Off the Press

August 14, 2012

Election enthusiasm, fresh from New Jersey

Warren Kagarise
Press reporter

Election Day, as a barrage of ads across all media reminds us, is only weeks — days, really — into the future.

Forget the Aug. 7 primary and the gaggle of also-ran candidates for state auditor, state insurance commissioner and other unglamorous-but-important roles. Until Nov. 6, all attention is focused on the race for governor.

Yes, I realize the presidential contest represents a watershed moment, but Washington is not a battleground state and the most locals can expect to see is more in-state fundraising from President Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.

Though the presidential race inched tantalizingly close to Issaquah in recent months — Obama in Seattle, Bellevue, Hunts Point and Medina; and Romney in Bellevue and Medina — neither candidate crossed Lake Sammamish.

So, in the meantime, amid the ubiquitous TV ads featuring Jay Inslee’s bulldozer and Rob McKenna’s family, do not overlook the races farther down the ballot.

Read more

Voters endorse property tax measure, incumbent candidates

August 7, 2012

NEW — 8:40 p.m. Aug. 7, 2012

King County voters endorsed a $200 million property tax measure to build a juvenile justice facility, as King County Elections released initial results Tuesday night.

Officials asked voters to fund a replacement for the aging Youth Services Center, a juvenile detention facility in Seattle.

The measure appeared on a crowded primary ballot alongside federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests. Voters in Issaquah and throughout Washington returned ballots in recent days, as the calendar inched closer to the summer primary — and the Tuesday deadline to postmark or return ballots.

The electorate chose the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

Read more

Consumers targeted in US Fidelis scam can receive restitution

August 7, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna and other law enforcement officials said consumers caught in a scam can benefit from a recent settlement.

The scam originated after consumers received bogus letters disguised as offers from vehicle manufacturers. Officials said the company behind the letters routinely misled consumers.

McKenna and 11 other state attorneys general announced the agreement among the states and a defunct vehicle service contract dealer, Missouri-based US Fidelis. The company closed and filed for bankruptcy in 2010.

The settlement provides $13 million in consumer restitution. More than 4,000 Washington residents bought auto warranties from the company and might be eligible for restitution.

The deal, plus a prior agreement with the service contract provider Warrantech, creates a $14.1 million Consumer Restitution Fund. State attorneys general said Warrantech financially benefitted from US Fedelis’ misleading practices.

Find information about filing a proof of claim at the US Fidelis bankruptcy website, www.usfbankruptcy.com. Consumers can also call a toll-free hotline at 1-877-691-8477.

State offers help to struggling homeowners

July 24, 2012

State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced efforts July 20 to connect King County homeowners facing foreclosure to mortgage resources.

In a stop at a Seattle nonprofit organization, McKenna touted the Washington Homeownership Information Hotline. The resource connects struggling borrowers to resources such as the backdrop for McKenna’s announcement, nonprofit organization Solid Ground. Call the hotline at 1-877-894-HOME toll free.

McKenna used funds from settlements with mortgage lenders — $600,000 from a settlement with Countrywide/Bank of America and $550,000 from the Wachovia Wells Fargo settlement — to help fund the hotline to connect borrowers to U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development-approved nonprofit counselors.

Office of the Attorney General staffers also posted step-by-step instructions, including a how-to video, for borrowers facing potential foreclosure at www.atg.wa.gov/foreclosure.aspx.

“We want people to know that they don’t have to navigate a personal mortgage crisis all by themselves,” McKenna said in a statement. “The state’s homeownership hotline is staffed by experts who work directly with lenders — at no charge to borrowers — to resolve underwater mortgages.”

McKenna, a Republican and former King County Council member, is in a close race for governor against Democrat Jay Inslee, a former U.S. congressman.

Turnout is expected to rise for August primary

July 17, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted above-average turnout in the August primary election — 46 percent, or about 3 percent more than the last comparable election.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

Reed made the turnout prediction July 12, about a week before ballots started to reach voters.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

Read more

Secretary of State Sam Reed predicts above-average turnout for August primary

July 12, 2012

NEW — 11:45 a.m. July 12, 2012

The top elections official in Washington, Secretary of State Sam Reed, predicted above-average turnout in the August primary election — 46 percent, or 3 percent more than the last comparable election.

The summer primary — bumped up to Aug. 7 to accommodate military and overseas voters — allows local voters a chance to decide a property tax measure and cull the field in federal, judicial, legislative and statewide contests.

The electorate selects the top two candidates, regardless of party affiliation, in the all-mail primary election. The top vote recipients then advance to an all-mail general election Nov. 6.

“The people of Washington are pretty revved up by the campaigns and issues this year and that should result in a darned good turnout, starting with our primary election,” Reed said in a statement. “We have an extremely competitive presidential race nationally and the media, campaigns, parties and special interest groups have been flooding us with campaign coverage and voter information.”

Read more

Local leaders react after Supreme Court health care ruling

July 10, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine and other elected officials split along party lines June 28 after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the federal health care overhaul.

In a complex decision, justices on the high court ruled 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty.

The ruling also limited the plan in the Affordable Care Act — dubbed Obamacare by some — to expand Medicaid for the poor.

Constantine, a Democrat, highlighted the potential impact for uninsured King County.

“And for the nearly quarter of a million people in King County who do not have health insurance this is truly a welcome life-and-death decision,” he said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert, a Republican and the Issaquah representative in Congress, said legislators must work to refine the health care law.

State Attorney General Rob McKenna, the highest-ranking Republican official in the state, joined the effort to repeal the health care overhaul and defended the challenge during a June 1 stop at Issaquah High School.

Gov. Chris Gregoire, U.S. Sen. Patty Murray and other Washington state Democrats lauded the ruling.

Former Sen. Cheryl Pflug criticizes appointment of Dino Rossi as successor, endorses Mark Mullet

July 10, 2012

UPDATED — 4:40 p.m. July 10, 2012

Cheryl Pflug, former state senator for Issaquah and other Eastside communities, lambasted the appointment of Dino Rossi to fill the seat Pflug vacated late last month.

Cheryl Pflug

The sharp statement from Pflug, a Maple Valley Republican, came a day after the King County Council appointed Rossi, a Sammamish Republican, to the seat as a caretaker until after the November election.

Pflug also endorsed Mark Mullet, a Democrat and Issaquah City Council member, in the race for the Senate race. Mullet is running against Brad Toft, a Snoqualmie businessman, for the post. (Rossi is not a candidate for the seat in the upcoming election.)

“I’m a Republican. I believe Rob McKenna will be a great governor because he’s honest, and he’s a brilliant unifier. That’s why I’m also endorsing Mark Mullet,” Pflug said in a statement issued just after 12:30 p.m. Tuesday. “His business background, financial expertise, and common sense make him the right person to represent all the residents of the 5th District, not just special interests and party bosses.”

Read more

King County, Washington leaders react after Supreme Court health care ruling

June 28, 2012

NEW — 10:45 a.m. June 28, 2012

King County Executive Dow Constantine and other elected officials split along party lines Thursday after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on the federal health care overhaul.

In a complex decision, justices on the high court ruled 5-4 to uphold the individual mandate — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty. The provision is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

The ruling limited the plan in the Affordable Care Act — dubbed Obamacare by some — to expand Medicaid for the poor.

Justices ruled the federal government cannot withhold a state’s entire Medicaid allotment if the state does not participate in the planned Medicaid expansion.

“I celebrate the Supreme Court’s ruling to uphold the Affordable Care Act,” Constantine said in a statement. “A stable, healthier future has been made possible by this ruling. This is affirmation of our nationwide, bold move toward achieving quality affordable healthcare, and we are moving in the right direction.”

Read more

Rob McKenna defends health care lawsuit in Issaquah High School stop

June 5, 2012

In a stop at Issaquah High School early June 1, state Attorney General Rob McKenna defended Washington’s participation in a lawsuit against the federal health care law, days before the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling.

Rob McKenna

The top legal officer in the state used the health care lawsuit to illustrate the concept of federalism — powers shared by state and federal governments — to seniors in Jeremy Ritzer’s Advanced Placement Government & Politics class.

The lawsuit stems from a provision in the Affordable Care Act — a requirement for all Americans to enroll in a health insurance plan or pay a penalty.

“Under that mandate, for the first time, Congress is attempting to do something which they’ve never tried before in our country’s history,” McKenna said. “They’re telling Americans that they have to go into the private markets to buy a commercial product — health insurance — with their own money.”

If the Supreme Court upholds the health care law, the individual mandate is scheduled to go into effect in 2014.

Read more

« Previous PageNext Page »