Our ‘fracture critical’ state, no waiver for labor, default politics…

Monday, September 16, 2013




► From AP — Dozens of Washington bridges have multiple red flags — Dozens of bridges in Washington state are both in disrepair and at risk of collapse if hit hard enough in the wrong place. An AP analysis identified about 50 bridges that are “structurally deficient” and “fracture critical.” A bridge is “structurally deficient” when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component is deemed in poor or worse. A bridge is deemed “fracture critical” when it doesn’t have redundant protections and is at risk of collapse if a single, vital component fails. The Skagit River bridge that collapsed in May was a fracture critical bridge, but it was actually not in disrepair like some of its peers.

ALSO at The Stand — Attend transportation forums to support funding package — All forums are from 6 to 9 p.m. the following dates/locations:

  • Tuesday, Sept. 17 in Bellevue — Stevenson Elementary School, 14220 NE 8th St.
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18 in Everett – Snohomish County, Robert Drewel Building, 3000 Rockefeller Ave., 6th floor
  • Monday, Sept. 23 in Wenatchee – Chelan County PUD Auditorium, 327 N Wenatchee Ave.
  • Tuesday, Sept. 24 in Yakima — Yakima Area Arboretum, Garden View Rm., 1401 Arboretum Dr.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 2 in Spokane — Greater Spokane Inc., 801 W. Riverside
  • Monday, Oct. 7 in Vancouver — Vancouver Community Library, Columbia Room, 901 C St.
  • Wednesday, Oct. 9 in Tacoma — Evergreen Tacoma Campus, Lyceum Hall, 1210 6th Ave.

► In the Olympian — Inslee increases pay for half of state cabinet members — Despite the state’s still-tight financial position, neither state Rep. J.T. Wilcox, a Yelm-area Republican who closely watches public employee pay for its impact on budgets, nor Greg Devereux, leader of the largest state employee union, criticized Inslee’s moves.




► In today’s News Tribune — Senate race fueled by funds from afar — Out-of-state money is a big part of the funding that has fueled about $400,000 worth of independent spending in the state Senate race with seven weeks to go. The candidates, Rep. Jan Angel and Sen. Nathan Schlicher, have spent slightly more but with a much larger share of their contributions coming from within Washington. The biggest players in the race from outside the Pacific Northwest include national Republican and Democratic groups, companies such as Altria Client Services and MillerCoors and, by far the largest contributor, California environmentalist Thomas Steyer.




► At Sound Progress — Why SeaTac’s Prop 1 is neither the ‘highest’ nor a ‘minimum wage’ initiative — Here’s the thing — it’s not a minimum wage, nor is it the highest wage requirement in the country. On the west coast that honor goes to Los Angeles’ airport where the living wage floor is set at $15.37 an hour (plus paid sick leave and minimum training requirements). Other airports have lower wage floors, but over twice as much paid time off than the 5 days proposed by SeaTac Proposition 1.

ALSO at The Stand — Endorse the Good Jobs Initiative in SeaTac

► In the (Longview) Daily News — Coal 101: What you need to know — Longview is about to take center stage in Lower Columbia area’s largest-ever battle between environmental protection and job growth, and both sides say the community’s future health and growth are at risk.

► In today’s Columbian — Hearings to begin on coal terminal — Cowlitz County, the state Department of Ecology and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are holding meetings to ask what should be considered in a broad environmental review of the Millennium Bulk Terminals-Longview LLC proposal. Similar meetings on another coal project last year drew thousands of people across the state. The Oct. 9 meeting at the Clark County Fairgrounds will have an open house from noon to 8 p.m. Oral comment will be accepted from 1 to 4 p.m. and from 5 to 8 p.m.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane will host forum on coal port — The coal terminal debate returns to Spokane on Sept. 25, when three government agencies will host a scoping meeting for an environmental impact statement on a proposed coal port at Longview on the Columbia River.

► In the Seattle Times — Railroads run deep in Northwest’s past, present — Rail moves almost any kind of cargo you can imagine. For BNSF, that includes Boeing fuselages and elephants for Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s Circus. The lines constitute a vital link in the intermodal system of world trade, where containers are moved from ships to trains to trucks. Being such big freight movers, it’s natural that railroads would be caught up in the debate over coal, as well as moving oil by train as the fracking boom takes off.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — State’s aerospace rivals to attend governor’s summit — Guess who’s coming to the Governor’s Aerospace Summit here next month? South Carolina. And Texas. And also Utah. Folks from three of Washington’s biggest competitors for Boeing business will discuss their states’ emergent aerospace industries and efforts to land work on the 777X and other programs.

► In today’s News Tribune — Tacoma school employees to get 2% raises — Teachers and other employees in Tacoma Public Schools will receive a 2% wage increase, following negotiations with school district employee unions and action last week by the Tacoma School Board.




► From AP — Employment gap between high, low earners is highest on record — Rates of unemployment for the lowest-income families — those earning less than $20,000 — have topped 21%, nearly matching the rate for all workers during the 1930s Great Depression. Meanwhile, U.S. households with income of more than $150,000 a year have an unemployment rate of 3.2%, a level traditionally defined as full employment.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — In Washington state, the rich really are getting richer — The number of Washington state households with more than $1 million in invested assets increased 21% to 148,333 between 2009 and 2012, a research firm reports.

► In today’s LA Times — Amid slow economic recovery, more Americans identify as ‘lower class’ — A small but surging share of Americans consider themselves ‘lower class,’ a surprise to some researchers and activists despite the bruising economy.

► And a related story in today’s Washington Post — GOP to vote on $30 billion in food stamp cuts — House Republicans are planning to vote soon on a bill that could push millions of people off food-aid programs that have expanded since the economic downturn, potentially burdening charities that help feed the hungry.




► In the Washington Post — Obama administration denies labor’s request for a health care waiver — The administration “does not see a legal way for individuals in multiemployer group health plans to receive individual market tax credits as well as the favorable tax treatment associated with employer-provided health insurance at the same time.” What the White House is willing to do is work with unions to convert their plans into qualified insurance plans that follow the rules of the marketplaces and so can qualify for subsidies in them. Some unions are looking into that idea, but they’re not necessarily happy about it. It means giving up the advantages they get by being associated with employers, and it will entail significant disruption for their members.

► In The Hill — Disapproval of ObamaCare reaches new high, poll finds

► From Public Citizen — Study: Trade deal would mean pay cut for 90% of Americans — The verdict is in: most U.S. workers would see wage losses as a result of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping U.S. “free trade” deal under negotiation with 11 Pacific Rim countries. That’s the conclusion of a report just released by the non-partisan Center for Economic and Policy Research.

► At — Best news for U.S. economy this year: Larry Summers drops out of Fed Chairman race — As Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz points out, few economists deserve more blame for the financial trainwreck of the last five years than Summers”

As a Treasury Department official during the Clinton administration, Mr. Summers supported banking deregulation, including the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act, which was pivotal in America’s financial crisis. His great ‘achievement’ as secretary of the Treasury, from 1999 to 2001, was passage of the law that ensured that derivatives would not be regulated — a decision that helped blow up the financial markets.




► In the NY Times — The annual Republican crisis (editorial) — The fiscal year is about to end, so the annual awakening of Tea Party Republicans in the House and Senate is about to begin. Most of the time they sit around and do virtually nothing but gripe (they have made the current Congress the least productive ever), but a new fiscal year finally gives them a chance to govern the only way they know how: by creating a false crisis in order to tear down a piece of the government. Republican extremists think they can get the Senate, and ultimately the president, to approve the defunding of the health law — Obama’s most important achievement — by threatening to harm the nation and the economy.

► In today’s Washington Post — Club for Growth takes on Obamacare, GOP from the right — The conservative campaign-finance machine has emerged as a proud sponsor of Capitol Hill gridlock. Now the group is advocating disruption on a grander scale, urging Republicans to wage what some in the party are calling a suicidal campaign to shut down the government unless President Obama agrees to defund his signature health initiative.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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