The FBI isn't amused that a phony tip led to scrambling jets to meet an airliner as it headed toward Seattle. Tim Eyman goes after Inslee on taxes: What, no honeymoon?
Hijacker false alarm
The FBI is not amused about a fake phone tip that pointed them toward a supposed hijacker on a Hawaii to Seattle flight yesterday. The Alaska Airlines jet, escorted by military jets into Sea-Tac Airport, carried no potential hijacker, the Associated Press reports. Whatever kick the tipster got out of an apparently false report may come back to bite him or her. "The FBI gets lots of hoax phone calls but something that rises to this level is not something that we're going to take lightly," an FBI spokesman in Hawaii told the AP.
Visiting with the feds
Gov. Jay Inslee and state Attorney General Bob Ferguson will meet with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder next week to discuss the state's legalization of marijuana, The Seattle Times reports. It's not clear whether Holder plans to play the tough cop or take a somewhat relaxed attitude.
Eyman the tax umpire
As Crosscut reported yesterday, Gov. Jay Inslee doesn't see extensions of existing taxes that are set to expire as a violation of his campaign pledge to veto new taxes. His reasoning: An existing tax isn't a new tax.
That reasoning might work for some, but Tim Eyman, the initiative business entrepreneur, is only too happy to supply his own interpretation. He sent out an email to media and supporters today: "Re: Inslee breaks no-new-taxes pledge within 24 hours of becoming Governor." Despite the alarmist subject line, the message itself is a bit more nuanced and fair. Ever happy to get into linguistic wrestling matches, he colorfully accuses Democrats of tricking voters on taxes:
Taxpayers feel like Charlie Brown running at the football, and Democrat Lucy pulling it away again and again.
It's almost like Gregoire whispered to Inslee "when you break your no new taxes promise, do it early so voters have four years to forget."
And to think there are still people out there who wonder why our tax initiatives keep passing by wider and wider margins.
Since his email came less than 48 hours after Inslee's swearing in ceremony, we guess it'd be an exaggeration to say that the Era of Good Feeling between Eyman and the new governor lasted two days.
Put down the drinks, kids
Crosscut's John Stang reports from Olympia today that legislators are looking at an idea to curb the often-worrisome levels of drinking by college students.
Specific alcohol-offense-related courts could be set up on college campuses under a bill beginning to work its way through the Washington Senate. The idea is to help deal with heavy drinking by college students.
"What we're seeing is not more students drinking nationally and locally, but seeing higher blood alcohol levels. We're seeing more women drinking more with higher alcohol levels," said Bruce Wright, a psychiatrist working for Washington State University at a Senate Law and Justice Committee hearing Friday.
Under this bill, counties and cities would be allowed to set up specific alcohol-offense-related courts on college campuses. The local governments would have sole authority over the judges and courts, but they would coordinate with the host colleges on referrals for alcohol treatment measures. A college's measures could be counseling or treatment, suspensions or even expulsions — depending on its own regulations.
Judges would be able to make rulings based solely on state law, said Sen. Mike Padden, R-Spokane Valley and chairman of the law and justice committee, who introduced the bill. But the colleges could use their internal regulations to require treatments or extra punishments.
Olympia resident Arthur West criticized the concept, saying it discriminates between college students and people who are not in college. "I have a problem with on-campus punishment for off-campus activities."
Home care workers still hopeful
State-employed home healthcare workers have tough jobs, working few hours for relatively little pay, despite recent support from voters for better working arrangements. Crosscut's Tom James was in Olympia today, listening to union leaders organize around a push for better pay. James reports:
The state's largest union of home healthcare workers will be asking the legislature for a new contract this year.
Members of SEIU Healthcare 775 currently work under a contract that sets wages along with the number of work-hours the state will pay for. Under the contract most members make between $10 and $11 per hour.
Since the 2008 recession, the average union member's yearly income has dropped by 28 percent, to $12,318 last year, according to documents the union provided, and one-quarter of the union's members live below the federal poverty line. Unlike in other fields, the hours paid for by the state are assigned to individual patients, said Adam Glickman, the union's treasurer-secretary. Most of the decrease in members' incomes has come from a decrease in available paid hours, which the state has been reducing since 2008, Glickman said.
The union has asked legislators to sponsor a bill increasing both care hours and pay, Glickman said.
Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
The country will honor the great civil rights leader, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday. Here's a video version of his 1963 "I Have a Dream" speech. If you have 15 minutes to listen sometime over the weekend, it's still uplifting nearly 50 years later.
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