Wednesday Scan: Charter school initiative rises from the dead; 520 workers drink on the job

Charter school advocates are channeling George Romero as they attempt to bring a thrice-shot down initiative to the ballot. Meanwhile, 520 bridge workers find inspiration in a 12-pack of brewskies.
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CenturyLink and Safeco Field could be joined by a sports arena.

Charter school advocates are channeling George Romero as they attempt to bring a thrice-shot down initiative to the ballot. Meanwhile, 520 bridge workers find inspiration in a 12-pack of brewskies.

Charter schools are a love that dare not speak its name (at least in genteel company or at Democratic district meetings.) Now Washington's charter school advocates, galvanized by George Romero's Night of the Living Dead, have risen again, hoping to elbow voters to revisit the issue and embrace reform. (Note that by the third or fourth sequel, the zombies usually win.) 

"Backers of charter schools filed an initiative to the people Tuesday that needs almost a quarter-million valid voter signatures by July 6 to qualify for the fall ballot. The move to file the ballot measure grew out of a failed effort to drive a limited charter schools measure through the Legislature, and it marks the fourth time Washington voters could be asked to weigh in on the issue – the last coming in 2004," the Olympian's Brad Shannon writes. "The coalition has no name yet but includes such reform groups as League of Education Voters, Stand for Children and Democrats for Education Reform."

The proposal, capped at 40 charter schools, doesn't sound especially radical, although opponents fear a slippery slope and will dig  in hard to defeat it. What's the endgame? If supporters manage to garner 300,000 signatures by July 6 (!) then perhaps there is voter appetite for something new. Just as likely, if the signature campaign craters, it could mark the beginning of a statewide grassroots campaign to push lawmakers in Olympia to give charters another shake.

There are certain people who shouldn't drink on the job (scribblers excepted, of course). These people include neurosurgeons, school bus drivers, and mohelim. What about 520-bridge workers? KOMO 4 Problem Solvers has a damning report that documents on-the-job imbibing at the headquarters of the 520 bridge replacement. The good news is it may not include the day-to-day work crew. The bad news is it includes the managers making all the decisions. 

Tracy Vedder reports, "We went to the project office at 3 p.m. on Friday looking for the boss. While we were waiting — to our amazement — we saw two workers walk in the front door, each carrying a 12-pack of beer. Neither man would talk to us, nor would a third who was identified only as a manager. When we told this third individual we'd seen numerous people drinking on the job, some while working on their computers, and asked how common that practice is, he would only say, 'I'm not commenting on any of that.'" 

The proposed Seattle arena is like a banquet that nearly everyone wants to attend, although no one wants to get hit with the tab. Give us the NBA, give us the NHL, but let that hedge-fund honcho with the Scandinavian surname pay for it all. Seattle and King County voters have long memories, it seems. 

"Seattle and King County voters generally have favorable responses to a proposed $490 million sports arena in Sodo — until the potential to spend taxpayer money on the project is raised, according to a poll released Tuesday," the Seattle Times' Lynn Thompson writes. "The Elway poll found that 63 percent of Seattle voters and 61 percent of King County (non-Seattle) voters surveyed said any new professional sports arena should be privately financed and that there should be no risk of any public money being needed to pay for the arena."  

Washington U.S. Rep. Adam Smith is getting pushback for his effort to update the Smith-Mundt Act of 1948. (Swig your java dear reader, it's a compelling issue.) The question revolves around how and if to update the Cold War act to keep public diplomacy in step with social media. The challenge is Smith-Mundt prohibits U.S propaganda that targets a domestic audience (No Voice of America for you, America!). Civil libertarians and human rights advocates, delighted by Smith's neck-extending leadership on Guantanamo Bay and indefinite military detention, don't yet know what to make of the proposed Smith-Mundt Act reforms.  

"Smith said the act, in its current form, prevents the U.S. government from combating anti-American propaganda posted by extremist groups online because the U.S. response could be viewed by audiences here," My Northwest's Brandi Kruse writes. "'If you put something out on the Internet or social media, even though it's intended for a foreign audience, it may well be viewed by a domestic audience because it's the Internet, it's everywhere,' Smith said." 

Lastly, why didn't voters elect Bill Bradley president in 2000? Was he too smart, too soporific, too tall? Bradley was in Seattle to promote his new book, We Can All Do Better. Bradley's theme revolves around the primacy of the rich and what to do about it. The's Joel Connelly has the story

Link Summary

The Olympian, "Fourth try: Coalition files initiative for charter schools"

KOMO TV, "Hidden camera shows 520 bridge workers drinking on the job"

Seattle Times, "Voters like Seattle arena idea, but not paying for it" 

My, "Rep. says outrage over propaganda bill 'dead wrong'", "Bill Bradley: The rich will rule until we do something about it"


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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