May 2, 2008

Olympia News and Notes

By Randy Hodgins

Here are a few items of note from the state capitol that made news this past week.

  • TVW, the state’s public affairs network has a new President.  Greg Lane, former deputy chief of staff to Attorney General Rob McKenna assumed the helm of Washington’s “C-SPAN” station on May 1.  Lane succeeds former TVW President Cindy Zehnder who left last fall to become chief of staff for Governor Christine Gregoire.  Lane also becomes my new landlord as the UW Office of State Relations Olympia office is located on the second floor of the Jeanette C. Hayner Media Center (TVW’s office) here in the capitol city.
  • Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-Covington) was arrested this past week on a charge of fourth degree assault and interfering with a domestic violence report.  Simpson is chair of the House Local Government Committee and is currently serving his fourth term representing the 47th legislative district which is in southeast King County from the Renton Highlands, to Kent and Black Diamond.  Simpson has denied any wrongdoing and House leadership has not yet taken any official action.  UPDATE:  Seattle Times chief political reporter David Postman reports this afternoon that after meeting with Speaker Frank Chopp, Simpson has relinquished his chairmanship of the House Local Government Committee.  No word on his replacement although the Vice Chair is Rep. Dean Takko (D-Longview).
  • The race for Superintendent for Public Instruction (SPI) is getting more crowded.  Former state legislator and House Education Committee chairman Randy Dorn has announced his candidacy for state schools chief.  Dorn is currently executive director of the Public School Employees of Washington.  He joins Richland superintendent Rich Semler (who was recently endorsed by the Washington Education Association) as the two chief challengers to incumbant Terry Bergeson who is seeking her fourth term this fall.
  • Tim Eyman has taken out a second mortgage on his home to finance his latest statewide ballot measure.  Recently, Eyman’s initiatives have been bankrolled primarily by Woodinville investor Mike Dunmire who apparently has other uses for his money.  Eyman’s latest proposal is Initiative 985 which among other things would open up carpool lanes to all vehicles in off-peak hours and direct monies from red-light fines to go towards congestion relief projects.

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