State Government

Dear Editor,

Upon reading Sen. Cantwell’s comments on her MEDIC Act proposal, I immediately called her Washington, D.C. office to respond with the following observations.

Almost three-quarters of the American people want to see some form of public option choice in whatever health care reform legislation is put before President Obama to sign. That includes 87 percent of Democrats and at least half of Republicans.

Secondly, there are only two industries that are exempt from anti-trust monopoly regulation in this country. One is major league baseball. The other, and this is the kicker, is the insurance industry, which was given that exemption in 1945.

While I am not exactly an economist, I cannot fail to understand that perhaps a major component of the U.S. government’s inability to control medical costs has as its core reason the fact that this industry does not *have to* abide by the same laws and restrictions that govern nearly every other economic activity in our country.

06/29/2009

Dear Editor,

I have been in a loving and committed relationship for 18 years and we have a wonderful and successful son who is an English teacher in a community college and we are honored that our wonderful state legislatures recognizes our relationship by providing us domestic partnership legal status.

Our constitution was designed to protect ALL people and especially the minorities who are often discriminated against by the majority. I urge everyone to Decline To Sign Referendum 71 and protect Washingtonians and their families from having their legal rights taken away from them.

Thank you and God Bless.

Randall Dickson
Seattle

06/24/2009

The health care debate is heating up in Washington, DC and as a member of the state Senate Finance Committee, I’m working to help Washingtonians get the coverage they deserve, and ensure this care is of the highest quality at the lowest cost.

As a nation we spend too much on health care and get too little in return, leaving businesses and families with outrageous bills and eroding benefits, and our country with exploding deficits.  We need to focus on fixing what's broken and building on what works.
 
I’ve long maintained that Washington State can serve as the model for improving health care nationwide.  For years, we have been at the forefront of innovation, providing programs and services to bring costs down and improve quality of care. 

Our state routinely ranks in the top quarter of the nation in healthy outcomes, and at the bottom end for wasteful spending. Rather than rewarding doctors, hospitals, and health care providers for the number of procedures they perform, Washington state rewards them for the healthy outcomes of their patients. This is exactly the type of approach we should take nationally.
 

06/23/2009

Two portal designs were presented at a public meeting last night, June 11, showing how a bored tunnel, which is planned to replace the aged-Alaskan Way Viaduct, would connect with city streets for northbound and southbound traffic.

Some community members were still at a loss on how the design worked and expressed concern about the possible congestion it could cause for north and southbound drivers, as well as the planned four-lane waterfront boulevard along Alaskan Way.

“We’re beginning the second supplemental draft of the EIS (environmental impact statement) that will evaluate the bored tunnel,” said Amy Grotefendt, a spokesperson for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Sewall Replacement Program said. “We’re out here tonight asking people to give us comments on what issues should be analyzed in the EIS now that we have the portal designs and know how access into and out of the tunnel will work.”

06/12/2009
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Photo credit: 
Allison Espiritu

Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program administrator, explains to residents the access to city streets with the planned bored tunnel.

Members of the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) were on-hand Wednesday night at Madison Middle School for an Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement “scoping” meeting.

The meeting was designed as an informative meet-and-greet with boards explaining the project plans circling the room. Members of WSDOT, the Seattle Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration were on-hand to hear comments and explain the recent bored tunnel legislation.

The focus of the meeting was to gain feedback for a second supplemental draft environmental impact statement (SDEIS) on the proposed bored tunnel alternative.

“The focus of this meeting is to give the public a chance to come out and understand what the project is, what we’re proposing, and to let us know what issues or concerns they have on what they would like to see included on the environmental documentation,” said Allison Hanson, director of environmental services at WSDOT.

06/11/2009
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Photo credit: 
Brittni Reinertsen

Members of the city and state transportation departments were on hand to explain project plans for the Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement to community members.

Editor's note: This letter from the Ballard District Council is addressed to Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program Administrator for the state department of transportation, and was also copied to the Ballard News-Tribune.

Dear Mr. Pannanen: 

The Ballard District Council leadership has identified a number of concerns related to the process and proposals for the Deep Bored Tunnel project’s North Portal.  The District Council is composed of representatives from 26 member community organizations in the Ballard district.   

Process 

1. To date, neither the district council nor its executive board has had any contact with the “Ballard Representative."  Though I’m sure she’s well qualified, this situation could have been avoided had the professional staff on the North Portal project contacted the council before appointing a representative to ensure that the representative had long-term connections to the community.  If representatives are to be chosen by staff, it is incumbent on the staff to ensure that communication with community leadership is occurring.
 

06/11/2009

The state ferries division will launch its summer 2009 ferry schedule on Father’s Day, Sunday, June 21, with additional vessels, sailings and service hours on the more popular tourism routes, according to a release from the state.

The summer schedule runs through Sept. 26.

The new 2009 summer schedules are available at all ferry terminals and on the vessels. Summer service changes for the Fauntleroy/Vashon/Southworth include extra weekend service on both Saturday and Sunday.

See the Fauntleroy to Vashon schedule here.

View the Fauntleroy to Southworth schedule here.

Other summer ferry schedule changes include:

Anacortes/San Juan Islands: an additional vessel and increased hours of service

Anacortes/Sidney, B.C.: two daily trips instead of one

Port Townsend/Keystone: additional weekend trips

Mukilteo/Clinton: extra service on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights

06/11/2009

Editor's note: This letter is addressed to Ron Paananen, Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Replacement Program Administrator for the state department of transportation, and was also copied to the Ballard News-Tribune.

Dear Mr. Paananen: 

The BINMIC (Ballard Interbay North Manufacturing Industrial Council) Action Committee and its member organizations have identified a number of issues regarding the North Portal for the Bored Tunnel which are provided in the bullets below. 
 

• The design of this key freight arterial must be consistent with recognized highway and freight arterial standards for new construction.  ’Major Truck Streets’ must be established and clearly identified in the engineering design drawings.  These routes need to be designated and vetted during the design review process. 

06/08/2009

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-WA) introduced legislation today calling for federal recognition of the Duwamish Tribe.

The bill’s introduction came on the same day the House voted to extend federal recognition to Virginia Tribes; in recognizing those efforts, McDermott noted in remarks on the House floor that there was more work to do:

“Despite the Treaty of Point Elliot the Duwamish signed in good faith with the United States in 1855, federal recognition has not been extended and this is wrong," he said. "Promises were made to the Duwamish, but not kept. And it is time to correct this injustice for the Duwamish, just as we are doing in Virginia.”

For a matter of hours at the end of the Clinton Administration the Duwamish Tribe seemed to have obtained federal recognition, but the status was reversed at the beginning of the Bush Administration. The legislation introduced by McDermott would decide the matter once and for all.

In the House today, McDermott said: “It is my hope that the new day dawning across America is bright enough to shine enough light for us to see and correct the injustices endured for too long by the first Americans.”

06/03/2009
Address school assignment plan, the Alaskan Way tunnel and the homeless in Ballard

Because of the state's $6 billion revenue shortfall, 36th District Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles said the recently concluded legislative session was the hardest anyone in Olympia had been a part of.

"It's really not a pleasure being here talking to you about this really very difficult session," she said to the approximately 20 attendees at a May 30 town hall meeting. "We knew we were in a bad shape economically."

At the meeting, the 36th District legislative delegation – Kohl-Welles and Representatives Mary Lou Dickerson and Reuven Carlyle – discussed the session as well as issues affecting the Ballard area.

Dickerson said the session was disappointing because of the deep spending cuts that had to be made.

All three legislators voted for the budget, but not happily, Kohl-Welles said.

"I don't think any legislator is proud of this budget," she said.

Kohl-Welles said the state is at a disadvantage because 52 percent of the state's funding comes from the sales tax, one of the most regressive tax structures in the country.

05/30/2009
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Photo credit: 
Michael Harthorne

State Senator Jeanne Kohl-Welles discusses problems caused by Washington's tax structure at a May 30 town hall meeting.

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