1. Oregon voters approved an income tax hike on people making more than $250,000 and an increase in the corporate tax rate yesterday. The Oregon state legislature originally passed the measures last year, but they were forced to go to a vote of the people this year by business groups that opposed it.

The taxes are expected to raise about $730 million for their current budget.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, who has said she may raise taxes to deal with Washington's $2.6 billion budget shortfall, jumped on the news, releasing the following statement this morning:
“Oregon voters met the challenge of these difficult times and clearly said that schools, healthcare, public safety and other essential services cannot be forsaken. It is gratifying to see that the public understands the importance of preserving services to the most needy and providing education to the next generation—especially now when those efforts are most needed.”

Last night, the news from Oregon earned a Facebook shout out from Service Employees International Union 775 leader David Rolf, who proclaimed: "Hope Lives."



Rolf's union, which represents home care workers whose health care is getting slashed in this year's budget, is financially backing a coalition of liberal groups that are lobbying the legislature to raise taxes this year to preserve things like higher education, low-income housing programs, senior health care, and the basic health plan.

[Full disclosure, PubliCola national politics opinion columnist Sandeep Kaushik, is the spokesperson for the pro taxes group. Kaushik co-founded PubliCola last January and has no editorial say in our news coverage.]

2. Children's Hospital and residents of Laurelhurst may be nearing an agreement in the ongoing dispute about the hospital's expansion plans in the neighborhood.

The Laurelhurst Community Club has spent much of the past three years fighting the hospital's expansion plans, arguing that the hospital would create excessive noise and traffic havoc in the neighborhood, which is not designated an urban center or urban village. They've also claimed that the hospital has exaggerated the number of additional beds it needs. Last year, a city hearing examiner agreed with the neighborhood group's claims, denying the hospital's petition to expand. Children's subsequently appealed that decision to the city council, which has the right to overturn hearing examiner decisions.

The council was supposed to take up the hospital's appeal today. However, both LCC and Children's asked for a two-week delay last week, indicating that they may be close to reaching a deal. Because the hearing is a quasi-judicial matter—meaning that the council will be acting as the equivalent of judges—council members can't talk about what sort of discussions are taking place, and no public testimony will be allowed at the hearing, now scheduled for February 10.

3. Yesterday afternoon, we reported that Patricia Lee Smith, the Seattle Times' VP of New Media—meaning their online stuff—announced she's leaving to go work for AllRecipes.com.

Here's the email that Seattle Times President and CEO Carolyn Kelly sent to staff about Smith's departure:
Patricia Lee Smith has accepted a new position as Vice-President International with AllRecipes.com. Her last day with us will be February 12th. Plee has been at the Times for 12 years and has done a terrific job as VP New Media for the past 2 years; her ability to think strategically and tie tactics to the vision will be greatly missed. She leaves in place an outstanding team who I’m confident will carry on in the interim. Within the next few days we’ll figure out what that interim plan will look like..

In the moment, please join me in thanking Plee for the outstanding work she has done here and wishing her well in her new position. As I told her, we’ll miss her as a colleague but will think of her as an ambassador!

4. PubliCola's Glenn Fleishman will be posting live today from Apple's big announcement in San Francisco. Spoiler alert: He's underwhelmed by all the tablet hype.

5. A group of anonymous city employees have started a web site to protest Mayor Mike McGinn's plans to eliminate or reclassify 200 managerial and strategic advisor positions at the city. In an email, one of the employees said, "While the Mayor may have the weight of the office and a well worn political applause line as his justification for these proposed layoffs, we have the facts – and they don't support his rationale or actions for this attack on dedicated civil servants."

Many of the jobs McGinn is targeting as "political appointments" by former mayor Greg Nickels, the group says, were reclassifications of jobs that existed long before Nickels came into office. "This is ... a campaign promise based on misinformation," the web site claims.

6. This week marked PubliCola's one-year anniversary. We’re celebrating with the Washington Bus at the Crocodile in Belltown tonight. Watch the State of the Union with us at 6, then check out live performances by CMYK, Song Sparrow Research, and THEESatisfaction.

See you tonight.