Offering asides, recommended links, blogworthy quotations, and more, In Brief is the Northwest Progressive Institute's microblog of world, national, and local politics.


For many, many years the food sector was unassailable. Shelf space in stores was limited; advertising was expensive. Little brands didn’t stand a chance… The industry was protected for so long it didn’t have to worry so much about costs.

—Alexia Howard, an analyst at Sanford C. Bernstein, speaking to Bloomberg Business about the end of easy times for processed food giants like Kraft-Heinz, which is primary owned by Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital.




If you weren't at our Twelfth Anniversary Picnic, you missed this delicious tres leches cake from the Salvadorean Bakery, made specially for NPI!


Bellevue Mayor Claudia Balducci speaks at NPI's Twelfth Anniversary Picnic


Fooling his people may buy Mr. Putin time, and Russians are famously capable of sacrifice. But time and sacrifice will be useful only if Mr. Putin starts to come clean with his people, instead of feeding them propaganda, and begins to look for real solutions to the mess in Ukraine instead of inventing Western conspiracies.

— Putin vs. Parmesan (The New York Times editorial board)



President Barack Obama signs emergency declaration for Washington State

President Barack Obama has responded to Governor Jay Inslee’s request for federal assistance and put his signature to an order authorizing federal resources to help state and local officials fight out-of-control wildfires raging on the Columbia Plateau.

From the White House:

The President today declared an emergency exists in the State of Washington and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local response efforts in the areas affected by wildfires beginning on August 13, 2015, and continuing.

The President’s action authorizes the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), to coordinate all disaster relief efforts which have the purpose of alleviating the hardship and suffering caused by the emergency on the local population, and to provide appropriate assistance for required emergency measures, authorized under Title V of the Stafford Act, to save lives and to protect property and public health and safety, and to lessen or avert the threat of a catastrophe in the counties of Asotin, Chelan, Douglas, Ferry, Klickitat, Okanogan, Pend Oreille, Skamania, Spokane, Stevens, and Yakima and the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Kalispel Tribe of Indians, the Spokane Tribe of Indians, and the Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakima Nation.

Specifically, FEMA is authorized to identify, mobilize, and provide at its discretion, equipment and resources necessary to alleviate the impacts of the emergency.  Emergency protective measures, limited to direct federal assistance, will be provided at 75 percent federal funding.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Benigno Bern Ruiz as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

Thank you, Mr. President!


President Barack Obama briefed on Washington wildfires, White House says

President Barack Obama’s staff have briefed him on the dangerous wildfires burning throughout the western United States, including in Washington, the White House says. From Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz:

The President was updated this evening on the wildfires plaguing the American West, including the tragic loss of three Washington State firefighters who selflessly battled these fires.

On behalf of a grateful nation, the President’s thoughts and prayers are with the families of these brave Americans.

The President directed his team to stay in close touch with state and local officials as their efforts to fight these fires continue. Administration officials will continue to closely monitor the situation and provide Federal assistance as necessary.

Governor Jay Inslee, Lands Commissioner Peter Goldmark, Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, and Representatives Dan Newhouse and Dave Reichert are all visiting the Chelan area today to support the firefighting efforts.

Recommended Link

When fire chief called for help, and no one was left

“It was a costly and deeply personal battle waged on home turf, with two firefighters battling to save their parents’ home, another defending his in-laws’ house, and another losing 120 acres of timber to the flames,” the Seattle Times reports, beginning the story of Stevens County Fire District Chief Rick Anderson.


King County certifies August election; only one fourth of registered voters turned out

King County today certified the results of the August 2015 Top Two election as required by state law. Final turnout was a measly twenty-five percent. Though there were three countywide positions on the ballot, only one fourth of the county’s registered voters bothered to return ballots on time.

Because only one out of four voters voted in this election, the decisions about who to send on to November were effectively made by a few instead of by the many. That’s not how democracy is supposed to work.

Here are several vital statistics for the just-concluded election:

  • Registered voters: 1,183,771
  • Ballots issued: 1,206,231
  • Ballots returned: 295,181
  • Ballots counted: 289,596
  • Ballots cast on AVUs: 98
  • Ballots returned to drop boxes: 56,842
  • Signatures initially challenged: 3,198
  • Signature challenges resolved: 1,685
  • Returned too late: 3,951
  • Returned as undeliverable: 10,998
  • Calls to voter hotline: 2,690
  • Emails from voters: 560

The next election will be the general election. Ballots will be mailed in mid-September to military and overseas voters. Everyone else will be sent a ballot in mid-October. The election will conclude on November 3rd, 2015.



A Tacoma Link streetcar turns towards Freighthouse Square

Recommended Link

NSA spying relies on AT&T’s ‘extreme willingness to help’

“The National Security Agency’s ability to spy on vast quantities of Internet traffic passing through the United States has relied on its extraordinary, decades-long partnership with a single company: the telecom giant AT&T,” reports ProPublica in a new investigative expose published jointly with The New York Times.

Recommended Link

The Closing of the Canadian Mind

Writing for The New York Times, Stephen Marche says of right wing Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper: “His stance has been a know-nothing conservatism, applied broadly and effectively. He has consistently limited the capacity of the public to understand what its government is doing, cloaking himself and his Conservative Party in an entitled secrecy, and the country in ignorance.”


August sunset over the Kitsap Peninsula


The Pacifica Law Group prepares to rebut counsel for Tim Eyman and Kim Wyman in King County Superior Court


Judge Dean Lum listens to oral argument in Huff v. Wyman

Video Clip

From the White House: “Later this month, President Obama will travel to Alaska and shine a spotlight on what Alaskans in particular have come to know: Climate change is one of the biggest threats we face, it is being driven by human activity, and it is disrupting Americans’ lives right now. During the visit, the President will share his experience with people around the country first-hand.”


At my request, legislative leaders agreed during a conference call earlier today to meet with me Monday to begin the necessary and difficult work before us. There is much that needs to be done before a special session can be called. I will ask lawmakers to do that work as quickly as humanly possible so that they can step up to our constitutional and moral obligations to our children and lift the court sanctions.

— Governor Jay Inslee, outlining how he plans to respond to the Supreme Court’s order imposing sanctions on the state for failing to fully fund basic education. The meeting will be in Seattle, time and location to be determined.

Recommended Link

Poll: Bernie Sanders surges ahead of Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire., 44-37

Conventional wisdom spouted by cable talking heads and Beltway pundits posits that Bernie Sanders can’t win the Democratic nomination. His insurgent candidacy can’t possibly be sustained, they say, and besides, he’s trailing in the polls. Or is he? A new poll from Franklin Pierce University and the Boston Herald finds that Sanders has overtaken Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire.


Tony Provine concedes with class

Another Seattle City Council candidate eliminated in last Tuesday’s Top Two election has bowed out with a classy, graceful Facebook post. Last week, it was Rod Hearne; this week, it’s Tony Provine, who ran in the 4th District. Tony writes:

This week, after the first two days of ballot returns, my campaign for the Seattle City Council District 4 position is over.

I conceded the election for this position and contacted each of my opponents in the race.

To Rob Johnson and Michael Maddux, I offered my congratulations as they move on to the general election. They are both talented and capable individuals. In the coming months, residents of District 4 will have more opportunities to see which of them will better represent us.

To Abel Pacheco, I offered my friendship and support. He defied expectations and ran a spirited and impressive campaign. The Wallingford Community Council is fortunate that he is so involved in his community. I look forward to getting to know him better and foresee great things to come.

To Jean Godden, I offered my thanks for her years of public service. Jean has always been receptive to me whenever I called on her. I especially appreciated her strong support of the Seattle Public Library when I was advocating for restoring that institution’s budget cuts. She can be proud of her work on parental leave and gender equity. I pledged my cooperation to work with her during the remainder of her term on neighborhood issues in which we have shared interests, like removing the slum buildings near Roosevelt High School. It would be extremely satisfying to help attain some more achievements.

For me, I don’t know yet what the next move will be. I know that I will always be grateful to all who supported me and worked on my behalf. And I know that I will always be a voice for those who need to be heard. Thank you and Ciao!

Nicely done, Tony! Way to set an example for others to follow.



The sad thing is, I can tell you absolutely that immediately following the next big earthquake, after these old buildings fall down, there will be legislation passed to address this issue… We shouldn’t have to wait for a lot of people to be killed or injured to motivate us to take action.

— Eric Holdeman, former director of King County’s Office of Emergency Management, calling for the city, state, and region to be proactive in retrofitting buildings before the next big quake hits (via The Seattle Times).

Recommended Link

Coca-Cola funds scientists who shift blame for obesity away from bad diets

This must-read New York Times post explains how The Coca-Cola Company, the creator and marketer of many of the world’s best known sugary beverages, uses its deep pockets to influence scientific research into healthy eating (and drinking).



Bernie Sanders visits overflow crowd outside Hec Ed before addressing rally inside

After approximately 12,000 Bernie Sanders supporters filled the University of Washington’s Hec Edmundson Pavilion, another 3,000 who had lined up before the 6 PM start time were given the word that the arena had reached maximum capacity. But cheers erupted within minutes of the disappointing news as Sanders – ever the populist – hiked up the road to the main entrance to greet the overflow crowd.

The independent junior Senator from Vermont used his limited time to stress the importance of “banding together” and refusing to accept the divisive nature of today’s political discourse, before quickly covering a laundry list of the key policy issues that drive his broad populist support.

Among them:

  • the critical fight against big money’s influence in elections, closely linked with the skyrocketing wealth disparity
  • the need to reform the criminal justice system and end institutional prejudice
  • and plans for investments in infrastructure and education

Bernie praised grassroots supporters nationwide for leading such a momentous campaign, before thanking those gathered for being a part of the largest event for any one of the 2016 presidential candidates to date.