Caffeinated News & Gossip

1. Democrats in Olympia are furious about comments their colleague Sen. Rodney Tom (D-48, Medina) made over the weekend in the Yakima Herald.

Responding to criticism that the DREAM Act—legislation passed by the Democratic house (and supported by Tom himself) that would give financial aid to undocumented students—languished in the senate, Tom said that if more Democrats had only taken him up on his offer to chair a few key committees in his Republican-dominated Majority Coalition Caucus—they could have passed the DREAM Act out of committee. (The bill failed to make it out of Republican Sen. Barbara Bailey's, R-10, Oak Harbor, higher education committee).

As senate majority leader, and knowing there are enough votes in the senate to pass the DREAM Act (true), Tom could pull the bill to floor for a vote. He told the Herald he wasn't going to do that.

Sen. Jeanne Kohl-Welles (D-36, Ballard), who turned down Tom's offer to chair higher ed, issued a statement yesterday:

I am incredulous that Sen. Tom would blame the failure of popular legislation on a totally unrelated decision on my part to decline chairing the Higher Education Committee under the Majority Coalition Caucus coup. He’s the most powerful member of the Senate and yet he can’t get a bill out of committee, a committee he sits on, on a bill that he publicly stated he supported, and when he knows that a solid majority of the Senate wants to pass it off the Senate floor?
 
I’m on the record, I would vote for the bill in a heartbeat. I would like nothing more than for Sen. Tom to use his influence as majority leader to put this bill to a vote. It has my vote plus a majority of other senators’ votes. I’m there. Where is Sen. Tom?
 
Instead of finger-pointing, Sen. Tom should be leading. If he didn’t want to lead, he shouldn’t have asked to be the leader. Instead of wringing his hands, Sen. Tom should be rolling up his sleeves and persuading the committee chair he appointed to move the bill he claims he supports.

The sponsor of the bill on the senate side, the senator whom Tom displaced as majority leader in this year's GOP-led coup, Sen. Ed Murray (D-43, Capitol Hill), also issued a blistering statement yesterday.

Instead of blaming a Democrat for something that’s outside of her control, Sen. Tom should do something that’s entirely within his control as Senate majority leader. He should give the Senate the chance to vote on a bill its members favor, not hide behind the skirts of his committee chair.

One Democrat who did accept Tom's offer to chair a committee was Sen. Steve Hobbs (D-44, Lake Stevens), who said at the time that it put Democrats in a position of strength, stands as Exhibit A that Tom's theory isn't true.

Hobbs, who co-sponsored the Reproductive Parity Act (another Democratic priority which Tom said he supported), tried to have the bill moved to his committee.

No luck. Instead it stayed in Republican Sen. Randi Becker's committee, where it died.

2. Speaking of bills that died, yhe house has also put the kibosh on Tom's Republican priorities. For example: A bill to undercut Seattle's paid sick leave law, which passed the senate, has gone nowhere in the house. 

All of this raises the question: What priorities will be elevated to "go home" bills in the budget negotiations?

For example, tomorrow, the house Democrats will release their budget proposal (the senate Republicans have already released theirs). The house will call for closing tax loopholes and raising revenue; the senate proposal doesn't close loopholes nor does it call for new revenue—instead it cuts social services and makes fund transfers.

What will each side, say the Democrats, be willing to sign off on to raise revenue?

3. We admit that we chuckled a little about the three socialist candidates who are running for city elections this year: Mary Martin is running for mayor; Kshama Sawant is running against Richard Conlin; and Edwin Fruit is running against dedicate lefty Nick Licata. "What," we asked, "is the socialist alternative to Nick Licata?"

But we were curious why they were running and how they chose those positions. Here's part of what Fruit and Martin, in a much longer joint communique in response to our questions, had to say.

The main issues we want to raise are the following: First, that we mobilize to have the U.S. government enact a massive federal jobs program to put people to work to build, roads, schools, child care centers, hospitals, mass transit. And things we need to improve the lives of working people.

Second, that we call for the legalization of all undocumented workers so they can live, work, and go to school without threat of government harassment.

Third, that restrictions to a woman’s right to choose be eliminated so that women have the ability to conduct their lives as they see fit.

We will also use our offices to support any struggles of working people to improve their lives and working conditions. We will publicize any strikes or lockouts and encourage the public to give whatever support is necessary. We will publicize and support any drives to organize unions such as the port truck drivers and those working at the airport.

We will demand that any acts of brutality by police be prosecuted to the full extent of the law and prohibit the use of drones and other spy equipment against citizens including by police or other law enforcement agencies.  

So, to overthrow the world order, basically.

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