Friday, March 9, 2018
► In today’s Tri-City Herald — Hanford missteps exposed workers to radioactive contamination, report says — Mistakes and mismanagement are to blame for the exposure of Hanford workers to radioactive particles in December, according to a new report. The primary radioactive air monitors used at a highly hazardous Hanford project were not up to the job, said the report. Then when the spread of contamination was detected, the steps taken to contain it didn’t fully work. Mistakes on the project included diluting fixative, against the manufacturer’s recommendation.
YESTERDAY at The Stand — WSLC’s Johnson hails new law protecting Hanford workers
► In today’s Seattle Times — ‘Normalization of deviance’: What went wrong at Hanford, where radioactive contamination spread — A new report looks at missteps at a Hanford demolition project where radioactive contamination spread 10 miles from the work site. The troubled project has been a setback that has shaken employee and public confidence in Hanford’s cleanup, where plutonium was produced for Cold War weapons.
► From Crosscut — These firefighters face a different kind of battle: Immigration — All they want to do is to keep fighting fires on millions of acres of private, state and tribal-owned forestlands as part of the state’s largest on-call fire department. But the firefighting fates of Noe Vazquez and Christian Garcia Herrera, who have each fought more than 20 fires, are in limbo until the federal government reaches a deal on DACA.
► In the Skagit Valley Herald — Sakuma Bros. works to get hearing on fines — The U.S. Department of Labor issued a news release Feb. 27 indicating it had filed suit against Sakuma Bros. Farms for committing violations on a foreign worker visa program. But a spokesman for Sakuma Bros. said what the department classified as a lawsuit is actually a response to Sakuma Bros.’ 11-month-old request for a hearing on fines levied against it.
ALSO at The Stand — Familias Unidas berry pickers ratify historic Sakuma contract (June 16, 2017)
► From Reuters — Boeing has ‘cash horsepower’ for targeted acquisitions — Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said on Thursday the planemaker can absorb transactions on the scale of a proposed tie-up with Brazil’s Embraer without putting at risk internal investments in its business or returning cash to shareholders.
► In today’s Olympian — Lawmakers pass budget deal that speeds up teacher salary fix, cuts property taxes — State lawmakers on Thursday approved a 2018 supplemental budget that will boost state spending on public school reforms to meet a court order and give taxpayers a one-time property tax cut. The budget plan speeds up the state’s plan to take on the full cost of paying K-12 teachers and staff.
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — In control, Democrats pressed an ambitious agenda in Olympia — With their two-vote majority in the House, one-vote advantage in the Senate and a Democratic governor, Democrats controlled all the levers of legislating for the first time in Gov. Jay Inslee’s tenure. They proceeded to undertake an ambitious agenda, passing bills to strengthen worker protections, reform the political system, expand abortion rights, tighten gun restrictions and rewrite the law on use of deadly force by police. And they muscled through a one-time cut in property taxes in 2019 over the strident objection of Republicans who didn’t like the manner in which its $391 million cost will be covered.
► In today’s Seattle Times — Legislature reaches finish line with some victories and some maneuvering — The votes in the state Legislature capped a frenetic 60 days that many lauded for the accomplishments — and others questioned because of the rushed, secretive or creative maneuvers state lawmakers employed.
► From AP — Legislature narrowly OKs change to police deadly force law — State lawmakers have voted to make it easier to prosecute police who commit bad shootings, updating a law that made it uniquely difficult to hold officers criminally liable. Gov. Jay Inslee signed the measure, ending years of wrestling over the existing law, which forces prosecutors to prove the officers acted with malice — a hurdle no other state has.
► In today’s M.I. Reporters — Rep. Judy Clibborn to retire from Legislature
► In today’s (Everett) Herald — Democrat Ruth Kagi won’t seek re-election to House
► In today’s Wenatchee World — Alcoa restart? Tariffs give hope, but it’s too early to tell — It’s too early to know if tariffs imposed on aluminum imports announced Thursday by President Trump could stir interest in restarting Alcoa Wenatchee Works, mothballed since January 2016. “But there’s hope this could start the conversation,” said Kelley Woodard, president of the Wenatchee Aluminum Trades Council, an umbrella group representing 350 workers in five unions. “We’ve got our fingers crossed.”
► In today’s NY Times — Trump’s latest tariff strategy: Less trade war, and more let’s make a deal — When President Trump signed proclamations to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum on Thursday, he portrayed it as an effort to throw around America’s economic weight in hope of reaching better deals from major international partners.
TODAY at The Stand — Enforcing trade rules is not a ‘trade war’ (by Stan Sorscher)
► MUST-READ from Real Clear Politics — Enforcement: The forgotten piece of U.S. trade policy (by Scott Paul) — The president seems poised to restore the last leg of the American trade policy imagined by JFK: proactive trade enforcement. Trump is starting with the steel and aluminum industries. The U.S. economy has been motoring along the past four years, but these have been lagging. Not because they are inefficient; they are, in fact, among the most productive in the world. They are instead industries that have been victimized by the Chinese government’s disinterest in reining in its massive overcapacity in these sectors. Chinese overproduction, led by its state-dominated steel companies, floods competing markets directly and indirectly – and that includes our own. The United States imports more steel than any other nation, while our mills operate at only about 75 percent of their capacity. We are absorbing that overcapacity. Because of that, steelworkers operate under regular threat that their jobs might not be there within a year.
► In today’s NY Times — The case for Trump’s tariffs and ‘America First’ economics (by Daniel McCarthy) — From the time of the Constitution’s drafting, American statesmen have seen the need to preserve a middle layer in the nation’s economic order. As far back as Aristotle, a secure middle class has been thought essential to the well-being of a constitutional republic. Such a middle class is hard to imagine in a postindustrial nation consisting of a tiny capital-controlling elite and a vast population of Amazon warehouse workers… Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs may not work. But they are a first attempt at finding an alternative to a free-trade system that has built up the People’s Republic of China while hollowing out the factory towns that once made America great.
THE WAR ON UNIONS
► In the Sacramento Bee — Don’t gut public sector unions, Supreme Court. They’re California’s middle class. (editorial) — The case at hand, Janus v. AFSCME, is a classic example of an ideological pet peeve posing as a public policy problem. Its backers are a network of conservative billionaires and their foundations whose views have been artificially amplified… As Justice Sonia Sotomayor suggested, the people behind Janus v. AFSCME “are basically arguing, do away with unions.” They are. And it isn’t right.
ALSO at The Stand:
► In today’s Washington Post — ‘It’s killing the agency’: Ugly power struggle paralyzes Trump’s plan to fix veterans’ care — Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin is managing the government’s second-largest bureaucracy from a fortified bunker atop the agency’s Washington headquarters… In a sign of how deeply the secretary’s trust in his senior staff has eroded, an armed guard now stands outside his office.
► From The Hill — GOP senator: Justice Kennedy is going to retire this summer — Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) said in a speech last week he believes Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy will retire this summer. While Kennedy’s among the court’s conservative justices, he has sided with his liberal colleagues at times.
► From Reuters — U.S. economy adds 313,000 jobs in February; wage growth slows — U.S. job growth surged in February, recording its biggest increase in more than 1-1/2 years, but a slowdown in wage gains pointed to only a gradual increase in inflation this year.
► From TPM — GOP gearing up to gerrymander again — Nearly a decade ago, Republicans launched REDMAP, an audacious bid to win key statehouses and governorships in order to give themselves control over the redistricting process that followed the 2010 Census, so they could gerrymander district lines in their favor. The project succeeded beyond their wildest dreams, giving them a major edge in successive election cycles. Now, they’re looking to do it again.
► If you remember the forgettable 2007 film Music and Lyrics starring Hugh Grant and Drew Barrymore, you’ll recall that it’s about a washed-up ’80s British pop music idol trying to compose a hit for a teen sensation. What you probably don’t know is that the guy who worked on the movie’s soundtrack — and served as a “vocal coach” for Grant — was himself a washed-up ’80s British pop music idol. His name is Martin Fry, the lead singer of ABC, a band inexplicably beloved by the Entire Staff of The Stand. And today is Fry’s 60th birthday! Watch here as our new sexagenarian — dressed exactly as you’d expect him to be — sings a true 1980s classic. The cheese factor is high, but this performance is saved by Fry’s still-strong vocals and the song’s fantastic bass line, ably performed by Nick Beggs. Enjoy!
The Stand posts links to Washington state and national news of interest every weekday morning by 10 a.m.