Callaghan: Patience needed for lawmakers, pot sales and Mariners

March 30, 2014 

The Washington legislative session is over, the governor is passing judgment on its work — or lack thereof — and we still can’t buy recreational marijuana. Sorting out all this is exactly why the Answer Man was created.

Question: I keep reading that Gov. Jay Inslee is busy signing bills passed by the 2014 Legislature. Didn’t you tell us they didn’t do anything?

Answer: The House and Senate agreed on the passage of 237 bills, and someone loves each and every one of them. I mean who doesn’t get excited about an act “relating to correcting the expiration date of a definition of firefighter?” What I did say was that the Legislature punted on some of the biggest issues before it.

Q: But lawmakers finished on time didn’t they?

A: We’ve now reached a point of such low expectations that ending a session on time is an end in itself. It might have been worth them hanging around a few more weeks if they could have finished some key issues — a transportation plan, a construction budget, a meaningful means of regulating medical marijuana, and repairs to the teacher and principal evaluation system.

Q: My kids’ teachers say there’s too much testing already so why would the state want to include test results in their evaluations?

A: The state would want to do that so the federal government doesn’t sanction it for failing to meet yearly academic progress under the failed No Child Left Behind law. Without a waiver from that law, Washington would have to redirect $44 million used to help the poorest students. Besides, test results will be used anyway. The change would have just required that statewide test results be among them. But you’re right, testing students wasn’t done in public schools before the reform movement began in the 1990s.

Q: Is this one of those times when you are being sarcastic?

A: You pass the test. Testing students – even so-called high-stakes testing – is as old as education itself. The difference is that rather than just using tests to hold students accountable, the changes seek to hold the adults in the system accountable as well.

Q: That’ll never work. Hey, when will Washingtonians finally be able to buy recreational marijuana? I’m asking for a friend.

A: Sometime in June. Or not. It kind of keeps moving around. Your friend will just have to be patient.

Q: Why is it taking so long?

A: All the state has to do is create from scratch a system to license and regulate the growing, production and sale of marijuana and do it in a way that doesn’t cause the entire federal government to invade the state like it’s Crimea.

Q: There you go again, apologizing for government. I guess I – my friend, I mean – can wait a while longer. In the meantime, I’m so excited about the baseball season starting this week. It looks like the Mariners invested some money and are sure to get back into the playoffs, right?

A: Let’s see, how can I break this to you gently?

Q: Come on, they signed All-Star Robinson Cano for an amount equal to the gross domestic product of Greece. And they still have King Felix who is the best starter in the American League. How can they go wrong?

A: The Mariners are the American League champions at finding ways to go wrong. Felix can pitch only every fifth game, and Cano can hit only every ninth batter. So many players are suffering injuries that they would have been better off signing Virginia Mason. The Cano signing distracted you from the fact that the front office didn’t do much with the rest of what is and has been a pretty mediocre team.

Q: Sports fan are easily distracted. When does Seahawks camp start?

A: Not soon enough.

Q: You have managed to be even more depressing than normal.

A: Don’t worry. June is just two months away.

Peter Callaghan: 253-597-8657

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