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News, Notes, and Errata from Washington's State Capitol

Monday, January 09, 2006


Maybe I should take the name of this blog out of active voice.

Last year, I had fun commenting on the Legislative session and, occasionally, being a couple hours ahead of the MSM on breaking stories, most particularly Ed Murray's HB 1515, which would add "sexual orientation" to a list of protected classes of people in hopes of preventing discrimination in employment, lending and housing.

Well, it should be no secret by now that HB 1515 will pass this session, perhaps getting 30 or more votes in the 49-member Senate.

I've let myself be scooped on the Jim West scandal, the monorail funding debacle, and other stories, too. But so have reporters who knew almost as much as I did; some knew and could confirm far more. What with the New York Times withholding the information about the domestic spying for 14 months, I'm not about to beat myself up. I may, however, try to call some familiar reporters and editors to their better angels when I see sins of omission or travesties of justice being committed.

Truth is, I never intended the blog to be a place for breaking news. I just liked the name, which I ripped from a West Wing episode -- the one where Assistant to the Deputy Chief of White House staff Donna Moss almost accepts a job for an online news company called "" (a URL actually registered by Warner Bros. -- cool, huh?).

So, I've been dark for many months now. But now the Legislature is back in session. Game on, as they say. Barring commitments to family and job -- and the reliability of my computer -- I'll try to write occasionally here, even if it's only to tell you where the truly great or interesting reading is.

If you don't expect much, well then, I bet I can deliver for you.

Fix a template?

So this silly blogger template pushes down every post but the very top one. Why? It didn't start doing that until April and I had not changed the template code when it did. Can you help me fix it?

Monday, July 11, 2005

New media blogs

Both KING 5 TV in Seattle and The Columbian in Vancouver, Wash., have launched extensive blog sites this month. Take a look and participate, if you're so inclined.

KING 5 blog-"Blogger KING"

The Columbian blogs

Monday, June 27, 2005

Interview with Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown

Please check out Evergreen Politics where contributor Lynn Allen recently interviewed Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Volunteer to stop I-912

Crossposted at the NW Progressive Institute blog

To help stop the shortsighted Initiative 912 and the disinformation campaign that will stifle our economic recovery and put our loved ones at risk, volunteer today!

Contact the Keep Washington Rolling volunteer coordinator at

Want cities and counties to fix potholes on your street?
Say NO to I-1912.

Want Eastern Washington cherry and apple orchard owners to get their fruit to market before it rots?
Say NO to I-912.

Want 157 bridges throughout Washington to be seismically retrofitted to prevent them from toppling in an earthquake?
Say NO to I-912.

After months of study and much compromise to address the state's most pressing transportation hazards, a statewide transportation package was passed with bipartisan support in both chambers of the Legislature this year. The prudent and publicly accountable package gives funding to local governments to address road safety in your neighborhood. It also targets the most dangerous bridges and stretches of highway across the state to help prevent needless highway deaths that are mounting while a disinformation campaign belches out deceitful taxophobic rhetoric that could stop the state's economic recovery in its tracks.

Business leaders, communities, labor and environmental groups all know that we can no longer wait to address the deteriorating roads and highways that are the arteries of Washington's economic lifeblood.

The 2005 Transportation Package was created and passed by both Democratic and Republican state lawmakers who took their cues from the biggest state employers down to the nonprofit groups most concerned with preventing traffic fatalities. Washington can't afford to wait.

"If we don't fix it, we'll have an economic heart attack. The longer we wait, the more it will cost in the long run."

--Steve Mullin, Chairman of the Washington Roundtable, a cooperative of CEOs representing the state's largest employers.

Get more information at or


I've been getting the Resource Shelf newsletter for months, but only have time to peruse it. I had no idea I was missing this gold mine of searchable information compiled by the folks at

Anybody with any wonkish predilections in them should check out

Hope you like it as much as I do.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

still sleeping

Sorry folks. I've just been too busy lately to blog at all. I had expected to put this blog into a carbonite deep freeze for a while, but I didn't even get around to that.

I've been going around on you all, I admit, getting my writing fix somewhere else.

Anyway, I'll be down for a while. If I come back up for air or something more important, I promise to alert the usual suspects in the PNW progressive blogosphere.

Thursday, May 05, 2005


The biggest open secret for a decade in Olympia is no longer a secret. Spokane Mayor, former Senate Majority Leader and big-time Washington state power broker is a homosexual.

I'm shocked! Shocked, I say, to find out there are closeted gay Republicans.

To those who have roamed the halls of the Legislative Building hearing publically that Jim West is gay is like finding out marble is a hard surface.

Further, those who have worked on Democratic strategy campaigns know that Jim West was a former Boy Scout leader linked to molesting young boys, so hearing allegations that West is a predatory pedophile is as surprising as hearing Republicans calling for lower taxes.

To plugged-in partisan insiders, all of today's news really comes as no surprise, except for perhaps West's Web site lurking and his alleged quid pro quos.

Frankly, I'm amazed millions of newspaper readers didn't read between the lines years ago when West and arch-conservative Sen. Pam Roach clashed on issues of leadership style. People, that clash was over issues of "lifestyle" as much as anything else.

With zingy headline words like "molest" and "gay," it's easy to lose sight of what has really developed today. What should not be missed, however, is the tainted legacy of Jim West, including the lies he utters presently about finding faith in God during his battle with cancer. He is now and always has been a bully. He's a total unrepentant thug. He is domineering and he is uncompromising. He's even, as a point of fact, above the law and won't be prosecuted for his past crimes, just as he wasn't charged or tried for threatening the life of BIAW head Tom McCabe in 1998.

But -- finally -- he's no longer immune from the terror he wrought for years as the No. 1 thug of the Washington State Legislature. Whatever he has said today -- or e-mailed to his staff -- his days in office and in the Evergreen State are numbered. What you WILL NOT see in the coming days are old political allies rallying to his defense. It won't happen for the memories. They are stark and lasting. For years, West has ruled out of fear, not fairness. He has repeatedly bent and broken his political friends while hanging out to dry his political enemies, including the sitting Governor who netted billions for the state's bottom line (and his own budget plans) with the federal tobacco settlement when she was state Attorney General.

Goodbye, Jim West. And good riddance.

(Aside to former West aide and unelected state Sen. Brian Murray: How glad are you today that you LOST your primary election bid. Breathing a big sigh of relief, aren't you?)

Monday, May 02, 2005

It's a bunch of Krapp.

"Just been listening to that stupid bastard I took myself for thirty years ago, hard to believe I was ever as bad as that. Thank God that's all done with anyway."

Beckett, 1957.

I had to laugh today when I found out the "upgrades" at actually kicked my bio information off-line because it violated the terms of service.

Just in time, too. I had pasted the quote from this play on my info back in 2001. When I posted it, I was just trying to be obscure and offer some literate folks a cautionary tale on the dangers of hubris and the risks of favoring passive intellectualism over progressive action. How funny that four years later the software has finally been upgraded to the point that a ubiquitous Web site has finally prohibited me from alluding to calling myself a bastard in the past tense.

So it seems I have not offered a cautionary tale on tragic flaw of hubris. Instead, I've unintentionally put forth a cautionary tale about the hegemony of standards-based software that removes reasoned human judgment from measuring acceptable speech.

I think Beckett would appreciate that even more, frankly.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

busy, busy, busy

I've been very happily too busy to discuss at the length the issues of the legislative session in the past two days. I will try to give a look back later this week, certainly before the weekend, before I cease posting to this blog regularly.

In the meantime, please check out the impressive feature improvements at Pacific Northwest Portal and click the links to see what others are saying about the 2005 Legislature.

Don't forget to check Blue Washington in the next few days as it assesses lawmakers' work for constituents in the past year.

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Press clippings on the close of the 2005 Washington Legislative Session

The usual overachievers in Olympia working for the AP, Times, P-I, Olympian, and Spokesman-Review have already started filing the first draft of history on the 2005 Washington Legislative Session.

What was really great, I thought, was the comprehensive coverage, interviews, and wrap-up of TVW that interspersed live interviews, taped interviews, press conferences and live shots of celebrating lawmakers as they closed up shop under the dome.

The AP Capitol Bureau converges for a fine wrap-up of issues that were raised, including some that faltered, this session.

The Seattle Times also obliges.

The AP's David Ammons, dean of the Capitol Bureau with 34 sessions under his belt, dubs it a Democrat-dominated session reminding readers of some 11th hour tactics by the GOP that failed to make the majority party flinch.

The AP's Rebecca Cook checks in on Gov. Gregoire who held a press conference with House Speaker Frank Chopp and Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown after the gavels came down.

Look here over the next couple days to see if Spokesman-Review reporter/blogger Rich Roesler has anything snarky to say about the legislative wrap-up, but he's probably busy filing right now.

Finally tonight, The Olympian's Capitol Bureau team tag-teams for a narrative review.

More to come Monday, to be sure.

Sine die

The Legislature is shutting down for 2005. Retrospectives coming soon.

Transportation bill passes on final day of session.

By a 54-43 vote in the House, the Legislature is finishing business on time for the people of Washington and ensuring that safely moving people and products around our region will be a high-priority for the next few years. BTW, the legislation will also put thousands of people -- engineers, traffic planners, construction workers, etc.-- to work on transportation projects around the state.

The largely bipartisan support came from Puget Sound-area Democrats, but also from Republicans hailing from Cle Elum, Richland, Selah, and Yakima in the cradle of Washington's agricultural wonderland. Those Representatives appear to know that shipping apples, grapes, wheat, hops, and so much more means the roads must safely support the ever-increasing amount of exports.

Inexplicably voting against the package is sophomore-ic Republican Jay Rodne of Snoqualmie who was appointed to his seat last year and mustered just 52% of the votes in his district in the November election. The fresh-faced Rodne had never spent a day at the state Capitol before he was appointed to his seat (which was a result of "musical chairs" started when Dino Rossi resigned his Senate seat) and he still, apparently, fails to understand that inherent in "representative democracy" is representing the best interests of constituents and the people of the state (you know, those folks who rely heavily on agricultural and technological product exports to work, buy homes, and feed their families). There are about six accredited universities with superior political science and history colleges along the much-traveled routes between Olympia and Snoqualmie. Maybe Jay Rodne can stop off to take a few remedial courses on his way back home Monday.


Saturday, April 23, 2005

Legislature misses self-imposed Passover deadline

Lawmakers were trying to respect observers of Passover to finish legislative business by sundown today, but were unable to do so. Instead, they'll return Sunday to work on transportation and some other lingering issues. I'll be around tomorrow to post some retrospective and analysis on the 2005 Session.

Sorry to have been mostly out of touch for the past couple days. I've been spending time in the sunshine with my children and was in Seattle Friday night to see the brilliant Mr. Bill Moyers. He was a captivating speaker and I'll try to sum up his speech tomorrow.

Friday, April 22, 2005

For those of discriminating taste...

We all learned an awful lot in the past 24 hours about the bill that came up one vote short in the Washington state Senate. Lots of interesting news on this touchy subject.

The AP roundup of the event unfolding:

The Seattle Times' review and interviews with the lawmakers who purloined a chance for equality under the law and those most affected by the failure this year.

The Seattle P-I editorial that reaches a conclusion similar to mine from yesterday.

The Microsoft and Evangelical Christian side of the equation.
Seattle Times
New York Times
The Stranger

And really good blogging that I sense will just be the tip of the iceberg.

Columbian Watch
Horse's Ass
Evergreen Politics
Washington State Political Report


Thursday, April 21, 2005

Discrimination is still legal

Well, the Senate leaders pulled off an amazing feat to bring HB 1515 to the floor to make folks vote on it. The result: discrimination is still perfectly legal in Washington. The bill failed by one vote with two conservative Democratic Senators joining every Republican opposing the measure.
So, keep in mind, discriminating against people because of their sexual orientation (gay, straight, committed to chastity, or what have you) is still legal, but that doesn't mean it's fashionable.
Many Western Washington Republicans who voted for the bill are out of step with their constituents on this issue. They include former Whatcom County Sheriff Dale Brandland of Bellingham; former state GOP chair Don Benton of Vancouver; Mike Carrell of Lakewood, Bob Oke of Gig Harbor (who will not seek re-election next year); former gubernatorial candidate Pam Roach; Dave Schmidt of Shohomish County; Val Stevens of Arlington; Dan Swecker of rural Thurston County; and former Congressional candidate and unemployment compensation abuser Joe Zarelli of rural Clark County.

But the two most obvious examples of spitting in the face of their constituents are the Senate Minority leaders Bill Finkbeiner and Luke Esser of the Eastside suburbs. Their position and parlimentary maneuvers in the past two years to sideline this bill have embodied the antithesis of representative democracy. Voters will do well to remember their disservice in the 2006 elections.

Back with a vengeance. Maybe.

Watch the Senate floor calendar today for a possible re-emergence of House Bill 1515, the bill which prevents discrimination because of sexual orientation.

I won't be able to update this for a few hours, but I'll post what I find out later this evening.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Friends in peculiar places

With Washington's legislative session drawing to a close (late Saturday is the latest buzz), the OlyScoop blog will be drawing down and decreasing emphasis on political issues of the day. It's been a decent 100 days in Olympia with many smart, targeted spending measures now seemingly in the clear, including a major boost to education construction thanks to two of my favorite lawmakers who chair the Capital Budget committees in their respective chambers. The transportation package and general budget need to be quickly resolved. Their unfortunate intermingling is nettlesome in the waning days of the 2005 session.

This blog started off as an exercise to write almost every day, a chance to learn more about publishing to the Web, and a way to amuse some friends and former colleagues. Unlike other regional blogs, OlyScoop has a fairly intransitory and largely silent readership. Virtually nobody submits comments, though more than a few have shot me angry e-mails on various subjects. It probably shouldn't surprise readers to find out that the No. 1 Internet domain of OlyScoop visitors is and a great portion of those visitors come by between noon and 1:30 p.m. when committee meetings are seldom scheduled (yes, I'm watching you even as you're watching me).

OlyScoop turned into something I could not have expected. It drew the attention from some unexpected places, including some bloggers with high national profiles, and -- queerly, I think -- got respect from folks who are far more skilled at their chosen craft of writing than I am. For me, that was high praise. I deeply appreciate their graciousness.

You might have noticed that over the past few months that I have seldom covered the gubernatorial election on Well, there's a few reasons for that. I thought the issue was well represented in most of the regional newspapers and by blogging brothers-in-arms around the state. Also, I confess, I voted for Rossi.

No, it's not what you think. In close quarters, Rossi is an almost wholly unpleasant man. He is partisan to the core (for instance, he's not honest with "values conservatives" about his views on gambling revenues) and is an associate of criminals. I voted for Rossi as a symbolic protest to some of the political appointees in Olympia that I thought were not serving the state well, even though I probably get the same direct mail leaflets as they do every other October. I also had a decent polling information by Nov.2 (I love voting at the polls and bring my registration card and picture ID because it's a principle for me even though I would not deign to force my principles on others) that Democrats would win back the Senate and increase their lead in the House. I also heard that Gregoire would win handily with a Kerry-led surge in Washington. The Gregoire information wasn't so great, it turned out, but, again, my protest was purely symbolic and only for me personally.

After all the twists and turns of the recounts, the changeovers at state agencies resulted in what I would have wanted anyway, so I am ashamed of my petulant selfishness to vote against the present governor who -- complain about victory margins and leadership style all you want -- is a pretty darn good fit idealogically for Washington state.

I have to go now, but I did want to extend sincere thanks to the friends I've encountered online since January. Many of you have been unduly and irrepressibly kind, and the intelligence inhabiting so many of you makes me increasingly optimistic for the future of Washington. I'll be back around in the next few days to close out the session with all of you readers. After that, however, it's probably time for my tacky nom-de-blog to drown in an inkwell.

As ever,


The right -- as in 'correct' -- thing to say today

The Sierra Club has issued a release thanking longtime Republican (and more recently Independent) Senator Jim Jeffords of Vermont for his years of steadfast service.

In a world where so-called special interests from across the political spectrum are intent on bullying or buying elected officials to foist their narrow agendas on others, the Sierra Club stops and takes a moment to thank and honor a fine public servant for his years of respecting his constituents and standing up for principle despite issues of disagreement that intervened during his Senate tenure.

Jeffords, 70, had insisted until recently that he would run for re-election next year, but some have raised concerns about his health. Here's wishing that the Honorable Mr. Jeffords has a long and rewarding retirement and continues to contribute to the political conversation in Vermont and in the other Washington. We would all be the better for it.

Now, if only we could get Sens. Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Arlen Specter, and Lincoln Chaffee (and maybe even John McCain?) to join the Senate's Independent caucus that is being vacated by Jeffords.

Blue Washington

I had the pleasure last week to meet with the brains and the grace (conveniently contained in a single person) behind the new Web log, Blue Washington. The new site just came online last week, but is already sporting some great news, features, and links. Blue Washington is a thoughtful site that showcases its author's rounded understanding of Washington politics and state political history while exposing the extreme positions of some of those in power. It respectfully calls for moderation in fiscal and social policy.

The only thing I have to complain about is that in a matter of a week, the site already looks and reads much better than my mish-mash at

Please check out Blue Washington and tell your friends about it. It promises to be a clearinghouse for the sentiments of pragmatic progressives across the Pacific Northwest and a great contributor to the political discussion that idealizes truly representative government and the spirit of negotiating compromise so that all Washingtonians are better served by elected officials.

P-I weighs in on Initiative 601

The Seattle P-I today writes the obituary for Initiative 601, an impractical and dated measure that has been changed eight times by lawmakers in both parties since it narrowly passed in 1993, a year of extremely low voter turnout.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Comcast all better

Transportation package at crossroads

Seattle, Washington: State Route 520 Bridge

At the heart of Seattle's traffic congestion is SR 520 -- one of Puget Sound's major arteries for transporting people and goods. One of the oldest floating bridges in the world, the SR 520 Evergreen Point Bridge is at the end of its useful life and needs to be replaced for the safety of the traveling public. If this bridge were to suffer a seismic failure, travel time between downtown Seattle and Redmond would nearly double from an average of 33 minutes to 55 minutes.
Is that preceding graf partisan shilling for a statewide transportation package that includes a gas tax increase? Nope. It's the analysis of the nonpartisan American Automobile Association that puts the Puget Sound in the top areas nationally desperately in need of relief from traffic congestion. See for yourself.

Today is the day the Senate may vote on a statewide transporation improvement package to help reduce commute times, aid in getting the goods to port that sustain Washington's economic vitality, and create safer highways that might just help save the lives of folks you know and love.

It's not a done deal, however. This Seattle P-I editorial details how the package might be derailed and P-I reporter Chris McGann has this break down.

More news is posted at the Northwest Progressive Institute blog.


Thursday, April 14, 2005

I'm perfectly sane. Everyone else, however, is insane and trying to steal my magic bag.

Comcast's broadband service has been driving me bananas! I'd already cleaned up my hard drive, removed tons of unused software, re-set the cable modem, and closed all extraneous applications and extensions. Still, my broadband service was totally unreliable and entirely maddening for the not-so-modest price of $46 per month before taxes.

I called Comcast three times last week. Each time, my call was placed into the "hold" queue for several minutes -- paying each time for peak minutes on my cell phone -- before I was unceremoniously disconnected after a droning message stated "We cannot complete your call at this time."

I'm glad to know the problem is on the Comcast end. At least, I'll know that I shouldn't be beating the crap out of my computer. I should be beating the crap out of 1500 Market Street in Philadelphia. Maybe, I'll pay Philly-native Goldy to hire his relatives to commit some creative graffiti over yonder way.

BTW, here's credit where it's due for the subject line on this post.

NW Progressive Institute Blog

Just a reminder that some really intelligent folks -- and also OlyScoop -- post news and analysis frequently at the NW Progressive Institute blog, which is a great starting place to access Pacific Northwest Portal for a roundup of news and information affecting our beautiful region.

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