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Still responding, prosperity bomb, charter failure

Monday, September 11, 2017


Sixteen years ago this morning, nearly 3,000 people were killed in a series of coordinated terrorist attacks upon the United States. Many of those killed were public employees, our nation’s first responders. It was the deadliest incident for firefighters and law enforcement officers in the history of the United States, with 343 and 72 killed respectively. Also killed were thousands of other working people. Of the 125 who died at the Pentagon, the majority were civilian federal employees and contractors. Of the thousands killed at the World Trade Center towers, few were guests and tourists that early. Most were investment bankers, insurance company employees, and other office workers. Seventy-two were the mostly immigrant employees of the Windows of the World restaurant on the top floor of the North Tower.

This morning, first responders from across this nation — including many from Washington state — are in Florida, again putting their own safety at risk just as they did in Houston a week ago, to try to save and protect people victimized by a hurricane. As we remember 9/11 today, let’s also remember the daily sacrifices made by our nation’s proud public employees who protect and serve us all.




► In the Seattle Times — Take it from us: With Amazon, you can get too much of a good thing (by Danny Westneat) — Heads up, Other North American City: Amazon is about to detonate a prosperity bomb in your town. Most bizarre, is the growth-addicted cult that worships this prosperity bomb. Try wondering out loud, say, whether the supercharged growth might be outstripping your city’s infrastructure. Or ripping apart your city’s middle-class fabric. NIMBY, you’ll be called. You want to be Detroit? Last week a member of our Chamber of Commerce, which is our safe-injection site for growth addicts, said the lesson from our Amazon relationship is that we all owe our corporate fathers an apology. Those 58 cranes? Should have been a hundred. Property taxes up 50 percent? Should also have been a hundred. We didn’t do enough, else they wouldn’t be looking elsewhere. Never mind that this is plainly false, as Weyerhaeuser and Expedia and others are flocking in. Or that anyone can just look out the window to see we’ve already transmogrified the center city into a giant company plaza. To the growth addicts, the only answer, ever, is more.

► In the News Tribune — ‘Who is Tacoma?’ Fight over future of the port might very well tell — Buoyed by their victory over what would have been the world’s largest methanol plant, Tacoma’s growing environmental movement is taking aim at the long-term future of the Port of Tacoma. Port officials find themselves on the defensive.

► In today’s Columbian — Protesters clash in Patriot Prayer demonstration on Vancouver waterfront — Two people were arrested, and a driver who drove a pickup nearly through several protesters was detained, following a rally thrown by local conservative activist Joey Gibson at the Vancouver waterfront.




► In the News Tribune — State takes another step toward a pay-by-mile plan to raise cash for road repairs — As cars get more fuel-efficient, gas tax money for road repairs in Washington decreases. The state recently began a test on a plan to charge motorists a fee based on the miles they drive.

► In today’s Seattle Times — Washington’s record-long legislative season translated into high per diem payments — Fourteen Washington state lawmakers took home more than $20,000 to pay for expenses in this year’s record-long legislative session, state House and Senate records show.

► In the Columbian — Three pursue Pike’s seat in 18th Legislative District — When state Rep. Liz Pike (R-Camas) announced her bid for Clark County council chair last month, it set off a round of political musical chairs for the seat she’ll vacate.




► In today’s LA Times — Canada’s quixotic attempt to use NAFTA to end U.S. ‘right to work’ laws (by Steven Greenhouse) — Trump seemed to think he’d get NAFTA talks to focus on Mexico’s lower wages and labor standards. But Canada turned the tables by arguing that U.S. labor standards are a problem as well. Canada asserted that lower standards in the U.S. and Mexico give those countries an unfair advantage. Canada insisted, in particular, that the U.S. end its so-called right-to-work laws.

ALSO at The Stand — Rep. Smith, Fair Trade Coalition at Sept. 19 forum on NAFTA

► From TPM — Trump voter fraud commission poised to double down on debunked NH claims — When President Trump’s so-called “elections integrity” commission gathers in New Hampshire on Tuesday for its second meeting, it appears ready to double down on widely-mocked allegations that the state’s 2016 presidential and Senate elections may have been swung by nonresidents pouring into the Granite State to take advantage of its same-day voter registration.

► In today’s NY Times — Kris Kobach and his 5,313 fraudulent voters (editorial) — Rather than admit his obvious biases, Kobach carps that “the mainstream media has ignored the problem of voter fraud and belittled those of us who are trying to do something about it.” The truth is that Kobach and his band of vote suppressors belittle themselves, and threaten voting rights nationwide, with their dishonesty.

► From Politico — The next big fight: the FAA bill — Now that Congress has averted a government shutdown and debt default, there’s one more big must-pass bill lingering out there before the end of the month: the reauthorization of the FAA’s authority. Insiders tell us it could get loaded up, because it’s the last train out of the station this month. In Capitol Hill parlance, it could end up like a “Christmas tree,” as lawmakers try to attach everything to it.

ALSO at The Stand:

Aviation safety must remain a public service (by Monika Warner)

Herrera Beutler, McMorris Rodgers attack prevailing wage

► From The Hill — GOP fears House retirements could set off a wave — Two moderate House Republicans announced surprise retirements this week, quickening the pulse of Republicans waiting to see if a wave of retirements will jeopardize the party’s path to holding the House majority in 2018. As Trump fuels uncertainty in Washington and his low approval rating raises question about whether the GOP can hold the House, there’s concern among Republicans that lawmakers facing tough reelection campaigns might begin to take the road of least resistance and retire.




► In the NY Daily News — Support for labor unions is at decade high, poll finds — A Gallup Poll released for Labor Day found 61% of adults in the U.S. approve of labor unions — the highest percentage since 2003, when approval was at 65%. The 2017 approval rate is up 5 percentage points from last year and 13 points above the all-time low of 48% in 2009.

► From Vice — Unions aren’t obsolete, they’re being crushed by right-wing politics — Few economic or political elites preach much about the virtues of a union… Even Democrats have largely remained silent about unions, which remain an important part of their base. The party’s “Better Deal” plan to help ordinary workers that Democrats released earlier this year talked about raising the minimum wage, growing the economy, and fighting outsourcing, but didn’t mention making sure workers had the ability to organize. But a report released last month by the Economic Policy Institute, a think tank that focuses on the needs of low- and middle-income workers, points out just how relevant the labor movement remains. The decline of unions — which now represent just over one in ten U.S. workers, down from one in five from 1983 — has been less about their value for workers than the result of a concerted effort to destroy the labor movement.

► In today’s NY Times — As Amazon pushes forward with robots, workers find new roles — Amazon is on the forefront of automation, finding new ways of getting robots to do the work once handled by human employees.




► In the NY Times Magazine — Michigan gambled on charter schools. Its children lost. — Michigan’s aggressively free-market approach to schools has resulted in one of the most deregulated educational environments in the country, a laboratory in which consumer choice and a shifting landscape of supply and demand (and profit motive, in the case of many charters) were pitched as ways to improve life in the classroom for the state’s 1.5 million public-school students. But a Brookings Institution analysis done this year of national test scores ranked Michigan last among all states when it came to improvements in student proficiency. And a 2016 analysis by the Education Trust-Midwest, a nonpartisan education policy and research organization, found that 70 percent of Michigan charters were in the bottom half of the state’s rankings. Michigan has the most for-profit charter schools in the country and some of the least state oversight. Even staunch charter advocates have blanched at the Michigan model. The story of Michigan’s grand educational experiment spans more than two decades, three governors and, now, the United States Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, whose relentless advocacy for unchecked “school choice” in her home state might soon, her critics fear, be going national.


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