Wednesday, September 6, 2017
WASHINGTON ON FIRE
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Smoke overwhelms Tri-City skies, little relief in sight — A choking fog of grayish smoke settled Tuesday over the Tri-Cities, forcing children off playgrounds and outdoor workers to put on respirator masks. And it’s not expected to clear out for days. The air quality in the Tri-Cities deteriorated to a level rated as “very unhealthy” at times.
► In today’s Yakima H-R — Stay inside or wear a mask: Yakima health officials repeat warnings — As Yakima air quality hovered near “hazardous” ratings throughout Tuesday, health officials repeated warnings to local residents: Stay inside, and if you must venture out, wear a mask to guard against the smoke and ash coming from wildfires around the state.
► In today’s Columbian — Fires put infrastructure at risk; officials balance access, safety — Fires burning in the Columbia River Gorge are threatening infrastructure from state parks to regional transmission lines, and officials are trying to balance access with safety.
► In today’s News Tribune — Wildfire near Crystal Mountain more than doubles in size, forces Mount Rainier closures
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Wildfires and smoke provide a peek into the future — Ash falling on Seattle and Portland. Air so thick with smoke it’s hazardous for everyone in Spokane, regardless of age or health. Landmarks threatened by charging flames in the Columbia River Gorge, on Mount Rainier and in Yosemite and Glacier national parks. The forest fires burning across the western United States were caused in part by climate change and made worse by a legacy of fire suppression. The hazardous air quality brought by the fires is in some ways worse than when Mount St. Helens erupted in 1980, sending plumes of volcanic ash around the world.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC delegates back clean-energy action
DEFEND THE DREAM
► In the NY Times — Trump moves to end DACA, calls on Congress to act — President Trump on Tuesday ordered an end to the Obama-era program that shields young undocumented immigrants from deportation, calling it an “amnesty-first approach” and urging Congress to pass a replacement before he begins phasing out its protections in six months. As early as March, officials said, some of the 800,000 young adults brought to the United States illegally as children who qualify for the program, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, will become eligible for deportation. The five-year-old policy allows them to remain without fear of immediate removal from the country and gives them the right to work legally.
ALSO at The Stand — WSLC: ‘We stand tall with the Dreamers’ — Jeff Johnson, President of the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO: “Ending DACA is both dishonorable and a disservice to America… If Congress has any sense of right and wrong it will codify DACA into law before March 2018.”
► From the AFL-CIO — DACA announcement will not deter working people’s fight for justice — AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka: “This direct attack on union members and union values only strengthens our resolve to overcome racial divisions and demand changes to a system rigged to benefit the wealthiest and corporations.”
Coverage of pro-DACA rallies and actions in Yakima, Tri-Cities, Spokane, Seattle, Port Angeles, Everett, and Bellingham. Plus editorials criticizing Trump’s actions and urging Congress to act to protect Dreamers in today’s (Everett) Herald and Seattle Times.
► From HuffPost — Americans defy Trump as pro-DACA demonstrations erupt across country
► Today from the News Tribune — State to file lawsuit today over Trump’s move to end ‘Dreamer’ protections — State Attorney General Bob Ferguson intends to announce a multistate lawsuit Wednesday involving the DACA program, which shields immigrants who were brought into the country illegally as children from deportation.
► In today’s NY Times — After 16 futile years, Congress will try again to legalize ‘Dreamers’ — For 16 years, advocates for legalizing young immigrants brought here illegally by their parents have tried to pass legislation to shield them from deportation. The bill was called the Dream Act, and it failed again and again. Now, with 800,000 lives in the balance and a fiercely anti-immigration current running through the Republican Party, lawmakers are being asked to try again — with a six-month deadline, to boot.
EDITOR’S NOTE –Every Democratic member of Washington’s delegation has issued a strong statement of support for permanently preserving DACA protections for young immigrants. Republican Reps. Dave Reichert, Jaime Herrera Beutler, Dan Newhouse and Cathy McMorris Rodgers have issued equivocal statements pledging to protect Dreamers but criticizing President Obama’s DACA program.
► In today’s NY Times — The Dreamers need a vote, not talk (by David Leonhardt) — Members of Congress offer warm words for the Dreamers. The words are meaningless unless Congress acts.
► From HuffPost — Republicans want a DACA fix, but not without Democratic concessions — Republicans are already placing conditions on their support that could kill the effort entirely. They are willing to vote for protecting so-called “Dreamers” — but not without getting something in exchange for it.
► In today’s Washington Post — Trump and Republicans face ‘a defining moment’ on immigration — Should Congress act, the president will have to choose whether to sign on to a legislative solution granting the “dreamers” legal status — or to let DACA expire, which would impede the ability of beneficiaries to find work and leave them vulnerable to deportation. The choice cuts to the core of his presidency and could have long-term ramifications for the Republican Party.
► In the (Everett) Herald — Arlington teachers reach tentative agreement — The teachers union here has reached a tentative agreement with the Arlington School District, likely preventing a strike. The agreement was reached Monday, two days before the start of the new school year.
► In today’s News Tribune — State sues Tacoma’s St. Joseph Medical Center, saying it illegally withheld charity care — Attorney General Bob Ferguson filed a lawsuit Tuesday alleging Tacoma’s St. Joseph Medical Center has failed to provide charity care as required by state law.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Local unions want to distribute replacement ‘democracy vouchers’ — Three unions and a labor-backed advocacy group are asking for permission to distribute replacement “democracy vouchers” in Seattle political races.
► ICYMI in the Seattle Times — State cut mental-health funding… by mistake? One more reason open government matters (by Danny Westneat) — Washington lawmakers crafted their budget this year largely in secret, and passed it in such a rush that many of them didn’t have time to read it. Now, predictably, we’re paying the price… There was much crowing by legislators this year that they had finally delivered to fix Washington’s notoriously bad and underfunded mental-health system. But, after finally decoding what the budget actually does, state officials revealed that, in fact, it cuts mental-health and substance-abuse treatment in King County by $18 million — or 8 percent compared with last year. It means that the urban area’s biggest social-services problem, a homelessness emergency fueled by opioid abuse and mental-health issues, is likely to get worse.
ALSO at The Stand — This is no way to govern (by Jeff Johnson) — Twice in three years, the Senate Republicans have taken us to within hours of shutting down government to avoid agreeing to any significant progressive revenue reform and in an attempt to extract unpopular partisan policy changes. This has got to stop.
► In the News Tribune — Reports of sexual banter, hazing among some employees prompt changes at Fish and Wildlife — The state Department of Fish and Wildlife is increasing efforts to prevent sexual harassment and boost diversity after two recent investigations found evidence of sexual harassment, inappropriate conversations and hazing within the agency.
► From Bloomberg — Latest NAFTA talks near end without major breakthroughs — The latest NAFTA talks are nearing conclusion without a major breakthrough or agreements on even the least-contentious topics, officials familiar with the negotiations say, fueling doubts among observers that a deal can be reached this year.
► From the Toronto Globe & Mail — Canada demands U.S. end ‘right to work’ laws as part of NAFTA talks — Canadian negotiators are demanding the United States roll back so-called “right to work” laws – accused of gutting unions in some U.S. states by starving them of money – as part of the renegotiation of the North American free-trade agreement. The request is part of a push by Ottawa to get the U.S. and Mexico to adopt higher labour standards under the deal.
► From Politico — Corporate tax cut unpopular with voters, poll shows — Cutting the corporate tax rate to 15 percent would be far less popular than getting the rate that low for small businesses, according to a new poll. In fact, six in 10 respondents said corporations pay too little in taxes.
► In today’s NY Times — Prominent Republicans urge Supreme Court to end gerrymandering — Breaking ranks with many of their fellow Republicans, a group of prominent politicians (including McCain, Kasich and Dole) filed briefs on Tuesday urging the Supreme Court to rule that extreme political gerrymandering — the drawing of voting districts to give lopsided advantages to the party in power — violates the Constitution.
► In the Washington Post — Republicans suddenly seem to like unions again — Unions are enjoying a popularity surge, with more than 61 percent of adults in the United States saying they now approve of organized labor — a five-point jump from last year, according to a new Gallup poll. That’s the highest approval rating since 2003, when 65 percent of respondents said the same. Though union ranks are shrinking, acceptance among conservatives seems to be rising, per the Gallup survey.
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.