TOO MANY STATE TROOPERS QUITTING: Washington State Patrol staffers are leaving the agency, citing dissatisfaction with management and pay concerns. The agency has roughly 100 vacancies out of 671 positions in its field operations bureau, a number that has grown since 2009 despite recruiting efforts by patrol Chief John Batiste.
A recent survey found that 46 percent of 500 troopers and sergeants responding didn’t feel valued and over half said management did not take their opinions into account. Almost 20 percent said they plan to leave the agency within two years for jobs with other local-government police agencies, which often pay more.
The Legislature’s Joint Transportation Committee requested the survey to learn how the state might reverse a growing shortage of officers.
Two key lawmakers chairing transportation committees say increases in pay are likely needed. Gov. Jay Inslee proposed spending $465,000 to improve recruitment and retention, but without changes to pay.
This problem has long festered and the agency needs outside help to fix it.
MICROBEAD BAN FINALLY PASSES: Congress has passed and President Barack Obama signed a law banning plastic microbeads and their use in personal care products. These are tiny bits of plastic used in exfoliating soaps, cosmetics and toothpaste.
The microbeads are so small they pass through sewage treatment plants, pollute waterways and are ingested by fish and other aquatic creatures. The ban phases out the beads after 2017.
This bill represents a welcome outbreak of bipartisanship and concern for the environment.
BIG MONEY CRITICS DELIVER SIGNATURES: Critics of the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United filed about 330,000 voter signatures in support of Initiative 735 last week at the Office of the Secretary of State in Olympia.
I-735 asks Congress to begin the process for a constitutional amendment that would overturn the 2010 high court ruling. Citizens United opened the door to unlimited “dark” money spending by independent groups that do not have to report the source of their money.
A constitutional amendment is a long-shot strategy and rarely accomplished. In the case of I-735, it asks Congress to act, but would not be binding. That could render this a largely symbolic gesture, but the signature drive reflects a growing public frustration over the role of money in politics.
It was one of two initiatives campaigns that filed signatures at year’s end. The other measure, I-732, proposes a carbon fuels emissions tax.
FAREWELL TO ELDON MARSHALL: Former Olympia city Supervisor Eldon Marshall died Christmas Day at 91. He contributed heavily to our community’s well-being and was known as “Mr. Olympia City Hall.” Marshall served during an era of a three-member City Commission that feels distant from our time of large councils and advisory boards.
Marshall has been credited with helping steer many projects, including the Percival Landing boardwalk on the waterfront, the old City Hall on Plum Street, the Olympia-Timberland library and the Henderson Boulevard thoroughfare.
A memorial service is planned at 2 p.m. Tuesday at First United Methodist Church in Olympia.