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87% for $15, Doc fail, Mahna Mahna…

Friday, March 21, 2014





► In The Nation — An 87 percent vote for $15-an-hour minimum wage — Political insiders and prognosticators at the national level were, barely a year ago, casting doubts on the question of whether proposing a great big hike in the federal minimum wage was smart politics. Polls have since confirmed that Americans from across the political and ideological spectrum are overwhelmingly in favor of a substantial increase in the minimum wage.

Now comes a powerful signal from Chicago. When voters in the city went to the polls to cast ballots in Tuesday’s statewide and local primary elections, thousands of them faced an economic question: Would they support a $15-an-hour minimum wage for large employers in the city? The results were overwhelming: 87 percent of voters were backing the $15-an-hour wage. Just 13 percent voted against the advisory referendum.




► From the Public News Service — New union members for Seattle Community College — SCC has become the fourth community or technical college in the state where employees in a variety of administrative roles have decided to bargain collectively for their wages and benefits. They’ll be part of AFT Washington, after a vote last week to form a union.

ALSO at The Stand — SCC exempt employees unionize with AFT

hastings-doc► At — The ‘colossal failure’ that helped Doc Hastings’ district (by Joel Connelly) — No Northwest congressman churned out more boilerplate press releases denouncing President Obama’s $787 billion economic stimulus program, enacted in 2009, than U.S. Rep. Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) It turns out, however, that Hastings’ district in Central Washington, where GOP politicians rail against government spending, received more benefit per citizen than any other place in America. A Brookings Institution panel reported Thursday that the stimulus spent $3,750 per constituent in the 4th CD, for a total of $2.678 billion dollars.

EDITOR’S NOTE — But alas, all colossal failures must come to an end…

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford river area could get biggest cut — About $71 million would be cut from the budget to perform environmental cleanup work along the Columbia River under the administration’s fiscal 2015 Hanford budget request. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and Rep. Doc Hastings said earlier this month that they were concerned that the administration’s proposal to Congress for Hanford funding was low.

► In today’s Seattle Times — One angle in NTSB investigation: how copter pilot balanced 2 jobs — Federal investigators trying to determine the cause of the fatal crash of a Seattle news helicopter said Thursday they will be examining the pilot’s recent history for factors that could contribute to fatigue. Investigators want to understand how pilot Gary Pfitzner, who died in the Tuesday crash, balanced his two jobs — early mornings in the helicopter followed by work as a technical analyst at Boeing.

► In the News Tribune — Anthony Abeyta (1927-2014) — Anthony (Tony) Abeyta, 87, passed away at his home in Bonney Lake on March 6. Tony is survived by his loving wife Judith of 44 years. He worked as a meat cutter for 27 years before becoming President of UFCW Local 81 for 14 years. A memorial service honoring Tony’s life will be held at Sacred Heart Church in Enumclaw on Wednesday, March 26 at 1 p.m.




schlicher-nathan-former-sen► At KUOW — Washington reports unprecedented drop in ER visits — A year after hospitals began discouraging Medicaid patients from making unnecessary emergency room visits, the results are promising. A new state report shows the number of unnecessary visits to ERs in Washington fell by 10 percent last year.  “A 10 percent reduction is almost unprecedented,” said Dr. Nathan Schlicher, an ER physician at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Tacoma. The drop translates to more than $33 million in cost savings. Schlicher worked with the state to change hospital practices and enforce the idea that emergency rooms are for emergencies.

benton-don-sen-current► In today’s Columbian — County weighs fee hikes to pay settlement — Don Benton, director of Clark County Environmental Services, plans to raise fees to pay off a costly settlement the county owes for violating the Clean Water Act. One of the proposals Benton has presented is to charge a $150,000 annual “litter fee” to daily newspapers that are produced and distributed in Clark County with a circulation of more than 28,500. Only The Columbian meets those parameters.




► In today’s LA Times — Newly merged American Airlines faces labor problems — The merger of American Airlines and US Airways was unusual when it was proposed last year because it seemed to have the support of all the major employee unions involved. But one of the biggest unions for US Airways (IAM) is threatening to strike, and the group now has the support of its union brothers and sisters from American Airlines.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — New aerospace manufacturer plans up to 150 jobs in Airway Heights — A sheet metal fabrication company based in Kent, announced that it will bring a new 150,000-square-foot plant to Airway Heights. Exotic Metals Forming Co. could employ up to 150 people once the plant is in operation.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Boeing cranking out more 737s in Renton (brief) — Boeing said it’s now increased its 737 production rate at its Renton manufacturing facility to 42 planes per month.




nyt-deportation► In today’s NY Times — Paying the price, 16 years later, for an illegal entry — While Josue Noe Sandoval-Perez, 41, was being deported back to his native Mexico, his family was clinging to hope at a rally in a Kansas City park. Holding signs, they argued that he had been in the country for 16 years, had no criminal record, paid taxes and was the primary breadwinner for his children — one an American citizen, the other an immigrant who is here legally. He was dropped off that night in Matamoros, a violence-ridden Mexican border town. When he called his wife from outside a bus station to tell her what happened, gunshots could be heard. His case previews the difficulties President Obama will face in a review he ordered last week, asking the Homeland Security secretary to come up with a more “humane” deportation policy.

► In today’s News Tribune — Rep. Adam Smith speaks with detainees amid hunger strike at Tacoma immigration center — A Washington congressman visited detainees Thursday who recently took part in a hunger strike to protest conditions at the federal immigration detention center in Tacoma.




boehner-john► In the New Republic — John Boehner’s ridiculous excuse for blocking the unemployment benefits deal — After nearly three months of fighting, Senate Democrats and Senate Republicans came to an agreement last week to extend unemployment benefits. On Wednesday, House Speaker John Boehner shot down the deal on the grounds that it doesn’t help create jobs — which is ironic, given that his party hasn’t offered a serious jobs agenda since the financial crisis.

► In today’s NY Times — Koch group, spending freely, hones attack on government — Americans for Prosperity, backed by the Koch brothers, is using a data-driven approach as it pursues its overarching goal of changing the way voters think about government.

► In today’s NY Times — Suppressing the vote (editorial) — A misguided federal court ruling opens the door to more anti-voting laws.

► In today’s NY Times — The timidity trap (by Paul Krugman) — Policy makers have good ideas in principle for tackling terrible economic conditions, yet they consistently go for half-measures in practice and kill all hope.




► In today’s NY Times — A livelihood in nuclear waste, under threat — The Waste Isolation Pilot Plant, the nation’s only permanent underground repository for nuclear weapons waste, revived Carlsbad, N.M. But it has been closed since a leak. Rick Fuentes, president of the local USW chapter that represents several hundred employees here, said the longer the facility remained closed, the more people worried.

MLS-referee-lockout-ends► At AFL-CIO Now — Major League Soccer referee lockout ends with 5-year pact — The lockout of referees by Major League Soccer (MLS) and the Professional Referee Organization (PRO) ended Thursday after the first two weekends of games when PRO and the Professional Soccer Referees Association (PSRA) agreed on a five-year labor contract. On March 7, PRO locked out the referees before the beginning of the new season and used replacement officials.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Hip-hop star Common to perform in support of Nissan workers — He is performing as part of a free show in support of workers who are organizing for a voice on the job at the Nissan plant in Canton, Miss. The workers are pushing for a vote to organize as part of the UAW. Common will be joined on stage by actor Danny Glover and local musicians and leaders.

► In today’s Washington Post — Income inequality isn’t about the rich — it’s about the rest of us (by Catherine Rampell) — Populist rhetoric is leaving U.S. billionaires feeling persecuted, vilified and begrudged their hard-won fortunes. But it’s not the growing wealth of the wealthy that Americans are angry about. It’s the growing wealth of the wealthy set against the stagnation or deterioration of living standards for everyone else.




► In honor of today’s opening of Muppets Most Wanted, the Entire Staff of The Stand presents the Muppets’ classic performance of “Mahna Mahna,” a song that made its first appearance in 1968 in a Swedish film about weird sexual behavior in that country.

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

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