Morning Fizz

Clearly and Repeatedly Said

By Morning Fizz April 24, 2012

Caffeinated News & Gossip. Your daily Morning Fizz.

1. Progressive State Rep. Marko Liias (D-32, Edmonds), a hardcore transit green and the lone 'No' vote on recent all-cuts state budgets, is endorsing Suzan DelBene in the crowded Democratic intramural in the US Congressional 1st District race today. The significance of the Liias endorsement? Liias was initially a DelBene rival in the pack of Democrats going for the open seat formerly occupied by Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jay Inslee.

His endorsement is also a snub at his state legislative colleague (and DelBene rival) Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens) and a boon for DelBene who's seen as a moderate Democrat in comparison to her top rival, Darcy Burner.

2. ArrivalStar, a European company that holds 34 US patents, all related to the idea of tracking transit vehicles in motion, sued King County Metro for patent infringement last year, effectively arguing that by telling people when buses are arriving, Metro was stealing its intellectual property. The company doesn't actually make anything or do anything with its patents; instead, it sues companies and transit agencies that it says infringe on those patents---a practice commonly known as patent trolling.

Given that Metro could soon be facing more service cuts, you might think they'd fight what looks, on the surface, like a pretty silly claim. Instead, Metro settled in October for $80,000---$80,000 in taxpayer money spent to settle a lawsuit over who came up with the idea of tracking buses. The transit agency would almost certainly have spent more money if it let the case go to trial. Extracting settlements, it turns out, is a cornerstone of ArrivalStar's business plan: Companies, and government agencies, would rather settle than risk losing in court (or financing a drawn-out legal battle); so far, according to a DC-based transportation and land use blog Greater Greater Washington, every transit agency ArrivalStar has sued has decided to settle instead of fight.

A Metro spokeswoman didn't immediately know how much ArrivalStar was seeking in its original lawsuit.

3. Identity politics is now officially part of 46th District (N. Seattle) candidate Sylvester Cann's campaign. (Cann, a former aide to late Sen. Scott White, is running against state Rep. Gerry Pollett, who was appointed over Cann and several others to fill White's seat.)

Cann, who's black, is holding a "Communities of Color Fundraiser" at Cherry Street Coffee House on April 30.

(The state legislature currently has just one black legislator, 37th District Rep. Eric Pettigrew. And with Sen. Margarita Prentice and Rep. Phyllis Gutierrez Kenney retiring, there are only eight members of color in the entire legislature).

The fundraiser is being hosted by a group of minority politicos, including King County Council member Larry Gossett, Cann's fellow minority legislative candidates, including Cyrus Habib, who's running on the Eastside in the 48th, and political consultants of color, like George Griffin.

36th District candidate (Ballard, Queen Anne) Sahar Fathi, daughter of Iranian immigrants, has been focusing on race in her campaign; at a candidate forum last week, she proposed doing racial impact statements and said public policy discussions needed to "do a better job bringing along people that look like me."

4. And in the governor's race, culture war politics are front-and-center, as the Democrats continue to corner GOP candidate Rob McKenna on the Republicans' weakness (according to recent polls): Falling support among women thanks to the party's recent escalation of anti-choice rhetoric and anti-choice legislation nationwide.

Focusing on failed pro-choice legislation here in Washington State—last session's Reproductive Parity Act, which said that any insurers providing maternity coverage must also cover abortions—the Washington State Democrats came out with this YouTube video today hyping Democratic candidate Jay Inslee's support of the RPA and accusing McKenna of being silent on the issue and on choice in general.

McKenna has, in fact, taken a position on choice. Here he is on KIRO TV earlier this year:
I'm like 80 percent of the people in this state. The voters made a decision to allow women to have the right to choose within certain parameters within a certain time frame ... because there are two lives involved. I think that when the child is conceived it's a life. Life begins at conception. I also recognize there's another life involved, the mother's. While my wife and I would encourage any women who possibly could to choose the baby, to carry the baby to term, it's her choice. And that's not only the way the law is, that's the way the law oughta be. Because that's what the people of the state have clearly and repeatedly said it ought to be. We created the basic right to choose well before Roe v. Wade was decided.

We have a message in to McKenna's camp to get his specific position on the Reproductive Parity Act.

5. At a press conference later this morning, former King County Sheriff's department spokesman John Urquhart will formally announce that he's running for sheriff against current sheriff Steve Strachan, who was appointed to the position by the county council to replace Sue Rahr, who left to lead the state's Criminal Justice Training Commission. Urquhart left his position as spokesman for the sheriff's office---where he was famous among reporters for his hilarious press releases---last year.
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