1. Democrats have made a big deal about dissident Democrat senator Rodney Tom's (D-48, Bellevue) decision to put Republican state senator Randi Becker (R-2, Eatonville) in charge of the health care committee. (Tom, of course, has joined with the GOP—displacing the Democratic majority and making himself senate majority leader.)
The Democrats' point? Far from being moderate, Tom's "Majority Coalition" caucus puts partisan ideologues in charge of important issues. Not only is Becker an anti-choice Republican (undermining Tom's claim that his third-way caucus won't roll back the clock on social issues), but Democrats have pointed out that Becker voted against a bill to institute Obamacare; her health care committee is now charged with getting the program up and running.
Their claim is half true.
Becker, in fact, defied her party in a 32-16 2011 vote with other moderate Republicans, crossing over and supporting a bill that authorized the health care exchange in Washington state. The Democrats, however, point to a second bill, passed last year, that began to define guidelines for insurers to participate in the exchange—essentially making sure they weren't cherry picking by leaving high risk patients to the exchange.
We have a message in to Becker to hear why she voted against the follow-up bill, but in general, Republicans are concerned about the Medicaid expansion aspect of the Affordable Care Act. Federal funding for the expanded care—which will bump Washington state's commitment from serving about 50,000 low-income participants to more than 300,000—will drop from full funding to 90 percent in 2015. Republicans are wary of picking up the remaining 10 percent tab for the dramatically increased number of recipients of subsidized care.
Nate Silver predicted that the Seahawks would end up in this year's Super Bowl.
2. Speaking on ESPN yesterday, wunderkind presidential prognosticator Nate Silver predicted that the Seahawks would end up in this year's Super Bowl, facing off against the New England Patriots.
Although Silver said the Seahawks aren't the best team in the league based on wins and losses, he added, "The point differential is often a better predictor going forward than just the wins and losses about how well a team will do."
Silver, of course, accurately predicted the outcome of the presidential election in all 50 states in November.
3. Mystery man Gary Glouner, a Microsoft attorney, is the subject of a Facebook page titled "Draft Gary Glouner for Mayor." The mystery man's page currently has 10 "likes."
Fizz couldn't reach Glouner, but we did reach the anonymous fellow who started the page.
He told us, blandly: "I am a friend of Gary's and have been trying to convince him to run for mayor for at least a month. I started the Facebook page as a way to encourage a few of our mutual friends to show their support for a potential candidacy. I believe that Gary possesses the leadership qualities and bold ideas that this city requires right now."
"All I can do is continue to harp on him."
Glouner's friend added: "In the end, however, it's of course Gary's decision. All I can do is continue to harp on him."
4. Student walkouts are pretty common at Seattle's politically active Garfield High School. But yesterday, the teachers shut things down.
In a protest against the district's standardized test for 9th graders, the Measure of Academic Progress (MAP), an overwhelming majority of teachers at GHS announced yesterday they were refusing to administer the test because they believe it's flawed.
MAP is part of the education reform movement's emphasis on grading teachers themselves, and the results are used as part of teacher evaluations.
The teachers say they support testing, but believe MAP doesn't do a good job measuring learning. They point to the district's own finding that the the margin of error on MAP is greater than an individual student’s expected score increase.
The students, perhaps not surprisingly, supported the move. “We really think our teachers are making the right decision,” said student body president Obadiah Stephens-Terry. “I know when I took the test, it didn’t seem relevant to what we were studying in class—and we have great classes here at Garfield. I know students who just go through the motions when taking the test, did it as quickly as possible so that they could do something more useful with their time.”