"Would You Have Done Things Differently?"

By Morning Fizz December 16, 2010

1. Last year, we reported that the city's department of fleets and facilities had decided to get rid of the menorah and Kwanzaa kinara (a seven-candle candleabra) that had previously sat in the lobby alongside the traditional Christmas tree. At the time, then-department director Brenda Bauer told PubliCola that the city wanted to avoid "controversy" during a year that was marked by city layoffs and furloughs. The 15-foot tree in the middle of the lobby, unlike the menorah and kinara, was a "holiday tree," not a "religious symbol," Bauer told us.

Katherine Schubert-Knapp, spokeswoman for the city's department of finance and administrative services (which absorbed Fleets this year) explains why the other holiday decorations have re-materialized: "With the new director, [Fred Podesta,] the decision was made to display these items in the lobby as had been done in previous years (last year was the exception). These symbols are presented to highlight how many residents of Seattle mark their winter holidays."

2. Gov. Chris Gregoire has made it clear that she doesn't support her own budget proposal, explaining, "It reflects the desire of the public to balance the budget with all cuts and no new revenue,"—a bitter reference to the fact that voters repealed the tax increases passed by the legislature last session and approved a Tim Eyman initiative that prohibits tax increases without a two-thirds majority, ballot initiatives that Gregoire opposed in November.

In an interview with Gregoire on KING 5 yesterday, Robert Mak asks if the problem isn't actually her fault because she "spent too much in the good times" and asks "would you have done things differently?"

Fizz has never seen a politician come closer to saying "fuck you" on the air then this moment.

Gregoire begins: "You know, I want to talk about where we spent, because I listen to this all the time, Robert." A must watch. She also talks about Tim Eyman.

3. Sarah Schacht, head of Knowledge as Power, a non-profit that monitors legislation in Olympia, says the special session budget bill—which cut about $500 million from human services, education funding, environmental protections, public safety, and government operations million—was passed without proper public notice and transparency.

She blogs about it here, noting that the bill was not posted to the public until 11 AM on Saturday, even though the house ways and means committee began voting on the bill an hour earlier.

Schacht writes:
It’s shocking that Washington State leaders could make such significant cuts ... without public oversight and transparency. It’s shameful that such significant budget items will affect millions of Washingtonians who had no opportunity to weigh in on the policy.

4. A few groups released their reactions to Gregoire's slash-and-burn budget proposal after we'd already posted a batch of statements from advocacy groups yesterday.

Here's a statement that came in from the Washington Education Association, the teachers' union, which puts the governor's proposed cuts in the context of previous hits to the education budget:
“With these education cuts, we will be unable to provide the well-rounded education our students deserve – and our state needs – for a successful future. The kids in school today won’t get a second chance at a good education. They can’t wait for the recession to end. We have to plan for the future, and that means providing our students with the best schools we possibly can, right now.

“There is no way around it. We have to recognize that these cuts in K-12 and higher education funding will harm our state and our students. These cuts jeopardize Washington’s future.”

The school funding numbers:

$2 billion: Education funding cuts for 2011-13, proposed Dec. 15 by Gov. Gregoire
$311 million: Education funding cuts approved Dec. 11

$2 billion-plus: Education funding cuts already made in the current 2009-11 biennium.
3,684: Reduction in state-funded K-12 educators this biennium (so far)
1,500: Additional reduction in state-funded K-12 educators (approved Dec. 11)
4 years: Length of time educators will go without the voter-approved COLA
3: Teacher work days already eliminated (almost a 2 percent pay cut)

5. It seems worth repeating the news (first reported on PubliCola yesterday) that Republican U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert broke with his party and voted with the Democrats to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell; particularly because, as of this posting, Reichert doesn't even get a mention in today's wire story about the vote in the Seattle Times. And contrary to what we reported yesterday, the repeal may actually have a chance to pass the senate.

6. PubliCola presents the ultimate tunnel debate. McGinn vs. Rasmussen. O'Brien vs.  Ed Murray.  Essex Porter moderates. Tonight. City Hall (600 Fourth Ave.) at 7 pm.
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