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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Seattle Times Interviews Angry Sen. Weinstein

posted by on April 3 at 10:02 AM

Seattle Times Olympia reporter Ralph Thomas has a good follow-up story to the interview I did over the weekend with state Senator Brian Weinstein (D-41, Mercer Island). (I interviewed Weinstein on Sunday about his frustration at having his homebuyers’ protection bill iced by House Speaker Rep. Frank Chopp.)

Sen. Weinstein 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.

But Thomas got some even sharper quotes.

Sen. Weinstein, referring to Chopp’s relationship with the Building Industry Association of Washington and Chopp’s decision to table the homebuyers’ protection bill:

If you start connecting the dots, you see he [Chopp] has some kind of understanding that he isn’t going to hurt them this year. They knew they had an ace in the hole. They knew Frank was going to kill it.

BIAW lobbyist Tom McCabe on Weinstein’s hearings and on Weinstein:

They weren’t hearings,” McCabe said. “They were inquisitions. He was nasty to anyone who didn’t agree with his idea.”

McCabe acknowledged talking to Chopp about the bill. Did the speaker promise to kill it?

“Not really,” McCabe said. “We talked about the bill. He listened to reason, which Weinstein wouldn’t do. I think that guy’s irrational.”

And Senate Majority Leader Sen. Lisa Brown (D-3, Spokane) on Sen. Weinstein:

Senate Majority Leader Lisa Brown said she has urged Weinstein to tone it down and “to focus on the policy rather than the person.”

Thomas, however, gives Weinstein the last word:

“I haven’t been here long enough to play by some of the rules that some people play by,” Weinstein said. “But I don’t mind taking off the gloves when I know I’m right.”

Meanwhile, The PI weighed in with an editorial on Weinstein’s bill, scolding Chopp.

RSS icon Comments


Haha um yeah Josh, the Times is doing a follow-up to YOUR interview.

Don't you realize how writing embarrassingly self-inflating things like that only exposes your inferiority complex?

Posted by huh? | April 3, 2007 10:08 AM

Very superstitious, writing's on the wall
Very superstitious, ladders bout' to fall
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, the good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way

Very superstitious, wash your face and hands
Rid me of the problem, do all that you can
Keep me in a daydream, keep me goin' strong
You don't wanna save me, sad is my song

When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way, yeh, yeh

Very superstitious, nothin' more to say
Very superstitious, the devil's on his way
Thirteen month old baby, broke the lookin' glass
Seven years of bad luck, good things in your past

When you believe in things that you don't understand
Then you suffer
Superstition ain't the way, no, no, no

Posted by Josh Feit | April 3, 2007 10:19 AM

right ...

Posted by Will in Seattle | April 3, 2007 10:27 AM

Unfortunately, right or wrong, Weinstein has just destroyed his career. No one's going to give him the time of day anymore. You don't go after the Speaker unless you know you can WIN. This way, he just looks like an ass and a hothead, and makes his position look bad, and the BIAW look better. I'll bet the 41st Republicans are cheering.

Posted by Fnarf | April 3, 2007 10:49 AM

I disagree Fnarf.

I'm going to preface this by saying I'm probably an outlier...

I *like* legislators that are hot-headed and passionate about political corruption. In fact, to have someone in power willing to rip off the fig leaves of "lobbying" and show the quid-pro-quo of modern politics is great.

"They knew they had an ace in the hole. They knew Frank was going to kill it."

This is a gaffe precisely because it states an *obvious* truth: Frank Chopp was bought and paid for by BIAW. This is bribery called by a different name.

So good for Weinstein. I wish more politicians in the legislature were willing to stomp their feet and rail against obvious corruption of politics.

It does go without saying that what is fine for legislators is not ok for members of the judiciary or executive branches...

Posted by golob | April 3, 2007 11:31 AM

I'd never heard of Weinstein before this. And I like what I'm hearing. I don't think his career is over, with voters anyway.

Chopp, on the other hand, has some 'splaining to do.

Posted by chopping block | April 3, 2007 11:39 AM

Sorry, Fnarf, I think that's a little unrealistic. Nobody who knows the Speaker honestly believes that he disagrees with Weinstein on the policy.

It's also unrealistic to think that Weinstein has done anything but *enhance* his career with his high-profile advocacy for a populist issue such as this.

I suspect that Chopp is telling all sides that there will be no instant gratification on his watch, and that those who seek policy change must demonstrate a throughgoing, overwhelming *public* groundswell for these changes -- not just because a legislator or two, aided by opportunistic would-be powerbrokers who post on blogs -- seek instant gratification.

This means that those of us who want Brian's bill made law will have to prepare for the next session, and will have to send so many aggrieved homeowners to testify in Olympia, with documentary evidence piled upon documentary evidence, that Chopp will have to turn to the BIAW and say "sorry, the jig is up."

Anyone who thinks he won't do it under those circumstances does not know the Speaker very well. I do not speak for him, but his goals are our goals.

The same goes for legislation that would institute public financing for campaigns, and legislation that would rein in the payday lender scum.

Posted by ivan | April 3, 2007 11:40 AM

"Unfortunately, right or wrong, Weinstein has just destroyed his career."

I don't think so. The only people who like the BIAW are builders, wingnuts, and Frank Chopp. Weinstein is coming off as a passionate outsider fighting to do the right thing.

Chopp, on the other hand, comes off once again as a conservative autocrat who couldn't give a shit about the 43rd.

If anyone halfway decent decides to run against him in 2008, Frank will lose big.

Posted by Sean | April 3, 2007 11:57 AM

Golob, PLEASE provide evidence that Chopp is "bought and paid for by BIAW". So far, we've got a $124 dinner. Right. If that's what it takes to buy Chopp, that should be FANTASTIC news for Weinstein, because surely he's got access to $125, right?

Chopp is bought and paid for by no one. That's the stupidest thing I've ever heard. $124!

Posted by Fnarf | April 3, 2007 11:58 AM

Please, Fnarf, Frank isn't going to sell out for cash. That would spell the death of his or any politicians career.

So, what did he sell out for? I don't know, but I'm sure that was discussed in detail during the $124 dinner.

Posted by Sean | April 3, 2007 12:05 PM

$124 has been listed in public records from one lobbyist for the BIAW.

Are you honestly going to claim there are no under-the-table deals? No other more subtle ways Frank could be paid for? Just because something hasn't been disclosed....

Here is my question for you: Why would he carry so much water for BIAW? Last time I checked there were far more home-owners in the 43rd district than major builders.

What can I say. I'm not a detective. I don't have subpoena powers. I'm not paid to dig through financing records, IRS returns, bank statements, and Frank's financial records.

I am willing to grant Weinstein is at least more aware of the dirt that goes on in Olympia than either of us. Isn't it obvious that Frank is at least doing the bidding of BIAW? What other explanation, beyond the plight of the Washington State homebuilder, do you have for his actions?

Posted by golob | April 3, 2007 12:06 PM

Lobbyists for builders in every state do about the same things. In my state, the only reason my senator opposed some builder-friendly legislation was that he'd personally been ripped off by builders. Prior to that he'd been a staunch defender of protecting businesses from unhappy consumers, i.e. tort reform. MOST of the politicians show donations from one or other of the builders org's in many states, if you research public records. I have done that, and I have seen where legislation gets killed in committee because paid, professional lobbyists for an industry want it killed. More people should go to their state capitols and find out what's really going on. It is VERY dirty business and those with the most money are shaping our laws.

Posted by CS | April 3, 2007 12:58 PM

I'm not well-versed in state politics, but McCabe's use of the word "reason" really does sound highly euphemistic.

Posted by Noink | April 3, 2007 1:01 PM

@#9 Fnarf: Just b/c BIAW doesn't send Chopp money doesn't mean he's getting nothing from them. It could be that BIAW said, "you kill this, we won't send any funds to your opponents next election cycle; you let it pass, we'll create a PAC specifically to defeat you." Just a theory.

@#1: in fairness to Josh, if you read the Times article it does say:
"Over the weekend, a blog published by the alternative weekly newspaper The Stranger quoted Weinstein as saying he saw no point in working hard for a bill if 'a dictator can just pull the rug out from under you.'

In an interview with The Seattle Times on Monday,..."

Posted by him | April 3, 2007 1:52 PM

Fnarf: with all of your inside baseball talk recently, straw man arguments, and adamant defense of Chopp, I'm wondering if you work for the House of Representatives or perhaps, like Cressona, work for Speaker Chopp?

To find out that Fnarf is a state employee would sure explain why he seems to have the time to comment extensively on every single slog posting . . .

Posted by Curious | April 3, 2007 2:02 PM

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