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Law and politics in Northwest Indian country

Indian Law attorney named to state panel on foster care

SEATTLE - Julio Carranza, an Indian law attorney and advocate for children in foster care, has been named to the state Supreme Court;s Commission on Children in Foster Care.

Carranza lived in foster care as a child in California and Idaho. He earned a J.D. from Brigham Young University Law School and practices in the Seattle office of Williams Kastner.

The commission was established in 2005 to improve the working relationship between Washington courts and child welfare agencies. The commission monitors and reports on the level of responsiveness of the courts and child welfare programs to the needs of foster children; works to increase public awareness and support; and works to diversify the range of outreach prospects beyond individual agency directors and elected officials.

It is co-chaired by state Supreme Court Justice Bobbe J. Bridge and Uma Ahluwalia, director of the Children's Administration in the Department of Social and Health Services. Other commissioners include state Attorney General Rob McKenna and state Sen. James Hargrove.

Carranza's dedication to children and youth translates into his Indian law practice, as he aspires to represent Native families in various legal matters. He was recently appointed to the Mockingbird Society board of directors, where he will help the nonprofit organization advocate for Native and Hispanic foster youth throughout Washington.

Native Women's Leadership Forum May 8

OCEAN SHORES, Wash. - One woman is the first American Indian woman elected to the Washington state Senate. Another could be the first American Indian woman elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

They will be among the participants in the sixth annual Native Women's Leadership Forum & Enduring Spirit Honoring Luncheon, May 8 at the Quinault Beach Resort. The theme is ''The Emerging Force of Native Women in Politics.'' To register, visit www.nwnativeinfo.com.

Keynote speaker is Mary Kim Titla, San Carlos Apache. The former news reporter and online magazine publisher is a candidate for Arizona's 1st District seat in Congress.

Quinault Nation President Fawn Sharp, an attorney, will welcome participants. A panel discussion ''Native Women - 2008 & Beyond,'' will follow, featuring former Quinault President Pearl Capoeman-Baller; state Sen. Claudia Kauffman, Nez Perce; Julie Johnson, Lummi; and Lona Wilbur, Swinomish.

The forum is targeted to women of all ages, including girls in grades 6 - 12. There will be workshops on career development, filmmaking, media, preserving and documenting family history, running for office, small business and more. At the luncheon, four women will be honored for their commitment to building strong, healthy Native communities.

Workshop presenters include Kristina Logsdon of Progressive Majority, which recruits and develops candidates and works for racial justice; Tracy Rector, Seminole, director of Longhouse Media; Monica Simeon, Spokane, co-owner of Sister Sky Bath and Body Care; and Veronica Tiller, Jicarilla Apache, of Bow Arrow Publishing.

Business groups endorse Rossi for governor

SEATTLE - Former state Sen. Dino Rossi, Tlingit, has been endorsed in the governor's race by the National Federation of Independent Business and the Washington Association of Realtors.

Members of the NFIB voted overwhelmingly in March to endorse Rossi over Gov. Christine Gregoire, who defeated Rossi for the governorship in 2004 by 133 votes out of about 2.8 million cast. The realtors' endorsement followed interviews of Gregoire and Rossi by a 17-member candidate interview team.

Gregoire's latest budget has a $1.2 billion surplus and includes $144 million in new spending for affordable housing, flood disaster relief, hospital patient safety and sex offender tracking. The state unemployment rate is 4.9 percent, lower than the U.S. rate of 5.1 percent. She has initiated a program to improve the health of Puget Sound's waters by 2020.

But NFIB state director Troy Nichols said Washington has one of the most expensive workers' compensation systems in the country, the health care system is burdened by regulations that limit access and affordability, and the transportation system is failing.

''[Rossi] will ease tax and regulatory burdens and he'll work hard to change the culture of Olympia toward customer service,'' Nichols said.

Bill Riley, the realtors association's vice president of government affairs, said housing is a priority for Rossi. ''[He] understands the need to address the lack of housing affordability that's pushing home ownership further and further from the reach of middle-income families.''

Two Native colleges urged to vote

LUMMI, Wash. - Heritage University and Northwest Indian College participated in Secretary of State Sam Reed's campaign to urge thousands of students to exercise their First Amendment rights and vote.

Reed visited 28 colleges during Washington's third annual College Civics Week, a five-day campaign to promote civic responsibility and voter education, April 14 - 18.

''We hope to capitalize on the remarkable spirit of this generation,'' Reed said in announcing the campaign. ''[Students are] dedicated. They're savvy. They're civically engaged.''

Reed visited Northwest Indian College on the Lummi reservation April 14, and Heritage University on the Yakama reservation April 16.

Students organized a wide range of events, including barbecues, classroom visits, discussion panels, pancake feeds, voter registration drives, and even a pajama breakfast jam and a game show, ''Are You Smarter than Sam Reed?''

Learn more at www.secstate.wa.gov/elections/collegecivics.aspx.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.