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?