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Postman on Politics

Chief political reporter David Postman explores state, regional and national politics.

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May 22, 2008 1:24 PM

Former pol takes to the stage

Posted by David Postman

Former state Insurance Commissioner Deborah Senn has found an artistic outlet for whatever leftover frustration she has from losing - by a lot - her 2004 race against Attorney General Rob McKenna. She’s putting on a show. It’s a one-woman show titled, Until the Last Dog Dies.

In a year bursting with politics see the action from the inside! Come see the hilarious and poignant story of the successful effort of evil outside interests to capture and control Washington’s 2004 race for attorney general. Written and performed by former Insurance Commissioner and Democratic nominee for attorney general Deborah Senn. Not all ex-politicians are put out to pasture — come see it to believe it.

The performance is next week at the Capitol Hill Arts Center.

There certainly were some memorable moments in the campaign, including improper hits against Senn from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. I don't know if that is the stuff of great theater.
CHAC has an interview with Senn in which she talks about the “transition from elected official/politician to writer/ performer”.

Deborah Senn (DS): I know of an ex-insurance commissioner who was selling jet-skis in Hawaii, so by comparison I am pretty fortunate. Some have said politics is performance art, so the distance between art and politics may not be too far.

LiveWire: Tell us about your decision to create Until the Last Dog Dies.

DS: At a post-campaign party, my young staff decided that the campaign was so unbelievable, it should become a book or a movie. When I asked who would play the roles, my staff person said she, of course, would be portrayed by Julia Roberts. I said “and moi?” Oh, she gushed, Tyne Daley should portray you, Commissioner Senn. My self-image shattered (Tyne is brilliant but old and well developed), I decided to attempt to write a solo show about the campaign and portray myself.

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May 22, 2008 9:50 AM

Two pounds of pot too much for the governor

Posted by David Postman

Last year, nine years after Washington voters approved a medical marijuana law, the Legislature passed a bill designed to clarify, among other things, what exactly qualifies as the 60-day supply of pot patients are allowed to possess.

Senate Bill 6032 says:

The legislature intends to clarify the law on medical marijuana so that the lawful use of this substance is not impaired and medical practitioners are able to exercise their best professional judgment in the delivery of medical treatment, qualifying patients may fully participate in the medical use of marijuana, and designated providers may assist patients in the manner provided by this act without fear of state criminal prosecution.

The Legislature didn’t consider itself experts in the world of medical marijuana and didn’t come up with specifics on what is a defensible, two-month supply. Instead, lawmakers directed the state Department of Health to hold hearings, talk to experts, research medical literature, and come up with a regulation that as of July 1 of this year was supposed to give patients, doctors and law enforcement an answer.

The Department of Health did all that. And it recommended allowing proposed a rule that would allow more than two pounds of pot every two months. But as Times reporter Carol Ostrom wrote yesterday, Gov. Chris Gregoire and some cops didn’t like that. The governor told the Department of Health to go talk to more people, get more input, and reconsider the pound-a-month plan.

"I wouldn't say she was upset" by the amount, said Gregoire's spokesman, Pearse Edwards, but she believed input had been one-sided.

But if that’s the case, whose fault is it? No one in law enforcement or the medical community should have been surprised the Department of Health was trying to clear up one of the big gray areas of the medical marijuana law.

Officials with the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys and the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs testified on the bill last year. They certainly knew what was in the measure.

When the rule-making process began last year, there was a news release sent out and, as required by law, details were published in the state register. But the Department of Health did more to comply with the Legislature’s direction that experts be consulted and interested parties be given a chance to comment. An e-mail that was headlined, “Defining a 60-day supply of medical marijuana,” was sent Aug. 7, 2007. It went to a long list of organizations asking for help and soliciting comments via e-mail, the Department’s Web site, public workshops or by snail mail.

That e-mail went to:

The Washington State Medical Association, medical researchers at the University of Washington, the Washington Association of Prosecuting Attorneys, Washington Association of Police chiefs and Sheriffs, the Department of Social and Health Services, the ACLU, the State Medical Quality Assurance Commission, the Board of Pharmacy, the Board of Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons, Washington State Patrol, the state department of Community, Trade and Economic Development, Washington Fish and Wildlife, statewide court administrative offices, all Washington NORML offices, Green Cross, and the Washington State Association of Counties and Cities.

It seems outreach wasn’t the problem. I can only assume that two pounds of pot was more clarification than some folks could handle.

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May 22, 2008 9:22 AM

Slow move to reform at Valley Medical Center

Posted by David Postman

The citizen commission that runs the troubled Valley Medical Center is resisting change, says a reform candidate elected to the panel last fall. Anthony Hemstad, who defeated Commission President Carole Anderson, writes in a column in the Renton Reporter today:

It is concerning when the initial response to my 10-point reform program has included an attempt to move meetings to the one time I cannot attend (repealed after calls by the Attorney General’s office and the appearance of KING 5 TV crews to investigate this unprecedented move to disenfranchise an elected official) and the passage of Valley’s first ever “Code of Ethics” as the last act of the outgoing commission which, according to First Amendment advocates from the Institute for Justice, clearly blocked the freedom of speech of elected officials. Encouragingly that code is now being reviewed as well to ensure it follows the Constitution and state law. Still, it would be even more encouraging if the initial response was for openness and dialogue, not work on silencing inconvenient voices that challenge the status quo.

You can see that KING 5 report here. Robert Mak reports that when Hemstad suggested it was difficult for the public to attend commission meetings held Monday afternoons, the board voted to move them to Monday nights. That’s the one night of the week Hemstad, city manager of Maple Valley, can’t attend. And, Mak said, the other board members “knew full well he spends every Monday night with the Maple Valley City Council.”

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Recent entries

May 22, 08 - 01:24 PM
Former pol takes to the stage

May 22, 08 - 09:50 AM
Two pounds of pot too much for the governor

May 22, 08 - 09:22 AM
Slow move to reform at Valley Medical Center







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