Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Richard Debolt sure can dish it out, but can't take it

He can put out negative, untrue ads. But, he can't take true negative ads. He gets all bunchy about Mike Rechner's new ad:

A Democratic challenger's televised blasting of Rep. Richard DeBolt, the state House Republican Leader from Chehalis, has grabbed some attention in Thurston County.

...

DeBolt said the ad has a "negative, nasty tone," and he disputed its claims. Rechner said it informs the voters.

...

DeBolt said Rechner and his party are avoiding issues in favor of a negative campaign, noting that the Thurston County Democratic Party also filed a complaint over his campaign finance reporting this year.

"I guess personal attacks are OK with them, but when you attack issues, they don't want to do that," DeBolt said.

Here's the ad:



The funny part about this ad, and Debolt's reaction to it, is that the second part of the ad is about Debolt using untruths in ads he funded earlier this year:

Democratic lawmakers were livid Tuesday over a Republican-backed ad campaign blasting them as being soft on sex predators.

The latest salvo in the $75,000 radio, TV, phone and mail campaign by The Speaker's Roundtable has been a wave of postcards that blanketed five legislative districts over the weekend. Republicans, who are outnumbered by Democrats in the statehouse, say the ads are their way of pushing for tougher sex-offender laws.

...

Marked "SEX OFFENDER NOTIFICATION," the cards picture a real child rapist. "This violent predator lives in your community," the cards say. They also list the names of local Democratic lawmakers and urge people to call and tell them to "protect children and not violent sex offenders." At least seven Democrats in five legislative districts have been targeted in the mailings.

As it turns out, the 57-year-old man pictured in the photo actually lives in Pierce County's Gig Harbor, not in Vancouver, Walla Walla or most of the other cities where the postcards were received.

...

Several of the Democrats blamed DeBolt, R-Chehalis, who helps raise money for The Speaker's Roundtable. In a letter Tuesday, they demanded an apology.

"Sometimes, I guess, Rep. DeBolt thinks he's having fun, kind of a junior-high mentality," said Rep. Bill Grant, D-Walla Walla.

Monday, October 30, 2006

"I don't take questions from bloggers"

Groan. I know she was talking about Sharkansky, hell I wouldn't want to take questions from Sharkansky. Justice Susan Owens should have said something to that effect, that she just didn't like the person asking the questions. Instead she ended up sounding snobbish and elitist, to say the least.

Uninformed is getting a bit more accurate.

I'm still glad I voted for her, Steven Johnson would be a disaster on the court. She's still a grade A turd though.

Good lord:
I don't answer questions from bloggers, and that was apparently the moderator's only credentials. They didn't want to get a regular journalist to do it. I have other reasons to, I'm working as a justice and we had a full slate of cases on Tuesday. So I said no -- in my view it wasn't a big deal. I apologize for any inconvenience for anybody. But Sen. Johnson and I have been all over the state, together and alone, even when gas was at its highest price. I had hoped to hit all the counties....

I don't take questions from bloggers. I just don't blog and don't read them. Every forum we've been at has been moderated by an attorney or a credentialed journalist, and one by the state president of the League of Women Voters. I personally did not know who this other moderator was. My people might have agreed to that, but when I found out the reality, I said no.

By discounting not only the entire medium, but everyone who isn't a lawyer or a journalist, she is drawing an arbitrary line. I know Joel Connelly is a nice and smart man, but there isn't anything about him that makes him any more qualified to ask questions then a few experienced, smart and nice people I know.

At this point, I know I'm reading into it a bit too much, but it seems like she's almost spitting the word "bloggers" out.

More 933 nose dive (2)

As election day continues (since most of us got our ballots more than a week ago, is there really an election "day"?), we continue to see the polling on 933 drop through the floor. For the first time, the No responses beat out the Yes responses. Even on the better question for "yes."

See here and here also.

Election day bingo

Election Day is only just over a week away, so there wasn't much for me to do except for create some Election Day Bingo 2006 cards.

I did up two, which pretty much cover the interesting House, Senate and Governor races (except Virginia in the Senate races) and some local stuff.

Two sets of cards, so all results taken into account.

Here's one
Here's the other

Make your own right here. And, have fun.

Norm Dicks and Jay Inslee rock (wondering about Brian Baird)

Norm does his part and so does Jay.

Now, even though Jay Inslee doesn't meet the criteria laid out by Chris Bowers in the "Use it or Lose It" campaign (opponents with less than $10k spent), he gets credit for sending his money where it will do the most good.

Is it worth it to nudge Brian Baird too?

Brian's opponent has about twice that which Jay's does ($100k compared to $50k) and Brian has just under what Jay does. I know it isn't very likely that Brian will lose with an almost 7 to 1 cash advantage, but how much can he really afford to send out?

Might still be worth a visit or a call though: 10411 NE Fourth Plain Blvd, Vancouver and (360) 696-1993.

* * *

What is so funny about this is that a couple of days ago I heard an ad for Norm on KGY. This is funny because Norm doesn't even have an opponent who is raising any money. At all. Doug Cloud will be on the ballot, but it isn't like he's promoting himself all that much.

That said, KGY would be a pretty cheap ad buy. Most radio out here would be a pretty cheap ad buy.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Beyond "Buy Nothing Day" (Black Friday Alternatives)



This is a thought I've had running through my head since a few Thanksgivings ago. Why on the day after Thanksgiving, a free Friday for most of us, is our public life pretty much closed down? I mean all the stores are open, duh, but everything else, libraries, museums are closed.

I don't like shopping (at all really), and two Black Fridays ago I wanted to hit the library, and it was closed. I scratched my head about it, thinking it would be open because it is open any other weekend day. That got me looking into alternatives to Black Friday, the mother of all shopping days (not really, but it gets the best press).

Buy Nothing Day is pretty much it, and I don't think that is really good enough. "Buy Nothing" is a negative action, pretty much asks you to do nothing but sit on your hands and not be a shopper. Not at all inspiring. The day after Thanksgiving should be more than that, it should be a day that asks you to give back more than thanks.

Do we have a volunteering holiday? I've heard some folks using MLK day as a "day of service," but since not everyone gets MLK day off, I think we should add the day after Thanksgiving.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Randy is wrong about initiatives

Randy at Ridenbaugh press has a well intentioned post about a restoration of the initiative process. He says we should ban paying signature gatherers. Just like we can't force spending or contribution limits onto initiative campaigns, we also can't ban paying signature gatherers.

We might be able to ban paid per signature model, but not pay outright.

My point (here and otherwise) is that we can't create more limits to the initiative process and expect the process to improve. Creating higher hurdles to participation will only decrease participation, and increase the advantage wealthy folks have in using the system:
More regulation just means that initiative proponents will just spend more money to overcome these hurdles. The loser in this scenario is the average citizen. They do not have the resources to overcome these hurdles and therefore are locked out of the process. If legislators are concerned about wealthy individuals and special interest being the only ones using the process, then they should make the process more accessible to those individuals without access to large sums of money.

933 backer are desperate, trying to connect "No on 933" to Enron

Getting kind of sensitive over the one big rich guy, Howie Rich, is funding their campaign, Yes on 933 bites back.

Yes on 933 sent out an email yesterday that keeps in the front of your mind just how outside the truth box they need to go to make a point. The headline starts with this:
Enron, World's Richest Developer Funding "“No on I-933" Campaign
Then a little further down, it gets a bit clearer what they're talking about:
ENRON ATTORNEY, WORLDÂ’S RICHEST DEVELOPER FUNDING "“NO ON I-933"” CAMPAIGN
Oh, so it wasn't actually Enron itself, but rather one of attorneys. Probably one of their attorneys who was all down and dirty. And stuff.

Nope.
...the opposition is controlled by California billionaire John Morgridge, Chairman of Cisco Systems, and Texas attorney Carol Dinkins, whose law firm represented Enron. The two are Chair and Vice Chair of The Nature Conservancy, respectively.
By the way, the bold type is theirs, not mine. Whose law firm represented Enron? Pretty far from "Enron funding No on 933" isn't it?

Not that it turns out that Ms. Dinkins is a saint by any stretch of the imagination, but she isn't Enron.

And, as far as the "world's richest" developer, its Paul Allen. Yeah, Paul Allen.

Their point is that since Allen wants to build high density housing, he doesn't like all that sprawl. Which is sort of the point.

This week in Olympia city council

Not a lot going on that was interesting, short of the start of the budget writing process.

What I like though is the idea of Participatory budgeting.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Printer democracy is alive again

It never really died, but after a couple months the idea is moving again. I have a meeting with Rep. Hunt in a couple of weeks and I have some more history of recent legislation on the topic.

933 continues nose dive

Elway Poll says "Yes" responses for 933 are down to 42 percent.

The "Yes I'm voting for that" is really the only thing you should worry about when they ask about initiatives. As noted before, initiatives typically are more popular in August and September and as the "No on" campaigns ramp up, they begin to sink as people become more unsure of their impact.

And, when people are unsure about initiatives, they vote no.

Norm Dicks answers the call

Wooo hoo:

Congressman Norm Dicks of the 6th CD responded positively to the calls that folks made to ask him to contribute money from his campaign chest to Democrats running in more competitive districts. He donated $100,000 + according to Chris Bowers, reporting back on his "Use It or Lose It" program. This was on top of the nearly $600,000 that he raised yesterday for the DCCC from the lunch he hosted downtown for Al Gore. Also today, John Kerry and Ted Kennedy each donated $500,000 to the DSCC. This program is working. We may not get the entire $15 million we are looking for but it will be close.

I feel like I and our readers here had an impact on Dicks' decision, along with a bunch of folks from MoveOn.org. I called Dicks' Tacoma office on Friday afternoon and then wrote up a post asking others to do the same. I repeated the plea yesterday. Then I called the Tacoma office again today to ask them how it was going. As soon as I called, they laughed and asked if I was calling about the program. I said I was. The man who answered the phone asked me if I knew that Dicks had already given a lot to candidates. I told him I did and appreciated it. He asked if I knew about the lunch yesterday and how much had been raised. Yes. I said that perhaps they might want to write to Chris Bowers and talk about getting credit for what they'd done. I gave them Chris' email address and said I'd write about it as soon as I saw the results on Chris' list.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Inslee's (lack of blog) gets him on one of the worst list

You have to try pretty hard to get onto the CNet's list of bad political websites this year (hat tip Kari), and Jay Inslee did it. The website itself not so bad as the rest on the list (most of which seem to be amateur attempts), by Rep. Inslee's makes it because of the irony attached:
In keeping with the spirit of his tech-centric district--which includes Microsoft's headquarters in Redmond--he offers an official campaign blog. It's outfitted with an internal search engine, options for e-mailing entries, and links for subscribing through 11 different readers. There's just one hitch. Less than two weeks before Election Day, this blog includes absolutely zero entries. This is from the same politico whose campaign biography claims an "unparalleled commitment" to technological innovation. Right.
Unfortunately for CNet, Inslee's district is just short of including the Microsoft main campus (according to Google Earth's new congressional district overlay). But the point is made. Don't put up a blog (or any feature of page) unless you're going to use it.

Opportunity is voting no on I-920

Jim Anderson is not only a good blogger, he's an op-ed writer in the Olympian. I love his point about opportunity:

Which would you choose - commotion or concentration, struggle or success, a job or a career? As a public school teacher, I know which I would choose for my students.


I'd wish for smaller classes - instead of 33 squirrelly kindergartners vying for attention, only 19, the difference between chronic crisis management and meaningful teaching.

I'd wish for improved instruction - programs for students struggling with math, reading and science, the difference between failing and passing.

I'd wish for expanded opportunities - more enrollment slots in our public universities and community colleges, and more financial aid for students, the difference between a hope and a future.

Thanks to recent legislation, this isn't just a wish list. It's a reality made possible by the estate tax.

This really is a case where a tax actually creates opportunity for people.

The Olympian often times runs an opposition column (pro and con) on any issue, and up against Jim was Don Brunnell of the AWB. Even though only half of one percent of Washington citizens even have to think about the estate tax, I like the subtle class warfar Brunell uses in his column:

The truly wealthy often avoid the estate tax altogether. They employ sophisticated estate planning experts and techniques to shield their assets. Their investment portfolios provide liquidity, allowing them to establish residency outside Washington and avoid the tax. In contrast, the value of a family business is in buildings, equipment and operations tied to a specific location. They can't move to avoid the tax unless they sell or close up shop, neither of which is good for customers, employees or the community.
Yes, very complicated things like selling the company to your kids if they want to take it over.

The proponents initiative take pot shots at the Gates family, who are in favor of the estate tax, implying that they're so damn rich that they can find secret ways out of paying the estate tax. Of course Bill Gates' secret way out is that he's giving most of his money away. Sort of like an estate tax.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Why couldn't I post this to Youtube?



I was trying to post this today as an example of a particularly bad television ad, an ad by Paul Nelson attacking Rep. Ron Kind for apparently voting for the budget and pointing to scientific studies undertaken by the NIH. I was going to post it in contrast to this ad by the Yes on 89 folks in California, and talk about how some ads just keep up from voting at all.

Find the ad also on Nelson's website here.

But, now I'm wondering why Youtube wouldn't let me post the Nelson ad in the first place. I tried twice this afternoon, and both times it was rejected for "terms of use violations." Political ads aren't copyrighted, they are part of the public domain. Also, Nelson needs to be mocked. So, why reject the video?

This week on city council up

This week is the new city hall, city council should blog and a couple of meetings you should care about.

Call Norm Dicks

According to the latest FEC reports, 69 Democratic House incumbents, each with more than $200,000 in their campaign accounts, are either facing no opposition for re-election, or are facing token Republican opposition that has failed to raise more than $10,000. Combined, these 69 incumbents have roughly $50,000,000 in their campaign bank accounts. If each of these 69 incumbents were to give 30% of their campaign funds either directly to competitive Democratic challengers and / or to the DCCC, that would make $15,000,000. Then, we would indeed have the money to fully target 60 Republican-held seats.
Across the country, there are tons of "safe districts" where Democrats don't really have to worry about losing a congressional seat. These campaigns, though, still raise a ton of money and this year a good thing for them to do would be to spread some of that wealth around. MyDD has a good post here (that I quoted above), and Lynn over at Evergreen Politics puts a local spin on it:

In this state there is only one Congressman on this list, Norm Dicks in WA-06. So please call his office and politely explain why you are calling, explain the program and the reason for the program.

I just called Norm's Tacoma office (253-272-5884, DC number is 202.225.5916) ) and discussed the situation with the person who answered the phone. He said that Dicks was hosting fundraisers for Democratic challengers. I thanked him and said we're asking for more this year. We're asking for 30% of what they have in their coffers. In Dicks' case, 30% is $112,040 of the total of $373,466. I also asked him to get back to me with the answer. He said it was unlikely since they were quite busy.

I'm guessing that they may change their mind if 200 or 400 or 1000 of us call.

Tips for good calls

1. Be polite
2. Be prepared for pushback
3. Tell them this is an extraordinary situation because so many seats are in play
4. Tell them others have given more than 30%
5. Give them a way to contact you when they decide how much to pledge
6. Only call Representatives in your home state

933 forum last night, thoughts

Last night the Thurston Democrats held a forum on 933 (Protecting Communities).

A few points that stuck out for me.

In recent polling, 933 was below 50 percent. Even though the "no" votes were even well below that, the important number is really the yes votes. Initiatives tend to peak in their support in August, around primary time, and then decrease until November. The support for 933 is already burning, and may be down below 50 percent. Most of the undecides, I guess, will end up voting against it.

David Troutt, of the Nisqually River Council, pointed out that even if we end up winning, there is still a problem. People don't trust government to set fair land use rules. While 933 probably wouldn't have done anything to actually make government more responsive, we haven't paid very close attention to this in the past either. We probably should, and he used the example of local planning efforts, like the recent effort in the Graham area. The closer this type of planning is to the people, the better.

Sen. Karen Fraser pointed out that 933 may violate I-601, which outlawed new programs for local government with no new funding.

The conversation overall last night was very nice, I think everyone would agree with that, but in terms of the number of folks that showed up, I'm disapointed. This is the second of these forums we've had, and turnout has been a disapointment.

At one point last night, I think we ran out of steam, not because the panelists didn't have anything to say, but with the open question format, we ran out of questions.

It is on me to get folks to turn out for these events, and I have to say I'm at a loss of what to do. Maybe I should personally call 50 people and ask them to attend. Whatever I'm doing, I'm doing it wrong.

Politics of the Common Good

Get me all warm on the inside:



Reminds me of this

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Loeb on the recent DNC appeal email

You probably got it, that email from the DNC on matching your money. It is different though that other appeals. Actually there is something about it that made it the most monied email from the DNC since 2004.

Here is what Paul Loeb, of Soul of a Citizen, said:

But it was more than the matching offer that's made this the DNC's single most successful fundraising email since 2004. And more even than the timing. Like most of us, I'm sure the Minnesota woman had gotten plenty of requests for contributions, including promises that some Senator, Congressperson, or anonymous wealthy donor would step in and amplify what she gave. But she hadn't responded. These matching appeals help our modest dollars go further. I respond to them when I can. But I also wonder why donors who have so much more money than I do (or so much in their campaign coffers while sitting on safe seats) don't simply give whatever they were planning to anyway without all the gamesmanship. They're trying to multiply their impact, I know, and often this works. But it also sends a bit of a double message.

This appeal felt different. Like the Party's new social networking tool, PartyBuilder, it offered those participating a human connection. It allowed me and others who'd already contributed a way to increase the impact of what we gave, and those responding to remember that they were being joined not just by generic donors, but by specific ordinary citizens who, like them, would contribute despite having to juggle budgets, bills and other normal commitments. That made all the difference to the woman from Minnesota. And it made all the difference to me, letting me tell the story of why I was contributing, and giving more than I'd originally planned. invited others to respond in kind. It made the process more personal.

Genius my ass (Raban rant long overdue)

It isn't that I'm not a big fan of Jonathan Raban, I'm sure he's a very nice man and writier. His apparent concern for rural growth issues and septics is something that he and I have in common.

That said I wish people would stop doing this:

Jonathan Raban=Seattle.

The Stranger did it (in my eyes) today with their Genius Awards, and my favorite radio show did it back a few months ago when they came out to Seattle.

Authors who more =Seattle than Raban would include Bruce Brown, the great Fred Moody and Douglas Coupland. Yes, Coupland is from Canada, but at least for a foreigner, he's from the eco-region.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Cantwell/McGavick and that libertarian debate

Crazy like a fox, and he makes the most ironic statement of the night. At least for me. I was only able to catch the first few minutes of the debate before I actually had to work on something today, but I was able to catch responses to the first question: Who did you vote for and why in 2004?

Cantwell: I voted for Kerry because blah blah blah (and go into something that relates to her campaign, not two years ago)

McGavick: I voted for Bush because (thinks to self... Oh lord, this will screw me, won't it?)

And Bruce Guthrie, the Libertarian, actually makes a great point. He voted for Badnarik, the Libertarian, and the reason why was because he didn't want his vote to be wasted.

Hmm... Interesting... Tell me more...

His point was that if the two major parties gave us a race where almost 40 percent of the eligible voters stayed home, what kind of race is that? His vote was for a real choice, a real conversation.

While I never would have voted for who he voted for, I do respect the point he made. Low voter turnout is never a real concern for major party candidates. I would fall down a flight of stairs of a Democratic candidate ever said "If we get a good turnout, I'll be your next governor."

Passey apparently agrees with me:
I thought Bruce really nailed the first question about who did you vote for for President and why. He spoke about how low voter turnout showed that the American people thought that their choices were terrible, and that he voted for change -- the Libertarian candidate, Michael Badnarik -- because he didn't want to waste his vote on the lesser of two evils. It was a fantastic answer and a great start to the debate.
Pointing out that low voter turnout, though a very good point, seemed ironic for me coming from a Libertarian. As Gary Hart pointed out (generally), if you believe government only needs to secure the borders and a few other things, what is the real point of you being and engaged, informed citizen? Libertarians, it seems, because they are much more attracted to a smaller, limited government in scope, wouldn't be all that concerned with civic engagement. But, if they were, limited engagement by voting probably would be the greatest extent of their interest.

Supreme Court candidate: I'd get rid of Democrats

Oh, ha ha ha:
...Johnson entered my classroom and stated the following: When asked by a student, what would you change about, Washington? His reply: "I'd get rid of all the Democrats."

What's the hardest thing about, your job? "Having to work with Democrats." 'He went on to disparage two of the Democratic congressmen from the district.

Rock on. As a Supreme Court justice, he might be able to do that.

What do party designations matter anyway? (maybe last Sheldon post)

In 2002 Tim Sheldon gives $10,000 to a Republican campaign committee that tosses the state senate to the GOP.

In 2004 he votes for and supports the Republican candidate for governor.

In 2004 he heads up the local chapter of Democrats for Bush.

This year he fails to get the endorsement of any local Democratic Party organization.

He is listed by the Republican senate campaign committee as a Republican.

In 2006 he receives $500 from a Republican PAC, $100 more than is even raised by his Republican opponent.

Now, he endorses the Republican opponent of a Democratic representative from his own district.

So, I ask you, why do parties matter at all?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

An Applebee's America thought: libraries as mega-churches

Here are some fact type thingies:

1. Libraries are among the most valued and trusted of public institutions. I don't have any citation to back this up, but they have to be up there, way above elected officials or

2. Conservatives have tapped the social structures at mega-churches, recognizing that social conections are the most effective at determining how someone votes.

3. Libraries are wondering about their own role as "places," or rather destinations in the way that Applebees and megachurches have become destinations.

Its a sad comment, but the valuable "third places" in our society are no longer places were people randomly come together (maybe they were never that way), but rather places were people go because they know other folks they want to meet are there.

Democrats, especially, should be worried about the places in our communities, and making sure that there are enough places for people to get together.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Why all those newspapers hate the estate tax, love I-920

Out and about today, I was able to squeeze in the last 20 or so minutes of Podcasting Liberally, which covered the cerfuffle this week about a handful of newspapers across the region writing checks to the Initiative 920 campaign (here and here).

Goldy and crew were worried that because all of these papers were in league with the estate tax killer, therefore killing any chance that the anti-920 folks would get fair shake. Their worries were only half baked, as they never got around to wondering why newspapers, all family owned, would hate the estate tax.

Let's get one thing straight, I like the estate tax. A lot. I like what it has to say about our values as a nation and I never want to see the rise of the American aristocracy again.

That said, I also like local, family owned newspapers.

Lets get down to it. The papers writing checks to I-920 aren't the Tacoma News Tribune (owned by the McClatchy) the Seattle PI (owned by Hearst) or the Aberdeen Daily World (owned by Stephens Media), because corporations don't fear the estate tax.

And, over the past half century, family owned papers have disappeared. The estate tax has been a nice neat weapon for large newspaper chains to sweep into a community and buy up a newspaper from heirs who either didn't have it in them to run the paper, or lost too much cash in the transaction to make it worth it.

A great book on this sad history is Richard McCord's "The Chain Gang: One Newspaper Versus the Gannett Empire." While Gannett did tons of other nasty things in their earlier days, the estate tax was a common denominator in a lot of their buy outs. The Blethen family, along with the other publishers that have jumped on the I-920 bandwagon have seen dozens of family, local owned papers go down the chain route.

While I'm not for ending the estate tax, I'm also not for ending local ownership of newspapers. Locally owned papers are under intense pressure to sell out to larger chains, because they are highly profitable businesses. Chains, because they can buy things like paper at cheaper prices, can make the papers even more profitable.

Especially Goldy, who fears the lack of decent coverage of both sides of I-920, can recognize the possible chilling effects of chain ownership of newspapers.

Vote no on I-920, but also support local journalism.

Darcy Burner comes to Olympia

Democratic candidate for the WA 8 is coming to Olympia:
On October 28th we have an opportunity to take a direct action to change the direction of our country. Darcy Burner will be in Olympia for a fundraiser at the Home of Paul and Beth Berendt in conjunction with a swing through the southern end of the eight congressional district ( Olympia isn’t in the eighth – but the district dose come nearby to the Pierce County border).

Burner is taking on one of the most endangered Republicans in the Congress: Dave Reichert. Polling shows that Darcy is well positioned to win the race but she needs a big push to help win in the final days of the election. Will you join us in helping Darcy change the direction of our country?

What: Fundraiser Benefiting Darcy Burner for Congress

Where: Home of Paul & Beth Berendt – 1702 Sulenes Loop SE, Olympia

(Off Henderson St. near Olympia High School and the Briggs YMCA)

Date & Time: October 28th 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM

Donation: suggested donation is $25, $50 or $100

Call Paul or Beth Berendt for more information at 360-753-6235

Friday, October 13, 2006

Neighbor A vs. Neighbor B on I-933

Up until about May I was involved in my neighborhood association, that had come together to try to stop the upsurge in development in south-east Olympia. This part of Oly had been pretty rural up until recently, and a lot of long time residents had a hard time understanding why this muddy wet part of town was a good place for a few thousand more homes.

This fight though is a good example of the arguments surrounding I-933, balancing the rights of long time landowners to their rural setting, low volume traffic and property values, with the rights of developers to do what they do.

Earlier today the VP of the neighborhood association sent out a reminder for folks to donate to No on I-933 (to the credit of Dan Stonnington and other folks at the Community Protection Coalition, they were in contact with my neighborhood association early on). I'll call her Neighbor A has been pretty vocal about I-933, specifically how it would prevent folks like her and her neighbors from stopping development from happening.

Neighbor B, also very active in the association, replied in contrast:
We need less government interference and more accountability to the people. Any and all government (and each person!) should be held accountable for it's actions. Period.
...I am surprised that you aren't concerned about the fact that plans are showing a road going thru your house in the future. I would think you would expect to be reimbursed by the government taking your home as they see fit without your intent to sell or input from you. You are campaigning, voting and contributing to the government not having to pay you fair market value when they decide to take your land for a more direct route to downtown. Where 'they' go to spend more of our tax dollars on stopping food and medical supplies from getting to our troops fighting for our freedom of speech, way of life and religion.

What does I-933 do for Washington property owners?

Yes On I-993 means that if government regulation damages the use or value of your land you are entitled to compensation for your loss.

How much will I-933 cost?

Nothing. If the government doesnÂ’t damage someoneÂ’s property, it owes nothing. No damage, no cost. ThatÂ’s fair.

Does I-933 eliminate zoning laws and environmental protections?

No. Only regulations applied to individual properties are addressed by I-933. Zoning doesnÂ’t change and the environment is still protected.

My main contention is with the logic that she seems to be employing that "if the rules stay on the books, what is the harm?" The harm is that the rules aren't enforced, they practically don't exist.

She also seems to be confusing the concepteminentient domain with so called "takings." If Neighbor A's house was taken out to build a road, then under the Constitution of the United States and Washington, she'd be paid. If they downzoned her property from one house per one acre to one to five, there would be no payment (as it stands today). The fiscenarioerio iseminentient domain case, the second is so-called "takings."

Anyway, I could spend a lot of time countering her logic, but rather, I just want to reflect on if we couldn't reach someone whose home is being surrounded by new developments, who can we reach?

The only reason there is a halt in development in SE Olympia is because the city was able to enact a rule to put a temporary halt to development until they reconsider their overall rules. If all of those rules can be called into question when they obviously will lessen the commercial value of their properties, how can they be effective at all?

Web 2.0 favors Dems (or progressives, whatever)

From the PDF:
...that is because it shifts power away from the center of organizations out to the edges. Millions of us now can speak on a much more level playing field than anything that has ever existed before. By definition that is bad for elites and insiders. Which can't be good news for the incumbent party in Washington.

I think pluralism is also hard-wired into the net, and especially into Web 2.0, where everyone is one click away from everyone else and (contrary to the fears of some), you are far more likely to encounter opposing viewpoints online than elsewhere. This again, it seems to me, means the web is inherently friendlier to people who value civic debate and engagement.

This is not to say that the web is full of liberals. It still trends to the wealthier, especially if you are looking at broadband users. And given the huge technosphere, which is as big or bigger than the political blogosphere, a lot of its politics is more libertarian than traditionally left or right. But even if it's not by design, it does seem Cox is right, and the right is losing the online future.

That's because the culture of Web 2.0 favors dissenters and creatives over conformists. If you are uncomfortable with free expression, you're not going to like YouTube. It's not "who builds what," as Cox puts it, that "means everything," it's what is the web good for and what do people like to use it for, that means everything.

This is why calling wired citizens the nutroots, is well, nuts.

A good local conversation on this is right here.

I also agree with Micah (I didn't quote this part) that the right has a good hold on off line networks, such as mega-churches and gun groups. That isn't to say, though, that these offline networks have to stay with Republicans. One thing I learned while reading Applebee's America (I loved that book, if you read this blog with any regularity, you're going to have to settle with that), is that while these networks may be 60 or so percent GOP, by not focussing on them, we're loosing the 40 percent Dem/Progressives that attend mega-churches, attend gun club meetings, etc...

Though, as the online networks spawn offline networks, we'll have a greater advantage there.

I-933: It is about being selfish

But, as a reason to vote against, not for the initiative. Goldy points to the obvious two-faced nature of Dan Wood, who would promote I-933 as a way to get the government off the backs of good folks like us, then testify that a fish processing plant was ruining the value of his rental properties down on the harbor.

That Wood would testify before the Hoquiam City council points to something: the way to argue against 933 is to say it will destroy your property values. Not because of government action, but because of your neighbors screwing with you.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Tim Sheldon gets moola from GOP

or: f*#k Mark Shattuck.

Four years ago Sheldon gave the GOP about $10,000. Now, after his victory over Democrat Kyle Taylor Lucas, they're begining to return the favor.

Citizens Alliance for a Legislative Majority, a new PAC in Washington funded mostly by seed money from the Republican State Leadership Commitee, gave $500 to Sen. Sheldon earlier this month.


Not that he needs it.

(The Republicans really considered him one of their own anyway)

If Republicans are giving money to Sheldon, who is donating to his Republican opponent, Mark Shattuck?

That's right, two people for a total of $400 have donated to Republican Shattuck's campaign, $100 less than what the State Republicans gave to his opponent Democrat Tim Sheldon.

As if how we vote is the only way parties survive

Former California Congressman and current Gig Harbor resident (boy I like him already) Burt Talcott (say that with your teeth clenched) has a very energetic defense of of current primary system in the TNT recently. Actually he seems to be defending primaries in general, and attacking the idea of an IRV system, which would do away with primaries.
Both major political parties, although often adversarial on most issues, strongly oppose IRV.
Now, why would both the Democrats and the Republicans oppose IRV when they disagree with each other on so much? Probably because they're the two major parties and fear losing their positions to lesser parties. Defending a duopoly.

That isn't to say that some Democratic county organizations don't like IRV. Whatcom county put it in their platform this year, and Thurston did two years ago.

Party workers conduct workshops for voters, informational public forums, candidate debates and “get-out-the-vote” campaigns. They monitor elections and hold election officials accountable. They sponsor conventions and neighborhood meetings to develop and explain public policy positions.

These essential functions inform the electorate in ways that the government, individuals and narrow interests do not and cannot possibly accomplish; their value far exceeds the costs of conducting primary elections.

Voting a different way won't stop parties from doing these things. Not that parties do this sort of stuff anyway. A lot of local parties don't do a lot of voter education forumy type of stuff. It would be great if they did, but a lot more effort is put into raising money for candidates, not good-for-the public education events.
Primaries enable candidates to demonstrate their political skills and permit thousands of citizens to participate in the nomination process – rather than relegate nominations to a few closeted elite.
This is the most base argument for public primaries, that if we had nominating process within the parties it would be back to the bad old days of Boss Tweed and smoke filled rooms.

It would only be that way if the parties let it be that way. The fact is it has been almost 100 years since the first primaries came along and nearly 40 since they became common. Since then communication technology has, to put it bluntly, has changed a bit. It is possible today to run a nominating convention online (as they've done in Arizona).

Defending the current voting system should not be done by saying "We're trying to save the parties." I'm all for the parties, and one in particular, but the parties' fate will be on how well they address the issues of the day and how well they encourage participation, not on how we vote.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Cool Yvonne Ward ad

Ward is running against paleo-conservative Sen. Pam Roach up in King County. She has a new ad, an imitiation of a great Rainier Beer ad that I think we all remember. It turns out to be a deeper statement on growth and where we've come from as a region.

Her ad:



The original Rainier ad:



When you look at it side by side to the original Rainier Beer ad, you can see that the same bend in the road is no longer fields, but rather suburban homes.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Sen. Karen Fraser today

I had a meeting with Sen. Karen Fraser today to go over he role as a moderator for this event.

I have to say, I probably have one of the nicest elected officials in my district, she spent a lot of time with me, and I'm happy I voted for her.

Anyway, since talking about a public forum doesn't take very long, our conversation wandered into the topic of blogging (a topic I like talking about), and it sounded like she might get into it herself. I mentioned Rep. Dave Upthegrove's Uptheblog, which I hope gives her a good impression of an elected official blog.

At least we aren't saying Sheldon can't call himself a Republican

A few weeks ago the Washington blogoshere on both sides of the aisle were all a twitter with the Sheldon v. Lucas race for the 35th LD Senate seat. Mostly that statewide Dems were trying to get rid of the Dem in Name Only Tim Sheldon.

There was a bit of sniping on the conservative side of things that the Democratic Party was out for ideological purity, not popular candidates. Which may be true. But, at least we try to get candidates we don't like out during a public election.

The Republican Party tries to fight them off even before they get on the ballot. Seattle Times in 2005:

But state Republicans also adopted rules for a Montana primary — rules state GOP Chairman Chris Vance says are now in effect — that assert the party's "right to grant permission to use the Republican name ... only to candidates who demonstrate significant support within the Republican Party."

In most cases, the rules require a candidate to have received 25 percent of the vote at the county convention. Candidates also could have qualified by submitting to the party by last Friday a large number of voter signatures, but Vance said he knew of no candidates taking that route.

Democrats have adopted no similar rules.

Friday, October 06, 2006

Pick a party primary didn't reduce turnout (depends on how you look at it)

In the second election with the pick-a-party system, voter turnout went up four points from the last non-presidential year primary election. Since 2004, turnout was down seven points.

There are probably many other factors impacting turnout than the primary system, but it seems that the only thing the system changed was how people talk about the primary, not whether they vote or not.

I'd be interested to see how many people turned in non-partisan ballots compared to partisan ballots the last two times around, and see how that compares to party ID in the state.