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Public-sector layoffs, Solis resigns, lockout law firm, RTW? WTF…

Thursday, January 10, 2013




► In the (Aberdeen) Daily World — Challenges ahead in Olympia — Another projected budget shortfall likely means more cuts on top of the $11 billion that has already been trimmed the past couple of years, not to mention that the state already has 10,000 fewer employees in that timeframe, says Sen. Jim Hargrove (D-Hoquiam).

► A related story from AP — Public-sector jobs lag even as private sector gains steam — The private sector is slowly climbing its back way from the Great Recession, adding 155,000 jobs in December. But the public sector is continuing its long employment slide, making it the worst few years for government employees in recent memory.

WA-health-benefit-exchange► At Politico — States struggle with how to sell their health exchanges — From Pandora radio to those paper coffee cup sleeves to the neighborhood laundromat, states are searching for creative ways to advertise their new health insurance exchanges to people who may not know much about how to get covered next year under the health care law — and who may not like what they’ve heard. “The uninsured population is an extremely difficult population to reach,” said Michael Marchand, director of communications for the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange. “They’re uninsured for a reason. How much will it actually take to get people both understanding the value [of the exchange] … as well as taking action to enroll?”

► At PubliCola — Sen. Kohl-Welles not about to give up on human-trafficking battle — It was a notorious murder in her second year as a state representative that turned Jeanne Kohl-Welles into the Washington Legislature’s point-woman on human trafficking issues.

ALSO at The Stand — UW human-trafficking conference Jan. 11-12

► From AP — State wants to study charging drivers by the mile as gas-tax receipts shrink — Facing steep declines in gas-tax revenues that pay for road repairs, Washington is exploring a creative solution: charging drivers by the mile to use state highways and roads.

► From AP — State ed board to draft rules for charter schools — The Washington State Board of Education is ready to take public comment on rules it hopes to adopt in February concerning the next steps toward opening up to eight public charter schools by fall 2014.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Gov.-elect Inslee appoints budget director — David Schumacher, former staff director for the state Senate Ways and Means Committee, will be Inslee’s budget director.

► At — McKenna lobbyist Goodman moving to Senate admin job — Hunter Goodman is moving over from the Attorney General’s Office to serve as secretary of the Senate.

► At PubliCola — Rendering himself ineligible — The 48th District Democrats, home of state Sen. Rodney Tom, voted 30-8 last night to approve a resolution saying that by supporting the GOP, Tom was “rendering himself ineligible for our future endorsement and support.”




seattle-hansen-arena► In today’s Seattle Times — Sacramento vows to fight sale, move of Kings to Seattle — A report citing an unnamed source says a Seattle group, led by investor Chris Hansen and including Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer, is on the verge of buying Sacramento’s NBA team. If the deal succeeds, the report said, the team would move to Seattle and play the 2013-14 and 2014-15 seasons at KeyArena while a new arena is built in Sodo. One potential hurdle to moving a team here — a lawsuit brought by the Longshore workers union to void the city’s arena deal with Hansen — could be resolved early this year.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Everett council sets aside K-C mill site for industrial uses — The area around the former Kimberly-Clark mill will be zoned for water-dependent industrial development, the City Council decided. The 6-1 vote was cheered loudly by packed audience, many of whom had testified in favor of preserving Everett’s working waterfront.

► At IAM 751’s blog — Spokane Machinists ratify contract with Kenworth — Machinists Union members working at Kenworth Sales preserved their pensions and won small raises with their new union contract.

► From AP — Port of Portland approves subsidy to keep container business — Commissioners approve an incentive program to entice container-shipping companies to continue visiting the city amid a decline in productivity.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Tribe’s investment helping Arlington company hire 200 — More than 200 jobs are scheduled to be added at MicroGreen Polymers, after the company received a $5 million investment from the Stillaguamish Tribe.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Fairchild a finalist for newest tankers — Fairchild Air Force Base is on the short list to be the first home for the nation’s newest air refueling tanker. The Air Force said Fairchild and three other bases will be studied for the selection of the facility to “bed down” the first KC-46A refueling jets when they roll off the Boeing assembly line later this decade.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Boeing, airline industry downplay recent 787 woes — Qatar Airways, one of the biggest 787 customers, said heightened scrutiny of the model after a plane caught fire at the Boston airport won’t dampen the carrier’s purchase plans.




solis-hilda► In today’s NY Times — Solis stepping down as Labor Secretary — Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis announced she was stepping down, becoming the latest woman to leave President Obama’s cabinet at a time when his personnel choices are drawing scrutiny for their lack of female candidates.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Isn’t Gregoire in Obama’s binder full of women?

► At AFL-CIO Now — Labor Secretary Hilda Solis resigns — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka said Solis “brought urgently needed change to the Department of Labor, putting the U.S. government firmly on the side of working families.”

► In today’s Olympian — It’s past time to overhaul the filibuster rule (editorial) — The lazy simplification of a historic tradition in the U.S. Senate — there is no mention of a filibuster in the Constitution and it doesn’t exist in the House — has led to abuse of the rule, contributing to the lowest-ever approval rating for this do-nothing Congress.

ALSO in The Stand — Momentum grows to ‘Fix the Senate Now!’

► In today’s NY Times – Democracy in the House (editorial) — To block extremists, Speaker John Boehner should open up votes to lawmakers of both parties.




crystal-sugar-lockout► In today’s Grand Forks Herald — Lockout law firm hurts workers, employers — While we see the NHL player lockout coming to an end, Minnesota still has three major lockouts on its hands. One of the most egregious examples is in the Red River Valley, where 1,300 skilled and highly trained workers who turn beets into sugar have been locked out for nearly 17 months by their already profitable employer — American Crystal Sugar. Besides the fact that these employers all are located in Minnesota, there is another common thread. All three employers are represented by the Minneapolis law firm of Felhaber, Larson, Fenlon and Vogt at the bargaining table. These lockouts continue to hurt workers, employers and communities. So, why are they continuing? The only ones who seem to be benefiting are the employers’ lawyers.

► At TPM — Florida Gov. Scott under fire for inflating cost of Medicaid expansion — Florida’s Republican Gov. Rick Scott has rejected the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. And now he’s in hot water for apparently inflating the cost of the expansion to Floridians in order to justify his decision.

► In today’s NY Times — AIG says it won’t join lawsuit against government — The decision by AIG’s board follows a public uproar that erupted after The New York Times reported that the company was weighing whether to join a $25 billion lawsuit filed by its former chief executive, Maurice R. Greenberg, on behalf of fellow shareholders.

► Today in The Onion — AIG nearly blows up all that good will built up by Wall Street in recent years — “Wall Street really won me over in 2008 when it veered toward total collapse after years of predatory lending practices. And the banks definitely had a special place in my heart after they continued foreclosing on homeowners they shouldn’t have loaned money to in the first place,” said Jessica Woodward, 37, a Cincinnati-based software engineer. “But if AIG had gone ahead with this lawsuit — well, I’m not sure that’s something I could have turned a blind eye to.”




rtw-wtf► At Huffington Post — “Right to work” weakens democracy (by SPEEA’s Stan Sorscher) — We all know that those politicians who would gladly vote for “right to work” in Indiana, Wisconsin and Michigan don’t really care about workers’ rights. Right to Work takes away the workers democratic right to decide what terms they want to negotiate into their contract. If those politicians really cared about workers rights, they’d enforce workers’ right to organize without being intimidated or fired. They would respect every worker’s right to decline a meeting for anti-union propaganda, and the right to increase their union’s strength.

State governments in Wisconsin, and Michigan showed contempt for the democratic process, ramming through legislation using tactics that would be unheard of for any other policy issue. Democracy lost twice — once in the state capitol, and again in the workplace. When we step back and look at this, it’s really about money and political power.


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