Saturday, August 30, 2008

Washington Policy Center proposes Tax Transparency Website

Olympia – Washington Policy Center recently released a policy recommendation to create an online searchable database of all tax rates in the state. The recommendation calls for a “Taxation Disclosure Act,” to help citizens and businesses learn about how much officials in each taxing district add to a citizen’s total tax burden. A typical home, for example, can be located in as many as ten different taxing districts.

Have you ever wondered what your total state and local tax bill is but struggled to calculate government’s take of your income? So have we,” said Jason Mercier, Government Reform director at the Washington Policy Center and author of the proposal. “This is why we think it is time to create an online searchable database of all tax rates for each taxing district to help citizens and business-owners answer this question.”

If adopted by state officials, the proposal would set up an online database where users could find their state and local tax rates (such as property and sales taxes) by entering their zip code, street address, or by clicking on a map showing individual taxing district boundaries. An online calculator would let citizens determine their total tax burden and which officials are responsible for which parts of it.

“The ‘Taxation Disclosure Act’ is similar to this year’s successful adoption by the legislature (SB 6818) of Washington Policy Center’s recommendation to create a searchable state budget website,” said Mercier. “We are hopeful that policymakers will see this as an opportunity to make taxation more transparent and help citizens learn more about what government decisions mean to their pocket books.”

Additional Information:
Taxation Disclosure Act
Governor signs Washington Policy Center proposal for searchable budget website

Friday, August 29, 2008

Washington State Republican Party Public Disclosure Commission Stipulation

Enclosed, is the proposed stipulation of facts, violations and penalties for Case #09-001 for the Washington State Republican Party.

Phil Stutzman, PDC Director of Compliance, recommended that the Commission accept the proposed stipulation.



Stipulation as to facts violations and penalty
In the Matter of Enforcement Action Case No. 09-00 1
Against Washington State Republican Party

The parties hereto, the Public Disclosure Commission Staff, by and through its Executive Director, VICKI RIPPlE, and the Respondent, WASHINGTON STATE REPUBLICAN PARTY, represented by John J. White, Jr., Attorney for the Washington State Republican Party, submit this Stipulation as to Facts, Violation and Penalty in this matter.


1. The Public Disclosure Commission has jurisdiction over this proceeding pursuant to Chapter 42.17 RCW; the Public Disclosure Act; Chapter 34.05 RCW, the Administrative Procedure Act; and Title 390 WAC.


2. This matter resulted from a PDC staff generated complaint following a citizen inquiry concerning expenditures made by the Washington State Republican Party (WSRP) during 2006 from the party’s non-exempt account. The citizen noted that the WSRP had reported several expenditures as in-kind contributions to 13 legislative candidates, that the contributions were made within 21 days of the 2006 general election, and that the candidates had not reported receiving the contributions from the WSRP.
3. On June 16, 2008, PDC staff received a further inquiry noting that the WSRP had reported two in-kind contributions to the 2004 Dino Rossi for Governor Campaign, that the contributions were made within 21 days of the 2004 general election, and that the contributions were not reported by the Rossi Campaign.

4. RCW 42.17.105(3) requires committees, during the seven days before a primary election and the 21 days before a general election, to prepare and deliver to the commission a special report regarding any contribution or aggregate of contributions which is $1,000 or more, and is from a single person or entity. The special report must be delivered to the Commission and to the candidate or political committee to whom the contribution or contributions are made, within 24 hours of the time, or on the first working day after: The contribution is made; the aggregate of contributions made first equals $1,000 or more; or the subsequent contribution that must be reported is made.


5. The Washington State Republican Party is a bona fide political party, and operates as the statewide Republican party in Washington State. Th WSRP is located in Bellevue, Washington and operates both a “non-exempt” account, subject to contribution limits, that is used for contributions to candidates, and an “Exempt” account, not subject to contribution limits, that is used for specific pwposes allowed by law, Luke Esser is the Chair of the WSR.P and Jeremy Deutsch is the Executive Director. Neither served in their respectivecapacities in 2004 or 2006.

2004 Activities
The 2004 general election was held November 2, 2004. The special reporting period for contributions of $1,000 or more in the aggregate made within 21 days of the general election began October 12, 2004.

7. On October 12, 2004, within 21 days of the 2004 general election, the WSRP provided in-kind contributions totaling $92,522.80 in support of Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate for Governor. On a C-4 and Schedule A report filed on October 25, 2004, the WSRP reported making. two expenditures of $46,261 .40, totaling $92,522.80, to James Foster and Associates, Inc. The purpose of the expenditures was to pay for a mailing in support of R.ossi, as an in- kind contribution to the Rossi Campaign.

8. On October 12, 2004, the WSRP timely filed two special Last Minute Contribution reports disclosing the two in-kind contributions. Each report listed an in-kind contribution to the 2004 Rossi Campaign in the amount of $46,261.40, for a total of $92,522.80.

9. The WSRP did not deliver a copy of the special reports to the Rossi campaign, notifying the campaign of the in-kind contributions. The special reports were required to be delivered to the Rossi campaign within 24 hours of making the in-kind contributions, or by October 13, 2004.

2006 Activities
10. The 2006 general election was held November 7, 2006. The special reporting period for contributions of $1,000 or more in the aggregate made within 21 days of the general election began October 17, 2006.
11. Within 21 days of the 2006 general election, the WSRP provided in-kind contributions totaling $211,574.74 in support of the following 13 legislative candidates:

a. Bob Lawrence - $27,937.48
b. Charles Ross - $4,428.87
c. Donna Watts - $1,420.00
d. Jan Shabro - $20,803.47
e. Jeffrey Possinger - $2,406.20
f. Jim Dunn-$24,992.68
g. KimHalvorson-$1,738.12
h Luke Esser - $20,829.36
i. Mike Riley - $38,202.10
j. Pam Roach-$28,209.60
k. Randy Neatherlin - $7,662.01
1. RonBoehme-$11,317.49
m. TobyNixon-$21,627.36

12. The expenditures for the in-kind contributions were timely reported on the 7-day pre-general election C-4 report filed October 31, 2006, and on the post-general election C-4 report filed December 7, 2006.

13. The WSRP timely filed special Last Minute Contribution reports disclosing the in-kind contributions to the 13 candidates.

14. The WSRP did not deliver a copy of the special reports to the 13 legislative candidates, notifying the campaigns of the in-kind contributions. The special reports were required to be delivered to the campaigns within 24 hours of making the in-kind contributions.

15. The WSRP has undertaken changes in procedures for processing in-kind contributions so that candidates receive written notice of in-kind contributions, including special notices for last minute contributions.


The parties hereto stipulate that the Washington State Republican Party violated RCW 42.17 as follows:

2004 Activities
a. By not delivering to one statewide office candidate, within 24 hours of making two in-kind contributions totaling $92,522.80, two special reports notifying the candidate of the contributions, made within 21 days of the 2004 general election.

2006 Activities
a. By not delivering to 13 legislative candidates, within 24 hours of making in-kind contributions totaling $211,574.74, special reports notifying the candidates of the contributions, made within 21 days of the 2006 general election.

1. Based upon the stipulated facts and the agreement regarding violations set forth above, the Respondent agrees that a total civil penalty of $15,000 be assessed.

2. The Respondent agrees that the penalty shall be paid within 60 days from the date of entry of the Commission’s Final Order in this matter.

Signed by Vicki Rippie on 8/21/2008
Signed by Jeremy Deutsch, Executive Director, WSRP

The stipulation is 37 pages long. You can find a complete copy here:

McCain Chooses Sarah Palin for VP nominee

Wall Street Journal: Sen. John McCain picked first-term Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate Friday, adding a little-known but reform-minded woman to his ticket. At a rally in Dayton, Ohio, he said she has "strong principles, a fighting spirit and deep compassion," and praised her record of fighting corruption.

"She's exactly what this country needs to help me fight …the same old Washington politics of me first and country second," he told the raucus crowd.


I don't necessarily agree with the WSJ that Palin's nomination will result in McCain picking up former Hilary Clinton supporters.

Nevertheless, I'm very excited that America (specifically the GOP) has an opportunity to move away from the "me first" and the "country second" form of politics that has plagued this nation for decades.

As Governor of Alaska, Palin challenged big oil and passed a landmark Ethics reform bill.

America needs politicians who are not afraid to shake up the status quo and will not back down to the traditional "good old boy" power brokers who use money and intimidation to influence public policy decisions.

Michelle Malkin on Palin, "She knows when to stand up and doesn't let anyone tell her to sit down."

Palin has been a source of hope and inspiration for Alaskans during an FBI investigation that has rocked the state to it's knees.

Who is Sarah Palin? Bill Dupray of The Patriot Room tells us, "Palin’s husband, Todd, works on the North Slope and is a commercial fisherman. She also has five children: Bristol, Piper, Track, Willow and a newborn baby. They live in Wasilla, about 40 miles north of Anchorage."

"Shortly after becoming governor, Palin canceled an eleven-mile gravel road outside of Juneau to a mine, reversing a decision made in the closing days or hours of the prior Administration."

Palin’s first veto was used on legislation that would have barred the state from granting benefits to gay state employees and their partners. In effect, her veto granted State benefits to same-sex couples. The veto occurred after Palin consulted with her attorney general on the constitutionality of the legislation.

I'm pleased that Sen. McCain had the courage to nominate Palin for V.P..

She's a conservative, but has a reputation for being able to negotiate bipartisan agreements. A rare talent in a nation that is becoming more politically polarized with each passing year.

I know that I will disagree with Palin on a variety of issues, but, with that said, she's a breath of fresh air in the "boys only" world of American Presidential politics.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

Republican Party to pay $15,000 fine?

David Postman announced on the 25th that the Republican Party has agreed to pay a $15,000 fine to the Public Disclosure Commission for not informing candidates that it had done work on their behalf in 2004 and 2006.

According to Postman, there are thirteen Republican candidates that received in-kind contributions they didn't know about.
The GOP complaint is scheduled to be heard by the Public Disclosure Commission at today's regularly scheduled meeting.
A similar investigation is under way at the PDC for the Realtors Quality of Life PAC.

The Realtors are under investigation for allegedly not informing a number of candidates in the state of Washington that it provided in-kind contributions in the form of mailers and other support before the October 15, 2007 deadline. (The 21 day deadline that limits in-kind and other candidate contributions to $5,000 before an election).
A handful of candidates, including Sam Crawford and Dan Pike, did not report the in-kind contributions, after allegedly being told by the PDC that the contributions appeared to be independent expenditures rather than in-kind contributions.

In what appears to be an act of defiance, the Realtors, (after being contacted by the PDC and openly admitting to the PDC that the contributions in question were in-kind, NOT independent expenditures), mailed several thousand dollars of mailers to voters, knowing full well that the value of the mailers exceeded the 21 day $5,000 limit imposed by state law.
What a mess. Our public watch dogs, the Public Disclosure Commission appear to have committed two serious errors: 1) a PDC employee allegedly provided erroneous information to a handful of candidates, who, in turn, do not report in-kind contributions (even after they discover that the contributions are in fact in-kind contributions); and, 2) the PDC did nothing to stop the Realtors from sending out batches of mailers in violation of the state's 21 day $5,000 limit.
The result? Washington voters are denied vital information regarding the source and amount of campaign financial contributions to several candidates in Washington.
The Realtors complaint is tentatively scheduled to be heard by the PDC Commissioners on September 25, 2008.

The rub? Washington's Public Disclosure Law relies on the antiseptic qualities of “sunshine” and several prohibitions to assure citizens of Washington that governmental systems and individuals who operate within it are open and honest.

Unreported campaign contributions prevent voters from making informed decisions about the sources of a candidate's contributions and political support - before the election takes place.

In the past, the Public Disclosure Commission has determined that illegal campaign contributions can adversely affect the outcome of an election. A few years ago, a Port of Anacortes Commissioner resigned when he learned that a complaint was about to be filed in Superior Court to remove him from office.

Stay tuned, Latte Republic will provide an in depth report on both hearings, once the PDC has rendered it's decision.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Seattle Councilman Mclver paid Ethics fine with Taxpayer money

It's a conundrum of sorts: Seattle Councilman Mclver, who was recently fined $1,000 by the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission for an ethics violation, used city taxpayer dollars to pay his fine.

A Seattle City Attorney advised Mclver that he could use public funds to pay the fine after locating an ordinance that indemnifies employees who receive fines for misconduct.

Wayne Barnett, Executive Director for the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission, told Mclver that he believes that Mclver's use of public funds to pay the fine defeats the purpose of the fine and renders the Commission's ruling meaningless. He returned the check to Mclver in the mail.

Barnett told media that the Commission's ruling stated Mclver should pay the fine from his own personal funds. He intends to ask the King County Superior Court to enforce the order and make Mclver use personal funds to pay the $1,000 fine.

The Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission found that Mclver violated the city's ethics code when he awarded a no-bid contract to a company after vacationing in the Virgin Islands in a condominium owned by one of the owners of the company that received the contract.

One violation was for signing the $37,000 contract and the other violation was for expanding the contract to $42,000.

Barnett could not tell interviewers how many other employees may have used public funds to pay fines over the years.

What's happening in Campaign Violation Land?

Senator Dianne Wilkerson (MA):

"State Senator Dianne Wilkerson has agreed to pay a $10,000 fine as part of a settlement with the attorney general's office in which the Boston lawmaker admitted violating campaign finance laws for five years.

Senator Dianne Wilkerson, who is in the midst of a heated reelection fight, also relinquished a claim to almost $30,000 she said her campaign committee owed her for unreimbursed expenditures through 2007 and agreed to return $2,200 in unlawful contributions. The settlement, which involved the Office of Campaign and Political Finance, includes
measures to ensure that the senator and her campaign committee fully comply with campaign finance requirements in the future, according to a press release from the state attorney general."

Meijer Inc. Michigan:

State fines Meijer $190,000 for campaign act violation
Posted by
Gazette News Service May 14, 2008 10:30AM

WALKER -- "The secretary of state is fining Meijer Inc. a record $190,139
for violating Michigan's Campaign Finance Act and is forwarding the case to the state attorney general to determine whether there were any criminal missteps.

The secretary of state signed two "conciliation agreements" with Meijer after a three-month investigation.

Meijer is being penalized for spending more than $100,000 to influence the outcomes of a 2005 referendum and a 2007 recall vote in Acme Township, without reporting the expenditures as required by law. At the time, Meijer was trying to get a superstore approved near Traverse City."

Governor Bill Ritter of Colorado:

Gov. Bill Ritter’s campaign committee has taken out a $200,000 loan to repair violations of state campaign laws during his gubernatorial campaign in 2006 and 2007.

"Apparently, payments for direct campaign expenses were taken out of an account meant solely for Ritter’s inauguration. The discrepancy was discovered in February as the committee’s accountant began to prepare required federal forms.

After finding problems, a comprehensive review showed that up to $217,164 in campaign expenses were incorrectly paid out of the inaugural account to 28 vendors. The review also found that Greg Kolomitz, Ritter’s campaign manager, overpaid himself and his company $83,000 out of the inaugural account. Kolomitz repaid the money Monday."

Oregon Secretary of State Bill Bradbury:

Court upholds Bradbury campaign violation

"The Oregon Court of Appeals upheld a campaign finance violation Wednesday against Secretary of State Bill Bradbury's 2004 re-election campaign.

The court said a special assistant attorney general was correct in concluding that the campaign committee for the state's chief elections officer, a Democrat, improperly reported payments to its advertising agent.

The campaign hired Charlton Engel Marketing to purchase advertising time from broadcasters during the 2004 campaign. For every $100 billed to the campaign by Charlton Engel, $85 went to broadcasters to pay for advertising time and $15 remained with Charlton Engel as a commission. The committee's campaign finance reports, however, did not list the 15 percent commissions."
Posted by
Dave Hogan, The Oregonian April 16, 2008 16:29PM

State Senator Carole Migden:

"State Sen. Carole Migden has agreed to pay a record $350,000 in fines for 89 violations of state campaign finance laws that include using political funds for personal benefit and failing to disclose what her political committees purchased with credit cards, according to documents released Tuesday."

Kenny Evans, City Clerk Candidate in 2006

"For the first time in Torrance history, misdemeanor charges alleging campaign finance violations have been brought against three people involved in a city election.

One is Kenny Evans, a city clerk candidate in 2006 and a municipal water technician represented by AFSCME - the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

The two others were officers with his campaign as well as a committee that sought to recall then-Councilman Frank Scotto.

The treasurer and co-treasurer of both committees were David Gould and Michelle Moore Sanders. Gould was chief consultant of Los Angeles political consulting firm the David L. Gould Co., while Moore Sanders was an employee there.

The City Prosecutor's Office alleges the pair transferred about $1,900 from a group called Homeowners to Recall Frank Scotto to Kenny Evans' campaign committee.
That's a violation of the Municipal Code, which has a $1,000 cap on campaign contributions from a person or group."

Michigan State Senate Candidates get themselves into hotwater:

"...when Whitmer, Brater, Prusi, Schauer and the lot bumped up against donation limits they had to find some other way to pump their extra cash into the targeted races. The SDCC became a big giant washing machine. Insert money, detergent, rinse, repeat.

And make no mistake, that's exactly what they did. When you get right down to brass tacks, each of these campaigns laundered money through the SDCC into targeted state senate districts, effectively skirting campaign donation limits in violation of Michigan law.

Problem was, they got caught with their hands in the cookie jar. Each of the current state Senators accused of giving illegally demanded and received refunds from the Committee as soon as the press caught their scent. Their cases were formally closed in March by the Secretary of state. All of them... almost. Mark Schauer refuses to pursue a legal remedy and remains under investigation.

Which is fitting, since Schauer chaired the committee and made nearly half the total "contributions" personally. The
Battle Crek Enquirer reported in December:

The fund raked in $440,000 above the legal limit of $20,000 per person - which the Dems don't deny. Twelve senatorial candidate committees did, with Schauer's as the worst offender at $187,000...

For state races, this is a staggering chunk of change. The grievance is pretty cut and dried..."

Mark Schauer stands accused of twenty-two distinct campaign finance violations."

The voters might like to punish the scoundrels, if only they could distinguish one party's scoundrel from the other...

FEC Attorneys: McCain Committed No Campaign Violations | AHN | August 27, 2008

Excerpt from article by Kris Alingod - AHN News Writer

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - "Lawyers at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) issued a memo on Thursday saying Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) did not violate election laws when he accepted a bank loan and then opted out of the public financing system during the primary season.

The Democratic National Committee had filed a complaint with the FEC alleging McCain had received a loan because of his participation in the federal matching program."

FEC Attorneys: McCain Committed No Campaign Violations AHN August 27, 2008

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David Horsey and Enrique Cerna will speak at WCOG Awards Breakfast

David Horsey, Pulitzer Prize-winning political cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will be the keynote speaker at the annual James Madison/James Andersen Awards breakfast to be presented at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle from 7:00 to 9:00AM on Friday, September 19 by the Washington Coalition for Open Government. Enrique Cerna, Director of Production at KCTS-9, the Northwest's premier public television station will act as master of ceremonies for the event.

"We are delighted to have two such prestigious journalists headlining our event," stated Patience Rogge, chair of the Outreach Committee, which was responsible for arranging the program. "Mr. Horsey will do a chalk talk and has promised to offend all sides equally. We anticipate an amusing morning, and know that Mr. Cerna can be counted on to keep proceedings running smoothly."

Highlights of the program include the presentation of the James Madison Award to former state legislator and U.S. Congressmember Jolene Unsoeld by Alan Thompson, coalition emeritus board member, former state senator and Chief Clerk of the House; presentation of the James Andersen Award to retired publisher and founding member of WCOG Kris Passey by Frank Garred, winner of the 2007 Andersen Award; and recognition of nine Key Award winners, who will receive certificates and lapel pins from coalition president Toby Nixon for their work in advancing the cause of transparent and accessible government in Washington.

The James Madison/James Andersen Awards Breakfast is held annually to honor an individual or organization that has demonstrated extraordinary devotion to the principles of open government and the First Amendment in words and deeds, and to honor an individual or organization that has worked tirelessly to advance the work of the coalition. Past Madison honorees include retired state Supreme Court Justice James Andersen; Rowland Thompson, executive director of Allied Daily Newspapers of Washington; and Paul Wright, publisher of Prison Legal News. Journalism educator Frank Garred won the inaugural Andersen Award.

The event is open to the public, and reservations are available on-line at or by mail at 6351 Seaview Ave NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664.

The Trust for Public Lands works to protect America

I want to share with you some of the special places The Trust for Public Lands has protected in the Northwest and Rockies Region:

For more information on other TPL projects throughout the country, click here.

The Trust for Public Land's Guide to the Northwest & Rockies Region:

LINDBERGH LAKE—Missoula, Montana. The serenity of this pristine mountain lake captured the attention of Charles Lindbergh after his famous solo trans-Atlantic flight of 1927. Lindbergh Lake offers visitors awe-inspiring views of the Mission and Swan Mountain Ranges. It is also a popular destination for day hikes, camping, boating, and crosscountry skiing, and it provides one of the last remaining areas of sanctuary for the grizzly bear and other threatened species. TPL helped to add more than 2,500 acres around the lake to Flathead National Forest. DON’T MISS: The fishing!

OLYMPIC SCULPTURE PARK— Seattle, Washington. What was once a decaying brownfield, the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, is now a place that showcases world-class art, innovative park design, habitat restoration, and breath-taking views. TPL and the Seattle Art Museum worked together to create this extraordinary cultural landmark. This is a must-see spot in the Pacific Northwest! DON’T MISS: Alexander Calder’s Eagle and The Trust for Public Land’s Terrace.

OURAY ICE PARK— Ouray, Colorado. In the world’s first park devoted exclusively to the sport of ice climbing, water from a series of pipes cascades over nearly a mile of the vertical-walled gorge, transforming the landscape into climbable ice pillars, icicles, ice sheets, and cauliflower shaped ice bulges during winter. Two bridges cross the gorge at convenient points, and a trail runs alongside the cliffs, providing excellent views of the climbers. TPL worked partners to transfer the park to the City as part of its park system, ensuring that this international treasure is protected indefinitely. DON’T MISS: The Festival held every year in January, and the beautiful waterfalls in the summer.

TURTLEBACK MOUNTAIN—Orcas Island, Washington Turtleback Mountain is perhaps the San Juan Islands’ most distinctive geographic feature. Visible from throughout the archipelago, Turtleback had long been the single most significant and vulnerable property in the San Juan Islands. Three conservation organizations including TPL partnered to raise the $18.5 million needed to protect this island treasure. DON’T MISS: The Orca Whales from May through September.

DENALI NATIONAL PARK— Denali Park, Alaska. Home to North America’s highest peak, Mount McKinley, visitors of Denali National Park enjoy sightseeing, backpacking and mountaineering. The Kantishna mining district in the shadow of Mount McKinley provides important habitat for caribou, black and brown bear, red fox, salmon and other species. Planned development of the former mining claims would have threatened this habitat while creating an active transportation corridor through the heart of one of America’s wildest parks, so TPL acquired the property for the National Park Service. DON’T MISS: Mt. McKinley.

For more information other projects throughout the country, click here.

A special thanks to the Trust for Public Lands for the work they do on the behalf of recreationalists.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

How do Americans feel about crooked politicians?

Just for the fun of it, let's take a look at a handful of articles and posts across the nation recommending potential solutions for ending corruption in politics.

Brad Carver, a humor therapy consultant over at Ezine, tells readers, "Why do we sit idly by and let politicians run our country and our lives into the ground? Why do we sit and watch them sell off our country to foreign trade? Why do they do it? Don’t they care at all about the people who voted for them? The answer to that question is a resounding NO. They only care about themselves and nothing more. And the reason we sit and watch them do it is because we don’t know what to do, and they know it. They know that once they’re elected we will go on back to our lives and not keep up with what they’re doing in Washington, so they can get away with murder." Carver has some interesting observations on why people cast ballots for candidates.

He's a strong advocate for adopting a "voter exam" to ensure that voters got it together before they cast their ballots: Check out his article at

Tony Phyrillas is the city editor and political columnist for The Mercury, a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning daily newspaper in Pottstown, Pa. He recently posted the following warning to wayward politicians on his blogs: "Montgomery County District Attorney Risa Ferman has announced the formation of a public corruption unit within her office.The goal is to investigate allegations of malfeasance on the part of public officials.The unit will probe complaints from the public regarding elected officials or people in positions of trust who may have violated the public trust for their own financial benefit or simply for power." Original "DA creates corruption unit" article can be read here:

Utne reader has a different approach: "Say your elected official is exposed for corruption. What’s a community to do? Demand repeated tearful apologies? Procure a tough conviction, only to see it quietly reduced to a negligible fee once the cameras are off? Even challenging a crooked pol in an election can be surprisingly difficult."

Simon Graves, a Miami pastor, has a more original idea: Require corrupt officials to take a seat on a dunking stool, and sell tickets to help replace the money their mischief cost the public.

Hmm, Mayor Kilpatrick of Detroit is under investigation for perjury and obstruction of justice in a whistle blower suit that cost Detroit taxpayers $8.4 million dollars. I wonder, just how many "dunks" Mayor Kilpatrick would have to take to replace the money his mischief cost the public...


Monday, August 25, 2008

One citizen's attempt to shine a light on open government

Monroe School Board member seeks more open policies

Article from the Snohomish County Tribune

dated August 20, 2008

An outspoken Monroe School Board member's effort to shine light on district issues has for the most part backfired, she admits, but small victories have been made.

Board member Debra Kolrud, a staunch advocate of open government, has been challenging board policies since joining the board in January.

The Monroe School Board, per protocol, doesn't like surprises and only allows the board president to communicate positions of the board on "controversial issues." The protocol policy doesn't define controversial issues. But a series of events leading up to a discussion on school impact fees, which are charged to developers to mitigate costs associated with growth, prompted Kolrud to speak out against what she says is an example of the district's unfriendly public process.

Kolrud wanted the board to discuss a resolution supporting a reduction or elimination of the discount rate given to developers. School impact fees are used by the district to build new buildings associated with growth. Currently, developers are given a 50 percent discount on those fees.

In 2005-06, the district received $3,909 for each single family detached house built in the district's county boundaries. For each multifamily, two-bedroom unit, the district
received $3,494.

In 2008-09, the district projects to receive $3,139 for each single family home and $1,383 for each multifamily, two-bedroom unit.

Kolrud is alarmed by this trend. She knew she likely didn't have the votes to support a resolution, but wanted to get the discussion going on whether developers pay their fair share.

"She certainly has a right to continue pushing for what she wants," board president Tom MacIntyre said. The district agreed to have a discussion but wanted an attorney to brief members in private.

Kolrud believes the school administration tried to avoid a public discussion on the matter when it gave serious consideration to holding three separate meetings with the attorney in order to avoid creating a board quorum, which would have had to be open to the public.

In e-mails obtained by the Tribune between Superintendent Ken Hoover and board members, Kolrud protested the decision to have the discussions in private. Hoover, in consultation with board president MacIntyre, set up private briefings with consulting attorney, Grace Yuan. Yuan had represented all school districts in the county related to impact fees.

"I am proposing times at 4PM, 5PM and 6PM with no more than two board members present at a time," Hoover wrote July 8 to all five board members. The reason cited was that the discussion on school impact fees was a "politically sensitive issue," Hoover wrote. "I'm sorry if I implied that the reason for talking to our attorney was because of potential litigation," Hoover wrote in a July 10 e-mail to Kolrud. "At this point, this is primarily a politically sensitive issue."

Kolrud objected and cited state law which spells out what matters can and cannot be discussed in private. "Since almost all issues the board discuss and or [sic] deliberate can be viewed as 'politically sensitive issue' we do not have the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know," Kolrud wrote back to Hoover on July 10. "...This does not support the spirit or the intent of the Open Public Meeting(s) Act to conduct three separate meetings to avoid a board quorum. We are purposely keeping our discussion away from the public, which I can not be apart of." School impact fees tend to be politically sensitive because developers don't like paying them.

In an interview with the Tribune, MacIntyre defended the initial idea of meeting with the lawyer in private, describing it as a meeting with one's legal counsel instead of a public meeting.

After Kolrud's protest, the board opened the meeting to the public Aug. 11. At the meeting, the attorney, via speakerphone, advised against proposing a reduction of impact fee discounts until spring 2009. The board went along with this advice, not wanting to "rock the boat." Three board members were against continuing this conversation.

In a statement to the Tribune, Hoover said the district was concerned about the legal consequences associated with lowering the agreed upon discount rate. "The (private) meeting proposal was initiated in an attempt to respond to a school board member's request while trying to ensure all board members received the same information about Monroe's tumultuous history with this topic including past litigation that could have had a more than $1 million financial impact," Hoover wrote.

"Varying summer schedules with a variety of people also played a role in the original meeting proposal."

This is not the first time Kolrud has challenged district policy. She tried to get the board to update its public records policy to align with state law. That is temporarily on hold while the district continues to research the matter.

She also requested the removal of a statement that she says is unfriendly and may discourage citizens from speaking to the board. New language proposed, though, appears to further limit the board's interaction with the public. The proposed draft limits the number of citizens wishing to speak to the board if they hold the same position. And reminds citizens that the board president may "interrupt, warn, or terminate public comment if it interferes with the orderly conduct
of the meeting."

A big thanks to Toby Nixon at Washington Coalition for Open Government for sharing this story with us.

Washington Policy Center OP ED on Solutions for Math and Science Teacher shortages

Increasing high school requirements warrants a fresh look at teacher shortages in math and science

by Liv FinneDirector, Center for Education

This op-ed appeared in the July 22 edition of The News Tribune (Tacoma), and in several other newspapers in July.

While the world changes at breakneck speed and our needs for a skilled workforce continue to increase, our public education system remains stuck in the past. In an effort to modernize the school curriculum, the State Board of Education will soon vote on a plan, known as CORE 24, to require students to take more classes in math, science, English and other subjects before they graduate. Current law requires students to fulfill only 19 credits to graduate. These 19 credits do not prepare students to apply for college or to follow a vocational career. However, education officials say our system is not ready for such a change, because we already face shortages of teachers in math and science.

Education officials have a point. They are hampered by laws which sabotage efforts at reform. Antiquated teacher credential laws prevent schools from hiring individuals working in the private sector who have a high degree of knowledge and expertise in math and science. For example, by law Bill Gates is not allowed to teach math in a public high school. Teacher certification laws also contribute to an education culture which equates quality to the holding of a credential, even though research shows that teachers without such credentials, such as Teach for America candidates, are just as effective, if not more so, at raising student achievement as teachers with certificates, particularly in math.

Washington has a rich resource of talent which should be tapped for our classrooms. In Washington, over 240,000 people have bachelor degrees or higher as computer or mathematical scientists, architects or engineers, statisticians and accountants, computer and information systems and engineering managers, life and physical scientists, and post-secondary professors in math or science. Over the past 10 years, public and private colleges and universities in Washington State graduated 26,693 individuals who earned a bachelor's degree or higher in math or closely related subject. Yet, none of these talented professionals can be hired as a teacher without a state-approved certificate.

In 2001 the Legislature, reacting to shortages of teachers of math and science, attempted to create alternate routes to the classroom. Alternate Route 3 was intended to attract "career changers" with five years work experience and a bachelor's degree or better in math. Unfortunately, this "alternate route" requires candidates to go a year without pay, take 45 credits, and pay over $10,000 in tuition. The program has failed to attract sufficient numbers of teachers to meet current shortages.

Shortages of teachers of math persist. School officials are forced to lower standards for teachers of math. Only 40% of Washington's middle and high school teachers of math either majored or minored in math in college. The rest of our math teachers only have a math "endorsement," which requires considerably less math knowledge. The research shows that the higher the grade, the more a teacher needs to know in order to be effective in raising student achievement. The state's artificial restrictions on hiring new teachers has resulted in large numbers of students failing the math WASL, and having to take remedial math in college. In addition, this year the Legislature and Governor repealed the WASL graduation requirement in math.

The world that our children live in is dramatically different from the past. In 1950, 60% of all jobs were unskilled and required a high school education or less. Today, less than 15% of all jobs are considered unskilled and roughly two-thirds of all jobs require some level of college education. Knowledge of math and science is critical to the futures of many of our children.

Updating the curriculum through CORE 24 is clearly necessary to prepare our students for the global marketplace. Our students desperately need to benefit from individuals currently working in the private sector who might be attracted to our classrooms, if only the main obstacle to entry, teacher certification laws, can be removed. School officials need the freedom to hire any skilled professional with a bachelor's degree in math or closely related subject, and to create on-the-job training programs supported by mentor teachers.

Liv Finne is director of the Center for Education at Washington Policy Center, a non-partisan public policy research organization in Seattle and Olympia. Liv can be reached at Nothing here should be construed as an attempt to aid or hinder any legislation before any legislative body. For more information contact WPC at 206-937-9691 or online at

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Politics is a blood sport: You won't have Jim Dunn to kick around anymore

Last November, Rep. Jim Dunn, (R) 17th Legislative District made national news when he made an "inappropriate comment" to a Legislative employee at a dinner following a House Appropriations Committee Hearing in the Tri-Cities.

As punishment for the comment, House leadership stripped Dunn of his committee assignments and per diem. Dunn threatened to sue, but House leadership countered with the threat of revealing Dunn's past behavior with other female legislative employees, if the matter went to court.

I was the last woman to work for Representative Jim Dunn in Olympia.

I left Rep. Dunn's employment in September of 1999, after enduring months of nasty, boorish behavior that included some violence. Even with documentation up the gazzo, House staff would not re-assign me to another legislator, so I had to quit a job that I loved to escape the behavior.

I was not Jim Dunn's first target, nor was I by any means the last.

“We want to have zero tolerance for our members for inappropriate comments,” said House Republican leader Richard DeBolt."

Yeah, right. After ten years of covering up Dunn's boorish behavior, the legislature (Democrats and Republicans alike) "cracks down" on him, for one, single comment.

Obviously, I'm not an "unbiased" observer in this particular situation, so I'll step back and allow a colleague in Clark County to report on the outcome of the primary election. After all, it's his turf, not mine.

For an update on Representative Jim Dunn's bid for re-election, please see
Politics is a blood sport: You won't have Jim Dunn to kick around anymore.

And, now, a word from Jim Dunn's press secretary:

Last Friday, Rep. Dunn gracefully conceded to Republican challenger Joseph James, who had 31.86% of the votes. Tim Probst, the Democrat front runner, has 49.50% of the vote.

I hope the Republicans have learned a valuable lesson from this experience. Women are not toys to be placed in the workplace to amuse boorish elected officials.

For the record, I did not attempt to influence the outcome of Jim Dunn's re-election in any way - nor did I sue the legislature back in 1999.

"Mad Men" way of treating women at work is inexcusable

Aneurin, who operates a blog called "Politics are a blood sport" down in Clark County, has a few choice words to say about The Columbian editor's op ed piece regarding Doug Southerland's service to the state of Washington. Aneurin is offended at the media's lack of coverage of Lands Commissioner Doug Southerland's behavior towards a female DNR employee.

"Look, I'm sure for Laird's generation, this whole Mad Men way of treating women at work is all fine and dandy, but in this day and age, it's inexcusable. Traditional media did an incredibly poor job of covering this story, bordering on journalistic malpractice, and Laird is excusing the behavior. Either he doesn't pay attention to Puget Sound area newspapers, or he's covering up for Sutherland's incompetence and workplace boorishness."


Goldy, at HorsesAss writes, "Imagine you are a young woman, excited to embark on your chosen career, only days on the job at DNR. Imagine you are surrounded by peers and supervisors at your first statewide meeting, about to be introduced to the Commissioner of Public Lands, a statewide elected official. And now imagine the 68-year-old Sutherland spins you around, fondles you, and dismisses you with a sexually suggestive comment… only to have your immediate supervisor imply that you somehow brought the harassment upon yourself. How could your day get any worse?"

The young woman never filed an action in court. For the record, Commissioner Southerland's daughter is an attorney who specializes in sexual harassment cases.

*Laird is an editor for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, WA . The entire post can be read here:

Draft of Public Disclosure Legislation Prohibiting false and defamatory statements about candidates for public office

Sticks and Stones -

Defamation of Character: the act of making untrue statements about another person that damages his or her reputation and standing in the community. Wikipedia tells us, in law, defamation (also called calumny, libel, slander, and vilification) is the communication of a statement that makes a false claim, expressly stated or implied to be factual, that may give an individual, business, product, group, government or nation a negative image.

Here is a draft copy of the Public Disclosure Commission's special request legislation regarding the prohibition of false and defamatory statements about candidates for public office. I sincerely hope this legislation moves forward and is introduced in the 2009 Legislative Session.
BILL REQ. #: Z-0080.1/09

BRIEF DESCRIPTION: Prohibiting false and defamatory statements about candidates for public office.

1 AN ACT Relating to false and defamatory statements about candidates
2 for public office; amending RCW 42.17.530; and creating a new section.


4 NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. (1) The concurring opinion of the Washington
5 state supreme court in Rickert v. State, Public Disclosure Commission,
6 161 Wn.2d 843, 168 P. 3d 826 (2007) found the statute that prohibits
7 persons from sponsoring, with actual malice, political advertising and
8 electioneering communications about a candidate containing false
9 statements of material fact to be invalid under the First Amendment to
10 the United States Constitution because it posed no requirement that the
11 prohibited statements be defamatory.
12 (2) It is the intent of the legislature to amend chapter 42.17 RCW
13 to find that a violation of state law occurs if a person sponsors false
14 statements about candidates in political advertising and electioneering
15 communications when the statements are made with actual malice and are
16 defamatory.
17 (3) The legislature finds that in such circumstances damages are
18 presumed and do not need to be established when such statements are
19 made with actual malice in political advertising and electioneering

1 communications and constitute libel or defamation per se under RCW
2 9.58.010 (1) or (3). The legislature finds that incumbents,
3 challengers, voters, and the political process will benefit from
4 vigorous political debate that is not made with actual malice and is
5 not defamatory.
6 (4) The legislature finds that when such defamatory statements
7 contain a false statement of material fact about a candidate for public
8 office they expose the candidate to contempt, ridicule, or reproach and
9 can deprive the candidate of the benefit of public confidence, or
10 prejudice him or her in his or her profession, trade, or vocation. The
11 legislature finds that when such statements falsely represent that a
12 candidate is the incumbent for the office sought when in fact the
13 candidate is not the incumbent they deprive the actual incumbent and
14 the candidates of the benefit of public confidence and injure the
15 actual incumbent in the ability to effectively serve as an elected
16 official. The legislature further finds that defamatory statements
17 made by an incumbent regarding the incumbent's challenger may deter
18 individuals from seeking public office and harm the democratic process.
19 Further, the legislature finds that when such statements make, either
20 directly or indirectly, a false claim stating or implying the support
21 or endorsement of any person or organization when in fact the candidate
22 does not have such support or endorsement, they deprive the person or
23 organization of the benefit of public confidence and/or will expose the
24 person or organization to contempt, ridicule, or reproach, or injure
25 the person or organization in their business or occupation.
26 (5) The legislature finds that defamatory statements, made with
27 actual malice, damage the integrity of elections by distorting the
28 electoral process. Democracy is premised on an informed electorate.
29 To the extent such defamatory statements misinform the voters, they
30 interfere with the process upon which democracy is based. Such
31 defamatory statements also lower the quality of campaign discourse and
32 debate, and lead or add to voter alienation by fostering voter cynicism
33 and distrust of the political process.
34 Sec. 2. RCW 42.17.530 and 2005 c 445 s 10 are each amended to read
35 as follows:
36 (1) It is a violation of this chapter for a person to sponsor with
Code Rev/SCG:seg 2 Z-0080.1/09

1 actual malice a statement constituting libel or defamation per se under
2 RCW 9.58.010 (1) or (3) under the following circumstances:
3 (a) Political advertising or an electioneering communication that
4 contains a false statement of material fact about a candidate for
5 public office((. However, this subsection (1)(a) does not apply to
6 statements made by a candidate or the candidate's agent about the
7 candidate himself or herself));
8 (b) Political advertising or an electioneering communication that
9 falsely represents that a candidate is the incumbent for the office
10 sought when in fact the candidate is not the incumbent;
11 (c) Political advertising or an electioneering communication that
12 makes either directly or indirectly, a false claim stating or implying
13 the support or endorsement of any person or organization when in fact
14 the candidate does not have such support or endorsement.
15 (2) It is not a violation of this section for a candidate or his or
16 her agent to make statements described in subsection (1)(a) or (b) of
17 this section about the candidate himself or herself because a person
18 cannot defame himself or herself. It is not a violation of this
19 section for a person or organization referenced in subsection (1)(c) of
20 this section to make a statement about that person or organization
21 because such persons and organizations cannot defame themselves.
22 (3) Any violation of this section shall be proven by clear and
23 convincing evidence. If a violation is proven, damages are presumed
24 and do not need to be proven.

--- END ---
Code Rev/SCG:seg 3 Z-0080.1/09

Saturday, August 23, 2008

WSDOT Construction Updates for Whatcom/Skagit County

I-5: Peace Arch Port of Entry ReconstructionBill Lesh, General Service Administration, Public Affairs Manager, 503-326-2306Mike Nuernberger, General Service Administration, Project Manager, 253-931-7306Crews are replacing the 31-year-old Peace Arch Port of Entry. The current port is not big enough to handle all the cars that use it on a daily basis and does not meet the requirements of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security or U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Crews also will rebuild a bridge and sections of the interstate both north and south of the station.

SOUTHBOUND TRAFFIC REVISION - All southbound traffic is being directed off the freeway at the D Street Exit 276 to Blaine as they leave the border station. From there, travelers can cross D Street and return to the freeway southbound or they can proceed south on SR 548 through Blaine on Peace Portal Drive and re-enter the freeway, south of the City (I-5 Exit 274.)

NORTHBOUND TRAFFIC REVISION: Northbound traffic is being routed to the west, using the southbound lanes through the east side of the U.S. border station. There is no access to northbound I-5 from D Street (exit 276). Instead, northbound drivers are being detoured east on D Street to SR 543 and then north to the Pacific Highway crossing to Canada.

8 a.m. 8/22SR 544: Pole/Hannegan signalization project (Whatcom County)Milepost 1.97Whatcom County will install a new traffic signal at the intersection of Hannegan and Pole roads.

Lane closure Aug. 22-29: Crews will close one lane from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. as crews relocate utilities. Flaggers will direct traffic through the intersection. Delays are expected.
8 a.m. 8/22SR 9: Wetland mitigation for Horton Road to SR 546 #7492Milepost 75.22 and 77.37Crews will be accesing wetland mitigation sites off SR 9 and off Potter Road.
No construction delays the week of Aug. 25.

8 a.m. 8/22SR 11: City of Bellingham sewer extensionMilepost 18.85 (north of Samish Lake Road)Crews will be extending a city sewer line.

Daytime lane closures: Crews will close lanes from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 25-29 to construct the new sewer line. Flaggers will alternate traffic through the work zone. Delays are expected.
10 a.m. 8/22Skagit/Whatcom Roadside Safety ImprovementsCrews will install guardrail, remove fixed objects and improve roadsides to reduce collisions and improve safety along SR 9, SR 11, SR 20, SR 542 and SR 547. Funding for this project is provided by the 2005 Transportation Partnership Funding Package.

SR 9: LANE CLOSURE 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 25-28. Crews will close one lane between mileposts 63-65 to place gravel.

SR 11: No work the week of Aug. 25.

SR 20: No work the week of Aug. 25.

SR 542: No work the week of Aug. 25.

SR 547: No work the week of Aug. 25.

9 a.m. 8/22Thunder Creek and Coal Creek bridge scourMilepost 63.5 (SR 9); Milepost 69.9 (SR 20)Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593Crews will do bridge scour work on the Thunder Creek bridge on SR 9 just north of the Prairie Road intersection, and on the Coal Creek bridge on SR 20, just east of Sedro Woolley.

Aug. 25-29: Crews will be working off the roadway at Thunder Creek. Trucks will be entering and leaving the work areas.

9 a.m., 8/22SR 20: Sidney Street to Scenic Heights, #7232Mileposts: 27.32 to 31.03 Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593 To reduce the risk of collisions on SR 20, we straightened sharp corners, leveled hills, widened lanes and shoulders, removed trees and moved utility poles. Construction started in April 2007.

Aug. 25-26: Crews will place topsoil on road shoulders and pave driveways. Minor delays are expected. This work is weather dependent.
Sign up for Highway 20 e-mail updates.

10 a.m., 8/22SR 20: Quiet Cove Road to SR 20 Spur, Stage 1, #7358Milepost: 44.65 to 45.05Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593We will widen and realign State Route 20 from Meadow Creek to South Lake Campbell Road. We also will close an intersection, add a turn lane and build a new bridge. Changes along this section of highway should reduce crashes and improve traffic flow south of Anacortes.

Crews restripe the roadway and install fencing. This work should have a minimal impact on traffic.

Driver Alert: The speed limit through this work zone has been reduced to 40 mph. Please slow down and use caution when driving throughout this work zone. A bicycle route is in place. Please follow signs.

10 a.m., 8/22SR 20: Quiet Cove Road to SR 20 Spur, Stage 2, #7532 Milepost: 45.05 to 47.87 Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593 We will widen and realign State Route 20 between South Lake Campbell Road and the Miller/Gibraltar Road intersection. We will also add turn lanes and make other intrsection improvements. Changes along this section of highway should reduce crashes and improve traffic flow south of Anacortes.

Lane closure 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, to 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 26: Crews will close the eastbound lane between S. Lake Campbell Road and Miller/Gibralter roads to remove trees. Flaggers will direct traffic through the area. Delays are expected.
Expect to see crews working along the shoulders during the day to do clearing work, slope stabilization, waterline installation and pond construction in the southern area of the project. This work is off the road and should not impact traffic.

9 a.m. 8/22SR 20: Fredonia to I-5 Widening - Stage 2, #7484Mileposts: 55.05 to 59.85Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593We will widen SR 20 to four lanes to improve safety and reduce congestion. The second stage of this project involves widening lanes from Higgins Airport Way to the I-5 interchange, realigning the Pulver Road intersection, and building new, elevated southbound I-5 ramps.

I-5 LANE CLOSURE: 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Aug. 24-26. On Sunday, Aug. 24, Crews will close the right lane of southbound I-5 near the SR 20 interchange to add concrete barrier. On Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 25-26, crews will close the right lane of northbound I-5 to restripe the road and add concrete barrier. Delays are expected.

Pile driving near the I-5/SR 20 interchange is expected to begin Monday, Aug. 25 from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Crews will be continue building the new Higgins Slough bridge. This work is off the road and should not impact traffic.

Crews will build sidewalks on SR 20 underneath the I-5 overpass.

9 a.m., 8/22SR 525: Clinton ferry to Bob Galbreath Road pavingMileposts: 8.48-9.06Dave Crisman, Project Engineer, 360-428-1593Crews are repaving SR 525 between the Clinton Ferry terminal and Bob Galbreath Road. Sidewalks, guardrails, lane markings and signs will be upgraded to improve driver and pedestrian safety.

No work scheduled the week of Aug. 25.

8 a.m., 8/22SR 539: Ten Mile Road to SR 546 Widening #7469Milepost 5.65-10.45Chris Damitio, Project Engineer, 360-788-7400We will widen the highway from two lanes to four lanes and add roundabouts at four key intersections. We will build a new bridge over the Nooksack river and replace or upgrade four other bridges. Widening the highway will relieve congestion and improve traffic flow.

SINGLE LANE CLOSURE: 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. Aug. 25-29. Crews will close one lane between Bartlett and Wiser Lake roads to install drainage crossings and repair the road near bridges.
Expect heavy truck traffic near the Nooksack River bridge, which could create minor delays.
Crews will be working from 6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday thrrough Friday north and south of the Nooksack River bridge on the west side of SR 539, about 1.5 miles south of Lynden. Crews will be constructing girder supports and driving pilings for several new bridges. This work will be off the road and should not impact traffic.

8 a.m., 8/22SR 539: Horton Road to Ten Mile Road Widening, #7273 Milepost: 1.69 to 6.01Chris Damitio, Project Engineer, 360-788-7400 We will widen the highway from two lanes to four lanes and add a turn lane on Guide Meridian north of Bellingham. Widening the highway will relieve congestion and improve traffic flow.

8:30 p.m. to 7 a.m. - Crews will close one lane at night to complete drainage crossings.

6 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.- Crews will close shoulders to install drainage and widen lanes.

DRIVER ALERT: Final paving will begin the week of Sept. 8. Drivers will have limited access to residences and businesses as the asphalt is cooling.

Crews have shifted traffic to narrow lanes to the west at the north end of the project area to allow room for work on the east half of the Four Mile Creek and Ten Mile Creek bridges, scheduled to finish this summer.

Drivers should use caution through the work zone.
Sign up for Whatcom County e-mail updates.

8 a.m., 8/22SR 542: Boulder Creek Bridge Replacement, #7342Milepost: 28.34Chris Damitio, Project Engineer, 360-788-7400We will replace the 55-year-old Boulder Creek Bridge on the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542) with a higher, wider bridge. The new bridge will reduce flooding problems that close the bridge nearly every year, and it will improve fish habitat. The design includes a bike lane that will be separated from traffic by a barrier.

Crews hope to complete paving this week. Traffic could be using both lanes of the bridge by early September.

Traffic is driving on the eastbound lane of the new bridge. A one-way, one-lane road is in effect across the bridge and is controlled by a temporary signal.

The old bridge is demolished.
Sign up for Whatcom County e-mail updates.

8 a.m., 8/22Where will striping crews be working?Steve Wehmeyer, Maintenance Supervisor, 206-768-5882Striping season lasts from April 16 until October 31. Crews will restripe more than 4,500 miles of highways around Puget Sound between the King/Pierce county line and the U.S./Canadian border. View the monthly striping schedule.

We expect crews to be striping the area this week. Crews will stripe parts of Island and Skagit counties beginning Aug. 1 and ending Aug. 29. Crews will stripe the following roads:I-5, SR 9, SR 20, SR 525, SR 530, SR 531, SR 532, SR 534, SR 536 and SR 538 .

Special Events
No special events scheduled.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Time Magazine Names Best and Worst U.S. Mayors

Time magazine recently compiled a list of the best and worst mayors from cities with more than 500,000 people. The list included six Republicans, 22 Democrats and one unaffiliated mayor.


Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago was listed as the best municipal leader in the nation. Following Daley was Shirley Franklin of Atlanta, John Hickenlooper of Denver, who still has 75 percent job approval ratings after 19 months on the job. Fourth was Baltimore Mayor Martin O'Malley. New York's Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, was named the fifth best leader.

The worst three mayors were reported as Dick Murphy of San Diego, Kwame Kilpatrick of Detroit and John Street of Philadelphia.

Entire article can be found here:

THE WORST MUNICIPAL LEADERS, Time Magazine's picks and other corrupt mayors:

ATLANTIC CITY - is reeling from the latest in a string of mayoral missteps. Four out of the eight most recent mayors have left office after being arrested on corruption charges. AWOL Atlantic City Mayor Robert Levy stepped down, after failing to show up at city hall for two weeks. His resignation will be effective immediately, said his lawyer.

About a year ago, Levy confessed to having gilded his credentials by falsely claiming that he served in the Green Berets. Levy served two tours in the Vietnam War.

DETROIT — Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick was charged with perjury and other offenses and got a stern lecture from the judge about the importance of telling the truth - after a trove of raunchy text messages contradicted his sworn denials of an affair with his chief aide, Christine Beatty. Beatty resigned last January.

The 37-year-old "Hip-Hop Mayor" who brought youth and vitality to the job in this struggling city of 900,000 could get up to 15 years in prison for perjury alone and would be automatically expelled from office if convicted. The charges stem from a Whistle blower case that resulted in a $8.4 million dollar settlement.

Ignoring mounting demands that he step down, Kilpatrick said: "I look forward to complete exoneration once all the facts have been brought forth. I will remain focused on moving this city forward."

NEW JERSEY - Newark: For 20 years, Mayor Sharpe James wielded immense power as mayor of New Jersey's largest city, a political boss who eventually held a dual role as a state senator. He stands accused of selling City property to his former girlfriend, Tamika Riley, at a discounted rate.

Riley lawyer Gerald Krovatin asserted that she got no special treatment because of her affair with James, a married man twice her age, and claimed she was swept up in the investigation of James only because of their "intimate" relationship.

Riley was sentenced to 15 months in prison in July of 2008.

More New Jersey Corruption cases involving two mayors and two state legislators: Read the U.S. Department Of Justice charges here:

PHILIDELPHIA - Mayor John Street: During the re-election campaign against Sam Katz, the FBI uncovered a corruption scheme led by Street's friend and fund raiser Ron White, who died before going to trial. Former city treasurer Corey Kemp, a member of Street's administration, was sentenced to 10 years in jail after being found guilty on 27 corruption-related charges in May 2005.[11] Wikipedia.

SAN DIEGO - Mayor Dick Murphy announced his resignation Monday amid a widening federal investigation into the handling of the city’s deficit-riddled pension fund.

“It’s clear to me that the city needs a fresh start,” Murphy said, holding back emotion as he made the surprise announcement at City Hall while surrounded by his staff and family.

Murphy, a 62-year-old former judge who has served 4 1/2 years as mayor, said he will step down on July 15 as leader of the nation’s seventh-largest city.

Washington Citizens honored for their work to keep government open and accountable

Toby Nixon, president of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, announced today that two organizations, three public officials and three individual citizens will be recognized for their work on behalf of the cause of transparent and accountable government with the coalition's prestigious Key Awards.

"An informed public is vital to our democratic system, and those we have chosen to honor have each given time, effort, and resources to ensure the people's right to know what their government is doing", stated Nixon.

The honorees include: Concerned Citizens in Action of Washougal; David Koenig of Federal Way; Olympia Port Commissioner Paul Telford; Greg Hansen, Grant County Public Utilities District Commissioner; State Representative Bruce Chandler, R-Granger; Charlie Burrow of Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning; James Neff, investigations editor for the Seattle Times; and Allied Law Group of Seattle.

Nominations for the honors cited the following accomplishments as reasons for the awards: "Rep. Bruce Chandler (R-Granger) is the Ranking Minority Member of the House State Government and Tribal Affairs Committee. He showed strong support for government transparency when he stood up for keeping HB 3292, the bill to require taping of executive sessions, alive when it looked as if this piece of legislation was doomed forever."

"Concerned Citizens In Action, under the leadership of Dr. Martha Martin and Roger Daniels, has fought for the cause of open government for several years. Their efforts on behalf of the public's right to know through the use of public records requests in the Port of Camas/ Washougal RiverWalk project uncovered questionable activity on the part of the Port. The group continues to act as watchdogs for transparency in the affairs of local government."

"Since the mid-1990's, David Koenig has pursued the cause of government transparency by bringing cases based on denials of public records requests. He has won awards against the cities of Lakewood, Buckley, Tukwila and Des Moines. His pursuit of openness is based on his desire to see that local jurisdictions clean up their acts."

"Paul Telford ran for Port Commissioner on a platform calling for openness and accountability. He had previously won two landmark decisions holding officials accountable to the public. During his tenure, he has attempted to expand public access to the Port's affairs by urging the commission to televise its meetings."

"Greg Hansen had the courage to call his fellow commissioners to account for violating the Open Meetings Act."

"Michele Earl-Hubbard and Greg Overstreet, the principals of Allied Law Group, have defended the public's right to know what its government is doing both as individuals and as a law firm. They each have an impressive record of taking cases of people whose access to government information has been denied, often working tirelessly for little or no remuneration. In addition, Allied Law Group has contributed thousands of dollars worth of pro bono work to WCOG, which has enabled the coalition to fulfill its mission of upholding the principles of open government."

"James Neff has pursued a career-long fight for public access to government information. As a reporter, editor, professor, author and newspaper industry leader, Neff has always been in forefront of the battle to keep government open, not because it was his job but because he has a passion for it and believes in the principles. As investigations editor at The Times, Neff has led an unprecedented period in which The Seattle Times worked to open government records, resulting in dozens of groundbreaking stories. Entire teams of Times journalists have produced these stories, but Neff has provided the hands-on leadership throughout."

"Charlie Burrow's leadership of Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning resulted in improved awareness of and access to open government in Kitsap County. His action helped clarify and focus the minds of many Kitsap County citizens, officials and staff of the functions and value of open government concepts. Charlie’s actions exposed the undisclosed meetings and arrangements of a very large corporation with local officials."

Each Key Award winner will receive a framed certificate and a lapel pin at the coalition's annual James Madison/James Andersen Awards breakfast on Friday, September 19 from 7:00 to 9:00 AM at the Washington Athletic Club in Seattle.

The event will honor Jolene Unsoeld, former member of the state House of Representatives and U.S. Congress with its 2008 James Madison Award, and retired publisher Kris Passey with its second annual James Andersen Award. Enrique Cerna, program director of KCTS-9 will act as master of ceremonies, and David Horsey, political cartoonist for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer will present the keynote address.

The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a non-partisan, non- profit organization founded in 2003 by a group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving Washington's open meetings and public records laws and regulations. For more information about WCOG and its activities, go to