Monday, April 28, 2008

Sandra Romero nominated by Thurston County Democrats

Sandra Romero was nominated earlier tonight by a vote of 77 to 63. Its a sham and a shame, but its something we do now.

I got there late, but here are my notes from tonight. I'll hopefully get some time tomorrow to distill my thoughts down. Ignore the typos please:

Turns out I wasn't too late, walked in about 7:30 and John Cusick was still getting through the "why exactly we're doing this again?"

Guy Hoyle Dobson made a valient effort. Weird, I usually disagree with anything Guy has to say, but he made the point of the weird difference between a nomination and an endorsment.

Another lady named Virginia, a PCO, made the point that the state party shouldn't be telling us what to do. We made a resolution from the floor that we wouldn't endorse before the primary during the convention and now it looks like we're going the other way.

Commissioner district 1, Cathy Wolfe nominated by acclimation. I tried to vote no, but it went quicker than I expected.

A few minutes of clearing up everyone in District 2 had the right colored cards. That's how we do credentials in Thurston County, you lift up a different colored card depending on whether you're a PCO, member (and for tonight) where you live. Second district PCOs have blue cards, District 1, pink and PCOs, smaller green cards. So, to keep that straight, I have a pink and green card. The people seeing the real action tonight have blue (district 2) and green (PCOs).

One of the things we didn't really talk about tonight is that someone else could have (theoretically speaking) stood up and stolen the nomination from Cathy, Sandra and John.

John Halvorson talks first. "Who's ready to vote Democrat!?!?" Yeaaaah says everyone. Then he goes into a pretty basic schpeal:

He's experienced, he's been elected before, he's lived here a long time. Almost every county official in this courthouse has endorsed me.

Sandra and I like each other today, we'll like each other tomorrow and tomorrow we'll still be Democrats.

Romero speaks second.

Legislative experience, working in the joint Transportation committee. We need more than roads, we need alternatives.

We need to make sure we don't become everywhere else USA. This is why I support Sandra, she worked so hard with the livable Thurston Campaign. She isn't just running on experience or who she knows, but rather what exactly she's going to do.

Circle name and sign on the back. Not a secret ballot.

Ironically, Fred Finn got the real endorsement/nomination whatever of the Thurston County Democrats by getting campaign services.

Sandra wins the nomination. What was the vote?

I want to thank both candidates for putting up with this rushed and unanticipated thing we had to do tonight.

We voted not to report the vote.

What's likely going to happen tonight (Thurston County Dems nominating mess/sham)

Olympian, PolitickerWA, and Politics is a blood sport are all writing about this incredibly cynical mess.

Though PIABS says the Olympian does a good job explaining things, Brad Shannon actually trips up at a few places:

Halvorson and Romero both say they’ll abide by the results and do the best they can. And later, if both survive the primary to meet in the general election, both can seek the formal endorsement of the local party. If I understand this right, both could be endorsed.


Thurston County Democrats don't endorse. Though we do nominate (for some reason) we don't endorse anyone. We do offer campaign services, and often times (even in non-partisan races) we offer campaign services (which could mean money) to more than one candidate in the same race, but we don't endorse.

He did get this part right:

Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court let that primary become the law — while allowing for future challenges of the runoff primary system if political parties can show voters are confused or parties are damaged.

And that’s what this crazy nomination process is all about: preserving party standing to sue if they don’t like the results after the Aug. 19 primary.


We're doing this tonight not for the sake of democracy, but to sue. We could have done the right thing, but we're not.

So, what we're going to end up doing is nominating either Halvorson or Romero. And that candidate will not actually gain much in the nomination. Probably, though, the public reaction to the nomination will damage the winner more than the loser.

I'll be voting in the District 1 nominating election and will vote no (though we only have one choice) simply because I don't like what's going on.

Friday, April 25, 2008

King County board votes to study IRV

IRV folks have been pushing for a charter amendment in King County for the past few months, similar to the path taken in Pierce County. The charter review commission moved to suggest the county study IRV instead.

Not really a win, but not an all out loss either. Looks like Pierce County is still the pioneer. This fall with the Top Two/IRV taste test will be interesting:

Via email:

Hi folks this is to let you know that last night we won a modest but significant victory on the road to opening up our voting system to more voices and choices through using Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), also known as Ranked Choice Voting (RCV) in King County. The King County Charter Review Commission, a group of citizens appointed every 10 years to recommend changes in the County's Charter, voted 16-1 to ask the King County Council to form a citizens task force to investigate whether we should put an initiative in support of IRV for County Elections of the ballot in King County. The recommendation is for the citizens's task force to be convened in January 2010 and to make a recommendation about the advisability of an IRV initiative by the end of the year.

Of course, we would have preferred something much stronger, we were urging the commission to recommend adoption of IRV right away due its many advantages, including ensuring the election of a true majority, encouraging greater voter turnout, reducing negative campaigning, allowing people to vote their hopes rather than their fears by eliminating the "spoiler" factor, and saving pubic dollars by combining the primary and general election into a single contest.

Still, the commissions' vote was a significant victory for electoral reform, their initial recommendation had been to essentially do nothing- take no action of IRV and to simply wait and see what happens in Pierce County where IRV will be used for the first time this year after a successful pubic vote. Our public testimony affirmed the fact that IRV has been used successfully around the county and around the world for decades and demonstrated broad public support for a system that offers much greater choice. The fact that IRV had more support during the Comssion's pubic hearings than any other issue by far was recognized in their discussion last night; clearly it was what turned the tide in favor of the commission voting to give IRV more specific consideration. About 30 people testified during the 4 public hearings, including a large number of young people, and dozens wrote letters as well. Thanks much to all of you who participated!

There is much more work to be done, including educating the members of the King County Council about the merits of IRV. We gained a lot of support and educated a lot of people during the public hearing process. Let's savor this small but significant victory and keep our poitive momentum going to have an effective citizen's advisory group that will recommend putting IRV on the ballot in King County.

Thanks
Joe Szwaja
Vice President Instant Runoff Voting of Washignton

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Binns-Swigger Loop Rd. and Archie Binns


Archie Binns was born near Port Ludlow, but spent a good part of his life near Shelton out towards Arcadia. I didn't notice it until now, but that area (east of Shelton) still bears the mark of Binns' family name.

His time out in Arcadia land is detailed in "Roaring Land," especially the chapters "Stump Farm" and "Steamboat Era."

Binns Swigger Loop Rd., Shelton WA:


View Larger Map

I have no idea who these Swigger folks are.

What we should have done (sham nominating conventions)

Instead of putting on sham nominating conventions across Washington State, we Dems should have done something different. Well, we shouldn't have sued to overturn 872 in the first place.

But, we could have become more relevant on our own term type organizations, rather than forcing our way into relevancy. Rather than writing my point all over again, I'll just quote myself:

The most blistering attack on the Top Two is that it hurts parties, and therefore hurts democracy. I'd agree that parties are good for Democracy, but the kinds of parties that are built for closed primaries are not the kinds of parties people are seeking to join. In essence, we need parties that are built for people that tried to get their friends to vote a certain way and put bumper stickers on their cars, but didn't attend a political meeting.

As politics is becoming less traditional, moving out into the world of personal relationships, so do the parties (or at least the Democratic Party does, I don't really care what the Republicans do).

I like the ideas of the Blue Tiger Democrats in this regard. They say the local parties should be as interested in civic engagement on the local level as they are with winning elections. The more people see the Democratic Party itself as a force for good, the way you see the Shriners or the Lions, and less as an organization that sues to overturn a popular initiative and win elections for the sake of winning elections, the better.

Granted, the Top Two primary is gone and was obviously unconstitutional. But, I would have loved to see the party that thrived under those conditions. How would you have built a party, with broad participation, if you had an open primary system?

An Obama alternate delegate from Thurston County wrote this blistering attack on us (political party types) after going through the caucus process:

And, more to the point, I was constantly on the verge of asking why a party that self-styles itself “Democratic” completely fails to choose its nominee in a democratic manner. The caucus system itself is already designed to disenfranchise more people than necessary. [While I acknowledge the limitations of a traditional primary vote, it at least has the advantage of not turning away those with disabilities (the caucus I attended was decidedly wheelchair-unfriendly), those with jobs that require their presence on Saturday mornings, and those who are not particularly interested in sitting around for several hours to cast a vote.]

...

But that’s the wrong impulse. The right response, after learning more about how fucked up the political system in this country, is to want to limit as much as possible the amount of sway political parties have. I want the Thurston Democrats and Republicans to have as much political power as the Thurston County Economic Development Council or the League of Women Voters. In other words, take the political parties out of politics. Let the people decide with as few or as many filters as they want.

Limit as much as possible the amount of sway political parties have. Local parties with as much power as the EDC or League of Women Voters.

This isn't death, we can live and thrive in a world like that.

That's what is happening anyway (see this link again) and the lawsuits against the Top Two are the reaction of an entrenched political bureaucracy against changing times.

People already are engaging in politics in ways that are contrary to how political parties operate. If we want to be relevant, we should stop trying to force people into closed primaries and meet them where they're at.

Orting lost its newspaper, so they made their own

After an out of town owner closed down Orting's newspaper, the community came back with their own. Orting News is a new hyperlocal news website that is filling the space left open when the Orting Gazette folded.

In addition to just being a news website, it does the right thing by letting Orting community-members produce their own news. One of those community-members is a former Gazette editor:

Longtime Editor of The Gazette, Dannie Oliveaux will be contributing articles to Orting News, with a special emphasis on Orting High School Sports.

"We asked for Community assistance on Orting News and one of the first calls we received was from Dannie." said Rich Carr. "With everything he provided at The Gazette, his contacts with the kids and with the coaches, and his knowledge of players, schedules and what it means to the community, he raised his hand almost immediately!"

"Nominating conventions" are baloney, B.S., horse puckey

Thurston County Dem chair John Cusick (a great guy I don't envy right now), explaining to one particular PCO (who passed on the email) the difference between the need to "nominate" a candidate in a contested local Dem race and why that isn't an "endorsement."

In reaction to the Top Two primary, the state party is forcing local organizations into a sham process so they can set up a lawsuit:

With regard to the Thurston County Democrats, this simply reaffirms our long-standing policy with regard to endorsements: we do not do them before primary elections, but we may provide campaign services support.

This does not affect the "nominating convention" meetings we have scheduled for next Monday. While endorsements are an expression of further support, nominations propose someone as a candidate. As I have continued to state, our nomination of one candidate among two we support does not in any way diminish our support of both candidates. (emphasis mine)

We must provide the name of a nominee for each county partisan position to the Washington State Democrats in order to preserve the asserted legal right of Democrats to select their nominees. If we do not do so, the State Party Chair will simply select one for us. (emphasis mine)

The candidates involved have mutually agreed to do this quickly with minimal fanfare. The nomination is simply to preserve a legal right, it will not constitute an endorsement or any other elevated form of support.

My first thought is that we don't nominate anyone. If the state party is forcing us to make a meaningless nomination, then let them make the meaningless nomination.

These nominating conventions are a sham process to put forward an "official" Dem candidate for the ballot so we can sue to overturn Top Two after the election when that nomination was recognized.

Monday, April 21, 2008

5 Thoughts on "Project Franchise"

The so far succesful MyFC experiment in England is spawning other experiments, most recently Project Franchise (project runway?).

Other than a column in the NY Times, I can't really find anything else about this group:

Enter Joe Scura, the mind behind Project Franchise, a group with a mission to buy a sports team and let the fans vote on every decision.

Yes, every decision. Next time Fox wants to advertise its hilarious new cop-and-dog buddy flick behind home plate, it may have to poll the fans.

“Something like this has been a long time coming, but the Internet has finally made it feasible,” Scura said. “Fans are more than just piggy banks/hot dog receptacles.”

For $5, fans can buy a vote and act as the collective general manager, deciding on everything from personnel to team colors.
1. Good idea not to ask for money up front. That wouldn't have gone anywhere.

2. Pick a sport, but you'll probably end up with baseball. Or basketball, but I hope baseball. See #4

3. No top level pro league will allow this to happen to one of their teams. Not because they're too smart, but because they're not smart at all. Mark Cuban won't be able to buy the Cubs, the San Diego Padres couldn't be given to the people of San Diego and the pro-sports cartel (really, I'm not throwing that term around) won't let a group of thousands of anyones buy a team.

4. Think indy league baseball or the CBA. Both have a bit of a reputation and track-record. Both are kind of feeder leagues for the top levels (so you know there is talent there somewhere), but both are also independent of the controls of the top level leagues. So, they just might go for something like this. A CBA franchise in Seattle might be nice. I hear we have an arena available soon.

EDIT: Looks like they're on this track:

We aren’t completely insane. While we’d love to raise enough money to purchase a team from the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, or NHL, we realize that this is a bit of a stretch. Realistically we are trying to acquire (at least a majority stake) in a minor league or semi-pro sports team (Independent Baseball, NBADL, ABA, AHL or Arena Football). These leagues offer flexibility that the big leagues don’t, and give the fans the ability to get involved for a fraction of what we already spend on fantasy football or video games. We have already had productive discussions with some of these leagues and they have been very receptive of our approach.

5. "Project Franchise" might be a nice name, but it is also ironic. See #3 again, but it refers to the cartel-like economic system that North American sports leagues operate under. Rather than being "clubs" in a league, they are "franchises" in an almost single entity. This is the system that gives the league (other owners) so much say in terms of who can actually own a franchise, making it impossible for Project Franchise to own an NBA/NHL/MLB/NFL property.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Lou Guzzo goes a bit too commie with Sonics

Lou Guzzo:
They are joined by two other Democrats, Senators Maria Cantwell and Senator Patty Murray, who are also very critical of the Sonics “robbery” but are doing nothing about the N.B.A. owners’ action. If they were really concerned, they would immediately introduce legislation in Congress to take away the owners’ sports dictatorships and order that all pro-sports franchises should belong to the cities and their sports fans, whose dollars at the turnstiles make pro sports possible.
And...
With that kind of a law, only the voters and sports fans of cities could determine whether a basketball, football, baseball, hockey, or any other franchise could leave town. Every major city in the U.S. should have the right to own franchises in all pro sports and to force them to leave if they wished.

Under such a law, the cities would not own nor operate the teams. That would be done by eligible owners or organizations, and the city governments should have no say in the day-to-day operations of the teams. Doesn’t that make a lot more sense than the present stupid tugs of war the pro leagues now condone?
What would be much easier and much less radical proposal would be to simply allow non-profit or fan-owned teams. There is only one top level professional team in the United States that could be considered "fan owned."

Here's a quick rundown of what's wrong with our current organization of pro-sports:
First, overturn the major leagues' prohibition on fan ownership. This will likely require Congressional action. Representative Earl Blumenauer's (D-Oregon) Give Fans a Chance Act (HR 590) would accomplish this goal. The bill would forbid any of the professional leagues from prohibiting community ownership, and would withdraw the leagues' antitrust privileges if they did so. It also requires teams to give their communities 180 days notice of proposed relocation, during which time the community can put together an offer to retain the franchise. Lastly, it requires that leagues consider factors such as fan loyalty and whether the community is opposed to the move before approving relocation.
So, an effort like Share Liverpool or A.F.C. Wimbledon could ever happen.

Democratic Party Nominating Conventions in Thurston County

Questions and Answers from Thurston County Dems on our nominating conventions (via email):
Why Are We Doing This?

In a nutshell, because we have been directed to do so by the Washington State Democrats (WSD). Following the recent US Supreme Court decision on the "top two" primary, the WSD legal team determined that all Democratic county party organizations in Washington State need to consistently identify a nominee for all partisan county positions in order for the WSD to maintain its asserted rights for Democrats to select their nominees.

In Commissioner District 1, this is unlikely to pose any particular difficulty, since we are only aware of one candidate running as a Democrat, incumbent Commissioner Cathy Wolfe. However, in Commissioner District 2, we have two candidates running as Democrats, Jon Halvorson and Sandra Romero. Since we support them both, we appealed to the WSD to be allowed to nominate two candidates in cases where we have two known qualified Democrats running for one position. We lost our appeal and are now simply complying with the legal requirements.

We believe it is best for all Democrats if this is done quickly and without fanfare. To continue to argue and debate this amongst ourselves will do nothing more than divide us and create unnecessary and unhelpful media attention.

Who Decided to Do This?

Since the US Supreme Court decision March 18, there have been many discussions and meetings among local parties and the WSD to determine what to do. Our TCD Executive Committee met to determine our best course of action following the final decision of the WSD Executive Committee April 3 that instructed all local parties with contested Democratic primary races to conduct nominating conventions prior to May 23.

After lengthy discussion and consideration of various alternatives, we decided the best course of action is to convene the PCOs in District 1 and select a nominee. Were we to fail to do so, Mr. Pelz would simply pick one for us.

What Will Be the Effect of this Nomination?

Mr. Pelz will submit the names of the nominees throughout the state to Secretary of State Reed indicating that they are the candidates who are approved Democrats for the primary ballot. We already know that Secretary Reed will not identify them as such on the ballot. The WSD will then determine whether and when to file for injunctive relief based upon the denial of its rights of association (i.e., ability to determine who represents its party). I suspect this would not occur until after the results of the general election, at earliest, and that their legal team will be seeking cases where the candidate elected was clearly not a Democrat, yet the voters thought s/he was.

In our case, the nomination will have little effect, if any.

Is this an endorsement?

No, per long-standing TCD policy, the TCD does not endorse candidates prior to primaries.

What Will We Do on the 28th?

You will each receive a ballot, the value of which is weighted by the number of precinct delegates you were eligible to elect at your precinct caucus. (This is per State Party rules with the intent to represent the varying numbers of Democratic voters in different precincts. I have attached a table of those weights.)

We only know of one Democratic candidate (Cathy Wolfe). If there are not others, Cathy may be nominated by acclimation.

If candidate speeches are necessary, they will be limited 5 minutes maximum for each candidate.

You will mark your ballot indicating one choice. (Per State Party rules, there is no vote splitting -- each ballot shall be cast for one candidate only.) You will sign the back of your ballot. The ballots will be retained for 30 days in case of questions or need for review.

There will be no secondary speeches and no questions from the audience.

The votes will be tallied by a committee made up of members from other Commissioner Districts. The candidate who receives the most weighted votes, will be declared nominated and his or her name will be submitted to Mr. Pelz within 24 hours.

Will There Be Any Other Nominations on the 28th?

We will conduct a nomination for Commissioner District 2.

Legislative District 22 may also conduct nominations at a separate meeting the same night.

Again, it's best to complete this as quickly and positively as possible, with minimal fanfare. Party unity is more important than whoever's name ends up being forwarded as our nominee.
A couple of things I take from this:

1. There is a difference of opinion between the state and local organization (possibly more organizations? I'm sort of out of the loop lately) on the necessity and wisdom of these conventions.

2. At least in Thurston County, this is a foot dragging sort of thing and is only being done to be ok by the rules of the state party so the state organization can end up suing the state in December when the election violates the party's right to assembly.

Basically: look we held these nominating conventions (which aren't endorsements, btw in Thurston County) and the state still didn't tell anyone that we nominated these guys. Talk about a violation of assembly!

Recreating a birds eye view of Olympia


I have a reproduction of the above in my living room and a friend and I were talking about the possibility of recreating the same view in today Olympia. Our conversation centered around driving around the Eastside finding the view.

Well, at mass this morning I realized I probably didn't need to do that. To Google Maps and Earth.

Basically, I drew a line down the center of the above image and pegged a couple of placemarks in Google Maps. Then, drew a line between them reaching up to the Eastside and exported that line into Google Earth.

Viola. There seem to be a handful of spots where someone could recreate the shot on the Eastside.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Longer Sandra Romero (than the Olympian let on)

Through the cloud of email comes a summary of what county commission candidate Sandra Romero (endorsed by me) sent to the Olympian and what the Olympian actually wrote for this article.

It was a normal side box summary of the candidate's positions, which took some input from the candidates themselves. Apparently the nuances of Romero's positions were muddled.

My answers to The Olympian questionnaire before they edited them.
1. Land use, hitting a balance between growth and economic development.

Growth is inevitable.... surely so here in Thurston County. We must do a much better job of guiding development. Indiscriminate 'economic development'... indiscriminate 'growth'... make almost all of us 'poorer'. The community, as a whole, is unquestionably ‘the loser’ when it comes to indiscriminate 'rapid growth'. Given Thurston County's location, at the ever-growing southern edge of Metro Puget Sound... just any kind of growth doesn't need to be courted here... growth is going to locate itself here, regardless of whether we court it or not. To the extent we court growth, it should be quality growth.

The challenge is for us is to retain our unique character and not become “everywhere else USA”

We need to become a community that so loves and honors what's left of our local natural treasurers that we give ourselves a local government that will assertively, consistently, act to preserve that which cannot be replaced. Thurston County must come to grips with the vulnerability and perishability of its remaining natural environment. We can't possibly preserve an adequate portion of natural Thurston County by simply maintaining a few County Parks and purchasing a few development rights out in the rural areas. I am a charter member of the Nisqually Land Trust and on the Advisory Council of the Capitol Land Trust and know there is not enough money to purchase all that is necessary to protect our drinking water, air quality, restore Puget Sound and protect our rivers and streams. I think we can do a better job in implementing conservation market strategies, like transfer of development rights, to preserve rural lands. We must come to realize that the only viable pathway to avoiding 'sprawl' and the permanent loss of irreplaceable natural settings in Thurston County... is a stand-up Thurston County government that will champion that objective, stick to that principle, and not waver in the face of short-term pressure for more tax revenues and the unrelenting pressure tactics of the "build everything everywhere right now” usually from out of county special interests. When it comes to tax burdens that result from 'new construction', we must require 'new construction' to pay for its proportionate share of increased public costs.
Olympian version:
ROMERO: Thurston County must come to grips with the vulnerability and perishability of its remaining natural environment.

I am a charter member of the Nisqually Land Trust and on the Advisory Council of the Capitol Land Trust and know there is not enough money to purchase all that is necessary to protect our drinking water, air quality, restore Puget Sound and protect our rivers and streams.

I think we can do a better job in implementing conservation market strategies, like transfer of development rights, to preserve rural lands. We must require new construction to pay for its proportionate share of increased public costs.
Romero version on county budget shortfall:
Thurston County government has some extremely serious financial problems, which are not being dealt with adequately. A really major problem is a $4.5 million budget shortfall. Not ALL of Thurston County government is in extremely serious financial shape, but certain parts of it... very vital parts... are in extremely serious financial shape. 2008 is the last 'quiet year' before these financial troubles become no longer postponeable.

Services that are financed by the County's 'general taxes'.... (the general County property tax, and the 'general' portions of the County sales tax)... are most certainly headed towards great financial difficulty in the years just ahead. In 2008, Thurston County government will consume several million dollars in ONE-TIME, non-replaceable reserve cash... merely in order to make it through 2008 without dramatic cutbacks. It's possible (but not advisable) that Thurston County government could do something like that again in 2009... but doing so would be very damaging, in the long-run... because the very limited one-time cash reserves of the County are just about exhausted. Meanwhile, we hear the constant drumbeats of the needs for actually increasing&nbs p;expenditures of general taxes... primarily for the County’s Law and Justice services, which consume more than 3/4ths of total general taxes now. 2009 and 2010 will be pivotal, crucial years for Thurston County government services financed by general taxes. This community needs resolve and action now from the County Commissioners.

Amidst the difficulties, there are also opportunities. We've got to discover and implement every possible restructuring move that can help sustain the County government through the very tough years immediately ahead. Implementing some of the strategies of the December CTED (Dept of Community, Trade and Economic Development) report, aligning department budgets with results, enhancing budget/policy analysis capabilities, integrating budget priority settings, more frequent budget updates to the County Commissioners and a strategic plan can all help in the long run. Should cuts need to be made, they should be done with knowledge and extreme care to assure top priorities are maintained.
Olympian version:
ROMERO: Thurston County has a $4.5 million budget shortfall; 2008 is the last "quiet year" before these financial troubles become no longer postponable. We've got to implement every possible restructuring move to help sustain county government. Aligning department budgets with results, giving more frequent budget updates to county commissioners and having a strategic plan are several steps. Any cuts should be done to maintain top priorities.
Romero's answer on "Public safety, crime prevention, enforcement, offender treatment."
Thurston County government devotes every available dollar... and more... to the ongoing struggle to find money to fund the ever-increasing costs and service-levels of public safety, law and justice. For example: the County's General Fund is tasked with financing two essential categories of public services: (1) law and justice (the sheriff, the jail, the courts), and (2) the County's several other elected public service offices (the auditor, the assessor, the treasurer, the commissioners). However, over the past 15 years (1993 to 2008)... ALL of the County's increases to general-tax-financed public services have gone to ONE type of Count y public service: law and justice (public safety). Thurston County's biggest financial problem is: the inability of growth in general tax revenues to keep pace with the ever-increasing costs of the ever-expanding size of County 'law and justice services'.

One key to this is more sensible land use policies. Our county’s development patterns have resulted in neighborhoods spread all over the County, putting a massive stress on both law enforcement and street maintenance. By concentrating this development into the urban growth area, we can cut the cost of providing infrastructure dramatically.
Olympian version:
ROMERO: In the past 15 years, all of the county's increases to general-tax-financed public services have gone to law and justice. We can keep pace with this by concentrating development in the urban growth area to cut costs to supply public-safety services in the outlying areas.
Romero on "Roads and transportation."
The County's road maintenance operations are primarily financed by the Road District property tax levy, which is paid by residents of unincorporated areas. Road construction, what there is of it, is primarily financed by grants from the state and federal governments. Thurston County's Road Department does a good job with the limited financial resources that it does have. Our local State legislators do their best to assist in funding for roads projects in Thurston County. The Department needs to redouble its efforts to leverage technology... to ensure that we get the most out of the limited financ ial resources that we have for roads and transportation.

Roads are essential to our county’s livability but we must plan carefully, design our communities to minimize the number of trips needed, and invest our limited budget in key projects that help people get from home to work, to school, to shopping, and to their other community activities.

As County Commissioner, I will promote a stronger role for the county in improving regional transportation, both within the county boundaries and between Thurston County and major destinations outside of the county, particularly to the north and the south. I'll advocate to the state for improved freeway facilities, for more park and ride facilities, and for improved regional transit and rail opportunities.
Olympian version:
ROMERO: I would promote a stronger role for the county in improving regional transportation, both within the county boundaries and between Thurston County and major destinations outside of the county. I would advocate to the state for improved freeway facilities, for more park-and-ride facilities and for improved regional transit and rail opportunities.
Romero on :The new county jail--building, staffing and operating it. "
Among the dozens of issues facing Thurston County, it's likely that no other issue presents the levels of difficulties, dangers and risks.... as those posed by this issue. Thurston County government does not have the financial resources to 'operate two Jails'... doesn't have 'em now, won't have 'em next year, or the next. Nonetheless, the laws that require the County to incarcerate criminals make no accommodation for the 'we can't afford it' problem. We must jail criminals; we have more criminals than can fit in one Jail, that's why a second jail is being built. But the County does not have the financial capacity to operate two Jails. It's the quintessential "rock and a hard place" situation. What Thurston County needs is a Board of County Commissioners who wi ll find the courage to make the difficult choices... choices that haven't been made yet.... choices that must be made soon.
This problem is really emblematic of the most fundamental problem facing Washington county governments today: the missions and responsibilities of County government, long ago established and persisting to this day... are not supportable by the classic tax revenues of the County government. And Tim Eyeman’s budgeting by initiative has further aggravated the problem. Thurston County needs County Commissioners who are up to the daunting challenges and fights that lie ahead... immediately ahead. It's going to be very tough, to get done what must be done in Thurston County government, over the next four years. The time for action has come; continued postponement will really injure the fabric of Thurston County government by deterio rating the ability of the County government to deliver needed public services.

Phasing the construction of the Accountability and Restitution Center (ARC) is a good first step. But revenues will still be needed to staff and operate the structure. All possibilities for support revenues must be put on the table for consideration or we may follow some other communities that have not been able to staff and operate their brand new facilities.
Olympian version:
ROMERO: Phasing in the construction of the Accountability and Restitution Center is a good first step. But revenues still will be needed to staff and operate the structure. All possibilities for support revenues must be put on the table for consideration, or we may follow some other communities that have not been able to staff and operate their brand-new facilities.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Save the Sonics, Howard Schultz

The CEO of the quintessential Seattle company should step in and save the oldest living Seattle sports franchise, now that he has a chance:
The emails that have come to light today show that the effort to keep the team here was not made in good faith. Not only were Bennett and his co-owners talking amongst themselves about moving the team as early as April, they reached out to Oklahoma City officials in June.

...

"However," he added, "the contract here was between Bennett and the previous owners--who might not want to set aside the agreement."

And there's the issue. The aggrieved party here is Howard Schultz and his team of owners. They may be peachy-keen about how this whole thing has gone down.

...

"The fact that Bennett and Company seemed not to have been acting in good faith during the negotiations of the contract (not just during its performance stage), however, raises other issues as well. It means that his lack of good faith goes to the very formation of the contract--because it vitiates [ed: law talk for 'invalidates'] the quality of consent given by the other side... Misrepresentation and fraud make the contract invalid."
Howard, you screwed up. Now that other locals want to own the team, its time to make good.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

What is a Sounder? I am a Sounder. We are Sounders

I was going to make this point in this post, but I decided to start a new one because I think this point stands on its own.

There are plenty of actual definitions of "sounder," but none that actually make sense for the name of a professional sports franchise. Over at the Goal Seattle Museum, a story from 1974 asks the question "what is a Sounder?" without actually answering it.

So, lacking a better definition, and using as the image of the franchise a symbol that is more geographic than anything else, a Sounder is someone from Puget Sound.

What is a Sounder? I'm a Sounder. We are Sounders.

Space Needle as image (the post 90s sports franchise in Seattle)

Maybe its fitting that at a time when we're bidding a long goodbye to the Sonics, a team that by name is tied to our industrial Boeing past, we're also saying hello to the new Seattle Sounders FC, which use the Space Needle as their central totem.

The Sonics were like the Detroit Pistons (car industry) or the Green Bay Packer (meat packing), they referred back to a past that was relevant when the team was named. Not so much relevant now. Since the Sonics, we've had the Mariners (sailors, we still have sailors, don't we?) and Seahawks (an imaginary sea bird).

While the Sounder are the second oldest surviving name in Seattle pro-sports history (Mariners and Seahawks came after the 1974 original Sounders), its a name vague enough to stand rebranding. And, it was rebranded in a very interesting, post-Microsoft, 1990s Seattle way.

Read this section of Selling Seattle for my back up. If you are marketing Seattle, and you need a quick imagery reference to tell people that you're in Seattle, you use the Needle. You don't use Mt. Rainier (not enough people know that mountain from any other mountain) and you don't use ferries or just a shot of the Sound. Might was well be UP Michigan.

So, as the Needle is an image of Seattle, the nature of the team, its identity is sort of open for definition. What is a Sounder, anyway?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Argument for Top Two died today

If we had the Top Two back in 1996, Ellen Craswell would not have made the general election and only a few people would be writing about her today.

1996 September primary results:

Gary Locke D 287762 23.65%
Norman Rice D 212888 17.50%
Ellen Craswell R 185680 15.26%
Dale Foreman R 162615 13.37%
Jay Inslee D 118571 9.75%
Norm Maleng R 109088 8.97%
Jim Waldo R 63854 5.25%
Pam Roach R 29533 2.43%
Nona Brazier R 21237 1.75%
Brian Zetlen D 6152 0.51%
Warren E. Hanson R 4886 0.40%
Bob Tharp R 4825 0.40%
Jeff Powers SWP 3742 0.31%
Mohammad H. Said D 3007 0.25%
Max Englerius D 2837 0.23%

Seattle Sounders FC



Oh yes.