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R.I.P. Rep. Freeman, no Fast Track, our GOP president…

Thursday, October 30, 2014




► From Reuters — NLRB dismisses last complaints from Machinists’ contract vote — The Seattle NLRB office said it had received about 20 complaints stating Boeing had threatened workers in Washington state and engaged in unlawful bargaining by saying it would locate production of a forthcoming aircraft elsewhere unless they signed a contract extension that froze their pensions. “We found that the evidence was insufficient that Boeing made any unlawful threats or that their bargaining proposals were unlawful,” Ron Hooks, director of the NLRB Region 19 office, told Reuters.




freeman-roger-dies► In today’s Seattle Times — Federal Way State Rep. Roger Freeman dies at 48 — Rep. Roger Freeman (D-Federal Way) died Wednesday at Franciscan Medical Clinic at St. Francis in his hometown. He had been diagnosed with colon cancer in March 2013. Rep. Freeman, a public defender and former Federal Way City Council member, had founded in Federal Way the Coalition to End Truancy to keep students from dropping out.

PREVIOUSLY at The Stand — HB 1313: Sick and safe leave is a lifeline for workers (by Rep. Roger Freeman, Feb. 27, 2014) — Fighting cancer means treatment and surgery.  Lots of doctor’s appointments. Lots of time off work. As the sole breadwinner for my wife and two children I wondered, with all my time at the hospital and in recovery, how will we pay for basics like groceries and our mortgage? How will we not lose everything?

I am one of the lucky ones. I have paid sick leave. I was able to make all my appointments. I was able to put my energy and effort into fighting my illness, not worrying if my family would lose our home. But there are one million Washingtonians who have no paid sick leave. When they get sick, they must choose between getting a paycheck and getting well.  If their child is sick they must choose between staying home to care for the child and making sure there is food on the table at the end of the month.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Small businesses can now enroll in ACA plans statewide — Small businesses throughout Washington — those with 50 or fewer employees — can now shop for and enroll in health insurance plans through the state’s insurance exchange. Some businesses using the exchange, called Washington Healthplanfinder Business, will be eligible for federal tax breaks, depending on the number of employees and their salaries.

► In today’s News Tribune — State Ecology expects full house for open meeting on oil-by-rail safety Thursday evening in Olympia — The 5 p.m. event at the Red Lion hotel includes exhibits, experts on oil spill response and a public comment period that may draw 600 environmental advocates.

► At — Poll: Washington state headed in right direction, Congress going downhill — Washington is a state that remains bullish about itself in troubled times, but its citizens worry that forces are changing America “for the worse” and don’t like gridlock in the “other” Washington, in findings of the new statewide KCTS-9 Washington Poll… 53% of those in the Puget Sound area say “yes” to a $15-an-hour minimum wage, with 42.6% opposed. Go east of the “Cascade Curtain,” however, and support and support drops to 44.7%. Opposition climbs to 53%. The rest of Western Washington is evenly split.




► At KPLU — With McCleary mandate looming, will class-size initiative help or hurt? — Some fear Initiative 1351 will complicate legislators’ task of meeting a state Supreme Court order to pump another $2 billion into the state’s K-12 budget. The argument exasperates I-1351 sponsor Mary Howes, who says spending significant sums on reducing class sizes ought to be a critical piece of ensuring lawmakers ensure basic education is adequately funded, as the high court required in its McCleary decision.

reichert-naked-gun-confused► In today’s Seattle Times — Reichert says he’ll consider run for governor or Senate in ’16 — Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert says he’ll consider a 2016 challenge to Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, or maybe even a U.S. Senate bid. He gently fanned the rumors about his future political plans, saying “I have to keep my options open — that’s something I’ve done for my entire career.”

► In today’s NY Times — Latino support for Democrats drops a bit, poll says — With the immigration debate frozen, support for Democrats among Latinos has declined slightly going into the midterm elections next week, but they still heavily favor Democrats over Republicans, according to a national bilingual poll by the Pew Research Center.

► In today’s NY Times — Why polls tend to undercount Democrats — As Election Day nears, Democratic hopes increasingly hinge on the possibility that the polls will simply prove wrong. But that possibility is not far-fetched. The polls have generally underestimated Democrats in recent years, and there are reasons to think it could happen again.

► In The Hill — Civil war looms for GOP — Conservatives salivating over the prospects of a huge victory on Nov. 4 are pressuring House and Senate GOP leaders to go big after Election Day. Says one GOP aide: “They want to see a real fight on ObamaCare repeal and tax reform that takes a blow torch to the tax code. They want to see real entitlement reform, not empty talk.”

EDITOR’S NOTE — To be clear, “entitlement reform” means cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits, not corporate tax breaks or anything like that.




Seattle-chamber-conf-BNSF► In The Stranger — Using taxpayer money to go on a Chamber retreat during budget season — Five out of our nine Seattle City Council members suspended their budget work to attend a retreat at Suncadia Resort in Cle Elum, a 90-minute drive away from Seattle. Each paid $1,350 of taxpayer money to the retreat’s host, the Seattle Chamber of Commerce, in order to attend. Four of the five council members who attended the retreat received donations from the Chamber or its PAC this year, and the three members who didn’t go to the retreat did not… Some of these council members later claimed there were actually diverse voices represented at the conference, but it turned out there were no labor leaders at the resort to speak up for working people. Councilmember Kshama Sawant blew the whistle on the Chamber retreat, calling it “a clear display of brazen corporate favoritism” in a press release blast. If she hadn’t, it’s unlikely you’d be reading about it now.

Nadella-MS-karma► In today’s Seattle Times — Microsoft lays off 3,000 more; 638 of them in Puget Sound area — The cuts are part of the 18,000 jobs — representing 14% of the company’s worldwide workforce of 128,076 last July — that CEO Satya Nadella had said the company would eliminate over the course of the year.

► In today’s Columbian — State’s record apple crop not producing jobs — Even though packers are expanding facilities, building new lines and boxing up a record number of apples, the number of packing jobs has remained about steady over the past 10 years, according to state employment figures. “That’s because of automation,” said Mike Gempler, executive director of the Washington Growers League.




fast-track-public-citizen► In The Hill — No Fast Track in lame duck — Business groups have lost any hope that Congress will approve “fast-track” trade powers for President Obama in the lame-duck session of Congress. With scores of Democrats opposed and liberal interest groups flexing their muscles, business groups say it’s certain the legislation won’t move this year.

At AFL-CIO Now — ‘No to Fast Track’ campaign aims at returning lame ducks

► At AFL-CIO Now — U.S. government takes historic action to enforce labor rules in trade agreement with Guatemala — For the first time ever, the U.S. government announced that it will begin the formal consultations that are used to resolve trade disputes in the area of labor rights enforcement. The AFL-CIO welcomed the decision to ensure that the government of Guatemala will live up to the very basic commitments it made to effectively enforce its own labor laws.




► From AP — For-profit colleges face ‘gainful employment’ rule — For-profit colleges that don’t produce graduates capable of paying off their student loans could soon face the wrath of the federal government. Schools with career-oriented programs that fail to comply with the new rule announced Thursday by the Obama administration stand to lose access to federal student-aid programs.

► From AP — Health-care-overhaul doubts ease for insurers — The nation’s biggest health insurers entered last fall cautious about a major coverage expansion initiated by the health-care overhaul. But a year later, these challenges are starting to appear manageable, and investors see much less uncertainty ahead.

inmate-pirate-suit► At Think Progress — Inmate sues prison claiming his religious liberty entitles him to dress like a pirate — Stephen Cavanaugh’s complaint quotes The Gospel of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, which he identifies as one of his religion’s “holy texts.” After Hobby Lobby, it’s not entirely clear that he will lose.

► READ THIS in today’s Seattle Times — America, lost out of space (by Jon Talton) — In the brave new world of “space” exploration for profit, even the most remedial lessons are having to be relearned. I use space in quotation marks because the rocket by Orbital Sciences, carrying a satellite from Redmond-based Planetary Resources, was headed to the International Space Station in low-earth orbit. You know, where Yuri Gagarin went in 1961 and John Glenn followed a year later.




AC-Obama-Republican► In The American Conservative — Obama is a Republican (by Bruce Bartlett) — Obama has governed as a moderate conservative — essentially as what used to be called a liberal Republican before all such people disappeared from the GOP… Republicans would have us believe that their tight-fisted approach to spending is what brought down the deficit. But in fact, Obama has been very conservative, fiscally, since day one, to the consternation of his own party. Obama actually endorsed much deeper cuts in spending and the deficit than did the Republicans during the 2011 budget negotiations, but Republicans walked away…

Contrary to rants that Obama’s 2010 health reform is the most socialistic legislation in American history, the reality is that it is virtually textbook Republican health policy, with a pedigree from the Heritage Foundation and Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, among others… Despite Republican harping about Obama being anti-business, corporate profits and the stock market have risen to record levels during his administration. Even those progressives who defend Obama against critics on the left concede that he has bent over backward to protect corporate profits.

I don’t expect any conservatives to recognize the truth of Obama’s fundamental conservatism for at least a couple of decades — perhaps only after a real progressive presidency. In any case, today they are too invested in painting him as the devil incarnate in order to frighten grassroots Republicans into voting to keep Obama from confiscating all their guns, throwing them into FEMA re-education camps, and other nonsense that is believed by many Republicans. But just as they eventually came to appreciate Bill Clinton’s core conservatism, Republicans will someday see that Obama was no less conservative.


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