Read a Pacific Northwest, liberal perspective on world, national, and local politics. From majestic Redmond, Washington - the Northwest Progressive Institute Official Blog.

Friday, December 31, 2004

The End of 2004

So, the year 2004 is slowly but surely coming to a close. The top political story this year, of course, was obviously the gubernatorial race, which has been helping to drive traffic to a lot of blogs here in the Pacific Northwest recently.

One of the Seattle P-I's last editorials of the year is a good one: One word: Preposterous. The paper takes Rossi to task for his decision to support a re-vote. A couple excerpts:
Gregoire's conduct throughout the difficult post-election period has been exemplary. She showed optimism, patience and a disciplined pursuit of legally valid processes on the basis of facts and principles, not vague feelings....Gregoire was right to reject the request for a new election. It's one more sign that she is well suited for the office.

It's troubling to see Rossi's lack of discipline in questioning the court and asking for a quick decision on a new election. This suggests that his decisions as governor on the environment, worker safety and the like might be based more on his feelings than on facts.
And Seattle Weekly columnist George Howland Jr. has a new column this week: "The Republicans Blow It". Of course, Howland is talking about the Republicans' strategy throughout the recount of the governor's race. An excerpt:
On Thursday, Dec. 23, Democrat Christine Gregoire won the third and supposedly final tally, a recount by hand, beating Republican Dino Rossi by 129 votes. This turnaround wasn't happenstance. The Democrats played a brilliant endgame, aggressively hunting for votes that had been incorrectly disqualified, while the GOP focused on trying to ferret out fraud that wasn't evident. Now the GOP's best hope is that the courts will nullify the election because the tabulation was so chaotic.
Howland has got it right. If you read his column, you'll notice that he carefully details the strategies of both the Democrats and the Republicans during the recount. He concludes the Democrats had the better strategy because they eventually came away as the winners.

And for those who continue to insist that Rossi won "two out of three", or that the first two counts were more accurate than the hand recount, consider this:
  1. Over a thousand new ballots were counted in the hand recount that couldn't be counted in the machine recount.
  2. Hand recounts are indeed more accurate than machine recounts. That's because humans are smarter than machines.
  3. State law says that the final recount is what counts, not any previous counts. When you've finished the final recount, you have a winner.
Finally, it's nice to see that bloggers have been named People of the Year by ABC News. Here's an excerpt from the story:
As a driving force in politics this year, bloggers covered the 2004 presidential campaigns and election. Political candidates also used them as valuable campaign tools. "The Internet taught us, rather than the other way around," said former Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean.

This year, for the first time, bloggers were permitted to cover the national political conventions firsthand. Bloggers have taken the lead over traditional media on a number of stories, including racist remarks made by then-Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, R-Miss., at former Sen. Strom Thurmond's birthday party.
As 2004 closes out, we look ahead to a new year: NPI's third year of operation and Permanent Defense's fourth year of operation. In August, NPI will celebrate its two year anniversary. In February, Permanent Defense will celebrate its three year anniversary.

Happy New Year to all of you, and we hope that Governor Gregoire will be able to put her team together in a short time frame. It's time to roll up our sleeves and get to work. 2005 is here.

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Vance to run again for party chair

Chris Vance, the current chair of the state Republican Party, says Dino Rossi, who is apparently the "titular" head of the party, has asked him to stay on as state chair.

Rossi the head of the party already? He was only the accidental governor elect for a few weeks: he isn't even the winner of the race, and he's already the "titular" head.

The P-I:
Chris Vance, a scrappy political junkie and former legislator who gave the state Republican Party an aggressive persona in this Democratic-leaning state, said yesterday he'll seek another term as GOP chairman.

Vance, 42, said the party's gubernatorial candidate, Dino Rossi, has asked him to stay on as chairman. Vance is a former state House leader, King County councilman and unsuccessful candidate for Congress and the state school superintendency.
So apparently Vance has decided to run for reelection rather than abandon his post to run for Senate in 2006.

Friday, December 24, 2004

Rossi should concede

The election is over. All that's left is a protracted legal fight from Republicans who are sore losers and can't accept the result of a fair election.

The Tacoma News Tribune writes this morning:
Barring evidence of actual vote-tampering – and no such evidence has surfaced – Rossi should start writing his concession speech. We would have urged the same for Gregoire had their positions been reversed. It is simply the right thing to do, for the voters and for the state.

Rossi, a relative newcomer to state politics, astonished just about everyone in this election by battling his far more experienced and better-known opponent to a statistical draw. He ended the original count 261 votes ahead, the first recount 42 votes up.

Given the fallibility of election workers and the number of ballots cast in this race, it is not surprising to see swings of several hundred votes from one count to the next. It was particularly disturbing to see how many ballots were wrongly disqualified or misplaced in King County. Still, the Supreme Court ruled rightly – all politics aside – that Washingtonians who properly cast their ballots should not be disenfranchised by the sloppiness of their county elections department.
There are Rossi supporters who hate Christine Gregoire so much that they blindly treat her as a devil. These are the people who demonize King County and endlessly compare it to Ukraine.

There are some people who are inventing fantasies to pretend the Republicans are like a military force who will take the election back and install Rossi as the governor. These people obviously lack common sense and intelligence; they are replacing reality with their own delusions.

It's much easier to allege fraud than it is to prove it. And it's easy for the Republicans to switch positions on recanvassing. It's oh-so-convenient for them to take up the mantra of "Count every vote" after the Supreme Court ruled against them. They apparently forgot that the Court already ruled against the Democrats before, saying it would not force counties to recanvass the election.

Indeed, the Secretary of State prevailed instead, and the existing election standards were upheld. But now it's Republicans who want to overturn these standards. Because doing so would now benefit them.

The election is over. We have a winner and a loser. The winner, Governor Gregoire, should prepare to take office. The loser, Dino Rossi, should gracefully concede.

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Rossi in 2008?

The Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense have learned that Dino Rossi has filed a C1 form with the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for his candidacy in 2008. The form was filled out on December 8th, 2004, and filed with the PDC on December 13th. I learned this while browsing the PDC's website and talking to one of our friends, David Goldstein, who has posted his reaction on his blog, HorsesAss.org.

So Rossi has his sights set on 2008 already. What a surprise.

If Rossi had won, he would have certainly been running for reelection anyway, so it isn't unfathomable that he would file for his candidacy in 2008 a few years in advance. But it's very early - 2004 isn't even over yet - and Rossi is already filing out his candidacy form in the middle of the hand recount? The form was filled out on the 8th of December - just a few days before King County initially announced it had discovered 561 ballots that it hadn't counted before.

I could not find a C1 registration form for Gregoire. Apparently she isn't as hasty to get going on her 2008 campaign (if there is one, and I'm sure there will be now) as Rossi is.

I've always thought that if Rossi lost this close election, he'd run again in 2008 with a war cry from 2004 and a good theme to run on. This is just another piece of evidence supporting that conclusion. You can see the PDC form for yourself here. Type "Rossi" in the Filer Name Field. Go down the list of documents and click on the row which has Rossi's name, the form number C1, and the year 2008.

Or, just go to HorsesAss.org to see an image of the form.

I guess we know what to expect in four years.

BREAKING: GREGOIRE WINS!

King County has certified its results, and we have a winner!:
Democrat Christine Gregoire has won Washington's race for governor by 130 votes, with King County's final hand-recount tally complete.

The county accepted 565 of the 732 additional ballots as having valid signatures -- 311 went for Gregoire and 191 for Rossi. The others either went for Ruth Bennett or didn't have a vote for governor or the person marked multiple candidates.
Election officials from Seattle's King County convened Thursday to begin counting 732 mistakenly discarded ballots that have widened Democrat Christine Gregoire's lead in Washington's incredibly tight race for governor.
So it's over. And it's time to move on. Christine Gregoire has won the governor's race. Rossi should concede immediately. This is the final recount: there isn't going to be another one. Speaking of which, Progressive Majority Washington is asking you to join them in asking Rossi to concede.

This from the AP:
Most auditors statewide have decided not to reconsider rejected ballots, said Corky Mattingly, Yakima County's auditor and president of the Washington State Association of County Auditors.

The auditors agree with Republican Secretary of State Sam Reed, Mattingly said, that state law prohibits counties from recanvassing after their results have been certified.

"This is the end," Mattingly said Thursday. "You don't just keep recertifying and recertifying."

Republicans have also accused King County of failing to send absentee ballots to military voters or sending them too late, and they want that mistake corrected, too.

Logan said all absentee ballots were sent out on time, including those to military voters.

"You will continue to hear accusations of fraud, of changing rules, of manufactured votes," Logan said Thursday, addressing rumors that have been flying on local blogs and talk radio. "I believe the record shows most of these allegations, if not all of them, are totally untrue."
And Ken Schram is calling on Dino Rossi to concede in his latest commentary:

As one who voted for Dino Rossi, I think it's time for the Republicans to pack up and move on. Chris Vance needs to put a cork in his verbal tirades and quit beating a political horse that is now dead.

Perpetuating the notion that this election was somehow stolen from Rossi, Vance is still insisting that he'll pursue every course possible, thereby dragging the whole process on further.

Vance should know that casting about with flimsy claims that military voters were somehow aced out, or that canvassing boards can stuff the genie back in the bottle, does nothing but further alienate people who are already fed up with how this whole election mess evolved.

The system worked the way it's supposed to, no matter how many are upset by the final results. Dino Rossi should concede and Chris Vance should pipe down.

It's over. Christine Gregoire is the now governor-elect. The law doesn't allow any more recounts. The Republicans should stop their tirade and accept the results.

King County canvassing board hard at work

There have been different dates going around for when the Secretary of State will certify the gubernatorial race. The Secretary of State has confirmed to NPI and Permanent Defense that it will be after Christmas - tentatively scheduled for the 30th. Every county except for King has certified its results, however.

At 10 AM this morning, the King County Canvassing Board met to begin considering some 735 ballots which were not counted earlier due to county election officials' error. The GOP had filed a lawsuit trying to prevent the county from counting those ballots. But the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that the county can count them.

The county is supposed to report at 5 PM today with updated results.

In this morning's news, the Seattle P-I has a good story about developments in the race: "Third time may be charm for Gregoire" and the Seattle Times also has a thoughtful story: "Focus turns to canvassing board".

Most interesting of all, however, is Secretary of State Sam Reed's guest column in the Seattle Times: "Standards in place for a fair recount." In his column, Reed explains that your ballot only counts if:
  • You are a registered voter of the state of Washington;
  • Your signature matches the signature on your voter registration card;
  • Your ballot arrived on time;
  • And you clearly voted for one candidate in the governor’s race.
Reed is right. We should have confidence in our elections system. It is working as it should, and the Supreme Court has affirmed the Secretary of State's interpretation of the law twice.

Some GOP partisans have accused the King County canvassing board of making partisan decisions. The board is made up of two Democrats and one Republican. However, HorsesAss.org dispels these accusations:
So to set the record straight, I decided to ask the other member, Republican Dan Satterberg, who was appointed to the canvassing board to represent King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng. Here is what he wrote back:
The King County Canvassing Board reviewed around 1,600 ballots during the manual recount that were forwarded to us by the recount boards for determination of voter intent. The vast majority of those questioned ballots were resolved by a unanimous consensus of the Board. There were probably only about 20 contested votes, though I did not keep track of the number. While the split was always 2-1, of course, I was not always on the losing side.
Republicans continue to protest, but to no avail. They are more interested in winning than having a fair election, but we already knew that.

We'll bring you the latest news from the Board at five.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

King crowns Gregoire

King County has reported +59 votes for Gregoire, giving Gregoire the overall lead in the statewide manual recount by 10 votes. This does not count the 725 ballots the Supreme Court said can be counted.

The 10 vote reversal is a stunning development in this two month old saga: finally, now, Christine Gregoire is winning the governor's race! And her lead should increase with the counting of those formerly disputed ballots tomorrow.

The especially good news about all of this is it shows Democrats are willing to stand and fight. We won't be intimidated by the GOP....No more stolen elections! Christine Gregoire has held on for almost two months now - and we believe she will emerge from this as our state's Governor.

UPDATE: The AP has a story now. You can read it at KOMO's website, or get it at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

NEW! The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has released its editorials for tomorrow online. This is an excerpt from one of their latest and greatest editorials, "Gregoire this time".
Regardless of the election victor, the [state Supreme] court's ruling was laudable. Allowing an error by county elections officials to disenfranchise hundreds of voters who had cast their ballots correctly would have been a defeat for the democratic process.

And claims that partisanship drove county election officials to "conveniently find" new ballots to benefit Gregoire were plain silly. Gregoire partisans would have found it far more convenient had those ballots -- not "found" but always accounted for -- been counted in the first place, giving Gregoire the initial victory and preventing all the recount turmoil.

There will be much to tell the new governor-elect in the days to come. For now, congratulations will suffice.
It's hard to say it any better than they did.

Supreme Court overturns lower court

The state Supreme Court issued a unanimous ruling overturning the lower Pierce County Superior Court and holding that King County may count all of the 573 previously disputed ballots. The ruling is a huge victory for voters and Democrats. An excerpt from the ruling:
It thus follows that the superior court erred in granting a temporary restraining order, and that the King County Canvassing Board properly concluded that it had authority to recanvass the subject ballots pursuant to RCW 29A.60.210. Based on the law as declared in this opinion, respondents are not entitled to injunctive relief. Therefore, the superior court’s “Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause” is reversed and vacated, and the cause is remanded to the superior court for entry of an order of dismissal forthwith.
You can read the ruling here. The AP is also on the wire with the news. (Seattle P-I)

Clearly, the Court made a just decision. It was apparent that this error was a human mistake made by elections officials which could have been expected under such circumstances; after all, this is the closest statewide election in Washington's history, and humans are not perfect. It is unreasonable to strip away voters' rights when they did everything as they were supposed to because the county made an error.

Other counties have interpreted RCW the same way King County was going to, before the GOP obtained a temporary restraining order. Upholding the lower court's decision would have been a dramatic reversal of the earlier Supreme Court decision (which went against the Democrats) and a narrow interpretation of RCW that would have created a nightmare for the Supreme Court, with counties trying to clarify a new interpretation of the law.

Fortunately, the Supreme Court reversed the Pierce County court's decision, and the voters who were stripped of their rights will get their votes counted

Supreme Court hears case

The Supreme Court has finished hearing arguments in the case, WSRP et al. v. King County, et al., and has adjourned to consider the case and reach a decision.

The Democrats, King County, and the Secretary of State had a very consistent argument about the interpretation of RCW: that these ballots should be counted because elections officials made a mistake. Republicans tried to argue that King County had already rejected the 735 ballots, but King County contended those ballots never had been rejected.

Questions were brought up "What is a return?" and "What is a canvass?" by the Republicans, who were (and are) seeking a narrow interpretation of the law. However, the Secretary of State and King County showed through numerous declarations and prior court decisions that a narrow interpretation would be inconsistent with procedures that have been followed for a long time.

David Goldstein of HorsesAss came up with this analysis:
The contest is over the contest.

The GOP attorney tried to argue out of both sides of his mouth. He essentially admits that the “safety valve” (RCW 29A.60.210) applies to the recount, but not to these 723 ballots, because they have been previously “rejected.” He also argues that the proper place for the Democrats to address these ballots is in a contest, but apparently it would do irreparable harm to Dino Rossi, if he had to challenge them in a contest.

Essentially, there is going to be a contest, and the GOP would rather it be filed by the Democrats, so they can accuse them of dragging this through the courts. At the very least, they would prefer that the burden be on the Democrats to prove in a contest that these ballots should be counted. Oh… and apparently it is all Larry Phillips fault.

As I figured, the GOP case all comes down to whether these ballots were “rejected,” and the King County attorney clearly argues that there was “no affirmative rejection", but rather, that the ballots were “misfiled.” That said, she also argues that the canvassing board has the right to re-examine rejected ballots, at its discretion.

However, the most important new piece of information learned in the hearing this morning is that King County has located 583 signatures out of the 723 ballots in question. It seems likely that these ballots would add about 120 votes to Christine Gregoire’s margin… if counted.
We agree, and believe that the Democrats' and King County's interpretation of RCW 29A.60.210 is correct.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Washington's next governor: Chris Gregoire

Unconfirmed reports from the Democratic Party say that Democrat Christine Gregoire has triumphed over Republican Dino Rossi by eight votes, thanks to the recount in King County. King County finished its recount yesterday and will officially report at 3:30 PM tomorrow. Both political parties, however, were given information early.

The State Chairman of the Democratic Party said: "We're confident Christine Gregoire has been elected the governor of the state of Washington...I believe Dino Rossi should concede."

This means that Gregoire is the winner, with or without a ruling in her favor tomorrow by the state Supreme Court on the fate of 723 ballots which the Republican Party is disputing because it doesn't want them counted.

Of course, the AP is reporting: "Rossi has indicated he may challenge the election results in court if he loses the hand recount after winning the first two counts."

That's not a surprise either. Republicans are so desperate to win, they'll do anything right now. And another rush to the courts would not be a surprise, but again proves that Dino Rossi has a double standard on litigation in the race.

The hearing before the Supreme Court begins at 9:30 AM tomorrow morning.

UPDATE
New local news stories from the Times and P-I are up!

This is from one of the Times articles above on the Democrats' response to the GOP court filings:
The Democrats responded to the BIAW and Eikenberry in a filing yesterday. The party called it "an apparent attempt to insinuate indirectly what plaintiffs ... could not prove, that there is even the slightest indication of fraud in the manual recount of the Washington Governor's race in King County [or anywhere else for that matter.]"

Democrats were unimpressed by evidence presented in the friend-of-the-court brief, saying it "relies upon letters to the editor, a Wall Street Journal editorial and newspaper articles quoting the Washington State Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance's unfortunate hyperbole."

And Richard Nixon's memoir.
The Democrats have the right idea.

State Supreme Court to hear county's appeal tomorrow

The state Supreme Court will hear an appeal tomorrow from Democrats, King County, and Secretary of State Sam Reed, who are arguing that the county should be able to count 723 ballots that were not tabulated earlier.

The Seattle Times has a great editorial today about this: Count the votes in King County. Also in the Times this morning: a story which headline speaks for itself: Reed says county has right to fix error, tally 735 ballots. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has a similar story.

The bottom line is that these votes must be counted. Other counties have been doing this, and the Republicans have said nothing about it. But now, all of the sudden, it's King County and they're complaining and filing a lawsuit. What a surprise. Republicans are afraid of losing the election, and they're trying to set up a new one - they want to give Rossi another chance to win.

Permanent Defense has posted an audio clip coupled with a quote highlighting the Rossi double standard on litigation in this race. You can listen to it here.

During the hearings, which begin at 9:30 AM tomorrow, and when the Supreme Court rules, we'll be sure to bring you news as it happens, along with our analysis.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Republicans getting desperate

GOP heads to court trying to stop ballots from being counted

State Republicans are getting desperate.

With the verdict in from Snohomish, and an expected change of fortune next week for Christine Gregoire, Republicans are fighting from the end of a string to prevent Dino Rossi from losing the governor's race.

The GOP is heading to court to try and stop votes from being counted in King County. This pathetic move shows the GOP's double standard. Just recently, Dino Rossi was talking about "the people, not the lawyers". Apparently Dino has settled for lawyers.

Does it get any more interesting? It sure does. The Seattle Times is reporting this morning that there may be another 162 missing ballots that could end up getting counted in King County.

Can you top that off? Absolutely. Former Secretary of State Ralph Munro is pushing the idea of a whole new election for Governor - a ridiculous idea that would delay the election until February, leaving Gary Locke in place as governor for more than a month beyond the length of his term. Locke has made clear he wants out.

The idea seems particularly stupid because the Democrats will gain control of the Legislature when the new session begins in several weeks, and will thus be in control of lawmaking. And do they really think that liberal Seattle will refrain from coming out in force to vote for Gregoire if there is a new election?

We'll continue tracking the latest developments in the election madness.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Gregoire gets huge boost

Snohomish County report slices and dices Rossi lead

Surprise! Snohomish County has just this afternoon reported results for the manual recount. The recount in that county's hand recount produced 118 new votes for Christine Gregoire, and 75 for Dino Rossi, cutting down his lead by 43 votes. And the word is out that Pierce County will give votes to Gregoire when it reports, as well.

Thanks to the Snohomish County surprise, and assuming Spokane and Pierce don't give too many votes to Rossi, King County should easily be able to reverse the Rossi lead and make Christine Gregoire the next governor of Washington State.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are suing over 573 votes discovered in King County, trying to ensure those ballots aren't counted. The Republicans' shell has fallen off, and we can see them for what they truly are. They are arrogant, greedy people who will stop at nothing to win. They cannot criticize the Democrats' litigation any longer because they are now the ones filing a lawsuit. Even without the 573, it's likely King County could still hand the election to Gregoire. ChairmanVance is running out of options.

This is why we are doing a hand recount. Because the results are different. And we need to count as many votes as we can.

Stay tuned. We will bring you the latest developments in the race.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

An Interesting Alternative to Corporate Media

Sick of the sickening commercialized, conservative bias of Fox News, talk radio, the pollution of traditional media like MSNBC, CNN, CNBC, the major broadcast networks? Are you wondering if local news stations could possibly get any worse? Do you get twinges of fear whenever NPR softballs the corporate crooks? Did it all have to turn out this way?

Well, guess what...perhaps the free market isn't what it seems. For the past 10 years or so, corporate behemoths like ClearChannel, Time Warner, Viacom, and Sinclair Broadcasting have all swelled to tremendous proportions, gobbling up all hope of a free and objective media in the United States.

In the 1960s and 1970s, it was not uncommon for local news to be filled with interesting, substantive information that actually served the public interest. Reporters were not muzzled by a relentless drive for profit, forced to deliver contrived, fear-based stories and frivolous stories that skirted the issues.

Yes, not so long ago, reporters could actually challenge the status quo with hard questions, tough criticisms, and deep analysis. Not anymore! The corporate monopolization of major news media in this country has destroyed the once-enriching media, filled with crucial stories and biting analysis, and transformed the media landscape into one concerned only with profit, at the expense of all else.

NPR and PBS in their current form are not the answer because they are forced to cover only topics too mundane or counter cultural to succeed on major media.

Those of who listen to Air America Radio on a regular basis by now know Dr. Robert McChesney very well. He's a renowned media analyst who for years has been a vociferous critic of meida conglomeration and corporate media malfeasance. In his recent book, "Our Media, Not Theirs," he makes a compelling cri de coeur for media reform. Ponder some of his strategies at http://www.robertmcchesney.com/

Here's a sampling:
  • Creating hundreds of new non-commercial community radio stations
  • Applying existing antimonopoly laws to the media and, where necessary, expand their reach to restrict ownership of radio stations to one or two per owner. Consider similar steps for television stations and moves to break the lock of newspaper chains on entire regions.
  • Establishing a formal study and hearings to determine fair media ownership regulations across all sectors.
  • Revamping and supercharge public broadcasting to eliminate commercial pressures, reduce immediate political pressures, and serve communities without significant disposable incomes.
  • Eliminating political candidate advertising as a condition of a broadcast license; or require that a station must run for free ads of similar length from all the other candidates on the ballot immediately after a paid political ad by a candidate.
  • Reducing or eliminate TV advertising to children under twelve.
  • De-commercializing local TV news. In return for the grant of access to the airwaves, which makes media companies rich, require that those companies set aside an hour each day of commercial-free time for news programming, with a budget based on a percentage of the station's revenues. This would free journalists to do the job of informing citizens, and allow stations to compete on the basis of quality news gathering as opposed to sensationalism.
  • Revamping copyright laws to their intended goal: to protect the ability of creative producers to earn a living, and to protect the public's right to a healthy and viable public domain.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Supreme Court rejects Democrats' lawsuit

The Supreme Court has just ruled that ballots are to be retabulated only if they have been previously counted or tallied. Those ballots disqualified by the canvassing boards are excluded. This means that there will not be a recanvass, as the Democratic Party had requested.

An excerpt from the ruling:
"It follows that this court cannot order the Secretary to establish standards for the recanvassing of ballots previously rejected in this election. And petitioners’ call for uniform signature-checking standards (seemingly beyond the statutory requirement that the signature on an absentee ballot be the same as the signature in voter registration files) is beyond the relief that can be afforded in this action.

Petitioners suggest in their reply brief that a claimed disparity in signature-checking standards implicates equal protection concerns under the privileges and immunities clause of our state constitution, Const. art. I, § 19, but they claim no discriminatory intent. We are mindful that King County rejected a higher percentage of signatures than did other counties, but the record before us does not establish the reason for this disparity, and it could be for factors other than the standard employed.

We do not take petitioners’ argument to suggest that a claimed disparity in rejection rates of voter signatures triggers some independent right, constitutional or otherwise, to a recanvassing of rejected ballots under a newly developed standard, nor does such an argument come to mind."
More on this development will be posted later.

David Sirota has the left idea

David Sirota, a fellow at the American Progress Action Fund, a progressive advocacy organization in Washington, D.C., has written a new article in the American Prospect January 2005 issue entitled "The Democrats’ Da Vinci Code".

The article talks about Democratic successes in the 2004 and how the Democratic Party can get back on track with a winning formula. Highly recommended.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Big break for Gregoire

King County says 561 ballots accidentally thrown out by mistake

The Seattle Times and other media report that King County has discovered 561 ballots which were accidentally thrown out:
King County election officials said today they will count 561 votes that were rejected in the governor's race.

The recount of those ballots was prompted by Metropolitan King County Councilman Larry Phillips' discovery that his absentee ballot wasn't counted.

Those ballots were thrown out because the county voters' signatures didn't appear among the records in a computer database. Election workers erroneously threw out those votes before using voter-registration cards to verify signatures on absentee-ballot envelopes.
This is obviously good news for Gregoire, because it could swing the race in her favor. However, a recanvass is clearly needed: in an election this historic, we must catch all the errors, no matter how long it takes. The Republicans, especially Chris Vance, continue to whine that this will "destroy our elections process". Yeah, right - making sure every vote counts and is counted correctly will destroy the process. They'd rather stop now because they're in the lead.

More on this as it develops.

NPI launches Bush Greenwatch newsfeed

We've finally figured out what we want to do with the blank spaces in the upper right corners of our Topic pages. We're installing news feeds in those spaces, and our first trial run is with Bush Greenwatch, which tracks the environmental misdeeds of the Bush Administration. You can find their RSS newsfeed on our Environment page.

Permanent Defense is using the same technology for its GregoireWatch news center on its main page.

We've also added the BuyBlue newsfeed to our Boycott page, and the Green Trust Renewable Energy newsfeed to our Energy page. We're still working on news feeds for International Affairs and Technology. Stay tuned.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Air America Radio Continues to Grow

Network inks new multiyear deals with hosts Al Franken, Randi Rhodes

Progressive talk radio continues to grow at an impressive pace. Not only has the network inked deals to keep its major stars on board, but it has $13 million in new financing. And it's launching a new station in Washington D.C., the Washington Post reports. Additionally, Air America is supposed to be close to launching a station in Los Angeles.

An industry expert:

"Air America has been something of a phenomenon," said Michael Harrison, editor of the industry magazine Talkers. "Their accomplishment has to be measured in more than revenue and ratings. They've had a tremendous impact on changing the culture of talk radio and the way talk radio is perceived by the public. They've really opened the door to major industry licensees and program producers recognizing that talk radio has a huge potential market beyond just conservative hosts."

The Air America release:

Air America Radio (AAR) today announced new long-term contract extensions for its highly rated radio personalities Al Franken and Randi Rhodes, and new affiliate clearances in a number of top markets across the country. The network is now heard in 11 of the top 20 radio markets.

The network also announced that $13 million in new investment had been completed.

AAR was launched March 31, 2004 in five markets, and in just eight months has expanded to 40 stations nationwide, as well as both SIRIUS and XM, the national satellite radio services. This represents unprecedented growth in modern network radio.

AAR also announced that Rob Glaser has been elected chairman of the Air America Network Board. Glaser is CEO and chairman of RealNetworks Inc., a consumer technology company he founded.

"Air America has created the hottest new brand on radio, offering some of the most dynamic personalities and programming found anywhere on the radio dial," Glaser said. "As a result of the long-term foundation we have built, we will continue to be the leader in this format."

Al Franken, comedian and best-selling author who hosts AAR's highly rated "The Al Franken Show," signed a multi-year contract with the network, reinforcing his commitment and desire to remain a dominant voice in talk radio.

Franken and his co-host, radio veteran Katherine Lanpher, will continue to deliver three hours a day of fearlessly irreverent commentary, comedy and interviews.

"I have re-signed with Air America in order to spend less time with my family," quipped Franken.

Randi Rhodes, host of "The Randi Rhodes Show," also agreed to a three-year deal. Rhodes has emerged as one of the most powerful voices in radio and continues to bring her own brand of impeccably researched and infectiously humorous talk to Air America.

"With the new funding and our contracts signed, sealed and delivered, Air America has proven its ability to attract talent and investors," Rhodes said. "That ROCKS. So now let's ROLL."

Air America Radio plans to announce additional affiliates in major markets early in the new year.

"In my 25 years in radio, I have never seen a brand grow so quickly," said Jon Sinton, president of Air America. "These announcements today serve notice that the remarkable growth of Air America will continue in 2005."

Doug Kreeger, acting chief executive officer since May and a major investor and board member since the network's inception, steps down as acting CEO as planned. Kreeger, who continues as an active board member, also takes on the roles of adviser to the company and member of the search team seeking a permanent CEO.

Tuesday, December 07, 2004

Permanent Defense Launches December Update

Permanent Defense has launched DECEMBER UPDATE, a critical renovation which introduces new features and site content, as well as updating old ones.

Check out the new Permanent Defense Community forum, which features several forums, a fully functional search feature and a private messaging system.

Also new is the Contribute page, which allows you to donate money to Permanent Defense PAC.

We've also rolled out a completely renovated Critics' Voices section. Navigation is greatly improved, and we've added dozens of new quotes from critics of Eyman, as well as comments from site visitors. The Action Center has a new button that you can put on your website to link to Permanent Defense.

Also, pages such as About Us, Dangerous Initiatives, and the Elections Center have recieved updates. Visit December Update for your complete guide to all of Permanent Defense's site improvements.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Mayor Nickels unveils tunnel as replacement for viaduct

In Sunday's Seattle Times, Mayor Greg Nickels unveiled the official choice to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct: a tunnel that will run under the Seattle waterfront.

Nickels writes in his column, A tunnel to keep the traffic moving, a new welcome mat for Seattle's front door:
After two years of analysis and public involvement, the city, the state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration will jointly hold a news conference to announce tomorrow that a six-lane tunnel is the preferred option for the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall Project.

Building another double-decker freeway on Seattle's waterfront is not the right choice for Seattle or the region. Instead, we should build a tunnel that moves cars and noise off our waterfront, while maintaining our 21st century transportation network.
We agree with Nickels' conclusion. The viaduct is an eyesore. It is a hulking concrete structure that taints Seattle's waterfront. Anyone walking under it or near it hears the constant rumbling of cars and trucks overhead, a major annoyance. Underneath are raggedy, unkept gravel parking lots. The viaduct blocks the view of the waterfront from many of the streets and buildings in Seattle. It's just not a good idea to suspend a major thoroughfare above the waterfront. It's ultimately more dangerous to build another viaduct than it is to construct a tunnel and repair the seawall.

There are those who drive the viaduct who will bitterly complain about Nickels' choice. They are so overly concerned with their own view that they forget the viaduct blocks others' views. Since when has driving the viaduct been a sightseeing venture? That's what Washington State Ferries are for. We should not live in a society driven by the car!

We need to get out of this ridiculous notion that our cities and public spaces need to be built for the car. No, we need to create spaces for people! We need to create pedestrian friendly, bicycle friendly, earth friendly zones for human beings, not machines. We need to ensure that everyone has access to the waterfront, not just vehicles. And a tunnel is the best option for doing this. It removes the eyesore, the noise, and the danger of a costly collapse. It fixes both the seawall and the thoroughfare problem. It creates friendly public space. Nickels writes:
People realize that the waterfront is a public asset — a destination for residents of Seattle and the region. Public waterfront is precious, and we should do everything we can to make it cleaner, less noisy, less harmful to our environment, and make it more accessible and more enjoyable for all.

We also took into account the evolution of the central waterfront. That part of the waterfront used to be Seattle's industrial "back door," but the ships and cranes have moved south, and it's no longer just a working waterfront. Our central city is becoming a place to live, as well as work, and the viaduct replacement choice should reflect the fact that the central waterfront is now our front door. We should recognize that the waterfront is a place for people to wander, meet friends and family, and enjoy the views of the city and Puget Sound.
Nickels' vision is admirable. It follows along in the thinking of the Project for Public Spaces - a strategy known as placemaking. I've had the chance to listen to a presentation by the president of this organization. Their work is truly outstanding. It's a vision we're trying to pursue for the City of Redmond. Slowly, but surely, we are developing our own transportation master plan that will call for the placemaking of public spaces.

Last spring, I participated in a roundtable discussion with other citizens on how we could make our own city more people-friendly. I presented our roundtable's conclusions to the staff of the City of Redmond and other fellow citizens last April. The PowerPoint can be viewed here. I urge you to visit the PPS website and learn about their vision for the world's communities. You can also check out the state Department of Transportation's website for the viaduct replacement project.

NPI launches Boycott Information page

We admit that we haven't exactly been hurrying to update some of the topics pages which are not quite up yet - such as Economy and Health Care - but we have put up Boycott Information. So far, the list is not extensive, but it does include Wal-Mart, Sinclair, FOX, and the RIAA. There are dozens of others out there of course, and we'll be extending the list as time goes on, but we thought it would be better to put the worst up there to start with.

Let us know if you have any suggestions on what to add.

Friday, December 03, 2004

Democrats will pay for manual recount

The Washington State Democrats and the Gregoire campaign today announced they have the money to seek a statewide hand recount in the race for Governor. Secretary of State Sam Reed said he would order the second recount on Monday, with counties beginning the recount on Wednesday, December 8th.

Dino Rossi, the Republican candidate, was outraged that the Democrats were even considering the recount - despite the fact that Rossi only leads by 42 votes, Republicans are treating Rossi's slim lead as a victory and a mandate, with the lousy "he's won twice" argument.

The previous results do not matter. This recount is what will decide who will inaugurated as Governor of Washington State come January 12th, 2004.

The hand recount will be the most accurate count and the best indicator of who actually won the election. With only a 42 vote margin separating the election, this is the closest governor's race in state history, and the closest statewide race in Washington's history.

Permanent Defense continues to keep tabs with GregoireWatch.

Other links of interest: