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Heroes respond, CMR’s ethics, privatization doesn’t work…

Tuesday, March 25, 2014




► In today’s Seattle Times — 14 dead; 176 reports of people missing in mile-wide mudslide — Rescuers Monday found six more bodies in a milewide swath of mud and debris that plunged from a Snohomish County hillside, as reports of those still missing jumped to 176. So far, 14 people have been confirmed dead. Search conditions are dismal… “in areas it’s like quicksand. Sometimes it takes five minutes to walk 40 or 50 feet and get our equipment over these berms,” said Travis Hots, chief of Snohomish County Fire Districts 21 and 22.

eh-mudslide-responders► In today’s (Everett) Herald — First responders: Fatigue, risks and sadness — The flag was at half staff Monday at the Oso Fire Station, a simple brick building that means so much. It was a gathering place for both helpers and family awaiting word of loved ones missing since Saturday’s mudslide. Chief Willy Harper said 30 to 40 people, from the department and volunteers, spent part of the day digging in the slide area. Inside the station, relatives of some of the missing waited out of sight of the many news crews.

► In today’s Seattle Times — In awe after Snohomish County mudslide; praise for the responders (editorial) — The herculean response by first responders, searching with dogs, hovercraft and airborne surveillance, has been admirable. Their job is complicated by a nightmarish scene, so destabilized that crews had to be pulled back as the slope appeared ready to shift. One firefighter said, “It’s much worse than everyone’s been saying.”




mcmorris-rodgers-L► In The Hill — Ethics board: ‘Substantial’ belief McMorris Rodgers misused funds — An independent congressional ethics board found “substantial reason” to believe Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.), the fourth-ranking House Republican, improperly used official funds for campaign activities. The full findings of the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE) were made public for the first time on Monday by the House Ethics Committee, which is extending its review of the allegations against her. The OCE also found McMorris Rodgers improperly combined taxpayer and campaign resources during her winning campaign to become chairwoman of the House Republican Conference in 2012.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Study: $15 wage floor would lift pay for 24% of Seattle workers — About 102,000 workers citywide earn below $15 an hour, says a UW study prepared for the city. If workers who now make between $15 and $18 an hour also got a pay raise to stay ahead of a higher minimum wage, the potential pool of affected people would jump to 136,000 — nearly a third of Seattle’s workforce.

► In the P.S. Business Journal — Washington taxi group sues to shut down Uber in Seattle — The Western Washington Taxicab Operators Association has filed a lawsuit against Uber Technologies, Inc. in King County Superior Court, saying the company that began a ride-sharing service last year in Seattle has an “unlawful and deceptive business practice which harms the economic interests of taxicab drivers.”

► In today’s Columbian — Ed Barnes to join county commissioner race — Retired labor leader Ed Barnes said Monday that he is joining the race to be appointed to the county commissioners’ seat being vacated by Steve Stuart, the board’s lone Democrat.




privatization-afscme► In The Nation — When the government outsources to private companies, inequality gets worse — Contracting out a service, like managing bridge tolls or a healthcare website, might make financial sense on paper for a state or local government. And certainly, the recession has produced real fiscal pressures on local policymakers. But the study’s analysis of patterns of contracting and privatization nationwide shows that in many cases, when officials turn to private firms to serve the public on the cheap, hidden costs surface eventually in the form of economic decline, mismanagement and poor quality of services. The benefits of this kind of “private-public partnership” largely accrue to contractors, while communities bears the costs of insufficient oversight and limited public control over the use taxpayer resources.

► In today’s Washington Post — The tea party and the minimum wage (The Plum Line by Greg Sargent) — Recent polls have shown that only tea party Republicans oppose the minimum wage hike, while non-tea party Republicans actually are in line with majorities of the American people, and support it. But the latter’s priorities just aren’t reflected to anywhere near the same degree by Congressional Republicans.

► At Salon — Truckers who haul for Costco and Forever 21 land victory against corporate crime — Truck drivers who haul goods from the Port of Los Angeles to companies including Costco and Forever 21 — part of a growing army of workers who aren’t considered “employees” under U.S. law — plan to announce a legal settlement they hope will help spur unionization.




ACA-signing► At Politico — The Affordable Care Act is working (by Phil Schilro) — It is now four years since the ACA was enacted. And in more than 30 years in government, I’ve never seen a law get so little recognition for doing so much good so quickly. The right measure of the ACA isn’t whether it avoids political controversy; it’s whether it makes America better by achieving its five most fundamental goals: expanding health-insurance coverage, lowering costs and promoting fiscal responsibility, increasing quality through innovation, protecting seniors and delivering peace of mind to American families by guaranteeing essential rights in dealing with insurance companies. By that standard the law is already a success. Health insurance has expanded. More than 5 million Americans have signed up for coverage through federal and state marketplaces; millions have been determined eligible for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program; and 3 million young adults gained insurance through their parents’ coverage.

► In The Hill — Study: States refusing Medicaid expansion would benefit the most — There are more than 15 million uninsured or underinsured people living below the poverty line in the 23 states that have refused to expand Medicaid under ObamaCare, according to a new study. Many of these states have among the highest rates of uninsured or underinsured people in the country.




► From Upworthy — 25 really engaging images about the minimum wage


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