Peter Callaghan: State's special session in 140 characters (short and sweet for Boeing)

Staff writerNovember 12, 2013 

The latest special session of the Washington state Legislature was so short that the best way to cover it was in Twitter’s 140-character maximum posts from my account, @CallaghanPeter.

It started, at least for the public and most of the Legislature, with Gov. Jay Inslee’s press conference on Election Day. A pending contract between Boeing and the Machinists Union, plus a batch of sweeteners from the state, would assure that the newest version of the 777 and its advanced wing would be built in Puget Sound.

“Inslee says Leg will be asked to pass package of bills … transpo package, investment in education, permitting reform, tax incentives.”

The timing left many to wonder why the session had to be convened so quickly.

“Union doesn’t even vote until next week to have time to consider the details. Why does WA Legislature/public only get two days?”

The press conference was mostly a celebration, with legislative leaders and officials from both the company and union on hand.

“Inslee is even more-giddy than normal. Why not. He will not be the ‘governor who lost Boeing’ during 2016 election.”

But certain questions, and sources, were off limits.

“Boeing boss and Machinist leaders are in the room but Inslee won’t let newsies ask them questions. I guess they’re just arm candy.”

The next day when details of the contract were released by the union it became clear that the contract alone, if ratified, required Boeing to build the new version of the 777x and all future versions in Puget Sound. Inslee, however, insisted the bills were still necessary.

“Appears that Boeing inadvertently released the hostages too soon. Don’t worry, tho. Inslee/Leg is giving them back.”

“Even tho Boeing gave away its threat to leave, the tax break will pass. Y? R’s like biz tax cuts. D’s like the Machinists. Both fear Boeing.”

The session began Thursday with committee hearings on the Boeing bills.

“Had to look four sheets deep into the Hs Finance sign-in sheet to find someone who said they wanted to testify against Boeing HB 2089.”

“Not sure there’s a single member of comm or Leg who doesn’t know econ impact of Boeing & aerospace but that’s what most testimony is about.”

“Most galling thing about Hs Finance Comm hearing to extend Boeing tax breaks? Boeing doesn’t show up and Machinists speak for 30 secs.”

The rush to approve the bills was rattled by reports of a raucous Machinists union meeting Thursday night that ended with the president, Tom Wroblewski, dramatically tearing up a copy of the contract. Inslee was unfazed during a press conference.

“Gov. Inslee didn’t seem that riled up about the Machinist meltdown last night over the new contract with Boeing. But then, he’s an optimist.”

“We have something 49 governors and about 145 presidents around world lust after, Inslee says of Boeing and its jobs.”

Then came Saturday when the bills came up for final passage. Some Senate Republicans launched an unsuccessful effort to give all businesses the same treatment Boeing was demanding. Moses Lake Sen. Janéa Holmquist Newbry employed a well-known story in an odd way.

“Holmquist Newbry said she wanted the tax and permitting advantages offered to small biz as well as big. Said David shld get same as Goliath.”

“What’s good for Goliath shld be good for David, Holmquist Newbry says. I heard after David won, he gave himself preferential tax treatment.”

“Amendment fails. So I guess that means Goliath defeated David. So much for tradition.”

“I think the problem is that David doesn’t have a lobbyist.”

In the House, much of the opposition came from Republicans who complained about the haste and lack of public process. One emotional floor speech got Rep. Jason Overstreet of Bellingham in trouble.

“Rep. Overstreet says Leg should be ashamed of itself, refers to backroom deals. But gets gaveled down when he calls it a Kangaroo Court.”

“Overstreet’s lesson apparently is that you can insult House members and the institution, but you’d better not ever speak ill of kangaroos.”

Finally, the last vote was taken. But even before the session was over, the press releases began flowing to my inbox.

“Now comes Legislative Festivus – Feats of Strengthand dozens and dozens of press releases taking credit.”

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657

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