YAY: VOTER REGISTRATION DAY
The pool of voters grows when more people register. That makes National Voter Registration Day — celebrated Tuesday with registration drives in 50 states — important. Thurston County auditor Mary Hall says registration can be done online at vote.wa.gov, by going to the elections office at the Thurston County Courthouse, or by visiting six other sites around the county.
One early drive is tonight at 6:15-7:30 p.m. at The Evergreen State College’s red square. Tuesday drives are planned at the Lacey, Olympia, Tumwater and Yelm libraries; at Griffin schools; and at Saint Martin’s University’s student union building. Wednesday drives are at South Puget Sound Community College and the YWCA Other Bank. Call 360-786-5408 for details.
Tell unregistered friends to register and vote Nov. 3.
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BOO: NEW PENSION REPORT
Washington has one of the better funded public employee pension systems in the country but it’s not perfectly flush. A change in assumptions about workers’ longer life expectancies last year drove up unfunded pension liabilities, which forced lawmakers to kick in extra money.
Now an accounting change to reflect U.S. public pension norms has made Washington plans seem less amply funded — at just 87 percent of future liabilities. State Actuary Matt Smith says it’s mostly an accounting change that doubled the liability figure from $5 billion to $10 billion. Most liability is in old plans that had shortfalls.
The good news is that no extra cash is needed this time, Smith says.
YAY: WELCOME FALL RAIN
Everyone, it seems, is welcoming our soft September rains. After the unusually long, hot summer, one can almost see every bird, leaf and blade of grass welcoming the refreshment of a cool shower.
Trees are turning, pumpkins are ripening, kids are back in school, and so far, fall is just about perfect.
As we inhale the cleaner air on our state’s wet side, we shouldn’t forget that several wildfires are still burning in Eastern Washington as firefighters work to extinguish them.
YAY: EDC TRAINING GRANT
The Economic Development Council of Thurston County signed a contract last week to receive $980,000 in federal grants meant to help small-business owners become more successful. The money is through a Small Business Administration initiative that will be used by the EDC’s Scale Up Thurston program.
The goal is to help small firms — open for at least five years with fewer than 10 employees — to grow. This is done with coaching, mentoring, technical assistance and help with financing to expand.
YAY: IDEAS WORTH SPREADING
The Sept. 12 TEDx event at The Washington Center in Olympia was a grand success. Meg O’Leary led a team that produced an inspiring day of local speakers, performers and TED videos. All will be available online soon. TED is devoted to “ideas worth spreading.”
One presentation dealt with the staggering $250,000 cost for police calls and hospital visits because of society leaving a severely mentally ill homeless woman on the street.
Originally focused on technology, entertainment and design, TED has grown into a global opportunity. We hope it becomes an annual local event.