Tuesday, September 30, 2008

"Close the Book On Dino Rossi"

Matt just directed me to a new video from SEIU 775 that made me chuckle. See what you think:

-- Dennis

Younger Voters Agree To Let Old Folks Make All the Decisions

Ever wonder why the federal government is able to rack up massive deficits without consequence? Ever wonder why policies at the state and federal level favor people who already have money or own property, at the expense of people struggling to make ends meet? It's because younger voters have agreed to let the old people make all the decisions.

While only 42% of all registered voters participated in the August primary, voters over age 65 turned out at a rate of 72%. On the other hand, turnout among those age 18 to 24 was just 18%, and turnout among those age 25 to 34 was just 19%. It's no wonder the Seattle Times wrote that Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi "will need to court older voters if they hope to win the governor's race in November." It's not even a debatable point. The fact is, the younger you are, the less likely you are to vote. As the News Tribune wrote, "the kids are letting the codgers decide their future."

That's the thing about elections. Decisions are made, whether you participate or not. As near as I can tell, the under 35 folks are just fine with the way everything is going, because they have made the conscious decision to let someone else do all of their thinking for them. And, on behalf of old folks everywhere, I only have one thing to say: "Thanks!" -- Dennis

Follow up to "Frodo" post

Here is a link to some polling that I found interesting and scary. This polling is particularly interesting because it combines data from most of the significant pollsters out there.


The end of Sept. shows Republican candidate Rossi pulling ahead. As was mentioned in the "Frodo" post, in a close race, state employees vote will be a key factor.

Will state employees turn out to vote?

Will they choose to vote for the Governor who has probably produced more positive outcomes for state employees than (arguably) any other Washington State Governor?

Will the bulk of state employees (not the activists like you, gentle reader) educate themselves on what the issues are, or will they float down the stream of popular opinion that is forged by campaign ads and partisan politics?

What will you, gentle reader, do to achieve the best outcome for your livelihood and interests?

What will the consequences of doing nothing be?

Unsettling thoughts on a lovely fall day.


US House Passes Economic Stimulus Bill

Lost amid all the noise surrounding the Wall Street bailout debate, the House on Friday passed an economic stimulus package that would benefit working families broadly and WFSE members specifically. The following is an excerpt from Monday's AFSCME Legislative Report:

"Thanks to efforts of AFSCME activists across the nation, AFSCME scored an important legislative victory when the House passed an economic stimulus package (H.R. 7110) by a vote of 264-158 on Friday. Forty-one Republicans supported the package despite a veto threat from the Administration...

The bill would provide states with $14.4 billion in fiscal relief by providing temporary additional federal support of state Medicaid programs. The bill would also grow our economy and create jobs through a $30 billion investment in infrastructure. It would help maintain a basic standard of living for families by extending unemployment benefits for Americans looking for work and providing $2.6 billion for additional food stamp assistance.

Earlier in the day, by a vote of 52 to 42, Senate Republicans blocked consideration of an economic recovery package by threatening a filibuster. The bill, stymied by Republican Senators, would have provided $19.6 billion in temporary additional federal support for state Medicaid programs. The bill would have provided $490 million for Byrne Justice Assistance Grants to support state and local communities and other important assistance to state and local governments. It also included funds to avert staffing cuts for child support enforcement...

Congress will hopefully address the need for real economic assistance as soon as possible in the new Congress which will convene in January with a new president in the White house. The strong bi-partisan vote in the House hopefully lays a
foundation for swift congressional action."

Both of our US Senators, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, supported this measure. All of the Washington delegation in the US House supported it except for Doc Hastings and Cathy McMorris Rodgers. We truly appreciate the support from our Congressional representatives who voted for this bill.

Most of us realize that decisions made in Washington DC can have a significant impact on our jobs and our lives. The AFSCME Legislative Report is a great way to stay informed, and you can have it e-mailed to you every week by signing up here. -- Dennis

Monday, September 29, 2008

PBS Documentary on Healthcare premieres tomorrow at 9pm

For those who might truly be interested, and to those who might need something to default to on a Tuesday night, consider checking out a health care documentary tomorrow at 9pm on PBS. From the trailer, it looks like it could be an interesting one!

Watch the trailer at www.pbs.org/pov/criticalcondition

CRITICAL CONDITION, a new documentary by Roger Weisberg
Critical Condition paints a disturbing and gripping portrait of what happens when you're sick and uninsured in America. The unforgettable subjects of this cinema verite documentary discover that being uncovered can cost them their jobs, health, homes, savings, and even their lives. A production of Public Policy Productions in association with Thirteen/WNET New York and American Documentary P.O.V.

All for now!

Wall Street Bail out plan

The boss is busy. He usually posts things that help the gentle reader stay informed on matters of political interest that impact the ol' lunch box. In his stead I offer this.

Today the AFL-CIO president, John Sweeney came out with a statement regarding this weekends summit and resulting plan.

September 29, 2008
The bailout bill that emerged from congressional
negotiations over the weekend gives too little relief to homeowners and too much power to an administration that has demonstrated neither competence nor foresight.

If passed, it will require vigilant monitoring. And without a robust economic recovery package and concrete help for homeowners, the bailout will not work. It will not address the real underlying weaknesses in the U.S. economy, and it will not earn the confidence of working men and women. It should not be enacted unless Congress moves forward with a meaningful
economic stimulus package now.

Last week congressional Democrats laid out a plan that would have gone further toward addressing the most serious concerns that we have raised during this crisis, including effective protections for taxpayers and homeowners.

Congressional Republicans and President Bush blocked the
economic stimulus bill in the Senate and they spent the weekend watering down the bailout bill that is now before Congress -- weakening the independent oversight as
well as the limits on executive compensation and eliminating bankruptcy relief for homeowners. We understand the very serious risks to working families of a financial collapse, and we appreciate the need for comprehensive action on the
part of our government. But we have serious doubts about the precise plan being proposed.

Given this uncertainty, and the magnitude of the powers and expenditures being requested by the Administration, we call on Congress to pass an economic stimulus package this week for Main Street, together with bankruptcy reform to help homeowners.

Without a stimulus and bankruptcy reform, the bailout
looks like what it is - - help for Wall Street - - when what America needs is help for Main Street.

Lets make sure they keep it real for the working family.


It ain't over till its over

Having been through the breakneck rigors of contract negotiations, I know that the tendency is, once negotiations are finished and the contract is ratified, to consider it a done deal.

After reading the Olympian today, I say, "nay, nay"! It ain't over until its over, and that is Sine die.

I would ask our gentle reader to follow this link and read what the Olympians Adam Wilson has to say...


If the story doesn't remind you that there is still work to do, then read some of the comments from the public!

We still have to get our contract in the Gov.'s budget (depending on who is elected this job gets exponentially more challenging) and approval by the house and the senate.

When you add sentiments like the ones from the Senate Republicans senior member on the Ways and Means Committee, Senator Joe Zarelli. This is what The Olympians Adam Wilson reports on Senator Zarelli's feelings on the matter...

If you're facing a $529 million drop in projections, you might consider renegotiating state worker health benefits, Zarelli says. He notes that Gov. Chris Gregoire settled health care negotiations in one day with the coalition of state worker unions, agreeing to have employees continue paying 12 percent of premiums.In a two-page item making the case for going back to the table, Zarelli includes:
The 2007 Kaiser Family Foundation nationwide survey on employer health benefits found that employees pay on average 28% for family coverage. This includes both small and large companies. If just large companies were the point of comparison, the average employee in a large firm (more than 200 employees) pays 24% of the cost. Or twice what state government employees in Washington pay for family coverage. And it should be noted this is what people who receive health coverage through their employer pay. In Washington state, only 62% of employers offer coverage to employees.

So don't put your green shirts away yet. With the legislative session coming upon us quickly the prudent state employee goes to work now. We'll need all hands on deck to get around the obstacles that this little 'ol contract has in front of it. Remember that democracy is not a spectator sport, you have to play before you can win;-)

That is all for now gentle reader. Until next time, Remember,

"There comes a time in the affairs of man when he must take the bull by the tail and face the situation. " W.C. Fields


Tuesday, September 23, 2008

AFL-CIO On Wall Street Bailout

I hadn't really intended to go back to this topic, but just a few hours after my post on the Wall Street fiasco, our good friend, Rep. Mike Sells (D-38), passed along a statement from AFL-CIO President John Sweeney on the issue. Here is Sweeney's statement in it entirety:

Statement by AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
On Treasury Department Bailout Plan

September 22, 2008

The plan proposed by the Treasury Department is dangerous and ill-conceived and should not be adopted in its current form. Our nation is facing a real financial crisis that calls for action that is thoughtful and swift - but not hasty. The actions we take at this perilous time must set the stage for a real recovery that benefits Main Street as well as Wall Street. The last thing we should do is compound the enormous imbalances in our economy with an enormously imbalanced rescue package - one that continues to put working families dead last.

Congress should start over and do it right. Any bailout plan must:

* Be governed by an independent board with transparency and effective public and Congressional oversight. There must be strong safeguards that any taxpayer money is spent in the public interest, and that a needed bailout does not become a raid on the Treasury by financial elites. Participating institutions must give the government equity-a stake in the good assets in exchange for the benefits of the bailout.

* Use the full array of financial and legal tools available to the government to stop foreclosures and restructure home mortgage loans for working families;

* Address the cause of the crisis on Main Street in addition to the symptoms on Wall Street. Congress should pass a second stimulus package in its entirety. We need a stimulus that extends unemployment benefits, provides needed aid to cities and states, and creates good jobs by rebuilding crumbling schools, roads, bridges and water systems.

* Work to address the disastrous weaknesses in our financial regulatory system and corporate governance system that allowed this disaster to happen.

The Treasury Department proposal fails all these tests. It proposes a grant of unlimited authority to the Bush Administration to spend $700 billion of the public's money to prop up whomever they wish on Wall Street, without any rules or independent oversight. It does nothing for families facing foreclosure or for working people hit hard by the economy, and it does nothing to hold those who caused this crisis accountable.

Congress should use as a starting point the bill proposed this afternoon by Senate Banking Committee Chair Christopher Dodd, together with the Congressional leadership's stimulus package.

The stakes at this time are enormous. If this plan ends up squandering hundreds of billions of dollars of the public's money, the damage will not be limited to the financial system. As a nation, we must address the health care crisis, the infrastructure crisis, the energy and environmental crisis and the jobs crisis. Our future and our children's future depend on focusing our nation on these challenges in the real economy.

In addition, the AFL-CIO has issued a national call to action urging all of its members to demand Congress enact a better deal. I still think this is kind of off topic for our little blog, but hopefully our reader(s) will find it interesting. -- Dennis

On a Lighter Note

Courtesy of The Onion: "McCain's Economic Plan For Nation: 'Everyone Marry a Beer Heiress'"

Is the plastic surgery included?

-- Dennis

Off On a Tangent

I realize this is a little out of the scope of the WFSE Political Blog, but I am just so angry about the collapse of our nation's financial markets, and the ensuing government bailouts that will cripple the federal budget for years to come, that I can hardly contain myself.

The irony is staggering. Chris Pummer, from the pro-business website marketwatch.com, wrote, "As free-market-loving Americans, we all know overregulating an economy amounts to socialism. We're now discovering what happens when you underregulate -- communism. The $85 billion federal loan guarantee for insurance giant American International Group is being characterized as a bailout when it's actually a buyout -- with the government taking an 80% stake in the world's 18th largest company. The brutal irony: A conservative GOP administration has essentially nationalized the country's largest insurer."

Just ten days ago, the Wall Street Journal editorialized that raising taxes in California and New York would lead to slower growth and hurt the economy. At the same time, the "Bush administration is already forecasting that the federal deficit will hit a record $482 billion next year. Analysts say the bailout costs mean a $1 trillion annual deficit is not out of the question. " Where does the WSJ think this money is going to come from, if not tax increases? Apparently, the WSJ is opposed to taxes for schools and health care, but using tax dollars to prop up entire economic sectors -- whose failures are the direct result of corporate malfeasance -- is OK. Now, even builders and developers -- the most anti-tax, anti-government, anti-regulation group in modern politics -- are begging for government intervention in order to prop up their industry. If the WSJ wants to restrain government spending, perhaps they could start by looking in the mirror.

The only thing that would make me feel a little bit better would be if some of these corporate criminals were actually held accountable. I couldn't agree more with the editorial board of the News Tribune:

"...[F]ederal officials have little choice but to pay the price for past failures to regulate... Only one problem: The bill will be sent to American taxpayers, who – aside from foolish homebuyers – have been innocent bystanders in all this... Taxpayers won’t see many dividends from their 'investments' in bad debt, but they do deserve to see some justice... Watching CEOs walk away from failed companies with millions of dollars in their pockets has been the single most grating thing about this debacle. Others may be guilty of outright thievery. The safer banks are probably rife with personal accounts filled with ill-gotten gains. That money belongs in the U.S. Treasury. "

Amen. -- Dennis

Monday, September 22, 2008

Gaze Into The Crystal Ball Frodo Baggins...

As Halloween approaches I thought I would share something really scary with my brothers and sisters who fight daily against attacks on Labor from those who seek to profit from us.

This scary story involves a look into the crystal ball where you will see the possible future of those who work for the State of Washington and a reading assignment. Are you brave enough gentle reader (note the use of the "singular")? I know that you are.

First read this link. The author is a professor of Economics at PLU named Eli Berniker. He is writing about the dilemma of our brothers and sisters at Boeing:


Professor Berniker is very eloquent in his breakdown of the situation facing our Boeing brothers and sisters and the potential consequences if management prevails. Note the battle with outsourcing of jobs, the high cost of business being largely due to administrative overhead, and the loss of quality work that comes with a lack of value with seniority in the workforce and a lack of concern for quality products that make it into the hands of customers. Sound familiar? You know that it does.

I would submit to you that the battle that Labor faces at Boeing today is the battle state employees may face tomorrow. A battle in which management says "none for you" while their tax brackets continue to rise, their kids head off to Ivy league schools and they upgrade their used cars for new ones every year.

If Dino Rossi becomes our Governor do you think that the thousands of institutional cooks, grounds keepers, maintenance workers will have a job? Low hanging fruit from the outsourcing point of view. Social Services and Corrections jobs are only a little higher on the tree, with many business out there ready to take on the new business opportunity. Will you, gentle reader, have anything to say about it once Rossi is in office? All one must do is to read some of the other posts on this blog to see first hand what Dino thinks of State Employees. At the very least, if Rossi should prevail, your "to say" factor diminishes exponentially.

The time to speak up is now. In a race as close as the last one, if just 5% State Employees would have voted who did not we would not have had to pay for all those recounts. There are several thousand of us not registered to vote, or who didn't make it to the polls for the primaries. Just 5% more....

Is this the future that will be, or the future that might be asks young Frodo to the wise elf Galadrial? Her reply, "all our futures ride on on the razors edge, and only you shall decide it" (not an exact quote, but can I have some props for the reference?!!)

So it goes for State Employees. The time to act is now. Vote. Get 3 friends to vote. We will face the battle that Boeing faces now to one extent or another. You must carry the ring... will you toss it into the fire or be tempted by the smarmy words of the dark one?

So what will you do? Those who do nothing will surely destroy the shire that we all love.

Happy Halloween

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Seattle Times Endorses Obama For President

Much to this observer's surprise, the Seattle Times on Friday endorsed Barack Obama for President. The normally conservative Times wrote, "Obama should be the next president of the United States because he is the most qualified change agent... American optimism has been wracked by President George Bush and a previous Republican Congress. If you want change, you do not keep what is essentially the same team in power." -- Dennis

Why State Employees Support Steve Van Luven

Steve Van Luven is a Republican running for an open state Senate seat in the 40th Legislative District who has received WFSE's endorsement. A number of people have indicated to me they're surprised by this decision, so I thought it might be appropriate to provide an explanation.

Steve served in the state House for 17 years from the 48th District while he lived in Bellevue. During part of that time the Republicans were in control under the leadership of then-Speaker Clyde Ballard. WFSE had been working for years to secure passage of a full-scope collective bargaining bill, but Speaker Ballard was an adamant opponent. Yet, in spite of fierce opposition from his own caucus leadership, Van Luven agreed to be the prime sponsor of our bill.

In 1995, the state Senate passed our bargaining bill on a 30-19 vote, but the House was refusing to consider it. The Federation held a rally on the capitol steps to try to get the Republicans in the House to give our bill a fair hearing. One of the main speakers at our rally was Steve Van Luven. The story of the rally appeared in our April 1995 newspaper:

"The Senate passed ESB 5841 [state employee collective bargaining] March 14 on a bipartisan vote of 30-19. The Senate budget also included $500,000 to implement it.

But a few key House Republicans were refusing to allow the bill up for a committee hearing, even though 17 House Republicans signed on a sponsors of the House version of the bill.

One of those 17 Republicans, Rep. Steve Van Luven, R-Bellevue, the prime sponsor of the House version of ESB 5841, got one of the warmest receptions at the March 24 rally.

'I have to confess I've never been to a union rally before,' Van Luven joked.

'Today there are 17 of us Republicans who signed onto this piece of legislation,' he said, 'We're making ground. Republicans are starting to realize that state work is hard work and we need to be taking better care of you.'

Van Luven said when he first came to the Legislature, he was appalled at how state employees were treated. Both of Van Luven's parents had been long-time state employees and private-sector businesses he came from treated their employees fairly, he said.

'I found out that the Legislature over the years did not properly take care of state employees...,' Van Luven said. 'I got tired of seeing state employees coming down here on their hands and knees begging for 1, 2, 3 percent raises...'

'I can tell you that if the Legislature was not going to take care of state employees, then we need to give you the right to do it yourselves and that's why I'm in favor of collective bargaining.'"

In spite of the strong support from Van Luven and others, Ballard was successful in preventing our bill from coming up to a vote that year. In fact, we had to wait another eight years before the Legislature finally passed a collective bargaining bill. Further, Ballard and other key Republicans were extremely angry with Van Luven for his outspoken support of state workers. Van Luven had to pay a heavy political price for standing up for us.

I have met Van Luven's Democratic opponent this year, Kevin Ranker, and I've been very impressed with him. However, our members wanted to stand with a candidate who had previously stood with them, and I think that was the honorable thing for us to do. Hopefully our members in the 40th District, as well as across the state, will support Steve and let him know we truly appreciate his support for us. -- Dennis

McKenna Files Suit Against BIAW

Following up on our post from earlier this week, Attorney General Rob McKenna filed a lawsuit against the Building Industry Association of Washington for campaign finance violations. The case, along with a related case against the Master Builders of King & Snohomish County, have been assigned to Thurston County Superior Court. Conferences are scheduled for December, so don't expect any relief from the constant barrage of pro-Rossi, anti-Gregoire advertising from BIAW's "Change PAC" in the short run.

A separate lawsuit, brought forward by a couple of BIAW members who object to the associations' far-right agenda, is also pending in Thurston County Superior Court. For more information about that suit, check out this earlier article from the Seattle Weekly. -- Dennis

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Still More News and Notes

I'm making another attempt to clear off my desk. I'm beginning to think it's hopeless.

> TNT says state's mental health system must change

In response to the tragic incident in Skagit County where a mentally ill man killed six people, the News Tribune Editorial Board wrote an excellent essay about how our incoherent mental health policies have put both the public and the mentally ill directly into harm's way. "Releasing [the mentally ill] from institutions was supposed to free them – and it could have, had enough treatment money followed them. But in too many cases, they were freed to go hungry and homeless, to crowd expensive jails and emergency rooms, to live under bridges or get kicked to death by gangs. And, in a few cases, freed to assault or kill random people who crossed their paths."

> Boy, is I-985 a bad idea

Alia wrote a nice post the other day explaining why state employees should be opposed to I-985, and I hope you had a chance to read it. Of course one of the biggest concerns is it imposes significant new costs on state government with no way to pay for them. According to an analysis prepared by OFM, I-985 would cost $256 million in the 2007-09 biennium, and would have a $623 million price tag over a five year period. Are you getting sick and tired of Tim Eyman's antics? Maybe the Tim Eyman Update we posted a couple of weeks ago will help.

Note: Speaking of OFM, they recently unveiled new web-based tools to allow the public to track state spending and performance. Now maybe you can find out what your agency is up to. Check it out and let us know what you think.

> Dino Rossi says collective bargaining is corrupt, but the Seattle P-I has a more rational perspective

Dino Rossi has been relentlessly attacking Governor Gregoire for bargaining with state employees. He even went so far as to say having the governor bargain with workers during an election season has "the appearance of corruption. I'm not sure this kind of thing is even legal in New Jersey."

Obviously, Rossi has never served on a school board or city council. If he had, he wouldn't be so frightened by the prospect of having elected officials bargain with their employees. Regardless, the Seattle P-I's editorial board provided a more reasonable, less reactionary analysis when they wrote "Gregoire will be judged on what kind of deal she crafts... Will the agreement meet the test of fairness for employees and taxpayers?"

> Fun in the 3rd CD

The local Republican Party organization refuses to endorse Michael Delevar, the Republican Congressional candidate who finished in the top two in last month's primary, because Delevar thinks the Iraq war was a bad idea. Delevar is running against WFSE-endorsed incumbent Brian Baird in the 3rd Congressional District.

> Republicans get hit in the pocketbook, and I'm not talking about taxes

Speaking of the Republican Party, David Postman, of the Seattle Times, reports the WA St Republican Party has agreed to a $15,000 fine for failure to properly report contributions made on behalf of candidates in 2004 and 2006. Over the years, both parties have been hit with substantial fines for campaign finance violations. When you're receiving and spending millions of dollars, mistakes happen. Still, for the WSRP, the timing couldn't be worse.

Man, I feel a lot better after getting all of these articles off my desk. I sure hope our one reader finds something here that is useful. -- Dennis

BIAW Guilty Of Campaign Violations

On Monday, the state Public Disclosure Commission, as reported by the Seattle P-I, "determined that one of the state's most politically aggressive industry groups violated campaign finance law while amassing its multimillion dollar war chest... [T]he BIAW had illegally solicited, received and retained more than $584,000 from it's local associations without registering as a political action committee."

Brad Shannon of the Olympian added the "PDC found BIAW also spent $2.5 million on politics since 2006 using money it earns as a profit from a lucrative industrial-insurance rebate program it runs for about 6,000 companies." That money has been funneled into ChangePAC, which "has spent more than $1 million on hard-hitting ads in the governor's race, attacking incumbent Gov. Chris Gregoire and promoting Republican challenger Dino Rossi..."

The PDC forwarded the case to Attorney General Rob McKenna for prosecution. Bob Young of the Seattle Times writes that puts Republican McKenna "in a tough spot. McKenna must decide whether to seek fines against a group that has been deeply involved in conservative campaigns in recent years, from state Supreme Court races to this year's governor's contest... The BIAW backed McKenna's 2004 campaign for attorney general."

Don't expect this setback to result in fewer anti-Gregoire attack ads. I'll be surprised if McKenna doesn't quickly negotiate a financial settlement that might sting BIAW a little, but won't really slow them down. According to Young, BIAW Vice President Tom McCabe said the PDC's ruling will have "no impact on our activities in the [governor's] race."

McKenna has until Friday to decide what he's going to do with the PDC's findings. Regardless, a separate lawsuit in Thurston County Superior Court on behalf of some disgruntled BIAW members will continue. Stay tuned. There will be more to this story over the next few weeks. -- Dennis

Note: The PDC report on the BIAW's violations can be found here. A report on similar violations by the Master Builders Assn. of King and Snohomish Counties can be found here.

Momentum Continues To Build For True Health Care Reform

Both the Seattle Times and the Seattle P-I recently ran opinion pieces that articulate nicely what needs to be done to truly fix our health care system.

The Seattle P-I Editorial Board wrote,

"Truth be told, we already have a government-funded health care system; we just pretend we don't. There's this supposed mix of private and public insurance, but the fact is the U.S. government (you know, we, the taxpayers) spend nearly a quarter more for government health care programs than say, Canada (a country that is supposed to have government-controlled health care). And what do we get for our extravagant spending? A total mess."

Seattle Times Editorial Columnist Lance Dickie wrote,

"The public is way ahead of politicians on the need for change. Polls consistently show Americans favor expanded health-insurance coverage for all — by huge margins. The punch line has always been that their genuine enthusiasm for change is diminished by expectations of higher costs and reduced benefits for themselves. Turns out higher costs and degraded benefits are precisely what they are getting now."

America's health care problem isn't the result of a lack of money being spent. We spend, as a nation and as individuals, extravagant sums of money for health care (and get less in return). The problem is some individuals and businesses are paying into the health care system, and some individuals and businesses aren't -- creating huge economic burdens for both government and the private sector. On the other hand, if everybody paid their fair share, those of us who are paying now (including individuals, government and business) would see their costs reduced.

Until we get real health care reform, state employees will continue to be harmed economically. We need to make sure we're talking to politicians and to each other about how important this issue is. Folks in Vancouver can start by attending the Healthy Washington Caucus on Sept. 23rd. And WFSE members everywhere can get involved in the Health Care for America Now! campaign. -- Dennis

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

In Case You're Interested

I frequently come across things I think would be of interest to our readers (both of you) and set them aside for when I get a chance to tell you about them. Today, I'm trying to get caught up. If all goes well, I might be able to clear off my desk before Christmas.

> New voters are registering at a record pace

According to the Seattle P-I, "New voters are registering in King County at a rate well above 10,000 a month, and elections officials expect the total number on the rolls to reach a record high in time for the Nov. 4 election." The News Tribune reports the same thing is happening in Pierce County.

> AG McKenna bails on consumers so he can better protect realtors

The Seattle Weekly lambasted Attorney General Rob McKenna for flip-flopping on a bill to protect consumers from "nefarious foreclosure-rescue schemes." Although McKenna sent out a press release bragging the new law addresses "critical threats to consumers from the purveyors of modern frauds," he then recanted that support when faced with complaints from realtors. John Ladenburg, the WFSE-endorsed candidate for Attorney General, responded by saying McKenna "is more interested in currying favor with special interests during an election year than standing up for Washington consumers."

Note: Ladenburg came out of the primary swinging, issuing a press release providing reporters with the "Top 10 Questions for Attorney General Rob McKenna."

> Republicans think they can make gains in state Legislature

PolitickerWA.com reports that Republicans think they can reduce the large Democratic majority in the state House "by at least two seats in 2008." In addition, Senate Republican Leader Mike Hewitt is hoping to gain "two or three seats."

That's all I have time to post today, but don't worry dear reader(s). There's more where that came from! -- Dennis

The Perils Of Contracting Out

It seems like every time I pick up a newspaper any more, there's some national scandal about government contracting and procurement policies. It's so bad at the federal level that we now have more private contractors running around in Iraq than U.S. soldiers. The result is huge profits for private companies at taxpayer expense. So much for improving government efficiency! Not only that, but widespread government contracting invariably leads to corruption in our procurement and regulatory processes.

Yet, in spite of decades worth of evidence about waste and corruption, Dino Rossi continues to be a huge supporter of contracting out. He genuinely believes that turning over the functions of government to for-profit businesses is a good idea. The proof is here:

Washington state has been relatively free of the kinds of scandals that are plaguing the federal government. But all that will be at risk if Rossi is allowed to dramatically increase the level of government services that are contracted out to the private sector. -- Dennis

Just say no! BIAW + Eyman = I-985

Last month, the Washington State Labor Council voted to oppose I-985, Tim Eyman’s latest brain baby. WFSE’s executive board will take up the issue later this month.

So what is I-985? The ballot title leads you to believe that I-985 will actually reduce traffic congestion, open carpool lanes, synchronize traffic lights, and increase roadside assistance. Sounds like a good idea, right? But after reading the fine print, you can boil I-985 down to being BAD for the state budget, BAD for already bad traffic, and BAD for local communities. That’s a lot of bad... all wrapped up nice & pretty with a deceitful ballot title on top.

I-985 is Bad for the State Budget:
A slowing economy has already put strains on the state budget. I-985 would make a bad situation worse, by raiding over $600 million of general fund revenues over the next five years! The general fund is already stretched thin, with cutbacks or tax increases looming. I-985 takes money from the general fund for a "congestion" slush fund. Nobody knows where that money will go! I-985 also makes it harder to pay for key road improvements by rendering road tolling completely inflexible. If it passes, paying for SR-520 and I-405 will be even harder, and would probably be impossible without new taxes. Additionally, I-985's supporters claim that it will pay for congestion relief by shifting state money away from highway art projects. They're wrong; absolutely no state highway money currently pays for art! There's simply no money to shift.

I-985 Makes Traffic Worse: I-985 contradicts the state congestion audit!
Watchful drivers, transit riders, and traffic experts agree that I-985 would make Washington's traffic even worse than it is today. I-985's supporters say that it implements the recommendations of the State Auditor's recent congestion report. They're wrong. I-985 completely ignores most of the audit's recommendations, and directly contradicts the audit's suggestions on HOV lanes and transit. Passage of I-985 would make key highway chokepoints worse. I-985 will gum up traffic on I-5, SR-520, and I-405, by turning bus/carpool lanes into general purpose lanes for 18 hours a day. I-985 will create even more congestion than we have today. (Imagine even longer backups on westbound SR-520!) I-985 would cripples carpools, vanpools, and buses. During rush hour, carpool lanes are the most efficient part of the road network: they carry more passengers (and sometimes more vehicles) each hour than general purpose lanes! I-985 restricts carpool lanes to just three hours each morning and afternoon, which will cripple their usefulness in fighting congestion. Slower and less reliable buses will encourage current transit riders to switch back to their cars, only adding to the traffic problem.

I-985 sets terrible transportation polices. It goes against common sense and the best judgment of transportation experts. It redefines rush hour to exclude times when traffic is still heavy. It tries to open left-hand off-ramps to general traffic, creating crash risks. It outlaws HOV operations on weekends and off-hours-good luck with Husky, Mariners and Seahawks games! And it could require millions of additional spending for ramp metering for existing HOV lanes that would become general purpose lanes in "off-peak" hours.

I-985 Hurts Local Communities:
Local communities have the expertise to set their own transportation priorities, based on local needs. But I-985 forces a misguided, one-size-fits-all policy on the entire state. Local communities will lose autonomy and choice. Worse, I-985 shifts local transportation funding to a nebulous "congestion relief" fund that won't help local traffic. The result: local communities spend more, and get less for their money.

I-985 limits local choices and solutions, and forces the entire state to abide by a single set of rules-even if those rules don't make sense in a local area. It limits carpool lanes all around Puget Sound to certain times of the day, even if those times don't match with local rush hours. It outlaws local bus-only lanes, even in cities where buses ease congestion. It forces spending on light synchronization-even if there are other higher local priorities, such as clearing snow or ice, that are better buys for congestion relief. And it restricts funding for some good
congestion relief ideas, such as transit and vanpools.

I-985 raids money from state transportation projects. I-985 would take a half a percent of the money that the state provides for local transportation projects, and siphon it into a new government fund that local residents will have no control over. Local taxpayers will have to make up the difference.

So please join me, brothers & sisters, by just saying NO to Tim Eyman, NO to BIAW, and NO to I-985. --Alia

Monday, September 15, 2008

Rossi Surrogates Cross the Line

The Republican Governors Association recently spent $1 million on a TV ad in support of Dino Rossi's candidacy. "Called 'Casino Chris,'" the Stranger reports, "the ad shows a group of white guys in suits negotiating over a table with two long-haired men (of dubious native heritage) in bolo ties and... pigtails. In the ad, Gregoire’s representatives negotiate the tribes’ contributions to the state down to nothing—the implication being that Gregoire gave the 'Indian tribes,' as the ad refers to them, a sweetheart deal in exchange for campaign contributions."

Setting aside the racial overtones (if possible), the ads distort the facts so badly that two major daily newspapers have written editorials blasting the Rossi camp for participating in such a sleazy advertising campaign.

The Seattle P-I Editorial Board writes, "[The ad is] almost fact free, and especially in all the relevant detail they ignore to gleefully bash the governor... [W]e don't in any way like the feel of a campaign being waged so heavily on fears of people we thought were less marginalized than in the state's past."

The News Tribune Editorial Board writes, "[T]his business about whether the state was right to forgo revenue sharing is a dead-end argument. No one can legitimately say that he or she opposes the expansion of gambling while on the other hand supporting an arrangement for government to get a cut of the misery."

If disseminating racially-tinged lies wasn't enough, now it's being reported that "the RGA has taken in over a million and a half dollars from national casino interests and [Democrats] suggest they are using Las Vegas casino money to 'distort' the record of Gov. Gregoire."

Now the Democratic Party has released the following video in response:

Keep your seatbelt fastened. It's going to be a pretty rough ride over the next seven weeks. -- Dennis

Gregoire Yard Signs Available

A fresh supply of Gregoire for Governor yard signs have been shipped out to campaign field offices. Feel free to stop by and pick up a sign. Don't forget to sign up to volunteer while you're at it. In addition to the warm glow that comes from taking action in support of your own economic self interest, volunteers receive cool prizes, too. -- Dennis

First Gubernatorial Debate This Saturday

The first debate between Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi will be this Saturday at 9:00 pm. Check your local TV listings. The debate is sponsored by KOMO News, the League of Women Voters, and the Seattle P-I. We are not aware of any tickets being released to the public, but we'll let you know if we hear of anything. -- Dennis

Gregoire Event Featuring James Carville Sept. 22nd

James Carville, the "Ragin' Cajun," is coming to Seattle to headline a fundraiser in support of Gov. Gregoire. This is your chance to come and hear the popular author and pundit in person, and kick in a few bucks in support of the Governor at the same time.

The general reception with Carville will be at 4:30 pm, at the Century Ballroom, 915 E. Pine St., in Seattle. A personal contribution of $50 is required. If you haven't heard Carville speak before, this is your chance. You'll have a great time, and we'll throw in a free "WFSE for Gregoire" t-shirt if you attend.

To RSVP call Morgan at (206) 903-0520 or e-mail him at mcampbell@chrisgregorie.com. And be sure to let us know if you're going to be there so we can get your shirt to you. I hope to see you there. -- Dennis

Peter Goldmark Fundraiser In Tacoma Sept 26th

A fundraiser in support of Peter Goldmark, the WFSE-endorsed candidate for Commissioner of Public Lands, will be held at the IBEW Hall in Tacoma, 3049 S. 36th St., from 5:30 to 7:30 pm.

The event is hosted by Pierce Co. Executive John Ladenburg (also the WFSE-endorsed candidate for Attorney General), Pierce Co. Councilmember Calvin Goings, and several local Democratic organizations. The suggested donation is $50, but any amount will be appreciated.

RSVPs are requested to pcdems@harbornet.com or (253) 473-6812.

Healthy WA Coalition In Vancouver Sept. 23rd

The Healthy Washington Coalition will be in Vancouver on Sept. 23rd as part of its continuing series of Health Care Caucuses across the state, and the public is invited. The caucus will be held at the Clark PUD Community Room, 1200 Fort Vancouver Way, from 6:30 to 8:30 pm. WFSE members who attend will receive a free "WFSE for Gregoire" t-shirt.

According to the Coalition, the caucus will provide participants with the opportunity to:

"Lend your voice to the effort to achieve quality, affordable health care for all Washingtonians.

Learn what steps we have taken and what the next steps will be.

You're invited to participate and help shape the principles and values we want in Washington's health care system.

Be part of the community that is committed to changing the health care system in Washington state."

WFSE believes strongly that the economic security of our members is greatly threatened by our screwed-up health care system, and that wholesale reform is needed. That's why we're proud members of the Healthy Washington Coalition.

To sign up, call April at 1-800-562-6002 or send us an email. Don't forget to give us your shirt size. -- Dennis

Friday, September 12, 2008

Voter Registration Making Great Progress

The WFSE Voter Registration Drive is up and running and gaining momentum. This week we have more than 50 completed forms to turn into the Secretary of State's office.

Our member volunteers are having a great time walking and driving through neighborhoods in Pierce and Thurston Counties meeting fellow members and their families at their doors and making sure that they are registered to vote in this extremely important election in November.

There is nothing like being greeted by a fellow WFSE member who tells you that they have been meaning to register for some time but have just been too busy to make it happen. Their eyes brighten when I tell them that I can take care of it right then and there and make sure the completed form gets turned in to the proper place in a timely manner.

The other day I visited a home way off the beaten path in Lacey, WA. I pulled into a mobile home community and parked in front of the home that, according to my list, was occupied by a retired couple who had been State Workers and appeared to be not registered to vote.

I was greeted at the door by a young woman who informed me that her grandmother had passed away and her grandfather now lived somewhere else. I gave her a form to pass on to her grandfather and then asked if she was registered to vote. She told me she had turned 18 recently and had not registered. I told her I could sign her up right then and she would be able to participate in the election for President and Governor.
She agreed and I filled out the form for her and had her sign and date it.

It was an honor for me help her get involved in electoral politics at the entry level at such a young age. Many of the folks I am registering are in their middle decades of life, 30s and 40s and have already missed participating in many elections. To register a young person so they can take part in the first general election for which they are legally eligible is a real joy. We parted with smiles on both our faces and I paused to reflect on how infectious the energy is around voter registration.

When a member greets me at the door and realizes I am not trying to sell them something but am instead there to help them with something they have been meaning to take care of, they are really glad to see me. That good feeling feeds my energy and I am very nearly skipping down the block to the next member's home.

There are still lots of members we have identified as not currently on the voter rolls that need to be registered by October 4th, a mere Three Weeks From Now, if they are to be able to vote this year. We have identified around 1500 members in Thurston County alone.

In Thurston County we are going out to neighborhoods on Tuesdays and Thursdays after work and on Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. If folks do not feel comfortable going door-to-door we also need volunteers to call members who we left Voter Registration forms with to make sure they got them filled out and in the mail.

We can use all the help we can get from members who are willing to put in a few hours helping make sure every WFSE member who wants to participate in the Election in November is able to do so. Come on out with us and get in on that infectious energy that is building around our Voter Registration Drive.

Please contact me, Brett Clubbe at 360-352-7603, ext. 601 or on my cel phone 360-528-0103 or by email at legtemp@wfse.org to get involved.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Just thought that it ought to be said...

Attending the various functions that my members give me the privilege of attending, I get opportunity to hear a lot of feedback from WFSE members and members of the public who just don't think that their union, or unions in general are a good thing. I get to hear a lot of stereotypes about "union thugs" etc. that I know to be just that. I have given up on trying to argue with folks. I used to feel obligated to tell my experience with the union has not fit the stereotypical image they portray people like me as. Any more...not so much. For every balance there must be a check. The Buddhist in me reminds me to be thankful for their point of view because it adds perspective to understanding. It's easy to lose the forest through the trees.

That said, I want to take a moment to celebrate and be thankful for our union brothers and sisters who gave all they had to give 7 years ago today. Many of the first responders in the world trade center were our of own AFSCME family. Many others were members of other unions and all were brothers and sisters of our nation and culture.

Those folks who ran up the stairs when everyone else was running down didn't do it for the money or the glory, or under duress that could come with not doing their duty. They did it because that is what they do. Just like the CPS worker who endures being screamed at, or the CCO who gets an offender into treatment instead of locking him up but gets spit on for his or her efforts or the Mental Hospital worker who returns to work after being assaulted or the office assistant who patiently listens to a upset consumer of state services or the shop steward who gets yelled at by an angry member, but who tries to help them with their problem any way. That is what those rare folks who commit themselves to public service do.

You folks know you aren't going to get rich, and sometimes you get kind of jaded and salty, maybe sometimes even (dare I say it?)cranky. Don't think that I don't notice that twinkle you still get in your eye when you realize that 95 out of 100 people could or would not do what you just accomplished for the citizens of the state or your membership.

There are a lot of people out there that just spit when you mention state employees, or the union that represents them. Blessings to them, they can do that.

For you who continue to serve the public and you who protect and represent those who do the republic's work, my hat is off to you and I thank you for the opportunity to work for you.

For those who give their all for the rest of us, rest assured that here in the land of the union we remember and honor you and your families.

With reverence and respect,

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Gregoire Campaign Reacts To Primary Election Returns

With all of the primary election ballots counted, and counties certifying their returns, candidates everywhere are working diligently to figure out what the results really mean. Kelly Evans, campaign manager for Gregoire for Governor, recently sent us an e-mail offering her take on the outcome.

"Now that nearly all the Primary Election ballots have been counted, we can look clearly at the prospects for the Governor’s race. Here’s what we know from the Primary results:

* After enduring almost three months of negative television and radio ads, billboards accusing Seattle of trying to “steal” the election, misleading and possibly illegal mailers from the State Republican Party and incredible attempts by our opponent to tie himself to the Democratic Presidential nominee, Gregoire withstood it all and won the Primary Election by two points!

* Governor Gregoire won the three most populous counties in Washington – King, Pierce and Snohomish. This is an improvement for the Governor, who lost both Pierce and Snohomish in November of ’04.

* Governor Gregoire outpolled Rossi in the Primary even though, as predicted, voters in Rossi counties turned out in much greater numbers than Gregoire counties. Rossi’s counties turned out around 3% higher than the state average, whereas Gregoire counties turned out around 6% lower than the state average.

* Governor Gregoire won King County by 26 percent! Winning 60% of the vote in a county that will make up 30% of the total vote in November, the Governor’s performance in King County bodes well for her in November.

When we look further inside the numbers, there’s even more encouraging news:

* More on King County: Gregoire received only 41% in the 2004 primary, meaning she improved her performance in King County by a whopping 19% percent. This is a clear sign she has effectively consolidated her base.

* And a final note on King County, turnout in King County only reached 35% while statewide turnout is 43%. King County, where the Governor got 60% of the vote, had turnout 8 percentage points less than the rest of the state... Rest assured, King County turnout will top 80% in November, a bad sign for Mr. Rossi.

* Pierce County: Gregoire lost Pierce County by four points in 2004, but won in the August Primary even though Pierce County turnout was 3% less than the statewide average.

* Snohomish County: Gregoire lost Snohomish County by two points in 2004, but won the August Primary by two points, an improvement of 4 points!

* Gregoire also added Kitsap and Island Counties to the list of converts!

* Governor Gregoire was competitive in Clark and Spokane Counties, winning on Election Night but narrowly losing after the negative onslaught from Rossi and his pals at the Building Industry Association of Washington. We are confident that we will remain competitive in both of those counties and that the voters will see through Rossi’s negative campaign.

* The Governor won in August despite Rossi’s built in advantages and the depression of the primary vote in Gregoire counties. The Governor ran -6% behind Rossi in the counties where turnout was above the statewide average, whereas in the counties with below average turnout she clobbered him by +15%.

* While it is true that the later absentee ballots favored Rossi by a greater margin than the earlier absentees, it must be noted that Rossi and his allies spent over $1 million in the last week before the primary election in a desperate attempt to prop up his campaign. In the end, they improved his performance, but Gregoire still beat Rossi by two percentage points.

* We are confident the turnout numbers will rebound in November in Gregoire counties, most especially in the metro Puget Sound counties. This means the Governor’s share of the statewide vote will grow in November as her counties catch up with Rossi’s counties in turnout, putting her in an excellent position to win.

A final note about Rossi’s incredulous attempt to both distance himself from John McCain and tie himself to Barack Obama. First of all, the voters of Washington aren’t stupid, they won’t buy into some hollow “change” argument. This election is about the KIND of change the candidates will bring. Second, Rossi likes to tell people about all these “Obama/Rossi” voters. I’m sure some exist. But we’ve spent all summer identifying voters’ preferences in both the Presidential race and the Governor’s race. And we found that indeed, about 3% of the Obama voters also identify as Rossi voters. But here’s another interesting stat: 8% of McCain voters identify as Gregoire voters. Moreover, independent polls verify that Gregoire gains 11% of self-identified Republican voters. Guess the independent Washington spirit works both ways."

TVW To Air In-Depth Interviews With State Candidates

We recently received the following press release from TVW:

Olympia - TVW's trademark weekly interview program Inside Olympia kicks off a new fall season tonight by unveiling a new set, new graphics, and a new full-time host.

To begin the new season, over the next nine weeks, Austin Jenkins, Capitol correspondent for Public Radio Northwest News Network, will offer Washington voters in-depth visits with the top two candidates for each of the state's nine statewide elected offices, from Insurance Commissioner to Governor.

Each fall episode will consist of separate half-hour interviews with each candidate, with the exception of hour-long interviews with gubernatorial candidates Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi.

Following is a full schedule for the fall Inside Olympia season:

Sept. 4: Insurance Commissioner candidates Mike Kreidler and John Adams
Sept. 11: Lieutenant Governor candidates Brad Owen and Marcia McCraw
Sept. 18: State Auditor candidates Brian Sonntag and Dick McEntee
Sept. 25: Secretary of State candidates Sam Reed and Jason Osgood
Oct. 2: Commissioner of Public Lands candidates Doug Sutherland and Peter Goldmark
Oct 9: State Treasurer candidates Allan Martin and Jim McIntire
Oct 16: Superintendent of Public Instruction candidates Terry Bergeson and Randy Dorn
Oct 23: Attorney General candidates Rob McKenna and John Ladenburg
Oct 30: Governor candidates Chris Gregoire and Dino Rossi

Inside Olympia airs Thursdays at 7pm & 11pm; Saturdays at 10pm; and Sundays at 10am & 7pm. You can also watch all of TVW's on-air programming on demand at tvw.org.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Dino Rossi Speaks Out Against State Employees (Yet Again)

Dino Rossi appeared on the Dori Monson show on KIRO radio yesterday, and Monson asked him about state employees (you can listen to the interview here). Here is the transcript:

MONSON: "Would you give state employees a pay raise if you are the governor of this state?"

ROSSI: "Well right now, I don't know how you can afford it. We're $2.7 billion in the hole, so she's giving them a raise with what money? With what money? And the problem is right now the way it works, and this has happened since a bill that passed in 2002, which allows the governor to negotiate basically in a back room with the state employees before legislative session even starts. Before it even starts. Normally, it used to be done during the legislative session, and you would work it out with all the pieces of the budget...

"I have a problem with the entire (collective bargaining) process the way it works. In fact, people she's negotiating right now with are putting hundreds of thousands of dollars, at the very same time they're negotiating salary increases, into that Don't Know Dino campaign. And I don't think this kind of thing is even legal in New Jersey." (9/3/08)

I'm sure Rossi's polls are telling him that taking the position that state employees shouldn't get pay raises, and shouldn't have collective bargaining rights, is real popular. We're used to be kicked around by politicians who put the long-term interests of the state on the back-burner in order to score short-term political points. But the corruption argument Rossi keeps making is down-right irresponsible and mean-spirited.

Every school district, every city, every county, and 26 other states, collectively bargain with their employees. In every instance, those jurisdictions are governed by elected officials who may or may not have had the support of their employees. Local jurisdictions have had collective bargaining rights for decades. Does Rossi think the Issaquah School District is corrupt? Further, as Rossi knows, the Legislature will decide whether or not they're going to fund the collective bargaining agreement. Implying there is corruption is perpetuating a lie.

My question to WFSE members is simple. Are you going to let him get away with this, or are you going to stand up for your rights? -- Dennis

PS: Majority Leader Lisa Brown and Speaker Frank Chopp took a strong stand in support of collective bargaining in a guest editorial that appeared in yesterday's Seattle P-I. We appreciate their willingness to say and do the right thing, even if it's not the most politically popular thing. It's easy to pander. It's hard to lead.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Supreme Court To Hear I-960 Arguments

While campaigns and elections dominate the news and our attention, a critically important legal case is coming up in the state Supreme Court. On Sept. 9th, the court will hear the case brought by Sen. Lisa Brown challenging the constitutionality of I-960's requirement that a 2/3 vote of the Legislature be required to raise taxes.

I-960, adopted by the voters last fall, was the latest tomfoolery from professional demagogue Tim Eyman. It's genesis was I-601, adopted by the voters 15 years ago, which also included a super majority requirement of the Legislature to raise taxes. I-601 was challenged in court, but the court sidestepped the big issue -- can a super majority requirement be imposed on the Legislature by initiative, or does that require a constitutional amendment.

Richard Roesler of the Spokesman Review recently wrote an excellent piece that provides the background, as well as the crux of the legal argument, about this latest court case. Roesler does a better job of explaining the relevant issues than I could, so I'm not going to rehash it here. Instead, I'll just encourage you to read his article.

The thing I learned over the past year was that just because you take a case to the Supreme Court, doesn't mean you get an answer to your question. In any given case it hears, the court is rather adept at issuing a ruling based on a technicality or secondary issue without tackling the big, fundamental (and controversial) questions. It appears (from my uneducated perspective) that Sen. Brown's case was cleverly crafted, leaving the court with little alternative but to answer the fundamental question: is imposing a super majority requirement on the Legislature by initiative constitutional?

Of course, if the court rules I-960 is unconstitutional, Tim Eyman might have to get a real job and, what with the struggling economy and all, there isn't a real big demand for professional liars right now. -- Dennis

More Than 100,000 Washington Residents Have Not Claimed Federal Economic Stimulus Payment

Although it's a little bit outside of the scope of our blog, our friends at the Washington Tax Fairness Coalition have asked us to spread the word on this important issue. We're happy to help, and we hope you'll pitch in by passing this information along as well.

100,000+ Low Income Washingtonians Have Not Claimed Federal Stimulus Checks -- There is Still Time … Help Spread the Word!

The Center on Budget & Policy Priorities reports that there are 116,099 low-income seniors, disabled veterans and others with disabilities in Washington State alone who are at risk of losing out on their federal economic stimulus payments.

The payments are worth at least $300 per person/$600 for a married couple – more for some filers raising children or grandchildren under 17.

That’s more than $34 million in unclaimed payments that should be in the hands of low-income Washington residents.

As prices for food and gas (and everything else) continue to rise, these stimulus checks can make a huge difference for those low-income individuals and families.

Eligible people still have until October 15th to file for their payments.

Help us get the word out to those in Washington State who could really use the extra money.

Seattle, Spokane, Tacoma and Vancouver all rank in the top 100 cities nationwide with unclaimed payments.

Who is eligible?

· Individuals with income from work, earnings from Social Security benefits, Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), Veterans’ disability benefits or Railroad Retirement benefits – or ANY combination of pay for work and/or earnings from any of these benefits worth a total of at least $3,000 in 2007.

· Individuals must have a valid Social Security number (spouse too if filing a joint return).

· Individuals cannot be claimed as a dependent on another’s tax return.

Eligible people MUST file a 2007 federal tax return (Form 1040A) for 2007 to get their economic stimulus payment – even if they don’t normally file a tax return!

Why is outreach needed?

· This is a group that has too little income – or nontaxable benefits – to be required to file an income tax return. Many probably have not done so for years, since they retired or became disabled.

· They may not realize that they MUST file a return to get the payment.

· They may mistakenly fear that receiving the economic stimulus payment might endanger their eligibility for retirement, disability or other public benefits like Medicaid, SSI and Food Stamps.

Please reach out to your members and constituents and urge them to spread the word: it will be shame if low-income seniors and people with disabilities miss this opportunity!

For questions or information contact Ben Secord, WTFC Organizer at (206) 621-8213 or send Ben an e-mail. Thanks for your support.

-- Dennis