State Senate leaders are dancing ever so gingerly around the question of who will control what in a divided legislative session. At this morning's Associated Press briefing, Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom, the soon-to-be Senate majority leader, said he's getting calls from fellow Democrats interested in accepting committee chairmanships offered to some of them under the so-called Majority Coalition Caucus that he helped spearhead with Republican senators. Ed Murray, would-be Dem majority leader, said some party colleagues might accept chairmanships — as individuals — but that the party caucus is ready to operate as a minority body.
Both Murray and Tom seemed to leave room for some new compromise plan before the session starts Monday. But we're not holding our breath. At one point, Tom went into his anti-Seattle riff (same one he used with Bellevue constituents the other night) and suggested that having his coalition in charge would be better for middle-class folks around the state. Seattle's Murray didn't let the Seattle-bashing go: "The average income in the city of Medina where you come from is three times the average in Seattle, where I come from." Well, touché!
Barbs aside, Tom and Murray did seem to lay some groundwork for cooperating over the course of the upcoming session. Murray called the question of whether the Senate is controlled in bipartisan fashion an insider game and suggested the focus should be on results. Amen.
The Sound of Transit at UW
The University of Washington's regents OK'd a land deal with Sound Transit for a light-rail station at NE 45th Street and Brooklyn Avenue, according to a Seattle Times report.
The UW will have the above-ground development rights, which will generate some interesting land-use and urban-design discussions. The Times' Mike Lindblom says that the UW is still willing to look at retired architecture prof Philip Thiel's idea for a European-style plaza. Of course, there are fears that any plaza will become a hangout for vagrants. But isn't hope a better guide for designing the city of the future?
He's the economy governor
At the AP briefing, incoming Gov. Jay Inslee didn't stray far from his campaign talking points: job development, no general tax increases. Nevertheless, an interesting picture of his priorities is starting to emerge, and it's all about the economy. Even while Inslee and others talked about ending a lot of existing tax loopholes, the new guv emphasized ideas for targeted tax breaks to stimulate the clean-energy sector, tech innovation and hiring. He also seemed willing to devote himself to strike prevention at Boeing, where the company and its engineers' union have been having some, ah, difficult contract talks.
Inslee said, "You cannot overstate the importance of Boeing and the Boeing supply chain to the state of Washington. Nor can you overstate the potential growth in the aerospace industry … I will try to play a positive role and make sure the parties understand the importance of the issue."
Inslee drops back to pass ...
Inslee was a high school quarterback and it pops up explicitly and implicitly in conversations and public appearances. But, as annoying as his platitude-only gubernatorial campaign was, Inslee is an engaging person — and, high school football stereotypes aside, quite capable of humility. He took a minute recently to ask for the public help's as governor. His former roles as a legislator and member of the U.S. House of Representatives, "were demanding," said Inslee, "but frankly [those jobs] don’t hold a candle to this one.”
Here's the start of his talk.
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