REALLY, REALLY BIG SHOW: The Entertainment Explosion is offering a new twist on its annual fundraiser to help homeless kids in South Sound. This year’s event takes place Sunday at The Washington Center for the Performing Arts.
The group’s 10th show is called “A Really Big Shoe 10 Folk Fest,” and organizer Scott Schoengarth said it’s the first time a folk music theme will be attempted. The Brothers Four group has filmed a special video to welcome concertgoers. Performers onstage are all between the ages of 51 and 87.
Only a little over 400 tickets were sold as of last week, but Schoengarth said $21,000 worth of sponsorships had already been committed and ticket sales typically get hot in the final week.
Over nine years, the benefit shows have raised more than $212,000 for homeless students at Olympia, North Thurston, Tumwater, Shelton, Yelm, Tenino, Rainier and Rochester school districts. Schoengarth said state figures show 2,054 homeless kids attend school in those districts.
The money is spent to buy shoes, clothing, food, shelter for students — according to need — and to pay for items such as school supplies and haircuts. Money also goes to Community Youth Services.
This is a worthy cause. Tickets are available at The Washington Center box office or online at washingtoncenter.org.
Unable to attend? Consider making a direct donation via entertainmentexplosion.org.
CIVIL RIGHTS PREVAIL: A few moderate Republicans in the state Senate stood up for civil rights protections for transgender individuals last week. Religious conservatives had tried to whip up hysterical opposition to a bathroom rule that was the natural outgrowth of a 2006 state law that protected gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgender persons from discrimination.
The Human Rights Commission adopted the rule last November, clarifying what in many places was already common practice: letting transgender persons use bathrooms of their chosen identities.
Give credit to Republican Sens. Steve Litzow of Mercer Island, Joe Fain of Auburn and Andy Hill of Redmond for breaking ranks with their Senate Majority Coalition Caucus. They joined minority Democrats to vote down Senate Bill 6443. It failed on a vote of 24-25.
In South Sound, only Sen. Karen Fraser, D-Thurston County, stood up against this mean-spirited legislation. Three others — Sen. Tim Sheldon of Potlatch, Sen. Randi Becker of Eatonville, and Sen. John Braun of Centralia — gave in to unproven fears that this opens a door for male sex predators to start posing as transgender persons in order to enter a women’s locker room or restroom.
There are already laws in place to counter that sort of thing.
At its core, the new rule protects transgender individuals, especially those who have begun the process of transitioning to their new genders by taking hormone therapies but who might not have had genital surgery.
ARMORY GETS SHORT-LIVED SCARE: The Olympia Armory will be closed temporarily to the public. The Military Department is arranging for contractors to contain or remove lead that was recently detected in a basement room of the Washington National Guard facility.
Tests found higher than allowable levels of the toxic metal only in the single room. The “swipe” tests were part of a routine check done at all state Military Department facilities that once had indoor firing ranges, agency spokeswoman Karina Shagren said.
The closure caused an immediate inconvenience for athletes that use it daily for recreational sports and for community groups, including Patrons of South Sound Cultural Arts, which planned a garage and art sale in the armory’s large open area.
Long term, the Military Department plans to replace the armory. It has purchased land south of Tumwater to build a new regional readiness center and replace armories in Olympia and Puyallup with a space more conducive to modern training needs.
The Legislature provided $7.9 million last year for the state share of the 86,000-square-foot structure. The project awaits about $34 million in federal funds, which is anticipated in the 2017 budget. State lawmakers have specified that the Armory goes to the Boys & Girls Clubs of Thurston County once it’s vacated — potentially not until 2021.
Other surplussed armories around the state already have been sold. One in Tacoma is being refurbished as an arts and entertainment hall.
BIPARTISAN IDEA ON BIRTH CONTROL: A bipartisan bill requiring insurers to provide a year’s supply of birth control at once has passed the state House on a 91-6 vote. It mirrors a budget proviso from 2013 that requires one-year prescriptions — when requested — in the Medicaid program.
Unfortunately, an identical, bipartisan bill in the Senate sponsored by Democratic Sen. Steve Hobbs and Republican Sen. Ann Rivers didn’t even get a hearing.
House Bill 2465 is a reasonable proposal; the Republican-controlled Senate needs to make it a priority.