April 11, 2016
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Sen. Ericksen blasts taxpayer-funded billboards that suggest farms are polluting waterways

Billboards and bus ads by a Washington tribe and an environmental group that call for stricter rules on farmers were paid for with $570,000 in taxpayer money from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), The Capitol Press reports. After being notified of the political activism, the EPA said it was a mistake that violated federal rules because the grant recipients didn’t credit the agency’s financial support.

Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, chairman of the Senate Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, was not satisfied with that explanation, saying the advertising campaign amounts to political lobbying that shouldn’t be paid for with public money.

The billboards and bus ads say “Unregulated agriculture is putting our waterways and risk,” and directs viewers to a website calling for specific new rules on farmers and ranchers, including mandatory 100-foot buffers between farm fields and waterways.

“The idea that the federal government would pay a half-million dollars to create a phony grass-roots campaign to lobby state government ought to appall anyone who pays taxes,” Ericksen said. “Meaning all of us.”

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Let's Seek Solutions Together

It's time to move forward on charter schools

By Robin Lake, director of the Center on Reinventing Public Education and an affiliate faculty member at the University of Washington Bothell

Charter schools aren't some magic solution. But they are proving themselves a valued component of 21st-century public schooling by demonstrating what's possible when schools are freed from certain rules and regulations in exchange for being held accountable for student outcomes. Far from a distraction, charter schools are here to stay. Far from damaging public education, when ably implemented, charter schools enrich and strengthen the fabric of public education.

It is time to move on and focus on students, not battle lines...
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Seattle Times
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A job in the trades can bring financial, personal success

By Mike Sotelo, co-founder of the Combined Ethnic Chamber

A four-year apprenticeship program can equal or exceed the earning potential of a postsecondary degree. An apprentice electrician earns $19 an hour, which can be achieved the first year out of high school. By the time an electrician completes a five-year apprenticeship program, he or she could be making close to $100,000 a year.

Unfortunately, every time trade employers need workers, they scratch their heads and do whatever they can to attract and retain employees to fit their business models. Contractors are hiring anyone who can fog a mirror because there aren't enough bodies...

Shop classes are disappearing because schools are losing funding. The deeper challenge is we need to start instilling pride into the traditional trades. Even when I was young, I used to say, "I am just a construction worker." I almost apologized for it. We have to start recognizing that our society would grind to a halt without skilled carpenters, laborers, chefs and hotel managers...
Click here to read the full op-ed in The Seattle Times
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