December 12, 2013 at 11:27 AM
The state Employment Security Department estimates that 25,000 jobless workers in Washington will lose their unemployment benefits after Dec. 28, when the federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation program ends.
Congress began the program in July 2008, during the recession, and has extended it 11 times in the past five years. But a budget agreement recently reached in Congress does not include another extension.
Since the program began, $6.3 billion in benefits have been paid to more than 450,000 unemployed workers in Washington. Workers received up to 63 weeks of unemployment benefits in this state, including 26 weeks of regular benefits and 37 weeks of emergency unemployment compensation. After Dec. 28, only regular benefits will be available for most Washington workers.
Roughly half the unemployed workers affected live in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties.
December 11, 2013 at 1:56 PM
Seattle Mayor-elect Ed Murray today named more members of his leadership team, including two deputy mayors and two administrators to oversee the city’s work on police reform and waterfront development.
Murray said he was hiring people with skills in collaboration and innovation.
“These are highly capable individuals who are ready to bring their energy, experience and expertise with them on day one of my administration,” Murray said.
The mayor-elect also said he would announce his process for searching for a new police chief soon after he takes office Jan. 1.
“I don’t have the keys to the place yet,” Murray joked, but said that with Mayor Mike McGinn’s 20/20 plan for police reform expiring in November, he would develop new strategies for implementing the changes in the force mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice. One of the new appointments announced today was former Seattle City Councilwoman Tina Podlodowski, a former chair of the Council’s Public Safety Committee and a member of the Community Police Commission, to lead the city’s police reform efforts.
December 10, 2013 at 3:57 PM
The state Senate majority caucus congratulated itself Tuesday for surviving a year and vowed to pursue legislation that did not pass last session, including changes to K-12 education and workers compensation.
The Senate Majority Coalition Caucus was born a year ago when Democratic Sens. Rodney Tom, of Medina, and Tim Sheldon, of Potlatch, announced they’d caucus with Republicans, giving the GOP control of the chamber.
Tom and other leaders said their caucus, during the session that starts Jan. 13, will take up measures such as a bill that would allow school districts to lay off employees based on job performance, instead of seniority.
The caucus also wants to resume efforts to change the state workers compensation system. Last session the caucus pushed legislation that would let workers settle compensation claims for a lump-sum amount rather than pursuing a lifetime disability pension or other benefits – an idea strongly opposed by labor.
When asked about meeting a state Supreme Court mandate to increase funding for education, Tom, the Senate majority leader, said during a news conference it’s all about prioritizing spending within existing resources. “We should never have a conversation that we need new revenue for education,” he said.
Caucus leaders would not speculate on the prospect of completing a transportation tax package before the session starts. The GOP-led caucus has been negotiating with Democrats, who control the House and governor’s office, for months.
December 6, 2013 at 5:11 PM
Democrats and Republicans clashed Friday during a meeting of the Climate Legislative and Executive Workgroup, created by the Legislature to recommend ways to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Legislature in 2008 passed a law calling for the state to reduce total greenhouse-gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, to 25 percent below 1990 levels by 2035, and to 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
The climate panel, created at the request of Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee, has been meeting since May to try to hash out recommendations to the governor and the Legislature. There are two Republicans and two Democrats on the panel. Inslee is a nonvoting member.
At Friday’s meeting Inslee tested the waters on whether to recommend that the Legislature adopt a cap on carbon pollution “with binding limits and market mechanisms,” a topic he’s broached before.
“My view is the committee ought to recommend that we do take action … that inaction is not an option,” Inslee told the panel, adding later ,“In order to achieve a binding, successful program of carbon-pollution reduction, our state needs a cap … We cannot allow unlimited spewing of carbon dioxide into our air and eventually into our water. That may be the single most important thing that we can achieve for the state of Washington.”
When Inslee asked other members of the panel how they felt about his ideas, Republicans weren’t happy.
Both Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Rep. Shelly Short, R-Addy, said the state needed to look at the potential economic impacts of such proposals before moving ahead.
“I will not support a policy that I don’t know what the economic impacts on Washington state are going to be,” Short said.
Inslee pressed the matter, saying at one point, “I’m wondering about our ability … to reach consensus if we have several members who want to make recommendations and several who do not.”
Short snapped back that “What I really resent, governor, is you intimating that we don’t care … I just really resent being put into a corner today, governor.”
The debate devolved from there. Ericksen eventually asked for a short recess for everyone to cool off. They later agreed to adjourn, and come back for more discussions on a broad spectrum of ideas at the next meeting.
The panel has two more meetings scheduled, including a public hearing on Dec. 13.
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.
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 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.
November 22, 2013 at 8:55 AM
CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly said Ed Murray had met with all department directors this week. Murray has not yet met with them all.
Seattle Director of Transportation Peter Hahn resigned late Thursday after being informed by Mayor-elect Ed Murray that he wouldn’t be kept on in the new administration.
Murray’s campaign confirmed that Murray began meeting with city department directors this week. By late today, Murray had announced that three other department heads would not be returning and one was retiring.
Budget Director Beth Goldberg, Intergovernmental Affairs Director Marco Lowe and Personnel Director David Stewart all were told that they would not be part of the new administration. Rick Hooper, the director of the Office of Housing, announced his retirement. Catherine Lester, interim director of human services, has been asked to stay on as Murray searches for a permanent director.
Goldberg was credited with guiding the city through a steep recession, rebuilding its rainy-day fund and making the budget more accessible to the public. Marco Lowe was one of outgoing Mayor Mike McGinn’s only holdovers from the Greg Nickels administration. Lowe ran Nickels’ 2002 campaign for mayor and then took a senior job in the administration as Nickels’ director of community relations. Before returning to Seattle to work for McGinn, Lowe was chief of staff for the New York City Department of Small Business Services.
McGinn thanked all the directors for their service to the city in a news release issued after Murray’s announcement.
Hahn was one of McGinn’s highest-profile department directors, helping the mayor implement high-priority projects such as an updated Transit Plan and advancing planning efforts for high-capacity transit corridors.
McGinn noted that when it started snowing, Hahn set up a cot in his office so he could work around the clock overseeing plowing, salting and de-icing operations.
“He’s done great work rebuilding public trust in SDOT’s commitment to the basics,” McGinn said.
Richard Sheridan, SDOT spokesman, said Hahn was leaving today for a planned vacation and would be out of the office for the next week. “Peter notified staff late yesterday that he would not be serving in the new administration,” Sheridan said.
City Councilmember Tom Rasmussen, chair of the council Transportation Committee, praised Hahn as a hands-on administrator and a conscientious public servant. “He was a tremendous SDOT director. He cared deeply about having a well-functioning department.”
But Rasmussen speculated that Murray, a former state Senate Transportation chair, wants to make his own mark on the department.
During the mayoral campaign, Murray said he wanted an integrated transportation system with all the different elements, including roads, buses and light rail, working well together. In pre-election polling, Seattle residents said congestion was one of their biggest frustrations.
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