Media, Education, Environment

Media

Where does commentary cross the line into campaigning? That question comes up if you listen to KVI-AM (570), where conservative talk jocks Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson appear to be running a continual campaign in favor of I-912, the initiative that would roll back the newly pumped-up gas tax and nix hopes for replacing the dangerous Alaskan Way Viaduct and 520 bridge. In a lawsuit filed Wednesday, June 22, opponents of I-912 say that since Carlson and Wilbur run the initiative, their on-air promotion constitutes an in-kind political contribution on behalf of KVI and its Seattle parent company, Fisher Broadcasting. Nonsense, says KVI General Manager Rob Dunlop, the jocks are just expressing their opinion. I-912 campaign manager and longtime Carlson associate Bret Bader insists Carlson and Wilbur have no formal relationship to the campaign, but he does admit, "We wouldn't exist without their passionate advocacy." He says the suit is harassment aimed at intimidating Fisher into muzzling the talk-show hosts. A Thurston County Superior Court judge will hear the case on Friday, July 1. GEORGE HOWLAND JR.

Education

The government body overseeing the Washington Assessment of Student Learning (WASL), and thereby the fate of thousands of schoolchildren statewide, is about to change. In its last session, the Legislature decided to dissolve the Academic Achievement and Accountability Commission, commonly known as the A+ Commission, and create a revamped state Board of Education that would take over WASL oversight. There were likely many bureaucratic reasons for the move, but one may have been the commission's recent performance. Former state Superintendent of Public Instruction Judith Billings speculates that what "sunk the commission" was its inability to reach a decision last November on how well students should have to do on the WASL in order to graduate from high school. Current guidelines say that, as of 2008, students must reach a "proficient" level on each of the WASL's sections, but the commission mulled requiring only a "basic" level of achievement on at least one section. NINA SHAPIRO

Environment

One month ago, The Oregonian broke the news that somewhere between 80,000 and 140,000 pounds of farmed Chinook salmon contaminated with the poisonous dye malachite green had made its way across the U.S. border from Canada and disappeared into the food distribution system. Malachite green is used to kill fungus that can grow on farmed fish eggs. It is illegal in foodstuffs even in trace amounts in both the United States and Canada. While Canadian authorities were still trying to track down how malachite got into fish raised off Vancouver Island by Marine Harvest (the largest salmon farm operation in the world), the same contaminant turned up in another nearby farm, the "organic" farm Creative Salmon (which ships most of its fish to the U.S.). Virtually all the fish has been sold—nobody knows where—and presumably eaten—nobody knows by whom. ROGER DOWNEY

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