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Congestion’s cost, Amazon men, ‘bonus’ tax breaks…

Wednesday, December 3, 2014




crumbling-infrastructure► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — WSDOT: Freight congestion could cost Washington $3.3 billion, tens of thousands of jobs — The just-released Washington State Freight Plan, the most comprehensive Washington state has ever attempted, said that failure to improve conditions will lead to freight congestion, and that a 20 percent increase in congestion will cost the state more than 27,000 jobs and $3.3 billion.

► In today’s Olympian — Oil trains report is packed with recommendations for reducing public risks — The report, sent to the Legislature by the state Department of Ecology this week, includes recommendations for new regulatory authority, more safety inspectors, additional spill and prevention planning, and better training and equipment for first responders.

► In today’s News Tribune — Three nurses assaulted at Western State Hospital; calls renewed for more staff — Three nurses at Western State Hospital were assaulted last week by two patients, prompting renewed concerns about staffing cuts and safety precautions at the state hospital.

deloitte-doh► In today’s Seattle Times — Another glitch afflicts an estimated 6,000 health exchange customers — About 6,000 enrollments in health plans offered by the Washington Healthplanfinder insurance exchange were improperly canceled because of an error. “Early analysis indicates that our system integrator, Deloitte, ran an automated enrollment cancellation process in error,” said Richard Onizuka, CEO of the exchange.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Inslee names Bridges, Levinson to Public Disclosure Commission — The governor has appointed John Bridges and Anne Levinson, culminating a nearly yearlong search and giving the five-member commission a full contingent for the first time in Inslee’s tenure.

► In today’s Columbian — Sen. Ann Rivers announces candidacy for top county council spot — The La Center Republican says she will run for the chairperson position of the newly formed Clark County council. If elected, Rivers said, she anticipates continuing to work as a state senator. She referred to both jobs as being part time.




► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — At Puget Sound ports, shippers say slowdown damage is already done — Even if ports started up today at normal productivity business would still likely be lost, according to shippers in the industry… The ILWU’s labor contract expired on July 1. They have been working without a contract since. And now the ports are slower than normal. The union blames major changes in the industry, the PMA blames the union.

► In today’s News Tribune — Flight attendant base closure affects 264 jobs — United Airlines will layoff as many as 264 Seattle-based flight attendants because of declining market share at the airport.

► In today’s Columbian — Top PeaceHealth executive to retire in June — PeaceHealth, the Vancouver-based nonprofit, Catholic health system, said Tuesday that its president and chief mission officer, Alan Yordy, 62, will retire effective June 30, 2015.

jesusyordy-alan► A year ago in the Oregonian — That healing touch at PeaceHealth (by Steve Duin) — “I recognize,” writes PeaceHealth President Alan Yordy (who made $1.272 million last year, an increase of $237,000 over the previous year), “that (looming layoffs) will be very painful and difficult for all of us, especially those dedicated caregivers and their families whose positions will be eliminated.” I’m guessing Yordy and his executive team are talented folks. Worth every dime in salary and bonuses. And if you live near one of PeaceHealth’s nine hospitals, you’re rooting for the facilities to remain innovative, prosperous … and open in your hour of need. But when you slap Jesus Christ on your masthead, when you insist that your primary mission is to relieve pain and suffering and treat “each person in a loving and caring way,” how do you defend laying off employees while your execs continue to live high on the hog?

► In today’s Peninsula Daily News — Refunds coming to many Clallam County workers from 2011 concessionsThree years ago, nearly all county employees volunteered to pay an amount equal to their 2012 contractually guaranteed cost-of-living raise to the employer portion of their medical benefits. Workers also agreed to 16 unpaid furlough days in 2012 and 2013 in anticipation of costly murder trials. Full-time employees who volunteered concessions will receive a onetime payment averaging $1,500 to $1,600.

► In today’s Columbian — Clark County commissioners approve ‘austere’ budget — Clark County Budget Director Bob Stevens on Tuesday told commissioners the two-year budget before them provided “flexibility to react to changing circumstances.”




mad-men► In the NY Times — Amazon, unclear on diversity — Amazon, like most tech companies, is staffed and run mostly by white males. The company disclosed that its global work force is 63% male and 37% female. Its managers are 75% male and 25% female. In the U.S., Amazon’s work force is 60% white, 15% black, 13% Asian and 9% Hispanic. Its managers are 75% white and 18% Asian. Black, Hispanic and “other” more or less equally split the rest (about 2-3% each). Questions about diversity at tech companies have accelerated since March, when the Rainbow PUSH Coalition challenged the companies to reveal their racial and gender data.

► In today’s P.S. Business Journal — Rev. Jesse Jackson: Microsoft addresses diversity issues, Amazon ignores themJackson criticized Amazon for its lack of transparency. He said he has not been able to meet with Amazon on his tour. He said he was hopeful the company would eventually agree to meet with him to discuss changes that could bring more minorities into their ranks.

FROM TODAY’S CALENDAR — Rainbow PUSH and SEIU Local 6 join in urging Amazon to ensure that good, stable jobs are available to all Seattleites — including the security officers who protect Amazon’s facilities for Security Industry Specialists (SIS). Join the Rev. Jesse Jackson on Wednesday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. outside Amazon HQ, 440 Terry Ave N. in Seattle.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Rev. Jackson: Tech companies are ‘boycotting our talent’




► At Huffington Post — Strange bedfellows are blocking the McConnell-Obama trade deal — Obama has faced two domestic obstacles to enacting the Trans-Pacific Trade Partnership: Democrats in Congress, who worry it will exacerbate income inequality, and a bloc of House Republicans, who are up in arms about the deal’s implications for executive power and national sovereignty. Opposition from conservative hardliners has intensified since GOP gains in the midterm elections, even as McConnell has pledged to cut a deal with Obama on TPP as one of his first orders of business next year.

► In today’s NY Times — When corporations sue governments (by Manuel Pérez-Rocha) — The investor-state dispute settlement mechanism is like playing soccer on half the field. Corporations are free to sue, and nations must defend themselves at enormous cost — and the best a government can hope for is a scoreless game. As the T.T.I.P. and T.P.P. negotiations continue, Pacific Rim vs. El Salvador should remind us not to privilege foreign investors to the detriment of the national — or global — good.




► In The Hill — Congress closes in on tax break extension — Momentum is building for a one-year extension of a slew of expired tax breaks despite resistance from liberal Democrats in the Senate. The House is expected Wednesday to easily approve legislation worth $45 billion that would restore dozens of tax breaks that lapsed at the end of 2013 only through the end of the current year.

corporate-flag► In today’s NY Times — A costly and outrageous tax break (by David A. Super) — Individual taxpayers aren’t supposed to claim shady deductions on their taxes. But between 2008 and 2013, Congress allowed many business owners to do just that. This year congressional Republicans have tried to make this audacious dishonesty permanent, and a number of Democrats have gone along. This license to steal goes by the sunny moniker “bonus depreciation.” Shorn of its mind-numbing complexity, bonus depreciation allows a business to pretend that its buildings and equipment wear out far faster than they actually do. Republican senators insisted on including it in the 2008 fiscal stimulus to give businesses an incentive to accelerate their capital spending. The bonus-depreciation provision expired at the end of 2013, after several extensions. House Republicans, however, are fighting to revive it retroactively for the 2014 tax year and make it permanent. This makes no sense. By definition, retroactive tax cuts provide no incentive at all.

► In today’s NY Times — Uncertainty in Washington poses long list of economic perils — Republican leaders moved Tuesday to finesse their way around another government shutdown next week, but the fiscal gantlet extends well beyond Dec. 11, when the current stopgap spending law that funds much of the federal government expires.

► In The Hill — Sequester superhero at Defense? — He’s the “superhero of sequestration” (for helping lead the Pentagon as it put in place the $500 billion in mandatory spending cuts that will stretch over 10 years), a theoretical physicist and a favorite of Republicans on Capitol Hill. And soon, Ashton Carter is likely to be President Obama’s fourth secretary of Defense.

► In today’s NY Times — On immigration, a huge job ahead (editorial) — Getting the resources required to handle the millions of families navigating the immigration bureaucracy and justice system is the next crisis coming.




sf-golden-gate-fireworks-front► From Campaign for America’s Future — San Francisco breaks ground with retail worker ‘bill of rights’ law — San Francisco has shown the way to ending abusive scheduling practices and helping provide a more humane work environment — at least for workers inside city limits. The city’s Board of Supervisors has unanimously passed the “Retail Workers Bill of Rights.” This means that more than 40,000 people in 1,250 locations — almost half of all such workers in San Francisco — will have reliable work schedules.

ALSO TODAY at The Stand — S.F. leads the way on fair scheduling in retail

► At AFL-CIO Now — Put Union Plus discounts on your holiday shopping lists — Union Plus offers money-saving discounts and special deals exclusively for union families on laptops, wireless phones, union-made clothing, movies, car rentals and a lot more.


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