"E-Verify" has a sonorous, inviting ring, something like "eHarmony" or "ebay" (smart money says it was scrubbed, focus grouped, and scrubbed again). In fact, E-Verify is the federal employment-verification program used to determine the immigration status of workers, a process currently required of federal contractors and subcontractors. This morning's Seattle Times underlines the broader political question: Look for the Northwest's immigration fault lines, and E-Verify will light the way.
"E-Verify is at the center of debate in Congress, where lawmakers could make the now-voluntary program mandatory for employers across the country," Lornet Turnbull writes. Tiny communities such as Yacolt, Washington, have considered the question, and throughout the state, approximately 5,000 employers are enrolled. "It's an interesting fraternity — from restaurants and technology firms to colleges, school districts and state departments such as Labor and Industries. There are well-known employers such as Starbucks and the Muckleshoot Tribe and smaller names such as the Seattle bar Tini Bigs. Dozens of local governments also are enrolled — including the cities of Mercer Island and Port Townsend, as well as Pierce and Spokane counties," Turnbull writes. Gov. Chris Gregoire, however, is opposed to program expansion because of its impact on the state's agricultural sector. The dearth of Wenatchee Valley apple pickers is one example. To bastardize a 1960s anti-war slogan, "What if they gave an apple harvest and nobody came?"
Karl Rove is this generation's H.R. Haldeman, without, of course, any indictment (or better yet, Cardinal Richelieu). So why was the power-behind-W glad-handing in Bellevue? The Seattlepi.com's Joel Connelly writes that Rove was here Tuesday night to raise money and speak at the state Republicans' fall dinner. Oh, and to foster a spirit of peace and brotherly love. "Rove, inside, displayed the killer instincts of a mongoose," Connelly writes. (Midday Scan believes "wolverine" is a more apt description).
The Rove visit illustrates the celebrity appeal of the new chattering classes: Labor for a politico, sign a lucrative TV contract, and vent away (it doen't sound that bad, actually). Democrats will pay oodles to hear David Axelrod while Repulicans shell out for Rove (a decade ago, Axelrod and Rove could have been mistaken for Farmers' Insurance agents.) Why not boycott all of these talking heads and aim for genuine entertainers? Democrats could opt for Robert Redford rather than James Carville while Republicans tap Bruce Willis over Dick Morris.
Don't know everything you need to know about the liquor-privatization initiative? Well, thank goodness for millions of dollars worth of television commercial that confuse, irritate, or otherwise mislead. The Seattle Times' Danny Westneat writes, "The initiative to privatize the state liquor system is now the richest ballot measure fight in state history. Backed mostly by Costco on the 'yes' side, and the liquor distributors, public unions and Democratic groups on the 'no' side, the record spending is why you see on TV an endless parade of cops and firefighters arguing about whether this law would kill your kids."
Westneat is understandably enraged by the hypocricy of the "no" campaign, which is deriding I-1183 with a message that revenues would go "straight to the politicians in Olympia." Westneat reports, "What's so head-spinning about this is that last year, Protect Our Communities made precisely the opposite argument — that privatizing liquor was a bad idea because it would hurt state and local governments. But now that Costco has revised the bill so there will be more government revenue, not less, well, now that government support translates as 'waste.'" Cue Casablanca's Captain Renault: I'm shocked, shocked, to find that hypocricy is going on here!
Not to sound too gloom and doom but the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the most contaminated place on earth, may lie on a geologic fault. Bill Lascher of High Country News shadowed Brian Sherrod, a U.S. Geological Survey paleoseismologist, as he reviewed the history. "Until now, the extensive seismic hazards of western Washington were treated separately from those east of the Cascades, which were thought to be smaller and farther from population centers," Lascher writes. "But the fault Sherrod is seeking appears to be part of an interconnected system underlying the Cascades, from Puget Sound to Umtanum Ridge and Rattlesnake Mountain, which loom above Hanford Nuclear Reservation and the Northwest's only commercial nuclear plant, the Columbia Generating Station." Gulp.
Lastly, Westerners viscerally understand that it's essential to push back against federal overreach. For example, the USDA's nanny-ish mandate that school lunchrooms limit the number of potato servings per week. The U.S. Congress weighed in, and said "no," which made for this morning's triumphalist headline and story in the Idaho Statesman: "Senate votes for unlimited potatoes in schools."
Seattle Times, "E-Verify bill opens new front in debate over immigration"
Seattlepi.com, "Karl Rove: Bush guru to GOP gunslinger"
Seattle Times, "I-1183 campaign ads almost made me drive off the road"
High Country News, "Washington's Hanford Reservation and nuclear plant may lie on faults"
Idaho Statesman, "Senate votes for unlimited potatoes in schools"