Tag: Andy Hill

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,




Do As We Say, Not As We Do: Teachers Union Redoubles Attacks on State Sen. Andy Hill in Second Special Session

When a student in a public school intimidates or threatens someone, they’re subject to discipline and possible suspension. When the teachers we entrust to educate our children do it, it’s called freedom of speech. State Sen. Andy Hill (R-Redmond) may be accustomed to being a target for vitriolic attacks orchestrated by teachers unions, but recent efforts may have crossed a line.

According to a first-hand account, members of the Service Employees International Union used Woodinville High School’s recent graduation ceremony as a venue for political organizing, handing out “programs” attacking Hill and also distributing the senator’s personal cell phone number.

(It calls to mind another political blunder committed earlier this year by Gov. Jay Inslee’s passing around of another Republican’s phone number to assist his lobbying effort to pass an ultimately doomed gun control bill.)

The SEIU’s questionable practice of handing out personal and private information coincides with a several months-long campaign against Hill by the Washington Education Association and affiliated local unions that speak on behalf of teachers.

Even during the regular session in March, Hill was a featured target of campaign-style WEA hit pieces branding him as a member of the so-called “The Rodney Tom Six.”

How does the behavior of the teachers entrusted with our children’s education square with school policies promoting the value of human dignity? Not well. The section of the Lake Washington School District code of conduct dealing with “human dignity” reads:

A major aim of education in the Lake Washington School District is the development of a commitment to the core values of a democratic society. In accordance with that aim, the district strongly emphasizes a core value of mutual human respect for each person regardless of individual differences and/or characteristics. We expect this value to be manifested in the daily behaviors of students, staff, and volunteers.

No to be deterred by commonly-held standards of civility, this coming Wednesday the WEA will again tempt parents and voters to issue them the well-deserved detention slip that school administrators will never hand out. The union has scheduled a rally in Kirkland to further fan the flames of union outrage. From a WEA communique to members:

Sen. Hill’s ideological political demands are standing in the way of what we really need: Fully funded K-12 public schools, including smaller class sizes for all students and the voter-approved COLA for all school employees.

What are the “ideological political demands” the WEA accuses Hill of making?

The Senate budget Hill has helped to craft increases funding for basic education by $1 billion in 2013-2015, and other Senate bills would create new accountability measures for student performance and end the practice of denying school principals any say in teacher placements. The Senate budget does not raise new taxes to accomplish this, and curbs the growth of non-education spending.

The House Democrat budget that also has the support of Inslee dedicates only $700 million less in new funds for basic education, but seeks to increase taxes and continues to grow non-education spending.

The WEA has made clear its demands for higher teacher pay, smaller class sizes and continued forced placement of teachers, a policy that 85% of Washingtonians say they want to see ended.

Horse Head Politics Starting Early—State Teachers Union Launches Attacks at ‘Rodney Tom Six’ in State Senate

WEA strong-arm tactics invoke fear, but the union’s record in recent elections should embolden education reformers

Fullscreen capture 3262013 120603 PM.bmpTwo weeks ago, most Washingtonians only turned their clocks forward, but if spending on political attack ads is the sign of an election season underway the Washington Education  Association took it as a cue to turn their calendars forward, too.

In addition to earning top dog spender status for early 2013 among all lobbyists wooing state lawmakers in Olympia ($130,000 on lobbyists and ads as NPR’s Austin Jenkins reported Friday), the WEA is courting controversy with a historically early negative attack campaign aimed at four Republican and two Democratic state senators – state Sens. Rodney Tom (D-Medina), Bruce Dammeier (R-Puyallup), Andy Hill (R-Kirkland), Steve Hobbs (D-Lake Stevens), Steve Litzow (R-Mercer Island) and Joe Fain (R-Auburn).

One two-page WEA hit piece from the “Paramout Duty” campaign is reminiscent of an old-fashioned “Wanted: Dead or Alive” poster, photos of all six officials arranged in line-up fashion under the union-christened name of their outlaw gang: “The Rodney Tom Six.” The WEA asks us to “remember their names,” an ominous turn of phrase that invokes thoughts of banishment and exile.

Their shocking crime against humanity in the opinion of the teachers union: “Shirking their duty to our children.”

Fact-checking reveals that many of the WEA’s claims of the Tom Gang’s atrocities against our youth either play it fast and loose with the truth, or ignore the truth entirely.

One deception in particular – the claim that Washington state ranks 43rd in the nation for per pupil spending – is one voters should get used to seeing and hearing because it has particular shock value in the budget wars.

The WEA piece does not give a citation for their factoid, but according to Washington Policy Center education policy director Liv Finne, the figure is bogus and was “generated by manipulating the data.”

“For example, that Washington is 43rd in the nation in per pupil spending is arrived at by including a calculation for the personal income and wealth of a state’s citizens,” Finne said. “Because we have people like Bill Gates and others, that is a skewed figure.”

Finne notes that the National Center for Education Statistics – a project of the U.S. Dept. of Education – ranks Washington state at 28th for per pupil spending in terms of actual dollars.

For a fact-check noting more of the errors, inaccuracies and distortions in the WEA’s hit piece, read Finne’s excellent Tuesday morning post on the Washington Policy Center blog.

The negative tone of a second WEA smear piece – one singling out Hobbs – provoked the ire of Seattle Times editorial board member Lynne Varner last Friday.

“Hell hath no fury like the Washington Education Association,” Varner wrote under the headline “Does the WEA stand for Washington Education Association or We Eviscerate Anyone?” Varner also does an excellent job of pointing out the fallacies and false statements in the WEA’s attacks and her piece is well worth reading.

WEA scare tactics: more bark, less bite

“Hobbs is nervous. He’d be a fool not to be,” Varner writes, giving the young Democrat permission to quiver in his boots in advance of his turn in the inquisition.

By now, we assume Tom is used to being served up to the Democratic base by Party bosses – a sacrificial offering of roast black sheep to appease the mob. But the WEA’s further indulgence of its political bloodlust this early in the campaign season is bound to weaken the knees of some politicians.

Still, how much anxiety is appropriate? Varner’s portrayal of the WEA as an attack-prone political organization is apt; the union offensive targeting Hobbs and five others is a tactic that sends a clear warning: do not stray off the plantation. But aside from the psychological impact of the WEA’s ‘horse head in the bed’ approach to getting its way, will threats and flashing of knives translate into blood being spilled (symbolically, of course) when votes are counted?

After all, though there can be no doubt of the WEA’s power over state politics, the union’s effect on elections in 2012 was, well, underwhelming.

Like a cat arching its back to scare off a much larger animal, WEA chose to play defense in the 2012 legislative races. The bulk of their resources were dedicated preserving the Democratic Party’s hold on the Governor’s office, to the re-election of key state legislators and to a failed effort to defeat Initiative 1240, the statewide measure to allow public charter schools in Washington state.

Adopting a passive posture may have left the union behemoth flat-footed and lethargic as seems to be evidenced by the tale of two legislative races in Vancouver’s 17th District, a House race that meant nothing in terms of the balance of power and a Senate race that wound up changing the whole ballgame.

It was easy to see by late October that Republican hopes for outright control of the state Senate were fading fast. Targeted swing district races (such as Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe (D-Bothell)) were not panning out. Dreams of a Republican majority in the state House had been killed off much earlier. Even before the bulk of ballots started coming in, the die was cast – Democrats would maintain numeric majorities in both houses of the Legislature.

But in the 17th Legislative District, incumbent state Sen. Don Benton’s (R-Vancouver) was in the re-election fight of his political life, one that also would keep Senate Republicans within two votes of the majority. Earlier in 2012, Republicans had found the two open-minded Democrats willing to share power – Sen. Tom and Sen. Tim Sheldon – in their daring 9th Order parliamentary maneuver to pass a budget. The outcome of the Benton race was critical for Democrats.

Meanwhile, Democrat Monica Stonier was running in another photo-finish race for a 17th District state House seat, one that meant absolutely nothing in terms of the balance of power in Olympia.

Where did the WEA put their money? On Stonier, of course. The WEA spent only $19,000 in a losing effort against Benton, but kicked in far more than that amount to elect Stonier to the state House from the same district, a race that had far less strategic importance.

So, history comes full circle. Before the 2013 legislative session began, Republicans and two moderate Democrats formed the Majority Coalition Caucus to have real power over the Senate process, the result of which has been a lot of conversation and legislation that make the WEA nervous.

How about those chickens coming home to roost?

Fullscreen capture 3262013 115134 AM.bmpSo, too did the WEA’s gamble in opposing Initiative 1240 – the 2012 ballot measure approved by voters that will create new public charters in Washington state – end up being a loser. The WEA was largest in-state contributor to the campaigns against I-1240, contributing a total of more than $241,000 in cash and in-kind contributions to People for Our Public Schools PAC. (For comparison, the National Education Association spent $250,000 on the losing effort.)

If support for school choice is a sign of support for broader reforms in education, the bad news for the WEA’s pressure campaign against the Rodney Tom Six worsens when one examines how I-1240 did in those officials’ districts. Initiative 1240 passed statewide by only a percentage point, but on the Tom Six’s respective turf it passed by anywhere between 7 and 13-point margins.

How does the WEA avoid a crosswind of blowback from these multiple failures? Possibly because People for Our Public Schools flagrantly violated state campaign laws by routinely not listing its top three contributors on official printed pieces like this one, this one and this one. As a great comedian once said, “Cop didn’t see it; I didn’t do it.”

Well, WEA, Sherriff Lynne Varner saw it this time. Taxpayers and especially parents should all be paying close attention to the WEA. The goal of reforming the public education system so that current and future generations of children have the opportunity to reach their full potential is at stake.

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