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Construction woes, E-Verify flaws, Romneymania…



► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Building permit numbers illustrate Whatcom County construction woes— Investment in new projects remained quite sluggish last year, in some cases the slowest in many years. This coming year doesn’t appear to point toward a significant uptick in new projects.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The same is true in just about every county in the state, as construction unemployment remains at least 20% and as high as 50% in some trades. Which is why we need the Infrastructure Jobs Bond passed NOW!

► In today’s Yakima H-R — House bill would prevent requiring businesses to use E-Verify — About 75% of the name mismatches identified by E-Verify are errors in the system, said Rebecca Johnson, Washington State Labor Council government affairs director. It’s a flawed system that can prevent legal workers from working.

► In today’sSeattle Times — Higher ed officials press lawmakers to avoid more cuts — Trustees and regents from the state’s colleges and universities spent Tuesday at the Capitol urging lawmakers to prevent further cuts to higher education. Lawmakers cut $500 million from higher education last year, and Gregoire has proposed an additional $160 million cut.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle teachers on furlough day protest against budget cuts

► In today’s (Everett) Herald – Critics blast Gregoire’s transportation plan as tax increase — Oil industry representatives blasted the barrel fee, saying it will hurt businesses, cost jobs and boost the price of gasoline.

EDITOR’S NOTE — And, of course, Tim Eyman no likey. Not exactly a “man bites dog” news bulletin from our state’s self-appointed fi-douche-iary.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — EGT labor settlement postpones NLRB hearing on illegal picketing— Negotiators are staying mum on how many jobs at the Port of Longview’s EGT grain terminal will be filled by union longshoremen, but a tentative settlement has already compelled the longshore union and EGT to push back a key labor hearing at the heart of the dispute.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Proposed port labor deal a winner all around (editorial) — Gov. Chris Gregoire is certainly entitled to take a bow for her office’s efforts in brokering this week’s tentative settlement, particularly for their perseverance through a six-month process. The principals at (ILWU and EGT) also deserve credit for being flexible enough to find and reach a middle ground.




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Longview casino wants tax break, says it’s needed to offset minimum wage increase — Cadillac Island Casino owner Jim Bakunowicz has asked the City Council to modify Longview’s 11.25% flat gambling tax rate to a sliding scale based on revenue.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Of course, this is a guy the City of Kennewick had to sue over unpaid taxes before this year’s — and last year’s — cost-of-living adjustments in the minimum wage took effect.




► This morning from AP  — Boeing 4Q profit up as plane deliveries take off — Quicker deliveries of Boeing’s commercial airplanes helped it report a 20% jump in fourth-quarter profits, and offset sluggish growth in its defense business.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Norwegian Air orders 122 737s, 100 Airbus A320s— Its Boeing’s largest order ever from a European airline, valued at $11.4 billion at list prices.




► In today’s NY Times — Democrats flee an Indiana vote on anti-union bill — With Republican-controlled Indiana on the verge of becoming a “right to work” state, Democrats in the State House on Tuesday took the only step they have left to prevent it, if only for a bit longer. They disappeared. Again.

► From AP — Indiana Democrats ponder return in right-to-work battle — Democrats who have been boycotting the Indiana House in a battle over right-to-work (for less) legislation could each face a $5,000 fine if they stay away another day.

Also in The STAND — Phone bankers needed to fight ‘right to work’




► In today’s LA Times — Treat restaurant workers well, expect better business, study says — Offering restaurant workers good pay, benefits and career mobility usually translates into high short-term costs — a burden that causes many low-margin eateries to underpay and overwork their employees. But generous management policies also help dining establishments save big in the long run, according to new research.

► In today’s NY Times — Two sides far apart on payroll tax cut — Presidential politics and a push by both sides to include pet measures could turn negotiations over the extension of President Obama’s payroll tax cut into the next partisan donnybrook on Capitol Hill.

► In The State (S.C.) — Haley, Republicans take aim at unions — South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and House Republicans are joining forces to close loopholes that, they say, unions could use to set up shop and expand in South Carolina. Says Haley: “Unions are not needed, wanted or welcome in South Carolina.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — The governor of a state with one of the lowest union densities in the nation (just 4.6% of workers are unionized) wants to require businesses to… hang a poster discouraging unionization! A federal proposal to require a poster explaining workers’ legal rights to form a union sent D.C.’s business lobbyists into an apoplectic rage. Somehow, I don’t think they’ll consider Haley’s poster to be “littering their workplace” or “labor regulation run amok.”

► In today’s NY Times — A Wisconsin’s judge refusal to recuse (editorial) — Justice Michael Gableman of the Wisconsin Supreme Court says he will not retroactively recuse himself by taking back his vote in a 4-3, right-left vote last June in support of the Republican-backed state law curbing bargaining rights of public employees. Given his blatant conflict of interest, his decision is indefensible.

► From AP — How to fix Social Security confounds Florida retirees — Voters’ proposed solutions are just as varied as the stances of the GOP presidential candidates seeking their support. Some back Romney’s call to raise the age of eligibility, Gingrich’s call for privatization, and Santorum’s call for means testing. Meanwhile, national polls show 6 in 10 Americans support raising the income cap for Social Security taxes in order to increase the amount of money coming into the system. Majorities oppose reducing benefits for current (84%) or future (55%) retirees, as proposed by all of the Republican candidates.




► In today’s LA Times — Romney’s tax returns highlight tax code’s breaks for the rich — Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s tax returns reveal a sophisticated low-tax investment strategy that includes offshore funds and a now-shuttered Swiss bank account.

► In today’s Washington Post — Romney’s tax returns make him personal embodiment of GOP tax policy — With the release of his tax returns Tuesday, Mitt Romney has emerged as Exhibit A in a political battle likely to define the 2012 election: how to tax the rich.

► In today’s LA Times — Goldman Sachs a key player in Romney’s wealth — Romney’s tax returns show portions of his family fortune in an elite division of Goldman open only to clients with more than $10 million to invest and another in bank-run hedge funds.

► Last night on The Daily Show — Romney: I Know What You Did Last Quarter — Mitt Romney justifies making more in one day than the median American family makes in a year — WHEN HE DOESN’T EVEN HAVE A JOB — while paying a lower tax rate than the guy who scans his shoes at the airport.



► In The Onion — Romneymania sweeps America — Romneymania has grown, the Republican candidate has crossed over from political figure to cultural phenomenon. Countless reverent portraits of Romney have appeared in storefront windows and on building facades throughout the country, often accompanied by one of the candidate’s signature inspirational phrases, like “Let Detroit go bankrupt” or “Corporations are people, my friend.”

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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