Monday, June 29, 2009
Yes, a wiki on social web guidelines for local elected officials in Washington State.
Karen Veldheer has twice now sought a seat on the Olympia City Council. Her reason for candidacy has been the hard fought battle against somewhat notorious developer Tri Vo. Her activism in that realm has garnered her support from some pretty important local Democrats.
In her application for now Mayor Doug Mah's council seat last year, she also cited here membership and work with the Reformed Orthodox Presbyterian church, a more conservative version of the church in America founded by John Calvin. In the same application she lists her involvement in the local Christian homeschool organization and her pastor as a reference.
All of these are fine things. Until a few weeks ago I attended church regularly and even volunteered, so I'm not looking down my nose at Karen culturally. I think involvement in a community of faith is an admirable thing.
That said, where does one's faith life leave off and one's civic life begin? Her campaign is built upon her experience with her battle with a developer: environmental protection, consumer protection and responsive government. If you poke around the website of her church, these aren't issues they speak directly to at all.
What they do address are social issues like the rights homosexuals. Which, as you might imagine, they aren't big fans of (here and here).
Pretty direct stuff on that topic:
I understand how people in political circles can disagree about some things and come together on other issues. This could be what is going on here with Democrats like Brendan Williams, Karen Fraser, and Sandra Romero among her supporters.
You see: no special treatment for the homosexual, no concession to any type of sin, but a gospel with such power that members of the early church who had been enslaved to all of these types of sin were delivered from them. Some of them were homosexuals before. But they were no longer such after they were liberated by the Lord Jesus. It is our conviction that this is still true today.
Or, it could be that Karen attends her local church, but firmly disagrees with them on social issues. I can tell you first hand that a lot of Catholics like me disagree pretty firmly with the mother church on social issues.
Either way, there is also a local issue to address here. Where does Veldeer stand on the Equal Benefits Ordinance, which requires city contractors over a certain dollar amount to provide domestic partner benefits? Would she consider it special treatment or a concession to sin?
Olympia has a long tradition or supporting domestic partnerships, being one of the first cities in Washington (over ten years ago now) to start a domestic partner registry. So, while this particular issue may not be front and center right now, mostly because it is so uncontroversial within the city, it is worth asking Veldheer where she stands.
Friday, June 26, 2009
The logic goes that if you blog about what you do as a city councilmember, the computer you blog on and all of the data that touched that blog post is now public. Or, could be public.
Walter Neary, a city council member from Lakewood, who gives a lot of advice like I do (and blogs about it) came across lawyers who gave their chilling advice during a conference:
The case is O'Neil v. Shoreline (here and here), and it involved an email from a city councilmember from a private account that was part of a public records request. They (now) former council member changed parts of the email, and the court ended up ruling that the city was resposible to make sure the email was available in its original form, even if it orginated from a non-city server.
I spoke to a standing-room-only crowd at the Association of Washington Cities annual meeting about the use of Twitter, Facebook and blogging to reach our citizens. ... The overall feedback I got afterward is that a lot of people were thankful ...
What got very odd is that four people... warned that these methods could bankrupt a city because of a court ruling involving them. Needless to say, their comments had quite a chilling effect on the discussion. I had to acknowledge their concerns without being familiar with the case.
So, lawyers working for cities across Washington State are a conservative bunch, and they don't want to end up costing their boss's any more money than necessary. If a city councilmember is going to start blogging about city business on some outside account, they're likely going to tell that city councilmember that its up to them to defend themselves in court when someone comes making metadata public records requests for their blogging.
I'm going to read the decision later this weekend, so hopefully I can figure out more. But, its ironic that a case that was meant to open the doors of local government is causing legal staff to offer the advice that its best to shut them right back up.
Don't blog, we don't want to get stuck with the legal bill and bancrupt the city when someone comes looking for your home laptop.
There are a lot of well written passages, this is the one that most attracted me:
How does the strangeness wear away and turn into a kind of pride?Although Bigelow was talking about a much different Olympia, I think this is how newcomers who become long-time residents end up feeling. That Olympia is weird to them at first, but the weird things end up becoming what they're most proud of, in part, because they start to understand the weird things.
Another thing worth noting here is that within a few pages Bigelow talks about how important the train station was in Olympia, and then a few pages later, that Olympia has always needed (and still did need) a railway.
I'll take credit (or blame) for putting this one online. I know you can buy it at the Bigelow house as a fundraiser, but since it isn't in copyright, never was copyrighted and was paid for partly by the city, I felt o.k. scanning and posting it.
Plus, if you want to support the Bigelow house, please, please, please donate.
"The Life of Isaac Stevens (Part 1 and Part 2)" on Google Books. This isn't so much about Olympia, but it includes much of the most researched portions of Olympia's history, the early years around the Indian Wars.
I include it here mostly because if you try to find an original version, good luck. Either you'll pay through the nose or you just won't find one. These online editions are invaluable.
Early History of Thurston County on Google Books. I can't say I've actually read this one, butit appears to be in the same vein as "Where the Potholes Are," a regional history with personal bent.
What I can certainly say about it, is that it provided with me an extremly valuable piece of historic information, the exact location of Gov. Issac Stevens' original office, where he worked in the first year or so after arriving in Olympia.
In a completely innocent context that question was asked of me this morning. In answering I said "seems like a good candidate on paper" (I'm supporting JK btw), but, wow.
Stop being weird Steve Buxbaum (from jusbytheclown.com):
Your opponent should be allowed a photo-op with a clown without you jumping into the picture with your sign and half smile.
Or, is this a case of un-equal time with clowns? The Olympia Clown Guild will take this one up at their next meeting.
Thursday, June 25, 2009
They might not have been able to tell, but that was actually a group of legislators not from Olympia and not Olympia itself. I wasn't there, we didn't send a delegation of our city council.
Sunday, June 14, 2009
Generally speaking, the reason Olympia gets on certain national lists as being a good place is that its relatively cheap to live here, because of government our employment levels are stable (generally), there is a lot of culture here for the size of the city (thanks to the state government and Evergreen), temperate weather and pretty geography.
I avoid Olympia proper as much as I possibly can. I don't shop there and I try to avoid dining there if I can think of an alternative. Why? The place is an arm pit and has become more so in line with the volume of the "We hate America" crowd that infests downtown and nearby areas.
The reason Andy hates downtown Olympia is because a lot of liberals hang out down there and there is graffiti. Makes sense to me, people oftentimes make decisions where to be based on politics and how their politics inform their culture.
Far be it from Andy to shop at Einmaleins, that anti-American shop owned by a German! (By the way, that's a joke. In my mind there is no more pro-American shop than Mathias' place.)
Anyway, it makes sense because so many people make the same decisions. Read a great series by the Austin American-Statesmen on the Great Divide phenomena here. Generally speaking, it says people choose where they live by Andy's standards: do you agree with me, do you like the stuff I like.
So, for the very reason Andy hates downtown Olympia, a lot of people simply love it. They love the liberal to radical politics of our geography, they love things like graffiti art (a portion of it is art) and Procession.
The Kiplinger's rating has nothing to do with taste, but rather other, less subjective standards. Other than, I guess, the presence or absence of culture.
All that said, Andy is right. Olympia is a total hole. Crap hole filled with dung heaped with bad food and smelly people. Don't move here. Just send envelopes of cash. Thanks!
The best, the most complete (up to the 1960s or so) is "Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen" by Gordon Newell. This is a seriously thick book that covers almost every moment of Olympia's history (from the state government and local perspective) from pioneer days to the 1960s. Of course its incomplete now because its so old now, but still very complete.
The second best book would of course be something that updates RB&S to the current day.
Here's what I wrote about it earlier:
Generally speaking, the books tells the story of Olympia from main street and the Capitol. Gordon was an old time newspaper guy in Olympia, so he had great background for both Olympia scenes. He also lived early enough in Olympia's history that the really old stuff really wasn't that old to him. It is oft-referred to, but seldom seen. There are only six copies in the Timberland system, a few of which don't circulate.
The lack of local library (or even digital editions) is made up by there being a lot of affordable copies online. Right now, Amazon has several copies under $20.
The second is "Confederacy of Ambition." Certainly less of a total history than RB&S, but also deeper (if that's possible). My earlier review.
This book is great because it takes on the glossiness that people put on local history when they're being lazy. Like this:
Washington began as a state founded by optimistic settlers with utopian dreams, and to some degree that sentiment continues resonating.
Uh, no. If William Winlock Miller was the typical settler (and I think he was), he may have been optimistic, but he certainly wasn't utopian. He was a driven, realistic, politically savvy and business focused sort of guy.
Or, more simply, it fills in with personal history the gaps that are left when you do a local history that just names names and takes down dates.
Friday, June 12, 2009
But, you know what I miss?
The original banner, that featured the chair of the county Republicans giving his thumbs up endorsement of Beehler, looking like the dude from Steethawk.
The man... the machine... R. Scott.
Supporters of the top-two primary, like Sec. of State Sam Reed, keep arguing that it offers voters more choice. Well, in the 36th LD, the district highlighted in the article, voters will be given the choice this November between a progressive Democrat and a liberal Democrat.
That quotes makes an interesting contrast to today's post from Goldstein on challenging sitting Seattle legislative Dems from the left:
A primary challenge is one thing. In the old days of actual party-based primaries a well healed incumbent could slap down an insurgent in September, well before the actual public discussion ever got going. And, with the primary in August now, the debate is even shorter in duration.
The irony is, we all know there’s a fair share of deadwood in the Seattle delegation, along with a handful legislators who simply aren’t as progressive as their constituents on a number of important issues, such as pay day lending, the homebuyers bill of rights, tax restructuring, and more. Indeed, start this conversation at nearly any political gathering, and the same names keep popping up again and again, the usual suspects of Democratic incumbents who deserve a serious, well-financed primary challenge, and who just might not survive should they face one.
Most Democrats from Seattle, once they got past the primary, were able to coast through to November with token opposition from a Republican or maybe a Green. But now, a serious progressive insurgent Dem could challenge a sitting moderate Democrat all the way until November, pushing the discussion harder and actually giving voters in liberal Seattle districts a real choice from within the party.
I'm surprised Goldstein hasn't seen this utility of the Top Two and is still calling for "primary" challenges, when it is really unlikely that a challenging Dem to totally knock off a sitting legislator in August.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Olympia city councilmembers Jeff Kingsbury, Joe Hyer, Rhenda Strub, and Thurston County administrator Don Krupp did not. They didn't vote no, they didn't turn in a ballot at all.
Councilmemembers (yeah, I guess he's a mayor) Doug Mah, Karen Messmer, and Joan Machlis, and county commissioners Karen Valenzuela, Cathy Wolfe and Sandra Romero all turned in ballots.
Monday, June 08, 2009
Not to take credit away from Joan and Karen Rogers (mentioned earlier here), but if anything Mathias said got them going in this direction, good for you man.
Sunday, June 07, 2009
The three large buildings lining Capitol Way in the center of the detail are the old county courthouse (where my big boss spent some time), old William Winlock Miller High, and the above mentioned Capital Apartments.
Tuesday, June 02, 2009
But, how does Janine balance her roles as candidate, journalist and president of a non-profit that publishes Green Pages, a locally focused environmental journal that covers local government? I'd say the lines are too blurred for comfort.
For example, Janine has been using her journalism blog to post press releases from her campaign. She calls her Little Hollywood blog an "independent journalism" effort, but it isn't independent if she posts campaign literature there, at least not independent of her own political ambitions. I have to question the rest of her coverage, if its actually independent or if it is colored by her biases and political views.
And, while she serves as president of Green Pages, she is afforded a editorial bully pulpit there that neither of her opponents can claim. Her columns have not shied away from local politics, and her column from the March/April Green Pages could almost be campaign rhetoric. Certainly not table pounding stuff, but still something you might hear during election season from a candidate:
For many, the isthmus issue is indicative of how we will treat each other in the future. Senator Karen Fraser's bill, the undaunted efforts of community members and Mayor Mah's new interest in exploring alternatives with the community may mark a new beginning in how we actively discuss such issues.Let me be clear here. I've been thinking about this issue for over a month now and I'm not putting this up lightly.
This issue is a test, perhaps, of how well we can work together on our city's list of priorities and proceed through complicated conversations about urban density, the continued loss of farmland, our relationship with the county, and the proper collection of impact fees so growth pays for growth.
We must work toward a common vision and ensure that everyone's concerns and ideas are not only heard, but acknowledged and used by city leaders in creating new and better solutions. There are trust issues, to be sure. It's a small town and we all wear several hats. We are intertwined in so many ways. Democracy can get kind of messy sometimes, but when common ground is found, we can all feel pretty good about ourselves and move forward.
If not for Jeff Kingsbury, I'd have a hard time choosing between Steve Buxbaum and Janine Gates, and honestly I'd probably be supporting Janine because of her blogging. But, I am troubled by the lines blurring.
Also, this is not a concern troll sort of post. I come to these thoughts honestly.
If she wants to distribute campaign stuff online, there are other venues than polluting her own journalism blog. Olyblog is always a good option, as is OlyForums, and the local twitter community. Janine could also add a specific campaign blog to her current website and avoid all conflict.
In the end, I hope Janine continues her good work, just with stonger fences between her roles.
FYI, I'm supporting Steve's opponent.
Monday, June 01, 2009
"I'm so excited"
"I just can't hide it"
"Can someone pass me a donut, so I can find a reason to be out here this morning and like it?"
Swear to God, I don't go looking for this stuff. I subscribed to the RSS feed on his website and now they're even emailing these things to me. And, I was really ready to ignore whatever was written on this morning. Couldn't help it.
The cross-section of supporters, the youngest in a stroller...So, you count a kid that was brought to the event as a supporter?
“Pat [Beehler] knows to cue in and clean up the budget issues of our county,” supporter Mike Edwards exclaimed to the early-risers of Monday morning’s tailgate.
I really looked around for what "cue in" means. I did, couldn't come up with it. Maybe its a pool term? Or maybe its supposed to mean "clue in."
At exactly the 9th hour on Monday morning, Beehler officiated his candidacy for Thurston County Commissioner District 3.O.k., beyond just the phrase "At exactly the 9th hour," there is something else wrong with this sentence. If you can tell me what it is, I'll give you a Pat Beehler signed donut from this morning's event. Promise.
I especially like her writing about doorbelling:
Some of the things that I heard this week:
* Like the new parks and want them built as soon as possible.
* Slow traffic down.
* Do something about the traffic congestion.
* Having trouble finding a job.
* We must bring in new industry and new jobs.
* Want someone in office who has the time and energy to do the job.
* We must revitalize downtown.
* Olympia needs a new, integrated plan for downtown.
* The Isthmus rezone is horrible.
* The Isthmus rezone is necessary.
I know Karen has been getting some pretty good advice on her web stuff, and its good to see that she's not only paying attention but putting it to work.