Morning Fizz

Creepy Looking

By Morning Fizz March 27, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

1. Washington State Sen. Michael Baumgartner (R-6, suburban Spokane), who's running against incumbent Democratic US Sen. Maria Cantwell, wrote a letter to state Democratic Party chair Dwight Pelz last week complaining that a "creepy-looking" staffer for the Democrats was following his wife around in the parking lot outside a campaign event. Staffers at the event called police to investigate the staffer, known as a "tracker."

"Last week one of your trackers went far across the line when he decided to harass my wife Eleanor and follow her in his truck as she walked through a dark parking lot at an event in Lakewood," Baumgartner's letter says. "It would be unacceptable for your operatives to do this to anyone, let alone a young mother, at night, going to fetch food for her infant son."

Baumgartner was speaking at the event---a meeting of the Lakewood Republican Women---when, he says, his wife ducked briefly outside only to be pursued by the Democratic Party's "tracker," a party employee hired to follow and tape the opposition in hopes of netting some good attack-ad fodder. An altercation followed, during which the videographer reportedly claimed he was assaulted.

"I get videotaped by the opposition quite frequently, which is certainly fair game and a part of the process, but it was a little upsetting for my wife to be followed around," Baumgartner tells PubliCola. He says he doesn't have his own "tracker" to follow Cantwell around.

2. The Seattle Times' Andrew Garber had a must-read (and funny) Q&A  late last week with Assistant State Treasurer Wolfgang Opitz about Gov. Chris Gregoire's magic budget solution—Gregoire found an extra $238 million in the local sales tax account (the portion of sales tax collections that goes back to local governments) to solve the $200 million budget problem.

The plan: Instead of holding that money in the local account until it's time to pay it out at the end of the month, hold it in the general fund to cover other budget obligations.[pullquote]If the money isn't being counted twice, why does the solution involve the permanent change of holding the money in the general fund for a month rather than immediately transferring it to the local account?[/pullquote]

The question reporters have been badgering the governor's office with ever since Gregoire announced her find is this: How can the money serve two purposes? That is, how can it both 1) Cover general fund obligations? and 2) be paid out to  locals?

Garber got pretty bogged down with Opitz looking for the answer. Here's how the Q&A ends:
Garber: I've decided this is all happening in a fourth dimension that cannot be perceived.

Opitz: "It kind of is, but kind of not. What you are trying to do in working this out is decide how much working capital you have to reserve to allow for liquidating those accruals you are going to create when you appropriate."

There is an answer, supposedly. As it was explained to us by the governor's spokeswoman Karina Shagren, the $238 million is "one-time" money; so, it's not an ongoing budgeting gimmick. Additionally, it's a reserve—locals are still kicking in sales tax revenue, so by the time the $238 million is spent, there'll be funds in the door to cover the local fund.


But our question is: If it's not a budgeting gimmick and the money isn't being counted twice, why does the solution involve the permanent change of holding the money in the general fund for a month rather than immediately transferring it to the local account?

"Good question," Shagren told me. I still haven't heard back.

3. With Gov. Gregoire in her final year in office the New York Times ran a story on Sunday about Washington State's female power trio—Gregoire plus Washington's US Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray.

In hyping Washington State's affinity for electing women, the article notes "Bertha K. Landes who, elected as mayor of Seattle in 1926, became the first female mayor of a major American city."

Germane footnote, though, that's missing from the story: Landes was the first and last woman to serve as mayor of Seattle. Her term ended in 1928—meaning it's been 84 years since a woman was mayor of Seattle.
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