Midday Scan: Is Frank Chopp the budget roadblock?

Rob McKenna takes after the Democratic Speaker, who says, No, he's not the problem. (But which of them spoke with the true Seattle accent?)

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Frank Chopp

Rob McKenna takes after the Democratic Speaker, who says, No, he's not the problem. (But which of them spoke with the true Seattle accent?)

Washington Speaker of the House Frank Chopp has the painter's brush mustache of a villainous KGB agent, circa 1974. Throw in a Soviet-bloc surname and a hyper-liberal Seattle constituency, and Speaker Chopp's nefariousness quickly comes into focus. Chopp and Chopp alone must be responsible for Olympia's budget impasse (just ask a fair and balanced Rob McKenna.)  

"Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna blasted Democratic House Speaker Frank Chopp on Monday, blaming him for the lack of progress in state budget negotiations," the Seattle Times' Andrew Garber writes."The comments came during a news conference on Monday, even though his campaign staff had said McKenna wasn't planning to insert himself into the heated budget negotiations that have been stalled for months."

Chopp took time from his daily intel cable to the Kremlin to respond. "Rob McKenna doesn't know what he's talking about. His statements about the budget process in Olympia aren't based in fact, and it's disappointing that his comments are motivated by his political campaign," Chopp said. Unless McKenna can work his own magic and move the process forward, the finger pointing could fall into the category of unhelpful partisanship.

The scramble is on to fill a ghost Congressional seat. You must be a U.S citizen, at least 25 years old, and pledge to wear clean clothes for at least five weeks (You also get to insert "Honorable" in front of your name. Mom would be proud.) 

"Gov. Christine Gregoire on Monday ordered a special election to fill a vacant U.S. House seat for only a month in a congressional district that has lately been radically redrawn," the Seattlepi.com reports. "The special election, which will cost $700,000, will fill what’s left of the term of Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., who quit his 1st District seat last month so that he could run full-time for Governor."

The clearest insight comes from Secretary of State Sam Reed. "Candidates will be allowed to run for both the short-term and the long-term: There is no requirement that a congressional candidate live within the district boundaries," Reed says. So, a candidate, even if he or she doesn't live in the old 1st district, can run for the remainder of Inslee's term and simultaneously run for a full term in the new district. There would be no service overlap (regrets to anyone hoping to emulate Huey Long.) 

Lock up the kids and take to the streets: King County now has a sheriff with a (gasp) pro-life political record. As Publicola's Erica Barnett writes, Steve Strachan, the former Kent police chief who was appointed to replace Sheriff Sue Rahr, sponsored two anti-choice bills while serving as a Republican legislator from Minnesota in the early 2000s. Barnett characterizes the bills as "two pieces of defiantly anti-woman legislation." The premise is that although the King County sheriff has zilch to do with abortion rights or access, an anti-choice record is implicitly anti-female. In the ultra-pro-choice Pacific Northwest, it's a provocative notion.    

The Seattle Times' Bob Young picks up the story, "Strachan said today his own views on abortion rights have changed. 'I've been on a personal journey' he said. 'My personal opinion has evolved over time. I consider myself pro-choice.' Strachan said he decided to 'get out of partisan politics because of those kinds of issues.' "

Damage at a Northwest refinery may have been more severe than previously reported. It's a timely narrative, throwing light on regional economic pressures just as Whatcom County considers building a major coal port (with its attendant boost to employment.)   

"There's more evidence that a big oil refinery in Northwest Washington will be out of service for a long time. Refinery owner BP says it's arranging for replacement fuel to be shipped to the region from as far away as Singapore," Tom Banse reports for public broadcasting. "An explosion and fire knocked the BP Cherry Point refinery offline in mid-February. The facility supplies about 20 percent of the gasoline used in Washington and Oregon. Repairs have not yet started due to an ongoing investigation."  

Lastly, what gives with the strong Seattle accent? Maybe it's the Ballard patois in "no, please, after you." And "pass the lefse, lady" is something any folklorist would pick up. Finally, someone has put a name to an accent. As King5.com reports, "Do people in Seattle speak with an accent? The answer seems pretty simple to most who live here." Natives tend to think there isn't any local accent. UW researchers differ, but say the origins need research.  

Link Summary

Seattle Times, "McKenna blames state budget stalemate on House speaker"

Seattlepi.com, "Gov. orders election in 'flying' 1st" 

Publicola, New King County Sheriff sponsored anti-choice bills"

Oregon Public Broadcasting, "BP to import fuel from Asia to cover Wash. refinery outage"

King5.com, "Is there a Seattle accent?"


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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