Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some Coug from Tumwater files for the open Brendan Williams legislative seat

I've never heard of this guy, but he sounds like a pretty qualified and uhmmm... ambitious fellow.

Via email:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: Chris Reykdal
December 30, 2009
(360) 790-3151

CHRIS REYKDAL TO RUN FOR 22nd DISTRICT HOUSE SEAT

OLYMPIA – Last night, Tumwater School Board member Chris Reykdal announced his candidacy for the 22nd District House seat being vacated by incumbent Representative Brendan Williams.

“There is something lacking in the politics we see today,” said Reykdal, a Democrat who resides in Tumwater with his wife Kim and their 5 year old son Carter and 3 year old daughter Kennedy. “I am running for State Representative so that all of our children are handed a community that is better than the one handed to us.”

Chris Reykdal was first elected to the Tumwater School Board in 2007, and previously served for three years on the City Planning Commission. He is a former legislative staffer, High School teacher and the current Deputy Executive Director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Chris will bring with him to the legislature a comprehensive knowledge of education issues that is second to none.

“Our state is facing unprecedented challenges,” continued Reykdal, “We have avoided critical conversations for too long – from education funding, to environmental protection, to tax reform. I pledge to the citizens of the 22nd District that if they send me to the Legislature, I will take the tough votes and work tirelessly to secure the values that make our community a wonderful place to raise our families.”

Chris Reykdal understands the struggles so many families across the 22nd District are facing because he’s faced these challenges himself. The youngest of eight kids, Chris was raised in Snohomish. With the help of food stamps and Government assistance, the Reykdal family persevered. Through the hard work of both Chris and his family, he was able to attend Washington State University, where he was the President of the College Democrats. He met his wife Kim at WSU and they attended graduate school together at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

In the legislature, Chris Reykdal will work every day on behalf of families struggling to make ends meet, just as his family struggled in his youth.

“I am heartbroken at the thought that my kids and their generation may be the first in American history to experience a lower standard of living than the generation before them. One person, one legislator, one dad can’t turn this around by himself, but I am deeply committed to adding my talents and passion to a body of distinguished legislators who do have the power to make a historical difference in the lives of future Washingtonians.”

###


The only thing that makes me wonder about announcements like these is their impersonal nature. Its written the same way most press releases are, as faux news stories, quoting in this case the obvious author. If you're quoting yourself, why not just write a nice message?

"Hey, I'm Chris, I'm running for state representative."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Review in five thoughts of "Olympia: a People's History"

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Olympia, the city published a collection of historical essays. I picked it up a copy from the library a few days ago, and have a few thoughts.

1. I don't like that the edition was hardback, I don't like that the content is copyrighted. Hardback, 8.5x11 books are a bummer to read, seem worth keeping on your bookshelf as collectibles than actually reading them.

Also, while its not illegal for a local government entity to copyright a work, its not something I'm a big fan of. We should consider why the federal government is not allowed to copyright, and then think about why our taxes are used to put together content that we are not all free to use.

2. Using the phrase "People's History" is curious. Typically, something titled "People's History" is a reference to the seminal Howard Zinn history or an offshoot that Zinn himself edited. This book is obviously not of that series, and less obviously, doesn't even follow the same theme.

3. That's not to say that there aren't some good sections in the book. The sections on Rebecca Howard, Women, the Chinese Community and (in part) Little Hollywood were what I thought the book would be. Unrepresented stories of Olympia's history that don't get told much.

Its interesting that the most fascinating chapter and a topic I've never seen discussed anywhere else (Rebecca Brown) was written by the least experienced of the writers.

4. Important points of history missed.

The essay on John Miller Murphy by Roger Easton was pretty good, but it paints Miller as a up from the bootstraps newspaperman. An important part Easton missed on Murphy's return to Olympia in 1860 was that he came back to establish a Republican newspaper in 1860 near the beginning of the Civil War. Democrats up to that point had been in charge of territorial politics, but with the Democrats also leading the fight to secede in the South, Republicans were ready to take the advantage in Washington.

Daeg Aerlic Byrne's essay on Little Hollywood misses the point on why the city in the late 30s worked to remove the shanytown. In the paragraph that he writes that "something changed" and that "no available document explains why" Olympia city fathers would want to do away with Little Hollywood, he Byrne also names what exactly changed. The year before the city moved to get rid of Little Hollywood, the state legislature began funding what would eventually become Capitol Lake. Before they built the lake, they had to get rid of the shantytown, its pretty simple.

5. Still worth checking out from the library too. The book itself is a bit high priced ($35), but it does go to a good cause (the Bigelow House museum). What this book did spell out to me is the need to collect and encourage ongoing scholarship about Olympia's history.

Maybe after a year of selling the original run, why not post the essays online (minus copyrighted images) and develop an online historical journal?

TDN uses initiative results to draw a bad conclusion in WA3

The WA3 may very well be a swing district, but you shouldn't use the recent ballot initiative results to prove it, as the TDN did last week:

While voters across the state soundly defeated a Tim Eyman anti-tax measure and, by a narrower margin, supported the rights of same-sex couples in November, Southwest Washington voters in the 3rd Congressional District had other ideas.

By a small margin, the 3rd District backed Initiative 1033, Eyman's proposal to cap government tax collections. And by six percentage points, the 3rd District defeated Referendum 71, which extended rights to elderly and same-sex couples similar to those given to married couples.

The numbers, released this month by the Secretary of State's office, are further evidence that the district can be fickle about its politics — and why political pundits say next year's battle to replace outgoing Congressman Brian Baird will be a donnybrook that could become the most expensive campaign in state history.


As I wrote last week, there are two reasons to reject this premise:

1. If you are using initiative results, the 3rd was much more conservative last time there was an open race, when Baird beat a Republican by a healthy margin.

2. The No on 1033 campaign did not compete on the air in SW Washington. If they had spent any money in the Portland television market, the narrow win by 1033 would have been a loss.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No so much a leftist rejection (and not so tough terrain) in the WA3

Clark County Politics and Politico (and I'm sure tons of people in the next few months will do the same) dusted off the election results from last month to predict a Democratic loser in the open WA3 race. It seems like a good strategy, but it appears to me that saying that an approval of I-1033 and a rejection of R-71 doesn't necessarily predict a loss for a Democrat next November.

Here's why.

The last time there was an open seat in the WA3, Brian Baird beat state Rep. Don Benton 55 to 45 percent (Baird pulling down 49k in Clark County, Benton 46k). If the logic that CCP holds was true back then, WA3 voters, and Clark County voters in particular, should have approved some liberal ballot measures in 1997/98.

Well, turns out that didn't happen. Turns out the WA3 voters seemed more conservative back then then they are now.

In 1997, voters in the counties that make up the 3rd (couldn't hit it on the nose) rejected a measure that would have given homosexuals workplace protections. Anyone would admit that this measure was considerably more limited in scope that this year's. But, it actually did worse in 1997 than the more broader measure this year (44 in 1997 to 47 approval in 2009).

By the way, here are my calculations, the data is of course from the Secretary of State's office.

A year after Baird was elected, the voters in the counties that make up the 3rd (again, not exactly the same) approved Tim Eyman's first anti-tax initiative I-695 with a whopping 61 percent. Ten years later I-1033 barely skates by in the 3rd with a 50.27% yes vote.

Not exactly a conservative mandate, and not a good way to explain how a conservative will win in 2010. If Brian Baird was able to beat Don Benton with similar ballot measure results reflecting an even more conservative WA3 in the late 90s, a Democrat should actually have a better time this time around.

But, I don't think there's any connection between ballot measures and congressional elections, and here's why:

Measures are a statewide vote and congressional campaigns are regional. This matters in the sense of where a particular campaign will spend its money. A campaign for or against a ballot measure will seem to spend t.v. money where its most needed, Seattle and Spokane (where the people are) and the Tri-Cities (probably because its pretty cheap).

One of the places where they won't is in the Portland market because its expensive to spend there and you're spending on very few of the Washington residents in the SW corner of the state who make up that particular market.

And, that's exactly what No on 1033 did last year. That campaign spent money on television advertising in every part of the state, except where it would reach voters in Brian Baird's district. Negative advertising in ballot measure elections tends to convince people to vote no as a safe alternative.

So, if the I-1033 campaign had given SW Washington (and therefore the 3rd) the attention it had given the rest of the state, that measure would probably have failed there too.

Hardly a "leftist rejection in the 3rd."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Olympia will be on the sidelines in the WA3

Though Politico first called the WA 3rd an "Olympia area district" when this entire replacing Baird drama started, its quickly sussing out to be all about Vancouver. Or near Vancouver.

With all due respect to Cheryl Crist, that Brendan Williams held onto his hat yesterday put the final nail in the coffin for any major influence Thurston County liberals will have in this election. And, even though Denny Heck graduated as a geoduck and now lives in Olympia, the last people who successfully elected him to anything were in the 17th LD.

Even one of Heck's biggest political achievements is one of those cross boarder issues that only people who live in Washington but shop in Oregon care about:

Q. What was your proudest accomplishment during your years in politics?

A. The Tuition Reciprocity Act, which allowed people in Clark County to attend Oregon state universities at resident tuition rates. There was no publicly supported four-year college or university within commuting distance. You could go to Clark College, which I did, but if you were place-bound, you could not complete your college education unless you could afford the non-resident tuition rates at Portland State University or the private college rates at University of Portland and Reed College, etc.
Olympia-as-a-city isn't even completely in the district. A good portion of the NE part of the city is in the neighboring 9th, along with a good portion of the rest of urban Thurston County.


Olympia and Vancouver are the two liberal bookends to a district that is mostly Republican (aside from Grays Harbor and Pacific County, but they elect a different sort of Democrat). But, Olympia is not in the gravitational pull of Vancouver, and it'll be troubling to watch how we're pulled into and possibly muted in this election.

So, what are these political differences that I vaguley refer to that separate Vancouver from Olympia?

1. General garden variety "I live so close to Oregon" issues. If a big city like Vancouver didn't exist in the 3rd, these wouldn't crop up because you wouldn't have a large enough constituency that wanted to shop tax free. Or, go to school in Oregon, or want to treat Oregon like it was part of Washington or vice versa.

2. Columbia River vs. Puget Sound.
Both are big natural resources arenas with different issues. Which gets your attention, which gets the money?

3. Evergreen State College vs. WSU Vancouver.
Even though Evergreen was established with at least the partial mission of being the 4 year institution that serves Southwest Washington, one could argue WSU Vancouver now either actually fills that role or competes very closely with it. Although it has about half the enrollment of Evergreen, it is much closer to the region's population center and has a more mainstream brand. What would serve you better as a congressman? Building up WSU Vancouver or Evergreen?

4. Transportation. How we get to Seattle vs. how we get to Portland.

Thurston County budgeting some Web 2.0

They approved a budget today, which from what I can tell includes this:
• Redesign county website with a modern easy-to-use look and feel.
• Utilize Web 2.0 technology (example: Twitter) to disseminate information to
public in a timely useful manner.
But, there's a nuance point to be made here, that in the budget document they still want to "disseminate" rather than "engage" or "exchange." The real power of Web 2.0 isn't to get information in front of passive eyes (although the web has great power to do that) its to have a dialogue.

I think it'll take more than a new website and tools to create a culture of online exchange at the county.

The geography and politics of crime in Thurston County's invisible city

Zeroing in on where exactly someone was shot last night near here. First cut, NWCN email:

Not Lacey, but you can't blame them for thinking that.

Getting closer, at at least technically true by mailing address, is KIRO:


And, hitting the nail on the head is the Olympian:



The murder happened just on the edge of urban northern Thurston County, unincorporated, but as KIRO put it, a "crowded neighborhood" with obviously urban issues.


View Larger Map

This area (Thurston County's Invisible City) is the third largest city behind Olympia and Lacey is is policed by a county sherrif's department that had admitted it is grossly understaffed.

You could point to the recent flare up between the county sheriff and the county commissioners on staffing and say that the commissioners should have given him more funds, but you'd wrong to look there. I think that battle was more of a symptom that the actual disease.

The real problem is that a county sheriff department is left holding the bag with the job of policing a city that does not exist. This is why we have city governments, because people living in high enough densities need a more intense level of government service, like police.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can the Tea Baggers scuttle Jamie Herrera?

Well, this is interesting news. The most interesting thing so far I've seen out of the new, exciting and open WA3:

Our resident political opportunist, Jaime Herrera, is an interesting person. She portrays herself as something of a conservative. But a questionable voting record serves to make me wonder. Is she exaggerating about that the same way she exaggerated about her background to get the appointment in the first place?

My complete familiarity of her appointment process and the horrific manipulation of it was something I'd mentioned in the past. This made it pretty clear to others with information exactly where I stood.

So, we begin with today's tidbit: the fact that Jamie Herrera appears to have been ACORN'S Representative in the House.

ACORN and SEIU are synonymus with leftist thuggery of the variety we've seen practiced over the past several months in support of Obama. Who hasn't seen the tapes of ACORN's corruptive influence?

Well, here's a few of the votes that Herrera took that tends to show exactly where she stands on those issues important to the SEIU... and, by extension, to ACORN.


It seems like conservatives down Vancouver way were ready for Rep. Herrera to get into the race so they could start painting her.

Last time around, the Republican chamber of commerce centrist got beat out by the Ron Paul sort of candidate. This was despite her getting the endorsement of the organized Republicans in the district.

So, if one of Herrera's opponents can raise a little money and tie her name with ACORN in the district, is she toast?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why doesn't Thurston County post food inspection reports online?

Another line of thought for this longer line of thought. I had the curiosity this morning to look at the county's website and poke around for food inspection reports. Seems like a pretty basic thing to post online, right? Nope.

Well, that's not all that surprising, I guess, not everything that is interesting gets posted (see city council packets in Lacey). Kitsap and Pierce counties do.

But, what is really interesting, is this note:
The Health Dept conducts periodic inspections of food establishments to help prevent the spread and reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. Violations are corrected through a combination of education and technical assistance.

Our food service inspection reports are available through The Olympian newspaper or you may request copies of inspections from our office by completing a Request for Public Information Form...

So, I can fill out a form or read it in the Olympian. I'm assuming they email the information to the Olympian and I'm assuming I could email the request form to the county. So why can't the county post the actual reports online?

This seems like one of the duties that a daily newspaper used to have to serve in a local community, gathering and disseminating essential data collected by the government. Births, deaths, marriages, food safety inspections are all important, but there's no reason now why they can't just immediately be posted.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potentially very funny



If this turns out to be a joke, then it'll be great. Especially if they do a good job with it. If it turn out to be serious, well, then I guess I'll have to put up with it. Not that I don't like the idea of a parking garage downtown, there is just too much good stuff out there for jokes.

Also, if this was a serious attempt to promote the idea of a parking garage, I think it would be better to have done it as a fan page or group, rather than a personal account. That said, if it is the parking garage wondering why we haven't built it yet, then all the better. Funny.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Should Zach Smith run for the state legislature?

Via email this morning:

Dear friends,

As you may already know, there will be a vacancy in the 22nd District House of Representatives. Voters in our district have enjoyed a long tradition of strong representation on the hill. I am confident that with careful consideration and good planning voters will continue to elect candidates that represent and aggressively pursue issues important to our community.

I have taken the first steps to form an exploratory committee to determine my viability as a candidate and ultimately your voice for the 22nd District Washington State House of Representatives.

Please contact me with your ideas, thoughts and any input you think might be important regarding my candidacy for this position.

Sincerely,

Zach Smith
...


What I know about Zach Smith:

He's a super involved local Democrat, serving in several capacities in the state and local Dems. He's a pretty smart and nice guy, but when it comes down to agreeing with him on things, I usually differ.

Ok, I agree with him on the public policy issues that most Democrats agree on, unions, spending, etc. But, where we differ is in the part machinations stuff. So, on things like the Top Two primary and caucuses, he and I differ.

Which isn't a bad thing entirely, its just how things are.

Today's Lympians! (let's change the constitution for Carrie Prejean!)

OOoooo! ooo! I have one!











Oooh, darnit:

The Twelfth Amendment states that "no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." Thus, to serve as Vice President, an individual must:

* Be a natural-born U.S. citizen;
* Not be younger than 35 years old; and
* Have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Disgusting anti-police graffiti (ELF out on the westside)

Good God:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

And:

Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

ELF
.

I'm a graduate of Evergreen State and so is my wife and many, many of my friends. If you're a supporter of Evergreen State, take a close look at this because this is why people hate our school. And, our town for that matter.

I'm not a big fan of Scott Roberts, but I'm willing to give him a few bucks to replace his sign, quickly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rhenda Strub's response to people thinking she's a big meany

Via email, her response to a constituent who asked her about the incident:

I appreciate your concern. There is much more to the exchange between Mr. Segal and myself than is apparent to the public. I have a history with him. He does not like me and I hold him in low regard as well. I think he is a man who engages in politics as if it were a blood sport and I have little patience for that. I also believe he came to the first meeting after the election to gloat because some of the people he supported won. His comments were entirely politically motivated and wrong. He was wrong on the facts and he was wrong in his demeanor. I called him on it. For that I will not apoligize. Rather he should apologize for using an issue as important as how much money the City of Olympia spends on social services as a ploy to dig at Joan Machlis and Doug Mah. This is an issue very dear to my heart. I want to spend more money on the poor and hungry. Mr. Segal almost certainly knows that. He also knows I have advocated for two years to build a dog park. He coupled those two issues in his remarks to insult me along with spewing his venom for Joan and Doug. We don't deserve that sort of treatment from anybody and I just won't sit quietly and take it from Mr. Segal who doesn't even live in Olympia but comes to our chambers regularly to engage in his sport.

Olympia spends $3.76 per citizen to fund social service agencies as recommended by the Human Services Review Council (HSRC--which is the interjurisdictional board that has, for the last 18 years, has been the place we all come together to provide some relief to the homeless and hungry). Last year, Thurston County, eliminated its funding to HSRC. This year, Commissioners have indicated they may be able to spend $50,000. If so, that would put them at 36 cents per citizen. That's not all county citizens either, that's just the ones who live in areas unincorprated by any city. Stephen Segal is such a citizen. He lives in unincorporated Thurston County. I really believe that if his concerns for the poor were genuine, as are mine, he would be leading a public effort to get Thurston County to increase its level of social service funding. Who better to fight for it than a person who enjoys political engagement and has strong speaking skills? Why would you not do that if you really cared about poor and hungry people more than you cared about hammering a political opponent you had just bested in an election? But, there he was coming before the Olympia City Council after election day to wag his finger at us. We are people who work hard for the City of Olympia and are already doing much, much more than anybody else to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. His words were repugnant, his motivation transparent, and his manner disrespectful. I won't apologize for responding to him as I did.

As for Ms. Gates, her concern for Mr. Segal's welfare may have been genuine. Perhaps she really sees him as a victim and thinks him incapable of fighting his own battles. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and did not respond to her remarks. I can't imagine why you think I would owe her an apology. I did suspect at the time that she was using the podium to launch her 2011 election campaign, but I kept silent on it. Mr. Segal was in the chamber long enough to watch Ms. Gates make her comments. He did not speak for himself but stood in the back glaring at me while his advocate, who was visibly nervous, spoke on his behalf. Ms. Gates strikes me as a woman deeply committed to her community and I respect her for that. But she is wrong about the interaction between Mr. Segal and me. I was not unprofessional, I gave him all the respect he deserved, and I will do it again if he brings his game back to the Olympia City Council Chambers.

On a positive note, I look forward to working amiably with my new colleagues on the Council. I have already met privately with two of them and have pledged to do my best to help them be successful in their new roles. I have offered to meet with the third and hope to do that soon. The citizens of Olympia deserve our best effort, not more political gamesmanship. I only wish everybody understood that.

Sincerely,

Rhenda Iris Strub
Olympia City Councilmember


It does sort of support my original point, that Rhenda may have been pointed with her original comments. But, if Segall was in the room when Janine was talking Tuesday night, he should have stood up for himself.

I'm just going to throw this out, but maybe Rhenda should bring cookies to the next city council meeting. Just a suggestion.

Lets not talk back to people, so they can feel brave enough to talk to Rhenda Strub

Janine Gates' thoughts about how Olympia city councilmember Rhenda Strub can be a meany sometimes are posted up at Olyblog early this moring. Here's the important part, I'd say read the whole thing too:

...I feel compelled to comment on Councilmember Strub’s inappropriate tirade against a Mr. Steve Segall who testified before you last week. It doesn’t matter what he testified about, but in this case, he was giving his viewpoints, with the best of his knowledge, on homelessness issues and dog park funding.

Ms. Strub, as we know, it is hard enough to get people to come to city hall and get up the nerve to speak publicly about anything. Your verbal attack toward him personally, and against his testimony, as I watched it live from home on TCTV, was shocking and unwarranted.

I would like to thank Councilmember Joe Hyer for immediately expressing his opinion that Mr. Segall had every right to speak to city issues - if he hadn’t, one could think that Ms. Strub spoke for all of you.
Here is audio of the actual exchange.










Ok, maybe Rhenda was being a bit pointed, but you can't at all argue with her logic.

Olympia does spend a lot of money on the homeless and a lot more than the local government of which Mr. Segall is a citizen. He has every right to come into Olympia or Lacey or Tumwater to give his thoughts (and he's obviously not shied away from coming into Olympia).

So, yes, for Pete's sake, let's let Mr. Segall commute in from the suburban sprawl out in the county to give his public comment. And, if he's way off base, have a city council member correct him (maybe in a more friendly tone). But, don't pretend that is was some major sin. Being active means having people disagree with you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to download Olympia city council videos

Spurred on by a report of some fun stuff at the city council meeting last week (turned out to be a yawner, but that's for later), I went to the city website looking to download the video. There's actually a feed for a podcast, but content hasn't been put on that particular feed since 2007.

There's also a roundabout way to download the videos via the stream their published on.

But, the most direct way is to poke around for an RSS feed that the city's contractor publishes on the video front page. There is no direct link to it, but if you're using Firefox, you click on the radio logo in the URL bar, and its the first one in the list that pops down.

Here is the direct link.

From that feed, you should be able to find a link to a .wmv file that is published in no other place on the city's or their video hosting contractor's website. The files are usually more than 200MB, but if that doesn't bother you, you can download a useable file to edit and repost as you see fit. I mean, if you live in Olympia, you're paying for it, so you might as well use it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here comes Olympia Power & Light

Which is a pretty cool name for a newspaper, especially one that strives to "bridge the gap between big media coverage and blogs." Which you will do how exactly, Matt?

Well, here are some friendly ideas:

1. Be like the Portland Sentinel. Put your content online before you print. Of course, hold some big feature stuff back for the print edition, but since the paper is only coming out "fortnightly," (links to pdf) you can keep stuff rolling by putting it online. The Sentinel calls itself a "neighborhood news forum," which totally embraces the bloggy spirit of the organization

2. Nice name, now you need a killer logo. The paper is sort of plane Jane right now.

I'm thinking of something along the lines of the logo used by Andrew Rasiej when he ran for public advocate in NYC a few years back.



Which was of course based on the old TVA logo.

3. Bring in voices from across the blogosphere. I was thinking of something a few months back, putting together a local blog digest. Taking what stuff I could pull from Olyblog, Jim Anderson's various efforts and other locally focussed blogs and putting it in a downloadable pdf. Maybe someone would run off copies and leave them around town.

I never got around to it, but it seemed like a good way to bridge the gap between the local blogosphere and folks that want a printed piece to hold on to.

4. Super happy someone is picking up this project. Ever since the Sitting Duck (which I had no love for anyway) left, there's been a need for something like this. Glad is seems pointed in the right direction too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is running a primary opponent against Baird (or any other Dem who voted against health care) a bad idea?

In the last week or so, I've heard some amazement about Rep. Brian Baird's vote against the health care package in the house. This is amazingly similar to the shock that local Dems felt over two years ago when Baird announced he was going to support a Republican plan in Iraq.

Baird ended up facing a somewhat weak opponent who couldn't rally enough support to win the primary or a vote of Precinct Committee Officers to win the nomination.

If he ends up facing a much stronger Republican (he smoked his opponent in 2008) or more than token Democratic opposition, its interesting to see folks reactions. You would think that a city council-member from the most liberal corner of Baird's district would rip into him, but no.

Says Joe Hyer (sorry for the long cut and paste but this came over email):

I have heard a lot in the past two weeks about our Congressman, Brian Baird...most of it negative. And I have to say, I have been a little bit surprised. I support health care reform- check that, reform doesn't go far enough, I support a health care revolution. I think it should be universal, accessible, and cover everyone.

I also believe that we will have NO WAY to achieve this or any other goal (strong education, a social service net, a healthy environment, infrastructure, etc) if our economy fails, or our government goes bankrupt. We are seeing TRILLION dollar deficits at this point ... when just 5 years ago, we were criticizing those who caused deficits of a few hundred million. The long term economic costs of a deficit this size are monumental. Couple that to the unfunded mandate of health care for our veterans returning from the War, social security, and our falling apart infrastructure ... and the federal budget becomes FAR more significant of an issue than any other we face.
If we cannot finance solutions, then we cannot solve ANY of our problems in this country.

And the federal deficit and national debt or massive, massive problems that will stifle growth, eliminate our chance to solve problems, and potentially cause an economic collapse on a global scale. You can only print money for so long before someone asks if it is worth anything. Yes, most of this debt was created under republican Presidents ... but that's neither here nor there at this point- it's our debt, and we have to deal with it.

I have not heard anyone disagreeing with Brian Baird's REASONING on the health care vote. Let's know HOW MUCH IT COSTS before we approve a package. Sure it's only estimates ... but if we are going to increase the deficit with this package, perhaps it creates a stronger argument to scale back our foreign military commitments in the next two years. Perhaps it indicates we need stronger revenue streams to offset this. The real issue- the DEBT and size of the DEFICIT, is going to be underlying ANY initiatives the president wants to accomplish.

Over the last 30 years, the data shows that Democrats are fiscally conservative on spending and taxes, and Republicans are building up huge debts and deficits. So why is it that the perception in this country is that republicans are fiscally conservative, and democrats are 'tax and spend'. It's 100% incorrect based on the data...but perception is almost always created by things other than facts and data. The reason, I think, is that on key issues, we don't get the full analysis on costs, then the Republicans use it against us in the next election cycle. We cannot afford to have this reputation moving into the future. We ARE the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, and we need to keep proving it our citizens.

I have also heard negativity towards Brian Baird because he didn't 'support the president'. I have to say, I don't remember Obama asking for 'yes men'. In fact, I remember quite the opposite. I remember a campaign where differing opinions were valued, where dissent is a part of coming to the best solution. I remember an intelligent campaign that suggested all points of view should be counted and considered, because that's what open dialogue and debate are about. The last president was all about 'yes men' and falling into line when required...and I don't remember those years as ones history will look kindly on. I think Brian supports our President, supports change ... but ALSO believes strongly that Congress should only pass good legislation that works, and that is fiscally responsible.

Hence his fight for adequate time to read a bill before voting on it. Hence his argument that we should know what something costs before we pass it.

I have known Brian Baird for more than a decade, and consider him a friend, a leader, and an intelligent public servant. I have disagreed with him on issues, and defended him on others. I have lobbied him for more than 5 years on health care issues and I know one thing for certain- he is committed to health care reform, to lowering costs and increasing access, and to ensuring everyone has coverage. I didn't read this Health Care bill, and its thousands of pages. I don't know what it will cost us, or its impact on the deficit. That's why I have Brian, to be my expert. The citizens of Olympia don't want to know everything about sewer policy or zero waste...that's why they hire me, to be their expert. In the same way, I don't know the details of the health care bill, and whether or not there's a fatal flaw in the details. In the press release from my Congressman, I read that we did not yet know the full costs and budget impacts of this proposal, so he was unable to support it. If they gave less than 3 days before a vote, I would ALSO have expected his no vote, because he is committed to a good government process on all legislation.

It seems to me we need good process in DC...it's been lacking for a long time. Openness and transparency, good fiscal analysis, sound legislation- this is what we, as democrats, value most. I am not sure, in the end, if I agree with Brian's reasons for voting against the bill. I am not sure how I would have voted if I were in his place. I do know that he is a strong advocate for our district, for the environment, for the economy, for our communities, and I know that he is committed to being fiscally responsible, open and transparent, and restoring the citizen's faith on how Congress conducts business. I also know he listens...having changed his mind myself on several issues over the years.

Given all that, while I may disagree with him from time to time, I am still proud to say Brian Baird is OUR Congressman, and he has my support.

Joe Hyer
TCD treasurer and Fiscal Conservative


I have a problem with Joe's point that Olympians don't want to know about waste policy. Actually, I do. I may not read it, but I want to know its there for me to read at some point. I do expect Joe to know more than me at any given time, but maybe that's his point.

He basically says he understands Baird's reasons for not voting for the bill.

And, now down in Utah, a former U.S. Senate candidate, Pete Ashdown, gives a long list of reasons he won't be challenging a local Democrat who voted against the bill:

1. A Democrat who is more to the left than Jim Matheson could probably easily win a primary, maybe even settle this in convention, but in the end would lose the general election. I can think of no other county that exemplifies this more than Carbon County. This was traditionally a Democratic stronghold in Utah, but has gone Republican over the past decade. In 2006, Jim Matheson received 3,658 votes in Carbon County. In spite of canvassing Carbon County extensively and knocking on a few thousand doors, I received 2,255 votes. Conversely, Orrin Hatch rarely visits and received 2,408. I don’t see how deposing Jim Matheson would endear me to 1400+ people who otherwise voted for Senator Hatch.

...

3. In spite of Matheson’s votes, he is still warming a seat on the Democratic side of the aisle. 2010 is going to be Republicans trying to capitalize against President Obama’s agenda. Although I haven’t ruled out running in 2010, I don’t want to be contributing to the inevitable losses the Democratic party is going to face. If I was running instead of Matheson, the national GOP would pour resources into the race not because they care about Utah, but because they want their majority back.

4. In 2006, the Deseret News ran a poll on favorability ratings of Utah politicians. Matheson came out #1, higher than then Governor Jon Huntsman. Having him in office is a good thing for other Utah Democrats trying to get elected.


I think Ashdown's reasons for not taking on Matheson are analogous to the same situation for any local Democrat and Baird. Losing the 3rd District would mean that folks that currently vote Democratic in Grays Harbor, Pacific and other coastal areas (not Lewis or rural Clark counties) are giving their vote to a Republican. These are traditionally rural Democratic areas that could arguably start trending Republican at any point.

Losing the 3rd could mean more than getting a Linda Smith back, it could mean shifting the political landscape in Western Washington.

And, I get this impression that people who aren't all that politically motivated have a good impression of Baird. If he's the standard bearer for Democrats in Southwest Washington, then its good for downticket Democrats.

Jim Anderson live blogging an education forum

This quote from Jim's live blog gives you a great view of the sort of legislators we have locally. See if you can find the coastal caucus Dem, the suburban Dem, the rural Republican and the leadership Dem.

From the 5/17 blog:

Kathy Haigh: "I think it's going to be short." "Another $2 billion down, and no significant funding coming from the feds.... It's going to be significant cuts.... We should all be keeping a close eye on [the] health care issue." If the feds stepped in to fund our "Apple" health care for kids, that'd help. ECAP is the "absolute wrong place" to cut from. I-728, 732 are (still) at risk. Levy equalization funds won't be touched. Higher Ed--expect another tuition increase, even letting schools set their own tuition rates.

Brendan Williams: "At the risk of sounding like a liberal Democrat..." The legislature could have raised taxes, but "the votes were bought to keep that from occurring." "I did not vote for [728 and 732] to be suspended." Cutting programs from K-12 education is "the pricetag for political careerism." "It's time to meaningfully distinguish ourselves, with all due respect, from the opposition."

Gary Alexander: "Unlike my friend to the left, I think our first challenge is to see what we can do to reduce the budget. Government will not pull us out of the recession." "We can't continue to cut around the edges... We have to go back and talk about what our priorities are: public health, public safety, and public education.... This may mean the elimination of entire services... that can be replaced by the private sector." "We have to basically produce results that will be sustainable on a long-term basis." I'm not going to vote for a policy that doesn't have any funding."

Sam Hunt: For years this state has kept the crazy old aunt in the closet... our broken tax system.... We have a "crazy tax system." "The sales go down and the caseloads go up every damn time you look at it... We've cut all the edges, we've cut all the low-hanging fruit." "I have some hope that the feds will help with Title I, and health care."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why should Olympia support the Economic Development Council?

A little while ago, following some bad press that the Economic Development Council was behind on writing a big plan, I wondered whether the EDC should broaden its view to include representatives beyond elected officials and business owners.

I still think that, but I'm also wondering this morning, given Olympia intent to cut funding for the regional body, whether Olympia really needs the EDC. The economic destiny of Olympia seems to rest more closely to the economic fate of the rest of the state. And, despite the bad economy, we don't seem to be doing all that poorly (being rated above even Seattle in job creation).

But, let me just say this. Even the president of the council should know that economic conditions can have more to do with way outside the community actions and little to do with local boosterism and planning.

So, do I see a purpose in the EDC. Well, sure. Maybe in the same sense that the Thurston Regional Council serves a purpose. That its a good idea to have people paid to think beyond the borders of our city. But, that said, I still think the folks doing the viewing should be broader than business folk and elected officials.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lacey election results: I don't care who started it, you're both in trouble!

My coworker recently on Facebook:
My new thing is I will not pick "winners..." in "She hit me - he threw something at me" fights. "Everybody loses!" No T.V. (which they already have two days of that a week) Tuesday EITHER!!
The city of Lacey and the Lacey Fire District got into a very public fight and both got sent to their room.

All three challenged incumbents for city council positions in Lacey were shown the door last night. As Ken Balsley probably correctly asserts, the results had a lot do with the engagement of fire department union. I'd also point out that this was the first time in a lot of years that three good candidates squared off against three incumbents in Lacey.

What should also be noted is that the one fire commissioner in the Lacey 3 was also booted out in favor of a guy that said he would cooperate with the city. While as far as I can tell Gene Dobry is short on specific remedies for the stalemate between the city and the district, he sure doesn't like fighting:

The past two levy failures for the fire district show a lack of confidence by the citizens, as well as an economic situation where taxpayers can’t afford to pay more, Dobry noted. He believes the fire district needs to work harder to live within its means while providing the best service to the people.

“Although litigation was prevented, the contract with the City of Lacey will end a year earlier than planned,” Dobry said. “Then what? Does the district rely on county tax revenues entirely? Does the city start its own fire district? These are likely to be lose-lose solutions and not worthwhile endeavors for Lacey-area citizens who need consistent protection.”

Dobry is speaking out for the people on uncontrolled spending and ineffective leadership. He is seeking the office to ensure the best interests of the people will be served. He lives in Lacey with his wife Rachel.


And...
Current leaders must accept responsibility for failed policies, overspending and the disharmony created with its city partner. I offer fresh leadership with a plan to restore confidence in the district. Introducing my “R” plan: revive the volunteer force, renegotiate with the city, and refuse to overspend. If you agree, I ask for your support and your vote.
So, while I'd say the fight between the district and the city had a lot to do with the elections results, there were no winners. Both the city and the district were punished for not being able to come to agreement.

Bullies on being bullied ( Roy and Valerie Hartwell on the west side of Olympia)

So, were Roy and Valerie Hartwell able to get into the private, no mean people who disagree with us allowed, celebration for R-71 going down in a ball of flames?

It's one thing to try to make a run around state disclosure laws and act extra careful to make sure no one disagrees with you to your face on election night. But its something completely different when your own campaign takes on the exact same tactics that you claim to be afraid of.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Report: anti-71 protesters bully on the westside

We were on our way to dinner tonight, and thought it was strange that dozens of "No on R 71" folks were out in force on the westside of Olympia (a pretty liberal part of even Olympia). But, after reading this it make a lot of sense.

Via facebook:

Action Alert: We need more sign-wavers next 2 days to ensure our safety in numbers:

Olympia's sign waving rally on Sunday the 1st (Black Lake Blvd & Cooper Point Rd) was overtaken by bullies late in the afternoon. The rally went peacefully from 12 - 4 pm. At 4 pm, Pastor Roy & his wife Valerie appeared, (local leaders of the anti-gay "Reject" campaign who are based in Dupont but lead a Church in Lacey). They had summoned 40 - 50 young men and a few young women who bullied us out of their way by jostling us and blowing painfully loud air horns close to where we were already standing. They appeared to be almost entirely Russian immigrants from one of the Tacoma churches involved in the anti-gay campaign. I asked Pastor Roy & Valerie to request their recruits to stop blaring the air horn in our ears and not to bully our sign wavers. Valerie blew me off and Pastor Roy just walked away. Ironically, last weekend when both sides were at the Lacey rally, our side made it a point to be courteous, and I even intervened in a few situations where Pastor Roy thought our people were being aggressive.

This was a pretty scary encounter. Most of our people left, including one father with a toddler. Two organizers (including myself) strongly encouraged the handful our supporters still there to leave in pairs to be safe.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Elaine's take on the ENA city council candidate forum

For me (I dropped off my ballot this morning) this is an interesting read, but unfortunately came too late to help me make my decision.

This is especially interesting for the candidates I didn't vote for. Take Tony Sermonti:

Sermonti in a snazzy suit. (Note to Sermonti: I think Oly is not so much a suit kinda town.) I actually felt bad for him, because he was totally off-key on the isthmus issue, and walked right into it. I think there’s a reasonable argument to be made for developing that space (and personally I don’t give a damn about the view question), but he sure didn’t make it. He came off as classist — there’s too much subsidized housing downtown, not enough that “people like me” can buy (as an aside to the aside: what makes him think he could afford one of the proposed townhouses?) — and high-handed. That got highlighted when Mark Derricott asked him a “philosophical” question, and he responded in part by saying we don’t live in a representative democracy. I’d like to think he got that sort of backwards: we don’t live in a direct democracy, but (in theory) a representative one, in which we elect people to make decisions for us. But wow…his actual response just about set the room on fire. Thankfully, C spoke up quite loudly from off in the corner of the room, and suggested that since this was the last candidate of the evening, perhaps we should break for snacks and one-on-one conversation.


I think in a way, Sermonti is the perfect anti-Joe Hyer candidate, because if there had been a good articulation for developing the isthmus, Joe would have voted for it. But, the way it was, there was a lot of passion in the against column, a few people who really wanted it but couldn't communicate why in a way that made sense. And, people like Elaine and I that thought it might not be a bad idea, but never heard a great argument.

Roe:

...but when she rattled off a list of issues she wanted to tackle, she mentioned making parking in downtown free again. Uh, no. After “listening in” on C’s urban studies classes, I think free parking is pretty much the last thing we need. (See the work of Donald Shoup for details, or Google for “high cost of free parking.”) I wasn’t entirely sure I heard her correctly, so I visited her site a couple of days later and yes, she does want to making parking free in downtown. So my somewhat eccentric reasoning leads me to support Joan Machlis — who wasn’t there, but it was the first night of her MPA classes, so I understand.


It surprised me that I never really considered voting for Roe. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that I never really heard anything from her. At one point I was just getting the impression that she was hoping for her opposition to the isthmus development to carry to her over the line. Joan Machlis, on the other hand, always seemed to have clearly articulated positions (some of which I'll admit I don't agree with), but communicated to me at my level.

Its hard to say that I chose a candidate based on their website, but that's basically what I'm saying. I could agree with Joan on a lot of issues and she communicated like it mattered.

Anyway, to get back to Elaine's point about parking, it seems like Roe picked one more surface issue that actually has deep implications to push her over the line. No serious person who understood the city's approach to parking downtown would suggest free parking. By even approaching it shows that she's willing to take a cheap position to score points.

Monday, October 19, 2009

If there is no surge in shipping in Puget Sound, then what "overflow" would Olympia catch?

One of the reason's the Olympian supports Jeff Davis is his understanding that Olympia would catch some extra work from other ports:

Where Davis tops Peeler, in our estimation, is his optimistic vision for the Port of Olympia – from the shipping operation to the marina, and from the airport and to industrial property.

As a longshoreman, Davis understands the importance of port operations and how ports must have a tax subsidy to survive. There are a limited number of ports in this state and nation and the likelihood of creating a new port is very remote.

Davis understands that Washington is the most trade-dependent state in the nation and that one in every three jobs is tied to trade. The wheat farmer in the Palouse, the apple orchardist in Wenatchee and the Boeing engineer in Seattle all rely on port commerce for their livelihoods.

As Davis said, “Everyone benefits from an active marine terminal.”

With more and more of the products consumed in the United States being manufactured overseas, Davis understands that eventually the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and other West Coast locations will be overcrowded and marine shippers will be looking for alternative ports. With aggressive marketing, Davis thinks the marine terminal at the Port of Olympia can fill the void and be a thriving community asset that creates more jobs and commerce for the capital city and surrounding communities. He thinks there’s a real future in the shipment of windmill blades, pulp, paper and wood products.


His understanding of port growth is not so much (via Puget Sound Maritime):

The surge in import cargo to Puget Sound ports during much of the past decade was an anomaly that is unlikely to be repeated, a consultant told a joint meeting of the Seattle and Tacoma port commissioners this week.

The surge was a side effect of a port lockout and traffic congestion in California in 2002. Now that the effect is fading, rising competition from growing ports around the country — and from increasing use of “all-water” routes such as the newly enlarged Panama Canal —is likely to curtail cargo flows through Puget Sound in coming years.

The analysis, by port expert John Martin, surprised Tacoma and Seattle commissioners at a joint meeting Oct. 13. The analysis comes as the share of cargo handled by West Coast ports slipped below 50 percent for the first time in decades, according to data just released by Piers, a unit of the online Journal of Commerce.

Push poll out there against R-71

Literally just got a push poll against R-71 on the phone a few minutes ago from an organization called "FPIW Action" (their phone number is 888-314-9416).

Here are my quickly taken notes from the poll:

The opening statement was negatively couched description of the state law, that while technically true gave was written to prompt a negative reaction. It presented the referendum as homosexual couples receiving rights without requiring responsibilities.

The first question was whether I was aware of the referendum and the second was whether I supported it. The last three were trying to place me in the political spectrum, asking if I was pro-choice, if I would vote Democratic or Republican in the next congressional election and the last if I considered myself a conservative, liberal or moderate.

And, while they said it would take 60 seconds at the beginning of the call, it took twice that long.

In the case of Veldeer v. Rogers, it comes down to attitude

It makes total sense that most of the people who weighed in on this question did so in private. Because in the case of the two Karens up for one seat on the city council, its all about personality.

Instead of responding to the post, most people found some other way to contact me that was less public. Most likely because it isn't very polite to say "well, that one is a jerk (Rogers) and the other doesn't know very much (Veldeer)." While people I like and respect didn't want to say that in public, its still worth knowing so you can decide who you're going to vote for.

Back to the original post quickly, Thad Curtz puts up a lot of good information (some rather inside baseball), but worth reading. Darkwaterkate and Chad360 also had illustrative reasons why they support Karen Veldeer as well, which both in a way speak to my broader point below.

So, here is the collected knowledge of the larger number of people who responded in private to me:
  • The knock on Karen Veldeer is that's she's very nice, but not so well versed in city government. But, people say, she'll learn on the job and make nice with other council members and citizens.
  • The knock on Karen Rogers it that she isn't very nice at all, and while she may be better versed on the issues, may not be willing to learn on the job or get along with people.
And, on the issues, they're about the same, so when it comes down to it, its about whether you want someone who doesn't know how to treat people (Rogers) to someone who may be a way more humble, but will work to fill her role on the council (Veldeer).

In my final analysis, I'd rather see where the nice person ends up than see where the not so nice person fits themselves. So, I'm voting for Karen Veldeer.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

The Thurston County political campaign kiss of death

What's the best way to lose an election in Thurston County, even if you have more resources than your opponent?

Run over a dog during a parade? No.

Yell at someone when you're out doorbelling? I've actually heard about this happening, and that person didn't win, but still no.

Have an outside group spend tons of money on your campaign in what we call "independent spending." The candidate in this case isn't seeking this spending, but rather, a totally independent group, with no organization with the actual campaign, puts money into the game.

And, in the past few cycles, every candidate that has had money spent in their name without their control has lost.

Independent spending in county commissioner races first started in earnest in 2006 when about 58,000 was spent for Kevin O'Sullivan and $7,000 against him. In contrast, just about $3,000 was spent in favor of his successful opponent Bob Macleod. So, despite outspending Macleod $99,000 to $63,000 in campaign money overall, the extra independent money hung around his neck like a chain and brought him down.

We see the same thing happen in 2009 when just about $20,000 was spent in the name of Democrat Jon Halvorson, $7,000 for Republican Judy Wilson and $1,403 for Robin Edmondson. Each lost, with Halvorson with the most spent, when down first in the primary.

Also, in 2008, Cathy Wolfe (Wilson's opponent) had $6,500 spent against her in independent spending. That money ended up kicking back at Wilson.

So, with a special sort of election between Pat Beehler and Karen Valenzuela for another county commission seat this year, how will independent spending impact his race?

Well, first, it might not. The amounts of independent spending have dropped through the floor. Typically, the more conservative candidate gets more independent money spent in their name, but Beehler has only seen $1,300 go out for him.

The other part is about $260 that has been spent for Valenzuela and against Beehler and Dan Venable (who lost in the primary). I'm assuming this is the same expenditure split between its targets.

If you go by total numbers, Beehler will go down. Or, the spending will have no impact and we'll just see who wins on their own merits.

All that said, there probably isn't a direct connection between independent spending and victory, but rather a convenient coexistence. In short, its much more likely that independent spending will go to a candidate that some people (like builders) really want to win, but who doesn't really have what it takes. Or, is seen as needing to be propped up.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Thurston County chamber off track (more copied forum thoughts)

Ahem. AHHH Hem!!!

Why are candidates for the Olympia City Council, appearing at a forum in sprawling Lacey at the Worthington Center sponsored by the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce? Do they really expect Olympia residents to attend?

The Thurston County Chamber still doesn’t understand that we have three separate cities in this county - - not just one.

Those wanting to hear the Olympia City Council candidates could have attend the recent meeting of the League of Women Voters which featured all of the candidates for the Olympia City Council. It was at the Olympia Center, which happens to be in Olympia.

Additional, non-copied snark: Actually, we have five cities and two towns in Thurston County. Do we expect the residents of Yelm, Bucoda, Rainier and Tenino to drive all the way up to Lacey or Olympia in the middle of the day? Or, at night?

Seriously, I think its ok for folks from Lacey to drive a few minutes into Olympia and vice versa, but we have to stop pretending this is a Lacey/Oly fight here.

Sermonti's billboard and ugly politics in Olympia

City of Olympia by Dreamjung at flickr:


I'm technically violating the rules over at facebook by pointing this out, but someone tore down Tony Sermonti's billboard Thursday night. From what the Sermonti posted up on his account last night, the police are investigating.

This is the latest in the trail of ugly politics in Olympia. Since 2004 I've heard stories from Republican and more conservative friends of mine of blatant and repeated vandalism across town. Several times, a friend of mine has had graffiti cleaned off his truck, replaced a George W. Bush sticker and ended up having a window broken out.

And, there are the things that happened to Jeff Kingsbury last year.

I'll be blunt, I'm not going to vote for Tony Sermonti. But, the people who do this sort of thing are cowards and are the worst part of Olympia.

You Suck.

Which gets me to the point of a post that I've been meaning to write since I started noticed those "they can't govern us" posters around town last February or so. The sentiment in those posters, the same that tore down Tony's billboard this week, is the same that infects the so-called Tea Baggers.

When your government does things (moves to try to universalize health care or allow a tall building downtown), and you end up rejecting (you aren't my government anymore) the validity of that government, you're just running off into anarchy.

I'm not trying to use anarchy as a pejorative, but rather what I assume to be its true meaning, that universal government, for everyone by everyone, is not valid.

That may be a useful political point of view, and not one that I have a lot to argue about with, but when that philosophy starts to excuse violence, that's when I have a problem. And, to be blunt again, we've allowed this sort of thing in Olympia for way to long. I don't know how exactly we can go about stopping it, but we should.

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Telford withdraws endorsement of Davis for Port

Via email:

I made a mistake. This is to announce that I have rescinded my endorsement of Jeff Davis for the Port of Olympia Commission.

From the beginning I was uncomfortable with how independent Jeff could be as an active member of the Longshoremen's Union.

He tried to provide assurance by promising to excuse himself from Port decisions that affected Longshoremen.

But it turns out that the bulk of his extraordinary collections of campaign donations are large contributions from outsiders and Longshore Unions. The final straw was his pompous response to this issue in a recent forum when he said, "If you were to go to the state PDC website and look up my contributors, they all have stevedore and ILWU names behind them and quite frankly, I'm fantastically proud of that. We stick together, we work together and we live and die together."

This tells me that he is both emotionally and financially beholden to his Union colleagues.

It tells me that he will not be able to critically and objectively assess decisions affecting the port's marine terminal.
His response is a reminder of the belligerence of some Union dockworkers, which is not the norm at the Port of Olympia.
It is clear that he will put their interests ahead of the citizens of Thurston County who he may be elected to serve.

Maybe I'm too idealistic but I strongly believe that it is not in our best interests to elect anyone who is both financially and emotionally beholden to outsiders or a particular special interest group. You can forget any altruism or notion of public service.

In fairness to Jeff , I have not demanded that he remove my name from his campaign materials as most have already been printed.

Given recent wake-up calls concerning stormwater management at the port, Dave Peeler's background can be an asset to the port.

Both other Commissioners are fans of spending whatever it takes to keep the marine terminal going and largely indifferent to port taxes and spending, the port needs some balance.

I'm now suggesting that my friends to vote for Dave Peeler.

Paul Telford, (outgoing) Commissioner
Port of Olympia

Friday, October 02, 2009

Ken Balsley says firemen, cops abandoned posts during an earthquake, firemen shoot back

In this post outlining what he calls a new aristocracy (apparently making sure front line government workers don't get sick during a pandemic is not a good thing) Ken makes this seemingly off-hand reference:
Government was unable to function because its employees had gone home - - fire fighters, police, emergency services, many had left their jobs to check on their families.
Wow, them's fighting words. Took them awhile, but the Lacey fire fighters are fighting back:

Recently, a local publication reported that fire fighters abandoned their posts on that crisp February morning and so did many police officers. I am here to say having worked that day as a fire fighter and remembering it vividly, that none of that crap happened and I am left wondering if the intent was really to discredit us as cops, fire fighters, or emergency workers, or just to add interesting material to the publication. Who cares, bottom line: It never happened.
So, what is the point of discrediting government workers in general, but also firemen in particular? The union that represents Lacey firemen has been particularly engaged this election cycle, but I'm more willing to think that its just Ken being Ken and that he's knocking any sort of government worker, not just firemen. In his world, its just believable that firemen would go home after an earthquake.

But, I'd also let the firemen speak for themselves:

When the Nisqually earthquake hit, our first order after we took cover and waited for the shaking to stop was to roll the apparatus out of our then aging masonry structures in case the aftershocks caused them to fail. As some areas had lost power, it took a few moments to get this done by manually opening doors at some stations. By the time the apparatus had been rolled out, the first off duty responders started coming in. Unlike many areas, many Lacey Fire District #3 employees live in their city of employment. Within 45 minutes, every single apparatus the department owned was staffed or being moved into position to offset response in areas of heavy call volume. This all went down as the City of Olympia had significant areas of road failures, elevator collapse downtown, and people stuck in elevators throughout the Capitol Campus. Lacey also had multiple gas leaks, a trailer fire in the Nisqually Valley and well over 100 calls by 3pm that day including treating sick and injured children from the local schools.

Off duty Lacey Fire District fire fighters, both volunteer and paid, came in as far away as Lewis and Pierce County to respond to calls. NO ONE abandoned their posts that day and to do so would have meant immediate termination with the union demanding it and definitely not defending it.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

The big reason why Thurston County doesn't have the website it needs

This could have been one long post, but I think three posts (here and here as well) is better.

So, the big reason for the lack of a decent (but lets not confuse that with uninformative) website is governance.

Like most Washington state counties that have not gone through the home rule process, Thurston County is a collection of independent elected officials from three county commissioners to a sheriff and an auditor and more. In the current way things work, each independent office has the job of maintaining their own website. So, what you get is a mishmash.

My understanding of how things are run right now is that a department under the commissioners, central services, provides general web support to most of the county. The independent offices, auditor, sheriff, and the rest, get some technical support, but tend to maintain their sites on their own. Most of the folks that develop and maintain the websites for the independent offices do so on a part time and ad hoc basis. And, when a person who then leaves the county who was maintaining of the sites, but didn't have that job officially part of their job title, they take that experience away with them.

So, instead of a fully funded web administrator at the middle of all the offices, you have part time web managers throughout the county, each with their own ideas and levels of experience. That they the sites look different doesn't matter to me, but the redundancy in duties and differing ways the sites are put together matters a lot.

I think the county would actually save money and be able to develop a better overall web presence if they rolled all the web functions into central services. Not saying that the folks in the independent offices who maintain the websites don't work hard, just saying they work a bit too hard.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The website Seattle didn't have (and Thurston County needs)

Additional thoughts from my post below. From Capitol Hill Seattle:
But the weather wasn't really the problem. The problem was information. Seattle was hit with a situation that required systems of communication and information distribution that it did not have. The city's dying newspapers couldn't keep up and City Hall's various departments were too busy trying to dig out from underneath the snow and ice to turn to their antiquated systems of information distribution. They couldn't connect information to the neighborhoods and streets where it was needed.
In emergencies, government agencies need to distribute information quickly. Very, very quickly. Radio stations are still king here and we're lucky around here to have more than a few that can still get out information quickly because they're run by people rather than computers.

But, the web is just as important. And, if you don't have the turn on-a-dime-ability with your current government website, it will hurt you.

The website Thurston County doesn't have

Recently I was part of a group that met twice to discuss redesigning Thurston County's currently horrible website. To put it shortly, the website is a reflection of a lack of technical progress (the pages are still manually built from an html editor) and the disjointed governance of the county.

The website being in the technical backwoods is less troubling to me because the website is actually very informative. The county's technology manager attended our second meeting and said that getting everything possible on the website had been their first concern. To me, that puts them on good footing for where they need to go next.

And, despite the casual framing of the project as "redesigning" the county's website, that is the last thing they need to do. Yes, its ugly right and it should be prettier, but not prettier in terms of a slick design. Drastically simple designs like craigslist.org's or wikipedia's would get the county where they need to go.

So, I wouldn't call it a redesign, but rather a restructuring. The first step should be scrapping their current method of updating the website and implementing a Content Management System. Easier, open source solutions are available, but it sidesteps the concept of a "redesign," which would seem to focus on the aesthetic and drive you toward the usable.

And, just one more thought:

I like RSS feeds a lot. If I could subscribe to a portion or an entire government website, that would be great. I've created some Pag2RSS feeds for some parts of the city of Olympia's website (like city council agendas and planning commission), but an entire government website with RSS tied to it would be great.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Good old R. Scott, still not being able to read and such

R. Scott, chair of the local loyal minor party, is mad at Karen Valenzuela and a copy editor at the Olympian because he can't read. He's mad because he thinks the commissioner's campaign used incorrect language in a fundraising notice to the Olympian.

In the top part of a notice in the Olympian (also in R. Scott's own complaint in pdf here), not paid for or written by Commissioner Valenzuela's campaign, the word "re-elect" is used.

Late in the same notice, the words "Valenzuela, an appointee..." are also used. Can R. Scott read? Does he care?

Sounders vs. Colorado back in June (soccer gameday report #2)

This summer I had a handful of equally unique soccer watching experiences. From Colorado to Bremerton, PDL, U.S. Open Cup and MLS, they made me think about soccer clubs. Like how they succeed, how they promote the sport and how they work as sporting organizations.

The first delibertaly written report (the first is actually here and here) is from our family trip to Colorado which included a nice trip up to Dicks Sporting Goods Stadium.

All of these posts will be organized under this category.

I'm not sure about formatting these posts, so I'll just start with random, numbered observations.

1. Wow, Sounders fans travel. There were at least 20 organized Sounders fans who came to the game. In addition, I ran into at least a half dozen other folks from Washington coming to the game.

2. About sixty percent of the people I saw at the game were wearing some sort of soccer related gear, which seems low. About just less than half were wearing something Rapids related, and a good portion of those were wearing old style Rapids stuff. The rest were split between youth team jersies and jersies of worldwide clubs (Chivas of G, Barca, Manchester United, etc.).

I think it might have been a youth soccer night, so those jersey observations might be thrown of by that. But, it makes me think that Colorado suffers from the typical MLS problem in attracting fans. There are plenty of people that are involved in soccer (youth organizations or by following soccer worldwide), but have a hard time attracting them into following the local pro club.

3. Colorado had a very nice stadium, but it was in the middle of nowhere. There's something to be said for having a soccer stadium near other stuff. Makes walking into the stadium a bit more meaningful. I don't know, its just a feeling I have.

4. I understand there is an actual local connection to the term "Arsenal" for the Rapids, but the use of the UK's Arsenal brand in the stadium, the firing of the cannon and the youth program is just ripping off the authentic British soccer experience, not trying to create your own. Just saying.

Why I haven't been blogging (why I haven't been feeling it)

For at least the last eight years or so, in various forms, I've blogged pretty regularly. There have been times I've closed old blogs, stopped blogging at other people's blogs and consolidated posts on this blog. Anyway, there have also been times I haven't blogged for awhile, but since about January of this year, my blogging here has been stalling (and for the past few weeks) grinding to a halt.

Some reasons for that include the obvious attention suck that Facebook and Twitter have become. But, there has also been the time I've spent thinking about the entire isthmus debate here in Olympia, and the stress I've felt of various groups of people I respect falling on different sides of the issue. While I respect everyone's opinion, it has become a issue I have a hard time getting a hold of the issue, and I have gotten tired of the debate and the sides those got chosen up.

Either way, I'm going to make a concerted effort to keep on blogging. I realize that the above was a horrible reason why I have held off blogging, but here I am.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Lacey residents don't go out at night, don't travel beyond city limits

Ken of Lacey has a problem with a political forum being held at night in a neighboring city by a countywide organization.

Much better for residents to take a long lunch to hear another forum in the middle of the day.

So, let me get this right. Lacey residents can't drive three miles out of town to attend a forum in Olympia, but they have time to take off in the middle of the day to attend a forum that is marginally close? O.k.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Precincts that vote low in primaries

One of the most interesting parts of the primary election cycle in Olympia for me is the difference between the folks that vote in the primary and those that vote in the general a few months later.

While I was really wrong about my original assumption about low turnout during this primary, its still interesting to look at what precincts will provide more votes in November.

The primary two years ago had a classic example of this shifting primary/general electorate. Rhenda Strub got through the primary with 3,000 votes (39 percent) but won the general with over 6,000 votes (55 percent). Her opponent barely improved here vote total in the primary, picking up less than 1,000 of the more than 4,000 available new votes.

So, there are a handful of precincts in Olympia that compared to the general in 2007 (the only comparable primary because it was the only one also held in August) voted in low numbers during the 2009 primary. The map below shows the 10 precincts that had less than 65 percent of the votes they had in 2007.


View under vote precincts in a larger map

Just a few thoughts about these precincts:

1. Most are on the edges of town. You could assume that these, then, are people who spend less time downtown and might shop in Lacey as much as they shop in Olympia.

2. 4 of the 10 are in SE Olympia. These are newer, probably more conservative (by Olympia standards) areas.

3. If you care about downtown, you voted in this election. I haven't mapped the anti-Larida Passage candidates by precinct, so I don't know if they did particularly well in one part of town. But from the low turnout in the non-downtown focused areas, I feel safe to say that Larida Passage brought people out for this one.

4. On the other hand, there will be people voting in November that don't care much about Larida Passage. Turnout is going up in November, especially in these precincts. The question is who is going to speak to these folks who stayed out of the primary?

Friday, August 07, 2009

Shocked! Shocked! Lewis County Republicans would never call anyone a Nazi!

Unless it was like last year.

In response to Rep. Brian Baird's unfortunate, yet seemingly accurate, "brown shirt" comment, Lewis County GOPer gets all huffy:
The reference to Nazism and the equating of his constituents to Brown Shirts is very offensive, not only to the brave veterans in our state who have fought in wars from Europe to Iraq and Afghanistan, but to all freedom-loving citizens who value their right to express their personal opinions about the actions being taken by their elected representatives – whether or not they agree with them.
Of course, its certainly not offensive when the Lewis County Republicans call you a Nazi.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

R. Scott, ILLITERATE

R. Scott (birther and Thurston County Republican chair) can't read. Or, when reading, can't process information.

When he reads this
:

Mah also urged the audience to consider the timing of his proposal and said that because of the slower economy, "property (for purchase) will never be cheaper."

Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela disputed that.

Valenzuela, who attended the forum with other elected officials such as Olympia City Council members Joan Machlis, Rhenda Strub and Karen Messmer, said there might be no need to rush because the Port of Tacoma, for example, is having difficulty selling a $22 million parcel in south Thurston County's Maytown.


Conjures up this:

...then why is Karen Valenzuela trying to purchase more parks? And why in the hell does she want to purchase them for the City of Olympia [read about it here]? She thinks they can get it cheaper, but wants to participate in the purchase.


Saying that anyone who is interested in developing an isthmus park should take their time means she wants the county to participate?

Seems more likely that she's attended the forum because she's a local political leader, not because she wants the county to dive into a park purchase.

On the other hand, if R. Scott had bothered to link anywhere else than the Olympian (other blogs?!?), he would have come up with something far more convincing, but still vague enough for him to twist. From Janine Gates's Litle Hollywood:

Audience member Marie Cameron spoke next, saying she has been a resident for over 30 years and served on the Olympia Planning Commission for six years in the 1970's and served in a variety of planning positions until her retirement. She now lives in the county, outside the city limits, and feels disenfranchised from the process, and urged the county to step up and be a partner in the portion of property tax it collects.

Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela thanked Cameron for her productive suggestion. "The problem with Mah's proposal is that there's only one player at the table."


Now, you'd have to assume that Valenzuela meant the county as another player, but I'd safely assume she meant the state. But, R. Scott can believe anything he wants, especially since he can just make most of it up.