State fines PSE for mishandling accounts

October 19, 2010

State regulators fined Puget Sound Energy $104,300 last week for improperly handling accounts of customers — including many low-income customers — disconnected for nonpayment.

The state Utilities and Transportation Commission assessed the penalty for 1,043 violations of state consumer protection rules — including 965 related to the disconnected accounts.

Commission staffers said Bellevue-based PSE provided inaccurate or misleading information to customers about how much they must pay in order to reconnect electric or natural gas services.

The commission also penalized PSE for improperly applying energy assistance pledge funds made to low-income customers’ accounts. The pledges had been intended to help consumers keep lights and heat on during the winter.

Commission staffers cited PSE for applying pledge funds to a prior balance, causing additional disconnection threats for customers.

The commission launched the investigation after a routine audit of consumer complaints. The investigation discovered PSE continued to misapply state refusal-of-service rules, despite instructions from regulators.

PSE must either pay the entire penalty, request a hearing to challenge the violations or request that the penalty to be reduced.

PSE serves more than 1 million electric customers and about 750,000 natural gas customers, including Issaquah residents.

Issaquah mayor lauds AtWork!

October 19, 2010

Mayor Ava Frisinger has declared October as Jobs Powered by AtWork! Month in Issaquah.

The proclamation, issued Oct. 4 at a City Council meeting, commended AtWork! for supporting people with developmental disabilities in their quest to seek and maintain employment. Frisinger also commended 14 local businesses for hiring AtWork! clients.

In addition, the proclamation commended the nonprofit organization for supporting 24 Issaquah residents and AtWork! clients. The proclamation lauded the organization for empowering clients to lead productive and meaningful lives, provide support for their families and develop the skills necessary for long-term employment.

AtWork! Chief Development Officer Jane Kuechle accepted the proclamation from the mayor.

City seeks tourism grant applications

October 19, 2010

Submit applications for tourism grants to help attract out-of-towners to Issaquah.

The city has $95,000 in hotel tax revenue to use to promote lodging and tourism. Interested parties can submit funding requests to the city Lodging Tax Advisory Committee until 4 p.m. Oct. 22.

The committee grants special consideration to projects with detailed work programs, records of luring visitors to Issaquah and using city money to leverage additional dollars.

Contact city Economic Development Manager Dan Trimble at 837-3012 or dant@ci.issaquah.wa.us to learn more about the program.

The city collects a 1 percent lodging tax at three hotels and motels. The money is then allocated to the Lodging Tax Fund. Under state law, the revenue can be used only for tourism promotion, acquisition of tourism-related facilities or the operation of tourism-related facilities.

Democrats decline to endorse House hopeful

October 19, 2010

Local Democrats decided against endorsing state House candidate David Spring in the race against Republican incumbent Glenn Anderson, after Spring beat the Democrats’ chosen candidate in the primary.

The chosen candidate, Dean Willard, received 17 percent of the vote in the Aug. 17 primary election. Spring pulled in 25 percent; Anderson took 58 percent.

Willard campaigned as a moderate. Spring pushed a more progressive message focused on education.

Under state election rules, candidates can declare a preference for a party — even if the party prefers someone else.

Only 35 of 73 members of the 5th Legislative Democrats voted to endorse Spring at a Sept. 23 meeting. Endorsements from the organization require two-thirds support.

“I’ve been very critical of Democrats and Republicans for failing to fund schools,” Spring said.

The decision has not stopped the candidate.

“We’re simply going to move forward and do the best we can in the general election,” he said.

Spring and Anderson last faced off in the 2008 election. Though the House Democratic Campaign Committee attempted to work with Spring during the ’08 race, “we didn’t communicate very well,” committee Executive Director Tony Yuchasz said.

Press Editorial

October 19, 2010

Our recommendations for state representatives

5th District

The 5th Legislative District includes most of Issaquah, except for Cougar Mountain (It’s in the 41st District) and the South Cove neighborhoods (They’re in the 48th).

Representative, Position 1 — Jay Rodne. We can find no reason to oust Rodne at this time. His challenger, Gregory Hoover, is no match for Rodne’s knowledge regarding the issues. Rodne’s record of voting pro-business and working for education reform stands out. When not in Olympia, Rodne is entrenched in his community as a leader and a volunteer.

Representative, Position 2 — Glenn Anderson. There is no hidden agenda with Anderson — he calls it like it is, even if it’s not what you want to hear. But there is no doubt that he is knowledgeable and passionate about this commitment to represent the 5th District. He is a tireless worker for education funding solutions. Challenger David Spring’s drive is also about education, but he fails to bring solutions to the table.

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To The Editor

October 19, 2010

Candy tax leaves bad taste

As a landmark in Issaquah for more than 50 years, we feel compelled to submit a response to the Oct. 6 Press editorial regarding Initiative 1107. We wish that The Issaquah Press would have spoken with a local business affected by the candy tax before publishing a stance against 1107. The candy tax, which went into effect June 1, is an unfair, confusing piece of legislation that has negatively impacted our company.

While we are not against taxation, we are opposed to a tax that only penalizes certain foods. Many proponents of the candy tax argued that candies are an unhealthy treat that deserve to be taxed. Ironically, dark chocolate (which is high in antioxidants) is now taxed, while products like Twix, Twinkies, Kit Kat Bars, etc., that have much less nutritional value are exempt from the tax.

Proponents also reasoned that the money raised with these taxes will go to help fund health care and other social services, a claim that cannot be substantiated as the proceeds go directly into the general fund with no guarantee of how they are spent.

From adjusting our manufacturing processes, educating our staff and reprogramming our cash registers to bookkeeping, implementing this new tax has been a logistical nightmare for our small company. This tax has put us at a discriminatory disadvantage, preventing us from being competitive within the gift industry. Boehm’s Candies provides jobs to more than 30 employees in Issaquah and surrounding communities.

We fear that this unfair, unbalanced scheme of taxing will contribute to a loss of sales and potential jobs in the future. We urge voters to vote yes on 1107.

Tyson Garbusjuk

Owner, Boehm’s Candies Inc.

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Off the Press

October 19, 2010

Truth in advertising would ruin my chances

All the important political advertising this fall has taught and convinced me of an important lesson. Greg, I say to myself, don’t ever, ever, EVER run for anything.

Greg Farrar

For one thing, my skin is too thin and I would need therapy for the rest of my life to deal with the resulting self-loathing image.

For another thing, my past life is so sordid that by the time the revelations all played out, at the end of the campaign season even I wouldn’t vote for myself, nor would my mom or dad. Read more

Jimmy Carter offers another chapter on tumultuous presidency

October 19, 2010

Former president brings book tour to Costco

Jimmy Carter owes a lot to Richard Nixon.

Sure, the Watergate scandal set the stage for the Washington outsider persona Carter cultivated on the stump in 1976, but the former peanut farmer credits Nixon for something else: the reason he started a diary.

Former President Jimmy Carter signs copies of ‘Living Faith’ during a 1996 stop at the Issaquah Costco. File

Back in the early 1970s, Carter and future first lady Rosalynn attended a White House reception.

Carter, then the governor of Georgia, had not met a president before.

“Nixon reached out to my wife and he shook her hand and said, ‘Young lady, do you keep a diary?’ Rosalynn said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘Well, you ought to keep a diary to let people know in future years what happened to you at the White House,” Carter recalled in a phone interview last week.

The idea lingered and Carter, then a little-known Southerner, put pen to paper. Nixon, of course, preferred to tape record.

Carter recounts the prescient scene in the opening pages of “White House Diary,” the annotated, edited and candid account of a tumultuous era.

The former president — in the midst of a national tour to promote the tome — is due in Issaquah next week to sign copies at Costco. (Carter last appeared at the local Costco on a 1996 book tour.)

“I think a lot of people are intrigued by my personal insights into the struggles and achievements and doubts and fears and accomplishments — and sometimes failures — of an incumbent president,” he said.

Carter, 86, outlined parallels between the political squabbles of a generation ago and the present day.

“Many issues carried over from my time — and I had a very difficult time dealing with them — and are now on the desk of President Obama,” he said.

The nettlesome struggle to foster peace in the Middle East, questions about energy policy, a hostile regime in Iran and a lethargic economy — for the record, Carter did not use the word “malaise” — continue to shape the debate in the other Washington.

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Green Halloween turns holiday eek-o-friendly

October 19, 2010

As jack-o-lanterns haunt doorsteps, hay mazes, carnival rides and pumpkin painting are returning for the 10th annual Green Halloween Festival in the Issaquah Highlands.

“For our kids, it’s a good way to extend the Halloween season,” Laura Yellig said. “They always wear their costumes.”

This young trio of energized explorers finds its way through the hay maze during the 2009 Green Halloween Block Party in the Issaquah Highlands. By Greg Farrar

Adults and children alike get dressed up, but it’s hardly a prerequisite to have fun at the mad science booths, pony rides, carnival games or glow-in-the-dark miniature golf — although costumes are required for the kid and dog costume contest.

“I love seeing the kids and families come in costumes,” Highlands Council Event Coordinator Christy Garrard said.

Prizes for the costume contest will be provided by Issaquah businesses Le Chic Pet, Ben & Jerry’s Scoop Shop and Zeeks Pizza.

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Garden Club honors members for 118 years of service

October 19, 2010

Washington state’s first garden club recently honored members Agnes Schmoe, June Willard and Joanne Dinken for “longevity of garden club membership” for a combined tenure of 118 years to the Issaquah Garden Club.

Schmoe, a 91-year-old retired nurse, made a joke when asked about being honored for 61 years of membership to the club, which was established in 1928.

“I got an award for being old. It feels kind of silly, because I didn’t do anything in particular,” she said with a laugh over a phone interview Oct 12.

Joanne Dinken, June Willard and Agnes Schmoe (from left) stand with bouquets given to honor them for “longevity of garden club membership” with a combined tenure of 118 years in the Issaquah Garden Club. By Rosemary Fahey

Former club president Dianne Tanner said she “thought it was really important to recognize them in front of the group” at the September luncheon meeting with certificates and flower arrangements she designed herself.

Schmoe, who said she does not care much for honors, admitted, “They gave a beautiful flower arrangement that lasted for a whole week before it wilted.”

“These are some very talented, special ladies,” Tanner said by phone. “They certainly have longevity between the three of them.”

Schmoe, who has served as president for five different years since 1962, said that “it’s not just about gardening — it’s about all the lovely, nice people you meet.”

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