Saturday, October 14, 2017

Cascadia would have qualified for the World Cup

People are dealing with the USMNT crashing out of World Cup qualification in different ways. This is just one way, but it is my way. So, if you came here to criticize my back-of-the-napkin pining then just keep that in mind. This isn't really a serious analysis of economics or world soccer. This is just me doing what I can to process the loss.

One of the most interesting books I've read in the past 10 years has been Soccernomics, a sort of Moneyball-centered book on world soccer. The authors attempt to boil down the essence of national team success to a handful of factors: total population, per capita income and experience in international soccer. While this doesn't really explain Brazil (poor and really good) or the United States (big, rich and bad) very well, it does explain the difference between Germany and England.

Before I go on, a few notes:

As you might tell, I'm not going to go through the practice of listing players born or somehow connected to Cascadia (Jordan Morris! Kelyn Rowe! DeAndre Yedlin!) and making the bold claim that they'd beat Trinidad and Tobago. We all know they would have. Also I've done that before and that's boring.

The map of Cascadia I'm using is not the bioregional one, but more of the Chile shaped one that Colin Woodard used in American Nations to described the Left Coast. I'm happier with this one, it seems more like a "nation." And if you came here to tell me that I'm wrong, well, this is all made up anyway and this is my blog. I've done this before also.

So, back to soccer and bad math.

So, would a totally fantasy Cascadian Republic have qualified for the World Cup? Short answer: yes. Hurray! I hate you Bruce Arena!

Long answer: absolutely. But we would have had a hard time beating the rest of the United States and Mexico. 

So, first things first, I only took the countries that were in this year's final qualifying round for North America (sorry Canada, punch your weight already) and added in Cascadia. For Cascadia I took all the counties on the west side of the Cascades in Oregon and Washington and added a bunch in California down to include most of the Bay Area (my map, my rules). I also didn't include the Cascadian parts of Canada because even though they'd be part of my Republic, I thought why make the napkin more complicated?

So, population and per capita income were pretty easy to figure out once I decided on geography. 

In terms of soccer experience I decided on World Cup games played since it was the first metric I could find. For Cascadia I decided it would be easier to just average the number of games played of every other team. That seemed fair.  Also, in this fantasy world, Cascadia has had decades of independence and developed a strong league system with well-rooted club teams in nearly all their communities. And promotion/relegation Also, don't tell me how this decades old history would have made my populations and per capita income figures meaningless. 

Then I just ranked the teams by each factor and averaged the rank. Total back of the napkin. And while the United States finished first in this ranking (grumblegrumblegrumble), Cascadia finished near the top, tied with Mexico. 

Average RankPopulationPer capita incomeExperience as WC matches played
United States (-Cascadia)1308,660,79858,03033
Costa Rica54,919,20215,75015
Trinidad and Tobago51,370,11130,8103
This Cascadian Republic is bigger than any of the Central or Caribbean countries and also richer per capita than anyone except the United States. It really did surprise me how much poorer per head Cascadians would be than USers. But our mediocre size and better than average wealth and average experience put us right up there with Mexico.

Mexico, who actually finished at the top of the qualifying group this year. But I'm sure Cascadia would have given them a run for their money.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Why downtown Olympia is more productive than the growing edge of Olympia (or Lacey or Tumwater)

Why would you want other parts of Thurston County (Lacey, westside Olympia and Tumwater) to become more like downtown Olympia? Because it is more valuable. Way more valuable.

Take two blocks, one nondescript block in downtown Olympia and another out in the westside.

Here's what you have in downtown Olympia:

These are about as nondescript as you can get in downtown. One story blocks, about six or so businesses. I'm looking only at the north end of this block between Capitol Way and Columbia Street, bounded on the north by 5th Avenue.

Taken together, these businesses cover about 30,000 square feet and pay over $38,000 in property taxes each year.

So, now let's move to the westside. This building is located at near the end of Harrison before it becomes Mud Bay:

In no way is this a new building. It was built in 1981 and the difference between it and the downtown half block is striking. The newest building in the downtown example dates to 1937. This westside building too is one story, but the lot it is one is dominated by road and parking. It was built in an era we're still living through when how you'd drive somewhere was the most important aspect in development. The need for parking makes this much larger parcel (at almost 45,000 feet), much less profitable with only $17,000 in property taxes.

This is a difference between $1.27 in taxes per square foot and $.37 per square foot. The price of providing space for cars and making neighborhoods unwalkable is real.

Strong Towns writes about this phenomenon, the older "blighted" areas of a community subsidizing the newer, shinier and automobile-centric developments. In the Strong Towns example, a series of closely packed buildings were leveled for a single Taco Johns, which removed much and the economic development from the land and replaced it with parking.

In an area like downtown Olympia, with even more housing coming on top of commercial activity, the need for large empty parking lots becomes less necessary. These aren't just people orientate places, but they're more productive by the acre.  

And, because even the dense part of downtown Olympia pays property taxes to both the city and the county, everyone benefits from the high density productivity of these blocks.

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

How Olympia's schools rate for immunization rates and why Lincoln is a good candidate for whooping cough

With the pertussis (whooping cough) outbreak at Lincoln Elementary, it's time to take another periodic deep dive into vaccination data for Olympia School District.

The last two times I've written about this I've done much higher altitude views, comparing Olympia and Thurston County to other areas. Now I want to take a deeper dive into the information, and go school by school. The state Department of Health provides data on a school by school basis.

So, I took that data and began cutting it up into smaller pieces. Here's what I was working with.
That last spreadsheet is where I came up with this map:

This is a map that plots non-medical immunization exemptions on file at each school with more than 100 students by rate. No surprise, Lincoln is top of the list. It also isn't that big of a surprise then that Lincoln is near the top of the schools with exemptions specifically citing pertussis at 12 percent.

Here is an explanation on how those exemptions work.

If you're somewhat aware of this issue, you've heard about herd immunity, or how the vaccination rate in a group of people that protects people who can't receive a vaccine. This is why a 12 percent exemption rate at Lincoln is sort of scary.

According to the CDC, an immunization rate of 94 percent is necessary to prevent pertussis from persisting in a community. That is above the 88 percent that the exemption rate at Lincoln would indicate is that school's immunization rate.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Shelton is the hotbed of Sanders to Trump voters in Washington State

A few days ago Brian Schaffner broke down some pretty deep data from the Cooperative Congressional Election Study to figure out that 12 percent of Sen. Bernie Sanders primary voters ended up voting for Donald Trump last November.

Most of the attention on this data so far has focussed on three rustbelt states where the Sanders voter splitting would have put Hillary Clinton over the top.

But the data set also attached locations to each voter it tracked, so it was possible to draw a map of where these Sanders-to-Trump folks lived.

And, guess what, Shelton I'm looking at you.

Overall, there were very few Sanders to Trump voters. Only 2.3 percent of voters in Washington that said they voted in a primary or precinct caucus for Bernie Sanders said they voted for Trump. That's obviously way less than the national average.

But you can read a few lessons from the map. Because of the low number of Sanders/Trump voters, most zip codes only had one survey respondent. Except for Shelton, which had three.

I was surprised that Grays Harbor and Pacific counties didn't report back any Sanders/Trump voters. One of storylines from last year was that those counties especially were attracted to Trump because of how his rhetoric lined up with their traditionally Democratic roots.

I also noticed a pattern in the Puget Sound zipcodes that recorded a Sanders/Trump voter. Only two of them were urban zip codes, despite having most of the population. The majority of them were in rural areas near the urban core. I wonder if there's something to read into that.

Thursday, August 03, 2017

"Olympia's power elite" is probably boxed in

Steve Salmi has a great rundown of yesterday's results in local elections over at Green Pages. But I think that his "rather groggy" assessment of how well progressives did in Olympia might be overblown.

In fact, what Salmi describes as Olympia's "power elite" are probably boxed in.

Take Position 5 as an example, where you see the power elite Allen Miller facing more usual pair of progressives, Deborah Lee and Lisa Parshley. Miller and Parshley will face off in the general in November, but together Parshley and Lee took 55 percent of the total citywide.

November will be a much different election than August. Voter turnout will be up throughout the city in the fall, but not in a uniform manner. Each precinct behaves different and if you look at where Miller did well, the future doesn't bode well.

In the sixteen precincts that Miller won, taking into consideration voter turnout in 2013 and 2015, he can expect a 64 percent increase in turnout. But in the precincts he lost, the turnout would go up 71 percent. If you just narrow that down to his 16 bottom precincts, where he'd do the worst, turnout goes up 79 percent in November. The further Miller goes from his base of support, the more turnout will go up in November. This isn't good news for a candidate who didn't break 50 percent in the primary.

Despite besting his opponents, Miller also seems boxed in geographically:

Here is the clickable map:

Basically, Miller's base of support is on the far edges of the Westside or in the traditionally conservative (for Olympia) unwalkable neighborhoods in the Southeast. He did take a couple of neighborhoods near Budd Inlet, but these were two of his worst performing precincts. Lee and Parshley not only did better citywide, but their geographic spread goes much further, covering practically the entire city, short of the Southeast.

If you take a quick look at Position 6 race where power elite Jeanine Roe and progressive Renata Rollins are both advancing, you see Roe in nearly the same position as Miller. She won the primary, but without cracking 50 percent. Again, the precincts that she won will see a smaller increase in November (62 percent) vs. the ones she lost (73 percent). Also, the geography of her win is isolated to nearly the same precincts won by Miller (plus South Capitol vs. minus a couple of Budd Inlet precincts).

Friday, July 28, 2017

Is Capitol Lake done as a local issue?

Allen Miller scrubbed Capitol Lake from his city council campaign website recently. Does this mean that defending Capitol Lake is no longer an important issue in Olympia?

As recently as June 14, this is how Miller's website read:

How it reads this morning:

He still refers to a Percival Cove Coho Habitat Restoration Project, which is a way that Capitol Lake defenders wrap themselves in pro-salmon rhetoric. But, he took away any actual reference to the lake itself.

This is just less than a year after Miller switched his endorsement from Jim Cooper to John Hutchings in the county commission race almost solely on the lake issue:
I have endorsed John Hutchings in the general election since his views are more in sync with voters. This was a difficult decision, since I am friends with Jim Cooper and worked with him on the successful Olympia Metropolitan Parks District measure last year. But Jim’s advocacy for an unconstitutional city income tax and to return Capitol Lake to mud flats is troubling.
Six years ago Miller went as far as declaring that Capitol Lake was THE election issue in town. In that election, lake supporters Dick Pust, Rhenda Strub and Brian Tomlinson all lost.

And now it seems like the tide has turned for the issue of whether we should restore the Deschutes Estuary where Capitol Lake now is. Both of Miller's opponents are pro-estuary restoration. Jim Cooper likely will retain his seat and is pro-estuary. Both Max Brown and Clark Gilman have endorsed some level of estuary restoration. In the last position, Jeannine Roe (the incumbent) has been historically pro-lake, but certainly hasn't been making an issue of it on her website or voter statement. Both of her opponents though, Renata Rollins and Michael Snodgrass, are pro-restoration.

All of this really shouldn't be that surprising because a 2009 public opinion poll by the city of Olympia laid out the raw material for what we're seeing now. Back then it was clear that eventually the tide would turn against the lake.

The poll showed that while Olympia residents weren't lining up explicitly behind estuary restoration, the values they brought to the debate certainly did. In the Olympia survey, 70 percent said that water quality, fish and wildlife was their most important consideration, and 74 percent said it was “extremely important.”

Fifty-nine percent said that keeping the cost the taxpayers low was either important or very important (44 percent). Only 11 percent said that maintaining the look of the lake was important, 36 percent said it was very important.

Eight years later we see a city that is much more well versed on the estuary vs. lake issue and lake defenders that have stopped mostly talking about the beauty of the lake and are trying to defend it as a good thing for nature.

But, if even Allen Miller is removing references to the lake from his website, what good is Capitol Lake as an issue?

Disclaimer: I work for the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission and indirectly for the Squaxin Island Tribe, who has a dog in the estuary fight. The above opinions are mine and not necessarily those of the commission or the tribe.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Does Thurston County need a convention district? And why like this?

It feels like we just had this talk. But it was actually ten years ago.

Despite being mentioned by probably nearly no one (or at least not anyone I remember hearing) during last year's campaign, the Thurston County commission has started the slow process of building a convention center.

The weirdest part of the proposal to start a process that might lead to a convention center is that they're choosing to use an archaic mechanism.

Instead of using the Public Facilities District route (of which we already have one), the commissioners are proposing to to a Cultural Arts, Stadium and Convention District. While the law creating public facility districts was passed in 1988 (and expanded to cities in 1999), convention districts were created in 1982 and never seemed to get off the ground.

The primary difference between the older convention district and the newer public facility districts is that the convention districts were much more democratic, and therefore, much easier to oppose funding. Convention districts require a series of elections before they can break down, while public facility districts are created by a combination of willing city and county legislative boards.

While the public can engage with those elected boards, it isn't like they have a direct say in an election.

Today, there are at least 25 operating public facility districts operating across Washington State and not a single convention districts. In fact, in the late 80s Snohomish County struggled for years to use a convention district to build a convention center in Lynnwood. Finally in the late 90s, as city-based PFDs were coming on line, the Lynnwood convention district made one last try and failed.

From the Seattle Times in 1998:
For the third time since 1986, voters this week squelched a district proposal to build some combination of a performing-arts theater and convention hall. But this defeat was the most crushing, with 75 percent of nearly 79,500 voters saying "no." 
The leading theory behind the loss: Voters didn't want property taxes to pay for a project that would benefit private businesses - especially Lynnwood hotels, restaurants and pubs. One study found the project would directly pump $9.1 million per year into the local economy; with indirect benefits, that figure would jump to $16.2 million. 
The next year, the legislature gave Snohomish County the ability to quickly kill their failed convention district, but also the tools to start up a more nimble and less democratic public facilities district.

Using the public facility district model that doesn't actually have to go to the voters for funding, Lynnwood was later able to build their convention center.

From the Seattle Times in 2005:
The $34 million Lynnwood Convention Center opened May 1 with lofty expectations of drawing thousands of people to the city's restaurants, hotels and shops. 
The convention center's success was immediate. Gross revenue through November was $650,000, 15 percent more than anticipated. In its first seven months, the center hosted 208 events, said Grant Dull, the executive director of the Lynnwood Public Facilities District. 
It's not yet known how much of that success has trickled down to the city and local businesses, but they are expected to reap $13 million in annual economic benefits by the center's third year.
So, why is Thurston County choosing a less likely to succeed method to build a public facility?

One reason is obvious, we already have an operating public facilities district in Thurston County. It is run by the three cities and Thurston County and funds, at least in part, the Hands on Children's Museum and the Regional Athletic Center. With that route taken up, the only taxing district option to build a convention center is the old convention district.

Which also sort of begs the question, when the local Public Facilities District started up, why didn't they build a convention center? Turns out it was a pretty unpopular idea. Even in the less democratic process, people in Olympia engaged and turned out to vote for candidates that did not support spending public money on a convention center downtown.

Makes you think it would be hard for something like that to actually survive a public vote.