National Politics, Media, Employment

National Politics

It's not just the ethically challenged Texas Rep. Tom DeLay or Republicans who accept special-interest travel funds. In the past five years, says PoliticalMoneyLine.com, House and Senate Democrats took 3,025 trips and Republicans 2,375 trips, in all worth almost $16 million—most sponsored by groups not required to disclose where the money originated. The No. 1 spender was the educational Aspen Institute ($3.1 million) and No. 1 user was Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-Wis. (19 trips for $176,000). Thirteenth on the list of 618 present and former members is Rep. Jim McDermott, the Seattle Democrat, who reported 39 trips worth $141,000. (For comparison, DeLay, ranked 28th, took 14 trips for $94,000). McDermott's "fact finding" locales included Asia, Japan, Europe, the Middle East, Africa, and even the U.S. (He was guest speaker for punkvoter.com in Portland.) His next closest traveler in the Washington delegation is Demo Rep. Norm Dicks (20 trips for $72,000). The state's two Democratic senators ranked near the bottom: Maria Cantwell was 536th with one trip to Israel for $2,200 and Patty Murray was 617th with one trip to Hawaii, cost unknown. RICK ANDERSON

Media

Television Washington (TVW) got burned by its day in the sun. Known as the C-SPAN of state government, TVW broadcast proceedings of the Republicans' legal challenge to the gubernatorial election on cable TV and over the Internet. Intense interest presented TVW with an opportunity to reach a vast new audience, but its streaming media system could only support between 7,000 and 9,000 users at a time. As a result, TVW's normally seamless streaming was poor throughout the two-week trial. In addition, an electrical blackout and a driving rainstorm interrupted the signal from Wenatchee. But discouraged first-time viewers should give TVW another chance. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Longtime Seattle Times spokesperson Kerry Coughlin will leave the state's biggest paper June 20, when she becomes Gov. Christine Gregoire's communications chief in Olympia. Coughlin was tracked down by Gregoire's search team last month. She will hire a press secretary to handle pesky reporters on a day-to-day basis while she focuses on strategy. Salary: $125,000. No word on who will replace her at the Times. PHILIP DAWDY

Employment

The Seattle Police Department is on a hiring spree, offering some of the best pay a high-school graduate can get. New recruits earn $42,756 a year, plus health benefits considered the best of all city agencies. That's before newbies graduate from the police academy. Quick and steady raises keep coming so that a six-and-a-half-year veteran of the force makes $65,412. Compare that with another vocation open to high-school graduates: military service. An entry-level Army soldier earns $14,321 a year, although that doesn't account for the free room and board. A sergeant with six years experience makes $25,567, exclusive of room and board. No wonder the Army is having trouble meeting recruiting targets. NINA SHAPIRO

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