Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. The Seattle Times hasn't been able to get "stubborn" local political consultants to spend money on newspaper ads, so now they're reportedly trying to get money from consultants by demanding $500 every time a campaign uses the Seattle Times logo in mailers and ads, such as when an ad hypes and endorsement from the paper.

One local political consultant tells Fizz he's been getting hard-ball phone calls every day to pay for the use of the Times logo.

2. The Seattle Times reported this weekend that GOP gubernatorial candidate and Washington State AG, Rob McKenna, has taken $184,000 worth of trips  since becoming AG in 2005. The trips were legal, but raise questions about McKenna's judgment. 

The Times reports:

The free trips and events are allowed under state law as long as they're disclosed to the public, and McKenna said in an interview that his extracurricular activities have helped him develop relationships that benefit Washingtonians.

But an ethics expert said the extent of McKenna's free travel and events raises questions about the time he spends away from the office, particularly on trips paid for by political entities, and about the actual benefits the travel and events provide to the state.

"When you take an oath of office, you vow to put the public interest first," said Judy Nadler, former mayor of Santa Clara, Calif., and a senior fellow in government ethics at the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics at Santa Clara University.

McKenna, who is running as the Republican candidate for governor, accepted nearly three times as many privately paid trips and event tickets over the past seven years as his predecessor, Gov. Chris Gregoire, did during her last eight years as attorney general, according to the financial reports.

3. Protect Marriage Washington is debuting a new anti-gay marriage ad. The ad, which was put together by National Organization for Marriage, the D.C.-based anti-gay marriage group that has put about $1.3 million into the anti-R-74 campaign, is also running in Maine, Maryland, and Minnesota where gay marriage is also on the ballot next week.

The ad claims, quoting the Parker family case in Massachusetts, that legalizing gay marriage could mean schools may "teach that boys can marry boys" and that "same sex marriage could be taught in local schools"—and that parents will have no recourse.

Here's the Maryland version of the anti-gay marriage ad.

And here's a fact check on it that Washington United for Marriage—the pro-R-74 campaign put out:

AD: If gay marriage happens here, schools could teach that boys can marry boys.
 FACT CHECK: The marriage equality law passed in Washington has nothing to do with curriculum taught in schools.  The text of the legislation can be found here – it makes no mention of schools or curriculum.
 
 AD: After Massachusetts redefined marriage, local schools taught it to children in second grade, including the school our son attended.
 FACT CHECK: In 2004, gay and lesbian couples were granted the freedom to marry in Massachusetts as a result of a state Supreme Court decision. This decision had no effect on educational standards or other instructions to schools.
 
State educational policy on families was established five years earlier, long before marriage was legalized for same-sex couples in the state. In 1999, Massachusetts developed a  new Comprehensive Health Curriculum Framework that read, “Students will gain knowledge about the significance of the family on individuals and society.”
 
As the US Court of Appeals First District summarized: “In January 2005, when Jacob Parker (‘Jacob’) was in kindergarten, he brought home a ‘Diversity Book Bag.’ This included a picture book, Who's in a Family?, which depicted different families, including single-parent families, an extended family, interracial families, animal families, a family without children, and -- to the concern of the Parkers -- a family with two dads and a family with two moms. The book concludes by answering the question, ‘Who's in a family?’: ‘The people who love you the most!’  The book says nothing about marriage.”
 
AD: Courts ruled parents had no right to take their children out of class or to even be informed when this instruction was going to take place.
 FACT CHECK: As a United States Court of Appeals ruled: “Massachusetts does have a statute that requires parents be given notice and the opportunity to exempt their children from curriculum which primarily involves human sexual education or human sexuality issues. Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 71, § 32A. The school system has declined to apply this statutory exemption to these plaintiffs on the basis that the materials do not primarily involve human sexual education or human sexuality issues.”
 
The Boston Globe reported that parents in the Parkers’ school did get notification: “Rachel Cortez, president of the school’s parent-teacher association, said … parents are given a chance to examine the books during a back-to-school night event early in the school year.”
 
AD: If marriage is redefined in Washington, same sex marriage could be taught in local schools, just as it was in Massachusetts. Don't make the same mistake and think that gay marriage won't affect you.
FACT CHECK: The marriage equality law passed in Washington has nothing to do with curriculum taught in schools. As noted above, the curriculum taught in Massachusetts Public Schools was completely unrelated to the court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

As we reported last week—when some of the same anti-gay marriage scare rhetoric showed up on GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna's official blog—state Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Seattle), the sponsor of the gay marriage law noted that the only thing the state has done around K-12 curriculum regarding gays and lesbians is to pass an anti-bullying bill in 2011 that said "minority students shouldn't get beat up."

4.  It's not just education funding that'll need a boost when the legislature convenes next year. The state may have to step in again to help Wenatchee.

Remember how the legislature considered bailing out Wenatchee last year after its convention center, the Toyota Center, went belly up.

(It was extra-news worthy because it forced a series of hypocritical contortions from Wenatchee state Rep. Mike Armstrong, R-12, Wenatchee; he wanted the state bailout Wenatchee even though he also championed the stick-it-to-Seattle provision on Seattle's gold-plated tunnel. And then he voted against the bailout because it came with a voter-approval provision on raising taxes, which he was against—even though he's a staunch Eyman-initiative supporter—because the provision took away the flexibility of government.)

Anyway, after all that—a proposed $42 million state bailout that ultimately failed in the state senate—the Wall Street Journal just listed Wenatchee as one of "13 U.S. Cities Going Broke":

In December 2011, the Greater Wenatchee Public Facilities District defaulted on $42 million of debt associated with the Town Toyota Center, a multipurpose arena. In order to help pay off that debt, the city imposed a 0.2% regional sales tax in July 2012. Bonds also went on sale in September to further alleviate the debt. Despite these plans, Moody’s noted in its May downgrade that any long-term plan to pay off the city’s debt “would further stress city finances … operational flexibility and ability to invest in infrastructure.” Moody’s also pointed out the city faces financial risk associated with litigation following the arena’s default.