Thursday, June 14, 2012
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Pasco’s mail distribution center to say open until February — The 65-employee Pasco Processing & Distribution Center has gotten a six-month reprieve from closing. “It doesn’t necessarily mean that we are saved,” said John Michael Wald, president of the local American Postal Workers Union. “It just means that we have bought six months.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — The USPS is not losing money! It would be turning a profit today, if Congress had not imposed a requirement — unique in both the public or private sectors — that the USPS prepay future employees’ benefits. This is costing an otherwise self-supporting agency billions of dollars a year. If Congress wants to save jobs and continue timely and reliable postal service, it has the power to do so. Get more information at www.SaveAmericasPostalService.org
► In today’s Seattle Times — New jobs lure jobless to the hunt; state’s unemployment rate inches higher — In May, 11,700 jobs were added, according to the state Employment Security Department. The private sector added 14,300 jobs, and the public sector lost 2,600 jobs. While the number of people working increased, unemployment rose to 8.3% in May from 8.2% in April. That’s because more unemployed people joined the job hunt, says the ESD.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Former employees organize picket outside local Dairy Queen— Several former Dairy Queen employees and their supporters picketed Wednesday outside Longview’s Ocean Beach Highway store, claiming the franchise owner was violating labor laws, overworking teenagers and creating a hostile work environment. The state Department of Labor & Industries is investigating complaints about minors working legally excessive hours and the lack of meal and rest breaks for Dairy Queen workers. Ex-employees said teenagers were working 10-hour days and 40-hour weeks, twice the legal limit during the school year.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Hey, maybe we should allow Dairy Queen to pay a sub-minimum “training wage” to these teenagers, too!
► In today’s Columbian — Clark College board passes no-cuts budget — Most significantly, for the first time in years its budget contains no program cuts or reductions in services for students. It does, however, include a tuition increase and a reduction in pay for employees, both of which are state-mandated and not decided at the local level.
► In today’s News Tribune — Western State Hospital chief’s leaving— Jess Jamieson has been CEO of the mental institution in Lakewood, the state’s largest with about 800 patients, for three years, with a current salary of more than $141,000.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Dull labor news exciting for Boeing, its workers (editorial) — It was a seemingly dull story, at the bottom of page A10. Boeing had reached an agreement with the International Association of Machinists on a system for incentive pay. The story had no crisis, no excitement and no disagreement from the sources quoted. It was the best sort of news for people of the Puget Sound.
► From AP — Inslee releases plan to improve higher ed — Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee has released a higher-education plan that calls for capping the interest rate for state-backed student loans, expanding online education and increasing partnerships with private colleges
► In today’s Seattle Times — McKenna’s claims of staff cuts don’t add up— Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna says he has made larger cuts to his staff at the state Attorney General’s office than have most other agencies. The percentages (his campaign) cited are inaccurate and overstate the reduction of employees in his office… If you look at staffing for the last fiscal year — the year his office picked for comparison with other agencies — he had more FTEs.
► At TheOlympian.com — Duh: AWB endorses McKenna— The Association of Washington Business was staying officially neutral through the debate it sponsored between candidates for governor and attorney general, but didn’t even wait a day to endorse its favorites, Republicans Rob McKenna and Reagan Dunn.
EDITOR’S NOTE — As The Stand pointed out prior to the debate, Democrats are expected to appear before the state’s business leaders for this debate “tradition,” as an immediate precursor to this increasingly partisan business lobbying organization’s endorsement of the Republican. Which brings us to today’s news about AWB’s mothership…
► In The Hill — Chamber, House GOP leave discord over debt ceiling behind— House Republicans who defied corporate leaders by voting against the debt-ceiling increase last summer will likely have the backing of Washington’s most powerful business lobby come November.
► In today’s Columbian — PlateGate! Republican candidate registered car, never changed plates — Debbie Peterson, a Republican candidate for the Legislature, has obtained Washington plates for the Mercedes she bought in January, but she says she’s been busy and hasn’t been able to find the right tool to loosen the quirky screws fastening the Oregon plates in place.
WHAT ME WORRY?
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — No criminal charges to be filed against Snohomish County Executive Aaron Reardon
► In today’s NY Times — No new trial for John Edwards
► At AFL-CIO Now — VA health care workers: ‘Stop the downgrades’ — Several hundred AFGE members and supporters from other unions rally in Lafayette Park, across from the White House and near Veterans Affairs headquarters, to urge the VA to put a moratorium on the arbitrary downgrading of jobs.
► In The Hill — Leaders trade blame for breakdown in highway bill talks — Negotiations between the House and Senate on a new highway bill appeared to break down Wednesday amid recriminations between the leading Democrat and Republican on the conference committee. Both sides suggested lawmakers might not reach a deal by June 30, when current legislation funding road projects runs out.
► In today’s NY Times — Mr. Dimon on the Hill (editorial) — Even as JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon admits to the greed and hubris of big banks, he is still resisting needed regulations, and lawmakers are still giving him a pass.
► At Huffington Post — Bush blamed more for economic troubles than Obama, poll finds — The new Gallup poll showed that 68% of Americans place either a great deal or moderate amount of economic blame on Bush, whereas 52% blame Obama.
EDITOR’S NOTE — But that’s no reason to do this.
► In today’s NY Times — How broccoli landed on the Supreme Court menu — If the court strikes down the health care law — which many constitutional experts on both the right and left long doubted it would do — many lawyers say they believe one reason may be the role of broccoli in shaping the debate.
► In today’s Washington Post — Secret money fuels the 2012 elections (by E.J. Dionne) — For those who believe money already has too much power in U.S. politics, 2012 will be a miserable year. The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, lassitude at the Federal Election Commission and the growing audacity of very rich conservatives have created a new political system that will make the politics of the Gilded Age look like a clean government paradise.
It’s preposterous that our system has handed over so much power to those with large fortunes that the only way to get matters under control is to have one group of rich people check the power of another group of rich people. Maybe the absurdity of it all will finally force the Supreme Court and Congress to bring us back to something more reasonable. It’s called democracy.
► A related story in today’s NY Times — Campaign aid is now surging into 8 figures
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.