Stories by Jim
There is an axiom in legislating, that when you have the votes to pass something, you shut up and cast them. When you don't have the votes, you talk. A corollary to that in this year's legislative session seems to be that when you don't have the votes, you offer up comments as quotable as possible. When you have the votes, you don't need to be pithy or clever; you speak as little as possible and cast them.
OLYMPIA — When a federal Cabinet secretary stopped by the Capitol earlier this month, trying to prod the Legislature into action on a big multistate project, he got a warm welcome from Gov. Jay Inslee. Not so much from Senate Republicans. So what would one expect for a member of a Democratic president's administration, you might be thinking. Considering it was Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman, some folks were expecting something a bit more politic.
A sign that Washington's campaign season remains in the doldrums despite the fact that ballots are in voters' hands arrived on July 27 with the announcement that two gubernatorial debates had been scheduled. One will be in Vancouver on Aug. 29 and another in Yakima on Oct. 2. This is great news, not solely because putting Jay Inslee and Rob McKenna on the same stage is instructive for voters and good theater for political junkies. These are also two places that often have little chance to get up close and personal with gubernatorial candidates, let alone host a debate.
Last week marked the official start of campaign season. Would-be officeholders filed the paperwork and plunked down the fees for the political position of their choice, or perhaps their dreams.
Candidates should act as though cameras are everywhere, because most likely they are. That’s the lesson of a 30-second exchange between Rob McKenna, the state attorney general who is running for governor, and a young woman on a Seattle sidewalk that went from pointed conversation to YouTube video overnight and resuscitated an issue Republicans were probably glad to have killed during the legislative session.
A week after the Legislature’s overtime session wrapped up, Democrats accused GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna of delaying the final compromise by politicizing the process. Sen. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, joined members of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee’s staff to accuse McKenna of using the budget stalemate “for political purposes” to push reform proposals.
OLYMPIA -- Now that the Legislature has wandered, bleary-eyed, out of town, would it be too much to hope they took some of their overworked phrases with them and didn’t bring them back?
Whether there’s a War on Women being waged by politicians around the country is open to debate. There is definitely a War Over the War On Women, and Washington state has a top commander on both sides of the battle lines.
During this legislative session in Olympia, transparency seems to be like one of those windows one sees on television cop shows, where officers watch through one-way glass as a detective grills the suspect. It’s transparent from the dark little room where other cops watch but reflectively opaque to the suspect.
A political website in the other Washington suggests a certain congresswoman from this Washington could get the No. 2 spot on the GOP presidential ticket this fall. The Daily Caller quotes Republican strategist Kellyanne Conway as saying U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers of Spokane would fill the bill as a vice presidential selection that “needs to be a surprise, but not a shocker.”
In trying to come up with a pithy description for the Legislature’s recent special session, I couldn’t shake the memory of a particularly annoying greeting adults seemed to enjoy during my teenage years: Working hard, or hardly working? Ask the handful of legislators involved in budget negotiations, they’d say the former. Ask many others in or around the Capitol, the judgment would likely be the latter. By outward appearances, the workload for this emergency session was disappointingly light. Even protesters from Occupy Olympia, who had to be escorted out of budget hearings and forcibly removed from the Capitol rotunda at the start of the first week, gave up any pretense of interest by the second.
The campaigns for and against the get-the-state-out-of-the-booze-biz initiative seem in a competition for “first responders” willing to endorse their stance. It started with the ad by Protect Our Communities, the official name of the No on I-1183 committee, which enlisted a county sheriff, a city police chief and a pair of firefighters to denounce the proposal. They look earnestly into the camera, sometimes with lights of emergency vehicles flashing in the background, to suggest the proposal is just a few short steps from turning Washington into a perpetual kegger for teens. Wait a minute, you might say when first seeing the ad. Isn’t the use of government equipment banned from campaigns for or against a candidate or ballot measure? Yes. But look closely and you’ll see that the vehicles aren’t identifiable as a particular department’s squad car or agency’s ambulance. They’re generic rentals, not actual emergency vehicles.
Whether she realized it or not last spring when wielding her “partial veto” pen, Gov. Chris Gregoire has prompted a hodgepodge of pot laws around the state and a fair amount of confusion among the cities. In Seattle, where possession of a small amount of marijuana is less likely to bring public condemnation than drinking mediocre coffee, medical marijuana dispensaries are being told to register as businesses, pay their taxes, meet building codes, and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. But be advised: No-smoking laws apply to smoking medical marijuana, too.