Former school board member enters race for Congress

January 31, 2012

Larry Ishmael, a former Issaquah School Board member and Republican challenger to U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee in 2006 and 2008, is running for Congress in the redrawn 1st Congressional District.

The independent candidate eschewed a party label for the latest run, but said voters seek a candidate unattached to the political establishment in either party.

“The reasons I ran in 2006 are the same reasons I am running today, bitter partisan politics have destroyed Congress’s ability to accomplish anything for the American people,” he said in a statement. “The only way to break the cycle of pain is to elect more independents that are willing to represent their constituents in Congress and not their political party or special interest groups.”

Ishmael faltered in the contests against the incumbent Democrat, garnering 32 percent against Inslee in 2006 and 2008 — both strong years for Democrats in Washington and nationwide. Inslee is running for governor against Republican state Attorney General Rob McKenna.

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County leaders ask lawmakers to preserve roads, services

January 31, 2012

In a broad agenda for the ongoing legislative session, King County leaders pledged to work alongside state lawmakers to preserve funding for human services, preserve roads and consolidate some local government operations.

The plan comes from the King County Council as legislators in Olympia must close a $1.5 billion budget gap. Local leaders raised concerns about cuts to services and transportation — perpetual concerns as lawmakers trimmed spending in recent years.

“A growing number of county residents are now accessing services and agencies that are facing devastating cuts in Olympia,” council Chairman Larry Gossett said in a statement. “This will be one of the most difficult legislative sessions ever, so it is vital that King County speak in a clear voice about our priorities regarding human services and transportation.”

County leaders develop a state legislative agenda to decide on the positions most important to bring to the attention of the Legislature. The plan combines input from council members and County Executive Dow Constantine.

The council adopted a legislative agenda Jan. 17. Legislators gathered in Olympia for the 60-day session Jan. 9.

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City Council could support Issaquah School District bond

January 31, 2012

City Council members could decide to support the $219 million bond the Issaquah School District plans to put before voters in April.

The measure is meant to generate dollars to rebuild Clark and Sunny Hills elementary schools and Issaquah Middle School, modernize Liberty High School and relocate Tiger Mountain Community High School.

Officials also plan to use bond funds to improve districtwide heating and ventilation, space and security; and improve athletic fields and stadiums. (Clark Elementary School, Issaquah Middle School and Tiger Mountain Community High School sit inside Issaquah city limits.)

The bond measure is due to appear on the April 17 ballot.

In the meantime, council members agreed Jan. 26 to hold a public hearing Feb. 21 to discuss possible support for the bond. Citizens can comment on the bond at the 7:30 p.m. council meeting in the Council Chambers at City Hall South, 135 E. Sunset Way.

Motorists to receive refunds after tolling glitch

January 31, 2012

The state Department of Transportation plans to refund motorists 25 cents for recent state Route 520 bridge tolls, as officials investigated a glitch responsible for motorists paying incorrect amounts to cross the span.

The refund applies if a motorist made the trip from Jan. 17-25. Drivers should receive a refund, even if the state billed them correctly. The state charges a 25-cent transaction fee for motorists traveling the bridge infrequently and paying by license plate, rather than a tolling pass.

Toll system engineers corrected the problem Jan. 26. The issue did not affect drivers billed through the pay-by-mail system.

Engineers noticed the equipment’s internal clock intermittently lost time and re-synched to the correct time.

“The issue was sporadic, so some customers may see a series of accurate transactions followed by incorrect charges, such as an additional 25-cent pay-by-plate fee,” Craig Stone, toll division director, said in a statement.

Customers may notice a delay in billing as the agency credits customer accounts. If a motorist crossed the bridge between Jan. 17-25, he or she should check his or her account and call the customer service center at 1-866-936-8246 toll free.

Eastside business leaders outline priorities to state lawmakers

January 31, 2012

Eastside business leaders focused on economic development, education, taxation and transportation in a legislative agenda for state lawmakers in Olympia.

East King County Chambers of Commerce Legislative Coalition members urged legislators to foster job creation, shore up transportation funding, and adopt reforms to kindergarten through 12th-grade and higher education.

The coalition is comprised of 10 chambers from the region, including the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce.

“Our state is at an important crossroads and the Issaquah Chamber of Commerce is proud to work with the coalition to affect positive change for the Eastside business community in Olympia,” Issaquah Chamber of Commerce CEO Matthew Bott said in a statement.

Lawmakers face a bursting docket. Legislators must close a $1.5 billion budget gap. The state Supreme Court ruled legislators failed in funding basic education — a constitutional obligation. In addition, the Legislature is also considering a measure to legalize same-sex marriage in Washington.

The collation released a 10-part legislative agenda Jan. 5 at a breakfast attended by state lawmakers.

Local lawmaker hosts telephone ‘town hall’

January 31, 2012

State Rep. Jay Rodne invites 5th Legislative District constituents to join a telephone “town hall meeting” Feb. 7.

The discussion is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. and last for 60 minutes. He plans to take questions, share views about the ongoing legislative session and offer constituents a chance to take part in poll questions.

Call the toll-free number at 1-877-229-8493 and enter the code 15549 at the prompt. Then, participants can select *3 on the telephone keypad to ask a question.

“We are at a critical point of the legislative session,” Rodne said in a statement. “This community conversation is an opportunity for people to provide their input on the issues facing our state, and allows me to share my views on what is happening in the Legislature. I encourage folks to call in and participate at whatever level they are comfortable with.”

Residents can also contact the North Bend Republican at 360-786-7852 or jay.rodne@leg.wa.gov.

Suburban Cities Association appoints former Edmonds councilwoman as executive director

January 31, 2012

Former Edmonds Councilwoman Deanna Dawson has been appointed executive director of the Suburban Cities Association, a coalition of Issaquah and 36 other King County cities.

Members include cities of less than 150,000 residents. The organization is dedicated to creating vital communities through advocacy, education, leadership and support.

“Deanna Dawson’s background and experience in nonprofit leadership and in city and county government make her an ideal fit for SCA,” Denis Law, Renton mayor and Suburban Cities Association vice chairman, said in a statement. “She has a demonstrated commitment to community, and a passion for public service. We feel confident that her vision and leadership will be a real asset to the suburban cities of King County.”

Dawson served on the Edmonds City Council from 2001-08 and also served as executive director of Snohomish County.

“Deanna Dawson has a strong understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing our region,” King County Executive Dow Constantine said. “She will be a strong advocate for the cities of King County, and she knows how to bring people together to build consensus and to create positive solutions.”

Lottery program raises $150,000 for Washington veterans

January 31, 2012

Washington’s Lottery contributed $150,000 to the state Department of Veterans Affairs after amassing the dollars through a special lottery program.

The lottery launched the Hometown Heroes Raffle last year. The $10 raffle tickets benefited the state’s Veterans Innovations Program. The service provides crisis and emergency relief, plus education, training and employment assistance for Washington veterans returning from post-9/11 conflicts.

Consumers purchased 98 percent of 300,000 Hometown Heroes Raffle tickets. Officials announced the total Jan. 17.

“The Hometown Heroes Raffle created a way for the Veterans Innovations Program to continue to assist Washington’s veterans where previously there was no future funding available,” Department of Veterans Affairs Director John Lee said in a statement. “We’re very thankful to have the lottery as a partner. With their help we can continue to serve the men and women in our state who have served us so bravely.”

State lottery officials plan to make another contribution to the program in the months ahead after calculating unclaimed prizes and total costs.

Hospital architect earns top interior design honor

January 31, 2012

Swedish/Issaquah architecture firm CollinsWoerman has earned the highest honor in healthcare interior design for the hospital.

The firm received the award from Contract magazine in a New York City ceremony Jan. 27.

“We’re honored to receive this prestigious award,” Sarah Reisenauer, CollinsWoerman senior interior designer, said in a statement. “By working closely with our client and extended design team, the space we created together enhances the patient journey, benefits the community, and achieves our design and aesthetic vision.”

The hospital spans 550,000 square feet, and includes a medical office building, cancer center and ambulatory care center. The project focused on the concept of a commons — a central, unifying and orienting public space. Special design features include 40- to 60-foot high LED back-lit metal sculptural grass blades on concrete shear walls and a winding tile trail embedded in the terrazzo floor.

“The interior elements combine poetry of color and nature to play off the building’s natural surroundings,” Reisenauer said. “We wanted to design the space from the perspective of the patient, so it was essential to include crisp aesthetics, material integrity, and a sense of warmth and familiarity.”

Nominate ‘green’ activities for King County honor

January 31, 2012

Nominate eco-conscious students, teachers, staffers, volunteers and programs — or even entire schools — for the King County Earth Heroes at Schools awards program.

The award aims to honor people and entities for contributions to environmental protection and student environmental education. Honorees in past years included programs related to recycling, restoring habitat, composting lunchroom waste and growing pesticide-free gardens.

The program encourages self-nominations, but colleagues, classmates and the general public can also nominate Earth Heroes. Find nomination forms and the list of 2011 winners at the Solid Waste Division website, http://your.kingcounty.gov/solidwaste/index.asp. Or call 206-296-4477 to learn more.

Nominations must be submitted by Feb. 24. The county plans to announce honorees in April.

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