Morning Fizz

Assessment

By Josh Feit February 13, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your Daily Morning Fizz.



1. It's already independent expenditures season at the national level as third party Super PACs spend cash on the presidential primaries—and now, it seems, at the local level, too. At least in South Seattle: The League of Education Voters is doing a mailing on behalf of state Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37, S. Seattle).

Pettigrew, first elected to the house 10 years ago, is a popular rep (he won his last race with 84 percent of the vote) and would hardly seem to need the help. But earlier this year, when he proposed a charter schools bill, the 37th District Democrats passed a resolution condemning charter schools.

Using a disarming picture of a forlorn little boy, the League has Pettigrew's back, hitting voters with mailers this week decrying the achievement gap in South Seattle—"At Rainier Beach High School, only half of students passed the 10th grade reading assessment" and thanking Pettigrew "for his leadership" and for saying "Enough!"

The League's mailer says Pettigrew has "a plan" and notes that he "has introduced two aggressive bills" "aimed at improving the quality of education."

The mailer doesn't tell voters what the specific plan is, though (the charter schools bill, along with another bill to strengthen teacher evaluations) because the word charters is anathema in liberal south Seattle.

However, with the League hyping him, Pettigrew is pushing forward with his bills. He told PubliCola last week, after his bill died in committee, that he was pushing for a "laboratory version" that would set up a limited charter test pilot exclusively in south Seattle. Pettigrew reportedly has gotten speaker of the house Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Wallinfgord) to consider the plan. That's because the education reforms have become key to securing a budget deal.

In the senate, a powerful contingent of moderate Democrats have allied with Republicans who support the bills. Democratic Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Bellevue) and Republican Sen. Steve Litzow (R-41, Mercer Island) are sponsoring companions to Pettigrew's bills, and have forced the Democratic leadership (including the governor, who's sworn against charters) to hold lengthy negotiation sessions over the bills this weekend in exchange for supporting the budget.

In fact, liberal senate ways & means chair, Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), is co-sponsoring the evaluation bill and resurrected both bills in his budget committee after the senate education committee chair Sen. Rosemary McAullife (D-1, Bothell) tabled them a week earlier.

The Public Disclosure Commission has not yet reported how much the League spent on its Pettigrew mailer, but the education reform group certainly owes Pettigrew for championing (successfully, it would seem) its agenda in Olympia.

TVW's Austin Jenkins did an excellent interview with Sens. Litzow and McAuliffe about the bills last week.[pullquote]If Seattle rejects this proposal, I will be offering an amendment to remove [local] preemption.—Rep. Gerry Pollet[/pullquote]

2. The lobbyist for the towing industry sent out a letter to legislators in Olympia this weekend threatening to kill a bill setting statewide caps on towing rates if Seattle gets a preemption clause to negotiate its own rates at the local level.

The letter from Stuart Halsan, lobbyist for the Towing and Recovery Association of Washington said:
If [Seattle ]Rep. [Gerry] Pollet removes the preemption language in the bill or carves out any special exception for Seattle, as you have asked him to do, then my Association will have no alternative but to strongly oppose the bill every step of the way.

And is recently-appointed Rep. Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle) planning to stand up for Seattle? Evidently not.

Thanks to headline-grabbing towing bills as high as $1,400, the towing industry was forced to agree to a cap. But taking advantage of those  outlier towing fees, the industry has suggested a sky-high statewide cap (125 percent of the state patrol's average towing fee). Seattle wanted to remove the preemption language (which preempted cities from negotiating their own rates) so they could bargain for a lower cap at the local level. But Pollet sent out a capitulating email to his house colleagues this weekend in response to the towing industry threat,  saying he was prepared to stand by the preemption language if Seattle didn't go with the towing industry offer—which is "only"  "$28 more" than what Seattle had been calling for, Pollet scoffed in his letter.

Pollet's threatening letter to his house colleague's stated (bolds and itals his):
If Seattle rejects this proposal, I will be offering an amendment to remove the restatement of preemption, and the industry will likely switch to opposing the bill.

3. Supporting a bill that would hold companies—not truckers–responsible for faulty trucks and cargo containers, hundreds of mostly immigrant drivers, who've been staging a massive work stoppage for three weeks now since members were harassed by management for testifying in favor of the bill, held a rally in Tukwilla this weekend hosted by Port Commissioner Rob Holland. (Also on hand to support the truckers: Democratic King County Council Members Joe McDermott and Larry Gossett and Seattle City Council Members Mike O'Brien and Bruce Harrell.)

While the bill is in limbo, the house did pass another bill this weekend, sponsored by labor Democrat Rep. Mike Sells (D-38, Everett), that would bring contract truckers' wages in line with employees' wages.

Another rally is scheduled this morning at Harbor Island.
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