Friday, December 23, 2011

Olyblogosphere links (December 23, 2011)

I like that I end up doing this on Friday. Seems like a regular thing almost.

1. A little history from Accidental Initiations 2 of those days in the early part of the last decade. Olympia newly minted as "hippest in the west" and other things:
During the show’s run we sold out The Capitol Theater every night but the impact was even greater than that. Like The Spearhead Sound Hours Benefit, The Transfused involved so many people that it felt like the whole town was in on the ritual. There was talk of taking it to Broadway and I am sure if they had, it would have stood a shot at Hedwig-style success. Sadly, like so many Olympia projects, The Transfused and its creators could not contend with the dangers of commercial success, so the production went no further than the city limits, and today it lives on only in the videos from its one production, and in the memories of those who were there. Even more disheartening for me, once the production ended, that sense of inclusion I had enjoyed dissipated and I faded back into the white woodwork of Olympia with most of my former collaborators walking past me on the street without any sense of kinship between us.
There is no actual evidence of this on the internet, but I remember one of the last (or maybe THE last) performances, the cast and audience of The Transfused invaded Lake Fair on an early summer evening and goofed around. Before 9/11, before the Nisqually quake that changed downtown Olympia forever. Boy, those were the days.

2. Yodelling Lama wonders (as do the rest of us) why Fish is the only microbrewery in town. There used to be that racing place in Lacey, but I don't think that really counted.

3. Alice (@wazzuoly) on her blog writes about the KRS-One show:
This pleasant night on the town taught me an important lesson. Every once in a while, I need to step outside my comfort zone. And I am going to do it. Too often we stay in our own little box, never taking the time to experience something different. It’s sad really. And it has driven this country so far apart.
4. Go Thurston, Sam Garst, environmental protection video:

5. Pretty picture of Grass Lake by Paul T.Marsh from the Olympia flickr pool.

Foster vs. Gorton, reliving the 60s with redistricting

Since the redistricting commission technically still has time, they might as well take it:
Having already surpassed their self-imposed deadline of finishing in November, members of the Washington State Redistricting Commission said there is still more work to do and that a final deal likely wouldn’t come before next week. The commission has an official New Year’s Day deadline, or else the duty is sent to the state Supreme Court.
I've tried to see if anyone has mentioned this little historic fact, but this isn't the same time that Dean Foster and Slade Gorton have dueled over redistricting Washington State's political boundaries. The Secretary of State's blog pointed out Gorton's role, but ignored Foster's.

Gov. Dan Evans signing the eventual redistricting law in 1965.

Highlight showing Gorton and Foster looking over his shoulder.
 Both Foster and Gorton were young participants during the contentious 1963 redistricting effort. Gorton was the redistricting leader for the Republicans in the legislature while Foster worked as a vital young staffer for the Democratic leadership.

Late last night I read the portion of the new book on Gorton that covered his role in the 1963 session (a pdf of the book is available free at the Secretary of State's website):
(Democratic senate leader Bob) Greive consigned the House bill to committee. The sorcerer had a gifted apprentice of his own. Young Dean Foster ran the numbers, tweaked the majority leader’s plan and gave him something to shop around on the House floor. (Slade) Gorton warned that two could play that game.

A lot of people, including some members of his own party, were wary of Slade “because he could just outsmart anybody,” Don Eldridge said. But  Greive  had  way  more  detractors  and  clearly  had  met  his  match  in Gorton. “I tell you, the two of them, that was a combination,” the GOP caucus chairman said. “I’d liked to have been a little mouse in the corner at some of those sessions.” 18  Pritchard said Greive was “Machiavelli on redistricting. He was too smart for everybody . . . until he ran into Gorton,” who “knew every jot, diddle, corner — whatever it was.
Grieve himself had some observations of the 1963 during his own oral history with the Secretary of State's office. Foster was so important that he would send state patrol cars from Olympia to Bellingham to pick up Foster from college:

Ms.  Boswell:  Dean  Foster  has  told  some humorous stories about you coming to pick him up in Bellingham and sending an escort to get him when you needed him to work.   He was still a college student right, during much of it?
Sen. Greive: As I understand it, he was.  I don’t think he was going to school while we were  in  the  session,  but  I’m  not  sure.   The other  thing  about  Foster  is  that  he  had  a tremendous capacity for work, as did Hayes. In  other  words,  he  understood  what  was important.    He  understood  the  question  of timing and everything else.
Ms. Boswell: Do you remember sending some state  patrolman  to  get  him?    Tell  me  about
Sen. Greive: In those days we had control of the state patrol’s very existence and anything that we wanted that dealt with the Legislature, they  were  “ours.”    They  were  most accommodating as long as it was something in an official capacity.  If the majority leader in the Senate, or the chairman of redistricting or whomever, had something he had to have, they would accommodate you.  They did that for a lot of other things.  I wasn’t the only one who did it.  But I did send the state patrol up to get him and take him down there to Olympia if I needed him.  Of course I’d phoned them first and cleared it with them.
I really doubt Foster is getting rides from the state patrol this time around.

Foster pictured from this 1965 article.

Its amazing now with the aid of freely available tools like this, that seemingly everyone (including me) can produce their own set of maps. The process this year even included a DIY section for the rest of us. But, almost 50 years ago, the data was so difficult to parse and the politics so divisive (the legislature itself drew the maps), you almost have to wonder why it even takes as long as it does today.

In the end, how did all that effort in the 1960s work out? Well, let's just say that hopefully we do better this time:

It was unlikely in such a contentious political climate that legislators could come to a decision on a partisan issue like redistricting, and indeed, the regular session closed without any agreement. Governor Albert Rosellini immediately called a special session, but after 23 days, it, too, ended with no redistricting plan.
The Court demanded a speedy solution to the redistricting roadblock, but the order did not guarantee that one would be found. Weary legislators also wanted to establish a redistricting plan as quickly as possible, but knew it had to be acceptable to elected officials as well as the voters.

After forty-seven days of debate, discussion, compromise, and open hostility, the Legislature finally passed a redistricting plan. The measure called for forty-nine senatorial districts, with one member elected from each district, and fifty-six legislative districts

Monday, December 19, 2011

Why do we still call it Thurston County?

It was early 1852 and the legislature of the Oregon Territory was meeting. One of the topics being discussed was the creation of new counties. Over 50 delegates had signed a petition for the creation of a new county on Puget Sound including much of what is now the urban core of the region. There was agreement all around that the new county north of the Columbia should be created, but there was dissent from one corner.

The disagreement came from the man for whom the county was supposed to be named, Mike Simmons.

Apparently the honor was too big for Michael Troutman Simmons, or "Big Mike," an early American settler of the Puget Sound region. And, in the early days, there was no likelier living candidate for a county to be named after. Despite being "unlettered," he was "generally liked," well known and influential. He led one of the early wagon trains into Puget Sound, but when it came to naming the first Puget Sound county after himself, he demurred.

With the delegates north of the Columbia set on Simmons, the rest of the Oregon legislature chose to honor recently deceased Samuel Thurston, the territory's first delegate to Congress. Between Simmons and Thurston, you probably could not have found too more dissimilar candidates.

Here are the contrasts:

Book learning: Simmons wasn't, Thurston was a lawyer.

Attitudes about race: Simmons helped George W. Bush find a foothold north of the Columbia, Thurston inspired and helped write Oregon's racist exclusion laws:
In 1850 Thurston also lobbied the territorial legislature to discriminate against free blacks, of whom few had already traveled to Oregon. Playing to the racial fears aroused during the Seminole Wars in Florida, he wrote legislators that allowing free blacks into Oregon would be “a question of life or death to us.” As runaway slaves had done after seeking refuge with the Seminoles living in the Floridian swamps, free blacks migrating to Oregon would “associate with the Indians and intermarry … there would a relationship spring up between them and the different tribes, and a mixed race would ensure inimical to the whites … and long bloody wars would be the fruits of the co-mingling of the races.”
How's that law degree working for you, Sam?

Attitudes towards the British: Simmons benefited from the the kindness of the chief factor of Fort Nisqually, while Thurston tried to cheat British settlers:
Section 11 of the Land Claim Act was a vendetta against former Hudson’s Bay agent Dr. John McLoughlin, and sought to deny him a land claim in Oregon City.  Methodists wished to build a mission and settlements on the same property and by the time Thurston arrived in Oregon, the dispute was intense. Siding with the Methodists, Thurston falsely testified to the United States Supreme Court, discrediting McLoughlin on the basis of citizenship. He further accused McLoughlin of repeatedly trying to stop territorial development and personally profiting from land sales. John McLoughlin was now an old man and Oregon had been his home for many years. He had retired from the Hudson’s Bay Company and applied for U.S. citizenship. The Donation Land Claim Act of 1850 held that McLoughlin's claimed property at Oregon City be given to the state legislature.
By the way, while lots of places claim Thurston perjured himself in front of THE Supreme Court of the United States to hurt McLoughlin, I haven't found any actual evidence of this. In his journal during the time he was in Washington D.C. as a delegate he never mentions appearing before or communicating with the Supreme Court or any federal court.

Also, in the years he was in Oregon, the U.S. Supreme Court didn’t hear any cases out of the Oregon Territory. Its more likely Thurston perjured himself in front of the territorial court, which is federal court and is still a bad thing.
Ironically, if north of the river delegates had held off for a year or so, we might not be saddled with Thurston County right now. The summer before the creation of Thurston County, agitation for the "Columbia Territory" began with a July 4 speech in Olympia. That eventually led to a convention at Cowlitz in the late summer of 1851, where the creation of counties north of the river was also proposed.

It took one more convention in November 1852 and an act of Congress in early 1853 before the new territory was created. A similar naming change happened at the territorial level as well, with the residents requesting Columbia, but with Congress replacing it with Washington. No word if the Columbia River itself disputed the honor.

Its important to note that in the creation of the new territory the folks from Puget Sound showed the important differences between themselves and their "Willamette masters." They delegates of the new territory early on rejected the racist laws Thurston himself put into place. A law proposing the exclusion of  "Negroes and Indians" from voting was rejected overwhelmingly.

So, this gets back to my original point: Samuel Thurston is (in my opinion) not a worthy candidate for the name of our county. More over, we should go back to the original idea and name the county after Michael Simmons.

Three basic reasons why:

  • Thurston was a liar and a racist. Mike Simmons was not
  • Simmons is now dead too. So, like Thurston at the time, he is unable to reject the honor.
  • Also, Oregon can't tell us what to do anymore. So there, we'll name it whatever we want.
This renaming Thurston County thing isn't at all new, as George Blankenship put out in 1923 that we should change the honor to McLoughlin's. 

I'm not that sold on McLoughlin, but I would entertain other entries. For example, I like the idea of a Quiemuth County or taking Mason County's original name of Sahewamish County.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Olyblogosphere links (December 17 blogs I miss edition)

This could also be the decrobilia edition, which I've already memorialized here.

1. Arbitrary and Capricious (on hiatus since June 2009). This was beyond a public defender blog (of which there are more as I come to understand). I first came across it when I was building a reading list for when I blogged over at Western Democrat. The author at the time lived in Idaho, and around 2004-05 had smart things to say about living out there. He since moved to Olympia (weird, isn't it?) and subsequently had smart things to say about living here.

2. Scribblemark. (not officially dead, but not updated since May 2010). Great blog by Karen Patrick, reminds me of a proto Olympia Views, with its up close commentary on the Olympian. Loving Oly is a classic Olyblogosphere post and I hope it never disappears.

3. Public official blogs like Citizens for Karen Rogers. Unfortunately, many of the really good ones have been blinked off the face of the earth (lots of good blogging used to happen at These blogs are a great example of why archiving local blogs is important. As we see newspapers retreating from covering nearly everything local, candidate and other civic blogs record our history and public debate.

4. If on a rainy night (gone since October 2008). Just a pretty good local blog, a great example of how links get picked up between blogs, especially as reflected in this post. He says something, someone somewhere else writes back and he writes something else that wouldn't have been written if not for a link into his blog.

5. Damn, almost forgot What this town needs (gone since October 2007). Best blog around for awhile, and something that really Olympia needs is a blog about what Olympia needs. Maybe a feature that can be built into a blog like Olynotes?

Friday, December 09, 2011

Olyblogosphere links (December 9, 2011)

1. Everyone should love and read Mark's Notes on the State of Olympia, especially since Mark has to attend Saturday meetings during the holidays. Okay, all together now: POOoooooor Maaaaaaark!

His two post series on local economy is especially good.

2. The local state worker's union reaction to the proposal to lay off a bunch of parks people is buy yourself a Discover Pass.

3. krista and jess went to the Food Swap. Nice.

4. This isn't to point out that the Olympia Food Co-op has had some recalls lately, but that they post recall notices on their blog. Classy.

5. Ten Minute Show is always awesome (Path of Surrender!), but its worth just looking at some old stuff.

Gravity Appreciation Day throughout the perspectives and years.


GRAVITY APPRECIATION from The 10-Minute Show on Vimeo.

2011 from TheSasquatchNation

2009, from when The Ten Minute Show was called The Sunday Report

6. The Sound writes up the problems SPSCC is going to have with their budget.

Monday, December 05, 2011

Dear protester on the cover of Olympia Power and Light: You Suck

Specifically at making signs that avoid my pet peeve. I am 100 percent sure Matthew Green (the real Matthew Green) chose that picture because he knew it would upset me. Why Matthew, why?!?

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Olyblogosphere links (December 3, 2011)

1. Yodelling Lama: What is the proper mourning period for a tree? The answer is 3 months.

2. krista and jess: I called Jess at work and said, “Why does anyone buy microwave popcorn?” My mind is blown.

3. 20+ people are working on ThurstonTalk now. Wow.

4. Olyghostbusters (via McCleary's Morty), which seems to have stopped posting and is focussed on SPSCC's Lady in White. They're carrying both the pro and con arguments.

 Its good they're being fair, but, their busting is certainly too journalistic for me. Proton packs please.

5. And, Dirty Laundry by David Raffin.

Friday, December 02, 2011

We never built the Capital Area Arts and Conference Center

I'm actually surprised by how similar Wenatchee and Olympia are. Wenatchee is smaller than Olympia (31k to 46k), but in metro area sizes, they're about the same (+100k).

There is one significant difference. When Olympia decided against a supposed costly plan for a conference center back in 2003/04, Wenatchee went ahead with their events center, which now can't pay for itself.

The situation going on now in Wenatchee is surprisingly similar to the stories of future horror and woe from 2003 when Olympia (and the rest of the area) was considering what to do with our very own Public Facilities District. Back then, Olympia was pushing for a "Capital Area Arts and Conference Center," which eventually became the center point of that year's city elections.

I remember making phone calls for a couple of city council candidates that fall. Most people would get off the phone with me as soon as they found out the candidates' stand on the conference center.

Phyllis Booth from 2003:
What's wrong with a conference/arts center? Doesn't Olympia need meeting space? Won't the conference/arts center bring in needed business downtown and thus more tax revenue? Yes and no. As with any project, you have to look at the costs versus the benefits. Three expensive studies done in 1998, 2000, and 2003 by the City of the Olympia concluded a conference center will be a net loss or in my words "money pit." Furthermore, Richard Cushing, Olympia City manager, has written that the city's revenues are not keeping pace with the city's growth. He states that in order for the City to have a conference center that they have to determine what is a priority and to make financial decisions based on that priority. City officials have indicated that the conference/arts center will be paid for by funds that are now funding Procession of the Species, the Children's Museum, the Bigelow House, the Olympia Film society and other worthy non-profits.
If Olympia had gone forward with a conference center in 2003, would we now be asking for a Wenatchee-like bailout (setting up a metonymic showdown)?

One of my favorite episodes from that year's campaign was the opponents of the center standing in the back of the room during a day-time city council debate holding signs. On the signs were number like 90 or 85, indicating the percentage of each candidate's neighbors that were against the convention center.

The Capitol Area did eventually build some projects with our public facility district, but it was the less audacious Regional Athletic Center and the Hands On Children Museum.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Olyblogoshere links (November 28, 2011)

1. Compost City!

The best of which is obviously the comment from Cathie Butler at the city, disavowing any connection with this awesomeness:
Although the person in this video says he is from the City of Olympia, this is not a City produced video and the individual is not representing the city or the city's Waste Resources utility.
2. Chum Salmon at McClane Creek. 

3. OlyKraut!


 4. And, last but certainly not least, Olympia Oyster Stew via OlyEats. A literal dream come true for me, I just wish someone would make this for me.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Olyblogosphere links (November 23, 2010)

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Harry Truman in Olympia, 1945

Just over two months after becoming President, on his way to San Francisco to sign the UN Charter and just over a month before "Little Boy" was dropped on Hiroshima, Harry Truman came to Olympia.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Occupy Little Hollywood

Another look back at the historic space being occupied in time and theme by Occupy Olympia, given the commentary by Ken Balsley and the news this morning.

Ken acknowledges the historic parallels between the Occupy camp and Little Hollywood, and even gives a short history of the end of the shack-town:
Some 80 years ago, Capitol Lake was the home to a similar type of resident. Shanties and shacks lined the shores of lower Budd Inlet, as the area now known as Capitol Lake was called. These hovels were known by the collective name of “Little Hollywood”. For years those living in the area were allowed to exist, but eventually, authorities moved in moved out the residents and burned down the shacks.
His history doesn't contradict the closer details, but his telling is a bit more tame than histories written closer to the closure of Little Hollywood. From "Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen" by Gordon Newell:
It was felt, unless the outbreak of war interfered, the long discussed Capitol Lake would soon become a reality and the city father decided, as a preliminary step, to eliminate Little Hollywood from the shores of the Deschutes waterway along the Northern Pacific railyard.

The capture of two kidnapper-rapists of the town's last sensational crime in one of Little Hollywood's shacks had given the place a bad name and it was undeniably a civic eyesore. The residents were, in fact, mostly decent poor and elderly people trying to hold onto the last of their independence. Most had bough their shoreside shacks and floathouses from previous owners from $10 to $50. There were about 50 WPA families, 30 old age pensioners and a few direct welfare recipients. some of the more able bodied supported themselves with odd jobs and scavenging. One resident was said to be a formerly prosperous farmer who had lost everything except $50 in the depression. He had spent his remaining fortune on the floathouse he occupied.

The city had been offered federal funds to provide low-cost housing, but Mayor Trullinger didn't believe in federal handouts. Besides, low rent housing might bring an undesirable class to town... the kind who had the bad tase and judgement to be aged, handicapped, poor or some color other than pure white.

The people of Little Hollywood were served eviction notices and the civic authorities turned a deaf ear to their please for someplace to go. One after another, the shack-town and its occupant surrendered and went away... some to rundown rooming houses, and fleabag hotels, some to other towns. A few of the old age pensioners moved to a modernized version of the old fashioned poor farm which was appearing on the Northwest scene. First euphemistically called "havens for old folks," they later became "nursing homes." The proprietors of some of them, then as now, adopted the adage of the poor farm supervisors... "The less you feed 'em the better the profit."

One after another the shacks and floathouses were burned or demolished and a civic eyesore vanished and was forgotten... just like the people who had been driven from it.

It was listed as one of the proudest accomplishments of Mayor Trullinger's administration.

From Dean Shacklett's "Little Hollywood Era In Olympia Recalled": officials who barely had tolerated Little Hollywood during the worst depression years decided in 1938 that the shacks had to go. The sizable job of carrying out that order was given to W.R. Turner, building inspector.

Turner enlisted the aid of Beale Messinger, city police lieutenant at the time, and the two set to work. First, the ownership of each of the shanties was determined. This was no small job in itself. Then, each of the owners was served with condemnation papers.

As Little Hollywood's residents were evicted, their shacks were burned. Two years after Turner and Lieutenant Messinger started their chore, the torch was applied to the last shanty.

As Turner recalls, "Some of Little Hollywood's residents were pretty nice people, but most of them were bums."

The condemnation proceedings were carried out with a minimum of fuss and fury, the building inspector remembers. "There was one guy who let me inside his shack and then took a swing at me with a two-by-four," said Turner, "but that only happened once."

Couple of more points to make, this time with some old aerial photos from USGS's Earth Explorer.

One, while everyone points out that Little Hollywood was ironically located below the capitol campus, even if the shacktown didn't exist, the land below the dome would've still been unsightly to some. In fact, Little Hollywood likely owed its existence to the location of railyard that Newell refers to.

In this aerial from 1941, you can see fairly well how the railyard lays in between the settlement and Olympia proper.

So, while Little Hollywood itself might have been seen as a civic eyesore, it was the industrial use of the Deschutes waterway and poverty in general that put it where it was. Is it any wonder that the real modern version of Little Hollywood has been moved permanently to an industrial park? Even as late at 1957, we see Capitol Lake, lakeside industrial buildings and a fully functional rail yard.

It wasn't until 1964 that any sort of park was built on Capitol Lake, and when it was, it only occupied a small corner.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Occupy Olympia, Little Hollywood and 1933 at Priest Point

Little Hollywood in the late 1930s (from here) overlaid with Occupy Olympia (from here). Click on image for larger version:

Since Occupy Olympia moved down to Heritage Park, I've been reminded about how fitting the location is for them. Before Capitol Lake, that particular place was home to Little Hollywood, Olympia's depression era shacktown. It was probably the most visible evidence of the Great Depression in town.

Slog also reminded me of the 1933 Hunger March, an important event in Olympia history. It should be remembered at least for the violence brought down upon the marchers by locals:
In March of 1933 several demonstrators from Seattle organized a march in which they demanded food relief for the unemployed. Once the marchers reached East bay Drive they were met by the police and vigilantes calling themselves the American vigilantes. Both the vigilantes and the police surrounded the marchers pushing them back to Priest Point Park. Once the marchers were in the park their attackers used broom handles to beat the marchers into ending their march. The attacker’s actions made sure the second march never reached the Capitol Building. All though the second march failed to generate legal changes the march altered the way history is told.

Little Hollywood and the Hunger Marches of 1933 are two important aspects of Olympia’s past that is commonly misrepresented. The Thurston County website claims that the Hunger March of 1933 was a protest of 5,000 out-of-work men who threatened to take over the Capitol building and according to the Daily Olympian “terrorize the town.” Sheriff Havens and his Deputies meet the unruly group with a cadre of deputized citizens.

There is no mention of the corralling of the marchers nor is there any evidence that the protestors aimed to be violent. This is the accepted history of Thurston County, not the accepted history of many historians. The importance of Olympia’s past is not being represented and we must not let those who suffered be forgotten. As a lifelong resident my call to action is clear. I must not only tell Olympia’s past but I must urge others in supporting a historical revolution.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hello to Olympia Views, bye to Jim Anderson and a few other Olympia blogs of note

One of the best local blogs to come along in awhile is Olympia Views.  I'm not sure if the blogger is trying to hide their identity, but I if not I haven't been able to find out who is writing it.

My favorite post so far is this one on the possible impact of a Republican governor on Olympia:
This is a story that — at least in Thurston County — should not wait until the election season heats up next fall. Part of McKenna’s platform is governmental reform. The candidate is fairly vague on what that means, but at the very least one can anticipate that an entire generation of managers who have gotten comfortable working for a succession of Democratic governors may worry about finding themselves out of a job.
You also have to love a blogger that puts so much thought picking up my thread on a new library in Olympia.

On the other hand, its sad to see local blogging great Jim Anderson of decrobilia bow out. In addition to decrobilia, Jim also wrote the great 5/17 blog, probably the best education blog I've ever read.

There are a few other newish blogs worth mentioning: OlyEats and Purehunger (a local food blogs that are actually updated every so often) and Bibliosnack (a local librarian vlogs and blogs book reviews).

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why living in a college town is awesome (because we get Olympia Winter Nights)

I'm not saying this is most awesome thing in the world, but its pretty darn awesome and this is the sort of thing we get because we live in a town with a pretty darn good college.

Olympia Winter Nights, a concert series put on last year at Evergreen that I really hope will be coming back:

Olympia Winter Nights is a live concert series created and produced by the 2010/2011 media interns of The Evergreen State College. ...Olympia Winter Nights will be an intimate listening and viewing experience for those attending the in-studio performances. Additionally, the concerts will be viewable by the entire world via a live stream on the internet!

Inspiration for this concert series comes from the long running PBS broadcast “Austin City Limits”, the 1990’s MTV broadcasts of “MTV unplugged” and the recent in-studio broadcasts of KEXP radio “Live on KEXP”. The artists to perform in this concert series will be drawn largely from the rich community of local talent. In true Evergreen State College tradition, Olympia Winter Nights will be complemented with experimental lighting techniques and infused with imaginative, real time MAX/MSP/JITTER light projections. A truly Olympian concert experience!

I especially like the opening, it really reminds me of Olympia and our winter season. Makes me think of home.

Also, in the tradition of things I like, Olympia Winter Nights posted up a free Season 1 compilation album. And, damn, you have to love that theme music.

Its like audio oyster light.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Bombing Harrison Hill

It gets really fun at about the 1 minute mark.

In addition, some other great videos by TranquilSoliloquy, including the Geoduck Fight Song.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Making up for history

Tacoma expelled Chinese residents in 1885, so Tacoma dedicates a park and a Ting:
“This has been a long, long time in coming,” said Gregory Youtz, who chairs the Tacoma-Fuzhou Sister City Committee and emceed the event. “We hope this helps Tacoma tell its story to the world.”


“This will become an icon in the community,” project manager Lihuang Wung said. “This is where people can get together, get married, think about our history and think about the future of our community.”

Lewis and Clark stole a canoe, so the decedents of Captain William Clark gave one back:
More than 200 years later, William Clark's descendants will make amends by presenting a 36-foot replica of the canoe to the Chinook Indian Nation during a ceremony here Saturday.

"We talked about what happened 205 years ago, and we believed that things could be restored if something like this were done," said Carlota Clark Holton of St. Louis, Mo., seven generations removed from William Clark.

"I think everyone acknowledges that it was wrong, and we wanted to right a wrong," she said. "The family was very much behind it."

And, of course, we put Leschi on trial again and exonerated him:
The reason it is so important to exonerate Chief Leschi is for the multiple generations of tribal ancestors who have lived a lifetime with the frustration and anger of knowing what happened to the last Chief of Nisqually.
I like this idea of returning to history, pulling back how the people came before us acted, and attempting to recognize and repair. Its a short-sighted point of view to say that none of us alive today were responsible for expelling the Chinese, stealing a canoe or killing Leschi, so why should we go through the process of honoring the better choices our ancestors could have made?

We do because history matters and its worth pointing out in a very deliberate (a ceremony or historic trial) and long lasting (a park) manner that something bad happened and we'd like not to repeat it.

That said, Olympia has some very dark acts near our founding that we should deal with. Olympia in the 1850s wasn't a very nice place at all:

Also worth noting is that Thurston County was named for a person who once said this:
[It] is a question of life or death to us in Oregon. The negroes associate with the Indians and intermarry, and, if their free ingress is encouraged or allowed, there would a relationship spring up between them and the different tribes, and a mixed race would ensure inimical to the whites; and the Indians being led on by the negro who is better acquainted with the customs, language, and manners of the whites, than the Indian, these savages would become much more formidable than they otherwise would, and long bloody wars would be the fruits of the comingling of the races. It is the principle of self preservation that justifies the actions of the Oregon legislature.

King County changed its name to elegantly avoid being named for a historic racist, might be worth an effort in Olympia.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I know I don't live in Tumwater, but why does the Post Office think I do? And, what can I do about it?

I live on the yellow side of the line:

Since we moved a few miles last year, I've noticed that there seems to be some confusion about which city I now live in. Not confusion by me, but by the U.S. Post office. Its kind of annoying to get junk mail labeled with my address as being in Tumwater, but I know that it really doesn't matter. If someone addresses something to me in Olympia, it'll get to me no problem.

The problem has become when we contact the city over something, we have to first clear up where we actually live. Apparently because the post office thinks I'm in Tumwater, Olympia isn't always convinced which side of the line we're on.

Last year I emailed the city about an erosion problem on a nearby construction site and I had to email them a screenshot like the one above to clear it up. Now, a neighbor is being told she needs to register their home business in Tumwater.

Briggs Village is very much part of Olympia (heck we're in the municipal code).

So, how does one get the post office to change their mind about what city you live in?

Monday, July 11, 2011

Just a short note: everyone agrees where Quiemuth was killed

It was right here:

View Larger Map

The highlight of Drew Crooks' presentation today (for me at least) was Drew placing Quiemuth's death downtown, not up on the Capitol Campus. Its not that historically significant, just a bit of pride that I didn't screw up my own research.

So, how do we go about getting some sort of signage down there, marking the spot?

Friday, July 08, 2011

Where Quiemuth was murdered in Olympia and why it doesn't really matter because we still need to deal with Bunting

The last few years I've been strangely fascinated with finding out where in Olympia Quiemuth was murdered. I mostly wanted to find out because I think its an under heard story in Olympia, especially the reaction of our citizens that lead to the murderer getting off.

Drew Crooks will present his findings on probably the same topic (at least the location) next week, so now's a good as time as any to put out what I found. In short, I probably disagree with Drew about where Quiemuth died.

There are a few resources that firmly pin the location at the old Stevens house on the Capitol Campus (this one and Rogues, Buffoons and Statesmen), but I think they're mistaken.

The more I've plugged into this Quiemuth topic, the more I find the history of the area a lot darker than what is commonly known. When I read Mighty Mountain, it seemed that Binns was making dramatic statements about how some folks were back then. But, now, it almost seems like he was pulling his punches.

There was a least a minority of people for whom killing Indians was not a big deal, or at least part of why they came West. The rest, while they did complain a bit, did very little to bring the murderers to justice.

Read Sarah's Olympia 1853 and my Murders in Thurston County, 1854 to 1857 for more context, but killing Indians was a majority of crime in our early days.

In terms of Quiemuth, it all started out with trying to find where exactly in Olympia he died, with the the intent of possibly memorializing his murder. There are two possible options from my

These clips (One, Two and Three) put the murder either at Gov. Stevens' first offices where the Olympia Center is now or at his newly constructed house on the NE corner of the Capitol Campus. Because of references to an alley way in clip 4, I tend to think its the original offices references in clip 1.

Also, the timeline moves very quickly in terms of where Stevens' and his family lived and when Quiemuth was killed. The murder occurred on November 19 and the family moved into the new house in December. Makes me think it is very unlikely the family would move so quickly into a house that was the scene of a violent murder.

Also, interesting enough, there is no mention by Hazard Stevens in his biography of his father there is no mention of Quiemuth being brought to the new (or under construction) house. There was obviously an office in the house at some point, but its more likely its the offices referred to in clip 1.

Then, I got onto the topic of who killed Quiemuth. There is a lot of thought that Joeseph Bunting was obviously the killer, but that the political sentiment in Olympia led him to get off. Bunting, though, was not done after Quiemuth. These clips (Five, Six, Seven) tell the story of a later murder by Bunting and family. Clip 8 fingers Bunting years later as Quiemuth's murderer, without any hint of controversy.

No direct evidence, but its pretty clear that if Bunting isn't our man, someone like him was. And, Olympia at the time failed to turn him in.

So, in my mind, a few questions remain. Where did Quiemuth die (hopefully we can figure this one out) and do we memorialize where he died?

And, does Olympia owe anything for Bunting? In memorializing Quiemuth, should we take the blame for our city not turning in the murderer?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

What's going on with a home rule charter in Thurston County right now

Last year, the Thurston County League of Women Voters updated their historic study on county-wide governance and made the case for a more responsive and financially stable county government through a home rule charter. The study is worth the read, by the way.

More recently, a group formed around the league started getting together to talk about the possibility of a home rule charter campaign. Here are the notes from their April meeting. While the notes indicate they were meeting again, no other meeting notes or notices are available.

The local Sustainability Roundtable seems to involved, making some moves in this direction as well. Here is a proposed position paper on local governance, which builds off the effort by the league.

Here is a version of the notes above from the April meeting, but with more references on the back end.

Here is where the roundtable will be putting their sustainable governance information.

So, it seems there is a new born effort between the League of Women Voters and the Sustainable Roundtable to create a home rule campaign. Nothing since the April meeting has happened, but I'm still poking around, seeing what I can find.

Thurston County home rule, STOP Thurston County and diluting political influence

One thing I've been wondering about STOP Thurston County, a local franchise of the Evergreen Freedom Foundation, is why they've focused with such laser intensity on particular environmental rules. I'd assume that if these rules were up for a county wide vote, they'd pass.

I mean, across the entire county, Thurston County is pretty liberal. And, the reason isn't necessarily that Thurston is liberal to the core. It literally matters how you carve up the county.

If Thurston County were to pass a home rule charter and create more elective districts, you could see how the balance of power in the county could change. Currently, all three seats on the Thurston County commission are held by Democrats. And they were elected by an average vote percentage of 56 percent.

Using Dave's Redistricting Tool (which has a county level redistricting option based on 2010 census data) you can start coming up with options. Here is what a five seat county council might look like:

Here is the Democratic vote in the 2010 U.S. Senate election (Murray-Rossi):

  • Olympia 70 percent
  • West Thurston 52 
  • North Lacey 54
  • South Lacey 54
  • Yelm/Tenino 49
So, the geographically small urban district is still largely Democratic, but every single other district is balanced. If Republicans did everything right, you could easily see a 4-1 advantage on a county council.

Here is what a seven district option looks like:

Again, the Democratic percentage in 2010:

  • Northwest Thurston 65
  • Olympia 68
  • West Lacey 58
  • North Lacey 52
  • South Lacey 50
  • Yelm Tenino 48
  • Rochester 46
So, in this option, you have three strong Democratic districts and then four which are balanced, with an equal number of those leaning Democratic or Republican. So, in a "Republicans do everything right" scenario, you could have a 4-3 advantage on a county council. On the other hand, in a Democrats do everything right, you have a 6-1 or 7-0 advantage.

I made a couple of assumptions that could be played with with these maps:
  • I will admit to trying to game the map by a little by keeping Olympia as whole as possible, thereby not spreading Democratic influence across the northern districts. But, I was just trying to illustrate how home rule would spread influence. You can download the .drf files I linked to under the maps to change my assumptions.
  • I also assume that the way county leaders are elected would change from a in-district vote in the primary and a county-wide vote in the general to in-district all the way
Either way, both scenarios show how creating more representation on the county level (more than our three current commissioners), you dilute the Democratic influence across the county. If STOP Thurston (arguably the most vibrant county level conservative movement in a decade) worked on governance issues, they could change the rules to make it more likely they could change the rules.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Immunization exemption rates in Thurston County and the Olympia School District (or 41 percent of kindergartners in Ferry County don't have shots)

This foul-mouthed post on Washington leading the nation in people who don't get their children immunized made me wonder about the more local data. How many people send their kids to school without the right shots, thereby making it more likely that not only will their kids get sick, but the entire school will be less healthy.

Turns out, Thurston County has one of the highest rates of immunization exemptions in the state. Or, the highest number of parents and guardians consciously sending their kids to school without shots.

Here is a map by county, and by school district and a spreadsheet with all the data. Not only is Thurston County a leader, but Olympia School District is in the worst category as well, rating over 10 percent exemptions of the kids entering kindergarden.

By no means is Thurston County on the fringe here, there are some much worse offenders. Like Ferry County, where 41 percent of kids entering kindergarden have signed exemptions in the 09-10 school year. And, that was after the rate increased from 8.9 percent in 2004 to over 50 percent in 2008.

Also, Klickitat County's rate went from 5.5 percent in 2008 to 21.6 percent in 2009. As the post at the start points out "(t)he national target is 95 percent" immunized.

Here's a run down on the current situation of how a parent can enroll and child in public school without a full set of immunizations from a legislative staff report:
...a parent or guardian may exempt a child for one of several reasons including if a physician advises against a specific vaccine for a child, parents certify that the vaccine conflicts with their religious beliefs, or parents certify that they have philosophical or personal objections to the child's immunization.
The staff report is on ESB 5005, which made the following changes to the requirment to be excempt from immunization:
...a parent or guardian must present, to exempt a child from school immunization requirements. The form used to certify the exemption for either medical, religious, or personal objections must include a statement, signed by a health care practitioner, that the parent or guardian has been informed of the benefits and risks of the immunization to the child. Health care practitioners may sign forms at any time before the enrollment of the child in a school or licensed day care.

The old wetlands below the brewery (Unpacking the Olympia Brewery Visioning, Part 2)

This image, from the Washington State Historical Society, shows an obvious wetland in the lower right hand corner.

From the current layout of the brewery, this is where most of the warehouses constructed in the post World War II era of the plant are located. These are obviously the most recent additions, and geographically, the most expansive.

View Larger Map

So, what I've been wondering is, since we know what was there pretty recently, what do we do with the area? Is it a good place to restore? Do we focus our commercial restoration on the old brewhouse and pre-World War II structures on the bluff on the northwest side of Capitol Way? Or, since this is a large flat area that's already been developed, do we right it off?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Why Olympia will never have a minor league baseball team as you know it (unpacking Olympia Brewery Visioning, Part 1)

Tonight was pretty fun on twitter, with the Olympia Brewery visioning event going on. The folks from attended and got us all going on the #olympiabrewery hashtag.

The first take away for the night for me was running down the rule I knew existed (but didn't have bookmarked) between major and minor league baseball on how teams on the various levels are located. This is the rule that I repeat to folks like Rob Richards when they go on about building a waterfront minor league baseball stadium.

Short of it is, as long as Tacoma has a minor league baseball team, we won't.

Please consult your most recent version of the Professional Baseball Agreement. While this document is also the heart of darkness that is Organized Baseball and the great horrible monopoly that it is, it also includes Rule 52 "Major and Minor League Territorial Rights."

Please flip to page 151 of the pdf file (or page 130 of the paginated document). Rule 52 states that every club is given a territory of their own, in which certain rules apply to teams that want to operate inside those territories.

Basically, the rules are:
  • A major league team can enter a minor league's team territory for a price. 
  • A minor league team can be inside a major league team's territory with consent or by being grandfathered in (and paid off, see Rule #1). 
  • But, a minor league team holds a veto for any other minor league franchise wanting to locate inside their territory.
And the Rule 52 Attachment lists Tacoma's home territory as Pierce County. And, when you add on the Rule 52 15 mile buffer, you cannot locate an affiliated minor league franchise within Lacey, Olympia or Tumwater. You could get a team along I-5 just south of 93rd, but that would be way out of town. You certainly aren't building a minor league baseball stadium anywhere on the old brewery property and expecting an affiliated minor league team to play there.

That said, there is an exception to this rule. Just ignore the rule. There are many independent leagues that play professionally. Sadly, none of these operate in the Pacific Northwest.

Then again, we do have a league of our own in town. They play semi-pro collegiate ball, but they do play with wood bats. And, they're the best you're going to get for awhile if you want to watch baseball down here inside Tacoma's home territory.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Capitol City Bombers and Thurston County Senators (my baseball summer)

In addition to one Mariners game with the family, my baseball summer will be solely around two teams: the Capital City Bombers and Thurston County Senators. As mentioned before, the Senators are the all-star traveling team portion of the local Puget Sound Collegiate League.

The Capital City Bombers are the local representatives in the Roy Hobbs system and, most importantly, they play a few minutes from my house at Olympia High School.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Holy cats, in my previous blog life, I was a jerk

I'm manually scrapping the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine this morning for old posts from my previous local blog "Oly News Boy" (killed off sometime in 2004). And, man alive, I was a jerk. I know I probably thought the way I wrote back then, but damn Emmett, calm down, would you?

Here's an example:
See? SEE? I told you that Matt Heins was a freaking stupid candidate.

I knew something like this was going to happen, the law would eventually bite him in the butt, and for God sakes, he deserves it. Wasting our time like this, making the Position 3 race go into a primary like that, wasting the "tens of thousands of dollars" that he says that he's not going to raise, so I guess the freaking laws just don't apply to him.

"I know it was a form, but I didn't know it was a legal requirement." Nuff said.
My memory is fuzzy now, but I suppose Matt Heins ran for city council. Boy, and I suppose I was mad at him for not filing forms correctly.

Anyway, "Nuff said" Emmett? Who are you, Stan Lee?

Here's what I've saved so far. The plan is to repost them on the archive of this blog, so you'll get everything in one place. Stupid mid-20's Emmett and all.

One lesson learned, I have learned not to delete blogs without saving them. God bless the good folks at the internet archive, but I cannot for the life of me remember why I deleted Oly News Boy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Japanese team not joining the Puget Sound Collegiate League

One of the most exciting things about the upcoming Puget Sound Collegiate League season this summer was the inclusion of a Japanese college baseball team. Unfortunately, a virus is making its way through the school and city, so the team is cancelling its plans.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Olympia Reign (Local summer semi-pro sports Part 3)

3. Last (but only in my eyes) is the Olympia Reign of the International Basketball League. I'm glad this team is still around, but I'm sorry to admit that semi-pro basketball is in third place for me behind soccer and baseball. I might go see them this year, but that's still a might. They're out at Evergreen State College this year, which isn't a bad home court, just a bit of a hike. It might seem small-time, but it might be worth them trying out a high school court. I imagine St. Martin's field house is a bit steep in price.

I'd just also like to note the other reasons I'm lame for not trying to support the Reign more. First, they're name is great.

Also, I've complained in the past that there really is no minor or independent league basketball in the country, but that there should be. And, independent basketball should play along side college and the NBA on the calendar, not try to carve out a summer league like the IBL. So, if you love basketball and hate (like me) that the NBA took the Sonics out of Seattle, then spend money on teams like the Reign. Because only because of support by fans like us will the NBA ever reform.

That's true of all sports leagues, by the way. If you don't like the major league option in your area, for whatever reason, support your local independent franchise.

Olympia Reign are on the web and on Facebook.

Thurston County Premier FC (Local summer semi-pro sports Part 2)

2. Second most exciting is the emergence of a Super 20 soccer team.  First under the moniker of Capital City FC Inc. and now Thurston County Premier FC, this team will play a two month season in the United Soccer League's Super 20 Northwest Division. If  you find that last sentence sort of arduous, there is a reason for that. While its a great that there is a local team in the deep and broad USL setup, its not at a level that most community's around us are already at. Bremerton, Tacoma, Everett already play a step above in the Premier Development League level of the USL, which draws collegiate and actual professional players.

Also, TCPFC seems to be one side of a division between two different organizations with the same plan, to bring high level (possibly PDL) semi-pro soccer to Thurston County. Over the winter, TCPFC seemingly broke off from Capital City FC Inc. (and on Facebook taking its arrangement with the USL to field a Super 20 team. Whatever strife is between the two groups, it likely isn't helping.

Thurston County Premier FC is on the web and on Facebook.

Puget Sound Collegiate League (Local summer semi-pro sports Part 1)

All three local semi-pro sport outlets are either underway already or have their schedules up.

1. Most exciting is the local collegiate wood bat baseball league, Puget Sound Collegiate League. Think of the mythic Cape Cod League or the more local West Coast Collegiate, but just in Thurston County. Most of the games on the schedule will be played at the RAC in Lacey and the rosters are made up of college players on summer break.

The largest differences I've seen from last summer are the inclusion of a Japanese college baseball team (Riseisha College) and a full schedule for the league's all-star team (Thurston County Senators). The league is made up of a half dozen teams that play a full season against each other (mostly at the RAC), and also fields a couple of all star teams (Senators and Junior Senators).

You can find the Puget Sound Collegiate League on the web, and Facebook and Twitter.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Tono's landscape

This is an attempt to show how the landscape of the old Tono site has changed in the decades since it was an actual town.

Here is a good a picture as any to show the general flat nature of the town in the early part of the last century (from UW Digital Archives):

Here is a aerial photo of the town in 1940 overlaid in Google Earth with today's topography, at a low angle, so you can see the warped layout of the town.

And, this is nearly the same perspective with the overlay at around 70 percent so you can see the current sediment ponds where roads had been.

This is the amazing part of Tono for me, not that its a ghost town, but that only a small pocket (on the southwest corner of town) was untouched after the it was abandoned and then the site was strip mined.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Tono, in 1920 population perspective

From the Fourteenth census of the United States, Volume 1, a look at Thurston County and how Tono compared at its most bustling:

Olympia 8,537
Tenino 1,420
Yelm 1,224
Tumwater 1,197
Rochester 942
Rainier 776
Tono 625
Bucoda 517

Certainly less than what I assumed when I set out to make the list, Wikipedia had Tono listed over 1,000 in 1920, I was hoping for a top three finish.

Tono, Washington

If anyone is wondering, USGS Earth Explorer sometimes publishes upside down historic aerial photos, thereby making it easy for people to mistake one town for another. On the original version of this post I used an upside down version of Bucoda, Tono's neighbor to the northwest. 

Below is the real Tono, circa 1941, well past its prime. But, you can still see where the town certainly was.

Source: USGS Earth Exporer

Halfway through a random Sunday drive through southern Thurston County, I thought it might be interesting to see if we could get all the way up to the old Tono townsite. I'd read about Tono before, and after looking at where the old town was on a map, I thought there was no way the current landowners (Transalta) left the Tono Road open so anyone could drive up.

The road is no only still open, but paved with plenty of places to pull out and take a look. Transalata would probably prefer you not hike out too far, but let's just say its possible.

We made it all the way to the old town site. From the road you can see at least one old building, but other than that, there is no real evidence that anything at all existed here.

View Larger Map

This is most likely because of the extensive strip mining in the area since the town went into decline in the early 1930s. Tono was a coal town, and specifically, a coal for trains town. When the switch was made to diesel, towns like Tono had no real reason to exist.

The most interesting thing was locating an aerial photo of Tono (above). That shot is from June 1941, a probably catches Tono on its very last steps out. More than 20 years past its peak, there is very little on that photo that still exists today and much of what is the north part of town, is no under water  in two sediment ponds.

Tono from Asahel Curtis Photo Company Photographs from UW Special Collections (more photos):