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Archives: April 2011

April
15th

Rainier School closure removed from Senate budget, but left as option

The Senate Ways and Means Committee removed from its budget this evening an order to close Rainier School in Buckley and Frances Haddon Morgan Center in Bremerton.

However, the budget retains a requirement that two of the state’s five facilities for the developmentally disabled be closed. The facilities go unnamed.

Sen. Jim Kastama, one of the Pierce County senators who sought the change, said there is more work to be done in the budget to make certain Rainier School does not close. But he thinks the Pierce County delegation can find support.

“There were a number of us who said

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April
15th

UPDATED: Special session is now certain

You might as well count on it. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown just confirmed what other lawmakers are saying: A special session is lurking around the corner.

Gov. Chris Gregoire was even more clear a couple of hours later.

The scheduled end of the 105-day regular session is Sunday, April 24, meaning its final days would fall on Easter weekend.

Read full post.

April
15th

Tacoma Rainiers’ consultant blasts councilman in email string

With the City of Tacoma and Tacoma Rainiers set to celebrate Opening Day at a newly renovated Cheney Stadium tonight, a behind-the-scenes — if disparaging — email discussion among key city and team officials late last month has emerged courtesy of the state’s public records act.


Patterson

In the email thread, Steve Patterson, a consultant for the Rainiers — the minor-league tenant of the city-owned ballpark that’s set to host its first game tonight after $30 million of improvements — blasts Councilman David Boe for “secretly misus(ing) his public position to line his own private pockets.”


Boe

Patterson’s email comes amid a discussion among some city and team officials about how to respond to questions Boe originally sent to City Manager Eric Anderson after reading The News Tribune’s story last month about a controversial procurement process in the ballpark renovation project. (Neither Anderson nor Boe are included on the email thread).

Among other things, Boe wondered in his email to Anderson sent Mar. 20 if the city faced paying any monetary damages should the ballpark renovations not be completely finished by an April 1 deadline. Boe also wondered if a public demonstration area had been identified at the ballpark. (Ensuing emails show that neither Rainiers’ President Aaron Artman nor Patterson were agreeable to a demonstration area, although Mike Combs, the city’s Public Assembly Facilities Director, noted that such areas are protected by federal law.)

To Boe’s questions, Patterson responded to the group:

Gentlemen,
At the last OAC meeting we discussed that the gas will be in by the 25th. Substantial completion with a punchlist is not the same as having every last item done and doesn’t relieve Mortenson of the obligation to finish the punchlist. Boe is grandstanding. The deal was never that every punchlist item would be done by April 1, and he knows the difference. He’s using his usual prevarication just as a way to gig us all. At the rate we’re going now we should be substantially complete on time with a punchlist. The punchlist for the offices and Summit Club space was pretty short. That gives us two weeks before any games and liquidated damages discussion. I’d find it difficult to imagine we won’t be able to play on the 15th.
The team’s lease doesn’t provide any space for demonstrations.
I see no reason to entertain any suggestions from someone who tried to secretly misuse his public position to line his own private pockets.

Patterson’s comments appear aimed at Boe’s involvement with one of the ballpark renovation project’s losing bid teams — a relationship that ultimately drew an ethics complaint against him.
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April
15th

Gov. Gregoire signs ‘fair share’ law for mental hospitals

The “fair share” law that aims to keep counties like Pierce and Spokane from taking a disproportionate share of released offenders was expanded today when Gov. Chris Gregoire signed a bill applying its restrictions to state psychiatric hospitals.

Sen. Mike Carrell, R-Lakewood, introduced SB 5105, which requires Western State and Eastern State hospitals to release criminally insane patients into their county of origin, similar to requirements for prisons under a 2007 law.

Exceptions can be made due to worries about the safety of victims in the offenders’ home counties, the location of families, the availability

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April
15th

Special session looking more certain

You might want to count on it. Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown just confirmed what other lawmakers are saying: A special session is lurking around the corner.

The scheduled end of the 105-day regular session is Sunday, April 24, meaning the final days are on Easter weekend. “We’re going to be coming in to work next week. It’s fairly ambitious to think we’ll get the whole budget negotiated within that time frame,” Brown told reporters in Olympia this afternoon.

Read full post.

April
15th

ROLL CALL: How S. Sound lawmakers voted on medical pot, teacher layoffs, I-405 tolls

Here is how South Sound lawmakers voted recently on selected bills, as compiled by WashingtonVotes.org. Visit Washington Votes for a searchable database of issues and votes.

House Bill 1267, Clarifies the rights and obligations of domestic partners and the use of paid surrogacy
E2SHB 1267, which passed the Senate by a vote of 27 to 21, would amends the state’s Uniform Parentage Act by expanding the rights and obligations of registered domestic partners. The Senate amended the bill to clarify the time under which a person can challenge or rescind parentage rights and removed provisions that would have allowed paid surrogacy in Washington. The Senate amendments also established new rules for surrogacy contracts, requiring them to include certain requirements that must be met when entering into a contract. Under current state law, surrogacy is allowed, but not for compensation. The House, which previously passed E2SHB 1267, would have allowed for the use of paid surrogacy. The House did not agree with the Senate amendments and has requested a Conference Committee to work on a compromise.

VOTING YES: Sen. Karen Fraser, (D-Thurston County), Sen. Derek Kilmer, (D-Gig Harbor), Sen. Debbie Regala, (D-Tacoma), Sen. Steve Conway, (D-Tacoma), Sen. Tracey Eide, (D-Federal Way), Sen. Karen Keiser, (D-Kent), Sen. Joe Fain, (R – Auburn)

VOTING NO: Sen. Randi Becker, (R – Eatonville), Sen. Jim Kastama, (D-Puyallup), Sen. Michael Carrell, (R-Lakewood), Sen. Pam Roach, (R-Auburn)

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April
15th

Senate ‘willing to walk away’ from state bond projects

Construction projects paid for with state borrowing are popular with everyone, but that doesn’t keep them from becoming political footballs.

Senators who released a bipartisan construction budget earlier this week are threatening to scrap the bonds that it contains if the House doesn’t pass a constitutional amendment they favor.

House Republicans have also been using the bonds as a bargaining chip, as The Olympian’s Brad Shannon reported. They’re threatening to vote against them if Democrats don’t approve the Senate’s workers’ compensation bill.

Even a minority of lawmakers can gain leverage by holding up bonds because borrowing requires a 60 percent supermajority.

“It’s the one thing they have control over,” House Capital Budget Committee Chairman Hans Dunshee said, “so they’re thinking about all the things you can get for it at this point.”

But a move today by Dunshee aims to make it harder for lawmakers to vote against the debt. He merged the bond bill that authorizes borrowing money with the part of the capital budget that directs how that money will be spent. So anyone voting no could be accused of opposing all sorts of projects in their home districts.

Senators are undaunted. “They’re just playing games,” Republican Sen. Linda Evans Parlette of Wenatchee said. And Senate GOP Leader Mike Hewitt said if the debt issue isn’t addressed, Republicans are willing to oppose the bond projects and borrow no money: “We’re willing to walk away from everything.”

The authors of the capital budget, Parlette and Democrat Derek Kilmer of Gig Harbor, say they are preparing a cash-only alternative capital budget that would borrow no money but still fund K-12 construction and some other projects.

That’s leverage in Kilmer and Parlette’s push to pass a constitutional amendment to rein in state debt. The bill passed the Senate unanimously and is waiting for action by Dunshee’s committee. Read more »

April
15th

Harry P. Cain Promenade dedicated to former Tacoma mayor, U.S. Senator

The stretch of Broadway that was once the center of Tacoma’s Japantown was dedicated Friday to the memory of former Tacoma Mayor and U.S. Sen. Harry P. Cain.

The street between the Hotel Murano and the convention center was renamed by the Tacoma city council to honor a mayor first elected in 1940. The location is appropriate because Cain opposed the internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans during World Way II.

The name change was proposed by the late Joe Kosai as a way of honoring Cain who was loved by the area’s Japanese-American community. After Kosai’s death the cause was

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