Friday, October 28, 2005

Air war emails vs. getting people involved

Scott Chacon, who is running in the CA-11 against Richard Pombo, makes a good point about recent emails he's received from both Democrats and Republicans. The Dem emails are overly long, and when you get down to it, ask simply for you to send more money. The GOP emails he received where shorter and asked for action:

(The GOP email) rather than smearing the other side as evil devils in a 600 word rant then asking for money, they ask you to adopt 25 voters, give them personal attention, ask them to vote and talk about the issues. It is easy to help, easy to read, inclusive and respectful – all in about 200 words.

There have been some good examples of using internet tools (email, websites, yadda, yadda) to pull people into the process, to engage them. Asking for money and votes are the two least important ways to engage people. Votes are of course the nut of any campaign, but not democracy; engagement is.

Money, on the other hand, while it fuels the campaign has also help develop a professional political class that seems to say "anything worth while on a campaign or in politics needs to be done by a professional." Politics shouldn't be a business. There should be smart people involved, but it should also be open.

As a party, we shouldn't be asking people to cut us checks and then going off and spending it as we see fit. We should be urging them to get involved in the party, campaigns and politics in general.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

UPDATE: Don't Vote for Ira Knight

You know, if Ira Knight had just kept his mouth shut, mumbled something about not liking the Nuclear Free Ordinance and didn't say anything about not liking gay people, he might have won. But, he goes and shoots himself in the foot.

Its one thing for the local Christian Coalition to put out a "pastors pick" (pdf file) for the entire county, but they also put out this gem (pdf file), pointing out the differences between Ira and Jeff Kingsbury.

Here's a list of the differences:
  • Ira supports "Voluntary display of the Ten Commandments on public property."
  • Ira opposes "Benefits for same-sex partners of city employees"
  • Ira opposes "Protected minority status for homosexuals, bisexuals, transsexuals, transgender, etc."
  • Ira supports"Funding for faith-based charitable organizations"
  • Ira supports "Diversified energy sources including nuclear power"
Not that any of these issues actually came up in the election, because Ira Knight never brought anything up. Big old thanks to the Christian Coalition for pointing all of this out!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Two Oly screanings of "WAL-MART: The High Cost of Low Price"

Invite your Tumwater city councilmember, because it looks good. Here's the trailer (QT) and here's some funny promo movies.

Speaking of Walmart, something is happening over there:

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. chief executive H. Lee Scott Jr. called on Congress to raise the country's minimum wage from $5.15 an hour, saying the company's customers are "struggling to get by."

Scott, head of the world's largest retailer, which has been criticized for paying low wages, providing few health care benefits and causing the demise of small businesses across the country, ticked off a list of changes he said the company plans to make and called for a higher minimum wage in a speech to directors and executives Monday.

"We have seen an increase in spending on the 1st and 15th of each month and less spending at the end of the month, letting us know that our customers simply don't have the money to buy basic necessities between paychecks," Scott said in his speech, a transcript of which was released yesterday. Scott also said the company wants to reduce energy use by its stores by 30 percent.

DON'T Vote for Normoyle, Knight

Even though I haven't been posting here all that much lately, tons of people (oh, I'd say 35 a day) are still coming by to see what there is to see here. Mostly it seems they're coming off google searches for "Michael Normoyle" olympia city council and "Ira Knight" Olympia City Council.

Yeah, if I were you, I'd be googling these guys too, because no one knows who the hell they are.

Which brings me to my point, don't vote for these two guys. Even if you hate the Nuclear Free Zone ordinance, Normoyle and Knight haven't made themselves available during the campaign, haven't answered our questions, and don't deserve your vote.

Plus Ira Knight can't spell.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Jeff's "The Place I Live Now"

Strange to find this post on USS Mariner, but it is a credit to my collegue a the fish commision, Jeff Shaw. Gifted writer he is, puts me to shame.

But, Jeff is writing about the good old concept of "home" and that sense of place we hear about from time to time. I recently picked up Scott Russell Sander's Staying Put: Making a Home in a Restless World (in my Bowling Alone series of reading), so Jeff's post in especially meaningfull to me.

Enjoy (and I really mean that, enjoy):


I inform our throng, since I’ve got a long drive home to Bellingham. This brings an unexpected query.

“Bellingham? Why,” Curto asks with furrowed brow, “do you live in Bellingham?

He doesn’t say it with scorn, just bewilderment, the tone of voice you’d use to ask why a guy collects antique Palauan toothpicks. Something you figure people do, but have never considered doing yourself.

I think for a second. “Because I love it there,” I say. It’s an honest answer, if facile and incomplete, and for a moment it’s all I’ve got.


When I came to Bellingham, it was because my wife got a job. In journalism, you move roughly every two years until you get where you really want to go. The ‘Ham wasn’t supposed to be home, not really; the lovely and talented Ms. Shaw was always going to get a gig in the greater Seattle area. So it went.

This is the natural order. Waterfalls don’t flow uphill, rivers don’t run backwards to the headwaters. These patterns have all, in my experience, held true to form.


The unruly facial hair wouldn’t be conspicious in my town, with its complement of campsite monks, snowboard priests and kayak devotees whose faith is the mountain or threshing white rapids. The place’s apt nickname is City of Subdued Excitement, and the laconic pace and lack of pretense are appealing. I like pulling out my dress flannel and good ballcap for important meetings.

When you come, you’re issued a Subaru wagon so you can take your dogs (always plural) to Baker or the coast in rain, shine or snow. My basset hounds always roll with me into a friend’s office — the nerve center of a multi-million dollar foundation. Friends came to my scotch-and-cards birthday party with their rambunctious German shepherd and Rhodesian ridgeback in tow.

Neither of us asked first. Because in Bellingham, it’s expected.

But I’ve lived in low-key, outdoorsy places before. So what has me internally quoting poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s simple but elegant lines “I like it here / and I won’t go back / where I came from”? Is it that university towns are great, with their magical blend of intellectual stimulation and affordable beer? Or is it something else entirely?


Change is constant in all things. Bellingham isn’t exempt. Like I said, rivers never run backwards, and you can’t stop the onrush. You can sell your studio in San Diego, buy a place on Lake Whatcom, and have enough left to buy an entire herd of purebred poodles.

So these days, patches of new buildings that all look the same spring up by the dozens. They stand out next to the funky old Painted Lady Victorians done up in wild pastels, or the Craftsman style homes where hippies let their kids decide the colors, with a flurry of resulting purples and reds. The old places fit in here as pastiche homes for a pastiche town, a city formed by fusing three smaller burgs into a nonsensical conundrum of navigation.

One recently transplanted colleague, a wealthy sort and the proud new owner of a fresh-from-the-oven cookie cutter, drove by our house last year. The reasonably understated place got a telling outburst. “That’s so old Bellingham,” she said.

It was in no way meant as a compliment. Which is precisely why I took it as one.


When finishing a book I love, I manifest an odd habit. I tend to place the final section of pages between my thumb and forefinger to gauge how much time this particular story and I have left. As fun as the tale is, there’s always a touch of melancholy when you see it winding down.

This feeling amplifies the more stories you read, or the more places you live. Each is unique. The best, paradoxically, inspire the most regret as they pass. Colors get richer and quirks more endearing while the clock ticks.

The feelings are amplified now that I have substantial experience reading the handwriting on walls in successive temporary homes.

The ‘Ham — either as it is or as it is becoming — is certainly not all sunshine and roses. (As far north as we are, there’s precious little sun, and the soil’s iffy in places for rosebushes.) It seemed that the wife and I spent most of the first year looking for people to hike in the rain with. Tough to meet folks, friendly or no, when they’re always racing up a different hill or paddling to a San Juan island.

But you break in a new town like a fresh item of clothing. Comfort comes in stages. I live in Bellingham because, for now, it’s the shirt from the fondly-remembered concert, that pair of jeans that’s just threadbare enough.


Time to go home. For now.

On rereading it just now, I came back over Jeff's line "either as it is or as it is becoming." This thought may be above my pay-rate, but isn't any place, town or community always "as it is becoming?"

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Salmon recovery through civic involvement

Amen brother:
So, what can you do?

Contact your local government public works/planning department and the state Ecology or Fish and Wildlife departments. Find out what watershed you live in, which fish live in your home stream, and the quality of your home stream's biology and water quality. Ask if future land-use plans will not only accommodate new human populations, but also protect your stream's salmon at the same time. Learn about any local stream-protection initiatives and how you and your children can get involved.


By the way, not only do salmon return to your watershed in the fall, candidates for city, town and county councils are also there seeking your support. Find out their views on your watershed's ecology. Then cast a well-thought-out vote. That action is a critically important step that you can take to make your local creek safe for kids and fish once again.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My idea: Civic Societies throughout America

Submitted to the SEIU's

To adress two problems -- the decline of communities and the polorazation -- I propose the creation local civic societies throughout the county. The societies, local non-profits, would be forums to discuss local issues and propose solutions, through polite discourse.

Their role wouldn't be to make decisions, but to advocate open communication between the government and citizens and between citizens. Civic societies are common in England (such as the Manchester Civic Society:, or just Google "civic society."

The goals of civic societies can be summed up in two of Manchester's bullet points:

"To keep watch over the city as it changes, identifying and praising what is good, challenging and seeking to improve what is not good enough"

"To promote, through publications and public debate, a greater interest in Manchester, its neighbours, the challenges faced and the opportunities to be grasped"

The socieites would governed by a board of a few elected officials, but mostly private citizens. They would be funded through a 1 or 2 percent set aside from local government budgets.

John G. Bell out of the race

If nominated, I will not run. If elected, I will not serve. From an email exchange with John Griogaire Bell:

I apologize for the delay in responding to your e-mail.

For personal reasons, I have been unable to actively campaign and I would be unable to accept the position on city council if I were to win the election. Therefore, I have decided that it would be unethical to take contributions or to participate in any candidate forums.

It is not possible to remove my name from the ballot nor change the statement in the voters pamphlet, so I am contacting you with this information. I will also be placing this notice on the website provided in the statement.

Thank you,

John G. Bell

On Sep 30, 2005, at 7:29 PM, Emmett O'Connell wrote:

Hi John,

This is Emmett from Olympia Time ( I haven't heard much from you since you commented a couple months ago. How is the campaign going?

Monday, October 10, 2005

Normoyle for council, straight out of Lacey

There is no Michael Normoyle for City Council website (that I know of). There are some Ira Knight-like Normoyle signs up around town. But, it is interesting to point out that if you want to see the books for Mr. Normoyle's campaign, you need to go to Lacey.

Leaving town for a city council campaign's books isn't all the interesting, since skilled Treasurers sometimes live outside of Olympia, but it looks like Mike rents a conference room for his public books. Huh, an Oly conference room not good enough for you?

Sunday, October 09, 2005

The Olympia Times

The Olympia Times, not Olympia Time, is now over on the right hand side under Olympia Blogs. In addition to being another good local blog, this guy can take some serious pics. Being someone who is paid to take pictures, and fully knowledgeable of my limitations in that regard, I respect his skill.

October Democrat Discussion: I-912 and framing taxes

Thurston County Democrat Discussion Group will take on the issues brought up by I-912, which seeks to revoke the recent 9.5 cent gas tax. We will also discuss progressively framing the broader issue of taxation.

Tuesday, October 11, 7-9 p.m.
Olympia Center
222 Columbia St NW
Olympia, WA
Room 102 (first floor)

The Discussion Group is a meeting for Democrats in Thurston County who want a "low impact" informative meeting to discuss topics of the day and to get more involved in the Democratic Party.

For more information on groups fighting I-912, go to:
Washington Defense
Keep Washington Rolling

For more information on the Democrat Discussion Group, go here.

Dean's plans

Months and months into his chairmanship, Gov. Dean's plans are apparently in place:
  • Making Democrats the party of values, community and reform. Armed with extensive DNC polling, Dean is consulting with party leaders in Congress, mayors and governors to recast the public's image of Democrats with a unified message.
  • Improving the party's "micro-targeting," the tactic of merging political information about voters with their consumer habits to figure out how to appeal to them.
  • Building a 50-state grass-roots organization, using the same Internet and community-building tools that took Dean's presidential bid from obscurity to the front of the pack before Iowa
  • This is good to hear, especially the last bullet point. Since the launch of the new, it has been well short of my expectations in a meetup-like (or even like) community building system.

    Saturday, October 08, 2005

    Olyblog does it again: Blogging the USS Olympia

    This never would have happened at the Olympian, but Rick McKinnon of Olyblog tracked down Robert Schumacher, a sailor serving on the USS Olympia who not only blogs, but now blogs at Olyblog. And, if that doesn't surprise you at all describes himself as a "mainly liberal Democrat." Take that, Ira Knight.

    Obviously, the conversation with Rob at Olyblog went almost directly to the Nuclear Free Zone ordinance that the Oly Council recently passed. Rob the submariner had this to say initially:
    Interestingly enough on the submarine blog I co-contribute to, one of the topics today was Los Angeles-class sub relations with namesake cities. I wasn't really familiar with the NFZ issue until a few weeks ago when I reported to Olympia and my buddies at the sub blog let me know about it (most of them are very conservative and had...opinions...on the issue).

    ...I'm part of the engineering department, a reactor operator by rate, and I can tell you there is a night-and-day difference between nuclear weapons and nuclear power. While I'm pretty liberal myself, I think nuclear energy (for purposes like electrical power generation) is a great way to go, if managed and given the proper oversight. I can't speak to civilian nuclear power, but I can tell you the Navy has an unparalled record of safety and success with it's plants, both shipboard and land based.

    Read the entire conversation, its a great take on the entire NFZ and the entire situation surrounding the USS Oly.

    Ira Knight, no longer fighting pundants

    No, he never really fixed the spelling issue, but he just took down the page with "pundant" on it for a pointless redesign of his website. If you're wondering, yes, you can still sign waive for Ira.

    Thursday, October 06, 2005

    Open source v. Proprietary Politics

    Washblog had a great headline to a short post that really got to me. It referred a post about Microsoft giving more money to Republicans than Dems. Well, any money at all it turns out.

    Either way, here it is: "Linux, Apple, Open Source, Competition, Democrats." Contrasted with the text of the post: "Windows, Diebold, Proprietary, Monopoly, Republican."

    This reminded me of all the stuff I was writing about over the summer when I was all abuzz about the Top Two primary. My point back then was that there is a deep down difference between nature of the the two parties. Now I just have a different way to articulate it:

    Democrats are Firefox (or some other open source software).

    Republicans are Explorer (or some other failed proprietary software).

    In the Top Two realm, this would mean that Democrats would be ok with whomever chose to vote in their party ranks, even up to election day. Republicans would be a bit more stodgy about such an arrangement and get all bent out of shape.

    The Democratic Party should be an open source party, because when you get down to it, all politics should be so called open source.

    Good ideas are good ideas, and good candidates don't neccesarily get endorsed by the state chair.

    Being involved in politics or your community (I don't think they're exclusive at all though) is good, it means your part of the solution. Not being involved is being part of the problem.

    Open source software works because there are lots of people involved, making "whatever" work for the good of the everyone.

    Politics works when everyone gets involved and everyone is heard. Its our democracy and it should be our Democratic Party.

    Baird to retire?

    Certainly an oh crap moment:
    The word on the street is that Congressman Brian Baird of the 3rd District may be contemplating retirement in the not-so-distant future. Baird has spent 6 years in Congress, and recently welcomed twins into the family. It is not clear if this news relates to 2006 or 2008, but times they are a changing.

    We will keep you informed as more details or news emerges, but put that feather into your cap.

    For all the complaints Olympia Dems have about Brian Baird, I constantly remind myself that the WA-3 not too long ago was represented by Linda Smith.

    In response to some of the commentary about Baird's announcement regarding 2006, we wanted to share an additional tidbit that has come this way. We have heard, but not yet confirmed, that a member of the State Legislature recently hired a senior Baird campaign official, ostensibly to manage the 2006 reelection campaign for said legislator. This caused us to ask why a legislator that lives in the 3rd Congressional District would need a congressional-caliber staff member to manage a campaign for a less than competitive legislative seat. As we said before, this is pure conjecture, and merely for your amusement and discussion. But it is definitely another feather worth putting in your cap.
    Sounds like for folks in the know, they can just work backwards and fill in names of the state legislator and staffer. I'm not so inclined though.