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Rushing to Judgment 

The mayor of Airway Heights resigns; plus, Washington's legislature fined $100,000 a day

click to enlarge Patrick Rushing resigned as mayor of Airway Heights. - YOUNG KWAK
  • Young Kwak
  • Patrick Rushing resigned as mayor of Airway Heights.

RUSHING'S RESIGNATION

Patrick Rushing, the embattled mayor of Airway Heights whose now-deleted Facebook page was riddled with racist, sexist and homophobic posts, submitted his RESIGNATION LETTER earlier this week.

"I find it difficult to continue due to my declining health issues," he wrote in a statement. The Airway Heights City Council voted 4-0 to accept his resignation effective Sept. 1.

Rushing's resignation came after news spread of his comments about President Barack and Michelle Obama: "Gorilla face Michelle... The woman is not attractive except to monkey man Barack. Check out them ears. LOL," he wrote on his personal Facebook page. Afterward, the Airway Heights City Council then voted 5-1 in favor of a resolution expressing "no confidence" in Rushing's leadership and limiting his responsibility and authority.

Still, Rushing was adamant that he would not resign until this week. In his statement, Rushing did not reference the controversial comments as a reason for his resignation, though he did issue an earlier apology. He did not respond to phone messages seeking comment.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Richey will fill in for Rushing until the city council finds a replacement. (MITCH RYALS)

ENVISION LABORS ON

Envision Spokane's Worker Bill of Rights campaign was handed a victory last week by a Superior Court judge who struck down an attempt by Mayor David Condon to keep the sweeping measure off the November ballot. However, Condon could still make a last-minute attempt to appeal the judge's decision.

The WORKER BILL OF RIGHTS is the fourth ballot initiative from Envision Spokane, now operating under an offshoot called "Envision Worker Rights," to qualify for the ballot. If it prevails, it would grant workers broad new rights and protections. However, the Condon administration argued in court that one of its provisions — seeking to subordinate corporate rights to the people's rights — was so legally flawed that the judge should keep the entire initiative off the ballot.

As of press time, the mayor hadn't appealed the ruling. With ballots set to be printed Sept. 3, he'll need to act quickly.

"We'll see how anxious the corporate boys are to pull Condon's strings on an [appeal] or not," says Kai Huschke, Envision campaign coordinator, by email. (JAKE THOMAS)

STILL NOT ENOUGH

There's no question that the Washington State Legislature pumped billions more into K-12 education this year, lowering class sizes, raising teacher salaries and funding all-day kindergarten. The increase alone was more than the legislature spends on higher education.

But that's still not good enough, the state Supreme Court ruled last week. So now it's attempting to fine the legislature $100,000 a day.

State Sen. Michael Baumgartner, a longtime critic of the court, sees the ruling as an example of "one co-equal branch of government getting out of its constitutionally defined lane, and ordering another branch of government what to do."

Funding basic education is the "paramount duty of the state," according to Washington state's constitution. And in a 2012 ruling known as the "McCLEARY" decision, the state Supreme Court found the state's education funding levels fell far short of that. The court demanded the legislature shape up and develop a plan to fully and uniformly fund basic education by 2018.

In January of last year, the court held the legislature in contempt for not meeting that standard. And this year, saying that despite major improvements, the state "still has offered no plan for achieving full constitutional compliance by the deadline." The court suggested Gov. Jay Inslee call yet another special session to correct that. Complicating matters, the state's Office of Financial Management says the legislature would have to be the one to vote to create a segregated account, in order to fine itself $100,000 a day.

To Baumgartner, that suggests that the fine is essentially theoretical, "like a school child ordering the spending of $100,000 of unicorn gold." (DANIEL WALTERS)

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