Friday, November 4, 2016
► BLOCKBUSTER STORY in today’s NY Times — These officials help write ballot questions. Companies write them checks. — Big-money corporate lobbying has reached into one of the most obscure corners of state government: the offices of secretaries of state, the people charged with running elections impartially. The targeting of secretaries of state with campaign donations, corporate-funded weekend outings and secret meetings with industry lobbyists reflects an intense focus on often overlooked ballot questions, which the secretaries frequently help write.
Secretaries of state from Washington, Ohio, Colorado and Nevada — all Republicans — participated in closed-door meetings in May with representatives from Reynolds American, the nation’s second-largest tobacco company; the National Restaurant Association; and the National Rifle Association, while ballot initiative signatures in those states were still being collected, documents obtained through open records requests show… Washington’s secretary of state, Kim Wyman, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, has benefited from a blitz of radio advertisements paid for by the Republican group that sponsored the May meetings with industry representatives. Wyman declined requests to comment.
EDITOR’S NOTES — The New York Times has also posted copies of the Wyman emails. As of this writing, The Seattle Times, which is a subscriber of the New York Times news service and often publishes its stories, has not posted this report.
► MUST-SEE video from Facebook — Van Jones on why you should vote NO on I-732 (video) — “Please do not throw poor people and people of color under the bus in Washington state. Vote NO on Initiative 732.”
► From KOMO News — ‘It was like Jell-o’: Dairy worker’s spine pulverized by 1,400-pound hay bale — Juan Rubio is trying to adjust to living life from a wheelchair after a life-altering accident last Sunday morning. He has spent the last eight years working on a local dairy farm in Vancouver, doing things like feeding the cows their hay. While he doesn’t remember exactly what happened, one of the 1,400-pound hay bales he was moving likely fell on top of him. The family’s financial future is uncertain right now because Rubio has been the breadwinner. It’s also uncertain where they’ll be living because their current two-story townhouse cannot accommodate Juan’s needs as a paraplegic. One of their cousins started a GoFundMe page to help them out financially.
EDITOR’S NOTE — It’s disturbing that news reports, as this one does and others also do, are already describing this as a “freak accident.” That implies that this — yet another tragic dairy accident — is extremely rare and not preventable. We all know that’s not true.
► From Governing — A sneak peek of the seismic shift in corporate tax breaks — Earlier this year, Washington state lawmakers got a wake-up call. A tax incentive package they’d approved in 2013 for aerospace giant Boeing — largely regarded as the most expensive incentive deal in history — was actually on pace to surpass its estimated $8.7 billion cost. According to a Department of Revenue report, the deal, which extends to 2040, had already amounted to half a billion dollars in giveaways in just the first two years alone. In other words, the state was losing out on a whole lot more money than it had planned.
And the kicker? Just months earlier, Boeing had announced plans to cut roughly 4,000 jobs in Washington. The year before, the company had transferred thousands more jobs out of the state. Some lawmakers were livid, openly contemplating whether the state should consider revoking the tax breaks if the company didn’t add back some jobs… The fact that Washington lawmakers can even have this conversation puts them at an advantage over most other states’ legislators. In the vast majority of states, officials simply do not know how well their tax incentives programs are working, or how much the deals are actually costing them. They don’t have the data. Washington does, thanks to a tax preference auditing program, already one of the most robust in the nation, that was made even more transparent with the passage of a 2013 law.
► MUST-READ from Vox — The real Clinton email scandal is that a bullshit story has dominated the campaign (by ) — In total, network newscasts have, remarkably, dedicated more airtime to coverage of Clinton’s emails than to all policy issues combined. This is unfortunate because emailgate, like so many Clinton pseudo-scandals before it, is bullshit. The real scandal here is the way a story that was at best of modest significance came to dominate the U.S. presidential election — overwhelming stories of much more importance, giving the American people a completely skewed impression of one of the two nominees, and creating space for the FBI to intervene in the election in favor of its apparently preferred candidate in a dangerous way.
► In today’s NY Times — The post-truth presidency (by Timothy Egan) — This coming Election Day, separate theaters for red and blue voters will open so that viewers can get their political news inside the comfort of their own fact bubbles. Of all the concerns facing a Madam President, governing in a post-truth environment may be the biggest challenge… The lies that many Americans now believe, and that make it so difficult to move the country on the big issues, go to existential facts. A government of the people requires the people to conduct an honest assessment of their world — something too many citizens are no longer capable of doing.
► In today’s Washington Post — Intelligence officials warn of Russian meddling in election and beyond — Analysts said Russia does not seem to be able to alter the election, but Moscow’s hackers might try to sow doubts about its legitimacy as part of its months-long campaign to rattle the mechanisms of American democracy.
► From AFL-CIO Now — Baltimore Ravens’ Benjamin Watson says ‘Do Your Part’
► In today’s NY Times — Some see Republicans’ Supreme Court stonewall lasting for 4 years — The idea of denying Hillary Clinton a court pick has been quietly simmering in conservative circles.
► From The Hill — Government funding talks stall — Negotiations over a stopgap measure to fund the government until Dec. 9 have stalled amid squabbling among Republicans over controversial riders related to Zika funding and the Export-Import Bank.
► In today’s NY Times — Donald Trump’s impeachment threat (editorial) — Republicans are indicating that if they can’t gain control of government fairly, they’ll simply undermine it.
EDITOR’S NOTE — So what else is new? (See every story in this section.)
► In today’s NY Times — Last pre-election jobs report shows healthy growth and higher wages — While the presidential campaign has recently been preoccupied with issues beyond the economy, the report refocuses attention on jobs: the economy added 161,000 last month.
► From Politico — NLRB: Trump hotel violated labor law — The National Labor Relations Board, the agency charged with enforcing federal labor law, ruled Thursday that the Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas violated the National Labor Relations Act by refusing to bargain with a union that represents more than 500 housekeeping, food and beverage and guest services workers there.
► In today’s NY Times — At Trader Joe’s, good cheer may hide complaints — In recent years, the store’s patina of good cheer has masked growing strife and demoralization in some stores on the East Coast. A number of workers, known at Trader Joe’s as “crew members,” complain of harsh and arbitrary treatment at the hands of managers, of chronic safety lapses and of an atmosphere of surveillance.
EDITOR’S NOTE — Don’t just get mad, get a union!
► The Entire Staff of The Stand ran out of time for picking a weekly music video, so here is the first song that came up randomly on our iTunes just now. Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.