1. We got on the phone yesterday to get reactions from our congressional delegation in D.C. to Israel's lethal raid on the flotilla of aid ships bound for Gaza. We also contacted U.S. Senate candidate Dino Rossi.
So far, we have not gotten a response from anyone, including Rep. Brian Baird (D-WA., 3) who took an unsanctioned tour of Gaza in February 2009 in the wake of Israel's January invasion there. At the time, in a joint statement with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN, 5), the first Muslim U.S. Congressperson (also on the tour), Baird said, “The amount of physical destruction and the depth of human suffering here is staggering. What went on here, and what is continuing to go on, is shocking and troubling beyond words."
And calling on Israel to allow aid into Gaza, Baird and Ellison jointly added: “The arbitrary and unreasonable Israeli limitation on food and repair essentials is unacceptable and indefensible."
Baird's office did tell us yesterday they had gotten several media calls and Rep. Baird would have a statement soon. The only other semi-response we've gotten was from U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell's office, which told us, "she's trying to get more information about what happened."
President Obama's reaction has been notably restrained, while most countries have condemned the naval assault in harsh terms.
2. As the official recipient of all Mayor Mike McGinn anecdotes, this one came to us a little late, but still, it's totally worth reporting: Mayor McGinn showed up to a meeting of a certain city commission last month, where he'd been scheduled to speak. As soon as he walked into the room, he asked, "Where's the coffee?" The commission chair's sheepish response: "Well, Mr. Mayor—you cut our coffee budget."
McGinn has cut the "discretionary" budgets for every city board and commission, whose members serve voluntarily. The group ended up trooping out of the meeting to buy coffee at a nearby coffee shop.
3. The conservative Washington Policy Center posted a notable report on their education policy blog yesterday: Three Seattle schools—Cleveland High and Hawthorne and West Seattle Elementary—have drawn up a Memorandum of Understanding with the local teachers union allowing a pilot program using a dose of merit-pay and a teacher evaluation system that is tied to student achievement targets.
Ideas like merit pay and standardized teacher evaluations are typically anathema to the union.
4. While one candidate for U.S. Rep. Brian Baird's open seat in the 3rd Congressional District, state Sen. Craig Pridmore (D-49), withdrew from the race yesterday—another candidate, state Rep. Jaime Herrera (R-18), is holding her kickoff breakfast this morning in Vancouver.
Herrera has the nod from the GOP establishment. Her former boss, U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-5, WA), and former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton (R-WA), are featured guests at Herrera's event. Cola reporter Chris Kissel is there and will file a report later today.
Herrera has about $90,000 more cash on hand—according to the most recently available FEC reports—than her opponent in the de facto Republican primary, David Castillo, a financial adviser and former chief of staff for the state House GOP caucus. Castillo, who's angling for the Tea Party vote over Herrera's establishment cred, was also a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Department of Veteran Affairs under President George W. Bush.