December 4, 2013 at 10:48 AM
A new report suggests that Washington state should fight drunken driving by increasing penalties and establishing random sobriety checkpoints.
But another idea floated after a high-profile tragedy last spring, banning repeat DUI offenders from buying alcohol, was nearly universally dismissed.
The 2013 Washington Impaired Driving Work Group delivered the 152-page report Monday. The 33-member group, created by the Legislature this year, was made up of lawmakers, lawyers, police officers, state-agency officials, advocates, victims’ families, treatment providers, ignition-interlock manufacturers and experts.
The group considered 11 specific ideas for reducing DUIs, ranking them according to overall support and where they should fall on the state’s priority list (the most supported ideas were not necessarily seen as top priorities).
The top three priorities, according to the report, all related to penalties: The group wanted to increase penalties for drivers who refuse to take a breath or blood test (top priority; supported by 79 percent of group members), strengthen mandatory minimum prison sentences and fines for repeat offenders (second priority, 72 percent) and make DUI a felony before the fifth offense, as it is now (third priority, 85 percent).
The report noted that Washington is the only state where a DUI becomes a felony on the fifth offense.
It is a felony on the second offense in four states, the third offense in 21 states and the fourth offense in 18 states. Six states don’t have felony DUIs.
Lawmakers this year considered making DUI a felony sooner, but did not take action, in part, because the move was seen as too expensive.
Making the change would “heighten the awareness and communicate the seriousness of DUI,” said group member Kim Sauer, of the state Liquor Control Board, in the report.
The most surprising aspect of the report may have been the high level of support for sobriety checkpoints, which exist in 38 states but are seen as violating the state constitution.
The checkpoints, which would stop drivers even if they have done nothing wrong, were ranked as the fourth priority and supported by 82 percent of members.
“I think the research has shown that this should be a priority,” said member Dan Schulte, a group member whose parents were killed and whose wife and infant son were critically injured when they were struck by a drunken driver in Northeast Seattle in the spring.
Not everyone in the group agreed.
“I like them,” Tom McBride, of the state association of prosecutors, commented in the report, ”but do not see how they survive state constitutional privacy protections.”
The most supported of the 11 ideas, promoting and monitoring the use of alcohol-sensing ignition interlocks, was endorsed by 97 percent of group members. But it was ranked as only the 10th priority.
That put it just ahead of the least-supported policy on the list, the alcohol bans for repeat offenders. That idea got just 18 percent support.
Group member Brad Fralick, of the interlock manufacturer Consumer Safety Technology, was blunt in the report: “This is laughable,” he said. “Even if you could limit purchasing this does nothing to stop the consumption or driving after consuming.”
December 4, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Local Democratic activists met Tuesday night to fill vacancies in a couple of Seattle-area legislative seats.
Ed Murray’s election as Seattle mayor last month left his 43rd Legislative District state Senate seat up for grabs.
State Rep. Jamie Pedersen will slide over to that position, as he ran essentially unopposed at a meeting Tuesday night of the 43rd District Democrats. Hundreds of Democratic precinct-committee officers gathered in a South Lake Union meeting hall for the vote.
Under the state constitution, legislative vacancies are filled via appointments by the local county council, which must choose a replacement from the same political party from a list of three names submitted by the local party organization. In practice, the Metropolitan King County Council typically picks the top choice from the list forwarded by the party.
So as a formality, the council will have two other names to choose from besides Pedersen, but both those alternative “candidates” made it clear Tuesday night they back Pedersen and have no intention of serving.
Pedersen, an attorney, was elected to the state House in 2006 and has served as chairman of the House Judiciary Committee.
After Pedersen’s selection, the real drama Tuesday night was over the appointment to fill Pedersen’s state House seat.
After a couple rounds of voting, the nod for that position went to Brady Walkinshaw, a program officer with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Walkinshaw is Cuban-American and gay, living on Capitol Hill with his partner, who works for the state Department of Natural Resources.
Walkinshaw bested Scott Forbes, the chairman of the 43rd District Democrats, and Cristina Gonzalez, a budget analyst for King County Executive Dow Constantine’s office. While all three names will be sent to the County Council, party etiquette says the runners-up will back Walkinshaw as the first choice.
The 43rd District runs through the liberal heart of Seattle (including Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford and the University District) and at last night’s meeting of nearly 200 precinct-committee officers (PCOs), the three candidates sounded virtually identical calls for new tax revenue for schools, strengthened civil-rights protections for minorities and increased transit funding.
Forbes called it a choice between “an excellent progressive candidate, an excellent progressive candidate, and an excellent progressive candidate.”
So it came down to who had rallied enough PCOs to show up on a Tuesday night to vote. And Walkinshaw, who repeatedly boasted of his many endorsements from party leaders and state legislators, including Pedersen, won the ground game.
Meanwhile, in the 33rd Legislative District south of Seattle, Democrats selected Kent City Councilmember Elizabeth Albertson to fill the state House seat being vacated because of Dave Upthegrove’s election to the Metropolitan King County Council.
The 33rd District covers Kent, SeaTac, Des Moines and Normandy Park.
All the appointees will serve one year and will have to stand for election to full terms in 2014.
December 3, 2013 at 1:54 PM
Turns out, there is a mayor’s school, or at least a crash course, and Seattle mayor-elect Ed Murray plans to attend.
Harvard’s Institute of Politics will hold a three-day session on leadership and policy for more than 20 incoming big-city mayors Wednesday through Friday.
“I’m looking forward to visiting the Kennedy School at Harvard to hear from experts and from those who have some experience in the mayor’s seat,” said Murray in a statement. “I”m also looking forward to meeting and establishing relationships with my fellow mayors-elect who will soon take the mayor’s seat for the first time. It should be a very useful, productive experience.”
The Seminar on Transition and Leadership for Newly-Elected Mayors is co-sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and is held at the Kennedy School of Government. The new mayors will attend sessions including transitioning from campaign to City Hall, finance and administration, jobs and the economy, public safety, education and technology.
The sessions will be led by top academics, policy experts and politicians.
Outgoing mayor Mike McGinn frequently said on the campaign trail in his failed reelection bid that there is no mayor’s school and he had to learn on the job.
December 3, 2013 at 10:52 AM
The most prominent group pushing to expand coal exports in Washington state has fired its spokeswoman and may be shifting its strategy in the aftermath of a hot mic incident.
The spokeswoman, Lauri Hennessey, was secretly recorded at a coal conference this fall. Among other lighthearted comments, she called the Puget Sound “so weird” and said an executive once scolded her for telling a Seattle journalist that coal companies are concerned about climate change.
Hennessey’s last day with the group, Alliance for Northwest Jobs and Exports, was Saturday. She is being replaced by Mariana Parks.
The switch may signal a strategy change for the Alliance, which is organizing the push to ship hundreds of millions of tons of Wyoming and Montana coal through Pacific Northwest terminals to Asia. In Washington, terminals have been proposed for Cherry Point in Whatcom County and Longview in Cowlitz County.
The Alliance had been trying to establish a moderate reputation to appeal to the environmentally-conscious Pacific Northwest.
Hennessey has worked with local nonprofits, Democratic politicians and the Environmental Protection Agency. She is one of several “green strategists” coal companies have hired to push their proposals.
Parks has typically worked with business groups and conservatives, and served as a spokeswoman for Republican 2012 gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna.
And another communications firm expected to take a larger role, the DCI Group, one of the more prominent voices for climate-change deniers.
Parks dismissed any suggestion of a strategy shift.
“It’s not a partisan issue,” she said. “It’s much more about how do you get the message about the implications of the proposals out to the broader public.”
Hennessey referred questions to Parks.
December 2, 2013 at 3:40 PM
Two Seattle ballot measures seeking to shake up City Council elections fared quite differently at the polls.
The proposal to elect most councilmembers by geographic districts — Charter Amendment 19 — won big throughout the city.
An analysis of precinct vote returns by The Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo shows the districts measure lost in only five of Seattle’s 952 precincts. The proposal received nearly 66 percent support citywide. The result was a surprising turnaround for Seattle, which had repeatedly rejected similar measures in the past.
Seattle Prop. 1, which would have enacted a public-financing system for City Council candidates, failed narrowly — the ‘no’ side won just 50.4 percent of the vote.
The measure had broad support in many areas, winning more than 60 percent of the vote in Capitol Hill, Wallingford, Fremont, the Central District, Ravenna and the University District.
Its broadest opposition was in West Seattle, Fauntleroy and Magnolia.
The narrow loss means a similar plan could be back on the ballot as early as next year. Rory O’Sullivan, a spokesman for the Prop. 1 campaign said backers are considering all options — including possibly expanding the measure to apply to mayoral contests.
“I think the message we found is that there is a lot of energy behind this issue, a lot of energy to go forward,” O’Sullivan said.
December 2, 2013 at 2:24 PM
Seattle City Councilmember-elect Kshama Sawant piled up big vote advantages in several central city neighborhoods to seal her national-headline-making win over 16-year incumbent Richard Conlin.
Sawant drew 60 percent or higher support from the Central District, Capitol Hill, the International District and Wallingford, according to an analysis of precinct vote returns by The Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo. She also scored more than 55 percent in Rainier Valley, Ballard, Beacon Hill, Fremont and the University District.
Her pattern of support was similar to that of Mayor Mike McGinn, but Sawant was able to stack up more intense support in those neighborhoods. She defeated Conlin 51 to 49 percent citywide.
Conlin’s biggest support (55 percent and higher) came from Seattle’s outer-ring neighborhoods including Laurelhurst, Magnolia, Montlake, Sand Point and West Seattle.
December 2, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Update: 3:40 p.m. – Now with interactive, address-searchable map. Click map image for interactive version. We’ve also posted similar breakdowns for Kshama Sawant’s Seattle City Council win, and for Seattle’s ballot measures on District Elections and Public Campaign Financing
Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn lost his bid for reelection with diminished voter support through most of the city.
An analysis of precinct vote returns by the Seattle Times’ Justin Mayo shows a familiar pattern in city politics. Viewed as the marginally more progressive candidate, McGinn carried Seattle’s most liberal inner-core neighborhoods including Capitol Hill, Fremont, Wallingford, the International District and Central District. That’s similar to the electoral base that carried him to victory in 2009.
But Mayor-Elect Ed Murray ate into McGinn’s base even in those neighborhoods. Compared with 2009, McGinn’s support was down everywhere but parts of southeast Seattle.
The sharpest drop was in Capitol Hill, where McGinn’s support tumbled by 8.9 percentage points compared with four years ago. That’s not a huge surprise, as Murray lives on Capitol Hill and represented the 43rd Legislative District for 18 years.
McGinn’s support fell 7.8 percentage points in the University District/Ravenna area and he lost 5 or more percentage points in Ballard, Delridge, Fauntleroy, Lake City, Magnolia, Queen Anne, South Park and West Seattle.
After four years in office, McGinn’s only increased support for his reelection campaign came in the southeast Seattle neighborhoods of Rainier Beach, Rainier Valley and Beacon Hill.
Murray, meanwhile, attracted his strongest support from Seattle’s outer-ring, waterfront-view neighborhoods including Montlake, Magnolia, Laurelhurst, West Seattle and Queen Anne.
Murray ended election night with a double digit lead on McGinn. But the race tightened substantially in later returns. When the election was certified last week, the final result was Murray 51.5 percent, McGinn, 47.5 percent.
November 29, 2013 at 10:25 AM
The Snohomish County Council on Wednesday named state Rep. John McCoy, D-Tulalip, to replace former Democratic state Sen. Nick Harper.
Harper, of Everett, abruptly resigned Nov. 9, saying in a statement that his work in Olympia “takes me away from my family far too much.”
McCoy, a member of Washington’s Tulalip Tribes, was first elected to the House in 2002 from the 38th District, which represents part of Snohomish County including Everett, Marysville and Tulalip.
McCoy was chair of the House Community Development Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee.
November 25, 2013 at 1:12 PM
WASHINGTON — U.S Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers on Sunday gave birth to her third child — all born during the Spokane Republican’s time in Congress.
McMorris Rodgers released an Instagram photo of her daughter, Brynn Catherine Rodgers, who was born at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md..
The congresswoman and her husband, retired Navy commander Brian Rodgers, also are parents to son Cole, 6, and Grace, who turns 3 next month.
Both Brynn Catherine and her mother are doing well. Her big brother, Cole, was born with Down syndrome, and McMorris Rodgers has been a big proponent for research and disability support.
McMorris Rodgers, 44, chairs the House Republican Conference, making her the No. 4 House GOP leader.
“Nothing compares to the miracle of bringing a new life into the world,” McMorris Rodgers said in her Instagram posting. “She’s beautiful and seems to be taking it all in stride. Our hearts are full.”
November 22, 2013 at 1:20 PM
Senate Democrats raised concerns Friday that the GOP-led majority in Senate is getting rid of top non-partisan committee staff managers.
Senate Democratic Leader Sharon Nelson, D-Maury Island, said it was her understanding there was pressure from the GOP-led majority caucus to “hire some political-type individuals into the non-partisan staff. Interviews were done. Those individuals were not hired … I’m very concerned that may be the underlying cause of this” action to let the managers go.
Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Olympia, sent an email to the Democratic caucus Friday afternoon saying, “I am stunned to let you know that the MCC Leadership have advised (the committee services director and deputy director) that their services are no longer needed and they should find other opportunities by early January. My understanding is that Senators Tom, Parlette, and Fain consulted in advance and made this decision.”
Senate Majority Leader Rodney Tom and Sen. Linda Evans Parlette, the Senate GOP caucus chair, both declined comment. Sen. Joe Fain, R-Auburn, could not be reached.
Fraser went on to write that “this is outside the normal Senate process for terminating an employee. Senate … policy is that an adverse action of this type shall be through a vote of the Senate Employment Committee, of which Senator Nelson and I are members.”
Fraser’s email said an Employment Committee meeting had been scheduled for late afternoon Thursday, “with extremely short notice, and then abruptly canceled.”
“At 6 pm, a meeting took place where Senator Tom advised (the committee staff managers) of the MCC Leadership decision that they should leave Senate employment by early January. (They) were told at that meeting that there were enough votes on the Employment Committee to formalize this action. I want to emphasize that NO meeting of the Employment Committee has occurred, and that as of now none are scheduled.”
Nelson said she has asked the Republican-led majority for more information.
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