Attendees at a local high school graduation likely picked up their programs and wondered if there was no place or event that cannot be hijacked by the attack politics. The sheet to the left looks like a Woodinville High School graduation program but a turn of the page reveals a screed against state Sen. Andy Hill, R-Redmond, by the Service Employees International Union.
Instead of tributes to the Class of 2013, parents, friends and families of graduating Woodinville Falcons were treated to an inaccurate representation of the Senate’s chief budget writer. SEIU 925, which represents classified school staff – some of whom work at Woodinville High, according to the flier – accuses Hill of “protecting wealthy corporations instead of funding education, jobs and family safety net programs.”
What’s next SEIU? Personal attacks printed to look like restaurant menus?
A couple of months ago, I wrote this blog post criticizing the Washington Education Association for their attack fliers against Democratic state Sens Rodney Tom, D-Medina and Steve Hobbs, D-Lake Stevens. As I said then, everyone is entitled to their opinion. But the facts are far more nuanced and SEIU does not bother to delve into them in order to reflect a more accurate representation of the Senate Majority Coalition’s budget proposal. The fact is it does fund education, economic development and the social services key to a social safety net.
One can, and should, debate the priorities of the Senate and the House budgets. SEIU prefers not to be encumbered with nuances. If the union took a more serious approach, it would note that the House and Senate budgets are similar in spending. Both budgets earmark substantial sums to meet the state Supreme Court’s “McCleary vs. Washington” education funding mandate.
SEIU tries to score quick points by turning a serious debate into a personal attack. Check that strategy with WEA, which was embarassed after a Saturday rally in Sen. Hobbs’ neighborhood went awry after the teacher of one of Hobbs’ sons showed up at the family home with a petition. Oops!
This Seattle Times editorial recently urged both sides to yield on some of the issues keeping them apart. Expressing impatience and displeasure at the political process is wholly appropriate. But Woodinville parents and students deserved their moment in the sunshine unsullied by politicking. If union leaders are trying to get a jump on a 2014 campaign to unseat Hill, as this local blog speculates, they must first set up some ground rules. The aim should be to raise the level of public debate, not lower it with personal attacks.