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Monday, December 7, 2020




► LIVE from the Seattle Times — Coronavirus daily news update, Dec. 7 — The latest count of COVID-19 cases in Washington totals 177,447 infections (7-day average of new infections per day: 2,585) and 2,925 deaths (7-day average of deaths per day: 22)

► From the NY Times — It’s time to scare people about COVID (by Dr. Elizabeth Rosenthal) — Mister Rogers-type nice public messaging about the virus isn’t working in many parts of the country. It’s time to make people scared and uncomfortable. It’s time for some sharp, focused terrifying realism. I’m not talking fear-mongering, but showing in a straightforward and graphic way what can happen with the virus.

► From the Washington Post — Nursing home staffers attended a 300-person superspreader wedding. Now six residents have died. — Last month, more than 300 people packed into a wedding near rural Ritzville, Wash., defying state restrictions. Authorities later traced more than a dozen coronavirus cases and two outbreaks to the ceremony — and warned that the fallout would likely get worse. Now, health officials say the wedding also included some guests whose job is caring for among the most vulnerable to coronavirus: nursing-home residents. And at least six residents have now died of COVID-19 at two nursing homes where staffers tested positive for the virus after attending the wedding.

► From Politico — States become worker safety watchdogs as pandemic worsens — States are increasingly bypassing the federal government and imposing their own rules to protect workers from the coronavirus, creating a patchwork of regulations that could serve as a blueprint for new national standards promised by President-elect Joe Biden. In all, 14 states (including Washington) have instituted their own comprehensive restrictions as OSHA has come under fire for its lax enforcement during a pandemic that has turned America’s most mundane jobs into dangerous frontline deployments. Labor leaders and other advocates for tougher rules say the hands-off approach taken by Trump’s administration has put workers in harm‘s way, forcing the states to step in.

► From Politico — Teachers should be a priority for COVID vaccines, unions and others say — Adults in school systems should rank high on the list for vaccinations, because it’s “critical” for fully reopening school buildings for instruction, the groups say.

► From the Washington Post — Yes, ‘elites’ support coronavirus restrictions. So do working-class Americans. (by David Weakliem) — Pundits keep insisting — without evidence — that there’s a class divide over reopening.




► From the Columbian — Kevin Peterson march draws hundreds to Hazel Dell — A march in memory of Kevin E. Peterson Jr. drew a few hundred protesters and briefly disrupted traffic in Hazel Dell on Sunday afternoon. The event was the latest in a series of demonstrations since Peterson, a 21-year-old Black man, was fatally shot by Clark County Sheriff’s Office deputies during a drug bust on Oct. 29.

► From the Seattle Times — Washington lawmakers prepare slew of bills to change policing and accountability — Banning chokeholds by police. Creating a statewide investigative agency to review law-enforcement use-of-force instances. Creating local civilian-accountability boards. Strengthening the ability to decertify officers after misconduct. Just two years after Washington lawmakers — and, subsequently, voters — passed a sweeping package of law-enforcement accountability provisions, lawmakers are set to make an ambitious new push on the issue.





► From the Spokesman-Review — Billig vows to push transportation package as Washington struggles with decaying road infrastructure, pandemic slowdown — State Senate Majority Leader Andy Billig (D-Spokane) said he plans to push his fellow lawmakers in Olympia to respond to concerns about our state highway system. “There’s going to be an effort to pass a transportation-infrastructure package, which would shore up the funding for current projects as well as invest in maintenance and culverts and some new projects as well,” he said. The notion that the state will spend heavily to not only make up huge shortfalls in WSDOT’s existing budget, but also invest further in new infrastructure projects at a time when the coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on budgets statewide, may seem far-fetched. But Billig said the state should invest in new infrastructure work not in spite of those broader economic challenges – but because of them.

► From the Seattle Times — Inslee’s office, teachers union dispute status of easing guidelines on in-person schooling — Gov. Jay Inslee’s office says possible changes to the disease metrics that guide school district reopening decisions in Washington are still on the table. But a widely publicized note posted to social media by the state teachers educator union on Thursday says otherwise… Local teachers unions around the state, with support from WEA, have been filing labor complaints against some school districts trying to reopen, citing problems with PPE and inconsistent safety standards.

TODAY at The StandA blueprint to safely reopen public schools (by Randi Weingarten)

► From KNKX — WA voters said ‘no.’ Now there’s a $15 billion problem — ESJR 8212 was a little-noticed constitutional amendment to allow for the investment of long-term care trust fund dollars in private stocks. Voters soundly defeated the measure, 54 to 46 percent. Now comes the surprise cost of that under-the-radar vote – an estimated $15 billion. That’s the trust fund’s projected liability over the next 75 years if the funds can’t be invested in the stock market, which would presumably produce larger returns than fixed-income securities like government bonds and CDs.

► From the Columbian — COVID-19 to dominate legislative session, SW Washington lawmakers say — The COVID-19 outbreak will dominate the session, both in format and content. For the first time ever, the Legislature will come together remotely, using video conferencing and virtual document sharing to do the work that would normally be done at the state Capitol.




► From the NY Times — Judge orders government to fully reinstate DACA program — A federal judge on Friday ordered the Trump administration to fully restore an Obama-era program designed to shield young, undocumented immigrants from deportation, dealing what could be a final blow to Trump’s long-fought effort to end the protections.

► From the Washington Post — Unemployment, sick leave and housing aid are set to expire in weeks, threatening Americans with sudden financial ruin — More than two dozen federal stimulus programs crafted to help cash-strapped workers and businesses weather the coronavirus pandemic are set to expire in a matter of weeks, adding urgency to congressional negotiations over a new $908 billion relief package that might help break months of political deadlock. Without the new aid, the end of a series of key stimulus programs threatens to push the country closer to the financial cliff. Millions of Americans are set to lose unemployment benefits, access to paid sick leave and protections against evictions.

► From the Washington Post — Millions of Americans are heading into the holidays unemployed and over $5,000 behind on rent

► From the Seattle Times — Feds must act quickly to fund local COVID-19 response (editorial) — Without congressional action, essential local efforts to test, trace and respond to the pandemic will be endangered once the federal funding expires at the end of this month. That must not happen. Federal lawmakers should quickly pass a COVID-19 relief bill that includes funding for the state, local and tribal governments that have borne the lion’s share of responsibility for fighting this pandemic, even as revenues have declined.

► From the Seattle Times — Progressives vs. centrists: Reps. Pramila Jayapal and Suzan DelBene lead competing Democratic caucuses — Rep. Suzan DelBene (D-Medina) was elected last week as chair of the centrist New Democrat Coalition. Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Seattle) is expected to be named this week as sole chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. How the Jayapal and DelBene-led blocs get along will be a key in determining how effective House Speaker Nancy Pelosi can be in managing a Democratic majority eroded by losses in last month’s election.

EDITOR’S NOTE — WA State Dems’ Tina Podlowdowski tweets to the Times reporter Jim Brunner: Two@WashDems women ascend to powerful leadership positions and you default to pitting them against each other, rather than noting they have worked together for better outcomes for all.

► From the Washington Post — As Trump rants over election, his administration accelerates push to lock in policy and staffing gains — Over the final six weeks of Trump’s presidency, the administration has no plans to wind down its efforts to remake federal policies and even the government bureaucracy itself, aides said, despite the pending handoff to the incoming Democratic administration. The whirlwind of activities has bucked tradition of past presidents who have deferred on major policy actions during the lame-duck period, and in some cases, the moves could make it procedurally or politically challenging for Biden to fulfill campaign pledges to unwind the Trump team’s actions.

► From the NY Times — ‘Existential peril’: Mass transit faces huge service cuts across U.S. — Across the United States, public transportation systems are confronting an extraordinary financial crisis set off by the pandemic, which has starved transit agencies of huge amounts of revenue and threatens to cripple service for years. The financial collapse of transportation agencies would especially hurt minority and low-income riders who tend to be among the biggest users of subways and buses. For months, transit officials around the country have pleaded for help from the federal government, but with no new lifeline forthcoming and many systems facing December deadlines to balance their budgets, agencies have started to outline doomsday service plans that would take effect next year.

► From Politico — House votes to legalize weed — The House on Friday passed a landmark bill that would remove federal penalties on marijuana and erase cannabis-related criminal records. The bill passed by a vote of 228-164, with several Republicans on board. The Senate will not take up the bill.

EDITOR’S NOTE — Although the people of Washington state voted overwhelmingly years ago to legalize weed, GOP Reps. Jaime Herrera Beutler (R-3rd) and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5th) voted “no.” All Washington Democrats voted “yes,” and Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-4th) was absent.




► From the Washington Post — Just 25 congressional Republicans acknowledge Biden’s win, Washington Post survey finds — Just 25 congressional Republicans acknowledge  Biden’s win over Trump a month after the former vice president’s clear victory of more than 7 million votes nationally and a convincing electoral-vote margin. Two Republicans consider Trump the winner despite all evidence showing otherwise. And another 222 GOP members of the House and Senate — nearly 90 percent of all Republicans serving in Congress — will simply not say who won the election. Their complicit silence now comes as Trump continues to mount an unfounded campaign against the democratic outcome of an election, leaving them isolated as other federal, state and local Republican officials have rejected Trump’s false assertions.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This report doesn’t identify the 25 Republicans willing to acknowledge reality, but as far as The Stand can tell, none of Washington’s three GOP members of Congress have publicly acknowledged Biden’s victory.

► From the Washington Post — Armed protesters alleging voter fraud surrounded the home of Michigan’s secretary of state — Vitriolic rhetoric has led bipartisan leaders to warn that Trump’s baseless attacks on the election are endangering election officials’ lives. Multiple Michigan officials have reported being threatened and harassed over the election results, as have officials in Georgia, Arizona, Vermont, Kentucky, Minnesota and Colorado.

► From the Washington Post — Trump calls Georgia governor to pressure him for help overturning Biden’s win in the state — Trump called Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp (R) on Saturday morning to urge him to persuade the state legislature to overturn Biden’s victory in the state and asked the governor to order an audit of absentee ballot signatures, the latest brazen effort by the president to interfere in the 2020 election. Kemp reportedly declined the president’s entreaty.

EDITOR’S NOTE — This morning, Georgia has REcertified its results after a second recount affirmed Joe Biden’s victory. Its top election official said the state had “counted legally cast ballots, three times, and the results remain unchanged.”

► From CNN — Giuliani hospitalized after testing positive for COVID

► From TPM — Arizona Legislature shuts down for a week after mask-free Giuliani contracts COVID-19 — Trump’s lawyer socialized with GOP state lawmakers mask-less several times last week while trying to overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s victory.




► From the Washington Post — Community colleges are contending with an enrollment crisis — When the pandemic hit, community colleges expected an enrollment surge. Recessions — a time when the newly unemployed are looking to learn new skills — can be good for two-year schools. Instead, this year has given way to steep declines in enrollment — nearly 10 percent across public two-year colleges. Enrollment at four-year public schools and at four-year private schools dropped about 2 percent. Enrollment slumps present financial issues for colleges and have prompted concerns about the students who, for one reason or another, can’t afford to continue their education.

► From the Seattle Times — How COVID-19 could lead to fewer Washington students going to college in 2021 and beyond — A dip in applications for financial aid tells a troubling story about which and how many Washington students are making plans to pursue — and get help paying for — education after high school… Some worry that the pandemic will shape who gets to attend college — a change that could jeopardize educational equity and colleges’ revenues for years to come.

► From Bloomberg — Snowflake CEO collects a payout now worth $100M – every month — CEO Frank Slootman gets a batch of stock options every month — for four years — that are now worth more than $100 million a month, or north of $1.2 billion annually.




► America’s postal workers deliver more than just the mail…


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