Midday Scan: UW prez blasts U.S. prez; legislators like election day registration; homeless booted

Michael Young and other university presidents are angry about Obama's criticism of rising tuition bills. County election offices are worried about a brainstorm in Olympia. WSDOT moves in to move homeless from under viaduct.

Crosscut archive image.

The demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct opens up new waterfront possibilities (photo: Oct. 28, 2011, looking north toward Century Link Field and downtown Seattle).

Michael Young and other university presidents are angry about Obama's criticism of rising tuition bills. County election offices are worried about a brainstorm in Olympia. WSDOT moves in to move homeless from under viaduct.

Leave it to a Husky to blast President Obama by echoing Jeremy Bentham. University of Washington president Michael Young, along with Western's Bruce Shepard and WSU's Elson Floyd, are incensed at Obama's posturing over mounting state tuition. "University of Washington President Mike Young said he's annoyed with Obama, who said Friday in Ann Arbor, Mich., that if universities don't give students a break, the federal government is going to start taking money away," the AP reports. 

Young, Shepard, and Floyd rightly note that "the actual total cost of educating college students — paid by tuition plus state support — has gone down in this state because of efficiency on campus." Young throws down the gauntlet. Obama's university finger-pointing is "nonsense on stilts," he says. As all Everett-educated children know, "nonsense on stilts" is Utilitarian English philosopher Jeremy Bentham's scornful description of natural rights. Take that, President Obama!     

County auditors love voters but, like speed dating, they long for a week or two to get to know them. As the Herald's Jerry Cornfield writes, county auditors are shoving back at the latest Olympia brainstorm to permit voters to register even on election day.

"Existing rules let a person sign up as late as eight days before an election. Auditors say that's as close as they can cut it and still do all the checking to ensure that person should be allowed to vote," Cornfield writes. "Lawmakers figure it's not a big deal if these new voters come in, cast a provisional ballot that would be kept separate from other ballots and not tallied until everything about the new voter is verified." It sounds reasonable at first, but it's also the consummate unfunded mandate. As Cornfield reports, Olympia won't earmark funds to help with the 11th-hour registration scramble.   

Like it or not, you may soon be married. As the Seattle Times' Lornet Turnbull writes, "Under a proposed same-sex-marriage law in Washington state, most gay couples now registered as domestic partners would have two years to convert the relationship to marriage — or the state would do it for them."

Turnbull carefully reviews how the proposed marriage-equality law will translate into practice (one challenge for example, will be businesses that hold religious objections to gay weddings, although religious entities themselves are, per the First Amendment, not required to consecrate same-sex unions.) Of course, Seattle could recast itself as a gay-wedding Mecca. As Turnbull writes, "The law would allow unmarried gay couples from out of state to marry here, and would grant marriage benefits to those in civil unions and domestic partnerships who relocate here — as long as they then marry within a year."

It's moving day for some of the dozens or more homeless people who camp under the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The Seattlepi.com's Vanessa Ho deftly captures both their situation as well as the perspectives of homeless advocates and the Washington State Department of Transportation, which is making the campers move in what it says is a safety measure related to work on the viaduct's removal for a new waterfront tunnel. The state's sweeps are expected to expand northward into February as the work progresses. Ho notes that, while the state gave construction-impact money to a lot of causes, there was nothing to help shelter the homeless. And their presence, under the rain-shielding viaduct was, it's fair to say, anything but a secret. 

Lastly, one for the strange bedfellows file. As the AP reports, immigrant-rights' groups are teaming with Washington farmers to curtail E-Verify, the internet program that confirms an individual's eligibility to work in the United States. "Backers have lined up a formidable coalition of farmers, immigrant groups, labor and religious groups, while other key interest groups in Olympia, including business organizations, have chosen to remain neutral," the AP reports.      

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "WA university presidents: Obama wrong on tuition"

The Herald, "Election day registration plans worries auditors"

Seattle Times, "How much change would Washington's gay-marriage bill relly mean?"

Seattlepi.com, "State to homeless: No more sleeping under the viaduct"

Oregonian"Washington farmer, immigrant groups team up to support measure aiming to slow down spread of E-Verify"


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About the Authors & Contributors

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson

Peter Jackson is the former editorial-page editor of the Everett Herald. Follow him on Twitter @phardinjackson