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.

Republican Cathy McMorris Rodgers (WA-05) said to be Trump’s Interior Secretary pick

If news reports are to be believed, Donald Trump is on the verge of naming Republican Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers as his choice for Secretary of the Interior. McMorris Rodgers has represented Eastern Washington in Congress for nearly ten years, having been elected and reelected five times.

Ms. McMorris Rodgers, the highest-ranking woman in the House Republican leadership, is expected to be announced as Mr. Trump’s secretary of the interior as early as Friday, two people close to the transition efforts said. Ms. McMorris Rodgers comes from Washington, a state with large federal land reserves, and she also had been critical of Mr. Trump at various points during the presidential campaign.

Aides to Mr. Trump did not respond to requests for comment.

McMorris Rodgers would succeed fellow Washingtonian Sally Jewell in that position if nominated and confirmed by the United States Senate. She would also have to give up her seat in Congress, triggering a special election this year in WA-05.

The law on special elections for U.S. Representative is as follows:

  1. Whenever a vacancy occurs in the United States house of representatives or the United States senate from this state, the governor shall order a special election to fill the vacancy.
  2. Within ten days of such vacancy occurring, he or she shall issue a writ of election fixing a date for the [Top Two] at least seventy days after issuance of the writ, and fixing a date for the election at least seventy days after the date of the [Top Two]. If the vacancy is in the office of United States representative, the writ of election shall specify the congressional district that is vacant.
  3. If the vacancy occurs less than eight months before a general election and before the close of the filing period for that general election, the special [Top Two] and special vacancy election must be held in concert with the state [Top Two] and general election in that year.
  4. If the vacancy occurs on or after the first day for filing under RCW 29A.24.050 and on or before the close of the filing period, a special filing period of three normal business days shall be fixed and notice thereof given to all media, including press, radio, and television within the area in which the vacancy election is to be held, to the end that, insofar as possible, all interested persons will be aware of such filing period.
  5. If the vacancy occurs later than the close of the filing period, a special [Top Two] and vacancy election to fill the position shall be held after the next general election but, in any event, no later than the ninetieth day following the general election.

If McMorris Rodgers waited until after March 7th to resign, the special election to fill her seat would be held concurrently with this year’s local elections (the August Top Two and November general). There will be two special election windows in the first half of 2017, with one being in February and the other in April.

Any special election held outside of those already-designated windows would require extra planning on the part of elections officials.

State elections director Lori Augino offered this additional background in an email sent to reporters a few moments ago:

There are 427,853 registered voters in the 5th Congressional District. The counties located within the District are as follows:

  • Asotin
  • Columbia
  • Ferry
  • Garfield
  • Lincoln
  • Pend Oreille
  • Spokane
  • Stevens
  • Walla Walla (partial county)
  • Whitman

If a member of Congress resigns, the vacancy would occur upon the effective date of a resignation submitted by the incumbent to the Governor.

If a vacancy occurs on or before March 7: The Governor may select a date to hold the Special Primary and General Election. He must set those dates within ten days of the vacancy occurring.

The Special [Top Two] must be at least 70 days from the date of setting the election. And, the Special General Election must be at least 70 days after the Special [Top Two] .

If a vacancy occurs after March 7 and before May 19: If the vacancy occurs less than eight months before a general election and before the close of the filing period for that general election, the special [Top Two] and special vacancy election must be held in concert  with the state [Top Two] and general election in that year. The 2017 General Election will be held on November 7. For this provision to be in effect, the vacancy must occur after March 7.

The regular filing period runs from May 15 through May 19, 2017.

If a different election schedule is set by the governor, Secretary Wyman will set the filing period and certify candidates to the Special [Top Two] Election.

Democrats already have at least one declared candidate for McMorris Rodgers’ seat as of this morning: Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart.

“The people of Eastern Washington are tired of a Congress that does nothing but create obstructionism and fodder for political pundits,” said Stuckart in a statement announcing his run. “The people of Eastern Washington are looking for a representative with laser focus ready to grow our economy, protect Medicare and Social Security, tackle our out-of-control national debt, pay more than lip service to our veterans, ensure our farmers and job creators can get their goods to market, and value each person for the freedom, dignity and respect they’re afforded under the Constitution. This is what Eastern Washington values.”

Stuckart has been President of Spokane’s City Council since 2012. He is well known in the Lilac City and around the Inland Empire.

While McMorris Rodgers would likely pursue awful policies if she becomes Secretary of the Interior, she’ll at least be from around here, so when Senator Cantwell and other members of our state’s congressional delegation need to lodge complaints and protests, they’ll be speaking to someone they know.

Starting in 2017, WA initiatives will require an additional 13,250 valid signatures to qualify

Beginning in 2017, the number of signatures required to secure a spot on Washington’s statewide ballot will be increasing to nearly 260,000, the Secretary of State’s office announced in an advisory today,

The increase is a consequence of turnout in the Washington’s 2016 gubernatorial election. The Washington State Constitution says that the signature requirement for initiatives shall correspond to 8% of the people who voted in the last election for governor. For referenda, the signature requirement is 4%.

“To qualify for a ballot spot, initiative sponsors for the next four years will need at least 259,622 valid signatures of registered Washington voters,” explained Secretary of State Kim Wyman’s communications director David Ammons. “That is 8 percent of the total 2016 vote for governor, 3,245,282. The old number was 246,372.”

“For referenda, the new requirement will be 129,811. That is 4 percent of the total vote for governor and compares with the current 123,186.”

Note that these requirements are for valid signatures. To qualify, a campaign must submit additional signatures beyond the minimum number to have a chance of making it in order to offset likely invalid or duplicate signatures. A cushion of at least twenty percent is needed, and more is better. 20% of 259,622 is 51,924, so future initiative campaigns will need to be able to gather around 312,000 signatures total in order to qualify for the 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020 ballots.

The signature requirements are percentages, so they can fall or rise depending on how many people are on the voter rolls and how many turn out for a gubernatorial election. However, they’ve been rising steadily in four year intervals since 2000 due to robust turnout in presidential/gubernatorial years.

Turnout this year was down from 2004, 2008, and 2012, but the absolute number of voters voting went up, so the signature requirements will be higher.

This news won’t make Tim Eyman happy, as his business is qualifying initiatives, and the higher signature requirement means an increase in his costs.

But it may not matter. If Eyman doesn’t have his wealthy benefactors behind him pumping cash into his initiative factory next year — or any year in the future — he won’t be able to mount a signature drive anyway.

Tim Eyman pal Michael Baumgartner prefiles amendment to repeal “paramount duty” language in Washington State Constitution

In a fairly blatant attempt to get some attention for himself and steer public discourse away from fully funding our public schools, extremist right wing Senator Michael Baumgartner of Spokane has prefiled a constitutional amendment that would repeal the memorable opening words of Article IX of the Washington State Constitution (“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.“).

Baumgartner, who is one of Tim Eyman’s go-to guys in the Washington State Senate’s Republican caucus, appears to be borrowing a page from Eyman’s playbook by deliberately introducing an amendment he knows is nonviable but which he expects will rile up progressives and generate press coverage for himself.

Baumgartner is fully aware his proposal has zero chance of passing either the Senate or the House. Constitutional amendments require a two-thirds vote of each house to pass, meaning any successful amendment has to have bipartisan support.

It’s doubtful Baumgartner would be able to even get most of his Republican colleagues to back this travesty of an amendment. There’s unlikely to be much of an appetite in the caucus for this, even though many other Senate Republicans are just as extreme as Baumgartner is (ahem, Doug Ericksen).

But he’s probably at least hoping to secure a committee hearing on this resolution of his. And he shouldn’t get one. The Washington State Senate has very important business to attend to this upcoming session, most notably complying with this very part of the Constitution Baumgartner wants to repeal.

No one’s time should be wasted debating this ridiculous amendment, which is a full-fledged assault on the values that Washington State was founded on.

Most of the men who participated in the writing of Washington’s Constitution were Republicans. Progressive Republicans. Were any of them around today, I imagine they’d be pretty disgusted to see an elected member of their party trying to wipe away perhaps the finest words they left behind for future generations.

Article IX, concerning education, dates back to statehood, as does its preamble. Only an extremist would seek to sabotage Article IX by repealing its preamble and inserting language explicitly allowing public dollars to go to privately-run schools — which is what Baumgartner’s amendment does.

Shame on Michael Baumgartner for proposing this nonsense, and shame on any of his Republican colleagues who dare give it any attention whatsoever.

This upcoming session needs to be all about increasing state revenue so that our kids and teachers get the resources they need. NPI’s research shows an overwhelming majority of Washingtonians believe our schools are underfunded and support reforms like a capital gains tax to address that funding crisis.

That’s what the Legislature needs to be talking about — not this silliness.

LIVE from Seattle: Special nominating caucus to replace Pramila Jayapal in 37th underway

Good evening from Seattle. I’m here at the Rainier Arts Center, where the Democratic precinct committee officers of the 37th Legislative District are gathered to draw up a list of candidates to succeed U.S. Representative-elect Pramila Jayapal, who has submitted her resignation effective December 11th, 2016.

Because Pramila is heading to the Other Washington to represent Washington;s 7th Congressional District, a vacancy now exists for state senator in the 37th. 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, of which I am a member, 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 tonight. I will be updating this post at periodic intervals to summarize the proceedings that are taking place.

7:45 PM: The names of eight candidates have been placed into nomination.

  • Shasti Conrad
  • Juan Cotto
  • Jesse Weinberry
  • Rory O’Sullivan
  • Rebecca Saldaña
  • Bob Rosenberger
  • John Stafford
  • Sheley Secrest

The South Seattle Emerald has a primer on all the candidates.

Rebecca Saldaña is Pramila Jayapal’s choice for the job.

8 PM: Jesse Weinberry has withdrawn his name from consideration after using his five minutes to complain that only newly-elected precinct committee officers for 2017-2018 are allowed to vote in this caucus.

8:41 PM: The first round of voting has been completed and the results announced. 81 ballots were cast and 1 of those was spoiled.

  • Jesse Weinberry: 1 vote
  • Sheley Secrest: 2 votes
  • Juan Cotto: 3 votes
  • Bob Rosenberger: 5 votes
  • John Stafford: 6 votes
  • Shasti Conrad: 7 votes
  • Rebecca Saldaña: 28 votes
  • Rory O’Sullivan: 30 votes

8:54 PM: A runoff was held to determine who would be ranked first on the list of three. The results of the runoff were as follows:

  • Rebecca Saldaña: 35 votes
  • Rory O’Sullivan: 46 votes

Rory’s name will appear first on the list of three names.

9:14 PM: A third round of balloting, to determine the second name on the list, has just been completed. 78 ballots were cast in the third round of voting (with none spoiled) and these were the results:

  • Jesse Weinberry: 1 vote
  • Bob Rosenberger: 2 votes
  • Sheley Secrest: 4 votes
  • Juan Cotto: 5 votes
  • John Stafford: 6 votes
  • Shasti Conrad: 14 votes
  • Rebecca Saldaña: 46 votes

Rebecca received more than a majority, so there will be no runoff for second place. Her name will appear second on the list of three names.

9:27 PM: A fourth round of balloting has been completed, to determine the third-ranked name. Seventy votes were cast. Results were as follows:

  • Bob Rosenberger: 1 vote
  • Sheley Secret: 5 votes
  • Juan Cotto: 12 votes
  • John Stafford: 20 votes
  • Shasti Conrad: 32 votes

There will be one final round of balloting — a runoff to determine third place.

LIVE from Seattle’s U District: Bernie Sanders joins supporters to discuss Our Revolution

Good evening from the University District, and welcome to NPI’s live coverage of the Seattle stop of Bernie Sanders’ Our Revolution book tour. Senator Sanders is joining a packed house of supporters at University Temple United Methodist Church to promote his recently-released book and talk about the direction of the progressive movement as America enters the Trump error.

Senator Sanders is due to be introduced in a few minutes. We have a full house here, with this event having sold out several weeks ago. Ticketbuyers received a copy of Bernie’s book as part of the price of admission.

The Senator is scheduled to speak for around twenty to thirty minutes and will then take questions from the audience. I’ll be updating this post frequently with highlights from the remarks and Q&A. Enjoy!

UPDATE, 7:18 PM: Bernie arrived a few minutes ago to a standing ovation. He launched right into his remarks upon taking the stage, introducing himself as the husband of Jane Sanders. He touched on the recently-concluded presidential contest immediately, asking the audience to remember that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton is winning the popular vote nationwide.

He then began a concise rendition of his stump speech, highlighting the need for bold progressive solutions to address the climate crisis, money in politics, systemic racism, and income inequality. Many of the ideas that progressives support are ideas that the majority of Americans also enthusiastically support, Sanders noted.

UPDATE, 7:25 PM: Turning his attention to Donald Trump, Sanders lit into the neofascist tycoon for falsely proclaiming that he would have won the popular vote were it not for fraudulent votes. “We’re getting used to having government by tweet,” Sanders said. “A hundred and forty characters or less.”

The real purpose of Trump’s tweet was to encourage Republicans all over the country to pursue voter suppression schemes that will disenfranchise Democratic and progressive voters, Sanders added.

UPDATE, 7:30 PM: We cannot compromise with bigotry, Sanders told supporters, declaring that it’s up to all of us to fight to expand freedom, even with the Democratic Party out of power at the federal level.

“What we say to Mr. Trump [is]: We have traveled too far in the fight against discrimination. We are not going backwards,” Sanders said, as the audience jumped to its feet to give him another standing ovation.

UPDATE, 7:35 PM: Sanders says he thinks Donald Trump won by “speaking to the pain and anxiety people today are feeling” and by skilfully exploiting America’s big media (which is discussed in the last chapter of his book Our Revolution).

UPDATE, 7:41 PM: The despair in many pockets in America over declining quality of life has gotten so bad that it’s driven people to abuse opiates and alcohol and commit suicide, Sanders says, noting that the big media doesn’t do a very good job of covering these issues… but Donald Trump saw them and took advantage by preying on people’s fears and anxieties.

UPDATE, 7:44 PM: “For better or worse, I’ve been made a part of the Democratic leadership in the Senate,” Sanders said, explaining that he will be responsible for outreach on behalf of the caucus and will need his supporters’ help.

POSTSCRIPT: See also Paul Constant’s writeup at the Seattle Review of Books.

The counting is over: Washington counties certify results of 2016 general election

The counting of ballots in Washington’s 2016 general election has come to an end, with counties certifying the results a full three weeks after election day.

King County Elections reported that final voter turnout was 82%, exceeding the statewide average of 78.75% across all thirty-nine counties.

“The department certified the results, which officially declared winners for candidate offices and declared whether ballot measures passed or failed. Candidate concessions or the media announcing a winner of a race are not official declarations,” said the Elections Division in a news release.

Franklin and Stevens counties are still working on finishing up their work. All the other counties have submitted their final reports to the state as of 4:45 PM.

Total statewide voter turnout statewide will be lower than the 2012, 2008, and 2004 elections, which were all above eighty percent. Secretary of State Kim Wyman had suggested turnout might be record-breaking, but it wound up being less than each of the last three presidential elections, continuing a downward trend that we have seen in Washington State over the past few years.

Big milestone for Sound Transit: Ridership on Link light rail has surpassed that of ST Express

Ridership on Sound Transit’s Link light rail line just keeps going up.

Today, Sound Transit released its latest ridership numbers, showing a 71% increase in Link light rail ridership compared to the same period in 2015. The massive growth is being driven to a large degree by the University Link extension, which brought light rail to Capitol Hill and the University of Washington back in March.

The number of people riding Link has now surpassed exceeded the number of people taking ST Express buses for the first time in Sound Transit history.

Importantly, though, Link’s big gains have not come at the expense of ST Express ridership. The data shows those ridership figures on the agency’s network of regional express buses have basically remained unchanged.

Sound Transit says average weekday boardings came to 65,805, which is an 8% increase over the second quarter of 2015.

Critics of Sound Transit occasionally like to allege (without foundation) that introducing light rail service will cannibalize bus ridership. However, the experience of other cities has been that building rail increases transit ridership overall.

And that is what we’re now seeing here in our own region.

We’ve now added three new light rail stations this year: Capitol Hill, UW, and Angle Lake The result has been a net win for transit, which is an excellent outcome for our region. As we connect more neighborhoods to the rail spine, we’ll likely see further jumps in ridership. Meanwhile, we will continue to have Express bus service as part of our multimodal transit network, while adding two BRT lines with ST3.

Sounder commuter rail continues to see ridership gains too. Like ST Express, it was introduced years before Link began operations, so it is a more mature transit service. Yet it’s still growing. Ridership is up over 2015, with average weekday boardings at 16,186. That is a 12% increase compared to the second quarter of last year.

Ridership on the Tacoma Link streetcar is down slightly, which was not wholly unexpected. Plans are underway to extend the streetcar so it goes further, and when new stations open, that should help drive ridership back in a positive direction.

The next Link light rail stations to join the system will be U District, Roosevelt, and Northgate, all slated to come online in 2021. The opening of those stations will revolutionize travel between downtown and neighborhoods in North Seattle, providing people with a gridlock-free alternative to Interstate 5.

It’s the day after Thanksgiving: a good day to “Opt Outside” and buy nothing

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and the media, in concert with most retailers, is amping up the pressure on everybody to go out and buy stuff.

America’s retailers actually started the “Black Friday” hype weeks ago with promo emails, full page spreads in newspapers, television spots, and social media ads, so the term “Black Friday” is even more of a misnomer now than it used to be.

“Black Friday” has seemingly evolved into “Shop Till You Drop November”.

Still, the day after Thanksgiving continues to be breathlessly promoted as a day to head to the store to get great deals — or go online and do the same. (“Cyber Monday”, for all intents and purposes, is just an extension of “Black Friday”).

With all of the pressure to BUY, BUY, BUY!, it’s worth remembering there is no law that says you have to go out and make a purchase today. Much of what’s being advertised as on sale or a good deal isn’t actually a good deal.

As Brian Chen recently noted in a piece for the New York Times:

We all know the drill by now.

Retailers’ sales promotions begin weeks before Thanksgiving, with a smattering of modest deals that eventually build up to the shopping bonanza that is Black Friday — the day after Thanksgiving.

That is followed by Cyber Monday, a so-called online shopping extravaganza that takes place the Monday after Thanksgiving weekend.

To whet shoppers’ appetites further, it has become increasingly fashionable for online retailers to build up anticipation for Black Friday with so-called flash deals. These last only a few hours, putting pressure on consumers to make purchases with little or no research.

Yet, however you shop, the chances of snatching a great deal for a quality item are slim, largely because Black Friday is mainly for retailers to clear out unwanted goods and because best-selling products rarely drop much in price.

Emphasis is ours.

Serious bargain hunters know that Black Friday/Cyber Monday is simply not the deal-clinching opportunity it’s portrayed to be in mass media. Years of reputable research supports the conclusion that Black Friday is a good day not to shop.

Shop Till You Drop November is all about exaggerated discounts. Check the price history of an on-sale item with a tool like CamelCamelCamel, and you may find the item had a significantly lower price at a different time of the year. It pays to do your homework before parting ways with your hard-earned money.

But an even better idea is to not worry about buying new stuff at all, at least not today. The day after Thanksgiving is a great day for activities like:

Instead of going shopping, enjoy the possessions you already have, and learn something about where they came from by watching The Story of Stuff:

There will be plenty of time to pick up gifts, if you’re so inclined, before the winter holidays hit. We’re a month away from Christmas and Hanukkah. And retailers aren’t going to stop inviting you to browse their wares between now and then.

Chris Reykdal set to become Washington’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction

State Representative Chris Reykdal (D-22nd District: Olympia, Tumwater) is set to become Washington State’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction after fresh results show it’s become mathematically impossible for him to lose.

“We are up over 28,000 votes with less than 18,000 to count in our race. We have achieved a mathematical victory,” Reykdal noted in a Facebook update for backers of the campaign. “Thank you everyone for your incredible support!”

Chris Reykdal speaking at NPI's 2014 Spring Fundraising Gala

Superintendent-elect Chris Reykdal speaks at NPI’s 2014 Spring Fundraising Gala (Photo: Lincoln Potter/Samaya LLC)

The election is due to be certified in a week, and Reykdal will formally take over for incumbent Randy Dorn in January. Opponent Erin Jones has conceded the race in one of the classiest concession messages we’ve ever seen.

She writes:

It is time to concede the race for OSPI to my opponent, Chris Reykdal. He ran a great race, and I wish him all the best in his new role.

As for me, I believe there is a reason for everything. I believe the right doors will open to do the right work. I just need to be patient and listen. There have been multiple job offers, but I won’t commit to anything right away.

Thank you so much to my friends, colleagues, students, and, especially, family, for your support! Thank you for continuing to believe in me, no matter what! Thank you for being my strength when I was weak, for being my courage when I was afraid.

Thank you, most of all, for your love!

The video is even better, and we recommend watching it from start to finish.

Reykdal is the first candidate in years to jump straight from the Legislature to the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI).

Supporters say Reykdal’s legislative experience and relationships will be useful over the next few years as the Legislature grapples with McCleary compliance.

Current Superintendent Randy Dorn has been very vocal in chiding the Legislature for failing to meet the state’s paramount duty, but his demands for more school funding and an income tax have gone unheeded.

Meanwhile, his decision this year to sue seven school districts for illegally relying on levies to fund basic education was met with widespread condemnation.

Dorn is loud, but very ineffective, critics say.

Reykdal’s tenure as Superintendent promises to look rather different. Reykdal backers say he’ll be a bridge builder who will make the position of Superintendent much more relevant, particularly with respect to addressing McCleary.

(The Superintendent doesn’t have a vote on the budget like lawmakers do, and doesn’t have veto power like the Governor does, but does have a bully pulpit and can be an effective advocate for school funding.)

Reykdal is notably a father of children currently in public schools — his kids Carter and Kennedy often accompanied him on the campaign trail, demonstrating incredible patience and maturity at events their father had been invited to participate in — and has experience as a teacher and a school board member in addition to a state legislator. Reykdal’s record in the House is very progressive; he memorably voted against new tax cuts for Boeing and sponsored legislation to increase transparency and accountability of Washington’s initiative process.

The voters have now chosen him to join the state’s executive department.

We at NPI congratulate Chris on his victory and look forward to seeing him take over as Washington’s next Superintendent of Public Instruction in 2017. We stand ready to work with Chris to ensure our paramount duty is met as quickly as possible.

Steve O’Ban’s scheme to mess with Sound Transit’s governance should be rejected

Recently reelected Republican State Senator Steve O’Ban announced a few days ago he plans to file a new bill that would dramatically change how Sound Transit is governed. O’Ban’s proposal would replace the agency’s effective federated board with a brand new board of transit commissioners that right wing millionaires like Kemper Freeman, Jr. could attempt to stack in periodic elections.

This actually isn’t a new idea — someone comes along and proposes it almost every legislative session. We’ve been editorializing against various incarnations of schemes to mess with Sound Transit for almost ten years here on the Cascadia Advocate.

But this promised bill doesn’t deserve to gain any traction during next year’s long legislative session, so we encourage other organizations and individual activists to join us and Seattle Transit Blog in speaking out against it now.

O’Ban obviously doesn’t care that Sound Transit just won a mandate from voters to expand light rail, Express bus service, and Sounder commuter rail with the passage of ST3, or that the Legislature itself made ST3 possible last year when it approved the Connecting Washington package, which gave Sound Transit the revenue authority it needed to finance the projects in the ST3 package.

No, O’Ban — like other members of the Senate Republican caucus — want to put as many bad ideas on the table as possible as the upcoming session approaches, both to distract us and dominate the public discourse.

Republicans want the narrative coming out of session to be driven by their agenda. They don’t want progressives going on offense again like we did in this recently-concluded election, where we advanced the causes of economic justice, gun responsibility, clean elections, and transit for all through a host of successful ballot measures. But staying on offense is exactly what we need to do.

Sound Transit leaders need to focus on delivering what the voters voted for, and we’re confident that they will — the important and necessary work of implementing ST3 has actually already begun.

Legislators like O’Ban, meanwhile, need to do their jobs.

The Legislature is presently in contempt of court for failing to uphold Article IX of our state Constitution (“It is the paramount duty of the state to make ample provision for the education of all children residing within its borders, without distinction or preference on account of race, color, caste, or sex.”)

Legislators like O’Ban — and Doug Ericksen and Michael Baumgartner — should be devoting their energies to complying with the Supreme Court’s orders to get our schools properly funded, not introducing bills to mess with Sound Transit’s governance or criminalize protests against the fossil fuel industry.

The critics don’t like to admit it, but Sound Transit already happens to be governed by individuals directly elected by voters in King, Pierce, and Snohomish counties. The only member of ST’s board who isn’t an elected official is the Secretary of Transportation (currently Roger Millar). The rest of the boardmembers are mayors, county executives, county councilmembers, and city councilmembers.

We trust and empower these same people to make important regional and local decisions about land use, stormwater runoff, building codes, and a host of other issues. The beauty of the federated board model is that it brings together elected leaders from both levels of local government (county and city) who have expertise delivering public services to the people of our region.

It’s been twenty years since the Sound Move vote of 1996, but it’s apparent there are still people out there who seem to not understand what Sound Transit actually is or really does — which is odd, considering ST’s high profile.

Sound Transit exists because visionary leaders like Ruth Fisher realized decades ago that building a useful regional transit system could not happen without regional cooperation. And so the Legislature created the Regional Transit Authority (which we know as Sound Transit) to enable central Puget Sound to come together to determine how best to link together its communities with high capacity transit.

Sound Transit was designed as a vehicle for cities and counties to join forces, pooling resources to improve mobility for millions of people. ST is not just a municipal corporation. It’s a forum — a space for collaboration.

A space where partnerships can be forged.

It is therefore appropriate that ST has a board consisting of city mayors, county executives, and city and county councilmembers, because ST’s most important partners are its constituent cities and counties.

But the list doesn’t end there.

Sound Transit does a lot of planning in-house, but it relies on partners to construct and operate all of its services. Its frequent project partners include the federal government (Federal Transit Administration), Washington State Department of Transportation, the Port of Seattle, and the University of Washington.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe operates Sounder commuter rail, King County Metro operates Link light rail, and Pierce Transit, Community Transit, and Metro each operate the many ST Express routes you’ll see on ST’s system map.

An even longer list of contractors and union workforces, meanwhile, provide the capital and labor needed to construct the infrastructure required to bring the projects Sound Transit and its partners conceive to fruition.

Now, governments everywhere regularly utilize partnerships to get things done. But Sound Transit doesn’t just utilize partnerships to succeed — it depends on them. The agency would be nowhere without its partnerships.

Sound Transit is fortunate, then, that it is governed by the people who represent its most important partners (counties and cities). And we, in turn, are fortunate Sound Transit was well designed, because transit for all is an essential need.

We want results, and ST is getting results for us.

It is a testament to CEO Emeritus Joni Earl and her staff that they have been able to bring all parties to the table to deliver Link light rail, ST Express, and Sounder to an increasing number of neighborhoods. This year alone, Sound Transit opened three new light rail stations: one at the southern end of the line and two at the northern end. More stations are already under construction.

Voters like what they see, and want more just as soon as can be arranged.

ST’s critics have been saying for years that Sound Transit’s governance stinks, even as the agency’s track record has gotten better and better.

But let’s face it: these critics want to shake up Sound Transit’s governance because they’re not in control of the agency and they want to be. They cannot credibly claim to have Sound Transit’s best interests at heart. They are not rooting for Sound Transit to succeed. They haven’t in the past and they are unlikely to in the future.

They do not want Puget Sound to invest in a rail spine that will liberate people from being forced to drive to get to where they want to go — even though that’s what the majority of the people keep demonstrating that they want.

Sound Transit is not like a port, school district, or water district, and it shouldn’t be managed like one. The people who keep insisting that we need to have a bunch of transportation commissioners running Sound Transit instead of the federated board we have now are principally insiders who want to stop Sound Transit from doing what it is doing — even in the wake of a successful public vote.

There is no outcry from the riding public to change how Sound Transit is governed.

Replacing Sound Transit’s current board won’t make it more accountable, won’t speed up delivery of projects, and won’t lead to better outcomes. Steve O’Ban’s proposed bill is counterproductive and doesn’t deserve to pass Go.

Republicans nominate Dino Rossi, Toby Nixon, and Joel Hussey to succeed Andy Hill

The King County Republican Party has nominated former State Senator Dino Rossi, Kirkland City Councilmember Toby Nixon, and perennial legislative candidate Joel Hussey to succeed Andy Hill, per a tweet from Republican consultant Brett Bader, who we’re guessing attended the party’s nominating meeting today.

Rossi, fifty-seven has served multiple stints in the Washington State Senate and will most likely be who the King County Council appoints to fill the vacancy. Rossi has said he would not run to hold the seat, but would instead serve as a caretaker.

Rossi has run three failed campaigns for statewide office: in 2004 (for Governor), in 2008 (again for Governor), and in 2010 (for U.S. Senate). He lost those campaigns to Chris Gregoire and Patty Murray. In 2012, after Cheryl Pflug resigned her Senate seat, Rossi was tapped to serve out the remaining months of Pflug’s term. (Democrat Mark Mullet succeeded Rossi as the district’s senator in January of 2013; Mullet is currently on track to win a second four-year term.)

Nixon is a Kirkland City Councilmember who previously served as State Representative for the 45th. A decade ago, Nixon ran for state Senate to succeed the departing Bill Finkbeiner, but was defeated by Eric Oemig, who lost his bid for a second term four years later to Andy Hill. Nixon then tried to get his state House seat back in the 2008 cycle, running against Roger Goodman, the man who’d taken his place, but Goodman prevailed and has continued to win every cycle since.

Joel Hussey is one of the Republicans Goodman has vanquished in those subsequent cycles. He was Goodman’s fourth opponent (after Jeffrey Possinger, Nixon, and Kevin Haistings). Hussey garnered 43.54% of the vote in 2012 against Goodman and 45.01% in a 2014 rematch. Goodman this year faced Sammamish City Councilmember Ramiro Valderrama, who is getting a paltry 38.09%.

Because the 45th’s boundaries are entirely within King County, the King County Council has the final say over who will be appointed. However, the Council must choose from among Rossi, Nixon, or Hussey, per Article II, Section 15 of the Washington State Constitution. If the Council fails to act in a timely fashion, responsibility for making an appointment would pass to Governor Inslee.

As mentioned above, Rossi has said he is willing to take over from Hill for the 2017 session but would not be a candidate in the special election to succeed Hill. Nixon and Hussey have not made similar public statements to our knowledge, but it’s quite possible they’re also interested in just being caretakers.

The election to pick a successor to Hill will held concurrently with the 2017 local elections next August and November.

Special Senate elections will also be taking place in the 37th, 48th, and 31st districts to fill vacancies left by Pramila Jayapal, Cyrus Habib, and Pam Roach, who will be leaving the Legislature to take other elected positions.

Trump fans, welcome to the backlash against your backlash. It’s only just getting started.

People all across the Disunited States of America, disgusted with Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, have taken to the streets to protest the foul-mouthed neofascist, with many declaring “He’s Not My President.”

In city after city, from Denver to Chicago to Los Angeles to San Francisco and Oakland to New York to Seattle and Portland, multiracial crowds are marching, carrying signs, and voicing their displeasure with the election results… loudly.

Many snide Trump fans on social media sound as though they had not expected this reaction, seemingly having failed to appreciate that the real estate tycoon they’re fanatic about is just as emphatically disliked by a greater number of people.

Trump fans, welcome to the backlash against your backlash. You propelled a bigoted predator with authoritarian designs into the White House, preying on the fears and frustrations of fellow citizens. You should not be surprised that people are upset. Tolerance and inclusion are fundamental American values, and they were repeatedly attacked by Donald Trump in his nasty, divisive campaign.

Those who are out protesting know full well that tolerance for intolerance only leads to more intolerance. That’s why people have taken to the streets.

Donald Trump calls 2012 election a sham

Trump fans, we haven’t forgotten what your man tweeted in the wake of the last presidential election… like his comment that “the phony Electoral College made a laughingstock out of our nation” or “Let’s fight like hell and stop this great and disgusting injustice! The world is laughing at us!”

We at NPI have watched for years as you Trump fans have ridiculed, mocked, insulted, and attempted to smear our current President, Barack Obama, falsely insinuating or outright claiming he isn’t even an American citizen.

Then we watched you unleash a torrent of hate against Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, calling for her imprisonment and even execution.

Now your man, who led that racist birtherism charge a few years ago, has won a projected majority in the Electoral College, and you have the audacity to demand that the opposition quietly respect the outcome of an election you were hinting only days ago you’d consider rigged if it went the other way.

That’s not going to happen. These protests are only just the beginning.

American progressives will not be still or remain quiet in the face of your bigotry and Trump’s bigotry. We know that if we are not continually working to expand freedom, it will contract, as we have seen in this election. We are determined to carry on the fight to expand freedom in this country as 2016 ends and 2017 begins. To not do so would mean abandoning the values this country was founded upon.

So expect these protests to continue, and expect a lot more of them in the years to come. The First Amendment, the Bill of Rights, and the United States Constitution don’t belong to you only. They belong to all Americans. Our first freedoms exist to be exercised, and they are being exercised tonight across this country by patriotic Americans ready to fight to prevent this country from slipping further into darkness.

A horrible week just got worse: Mass shooting reported in downtown Seattle

Authorities in Seattle have cordoned off an area near 3rd & Pine following a mass shooting in the heart of the city. We don’t know very much at this time, except that five people are said to be wounded and two have life-threatening injuries. The perpetrator(s) are unknown at this time and the investigation is ongoing.

Police have said they believe the gunfire resulted from a personal argument. A weapon, or weapons, were drawn and shots were fired into a crowd.

Via SPD’s Blotter:

Five people were wounded Wednesday in a shooting in downtown Seattle.

At 6:45 PM, Seattle police officers and King County Sheriff’s deputies rushed to 3rd Avenue and Pine Street after hearing gunfire.

Police found five victims on the street in front of a convenience store and at an adjacent bus stop.

One man was taken to Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. The four other victims—one woman and three men—were transported with non-life-threatening injuries.

At this time, the shooting NOT believed to be connected to earlier demonstration at Westlake.

Detectives are on scene and have closed several streets in the area as police collect evidence and search for witnesses.

Police are still gathering information about the suspect, who is believed to be an adult male.

If you have any information about this incident, please contact detectives at 206-684-5550.

As noted, the shooting is unconnected to large protests against Donald Trump that began at Westlake Center and have since moved to the University of Washington. Those protests have remained peaceful and now involve thousands of people.

California’s Democratic leaders offer a fitting, appropriate response to Trump’s “triumph”

Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and other national Democratic figures are showing a lot of deference to Donald Trump in the hours following the projection of his likely victory in the Electoral College — perhaps owing to their belief that deference is required to ensure a peaceful transition of power.

Said Clinton:

Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.

Our constitutional democracy enshrines the peaceful transfer of power, and we don’t just respect that, we cherish it. It also enshrines other things—the rule of law, the principle that we’re all equal in rights and dignity, and the freedom of worship and expression. We respect and cherish these things too—and we must defend them.

Said Pelosi:

The peaceful transfer of power is the cornerstone of our democracy.  After an election in which Donald Trump won the electoral college and Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, we have a responsibility to come together and find common ground.

Only by recognizing and respecting the important contributions that all Americans make to our country’s success can we build an inclusive and stronger future for America.

Said Obama:

Now, everybody is sad when their side loses an election. But the day after, we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first. We’re patriots first. We all want what’s best for this country. That’s what I heard in Mr. Trump’s remarks last night. That’s what I heard when I spoke to him directly. And I was heartened by that. That’s what the country needs — a sense of unity; a sense of inclusion,; a respect for our institutions, our way of life, rule of law; and a respect for each other.

I get that Obama, Clinton, Pelosi, and others feel they have to call for unity and a peaceful transfer of power. They’re trying to be America’s better angels.

But now is not a time for unity. Now is not a time for deference. Neofascism won last night, and we have to fight it. We have to resist the darkness with all we have.

Now is a time for organizing — organizing to resist Trump, organizing to defend our vital public services, organizing to advance progressive causes.

Let’s not be naive or pretentious here. Donald Trump just got elected after having run one of the most divisive, mean-spirited, nasty campaigns in U.S. history. He walks, talks, and acts like a neofascist. No one can believe a word he says. He’s totally untrustworthy and unfit for the presidency. The notion that a neofascist can unify this country around its finest traditional values is utterly preposterous.

It won’t happen, nor should we want it to happen. The other side isn’t interested in finding any common ground. To them, bipartisanship = capitulation. It’s their way or the highway, period. We’ve seen this before. Republicans have a big, fat double standard: they demand Democrats show deference when they have the power, but do not return the favor after Democrats win elections.

Remember Mitch McConnell’s scorched-earth opposition tactics? Remember the abuse of the filibuster? Remember the U.S. Senate’s outrageous failure to take up Merrick Garland’s nomination for Supreme Court justice?

Let’s not forget that from the moment Obama began running for President in 2007, right wing Republicans — including Trump’s enablers — began spreading vicious lies about him, most notoriously that he wasn’t born in this country, when we know for a fact he was. Donald Trump embraced those lies several years ago and became Birther-in-Chief. Now, disgustingly, he will become Obama’s successor as Commander-in-Chief. It’s a horrible moment in this country’s history.

Donald Trump does not deserve our support or deference. He has not earned any; he should not receive any. His conduct during and before this campaign has been monstrous. It should be repudiated at every turn, not excused away.

Trump must not be legitimized by Democrats simply because he duped millions into voting for him. Except for on the Left Coast, New England, and a few other places, the Democratic Party is every respect America’s opposition party now. In a few months, Republicans will control every branch of the federal government.

It’s time for the Democratic Party to embrace its role as the loyal opposition.

California’s Democratic legislative leadership woke up to the same grim outcome that Clinton and Obama did, but they came up with a much better response: affirm that Trump and his agenda are completely incompatible with America’s finest traditional values — which residents of California voted emphatically to uphold last night. In a joint statement, they declared:

Today, we woke up feeling like strangers in a foreign land, because yesterday Americans expressed their views on a pluralistic and democratic society that are clearly inconsistent with the values of the people of California.

We have never been more proud to be Californians.

By a margin in the millions, Californians overwhelmingly rejected politics fueled by resentment, bigotry, and misogyny.

The largest state of the union and the strongest driver of our nation’s economy has shown it has its surest conscience as well.

California is – and must always be – a refuge of justice and opportunity for people of all walks, talks, ages and aspirations – regardless of how you look, where you live, what language you speak, or who you love.

California has long set an example for other states to follow. And California will defend its people and our progress.

We are not going to allow one election to reverse generations of progress at the height of our historic diversity, scientific advancement, economic output, and sense of global responsibility.

We will be reaching out to federal, state and local officials to evaluate how a Trump Presidency will potentially impact federal funding of ongoing state programs, job-creating investments reliant on foreign trade, and federal enforcement of laws affecting the rights of people living in our state. We will maximize the time during the presidential transition to defend our accomplishments using every tool at our disposal.

While Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.

California was not a part of this nation when its history began, but we are clearly now the keeper of its future.

This was a great statement. Note its positivity and steadfastness, note the commitment to defend the values we hold dear. Note the progressive framing.

It is an appropriate and fitting response to Trump’s “triumph”. Capitulation is not the way forward. I hope to see a similar joint statement very soon from Governor Inslee and Democratic leaders here in Washington, and from Governor Kate Brown and Democratic leaders in Oregon.

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