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Political musings from Warren E. Peterson

Archive for the ‘State & Local’ Category

Let Someone Else Pay

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 28, 2014

In the Sunday, January 26, 2014 edition of the Seattle Times, we are treated to Pro and Con opinion pieces on a $15 minimum wage for Seattle. The Pro side saw the higher minimum as a means of closing the gap between low and high income earners; not an unexpected argument. (For one of the most cogent articles on income inequality see: David Brooks Column in the NY Times) It was on the Con side where a surprise occurred. The writer has a small business and makes the case that jumping Seattle’s minimum wage by over $5 an hour would add significantly to existing stresses on small business. One more increase on top of rising rents, utilities, employee benefits and completion from online merchants not to mention regulations (remember the City of Seattle imposed parking changes and mandated sick leave). The Con article noted that small businesses with less than 50 employees would be exempted, “But, if Fred Meyer, Home Depot and Starbucks are all paying $15 an hour, other businesses would be forced to follow suit if they want to compete for competent, capable employees.” Additionally, raising the minimum to $15 would force up wages for other workers. If all these costs cannot be offset by reducing labor or moving to a cheaper location, they would have to be passed on to customers. It would not be too long before these increased costs would flow into the general economy ($5 lattes anyone?) and the $15 minimum would be called too low. Off we’d go chasing our socialist tails once again.

Unfortunately, the Con plea veered hard left by proposing alternate ways of improving the lives of minimum wage earners by shifting taxes on small business to big corporations and wealthy people and implementing rent control. Every day there is another call for taxing the rich. As Margaret Thatcher said, “The problem with Socialism is eventually you run out of other people’s money.” As for rent control, do not some landlords qualify as owners of a small business? Also rent control has unintended consequences such as deferred maintenance, damping of new construction and landlords being forced to subsidize long time renters through below market rates.

Before we tinker with our economic system by mandating wage and rent levels not supported by the market, we should concentrate on policies that encourage investment, job creation and education that produces graduates with skills commensurate with higher pay. These are harder to do than voting for a $15 minimum wage and limiting rent but they do offer a greater possibility of a permanent solution.

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A Proposal for Councilmember Sawant

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 24, 2014

Socialist Seattle City Councilmember Kshama Sawant is the new chair of the council’s Energy Committee. In a Seattle Times article on a proposed rate increase for Seattle City Light, Sawant outlined her agenda for the committee saying, “The committee in the coming months would examine issues including the situation of workers at City Light, executive salaries, and the relation between global financial markets and the rates people in Seattle pay.” While she’s at it, I’d like to propose another idea for consideration.It was offered to the council members in 2008 but none ever replied; all afraid to touch a Seattle sacred cow. However with socialist Sawant overseeing City Light maybe they should reconsider. In summary, I proposed selling Seattle City Light to a private company and using the proceeds to endow the Seattle Parks and Recreation Department. A privately owned utility would still be regulated and rate controlled but not by Sawant and the rest of the council subject to reelection grandstanding. Regulation and rates would be set by the Washington State Utilities Commission staffed by energy professionals. Endowing the Parks Department would remove a large part of the taxpayer funded city budget freeing up funds for other uses; maybe even a tax cut.

In today’s fragile economy, there should be no sacred cows. Every idea deserves consideration.

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Lobbyists, Legislators, Ethics and Free Meals

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 28, 2013

A few months ago an Associated Press article on legislators accepting free meals from lobbyists appeared in various Washington State media. Soon after another article was released covering a concerned citizen’s complaint filed with the Legislative Ethics Board against five Republican State Senators. They were the top five Senate recipients of the meals. No surprise since Republicans, thanks to two renegade Democrats, hold the majority in the Senate and therefore hold the most power over lobbyist interests. Also no surprise when a quick Google of the concerned citizen’s name revealed he is a liberal Democrat activist. Neither surprise was mentioned in the article.

I waited for a more balanced follow-up but when none was forthcoming, I filed a similar complaint against all Democrat Legislators from King County. The Legislative Ethics Board sent me a letter acknowledging my complaint and noting its similarity to the concerned citizen complaint. They are working on the complaints but no date was given for a ruling on the matter.

Personally, I hope the Board rejects both complaints. I do not believe the legislators violated the law or legislative ethics. I filed the complaint for three reasons: 1) to counter the biased reporting on the issue 2) to highlight the need for reform of disclosure requirements and 3) protest the selective misuse of disclosure reports for blatantly political purposes.

Most of the reform discussion centers on state law that attempts to define what value of meals or gifts a “state officer or state employee” may accept. Lobbyists are required to report meal costs for each legislator but how does a lobbyist report such expenditures on meals when several legislators are in attendance?

There are lobbyists for virtually every interest in the state and they perform a vital role in the legislative process. No legislator is well versed on every issue. Fellow legislators, constituents, personal research and, yes, lobbyists all are sources of information needed to make informed votes. Sometimes this information is given over a meal. Sometimes lobbyists use social events as an opportunity for legislators and lobbyists to get to know one another. Such activities need to be done in the light of public disclosure but the disclosure should be factual, clear and significant. The current system fails on all counts.
It needs reform. Design unambiguous reporting requirements; call out the partisan hit jobs for what they are, inject some common sense.

Warren Peterson
Former State Representative

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2013 General Election Recomendations

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 20, 2013

What factors are considered in making a recommendation?

1. I know the candidate or have heard him or her speak in public
2. Opinion of knowledgeable friends
3. Endorsed by law enforcement
4. Endorsed by Republican groups or and/or individuals
5. Left wing endorsements
6. Record
7. Business or other non political or non judicial experience
8. Statement in Voter’s Pamphlet
8. A coin

Only contested races are listed. Under our “Top Two” primary, only two candidates advance to the General Election. Judges, however, who get over 50% of the primary vote are considered elected with no general election.

I took some flak from my conservative friends for my primary election recommendations of some Democrats. I only did this in races where election of a Democrat was a near certainty. If we have to have a D in office, at least they should be qualified.

For this November’s election, I plan to follow the same methodology but add a suggested “No Vote” (NV) as a form of protest. In any race where the total vote is significantly less (more than the normal drop off of voters from the top of the ballot to lesser contests) than the total number of voters (turnout), it indicates dissatisfaction with the choices

Seattle Mayor

Bicycle Mike McGinn vs State Senator Ed Murray – Murray would probably be an improvement but flip a coin or NV on this race.

Seattle City Council

Position #2 pits incumbent Richard Conlin against a wacko Socialist. Vote for Conlin

Previous Recommendation:

Position #4 – Incumbent Sally Bagshaw vs Sam Bellomio who says his occupation is Vice-President of StandUP America, known for holding “Burn the Koran” events. I’m no fan of radical Islam but I also don’t think it’s smart to poke a wasp nest. Vote for Bagshaw.

Revised Recommendation:

Position # 4 – Incumbent Sally Bagshaw vs SAM BELLOMIO.

There appears to be several organizations calling themselves some version of Stand Up America. Terry Jones, famous for public burning of the Quran, founded one of them. Sam Bellomio, running for City Council against Sally Bagshaw is active in StandUp-America, which calls for protests at public meetings like the city council against what they see as corruption, but they do not burn anything. I apologize for the error. While I can agree with much of their concerns, I’m not sure Sam could make the transition from protester to responsible public official. Nevertheless, maybe the solid left nine-member council could use an alternate voice. It is that bad in Seattle.

Change from Vote Bagshaw to Vote for Bellomio.

Position #6 – Incumbent Nick Licata vs another wacko Socialist. Nick is on the left as is the rest of the Council but please draw the line at putting a Socialist on the Council. Vote for Nicata.

Position #8 – Incumbent Mike O’Brien vs Albert Shen. If you like Mayor McGinn, O’Brien is your man. Don’t like McGinn, then Shen is the choice. NV is also appropriate.

Seattle School Board

Director District #4 – Suzanne Dale Estey vs. Sue Peters. No incumbents in this race. Estey is a Democrat but Peters has ties to Green Party activists such as Sally Soriano who voters booted off the Board in 2007. Peters also opposes charter schools. Vote for Suzanne Estey

Director District #5 – Vote for Stephan Blanford

King County Executive

Dow Constantine vs Alan E. Lobdell. Dow is the better qualified but a NV would also be appropriate.

King County Council

District #1 – Either NV or Dembowski

District #5 – Andy Massagli vs Dave Upthegrove. Sorry Seattle Times, got to go with Massagli on this one.

District #9 – Vote for Reagan Dunn

Seattle Port Commissioner

Position #1 – Incumbent John Creighton vs Pete Lewis. Endorsed by “Wish he was Governor” Rob McKenna and former Mayor Greg Nickels and the Seattle Times, Vote for Pete Lewis.

Position #2 – Appointed to the Commission and now running for a full term, Courtney Gregoire (daughter of the former governor) is opposed by Socialist John Naubert. Vote for Gregoire

Position #3 – No incumbent. Stephanie Bowman vs. Michael Wolfe. Give the edge to Bowman. Vote for Stephanie Bowman.

Position #4 – Incumbent Tom Albro is opposed by perennial candidate Richard Pope. Vote for Tom Albro.

State Issues

Initiative Measure No. 517 on changes to law regarding initiatives and referendum may be trying to do too much in one initiative. Some good points like increased time to get signatures but concerns about where signatures gatherers may solicit and do we really need to make harassment of a signature gatherer a specific crime? Vote No.

Initiative Measure No. 522 concerning labeling of genetically engineered food. Overreaching, a get rich opportunity for trial lawyers, Vote No.

Advisory Votes

Per a Tim Eyman initiative that requires a non-binding vote on any state legislative act that raises taxes and a report listing how each legislator voted on the act.

There are five items, numbers 3,4,5,6 and 7 all of which passed the legislature by large majorities. Essentially meaningless other than potential issues in races for the House and Senate. Vote “Maintained” on numbers 3,4,5 and 6 but “Repealed” on number 7 concerning increased death taxes.

King County Charter Amendment No. 1 regarding public defenders. This amendment is required as a result of a court case that made public defenders King County employees. Vote Yes.

King County Proposition No. 1 – Continues property tax funded Emergency Medical Services (911) system. Vote approved.

Proposed Seattle Charter amendment No. 19 would create seven council districts and two at large districts. Spread council representation throughout the city. Vote Yes

Seattle Proposition No. 1 – Public financing of campaigns for city offices. This politician’s dip into the public treasury to pay part of candidates’ campaign expenses is funded by increasing property taxes. It has been tried before with little if any benefit or improvement to the election process. It certainly is far down if not off the priority list for expenditure of tax dollars. Vote No.

Posted in State & Local | 2 Comments »

August 6, 2013 Primary Endorsements

Posted by Warren Peterson on July 20, 2013

Only races with three or more candidates will appear on the Primary ballot. If only two candidates have filed, they will appear on the General Election ballot. All offices are officially non-partisan but most of the candidates come from the far left of political center, some could be worse than others.

King County:

Proposition No. 1 – Parks Levy – Vote Parks Yes it renews a prior levy but any way you look at it, it will increase taxes but opposing parks is akin to opposing apple pie and motherhood. At least parks are a core job of the government. VOTE YES.

Executive – Dow Constantine has done a good job in his first term. VOTE FOR Constantine

Council District #1 – Incumbent Rod Dembowski Dembowski for Council is a leftist Democrat appointed to the council when Bob Ferguson was elected Attorney General. His only viable opponent is another leftist, a second generation Korean, Naomi Wilson Wilson for Council Left either way but Dembowski has the edge. VOTE FOR Dembowski

Council District #9 – Reagan Dunn Dunn for Council lost the race for Attorney General despite being the better-qualified candidate. He paid the price for running under the Republican banner. VOTE FOR Dunn

Port of Seattle:

Commissioner Position No. 1 – Incumbent Stephanie Bowman, Bowman for Commissioner was appointed to the port commission when Rob Holland resigned. She is opposed by Michael Wolfe Wolfe for Commissioner and Libertarian Andrew Pilloud. Bowman has heavy endorsements from labor unions and Democrats. Wolfe garnered heavy support from Democrats. Flip a coin, peas out of the same pod. VOTE FOR Bowman or Wolfe

City of Seattle:

Mayor – Take a good look at Charlie Staadecker; Staadecker for Mayor especially look at his Sx Pillars describing what he will do as Mayor. He is not a current or former member of the City Council, a state senator or mayor but he has sterling credentials for the job and would be a breath of fresh air sorely needed in Seattle politics. VOTE FOR Staadecker

City Council Position #1 – Incumbent Richard Conlin Conlin for Council Far better qualified than any of his two opponents. VOTE FOR Conlin

City Council Position #8 – Incumbent Mike O’Brien O’Brien for Council is joined at the hip with Mayor McGinn so if you don’t like the mayor consider Albert Shen Shen for Council Even if you do like the mayor, consider Albert Shen. VOTE FOR Shen

Posted in State & Local | 3 Comments »

It’s Back! Public Funding of Political Campaigns

Posted by Warren Peterson on June 12, 2013

Last January, the Seattle City Council asked for a proposal to provide public funds to help candidates pay the cost of mounting a campaign for public office. Next Monday the council will “take its first look” at the proposal. In 2008 then King Council Member Bob Ferguson (newly elected Washington Attorney General) with the support of fellow council member Dow Constantine (now King County Executive) and former council member Lois North, made a similar effort for King County. The added cost and the economy combined to delay consideration indefinitely.

Like a Phoenix of bad ideas, the specter of public financing of candidates refuses to die. With government crying for more and more money for education, roads, transit, healthcare etc., who in their right mind believes voters want to be forced to contribute to political campaigns so more marginal candidates can be encouraged to seek public office.

Instead of tossing taxpayer dollars into candidate welfare, for substantially less cost insure a voter’s pamphlet is mailed to each voting household. Even less expensive, provide a web site where each of the candidates for a particular office can provide answers to the same set of questions. Allow updates so it is current. The Seattle Times could provide a written version. On the web site, require candidates to publish the names and occupation of all contributors over $500. In the case of PACs, require the names and occupations of the top contributors to the PAC. Any or all of these suggestions would do more to inform the voters and address the concerns about money in campaigns than the proposed public campaign funding. Yes, raising property taxes “about $6 for the owner of a $400,000 home” to pay for the proposed program doesn’t seem like much until you add it to all the other “doesn’t seem like much” taxes.

Once we have solved all the other problems and budget shortfalls of the city, the council can look at public funding of political campaigns. But for now, shove this idea in a pigeon hole where it will never see the light of day.

Posted in State & Local | 2 Comments »

Senator Tim Sheldon & the Senate Majority

Posted by Warren Peterson on April 8, 2013

A magnitude off the charts political earthquake shook Olympia before the start of the 2013 session of the state legislature. Two Democrat state senators, Rodney Tom (D-48th District) and Tim Sheldon (D-35th District) announced they were joining the 23 Republican senators to form a “majority coalition caucus” of 25 giving them control of the State Senate with Tom the new Senate Majority Leader. Needless to say, Democrats were not happy.

The Seattle/King County media has covered Senator Tom extensively but less is known about Senator Sheldon. That gap has been considerably closed with Nina Shapiro’s excellent article, “What Kind of Democrat…” in the April 3-9, 2013 Seattle Weekly (cover page “Sleeping with the Elephants”). Shapiro profiles both senators but tells readers a great deal about Senator Sheldon. No country bumpkin, Ivy League educated with a UW MBA, he charts his own course. In many respects, he is the quintessential legislator for those fed up with partisan wrangling. To read the article, click HERE

Related posts:

Rodney Tom – Turncoat or Practical Politician

Senator Tom Switches Back

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Do High Taxes and More Rules Hurt Job Growth?

Posted by Warren Peterson on March 25, 2013

According to Danny Westneat in Palm Sunday’s “Seattle Times”, capitalism is thriving in “Seattle with all its taxes and rules and supposedly socialistic groupthink…” He cites as evidence a “new jobs report” that shows “the city’s unemployment rate well below the rest of the state, to one of the lowest for big cities in the U.S.”

Let’s take “rules and socialistic groupthink” first. Two examples, the selected extension of metered on street parking to 8PM plus a sharp increase in rates and the requirement for businesses with a certain number of employees to grant paid sick leave. I seriously doubt companies like Boeing, Nordstrom, Starbucks, or the Port of Seattle or the University of Washington or most high tech or other major entities care about these Seattle Nanny rules. Many stay here and grow here because it is too expensive to move and they are attracted to Seattle by its location, transportation services, educated population and environment. There are some businesses, however, that are seriously affected by rules such as the two mentioned here. Ask the restaurant owner if such rules are taken into account when making decisions to expand, relocate to Seattle or hire more employees, same question for other small businesses.

And the reason for Seattle’s lower than most unemployment is? The answer according to Jon Talton’s column in the “Business” section of Palm Sunday’s “Seattle Times” – Amazon.

Oh, about high Seattle taxes. Yes, the city council is constantly looking for ways to increase revenue by new or higher taxes and fees but so far, at least for the big boys, they have not overcome the advantages of locating at the hub of economic activity in the state. There is also one other major competitive advantage to doing business in Washington State that was touted by Governor Chris Gregoire when she was encouraging companies to move here, no income tax.

Nice try Danny but there is a tipping point and Seattle may be close to it. Mr Talton notes that Amazon, like Boeing, could suffer a reversal of fortune. Should that happen we would wish Seattle had a more friendly business climate. Danny could be the last one to turn out the lights.

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Senator Tom Switches Back

Posted by Warren Peterson on January 4, 2013

The 2013-2014 Washington State Legislature convenes Monday, January 14, 2013 in what was to be a typical Blue State climate – Democrat Governor and Democrat control of both houses of the legislature. However, thanks to two Democrat state senators, a touch of Red State rain fell on the D’s parade. Former Republican but now Democrat State Senator Rodney Tom and conservative Democrat Senator Tim Sheldon joined with the Republicans to take effective control of the State Senate by one vote, 25 to 24. Tom becomes Majority Leader and Republicans get majority control of key committees controlling taxes, spending, K-12 education and healthcare. Tom, Sheldon and Democrat Senator Jim Kastama, perhaps in a dry run of today’s coup, sided with Republicans on the budget in the 2012 session. Republicans gained one senate seat in the last election making the new coalition likely despite Democrat concessions to prevent it. If it holds, Washington State may avert its own fiscal cliff by frustrating the tax and spend Democrats who were salivating for billions more spending on K-12 and higher education, transportation, healthcare etc. These may all be good desires but constraint is needed lest we become California. To that end, I say welcome back Senator Tom.

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Voting On Same Sex Marriage

Posted by Warren Peterson on October 30, 2012

Three states will vote November 6 on the issue of same sex marriage. In the State of Washington, the legislature passed a bill that would allow same sex couples to marry. The vote was 28 to 21 in the Senate and 55 to 43 in the House. Well more than enough signatures were gathered to place Referendum 74 on the ballot. It asks voters to approve or reject the legislature’s action.

Approve 74, it’s a matter of fairness. Reject 74, the social cost is too high. Commentator Dennis Prager makes some interesting points in his recent article, “Why a good person can vote against same sex marriage.” To read it, click
HERE

Posted in Religion, State & Local | Leave a Comment »

 
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