Biden to U.S. Senate: I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is, where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”
Biden to U.S. Senate: ""I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is, where will the institution of United States Senate stand?” JOSHUA LOTT/GETTY IMAGES

Does anyone have video of Washington State Sen. Phil Fortunato pitching a fit about taking a COVID test at the Capitol? In an email, the Republican state Senator from Auburn said he showed up to the Legislative Building Monday at 11:00 am for a meeting, rejected the COVID-19 test that is required to enter the building due to a viral surge threatening to overrun the state's hospitals, and then "walked past" security to enter his office for the Zoom meeting.

After that meeting, Fortunato said the Secretary of the Senate, Brad Hendrickson, appeared in his office and said he'd need to take the COVID test to remain in the building. Fortunato told Hendrickson and other officials he wouldn't sign a release to let the COVID testers into his office, so Hendrickson and other officials told him he'd need to leave. And if he didn't leave, then he'd be removed. Fortunato encouraged the officials to remove him, and, according to secondhand info from a Democratic staffer, encouraged people to film the removal. At that point "Senate Security showed up and was very apologetic and politely asked to escort me out of the building," he said.

In the email to The Stranger, Fortunato expressed his disappointment with security for sending only two officers, since he thought he "rated at least 4." He then met for lunch with Tim Eyman's fav lawyer, Joel Ard. "This is a big deal when they are putting additional restrictions on having access to the senate chamber or your office. I don’t recall that as being a condition of election to office," Fortunato said.

If you have video of the above altercation, then please send me a direct message on Twitter. Don't send bad porn. Good porn's fine, but no bad porn. Mostly I'm just looking for the video, if it exists. Thanks.

Update: Looks like Fortunato will pull the stunt again on Wednesday, according to a press release. Should be plenty of cameras around then.

Open letter to Washington state Republicans: Cut it with the COVID histrionics. We're in the middle of a surge, four of your Democratic colleagues announced that they've tested positive in the last couple days, and Republican state Sen. Doug Ericksen fucking died with this shit. I know you're all trying to go viral to raise money on some vaccine segregation outrage bullshit, but, for once, for the next 58 days could you please just pretend as if your job was to offer substantive conservative criticism to the already relatively conservative legislation the Democrats are putting forth? Again, your friend Doug Ericksen died from COVID. Dead. No coming back from that. Dead. Get the shots, take the test, and mask up. We live in a society. It's literally the least you can do.

Record-high COVID cases in Seattle Public Schools: The district reports a big spike in cases over the last week: 145 staff and 643 students, FOX 13 reports.

What happens when you vote for a Republican City Attorney? She pays "up to" $200,000 to a Trump-appointed Republican lawyer to consult on Seattle's 4,000-case misdemeanor backlog and to tell the new criminal division chief how she should run her shop. Seems like plenty of money to pay someone to tell you that you should just prioritize the violent domestic violence and DUI cases and then decline the petty stuff, imo. But maybe ol' Brian T. Moran has some outside-the-box strategy for working through the backlog while cracking down on crimes of poverty and yet not paralyzing the court system at the same time. I'll add that it's notable that Davison's staying within the GOP family with this temp hire, too.

Big-ass pothole in West Seattle: Following all the wild weather, Cathy emailed West Seattle Blog to warn about large potholes on 35th Ave South causing flat tires. Keep your head on a swivel if you're out there driving.

White Pass closed overnight: The pass had closed over the weekend and then reopened, but WSDOT closed it again Monday night because of a rock slide and "unstable slopes," according to KOMO.

Prosecutors say Seattle man robbed eight banks and four other businesses: U.S. Marshals arrested the 28-year-old man on Dec. 30, and prosecutors charged him last week with 12 counts of robbery and a gun charge, the Seattle Times reports. The banks are located in Seattle, White Center, Renton, Des Moines, Federal Way, Bellevue and Shoreline.

SCOTUS will review Washington law affecting Hanford workers: The law in question makes it easier for sick Hanford workers to qualify for workers' comp by requiring the state Department of Labor and Industries to "presume that radiological or chemical exposures at the Hanford nuclear reservation caused any neurological diseases or respiratory illnesses claimed by past or current employees of Hanford contractors," the Tri-City Herald reports. Other workers have to prove their injury or illness resulted from a specific incident at work. The Department of Justice claims the law is so vague it could cover lots of common ailments, including asthma and strokes, so the DOJ asked the Supreme Court to weigh in.

About that list claiming Seattle is "affordable" for single renters: The New York Times ran a story about one of those city rankings that claimed Seattle was the eighth-most affordable city in the country for single renters, and Seattle Twitter was not pleased. FYI Guy Gene Balk took a look at the data and pointed out that the report compared median studio rents and average "nonfamily household income," which reflects both highly paid single people and households where nobody is related, like unmarried partners or roommates. That might be especially off in Seattle because the city has a high share of those unmarried and roommate households, Balk writes.


The U.S. smashed COVID-19 hospitalization records today: Today the U.S. recorded nearly 146,000 people hospitalized with the bug, and by the end of this month we may double that number, the Washington Post reports. Hope everyone enjoyed their Christmas and New Year's Eve: "Colorado, Oregon, Louisiana, Maryland and Virginia had declared public health emergencies or authorized crisis standards of care, which allow hospitals and ambulances to restrict treatment when they cannot meet demand."

Europe isn't doing much better: The World Health Organization predicts that "more than half of people in Europe could be infected with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus in the next six to eight weeks," according to the New York Times.

Biden finally does politics on the filibuster: During a speech in Atlanta today, the president will come out in favor of abolishing the filibuster but only for voting rights, the Washington Post reports. Though Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema still oppose any such rule change to pass democratic reforms, Biden will try to make them feel bad by standing before a college crowd and saying, "I will defend your right to vote and our democracy against all enemies foreign and domestic. And so the question is, where will the institution of United States Senate stand?”

Ted Cruz wants to "cripple" a Russian oil pipeline with sanctions as punishment for making hawkish foreign policy reporters think that Putin wants to invade Ukraine, but some Democrats pushed back against the idea because they worried such a move would piss off the Germans, who would benefit from the new cheap oil coming from Russia, Politico reports. Other Senate Dems, however, are interested in Cruz's plan, and so now Biden has to "deploy" his allies to tamp that down.

Chinese city Anyang puts five million in COVID lockdown: The move follows a similar measure taken last month in Xi’an, which is home to 13 million people, Al Jazeera reports.

Aaaaaand the first Black woman to appear on the back of a U.S. quarter will be: Maya Angelou. Would be cool to get one on the front, though.

Please allow me to introduce to your morning the supreme chillness of "Days As Echoes" from the Misha Panfilov Sound Combo: