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Legislators get theirs, nixing paid leave, TPP 2.0, RIP CC

Friday, May 19, 2017




► In the Sky Valley Chronicle — Local labor groups, educators and others to stage rally at Shoreline school on SaturdayThe Washington Federation of State Employees has encouraged all union members and community supporters to a Save Fircrest Rally and Picket on Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to noon at the Fircrest School located at 15230 15th Ave. NE in Shoreline.

ALSO at The Stand — Rally, picket Saturday to save Fircrest School from closure

► From WFSE — Lawmakers get 4% raise while budget burns — In the midst of an unprecedented budget crisis, the Senate Republicans choose to follow the Bradley Foundation/Freedom Foundation line and take pot shots at state employees’ ratified contracts and negotiated pay raises in a committee hearing on Wednesday. Meanwhile, a citizens’ commission has granted legislators raises of 4 percent over the next two years; under the law, their raises are automatic and do not require the kind of scrutiny given state employees’ three 2 percent raises to help custodians, gardeners, direct-care workers, and those who keep us safe and sound and living in a great state.

► In today’s News Tribune — Here’s what you’ve paid — so far — for the special session in Olympia — Lawmakers are racking up extra pay as they continue negotiating a budget in special session this year, sticking taxpayers with a growing bill that was more than $87,500 halfway through the current 30-day overtime. With no compromise in sight, a second overtime is all but certain. That means the costs will keep climbing.

► In today’s Seattle Times — No budget deal yet, but could McCleary fix arrive soon? — With four days left in the Legislature’s special session, speculation in Olympia has swirled around whether lawmakers will announce a last-minute McCleary compromise amid a budget stalemate. Key negotiators for the Democrat-controlled House and GOP-led Senate likely don’t want to end the 30-day overtime session without anything tangible to show. And while they appear to be far from a deal on how to pay for K-12 schools and the entire 2017-19 state budget, agreement on a final fix to the broken school-finance system could get lawmakers one step closer to the finish line.




► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Putin not paying Trump, but Russia spreading propaganda, McMorris Rodgers says — Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers doesn’t think Vladimir Putin was paying Donald Trump last summer as questions about Russian influence in the elections were surfacing.

► In today’s NY Times — What’s the matter with Republicans? (by Paul Krugman) — It has become painfully clear that Republicans have no intention of exercising any real oversight over a president who is obviously emotionally unstable, seems to have cognitive issues and is doing a very good imitation of being an agent of a hostile foreign power.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Last week, Richard Cohen wrote in The Washington Post that Vice President Pence, Paul Ryan, and the rest of the “bobbleheads” in GOP leadership (which includes our own Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers) have been “sullenly complicit, showing how little esteem many politicians place in our most cherished values, not the least of them honesty and dignity.”

► On the other hand, in today’s Washington Post — We’re not learning from the Trump story — because we’ve peeked at the last page (by Barton Swaim) — At the present moment, with some real or imagined debacle coming out of the White House every day, we’ve forgotten where we are. Or, more likely, we’re assuming we understand the nature of the story we’re in — it’s a tragedy, right? — when in fact we do not. There is no circumspection, no desire to withhold judgment, no reticence. We took a peek at the last page, we’re sure we know how the story ends, and now we impatiently skim the pages as we turn past them to get to the end. And so we’ve lost the plot… The sheer visceral animosity from the media, together with the aggressively insurgent opposition by holdovers from within the government, has shocked me as much as the election itself.




► From Bloomberg — Republicans to take stab at keeping Trump’s paid leave promise — House Republicans in coming weeks are expected to introduce a bill shielding employers from state and local paid leave requirements if they offer workers a certain amount of paid time off for family and medical reasons. The legislation appeases business groups, which would prefer not to deal with the web of various paid leave laws at the state and local levels (like the one approved by Washington voters).

EDITOR’S NOTE — Republicans abandon their small government/local control ideology pretty quickly once they’re in charge of a big government — particularly when business lobbyists snap their fingers.

► In today’s NY times — Trumpcare is already hurting Trump country (editorial) — There’s no new Affordable Care Act yet; the House passed a very bad bill, but the Senate has yet to act. Still, in places like Iowa, Nebraska and Tennessee, companies such as Aetna and Wellmark are so spooked by the uncertainty that they are considering abandoning the market. Other insurers are asking state regulators for permission to raise premiums by as much as 53 percent. This should trouble not just the 12.2 million people who have bought insurance on federal and state exchanges, but also policy makers, since Washington may have to spend more on subsidies if premiums go up. Trump, not surprisingly, describes things differently. He claims that uncertainty in the insurance industry is evidence that Obamacare is collapsing and needs repeal, not that he and his allies have created the uncertainty. This is disingenuous nonsense.

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

► In today’s NY Times — Trump sends NAFTA renegotiation notice to Congress — The Trump administration gave Congress official notice on Thursday that it plans to renegotiate NAFTA but provided only the vaguest of hints about modest changes President Trump would seek to an agreement that he has called “the worst trade deal ever.”

► From Public Citizen — Will NAFTA renegotiation fulfill Trump’s promises? 500 official corporate advisers meeting in private does not bode well (by Lori Wallach) — As a candidate, Donald Trump promised to make NAFTA “much better” for working people… Already the 500 corporate trade advisers who got us into the TPP have been consulted on NAFTA renegotiations, while the few labor advisers were shut out of that March meeting. And the public and Congress are being left in the dark about negotiating plans and goals. If Trump won’t make negotiations transparent – by issuing detailed goals and making draft texts available – how can the public know that the deal is not being shaped to benefit Trump’s many Canadian and Mexican investments, or that the Goldman Sachs team in the White House isn’t turning NAFTA into TPP 2.0?

► In today’s Washington Post — Nearly 700 vacancies at CDC because of Trump administration’s hiring freeze — Nearly 700 positions are vacant at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention because of a continuing freeze on hiring that officials and researchers say affects programs supporting local and state public health emergency readiness, infectious disease control and chronic disease prevention.

► In today’s NY Times — States trim penalties and prison rolls, even as Sessions gets tough — Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ announcement that federal prosecutors should aim to put more people in prison for longer periods, adopting the sort of mass-incarceration strategy that helped flood prisons during the war on drugs in the 1980s and 1990s, has alarmed critics who fear that the Trump administration is embracing failed, even racist, policies.

► In today’s NY Times — The young flee the GOP (by David Leonhardt) — After surveying Americans periodically over the 15 months since the 2016 campaign began, Pew has found that one demographic group has been much more likely than any other to switch its party identification: Republicans under the age of 30.




► Seattle native and grunge pioneer Chris Cornell, best known as the frontman of Soundgarden, took his own life on Wednesday at the age of 52. (As some are now observing, Eddie Vedder is now the last man standing.) Local labor activists may recall that Cornell performed alongside Tom Morello at a 15 Now fundraiser in September 2014 to defend the recently approved Seattle $15 minimum wage initiative in court and to take that fight nationwide. The Entire Staff of The Stand were only casual fans, never that big on Soundgarden, but we will remember Cornell’s unlikely, haunting cover of Michael Jackson’s “Bille Jean,” about which Cornell wrote:

“The brilliance of ‘Billie Jean’ came to me when I was reading the lyrics for the first time… I realized it’s a lament, not a dance track. His moon walking and the video as well, as just the bass line and the beat, took precedence over the meaning. The lyrics are brilliant, and the way that the way the lyrics are put together. The story isn’t spoon-fed to you, it’s poetic.”

R.I.P., Mr. Cornell.


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