Saturday, May 15, 2004


Tumwater wants to renovate the brewery! I don't even drink and I'm excited about that.

Dear Bishop Sheridan,

I was moved by your words but I was also a bit confused. You said that anyone who supports abortion or stem cell research at the ballot box should be denied communion. It seems to me that you are placing stem cell research above war as an evil. Now don't get me wrong, trying to use cells that if left in a womb for 9 months might conceivably become a baby to cure Parkinson's disease or other diseases is wrong. But isn't the death of thousands, possibly tens of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of Americans a little bit worse?

Yours in Christ

Carl Ballard

(inspired by the General)


We may not have been able to influence the Bush administration on issues of war and peace. We may not have been able to make them see the light on the economy. Our protestations on Clear Skys, Healthy Forests, and Medicare were met with deaf ears. But damn if we didn't get them to keep salmon protected.

The Bush administration yesterday infuriated Northwest developers and farmers by telling Congress it expects to keep Endangered Species Act protections for 25 of 26 troubled runs of West Coast salmon.

Environmentalists welcomed the news, but some said the administration acted only because of a backlash over its hatchery proposals.

Friday, May 14, 2004

Campaign Blogs

Adam Smith's blog may be the saddest thing I've ever seen on the web. I want updates damnit! Of course that's no reflection on any other aspect of the campaign or of the candidate himself.

There are two ways to have a good campaign blog. There's the Sims campaign, whose main page is basically a collection of short campaign diaries. Nethercutt also does this sort of blog pretty well, but it's his press secretary, and from a quick look at the archives, it looks like he doesn't post himself. The other model is the Alben model: longer posts but less frequently updated. Also, take it for what it's worth that Alben has comments and the others don't.

Tent City to St. Brendan's for now

I guess it's appropriate that people who have had to move around would eventually find themselves at the Church of St. Brendan the Navigator. But hopefully there's somewhere more permanent in the future.

Eastern Washington

George Nethercutt officially kicked off his campaign today. The Seattle Times decided to use the occasion to write about the difficulty of people from Eastern Washington to win statewide elections. Maybe someone from East of the Cascades can set me straight, but I don't see what the big deal is.

There are two reasons why this is bunk. First there are way more people in Western Washington than Eastern. Naturally more Washingtonians are going to run from the West. If the spacing were even, there would be a member or two of the executive and a member or two of the supreme court elected from Eastern Washington. So none isn't way out of proportion.

Second, the region is (with exceptions) pretty distinct politically from Washington State as a whole. They are a lot more conservative. The people who make a successful run in Eastern Washington will be more conservative than those who make a successful run in Western Washington. And the latter will be better poised to win a statewide election.

So yeah, Nethercutt is probably going down in November. But it isn't because he's from Eastern Washington. It's because he's a liar. It's because he can't think of a better way to score political points than to say Patty Murray undermines the troops by demanding soldiers in Iraq be well armored. It's because he doesn't find dead Americans newsworthy. It's because he's run two ads and the only reason he has to vote for him in them is that his daughter has Diabetes. And mostly it's because he's way too conservative for Washington.

Washington, Poor Washington - Part II

Supreme Court Kills Public Disclosure Act

In a major reversal of its longstanding support of the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), the Washington Supreme Court has issued two major decisions giving government agencies broad power to deny requests for public records.

The first decision permits a public agency to require a citizen to request specific records instead of specifying records in a broad category. I'm not sure exactly how a citizen is supposed to know what records an agency has beforehand, but I suppose that is now our problem. Expect a lot of nit-picking of PDA requests in the future asking for very specific records.

To make matters worse, the Supremes also established a new "public attorney-public client" exemption to the PDA. Because nothing happens in any public agency in this state without passing through the hands of an attorney, this exemption apparently extends to any records that a public attorney might happen to see. To further confuse matters, many public agencies are run by attorneys who can presumably claim this privilege. Any agency action that is the least bit controversial or embarrassing will be passed through an attorney and then disappear forever. Expect a lot of attorney-client privilege denials in the future.

In an entirely predictable manner, each agency will pursue any priviliege claim through the court system long enough to exhaust any citizen's resources. The Supremes have thereby handed public agencies two powerful weapons that destroy the fundamental usefulness of the PDA - finding out what our own government has decided that it does not want us to know.

If you want public records now, don't bother. Even with lots of determination, you simply won't be able to afford it.

Here's a private message to the author of both opinions, Supreme Justice Gerry Alexander: Gerry, resign. Resign now. Go the Hell Away. You lost your credibility when you became the press agent for a besotted Bobbie Bridge and your avuncular image no longer fools us - you were a government shill on the King County bench and you are a government shill today. Please go away.

And to Justice Charles Johnson - thank you for justifying my vote for you.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


I for one hate stopping at the stop signs in people's driveway. But what do I know?

Things Dunn Forgot

So Jennifer Dunn had an editorial in the PI today about how the new Medicare bill is a Godsend to seniors. But she seems to have forgotten a few things. Maybe the PI had a strict word count, and she felt it was more important to have a rambling introduction. Maybe she just forgot. Maybe it's bad staff work. In any event, here's a partial list of things that might have been important for PI readers to know about the Medicare bill, as a public service.

*The backers tried to bribe Nick Smith to pass the bill.

*Most of the major parts of the bill haven't taken effect and there is already a $139 billion over run.

*The Democrats had a version that would have happened faster, ensured more seniors, been cheaper, and allowed drugs from Canada.

WCV Endorses Cooper

Well good. The main thing that Sutherland has done in 4 years has been to oversee the cuts in DNR. There was nothing for it, and weather he gets a second term or Cooper wins, it's still going to get worse if the economy doesn't pick up significantly, and if we pass any more Eyman initiatives.

Tent City Illegal?

Steve Hammond, Kathy Lambert, and Rob McKenna think so. Basically they think that the county can't use transit property for the homeless, and that it should go to churches. Now this argument would make sense if the land was being used for something right now. Or maybe if it was permanent. But really, the homeless can't stay on county property that isn't being used for 90 days because it might be used for transit sounds crazy to me. But I'm no lawyer.

The Public Disclosure Commission

The Spokane County Democrats have a nice post about the Washington Public Disclosure Commission (PDC). Check it out.

In my view, the PDC, the Public Disclosure Act (PDA), and the Initiative process are real assets for we pesky Washington Citizens who want to influence public policy. Although the PDA has become a pitiful joke, the PDC is alive and functioning and has shown courage in the face of political pressure.

Here's one example: During the last Election, Kent Mayor James White solicited campaign contributions from City of Kent employees at work. Overruling the PDA Staff's recommended strong penalty, the PDA's Assistant Attorney General reduced the penalty to a mere wrist slap. The PDC Commissioners refused to go along and levied the maximum penalty (a $2,500 fine) against White and referred the case to the Attorney General for further action. Although Christine did nothing (as expected), the Commissioners acted to show that the PDA meant something and I admired their actions.

I also learned that the PDC is not very popular with many members of the the Legislature. That should tell us something.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Meet Secretary of Education Patty Murray

Although it is only one guy's opinion, a Tennessee blogger has a list of possible members of the inevitable Kerry cabinet that includes our own Patty Murray as Secretary of Education. A wonderful idea except that we need her here working for us. Any thoughts?

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

26 Cents

Gas prices rose 26 cents a gallon last month. Most or all of us have seen it but, even as it goes by, it feels like less than that. As a sort of a side note, I saw $2.59 for premium today in Monroe. Where's my damn solar car?

Monday, May 10, 2004

We're so Smart

Or at least so educated. Almost half of all Seattle residents over 25 are college educated.

Sunday, May 09, 2004

Open Thread

So blogger just had a format change and it's going to take me some getting used to. But you can talk about anything that strikes your fancy.

A UW Dirty Little Secret

I was encouraged to read the Sunday PI editorial about the desirability of improving ties between the University of Washington and the community at large. Unfortunately, this worthy goal runs afoul of a unwritten UW policy that excludes Washington students in favor of students from other countries.

Most everyone knows that out-of-state students pay higher tuition than Washington students. This policy rewards students whose families subsidize the UW by paying other Washington taxes. Because out-of-state students also pay Federal taxes, the higher out-of-state tuition rate is also subsidized and does not represent the full cost of a UW education.

However, students who are not U.S. Citizens do not pay Federal taxes and do not qualify for out-of-state tuition rate. In this case, either the student (or her government or sponsor) pays the full cost of a UW education. Like any other business masquerading as a government entity, the UW follows the money and, particularly in Engineering and the other tedious sciences, the UW improves its bottom line by admitting foreign students at the expense of Washington students.

Although the situation has eased somewhat with the abrupt termination of the student pipeline from the Arab world, the UW needs to put Washington students first and its ongoing pursuit of cash by favoring foreign students is a Dirty Little Secret.

While I am ragging on the UW, its recent decision to deny automatic admission to any graduate of a Washington Community College is wrongheaded, poor public policy, a violation of its contract with the community colleges, just plain dumb, and should be reversed forthwith.

Wild Fires

Yikes. It looks to be a tough year for two reasons. First the environment: it's bone dry, and hotter than usual. There have already been more than triple the number of wild fires in the state than last year. If the trend continues anything near that we could be looking at another 2001, or worse.

The other reason is the impact of budget cuts. You fight wild fires by throwing lots of people at them. And since 695 and the downturn in the economy we've cut the Department of Natural Resources' budget something fierce. I don't know exactly what the situation with the Feds is (more firefighters were added in "healthy forest", but they also got more duties, and won't be the first in on state or local land), but obviously they can't pick up the entire load.

Edited to add a link.

State Labor Council Declines Endorsement

A majority of their members supported endorsing Gregoire. But she need 2/3 of the membership. But they are opposing Rossi.

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