Callaghan: Planning to call your legislator? Brush up on OlySpeak




Like any other secret organization, the Washington Legislature has its own code words, designed so outsiders don’t know what’s going on and will have to assume insiders have everything under control. Call it OlySpeak. Here is your decoder for the 2013 session.

• Move the Needle — This has nothing to do with Clay Bennett completing the task of stealing the Sonics. This is 2013’s go-to phrase to describe something akin to making progress, i.e. moving the needle on the opportunity gap.

• Move the Ball — Same as above, except this must always be followed by a “Go Seahawks.”

• Opportunity Gap — What was once the achievement gap is now the opportunity gap. Be warned: Using “achievement gap” is now politically incorrect in that it suggests struggling students are personally responsible for their failures when we all know it’s because we haven’t given them enough opportunities.

• Secret Sauce — What Gov.-elect Jay Inslee (he’ll be sworn in today) says is Washington’s advantage over other states — our ability to innovate. Our secret sauce is so delicious it will let us balance the budget and meet the state Supreme Court’s demands for better school funding without additional taxes. Inslee has yet to reveal whether our secret sauce is from All-American Burger or Bronco Burger.

• Sustainability — What everyone wants in a budget but what no one ever attains in a budget.

• Seattle-Centric — This is not a good thing, according to any legislator from anywhere but Seattle. It can mean anything from too liberal to “not like you and me.”

• Middle-Class Values — Incoming Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom (D., R.,?- Medina, Bellevue) used this phrase to describe what the Majority Coalition Caucus holds dear. Middle-class values are NOT Seattle-Centric.

• Powerful Listening — What Inslee promises to do regarding toughening the state’s gun laws, presumably so he can avoid actually toughening the state’s gun laws.

• Funding Education First — House Republicans say the way to provide education of all students is to fund education before any other state need. This would be a radical departure from the Legislature’s traditional policy of underfunding education first.

• Softball Questions — Easy questions, designed to let the batter hit a home run. Inslee asked the capital press corps to serve them up. I think he was joking.

• Decay of the Middle Class — Not a late-night horror movie, this describes Senate Democratic Leader Ed Murray’s concerns about the ill effects of the opportunity gap. If this continues, the middle class will start to smell.

• “That’s So 2007” — Murray’s response to anyone thinking the state budget can be like it was before the Great Recession. Also the title of an upcoming sitcom on Lifetime.

• Wag More, Bark Less — What House budget chairman Ross Hunter promises, in contrast to his current preference to bark more and wag his finger.

• Cradle to Career — How League of Education Voters boss Chris Korsmo describes the scope of the state’s responsibilities for educating our kids. This should be no problem since we’ve done such a smashing job with kindergarten through 12th grade.

• Scrubbing the State and Nation — While this would be great way to describe Inslee’s economic development plan for green technology, it was actually his way of showing how hard he is looking for appointees to his cabinet.

• Crime Against Nature — Not what you think. Inslee used this term to describe the unspeakable act of not producing enough science, technology, engineering and math graduates to take all the jobs that Microsoft has to offer.

• Platitudes and Placations — What House Republican Leader Richard DeBolt said he would like to avoid this session. At first I thought he said “playcations” and then realized there is nothing fun about the Legislature.

• Hoopaholic — A basketball addiction that Inslee admitted to during a press conference last week. This is an especially debilitating dependency because anyone who attempts a 12-step program is called for traveling.