Inside Opinion

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Tag: Hans Zeiger

June
27th

State commerce in the grip of the GOP

This editorial will appear in Friday’s print edition.

The job’s not done yet, lawmakers. Now it’s highway time.

It’s great that the Legislature’s Republicans and Democrats finally settled on a state operating budget that reportedly directs an additional $1 billion to schools. We’re looking forward to seeing the details, where the devil often resides.

But the passage of an operating budget was always a foregone conclusion, despite the months of bickering over its specific provisions. The Washington Constitution requires the Legislature to approve one.

A genuine accomplishment of this Legislature – that includes you, Republican senators – would be passage of a transportation budget to unplug bottlenecked corridors where the state’s freight and traffic are now getting slowly strangled.

The $10 billion package – approved Thursday by the House of Representatives – is of paramount importance to the state’s economy.

Only one Republican – Puyallup’s Hans Zeiger – had the guts to support it. Most other lawmakers in his party appear willing to kill it for one reason: The highway improvements require new tax revenue. These legislators chatter about massive reforms in the Department of Transportation and other near-term impossibilities, but it really comes down to evading a tax vote.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious, roads and bridges don’t grow on trees. Santa Claus doesn’t lug them down the chimney. You’ve got to buy them.

If you don’t need them, that’s one thing. But Washington sorely needs strategic investment in its infrastructure – in Spokane, at Snoqualmie Pass, on Interstate 405 and other places where cargo and cars are getting halted for lack of road capacity.

State Route 167 is the poster child of lost economic opportunity. That highway passes from I-405 through Renton, Kent and Auburn – only to get guillotined at Puyallup. A mere six miles separate it from the Port of Tacoma and the I-5 corridor.
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May
18th

The Puget Sound Gateway needs heroes in Olympia

This editorial will appear in Sunday’s print edition.

Take a good look at the list in the next post.

Those 24 lawmakers have the power to create nearly 100,000 jobs and keep Pacific Rim shipping pouring into Puget Sound through the 21st century.

Yet those same lawmakers could also help forfeit 100,000 jobs. For lack of interest or courage, they could allow the ports of Tacoma and Seattle to become backwaters of maritime commerce — which supports more than 200,000 livelihoods.

The decision before these South Sound legislators is whether to throw their combined weight behind the Puget Sound Gateway to secure its passage in the special session of the Legislature.

The Gateway is a $1.8 billion project that would extend state Route 167 from Puyallup to the Port of Tacoma, state Route 509 from Sea-Tac Airport to Interstate 5 and build strategic interchanges to create a transportation super-corridor in Pierce and King counties.

It’s an expensive project: Highways don’t come cheap. Regardless, the future of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, the preservation of jobs, the expansion of payrolls, and the efficiency of Interstate 5 all depend on passage of the $1.8 billion Gateway project.

Because it will require gas taxes and tolls, the Legislature won’t touch it in 2014, an election year. And there’s no reason to believe it will pass in 2015 if it can’t pass this year. Business and labor organizations are pulling together to get it to the governor’s desk as part of a larger transportation package.

But so far, there has been no corresponding push from what might be called the Pierce County caucus. (We’re including the three lawmakers from the 30th District in the Federal Way area.)
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Oct.
14th

Our choices for the 2nd and 25th legislative districts

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Politically, Pierce County’s 2nd and 25th legislative districts look red and purple. The November election will tell us just how red and how purple.

The 2nd is rural and conservative. It encompasses a strip of East Thurston County, including Yelm, and an enormous swath of southeast Pierce County, including Eatonville and Mount Rainier.

The district’s Senate seat is now held by Republican Randi Becker of Eatonville, who ousted Democrat Marilyn Rasmussen four years ago. She has a strong Democratic challenger in Bruce Lachney of Eatonville – a farmer, retired airline pilot and former member of the Eatonville School Board.

He’d be a fine state senator. We’re inclined to stick to Becker, a retired medical clinic administrator, who’s now had four years of experience in this office and has seen some successes despite being in the Senate minority.

The state redistricting commission gave the district a windfall last year when it drew state Rep. Gary Alexander out of the 20th and into the 2nd.
Alexander, a career budget manager who now works as Thurston County’s deputy auditor of finance, is the senior Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee.

He’s a bulldog, and his influence will serve the area well. His Democratic opponent, Greg Hartman of Graham, should be thanked for making this a contest, but Alexander is the clear choice in this race for Position 1.

Speaking of competition, Republican J.T. Wilcox has none in Position 2.
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July
15th

Our choices in 2nd and 25th District legislative races

This editorial will appear in Monday’s print edition.

Democrats have their work cut out for them if they hope to win back seats in two Republican-leaning East Pierce County legislative districts.

Even the fact that the D’s have two standout candidates might not be enough. In recent years, the 2nd and 25th districts’ legislative seats have gone almost all Republican, with the only Democrat remaining being the 25th’s Jim Kastama. He’s running for secretary of state instead of for re-election to his Senate seat, so the two districts might turn completely Republican in November.

• In the 2nd District, incumbent Republican state Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville is seeking a second term. She’s being challenged by another Republican, James E. Vaughn of Orting. In 2008, Vaughn ran as a Democrat against Congressman Dave Reichert. Read more »

Oct.
12th

Many candidates silent on open government

If government accountability and transparency matter to you (as they should), head over to the Washington Coalition for Open Government’s website to see which candidates have gone on the record about making state and local government more accessible.

WCOG quizzed candidates around the state on 11 key priorities, many of them proposals for changes to state law. Among the 80 or so who responded, I count nine South Sound candidates (in addition to a couple of candidates who were eliminated in the primary election). That leaves a whole lot of questionnaires that have gone unreturned by the people vying

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Sep.
13th

Republican vs. Republican in the 25th District

Steve Vermillion, an unsuccessful Republican candidate for the House in the 25th district, is breaking the GOP’s 11th commandment – “Thou shalt not speak ill of another Republican.” In this (condensed) email missive, he tells us why he’s endorsing the Democratic incumbent, Dawn Morrell, instead of the Republican who beat him in the August primary, Hans Zeiger:

In hopes that a “mystery box” of missing ballots would appear with sufficient votes to move me into second place, my hopes were extinguished with my wife’s reminder that we lived in Pierce not King County and the likelihood of missing votes appearing was slim to none.

Zeiger asked for my endorsement, which I declined to give him. Early on, I told the folks in the Pierce County GOP that I had no intention of supporting him should be win in the primary as I do not think he is remotely qualified to be in the Legislature.

I have been asked to at least remain neutral, which were my plans until Zeiger recently moved into his cover-up mode by working to delete many of his controversial writings. I expect that he is working on his “dishonorable” scout badge for the next level of his scouting adventures.
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