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

Monday, October 31, 2005

LIVE from the Left Coast with Al Franken

Al Franken is back in Seattle today with his radio show. I am blogging live from Town Hall in Seattle. It's been a pretty great show, we're in the third hour as I write this We heard from King County Executive Ron Sims in the second hour, and we just heard a group of children singing songs for peace.

We also had Joel Connelly and Greg Nickels as guests earlier, and of course, Franken talked about Alito during the first hour. We are scheduled to hear next from Dan Savage, editor of the alternative weekly, The Stranger, who writes the internationally-syndicated advice column, “Savage Love,”.

UPDATE: It was a great show with very good turnout, but it wasn't packed completely - there were some empty spots. Unlike last May, 1090 did not do much to promote Franken's appearance, which is too bad. The only thing they've succeeded at so far is successfully showing up at a lot of Democratic/progressive events.

What really irks me is that Infinity Broadcasting, the owner of AM 1090, is not investing in local programming. There's a huge audience that would listen to a progressive host or two, someone who would be the opposite of KVI's John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur. KVI has shown the way to build listener loyalty is to cover local issues successfully, but Infinity hasn't acted. They've had Air America for a year now, and yet they still carry syndicated programming only.

It won't be good enough to bring Al Franken here a couple times a year. They need to get a local talkshow host. We already have Dave Ross, who is very thoughtful and a great host, but he's fairly moderate. He does, however, cover local issues with great success.

Meanwhile, KVI is apparently doing debates on all the initiatives this week. I've been invited to debate Tim Eyman tomorrow morning on Kirby's show, and ironically, KVI, the main engine behind I-912, is also having an I-912 debate this Thursday.

Bush nominates Alito, bows to pressure

As predicted, he caved to wingnut pressure:
President Bush, stung by the collapse of his previous choice, nominated veteran judge Samuel Alito on Monday in a bid to reshape the Supreme Court and mollify conservatives. Ready-to-rumble Democrats said Alito may curb abortion rights and be "too radical for the American people."
Alito appears to be too extreme and should be opposed by Democrats.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

I-912 proponents living outside of reality

Steve Neighbors has written a piece on his Snohomish County GOP blog in which he accuses those against I-912 of spreading "mistruths, myths and outright lies".

The irony is that it's proponents like Neighbors who are the ones spreading mistruths, myths, and outright lies. The opposition to I-912 relies on more than rhetoric to back up its arguments. We have science, engineering, evidence, and common sense.

Dan of On the Road to 2008 has posted an excellent deconstruction of everything Neighbors wrote, which we encourage you to read. We could have written something like this ourselves, but Dan did the hard work for us. Thanks Dan, and keep up the great work.

And don't forget to vote NO on Initiative 912.

Seattle Times endorses Ron Sims

The suspense is over. The Times had the predictable criticism of Sims' tenure in office, but lauded him for his exceptional financial management and steady leadership, ultimately giving him their endorsement.

NPI has already endorsed Ron Sims for reelection in November.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Elect a progressive majority to the Seattle Port Commission

The Seattle Port Commission needs new leadership.

Three members of the current five person commission are taking the Port of Seattle in the wrong direction. They're giving the Port's valuable land away to developers and investing in development schemes that don't have anything to do with the Port's mission. (1)

They're wasting taxpayer dollars, spending public monkey on junkets to Europe, and forcing you to shell out more money to the Port by increasing the Port tax. (2)

They're voting against taking action to decrease maritime air pollution and they're voting against forcing cruise ship companies to follow strict reporting standards for wastewater dumping in Puget Sound. (3)

It's time to elect a progressive majority to the Seattle Port Commission to end the waste and the sellout to business interests.

Three of the Port's five offices are on the ballot this year: Position 1, Position 3, and Position 4. Any voter who resides in King County can vote in the Port Commission races. (The Port of Seattle is a municipal corporation created September 5, 1911, by the voters of King County.)

Today, the Northwest Progressive Institute is endorsing the following three candidates to bring accountability and responsibility back to the Port Commission:

  • Position #1: Reelect LAWRENCE MOLLOY
  • Position #3: Elect LLOYD HARA
  • Position #4: Elect JACK JOLLEY
The business interests who want to protect the status quo at the Port are not sitting on their hands.

They've created a phony group called "Citizens for a Healthy Economy" to bankroll their slate of handpicked candidates in the hopes of preventing a progressive majority from taking over the Port Commission.

Last August, progressive Port Commissioner Alec Fisken (who does not face reelection this year) warned about "Citizens for Healthy Economy":
Seattle Port Commissioner Alec Fisken is sounding the alarm about Citizens for a Healthy Economy, a new political action committee (PAC) that has raised more than $100,000 for voter "education" in this year's Port races. "It's the status quo versus reform," claims Fisken.

[...]

Reports filed with the state Public Disclosure Commission show that the PAC has raised money at a torrid rate since April, mostly tapping companies that do business with the Port, including $10,000 from SSA Terminals, which operates shipping container terminals, and $10,000 from Holland America, whose cruise ships dock in Seattle.

[...]

Fisken says the motives of Wallace and Frank Stagen, the CEO of real-estate development firm Nitze-Stagen who is the other co-founder of Citizens for a Healthy Economy, are transparent. Wallace led an unsuccessful effort to have the Port of Seattle invest in Bellevue's troubled convention center, while Stagen lost his battle to have the Port convert Terminal 46 on Seattle's waterfront into a neighborhood of condos, parks, offices, and even a basketball arena.

Fisken says the two developers are enlisting the support of other businesses that depend on Port pork to make sure status-quo candidates like Davis win and reform-minded candidates like incumbent Port Commissioner Lawrence Molloy lose.
And Citizens for a Healthy Economy is spending money to make sure its candidates win.

Just a few days ago, NPI received a mailer from this phony group, urging voters to vote for the business interests' slate of candidates: John Creighton, Rich Berkowitz, and Pat Davis. (You can see the mailer to the left, click on it to see the expanded view)

Of the 3 candidates, Jack Jolley and Lawrence Molloy need your help the most.

Lloyd Hara led Rich Berkowitz in the primary and his chances are better than the other two candidates. But Molloy, who is an incumbent, and Jolley, who is not, both trailed their business-backed opponents in the primary.

Commissioner Alec Fisken has more information on "Citizens for a Healthy Economy" on his blog, Port Watch. Here's a summary of contributions made to "Citizens for a Healthy Economy" so far, that have been publicly reported.
[Based on PDC filings] all of the contributors to the PAC are listed below. Where we’ve been able to identify their financial tie to the port, that is noted. And other contributions that they have made directly to the Davis campaign are also noted.

Frank Stagen is listed as the chair. Bellevue real estate developer Bob Wallace is the treasurer. Michele Radosevich, an attorney at Davis, Wright, Tremaine, is listed as his assistant.

George Rowley, Rowley Properties $5,000. Skip Rowley also gave $1,000 directly to the Davis campaign.

Herbert Gould III, president, Anthony’s Restaurants (a port tenant) $5,000

Sabey Corporation (real estate) $10,000 - Sabey also gave $1,000 directly to the Davis campaign

Nitze-Stagen (Frank Stagen is reported to be still interested in redeveloping Terminal 46) $5,000

Wallace Properties (Bob Wallace lobbied hard for a port contribution to the Meydenbauer Conventions Center expansion) $5,000 – Bob Wallace also gave $500 directly to the Davis campaign. The campaign also collected $1,000 from the Bellevue-based Affordable Housing Council, which may also be connected with Mr. Wallace

McBee Strategic Consulting (the firm hired by the port to do its Wash. DC lobbying) $5,000

Columbia Hospitality (the firm managing the port's Bell Harbor Conference Center and the World Trade Center, and partner in CTA, the cruise ship stevedore). $5,000

Premera Blue Cross $5,000 – Premera also gave $250 directly to the campaign

Kinzer Real Estate Services (Craig Kinzer has been running the consulting services on the consultant-heavy North Bay project, $5,000 – Kinzer also contributed $500 directly to the campaign

Savi Technologies, based in Sunnyvale Calif. kicked in $5,000. According to the Seattle Times, Savi has been contributing to a number of campaigns as part of its effort to promote its container security business.

Dunham Group LLC, an airport consulting firm - $5,000
The firm also gave $500 directly to the campaign

Holland America, Port of Seattle tenant - $10,000

Foster Pepper, the firm that also gets a lot of that endless Northbay money, forked over. Nine lawyers gave $500 each (Tom Walsh, Roger Pearce, Stephen Dijulio, Bradley Berg, Beth Clark, Allen Israel, Michael Kuntz, Deborah Winter, and Judith Runstad) for a total of $4,500.

Jim Blackmore, (Alaska Maritime Agencies - another principal in CTA) $5,000. Jim Blackmore is also listed as contributing $1,725 directly to the campaign. And Kathi Blackmore gave $500.

MAS Resources (apparently Mark Segale, a contractor on several port projects) $10,000. Mario Segale contributed $1,000 directly to the Davis campaign.

SSA Terminals – over the decades the largest single tenant of the port - $10,000
SSA also gave $5,400 directly to the campaign.
We need to do all we can to stop "Citizens for a Healthy Economy" from keeping its hold on the Port of Seattle Commission.

Follow this link to our endorsements page for the Commission. There, you can access the links to the campaigns for Lawrence Molloy, Lloyd Hara, and Jack Jolley. You can also read what we have to say about each candidate and a summary of their other endorsements.

Footnotes:
(1) - Vote: North Bay Project "preferred alternative" June 28, 2005
(2) - Vote: Port of Seattle Resolution No. 3497, November 26, 2002
(3) - Votes: Port of Seattle Resolution No. 3534, February 4, 2005, Memorandum of Understanding, April 13, 2004

Friday, October 28, 2005

Libby indicted, resigns from Cheney's office

Have yourself a merry little Fitzmas, and bye bye, Scooter:
The vice president's chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby Jr., was indicted Friday on charges of obstruction of justice, perjury and making false statements in the CIA leak investigation, a politically charged case that will throw a spotlight on President Bush's push to war.

Libby, 55, resigned and left the White House.

Karl Rove, Bush's closest adviser, escaped indictment Friday but remained under investigation, his legal status casting a dark cloud over a White House already in trouble. The U.S. military death toll in Iraq exceeded 2,000 this week, and the president's approval ratings are at the lowest point since he took office in 2001.

Friday's charges stemmed from a two-year investigation by special counsel Patrick Fitzgerald into whether Rove, Libby or any other administration officials knowingly revealed the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame or lied about their involvement to investigators.
Fitzgerald is doing a very thorough press conference. The Washington Post has a good story here, and the NY Times has its own story here.

NPI endorses Ron Sims for reelection

We already endorsed him in the primary. Now we make it completely official for the general election with today's endorsement. A snippet:
[Ron] has has a very strong leadership style. He is outspoken and works tirelessly on behalf of residents and taxpayers - which is outstanding. He believes in fiscal discipline and has steered King County through a minefield of revenue problems in previous years.

Ron has shown time and again that he’s committed to progressive values: last year, he ran on a platform of tax reform, including the adoption of a state income tax, which we love to see. Ron has a solid agenda for the next four years: he wants to form a coalition to reclaim Puget Sound, tackle the problematic issue of accessible health care, and protect the environment while expanding transportation options.
Today we are also releasing our endorsements for King County Council. They are as follows:

  • 1st District: Bob Ferguson
  • 2nd District: Larry Gossett
  • 3rd District: No endorsement
  • 14th District: Larry Phillips
  • 5th District: Julia Patterson
  • 6th District: No endorsement
  • 7th District: Geni Hawkins
  • 8th District: Dow Constantine
  • 9th District: Shirley Gaunt Smith
Tomorrow we'll release our endorsements for Port of Seattle and King County Sherriff.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

NPI on TV Opposing Initiative 912

Yesterday's Viaduct Hazard Demonstration got some decent airtime: KIRO put it in the first fifteen minutes of their broadcast (the sixth or seventh story in) and chief political reporter Essex Porter did a two to three minute segment with great footage from the event.

Additionally, KCPQ had a 30 second clip showing the demonstration, as well as some cracks in the viaduct near where we were set up.

(Darryl of Hominid Views, Dan of On the Road to 2008, and Walker of Choosing Hope have also blogged about the demonstration.)

And this evening at 6 PM, I went on Moral Politics to talk about Initiative 912 with host Eric Oemig. (Moral Politics, A SCAN TV Primetime production, cablecasts live on channel 77 or 29 in King County.)

So in the past few days we've had a lot of great exposure. The campaign to defeat Initiative 912 continues. And, of course, the P-I has continued its great series against Initiative 912:
We saw something interesting in a brochure promoting the repeal of the gas tax increase, Initiative 912.

"The New Gas Tax should have improved our commute. But it's a road to nowhere," a red and black I-912 tract says. "The New Gas Tax gives us the nation's highest gas tax."

The highest gas tax? Just a few weeks ago, a "myth versus fact" document from the same no new gas tax crowd declared, "We already pay the fourth-highest gas tax in the country."

OK. Which is it? The highest gas tax -- or the fourth-highest gas tax?

The answer is neither.

Sure, a lot depends on how you slice the numbers. The highly regarded Tax Foundation measures gas taxes by the "effective" rate by combining all local, state and federal taxes because this reflects the money that comes out of your pocket when you buy a gallon of gas. And that gauge shows Washington's gas tax (as of August 2005) is not even in the top 10. In fact, our current gas tax is less than a nickel higher than the national average.

Where will Washington rank after the full gas tax increase? Well, that's where the "fourth-highest" figure comes in. But even that placement will remain true only if no other state raises its gas tax.

And which state is No. 1? It's going to be hard to top New York (62.9 cents), Hawaii (60.1 cents) and California (60 cents).

So there you have it: We're not No. 1. Another reason to vote no on I-912.
It's not surprisingly that proponents of Initiative 912 have literature that has them contradicting themselves. The reality is that they just want to cut taxes and strip down government. The attacks on DOT and the talk of "we need a better plan" are merely a smoke and mirrors maneuever. They don't have a concerete plan. What they would like to do is divert existing funding to build more pavement (which does not solve traffic congestion). That's not going to work.

Voters should put safety first and reject I-912.

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on Initiative 912 (October 27th)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

For the last couple of months, we've been posting a picture or illustration here every week reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and destruction.

The image to the left shows a collapsed section of Oakland's former Cypress Street Viaduct.

The elevated freeway, hauntingly similar to the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, collapsed in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake (Magnitude 7.1, lasted fifteen seconds), causing loss of lives and significant property damage.

Don't let this kind of a disaster happen to us. Put Public Safety First. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

BREAKING: Miers withdraws nomination

AP reports:
Harriet Miers withdrew her nomination to be a Supreme Court justice Thursday in the face of stiff opposition and mounting criticism about her qualifications.

President Bush said he reluctantly accepted her decision to withdraw, after weeks of insisting that he did not want her to step down. He blamed her withdrawal on calls in the Senate for the release of internal White House documents that the administration has insisted were protected by executive privilege.
Looks like the wingnuts have won out on this one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Open Letter to Gov. Christine Gregoire

Following our Viaduct Hazard Demonstration in Seattle this morning, we have sent the following letter to Governor Christine Gregoire, urging the State of Washington to warn motorists about the danger of driving on the state’s unsafe roadways.

The threat to public safety in Washington State is very real. Our state is susceptible to earthquakes, lahars, storms, tsunamis, and other potential disasters which could wipe out our transportation network.

It’s time to invest now in the future of our transportation infrastructure and make public safety a priority. We need safe roads and bridges to drive and transport goods on. We can’t afford to wait any longer.

The Governor and state legislators have recognized the severity of this problem and have acted. Now it is time for the voters of Washington State to say NO to Initiative 912 and send a message to Olympia affirming the need to invest in the future.

The letter is as follows:

Governor Christine Gregoire
Office of the Governor
PO Box 40002
Olympia, WA 98504-0002

CC: Transportation Secretary MacDonald
CC: Washington State media outlets

October 26th, 2005


Dear Governor Gregoire,

As voters head to the polls to decide the fate of the state transportation improvement package passed by the Legislature last spring, they have been subjected to a lot of misinformation regarding the deteriorating condition of our state's crumbling infrastructure.

Proponents of I-912, which would repeal the gas tax adjustment that funds these necessary improvements, argue that structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct are in fact safe, and that the need for replacement has been overstated. Yet these assurances are directly contradicted by expert testimony:

“It’s not a little problem, it’s not a maybe problem ... the viaduct is just a question of when. If you’re on the lower level when it goes down, you’re dead.”
-- Mark Hallenbeck, Dir. WA State Transportation Ctr., University of Washington

“It’s way cheaper to fix it now when you’re not removing crushed beams and dead bodies.”
-- WA State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald

“Our best advice is to get off it five minutes before the next quake.”
-- WSDOT spokeswoman Linda Mullen

“Every reader of the Bible should remember: The time to build the ark is before the flood.”
-- Rev. John Boonstra, Washington Association of Churches

“There’s no question in my mind — you’re either going to fix it or somebody’s going to die.”
-- Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire

Given the powerful testimony of transportation experts and other leaders, backed up by engineering reports from WSDOT and outside firms, we believe the public deserves to be fully informed about the true hazards of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other dangerous structures statewide.

That is why we are writing today to urge you to post appropriate "Warning" signs along the length of the Alaskan Way Viaduct and other hazardous structures, informing motorists of the imminent danger in the event of a moderate earthquake.

Should I-912 pass at the polls, thus indefinitely postponing critically need replacement or repair, we also urge you to instruct WSDOT to shut down to public access those structures deemed unlikely to survive another earthquake with the same magnitude of the Nisqually quake or even greater.

It is unconscionable and immoral to continue to expose the motorists to such well-documented public safety hazards, without at least providing proper notice.

We thank you for your time and consideration, and look forward to working with your administration to help address the state's critical transportation priorities.

Sincerely,

The Concerned Citizens of Washington Defense

Viaduct Hazard Demonstration A Success

We did it. We got out of our chairs, left our computer screens, and went out to the Alaskan Way Viaduct today to warn drivers about the dangers of passing Initiative 912.

Surprisingly, there were quite a few people there. I expected a smaller number of people to come, but we actually did better than I expected. We did organize this at the last minute, and it was our first time putting together a special event in this campaign.

The media decided to join us. There were at least half a dozen reporters there, representing both broadcast and print media in the greater Seattle area. We'll see how much coverage the media ultimately decide to give this. But however much we get, it was still fun to do this event.

It felt very refreshing to get out there and wave that "Safety First: NO on 912" sign to drivers entering the Alaskan Way Viaduct. I think everyone who came out to join me had a good time, too.

Here's pictures from the event. We had people on both sides of the roadway, so not everyone is in these pictures:

Viaduct Hazard Demonstration

Viaduct Hazard Demonstration

It is time for us to get out there and be visible. We cannot afford to cede ground to proponents of Initiative 912 any longer. It is time to change the debate and talk about the importance of public safety in Washington State.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Viaduct Hazard Demonstration

We're tired of 912 proponents trying to generate news stories by attacking the DOT, filing PDC complaints, whining that their free speech rights are under assault, and claiming that the current plan to fix our transportation problems is inadequate.

We are facing a public safety crisis. We need to invest in new infrastructure to protect lives, property, and our economic well being.

So tomorrow, we'll be going out to the Alaskan Way Viaduct at 10 AM with our signs to warn drivers about the dangers of passing Initiative 912. It's time to get off our rear ends and take action.

I went on the Dave Ross Show today shortly before five to announce the special event we're holding tomorrow. We are calling it the "Viaduct Hazard Demonstration".

If you're an I-912 opponent, we welcome you to join us. Use our contact form to get more information on joining us tomorrow morning.

Actions speak louder than words. Time to put our words into action. See you out there tomorrow.

David Irons supports sprawl and more congestion

Here's another reason to vote against David Irons:
In his latest radio ad, David Irons touts the Kemper Freeman study that proposes a four-lane freeway through rural King County.

In 2000, the King County Journal twice wrote about Irons' support of the four-lane freeway through rural King County, agreeing with him by saying "Irons is right, we need a new freeway."

The Kemper Freeman plan includes the controversial proposal to create a four-lane freeway that would cut through the heart of rural King County near Carnation and Duvall.
David Irons would have us build a new interstate highway - Interstate 605 - to create a new corridor of sprawl out in Eastern King County. If you want less sprawl and less congestion, don't vote for David Irons. Vote for the person who truly cares about the future and well being of King County residents - Ron Sims - instead.

Monday, October 24, 2005

BREAKING: Rosa Parks has died

Sad news indeed:
Rosa Parks, a black seamstress whose refusal to relinquish her seat to a white man on a city bus in Montgomery, Ala., almost 50 years ago grew into a mythic event that helped touch off the civil rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's, died yesterday in Detroit. She was 92 years old.

Her death was confirmed by Dennis W. Archer, the former mayor of Detroit.

For her act of defiance, Mrs. Parks was arrested, convicted of violating the segregation laws and fined $10. In response, blacks in Montgomery boycotted the buses for nearly 13 months while mounting a successful Supreme Court challenge to the Jim Crow law that enforced their second-class status on the public bus system.

I-912 proponents offer fallacies, not facts

The Seattle P-I has started going after Brett Bader & Co. for putting out misinformation in the debate over I-912:
The campaign in support of Initiative 912 is rife with fallacies and falsehoods. Here's one of them:

Voting for I-912 will choke off money to those transit, light rail and monorail projects.

No, I-912 would repeal the gas-tax increase. The state constitution requires gas taxes to be spent only on highways and auto ferries, both of which will get $5.5 billion less if I-912 passes.
Indeed. Initiative 912 won't do anything to hurt mass transit. It will, however, cancel critical and desperately needed projects to improve public safety on our roadways.

And tomorrow, the P-I offers a short but lashing refutation of the claim that we should vote for 912 because no major projects will get completed:
Among the fallacies being spread by Initiative 912 promoters is that the state's plan to use $5.5 billion over 16 years generated by a 9.5-cent gas tax increase doesn't complete any projects.

There are hundreds of projects across the state -- including overdue bridge repairs -- that will be completed with this money. And the new money will provide a healthy start on such "mega" projects as replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the Evergreen Point Bridge.

If I-912 backers want to fully fund these huge projects right away, let's hear their proposal to raise gas taxes even more.

With I-912, the projects don't even get started.
Another fallacy offered by I-912 proponents? They seem to think we can build our way out of congestion. They also believe that we should be focusing on congestion relief and new pavement while ignoring public safety issues. That's unsound policy.

Vote NO on Initiative 912 and support safer roadways.

Pacific NW Portal "Marine Green" Update (Version 3.5) Launched

An "indispensable resource".

A "powerhouse for progressive perspectives and opinions".

The "beginning of an answer to conservative news networks."


These are all phrases that have been used to describe Pacific Northwest Portal during its almost nine months of existence.

Launched on January 31st, 2005, Pacific Northwest Portal overnight became NPI's premier property and has never given up that status. It was created to serve and unify the regional progressive blogosphere - and that's just what it has done.

Throughout the last nine months, the site has changed - over and over and over again - with each set of improvements propelling the site forward, based on reader feedback. We've grown by leaps and bounds during recent seasons.

Today, we are pleased to release the most comprehensive set of updates to Pacific Northwest Portal since the launch of "True Blue" on July 20th, 2005. July's True Blue launch was so successful in solving so many of the site's problems that we have been able to move to a more relaxed schedule for working on additional upgrades.

The "Marine Green" Update (Version 3.5) is a package of improvements designed to bring True Blue (Version 3.0) to the next level. As in previous upgrades, this update is again based on reader feedback and suggestions from the community. It has been in the works since early September.

So, without any further blather, here's the release notes, or a comprehensive description of all the changes in the Marine Green Update:

  1. Clickable Blog Titles. This improvement is entirely reader-driven. Numerous visitors and syndicate members have suggested to us that it would be very nice if they could go straight to a blog's home or front page instead of having to click on a specific post to get to the blog. So, we have introduced Clickable Blog Titles. Clicking on the blue heading bar above the site's feed will take you directly to that blog. On a related note, since we were replacing all the blog headings with new high quality graphics, we went ahead and replaced all the other blue heading titles on our website as well. Now the Portal looks more clean and professional!
  2. Redesigned Navbar. We've improved the flashy navbar we introduced last July with True Blue. The improved navbar has more links. You can now reach eight different pages from it. Take a look for yourself when you get to the bottom of this post.
  3. Now Representing Alaska! Yes, you heard us right. The Marine Green Update introduces our first round of support for the state of Alaska. You can now find links to progressive Alaska bloggers (yes, they do exist) from our Regional Blogs directory. Posts from these bloggers will appear on our Highlights page (more on that below). You can also find major Alaska media outlets listed in our Northwest Media directory. Progressive Alaskans, take heart - you now have a home on the Web.
  4. Local Newsfeeds. We're still fine-tuning this new feature, so bear with us, but we think it's working well enough to release it. You can find this feature on the Expanded state pages (Washington and Oregon). The local newsfeeds replace the state newswire which had previously been carried over from the front page. Each newsfeed displays one recent story of relevance to major communities within the state. Washington's local newsfeeds are Seattle, Spokane, Yakima, and Vancouver. Oregon's local newsfeeds are Portland, Eugene, Salem, and Bend.
  5. Completely Revamped Highlights section. The Highlights page has been a bit of a bother since its debut. We've had a struggle with figuring out a regular updating schedule for it and deciding what content it should have. We have finally figured out a solution that we think will prompt you to visit the Highlights section often. Here's the details:
    1. Today in the Pacific Northwest. This section takes up the left side of the page, and is divided into three subsections: Washington, Oregon, and Idaho/Alaska. Each subsection carries the latest eight blog posts (by state) from progressive blogs in our directory. Blogs that we already syndicate are excluded. This means you can now keep tabs on what more local bloggers are writing about. We think that's pretty nifty! So even if you're not a syndicate member, your posts can still get exposure on Pacific Northwest Portal.
    2. National Blog Headlines. This section takes up most of the right side of the page. It carries the latest four headlines from four prominent national blogs - Talking Points Memo, Crooks & Liars, MyDD, and - Daily Kos. But that's not all. As you know, Daily Kos is, without a doubt, the titanic anchorweight of the national progressive blogosphere - and many Pacific Northwest bloggers post there often. Thanks to some help from Markos, we are now able to pull the latest diaries written by Portal bloggers right onto the Highlights page, at the top of the National Blog Headlines section. What does this mean? If you're a Pacific Northwest Portal blogger, it means that your diary will automatically appear on our Highlights page after you post it to Kos. So now, you can not only track local blogs from our website, but also track local bloggers posting their diaries on Daily Kos! This is one innovation that we are truly excited about, and we hope you'll get great use out of it.
    3. Other Highlights sections. Moving down the right side of the page, you'll also see our special content archive, with links to past content such as the gubernatorial election challenge coverage. You'll also see our new "NW Blogs of the Month" feature, where we take four under the radar progressive blogs and highlight them (after all, it is the Highlights page). And, lastly, you'll see our notes about tracking the regional pulse of the blogosphere.
  6. New Resources section. We're pleased to unveil our new Resources section. The Resources section provides convenient and established access to two of our major directories - the Democratic Party Directory and the Northwest Media Directory. Follow the new Resources link from the navbar to reach these two pages. Below the directory links is our new Community Center, divided into three subsections. The "Join the Community" subsection provides tips to progressive activists who are thinking of starting their own blog. The "Become Active" section has an events guide, links to a few major technologically savvy progressive organizations, and an overview of regional Drinking Liberally chapters. The "Useful Information" subsection has research links for bloggers, including legal assistance, blog search engines, finding your state legislative/House/Senate district, voting and public finance records, and a media research/analysis center.
  7. Regional Blogs Directory Update. The "Blogs & Websites" directory is no more. It's now the Regional Blogs Directory, with a total of 184 progressive blogs. We've added about two dozen new blogs, including four blogs from Alaska. Some of the sites we had listed as "websites" are now properly listed as blogs and have stayed on this page. The rest of the "websites" have moved to the NPI Links & Media page, which is almost like a fourth Portal directory, except it's really part of NPI's website.
  8. About Us Upgrade. We made some minor changes to the About Us page to make it easier to read. We also updated the Site History and Site Map. Finally, we have released a new link button, seen below, which anyone can use to link to Pacific Northwest Portal from their own website. (Syndicate members should use the "Syndicated" buttons to link to the Portal instead of this one).
Pacific Northwest Portal

That is about the extent of the changes in the Marine Green Update. So what do you think? Leave a comment in this thread or visit our Feedback page to send us your thoughts. As we said before, this site is driven by you - the readers! Thanks for your continued support.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

P-I joins us in a daily campaign against 912

It's good to know the Seattle P-I Editorial Board is with us.

Every day until the election, they've promised to run an editorial against I-912:
We feel strongly about this one ballot measure. We owe it to ourselves, our readers and our children to crusade for I-912's defeat (even if the measure is popular and inevitable).

If Washington residents fail to invest in their transportation future -- we will live with that decision every day. Every day. Think of those two words while stuck in rush hour traffic. Every day (for most of us, it's more like twice a day). But every day works because from now until the election, the P-I Editorial Board is reminding people what's at stake. An initiative from the people? Yes, and one with everyday consequences.
Weclome. We're glad to have you aboard. We also will continue our focus on Initiative 912.

Our "Disaster Picture of the Week" series will continue every Thursday through November 8th, and we will blog even more frequently - daily or even twice a day - campaigning for I-912's defeat.

We made a commitment when this initiative got on the ballot that we would fight hard for its defeat. And that's just what we're doing. Learn how you can help us in the fight. Visit Washington Defense to get the resources you need to convince family, friends, and co-workers to vote NO on Initiative 912.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Update later today...

There's a lot coming up in the next week. We'll be releasing several improvements to websites or web pages within our network, so we're spending a lot of time this weekend working on that (hence, the light posting).

And of course, we're putting as much energy as possible into the fight against I-912.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on Initiative 912 (October 20th)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

For the last couple of months, we've been posting a picture or illustration here every week reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and destruction.

Kobe Earthquake: The Destroyed ExpresswayThe image to your right is a picture of the spectacular collapse of the Hanshin Expressway in Kobe, Japan. The expressway collapsed in 1995 when an earthquake struck, killing about 5,500 people and injuring over 26,000 others. The economic loss in the earthquake was over $200 billion dollars.

Liquefaction was a major cause of the massive damage that Kobe suffered. Earthquake liquefaction is the process by which saturated, unconsolidated soil or sand is converted into a suspension during an earthquake. "Liquefaction" essentially means that the soil is turned into a liquid.

The key ingredient is a formation of loose, saturated sand. Loose sand has usually been deposited gently underwater, either naturally, or sluiced into what is called hydraulic fill. The loose grains can support considerable weight, with the help of the water, which forms a good portion of the mass.

Once strong earthquake shaking begins, the grains are sheared into the more compact arrangement. The water, however, interferes, and the grains float in a liquid slurry. The excess water is squeezed out which causes the quicksand condition at the surface.

The Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle is susceptible to the same tragedy that befell structures in San Francisco and Kobe. And it's not just the viaduct: other structures that are not up to recent seismic standards could also be destroyed in an earthquake.

Initiative proponents (notably Brett Bader) have scoffed at our concerns and accused us of trying to scare voters. Well, guess what? The threat is real. Other urban areas have neglected to fix the problem, and look what's happened. San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Kobe have all been hit by devastating earthquakes within the last twenty years.

We had an earthquake recently too - the 2001 Nisqually quake - but we got lucky. That doesn't usually happen. We cannot simply hope that we'll get lucky again. We must act before disaster strikes and Seattle becomes the next New Orleans.

Protect this investment in our future. Put Public Safety First. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

Applause for Mike Kreidler

This is why we need government watchdogs and regulation:
Ever since the widely reported news of Farmers' refusal to cover health care costs for massive injuries Adams suffered after being crushed in a six-car pileup last March, a flood of outraged e-mails and phone calls has swamped officials and lawmakers -- from state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler to executives at Farmers headquarters in Los Angeles.

"What was this if it wasn't an accident?" said the 60-year-old, who has already incurred about $500,000 in hospital bills, with more to come. "This is everybody's worst nightmare. You know you have insurance -- you've paid for it -- and you've got these massive injuries. Then to be told, 'No, you don't have coverage,' it was like someone punched me in the stomach. It makes you physically ill."

[Washington State Insurance Commissioner Mike] Kreidler seems to have had a similar reaction.

He characterized Farmers' denial as "an imaginative interpretation" of state insurance law and gave the company an ultimatum: Pay up by 5 p.m. on Thursday or face legal action.

Apparently, the pressure worked.
When corporate behemoths try to stick it to consumers, someone has to step in to fight for them. Good government exists in part to protect and defend its citizens.

In this case, state Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler did exactly the right thing: he gave Farmers Insurance an ultimatum and told them to pay the claim - or be sued.

Neither Ethel nor her attorney contacted the Insurance Commissioner's office about their trouble with Farmers. But after hearing her story on the news, other people did:
Ethel Adams is amazed that Farmers Insurance has done an about face -- but even more amazed that the State Insurance Commissioner and people who heard her story stood up for her. We shared dozens of supportive e-mails with the insurance commissioner.

"What amazes me the most is people took time out from their day to make a phone call or do an e-mail," Adams said. "These are just everyday people like me and they took the time out to get behind me that really feels good."

[...]

Farmers' change of heart comes just one day after an ultimatum from Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler: "We're going to make sure Farmers understands they have a legal responsibility to pay this claim - they will pay this claim." That was just a few hours before Farmers' decision.

Kreidler was so incensed, he threatened to take legal action and pull Farmers' business license so they can never do business in Washington. That move would cut deep, as Farmers is second-largest insurance provider in Washington.

[...]

The Insurance Commissioner's Office wants you to know, if you any problems with your insurance, they want to hear from you.
Good government prevailed and forced Farmers' Insurance to do the right thing and pay Ethel Adams the coverage she deserves. Thanks to Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler's office, Ethel will have a chance to get back on the road where she belongs.

Republicans should dump Irons

Apparently, he's not qualified for public office:
Irons’ mother, father and younger sister won’t vote for him because they believe him to be “dishonest", “devious", prone to violent outbursts, and “totally unqualified” to serve as King County Executive. The family cites a number of incidents, many dating from long before Irons’ 1999 run for county council, that call into question his fitness for office and paints the picture of a troubled, unstable man with a vastly inflated resume, a penchant for dirty tricks, and dubious ethics.

[...]

As tearfully recounted to me by Janet, the “family matter” involved an incident that occurred back during the early 1990’s at her office in the family cable company, when David Jr., during one of his frequent fits of rage, hit his mother, knocking her to the floor… and then ripped the phone off the wall when she attempted to dial 911. Frightened, shocked and in pain, Janet fled in her car, hiding several blocks away, “afraid he was coming again.”

Janet has never again allowed herself to be alone with David Jr. since the day the “family matter” occurred. More than a decade later she remains frightened of her own son, even fretting to me that “something might happen” should he read her account in the papers.

As for David Jr., he never denied to his family that something happened that day… he never straightened the office to hide signs of the struggle, nor picked up the typewriter, papers and other objects he angrily swept off his mother’s desk. However, he did deny to his father and sister that he actually hit his mother, incredibly claiming that she ran into his arm… an account that reads like those laughable accident reports where stunned drivers insist that the tree hit their car.
Read the entire thing...and also read the letter that fellow blogger Darryl writes about how Irons can take control of the situation:
Wow! So you beat the crap out of your mother, huh? Now, that will make for some challenging damage control.

The good news is that you are not African American, or the press would call for your nuts on a platter--deep-fried with blood orange-habanero salsa on the side. But, as a white boy you can pretty much beat-up mom and get by with careful spin. Additionally, you’re a Republican, and we know the public has become desensitized to this kind of thing from you guys--you know, bestiality, S&M, asking God to kill people, and pummeling your mother.

Hey, it’s not as if you got a blow job.

So here’s the spin: Strength. A leader has to do what he has to do. When the situation warrants, a strong leader makes the tough choice and clobbers mom. The voters desperately want strong political leadership, and really, what better way is there to show strength and resolve than by giving your mother a bloody nose or bludgeoning her into unconsciousness?

We will have to work on the family angle a little. The press already reported that your parents and sister will not vote for you, and your father thinks you’re a liar. So, it is important for you to do the right thing by your family here.

You will want to call a press conference. In it, you publicly forgive your mother for wronging you--for her role in pissing you off. Make it from the heart; it’ll grab some of the “family value” vote.
Republicans should drop their support of David Irons. He is simply not qualified for public office. The only real choice for King County Executive is Ron Sims.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Brett Bader still doesn't get it

From this morning's Seattle Times:
I-912 supporters don't think HOV lanes and onramps would solve the state's traffic problems.

"We need new pavement that people can drive their cars on," said Brett Bader, spokesman for I-912. "Onramps and new HOV lanes don't reduce congestion for 95 percent of those who drive their own vehicles, and that's the problem."

I-912 backers complain the tax package doesn't include new general-purpose lanes for Interstate 5, or new lanes on Interstate 405 that would run from Bothell to Renton.

"There's no lane miles to get anyone anywhere faster. It's all designed for mass transit and to make our individual commutes so horrible we'll consider a train or a bus," Bader said.
It's official: Brett Bader is a clueless idiot.

He considers himself an "expert", but he doesn't understand transportation engineering. His quote even sounds stupid: "We need new pavement that people can drive their cars on".

The problem is that simply adding new pavement does not solve congestion. It never has and never will. If you add more pavement and more lanes, there will be more single occupant drivers to fill them. Traffic will simply get worse.

Let me explain what I'm talking about. Here is an excerpt from Suburban Nation, a book published in 2000:
The simple truth is that building more highways and widening existing roads, almost always motivated by concern over traffic, does nothing to reduce traffic. In the long run, in fact, it increases traffic. This revelation is so counterintuitive that it bears repeating: adding lanes makes traffic worse.

This paradox was suspected as early as 1942 by Robert Moses, who noticed that the highways he had built around New York City in 1939 were somehow generating greater traffic problems than had existed previously.

Since then, the phenomenon has been well documented, most notably in 1989, when the Southern California Association of Governments concluded that traffic-assistance measures, be they adding lanes, or even double-decking the roadways, would have no more than a cosmetic effect on Los Angeles' traffic problems. The best it could offer was to tell people to work closer to home, which is precisely what highway building mitigates against.

Across the Atlantic, the British government reached a similar conclusion. Its studies showed that increased traffic capacity causes people to drive more--a lot more--such that half of any driving-time savings generated by new roadways are lost in the short run. In the long run, potentially all savings are expected to be lost. In the words of the Transport Minister, "The fact of the matter is that we cannot tackle our traffic problems by building more roads."

While the British have responded to this discovery by drastically cutting their road-building budgets, no such thing can be said about Americans.

There is no shortage of hard data. A recent University of California at Berkeley study covering thirty California counties between 1973 and 1990 found that, for every 10 percent increase in roadway capacity, traffic increased 9 percent within four years' time. For anecdotal evidence, one need only look at commuting patterns in those cities with expensive new highway systems.

USA Today published the following report on Atlanta: "For years, Atlanta tried to ward off traffic problems by building more miles of highways per capita than any other urban area except Kansas City...As a result of the area's sprawl, Atlantans now drive an average of 35 miles a day, more than residents of any other city." This phenomenon, which is now well known to those members of the transportation industry who wish to acknowledge it, has come to be called induced traffic.

The mechanism at work behind induced traffic is elegantly explained by an aphorism gaining popularity among traffic engineers: "Trying to cure traffic congestion by adding more capacity is like trying to cure obesity by loosening your belt." Increased traffic capacity makes longer commutes less burdensome, and as a result, people are willing to live farther and farther from their workplace.

As increasing numbers of people make similar decisions, the long-distance commute grows as crowded as the inner city, commuters clamor for additional lanes, and the cycle repeats itself. This problem is compounded by the hierarchical organization of the new roadways, which concentrate through traffic on as few streets as possible.
Washington's 2005 transportation package is not about new pavement, which is why Bader is mad. It is, however, about improving public safety and replacing existing arterials. The package is also about replacing seismically unsafe bridges.

The package does include funding for 125 new lane miles of roadway. However, not all of these lanes will be in urban areas. Furthermore, this total includes HOV lanes within urban areas, which are designed to increase carpooling and reduce pollution.

Additionally, the "congestion relief" portion of the package includes money to fix problems at 48 high accident locations and corridors, reduce the number of injury accidents by approximately 2000 per year, and replace 27 older bridges.

The 2005 transportation package is not designed to have Washington build its way out of congestion. That's why Brett Bader & Co. hate it so much - they want a package that includes money for new pavement only.

The Legislature did a good job recognizing that our transportation infrastructure is in need of serious repair. They put public safety first and created a good package to address the problems.

Vote NO on Initiative 912 and protect this investment in Washington's future.

Coming Together To Fight I-912

The campaign to defeat Initiative 912 is well underway.

Thanks to the business community led coalition, television and radio advertisements are finally airing now. Direct mail is going out, literature is being distributed, and speakers are visiting community groups and forums to talk about why the initiative must be defeated.

This morning, the Seattle Times reported that Keep Washington Rolling has met its fundraising goal:
Opponents of Initiative 912, which would repeal the new gas tax, have reached their stated goal of raising more than $2 million for a campaign. The No on 912 campaign has raised about $2.2 million, including contributions of $100,000 each from Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates and Chief Executive Steve Ballmer. Boeing also contributed $100,000.
It's obvious that Microsoft's top executives understand the importance of having a solid transportation infrastructure. This package benefits all Washingtonians - not just business owners.

Besides the larger organizations of Keep Washington Rolling and Washington Defense (ours), there are a few local groups that have formed to oppose I-912.

They include a Vancouver, Wash. based group calling itself the "No on I-912 Campaign", a Seattle community group called "Ballard Says NO on I-912" (led by State Reps. Mary Lou Dickerson and Helen Sommers), and a Bainbridge Island effort led by Chris van Dyk called "Stop 912 Before 912 Stops You". And there are more.

Those are just the groups that have filed as political action committees - to make a difference in their communities.

The existence of so many smaller groups is heartening. It shows that there is powerful populist opposition to Initiative 912. All of these groups are working together to make a difference.

Kirby Wilbur, John Carlson, and Brett Bader should sit up and take notice: You have strong grassroots, populist opposition.

Support a better future for your community and Washington State. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The Facts on Jeff Sax

Concerned citizens from Snohomish County have launched a new website revealing the truth about Snohomish County Republican Jeff Sax and his allegiance to developers.

An orange bar on the side lists dozens of donations from developers: I counted some twenty five listed there, and that's just for starters.

Last January, writing for the Everett Herald, John Healy wrote:
This council, led by Gary Nelson, John Koster and Jeff Sax, has undertaken an outrageous and irresponsible agenda of handing over county land to sprawl developers in clear violation of state laws designed to protect existing communities and taxpayers from the high costs of sprawl.
It's important that residents of Snohomish County understand where Jeff Sax's loyalties lie. Visit the new website from Snohomish Citizens for Ethical Leadership.

Dumb logic for supporting Initiative 912

Dan from On the Road to 2008 writes about a few liberals (such as this commenter who also has his own blog) who have foolishly decided to support Initiative 912:
[A few] car hating liberals who would normally never find themselves voting on an anti-tax initiative concocted by rabid right wingnuts, have decided to get in bed with them, thinking they actually will benefit from the result of I-912 passing.

How sadly wrong they are to think so.

The problem is that they are all working from misguided beliefs.

The gas tax can only be used for highways and ferries. On many of the highway projects bike lanes would be added. On the 520 bridge project, additional capacity would probably include HOV lanes and bike lanes, and perhaps plans to accommodate a rail transit system.

[...]

The best choice for people who support projects like Sound Transit or the Monorail would be to vote against I-912 so that the fund raising needed for our crumbling transportation infrastructure can occur without raiding the options available to pay for transit projects. Seattleites faced with an either or proposition would never support a Monorail project over improved roads and bridges. That's just not a feasibility. However, if given the chance for both, they will, and have supported such transit projects.
The idea that the 2005 transportation package will create more sprawl is entirely ridiculous. The driving element in the package (pun intended!) is public safety. As in replacing seismically unsafe bridges and critical structures - such as the SR 520 floating bridge and the Alaskan Way Viaduct - but also new passing lanes on rural roads, guardrails, and highway medians.

These projects will make Washington safer and lead to less fatalities out on the road. That's a good thing.

If you support Initiative 912, your priorities and reasoning are seriously out of whack. It's saddening to think that there are people who consider themselves to be progressive that would cast their lot in with anti-tax zealots:
I would vote against I-912 if the gas tax increase were about safety and improving Washington's quality of life. Unfortunately, it is mostly about building more roads to encourage ever increasing sprawl.
Actually, the 2005 transportation package is about safety and improving Washington's quality of life.

And, as another of our commenters noted, Washington's environmental coalition agrees. The Sierra Club, the Washington Environmental Council, the Washington Conservation Voters, WashPIRG, Transportation Choices Coalition, and - Washington's #1 anti-sprawl group, Futurewise - all of these respected environmental groups oppose Initiative 912.

If you're a progressive and an environmentalist (and I am!), you can rest assured that voting NO on Initiative 912 is the right thing to do.

Support a better investment in the future of Washington State's public infrastructure. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Sims scores with King County's credit rating

Ron Sims has showed us again and again that we can trust his leadership and sound judgment in leading King County to a brighter future.

Today, our dynamic and empowering County Executive delivered the 2006 Budget Address to the King County Council. As David Goldstein of HorsesAss.org notes:
One little tidbit that immediately jumps off the page is the news that Standard & Poor’s has upgraded the county’s general obligation bond rating to AAA. For the first time in its history, the county now enjoys the highest rating of financial stability awarded by all three major ratings agencies… and one of the highest municipal ratings in the nation
Under the leadership of Ron Sims, King County's financial standing has been improved and now enjoys an excellent reputation. Clearly, our current county executive is extremely well qualified when it comes to sound financial management. We can trust him to keep King County government fiscally responsible and accountable to taxpayers.

Last week, Standard & Poor's applauded the county's performance in its announcement of the rating upgrade:
"From 2000 to 2005, King County experienced economic fluctuation; it was also during this time period that a significant statewide property tax limitation initiative was introduced," said Standard & Poor's credit analyst Gabriel Petek.

"In the midst of these challenges, the county has effectively achieved ongoing structural budget balance while continuing to incrementally increase its reserve levels in recognition of the need for financial cushion in an environment of limited revenue flexibility," he added. "Moreover, the county has taken steps to address potential challenges to its very strong fiscal position. For instance, the county is facilitating the incorporation or annexation of unincorporated-but-urban areas within its limits--areas that are effectively subsidized by county services under the current regime."
Ron has the courage and the vision to lead King County through the best and worst times. This November, King County voters have a clear choice between a strong leader with a proven track record and a challenger who offers little more than claims and rhetoric:
Challenger David Irons says he wants to run the county more like a business, touting his exaggerated resume as preparation for running a government larger than that of thirteen states. But when voters go to the polls to choose who’s best qualified to manage the county’s $3.4 billion budget, I’m guessing they’ll stick with Sims, the executive who has led King County to the highest bond ratings in its history, at a time when many other municipalities around the state are bordering on bankruptcy.
County Executive Sims has earned a strong commendation from us and others for delivering such outstanding leadership during tough economic times:
...By setting the county on such a sound financial footing at a time when revenues were shrinking and costs were skyrocketing, Sims deserves just as much credit as he’s earned for the county.
Ron Sims wants to continue working for us. Voters ought to give him that opportunity and reelect him for another term.

Darcy Burner posts again on Daily Kos

Addressing the question, “If President Bush decided to invade Iran, could Congress stop him?” Darcy writes:
Could Congress, indeed? President Bush has amply demonstrated he believes there are no limits to his power. The current Republican-controlled House and the Senate have not stood in his way. And the independence of the judicial branch, our last resort, is endangered with the confirmation of Chief Justice John Roberts and the nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court.

The Constitution was set up with a system of checks and balances to keep power distributed; can we make those checks work?

Of course, we have to start by regaining control of some piece of the government.
Let’s start with the comparatively low-hanging fruit: suppose we win the fifteen seats we need for a majority in the House of Representatives in 2006, and suppose that is all we gain. If we control only the House – but not the Senate or the Presidency – can we stop him?
Read the whole diary, and if you're a member of Daily Kos, please recommend also!

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Pacific NW Portal Maintenance

If you were using Pacific Northwest Portal today, you probably noticed the RSS feeds had some trouble loading. Rest assured that it was just temporary maintenance. By tomorrow morning, things should be back to normal.

As always, our goal is to deliver you a better website. We think better performance is worth a few hours of sporadic feed outages.

The team is working on a few remaining pieces, other than that, the Marine Green update to Pacific Northwest Portal is just about ready! We've set the launch date for a week from tomorrow - Monday, October 24th, 2005.

As with our last major update - the launch of Version 3.0 on July 20th - this package of changes is based largely on your feedback and suggestions.

The official version number for the Marine Green Update is 3.5. Here's a timeline of Pacific Northwest Portal's version history:

  1. January 10th-28th, 2005: Pacific Northwest Portal is conceptualized and developed. By the 28th, a beta version is live on the web for testing.
  2. January 31st, 2005: Pacific Northwest Portal Version 1.0 is officially launched, and traffic takes off. Version 1.0 includes just three pages.
  3. February 7th, 2005: Pacific NW Portal launches Version 1.1, debuting the Expanded Washington section and syndicating 6 additional blogs from the Evergreen State.
  4. February 10th, 2005: A minor package of changes [Version 1.5] is released - with the largest being a font change on the RSS feeds, which is changed to Trebuchet MS from Garamond. Version 1.5 also includes new CSS code to stabilize the display in different browsers. Support for Firefox is improved.
  5. February 14th, 2005: Pacific NW Portal debuts Version 3.7, debuting an Expanded Oregon section and syndicating 6 additional blogs from the Beaver State.
  6. February 28th, 2005: A revamped site is launched [Version 2.0], with big changes to the homepage, two new sections, and a new Blogs & Websites directory with site icons for every blog.
  7. March 21st, 2005: Version 2.1 released. Pacific NW Portal rolls out improved newswires with better filtering to screen out conservative and unwanted mainstream news sources.
  8. March 29th, 2005: Version 2.2 released. Blog syndication changes are announced and the directory is updated.
  9. April 25th, 2005: Version 2.3 released. The directory is once again updated and the new Highlights section is unveiled.
  10. May 10th, 2005: Version 2.5 released. The new Toolkit section is introduced and most pages are given important updates.
  11. July 20th, 2005: "True Blue", Pacific NW Portal Version 3.0, is launched. It includes new pages, new syndicated blogs, new features, and a redesign, along with a major directory update. Interface, reliability, and feed engine are improved by leaps and bounds.
  12. August 4th, 2005: The Early August Update [Version 3.1] to Pacific Northwest Portal is released. It includes new graphics, better newswires, new syndicated blogs, a revamped Toolkit page (with better traffic and weather), another directory update, and minor changes to a few other pages.
  13. August 30th, 2005: Pacific Northwest Portal Version 3.2 launches, billed as the "Late August Update". It includes the debut of a new syndicate member, another directory update, and another set of new graphics.
If you read the timeline carefully, you noticed that we skip around a bit. For example, our last update was Version 3.2, but this one is Version 3.5.

The reason is that some updates are more significant than others. Rather than release what's in the Marine Green Update in increments, we prefer to thoroughly comb through the site making sure we're satisfied with the major changes and also fixing other bugs.

So the nonexistent Versions 3.3 and 3.4, for example, could exist - but they're just accumulated right into Version 3.5. Not that you really care that much anyway!

Be sure to check back here for the details on next Monday's launch of Version 3.5 - the "Marine Green" Update.

Refuting the Myths from I-912 Proponents

"All the money is going to Seattle."
"It's just a big ripoff to everyone who doesn't live in King County."
"It's all going to Interstate 5."


The above are just some of the myths I've heard about the 2005 transportation package, especially from the people who collected signatures in Eastern Washington.

Today, the Seattle Times has published a "guide" to the new gas tax and to Initiative 912. Their guide includes this map which shows the return for each county in Washington State:

As you can see from the map, the counties that benefit the most don't happen lie alongside Puget Sound. Neither do they encompass the state's largest population centers. They're either on the coast or part of Eastern Washington.

Now, isn't that interesting?

Admittedly, Benton, Spokane, and Yakima (Eastern Washington's population centers) don't get a huge return.

But remember that this map looks at the entire gas tax. The 2005 transportation package does include $61.7 million for Yakima, $40.9 million for Benton, and $201 million for Spokane.

The idea of the package is to fix the most dangerous roads and structures in Washington State, not evenly distribute every bit of money. So some counties will get more and others will get less. And as you can see, there's no bias favoring any particular region in Washington State. It's county by county.

If you look at where the money is distributed under this package (not the entire gas tax!), you will see it is aimed mostly at population centers, which makes complete sense. That's where the most heavily traveled roads are. That's where the structures (i.e. bridges) that are the most dangerous and seismically unsafe happen to be.

As the Times itself notes: "For years, King County drivers paid more in gas taxes than the state put back into road projects there."

Yet some of the most important projects are in King County. The 2005 transportation package is an attempt to introduce more balance into the overall distribution of dollars in the entire gas tax.

The bottom line is that every Washingtonian benefits from the 2005 transportation package. Every single Washingtonian. Even if there isn't a project in your neighborhood, you still benefit.

As a motorist and a traveler, you benefit from safer roads and improved ferries. As a resident, citizen, and a worker, you benefit from more jobs and better infrastructure.

As a business owner, you and your employees certainly benefit from reduced congestion and the assurance that you can get your goods to market at a low cost.

Everyone wins under this guaranteed investment for Washington's future.

Vote NO on Initiative 912 and protect this investment for yourself and your fellow Washingtonians.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Oregon's awful Measure 37 tossed out

Good news:
SALEM, Ore. - A judge on Friday overturned a voter-passed property compensation law as unconstitutional.

Marion County Circuit Judge Mary James struck down the law as violating five provisions of the state and federal constitutions.

The law, passed as Measure 37 on the November 2004 ballot, requires that state and local governments either compensate land owners when regulations lower property values or waive the rules.

James said the statute violates equal protection provisions of the Oregon Constitution and a state constitutional ban on suspending laws.
Measure 37 was a horrible step in the wrong direction. The Farm Bureau, BIAW, Tim Eyman, and other conservative interests are hoping to do an initiative in 2006 that will be a clone of Oregon's Measure 37, which we will adamantly oppose. It's simply bad policy that hurts our communities.

The Rosetta Stone for Kos Diary Titles

This has got to be one of the funniest things I've read in months. If you're a Kossack you just HAVE to read this:
Those of you who are new to DailyKos may have found yourselves confused by diary titles. You notice a headline that makes a certain claim, only to find the diary itself making the opposite claim. Don't worry, you're not crazy. You're just unfamiliar with our brand of coded speak. So for you newbies, I've put together a little guide to diary titles and their translations.

Bush admits that war was mistake!
Bush made an off-the-cuff remark, that loosely interpreted could imply that he was admitting an error, but was obviously not his actual intended meaning.
---------------------------------
Gore announces his 08 candidacy!
Gore stated emphatically that he is not running for office, ever
again.
---------------------------------
BREAKING: You have to read this!
There's nothing breaking. You don't have to read this.
---------------------------------
Ten reasons why the GOP will lose in 06
Five or six reasons why the GOP will lose in 06.
---------------------------------
What the Democrats need to win
John Kerry sucks.
---------------------------------
Proof that the Republicans are crumbling
I was standing in line at the post office and I overheard a Republican talking about his dissatisfaction with Bush.
---------------------------------
Bush's numbers hit all time record low
Bush's numbers are still hovering around where they've been for the past few months.
---------------------------------
Liberals applaud terror strike in Tikrit
I'm having a dinner party tomorrow evening and I need some recipes.
---------------------------------
Bush nominates crony for Supreme Court
A brief news synopsis for those just returning from Mars.
---------------------------------
Did anyone see WWF Smackdown last night?
Sorry, I'm totally lost. I thought this was alt.tv.pro-wrestling.
---------------------------------
The real deal with the Plame investigation
I have no fucking clue what's happening with the Plame investigation.
---------------------------------
Democrats need to learn to take action
Hold on a sec while I hit the snack machine. All this web surfing makes me hungry.
---------------------------------
This is my final diary on DailyKos
This is my first diary on DailyKos.
---------------------------------
Why I'm an atheist
Why I posses a devout, unwavering belief in something that cannot be proven.
---------------------------------
Why I'm religious
Why I reject organized religion and all its tenets.
---------------------------------
Please stop with the God diaries!
Please continue with the God diaries.
---------------------------------
My plan for winning in 08
I was hit on my head with a rock, and now I think I'm the strategic planner for the Democratic party.
---------------------------------
Why I support Dean for president
My watch is running 18 months slow.
---------------------------------
The Democrats need to body-slam Bush
Sorry, I'm totally lost. I thought this was alt.tv.pro-wrestling.
---------------------------------
We need to stop calling for Bush's impeachment
We need to abandon the very concept of justice. It's just not practical.
---------------------------------
Bono to raise money for Santorum
I've never heard of fact-checking.
---------------------------------
Zackpunk wastes our time with another dumb, satirical diary.
OK, that title translates literally.
Couldn't stop laughing!

DavidNYC suggests we add this one:

The Rosetta Stone for Diary Titles
This diary won't actually unlock any secrets for newcomers - it will only entertain long-time readers.

Too funny!

Thursday, October 13, 2005

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on Initiative 912 (October 13th)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

For the last couple of months, we've been posting a picture or illustration here every week reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and destruction.

The image to the left shows a collapsed section of Kobe's former Hanshin Expressway.

The elevated freeway collapsed in the 1995 Kobe earthquake (Magnitude 7.2, lasted twenty seconds), causing loss of lives and significant property damage.

Don't let this kind of a disaster happen to us. Put Public Safety First. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

NPI releases positions for 2005 initiatives

Today, NPI, through its Smart Initiatives for Washington Alliance division, is releasing its official endorsements for 2005 initiatives. Our positions are as follows:

Initiative 912 - A resounding NO
Initiative 900 - NO
Initiative 901 - YES
Initiative 330 - NO
Initiative 336 - YES

See our 2005 ballot measures page for more information, including our rationale.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Irons: Passing I-912 would be "a tragedy"

Finally, a Republican candidate is willing to make some firm comments and go on the record against this awful initiative instead of being silent or wishy-washy:
Republican King County executive candidate David Irons was quick to respond to a recent Post-Intelligencer editorial calling on elected officials in his party to take a firm public stance on Initiative 912, which would repeal the recent gas-tax increase at the cost of billions of dollars in highway work and thousands of jobs.

"After reading your paper's editorial," Irons e-mailed us, "I obviously have not succeeded in reaching everyone on the importance of defeating I-912. Transportation is a cornerstone of my campaign and passing I-912 would be a tragedy to our community."

In a subsequent telephone interview, Irons reiterated that he has been "consistent" on the issue. "I oppose I-912, for a litany of reasons," said Irons. He also says he's encountering more people who understand the negative implications of the initiative.

We welcome Iron's clear reiteration of his opposition to I-912. We continue our challenge to elected officials in both Republican and Democratic parties to be outspoken and unequivocal in their opposition to what would be a giant step backward on building and maintaining the state's highway and ferry systems.

Republicans especially might value being in the good company of such leading businesses as Microsoft, Weyerhaeuser and the Seattle Mariners, all of whom urge voters to reject I-912. Traditionally, big business has written big checks to GOP campaigns. Incumbent Republicans might wonder if business will continue to underwrite politicians who undercut the state's economic health.
Applause to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer for keeping the pressure on. It's good to see that David Irons has clarified his position on I-912. He adamantly opposes it - as he should, if he has any hope whatsoever of becoming King County Executive.

A few other Republicans have also had the courage to come out against Initiative 912. The Mainstream Republicans of Washington have already endorsed NO on the initiative, and Jimmy from McCranium tells us about Benton County Commissioner Leo Bowman, a Republican who has come out strongly against this terrible proposal.

Dino Rossi and Mike McGavick...now it's your turn. Washington State wants to know where you stand on I-912. You can't be a leader if you're a coward. Do you care about the future of Washington State or not?

Dino, how is it possible to champion a "Forward Washington" agenda if you support an initiative that moves Washington backwards? Why don't you come out and denounce this initiative? You do believe in a solid transportation infrastructure - or don't you?

Mike McGavick? Where do you stand? All we know is that Safeco has donated at least $1,000 to NO on 912 efforts.

Last spring, Joel Connelly asked you about I-912, and all you would say was that the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 are important assets that you're "focused on" and you also said, "I personally have been voting no on every referendum that comes along, because I don't think that's how we ought to be governed."

That's not good enough, Mike. We want a clearer answer.

As David Irons has learned, you can't run and hide on important issues. Sooner or later, it catches up with you. Duck diving on transportation in Washington State is unacceptable.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Southwest Airlines move is dead

They won't be moving to Boeing Field after all. It's over:
King County Executive Ron Sims on Tuesday rejected proposals by Southwest Airlines and Alaska Air Group to begin flying passenger jets out of Boeing Field, citing concerns about traffic, noise and the potential cost to taxpayers.

"I have said all along that I would not endorse any proposal from any airline if it led to significant traffic and noise impacts," Sims said.

[...]

Sims said Boeing Field could not handle both proposals, with the resulting increase in traffic and noise, and he could not play favorites by picking one airline over the other. So he rejected them both.
This was the right move. This decision will end the wrangling between the Port, Sims' office, and other officials. We can now move on.

Okay, so Columbian editorial writers aren't that bad

In my previous post, I criticized the Columbian's editorial board for what we believe is a rushed editorial that has echoes of Eyman rhetoric throughout. I also said this:
This editorial lowers our respect for the Columbian editorial board down another notch. This isn't the first time they've gone out of their way to praise Eyman, and we doubt it'll be the last. They're losing credibility in our eyes - fast.
I stand by what I just said. However, I also just noticed this in the Columbian's Sunday editorial which came out strongly against I-912:
Bipartisan legislative support for the solution is matched by bipartisan support in private sectors. The liberal Northwest Progressive Institute in Redmond agrees with the plan, and chambers of commerce and business groups see the gas tax increase as more than necessary, in fact vital: "If we don't fix (transportation problems), we'll have an economic heart attack," said Steve Mullin, chairman of the Washington Roundtable, a group of large-company CEOs. "The longer we wait, the more it will cost in the long run."
Well, how kind of them to mention us in their editorial. It's good to know our work has been noticed.

We still think the editorial endorsing I-900 is awful. But if we're going to dish out criticism, we should also dish out praise when we think it's due. The Columbian's stance on I-912 is solid, and we like to see that. We like it even more that we're mentioned in the editorial.

So, fine. The Columbian's editorial writers can turn out something good. But we're going to keep our eyes on them when it comes to editorializing on Eyman.

Columbian editorial board sucks up to Tim Eyman

They endorsed yes on Initiative 900 and repeated all of Eyman's talking points. That's not surprising, though. This isn't the first time it's happened.

They make the same mistake in reasoning the Times and others have. They forget that Brian Sonntag isn't going to be around forever. The main problem with Initiative 900 is not the financial drain on the state, which isn't terribly severe. It's giving too much power to a partisan elected official. As we argued previously:
What happens when Brian Sonntag leaves the auditor's office? Is the next auditor going to be every bit as impressive as he is? The Republican candidate in the last election for auditor was extremely unqualified.

It's unwise to give a partisan elected officer this much power. We know we can trust Sonntag to wield power wisely and reponsibly - but can we trust all of his successors?
The Columbian's editorial board, or whichever one of them wrote this, went out of their way to mock us. We took issue especially with this:
Opponents of I-900 have mounted arguments that are almost laughable. They think the $10 million that will be spent each year on performance audits is a waste of money. But when you consider that in Washington, state and local agencies spend $40 billion a year, an objective performance-audit program is easily worth $10 million.

Opponents also don't like the idea of state watchdogs hovering over local agencies, but consider two points: Performance audits yield recommendations not requirements and local officials should welcome an outside, independent review (unless they're hiding something).
What's laughable is this editorial. If you know Eyman's style and rhetoric, you can see huge echoes of it throughout this piece of writing. This is not a thoughtful endorsement.

The Columbian editorial writer (or writers) ignore the fact that many local governments already have performance auditing processes in place. There's no mention of JLARC (Joint Legislative Audit Review Committee) in this whole thing.

The Legislature has already approved performance audits of state government. There's a reason why they didn't give the state auditor the power to audit local governments.

Also not mentioned in here is that I-900 gives the auditor (need we remind you - a partisan elected official) - subpoena power. I-900 sets the stage for attacks on government agencies. All that needs to happen is for an auditor with an agenda to get elected. That's more likely to happen in the future than not.

Maybe instead of gobbling up Eyman's rhetoric, the folks at the Columbian could take a look at the fine print of the initiative, ask the auditor's office some pointed questions, and evaluate our arguments against the initiative more carefully.

There's a reason why we, the Washington State Labor Council, the Association of Washington Cities, the Municipal League, and others have come out against Initiative 900.

This editorial lowers our respect for the Columbian editorial board down another notch. This isn't the first time they've gone out of their way to praise Eyman, and we doubt it'll be the last. They're losing credibility in our eyes - fast.

More information about Initiative 900 and why you should vote NO can be found here.

Bader & Co. Launch Baseless Attacks Against WSDOT

There goes Brett Bader, the GOP political consultant for I-912, shooting off his mouth again:
The signs are popping up along highway projects all over the state: "It's Your Nickel, Watch It Work."

But when proponents of the initiative that would repeal Washington's new 9.5-cent-per-gallon gas-tax increase see the billboards, they say they're watching the Washington Department of Transportation use taxpayer money to work against their ballot measure.

"That violates the use of public funds for a political campaign," said Brett Bader, spokesman for Initiative 912, which is on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Bader is mad that WSDOT is putting up signs to stress how it's being accountable with the money that's being raised from the 2003 transportation package.

This is a baseless attack designed to generate press, which anti-tax proponents (especially Tim Eyman) seem to be very good at.
The department has been actively advocating the new tax in the guise of informational material, [Bader] said, "that includes signs and even a department Web page listing the 274 projects that the new gas-tax revenue is slated to pay for, he said.

"Listing a bunch of pie-in-the-sky projects (on the DOT Web site) with no balance in the commentary is clearly a statement in favor of the tax and opposition of I-912," Bader said.

Initiative 912 sponsors have not filed a formal complaint, but Bader said he is considering doing so.
So it's not just the signs - now the department's web page explaining what the package pays for is illegal?

According to Bader, WSDOT needs to entirely handicapped. It should be bound and gagged until the campaign is over. No communication with the public whatsoever.

Listen up, Brett. You don't know what the heck you're talking about. You don't seem to have a firm grasp of public disclosure law. You also don't have a very good understanding of transportation engineering or science (which unfortunately seems to be typical for many Republicans!) You think we can repair the Alaskan Way Viaduct for a few hundred million dollars!

Fortunately, WSDOT's chief had a strong answer for Bader that shows just how laughable his fake outrage is:
State Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald chuckled at the apparent irony he said he saw in Bader's protests.

"We are supposed to be accountable to the public and tell them what is happening to their dollars, but we are not supposed to spend the cost of a sheet of plywood to put up a sign saying this is the project that the money is building -- go figure," MacDonald said.

He said there is an entire campaign based on the notion that "WashDOT is not accountable, nobody knows where the money goes and it's probably all wasted and they don't tell us what they are doing with the money."

MacDonald said the timing belies Bader's argument.

"The signs were put up long before there was an initiative to repeal the gas tax," MacDonald said. "Obviously we didn't have the 912 initiative in mind when we started putting up those signs. ... It is true, now that we are starting more and more projects, we are putting up more and more signs."

MacDonald said he is not overly concerned about the potential of a Public Disclosure complaint.

"The law says, you can do what you ordinarily do in your business, in ways that might be thought are going to influence the outcome," he said.

MacDonald said that sending DOT representatives to events such as town hall meetings is also part of the normal duties of the department.

"It's absolutely fair game under public disclosure," MacDonald said.
Brett Bader has no protest. He's got nothing but baseless attacks, lies, and wildly misleading statements. Washington voters need to ignore proponents of Initiative 912. Don't listen to people who want you to throw away our region's future. Send them a strong signal that you want to invest in better transportation.

Vote NO on Initiative 912.

Monday, October 10, 2005

If you're a fan of Allan Prell...

Then you won't want to miss this:
ALLAN PRELL'S MASSING OF THE MULTITUDE
Date: Wednesday, October 12, 2005
Time: 12:00 P.M.--High Noon
Location: Entercom Bldg. (KIR0 Radio) 1820 Eastlake Ave. East
Purpose: To Stand Around And Look Silly

SCHEDULED EVENTS
12:00 P.M. -- Milling of mini-crowd, Passing out of signs (Each person up to a total of 20 receives five dollars for waving of sign--or bring your own crappy sign)
12:01 -- Allan Prell whines about being fired
12:02 -- Allan Prell chains himself to Entercom Building
12:02:30 -- Allan Prell casts off the chains of oppression
12:03 -- Mini-crowd shakes fists in righteous indignation (hoots and jeers permissible)
12:04 -- Ancient Tibetan Purification-of-the-Air Ceremony
12:05 -- Passing out of free food (limited supply)
12:06 -- Police arrive to break up the mini-crowd
12:07 -- Murmurings...Suggested mutterings:
“Boy, that was a big nothing.”
“I knew nobody would show up.”
“What a jerk.”
“I never did listen to him, and I sure won’t now.”
“Did you see how fat he is.”
“Hell, there wasn’t even any blood--the cops could have at least hit him over the head.”
“I’d have more fun at my own funeral.”
12:08--Everyone goes home depressed

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Seattle Times endorses yes on I-900, NO on Initiative 912

As we predicted yesterday, the Times has endorsed Initiative 900. Their rationale:
The public-spirited Sonntag, endorsed by everyone from the Women's Political Caucus to the Gun Owners' Action League, won his last election with 64 percent of the vote, the largest majority of any statewide office. I-900 will tend to make him a figure of greater controversy. Those who seek the office in the future will make an issue of what he audited and what he didn't, and the wisdom of what he said.

He wants it, and the state stands to benefit from it. Let's let him do it.

Vote for I-900.
Their reasoning, in a nutshell? Sonntag would like more power, so let's give him more power.

As we've said all along, we like Brian Sonntag. He's a good auditor. But what happens when Brian Sonntag leaves the auditor's office? Is the next auditor going to be every bit as impressive as he is? The Republican candidate in the last election for auditor was extremely unqualified.

It's unwise to give a partisan elected officer this much power. We know we can trust Sonntag to wield power wisely and reponsibly - but can we trust all of his successors?

Much of sponsor Tim Eyman's arguments seem to revolve around the fact that Sonntag likes the concept of I-900. This argument seems persuasive, because Sonntag is widely respected and happens to be a Democrat.

The editorial boards of the Seattle Times and the Olympian aren't looking ahead to the future - a future where we have a new state auditor.

They might have been wise to listen to the Municipal League, a respected organization which opposes Initiative 900.

The Times did, however, endorse NO on Initiative 912...which we expected and were pleased to see.
Initiative 912, which torpedoes badly needed road, bridge-safety and mobility improvements across the state, requires voters to think carefully and then vote "no."

In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, voters ought to consider the long-term interest and turn down a shortsighted proposal, which irresponsibly rolls back a 9.5-cent gas-tax increase approved by the Legislature. I-912 is classic instant gratification for a community given plenty of warning about roads, bridges and earthquake preparedness.

Putting off until tomorrow what should be done today on the Alaskan Way Viaduct and Highway 520 bridge is akin to what New Orleans did by not shoring up levees.

[...]

Our state is livable because preceding generations invested in infrastructure. Upgraded roads and bridges are essential to moving goods and people around the region.

Voters ought to consider and reconsider I-912, then vote "no" on an irresponsible, backward measure.
Well said. Initiative 912 is simply bad policy that our state cannot afford. We must learn to invest in the future. We cannot continue to procrastinate and cut revenue from the state's budget. Vote NO on I-912. Put Public Safety First.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Seattle Times to endorse yes on I-900 tomorrow

NPI has reason to believe that the Seattle Times editorial board will endorse "yes" on Tim Eyman's Initiative 900 tomorrow.

The Times recently put out its endorsement schedule:
The Seattle Times Editorial Board's endorsements of initiatives and candidates begin this week, including our take on three of five statewide initiatives. We urge a no vote on two medical-malpractice measures, Initiatives 330 and 336; we support a yes vote for cleaner indoor air, Initiative 901. The schedule:

Sunday, Oct. 9 — Initiative 912, recalling the gas-tax increase; Initiative 900, performance audits
Monday, Oct. 10 — Seattle mayor
Tuesday, Oct. 11 — Seattle Port Commission
Sunday, Oct. 16 — Seattle School Board
Monday and Tuesday, Oct 17 and 18 — King County Council
Wednesday, Oct. 19 — Everett mayor
Thursday, Oct. 20 — Kent mayor
Sunday, Oct. 23 — Seattle City Council
Monday, Oct. 24 — King County sheriff
Wednesday, Oct. 26 — Snohomish County Council
Thursday, Oct. 27 — Senate Joint Resolution 8207
Friday, Oct. 28 — King County veterans and human services levy
Sunday, Oct. 30 — King County executive
Sunday, Nov. 6 — Election wrap-up
Selected Eastside and South King County races throughout the month.

Previous recommendations:

State Initiative I-901, smoking ban — Yes.
State Initiatives I-330/336, tort and medical reform — No.
We'll see what the Times editorial board's reasoning for supporting I-900 is tomorrow.

We do know that the Times said this last May:
Last week, Eyman revved up the I-900 campaign and vowed to get enough signatures to win a spot on the November ballot. He says the Legislature-approved performance audits don't give the auditor enough authority because the law establishes an appointed citizens panel. But the fact is, the panel is only advisory to the auditor, who will retain discretion.

More importantly, Sonntag, the guy who knows the most about this topic and will be most accountable, is satisfied.

The threat of Eyman's initiative might have given the Legislature a needed nudge. Eyman should take that credit and abandon the I-900 campaign. His work here is done.
Tim, of course, didn't abandon the Initiative 900 campaign. Why would he have done that? He needs an initiative on the ballot to stay relevant.

So, last May, the Times urged Eyman to abandon the campaign, saying "his work is done" and "the auditor is satisfied". And now they're endorsing Initiative 900? If they like the initiative so much, why did they urge Eyman to drop his campaign earlier?

Compared to previous Eyman initiatives, I-900 doesn't do that much damage. But it's still ineffective, harmful to home rule, and unnecessary. Vote NO on I-900.

Seattle P-I joins us, asks: Where's Rossi and McGavick on I-912?

A commendation to the P-I editorial board for keeping the pressure on (to be published Sunday):
For members of the state's political class, the effort to repeal the four-year 9.5-cent gas tax increase is all about politics. Initiative 912 is variously described as a referendum on the liberal politics of Olympia or a revote of the governor's race.

To regular folks, however, the issue is mobility and safety -- 274 new highway projects, including helping to replace the crumbling Alaskan Way Viaduct.

[...]

But if politics must trump safety and economic security, let's hear from the politicians -- especially Republican politicians.

The man peddling the book "Dino Rossi: Lessons in Leadership, Business, Politics and Life" ought to show some leadership. Rossi, who voted for the previous 5-cent gas tax increase, continues to duck the I-912 issue. In the gubernatorial campaign, Rossi has said he would support no initiatives because the state needed a rest from such measures. "So I think I've told the public where I am," Rossi said then. So tell us where you are now.

King County executive candidate David Irons touts leadership but will only say he'll personally vote against I-912. Forget his secret ballot. Voters want to know what sort of leader won't take a stand on billions of dollars and thousands of jobs.

Where are the Republican legislators who voted for the gas tax increase -- defending their votes or running from them?

Where does would-be U.S. senator Mike McGavick stand on gutting state funding and thus jeopardizing federal money?

With less than five weeks to Election Day, it's not too late for some Republican leadership.
(emphasis mine) Strongly applauded!

When it comes to leading and governing, the state Republican Party is the party of cowardice. Key GOP candidates, afraid to offend one of two key groups of the Republican coalition, are trying to stay away from Initiative 912. That's not leadership.

We want to know: what is Dino Rossi's stance on Initiative 912? Where does Mike McGavick stand? Why isn't David Irons being more proactive in criticizing this backwards step?

This is one of the best editorials the P-I editorial board has ever produced. It's right on target. This is indeed about public safety. This is about investing in the future of Washington State. This is about accountability and responsibility.

And on this important issue, the de facto leader of Republicans in Washington State - Dino Rossi - has kept quiet entirely. McGavick should join him in speaking up.

And the Seattle P-I editorial board members should continue publishing such great editorials.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Republican abuse of power in House continues

Representative Louise Slaughter's office has the details:
Republicans Twist Arms on House Floor to Pass Energy Bill

Washington, DC - Rep. Louise M. Slaughter (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee, responded today to the Republican Leadership's deliberate attempt to thwart the will of the American people and to undermine the democratic process during a vote on the Gasoline for America's Security Act.

"Once again, on an issue of critical importance to the American people, the Republican Majority has chosen to trample the democratic process and manipulate the outcome of a vote on the Floor of the House of Representatives, after the vote was completed."

"This is an unethical subversion of our democracy. The Republican Leadership has brought shame on themselves and the House of Representatives."

"Today, we all see how the Republican culture of corruption has destroyed the credibility of this government and directly impacts the lives of each and every American."

Rep. Mike Simpson (R-ID), Speaker Pro-Tempore of the House, held open a five-minute vote on HR 3893, the Gasoline for America's Security Act, for over forty minutes. For nearly all of that time, Republicans were unable to produce a majority vote in favor of the bill. Rep. Simpson repeatedly stated that he was using his discretion to hold the vote open until all Members had voted. But as soon as Republicans had gained the needed number of votes to pass the Act, he closed the vote. The final vote total was 212 to 210.

BACKGROUND:

The Republican Leadership abuses its power in the chair, and holds votes open for the sole purpose of reversing the outcome of the vote on a regular basis. On five separate occasions in the 108th Congress alone, votes were held open beyond the traditional 17-minute limit in order to overturn the will of the majority. These votes include the infamous 3-hour Prescription Drug vote in November 2003, which went far beyond any previous vote and broke all records in the history of electronic voting. By comparison, in 1987, the Republicans excoriated the Democratic Leadership for holding a vote open for only 30 minutes.

Before the Republican Leadership took over in 1995, votes were usually held open simply to decide what the next business should be on the House floor. This occurred after the outcome was already determined. Below is a chronological record of lengthy votes going back to 1987, and the time each vote was held open. "Arm-twisting" votes are noted by asterisks.

109th Congress

October 7, 2005
H.R. 3893-Gasoline for America's Security Act vote began at 1:57 pm (a five minute vote) and was gaveled down at 2:43 pm) vote #519. 46 minutes (for a 5-minute vote)

July 27 & 28, 2005 (legislative day of July 27, 2005)
H.R. 3045-CAFTA the vote started at 11:00 pm on the 27th and went on until 12:03 am) Vote #443. 63 minutes

Previous Congresses

July 8, 2004
Sanders amendment on PATRIOT Act to FY 2005 Commerce-Justice State Appropriations bill. 38 minutes.

March 30, 2004
Motion to instruct conferees on PAYGO on the FY 2005 Budget Resolution. 28 minutes (on 5-minute vote).

November 22, 2003
Final Passage of the Conference Report on HR 1, the Prescription Drug bill. 3 hours. (during this time frame, former Rep. Nick Smith claimed to have been offered a bribe by then Majority Leader Tom DeLay, which ultimately lead to DeLay's formal admonishment by the Ethics Committee)

June 26, 2003
Final Passage of HR 1, the Prescription Drug bill. 50 minutes.

March 20, 2003
Final Passage of Budget Resolution. 26 minutes.

July 12, 2001
Campaign Finance bill. This was a "time out" to determine what was to occur next on the floor. 130 minutes.

October 9, 1997
Passage of FY 1998 DC Appropriations bill. 33 minutes.

Longest Votes Prior to the Republican Majority in the House

October 3, 1994
Time out to accommodate numerous changes in the floor schedule. 44 minutes.

August 19, 1994
Time out to determine what to do next on Crime bill. 73 minutes.

October 14, 1993
Time out to determine floor schedule after rule on unemployment was defeated. 65 minutes.

October 29, 1987
Final passage of Reconciliation bill. 30 minutes.
It's an outrage. But it's still happening - even if Tom DeLay has stepped down as majority leader. The arm-twisting has continued. The rules are thrown out the window so the Republican leadership can manipulate members to get the result they want. When they have enough representatives in their corner, they shut off the voting.

It's undemocratic. It needs to end. The best way to get a more democratic House of Representatives is to elect more Democrats. Here in Washington, we already have an exciting chance to do that in the 8th District. But the abuse of power - the corruption, the swindling, the arm twisting - must end, period.

What I-912 will do to travel between Seattle and Bellevue:

Interstate 90 from Seattle to Bellevue was built with high capacity transit in mind. The express lanes through the center are reversible, efficiently serving the direction they are pointing, but worsening traffic in the direction they are not. As population grows (and SR-520 doesn't), traffic density is increasing on I-90, and WSDOT and Sound Transit are working together on a solution.

Sound Transit's High Capacity Transit Analysis Summary (PDF) shows that the best cost per rider solution for I-90 is HOV bus rapid transit, followed by light rail integrated with the Central Link system as rider demand increases. Do note that Sound Transit's <$10m cost estimate for HOV bus transit is misleading, because WSDOT is paying for the HOV lanes. In order to run light rail on the central express lanes, however, dedicated HOV lanes will have to be built for the existing traffic.

In four phases, WSDOT will widen the roadway and add outer HOV lanes with dedicated entrances and exits to both travel directions. This will remove bus transit from regular travel lanes and create more highway capacity, as well as make bus service more reliable over the bridge - increasing ridership, and lowering the number of cars in the regular travel lanes. The first phase, including direct HOV access ramps from I-405 South to I-90 West, is funded by - you guessed it - the 2005 Transportation Tax Package.

Initiative 912 will eliminate funding for better bus service and reduced traffic in the non-express direction, and it will delay or cancel plans for high capacity transit to Bellevue. This is bad not just for the tens of thousands who commute on I-90, but for everyone who depends on goods delivered via I-90. Local food and raw materials as well as many of the goods we ship overseas depend on truck transport through this corridor. Adding thousands of unnecessary cars per day will cost shippers more and waste billions of dollars worth of work time.

Initiative 912: Proponents' politics of division

On Tuesday, I promised I'd go over Kate Riley's excellent column in the Seattle Times, and, unfortunately, I've been so busy, I haven't been able to write about it.

Until now.

Here's how Riley got started:
Backers of Initiative 912 are attempting to perpetuate a fraud on Washington voters.

[...]

As dispatched from the campaign's mother ship, KVI-AM conservative talk radio, the story line goes that wild-eyed Seattle liberals will replace the viaduct with the Taj Mahal of tunnels — all on the gas tanks of hard-working reasonable people everywhere else.

Not true. While $2 billion of new gas-tax revenues is earmarked to help replace the viaduct — a major regional thoroughfare that might collapse in the next earthquake — it won't pay for the tunnel some city officials want. They will have to raise the extra money elsewhere.

The 912ers don't care. They fudge the details. They ignore the possibility the viaduct's catastrophic failure would have major economic repercussions statewide. The resulting congestion would stymie industry and stall goods headed for the Port of Seattle.

Don't let them fool you as they try to morph the state Department of Transportation, which has been bringing in nickel-tax projects on time and under budget, with everything that is wrong with Sound Transit and the Seattle Monorail Project.
We like it when columnists call out the anti-tax zealots on their propogandic, cynical nonsense.

This column delivers another well deserved smack to Carlson, Wilbur, Bader, and Co.

Riley also points out:
But the most damaging fudging is how 912 supporters obscure the truth of how interconnected the state transportation system is and how much taxpayers in the state's populous Puget Sound have been subsidizing transportation elsewhere.
Indeed. As I noted this morning: we've been showering them with a fountain of state money for years and they aren't even grateful. Many of them seem to think they're being ripped off, but they're really being subsidized.

Not all Eastern Washingtonians are stupid, though. There will be many who vote against Initiative 912. The question is how many east of the Cascades will see the light and reject gutting 274 public safety and congestion relief projects.

I was particularly amused by one conservative's feeble online response to Riley:
MS. RILEY, IT'S TIME YOU - AND THOSE THAT THINK LIKE YOU - TO START SUPPORTING THE DRIVE TO MAKE EASTERN WASHINGTON IT'S OWN STATE. SINCE YOUR CROWD SEEMS TO THINK THE REST OF THE STATE LEECHES OFF SEATTLE (NOT TO MENTION TRYING USE I-912 TO KILL COMMUTERS WHO TRAVEL THE ROADS AND BRIDGES OF PUGET SOUND), THIS SHOULD BE A NO-BRAINER... AS BLOGGER SAGEBRUSH RECOMMENDS, PUGET SOUND SHOULD PART WAYS WITH REST OF THE STATE, LINK UP WITH B.C., AND CREATE THE TRANSPORTATION UTOPIA OF YOUR DREAMS...
So what you're saying is, you really have no answer for Kate Riley - all you have to say is that Eastern Washington should become its own state.

We think dividing the state is a silly idea that doesn't even merit serious consideration, but that's beside the point.

If Initiative 912 passes, state legislators will be confronted with the problem (again) of how to put back funding stripped out by an anti-tax initiative. And if they do manage to come up with a way to restore revenues, there will be limitations set on the revenues to keep them within the county they are raised.

Eastern Washington will suffer if that happens, but if a majority east of the mountains wants to vote yes on I-912, they'll just have to put up with the consequences. If they don't want the money, we'll keep it in the urban areas.

If Eastern Washington were to become its own state, it's doubtful it could succeed financially on its own. What kind of revenues would they collect over there to fund the operation of government?

Interstates like I-90 and I-83 would likely fall into disrepair because most Eastern Washingtonians would oppose paying taxes to keep them maintained and upgraded.

The transportation package passed by the Legislature benefits all of Washington State - not just Seattle and not just Puget Sound. It's a pity the anti-tax zealots can't see this. Or maybe they can, and they don't care - they think I-912 will be political payback for losing the gubernatorial election challenge.

Shooting yourself in the foot isn't considered revenge or payback by anyone with logic or sensibility, but anti-tax conservatives are not known for being people who are skilled at reasoning and sound decision making.

Business leaders understand the problem:
Washington's trade-dependent economy and challenging topography, which often increases highway construction costs, would warrant higher-than-average investment in transportation, [Washington Roundtable President Steve] Mullin said.

"We're not Iowa," he said. Mullin said employers need to get employees to work and their goods to market.

"It's pretty straightforward," he said.

But in addition, there's a "psychic impact" of underinvesting, he said.

"If we can't address problems as obvious as this one, it's hard to make the case that Washington can credibly argue to employers that we are going to be able to solve the other problems."
But again, the anti-taxers - in this case, Bret Bader - demonstrate they just don't know what they're talking about:
Initiative 912 sponsors say voters should repeal the new tax because state transportation priorities have not focused on congestion relief and are wasteful.

Washingtonians are paying too much in taxes at the pump, they say, and they are not getting enough value from those dollars.
Proponents still don't get it: the number one priority is PUBLIC SAFETY. Congestion relief is important, but comes in second.

As for wasteful, that claim has already been debunked: the state is completing transportation projects on time and under budget.
Initiative 912 spokesman Bret Bader said he doesn't trust DOT statistics.

He said even if the statistics are accurate, the important question is not how much money the department spends but rather how efficiently it is spent.
Well, of course Bret doesn't trust DOT statistics. He does, however, put great stock in rhetoric that he and his fellow cohorts pull out of their asses.

The Department of Transportation is spending money efficiently, Bret. Sorry if you can't understand that. The specifics are probably a little too complicated for your simplistic "evil government is always wasteful" thinking.
"What good is sending $2 billion to the city of Seattle as a blank check?" said Bader, referring to money that would be spent replacing the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

According to Bader: "The only way to make things better is to pass 912 and reform the Department of Transportation."
The Alaskan Way Viaduct money isn't a blank check. It's the state's contribution towards repairing one of the most vulnerable roadways in Washington.

Passing Initiative 912 will not reform the state Department of Transportation. The DOT doesn't need reform. It's the most heavily audited state agency there is. The DOT needs more money so it can better serve the citizens of Washington State.

As for those who consider voting yes on 912 a way to get payback for the gubernatorial election, the Governor's office says:
"It's unfortunate that some people want to play politics with Washington's economy and safety. For Chris Gregoire, this transportation package is not a political issue -- it's the key to sustaining and growing our economy, and it's vital to safety of all of Washington state," [spokeswoman Carol] Andrews said.
We agree. This shouldn't be a partisan issue. This package had bipartisan support in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the state Republican Party has decided to foolishly endorse I-912.

Proponents of Initiative 912 excel at the politics of division - and not just figurately. That talk about dividing the state? They really mean it. They actually think they'll be better off without the urban areas.

It's time people stopped listening to them, because they really don't know what they're talking about.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Help Us Avoid THIS - Vote NO on Initiative 912 (October 6th)

Help Fight Initiative 912: Donate to Washington Defense

As you should know by now, every week, we'll post a picture or illustration here reminding you of the consequences of passing Initiative 912. Here's this Thursday's Disaster Picture of the Week.

Remember: If we roll back funds to replace critical structures like the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the SR 520 bridge, then we put ourselves at risk for a disaster in which there will be death and destruction.

What you're looking at is a picture of the Oakland Bay Bridge collapse in the 1989 earthquake. A section of the bridge caved in, causing major damage and resulting in the structure's closure.

Would YOU like to be the one in that car? Do YOU want to be on the viaduct, the floating bridge, or another critical structure when an earthquake strikes?

People will be killed if these structures collapse. Our economy will be crippled. We can't continue to put lives at risk.

Remember the 2001 Nisqually quake? We got lucky four years ago. Really lucky. That earthquake was a huge wake up call telling us we need to get ready for a disaster or we'll suffer a fate similiar to what New Orleans has suffered.

Put Public Safety First. Vote NO on Initiative 912.

FIGHT INITIATIVE 912

I've had enough.

I've had enough of the anti-tax rhetoric, the trashing of state government, the bashing of Governor Christine Gregoire, the jeering at state lawmakers, and the whining about the lack of accountability in government - which is a myth.

I'm sick of people like John Carlson and Kirby Wilbur pontificating about a "defective" transportation package they don't even understand.

I'm fed up with anti-tax zealots in Eastern Washington who blather on and on about how all the money is going to Seattle, or to I-5. We've been propping these discontented people up for years with a gushing fountain of state money and they aren't even grateful.

I'm disgusted at the greedy, self-centered attitude that proponents of I-912 exhibit. They'd rather have an extra latte every month than safe roadways and bridges to drive on, secured with guardrails and medians.

I am outraged that they think tax cuts are more important than human lives. I am appalled that they think the Alaskan Way Viaduct can just be repaired for a few million dollars. They want to do everything on the cheap. If these kind of people had been running the state back in the middle of the last century, projects like the viaduct and the floating bridge would have never even happened.

I am offended that these anti-tax zealots will work so hard to try and undo the gas tax, but don't seem to complain that oil companies are making huge profits off the high cost of gasoline. They'd rather shut off government spending on transportation, which directly benefits all Washingtonians, then crack down on the oil barons running companies like ExxonMobil and ChevronTexaco.

I am TIRED of their misinformation. Their lies. Their misleading and deceitful propoganda. Their unjustified attacks. Their attempts to paint us as hysterics. The double standard is incredible.

I have had it!

I am angry that, year after year, these government-haters continue to swindle voters into voting their pocketbook instead of their hearts and minds. I will do everything in my power to defeat Initiative 912.

I will fight back with the truth. I will appeal to my fellow citizens to use logic. I will lay the situation out plainly. I will explain the consequences. I will point to the disaster on the Gulf Coast and other disasters, showing what can happen to a society that ignores investing in solid infrastructure.

And I'm not alone.

I got involved in politics over three years ago because I couldn't stand not doing anything to fight the anti-tax initiatives any more. When I first became involved, I knew no one. But that has changed.

I know a lot of people now. A lot of good people, who share the same sentiments I do. People who, like myself, genuinely believe in a better future and better government. A better society.

Many people I've met - including people who were friends of mine before I became involved politically - are now part of NPI. And I know each and every one of them will join me in doing all they can to defeat Initiative 912.

We aim to defeat this persistent attitude of cynicism towards government that conservatives do their best to spread. We will roll it back.

We're redoubling - no wait, make that requadrupling - our effort to see Initiative 912 come crashing down in flames.

Working with hundreds and even thousands of other concerned volunteers across Washington State, we will connect with as many voters as we can.

It's time to fight Initiative 912.

Join us. Here's one simple thing you can do: add a green button to your blog or website and link to Washington Defense.



Visitors to Washington Defense can donate money to help the grassroots effort, sign up to volunteer directly, download and print materials, and review crucial information, including the list of projects that would be gutted.

Join us. Make a commitment to fight Initiative 912. All it takes to get started is that simple green button. If you care about the future of Washington State, take action.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Republicans want to open up Puget Sound to supertankers

P-I columnist Joel Connelly writes this morning:
Without first informing this state's lawmakers, and with no hearing or impact study, a bill that opens Puget Sound to become an oil superport is set to get rammed through the U.S. House of Representatives.

Hurricane Katrina is being deployed as a political tidal surge by Republican leaders. They aim to flatten the bulwark of environmental legislation that protects our inland waters and other sensitive coastal regions.

A few words, hidden in paragraph 32, section 110 of an oil refinery bill sponsored by Rep. Joe Barton, R-Texas -- the industry satrap who is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee -- would roll back a 28-year-old ban that has kept supertankers off the Sound.

The ban is the famous Magnuson Amendment, which effectively limited to 125,000 dead weight tons the tankers headed for refineries at Anacortes and Cherry Point near Ferndale.
House Republicans will stop at nothing in their attempt to roll our most important environmental protection laws into the ground.

It's an outrage. But, as Connelly points out, it's time to act:
It's time for this state to cultivate -- quickly -- an image of menace toward this renewed threat.

How?

Environmental groups -- particularly the once-ruthless Sierra Club -- need to get focused. The Sound is our issue. Alliances with billionaire George Soros and down-on-luck labor unions can be put on hold.

Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., will hold forth in opposition. But he's in the minority party. What of our three GOP House members?

Rep. Cathy McMorris, R-Wash., is marked as a comer in both Washingtons. She's from Eastern Washington, but most voters live over here. McMorris won't help her party if she becomes an agent of Barton and House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo.

Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Wash., plays it cagey. Last week he voted against gutting the Endangered Species Act. Big deal, if the House lets oil companies have their way with Puget Sound.

And there's Rep. Doc Hastings, R-Wash., who sits on the House Rules Committee. Inslee and Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Wash., are going to ask the rules panel to allow debate on the Magnuson deletion.

It'll be a test: Is Doc our state's congressman, or Tom DeLay's doxy?

The last laugh may be on House GOP leaders. Any repeal of the Magnuson Amendment must go through the Senate.

That would set up Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell for the political role of a lifetime as defender and advocate of Puget Sound.
We must fight to stop the Magnuson Amendment from being repealed. But should it pass the House, Republicans will be handing Senator Maria Cantwell a giftwrapped opportunity to shine as an environmental defender.

Cantwell's record on the environment is excellent. There's a reason why she earned the first endorsement of the League of Conservation Voters for the 2006 election cycle. An opportunity to defend the Sound against supertankers?

If the Republicans give Cantwell the chance, she must seize it and make it a theme in her campaign.

We'd bet House Republicans will find a way to pass the legislation killing the Magnuson Amendment. Senator Elizabeth Dole, NRSC chairwoman, might want to call up Rep. Barton and his cohorts and give them a dressing down. Unless she wants to allow these clowns to hand Cantwell a weapon she can make great use of in her Senate race.

We dare the House Republicans to try. We'll fight you every step of the way. If the legislation passes the House, we carry our fight on to the Senate - and we'll look for Cantwell to lead the opposition there.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Rossi's still a coward, Chris Vance stumbles around on Initiative 912

Yesterday, Kate Riley of the Seattle Times wrote a fine column titled, "I-912's politics of division". More on that column in a later post today.

The P-I today has a new article out by Olympia correspondent Chris McGann: "I-912 seen as more than vote on gas tax". The article includes some interesting quotes from proponents of Initiative 912 - giving you clear hints of what they care about.

First, GOP consultant and I-912 spinmeister Brett Bader:
"I really want folks to understand how unhappy citizens are with transportation planning in the state," I-912 spokesman Brett Bader said.

The initiative surged onto the Nov. 8 ballot when volunteers gathered more than 420,000 signatures -- nearly double the required amount. Initiative backers were helped by support from conservative talk-radio hosts.
No, Brett. What you want is to axe funding for public safety improvements in the state of Washington - and damn the consequences. If you've been following recent news coverage, you might have observed how well the state Department of Transportation is doing.

This initiative isn't about fixing transportation planning. It's about killing 274 transportation projects that are sorely needed. It's fueled by plain old anti-tax zealotry, not a desire to do better.

So Brett, you claim you're unhappy with our transportation planning. Where is your alternative? Oh, that's right, you don't have one. And you couldn't care less, either. This is just talk to make voters think the Legislature did a poor job. In fact, it did a splendid job of designing the 2005 transportation package.

On to Chris Vance:
"What's driving this campaign is a lot broader than just transportation policy," state Republican Party Chairman Chris Vance said. "It's an anger about the arrogant, out-of-control culture of the Democratic aristocracy that runs the state of Washington. People are just sick of it."

According to Vance, the Democrats have the same answer for every problem: "higher taxes and more spending.

"They don't care what the people of this state say or do," Vance said. "The people voted for Initiative 601 (which limits government spending) -- they threw it out. The people voted against Referendum 51 (a 2002 ballot measure calling for a 9-cent-per- gallon gas tax increase) -- they are passing gas taxes, anyway. The people elected Dino Rossi, and somehow Christine Gregoire ends up as governor. That's what their belief is."
Where to begin?

OK, let's start here: The "arrogant, out-of-control culture" Vance is talking about certainly applies to the Republican aristocracy that runs the federal government. And people are certainly sick of that - Bush's approval ratings are in the toilet.

But when it comes to Washington state, Vance has it all wrong. Democrats just retook the state Senate in November and only held on to the Governor's office after a lengthy legal battle in which Vance, Rossi & Co. were soundly beaten. There is no Democratic aristocracy in Washington State.

Evidence? You want evidence? How about the 18 state legislators - Republican state legislators - who voted FOR the 2005 transportation package? Including Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner (who represents NPI's home district).

So is Vance trying to tell us that 18 of the Republicans in the state Legislature are part of the "Democratic aristocracy"? How convenient that he forgot about them. How interesting Vance forgot that the package was passed on a bipartisan vote.

Wait a second...he did remember:
"Roughly one-third of the Republican legislators in Olympia voted for this tax package," he said. "Some of our biggest supporters in the business community are also supporters of this tax package. Obviously, that is something of a political problem."
Gee...ya think? But at least we know which side Chris Vance is on...when he has to choose, Vance goes with his dear old conservative base.

Then Vance brings up Initiative 601, which state voters barely passed over a decade ago. And he brings up Referendum 51, which voters defeated three years ago.

Memo to Chris: Those votes are way in the past. We don't shape our current policy based on how voters voted three years ago - let alone twelve!

Finally, Vance makes a snide remark about Dino Rossi was the legitimately elected governor, and "somehow" Christine Gregoire ended up winning ahead. Enough of the sour grapes. You lost. You need to get it over it.

Your sham lawsuit was kicked out of court - "dismissed with prejudice". Christine Gregoire is the legitimately elected governor of Washington State. End of story.

There's also a few quotes in there from Henrik Juve Junior. The 80-year old Junior echoed Vance's comments about the gubernatorial election. These guys never quit, do they? Well, Washington is sick of their public whining. As I said - end of story.

Now on to - well - one of our own:
David Goldstein, founder of the liberal blog horsesass.org, said a big part of the grass-roots support for Initiative 912 was anger about the gubernatorial vote.

"They really sold it from Day One as getting back at Queen Christine," he said. "It was a great move in terms of keeping their ratings going, because they moved from one big issue and used that to create another."

Goldstein said the issues have snowballed.

He said polls show if Rossi, who as a state senator voted for a nickel-per-gallon gas tax in 2003, would come out in support of the gas tax, I-912 would fail.

For weeks, Goldstein has been calling for Rossi to take a position. Rossi's spokeswoman, Mary Lane, said Goldstein shouldn't hold his breath.

"This is Christine Gregoire's baby," she said. "It's her job to defend it."

Lane said Rossi is "taking a well-deserved break from politics."
To which David Goldstein offers this comment:
Yeah… that’s right… if you’re going to take a break from politics, the first thing you need to get yourself...is a spokesperson.

Gimme a break. We all know Rossi’s running for governor in 2008, and when his spokesperson smugly refers to the controversy surrounding I-912 as “Christine Gregoire’s baby,” what she’s telling us is that her boss cares more about politics than policies.
Initiative 912 proponents have sure been doing a lot of whining, complaining, and pontificating. But they have no alternative, no solution, no concern for the consequences, and no apparent grasp of reality.

Rossi is still a coward. Chris Vance is still falling over himself in his attempt to hurl insults at Democrats while having to acknowledge his own coalition is split over this issue.

Anything else new lately?

Monday, October 03, 2005

Allan Prell speaks to BlatherWatch

A must read post from BlatherWatch:
I want to stay on the radio. I want to stay on the radio in Seattle. I feel more at home here after less than one year than 30 years on the East Coast.. Never have I enjoyed working with a group of folks as much as those at 710 KIRO, especially in the programming, news, and production departments. There is no producer better than Ann Wog. And the program director who fired me, I consider to be one of my best friends.

On September 21, one day after my birthday, I was called into the program director's office and told, "We're pulling the plug on the Allan Prell Show." I was shocked, but not surprised. After all this is radio, where going one day without being fired is a day filled with sunshine. Three reasons were sighted for this precipitous action.
Allan Prell writes a lengthy letter explaining how his show got canceled and what his future plans are.

Read thw whole thing.

Delay indicted again!

Party time:
A Texas grand jury indicted Rep. Tom DeLay on a new charge of money laundering Monday, less than a week after another grand jury leveled a conspiracy charge that forced DeLay to temporarily step down as House majority leader.

Both indictments accuse DeLay and two political associates of conspiring to get around a state ban on corporate campaign contributions by funneling the money through a political action committee to the Republican National Committee in Washington.

The RNC then sent back like amounts to distribute to Texas candidates in 2002, the indictment alleges.
What a nice surprise.

It's time to expose the ugly Republican monster for what it is: a creature that reeks of corruption and illicit political activities.

Bush announces replacement for O'Connor

The newest SCOTUS nominee:
President Bush nominated White House counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court on Monday, turning to a lawyer who has never been a judge to replace Sandra Day O'Connor and help reshape the nation's judiciary.

"She has devoted her life to the rule of law and the cause of justice," Bush said as his first Supreme Court pick, Chief Justice John Roberts, took the bench for the first time just a few blocks from the White House.

[...]

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid was complimentary, issuing a statement that said he likes Miers and adding "the Supreme Court would benefit from the addition of a justice who has real experience as a practicing lawyer."

At the same time, he said he looked forward to the "process which will help the American people learn more about Harriet Miers, and help the Senate determine whether she deserves a lifetime seat on the Supreme Court."

Reid had personally recommended that Bush consider Miers for nomination, according to several sources familiar with the president's consultations with individual senators. Of equal importance as the White House maps its confirmation campaign is that the Nevada Democrat had warned Bush that the selection of any of several other contenders could trigger a bruising partisan struggle.
So, something of a moderate. This is a huge surprise:
Mier contributed money to Al Gore and the DNC back in the late 80s. That may mean she's just like 8 billion other formerly Democratic southerners. But if Bush's base wants to get all riled up about it, that's good too
She's also 60 years old. As Kos says, it's time to sit back and watch the religious right get all riled up. They must be in a state of shock right now.

Sunday, October 02, 2005

State DOT is doing a good job

The Seattle Times has an important article in today's paper entitled, "How the state spent our gas taxes". The article opens in this way:

In her decade in the Legislature, Rep. Joyce Mulliken, R-Ephrata, had never voted for a tax increase.

She rejected increasing taxes on alcohol this year. She said no to the tax that raised cigarettes 60 cents a pack. She voted against the 2003 nickel-a-gallon gas tax that raised $4.1 billion for transportation.

But last spring she did an extraordinary thing: She said yes when asked to raise the gas tax another 9.5 cents for roads throughout the state.

"This is the first time I've voted for any tax increase of any nature since 1994, when I first took office," Mulliken said.
What prompted Mulliken, a Republican who had never voted for a tax increase before, to take the position she did?
What persuaded her, Mulliken said, was the state's performance with the money raised from the nickel tax that lawmakers approved two years ago, despite her opposition. It paid for a westbound truck lane on Interstate 90 in her district, and the project came in $300,000 under budget and 30 days ahead of schedule.

"I said to the regional manager, 'If the public puts on enough pressure you can come in under budget and early,' " she said.
Proponents of Initiative 912 will tell you that the revenues from the 2005 transportation package will be poured down a black hole, never to be seen again.

They claim the state isn't accountable. They claim the money won't be wisely spent.

They are wrong:
State DOT officials say such criticisms are unfair.

"The state has projects all over the state going well and being delivered on time, yet the residents who don't believe government can do anything is a drumbeat of cynicism," said Transportation Secretary Doug MacDonald.

A review of the 13 nickel-tax projects completed by last June found that six came in under budget and eight ahead of schedule. Only one was over budget, another I-90 truck lane project, and one was finished late, a variable-message sign on Highway 395 in Kennewick.

In all, the nickel tax will pay for 225 projects across the state over the next decade.

Looking more broadly, the department has completed 349 construction projects funded by its 2003-05 budget. The work was expected to cost $123 million but came in at $109 million, 11 percent under budget.
The state DOT has been doing a good job. We can trust them to spend our tax dollars wisely. But this shouldn't even be an issue. The real issue is public safety. If we don't fix our broken infrastructure, we will pay the price when a disaster strikes.

That's what proponents of Initiative 912 don't want to talk about. They prefer to cynically focus on the price of gasoline and ignore the consequences of neglecting our transportation system.

And ironically, for all proponents' talk about accountability:
The 9.5-cent gas tax includes $4 million for the auditor to conduct performance audits of the Department of Transportation. If I-912 passes, that money disappears.
Rep. Toby Nixon, who is supposed to be one of two state representatives for NPI's home legislative district, was also interviewed for this article:
Nixon said voters don't distinguish between state highway projects and other transportation spending. Many voters support I-912 because they don't like Sound Transit's $2.4 billion light-rail project or the ongoing drama over the proposed Seattle monorail, he said.

"In the people's mind it's all transportation," Nixon said. "It doesn't matter if it's not a state project. Too much is being wasted and it's not benefiting anyone."

Voters are mad that Seattle wants to spend $4 billion to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct with a tunnel, Nixon said, when it could be repaired for just $1 billion. The state considered, but rejected, repairing the viaduct because experts said the structure is brittle and deteriorating and the soil beneath it is unstable.

Nixon also said the plan to replace the Highway 520 floating bridge with no extra traffic capacity except express lanes won't help with congestion.

"The main need for traffic congestion in my district is the Novelty Hill Road [between Redmond and Carnation], which isn't funded," he said. "Add this to all of the other things people have to complain about and it's no wonder that I-912 will pass overwhelmingly."
What is Toby Nixon's problem? He's got it all confused.

Only people in Seattle are paying for the Central Link light rail line. There sems to be a misconceived notion that everyone in Washington is paying for it. That's not true. Only residents of Sound Transit's North and South King County taxing areas are paying for Link. (See a map of Sound Transit's zones).

The Seattle monorail is the same situation. Nobody else is paying for it.

It's interesting that Nixon mentioned both of those projects - neither is in his district. And his constituents are not paying for either project.

I-912 has nothing to do with either the monorail or Sound Transit's light rail project. In fact, it's people like Toby Nixon that try to establish those false connections. He's encouraging this kind of thinking.

Nixon is seriously deluding himself if he thinks the Alaskan Way Viaduct can be repaired. Note to Nixon and Brett Bader: the Alaskan Way Viaduct is built on an unstable foundation. It can't be repaired.

Why can't Nixon, Bader, et. al just listen to the experts:
Why can’t the viaduct and seawall just be repaired?
The Alaskan Way Viaduct and Seawall are past their design life and repairs can no longer extend their lives. The viaduct and seawall do not meet today’s seismic standards and were also damaged in the 2001 Nisqually Earthquake. Ongoing inspections have revealed the viaduct has moved and settled, and the seawall’s timber relieving platform has been eaten away by tiny marine crustaceans, called gribbles. Over $5 million has been spent so far on repairs to the viaduct and seawall. Repair costs will be ongoing, continue to escalate, and at some point, repairs will no longer be enough to keep the viaduct and seawall safe for the public.
And we have basically arrived at that point. If a major earthquake strikes, the Alaskan Way Viaduct will pancake, killing people and destroying a lot of property.

Toby Nixon isn't a transportation expert. He doesn't seem to know what he's talking about and he certainly doesn't seem to care about public safety. He just gripes about a problem with congestion in his district.

We have to shed the "it's all about me" self-serving attitude if we want to move forward. The emphasis needs to be on public safety. And it is. That's a good thing.

The state DOT is doing a good job. It is managing projects well and it has set its focus on the right priorities. Voters can have confidence that the state will invest the revenues from the 2005 transportation package wisely.

Vote NO on Initiative 912. Take a stand for safer roadways.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Working hard

Haven't had a lot of time to blog recently because we're so busy working on a number of different projects.

What's in the works?

First, Pacific Northwest Portal will soon be getting another update - it's about time. This update will be the most substantial package of changes since the launch of "True Blue" last July 20th. It won't be a massive overhaul but it will be important - important enough to have its own codename.

The "Marine Green" Update, or Version 3.5, should be ready within the next couple of weeks or so, certainly by the end of October, but probably before then! We'll let you know more as the launch date approaches.

Second, NPI is working on its endorsements for the 2005 general election, which we will begin releasing soon. Endorsements for ballot measures will be released first, followed by endorsements for candidates in local and state races.

Third, we're devoting significant resources to fighting Initiative 912 and also Initiative 900. You can learn more about those efforts by clicking on the respective links. Our big priority, however, is on Initiative 912. There's only about a month left until election day, and there's a lot to be done.