Political Buzz

Talking WA politics.

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Category: Journalism


New Year’s, 1984? (UPDATED)

Sometimes dealing with corporations can make you feel like you’ve fallen down some Orwellian rabbit hole.

In reporting on a six-month follow up on the state’s cell phone ban, my editor asked me to see if Bluetooth headsets were still selling like hotcakes — the largest manufacturer reported a three-fold increase in sales of car kits after cell phone bans went into effect for motorists in California and Washington in July.

So, I surfed over to the company’s Web site at parrotsafedriving.com and found this:

Contact Us: Marketing

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Are you being overcharged on your phone bill? (UPDATED)

Are you paying too much in taxes? Check your cell phone bill. If you are being overcharged, we want to hear from you.

We found one Pierce County resident in Graham was being charged a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) tax — as a portion of the sales tax — on her cell phone bill, even though she lives about five miles outside the taxation district boundary.

Update: And since then we’ve found two others who are in the same boat.

We’re trying to figure out how accurate phone companies’ methods are for figuring out who should be taxed. The state recently admitted its methods had an extreme number of errors, resulting in about $3 million being owed back to residents.

(You may not be able to tell on some cell phone bills because the RTA tax isn’t broken out from the sales tax. The customer in question uses Verizon and it was broken out on the bill she provided to us.)

More details after the jump.

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Newspapers laid off more than 6,300 workers this year

Several of you have asked me about what’s going on in the newspaper industry, in light of the departures of several members of the Capital (Capitol) Press Corps.

Former state Democratic Party Chairman Paul Berendt said he’s worried politics won’t be covered as much. Retiring state Rep. Pat Lantz, D-Gig Harbor, was worried about our dwindling ranks.

Washington isn’t the only state that is losing journalists, but we’re certainly well represented given layoffs at The News Tribune, Seattle Times, Spokesman Review, Olympian and TriCity Herald.

Some of my colleagues are keeping track of the layoffs and buyouts

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Carl Maxey biography discussed Monday at U Books

Spokane journalist Jim Kershner will discuss his book “Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life” during a book signing at Tacoma’s University Book Store at 6 p.m. Monday.

Maxey was a civil rights and defense lawyer who helped break most of the color barriers in Spokane. He also was the anti-war candidate for U.S. Senate against Henry Jackson in 1970.

As a lawyer, Maxey defended Kevin Coe, the so-called South Hill Rapist, as well as Coe’s mother Ruth who was accused of trying to hire a hit man to kill the judge and prosecutor.

Maxey was born in Tacoma

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The F-word, the N-word and other journalistic style issues

Our colleague, Associated Press reporter Curt P. Woodward (CP3.0), just came over to my office to show me the newest version of the “Bible” of journalism — the 2008 Associated Press Style Book.

Just so you know, we actually give some thought to which words we use, especially when it comes to sensitive issues.

Woodward pointed out the “F-word” and “N-word” are new entries. (George Carlin was way, way, way, way, ahead of mainstream jounalism, God rest his soul.)

So is “Native American.” AP style used to be “American Indian”. AP has come a long way.

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Who’s the guy who could bring Gregoire and Rossi together in one room?

David Ammons, that’s who.

The Associated Press held a retirement party Friday night for Ammons, who covered state government and politics for the non-profit news cooperative for 37 years. As Seattle Times political reporter David Postman noted, Ammons got there even before Helen Sommers. His departure brought a Who’s Who in Evergreen State politics to the reception room at the Temple of Justice in Olympia.

Ammons was roasted and toasted by Gov. Chris Gregoire, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Gerry Alexander and House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler. Other guests included Mike “First Mike” Gregoire, former Gov. Booth

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Back from the conference and still processing what I learned

I’m back — I was on vacation, then in L.A. for a fellowship at the Knight Center for Digital Media.

I’ve posted a few things about what I learned, but it would take a few hundred pages to go over everything.

Some of what I learned will pop up on the blog and in print in the coming months.

Others … maybe never.

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