Posted by: sweeneyblog | September 6, 2013

Friday Odds and Ends: Follow-ups, Sakuma and Media

Hello Loyal Readers,

Today’s Odds and Ends includes several follow-ups on stories covered here on the Political Junkie because I always endeavour to give you the most accurate information as the stories unfold. As I tell everyone who asks, if I didn’t get to it, it wasn’t because of distaste for the story, it was simply a constraint fo time.

Vice-Chair Luanne Van Werven

Vice-Chair Luanne Van Werven

First follow-up story, Luanne Van Werven was defeated by a Seattle TV personality in her race for State Republican Chair. Susan Hutchison beat out Van Werven in the tightly contested race in what was broadly seen as a proxy war between the moderate and conservative wings of the party. Hutchison, who ran and lost for King County Executive, is seen as a more Rob McKenna-ish Seattle conservative while Van Werven represents the more radical Republican base. BRIEF ASIDE: It is wonderful that two powerful women are the top vote-getters within the Republican party. Well-done!

With Hutchison installed and Van Werven staying on as Vice-Chair, it actually raises a tricky legal question considering that RCW 29A.80.020 states that “The state committee of each major political party consists of one committeeman and one committeewoman from each county elected by the county central committee at its organization meeting. It must have a chair and vice chair of opposite sexes.” Van Werven contends that they are trying to change their internal bylaws to fix the problem but that still would not trump state law. I am curious to see if they will try to comply or just make like the Whatcom County Council and pretend state law doesn’t apply to them.

Following up on the Group Health story, more details have come out. Group Health is claiming it did not file the appropriate paperwork with the federal government (since national subsidies are used to support the health care exchange as part of the Affordable Care Act) so they made the decision to not cover abortion this year and will try to provide it next year. A spokesperson for Group Health has stated they will try to cover abortion at no cost during the meantime, however since it is an insurance provider, forgive me if I don’t take their promises seriously unless they are in writing. However, it looks like there wasn’t a hostile motive, just general incompetence. It is disappointing since the end result is the same, less healthcare options for women in Washington (although, as my friend Matt Petryni points out, health care access as a whole will be DRASTICALLY expanded through these health care exchanges).

Democratic Volunteers at a Farmworker benefit

Democratic Volunteers at a Farmworker benefit

The Sakuma Farmworkers are still struggling with management to get safer working conditions and fair pay. There is a benefit concert being held in Conway this Saturday at 7 p.m. to help them in their struggle. You can find all the details here. The Whatcom Democrats have been quite involved in raising their issues and supporting their fight for a fair work environment. Also, the Fiestas Patrias is this Saturday afternoon starting in Ferndale; it is a lovely celebration and worth checking out.

Finally, it has been a busy week for me in the media. I appeared on The Joe Show last Wednesday (you can listen to my interview here) and talked about the details of marijuana legalization, my love of Doug Ericksen and conservatives bailing on debates. I also have a blockbuster article about  Jail planning in this month’s issue of the Whatcom Watch – so pick up a copy at one of these fine locations.

Several people emailed me (you can too, click here) and asked for more investigation into the fundraising efforts of local candidates. Stay tuned next week as I dive into secretive PACs, outside donations and all the muckity-muck of money in politics.

As always, you can support investigative journalism by sending me a few dollars hereYour support allows me to justify the time and intensive work it takes to do investigative journalism. Thank you to everyone who has already donated, it makes a big difference.



  1. Nice piece of reporting, as always. The GHC follow-up and the perspectives on the Republican Party machinations are especially appreciated.

  2. I can’t believe I missed the Chair / Vice-Chair gender thing! Too funny.

  3. Weird that you are poking a stick at the state GOP having both top positions held by women!. You’d think that as a Democrat, your argument would be that white male privilege is some big problem with society, so therefore the arbitrary minimum quotas should be “at least” one of the two should be a woman, totally allowing for two women, and same for other “affirmative action goals” for other groups. Otherwise, you are actually arguing here that men are not getting enough privilege. Conversely, the GOP response here would be that there should be no quotas, as evidenced by the fact that (strictly based on the content of character) they selected the best two persons for the job and happened to come up with two women, which is very post-gender.

    • My point is that no matter your position on the issue, they are breaking the law and that is still unresolved.

      As for whether there SHOULD be a law requiring opposite gender leadership, I believe that a successful organization brings in a wide array of perspectives and there shouldn’t need to be a law requiring that. The results should speak for themselves. But as it stands now, there IS a law and the GOP is breaking it.

  4. True, Huey, there should ideally be no ‘quotas.’ There should also be no institutional, no emotional, and indeed no irrational barriers between some, and the rest of the body politic having equal access to opportunity broadly defined…but we live in neither world…There are quotas, a fairly minor ‘consequence’ given 400 years of enslavement, and there are indeed barriers; the barriers are real (as inconvenient and ‘wrong’ though you may think they are; they are undeniable, institutional in many cases, and also emotional, or more descriptively put, there are barriers in the hearts of human beings who seem unable to avoid reacting to color, ethnicity, nationality, and culture in a way that diminishes…

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