The Sizzles...

The Fizzles...

The Sizzles...

All-Star Team Award: newly-elected Democrats in the state Legislature. The 2011 legislative session featured many legislators whose progressive batting average wouldn't even make it into the Mariners lineup. In the midst of this prolonged slump, first-term Democrats stepped up to the plate and organized themselves into an effective team slugging for progressive values. They started by helping create a more progressive leadership team for the House Democrats, and finished playing an important role on many key issues.

With emerging leaders like Reps. Joe Fitzgibbon, Luis Moscoso, Chris Reykdal, and Kris Lytton on our side — as well as Nick Harper in the Senate — we're hoping for some home runs next year.

True Patriot Award: Rep. Mike Sells, for his tireless work fighting injustice and riding to the rescue of Washington workers. As the session wound to a close, few legislators were willing to fend off the swarm of corporate lobbyists looking to make hundreds of millions of dollars off the backs of injured workers. While there was no silver bullet to stop their attacks, Sells mounted a valiant defense of injured workers to ensure they weren't completely abandoned in favor of Wall Street profits.

Mother Jones Award: Rep. Laurie Jinkins. In her first year, Jinkins led the way in organizing fellow newly-elected legislators. With a fearlessness rarely seen in Olympia, she was a vocal champion for legislation to fund K-3 education by finally ending tax breaks for Wall Street Banks. She displayed exceptional moxie and mettle in her stand against corporate special interests and built a foundation for greater success next year.

Inter-Continental Smackdown Champion Award: Rep. Andy Billig, for his effective leadership enacting new protections to keep our lakes and rivers safe from phosphorus pollution. In addition, Billig was a principled and effective advocate for ending unjust tax breaks for special interests throughout this challenging legislative session.

Spotlight on the Shadows Award: Undead Olympia, for ghoulishly good coverage of the session's legislative atrocities. As a tireless advocate for the undead, monstrous, and mutated among us, the satirical masterminds at Undead Olympia provided critical coverage of the Legislature's new fealty to the dearly departed over the living. From coverage of the pitchfork- bearing mob against immigrants led by Senator Joe Zarelli (R-Werewolf) to the empty husk masquerading as Democratic leadership, Undead Olympia burned the midnight oil to expose the 2011 horror show inside the Capitol.

Strongman Award: Rep. David Frockt, for single-handedly spearheading the nation's first statewide ban on toxic coal tar sealants, a cancer-causing stormwater pollutant. He rallied his caucus and was not afraid to call bunk on heavy opposition by corporate special interests. Frockt's heavy lifting was critical to passing this important bill into law.

Democracy in Action Award: Grassroots Activists, for consistently exercising their First Amendment right to assemble in support of essential services for Washington families. Thousands and thousands of activists attended three rallies in Olympia, slept over in the Capitol building, marched for 50 miles, and staged hunger strikes to protest budget cuts. By continuing to come together and show overwhelming public support for education, health care, and other critical services, activists demonstrated a strong, long-lasting commitment to progressive change. In particular, we want to recognize Washington CAN!, SEIU, and the Washington State Labor Council for their grassroots mobilizing efforts.

The Fizzles...

Wall Street Champions Award: the state House Republican Caucus. With massive cuts to education looming, House Republicans voted unanimously to kill a bill that would have ended a tax break for Wall Street Banks to save funding for smaller class sizes for our kids. Though Senator Jean Berkey was retired by the voters last year, her legacy of protecting Wall Street over working families lives on in the House Republican Caucus.

Pirates of the Caribbean III: the Senate Roadkill Caucus of conservative Democrats, for a mutinous drama that was epically painful to watch. This self-titled coalition of conservative Democrats teamed up with conservative Republicans like Senator Don Benton to launch bloodthirsty attacks on funding for kids, seniors, injured workers, and others. These unruly pirates held the state budget hostage to stage a dastardly raid on benefits for injured workers while pillaging our investments in schools, parks, and other public structures.

Members of this treacherous crew banded together to drag their caucus to the right and regularly create a conservative majority. They include Senators Brian Hatfield, Steve Hobbs, Jim Kastama, Mary Margaret Haugen, Rodney Tom, and Paull Shin.

Sore Loser Award: Senator Jim Kastama, for opening legislative session by introducing a divisive, politically motivated resolution to block Senator Nick Harper from being seated. A leader in the Senate's conservative Roadkill Caucus, Kastama sought to deny representation to the people of the 38th District to exact revenge for the defeat of Senator Jean Berkey in the primary election. Thankfully, a majority of the state Senate disagreed with Kastama and let the will of the voters stand. But Kastama's efforts to bring his conservative politics to elections continue: he recently announced he's running for Secretary of State in 2012.

The Heartbreaker Award: Governor Chris Gregoire, for giving up on a progressive vision for Washington. Instead of fighting for what our state can and should be — a leader in America's commitment to equality, opportunity, and responsibility — Gregoire became the spokesperson for a hopeless and conservative approach to Washington's fiscal crisis. Conceding the political landscape to Tim Eyman and conservative business interests, Gregoire declared new revenue dead on arrival and became an obstacle to serious conversations about a progressive future for Washington. She proposed a budget she "hated" that eliminated State Food Assistance, the Children's Health Program, Disability Lifeline, and the Basic Health Plan, along with billions in cuts to education - all without fighting for an alternative. Gregoire was also a champion for business-led rollbacks to workers' compensation benefits, and led a conservative approach to the capital budget that undermined the state's primary tool for creating jobs.

The Robber Baron Award: Bellevue City Councilmember Kevin Wallace, for his shady and unscrupulous efforts to derail mass transit on the Eastside. Bankrolled by conservative developers in Bellevue, Wallace has been single-mindedly focused on blocking light rail through endless bureaucratic delay, costing taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars. To top it off, he is now under investigation for financial conflicts of interest related to his fight against light rail. Wallace's sinister and selfish agenda is a stumbling block to progress on the Eastside.