Inside Opinion

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Tag: Frank Chopp

March
29th

Stalemate creates bigger state budget hole

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

The governor is disgusted, and she’s not alone.

The legislative special session that was supposed to last seven days greets its 16th dawn today with little to show for the extra time.

Sightings of House Speaker Frank Chopp crossing the Capitol building to speak to Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown about a budget deal are what pass for news these days. As the House and Senate remain locked in a battle of wills over a tax package, most lawmakers have been sent home to await word of a compromise.

Legislative leaders beg for understanding, noting that this is the largest budget hole they’ve ever sought to sew up in a short 60-day session.

But the size of the shortfall hasn’t changed significantly since November. The gap was $2.6 billion late last year when Gov. Chris Gregoire released her all-cuts budget proposal; it has since inched up to $2.8 billion.

Read more »

March
22nd

Hilltop project fooled ’em in Olympia, too

This editorial will appear in Tuesday’s print edition.

Sausage-making doesn’t look any prettier in hindsight than it does in real time.

The 2007 legislative deal that secured $4 million in state funds for an ill-fated Hilltop business center was a masterful exercise in grinding out salami. As detailed Sunday by The News Tribune’s Lewis Kamb, former Tacoma Mayor Brian Ebersole and state Speaker of the House Frank Chopp combined forces to win that money for the Martin Luther King Housing Development Association.

The association was then run by Felix Flannigan, who’d hired Ebersole – a friend – as a lobbyist.
When the real estate market crashed, private lenders bailed and the project collapsed. Flannigan was fired by his board last July amid accusations of poor investments, secretive deals and misspent money.

We’ve seen no evidence that Flannigan broke laws or that Ebersole did anything worse than work the Legislature with supreme savvy. We don’t doubt the good intentions behind the plan and the effort to achieve it. Had the housing market not gone south, the taxpayers’ $4 million investment might have paid off with a major enhancement of the Hilltop’s business community. Read more »