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.