Monday, April 11, 2016
WHAT’D WE MISS?
The Entire Staff of The Stand was away last week, but fortunately it appears that only one thing happened each day while we were gone. Let’s review before taking a look at today’s news:
► Monday in the News Tribune — Charter-schools fix will become law in Washington without governor’s signature — In a letter explaining his decision, Gov. Jay Inslee said he remains concerned about whether there will be adequate public oversight of charter schools, but said he doesn’t want to see the schools shut down:
“I am not interested in closing schools in a manner that disrupts the education of hundreds of students and their affected families… Despite my deep reservations about the weakness of the taxpayer accountability provisions, I will not close schools.”
► Tuesday from AFL-CIO Now — Victory in New York: New law raises minimum wage to $15 and provides paid family leave — The unified efforts of 2.5 million working people and the 3,000 local unions of the New York State AFL-CIO lead to a major victory, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) signed a law raising the state’s minimum wage. Millions will see wage increases. Future wage increases will be tied to economic indicators. The law also establishes a robust 12 weeks of paid family leave for working people.
► Wednesday from BuzzFeed — Coal CEO jailed for one year over mine explosion that killed 29 — Don Blankenship, former chief executive of Massey Energy, was sentenced to one year in prison for conspiring to willfully violate mine safety standards at a West Virginia mine where 29 men were killed in an underground explosion in 2010.
► Thursday in the Seattle Times — Washington House Democrats sign letter opposing Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal — The letter is addressed to Washington’s U.S. congressional delegation and urges them to vote against the deal if it comes before Congress. Signed by 23 state representatives, the letter argues “the TPP seriously compromises the ability of the Washington Legislature to enact and enforce statutes that bolster our local economy, guard our public health and safety, and protect our natural resources.”
► Friday from ABC Radio News — John Legend joins AFL-CIO in effort to reduce prison population— John Legend has consistently spoken out about the problems of the criminal justice system, and now he’s joining labor unions in his campaign to reduce the prison population. The ten-time Grammy Award winner traveled to the Washington Correction Center for Women in Gig Harbor, WA, with leaders from the AFL-CIO to witness the issues facing inmates and prison workers. “The AFL-CIO has tens of thousands of members whose lives are directly impacted by the prison industrial complex,” Legend said. “Many work ‘inside’ the prison system as guards, where they too, are serving a kind of time, daily affected by our inhuman, often unsafe prison conditions.”
ALSO TODAY at The Stand — Mass employment, not mass incarceration (by Jeff Johnson)
PLUS from AFL-CIO Now — Let’s get serious about mass incarceration
► In the P.S. Business Journal — Sea-Tac to consider replacing TSA with private security contractors — The Port of Seattle is considering replacing the Transportation Security Administration screening at Sea-Tac Airport with private security contractors. While no decisions have been made yet about getting rid of the TSA, Port of Seattle spokesman Perry Cooper said the commissioners are exploring many options that could bring down the wait times. Cooper said TSA staffing is really at the root of the problem, which is something the port can’t control.
► In the Yakima H-R — Yakima May Day march to stretch 27 miles this year — Marchers plan to travel 27 miles on the 10th anniversary of Yakima’s first May Day march, an annual event to attract attention to the plight of low-wage workers and immigrants. The march on May 1 will also commemorate the 30th anniversary of a similar march from Granger to Yakima in 1986 led by farm worker rights pioneer Cesar Chavez. This year’s rally will start at the Radio KDNA offices in Granger and end in Union Gap at Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary School, organizers said.
► From KPLU — Enviros say ‘fat lady about to sing’ on Gateway Pacific export terminal near Bellingham — The next few months will be crucial in determining whether the West Coast serves as a gateway to the Pacific Rim for U.S. exports of fossil fuels. Anti-coal- and oil-train activists say their work, combined with global economic realities, is pointing increasingly toward a future free from energy exports that move through Northwest ports.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Seattle sees biggest jump in bus riders of any U.S. city — Bus ridership has increased more here than in any other major American city; Seattle is now the second most bus-reliant metropolis, after San Francisco.
► In the News Tribune — Teachers union, others to sue state over new charter school law — The Washington Education Association announced its intention Thursday night to file a lawsuit over the state’s amended charter school law. Other groups that oppose charter schools will also be involved in the suit.
► In the Spokesman-Review — Charter school celebrations are premature (by Jim Camden) — Opponents all along have questioned the legislative legerdemain of getting around a state Supreme Court ruling that said paying for charter schools out the general fund was constitutional no-no. The new law pays for them out of lottery money… then replenishes that account from the general fund.
► In the News Tribune — School districts plan for cuts due to Legislature’s inaction on ‘levy cliff’ — School district officials say they can’t be certain the Legislature will follow through with their promises, leaving them budgeting for millions in budget cuts next year anyway. They face the possibility of not being able to collect the full amount of maintenance and operation levies already approved by voters.
► In the (Everett) Herald — State relies on an unfair, insufficient tax system (editorial) — A recent comparison of the tax systems of Idaho, Oregon and the Evergreen State is raising questions about basic tax fairness and the state’s ability to meet its obligations, particularly to public education… A state with the economic vitality we enjoy shouldn’t be struggling to meet its obligations, particularly in its paramount duty to students.
► In today’s News Tribune — Say no to show trial and end prison investigations (editorial) — It seems everyone but Senate Republicans recognize the season for reviewing this scandal has passed; the time for fixing the prison system, and following through with vigilance, has arrived. Staging a show trial amounts to little more than political posturing and poking at bureaucratic corpses.
► From the Washington Post — Leaked documents show strong business support for raising the minimum wage — The survey of 1,000 business executives across the country was conducted by the firm run by Republican pollster Frank Luntz, and obtained by a liberal watchdog group. Among the most interesting findings: 80 percent of respondents said they supported raising their state’s minimum wage, while only eight percent opposed it.
► From The Guardian — Fight for $15: Meet the enfant terrible who turned minimum wage into a national battle — As Seattle’s most visible labor leader, SEIU 775 President David Rolf gets a lot of credit for the movement’s victories; some say too much. But Rolf is quick to say that many others in Seattle’s thriving progressive community were key to those successes: the United Food and Commercial Workers, the Teamsters, OneAmerica (an immigrant advocacy group), Casa Latina, Moms Rising, the city and state labor council, and Kshama Sawant, a Socialist City Council member.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Long overdue DOL rule will protect retirement investors — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “We applaud the Department of Labor for getting the fiduciary rule over the finish line after a long and thorough rule-making process that took into account a multitude of stakeholders’ interests.”
► From Politico — Cuts to job training, vet care stoke anger in 2016: Congress gives short shrift to the casualties of far-reaching decisions on war and trade — In searching for meaning in this year’s elections, a lot can be learned by looking at two budget numbers: medical care for veterans and job training for displaced and low-skilled workers. Each is some measure of how Washington cares for the casualties of its decisions, whether in war or trade. And each poses its own Catch-22 that helps explain the alienation many working-class voters are now showing toward their government.
► From The Intercept — Pro-TPP op-eds remarkably similar to drafts by foreign government lobbyists — Opinion columns published in newspapers over the last year in support of the Trans-Pacific Partnership use language nearly identical to drafts written and distributed by public relations professionals who were retained by the Japanese government to build U.S. support for the controversial trade agreement.
► From The Guardian — Wisconsin supreme court likely to back right-to-work law, experts say — Labor leaders and their allies were thrilled when a Wisconsin judge ruled on Friday that the state’s year-old right-to-work law — signed by Governor Scott Walker — violated the state’s constitution. But several law professors predicted that the Wisconsin supreme court, on which conservative justices have a commanding 5-2 majority, would ultimately overturn the lower court judge’s decision and rule that the law does not violate the state constitution.
► In today’s NY Times — The Rich Live Longer Everywhere. For the Poor, Geography Matters. — The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter. In those differences, documented in sweeping new research, lies an optimistic message: The right mix of steps to improve habits and public health could help people live longer, regardless of how much money they make.
► From Think Progress — Everything you need to know about the Supreme Court challenge to Obama’s immigration policies — United States v. Texas concerns the legality of two closely related immigration policies. Together, the Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents program (“DAPA”) and an expansion of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (“DACA”), are expected to allow about 4.9 million undocumented immigrants to temporarily work and remain in the country.
► In today’s NY Times — Penalize companies that export jobs (by Michael Riordan) — The heating and air-conditioning equipment maker Carrier Corporation recently announced plans to transfer its Indianapolis plant’s manufacturing operations and about 1,400 jobs to Monterrey, Mexico. As a former employee and current stockholder of Carrier’s parent company, United Technologies, I was deeply dismayed to watch this announcement on a video made by a plant employee… We should begin to consider serious penalties for corporations that export well-paid jobs, particularly those that have been major beneficiaries of hundreds of billions of dollars in research and development spending by the federal government, which helped create many high-tech products and industries and the jobs that came with them. And United Technologies is a top federal contractor, earning over $5 billion annually.
ALSO at The Stand — Murdering manufacturing ‘strictly business’ under NAFTA (by Leo W. Gerard)
► In the Washington Post — It’s amazing what America could do with the money the rich hide overseas (by Max Ehrenfreund) — The documents known as the “Panama Papers” have created a global scandal around the ways the world’s rich conceal their wealth from the authorities. In the United States, the Treasury would collect about $124 billion a year in additional taxes — $36 billion from individual taxpayers and $88 billion from multinational corporations — if it weren’t for such schemes, according to estimates by Gabriel Zucman, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley… When the wealthy pay less in taxes, the rest of the population bears the burden. Either the government spends less money, providing fewer public services, or ordinary citizens pay more to make up the cost. Here is a list of a few things Congress could do with $124 billion a year: 1) Feed the poor; 2) Pay the troops; 3) Send every kid to preschool; 4) Give working families cash; 5) Borrow less money; 6) Roads, bridges and railways.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.