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Posts published in March 2015

Welcome, Madam Speaker

rainey BARRETT


Our congratulations to Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) on selection as Speaker du jour of the U.S. House of Representatives. And our thanks to the 52 Republicans who made it possible while cutting the legs off titular Speaker John Boehner. While he may retain the title, the power referred to in that nomenclature clearly belongs to the lady from California.

To me, it’s not a Republican or Democrat thing. It’s a who-can-govern issue. He can’t. She can. The Friday night edge-of-the-cliff-follies dealing with continued funding for the Department of Homeland Security could more aptly be titled “Night of the Long Knives” for Boehner and his political party of the perpetual Chinese fire drill. It was not Boehner’s first public humiliation. It won’t be his last. Bet the farm.

Apparently without giving marching - read voting - orders to her Democrat soldiers, the Minority leader sat on the sidelines, watched the Republican bloodletting as the first DHS bill was killed by GOP subversives, then called a quick news conference.

She announced she was “asking” Democrats in the House to get behind the second DHS bill because “national security is at stake and the issue is too important for partisan politics.” And that’s how it appeared in living rooms from coast to coast. A request based on national interest and common sense. Jolly good!

What it really was was gut politics at its best. And the guy getting the gut shot was Boehner. Without Pelosi and her Democrat soldiers, Boehner couldn’t do what he’d had at least three weeks to get done. DHS would close up shop in a couple of hours. He and his “leadership” team publically proved they (1) couldn’t accurately count the noses of their own troops, (2) couldn’t “whip” enough loyal troops to pass what had to pass, and (3) couldn’t avoid a DHS shutdown without votes from the Democrat caucus.

Pelosi quietly - and behind-the-scenes - did what Boehner and his minions couldn’t do in public. Or in private either, for that matter. Again, it’s not a matter of liking Pelosi or disliking Boehner. It’s two contestants in the ring. One who knows what to do there - the other without a clue - who stopped training too early for the big fight. She whipped him. Fair and square.

While the DHS funding bill was important, there’s an even larger matter to consider. Pelosi’s agenda - and that of the Democrat party - is immigration reform, tax reform, public works spending, voting rights protections and a half dozen more subjects of national importance. If you make a vertical list of those, then a second list of what the Republican crazies oppose, you’ll pretty much be able to draw a straight line from items in column “A” to items in column “B.”

The clown bus folk can scream, holler and pound their little fists on the well-carpeted House floor. But, if Boehner wants to survive with all the perks of being Speaker, he’s going to have to come to terms with the lady from California to save his own butt .... er .... bacon. (more…)

In the Briefings


King County Executive Dow Constantine (foreground, left) tours a new energy use tracking system being installed by the county. (See the local government section.) (image/King County)

After the gubernatorial excitement of the last few weeks, things seemed to settle down a bit in Oregon last week. Just as the legislative activity started to pick up.

So it seemed in the other two states as well.

Idaho officials managed a short-term stopgap last week in the public school broadband collapse; money was appropriated, and for the most part at least the system will not go dark – for now. How long the stopgap may sufficie, though, remains unclear.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Legislators consider legalizing marijuana oil (Boise Statesman)
Community funds awarded to neighborhoods (Boise Statesman)
Juvenile mental health care lawsuit nears end (Lewiston Tribune)
Schmidt held Moscow town hall (Moscow News)

Tires stored illegally at Eugene draw state (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislators consider limits on vaping (Eugene Register Guard)
Lawmakers balancing cleaner fuel, gas prices (Medford Tribune)
Portland looks for new home for homeless (Portland Oregonian)
GMO food label bill slows down at statehouse (Salem Statesman Journal)

Kitsap resolves condo lawsuit (Bremerton Sun)
Timber sale near Gold Bar held off (Everett Herald)
Hospital at Monroe will change name and alliance (Everett Herald)
What was Kitzhaber doing his last couple weeks as gov? (Longview News)
New chief tries for change at Seattle police (Seattle Times)
Spokane composting gets concerns from state (Spokane Spokesman)
Flu season still continuing (Vancouver Columbian, Yakima Herald Republic)
Fort Vancouver plan raise in entry fee (Vancouver Columbian)

Actual effects

idaho RANDY

The argument against major raises to the minimum wage, notably in Washington – where the minimum is the highest in the country – sometimes runs to the ideological (government shouldn’t so regulate business) but focuses more on the practical.

That is: Higher minimum wages would have negative economic effects, especially in the area of the number of jobs out there. Raise the wage, the argument goes, and the business-wage monetary pie will be sliced fewer ways, cutting out some of the jobs.

The argument sounds sensible from a numerical standpoint, but it runs aground in several other places. One is that the amount of money dedicated to paychecks is not static: It varies as the need for workers goes up or down. A hamburger joint that needs to hire (let’s say) a dozen workers to meet the demand and keep the business operating properly isn’t going to suddenly drop to nine employees because wages went up. More likely, as is the case for any business when some part of the operation becomes more costly, the price of a burger and fries will edge up. Most of the time, customers little notice – less than they would if they weren’t getting their orders filled.

This comes back to mind with a piece in the Horse’s Ass blog, recalling the warnings of Andrew Friedman, a Seattle bar owner (it’s called Liberty, of course) warned that a $15 minimum wage meant “Local independent businesses WILL closed, many of your neighbors WILL be out of work.”

About nine months ago, the minimum wage was approved. A few days ago, some months after its effects had some time to settle in, Friedman had some business news. No, not the closure of Liberty, but rather the opening of second bar (the Good Citizen).

Sounds like more jobs have been created.

Albeit, for customers, probably a higher tab on the well drinks.

On the front pages


Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

West Ada bond again: schools filling fast (Boise Statesman)
Pullman drone company gets ready to ship (Lewiston Tribune)
Parental control bill and faith healing (Nampa Press Tribune)
Ed official says broadband transition continues (Nampa Press Tribune)
Vallivue schools look at new bond (Nampa Press Tribune)

New trails sought for Skinner Butte (Eugene Register Guard)
Legislators consider clean fuel details (Eugene Register Guard)
Tuition at UO may increase 3.7% (Eugene Register Guard)
Reviewing Cover Oregon (KF Herald & News)
Republicans pick Currier as new party chair (Portland Oregonian)
Solar project wrongly gets tax credits (Portland Oregonian)
Looking at where homeless crisis came from (Portland Oregonian)
Looking at Kitzhaber's last two weeks (Salem Statesman Journal)

Evaluating Kitsap water quality (Bremerton Sun)
Could Paine become a passenger terminal? (Everett Herald)
Some schools tocking reec facilities after hours (Everett Herald)
Medical pot growers concerned about new bill (Longview News)
Propane exporter make case for Longview shipping (Longview News)
7,600 marine mammals found in Lower Columbia (Longview News)
2/3 of state spending legally mandated (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
State has concerns on electronic warfare training (Port Angeles News)
Reviewing socialist Sawant's term on council (Seattle Times)
Problems over sales of Super Bowl tickets still persist (Seattle Times, Yakima Herald Tribune)
Bill would split pot revenue with local agencies (Vancouver Columbian)
Seattle school refuses Common Core testing (Vancouver Columbian)