Cycle of debt, sick customers, Flint Lives Matter…

Monday, February 22, 2016




► From PubliCola — Democrats demand accountability from Boeing — The state house Democrats introduced a legislative package Thursday to close five tax breaks — including one bill that would penalize Boeing if the local airplane titan didn’t meet the employment goals specified in the controversial $8.7 billion tax break legislators awarded the company in 2013.

ALSO at The Stand — Group of House Dems unveil corporate tax accountability plan

► In the Seattle Times — End the cycle of debt for indigent defendants (by Theresa Doyle) — As a society, we must ask whether high LFOs (court fees) make sense in terms of getting ex-offenders back into a productive life. Do excessive LFOs have unintended consequences that interfere with re-entry? The equity issue with LFOs is obvious. Poor defendants drag high LFO debt around like a ball and chain. Wealthier defendants can just write a check. Modest reforms to LFO law are being considered by the state Legislature right now. ESSHB 1390, sponsored by state Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland), recently passed unanimously in the House and is now awaiting a hearing in the Senate Law and Justice Committee. ESSHB 1390 would eliminate the current 12 percent interest rate on non-restitution LFOs, allow conversion of more LFOs to community restitution, provide due-process standards for using jail to collect LFOs, and prioritize payment of restitution to victims. Now is the time to address this issue that impacts so many lives and tarnishes our criminal justice system.

EDITOR’S NOTE — The WSLC strongly supports ESSHB 1390 and urges its advancement in the Senate. Click here for a fact sheet on the legislation.

► In the Seattle Times — Can Inslee, lawmakers improve Western State and broader mental-health system? — State lawmakers and Gov. Jay Inslee are finding that quickly improving and expanding the state’s mental-health system is no easy task. Despite earmarking millions of dollars to add beds and staff to the system last year, Inslee and legislators continue to confront a shortage of resources — and pressure from court orders to improve the treatment of some psychiatric patients.

► In the Kitsap Sun — Low pay and uneven training, but ‘paras’ filling classroom need — There’s been much talk about teachers’ salaries as legislators work on a plan to pay for the true cost of public education. Little is said in the media and around the water cooler about paraeducators, the classified employees who do everything from small-group tutoring to helping students with severe disabilities use the toilet. These school employees’ pay averages around $16 an hour, hardly a living wage.

► From PubliCola — GOP bill sets election year theme — The Senate GOP caucus went to the nuclear level this week in its accountability agenda against the state’s executive branch. The Republican-controlled Senate passed a bill 26-23 along partisan lines that would require the attorney general’s office to review every proposed state agency regulation for its constitutionality, and would automatically kill each new executive branch regulation if the legislature does not approve it within a year.




► In today’s Bellingham Herald — Haggen auction moved to March 11 — Once again, the auction of Haggen’s core stores has been postponed. The auction is being rescheduled for Friday, March 11. The court document did not elaborate on why the auction was postponed.

► In the Olympian — Group Health, Kaiser merger is good overall (editorial) — The proposed merger of Group Health Cooperative into the larger Kaiser Permanente health-care chain based in California looks like a deal that could help patients, doctors and the communities they serve.

ALSO at The Stand — SEIU 1199NW nurses at Group Health endorse Kaiser deal




► From BuzzFeed — No sick leave at restaurants means more sick customers — The lack of paid leave in an industry largely staffed by low-income workers creates a dangerous incentive. In a nationwide survey of 4,323 restaurant workers conducted by the Restaurant Opportunities Center, a worker advocacy group, two out of three workers reported cooking, preparing, and serving food while sick. The consequences are dire, and expensive.

EDITOR’S NOTE — We can change this in Washington state. Volunteer to collect signatures for Initiative 1433, which would allow all workers in Washington to earn paid sick leave plus raise the state minimum wage incrementally to $13.50. Get more information, or go ahead and sign up to volunteer!




► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Excellent candidate’ or ‘clown’? Conflicting views on Trump at Wash. GOP caucuses — Donald Trump may have emerged as the GOP presidential front-runner, but Republicans meeting Saturday for local precinct caucuses in Washington state had vastly conflicting views on the tough-talking New York real-estate mogul.

MORE state GOP caucus coverage in the Columbian, (Longview) Daily News, News Tribune, and the Spokesman-Review.

► In today’s NY Times — Delegate count leaving Bernie Sanders with steep climb — Hillary Clinton has 502 delegates to Sanders’s 70; 2,383 are needed to win the nomination. These numbers include delegates won in state contests and superdelegates, who can support any candidate. She is likely to win a delegate jackpot from the overwhelmingly black and Hispanic areas in the Southern-dominated Super Tuesday primaries on March 1, when 11 states will vote and about 880 delegates will be awarded.

► From Think Progress — NLRB sides with Trump hotel workers in union battle — Just days before Nevada’s Republican presidential caucus, a federal labor official weighed in on the ongoing dispute between Donald Trump’s signature luxury Las Vegas hotel and the hundreds of workers who voted in December to unionize. Trump Hotel management had asked the NLRB to throw out the results of that election, claiming that organizers intimidated and coerced employees into voting yes. But after weeks of reviewing the evidence, the labor board did not agree. Hearing Officer Lisa Dunn announced: “I recommend that the Employer’s objections be overruled in their entirety.”

► In today’s NY Times — Cranks on top (by Paul Krugman) — Marco Rubio’s consolidation of establishment support isn’t a testament to his good sense. In fact, it’s almost the opposite, a reward for his willingness to echo party orthodoxy even, or perhaps especially, when it’s nonsense. So don’t let anyone tell you that the Republican primary is a fight between a crazy guy and someone reasonable. It’s idiosyncratic, self-invented crankery versus establishment-approved crankery, and it’s not at all clear which is worse.




► In the NY Times — Trump targets free trade, and GOP follows suit — Any doubts that Donald Trump has had a huge influence on the Republican Party were dispelled this month when Senator Rob Portman came out against the Trans-Pacific Partnership. There is no more respected member of what’s called the Republican establishment: Senator Portman, an Ohio lawmaker, is a confidant of the Bush family, a runner-up vice-presidential pick in 2012 and a former United States trade representative. But Portman is up for re-election, and Trump has changed the dynamics of the trade debate. Portman voted last year to give President Obama fast-track negotiating authority to pave the way to push the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress. But this month Portman said he was opposed to the agreement.




► From The Hill — Conservatives: Court nominee must be stopped at all costs — They argue the ideological balance of the court is so important that it’s not worth playing political games to take the pressure off vulnerable Republican incumbents. “I would rank having a conservative justice as more important than having the majority in the Senate,” said David Bozell, president of For America, a conservative advocacy group. “God knows this Republican majority in the Senate hasn’t done much anyway for conservatism, period.”

► From TPM — Supreme Court snub is ultimate delegitimization of first black president — In the blatant declaration that Obama should not even put forward a new Supreme Court nominee to fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, Republicans are continuing to delegitimize a president that they have long sought to undercut. Many observers view the Supreme Court emerging drama in the Senate as the pinnacle of the drawn out, deep-seated and racially tinged effort to block America’s first black president from leaving a lasting legacy on the country that elected him twice.




► From Quartz — Uber is using its U.S. customer service reps to deliver its anti-union message — Last month, a group of Uber customer service representatives in the US received a script unlike any they’d seen before. For the most part, it was a survey on driver satisfaction, but at the end it switched to another topic: why a union wouldn’t make sense for drivers. Uber’s customer service reps were told they’d be using the script when contacting the company’s drivers in Seattle.

ALSO TODAY in The Stand — Uber deactivates Seattle-area driver who supports unionization

► In Sunday’s NY Times — Uber drivers up against the app — Hundreds of the independent contractors, incensed over the ride-hailing service’s recent fare reduction, are attempting to organize and force the company to address their concerns.

► From Think Progress — This Yelp employee wrote a letter ro her CEO about low pay. then they fired her. — Less than two hours after writing an open letter to Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman complaining about low pay, customer service representative Talia Jane learned she was fired.

EDITOR’S NOTE — If you want fair wages and benefits — and respect — on the job, organize a union and get a contract! Learn more about how.




► In the U.S. News and World Report — Flint: The consequences of partisanship (by Richard Trumka and Ron Bieber) — It’s time for action for Flint. Unions and our community allies have selflessly stepped forward to help residents. Members of the UAW, the Laborers, the UFCW and the Carpenters union are delivering water by the truckload. Hundreds of members of the United Association of Plumbers have volunteered for weeks to install faucets and water filters in Flint, free of charge. The Michigan Nurses Association has a program to educate the public about lead poisoning, and along with AFSCME and SEIU, they helped pay for four buses so Flint residents could travel to Washington, D.C. to attend hearings on the crisis in Congress.

Congress needs to listen to those residents and act swiftly on their behalf. Beyond immediate, emergency infrastructure funding, Congressional leaders can and must fully fund long-term services for families and children who have been exposed to lead poisoning… It is time for Republicans to stop the delay tactics and join Democrats in passing both short-term fixes and long-term solutions. The safety of our children should not be a partisan issue.


The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.

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