Countdown to impeachment, Hanford steps, higher ed’s labor crisis…

Thursday, May 11, 2017




► In today’s NY Times — Sense of crisis deepens as Trump defends Comey’s firing — President Trump’s abrupt dismissal of the F.B.I. director roiled Washington on Wednesday and deepened the sense of crisis swirling around the White House. Republican leaders came to the president’s defense, and Trump lashed out at Democrats and other critics, calling them hypocrites. On Capitol Hill, at least a half-dozen Republicans broke with their leadership to express concern or dismay about the firing of James B. Comey, who was four years into a decade-long appointment as the bureau’s director.

EDITOR’S NOTE: History-Will-Judge-Them Edition — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is defending the president’s decision, saying “the president must have confidence in those who work for him.” As of this morning, the reactions from Washington’s delegation: Sens. Patty Murray (D) and Maria Cantwell (D) and Rep. Adam Smith (D) are calling for a special prosecutor; Reps. Suzan DelBene (D), Denny Heck (D), Derek Kilmer (D), Rick Larsen (D) and Pramila Jayapal (D) are calling for an independent investigation; and Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R), Dan Newhouse (R) and Dave Reichert (R) remain silent.

► In today’s Washington Post — Deputy attorney general threatened to quit after being cast as impetus of Comey’s dismissal, source says — Accounts from more than 30 officials at the White House, Justice Department and on Capitol Hill indicate that Trump was angry that Comey would not support his baseless claim that President Obama had his campaign offices wiretapped. Trump also fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.

► In today’s NY Times — Comey asked to beef up inquiry into Russia before firing — Last week, Comey had asked a Justice Department official for more prosecutors to accelerate the F.B.I.’s investigation into Russia’s election meddling.

► In today’s NY Times — An open letter to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (editorial) — Rod Rosenstein has more authority than anyone else to restore Americans’ confidence in their government.

► From The Hill — Poll: Trump’s approval rating slips to 36 percent

► From Politico — FBI agent groups dispute Trump’s rationale for Comey firing — One of the main reasons the White House has given for Comey’s firing was that the nation’s top law enforcement agent had lost the support of his own rank and file. Not so, says Thomas O’Connor, a working FBI special agent who is president of the FBI Agents Association: “His support within the rank and file of the FBI is overwhelming.”

► In the Washington Post — After Trump fired Comey, White House staff scrambled to explain why — White House press secretary Sean Spicer disappeared into the shadows of the White House grounds, huddling with his staff near a clump of bushes and then behind a tall hedge.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Workers begin to fill collapsed radioactive tunnel at Hanford nuclear reservation — Work has begun to fill the 400-square-foot hole in a tunnel at the Hanford nuclear reservation. The tunnel contains eight railcars filled with radioactive waste, but officials said there was no indication of a radioactive release and no workers were injured.

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Hanford warned in 2015 study that contaminated rail car tunnels at risk of collapse

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — State demands answers about Hanford radioactive tunnel breach

► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Energy secretary wants study to prevent more problems at Hanford

► From the archives of The Onion — Audience at press conference relieved to hear steps will be taken




► In today’s (Longview) Daily News — Grain terminal, ILWU have smooth labor talks — ILWU 21 has quietly reached an agreement with EGTm the operators of the Longview Export Grain Terminal, avoiding the strife that plagued the negotiations five years ago. Members unanimously voted to approve the new contract in April, and the five-year contract went into effect last week.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Boeing grounds 737 MAX planes over quality issue with engine — Weeks away from the first delivery of its new 737 MAX airliner, Boeing on Wednesday grounded its fleet of planes because of a quality problem with the new LEAP engine made by CFM International in Lafayette, Indiana, or Villaroche, France.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Hotline set up to share rumors and reports of immigration raids — Immigration advocates have set up a hotline for reporting raids and other enforcement activity as they brace for President Trump to make good on his promise to crack down on those illegally here. The hotline (844-RAID-REP, or 844-724-3737) was started by Restrepo’s organization, the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and several other groups belonging to the recently formed Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network. More “rapid response” efforts are on the way.

ALSO at The Stand — State, NWIRP offer guidance on federal immigration compliance

► In today’s News Tribune — Private jails no longer banned in Tacoma — The City Council voted Tuesday night to roll back interim rules that banned private correctional facilities, such as the Northwest Detention Center on the Tideflats. The regulations, approved in March, were meant to keep the facility, which can house about 1,575 immigrant detainees, from expanding.

► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Largely retroactive contract agreement boosts jail workers’ pay — Snohomish County has agreed to a new contract with its jail employees that includes 3% annual raises, capping a series of negotiations with other employee groups.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Want to boost your pay? Form a union!




► In today’s Olympian — Lawmakers need to fix schools. So why aren’t they at the Capitol? — If you were under a court order to fix the state’s school system, you might think you’d be holed up at the Capitol, working furiously on the issue. Yet for most of Washington’s 147 state lawmakers, that is not the case.

► In today’s Columbian — Inslee signs bridge bill — With a swipe of his pen, Gov. Jay Inslee made it official: Southwest Washington legislators will renew conversations around how to ease traffic on the congested I-5 Bridge.




► In today’s Seattle Times — Killing not only Obamacare, but the jobs it has created (by Froma Harrop) — The Affordable Care Act has created an estimated 240,000 jobs in health services. These are high-paying jobs and a godsend for cities reeling from factory layoffs… What’s happening to the ACA is vandalism, plain and simple. It is already killing jobs, and people are next.

ALSO at The Stand — Unions to McMorris Rodgers: Shame on you

► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Elegance wasn’t the issue, Congressman Labrador (by Shawn Vestal) — Rep. Raul Labrador, the would-be next governor of Idaho, says his words were inelegant when he confidently stated, “Nobody dies because they don’t have access to health care”… I think Labrador succinctly and accidentally expressed an important and factually aloof belief that lurks mostly unstated inside politics on the right: The safety net is too big and too soft, the people who use it are mostly undeserving, and those who speak up for them are hysterically overstating the case.

► In today’s Washington Post — After saving the GOP health-care bill, this congressman got an earful from constituents — The mood was toxic from the start as Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ) slugged through five hours of hostile questions, including whether the remodeled AHCA would punish women who had been the victims of rape.

EDITOR’S NOTE — But good on him for having the courage to face his constituents.

► From The Hill — Senate GOP defends writing its healthcare bill in private — Senate Republicans are defending their decision to write their own healthcare bill behind closed doors, bypassing the usual committee process.

► MUST-READ in today’s NY Times — Republicans don’t feel your pain (by Thomas B. Edsall) — During his campaign, Donald Trump declared that “there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid” and added that “the middle class has to be protected.” Safety net commitments were crucial to Trump’s appeal to white working-class voters, the constituency that put him over the top in the key states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania… What Trump’s support for the AHCA reveals is that when push comes to shove he is neither willing nor prepared to stand up for his working class voters. Instead, he is driven by his own self-interest. To that end, he has to accommodate the needs of House ideologues, from the Freedom Caucus to Speaker Paul Ryan, all of whom oppose spending that they see as expanding “the welfare state.”




► In today’s NY Times — An invitation to wage theft (editorial) — It’s called the “Working Families Flexibility Act,” but it would accommodate only employers and could cheat families. The bill, which the House recently passed, would supposedly let employees who work overtime choose paid time off rather than time-and-a-half wages. But the time off would come at the convenience of employers, who would have 13 months to schedule it… The Republican bill would not only make employees vulnerable to wage delays, but to wage theft. An employer could deny a time-off request by deeming it “unduly” disruptive — a vague standard that basically gives employers total control over when the time off is taken… That would be a raw deal. And it would be fraudulent, because it would purport to help working people while doing no such thing.

ALSO at The Stand — 40-hour workweek, overtime pay under attack by House Republicans — Washington GOP Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert all voted for this bill.

► From The American Prospect — What will Trump deliver on trade? — President Trump appears to be serious about changing the terms of U.S. trade deals, having recently drawn up an executive order to withdraw from the NAFTA to show that he means business about renegotiating the deal. But will President Trump change trade deals to make North American citizens and workers better off — or just business?

► From Politico — Graduating seniors boo Betsy DeVos at commencement in Florida — Hundreds of graduating seniors of a historically black university here booed and turned their backs on Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she struggled to deliver their commencement address over the raucous crowd.




► In the Chattanooga Times Free-Press — Union puts pressure on Volkswagen’s Chattanooga plant — The UAW continued to pressure Volkswagen to recognize the union in Chattanooga, questioning the company’s ongoing challenge to UAW representation during VW’s annual shareholders meeting.




► From the Nation — The higher-education crisis is a labor crisis — Most Americans experience the higher-education crisis in the financial pinch of their children’s tuition bill or the burden of post-college debt. But to understand how the crisis feeds into the economic crisis facing the next generation, ask an adjunct professor why she’s struggling as hard to teach as her undergraduates struggle to graduate — and why both sides of America’s academic marketplace seem priced out of both decent jobs and an enriching learning experience. Even at Tennessee’s Vanderbilt University, considered an Oxonian academic gem in a state that ranks among the highest in economic inequality, non-tenure-track professors are fighting to form a union — the first of its kind in the right-to-work state… What these educators are hoping to bargain for is more than material benefits; they want academic life to be more about the experience of learning rather than the cost of it.


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

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