Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Some Coug from Tumwater files for the open Brendan Williams legislative seat

I've never heard of this guy, but he sounds like a pretty qualified and uhmmm... ambitious fellow.

Via email:


CONTACT: Chris Reykdal
December 30, 2009
(360) 790-3151


OLYMPIA – Last night, Tumwater School Board member Chris Reykdal announced his candidacy for the 22nd District House seat being vacated by incumbent Representative Brendan Williams.

“There is something lacking in the politics we see today,” said Reykdal, a Democrat who resides in Tumwater with his wife Kim and their 5 year old son Carter and 3 year old daughter Kennedy. “I am running for State Representative so that all of our children are handed a community that is better than the one handed to us.”

Chris Reykdal was first elected to the Tumwater School Board in 2007, and previously served for three years on the City Planning Commission. He is a former legislative staffer, High School teacher and the current Deputy Executive Director of the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges. Chris will bring with him to the legislature a comprehensive knowledge of education issues that is second to none.

“Our state is facing unprecedented challenges,” continued Reykdal, “We have avoided critical conversations for too long – from education funding, to environmental protection, to tax reform. I pledge to the citizens of the 22nd District that if they send me to the Legislature, I will take the tough votes and work tirelessly to secure the values that make our community a wonderful place to raise our families.”

Chris Reykdal understands the struggles so many families across the 22nd District are facing because he’s faced these challenges himself. The youngest of eight kids, Chris was raised in Snohomish. With the help of food stamps and Government assistance, the Reykdal family persevered. Through the hard work of both Chris and his family, he was able to attend Washington State University, where he was the President of the College Democrats. He met his wife Kim at WSU and they attended graduate school together at the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill.

In the legislature, Chris Reykdal will work every day on behalf of families struggling to make ends meet, just as his family struggled in his youth.

“I am heartbroken at the thought that my kids and their generation may be the first in American history to experience a lower standard of living than the generation before them. One person, one legislator, one dad can’t turn this around by himself, but I am deeply committed to adding my talents and passion to a body of distinguished legislators who do have the power to make a historical difference in the lives of future Washingtonians.”


The only thing that makes me wonder about announcements like these is their impersonal nature. Its written the same way most press releases are, as faux news stories, quoting in this case the obvious author. If you're quoting yourself, why not just write a nice message?

"Hey, I'm Chris, I'm running for state representative."

Monday, December 28, 2009

Review in five thoughts of "Olympia: a People's History"

In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Olympia, the city published a collection of historical essays. I picked it up a copy from the library a few days ago, and have a few thoughts.

1. I don't like that the edition was hardback, I don't like that the content is copyrighted. Hardback, 8.5x11 books are a bummer to read, seem worth keeping on your bookshelf as collectibles than actually reading them.

Also, while its not illegal for a local government entity to copyright a work, its not something I'm a big fan of. We should consider why the federal government is not allowed to copyright, and then think about why our taxes are used to put together content that we are not all free to use.

2. Using the phrase "People's History" is curious. Typically, something titled "People's History" is a reference to the seminal Howard Zinn history or an offshoot that Zinn himself edited. This book is obviously not of that series, and less obviously, doesn't even follow the same theme.

3. That's not to say that there aren't some good sections in the book. The sections on Rebecca Howard, Women, the Chinese Community and (in part) Little Hollywood were what I thought the book would be. Unrepresented stories of Olympia's history that don't get told much.

Its interesting that the most fascinating chapter and a topic I've never seen discussed anywhere else (Rebecca Brown) was written by the least experienced of the writers.

4. Important points of history missed.

The essay on John Miller Murphy by Roger Easton was pretty good, but it paints Miller as a up from the bootstraps newspaperman. An important part Easton missed on Murphy's return to Olympia in 1860 was that he came back to establish a Republican newspaper in 1860 near the beginning of the Civil War. Democrats up to that point had been in charge of territorial politics, but with the Democrats also leading the fight to secede in the South, Republicans were ready to take the advantage in Washington.

Daeg Aerlic Byrne's essay on Little Hollywood misses the point on why the city in the late 30s worked to remove the shanytown. In the paragraph that he writes that "something changed" and that "no available document explains why" Olympia city fathers would want to do away with Little Hollywood, he Byrne also names what exactly changed. The year before the city moved to get rid of Little Hollywood, the state legislature began funding what would eventually become Capitol Lake. Before they built the lake, they had to get rid of the shantytown, its pretty simple.

5. Still worth checking out from the library too. The book itself is a bit high priced ($35), but it does go to a good cause (the Bigelow House museum). What this book did spell out to me is the need to collect and encourage ongoing scholarship about Olympia's history.

Maybe after a year of selling the original run, why not post the essays online (minus copyrighted images) and develop an online historical journal?

TDN uses initiative results to draw a bad conclusion in WA3

The WA3 may very well be a swing district, but you shouldn't use the recent ballot initiative results to prove it, as the TDN did last week:

While voters across the state soundly defeated a Tim Eyman anti-tax measure and, by a narrower margin, supported the rights of same-sex couples in November, Southwest Washington voters in the 3rd Congressional District had other ideas.

By a small margin, the 3rd District backed Initiative 1033, Eyman's proposal to cap government tax collections. And by six percentage points, the 3rd District defeated Referendum 71, which extended rights to elderly and same-sex couples similar to those given to married couples.

The numbers, released this month by the Secretary of State's office, are further evidence that the district can be fickle about its politics — and why political pundits say next year's battle to replace outgoing Congressman Brian Baird will be a donnybrook that could become the most expensive campaign in state history.

As I wrote last week, there are two reasons to reject this premise:

1. If you are using initiative results, the 3rd was much more conservative last time there was an open race, when Baird beat a Republican by a healthy margin.

2. The No on 1033 campaign did not compete on the air in SW Washington. If they had spent any money in the Portland television market, the narrow win by 1033 would have been a loss.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

No so much a leftist rejection (and not so tough terrain) in the WA3

Clark County Politics and Politico (and I'm sure tons of people in the next few months will do the same) dusted off the election results from last month to predict a Democratic loser in the open WA3 race. It seems like a good strategy, but it appears to me that saying that an approval of I-1033 and a rejection of R-71 doesn't necessarily predict a loss for a Democrat next November.

Here's why.

The last time there was an open seat in the WA3, Brian Baird beat state Rep. Don Benton 55 to 45 percent (Baird pulling down 49k in Clark County, Benton 46k). If the logic that CCP holds was true back then, WA3 voters, and Clark County voters in particular, should have approved some liberal ballot measures in 1997/98.

Well, turns out that didn't happen. Turns out the WA3 voters seemed more conservative back then then they are now.

In 1997, voters in the counties that make up the 3rd (couldn't hit it on the nose) rejected a measure that would have given homosexuals workplace protections. Anyone would admit that this measure was considerably more limited in scope that this year's. But, it actually did worse in 1997 than the more broader measure this year (44 in 1997 to 47 approval in 2009).

By the way, here are my calculations, the data is of course from the Secretary of State's office.

A year after Baird was elected, the voters in the counties that make up the 3rd (again, not exactly the same) approved Tim Eyman's first anti-tax initiative I-695 with a whopping 61 percent. Ten years later I-1033 barely skates by in the 3rd with a 50.27% yes vote.

Not exactly a conservative mandate, and not a good way to explain how a conservative will win in 2010. If Brian Baird was able to beat Don Benton with similar ballot measure results reflecting an even more conservative WA3 in the late 90s, a Democrat should actually have a better time this time around.

But, I don't think there's any connection between ballot measures and congressional elections, and here's why:

Measures are a statewide vote and congressional campaigns are regional. This matters in the sense of where a particular campaign will spend its money. A campaign for or against a ballot measure will seem to spend t.v. money where its most needed, Seattle and Spokane (where the people are) and the Tri-Cities (probably because its pretty cheap).

One of the places where they won't is in the Portland market because its expensive to spend there and you're spending on very few of the Washington residents in the SW corner of the state who make up that particular market.

And, that's exactly what No on 1033 did last year. That campaign spent money on television advertising in every part of the state, except where it would reach voters in Brian Baird's district. Negative advertising in ballot measure elections tends to convince people to vote no as a safe alternative.

So, if the I-1033 campaign had given SW Washington (and therefore the 3rd) the attention it had given the rest of the state, that measure would probably have failed there too.

Hardly a "leftist rejection in the 3rd."

Friday, December 18, 2009

Olympia will be on the sidelines in the WA3

Though Politico first called the WA 3rd an "Olympia area district" when this entire replacing Baird drama started, its quickly sussing out to be all about Vancouver. Or near Vancouver.

With all due respect to Cheryl Crist, that Brendan Williams held onto his hat yesterday put the final nail in the coffin for any major influence Thurston County liberals will have in this election. And, even though Denny Heck graduated as a geoduck and now lives in Olympia, the last people who successfully elected him to anything were in the 17th LD.

Even one of Heck's biggest political achievements is one of those cross boarder issues that only people who live in Washington but shop in Oregon care about:

Q. What was your proudest accomplishment during your years in politics?

A. The Tuition Reciprocity Act, which allowed people in Clark County to attend Oregon state universities at resident tuition rates. There was no publicly supported four-year college or university within commuting distance. You could go to Clark College, which I did, but if you were place-bound, you could not complete your college education unless you could afford the non-resident tuition rates at Portland State University or the private college rates at University of Portland and Reed College, etc.
Olympia-as-a-city isn't even completely in the district. A good portion of the NE part of the city is in the neighboring 9th, along with a good portion of the rest of urban Thurston County.

Olympia and Vancouver are the two liberal bookends to a district that is mostly Republican (aside from Grays Harbor and Pacific County, but they elect a different sort of Democrat). But, Olympia is not in the gravitational pull of Vancouver, and it'll be troubling to watch how we're pulled into and possibly muted in this election.

So, what are these political differences that I vaguley refer to that separate Vancouver from Olympia?

1. General garden variety "I live so close to Oregon" issues. If a big city like Vancouver didn't exist in the 3rd, these wouldn't crop up because you wouldn't have a large enough constituency that wanted to shop tax free. Or, go to school in Oregon, or want to treat Oregon like it was part of Washington or vice versa.

2. Columbia River vs. Puget Sound.
Both are big natural resources arenas with different issues. Which gets your attention, which gets the money?

3. Evergreen State College vs. WSU Vancouver.
Even though Evergreen was established with at least the partial mission of being the 4 year institution that serves Southwest Washington, one could argue WSU Vancouver now either actually fills that role or competes very closely with it. Although it has about half the enrollment of Evergreen, it is much closer to the region's population center and has a more mainstream brand. What would serve you better as a congressman? Building up WSU Vancouver or Evergreen?

4. Transportation. How we get to Seattle vs. how we get to Portland.

Thurston County budgeting some Web 2.0

They approved a budget today, which from what I can tell includes this:
• Redesign county website with a modern easy-to-use look and feel.
• Utilize Web 2.0 technology (example: Twitter) to disseminate information to
public in a timely useful manner.
But, there's a nuance point to be made here, that in the budget document they still want to "disseminate" rather than "engage" or "exchange." The real power of Web 2.0 isn't to get information in front of passive eyes (although the web has great power to do that) its to have a dialogue.

I think it'll take more than a new website and tools to create a culture of online exchange at the county.

The geography and politics of crime in Thurston County's invisible city

Zeroing in on where exactly someone was shot last night near here. First cut, NWCN email:

Not Lacey, but you can't blame them for thinking that.

Getting closer, at at least technically true by mailing address, is KIRO:

And, hitting the nail on the head is the Olympian:

The murder happened just on the edge of urban northern Thurston County, unincorporated, but as KIRO put it, a "crowded neighborhood" with obviously urban issues.

View Larger Map

This area (Thurston County's Invisible City) is the third largest city behind Olympia and Lacey is is policed by a county sherrif's department that had admitted it is grossly understaffed.

You could point to the recent flare up between the county sheriff and the county commissioners on staffing and say that the commissioners should have given him more funds, but you'd wrong to look there. I think that battle was more of a symptom that the actual disease.

The real problem is that a county sheriff department is left holding the bag with the job of policing a city that does not exist. This is why we have city governments, because people living in high enough densities need a more intense level of government service, like police.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Can the Tea Baggers scuttle Jamie Herrera?

Well, this is interesting news. The most interesting thing so far I've seen out of the new, exciting and open WA3:

Our resident political opportunist, Jaime Herrera, is an interesting person. She portrays herself as something of a conservative. But a questionable voting record serves to make me wonder. Is she exaggerating about that the same way she exaggerated about her background to get the appointment in the first place?

My complete familiarity of her appointment process and the horrific manipulation of it was something I'd mentioned in the past. This made it pretty clear to others with information exactly where I stood.

So, we begin with today's tidbit: the fact that Jamie Herrera appears to have been ACORN'S Representative in the House.

ACORN and SEIU are synonymus with leftist thuggery of the variety we've seen practiced over the past several months in support of Obama. Who hasn't seen the tapes of ACORN's corruptive influence?

Well, here's a few of the votes that Herrera took that tends to show exactly where she stands on those issues important to the SEIU... and, by extension, to ACORN.

It seems like conservatives down Vancouver way were ready for Rep. Herrera to get into the race so they could start painting her.

Last time around, the Republican chamber of commerce centrist got beat out by the Ron Paul sort of candidate. This was despite her getting the endorsement of the organized Republicans in the district.

So, if one of Herrera's opponents can raise a little money and tie her name with ACORN in the district, is she toast?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Why doesn't Thurston County post food inspection reports online?

Another line of thought for this longer line of thought. I had the curiosity this morning to look at the county's website and poke around for food inspection reports. Seems like a pretty basic thing to post online, right? Nope.

Well, that's not all that surprising, I guess, not everything that is interesting gets posted (see city council packets in Lacey). Kitsap and Pierce counties do.

But, what is really interesting, is this note:
The Health Dept conducts periodic inspections of food establishments to help prevent the spread and reduce the risk of food borne illnesses. Violations are corrected through a combination of education and technical assistance.

Our food service inspection reports are available through The Olympian newspaper or you may request copies of inspections from our office by completing a Request for Public Information Form...

So, I can fill out a form or read it in the Olympian. I'm assuming they email the information to the Olympian and I'm assuming I could email the request form to the county. So why can't the county post the actual reports online?

This seems like one of the duties that a daily newspaper used to have to serve in a local community, gathering and disseminating essential data collected by the government. Births, deaths, marriages, food safety inspections are all important, but there's no reason now why they can't just immediately be posted.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Potentially very funny

If this turns out to be a joke, then it'll be great. Especially if they do a good job with it. If it turn out to be serious, well, then I guess I'll have to put up with it. Not that I don't like the idea of a parking garage downtown, there is just too much good stuff out there for jokes.

Also, if this was a serious attempt to promote the idea of a parking garage, I think it would be better to have done it as a fan page or group, rather than a personal account. That said, if it is the parking garage wondering why we haven't built it yet, then all the better. Funny.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Should Zach Smith run for the state legislature?

Via email this morning:

Dear friends,

As you may already know, there will be a vacancy in the 22nd District House of Representatives. Voters in our district have enjoyed a long tradition of strong representation on the hill. I am confident that with careful consideration and good planning voters will continue to elect candidates that represent and aggressively pursue issues important to our community.

I have taken the first steps to form an exploratory committee to determine my viability as a candidate and ultimately your voice for the 22nd District Washington State House of Representatives.

Please contact me with your ideas, thoughts and any input you think might be important regarding my candidacy for this position.


Zach Smith

What I know about Zach Smith:

He's a super involved local Democrat, serving in several capacities in the state and local Dems. He's a pretty smart and nice guy, but when it comes down to agreeing with him on things, I usually differ.

Ok, I agree with him on the public policy issues that most Democrats agree on, unions, spending, etc. But, where we differ is in the part machinations stuff. So, on things like the Top Two primary and caucuses, he and I differ.

Which isn't a bad thing entirely, its just how things are.

Today's Lympians! (let's change the constitution for Carrie Prejean!)

OOoooo! ooo! I have one!

Oooh, darnit:

The Twelfth Amendment states that "no person constitutionally ineligible to the office of President shall be eligible to that of Vice-President of the United States." Thus, to serve as Vice President, an individual must:

* Be a natural-born U.S. citizen;
* Not be younger than 35 years old; and
* Have lived in the U.S. for at least 14 years.