By Peter Callaghan June 25, 2014 6 a.m.
Steve Kirby is considered one of the funnier members of the Washington Legislature. Low bar, perhaps, but the South Tacoma Democrat usually finds a way to make light of situations, like his re-election campaigns.
By Peter Callaghan June 18, 2014 6 a.m.
It was natural for people who follow education policy and politics to use sweeping, even apocalyptic language in reaction to a California legal decision last week. The decision in Vergara v. California found a trio of that state's teacher-protection laws unconstitutional after plaintiffs proved that leaving "grossly ineffective teachers" in place has a disproportional impact on poor and minority students.
By Peter Callaghan June 11, 2014 6 a.m.
There was a time in Washington when legislators facing re-election had to stop taking advantage of taxpayer-funded staff and resources three weeks before they filed for office.
By Peter Callaghan June 4, 2014 6 a.m.
How the Washington Supreme Court would respond to the Legislature's latest filing on compliance with the McCleary school-funding ruling if the justices weren't so polite:
By Peter Callaghan May 28, 2014 6 a.m.
The springtime ritual of campus crusades against commencement speakers is less about disregard for free speech and more about the sense that graduation is about the graduates and the graduates only.
By Peter Callaghan May 21, 2014 6 a.m.
There's something about Washington's 2014 election that isn't quite right. Even after getting its official kickoff with last week's filing period, it feels a bit off.
By Peter Callaghan May 14, 2014 6 a.m.
It's filing week in Washington, the time when candidates put their name on the line for a shot at being underpaid and under-appreciated — and that's if they win.
By Peter Callaghan May 7, 2014 6 a.m.
The state of Washington has all but privatized tourism and visitor promotion. A bill passed last session, House Bill 2229, creates a mechanism to collect money from hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions and retailers to pay for a promotion effort. The Washington Tourism Alliance must decide before the end of the year how to apportion the payments to raise $7.5 million.
By Peter Callaghan April 23, 2014 6 a.m.
Rodney Tom is an unlikely political leader. That's because unlike the caricature that was created by opponents as the man who would be king, Tom isn't all that political — at least not in a partisan political sense.
By Peter Callaghan April 9, 2014 6 a.m.
In an announcement that was shocking though not unexpected, Washington's school superintendent and the head of the teachers union said they would move the public school system to another state unless it received more money from taxpayers.
By Peter Callaghan April 2, 2014 6 a.m.
If you're a consumer of political news, keep in mind this important rule: "Every prediction about the next election made in the immediate aftermath of the last election is wrong."
By Peter Callaghan March 26, 2014 6 a.m.
That paraphrase of Mark Twain was how state Supreme Court Justice James Johnson began his call the morning after he announced his resignation for health reasons. No, he’s not terminally ill, Johnson said. Instead, two unrelated health issues combined to make it difficult to work.
By Peter Callaghan March 19, 2014 6 a.m.
I too am sick of contrived winners-and-losers lists that political reporters and columnists produce after sessions of the Legislature.
By Peter Callaghan March 12, 2014 6 a.m.
I'm a stickler for decorum and consistency, even when it comes to such details as logos. For example, I don't care how much money sports teams can make with different hats and uniform colors. I demand they never vary from what is official. A pink Yankees hat? The Babe would not be pleased.
By Peter Callaghan March 5, 2014 6 a.m.
Sometimes the best stuff is at the bottom of the press release and the end of the press conference.
By Peter Callaghan February 26, 2014 6 a.m.
A couple of other debates received most of the attention last week when the Legislature hit one of its self-imposed deadlines. The Senate considered and defeated a revision to the state's teacher and principal evaluation system. Later, the House took the Senate up on its offer of creating and funding a state version of the Dream Act to allow college-bound students without legal immigration status to still qualify for financial aid.
By Peter Callaghan February 12, 2014 6 a.m.
Lots of stuff gets introduced in the Washington Legislature that is never heard from again.
By Peter Callaghan February 5, 2014 6 a.m.
When there is no apparent public policy reason for a bill that looks a lot like political revenge, it is usually safe to conclude that it is the latter.
By Peter Callaghan January 29, 2014 6 a.m.
Legislative Democratic leaders have a new myth to go along with their longtime favorite, the Loophole Fairy. The Loophole Fairy fuels the belief that every tough budget problem would magically disappear if only Congress could close unneeded tax breaks. While such loopholes may exist, the political will to close any is in short supply.
By Peter Callaghan January 22, 2014 6 a.m.
In her majority opinion in McCleary v. State of Washington, state Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens knew she was wading into unfamiliar waters.
By Peter Callaghan January 15, 2014 6 a.m.
I'm not sure how to break this to all of those in the region getting revved up over the current edition of the Seattle Seahawks, so I will try the direct route.
By Peter Callaghan December 11, 2013 6 a.m.
It's a dance performed around the state a couple of times each year. A member of the Legislature or county government resigns — to take on a different office or to "spend more time with my family." The local party apparatus begins a process that gives them relevance: the constitutional duty to nominate three people for the vacant post. Then, the county legislative authority — county councils or county commissions — appoints one of the three.
By Peter Callaghan December 4, 2013 6 a.m.
So a couple of state Senate staffers are told they won't have jobs by the end of the year. Big deal, right?
By Peter Callaghan November 27, 2013 6 a.m.
A recent statewide poll suggests a large majority of Washington voters would have ratified the contract that Boeing presented to its Machinists union earlier this month.
By Peter Callaghan November 13, 2013 6 a.m.
One after another, the state's business and local government leaders took to the microphone to praise Boeing last week.
By Peter Callaghan November 6, 2013 6 a.m.
It is central to Washington’s economic and education policies, as it is in most states: Increase the number of residents with college degrees and certificates, and you make them more prosperous and the state more competitive.
By Peter Callaghan October 23, 2013 6 a.m.
I wasn't as shocked as some last week when the state Supreme Court found that governors have a constitutional exemption from disclosing certain documents to the public. Since I'd been denied records by a former governor who cited executive privilege, a decision backed up by a past attorney general, I assumed there was a strong likelihood the court would side with those who felt executive privilege existed.
By Peter Callaghan October 16, 2013 6 a.m.
In hopes of adding to America's lack of knowledge of public affairs, we ask 30 questions but provide absolutely zero answers.
By Peter Callaghan October 9, 2013 6 a.m.
I always look forward to the filings and oral arguments by the plaintiffs — and winners — of the landmark litigation known as McCleary v. State of Washington.
By Peter Callaghan September 18, 2013 6:01 a.m.
What are we all to make of the complex international and national events that are filling cable TV news, at least until the next Zimmerman trial? At times when complex questions abound, simplistic answers from The Answer Man are more needed than ever.
By Peter Callaghan August 21, 2013 6:01 a.m.
When it comes to education reform, Washington state lives by this guiding principle: Anything worth doing is worth doing as sloooooowly as possible.
By Peter Callaghan August 7, 2013 6:01 a.m.
I'm going to simplify things and assume that every Major League Baseball player doing well is using performance-enhancing drugs.
By Peter Callaghan July 24, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Waste, fraud and abuse, Tim Eyman style: Washington taxpayers will pony up $240,000 for a government program that has dubious benefits and has been proved ineffective. Sounds like a job for Tim Eyman? Well, no, because this example of the waste of tax dollars is his creation.
By Peter Callaghan July 17, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Elections officials worship at the altar of voter turnout. For them, it is the one measure of the effectiveness of their staffs and their own self-worth. The county auditor with the highest turnout is exalted at the next auditor convention, winning applause and the right to be the first one through the buffet line.
By Peter Callaghan July 10, 2013 6:01 a.m.
I'm Washington state. And I'm a loophole–aholic."
By Peter Callaghan June 26, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Meet state Sen. Don Benton: born-again champion of the respectful workplace.
By Peter Callaghan June 19, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Gov. Jay Inslee's press secretary characterized the lack of information about a state government shutdown that might happen July 1 like this: "There are more Qs than As right now."
By Peter Callaghan June 12, 2013 6:01 a.m.
People often ask me, "Why can't the Washington State Legislature be more like Congress?"
By Peter Callaghan May 29, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Three columns, none deserving of full treatment:
By Peter Callaghan May 22, 2013 6:01 a.m.
It's sometimes called the "real" unemployment rate and it's always the number preferred by out-of-power politicians who use it as proof that the economy isn't as good as the incumbent president or governor says it is.
By Peter Callaghan May 15, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Everyone knows that if Gov. Jay Inslee really wanted the state Legislature to finish its work quickly — especially passing a two-year budget that boosts funding for public education — he should have brought them back into special session immediately.
By Peter Callaghan May 8, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Here's something to contemplate during the Legislature's version of spring break: the difficult job of finding $1 billion-plus in additional state money for public schools might be the easy part of meeting the state Supreme Court's mandate in the McCleary decision.
By Peter Callaghan April 17, 2013 6:01 a.m.
A white tent marked something of a milestone for the long process of expanding the reach of Sound Transit's Link light-rail line in Tacoma. Inside the tent next to the Tacoma Dome station earlier this month, the latest of a series of open houses was hosted by the regional transit agency to let folks comment on plans to grow the line that has been running for 10 years.
By Peter Callaghan April 10, 2013 6:01 a.m.
In his first three months in office, Gov. Jay Inslee hasn't been especially active in the legislative process. Compared to his predecessor, Chris Gregoire, who was perhaps a bit hyperactive, Inslee has been more hands off. Other than his recent assertive condemnation of a Senate budget proposal, his engagement has been limited.
By Peter Callaghan April 3, 2013 6:01 a.m.
When he was the director of the Washington State Association of Counties, Gary Lowe was one of my go-to guys for perspective on how things worked in the state Legislature … and why. Lowe was just cynical enough to be realistic about the failings of the process and just idealistic enough to keep trying.
By Peter Callaghan March 27, 2013 6:01 a.m.
It's No. 51 on the "Jacobsen and Metcalf Laws of Parliamentary Democracy."
By Peter Callaghan March 20, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Elected officials, especially one as prominent as a governor, tend to accumulate enemies. Booth Gardner, who died Friday night, is the exception to the rule. When he left office after two terms as Washington's 19th governor, his approval-to-disapproval ratio was two-to-one -- robust enough that he probably could have won a third term if he wanted. He didn't, which is also rare for a politician (and explains a bit about why he remained popular).
By Peter Callaghan March 13, 2013 6:01 a.m.
Former Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire may still get asked to serve in President Obama's administration. But if the call doesn't come, she has no one to blame but herself.
By Peter Callaghan March 6, 2013 6:01 a.m.
The biggest surprise about last week's state Supreme Court ruling on the two-thirds tax-hike initiative is how surprised so many people were -- or pretended to be -- about the outcome. The only real mystery about the ruling was whether the court would finally find a way to endorse what most lawyers and legal scholars already knew -- that the state constitution reserves to itself the number of legislative votes needed to raise taxes.
By Peter Callaghan February 27, 2013 6:01 a.m.
How do you know when a politician is getting ready to restrict public access to government records? When they say how much they support public access to public records. That was the pattern during a recent hearing in Olympia on a bill to give local governments the right to drag their constituents into court to keep them from getting otherwise public records.