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Saturday, February 05, 2005

Just in Case You Missed it 

Goldy and Andrew have some good analysis of Friday's legal stuff down at horse's ass.



DNC 

Back! I got an email from Joel at The Between. He did the leg work asking locals how they'd vote for DNC chiar. He got a response from Sims. The contact info has been deleted, but other than that, here it is.

Joel - Thank you for contacting me regarding the upcoming election of the new chair of the Democratic National Committee. I appreciate you taking the time to voice your opinion and share with me your input on the future of the Party.

I am pleased to be a member of the Executive Committee of the DNC and look forward to representing you at the upcoming meeting. I am looking forward to attending the meeting and hearing first hand from all of the candidates for the chairmanship. Until I have a chance to meet with my fellow members of the National Democratic County Officials organization to discuss our votes, I am unable to release our votes for Chair of the DNC.

However, I am very clear about what I am looking for in the next chair of our party and pleased to share with you my thoughts.

My vote will be cast for the candidate who most clearly articulates a platform of support for the basic tenets of the Democratic Party. My candidate for Chair is staunchly pro-environment, supportive of FULL civil rights for our GLBT community, strongly and outspokenly anti-war, pro-choice, committed to helping those most vulnerable in our community and dedicated to ensuring equality for all Americans.

Our Party cannot sacrifice our basic beliefs - from choice to advocating for the poor to the realization of full civil rights for all Americans - out of fear or frustration. We have always been the Party of inclusiveness and advocacy. I won't cast my vote for any candidate who doesn't also share these beliefs and who isn't willing to get out there on the ground and really work with Democrats across this country.

I want you to know that I will be voting for a candidate with a progressive agenda committed to retaining the basic Democratic principals that define us and I think you will be pleased.

I look forward to the great things ahead of the Democratic Party and to working with you to ensure more Democratic victories here at home in Washington State as well as all across this great country of ours. I am excited about our future as Democrats!

Again, thank you for taking the time to contact me regarding this important
event.

Ron Sims

-----Original Message-----
From: Joel Caris
Subject: DNC Chair

Paul, Edward, Karen, David, Ron and Patricia--

First of all, I want to thank you for asking for feedback on the DNC chair issue. It's great to have a party who is responsive to the little guys--all the regular members who work their hearts out to support Democrats. I sensed that responsiveness when I worked for Deb Wallace in November and I'm glad to see I wasn't wrong.

As for the question at hand, I would like to voice my support for Howard Dean for DNC chair. I became involved in politics because of Dean. I had interest before, but his presidential campaign is what finally caused me to become active, which led to me working to help elect Deb Wallace in this past election.

I believe Howard Dean will oppose the Republican agenda, and I feel that is crucial at this time. Dean will speak out, be consistent and upfront. He knows that we have to stay true to our convictions, be unafraid to call ourselves Democrats and to fight for what we believe in. Doing all of that is the only way that we can regain control of Congress and the presidency.

Furthermore, Dean believes in competing in all 50 states and is very focused on building up the state parties. I think that's a smart strategy and I would be willing to be all of you do, as well. He is also an excellent fundraiser and is incredibly popular with the grassroots. My story of becoming politically active because of Dean is a common one. He will engage and inspire the grassroots, which is what will help Democrats win elections across the country.

Due to all of the above, I believe Howard Dean is the best choice to be the head of the DNC. Again, I thank you for asking for my input.

Joel Caris



Friday, February 04, 2005

Open Thread 

No posting until Sunday edition.



Simple Majority 

The constitutional amendment to make it a simple majority to pass a school levy passed the house education committee unanimously. I do like this quote by Shay Schual-Berke:

"Why is it easier to pay for a stadium than it is to let voters put more taxes into their schools? Why should a landslide win of 59% for a politician be a crushing defeat for a school levy?" asked Rep. Schual-Berke. "We should end the tyranny of the minority, stop thwarting the will of the majority, and victimizing our children. Let's pass school levies with a simple majority vote. It's fair; it's simple."



Case Will go Forward 

The Republican claim wasn't dismissed out of hat. Congrats to the Republicans; your judge shopping paid off. But you'll still almost definitely lose in the end.



In Other Legal News 

An I-297 hearing that I don't understand the legalities at all. It's a federal/state dispute. The judge is U.S. District Judge Alan McDonald for those of you who that matters to.



Ruling is Coming 

Ok, this I do like. Judge Bridges said he was going to make both sides explain their arguments to the people in attendance. And then he said this:

He said he was going to "make some pretty important rulings" today, and he asked spectators to refrain from clapping or talking, "because No. 1, we're in a court of law and No. 2, in our country and our state we operate under what is called the rule of law."



Frivolous Asbestos Lawsuit 

Well if it hurts Halliburton, of course it gets in the State of the Union.

The Halliburton Co. will pay $30 million to about 120 families of people who were exposed to deadly asbestos while working in shipyards, construction sites and industrial plants in the Pacific Northwest or serving on Navy ships that were serviced here.

...

Charisse Dahlke of Bremerton lost her husband, Dale, to mesothelioma in 2003. She said he used to talk about his days working as an electrician at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, where the asbestos used to insulate ship boilers and pipes was everywhere.

"You could see it floating in the air," she said yesterday. "He even remembered some of the guys using it for snowball fights."



Thursday, February 03, 2005

Estate Tax 

I didn't even know we had one. I hope we can reinstate it, now that the state supreme court has undone it on a technicality.



Border Radio 

Er the Idaho border. The Spokane County Young Democrats have info on local community radio.



Counterweight 

David Goldstein and I have been having a bit of an email conversation on how the lefty local blogs can have a counterweight to the evil brain trust that thinks losers deserve to win. So if anybody has any ideas, I'd love to hear them.



Fanciful Monorail Suggestion 

I'm sure this will go over like a lead balloon, especially because it's (a) somewhat silly, (b) not well fleshed out, and (c) coming from someone who doesn't live in the city. But that said, here's my proposal.

The monorail routes should be named after Seattle area poets. This doesn't have to be a official thing, and lord knows, I'm not lobbying the SMP or anything. Just say, "I'm taking the Roethke to the M's game."

The main problem (other than the fact that it won't work) is that I can only think of 2 people who are worthy. I'd have the green line be the Theodore Roethke line. It's the most important, and its existence ushered in more lines.

The other one would be naming the gold line the Richard Hugo line. But that's just because it's the only one that goes down Capital Hill.

The original map calls for 6 lines, so I'm already a third of the way there. Any suggestions for the other 4 lines (other than red, blue, etc) would be wonderful. As would anyone who does live in the city suggesting it to someone elected.



Parential Notification 

What stilwell said.

It probably doesn’t matter to a scared 17 year old how many supposed safe-guards and court appearances are built into a law, they will just be scared out of their wits, and desperate people do desperate things. The Columbian blew this issue, even if it was a reasonable-sounding editorial.



virtually all Enron employees knew of and participated in scams with nicknames such as “Get Shorty” and “Death Star,” 

Well there you go. A new round of Enron tapes as Snohomish PUD tries to get out of it's its contract. As usual Maria Cantwell is on top of this.

“How is it fair that Snohomish County ratepayers can have to continue to pay for Enron’s manipulations?” asked U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., who participated by phone.

Cantwell said she would use the new evidence to push federal energy regulators to invalidate Enron’s claim that the PUD owes it money.

“Why should Snohomish PUD be the deep pockets (to pay for) the manipulation that went on?” she said.



Solicitor General 

McKenna appoints Maureen Hart, who I've never heard of either, to be the new state solicitor general. But here's what the biz journal says:

Hart has been with the AG's office since 1978, and is currently senior assistant attorney general. She also has been chief counsel to the state auditor and the Office of Financial Management, and also served as chief of two divisions within the AG's office.



Gregoire in The Stranger 

She has a nice interview with Sandeep Kaushik. She talks about lots of stuff. The most interesting bits are on:

Dealing with the deficits:

I guess you should be the first to know. I was expecting that I would put out a budget here in the next couple of weeks. That's not my intent now. And the reason for that is I think the projections [indicate] that there's going to be additional revenue.

Having said that, I do these intense budgets, I mean three hours this Saturday and Sunday. And it hurts, because I'm one of those people who believe there are people out there who need a helping hand… It's very difficult to trade off this terrible decision from that terrible decision, but that's the position I'm in. I've asked my people to come up with a no new revenue budget. I'll have to see what that looks like. If I can't live with myself in the mirror when it's done, that'll be something else. I will not compromise the infrastructure we have in this state.
Gay rights:

I want the court case to do whatever it needs to do, I don't want discrimination in this state of mine. I want the civil rights bill to come through the legislature and arrive at my desk. I am very focused on that. I believe Washington ought to proudly stand up and say we do not believe in, we do not accept, and we will not tolerate discrimination.



Audits 

Passed in the house.



Limiting School Choice 

Seattle schools are looking at limiting the amount of choice students will have in selecting a school. It's one cost cutting measure being proposed.

At the forums, staffers will ask for the public's thoughts on two possible alternatives:

• All students, with a few exceptions, would be assigned to a school close to home, but they also could request one or more designated alternative schools or special programs within a wider region. Transportation would be provided to any of those schools.

• The second alternative is identical to the first except that students also could have the option of seeking enrollment at a limited number of so-called "regular" schools.



Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Hans Dunshee and Progressive Majority 

A while ago, Progressive Majority Washington asked it's readers about what issues they thought were most important. Hans Dunshee gave them a nice response.

To ensure fair voting for our next election cycle, I hold election reform as a high priority. I am a supporter of Instant Run-Off Voting and "Voter Verified Paper Ballots," and will support a revised system that best standardizes how votes are tabulated, ensuring that all votes that are legitimate, are counted.

...

Your healthcare comments were very insightful, and I'm looking forward to tackling the ideas you mentioned. Just last week the House passed a Mental Health Parity bill (HB 1154) that would have insurance companies include coverage for mental health illnesses. There are a number of bills regarding the importation of prescription drugs from Canada, and the House Democrats have set a goal to extend coverage to all of Washington's children by 2010. We are approaching our goals one step at a time.



Hastings to Chair Ethics Committee 

Yeah he's a tool, but he's not quite as bad as the Repubs could have done. He did eventually do the right thing on the DeLay stuff. On the other hand he's taken lots of money from DeLay.



Dear Cathy McMorris, 

I see that your caucus is considering wearing purple paint on their fingers to show their support of the Iraqi people. I'm sure that's lovely, but it's basically symbolic. I've got some more concrete suggestions things you guys could do.

1) Bring portable generators. Maybe hand them out to the Iraqi who Bush points out in the audience (note, not if it's Chalabi again, he'll just give them to Iran).

2) Make sure that their hospitals have enough medicine.

3) Fund sewage systems.

4) Actually fund armor for our troops out there. Or better yet.

5) Get them the hell out of the country.

6) Stop killing civilians.

7) Stop torturing people.

Love Ya!

Carl Ballard

(note, before this is sent, a few more suggestions would be nice)

...Sent with some new stuff.



Local Blogging Around 

Emerald City Commentary is talking about Seattle leaving King County. I think this would be horrible for the rest of the county, who rely on Seattle. As Roy points out:

One last thought: many of the people supporting Cedar County complain loudly about high taxes and low levels of government service. Does anybody seriously think that creating a predominantly rural county in place of what we have now will improve that? If Cedar County does become a reality, I predict that taxes will go down (because that's what they want) and government services will become nearly non-existent. Don't come complaining to me if it happens, though. I will continue to live in an area that doesn't mind paying for their services.
I'm not so sure taxes would go down. I mean if they want any sort of police presence or sewer or roads. But maybe I'm wrong.

On the Road to 2008 lets us know that both of our Senators are opposed to torture.

Columbian Watch has the second in what's turning into a fascinating series on the Republican noise machine in South West Washington. Focusing mainly on the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust.



Open Thread 

Possible topics:

The State of the Union.
Your favorite piece of legislation.
Anything.



Office of Open Government Ombudsman 

It looks like a great idea. Basically make an office to help people find documents relating to state government. Yes, crazy people will get a hand up in doing crazy things. But it also helps regular non crazy folks find out what their government is doing.

My only question is why did we let a Republican sponsor it? I mean I thought the majority party got to take credit for good ideas thought up by the minority. Why not give it to some Democrat who just won election in a swing seat to sponsor?



Machine Politics 

I like Mayor Nickels and think that most of his ideas are right on. I want more density in the city (yes that is hypocritical coming from a farm boy). I want public transportation, and I think that while there are serious problems that don't get enough attention from his office, his championing of ST is generally for the good. I like the South Lake Union stuff, although again, I think his office could do well to listen to a bit more of the criticism.

What I don't like is that his office is turning into a bit of a machine. And George Howland Jr. has a good piece on that. Howland says he's over reaching because he doesn't have a serious opponent. But he also talks about machine building generally:

It is a Seattle tradition that mayors do not get involved in City Council races. As Conlin puts it, "I don't think the electorate will be happy with a City Council that is 100 percent rubber stamp for any mayor." Nickels broke this tradition in 2003 when he successfully opposed the re-election of renters' rights advocate and City Council member Judy Nicastro, who lost to Jean Godden (see "The Mayor's Machine," June 11, 2003). This time around, not only is Nickels opposing a council incumbent, a member of his own staff has become an opposition candidate. It is as brazen an act of raw political power as Seattle has seen in decades.

Corr denies the mayor has orchestrated his challenge. "This is my decision," he says. "I picked Richard Conlin because he is the anti-transportation transportation chair. Let me make my case."



Sierra Club Citizen lobbying 

Looks like it was a blast. And really is it too good that the director was named Holly Forrest?



Caucus of One 

Republican rep. Tom Campbell is caucusing by himself. But he's been put on the Healthcare committee by Frank Chopp. I guess he's still a Republican, but even less than Zell was a Democrat.



Tuesday, February 01, 2005

An Arrogant Prick 

Ha ha dead parents are funny!



$1.6 Billion 

That's how much the Feds think Enron alone stole from Western states during the power crisis. California officials think it's at least a billion more. I'd be remiss if I didn't point out that plenty of other companies also almost definitely stole from us but didn't collapse so spectacularly.



WASL Alternatives 

I don't know if it's a good idea or not.

Senate Bill 5638, introduced by Sen. Rosemary McAuliffe, D- Bothell, would require the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction to develop alternatives to taking the WASL.

...

Once alternative methods of testing were established, students who were unsuccessful in passing the WASL would have the option of taking an alternative test. This would be a change from current law, which states that a student must fail the WASL twice before having the option of an alternative form of assessment.

"For a student who struggles desperately when trying to take this kind of a test -- to make them do it again -- I don't think that is very fair," said McAuliffe.



King County Elections Changes 

Julia Patterson and Kathy Lambert are proposing some rule changes at King County. If passed, it would do the following:

*Requiring formatting of provisional ballots to make them distinguishable from standard ballots and prevent machine tabulation of them before the ballots are verified, perhaps by making the provisional ballots too large to be fed into the machines. In the Nov. 2 election, 348 provisional ballots were improperly tabulated before the voters' registration status could be verified.

*Directing the county executive to develop a space plan to centralize election facilities to improve efficiency and minimize the opportunity for mistakes. The elections department currently operates out of three separate facilities, posing communications and operational challenges, Lambert and Patterson said.

*Providing more money to improve training of election workers in proper handling of ballots, staffing of polling locations and managing voter registration lists.

*Directing the county executive to conduct a non-partisan election entirely by mail in King County, perhaps in a school or fire district election, as a pilot project. The county operates 400 polling locations and issues hundreds of thousands of absentee ballots for a general election, but a growing number of voters -- now nearly 70 percent -- vote by mail. Lambert and Patterson said it requires running two separate election systems.



Real Change 

I'll admit that often times I'd buy Real Change and then only skim an article. But often times, especially if there was good content or if I had a bus ride and nothing else to read, I'd read most of the articles. I'm heartened to see that it will go to once a week and try to be better organized.



Monday, January 31, 2005

Silliest. Recall Petition. Ever! 

Because of the way The Olympian does breaking stories this link won't work tomorrow, so if anybody has a better link, let me know. Anyway, Martin Ringhofer wants Sam Reed recalled because he upheld the law.

Activist Martin Ringhofer, who lists residences in Seattle and Soap Lake, filed the petitions against Reed. He says the Republican official failed to uphold duties of his office when he certified Democrat Christine Gregoire as governor in December.

Gregoire’s 129-vote victory is also the subject of losing Republican candidate Dino Rossi’s court contest of the results. The latter case goes to court in Wenatchee on Friday.

The Reed hearing is one of several unrelated cases scheduled for 9 a.m. Friday before new Thurston County Superior Court judge Chris Wickham. It is the first step in what promises to be a convoluted process under state law.

Reed’s office has denied the allegations against him, saying he has followed the law. Reed also says he is getting support around the state for his actions.



Pacific NW Portal 

The Northwest Progressive Institute has a nice link for the Pacific NW Portal. I'm still looking around but it's got good info, and is well organized.

...Now with working link



Revive Old Bills 

If you ignore the opening paragraph (jilted lovers?) this article about bills that have died in past sessions that have more of a chance to pass now that there's Democratic control of both houses is pretty good.

Familiar bills that would allow the purchase of drugs from Canada, provide equal insurance coverage for mental-health patients, let school levies pass with a simple majority and ban discrimination against gays are on the roll.

It's all a sign of Democrats controlling the House, the governor's office and especially the Senate, which had been in Republican hands the past two years. Gov. Christine Gregoire has indicated support for many of the measures.

"Everybody whose bill died for the last two years figures it's their turn," said Rep. Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish.
Some of these bills deal with gun control, the environment, gay rights, education and insurance. The article also lets it be known that they won't be a slam dunk.

Many Democrats say that's the big difference this year. With their party in control of the Senate, they're almost certain to get favored bills voted out of committee and to the Senate floor.

Sen. Bill Finkbeiner, R-Kirkland, the Senate minority leader, acknowledged as much. "They can easily move things out of committee," he said, but after that, it won't be so easy. "When they get to the floor, they're going to have difficulty" with some of their bills, he said.

For example, Finkbeiner said he doubts Senate Democrats can get the two-thirds majority needed for a bill that would let school districts pass property-tax levies and issue construction bonds with simple majority approval from voters. Currently, state law requires 60 percent approval.



Maybe They'll get Within 20 Points 

The GOP is trying to run someone against Ron Sims. Between Tent City, ST, and land use stuff, they think he's vulnerable to something. And because he lost a primary for a whole other seat in King County they think that Republicans can unseat him.



A Start 

Since the House Dem Caucus makes it simple, every member should start blogging in a more organized manner. But kudos to Rep. Deb Wallace for being the first. There are still some problems. The linking problem that plagued this page for most of its first year of existence seems to also be hitting her page. But hopefully she and the rest of the caucus will be able to figure out how to deal with that. And a tip of the pen to OlyScoop for finding it for me.



From the Mouths of Felons 

I'm still in favor of making it much easier for convicted felons to vote. But I do love that 100% (OK 2) of Kitsap County felon voters voted for Rossi. And I especially love it when one of them complains about the process. Jim Jagger who spent some jail time on a "delivery of marijuana" charge. Drug dealing Rossi voters agree, we need a recount.

"I'm merely upset that the Democrats again succeeded in stuffing the ballot box," he said.
...Preemptive Karma has more on felon voting.



Sunday, January 30, 2005

Felony Murder 

The Bellingham Herald has a list of people who's lives may be effected by the recent felony murder case.



Good for them 

Pierce County is still collecting fines on establishments that violated their smoking ban. The supremes will ultimately decide the case, but for now they can't fine businesses for violating the smoking ban. But they are still collecting from when the ban was in place.

He said one of his Nifty’s Fifty’s restaurants received a bill for a renewal fee that included $100 for violating the ban and $50 in late fees.

Porso said the department has since sent out a letter waiving the late fees. But he said the department is justified in collecting the fines “because when the fines were issued, the ban was in effect. When it went out of effect, we stopped it.”

He said there were 40 fines issued, all after two warnings, and that eight have not yet been collected.

And, he said if the state Supreme Court upholds a lower court decision overturning the ban, the Board of Health, which governs the department, could consider refunding the fines.



2005 Legislative Guide 

Some good info (.pdf), curtsey of the 34th District Dems.



Probably Dunn 

King County Republicans put together their list of people they want to replace McKenna on the King County Council. Reagan Dunn is at the top of the list, followed by Sandra Boyd and Barbara Schwartz, two people I've never heard of but who the King County Journal describes as, "'longtime party activists,' according to a King County Republican Party news release. "



2 More Years 

Paul Berendt and Roid Rage won re-election to their party chairmanships.



No PAC Money 

Cantwell's campaign is in debt from her defeat of Slade. But she still refuses to take PAC money.



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