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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Democratic State Senator Calls Democratic House Speaker Chopp a “Dictator.”

posted by on April 1 at 12:53 PM

On March 8, Senator Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island, Bellevue) passed his homebuyers’ rights bill 30-19 out of the Senate. (The bill would give homebuyers a warranty against shoddy construction.)

Weinstein believed he had his ducks in row to also pass the bill in the House. Last summer, he says, he met with powerhouse House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp (D-43, Seattle) at Chopp’s de facto office, the Tully’s on 45th in Wallingford. Chopp, Weinstein recalls, said the idea sounded good and handed Weinstein off to House legal staffer Barbara Baker to iron out the details. Weinstein reports that Baker was excited about the bill.

Weinstien also found a House member, Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia), who was excited about the legislation. Rep. Williams told Weinstein that faulty housing construction was a big issue in his district. Rep. Williams went on to champion the legislation on the House side.

However, earlier this week, after the House Judiciary Committee passed the bill onto the Rules Committee, Speaker Chopp tabled the bill. As The Olympian reported yesterday, Rep. Williams is pissed and threatened to resign.

Sen. Weinstein, who I talked to this morning, is also pissed. He told me flat out he now believes Rep. Chopp had a deal worked out with the BIAW (the builders lobby) to table the bill all along.

The BIAW doesn’t like the bill because they believe it will spike insurance rates for homebuilders because the bill will empower homeowners legally. Weinstein scoffs at the compliant: “Lawyers can get sued. Doctors can get sued. Anybody can get sued. Homebuilders are the only people in this state that can’t get sued. Aren’t they willing to stand by their work?”

Senator Weinstein, however, reserves his harshest words for House Speaker Chopp. Here’s what he just told me:

This is democracy at its worst. Here is one guy that overruled 30 Democratic Senators and the Democratic House Judiciary Committee. What’s the point of working hard on a bill? There’s no point in doing the fact finding, holding eight hours of hearings, of doing the right thing, if a dicatator can just pull the rug out from under you. I feel helpless.

Weinstein says Chopp doesn’t want to alienate the BIAW so the Democrats can keep their majority … “and” he added derisively, “not do anything with it.”

RSS icon Comments

1

Oh geez.

He doesn't stand the way you like on the Viaduct so now it's anti-Chopp.

Give it a break.

Posted by City Comforts | April 1, 2007 1:04 PM
2

Oh geez.

He doesn't stand the way you like on the Viaduct so now it's anti-Feit.

Give it a break.

Posted by Joshua H | April 1, 2007 1:39 PM
3

It's the mimic game!!

Posted by little girl | April 1, 2007 1:46 PM
4

Another indication Chopp has been in office too long. Time for fresh leadership with some ideas.

Posted by Frank | April 1, 2007 1:59 PM
5

I have a message for all you effete, elitist Seattle liberals who think you're so much smarter than Frank Chopp. You're a bunch of ingrates. If it weren't for Frank Chopp, you'd have a Republican house speaker trying to shove a new, elevated freeway down your throats. If it weren't for Frank Chopp, you'd have a Republican house speaker killing any chance of protecting homebuyers from shoddy construction.

And if any of you naive, little idealists in the 43rd District think that you can unseat Frank Chopp, you're delusional. Chopp has about as much chance of getting voted out of office as Vladimir Putin's handpicked successor has of losing Russia's next presidential election. I don't care if voters in the 43rd District agree with Chopp on only 10% of the issues and he faces a challenger who's 100% in sync with the same voters, the 43rd District will keep electing Frank Chopp again and again and again. Frank Chopp and the 43rd are a "'til death do us part" kinda marriage. You might say you want a divorce, you Capitol Hill bohemians, but you couldn't imagine life without Frank Chopp. In the words of another politician, "as long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

Anyway, I'm just thankful that we have some Democratic leadership in Olympia that's able to focus on the real issues that matter to the real people in this state. And there's no bigger issue for the real Washington than whether the Democrats keep control in Olympia.

Posted by cressona | April 1, 2007 2:06 PM
6

Cressona @ 5,

Effete, elitist, Seattle liberals??

Rep. Williams is from the Olympia-area.
Sen. Weinstein is from the suburbs.

And your hero, Frank Chopp? He was voted in by the "elitist" voters of the 43rd.

So, your point is... ???

Posted by Josh Feit | April 1, 2007 3:12 PM
7

5 -

I'm a real person. If I buy a home and two years after the purchase it starts crumbling as a result of shoddy construction, I should be able to take legal action against the builder.

Since when is consumer protection a cause for "effete, elitist Seattle liberals?" And if the only thing we can do with power is keep it, what's the point of fighting so hard to get it?

Posted by Jesse P | April 1, 2007 3:27 PM
8

Jesse P @7, I don't know where to start. You seem to be operating under this wild assumption that we send legislators to Olympia to pass legislation that makes a tangible difference for the better in our lives. Wow! Were you just born yesterday? Are you one of these transplants who just moved to Washington and don't understand the way things work around here?

It's times like these I'm reminded of an inspiring line from a famous political speech. "Ask yourself not what Frank Chopp can do for you. Ask yourself what you can do for Frank Chopp."

Josh Feit @6: Effete, elitist, Seattle liberals??

Rep. Williams is from the Olympia-area.

Sen. Weinstein is from the suburbs.

And let's just see how long these Williams and Weinstein neophytes last in their districts. Maybe you can get away with looking out for the economic interests of your constituents in an over-educated, leisured-class place like Seattle, but I can guarantee you these guys are in for a nasty backlash from their own constituents.

Posted by cressona | April 1, 2007 4:05 PM
9

Cressona @ 8,

And I repeat: Your hero, Rep. Frank Chopp was voted in by ... "over-educated, leisured-class" Seattle.

You're not making any sense, Cressona.

Posted by Josh Feit | April 1, 2007 4:11 PM
10

"Weinstein says Chopp doesnít want to alienate the BIAW"

i'm just some out-of -state effete liberal, but aren't there more homeowners than there are construction industry employees? what about the risk of alienating them?

Posted by ellarosa | April 1, 2007 4:16 PM
11

Also, it's amazing I have to remind people of this. But hello! -- we have a housing crisis in the state of Washington.

The American dream is to live in a sprawling single-family home (a home that, in previous generations, would have been called a mansion). Shoddy construction is just one of the techniques builders are currently able to use to make this God-given American birthright affordable to the average working Joe. Anyone who tries to prevent builders from keeping prices down through shoddy construction is trying to deny regular folks the American dream.

Posted by cressona | April 1, 2007 4:21 PM
12

What I don't understand is why Chopp would even want to help the BIAW. What did they do to help house Dems. If they had their way, he would be the last Dem in the house. On top of that, the Governor gave him a lot of rope on the viaduct and he returns the favor by help the same group that spent thousands to overturn her election.

Posted by StrangerDanger | April 1, 2007 4:26 PM
13

Josh Feit: And I repeat: Your hero, Rep. Frank Chopp was voted in by ... "over-educated, leisured-class" Seattle.

And you see, this is where Frank Chopp's relationship with Seattle is like a marriage. You might tell your chick-lit-reading friends you're going to leave him, but in the end, you know you can't. There's a masculine quality about Frank Chopp's raw power that feminine liberals simply cannot resist. (This is much the same reason that Hillary Clinton will be our next president.)

Posted by cressona | April 1, 2007 4:29 PM
14

I like how Feit is responding all of a sudden with this faux respectability. Rep. Chopp, Sen. Weinstein, Rep. Williams.

Everytime from now on it should be:
Oh Your Lordship, High One of Soothsaying, with Covenance of Unbounded Democracy, Our Reverent Spherical in Congression - Rep. and Messr. Chopp., please proceed.

Posted by rainier valley | April 1, 2007 4:53 PM
15

@5,

Hmmm. So let me get this right. "If it weren't for Frank Chopp, you'd have a Republican house speaker killing any chance of protecting homebuyers from shoddy construction." You're right. Instead we have a Democratic house speaker killing any chance of protecting homebuyers. I fail to see how that is an improvement. And comparing Chopp to a corrupt Russian president and/or his hand-picked successor isn't exactly a rousing endorsement either.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 1, 2007 5:38 PM
16

Umm. Okay, after reading through all cressona's comments, I'm beginning to smell an April Fools joke.

Still, this is a serious subject. There are a lot of sleazy builders out there. It goes like this: They form a new private corporation before starting on construction of a new condo building or suburban subdivision. They build as cheaply as possible to maximize profits. A few years later they get hit with a big lawsuit over their shite construction, and they fold up the corporation, having long since funneled off all the money to the individual corporate officers (who are protected from individual liability by the corporation). You can sue the now-defunct and broke corporate shell all you want, but there are no assets, so you won't get anywhere. Meanwhile, they've already formed a new corporate shell for the next subdivision/condo building.

So I'd say a bit more regulation and consumer protection would be a good thing. Frank Chopp is being an ass. A Democratic politician who is in the pocket of a big business lobby is no better than a Republican in the pocket of a big business lobby.

Posted by SDA in SEA | April 1, 2007 5:48 PM
17

As an over-educated, effete, elistist liberal, I'd like someone in office who can at least occassionally find his way to the correct side of an issue.

Posted by Sean | April 1, 2007 7:10 PM
18

The correct side of an issue? That's crap, and in a lot of ways it's a No-Win situation. We wanted to make this point on the Avian Flu post, but obviously more people care about Mudede's movie career over a subject of consideration.
He includes the reality/hysteria of these words-

..treaty commitments to help poor countries deal with warming....millions of dollars on ways to limit climate and coastal hazards...

It's a No-Win situation. The amount of people you rouse to help poor countries will not exceed the industrial destruction of climates, coastal regions, etc. Continue dreaming and believing you are on the correct side of an issue, and save some room for dessert.

Posted by james | April 1, 2007 7:27 PM
19

From the Seattle Times -

In 2001, Chopp held up approval of a new Tacoma Narrows Bridge because he opposed the plan to have a private company finance and build it. Instead, he wanted public financing, which he argued would be cheaper, and he stood up to Congressman Norm Dicks, legislative transportation leaders and others to get his way.

"I said you can't do the Narrows bridge unless you do public financing, which saved $1.2 billion,"

Posted by Sherwin | April 1, 2007 7:36 PM
20

Chopp must get a terribly sweet deal from his builder...did anyone check records of a donation in the form of a house?

Posted by StefanIsWrong | April 1, 2007 8:45 PM
21

Does anyone ever bother to check whether Weinstein is telling the truth? The fact is Weinstein's claim that "Homebuilders are the only people in this state that canít get sued," is a flat-out lie. There isn't even any basis for this lie...homeowners can sue builders, and it is ridiculous for Weinstein to try to claim they can't. I challenge anyone to substantiate Weinstein's stupid LIE. He is clearly desperate and therefore resorting to desperate measures.

Posted by T90ValleyGirl | April 2, 2007 11:57 AM
22

I'll respond to that challenge. First, I am absolutely floored at the number of people out there willing to vilify two of our chosen representatives (Weinstein and Williams) who are just trying to do the right thing for homeowners - give some basic rights! These guys aren't playing politics, they are trying to increase consumer protection not only for their constitutents, but all Washington homeowners.

The rights of single family homeowners in this state to pursue their builders for shoddy construction are extremely limited. First, you have to have a contract with your builder, which most new homeowners do not. Second, you have to have damages amounting to near collapse of your building or at least a serious threat to life or safety. 33 other states have better consumer protections for homeowners than Washington.

The FACT is that Frank Chopp killed a good bill for political reasons - to keep a good relationship with BIAW and other builders groups for the future - because BIAW is powerful. It is not about a single meal - at least one homeowners advocacy group raised money for Chopp's re-election thinking he supported homeowner rights. It's about the overwhelming disproprortionate amount of money that BIAW and other builders groups spend EVERY YEAR in Olympia - literally millions. Only the strongest of our representatives like Williams and Weinstein -- who believe more in representing their constituents than hoarding political capital -- are willing to make a stand against them.

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23

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