Wednesday, March 27, 2013
► From AP — Is the voting rights bill dead? — The Washington Voting Rights Act would facilitate switching from at-large to district elections in areas where large minority groups are present. Republican Sen. Pam Roach, chairwoman of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, said it was not likely HB 1413 would advance from her panel. “It’s a long reach,” she said. “These haven’t traditionally been Republican issues.”
EDITOR’S NOTE — Perhaps, Sen. Roach, if the party were to MAKE it one of their issues, they wouldn’t fare so poorly among the ever-growing bloc of minority voters.
► At PubliCola — A downward spiral — Not only is Sen. Rodney Tom’s Majority Coalition Caucus blocking the Democratic agenda (on voting rights), but they appear to be going about it hypocritically.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Democrats in Olympia push constitutional amendment on campaign finance — Democrats used a state Senate committee hearing Tuesday to vent about how the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC and the resulting increase in political spending by corporations poses “a threat to our democracy.”
► In today’s Seattle Times — Rep. Roger Freeman diagnosed with cancer — The Federal Way Democrat has been diagnosed with colon cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy. He says his prognosis is good and he is optimistic about his treatment.
► An Epic Rant by our favorite Seattle Times business columnist Jon Talton — Boeing news: Chicago, do we have a problem? — The announcements add up. Boeing will move its Seattle-area flight training operations to Miami. Boeing will lay off 800 machinists. Boeing will cut hundreds of white-collar jobs here, too, moving some airline engineering support to Long Beach, Calif., and some IT work to St. Louis and Charleston, S.C.
If one thing has been made clear by the Dreamliner fiasco, it’s that Boeing’s head shed thinks it can get away with pretty much anything — and any consequences can be pushed down to the average workers. Extra points for blaming unions! This is the attitude one should expect from a company that not only suffers appallingly weak corporate governance, but is also a welfare queen, sucking public incentives and the U.S. government’s peddling of its wares around the world, and a perfectly-legal tax dodger. No wonder it has such a sense of entitlement, so little loyalty — and worst of all, so little ability to assess its long-term viability and best interests. As is the case in too much of highly consolidated corporate America, these bosses are like Lindsay Lohan with PowerPoint.
► Meanwhile at Airbus, from Reuters — EADS shareholders back sweeping ownership change — Shareholders have backed sweeping changes at aerospace group EADS, tearing up a Franco-German ownership pact in favor of rules its leaders hailed as “emancipation” from political interference.
► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Corps says it’s not authorized for in-depth coal study — The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is unlikely to conduct a massive, comprehensive environmental review of proposed Northwest coal terminals, but agency officials have not ruled out a smaller review of three Columbia River projects. Officials at the corps say a so-called “programmatic” review is outside the agency’s authority, which is limited to granting permits for waterfront projects. The stance is a setback for environmentalists and Govs. John Kitzhaber of Oregon and Jay Inslee of Washington. Both have asked for a review of the cumulative effects of building the coal terminals.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — The turning point on coal (editorial) — Mark it down: March 25. That was the day the meltdown over coal-export facilities in the Pacific Northwest hit critical mass. The turning point centers on a wonky message to the White House from Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber. Rather than a parochial focus on permit applications, Inslee and Kitzhaber wide-angle the coal-export debate.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Report: 25,000 high-skill jobs go unfilled; prompts requests for more ed funding — This week, the business group Washington Roundtable released a study that says 25,000 high-skill jobs in Washington are going unfilled — jobs that have remained vacant for three months or longer, because qualified workers can’t be found to fill them.
► At TPM — Local airport closures cause Republicans sequestration anxiety — Sequestration generally provides agencies little flexibility to determine what parts of their budgets to cut — agencies with broad missions have to cut every program by the same percentage. But the majority of FAA’s employees are air traffic controllers, and as a result, FAA has announced its intent to close nearly 150 relatively low-volume towers to help meet its $600 million sequestration this fiscal year. Efforts to avert those closures reflect a pattern among GOP lawmakers to decry sequestration cuts in their own states and districts, but decline to support a sequestration replacement plan that includes higher revenue.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Yesterday’s Tri-City herald reported that Rep. “Doc” Hastings (R-WA) is criticizing DOE efforts to deal with sequestration cuts at Hanford, which are costing 235 of Hastings’ constituents their jobs this month and another 2,500 constituents will be forced to take weeks of unpaid leave by October.
► In today’s Washington Post — Dow 30 firms show declining tax burdens — Procter & Gamble, the company behind Pampers diapers and Tide detergent, reported a federal tax burden in 1969 that was 40% of its total profits, a typical rate in those days. Today, P&G is a very different company, with operations that span the globe. It also reports paying a very different portion of its profits in federal taxes: 15%. The world’s biggest maker of consumer products isn’t the only one. Most of the 30 companies listed on the country’s most famous stock index, the Dow Jones industrial average, have seen a dramatically smaller percentage of their profits go to U.S. coffers over time, even as their share prices have driven the Dow to an all-time high.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Keep in mind that a core component of the latest Ryan budget approved by House Republicans — and supported by “Doc” Hastings and every other Republican from Washington state — is to lower corporate taxes even more.
► In today’s Washington Post — The AFL-CIO wants foreign workers paid more than native-born ones. Why? — Organized labor has proposed a tiered system that would ask employers to pay anywhere between 20% and 70% more to hire foreign workers, which includes both wage hikes and fees. ”Bringing in workers below median by definition lowers median wages for everyone,” says Jeff Hauser, an AFL-CIO spokesman who argues that the higher wages will benefit both native- and foreign-born workers. ”The greatest problem with the economy for more than a generation has been declining rather than raising wages.”
► In today’s NY Times — Justices weigh denying U.S. benefits to gay spouses — While Tuesday’s case, about California’s ban on same-sex marriage, has the potential to establish a constitutional right for gay and lesbian couples to marry, Wednesday’s case is comparatively modest: it asks whether married same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits.
► In today’s Washington Post — Federal benefits at stake in Supreme Court gay-marriage cases — After a string of victories in lower courts, federal workers who support same-sex marriage have said winning a DOMA case at the Supreme Court level is the last domino that has to fall before all federal agencies have to provide benefits to gay spouses.
► At AFL-CIO Now — AFT, Gates Foundation provide principles for teacher evaluation — The AFT and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have been working on finding a better way to evaluate and develop teachers, using research to determine the best ways to train teachers and ensure that students get the best educational experience possible.
► From AP — Supervalu to trim 1,100 jobs after selling five chains — Supervalu is eliminating about 1,100 positions nationwide, or about 3 percent of its workforce, less than a week after the supermarket operator completed the sale of five of its grocery chains, including Albertson’s, Jewel-Osco, Acme, Shaw’s and Star Market.
► From WSMV-TV — Actor Danny Glover backs effort to unionize Nissan plant — Actor and activist Danny Glover is traveling with the Mississippi Student Justice Alliance, which visited Nashville on Tuesday to mobilize support for workers in Nissan’s southeastern U.S. plants. The group claims plant employees who want to unionize are being intimidated.
► In today’s LA Times — An honor for Alice Rivlin roils Social Security faithful — Rivlin is a budget expert at the Brookings Institution whose willingness to promote “entitlement reform” (read: cut benefits) as a deficit nostrum has given her a reputation as a danger to Social Security and Medicare. So when Rivlin was named the ninth recipient of the annual Robert M. Ball Award for Outstanding Achievements in Social Insurance this week, Social Security advocates erupted in fury.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.