Morning Fizz

King County: Syphilis Is Up 54 Percent Since 2010

King County's tax burden, King County's syphilis rates, and the King County Council's big choice.

By Josh Feit December 8, 2016

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CORRECTION: The original headline for this post and the post itself said the syphilis rates had increased by 153 percent between 2010 and 2015. That stat was based on a statement in an internal email from the Public Health department. However, the actual increase was 53.6  percent, going from 289 cases to 444. I regret the error.

1. A recent post on King County’s Public Health department staff blog, Public Health Insider, had some scary news: “Public Health has documented a significant increase in syphilis cases in King County.”

What’s causing the increase? Dr. Lindley Barbee, the Medical Director of the Public Health Seattle & King County STD Clinic, told the blog:

We don’t know just yet. We think that some of this increase may be related to PrEP [a pill you can take every day to prevent HIV] use among MSM [men having sex with men]. The increase in PrEP use among MSM is a good thing since it prevents HIV, but the increase in all STDs – syphilis, gonorrhea and chlamydia – may be an unintended consequence. As for the increase among heterosexuals, we are not sure why this is happening, but we think this is related to drug use. We know that more heroin users are also using meth. This is bringing together different groups of people that didn’t used to interact, and some people experiencing chemical dependency and homelessness trade sex for drugs or other necessities. But the truth is, we just don’t know. While we are working to figure this out, our main goal is to help test and treat people before the disease becomes more widespread.

Oddly, the post doesn’t provide the actual stats on the increase. Maybe it was too scary to include.

Syphilis is up a startling 54 percent from 2010.  

2. Right wing state representative Matt Shea (R-4, Spokane Valley) has already filed a bunch of standard Tea Party bills for the upcoming legislative session—"Accommodating the civil rights of religious objectors," "parental notification," "right to work," "prohibiting restrictions on the carrying of a concealed pistol," and I guess in response to liberals' obsession with intersectionality, "reducing overlap between the state environmental policy act and other laws."

However, there is one bill that liberals might get behind. He's proposed a bill splitting the state in two, HJM 400: "Petitioning for the creation of a new state in Eastern Washington." The state would be called Liberty.

Western Washington liberals should like the bill because it may make economic sense. Eastern Washington survives off rural socialism by getting back more from the state than they put in in taxes—while it's the very reverse in places like King County. 

King County gets about 65 cents back on every dollar while rural, Republican counties such as Ferry, Stevens, and Yakima get big returns, up to $2 back for every dollar they put in.

Some Eastern Washington politicians get this point. Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart released a statement against the proposal  yesterday, that said in part:

"I am extremely appreciative of the statewide partnerships that allow us to improve the quality of life for all of Eastern Washington, and I feel that it is foolish to ignore the tax dollars paid by citizens on both sides of the Cascade Mountains that go to build projects like the North-South Corridor, establish the Washington State University Medical School, and provide millions of dollars in grants to clean up the Spokane River.” 

3. I got a little push back on my identity politics reading of the two state legislature appointments that are in play right now.

First, the precinct committee officers (PCOs) in Southeast Seattle’s majority-minority 37th Legislative District chose a white man, lefty attorney Rory O’Sullivan, as their top pick to fill soon-to-be U.S. representative Pramila Jayapal’s open state senate seat—Jayapal is Indian—over Puget Sound Sage Director Rebecca Saldana, a Latina. It took O’Sullivan two rounds, but he eventually bested Saldana 46 votes to 35 votes, out of an initial field of eight candidates with about 80 PCOs voting.

An official with the 37th tells me, however, that people of color PCOs (POC PCOs) “overwhelmingly” supported O’Sullivan in the vote, in part because O’Sullivan is a longtime member of the district. Ultimately, the King County Council makes the final pick based on the 37th’s top choices.

Over in the 48th Legislative District (Bellevue, Kirkland), word is that former Navy officer Matt Isenhower, who is white, is the favorite over his rivals for an open state house seat, including Bellevue City Council member Vandana Slatter, who is Indian-American. I didn’t get much push back for pointing that out … or at least, not from people who frown on identity politics. Conversely: someone, kind of a big deal someone in the district, pointed out with some disappointment that in the race to replace the open 48th state senate between the two current state reps (that’s why there’s an open house seat), the PCOs may pass over the only LGBTQ candidate by picking state representative Patty Kuderer over state representative Joan McBride, who is a lesbian.  We’ll see. The vote is tonight.

4. And in case you missed yesterday's Afternoon Jolt: I talked to Boeing about Trump's $4 billion tweet.

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