Speaker Frank Chopp: Time for a master to work his magic

  • By Jerry Cornfield Herald Writer
  • Sunday, April 3, 2011 12:01am
  • Local News

With three weeks left in the regular session, there are 146 state lawmakers and a governor wondering if the Legislature can finish its work to get out on time.

And there’s one person who probably knows: House Speaker Frank Chopp.

He is arguably the most powerful figure in the Capitol these days, a man whose influence is present in every conversation and felt in every vote. His power grows stronger the less he’s seen and heard and not many are seeing or hearing him lately.

This means we’ve definitely entered the Chopp Time Zone in which the minutes that matter most are those he spends piecing together budget and policy puzzles that must be completed to avoid a special session.

This is his moment. He’s a master, maybe the best House speaker this state has ever had, at knowing every member’s pressure points and how hard he can press them to get the perfect political fit.

Moreover he’s got a sixth sense of how far his majority Democratic caucus can push its agenda before it will ignite an explosion of public opposition. It’s a reason Democrats rode out the white caps of tea party anger in 2010 and didn’t get washed out of leadership in the People’s House as some thought might happen.

I point this out because thousands of people who are the soul and backbone of the Democratic Party are coming to the Capitol this week. Each day, a different contingent will be calling on Chopp and Co. to find ways other than cutting programs to erase a $5.1 billion shortfall.

They’re bound to be disappointed because much of what they want is not likely to be what Chopp winds up doing.

Teachers are coming Monday and Mark Mains, who teaches fifth grade in the Mukilteo School District, will be among them.

They’re pushing to suspend the requirement for students to pass a high stakes test to graduate then shift $50 million from that program into keeping class sizes small in kindergarten through fourth grade. Doing so will preserve several hundred jobs statewide, they say.

“We get it. There’s not going to be any more money,” Mains said. “If there’s no new money, then what we have to do is take what we have and emphasize teaching over testing.”

Not many teachers are coming as this is not intended to be a show of force.

The scene will be much different the rest of the week. Rallies with large crowds are planned each day and a little civil disobedience could get sprinkled in, too.

On Tuesday, Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights, or POWER, will focus on preserving programs for low-income families. Wednesday, the Alliance for a Just Society will rally for human services on the budget chopping block.

Thursday, SEIU will fill the Capitol with home health care workers railing against further cuts in programs for the disabled. They’ll be joined by as many as 1,000 mental health professionals who plan to conduct a one-day strike to attend.

Friday is the culminating event coordinated by the Washington State Labor Council with at least 5,000 people expected. Firefighters, trade unionists, government workers, teachers and community activists from around the state are expected to fill the campus.

There, in a singular loud voice, they will demand the Legislature eliminate corporate tax breaks as part of the budget-balancing solution. They won’t say what happens if they don’t.

“We cannot have an all-cuts budget,” the Rev. Paul Benz of the Lutheran Public Policy Office said. “We call on those in the halls of power to do something.”

Chopp’s not expected to drop by. He’ll hear them and we’ll all wait to see what he does about it.

Political reporter Jerry Cornfield’s blog, The Petri Dish, is at www.heraldnet.com. Contact him at 360-352-8623 or jcornfield@heraldnet.com.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Kim Skarda points at her home on a map on Thursday, June 20, 2024 in Concrete, Washington. A community called Sauk River Estates has a very steep slope above it. There is a DNR-approved timber sale that boarders the estate properties, yet they were not consulted about the sale before approval. The community has already appealed the sale and has hired their own geologist to conduct a slope stability report at the site. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Beneath steep slope, Concrete neighbors fear landslides from logging above

Nielsen Brothers plans to cut 54 acres of timber directly behind the community of 83 homes. Locals said they were never consulted.

Law enforcement respond to a person hit by a train near the Port of Everett Mount Baker Terminal on Thursday, June 27, 2024 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
2 killed in waterfront train crashes were near Mukilteo ‘quiet zone’

In June, two people were hit by trains on separate days near Mukilteo Boulevard. “These situations are incredibly tragic,” Everett’s mayor said.

Rob Plotnikoff takes a measurement as a part of the county's State of Our Waters survey at Tambark Creek in Bothell, Washington on Monday, July 1, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Snohomish County stream team bushwhacks a path to healthier waterways

This summer, the crew of three will survey 40 sites for the State of Our Waters program. It’s science in locals’ backyards.

Logo for news use featuring the municipality of Mountlake Terrace in Snohomish County, Washington. 220118
4th suspect arrested after Mountlake Terrace home robbery

Police arrested Taievion Rogers, 19, on Tuesday. Prosecutors charged his three alleged accomplices in April.

A 10 acre parcel off of Highway 99, between 240th and 242nd Street Southwest that the city of Edmonds is currently in the process of acquiring on Monday, July 10, 2023 in Edmonds, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Edmonds ditches $37M Landmark public park project off Highway 99

The previous mayor envisioned parks and more in south Edmonds, in a historically neglected area. The new administration is battling budget woes.

Edmonds school official sworn in as Mount Vernon supe

Victor Vergara took his oath of office last week. He was assistant superintendent of equity and student success in Edmonds.

Boy, 15, stabbed after fight on bus north of Lynnwood

Police arrested a suspect, 32, for investigation of assault in the alleged stabbing Tuesday off Highway 99.

Lily Gladstone poses at the premiere of the Hulu miniseries "Under the Bridge" at the DGA Theatre, Monday, April 15, 2024, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)
Mountlake Terrace’s Lily Gladstone nominated for Emmy for ‘Under the Bridge’

The nomination comes after Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe wins for her performance in “Killers of the Flower Moon.”

Lead Mammography Technologist Starla DeLap talks about the different ways the Hologic 3D Mammography Exam can be situated around a patient on Wednesday, July 10, 2024 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Providence Everett launches early cancer detection program

Prevention4Me, the hospital’s new breast cancer risk assessment tool, will help doctors and patients expedite diagnoses and treatment.

A boat drives out of the Port of Everett Marina in front of Boxcar Park on Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020 in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Expand the Port of Everett’s boundaries? Voters must decide

The port calls its a workforce measure to boost the economy and add jobs. Opponents say it burdens property owners with another tax.

A dog sticks their head out the window as a part of a Wandering Rover Field Trip at the Everett Animal Shelter in Everett, Washington on Wednesday, July 17, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Doggy dates: Wandering Rover at Everett shelter gives dogs a day out

The program offers people the opportunity to try a dog before they adopt or to simply get their Fido fix.

A photo of "Tazz," an Argentine white Tegu still missing near Granite Falls. (Provided photo)
Tazz the missing tegu reunited with owner in Granite Falls

The 4-foot lizard went missing Friday evening. Searchers located him in a barn, 1 mile away from his home.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.