All political power is inherent in the people, and governments derive their just powers from the consent of the governed, and are established to protect and maintain individual rights.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Governor debates about minmum wage

Gov. Jay Inslee and challenger Bill Bryant were on stage together Wednesday [August 17] for their first debate. Too often the “debates” we see between public officials are the accusations they trade back and forth in TV ads. That’s why real debates are so important. There’s no substitute for putting candidates in the same room, pinning their positions down with sharp questions, and letting them directly challenge each other.

Not surprisingly, the issue of a higher minimum wage came up. With an initiative on this fall’s ballot, you’ll be hearing a lot more on this topic. Inslee said something striking on that stage. Asked about those who might lose their jobs if the initiative passes, he said to look at Seattle’s new minimum wage law: “The evidence has shown no loss of employment, no loss of profitability, no loss of net businesses.”

Only trouble is, that’s not true. The true “evidence” shows much more of a mixed bag. Of course there are some job losses for some low-wage workers, even as others have benefited.

Just ask Felix Ngoussou. The Seattle restaurant owner attended a “media availability” Tuesday of business owners backing the statewide minimum wage initiative. He said he supports the initiative but also said, going off the organizers’ script, “he had to cut staff in the wake of the [Seattle city's] minimum wage hike. ‘I used to have four. I now have two.’ He was asked again for clarification. You reduced employee numbers? ‘Yes.’ Because of the minimum wage? ‘Yes.’ Campaign sponsors scattered in a panic.”

That’s another kind of unvarnished truth that you won’t see in a campaign TV commercial.
-Rob McKenna


The minimum wage debate is based on the idea that if people are forced to pay more for a thing, they will still buy the same amount.  This is absurd on its face.  Obviously if the wage goes up, employers will look for ways to use less labor.

People have gotten confused by the apparent success of unions.  But they overlook the fact that unions represent skilled workers, and further, that unions often certify the skill level of the union members they send out to a job. 

Minimum wage is usually thought to apply only to the beginning worker.  The beginner is usually unskilled and not accustomed to working.  If you remember your first job, you remember it takes a lot of self-discipline to get going to work.

Minimum wage only creates more dependency on government handouts for the unemployed.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Washington State Supreme Court

We are in the midst of a unique political season. There may not be a consensus regarding candidates at the national level, but we all can join together to make a HUGE difference in our state. Greg Zempel, the popular six-term prosecutor from Kittitas County, is running for Washington State Supreme Court Justice (Position 5). We all need him on our state’s highest court.

As you know, I am a close observer of the state Supreme Court and I can tell you, this court has lost the respect of many, as long established precedents in criminal law are replaced with result-oriented, unworkable decisions. This means that our police, prosecutors and trial judges are uncertain about how to proceed in many cases. There is a public safety cost to this uncertainty, as some criminals go free who should remain incarcerated.

The Court’s overreach is unmistakable. As you likely have heard, the justices are holding the legislature in contempt because of funding choices they don’t agree with. They are fining “the state” (i.e., all of us) $100,000 a day, raising serious questions about the separation of powers between the legislative and judicial branches of our state government.

Voter-approved charter schools were also nearly closed by the Supreme Court, threatening some of the most at-risk and deserving children in our state with the loss of schools they love just a day before the new school year was to begin.

Another voter-approved initiative, I-1053, was also overturned by the Court even though the voters have made it clear again and again that they want to require a 2/3 legislative majority for raising taxes.

Greg Zempel was elected in 1994 as the Kittitas County Prosecutor and has been re-elected five times. He has practiced at every court level in our system, from district court to the Washington State Supreme Court, and tried well over 100 jury trials as a defense attorney (his former career) and prosecutor.

Zempel was instrumental in creating the Sexual Assault Interagency Coalition, and Protecting Our Children, a community organization that educates parents on protecting their children from predators. Zempel also assisted in creating the Kittitas County Drug Court which functions to change the lives of drug addicts whose criminal conduct impacts our communities.

Prosecutor Zempel is committed to strengthening public safety according to the rule of law and the rights and freedoms protected in our state constitution.

-- Rob McKenna


Washington State Impolite endorses Greg Zempel, Judge Dave Larson, and David DeWolf for Supreme Cour.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Corruption in the auditor's office

Embattled State Auditor Troy Kelley was back in the news yesterday. Last week a jury found him not guilty of lying to the IRS and deadlocked on the other charges.

The prosecution’s contention, however, is still true: Kelley’s actions to move and conceal millions of dollars were not the actions of someone who was convinced he was innocent.

With the trial over, Kelley apparently thinks that it’s now time to settle scores. He forced two Auditor employees to resign this week and is requiring another to do no work until his retirement later this month.

Kelley's motive seems to be punishing those he deems insufficiently loyal to him during the awkward time during his indictment and trial, when Auditor’s Office employees had to muddle through as best they could.

Deputy Auditor Jan Jutte, who ran the office admirably during Kelley’s absence, told the News Tribune, “I don't know what's going on. I have a lot of staff who are living in fear, asking what they should do, and I don't have any advice for them.” It’s just one more example of how Washington will be better off without Troy Kelley in office.

-Rob McKenna

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Washignton state 2015 measures election results

The People decided the following initiatives (The results are not final at this time):

The People approved Initiative 1366 concerning state taxes and fees. This measure would decrease the sales tax rate unless the legislature refers to voters a constitutional amendment requiring two-thirds legislative approval or voter approval to raise taxes, and legislative approval for fee increases. 

The People approved Initiative 1401 concerning trafficking of animal species threatened with extinction. This measure would make selling, purchasing, trading, or distributing certain animal species threatened with extinction, and products containing such species, a gross misdemeanor or class-C felony, with exemptions for certain types of transfers. (My 100 year old Steinway piano, which has keys made from elephant ivory, cannot be sold legally anymore.)

The People were also asked to advise the legislature on four matters.

Advisory Vote No. 10 Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1449, oil spill response and administration taxes, should be repealed.

Advisory Vote No. 11 Second Substitute Senate Bill 5052, marijuana excise tax on medical marijuana sales, should be maintained.

Advisory Vote No. 12 Second Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5987, additional taxes on motor vehicle and special fuels, should be repealed.

Advisory Vote No. 13 Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 6138m, increased business and occupation tax revenues and excluded certain software manufacturers from a retail sales tax exemption, should be repealed.

There were two legislative positions decided:  You can find them here.

Three judgeships were decided.  You can see the results here.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Legislative interim update, Oct. 7

Much of the interim news has been focused on education. The Washington State Supreme Court has issued a second controversial ruling. The most recent being that the state's voter-approved charter-schools are unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court ruled charter schools don't qualify as "common" schools under our state constitution and cannot receive state funding.

The court's ruling affects about 1,200 students and their families, and may impact other educational programs such as Running Start and skill centers that provide career and technical education for high school students. Traditional, public schools aren't the answer for all students. Our charter schools provide greater flexibility in order to respond to students’ needs.

The timing of their latest ruling was unsettling. The state Supreme Court decided to issue its ruling on the Friday before a Labor Day weekend with many schools already in session. They had the case for more than a year, yet chose to issue a ruling at a time that may be the most disruptive, and not when the Legislature could possibly address the Court's concerns.

The Legislature is looking at options. There is support for charter schools from both Republicans and Democrats. We will be looking at a legislative fix when we return to Olympia in January.

There is still a chance this may get resolved before the Legislature needs to act. Washington State Attorney General Bob Ferguson has also urged the state Supreme Court to reconsider its decision.

McCleary update K-12 funding increases

In my last email update I touched on the  latest McCleary ruling from Aug. 13. You will recall the state Supreme Court wants to fine the Legislature $100,000 per day for violating the court's McCleary decision on funding education. They are also demanding the Legislature return to Olympia for another special session.

With recent teacher strikes around the state, along with the latest McCleary ruling, it is worth reiterating a few points regarding the Legislature's work and the Court’s order.

  • Our state remains on track for full compliance of the 2012 McCleary order by the original 2018 deadline.
  • By directing appropriations under McCleary the court is trying to do the job of the Legislature, which is outside of its constitutional powers. Only the Legislature has the constitutional vested power to appropriate public monies.
  • The operating budget provided historic increases in K-12 education (see chart) and was one of the greatest bipartisan budgets in decades.
  • The spending plan included cost-of-living increases for teachers, made major investments in early learning and expands all-day kindergarten, reduces class sizes in grades K-3.
  • The capital budget included $200 million for classroom construction.

My colleagues continue to advocate for a "Fund Education First" solution which would require the Legislature to pass a separate K-12 education budget before any other state appropriation. This would ensure we are putting education and our children first when it comes down to the budgeting process.

Wildfire update

I want to commend our first responders for their efforts during the devastating wildfires this year. Without their efforts, things could have been much worse. I spent a lot of time on the front lines of the fires in Chelan and Okanogan counties and they should be commended.

That said, I expect us to look at further improvements with our state agencies and collaborative efforts with the federal government to manage and fight wildfires. All of us have a vested interest in preserving our environment and protecting our natural resources.

The unfortunate realities of the current drought and wildfire season remind us of the need for efficient management. We must continue to focus on long-term solutions such as clearing our forests of debris and undergrowth, and disease management.

Cary Condotta

What other people read on this blog

Effing the ineffable - Washington State elections sometimes have been rigged.

“It is enough that the people know there was an election. The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything.”
-- Joseph Stalin