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In with new maps & minimum wage; out with old wars…



► In the Olympian — New state political map approved— The Redistricting Commission unanimously approved a new political map Sunday evening. In the legislative plan, among Republicans: Rep. Ed Orcutt goes from the 18th District to the 20th, Rep. Gary Alexander from the 20th to the 2nd, and Rep. Jim McCune from the 2nd to the 28th. Among Democrats: Sen. Margarita Prentice of Renton moves from the 11th into the 37th, where Sen. Adam Kline is the incumbent.

► At Publicola — Majority-Latino district won’t have majority-Latino vote — There are two reasons that the 15th’s Latino majority isn’t likely to translate into a Latino voting majority. First, the 54.5% figure includes all residents, including those who are not yet of voting age. Including only those Latino residents who are 18 and older, 46.91% of the district’s residents are Latino. Second, that estimate includes undocumented immigrants, many of them agricultural workers at the many farms that fill the Yakima Valley, and are not eligible to vote.

► More local redistricting coverage in the Tri-City Herald, (Vancouver) Columbian, Wenatchee World, and the Yakima H-R.

► In today’s News Tribune — Redistricting may push congressional centrists toward more left or right positions— The state Redistricting Commission unveiled maps that insulate the four Democrats and four Republicans from having to worry much about being unseated by the opposing party. Their own parties could be a different story.




► In the Kitsap Sun — Minimum wage workers say increase will help, employers say it’ll hurt — Sarah Becker, 23, has earned minimum wage for the past two years while working nearly 40 hours per week at a Silverdale-based cafe. She welcomes the pay raise, but it only helps Becker maintain her day-to-day living: “It’s just a living wage increase. That’s it. They’re just increasing (minimum wage) so I can continue to live.”

► In today’s Christian Science Monitor — Minimum wage milestone: Why Washington State surpasses $9 an hour — As it turns out, minimum-wage workers are not typically high school kids. According to data from the Labor Department, 80% of minimum-wage earners are older than 20. And about 60% of minimum-wage workers are female, even though women make up only 48% of the national workforce.

► More local minimum wage coverage in the Yakima H-R.




► In today’s Daily News — State fee could make firefighters pay $125 every 3 years— A proposed state bill would require firefighters — including volunteers — to pay an estimated $125 state fee to verify their emergency responders’ certification status every three years, and it has local fire chiefs outraged.

► In the News Tribune — Tougher checks for home-care workers begin — Newly hired home-care workers must undergo tougher background checks under terms of I-1163, which voters overwhelmingly approved in November. A longer, 75-hour training course has also taken effect.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Survey suggests drivers prefer road tolls to taxes — A national poll finds 58% say they would prefer to pay for road improvements with tolls rather than taxes; 77% oppose raising the gas tax, and 59% said they would use a new toll lane or toll road if it saved them “a significant amount of time.”

► At Crosscut — Why liberalism is dead here: Pandering and premature capitulation (by Brendan Williams) — We can’t merely require that Democrats be (marginally) better than Republicans. We must demand that Democrats become again the party of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who said of the 1%, “These economic royalists complain that we seek to overthrow the institutions of America. What they really complain of is that we seek to take away their power.”




► In the Kitsap Sun — Navy to hire local workers for 2nd explosives handling wharf— In a first for the Defense Department, the Navy will require a project labor agreement (PLA) in building a second explosives handling wharf at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor. The deal will keep jobs local and contain costs, according to the Navy and regional trade councils.

ALSO SEE — PLA for Navy’s $600 million Bangor project a first (Dec. 15)

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Jury acquits longshoreman in first disorderly conduct trial from labor conflict— A six-woman jury deliberated just 12 minutes before acquitting Kelly Palmer, 44, of a charge of disorderly conduct for obstructing traffic. The gallery, made up largely of longshore supporters, burst into applause as jurors left the courtroom.

► In the (Everett) Herald — From someone who knows, Kimberly Clark mill’s end ‘devastating’ — When Helen Stone, 72, retired from her job as a Kimberly-Clark machine operator July 1, she had been there longer than any other worker in the factory’s history. “She was here longest,” said AWPPW Local 183 President Josh Estes. The Everett plant won’t officially close until March, but last week was the end for most of its workers — including Stone’s daughter, Marija Stone, whose last night at the plant was Tuesday. She had worked there, running a winder machine, 24 years.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Park rangers’ jobs increasingly dangerous — On any given day, a ranger such as Margaret Anderson, the 34-year-old mother of two who was shot to death Sunday at Mount Rainier National Park, may help a fellow law-enforcement officer who is chasing a heavily armed suspect up a remote icy road in one of the nation’s 397 national parks.

► In the Bellingham Herald — Activists plan initiative to outlaw coal trains in Bellingham — A citizens’ group plans an initiative to block SSA Marine’s plan for a coal shipping terminal at Cherry Point, but they seem to face overwhelming legal odds.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — At Boeing, it’s time for nuts and bolts — If 2011 was a year of solving knotty problems for Boeing, 2012 will be a year the company has to successfully implement the solutions.

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Work begins to empty another Hanford tank— This the first time in more than a decade that two underground tanks are being emptied simultaneously.




► In today’s NY Times — A gathering storm over ‘Right to Work’ in Indiana — Nearly a year after legislatures in Wisconsin and several other Republican-dominated states curbed the power of public sector unions, lawmakers are now turning their sights toward private sector unions, setting up what is sure to be another political storm. The thunderclouds are gathering first here in Indiana. The leaders of the GOP-controlled Legislature say that when the legislative session opens on Wednesday, their No. 1 priority will be to push through a business-friendly piece of legislation known as a right-to-work law.

► In today’s NY Times — New laws now evaluated by job creation — After years of judging the merits of federal laws by their costs or savings, Washington, D.C. is applying a new yardstick: Will they create or destroy jobs?

► At Politico — Obama and the definition of ‘recess’— Since the holidays, GOP congressional leaders have used a handful of senators and a procedural technicality to keep their chamber active, blocking Obama’s power to fill confirmation-level jobs in their absence.

► From AP — George W. Bush barely mentioned in GOP campaign — While the candidates routinely lionize Ronald Reagan and blame President Barack Obama for the nation’s economic woes, none has been eager to embrace the Bush legacy of gaping budget deficits, two wars and record low approval ratings — or blame him for the country’s troubles either.

► In today’s LA Times — Presidential campaign needs to get real on salvaging middle class (by Michael Hiltzik) — With the coming election, the year ahead offers voters, business leaders and politicians an opportunity for a joint debate over the fundamentals of capitalism in America. As the president put it in Kansas: “What’s at stake is whether this will be a country where working people can earn enough to raise a family, build a modest savings, own a home, secure their retirement.”

Those four goals have been undermined since the 1970s by the unequal distribution of the wealth created largely by the American worker’s boundless gains in productivity. Until the crash of 2008, which still inflicts an unaccustomed level of pain on the middle class and the working class, the crippling of American upward mobility was a phenomenon little noticed or swept under the rug. In the last year it has come out of hiding, a position it is likely to keep occupying over the next ten months.




► At Politico — Politicians ignoring the costs of war— Washington is totally isolated from the rhythms, the mood, the fears and apprehension felt by most Americans. And the wars drag on, touching only the few who serve and their families who remain here, praying nobody knocks on the door at night to tell them a sniper, an IED, an ambush or a fire-fight has claimed a son, husband, daughter or dad. So on Jan. 3, 2012, as candidates organize and hope for a finish that will fuel a continued campaign, Mary Ellen Ward will again – and daily – think of her son Tommy: Sgt. Thomas E. Houser, USMC, 2nd Force Reconnaissance Company, First Marine Division, killed on this day in 2005 in Iraq.


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