Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. More must-watch video just in from Olympia: Yesterday's state senate environment committee hearing, where conservative chair Sen. Doug Ericksen (R-42, Ferndale) unwittingly seconded Sen. Kevin Ranker's (D-40, Orcas Island) motion to pass progressive Sen. Sharon Nelson's (D-34, Vashon) bill to ban toxic chemicals in kids' toys, one of the environmental community's top priorities.

"Oh, which one did you bring up?" Ericksen fumbles as Ranker pounces.

Ericksen's gaffe technically put the bill in play; watch Ericksen awkwardly shut the meeting down (with the help of ally to Republicans Sen. Tim Sheldon, D-35, Potlatch) over Ranker's angry demands for a roll call vote.

Fizz hears the senate Democrats are filing a formal complaint against Ericksen for flouting parliamentary rules.

2. Meanwhile, a meeting in Seattle last night went environmentalists' way (Erica previewed the showdown here) when neighbors who oppose Sound Transit's plans to build densely around the Broadway light rail station failed to unseat two pro-density members of the Capitol Hill Community council.

Here's a photo of the standing-room-only action at Cal Anderson Park Shelterhouse where the vote went two to one in favor of the urban game plan.


Last night's neighborhood meeting. Photo by Michael Seiwerath

3. Here's something Democrats and Republicans can agree on in Olympia—they're freaked out about drones. An ACLU-backed bill to set basic standards on the use of drones passed out of the house public safety committee yesterday with fat bipartisan support yesterday.

Here's something Democrats and Republicans can agree on in Olympia—they're freaked out about drones.

The bill, sponsored by super conservative Rep. David Taylor (R-15, Moxee) with super liberal co-sponsors such as Rep. Roger Goodman (D-45, Kirkland) on board, would A) require approval by a local legislature before a public agency can buy a drone (to facilitate public discussion, which didn't happen in Seattle); and B) define when drones can be used—such as in non-criminal emergencies like search and rescue situations, plus in criminal emergencies such as barricaded hostage situations—while mandating a warrant for other criminal justice uses. The bill also puts limits on a drone's ability to collect and store personal info—and no guns allowed.

There was only one 'no' vote yesterday: Seattle Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-37, S. Seattle). We've got a message in to Pettigrew to find out why.

UPDATE: Rep. Pettigrew says:

I think there are enough sideboards in the public and the courts to make sure that every increased use or purpose is scrutinized carefully before it goes in to effect.  This technology is no different than all other kinds of technology – helicopters, general surveillance, – that is already in use by law enforcement. There is no indication that this technology would be misused more than anything else we currently have.

4. An innovative bill that would allow big cities like Seattle to let the state investment board manage city retirement funds—Seattle's pension fund has gotten a 3.5 percent return on investment while the state has gotten a 6 percent return —got a hearing in the house appropriations committee yesterday.

Four Seattle-area reps including bill sponsor Rep. Reuven Carlyle (D-36, Queen Anne) and Reps. Jamie Pedersen (D-43, Captiol Hill), Gerry Pollet (D-46, N. Seattle), and Gael Tarleton (D-36, Ballard) are on board.

Seattle city employee unions are reportedly nervous about the idea because they believe state management will make them vulnerable to Republican demands at the state level (as opposed to liberal Seattle) to scale back public employee benefits.

In fact, city employees would still bargain their contracts at the city level.

5. Finally, more from our (weird) Aaron Reardon file. Reardon, the Democratic Snohomish County Executive, resigned yesterday after the Everett Herald reported that his staff was harassing Reardon's political enemies.

Here's Reardon doing a video testimonial for an energy drink back in September 2009.