Monday, April 30, 2007

New Banner -- Sweet!

Ever since David Postman mistook the name of my blog (he called it my Olympia WA blog) and since Noemie told me she liked the "old name," I've been toying around with changing my banner. Its always been Olympia Time, but since my last redesign with the new banner, that has been very unclear.

So there you go, smaller and more clear on the name, plus I changed the perspective on Olympia to try to recreate this.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

We're getting caucuses in 2008

I had two posts at Washblog this week (here and here) grinding the stone on getting a Presidential primary next year. It turned out all wrong at the state central committee in Bellingham.

The best post of the conversation was Steve's (who turns out to be the man behind the initiative to get the primary in the first place):
A second major reason to support the Presidential Primary is that it, and not the caucus,is a better and more realistic organizing tool for Democratic politics. The Presidential Primary is a trial run for candidates to turn out voters to support them and more accurately reflects the actual pool of voters who will be voting in November Presidential election. There is a big difference in mobilizing 1% of the voters to turn out for a Democratic caucus versus trying to get the a majority of registered voters to vote for you in a primary.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Baseball licking its chops for Cuban baseball

Awhile back I posted a comment at ROS regarding their plans to produce a show on the "Latinization of Baseball." Good, idea, but it was backwards. Baseball hasn't become latinized, Latin Baseball has become infected with MLB:

Regarding the “latinization of baseball” show idea, I think we should stay away from the “how Latin players impact the game” line of thinking that dominated the Japanese Baseball show.

When I’ve gotten into discussions about bringing baseball to lesser communities in the US (Portland OR or Las Vegas), I’ve often counter argued that some Latin markets deserve consideration (San Juan PR or Monterrey MX). My thought was that MLB should expand into Latin America. But, that assumption had to do with a different view of Latin baseball than the one I hold today.

I thought Latin baseball leagues were organized separately from MLB, but I’ve come to realize slowly that practically every Latin league of note, from the Liga Mexicana de Beisbo, to the Venezuelan Summer League, and even the Caribbean Series are infected one way or another with MLB.

This may sound insanely naive, but its almost as if MLB maintains relationships with Latin leagues in order to ensure a cheap supply of talent. I’m sure there is a “How Soccer Explains the World” type parallel going on here.

It might be worth looking at Jorge Pasquel as a starting point.

Now, with the possibility of the Cuban embargo being lifted, MLB is laying plans for the mining of Cuban talent:

Baseball is contemplating a strategy for teams to sign Cuban players in an effort to create an orderly system for acquiring talent from the island, according to three baseball officials and a scholar who was briefed on the plans.

“There may not be any significant changes with our relationship with Cuba in the near term, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t think about these things,” Joe Garagiola Jr., the senior vice president for baseball operations, said in a telephone interview. “We are thinking about them, and that is probably the extent of what we can say at this point.”

Garagiola, a former general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks, is coordinating baseball’s discussions on Cuba.

Baseball is also considering moving a minor league team to Cuba and building training academies similar to those that nearly all teams have in the Dominican Republic, according to a report earlier this month by Fortune magazine.

I'm not interesting in Anglo-American baseball teams importing Cuban players. Not because I see them taking jobs away from 'merican boys, but because I would rather like to see a Pan-Latin baseball league on par with MLB. There is no reason Cuban players shouldn't be able to play major league games in Cuba, Mexico City or Monterrey.

MLB has treated Latin America as a source of cheap raw material for too long without sharing the wealth. There is a powerful corollary here between how MLB treats Latin America and how we as Americans treat Latin America.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Paid per signature ban has open field in Montana

Remember Rep. Sherry Appleton's idea to ban the paid-per-signature initiative model (here and here)?

Looks like Montana is going to pass that reform, along with a few others, after a big debacle last summer. The attention is being paid to a ban of out of state signature gatherers though, not the paid-per-signature ban that got everyone all fired up here.

It probably helps that three initiatives were thrown off the ballot last year because of fraud.

By the way, in case you were wondering, and I know you were, Montana is one of the states that allows printer sized initiative petitions.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Archie Binns book review: The Roaring Land

My general impression of this book, after completing the first four chapter a year or so ago was that it would have been better had Binns staid within the realm of a book about his own youth and life. Instead, what could have been a nice deep map of western Washington gets blurred into a history/travelogue of the entire state.

After Binns leaves the wet side of the state and begins meandering up the Columbia River, his experiences leave off and what he has read in books and learned from other people picks up. From that point on, The Roaring Land reads a lot less like what Murrary Morgan would do with his histories of Washington starting tens years later than cheap boosterism.

That said, the best line in the book comes from the worst chapter, the final "Living Map of Washington," which repeats the airplane level history Binns eventually dives into. Speaking about people who would generalize about Washington:
To them the whole state is forested with giant evergreens, rain falls year round, and radicalism flourishes in the wet shade of the forest.
Add something about coffee or grunge rock, and that would still apply.

My favorite chapter is the second, Steamboat Era. It gives a view of my particular corner of Washington (the deep South Sound) from a vantage point we don't get very often. We follow a young Archie and his family as they travel from their stump farm near Shelton as they get on a ferry in Hammersly Inlet and travel by saltwater (switching boats once) all the way to Tacoma.

I may have sounded harsh, but the other great chapter in the book is Center of Gravity, which covers what was the center of gravity in Puget Sound country in Binns' time, the Kent Valley. Binns looks at the valley in much the same way we do, in a "wow, hasn't that changed." While we've seen a transformation from farms to cement parking lots, Boeing industrial areas and the Tuckwila mall area, Binns' generation (and his dad's generation) saw the transformation from old growth forest to farms.

For him, the farms were the pinnacle of advancement, the malls of Tuckwila not even imagined.

He also made an interesting note about the character of the people of the Kent Valley (which served as a way for him to explain the character of all Puget Sounders). Since farms (and timber operations) were in that time small, everyone owned a piece of something. Or, at least worked a piece of something. Since there were no big owners, everyone depended on each other for business and socially. When someone was down on their luck, it was easier for Puget Sounders to pick up their neighbors than it would have been for dry siders, who mostly owned or work for large operations.

The next book will be The Laurels Are Cut Down, a review of which can be found here.

Participatory democracy and caucuses

The participatory democracy argument in favor of caucuses is disingenuous at worst and misguided at best. Last night when we were debating whether to support a primary election or caucus system for next year's choosing of presidential delegates, two people argued the participatory democracy side of the caucuses.

This isn't a direct quote, but it gets pretty close to what one of the guys was talking about:

It takes more of a commitment to come to a caucus, very little commitment to vote in a primary. We want to encourage commitment, not just drop in participation.
The caucus system is where people are coming together, and talking, it’s a real plus. It shows that the people in the state of Washington are really interested in creating relationships with people in their communities.
I agree with the sentiment of both of those arguments, caucuses are awesome in that they are participatory. People come together and chat, which is much more what democracy should be about than just indicating your preference in private.

That said, the Washington State Democratic Party does nothing else beyond the caucuses to encourage participatory democracy. Actually, its even worse. Before last night's vote state party chairman Dwight Pelz gave a talk to the 22nd LD meeting (which every quarter happens right before the TCD meeting). He spelled out the ground game plan for 2008, which centered around a lot of people coming to the caucuses.

When all those folks are sitting on their hands while the precinct results are being tabulated, we PCOs are supposed to chat them up to see who we can get interested in volunteering with the party until election day. "We can use them for the next six months," was something he said towards the end of his talk.

The caucuses aren't about coming together and knowing your neighbors, if they were we would be doing them more often. They're about recruiting ground troops for the fall of 2008.

What was implied to me was that after November of 2008, we don't really care what happens to those folks. Some of them may stay on and stay engaged, but we're not really worried about that.

The precinct caucuses should be the end result of a civic engagement campaign, not the beginning of a faux engagement campaign. People should come to the caucuses because the party is relevant and important to them in their community, not because we're blackmailing them to come because its their only opportunity to vote in the Democratic primary.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Broaden the view of the EDC

John Setterstrom, president of the Thurston County Economic Development Council, wrote a column for the Olympian yesterday, trying to refute some recent Olympian coverage (and here) of the EDC. I don't particularly like the kind of column he wrote, its an attempt to argue against the original case of the Olympian, but it basically sandbags the reader with points that really only someone very close to the action would get.

Anyway, it reminded me of some quick research I did after reading the original coverage.

1. The TCEDC is 59 percent publicly funded, either through direct funding from our local governments or through programmatic funds from the state. Despite that, 13 of the 20 board members are from private industry. And, all three executive officers (separate from the board) are from private industry.

2. The RCW that governs the state's relationship with organizations like TCEDC says: "The organizations contracted with in each community or regional area shall be broadly representative of community and economic interests ." Here is the RCW. I think there is an argument to be made that the TCEDC doesn't really represent Thurston County's community (no church or nonprofits) or economic (no labor) interests.

I could imagine recruiting board members to represent local faith communities, labor unions (who from the make up of the board, seemingly don't have an opinion in economic development?) and non-profits. The voice of economic development in Thurston County, especially a mostly public organization, should reach beyond the business community.

A statement on economic justice from my own particular faith tradition has some relevance to the purpose of the EDC:
As people of faith, we believe we are one family, not competing classes. We are sisters and brothers, not economic units or statistics. We must come together around the values of our faith to shape economic policies that protect human life, promote strong families, expand a stable middle class, create decent jobs, and reduce the level of poverty and need in our society. We need to strengthen our sense of community and our pursuit of the common good.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

November 5 Coalition

"Putting citizens at the center of the 2008 election."

Its named after the day after election day, and its something we all (especially those up us who pimp one particular candidate) should take a long, close look at. The November Fifth Coalition is a growing group of civic organizations that are trying to change the debate leading up to the 2008 election. And, not change the debate in "lets talk about this particular issue that I found really interesting," but actually changing how we debate.

Last night we watched "Man of the Year," which wasn't the movie I assumed it would be. I should have watched the extra features, because all of the trailers that I saw were pretty horrible at portraying the actual plot arch of the movie. Anyway, there was a point in the movie when the Robin William's character was ranting during a Presidential debate, seemingly trying to point out that what the debate was trying to portray had no relevance to who the election was for, the voters.

One of the more salient points the November 5 Coalition is making is for candidates and campaigns to open up the debate. More actual talk, fewer fake town halls, for example.

So far, they have a manifesto up, but they're going to start posting white papers on actual positions. Especially exciting for me is that the guy I'm for (see right), Bill Richardson, is on the board of one of the coalition members.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Olympia MayDay history

During the heyday of May Day in Olympia (1999 to 2001) there was histories of May Days past published and distributed as part of the official pirate media campaign. This year, Olyblogger Sarah is putting together what she can find on Oly May Days past. She's doing a really good job.

Commies, Queens, & Pretension [1919 - 1930s]
Liberation & Anarchy [1997, 1998]
Street Party & Phase II [2000]
Planting Seeds [2001]
"Buzzing Around" [2002]

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Youth protest in Seattle (this is not called "The Kids are Alright," although that would be accurate)

I've not really been a big fan of protest lately, walking in the streets to prove a point. But, the coverage of the high school walkout in Seattle yesterday made me think differently. Protest can be good, and for some reason, really good if you're in high school.

High school students have no other choice than to be in school, so walking out of class is the supreme level of civil disobedience. Its a world of difference from middle aged protesters taking on the Iraq War on the weekend or college aged kids doing May Day.

For the rest of us, protest should be weighed more heavily against other types of engagement, like voting, participating in public life and running for office. Have I mentioned that if you protested either the Port of Olympia or Tacoma recently, you should run for port commission? Lots of openings!

I especially liked the response to unnamed critics in the PI's article:

Students also fired back at cynics who suggest they're just lazy kids looking for a day off from school. Those who skipped school Wednesday could have opted to go shopping downtown or simply could have gone home instead of attending the rally, Salas said.

The fact they showed up "is very demonstrative that these kids care," she said. "Adults need to see we're willing to get detention for the day and get yelled at by our parents to do this."

This is the same world that hundreds of thousands of high school aged and younger keep American Idol afloat, and we're worried about high school students actually paying attention and reacting to the world around them.

Its also nice to see a little bit of online organization (here and myspace), even if it did get only 300 protesters from a district with tens of thousands of students. I would like to know more about how online or non-traditional organizing tools were used, just because I'm curious.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Steilacoom wifi and blogs

Steilacoom was the first city in Pierce County to deploy wifi in the new push for municipalities up there to get the technology rolling. Good place for it too, plenty of people with computers (not one of the poorest cities up there) and compact.

I was also thinking about how cool it would be for them to launch a hyper local blog for the now wired citizens. They have a monthly newspaper with a plain website, so it wouldn't take much for them to launch an Olyblog type project. But, seems like the city wifi experiment is already putting some people on the blogs.

Steilacoom Town is a new blog, apparently inspired by the wifi project. Ironically, the first posts seem to be anti wifi. The first post got a heck of a response, which I may wade in to because one commenter is wrong about Vail, CO being the only wifi town. Update: Nope, he was actually pretty clear, it was the first CenturyTel city-wide project.

Yet another update: The first blog, spawned by wifi, inspired a second blog, this one simply titled "Steilacoom."

At least I hope they keep on blogging, and maybe go to an open publishing format to really let loose the hyperlocal journalism.

Campillo and Weaver

While Jeff Weaver implodes in Seattle, Jorge Campillo out duels the prize jewel of the Giants organization. While I heard very little about Jorge during spring training, the blogs are starting to buzz with Campillo in Seattle talk:

I love Campillo; when we last were talking past M's scouts about him, they didn't. I dunno if they've about-faced on him. I doubt it.

Jorge has 3 starts so far, two against Tim Lincecum, has an ERA of 2+ and good peripherals. More to the point, he has about as good a parachute change as I have ever seen on a RHP, a true Trevor Hoffman-level change, one that keeps muscle-bound roiders off his butt. And he is more than willing to compete with that change-speed arsenal.

When we last checked, Mike Hargrove did not buy into Jorge Campillo, to say the least. Is he tired enough of Jeff Weaver yet, that you could talk to him about Campillo? You tell me :- )

I also like how the News Tribune mentions Campillo in the last graph, though he basically beat the subject of the story.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

New Archie Binns project

One of my favorite writers is Archie Binns. Hardly any of his books are still in print, and there is a serious dearth of any writing about him out there. Until just now, there wasn't even a wikipedia entry about him, despite him being a notable writer back in the 1930s and 40s. If you do know anything about Binns, edit this entry.

So, what I'm going to do is start a new series here where I reread some Archie Binns books and seek out ones I haven't and write a 1,000 word or so review. I'm rereading the Roaring Land now (which I had read most of), and I'm going to pick up The Laurels are Cut Down (which I hadn't read yet) in a few days.

Here are some Archie Binns links too.

Why am I doing this? It has some to do with Raban, but it also has to do with writing about what I like and also being a little mad that there wasn't a wikipedia entry, and when you look up his name you get a list of books of his for sale, but nothing about him.

Archie Binns wikipedia
Review: The Roaring Land
Digital Archie Binns: Steamboat Era from "Roaring Land"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Another solid Jorge start, this time in a loss

Jorge Campillo pitched in Fresno last night against a phenom, so its not so bad that he was on the losing side of a 2-0 loss. Two games so far in the minors, 13 innings, 2.77 ERA. Not bad considering the M's pitching staff outside of King Felix and Washburn seems to be falling apart.

USS Mariner seemed to be mocking Jorge's wicked fast fastball.
McCovey Chronicles, which went to Fresno for the game, had kind words.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Campillo pitches strong for Rainier's first win

While the M's starting staff has either blown up or been snowed out of the past few days, Jorge gave six strong innings last night in Sacramento. He pitched six innings, gave up five hits, two runs (both earned) and struck out three.

No Rhubarb!: R's Win! R's Win!
Seattle Times: Rainiers down River Cats 4-2 for first victory

Saturday, April 07, 2007

How I learned to love crosscut

When Gardner decided he hated it:
Crosscut verdict: just another sucko left-wing blog

Crosscut debuted this week with great fanfare that it would be a new-media online newspaper of the greater northwest.

Well, forget that. It’s just another left-wing blog.

Friday, April 06, 2007

One reason Goldy is wrong about the Sonics

Goldy says:
Just this past November, no less an authority than the Times editorial board itself put its finger on the pulse of the region’s voters, and declared a new Sonics arena dead. No, Seattleites aren’t the only fish in the Sound, but nothing passes countywide with three-quarters of Seattle voters going against it.

But more than just being unrealistic, it is downright insulting for the Seattle Bothell Times and its Mercer Island based editors to now ask for a countywide vote to approve a tax on Seattle voters to pay for an arena that we have already so overwhelmingly rejected. Hell… why not make it a statewide vote? That way, the Times gets to hawk sports headlines during those dreary months between football and baseball, while the rest of the state gets the opportunity to once again screw Seattle. Everybody’s happy.

Back ten years ago when Paul Allen asked for $300 million for Qwest Field, King County voted overwhelmingly in favor of it, 275,000 to 213,000. It was the rural counties, like Lincoln (2,200 to 900) and Okanogan (6,500 to 3,000) that voted no.

The difference between last year's Seattle initiative and this year's possible King County initiative is that someone will be campaigning for the stadium.

Washington DOT 520 video

Holy cats. I didn't even realize WDOT has a Youtube account.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Thoughts on how to start a new political party in Washington State

I've been meaning to write a blog post like this for a few weeks, but a post at Washblog put it over the edge for me. This is a cross between a mental exercise and simply writing down what I've been thinking over the past few weeks.

1. Register as a minor political party here. Actually try to stay classified as a minor party as long as possible, as far I as I can tell, the benefits of being considered "major" are far outweighed by the regulatory burdens.

2. Avoid running candidates for any statewide elected office. First, if you get over 5 percent, you're automatically a major party, and as I said above, that is to be avoided. Second, you waste a lot of energy on getting one person elected to a highly unlikely seat.

3. Find low interest local seats and districts, where one party is dominating, that is where your opportunity is. These are places where if there is a minority party, its obviously pretty ineffective. Like my own 22nd LD, the Republicans are pretty far gone, their status as the small minority has made them not more reasonable, but rather more ineffective and extremely extreme.

4. Be the party of more engagement. Both major parties (mine included, sigh) have been working the past couple of years to get people less interested in civics, their government, and actually getting involved. From both parties messing with the primary to just the Republicans actually trying to prevent people from voting, their is a real opportunity of a "civic" party.

5. Take a page from Unity08 or rather these guys. Be a web party. From organizing local chapters on a type system to writing a party platform via wiki, there is tons out there

At the same time, avoid being like Unity08, those sad-sack insiders.

6. Also, be like Blue Tigers, make your new party about more than just getting people elected, its about making your community a better place.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

All this first quarter Presidential money and Blue Tiger thinking

I'm of two minds regarding the first quarter announcements that are bouncing around. I'm glad people are engaging by writing checks to the favorite candidates, but I also understand that check writing is one of the least sorts of civic engagement.

I'm also not one of those folks who bemoan the early start of the primaries. I started way way back (and my guy didn't do so bad, considering), and the more we think about politics the better. Even if it is one race, its an important one, and we're less likely to make a stupid decision if we give it more thought.

But, just on the amount of money raised, I have a Blue Tiger Democrat type of question.

Well more than $50 million was raised by Democratic candidates in the first quarter. How much of that will be spent on commercials and tearing down other candidates? A lot I'd bet.

How much will be spent (by local Democratic organizations) to serve individuals in our communities and to build our base? Not a lot, I bet.