Political Buzz

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Archives: Jan. 2009

Jan.
30th

Report: Adam Smith leads delegation to Syria

From Les Blumenthal in our D.C. bureau



U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Tacoma, may find himself in the middle of the Middle East peace process.


CBS news is reporting the Washington Democrat is leading a delegation of House Armed Services Committee members to Syria. The report said the delegation was dispatched by the Obama administration and will meet with senior Syrian officials. The U.S. Embassy in Damascus confirmed the delegation was on its way.


Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is hoping for a thaw in Syrian-U.S. relations after years of

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Jan.
30th

Sound off on Pierce County’s ranked choice voting system

Want to weigh in on Pierce County’s ranked choice voting system? You’ll have two chances next week.


On Monday the County Council’s Rules Committee will consider an ordinance asking voters to consider repealing ranked choice voting (here’s a copy of the ordinance and an accompanying exhibit). Opponents of ranked choice voting – used for the first time in November – say it costs too much and isn’t needed now that the state has adopted the top two primary system. Supporters say voters should give it another try before deciding whether it’s worth keeping.


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Jan.
29th

Tacoma rape case to be cited in support of bill to collect DNA


The House Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Committee will be holding a hearing next Tuesday at 10 a.m. on Rep. Mark Miloscia‘s proposal to have Washington law enforcement authorities collect DNA samples from people they arrest on felony charges.


Current law says cops should collect DNA swaps only after conviction of the suspect.


Here is a link to my Dec. 28, 2008 story.


The woman I mentioned in that story, Jayann Sepich of New Mexico, whose daughter was killed, will be testifying in favor of the measure.


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Jan.
29th

Correction: Tolls on 520 would be same as those on Narrows


Or pretty close to the same. Yesterday, I posted an item that said it looked as if tolls on the Highway 520 bridge would average only $2.92 in 2016, when tolls on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge would be $6.


Turns out, I overlooked a key element of the report: Toll on 520 will be in EACH direction, not in only ONE direction, as is the case on the new Narrows Bridge. So, I have to double the 520 toll for a roundtrip, making it $5.86.


That’s close enough to $6.

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Jan.
29th

Local civil activists a concern for Homeland Security?

The local civil liberties activists who have been fighting the Northwest Detention Center (among other things) have unearthed a Homeland Security document that raises a few questions about the extent to which the government has been monitoring local political protests and events. A spokesman with the ACLU in Seattle said this week they’re trying to figure out what approach to take to get at some of the answers.

The document, which they’ve posted here, is a calendar from 2006 of events by “various civil activists and extremists groups” that have been flagged as having possible intelligence significance.

But the Bill of Rights Defense Committee – Tacoma and the ACLU want to know what information, if any, the government is collecting on citizens who are exercising their right to assemble and voice political opinions.

While the list contains events for white supremacy groups, the vast majority of groups the government was flagging as gatherings of note were anti-war demonstrations.

This local one was a real head-scratcher — note the source: ICE FIU stands for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s field intelligence unit:

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Jan.
29th

What makes Pat McCarthy angry

New Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy and her top deputy, Kevin Phelps, came in this morning for a conversation with the News Tribune’s Editorial Board. They touched on many subjects, but the most interesting part of the session was her outrage over the short-changing of Pierce County in the governor’s proposed transportation budget.

As our own Joe Turner has revealed, Pierce County projects – including new HOV lanes on I5 and expansion of Highway 167 – have been pushed out for five years or more on the schedule, making it likely that they will never get built. Those are projects promised as part of the voter-approved gas tax increase. In the meantime, it’s full-steam-ahead with the massive viaduct replacement and 520 bridge projects in King County.

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Jan.
29th

One third of people on general assistance have a drug problem


I got a few e-mails from folks who thought my story in last Saturday’s paper misled readers about the governor’s proposal to eliminate the General Assistance Unemployable program and cut off benefits for 16,000 people.


They said it gave readers the impression that all the people with drug and alcohol additions were enrolled in ADATSA (Alcohol and Drug Abuse Treatment Support Act) program, where they get money only if they get drug treatment. Not so, they said.


Thirty-two percent of the folks on GAU have drug or alcohol problems (along

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Jan.
29th

‘Sacred cows make good hamburger’


That’s a direct quote from state Sen. Ken Jacobsen, D-Seattle.


I think he is alluding to Gov. Chris Gregoire‘s remark in her 2nd Inaugural Address about “putting sacred cows out to pasture.”


(No one is sure whether she was referring only to getting rid of some 700 boards and commissioner, or wants to go beyond that particular herd and do something more substantive.)


Jake’s is the best quote of the session, so far.


By the way, at last count, Jacobsen had sponsored 58 bills this session. His record

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