Seattle City Council
Former Sen. Rick Santorum comes to bury marriage equality, not to praise it (apologies ye Julius Caesar purists.) So, it should be possible to weave meaning into Santorum's visit to Olympia and Tacoma today (Feb 13.) On the same day that Gov. Chris Gregoire signs into law the watershed marriage-equality bill, the Republican presidential candidate wriggles to transplant the culture wars to Washington, serving as an outsider killjoy and anti-gay-marriage counterpoint. Most Northwesterners recoil at transplanted sanctimony, however, especially the kind that equates same-sex marriage with bestiality.
In UW Election Eye 2012 featured in this morning's Seattle Times, Professor David Domke contextualizes the code-word culture wars and weaves together his observations with the on-the-ground reporting of UW students tracking the Republican race. Washington is Santorum country, Domke argues, because the party's most energized element mobilizes for a presidential caucus and because "Washington has a vocal body of evangelical conservatives who will turn out voters." It's an insightful read.
In theology, grace is the term for an unmerited gift. Is it irreligious then to suggest that by the grace of fewer Wahington public school children, the legislature will now have an extra $200 million to fill the $1.5 billion budget hole?
"The quarterly Caseload Forecast Council's report released Friday showed fewer children in Washington’s public schools and other smaller caseloads that brought good news for state budget writers," the Olympian's Brad Shannon writes. "Preliminary estimates are that smaller caseloads translate into $157 million in lower costs for the state over in the next 16 months, and Gov. Chris Gregoire’s budget director says the good news may actually top $200 million."
The ideal use of the term might be, "By the grace of lawmakers, expiration dates were fixed to all of the state's tax loopholes." It's a scenario likely not of this world, sadly.
Alaska has God on its side, not to mention oil. The perennial debate whether to drill or not-to-drill in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) has been given new life thanks to powerhouse Republican Rep. Don Young. State lawmakers are once again set to posture and arm twist. (At least trips to the nation's capital assuage restive constituents who don't like the feds telling them not to drill.) The Anchorage Daily News reports, "A major focus of the Legislature this week will be energy as five state House members travel to Washington, D.C., to urge drilling expansions, while state senators back home discuss oil taxes."
There must be more innovative ways to spur jobs and ensure energy independence. Still, Alaskans know how to work it, even if the U.S. Senate will put the kibosh on an opening-ANWR drive.
Sound Transit, like religion, is best not mentioned at a dinner party. Some have argued that a non-elected board limits Sound Transit's accountabilty. Nevertheless, most observers have been pleased by the leadership of Sound Transit director Joni Earl. Now the state auditor's office, at the request of the Washington Policy Center, is provoking new discussions with a look into some of the agency's practices.
The Herald's Bill Sheets looks at the ongoing story, writing, "Ridership projections are among the subjects for the audit, [Auditor's Office spokesperson Mindy] Chambers said. Others include how the agency is fulfilling the promises in its 2008 plan and how it is responding to concerns from a previous audit."
If anyone has a beef, it's likely to be the citizens of Federal Way (where one of the state legislators has already called for annual audits of Sound Transit). As Sheets observes, "Sound Transit has said it can no longer fulfill the element of the 2008 plan that called for light rail to be extended there. Dollars for projects are allocated within the regions in which they are raised, and south King County has taken a 31 percent hit in its tax revenue, according to the agency."
Lastly, do you know what kind of drink to buy Jean Godden for Valentine's Day? A classic Martini at Oliver's, of course. For Nick Licata, it's a muddy white Russian (hopefully not a reflection of his Cold War politics). The Seattle Weekly highlights the favorite drinks of Seattle's political and cultural elite just in time for Feb 14. Alas, whatever happened to a Rainier at the Blue Moon?
Seattle Times "The culture war and Rick Santorum return to Washington"
The Olympian, "State lawmakers get $200 million worth of good news"
Anchorage Daily News, "Legislators head to D.C. on trip to promote ANWR drilling"
Seattle Weekly, "What Seattle drinks"
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