Posted by: sweeneyblog | April 12, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Pay Cut, Guns and Gay Flowers

Hello Loyal Readers,

Another week packed full of political news. This Saturday, I will have an article about all the County Council excitement and Monday I have a follow-up on Doug Ericksen’s tax increase on Lynden residents. But for now, all the news that is fit to print.

Suzan Delbene

Suzan Delbene

Suzan Delbene, our new congresswoman from this area joined a host of other Democrats in taking a paycut to show solidarity with those gouged by the sequester. “As hundreds of thousands of federal workers face unpaid furloughs and funding for programs that working families depend on such as Head Start and Meals On Wheels are getting cut, the across-the-board cuts from sequestration are starting to impact people throughout the country. It’s only fair that elected leaders are affected as well,” said DelBene. She will be returning 8.2% of her salary to the U.S. Treasury.

Two 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. John Burbank of the Economic Opportunity Institute penned a topnotch editorial push for a very simple solution: Close some of their tax loopholes.

“Right now, Microsoft enjoys a $20 million “high-tech” sales tax waiver each year. That is about .1 percent of Microsoft profits. The Legislature could close this loophole. Indeed, Microsoft should encourage this. Why? Because that money could fund more students in the STEM college pipeline, and from there right into Microsoft. It is good for the state, it is good for students and it is good for Microsoft,” said Burbank.

Close on the heels of this proposal, the House Democratic budget was released and it included closing fifteen of those tax loopholes. A solid start from the state Democrats.

The Washington State Republicans are holding their annual fundraiser this weekend and what are they auctioning off? An AR-15. You know, the same type of weapon used in most of the large-scale shootings over the last year. Tacky doesn’t even begin to cover it. Also being auctioned off is a lunch with Rob McKenna, well-known for his lively and welcoming demeanor. I wonder which one will raise more money?

Shahram Hadian at the Whatcom GOP Convention

Shahram Hadian at the Whatcom GOP Convention

Finally, our marriage equality law is getting an early legal test thanks to a bigoted florist in Benton County. Baronelle Stutzman, owner of Arlene Flowers, recently refused to provide wedding flowers to two men who were long-time customers of hers because the men were getting married to each other. Our attorney general, Bob Ferguson, indicated he will press a lawsuit to make an example of this case as a clear-cut example of discriminatory practices.

Stutzman contests that arranging flowers is a free-speech expression and that the law could not compel an anti-war activist to compose a pro-war song. Ferguson is contesting that this is more in the line of refusing to serve a customer based on their sexual orientation – which is pretty much the legal definition of discrimination.

No matter how the legal battle shakes out, this will continue to be a media firestorm. Shahram Hadian, ultra-conservative candidate for Governor in 2012, sent out this hair-raising email about the issue.

We must STOP compromising!! While I was travelling around WA State last year working to defend marriage as between one man and one woman, we were warning people that we would begin to see these kinds of lawsuits in our state violating the rights of Christians and business owners who would not support same-sex marriages. Many said we were exaggerating and that this would not happen.

Well, Washington State, here you go. You got what you asked for.

. . .

While many (including some of my Christian friends) voiced their support for “equality” and so called “civil rights” for homosexuals, who was concerned for the civil rights and religious freedom of those who hold a Biblical view of marriage? I am tired of the false tolerance message of those who demand rights for homosexuals but could care less about the rights of those holding to Biblical values. Your hypocrisy is blatant! Our freedoms continue to drop off a cliff more each day! Enough is enough.

Hadian’s rather inflammatory language is just the first broadside in what will be a continued fight. One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was when, as a young man, I had the opportunity to interview Jolene Unsoeld, the former Congresswoman from my hometown of Olympia. She said that it is not enough to simply pass a law. “You  must defend it, because the people who fought you then don’t go away. They work, constantly, to undermine the progress you have made.”

In 2012, we made a great leap forward for equality, but defending it from discriminatory people like Hadian and Stutzman will take a generation.

Tune in this weekend for updates about County Council races and more details on Doug Ericksen’s tax increase on Lynden residents.



  1. Auctioning off an AR-15 is likely to raise a lot of funds for the WA Republicans. For two reasons:
    1) The expected – it caters to the reactionary base of what is essentially a reactionary party; and
    2) The underlying – an AR-15 is just a STYLE of semi-automatic rifle, no different technically to any other semi-automatic hunting rifle. To ban an “assault-rifle”-style gun that is no different in operation or danger from thousands of other styles of legal hunting rifles is IMHO superficial and unjustifiable for other than purely symbolic reasons. And for these reasons, trying to ban this style of gun allows making mock of legitimate gun control policies, like ensuring that 100% of gun buyers are background-checked.

    And that’s what your friends in the Republican party are doing – making mock of attempts to ban a style of rifle and by extension, making mock of efforts to control guns. And all the proponents of a ban on “assault (STYLE) rifles” are doing is weakening legitimate gun control policy efforts. And providing a convenient cover for gun advocates.

    Banning “assault (STYLE) rifles” will not happen and attempting to do so only weakens sensible gun control efforts. Stupid strategy, based on ignorance.

  2. Uh No,
    we asked for an end to discrimination and so a lawsuit against a business that violates the law is your own consequence.
    Told ya so.
    In the exact same vein,
    I love the spastic justifications for owning a weapon designed to kill people and do it in a big way – it’s simply a question of style!
    Making money by raffling a rifle off to your lemmings,
    why that’s just good satire!

  3. These guys have absolutely no compassion. As a retired military man, the AR15 and all those kind of tactical weapons, weapons of mass distruction, should be banned. To have that as an auction item is wicked and dispicable. Shame on the Republicans who are spitting on those parents and children of Sandy Hook. I left the Republican party years ago as are many more with this out of control right wing trying to bring our country down.

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