Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Goldy gone (this is what our media ownership rules look like)

In trying to show that he knows what the hell he's talking about, Mark Gardner unwittingly uncovers the real story of Goldy being canned by KIRO:
...if he wants to stick with radio, he’ll find another job. It may be in another market. I’ll say it again: Eugene would be a perfect fit. Get some experience, temper the act, learn more about fairness. You can take strong positions, but you must be fair.
Actually, Eugene would be a shitty place for Goldy to find a new job in radio. Want to know why? Same reason he can't find work in Seattle. Locally-owned radio stations are old hat and chained owned stations don't hire local talkers.

The two stations in Eugene that have some similarity to KIRO, KUGN 590 and KPNW 1120, have exactly two locally-produced shows between them. That Eugene's talk local radio scene is exactly two morning shows doesn't exactly paint a pretty picture for Goldy someday landing a gig down there.

Of course, Mark wasn't talking about the actual Eugene that exists in today's media market reality, but rather the fantasy Eugene radio market that would exist with local ownership who cared about the communities they served.

Anyone remember the FCC hearings in Seattle a little while back? Back then, Goldy said this:

Meanwhile, over 251 audience members have already signed up for a two minute speaking slot — if everybody gets their turn we’ll be here for another eight hours! And of the dozens of concerned citizens who have already spoken, only one has argued in support of loosening ownership rules… my colleague and KTTH morning host, David Boze. (Talk about a brown nose. I sure hope that’s not what it takes to get ahead in today’s corporate-owned media, because if it is, I’m screwed.)
It wasn't his stand on the FCC rules that got him fired, but if the rules had been different, he wouldn't have been fired. Make sense?

Anyway, I wonder if this means a return of Podcasting Liberally. To be honest, I listened to that a lot more than I listened to his show on KIRO.

And, to make a suggestion like what Mark made above (but hopefully better informed): If Goldy likes to hear the sound of his own voice, then maybe get together with the barons of online media in Seattle, and do some sort of non-Podcasting Liberally podcast thing.

Dog as Partner episode makes me think of Ahern as something else that is a-h related

Rep. Ahern of the far east of the state does his best to make a state house hearing into an uncomfortable Thanksgiving meal. Rich Roesler at the Eye on Olympia blog does a good job summing it up:

Among the critics: Rep. John Ahern, R-Spokane, who drew audible gasps from some in the crowd Tuesday when he asked if the state's checking up to make sure people aren't registering their pets as partners. (Couples must file notarized state forms.)

I'm just kind of worried about whether or not there could be some individuals out there scamming the system and that they're actually claiming a dog as a domestic partner or just a, you know, a figment of their imagination, just whatever," Ahern told Pedersen. "So do we have a Gestapo situation…"
Here's the audio of the exchange (Thanks TVW!), if you want to feel the full squirming of the moment yesterday.

There is a break between the first and second portion of the file, where someone else asked a question before Ahern came back with another squirm inducing question about Rep. Pederson's kid's last name.

Hey kids (17 year olds), don't forget to caucus in Washington State on February 9

Just a reminder to all the folks out there googling for the caucuses in Washington State on February 9th, if you are 17 years old now but will be 18 by November 4, you can participate in the Democratic precinct caucuses:
Who can participate in their caucus? All registered voters and those who will be 18 at the time of the presidential election can vote at their caucus. You can register to vote at the caucus location and vote in the caucus. Others who are not registered can participate but can not vote.
Speaking of 17 year olds and the democratic process, there is an interesting bill in the legislature that will allow anyone to vote in a primary election if they're going to be 18 by the time they next general rolls around.

Monday, January 28, 2008

5 thoughts on the last "great" Husky team in the Seattle Times this week

Have a good week Dawg fans. Do yourself a favor and read the Times' series cover to cover and think hard.

1. We already new that Stevens and Pharms were this side of evil and that Neuheisel was a snake. But, now we have the details and we know about the King County prosecutors office was helping out.

1a. I'm probably not the first person to draw an analogy between the current discussion on the stadium and this series, but before I actually hear or read it: the foundations of Husky football are shaky in more ways than one.

2. What's it worth to have a good team if you lose your soul in the process?

3. How hard is it going to be to fire Ty Willingham now? Former mayors offering up $100,000 for his head now seem pretty childish compared to what was going on before Ty showed up. Yes, the team should win, but in a post Don James world, we shouldn't have to accept rape, robbery and multiple hit and runs to get to the Rose Bowl.

4. Wasn't ALL Rick's fault. Lambright was the one that recruited Stevens. But, then again, who knows how he would have handled Stevens, given the chance. Neuheisel was certainly lax.

5. And, I'm thinking -- Good God -- that maybe some things are worth it if college football has gotten to the point that we have to accept stuff like this to get that far. Neuheisel is back in the conference, so we will have to compete with his lowest common denominator.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

KOUW the Conversation using Facebook as a sort of blog for a radio show

A while or so back, the Conversation opened a Facebook account in preparation for a show about how the different generations use media differently. Then it sat there.

Then today, they imported a bunch of new posts into their Facebook account using the note application, seemingly setting up a blog for their friends. This would seem to be a way to generate a nice online conversation in addition to the email and phone traffic they already get.

Here's a feed to their notes.

And here's hoping. Apparently, their next show will be on sobriety checkpoints, so if you have an opinion, go over to their account and chime in.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Help write an IRV resolution for Washington Dem precinct caucuses

No chance to actually discuss resolutions this time around, but you can go here and help out writing a resolution in support of IRV. Then you can submit to a precinct caucus (Dem or other) on February 9. After that it goes to your local county platform committee for hashing out.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Making to sooo easy to find your caucus on February 9 in Washington State

Democrats do worse than Republicans in caucus site location in Washington State, so says this guy:
OK! We're in business. And here tis: 46-2228 meets at Wilson Pacific School. That only took three websites and a boatload of errors to pull off.

Nice going on being "user-friendly," Dems. It's not like 80% OF THIS TOWN isn't going to be USING THE WEB to try to find a DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS. I mean, what TRUE BLEEDIN' HEART LIBERAL would EVER USE THE WEB? I mean, it's not like they ever blog or use it to do grassroots organization. Heck, the special interest groups that are associated with the party, like pro-choice orgs and environmental groups, THEY DON'T EVEN HAVE WEBSITES!


Hmm. Inaccessible, not standards compliant, and throwing a JavaScript error. Now there's an attack ad waiting to happen. But let's see if the GOP can do any better with their search first.

I didn't have the same problems this guy did, but that said, he's also more intelligent than most folks that are going to be looking for their caucuses because a) he knew his precinct number and b) he knew what he was looking at and for when he scoured the party websites. That he's bummed about of web caucus efforts means a lot.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

"Emmett Watson selling condos for Paul Allen"

I feel so sad for John Keister, because now even Knute Berger is making fun of him for the Renton thing:

A sure sign that something is going on is the new TV ad from Renton which aired during the Seahawks playoff game last week, featuring former Almost Live! comedian John Keister shilling for the town which, we're told, is "ahead of the curve." John Keister selling Renton? What's next, the ghost of Emmett Watson selling condos for Paul Allen?

The only way for Keister to redeem himself at this point is to go on Seattle Untimely and explain himself.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Well, I had good time at our pre-caucus forum last night

For the second cycle in a row, the Thurston County Democrats is holding pre-caucus forums ahead of the precinct caucuses. This is basically an exercise to get people revved up for the process of writing the county platform, something that had been the domain of a party executive committee picked platform committee and the delegates that bother to come out to the county convention.

When they did this in Seattle, they called it "An experiment in open platform building." There were a handful of areas that did this two years ago, I'm not sure if anyone else is doing it this year.

We held our first event last night at Olympia High School and will hold additional events in Yelm and Tenino.

I was surprised by the turnout, it seemed like just about 200 folks crammed into the high school commons to listen to David Domke talk about translating our beliefs into values. Domke is an interesting guy to hear, you can watch him here.

Then folks spread out into seven issue areas, crowding around lunch tables to participate in moderated open forums about what they think should be in the next platform. The topics were split by the topic headings of our last platform, so I feel very bad for Harmon Eaton, a great guy, but who moderated the "Foreign and Domestic Policy" table. Lots of people there.

Adam Wilson from the Olympian was there too, he has a report on his blog here.

Tim Eyman cherry-picking IRV?

Instant Runoff Voting is on a roll in Washington. Approved by voters in Pierce County two elections ago, it was defending from watering-down last November. Depending on how things go with the Supreme Court and with Pierce County's maiden IRV voyage next fall, IRV could be seen as a nice compromise between a closed primary and a non-partisan primary.

Which makes sense that an initiative was filed to enact an IRV system statewide. It probably won't get on the ballot, but at least one active initiative huckster has taken notice. From email:
I have sponsored an initiative for implementing Instant Runoff Voting. It is in its first form at the moment, at the code reviewer's office. The present incarnation of the text is posted below. I've already been approached by Eyman's henchmen, but I want to keep this as grass-roots as possible.
Probably the worst thing that could happen to an IRV initiative would be a connection with Tim Eyman. I could see a scenerio in which the initiative would still pass, but attaching Eyman's name to the campaign would mean that at least one party in the state would fight it tooth and nail.

On the other hand, sans Eyman, I'm pretty sure that party activists that have already shown a liking to IRV could lead the way and build trust. I know of at least two local party platforms that include IRV (Whatcom and Thurston).

In case you're wondering, here is the description of the initiative:\
Concerning an update to the ballot in the electoral process by which state and national representatives are decided. Implementation of instant runoff voting.

In the case of candidacy elections, where and when more than two candidates are running, the electorate shall be provided a ranked ballot. Next to each candidate’s name, there shall be an option of consecutive numerical ranks equal to the number of candidates running, up to and including four positions. The voter may chose to vote for one candidate by selecting only one spot on the ballot concurrent with said candidate’s name. Or, the voter may rank up to four candidates in order of preference. If, as in the current system, one candidate wins a majority of the first-preference votes cast, that candidate is victorious. If there is no candidate with a majority (over 50%) of first-preference votes, an instant runoff will occur. The candidate with the least first-preference votes (or a number of least viable candidates determined by the legislature) will be eliminated, with his/her ballots redistributed to whom they indicate is their second preference candidate. This process will be repeated as necessary until one candidate receives a majority vote.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

RSS feeds for bill information

Cool note on the bottom of a press release from my rep Brendan Williams:
The Legislature now features RSS feeds for all bills. Using RSS, people will be able subscribe to bills and track changes using their RSS software readers. As bills move through the Legislature,interested RSS users can get almost instant updates on the status of bills. The feeds can be reached via the bill summary page for any bill, through the Bill Information section of the public website (
Since this is the last thing they mentioned in the release, after mentions of two mobile sites and after the House Dems new blog, you would assume it was the least important. But, I'd say its the most.

RSS feeds on bills allows anyone to track whats going on in the legislature without them having to turn over their email to the state. Makes bill tracking much easier. Not that I've tried it yet, but I'll sign up for a few and see how it goes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Will the February 9 caucuses not mattering screw Gregoire?

The Kistap Sun wonders about if things are settled out by February 9, whether there will be any attraction to taking two hours out of your Saturday to express your views on a done deal.

But, with the expected high turn out an essential element of a plan by the state party to recruit a bunch of new volunteer foot soldiers, will bad turn-out to the caucuses hurt the governor's re-election campaign?

DWE spells it out pretty clearly:
February 5th is the day of a slew of state primaries...what Dwight Pelz calls Stupid Tuesday. On Tuesday February 5th, the field will be substantially narrowed. It may even be that one candidate gets enough votes to effectively end the nominating process.

A done-deal nomination would be bad for party activists because it would let the air out of the excitement around the caucuses. All of us will by then have put in hours of planning and spent lots of money preparing for the caucuses. If we get low turnout, we will miss the chance to recruit new folks into the party. We will miss the chance to meet the "Challenge from the Chair" of getting an increase in voter turnout. I also shudder to think of the money we might lose.

Last year, state chair Pelz was puttering around the state, promoting his Challenge from the Chair, a plan to recruit folks out of the caucuses, engage them in the party and in the governor's campaign and get so many new Gregoire voters in each county.

No matter what sort of name calling Pelz uses on the February 5 contests, if one campaigns wins out on the 5th and no one shows up here on the 9th, his plan to recruit a bunch of new folks look pretty bad. Or, if it goes, three ways, he looks like a genius. Either way, its a bit scary for me.

Bergeson is in (she said it, so everyone believes it)

Certainly wouldn't ever mention something like this. Except it was for my obsessive blogging earlier in the winter about how I totally noticed that she was registered to run and more actively raising money than the other declared candidates.

And, yes Jim: her website is horrid. Very horrid.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Where in the hell is my caucus going to be in Washington State on February 9?

Second in an educational series of the gawd awful caucus process.

An awesome map that you can click on where you live (in most places in Puget Sound, including Thurston County) and find a map of where your caucus is.

For people who don't like maps
, but would rather type in their address, the Washington State Democrats have a nice database to find your location.

Part 1: What to expect at your caucus
Part 2: Where the hell is my caucus?

Capital High School not walking away from the fight

Hollister, Hollister... You shop at Wal-Mart

Despite good natured efforts by student leaders at both schools to mutually disarm, Capital High School student's aren't walking away from the fight with Shelton's High Climbers:

Jim Anderson, paging Jim Anderson. A response please from someone close to the Cougars?

Gov. Bill Richardson,, and me

Richardson is out, so I feel comfortable pushing publish on this.

This is a rambling reflection on my coming to support Bill Richardson over three years ago, how I quickly came close to his campaign, met the governor, shook the hand of a guy I read about in a book, then slowly gravitated away from the campaign.

And, now how I think twice about politics, blogging and civic life.

I was in Orting, standing outside the office of the Gazette talking to a financial planner from upstate New York. We were both members of a Yahoo! listserv for Governor Bill Richardson, and a few days before I had responded to an email from another guy on the list who wanted to set a pro-Richardson for president site.

I had said that instead of putting up a bill-board site, that he should try to be interactive as possible. Try using civicspace I said.

That led to a couple of inquiring emails from this fellow I was then on the phone with and within a few weeks we had set up On totally his dime, but my effort, we had a community site up and running for a governor of a southwestern state was that more than a year away from even declaring his run for President.

His campaign was pretty quick on the uptake in reaching out to bloggers. By that spring I was already trading emails with his campaign staff, especially his netroots outreach guy, Joaquin Guerra. I also met a guy in my home town (can you imagine that) who was not only a somewhat seasoned campaign pro, but also a pro-Richardson blogger.

The whole thing crescendoed later that next summer when Richardson came to Seattle, and Ken (the guy from my town) and I went up to a meeting of a couple dozen bloggers that Ken had put together.

My memories of that meeting:

1. Richardson got people in a way that I feel is rare with people in general, not just politicians. Honestly, despite my interest in politics, I have a somewhat undereducated take on the entire process. Forgive me.

I just liked him.

2. He got blogging, and not in a VC, PR sort of way. But in a "I like talking to you, blogging is just talking" sort of way.

So, I continued working on AFR and trying to find ways to bring folks together (we eventually started getting small groups together using zanby).

But, something eventually didn't happen. Richardson never became Dean. Not Howard Dean in the yelling, angry guy that people remember, but the Dean that got me involved in his campaign four years ago. Even though I was involved in the campaign, I guess I was too involved.

I saw other people's personalities, and it became too hard to just do what I wanted to do without having to step on toes. Too many conference calls with people from other states.

I'm sorry I'm not being more specific, but I spent too much time in the parking lot in my truck on conference calls in the fall and winter of 2006 to stay very excited.

Up to the point that when Richardson eventually declared his candidacy in early 2007 I was already walking out the door.

I decided that the reason I got involved in the first place was to see if the Richardson campaign could be like the Dean campaign: easy to involve yourself in and feel excited.

The eventual real killer for me was the ask Bill feature on his website. When they launched Ask Bill, they billed it as a way for anyone to ask Bill a question, sort of like the Youtube debates. But, it was hardly that. It was basically him just answering canned questions to a camera.

This is the guy that would stay in a room until all the questions were answered, but they were trying to pull off this lame imitation of that. The web is so powerful, they could have made a big and good deal with it. They could have allowed people to vote for what question they wanted answered, for example.

Anyway, here's the summary:

2004 was the election where civicspace was born. People took deep action into their own hands and used tools like and hacked drupal to make it work for them.

2008 was the election when every campaign that mattered bought Blue State Digital's campaign suite and expected the excitement of 2004 to automatically replicate itself. Which, at least in my mind, it didn't. The tools you offer don't bring life, people using their own tools and the campaign letting that happen is what brings life to a campaign.

That said, its not all the campaign's fault, I ran into a lot of unimaginative people along the line. I received a lot of emails from people who had contacted the campaign, willing to help, but were frustrated that they hadn't received any direction.

I should have asked them, why do you need direction? You like Bill, you know where you live. Just do something, see if it sticks. No one is going to take out a contract on your life because you designed and printed up some signs and they aren't exactly what the campaign wanted.

Ok, so blogging is different for me now. After the 2004 election, I started blogging at different places, such as and eventually I moved from my own place to places with larger communities and attention. As I moved away from the Richardson-o-sphere this fall, I also pulled back from those places as well.

My civic life is also getting different.
One place I didn't pull back from was, my hyper local community. I also have been reflecting on my local involvements, too see where I can do a better job and where I might be able to better focus my attention. What I take from everything above is that if I have time beyond my local commitments, I'll try larger things again. But, local is first.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Emerald City Greens?


That's supposed to be the name of our new MLS team in Seattle?

I was reserved to living with Seattle FC or even Emerald City FC, but I was really hoping they'd stay with Sounders.

Emerald City Greens?

Eat your greens.

UPDATE: I'm not going to say its growing on me, but my instant reaction is mellowing.

Here's the discussion over at GS, which is less mellow.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

What to expect when you caucus on February 9

Never been to a precinct caucus? Unsure of what to expect?

While if I described it to you in writing it would seem complicated, in reality, your participation in a precinct caucus is pretty straight forward. This video will tell you more.

To find your precinct in Thurston County, go here.

To find your caucus location, go here.

Part 1: What to expect at your caucus
Part 2: Where the hell is my caucus?

Monday, January 07, 2008

KUOW's Conversation gets a Facebook page, not a conversation yet (but they had one once)

I emailed KUOW Conversation this morning about their show on how the generations use technology. I made the not so original point that they should set up a blog for their show, and they ended up setting up a Facebook page.

I've tried to friend them, but I'm wondering what a Facebook page is going to do for them. In my experience, Facebook is one of the least transparent of the social networks. Great if you want to keep in touch with friends, not so much if you're trying to reach out.

I did find something really weird, that the Conversation did at one point have a blog. Its most recent post is this ominous one from about two years ago:
ConBlog temporarily down

The KUOW management is trying to decide whether they want staff members to do blogs.
So, I'm guessing the answer was no?

Don't bring back John Keister: Seattle Untimely Lives!

For awhile now, I've been grinding in the back of my head about the fate of Almost Live! and that John Keister was unfairly off the air.

I even posted a little while ago saying that someone could easily to an Almost Live! on the internet.

Well, hell ya: someone is.

John Keister has sold out to Renton and Almost Live! re-runs are impossible to watch. Long live Seattle Untimely!

Seattle PI Blog: "Seattle Untimely:" Local comedy takes to the Web
Have Bat Will Travel: Seattle Untimely
Citizen Rain: 'Seattle Untimely' jokes about the news

Here is their vodcast feed.
Here are their forums. Thank them.

John Keister sells out to Renton

Ok, maybe that's a bit too harsh, but that was my immediate reaction to John Keister pimping Renton during the Seahawks' game on Saturday. It was a good ad, especially for people who actually remember almost ten years ago when Almost Live! was making fun of Renton.

People who've moved here since 2000 probably have no idea who John Keister is or why making fun of Renton still might be fun.

The one reason why I'd say Keister was totally selling out was that the content of the ad really gave no reason why Renton is ahead of the curve. Most of the ad could have been stock footage of any "I want to be a great suburb" town: kids playing with soccer balls, a pool.

The two concrete reasons, The Landing and the new Seahawks headquarters, are still future projects. The images of the Boeing plant, well that hearkens back to the blue collar residents that Keister and gang were actually making fun of.

Ok, everyone has to make money and if Keister feels like cashing in on Almost Live!, more power to him. But, this puts even more distance between reality and Almost Live! ever coming back.

Sunday, January 06, 2008

5 reasons why My Football Club will work and My Soccer Club won't

1. Big reason: My Football Club didn't ask for money up front.

I was tempted to join MFC when they were asking for folks to say that at some point they'd pay $70 to be a part of the project. I eventually didn't, but I might eventually.

I don't think I'll ever pay the $50 MSC is asking, especially since they're asking for it up front, even before there is enough people to say they would join.

By not asking for money up front, but rather a show of support and an indication that you would eventually pay to join, MFC was creating a sense of urgency as we saw the number of members move upwards each week and created a sense that they weren't just out trying to steal your money.

2. MFC was a fan thing, not just a soccer/football thing.
The folks behind MFC wanted to change sports ownership, it just so happened that the country they lived in (as most of the world) was a soccer/football country.

If this experiment happened in the United States first, I could see them doing it with an independent baseball team (United League, Golden League) before a soccer team. I'm a big soccer fan, but I also live in a baseball country.

The folks behind MSC seem to have taken the idea too literally.

3. There is already a tradition of fan-owned teams in the UK.

MFC was revolutionary not because fans would own a team, but because the fans would be connected through the web in order to manage the team. Fan owned teams are a not uncommon, if not popular, model in Europe and especially in England.

Starting a fan owned soccer team would be a big deal in America and especially if it were a web-based effort. The fans of the California Victory tried to save their team by following a similar path as many other fan-owned teams in England, but they failed.

Jumping to a MFC effort in England was probably a much smaller jump than trying to make the entire leap in America.

4. General trust issues based on behavior

In addition to asking for the money up front, the behavior of the folks behind MSC has been shady. Example here.

I heard Trevor Hayward, one of the guys behind MSC, interviewed on MLS Talk a few months back, and I got the impression that Trevor didn't know what he was talking about.

5. General trust issues based on background

Will Brooks may not be famous, but he is a known quantity in football/soccer circles in England. A former journalist, he knew the lay of the land, and people knew him.

Who the hell are the guys behind MSC?

But, don't worry. If MSC isn't going to work out, there will eventually be other web based sporting team projects out there. I'm probably never going to join MFC, but the idea is too good to die.

Democrats briefing the Greens on the session

Seriously, I think this is a good idea. One Democratic lawmaker briefing the local Green Party on what she expects from the up-coming session and another former lawmaker (and current county commissioner candidate that I support) telling them how to be effective lobbyists.

But, it does remind me of the state Green Party using the Democratic Party as a straw man during the local election cycle last year.

Friday, January 04, 2008

So, who's to say that the parties can't live with Top Two?

Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in the next few months, we might have a Top Two primary back in Washington. This could take the power away from local parties as to who actually carries their label, who gets considered a Democrat or Republican on the ballot.

Right now, that label is determined by a primary election choosing the parties' nominees. But, in a system where two Dems could advance to the general, we could see parties using lawsuits and party conventions to enforce their label.

Side note: even if the Supreme Court upholds the lower court decision throwing out the Top Two, the Grange has said they'd consider a statewide non-partisan election initiative.

Anyway, the recent decisions by the Pierce County Democratic and Republican parties relating to how candidates will appear on the IRV ballot next year could give an indication how the parties could live in a Top Two or non-partisan world. Both parties are allowing more than one candidate to appear on the IRV ballot, the Democrats allowing three, Republicans two.

Letter to the TNT (hat tip to Ranked Choice Voting Washington):

Republicans decided to allow anyone who garners 40 percent-plus of delegate votes at the party’s county convention to run with their brand name. In theory, the party will have a maximum of two candidates for any of the countywide seats. In practice, it will propose one GOP candidate for each race.

The Democratic Party, in contrast, decided to allow an inclusive measure that would allow up to three party candidates per race. In practice, this means that voters will have a chance to decide, based on the merits of each candidate, to actually rank candidates based on their own values and agendas.

IRV is essentially a non-partisan system, as it relates to local parties. Each of them will allow more than one candidate to leave an internal party event (caucuses or a convention) with a nod and a label.

So, who's to say that the two parties can't live with Top Two?

Things getting going with King County citizen councils

Although they wanted to start out with 1,000 citizen councilors, they've gotten 40 so far. The Weekly couldn't help making fun, but the brains behind the idea say it was just the holidays.

I'm thinking that it has something to do with they haven't even hired someone to run the program. But, at least its exciting that they're getting going.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Hating the caucuses (as a process) 2

I don't like to write the same post twice, but this was just too perfect. An email from Dwight Pelz just now:
And the winner in Iowa is...

The winner in Iowa will be the families of the men and women serving in Iraq. The winner in Iowa will be our planet, suffering from the neglect of a Republican administration. The winner in Iowa will be the children of families who cannot afford health care in George Bush's America.
Of course, not the actual men and women serving in Iraq, since they can't participate in Iowa:
Jason Huffman has lived in Iowa his whole life. Lately he has been watching presidential debates on the Internet, discussing what he sees with friends and relatives. But when fellow Iowans choose among presidential candidates on Thursday night, he will not be able to vote, because he is serving with the National Guard in western Afghanistan.

“Shouldn’t we at least have as much influence in this as any other citizen?” Captain Huffman wrote in an e-mail interview.

He is far from the only Iowan who will not be able to participate. Because the caucuses, held in the early evening, do not allow absentee voting, they tend to leave out nearly entire categories of voters: the infirm, soldiers on active duty, medical personnel who cannot leave their patients, parents who do not have baby sitters, restaurant employees on the dinner shift, and many others who work in retail, at gas stations and in other jobs that require evening duty.

Hating the caucuses (as a process)

Bad for Iowa, bad for Washington.

... this ridiculous process he defends will disenfranchises thousands of Iowans as it disenfranchises millions of voters around the country who would like a chance to vote for their favorite primary candidate but will never get the chance.
Future Majority:
To ad insult to injury, only a whopping 6% of Iowans manage to drag their asses out to participate in a given year. Even with an average of 49% turnout (in 2004), young voters can’t catch a break in the media narrative. Yet somehow Iowans get a big fat pat on the back from the media every four years because a few die-hards manage to drag themselves out to the caucus and it makes for great copy and even better economics for the state.
Though, six percent compares favorably to the 2 percent turnout for caucuses we get in Washington.

New York Times:
“It disenfranchises certain voters or makes them make choices between putting food on the table and caucusing,” said Tom Lindsey, a high school teacher in Iowa City. Mr. Lindsey plans to attend this year, but his neighbors include a cook who cannot slip away from his restaurant job on Thursday night and a mother who must care for her autistic child.
In Washington, I'm wondering how long we have to be left defending caucuses and designed low participation.

Why don't we vote to fill vacancies on local boards?

One of the things that made vote-by-mail an easy thing to do politically, was that the proponents said that it would make elections cheaper. No need for real world voting locations, everyone would just mail it in (on their own dime, btw).

So, why don't we hold special elections to fill vacancies in local boards. Right now we're going through the process of appointing a new city council member in Olympia. I've been blogging about it a lot because compared to the regular system of reviewing candidates (at least five months and two elections) the appointment process is short and undemocratic.

Which makes me wonder why we just can't have another election. Here are more thoughts:
  • Local school boards hold elections at irregular times for citizens to consider bond measures and levies.
  • Again, if vote by mail elections are so cheap, why not hold elections to fill vacancies?
  • More democracy is a good thing.
Now, if someone quit five months before an election to fill their seat, I could see the wisdom of not holding an election. But, in Olympia we have a seat with 23 months left to go on it, so if we were to draw a line, somewhere between 23 months and nine months would be a good place to start. I'd go with nine months or a year.

Just creating an option for local governments to hold an elections somewhere in RCW 42.12 would be a good place to start.