Monday, November 30, 2009

Disgusting anti-police graffiti (ELF out on the westside)

Good God:

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And:

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ELF
.

I'm a graduate of Evergreen State and so is my wife and many, many of my friends. If you're a supporter of Evergreen State, take a close look at this because this is why people hate our school. And, our town for that matter.

I'm not a big fan of Scott Roberts, but I'm willing to give him a few bucks to replace his sign, quickly.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Rhenda Strub's response to people thinking she's a big meany

Via email, her response to a constituent who asked her about the incident:

I appreciate your concern. There is much more to the exchange between Mr. Segal and myself than is apparent to the public. I have a history with him. He does not like me and I hold him in low regard as well. I think he is a man who engages in politics as if it were a blood sport and I have little patience for that. I also believe he came to the first meeting after the election to gloat because some of the people he supported won. His comments were entirely politically motivated and wrong. He was wrong on the facts and he was wrong in his demeanor. I called him on it. For that I will not apoligize. Rather he should apologize for using an issue as important as how much money the City of Olympia spends on social services as a ploy to dig at Joan Machlis and Doug Mah. This is an issue very dear to my heart. I want to spend more money on the poor and hungry. Mr. Segal almost certainly knows that. He also knows I have advocated for two years to build a dog park. He coupled those two issues in his remarks to insult me along with spewing his venom for Joan and Doug. We don't deserve that sort of treatment from anybody and I just won't sit quietly and take it from Mr. Segal who doesn't even live in Olympia but comes to our chambers regularly to engage in his sport.

Olympia spends $3.76 per citizen to fund social service agencies as recommended by the Human Services Review Council (HSRC--which is the interjurisdictional board that has, for the last 18 years, has been the place we all come together to provide some relief to the homeless and hungry). Last year, Thurston County, eliminated its funding to HSRC. This year, Commissioners have indicated they may be able to spend $50,000. If so, that would put them at 36 cents per citizen. That's not all county citizens either, that's just the ones who live in areas unincorprated by any city. Stephen Segal is such a citizen. He lives in unincorporated Thurston County. I really believe that if his concerns for the poor were genuine, as are mine, he would be leading a public effort to get Thurston County to increase its level of social service funding. Who better to fight for it than a person who enjoys political engagement and has strong speaking skills? Why would you not do that if you really cared about poor and hungry people more than you cared about hammering a political opponent you had just bested in an election? But, there he was coming before the Olympia City Council after election day to wag his finger at us. We are people who work hard for the City of Olympia and are already doing much, much more than anybody else to meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens. His words were repugnant, his motivation transparent, and his manner disrespectful. I won't apologize for responding to him as I did.

As for Ms. Gates, her concern for Mr. Segal's welfare may have been genuine. Perhaps she really sees him as a victim and thinks him incapable of fighting his own battles. I gave her the benefit of the doubt and did not respond to her remarks. I can't imagine why you think I would owe her an apology. I did suspect at the time that she was using the podium to launch her 2011 election campaign, but I kept silent on it. Mr. Segal was in the chamber long enough to watch Ms. Gates make her comments. He did not speak for himself but stood in the back glaring at me while his advocate, who was visibly nervous, spoke on his behalf. Ms. Gates strikes me as a woman deeply committed to her community and I respect her for that. But she is wrong about the interaction between Mr. Segal and me. I was not unprofessional, I gave him all the respect he deserved, and I will do it again if he brings his game back to the Olympia City Council Chambers.

On a positive note, I look forward to working amiably with my new colleagues on the Council. I have already met privately with two of them and have pledged to do my best to help them be successful in their new roles. I have offered to meet with the third and hope to do that soon. The citizens of Olympia deserve our best effort, not more political gamesmanship. I only wish everybody understood that.

Sincerely,

Rhenda Iris Strub
Olympia City Councilmember


It does sort of support my original point, that Rhenda may have been pointed with her original comments. But, if Segall was in the room when Janine was talking Tuesday night, he should have stood up for himself.

I'm just going to throw this out, but maybe Rhenda should bring cookies to the next city council meeting. Just a suggestion.

Lets not talk back to people, so they can feel brave enough to talk to Rhenda Strub

Janine Gates' thoughts about how Olympia city councilmember Rhenda Strub can be a meany sometimes are posted up at Olyblog early this moring. Here's the important part, I'd say read the whole thing too:

...I feel compelled to comment on Councilmember Strub’s inappropriate tirade against a Mr. Steve Segall who testified before you last week. It doesn’t matter what he testified about, but in this case, he was giving his viewpoints, with the best of his knowledge, on homelessness issues and dog park funding.

Ms. Strub, as we know, it is hard enough to get people to come to city hall and get up the nerve to speak publicly about anything. Your verbal attack toward him personally, and against his testimony, as I watched it live from home on TCTV, was shocking and unwarranted.

I would like to thank Councilmember Joe Hyer for immediately expressing his opinion that Mr. Segall had every right to speak to city issues - if he hadn’t, one could think that Ms. Strub spoke for all of you.
Here is audio of the actual exchange.










Ok, maybe Rhenda was being a bit pointed, but you can't at all argue with her logic.

Olympia does spend a lot of money on the homeless and a lot more than the local government of which Mr. Segall is a citizen. He has every right to come into Olympia or Lacey or Tumwater to give his thoughts (and he's obviously not shied away from coming into Olympia).

So, yes, for Pete's sake, let's let Mr. Segall commute in from the suburban sprawl out in the county to give his public comment. And, if he's way off base, have a city council member correct him (maybe in a more friendly tone). But, don't pretend that is was some major sin. Being active means having people disagree with you.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

How to download Olympia city council videos

Spurred on by a report of some fun stuff at the city council meeting last week (turned out to be a yawner, but that's for later), I went to the city website looking to download the video. There's actually a feed for a podcast, but content hasn't been put on that particular feed since 2007.

There's also a roundabout way to download the videos via the stream their published on.

But, the most direct way is to poke around for an RSS feed that the city's contractor publishes on the video front page. There is no direct link to it, but if you're using Firefox, you click on the radio logo in the URL bar, and its the first one in the list that pops down.

Here is the direct link.

From that feed, you should be able to find a link to a .wmv file that is published in no other place on the city's or their video hosting contractor's website. The files are usually more than 200MB, but if that doesn't bother you, you can download a useable file to edit and repost as you see fit. I mean, if you live in Olympia, you're paying for it, so you might as well use it.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Here comes Olympia Power & Light

Which is a pretty cool name for a newspaper, especially one that strives to "bridge the gap between big media coverage and blogs." Which you will do how exactly, Matt?

Well, here are some friendly ideas:

1. Be like the Portland Sentinel. Put your content online before you print. Of course, hold some big feature stuff back for the print edition, but since the paper is only coming out "fortnightly," (links to pdf) you can keep stuff rolling by putting it online. The Sentinel calls itself a "neighborhood news forum," which totally embraces the bloggy spirit of the organization

2. Nice name, now you need a killer logo. The paper is sort of plane Jane right now.

I'm thinking of something along the lines of the logo used by Andrew Rasiej when he ran for public advocate in NYC a few years back.



Which was of course based on the old TVA logo.

3. Bring in voices from across the blogosphere. I was thinking of something a few months back, putting together a local blog digest. Taking what stuff I could pull from Olyblog, Jim Anderson's various efforts and other locally focussed blogs and putting it in a downloadable pdf. Maybe someone would run off copies and leave them around town.

I never got around to it, but it seemed like a good way to bridge the gap between the local blogosphere and folks that want a printed piece to hold on to.

4. Super happy someone is picking up this project. Ever since the Sitting Duck (which I had no love for anyway) left, there's been a need for something like this. Glad is seems pointed in the right direction too.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Is running a primary opponent against Baird (or any other Dem who voted against health care) a bad idea?

In the last week or so, I've heard some amazement about Rep. Brian Baird's vote against the health care package in the house. This is amazingly similar to the shock that local Dems felt over two years ago when Baird announced he was going to support a Republican plan in Iraq.

Baird ended up facing a somewhat weak opponent who couldn't rally enough support to win the primary or a vote of Precinct Committee Officers to win the nomination.

If he ends up facing a much stronger Republican (he smoked his opponent in 2008) or more than token Democratic opposition, its interesting to see folks reactions. You would think that a city council-member from the most liberal corner of Baird's district would rip into him, but no.

Says Joe Hyer (sorry for the long cut and paste but this came over email):

I have heard a lot in the past two weeks about our Congressman, Brian Baird...most of it negative. And I have to say, I have been a little bit surprised. I support health care reform- check that, reform doesn't go far enough, I support a health care revolution. I think it should be universal, accessible, and cover everyone.

I also believe that we will have NO WAY to achieve this or any other goal (strong education, a social service net, a healthy environment, infrastructure, etc) if our economy fails, or our government goes bankrupt. We are seeing TRILLION dollar deficits at this point ... when just 5 years ago, we were criticizing those who caused deficits of a few hundred million. The long term economic costs of a deficit this size are monumental. Couple that to the unfunded mandate of health care for our veterans returning from the War, social security, and our falling apart infrastructure ... and the federal budget becomes FAR more significant of an issue than any other we face.
If we cannot finance solutions, then we cannot solve ANY of our problems in this country.

And the federal deficit and national debt or massive, massive problems that will stifle growth, eliminate our chance to solve problems, and potentially cause an economic collapse on a global scale. You can only print money for so long before someone asks if it is worth anything. Yes, most of this debt was created under republican Presidents ... but that's neither here nor there at this point- it's our debt, and we have to deal with it.

I have not heard anyone disagreeing with Brian Baird's REASONING on the health care vote. Let's know HOW MUCH IT COSTS before we approve a package. Sure it's only estimates ... but if we are going to increase the deficit with this package, perhaps it creates a stronger argument to scale back our foreign military commitments in the next two years. Perhaps it indicates we need stronger revenue streams to offset this. The real issue- the DEBT and size of the DEFICIT, is going to be underlying ANY initiatives the president wants to accomplish.

Over the last 30 years, the data shows that Democrats are fiscally conservative on spending and taxes, and Republicans are building up huge debts and deficits. So why is it that the perception in this country is that republicans are fiscally conservative, and democrats are 'tax and spend'. It's 100% incorrect based on the data...but perception is almost always created by things other than facts and data. The reason, I think, is that on key issues, we don't get the full analysis on costs, then the Republicans use it against us in the next election cycle. We cannot afford to have this reputation moving into the future. We ARE the party of balanced budgets and fiscal responsibility, and we need to keep proving it our citizens.

I have also heard negativity towards Brian Baird because he didn't 'support the president'. I have to say, I don't remember Obama asking for 'yes men'. In fact, I remember quite the opposite. I remember a campaign where differing opinions were valued, where dissent is a part of coming to the best solution. I remember an intelligent campaign that suggested all points of view should be counted and considered, because that's what open dialogue and debate are about. The last president was all about 'yes men' and falling into line when required...and I don't remember those years as ones history will look kindly on. I think Brian supports our President, supports change ... but ALSO believes strongly that Congress should only pass good legislation that works, and that is fiscally responsible.

Hence his fight for adequate time to read a bill before voting on it. Hence his argument that we should know what something costs before we pass it.

I have known Brian Baird for more than a decade, and consider him a friend, a leader, and an intelligent public servant. I have disagreed with him on issues, and defended him on others. I have lobbied him for more than 5 years on health care issues and I know one thing for certain- he is committed to health care reform, to lowering costs and increasing access, and to ensuring everyone has coverage. I didn't read this Health Care bill, and its thousands of pages. I don't know what it will cost us, or its impact on the deficit. That's why I have Brian, to be my expert. The citizens of Olympia don't want to know everything about sewer policy or zero waste...that's why they hire me, to be their expert. In the same way, I don't know the details of the health care bill, and whether or not there's a fatal flaw in the details. In the press release from my Congressman, I read that we did not yet know the full costs and budget impacts of this proposal, so he was unable to support it. If they gave less than 3 days before a vote, I would ALSO have expected his no vote, because he is committed to a good government process on all legislation.

It seems to me we need good process in DC...it's been lacking for a long time. Openness and transparency, good fiscal analysis, sound legislation- this is what we, as democrats, value most. I am not sure, in the end, if I agree with Brian's reasons for voting against the bill. I am not sure how I would have voted if I were in his place. I do know that he is a strong advocate for our district, for the environment, for the economy, for our communities, and I know that he is committed to being fiscally responsible, open and transparent, and restoring the citizen's faith on how Congress conducts business. I also know he listens...having changed his mind myself on several issues over the years.

Given all that, while I may disagree with him from time to time, I am still proud to say Brian Baird is OUR Congressman, and he has my support.

Joe Hyer
TCD treasurer and Fiscal Conservative


I have a problem with Joe's point that Olympians don't want to know about waste policy. Actually, I do. I may not read it, but I want to know its there for me to read at some point. I do expect Joe to know more than me at any given time, but maybe that's his point.

He basically says he understands Baird's reasons for not voting for the bill.

And, now down in Utah, a former U.S. Senate candidate, Pete Ashdown, gives a long list of reasons he won't be challenging a local Democrat who voted against the bill:

1. A Democrat who is more to the left than Jim Matheson could probably easily win a primary, maybe even settle this in convention, but in the end would lose the general election. I can think of no other county that exemplifies this more than Carbon County. This was traditionally a Democratic stronghold in Utah, but has gone Republican over the past decade. In 2006, Jim Matheson received 3,658 votes in Carbon County. In spite of canvassing Carbon County extensively and knocking on a few thousand doors, I received 2,255 votes. Conversely, Orrin Hatch rarely visits and received 2,408. I don’t see how deposing Jim Matheson would endear me to 1400+ people who otherwise voted for Senator Hatch.

...

3. In spite of Matheson’s votes, he is still warming a seat on the Democratic side of the aisle. 2010 is going to be Republicans trying to capitalize against President Obama’s agenda. Although I haven’t ruled out running in 2010, I don’t want to be contributing to the inevitable losses the Democratic party is going to face. If I was running instead of Matheson, the national GOP would pour resources into the race not because they care about Utah, but because they want their majority back.

4. In 2006, the Deseret News ran a poll on favorability ratings of Utah politicians. Matheson came out #1, higher than then Governor Jon Huntsman. Having him in office is a good thing for other Utah Democrats trying to get elected.


I think Ashdown's reasons for not taking on Matheson are analogous to the same situation for any local Democrat and Baird. Losing the 3rd District would mean that folks that currently vote Democratic in Grays Harbor, Pacific and other coastal areas (not Lewis or rural Clark counties) are giving their vote to a Republican. These are traditionally rural Democratic areas that could arguably start trending Republican at any point.

Losing the 3rd could mean more than getting a Linda Smith back, it could mean shifting the political landscape in Western Washington.

And, I get this impression that people who aren't all that politically motivated have a good impression of Baird. If he's the standard bearer for Democrats in Southwest Washington, then its good for downticket Democrats.

Jim Anderson live blogging an education forum

This quote from Jim's live blog gives you a great view of the sort of legislators we have locally. See if you can find the coastal caucus Dem, the suburban Dem, the rural Republican and the leadership Dem.

From the 5/17 blog:

Kathy Haigh: "I think it's going to be short." "Another $2 billion down, and no significant funding coming from the feds.... It's going to be significant cuts.... We should all be keeping a close eye on [the] health care issue." If the feds stepped in to fund our "Apple" health care for kids, that'd help. ECAP is the "absolute wrong place" to cut from. I-728, 732 are (still) at risk. Levy equalization funds won't be touched. Higher Ed--expect another tuition increase, even letting schools set their own tuition rates.

Brendan Williams: "At the risk of sounding like a liberal Democrat..." The legislature could have raised taxes, but "the votes were bought to keep that from occurring." "I did not vote for [728 and 732] to be suspended." Cutting programs from K-12 education is "the pricetag for political careerism." "It's time to meaningfully distinguish ourselves, with all due respect, from the opposition."

Gary Alexander: "Unlike my friend to the left, I think our first challenge is to see what we can do to reduce the budget. Government will not pull us out of the recession." "We can't continue to cut around the edges... We have to go back and talk about what our priorities are: public health, public safety, and public education.... This may mean the elimination of entire services... that can be replaced by the private sector." "We have to basically produce results that will be sustainable on a long-term basis." I'm not going to vote for a policy that doesn't have any funding."

Sam Hunt: For years this state has kept the crazy old aunt in the closet... our broken tax system.... We have a "crazy tax system." "The sales go down and the caseloads go up every damn time you look at it... We've cut all the edges, we've cut all the low-hanging fruit." "I have some hope that the feds will help with Title I, and health care."

Friday, November 13, 2009

Why should Olympia support the Economic Development Council?

A little while ago, following some bad press that the Economic Development Council was behind on writing a big plan, I wondered whether the EDC should broaden its view to include representatives beyond elected officials and business owners.

I still think that, but I'm also wondering this morning, given Olympia intent to cut funding for the regional body, whether Olympia really needs the EDC. The economic destiny of Olympia seems to rest more closely to the economic fate of the rest of the state. And, despite the bad economy, we don't seem to be doing all that poorly (being rated above even Seattle in job creation).

But, let me just say this. Even the president of the council should know that economic conditions can have more to do with way outside the community actions and little to do with local boosterism and planning.

So, do I see a purpose in the EDC. Well, sure. Maybe in the same sense that the Thurston Regional Council serves a purpose. That its a good idea to have people paid to think beyond the borders of our city. But, that said, I still think the folks doing the viewing should be broader than business folk and elected officials.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Lacey election results: I don't care who started it, you're both in trouble!

My coworker recently on Facebook:
My new thing is I will not pick "winners..." in "She hit me - he threw something at me" fights. "Everybody loses!" No T.V. (which they already have two days of that a week) Tuesday EITHER!!
The city of Lacey and the Lacey Fire District got into a very public fight and both got sent to their room.

All three challenged incumbents for city council positions in Lacey were shown the door last night. As Ken Balsley probably correctly asserts, the results had a lot do with the engagement of fire department union. I'd also point out that this was the first time in a lot of years that three good candidates squared off against three incumbents in Lacey.

What should also be noted is that the one fire commissioner in the Lacey 3 was also booted out in favor of a guy that said he would cooperate with the city. While as far as I can tell Gene Dobry is short on specific remedies for the stalemate between the city and the district, he sure doesn't like fighting:

The past two levy failures for the fire district show a lack of confidence by the citizens, as well as an economic situation where taxpayers can’t afford to pay more, Dobry noted. He believes the fire district needs to work harder to live within its means while providing the best service to the people.

“Although litigation was prevented, the contract with the City of Lacey will end a year earlier than planned,” Dobry said. “Then what? Does the district rely on county tax revenues entirely? Does the city start its own fire district? These are likely to be lose-lose solutions and not worthwhile endeavors for Lacey-area citizens who need consistent protection.”

Dobry is speaking out for the people on uncontrolled spending and ineffective leadership. He is seeking the office to ensure the best interests of the people will be served. He lives in Lacey with his wife Rachel.


And...
Current leaders must accept responsibility for failed policies, overspending and the disharmony created with its city partner. I offer fresh leadership with a plan to restore confidence in the district. Introducing my “R” plan: revive the volunteer force, renegotiate with the city, and refuse to overspend. If you agree, I ask for your support and your vote.
So, while I'd say the fight between the district and the city had a lot to do with the elections results, there were no winners. Both the city and the district were punished for not being able to come to agreement.

Bullies on being bullied ( Roy and Valerie Hartwell on the west side of Olympia)

So, were Roy and Valerie Hartwell able to get into the private, no mean people who disagree with us allowed, celebration for R-71 going down in a ball of flames?

It's one thing to try to make a run around state disclosure laws and act extra careful to make sure no one disagrees with you to your face on election night. But its something completely different when your own campaign takes on the exact same tactics that you claim to be afraid of.

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Report: anti-71 protesters bully on the westside

We were on our way to dinner tonight, and thought it was strange that dozens of "No on R 71" folks were out in force on the westside of Olympia (a pretty liberal part of even Olympia). But, after reading this it make a lot of sense.

Via facebook:

Action Alert: We need more sign-wavers next 2 days to ensure our safety in numbers:

Olympia's sign waving rally on Sunday the 1st (Black Lake Blvd & Cooper Point Rd) was overtaken by bullies late in the afternoon. The rally went peacefully from 12 - 4 pm. At 4 pm, Pastor Roy & his wife Valerie appeared, (local leaders of the anti-gay "Reject" campaign who are based in Dupont but lead a Church in Lacey). They had summoned 40 - 50 young men and a few young women who bullied us out of their way by jostling us and blowing painfully loud air horns close to where we were already standing. They appeared to be almost entirely Russian immigrants from one of the Tacoma churches involved in the anti-gay campaign. I asked Pastor Roy & Valerie to request their recruits to stop blaring the air horn in our ears and not to bully our sign wavers. Valerie blew me off and Pastor Roy just walked away. Ironically, last weekend when both sides were at the Lacey rally, our side made it a point to be courteous, and I even intervened in a few situations where Pastor Roy thought our people were being aggressive.

This was a pretty scary encounter. Most of our people left, including one father with a toddler. Two organizers (including myself) strongly encouraged the handful our supporters still there to leave in pairs to be safe.