Category: Western WA (Page 1 of 3)

Tacoma’s red light camera vendor could be on precipice of financial collapse

A government vendor with contracts in Tacoma appears to be on the verge of bankruptcy, according to a report it released to its home country regulator earlier this week.

The contractor’s slide is raising questions with Tacoma officials about whether to continue dealings with the company, or move on, with speculation that its financial condition and ability to continue operating long-term are unlikely to improve.

Australia’s Redflex Traffic Systems, a supplier of traffic cameras to Tacoma, lost nearly $12 million over the last six months according to a report it filed with the Australian Securities Exchange, and which was obtained by opponents of traffic cameras.

Apparently, Redflex benefited from the recently-passed GOP tax reform package, but it was not enough to stop the bleeding.

Redflex originally shot to public attention in the US after being implicated in a Chicago criminal bribery scandal. A former executive of the company claimed in 2014 it had “bestowed gifts and bribes” including in Washington State.

According to traffic camera opponents, Redflex has been relying on fresh investments from shareholders to stay afloat. However, the company says that due to the termination of a contract in New York and less money flowing to the company via its contracts in Mexico, it is still losing money. Its legal situation in Chicago has apparently been a driver of financial misfortunes before this most recent period.

Reportedly, Tacoma officials are set to review their contracting arrangements with Redflex in the coming days.


[featured image: trekandshoot]

Mixed bag for GOP in data firm’s analysis of turnout battle in pivotal 45th LD Senate race

Washington state-based political data intelligence firm Voter Science posted a snapshot analysis on its blog Sunday evening of how things looked based on ballot returns reported from the Secretary of State. For Republicans hoping to hang on to the critical seat, there’s a mix of good and bad news in what their evaluation finds.

(No real spoiler here. The election in the very purple East King County district will almost certainly be decided by swing voters.)

To generate its findings, Voter Science matched returned ballots against to its own database of voters that have assigned a party identification based on a mess of available information.

The result? According to data models, the GOP has turned out a greater percentage of Republican voters compared to Democrats with their base. That may sound great except that there are far fewer Republicans than Democrats in the 45th. The math could get dicey, and the battle over swing votes will be decisive, as Voter Science explains:

[The 45th legislative district is a] predominantly Democrat district.  In ‘14 and ’16 house races, Democrat’s average victory in LD 45 has been around 58%.  The district also voted over a 2:1 for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Kim Wyman and Andy Hill are the only Republicans to have won this district. …

Of voters identified as GOP, 28% have voted. Of voters identified as Democrats, 23% have voted.  Of voters identified as Independents, only 14% have voted.  So while the democrats may have raw volume of numbers, the GOP has driven higher turnout amongst their base.


[Full disclosure: The author of this piece has a minority share in Voter Science, but had no involvement in producing the analysis itself.]

Cornell University: ‘No Record’ of Attendance or Graduation by Mercer Island City Council Candidate Joy Langley

Candidate for Mercer Island City Council Joy Langley has been at the center of a blooming controversy since Monday over accusations that she has falsely claimed to have earned a degree from Cornell University.

Since the allegations surfaced Monday, Langley has strongly maintained that she is a Cornell University graduate in an interview to the Mercer Island Reporter and a statement posted to her campaign website.

Nevertheless, Cornell University stated Wednesday afternoon that an extensive review of archives found no record that Langley attended or graduated the prestigious university. Their most recent exhaustive search followed two previous explorations by the university registrar’s office.

Furthermore, the university states that Langley never made any request to Cornell to keep her records private, a fact that seemed to contradict her own statements. From the MI Reporter:

Langley told the Reporter that the National Student Clearinghouse did not confirm whether she had a degree from Cornell … because Langley chose to keep her student records private.

The complete statement from Cornell University’s senior director of media relations reads:

“After receiving numerous inquiries and speaking directly with Ms. Langley, Cornell University re-examined its digital and paper archives, at the university and college level, and can confirm that we have no record of a person named Joy Langley or Joy Esther Langley attending or graduating from this institution.

“We can also confirm that the Office of the University Registrar has never received a request to make private any records related to Ms. Langley.”

On Wednesday evening, the Marker reached out to the Langley campaign for comment, but had not received a response at the time of this publication.

King County Elections Did a Good Thing With a New Video About Voting Rights

It’s easy for Washington state conservatives to tee off on King County Elections, but a good thing should be called out when a good thing is done.

Elections Director Julie Wise’s office did a good thing when they greenlit a new video intended to encourage more voter participation. In fact, their message is one that many conservatives should be able to get behind: universal suffrage is a reality because of the blood, sweat, and tears invested by many generations of Americans.

The video uses images and text to bring viewers forward from the time of the American Revolution through an expansion of voting rights that despite occurring far too slowly and in opposition to darker forces within the American public, were nevertheless fought for and should be acknowledged and used because they are valuable. Watch for yourself.

The video is surprising because the message is elegantly simple and undeniably patriotic. It implicitly reinforces the steps the country has taken on voting rights and affirms that history to voters in minority groups who are most likely the intended audience. The piece doesn’t lean into partisan sloganeering – scaremongering minority voters that we are just one election away from Jim Crow and systemic disenfranchisement – but affirms that achieving universal suffrage is a part of our common history.

Now, this isn’t to say that this one good deed lightens the great karmic burden on King County Elections. It was after all the machine that in 2004, under the management of Director Dean Logan, oversaw the magical transformation of a Dino Rossi victory on two vote counts into what was to be a two-term Christine Gregoire governorship. More recently, it was the agency in charge of a painful and predictably slow validation of more than 70,000 signatures on a petition to ban government-sponsored illegal heroin sites. There will undoubtedly be new outrages. Momentum is growing in Olympia on the proposal to make Sound Transit board members stand for election and be accountable for the tens of billions in taxes and fees they spend. The potential for professional wrestling-grade monkey business in such elections would be incredibly high.

For now, watch the video, judge for yourself, and please sound off in the comments below.

Dear Seahawks, Isn’t it Time for That Apology?

It’s ironic that a sport like football that is all about taking things head-on in a physical sense can’t seem to translate that smash-mouth approach to how it approaches moral matters.

Whether in the NFL’s habit of tut-tutting past an endless string of stories about players in legal trouble, or failing to organize around the very basic idea that abusing women will result in swift and sobering punishment, or slipping meekly away from the nova-like moment of leaguewide anthem protests, the amassed megatons of brawn appear weak.

Specifically, directly addressing the understandable offense taken by reasonable people over the protests should be a relatively light lift in whatever units are used for measuring apologies. Nevertheless, the NFL seems content to move on without directly addressing any of it.

The team I’ve loved since the time we both were kids in the mid-1970s, the Seattle Seahawks, seems especially happy to pretend as though the whole thing was a bad dream. Pushing the whole episode down the memory hole is a mistake. True fans have an amazing capacity to carry grudges. There are Hawks fans who continued to despise one-time owner Ken Behring – the man who actually packed up the headquarters in preparation to take the team to Los Angeles – until the day he died.

And ask former Starbucks CEO and Seattle Supersonics owner Howard Schultz whether the city has fully forgiven him for what many feel was an act of betrayal in allowing the team to be sold out and moved to Oklahoma City.

To be sure, the Seahawks have responded in some ways based on the public’s reaction. In Week 5, Seattle Seahawks fans witnessed a pre-game ceremony that didn’t look much different than what was typical prior to Week 4. Players standing. Some locked arms. Some hands over hearts. And at yesterday’s Week 5 match-up against the Los Angeles Rams, even the team’s standout anthem protester, all-pro defensive end Michael Bennett, stood with the team for the first time this year. Hurrah.

There’s just one problem: the leaguewide protest action of three weeks ago was less peaceful speech and more political punch. That blow was felt a broad enough swath of Americans that it shouldn’t be dismissed as the overreaction of right-wing-variety snowflakes. The Seahawks organization was a leader in the effort and neither the team nor the league have stepped up to acknowledge the message they sent, perhaps inadvertently, to fans.

“Look, we put everything back the way it was before. Good! Right?” mewed the league hopefully.

Not so fast. Diehard Seahawks fans who took the slap may deserve something more than an unspoken agreement to not slap them again. If the team wants to win back any respect from those fans, it’s going to have to make some effort to address the slap. Own it, recognize the insult, and let’s move on. We can start by breaching the great divide of perception that persists between protesters and those who see the protests as inextricably aimed at the flag.

At last mention, Seahawks Coach Pete Carroll still contends that he doesn’t believe the protests were a “denigration” of the flag and in the aftermath has defined such acts as a way to “stand against hate and dehumanization and equality for all people.”

The hyper-compartmentalization by Carroll and others to separate the protest from the only other thing happening at that time is still quite stunning. Keeping those blinders strapped on also prevents a rapprochement with alienated Hawks fans. That fan resistance isn’t pouting or intolerance or snowflakery.

Consider that you are attending the wedding of a Catholic friend. At the penultimate moment of the ceremony, you stand, turn your back to the altar, and profess your disapproval of the Church’s position on same-sex marriage. Consider then that you explain to your friend that you weren’t actually being disrespectful of their beliefs, their church or the sanctity of their moment. Consider then that you just lost a friend, perhaps for life, save for one last-ditch act. You do the right thing, suck it up, and make an honest and contrite apology.

Of course, professional sports are not a religion; neither is national pride. The point is that scheduling matters when it comes to how context will be interpreted. Planning a protest to suggest inequality and racism are woven into the American DNA is one thing. Having it coincide with the presentation of said nation’s flag is bound to be seen as intentional. Making it a league statement pits fans who vehemently disagree against the league. It’s fitting that a protest over the freedom to protest has unleashed in some disaffected fans the freedom to choose pumpkin patches, long walks, or reading a book over watching sports, as the decline in ratings appears to show.

So, Seahawks, is it time yet to begin the healing? As one seriously committed lifelong Seahawks fan, I’d like to see something happen. There is only so much entertainment one can squeeze out of a pumpkin patch. I can take a long walk any other day of the week.

Speaking only for myself, I’m not asking for a guarantee that all players will stand for the anthem, because compulsory respect isn’t actually respect at all.

Furthermore, I certainly don’t want players who were initially involved in the anthem protests to be pressured into abandoning whichever cause they were supporting. In fact, the only silver lining to be found here would be an honest opportunity to listen and learn from each other, to challenge preconceptions, get to a common set of facts about the issues at hand, and find some common objectives based on things we can all agree need to change.

Individual actions were not ever really a breaking point issue for me or most other fans. I know that because we were doing okay as recently as four weeks ago. Sure, it was the kind of “doing fine” that involved some tolerance that American football had become ever more soaked in the liquor of liberal politics, but it was easy enough to grind your teeth, roll your eyes and ignore it. And then the individual kneeling metastasized into a leaguewide action.

For the entire NFL to unite in a protest action was markedly different from the isolated player protests. Everything changed the moment it happened. It became a “thing.” To defuse it requires recognizing what it was to many people and some clear, public commitment to make it clear that protests are fine, but not those that coincide with a moment we reserve for respecting the flag. Individual acts of disrespect will still be distasteful, but easy to ignore without the appearance of endorsement by the entire team or the league as a whole.

We’ve given a lot of time, money and emotion to support a team. A simple sign of respect in reciprocity for all of that seems like the least we can ask.

[Ed. This story was corrected to indicate that Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett stood during the singing of the national anthem before the Oct. 8 game against the L.A. Rams.]

[Photo credit: AP]

Here’s What Happens When a Woman Runs for State Senate… as a Republican blogger Joel Connelly must not have been listening when former First Lady Michelle Obama called for political fighters to “go high.”

The veteran columnist’s first strike following the announcement that a new Republican has entered the pivotal race for state Senate in the 45th legislative district ran under the following headline:

“One of D.C.’s ’50 Most Beautiful’ shooting for Wash. senate”

Hat tip to The Stranger’s Heidi Groover for catching the original headline and posting it to Twitter with a tip from one journo to another:

The offense seems obvious. Instead of inserting any of Englund’s legitimate accomplishments into the headline, – and Connelly by association – chose to place a metaphoric tiara onto her head. Only the author of the headline knows for sure if the intent was to inaugurate a gross misconception that Englund is just a pretty face. *

We all know, however, what would happen if a female Democratic candidate received this treatment. A judgment of malice would come swiftly and the Republican candidate in the race would be asked to defend or repudiate obvious misogyny emanating from ‘their side.’

Nevertheless, within a few hours, the headline morphed into something less offensive, though still somewhat inaccurate and obvious in its intent. The scrubbing of the headline heads off a conversation in which uncomfortable questions about double standards practiced by the left would be asked. Have no fear, though. Based on water cooler chatter about how Englund’s candidacy and ethnicity have already been discussed in at least one liberal klatsch, there will be other opportunities.


* Ed. On the matter of whether Connelly authored the original headline, normally journalists are able to say honestly that they don’t write their own headlines. There’s no reason, however, to suspect this is the case with Connelly’s pieces, which is why we chose to preserve ambiguity.

To say that operates a streamlined editorial process would be a gross overstatement. Stories still run under the banner of a former print newspaper enterprise for which longtime locals have a fond memory, but now the masthead flies like a flag over a derelict ghost ship.

So, based on operational realities of a gutted newsroom (we believe this is sad, regardless of whether we agree with the general slant of Connelly’s writing), and other tell-tale clues that indicate a second set of eyes doesn’t often grace his work, we’re going suspect that Connelly was doing what has become commonplace in most threadbare news organizations – self-editing and self-publishing. There’s nothing wrong with that – we do that here at NW Daily Marker, too, out of necessity since we have literally NO operating budget outside of what the publisher (a.k.a, Me) spends from his own pocket.

Still, the authorship of the headline is relevant in assigning responsibility for what was an obvious and cheap attempt to diminish a woman’s more substantive accomplishments and instead push forward a narrative that her primary achievement is having a pretty face.

Jinyoung Lee Englund Announces in Key Washington State Senate Race

The wait is over. A Republican has stepped into what is likely to be this year’s spotlight race in Washington state.

Jinyoung Lee Englund announced Tuesday that she will run in the special election to fill the state Senate seat left vacant by the untimely death of Sen. Andy Hill.

Jinyoung Lee Englund, candidate for Washington state Senate. [Official campaign photo.]

Englund enters the race almost two months after Democrat and Deputy King County Prosecutor Manka Dhingra tossed her hat into the ring.

Time is money and Dhingra’s head start can be measured in dollars. As of the end of March, Dhingra had raised nearly $200,000, according to reports made to the State Public Disclosure Commission. Don’t expect the imbalance to be anything but temporary, however. Seasoned operatives expect the race to draw in record or near-record dollars from both sides.

The stakes are high. A Democratic win returns to them full control of the Legislature and brings Gov. Jay Inslee’s pen back into the picture as a tool to enact their agenda. A victory by Republicans retains the only solid foothold to stand on when moving forward fresh approaches and putting the brakes on bad ideas.

A Democratic proposal to enact a tax on income earned from capital gains is just one agenda piece that could swing with the 45th. Transportation angst is another and there are many more. So, although voters in the 45th will ultimately determine control of the Legislature, voter anxiety over those questions that will feature in the race is shared by voters statewide.

The full release that accompanied Englund’s announcement can be found on her campaign website.

Sen. Andy Hill announces recurrence of lung cancer

Washington state Sen. Andy Hill, (R-Redmond)

Washington state Sen. Andy Hill, (R-Redmond)

In a message posted to his campaign website Monday afternoon, state Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) announced that he is battling lung cancer for the second time.

Hill had been cancer-free since 2010 when he overcame a serious bout with the disease including participating in clinical trials of experimental treatments.  His doctors found new evidence of cancer during a recent screening.

Hill, now serving the second year of his second term as a state senator, has been a driving force within the Olympia Senate Republican caucus leadership, most notably being the lead budget writer during several concurrent sessions of tense budget negotiations.

Although Monday’s message to supporters didn’t specifically address how the news would impact his term in office, he may have alluded to it when saying, “…[T]here are tens of thousands of Washingtonians and millions of Americans who are fighting and living their lives with some form of this illness right now as well. They don’t let it slow them down and I don’t intend to let it either.”

The entire text of Hill’s message to supporters is as follows:


Dear Friends,

During my time as both a candidate and as a state senator I have worked to maintain close communication with all of you as a part of my commitment to honest and accountable representation.

And while I thrive on the input I receive from across this district and the region, I consider honesty and accountability a two-way street. And that’s why I wanted to give you a personal update.

As most of you know, seven years ago I was diagnosed with lung cancer. Thanks to our great health care system and terrific doctors, I was able to be part of an experimental trial drug and quickly became cancer free. That drug soon became available to all and it and its successors have protected me for many years.

But the body can build up an immunity to specific treatments and last week my doctors discovered a small recurrence.

Those of you familiar with my story know I take a tough approach to this chronic condition and, as a result, I will be undergoing aggressive treatment including traditional chemotherapy followed by new cutting-edge medications.

I appreciate the concern so many of you show regularly for my well-being and I want to remind you that there are tens of thousands of Washingtonians and millions of Americans who are fighting and living their lives with some form of this illness right now as well. They don’t let it slow them down and I don’t intend to let it either.

We live in a tremendous community with great advances in the medical field and outstanding doctors. I am confident that, working with them, I’ll have a clean bill of health again soon.

I draw strength from the support and the prayers on my behalf from so many of you and I am asking you to keep those coming—particularly on behalf of Molly and the kids.

Thanks for everything and warmest regards,




WA-03: Congressional Candidate Believes Teaching Kids About Union Leaders as Important as Pres. Lincoln, MLK

Bob Dingethal is running as a Democrat in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat.

Bob Dingethal is running as a Democrat in the race for the 3rd Congressional District seat. [Image: Bob Digenthal for Congress Facebook page.]

While the left-wing media feeds and prunes the divide among Republicans on the subject of Common Core curriculum in public schools – like a bonsai artist, they diligently manage development of controversy to produce small and distinct political coalitions – one Democrat running for Congress in Washington State has voiced his own bad idea for education that most Republicans can find common ground opposing.

Bob Dingethal, who is running as a Democrat for U.S. House in Southwest Washington’s third congressional district, believes that a doctrinal education in the history of American unions can’t begin early enough.

Speaking Saturday at the Washington State Labor Council/AFL-CIO candidate endorsement conference in Seattle, Dingethal said that teaching our children about union leaders was as important as educating them about our great presidents and civil rights leaders.

Digenthal voiced his strong belief that “the [educational system] must change to represent unions from the beginning of a child’s education. Every child should know who Samuel Gompers, the Reuther Brothers, people like Phil Parker are as well as they know who Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. are.”

Dinge went on, singing loud and proud from the hymnal of big labor.

“[W]e need to stand steadfastly together, and we need to rebuild America’s economy by doubling, tripling – hopefully even quadrupling – the number of union members in America.”

But not all union jobs are created equal, at least according to Dingethal’s position on the expansion of coal exports from terminals in Washington state. A good portion of the economic activity and jobs created (a large number of them union) would be associated with the proposed terminal near Longview, Wash. Longview is in the third congressional district, but Dingethal has publicly opposed the project. In a statement dated March 26 and posted to his campaign website, Dingethal makes his opposition clear.

Watch the video and judge for yourself whether it was pandering or audience appreciation that compelled Dingethal.

Dingethal is running to unseat Congresswoman Jaime Herrera Beutler and currently appears to be the only Democrat in the race. Michael Delavar is also running in the primary as a Republican.



Mill Creek Councilman Mark Harmsworth Will Run to Replace Retiring State Rep. Mike Hope in 44th Leg District

mark_harmsworthState Rep. Mike Hope (R-Lake Stevens) will retire at the end of his third term, a decision made Thursday that was quickly followed with an announcement that Mill Creek Councilman Mark Harmsworth will run in next year’s election to replace him and keep a Republican in the seat.

Harmsworth will seek to apply his experience working in the tech sector to reducing government waste and freeing up funding for education and other needed services.

“The annual cuts to education, increased class sizes and the waste we see in government have to stop,” said Harmsworth in his official announcement. “We can fully fund our schools. We can expand health care to those who do not have it without breaking what we already have.”

“Here in Washington, we have always led the world in innovation and ideas,” said Harmsworth. “Unfortunately, that spirit of innovation has not found its way into state government.”

Harmsworth and his wife moved to the US from England two decades ago to ride the technology wave that resulted in a lengthy career with Microsoft and a recent move to Amazon. Since coming to the US, they have become citizens and raised a family of three in Washington.

Their journey has afforded Harmsworth a unique perspective that is enhanced by an impressive record of civil service. In addition to his two terms on the Mill Creek City Council, Harmsworth serves as Vice President of Snohomish Cities and Towns and is on the Board of Directors of the Everett Community College Foundation Board.

“If Olympia doesn’t change priorities,” said Harmsworth, “then we will go the way of Europe. I didn’t leave there 20 years ago just to go back to that.”

In addition to his experience on the Mill Creek Council, Harmsworth “knows the dirt” in the 44th, as they say, having run to represent the district in 2012. In that year, Harmsworth gave entrenched Democratic state Rep. Hans Dunshee a run for his money. Dunshee went back to Olympia to be appointed Chair of the House Capital Budget Committee, but only after achieving his smallest margin of victory in recent years.

Harmsworth’s campaign experience should be a positive factor as well as his endorsement by Hope considering the outgoing legislator’s popularity among voters.

Hope – a Seattle police officer, former Marine and aspiring actor – began serving in the state House in 2008 in a close race but since has been a difficult Republican to beat in Snohomish County’s tricky political landscape. Hope, however, confided to The Everett Herald’s Jerry Cornfield in June his uncertainty about a making future bid after a grueling 2013 legislative calendar that included one regular and three special sessions.

Read Harmsworth’s entire official release here:

Mill Creek Councilman Mark Harmsworth announced today he will run for the State House to replace the retiring Rep. Mike Hope.

Hope announced he will not seek re-election in 2014 and has endorsed Harmsworth.

“My wife and I moved here from England nearly 20 years ago as part of the tech industry boom,” said Harmsworth. “We became U.S. citizens, had three kids and fell in love with the Pacific Northwest.”

Harmsworth said state leaders should stop thinking in terms of which tough choices to make in terms of government priorities and focus on building the economy.

“The annual cuts to education, increased class sizes and the waste we see in government have to stop,” said Harmsworth. “We can fully fund our schools. We can expand health care to those who do not have it without breaking what we already have.”

Harmsworth said he will bring fresh ideas to Olympia from his experiences at Microsoft and Amazon.

“Why do we keep hearing that we must either cut school funding or increase taxes?” said Harmsworth. “Legislators should focus on improving the economy which will increase state revenues and solve the funding problem.

“Here in Washington, we have always led the world in innovation and ideas,“ said Harmsworth. “Unfortunately, that spirit of innovation has not found its way into state government.”

Harmsworth, his wife Sarah, and their three children live in Mill Creek.  He is a two term City Councilmember, Vice-president of Snohomish Cities and Towns and is on the Board of Directors of the Everett Community College Foundation Board. Harmsworth has recently joined Amazon after a long career with Microsoft.

“If Olympia doesn’t change priorities,” said Harmsworth, “then we will go the way of Europe. I didn’t leave there 20 years ago just to go back to that.”

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