1. At a debate in front of the Skagit Business Alliance in Burlington last night, Republican 1st US Congressional District candidate John Koster had one of those videotape moments.
Asked about immigration policy, an important issue for Skagit County's farming economy, Koster (after giving a non-answer about the DREAM Act by saying only that he didn't like the way President Obama took unilateral action) compared illegal immigrants to cattle and talked about digital tracking.
Here's what Koster, who's running against Democrat Suzan DelBene, said:
We need a path to citizenship. For those people who are here illegally, go back and come through a system. ...If we can track cattle with chips, we can certainly provide a way for citizens to go through a process to be legal in this country.
We talk about E-Verify for, one of the biggest problem for farmers, if you understand farm handling, they’re going to have twenty workers in the field today, they’re going to have twenty tomorrow too, but they may not be the same twenty. So the question is, how do you verify that? How do you do that simply? Well, you know what? Technology, imagine that. Technology.
Why can’t we use QR codes on the back of an identification card, and every farm, just about everybody carries one of those phones, you can put an app and a QR code, and I know instantly whether that person’s here illegally or not, and I know who they are.
And here's the videotape.
2. Beware the live mike: As Mayor Mike McGinn wrapped up his budget speech yesterday and was escorted off the city council dais, an open mike caught city council member Tim Burgess---one of two potential council members who may run for McGinn's job next year---stage-whispering jokingly to his council colleague Mike O'Brien, "That was a good campaign speech."
Ironically, council president Sally Clark had just warned members before the speech that even though they were "at ease" while McGinn made his way down to chambers, "your mikes are still on."
3. King County Executive Dow Constantine sent the King County Council a $684 million budget yesterday—increasing in the size of the county's general fund by just 1 percent (as opposed to the healthier three percent growth in Seattle's city budget).
The strain on resources at the county was clear: Constantine's proposal included a $20 fee on vehicles licensed in unincorporated areas of the county to pay for road maintenance in those areas---raising $4 million a year against what Constantine called a $50 million annual shortfall in rural road maintenance funding.
The budget proposal also includes "bridge funding" for preventive health-care services to prevent tobacco use and obesity, higher fees for surface water management in rural King County to pay for stormwater control, and cuts to energy use in county buildings.
4. Yesterday, SEIU 1199, the nurses and health care worker union, endorsed Noel Frame, the Progressive Majority director who's running against Seattle Port Commissioner Gael Tarleton for retiring state house Rep. Mary Lou Dickerson's open seat in the 36th District (Ballard, Queen Anne).
Frame has already picked up most of the key labor endorsements—the Washington State Labor Council, SEIU 775, the UFCW, and the teachers' union along with most of progressive groups in town: FUSE, the Sierra Club, the Washington Bus, and OneAmerica.
Tarleton has been endorsed by The Seattle Times, the National Women's Political Caucus, Rep. Dickerson herself, plus a couple of unions: Seattle Firefighters Local 27 and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union Local 19.
Tarleton also got the nod last week from Graduate Washington, the newly-formed higher education advocacy group (a sort of offshoot of the UW's student government group, the Associated Students of UW.)