787s grounded, Roach empowered, buses parked, public vs. private…

Wednesday, January 16, 2013




► In today’s Seattle Times — Two airlines ground 787 fleets — In a serious blow to Boeing’s flagship 787 Dreamliner program, two Japanese airlines with the largest fleets of the new airplane on Wednesday temporarily grounded all 24 jets after a battery-malfunction warning and detection of smoke forced the pilot of an All Nippon Airways 787 to make an emergency landing. The safety review will now grow more intense. And if the grounding of the planes proves extended, it will be very costly for both the airlines and Boeing.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — If uncontained, a battery fire could melt 787 fuselage, tests suggest — A fire that broke out last week in a 787 could have been hot enough to melt the carbon-fiber reinforced plastic that makes up the plane’s shell, according to the results of FAA tests last year.

► In today’s NY Times — Deepening crisis for the Dreamliner — The emergency landing followed a string of problems in the past month with the Boeing 787, including a battery fire, fuel leaks and a cracked cockpit window.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Today, as Boeing stock drops with the latest bad news about the troubled 787 program, the company will return to the bargaining table with its engineers and technicians represented by SPEEA/IFPTE 2001. There, management is provoking a potential strike by insisting that now — a time of record company profits and a major backlog of jet orders, but a deepening crisis with its 787 program — is the time to insist on cutting SPEEA members’ health benefits and eliminating the pension for new hires. WTF?




► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Gregoire: State’s future is bright — An emotional Gov. Chris Gregoire wrapped up her sometimes bumpy tenure Tuesday, delivering a farewell address in which she reflected on accomplishments of the past eight years she said put the state on solid footing for the future.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Inslee moves into spotlight’s glare — After he’s sworn in Wednesday in a ceremony in the marble rotunda of the state Capitol, Gov. Inslee will face the test of making good on candidate Inslee’s promises.




► From AP — Panel removes sanctions against Sen. Roach — The Senate Facilities and Operations Committee, altered by a new GOP-led majority in the chamber, decided in a private meeting that Sen. Pam Roach can now resume direct contact with staff. Republican Sen. Don Benton, committee chair, barred two reporters from attending the meeting and declined to discuss the details of the deliberations afterward.

► In today’s Olympian — Senate’s coalition gives Roach the ultimate bully pulpit (editorial) — Sen. Pam Roach, who has gone from exiled to empowered under the coalition, has repeatedly violated Senate workplace policy. Violations are documented in numerous formal and costly reports, investigations, complaints, lawsuits and settlements. Her poor treatment of staff is no longer in question. How her Senate Republican colleagues responded to these investigations is now surprising and disappointing. It appears that politics trumps the treatment of employees. It also appears that the Senate will tolerate personal attacks on the staff and that the Senate is unable, or unwilling, to hold members accountable for actions deemed unacceptable in most any other workplace.

► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Hatfield named Ag committee chair, denounces GOP+2 leadership — While Republicans are calling the coalition a bipartisan effort, Hatfield and other Democrats call it window dressing. They note the coalition has 23 Republicans and just two Democrats and the powerful budget-writing and rules committees are coalition-controlled. “It’s pretending to be bipartisan,” Hatfield said.

► In the News Tribune — Pierce County Democrats back Tom-Sheldon censure — Pierce County Democrats are urging state party leaders to cut off two defecting state senators, Rodney Tom of Medina and Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, from access to party money and a database of voter information.




► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Some Hanford vit plant construction can resume, officials announce — A limited ramp-up of construction can begin at a key facility where work has been slowed at the Hanford vitrification plant, Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire announced late Tuesday afternoon.

► In today’s News Tribune — Pierce Transit board adopts plan to cut service 34% — Pierce Transit’s board voted Monday night to cut service by 34 percent starting in September as a result of the defeat of a proposed sales-tax increase. Transit officials said the cuts would need to be even more severe if not for union concessions and improved sales-tax revenues in the second half of 2012.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — After union ratifies, WTA board set to vote on labor contract — Details of the Whatcom Transportation Authority agreement won’t be made public until after the board’s vote on Thursday. Members of ATU Local 843 voted to approve the contract on Jan. 8.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima County OKs two more labor contracts — Commissioners have ratified two more labor settlements with employee groups representing Department of Corrections clerical staff and solid waste employees, about 70 county employees in all.

► In today’s Yakima H-R — Yakima council votes down supermajority proposal to raise taxes — Politics and personalities clashed at Yakima City Council’s Tuesday meeting and sank a proposed ballot measure that would have asked for a supermajority of five council votes to raise taxes.

► At — Longtime stadium opponent sues to block SoDo deal — Joined in the lawsuit by two other Seattle residents, Mark Baerwaldt of Citizens For More Important Things contends a “memorandum of understanding,” signed by the city, King County and the arena investor group, is illegal and has asked a county judge to nullify the agreement.

► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Cherry Point coal terminal comment deadline extended to Jan. 22 — The deadline to submit comments for this phase has been moved one day to Jan. 22 because the original deadline of Jan. 21 fell on a federal holiday, MLK Day.




► In today’s Washington Post — AFGE wants contractors to sacrifice before federal workers — White House guidance for agency planning for sequestration, “imposes disproportionate sacrifice on federal employees,” says AFGE President J. David Cox, Sr. He noted that agencies were instructed to plan for furloughs, hiring freezes, layoffs of temporary employees and buyout incentives — all measures that affect federal workers, not contractors.

► In today’s Washington Post — Most see Obama as strong leader, say deal on debt ceiling does not require cuts — The percentage of Americans seeing the Republican leadership as overly intransigent is up 13 percentage points since December 2010, just after the GOP reclaimed control of the House of Representatives. The biggest increases since that time have been among Republicans and conservatives, with roughly 20-point jumps in blaming their party’s leaders for not doing enough to strike deals with the president. Half of all Republicans say the GOP leadership is not doing enough to compromise.

► In today’s NY Times — For ‘party of business,’ allegiances are shifting — Corporate chiefs in recent months have pleaded publicly with Republicans to raise their taxes for the sake of deficit reduction, and to raise the nation’s debt limit without a fight lest another confrontation like that in 2011 wallop the economy. But the lobbying has been to no avail. This is not their parents’ Republican Party.

► In The Hill — Chamber, union leaders mull alliance to press for immigration reform — The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is in discussions with the AFL-CIO and the SEIU about shared principles for reforming the immigration system.

► At TPM — House Democrats revive public option to reduce deficit — House Democrats on Tuesday introduced the “Public Option Deficit Reduction Act,” which would provide consumers the choice to opt into a government-run health insurance plan in the Obamacare exchanges.

► At Huffington Post — Sandy relief passes despite conservative opposition — The full $51 billion relief bill passed the House 241-180, with 179 Republicans opposed.

EDITOR’S NOTE — “No” votes included Washington’s own Cathy McMorris Rodgers and “Doc” Hastings.




► At AFL-CIO Now — 3.5 million jobs at stake if infrastructure continues to crumble — What would it cost if the nation’s crumbling infrastructure of bridges, roads, rails, sewer systems, power grids, airports and more is allowed to deteriorate at its current pace? Some 3.5 million jobs and $3.1 trillion in lost economic output by 2020. What would it cost to avoid that? About $1.1 trillion in additional investment. Sure sounds a like a great return on the investment and it is, according to a new report from the American Society of Civil Engineers.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Walmart’s job offer to vets needs context — The wrong way to greet our military veterans as they return to civilian life after defending the nation would be offering an $8.81 an hour part-time job with little to no benefits.

► In The Hill — Whole Foods CEO says Obama healthcare law is ‘more like fascism’ — The CEO of Whole Foods Market said President Obama’s healthcare law is more like “fascism” than “socialism,” a parallel he drew in 2009 to some backlash.

► In today’s NY Times — NYC school bus drivers go on strike — The first strike of New York City school bus drivers in three decades began Wednesday, leaving more than 100,000 children and their parents to negotiate new ways to class on a soggy, cold winter morning.

► In today’s NY Times — Behind double-digit premium increases (editorial) — National health care spending has been rising at an unusually low rate for three consecutive years. Yet health insurance companies in some states with lax regulations are requesting and winning double-digit premium increases for some customers. That jarring discrepancy suggests that both the federal government and the states need more power to reject premium increases that can’t be justified.

► At AFL-CIO Now — El Salvador airline servicer fires 96 workers for forming a union — When the ground servicing crew sought to address safety and health issues by forming a union, AERODESPACHOS fired 96 employees — nearly its entire staff — to reduce the number of workers seeking to join a union and so legally disqualify their efforts.




► In today’s NY Times — When public outperforms private in services — Our recent memory of mortgage banks blindly offering risky mortgages to shaky borrowers and bundling them into complex bonds to sell to unwary investors should dispel the notion that the profit motive inevitably aligns incentives in a socially desirable way. The pursuit of financial rewards, by private companies or even nonprofit organizations, can directly undermine public policy goals.

Evidence suggests a good rule of thumb to determine when a private company will outperform the public sector: if the task is clear-cut and it’s possible to define concrete goals and reward those who meet them, the private sector will probably do better. If the objectives are complex and diffuse — making it difficult to align profit with goals without undermining some other desirable outcome — the profit motive could well make conflicts more difficult to manage. In these cases, privatization is probably not the best solution. In their rush to save money by outsourcing services, governments might forget that.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 9 a.m.

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