Friday, December 29, 2006

The race for Pierce County Democratic chair

Over a few days and about a dozen emails, I've put together a short piece on the three way race for chair of the Pierce County Democrats over at Washblog. I suspect a lot of subtext going on between the candidates, they seem to say the same things, but there are differences.

In the comments, there is a start to a great conversation on IRV.

Seattle ruining it for the rest of us

Oly School Board member Rich Nafziger makes a great point about how perception and reality are different, and can cause real harm to the rest of us (I'm about two months late on this post, by the way):
Between a horribly managed school board meeting where the Seattle School Board President allowed activists to hurl racist ephitats as the Superintendent and a gutless decision to back down on a well thought out strategy to down size schools to meet enrollments declines, came a major blow to efforts to increase public funding for education in Washington State.

The next day, the board's incompetence led to the resignation of Seattle's highly regarded superintendent, Raj Manhas. The board made no effort to encourage him to stay.

Seattle School may only make up 5% of the state's 1,000,000 school children, but it's influence on public perception goes way beyond its numbers. Every board meeting gets covered by Seattle TV, Radio and newspapers which reach nearly every television set, radio and porch step in the entire state. While news of local school board meetings in Belleveue, Lake Washington or Federal Way may carry by word of mouth or from student to parent, Seattle Schools get the big and regular coverage on the dinner time TV. And we are all paying the price.
It is true, whatever happens in Seattle is covered with more intensity than any other place. Had the Mardi Gras fiasco of a few years ago happened in Yakima or Bremerton, it would have been forgotten in a few weeks. But, with live tape from downtown Seattle, it kept us going for the better part of a year.

Most school boards operate professionally, without fuss and take the education of students seriously. But, since they don't meet within blocks of Fischer Plaza, they don't merit the same attention. Granted, Seattle is one of the largest school districts, but not larger than all the districts in Pierce County I'd bet.

Anyway, its still great to have a local elected official blogging.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

George Will diary at dKos

No one else had so far, so I wrote a little thing about how Will mistook some stats from the Pew Report on Bloggers in his column from last week.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Anti-social social network: Democratic Party Builder

The fatal flaw of the Democratic Party's Party Builder social networking platform is that you can prevent people from finding you. On a list of people registered at Party Builder close to zip code 98501 only three people show up inside Thurston County.

On the Thurston County Democrats group that I manage, there are five members. Two don't have names (just "Democrat in Olympia WA") because they aren't friends of mine and they have decided to let other people know who they are.

When you sign up for Party Builder you are given the option to remain unknown to anyone else on the system, aside from your friends. This will end up killing Party Builder.

If you can remained unsearchable, unbrowsable, uninvitable, and unseen in a social network, you simply don't exist. And, if a lot of people choose not to be seen within a network, no actual social networking is going to happen. No one is going to message anyone else, no one is going to read anyone's blog, no one is going to be invited to any groups or become friends who wouldn't already be friends because of an offline relationship.

And, by the way, if you join a social network and just want to be left alone, then I have no idea what to tell you.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

5 things you don't know about me

Right back atcha.

1. I've sustained five concussions. You may know this about me actually, since I usually mention it during the "my worst injury" discussions. But, why not start a "five" list with something that has happened to me five times?

2. I once wrote a book. Not a nanowrimo book, but a honest to goodness, from beginning to end book. I only know a handful of people who have actually read it, and no copies exist anymore. I was much younger then, its painful to even thing about it. I still love the title though.

3. Pat Lennon once handed me a baseball bat. That is something else I don't have anymore. Of course, it was cracked at the handle.

4. On my first try fly fishing, I caught a sea run cutthroat trout. I haven't caught anything fly fishing since.

5. My first position on any newspaper's masthead was as the sports editor for the DSU Hornet. Note to college newspapers: Do Not name your paper after your school's mascot. It is simply confusing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Changing the Democratic Party (in Thurston County)

I posted a couple of ideas (here and here) on some bylaw changes for the Thurston County Democrats. We're supposed to have a meeting in early January to cover whatever changes we want in the bylaws.

The first is pretty substantive, it would give a vote to any paid member who participates at a certain level. Like an earned vote.

The second is more philosophical in nature.

Many times when a PCO suggests a particular course of action, another PCO will counter that it doesn't mesh well enough with our major goal of "electing Democrats." Usually the course of action is something nice, like sending a check to the food bank or something else equally nice. While it may make the world a better place, it doesn't "elect Democrats" in the same manner that buying ad space or donating to campaigns does, so its out the door.

The sad thing is, local political parties used to be about more than "electing Democrats." It used to be that local parties and Democratic clubs were "political organization one day in the year; ... a charitable-benevolent fraternal organization three hundred and sixty five."

I think we should get back to something more like that, an organization that is good by being good. Let the various campaign committees be campaign committees.

More on this kind of thinking at Blue Tiger Democrats.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Responses to my city's movies

Responses from my city to my email (kind of repeated in this post below). They seem pretty open to the idea, but of course tech questions abound.

Even if they don't do it as the normal way of doing things, it would be great to supplement the paid movie postings with additional free ones.

Mayor Mark Foutch:
Emmett, those look like great suggestions to me and we'll ask our staff look into them. As a 65-year-old perpetually three technology generations behind current apps, I'm continually amazed at the explosion of new options out there. I'm glad we have both a great professional City staff AND a citizenry expert in subjects from Art to Zoology, and willing to share their expertise with us.

Thanks a lot.

Mark Foutch
Cathie Butler, the city's communications manager:
Hi, Emmett - wanted to let you know I've passed your email along to
Shawn Ward who is the City's IT Manager. This is way beyond my
knowledge of systems. FYI, the Granicus is more then video streaming;
it's also the system we use to produce Council meeting minutes and post
both the minutes and Council agenda documents so they are connected with
the streaming video. Cathie
Councilmember Joe Hyer:
Emmett -

I think the tech folks got forwarded your email to respond ... but I do know a couple of things that explain it better - it wasn't just video streaming we got with grannicus, it also does the minutes in an easier way, which has cost us thousands in overtime for staff to do in the past ... and links the minutes with the video.
We also have to have guaranteed level of service for citizens, and the free services can't offer access and reliability...guaranteed.

But I think the real kicker is the time savings in MINUTES preparation --- the added bonus was the ability to video stream...

See ya soon,


Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The movies my city produces

Something like this I just sent to the city council:

This year the City of Olympia spent $20,000 (following a $45,000 set up fee) to stream videos of our city council meetings, along with some other videos, online. This seems to be a waste of money to me.

Google Video, or some other similar free service, seems like a better option.

Yesterday I cut out of one of the streamed videos and educational portion on the city's budget (available here). Instead of wading through the streaming function on our city's website, I decided it would be better that this portion of the movie available in a much simpler format.

TCTV actually posts many of its videos online at Google Video. The advantage, other than cost, to use such a service is that once the movies are up, they can be shared. Bloggers can embed them into their own sites and the links are much easier to email than the current service.

All of the video files the city produces could be available online in totally public and shareable format, rather than the expensive and proprietary fashion they are now. Even if the city keeps it contract with the firm it uses the stream the videos, they should also upload movies to places like Google Video.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Baseball and Japan radio show

They haven't scheduled a date yet, but Radio Open Source is digging on my idea for a show. Baseball and Japan.

Originally miffed that the hated Red Sox were going to get their hands on the primo Japanese pitcher this year, I started reading The Meaning of Ichiro and became even more enthralled. Written by the same guy who wrote You Gotta Have Wa, it brings the idea of Being America, Being Japan and Being Baseball to entirely new places.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Irony of that last post

Here is something funny to mull over while you chew on that post below.

The Washington State Democrats (the elected chair and I assume the staff he hired) don't like the suggestion for a blog or any other cluetrain type stuff.

Wes Beal would be the lead staff on any techie stuff like that, as technical director of the state party.

Here is Wes Beal's blog. He raises money through ActBlue, something the state party doesn't do on their own site.

Here is his post about getting the job with the party. Strangely the posts sort of peter out after that. Maybe there is a blogging kibosh I don't know about up there?

Cluetrain not for Washington Democrats

Willis Reed from a comment at HA yesterday:
You’re still ticked off that there isn’t an offical Wa Dems blog? You’ve had that in your craw since April? Really? Aren’t there bigger things to worry about? Remember, those that don’t blog tend to underestimate their usefulness, those that do blog tend to overestimate their usefulness.
Yes, I still have that in my craw, though it isn't as simple as an "official state party blog." Truth be told I could go forever with the state party never having a blog. I'd be as happy as I'd ever be without one, because that sort of band-aid approach to the internet isn't at all what I'm talking about.

(By the way, I was going to title this post "Cluetards," but that, I thought, wouldn't be very nice. Actually would be insulting. But, I do like that word, so I'd thought I'd mention it).

Willis was responding to my linking to this post at Evergreen Politics, which describes an idea Ken Camp had last spring to cluetrain the state party by establishing, among a ton of other things, a state party blog.

In addition to Dwight Pelz's initial rebuff of the idea, I think that we had an election this year pretty much killed any chance Ken's ideas would be heard. As Willis would probably say, there were bigger things to worry about.

And, well, right now, there aren't those big things to worry about for a little bit. So, why not worry about getting the party on the cluetrain again? We have just over one year before our Presidential cycle caucuses bring tons of new people into the fold for at least a few hours, why not be prepared to give them something to hold onto?

This wasn't something I was going to get over. This is exactly how I got interested in politics as participant, rather than a cynical observer. Some campaign "got it" in a very deep sense, and hooked me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Belltowner screams a good scream on Pelz

Belltowner was booted from Washblog for using naught words to defend chairman Dwight. So, a few days later he posts this, makes fun of a man's birthmark and making a bunch of unfunny stuff up.

I would love to say that Will KellyKelley-Kamp's (aka Belltowner) love song to Pelz makes any sense, but to me, it falls flat. But, if that is what he wants to do, more power to him.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My rambling diary

The headline seems to make little sense, but I really liked the piece written by a New American fellow on California politics.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cool House LD maps that I made into a movie

I took Chad Lupkes' great maps of the Washington State legislative districts and made them into a movie.

The Myspace War on Better Donkey

I've recently become a front pager at Washblog, so my other front paging duties at the other local political blog I was attached to, Better Donkey, is pretty much over.

In looking back at that site, which is pretty much empty of recent of posts from anyone anyway, I noticed some action at my MySpace for Civics Education idea. That post comes up when folks search "Ban MySpace," so it has been getting some comments about people engaged in the "Oh, MySpace is causing the demise of civilization... Oh, No its not" debate.

One feels MySpace, above other social networking sites like Friendster, Facebook, or Facebox.
I am with you on Banning My space. I have a 17 year old daughter whom has been on that site for over two years. Everytime she gets on it she gets moody and crabby. People leave horrible messages, when she puts comments on it she gets attacked for her own opinion. Also I believe you are asking for trouble when you belong to that site. Ever watch Dateline???
Crabby teenagers, huh??? Attacked for your opinion online??? Anyway, this comment sort of relates to my original idea, that a MySpace like application could work to teach not only civics, but the practice of civics. If you can't take people disagreeing with you, then, probably your best bet is to stay out of the conversation.

But, then again, people should be nice, over all.

One teenager and another unnamed commenter seem to get it:
And just because kids talk on the compuer doesn't mean they talk in person as well. Myspace and the internet just opens up a person and allows them to be more comfortable with their friends. Being in person might make a kid feel awkward, ever think about that?
So basically if you're going to ban myspace... opt to ban the internet itself as a whole as well because they're wuite similar... if you've ever visited myspace you'd see it's a smaller version simply better for comunication.
Pointing out the irony of arguing against MySpace on a website:
ok fair enough myspace isn't the greatest but it's very hypocritical if you put point on this site, because you are using the web to sate your point just like people on myspace. Myspace is a great way to show yourself to anyone in the world plus many bands that are now headliners at masiive gigs like artic monkeys used myspace to get where they are! so give it a break
See you later BetterDonkey!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I finally weigh in on the libertarian/Democratic thing

I know, you've been wondering "where does Emmett fall in this entire libertarians are going to start voting Democratic thing?" Well, here you go. Its a diary at Left in the West because I thought that since I was inspired by Matt Singer's take, I should respond on his site.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My notes from tonight's reorganization meeting

Here are my notes from the reorganization meeting for the Thurston County Democrats and (surprisingly) the LD 22 Democrats:

Bob McLeod, this is where the political career of Bob McLeod began. Presented the last of his campaign funds to the county party. Anne Hirsh swears in the PCOs.

Usually the chairs and vice chairs of the LD 22 and TCD are the same, since 22 is completely enclosed within Thurston County. This year, though, we elected a separate chair, vice-chair.

Speaking of returning money, Paul Pickett (who won a very close race for PUD)

Agenda is adopted so we’ll handle bylaw stuff next month.

Paul Berendt nominates John Cusick for chair. No other nominations for chair, but Paul still made his nomination speech. Thruston County really is gifted with a fabulous chair in John Cusick. He’s professional, respectful of the grassroots. We’re trying very hard to get people involvd who haven’t been involved before. We want to do a much better job reaching out to the outlying districts. Time is ticking and we’re getting older, and we really need to recruit and train younger people to hold leadership positions in the party.

First Vice Chair. Current first vice chair Debby Pattin nominates Elizabeth Shepard. Elected by acclamation.

2nd Vice Chair. Roger Erskine nominates Jerry Muchmore, who served as campaign services committee chair this last time around. Elected by acclamation.

Secretary. Jeff Holcumb, the current secretary nominates Christine Garst, who was member at large on the executive committee and coordinated the sunshine fund. Elected by acclamation.

Current treasurer Jane Johnson nominates Helen Wheatley, who worked on campaign services. Elected by acclamation.

Debby Pattin nominated for state committeewoman. Elected by acclamation.

Karen Van (Tumwater City Councilmember) nominates Roger Erskin as state committeeman. We really need to make sure the PCOs are connected all the way up to the state committee. We need to be active in those races (in 2007) so we’re building our party up to 2008. Elected by acclamation.

Linda Lombard moved that we approve our $20 dues again for next year. Approved by acclamation.

Approval of the banking institution. Jane Johnson suggests we maintain accounts at the state employees credit union.

Cathy ?? the state committee woman from Mason County (who is running for the 35th) brings up the topic of a possible change in the way the state committee is made up, warning against the possibility of taking away the LD state committee positions. Apparently a move is afoot to by urban state committee people to take positions away from the LDs.

Mike Rechner gets up to thank everyone. I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be a thorn is someone’s side for the next two years. I’m probably going to go again.

Jeane Marie Christensen, who lost the LD 2 Rep race thanked everyone. The TCD was the single largest contributor to her campaign and she was elected 1st Vice Chair.

22nd LD meeting.

Jim Cooper nominated for LD chair. “He’s young bright and articulate.” Was a veteran, served in the army. Teaching leadership and team dynamics. We make sure the resources are there when people need them, keeping the playing field level for all the LDs in the county. Elected by acclamation.

John Cusick nominates Debby Pattin for 1st Vice chair. Elected by acclamation.

Helen Hunt nominates Russ Olson for secretary/treasurer. Elected by acclamation.

I nominated Hillary Hunt for state committeewoman. Elected by acclamation.

Zach Smith gets nominated for state committeeman. Elected by acclamation. It looks like I’m going to be the senior member of the 22nd LD. We need to get new people involved, we need to get tons of new people involved. This time the West is going to be very important. Elected by acclamation.

Thurston County Democrats reorg is tonight

I'm pretty sure I'm voting for Roger Erskine and Debby Pattin, who are the only two folks that I've heard from that they're actually running for something. I'm assuming that everyone else on the executive board is also running (maybe not Linda Lombard, but then again haven't heard).

That is the most annoying part of this process, hardly anyone has really said if they're running. I'll end up voting for a full slate, but I feel weird about going into a meeting tonight voting for people when we could have been talking about this for weeks.

We have a blog we have a listserv. Why not use them and make this an open process?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sarah has a blog, awesome

Here it is.

She gets her first inbound link before any outbound ones. How funny.

Sarah is an former co-worker and cube neighbor of mine, who is one of those people who always assumed would have a blog, but she never actually did. Glad she has one now though.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Civility rules in Olympia, and growing democracy

The city council passed a new pedestrian interference ordinance this week, which pissed a bunch of people off, some enough to protest one of the city councilmember's business. They seem to have backed off though, and now we're getting some really good suggestions. And, some others I'm not so sure of, but I respect the intent.

One of the above links (this one) refers to a the idea of a better public process in Olympia dealing with big community issues. Our common things as it where. Here is a great paragraph:
A friend of mine who is an Appreciate Inquiry Facilitator, attended the Town Hall meeting in September. Following the meeting, she shared with me her observations that it seemed the community members were talking AT each other and not WITH each other. She has since offered to train a Steering Committee made up of community members and leaders in the appreciate inquiry process with our wider community aimed at opening up channels of dialogue, getting to know one another's perspectives, wants and needs in life and begin to find creative solutions to complex community issues. I have mentioned this offer to the City Council and will continue to follow up with individual council members about utilizing her knowledge and training. I mention this, because it is my belief that this form of communication may be much more effective in bringing our community together to meet the needs of both those on the streets and those who are housed. What do you think?

I want a Spokane Indians hat

UPDATE: Great comment thread here.

This is a great way to deal with divisive issues:
The Spokane Indians Baseball Club, in conjunction with the Spokane Tribe of Indians, today unveiled new team logos and uniforms. This is believed to be the first time that a professional sports team has worked in conjunction with a local tribe to create a team identity.


When the team began to contemplate a new logo two years ago, they started with the assumption that, once again, the best way to show respect to local tribes would be to stay away from any Native American imagery. However, during a meeting with the Spokane Tribe’s Culture Committee early in the logo development process, it became clear that the use of subtle and respectful Indian images would be welcomed by the Tribe. The Spokane Tribal Council released the following statement about the Spokane Indians logo and the process of creating the new identity:

“Immediately upon contact from the Spokane Indians Baseball Management team, the Spokane Tribe believed the request to offer input with the team’s new look would prove to be a win-win situation for all involved. The Spokane Tribal Council along with input from its Culture Committee, and community Elders wanted to use this opportunity to build a long lasting successful working relationship with the baseball team carrying the Spokane Tribe’s name.”

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Responses from my Boys and Girls club idea

Mayor Mark Foutch and councilmember Joe Hyer get back to me on my idea:

My email:
I was following the discussion the last couple of weeks regarding the possible closure of the after school programs at Olympia Middle Schools. Has there been any discussion about bringing the Boys and Girls Club into the formula?

Olympia, unlike Tumwater and Lacey, has no Boys and Girls Clubs. I would think that have one of two programs in Olympia would take pressure off of the city from having to provide after school alternatives.

Emmett O'Connell

Mayor Mark:
Emmett, as I understand it the YMCA already provides these programs in the elementary schools by charging families (and allowing low income kids to participate free or at reduced rates). So while we seem to be ready to extend funding at WMS to keep the program going as is for the rest of the school year, we will be looking for other options. One might be for our Parks and Rec dept to continue to run the programs in middle schools but charge/administer a fee schedule. Another might be to engage a nonprofit like the Y or B and G clubs. Stay tuned for opportunities to weigh in on this.


I know discussion has occurred as to whether or not OPARD is the best vehicle to deliver these services, and I heard YMCA mentioned at one point. I also know these are great services, and we want them to continue --- I'll pass on the bOys and Girls CLub idea, which I had not considered ...



Friday, November 24, 2006

After school programs (Olympia city buget), why not get the Boys and Girls Club involved?

The city of Olympia is considering lopping $18,000 of its budget by either charging for an after school program they run out of our local middle schools, or by cutting it out completly. This reminded me of a decision the council made earlier this year to cut a down down youth drop in program (saving $30,000).

At the time I wondered that maybe geography killed the downtown program, that because of where the program was situated, that it was doomed to failure. Teen programs in residential neighborhoods survive, while ones in ones in commercial downtowns will fail.

The decision to cut the the middle school based programs seems more budgetary than a concern over their popularity. Kids like them, we just can't afford them. Which is why is makes sense to charge for them, possibly with some sliding scale fees involved.

Anyway, I've known this for awhile, but of the three major cities in Thurston County, Olympia is the only one without a Boys and Girls Club (Tumwater, Lacey and even Rochester have one). Why wouldn't partnering with a new Boys and Girls Club, instead of leaving it up to the city Parks and Rec. Department, save costs? Plus, this is what the B&G Club do, I think they'd have a good idea of how exactly to do this kind of thing well.

For me, this is as much a conversation about public space as it is about where kids go after school when their parents aren't home. We should be thinking about how to provide more public space and using our current public space (especially our under used schools) more effectively. I wrote about a similar thought to use our high schools as after hours public libraries here.

This week on the Olympia city council

Last week was a hoot, this week is about more civility and police taking pictures of people and what they do with those pictures.

There should be something more about today

Already, before I woke up today, people had already lined up and qued into stores across the country. All the craziness -- trampling, running through stores to get deeply discounted DVD players -- would have already happened before I even had any coffee. I'm not saying there was any craziness this year, I haven't really checked yet.

Here is one video indicating we're in for another sad Black Friday (people lined up 13 hours early at a Best Buy in Maryland):

Even without people literally walking over each other for the best deals this morning, the spirit of Black Friday lives, and that's what I'm sad about today. On the day after Thanksgiving, we as a nation start our steep commercial climb into the Christmas season. And, I wish for at least today there was an alternative. An alternative for fellowship and service.

The only actual "organized" alternative to Black Friday is Buy Nothing Day. Organized in North America by AdBusters, Buy Nothing Day is, in my opinion, a reactionary and eventually negative answer to Black Friday. You see, I'm successfully buying nothing today.

I'm going to watch my son for most of the day, watch some college football and read a couple of good books. Pretty common day for fall.

But, these things don't actually improve anything that is ruined by Black Friday. Simply "buying nothing" doesn't make my community better, serve anyone or take away the bad effects of Black Friday, so in the end it rings hollow.

We need a positive reaction to not only Black Friday, but also "Buy Nothing Day." Maybe a magazine like Sojourners or a blog like Street Prophets promoting a day of service, similar to how Martin Luther King day has become a day of service.

While the folks at AdBusters are right, no one was "born to shop," we were all born to be of service and in fellowship. On all days, after we give thanks for our blessings, we should give service and love to our communities.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Sam Hunt, civic engagment and the internets

Rep. Hunt's letter from this morning:
State needs program to reach young voters

The Olympian's article on the recent mock student election underscores the concern many of us have about the "political literacy" of the next generation of voters. All of us should be alarmed that only 4.4 percent of eligible 18- to 21-year-olds in Thurston County - the seat of our state government - actually vote.

Even more alarming is the fact that young people don't participate in civic processes because, as the article points out, they don't understand or feel comfortable with such processes.

That's why I have asked my fellow state legislators to join me in urging Gov. Chris Gregoire to include sufficient funds in the 2007-09 state budget to support a public-private effort to develop a student election and civic education program.

The prototype for such a program would be hands-on, Internet driven and age-appropriate to capture and hold student interest. The goal will be to promote a practical familiarity with actual campaign and election "mechanics," not just the philosophical underpinnings of our system of government. In my view, this will encourage greater participation when such students reach voting age.

Thank you for highlighting this issue in your paper, and I urge you and your readers to join us in supporting this effort.

Rep. Sam Hunt, 22nd Legislative District
Maybe this is one more thing for us to talk about when we get around to talking next week.

I like the idea of teaching civics via the internet (and here), so I think a TVW like effort (a non-profit funded by the state) would work.

I also like that he started with the example of voting, but broadened his argument to "great participation," implying that it isn't just voting we should be worried about, but rather deeper participation like lobbying local government, civil discussion and organizing (boy that sounds heavy).

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Terry Thompson, who doesn't know blogs, doesn't know the web either

This is something I noticed a couple of days ago, but a visitor who googled "Terry Thompson political consultant" and stumbled upon my post about Terry Thompson not understanding blogs reminded me to write about it.

When you look for Terry on the internet (with either "Olympia" or "political consultant" attached to it) you get my post about him way before you find a link to his own website. The reason for this is that Terry hasn't taken the proper steps to increase his google page rank.

Of course, his page should be the first one you find when you search "Terry Thompson Olympia" or especially "Terry Thompson political consultant," but they're not.

What you find is some jerk bad-mouthing him.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Local e-democracy in the UK maturing


A few years ago the UK began a major technological push in their national government that included a Local E-Democracy section, which according to David Wilcox of Designing for Civil Society, are coming into their own. This can happen here too.

Which may explain the reaction of an outgoing Brit pol to internet citizens:

Taylor also compared British citizens to "teenagers" and suggested that they could be "caricatured as being increasingly unwilling to be governed but not yet capable of self-government."

Talk about condescending!

I'm sure from the perspective of a politician sitting at the center of what used to be a top-down system of authority, the flowering of public voices online can't be pleasant. But Taylor ought to realize that he is blaming the public for a system that was designed by politicians to keep the public out, with the result that we think the worst of them. If people seem unruly and disrespectful, maybe it's because the politicians aren't using the internet to let them in and share in understanding how government works and can be reworked.

Two more posts at Washblog (and one stewing)

I think I'm contributing at Washblog by not doing any out of the box thinking.

Two more posts from today and yesterday, one digesting the posts on why Darcy lost, the other on Mike!

What I'm trying to do is replicate, to the best of my ability, what Carl was doing at Washington State Political Report, but different. I'm not sure how yet, but you can probably see.

Bill Samuels of Blue Tiger on Air America

If you want a good rundown on what Blue Tigers all are about and why Michigan becoming the first state to partner with them, watch this... uh... radio conversation.

I'm writing Dwight this morning to ask him what he thinks.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Blue Tiger video motherload

Wow, poking around the internet for a few minutes and I stumble upon the mother load of Blue Tiger videos. The following are parts of a talk on Internet Giving and Civic Engagement, but before that, read this section of the press release announcing the new arrangement between Blue Tiger and the Michigan Democrats:
The Michigan Democratic Party and Blue Tiger Democrats perceive the lack of respect and credibility for politicians and political parties to be a paramount problem.

Consider this:

• From 2000 to 2004, there has been a 21% increase in the number of self-identified independents;
• Membership in state and local political organizations has been cut in half over the
past forty years while financial contributions have increasingly replaced time commitment;
• 70% of all funds raised go to television advertisements that generally hurt the credibility of political parties; and
• $1.6 billion in 2004 campaign contributions went to political advertisements while nearly nothing went to local civic engagement.
The videos are three parts of a presentation and group discussion. If you follow this link to one of the videos, you should be able to find plenty of other videos of Blue Tiger activities in the sidebar.

I know I've said in the past that those Blue Tigers need to do a better job on the internet, but it is just sad that it has taken me so long to find these videos.

I need to do a better job keeping an eye on their site. The movies where here all along, but I wouldn't have missed them had the Blue Tigers launched a blog.

Michigan is first Blue Tiger state

Will Washington be the second? Probably not, we don't get much for Blue Tiger Democrats up in these parts, but I love their mantra of "sending money to local organizations to serve their community and build the base."

Here is Blue Tiger chair's Bill Samuels' Kos Diary on his Wyoming Trip (where the deal with Michigan was announced).

Said the Michigan party chieftain:
“Despite the gains the Democratic Party made in the midterm elections, many people still do not believe either party cares much about them. Our goal is to regain respect for the Democratic Party and for the political process.” Brewer said. “The Michigan Democratic Party is committed to making civic engagement an integral part of our state organization. By giving Democrats things to do between elections and providing meaningful services we Democrats can show citizens that parties want to engage them more than just on election day.”
This is beyond YouTube election stuff and moves us beyond "The revolution will not be televised." Blue Tiger Dems suggest a way to move the party to the future where the old media won't really matter and social connections will be the most important aspect of our organizations.

More on Michigan:
Samuels and Brewer were to give a presentation to the Association of State Democratic Chairs around 7 p.m. EST Friday on Michigan's success with a Blue Tiger pilot project it ran this year. Brewer is president of the national organization, which is meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo.

The state party helped low-income Michigan residents in 10 of the poorest areas of Detroit and nearby Macomb County learn ways to be more energy efficient and lower their utility bills. The program reached more than 28,000 people, helping some families save more than $1,000 each, Brewer said.

He noted the outreach is important because too many people think the political parties don't care about them except to get their votes. He wants to make the Democratic Party appealing not just for its candidates and principles but because it's involved in improving citizens' lives.
The Blue Tiger idea (as suggested by a commenter over at Michigan Liberal) is hauntingly similar to the Dean Corps idea that grew out of Dean for America. It was a good idea then, and I'm surprised honestly it hasn't changed more local organizations.

KUOW's Weekday should take a page from Open Source

I've been listening to Radio Open Source (donate here) consistently for about two months now. I always tried to listen to the show, since I fell in love with its format for a year and a half, but getting an mp3 player made the difference for me.

What I like about it is that they have, and use, a blog. They solicit audience input through the blog, asking "what should we ask?" and "Who should we ask," and every month they have a thread on "What shows should we have." In one week they used my suggestions to have on Kari Chisolm (Montana Senate show), Daniel Kemmis (Experiments in Democracy), and Noah Feldman (Somalia). My efforts earned me a t-shirt (score!).

Anyway, since I've started listening to the show and getting used to contribute on the blog, I've been wondering why other radio shows don't pick up this format. Allowing listeners (the people formerly know as the audience) to conversate about whatever topic seems like a good thing.

So, in addition to the email I'm going to send to KUOW's Weekday about Monday's topic on Civic Engagement, I'm going to suggest they launch a blog, hire a blogger and follow the Open Source way. Washington is a bloggy state, we had more suggestions to Since Sliced Bread than any other state, per resident. We have a vibrant blogging community, we have political reporters who blog. We also have a major newspaper editorial board that lets you have a conversation on the next day's editorials.

We should have more open source media.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Why did Burner lose? Maybe we aren't as anti-Bush as we think

Maybe there are some things, like the post 9-11 flag craze, getting all excited about the Yankees that just don't travel all the way out West. One of these things could be overall dislike for George W. Bush, and maybe that is why Darcy Burner lost.

(Though, I like the grassroots argument that if there had been a couple of candidates in the 5th LD that it would have provided more room for Darcy. But, I digress.)

According to SurveyUSA, the top three "blue" states in terms of not hating Bush so much are Hawaii, New Hampshire and Oregon. Fourth is Washington State where Bush has a 37 percent approval rating, right around the national average.

New Hampshire is the last of the New England States that could be considered Republican, when there used to be those of Republicans. But, the other three states can only be explained because they're the last states you hit before you land in Japan (aside from Alaska).

Essentially, I'm arguing that folks in the 8th CD just didn't really buy into the anti-Bush mantra of of the on-air Burner campaign. Because of where we are, three hours behind all the jibber-jabber back east, things happening back there don't seem to have the impact they would have in say New Hampshire (whose two sitting congressmen got booted).

Also, I'm wondering about Alex Alben.

BIAW political chief to have sex at a Seahawks game

At least if Tom McCabe listens to his wife he will:
...I have asked my husband the next time he feels the urge to get involved in a political campaign if he could please think of his family and instead get drunk, have sex with a female subordinate in a stall in the women's restroom at a large public arena and, when the police are called in, resist arrest.

I'm urging this course of action since history shows he will receive more generous treatment on the editorial page of our hometown newspaper than if he pursued his interest in politics. He has kindly promised to consider this.

Susan McCabe, Olympia

Of course, she's referring to this incident, which was a local fascination for about a day or two. But, still makes it a very strange letter to the editor. Almost like an internal thought that never should have been put down on paper.

UPDATE: I would kindly suggest to the McCabes that when they choose a local arena for which to arrange sex between Tom and a female subordinate, they should choose Husky Stadium. At least one person should be enjoying themselves during a game.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Can the RNC be Democratic when they choose a chair?

Maybe I'm old timey (like 2005 old timey), but don't they hold elections for these kinds of things?

From the point of view of CNN the chair of the RNC is an appointed position. From the view of one who read's the RNC's rules, it is an elected position and the President does not have a vote.

So, I ask Kos and I ask Redstate (and here).

Ironically, Kos is happier than Redstate about all of this.

Startling movie displays desolation under Hood Canal

From the WDFW.

I think this needs no explanation, but the introduction from Jeff Koenings, director of WDFW is pretty telling:
Quite clearly Puget Sound is at a tipping point. Above the surface, things appear calm and peaceful and beautiful. And, Puget Sound remains the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest. But, below the surface, as you're about to see, things are quite different.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Why did No on 933 and No on 920 fair better in CD 5 than Peter Goldmark?

I didn't follow the Peter Goldmark campaign as close as I did other races, but it surprises me that he faired worse than the "no" campaigns on two right wing ballot initiatives in the 5th Congressional District.

Both No on 920 and No on 933 had better returns in the several east side counties that make up the WA 5 than Peter Goldmark. While Goldmark failed to win a single county, No on 933 won in four counties, while no on 920 won in every single county in Goldmark's district.

Actually, if Goldmark had been either of these campaigns, he would be the congressman-elect.

I did up a quick and dirty spreed sheet comparing the votes that Goldmark got county by county, and the votes No on 933 got county by county, and estimated how Goldmark would have done. He would have won with 54 percent of the vote.

Voters in eastern Washington apparently liked the idea of keeping the state estate tax and defending growth management laws than electing a congressman who would fight for similar values in DC.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Pay your dues, then pay your dues (and be like a PCO)

A couple of year ago the Thurston County Democrats became a "membership organization," but not really. We started accepting "members" to our organization, but we never really gave them a role. We let them talk at meetings, but not actually vote. So, what's the point?

Well, apparently there was some fear that there would be a take over of the party, that just by paying dues, you could get in and make decisions. This put fear in the hears of duly elected PCOs, who felt it was there role to run things. There are though only a few roles for PCOs as outlined in state law, all other local party stuff is open.

So, I have a compromise for this year's reorganization of the party. Members still can't vote, but if they do enough for the party, organize a group of fellow Dems, work on a committee, etc... They can.

I outlined my proposal here at a moreperfect wiki under Article 2.

My rational is basically that the PCO position itself is archaic. People don't organize themselves by geography anymore, but rather socially. This is true in politics as much as it is true in economics or religion. We are more mobile than we were one hundred years ago, we shouldn't limit our local part organizations by a neighborhood based system that was developed before the telephone, television, internet or interstate highway.

Andy's midterm redux

Andy over at Thurston Pundits has some thoughts on the 2006 elections. He mispells Bob Macleod's name and grouses over I-920, 933, Cantwell and other stuff that in the end doesn't make sense. But, his 933 rundown is priceless:
On 933 losing- my family will get screwed on this. However in Thurston especially this will mean the fruit loop land takers have license to extend CAO’s by 10,000%. Don’t think they won’t try. Short of armed revolt (which I say as metaphor) nothing is stopping them now. Sucks to own land. There is a reason that Jews would not own land in the old world…the governments kept taking it! That is the same reason I won’t own a big plot of land either. Sucks to be my neighbor today though.
"Nothing short of armed revolt?" From what? The overwhelming majority of voters in Washington State. At the minimum folks like Andy simply failed to make their case, at most, they were wrong from the very start and got shown the door.

And, what is that a metaphor for? Andy: I actually accept comments over here, so please, make your case.

That he would imply armed revolt, rather than engagement in local government is troubling. But for a small government kind of guy, why even both using government to make your case.

The right step now for local governments in the post 933 world isn't, I think, ironically the status quo. The right thing to do is the reconnect local landowners with the local land use process. If they own most of the land, they should be the most engaged in how it is managed for the common good.

An open engaged public process is the right way to move from this.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bringing the people in

Transition NY, a site launched by governor elect Spitzer. What a great idea.


The system for submitting ideas is fairly simple--and it appears that submissions are being screened before being posted and Spitzer is collecting names and zipcodes in the process (handy, huh?). His team has already posted a healthy number of submitted ideas, and they range the gamut from fixes to the state's Economic Development department to establishing an Office of Lesbian and Gay Concerns to requiring cabs and buses to run on natural gases.

I'd like to see Spitzer expand on this and involve visitors to his site in helping filter the suggestions that people are making, and then display the most highly rated ideas on his transition home page (a la, if you will). It would also be cool if he, or one of his top transition aides, periodically checked in on the conversation and engaged in some back and forth with what people are saying.

Spitzer is coming into office with a huge mandate, having beaten his opponent by about 2-1, but he's still going to be dealing with entrenched bureaucracies and powerful interests. By involving ordinary citizens in a genuine multi-way dialogue thru his web site, he could build a large independent base to help push some useful reforms through.

No Comment O'Sullivan

O'Sullivan, 51, could not be reached for comment at the Republicans' election night gathering at the Governor Hotel in Olympia.
That was from the Olympian yesterday. No new story in the Olympian today and unless you subscribe to the Chronicle, you can't read their articles. So, I can't tell if they got to him.

I wonder when he'll talk?

And, here's an interesting stat. Back in 2002 when he was jumped in the Democratic Primary by Macleod, O'Sullivan had a greater percentage of the votes than he did this year, facing Macleod in the general. For all the talk about partisan Democrats and the Party of Scoop Jackson leaving O'Sullivan, Thurston County doesn't like him any more than the Thurston County Democrats do.


BOB MACLEOD (D) . . . . . . . . 8,762 53.2

KEVIN J. O'SULLIVAN (D). . . . . . 7,708 46.8

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Its a good morning to be a Thurston County Democrat

(one last election results post)

And a bad morning to be a Thurston County Republican. Even their one best hope, their former Thurston County Commissioner who lost in a partisan primary four years ago got his clocked cleaned.

Kevin O'Sullivan went down, not even breaking 40 percent as of right now.

I-933 went down in our county, where property rights battles seemed to rage earlier this year, 65 to 35.

And, we swept all of the other contested county offices with Patricia Costello (Assessor), Dan Kimball (Sheriff), and Gary Warnock (Coroner) all winning by at least 58 percent.

The only question, why did the Thurston County Auditor post the election results as a .pdf file?

933 fails, only two of Western property rights initiatives pass

933 fails in Washington.

Prop 207 passes in Arizona.

Prop 90 fails in California.

Prop 2 fails in Idaho.

Initiative 154 didn't get on the ballot in Montana.

Question 2 passes in Nevada.

The property rights crowd is 2 for 6 in 2007. Not bad for our side.

If you include their best performance to date, Measure 37 in Oregon two years ago, they're still well under .500.

IRV wins in Pierce County, is it the future statewide?

A few months back I wondered if IRV was a nice in between for politicians that wanted to find a way out of the Montana Primary so the Grange wouldn't file a totally non-partisan primary initiative.

has won in Pierce County by a pretty nice margin, I wonder if this changes things at all.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

This is a job ad, I kid you not (come, be a sniper)

I'd expect this from Soldier of Fortune, not the state's job site:

WorkSource Job Number: WS151442030
Listed By: United States Army on Jan 27, 2006
Last Modified on: Nov 4, 2006
Closes on: Continuous Recruitment

"You have One Shot, one scoped sight, one compressed controlled breath, one squeeze of a trigger. In twenty one- hundreths of a second, you will either be a "hero" who saved an innocent life or an incompetent who caused the death of a helpless hostage. Life or death, sucess (sic) or failure is only one sensitive squeeze away" ..............Major John Plaster, Sniper Instructor

If you are between 17 and 29 years old and have a US Citizenship call 877-832-6346 or email

And, just in case they take it down, a screen grab:

Military service is an honorable calling. Service of any kind is, so to focus on the most base and violent aspects of it is troubling to say the least.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Stuart Elway gets blogs, even if he doesn't know it

I heard somewhere that when you blog, you should say six nice things for every bad thing you say. I'm not anywhere near that, but I do have something nice to say about someone that balances out getting on Terry Thompson and Susan Owens recently.

Stuart Elway is the unfortunately named pollster who helped the governor put together her civic engagement section of her GMAP program. In addition to a series of open town hall meetings, they also held some citizen jury type meetings where they asked random, yet screened voters to decide how you could tell if government was doing the right thing. (He talked about this during another podcast I downloaded from TVW... thank God for podcasts).

What they did was give people the space for conversation and the indication that what they said would matter. And, it worked, people listened to each other and moved beyond their immediate wants:
They hear issues framed in ways they didn't hear before... They had to work at the table to winnow down the 10 or 12 ideas to just four, and that process alone opened up peoples eyes to these other perspectives. It was very rewarding to watch

...once people have to take other person's into account, its pretty amazing to watch.
Download the entire episode (August 14, 2006) to listen to his entire answer, but he gets blogs because he understands the importance of bringing people together, civil conversation and how normal regular people (not politicians or bureaucrats) can give you the best answers. Which, of course, is what self government is all about.

In the best sense, the kind of effect blogs would have, is that they bring people together like this.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Man, I hope Randy is right (end of tv dominance in in politics)

This will eventually happen, that whoever spends the most on tv ads is spending the most on something that will not actually get them elected. By Randy over at Ridenbaugh has two solid examples:

Today’s Oregonian/KATU-TV poll, which falls in line wth several recent polls (one exception being a Zogby outlier), provides one bit of evidence. It gives Democratic incumbent Governor Ted Kulongoski a seven-point lead, more or less tracking what most polls over the last month have shown: A modest but discernible, and very slightly growing, lead over Republican challenger Ron Saxton. What’s remarkable is that this happened after one of the biggest TV ad barrages Oregon has ever seen, in which Saxton outspent Kulongoski during the general election campaign by about two to one. If TV were the key to the election, Saxton would be comfortably ahead by now.

So you say that Oregon is Democratic-leaning anyway? Apart from the debatability of that proposition, consider Idaho’s first congressional district, where Republican Bill Sali has nearly two-to-one outspent Democrat Larry Grant; when third-party efforts are factored in, Grant may be outspent nearly three to one. And yet two solid polls put the race at a dead heat, with Grant on the move. Same story in the Idaho governor’s race, where Republican Butch Otter has outraised Democrat Jerry Brady more than two to one, and likewise finds himself a in a dead heat. Same, as well, in Washington’s 5th district, where Republican incumbent Cathy McMorris is outspending Democrat Peter Goldmark two to one, only to see Goldmark rising rapidly into shooting range.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Terry Thompson doesn't know blogs, at all

Terry Thompson, a local Democratic political consultant, the man behind TR Strategies, pretty much doesn't know blogs. During a recent discussion on Inside Olympia on TVW (God bless podcasts), Thompson morphs from a lesson on the differences between the political generations to a discussion on why blogs are spreading untruths. And, that no on ever challenges anything on blogs.

Not that blogs are really just everyone challenging everyone else. Or some kind of conversation.

According to Thompson, blogs are:

encouraging the polarization of politics in this country. Right wing blogs talk to right wing people, left wing blogs talk to left wing people. There is no fact checking. When a statement is made, it is accepted as fact, when there is no evidence of it what so ever. And there is no one challenging this stuff.

If you get in a political discussion, sitting down in a cafe somewhere, and you're arguing back and forth, and someone in the next table would overhear you and say "excuse me, I couldn't help but overhear, that's not true." That doesn't even happen, on these blogs it is fact.

Which, of course, isn't fact.

Thompson's analogy about overhearing a conversation in a cafe and someone butting in to disagree is much less realistic that someone coming onto a blog and doing the same thing. This is especially in Washington State, where people are much too polite to disagree with strangers in public.

Good blogs foster conversation. In his example, he's tells how a young activist being confused about the length of the Vietnam War after learning about it wrongly on a blog. Well, if it was a decent blog, someone would have come along and posted a comment, explaining how wrong they were.

You can post a comment here to tell me how wrong I am. That's how it works.

Negative ads will get you elected, they do not "work"

Far be it for me to disagree with a sine-yan-tist, but what utter nonsense:

Scientists around the country are logging the emotional and physical effects of negative political ads. Iacoboni tracked parts of the middle brain that lighted up in brain scans when people watched their favorite candidates come under attack. Other scientists hooked up wires to measure frowns and smiles before the meaning of the ads' words sunk in. Mostly, researchers found that negative ads tend to polarize and make it less likely that supporters of an attacked candidate will vote.

"Everyone says: 'We hate them. They're terrible,' " said George Bizer, a psychology professor at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

But, he added, "They seem to work."

If the choice people are making after viewing negative ads is not to vote, then the ads aren't working.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Scenes from the Cantwell rally in Olympia

Be warned. I left around 4:20 p.m. before Cantwell even made an appearance. I had a faucet cover to buy, otherwise I probably would have stuck around longer.

I got to the Olympia Center a bit early, waiting around for folks to show up, I was mostly curious to see people mill around before the event.

I was sitting down, underneath the "Salmon Run" statues, a local Democrat I know came up to me. "I'm not happy, we shouldn't be doing this," he said. Turns out he had been recruited as a "bouncer" to make sure no one came into the event with any hand-made or McGavick signs. I agreed with him, but there didn't end up being much of a chance of that happening.

I guess they still think keeping folks with competing large print words out of their events is a good idea.

The only non-Democratic folks that came around that I could see where a nice slug of Green Party members carrying those nice small Aaron Dixon signs. After milling around the lobby talking to a handful of interested folks, they politely ditched their signs before they went inside.

Before I went inside, I knocked my head accidentally on the legendary Wishupona Fish statue. Ouch, I was showing a fellow Young Dem who I hadn't seen in awhile pictures of my son on my cell phone and I got excited. Ouch.

Also, I chatted with a Black Hills High School student out in the lobby who was there to see her sister. She said she liked government, but not politics. She takes part in a club/class at her school were she helps write mock legislation, and she hates politics. Likes the practice of participation, but hates how the campaigns tear each other down.

I got into the event, listened to Rep. Sam Hunt, Thurston County Commissioner Bob Macleod and state Sen. Karen Frasier, and then I took off. Oh yeah, I also met Particle Man from Washblog. And, its true what they say: the water got him instead. Particle Man.

UPDATE: In the comments, Particle Man picks up where I left off and the Olympian covers the event.

Son Volt's "Jet Pilot" on YouTube: a story of GW Bush

This is a great song I've been enjoying for awhile off of Son Volt's best album since "Trace." Maybe even better than Trace.

Anyway, Jet Pilot is about GW. Rock it:

NPR Roots Rock has a nice mp3 of a concert Son Volt did in Washington DC over a year ago.

Cantwell is Oly this afternoon

Be there or be square:

Cantwell's Checklist for Change Tour in Olympia


Thursday, November 2, 2006 at 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


The Olympia Center 222 Columbia St. NW Olympia, WA 98501

Description Join Maria Cantwell for the Checklist for Change tour stop in Olympia. Maria is spending the final week before Election Day crisscrossing the state in a biodiesel bus, talking to supporters and voters about her ten-point checklist to change the agenda in Washington DC to reflect our Northwest values. We hope you can join us in Olympia for this great event. Please email with any questions. Host Andrea Johnson

Is Olympia missing the wifi train?

Pierce County is well on the way to deploying wifi county wide, even in such small burbs as Orting and Eatonville.

Spokane built their downtown network so long ago it isn't even news anymore.

Now, Bellevue is putting their's up.

What the heck in wrong with Olympia?

The last time anyone seriously talked about wifi within our city government, they took a "wait and see" position.

CIRGO, even though everyone mentions to me that they're going to get us going in this direction, is still very very quiet about what they're even going to do. Low cost wifi? Public wifi?

listening to each other

Diary over at Washblog about some stuff in the last few days. Maybe its just the end of campaign season, but I'm glad I got voting out of the way first thing. Not sure I feel like it now.

How can we claim to be for the "common good," any of us?

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Sen. Allen doesn't "take questions from bloggers" either

The difference between Mike Stark being put in a headlock and tackled and Mike Stark being told to "shut up" or ignored is that he wasn't a credentialed reporter. Granted, a reporter probably wouldn't have shouted a question, but reporters all the time ask questions that are "innapropriate."

So, count up to two politicians in the last few days who "don't take questions from bloggers." Allen just does it a bit more forcefully.

Best No on 933 ad yet

"It forces taxpayers to pay bad neighbors to just follow the law." Spot on. Hat tip to Jon.

Most people may care about farming, in some distant way. They aren't farmers themselves, but sure, farms are good. Though the Yes on 933 folks are using the farmer argument too, which just muddles it.

The High Taxes argument is better, but it doesn't hit the issue on the head, which is bad neighbors suck. Why give in to them?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Richard Debolt sure can dish it out, but can't take it

He can put out negative, untrue ads. But, he can't take true negative ads. He gets all bunchy about Mike Rechner's new ad:

A Democratic challenger's televised blasting of Rep. Richard DeBolt, the state House Republican Leader from Chehalis, has grabbed some attention in Thurston County.


DeBolt said the ad has a "negative, nasty tone," and he disputed its claims. Rechner said it informs the voters.


DeBolt said Rechner and his party are avoiding issues in favor of a negative campaign, noting that the Thurston County Democratic Party also filed a complaint over his campaign finance reporting this year.

"I guess personal attacks are OK with them, but when you attack issues, they don't want to do that," DeBolt said.

Here's the ad:

The funny part about this ad, and Debolt's reaction to it, is that the second part of the ad is about Debolt using untruths in ads he funded earlier this year:

Democratic lawmakers were livid Tuesday over a Republican-backed ad campaign blasting them as being soft on sex predators.

The latest salvo in the $75,000 radio, TV, phone and mail campaign by The Speaker's Roundtable has been a wave of postcards that blanketed five legislative districts over the weekend. Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats in the statehouse, say the ads are their way of pushing for tougher sex-offender laws.


Marked "SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION," the cards picture a real child rapist. "This violent predator lives in your community," the cards say. They also list the names of local Democratic lawmakers and urge people to call and tell them to "protect children and not violent sex offenders." At least seven Democrats in five legislative districts have been targeted in the mailings.

As it turns out, the 57-year-old man pictured in the photo actually lives in Pierce County's Gig Harbor, not in Vancouver, Walla Walla or most of the other cities where the postcards were received.


Several of the Democrats blamed DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who helps raise money for The Speaker's Roundtable. In a letter Tuesday, they demanded an apology.

"Sometimes, I guess, Rep. DeBolt thinks he's having fun, kind of a junior-high mentality," said Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"I don't take questions from bloggers"

Groan. I know she was talking about Sharkansky, hell I wouldn't want to take questions from Sharkansky. Justice Susan Owens should have said something to that effect, that she just didn't like the person asking the questions. Instead she ended up sounding snobbish and elitist, to say the least.

Uninformed is getting a bit more accurate.

I'm still glad I voted for her, Steven Johnson would be a disaster on the court. She's still a grade A turd though.

Good lord:
I don't answer questions from bloggers, and that was apparently the moderator's only credentials. They didn't want to get a regular journalist to do it. I have other reasons to, I'm working as a justice and we had a full slate of cases on Tuesday. So I said no -- in my view it wasn't a big deal. I apologize for any inconvenience for anybody. But Sen. Johnson and I have been all over the state, together and alone, even when gas was at its highest price. I had hoped to hit all the counties....

I don't take questions from bloggers. I just don't blog and don't read them. Every forum we've been at has been moderated by an attorney or a credentialed journalist, and one by the state president of the League of Women Voters. I personally did not know who this other moderator was. My people might have agreed to that, but when I found out the reality, I said no.

By discounting not only the entire medium, but everyone who isn't a lawyer or a journalist, she is drawing an arbitrary line. I know Joel Connelly is a nice and smart man, but there isn't anything about him that makes him any more qualified to ask questions then a few experienced, smart and nice people I know.

At this point, I know I'm reading into it a bit too much, but it seems like she's almost spitting the word "bloggers" out.

More 933 nose dive (2)

As election day continues (since most of us got our ballots more than a week ago, is there really an election "day"?), we continue to see the polling on 933 drop through the floor. For the first time, the No responses beat out the Yes responses. Even on the better question for "yes."

See here and here also.

Election day bingo

Election Day is only just over a week away, so there wasn't much for me to do except for create some Election Day Bingo 2006 cards.

I did up two, which pretty much cover the interesting House, Senate and Governor races (except Virginia in the Senate races) and some local stuff.

Two sets of cards, so all results taken into account.

Here's one
Here's the other

Make your own right here. And, have fun.

Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee rock (wondering about Brian Baird)

Norm does his part and so does Jay.

Now, even though Jay Inslee doesn't meet the criteria laid out by Chris Bowers in the "Use it or Lose It" campaign (opponents with less than $10k spent), he gets credit for sending his money where it will do the most good.

Is it worth it to nudge Brian Baird too?

Brian's opponent has about twice that which Jay's does ($100k compared to $50k) and Brian has just under what Jay does. I know it isn't very likely that Brian will lose with an almost 7 to 1 cash advantage, but how much can he really afford to send out?

Might still be worth a visit or a call though: 10411 NE Fourth Plain Blvd, Vancouver and (360) 696-1993.

* * *

What is so funny about this is that a couple of days ago I heard an ad for Norm on KGY. This is funny because Norm doesn't even have an opponent who is raising any money. At all. Doug Cloud will be on the ballot, but it isn't like he's promoting himself all that much.

That said, KGY would be a pretty cheap ad buy. Most radio out here would be a pretty cheap ad buy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Beyond "Buy Nothing Day" (Black Friday Alternatives)

This is a thought I've had running through my head since a few Thanksgivings ago. Why on the day after Thanksgiving, a free Friday for most of us, is our public life pretty much closed down? I mean all the stores are open, duh, but everything else, libraries, museums are closed.

I don't like shopping (at all really), and two Black Fridays ago I wanted to hit the library, and it was closed. I scratched my head about it, thinking it would be open because it is open any other weekend day. That got me looking into alternatives to Black Friday, the mother of all shopping days (not really, but it gets the best press).

Buy Nothing Day is pretty much it, and I don't think that is really good enough. "Buy Nothing" is a negative action, pretty much asks you to do nothing but sit on your hands and not be a shopper. Not at all inspiring. The day after Thanksgiving should be more than that, it should be a day that asks you to give back more than thanks.

Do we have a volunteering holiday? I've heard some folks using MLK day as a "day of service," but since not everyone gets MLK day off, I think we should add the day after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Randy is wrong about initiatives

Randy at Ridenbaugh press has a well intentioned post about a restoration of the initiative process. He says we should ban paying signature gatherers. Just like we can't force spending or contribution limits onto initiative campaigns, we also can't ban paying signature gatherers.

We might be able to ban paid per signature model, but not pay outright.

My point (here and otherwise) is that we can't create more limits to the initiative process and expect the process to improve. Creating higher hurdles to participation will only decrease participation, and increase the advantage wealthy folks have in using the system:
More regulation just means that initiative proponents will just spend more money to overcome these hurdles. The loser in this scenario is the average citizen. They do not have the resources to overcome these hurdles and therefore are locked out of the process. If legislators are concerned about wealthy individuals and special interest being the only ones using the process, then they should make the process more accessible to those individuals without access to large sums of money.

933 backer are desperate, trying to connect "No on 933" to Enron

Getting kind of sensitive over the one big rich guy, Howie Rich, is funding their campaign, Yes on 933 bites back.

Yes on 933 sent out an email yesterday that keeps in the front of your mind just how outside the truth box they need to go to make a point. The headline starts with this:
Enron, World's Richest Developer Funding "“No on I-933" Campaign
Then a little further down, it gets a bit clearer what they're talking about:
Oh, so it wasn't actually Enron itself, but rather one of attorneys. Probably one of their attorneys who was all down and dirty. And stuff.

...the opposition is controlled by California billionaire John Morgridge, Chairman of Cisco Systems, and Texas attorney Carol Dinkins, whose law firm represented Enron. The two are Chair and Vice Chair of The Nature Conservancy, respectively.
By the way, the bold type is theirs, not mine. Whose law firm represented Enron? Pretty far from "Enron funding No on 933" isn't it?

Not that it turns out that Ms. Dinkins is a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but she isn't Enron.

And, as far as the "world's richest" developer, its Paul Allen. Yeah, Paul Allen.

Their point is that since Allen wants to build high density housing, he doesn't like all that sprawl. Which is sort of the point.

This week in Olympia city council

Not a lot going on that was interesting, short of the start of the budget writing process.

What I like though is the idea of Participatory budgeting.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Printer democracy is alive again

It never really died, but after a couple months the idea is moving again. I have a meeting with Rep. Hunt in a couple of weeks and I have some more history of recent legislation on the topic.

933 continues nose dive

Elway Poll says "Yes" responses for 933 are down to 42 percent.

The "Yes I'm voting for that" is really the only thing you should worry about when they ask about initiatives. As noted before, initiatives typically are more popular in August and September and as the "No on" campaigns ramp up, they begin to sink as people become more unsure of their impact.

And, when people are unsure about initiatives, they vote no.

Norm Dicks answers the call

Wooo hoo:

Congressman Norm Dicks of the 6th CD responded positively to the calls that folks made to ask him to contribute money from his campaign chest to Democrats running in more competitive districts. He donated $100,000 + according to Chris Bowers, reporting back on his "Use It or Lose It" program. This was on top of the nearly $600,000 that he raised yesterday for the DCCC from the lunch he hosted downtown for Al Gore. Also today, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy each donated $500,000 to the DSCC. This program is working. We may not get the entire $15 million we are looking for but it will be close.

I feel like I and our readers here had an impact on Dicks' decision, along with a bunch of folks from I called Dicks' Tacoma office on Friday afternoon and then wrote up a post asking others to do the same. I repeated the plea yesterday. Then I called the Tacoma office again today to ask them how it was going. As soon as I called, they laughed and asked if I was calling about the program. I said I was. The man who answered the phone asked me if I knew that Dicks had already given a lot to candidates. I told him I did and appreciated it. He asked if I knew about the lunch yesterday and how much had been raised. Yes. I said that perhaps they might want to write to Chris Bowers and talk about getting credit for what they'd done. I gave them Chris' email address and said I'd write about it as soon as I saw the results on Chris' list.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Inslee's (lack of blog) gets him on one of the worst list

You have to try pretty hard to get onto the CNet's list of bad political websites this year (hat tip Kari), and Jay Inslee did it. The website itself not so bad as the rest on the list (most of which seem to be amateur attempts), by Rep. Inslee's makes it because of the irony attached:
In keeping with the spirit of his tech-centric district--which includes Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond--he offers an official campaign blog. It's outfitted with an internal search engine, options for e-mailing entries, and links for subscribing through 11 different readers. There's just one hitch. Less than two weeks before Election Day, this blog includes absolutely zero entries. This is from the same politico whose campaign biography claims an "unparalleled commitment" to technological innovation. Right.
Unfortunately for CNet, Inslee's district is just short of including the Microsoft main campus (according to Google Earth's new congressional district overlay). But the point is made. Don't put up a blog (or any feature of page) unless you're going to use it.