Morning Fizz

Competing Narratives

By Morning Fizz May 24, 2011

1. Ousted KUOW weather forecaster (and apparent education pundit) is lighting up the UW professor listserv.

Yesterday, in his latest email to colleagues, after recounting his belief that host Steve Scher "never fulfilled his promise" to let Mass talk about education issues on a separate program, he ends with a threat to push UW to retaliate against the station with stricter oversight: [pullquote]"I believe I experienced the result of this trend and it is one that we should not ignore. KUOW is important to the mission of the UW and requires our active attention."—Cliff Mass[/pullquote]
I believe the actions of Weekday have been directly counter to our values. I think the faculty and the University have followed a hands-off policy with KUOW and as a result it has drifted. Some KUOW program hosts secure multi-decadal tenure with individual programs and appear to believe the programs are theirs, reflecting their values and interests, rather than serving the community and the UW. I believe I experienced the result of this trend and it is one that we should not ignore. KUOW is important to the mission of the UW and requires our active attention.

2. Fizz had anticipated a quick appeal of King County Superior Court Judge Laura Gene Midduagh's decision to send Referendum 1, the tunnel ballot measure, to voters. Council President Richard Conlin even noted during yesterday's council vote on the referendum that an appeal was in play.

However, contacted by Fizz, the pro-tunnel legal camp says they haven't decided whether to appeal or not yet.

Meanwhile, watch for today's ThinkTank. We've got former Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce President Tayloe Washburn vs. Seattle Transit Blog blogger Ben Schiendelman with competing op/eds about the meaning of the pending vote.

3. Speaking of competing narratives: After the legislature passed the workers' comp reform bill yesterday (the bill allows older workers to go with settlements instead of ongoing coverage, which is estimated to save the fund $1.1 billion over four years), both Democratic and Republican legislators released statements.

Sen. Sharon Nelson (D-34, W. Seattle, Vashon), one of a handful of liberal senators who voted 'No' in the 32-12 senate side vote along with Sens. Maralyn Chase (D-32, Shoreline), Nick Harper (D-38, Everett), Karen Keiser (D-33, Kent), Adam Kline (D-37, S. Seattle), Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), and Scott White (D-46, N. Seattle), said:
This is supposed to be a workers’ compensation system—not an employers’ compensation system ... Under these types of settlement schemes, an injured worker who is struggling financially is pressured into accepting an insufficient settlement ... Proponents say this will save the system a billion dollars, but what that really means is that injured workers will be getting less benefits and medical care... These aren’t cost savings—they are cost shifts to injured workers...

On the house side, where the bill passed 69-26, also with a batch of liberals voting 'No', Republican house leader Rep. Richard DeBolt (R-20, Chehalis), said: "I think House Bill 2123 will begin to fix our broken workers’ compensation system, avoid double-digit rate increases and create an economic climate that gives employers the certainty they need to create jobs."

His Republican colleague Rep. Gary Condotta (R-12, East Wenatchee), the ranking Republican on the house labor committee, added: "This bill has the best interests of the workers in mind while protecting our employers from large increases in their workers’ compensation rates.”

While the legislation will certainly scale back employer payments to the fund, it will have no impact on the state budget itself—unless you count future pressure on health care costs.

Several Democrats broke ranks and voted yes, including: Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard), Reps. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) David Frockt (D-46, N. Seattle), Tami Green (D-28, Lakewood ), Laurie Jinkins (D-27, Tacoma), Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Capitol Hill), Speaker Frank Chopp (D-43, Capitol Hill).
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