After the City of Seattle fails to clean up graffiti, local activists have decided to remove it themselves.
Shift Guest Editorial
The Discovery Institute’s Caitlin Bassett describes one volunteer’s efforts to keep his Seattle neighborhood free of graffiti. The City of Seattle often takes weeks (if not months) to clean up graffiti, but in the time the city gets around to removing the graffiti, other deteriorating activities such as litter, theft, public drug use, and even homeless encampments begin to creep into the neighborhood. Multiple academic studies have shown that once one community standard is violated, others soon follow. Throughout Seattle, citizens are fighting back against graffiti by organizing efforts to do the work the city refuses to do, while paying for the cleaning supplies themselves. (Click to read full Guest Editorial)
After Governor Jay Inslee gave his instantly-forgettable State of the State speech Tuesday, Senator Chris Gildon (R – Puyallup) provided the Republican response. The governor used his speech to justify expanding the size and cost of state government even more (Inslee’s supplemental budget proposal is for $62 billion. The state budget was $32 billion when Inslee took office in 2013). Senator Gildon’s comments focused on helping Washington State residents facing financial difficulties due to the national Democrats’ inflationary policies (which have caused the largest inflation leap in 40 years). Senator Gildon stated that Republicans have proposed several tax breaks (a sales tax reduction, eliminating the state income tax on capital gains and the Long-term Care payroll tax, and exempting the first $250,000 from property tax assessment) to help lower- and middle-class residents.) Senator Gildon said, “We believe the state should not collect more in taxes than is absolutely necessary. The last thing you need is for the government to take more money away from you.”
An interesting side note about the Republican response. It was originally supposed to be delivered by Senator Judy Warnick (R – Moses Lake). Yet because Governor Inslee fired 400 Washington State Department of Transportation employees last fall, due to his unilateral decision to impose a vaccine mandate on state employees, mountain road crews have been decimated and all four Cascade Mountain passes were closed. Like hundreds of thousands of Washington residents, Senator Warnick was unable to cross over the pass to do her job and record the response. (Centralia Chronicle and AP/Oregonian)
State employees continue to be confused by the actions and statements from Democrat officials over why their paychecks now feature a deduction for the WA Cares program. In December, Governor Jay Inslee and Democrat legislative leaders issued contradictory and confusing statements regarding the suspension of the Long-Term Care payroll tax. While Democrat officials were saying the implantation of the new tax will be delayed until July 2023 (well after the 2022 elections), the state law from the 2019 legislation which created the program is still on the books calling for employers to begin collecting the payroll tax starting January 1st. This has created substantial confusion in the private sector, where some employers are collecting the tax and others are not. As a post from the University of Washington Human Resources Department reveals, even state employees are still really confused why money was taken from their most recent paycheck despite Democrat state officials saying the program is delayed.
Meanwhile in Olympia, Democrats are desperately attempt to fix this terribly written and developed public policy (created only to pour more tax money into the bank accounts of the Service Employees International Union, who can then spend that money supporting Democrat candidates), while the Republicans have taken the responsible step of calling for repeal of the entire legislation (see next story). (University of Washington Human Resources website, Governor Inslee media release, and Shift Newsmaker Interview)
Republican Representative Drew Stokesbary introduced legislation which would completely repeal the poorly written and developed WA Cares program (and its mandatory Long-Term Care payroll tax) and replaces it with a voluntary state supported long-term care program managed by private insurers. Representative Stokesbary states that his bill (HB 1913) would encourage Washington residents “to responsibly plan for their long-term care needs, recognizes the long-term savings produced and the dignity preserved by allowing seniors to age in their homes, ensures coverage is affordable, leverages existing state funds, provides consumers with options, and trusts Washingtonians to make the best decisions for themselves.” We will see if the Democrats in control of the legislature are willing to overcome their narrowminded approach to long-term care (which focuses mostly on benefiting their special interest campaign contributors) and are willing to even hold a public hearing on a proposal which actually serves the long-term care needs of more Washington State residents. (House Republican Caucus media release and Washington Legislature Bill summary)
Former King County Sheriff Mitzi Johanknecht was critical of actions taken by Democrat King County Executive Dow Constantine during the three years she ran the Sheriff’s office. Johanknecht was forced to leave her position one year early after liberal county lawmakers (including Executive Constantine) removed the public from electing the Sheriff every four years (and hand politicians control of overseeing the department). Last year Executive Constantine called for Johanknecht to resign after she expressed support for one of her officers who had been involved in a shooting which resulted in the death of a suspect who lunged at officers with what they believed was a knife (determined later to be a pen). Johanknecht said Constantine, “never talked to me, never asked me about what was going on, never asked me about what the sheriff’s office was doing,” she continued. “You at least expect a phone call from people before they’re going to raise their hand and tell you that you should resign over things and events and information that they had no knowledge about internally, and still don’t to this day.” (MyNorthwest)
The Marysville School Board will soon vote on whether to continue to require freshmen students to read of the 1960 Pulitzer Prize winning novel “To Kill a Mockingbird,” as local liberals attempt to censure classic literature and teachers attempt to take control of our children’s curriculum away from the parents and community. The book describes racial injustice in the South during the Depression and uses language that accurately depicts the racist vocabulary at that time. Three high school teachers are disturbed by the language which author Harper Lee uses in the book and have demanded that the book be removed from the students’ required reading list. This is the first time in 20 years a book faces removal from the school district’s required reading list. (Everett Herald)
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that Americans not travel to Canada due to COVID rates in the country. Canada joins 81 countries which the CDC is currently listing as “high-risk” for American travelers. Many northern Washington State communities are pleased that current discussions do not include the closing the border once again, after it was for 18 months. The border closure dramatically impacted the economy of many communities, especially Point Roberts which experienced two summers of not having Canadians visit their vacation homes in the community (which is only connected by land to Canada at the end of a peninsula in the Strait of Georgia). (Bellingham Herald/AP and MyNorthwest)
After a large homeless encampment was removed from Olympia’s Deschutes Parkway in December, Thurston County provided hotel accommodations for 55 of the approximately 80 individuals who were displaced. Initially this taxpayer funded temporary housing was intended for just a couple of weeks, but it was then extended to January 18th. Yesterday the county extended the hotel accommodations for two more months, possibly longer, as it attempts to find permanent housing for each of the individuals who previously resided in broken down campers and tents on the Parkway. (The Olympian)
The City of Walla Walla will soon begin the process of determining whether to take down the statue of Dr. Marcus Whitman at the entrance of Whitman College. The physician founded a mission in the 1830’s just west of Walla Walla, and was later killed by members of the local Cayuse tribe after measles had killed many Native Americans. The effort to remove Whitman’s statue was begun by an official complaint filed by a Walla Walla resident. On January 19th, the Walla Walla Arts Commission will hold a public hearing on the fate of the statue. The commission will make a recommendation to the Walla Walla City Council, which will have final say on whether to remove the statue that was created in the 1950’s. Those seeking to express their views on the Whitman statue are encouraged to send their thoughts to [email protected] by noon tomorrow. (Walla Walla Union Bulletin)
Shift’s 2022 Legislative Preview describes how much of the work being conducted during the current session is focused on correcting major policy errors committed by previous Democrat legislation. This includes the Democrats’ desire to fix the already delayed, and very controversial, Long-Term Care payroll tax. Meanwhile Republican lawmakers have taken a more reasonable approach, and are seeking to repeal the entire long-term tax program which currently has hundreds of thousands (if not over a million) Washington State workers paying into a program for which they are not eligible to receive any benefits.
Legislators will also need to repair the disastrous “police reform” bills the Democrats jammed through in 2021, all to reward the liberal activists who rioted in Seattle during 2020. The pro-criminal legislation resulted in a sharp increase in violent crime and even Democrats admit changes are needed. While the Democrats’ proposed changes are minor, Republicans have offered 50 specific pieces of legislation designed to make our communities safer, and don’t bow to the demands of criminals and the trial lawyers who seek to set them free. (Click to read full Shift Article)
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