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Archives: Aug. 2011


Steve O’Ban to speak to 28th District Republicans on Constitutional rights

University Place attorney Steve O’Ban will be the featured speaker at the Sept. 8 meeting of the 28th District Republican Club.

O’Ban, a former candidate for the state Legislature, has taken several cases involving religious freedom and other Constitutional rights to the state and U.S. supreme courts. O’Ban feels these rights are threatened by government-led erosion.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and will be held at the Weatherly Inn, 6016 Highland Parkway in Tacoma. The public is invited and a $5 donation is requested but not required. The club asks for RSVPs at char28@q.com.


Six more lawmakers take pay cuts

We’ve been keeping track of these since reporting that few state lawmakers had chosen to cut their own pay. Since then, dozens more have rushed to sign up for a pay cut, with many saying they didn’t know the option was available.

At least 48 lawmakers have now volunteered, just one shy of a third of the Legislature.

Signing up for a 3 percent cut since our update last week are Sens. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, and Don Benton, R-Vancouver, along with Reps. Richard DeBolt, R-Chehalis, Chris Reykdal, D-Tumwater, and Paul Harris, R-Vancouver.

Fraser had

Read more »


Supercommittee co-chairs Patty Murray and Jeb Hensarling issue joint statement, say they’re working on the details of committee structure

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, a Democrat from Washington, and U.S. Rep. Jeb Hensarling, a Republican from Texas, have the task of organizing the bipartisan committee to find $1.5 trillion in budget cuts.

Since everything requires agreement between politicians are different edges of the political spectrum, it might take awhile. This statement appears to be all that they could agree to say (which isn’t much).

Here it is::

“In the days since Leader Reid and Speaker Boehner asked us to undertake this joint responsibility, we have been working together to ensure that the committee we help build is given every opportunity

Read more »


Inspections of weatherized homes get scrutiny

The state’s home-weatherization program has seen its work multiply because of federal stimulus money. A performance audit released today by State Auditor Brian Sonntag‘s office found mixed results.

First, a look at the work that has been done with the help of nearly $60 million in Recovery Act funding for Washington:

The projects — meant to reduce energy use in needy families’ homes through new insulation and furnaces, more energy-efficient windows and the like — got off to a slow start in 2009 but ramped up in 2010, with contractors weatherizing more than 8,049 Washington housing units that year. The average in 2005-2008 had been about 3,300.

Local agencies like Pierce County Community Services and the Metropolitan Development Council of Tacoma contract for the improvements, with oversight from the Department of Commerce which hands out the money.

There were 329 housing units weatherized through the Tacoma nonprofit last year, more than triple any of the previous five years. Another 742 homes were weatherized by Pierce County.

The audit found good and bad in Commerce’s monitoring. For example, the state did plenty of inspections checking over the shoulders of the local agencies, auditors found. But state officials didn’t consistently follow up to make sure agencies fixed problems, according to the audit.

After one inspection, which found the state had paid $7,300 for incomplete work on a project, the local agency went back in. But a re-check last September found the corrective work was itself faulty. The roof was leaking where a bathroom fan had been installed, causing a mold problem. Read more »


Tacoma: City seeks public’s input on new manager

What experience should Tacoma’s next city manager have? What kind of management style should he or she possess?

And what priorities should that person have for the City of Tacoma?

These are some of the questions city officials want the public to weigh in on as the city seeks to find its next chief administrator.

To that end, the city has set up this online survey seeking public opinions to help in the national search for a new city manager.

Next week, the city is expected to hire a firm to conduct the search, with the council expected

Read more »


State History Museum offers discounts to chamber members for opposing closure

The state agency that runs the Washington State History Museum is offering discounted memberships to members of the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce as a thank-you for supporting a push this winter to keep the Legislature from closing the museum.

The State Historical Society says just six people have taken advantage of the half-off rates in the first month of an offer that runs through Oct. 31. The letter went out in July:

The Washington State Historical Society thanks YOU, our friends with the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce, for rallying so much positive support on our behalf this year!  As a result of your efforts, the Washington State History Museum will keep its doors open and continue to serve our city, state, and region with world-class programs and exhibits! As a token of our appreciation, please accept this special, limited-time offer…. Enjoy 50 percent off our regular membership rates — for Chamber members only!

Gov. Chris Gregoire proposed closing the state’s three history museums to help bridge the budget shortfall, but the Legislature found cuts elsewhere. State lawmakers never really threatened to agree to the closure, but it couldn’t have hurt that the city of Tacoma, the chamber and other groups lobbied to keep it open.

So is it OK for a state agency to reward supporters for “rallying,” or even lobbying, on its behalf? In this case, it’s probably legal barring some other evidence, according to agencies that enforce such things. Read more »


Alcohol distributors spend against Costco liquor-privatization initiative

The group fighting Costco’s liquor-privatization initiative looks like it has found a benefactor.

The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America contributed more than $3.6 million this month to the political committee opposing Initiative 1183.

The D.C.-based trade group for distributors released this statement:

The Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America opposes I-1183 because that measure is designed to disable an effective regulatory structure that balances consumer demand with appropriate control over the distribution of alcohol and the licensed players in the Washington state market. A similarly ill-considered deregulatory initiative backed by Costco was rejected just last year, but they have chosen to ignore the message delivered by the citizens of that state and their elected representatives who drafted legislation to allow for limited privatization while maintaining strong regulatory control.

Alcohol distributors were also the main checkbook fighting last year’s Costco-backed initiative, but most of the money came from the beer industry — which also opposes this one, but hasn’t spent money against it.

Authors of this year’s initiative say it was carefully drawn to avoid affecting beer. But it does allow wineries to bypass distributors and sell directly to restaurants or retailers like Costco, a provision that has drawn support from a group of local wineries but opposition from the distributors.

Here’s what the supporters say about those provisions: Read more »


Jennifer Kilmer picked as director for Washington History Museum

Jennifer Kilmer

Gig Harbor’s Jennifer Kilmer will lead the Washington State History Museum into the next chapter in its history.

Kilmer will replace retiring State Historical Society director David Nicandri in October. She leaves an eight-year tenure as executive director of the Harbor History Museum, which recently opened in a new location in her hometown after a two-year absence.

She is married to Democratic state Sen. Derek Kilmer, lead writer of the Senate’s capital-construction budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire made the appointment last week, approving a unanimous recommendation by the society’s board of trustees. The society runs the Tacoma museum and Olympia’s State Capital Museum.

On its blog, the society praised Jennifer Kilmer’s academic credentials and, maybe more important in this time of budget cuts, her fundraising ability.

The Historical Society’s museums were threatened with closure last year, along with the state museum in Spokane. But the Legislature ending up preserving them on a reduced schedule. The threatened cuts could be back next year, but Kilmer didn’t sound worried:

The Tacoma community came together and really rallied around the State History Museum, and I would expect that strong outpouring of support to continue.

On raising more private money: Read more »