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

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Initiative 912: The Cost of Doing Nothing

Goldy has a post this morning, that in turn, is based on a post on a new Pacific Northwest liberal blog (Hominid Views, which has been slated to be added to the Portal's directory) about Initiative 912 and the cost of doing nothing.

As Darryl points out:
People will die if I-912 passes — people whose deaths otherwise would have been averted through safety improvements.
It's the absolute truth. Voting for I-912 isn't just a vote for your personal pocketbook - it's also a vote against the safety of yourself and others.

Darryl's post provided the final inspiration for us to finish creating a new page onWashington Defense - about the cost of doing nothing.

Here's an idea of what'll happen when the viaduct collapses (which will happen if it is not replaced):

To the left, you're looking at an image from the Cypress Street Viaduct collapse in San Francisco in 1989.

A brief earthquake struck the San Francisco region that year and caused massive devastation - including the collapse of the unsafe and unsturdy viaduct.

Sound familiar? It's the future of the Alaskan Way Viaduct if Washingtonians choose to pass Initiative 912 and do nothing to upgrade our transportation infrastructure.

Learn more about the costs and consequences of Initiative 912.

HOV Lanes Actually Work

Another memorable quote from Stefan this week:
Yesterday's post on HOV lanes generated one of the largest numbers of comments for any post on this blog ever. It's an issue that affects people's daily lives and people feel passionately about it. Only a tiny minority supports HOV lanes, most commenters feel that HOV lanes are a foolish waste of expensive road capacity.
Really, Stefan?

It's always been amazing, come to think of it, that there are still people out there who actually believe more roads and more lanes lead to less congestion. It's just not true. It's simply a myth.

Research shows - if you build more roads, more cars and solo drivers will emerge to fill them. Opening up HOV lanes will do nothing more than create another lane of traffic that is completely bottled up.

HOV lanes do work - I know this to be true. I have used them many times. HOV lanes encourage carpooling and vanpooling, and they help make sure buses run on time.

They are much faster than the other highway lanes - and can cut a considerable amount of time off the commute, for people who are willing to travel together.

The DOT has more on why HOV lanes work:
  • Reliable travel times. Using HOV lanes means your commute will take approximately the same amount of time each day. This is particularly important for transit buses as their riders and schedules rely upon prompt and consistent travel times.
  • Faster trips. HOV lanes are designed to move more people, more quickly than general-purpose highway lanes. While commuters in other lanes are stuck in peak hour traffic, commuters in the HOV lanes usually move at 45 miles per hour or more.
  • Save money. Driving in your car alone means you can expect to spend more money on gas, maintenance and repairs than if you shared the expense. On average, people who carpool, vanpool or ride transit cut $3,000 from their annual commute cost.
  • Reduced wear and tear on your car. Your vehicle will last longer if you drive less. Carpooling, vanpooling and taking transit all save wear and tear on your car.
  • Help the environment. The fewer vehicles on the road, the less pollution. Carbon monoxide from vehicle emissions is the prime component of air pollution in our state.
  • Less stress. Sharing the ride can make your commute more pleasant and less stressful. In addition to a faster, more reliable commute in the HOV lane, letting someone else drive gives you time to read, snooze, chat or daydream. Driving with a partner, coworker or friend can make a long commute more lively.
Of course, the crowd of commenters at (un)soundpolitics are most likely to be solo drivers, proud, haughty, and self-righteous - "It's my right to own a car, it's a free country, I can go wherever I want, HOV lanes are stupid and unfair," - that type of mentality.

Stefan also says:
The state's big government grandees who are fretting over the likely victory of I-912 might want to consider that HOV lanes are one of the reasons for the public's refusal to pay for yet another gas tax.
That, of course, is completely ridiculous. Citizens aren't against this new transportation investment because of HOV lanes.

They're against it because people like Stefan have been working around the clock to convince them the state just wants to rip them off.

Why does Stefan even bother to come with explanations for how legislators could get voters to support some future package? It's his crowd that only talks about the cost and not the consequences.

Stefan isn't all that unlike Tim Eyman. They share a similar ideology, they attach themselves to the same transportation issues (Monorail, Sound Transit, HOV lanes, you name it) they're frequently wrong, and they seem to have a problem with the truth.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Air America: The Nonexistent Scandal

An excellent diary today on Daily Kos rips apart Brian Maloney's ridiculous claim that Air America is involved in a scandal where it supposedly ripped off children and stole from them.

The diary is by user maha, and it's highly recommended. A quote:
What do we have so far? All allegations that the allegedly pilfered Gloria Wise money went to Air America Radio are based on one, and only one, source: Michael Horowitz in the prestigious, if ephemeral, Bronx News. And Horowitz got his information from "informed sources" of undetermined origin.

And, folks, that's it. Brian Maloney picked up Horowitz, and Hewitt and Michelle Malkin picked up Maloney, and by means of much huffing and puffing and overheated rhetoric (Malkin: "Will Air America's self-proclaimed champions of the poor and downtrodden--Franken? Garafolo? Springer?--touch this story with a ten-foot pole?") the righties manage to create much smoke without any visible fire. The rightie bloggers link to each other's allegations as "proof"; they link to anything they can find that mentions Air America in a negative light as "proof"; but in fact nothing has been made public that supports Malkin's claim ...

Air America is being investigated in New York for diverting federal/local funds--possibly "hundreds of thousands of dollars"--meant for inner-city kids and senior into the station's coffers.

...other than the "informed sources" quoted by Michael Horowitz in the Bronx News.
Michael Hood of blatherWatch has also been covering this. It's just more garbage cooked up by Brian Maloney, who has now been mentioned in the national media, and is now experiencing high traffic volume.

Executive Director Appears in 710 KIRO Segment

NPI Executive Director Andrew Villeneuve was interviewed for a 710 KIRO Local News segment that ran this morning about the $220 million Congress has allocated towards the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

U.S. lawmakers have warned the allocated money may disappear if Initiative 912 passes. (This first segment does not include an interview, it's just a report from 710 KIRO reporter Chris Filippi). You can listen to the thirty second clip by clicking here.

UPDATE: 710 KIRO's Chris Filippi has a longer thirty six second segment in which the Executive Director does have a sound bite. You can listen to the extended segment here.

Republicans asking for too much in primary fight

After the ruling by Judge Thomas Zilly earlier this month striking the "Top Two" primary down as unconstitutional, you'd think the GOP would be happy. But they're not:
A Republican Party rule says a candidate must obtain at least 25 percent of the votes at a GOP caucus or convention to run under the Republican label. But in issuing a permanent injunction yesterday in the parties' successful challenge of I-872, Zilly chose not to give them the power they sought -- to decide which candidates get to use a party's name.
Although Neil Modie wrote "they" in his article, he does, thankfully, mention, that our party has no such rule:
It didn't matter to the Democrats, who allow anyone to run as a Democrat. But state Republican Chairman Chris Vance, with the caveat that he hadn't yet checked with his lawyers, said, "This means the political parties therefore are going to have to make a decision whether or not to file another piece of litigation."
The issue, again is the Republicans' own rule that a candidate needs to have 25% of the votes at a party sanctioned caucus or convention - before they can run in the primary.

The Democrats have no such rule.

The backlash against the parties is, we think, bad enough already. No political party should be asking for more at this point: their chief objective should be fighting to keep our open primary system in place on appeal, and nothing else.

But the Republicans just want more, and more, and more:
Vance said the Republican Party also wants a list of which voters choose its primary ballot, something the law doesn't allow.
That means a closed primary, in which voters actually have to register for a political party in the primary - their choice of party ballot is therefore not secret.

When are these guys going to be satisfied? The Republicans need to stop trying to extract victories. Getting the open primary system back was hard enough. Now they're trying to go even further by getting Judge Zilly to rule on their 25% rule and pushing for a closed primary.

As Modie noted:
However, Grange officials have said they might file yet a new initiative, one that could pass constitutional muster by having candidates file for all elective offices on a non-partisan basis. The Grange sponsored the initiative that led to the blanket primary in 1935 as well as last year's Top Two initiative.
The Republicans are asking for this. They need to settle for the open primary system we just got back and focus on keeping that system in place. All their other demands should be dropped.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Primary ruling appealed, permanent injunction issued

The AP reports:
Washington State and the state Grange on Friday appealed a federal court decision striking down the popular "Top Two" primary system that voters approved by initiative last fall.

Secretary of State Sam Reed and Attorney General Rob McKenna, joined by the Grange, announced the appeal to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly on Friday issued a permanent injunction against using the voter-approved system that would allow the top two vote-getters in the primary to advance to the general election ballot.
Today's action means the case is not yet over, but it also means we will have an open primary (the "pick a party" system) this September while the case is being appealed.

Not long ago, Floyd McKay had a column in the Seattle Times about the ruling:
TRADITION is wonderful, but sometimes you just have to move on.

That's the case with the Washington "top-two" primary election; U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly put the stake in the heart of our unique voting system Friday, ruling that it doesn't meet federal constitutional standards.

The world has not ended, dear friends and neighbors, and the exact system of conducting primary elections is not ultimately the most important element in getting good public servants.

Quality public servants can emerge under almost any electoral system — certainly Washington's old blanket primary produced many distinguished public servants, and our share of dunderheads as well. Ditto the closed primary used in Oregon and the Montana-style primary we will revert to in September. To draw on history of 30 years ago, so as not to offend current politicians, Washington produced Dan Evans, Oregon Tom McCall and Montana Mike Mansfield under three very different primary systems.

It is not the system that determines quality — it is the quality of the electorate. You and me.

[...]

The rap on the Montana system is that "independent" voters in the primary must select only a Republican, Democratic or Libertarian ballot. In this age of political division, for better or worse, most of us lean enough to the right or left to pick a party ballot without difficulty.

There are worse things than declaring a party preference every two years, a declaration that applies only to the primary and is not recorded, sparing you from political-party solicitations. Closed primaries such as Oregon's record your party registration and don't give you a choice in the primary of switching sides. The Montana system is clearly more aligned with Washingtonians' desire to keep options open.

Washington's "top-two" primary was one of a kind (Louisiana's is similar, but different). Perhaps there was a reason for that? Montana's system is also used by at least seven other states: Hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, Vermont and Wisconsin. Pretty good company.

The Montana system protects voter privacy, offers more choices than a closed primary, and will certainly pass judicial muster. It's time for us to move on.
Well said.

It will be good to have the open primary system again for the second consecutive year. Voters just need to get used to the new system. The parties need to explain to voters why the open primary system is fairer and gives them more choices.

They haven't done a very good job in the past - and that needs to change.

Congress pledges $220 million for viaduct, I-912 would kill it

There's a surprise in the federal highways bill that is expected to pass Congress soon: $220 million has been allocated for replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

But, as Senator Murray explains:
"Everybody needs to understand that if the gas tax is repealed in November we will lose the federal dollars that have been allocated."
Meaning, of course, that if I-912 is pased in November, we'll lose the $220 million our lawmakers just secured for us.

Defeating Initiative 912 is becoming more imperative than ever.

The Legislature has already taken the bold step of passing a package that will allow us to make an investment in the future - to rebuild our transportation infrastructure, which is in sorry shape.

Federal lawmakers have worked hard to secure some funding for Congress.

But all that hard work and negotiation is in jeopardy because of backwards-thinking activists who see nothing but the cost of everything.

I-912 may as well be an Eyman initiative - it's not really any different.

Issues like Initiative 912 are the reason I became involved in politics in the first place. I was sick and tired of seeing initiatives pass that toss our state's future down the garbage bin.

Angry and frustrated that public services in this state were being decimated, and that Eyman kept persuading Washingtonians to think only about their pocketbooks.

I and everyone else at NPI will oppose Initiative 912 with every last bit of energy we posess. We will not stand by idly and do nothing while the other side tries to destroy our state's future.

We're going to do more than run a website - much more. We're going to fight and campaign harder than we've ever done before to see this initiative go down in flames. You can click on the link above to join us in the fight.

P-I becomes obsessed with I-912 strategy

The Seattle P-I's fascination with Initiative 912 continues.

This morning, the P-I editorial board and Joel Connelly are offering those of us against Initiative 912 more advice on how to fight the campaign.

The interests and citizens opposing I-912 are already working on aligning themselves together for the campaign this fall, but the media can't seem to resist offering us some strategy advice.

The Stranger just published Eli Sanders' ridiculous piece, entitled "The Western Strategy" (which is a stupid idea if I've ever read one myself) and the P-I apparently wants to jump on the bandwagon.

First of all, I found most of Joel Connelly's suggestions were not helpful.

Having Governor Christine Gregoire call for a shutdown of the monorail project is entirely ridiculous. The process is working by itself - having the governor jump in and call for its removal won't accomplish anything except please critics who just want to see the monorail go away.

People who live outside of Seattle aren't going to reject the gas tax because of the monorail. They're not paying for it, and they're not involved in the fiasco, either.

I recently heard the Post-Intelligencer shifted its focus more heavily onto Seattle in a bid to sell more papers.

Well, I don't live in Seattle, and I think the folks at the Post-Intelligencer (Joel especially) may be too Seattle-centric in their thinking.

It's also ridiculous that Joel wants the governor to step in and force the city of Seattle to go along with a viaduct replacement.

Building another viaduct is a cheap, lousy solution. Seattle has a chance to reclaim its waterfront and solve its seawall problem at the same time with a tunnel. A tunnel would also be much safer in case of an earthquake.

Yes, the tunnel is more costly. But the tunnel (and the seawall replacement) are investments in the future. It's called thinking ahead, Joel. That's what "Team Nickels" is doing at City Hall.

Getting rid of a tunnel isn't going to make skeptical voters reject Initiative 912, either. All the things Joel is proposing - essentially, taking "shortcuts" - just aren't going to convince voters to mark "no" on their ballots.

Complaints from the other side of the state seem to be focused on Interstate 5, not the projects Joel is talking about. And many of the folks over there probably don't want Washington to pay for any of the viaduct options, period.

The debate isn't going to be, "Should we shut down the Seattle Monorail Project?", or "Which option should we pick to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct?"

Backers of I-912 want the tax repealed, period. For them the issue is simply the cost - they don't want to pay for investments in the future, even when the impact of making the investment is miniscule at best. (It's a few pennies - the cost shouldn't be the issue).

The P-I editorial board definitely had the better piece, but, still:
Those working to defeat I-912 this fall must recognize two things. First, King, Pierce and Snohomish counties contain just over half of the state's voters and must be won by solid margins. Second, defending the tax increase will demand a tough, unconventional campaign that makes it dramatically clear to voters throughout the state just how much they'll lose to gain a few pennies per gallon.
Can you spell - D U H!

I can't say I make much of this "advice" - we know what the stakes are and what it will take to defeat Initiative 912 in terms of the vote.

They also said this:
With Referendum 51, the Legislature asked voters what they thought of raising the gas tax by 9 cents. Not much. Only San Juan County supported the increase...R-51 was rejected by 62 percent of voters.
Referendum 51 wasn't rejected just because of anger against a tax increase. Many progressives opposed it because it prioritized road funding and not other transit options. That was why it failed overwhelmingly. However, progressives support the package passed by the Legislature this year.

Maybe the folks at the P-I would like to get out of their armchairs...er, office chairs...and join us out in the streets to fight Initiative 912. They certainly seem to be interested in seeing its defeat. But, so far, I'm not impressed or enthused by their advice.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Permanent Defense Relaunches

NPI has successfully completed its third relaunch in three weeks.

The newly revamped Permanent Defense is here - and its annual July Relaunch project is finally completed.

The new Permanent Defense includes a new blog (the Permanent Defense Journal) and has been retooled to fight Initiative 900 this autumn.

The Secretary of State just announced that I-900 has qualified for the ballot today - and we've responded by launching our new website. We strongly encourage you to check it out and learn why you should vote no on Initiative 900 this fall.

For a full list of the changes, go to this page.

Seattle Times ad lies about estate tax

Frank Blethen is at it again.

The Seattle Times owner is known for never wasting an opportunity to rail against the estate tax. Usually, it's yet another editorial on the Times' op-ed page.

But today, it comes in the form of an advertisement which appears only in the Times print edition (and which you see reproduced to your left).

This "advertisement" supposedly comes from The Family Business Estate Tax Coalition. And at the bottom of the ad, it reads:

Ad space donated by The Blethen Corporation, a locally owned family business.

It's nice to know that if your issue happens to strike a nerve with Frank, he'll give you free ad space. When you have a newspaper owner on your side who's willing to give you free ad space, who needs an advertising budget?

The Times is at their service.

It's quite a large advertisement, too - it's 19 and a half centimeters wide, and forty and a half centimeters in height. (The page itself is 30 centimeters wide and about fifty eight centimeters in height. The ad covers roughly 2/3 or more of the page.)

The advertisement is brimming with outright lies and mistruths.

As it's not that easy to read what the ad says from the image above, we're reproducing the text of the advertisement below:

Who does the estate tax help?
It may be surprising to learn the Estate Tax severely harms women - and minority owned businesses. With rates as high as 55 percent, these owners are often forced to sell their businesses to pay the tax and local communities throughout our nation suffer.

“It wasn’t all that long ago when a woman had to take her husband to the bank to apply for credit or open a checking account. Today, half of all businesses in this country are owned by women. These 15.6 million women owned firms employ over 19 million people nationwide and one in seven of all employed persons in the United States is employed by a woman—owned business. The Estate Tax strikes these thriving entrepreneurs as unfair. Unfair because, at present rates, the estate tax steals half of the value of what these women spent their lives building, and limits the ability for the business to continue employing people and growing into the next generation.”

- BARBARA KASOFF, Co founder and COO of Women Impacting Public Policy, a national bipartisan organization representing more than 500,000 women in business.

“Building wealth will lead to better education, better health care, safer streets and sustainable communities. Poverty and the lack of economic empowerment will get you frustration and hopelessness. The only way to fight poverty is good government and laws that do not penalize hard work, success, and savings. Let’s put to death the “death tax”!”

- From an editorial written by HARRY C. ALFORD JR., President and CEO of the National Black Chamber of Commerce

“There is a direct correlation between locally owned businesses and community leadership. The owners of local businesses are most likely to be doing “the heavy lifting” in the community organizations that in turn contribute so much to making a great place to live. I know that the Estate Tax is a big factor in whether a locally owned business remains family-owned or sells to a larger, non-local owner. Ending the Estate Tax is an essential part of keeping engaged community leaders whose investments are local and whose futures are tied to the well-being of their community.

- GEORGE DUFF, Former president and CEO of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce

Who does the estate tax really help?
According to the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee, the Estate Tax raises very little, if any, net revenue for the federal government as a result of the high cost of enforcement and collection. So, who benefits? Big corporations and Wall Street investors who buy up family owned businesses when they are forced to sell. The tax lawyers and estate planners who profit from the activity surrounding the tax. And the life insurance companies who are working hard to protect their $12 billion in premiums if the Estate Tax is ended.

Senators Murray and Cantwell: You have the power to save Washington’s family-owned businesses and tens of thousands of jobs. We’re counting on you to say “no” to the Estate Tax.

The Estate Tax. End it for good.
The ad has so many lies in it, we hardly know where to begin.

The federal estate tax raised $23.4 billion last year. Repealing it would shift the burden off the fortunes left by the richest 1 percent of Americans, to the rest of the United States' citizens.

Either we'll have to assume the burden through higher taxes (unlikely under the Bush administration) reduced services, (somewhat likely under the Bush administration) or more borrowing (very likely under the Bush administration).

Did we mention that more borrowing means more debt? How's that for burdening future generations, Frank?

Repealing the estate tax is good for very wealthy Americans and nobody else.

The claims that the estate tax severly hampers women and minorities is completely bogus. Only very wealthy women and minorities would ever have to pay the estate tax.

William Gates, Sr. (father of Bill Gates) says:
“The question is, why are people wealthy? They worked hard, they’re smart, and they are American … (with) a police force that works, a court system that works, a market system that makes it possible to dispose of what you own. Economists tell us that having a stable market adds 30 percent to the value of everything you own.”
The estate tax is not new. We've been paying it for decades, and it hasn't crippled or destroyed our communities.

As to the people and the organizations in the advertisement:

Women Impacting Public Policy claims to represent half a million women in business. Not only does it favor repealing the estate tax permanently, but it's solidly behind Bush's plans to privatize Social Security. The Center for American Progress has this:
CHERRY PICKED CONVERSATION PARTICIPANTS: A recently discovered memo for an upcoming Social Security event in New York shows just how far the White House will go to get the "right" mix of people in the audience. Circulated by the group Women Impacting Public Policy, the memo didn't just announce the president's visit but "went on to solicit several types of people 'who he would like to visit with' – including a young worker who 'knows that [Social Security] could run out before they retire,' a young couple with children who like 'the idea of leaving something behind to the family' and a single parent who believes Bush's proposal for individual investment accounts 'would provide more retirement options and security' than the current system." Wait a second; it seems that the people solicited each represent "various arguments that Bush has been making for why Social Security should be overhauled." The memo ended by asking for "an immediate response" since they "[needed] to get names to the White House."
Sounds like a conservative organization. They can claim to be "bipartisan" but, they're obviously not progressive and they're clearly not moderates, either.

The National Black Chamber of Commerce has a similar story. They also support Bush's privatization plans and appear to have positions on issues similar to the conservative U.S. Chamber of Commerce. And they supported the disastrous 2003 Medicare bill championed by the White House, Frist, and Delay. Yet another conservative organization and Bush ally.

The Family Business Estate Tax Coalition itself appears to have been spawned by the National Federation of Independent Business, an archconservative organization that backs the administration.

These are not mainstream voices. They're leaders of conservative interest groups who support the Bush agenda. And their "testimonials" are slicked up to look like these people are moderate voices crying about against an unfair and unjust policy. The advertisement is a lie and its claims are outrageous.

The bottom line is that repealing the estate tax only helps the wealthy. Frank Blethen is using his position as a media titan to help spread these mistruths around. As David Goldstein noted:
Three generations of Blethens have managed to keep their inheritance in the family despite a much higher estate tax than the Times now rails against. If the current generation proves unwilling to make the same kind of sacrifices as their elders, then the Blethen family should blame itself, not the tax code.
We concur, and we urge you to spread the word that this advertisement is nothing but another attempt to spread myths about the estate tax.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

CAFTA passes by two votes in the House

Via Daily Kos:
I just spoke to Congresswoman Louise Slaughter, I serve as her spokesperson on the Rules Committee, and she wanted me to let you know that while Tom DeLay has pledged to keep the vote open (now approaching 30 mins over schedule) until they win, she and other Democrats will be working just as hard to make sure the interests of the American people are upheld.

I will continue to check in here with status updates and encourage you to leave your thoughts and comments. Also, please recommend this diary so others can join in the the fight to stop CAFTA and the Republican abuse of power.

UPDATE - We are at the 1 hour mark on what should be a 15 minute vote. Now that's democracy.

UPDATE 2 - Well they just announced the vote... and the GOP won by holding the vote open and twisting arms. Reprehensible. I'm sure the American people won't soon forget what happened tonight.

UPDATE FROM LOUISE: Congresswoman Slaughter wanted to relay this to you "Thank you for staying up late with all of us as we watched this abuse of power unfold in real time. The people deserve better from their Congress. Holding the vote open to twist arms and win a few more votes flies in the face of all we stand for as a democracy. Our work is not yet over. We must continue to shine the light on these and all future abuses."
This is disappointing news. NPI believes this legislation will only harm our economy further.

Here's a list of Democrats who voted for CAFTA:

IL 08 Melissa L. Bean
TN 05 Jim Cooper
TX 28 Henry Cuellar
WA 06 Norman D. Dicks
TX 15 Rubén Hinojosa
LA 02 William J. Jefferson
UT 02 Jim Matheson
NY 06 Gregory W. Meeks
KS 03 Dennis Moore
VA 08 James P. Moran
TX 27 Solomon P. Ortiz
MO 04 Ike Skelton
AR 02 Vic Snyder
TN 08 John S. Tanner
NY 10 Edolphus Towns

Our own Norm Dicks is on there. Thanks for stabbing American workers in the back, Norm. The rest of our Democratic delegation voted against CAFTA. All three WA Republicans voted for it, though 27 Republicans voted against.

Wal*Mart reverses course, lifts ban on Penascola News Journal

Earlier, we told you about how a Wal*Mart regional manager decided to ban a Penascola newspaper from area stores because he didn't like what one of the paper's columnists was writing.

Well, Wal*Mart bigwigs have apparently realized the error their manager made:
Wal-Mart will allow the Pensacola News Journal to be sold at area stores, rescinding a ban imposed because of a newspaper column that a local manager considered derogatory to the retailer.

Columnist Mark O'Brien wrote in June 19 editions that Pensacola should "be more than the Wal-Mart kind of town we're becoming -- cheap and comfy on the surface, lots of unhappiness and hidden costs underneath."

O'Brien then cited a New York Times report that Georgia's health-care program included more than 10,000 children of Wal-Mart workers, costing taxpayers nearly $10 million a year. He noted the Times report was cited in "The World is Flat," a new book by Thomas Friedman about the global economy.

"We did make an error in judgment by removing the papers from our stores," Wal-Mart Stores Inc. spokeswoman Sharon Weber said in an e-mail from company headquarters in Bentonville, Ark. "They should be available in our stores by the end of the week."

Wal-Mart sells the "The World is Flat" in its stores and on its Web site, Weber noted in a follow-up e-mail.

"I am unaware of any prior instance in which a book or periodical was removed from our shelves because it was critical of our company," she wrote.

Weber declined to discuss any disciplinary action against Pensacola district manager Bob Hart, who issued the ban.
Tip to Joe Reilly for pointing this out in our comment thread.

Newspaper editor refuses to be subverted by Wal*Mart

Via DailyKos, we receive word that a newspaper editor in Penascola, Florida, is refusing to be subverted by Wal*Mart:

You can't buy the Pensacola News Journal at Wal-Mart anymore.

The store ordered us off their property, told us to come pick up our newspaper racks and clear out.

So we did.

A few people called last week, some even wrote letters to the editor, and wanted to know why they couldn't buy the newspaper at Wal-Mart in the days after Hurricane Dennis.

Some managers at Wal-Mart didn't appreciate a column Mark O'Brien wrote last month about the downside of the cheap prices that Sam Walton's empire has brought to America.
(emphasis mine).

And it gets better:
Here's what Mark wrote:

"I like Wal-Mart prices the same as the next shopper, but there's a downside, too. Many Wal-Mart employees lack the fringe benefits and insurance that makes the difference between existence and a good quality of life. Yet, we customers pay a surcharge from a different pocket — subsidizing health care for Wal-Mart employees who can't afford it."

Mark then described how Friedman's book pointed out that more than 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees are in a Georgia health-care program, which costs the state's taxpayers nearly $10 million a year. Mark also pointed out that a New York Times report found that 31 percent of the patients at a North Carolina hospital were Wal-Mart employees on Medicaid.

Mark's column really wasn't about Mr. Walton's store, but about Pensacola and how we're becoming a Wal-Mart kind of town, "cheap and comfy on the surface, lots of unhappiness and hidden costs underneath."

That was the point Mark was trying to make.

Bob Hart, one of the upper managers for the Wal-Marts in the area, called me and said he didn't like Mark's column, didn't like a lot of Mark's columns.
And Bob Hart, one of the upper managers for Wal-Marts in the area, doesn't believe in the First Amendment:
Mr. Hart, however, said he and his stores couldn't tolerate a newspaper that would print the opinions of someone who was as mean and negative as Mark O'Brien. But, you know, Mark's not nearly as ornery as that left-wing rabble-rouser Molly Ivins, whose column the newspaper also publishes. At any rate, Mr. Hart said he wanted the newspaper to get its racks off his lots. But he also said that if I fired Mark, we could talk about continuing to sell the newspaper at his stores.
As a commentor on Daily Kos noted - this is what we call EXTORTION.

The newspaper editor's response?
Wal-Mart is a company that wraps itself in red, white and blue.

I might understand it if Wal-Mart said I ought to fire Mark because what he said wasn't accurate. But that isn't the case. Mark accurately reported that there are 10,000 children of Wal-Mart employees in a health-care program that is costing Georgia taxpayers nearly $10 million a year.

Shouldn't we talk about that?

When we stop listening to people on the other side of the fence, when we try to silence and even punish people for thinking differently than we do and raising facts and figures we don't like, well, we won't be red, white and blue anymore.

That's why Mark still has a job and you can't buy a Pensacola News Journal at Wal-Mart anymore.
We applaud Mr. Randy Hammer for his courageous stand and his refusal to let Wal-Mart suppress free speech and freedom of the press.

Wal*Mart is an evil, unpatriotic company that hurts its own workers and ruthlessly drives competitiors out of business. Don't spend a single penny at Wal*Mart. Get a Costco membership instead.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Governor Gregoire approves new wind farm in Kittitas County

We just received good news from the Governor's Office:
Gov. Christine Gregoire today approved plans for a wind farm in Kittitas County that will provide clean energy for Washingtonians while boosting the local economy by bringing in jobs and tax dollars.

The Wild Horse Wind Farm is a collaborative effort between Zilkha Renewable Energy and Puget Sound Energy. Zilkha is developing the project; Puget Sound Energy has agreed to purchase and operate the wind farm once it is completed. The facility is planned for land northeast of Ellensburg.

"This is a terrific project because it combines economic development and environmental stewardship," Gov. Gregoire said. "The wind farm will use cutting-edge technology to bring money and jobs to the community while providing clean and affordable energy."

After thorough review this spring, the state Energy Facility Site Evaluation Council unanimously recommended approval of the project. The Kittitas County Commissioners also approved it. By signing the site agreement certificate in Ellensburg today, the governor gave final approval to Zilkha's application, giving the company the green light to move ahead.

Construction could begin as soon as this fall, and will take about 12-15 months to complete. The project is expected to put up to 250 people to work. Once it's operational, about 14 permanent positions will be needed to run the wind farm.
NPI applauds this move and this project. This is a clear investment in clean, renewable energy that will diversify our power source without polluting the environment.

More details on the plan:
Plans call for between 104 and 158 wind turbine generators at the site. They will produce up to 312 megawatts of electricity - enough to power as many as 100,000 homes. Because that power comes from wind, the new facility will have little or no impact on air quality, water or climate.

"The Wild Horse project will help us secure environmentally friendly energy for our customers at a stable price and limit exposure to the volatile energy market," said Stephen P. Reynolds, chairman, president and CEO of Puget Sound Energy.

"Wild Horse, along with our Hopkins Ridge Wind Project, will enable us to supply nearly 5 percent of our customers' total electricity needs by 2013 with clean, renewable energy."

"We're delighted this project will benefit Kittitas County with new family-wage jobs and additional sources of revenue," Reynolds added.

The Wild Horse Wind Farm will add more than $4.5 million to the local economy and is expected to become Kittitas County's largest single taxpayer.

The project site is several thousand acres of shrub-steppe habitat, some of which is owned by the state Departments of Natural Resources and Fish and Wildlife. It is estimated that the agencies will receive more than $300,000 a year in royalties for use of the property. Those funds will go toward supporting wildlife protection efforts and public schools.
All parties involved in this project should be commended for working together to make a difference for our environment.

Discovery launch successful

Discovery has successfully blasted off from the launch pad.



The NY Times reports:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 26 - The Discovery completed its climb into space after taking off as planned at 10:39, embarking on the first shuttle journey since the loss of Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003.The shuttle showed no signs at liftoff of the sensor troubles that had bedeviled NASA's last attempt to launch.

Just over two minutes after launching, the shuttle shed its rocket boosters and external tank, and shut down its main engines, signs that the craft had reached space. Parachutes were deployed from the boosters that allow them to drift back to earth and into the Atlantic Ocean, from where they will be towed ashore.
This is great news and we wish the crew of Discovery well.

Discovery scheduled to return to space

The NY Times reports on the latest news from Cape Canaveral:
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., July 26 - The shuttle Discovery awaits its return to flight this morning with no sign of the sensor troubles that have bedeviled NASA's last attempt to launch.

At 6:43, the three-hour launch countdown began. If the launching takes place as planned at 10:39 this morning, it will be the first shuttle flight since the loss of Columbia and its crew of seven astronauts over Texas on Feb. 1, 2003. The probability that the launch might have to be scrubbed because of local weather conditions has dropped to just 20 percent.
We'll post more information on the shuttle's progress as it develops.

Monday, July 25, 2005

SEIU, Teamsters make it official; WSLC to be affected

Well, they've made it official. They're quitting:
Leaders of two of the largest unions in the A.F.L.-C.I.O. - the Service Employees International Union and the Teamsters - said today that they are quitting the federation in an expected but highly controversial move that underscores a major schism in the national labor movement.

"We must have more union members in order to change the political climate that is undermining workers rights in this country," the Teamsters president, James P. Hoffa, said today. "The A.F.L.-C.I.O. has chosen the opposite approach. Today's decision means that we have chosen a course of growth and strength for the American labor movement based on organizing new members."

The two unions said they were forming a competing labor coalition that they hope will address the decline in union membership. Mr. Hoffa said that the Teamsters have partnered with seven "strong and progressive" unions in the Change to Win coalition, a recently formed coalition of labor unions whose leaders have criticized the A.F.L.-C.I.O. for failing to "embrace fundamental reforms that would strengthen labor's ability to make real headway."
More unions could follow, too:
Well, not that this surprises anyone here but, yes, SEIU and the Teamsters have pulled out of the Federation — effective immediately (sorry for the delay—can you believe it, no wireless at the press conference!!!). And I hear from insiders that the UFCW will pull out by the end of the week. As for UNITE HERE, a senior person told me, "that the other shoe doesn't always drop on the same day."
And on the local level?

Folks at the Washington State Labor Council tell NPI this means they will be affected as well. If unions disaffiliate from the AFL-CIO nationally, they must also disaffiliate locally (on the state level), which means they'll take their funding with them.

The WSLC has already lost about 15% of its funding with the loss of SEIU and the Teamsters, whose decision to leave was made official today. Should some of the other unions in the "Change to Win" coalition follow this national move, the council could lose up to 40% of its current funding.

The state council is holding a convention next week, with the theme of a crossroads. Delegates will discuss where to go from here and how to restructure the state labor council to deal with the loss of the unions that are disaffiliating.

NPI offers its best wishes to everyone at the state labor council and hopes that America's working people will emerge from these troubled and cloudy times as a stronger force.

More Information: Tim Nesbitt's blog | Working Life blog

The Costco Business Philosophy

Several days ago, I read a New York Times article about Costco (How Costco Became the Anti-Wal-Mart) which was subsequently picked up this weekend by Daily Kos and David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org.

The article was old news to me. It was almost like a more up to date version of an article I read which was published in the December 15th 2004 issue of Seattle Weekly, or even the original article I saw in the November 2003 issue of FORTUNE. That article was entitled, "The Only Company Wal Mart Fears" and it started off like this:
In the world of retailing, Wal-Mart is the unstoppable, insatiable force. With $247 billion in revenues—and growing 15% a year—it reduces downtown shop owners to quivering jelly and once-formidable competitors, like Kmart, to bankruptcy. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott rules the commercial strip the way Julius Caesar once ruled the Roman republic.

Except, that is, for a solitary rebel-held province where a company 20% the size of Wal-Mart has made a monkey of the 800-pound gorilla. In the retail niche of warehouse clubs, the irresistible force is an irresolute flailer. During the past ten years Wal-Mart has gone through five CEOs and countless stratagems at Sam's Club trying to assume its customary command.

All have been thwarted by Costco Wholesale, the master of the cavernous space.
Yes, Costco Wholesale, our local warehouse titan, is increasingly becoming known as the anti-Wal Mart because of the way it runs its business. But unlike the New York Times article, the 2003 FORTUNE article offered a a lengthy, powerful glimpse into what makes Costco so successful.

Before I get to those excerpts, though, here's an excerpt from FORTUNE which gives you some idea of how Costco does business:
Consider some figures. Sam's Club has 71% more U.S. stores than Costco (532 to 312), yet for the year ended Aug. 31, Costco had 5% more sales ($34.4 billion vs. an estimated $32.9 billion). The average Costco store generates nearly double the revenue of a Sam's Club ($112 million vs. $63 million).

Costco is the U.S.'s biggest seller of fine wines ($600 million a year) and baster of poultry (55,000 rotisserie chickens a day). Last year it sold 45 million hot dogs at $1.50 each and 60,000 carats of diamonds at up to $100,000.
Costco has been beating Wal Mart at its own game. And people love shopping there:
Chef Julia Child [used to] buy meat at Costco. Yuppies seek the latest gadgets there. Even people who don't have to pinch pennies shop at Costco. "I like bargain securities," says Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger, a Costco shopper, investor, and director. "Why shouldn't I like bargain golf balls?"
Indeed. My family has patronized Costco Wholesale for years. We shop there at least every month, mostly buying food, but also occasionally books, outdoor and recreational equipment, clothing/accessories, and electronics.

Now to FORTUNE's profile of Costco's leader:
James D. Sinegal, the president and CEO of Costco, has no palace guard and no profile to speak of, particularly compared to a retail legend like Sam Walton.

Yet he's the guy who in 20 years has taken Costco from a startup to the FORTUNE 50 using, as surely as Mr. Sam, highly distinctive practices. He caps Costco's markups at 14% (department store markups can reach 40%).

He offers the best wages and benefits in retail (full-time hourly workers make $ 40,000 after four years). He gives customers blanket permission for returns: no receipts; no questions; no time limits, except for computers — and even then the grace period is six months.
There can be no doubt - Mr. Sinegal is truly a great man who understands that good business means treating your workers well.

As in the New York Times article by Mr. Greenhouse, FORTUNE's writer noted that Costco has come under attack by Wall Street suits:
Analysts have pounded on Sinegal to trim the company's generous health benefits and to otherwise reduce labor costs. But he's taken only limited steps in that direction, like modestly increasing employees' share of health-insurance premiums. That doesn't satisfy critics like Deutsche Bank analyst Bill Dreher, who recently wrote, "Costco continues to be a company that is better at serving the club member and employee than the shareholder."
Yeah - shareholders are entitled to always be treated better than customers and employees - right, Mr. Dreher? That's how Wal Mart works.

Well, James Sinegal says - Not at Costco! A quote from the FORTUNE article:
"We think when you take care of your customer and your employees, your shareholders are going to be rewarded in the long run. And I'm one of them [the shareholders]; I care about the stock price. But we're not going to do something for the sake of one quarter that's going to destroy the fabric of our company and what we stand for."
Admirably stated - and an excellent philosophy.

The FORTUNE article then delves into what makes Costco different from Sam's Club, noting how Costco set its sights on small business owners while Wal Mart executives ended up defaulting to their comfort zone: the mass middle class market.

And playing catch up is difficult:
On a recent reconnaissance mission to Sam's Club, [Costco Chairman] Jeff Brotman was near a stack of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts when he overheard a customer say, "Can you imagine? Who in their right mind would buy a T-shirt for $39?" Says Brotman: "It was actually a very good deal; it would have cost $59 in a department store. But she didn't see the value, and Sam's built its customer base on people like that. It's very difficult to shift gears."
As someone who has studied marketing, I was intrigued by this article when it came out two years ago. What Costco understood was what its primary target market should be - the target market it could build its business around.

The FORTUNE article then describes Costco's roots and the "axioms" that its business model is built on. One of the most important ones:
AXIOM NO. 3: Take care of your employees...Costco pays the top wage in retail, starting employees at $ 10 an hour. In the minds of Price and Sinegal, high wages yield high productivity, low turnover — Costco's is a third of the retail industry average of 64%, according to the National Retail Foundation — and minimal shrinkage; that's retail-speak for theft, which at Costco is about 13% of the industry norm.
Costco proves that treating your workers well is good business and reduces costs.

I especially enjoyed this part from the FORTUNE article about CEO Sinegal's energy and leadership style:

Sinegal reinforces [the business philosophy] by traveling 200 days a year, trying to visit every store twice annually. He's got energy that leaves people half his age floundering in his wake. (Must be the near-daily racquetball games.)

He doesn't inspect the troops; he interrogates them. CFO Richard Galanti, who sometimes goes along, recites the typical Sinegal rat-a-tat to store managers: "What's hot? What's Sam's beating us on? Have you seen that item in Best Buy? Don't you think we should have that?" All the while Sinegal scribbles notes that, upon his return to headquarters, will become the basis of memos and more questions that he will fire off in all directions.
Amazing. What a leader. He certainly sets the standard for other executives.

And he's humble, something that's almost unheard of for an executive:
Sinegal has also kept himself in the good graces of subordinates by limiting his pay. His $350,000 salary last year was practically cause for drumming him out of the FORTUNE 500 CEO club; and at his own request, he took no bonus for the third consecutive year.

He does have $ 16.5 million worth of options, but he's intent on capping his salary and bonus at about twice the level of a Costco store manager.
Neither does he care that Wal Mart - through Sam's Club - is trying its very hardest to challenge Costco:
[Sinegal] loves keeping his troops in "a state of healthy paranoia," and there's no better motivational tool than telling them the superpower's missiles are aimed at them. "We've succeeded by being a moving target, by hitting them where they ain't," says Sinegal. "We need constant reminders to keep us on our game. I say at our management conferences that the amount Wal-Mart grows in just one year is the equivalent of Costco's size."
Here's to James Sinegal, here's to Costco, here's to good business, and here's to its future.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

SEIU, Teamsters to defect from AFL-CIO

An update on the split in the house of labor:
Jolting organized labor, the Teamsters and a massive service employees' union decided Sunday to bolt the AFL-CIO, paving way for two other labor groups to sever ties in the movement's biggest schism since the 1930s.

The four dissident unions, representing nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, announced they were boycotting the federation's convention that begins Monday, a step that was widely considered to be a precursor to leaving the federation.

They are part of the Change to Win Coalition, a group of seven unions vowing to accomplish what the AFL-CIO has failed to do: Reverse the decades-long decline in union membership.

But many union presidents, labor experts and Democratic Party leaders fear the split will weaken the movement politically and hurt unionized workers who need a united and powerful ally against business interests and global competition.
Oregon AFL-CIO president Tim Nesbitt has more from the convention on his blog.

Four unions boycotting AFL-CIO meeting

Trouble is brewing within the ranks of labor:
Organized labor split into warring factions Sunday as four major unions staged a boycott of the AFL-CIO convention, poised to sever ties to the 50-year-old federation in a dispute over how to reverse the decades-long decline of union membership.

Dissident unions representing nearly one-third of the AFL-CIO's 13 million members, primarily in the service and retail industries, planned to announce the boycott late Sunday, several labor officials told The Associated Press. The convention was beginning Monday.

None of the four unions intended to cut ties immediately from the AFL-CIO, but the boycott makes that next step a high probability, officials said. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they were not authorized to discuss failed weekend negotiations to avoid the boycott.
We can only hope that the rift won't be too harmful:
A divided labor movement worries Democratic leaders who rely on the AFL-CIO's money and manpower on Election Day. Some said they could only hope that the battle jolts the House of Labor from its decades-only slump.

"Anything that sidetracks us from our goals ... is not healthy," said Rep. Rahm Emanuel, D-Ill., chairman of the House campaign committee.
We agree. For a deeper and more thoughtful perspective, check out Oregon AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt's blog. Mr. Nesbitt is attending the AFL-CIO convention and offering us his thoughts and reflections. We defer to his expertise and follow his conclusions on this battle within the house of labor.

Times article focuses on upcoming I-912 fight

Andrew Garber of the Seattle Times has an article on Initiative 912 today:
Three months after patting themselves on the back for passing the biggest transportation tax package in state history, state lawmakers and their supporters now fear Initiative 912 will take it all away.

The initiative would repeal a 9.5-cent-per-gallon gas tax passed by the Legislature earlier this year, and likely pull the plug on hundreds of projects to improve roads around the state. The $8.5 billion package earmarks money to help replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Highway 520 floating bridge and pays for scores of other improvements across the state. The tax is phased in over four years; the first 3-cent increase took effect July 1.
We're glad to see that Garber mentioned that this investment "pays for scores of other improvements across the state" because it does. Moving on:
[I-912] could spell the end of efforts to tackle major transportation projects in the state for years, Democratic leaders in the Legislature said.

Brett Bader, a spokesman for the I-912 campaign, disagreed and said the Legislature has only itself to blame for the initiative.
Ridiculous, Brett. The Legislature is trying to make an investment in the future of the state. There isn't an accountability problem. There is a problem, however, with you and your cronies preying on peoples' fears to stir up mistrust of government.

Again, moving on:
Steve Mullin, president of the Washington Roundtable, said it's not clear yet how major corporations will deal with I-912. The Roundtable includes high-profile companies such as Boeing and Microsoft and endorsed the transportation tax package passed by the Legislature. "We're still in the early stages of mobilizing," Mullin said.

Rep. Ed Murray, D-Seattle, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, said I-912 can be beat. "I don't take it for granted that it's going to pass," he said. "I think if a campaign is run that's county by county that shows people at the local level the roads that they're getting, it has a chance" of being defeated.
And we will continue to organize and mobilize. Ed Murray is right. Initiative 912 can be beaten. It's a challenge, but it's also an opportunity. Moving on again:
Donna Ireland, owner of Donna's Cafe in the small town of Pomeroy in Garfield County, said she quickly filled two petitions with signatures, "no sweat." If the petitions hadn't arrived late, "we would have filled up more."

"We've got so many taxes that it's just about to tax me out of business. Gas is just one more tax on top of it," Ireland said, adding that a lot of her customers feel the same way. "We know where it's always spent, and that's over on I-5."
This comment just shows you how ignorant the people in Eastern Washington are. They've under the wrong impression of how transportation spending works. Their minds are being manipulated for political gain by people who don't want Washington to invest in safe roads.

Washington Defense has a page showing which projects in rural counties will be jeopardized or outright eliminated if the initiative passes.

In fact, over three fourths of the money is NOT being spent on Interstate 5. Who makes up these assumptions?

The article also discusses the thinking that the monorail might cause Seattle voters to favor I-912. We think that's rubbish. Seattle voters aren't going to rush to support I-912 because of monorail woes.

The gas tax deals with roads, not monorails, and there are few in Seattle who aren't concerned about the viaduct and the floating bridge.

Bader said I-912 is intended to send a message to lawmakers to come back with a better transportation plan.

"We've got to solve the congestion problem. I'd hope they get right back to work. Our goal is to send them back to the drawing board, not to scare them away from ever doing anything," Bader said
Brett, you're an idiot.

We've got news for you, Brett: INITIATIVE 912 SCARES THE LEGISLATURE AWAY FROM EVER DOING ANYTHING!

Rep. Ed Murray and Lance LeLoup get it right:
Rep. Murray said lawmakers would be unlikely to take risky gas-tax votes again anytime soon if the initiative is approved by voters. "If this thing passes, I think it's probably over for transportation for a long time."

Washington State University political scientist Lance LeLoup agreed.

"What is the point of doing a politically courageous thing ... and approve an unpopular gas tax to improve transportation if it's going to be repealed and your opponent in the next election is going to beat you with it?" he said.
We don't know where Brett gets his logic from. He probably pulls it out of his rear end.

Again, leaders in the state legislature are toying with the idea of keeping funds where they're generated if the initiative should pass:
One consequence of I-912's passing could be an effort in the Legislature to break state transportation funding into geographic regions that are responsible for roads in their own area, said House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam.

Historically, urban areas of the state, with their dense populations, have subsidized road work in more rural areas with smaller tax bases.

"The public apparently is not interested in our policies. We could form a new policy that has everybody responsible for their own areas," she said. "That would lead to people having to tax themselves to get a bridge repaired or road paved."
Remember what we said weeks ago? Eastern Washingtonians - and that includes you, Donna Ireland - you are being fairly warned. Support I-912 at your own peril. When we keep the money here in central Puget Sound, it'll be you guys that end up paying the price.

It's only fair. If Eastern Washingtonians aren't interested in taking advantage of a policy that benefits everyone, they can lose out and pay for their own road repairs - by themselves.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Daily Show Highlights July 18th-21st

Those of you who were unable to catch the Daily Show this week or just don't have access to Comedy Central missed some great shows. Dem Bloggers, the usual source of our highlights, did not post any videos this week.

However, that doesn't mean no clips are available. Common Bits has many different Daily Show clips available - a number from this week, in fact, but you'll need a BitTorrent client such as Azeurus to download them.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Off the Wahl on Initiative 912

Local editorial cartoonist Andrew Wahl has graciously offered Pacific Northwest Portal and many of its syndicate members (including HorsesAss.org, Evergreen Politics, and WashBlog that we know of so far) nonexclusive rights to reproduce his editorial cartoons on our sites.

So we're taking advantage of his offer. Below is a cartoon Mr. Wahl drew about Initiative 912:

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Some GOP activists unhappy with the anointing of McGavick

An article appeared yesterday in the Hill entitled, "GOP grassroots say they're getting mowed down in Washington state" talking about the state Republican Party's leadership and its tendency to "anoint" candidates - such as Dino Rossi, George Nethercutt, and now, Mike McGavick:
Conservative activists in Washington state say GOP leaders in the nation’s capital and at state party headquarters are trying to anoint a candidate, sidelining the poll workers, phone-bank volunteers and precinct canvassers who form the backbone of the Republican Party — echoing sentiments of many activists in Florida, Michigan and elsewhere.

“Chris Vance did not consult me before he said he thought McGavick would be good,” said Bob Strauss, a member of the state party’s executive committee, referring to the state party chairman. “[Former Rep.] Jennifer Dunn [R-Wash.] didn’t call me and tell me that. Slade Gorton didn’t.”

Gorton did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Strauss added: “I work too hard in this party to have some kingmaker tell me who my candidate is going to be.”

Diane Tebelius, the GOP’s national committeewoman in Washington state, said a robust primary is just what the party needs.

“If you can’t debate someone in your own party, how are you going to debate someone on the other side?” asked Tebelius, a former federal prosecutor who is considering a Senate bid herself.
Yes, why is it that the Republican Party leadership...namely, Chris Vance...thinks that the GOP doesn't need any contested primaries? Isn't that the point of the open primary system we're fighting so hard to keep in place?

Chris Vance and Company don't seem to think a contested primary provides any benefit whatsoever for their party. Maybe that's what they think, but their faithful don't seem to wholeheartedly share their view. The bigwigs are all jumping behind McGavick, but what about the Republican Party's base?

Is McGavick the guy they want? Did anybody ask them?

When Maria Cantwell ran for Senate six years ago, she ran in a contested primary. And then she ran against incumbent Slade Gorton and unseated him. Contested primaries aren't such a bad thing.

It makes you wonder exactly what Chris Vance is afraid of.

Attention shifts back to Rove

Prezident Bush may have thought he could escape Rovegate and the scandal erupting over the outing of Valerie Plame - but he couldn't.

It's been reported that the President made his announcement of his intention to nominate John Roberts to the Supreme Court early just to get his chief advisor and strategist out of the headlines.

Unfortunately for Bush, it isn't working. The Washington Post has a new story this morning on its front page, entitled "Plame's Identity Marked As Secret" (Memo Central to Probe Of Leak Was Written By State Dept. Analyst):
A classified State Department memorandum central to a federal leak investigation contained information about CIA officer Valerie Plame in a paragraph marked "(S)" for secret, a clear indication that any Bush administration official who read it should have been aware the information was classified, according to current and former government officials.

Plame -- who is referred to by her married name, Valerie Wilson, in the memo -- is mentioned in the second paragraph of the three-page document, which was written on June 10, 2003, by an analyst in the State Department's Bureau of Intelligence and Research (INR), according to a source who described the memo to The Washington Post.

The paragraph identifying her as the wife of former ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV was clearly marked to show that it contained classified material at the "secret" level, two sources said. The CIA classifies as "secret" the names of officers whose identities are covert, according to former senior agency officials.
Uh oh. Rove is back in the news spotlight again.

Kos asks this question, and then answers it:
So who is singing to the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post? This piece cites "two sources familiar with the investigation." The special prosecutor has been leak-free thus far, and would likely try to stay that way (especially one who has shown as much contempt for the press as this one).

The Rovians, who have leaked like sieves (most of it lies), aren't going to leak this golden nugget. Powell? He did his damage yesterday, placing the memo right on the White House's lap. So who's left?

It's the CIA. Funny how those guys don't like their covers blown.
No surprise there. One has to imagine that the intelligence community - particularly the CIA - is irked that Bush and his administration cronies place politics above national security, and are willing to expend or blame members of the intelligence community to advance their political agenda.

So they're retaliating. Kind of like how Deep Throat (the FBI's Mark Felt) worked to help bring down the corrupt Nixon administration by sharing information with Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

NPI Media Alert: Executive Director on TV

I have the pleasure of appearing as the guest on Moral Politics this week. The show runs for a half hour and starts at 6 PM. You can watch the show on cable (channel 77 or 29) or stream the show on your computer.

It's tomorrow (Thursday, July 21st, 2005).

The show should also be available as a clip afterwards in case you can't watch it live. We'll be talking about Initiative 912 as well as Pacific Northwest Portal and other work that NPI has been doing.

Reviews Are Coming In...

So what are people saying about the new Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.0? Here's just a few responses:

From BlatherWatch: "Pacific Northwest Portal, the one-stop for progressive political news, weather and sports for Washington, Oregon and Idaho has today launched the spanking new and improved Version 3.0. It features regional and national political news wires, and 156 progressive blogs. They've syndicated seven new blogs--BlatherWatch is proud to be one of them. Congratulations to the others who include Progressive Majority Washington, CoolAqua, Blue Washington; The American Street, Economist's View, and Radical Noesis. The Portal is where BlatherWatch eats its breakfast every morning -- you must go there at once."

From Washblog: "The good folks over at NWProgressive have made numerous upgrades to their premier web portal, the NWPortal. So much so, they have revision numbers and document the changes..."

From Progressive Majority Washington: "Pacific Northwest Portal has again revamped and upgraded its design, and Version 3.0 launched today. The new Pacific Northwest Portal is sleeker, faster, and more reliable than the previous version, and includes eight new blogs to the syndicate including Progressive Majority Washington (whoohoo!, although we are on the second page of Washington blogs). The directory now includes 156 progressive blogs from Washington, Oregon and Idaho..."

From Also Also: "Another milestone for NW Portal, the Northwest's premier clearinghouse of progressive voices from the Pacific Northwest: version 3.0 has been launched, nicknamed "True Blue." In many ways it looks much the same as it has before, but the interface is cleaner, the RSS feeds improved, and there are some new features that are quite helpful. In particular, I like the improved toolkit, which has traffic cams, business reports and weather. The state Democratic Party website links are also helpful as resources for activism/journalism. But my favorite part might be the new "Oregon Ticker" on the extended state page...."

From Daily Kos user nudger: "Northwest Portal is becoming an important go-to site for progressives here. In Washington State, we have a blue oasis in the national red sea where we are doing at a state level what we'd like to see at a national level - reasonable environmental legislation, improvements in the lives of working people, thinking about the future. Consequently we've got a giant target on our chests. NWPortal provides us a place to learn from each other, support each other, urge each other on, and share where we can best focus our energy. The local blogoshere is the place to build the base. That's why it's so important."

We'll continue to add more as we spot them.

True Blue is HERE - Version 3.0 Launches!

It's finally here.

Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.0 has been completed and launched.

It's a huge step forward into a new era of our history.

It took us weeks and weeks, but we're finally satisfied - for the most part. While there a couple small issues that still need to be worked out, we've decided it's time to hand over the new site to you for your enjoyment.

The new Pacific Northwest Portal is sleeker, faster, and more reliable. It has more information than ever before, but yet it's better organized so that you can quickly find and access it.

Highlights of our relaunch? For starters, how about our new syndicate members? We're welcoming eight new blogs to the syndicate.

Two of these blogs are replacing other blogs that are leaving the syndicate - and we're adding another six to the mix as well.

But it's not just the syndicate, either. Our blogs & websites directory now stands at an impressive 156 progressive blogs - including syndicate members and an additional one hundred and twenty six individual, unique, and independent voices.

The site feels different, too. The design, especially the new header bar at the top of all our pages, is edgier and cleaner. It's softer and more user-friendly.

There's new pages too - including the very useful Democratic Party directory and the utility that quickly allows you to make the Portal's front page your start page.

For the whole scoop, see the overview.

Version 3.0 started with your feedback. This relaunch is all about delivering a better website. We're striving to live up to our mission of providing you with the latest political news and giving you easy access to the unique, independent viewpoints that characterize our region.

We want you to tell us what you think. What do you think of the changes? How can we improve even more and serve you better? Let us hear from you.

Haven't seen the new site yet? What are you waiting for? Take a look.

Overview of the Changes at Pacific Northwest Portal

The following blog post describes and details all of the changes we made to the new Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.0, organized in several categories:

Overall Site Improvements
  • We've totally redesigned the Pacific Northwest Portal header bar, introducing new graphics, a new link bar, and a cleaner interface. The details:
    1. New Title Graphic. The new header bar includes a beautiful new title graphic designed by the Portal's web team featuring the Portal name in a new font. It's cleaner, softer, and conveys a higher standard of quality for our website.
    2. New Link Bar. Our new link bar system is one of our most innovative improvements. We listened specifically to your feedback and suggestions, and we were told the existing link system was confusing because it was stacked in two rows and it was hard to read in dark colors. Well, we've fixed that. The new link system is all in white, and when you mouse over a link, it changes color from blue to green.
    3. Reorganization. Our readers also told us to get rid of the URL on our header bar and make it cleaner. That's just what we've done. The clock has moved right above the new link bar and a new Welcome message was added.
  • More Reliable Feeds. Many of the RSS feeds on our site have suffered from display problems that cause them not to load. We believe we've laid this problem to rest at last. Feeds will be much more reliable and should always load, especially in Internet Explorer. We're still working out a couple remaining issues with keeping the feeds updated, but bear with us.
  • Autorefresh. If you stay on a Portal page with dynamic content (such as RSS feeds) for longer than ten minutes, the page will automatically refresh so you can see the latest information. No more stagnant pages!


The Front Page
  • New Syndicate Member. The Pacific Northwest Portal front page includes a new syndicate member from Idaho - The Political Game, which takes the place of Our Purple Mountains' Majesty. We made this change because the Political Game is a new, exciting blog that's posted to more frequently.
  • WashBlog Moves to Front Page. WashBlog, an original member of the Expanded Washington group, is moving to our front page. WashBlog is being promoted because it's an outstanding blog that covers not just national issues, but local ones as well, with a fresh and unique perspective. WashBlog trades places with Pacific Views, which has moved to the Expanded Washington page.
  • Directory Access Links. At the bottom of the front page, you'll find a white bar with easy access to all of our directories, so you can get to where you want to go faster.


New Syndicate Members on the Expanded Washington & Oregon Pages
    New Syndicate Members. A total of seven new blogs are joining the Expanded Washington and Oregon sections. From Washington, we're pleased to announce the inclusion of Progressive Majority Washington, BlatherWatch, CoolAqua, and Blue Washington. From Oregon, we're pleased to announce the inclusion of The American Street, Economist's View, and Radical Noesis.
  • A Whole New Look. The Expanded sections have been completely redesigned. Above the feeds you'll find a new state bar with an image of the state, as well as common facts and a newswire with the latest news from the state. The columns have also been reorganized and given an equal width.
  • Newsflash Feature. Also on the state bar is our new newsflash feature - a news ticker that brings you the latest headlines and events. Washington and Oregon each have their own newsflash ticker.


Blogs & Websites Directory Improvements
  • Directory Overhauled. The new directory sports a new introduction and quick links to the other directories. Plus the page has been reorganized, with the under the hood changes that make it load more quickly and more reliably.
  • New Blogs. You'll notice the new syndicate member blogs have moved up to the syndicate column in their respective states. But we've also added thirty six new blogs, bringing our grand total to 156 blogs. The Portal community just got a whole lot bigger!


New Pages.
  • Democratic Party Directory. Our first new page is the brand new Democratic Party directory. It contains links to every Democratic Party organization that we know exists. It's organized by state and then broken down into counties, legislative districts (WA only) congressional districts, and Young Democrats chapter.
  • Start Page Utility. We're rolling out a new page containing a utility that allows you to easily set Pacific Northwest Portal as your browser's "start" page - the page you see when you first boot up your browser.


Other Pages
  • About Us. The About page has an updated site map and history and has been filled in with all the latest information.
  • Contact Us. We're introducing an improved feedback form, more user comments, and an expanded Knowledge Base to troubleshoot difficulties viewing the site.
  • Highlights. The Highlights page has been reorganized. Every highlight now contains a description so you can learn more without leaving the page. We're also introducing The Northwest's Latest 10, a new feature on the right side of the page that lets you see the latest ten posts from our thirty syndicate members.
  • Northwest Media. We added a new introduction to the page with links to the other directories and made the page easier to use and navigate.
  • Toolkit. The improved Toolkit page boasts a new stock ticker that tells you how the markets are doing (Dow Jones Industrial Average, Nasdaq, S&P 500). It also has a new RSS feed for labor news bringing you headlines from the Washington State Labor Council's Reports Today feature. And we changed the Portland traffic camera to one that's closer to downtown.


So there you have it. Those are all the changes that comprise True Blue - the new Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.0. Why not take a look yourself?

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

BREAKING: John Roberts Jr. is SCOTUS Nominee

Bush is nominating John Roberts Jr. as his first nominee for the United States Supreme Court.

Roberts is a federal appeals court judge.


Now the AP has details:
President Bush chose federal appeals court judge John G. Roberts Jr. on Tuesday as his first nominee for the Supreme Court, selecting a rock solid conservative whose nomination could trigger a tumultuous battle over the direction of the nation's highest court, senior administration officials said.

Bush offered the position to Roberts in a telephone call at 12:35 p.m. after a luncheon with the visiting prime minister of Australia, John Howard. He was to announce it later with a flourish in a nationally broadcast speech to the nation.

Roberts has been on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit since June 2003 after being picked for that seat by Bush.

Advocacy groups on the right say that Roberts, a 50-year-old native of Buffalo, N.Y., who attended Harvard Law School, is a bright judge with strong conservative credentials he burnished in the administrations of former Presidents Bush and Reagan. While he has been a federal judge for just a little more than two years, legal experts say that whatever experience he lacks on the bench is offset by his many years arguing cases before the Supreme Court.

Liberal groups, however, say Roberts has taken positions in cases involving free speech and religious liberty that endanger those rights. Abortion rights groups allege that Roberts is hostile to women's reproductive freedom and cite a brief he co-wrote in 1990 that suggested the Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 high court decision that legalized abortion.
This from the National Organization of Women:
John G. Roberts
Nominated to United States Court of Appeals, Washington, D.C. Circuit.

Former Deputy Solicitor for Kenneth Starr.

Associate White House counsel for four years under the Reagan Administration.

Overturning Roe was such a primary focus of the Reagan Administration's Justice Department that during an oral argument by the nominee to the Supreme Court a Justice asked, "Mr. Roberts, in this case, are you asking that Roe v. Wade be overruled?" His reply was, "No your honor, the issue doesn't even come up." To this the justice replied, "Well that hasn't prevented the Solicitor General from taking that position in prior cases."*

As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts argued in a brief before the Supreme Court that "we continue to believe that Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled. The Court's conclusion in Roe that there is a fundamental right to an abortion...finds no support in the text, structure, or history of the Constitution."*

As Deputy Solicitor General, Roberts filed an amicus curiae brief in support of Operation Rescue and named individuals who routinely blocked access to clinics. The brief argued that the protesters' behavior did not discriminate against women and that blockades and clinic protests were protected speech under the First Amendment.

This case, Bray v. Alexandria Women's Health Clinic, spurred the Congress to enact the Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act.

Lead counsel for Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Ky, Inc. v. Williams. The case involved a woman who was fired after asking Toyota for accommodations to do her job after being diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome.

The court ruled that while this condition impaired her ability to work, it did not impair her ability to perform major life activities. Disability rights groups fear that this decision may erode the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Filed an amicus brief in Adarand v. Mineta in Oct. 2001, supporting a challenge to federal affirmative action programs. He also argued against Title IX as applied to the NCAA in NCAA v. Smith.
Sources: NARAL and Brief for the Respondent at 13, Rust v. Sullivan, 500 US 173, 1991
There's also this from Wikipedia:
John G. Roberts Jr. (born in Buffalo, New York, 1955) is a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, having been nominated by President George W. Bush on May 9, 2001, and confirmed by the United States Senate on May 8, 2003.

Roberts graduated from Harvard College in 1976. Roberts receivied his Juris Doctorate from the Harvard Law School in 1979.

He was a law clerk for Henry Friendly, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, 1979-1980, and for Associate Justice William Rehnquist, Supreme Court of the United States, 1980-1981. He then took a job as special assistant to William French Smith, the attorney general, U.S. Department of Justice, 1981-1982, before being appointed associate counsel to President Ronald Reagan, White House Counsel's Office, 1982-1986.

He entered private practice in 1986 as an associate at the Washington D.C. law firm of Hogan & Hartson, but left to serve from 1989-1993 as Principal Deputy Solicitor General, U.S. Department of Justice. He returned to Hogan and Harston in 1993 as a partner where he remained until he was appointed to the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. In private practice and as Principal Deputy Solicitor General he has argued more than 30 cases in front of the United States Supreme Court.

Roberts has been mentioned frequently as being near the top of the list of potential nominees to the Supreme Court of the United States, should one of the current justices leave the Court during George W. Bush's presidency.
As we build up a profile of Roberts, we'll post more information here.

Monday, July 18, 2005

Speaker stalls Oregon civil rights bill

Also Also reports on this development in Oregon:
After passage of the state Senate Bill 1000--which both outlaws discrimination by orientation and passes civil unions for same sex couples--the focus turned to the Republican-controlled House, which has behaved this session as if it ran Congress and the Executive, instead of being the minority institution in an otherwise Democratic landscape.

NWPT58



House Leader Karen Minnis has refused to schedule the bill on what appears to be grounds that it would run afoul of the recently-passed Measure 36 (bumper title: One Man One Woman).
Apparently, SB 1000 has the votes to pass in the Oregon State House - but Minnis isn't scheduling the bill. She's using the power of speaker to prevent good legislation from passing the Legislature. This a deplorable shame.

From Preemptive Karma:
Minnis' fiat is a slap in the face to all Oregonians. This very small minority of individuals is forcing a very large group of citizens from enjoying the most basic of rights: being a legally recognized family and protect individuals from discrimination. Minnis' cowardly and shameful attempt to hide SB1000 from a House vote is a black eye on the entire Republican Party of Oregon.
We agree. It's just as cowardly as Washington State Senator Bill Finkbeiner, the GOP minority leader, who in the past supported anti-discrimination legislation such as this year's HB 1515, but voted against the bill because he was afraid to lose his position as minority leader.

Rep. Minnis should stop standing in the way of equality for Oregonians and allow the bill to come to the floor for a legitimate vote. How can Republicans complain about Democrats being "obstructionists" when they themselves engage in the same tactics? And it's not just in Oregon, either. It's a national double standard.

It's whatever's convenient for them.

They're not afraid to lie, to cheat, or to go to any extreme to have their way. It's about winning, it's about greed, and it's about power. And it's about cowardice. Caving to the powerful religious right, America's megaconglomerates, or whoever else happens to be knocking at the door.

Minnis has the opportunity to show she's not that kind of person. So far, it seems she has failed.

Live in Oregon? Speak out for equal rights! There's a rally scheduled in Salem for July 20th at 6PM, with a "hoped-for surprise guest".

McGavick quits Safeco, likely to challenge Cantwell

The AP:
Mike McGavick, chairman and CEO of property and casualty insurance provider Safeco Corp., announced Monday that he plans to step down as chief executive next month to consider "the possibility of public service."

McGavick has been mentioned as a possible Republican challenger to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., next year.

McGavick, who served as chief of staff and campaign adviser to former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton, R-Wash., will leave his post effective Aug. 31, retaining his duties as chairman of the board.
So it seems McGavick intends to run against Cantwell. He obviously waited until after Rossi wrote that letter to Senator Dole. Now, he's leaving the top post to kickstart his campaign.

Diane Tebelius, who is apparently planning to run as well, is going to have competition. No word yet on whether Rick White or Rob McKenna are going to run.

Republicans are already gearing up to attack Senator Cantwell's record. Unfortunately, McGavick has a record, too...his four years at Safeco. This from McGavick's press release:
“I’ve come to the conclusion that my greatest contribution to Safeco has already been achieved,” said McGavick. “Our charge four-and-a-half years ago was to build a solid foundation of profit and growth. Thanks to the extraordinary work and commitment of my Safeco colleagues, we accomplished that work more quickly and effectively than anyone could have imagined.
Sorry, Mike - the WSLC doesn't see it that way:
McGavick is a guy who was the target of protests in Redmond last year because of the sorry and unsafe working conditions for the janitors at his headquarters.

His contractor was paying full-time janitors as little as $1,000 net per month, with family health care "offered" at a prohibitive cost -- as much as $540 per month.

Meanwhile, McGavick pulls in eight figures a year. EIGHT FIGURES.

In 2001, a year his company lost more than $1 billion and laid off 1,200 people, he got paid $10.8 million. Last year, while he was deciding to close that Redmond campus, he raked in another $13.3 million and is now holding almost $25 million more in stock options.
Even today, when his company is earning "record profits," he continues to cut jobs and outsource his IT work overseas (offensively calling it "SmartSource").

[This is] a guy who thinks UW and WSU should be privatized. A guy who says Washington state should be run like his business, cutting state employee jobs every year -- whether the budget is short or not -- "as a way to force efficiency into the government."

Mike McGavick is just another short-term-thinking boost-the-stock-price-now CEO who believes there's no downside to firing thousands of the people who helped build the company into what it is today. And he sees nothing wrong with personally raking in tens of millions of dollars while he does it.
Well, well. Now that sounds quite different.

The Republicans think they have plenty of ammunition for Cantwell. We've got news for them - there's a huge, huge trove to mine on McGavick too. Watch your step.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

"True Blue" Update

Firstly, apologies for the lack of posting today. The team has been hard at work on True Blue - Pacific NW Portal Version 3.0.

I'm pleased to tell you that we are on track. While a few difficulties need to be resolved, we're fairly confident that we will have completed everything within the next couple of days.

So, we are setting a launch/debut date of Wednesday, July 20th, 2005. If all goes as planned, and we believe it will, the new version of the Portal will launch on that day at midnight.

This isn't something you want to miss - so be sure to be here this Wednesday for the grand debut!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Daily Show Highlights July 11th-14th

Those of you who were unable to catch the Daily Show this week or just don't have access to Comedy Central missed some great shows. Dem Bloggers, the usual source of our highlights, did not post any videos this week.

However, that doesn't mean no clips are available. Common Bits has many different Daily Show clips available - a number from this week, in fact, but you'll need a BitTorrent client such as Azeurus to download them.

The highlights from each day:

  • Thursday, July 14th, 2005: Jon Stewart looks at Harry Potter 6 and the hype surrounding the new book. Rob Cordrry has a hilarious report on security for the book in which he makes analogies to homeland security. Then Stewart interviews Michael Isikoff from Newsweek magazine.
  • Wednesday, July 13th, 2005: Jon Stewart looks at news networks' coverage of hurricanes. Steven Colbert reports from the "Hurricane News Tracker" Tracker in a hilarious segment. There's a lengthy interview with Bernard Goldberg, a conservative who wrote a book about the top 100 people who are supposedly screwing up America (and only three are conservatives).
  • Tuesday, July 12th, 2005: Stewart does a history of Plamegate and mocks Stonewallin' Scotty McClellan, who had a brutal press conference the day before. Crooks & Liars has full coverage, plus video.
  • Monday, July 11th, 2005: Jon Stewart plays catch up and shows off the new Daily Show. He discusses Sandra Day O'Connor's retirement plans and talks Rehnquist (whom we now know is planning to stay on).
You can always expect to see The Daily Show Highlights every Saturday here on the blog, except for weeks when the show is on hiatus.

Reed to auditors: Back to the open primary

Secretary of State Sam Reed has notified all county auditors that they are to hold a Montana-style, or open primary, this September, instead of a "top two" primary that I-872 called for:
It won't have a huge impact on this year's primary since only about eight counties have partisan primaries this fall, Reed said. Other counties have only races for city council, school board and other non-partisan offices. Reed said he already has notified county auditors, telling them to get ready for the change back to the Montana-style primary.
What does this mean? It means this year, wherever there are partisan races, you'll be required to pick a party's ballot - such as the Democratic or Republican ballots, and possibly the Libertarian ballot.

It also means that other minor parties such as the Green Party should have their ballot access restored.

In King County, it means that Carolyn Edmonds can now legitimately campaign for the real Democratic nomination. Ferguson's win on June 28th now amounts to nothing more then an endorsement by Democratic PCOs.

The same is true for Republicans Steve Hammond and Reagan Dunn, who are running against each other. Though the King County GOP endorsed Hammond at its convention last May, Reagan can now legitimately campaign for the nomination without being attacked by the rest of his party.

Reagan was delighted:
To get around the new top-two primary, the parties held recent nominating conventions to choose candidates for this fall's primary election ballot. Those selections apparently won't be needed in light of Zilly's ruling.

"It's going to be a good old-fashioned primary," said Republican King County Councilman Reagan Dunn, who lost in the nominating convention for his County Council seat but was told yesterday by the party he now could run as a Republican. "I think this is a momentum-shifting event."
This is as it should be. The parties never wanted to move to a caucus and convention system - they just wanted a fair primary. With Zilly's rulling yesterday, we are granted another reprieve from the possibility of holding an unfair primary system.

Democratic Party Chair Paul Berendt noted that the "top two" primary system is rare and that Washington is back in the mainstream with this ruling:
Berendt said the parties only want to bring Washington state's primary in line with nearly every other state in the country.

"What the judge did is he affirmed our right to choose our nominees and choose the individuals who represent our party on the ballot," he said.
We strongly concur.

Thomas Ahearne, an attorney who has litigated against several Eyman initiatives in the past, angered us by representing the state Grange and making this comment to the Seattle Times:
Ahearne said he hopes either Zilly or the 9th Circuit will stay yesterday's ruling during the appeal, which would mean a top-two primary could be used this September.
We strongly disagree. There should be no stay. There should be a permanent injunction against I-872 until the 9th Circuit reaches its own decision.

As to the permanent injunction:
He said the state and the Washington State Grange can file objections by July 27. The court then will rule on a permanent injunction against I-872.
It's our hope that the permanent injunction continues to block the state from conducting a "top two" primary. Washington should have a primary system that is fair and constitutional - not one that isn't.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Zilly's Injunction

Taken from the text of the ruling:

The Court hereby GRANTS all Plaintiffs (the political parties) a Preliminary Injunction as follows:
  1. The Court enjoins the State of Washington, or any political subdivision of the State, from enforcing, implementing, or conducting any election pursuant to the provisions of Initiative 872, as codified in Title 29A, Wash. Rev. Code.
  2. The Court enjoins the State of Washington, or any political subdivision of the State, from enforcing or implementing the filing statute under Initiative 872, Wash. Rev. Code § 29A.24.030, as part of any primary or general election.
  3. This injunction shall remain in effect until a permanent injunction is entered consistent with this Order.
  4. Plaintiffs are directed to prepare, serve, and file a proposed permanent injunction consistent with this Order by July 22, 2005. Defendants may file any objection by July 27, 2005 and the Court will thereafter enter a permanent injunction.
We sincerely hope that voters will have the opportunity to vote in an open primary system again this year and that any appeal to a higher court will only see this ruling affirmed.

Zilly: "Top Two" Primary is Unconstitutional

A victory for common sense and for the freedoms put down in the U.S. Constitution:
A U.S. District Court judge on Friday struck down Washington state's new "top two" primary system, approved by voters last fall, as unconstitutional, saying it infringed on the rights of political parties to pick their own nominees for office.

In a 40-page ruling, Judge Thomas Zilly said the state cannot allow voters to skip back and forth along party lines as they pick a favorite candidate for each office. Nor can it allow candidates to identify themselves by party on a ballot without that party's approval, the ruling said.
NPI strongly applauds this ruling. We have long argued that the "Top Two" primary, put into place by Initiative 872, is not constitutional. See our Special Report on the primary system and why it's unsound for the state.

UPDATE:
The ruling means that the top two primary system goes out the window:
The effect of the ruling, Zilly said, was that Washington would return to the "Montana-style" primary it used during last fall's election. Under that system, voters select one party's ballot and vote for their favorite candidates on that ballot.
We also applaud this as well. The Montana system was a good choice that preserved parties' freedoms while not forcing voters to have to register with a political party.

The Attorney General and the Grange have promised to appeal, but it's to be expected, and this ruling could hardly be better:
Zilly dismissed [the] argument, saying that if candidates are identified by party preference on the ballot, it's not a nonpartisan system. And, he said, if parties can merely endorse whoever makes the final ballot, the state is stepping on their right to nominate a candidate.

"To relegate the members of a political party to a role of mere support for their preferred 'standard bearer' would deny a party its role in selecting its representative," Zilly wrote.
This is a good ruling that affirms what the First Amendment says. Washington does not need a "top two" primary system. What we need is a system that's fair to parties and gives voters broader choices.

Rossi again denies he'll run against Cantwell, sends letter to Dole

Rossi makes it clear again that he isn't running, for any of you skeptics still out there (we have always maintained he wouldn't do it):
Seattle, WA – Dino Rossi will not be a candidate for the United States Senate in the 2006 campaign.

In a letter sent today to Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC), who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Rossi explained that he and his wife Terry do not want to disrupt their young family and that he is focused on improving Washington state from home, not from Washington, D.C.

“A recent poll indicated that I have a 12-point lead over the incumbent,” Rossi wrote to Dole.

“It is flattering to be considered and it would be an honor to serve Washington in the U.S. Senate. However, there are two problems I don’t believe can be overcome.

“The first is the effect it would have on my family. My wife and I have four children aged 14 to four, and at this point in their lives it would be very difficult and disruptive to move them across the country.

Second, I’m not sure how I can solve the problems I’m focused on – making our state a better place to do business and improving opportunities for the people of Washington – from the U.S. Senate. Right now I’m committed to turning this state around, and I need to stay here to accomplish that goal. For these reasons, I will not run for U.S. Senate in 2006.
Typical Rossi, but there you have it. He's sent a formal letter trying to make it clear he won't challenge Cantwell.

Rossi was the most formidable potential challenger the GOP could have sent up in 2006, at least according to current polls, and without him, the GOP will have a difficult time trying to unseat Cantwell.

Rehnquist denies he'll retire, and attention stays on Rove

It was something we were expecting sometime this summer: for the Chief Justice to announce he does not intend to leave the Supreme Court anytime soon:
Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist, ending months of increasingly frenzied speculation about his retirement plans, declared on Thursday night that he would continue to serve "as long as my health permits."

The chief justice's announcement, released without advance notice by his family, was completely unexpected and took the White House and Supreme Court officials by surprise. It first appeared on The Associated Press wire shortly before 9 p.m.

The statement said: "I want to put to rest the speculation and unfounded rumors of my imminent retirement. I am not about to announce my retirement. I will continue to perform my duties as chief justice as long as my health permits."
We didn't think he was leaving. Not Mr. Rehnquist.

Karl Rove continues to dominate the headlines across America as new information spills out about his involvement in Plamegate:
Karl Rove, the White House senior adviser, spoke with the columnist Robert D. Novak as he was preparing an article in July 2003 that identified a C.I.A. officer who was undercover, someone who has been officially briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Rove has told investigators that he learned from the columnist the name of the C.I.A. officer, who was referred to by her maiden name, Valerie Plame, and the circumstances in which her husband, former Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson IV, traveled to Africa to investigate possible uranium sales to Iraq, the person said.

After hearing Mr. Novak's account, the person who has been briefed on the matter said, Mr. Rove told the columnist: "I heard that, too."

The previously undisclosed telephone conversation, which took place on July 8, 2003, was initiated by Mr. Novak, the person who has been briefed on the matter said.
Now we learn Rove had a conversation with Novak.

The White House desperately wants Plamegate and the attention on Rove to go away. They're hoping the scandal won't continue to simmer through the summer - but it may. Reporters and journalists who feel Scott McClellan lied to them are mad as hell, and that doesn't help the administration one bit.

Journalists hate being lied to. Especially by the White House press secretary.

While issues such as the Downing Street Memo remain important, this one is too. There are so many angles - national security, Iraq, reporters' right to keep confidential sources, leaks, and of course, corruption.

It's "political payback" that reeks of the Nixon administration - especially the break ins into the offices of the DNC and Daniel Ellsburg. As usual, the cover up is worse then the crime. Bush and his surrogates should have expected the truth to get out eventually.

It will be interesting to see how much special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald is able to find out.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Washington Defense Relaunched

Following the I-912 final signature turn in event almost a week ago, it now appears likely that the anti-roads effort will get its wish and place the future of our state's transportation infrastructure before voters.

There isn't any time to lose.

And that is why we're relaunching Washington Defense this morning. From now through the first few weeks of November, Washington Defense's sole mission will be to educate voters about I-912 and participate fully in the No campaign.

The new Washington Defense features:
  • A much sleeker design. New colors, new graphics, and a new page layout are some of the new changes we've introduced to make the site look more professional and friendly to visitors. We softened the colors a bit and changed the way the menu centers look to give the entire website a new, fresh feel.
  • Easier to read. We've had a couple complaints about the site and the ease of reading text. The relaunched site is much easier to read, and it's also smoother, so you can sort through information more quickly.
  • Campaign news center overhauled. It features an improved newsfeed, bringing you the latest news stories about the initiative and the issue. To the right of the feed is the news center focus with special links to other new useful information.
  • Tools & Resources. This is a new section - it's small now, but we'll be expanding it. It will have a library of all available downloads (i.e. flyers) so it functions as a download center, but it also has useful tools for recommending the site to friends, bookmarking the site (IE only) and, adding a NO on INITIATIVE 912 button to your own website to link to Washington Defense. We'll be adding more tools and resources in the weeks ahead.
  • New Project List. We backported the WSDOT's list of projects that the new gas tax adjustment (which is what it should be properly called) and made it available earlier, but it was intended to be part of the relaunch originally. This page shows you all the other roads & transportation projects that WSDOT will be doing with the new money, such as new guardrails and passing lanes. Some really dangerous stretches of roads in Eastern Washington will receive serious attention - that is, they will if I-912 fails. They probably will not if it passes.
There are other minor improvements as well, but that's the major list. New flyers are also available for download on the new Tools & Resources page. You can use the contact form to send the team behind Washington Defense your comments, questions, and suggestions.

This is an important issue - please promote Washington Defense as much as possible.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Inslee takes leadership role in new Resolution of Inquiry

Congressman Jay Inslee has just notified NPI that he, along with other members of Congress, will be taking the lead in introducing a new resolution of inquiry into the outing of Valerie Plame:
On Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Jay Inslee (Washington) will join United States Rep. Rush Holt (New Jersey) and other Members of Congress at a press conference to discuss the introduction of a time-limited Resolution of Inquiry into the compromise of the identity of undercover CIA officer Valerie Plame.

The Members will also call for a comprehensive Congressional investigation into the incident and its impact on American intelligence operations.
We are delighted to see that Congressman Inslee is leading the way on this very important issue, which along with the Downing Street Memo, has become a major thorn in Bush's side. The administration is clearly culpable of lying to the American people.

Karl Rove ought to be fired - and not just for his involvement in Plamegate - but he won't be. Bush isn't going to get rid of his deputy chief of staff, which means Bush's prior promise to get rid of anybody who was involved was completely false and dishonest.

Tomorrow's press conference (led by Inslee and Holt) will be from 10:15 am - 10:45 am Eastern Time. It will be at the U.S. Capitol.

Zilly hears arguments against Top Two

From the Associated Press:
The state Republican, Democrat and Libertarian parties returned to federal court Wednesday to argue that Washington's new primary system, approved by voters as Initiative 872 last fall, is unconstitutional.

In arguments before Judge Thomas S. Zilly, Republican lawyer John White contended the new system infringes on his party's First Amendment right to free association by allowing anyone to run as a Republican in the primary.

"The state is forcing the Republican Party to associate with candidates it may not want carrying its banner," White said.
We hope Zilly rules that the "top two" primary system we have now is unconstitutional. It would be good to permanently abolish and do away with this ridiculous primary system.

The parties attacked the fundamental flaw with the "top two" system:
Parties also argued that the system is unconstitutional because it allows voters to skip back and forth across party lines in selecting a favorite candidate for each office.

Washington's old primary system, known as the "blanket primary," was struck down by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003 for that same reason. The court said that infringed on a party's right to choose its own nominees.
More information is available in our Special Report on the Top Two Primary System.

Is the P-I obsessed with Initiative 912?

Coverage and opinion on Initiative 912 is a hot commodity these days.

None so more then at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer - Seattle's second largest daily.

Now, we're not saying that the P-I is biased in its news coverage of I-912, or that all the commentary from columnists and editorial boards has been off the mark - actually, most of the commentary has been good.

But there sure is a lot of it. (We have to admit - we're guilty of it too. The issue is very important - and we have to take back control of the debate).

Today, Joel Connelly has his column, "I-912 has familiar twists and turns". Yesterday, it was Bill Virgin who had a column, and the P-I had an editorial. On Sunday, the P-I had another editorial on I-912, and the day before that, Neil Modie wrote a story about the signature turn in event in Olympia.

The P-I editorial board also had editorials last Thursday and last Wednesday relating to the initiative.

Clearly, I-912 is a "hot topic".

In any case, Connelly is mostly on the money this morning. He describes the way many of these initiative campaigns over taxes - many of them Eyman initiatives - have gone, time and time again, in recent years.

The challenge, as Joel notes, is not to run into the same old pitfalls. The campaign against I-912 needs to steer carefully and work very, very, very hard. Voter outreach will be very critical.

People need to understand what is at stake - because the other side is going to manipulate the facts and seek to control the debate.

This can't be "another one of those" campaigns. We've been through enough of them already. Referendum 51 and Initiative 776 in 2002 - a double defeat for the business community in particular - should serve as a blinking red warning late.

The other side is counting on us to do what we always do. Let's surprise them instead, and change the way we do things.

The strategy needs to change. The business community and other coalition partners need to collaborate closely on a new, winning plan, and built the broadest coalition possible to unite different interests and citizens together.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Daily Show hits McClellan, White House

After watching Monday's press briefing by Scott McClellan, I simply knew it was only a matter of time before Jon Stewart and the Daily Show were going to have a field day.

And this morning, my gut instinct was that Stewart would devote much of his show today to it.

How could he not?

And sure enough - Jon devoted two whole segments to the Valerie Plame/Karl Rove controversey. The second featured an excellent skewering of Stonewallin' Scotty and his "tactical defense strategy" at the press briefing on Monday - namely:

"I will not comment on this ongoing investigation while it is ongoing".

That could become Scotty's permanent signature line.

Crooks and Liars has the video. Dem Bloggers hasn't posted it yet. They didn't post yesterday's Daily Show clip, either, which was puzzling.

In any case, we'll tell you how you can get your clips from CommonBits this Saturday if Dem Bloggers doesn't start posting them again.

The ride continues

The Associated Press:
The White House is suddenly facing damaging evidence that it misled the public by insisting for two years that presidential adviser Karl Rove wasn't involved in leaking the identity of a female CIA officer.

President Bush, at an Oval Office photo opportunity Tuesday, was asked directly whether he would fire Rove - in keeping with a pledge in June, 2004, to dismiss any leakers in the case. The president did not respond.

For the second day, White House press secretary Scott McClellan refused to answer questions about Rove.
Oh dear. Seems the stonewall isn't working.

By now almost everyone has seen the press conference of McClellan saying twenty three times - "I'm not going to comment on the status of this ongoing investigation."

Gregory Roberts is right. This is simply ridiculous. The White House has gotten tangled in its own sticky web, and we're glad to see it.

The fun continues. And the best the RNC can do in response? "The Democrats are being controlled by the Far Left," says Ken Mehlman, RNC chair.

Yeah, Ken....like that has any relevance...even if it were true, what the hell does that have to do with Karl Rove's actions? Of course, absolutely nothing.
They're clearly desperate - you know they're weak when they can't properly defend themselves. You can sit your sorry self down before you turn yourself into the next Scott McClellan, Ken. It's time to redouble the pressure. Fire the guns again.

Monday, July 11, 2005

McClellan stonewalls on Rove

Good old Stonewallin' Scotty is playing games, trying to dodge out of the way of the Rove avalanche coming down (transcript courtesy of RawStory):
QUESTION: Scott, can I ask you this: Did Karl Rove commit a crime?

MCCLELLAN: Again, David, this is a question relating to a ongoing investigation, and you have my response related to the investigation. And I don't think you should read anything into it other than: We're going to continue not to comment on it while it's ongoing.

QUESTION: Do you stand by your statement from the fall of 2003, when you were asked specifically about Karl and Elliot Abrams and Scooter Libby, and you said, "I've gone to each of those gentlemen, and they have told me they are not involved in this"?

QUESTION: Do you stand by that statement?

MCCLELLAN: And if you will recall, I said that, as part of helping the investigators move forward on the investigation, we're not going to get into commenting on it. That was something I stated back near that time as well.

QUESTION: Scott, this is ridiculous. The notion that you're going to stand before us, after having commented with that level of detail, and tell people watching this that somehow you've decided not to talk.

You've got a public record out there. Do you stand by your remarks from that podium or not?

MCCLELLAN: I'm well aware, like you, of what was previously said. And I will be glad to talk about it at the appropriate time. The appropriate time is when the investigation...

QUESTION: (inaudible) when it's appropriate and when it's inappropriate?

MCCLELLAN: If you'll let me finish.

QUESTION: No, you're not finishing. You're not saying anything.

You stood at that podium and said that Karl Rove was not involved. And now we find out that he spoke about Joseph Wilson's wife. So don't you owe the American public a fuller explanation. Was he involved or was he not? Because contrary to what you told the American people, he did indeed talk about his wife, didn't he?

MCCLELLAN: There will be a time to talk about this, but now is not the time to talk about it.
Indeed - that's the old stonewall in action. McClellan and the White House are caught in a huge web of contradictions.

Raw Story has the full transcript. Crooks & Liars has full coverage, plus video. Time to keep the pressure on and enjoy the ride.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Initiative 912 threatens SR 520

The Seattle Times has a good article this morning about the future of State Route 520, possibly the most heavily used state route in Washington.

This Wikipedia article does a good job of describing the highway:
Washington State Route 520 is a freeway in the state of Washington, U.S.A. It extends 14 miles from Seattle in the west to Redmond in the east.

Originating at Interstate 5 in Seattle at the north end of Capitol Hill, it crosses Portage Bay on a viaduct, runs through the Montlake neighborhood, and from there runs on a causeway through the marshlands of Washington Park. It crosses Lake Washington on the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge (1963) - at 7,578 feet, the longest floating bridge in the world - to Medina.

From there, it separates Hunts Point and Yarrow Point to the north from Clyde Hill to the south. Intersecting with Interstate 405 in Bellevue, it then runs through Redmond, bisects the Microsoft campus, crosses the Sammamish River and Bear Creek, and ends at Avondale Road N.E.
Notice the bolded part - about the floating bridge.

Built in 1963, the Evergreen Point Floating Bridge turned forty two years ago. It's an aging span, and it's handled more traffic then it was ever built to carry in its lifetime. It's a 1960s-era bridge. And it needs to be replaced.

The Seattle Times:
The state is designing a replacement span for the aging Evergreen Point Floating Bridge sound enough to endure wind and waves of a fury rarely experienced across Lake Washington.

But the political winds that regularly buffet the state have some project supporters worried that $500 million of funding for a new, safer span could be in jeopardy.

Word that the November ballot likely will include an initiative to overturn the state's brand-new gas-tax increase — which is expected to raise $8.5 billion for state transportation projects — came the day before area lawmakers and transportation officials toured the closed 520 bridge yesterday.
Initiative 912 is all about going backwards. It's regressivity and cynicism at its finest.

Its backers have made dozens of various outlandish claims - from insisting the package doesn't actually accomplish anything (a lie to be sure, if there ever was one) to grumbling that the money's all "going to Seattle" for the floating bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct, also in need of replacement.

Some backers seem to truly believe this nonsense. Others seem to be involved enough in politics to understand what they're claiming, but they're choosing not to speak realistically and truthfully.

The gas tax increase is all about saftey. It's an investment, yes. A very sound investment. It's an investment that benefits everyone - from individuals to businesses. It means a better transportation infrastucture. It means jobs.

Underscoring the point I just made about safety, here's another excerpt from the Times article:
For years, the state has warned that the viaduct and the western end of the 520 bridge are vulnerable to earthquakes. Engineers also note the 520 span was designed to withstand sustained winds of only 57 mph and could sink in a major storm. The state has clocked sustained winds of more than 70 mph across the lake, said Patrick Clarke, Department of Transportation floating-bridge and special-structures-design manager.
Winds of 70 MPH have been clocked on Lake Washington - a huge threat to a bridge designed only to sustain winds of 57 MPH. That's a scary scenario. And it's not just wind, either. Earthquakes also pose a major problem for the bridge. Safety is indeed a huge issue - and a concern that grows larger with the passage of time.

Rep. Fred Jarrett, R-Mercer Island, explains just a few of the consequences of passing Initiative 912:
Jarrett said the debate will come down to whether voters want to pay for transportation projects on a statewide basis or regionally.

Repealing the tax, he said, would stall projects throughout Washington, including improvements along Interstate 90 that would reduce closures of the major east-west corridor during avalanche season. It also would force Puget Sound taxpayers to shoulder the costs of replacing 520 and the viaduct and widening I-405, rather than receiving help from around the state.
What Jarrett didn't mention was that Eastern Washington itself will also get shafted by the passage of I-912.

The initiative's backers in the eastern half of the state seem to conveniently overlook the state that the western half of the state is the gateway to the rest of the world. Did they ever notice that the western half of Washington includes the Ports of Seattle, Tacoma, and Vancouver?

Like it or not, Eastern Washington needs the west. The angry, "screw you" attitude needs to change. You can't get very far for very long being self-centered and refusing to share in the task of infrastructure improvements.

115,000 vehicles cross State Route 520 each day - and the number crossing Interstate 90 is similar. I-90 and SR 520 are crucial spans leading directly out of Seattle.

I-90, in particular, is the main transportation artery into the East, but trucks coming from the Port of Seattle and warehouses around Puget Sound use both SR 520 and I-90. It's in the best interest of Eastern Washington to have a functioning floating bridge on SR-520.

Despite I-912, the state is moving forward with its plans for replacing SR 520. And we applaud that move. It's unwise to surrender to the cynics and skeptics.

Washington voters - no matter where they live - should realize that Initiative 912 is a bad move. We need to shift into drive - not into reverse.

"True Blue" launch won't be tomorrow

More things fell into place this week, but we're still not ready yet. Many days ago I thought we'd be on track for launch tomorrow, but we are not there yet.

I'm hesitant to set another specific date because I'm worried it won't happen on that date.

Once I'm reasonably confident it's ready, I'll announce a date two days out, and it will then officially launch. Don't forget about "True Blue", because this is something you are definitely not going to want to miss.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Eastern Washington will get shafted if I-912 passes

One of the reasons that the Initiative 912 was able to come up with a huge cushion of signatures for the ballot in such a short period of time was that much of the help seems to have come out of Eastern Washington.

While some Republicans (and many Republican business backers) strongly support the gas tax increase, most of the base seem to want it repealed at all costs.

A few reports indicate that the Republican Party apparatus in Eastern Washington was heavily utilized.

NWPT54



It's pretty likely that most of Eastern Washington will vote in support of Initiative 912 - or, at least a majority will - based on voting patterns over the last several years on Eyman initiatives and Referendum 51.

Which is why the following appeared in Neil Modie's article in the P-I this morning:
Ed Murray, state House transportation committee chairman, predicted that if the initiative passes, "the result will be another initiative, to only spend transportation taxes in the counties where they are raised." Or, he said, it could be attempted by legislation.

In the past 10 years, Murray said, the state's three largest counties, King, Pierce and Snohomish, have generated $1 billion in tax revenue for transportation projects for the 29 smallest counties. If such revenue remains in the counties in which it is generated, it could benefit the biggest counties and starve the transportation needs of rural counties.

"I'm hearing from frustrated small-business owners and citizens in King, Pierce and Snohomish counties who are saying we need to stop sending our (tax) money to Eastern Washington and other parts of Washington; we need to keep money in counties where it is raised," said Murray, D-Seattle.
Attention citizens of Eastern Washington: This is a fair warning. You support Initiative 912 at your own peril and at your own risk.

If the gas tax is repealed, there's a good chance that Murray's prediction will come true. Eastern Washington will simply be discarded and left to its own devices - left to rot, and thanks to its own citizens - people who seem to think that they'll be able to repair their own roadways with the fifty bucks or whatever small amount they'll save per year.

These folks are living in an alternate reality. They benefit way more then they give, and yet they still want to repeal the gas tax increase.

The list of projects planned by WSDOT for many of these counties east of the Cascades is simply huge, but nobody in Eastern Washington seems to get that. Here's a list of the projects in one county, courtesy of WSDOT:

Yakima County
$47.8 million
  • Reconfigure the Valley Mall Blvd interchange to relieve congestion and improve traffic flow and reduce collisions ($24.6 million).
  • Reconstructing and widening roadways, adding traffic signals and sideways to th Wenas Corridor of SR 823 near Selah. Improvements will reduce congestion, improve freight mobility and increase safety for motorists and pedestrians ($7.3 million).
  • Construct two underpasses, located at Lincoln Avenue and B Street from 1st Ave to 1st Street. The underpasses will construct three lanes on each roadway under the BNSF mainlines. This project will enhance movement of truck freight traffic, emergency vehicles and the movement of vehicles into and out of the downtown area ($7 million).
  • Replace the existing SR 241 Dry Creek bridge north of Sunnyside with a new bridge designed to current standards ($2 million).
  • Add a second eastbound on-ramp lane onto US 12 and make interchange terminal improvements. This project will improve the interchange operation and increase motorist safety ($2 million).
  • Make roadside safety improvements along US 12 in west Yakima County such as installing guardrails and removing fixed objects to enhance motorist safety by reducing the severity of collisions ($1.9 million).
  • Address repetitive bank erosion and slope failures affecting US 12 along the Lower Naches River ($1.6 million).
  • Replace the existing US 12 and Tieton River West crossing west of Naches with a new bridge designed to current standards ($600,000).
  • Replace the existing UW 12 and Tieton River East crossing west of Naches with a new bridge desgined to current standards ($400,000).
  • Stabilize the Naches River bank along SR 410 at Rattlesnake Creek to address repetitive erosion ($300,000).
  • Construct a sidewalk on the east side of SR 823 in Selah from the intersection of Goodlander Road to Harrison Road, completing a direct pedestrian connection from parks and schools to Harrison Road ($100,000).
  • SR 24/SR 241 to Cold Creek Road. Add an additional lane in the eastbound direction to reduce collisions ($3.8 million).
  • Making roadside safety improvements like installing guardrails or removing fixed objects to enhance motorist safety by reducing the severity of collisions on SR 241 and SR 821 ($1.1 million between Yakima and Kittitas Counties).
Many in Eastern Washington - backers of I-912 - seem to think they're simply sending money to Seattle to replace the viaduct and the 520 floating bridge.

That's not true. The promoters of this initiative - notably KVI's John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur - do not bother to acknowledge the gas tax increase helps Eastern Washington immensely.

Instead, they fill their campaign website with misleading and false propoganda.

If I-912 passes, the main consequence will probably be to raise local taxes instead and keep the money mostly in Puget Sound.

Those of you in Eastern Washington who understand the danger had better start educating as many of your fellow citizens as you possibly can. If Initiative 912 passes, the citizens of Eastern Washington are going to get shafted.

Many cities over there are already facing financial problems. It's only going to get worse. Roads are going to fall into disrepair. Needed safety improvements won't be made. Potential jobs will not be provided.

The wise realize that our government provides many valuable services - services that we cannot ourselves provide - and that tax dollars pay for these services. Therefore, taxes are wise and useful investments - much sounder investments then any investment in a stock market exchange.

The unwise simply believe that government wastes their money, and they don't want to give "that government" a single cent. The unwise are shortsighted.

We cannot allow the unwise to spread false information about the gas tax increase. We must stand up for our good values: a stronger America, a better future, a more effective government, broad prosperity, and mutual responsibility.

If we communicate our values clearly and change the discussion from the cost of the gas tax to what it actually does, people will realize what's at stake, and many will decide to vote against Initiative 912.

We have a challenge. Let's rise up and meet it - and work to defeat Initiative 912.

Friday, July 08, 2005

BREAKING: 420,000 signatures total for I-912

NPI has learned that John Carlson, Kirby Wilbur, and their fellow anti-roads campaigners have announced that the total number of signatures gathered for Initiative 912 is 420,000.

190,000 additional signatures were turned in today, adding to the 232,000 already submitted earlier this week.

NWPT54



The Associated Press:
An ambitious $8.5 billion, 16-year transportation program would help finance "mega-projects" like replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle and building a new state Route 520 bridge across Lake Washington. It also would provide cash for hundreds of highway and bridge projects, rail, ferries and other improvements.

The level of early support for the initiative just means gas tax increase supporters will have to work harder, said Lily Eng, spokeswoman for Keep Washington Rolling.

"... We're going to have to get out there and work harder to explain to the public why this transportation plan is necessary for the state," she said.

Tax increase foes say the tax increase won't ease traffic congestion.

Eng responded that the increase isn't about easing congestion, it's about keeping roads safe.

If I-912 passes, it could put on hold a number of repairs for roads such as the U.S. 12 in Walla Walla, Eng said. The Alaskan Way Viaduct is structurally unsound and needs to be addressed immediately, she said.

"These projects are all in jeopardy" if the initiative passes, she said.
Lily Eng is absolutely right.

With the news in, it looks likely that Initiative 912 will be on the ballot, though we won't know officially for several weeks.

In response, NPI has approved immediate measures to improve and expand its Washington Defense website, which will now remain active through November.

We're going to turn this challenge into an opportunity to show that the citizens of Washington State support the gas tax increase and the benefits it brings - like safer roads.

Opponents of ruling requiring public disclosure are blurring the line

A number of opponents of Judge Christopher Wickham's recent ruling against the I-912 campaign are crying foul, saying that Wickham's ruling amounts to a limitation of free speech.

Last Friday, the judge ruled that comments and activities by KVI-AM (570) hosts Kirby Wilbur and John Carlson on behalf of the Initiative 912 campaign are in-kind contributions that must be reported to the Public Disclosure Commission.

Those who support Carlson's and Wilbur's assertions that what they're doing doesn't need to be reported are trying to blur the the line between freedom of the press and campaign activity.

If you listen to Carlson and Wilbur on the air, it's very obvious and very clear that both of them are in campaign mode.

They've used KVI as a campaign tool to organize, raise money, and recruit volunteers - all to support an initiative campaign.

RCW 42.17.020 states:
(c) Contributions other than money or its equivalent are deemed to have a monetary value equivalent to the fair market value of the contribution. Services or property or rights furnished at less than their fair market value for the purpose of assisting any candidate or political committee are deemed a contribution. Such a contribution must be reported as an in-kind contribution at its fair market value and counts towards any applicable contribution limit of the provider.
John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur are furnishing very valuable services - they're assisting a political committee - No New Gas Tax - to qualify an initiative for the Washington State ballot.

If the opposition wanted to get on the air, they'd have to pay for advertising. Initiative 912 proponents get Carlson and Wilbur for free - every day.

So Carlson and Wilbur are providing help at less than the fair market value - because the airtime they devote to helping the campaign is free.

Therefore, they need to report that contribution as required by the law.

Carlson and Wilbur may not be officers on the committee, but they are spending a huge amount of time and resources assisting the campaign through their KVI mouthpieces. They've crossed over the boundary from the "free press" and transitioned over to outright campaign activity.

The Seattle Times editorial board can whine all it likes. Publishing an editorial or an endorsement, or simply voicing your support for a candidate on the air, is very different than directly participating in an initiative campaign.

These "critics" are attempting to blur the line out of existence. Under their rationale, why even bother with a public disclosure law at all, if it can be ignored at will.

Carlson and Wilbur are participants. They are using public airwaves licensed to Fisher Broadcasting to campaign.

And that qualifies as an in-kind contribution. They're obliged to report it under the public disclosure law of Washington State.

As Michael Hood of BlatherWatch recently observed:
If Carlson and Wilbur had left their months of wall-to-wall daily infomercials to only "opinions on the issues," there'd be no problem. It's the organizing, strategizing, and being an on-air logistical clearing house that we always thought goes against campaign disclosure rules. We're glad the law agrees.

(I-912's consultant, Brett Bader says they're considering an appeal--if this is such a slam-dunk breech of First Amendment rights, they'll have no problem prevailing. We have a feeling, however, we won''t be hearing about this again, because this claim is cynical and bogus and made by operatives for whom the First Amendment isn't so much of a right as it is a useful political tool to be used or trod upon as needed).
The public disclosure law doesn't stop Carlson and Wilbur from talking. There's no gag order here. All they're being required to do is report their contributions to the campaign as everyone else is.

As to this scenario from the Times:
Suppose, then, that Dino Rossi ran for governor again, that Wilbur and Carlson strongly supported him, and that the Rossi campaign were required to report it as a $20,000 in-kind contribution by Fisher Broadcasting. In that case, Fisher would have violated the law. And how? By speaking on political topics during an election campaign.
Notice that the Times editorial never defines what "strongly supported" means. If all Carlson and Wilbur were doing was stating their support of a candidate, there'd be no problem, even if they said it every day, and no matter how strongly they said it.

But if they started fundraising for Rossi - or otherwise directly participating in campaign activities as defined by the law - then yes, there would be a problem.

One thing is very clear: the Times' editorial board doesn't put much stock in the public disclosure law. Fortunately, the P-I Editorial Board does. Another reason for keeping Seattle a two-newspaper town.

More Information on Fighting I-912: Washington Defense

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Rehnquist retirement talk

It's been rumored that William Rehnquist, the current chief justice, will announce his retirement tomorrow. If that's the case, I'll be surprised. I do not expect a Rehnquist retirement announcement tomorrow.

Considering what happened in London earlier today, the ongoing G8 summit, and Sandra's retirement announcement last Friday, I can't see why a Rehnquist retirement announcement makes much sense right now.

If his health is a concern, why would he wait so long before making an announcement? There was widespread speculation he'd announce on the last day of the term.

Didn't happen.

So, we will see.

Governor releases statement on London attacks

Statement from the Governor's office

OLYMPIA - July 7, 2005 - Gov. Christine Gregoire today extended her condolences to the people of London who suffered multiple, coordinated attacks on their city. The governor visited London last month on her first trade mission. She said:

"Today my thoughts and prayers, and those of my family and six million Washingtonians, are with the people of London. On September 11, 2001, the people of Great Britain stood with us in our hour of terror. Today we stand with them. We are united by a common grief and a common purpose to make the world a safer place.

"I have been informed by authorities that at this time there we do not have any specific intelligence indicating that this type of attack is planned against the United States. General Tim Lowenberg, chief of Washington's National Guard and director of the state's military department, has briefed me and continues to monitor developments and information coming from Homeland Security and Great Britain. He will keep me updated throughout the day. I am confident that all reasonable precautions are being taken toprotect the people of Washington."

"With freedom comes responsibility. I call on my fellow Washingtonians to go about their daily lives with a heightened sense of vigilance."

Kerry statement on London attacks

Kerry statement:

"Every American heart feels for the British people and the families of those killed and injured in today's horrific terrorist bombings in London. As a country which has also experienced tragedy at the hands of cowardly killers and which keeps faith with the special alliance Prime Minister Tony Blair reaffirmed on September 11th, our thoughts and prayers are with you.

"In addition to words of condolence and condemnation, America should offer every assistance to Great Britain in dealing with the aftermath of this tragedy and in hunting down and destroying those responsible. We must reaffirm that cold blooded killers will not for a moment stop the critical work of the G-8 nations in showing the world the strength of our shared values and our commitment to ending poverty around the globe."

"The terrorists should hear from all of us today: the future belongs not to fear, but to freedom. We must also be vigilant here at home to take every step needed to complete the unfinished work of homeland security, strengthening our port security, rail security, protecting chemical plants, and securing loose nuclear materials abroad. While these attacks remind us that the fight is far from over, they also strengthen our resolve to stand together for the right of free people to live in a peaceful world."

Well spoken.

Portal Update: Standing with the People of Great Britain

You may notice that Pacific Northwest Portal has been updated with a big Union Jack flag, front and center on the main page behind the newswire text, to show our standing in solidarity with the people of London and Great Britain.

More details: Diary on DailyKos from a Londoner who repors his personal experiences.

Our condolences to those affected in London attacks

The NY Times:
LONDON, July 7 - London was struck by a series of four apparently coordinated terrorist explosions in subways and buses during the morning rush hour today, which killed at least 33 people and wounded as many as 1,000 others. The explosions ripped apart several subway trains and at least one double-decker bus and caused officials to close and evacuate the entire subway system.
Our condolences and sympathies lie with those who were injured in the attacks and with the families of those who lost loved ones. We are all Londoners and all Brits today...and we stand together with our friends in the United Kingdom in this tragic hour.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

unSoundPolitics lies about I-912

unSoundPolitics top writer and contributor, Stefan Sharkansky, is developing a reputation for making false predictions.

Take the headline at the top of unSoundPolitics right now: "NO NEW GAS TAX TO MAKE THE BALLOT".

Stefan wrote this headline because the anti-roads campaign turned in an estimated 232,000 signatures today for Initiative 912.

Just because you turn in signatures doesn't mean you're automatically on the ballot. The news media too often overlooks this fact, and Stefan's not helping.

The current signature requirement stands at 224,880. To make the ballot, initiatives generally need a fairly large "cushion" of signatures in order to qualify. The "cushion" is basically thousands upon thousands of "extra" signatures.

The cushion is needed because not everyone who signs an initiative petition is a legal, registered voter (sound familar, Stefan?). Many voters also sign the petition more than once. Initiative 912 will need at least 224,880 VALID signatures. Not just signatures - VALID signatures.

It's wildly misleading, if not an outright lie, to claim that today's signature turn in means that I-912 is on the ballot.

The Secretary of State has a process for examining petitions and determining if there are enough valid signatures for an initiative to make the ballot. Until then, we won't know whether the initiative will make it or not.

If the I-912 campaign does not turn in a large enough cushion of signatures to ensure that there are least 224,880 VALID signatures, the Secretary of State will have to open up a very lengthy signature verification process.

And we, as the opponents, will be allowed to send observers to watch this process as it occurs, and raise concerns about invalid signatures.

We'll know this Friday morning how large the I-912 campaign's cushion will be. Then this lengthy process of determining whether I-912 qualifies will begin. It may be weeks before this process is completed.

Until the process is completed and an announcement made, it is ridiculous to make statements like "NO NEW GAS TAX TO MAKE THE BALLOT" which have an excellent chance of turning out to be false statements.

Stefan Sharkansky would do well to get out of the business of making political predictions.

His current track record, as evidenced by his prediction on the outcome of the trial, "I rarely make predictions, but I feel comfortable predicting today that Judge Bridges will set aside the election" (May 29th 2005) doesn't look very promising.

More Information on fighting I-912: Washington Defense

Vote in Best of Seattle Contest

Fellow progressives: There’s still time to vote in the Seattle Weekly’s poll for “Best of Seattle”. You only have a few days though - the contest ends next Monday.

Help us spread awareness of the progressive blogging community in this area by voting in these categories:

3. Best local talk radio host: David Goldstein
8. Best local website: Pacific Northwest Portal
9. Best local blog: HorsesAss.org
11. Best activist/hell raiser: David Goldstein
14. Best scandal: Dino Rossi’s meritless election contest
15. Best local cause: ending homelessness
16. Best reform we need: a state income tax
42. Best fish market: Tim Eyman

Those who complete at least 10 categories will be included in the Weekly's prize drawing. First prize is dinner for two at Seattle's Earth & Ocean restaurant.

You do not have to live in Seattle or even in Washington State to vote, but you do need to submit some personal information - such as your address, a phone number, email address - which is used for verification purposes.

Again, here's the link.

Please be sure to vote for Pacific Northwest Portal as the best local website. Don't put the url nwportal.org. Just put down "Pacific Northwest Portal".

Fill in the categories just as they appear above so the vote counters won't get confused.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Applause for rulings against I-912 campaign

In tomorrow's editorial pages, the Seattle P-I applauds the decisions by Thurston County Superior Court Judge Chris Wickham, who dealt the campaign a double blow in two simultaneous rulings:
In two rulings Friday, Thurston County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wickham handed gas-tax opponents three sharp and well-deserved defeats.

He refused to bar the sale of transportation project bonds underwritten by the 3-cent gas tax increase, which went into effect Friday. Wickham also insisted that the Initiative 912 campaign was not above state public disclosure laws requiring that contributors be clearly identified.
As to the tired argument that Wilbur and Carlson are just pontificating on issues and recommending action, the P-I wrote:
...It is different when the on-air hosts are directly campaigning on their programs. They're acting as political activists, not journalists. This is not new. Wilbur co-chaired the ill-fated 2000 state Republican Party Convention. Carlson lost his KVI job in 1998 for flogging his own initiative campaign on the air. They've been active in the creation and promotion of the I-912 campaign.
Under their philosophy, how active do these guys have to be before they have to report their assistance as an in-kind contribution?

Judge Wickham's rulings were not over the top. They were fair and squarely based in the law.

Michael Hood of blatherWatch has his own applause:
We were heartened by last Friday's Thurston County Superior court rulings against the talk radio generated anti-road repair initiative, I-912.

...If Carlson and Wilbur had left their months of wall-to-wall daily infomercials to only "opinions on the issues," there'd be no problem. It's the organizing, strategizing, and being an on-air logistical clearing house that we always thought goes against campaign disclosure rules. We're glad the law agrees.

(I-912's consultant, Brett Bader says they're considering an appeal--if this is such a slam-dunk breech of First Amendment rights, they'll have no problem prevailing. We have a feeling, however, we won''t be hearing about this again, because this claim is cynical and bogus and made by operatives for whom the First Amendment isn't so much of a right as it is a useful political tool to be used or trod upon as needed).
We agree. The I-912 campaign has been propelled by KVI and its two big hosts, Carlson and Wilbur. They're the main forces behind it. Trying to duck out of having to follow the public disclosure law didn't work out for them - and we're very glad it didn't.

More Information on fighting I-912: Washington Defense

"True Blue" Update

Another week...another update.

Last week I told you about the upcoming launch of "True Blue" - Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.0. I'm pleased to announce that we are on track to debut the new version of the site next Monday, July 11th, 2005.

As long as we remain on track, the new version will launch on that date. If not, we'll inform you of the delay (no pun intended), but we don't expect any delay to be very long.

You should be enjoying the new version before the end of the week after this one.

As promised, "True Blue" will be the biggest update to the website in its history. We've been asked if that means lots of new pages.

It does not.

Simply introducing more and more pages does not make the site better. If anything, lots of new pages only makes the site more difficult to navigate.

We've also been asked by worried readers if the Portal is undergoing a dramatic redesign and a huge facelift, much like the redesign at Daily Kos.

The answer again, is no.

The "classic" look (well, since it's only been around for six months, it isn't really classic) has been left intact (i.e. colors, for instance).

What we can promise you, though, is a sleeker, edgier design that preserves the core elements but is way cooler and easier to use.

One of the neatest things is that the new version incorporates a lot of reader feedback. Some people visit the site and then come back with a laundry list of complaints and annoyances. Others praise the site's usefulness but also suggest possible improvements.

And, ironically (or maybe not ironically), these people are the readers we appreciate the most. If no one critiqued Pacific NW Portal, we wouldn't have many ideas about how to make it better.

Thanks to them, we do. And when we overview the new version, we'll detail how we've used reader feedback, often citing specific comments.

Questions about the new version? Feel free to post in the comment thread below.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Fireworks

The Fourth of Jul-Ivars fireworks display was very nice this year. Some patriotic music (but no Lee Greenwood, thankfully), and over ten minutes of pyrotechnic wonder.



Once again, happy Independence Day to everyone. Let's be thankful and remember that America has weathered many storms before. There will be brighter moments in our nation's future.

Horn, Weeks step down from monorail project

The Seattle P-I reports:
Seattle Monorail Project Executive Director Joel Horn and Board Chairman Tom Weeks resigned this afternoon amidst growing controversy over the now-scrapped plan to pay for the 14-mile line.

NWPT55



Last week the board killed the financing plan for the West Seattle-to-Crown Hill line after outcry about the combined $11 billion price tag to build the monorail and pay off the debt.
It's important that top monorail officials do whatever is best for the project. Horn has been at the helm since the project passed in 2002, and it seems new leadership is needed to come up with a new financial plan:
City Council President Jan Drago said she was surprised by the resignations of Weeks and Horns, but she added "it was necessary for them to step down. It was necessary for the monorail to be able to move forward." Drago said the monorail board needs to take responsibility.
Contrary to what the conservative, anti-transit crowd says, the monorail project is still in good health - because the process worked. It continues to work.

The monorail will move forward, despite whatever the other side may think.

The Declaration of Independence

Posted for your reading pleasure on this Fourth of July, a truly beautiful document:

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.

But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.--Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government.

The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.

He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.

He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.

He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.

He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.

He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.

He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.

He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.

He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.

He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.

He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.

He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.

He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:

For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:

For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:

For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:

For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:

For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:

For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences

For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:

For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:

For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.

He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.

He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.

He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.

He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here.

We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity.

We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do.

And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Vacation Update & Open Thread

I am in Oregon, on a semi-vacation. I'm not actually on vacation, but my family is having a big Fourth of July celebration, so I'm down in the foothills of Mount Hood, near Eagle Creek, for the gathering.

I'll return early tomorrow. You're welcome to post on any political topic you'd like to post on in the thread below.

Have a happy Fourth.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

KVI hosts' contributions must be reported

From the AP, via the P-I:
Foes of Washington's gas tax increase lost a pair of court cases yesterday, but said their efforts to overturn the 9.5-cent-per-gallon boost remain on track and they now expect their initiative to make the November ballot.

The first 3 cents of the increase took effect yesterday -- added to the state's existing 28-cent-per-gallon tax.

NWPT54



Thurston County Superior Court directed the critics to fully disclose their donors' identities immediately or forgo their contributions, and ordered that KVI-AM report the value of two talk show hosts' comments promoting rollback Initiative 912.
We strongly applaud the Thurston County superior court's decision. Wilbur and Carlson should not be allowed to get away with their immense contributions to the I-912 campaign without reporting what they are doing. They are using KVI as a platform to build support for I-912.

Without KVI, the I-912 campaign simply would not be able to succeed. Of course, Wilbur and Carlson don't see it that way:
KVI and Fisher Broadcasting executives were aghast at the ruling. They said talk show hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur were doing only what political commentators and newspaper editorial pages do across America -- discussing issues and recommending action.
"Discussing issues" and "recommending action"? Oh, they're doing much, much more than that.

They are attempting to reverse legislative process and change public policy. That's way outside the boundaries of "discussing issues" and "recommending action". Brett Bader, a GOP consultant and a paid advisor to the I-912 campaign, estimated the value of Carlson and Wilbur's in kind contributions at $10,000 apiece during the month of May.

As for the other case, the I-912 campaign ultimately failed to convince a judge to stop the gas tax from taking effect now:
In a separate case, the same judge, Christopher Wickham, refused to stop the state from selling $70 million worth of highway bonds or otherwise encumbering the new gas-tax revenue before any vote on repeal.
Friday was a good day for accountability to the public and for moving forward and investing in our state's transportation infrastructure.

Though we don't know if I-912 will have enough signatures to qualify, we will be watching - vigilantly - as observers in the process of verifying the signatures, if there is an attempt to qualify. No initiative has qualified for the ballot yet - not this one, not I-900, and not any other.

More Information: Washington Defense

Daily Show Highlights June 27th-30th

Those of you who were unable to catch the Daily Show this week or just don't have access to Comedy Central missed some great shows. However, our friends at Dem Bloggers have a number of great clips from the show that you can stream from your computer (you'll need Windows Media Player to watch).

Also, you can find additional segments and material from Common Bits.

You can always expect to see The Daily Show Highlights every Saturday here on the blog, except for weeks when the show is on hiatus.

Friday, July 01, 2005

NOMINATION BATTLE BEGINS

News flash:
Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, the first woman appointed to the Supreme Court and a key swing vote on issues such as abortion and the death penalty, said today she is retiring.

O'Connor, 75, said she expects to leave before the start of the court's next term in October, or whenever the Senate confirms her successor. There was no immediate word from the White House on who might be nominated to replace O'Connor.

It's been 11 years since the last opening on the court, one of the longest uninterrupted stretches in history. O'Connor's decision gives Bush his first opportunity to appoint a justice.

``This is to inform you of my decision to retire from my position as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, effective upon the nomination and confirmation of my successor. It has been a great privilege indeed to have served as a member of the court for 24 terms.

I will leave it with enormous respect for the integrity of the court and its role under our constitutional structure.''

The White House has refused to comment on any possible nominees, or whether Bush would name a woman to succeed O'Connor. Her departure leaves Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg as the only other woman among the current justices.
Here's how you can take action regarding the vacancy:

The biggest battle of the year has just begun. It's time to join the fight.