Wednesday, January 18, 2017
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Report: Hanford tank vapor concerns strong as ever — Little progress appears to have been made to address the concerns of union employees about exposure to chemical vapors at the Hanford nuclear reservation, according to a new report. … “Many workers perceive that management does not acknowledge the health risk associated with such releases, and these perceptions contribute to erosion of trust between workers and management,” the report said. Several workers said they were concerned about retaliation — from management and fellow workers — if they raised issues regarding tank vapors.
► From Crosscut — Seattle: a test case in Uber’s fight against unions — Ride-hailing giant Uber is suing Seattle in an attempt to stop the city’s rollout of a first-of-its-kind chance for drivers to unionize. The lawsuit argues the city acted arbitrarily in creating rules for which drivers with companies like Uber and Lyft will be allowed to take part in proposed collective bargaining votes. Uber would prefer avoiding unionization altogether. For the company and for unions, the outcome here could have national implications for similar efforts to give drivers a say in their pay and working conditions.
► From Bloomberg — Boeing CEO says he ‘made some great progress’ in talks with Trump about Air Force One — Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg met with the president-elect at Trump Tower on Tuesday to talk about the jet maker’s contract to build the new Air Force One and about the F-18 Super Hornet. “I think Mr. Trump is doing a great job of engaging with business,” Muilenburg said after their meeting. “We’re on the same page here.”
► A related story in today’s NY Times — By announcing new jobs, corporations help themselves too — In promoting plans to add jobs, some of which have long been in the works, companies help position themselves favorably with the Trump administration.
EDITOR’S NOTE — But not Boeing.
► From KNKX — Faced with legislative uncertainty, Seattle schools plan for the worst — Seattle Public Schools is facing a $74-million deficit. To make up for the shortfall, part of the district’s plan is to increase class sizes, which means fewer teachers. Nurses, librarians and counselors would be cut back too. But it’s a waiting game because the Legislature could act, meaning the district wouldn’t need to make the cuts. That level of uncertainty makes it difficult to plan.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — As levy cliff looms, school districts could be forced to make cuts — Two separate budget proposals for the 2017-2018 school year sit on the desk of the Sedro-Woolley School District’s Business and Operations Director. One would allow the district to continue investing in key programs and initiatives, and one would cut $1.3 million from the district’s budget and put those programs in jeopardy.
► In today’s News Tribune — Woman with experience in both Washingtons named new ferries chief — Amy Scarton will be the next leader of Washington State Ferries, Roger Millar, secretary of the state Department of Transportation, announced Tuesday. She will replace Lynne Griffith, who is retiring at the end of the month.
► In today’s News Tribune — Insufficent EMT staffing at state sex offender facility breaks rules, audit finds — Emergency medical technician staffing at the sex offender center on McNeil Island often has not been at proper levels for at least two years, a new state auditor’s report shows.
► In today’s Columbian — Herrera Beutler pushed on health law — Before the Affordable Care Act, Joseph Maldonado, a 37-year-old Vancouver resident who works full time at a Shell gas station, was uninsured. On Tuesday, Maldonado attended a town hall meeting hosted by Republican U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler to ask a question echoed by many: Will he get the same level of care at a comparable cost if Obamacare is repealed? “My goal is to make sure you have access. My goal is for you is we transition you and you’re not left with less,” she said.
Later, Maldonado said Herrera Beutler’s answer didn’t assuage his fears. He makes $20,000 a year working full time and is concerned about what will happen if he’s without insurance. “I don’t think she gave me an adequate response,” he said. “She basically said she’s not sure” whether he’ll have the same access to care.
ALSO at The Stand — ACA repeal, Medicare vouchers threaten health care, our economy (by Jeff Johnson)
► In today’s NY Times — Betsy DeVos’s education hearing erupts into partisan debate — DeVos, a billionaire who did not attend public schools or send her children to them, has a complex web of investments including in companies that stand to win or lose from federal education policy, was the first Trump nominee to have a Senate hearing without completing an ethics review on how she planned to avoid conflicts of interest.
ALSO from AFT — Oppose Betsy DeVos for Education Secretary
► In today’s Seattle P-I — Betsy DeVos vs. Patty Murray: Does nominee aim to privatize public education? — AT the hearing, Murray had a sharp exchange with DeVos over diverting resources away from the nation’s public schools.
► In today’s Washington Post — Six astonishing things Betsy DeVos said — and refused to say — at her confirmation hearing — There were several moments during the hearing in which DeVos either displayed a lack of knowledge about education fundamentals or refused to answer questions that Democratic members of the Senate education committee believe are critical to her fitness for the job.
► In today’s LA Times — Trump’s Health secretary pick fought to limit coverage in one of the neediest states — Trump has charged Republican congressman Tom Price with repealing the Affordable Care Act and developing a replacement that Trump promised will protect millions of Americans who’ve gained coverage through the law. He is an unorthodox choice for the task.
ALSO from the AFL-CIO — Oppose Tom Price for Health & Human Services Secretary
► From The Hill — Five areas where Trump and Dems could make a deal — Trump could attempt to pick up Democratic votes to ratify a rewrite of NAFTA, if he is able to succeed in potential future negotiations with Canada and Mexico. … Democrats are hoping they have an ally in the new president on raising the federal minimum wage. … Among Trump’s most prominent vows on the campaign trail was to move quickly on a sweeping package designed to improve the nation’s roads, bridges and infrastructure. … Trump’s attack on the law barring Medicare from negotiating drug prices breaks with the long-held position of Republicans, who secured the ban when Medicare’s prescription drug program was created in 2003…. Trump’s populist campaign message included promises to keep Social Security intact, marking another break with Republicans that puts the president-elect squarely in line with Democrats.
► From the Miami Herald — One by one, Florida Keys workers went down a manhole. Then silence. All are dead. — None of the men wore masks or carried the vitally important air packs that likely would have saved their lives.
► From KUOW — 2016 was the hottest year yet, scientists declare — Last year, global warming reached record high temperatures — and if that news feels like déjà vu, you’re not going crazy. The planet has now had three consecutive years of record-breaking heat. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just released its annual State of the Climate report, which says it’s the hottest it has been since scientists started tracking global temperatures in 1880.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.