Taxpayers Find Their Voice 4
FINANCIAL STATE-OF-THE-STATE 6
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by Amber Gunn
t’s official. Nearly six weeks into the 2011 legislative session, the Legislature has passed a supplemental budget to narrow the budget deficit created by unrealistic revenue expectations and fanciful spending plans. Unfortunately, the supplemental represents a $360 million solution to a roughly $600 million problem. It doesn’t take an engineer to realize the math doesn’t work. Legislators have until June 30 to close the remaining gap before the 2009-11 budget period ends. Budget leaders have been hesitant to commit themselves to any particular strategy for accomplishing that, but I’ll give you a hint—it probably won’t involve cuts. Gov. Christine Gregoire has offered a particularly distasteful budget gimmick that would do the trick by pushing off payments to school districts by one day— from June 30 to July 1—“saving” $250 million in the current budget. Of course, not only are no savings achieved with this tactic, but it actually adds pressure to the 2011-13 budget, which is already facing a gap around $5 billion, if you count the programs and new spending legislators had hoped to launch during that period. But there is something very broken about our budget process, as that projected budget gap exists despite the fact that revenue is expected to increase by $4.5 billion, or 16 percent, during the next budget period. How can we have a $5 billion budget gap if revenue is supposed to increase by so much? Part of the reason comes down to how the deficit projections are made. According to the Senate Ways & Means Committee, just to maintain current services, near general fund spending will have to increase by $5.3 billion, or 17 percent, from the current $31 billion budget level. This projected increase is called the maintenance level budget and includes catch-up pension contributions, restoration of suspended initiatives that provide annual teacher cost of living allowances and class size reduction funds, and replacement of one-time federal funds.
The shortfall projection worsens by about $1.6 billion if one includes selected policy additions for programs and spending legislators had planned to launch before they realized they were still on planet earth, and there’s a thing called “money” that is required to accomplish grand ideas that require labor and resources to fulfill. Let’s go another layer into the budget world. The current general fund budget, after December and February reductions, is approximately $29.7 billion dollars. Revenue, however, is only $28.1 billion, which means we are currently spending far more than the state is taking in. This is made possible through various budget gimmicks, which include the use of one-time federal dollars and dedicated account raids that make it look like we are “balancing” the current budget.
“Let’s review the math. The current general fund budget is approximately $31 billion. Revenue, however, is $28.1 billion . . .
General fund revenue is expected to increase to $32.6 billion, which is great news! You wouldn’t know it, however, since legislators “need” $37.9 (near general fund) billion to keep up their current spending trajectory. This is a 25 percent increase in spending in two years, up from the current Near General Fund budget level of $30.2 billion, which is why I believe the deficit projections, as legislators define them, are totally useless. Continued on page 3 . . .
“Quote” “The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion.” – Edmund Burke
VOLUME 21, Issue 3 Our mission is to advance individual liberty, free enterprise, and limited, accountable government.
Publisher: Brett Davis Editors: Juliana McMahan Jonathan Bechtle Steven Maggi Layout: Joel Sorrell
Freedom Foundation PO Box 552 Olympia, WA 98507 (360) 956-3482 Fax (360) 352-1874 www.myfreedomfoundation.org Living Liberty is a publication of the Freedom Foundation
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LEADERSHIP MEMO | by Jonathan Bechtle LUNCH & TEA PARTIES
THE 2011 LEGISLATURE A THIRD OF THE WAY HOME | by Scott St. Clair TAXPAYERS FIND THEIR VOICE | by Lasse Lund REFORMING TEACHER LAYOFF PROCEDURES: AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME by Diana Moore
FINANCIAL STATE-OF-THE-STATE | by Bob Williams it’s the day of reckoning ACE: BOUNDLESS POTENTIAL | by Diana Moore
STOP THURSTON COUNTY | by Scott Roberts DIARY OF A FREEDOM LOVING MOM | by Judy Parkins PUTTING SCREAMING ENERGY TO GOOD USE
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COMPETING STRATEGIES TO REVIVE FDERALISM AND RESTORE LIMITED GOVERNMENT by Trent England
FERRY WORKER FIREWORKS FAIL TO IMPRESS LEGISLATORS | by Scott St. Clair MAKING LIFE BETTER THROUGH MONTHLY GIVING | by Juliana McMahan PAYING FOR PUBLIC RECORDS IS A DANGEROUS IDEA | by Scott St. Clair QUICK HITS: QUIPS, QUOTES AND OTHER INTERESTING TIDBITS
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A PUBLICATION OF THE FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Lunch & Tea Parties “W
here should we get lunch?” Ever thrown that question out to a group of friends? I always get silence at first. Then someone gets brave and offers a suggestion. “What about Panera?” But…someone just ate there for breakfast, and is tired of bread bowls. Round and round it goes. It only stops when one person makes a decision with enough common appeal that the rest, gladly or grudgingly, follow. Making decisions based on common ground is essential to planning lunch. It’s also essential to bigger questions, like sustaining and growing the movement of citizens who have recently awakened to their loss of freedom. During the last two years thousands of people joined the ranks of engaged citizens all across our state, meeting regularly, holding rallies, working on campaigns and sundry other things. But now the election is over, and without having that compelling event as a goal, there is much fear that the Tea Party movement will lose steam—especially in our state, where the electoral gains weren’t as dramatic.
“There was no sense of letdown or of a job accomplished, but instead, a vision for what things could look like if citizens stay engaged.” It’s certainly a legitimate fear. But hundreds of unpaid, passionate volunteer leaders are doing their best to put that fear to rest. We met with nearly 200 of them several
State Budget Outlook continued on from page 1 . . . It’s inconceivable that budget mayhem is occurring due to the prospect of not being able to increase general fund spending by more than one-fifth. Spending has become so bloated, and entitlement growth so posh, that the carry forward costs are drowning the state budget in red ink. Our lawmakers have decided that rather than do a few things very well, the state will do as many things as they want it to, even if that means nothing is done well. Rather than defining the role of government, prioritizing spending and sticking to core functions, majority leaders are scheming to come up with ways to increase the state’s revenue any way they can. One example of this is House Bill 1735, which is dubbed the “clean water jobs act of 2011.” The substance of the bill is nearly identical to a bill introduced last year called the “clean water act of 2010.” That bill would have nearly tripled the hazardous substance tax, which is levied on petroleum products, pesticides and certain chemicals (which would include household cleaners like Windex and Pine Sol). The tax hike would have been equivalent to a gas tax increase in the range of 4 to 6
cents-per-gallon. Thankfully for taxpayers and commuters, the bill died. Unfortunately, it was resurrected in the form of HB 1735, except the bill’s sponsors decided to call the revenue raised in the bill a fee instead of a tax, even though the fee would be assessed on most—if not all—of the same products that are already subject to the Hazardous Substances Tax. A fee hike only requires a simple majority vote, a tax hike requires a two-thirds supermajority, thanks to Initiative 1053. Legislators, in all their garrulous maneuvering, are running roughshod over the law. The lawmakers have become the lawbreakers. The budget implications of this and other fee hikes are evident. As soon as a dedicated account balance grows to any amount that remotely catches the budget writers’ attention, it is “swept” into the general fund to pay for other priorities. This effectively turns the “fee”—if it could legitimately be called that to begin with—into a tax. Part of the reason legislators get away with this, is because they do it under the cover of relative obscurity. Average voters are blissfully unaware of the games leg-
by Jonathan Bechtle, J.D.
weeks ago at our Seattle-area Push Forward strategy conference, and the energy and excitement was contagious. People from all generations and walks of life were sharing war stories, encouragement and tips about how to keep people engaged. There was no sense of letdown or of a job accomplished, but instead, a vision for what things could look like if citizens stay engaged. And many were not the grizzled veterans of past political fights, but newcomers. People who had always sat on the sidelines, but now are leading the march. So they’re hungry for training and action steps, to equip them, to sustain and grow their followers. And they are seeking common goals, to ensure the movement doesn’t fracture. That’s where we can support them. Our Push Forward Conferences provided training in lobbying, blogging and research, all basic skill sets for a citizen who wants to make a difference. We signed folks up for legislative action alerts, to give them timely updates on key bills. And we created an Adopt-the-Legislature program, in which we offered to help groups set up a day at the Capitol to visit their legislators and see how the process works. (Some 35 groups have already expressed interest in adopting a day.) Most importantly, we’ve worked with citizen leaders to create understandable solutions to end our government’s spending binge, a patch of ground we can all agree to fight on. With a common goal in mind, and with motivated and equipped leaders, we have a fighting chance to restore a government that really does operate with the “consent of the governed.” And who knows, maybe we can figure out where to get lunch while we’re at it.
“ . . . if one shines a light on a pack of slimy legislators, they will scatter.”
islators are playing, and believe the excuses and lines they are fed because they don’t know any different. That is why we are working to bring this information to as many people in as many ways as possible. Like cockroaches, if one shines a light on a pack of slimy legislators, they will scatter. Exposing their tactics is one of the best methods we have to halting their assault on taxpayers. At the Freedom Foundation, we will continue to be your eyes and ears in Olympia, and to bring our watchdog bite when a bark just won’t suffice.
The 2011 Legislature a third of the way home by Scott St. Clair
ompared to last year’s session, the 2011 Legislature has been kind of a snoozer. While there have been a few interesting developments—the supplemental budget and Unemployment Insurance— there’s nothing like the big and partisan fight over the suspension of Initiative 960 and its tax-limitation provisions, which was immediately followed by a big and partisan fight over tax increases. Voters swept the tax-table clean in November when they reinstated the two-thirds-legislative-vote requirement by passing Initiative 1053 and rejected other taxincrease measures in a way that left no room for doubt as to their disdain for tax hikes. Yet there are legislators who hope-against-hope that something can be slipped through the cracks. Whether it’s in the form of a broad array of fee increases or new fees, putting a tax package before the voters for transportation projects or to save the state’s Basic Health Plan, which provides heavily subsidized health insurance for low-income people, or what seems to be the favorite of progressives and their friends in labor, “closing loopholes for banks and big corporations.” Under 1053, fee increases need only a majority vote of the Legislature, so watch for a lot of them to go through. Otherwise, however, it will be a cold day in you-knowwhere before any of the others make it to the finish line. Then again, it’s been an unusually cold winter everywhere you go. Legislators are also keeping fingers, toes and eyes crossed for a rosy revenue forecast in hopes that the March revenue forecast will show an uptick in expected tax receipts so that they can avoid having to make more and deeper budget cuts for the 2011-2013 biennium. Early signs indicate that the forecast will be just the opposite. The State Economic and Revenue Forecast Council released numbers showing that late-2010 tax receipts would not meet expectations, which bodes ill for the full report due in March. Tax revenues were “$105.9 million (8.4 percent) lower than our November forecast, but most of the negative variance in this period is estimated to have been due to
a change in the payment pattern of Revenue Act taxes,” said the report. Forecasters blamed the increasing use of holiday gift cards for much of the decline in sales-tax receipts in the run up to Christmas. Whether this is true remains to be seen.
Supplemental Budget Politics
The first substantive votes in both the House and Senate were on adjustments to the budget for the remainder of the 2009-2011 biennium. Called the supplemental budget, it needed to make cuts to reflect the reality of declining tax revenues. Each house had its approach, while Gov. Christine Gregoire had hers. The House took it up first, voting along partisan lines to trim the existing budget by $223 million. The Senate’s version, which was touted as bipartisan, upped the ante to $254 million, while the governor had requested cuts of just over $242 million. Looking at the different approaches, it looked to be a matter of whose programs were targeted and whose were protected. The House wanted to take back over $42 million in K-4 class-size-reduction dollars already given to school districts, while the Senate pared that to $25.5 million. The Senate eliminated cash payments to disabled indigent persons under the Disability Lifeline program, while the House-passed bill kept them. The Senate kept the Basic Health Plan, but closed the door to new admissions At press time, a final package had yet to be passed by both houses. There’s some talk of using a budget gimmick to once again delay the inevitable. Instead of paying schools on June 30, delaying the payment one day to July 1 shoves it into the 2011-2013 biennium, thus taking it off the books for the current biennium. Nothing up my sleeve…
Both the House and Senate passed a combination ratereduction and benefit-increase unemployment insurance bills that Gov. Gregoire signed in mid-February. Missing her State-of-the-State address-imposed February 8 deadline by three days, she nevertheless got basically what she asked for. Instead of a 36 percent rate increase, which would have happened without the new legislation, businesses
in Washington state will see a 5 percent hike. The state’s Unemployment Insurance fund is touted as one of the healthiest in the nation, hence the willingness of some in the Legislature to support a lower rate hike. Unemployed workers will see benefits increased by $25 per work starting in March. But the increase is temporary and expires in November. Changes were also made in existing law to qualify the state to receive an additional $320 million in federal funding for benefits for the long-term unemployed. Labor demands for higher benefits for those with dependents didn’t make the cut. Both sides made a big deal about the bipartisan backing of the bills. By mid-February, this was the biggest deal to hit town.
Taxpayers find their voice by Lasse Lund
aid lobbyists, special interest groups and public sector union representatives flood the Legislature’s halls every day of the week from January through April. Their mission? Demand more spending for a select minority of citizens while asking for increased taxes on the majority to pay for it. These groups have dominated the political discussion in our state for too long, and it is time for taxpayers to have an equal voice. We need to restore power to the people of Washington and remind our lawmakers regularly about whom they are accountable to. To accomplish this, the Citizen Action Network created our Adopt-the-Legislature Day program. We are working with grassroots organizations in communities all across to state to facilitate a steady taxpayer presence on the Capitol campus throughout the legislative
session. Each group that signs onto the program commits to spending one day of session meeting with their legislators, attending committee hearings and simply being present on campus. A Freedom Foundation representative will meet with each group at the outset of their day to provide them with a policy briefing and help them find their way around the legislative grounds.
their efforts and sharing the load, they can provide lawmakers with an alternative perspective and advocate on behalf of those who cannot afford to be present. For more information about the Adopt-the-Legislature Day program, please visit the Citizen Action Network website at TheCitizenActionNetwork.org.
“Unlike bureaucrats, taxpayers don’t have the advantage of being paid for the time they spend speaking to legislators . . .” Unlike bureaucrats, taxpayers don’t have the advantage of being paid for the time they spend speaking to legislators, and many have jobs, families and other responsibilities to attend to. However, by coordinating
If you are a member of a grassroots group that would like to participate in the Adopt-the-Legislature Day program, please call Lasse at 360-956-3482 or contact him at email@example.com.
A PUBLICATION OF THE FREEDOM FOUNDATION
Reforming teacher layoff procedures: An idea whose time has come by Diana Moore
or decades the newest teachers have had to prepare for the worst when education budgets get tight. "Last-in, first-out" (LIFO) policies have required districts to make staffing cuts based purely on seniority, with no regard to a teacher’s effectiveness. This system defies all logic—that is, if educating students is the school system’s top priority. Policies like LIFO call this into question. Voters have made it clear they aren’t going to let lawmakers and the special interests they serve get away with this nonsense much longer. A group of common sense legislators decided this year it was time to shake things up. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, sponsored two identical bills. Their intent section represents a true student-centered focus. "Ensuring that teachers who do the best work are the ones who keep their jobs when budgets need to be cut, by basing reduction in force policies on the evaluations the Legislature has outlined for measuring teacher performance. Since the loss of teachers through layoffs already impacts student learning, there is an urgent need to conduct layoffs in a way that retains the most effective teachers. Educators deserve to be recognized for their ability to help students learn and children deserve the very best and brightest teachers." Senate Bill 5399 did not receive a hearing. Its companion bill, House Bill 1609, co-sponsored by seven Democrats and two Republicans, did. By 1 p.m. on February 15 the hearing room was packed, standing room only. The hearing didn’t begin until 1:30. True to their word, the Washington Education Association had a strong showing, sporting their “teacher opposed to HB 1609” stickers. Yet they were equally matched by the dozens of parents and teachers wearing green “Great Schools” or “Stand for Children” stickers. Stand for Children, a national grassroots organization with a chapter in Washington, is a member of the coalition supporting HB 1609. Because of committee business, public testimony was kept to 30 minutes, allowing only a fraction of those wishing to testify to do so. Their stories made a powerful case, though. First in favor of HB 1609 was State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn. He offered powerful testimony: “My philosophy as a principal was always to try to improve the teacher first and then, if that doesn’t work, remove the teacher as a last resort.” Dorn was followed by alternating panels of parents and teachers supporting the bill and panels of special interests groups and teachers opposing it. Parents told stories of young, inexperienced teachers who had changed their child’s life through excellent teaching—and had been laid off. They talked about wanting the best teachers for their students, regardless of years of experience. Among the most powerful testimony was that offered by young teachers in poor Seattle public schools. One said, “Our kids—not necessarily our teachers—so badly need this bill…I explained this bill to my
students yesterday, just briefly. And they were exasperated that adults would ever behave this way, that we would not want our best teachers for them. Let’s be clear, if our goal is to best educate our students, we must ensure that they have the best teachers. It’s in the best interests of principals to keep their best teachers, so the best teachers shouldn’t worry about negative evaluations. Evaluations, overcrowding and all other excuses that are put out by my union are just excuses to protect underperforming teachers. Let’s do what’s right for our kids.”
“A group of common sense legislators decided this year it was time to shake things up. Rep. Eric Pettigrew, D-Seattle, and Sen. Rodney Tom, D-Medina, sponsored two identical bills. Their intent section represents a true student-centered focus.”
Questions about online learning? We’ve got answers! Online Learning 101: A Guide to Virtual Public Education in Washington Get your copy of the firstever comprehensive guide to online learning in Washington. Find out: -How online learning works -Advantages -Answers to common criticisms
Rep. Eric Pettigrew (D-Seattle)
Sen. Rodney Tom (D-Medina)
Another teacher cited the work of Dan Goldhaber, lead author of a study recently published by the Center on Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington. Goldhaber’s research shows that seniority-based layoffs, as opposed to layoffs based on teacher-effectiveness, could result in lowered student achievement by two-and-half to three-and-a-half months of learning per student. Testimony opposing HB 1609 focused primarily on the fact that Washington's teacher evaluation policies are undergoing reform, per last year's SB 6696, and so teachers’unions aren't ready to support policy like this. They argued that this legislation would undercut what has been accomplished and what is in progress. While this point stands up better than most (like the nonsensical argument that experienced teachers are necessarily better teachers), it ignores several important facts. First, last year's legislation did not require new evaluation procedures to consider student achievement. They required that teachers who received unsatisfactory evaluations would be transferred to another classroom or sent on paid leave until the completion of their contract. Finally, the new evaluation procedures will not go into effect until the fall of 2013. In a single sentence, one mother countered the testimony of multiple special interest leaders. She said, "For those that would say the timing isn't right, for those who would say 'wait,' my children are in school right now." HB 1609 is unlikely to make it to the floor for a vote this year. But its introduction, its support and the dialog it produced are telling signs that it will likely be back.
-History & policy -Opposition -What’s next? And, next steps for parents, teachers, districts and policymakers! For more information, visit www.iLearnProject.com
It’s the Day of Reckoning
The following is an excerpt of an updated (February 2011) version of Bob Williams’ original “Financial State-of-the-State” report. To read the entire report, go to: http://www.myfreedomfoundation.com/files/ pdf/Financial%20State-of-the-State.pdf
n 2009 and 2010, Gov. Christine Gregoire and Democrat legislative leaders crafted a financially irresponsible budget. They postponed necessary spending reductions, perhaps hoping for a miracle of sorts. But in political eschatology, it’s the day of reckoning. The revenue forecast for the fiscal year (FY) 2011-13 biennium is an increase of 16 percent from 2009-11 revenue levels. The $4.6 billion deficit estimate includes significant policy level increases and costly assumptions—most of which do not have to be included in the budget adopted by the Legislature. In the current budget (FY 2009-11) the state is spending nearly $2 billion more than the revenue forecast.
The failure of the governor and Legislature to balance the budget without resorting to accounting gimmicks, using one-time federal funds and “sweeping” over $1.3 billion from dedicated funds is causing the 2011-13 budget deficit. If the Legislature had not spent more than the current revenue forecast, the state would have a surplus for the next budget. In February 2010, the National Governors Association (NGA) estimated states would face budget deficits totaling $134 billion over the next three years. NGA Chairman and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas believes the worst is probably yet to come. The NGA released a report, “The Big Reset,” which makes it clear that “the long climb toward recovery of state fiscal health has not yet begun, and this has prompted urgent efforts to redesign and downsize government.” Other states reduced their budgets to avoid pushing the deficits forward to next budget. In March 2010, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) released a report on the State and Local Government Fiscal Outlook. GAO projects that the sector’s long-term fiscal position will steadily decline through 2060 absent any policy changes. The report asserts, “The decline in the sector’s operating balance is primarily driven by rising health care costs.” GAO suggests “these governments will need to make substantial policy changes to avoid growing imbalances.”
Ace: Boundless potential
Once again, the governor and Legislature ignored this warning. Most legislators seem unaware of the economic severity they face and the consequences of their budget votes. But their leaders know. Rather than fundamentally reshaping government to reflect declining state revenues for some time to come, legislators are relying on accounting gimmicks, one-time funds, underfunding pensions and federal stimulus money to balance state budgets. In the process, they are artificially propping up a higher level of spending that can’t be supported by the economy in the nearto-medium future. This problem has been building for some time. It exploded exponentially last year. Gov. Gregoire is convinced that she cut $12 billion out of a $32 billion budget over the past two years. If she had, in fact, done that the state budget would be $20 billion and the state would have a multi-billion surplus. Instead, total state spending increased by more than $4.2 billion over the past two years. Put this increased spending in context: 1) An $11.8 billion budget shortfall over two years. 2) Budgets that legislative leaders and our governor say have been cut to the bone. 3) Reductions in proposed spending that were counted as a “cut.”
“Ace isn’t an average ninthgrader, and his story is more than uplifting. It’s extraordinary.”
by Diana Moore
ce Jarasitas wasn’t happy in school—and for good reason. As a first grader, he was getting beaten up by his classmates on the playground, then struggling through a school day that didn’t fit his learning style. “The curriculum was moving too slow for me in math, especially, but in the other subjects too. I would always cover my paper in doodles, and the teacher thought this was a real problem,” Ace said. “Looking back, I think that when the teacher was talking about things I already understood, I would turn to art, which has always interested me.” Little did they know what was in store for Ace. It began with a colorful flyer in the recycle bin that happened to catch his eye. It was an advertisement for a virtual public school. “I showed the flyer to my mom and told her that I was very interested. She said she thought it was too good to be true, and probably some kind of scam.” “I couldn’t figure out what was actually wrong with it, and he wanted it so much, I went to an informational meeting,” Ace’s mom, Gina, explained. “I immediately saw that it was exactly what Ace needed.” That was several years ago. Today Ace is a freshman in high school. He’s been the student of the month for his online school, is on the student government, has the highest average in his German class, and has plenty of time to devote to writing his first novel. Last summer he wrote an average of 3,000 words per day. He plans to submit the manuscript for publication once completed.
by Bob Williams
Ace is creative by nature—full of plans, full of ideas, full of ambition. Traditional schooling got in the way. “Ace has flourished,” his mom noted. “He has maintained his enthusiastic and unique personality and imagination that are his greatest strengths.” Gina and Ace’s dad, Mark, couldn’t be more pleased. While online school has made a world of difference, it’s still school. Ace looks forward to the day when he can leave it behind and pursue the things he loves simply because he wants to. Online learning is allowing that day to come smoothly and quickly. One of his virtual classes last year was “Reaching Your Academic Potential,” which involved writing a five-year-plan. In just over two years Ace will graduate from high school. His future plans include pursuing his undergraduate degree from The Evergreen State College and then his master’s degree in writing from the California College of the Arts. Were Ace an average ninth-grader, this story would be uplifting. It’s always good to hear of students’ success.
But Ace isn’t an average ninth-grader, and his story is more than uplifting. It’s extraordinary. Why? Ace just turned 12 years old. Had it not been for online public schooling, this mature, well-spoken, ambitious young man would have been among the thousands of students who become frustrated with school and disillusioned with learning. Instead, Ace is speeding through a school program defined and propelled by his learning. Gina and Mark can’t say enough about how digital learning has changed their son’s life. “With online learning, Ace is able to focus on learning,” Gina said. “It is about education, not getting along in an institution. There are so many students that do not thrive in the traditional classroom. We can’t afford to just let them fail because they don’t fit in.” Ace agrees: “My life would be very different without online school. I would be years behind the level of my ability and probably never would have had a chance to write my novel and have my creativity and imagination fostered.” Picture the world if we unleashed every student’s potential through a learning model that works for them. Online learning is getting us closer to that day—one student at a time.
A PUBLICATION OF THE FREEDOM FOUNDATION
STOP THURSTON COUNTY by Scott Roberts
hurston County bureaucrats are out of control. They are using rodents, weeds and bugs as an excuse to take 177,000 acres of land and harm over 50,000 property owners. Property owners in Thurston County are losing use of their land and not being compensated for government regulation-inspired land grabs, all the while having to continue paying property taxes. We discovered that Thurston County received over $100,000 from the Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife to implement restrictive land use controls. Not surprisingly, Thurston County officials are listening closely to Fish and Wildlife and have become deaf to their own citizens. The Freedom Foundation is responding with a new project called STOP Thurston County, as in Stop Taking Our Property. This new project is aimed at educating and engaging citizens—and restoring their voices. You can learn more about the STOP Thurston County project at www.STOPThurstonCounty.com.
Introducing Glen Morgan
The Freedom Foundation is glad to introduce Glen Morgan, member of a fifth-generation farming family in Washington state. He has been hired to manage our STOP Thurston County project. Glen’s family history, which is woven into the fabric of Washington state (and includes the fact that his greatgreat-grandmother helped found the famous Pike’s Place Market in Seattle), makes him uniquely qualified for this job. Glen understands the impacts that government regulation has on small property owners. In his recent race for Thurston County Assessor, he met thousands of property owners who are being negatively impacted by government policy. “People all over Thurston County are struggling just to hold on to their property,” Glen said. “Now the county bureaucrats want to pile on more restrictions and fees. I’m going to sound the alarm bells, let people know what’s headed their way, and give them training and tools to win this fight.” Glen graduated in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree Political Science from Columbia University in New York. He is an entrepreneur and businessman. He currently owns and operates a small tree farm in Tenino.
Thursday, April 21, 2011
PLANNING FOR LIFE Free workshop
GIG HARBOR TOPICS
The seven common mistakes of estate planning Trusts, wills and new laws Protecting family members with special needs How your legacy can reflect your core values Learn where and how to get the best help Get your questions answered – free You will benefit from this valuable workshop, no matter where you are in your planning. For details and reservations, contact Laurie:
“. . . an excuse to take 177,000 acres of land and harm over 50,000 property owners.”
IEndicott@myfreedomfoundation.org Join us. It will change your life.
of a Freedom Loving Mom… by Judy Parkins
Putting screaming energy to good use
always imagined that I would age gracefully. As a person of faith, I value virtues like self-control, patience, meekness, kindness and am forever praying these virtues would characterize my life. Instead, at the ripe old age of 55, I realize I have become a screamer. I certainly don’t scream at work. There is the mortgage to consider and the fact that I like to pay it. I may have screamed at other drivers in the privacy of my car during my three-hour commute, but that does not count. We all know the answer to the question, “If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” No, duh. I don’t scream in public unless I’m at a football game. (Admit it. You screamed at the referees during Super Bowl XL and their calls against the Seahawks.) As painful as it is to admit, I may have raised my voice to an excited level while discussing an emotional issue with my husband. Again, that does not count as screaming—that’s just being emotional. Nevertheless, I’m a closet screamer who is choosing today to out myself. The target and recipient of my loud, emotional outbursts? The TV. Lately I have been challenged by the courage and energy of other TV screamers as they boldly get off their couches and get involved in their precincts, their communities, their cities, their neighborhoods and their
state. This Freedom Loving Mom is reaching out to screamers across Washington with a message of hope. You do not have to sit there night after night screaming at the newscast on your flat screen. Think about those you love and what you are putting them through. No one screams in a vacuum. When you hit the mute button as Obama begins speaking, so you can scream your opinion of his views on the economy, how does that make your family feel? Have you noticed that your spouse and children would rather sneak off to watch TV on the small screen in your bedroom than with you? It’s okay. You are not alone. Thousands of us across the state and nation are here to support you. There is life after TV screaming. Recovering TV screamer and current Freedom Foundation member G. S. has more than her share of regrets at the energy she wasted screaming at the TV. This energy is now focused in her new position as Precinct Committee Officer in Shoreline. She has joined two Tea Party groups in her area, attended two Freedom Foundation Principles of Freedom classes and our activist training conference in January 2011. G.S. shares about her TV screaming recovery: “I’m focusing all my energy at being the best PCO I can be. I’m educating myself and then passing that informa-
“Conservatives can no longer be afraid to have political conversations with our neighbors. There is so much great information on the Freedom Foundation website.”
tion along. Conservatives can no longer be afraid to have political conversations with our neighbors. There is so much great information on the Freedom Foundation website. If I want to save this country then I have to focus on my neighbors, my friends, my precinct. I’m doing what I can to take this country back in 2012. This is how We The People will make our voices heard in Olympia and D.C....and keep the peace at home. So, fellow screamer, get off the couch and join us! You don’t have to scream to be heard. Normal conversation levels work just fine when you’re talking over coffee or across the fence.
STAFF NEWS 1. Three New Employees Join 2. St. Clair-Haase Wedding the Freedom Foundation The Freedom Foundation welcomes three new employees to our ranks. Mackenzie Richards (RIGHT) joins us as a program coordinator. A graduate of Olympic College in Bremerton with an associate’s degree with Dean’s Honors, Mackenzie was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She is currently working toward earning an online bachelor’s degree in business from Oregon University. Last year, her father, Doug Richards, ran for State Representative, with Mackenzie working on the campaign from March to November 2010. She hopes to continue working in politics. Stefany Vermillion (LEFT) is the Freedom Foundation’s new office administrator. Stefany’s background includes working as a customer service manager and Human Resources payroll coordinator. In addition, she worked as an office manager at a wholesale showroom in Seattle before coming to work for the Freedom Foundation. Southern California native Kimberly Blackwood (MIDDLE) has joined the team as a paralegal for Mike Reitz, the Freedom Foundation’s General Counsel. Her background includes a variety of customer service jobs and stint with Homeland Security. The inaugural winner of the Connelly Law Office Scholarship, Kimberly graduated from Tacoma Community College with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa. She plans to go back to school to earn her bachelor’s degree in sociology.
The Freedom Foundation is happy to announce that our investigative journalist, Scott St. Clair—aka “The Piper”—married Kathy Haase, general manager of sales and marketing for Parfums Lolita Lempicka, on February 18 at the Chapel of the Flowers in Las Vegas. This being the 21st century and all, the couple’s wedding was broadcast online for family, friends and others in virtual attendance. From your coworkers here at the Freedom Foundation: Congratulations! We wish you two a lifetime of happiness together.
3. Baby Lund Arrives Two Freedom Foundation employees recently celebrated an important milestone in their lives: the birth of their first child. Former office administrator and current Radio Free Washington producer Stephanie Lund gave birth to a baby girl at 8:53 a.m. on January 19. Aria Grace Olivia Lund tipped the scales at 8 pounds, 3 ounces and measured 20.5 inches long. Mom, dad—Lasse Lund, the Freedom Foundation’s Citizen Action Network Director—and baby are all doing fine. Congratulations on your little bundle of joy, Lasse and Stephanie.
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Competing strategies to revive federalism and restore limited government by Trent England
hat happened to limited government, and how do we get
it back? There is a growing consensus that the return to constitutionally limited government hinges on the revival of federalism. Beyond this agreement, however, are competing political strategies and a few significant disagreements. Meanwhile, threats to federalism—whether from the so-called National Popular Vote or ObamaCare—remain and must be answered.
Why Federalism? In establishing American federalism, the Framers of the Constitution both ratified existing practice and took a step forward in political theory. As they debated the nature of the union, they constructed an argument about what federalism is for. Retaining the states allowed most governing to happen close to the people, improving responsibility and representation. The broad “residual” powers retained by the states made practicable strict limits on federal power. Federalism also created the potential for healthy competition among the states and between state and federal governments.
“As the system lost equilibrium, government power swelled.” Not everyone supported the new constitutional structure. Anti-Federalists opposed ratifying the Constitution, and later tried to interpret the document to create only a voluntary league of states. Thomas Jefferson anonymously adopted this argument when he penned the “Kentucky Resolves,” which claimed states could “nullify” federal actions. James Madison wrote a more moderate version of the argument in the “Virginia Resolves,” but later rejected the argument for nullification outright. Over the first half of the 19th century, the case for state supremacy became entangled in arguments made in defense of human slavery. War became the ultimate— and ultimately failed—expression of both arguments. With the rise of Progressivism in the late 19th and early 20th century, the debate shifted in the other direction. Rather than fear centralized government, these new critics of the Constitution had the very highest of hopes for what they might achieve in and from Washington, D.C. The problem with federalism was not that the union was too strong, but that it was too decentralized and cumbersome. In 1912, Progressives removed state governments from the federal system by eliminating the power of state legislatures to elect United States Senators. They dramatically increased federal power by creating the income tax and the Federal Reserve. These structural changes tipped the system of federalism far out of balance in favor of federal power. As the system lost equilibrium, government power swelled. While federal power has increased the most, the corruption of federalism has also allowed dramatic growth in state and local governments. The transformation of federalism from a structure of limited governments fulfilling different functions to a system of overlapping bureaucracies has allowed politicians at all levels to disconnect revenues from expenditures, obscure responsibility and diminish representation.
Examining the path from limited constitutional government toward an unbound leviathan, it becomes clear that restoring the proper balance between state and federal power could provide a most effective means to reverse this dangerous course.
strategies for the states Charting the course for a return to federalism and limited government is no easy matter. In time we may realize that the task of revival was more difficult even than the founding. The question of how to do it calls not only for dedicated individuals and effective tactics, but for counting all the costs. History is our greatest guide; beyond the examples of the Founders are the later debates over federalism and the strategies and tactics that have worked so well in the hands of the Progressives. The most startling proposal for reviving the states harkens back to the Anti-Federalists and nullification. This argument claims that a state may simply ignore and even oppose any federal action that the state believes is unconstitutional. Madison called this idea the “subversive of all constitutions, all laws, and all compacts.” Indeed, nullification is ultimately an echo of those who opposed the Constitution at its inception. Other advocates of limited government call for amending the Constitution—perhaps even calling a convention. The difficulty with amendments is that the existing Constitution does establish a framework of limited government—our present troubles come not from the constitutional text but rather from the fraudulent interpretations of judges and the disregard of politicians and, frankly, many everyday Americans. The idea of an amendments convention is particularly troubling because—though permitted under Article V—it has never been done. Such an effort could easily swerve off into questions of process and might pave the way for future Progressive movements to radically alter the Constitution. One of the cleverest strategies for bolstering the states is the use of interstate compacts. While such devices generally require the consent of Congress (but probably not the signature of the president), once ratified they have the full force of federal law. Courts have so far given states great latitude, even finding that congressional inaction can sometimes have the effect of ratification. The most effective strategy for reviving federalism and limited government actually began in 2009 and produced initial results last year. The ultimate check on government in a free society is the right to speak one’s mind, not just to government officials, but to one’s own neighbors, to persuade them to support their own liberty. The groundswell of Americans concerned about the size and scope—not to mention the spending and debt—of government at all levels is the real key to the restoration of constitutional government. James Madison counseled that if government exceeds constitutional limits, the people must look to “the Ballot-boxes & Hustings [election campaigns].” Politics and political campaigns once centered around questions of constitutionality and liberty. The Progressives convinced Americans, at least for a time, to focus instead on government expansion and entitlements. The greatest hope for federalism and limited government is the continued reawakening of the spirit of liberty among the American people.
Vermont, South Dakota and Washington
his year, political malcontents will spend hundreds of thousands of dollars in their attempt to hijack the Electoral College with a scheme called National Popular Vote (NPV). The legislation would enter states into an agreement to disregard the presidential vote outcome in their own state and instead give away all their electoral votes to the nationwide plurality winner. This would fundamentally change American politics, eliminating the geographic balance, moderation and support for federalism that are built into the present system.
“NPV legislation has passed in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington state and the District of Columbia. It has died at least once in nearly every other legislative chamber in the country . . .” The scheme was developed by John Koza, a far-left computer scientist from California, and has attracted the support of George Soros and President Obama, among others. NPV legislation has passed in Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Washington state and the District of Columbia. It has died at least once in nearly every other legislative chamber in the country, but this does not stop the NPV campaign from sending more and more lobbyists to peddle their plan. The Freedom Foundation’s Save Our States project is the opposition to NPV. In February, Trent England faced five NPV lobbyists at a Vermont Senate hearing. We sent information to activists and legislators in South Dakota, and members of our coalition testified at a hearing there. The legislator who sponsored NPV subsequently asked the committee to table the measure. And right here in Washington, two legislators introduced bills to repeal NPV: HB 1911 by Rep. Brad Klippert and HB 1950 by Rep. Matt Shea.
Ferry worker fireworks fail to impress legislators
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by Scott St. Clair
ireworks erupted at a hearing of the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee over proposed changes to compensation and premium pay for employees of Washington State Ferries (WSF). At one point, committee chair Rep. Mike Sells, D-Everett, threatened to clear the hearing room after the crowed of over 200 ferry workers and their union representatives erupted in applause and shouting following testimony from Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, who placed the blame for ferry system problems at the feet of management.
At issue were two bills—House Bills 1511 and 1512— to reform WSF labor relations and establish new compensation and premium-pay rules for ferry workers. Stemming in large measure from the KING 5 Waste on the Water investigative series that exposed many abuses by ferry workers that was itself supported by original investigative reporting and research by Freedom Foundation staff, Reps. Judy Clibborn, D-Mercer Island, and Mike Armstrong, R-Wenatchee, respectively the chair and ranking minority member of the House Transportation Committee and prime sponsors of the bills, offered a lengthy presentation on them. Calling WSF “the most studied system in transportation,” Clibborn said that addressing high labor costs was necessary in order to stem severe red ink in the system. She and Armstrong said that vessel and terminal labor costs made up over 65 percent of fiscal year 2010 operating costs for WSF. Also, the system is on track to see reduced revenue in coming years. Saying that non-labor costs have been targeted for economizing, the two legislators cited KING TV’s Waste on the Water investigative series as evidence of the need to reform ferry worker compensation practices. “We’re out of money in the ferries,” Armstrong said. “We are broke.” Commenting on the vast differences between overtime and other pay rules for ferry workers compared to other state workers, Armstrong said that a state worker is a state worker, and they all should be treated equally across the board. “If we don’t do something, our ferries will run out of money,” said Armstrong. The alternative is to lay off ferry workers, he said. Offering a sharply contrasting view was Rep. Larry Seaquist, D-Gig Harbor, who said that the financial woes of the ferry system were the fault of management. Seaquist said that the waste revealed in the KING TV exposes was a “little snippet” compared to problems at ferry headquarters. He ripped into personnel management problems and headquarters’ employment practices and staffing levels before announcing that he would introduce his own bill
to reform WSF management. As a precursor, Seaquist said that it was time to get rid of the entire ferry-system management team. Union officials testified that the bills were an “blunt instruments” that trampled the rights of workers. Terri Mast of the Inland Boatman’s Union (IBU) said that ferry workers were the first to step up to the plate on wage freezes. “It’s not fair to bargain our contract through the legislative process,” she said. She pleaded with the committee not to “overreact” to media stories of waste and abuse by ferry workers. A strike threat came from IBU National President Alan Cote. As long as interest arbitration remained in the law, he wouldn’t strike he said. Interest arbitration is where a neutral third party decides the terms and conditions of a collective bargaining agreement, including wages and other economic issues, when management and the union cannot come to terms through negotiation. Interest arbitration is provided for in current ferry-worker labor relations statutes, with most negotiations ending up before an arbitrator. Cote was asked during a break in the hearing to clarify his strike-threat remarks and whether his remarks should be taken as a strike threat. Shouting and waving his finger at me, he said, “I will not tell you from the Evergreen Freedom Foundation that I will strike. What I did say is that as long as there’s interest arbitration, I won’t strike.” Vashon Island dock worker Patti Snyder, who appears to be a frequent legislative-hearing witness on this issue, sobbed her way through her testimony. In plaintive tones she pleaded with the committee not to take her double-time benefit away. “I urge you to take care of us,” she said. She loved her double time because it meant that she didn’t have to work overtime hours. If her double time is taken away, then she’ll have to work more hours for the same amount of money, she said. With heavy sighs, she told of never being able to afford a brand new car and that her last “new” car was a used one. But throughout the hearing not a single union representative or ferry system worker acknowledged the legitimacy of the waste and abuse uncovered by KING TV, nor did they offer anything other than demands for no cuts and, in Cote’s case, a not-too-veiled strike threat. Before the hearing even began the unions were defensive. “Blaming the workforce for a billion-dollar problem that isn’t their fault,” is how Gordon Baxter, a lobbyist for ferry worker unions, described the proposed legislation. It’s uncertain if the bills have a future in the Legislature. Just as the hearing was getting under way, Seaquist told me that their fate is in the hands of House Democratic leadership. Committee member Rep. Cary Condotta, R-Wenatchee, said that he didn’t think there were enough votes on the Labor and Workforce Development Committee to push them to the House floor. The Democratic caucus is deeply divided on the issue, he said, and the key to moving anything forward lies with the Roadkill Caucus, a group of centrist Democrats who are seen as being sympathetic to business interests and more fiscally conservative than the rank and file. Another committee member, Rep. Mark Miloscia, D-Federal Way, said there was a lack of leadership from the governor. “All we heard was from one side,” he said, expressing frustration that nobody from WSF or the Washington State Department of Transportation offered testimony at the hearing. “Does anyone have any sense that there’s any leadership on this?” he said.
by Juliana McMahan
ow do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” These days there are very few people who need to worry about eating an elephant, but the principle of this little saying still holds true. To get a big job done, you must do it a little at a time. And the more people helping, the better! Here at the Freedom Foundation we have a big mission, one that will take many years to accomplish. But thanks to the financial support of thousands of people like you, we are able to push forward day after day. Reliable, consistent monthly income is the lifeblood of any organization. Because the Freedom Foundation does not take any public funding, we depend on our friends like you for support. It is humbling to know that so many of you make sacrifices throughout the year to support the work we do. We do not take your gifts lightly. Every gift, whether large or small, means a great deal to us.
“Because the Freedom Foundation does not take any public funding, we depend on our friends like you for support.” We currently have over 600 investors who have signed up for convenient, automatic monthly giving, with most of them giving between $10 and $30 each month. All those bites add up to a big elephant! The system we use is very secure (the same system used by your bank), and we carefully protect your confidential information. You can either use a credit card or have the donation automatically withdrawn from your bank account. It is all very safe and easy. You can sign up online (www.myfreedomfoundation.org) or follow the instructions on the donation form you will find in this newsletter. Monthly giving is a wonderful tool for everyone. It’s convenient for our investors, and provides the Freedom Foundation with the reliable monthly income that helps us to meet our budget…and yours…by spreading it across the entire year. We couldn’t do what we do without you! Thank you for your support, however you choose to send it. Please think about becoming an automatic monthly giver if you are not already one.
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QuickHits A haphazard collection of quips, quotes and other interesting tidbits from the past month on current events, public policy and government.
by Scott St. Clair
aking citizens pay for what they already own is a bad idea. When requiring payment makes it impossible for them to find out what their government is up to, it’s a dangerous idea. Yet that’s what a proposed amendment to the Public Records Act under consideration in the Legislature would do. House Bill 1300 authorizes a public agency to require a records requestor—read: ordinary citizen—to pay the personnel cost, including the cost of fringe benefits, for the public employee who researches and copies the records if that task exceeds five hours per month. Anyone familiar with public records requests knows that five hours is nothing, especially when it comes to complex requests involving many records. The hours add up, and, under HB 1300, so would the cost. And this isn’t the cost to copy them, but just to look for them. Since that cost could prove prohibitive and deter a citizen from filing a public records request, HB 1300 creates a public-records version of the poll tax, the scurrilous tariff used decades ago to keep southern blacks from voting. Our Public Records Act is one of the best open-government laws in the United States. It came out of a 1972 initiative to reform campaign financing and make state and local government in Washington open and transparent. Supported by over 72 percent of voters at the time, it has served the people well, and it has been used by everyone from common folks to media outlets such as The Seattle Times to uncover and expose waste, fraud and abuse in government. It ain’t broke, so why fix it? We’re told that the legislation is necessary because responding to records requests is costly and difficult. But shouldn’t government be responsive to citizens? Too often the problem isn’t because a citizen is a nuisance, but rather it’s because the citizen is on to something and government wants to prevent its disclosure. It’s less a
matter of serving a legitimate public interest and more one of avoiding public embarrassment. If government created public records with an eye toward making them accessible, there wouldn’t be any problems. If it didn’t use $400 per hour downtown Seattle law firms to handle records requests, there wouldn’t be any problems. If it posted records online in a searchable format, there wouldn’t be any problems. If it believed in open and transparent government and worked with a records-requestor in that spirit, there wouldn’t be any problems. The Public Records Act itself argues against the proposal: “The people of this state do not yield their sovereignty to the agencies that serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people insist on remaining informed so that they may maintain control over the instruments that they have created ” Public records belong to the public, they are created by public servants who work for the public and the public is entitled to access to them. Patrick Henry said, “The liberties of a people never were, nor ever will be, secure, when the transactions of their rul- ers may be concealed from them.” HB 1300 is a tool of concealment, not openness and transparency. Scott St. Clair is the investigative journalist and political reporter for the Freedom Foundation (formerly the Evergreen Freedom Foundation), a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research and news organization based in Olympia. This originally ran as an op-ed in The Seattle Times.
SB 5621: Justin Bieber for School Board? The headline for Constitutional Studies Director Trent England’s February 3 blog on state Sen. Scott White’s bill allowing children age 14 and up to vote in school board elections
“Well, lip balm ain’t going to mend all the chapped taxpayer hides out there frustrated with such extravagant government waste and abuse.” From Economic Policy Analyst Eric Lohnes’ February 4 blog on the Puget Sound Partnership’s using tax dollars to buy lip balm as reported in a May 2010 financial audit conducted by the State Auditor’s Office
“Don King may have put it best when he said, ‘Only in America,’ as only in America could a battle between multimillionaire players and bazillionaire owners over a growing $9 billion professional sports empire threaten the upcoming season. Talk about killing— or at least threatening with bodily harm—the goose that laid the golden egg.” From Managing Editor Brett Davis’ February 10 blog on a possible National Football League work stoppage next season
“Needless to say, it’s high time ferry employees had their golden pedestal removed. Down here at the ground level, people don’t get paid to drive to work. Get over it.” The concluding paragraph of Economic Policy Director Amber Gunn’s February 10 blog on more state ferry worker perks uncovered as part of KING 5 News’ “Waste on the Water” series
“At the end of the 12 weeks, I could look back on what I had done and feel a sense of real accomplishment as a contributor to something worthwhile...I can’t imagine any better way to spend the summer!”
“That’s like an alcoholic going on one last drinking binge before getting sober for real this time!” From Brett Davis’ February 15 blog about President Obama’s proposed $3.7 trillion budget that promises to cut the deficit only after adding more to the national debt
“The practical effect of this so-called ‘fee’ increase will be to raise prices on a vast array of household consumer goods, including gasoline.” From Amber Gunn’s February 15 blog on House Bill 1735, the so-called Clean Water Jobs Act of 2011
Young Leaders Program S u mmer
he Freedom Foundation’s Young Leaders Program (summer internship) identifies student leaders and cultivates within them a love of free market principles and the power of limited government and personal responsibility.
I n t er n ship
For more information, contact Diana Moore at (360) 956-3482 or DMoore@myfreedomfoundation.org. To support this year’s summer internship by making a taxdeductible donation, contact Juliana McMahan at (360) 956-3482 or JMcMahan@myfreedomfoundation.org.
“It was revealed today that former Washington State Republican Party Chairman Luke Esser has taken a job lobbying for the Service Employees International Union—the SEIU—one of the most radical labor monopolies in Washington state and the nation.” From Trent England’s February 16 blog lamenting Esser’s going to work for the SEIU