I was traveling on business all last week. So now I'm posting a collection of news and notes that I've been accumulating in the meantime.
- Adam Wilson of the Olympian recently reported that the Pension Funding Council has adopted a new formula that could actually result in a cost reduction for most state employees. Under the revised projection, PERS member contribution rates would go down from 5.45% in 2008-09 to 4.61% in 2009-11. The news isn't as good for PSERS members, who would see their rates increase slightly. Of course, all of this is subject to approval by the Legislature in the 2009 session.
- If you had any doubts why it's absolutely critical that we support Chris Gregoire this year, look no further than California. In response to his state's budget problems, Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is fighting to "cut the pay of 200,000 state workers to the federal minimum wage of $6.55 an hour." Is there any doubt Dino Rossi would do the same thing? After all, he wrote the 2003-05 budget that resulted in a net pay reduction for state workers for four years in a row.
- Congressional Quarterly just released a revised list of the Top 10 Congressional Challengers. According to their report, WFSE-endorsed Congressional candidate Darcy Burner (D-8) is now ranked #3 in the nation.
- There was a huge uproar last week over President Bush joking about how "Wall Street got drunk" in reference to the collapsing housing market. In response, syndicated columnist Marianne Means wrote that Bush "failed to mention that he had been the bartender at this orgy..." Thanks to the power of Youtube, you can see the clip here and judge for yourself.
- On July 15 I wrote about how the mainstream media had apparently sat on a story about Public Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland being accused of sexually harassing a DNR employee. One day after HorsesAss.org broke the story, the Seattle Times finally published their own article on the incident. The Associated Press also ran the story and it was reported in media outlets across the state. David Postman, whom I really respect, agreed that the criticism of Sutherland (and the media's failure to report on information they had received months ago) was valid, but questioned the double-standard of Democratic partisans who brushed off similar accusations about former Governor Mike Lowry, the Democratic nominee whom Sutherland defeated for Public Lands Commissioner eight years ago. Of course, if all Democrats had been willing to look the other way regarding Lowry, Sutherland wouldn't have been elected in the first place. In 2000, Lowry received 195,000 fewer votes than Al Gore and 147,000 fewer votes than Maria Cantwell. [Note: WFSE has endorsed Democrat Peter Goldmark for Commissioner of Public Lands]
- Speaking of the Seattle Times, reporter Ralph Thomas wrote an extensive piece that appeared in last Sunday's paper describing how Dino Rossi's losing gubernatorial campaign four years ago actually "helped push his income to the highest level he's reported since entering politics 16 years ago." David Postman followed the article up with a blog post re-examining Rossi's Forward Washington Foundation. According to Postman, "Forward Washington's biggest expenses included Rossi's $75,000 salary and $24,000 in legal fees. The foundation also spent $9,100 to buy copies of Rossi's self-published book." Rossi has so far refused to say who funded his foundation.
- Finally, due to the popularity of the video from the satirical website "The Onion" that I posted a couple of weeks ago (OK, to be honest, as far as I know it was only popular with the LPA Dept. staff), I'm dipping back into the vault of the Onion for another clip that cracked me up: "In the Know: Are Politicians Failing Our Lobbyists?" Please forgive me.