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MLK’s dream, benefit barriers, state bank…



► In today’s NY Times — How Fares The Dream? (Paul Krugman column) — If Martin Luther King could see America now, I believe that he would be disappointed, and feel that his work was nowhere near done. He dreamed of a nation in which his children “will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” But what we actually became is a nation that judges people not by the color of their skin — or at least not as much as in the past — but by the size of their paychecks. And in America, more than in most other wealthy nations, the size of your paycheck is strongly correlated with the size of your father’s paycheck. Goodbye Jim Crow, hello class system.




► In The Stranger — New high-security checkpoints stand between elderly, their Social Security benefits — Rather than the office she goes to now, which is more akin to visiting a driver’s license bureau, 74-year-old Situ Lizhen will be required to navigate a gauntlet of Homeland Security checkpoints in the downtown federal building — and possibly be searched — just to check in with federal workers about her benefits.

► In the News Tribune — Concessions may avert layoffs for 200 Tacoma fire fighters, officers — It’s now up to the memberships of each union to approve the concessions. The police union has planned a vote for Monday evening. The fire union has scheduled votes for Jan. 26-27.

► In the Daily News — Longview city employees win cost-of-living raises— The AFSCME contract provides for a 2.7%  cost-of-living raise this year and between 2% and 3.5% in 2013 and 2014, depending on the inflation rate. It also increases employees’ share of health insurance premiums.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Hanford workers bite their tongues, assessment says— A significant number of federal and contractor staff on the Hanford vitrification plant project reported they were reluctant to raise safety or quality concerns, according to a new assessment of safety culture at the project released Friday.

► In the Daily News — Groups drop appeals of Longview Fibre’s biomass expansion— The road is now clear to build the plant, which would employ 15 to 20 contract workers and generate 54 megawatts for sale on the open market.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Kennewick council poised to adopt E-Verify— The city council on Tuesday will vote on whether to adopt E-Verify as a condition for employment and for contractors who want to do work for the city.




► In the News Tribune — State bank idea gains support— State government stores money at Bank of America, buys goods with U.S. Bank cards, and distributes welfare aid through JP Morgan Chase ATMs. Supporters of cutting such ties to big banks say the first step is creating the state’s own bank. Rep. Bob Hasegawa’s proposal last year went nowhere. But the House created a task force that Hasegawa led, which came up with scaled-back legislation addressing worries about whether a state bank would run afoul of constitutional prohibitions about lending the state’s credit.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Loss of five ferry routes is worse case transportation funding scenario— WSF might cut five routes, including Bremerton and Southworth, if legislators can’t pull the trigger on more funding. Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond said only the three top-performing routes — Bainbridge, Edmonds and Mukilteo — and two providing island access — San Juans and Vashon — would be spared.

► In the Tri-City Herald — Bill aims to use students for farm labor— Bipartisan legislation announced Friday would authorize the state Board of Education to allow school districts to adjust the 180-day school year in ways that free students to work in agriculture.

► From AP — Senate Democrats show off savings reform plan— Senate Democrats unveiled a series of reform ideas that won’t bank much money for the state’s immediate budget shortfall but will, they say, save hundreds of millions of dollars in the coming years.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Lawmakers likely to reject prisoners’ early release as a money-saver — Gregoire put forth the idea of releasing inmates early, but lawmakers are giving her proposal a cold shoulder so far this session.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Aerospace students wait for loan funds — Fifty-one students have received low-interest student loans to pay for short-term aerospace job training in Washington, but plenty more are on a waiting list for funding.

► In the PSBJ — Would tax hike help educate the work force? Business groups open-minded but haven’t backed plan

► In the Olympian — Justice Tom Chambers to retire— State Supreme Court justice Tom Chambers will step down at the end of his term this year, opening the door for former Pierce County executive John Ladenburg and at least one rival.

► In the News Tribune — McKenna’s lack of action has allowed lawsuit payouts to increase again (by Rebecca Roe) — McKenna should not abandon the prevention efforts to reduce payouts. We know they work. Our state proved it earlier this decade, but those efforts atrophied on his watch.




► In today’s LA Times — SAG, AFTRA craft merger plan — Hollywood’s two main actors unions, the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, early Monday morning took a historic step toward combining their two unions. The Group for One Union, which is made up of leaders of SAG and AFTRA, hammered out an agreement to merge the unions after nine days of intensive talks.

► In today’s NY Times — Governor who took on unions may face closely watched recall election — By a state deadline on Tuesday, volunteers say they will submit at least 720,000 names on petitions to recall Gov. Scott Walker, the Republican who curtailed collective bargaining rights for Wisconsin’s public workers. Politicians and political operatives far beyond Wisconsin will be watching closely.

► In The Hill — House GOP leaders get heat from rank-and-file ahead of debt vote — House Republicans want to embarrass President Obama with a vote on the debt ceiling this week but they may get some heartburn courtesy of rank-and-file conservatives.

► In The Hill — Business groups push Congress to act quickly to extend tax breaks— But following the bruising December battle over extending the payroll tax cut, sources are far from certain a quick extension of the provisions is within reach

► In The Hill — Trumka: Congress controlled by ‘climate change deniers’ — “It is clear that as long as Congress is effectively controlled by climate change deniers, all of us — investors, companies, workers and the broader public — must take action ourselves,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Illegal procedure? Dallas Cowboys called out on sweatshop conditions — Cowboys owner Jerry Jones spent $1 billion to build a gilded palace that his team plays in eight Sundays a year. But in the gift shops inside Cowboys Stadium and in sports apparel stores around the nation, Cowboys fans are buying gear made by Cambodian workers earning just 29 cents an hour for 10-hour days, six days a week.




► From AP — Huntsman to quit presidential race, endorse Romney

► At TPM — Gingrich: Fire federal employees over liberal views

► At Huffington Post — Colbert Super PAC: ‘Romney is a serial killer’




► In The Nation — GOP anti-labor zealotry (by John Nichols) — Never in the modern history of the Republican Party has a field of GOP presidential candidates been so united and so aggressive in opposing collective bargaining rights for workers. Abraham Lincoln once urged his fellow partisans to recognize that “labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.” Unfortunately, as the events of 2011 and the campaign of 2012 amply illustrate, the Republicans are no longer the Party of Lincoln.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m. These links are functional at the date of posting, but sometimes expire.

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