Cyber Hack Shuts Down Hunting, Fishing License Sales In 3 Northwest States -KPLU

What is disturbing about this is that you have to give detailed information to the state to get licenses, including phone numbers, birth dates and social security numbers. Why this information is needed by the state for such a simple license is unknown. And the fact that they can’t even protect our data from attack after getting it should be grounds for a lawsuit. I would bet, if we were able to know, that this database was not encrypted, had not been updated and had a simple password like “administrator” for the password. Is there a decent law firm out there, that can start suing the state to demand adequate protection of our information?

Online fishing and hunting license sales have now been suspended in Washington, Oregon and Idaho following a hacking incident. A Washington state official says some 7 million records across the three states were compromised, but the information was not terribly sensitive. The hack involves a third-party vendor called Active Network Outdoors which calls itself the leading provider of licensing systems to the states. The company has not responded to multiple requests for comment. But Michael Cockrill, Washington’s Chief Information Officer, said the company is cooperating with an investigation that includes the FBI. Cockrill said the information that was compromised includes what you’d find on your driver’s license — but not full social security or credit card numbers — suggesting the hacker may have just been showing off. Austin Jenkins reports. (KPLU)

Politics Of Trade: The Northwest’s Complicated Relationship To The TPP -OPB

Another article outlining some of the difficulties in getting to the truth about the TPP this election year.  As I have said before, I don’t believe that the TPP is the problem, just a symptom, and that the real problem that we face by these massive trade deals, which are always done with an eye towards helping American businesses, is that the tax law is what ultimately defines whether companies can outsource their work to low wage countries. If the tax laws make it unfavorable to move factories overseas, then they won’t. An unintended consequence of that is that they may just choose to open new factories overseas and slowly shut down antiquated ones, by not investing in them, but again, tax law dictates such issues as depreciation schedules of equipment. One reason Japan outcompeted us in the 198os was due to a very favorable depreciation schedule of 1 year to our 5 (or more) years. A company could write off the depreciation of a large manufacturing machine in 1 year, and then buy the latest state of the art one the next, making them more and more competitive. By the time our companies would have depreciated the equipment, the Japanese were 5 or more times efficient against our companies.

Part of our complicated tax law in the US gives different industries different depreciation schedules. For example, replacing computers at companies like Microsoft can be done more rapidly than standard companies, due to the ability to classify them as Research and Development (R&D) tools, rather than just standard business equipment. That Microsoft tests new Operating systems and programs like Word on their internal computer users first, allows them to take advantage of this tax law issue.

Another thing to think about, is that we currently dominate the world in software, a business that generates not only great middle class and upper class jobs, and has an enormous effect on follow on jobs for low income workers, that often supply goods and services to these businesses, and to the universe of partner companies that establish offices in the area of the business, such as we see with partners to Microsoft,Boeing and Amazon. These businesses all   generate enormous tax revenues for our country. Working towards a beneficial trade agreement that forces other countries, like China or India,  to get better at supporting our intellectual property, such as software, music and film rights, is a good thing for American workers. Fighting trade deals and making it more punitive or operating outside of trade deals leads to piecemeal implementation (or no implementation) of protection of these laws. 

There is always an inbalance between competition between nations and even states. Most people have heard that Delaware  has a special tax law that allows corporations to form easily there and shelter themselves from taxes. Nevada, likewise is a haven for companies in other states, to use as a tax haven for their revenues to be gathered. A large global company, headquartered in the Bay area, can open a subsidiary in Nevada, and have all their revenues go there first, to avoid California tax rates. You likely have heard of our massive tax breaks to Boeing and other companies. These are our states’ TPP deals with internal US companies, and external foreign companies that can bring jobs. This is the way states compete. It is legal. Allowing corporations to have signification input on trade deals is the way to get US subject matter expertise to the table so that our negotiators can best understand what we need from other countries. It’s our governments fault if they allow corporations to bury tax advantages into these but it is not the fault of the agreeement. And it is a political football to pretend that the deal is the problem.

To be clear, there are many other isssues that are concerning in TPP, and again our Congressional delegation should support taking it out from behind it’s secrecy and opening the process up for feedback.  I support the documented TPP problems and the solutions to them that were laid out in a 20 page detailed over veiw by a consortium of the Sierra Club,  Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen, Institute for Policy Studies and Earth Justice in 2012. If you like detail on these issues go and read the document.

But the following article is a good generic article, useful for much more discussion, I present it with an eye on helping us better understand why our representatives in Congress in the Pacific NW are not flocking to damn TPP, while the outsiders, who have nothing to lose, are. Ultimately we need trade deals, but they need to protect our environment, our hard won intellectual property. We must make sure they don’t give hidden benefits to countries and companies that are working against these issues.

Politics Of Trade: The Northwest’s Complicated Relationship To The TPP



Washington lands commissioner race draws crowd of Democrats – Cascadia Weekly

An interesting race is shaping up for Lands Commissioner. The good news is that no matter which of the Democrats win, if they do win, they all are standing for change in DNR. It’s been an organization with a very wide charter, that needs revamping to continue to work effectively in an era of dwindling resources, global warming that is helping to fuel massive wildfires beyond the ability of DNR to manage, and a misguided charter to cut trees to fund our schools. The best thing that could happen, but won’t , is to revamp our state tax system to alleviate the need for DNR to have to cut trees to fund schools.

This fall’s race for Washington’s commissioner of public lands—an office that oversees the state’s largest firefighting force and 5.6 million acres of land—is hotly contested since no incumbent is on the ballot. Commissioner Peter Goldmark will not seek reelection to the quietly influential office. As the head of the state’s Department of Natural Resources, the commissioner is responsible for healthy public aquatic lands, forests, parks and more. The department leases land to provide critical school construction money, and its firefighting efforts are a key line of defense against destructive summertime wildfires, too. The department has a big influence on fishing, timber and agriculture—three classic Washington industries threatened by drought, wildfires and ocean acidification that could be worsened by climate change. So far, Democrats make up the bulk of the hopefuls to replace Goldmark. Walter Orenstein reports. (Cascadia Weekly)

Upthegrove jumps into Land Commissioner race as “environmental champion” – Seattle PI

I am thrilled to see Dave Upthegrove decide to run for Land Commissioner to replace retiring Peter Goldmark. Dave is a known environmental supporter with a deep record of being there and doing the right thing.  His stated challenger, Karen Porterfield is not known to me, but I will try and do interviews with both of them on KPTZ radio sometime in the next month or so.
King County Council member Dave Upthegrove has jumped into the race for State Land Commissioner less than a week after incumbent and fellow Democrat Peter Goldmark opted not to seek a third term. Upthegrove is running as an out-and-out environmentalist for a post that oversees timber harvest in 2.1 million acres of state-owned forests, as well as commercial management of state aquatic lands. Specifically, he is aligning with opponents of the big proposed Gateway Pacific coal export terminal at Cherry Point north of Bellingham. Joel Connelly reports. (SeattlePI.Com)

State Senator James Hargrove to Retire

News broke yesterday that Senator James Hargrove of the 24th Distict (he’s from Hoquiam, but also serves the North Olympic Peninsula) is retiring after 30 years of service. He has represented a very diverse set constituents , from the radically progressive town of Port Townsend, to the very conservative areas of the coast that usually vote Republican in this day and age.  He has been what most would consider a very conservative Democrat, not without good reason, given that so many of his voters have been raised in or worked for natural resource extraction, whether timber or fishing.

As we know, these worlds have been in free fall over the last forty years, for a wide range of reasons. The running low on the giant virgin timber that mills were built around coincided with opening of unlimited shipping of raw logs to Japan and elsewhere, this profited the big timber companies over the small ones, and led to massive overcutting of the forest, leading to environmental lawsuits to protect the few remaining stands that could house the disappearing virgin timber species like the Spotted Owl and the Marbled Murrelet.

I’ve met with Senator Hargrove a number of times while working on getting many varied environmental bills through our State government over the years. I also live in his district. He has always been respectful, and helped me understand what would work for his constituents and what wouldn’t. He did support numerous environmental bills and other proposals, while not supporting others that he thought were not going to fly on the Peninsula. While I may have disagreed with him, I always was respectful of his approach, which was very different than the other party’s willful neglect and unwillingness to do anything but fight in court. I also understood that Senator Hargrove’s deep Christian faith colored his approach as one would expect it to, and I respected that, urging others that were meeting with him to understand and accept it as they negotiated issues with him.

He is the kind of politician that is rapidly fading, the middle of the road person who is willing to be flexible. Special interest groups are expected to have hard positions, both on the left and right, and that is fine with me. I’m continuing to look for and work with politicians who will work with us to forge a way forward, rather than become a roadblock, those who respect both our environment and our need to keep people employed. James Hargrove is one such politician, and will be missed. All the best to you Mr. Hargrove as you head into the next phase.

Carbon Tax Measure Will Make The Washington Ballot, Backers Say – Earthfix

With the carbon tax initiative now officially having reached it’s goal of signatures, one might be tempted to think that this is a great idea, right? It’s been promoted by a wide range of environmental activists, and you likely have seen them and probably even signed the initiative without much thought. I know I did. Well, the issue is far more complex.

While this initiative is sponsored by some well meaning people, it does not encompass the thinking of a coalition of environmental organizations and labor. Senator Keven Ranker, who has been trying unsuccessfully for many years to pass just such a tax, and is considered the most environmentally active legislator in Olympia, is not in favor of it. Why? Because trial polling has apparently shown that this wording is not very clear or convincing to voters, and it does nothing to build on jobs in exchange for carbon reductions. Ranker is very worried that putting forward a badly worded initiative such as this, with no real jobs component, will rankle both the Republican climate deniers and labor. That would be a death knell for the initiative, he claims. He also mentioned, in a wide ranging talk with Ashley Ahearn at the Annual Northwest Straits Conference in November (audio available here: (starts at 22:27) that the possible outcomes is that the initiative will now go to the legislature, and they could rewrite it, and end up with two competing versions on the ballot, and if the Alliance initiative gets on the ballot, it could even mean three!  (this would be very bad for it’s passing, and is likely to happen given the Republican desire to kill it).

The competing initiative has been carefully thought out by a large coalition of environmental groups such as WEC, and Sierra Club, representative organizations from communities of color, the Tribes, Unions such as the AFL-CIO and SEIU, and even members of retired people’s organizations.  (in full disclosure, I am a member of WEC). If both, or all, of these go forward, the confusion may lead to all of them failing, and in Rankers’ mind, will set back the carbon tax possibility for many years to come. The Alliance initiative contains provisions to reinvest the collected carbon tax into local jobs . As their web site says, “The funds will be invested in accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and addressing the impacts of carbon pollution on our air, land and people.”  This seems to be a more useful approach that directly ties jobs to cleaning up the environment. It would be much harder for the Republican opposition to effectively attack.

There seems to be some thoughts, that the two initiative teams could and should pull their teams together and craft one workable solution, that both can push forward together and actually get passed. That would be the optimum situation, which would allow the Tax and Refund initiative to get the support of the large alliance of the Tax and Reinvest initiative. If this merger does not happen, it will be mean a loss of a huge amount of turn-out-the-vote workers, that these alliance organizations have at their disposal. Those forces will be getting people to vote on the competing initiative and could lead to both failing as the voters may be confused enough to turn both down.

If you have been involved in getting signatures for the tax and refund initiative you might consider calling the initiative office and telling them you support an merged version that gets the Alliance folks onboard too.

For a more detailed read on the battle over these initiatives, you can read:

A voter initiative that would put a tax on carbon emissions has gathered enough signatures to put it on the ballot in 2016. The measure would impose a tax of $25 for every ton of carbon emitted when fossil fuels are burned. Backers of the measure say that will increase some consumer prices, like what people pay for gasoline. The measure also calls for carbon tax’s revenue to be used to lower the state sales tax, effectively eliminate the B&O tax on manufacturers and to provide rebates to lower income households. Carbon Washington, the group behind the carbon tax, says it has gathered more than 330,000 signatures from Washington voters. If validated, the initiative will go to the state legislature in January. The legislature could adopt the initiative as is, or it will go to the voters in 2016. Ashley Ahearn reports. (EarthFix)

Senate blocks legislation to undercut EPA clean water rules – AP

Another reason to support Democrats in your local and national elections. The Republicans continue to push to remove all environmental restrictions on our waters, as the Conservatives under Harper in Canada did in the last dozen years there. With the general population supporting environmental laws in the abstract, they continue to vote for people who don’t in the real world.

Democrats have blocked a Senate bill that would have forced the Obama administration to withdraw new federal rules to protect smaller streams, tributaries and wetlands from development and pollution. Supporters of the legislation — and opponents of the rules — did not get the 60 votes needed Tuesday to stop debate and consider the bill. The vote was 57-41, meaning Democrats have blocked the bill, for now. Most Democrats argue that the Obama administration rules will safeguard drinking water for 117 million Americans and say they should remain in place. The White House threatened a veto of the bill, saying the regulations are “essential to ensure clean water for future generations.” Mary Clare Jalonick reports. (Associated Press)

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