Postal pain, Inslee warns Senate GOP, farm reality check…
Thursday, February 7, 2013
► In today’s Washington Post — Postal Service’s bold, risky move — Like a quarterback eyeing a hole in the defensive line, Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe and eagle-eyed USPS attorneys have found an opening in the law binding the service to six-day mail delivery. When a temporary funding measure expires March 27, there will be no congressionally imposed six-day requirement — a provision that has been in place since 1983. Donahoe hopes to break through that breach and implement five-day mail delivery starting in August.
► In today’s Wenatchee World — Scrapping Saturday mail adds to NCW’s postal pain — Loss of the region’s mail processing center. Shorter hours for small-town post offices. And now no more mail delivery on Saturdays. The USPS announcement to ax Saturday mail service is the latest cutback for North Central Washington residents facing an end to overnight delivery of first-class mail and curtailed hours at rural post offices.
► From AP — Ending Saturday mail affects Washington balloting — With Saturday mail delivery ending this summer, Secretary of State Kim Wyman says voters should think about getting their ballots in the mail sooner.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Closure of mail processing centers throughout the state are also likely to slow ballot delivery, making Republican proposals to require ballots be received by Election Day — as opposed to mailed by that day — even more untenable.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee warns Senate GOP ‘has gone backwards’ on energy, workers’ comp — Gov. Jay Inslee jumped on plans by the Senate majority to revamp the state workers’ compensation system, saying they would “reduce protections for workers and their families. I think they are unnecessary.” And the governor urged the Senate to move quickly to expand Medicaid as called for under the national health-care law.
EDITOR’S NOTE — And yet, tone-deaf to the voters of this state, Senate Republicans continue to plow forward with their right-wing agenda…
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Sen. Braun introduces bill to privatize workers’ compensation — State Sen. John Braun (R-Centralia) on Wednesday introduced the latest Republican effort to reform Washington’s workers’ compensation program, proposing to allow employers the option of buying private insurance.
► At PubliCola — Inslee says expanding Medicare is ‘no-brainer’ — Gov. Jay Inslee, a veteran of the 2010 health care reform debates in Congress, said it was “time to put away the arguments of yesterday” and expand Medicaid coverage.
► In The Stranger — We’re No. 1 at taxing the poor — Washington state may be progressive when it comes to gay marriage, pot, and electing Democratic governors, but when it comes to our tax system, not so much. According to a new report from a DC-based think tank, Washington continues to boast the most regressive state and local tax system in the nation — by far.
► At PubliCola — State needs new revenue to backfill $2.3 billion shortfall — The Washington State Budget and Policy Center says the supreme court’s McCleary decision mandates education spending that will cost the state $1.4 billion over the next biennial budget cycle. That bill is on top of another $900 million to close the state’s current budget gap.
► In today’s Columbian — State business group lists CRC as No. 1 transportation priority — The Association of Washington Business report on transportation infrastructure listed the Columbia River Crossing as the state’s highest priority.
► At RichardAboulafia.com — Letter by aerospace analyst Richard Aboulafia — There was no contrition or soul-searching (from Boeing executives) on the call about how the 787 could have gone this wrong, or what could be done within the company to make it right… Instead, the call emphasized some impressive sales and profit numbers. It was like a farmer showing off a great crop, but not mentioning that the tractor just broke, he fired the mechanic, and outsourced tractor maintenance to Bolivia. And that customers for next year’s crop had been promised penalty payments if the farm didn’t deliver. Chicago’s view of engineering, as seen in management changes, union negotiations, product launch decisions, and design outsourcing moves, is that it’s a secondary consideration, far behind financial and market considerations such as Return On Net Assets (RONA). But clearly this strategy of downplaying engineering is starting to have a deleterious effect on the company’s financial performance… In other words, Boeing’s problem isn’t just that the engineers have been nudged aside by the bean counters. It’s that the bean counters need to rethink the way they manage the company.
► From AP — FAA gives Boeing approval to fly one 787 from Texas to Everett — The permission is for a single flight for the purpose of relocating the plane, and is not a test flight, the FAA said. The agency is still considering a separate Boeing request to conduct test flights.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Navy secretary assures local sailors their jobs are safe — Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus visited Whidbey Island Naval Air Station on Wednesday to tell sailors their jobs are not in jeopardy, despite billions of dollars in looming budget cuts to the military. “There are big impacts, however,” he said. Temporary jobs will be axed and a civilian-hiring freeze will be imposed. At Naval Station Everett, as with the rest of the regional Navy bases, millions of dollars will be saved by canceling maintenance and modernization projects and other contracts with local businesses.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Exports surge 29% at Everett port — The Port of Everett is the second-fastest growing port on the West Coast when it comes to the value of products exported. The Port exported $12.6 billion in cargo in 2011. That places it at No. 5 in export value among dozens of ports along the West Coast, and No. 2 in the state behind the Port of Seattle.
► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Vast majority of comments on Cherry Point terminal are form letters, emails — About 108,000 of the comments were form letters or emails, submitted by people who responded to one of at least 24 organized comment campaigns. Only about 16,000 of the comments were uniquely worded.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Inslee guarded on tribe casino — Gov. Jay Inslee wouldn’t say Wednesday which way he’s leaning on the Spokane Tribe’s proposed casino on the West Plains. Inslee has the final ability to block the project near Fairchild Air Force Base even if federal officials sign off on it.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Trumka: Immigration reform is personal — There is a deep and personal reason AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is passionate about enacting immigration reform that provides a real pathway to citizenship for 11 million immigrants who call this country home.
► In today’s NY Times — Immigration and the middle ground (editorial) — The first House hearing on immigration reform offered little encouragement for reaching a bipartisan deal.
► At AFL-CIO Now — Austerity plans, Bowles-Simpson are bad policies for economy, working families — Working families aren’t fooled. There’s nothing “fair and balanced” about the Bowles-Simpson budget plan that would ultimately increase unemployment, cut Social Security benefits, tax workers’ health benefits and scapegoat federal employees while giving more tax breaks for sending jobs overseas and lowering tax rates for Wall Street and the wealthiest 2%. Yesterday, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-Ore.) introduced an amendment (H.R. 44) that would direct President Obama to follow the budget recommendations of Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, known as the Bowles-Simpson plan.
► In today’s NY Times — Democrats seek to stave off $1 trillion in cuts — With at least one million jobs on the line, Senate Democrats on Wednesday said they were closing in on legislation to temporarily head off nearly $1 trillion in cuts that were already affecting Pentagon decision-making and could force significant reductions in staffing and services across the government.
► At The Hill — LaHood: ‘America is one big pothole’ — Outgoing Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood laments the amount of infrastructure spending that was approved by Congress during his tenure at the Department of Transportation.
► In today’s NY Times — Justice(s) at work (by Linda Greenhouse) — A little-noticed Supreme Court decision last summer raises concerns about the future of labor law in the hands of an anti-union conservative majority.
► A Super Bowl commercial reality check…
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