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Midday Scan: Commitment time for gay lovers? Bellevue raiding Seattle schools? Higher ed for Olympia's dullards

No more excuses about marriage for some folks. Bellevue wants what Seattle has lost. Green jobs: not going according to the plan.

Red Square at Western Washington University

Red Square at Western Washington University WWU

For commitment-averse gays and lesbians, the bell has tolled. Washington is going to make an honest man (or woman) out of you. As the Olympian's Brad Shannon and Jordan Schrader write, the state senate's 28-21 bipartisan vote for marriage equality was a watershed, with four Republicans siding with the majority Democrats (three conservative Demcrats opposed the measure.)

The battle isn't over yet, however. "The vote moves the state closer to a challenge by conservative and religious activists who plan a ballot measure to overturn it – echoing the fight in 2009 over expanding the rights of Washington’s registered domestic partners," Shannon and Schrader write. 

A key takeaway: the four pro-marriage Republicans all represent King County districts: Sens. Steve Litzow, Cheryl Pflug, Andy Hill, and Joe Fain. The demographics come into focus — there are clearly no gay or lesbian families outside of King County.   

Seattle's loss could be Bellevue's gain. Susan Enfield, Seattle's interim schools' chief, is eyeing a superintendent opening across the lake. "Speculation about Enfield's potential interest in Bellevue began Dec. 16, when she announced she would leave Seattle for 'personal and professional reasons,'" the Seattle Times' Brian Rosenthal writes. "She has declined to elaborate on those reasons, but hinted last week it was due to disagreements with Seattle School Board members."  

Enfield has become a Rorschach test for Seattle-school reformers and activists alike. Reformers look in frustration and consider what might have been. School-board defenders look and just see an inkblot. Either way, Enfield will be freighted with Bellevue's still-unresolved labor issues, assuming she jumps to the richer, higher-performing district.      

The promise of "green jobs" is going the way of the 1958 Ford Edsel. "Nearly two years after Seattle announced an ambitious, $20 million weatherization program to create 2,000 jobs, officials said Wednesday that reaching that goal was unlikely," the Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho writes. "The program, Community Power Works, was funded in 2010 by a Department of Energy stimulus grant. Its goal: Create 2,000 living-wage jobs and help 2,000 homes get energy-efficiency upgrades." 

Ho's article coincides with a piece by the Herald's Michele Dunlop that underlines a near-identical pattern in Snohomish County. "Over the past few years, about 500 residents in the county attended short-term training programs with the hope of landing one of 25,000 or more green jobs expected to be needed in the state by 2020," Dunlop writes. "So far, 95 of those 500 students have found jobs."  

A green jobs' program is one of those white-boarded or focus-grouped ideas that seem to provide all the answers, from bolstering energy independence to ensuring sustainable jobs for returning veterans. Too good to be true (at least for now).  

What part of "crisis in higher education" do legislators not get? Reporting on Wednesday's higher-ed Town Hall forum featuring the presidents of all six of the state's four-year public universities, the Seattle Times' Katherine Long writes, "Washington ranks 48th among the states in per capita enrollment in public baccalaureate (undergraduate) programs, although it has one of the highest rates of community-college enrollment in the country. In the past four years, funding for the state's five universities and one four-year college — The Evergreen State College — was cut by about 50 percent. The state now is funding four-year schools at about the same level it did in 1991."  

The universities are making their pitch, but lawmakers aren't heeding the call. As the Captain said to Paul Newman in Cool Hand Luke, "What we've got here is a failure to communicate."  The Captain's second line is more evocative of Olympia, however. "Some men you just can't reach," he said. 

Lastly, is there any way to make sense of the senseless? As poet Archibald MacLeish wrote in The Young Dead Soldiers Do Not Speak, "The young dead soldiers do not speak./Nevertheless, they are heard in the still houses:/who has not heard them?" Sgt. Will Stacey, a 2006 Rosevelt High School grad, was killed Tuesday by an improvised explosive device in the Helmand province of Afghanistan. He was the 399th Washington resident to die in either Afghanistan or Iraq. Rest in peace. 


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