Friday, December 04, 2015

You can only save KPLU by letting KPLU go (Dr. Lonnie L. Howard is your man)

When I read the PLU president's short blog post about why, despite public outcry, they're going to go ahead and sell KPLU to KUOW, all confusion and anger left me. True, this certainly means the loss of an entire newsroom covering my home region.

That itself is a shame. A massive shame. And, it would have been better for PLU to have given their listening public the chance to step up (like in Crosscut's Colorado example).

But, I hear ya President Krise: PLU doesn't want to be in the radio business and there is no one that is going to make you be in the radio business. And, the deal is done with KUOW, there isn't anything anyone can do about that now.

The best time to jumpstart a new public radio community non-profit to save the KPLU newsroom would have been months ago.

The second best time is today. And, we don't need President Krise.

We do need President Howard though.

President Lonnie L. Howard runs the Clover Park Technical College. And, after the University of Washington and Pacific Lutheran University, Clover Park owns (but does not actually run) the third NPR news signal that covers much of Puget Sound.

Sure, the KVTI signal is smaller compared to KPLU and KUOW.





And, these maps don't even include the small army of repeater stations that KUOW and KPLU deploy to cover the rest of the state.

But, that being what it is, the biggest issue is rallying the forces that are trying to save KPLU (or at least their newsroom) to focus on a newish creation.

By focussing on KVTI, these folks would have a much softer target, because Clover Park is a public school. PLU can do what it wants as long as their board is united. If they don't want to be in the radio business, they don't have a larger public to account to.

But, if the public wants KVTI to be something different, to end their agreement with Washington State University (which currently provides programming to KVTI under and outsourcing agreement).

But, then again, President Krise at PLU is correct. The market for over the air public radio content is shrinking. While the public need for an independent newsroom is great, the financial support for one might not be.

So, there might be another, in between, route that isn't quite building a brand new public radio newsroom operation out of KVTI's broadcast signal. And, therefore, breaking the agreement with WSU.

What we're really talking about is the loss of locally produced, good and newsy (NPRish) audio content, whether is be over the airwaves or over the internet (streaming or podcasted).

Earlier this week, we saw the joining forces of KBTC and Crosscut. This is an example of a slow growing (but still growing by all accounts) web based news service and a traditional broadcaster.

It might be possible to string together a series of local web broadcasts and podcasts (similar to Panoply, Radiotopia or Maximum Fun) and partner with WSU to sideload them onto the air.

All things being equal, I think this second idea is better. It starts small, but it tries to in the end recreate what the KPLU newsroom had provided to the region in a more sustainable way. Being on the air is important, but it isn't the only game.

Also, the battle with PLU over KPLU is all but lost. It is time to move on and find another solution. We are really losing more newsrooms and reporters in Puget Sound than we should. But, our efforts should be put into creating the new thing that trying to save the last thing.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

In 1891 when someone stood up against Thankgiving

C.B. Reynolds of the Washington Secular Union in 1891:
We no objection to pumpkin pie, but we do protest against its being seasoned with theology.
That is about the best quote ever.

And, the quote really puts a light on how far back our churched vs. unchurched tradition goes back up here. Although I doubt the WSU had a long tradition (hard to find any evidence of them beyond the early 1890s), it was already being pointed out that our region is pretty ungodly 25 years later:
The great problem, to my mind, in the Pacific Northwest is lack of religious life. Many causes contribute to this. The newness of the country, its people coming here from all parts of the world, strangers to each other, without the family and home connections; the population is cosmopolitan, with nearly every nationality represented, with a large proportion of Southern Europeans and Orientals, who have no religious life nor Sunday observance.
It didn't matter in the end what Reynold's and the WSU wanted, Gov. Ferry did his part and issued a proclamation and honored the almighty anyway. I mean, who else are you going to be thanking?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Not really the best of the last four months (Olyblogosphere for Friday, November 20, 2015)

First Olyblogosphere since "the break?" You think I'd go back and find all the best blog posts from the last few months. Nope. Not really.

But enjoy!

1. Olysketcher is so good. I mean, good good good.

2. Olympia, WA may well be a dead blog. Which totally sucks. That blog was pretty damn good.

3. But, on the bright side of things, Olympia Pop Rocks (not technically a blog) is still going strong. Go Jemmy! Go Guire! Especially this episode, which is probably the most non-representative. So much to unpack!

4. Ken reminds us back in the day when Republicans made a big effort to welcome refugees in Washington State.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Notes on the impact of alcohol, prohibition and Thurston County

I was supposed to give a short talk in front of a History Happy Hour earlier this year. At the very last moment I had to beg off, but I really appreciate Len Balli and the folks at the Washington State Historical Society thinking of me. Just to be invited was pretty cool. You guys do good work.

Seriously, just an aside: organizations like the Washington State Historical Society (and libraries, local historical societies, history magazines and museums) are so vital. So vital. If you aren't doing much to take advantage of what they have to give and provide them with love and support, I wish you would.

So, without further discussion, here is what I was going to talk about:

At two o’clock on a Thursday morning in early April 1913 in Bucoda Murvil Lancaster was home, alone, with her baby when Charles James came crashing into the house. She was probably asleep, finding a few hours of rest between keeping her baby happy and running the household.

Or, maybe she was already awake, walking her child, feeding her child.

But, James smashed the early morning peace, smashing furniture and other (as the newspapers said) household goods.

Charles James was looking for his wife.

Mrs. James had already abandoned the family home in south Thurston County, and Charles had come looking for her. He was obviously already well down the road of intoxication, well lubricated as we might say, with enough drunken enthusiasm to invade a neighbor's house.

Similar to the Thursday morning when he smashed up the Lancaster House, Charles had already beaten his wife. He'd taken his fists to her at their own house to the point that she “quit the household” with the help of neighbors

The common thread here was that Charles James drank too much. And, when he drank too much, be became violent.

What Mr. James did was not considered a discrete family affair. Domestic violence, fueled by alcohol (like today) was an important public conversation.

But, in a lot of ways, to a lot of people, it was THE public policy discussion of the day. Charles James might be violent. But, should the government allow the sale of the fuel for Charles James violence?

Let's pull the focus out of Bucoda
Washington has always had alcohol. The Union Brewery was established well before statehood and was the origin-point of Northwest Hops in sat right in the heart of downtown Olympia.

But, almost as soon, we have had the battle between wet and dry politicians. It was one aspect of the urban/rural split. Urban areas were wet, rural areas (in general) dry.

In the early 1890s a dry meeting in Olympia became so crowded so fast that the intended segregation of men and women could not be accomplished. The energetic talks of national prohibitionist speakers was slightly marred by men and women sitting together in the crowd. The organizers promised that future events would be better organized and men and women would be separated.

By the time Charles James began beating his wife and tearing apart neighbors’ homes, the forces of dry had already begun turning the tide in Washington.

A local dry option law was passed, and Thurston County had opted to go dry. This left many unincorporated places like Bucoda effectively out of the bar business, despite having a few bars themselves. The Bucoda bar owners only option was incorporation, which (after a few starts and stops) happened in 1911. It was illegal for Charles James to find his fuel in Thurston County, but the city fathers of Bucoda provided.

In 1914, the prohibition and sale of alcohol was banned in Washington. Not the consumption though. In 1918, Washington went “Bone Dry,” which ended any loopholes left open in 1914.

And, in 1919, Prohibition started nationwide.

But, you could still find a drink in Olympia if you knew where and who
Liquor is mostly water, so it found a way.

What is now a fairly anonymous corner of Olympia, 8th and Chestnut, between Plum and the library,  the back end of a handful of state office buildings, was known during prohibition as a “notorious liquor drive.”

And, of course, Olympia was the state capitol. And, the Hotel Olympian was were all the action was, across the street from the then state capitol. Built in 1918 for the expressed purpose of providing housing for state legislators while they were in town.

Rep. Maude Sweetman was the only woman in the legislature by the late 1920s, and lived in the Hotel Olympian. She provides a clear contrast of what remained of the dry coalition in those later prohibition years and the actual state of things in the hotel Olympian and otherwise.

Liquor laws were not, and in fact, could not be strongly enforced:
Anyone who lives at the Olympian Hotel through a legislative session must more than once be filled with anger and disgust and the nightly revelry a, the noises from which vibrate the hotel court...

...their drunken voices gave to the early morning air the confusion of their tongues, night after night through a whole session.
Let's wind this up
By 1932, Washington was again ahead of the game when an initiative passed by 60 percent, repealing most of the dry laws.

In 1933, the United States matched pace with the repeal of the 18th Amendment.

And, in early 1934, former Olympia Mayor and state Senator E.N. Steele led the cause to write the rules that got Washington wet again. The Steele Act (which stayed intact until very recently) was defended from over 150 amendments on the floor of the Senate. In one of those rare moments when Olympia really did lead the state, George F. Yantis (another Olympia legislator) guided the Steele Act through the house as the speaker.

You can find a lot of explanations about why prohibition ended. It had become, in over a decade, too hard to prevent people from drinking. It was a joke, an openly mocked public policy against what people were going to do anyway. People with money found liquor and it was unfair for the rest of us not to enjoy.

And today, especially in Washington as we liberalize our other substance control laws, it seems quaint that we once outlawed something as innocent as a bottle of wine

Zoom back into Bucoda
Charles James in fact did not spend much time in jail. Found guilty in May, he was sentenced to three months in the county jail. 

But only after a few weeks, Mrs. James reached out to the governor. In front of the governor himself, the prisoner of Thurston County (Charles James was literally the only prisoner in the jail at that moment) promised he wouldn’t drink anymore. He admitted alcohol got him into trouble and that he would become dry himself.

And, the governor let him go.

Just one more note: I really liked the idea of reading this outloud, so I may at some point, turn it into a podcast sort of thing.

Friday, November 13, 2015

If you can walk to your park in Olympia, you like it. Drive? Hate it

Because OlyJeff asked in the comment thread, I did a similar precinct map on the park vote in Olympia.

I did it measuring where the vote did the worst. So, in the map, the darker the marker, the more no votes there were. The highest no vote was just over 50 percent, so really, almost everywhere in Olympia wanted their parks to get more money.

But, it is still fun to make maps.

This seems like I'd pretty much expect it.

Generally, the closer you are to Budd Inlet, the more you want parks. Or, rather, the more you want to raise taxes for parks. This follows the typical pattern for voting in Olympia. Progressive (because you can't just say liberal in Olympia to mean people further left) voters are thought to be in the older neighborhoods around downtown and the nearby Eastside and Westside.

When Olympia Pop Rocks asks "Westside or Eastside" they don't mean down off Boulevard Road or out past Kaiser.

There's another thing about those neighborhoods that I think might be more telling than just the way people vote on a progressive to liberal (to maybe conservative) scale. The inner neighborhoods are also generally walkable. They're older, and since people can get out and use the parks near them without getting in a car, maybe they have a more everyday experience with them.

I'm just spitballing here. But, maybe a more personal "that's my park right down there" experience means you're more likely to vote for parks in general.

But, this measure passed nearly everywhere, so it's almost meaningless to quibble.

Lastly, you see three precincts in the far South Eastside that have lighter reds than the ones immediately around them. These are standouts on that side of town in support of the park levy.

This I would say is NIMBYism at work. These are the precincts that are nearest LBA park, which has been the center of the most vocal pro-park, anti-house/neighborhood development debates in recent years.

The passage of the park levy made it more likely LBA would expand, so they voted yes.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Did E.J. Zita repeat Sue Gunn? No, she did not

Go right to the map.

A couple of years ago, I drew a map showing how former port commissioner Sue Gunn did an amazing job connecting anti-establishment voters in the rural and urban neighborhoods.

She had the ability to run as a non-partisan, showing then how you could connect the bottom ends of the so-called (by me) Cascadian Political Spectrum. Typically, partisan elections in Thurston County roll out with the more liberal (Democratic) candidate winning the north county, with the more conservative candidate (typically Republican) winning in the south.

The likely victor is decided by how many voters in the connecting suburban districts turn their heads toward them.

Sue Gunn flipped this equation by winning both the urban area and the rural south, with the connecting suburbs going to her opponent, Jeff Davis.

Unfortunately, Sue had to retire because of health concerns. She'll likely be replaced by E.J. Zita, an Evergreen State College professor and south county resident. At least on the surface, it seemed likely that Zita might be able to repeat Sue's run.

But, when you look at the map of the (very very close) results, Zita will have won by the more traditional liberal's route in Olympia, through urban Thurston County.

Zita did win a handful of precincts in the south county, and Jerry Farmer (her opponent) seemingly owned the suburban neighborhoods. But, Zita's high margins in Olympia seemingly put her over the top.

It is worth noting that liberals (Democrats) usually win in Thurston County, so it isn't that exciting to note that the liberal won again. The notable thing in 2013 was that Gunn (a former Democratic Progressive Independent candidate for congress) beat a fellow Democrat (Davis) by being more liberal. Or, she was at least more anti-establishment.

Monday, July 06, 2015

July 6, 1889: the last Independence Day as a territory and Olympia is on show

As the last July with Washington at just a territory (statehood would come in November), the people of Olympia greeted the soon to be state's constitution writers.

Let it be shown that the people of Olympia are on a par in social amenities with he acknowledged beauty of their city. 
…The tide has come to Olympia and if now taken at its flood will surely lead on to fortune if not to tame. 
In their daily contact with the members of this constitutional convention, the people of this city will be living epistles, “known and read of all men.” The conclusion, then, of the whole matter appears to be that Olympia has a rare opportunity of establishing and confirming its own fair name in the hearts and minds of the territory’s representative citizens.
This is an early and interesting notation as Olympia's supplication to the rest of the state with its role as state capital.  I feel like we still feel this way from time to time, trying to justify our existence to the rest of the state, as if Yakima or Tacoma could rank the capital from us at any point. This is probably how we get wrapped around the axle on the Deschutes Estuary.

I'd hope by now that we just accept that Olympia is good, from a dozen or so angles. Yes, we benefit from state jobs. But, we're also a good town because of Evergreen (which probably wouldn't be here without the state government).

Eh, forget it. I'm an epistle too I suppose.

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Olyblog10: What's on the city council this week (not not this week) and my first blush of Olyblog

I can tell you how exactly I came across Olyblog, and I also can tell you I at least marked it with a post at this very blog. I apparently came across Olyblog on the old tescrier (Evergreen State College) email list that at one point had been public.

And, here is my very first post over at Olyblog, which for some reason disappeared from the Olyblog itself. It was about a dumb topic, so I'm not sure I miss it being there.

Perusing my early posts, I seemed to focus a lot on civic affairs, politics, community wireless, that kind of thing. Mostly the same stuff I write about here. But, I did talk more specifically about certain candidates and people, something I try to stay away from nowadays.

But, eventually (about after six months of Olyblog) I started doing a weekly "What's on the council" rundown. This was a pretty fun exercise. I got into the habit of waiting for the city webmaster to upload the council's packet for the week, and quickly read through it. This reminded me a lot of what being a reporter was like.

It wasn't enough for me to just beat the Olympian reporter doing the same thing, but I usually tried to find some nuance or angle I assumed the Olympian wouldn't cover.

Like anything at Olyblog, I eventually quit writing the updates. Thad Curtz kept up on it for awhile, but seems to have lost energy for it as well.

Which is sad. But, that didn't make me as sad as the idea never really spreading. I hoped that people would pick up other local governments (port, Tumwater, county) and do similar rundowns. But, that never picked up.

It didn't take much skill, just poking through the staff reports and summarizing what was going on.

I can understand why people never did though, it was also pretty tedious doing it week after week. I even now serve on the regional library board and I've tried to keep up with doing just monthly updates. I quit that eventually too.

Ah, well. Blogging is hard, amiright?

Monday, June 29, 2015

How much cross over was there between the OK Boys Ranch and the Paul Ingram's case?

I'm not going to go back and explain the Paul Ingram case. Or, the OK Boys Camp scandal/tragedy.

But, suffice to say that both of those events were insane shocks to the core of the Thurston County power structure about 25 years ago. I'd highly suggest reading the links above, just to get an idea of what I'm talking about.

What I really didn't realize until right now, but that these two seemingly independent events (though similar in content) overlapped a lot.

At the center of this overlap is Ingram himself. Just a note: this is the point that I'm going to start writing as if the reader knows a few details about both Ingram and OK Boys Camp.

As Ingram's life began dissolving toward his eventual guilty plea, the subsequent retraction of that plea, his prosecution and conviction, he also had a front seat to what was going on a the OK Boys Camp. Ingram was a member of the Kiwanis (not a big surprise as a deputy sheriff and former county Republican chair). But, well into 1989, he was on the board of the OK Boys Camp.

Ingram's daughter made her first accusation in August of 1988, he was arrested in late November, and the investigation was in full swing the next spring when Ingram was finally removed from the board in March.

It is odd enough for Olympia to have one odd abuse case, it is another for it to have two. And, also two that in hindsight land fairly well on opposite ends of the the varsity scale. The Thurston County criminal justice system went hard at Ingram and the fantastical tales levelled against him, to the point of digging up his entire back yard looking for the remains of babies. But it took a few more years to catch up with the actual abuse happening at the OK Boys Ranch.

And, the question that keeps rolling around in my brain: how much was known (but not approached) by folks about the horrible conditions at the ranch. And, how much of that community knowledge morphed into the fantastical accusations against Ingram by his daughters? Had they heard about the crimes at the ranch? Had they been to the ranch and heard them first hand from residents?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Downtown is a donut hole filled with subsidized housing (according to the maps). How'd we get to this point?

Here's my donut hole of Olympia population post from a little while back. I observed:
Density is good. People living downtown is good. More people living in a dense neighborhood means fewer cars, more people walking and more services and good things downtown.
There might not be a lot of people living downtown compared to other parts of the city, but take a look at this map that Brian Hovis put together this week:

Hovis writes:
The highest concentration were in downtown Olympia and west Olympia. There are two different reasons. In downtown Olympia there are lots of sites in close proximity. In west Olympia the sites are fewer, but there are more units.

The density in west Olympia may increase soon. A new subsidized housing site is being planned near Yauger Park. The Copper Trails Apartments will add 260 more units to west Olympia, according to data from The Department of Commerce. Also recently reported in The Olympian there are proposals for new subsidized housing for the Drexel House and conversion of the Holly Motel.

Also in flux is whether or not the Boardwalk apartments will continue to be subsidized housing for seniors. The Boardwalk apartments are a big part of the density of subsidized housing downtown. The outcome of that question may change the density of subsidized housing in Olympia.
Brian is pointing out something here that we have pretty much accepted around here as true, but seeing it in maps is really pretty cool.

I'm wondering about the history of this phenomena. If there's anything to understand about the apparent emptying out of downtown as a residential neighborhood. And, if the replacement of what we call market rate housing now with subsidized housing has any particular historical narrative.

Downtown Olympia obviously went through a transition in the late 70s and early 80s. I'm wondering if the mix of housing also shifted during those years and what forces were at hand.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Just four lonely links. No others availed themselves easily this week. And, did not go hunting for more. (Olyblogosphere for June 22, 2015)

1. Rebels by bus is a great blog and a great idea. Now they're having a free summer event!

2. Now, here is a local blog, but a very convoluted post in order to get a gift card?

3. Salish Poet writes about Father's Day. That was yesterday, by the way.

4. Calavara at the Washington Center. He's an artist. Take a look.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Remember Olyblog 2: Proto Olyblog

As my memory serves, and I have no reason to doubt my memory, but our Blog Father Rick brought us Olyblog because he was inspired by this particular episode about Hyperlocal Journalism from Radio Open Source.

The original version of RoS, by the way, was probably one of the most awesome media things I've ever come across. I wasn't a Christopher Lydon fanboy previously, so I'm not a huge fan of the current iteration (it isn't even on my podcast list). But, how RoS flowed in those days (literally a blog with a radio show) was awesome.

Anyway, as I remember, this show inspired Rick to set up Olyblog just a few weeks after it aired.

Its interesting to look at the examples cited in that episode to see how they're doing.

One site, H2Otown is gone. Its founder, Lisa Williams, is still very much involved in journalism, working at the Institute for Nonprofit News. But, H2Otown disapeared while ago. Here's an article on its hiatus in 2008 (which predated its actual death later).

One interesting comment from the hiatus post was this one:
Steve Owens wrote, “What’s amazing to me is that you go away for a year and nothing sprouts up in your place! Goes to show how [irreplaceable] this site is.”
Maybe something should have sprouted up after the founder left. Maybe it wasn't the site that was irreplaceable, but really she was irreplaceable. Maybe that's a lesson for us.

Anyway, the other site featured, Baristanet in New Jersey is still very much alive. And, I mean, really alive. At some point, the blog became an LLC and populated with a series of writers. In this sense, it became like our very familiar hyperlocal examples like West Seattle blog or Capitol Hill.

I suppose the lessons here are that Olyblog needed to move to something more official. Either a non-profit of some sort of business. Depending on the one main guy (Rick) and the rest of us unofficial guys led to the decline over there. 

But, that's for another post.

Monday, June 15, 2015

An Olympia for all who want to vote. And, where they don't vote

From Ray Guerra via Facebook:

Olympia for All is a great idea. A non-partisan slate of candidates pushing progressive ideas will at least make this year's city campaigns interesting. At best, we'll be able to push the city council to be much more engaged about deep civic issues than they've been willing to be in recent years.

But, the "for all" language got me thinking. Specifically, in the "if you don't vote,  you don't matter" sort of way. Because while we'd like to think all elections are the results of a uniformly involved citizenry, they are certainly not. And, this is especially true in low profile city-wide elections.

So, here are the neighborhoods that drop off when Olympia votes on its own leaders (darker blue, more voters):

Basically, the westside generally doesn't show up and the far east towards Lacey doesn't engage. The only part of Olympia that really matters is South Capitol, down across the highway and then north of Ward Lake.

Usually local campaigns try to focus on these sorts of neighborhoods (at least in my experience). And, within precincts, they try to focus their attention on activating voters that have already shown a likelihood of voting and voting the right way.

In this way, if Olympia for All is a typical campaign, it won't really be "for all" because it will need to lean on dependable voters. But, if they are more about Everyone, they'll head out to the light colored dots and try to boost turnout.

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Olyblog 10 year anniversary is coming up fast. And the graphical decline of the blog

This graph shows the posts by month created at Olyblog between August 2005 and June 2015.

Right now we're just about two months shy of the 10th anniversary of Rick McKinnon flipping the switch on Olyblog. This particular website for about four years was the hub of everything Olympia for me. It was also pretty important to a handful of very nice people that I don't think I would have met without Olyblog ever existing.

I want to spend some time blogging about that sweet old home of the Olyblogosphere. I sometimes stop by the old farmstead to see what's going on. But, I haven't posted there myself in quite some time. It feels like an old empty house. Or, and old school.

What I'd really like to do is get together with some of the folks from the high water mark of Olyblog and start to deconstruct the awesome experience that Olyblog represented. Anyone out there interested in that?

Olyblog was pretty interesting case study of a local online community. Rick really had a great idea when he launched Olyblog. Olympia wasn't that much different, but the internet sure was. And, if we'd done things differently maybe Olyblog would be healthier now, despite the changes. But, that's a post for a later week.

In the meantime, here are some links to wet your beak:

Here is the first post on Olyblog, of course it is about downtown.

Here are my posts about Olyblog here at Olympia Time. I spent a good chunk of my time writing at Olyblog, but I still found time to blog about Olyblog at Olympia Time.

Here is the old Olyblog docents email list. This list and the docent drama in early 2008 will play into what I'm going to write about later. But, I'll give you a chance to poke your head in first.

Monday, June 08, 2015

A Decade of Olyblog Probably Deserves Its Own Post, RIGHT?? (Olyblogosphere for June 8, 2015)

1. Elaine wrote a little while back about how Cascadian she'd become. Now, she's on about coming back home.

2. Matthew's post is well taken. But, I imagine these are only two portions of Olympia talking here.

3. Hey look, a Sarah sighting! It is sad that the Nazis brought her back on the Olyblog.

Holy Crap! Olyblog is Almost Ten Years Old!

4. Rhodies are my favorite! But, my head is still spinning after realizing Olyblog is almost ten years old. So, no more links. Enjoy your Rhodies.

Thursday, June 04, 2015

You know what guys? All the good ideas fell through for today. So, here's a story about a barber that I already wrote

This is one of my favorite all time stories I've written for Thurston Talk. Its politics and barbers.

Seriously, that was a thing once:

By the fall, Gov. Mead traveled to Spokane, hearing the wrath of Spokane barbers and their local backers. He promptly sent Collins a telegram asking him to resign. 
From the Daily Olympian on October 5, 1907: “The governor’s telegram so implied and Mr. Collins, nor his friends know of any reason why his services as a member of the board have not been satisfactory. Mr. Collins is reported to be cogitating the matter and nursing his wrath, but while some of his friends have advised him to refuse to resign, he will probably comply with the governor’s request.” 
Collins refused. From the Seattle Times, October 10, 1907: “The Olympian man sent back a message just as promptly and just as emphatically and declined absolutely to tender his resignation.” 
For over a month Spokane barbers and politicians pushed on Mead until November 17, 1907 when he finally pushed Collins off the board. From the Seattle Times, November 17, 1907: “The governor and Collins have been having a regular battledoor and shuttlecock game for several weeks past. 
When Gov. Mead returned to Olympia he took the matter up with Collins personally and urged him to file his resignation. Collins, acting on the advice of his friends and backers, particularly the labor unions of Olympia… still persisted in his refusal to resign. The governor assured him, he says, that the request made was not at all personal, but that political conditions made it necessary to give the three large cities of the state the membership of the board. The two men were entirely friendly in their numerous conferences.”
Read the entire thing here.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Riley, the first real public ass in Olympia

In honor of white supremacists being run out of downtown Olympia, I give you an excerpt from Oyster Light, my bookish collection of historical essays about Olympia. Here's the part about James Riley, who may be the biggest ass who ever lived in Olympia. Much more so than Joseph Bunting, who wasn't nice either. But, I'm far more ambivalent about Bunting than Riley. Every bad thing we say about Bunting should be said 100 times more about Riley.

Oyster Light is available here for free (or at a cost if that's your sort of thing) or for $11 in printed form here

Let’s go back to the Washington Territory and Jim Riley in the summer of 1861. As the rest of the country was lurching into the first summer of the Civil War, Riley was at a low point. Remember, Riley was the actor in the Too-a-pi-ti killing. He put the bullet in Too-a-pi-ti’s back and the pioneer community was learning really how savage Riley could be.

The white community, after years of Riley being “arraigned on charges of drunkenness, disorderly conduct, brutal assault, rape and petit and grand larceny” had had enough.

By August, with a warrant out and the sheriff looking for him, Riley “got everything in readiness for a trip to the mines, with no intention of never (sic) returning to the  scene of his many brutal exploits.” The mines were where men like him went to disappear. They were for Riley, and they apparently were for Joseph Bunting a decade later, the place at the edges of society where men like them could still live.

But, before Riley left, he wanted reciprocity. “(He) had determined to revenge himself upon as many as possible of those of our citizens who had in any manner been parties to his repeated arrests and trials.”

Before he was brought in by the sheriff, Riley got one man drunk and bashed his head in with a rock, who somehow survived. In another episode, Reily stabbed an Indian to death. His one last spree lasted as long as it took the sheriff to chase him out of his house and shoot him in his leg during the foot pursuit. The Steilacoom newspaper commented on the number of people disappointed in Sheriff Tucker for not just killing Riley.

Riley in 1861 is the direct result of our history five years before during the Puget Sound War. Removing Indians from downtown Olympia. The murder of Quiemuth and  Too-a-pi-ti. These acts when unpunished and the social acceptance gave violent psychopaths like Riley the rope that finally ran out for him in 1861.

A month after being brought in by the Sheriff, Riley gave the South Sound the slip for the last time. He apparently was healed from his gunshot wound, but still used his crutches as a ruse (ever the actor) to put his captures at ease. Then, at a point when his watchers were distracted, he took off into the woods, never to be seen again.

Like Bunting after him, Riley was supposed to end up heading to the mines somewhere. There are also records of a Jim Riley committing murder in King County a few years later, but Riley is pretty much off the historic record after 1861.

As he left, the Steilacoom newspaper noted (again) that most of the local community just wouldn't mind seeing Riley be killed. They would be “pledged and ready to hang him without ceremony...” because of “...the present absence of anything like law for men like Riley.”

But, not everyone wanted to see Riley hung. The paper ran an editorial over the summer, arguing against the “he only killed an Indian” defense of Riley. The newspaper’s response was not as emotional and full of righteous human rights indignation as you would hope. The writer’s main point was that  Indians shouldn’t be killed because their families might kill back. They didn’t want to spark a new Puget Sound War.

But still, by the time Riley disappeared, the paper estimated only 10 percent of the community would save him from hanging. That’s a smaller number still, but well higher than I would assume a serial killer would warrant today.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Imagine a different Olympia, without the capitol

When I think about my little kick about the metonymy of Olympia, I usually eventually think about how much of Olympia's identity is really tied up with state government. The legislature, the governor lives here and a lot of the people you know have some connection to state government.

But, what if it wasn't like that?

What if, before the current state capitol was built, some other city (let's say Tacoma for the sake of hating on Tacoma) was successful in swooping in and stealing the seat of government. How would have Olympia been different.

Here's my brainstorm:

1. The power of the Light and Power company. 

Instead of limiting themselves to diversion on the lower Deschutes, the Olympia-based power utility takes to the countryside and claims a project in the upper Nisqually. Driven by Hazard Stevens in the last years of his life, they shut out what would have been projects by both Tacoma and Centralia, Olympia Power and Light eventually becomes the sole hydropower purveyor on the Nisqually River.

2. Consolidation

Instead of Tumwater and Olympia staying separate (and Lacey growing out of Olympia's eastside), there is only Olympia. Tumwater soon sees the benefits of joining with Olympia, cooperation to save the greater Thurston County after Tacoma's treachery!

3. Smaller, yet still largest city in the deep South Sound

And, obviously, we don't grow as large. Maybe 40,000 people in the entire area around Budd Inlet. I don't know why I'm guessing this. Maybe even fewer.

4. Streetcars Stay

Now, this is a total fantasy, but the Olympia Light and Power Company keeps the streetcars, updating and improving the system while most urban transit utilities go to busses. So, currently, there is a long east to west line going from Cooper Point Road out to Phones Road. Another line up Puget Street and then down Eastside and looping around to Boulevard, back up to Pacific. And, a line going down Capitol Way, possibly over to Tumwater Hill. And, some odd arrangement on the Westside.

I don't know, total fantasy.

5. The old capitol campus area becomes one ritzy neighborhood

You think the South Capitol neighborhood is nice, check out what they do when they sell off the old campus that never was. Larger lots, bigger homes. Palatial.

6. I-5 never comes close to town. 

Instead of cutting through Tumwater and bumping into Olympia, the interstate highway cuts well south of town, turning east just south of the airport, following the railway route generally into Pierce County.

7. Just a few more smaller notes:

  • Olympia High School stays where it was on Capitol Way (I mean Main Street)
  • Capitol Lake is never built, because Wilder and White never showed up!
  • Evergreen still gets built. Just because. But, maybe its closer into town. Like where the Capital Mall is.
  • So, if the lake is never built, there is an actually impressive bridge across Budd Inlet.
  • The old state capitol becomes city hall.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Just some blog links. No theme here folks (Olyblogosphere for May 25, 2015)

1. The West Side pollinator pub crawl is a lot less exciting than it should be. But, if you're into that sort of thing, I mean, it seems like it would be okay.

2. Janine points out that sometimes people straight up buy time on local websites. And, as a reminder, I write (and get paid to write) for said website. They're nice people.

3. Is it really a local election without Prophet, right?

4. Elaine went back to the land of her birth and came away realizing how much of a Cascadian she has become.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Downtown Olympia in context

One of the things that strikes me about the dialogue about downtown is how the people with different perspectives about it seem to talk past each other. One side seems to discount anyone's fears about being downtown. The other side discounts the other's want of a vibrant, real and therefore not necessarily clean and refined downtown.

I think one of the reasons for this is how each frames downtown. What context they put the oldest part of Olympia into.

1. For people who fear downtown, their context is literally other places they could go to buy things. The newish commercial westside. Lacey. Commercial area of Tumwater or Hawks Prairie. These areas also have bookstores, movie theaters and restaurants. They're convenient because there is ample free parking and people know what they're getting.

Downtown on the other hand is inconvenient and vibrant to the point of unknowing. You can't know what to expect, so you choose a more convenient option. There are plenty of places to go that aren't downtown, so they just go there.

And, when it comes time to think about downtown at all, the easiest thing to go to are the reasons not to go there at all.

2. For people who love downtown, they also think about it in context of the extreme local options. But, they also think about it in terms of the regional. Seattle and Portland are two remarkably great cities. And, are a lot of which Olympia strives to be, but on a more local scale. Downtown Olympia (and its nearby west and east side institutions) define Olympia for folks who like downtown. Olympia is the quirky little artsy city because we have what we have downtown. This is true even though the combined acreage of downtown and nearby neighborhoods is a small fraction of the North Thurston urban area.

These people are literally seeing different places.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Olympia needs a lot of things in regards to history and knowing itself

If I was invited to the historic meeting of historians, I think I would've had something to say.

And, this is it: we do need a lot of things in terms of communicating and preserving our history here. And, a museum would do a lot of things. But, I'm not sure it's the biggest problem we have. Or, rather, the idea with the most potential.

There are at least two other things that I think should enter the discussion at the same level. 1) A new library in Olympia and 2) much more dedication and funds towards bringing public what historic resources are available.

Mostly my concern for a new library is sharpened by my experience on the Timberland Library board (which operates the current Olympia library as part of a five county system). Our library was out-dated as soon as it was built in the late 1970s. And, since then we've only had one serious try at replacing it.

I love the idea of museums, but there is no reason at all a museum (and archive for that matter) couldn't be part of a new, larger Olympia library.

That said, buildings are buildings and knowledge is knowledge. If I had $1 million to spend on Olympia history today, my first stop would be expanding electronic resources available to people who write about history.

Most notably, I'd spend whatever I'd have to of that $1 million to cracking open the Olympian archives (and whatever other newspapers have been digitized) for public use. Most publicly available newspaper archives drop dead after 1922 (after which copyrights can be enforced). But, it is possible for libraries to open up newspaper archives to their patrons.

The Seattle Public Library was able to do this with the Seattle Times archive a few years back. And, at least to me, that one resource has been invaluable. Applying what are usually hard to access newspaper to word searchable archives in incredibly useful. The bias of an individual newspaper notwithstanding, a daily ticktock of the activities of a community, searchable via computer? Now, that would open history to a community.

Then build me a new library. Then build me a museum (if you couldn't fold it into the library).

Thursday, May 14, 2015

A US Open Cup blowout and a dream of one big league around here

I was on hand for about 65 minutes of the 5-2 blowout of FC Tacoma 253 by the much better organized Kitsap Pumas. Enough about the US Open Cup being the real US Open.

What I want to talk about is the one big league.

I sat in the back of the stands at Mt. Tahoma High School. To the far right, at the other end of the stands, most of the Kitsap Pumas fans gathered. I was surrounded by a dozen or so folks obviously connected to the FC Tacoma organization. Then, way down the other end of my row sat a lonely fellow with yet a third team, standing out in his South Sound FC Shock track suit.

None of these three teams, though representing roughly the same level of American soccer, play in the same regional league. The Pumas play in the Premier Development League, where youngish and collegians play during the summer. And, both SSFC and Tacoma 253 play in different leagues that represent the high level end of things, the Evergreen Premier League and the National Premiere Soccer Leagues. The EPL(WA) has a more independent and homegrown flavor.

This is a lot of complexity in what should be a pretty simple thing. Back in the day, like in the 1960s and 70s, there was only one big high level amatuer/semipro soccer league in Western Washington.

Just like the formation of an independent indoor soccer league and the machinations of various soccer teams indoors, the existence of three outdoor leagues covering the same geography speaks to something. It points to internal league politics that were settled by simply breaking up into different leagues. Because we aren't forced to live in a unified league system here, we can create whatever leagues we want.

This obviously serves the politics of each owners, they can align themselves with whichever other owners they like or get along with. But, it doesn't serve the fans. Nineteen or so clubs across three leagues should be able to get together and hammer out some sort of unified league system.

Whether by promotion or relegation or splitting into north/south or east/west divisions, it would be very possible to create some sort of local April to August league around here.

I happen to prefer the home cooked flavor of the ELP(WA), mostly because I don't honestly know why we need national non US Soccer organizations running low-level leagues.

Maybe that's what needs to happen. Maybe these national groups, the NPSL and the PDL need to step away, or US Soccer needs to provide an alternative structure that leagues like the ELPWA could roll into. Something that allows for automatic births into the US Open Cup and the National Amatuer Cup.

But, something that brings these teams together and serves the interest of fans is much needed. Even though Kitsap thrashed Tacoma, there is simply not enough difference between the teams to justify totally different league systems between them.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Local Treasures (Olyblogosphere for May 11, 2015)

1. Man, you want to talk about local treasures? Your Daily Hour With Me is a local treasure.

2. David Raffin is pretty awesome. For a local treasure. I really like his books. But, I didn't notice recently he's been upping the post count on his blog. And, this is a recent one.

3. Common theme going on here. Local Treasures, David Scher Water is one as well. He's also raising money (and knowledge) for a new book.

4. Lastly. Olymega. Man, what a treasure. These folks are also coincidently raising money.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

When was the last gray wolf shot in Thurston County?

Wolves are on their way back in Western Washington.

At one point in our past, wolves roamed the place we now call home. Certainly Thurston County was on the edge of where these big dogs roamed, but obviously there were some that roamed down the Black Hills from the Olympics.

The last wolf pair was shot in the Olympics in 1938. That was the absolute end of wolfs in Washington until very recently.

But, as far as I can tell, wolfs came to an end in Thurston County maybe a few decades before. The last record I can find of a wolf being shot here was in 1909:

Joe Easterday came back home from a hunting trip that year, ranging from the Black Hills down to Oyster Bay. Among the dozens of animals he and his friends shot was a "timber wolf." He pointed out that he likely would have stayed out longer, but the number of animals he had bagged was just too many to lug around.

Plus, Joe's body had literally given out:

He says he would have been still in the woods if it was not for the fact that has shot so much that his arm is swollen and his fingers have increased to such a size that he can no longer pull the trigger. He visited a doctor to have his arm and hand attended to and while here will have his clothes padded so that his shoulder and side will not get black and blue in the future from the recoil of the weapon.
The expanding human footprint, plus "varmint hunts" and other likewise less than nice ways to say predator extermination programs, did the wolves in.

A notice for a varmint hunt in the 1911 Olympian listed the points given out by the Thurston County Association for the Protection and Propagation of Game and Game Fish. Two teams worked from May 1911 to February of the next year. The top hunter of either group would get $20, with lesser prizes for second and third. The losing team would throw a party for the winning side.

If you shot a cougar, your team would get 1,000 points. A wolf, 750 and likewise for a coyote. A fisher would get 500 points. And, last on the list of a dozen animals and their corresponding points, was the blue jay. That would get you 75 points for your team.

From the Morning Olympian, October 1909:

Just in case you're wondering, I'm very pro-hunting. Very pro-killing animals for food. And, sport for that matter. Food is a higher moral calling though.

That said, I'm also pro-eating chocolate cake. But, no one should eat so much cake, or hunt so many animals, they literally have to go see a doctor about it.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Quick survey of a possible book: Cascadia Rising, how the far corner of the United States is actually taking over America (in response to Dixie Rising)

I should probably buckle down and read Dixie Rising, which seems to be a pretty interesting book. If only because it struck me as a political artifact of the pre-9/11 political writing in America. That stuff that wanted to drag the new Republicanism against the New Leftism, Clinton vs. Gingrich, that kind of stuff that crescendoed with Bush v. Gore, but seems so out of place today.

Anyway, the book (from what I can tell from skimming it a half dozen times) picks apart Southernism and looks at how it was infecting the U.S. back in the mid-90s. To get what I'm getting at, this survey of the book seems like a decent enough look.

Of course, in Dixie Rising, the author uses locations to illustrate his larger regional and national points, so I'll try to do the same thing here.

1. South Lake Union and the Big Sort

This is the cutting edge of the technological wave that has crested and crashed along the west coast for years. New cancer research, new tech centers deep in urban Seattle bring yet again another wave of tech immigrants to Cascadia. This isn't just a new decade, new well-educated immigrant rush to our region, this is the next wave of the Big Sort. The Big Sort has been the defining political and demographic trend in the last 50 years and its razors edge right now is South Lake Union in Seattle.

2. Crescent City and the Nones

Crescent City isn't the least religious community in the United States. That award goes to Seneca Falls, NY (According to the 2010 US Religion Census. But, this small city on the far southern edge of Cascadia, isolated against the Pacific is the least religious community in the least religious part of the country. The Cascadians have never had much need for religion, and this trend is starting to creep across America.

3. Grants Pass and Scientific Denialism

Ugh. This is literally a dumb trend that I wish would go away. But, anti-vaccination activists are at a high tide in Grants Pass. But, it is more than anti-vaccine. It is an anti-science thing, anti-authority is more like it. From this one place, we can look at how science, government and authority is challenged in Cascadia.

4. Portland and the Sport of the Internet

As a passionate Sounders fan, I hate to highlight the Portscum Timbers in any way. But, for this narrative, I'll have you know I am nothing but fair. But, the Sport of the Internet must be highlighted. From what is literally the third level of hell, we can see how American soccer fans found each other before old style media even took the sport seriously. That nowadays it isn't about the media letting you know something is good, its about you knowing something is good and finding other people who think the same way.

5. Olympia and the DIY Platinum Record

DIY culture is a massive part of what makes Olympia itself to most people who don't live here. Ben Haggerty is from Seattle, but he went to school at Evergreen. Likewise, for Kurt Cobain, I'd argue Olympia was much more important than Seattle. So, much like soccer making itself big and religion making itself small. Culture in Olympia and Cascadia finds itself, and sometimes doesn't do shit. Other times it spawns The Heist.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

I can't tell if May Day is going to be anything at all in Olympia this year. But, look at what is used to be

May Day will be tomorrow, and usually something happens around here. And, I can't believe that nothing will happen in town.

But, take a look back at what it used to be around here:

Beer, a day off, and a new wage scale. Revolution!!

Monday, April 27, 2015

Its all about procession, one way or another (Olyblogosphere for April 27, 2015)

1. Procession of the Species isn't just the procession. Its almost everyone holding up their recording devices. Like everyone. This is an Andy Rooney thing for me folks. Let your brain record it, you know?

I'm not against recording, but does everyone need to do it?

2. Procession is slow! And this year is was chilly. No one was going to overheat, corset or not.

3. I remarked to someone during Procession that this particular image could become a logo for Olympia.

Really, and what I said under the first entry was really stupid. Don't listen to me. Record what you want. Upload it, share it, keep it to yourself. I'm dumb.

4. In non-Arts Walk/Procession news, Olympia's best blog covers local to statewide public transportation funding.

5. I kept on forgetting to mention this particular episode of Olympia Pop Rocks. I may eventually write an entire blog post about it (very likely now that I type that sentence). The episode is a thing of beauty. It flows between the art Olympia and the progressive politics in a lovely smooth way through the life of work of Meg Martin.

Excellent stuff.

Here's a reddit thread on the episode, just for kicks.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

When Cascadia lost to Washington in a poll in the Post-Intelligencer. And, are we named after Martha Washington?

As the long history of the Washington Territory was being rolled up, and statehood was on the horizon, a few people wondered whether it was a good time to change the name of the political organization. As long as we're changing the nature of the organization itself, right?

So in May 1888, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer ran a poll, asking readers to suggest a new name. We've already read about how a few years earlier, our territorial representative suggested the name Cascadia for the possible new state.

From the PI:
The main cause of the desire for a change seems to arise from the fact that giving of the name Washington to the new state would lead to confusion, and that endless trouble and annoyance would arise from the confounding of the national capital and the political division on the northwest Pacific coast.
Washington not only won, but dominated:

Out to of 695 replies, 564 were in favor or Washington and these were scattered evenly over all parts of the territory. 
Interesting fact:
Another fact worthy of note is that there was an entire absence of any local prejudice. Yakima was favored by more non-residents of the valley of that name. Tacoma was the choice of more people in King county than the people in Pierce county, while nearly all of the expressions favorable of Rainier  were outside of Seattle.

Columbia finished second with 21, Tacoma 19 and Olympia 14. Cascadia was seventh overall, beating out variations of Washington and Idaho.

Towards the end of the story, the names relating to the Grays expedition was cited as a reason that Washington is so important and vital to our region. Just weeks after the constitutional convention was wrapped up in Philadelphia, Robert Gray left for the Northwest with his ships the Columbia and Washington.

Of course, now we have Grays Harbor, the Columbia River and obviously Washington State. Except the ship Washington's full name was Lady Washington. Martha Washington.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Smith Troy and his long leave of absence that is so unlike Troy Kelley's, but it still interesting

This is so unlike Troy Kelley's leave of absence, that I almost can't mention it.

But, Auditor Kelley's leave put me on the trail, so we'll start in 1941, when apparently war looked so likely that the legislature passed a law allowing elected officials to take long military leaves. The crux was that the governor was also the given permission to appoint a temporary stand-in.

I wrote a bit about Smith Troy's leave earlier here. And, I'm not proud to report, I'm apparently wrong about a few details.

For Democrat Smith Troy, as he left Olympia for Fort Lewis, and then North Carolina, this meant Republican Arthur Langlie would be able to appoint his stand-in. But, that never happened. Troy stayed away, serving as a military lawyer in the 30th Infantry Division, advancing from captain to lieutenant colonel.

For most of that time, Fred E. Lewis, a deputy appointed by Smith in 1940, led the office. And, during those war years, "the office" of attorney general meant a great deal more than it had in the past.

Soon after being appointed (and then quickly elected) attorney general in 1940, Smith went to work consolidating his power. During the 1941 session, he pressed for a law bringing in all of the state's legal work under his office. This move more than doubled the budget of his office, and obviously expanded the power of the state attorney general.

Lewis fought off attempts in 1943 to pull back that law, leaving the office in tact until Smith came back.

Langlie didn't last through the 1944 election, and that's when things changed for Lewis. Walgreen either caught on that Smith in absentia didn't actually support him for the Democratic nomination. Or he just thought that governors, not absent attorneys general should appoint temporary office fillers.

Either way, by early spring 1945, Lewis resigned and Walgreen's man Gerald Hile took control of the office. Hile had been as assistant US Attorney when he was called down to Olympia to serve as Walgreen's in-office lawyer. It didn't take long for the governor to place Hile as at least a temporary attorney general.

This is the scene that Troy returned to in the summer of 1945, literally sneaking back into town to take the oath of office. He'd been returned to the office months earlier, winning re-election while overseas in 1945. By September, he was officially released from the army, and Hile was released from his service too.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Here is that meta blog open thread you've been waiting for

Well, maybe I've been waiting for.

Either way, I think its about time to take a pause in the blog and let you tell me what you think about what's going on here.

It has been about five years since I changed the tone of this blog and just over two years since I've really been trying hard to blog twice a week.

And, to be honest the last few weeks, I've been very close to missing that twice a week deadline more than once. Mostly, I think, I've not been feeling inspired by what I what I've written about and I need to touch base.

So, please, tell me what you think. What do you think of the blog lately?

Monday, April 13, 2015

The best US Open to be held in Pierce County this year isn't even that US Open. And, it is because it isn't big and expensive.

People getting kicked out of their homes so landlords can make a windfall.

The county that spent millions of dollars on the venue is giving a tax windfall to their more metropolitan neighbors.

And, when it all comes down later this summer, Piece County will still be in debt over their new golf course.

The US Open Golf tournament, though the most laudable of golf's big tournaments because of its open format, is really just another television sporting event. The last time an amatuer won the US Open was 1933.

Sure, you may really like golf. This tournament in particular might excite you. I can't argue about that. And, I've argued in favor of government spending on sporting venues when I know in my brain that they don't make a return to taxpayers or the economy.

Mostly because I think team sports is important in setting a civic identity (so this golf stuff is something totally different for me).

But, people should know there is another US Open kicking off in Pierce County. The US Open Cup is a soccer tournament founded less than two decades after the first US Open golf tournament. And, like the US Open golf tournament (and dozens of other similar soccer tournaments worldwide) is open to any and all.

And, unlike the US Open golf thing, the US Open Cup operates in near obscurity.

On May 13, Tacoma 253 (a brand new team) will face off with the Kitsap Pumas at Mt. Tahoma High School in the first round of the Open Cup. The winner will face off against the Sounders 2 in Tukwila a week later.

I've made a habit of trying to get to as many US Open Cup matches as possible. I've been to Sumner, when Dox Italia lost to the Sounders U-23s. I was in Bremerton when the old USL Timbers beat the Kitsap Pumas. I've been up at the tiny Starfire Stadium in Tukwila to watch the Sounders beat everyone there. And, I've been to two finals in Seattle.

Every year during the first few rounds of the Open Cup, soccer pundits seems to fuss around about how we finally make the US Open Cup matter. While I think this is an important discussion, I think it isn't the fault of the tournament. Its more of a function of how adult club soccer works on the lower levels than the tournament.

Tacoma 253 is literally a brand new team in Pierce County and (as far as I can tell) won't even play more than two games near Tacoma this year. And, this doesn't seem to be a rare thing in lower level adult soccer. There's a lot of flux right now. What the tournament, and possible fans of lower level teams, is stability.

Once we've gotten attachments to these clubs, the tournament that involves so many of them, will grow.

And, grow the right way. Because I'm absolutely fine with it the way it is. And, what it is is something totally different than the US Open golf tournament. The games aren't televised (except for usually the final). I love jamming through and early round night, flipping from internet stream to internet stream, following the action across the country.

I remember one particular night, when I watched the Atlanta Silverbacks play Georgia Revolution being webcast by someone literally holding up a cell phone in the stands. That same night Cal FC (an amatuer team from southern California) blasted the professional (but minor league) Wilmington Hammerheads 4-0. The next round Cal FC upended Portland Timbers 1-0 for a legendary upset.

And, it was all watched by hardcore soccer fans via internet stream.

This is what is beautiful about the US Open Cup. Small high school stadiums, shaky internet streams, live tweeting games not on the internet, rockus upsets by amateurs. Let's not make this real US Open different, bigger, more televised. Let's keep it small and dirty. If it gets bigger, its because the teams are more connected, not because there is more sponsorship money.

Thursday, April 09, 2015

Someone got a fake letter published in the Olympian yesterday under the name of a t.v. character. But, that's not even the worst thing

Yesterday, the Olympian published a letter to the editor written under the name of Ronald Swanson (google cache version is still up). On reflection, it was a pretty blatant joke that I should've gotten at first blush. I watched Parks and Recreation, but the entire Chuck E Cheese token joke I forgot.

When I read it first thing in the morning yesterday, I didn't pause. Dumb letter, I thought, then moved on. It wasn't until later in the day when I saw other people reacting to joke that it dawned on me.

So, that it got past the few people left at the Olympian doesn't surprise me. People complaining about parks is pretty common chatter here, as I assume it is in most cities like us.

Meta took a tour of the empty newsroom at the Olympian recently:
The bad news becomes apparent as one walks past the front desk and down the main hallway to reach the newsroom. First, there is a large nook with two desks, facing into the hallway as if to welcome visitors into a major customer service hub, but now abandoned. Then behind those desks is another room with row after row of cubicles, about 30 or more, containing nothing but some cleaning supplies, folding tables, recycle bins, and other bric-a-brac in need of a storage space.

That’s the top floor. The bottom floor was once the print shop, but it sits empty too, as all the printing is now done in Tacoma.

At the end of that main hallway, a sign on the wall offers directions to passersby. Three of the arrows on the sign point toward the empty room on the top floor (“advertising,” “production,” and “online”), two point to the empty bottom floor (“circulation” and “production center”), and only one to an occupied space (“newsroom”).

Clearly, while The Olympian has more local staff than some outsiders might realize, they have many fewer than they had in their heyday.
So, what I'm saying is that its understandable. But, not the worst part.

The worst part is that the joke letter (harmless) ran alongside a letter to the editor from a former Secretary of State. He was writing in to counter a previous letter to the editor that had run in previous weeks.

Sam Reed's letter didn't just argue against the opinion of the previous letter, it had to clean up at least one factual error. That error was an election result in a nearby county just last November. I admit it wasn't regional news that Clark County passed a charter last November along the lines of a sensational murder.

But, it was a result that most civically inclined people I know noted. And, it was also a fact that would've taken less than five minutes to check.

We need to debate our own important issues here. A letter to the editor column is a bit of a ham-handed forum anymore, but it is still a vital one. And, the value of that public forum is lessened when we can't believe what is written there.

I'm rooting for the staff at the Olympian, but mostly I'm rooting for Olympia.

Monday, April 06, 2015

3 editors and an amazing photo. Just amazing. I'm not often amazed. (Olyblogosphere for April 6, 2015)

1. Did you know that Ken Balsley used to edit the Lacey Leader? Ken still covers Lacey and grades his mayor: B-.

2. Did you know the former publisher of the Olympian had a blog? Here you are.

3. This photo. Don't go your day without seeing this photo. Very much. I mean, the way he's laying there, still straddled. I also assume not awake. With his bag over his shoulder.

I'm just saying, photos don't take my breath away, almost as a rule. This one does.

4. Alec Clayton, editor at Mudflat Press, blogs about the latest exhibit at SPSCC. Which also features one of the above editors. Guess which one!

Thursday, April 02, 2015

State Capitol Museum on the chopping block. How much should I care?

No one seems to have noticed, but the state house budget (this one written by Democrats) puts the State Capitol Museum on the chopping block. Neither the senate budget nor the governor's puts the museum to the ax.

This isn't what I'd consider to be our local museum, that would be the Bigelow House. But, it is the most prominent museum in our city. And, so at least one part of the state government wants to close it.

But, I'm wondering how much I should care about that.

Mostly because it is for one Olympia and not the other. The museum is for Olympia-as-state-capitol and not as Olympia-as-community.

Obviously there are overlaps. There are people who live here that have had a significant impact on state government simply because they lived here. But, that isn't what Olympia is, mostly.

And, so, this is whey I expect in Olympia, we're not going to complain very much if they end up closing the museum down. It simply speaks too narrowly to our history and culture here.

Yes, the Lord Mansion is very pretty. And, it would be a shame to cut off public access to it. I remember biking over there when I was a kid in the summer, just to walk around. But, the museum now doesn't speak to me much.

The best part of the museum is its small community room, the Carriage House. At least for me it is. Its the only part of the State Capitol Museum I've been to in the last 10 years, because it is where local historians hold talks.

But, those talks probably still might take place there. The house budget calls for the building to be passed over to another part of the state government, which leads me to believe it'll still be available for rent.

The last thing that amazes me is the incredibly low budget line item we're even talking about here. Apparently, the state provides only $242,000 a year to the state historical society to run the State Capitol Museum.

So really, is there a big reason that I'm missing that I would want to keep this incarnation of the museum open?

Monday, March 30, 2015

After the US Open this summer, Pierce County will still be $17 million in debt over the golf course

About a year ago, I took a crack at figuring out how much economic sense the US Open at Chambers Bay this summer made.

Overall, the academic research, finds little evidence that large tournaments (like the Olympics) make economic sense to local communities. They're a loss leader. You pay to have them to bolster your reputation, not because you're going to make money.

But, golf tournaments are different apparently. This is because golf tournaments don't usually mean a community had to build a brand new golf tournament to host a major tournament.

In the case of Pierce County, Chambers Bay and the US Open, this is not what happened.

In fact, the Chambers Bay course was built specifically for the US Open:
The golfing world was stunned in 2008, when the United States Golf Association (USGA) made Chambers Bay the host of the U.S. Open. It just didn’t make sense. Only the most prestigious and hallowed courses were picked to host the national championship.

No course built in the previous 45 years had hosted an Open, yet Chambers Bay was picked after being open for about eight months.  
This was no fluke, though. It was years in the making...
This makes the Chambers Bay course more like an Olympic Stadium, leaving the county saddled with debt for the foreseeable future. It was only in the last few years that the course started paying for itself.

But, despite running in the black, the course still built up a fairly massive debt that it is yet to pay off.

The chart on page 44 of this document shows the various ways Piece County has built up debt throughout its budget.

Even after paying off more than half a million in Chambers Bay Golf Course debt this year, the county will still be in the hole $17 million on the course.

And, even from the county's own (self proclaimed conservative) model, the county budget will only see a $600,000 bump in taxes this year because of the U.S. Open. The vast majority of the additional taxes paid here because of the U.S. Open will go to other counties and the state:

  • The State of Washington: nearly $6.5 million 
  • King County: $2 million
  • City of Tacoma: more than $440,000 
  • The cities of DuPont, Lakewood, Puyallup, Fife and Gig Harbor: a combined $153,000

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Our man Joey DiJulio of Burien, the bachelor party and wedding in Philadelphia and the Cascadian Calm (among other regional personalities)

If you were paying attention last week, you saw this story:
For weeks, the man from the Seattle suburbs found himself getting emails from people he didn’t know about a bachelor party and a groom he’s never met. 
He saw names of Philadelphia landmarks like Reading Terminal Market thrown around in the emails but couldn’t put his finger on where they were located until he searched the names online. “I had no idea what any of these places are,” said DiJulio, 31, who’s never been to the Northeast. 
“After Googling them, everything was pointing to Philadelphia.” It turns out DiJulio, an information technology worker and a married father of one in Burien, Washington, had been mistaken for a friend of the groom with a similar last name. He sat as a “fly on the wall” for much of the email chain until Monday, when he broke the news after the groom’s brother wanted a headcount of people attending the party.
But it didn’t end there. Groom Jeff Minetti, 34, figured: Why not still invite him?
Well, why not indeed?

To me, the reason why not is obvious. You don't know this person. He could ruin your entire wedding. He's a stranger and you don't invite strangers to your wedding.

But, that's the Cascadian talking, and we're not talking about a Cascadian who invited DiJulio to the wedding. In fact, the Cascadian DiJulio was the one who quietly watched as strangers talked around him. He didn't chime in, he just waited.

This is the Cascadian Calm, the laid back, open and quiet regional personality that often gets described as the Seattle Freeze.

And, this is almost the polar opposite of the regional personality that DiJulio was dropped right in the middle of. In fact, Philadelphia is dead center inside a regional personality that has been described as "temperamental and uninhibited."

Here's another version of the same map, which shows the entire country in the same context.

Uninhibited makes sense here. It made total sense to the groom to invite the interloping and eavesdropping stranger.

Temperamental makes sense too. We usually think as temperamental as moody. As in "bad mood." But, in this case, it means almost unreasonably good mood. "Hey, you're a stranger that's just been listening in?? Yeah! You're invited too!"

But, it also means for that DiJulio, in contrast to the Cascadian Calm (which is very not temperamental), that there's another side of the coin. People get angry man. Just saying.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Solar, the clown and food are real. Cop humor and zombies are not (Olyblogosphere for March 23, 2015)

1.The Sky Like A Scallop Shell loves. I mean LOVES! Solarpunk. So, come as no surprise, Procession is Solarpunk.

2. Yeah sure, they were cute. But the who Zombie thing up at the campus was totally overblown. Style over substance and no, they did not take over "Olympia." Just the legislative building. And, they were lobbying for a tax cut. So boo.

3. Gale Hemmann writes up a neat post over at Thurston Talk. Seriously, the ethnic markets of Olympia and thereabouts.

4. I appreciate the effort. But, that's an embarrassing effort. I can imagine what you were going for, but not good.

5. And, this is worth linking to just because Jusby posted something. Our favorite clown!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Merging Smith Troy and Enoch Bagshaw

About exactly a year back I wrote about how Enoch Bagshaw, legendary Husky football coach, collapsed and died in my own city.

It turns out my favorite Olympia politician had his own had in forcing Bagshaw to Olympia. Smith Troy, who eventually was Thurston County prosecutor, and then state Attorney General, and savior of Olympia (in both senses), had a hand to play in Bagshaw's departure.

In the late 1920s Troy was student body president up at the University of Washington. There was apparently some sort of track team cabal that ran the student government back then, and they had it out for the football head coach.

It wasn't just a student uprising either, or at least not in the sense that it was students pressuring the school's leadership to do something. Bagshaw worked (in a sense) for the students. The student government funded the football team, and to a degree, they controlled Bagshaw's employment. It wasn't until the late 1930s when the student association reformed and the 1950s when they furthered themselves even more.

But, in the 1920s, Bagshaw was being forced out by the students, led by Smith Troy.

I don't know the subtext of the fight. Just that Troy was in the front of the student body as they fought to remove Bagshaw.

Now, while Troy conspired against Bagshaw in Seattle, Governor Roland Hartley was fighting a running battle with the Commissioner, the State Attorney General, the Thurston County Prosecutor and the various arms of his own transportation department. And, the courts. The courts got involved too.

To put thing in perspective, Hartley is our Hoover. On meth. A Republican fiddling while the state's economy comes crashing down around his ears. The last Republican in a long line of GOP dominance in our state, ushering in Democratic and centrist Republican rule for decades.

Hartley was mean, incredibly conservative and the battle between the other branches of government had turned into a turf war, each side trying to tear down the other's offices. To the point that Hartley had a hard time staffing his transportation office.

Hartley, an Everett conservative capitalist, had brought in Everett logger Fred Baker to run the show. He resigned, so Hartley went back to the Everett well and brought up Bagshaw, the former Everett High School football coach.

Bagshaw (and this is apparently not a lie) was also a civil engineer in his previous life before becoming a full time college coach.

Its likely Bagshaw would've died no matter what. He was probably already sick when he finally resigned from the U.

Smith Troy was just starting his life. He was wrapping up school about the same time Bagshaw wrapped up his gridiron career. A year after his death, Troy was getting married and starting his legal life under his brother, Thurston County prosecutor Harold Troy.