Congress coddles, hamstrings money-losing Postal Service

In 2014, the U.S. Postal Service lost $5.5 billion. It was the eighth year in a row the Postal Service lost money, for a total of $51.7 billion over that stretch. More than anything, the Postal Service’s money woes are driven by the more than 60% decline in first-class letters that Americans send. While the […]

L&I expert at ducking job-creating reforms

Some things in Olympia never change. Summer is always a little hotter there than in Seattle or Tacoma, and it’s a smidge rainier in the winter. There are always plenty of patchouli oil products for  sale at the Farmers Market. The sandwiches at Meconi’s are always good. And our government-monopoly workers compensation system, run out […]

Gov’s choice to quit on water quality update a mistake

When someone quits on an important public project that they founded, it can leave the people who came on board and worked in good faith a little confused. No doubt a few stakeholders on Gov. Inslee’s water quality taskforce felt a little confused earlier this year when the governor threw out their carefully negotiated work […]

Solyndra lied, feds bit – who will be held responsible?

“Solyndra”, like Watergate, is now in the political lexicon as shorthand for a particular kind of scandal. When the solar panel company went bankrupt in 2011, it had already wasted over $500 million in government loans, paid for by American taxpayers. For all the promises about Solyndra’s growth potential and new “clean energy” jobs, the […]

Why shouldn’t state Obamacare exchange reveal employee salaries?

A new state law requires the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (WHBE), the state’s Obamacare exchange, to reveal employee salary data to the Legislature and the public. If you’re surprised it doesn’t do that already, you’re not alone. As everyone is aware, the exchange has had numerous issues since its Fall 2013 rollout to the public. […]

When consultants guide gov’t, their records are public

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber resigned from office earlier this year amid allegations that his First Lady, Cylvia Hayes, concealed large sources of her income from the public. Hayes received well-paid contracts from environmental groups while at the same time Kitzhaber was allowing Hayes to help direct state environmental policy. Kitzhaber thought he could weather the […]

“Just trust us” not good enough on Hanford clean-up

After a very long and specific negotiation, our state and the federal government came to an important agreement in 2010 on the clean-up of the contaminated Hanford site. Gov. Gregoire and I hailed the consent decree that the two sides reached as a watershed moment for Hanford. Finally, there would be clear expectations and deadlines […]

Court invalidates shot at Catholic health care

Officials and government agencies often overstep their authority and assert their right to regulate matters that are actually beyond their mandate. The courts are supposed to be out last redoubt when that happens, though seeking resolution there can be lengthy and expensive. The state Supreme Court smacked down one such overreach Thursday, ruling that the […]

Taking the “charter” out of public charter schools

Our state’s voter-approved charter schools law was passed to give some families not well-served by traditional public schools other models to better meet their kids’ needs. The initiative was a limited toe-dip into different educational options. The very idea of charter schools is that they’re allowed to operate under their own unique “charter,” based on […]

Open negotiations: What’s the big secret?

When Senate Republicans unveiled their budget earlier this spring (as this second special session drags on, that feels like ages ago), they proposed a new approach to state employee pay raises. Their budget gave employees a flat $2,000 raise instead of the percentage increases negotiated between the Governor’s Office and public employee unions. The flat […]