot. I don’t see ALEC’s direct fingerprint on this
bill, but it’s old enough that it might have just disappeared from
the organization’s website. And ALEC wrote a lot of legislation aimed at weakening health care
reform, so it’s not out of the realm of possibility
this started with ALEC.
This gets to the core issue. Whether the bill was an ALEC model
or not, it would have limited the impact of federal health care
reform efforts. What is the more important factor to you?
When we addressed this similar question in 2013, we pointed out
that lots of organizations write model bills. ALEC might do it the
most, but several organizations do it. Legislators don’t write many
of the bills they propose. They are written by lobbyists, lawyers
and others who have an interest. And I’m willing to bet that when
legislators do write their own bills, they get lots of help.
This is not to say that finding out whether a bill is a model
bill is unimportant. An organization like ALEC has a specific
mission and won’t typically write legislation that doesn’t forward
So let’s break down the forum comments.
Arbogast: ALEC provides ready-made
legislation for every state and that’s the biggest
“Model” legislation is a “problem” in the sense that it could be
trying to solve a problem no one was aware anyone had. Beyond that,
though, you have to give the Legislature enough credit that it will
tackle issues it deems important. If a model bill, tweaked to
reflect what’s needed in legislative language in Washington,
addresses an issue enough legislators think is worthy of attention,
the bill can make it to the governor’s desk.
Arbogast: People who know me know that I’ve
been very opposed to ALEC since I first heard about it. I certainly
know that it’s not good for the people.
This is the values statement that would seem to be the more
Arbogast: That’s why any bills that I
propose will come from the people themselves, They will not be
premade as some of the bills have been presented by my
opponent. Angel: Your opponent has never offered an ALEC
bill that I’m aware of.
If Arbogast wins I suspect some on the right will watch the
bills she sponsors to see if there’s anything else out there that’s
similar to trace a bill at its roots. It might be a model bill from
an organization on the left.
Angel’s claim that she never offered an ALEC bill rests on whether
you think “offered” means she was the prime sponsor. We showed that
she co-sponsored bills using ALEC bills as models, but she has not
Angel: The only ALEC bill that’s come to
the Legislature actually came through your governor, Gov.
We did address that claim last year and there is some dispute.
The governor’s office said its bill dealing with one aspect of
climate change did not come from an ALEC model, but a spokesman for
the Washington Policy Center said that it did. Angel is off in
saying the “only ALEC bill” unless what she meant by “come through
to the Legislature” was “passed the Legislature.” Otherwise, her
co-sponsorship of two ALEC-based bills seems to negate her
Angel: ALEC stands for the American
Legislative Exchange Council. I belong to that. The mission
statement is free market and individual liberties. I am proud to
stand for that. I make no apology and I actually question anyone
that would question those values.
When Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Bershire Hathaway Energy,
Intel, Bank of America, etc. decided to stop participating with
ALEC I doubt any of them were troubled with the concept of free
markets or individual liberties. Google’s Eric Schmidt was
especially harsh answering a question from a
caller to the Diane Rehm show:
Kristen: I’m curious to know if Google is
still supporting ALEC, which is that fund lobbyist in D.C. that are
funding climate change deniers. Schmidt: We funded them as part of a political
game for something unrelated. I think the consensus within the
company was that that was sort of a mistake. And so we’re trying to
not do that in the future. Rehm: And how did you get involved with them
in the first place? And were you then disappointed in what you
saw? Schmidt: Well, the company has a very strong
view that we should make decisions in politics based on facts. What
a shock. And the facts of climate change are not in question
anymore. Everyone understands climate change is occurring. And the
people who oppose it are really hurting our children and our
grandchildren and making the world a much worse place. And so we
should not be aligned with such people. They’re just literally
I’m guessing Angel would differ with Schmidt on that.
State Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, and his Republican
challenger, Michelle Caldier of Port Orchard, engaged in two robust
debates last week on the issues. One of the debates was in
Bremerton on Tuesday. The other was in Gig Harbor on Thursday. They
have at least three more forums scheduled before the election.
Before that they sat in the same room for an Aug. 29 meeting
with the Kitsap Sun editorial board. In all those meetings they
focused on issues one of them will try to tackle as a legislator in
Olympia in 2015.
An incident after the editorial board meeting launched a side
show that has picked up steam. Caldier said Seaquist is trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said Caldier’s allegations are false and
that he is consulting with an attorney. Both say they want the
escalation to stop.
For the Kitsap Sun meeting both candidates had driven their
cars, with Caldier parking directly in front of Seaquist. After the
meeting they separated to their cars and Seaquist took at least a
couple of photos. Caldier said he did it as she was getting into
her car. He said that is not true, that she was in the car when he
snapped the shots.
Seaquist said he was checking messages on his phone when he saw
the the trunk open on Caldier’s car and the hard top slide into the
trunk. He said he hadn’t seen a hard-top convertible in some time
and wanted to snap a quick photo to discuss the car with someone he
knows. The model of the car was prominent on the car’s tail section
and he said he knew he would never remember it. So he took a
Caldier confronted him about the photo and both agree he
acknowledged snapping a picture. Her recollection of the
conversation afterward was a little fuzzy this week, but he said
she complained that she had been photographed at her house. He said
he told her it wasn’t anyone doing it on his behalf.
On Sept. 2, four days later, Caldier posted a Facebook entry
reading: “I came out of a candidate interview and saw Rep. Larry
Seaquest, my opponent, taking pictures of me as I got into my car.
Wow…. I felt like I was being stalked!” Some of her Facebook
friends described that as “creepy” or “gross,” and some suggested
it was an act of desperation.
On Sept. 5, three days after the Facebook post and a week after
Seaquist took the photo, she filed a report with the Bremerton
Police Department. The report includes a couple of statements
Caldier said do not reflect what she told police. The report said
Caldier told police Seaquist had taken other photos of Caldier in
the past and that he just laughed at her when she asked him why he
was snapping more pictures. On Friday she said she told police
other people had snapped pictures, that Aug. 29 was the first time
Seaquist himself had done it. Also, she said Seaquist did talk to
her about the photos when she confronted him.
Both candidates question the other’s motives in the incident.
Caldier said she doesn’t believe his story that he was impressed
with the car because she believes he has seen it before. She said
it’s another chapter in a long history of the opposition trying to
intimidate her. Seaquist said he hadn’t seen her car before and
that he did nothing wrong, that his sole interest was the car and
that Caldier is falsifying what happened to turn it into a campaign
Candidates can expect to have their photos taken in odd places,
to be followed. One of the comments on Caldier’s Facebook post came
from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, who wrote: “They pulled
that on me all last run. I was followed frequently and many other
weird things. What a journey.”
Keith Schipper, Angel’s communications director in the 2013
campaign, said he was tasked by the state Republican party to track
Angel’s opponent, Nathan Schlicher, for part of that campaign. A
tracker’s job is primarily to go to all the opponent’s events
possible and to film, seeing if a candidate can be caught saying
one thing to one group and something else to another. Or, if the
tracking yields real gold, the candidate has a “Macaca” moment, a
reference to the 2006 Virginia Senate race when Republican
incumbent Sen. George Allen referred to a Democratic operative as
“Macaca,” which he said was gibberish, but Democrats said was an
intentional racial slur. Allen lost the election.
Schipper, who also tracked Jay Inslee in 2012 when he ran for
governor and is working on Republican legislative campaigns again
this year, said officials from the candidate and the party are
mostly polite to the opposition tracker. It’s the people hosting
the events who can get hostile. So parties’ and candidates’
campaigns in larger races typically know better than to hassle the
The 2013 26th District Senate race was unique, though, in how
high profile it was for a legislative race. That each side employed
trackers was because it was so high stakes. It was the most
expensive legislative race in state history. It was the only
Republican-Democrat race in the state and affected the balance of
power in Olympia. Both candidates said they were followed.
That race was a legislative exception. The Seaquist-Caldier
race, while close, is unlikely to draw so much attention that the
state party would employ operatives. And even if the state party
did, taking pictures at a candidate’s house is unlikely.
Nonetheless, Caldier said that when she was living in a home she
rented before she bought her current home she saw people taking
pictures of her at her house. She said some were also taking
pictures of her sister. And one day a neighbor caught people going
through her mail. Since Caldier recently returned to Kitsap County
after years living in Kenmore, it’s possible someone supporting
Seaquist was trying to investigate whether she deserved a residency
You might remember the private investigation that went into
former County Commissioner Josh Brown’s residency during his first
run. When Lary Coppola ran for mayor he found matches stuck in his
door, presumably a tactic to see whether he lived where he claimed
If the Caldier mail incident was campaign related, Schipper and
Fred Finn, who represented the 35th Legislative District as a
Democrat for four years, said it was unlikely it was ordered by the
party or Seaquist’s campaign. Schipper likened it to supporters who
go out and vandalize campaign signs, adding it would more likely be
a supporter going rogue. Finn agreed. “Sometimes supporters have
more energy and enthusiasm than common sense,” Finn said. “I can’t
imagine it’s anything organized.”
Whatever motive Seaquist had in taking the picture, it is
unusual for a candidate to be taking a photo of another candidate.
“You don’t ever see candidates doing that to each other,” Schipper
said. “You don’t see their staff members doing it.”
Caldier again looked at the incident in context of the whole
campaign. “I’ll take a lot, but this one was kind of the last
straw. This is moving forward to November and it feels like the
behavior is escalating,” she said. “I want the behavior to stop. I
would never take pictures of him without asking his permission. For
him to be sitting in his car taking photos of me without asking my
permission is wrong.”
Seaquist makes no apologies and said he has no interest in
meeting with Caldier to resolve the issue. “Everything here has
been created and invented by Dr. Caldier. Nothing here was started
by me,” he said. “This is not a misunderstanding on my part. This
is entirely a creation of hers. I have done nothing
Particularly galling to Seaquist was another single assertion in
the police report. Caldier, when told Seaquist had not committed
any crime, said his action concerned her because “she has been told
that Seaquist had been violent in the past with people.”
On Friday Caldier said that comment referred to what she heard
from Marlyn Jensen, a Gig Harbor Republican who ran against
Seaquist in 2008. Jensen, also contacted Friday, said her
relationship with Seaquist was fine during the 2008 campaign, but
repeated a charge she made in newspapers in 2009, that when she
went to Olympia to lobby on a couple of issues he yelled at her in
his office. She was lobbying on a property rights issue and neither
he nor his legislative assistant were there when she went by, so
she and others left bags of dirt from their properties with a
handwritten note urging Seaquist to vote for property owners.
A few days later Jensen returned to Olympia to lobby on another
issue and said she went back to his office and was told by his
receptionist to go in. She said Seaquist berated her for leaving
the dirt. On Friday she repeated what she said five years ago, that
she feared for her safety.
In 2009 Seaquist denied he did anything to make her fear for her
safety. He said he can be firm, but invited anyone to call any
legislator or member of a Navy crew he was ever affiliated with and
that they will confirm that he is “famous for being calm and cool
Caldier said she filed the police report to end the escalation
of intimidation. Seaquist doesn’t believe that, because the final
statement in the report is, “Caldier does not want Seaquist
contacted.” He said he thinks that’s evidence she plans to use the
police report to escalate her own personal campaign against
Seaquist said he is “prepared to launch a lawsuit. The very
essence of my character is being challenged.”
At their core you have two candidates who have fundamentally
different ideas about how state government should operate. That
might be the focus of the remaining campaign.
In 2013, during the most expensive legislative race in history
the campaign became particularly nasty. Angel accused Schlicher of
taking the low road with his ad that said she would cut mammograms.
Schlicher took exception to campaigns targeting him for voting for
budgets he said she voted for, too.
Schlicher’s backers put out ads saying Angel supported tax
breaks first for A. deceased millionaires and B. big oil companies
over education for kids. Angel’s supporters advertised that
Schlicher was against early reading intervention for children
because a contributor didn’t like it and that he opposed a 2/3
majority for tax increases.
All of those arguments mischaracterized the opponents’
positions, but anyone willing to make a concerted study at least
could look at those claims and make a calculation as to where the
candidate stood on issues that would face the Legislature. A
resident of the 26th might not have appreciated the inundation of
advertising that blanketed the district, but do you think that same
resident might not prefer that to what we’re seeing in the 26th
Legislative District Position 2 race this year?
Someone who didn’t want to be named said to me within the past
few days that Tim Sheldon and Travis Couture should be considered
the front-runners in the 35th Legislative District Senate primary
race. Someone else said that Tim Sheldon might come in third, that
Irene Bowling is the odds on favorite to come in first. Others
wonder if there is any way Sheldon could come in third. There
We’ve addressed this question before, but it merits
repetition, especially in light of the fact that some are speculating that U.S. Sen. Bernie
Sanders, an independent from Vermont who describes himself as a
Democratic Socialist, or democratic socialist, is pondering whether
to run for president in 2016. Should he run it could spell November
doom for Hillary Rodham Clinton, Elizabeth Warren or whoever gets
the Democratic nomination. I don’t seem him winning as an
independent, but I know enough people who appreciate him for his
candor. And sometimes candor like that resonates enough with voters
that they shed their traditional patterns and make an exception in
You know what else makes me think Sanders plans to run? I just
received an emailed newsletter from him, the first time that has
Chances are Sanders would be a spoiler for someone else. To see
how that works, consider the presidential election of 2000. I’m the
first to say that the primary responsibility for Al Gore’s loss
that year was Al Gore himself. He disappointed voters in nearly
every opportunity he could. But Ralph Nader’s Green Party
candidacy was a factor among many. Gore lost by less than 600 votes
in Florida, where Nader received more than 97,000. New Hampshire
also went for Nader in big enough numbers that it’s conceivable
Gore could have won that state’s four electoral college votes had
Nader not run. Tough to say. But this provides the definition of a
spoiler, someone who doesn’t have much chance to win, but can spoil
it for someone else.
Technically, there can be no spoilers in the 35th District
primary. It would take four candidates for that. If the
fourth-place candidate takes enough votes to cause another
candidate to come in third instead of second, that’s a true
spoiler. With only three candidates in this primary, the loser
in this case just loses without damaging anyone else.
Here are some reasons to consider, though, that someone could in
effect fit the spiritual definition of spoiler.
Democrat Tim Sheldon has a long history in Olympia and has added
to it as a Mason County commissioner. In 2006 Sheldon received 72.3
percent of the vote in the general election. In 2010 his numbers
were down, getting about 62 percent in the primary and general
election while running against someone who barely campaigned. That
was a down year for Democrats, even for those who often side with
Republicans. That’s a tough hurdle to beat, making Bowling and
Couture underdogs by default.
Democrats came relatively close to unseating Sheldon
in 2006, but it was in the primary. That’s one key.
That year, 2006, was when Washington voters had to pick a party
to vote in during the primary election. That meant Republicans who
wanted Sheldon to return to Olympia had to select a Democratic
ballot and pick him. The Republican, Mark Shattuck, came in third,
but advanced, because thems was the rules. With that, Sheldon
received 43.1 percent of the vote to Kyle Taylor Lucas’ 32.5
percent. This year there is no such burden. Sheldon only has to
come in second to advance. It’s possible that perception of an
easier path could make some of Sheldon’s traditional supporters
more relaxed about voting.
Meanwhile, it’s the more passionate voters who take part in
primaries. Bowling will certainly get all the support Lucas did,
and probably more. Traditional Democrats who pay attention
will vote for her. Lucas carried some baggage for being perceived
as a carpetbagger, and some people were incensed that Sheldon had
to run against anyone. Now that Sheldon has caucused with
Republicans for two years, some of those who were outraged in 2006
are not so surprised.
Speaking of passion, Couture describes himself on his website as
a “conservative libertarian.” Have you ever seen Ron Paul
supporters at a convention? There’s your passion. So while Sheldon
has some cred with conservatives, it is not out of this world to
think that Couture’s following will represent well in August.
Shattuck received 24 percent of the vote in the 2006 primary back
when A. It was a pick-a-party primary, and B. Ron Paul had not yet
risen to national relevance and C. Sheldon didn’t have the
negatives he has now.
Those negatives include his decision to caucus with
Republicans and a couple of local issues. I didn’t hear much local
fallout from anyone about Sheldon’s decision to caucus in the
Senate with Republicans, other than the complaints from those who
would never vote for him anyway. There might be a fair contingent
out there, though, who were rubbed the wrong way by Sheldon’s
decision, people who didn’t yell and scream about it but are moved
to believe that the maverick might have gone too far off the ranch
for their tastes. They could either vote for someone else, or not
vote at all.
The local issues are ones that arise more out of
Sheldon’s service as a county commissioner. New Belfair sewer
customers don’t like the price they’re paying for service they’re
getting in large part because of Sheldon’s insistence. And just
last week Sheldon and a fellow commissioner enacted a six-month
moratorium on marijuana grow operations. I’m not sure how much
angst that is going to inspire, but there is potential.
In 2012 voters in the 35th District picked Democrat Barack Obama
for president and Republican Rob McKenna for governor. They split
on state House representatives, backed Democrat Derek Kilmer, voted
against gay marriage and for legal marijuana. On statewide issues
voters in the 35th come in consistently a few points more
conservative than the state as a whole. They’re not afraid to elect
traditional Democrats, though, and have sent Kathy Haigh to Olympia
in the House year after year. It’s a tough district to
Sheldon likes to appeal to people who don’t make political
parties their number one priority. That plays better in a
general election, when turnout is high, than it does in a primary,
which appeals to more committed voters. Should Bowling and Couture
finish 1-2 or 2-1, then one of them, the second place finisher in
November, could be seen as the spoiler. The other one will go to
Olympia. Should Sheldon come in first or second in the
primary, the spoiler factor goes away and we focus on
favorites and underdogs.
This election, like any other, could see its fill of well-timed
surprises. We tried to avoid one recently and might have prevented
it all together. In the end it might never have happened,
because there doesn’t seem to be much reason to launch a residency
challenge of Republican Michelle Caldier.
Caldier is running to unseat state Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig
Harbor, in the 26th District.
Looking into candidates is something we should do as a matter of
course, but we don’t find everything. We check court records,
including the bankruptcy courts. We don’t hire private
investigators. A candidate’s opposition sometimes does. They’re
free to spend the money.
Part of my motivation goes back to 2004. Sherry Appleton, who
has represented the 23rd District since then, was running against
two Republicans, back when Washington primaries meant picking one
candidate from each party. Frank Mahaffay beat Paulette DeGard
for the Republican spot on the ballot. It was in October that I
learned of Mahaffay’s court-verified financial issues. Because
it was so late in the election season Scott Ware, then the editor,
and I debated whether to include the problem in the election
profile. In the end we decided we couldn’t leave it out. Appleton
won by a large margin, so I don’t think that one piece of
information ruined it for the Mahaffay, but I wished I had found it
before the primary.
I learned of Mahaffay’s financial issue through a tip.
Since then I have found some things ahead of the partisan tipsters,
one candidate’s two bankruptcies, for example. Still, political
parties are working hard to find any indiscretion they can. No
doubt we will get emails from people doing opposition research. It
was an email from an oppo researcher that informed me of auditor
candidate Kelly Emerson’s recent employment as
commissioner in Island County. I don’t mind investigating the stuff
sent to me by the studious partisan operatives, but the more we
rely on them the bigger the chance that they will sit on an issue
waiting for the most opportunistic timing to lob a bomb.
With Michelle Caldier I did wait a while to see if someone would
publicly ask the question how a Kenmore dentist came to seek
election in a district that is miles from either of the 26th
District’s book-end bridges. I gave the operatives some time to
speak up. After all, the primary between Seaquist and Caldier will
be little more than a straw poll. There are other races with more
on the line in August. Eventually, though, I gave in to my
Using basic Internet skills I found two addresses for Caldier,
one in Kenmore and another in Port Orchard. Searching county
records the Kenmore property was still listed in her name. The Port
Orchard property was not. Moreover the Kenmore property had four
bedrooms while the Port Orchard place had one. I then contacted the
Kitsap County Elections office to find out when she had registered
to vote here. It was in November. I then found evidence that
she had sold her home in Kenmore in May. Pictures of the home on a
real estate listing looked to me that the house had been staged to
present well for potential buyers, that it was unlikely someone had
been living there too recently.
That was the information I had when I called Caldier and
asked when she moved here. She responded that she would like to
meet with me in person. I was a bit frustrated that she wouldn’t
just deliver an immediate answer, but after asking again and
getting the same response, I agreed. She came in the next morning
with Chris Tibbs, Kitsap County Republican Party chairman. He took
the blame for her reluctance to speak on the phone, saying he had
coached the candidates, the first-time candidates anyway, to
request a sit-down meeting.
The meeting itself was valuable and in the end I see no evidence
of a residency issue. I’ll provide more details about her
story later. She’s providing them, too. In short, she was
motivated in large part to consider running by work she did on
legislation in 2013. She grew up in Kitsap County, said she always
considered it home, but established her dental practice to have
enough business to serve the market she sought. For family reasons
she and her sisters have moved back here. Her dental practice is a
mobile one, stretching from Pierce to Skagit County. What’s
more, in May she took ownership of a house in Port Orchard
after renting a home or staying with family here since sometime
The question over Caldier’s residency was an easy one to form.
It came up for me from the moment she announced her candidacy.
Seaquist, for his part, said he hadn’t been too concerned
over it. But that doesn’t mean someone wouldn’t make an issue
of the residency based just on the question,
planting doubts late in the game.
If you have a question about any candidate, feel free to email
me at email@example.com and we might look into the issue that
makes you wonder. And do it as soon as you think about it. With
Washington’s three-week election window from when ballots go out
and when they get returned it’s even more important to avoid
October surprises. Let’s keep peace at hand, if you know what I
This is the audio from Tim Eyman’s speech to the Central Kitsap
Republican Women, who met for their luncheon at the Admiral Theatre
in Bremerton on May 8, 2014.
One final note: This is something we might consider doing more
of in the future. That might mean posting audio from events like
this, but I also could see us recording interviews and doing other
kinds of storytelling on a regular podcast.
I’m a fan of the podcast medium itself, but I don’t know how
much demand there is for a hyperlocal podcast. Let me know and if
there is enough interest I will do my best to make this a regular
thing. Comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ed Friedrich’s story on the bill that prolonged
a real estate transaction fee to pay for housing for the homeless
gives a good synopsis of what went down. We’ve paid a lot of
attention to this bill in some part because of state Sen. Jan
Angel’s role in stopping it from going to the floor from her
Hours before the session ended Angel was able to introduce the
final version of the bill that keeps the funding going, but also
addresses some problems Angel and others had with the overall
One of Angel’s objections when the bill was in committee was
that this fee is only charged in real estate transactions. While
individuals who buy homes, change titles, etc. are the ones paying
the fee, Angel suggested it unfair that the real estate industry
was the only being asked to shoulder the burden. She has also made
the case that the real estate market is cyclical, so funding for
the program is subject to the market’s whims.
The final bill passed by the Legislature does not change any of
that, but it puts in place the possibility that the state could
find a different funding source to either supplement or replace the
current fee. Following a performance audit of the program the state
will convene a task force that will report on other funding
possibilities by the end of 2017. Legislators would then have two
years to come up with something different before facing another
deadline worse than the one they just faced. Missing this deadline
would have seen the fee drop and then go away. Missing the 2019
deadline set by the new legislation means the fee just goes
Department of Commerce statistics conclude the program has
dropped homelessness in the state by 29 percent overall. For
families the number is 74 percent. For individuals it’s 5
In Kitsap County the drop in homelessness appears to be well
above the 50 percent target, but that assumes I’m reading the state
Department of Commerce report correctly. I’ll check on Monday. In
Mason County it looks like homelessness has actually gone up.
The bill also stipulates that at least 45 percent of the funding
wind up in the hands of for-profit landlords. Again, assuming I’m
reading the Commerce report correctly, I don’t see where that has
been a problem anywhere. In Kitsap County $648,478 went to
for-profit landlords in 2012. Another $177,529 went to what the
state defines as “public” landlords. Nothing went to non-profits.
In Mason County $112,379 went to for-profits, and that was all of
In the end eight senators and 22 representatives voted against
the program, all of them Republicans. All nine of Kitsap’s
legislators voted for it.
Below you can watch the conversation on the Senate floor, a
discussion led off by Angel.
The bill to continue charging
the $40 fee on real estate transactions to fund programs for the
homeless has a good shot of being passed. State Sen. Christine
Rolfes, D-Bainbridge Island, said a Republican version would have
extended the program for one year and required that 45 percent of
the money go to private, for-profit landlords. Democrats are dead
set against setting a fixed number on the private landlord question
and want five years on the extension.
So the two sides are still talking.
If the session does get extended, Rolfes said, it will only be
to be in compliance with 24-hour requirements on bills.
Nonetheless, if there is a short special session, that’s when
the recording fee bill would likely be voted on, so that it can be
part of the budget negotiations, Rolfes said.
Another source, Joaquin Uy from the Washington Low Income
Housing Alliance emailed confirming the private landlord issue and
the sunsets as key issues. He also said the two sides are debating
reporting and auditing requirements.
Rolfes said Republicans have committed to passing a bill this
State Sen. Jan Angel, the Republican elected to finish the final
year of a four-year term, pulled a parliamentary move she is
allowed to in her role as committee co-chair, prompting at least
one howl from within her own party and a failed Democratic
countermove in the main chamber.
At issue is a bill, House Bill 2368, that helps
counties and the state fund programs for the homeless. Counties
charge a $40 fee on real estate transactions and apply it toward
state and county efforts to assist with rental housing payments,
grants for transitional housing, emergency assistance, overnight
shelters for young people, emergency shelters, and to help human
trafficking victims and their families. Under the legislation
originally passed in 2005 the fee was set to go down to $30 next
year, and then to $10. This year’s bill would essentially make the
$40 fee permanent.
Supporters of the bill argued that attaching the fee to
documents related to real estate was appropriate, because reducing
homelessness helps protect property values, keeps people out of
jail and out of emergency rooms. Opponents contend that real estate
fees are not an appropriate way to fund efforts to reduce
homelessness and that the law was supposed to be temporary when it
was written in 2005.
The bill was among those expected to be heard in a Senate
Financial Institutions, Housing and Insurance Committee hearing,
but Angel gaveled the meeting before the bill could be discussed.
Once the gavel is hit, TVW stops recording video, but there
was audio, (Start at 1:03:45)
and the first voice complaining about the meeting’s quick
conclusion is Republican Sen. Don Benton of Vancouver, who is
hardly liberal lion. Benton, in fact, working with a Democrat from
the House, had helped create the compromise bill the committee was
supposed to consider. Benton asks about 2368 and Angel says, “The
meeting is now adjourned.” Benton expresses disappointment. State
Sen. Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens, who co-chairs the committee said
the bill was a bipartisan/bicameral piece of legislation everyone
had agreed to, to which Angel said all parties are not in
agreement. “We’ll continue to work on this during interim,” she
said, to create a bill that works.
Hobbs told the (Tacoma) News Tribune that
Angel was operating with orders from Senate Majority Coalition
Caucus Leader Rodney Tom. Angel denied it, saying even if he had
issued orders, “I work for the people of my district.”
On Friday Senate Democrats issued a statement that included
comment from another Kitsap senator. “In my district, and in
districts across the state, this is the most important source of
funding we have to help the homeless,” said Sen. Christine Rolfes,
D-Bainbridge Island. “People are playing politics with an issue
that should be supported by everyone. There shouldn’t even be a
The bill was an amended version that had passed out of the House
with a 62-36 vote. All six Kitsap legislators in the House voted
for the bill.
Democrats tried to pull a procedural move to get the bill heard
on the main floor, but the majority caucus, including Benton, held
firm in denying them. The News Tribune said the bill could be part
of last-minute dealmaking before the session ends March 13.
If you’re watching the state political landscape and in
particular the 35th Legislative District, you might have long ago
stopped looking at the Senate race to focus on the campaigns being
waged by two Republicans for the opportunity to unseat a Democratic
You might be assuming that Tim Sheldon will again open an
unlocked door to another term as a state Senator. The primary,
though, could be interesting. And Sheldon has made some critics out
of people who once were his backers, primarily people in Belfair,
because of his work as a county commissioner.
Sheldon, as most of you know, is a Democrat, albeit (How should
we put this?) an atypical one. For years his votes on most
controversial issues have been aligned with the Republicans. The
Democrats enjoyed their majority status in the chamber with his
insistence on remaining a Democrat and have been safe from his
maverick ways as long as the margin never got close. Once Democrats
outnumbered Republicans by just three in the Senate, though, the
GOP leadership was able to poach away control by nabbing Sheldon
and Rodney Tom, the Democrat who once was Republican and is now the
figurehead for the Senate Majority Coalition.
In Mason County, which is the bulk of the 35th, Sheldon has held
strong. In 2010 he received 57 percent of the vote against Nancy
(grandma) Williams, though that big margin might be deceiving,
because she didn’t wage much of a campaign.
The election of 2006 might be a more telling picture. That year,
one in which voters had to pick a party, Sheldon only received 43.1
percent in the primary against two challengers. One was a Democrat
from the Howard Dean wing. The other was a Republican. In fact, the
Democrat, Kyle Taylor Lucas, accused by many of moving into the
district just to run against Sheldon, came in second place, netting
32.5 percent of the primary vote. Had she run in 2010 or this year
and seen the same result, she would have been on the General
Election ballot because of the state’s Top Two primary system.
So far Sheldon faces two opponents in the primary this year.
Travis Couture, the Republican, describes himself on his
website as “a conservative libertarian.” His arguments
espousing that philosophy is clear on the website, and he delivers
a message that might well resonate with the 35th District’s more
conservative voters. So might his Facebook criticism of Sheldon,
“Next time you see an illegal immigrant going to college on your
taxpayer dime, just thank Tim Sheldon for voting to pass that this
year in the Senate.”
The Democrats have Irene Bowling so far. She has run a music
instruction business in Kitsap County and has been well known
locally. During the selection process for the county commissioner
position left open by Josh Brown, Bowling proved herself a
competent candidate. She answered questions well and swayed enough
precinct committee officers to make her the second choice as
Brown’s successor. I have little doubt that the vast majority of
people who voted for Taylor Lucas in 2006 will side with Bowling
this time around in the primary. If she gets more than the 32.5
percent Taylor Lucas got, she could even emerge as the 35th
District’s first choice out of the primary.
If that were to pan out, then the question becomes whether
Couture can cut enough into Sheldon’s lead to do the unthinkable,
putting Sheldon into third place.
One of Couture’s challenges could be raising money for the race,
at least from the state party. Party organizations get to donate in
big amounts. Sheldon isn’t going to get money from either party,
but he already has almost $80,000. Sheldon has in the past, though,
prevented Republican candidates from getting GOP party money to run
against him, or so I’m told. It’s as if every dollar he gets has a
huge multiplier effect. It’s early in the game, but that could be
tough for Couture. If he as a first-time candidate proves
especially adept at raising money and getting signs on voters’
lawns, he could make it interesting. Where Couture might make his
biggest splash is on social media, which doesn’t cost a lot and can
have a big connector factor.
If there is enough anti-Sheldon sentiment out there then this
race could be highly entertaining. In the 2012 Mason County
Commissioner primary race Sheldon received 29.4 percent of the vote
as an incumbent, a half point ahead of the second-place candidate,
Democrat Roslynne Reed. Sheldon won by 8 percentage points in the
general election, but those 2012 numbers demonstrate he is not
invincible. He does not enjoy the kind of support Norm Dicks had in
the Sixth Congressional District.
If you were betting money on the 35th District race, I still
wouldn’t dissuade you from betting on Sheldon. But you might look
at 2012 and have reason to question your certainty. If he makes it
to the general election I don’t see him losing that one. The best
chance to unseat him is likely the primary. Bowling, assuming she
is the only Democrat who runs, will get the votes from those
leaning left. The question will be how the conservative votes will
split, whether Couture can effectively make the case that he is
more their representative than the incumbent.