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Archives: June 2008


Towing companies file lawsuit over Pierce County contract

Local companies that lost the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department towing contract have filed a lawsuit against the owner of Gene’s Towing, which won the contract.

The lawsuit, filed last Friday in Pierce County Superior Court, contends that Gene’s owner Michael Myers urged other companies to boycott the contract, then submitted the only bid.

In an interview in March, Myers denied the allegations. And the sheriff’s department accused the other companies of trying to hold taxpayers hostage with their boycott.

Read the press released announcing the lawsuit below:

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Gov. Gregoire in Tacoma on Monday to see what home care workers do for the $10 an hour the state pays them

Hmmmm. I wonder if Gov. Chris Gregoire also will be collecting signatures on Initiative 1029, the measure that would require the state to spend about $75 million to provide training for between 25,000 and 35,000 home care workers who are represented by the Service Employees International Union Local 775.

I mean, the union has until 5 p.m. Thursday to collect 224,880 valid signatures on I-1029 to get it onto the November general election ballot, so a few more signature certainly wouldn’t hurt.

It should be noted that Gregoire’s office currently is negotiating with SEIU Local 775 on a new two-year contract that will decide how much of a raise, what kind of additional benefits and how much training the state will pay for in the 2009-11 biennium. (Next year’s Legislature must approve it, too.)

It also should be noted that SEIU is helping pay for those radio adds that are telling voters how great she is and how rotten Republican Dino Rossi is. (The ads are running to counter the Building Association Industry Washington ads that blame traffic congestion and proliferation of sex offenders and most other ills in the state on Gregoire.)

So, I’m wondering exactly what kind of shoes the governor will be walking in, lowly-paid-home-care-worker shoes or in-your-face-militant-union-boss shoes?

Here’s the release from Gregoire’s campaign:

Governor ready to "Walk a Day" in homecare worker’s shoes

Gregoire is first sitting governor to participate in national program

TACOMA – Gov. Chris Gregoire will participate with SEIU Local 775 in their "Walk a Day In My Shoes" program. This national effort invites state and federal candidates to spend time on the job with an SEIU member in either a nursing home or homecare setting. Time with the employee will give the governor an even better sense of the work performed by a long-term care employee, the challenges they face, and the needs that exist.

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Tacoma voters could decide this fall whether to eliminate term limits

The City Council is scheduled to vote Tuesday on a resolution that would put the question to voters in November.

Currently, the City Charter says no one can serve more than 10 consecutive years as mayor or council member, or any combination thereof. That usually limits council members to two four-year terms, but it’s possible for someone to serve longer if they are appointed to an unfinished term.

The resolution proposed by Councilwoman Connie Ladenburg would ask voters if they want to repeal that section of the charter and remove

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Teachers union switches horses; now backs Dorn over Bergeson

As we reported yesterday, the Washington Education Association is now shifting its support from former Richland School Superintendent Richard Semler to former state Rep. Randy Dorn.

Semler dropped out. So now the 81,000-member union is supporting Dorn in his run against three-term incumbent Terry Bergeson.

Washington’s Educators Continue to Continue to Choose Randy Dorn Over Bergeson

Washington Education Association Endorses Randy Dorn

Former Candidate Richard Semler, and Vocational Educators Also Support Dorn

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Tuesday: Gas Tax goes up 1.5 cents; Narrows Toll is $1 higher and Hands-free cell phone law takes effect

Happy Fiscal New Year!

A lot of things related to state government take effect on July 1 of every year and 2008 is no exception.

That’s because July 1 is the first day of the state’s fiscal year. So a lot of things will take effect on Tuesday. Here’s three of the things that will affect pretty large groups of people:

1. The final increment of the 9.5-cent-per-gallon increase in the gas tax, which was approved by the Legislature in 2005. That makes the total state gas tax 37.5 cents a gallon.

2. The standard toll on the new Tacoma Narrows Bridge will rise by $1. It will be $4 for those who stop to pay at a toll booth and $2.75 for those who have windshield transponders for automatic electronic collection.

3. Law enforcement officers will start writing tickets for motorists who hold a cell phone up to their ears while they are driving. (It’s a secondary offense, so you’d have to be doing something else wrong first.)
A ticket is $124.

Here is the officials news release from the Washington State Patrol on how it plans to enforce the cell phone law.

Drivers using cell phones must have headset or speaker phone

(Olympia) – Starting July 1, the Washington State Patrol will begin enforcing a new law requiring drivers talking on cell phones to use a headset or speaker-phone. WSP Chief John R. Batiste said if you hold a cell phone up to your ear while driving you could pay a $124 fine.

"When you’re driving you need to be driving," Batiste said. "We’d prefer that drivers didn’t talk on their cell phones at all. But if you must, please stay safe by using a headset or speaker-phone."

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Sound Transit survey: Most want to vote soon on plan

The writing is on the wall. It’s looking more and more as if there will be a multibillion-dollar bus-and-rail measure on the ballot this fall.

Respondents also expressed urgency around when to move forward with a new transit ballot measure: 76 percent favor a 2008 vote, 10 percent favor a 2010 vote, 3 percent favor voting after 2010 and 5 percent said never.

Although Sound Transit notes its poll is not scientific, they continue to build a case for another vote on transit. This one will be about $10 billion instead of $18 billion, the amount of Proposition 1, which was trounced at the polls last November.

Here’s Sound Transit’s release:


Citizens speak out on mass transit expansion options

The Sound Transit Board today heard the public’s latest input on expanding the region’s mass transit system. The Board thanked the thousands of community members who responded to the call to help shape the expansion options through 6,077 responses to a Website and telephone questionnaire and 4,015 written responses.

The input reflects a strong sense of urgency for expanding light rail, commuter rail and regional express bus service around the region. Among citizens who took the non-scientific questionnaire:
–91 percent say it’s extremely or somewhat urgent to expand mass transit
–81 percent say it’s extremely or somewhat urgent to add more light rail
–81 percent say it’s extremely or somewhat urgent to add more commuter rail
–81 percent say it’s extremely or somewhat urgent to add more express bus

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Will Randy Dorn pick up endorsement from teachers’ union?

It sure looks like it.

Richard Semler, the hand-picked candidate of the 81,000-member Washington Education Association union, dropped out of the race. So, if he’s holding a joint news conference with Randy Dorn to “announce two major developments” my guess is he will say (1)he’s backing Dorn and (2)so is the powerful union.

And then Dorn will go after 12-year incumbent Terry Bergeson with a whole lot of clout on his side. He’s already got the backing of his own Public School Employees Association and its 24,000 members. (Dorn is that union’s executive director.)

MEDIA ADVISORY—Event on June 27, 2008

Contact: Robert Harkins, office, 253-833-9253

Dr. Richard Semler to Make Major Announcement
in Tri-Cities on SPI Race and candidate Randy Dorn

(Pasco)—On Friday, June 27, 2008, at 11:00 AM, Randy Dorn and Dr. Richard Semler will make a joint appearance in Pasco to announce two major developments in Dorn’s race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

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Most Washington drivers think cell phone law falls short

PEMCO Insurance hired a company to do the polling in February. They asked 766 people and 60 percent of them said talking on a hand-held cell phone while driving should be a primary offense.

On Tuesday, a new law takes effect in Washington that makes such activity a “secondary” offense, which means a driver would have to be caught doing something else wrong before he or she could be ticketed for talking on a cell phone. The ticket will be $124.

Here’s the full release from PEMCO Insurance, which has some interest in drivers paying attention to what they’re doing since their insurance will have to pay for whatever they smash into while they’re distracted on their cell phones.

News Release
June 26, 2008

PEMCO Insurance Poll Shows Washington Drivers
Think New Cell Phone Law Falls Short

SEATTLE – According to a recent poll conducted by PEMCO Insurance, while Washington drivers agree that the steady rise in cell phone usage while behind the wheel calls for changes to state law, most think the impending July 1 change making it illegal to use a cell phone without a hands-free device while driving doesn’t go far enough.

Of those polled, a majority (60 percent) support making cell phone-usage violations a primary offense, allowing law enforcement to cite violators solely for text-messaging or talking on a cell phone while driving. However, the approved law is a secondary offense, which requires motorists be in violation of a primary offense before they can be cited for using a cell phone while driving.

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