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Archives: July 2010


Rossi, rivals sign on to tea party ‘Contract,’ want single tax rate

Republican Senate candidates Dino Rossi, Clint Didier and Paul Akers have signed on to the “Contract from America,” supported by many tea party groups and other conservative organizations.

The 10-point agenda, whose name is a takeoff of Republicans’ 1994 Contract With America, offers a series of promises for candidates running for Congress and other elected positions to adopt. Hundreds of candidates and a few members of Congress, including Washington state’s Rep. Cathy McMorris Rogers, have made the pledge.

The planks reflect an agenda of fiscal and economic conservatism aimed at small government and low taxes: repeal the federal

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UPDATED: City settles lawsuit with Clear Channel, allowing “digital billboards” to be installed

In a late addition to last night’s Tacoma City Council agenda, the city announced a settlement with Clear Channel Outdoor that will allow the company to replace some of its current “static” billboards with 10 “digital billboards” that can display multiple images.

The agreement allows Clear Channel to construct 10 digital billboards in various locations within 6 months of the agreement’s execution. A map attached to the settlement document indicates 17 “approximate locations” being considered for the 10 new digital billboard sites, most of which fall within City Council District 3, or central Tacoma.

But precise locations for the signs have not been decided upon — and won’t be until Clear Channel seeks permits for them, City Attorney Elizabeth Pauli said Wednesday. Before installing the new digital billboards, the company must remove 53 existing signs and relinquish 100 permits it now holds to build new billboards. Located around the city, the 53 signs to be removed are specified by address in the settlement agreement (see posted documents below).

For each additional digital billboard that the company wants to add in the future, it would require Clear Channel giving up a total of 15 existing signs and/or permits (5 of which must be existing signs). Under the formula, Clear Channel could maximize a total of 36 digital signs in Tacoma, if it gave up every existing sign and permit it now owns.

The settlement involves no monetary exchanges. It is expected to be executed within a few days, Pauli said. Adoption of a new related city ordinance regulating billboards and allowing the new digital ones has yet to be scheduled for consideration.

(Here’s a copy of the full settlement agreement, with addresses of the 53 signs to be removed, and “approximate locations” of where the 10 new digital signs could be located within six months). Clear Channel Settlement Agreement (2)
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Obama coming to Washington in August; maybe Palin too

President Barack Obama is coming to Seattle to headline a fundraiser for Sen. Patty Murray, the Seattle Times reports, quoting an unnamed White House official.

The Aug. 17 fundraiser will help launch Murray into the general election, assuming she survives the primary that same day. That’s when she faces off against 14 challengers, including Republicans Dino Rossi, Clint Didier and Paul Akers.

Didier told me today his most prominent backer, Sarah Palin, may come to Washington to stump for him.

He expects a visit between Aug. 1 and the primary, when he’ll try to knock off the better-known Rossi.


27th district Democrats: Fey gets sole endorsement

Tacoma’s 27th Legislative District Democrats have given their sole endorsement to Jake Fey in the wide-open race for a vacant state House seat, they announced today on their Facebook page.

That means the local party decided at its meeting last night to reject a dual endorsement for Fey and Laurie Jinkins. The local party voted to endorse both, but then found irregularities in the vote count and decided to re-vote.

Jinkins and Fey are among five candidates seeking the seat opened by Rep. Dennis Flannigan‘s retirement. Four of them are due to debate at a candidate forum tonight.


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Bad day for state education reform; feds say attempts to fix schools not enough to win Race To Top cash

Washington state is not among the finalists for Round Two of the federal Race To The Top competition.

Of the 36 states that applied for Round Two, 18 states and Washington, D.C. were invited to make a presentation to the Department of Education next month. Round Two winners will be announced in September, splitting up the remaining $3.4 billion in the pot.

It is especially punishing for Gov. Chris Gregoire who gambled that keeping the Washington Education Association in the fold – even at the cost of more-tepid reforms – was the key to winning some of the $3 billion left in the Race To The Top kitty.

Not even making the list of finalists is embarrassing and will give ammunition to those who think the state needs to be more aggressive in standards, teacher and district accountability and interventions in failing schools.

Here is a the joint statement from Gregoire, state schools chief Randy Dorn and state board of education chairman Jeff Vincent:

“Today’s news does not mean the end of meaningful education reform in Washington. When we put together our application, we were committed, win or lose, to making sure we would carry out education reform our way, the Washington way. Race to the Top enabled us to spend time creating a road map to our education reform efforts through a draft plan that reflected the work of many diverse groups as well as the good work started by our most recent education laws. We will finalize the plan this fall and use it to prioritize and allocate resources as we move ahead with our state education reform efforts. It is a plan that reflects our views and values, is unique to our state and one that we know will work.  In an increasingly competitive economy, we must ensure every child gets access to a quality education.
“We would like to thank and acknowledge the huge effort by everyone who helped put the application together. The staff in the governor’s office, the office of the superintendent of public instruction, the state board of education, our community partners and the hundreds of local districts, principals, superintendents, school boards and teachers unions who signed on did a tremendous amount of work to help get us this far.
“We are disappointed that the Department of Education did not select Washington to move forward in their competition for these federal education dollars. We knew the process would be extremely competitive.  During the first round, only two states were awarded the grant. This round, Washington was competing against 35 other states and the District of Columbia.”

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Bidder: Sound Transit disqualification for Tacoma project will cost taxpayers $800,000

Last week, we wrote about the progress of the long-awaited commuter rail line slated to connect south Tacoma to Lakewood. Sound Transit officials briefed Tacoma City Council members, telling them the project likely will kick off early this fall.

But there was one hitch, Sound Transit officials said: Due to a protest to the bidding process, there was a delay in the formal award of the contract for the construction work on the so-called “D to M Street” project in Tacoma’s Dome District.

In all, Sound Transit received seven bids for the project, with the lowest — a $40.8 million bid from MidMountain– coming in well below the agency’s $66.4 million estimate for the project.

But ultimately, Sound Transit disqualified that bid — on the grounds that MidMountain did not properly submit all required paperwork. Officials for the regional transit agency have said its board plans to award the contract instead to the next lowest bidder, PCL Construction Services, which came in with a $41.6 million bid.

A recommendation to award the contract to PCL will go before the board for official authorization at its meeting on August 26, Sound Transit spokeswoman Kimberly Reason said today.

But MidMountain hasn’t given up the fight. The Kirkland-based firm is poised to file its second formal protest to Sound Transit tomorrow (the company lost in its first appeal bid filed to the agency last week). The company is also now working with Seattle public relations firm, Firmani + Associates, Inc., to make their case: That ultimately it’s the taxpayers who stand to lose — to the tune of $800,000 — due to what MidMountain complains is little more than a minor paperwork snafu.

According to a press release issued today by PR consultant Mark Firmani, MidMountain was 20 minutes late in providing Sound Transit officials with a required form that certifies the company didn’t (and won’t) use federal money to lobby for the bid.

Firmani also told me in a phone call today that the form actually had been prepared as part of the firm’s bid packet, but was overlooked by a company representative who submitted the paperwork.

“It’s really the nightmare for anyone who’s ever turned in a homework assignment late,” Firmani said. The company staffer who submitted the bid accidentally “failed to empty out the entire brief case, leaving one form inside,” Firmani added.
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Democrats plan redo on endorsement vote

The 27th Legislative District Democrats plan to invalidate their vote to endorse state House candidate Laurie Jinkins and take a new vote tonight.

The local party voted last month to back Jinkins and Jake Fey in a dual endorsement. Fey had already been endorsed, so the vote would have kept him from being the sole “official” Democratic candidate.

Except: Right after the decision, the party found ineligible voters had apparently cast votes at their meeting.

Enough nonmembers voted to put into question the House endorsement and that of a candidate for District Court judge, Kevin McCann.

District chairwoman Gaynelle

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