Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Public records show L&I lied to legislators

L&I officials told lawmakers they did not know what 2011 workers' comp rate should be, documents prove otherwise
Judy Schurke, Director of L&IA public records request by Senator Janéa Holmquist (R-Moses Lake) and Representative Cary Condotta (R-Wenatchee) has revealed officials with the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) lied to lawmakers about the workers’ compensation rates employers will pay for 2011.

Senator Holmquist and Representative Condotta asked L&I Director Judy Schurke at a Joint House and Senate Commerce & Labor Committee Work Session what the “indicated rate” is for 2011 after L&I announced they would not release the indicated and proposed workers’ compensation tax increases until after the November 2 election. The indicated rate is the rate necessary to cause annual revenues to equal the annual expenses. The proposed rate is the rate L&I will actually charge employers. The two usually differ because L&I uses reserve funds to “buy down” the often astronomical indicated rate to one more acceptable to businesses.

The business community supporting Initiative 1082 cried foul, arguing L&I is playing politics on the public’s dime by breaking with the agency’s long-standing tradition of providing employers with the workers’ comp rates they will pay the upcoming year on the eve of an election in which voters will have the opportunity to end L&I’s monopoly on workers’ comp. Business owners rely on the information to plan their company’s budget.

Senator Holmquist and Representative Condotta agreed with frustrated businesses and demanded L&I tell them the rates businesses would pay in 2011. Representative Condotta said, “you [L&I] have the numbers. You’ve done the work. You know what the rates are…I’d like those numbers.” Testifying before the legislative Committee, L&I Director Schurke responded, “we don’t have those numbers.”

Yet documents obtained via the public records request prove otherwise. The documents L&I handed over include a chart with the 2011 indicated rate clearly redacted. Also, I attended a meeting of the state's Mayors early this year where the Governor's Chief of Staff Jay Manning told us L&I would need a minimum of a 30 percent increase to remain solvent in 2011.

“Obviously Labor & Industries has known for months what the indicated rate is for 2011,” said Patrick Connor, NFIB/Washington State Director. “These new documents prove it,” he added. “L&I has been caught red-handed lying to the Legislature, and the only explanation is they are desperate to hide the indicated rate because it shows what we’ve said all along — a massive tax hike is coming.”

The lack of transparency and corrupt actions of L&I officials — lying during legislative testimony — is precisely why the business community overwhelmingly supports I-1082. The agency is clearly run amok and considers itself accountable to no one; not elected legislators, and certainly not taxpayers.
For more information on I-1082, visit and

Monday, October 18, 2010

A Constitutional Convention? A BAD Idea

Today, I received the following in an email from several different people...

The Time Has Indeed Come!
Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them.  It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention.

This will take less than thirty seconds to read. If you agree, please pass it on. 

An idea whose time has come!

For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress.  Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress could retire with the same pay after only one term, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for  sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform .. in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law.

I truly don't care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop.

A Constitutional Convention - this is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come.  And, with the advent of modern communication, the process can be moved along with incredible speed.  There is talk out there that the "government" doesn't care what the people think.  That is irrelevant.  It is incumbent on the population to address elected officials to the wrongs afflicted against the and me. 
Think about this...

The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified!  Why?  Simple!  The people demanded it.  That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc.

Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure.

I'm asking each addressee to forward this Email to a minimum of twenty people on their Address list; in turn ask each of those to do likewise.

In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that  really should be passed around.

Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States "
You are one of my 20+.   Keep it going.

While I understand the frustration which has spawned such passion,  I believe this is a monumentally BAD idea — at least now...

The reason is simple — the socialists are in power. But more importantly, THEY are in control of the bureaucracy, NOT the politicians. And just in case you didn't know it, control of the bureaucracy is where the REAL power lies. To paraphrase Joseph Stalin, it isn't the people who vote that count, but the people who count the votes — as Dino Rossi found out firsthand in 2004. These unelected "public servants" are the day-to-day rulemakers, and its their decisions by which ALL our laws, from the most mundane things like traffic tickets, to land use — and everything in between — are interpreted and implemented.

A Constitutional Convention would open up the ENTIRE Constitution to being re-written, and would be the perfect opportunity for the socialists to DICTATE a new, ideologically-driven agenda for America. If you think Obama is bad, and disagree with what Congress has done, the opportunity for socialists to rewrite the constitution would be our worst nightmare. One election — even if the Republicans take power of both houses of Congress in November, isn't enough. They need to take control of the bureaucracy as well — and that isn't an election year change, but a total cultural shift, that will take YEARS — if not a generation or more — to accomplish. It won't happen in one election cycle, because politicians come and go with regularity. Look at the "Reagan Revolution," and look at where we are today

So while I wholeheartedly agree that Congress has vastly exceeded the boundaries our founding fathers intended, I think a more prudent course of action would be to continue to elect people who will change the system from within, because a Constitutional Convention anytime in the near future is a battle that America as we know it, will lose. It's one that will bring down the America we know, the America we want, and the America we want to become. It will change our nation beyond repair to where the entitlement mentality becomes embedded in our culture (much like France) even more so then it already has, and do away with all the things that have made this the greatest nation on earth.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New Policy on Comments

I want all our readers to know that we now a new policy when it comes to commenting on posts here. You have the ability to register, or post anonymously. However, anonymous posters will have to sign their name to their comments — the same as you do to have a Letter to the Editor published. If you're going to comment, you're going to have to have the intestinal fortitude to sign your name to your opinions. It's just that simple.

What has made this necessary is the uncivilized, and purely vitriolic nature of some recent comments from people posting anonymously disagreeing with some the opinions expressed here. I believe that level of discourse is totally uncalled for, and the nature of any debate will be much more civilized if people have to actually sign their names to what they write. 

I have a pretty thick skin — something necessary in the line of work I've spent most of my adult life doing — and it's grown even thicker since entering politics. So I can handle disagreement, and I can certainly hold my own in a debate. What I have no patience with is people who result to name calling, personal insults and threats when they can't make a rational argument to defend their dissenting opinion.

The catalyst for this change was the post about 26th District Senate candidate Marty McClendon's references to his son in his campaign. A number of posters felt I was wrong to express the opinion that I didn't mind him mentioning his son's leukemia, as I believe it gives people a sense of who and what Mr. McClendon is, and the challenges his family has faced, but felt he overplays it during Q&A interludes. 

Disagreement is fine within the bounds of civility. And it wasn't even the vitriolic name calling, but threats against my family and our personal safety that got completely out of hand. Some of it was obviously driven by the fact I expressed the opinion that I believe McClendon isn't going to beat Senator Derek Kilmer. It seems most of the rudest name callers took more offense to that, then what I actually said about McClendon mentioning his son. 

These same posters seemed to have completely ignored the statement in the second sentence of that post that those were my personal OBSERVATIONS about the PROBABLE outcomes — and they were NOT endorsements for any candidates. The truth is, some of the folks I'd personally like to see win, and think we'd all be better off if they did, probably won't, while I don't believe some incumbents I'd like to see defeated, will be.

So the bottom line is, from this point forward, if you want to disagree with me, that's fine, and debate is still openly welcomed. But you're going to have to demonstrate you have the the courage of your convictions, by simply signing your name. Is that too much to ask? I don't think so. 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Political Sign Wars vs. Southern Women

We just had an interesting new experience with a Democratic sign volunteer.

Those of you who know my wife Dee, know she is the model of decorum — the stereotypical Southern Belle. Besides being genteel and charming, she also possesses the same traits many Southern women are brought up with — the steel magnolia qualities of kindness, and good manners, coupled with confidence, and strength of character and spirit.

So a typical smug, self-righteous, Northwest liberal doesn't stand a chance against people like Dee — as one found out the hard way today.

For those of you unfamiliar with the location of the Wet Apple office, it's on one of the busiest corners in South Kitsap. Because of its visibility on a main thoroughfare and four corners with a stoplight, it's also a prime location for political signs. We have traditionally allowed candidates whom we support — and even some, but not all, we don't particularly like — to put up signs there, as long as they ASK. Ones who put them up without asking, quickly find out they are dispatched to our dumpster with some immediacy.

As Dee returned to the office from an appointment, she saw a volunteer for Sumner Schoenike — the Democratic candidate running for the 26th District House against Jan Angel — pounding a sign in on the corner. To be fair, Schoenike has asked a couple of times if he could put up a sign, and we have told him no.

Dee politely told this guy that he needed to remove it, which he initially refused to do. Dee told him again, in stronger terms, that he needed to not only remove the sign, but he needed to remove himself from our property as well. He started yelling at her, waving his hammer in a threatening way, and demanding to know why.

Dee stood firm, telling him we don't support Schoenike because he has made it very plain he strongly supports a state income tax, and like most small businesspeople, we don't. At that point, the guy started yelling even louder at her, saying he was a health care worker, and that if we didn't vote in an income tax, thousands of people were going to die. By now, people at the stoplight, were rolling down their windows to see why this guy was waving a hammer, and screaming at a woman who refused to be intimidated.

Long story short, by the time Dee finished with this guy — never raising her voice, and standing her ground — he had packed up his sign, his hammer, his attitude, and a Larry Seaquist sign, and was muttering to himself as he slinked away fuming, but with his tail tucked firmly between his legs. When Dee told me what happened, after I stopped laughing, I made it a point to call Larry and let him know who took his sign.

But I have to wonder if such an impolite moron actually learned a lesson about messing with Southern women, or if he was just glad to get away with his testicles still intact. And I hope Sumner Schoenike learns he needs to have more polite people volunteering for him, because this guy is doing him more harm than good.

Monday, October 04, 2010

Handicapping The Election

With the general election only days away, I'm going to gaze into my admittedly cloudy crystal ball and make a few predictions on the outcome. Please understand these are NOT endorsements — either by me personally, or the Business Journal — but rather unscientific assessments of the candidate's chances, their campaigns, and how they will fare based on pragmatic observations of the economic climate, established voting patterns, and a whole lot of other factors — including gut feeling.

I have also updated some of the comments as new information has come to light, and will continue to do so as we get closer to election day if it's necessary.

U.S. Senate: This is one that could go either way. However, poll numbers show that Republican Dino Rossi is aggressively on the rise, and if he can raise enough money to get his message across on enough TV stations statewide, he could pull it off. Murray's blatantly dishonest TV ads, as noted in both  Seattle Times and Tacoma New Tribune editorials, have worked against her as well. If Democratic incumbent Patty Murray does win, it will be by a slim margin.

U.S. Congress — 1st District: Democratic incumbent Jay Inslee will win in a district dominated by liberals. His challenger, James Watkins, is a fiscal conservative, but the bottom line is this is a heavily Democratic district, and unless there is a major philosophical revolt, the numbers are against him.

U.S. Congress — 6th District: Norm Dicks of course. Due to the state of the economy and the mood of the country, coupled with the president's policies and rapid shift to the left, perennial Republican candidate Doug Cloud probably has his best shot ever at Norm, but Dicks is still going to win , and win comfortably — although not by the usual huge margin he's used to. I'm sure Norm is paying attention to the message his constituents are sending him.

State House — 23rd District: Democratic incumbent Sherry Appleton has been AWOL from the campaign trail, but will still prevail. She has the benefit of incumbency, name familiarity, tons of state employee and other union and special interest money at her disposal, as well as her usual strong tribal support. Republican Pete DeBoer would make a terrific legislator — he's pragmatic, a successful businessman, and has government experience based on his years with the Port of Kingston. However, based on the sheer number of Democrats in that district, coupled with the traditional Democratic funding sources supporting Appleton, his chances of actually winning don't bode well for him. Too bad for Kitsap.

State House — 23rd District: Christine Rolfes will go back to Olympia for another term. If she had an  actually credible opponent, she might have a fight on her hands. However her opponent, James Olson — AKA BainbridgeClearCut in the local blogs — has probably pissed off more people he hasn't even met then he actually knows personally.

State Senate — 26th District:
Incumbent Senator Derek Kilmer will easily win. For the most part, he has voted the wishes of his constituents, including opposing the repeal of I-960 and the state budget. From a personal standpoint, let me say that Kilmer has been a terrific friend to the City of Port Orchard. His opponent, Republican Marty McClendon, has not shown a great grasp of the issues facing the 26th, the state, or much else. He speaks in non-specific sound bite platitudes, because when pressed for facts, he usually gets them wrong, and does it with an arrogant attitude besides. On another personal note, I've also found his blatant use of his young son's leukemia as a campaign sympathy grabber to be offensive. I wouldn't wish that on anyone, much less a child, and my heart goes out to the McClendon family for their strength of character in dealing with it. But this should remain a personal family issue.

State House — 26th District: Incumbent Jan Angel should return to Olympia in an easy victory. Based on what I've seen of her opponent, Democrat Sumner Schoenike, he appears to be an avid supporter of bigger state government and a state income tax to pay for it. That kind of thinking doesn't resonate too well in the 26th. Also, Schoenike hasn't shown a very good grasp of the issues facing the district because he hasn't lived there long enough to actually understand them.

State House — 26th District: This could go either way. Democratic incumbent Larry Seaquist has done a good job for the 26th, and like Kilmer, has voted the wishes of his district for the most part, opposing the budget and the repeal of I-960. And as a Democrat, he's also been a breath of fresh air about the ferry system and all that's wrong with it — including the stranglehold the unions have on it — a bold position for a Democrat. His opponent, Republican Doug Richards, is an engaging, likable, thoughtful, pragmatic challenger whose primary numbers are a rightful concern for Democrats. This race will be won or lost on the doorstep, depending on how many doors each candidate can knock on between now and election day.

State Senate — 35th District: Incumbent Tim Sheldon will win handily. Nothing more to say about it.

State House — 35th District: Democratic incumbent Fred Finn should win. He's done a good job, voting pragmatically and thoughtfully, usually doing what's right, as opposed to what the traditional Democratic constituencies that bankroll the party in a highly liberal district demand. His opponent, Linda Simpson, can work a crowd, and has lots of enthusiasm, but smacks of being way too close to the radical right for the voters in that district.

State House — 35th District: Republican challenger Dan Griffey will upset longtime incumbent Kathy Haigh in a fairly close matchup. Haigh has always voted with the liberal majority in the legislature and makes no apologies for it. She touts her support for education, and was bought and paid for by the teacher's union long ago. However, Griffey's message about fiscal responsibility and less regulation in a district decimated by environmental regulatory overkill relating to its main employer — the timber industry — and suffering some of the highest unemployment levels in the state, is resonating deeply.

Kitsap County Commissioner: Another one that could go either way. I personally work with incumbent Democrat Josh Brown on a number of local boards, and it's no secret that when he was elected, at 24 years old I didn't support him, and was in fact, very vocal in my non-support. That said, in working with him, while we don't always agree on things, I have found Josh to be a quick study, smart, pragmatic, and usually prepared for whatever is coming his way. His challenger, Abby Burlingame, who spent time on the staff of the Washington Policy Center, is also very smart, personable, quick on her feet, and not afraid to reach out when she needs help and/or information. At 31, she has both business experience and what seems like an extraordinary amount of common sense. Bottom line: Kitsap isn't going to get hurt no matter who wins this one.   

Kitsap County Prosecutor: Democratic incumbent Russ Hague will win re-election over challenger Bruce Danielson in a squeaker. The legal establishment has closed ranks behind Hague — in spite of his self-inflicted shotgun blast to the foot over the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club lawsuit. To many voters, that suit has all the appearances of a personal vendetta against a constitutionally-savvy non-lawyer who has kicked Hague's ass in court three times in the past decade. But in spite of the thousands of local gun owners who view this as nothing more than a personal vendetta, the shear number of local Democrats will pull it out for the incumbent.

Kitsap County Coroner: Republican Greg Sandstrom should win easily. There's no reason to make a change, and most voters are pretty apathetic about this anyway.

I will handicap the ballot initiatives in a separate post in the next couple of days