Friday, December 29, 2006

The race for Pierce County Democratic chair

Over a few days and about a dozen emails, I've put together a short piece on the three way race for chair of the Pierce County Democrats over at Washblog. I suspect a lot of subtext going on between the candidates, they seem to say the same things, but there are differences.

In the comments, there is a start to a great conversation on IRV.

Seattle ruining it for the rest of us

Oly School Board member Rich Nafziger makes a great point about how perception and reality are different, and can cause real harm to the rest of us (I'm about two months late on this post, by the way):
Between a horribly managed school board meeting where the Seattle School Board President allowed activists to hurl racist ephitats as the Superintendent and a gutless decision to back down on a well thought out strategy to down size schools to meet enrollments declines, came a major blow to efforts to increase public funding for education in Washington State.

The next day, the board's incompetence led to the resignation of Seattle's highly regarded superintendent, Raj Manhas. The board made no effort to encourage him to stay.

Seattle School may only make up 5% of the state's 1,000,000 school children, but it's influence on public perception goes way beyond its numbers. Every board meeting gets covered by Seattle TV, Radio and newspapers which reach nearly every television set, radio and porch step in the entire state. While news of local school board meetings in Belleveue, Lake Washington or Federal Way may carry by word of mouth or from student to parent, Seattle Schools get the big and regular coverage on the dinner time TV. And we are all paying the price.
It is true, whatever happens in Seattle is covered with more intensity than any other place. Had the Mardi Gras fiasco of a few years ago happened in Yakima or Bremerton, it would have been forgotten in a few weeks. But, with live tape from downtown Seattle, it kept us going for the better part of a year.

Most school boards operate professionally, without fuss and take the education of students seriously. But, since they don't meet within blocks of Fischer Plaza, they don't merit the same attention. Granted, Seattle is one of the largest school districts, but not larger than all the districts in Pierce County I'd bet.

Anyway, its still great to have a local elected official blogging.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

George Will diary at dKos

No one else had so far, so I wrote a little thing about how Will mistook some stats from the Pew Report on Bloggers in his column from last week.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Anti-social social network: Democratic Party Builder


The fatal flaw of the Democratic Party's Party Builder social networking platform is that you can prevent people from finding you. On a list of people registered at Party Builder close to zip code 98501 only three people show up inside Thurston County.

On the Thurston County Democrats group that I manage, there are five members. Two don't have names (just "Democrat in Olympia WA") because they aren't friends of mine and they have decided to let other people know who they are.

When you sign up for Party Builder you are given the option to remain unknown to anyone else on the system, aside from your friends. This will end up killing Party Builder.

If you can remained unsearchable, unbrowsable, uninvitable, and unseen in a social network, you simply don't exist. And, if a lot of people choose not to be seen within a network, no actual social networking is going to happen. No one is going to message anyone else, no one is going to read anyone's blog, no one is going to be invited to any groups or become friends who wouldn't already be friends because of an offline relationship.

And, by the way, if you join a social network and just want to be left alone, then I have no idea what to tell you.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

5 things you don't know about me

Right back atcha.

1. I've sustained five concussions. You may know this about me actually, since I usually mention it during the "my worst injury" discussions. But, why not start a "five" list with something that has happened to me five times?

2. I once wrote a book. Not a nanowrimo book, but a honest to goodness, from beginning to end book. I only know a handful of people who have actually read it, and no copies exist anymore. I was much younger then, its painful to even thing about it. I still love the title though.

3. Pat Lennon once handed me a baseball bat. That is something else I don't have anymore. Of course, it was cracked at the handle.

4. On my first try fly fishing, I caught a sea run cutthroat trout. I haven't caught anything fly fishing since.

5. My first position on any newspaper's masthead was as the sports editor for the DSU Hornet. Note to college newspapers: Do Not name your paper after your school's mascot. It is simply confusing.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Changing the Democratic Party (in Thurston County)

I posted a couple of ideas (here and here) on some bylaw changes for the Thurston County Democrats. We're supposed to have a meeting in early January to cover whatever changes we want in the bylaws.

The first is pretty substantive, it would give a vote to any paid member who participates at a certain level. Like an earned vote.

The second is more philosophical in nature.

Many times when a PCO suggests a particular course of action, another PCO will counter that it doesn't mesh well enough with our major goal of "electing Democrats." Usually the course of action is something nice, like sending a check to the food bank or something else equally nice. While it may make the world a better place, it doesn't "elect Democrats" in the same manner that buying ad space or donating to campaigns does, so its out the door.

The sad thing is, local political parties used to be about more than "electing Democrats." It used to be that local parties and Democratic clubs were "political organization one day in the year; ... a charitable-benevolent fraternal organization three hundred and sixty five."

I think we should get back to something more like that, an organization that is good by being good. Let the various campaign committees be campaign committees.

More on this kind of thinking at Blue Tiger Democrats.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Responses to my city's movies

Responses from my city to my email (kind of repeated in this post below). They seem pretty open to the idea, but of course tech questions abound.

Even if they don't do it as the normal way of doing things, it would be great to supplement the paid movie postings with additional free ones.

Mayor Mark Foutch:
Emmett, those look like great suggestions to me and we'll ask our staff look into them. As a 65-year-old perpetually three technology generations behind current apps, I'm continually amazed at the explosion of new options out there. I'm glad we have both a great professional City staff AND a citizenry expert in subjects from Art to Zoology, and willing to share their expertise with us.

Thanks a lot.

Mark Foutch
Mayor
Cathie Butler, the city's communications manager:
Hi, Emmett - wanted to let you know I've passed your email along to
Shawn Ward who is the City's IT Manager. This is way beyond my
knowledge of systems. FYI, the Granicus is more then video streaming;
it's also the system we use to produce Council meeting minutes and post
both the minutes and Council agenda documents so they are connected with
the streaming video. Cathie
Councilmember Joe Hyer:
Emmett -

I think the tech folks got forwarded your email to respond ... but I do know a couple of things that explain it better - it wasn't just video streaming we got with grannicus, it also does the minutes in an easier way, which has cost us thousands in overtime for staff to do in the past ... and links the minutes with the video.
We also have to have guaranteed level of service for citizens, and the free services can't offer access and reliability...guaranteed.

But I think the real kicker is the time savings in MINUTES preparation --- the added bonus was the ability to video stream...

See ya soon,

Joe

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The movies my city produces

Something like this I just sent to the city council:

This year the City of Olympia spent $20,000 (following a $45,000 set up fee) to stream videos of our city council meetings, along with some other videos, online. This seems to be a waste of money to me.

Google Video, or some other similar free service, seems like a better option.

Yesterday I cut out of one of the streamed videos and educational portion on the city's budget (available here). Instead of wading through the streaming function on our city's website, I decided it would be better that this portion of the movie available in a much simpler format.

TCTV actually posts many of its videos online at Google Video. The advantage, other than cost, to use such a service is that once the movies are up, they can be shared. Bloggers can embed them into their own sites and the links are much easier to email than the current service.

All of the video files the city produces could be available online in totally public and shareable format, rather than the expensive and proprietary fashion they are now. Even if the city keeps it contract with the firm it uses the stream the videos, they should also upload movies to places like Google Video.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Baseball and Japan radio show

They haven't scheduled a date yet, but Radio Open Source is digging on my idea for a show. Baseball and Japan.

Originally miffed that the hated Red Sox were going to get their hands on the primo Japanese pitcher this year, I started reading The Meaning of Ichiro and became even more enthralled. Written by the same guy who wrote You Gotta Have Wa, it brings the idea of Being America, Being Japan and Being Baseball to entirely new places.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Irony of that last post

Here is something funny to mull over while you chew on that post below.

The Washington State Democrats (the elected chair and I assume the staff he hired) don't like the suggestion for a blog or any other cluetrain type stuff.

Wes Beal would be the lead staff on any techie stuff like that, as technical director of the state party.

Here is Wes Beal's blog. He raises money through ActBlue, something the state party doesn't do on their own site.

Here is his post about getting the job with the party. Strangely the posts sort of peter out after that. Maybe there is a blogging kibosh I don't know about up there?

Cluetrain not for Washington Democrats

Willis Reed from a comment at HA yesterday:
You’re still ticked off that there isn’t an offical Wa Dems blog? You’ve had that in your craw since April? Really? Aren’t there bigger things to worry about? Remember, those that don’t blog tend to underestimate their usefulness, those that do blog tend to overestimate their usefulness.
Yes, I still have that in my craw, though it isn't as simple as an "official state party blog." Truth be told I could go forever with the state party never having a blog. I'd be as happy as I'd ever be without one, because that sort of band-aid approach to the internet isn't at all what I'm talking about.

(By the way, I was going to title this post "Cluetards," but that, I thought, wouldn't be very nice. Actually would be insulting. But, I do like that word, so I'd thought I'd mention it).

Willis was responding to my linking to this post at Evergreen Politics, which describes an idea Ken Camp had last spring to cluetrain the state party by establishing, among a ton of other things, a state party blog.

In addition to Dwight Pelz's initial rebuff of the idea, I think that we had an election this year pretty much killed any chance Ken's ideas would be heard. As Willis would probably say, there were bigger things to worry about.

And, well, right now, there aren't those big things to worry about for a little bit. So, why not worry about getting the party on the cluetrain again? We have just over one year before our Presidential cycle caucuses bring tons of new people into the fold for at least a few hours, why not be prepared to give them something to hold onto?

This wasn't something I was going to get over. This is exactly how I got interested in politics as participant, rather than a cynical observer. Some campaign "got it" in a very deep sense, and hooked me.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Belltowner screams a good scream on Pelz

Belltowner was booted from Washblog for using naught words to defend chairman Dwight. So, a few days later he posts this, makes fun of a man's birthmark and making a bunch of unfunny stuff up.

I would love to say that Will KellyKelley-Kamp's (aka Belltowner) love song to Pelz makes any sense, but to me, it falls flat. But, if that is what he wants to do, more power to him.

Monday, December 11, 2006

My rambling diary

The headline seems to make little sense, but I really liked the piece written by a New American fellow on California politics.

Friday, December 08, 2006

Cool House LD maps that I made into a movie

I took Chad Lupkes' great maps of the Washington State legislative districts and made them into a movie.

The Myspace War on Better Donkey

I've recently become a front pager at Washblog, so my other front paging duties at the other local political blog I was attached to, Better Donkey, is pretty much over.

In looking back at that site, which is pretty much empty of recent of posts from anyone anyway, I noticed some action at my MySpace for Civics Education idea. That post comes up when folks search "Ban MySpace," so it has been getting some comments about people engaged in the "Oh, MySpace is causing the demise of civilization... Oh, No its not" debate.

One feels MySpace, above other social networking sites like Friendster, Facebook, or Facebox.
I am with you on Banning My space. I have a 17 year old daughter whom has been on that site for over two years. Everytime she gets on it she gets moody and crabby. People leave horrible messages, when she puts comments on it she gets attacked for her own opinion. Also I believe you are asking for trouble when you belong to that site. Ever watch Dateline???
Crabby teenagers, huh??? Attacked for your opinion online??? Anyway, this comment sort of relates to my original idea, that a MySpace like application could work to teach not only civics, but the practice of civics. If you can't take people disagreeing with you, then, probably your best bet is to stay out of the conversation.

But, then again, people should be nice, over all.

One teenager and another unnamed commenter seem to get it:
And just because kids talk on the compuer doesn't mean they talk in person as well. Myspace and the internet just opens up a person and allows them to be more comfortable with their friends. Being in person might make a kid feel awkward, ever think about that?
So basically if you're going to ban myspace... opt to ban the internet itself as a whole as well because they're wuite similar... if you've ever visited myspace you'd see it's a smaller version simply better for comunication.
Pointing out the irony of arguing against MySpace on a website:
ok fair enough myspace isn't the greatest but it's very hypocritical if you put point on this site, because you are using the web to sate your point just like people on myspace. Myspace is a great way to show yourself to anyone in the world plus many bands that are now headliners at masiive gigs like artic monkeys used myspace to get where they are! so give it a break
See you later BetterDonkey!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

I finally weigh in on the libertarian/Democratic thing

I know, you've been wondering "where does Emmett fall in this entire libertarians are going to start voting Democratic thing?" Well, here you go. Its a diary at Left in the West because I thought that since I was inspired by Matt Singer's take, I should respond on his site.

Monday, December 04, 2006

My notes from tonight's reorganization meeting

Here are my notes from the reorganization meeting for the Thurston County Democrats and (surprisingly) the LD 22 Democrats:

Bob McLeod, this is where the political career of Bob McLeod began. Presented the last of his campaign funds to the county party. Anne Hirsh swears in the PCOs.

Usually the chairs and vice chairs of the LD 22 and TCD are the same, since 22 is completely enclosed within Thurston County. This year, though, we elected a separate chair, vice-chair.

Speaking of returning money, Paul Pickett (who won a very close race for PUD)

Agenda is adopted so we’ll handle bylaw stuff next month.

Paul Berendt nominates John Cusick for chair. No other nominations for chair, but Paul still made his nomination speech. Thruston County really is gifted with a fabulous chair in John Cusick. He’s professional, respectful of the grassroots. We’re trying very hard to get people involvd who haven’t been involved before. We want to do a much better job reaching out to the outlying districts. Time is ticking and we’re getting older, and we really need to recruit and train younger people to hold leadership positions in the party.

First Vice Chair. Current first vice chair Debby Pattin nominates Elizabeth Shepard. Elected by acclamation.

2nd Vice Chair. Roger Erskine nominates Jerry Muchmore, who served as campaign services committee chair this last time around. Elected by acclamation.

Secretary. Jeff Holcumb, the current secretary nominates Christine Garst, who was member at large on the executive committee and coordinated the sunshine fund. Elected by acclamation.

Current treasurer Jane Johnson nominates Helen Wheatley, who worked on campaign services. Elected by acclamation.

Debby Pattin nominated for state committeewoman. Elected by acclamation.

Karen Van (Tumwater City Councilmember) nominates Roger Erskin as state committeeman. We really need to make sure the PCOs are connected all the way up to the state committee. We need to be active in those races (in 2007) so we’re building our party up to 2008. Elected by acclamation.

Linda Lombard moved that we approve our $20 dues again for next year. Approved by acclamation.

Approval of the banking institution. Jane Johnson suggests we maintain accounts at the state employees credit union.

Cathy ?? the state committee woman from Mason County (who is running for the 35th) brings up the topic of a possible change in the way the state committee is made up, warning against the possibility of taking away the LD state committee positions. Apparently a move is afoot to by urban state committee people to take positions away from the LDs.

Mike Rechner gets up to thank everyone. I’m not going anywhere, I’m going to be a thorn is someone’s side for the next two years. I’m probably going to go again.

Jeane Marie Christensen, who lost the LD 2 Rep race thanked everyone. The TCD was the single largest contributor to her campaign and she was elected 1st Vice Chair.

22nd LD meeting.

Jim Cooper nominated for LD chair. “He’s young bright and articulate.” Was a veteran, served in the army. Teaching leadership and team dynamics. We make sure the resources are there when people need them, keeping the playing field level for all the LDs in the county. Elected by acclamation.

John Cusick nominates Debby Pattin for 1st Vice chair. Elected by acclamation.

Helen Hunt nominates Russ Olson for secretary/treasurer. Elected by acclamation.

I nominated Hillary Hunt for state committeewoman. Elected by acclamation.

Zach Smith gets nominated for state committeeman. Elected by acclamation. It looks like I’m going to be the senior member of the 22nd LD. We need to get new people involved, we need to get tons of new people involved. This time the West is going to be very important. Elected by acclamation.

Thurston County Democrats reorg is tonight

I'm pretty sure I'm voting for Roger Erskine and Debby Pattin, who are the only two folks that I've heard from that they're actually running for something. I'm assuming that everyone else on the executive board is also running (maybe not Linda Lombard, but then again haven't heard).

That is the most annoying part of this process, hardly anyone has really said if they're running. I'll end up voting for a full slate, but I feel weird about going into a meeting tonight voting for people when we could have been talking about this for weeks.

We have a blog we have a listserv. Why not use them and make this an open process?

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Sarah has a blog, awesome

Here it is.

She gets her first inbound link before any outbound ones. How funny.

Sarah is an former co-worker and cube neighbor of mine, who is one of those people who always assumed would have a blog, but she never actually did. Glad she has one now though.