Morning Fizz

"Witness the Anger"

By Morning Fizz March 21, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

Teachers' union members urge stand-in cutout of state Sen. Steve Hobbs to vote against state takeover of school employees' health plan.

1. A teachers' rally at the Glacier Peak High School gym in Snohomish last night to support the union's pick for governor, Democrat Jay Inslee, turned into a rally against state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens). "We really hammered Hobbs," local Washington Education Association leader Jared Kink said.

A thousand teachers showed up at the rally—one of many WEA rallies statewide this week—as the legislature considers a bill that would merge the WEA health plan into the state's plan; the state says the move will create efficiencies, create accountability, and lower costs. The union complains that the move will increase employee costs and scale back benefits. Most of all, Kink says, "we're worried about becoming another Wisconsin or Ohio" because, according to Kink, the plan "takes away local collective bargaining rights." The plan creates a state panel that would shop for an insurer and negotiate benefits as opposed to the current setup, where unions shop for plans and bargain coverage district by district.[pullquote]"We're worried about becoming another Wisconsin or Ohio."—Everett School District union leader Jared Kink[/pullquote]

Conservative Democrat Hobbs, along with Republican budget leader Sen. Joe Zarelli (R-18, Ridgefield) has made the changeover a key component of any budget deal. The legislation
is also supported by liberal Democrat and health care leader Sen. Karen Keiser (D-33, Des Moines); there's a WEA rally in her district tonight.

Eight local state legislators were at the gym last night—"we wanted them to witness the anger," Kink says— and all told the crowd they were all against the legislation. Hobbs was invited, but did not show up. Kink hauled out a life-size cutout of Hobbs to join the other legislators and the crowd erupted into laughs and boos.

A few hours before the rally, Hobbs' campaign spokesman Jim Kainber told PubliCola the rally wasn't on the campaign's radar. (Hobbs is running for US Congress.) Hobbs' state senate office, however, was aware of the event, but Hobbs was on Washington Army National Guard duty until 6 pm last night.

2. State Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland) denied rumors that he's dropping out of the 1st Congressional District race to replace Jay Inslee (whose leaving US congress to run for governor). Sort of.

Goodman told PubliCola yesterday, "it's full steam ahead," adding, "for now. We may come to a fork in the road, we're crunching the numbers now. I don't know."[pullquote]"The entry of a millionaire [Suzan DelBene] changes the complexion of the race. We'll see how it plays out. It's an uphill climb."—1st Congressional District candidate, state Rep. Roger Goodman.[/pullquote]

Goodman, who has raised a respectable $209,000 (but only has $53,000 cash on hand), says the revamped district which was redistricted to bring in more rural and conservative turf in Snohomish and Whatcom Counties—plus "the entry of a millionaire [Suzan DelBene] changes the complexion of the race. We'll see how it plays out."

Goodman says he'd been expecting to run in the Seattle suburbs, but with rural turf such as Ferndale and Granite Falls in the mix he says, "it's an uphill climb."

He groused that DelBene and another new high profile candidate Darcy Burner were free to campaign, while he was stuck in the extended legislative session. He also fretted that fundraising wasn't going well with so many candidates in the race competing for the same cash "money is frozen." Goodman said fundraising has been "anemic" this quarter. In addition to Burner and DelBene, the field includes three other Democrats—state Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), Laura Ruderman, and Darshan Rauniyar.

Goodman complained millionaire DelBene, who donated $2.3 million of her own money the last time she ran, had "a big advantage" as the rest of the candidates battled over the same pool of Democratic donors. We published a look at the candidates' fundraising reports yesterday.

3. Transit advocates are hoping to revive legislation that would give cities and counties additional local authority to fund transit during the special legislative session that's currently underway in Olympia. The bill would give counties the authority to put a local-option motor vehicle excise tax to pay for transit on the ballot, and would give small cities the authority to pass a vehicle license fee of up to $40. It would also give Seattle the authority to pass a one-cent local option fuel tax. Gov. Chris Gregoire is reportedly  pushing legislators to move on the bill.

4. Progressive Majority Director Noel Frame's announcement
that she's jumping into the race for retiring state Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's (D-36, Ballard) seat opened some old wounds in Olympia yesterday. As director at Progressive Majority, Frame played a big role in backing liberal state Sen. Nick Harper's (D-38, Everett) 2010 campaign to unseat then conservative Democratic incumbent Jean Berkey. Democrats in Olympia are still smarting over the intramural bloodshed which also blew up into a campaign finance scandal when progressive Democratic consultant Moxie Media did an independent expenditure on behalf of Harper—a faux Republican ad that criticized Berkey for raising taxes.

Democratic leadership was angry about the anti-taxes hit because unions, who reportedly backed it, were the same ones who urged Democrats to raise taxes.

It's a chapter many Democrats would like to forget, and one that still raises blood pressure in the caucus. It may not have helped matters that Frame got an early endorsement from Harper himself and that her consulting firm is Moxie Media.

In other behind-the-scenes drama involving the 36th District race (Queen Anne, Ballard, Magnolia), Fizz heard that Frame, 31-going-on-32, was trying to talk another young woman, Seattle City Council member Mike O'Brien aide Sahar Fathi, out of jumping in as well.This morning, however, Fathi announced that she's running.

The race already features two other declared candidates besides Frame—Seattle Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton and Phinney Ridge nonprofit fund-raiser Nick Cail. Meanwhile, King County Council member Larry Phillips' son, Brett Phillips, is also thinking of running for the seat.

We have a message in to Fathi, but Frame herself candidly shot down the rumor, saying in fact, she met with Fathi a couple of weeks ago to tell her she wouldn't be trying to talk her out of running, has touched base with her since to share what she knew about "how things are shaking out," and said she respects Fathi's "own decision making process" adding, "I like her personally. She has a great profile."

Framing herself as the social justice candidate in her statement this morning, Fathi, a 28-year-old attorney and daughter of Iranian immigrants, said:
I will be a bold, creative leader for the 36th and for our state. I believe we all prosper when everyone is working, when our schools teach to every child and every child graduates. Our economy will be stronger if every family can afford a college education. We are all healthier when everyone can see a doctor and when we all live in safe communities. I will fight for the issues that have the greatest impact on poor and working people because I believe it is the surest way to put everyone in Washington on the path to prosperity.

5. Cross two people off the  list of candidates that were running for state Rep. Zack Hudgins (D-11, S. Seattle, Renton) seat: Holly Krejci, an aide to city council member Sally Bagshaw, has decided not to run and Renton school teacher Steven Bergquist has switched races. Hudgins' seat had been open, but Hudgins jumped out of the secretary of state race and back into the contest for his own seat where the only other candidate is now 11th District Executive Board member James Flynn who's raised just $4,700.

Bergquist is now running for the open seat in Position 2 (incumbent Rep. Bob Hasegawa is running for senate) against Seattle Port Commissioner Rob Holland, dentist Bobby Virk, and Stephanie Bowman, Executive Director of the Washington Asset Building Coalition, a non-profit that helps low-income people with homeownership, starting businesses, and fighting foreclosure.

In a letter to Krejci's supporters, Vulcan lobbyist Dan McGrady wrote, "Holly made the difficult decision to do what's both right for the district, the party, and for her.  She is choosing to wait for another time to run for elected office."

Seattle Times reporter Andrew Garber has a good summary of a main sticking point in the budget talks in Olympia: The GOP demand to scale back state worker pension plans by getting rid of the early retirement option for new employees.
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