Posted by: sweeneyblog | March 29, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Fleetwood, Jobs Reports and Inslee’s Budget

Hello Loyal Readers,

I hope that the weather alone will make this a “Good” Friday for you. It is time again for the Friday Odds and Ends, and there is some thrilling electoral news as local races begin to heat up.

Seth Fleetwood listens in the overflow area of the EIS Scoping meeting

Seth Fleetwood listens in the overflow area of the EIS Scoping meeting

The biggest local news recently is Seth Fleetwood’s announcement that he will not seek reelection. Fleetwood is currently the “At-Large” representative which means he has to run for reelection every two years. This position was designed to be a springboard for community activists, who would run for the shorter term seat and then if they enjoyed the work and wanted to stay, they would run for their ward. However, in recent history it has been held down by one person for extended periods of time.

Fleetwood said he wanted to be a private citizen for a while, having been a County Councilmember, mayoral candidate and then city councilman for many years. I salute his years of service. He has been a clear and consistent voice of reason on the council and I have always admired the way he made his decisions. He was the only vote against the Red Light Cameras, and helped clean up our city by promoting the plastic bag ban. Thank you, Seth.

His unexpected retirement has set off a whole string of speculation as this seat can draw challenges city-wide. First out of the gate is former City Councilman Barry Buchanan. Buchanan sat on the council for four years but was bumped off by Cathy Lehman in 2011 by a landslide (67% Lehman versus 32% Buchanan). There are lots of names being bantered about, I will try and get more information by next week.

Full Disclosure: I’ve been considering running for City Council. It is something I have been interested in for many years and I will be weighing the pros and cons during the next couple of weeks. I am quite passionate about rental safety in our community and believe that the thousands of young people in this community deserve a seat at the table of their government. I will definitely let you, my loyal readers, know if this is the right year for me to run.


Inslee is closing those tax loopholes

Moving right along, Gov. Inslee offered up his solutions to funding education. His solutions are not groundbreaking but will produce 1.4 billion for education. He drums up most of this savings by closing some tax deductions and increasing some taxes on high-end professionals (doctors, lawyers, etc). I’m still crunching the numbers on this but the real story will be how the Republican-controlled senate deals with his proposal.

Finally, this week the Washington Roundtable, a policy group populated by the state’s largest employers, announced there were 25,000 job vacancies requiring four-year college degrees in Washington. This announcement probably created some cognitive dissonance for the many underemployed college graduates whose fruitless job hunts have left them wondering how they’re going to make their next student loan payment.

A more realistic picture is presented by the state’s Job Vacancy Report which estimates that that there were only 11,000 job vacancies for positions requiring a bachelor’s or graduate degree — almost 90 percent of those jobs are in the I-5 urban corridor. Why the big difference?  I’m not sure but it does seem the Roundtable, which has made crusades of student testing, teacher assessments and charter schools, is also aiming at getting more higher education funding. It’s a shame though that such a powerful business group with members like Boeing, Microsoft, McKinstry, Bank of America, and BP Cherry Point, can only seem to complain about the lack of education funding, when they are in an excellent position to propose how to pay for that funding. They do expect to help pay for the education and training of their employees. . . right?

And that is all for me this week. I hope to have some interesting news on the County Council races in the next week as well as a few other articles that have been incubating for a while.



  1. Doesn’t surprise me that much the corporate giants are not filling their vacant jobs, IF the report Cisco released is true. Any thoughts on Gen Y simply not wanting to work very much or unless they can have access to social media? To be clear, I’m not asserting this but happened to read the article the other day so don’t shoot the messenger! If true, I’ll have to revise my thought that Gen Y is going to be the ones to take us out of our economic low.

    Article Link:

    The other Link on not wanting to work:

    • I feel like this is another example of blaming young people for laziness, something that has been going on for generations. All the Gen Y’s I know who are looking for work would gladly accept ANY sort of job, social media access is the last thing on their mind.

      This seems to me like more an example of our state’s biggest employers wanting to have skilled labor at their fingertips, but being unwilling to make the investments so that will happen.

      • Yeah, I still hold the hope that Gen Y will be the innovators and risk takers that bring us back. We have some excellent examples of that here in Bellingham – just need more of it.

  2. If you do decide to run, Riley, will you interview yourself?

  3. Riley,

    Here’s a news topic for you.

    Why is the U.S. exporting oil? That’s right, we are EXPORTING domestically-produced oil! See:

    Obviously, the business answer is that drillers can sell to whoever they want. Politically, though, this is insane!

    Kim Burkhardt

  4. Riley,

    I mentioned this to my ex-husband this morning (about exporting a portion of domestic oil production).

    He says that he seems to recall hearing at one time about the U.S. exporting domestic oil production. He seems to recall that the thinking involved government strategy:

    1) Diversify the worlds oil supply on a global basis, and

    2) Supply oil to countries that serve our needs on a trade-off basis. For example, provide oil to countries that agree to allow a U.S. military base on their soil.

    Thats an uncomfortable idea, but at least there may have been some thought and/or logic put into it.


    • It is curious. I know that our trade policy often can be complex and quickly changing. I’ll look into it.

      • In less than five years, the USA will be the largest oil exporting nation on the planet. The frackable fields we have reachable by horizontal drilling will trigger an economic boom in the US which will allow us a choice of rebuilding our infrastructure and pushing renewable energy sources, or giving further tax cuts to the “job creators”.

  5. Run, Rabbit, Run, uh, um…Run Mr. Sweeneyblog. I will notify SarahPac of your beard scratching and see if We The People can unite around your candidacy. A solid Common Sense Conservative like you is needed ‘In the Arena’.

    Godspeed little doodle.

  6. A little bit of election history on the city at-large position and Seth Fleetwood.

    In 1987, the city at-large position did not have an incumbent, Jacqui MacConnell retired after holding the the seat for four years. Louise Bjornson ran against James Caldwell in the general election. Bjornson had been active in the Birchwood recycling group. The group became Bellingham Community Recycling, then Environmental Resource Services and is now known as Re Sources. James Caldwell was elected to the 6th Ward in 1981. That year the voters changed the City Council to ward only voting in the general election. In 1985, James Caldwell ran for reelection and was defeated by Tip Johnson. That year the voters changed the City Charter back to city-wide voting in the general election.

    In 1987, Louise Bjornson defeated James Caldwell with 51.7 percent of the vote. Bjornson ran for reelection 10 times, she was almost defeated in 1993 by Orphalee Smith, only receiving 50.9 percent of the vote. Eight other times she never received less than 58.8 percent of the vote. In 2007, Michael Lilliquest ran against Bjornson and she received a little less than 55 percent of the vote. She did not to run for reelection in 2009

    In 2001, Seth Fleetwood ran again incumbent Marlene Dawson for the Whatcom County at-large position. Dawson was elected in 1993 (the year two city and two County Council incumbents were defeated and property rights proponents became a majority on the County Council). In 1995, two more property rights proponents were elected the the County Council. In 2001, Fleetwood defeated Dawson with 52.5 percent of the vote, he was reelected in 2005. Fleetwood ran for the city at-large position in 2009 and received 76.3 percent of the vote. His opponent was write-in candidate Orphalee Smith. He was reelected in 2011 with 66.6 percent of the vote.

  7. […] weeks ago, I talked about the need for Washington Roundtable, a collection of our top employers, to pony up some of the costs of training their future workforce. […]

  8. […] has stepped up to challenge her. Buchanan, former City Councilman and Democratic county chair, originally declared for the Bellingham At-Large seat but has since moved over to challenge Kershner. Patti Brooks was rumored to be pursuing this seat […]

  9. […] reoccurring theme with Mutchler. At a time when Whatcom residents are sending mailers filled with trumped up accusations, bloody imagery and more, Mutchler’s deferential approach seems to work. “I […]

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