Publicola: Health care reform and Nickels crosses a picket line
1. State Senator Karen Keiser (D-33, Kent) is traveling to the Washington, D.C. this week—to the White House actually—to win an award for health care reforms she’s pushed through the state legislature, like instituting assessments on the necessity of fancy new medical equipment (which found $30 million in savings last year, she says.)
Sen. Keiser chairs the health care committee in Olympia.
2. Speaking of health care reform, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-7, WA) spoke about the pending health care battle during his keynote speech at Washington Public Campaign’s annual banquet on Saturday night in West Seattle. (WPC is a lefty civic group pushing for public financing of campaigns.)
McDermott tied public financing and health care reform together by pointing out the obvious: Health care reform (Obama’s government-sponsored plan) could stall because legislators are increasingly dependent on donations from lobbying groups—the insurance industry and pharmaceutical companies—who are opposed to it.
Public financing could change the equation, he said, because members of Congress would no longer be controlled by vested interests like insurance and drug companies. (It’s worth pointing out that in 2008, New Jersey drug company Schering-Plough and insurance company New York Life Insurance were among McDermott’s top-10 contributors, donating $10,000 in PAC money each.)
And McDermott had some good and surprising (to me anyway) news. He said big companies like “the G.E.s, AT&Ts, and Microsofts, just go down the list”—that strongly opposed the last big push for reform in 1993—are ready to pass legislation now. Rising health care costs are killing big employers like G.E. McDermott also said big labor (which has been losing on health benefits at the bargaining table for the last 15 years) is also on board this time. And, most important, he said—insurance companies are ready to negotiate. McDermott simply said, “they sense that something’s different this time and they’ve come to the table.”
3. Speaking of Saturday night’s lefty banquet (the liberal activist group Common Cause won an award), a hand full of local candidates was on hand, including: City Council Members Nick Licata and Richard Conlin; Conlin-challenger David Ginsberg; David Bloom (who’s running for Jan Drago’s open seat); Dorsol Plants (who’s running for Jan Drago’s open seat); and Rusty Williams (who’s running for Richard McIver’s open seat.)
Also in attendance: Mayoral hopefuls Mike McGinn and Norman Sigler
And where was Mayor Nickels? He was at the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Providence, R.I. crossing a picket line.
(To call attention to their contract fight with Providence Mayor David Cicilline, the Providence firefighters union has set up a picket line across the street from the convention center where the conference is being held. Vice President Joseph Biden cancelled his appearance at the conference because of the labor action.)
Team Nickels’ explanation ? Nickels didn’t actually cross the line because his hotel is connected to the convention center, so the mayor didn’t have to walk through the picket.
That’s really what they said.
4. You may remember last week Morning Fizz tipped you off to a young blogger from Tehran for the inside scoop on the Iranian elections. Given the fiery protests and subsequent crackdown after Ahmadinejad’s controversial victory, MF is a little concerned about our blogging friend. Immediately after the elections on Friday, he posted this:
But a few hours later, the post was gone .
5. SIFF is over. A PubliCola round of applause to all you movie weirdos who took us up on the TwitteReview challenge to review SIFF flicks in 140 characters or less .
Appropriately enough, we’ll close with Twitterer iheartBunnies, our most reliable and poetic reviewer (she totally mastered the form, as in: “The sci-fi was interesting, but not thought all the way through. Very Russian, if you like that sort of thing.”) Here are her top five picks from the festival: