Tuesday, May 23, 2017

If only the KKK had been worse at lobbying, Honeyford wouldn't have to worry about unmasking anarchists


So, it's possible that running around with a mask on and smash things is impolite and already illegal. But making it illegal additionally to do it while masked is probably a bad idea.

It isn't even a new idea though.

Rep. O.R. McKinney of Pierce County made a valiant effort in 1923 to rip the mask off the Klu Klux Klan in Washington. His bill would have made wearing a mask during a public protest illegal. In the 1920s the Klan was leaking across the border from Oregon and at the time of McKinney's bill, was just about to hit their zenith.

But, in March of 1923 they were strong enough to stand in the way of an unmasking bill.

The Klan was so powerful apparently, that it is almost painful to watch McKinney contort himself not cast shade on them:
I did not introduce the bill as a religious fanatic or because I wish to do away with an klan or any other organization. We have an organization in this state called the Klu Klux Klan. I am not opposed to it, but it is important to have the state regulate such organizations. 
It is a dangerous thing to allow masked men to parade over the country. If we were sure that no one but members of the Klu Klux Klan wore masks we could put our fingers on the men who committed depredations, but the failure to pass this bill opens the way for depredations by masked persons who are not members of the Klu Klux Klan.
When McKinney's bill was first introduced in January, the chair of the house judiciary committee was greeted on his homecoming to a "sheaf" of telegrams from Klan members opposing the bill. “Throughout the entire country we are being persecuted," said at least one.

Honeyford's bill isn't going to pass just like McKinney's wasn't going to pass. But, that is where the comparisons end for something like this. Both groups use masks. But, the Klan was an evil group founded by the powerful to keep people and religions they considered impure out of the American mainstream.

No one is backing up anarchists or trying to bend over backwards saying they aren't opposed to anarchists while trying to pass an anti-mask bill. The power dynamics behind punching up to attack the clan in the 1920s and punching down to the attack the anarchists almost 100 years later is totally different. 

The anti-mask bill won't pass this year because it is a low priority policy for a legislature that needs to deal with real school funding, culvert repair and budget issues. It is a cheap trick. In the 1920s the bill was introduced in the early part of the session and had a real run out before the Klan killed it.

Anarchists won't kill this bill, they can't hardly engage in the legislative process. Good government and higher priorities will kill this year's unmasking bill.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Would $10 have been enough to monitor septics at poisonous Summit Lake?

Not for nothing, but this post was hard to write straight-faced. I feel like this should be a light your hair on fire moment for this county commission and their constituents. I can't believe people aren't screaming at the county commissioners demanding to know why they didn't stand up for public health and institute a measly $10 annual fee. Even the high end of $54 A YEAR seems like a steal compared to toxins in your drinking water.

Google imagery of Summit Lake. Obviously, where else was I going to get it?
The Thurston County commission passed a new plan to manage septic systems last winter.

A new set of county commissioners were seated and voted to strip the ability to actually pay for the plan a few months later. A $10 annual fee was just too much to help ensure clean, drinkable water.

Then there was an outbreak of poisonous algae in Summit Lake. According to the state Department of Health, malfunctioning septic systems are one of the likely causes of a poisonous algae outbreak.
The problem on Summit Lake is that the same residents who live along the lake and use septic systems to deal with their human waste also depend on the lake for their drinking water.

Do we know for sure that septic systems are the cause of excess nutrients in Summit Lake that caused a poisonous algae outbreak? Well, no, we don't. But that we don't know this is the main problem.

Any sort of expanded monitoring or education that could have done anything to prevent a situation like the one at Summit Lake will go wanting for lack of funding.

In the approved, but apparently unfunded septic plan, the county specifically called out Summit Lake as a very vulnerable spot for mismanaged septics. Said the plan:
Summit Lake, which is used by most residents for their drinking water source, shall be designated as a Sensitive Area. All wastewater disposal systems in the Summit Lake watershed shall have required operational certificates and dye testing to assure that routine inspections and maintenance is completed at least every three years and failing systems are identified and repaired. 
The plan also pointed out that Summit Lake, despite being the water source for drinking water for people living on Summit Lake, presents some real issues about how exactly septic tanks wouldn't pollute that source:
Its steep slopes, shallow soils, and generally small lots sizes make siting and functioning of on-site sewage systems around the lake difficult. A 1992-1997 sanitary survey found 58 systems failing (18%) – the majority of which were repaired. Surface waters cannot be adequately protected from contamination to be safely used as a domestic water supply without treatment. A public health advisory issued in 1987 advises against consumption of untreated lake water at Summit Lake. A comprehensive program would ensure routine inspection and maintenance of all OSS within the Summit Lake basin and identification and correction of failing systems. The Summit Lake watershed should be considered for special area designation due to the serious threat posed to the drinking water supply by failing septic systems.
Twenty years ago they knew that 18 percent of the septics were failing because they went out and looked. Just like when they found 14 percent failing on Henderson Inlet.

Here's the underlying point: Since 1997 the county hasn't gone back to take another look at septics around Summit Lake. Now the water has too many toxins to drink. The reason we can't rule out septics as the source for algae with toxins is because we haven't looked.

Nothing that I've seen from the county says that they can do anything to track down the source of the algae. The very least you could say is that $10 a month could have gone to a small bit of dye testing to see if in twenty years any septics around the lake started not working.

Right now what the county is doing is just waiting for sunlight and time to deal with the algae. But, I'm sure a more progressive standpoint would be get out there and start figuring out why we have a public health crisis on Summit Lake to begin with.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Three reasons why we should keep Heck in Congress

National Precinct Map by Decision Desk HQ

Or, rather, three reasons why the nascent movement to oust centrist Democratic Rep. Denny Heck is a bad idea.

Tomorrow night there will be a meeting at Traditions in Olympia to talk about the idea of ousting Rep. Heck from Congress. The reasons are what you might expect, that Heck isn't as liberal as we need Democrats to be to really change our country:

The banking and insurance industries are bankrolling his campaign, and he gets the vast majority of his support from the business community. If we are ever going to achieve the progressive change our nation and world so desperately needs, then we are going to have to replace Trump, the Republicans, and corrupt establishment Democrats in Congress with representatives who will reject corporate money, stand up to corporate power, and put people over profits.
Whether Rep. Heck represents "the people" or progressives in general, his only real job is to represent his constituents. And, it's an open question whether his brand of politics is a fair representation of the WA10. Though geographically centered on Olympia, the 10th stretches up into Pierce County, mostly around Joint Base Lewis McChord. So, if any anything defines the WA10, it isn't the culture of liberal Olympia, it is the institution of the military.

A Republican could win in the WA 10. Or, at the very least, a conservative independent could.

1. Since 2012, Heck really hasn't been challenged.  Despite Pierce County supplying a steady stream of down ticket Republicans to challenge Heck, they've all been underfunded. In three elections, he has far out-raised his Republican opponents. I mean far outstripped.

Despite getting close to 60 percent in two Presidential cycle elections (2012, 2016), he has never broken 60. Also, his one off cycle election (2014) Heck got 54 percent, despite out-raising his opponent by over $1.5 million.

You could assume that given a better financed conservative opponent, he'd be in trouble.

2. The WA10 is slightly (I mean ever so slightly) more conservative than the state of Washington. 

If you take every statewide candidate last year and look how they did in the WA10, conservative candidates did .38 percent better than their statewide returns. This doesn't mean a whole heck of a lot. But, in a Presidential year when there were certainly more Democrats going to the polls, Republicans did better in WA10 than they did statewide. This isn't saying a lot, but it does underline that the WA10 is less liberal than it should be for a safe Democratic congressman.

3. Independents in Thurston County

This is a sort of constant theme for me, but conservatives can win countywide races in Thurston County. If they drop the Republican label. Sure, typically, Congressional races are much more partisan than county commission races with national party organizations having a ton of input. But, with identified independents in Washington becoming the largest single group in the state, why not run a conservative independent against Heck?

So, imagine a world where a well-funded progressive knocks off Denny Heck in the primary and runs to the left off another well-funded conservative running as an Independent. In this world, I could see the WA10 flipping from a somewhat safe (if ignored) congressional district for a Democrat to one represented by a conservative.