When an adulterous Boeing decided to pick up in search of corporate-headquarters' love in the windy city, the late writer and historian Walt Crowley had a pitch-perfect response. "Chicago, that old floozy," he said. The two-timing Big B's latest betrayal? A devoted Wichita.
"Barring some unexpected act of salvation, this is how Boeing leaves Wichita after eight decades as one of its biggest employers and most prestigious brands: in a trail of broken promises and bitter recriminations," the New York Times' A.G. Sulzberger writes.
The Wichita case is instructive. Northwest lawmakers cheered the decision because it's a jobs' windfall for Washington. Still, could Wichita foreshadow a similar scenario a couple decades from now when Boeing hightails it to Brazil or Singapore? Sulzberger writes, "For most of the country, this is just one more plant closing, just 2,160 more lost jobs in a Midwestern city — nothing particularly dramatic in these difficult times. But the exit has been another painful blow to the city of Wichita and the airplane manufacturing industry that has sustained it, the sudden reversal of fortune only adding to the feeling of betrayal."
Progressive corporations are alive and well in the Northwest. On the question of legalizing gay marriage, the private sector could be instrumental in persuading fence-sitting legislators. As the Seattle Times' Andrew Garber reports, Northwest heavyweights now endorsing marriage equality include Microsoft, Vulcan, Nike, RealNetworks, Group Health Cooperative, and Concur. In fact, Microsoft's position represents a policy reversal. "Microsoft created a flap in 2005 when it said it was neutral on the initial gay-rights legislation that later failed in the Senate by one vote. After heavy criticism, the company later changed its position and endorsed the legislation — which passed in 2006 — as well as subsequent domestic-partnerships bills," Garber writes.
For moderate, pro-business Republicans, Microsoft's imprimatur offers a pretext to break with social conservatives. Gay marriage isn't simply a question of human rights and equality (although that's reason enough for supporting the bill), it's also about jobs and drawing the creative class.
How close is Washington to legalizing gay marriage? In the state Senate, it comes down to one vote. The AP's Mike Baker writes, "Sen. Jim Kastama of Puyallup announced his decision to support gay marriage in a press conference Thursday, becoming the 24th senator to commit a vote to the measure. The state House is widely expected to have enough support to pass gay marriage, and Gov. Chris Gregoire publicly endorsed the proposal earlier this month."
The political nail-biter puts the onus on a handful of moderate Democrats. The Hamlets include Sens. Mary Margaret Haugen, Paull Shin, and Brian Hatfield.
Does anyone really like the idea of boosting the sales tax? Neither Rob McKenna nor Jay Inslee are fans. As the Seatte Times' Jim Brunner writes, McKenna is unequivocal in his opposition; Inslee unenthused and more equivocal. The revenue question is a useful primer on how both gubernatorial candidates approach policy priorities. How can Washington pay for education with a shrinking budget pie? McKenna hasn't ruled out tax increases, just not in the midst of "one of the deepest recessions" voters have experiended. For Inslee the focus is on "efficiencies" and tax loopholes. Brunner writes, "Inslee said he'll come out explicitly for or against the sales tax (assuming it gets sent to the ballot) after seeing whether the Legislature makes progress on the tax loopholes and government reforms."
Lastly, just when you thought the Red Scare was over (okay, it's been over for a long time) the legislature decides to revisit loyalty oaths and other relics of the Cold War. As Publicola's Erica Barnett reports, Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon's effort to put the kibosh on unconstitutional sedition laws from the 1950s is facing Republican blowback. Barnett writes, "According to Fitzgibbon, all the Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee voted against the bill. The committee’s Republican members are: Jay Rodne (R-5), Matt Shea (R-4), Bruce Chandler (R-15), Brad Klippert (R-8), Terry Nealey (R-16), and Ann Rivers (R-18)." Joe McCarthy and Albert Canwell must be looking down (or, more likely, looking up) and smiling.
New York Times, "Boeing Departure shakes Wichita's identity as Airplane Capital"
Seattle Times, "Microsoft, others endorse same-sex marriage legislation"
The News Tribune, "Puyallup senator pulls chamber within 1 vote of OK'ing gay marriage"
Seattle Times, "McKenna opposes sales tax boost; Inslee not sold either"