Cops in schools
On a day when Congress began hearing testimony on gun safety, Snohomish County Sheriff John Lovick decided to put five deputies in Snohomish schools — as a safety measure. This according to The Herald in Everett. Lovick says that the decision will stretch his budget, but he's determined to make it happen and he's looking to local corporations to help cover the cost. The former Democratic state legislator and one of the region's really fine public servants, told reporter Sharon Salyer, "Nothing has impacted me more than Sandy Hook. Some nights I can't sleep thinking about it." (For Gabby Giffords' gun control and school safety testimony today, see below.)
No more Blue Angels?
Speaking of Everett, the Navy wants local communities to know how they'll be affected if Congress fails to resolve the current budget issues. The prospect of automatic "sequestration" cuts under the existing budget agreements would presumably hit Everett, Bremerton and Whidbey Island. One Northwest impact: Seafair might lose the Navy Blue Angels, according to a report by KIRO Radio and MyNorthwest journalist Linda Thomas. Mark Trahant, the former Seattle Post-Intelligencer editorial page editor, wrote in Indian Country Today this morning that sequestration threatens to devastate Native American higher education institutions. (The Tulalip and other tribes have been working to develop higher education programs in recent years.) Discussions about cutbacks in numerous other areas are just beginning.
State pot job: Experience preferred?
The Liquor Control Board today reserved a convention center hall in Tacoma to take questions from dozens of people hoping to bid for a contract as its adviser "on all things weed," as an Associated Press report puts it. As to qualifications and experience, AP reported this exchange from the meeting:
Rose Habib, analytical chemist from a marijuana testing lab in Missoula, Montana: "Since it's not unlikely with this audience, would a felony conviction preclude you from this contract?"
John Farley, procurement coordinator with the LCB: It depends. A pot-related conviction is probably fine; a "heinous felony," not so much.
We're #1! We're #1!
Washington State ranks No. 1 in the unfairness of its tax burdens on lower and moderate income people. So finds a new report from the Washington State Budget & Policy Center. Our top ranking comes from the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, which has rated Washington worst in the share of taxes paid by those with lower levels of income for four straight years. If this were a sports competition where states scored points for favoring the rich, we'd be a dynasty! And we'd bet (since sports and betting go together, especially in Super Bowl week) that the Senate Majority Coalition will do its part to preserve our standing.
The institute notes that the states with low taxes are often the ones with the worst disparities between rich and poor. That may be true for some other "Terrible 10" states in the rankings, such as South Dakota, Arizona and Alabama. But Washington? We don't even get the (debatable) consolation of low taxes.
Giffords to Congress: do something about guns
Former U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords opened the congressional testimony on gun control today. Guns are not just a national issue, but a local and state issue across the country. Giffords, the victim of gun violence herself, and her husband Mark Kelly are calling for action on gun control. Will Congress take the couple seriously and take some reasonable steps to prevent gun violence? Or will it let politics stall the discussion of sensible new laws that personal experience has taught Giffords and Kelly can help?
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