A great gallery is a rarity in any city. For thirteen years, starting in his living room and moving into Belltown before establishing himself in Pioneer Square, Billy Howard had a great gallery. As each year ends and I look back on the memorable shows, Howard is consistently at the top of the list. Howard House will close June 11, Seattle’s first major gallery to fall victim to the economy.
Nothing illustrates the depth of the gallery’s lineup than the fact that five of its most stellar artists (Dan Webb, Victoria Haven, Leo Saul Berk, Alex Schweder and Joseph Park) walked out together in 2007. Those who wanted other galleries in the region found them on the top tier. Those artists were the cream, but skim the cream at HH, and most of what’s left is still cream. (more…)
See more photos from Howard House’s greatest hits here
“EPA must be gulping down its energy drinks in large quantities, because after years of allowing corporations to withhold vital safety information, it screamed ‘stop’ yesterday. In the Federal Register, the agency said that it will no longer permit the obstruction of safety evaluations by allowing firms to hide behind age-old claims of business secrecy,” investigative reporter Andrew Schneider, formerly of Seattle P-I, writes at his blog Coldtruth.com.
The collective gasp being heard in Capitols across the country is a result of Congress dealing gambling state officials a bust card in their game of blackjack budgeting.
Earlier this month we highlighted how Washington state was putting its faith in Congress to deliver $480 million in one-time federal Medicaid funds to help balance the budget. By leaving only $452 million in reserves, should Congress not come through with the assumed $480 million, Gov. Gregoire said she will be forced to issue across-the-board cuts as required by law or call a special session.
It looks like that is becoming more of a possibility with each passing day.
As reported by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL):
“Last night, congressional leaders dropped the $24 billion extension of the enhanced match for Medicaid and Title IV-E programs authorized in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).”
This was due to concerns with increasing federal deficits.
Responding to the news, Gregoire released this statement today:
“I am certainly aware of the pressure our congressional leaders are facing in the other Washington. Like them, I am too familiar with the struggles of deciding which government programs to support with tax payer dollars, while protecting our limited resources to maintain a strong financial footing as our state and nation move forward from the worst recession since the Great Depression. With that said, there’s no question that the programs Congress is currently considering will provide substantial help to our citizens, while ensuring economic growth.
Washington state has a lot at stake in a comprehensive federal jobs package – including nearly $500 million in FMAP [Federal Medicaid Assistance Percentages, which means the federal Medicaid match rate] money, as well as the extension of unemployment benefits for those looking for work and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program to help and provide work opportunities for struggling families. Each one of these programs has proven to create jobs while preventing our state from making further cuts that would hinder economic growth . . .
I urge Congress to work together to pass a package quickly. Our citizens, our communities and states across the nation are running out of time.”
According to my source at the National Conference of State Legislatures, the Medicaid match-rate funding is “not dead but it’s on life support. If this is going to happening it’s going to have to happen before the July congressional recess.”
States that bet on Congress to help balance their budgets are learning the hard lesson that most gamblers eventually face: There is no sure thing when betting on the outcome.
Jason Mercier is the director of the Center for Government Reform at the Washington Policy Center. He serves on the Executive Committee of the American Legislative Exchange Council’s Tax and Fiscal Policy Task Force and is a contributing editor of the Heartland Institute’s Budget & Tax News. Mercier also serves on the board of the Washington Coalition for Open Government and was an adviser to the 2002 Washington State Tax Structure Committee.
From Larry Johnson’s blog: Looking for Trouble.
(While her flight was delayed in New York, Gerri added a few paragraphs at the end of this post.)
As she did last year, Gerri has organized a Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility delegation of doctors and other health care providers to work in hospitals and clinics in Gaza in an effort to directly help the people there and to bring attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis that the Israeli blockade has created. She has been sending back reports from inside and outside the Israeli blockade. This is her final post before returning to the United States.
This morning, we traveled early to Haifa to attend the first part of a conference addressing a one-state solution. We met colleagues from Physicians for Human Rights, Israel, and learned of the work they are doing. Their representative, Sameeh, told us that PHR’s main objective is to get good access to health services for the West Bank and Gaza.
Sameeh described the difficulties in getting people to services – sometimes requiring that patients be taken long distances “out of the way” to get to nearby facilities that are almost inaccessible because of the separation Wall.
PHR is also working on a nutrition project – studying how the siege is affecting nutrition in Gaza. They are gathering and compiling information from NGOs in Gaza – focusing on what Israel allows to be taken into Gaza, on the prohibited fishing situation, and on agriculture.
Almost 48% of agriculture land in Gaza is not workable. The land in the buffer zone is not accessible and bombing has made much of the earth unsafe to farm. Most importantly, water is a critical issue in Gaza.
Sameeh reported that 95% of the water is contaminated and 80% of drinking water is privately supplied – an economic disaster. Many of the wells have been bombed. NGOs report that because of the contamination of the water, the growth of children is stunted. There will be an ongoing study by PHR on these issues.
Comments on a one-state solution varied from the hope for this possibility to an opinion that such a state already exists – but that many of the citizens (West Bank, Gaza and Palestinian Israelis) have few or limited rights.
During our visit to this region, we have heard many opinions about solutions to the current untenable divisions – with the majority of commentators to our group holding that a one-state solution is impossible and a two-state solution is a distant hope.
We had a walking tour of the Old City in Haifa and visited the lovely Bahai Gardens, then turned south to the airport.
We will fly home tonight – again grateful for this time and the wonderful people we know here.
School will end in the next few weeks and roughly 75 percent of students will not attend summer learning programs, creating a potential brain drain that could drag down achievement when classes start in the fall, a new report says.
This widespread brain drain doesn’t affect just K-12 students. It raises an important question for the early learning community. As the federal government and states work to build quality pre-kindergarten systems, how important is it to continue these programs over the summer?
While parents have many summertime options for their pre-k kids, the Afterschool Alliance’s findings suggest many can’t or don’t rely on these programs. In Washington State, for example, only 21 percent of students attend summer learning programs, though roughly half, 49 percent, would like their kids to attend. (more)
more at Birth to Thrive
Cold comfort for a nation that stands mouth agape at the mind-boggling catastrophe off our southern shore, but today President Obama finally admitted what we and others had been saying for years: America is wholly unprepared for a major oil spill. (And Puget Sound is particularly at risk. More on that in a moment.)
It’s just a five-paragraph blurb on The New York Times’ website, but in it our nation’s highest-ranking civil servant says he made a mistake believing ”the oil companies had their act together when it came to worst case scenarios.” He went on:
”I was wrong.”
D’ya think? But let’s not go too hard on the commander-in-chief, given that every other level of government that’s handled the so-called preparations for this massive oil spill got it wrong as well.
This incredibly dispiriting oil spill continues to leave me a little too slack-jawed to take it on in earnest as a blog topic. But it bears repeating that:
* Skimming oil is largely ineffective, capturing maybe 10 percent of the spilled oil — if we’re lucky. (more)
more at InvestigateWest
Speaking of the oil spill… below is video from the Times-Picayune of a shrimper’s mounting frustration:
|Not sure who is in charge|
Seattlepostglobe received the following letter to the editor:
We are two moms in tennis shoes beating the pavement to reduce our community’s carbon footprint with a fierce determination to leave a healthier planet for our children. Whether it be working to encourage other moms to find less energy intensive ways to cart kids around, run a household or pass polices aimed at curbing global warming, we’re on it day in and day out.
With oil gushing into the Gulf, our determination has only gotten fiercer. We cannot allow this to happen again.
It’s not fair to our children.
Rather than drilling into oil reserves off our coasts, we need to transition to a clean energy economy — now.
Policies at the local, state, and federal level are essential to a quick transition. A federal bill that puts a cap on carbon requiring a steady reduction of global warming pollution going into our air is essential.
The debate in the US Senate is finally in full swing about the policy we need — a cap on carbon. Sen. Maria Cantwell has introduced the CLEAR Act and Senator Kerry has introduced the American Power Act, both of which call for a cap. Sen. Patty Murray, the original mom in tennis shoes turned United States Senator, is burning a few holes in her tennis shoes working to pass a comprehensive federal climate bill.
For our children’s sake, we’re counting on our Senators Murray and Cantwell to continue their relentless work in pressing their colleagues to pass a comprehensive climate bill this year.
Beth Doglio of Climate Solutions
Terri Glaberson of CoolMom.org
Last fall we told you about Meg Diaz’s report on the Seattle School District budget and how her analysis showed that the district was spending much more on central administration that other comparable districts in the state.
This week a commenter reminded us that it needed follow-up, so we got the latest details from Diaz, who sent us the district’s formal response to her analysis (attached as a PDF above).
The district’s finance team found that:
- They had been miscoding some expenses as being overhead when other districts assign those costs to classroom instruction. The biggest item was teacher coaching, which was 111 employees and $10.3 million… (more)
more at Central District News
From Larry Johnson’s blog: Looking for Trouble.
As she did last year, Gerri has organized a Washington Physicians for Social Responsibility delegation of doctors and other health care providers to work in hospitals and clinics in Gaza in an effort to directly help the people there and to bring attention to the ongoing humanitarian crisis that the Israeli blockade has created. She has been sending back reports from inside and outside the Israeli blockade.
Today felt like a bonus day. We waited for a meeting that didn’t happen, then were treated to an exquisite history and tour of East Jerusalem by Yohav, a member of the Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions. With brilliance and humor, Yohav dismantled Israel’s approach to occupation and settlement development.
Using maps, he demonstrated the diminution of Palestinian land and told us that Israel’s dilemma is, “land we want and people we don’t want.” The governmental expansion of what constitutes the municipality of Jerusalem from a relatively small area around the Old City to an area that stretches from Ramallah to Bethlehem was, he said, an effort to address that dilemma. By taking into Jerusalem Palestinian land which was sparsely populated and then walling out (with the Wall) more heavily populated Palestinian areas, Israel effectively protected their need for more land with a Palestinian minority – making Jerusalem ever more difficult to share. This process of walling out cut off families from relatives, children from schools, people from economic possibility and agricultural land from the people who own it.
He claimed that the decrease in suicide bombings is not due to the Wall, but more probably due to a very effective Israeli secret police force and a decision by Palestinians that suicide bombing was not being effective. Since 20,000 Palestinians move “illegally” into Israel every day to work (without a permit and by moving around the Wall), he held that it is illogical to believe that the Wall is the major cause for a decrease in suicide bombings.
Since the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem pay the same taxes as the Jewish residents of East Jerusalem and should therefore have the same municipal services, Yohav invited us to compare the appearance of the two areas. West Jerusalem: modern roads and sidewalks; East Jerusalem: “where the sidewalk ends” along pot-holed roads. West Jerusalem: classrooms with twenty-plus students per classroom; East Jerusalem: in need of 1500 new classrooms and double-shifting its students. The Israeli Supreme Court has adjudicated this issue but only about one-third of the mandated classrooms are under construction and due for completion on the time-line established. West Jerusalem: modern sewage system; East Jerusalem: ancient septic systems that drain into the ground water and affect the health of the entire area, etc.
Building permits are rarely awarded to Palestinians in East Jerusalem and residents who build without a permit are fined and/or their home is destroyed. Since 1967, more than 25,000 Palestinian homes have been destroyed. New, permitted, construction is underway in East Jerusalem – for Jewish Israelis. We drove through Sheikh Jarrah – an area under present contention.
This afternoon, we traveled to Bethlehem to visit WPSR’s 1993 World Peacemaker Award winner, Zoughbi Zoughbi, director of Wi’am, The Palestinian Conflict Resolution Centre. Zoughbi talked with us about the political situation in Palestine, the devastating effects of the Wall on the people of his area, the problems with water (Israel turns controls the water to Bethlehem and recently turned off the water to the entire city for 13 days) and his constant hope that justice and peace will come.
Zoughbi is a member of the City Council of Bethlehem and very active in conflict resolution for the people of his city. As we walked with him to the Nativity Church, almost every person we passed greeted him by name.
In the Wi’am office, we met Amira – a delightful woman who is studying and writing about the Nakba. She related her tunnel experience in 2006. Unable to gain admission to Gaza, she walked and crawled through one of the tunnels – spent two weeks learning about the situation of that politically tumultuous time – then walked and crawled through a tunnel back to Egypt.
Having just seen the tunnel area in Rafah, we were stunned by the thought of this petite and courageous woman finding her way in and out of Gaza through this most dangerous route.
Reluctantly, we said goodbye to Zoughbi – our friend since the first WPSR visit to this area of the world in 1993. He has traveled with WPSR delegations to Iraq and Syria and throughout his home.
We wish for Zoughbi and all the people of this region a pathway to peace.
Seattle physicians in besieged Gaza put their experience to good use
Seattle medical delegation bids goodbye to Gaza