80 Middle School Girls Build and Program Robots for Competition at Amazon DuPont Fulfillment Center

By The Suburban Times May 24, 2018 On Wednesday, May 23rd, Amazon partnered with Girls FIRST Washington and the Olympia Robotics Federation to host a day-long robotics competition at Amazon’s DuPont fulfillment center. Amazon also surprised FIRST Washington with a $5,000 donation to support Olympia Robotics Federation and Pioneer Middle School robotic teams. Nearly 80 students from Pioneer Middle School participated in a day-long robotics challenge where the girls learned how to build and program a robot and participated in a mock robotic competition. Amazon managers were on hand to mentor and encourage girls to pursue their interest in STEM as well as prepare them for the jobs of the future in tech and robotics. The purpose of the Girls FIRST Initiative is to recruit and engage girls 6-18 years old in FIRST programs and support their teams through female mentorship and resources. Washington State Representatives Christine Kilduff and Melanie Stambaugh spoke to students about prepping for the jobs of the future, and they along with Representative Dick Muri helped judge the competition. “We’re excited to be partnering with FIRST Washington and ORF to help girls learn about the STEM fundamentals we use right here in our facilities,” said Ben Alder, General Manager of Amazon’s DuPont fulfillment center. “We can’t wait to see the innovative ideas these young minds come up with, and we’re glad to have the opportunity to support programs to help engage young women and encourage the next generation of innovators.” … Read More

My Northwest
Washington’s new homeowner law erases little-known racist past

By Dyer Oxley May 17, 2018 There is a street in Tacoma that determines the fate of many. And it serves as a historical marker reminding the city of a shameful past which still affects modern residents. “We have a street called 6th Avenue, where there is literally a $100,000 difference in sales price for homes based on which side of that street you are on,” said Anders Ibsen, deputy mayor for the City of Tacoma. “In certain neighborhoods in Pierce County there are 20-year differences in life expectancy between some of the richer neighborhoods and the poorer zip codes. All that is a direct reflection of historical and current racism.” Ibsen, along with State Rep. Christine Kilduff, recently chipped away at one little-known corner of the region’s racist past – language hidden in covenants. These are the ownership documents passed down between homeowners, which can include requirements for the properties — bigoted requirements. The language can also be found in some home owner association agreements (HOA) and was used to segregate communities — known as housing segregation or redlining. Just as 6th Avenue historically divided Tacoma. “In West Tacoma in particular, there are a lot of homes that have really ugly language written into their covenants,” Ibsen said. “Even my mom’s house has some of this stuff written, saying things like, ‘The house shall not be conveyed to members of the Hebrew or oriental race.’ Nasty stuff like that.” Tacoma is not alone. Seattle, for example, has struggled with the same issue, where many homes north of the ship canal have deeds with sentences like: “No property in said plat shall at any time be directly or indirectly sold conveyed or leased in whole or in part to any person or persons not of the White race.” Of course, this language has been unenforceable for decades under Washington’s discrimination laws. But that’s not the point, according to Ibsen. “This language is hideous, it’s hurtful and the impacts of racism are still very real for many people,” he said. “….if you are a Jewish homeowner or an Asian American homeowner, and that language is in your deed, that is something that makes you feel inherently different and set apart.”

Washington’s new law

Tacoma residents have been pointing out the racist deed language more and more recently, and the very inconvenient process to change it. So Ibsen and Kilduff spearheaded an effort to pass HB 2514. It passed the state Legislature last session and it will go into effect this summer.
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Tacoma News Tribune
Bridge bailout exacts too high a toll

I’ve thought hard about the direct impact that issues of taxes and tolls have on my constituents’ economic realities. That’s why I’m disappointed to see The News Tribune, in a March 8 editorial, applaud the passage of House Bill 2990, which requires more toll increases and additional loans for the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. At the heart of HB 2990 is an attempt to create a long-term fix to the escalating debt payments on the bridge. Under the legislation, the state loans the Tacoma Narrows Bridge account $85 million, a 25-cent toll increase is authorized beginning in 2022, and tolling is extended beyond the current 2032 end date until the loan is paid off. I opposed the bill because I think this is a bad deal for our region, despite all the good intention behind it. No one disagrees that we need a solution to the financing set up for the bridge, which was flawed from the beginning. When the new bridge opened in 2007, it was financed by general obligation bonds that would be repaid over time in increasing amounts through the collection of tolls. Years of lower-than-forecast toll revenue and increasing debt payments have created an unsustainable course requiring more and more toll increases. To fill the gap, the Legislature has on multiple occasions taken steps to prevent toll increases. I voted in favor of such efforts twice – once in 2016 and again in 2017. In order to develop a long-term solution, a bipartisan legislative work group on which I served came up with a plan: Transfer $125 million of non-toll state funding towards paying off the debt each year and prohibit any and all further toll increases. Instead of bad loans, our community would get its fair share and help deal with a critical economic lifeline for our region. As a result, I sponsored a bill, HB 2834, that would have implemented that clean and simple fix. Unfortunately, the Legislature moved forward with HB 2990 instead of the work group’s recommendation and HB 2834. Searching for a long-term solution instead of year-by-year fixes is a worthy cause, and one that I’ve supported as well. For that reason, I very much respect my colleagues in their work on this issue, but raising tolls and extending the number of years they’ll be collected doesn’t feel like a winning solution to me. As we look to repair and maintain public roads, bridges and highways throughout our region, I believe Pierce County taxpayers deserve a solution that involves a significant state investment, not an additional $85 million in debt to be repaid. I promised voters that I’d take tough stands in their interest, and I remain committed to that principle. In Olympia, I will continue to stand up against toll and tax increases that unfairly burden our residents – even if that means standing alone.
State Rep. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, represents Washington's 28th Legislative District. Reach her by email at Christine.Kilduff@leg.wa.gov
Read more here: http://www.thenewstribune.com/opinion/op-ed/article207233189.html#storylink=cpy
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Our Voice: Not all legislators caved

By the Tri-City Herald Editorial Board February 26, 2018 Last week, at political warp speed, the Legislature approved its own exemption to the state Public Records Act. Senate Bill 6617 was worked out quietly by leaders of the four legislative caucuses and rushed through within 48 hours of being introduced to lawmakers. The bill was … Continued