Jerry Cornfield

Finesse may be better than force | The Petri Dish

Finesse is a word rarely used to describe Gov. Jay Inslee’s approach to fashioning policy.

State’s initiative king lost his bling | The Petri Dish

Rarely can the lack of action trigger so much reaction as it did last week when Tim Eyman didn’t do something he so often does — turn in signatures for an initiative.

Letter highlights Washington’s failing schools | The Petri Dish

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn doesn’t want to use the word “failing” when talking about Washington’s public schools.

State representatives call for changes at state ferries

Washington’s newest ferry went into service Monday amid the concerns of two lawmakers that a flawed design is causing some vehicles to bottom out as they transition from ramps onto upper parking decks.

Ethics Board looks at fine line around lobbyist meetings | Petri Dish

Amid the dialectic contours in Olympia, they are trying to figure out if influence can be peddled with a few bags of Doritos or a $12 meal.

Obama visit includes lesson about communication

That venerable adage ‘It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it’ came to mind Tuesday as President Barack Obama departed the Oso firehouse. Not because the communicator-in-chief had just provided three cringe-worthy moments with his tortured pronunciation of the town’s name.

Sometimes it takes a tragedy to make progress | Guest Column

Sometimes it takes a calamity to move anything through Congress. In the case of the Green Mountain Lookout, it took a tragedy for federal lawmakers to keep an iconic structure exactly where it is.

Time will tell on Gov. Inslee’s next political moves | Guest Column

No one could be happier to see state lawmakers wrap up and head home than Gov. Jay Inslee. They departed and won’t return until January, 2015.

Inslee seems to be test-driving messages | Guest Column

Gov. Jay Inslee’s call to raise money for schools by closing tax breaks put the education funding debate back in the laps of lawmakers this week and in the conversation with voters this fall. Inslee’s plan to generate $200 million in new taxes by eliminating or revising seven exemptions is a slimmed down version of the billion-dollar plus tax package rejected by a Republican-led majority in the Senate a year ago.

The Petri Dish | Guest Columnist

There is no mystery which Democrat will succeed Sen. Paull Shin in the state Senate. Rep. Marko Liias has been the only person seeking the vacancy created when Shin resigned Jan. 7 after being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Liias is expected to be formally nominated Saturday by Democratic precinct committee officers in the 21st Legislative District and officially appointed Tuesday by the Snohomish County Council.

Legislators have full slate in 2014 | Guest Column

A preview of coming attractions and distractions for lawmakers next year can be found in the pile of legislation awaiting them when they return to Olympia in January. There have been 59 bills filed early — 38 in the House and 21 in the Senate — dealing with specialty license plates and protecting hospital employees from violent criminals, as well as naming a state waterfall and ensuring natural disasters don’t shut down government. Here’s a sample of new laws House and Senate members are already pushing:

Years after Metcalf, district may get a Republican vote | Guest Column

It’s been 33 years since voters chose a Republican governor in Washington. It’s been even longer since a member of the Grand Old Party got elected from the 38th Legislative District to the state House of Representatives. You have to go back half a century to find the last one — Jack Metcalf, a Whidbey Island Republican who won a House seat when the district’s boundaries encompassed parts of Snohomish and Island counties.

Replacement process for empty seats may be legally indefensible | Guest Column

When Everett Democrat Nick Harper abandoned his state Senate seat earlier this month, you might have thought voters would be the ones to pick his replacement. You’d have been right 100 years ago. Not today. Washington’s original state constitution required that special elections be held to fill vacancies in the House or Senate. A change enacted in 1929 shifted the state to an appointment process and put county councils in charge of finding suitable successors from any political party.

Initiative 522 campaign lacked urgency | Guest Column

Initiative 522 failed to pass for more reasons than just the $22 million opponents shelled out to defeat it. All those bucks certainly made a difference; it was the most money ever spent against an initiative in state history, so far. Had those pushing the food labeling initiative done a better job seeding their message throughout the state and tilling the fields of voters, they could have harvested victory.