Midday Scan: Reardon's romantic escapades; Budget miracles; How to use the Internet better

How Snohomish County funded Reardon's glamorous affair; Republicans and Democrats perform the impossible - agreeing on something; and tips on making better use of your time on the Internet. (Hint: It's not looking at YouTube videos.)

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House Republican Leader John Boehner

How Snohomish County funded Reardon's glamorous affair; Republicans and Democrats perform the impossible - agreeing on something; and tips on making better use of your time on the Internet. (Hint: It's not looking at YouTube videos.)

Imagine the romantic adventures you could have, if only you had a county budget at your disposal. Aaron Reardon had such luck when he pursued an affair with county social worker Tamara Dutton, reports Seattle Times writer Emily Heffter. Going to places under the guise of "business trips," Reardon and Dutton went on ritzy vacations, spending most of their time in fancy hotels and touring cities.

In Chicago, Reardon dodged a Democratic Leadership Council conference by, of all things, faking a headache, according to Dutton. (This beckons the question: What lame excuses did he come up with to miss school when he was younger?) As if that weren't enough, Reardon used county minutes, which weren't unlimited, to talk to Dutton for hours on end, about "anything and everything," Dutton said.

Had he not been under investigation, one could only imagine what extravagent romantic trip Reardon would have gone on yesterday, St. Valentine's Day.

The impossible is happening in Eatonville School District: a school levy is failing. The levy was the only one failing out of seven in Pierce County school districts, reports News Tribune's Debbie Cafazzo. Some speculate that some no votes may have come from the community's displeasure with the proposed four-day school week. (And certainly, this would be a better explanation than "Eatonvillans hate school," though who knows.)

As a resident of rural south Pierce County, where tax hate is on high these days, this writer is hardly surprised. Especially with the area's flailing economy and distinct lack of jobs.

In what could result in good news for budget (for once), the Washington State Senate has approved a resolution to make a constitutional amendement that would make — shock! — balancing the budget a legal requirement, reports Seattle Times' Andrew Garber.

In a perpetual budget shortfall — which this year is $1.5 billion — the Legislature has received a lot of criticism, but Sen. Jim Kastama (D-Puyallup) said he wants to change public perception and show everyone that they are serious about managing money responsibly. How the resolution will fare in the House, though, no one is sure, Garber writes.

Why balancing the budget is not already a legal requirement, and why it is perfectly legal to pay for everything with borrowed money, remains a mystery.

Another budget-related miracle is happening in the U.S. Congress: Democrats and Republicans came to a tentative agreement on the payroll tax reduction, which would affect 160 million working Americans, reports New York Times' Jennifer Steinhauer.

Though Democrats have been fighting zealously for the payroll tax, the agreement is a bigger win for Republicans during the election year. Steinhauer reports that by agreeing to the deal, Republicans are effectively removing the "hammer from the hands of President Obama and Congressional Democrats, depriving them of the ability to keep pounding on the idea that Republicans were resistant to tax cuts for the middle class."

Steinhauer also notes that this can be seen as a change in leadership for Speaker John A. Boehner, who now seems more concerned with retaining Republican leadership than pleasing the most conservative corner of House members. In any case, this hopefully concludes a very long and tiresome, back-and-forth battle. Maybe there is a light at the end of the budgetary tunnel, after all.

Do you spend hours every day scrolling through cat pictures on the internet? Or maybe you're more intellectual than that, but still find yourself infinitely distracted by the internet. Either way, if you've ever thought about disconnecting completely and moving into a cave in the Cascades, The Atlantic may have a better option for you. According to an article  by writer Alexandra Samuel, the answer may not be unplugging entirely, but simply "plugging in better."

Samuel goes over five things to avoid in the digital world: distraction, "Fear of Missing out" (or FOMO), disconnection from other people, information overload, and superficial coverage. Samuel's solution is to be more deliberate and focused with your time online. Pare away the unnecessaries.

If you are reading this, chances are that you don't need this advice: Crosscut is a valuable use of your digital time, neither distracting nor shallow, but deep, insightful, and useful.

Seattle Times, "Documents bolster claim of Reardon misconduct"

News Tribune, "Seven Pierce Districts' levies are passing; Eatonville's is failing"

Seattle Times, "State Senate endorses proposed balanced-budget amendment"

New York Times, "Tentative Deal Reached to Preserve Cut in Payroll Tax"

The Atlantic, "'Plug in better': A Manifesto"


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