Thursday, February 26, 2009

Joe Hyer('s campaign) wants your conversation

Joe Hyer has a campaign spot on facebook and he's using it to get some feedback on issues.

You can see the short conversation on the isthmus park here. You can join in if you sign up for facebook and join his group.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ken not running

Ken Camp isn't running for Tumwater City Council. I'm going to say he will eventually, but who wants to ruin the first summer of Sounder FC by doorbelling?

Plus, he has another mini-Camp on the way, which is a huge consideration.

In the mean time, Ken should prep himself, which means getting to know the city.

The Tumwater City Council posts their agendas online. I also put together a nice little RSS feed you can subscribe to.

There are a handful of open board and commission spots in the city government, serving on one of those would be a great experience. Of course, you might want to hold out for a spot on the planning commission, the top drawer of local appointed boards.

Read municipal research stuff. Its worth knowing all you can know about local government in Washington State.

Develop a Tumwater-centric hyper local blog. I just thought of this one this morning. All the times I've gone to the state library to look at old newspapers, I never found any archives for Tumwater papers. That makes me think that Tumater has never had its own newspaper. It might be a cool thing to be known as the guy who helped Tumwater develop its own news source.

Or not, people migth think you're some kind of crank blogger.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Joan Machlis has a website up

So, I assume she's running. Its a wordpress install, so that by itself is a good sign.

Erik Landaas kicks off outside the district

Erik Landaas is running for county commissioner in the third commissioner district, but he's starting his campaign way outside the district way over east in the Lacey Community Center.

And, his website is ugly too. Frames? Seriously?!

Here's a short list of locations Landaas could have considered:
  • The Viewpoint room at Tugboat Annies.
  • The Black Lake Grange Hall.
  • Practically any bar, restaurant or pizza joint in Tumwater.
  • El Sarape, for example, has a big back room. Its on Capitol Way in Tumwater.
  • Ballyhoos. Nice place.
  • Erik Landaas's house. He lives in the district!
I know, the seat is elected by the entire county in the general, but he first has to win the primary, which is elected by the district. And, at least theoretically, commissioners are elected to represent their districts. So it sends a bad message to not start running in your district.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

More state constitution fun

I recently had a the joy of learning more about the Washington State constitution.

Some people should know more:
Ms. Kimberlie Struiksma has filed a ballot measure (Initiative Measure No. 1040) that would, among other things, "prohibit state use of public money or lands for anything that denies or attempts to refute the existence of a supreme ruler of the universe, including textbooks, instruction or research."
The State Constitution:
No public money or property shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or the support of any religious establishment...
God bless those atheists.

Olympia city council early campaign notes

Hayes out (we hardly knew ya):
it has occurred to me that the time commitment and the potential personal cost to myself and my family is too high.
"Potential personal cost?" Boy, what could that mean?

Sermonti in (who are ya?):
“If we change what Olympia is and what we stand for, we won’t have a downtown, but if we refuse to change at all, we may well not have a downtown either," he said.
What... da... dog... does that mean? We won't have a downtown? Wha? Ah man, I'm confused.

How TVW helps citizen media, civic dialogue

Last year when TVW launched its embeddable and time markable media tool, it was mostly because political bloggers griped for it. Its application by bloggers has been slow going (I hardly ever see anyone using it), but this week, something cool happened.

Both sides of the local isthmus debate went up to the Capitol to testify of house bills that would regulate development downslope of the capitol campus. Both groups used the TVW embed tool to highlight their testimony. Here is Friends of the Waterfront and a much more agressive use by Oly2012.

While the local legacy media was only able to give the hearing a short story in the paper, TVW gave local groups the tools they needed to give the issue a much more thorough airing. It took a commenter to even link to the actual TVW footage at all.

Local debates are ripe for this kind of use of media. It would be great to see if TVW would be able to export its custom flash player to local governments so they could offer the same kind of embedable and time customized media tools that the state legislature deliberations enjoy.

Actually, wouldn't it be great if city's like Olympia, instead of using an out of state company like Granicus, be able contract with a local non-profit whose sole purpose is to distribute public deliberations? I'm not saying that Granicus does a bad job, but they're an out of state for profit company when we have an in-state not-for-profit that could, if they decided to, do the same thing only better.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is this the bookend? Can we move on now? (Griffey is back)

I was online last night and half my RSS feeds (it seemed like at least) were people chiming that Griffey Jr. had returned. Even Andrew, normally a political blogger, is piling on. Not that Andrew isn't known for piling on.

Honestly, I wonder how many people would have cheered if Baseball America had ranked our farm system in the top 5. We were #11 last year, by the way. That at least would be an indignation that our team would be a winner in the next few years.

What I hope for is that Griffey is able to perform well, get 500 at bats and end his career as a Mariner. I hope he goes into the Hall of Fame and as a Mariner. But, all of that sort of stuff is emotional.

What I really want is for this to be a bookend to our emotions regarding the Mariners since 1995 for most, but since 1989 for me. This backlog of emotions is where we get the "Edgar as batting coach" and "Dan Wilson as manager" sort of thing. That somehow if we go to the recycling bin and brush off the guys we used to love and plop them in an appropriate spot, September 1995 might somehow magically appear again.

Ken Griffey Jr. is 39 years old. He had a .425 slugging percentage last year between two teams and drove in 71 runs. All of that isn't bad, but signing him is an expensive way to recognize that our memories of victory are more powerful than our logic of what we know it takes to build a winner.

I'm hoping this is more like signing Ken Griffey Sr. in 1990. And, that five years from now -- with a new person in Niehaus's spot and with a bunch of guys that we don't know now but we'll eventually love -- we'll have a good reason to wait in our cars for the game to be over.

I just love this article:

The Wedding reception for Gayle Frink and Randy Schulz at the Seattle Yacht Club will have to carry on without who sits in his car in the parking lot with the engine off and the radio on. He dares not leave, not as long as the Mariners have one last turn to bat, one last turn to alchemize imminent defeat into another magical victory.

It is Sept. 24, a Sunday afternoon. Yes, this is a blessed, once-in-a-lifetime event. It's the first time the Mariners have been in first place this late in the season in their 19 years of existence. Cripes, they had never been in first place even as late as Memorial Day. Gayle's wedding? It's her second.

So the radio and the listener cannot be separated, as if the connection is magnetic. Seattle, trailing by a run, has one man on against Oakland A's closer Dennis Eckersley in the bottom of the ninth. The voice of Mariners broadcaster Dave Niehaus crackles through the car's speakers: "Here comes the pitch to Tino.... Swung on and belted!.... Deep to right-field.... And that will be.... Flying away! The Mariners win it, 9-8, in perhaps the most incredible game in their history! And 46,000 fans are losing their minds in Seattle! Tonight, I guarantee you, it will be sleepless in Seattle for everybody who was here today, including me!"

Holy matrimony! The Mariners have done it again. Now the guest can join the wedding party. He takes the keys from the ignition, slips out of his car and shuts the door. And this is what he hears: the whoomp of about 20 other car doors closing at almost the same time. Other guests have been captivated by the Mariners too. Soon they are high-fiving in the yacht club parking lot. The party has just begun.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Some over at Hayes headquarters reads this stuff

After this, they fixed the Capital/Capitol thing (yea!) and then turned off comments (boo!).

Lisa Hayes wants your comments (bad speller 2)

The city council candidate has a website and what looks like a blog post with comments enabled. Not sure if there is a moderation feature, but I'd say give her some comments.

Also, seriously not trying to pick on Hayes too much for bad spelling, but this just rubbed me wrong: "Looking out my bedroom window I see Capitol Lake, the Sound, the Capital, and on a clear day Mount Rainer." I can understand not using the correct capitol/capital usage, but when you used it correctly just a few words before, now that is weird. Did you think that Capitol Lake referred to something other than the Capitol?

Sunday, February 15, 2009

3 thoughts on Nafziger's "Fog of Lawmaking"

Here's an entire post from Nafzblog that had been taken down (could be up again by now, who the heck knows?):

Legislatures and congresses are full of conspiracies. Democrats conspire to raise taxes. Republicans conspire to cut social programs. Committee chairs conspire to take credit for things committee members do and conspire to kill their bills. Leadership conspires to control committee chairs and to kill divergent members' bills in the rules committee. Staff people conspire to leave other staff people out of the loop. Legislative leaders conspire to hold secrets from other members to achieve conspiratorial purposes.

Behind all these conspiracies is a deeply held view that somebody must be in charge and is running the place. Their friends and allies are in the loop and everyone else is left out.

Unfortunately, such command and control management is rare. For better or worse, legislative bodies are highly decentralized. Individual legislators are elected from areas across the state who have different interests, populations, races and industries.

Overlay the fact that a part time legislator has to work at high speed, around the clock to finish the public's business in a 105 day session.

In the State House, 23 committee chairs run committees and focus on specific areas and aren't always able to focus on the big picture. Leadership struggles to link the views of all the committees together with all the interests of legislators from varied districts who often have contradictory interests. They must then coordinate their actions with another house, the Senate, and the Governor all who are run by different people with different points of view.

I hope you are getting the picture. In general, for most of the legislative session, legislators are working in the fog. As they labor through the process of studying bills and talking to constituents, they only can barely see the outlines of what is happening in other committees with other bills or with other staff people. Unable to get a clear picture, many of us then imagine conspiracies.

The fact of the matter is Democracy is messy and sometimes unclear. As Winston Churchill said, "Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried."

Churchill, ever the political philosopher, then said "The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter." Which is nice to know, but isn't my point.

1. With the "Fog of Lawmaking" theory and the divergent views from across the state, it makes sense why writers, bloggers, observers and reporters would lean so heavily on "Olympia" as a metonymic device for "state government."

2. "Fog of Lawmaking" would actually make a great blog. Take three or four separate policy issues and try to shine a light on them throughout the session. Someone like Nafziger could do it, if he could ever keep all of his posts on his blog (smirk).

3. 105 days isn't enough time to really govern. The Washington legislature should be closer to full time with closer to fully paid members. Our state is too big to depend on a part time legislature.

FOCA strawman vs. Bread of the World afterthought

Three weeks or so after the FOCA-mania at St. Mikes (with no bill actually having been introduced to congress), I finally see the double standard for political issues at church.

Inside the bulletin, there is a notice for a letter writing campaign from "Bread of the World." Granted, it was a full page notice with another article a few pages deeper, but this is a far cry from the sermon and postcards being passed down the pew version for FOCA a few weeks back.

I don't have a problem with politics in church. I think its healthy to be informed how your faith and public policy intersect.

What I have a problem with is the double standard on which we treat political issues in the Catholic Church. If its a "life" issue, we deal with it full-throated. For other issues, you know like feeding the hungry, there's room in the bulletin, but not on the pulpit or in the pew. And, you want to write a letter? Use your own stamp.

Bread of the world does make it easier than that with this online letter writing tool that I'm going to take advantage of.

Bonus FOCA: Here's a recent update on FOCA. Differing views on its impacts. A sort of "Rorschach blot" of policy. Depending on what side of the debate you fall on defines what you see in the intent and impact of the legislation. Makes it even less likely that it would ever get passed.

The sad part about the above update is that it gave me the feeling of homily as email spam. Ugh.

Rich Nafziger pulls his blog down again (gaaaaa! And, puts it back up again))

UPDATE (like literally moments later): No sooner did I write this that he's up with two new posts. His old archive is still gone though. See below to find that.

Last week, Rich Nafziger (local blogger and senate dem chief of staff at the Big-Greek-Building) wrote a funny blog about the governor ("Hoover Award" Ha!). He first took the post down and then his entire blog. As of right now, if you go to his blog, it will be empty of posts.

Nafziger would have a much better blog if he didn't pull it down so often. He's done this before, a couple of times at least. Once (as I remember it) soon after the Olympia School Board began to become interesting and then when he left the school board for his current job.

I shared all of the recent posts from his blog that reached my feed reader, so if you go to my shared items, you can scroll around and find all of them. Aside from the Hoover piece, the rest of his blog is pretty smart and harmless. I'd actually love for more people like Nafziger to take the time and seriously maintain a blog the way he had.

It is sad that he feels the need to pull back from blogging so often. I am going to take the liberty of having saved his posts on my shared items

Thursday, February 12, 2009

What should I do with the talking George W. Bush in my office?

I got this for a Christmas present probably over five years ago. It was very funny for awhile, but while cleaning out my office today, I noticed it for the first time in a long time.

Now, I can't figure out what to do with it? It isn't really all that funny anymore, so I can't see keeping it as an office decoration.

Is there some fun way to trash it? Or do I keep it for posterity, like an "I Like Ike" button?

So, what should I do?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Nafziger pulls down Gregoire's Hoover award

It was a pretty funny post while it lasted, but Rich Nafziger (day job: state senate Democratic chief-o'-staff) took down his post awarding Gov. Chris Gregoire a "Hoover." It happened soon after the Spokesman Review's political reporter noted it on his blog.

I guess it makes sense you can have a big shot Dem staffer poking fun at the Dem governor.

You can see the old post here on my shared items, just scroll down a bit, you'll find it.

Lisa Hayes, bad speller

It is Bob Macleod not Bob however you feel like spelling it (from her press release, via here):

Lisa Hayes is supported by a broad group of citizens including Neil McClanahan, Dean Foster, Dylan Carlson, Bob McCleod, Brad Tower, Susan Bogni, Carmen Hoover, Selena Kilmoyer, and many more.
Which, is I know, a little dumb mistake. But, not so small when you see she worked on Macleod's campaign two years ago. She should know how to spell the name of a former county commissioner, her most prominent supporter (sorry Dylan) and a former client.

Building roads "intrude(s) on our rights"

Your right not a have a uh.... road?

Having the chair of the county Republicans is going to be interesting, in at least I can try to figure out what these folks are thinking. But, since the new year, R. Scott has been sadly quiet on local issues. He did post up a collection of words that seemed to be his thoughts on the local party he now leads, but other specifics on local issues are lacking. And, yeah, he came out against the Timberland levy lid lift.

Anyway, he posted up on his google links about the local effort to bring together lists of projects for stimulus money and has this comment on a link to the Olympian story:

“Here is our local government with their hand out. Most of the stimulus money will be spent on government projects that intrude on our rights.”
So, how is Yelm building that bypass they've been talking about for over ten years an intrusion on your rights?

Sunday, February 08, 2009

New kind of dialogue with state government

I'm shaking off the tragic metonymy in his title, but Rich Nafziger makes an interesting point here. Despite the Washington State legislature (not "Olympia" sucka) having one of the most open systems in terms of who gets to talk during a committee meeting (first come, first serve) the system still isn't perfect:

The fact of the matter that the public hearing process in Olympia could be improved. Citizens are unable to take time off of work to come down make their opinions. Meanwhile, lobbyist earning 7 figure incomes clutter the hearing dockets and roam the halls. This is broken.

Several committees piloted web dialogues in the past couple of sessions. In the online dialogues, committee chairs ask questions relevant to key bills and citizens can register online and comment on the bills and the ideas. The dialogues provide a string of a conversation where both legislators and the public can raise new ideas, ask each other questions and comment on each others' posts. Unlike newspaper online comments, the tone was always civil and constructive.
In my short experience with the few online forums the legislature sponsored (can't find the link now), I was impressed. The online committee hearings took place outside of session and covered more general topics instead of actual bills. I guess that's one reason the conversation, as Rich says, more constructive than a newspaper comment thread.

I've been toying around with an idea in my mind, a sort of super public comment tool for state government on down. Each level of government in Washington at some point has a need for public comment. It would be interesting to create a system online where a citizen could create a user profile using their voter registration (or some stand in for folks who aren't registered) and then see open public comment processes in the jurisdictions they reside in.

So, in my case, I'd see public comment for the city of Olympia, Thurston County, the local PUD and port and the state of Washington.

I'd be able to post comment to any of the open processes and either have it archived for whatever public official will review the comment or immediately accessible to other users so they could comment back on my comment.

Of course, normal rules like not being able to overuse the system (three comments a week, for example), not being rude and not using particular language, would apply.

For this system, the important thing would be to segregate people into public comment processes that they actually are involved in. So, keeping Kitsap residents from commeting on an interesting issue in Renton would be a priority.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

The 5 sad things about the Olympia Bulletin

1. He's paying attention to the right things, but the way he writes about them (not backup to his statements, writing the same post day after day just changing names) makes him look silly. I think the Transportation Benefit District is downright important, especially as it concerns the balance between impact fees and fees to drivers, but he's making an ass out of the issue with his posts.

2. The blogger "Patrick" is anonymous. If you're going to say something like what you're saying, be accountable for it.

3. Your blog is called "Olympia Bulletin." Do you really need to put a dateline at the front of each of your fake news posts? At best its amateur hour, at worst its like you know better but just don't care. I mean, could you possibly be talking about councilmember Joe Hyer in Olympia, California?

4. He did a great thing with his blog aggregator, but by skipping over using links in his posts, he ignores the blog conversation around him.

5. Repeating #2. Anonymous blogging, especially when the wheel house of what you're doing is ripping people down is annoying. I guess I'm ok with it when all you're doing is attacking George W. Bush or some other distant figure, but when you're attacking a local person, it makes you no better than "Truther." Be accountable to your words, come out from behind being anonymous.

I really appreciate local blogging. I really really appreciate it and I've praised OB in the past (here and here). I'm just sick of bad, anonymous local blogging too.

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Yes, Karen Valenzuela's appointment by the governor was totally legal

Twitter 1,
constitutional reference book authors/attorney general's office/county prosecutor 0

Thanks to this, I can safely say that the intent of Amendment 52 (through Senate Joint Resolution 24) to our state's constitution absolutely gives the governor the authority to appoint a new county commissioner, if the a new one can't be chosen through the local level.

A twitter angel pointed me to the collection of voters pamphlets on the Secretary of State's website. And, if you look at the pamphlet from 1968, you find a clear description of SJR 24:

Pages From Voters Pamphlet 1968 Kingco 2007 000806


Was Amendment 52 a minor edit? No, I don't think so. It overturned Munro v. Todd. Either way, the county commission took care of business yesterday.

Was Karen V's appointment legal?
Trying to explain why Karen Valenzuela was legally appointed

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Trying to explain why Karen Valenzuela was legally appointed

UPDATE (Wednesday, February 4): Yes, legal.

The lawyers that can actually explain to me why this is bunk are either not explaining or haven't gotten back to me. But, from a Socratic exchange of emails with someone who should've been able to supply a straight answer, I'm figuring the whole problem out.

The problem lies in trying to prove that Amendment 52 passed two years after Munro v. Todd (which said the governor has no authority to appoint a county commissioner) gave the governor the authority to usurp the authority of the county commission.

The current RCW
seems to assume this authority exists. But, I can't find any historic record that indicates that the point of Amendment 52 was to give that authority to the governor. That said, the only thing left to do is to compare the section of the state constitution before and after the Amendment to see if the changes indicate that intent.

And, by the way, in writing this out, I can pretty much say that "The Washington State Constitution, A Reference Guide" misstates it's title. It is not a great reference guide. It makes a huge mistake in implying the governor doesn't have the authority to name a county commissioner.

So, here is a line by line comparison of the 1956 version of Article II, Sec 15 of the state constitution and the 1968 version (that followed Munro v. Todd):

I'm not a lawyer, so I'm not confident in saying that the new paragraph inserted by a statewide vote in 1968 was aimed at solving the problem presented by Munro v. Todd. I also haven't been able to find anything like a history or newspaper article that says that was in the intent or effect of the Amendment.

But, there it is. This settles it in my mind, but I would also like a more definitive answer by someone trained in such things like Washington State constitutional law.

Monday, February 02, 2009

TO: Carl @Effin' Unsound

Not that I have any problems with Horsesass, but don't do it:

Speaking of HA, Goldy is thinking of integrating some of the more established local blogs like he’s already doing with Publicola. I’m inclined against joining at this point for a few reasons: I like the independence of having a separate blog. I don’t mean that Goldy will act censorious of anyone who writes here, but that some day he may decide he can put his skill set to use not hosting a bunch of blogs for very little money, and then where would we be? Also, I like the out-of-a-can feel of EffU; that there aren’t many bells and whistles, or ads helps keep focus on the writing, and it’d inevitably lose some of that switching over. But I’d like to hear what y’all think.
Because, we need more bloggers, not fewer.