Seattle Press
Community Log & News Digest
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Agreement among the States to Elect the President by National Popular Vote
February 13, 2020 — Republished from nationalpopularvote.com. The National Popular Vote bill will guarantee the Presidency to the candidate who receives the most popular votes in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Since 2006, the National Popular Vote bill has been enacted by 15 states and the District of Columbia (together possessing 196 electoral votes), including 4 small states (DE, HI, RI, VT), 8 medium-sized states (CO, CT, MD, MA, NJ, NM, OR, WA), and 3 big states (CA, IL, NY).

The bill will take effect when enacted by states with 74 more electoral votes (for a total of 270).

The bill has passed at least one legislative chamber in 9 additional states with 88 electoral votes (AR, AZ, ME, MI, MN, NC, NV, OK, VA), including the Republican-controlled Arizona House and Oklahoma Senate. 3,471 state legislators have endorsed it.

The U.S. Constitution (Article II) gives states exclusive control over awarding their electoral votes:

“Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a
Number of Electors....”

The shortcomings of the current system stem from state “winner-take-all” laws that award all of a state’s electoral votes to the candidate receiving the most popular votes in each state.

The winner-take-all method of awarding electoral votes is not in the U.S. Constitution. It was not debated at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. It was not mentioned in the Federalist Papers. It was used by only three states in the first presidential election in 1789 (and all three repealed it by 1800).

Because of these state winner-take-all laws, presidential candidates ignore states where they are safely ahead or hopelessly behind. In 2012, all of the general-election campaign events (and virtually all campaign expenditures) were concentrated in the 12 states where Romney’s support was between 45% and 51%. Two-thirds of the events were in four states (OH, FL, VA, IA). Thirty-eight states were ignored, including 12 of the 13 smallest states and almost all rural, agricultural, Southern, Western, and Northeastern states. Similarly, in 2016, virtually all campaign events (94%) were in the 12 states where Trump’s support was between 43% and 51%. Two-thirds of the events (273 of 399) were in just 6 states (OH, FL, VA, NC, PA, MI). A similar pattern prevailed in 2000, 2004, 2008, and is expected in 2020.

State winner-take-all laws have enabled 5 of our 45 Presidents to come into office without winning the most popular votes nationwide. The national popular vote winner also would have been defeated by a shift of 59,393 popular votes in Ohio in 2004 (despite President Bush’s nationwide lead of 3 million votes); 9,246 votes in 1976; 77,726 in 1968; 9,212 in 1960; 20,360 in 1948; and 1,711 votes in 1916.

The National Popular Vote interstate compact will go into effect when enacted by states with a majority of the presidential electors—that is, 270 of 538. After the compact comes into effect, every voter in all 50 states and DC will acquire a direct vote in the choice of all of the presidential electors from all of the states that enacted the compact. The presidential candidate supported by the most voters in all 50 states and DC will thereby win a majority of the presidential electors in the Electoral College (at least 270), and therefore become President.

Under the current state-by-state winner-take-all system, the individual voter influences only the choice of the limited number of presidential electors from their own state. Under National Popular Vote, every voter in all 50 states and DC will have a direct vote in choosing 270 (or more) presidential electors.

The National Popular Vote compact would make every person’s vote equal throughout the U.S. It would ensure that every vote, in every state, will matter in every presidential election.

The National Popular Vote compact is a state-based approach that retains the power of the states to control how the President is elected, retains state control of elections, and retains the Electoral College. For additional information, see our book Every Vote Equal: A State-Based Plan for Electing the President by National Popular Vote are downloadable for free here>. Answers to 131 myths are here.

Weekly unemployment insurance claims up 843 percent
OLYMPIA – During the week of March 15-21, 133,464 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD) which was an increase of 119,310 new claims over the previous week.

Tremendous increase in new unemployment claims due to COVID-19 related layoffs

“This data shows the enormity of the situation unfolding in our state,” said Employment Security Department Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “The velocity and volume of the impact of COVID-19 has created a crisis that is unprecedented in the history of the program – going back to the 1930s when it was established. To address this, I have an amazing team working hard on three very clear priorities: get benefits out more quickly to those who are eligible, expand eligibility for those who can utilize this benefit, and help employers find staff for essential jobs. The entire department is doing everything we can to meet the needs of this situation and our fellow Washingtonians.”

Weekly data breakdown
By industry
Industry sectors experiencing the highest percentage of new claims during March 15-21 were:
Accommodation and food services: 41,309 new claims, up 1,033 percent from the previous week
Health care and social assistance: 18,902 new claims, up 2,103 percent from the previous week
Other services: 9,626 new claims, up 2,871 percent from the previous week
Retail trade: 8,700 new claims, up 1,189 percent from the previous week
Manufacturing: 5,276 new claims, up 434 percent from the previous week

By county

Demonstrating the COVID-19 wave washing across the state, Spokane County experienced the highest increase, 455 to 8,766 up 1,826 percent from the week before. King County, the most populous in the state and one that had already started to see a precipitous rise in claims the prior week, saw new claims increase from 5,834 to 37,296 during the week of March 15-21, up 539 percent from the week before.

All other counties experienced a spike in new claims, with some of the highest during the same period in:

Pierce County: New claims filed increased from 1,559 to 14,730 up 845 percent from the week before.
Snohomish County: New claims filed increased from 1,386 to 13,692 up 888 percent from the week before.

For complete information of weekly new claims by industry sector and county for the year to date, check the weekly unemployment initial claims charts compiled by ESD’s Labor Market & Economic Analysis division. For more information about specific counties, contact one of ESD’s regional local economists.

NOTE: ESD will send out the next weekly new claims press release on Thursday, April 2 at 10:00a.m. Pacific Time.
US Federal Tax Filing and Payment Deadline Extended to July 15, 2020
March 21, 2020—The Treasury Department and the Internal Revenue Service are providing special tax filing and payment relief to individuals and businesses in response to the COVID-19 Outbreak. The filing deadline for tax returns has been extended from April 15 to July 15, 2020. The IRS urges taxpayers who are owed a refund to file as quickly as possible. For those who can't file by the July 15, 2020 deadline, the IRS reminds individual taxpayers that everyone is eligible to request an extension to file their return.

This filing and payment relief includes:
  • The 2019 income tax filing and payment deadlines for all taxpayers who file and pay their Federal income taxes on April 15, 2020, are automatically extended until July 15, 2020. This relief applies to all individual returns, trusts, and corporations. This relief is automatic, taxpayers do not need to file any additional forms or call the IRS to qualify.
  • This relief also includes estimated tax payments for tax year 2020 that are due on April 15, 2020.

Penalties and interest will begin to accrue on any remaining unpaid balances as of July 16, 2020. You will automatically avoid interest and penalties on the taxes paid by July 15.

Individual taxpayers who need additional time to file beyond the July 15 deadline can request a filing extension by filing Form 4868 through their tax professional, tax software or using the Free File link on IRS.gov. Businesses who need additional time must file Form 7004.

State tax returns
This relief only applies to federal income returns and tax (including tax on self-employment income) payments otherwise due April 15, 2020, not state tax payments or deposits or payments of any other type of federal tax. Taxpayers also will need to file income tax returns in 42 states plus the District of Columbia. State filing and payment deadlines vary and are not always the same as the federal filing deadline. The IRS urges taxpayers to check with their state tax agencies for those details. More information is available at https://www.taxadmin.org/state-tax-agencies.

Source: https://www.tiaa.org/public/tax-questions-and-tax-information
Governor amplifies state response to COVID-19
As every state across the country faces the spread of COVID-19, I wanted to give you an update on what we're doing in Washington state:

  • The first priority has been to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities -- that means millions of Washingtonians are staying home to save lives.
  • WA has dramatically increased testing, and our insurance commissioner directed insurers to waive deductibles and copays. The state will also be covering the costs of tests for those without health insurance.
  • WA is enacting a statewide moratorium on evictions, and public utilities will be suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees.


This is a challenge unlike anything we've faced before. Yet like so many challenges our state and our country have faced, the solution is in our own hands. And if we have each other's backs, we will persevere.

We're coming together to support each other and to make our state safer and healthier. Our first priority has been to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 in our communities -- that means millions of Washingtonians are staying home to save lives.

Using local health departments, universities, and private labs, we've dramatically increased testing, and our insurance commissioner directed insurers to waive deductibles and copays. The state will also be covering the costs of tests for those without health insurance.

Additionally, I recently announced unprecedented steps to give economic relief to Washingtonians -- because nobody should lose their home because they can't pay rent during this crisis. We're enacting a statewide moratorium on evictions, and public utilities will be suspending shut-offs and waiving late fees.

Washington has in place nation-leading policies like paid family and medical leave and mandated paid sick days. We're using every part of our safety net to support families right now, including continuing to provide daily meals to out-of-school kids who need them.

Our response to COVID-19 must not just be about stopping the spread of the virus and caring for the sick -- it must also be about caring for our vulnerable neighbors and citizens whose livelihoods are impacted by this crisis.

This crisis is far from over. This challenge is unlike anything we've experienced before, but together, we'll meet this challenge with the seriousness and compassion it deserves.

You can see more here of what we're doing in Washington to respond to COVID-19 -- take care, and be safe.

More information about WA response to C-19

New unemployment claims up 116 percent March 8-14
OLYMPIA – During the week of March 8-14, 2020 14,154 new claims for unemployment benefits were filed with the Employment Security Department (ESD) which was an increase of 7,606 new claims over the previous week. In King County the number of new initial claims filed increased from 1,837 to 5,834 over the same period.

New unemployment insurance claims are just beginning to rise due to COVID-19 related layoffs

In Washington state, the highest percentage of new claims filed during March 8-14 (week 10 per chart below) over the previous week occurred in the accommodation and food services sector, up 597.3 percent; educational services, up 569.5 percent; arts, entertainment and recreation, up 255.8 percent; and real estate, rental and leasing, up 147.5 percent. Individuals 34 years of age and younger represented the largest group of workers filing new claims.

“A dramatically larger number of employers are announcing coronavirus-related layoffs or are utilizing SharedWork, so we anticipate substantially higher numbers of new claims in the report that will come out on March 26,” said ESD Commissioner, Suzi LeVine. “Already this week, we have seen the daily rate of new claims coming in at levels that are similar to the highest weeks of the 2008-2009 recession. Our agency is working in close coordination with the Governor’s office as well as other state and federal agencies to ensure we do everything we can to address this crisis and find every support possible for Washington’s families and economy. Our priorities are to get benefits out more quickly to those who are eligible, help more people become eligible for benefits and help those employers who are hiring get the staff they need right now.”

Gov. Jay Inslee also announced a number of measures on Wednesday to provide relief for businesses, workers and renters.
Etiquette for Trump Rallies and 2020 GOP Convention
On arrival, pack and store medical accoutrements such as gloves and facemasks, as these may cause undue anxiety among TV viewers of the event.

When greeting other participants, shake hands vigorously and depending on your relationship embrace or kiss them. Wrapping a hand and arm around a colleague's shoulders will convey a sense of solidarity.

Wash hands before and after the event.

If questioned by the press, convey sincerely that you perceive no health emergency.
The most important thing you can do in this difficult time is to make Pres. Trump look and feel good. Have confidence that many Republicans will survive, and isn't that what really matters?
SP Opens Neighborhood Correspondent Program
Here's how it works. You become a member of the website; just click Join near the top of any page. You will need to fill out a form and respond to a message from the system. This will allow you to sign in and post updates to your personal profile. Of course, if you're already a member, you can skip this step.

Now send a message from the contact form linked at the bottom of every page to the editor. Ask to be made a correspondent. Include the new user ID you just created and the name of your neighborhood.

We will contact you to discuss specific requirements. Following that conversation, assuming we're in agreement, we will schedule an online training session of about one hour, after which we will flip the switch to make you a correspondent.

You will be able to add articles to the News along with related links and images. Preface each article with the name of your neighborhood. Articles will be reviewed prior to publication for style and content by the editors and then activated or returned for changes. Once approved, articles will be activated. Based on demand and volume, a news category may be established for your neighborhood.

More information

Unemployment rate drops again, falls to record low
OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy gained 6,800 jobs in January and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for January fell to 3.9 percent according to the Employment Security Department.

“Strong hiring of household members moved the state’s low unemployment rate even lower” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “A mild contraction in the state’s labor force added to the downward push.”

The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that December’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.3 was confirmed. December’s preliminary estimated gain of 10,900 jobs was revised to a gain of 12,300 jobs.

The national unemployment rate (preliminary) was 3.6 percent in January 2020. In January 2019, the national unemployment rate (revised) was 4.0 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 77,784 people in January.

Labor force contracts slightly in January

The state’s labor force in January was 3,955,200 – a decrease of 1,600 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force decreased by 5,100 over the same period.

From January 2019 through January 2020, the state’s labor force grew by 119,400 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 42,200.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Nine industry sectors expanded and four contracted

Private sector employment increased by 5,700 while the public sector increased by 1,100 jobs in January. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in retail trade up 3,300 jobs, leisure and hospitality up 2,300 jobs, professional & business services up 1,900 jobs and information up 1,200 jobs. Also posting increases were manufacturing up 800 jobs, transportation, warehousing & utilities up 400 jobs and both mining & logging and education & health services up 100 jobs. The four industry sectors that posted losses were construction down 3,500 jobs, other services down 600 jobs, wholesale trade down 200 jobs and financial activities down 100 jobs.

Year-over-year growth in payroll employment occurs for most industries

Washington added an estimated 79,400 new jobs from January 2019 through January 2020, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.6 percent, up an estimated 74,000 jobs, while public sector employment rose 0.9 percent with a net gain of 5,400 jobs.

From January 2019 through January 2020, twelve out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while one sector contracted.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Professional & business services with 14,000 new jobs
Education & health services with 12,200 new jobs
Leisure & hospitality with 11,700 new jobs
Dr. Tr*mp and the warm weather cure
Our self-anointed physician-in-chief has now applied his very good brain to the current global epidemic known as coronavirus, announcing among other things that once spring comes and temperatures rise everything will be juuust fine.

This will be good news in Singapore where most of my immediate family lives. Daytime high temperatures there average 93°F, plunging into the high 80s at night.

One might therefore wonder how sunny Singapore has incurred an infection rate 107 times that of the US and by what miraculous circumstance US median springtime temperatures in the 60s and 70s are going to solve this problem.

Note to trumpeteers: The fools in this scenario are not Tr*mp and his handlers, apologists or toadies; they are instead those continue to believe this man who couples ignorance with incompetence to produce bad judgment more effectively than anyone since Pharaoh detained the Hebrews.
It's all Obama's Fault
I await anxiously the FOX News report — based on a shocking exposé by Rush Limbaugh — of how Barack Obama Sr. conceived the creation of the coronavirus way back in 1956 when he was a student in Kenya and later, with the connivance of his wife the junior anthropology professor and his US in-laws the furniture salesman and the branch bank manager and funded by the global Communist menace, conspired posthumously to maneuver his son Barack Jr. into the US presidency, wherein he was able during brief breaks in meetings with Chinese President Xi to arrange for the laboratory formulation of the new virus. Truly diabolical!
Is your device safe from ad-hackers?
Cybersecurity researchers discovered malware earlier this year that was draining people’s Android smartphones and ballooning their data bills by secretly racking up video play requests. The dicovery cast a spotlight on a big and growing problem for the mobile ad industry: sophisticated invalid traffic, or SIVT.

Digital ad fraud costs consumers, advertisers, and publishers billions of dollars per year. One estimate suggests that digital ad fraud will cost advertisers $44 billion globally in 2022, more than double the $19 billion estimated for 2018.

The problem is described more fully in the article linked below.

Read more...

Washington caucuses: Same problems as Iowa?
In The Guardian of Sat 8 Feb 2020, Karine Jean-Pierre writes "The real outrage about Iowa? The Democratic party silencing black voters.

"If Democrats want to dismantle white supremacy, they can start right now by dismantling a caucus system that ignores black voters

The results from Iowa are in: there are no results.

On Thursday, three days after the caucuses began on Monday, the Associated Press announced that due to irregularities and how close the race is, it would be unable to declare a winner.

Confusion and a lack of information are the story coming out of Iowa right now. But there’s another story worth telling: that, no matter who wins, the results won’t be representative of the Democratic race for president writ large. And that’s because the Democratic nomination process, by starting in Iowa and New Hampshire, systematically drowns out the voices and power of black voters.

‘Right now, there’s a spotlight shining on Iowa. I hope we use it to illuminate the real injustice of the caucuses.’

It may behoove the Democratic Party of Washington State to be sure its own house is in order.

Read the Jean-Pierre article

Shifting Seattle to public transportation
Some advocacy group has been posting photographs supposedly of alternative modes of transportation in the Seattle. Note to the noncognoscenti: these photographs show the only level street in all of downtown Seattle, specifically on Second Avenue.

Any other route—for example any street crossing Second Avenue itself and continuing more than a block or so—requires climbing hills at 45° angles. It is a popular fantasy of the sandals and ponytail set that cars can be completely replaced by other means of transportation. The reality is that residents of the urban area travel not in straight lines as shown but in thousands of sporadic and random trips among millions of random destination. Most of those trips originate and end outside the municipality of Seattle in other municipalities whose local governments' propensity for competition exceeds their desire for cooperation.

By far the greater problem is the storage of all the needed vehicles between trips; paradoxically, Seattle is allowing high-density construction without parking, which adds to the backup in congested areas. Walking or cycling on the few level streets in the metropolitan area may be a healthful alternative for twentysomethings, but it is surely inappropriate for taking children to after-school activities or elderly residents to appointments or shopping.

Greater Seattle and surrounding counties are in the process of building a fixed-rail transit system, whose origins and destinations in addition to downtown Seattle include several suburban shopping malls, many of which are in decline under pressure from online purchase and delivery systems. That system, like many in older eastern cities, maybe come maladapted to future residential working patterns.

Happily a better solution is on the horizon in the form of autonomous vehicles that are not owned by their occupants but instead respond to short-term demand for travel between random origins and destinations without regard for arbitrary starting and ending times such as the eight-hour workday. In the interim, buses are the alternative that offers both predictable routing and flexibility. The challenge is not technological but social, as buses hardly confer high social status on their riders.

Sadly, the political battle is the most intractable part of this problem. The overwhelming disparity of the funds available to the automobile and gasoline lobbies compared to the alternative approaches makes it unlikely that rationality will prevail.
Good-Bye Electoral College? Popular Vote Movement Gaining Steam
It’s not just Democrats that see the virtue in reforming presidential elections

by Steven Rosenfeld

The main attraction of a national popular vote system is that it would change the way that presidential campaigns are conducted—moving them onto more of a national stage—and emphasize that every vote counted, no matter where it was cast. (Photo: AP)
The main attraction of a national popular vote system is that it would change the way that presidential campaigns are conducted—moving them onto more of a national stage—and emphasize that every vote counted, no matter where it was cast. (Photo: AP)
There’s new momentum around the National Popular Vote movement, where states will award Electoral College votes to elect the president based on which candidate has won the most votes nationwide—instead of today’s state-by-state winner-take-all system.

“It does have new momentum, because there was a [recent] period starting with the second Obama election when Democrats bought into this blue-wall theory” that their political party had a lock on the White House, said John Koza, a former Stanford University scientist who co-founded the National Popular Vote project in 2006.

The reform is based on states joining an interstate compact, a legally binding vehicle where states make agreements among themselves despite a national federal government. In this case, states, which the U.S. Constitution empowers to oversee its Electoral College process, agree to award their presidential votes to the national popular vote winner. As of early 2019, the project was two-thirds of the way toward reaching the threshold needed for a 270-vote Electoral College majority, but more states are poised to join.

Continues...

Payroll hiring bounces back in November
OLYMPIA – Washington’s economy gained 12,200 jobs in November and the state’s seasonally adjusted monthly unemployment rate for November fell slightly to 4.4 percent according to the Employment Security Department.

“The November data are an encouraging sign that the state’s labor market is still doing well” said Paul Turek, economist for the department. “The previous two months had raised concerns about the continued strength of the job market, so it’s good to see it pick back up in time for the holidays.”

The Employment Security Department released the preliminary job estimates from the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as part of its Monthly Employment Report.

The department also announced that October’s previously reported unemployment rate of 4.5 was confirmed. October’s preliminary estimated loss of 1,600 jobs was revised to a loss of 800 jobs.

The national unemployment rate dipped slightly to 3.5 percent in November 2019. In November 2018, the national unemployment rate was 3.7 percent.

Employment Security paid unemployment insurance benefits to 52,750 people in November.

Job prospects keep attracting job seekers

The state’s labor force in November was 3,940,000 – an increase of 21,100 people from the previous month. In the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region, the labor force increased by 8,200 over the same period.

From November 2018 through November 2019, the state’s labor force grew by 116,200 and the Seattle/Bellevue/Everett region increased by 47,000.

The labor force is the total number of people, both employed and unemployed, over the age of 16.

Nine industry sectors expanded, three contracted and one remained unchanged

Private sector employment increased by 11,000 while the public sector increased by 1,200 jobs in November. This month’s report shows the largest private job growth occurred in education & health services up 3,600 jobs, leisure and hospitality up 2,700 jobs, construction and professional & business services both up 1,900 jobs, government up 1,200 job and wholesale trade up 1,000 jobs. Also posting increases were other services up 400 jobs, and mining & logging and manufacturing both up 100 jobs. The three industry sectors that posted losses were retail trade down 400 jobs, information down 200 jobs and transportation, warehousing & utilities down 100 jobs. Financial activities was the only industry sector that remained unchanged.

Year-over-year growth in payroll employment

Washington added an estimated 66,600 new jobs from November 2018 through November 2019, not seasonally adjusted. The private sector grew by 2.1 percent, up an estimated 59,100 jobs, while public sector employment rose 1.3 percent with a net gain of 7,500 jobs.

From November 2018 through November 2019, twelve out of the thirteen major industries added jobs while one sector contracted.

The three industry sectors with the largest employment gains year-over-year, not seasonally adjusted, were:

Information with 11,800 new jobs
Education & health services with 11,300 new jobs
Professional & business services with 9,800 new jobs
Labor market information
Check it out! ESD has new labor market information and tools, including interactive Tableau graphics to highlight popular information and data.