Crosscut

The Daily Troll: Gas tax increase gets a boost. Step away from that computer, Mr. County Executive. Starbucks' Manga Man.

A new transportation package starts with broad support. The political melodramas involving Snohomish County's Aaron Reardon take a new turn.

By Joe Copeland

February 20, 2013.

Boeing has a plan

Boeing will offer an interim fix for the 787 battery problems on Friday, according to an Associated Press report this afternoon. The company will reportedly float its suggestion in a meeting with the head of the Federal Aviation Administration, Michael Huerta. A Boeing spokesman wouldn't comment to AP.

Hands off the computers

The Snohomish County Council this morning took authority over the county's computer systems away from County Executive Aaron Reardon. His staff stands accused of concealing their identities while requesting public records about his critics. The Herald described the unanimous vote to yank his tech oversight as "a stinging repudiation of Reardon's ability to manage the county's day-to-day operations — and evidence of the deep distrust other elected officials have for the embattled executive." There was no immediate comment from Reardon.

Transportation package

House Democrats unveiled a transportation tax increase and construction package today that could draw broad support — and significant opposition, at least in its present form. The plan provides money for big highway projects in Eastern Washington (particularly around Yakima and Spokane) and all over central Puget Sound (particularly for east and south King County), as well as Pierce and Snohomish counties. But there's also lots of transit money, which will warm the environmentalist hearts of Puget Sound voters. Labor and the Washington Business Roundtable are cheering too.

So, is passage by the Legislature and voters an easy Job One for new state Transportation Secretary Lynn Peterson? Not at all. Smart money says the Legislature and new Gov. Jay Inslee need a year to build support among voters for this or any transportation plan. A 10-cent hike in the existing 37-cent state gasoline tax would indeed provoke a lot of questions from voters. As details were about to be released, the conservative Washington Policy Center sent out an email warning against a "transit bailout." And then there's the Tim Eyman factor: The current version includes an increase in the motor vehicle tax statewide. Some urban areas have proven quite willing to impose local motor vehicle taxes for transportation. But a larger state take on vehicle registrations each year?

The Roundtable's savvy leader Steve Mullin expressed hope that Mercer Island Rep. Judy Clibborn's proposal would be the "start of a robust conversation." Count on it, big guy.

One transportation tangle

The House Democrats' package would include money to ease traffic problems around Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Here's one look on YouTube at traffic there.

Shooting pigeons

A new bill aims at a rather surprising tax target: a sales tax exemption for non-profit gun clubs buying clay targets. Crosscut's John Stang reports:

Sen. Ann Rivers, R-La Center, introduced a bill Wednesday to exempt nonprofit shooting clubs from paying sales and use taxes when they buy clay pigeons. The bill's co-sponsors are Sens. Don Benton, R-Vancouver, and Pam Roach, R-Auburn. Roach is an expert marksperson who keeps shooting contest awards on one wall of her office.  

Howard Schultz: The cartoon edition

A Vancouver (Washington) company has a new cartoon book featuring Howard Schultz. Bluewater Productions quotes the author of its book, CW Cooke, as saying, "I am in awe of Howard Schultz. What he managed to accomplish in such a short period of time with Starbucks made him a legend. And reading his book made me desperate to tell his story to the world in comic book form.” See, someone actually read Schultz's "Onward: How Starbucks Fought for its Life without Losing its Soul"? But speaking of Schultz's accomplishments (and there are quite a few, bitter Sonics fans), his contribution to the development of the Japanese yen for coffee certainly won't be hurt by becoming a manga character.

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Joe Copeland is political editor for Crosscut. You can reach him at Joe.Copeland@crosscut.com.

View this story online at: http://crosscut.com/2013/02/20/politics-government/113063/daily-troll-gas-tax-transportation-reardon/

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Printed on October 19, 2014