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Roads to ruin, class size matters, dumb politics…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014




st-crumbling-roads► In today’s Seattle Times — Prop 1 tax vote not just about buses — By now, you’ve likely heard that King County bus service would be slashed unless voters approve Proposition 1, a combined sales- tax and car-tab fee increase on this month’s ballot. What’s not as well-known is that the package includes a large sum of money to sustain roads. About 40 percent of the revenues, or $51 million next year, is earmarked for city and county street departments, based on population. That money could be spent a variety of ways — from sealing damaged blacktop, to redecking old streets, to building sidewalks, to squeezing in bus lanes.


► In today’s News Tribune — City Council could eliminate Tacoma pay targets — The Tacoma City Council today may change the city’s philosophy on how it compensates its employees.

► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Report reveals details on death at Providence St. Peter rehab clinic — One question raised by the document is whether staffing shortages may have been involved in events leading up to the death of the rehab patient. According to a previous PSBJ report, a physician told investigators that with only two nurses for 40 patients, the patients are required to come to the nursing desk for vital signs.




class-size-cartoon► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Backers of smaller class size work on ballot measure — On Monday, a group of parents, civic leaders and members of the state’s powerful teacher union began gathering signatures for an initiative requiring fewer numbers of students in classrooms for every grade level by 2019. And supporters think they drafted a ballot measure lawmakers can’t ignore — as they mostly did when Initiative 728 was approved in 2000 — without risking a run-in with the state Supreme Court.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing plans fast start to 777X buildings in Everett — Boeing has submitted the initial land-use application for its new 777X composite-wing facility in Everett and will also build a separate new assembly bay for the plane. Boeing proposes to begin demolition of existing office buildings next month.

► In the (Everett) Herald — Boeing to shut California plant 3 months earlier than expected — Boeing plans to stop production of C-17 cargo jets at the company’s Long Beach, Calif., plant in mid-2015, three months earlier than it previously anticipated. About 2,200 employees support the program. The company already began workforce reductions this year and plans to continue the cuts through closure.




AFL-renewUI-call-in► At AFL-CIO Now — Senate OKs jobless benefits renewal; tell House to do the same — More than three months after House Republicans leaders allowed the Emergency Unemployment Compensation benefits program to expire, nearly 2.8 million jobless workers have lost their economic lifeline. Monday, the U.S. Senate gave those workers a ray of hope when it passed (59-38) a bill reviving the program for long-term jobless workers. Now it is up to the House to keep that hope alive.

► At AFL-CIO Now — Obama signs order strengthening equal pay rules — President Obama will issue an executive order today that will apply some provisions of the Paycheck Fairness Act to federal contractors. The order will be signed at a White House ceremony marking Equal Pay Day, which signifies how far a woman must work into 2014 to earn the same as a man did in 2013 alone.

► In today’s Washington Post — Paycheck Fairness Act has failed twice. Will third time be a charm? — This bill would make it illegal for employers to retaliate against a worker who inquires about or discloses their wages or the wages of another employee in a complaint or investigation. It also makes employers liable to civil actions.

► In today’s NY Times — As Obama spotlights gender gap in wages, his own payroll draws scrutiny — President Obama on Tuesday will call attention to what he has said is an “embarrassment” in America: the fact that women make, on average, only 77 cents for every dollar that a man earns. But his critics say that female White House staff members fare only slightly better, making on average 88 cents for every dollar a male staff member earns.

► At Huffington Post — Obamacare: First fruits for workers? (by Dean Baker) — There is evidence that the Affordable Care Act may be providing security to workers they did not previously have. By allowing people to get health insurance through the exchanges, workers no longer feel tied to their jobs. Due to the ACA, workers who have jobs they dislike can quit and look for a better job without worrying about losing insurance coverage.




► From KPLU — NCAA boss Emmert: Player unionization ‘grossly inappropriate’ — NCAA President Mark Emmert, a former president of the University of Washington, called an effort to unionize players a “grossly inappropriate” way to solve problems in college sports while insisting the association has plans to change the school-athlete relationship.

EDITOR’S NOTE — When he was at UW, Mark Emmert was the 2nd highest paid university president in the nation while his school was jacking tuition by 14% a year. When he took over at the NCAA, he got a $1.7 million salary, 46% more than his predecessor. Now, uncompensated college athletes want to form a union to help them address their safety concerns that have gone ignored by the multi-billion dollar “non-profit” NCAA. And Boss Emmert calls THAT “grossly inappropriate.”




dumb-and-dumber► At — How politics makes us stupid (by Ezra Klein) — Yale Law professor Dan Kahan calls the theory Identity-Protective Cognition: “As a way of avoiding dissonance and estrangement from valued groups, individuals subconsciously resist factual information that threatens their defining values.” The most important psychological imperative most of us have in a given day is protecting our idea of who we are, and our relationships with the people we trust and love. Anyone who has ever found themselves in an angry argument with their political or social circle will know how threatening it feels. For a lot of people, being “right” just isn’t worth picking a bitter fight with the people they care about. That’s particularly true in a place like Washington, where social circles and professional lives are often organized around people’s politics, and the boundaries of what those tribes believe are getting sharper… The problem, of course, is that these people are also affecting, and in some cases controlling, the levers of government. And this, Kahan says, is where identity-protective cognition gets dangerous. What’s sensible for individuals can be deadly for groups.





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