Friday, July 11, 2014
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Spokane VA hospital director owes us answers (by Shawn Vestal) — Why does the Spokane VA hospital have one of the longest waiting lists in the nation? No good answer to that and other questions is coming from the administration of Director Linda Reynolds at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center. It ought to embarrass Reynolds, as someone who is ostensibly accountable to the public whose payroll she dwells on. This is not just a reporter’s lament. Reynolds and the Spokane VA hospital owe veterans and the public more. Instead, one gets the sense of frantic and manipulative responses to basic questions. Employees report similar complaints. In May, both of the major unions at the hospital said they had lost trust and confidence in Reynolds’ administration and called for “new leadership with accountability.”
► At PubliCola — Unions ask to separate pre-K funding measures — Proponents of I-107, the SEIU 925-backed measure to boost training and pay for early education workers in Seattle, sent a letter to city attorney Pete Holmes asking him to untangle it from another early education measure on the November ballot: the city’s own pre-K funding measure.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Shipping line heads to Tacoma from Seattle in ports’ joint effort — The announcement was made jointly by the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, part of a new effort to work cooperatively. Westwood is moving back to Tacoma because of the shutdown of Seattle’s Terminal 5 for remodeling.
► In Roll Call — Uncertain future in next week’s Highway Trust Fund extension vote — It all depends on the reception to the new House GOP proposal, already being met with some skepticism from key lawmakers and influential outside groups. Their plan would raise roughly $6.4 billion from “pension smoothing,” an accounting practice that lets companies with defined-benefit retirement plans assume higher interest rates when calculating how much money they need to contribute for their employees’ retirement. That reduces their required contributions into the plans and, in turn, raises the amount of taxes they owe, bringing new revenue to the federal government.
EDITOR’S NOTE — In plain English, Republicans want to let corporations with pensions pay less into those funds so some of that money can go to the government to pay for roads.
► At CNN Money — Uninsured rate plummets under Obamacare — The number of Americans lacking health insurance has plummeted this year, a trio of surveys released Thursday found. The Urban Institute says the uninsured rate fell to 13.9% in June, down from 17.4% at the end of last year. Some 8 million adults gained coverage. Gallup says the percentage of Americans lacking health coverage fell to 13.4% in the second quarter. And the Commonwealth Fund says about 9.5 million fewer adults were uninsured, led mainly by young adults age 19 to 34, who saw their uninsured rate drop to 18%, from 28%.
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — ACA working, its users happy (but not GOP)
► In today’s NY Times — Republicans push back on approving border funds — Congressional Republicans signal that the expect concessions in exchange for the nearly $4 billion the president has requested to help stem the surge of young migrants from Central America to Texas and to deal with the humanitarian crisis there. At the very least they planned to amend a 2008 law signed by President George W. Bush that affords migrant children from Central American countries extra legal protections when they cross the border.
► At TPM — Judge rules Florida illegally redrew districts to benefit GOP — A circuit court judge ruled late Thursday that the Florida legislature illegally redrew the state’s congressional districts in 2012 to benefit Republicans.
► At Think Progress — The majority of small business owners support a $10.10 minimum wage — In a new national poll, 61 percent of small business owners with under 100 employees say they support gradually increasing the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. They supported increasing the wage, which has stayed at $7.25 an hour for five years, to $10.10 over two and a half years, and then letting it automatically rise as inflation rises. Just 35 percent opposed this proposal. The largest share of poll respondents identified as Republicans.
► In today’s Oregonian — Amazon, Postal Service partnership points in the right direction (editorial) — The United States Postal Service in recent weeks started delivering Amazon packages on Sundays and holidays in Portland and Seattle. The deliveries were made possible by a contract signed last fall, expanding a service already available in a handful of other cities. By establishing the partnership with Amazon, the Postal Service is playing offense and seeking new revenue instead of simply adopting a defensive posture and looking for ways to cut service.
► In today’s LA Times — Teachers union to rally in L.A. against loss of job protections — The American Federation of Teachers, at its national convention, will vote on a resolution that condemns the motivation behind Vergara v. California as well as Harris v. Quinn, in which the U.S. Supreme Court limited the right of unions to collect dues from non-members who are represented by unions in contract negotiations.
► At MSNBC — Port truckers’ strike sends ripples through labor world — In terms of sheer numbers, the Port of Los Angeles truckers’ strike is not a major action. Only about 120 drivers walked off the job on Monday, when the strike began. Yet in terms of significance to the labor movement, this small workplace disruption is a national event.
► From AP — Burberry investors revolt over CEO pay deal — Shareholders of luxury British fashion house Burberry have voted to reject a multimillion-pound pay package for the brand’s new chief. Friday’s vote was non-binding but it was a rare revolt by shareholders over executive salaries.
EDITOR’S NOTE — One hopes this will start happening soon in America, too. Otherwise, pass me a pitchfork.
► The Entire Staff of The Stand™ can count on one two-fingered hand the number of pop divas whose new albums we will buy sound-unheard: Robyn and Sia. The latter is an Aussie who has written several big hits for other artists, but her latest single “Chandelier” is her first to make the U.S. Top 40 as a solo artist. Her new album, 1,000 Forms of Fear, was released this week and features several songs as good or better than this one. These days, Sia is only performing on TV with her back to the audience — to avoid the pitfalls of modern fame, she says — but we don’t mind. It’s enough just to listen to her amazing voice while watching some joyful dancing. Enjoy.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.