Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Tim Eyman, Republican lobbyist

A few months ago, I made the observation here on the Cascadia Advocate that with his initiative factory idle, Tim Eyman was turning into a full time lobbyist and unabashed cheerleader for the Senate Republican caucus.

It would seem this transformation is about complete, judging by the contents of Eyman’s recent electronic missives, which he sends about twice a week.

Eyman has always had a relationship with the Republican Party, but I don’t think it’s ever been this tight before. In the past, Eyman has felt free to criticize Republicans when warranted, especially when Republican legislators or elected officials strayed from Eyman’s agenda. Only two years ago, Eyman was vociferously criticizing Senate Republicans for trying to raise Washingtonians’ property taxes.

This year, Republicans are trying to do the same thing, but Eyman hasn’t said so much as a word against them. Instead, he’s given Democratic leaders — from Governor Jay Inslee to House Speaker Frank Chopp to Democratic senatorial candidate Manka Dhingra — a double helping of his scorn.

At this point, it appears Republican legislators in Washington State have achieved sainthood with Tim Eyman. They can do no wrong.

Senate Republicans are seeking to raise the property taxes of most Washingtonians at this very moment, but that is no longer blasphemy in Eyman’s book. They’re getting a pass. Meanwhile, Democrats are being attacked for wanting to raise taxes — including (and, no,  I’m not making this up) — property taxes.

“There are lots of things to dislike about Democrats,” Eyman wrote in a June 15th email. “They love to micromanage what we eat and drink. They police every spoken word to find offense. They lecture, they condescend. But what is truly infuriating about Democrats is their arrogant refusal to accept the voters’ verdict on taxes.”

I couldn’t stop laughing after I read that.

Voters in Puget Sound last year voted overwhelmingly to pass Sound Transit 3, and Tim Eyman has whined and griped constantly about that result ever since.

Why won’t Tim accept the will of the voters? Why won’t he abide by the voters’ verdict on these taxes? Answer: Because the vote didn’t go his way.

Eyman believes his opposition — namely, Democrats — should have to operate by a different set of rules than his own party. We have a term for that in the netroots community. It’s called the IOKIYAR principle (It’s Okay If You’re A Republican).

Eyman demonstrated he is now an adherent of the IOKIYAR principle in a subsequent paragraph in that very same June 15th email:

At a time when car tab taxes are skyrocketing, Democrats demand more. When property taxes are taxing struggling working families out of their homes, Democrats push for more.

It takes some nerve to blast your opposition over something your own party is trying to do. We know Eyman isn’t ignorant of what’s in the Senate Republican budget. He’s commented on it. Praised it. So we know he’s okay with it.

But heaven forbid Democratic legislators listen to what the majority of Washington voters are saying and advocate for a budget that amply funds our schools as our cherished state Constitution requires, whether through a capital gains tax, pollution tax, or other revenue source that doesn’t exacerbate our upside down tax code.

This week, Eyman took things even further, blaming Democrats (and only Democrats) for the lack of progress finalizing a budget that can pass both houses of the Legislature, declaring, “The Democrats are going nuclear this session. Why? Because any success will show that divided government works.”

Not one to restrain himself, Eyman didn’t stop there.

“[T]he [Senate Republicans’] legislative success has infuriated the crazies on the left to the point that Speaker Frank Chopp can’t restrain them any more. The prisoners have taken over the insane asylum. In the Democrats’ House and Senate caucuses, it’s bedlam, it’s chaos. None of the crazies are willing to agree to anything.”

I’m not sure why, but for some reason, reading Eyman’s false and nonsensical characterization of the dynamic in Olympia reminded me of that time that ex-Fox Noise host Bill O’Reilly threw a tantrum and called the netroots community Satanists on his program. A commenter on Think Progress promptly retorted:

So, Bill thinks we worship the devil… and Coulter says we are godless.

I’m so confused.

Well, at least the right wing is there to tell me how to think.

The real reason we don’t have a budget yet is because Senate Republicans have refused to negotiate a go-home agreement with House Democrats and Governor Inslee, not because Democratic legislators are quarreling with each other.

Republicans have deliberately chosen to waste time and run out the clock, figuring that a game of chicken will serve their interests. Divided government has once again brought us to the precipice of a government shutdown for the second biennium in a row. That’s pretty damning evidence that divided government isn’t working.

If Senate Republicans were the minority party, it’s reasonable to believe the Legislature would have already gone home for the year. We’d have a budget.

In the event Senate Republicans (or just some of them) were to agree to a pollution tax as part of a final budget deal — something Eyman seems afraid of, considering what he said today — I wonder how he would react.

Would he maintain his new Republicans-can-do-no-wrong stance and find a way to justify their actions, or would he break with the Republicans and give them flak for voting to raise revenue? (A majority of Washingtonians want the Legislature to raise revenue to ensure our kids are getting the amply funded education they deserve.)

Although Eyman won’t be on the ballot this year (it’s the first time in twenty years that Washington voters will enjoy consecutive Eyman-free general elections), he is still urging people to give him money to qualify an initiative with every email he sends — which I find downright dishonest.

Considering that he’s using the money he’s presently raising from his remaining donors to pay expenses that are associated with lobbying (including travel) he really should be registered as a lobbyist with the Public Disclosure Commission.

But of course he’s not.

Money, by the way, isn’t the only thing Eyman regularly asks of the small circle of people that’s inexplicably stuck by him. Though Eyman’s missives usually begin with an attack on Democrats, they then proceed to pleas to send a canned message to all one hundred and forty-seven legislators.

These pleas typically consist of exhortations like this:

It’s critical that each and every one of us communicates with Olympia’s legislators RIGHT NOW. I ask you — RIGHT NOW — to email this, or something like this to ALL legislators.

Do understand that by Olympia’s legislators, Eyman means Washington’s legislators. Olympia’s legislators are the people who represent Olympia in the Legislature, namely Democrats Sam Hunt, Laurie Dolan, and Beth Doglio. But when Eyman asks his followers to email legislators, he really does mean “all legislators”, as in all ninety-eight members of the House and all forty-nine members of the Senate, not merely their own representatives or legislators from a particular locale such as Olympia.

Many email providers limit the number of recipients that can be included on a single message or that can be sent to in a fixed period of time, so it’s quite possible that some of Eyman’s followers are finding it hard to follow his instructions.

Testifying in front of committees or whole legislative bodies is the other component of Eyman’s lobbying, and as mentioned, the travel he regularly undertakes in order to speak in person for or against state bills and local ordinances is being financed through donations that are supposed to be for qualifying initiatives.

If you look at Eyman’s most recent PDC reports, you’ll see under the expenditures tab that Eyman and his associates are mostly paying back themselves for travel expenses, telephone expenses, data entry expenses, even newspaper subscriptions.

These are the largest expenses of the $17,986.78 in expenditures reported by the latest incarnation of Eyman’s Voters Want More Choices committee this year:

ReportFAGAN JANET1/18/2017$1,560.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET4/14/2017$795.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET5/25/2017$675.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET3/16/2017$585.00DATA ENTRY
ReportFAGAN JANET2/23/2017$570.00DATA ENTRY

Notice that Verizon and Databar are the only vendors on this list. The rest of the payments are either reimbursements to Eyman and the Fagans (his associates) or to compensate Janet Fagan for data entry. The list of reimbursements is actually longer than this; the above is only what shows on page 1 of the expenses tab.

Neck and neck in Georgia: Jon Ossoff, Karen Handel trading the lead in early counting

A short time ago, voting in the special election to select a successor to departed U.S. Representative Tom Price in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District ended, and the three counties in the district began releasing early results.

So far, it’s been extremely close, with Democratic candidate Jon Ossoff trading the lead with Republican candidate (and Trump booster) Karen Handel. Ossoff is clinging to the narrowest of leads at present — he and Handel each have 50% of the vote. Many more ballots remain to be counted, but considering how Republican this district is, Ossoff’s performance is nothing short of remarkable.

(Price won the district by a twenty-three point margin just last year, but there’s a possibility tonight that Republicans could lose it. That’s a big deal.)

Here’s where we stand as of 5:45 PM Pacific:

GA-06 Special Election: 13 of 208 Precincts Reporting – 6%
NamePartyVotesVote %
Ossoff, JonDemocratic61,37550%
Handel, KarenRepublican60,18250%

By 5:10 PM Pacific, Ossoff had taken his first lead of the night, with 58,152 votes to Handel’s 56,619 (51% to 49%). Prior to that, as of 4:58 PM Pacific (when only the first drop from Fulton County had come in), Handel had been ahead, with 37,140 votes to Ossoff’s 35,111 (51% to 49%).

It’s a good sign for Ossoff that he has been able to remain just slightly ahead of Handel as the numbers get updated. We wouldn’t be surprised to see the lead flip back and forth a few more times before the night is out.

A few polling places in DeKalb County have been held open past the deadline to allow voters to participate in the election, according to Atlanta’s CBS affiliate:

A judge has signed an order approving a petition by the Board of Registration and Elections to extend voting hours for 30 minutes at the polls located at Holy Cross Catholic Church (3773 Chamblee Tucker Road). Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has informed CBS46 that DeKalb has obtained a judicial order to extend voting hours until 7:30 p.m., Tuesday evening at Livsey Elementary and Embry Hills polling locations in Tucker.

The report doesn’t way why voting hours were extended.

Seattle Times article on state’s rising health insurance rates relies heavily on the perspective of a national right wing think tank

This morning, Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler’s office announced in a news release that Washingtonians who buy health insurance through the state’s Healthplanfinder exchange can expect a significant increase in rates when the time comes to enroll in a plan for the 2018 calendar year.

“I’m very concerned by the proposed changes we’re seeing,” Kreidler said in the release. “I know these numbers will be extremely upsetting to people who buy their own health insurance. They’re upsetting to me.”

“We’re going to spend the next several months reviewing every assumption insurers have made to make sure their proposed increases are justified.”

The Seattle Times tasked reporter Bob Young with filing a story on the news. Disappointingly, instead of weaving together many different perspectives to provide a nuanced take on the rate increases, Young opted to rely heavily on the views of a national right wing think tank to drive his story.

The result is an unbalanced article that might as well have been written by someone working inside of the Beltway, as opposed to a local reporter with local knowledge and lots of credible sources in local medical, political, and business circles.

Nine paragraphs in the story (out of twenty-six total) either present the words or the ideas of Joe Antos, who works at the right wing American Enterprise Institute in the District of Columbia. No countervailing progressive perspective is provided in the article, and no other “expert opinion” is cited besides that of Antos. He’s the only person quoted in the story who isn’t an elected official.

The article has a pox on both their houses theme, with Young making reference to “a new round of partisan finger pointing” and quoting Antos as saying “blame should be shared by all sides”. Another fine example of false equivalency.

But of the nine paragraphs dedicated to Antos’ perspective, this one is my favorite:

“I’m not arguing against social welfare,” Antos said. “The challenge Obama didn’t take up and Republicans in Congress are having problems with is how to make this operate more like business than a forced charitable operation.”

What nonsense! The last thing any American should want is for our healthcare system to be operated “more like [a] business” than it is today.

When people are sick or injured, they need to be able to focus on getting well. It’s hard to feel better when the specter of medical bills is looming over you.

The whole point of the Patient Protection Act was to protect Americans from the worst excesses of the greedy, mostly for-profit insurance industry — like denying coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The PPA was a step towards a more humane future, in which care is simply available as opposed to affordable.

Healthcare is a human right — it is not a privilege that people should have to pay for. Healthcare therefore must and should be funded as a public service.

Unfortunately, this perspective is entirely missing from Young’s article.

If this had been written for the opinion pages, or for inclusion in the metro section as a column, the decision to rely heavily on Antos wouldn’t be so troubling.

Opinion pieces are subjective by their nature, after all — we ourselves run mostly subjective posts here on the Cascadia Advocate.

But this piece is supposed to be objective reporting. So it should offer many perspectives. It should be nuanced and contemplative. It’s not.

The Seattle Times’ newsroom is capable of putting out higher quality reporting than this. Here’s hoping their next article on this subject is more reasonable.

Ecommerce giant Amazon to buy Whole Foods grocery chain in blockbuster deal

Merger mania continues:

Amazon said on Friday that it had agreed to buy the upscale grocery chain Whole Foods for $13.4 billion, as the online retailer looks to conquer new territory in the supermarket aisle.

For Amazon, the deal marks an ambitious push into the mammoth grocery business, an industry that in the United States accounts for around $700 to $800 billion in annual sales. Amazon is also amplifying the competition with Walmart, which has been struggling to play catch-up to the online juggernaut.

It’s the biggest acquisition in Amazon’s history.

For Inc., the blockbuster $13.7 billion deal to buy Whole Foods Market Inc. is a giant step toward dominating every part of a consumer’s shopping experience.

Amazon is already in your mailbox, with all of the items you’re purchasing with your Prime membership; your living room, with its Echo device and Prime television services; your library, with its Kindle; and your closet, with Zappos. Now it wants to fill your fridge.

The two companies’ press release touting the deal was relatively short and light on corporate mumbo-jumbo. Phrases like “synergy” were mercifully not used.

“Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO.

“Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they’re doing an amazing job and we want that to continue.”

“This partnership presents an opportunity to maximize value for Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, while at the same time extending our mission and bringing the highest quality, experience, convenience and innovation to our customers,” said John Mackey, Whole Foods Market co-founder and CEO.

Whole Foods Market will continue to operate stores under the Whole Foods Market brand and source from trusted vendors and partners around the world.

John Mackey will remain as CEO of Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market’s headquarters will stay in Austin, Texas.

Completion of the transaction is subject to approval by Whole Foods Market’s shareholders, regulatory approvals and other customary closing conditions. The parties expect to close the transaction during the second half of 2017.

If this deal goes through, Amazon will — almost overnight — become a major player in the brick and mortar retail industry. It already dominates ecommerce.

Now, Amazon is looking to become a hybrid retailer and challenge Walmart for supremacy as the nation’s largest retailer.

Whole Foods has hundreds of locations all over the country. It’s not hard to imagine Amazon installing its lockers inside of each of those locations, or using them to further expand its Amazon Fresh grocery delivery service.

Shares in many of Amazon and Whole Foods’ competitors were down in trading today, as investors contemplated the potential ramifications from the tie-up. Traditional grocers like Safeway and Kroger are particularly vulnerable to an aggressive play by Amazon into the grocery sector.

Whole Foods currently has an exclusive delivery arrangement with Instacart which isn’t due to expire for several more years. It’s unclear how that arrangement will be affected by the Amazon acquisition should it go through. Instacart’s relationship with Whole Foods reportedly drives less than 10% of its revenue.

The investment banks that advised Amazon and Whole Foods on this deal (Goldman Sachs, Evercore Partners) will surely make tidy sums if it is approved.

Whether shareholders and shoppers will benefit is another matter. Merger mania has produced plenty of deals over the last few decades that haven’t unlocked any value for corporate shareholders or strengthened the U.S. economy.

Whole Foods may offer fewer jobs going forward if Amazon takes it over.

Many deals don’t receive an appropriate level of regulatory scrutiny. We hope that won’t be the case with this proposed acquisition of Whole Foods.

Congratulations to Representative Javier Valdez, Washington State’s newest legislator!

Today, the Metropolitan King County Council appointed Javier Valdez, forty-six, as Washington State’s newest legislator. Representative Valdez succeeds Jessyn Farrell, who resigned several days ago to focus on her Seattle mayoral campaign.

Javier Valdez

Javier Valdez watches the roll call at the 2016 Democratic National Convention (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Javier is well known in Democratic Party circles in Washington State; he represents the 46th District on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) and the 7th Congressional District on the WSDCC’s executive board. He previously served the WSDCC as one of two King County committeemembers, and was a delegate to the 2016 Democratic National Convention for Hillary Clinton.

In last Saturday’s special nominating caucus, Javier was the first choice of PCOs in the 46th District to succeed Jessyn Farrell. The others chosen on the list of three were Melissa Wingard-Phillips Taylor and Nigel Herbig.

I’ve known Javier for many years and have always appreciated his support of NPI’s work, including his attendance at our annual Spring Fundraising Gala.

Javier’s calm thinking and strong command of parliamentary procedure have served the Democratic Party well over the years. I am confident the Washington State Legislature and the House Democratic caucus will benefit from Javier’s talents.

Javier Valdez sworn in

Javier Valdez is sworn in as the state’s newest legislator (Photo: Mario Brown/NPI)

Washington’s House and Senate have very few Latinx members (even though the state has a substantial Latinx and Spanish-speaking population), so Javier’s appointment will also strengthen the institution’s ethnic diversity.

Javier joins the Legislature at a difficult time. The state is only days away from a government shutdown because legislators haven’t been seriously negotiating on a budget. Senate Republicans have been deliberately dragging their feet out of the belief that procrastinating will serve their interests.

As a result of Javier’s appointment, the House Democratic caucus is now back at full strength and has enough members (fifty) to pass legislation again.

The completion of this nominating and appointment process for the 46th should help Democrats increase pressure on Republicans to negotiate with them.

On behalf of NPI, I extend Javier our warmest congratulations on his appointment. We look forward to seeing him in action in person in Olympia and on TVW.

LIVE from Seattle: Who will succeed Jessyn Farrell? Democratic PCOs selecting nominees

Good morning from Lake City. I’m here at the Seattle Mennonite Church, where the Democratic precinct committee officers of the 46th Legislative District are gathered to draw up a list of candidates to succeed Jessyn Farrell, who recently resigned from the state House to run for Mayor of Seattle.

Washington's 46th legislative district

Washington’s 46th legislative district encompasses neighborhoods in north Seattle along with Lake Forest Park, Kenmore, and parts of Bothell (Washington State Mapbook)

Because Jessyn has quit the legislature to focus on her mayoral candidacy, a vacancy now exists for state representative in the 46th.

The Washington State Constitution stipulates that the process for filling a Democratic legislative vacancy begins with the naming of three candidates from the same district and of the same party by the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC) or the relevant county Democratic central committee.

The WSDCC specifies in its bylaws that when a vacancy is declared, the county or state party chair shall call a special nominating caucus of precinct committee officers from that district for the purpose of drawing up a list of three names to recommend to the King County Council for its consideration.

That’s what’s happening today. I will be updating this post at periodic intervals to summarize the proceedings that are taking place.

10:56 AM: Initial credential count shows 84 of 122 PCO’s present. The names of eight candidates have been placed into nomination, seven of whom are present.

  • Nigel Herbig
  • Melissa Taylor
  • Javier Valdez
  • Laurie Lippold
  • Jill Geary
  • Lelach Reva
  • Olivier BenHaim (not present)
  • Betsy Walker

11:02 AM: The body is at ease until 12:00 noon and the candidate’s forum is underway.

All candidates except Javier Valdez have pledged to support the PCO’s top choice when the nominees go before the King County Council for appointment. Valdez is also the only candidate that stated (by ‘YES’ card in a lightning round) that he would run in 2018 if not appointed.

11:48 AM: After a 45-minute question and answer forum, in which there was much consensus, the candidates are now mingling with PCOs on the floor garnering support for the upcoming vote.

12:00 PM: King County Democrats Chair Bailey Stober has called the meeting back to order, drawing names at random from a box for candidates or surrogates to make final statements.

In a calm, personal speech, Lelah Reva tells the audience she has a unique content expertise among all legislators in Olympia. There are currently no physicians serving in the legislature “where crucial healthcare decisions are being made”.

Former 46th LD chair introduces Betsy Walker, touting her drive to do the work on the streets, including areas outside of Seattle. Candidate Walker then lists her top policy priorities including introducing a carbon tax and family sick leave.

Nigel Herbig, a Kenmore City Councilmember and former Jessyn Farrell Legislative Assistant touts his support from Farrell and his accomplishments at the local level, declaring himself the only candidate with a track record in elected office and experience at the legislature.

A proxy is now speaking on behalf of Rabbi Olivier BenHaim, who could not be present today.

Melissa Taylor, a software engineer and executive and citizen lobbyist in Olympia. Calls herself a creative, resourceful innovator. She cites her building of a multi-million dollar business for Dell in Asia, time as a citizen lobbyist in Olympia, and mother.

Jill Geary, a current Seattle School Board Director cites her strong education background at a time when education policy is of central focus at the legislature. Geary’s role on the Seattle School Board has also given her experience working on legislation in Olympia.

Javier Valdez is introduced by former Congressman Jim McDermott who sells the candidate as “not a showhorse- a workhorse.” Valdez tells his story as the son of farm workers from Central Washington and a product of public education who has been dedicated to the 46th LD Democrats for years.

Laurie Lippold, introduces herself as a long-time citizen activist involved with countless pieces of legislation from inception to implementation. she has the relationships and knows how to build bridges and consensus.

12:33 PM: The final credential count shows 90 of 122 PCO’s present. Voting by ballot begins now.

12:45 PM: The first vote count:

Javier Valdez – 35

Nigel Herbig – 20

Melissa Taylor – 15

Laurie Lippold – 11

Betsy Walker – 6

Jill Geary – 1

Lelach Reva – 1

Olivier BenHaim – 1

12:49 PM: The second round of voting is now underway.

Javier Valdez is the top choice of the 46th LD PCO’s. The results of the run-off between the top two candidates are as follows:

Javier Valdez – 51

Nigel Herbig – 38

12:56 PM: Voting is now underway to determine the second and third ranked candidates to send to the King County Council for appointment.

1:03 PM: 86 ballots cast and no candidate received 50%+1, so we are now entering another round of voting between top two remaining candidates, Nigel Herbig and Melissa Taylor.

1:08 PM: Melissa Taylor is the second ranked choice.

Melissa Taylor – 43

Nigel Herbig – 40 votes

Balloting is now underway for the 3rd and final nominee to send before the King County Council.

1:16 PM: The third and final candidate to go before the King County Council for appointment will be Nigel Herbig, who received 45 of the 79 votes in the final round.

1:20 PM: The meeting is now adjourned. The final nominees to go before the King County Council for appointment to the state house are ranked as follows:

#1: Javier Valdez

#2: Melissa Taylor

#3: Nigel Herbig

Taylor and Herbig have previously stated they would support the top choice of the PCO’s, so Valdez will likely face no opposition when the nominees go before the council.

NPI congratulates all three well-qualified candidates on their nominations.

Kansas Republican legislators override their Norquistian governor, restore income taxes

Having come to the realization that trying to drown the people’s government in a bathtub is actually a really, really, really bad idea, Republican legislators in Kansas last night joined forces with Democrats to restore income tax revenue that was lost when Kansas embarked on a disastrous tax cutting experiment several years ago at the behest of Governor Sam Brownback, a disciple of Grover Norquist.

The Topeka Capital-Journal reports:

The Senate and House defied Gov. Sam Brownback on Tuesday night by overriding his veto of a bill raising Kansas income taxes by $1.2 billion over two years to fill a gaping hole in state revenue and bank money to improve funding of public education.

Both chambers adopted the landmark tax legislation, but Brownback wasted no time in rejecting their work on the 109th day of the annual session. The Republican governor issued a veto message declaring Senate Bill 30 the largest tax increase in state history, clearly damaging to businesses’ job growth and destructive to the well-being of families.

The Senate, which contains 31 GOP members and nine Democrats, voted 27-13 for the two-thirds majority necessary to reverse the governor’s action. The threshold was attained when Sen. Rick Wilborn, R-McPherson, agreed to support the override after previously voting against the tax bill.

“The Legislature has the power to override the veto. I see no other path,” said Senate Vice President Jeff Longbine, R-Emporia.

Desperately clinging to his unreasonable no-new-taxes position, Brownback had proposed a farce of a budget that would have weakened Kansas’ already perilous financial position even further. Kansas legislators rejected Brownback’s proposal and determined that the only way to safeguard the state’s future was to defy him.

Considering how Republican Kansas is, this is a remarkable development. Republicans run the show in Kansas — it’s one party rule there — and so they have to govern. They can’t be armchair critics because they’re in charge.

Kansas Republicans were warned that Brownback’s Norquistian plot would only lead to disaster. But they did not listen. And so they had to learn a hard lesson.

The truth about taxes is that they are necessary. Without taxes, we don’t have a country. Taxes pay for all the public services that we depend on in our daily lives. Schools to educate our children. Roads and bridges to drive on. Mass transit so we have mobility options. Police, fire, and emergency medical services. Libraries to permit access to knowledge. Parks, pools, and trails to recreate in.

These things, collectively the commons, or what we own as a people — aren’t free. We have to pay for them. Right wing Republicans have suggested for years that we either don’t need these things, or that we can have them without paying for them. And they are wrong — completely wrong — on both counts.

At times, Republicans like Sam Brownback have dishonestly tried to sell their tax cut schemes by claiming that tax cuts stimulate the economy to such an effect that revenue will not be impaired and there will be no harmful effects on public services.

But we know from experience that such schemes lead to disastrous results. Trickle down doesn’t. Giving tax cuts to the wealthy is a recipe for further impoverishment.

Public services need dependable revenue, and dependable revenue is generated by levying taxes. The taxes we pay can be thought of as the price of membership in our state and country. Together, by pooling our resources, we can invest in the things we need, like public schools. We can’t have those things otherwise.

And taxes should be levied as fairly and responsibility as possible. Ability to pay should be the primary consideration when drawing up a tax code.

Kansas sensibly has a state income tax. Restoring that tax so that it can once again generate a more appropriate level of revenue for the state was a necessary action.

The Legislature should have gone even further, but again, considering the degree to which the Republican Party dominates Kansas politics, what happened last night is something of a miracle. Enough Republicans came to their senses to override a veto by a man who ostensibly serves as Kansas’ chief executive, but has in reality been running the state right into the ground.

To the National Federation of Independent Business and other Brownback allies who are upset with this vote, we ask: Where is your patriotism?

It is patriotic to be a taxpayer and pay your dues. Healthy public services are the foundation for broad prosperity. Our economy is stronger when it is inclusive, and we can include more people in our economy by pooling our resources.

Every businessperson should understand and appreciate the concept of an investment. Paying taxes to create and sustain great public services is an investment. Through the wise investment of our tax dollars, we’ve been able to afford many scientific, medical, and technological breakthroughs.

Consider all the technologies developed by NASA or NASA’s contractors that were necessary for us to successfully explore space. The development of those technologies was a huge boon to our private sector.

A strong private sector requires a strong public sector. That is why it is so important we invest in our public sector. That is what taxes are all about.

Grover Norquist’s philosophy of drowning government in a bathtub is disastrous for the United States of America and will only lead to utter ruin.

It’s good to see at least some Republicans in Kansas now recognize that.

Nine more states and Puerto Rico join United States Climate Alliance, quadrupling numbers

The United States Climate Alliance — founded last week by Washington Governor Jay Inslee, California Governor Jerry Brown, and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo — is only a few days old. But already, its membership has more than tripled.

Yesterday, the founding members of the Alliance announced that nine more states have joined, plus Puerto Rico. The nine new states are Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia.

Here’s the full press release:

The U.S. Climate Alliance announced that Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, Vermont and Virginia have all joined the coalition, which is committed to upholding the Paris Accord and taking aggressive action on climate change.

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Accord, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, and California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. formed the Alliance to convene U.S. states committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

“Those of us who understand science and feel the urgency of protecting our children’s air and water are as united as ever in confronting one of the greatest challenges of our lifetime,” Gov. Jay Inslee said.

“Our collective efforts to act on climate will ensure we maintain the United State’s commitment to curb carbon pollution while advancing a clean energy economy that will bring good-paying jobs to America’s workers.”

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” California Gov. Edmund G. Brown, Jr. said.  “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

“As the federal government turns its back on the environment, New York and states across the country are picking up the mantle of climate leadership and showing the world it’s possible to address climate change while also creating good-paying careers,” New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said.

“The U.S. Climate Alliance is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We welcome these 9 new members and look forward to collaborating and maintaining the momentum in the global effort to protect our planet, while jumpstarting the clean energy economy.”

“Connecticut has been a national leader in combating climate change and we have no plans of slowing down our efforts,” Connecticut Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said. “In the absence of leadership from the White House in addressing climate change, it is incumbent upon the states to take action in order to protect their residents. We remain committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Climate Agreement because it is the right thing to do for not only the future of our state, but for the future of our planet. I am proud to stand with my fellow governors in support of efforts to reverse the harmful effects of global warming and to send a message to the rest of the world that we accept the science of climate change and we will not let the misguided beliefs of a few ruin our planet.”

“Delaware is the country’s lowest-lying state and with 381 miles of coastline, climate change is a very real threat to our future,” Delaware Gov. John Carney said. “As sea levels rise, more than 17,000 Delaware homes, nearly 500 miles of roadway and thousands of acres of wildlife habitat including our critical wetlands are at risk of permanent inundation. Rising average temperatures and an increase in extreme weather events also pose health risks to Delawareans, and threaten our economy. The U.S. should lead in the global fight against climate change. Delaware is proud to join this coalition of states providing that necessary leadership.”

“As the Commonwealth reiterates its commitment to exceed the emission reduction targets of the Paris Climate Agreement, today we join the U.S. Climate Alliance to expand on our efforts while partnering with other states to combat climate change,” Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said. “After speaking with Governors Cuomo and Scott, our administration looks forward to continued, bipartisan collaboration with other states to protect the environment, grow the economy and deliver a brighter future to the next generation.”

“I am very pleased to announce that Minnesota will join the U.S. Climate Alliance, to uphold the tenets of the Paris Climate Change Agreement in our state,” Minnesota Gov.  Mark Dayton said. “President Trump’s withdrawal will cause serious damage to our environment and our economy. Nevertheless, Minnesota and other states will show the world what we can achieve by working together to conserve energy, to use cleaner and renewable energy, and to leave a livable planet to our children and grandchildren.”

“The ‘America First’ doctrine should put our children first too,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown said. “Future generations deserve to inherit a world they can thrive in, not one that plays politics and ignores the fact our climate is changing. Despite the decision by the White House to retreat, it is our moral obligation to fulfill the goals of the Paris Agreement. Oregon will continue to make meaningful strides, with the rest of the world, to ensure our communities and economies adapt to meet the challenge of climate change.”

“Climate change is a real problem for all and requires immediate action to ensure future generations are left with a sustainable planet,” Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló saidOur administration is committed to protecting the environment. As a Governor, who is also a scientist, I value science and data as primary tools in the decision making process. As such, I strongly oppose the withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. Our administration understands that all policy decisions, even those perceived to being small, can have big, lasting effects on our planet.  Puerto Rico, an Island that 3.4 million American Citizens call home, would suffer greatly from the devastating effects of rising sea levels.  But we all stand to lose if we don’t take meaningful action right now. We call upon all public officials across our nation to continue to support rules and regulations that protect our environment. As most of the world moves forward, our nation cannot sit idle and lag behind.”

“President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement was a tremendous mistake. Rhode Island may be a small state, but climate change can have a big impact on our communities,” Rhode Island Gov. Gina M. Raimondo said. “We are determined to fight climate change from the front lines so that we can preserve our environment – including our Narragansett Bay – for future generations and create good-paying, future-proof jobs in the process. I’m proud to join Governors Cuomo, Brown and Inslee in this effort and hope other governors – from both parties – join as well.”

“Growing our economy and protecting our environment by supporting cleaner and more affordable energy and transportation choices can go together,” Vermont Gov. Phil Scott said.

“If our national government isn’t willing to lead in this area, the states are prepared to step up and lead. I look forward to supporting continued bipartisan cooperation on these matters and thank Governor Baker, Governor Inslee, Governor Cuomo and Governor Brown for working collaboratively on this important issue.”

“As the first state in the Trump era to take executive action to limit carbon emissions and create clean energy jobs, Virginia is proud to join the Climate Alliance,” Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe said. “President Trump’s announcement to withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement does not speak for the states and cities that are committed to fighting climate change and paving the way for a new energy economy. If the federal government insists on abdicating leadership on this issue, it will be up to the American people to step forward – and in Virginia we are doing just that.”

Last week, when the Alliance was formed, unimpressed Trump drones on Twitter tried to dismiss it. One posted a GIF of three white men laughing with the caption: “When you learn the “United States Climate Alliance” is only 3 States.”

Well, “RightWired”, the Alliance now stands at twelve states plus Puerto Rico. As we predicted, more states have happily signed up. It took less than a hundred and twenty-five hours for membership to quadruple.

At the time of its inception, the Alliance did have just three member states… but those states represent 63 million Americans and 20% of total U.S. GDP.

That was nothing to laugh at, but now, after less than a week, the Alliance has member states representing an estimated 102,169,711 Americans (including Puerto Rico) and 36% of total U.S. GDP (not counting Puerto Rico).

And more states are likely to join.

Meanwhile, 1,219 governors, mayors, businesses, investors and colleges and universities across America (including many in Washington) have signed a statement declaring “we’re still in”, pledging to honor the Paris climate accord.

These pledges are all welcome and important, but it’s important that there be follow-through. To stop further damage to the climate (and protect our air, water, and soil), we need to act aggressively to reduce emissions. There is much more states and cities can do to accelerate our transition to clean, renewable energy, and reduce the need for energy by making conservation a true priority.

Sorry, Republicans: Seattle-bashing isn’t going to save your brand in Washington State

This past weekend in Leavenworth, the Dan Evans wing of Washington State’s Republican Party gathered at the Enzian Inn for its annual Cascade Conference.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer‘s Joel Connelly attended the gathering of the self-professed Mainstream Republicans and reports that attendees “used humor and hard argument here over the weekend to gird for what their fundraising chair Jim Waldo predicted will be ‘our two toughest years.'”

Republicans won the 2016 federal elections and now control every branch of the federal government. Republicans in Washington State are grappling with the fallout of that, and understand that one consequence of Donald Trump’s rise could be severe damage to the Republican Party brand throughout the state.

In Leavenworth, Republicans signaled they’ll try to protect their hold on the state Senate not by advancing worthy ideas to improve Washington’s quality of life, but by bashing Seattle every chance they get — and trying to tie every Democratic candidate running outside of the state’s largest city to the specter of an income tax.

As Joel pointed out in his reporting, in the days when Dan Evans was governor of this state, such a strategy would have been unthinkable. Evans and other Republicans of his day were well liked in Seattle and King County; Evans served as a representative of the deep blue 43rd District prior to becoming Governor. Evans was a stalwart proponent of levying a state income tax and twice convinced the Legislature to approved a constitutional amendment to provide for one.

Nowadays, Evans has a dim view of Seattle politics, and of the Democratic Party.

“We are evolving into one very blue (Democratic) area around Seattle and the rest of the state is turning Republican,” the venerable Evans said in Leavenworth, according to Connelly’s report. He added: “They (Democrats) don’t care and look down on people who live in the rest of the state.”

I like and respect Dan Evans a great deal — he was arguably one of the best governors this state ever had, and I applaud his efforts to reform Washington State’s regressive tax code — but those statements are nonsense.

Washington’s political makeup is indeed evolving, but it’s much more complex than Evans makes it out to be. Greater Seattle isn’t the state’s only Democratic area. Similarly, rural communities aren’t the state’s only Republican area.

Democrats do very well in Washington’s 3rd Legislative District (Spokane), which is currently represented by Democrats Marcus Riccelli, Timm Ormsby, and Andy Billig. But apparently in Evans’ eyes, they don’t count.

Nor do Democratic legislators like Kevin Ranker, Kris Lytton, Steve Tharinger, Mike Chapman, Kevin Van De Wege, Brian Blake, Dean Takko, each of whom also represent a district that is hours away from Seattle.

Democrats would not be within striking distance of a Senate majority and would not have a House majority at all if they couldn’t compete outside of Seattle.

Evans’ claim that Democrats are uncaring and look down on people who live elsewhere in the state is also wrong.

I’m active in the Washington State Democratic Party, and the party cares deeply about every community in this state, whether it be urban, suburban, or rural.

It is precisely because of that concern that progressive Democratic Lands Commissioner Hilary Franz is embarking on a Rural Communities Partnership Initiative, which was just announced today by DNR.

“The Department of Natural Resources has significant resources and capacity to aid in economic development around the state, especially in areas of Washington that have been traditionally natural resource-based economies,” the Commissioner said.

“This agency believes that social, environmental and economic investment, and stewardship are concepts that work in concert, not opposition. We can invest in clean jobs, restore habitats and create economic opportunity around the state at the same time. It takes perseverance, transparency and energy – all things that this agency and its employees are committed to.”

The Washington State Democratic Party feels the same way. The party refers repeatedly in its platform to the needs of rural communities, stating:

  • We are the stewards of the land and water that sustain us. We must preserve family farms, strengthen rural communities, ensure the availability of high-quality food, and maintain the viability of land and water.
  • We call for… strengthening the Washington State Growth Management Act and policies that preserve agricultural land and natural resources, along with robust rural infrastructure;
  • We call for… governments to invest in continued local access to needed transportation infrastructure, including rural road and highway maintenance and improvement, ensuring that consideration be given to those cities and counties outside of the I-5 and I-90 corridor.

The party aims to practice what it preaches. To that end, it has an active, vibrant Agriculture & Rural Issues Caucus organizing regular activities, and holds most of its business meetings in cities far from Seattle — many in rural Washington.

I can attest to that firsthand because I attend those meetings as a member of the Washington State Democratic Central Committee (WSDCC).

For example, just this past April, the WSDCC held its spring meeting in Walla Walla at the Marcus Whitman. Prior to that, the party held meetings in Yakima, Wenatchee, the Tri-Cities, Chelan, Ocean Shores, Ferndale, and Vancouver.

The most recent state convention (2016) was in Tacoma, and the one prior to that (2014) was in Spokane. The closest meetings to Seattle have been in Lynnwood and Olympia. Seattle itself has not hosted a state party meeting or convention since 2012, five years ago. That will change in September; it’s Seattle’s turn to host.

It is precisely because the Washington State Democratic Party cares about communities like Ferndale, Walla Walla, and Vancouver that it chooses to hold business meetings in those places. Commiteemembers from the greater Seattle area are quite used to having to travel to get to state party meetings.

Having the meetings around the state means there are opportunities for party leaders to learn about the needs of rural communities.

I remember when we were in Chelan, there was an opportunity to tour one of the local orchards. In Ferndale, we got to meet people from the local tribes. In Vancouver, we demonstrated in support of a new bridge for I-5.

And while we were in Walla Walla, I went across the Oregon border to observe a town hall that Senator Ron Wyden was holding in Milton-Freewater.

What I learned from going to that town hall is that people in rural Northwest communities have the same concerns as people in urban or suburban communities. They’re trying to figure out how to pay the bills and take care of their families.

Many rural Northwesterners are incredibly upset with Donald Trump and the actions taken by his regime since January. There’s a deep desire for an investigation into the Russian Federation’s involvement in our 2016 presidential election, and deep disgust with Republican plans to do away with the Patient Protection Act, round up immigrants who are contributing to our society, and enact tax cuts for the wealthy.

Dan Evans and the Mainstream Republicans recognize that Trump is akin to an anvil tied around their collective heels. Local Republicans want to escape his shadow and toxic politics, and know that if they don’t, they’re likely to lose.

“It has never been more important to establish a Washington brand of Republicanism,” Republican Senator Hans Zeiger told attendees of the Cascade Conference, as related by Connelly’s report.

It seems the plan for establishing that brand is to sow seeds of division among Washingtonians (fitting, considering that’s a tactic Trump used in his campaign) and stoke as much anti-Seattle sentiment as they can whip up.

Democrats already have a darned good bogeyman in Donald Trump, and Republicans are clearly envious. They want bogeymen of their own.

In the words of Slade Gorton, as reported by Connelly: “There is a whole cultural dimension that is more important than economic.”

Joel’s reporting strengthens my view that the Washington State Republican Party — including the Mainstream Republicans — care more about clinging to what they have than solving any of the state’s pressing problems.

Washington’s public schools are significantly underfunded. NPI research has found that strong majorities of Washington voters believe new revenue is needed to ensure our children receive the amply-funded education the Constitution requires they get.

The Senate Republicans have proposed a budget that increases the property taxes of most Washingtonians while leaving less money overall for our schools. Their proposal has been widely panned, but they’ve stubbornly refused to open their minds to any of the revenue ideas Democrats have come up with.

For instance, Republicans have flatly rejected levying a capital gains tax on the wealthy, which 65% of polled Washington voters say they support.

I searched the agenda of the Mainstream Republicans’ Cascade Conference for the words “education” and “schools”. There were no matches. Now, I imagine the topic must have come up, but it’s significant it wasn’t the theme of any planned sessions. And it’s not mentioned in Joel’s recap of the conference.

It seems that our resolving our school funding crisis simply isn’t something that the Mainstream Republicans regard to be a top priority.

There were sessions on conservation, immigration, homelessness, and other worthy issues. Some of these sessions appeared nostalgically themed.

But considering that the Mainstream Republicans say their desire is to build a brand independent of the national Republican Party — where are their ideas for funding our schools? That is the most important state-level issue there is.

At the end of this month, state government will have to shut down if we don’t have a budget. And if that budget doesn’t meaningfully bolster school funding, an impatient Supreme Court just might strike it down.

We are hurtling towards that moment, and yet Senate Republicans refuse to negotiate with House Democrats, to the exasperation of Governor Jay Inslee.

It’s very evident that Republicans are eager to figure out a way to win and don’t want to throw in the towel just because the national environment is bad and getting worse. But they have not presented a credible plan for how they’d govern.

When Dan Evans was Governor, Washington’s tax code was regressive and a hindrance to the health of our public services. It remains so today. How would Republicans fix that? What are their ideas? I don’t see any, and I don’t hear any.

All I see and hear coming out of this Cascade Conference are grand old party elders like Dan Evans and Slade Gorton reminiscing about bygone days and suggesting that Seattle-bashing will help get today’s Republican candidates like Jinyoung Lee Englund elected in places like the 45th despite the specter of Trump.

Sorry, Washington Republicans. That’s not going to work. Running against Seattle isn’t going to save your brand. You can try it, but if you do, it’ll only prove that you have more similarities with Donald Trump than differences.

Washington, California, New York announce formation of United States Climate Alliance

Federalism is coming to the rescue of our planet, and not a moment too soon. Today is one of those days to be grateful to our founders for devising a plan of government that requires power to be shared between the federal government.

We don’t usually run press releases in their entirety. But we believe this one is worth sharing. It’s really important news. It’s vital that people outside of the United States understand that the resistance to Donald Trump will not stand by as Trump and his regime attempts to abdicate America’s moral leadership.

In response to President Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, California Governor Edmund [Jerry] G. Brown Jr., and Washington State Governor Jay Inslee today announced the formation of the United States Climate Alliance, a coalition that will convene U.S. states committed to upholding the Paris Climate Agreement and taking aggressive action on climate change.

“I am proud to stand with other governors as we make sure that the inaction in D.C. is met by an equal force of action from the states,” said Inslee. “Today’s announcement by the president leaves the full responsibility of climate action on states and cities throughout our nation. While the president’s actions are a shameful rebuke to the work needed to protect our planet for our children and grandchildren, states have been and will continue to step up.”

“The White House’s reckless decision to withdraw from the Paris Climate Agreement has devastating repercussions not only for the United States, but for our planet. This administration is abdicating its leadership and taking a backseat to other countries in the global fight against climate change,” said Governor Cuomo.

“New York State is committed to meeting the standards set forth in the Paris Accord regardless of Washington’s irresponsible actions. We will not ignore the science and reality of climate change which is why I am also signing an Executive Order confirming New York’s leadership role in protecting our citizens, our environment, and our planet.”

New York, California and Washington, representing over one-fifth of U.S. Gross Domestic Product, are committed to achieving the U.S. goal of reducing emissions 26-28 percent from 2005 levels and meeting or exceeding the targets of the federal Clean Power Plan.

“The President has already said climate change is a hoax, which is the exact opposite of virtually all scientific and worldwide opinion,” said Governor Brown. “I don’t believe fighting reality is a good strategy – not for America, not for anybody. If the President is going to be AWOL in this profoundly important human endeavor, then California and other states will step up.”

Together, New York, California and Washington represent approximately 68 million people – nearly one-in-five Americans – and the states account for at least 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. California will continue to work closely together with other states to help fill the void left by the federal government.

With input from all participants, the U.S. Climate Alliance will also act as a forum to sustain and strengthen existing climate programs, promote the sharing of information and best practices, and implement new programs to reduce carbon emissions from all sectors of the economy.

Now that the Alliance is formed, the next step is to get other states to join and work on devising an interstate compact or some sort of other agreement that commits the states to aggressively reducing emissions. States participating in the Alliance should aspire to meet higher targets than what the Paris accords envision.

Oregon, Virginia, and Hawaiʻi should be invited to join the Alliance immediately. The number of states with governors who recognize the need for climate action may grow following next year’s midterms, and there will be an opportunity to further expand the alliance in defiance of Trump, Pruitt, and their minions.

Left Coast vows to continue fight for climate justice as Trump abandons Paris accords

The United States is withdrawing from the landmark Paris climate accords, pollution lover Donald Trump confirmed today at a shameful event ironically held in the White House’s Rose Garden — complete with a jazz band.

The accords, which most of the world’s nations have agreed to, will remain in place, but the U.S. is abandoning the commitments it made under President Obama to reduce climate damage. Not to mention abdicating its moral leadership.

In advance of the announcement, elected leaders from Washington, Oregon, California, and other states vowed to continue state and regional efforts to tackle climate damage, saying that future generations are counting on us.

President Obama, clearly angered by Trump’s decision, released a statement asking forward-thinking states and cities to unite in defense of America’s values.

“The nations that remain in the Paris Agreement will be the nations that reap the benefits in jobs and industries created,” Obama said.

“I believe the United States of America should be at the front of the pack. But even in the absence of American leadership; even as this administration joins a small handful of nations that reject the future; I’m confident that our states, cities, and businesses will step up and do even more to lead the way, and help protect for future generations the one planet we’ve got.”

Eighteen members of the United States House of Representatives this week sent a letter to Governors Jerry Brown, Jay Inslee, and Kate Brown, requesting that that Washington, Oregon, and California form a “green wall” to stave off disaster.

“Given the vacuum in climate leadership that has resulted from the election of Donald Trump, our states must continue to form a ‘green wall’ in the West that will maintain climate leadership in the United States. The Paris Agreement calls for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions, and if Donald Trump’s administration won’t lead, our states must,” the lawmakers wrote. “We call on you to continue to uphold our commitments made under the Paris Agreement, and to show international leadership where the current Administration has failed.”

The letter was signed by Representatives Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Jared Huffman (CA-02), Suzan DelBene (WA-01), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Adam Smith (WA-09), Doris Matsui (CA-06), Derek Kilmer (WA-06), Mike Thompson (CA-05), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), John Garamendi (CA-03), Nanette Diaz Barragán (CA-44), Ted W. Lieu (CA-33), Jackie Speier (CA-14), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Salud O. Carbajal (CA-24), Susan A. Davis (CA-53), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Suzanne Bonamici (OR-01), Adam B. Schiff (CA-28), and Denny Heck (WA-10).

The governors, for their part, made clear they intend to do just that.

“Washington State is leading the way on climate issues where Washington, D.C., is failing,” noted Governor Jay Inslee in a statement preceding Trump’s dicta.

“The Paris Climate Agreement is a landmark international pact that represents our greatest opportunity to secure long-term U.S. and global economic security in the face of growing threats from climate change. One hundred and ninety-four nations have signed the agreement, one hundred and forty-seven have ratified it, and more than eighty percent of the world’s carbon pollution are now covered by its terms. Counted among the signatories are China and India, two of the world’s largest contributors of greenhouse gas emissions, whose support for the agreement emerged through diligent U.S. leadership.”

“In Washington State we are taking action to reduce carbon pollution. We have implemented a cap on carbon pollution, and we will continue working with businesses and research institutions to develop and deploy twenty-first century clean energy solutions. We are also partnering with other states who are doing the same, and our states will not stop fighting for a clean energy future, regardless of who is in the White House.”

“Trump is going against science. He’s going against reality,” California Governor Jerry Brown told the Los Angeles Times.

“We can’t stand by and give aid and comfort to that.”

“If we want to retain and enhance manufacturing, we have to do what California is doing, in clean energy and clean technology,” the governor added. “That’s the future of jobs, the future of sustainability. And we better get on board. And California will be right there with the best of them.”

“Climate change poses the greatest threat to Oregon’s environment, economy, and way of life,” said Oregon Governor Kate Brown. “Oregon has a strong tradition of fighting climate change, and we will not back down. The consequences of climate change are already impacting our communities and threaten the long-term sustainability of our natural resource-based economies. Leading U.S. companies recognize the need to address climate change risks and opportunities through the Paris Agreement, and are wisely investing in low-carbon fuels and clean energy technologies to stay on the cutting edge of the global economy.”

“It is irresponsible for the president to deny these real-world implications. But I will continue to work with leaders on the West Coast, across the country, and around the world to address the challenge of climate change.”

“While Oregon is a small state, we can play a huge role in finding innovative solutions to preserve our natural resources, reduce carbon, and create a cleaner, and greener energy mix of the future.”

In a series of tweets, Hawai‘i Senator Brian Schatz called for action.

“Make no mistake, climate change is on the ballot for every election until we reverse this immoral action,” he said.

I’m angry, not deterred. We will win this fight, but we must be smarter, tougher, & more relentless than the polluters and their friends.”

“The good news? Clean tech tax breaks still law – private sector booms. Clean energy won’t stop. Leadership from everywhere except POTUS.”

“Because the Agreement entered into force on November 4th, 2016, withdrawal couldn’t be completed until November 4th, 2020. So we gotta win.”

Elections have consequences. The most important thing that anyone can do for the planet is to vote for and support Democrats in 2018 and 2020.”

Remember this gut punch. Then run for office. Donate. Organize. Just do something. What happens next is entirely up to us.”

Stand up and speak out: America’s values need defending in this time of crisis

Six months ago, there were so many questions that needed answers:

  • Would anyone heed the U.S. intelligence community’s early warnings in 2016 that Russia had interfered with the U.S. Presidential elections?
  • Would anyone investigate how and why Russian surrogates had perpetrated cyber attacks on American institutions and individuals?
  • Would anyone demand thorough background investigations of the President-elect’s White House senior national security appointments – especially those not subject to Senate confirmation – before issuing top secret codeword clearances to these individuals?
  • Would anyone have the stamina to demand the President-elect and his family fully disclose their financial stakes in a far-flung, global real estate corporation, including all financial investors tied to foreign governments or foreign interests?
  • Would any of us have the endurance to keep up the pressure on our elected officials to protect our rights under the rule of law?

Six months later, here’s the line-up of investigations underway as of May 13th in various Congressional committees and at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI).

And six months later, we have learned how to stand up and speak out against unlawful Presidential executive orders, a deeply conservative Supreme Court nominee whose judicial philosophy is corporatizing American politics, proposed elimination of the Patient Protection Act, catastrophic budget cuts to agencies that protect people and the environment, and a Presidential penchant for making personal attacks against current and former federal civil servants – with late-night tweets his preferred delivery method.

What will the next six months reveal?

We must now demand follow-through from the Congressional committees. Congressional committees are the only ones with the power to hold public hearings. We, the people, not only have a right to know.

We have a need-to-know. We are the voters and no matter what, we need to know that our nation’s leaders are not putting our right to self-government at risk.

Congress must keep investigating and hold public hearings to the maximum extent feasible. Some of the committee chairs and vice chairs are persistent despite obstructions by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell – both of whom are competing for the role of the cowardly lion in the twenty-first century’s version of the Wizard of Oz. It’s time for Ryan and McConnell to do their jobs now. Or step aside for people who will.

The new special prosecutor leading the FBI investigations will do his work – but just like water finds its own path, investigations will take their own course. Some investigations will lose steam. Trails of evidence will go cold.

The FBI’s investigations will be behind-closed-doors efforts; it will be easy for those of us on the outside to lose track of the situation.

That’s why we need congressional committees doing their work in public. When both the legislative and executive branches are working in parallel, it helps us – the voters – have confidence that one way or another, someone will discover the facts and reveal the results of the investigations.

A final word about national and international security, alliances, coalitions, networks, friendships, and relationships.

The next six months will strain all bonds. They will strain our nation’s deepest, oldest relationships with other nations as well as more recent ties forged after the end of the Cold War. We’re all going to be riding the waves of an administration that has no moral compass, one that lurches from moment to moment in pursuit of personal gratification and petty power plays.

So we must reassure our own allies, friends, and professional colleagues that we’re standing strong even as Donald Trump goes rogue.

I am standing up for our rights as a free people to maintain alliances, coalitions, networks, friendships, and professional relationships with every nation and every person who share our traditions, cultures, and common interests in a more equal, just, and free world.

I am standing up for the rights of a free press, our only protection against those in power who abuse power and distort information to serve their own interests.

I am standing up for the rights of people everywhere to fight for clean air, clean water, clean food; access to housing and educational opportunities; the dignity of work in workplaces where they earn a good wage to feed their families, pay for healthcare, save for retirement, and take vacations with family and friends.

I am standing up for the rights of people who are the most vulnerable, who have no voice to influence the people in power, and whose lives and liberties depend wholly on those of us who will fight to protect the social contract because “there but for the grace of God go you or I.”

I am standing up for the rights of students to enjoy study-abroad student exchanges so that they will make friends with people who speak other languages, know other cultures, have different histories, and want to expand freedoms and rights for all people.

I am standing up for the rights of immigrants to choose a new home and forge a new life for themselves and their families. As a fourth-generation Irish immigrant, I still believe that nations of immigrants are nations that learn how to adapt to change and learn how to solve big challenges.

I’m standing up for the rights of the two million Americans who work in federal civilian agencies and serve in the armed forces.

They are the people who make it possible for us to be a self-governed nation where institutions serve the people, not the regime in power.

I am standing up for a future where the President of the United States upholds our nation’s commitments to our own people and to our allies and friends, and where the President accepts the responsibility of serving every American.

And I am standing up for a future where the members of the United States Congress renew their devotion to the American Republic and honor their singular duty to protect the rule of law which governs our land.

To every reader who has made a commitment to be part of the resistance: Thank you and keep up the good work. Stand strong. We’re all in this together.

Jessyn Farrell resigning from state House to focus on Seattle mayoral campaign

State Representative Jessyn Farrell (D-46th District; North Seattle, Lake Forest Park, Kenmore) announced today that she will resign from her position to focus full time on her campaign to become the next Mayor of Seattle.

Farrell’s campaign said in a news release she would elaborate on her decision tomorrow in a press conference in the University District.

A host of elected leaders who are backing Farrell will be on hand, the campaign says.

“Joining Farrell will be city, state, and local leaders supporting her campaign for mayor, including Lt. Governor Cyrus Habib, State Auditor Pat McCarthy, State Representative Nicole Macri (D – Capital Hill), State Representative Mia Gregerson (D-SeaTac), State Representative Noel Frame (D – NW Seattle), King County Councilmember Claudia Balducci, and Seattle Council member Rob Johnson.”

Jessyn Farrell

Jessyn Farrell participates in a panel at Jeanne Kohl-Welles’ twenty-second post-election postmortem at Hales Ales in Seattle (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

Farrell is one of twenty-one candidates running to become the next Mayor of Seattle. Most of the hopefuls are men. Seattle has not had a female mayor since Bertha Knight Landes left office in 1928. Farrell hopes to change that, as do Cary Moon, Mary Martin, Jenny Durkan, and Nikkita Oliver, the other female candidates.

The release doesn’t say when Farrell’s resignation will become effective, but presumably, it will be effective immediately.

Farrell’s departure will leave the House Democratic caucus with only forty-nine members, which isn’t enough to pass legislation (the Constitution requires an absolute majority of fifty of ninety-eight members to pass bills).

To ensure the House Democrats aren’t left short-handed, the King County Democrats and King County Council will need to move swiftly to nominate and appoint a successor to Farrell as provided for by the Washington State Constitution.

The process will begin with a special nominating caucus called by the county party. At the caucus, elected and appointed PCOs representing precincts in the 46th will select three individuals to go forward to the King County Council. The executive board of the King County Democrats will then ratify those choices as required by party rules. Then, the King County Council will pick from among the three.

Whoever the Council chooses will take Farrell’s place and will serve out most of the rest of her term. Because Farrell is resigning after the close of filing this year, no special election will be held in 2017 in the 46th. A special election will be held next year, concurrent with the regular election at which the position is usually contested.

It is probable that the person the Council appoints will seek to remain in the position by asking voters to retain them in the 2018 elections.

The 46th District is a safe Democratic district, so Farrell’s departure will have no long term effect on the balance of power in the state House of Representatives.

BCNDP and BC Greens unveil deal that could topple Christy Clark’s neoLiberal government

It’s looking increasingly likely that British Columbia will soon be administered by a much more progressive government than the one it has now.

B.C. JournalAt 2 PM today in Victoria, the leaders of the province’s two largest progressive parties (the BCNDP and the BC Greens) made a joint appearance to announce they have negotiated a deal that could result in a new government for the province.

Green Leader Andrew Weaver said his party had held discussions with both the incumbent Liberals, led by Premier Christy Clark, as well as the New Democrats, led by John Horgan. Ultimately, the Greens chose to formalize a confidence and supply agreement with the BCNDP, which could make Horgan the province’s next premier.

The Greens have far more in common with the NDP than the Liberals, so this deal makes sense. The Liberals, despite their name, are a rightward-oriented political party that embraces conservative principles. Under Clark, they have seemingly not encountered an oil or liquefied natural gas (LNG) project they don’t like.

The Liberals also love corporate money and have used the province’s lack of campaign contribution limits to their advantage in many elections.

Horgan and Weaver are reportedly not fond of each other. But it seems they were able to put their differences aside for the good of the province. They were all smiles at today’s press conference, and shared an extended handshake following their introductory remarks. They spent the weekend at a rugby match together.

In a democracy based on a parliamentary system, a confidence and supply agreement is basically arrangement that can enable a minority government to form and continue functioning over a period of time. Wikipedia defines it as “an agreement that a party or independent member of parliament will support the government in motions of confidence and appropriation (supply) votes by voting in favor or abstaining, while retaining the right to otherwise vote on conscience.”

Under the terms of this agreement, the BCNDP would be responsible for forming a government (presumably with Horgan as Premier), and the Greens would provide the votes necessary for the government to win confidence and budget votes.

The two parties together would hold the slimmest of majorities… forty-four of eighty-seven seats in BC’s Legislative Assembly.

“In the end we had to make a difficult decision,” Weaver told the assembled press. “A decision we felt was in the best interest of British Columbia today and that decision as for the BC Greens to work with the BCNDP for a stable minority government over the four-year term.”

For the agreement to go into effect, it must be ratified by the BCNDP caucus. Then, Judith Guichon, the Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia — who serves as the representative of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II at the provincial level — would have to ask Horgan to form a government. Picking a premier is explicitly defined as one of the Lieutenant Governor’s constitutional responsibilities:

The Lieutenant Governor upholds the constitutional framework in British Columbia. In this role the Lieutenant Governor personifies the Crown, which is both the apex and the unifying link in the constitutional and political structure of the province – executive, legislative, and judicial. The Canadian Crown plays a key function in underwriting our constitutional stability while enabling officials, democratically elected by the citizens, to govern.

To uphold the constitutional framework the Lieutenant Governor:

  • Ensures the continued existence of government in the Province of British Columbia;
  • Selects a First Minister as Premier of the Province;
  • Appoints and administers the Oaths of Office, Allegiance and Confidentiality to the Premier and members of the Executive Council;
  • Summons, prorogues and dissolves the Legislature;
  • Delivers the Speech from the Throne;
  • Provides Royal Assent to provincial legislation;
  • Signs orders-in-council, proclamations and other official documents before they have the force of law;
  • Presents Bills by Message into the Legislature when they involve taxation or expenditure of public money.

For the time being, Christy Clark remains Premier. But in the wake of this agreement, she will not have the votes to govern the province. She can either choose to resign or test the confidence of the Legislative Assembly when it returns.

Clark has given no indication that she plans to resign since the May 9th election. In advance of the Weaver/Horgan press conference, she posted a bland forty-eight second long video this morning on social media loaded with platitudes, in which she acknowledged “uncertainty” stemming from the results of the election, then proceeded to pay lip service to the idea of tripartianship.

After the press conference ended, Clark released a statement.

“It’s vitally important that British Columbians see the specific details of the agreement announced today by the BC NDP and Green Party leaders, which could have far-reaching consequences for our province’s future,” she said.

“As the incumbent government, and the party with the most seats in the legislature, we have a responsibility to carefully consider our next steps. I will consult on those steps with the newly elected BC Liberal caucus, and have more to say tomorrow.”

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next.

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