NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Former Governor John Hickenlooper ends his stalled presidential campaign

On August 14th, FiveThirtyEight’s weekly politics chat discussed the likelihood of struggling Democratic presidential candidates dropping out of the race in the near future. Colorado’s John Hickenlooper, the former governor of the Centennial State, was the first name to be brought up (by elections analyst Geoffrey Skelley).

John Hickenlooper

John Hickenlooper’s campaign for president has officially ended (Photo: Gage Skidmore, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Less than twenty four hours later, the prediction came true; Hickenlooper declared via tweet that he was ending his campaign for president.

Hickenlooper’s withdrawal is hardly a surprise.

At the start of July, stories started coming out of his campaign was seriously struggling: he had lost key staff members (including his campaign manager, communications director, digital director and finance director); fundraising was so lackluster that the campaign risked running out of cash entirely by the end of August; his staff were practically begging him to consider other options.

The Hickenlooper campaign’s internal struggles were only a sign of his overall efforts; he was getting nowhere in his bid for the White House. Hickenlooper was unlikely to even make it into the third round of Democratic debates – he only qualified in one or four required polls, and he only had 13,000 individual donors (10% of the number required to get to the stage in September).

Aside from his troubled organization, Hickenlooper was uninspiring as a candidate. He positioned himself as a “pragmatic” alternative to progressive candidates like Senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, but in the July debate against those two he seemed unprepared, tripping over his words, and at one point – seeming to lack a plan on immigration – asked, “How hard can it be?”

Off the debate stage, he didn’t endear himself to Democratic activists.

In May, he earned the ire of progressives by comparing the leftward turn in American politics to, “the discredited ideas of Karl Marx and Josef Stalin.”

At the California Democratic convention in June, he returned to his old tactic of attacking socialism, but was booed by the crowd.

There were plenty of factors that nudged Hickenlooper out of the race, but there was also an enticing pull; he now has the chance to run for the Senate in Colorado.

Not only that, but he has a good chance of winning; one poll shows that he currently leads Republican incumbent Cory Gardner 51% to 38%. In 2020, every Senate seat will count for the Democrats, as the Party has only narrow margins to win a majority there, even if their candidate is elected to the White House.

Hickenlooper’s allies and supporters have been encouraging him to “drop out gracefully” from his quixotic presidential bid and run for Senate for months now, from both outside and within the campaign team. The first sign that he was considering such a move came a couple of weeks before his withdrawal, when a company linked to Hickenlooper registered the web domain, “HickForSenate.com”

John Hickenlooper will not be much of a loss to the Democratic presidential field. Aside from his own inadequacies as a candidate, there is just not enough space for a candidate like him in a field that includes Joe Biden, and in a party that is gravitating towards candidates who are truly representative of its increasingly younger, more ethnically diverse, and progressive base.

Thursday, August 15th, 2019

Georgia’s Stacey Abrams is (definitely) not running for President of the United States

One of the biggest storylines in Democratic politics since the 2018 midterm elections has concerned the future ambitions of Georgia state representative and gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams.

Representative Stacey Adams

Former Representative Stacey Adams, the Democratic Leader in the Georgia General Assembly, explains what needs to be done to turn states in the Deep South blue (educate, activate, and agitate!) at Netroots Nation 2014.

In 2018, Abrams barely lost the gubernatorial race to Republican Brian Kemp, in a race plagued by rampant voter suppression and discredited by the fact that – as Georgia’s sitting Secretary of State – Kemp was supervising the race he himself was running in. After defeat, Abrams began the organization Fair Fight Action, which sued the new governor over his handling of the elections.

At the beginning of this year, influential Democrats were determined to persuade Abrams to run in 2020 against Georgia’s Senator David Perdue.

These included presidential candidates (Senators Harris and Gillibrand were both reported to have encouraged Abrams to run), Chuck Schumer and others in the U.S. Senate’s Democratic leadership, and major donors to the Party including close supporters of her 2018 campaign.

In May, Abrams brushed aside suggestions of a Senate run, seemingly in favor of even bigger plans; she tweeted that a 2020 run for the White House was “definitely on the table,” and rejected the suggestion from the Biden campaign of a Vice Presidential position saying, “I don’t think you run for second place…if I’m going to enter a primary, then I’m going to enter a primary.”

Stacey Abrams in Seattle

Stacey Abrams listens to an audience question at her April 2019 Seattle Town Hall appearance (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

However, the speculation has at last been ended; Abrams will not be running for high office in 2020. She made the announcement on Tuesday in Las Vegas while addressing the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

In the speech, she laid out her plan to expand and re-brand Fair Fight Action into Fair Fight 2020. The initiative will expand from Georgia to 20 states in the Midwest and Southeast of the country, focusing on state-level voter protection. This is an issue close to Abrams’ heart; she lost the 2018 election by under 55,000 votes, which is almost precisely the number of new voter registrations that Brian Kemp delayed in the run-up to voting in one of many blatant acts of voter suppression.

Fair Fight 2020 will work with state political parties to correct inaccurate voter rolls, address shortages of voting machines and provisional ballots, and standardize procedures for counting absentee ballots.

The initiative also plans to set up state-by-state hotlines, so that communities can report election irregularities. The amount of investment the initiative is expected to put into these efforts could be as high as $5 million.

While her decision will see her increasingly lose the spotlight as the 2020 presidential primaries and general elections inevitably swallow up national news coverage, Abrams’ choice may indicate her real goal – a re-match with Brian Kemp for the Governor’s Mansion in 2022.

An organization like Fair Fight 2020 will keep Abrams in the spotlight regularly, give her a large pool of political experts to recruit from for future campaigns and, most importantly, will hopefully break down some of the egregious state laws that suppressed the vote in black and Democratic neighborhoods in 2018.

If Stacey Abrams is playing the long game and aiming at 2022, it will be much harder for Brian Kemp to rob her of her prize a second time.

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

Tim Eyman associate Mike Fagan eliminated in Top Two for Spokane City Council President

Longtime Tim Eyman associate Mike Fagan will be departing the Spokane City Council at the end of this year after failing to clinch a spot on the general election ballot for Spokane City Council President, early returns suggest.

As of the last count, there were 16,135 votes for Breean Beggs (35.84%), 13,785 votes for Cindy Wendle (30.62%), and 11,856 votes for Fagan (26.34%). Last place finisher Phillip Tyler has 3,067 votes, or 6.81%. Only the top two vote getters advance to the November runoff, so Fagan’s campaign is at an end.

Fagan, fifty-nine, occasionally appears alongside Tim Eyman at press conferences with his father, Jack. The Fagans have been associated with Eyman for nearly twenty years. Originally, they and Eyman were part of a quartet that also included Monte Benham of the Tri-Cities in the early days of Eyman’s initiative factory.

However, Eyman and the Fagans parted company with Benham in 2003; Benham objected to their plans to continue profiting from sponsoring initiatives.

This is Fagan’s second loss as a candidate for Spokane City Council.

He also came up short in his first campaign ten years ago, at the same time Eyman was trying to bring destructive Colorado-style expenditure limits to Washington State with Initiative 1033 (which failed). However, Fagan tried again two years later. His 2011 bid for District #1 was successful, and he secured reelection in 2015.

Despite having become a local elected official responsible for making crucial budgeting decisions, Fagan has remained a zealous proponent of gutting public services in Washington, putting him at odds with his Spokane City Council colleagues as well as municipal leaders around the state.

The last time a destructive tax-cutting Eyman measure (cosponsored by Fagan) appeared on the ballot, the Spokane City Council voted to oppose it, over Fagan’s objections. Fagan is currently the cosponsor of Tim Eyman’s I-976, which would rescind the vehicle fee that Spokane collects to fund basic street maintenance.

Beggs is a fellow Spokane City Councilmember who represents an adjoining district, District #2. Beggs is in the middle of a term, so if he doesn’t win in November, he would remain on the council. Fagan’s term expires at the end of this year, so as mentioned, he will be off the Council in a few months.

Beggs is a longtime advocate for the disadvantaged.

“For more than twenty years he has effectively presented causes and cases to juries, appellate judges, arbitrators, mediators, community groups and the media,” his biography states. “Highlights include substantial police reform measures in Spokane, Washington, in connection with the death of a mentally disabled janitor; substantial national reform on oil pipeline safety in connection with the death of three children in the Olympic Pipeline Explosion, and multiple jail reform and LFO issues in Spokane County in connection with class action lawsuits.”

Former bank manager Cindy Wendle looks like Beggs’ opponent. Wendle edged out Fagan despite not having run for office before. She has proved to be adept at fundraising. She has the endorsement of outgoing Mayor David Condon and Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich, both conservative Republicans.

“For three years she helped lead the efforts of Washington Trust Bank to open branches in Pullman, Moscow, and Lewiston,” Wendle’s campaign biography states.

“In 2015, Cindy was given the opportunity to manage the Spokane Main branch at Washington Trust Bank headquarters. […] Since May of 2018, she has assisted with property management issues and been a part of lease negotiations with their national and local business tenants. Her goals are to provide a first-class property to help businesses achieve their goals, and market Spokane to out of area retailers so they will open stores here and help invest in our economy.”

“In the months leading up to the [Top Two election], Wendle substantially outspent Beggs, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin,” noted the Spokesman-Review’s Kip Hill and Adam Hanks in a report last week. “In addition to the $57,591 Wendle’s campaign spent on the race directly, she was the beneficiary of $80,679 in independent expenditures made by political action committees in support of her candidacy. Beggs spent $33,633 on the race, Fagan $18,665, and Tyler $6,098.”

Current Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart is a candidate for Mayor. He’s placing second in the Top Two, behind ex-television anchor Nadine Woodward.

Seven candidates are vying for Fagan’s current council position. The leaders are Tim Benn (with 25.99% of the vote) and Michael Cathcart (with 23.3%). They appear set to advance. Doug Salter, Jerrall Haynes, Naghmana Sherazi, Krys Brown, and Louis Lefebvre will not be joining them on the November ballot.

Fagan’s successor is pretty much guaranteed to be someone with a similar far right wing political outlook, as both Benn and Cathcart are Republicans.

Benn has the support of hardcore militant extremist Matt Shea, while Cathcart is an associate of U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris Rodgers.

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

King County Parks For All levy will pass; park improvements to continue over next six years

We all benefit from our public parks and trails in Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. County, whether that’s by hiking in the Cascade foothills, bringing our kids to play sports at public ballfields, or cycling on our many public trails.

King County manages two hundred parks, one hundred and seventy-five miles of trail, and 28,000 acres of open space. While a county with many urban residents, King County must manage both green spaces within urban growth boundaries and larger, rural parks in the eastern areas of the county.

Thanks to King County voters, local parks, trails, and open spaces will continue to be fully maintained and upgraded during 2020-2025.

As of the end of the day Wednesday, Proposition 1 (the Parks, Recreation, Trails, and Open Spaces Levy) is passing with 68.32% of the vote.

Around two-thirds of the anticipated votes expected to be cast have been tallied.

This levy will raise $810 million over its six years, or an average of $135 million per year. This represents a significant boost to parks funding compared to the expiring 2014-19 levy, which generated around $66 million per year.

Redmond's Marymoor Park

Redmond’s Marymoor Park, seen from the air (Yes for King County Parks campaign)

Of that $810 million, 39% will be used to maintain parks and trails; 24% used to make open spaces more equitable through community and city partnerships as well as grants; and 20% used to improve regional trails, such as the recently-launched Eastside Rail Corridor (Eastrail) project.

Remaining funds will be used to acquire new space to meet expanding public recreation demand. Quite a lot of benefit for a levy with a modest cost!

There are specific projects for which funding from this levy has been earmarked. The East Lake Sammamish Trail, Green River Trail, Interurban South, and Burke-Gilman trails will all receive service improvements.

Parking will be improved at three popular trailheads: Rattlesnake Mountain (North Bend), Little Lake (Enumclaw), and the Island Center Forest (Vashon Island).

Successful endangered species conservation and outreach to under-served communities programs at the Woodland Park Zoo will receive funding from this measure, as will improvements at the Seattle Aquarium’s Ocean Pavilion.

Eight percent of levy revenue will be granted to cities and towns to use for city-managed public spaces as well.

In King County, the maintenance and improvement of these critical public services is funded by ballot propositions every six years.

With the current levy expiring at the end of 2019, the Metropolitan King County Council passed Ordinance 18890 this April, authorizing voters to decide on these improvements this August. Sponsors of the ordinance were Councilmembers Balducci, von Reichbauer, Kohl-Welles, McDermott, and Dembowski.

These types of parks levies were first put to voters in 2003; you can see information about past levies here.

Kudos to King County voters for approving a progressive parks measure that will keep our citizens healthy and happy for years to come!

Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

Big East Link milestone: Sound Transit’s light rail bridge over I-405 is structurally complete

Perceptive drivers stuck in gridlock on I-405 in Bellevue have probably noticed a new bridge being built above the interstate over the past year or so. What they may not know is that in just a few short years, trains will be zooming across that bridge as they carry passengers to and from downtown Bellevue.

Construction of East Link, Sound Transit’s big light rail extension that will connect Mercer Island, Bellevue, and Overlake with Downtown Seattle in 2023 and Redmond in 2024, is more than 55% complete.

This includes significant portions through Downtown Bellevue.

East Link will have three stations near the Bellevue downtown core:

  • East Main: south of Main Street on 112th Ave SE;
  • Bellevue Downtown: just east of the Bellevue Transit Center and south of the Meydenbauer Center; and
  • Wilburton: east of I-405, at the intersection of NE 8th St and 118th Ave NE.

To get light rail moving through Bellevue’s dense central business district with minimum surface-level disruption, Sound Transit contractors have dug a tunnel underneath the city, connecting East Main and Bellevue Downtown stations.

Bellevue Downtown north light rail tunnel portals

The Downtown Bellevue light rail north tunnel portals, seen from the I-405 light rail bridge (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

This is a sequentially excavated tunnel, where opposite-direction tracks run right next to each other – unlike the light rail tunnels in Seattle, where two separate tunnels carry trains in between stations on the underground alignments.

The big advantage of the approach utilized in Bellevue is a reduction in cost and risk: why dig two tunnels when you could dig just one? According to Sound Transit engineers, many lessons were learned from previous tunnel projects, including the infamous problems with Bertha, which dug the State Route 99 tunnel.

Improvements to technology mean that larger tunnels carrying two tracks can be dug reliably. In fact, the Bellevue tunnel was successfully excavated five months ahead of schedule – fantastic news for the on-time completion of East Link and a great factoid to share with friends and family who might not support NO on I-976 concerned about delays on big transit projects!

The Bellevue Downtown Link station is located right next to the existing transit center, connecting well to existing and future transit service. This includes the RapidRide B Line to Redmond, the I-405 Bus Rapid Transit corridor (future), as well as existing King County Metro and Sound Transit service. While touring the work site, NPI staff saw buses making frequent trips from the transit center – including this double-tall Route 535 bus headed to Lynnwood!

Northbound Sound Transit 535 Express

A double tall Sound Transit 535 Express bus leaves downtown Bellevue (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

East of Bellevue Downtown station, East Link rises above I-405 on a specially-constructed bridge sixty feet above mainline expressway traffic. Construction started with metal falsework (akin to an exoskeleton) going up above the interstate in early 2018 (link, page 19). Now, the bridge is complete, stretching from the tunnel portal to Wilburton station before descending to the ground.

The bridge is eight hundred and ten feet long, with a a three hundred and fifty foot span across I-405. It was cast-in-place, meaning that concrete was poured and solidified on the construction site, unlike the bridge spanning I-90 in south Bellevue, which is a balanced cantilever bridge.

The concrete bridge has been post-tensioned, making it able to withstand a “2,500 year event” – meaning that even in the case of rare natural disasters, light rail infrastructure will remain safe and usable.

The main span of the bridge is hollow, with fourteen-inch thick walls and ten-to-sixteen-inch thick horizontal slabs. Due to the cast-in-place nature of the structure, it was hand-built entirely by workers on-site, and all materials were U.S.-sourced.

View of Bellevue from I-405 East Link alignment

A view of downtown Bellevue from the new East Link light rail alignment, which will carry Blue Line trains across I-405 to and from the city center (Photo: Andrew Villeneuve/Northwest Progressive Institute)

Metal support structures were used to support the entire bridge as the deck and pillars were being filled out. Now that the bridge has been structurally completed, it is time for the external metal that currently stretches between the concrete bridge and active lanes of interstate traffic to be removed.

Moving to this phase of construction means that I-405 through Bellevue will have to be closed during parts of the next two weekends.

Southbound ramps will be closed the night of Friday, August 9th through Saturday, August 10. Southbound mainline traffic will then be closed from Sunday, August 11th at midnight until just before the morning commute on Monday, August 12th. Northbound ramps will be closed the night of Friday, August 16th through Saturday, August 17th. Likewise, northbound mainline lanes will be closed early Sunday morning until the morning commute on August 19th.

“During the weekend closures, crews will use an electric winch to remove and lower the heavy falsework to the road surface, where it will be completely disassembled and removed,” Sound Transit explained in an advisory about the work.

“Without the weekend directional closures, this complex process would have taken more than twenty weeks of weeknight work to complete,” the agency added.

Visit Bellevue’s city government website for detour information and Sound Transit’s website for more information on the closures.

Despite the closures, light rail will be coming to the Eastside in four short years. Once here, it will be here to stay, with light rail running every six minutes connecting Redmond and Bellevue to Seattle, Northgate, and Seatac for decades, even centuries, to come. It will revolutionize travel on the Eastside.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Sam Cho, Grant Degginger, Fred Felleman, Garth Jacobson advance in Seattle Port races

A few weeks ago, a total of ten candidates filed to run for two positions on the Seattle Port Commission that must be filled this year. Of those ten, just four candidates will advance onwards to the November general election, which is really a runoff under the zany Top Two system that Washington State uses.

In initial returns, King County voters were backing Sam Cho and Grant Degginger for Position #2, along with Fred Felleman and and Garth Jacobson for Position #5. (Despite its name, the Port of Seattle’s jurisdiction extends far beyond the borders of the City of Seattle; its boundaries mirror that of King County.)

Incumbent Felleman, who is coming off a successful first term, looks like a lock for reelection. He has 69.85% of the early vote and is enthusiastically backed by the labor movement and the environmental community.

Felleman’s two challengers have just 30% of the remaining vote. Garth Jacobson attracted 21.66% support and will face Felleman in November. Challenger Jordan Lemmon’s campaign is over. Lemmon is receiving just 7.69% of the vote.

For Position #2, which is an open seat created by the departure of incumbent Courtney Gregoire (and once held by NPI’s Gael Tarleton), voters were favoring Sam Cho and Grant Degginger over five other candidates: Pretti Shridhar, Kelly Charlton, NPI alum Dominic Barrera, Nina Martinez, and Ali Scego.

Cho is an entrepreneur and former analyst for the United States Department of State who also spent time working for the federal General Services Administration and State Senator Bob Hasegawa. His campaign was supported by the King County Labor Council, King County Democrats, and the ILWU (which represents maritime workers) as well as Hasegawa and State Senator Joe Nguyen.

Cho’s campaign made effective use of direct mail to connect with voters, sending out a well timed piece emphasizing his credentials and vision for the Port.

Cho currently has a plurality of the vote (28.27%), with 69,673 votes cast in support of his candidacy so far. He appears positioned to move on.

In second place is former Bellevue City Councilmember Grant Degginger, who has 25.97% of the vote (64,017 votes). Degginger is a well known figure on the Eastside, owing to his service on the governing body of King County’s second largest city. He served a stint as Chair of the Public Disclosure Commission following his retirement from the Bellevue City Council.

Now he’s looking to get back into politics — this time as a port commissioner.

Degginger says his priorities are continued investment in cleaner fuels, conversion of port vehicles and truck fleets, reducing the wait times in the security lines at SeaTac International Airport, and open, transparent, and accountable Port operations, particularly with respect to the capital projects the Port has planned.

Current third place finisher Preeti Shridhar — who has extensive experience working with cities in King County on environmental protection initiatives — appears to have fallen short of making the November runoff.

Shridhar was supported in her campaign by The Urbanist, Washington Conservation Voters, OneAmerica, State Senator Manka Dhingra, State Representative My-Linh Thai, and NPI’s Gael Tarleton.

Shridhar has 17.19% of the vote (42,377 votes) and is 21,640 votes behind Degginger. That’s a deficit that will be difficult to overcome in late ballots.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Alex Ybarra well positioned to retain Matt Manweller’s old seat for the Republican Party

Only two candidates filed to run in this year’s special election for State Representative Position #2 in Washington’s 13th, a rural legislative district that spans most of Lincoln, Grant and Kittitas counties and includes cities like Ellensburg and Mattawa. One is a Republican and one is a Democrat.

The 13th is currently represented exclusively by Republicans, with State Senator Judy Warnick and State Representatives Tom Dent and Alex Ybarra.

Ybarra is in the incumbent in the seat that was vacated by Matt Manweller of Ellensburg after sexual assault allegations resurfaced against him in 2018.

Challenging Ybarra is Democrat Steve Verhey, who is contending for the State House with a campaign focused on fixing Washington’s upside down tax structure, widely regarded as one of the most regressive in the country.

Verhey currently serves as Chairman for the Kittitas County Democratic Party, Chair of the Environment and Climate Caucus of the Washington State Democratic Party and on the Washington State Democratic Central Committee.

Ybarra has a long history with the Grant County Public Utilities Department and has previously served as president of the Quincy School Board. He has also served on the board of the Washington State School Directors Association.

Although he was a freshman in the minority this past legislative session, Ybarra did sponsor a bill that was signed into law by Governor Jay Inslee.

House Bill 1621 gives colleges and universities more flexibility in admitting education applicants by changing basic skills assessment requirements for acceptance into teach preparatory programs.

“We need to encourage more people to choose this noble profession. Good teachers, just like students, should not be defined by a single test,” said Ybarra. “By removing this barrier a broader range of candidates can be admitted into these programs.”

As of 9:15 PM, Ybarra led with 62% of the vote (14,403 votes), and Verhey had 26% (6,097 votes). Both Ybarra and Verhey were guaranteed to move on to the November 5th general election; in this round, the race was a beauty contest.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

State Senator Liz Lovelett leads in 40th LD special election, trailed by Daniel Miller

Recently appointed State Senator Liz Lovelett (D-40th District: Anacortes) appears to be in a good position to defend her seat in the 40th Legislative District, which includes San Juan County and portions of Whatcom and Skagit Counties.

Lovelett joined the Washington State Senate in February, a few weeks after Democratic State Senator Kevin Ranker abruptly resigned. Ranker stepped down following allegations that he harassed a female employee.

Assuming she wins, Lovelett will again have to defend the seat again in a year when the position is normally contested. (State Senate terms are for four years; the 40th LD elects its senator in presidential cycles.)

Before serving as State Senator, Lovelett was on the Anacortes City Council, representing an at large position, Position #6, since 2013.

Lovelett’s challengers are Daniel Miller, a Friday Harbor Republican; Greta Aitken, a Burlington Democrat; and Carrie Blackwood, a Bellingham Democrat.

Although she was a newcomer to the Washington Legislature this year, six of Lovelett’s bills passed the State House and Senate before moving on to the Governor’s desk, including HB 2119, which protects Blanchard Mountain from logging and SB 5918, which introduced orca safety education in boat licensing. Lovelett is hoping to return to Olympia to work on fighting pollution.

As of 8:48 PM, Lovelett had 6,125 votes in her column. Blackwood was in second place with 3,876 votes, and Daniel Miller trailed in third place with 3,258 votes.

At that point, Skagit County had not reported any results at all.

Shortly before 10 PM, Skagit County belatedly reported its first results. Lovelett remains in first place, but there has been a lead change for second. Republican Daniel Miller is now ahead of Blackwood. 

Here’s how the numbers break down as of 9:50 PM:

  • Lovelett (incumbent): 47.16%
  • Miller (Republican challenger): 29.62%
  • Blackwood (Democratic challenger): 20.58%
  • Aitken (Democratic challenger): 1.55%
  • Write-in: 0.25%

Blackwood, also a Democrat, is running for office for the first time and is currently a lawyer in Bellingham, specializing in workplace law.

If elected, Blackwood hopes to address income inequality, as well as the climate crisis. She supports progressive tax reform and a higher minimum wage.

Blackwood is backed by the Young Democrats of Washington and the Riveters Collective, as well as a few unions.

As mentioned, the top two vote getters from this election will move on to the November 5th general election, with the winner serving through 2020.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

Tim Eyman ordered to pay $156,000 in contempt fines; lashes out at Bob Ferguson

Disgraced initiative promoter Tim Eyman has taken a hiatus from pitching destructive initiatives that would wreck public services in Washington in order to fully focus on launching a series of email and Facebook broadsides against the state’s chief law enforcement official, Attorney General Bob Fergsuon.

It is Ferguson’s duty and responsibility as Attorney General to hold Eyman accountable for his blatant violations of Washington’s public disclosure laws — a duty Ferguson has been taking very seriously.

In an effort to counter Eyman’s stonewalling in the extreme legal defense strategy, Ferguson’s office last week asked Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon to approve an order requiring Eyman to pay $156,000 in contempt penalties that Eyman has racked up for refusing to turn over records in the principal State of Washington v. Tim Eyman campaign finance enforcement case.

After a hearing on Friday morning of last week, Dixon granted the State’s motion. Ferguson now has a court-approved claim on a significant chunk of the cash that is sitting in Eyman’s checking accounts in United States Bankruptcy Court.

But that’s not all.

Ferguson’s office has also angered Eyman by determining that a couple of the twelve push polls slated to appear on this November’s ballot should use the phrasing costing an indeterminate amount of money instead of specifying a misleading dollar figure stretched over ten years.

(Eyman’s push polls, for those unaware, are non-binding measures that appear on the ballot anytime the Legislature passes a bill that increases or recovers state revenue. They are wasteful, costly, and deceptive, and you can learn all about them by reading this thorough primer at our Permanent Defense project’s website.)

“Whenever elected officials act like they’re above the law, it’s frustrating,” raged Eyman, who has a long, long, long history of acting like he’s above the law.

“But what do you do when it’s the chief law enforcement officer of the state? All you can do is expose the wrongdoing, put a spotlight on the hypocrisy, and criticize the lawlessness. Corruption comes in lots of different shapes and sizes. Anybody wanna argue this isn’t more corruption?”

Like Donald Trump, Tim Eyman is really good at projecting his faults onto others, and he has made Bob Ferguson his number one foil. The former King County Councilmember is in his seventh year as Attorney General.

Ferguson was so effective and respected in his first term as AG that Republicans didn’t even field a candidate against him. Ferguson’s opponent in the general election ended up being a Libertarian, whom Ferguson easily crushed.

Ferguson has taken on the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Motel 6, the Navy, the Department of Energy, Trump regime officials, and many, many other targets in his tireless efforts to defend our Constitutions and our laws against corruption, pollution, and discrimination. Most of the suits Ferguson has filed as Attorney General have gone very well for the State of Washington.

That track record of winning no doubt makes Eyman very nervous.

Eyman has repeatedly tried to exploit frustration among Washington’s right wing base with Ferguson for his own personal gain. In Trumplike fashion, Eyman has given Ferguson a disparaging nickname — “Fascist Fergie”.

“The costs of litigation, bankruptcy, and other crap coming from the AG’s attacks on me and my family are brutal,” reads the closing stock paragraph of one of Eyman’s email templates (a template he pulled out for use today). “Obviously, you’re under no obligation to help, but I hope you will anyway.”

Eyman does his very best to make it sound like all of his woes are Bob Ferguson’s fault. He even accused Ferguson of egging his home and cars last weekend.

“Did Bob Ferguson egg our house on Saturday?” was the subject of the email Eyman sent yesterday to his followers. (No, I’m not making this up.)

“Yesterday morning, I spent hours cleaning off the splattered, dried-on egg shells, egg whites, and egg yolks on the side of our house and cars,” Eyman wrote in the opening paragraph of that missive. “As soon as I saw it, I thought to myself ‘Did Ferguson do this?’ Ya, I know, it sounds pretty far-fetched: a statewide elected official — the Attorney General — doing such petty vandalism to me and my family. But it’s about the only thing left for him to do to us.”

Eyman’s email did not include any pictures of the supposed egging, leading me to wonder if it really happened at all. Absolutely nothing Eyman says can be trusted…. nothing. Eyman lies effortlessly, and is an unapologetic fabricator.

For instance, earlier this year, Eyman falsely alleged in a series of emails that Linda Dalton (one of the state attorneys working on State of Washington v. Tim Eyman) was fired by Ferguson for shoving another attorney and losing a motion. Eyman made this allegation after Dalton filed a Notice of Withdrawal from the case. The real reason for Dalton’s withdrawal, however, was her long-planned retirement.

No matter how much Eyman rages, the fact remains that he dug the hole that he is in himself. Eyman is his own tormentor; he inflicted these problems on himself.

Eyman chose to break Washington State’s campaign finance laws. He knew what he was doing was wrong, and he did it anyway. He is an unapologetic, serial offender. Eyman also chose to file for bankruptcy as a means of stalling the State’s efforts to hold him accountable for breaking those laws. When that didn’t work, he tried to back out of the bankruptcy. That didn’t work, either.

It is worth noting that while all this was going on, Eyman got himself into more trouble by inexplicably stealing a chair from the Lacey Office Depot.

Eyman hasn’t blamed Bob Ferguson for his decision to become a petty criminal… at least not yet. Perhaps by the end of this week, he’ll have done just that.

Tuesday, August 6th, 2019

It’s Top Two Election Day in Washington State – don’t forget to vote!

Readers, a reminder that today is the last day of the August 2019 Top Two Election, the elimination round of our dysfunctional two-part general election system. Ballots must be postmarked or returned by a drop box by 8 PM tonight, or they won’t count. Be sure yours is in, and then remind friends and family to vote, too. Chances are, many of them haven’t. Don’t assume – ask!

Participation so far in this election has been pretty low. As of yesterday afternoon, statewide turnout stood at 18.8%. King County’s turnout is slightly above the statewide percentage at 19.2%, continuing a recent trend of

Pierce and Snohomish (the state’s next largest counties) are really, really lagging behind — as they were last year and in other recent years.

Pierce’s turnout is a pitiful 13%, while Snohomish isn’t faring much better at 13.6%. Both counties are dead last in the state as a whole for turnout.

Island County currently has the best turnout, although it has only twenty-four voters in its Top Two universe. Fourteen of those voters have participated.

Tiny Columbia County in southeast Washington has the next best turnout, with 42.2% of ballots returned. On its heels are Ferry and Adams counties, which are also very small, at 37.4% and 36.9%. Of the counties with a population that’s well into five digits, Mason has the best turnout, coming in at 30%.

The team at NPI urges you to be a voter and get your ballot in. If you would like to use a drop box to return your ballot, here is a list of locations for major counties:

Need help voting? NPI doesn’t endorse or rate candidates for office, but the Progressive Voter’s Guide is available if you want to learn more about who’s on your ballot. You can also use the official voter’s pamphlet published by your county. And for judicial races, there’s VotingForJudges.org.

Starting tonight, after 8 PM, we will be offering live coverage of election results here on the Cascadia Advocate. Most counties will only report one batch of results tonight, and not update again till tomorrow afternoon.

We will be watching a number of races closely, particularly the Seattle and Bellevue city council races, the King County Parks For All levy, and the special election in the 40th Legislative District, where fields of candidates of three or more are competing for just two spots each on the November general election ballot.

Monday, August 5th, 2019

Book Review: Juan Williams’ book proves there’s still a hell of a lot to lose from the Trump presidency

There is still some hesitancy among mass media outlets and other civility-compulsives about whether Donald Trump is actually a racist or — out of a cynical appreciation for the expediency of racism — merely someone who talks like one; has acted like one throughout the entirety of his public and professional life; has surrounded himself with bigots from his butler to his administrative staff; and supports racist policies including ethnic cleansing.

This is a distinction without a difference. Senator Elizabeth Warren got some pushback on the left for saying something similar.

Is the president racist?” CNN’s Manu Raju asked her.

WARREN: Look at his remarks. He’s made racist remarks and he’s been racially hateful to people. That’s what matters.

RAJU: But is he racist?

WARREN: I don’t have to look at his heart, that’s not the point. He behaves. Look at what he’s done, it’s racist what he’s done over and over and over. It’s not the first time.

I don’t know what this fascination with people’s hearts or souls is. But then, I’m a materialist. I care a lot more about people’s material conditions, their legal rights and justice in practice than I do the motivations of anyone involved.

“You are what you do repeatedly.” The why doesn’t matter.

But a book by Fox News contributor Juan Williams has had me completely reversing myself on this perspective, and by the end I was almost obsessed with what exactly is going on inside Williams’ head.

What the Hell Do You Have to Lose?: Trump’s War on Civil Rights is a much better book than I expected. Williams looks at advances black Americans made throughout the 20th Century but particularly during the Civil Rights movement, zooms in on the literal blood, sweat, tears, and corpses involved in making those steps forward, and how different aspects of the Trump administration reversed them during its first year-and-a-half in office.

My American history is still strongly influenced by a white perspective, and particularly a white male perspective, and more particularly the perspective for white men of means. The Gilded Age looks a hell of a lot different when examined from the perspective of Native Americans, black Americans, Chinese Americans, or poor people of any race trying to unionize.

A mat of hair, broken teeth, and torn flesh from a half-century of massacres can’t fairly be called “gilded”, even if you drip some gold on the top of it.

Convict Leasing

Black orphaned children and juvenile offenders could be bought to serve as laborers for white planters in many Southern states from 1865 until the 1940s. (Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, LC-D428-850)

If you’re already steeped in black American history, Williams’ book may not have much to offer you, but most of us aren’t. Public education doesn’t do it for us, and popular history is all wars and aliens. So there’s some inherent value to this.

Even where I knew a bit already, like Trump’s father Fred getting arrested at an anti-Catholic KKK rally in 1927, I didn’t know Fred was notorious enough to have Woody Guthrie write a song about the family’s racist housing practices.

I suppose that Old Man Trump knows just how much racial hate
He stirred up in that bloodpot of human hearts
When he drawed that color line
Here at his Beach Haven family project

Williams’ ability to take past advancements made through the sacrifices of past giants and common folk to connect them to how the Trump administration and other Republican governments have rolled those advancements back is, I suppose, effective but not particularly interesting.

I may be in a bubble where it’s understood that a major Republican aim is to make it harder for black Americans to vote and participate safely in civic life. I am not aware of any examples of any state or local GOP working to make it easier for people to vote or help black people anywhere in any way. This should not be a revelation to anyone. It’s been trending this way since 1964.

James Zwerg

“If you want to talk about heroism, consider the black man who probably saved my life. This man in coveralls, just off of work, happened to walk by as my beating was going on and said ‘Stop beating that kid. If you want to beat someone, beat me.’ And they did. He was still unconscious when I left the hospital. I don’t know if he lived or died.” —Freedom Rider James Zwerg

Yet, unless he’s advanced to the point where he can just call on ghostwriters, Williams is a much better historical communicator than I’d realized.

He writes about the abduction and murder of three voter-registration volunteers in Mississippi by focusing first on how the news of their disappearance was received by their fellow Northern civil rights activists then revealing the details of the brutality they endured.

As drama and placing people in their shoes, this is tremendously effective.

He also describes just how much it took for the triumphs of the past to be triumphant. There was Robert Parris Moses enduring through beatings and concussion on a courthouse lawn just to register a few black Mississippians as was their Constitutional right.

There was James Meredith enrolling at Ole Miss in the face of every bureaucratic challenge and then a violent white mob that killed two and injured 300. There also was A. Philip Randolph‘s fight to unionize the black Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in the face of bribery and physical threats in the 1920s through heading up the March on Washington in 1963.

The narrative of the Civil Rights Movement we have regurgitated endlessly is the nonviolence of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

We leave out what that was in contrast to and other methods of responding to it.

White Freedom Rider James Zwerg does not appear in Juan Williams’ book, nor should he, but photos of the sort of brutality visited on him, as a relatively privileged white man, got out into the world. For most native black Southerners and for black and white activists from other parts of the U.S., they were injured or killed in darkness and silence. And still they came and worked because that was that it took to break something as awful as Jim Crow.

Civility could not on its own bring about civil rights.

Just for the historical sections, this book earns its keep.

It should take you down a path of greater discovery, if nothing else. So much of what we forgive about the past isn’t worthy of forgiveness because there were currents already existent that were arguing for progressivism even then.

They just were discounted and ignored by people in power who got to write the later narratives that will excuse them.

Ever Single

Which takes us back to Trump. Under Mitch McConnell, Senate Republicans held open a Supreme Court seat so they could let a Republican president fill it instead of anyone a Democratic president nominated.

Unlike liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsberg or Stephen Breyer, the Republican justice Anthony Kennedy decided to retire strategically so a Republican executive and Senate replaced his seat with a younger, more reliable conservative vote.

Even if Breyer and Ginsberg make it to 2021 (or 2025), watch for Justice Clarence Thomas to step down before then to make way for a forty-something-year-old Federalist Society replacement.

Meanwhile, due to McConnell’s blocking of Obama nominees and acceleration of Trump’s own, at present one out of every four people on the federal judiciary were elevated there by Trump. Seventy percent are white men, and increasingly, they don’t feel comfortable stating that Brown v Board of Education was decided rightly.

Things are bad, they’re going to get worse, and “voting them out” only makes sense with an assumption of fair elections.

Who gets to decide what’s fair and isn’t, again?

Whether Trump is doing this because he’s manipulated by oligarchs with dovetailing interests, this is all his own master plan, or he doesn’t care so long as it’s only people he doesn’t care about being hurt, does it matter?

“You are what you do repeatedly.” The why doesn’t matter.

But why does Juan Williams do what he does on Fox News?

ThrowYouOffTheSet.png

I don’t think the network’s name ever appears in the book. Maybe that’s for contractual reasons, but it’s not in the index, and if it’s ever addressed that I missed, it’s only in passing.

Certainly, Williams never grapples with Fox’s place in American politics, functioning as a propaganda organ for Republican politics and now the Trump administration itself, both of which are by their nature anti-black.

Most importantly, Williams never looks at his role in all that.

In relating how Steve Harvey and a few other black entertainers were criticized for being foolish to meet with Trump and try to influence him for the better, Williams quotes then-CNN anchor Marc Lamont Hill’s criticism of the group.

It was a bunch of mediocre Negroes being dragged in front of TV as a photo-op for Donald Trump’s exploitative campaign against black people.

Williams largely agrees with this assessment, if forgiving the group for their naivete. But if Steve Harvey is foolish and in hindsight made a poor decision to meet with Trump once a few years ago, how much more so Williams?

He has explained his continued presence on the network he’s contributed to since 1997 by claiming that he presents opinions Fox’s viewers wouldn’t get otherwise. He knows there’s no difference between the most popular cable network on television and the administration, but he explains that he’s also inside that bubble, so he’s able to reach people who just disagree with him rather than hate him.

“It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on not understanding it” as the Upton Sinclair quote goes, and as of 2010, after his anti-Muslim comments got him booted off NPR, Fox was paying Williams $2 million over three years just to come on their network and be in their bubble. Presumably, he’s more valuable now, but who knows.

Marc Lamont Hill, strangely enough, couldn’t manage to endure at Fox. They got rid of him after a short stint in 2009. The Root‘s headline cheekily said he was fired for “not being Juan Williams“. Which may be exactly it. If a person actually does challenge viewers too effectively, actually has strong opinions they can express coherently enough to change viewers’ minds, why would Fox let them on at all?

All of this has me absolutely baffled by what is going on inside Juan Williams’ mind, or in his soul if that’s more appropriate.

This book — which again, is in itself actually good! — proves he knows more than enough to know that he is profiting from and enabling an endeavor that is awful to its core and absolutely without redeeming features.

He knows, but he keeps doing it anyway, to fill his role to be pointed at and shouted down, maybe not reviled by all of the audience watching him but certainly never making them uncomfortable enough to change their minds.

If there’s any justice to what from to outside appearances looks to be naked self-interest covered by the tiniest fig leaf of principle, it’s that the people most likely to have heard of Williams’ book and been interested in it were of the audience cultivated to hate him, and you see it in the general tenor of their reviews.

It’s not what the book deserves, but it may be what the author has earned.​

Sunday, August 4th, 2019

Last Week (July 29-August 2nd) In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted

Good morning! Here’s how Cascadia’s United States Senators voted on major issues during the legislative week ending Friday, August 2nd, 2019.

The House was in recess.

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Senate chamber (U.S. Congress photo)

APPROVING TWO-YEAR BUDGET DEAL: Voting 67 for and 28 against, the Senate on August 1st approved a two-year budget deal (H.R. 3877) that would allow Pentagon and non-military spending to increase by $320 billion over current levels while suspending the statutory borrowing limit until July 31, 2021, to prevent default on the $22 trillion national debt.

The bill addresses the nearly 30 percent of the $4.6 trillion federal budget comprised of discretionary spending, leaving untouched the approximately 70 percent allocated to mandatory programs including Medicare, Social Security and veterans benefits and ruling out tax increases as a means of curbing federal debt. The bill caps discretionary spending at $1.375 trillion for each of fiscal 2020 and 2021 while anticipating annual deficits approaching $1 trillion and interest payments on the national debt likely to top $400 billion annually.

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, described the agreement (already voted on by the House) as “the right deal for our national defense. It is the right deal because it ensures the United States maintains its full faith and credit. It is the right deal because it brings predictability and stability through 2020 and moves toward restoring regular appropriations.”

Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said the bill provides “additional resources for the states to combat the opioid epidemic; support for VA hospitals caring for our veterans; cancer research and other critical medical research; climate and clean energy technology; reducing the burden of college debt; infrastructure and transportation improvements.”

Opponent Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, said the national debt “now stands at $22 trillion. This year, we will add over $1.2 trillion. We are approaching record deficits, and neither party cares.”

He added: “Interest on this debt will be over $400 billion next year, precisely, $455 billion. Interest will surpass all welfare spending in the next two years. Interest on the debt will surpass defense spending by 2025.”

Rand Paul has taken flak for these comments, given that he voted for the Republican tax cut plan in 2017 that significantly increased the national debt.

A yes vote was to send the bill to Donald Trump.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (1): Republican Senator Mike Crapo

Voting Nay (1): Republican Senator Jim Risch

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray

Cascadia total: 5 aye votes, 1 nay vote

BLOCKING INCREASE IN NATIONAL DEBT LIMIT: Voting 23 for and 70 against, the Senate on August 1st defeated an amendment to H.R. 3877 (above) that would have blocked any increase in the statutory debt limit until after Congress has imposed fiscal discipline in three areas.

The Senate and House would have to enact major spending cuts, restore spending caps that the underlying bill removes and send the states a constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, who sponsored the amendment, said “shame on the politicians who have campaigned as conservatives but who have governed as big spenders.”

(Again, as mentioned, Rand Paul has been criticized for preaching fiscal discipline to his colleagues when he voted for a huge tax cut bill that was not paid for.)

None of the seventy senators who voted against the proposal spoke against it.

A yes vote was to adopt the amendment.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (2):
Republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Voting Nay (2):
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Voting Nay (2):
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray

Cascadia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

UPHOLDING TRUMP VETO OF SAUDI ARMS MEASURE: Voting 45 for and 40 against, the Senate on July 29 failed to override Donald Trump’s veto of a measure (S.J. Res 36) that would prohibit the sale of up to $8 billion in U.S. arms to Saudi Arabia and its allies for use against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen.

The munitions consist mainly of tens of thousands of laser-guided “smart” bombs. Critics needed a two-thirds majority of senators present and voting to defeat the veto. This marked Trump’s second successful veto this year of attempts by Congress check the administration’s expanding military alliance with Saudi Arabia.

With the other veto, Trump turned back a measure that would end U.S. involvement in the Yemen war unless it receives congressional authorization under the 1973 War Powers Resolution.

Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said: “This administration’s willingness to turn a blind eye to (Saudi Arabia’s) wholesale slaughter of civilians and the murder of journalists and move forward with the sale of these weapons will have a lasting implication for America’s moral leadership on the world stage.”

Jim Risch, R-Idaho, said the arms deal serves “the legitimate security interests of our partners. Rejecting these sales at this time will reward recent Iranian aggression and risk Iranian miscalculation, which will lead to disaster if Iran continues down its current path.”

A yes vote was to override the presidential veto.

The State of Idaho

Voting Nay (2):
Republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Voting Aye (2):
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray

Cascadia total: 4 aye votes, 2 nay votes

CONFIRMING KELLY CRAFT AS UNITED NATIONS AMBASSADOR: Voting 56 for and 34 against, the Senate on July 31 confirmed Kelly Craft as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations. Craft has been U.S. ambassador to Canada since October 2017 and was an alternate delegate to the United Nations in the George W. Bush administration. She received her appointment to Ottawa after her husband, Joe Craft, a Kentucky-based coal producer, contributed more than $1 million to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign.

Republicans praised Craft’s work in Canada on matters including a trade deal to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But Democrats faulted her for having spent 357 days away from Canada while ambassador and for allowing her husband to take part in meetings on energy and environmental policies. They also criticized Craft for doubting the science validating global warming and climate damage.

Top Senate Republican Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky., said Craft has a record of “skillfully and effectively advocating for the interests of the United States on the international stage,” including helping to fashion a U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement now awaiting congressional approval.

Robert Menendez, D-New Jersey, said: “Taken together, Ambassador Craft’s lack of experience, her dereliction of duty and excessive absences in Ottawa, and her unwillingness to address potential conflicts of interest, render her unfit to serve as our ambassador to the United Nations.”

A yes vote was to confirm the nominee.

The State of Idaho

Voting Aye (2):
Republican Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo

The State of Oregon

Voting Nay (2):
Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley

The State of Washington

Voting Nay (2):
Democratic Senators Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray

Cascadia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

LWIC will be on hiatus for several weeks

The House and Senate are in recess until the week of September 9th, so there will be no further installments of Last Week In Congress until mid-September.

Editor’s Note: The information in NPI’s weekly How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted feature is provided by Voterama in Congress, a service of Thomas Voting Reports. All rights are reserved. Reproduction of this post is not permitted, not even with attribution. Use the permanent link to this post to share it… thanks!

© 2019 Thomas Voting Reports.

Saturday, August 3rd, 2019

How did each candidate fare in night one of the Democratic debate in Detroit?

Anyone watching the first night of the Democratic debate in Detroit’s historic Fox Theatre could see there was a clear divide between the neoliberal candidates in the field and the progressive candidates in the field. 

CNN’s moderators encouraged the low-polling neoliberal candidates on stage to attack the two most progressive – and most popular – candidates on the stage: Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. However, Warren and Sanders worked effectively as a team, swatting away attacks and calling out the Republican-style framing used by both their fellow Democrats and the CNN moderators.  

Here’s a look at how each candidate performed: 

Montana’s Governor Steve Bullock: Bullock stood out among the lower-polling candidates, giving the strongest and most convincing arguments for policies that research suggests voters in red states find enticing.

He repeatedly (and justifiably) pointed to the fact that he, a Democrat, won in Montana in 2016, when the state voted for Trump by more than twenty points. He joined in the critique of Medicare for All, and employed right wing populist rhetoric when addressing the topic of immigration. However, perhaps his most noticeable moment hurt his chances; he became embroiled in an argument with Elizabeth Warren over the USA’s nuclear first-strike policy.

Warren argued that the United States should not use nuclear weapons unless it was attacked first; Bullock wanted to keep all options – included an unprovoked nuclear strike – on the table. Incidentally, this position is so morally reprehensible that not even the totalitarian Soviet Union adopted it. Given that voters in general are anti-war, it was strange for Bullock to fight over this issue.   

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg: Buttigieg leaned heavily on his relative youthfulness, painting a dark picture of the future as he condemned the destructive policies of Donald Trump’s presidency. 

Buttigieg tried to rise above the simplistic left versus center left dichotomy that has been prevalent in conventional analysis of the Democratic field by big media, emphasizing his own policy directions and arguing that the Republicans will call the Democrats “a bunch of crazy socialists” no matter what.

But he often looked sidelined, rather than above the fray.

One of his rehearsed lines also bombed spectacularly; when asked about racial issues in his own city, he said, “the racial divide lives in me.”

However, he finished the night strongly, with a fierce admonition of Republican lawmakers who supported Donald Trump. 

Former-Maryland Congressman John Delaney: Delaney led the charge of neoliberal candidates against Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, decrying “bad policies” and “free everything” in his opening statement and immediately attacking the progressive Medicare for All plan.

His attacks did not win him many points with the Detroit audience, who greeted his rehearsed “zinger” lines with stony silence. Worse for him, as Delaney’s Celtic Irish ancestors could tell you, the guy who leads the charge is the most likely to get hurt. Delaney was tag teamed by Warren and Sanders.

On healthcare, Bernie Sanders all but directly accused Delaney of profiting from the status quo. Elizabeth Warren questioned why somebody like him would even “go to all the trouble of running for President… just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for!” Delaney argued that Warren’s wealth-tax was “arguably unconstitutional,” but the CNN moderators were keen to point out that he himself would be a target of the tax.

Delaney seemed to be presenting himself as a liberal Republican in this debate – it is unlikely that he accomplished anything except for helping out Warren and Sanders by serving as a neoliberal foil for them. 

Colorado’s Former-Governor John Hickenlooper: Hickenlooper repeatedly made two points: the need for political pragmatism, and the highlights of his own record as Colorado governor. He was among the biconceptuals confronting Seators Sanders and Warren, but was a less strident performer than either Delaney or Bullock. Often, his responses seemed tumbling and ill-prepared.

For example, his plan on immigration seemed to be, to quote him directly, “how hard can that be?” His lines attacking Sanders seemed especially ineffective; when he said “you can’t just spring a plan on the world and expect it to succeed,” Sanders riposted with the fifty-year success of Medicare.

He also came dangerously close to a Biden-esque stumble over race in America. When asked about racial inequality, he offered to delegate an “urban agenda,” a phrase that has a long association with derogatory racial stereotypes. Hickenlooper also expressed a willingness to keep U.S. troops in Afghanistan, differing with almost all the other candidates on stage. 

Minnesota’s Senator Amy Klobuchar: Anyone suspecting that Senator Klobuchar might be hoping to be picked for the vice presidential nomination could have found justification for harboring that belief after watching the debate.

Though she sided with the neoliberals in the night’s dominating ideological clash, she didn’t come to the stage looking to pick fights with Sanders and Warren. She repeatedly emphasized to her electoral success in the Midwest, reminding everyone that Democrats need to win back the region from Republicans.

She hit a lot of sweet spots for Democratic voters with answers about taking on the NRA, addressing the Flint water crisis, and reforming the country’s broken immigration system – without getting into fights with her colleagues.

She voiced mild disagreements with other candidates who were on the stage over education and foreign policy issues, but managed to look more composed and conciliatory than the likes of Delaney. 

Texas’ Beto O’Rourke: Throughout the debate, Beto O’Rourke tried to present himself as an Obama-esque candidate, with lofty rhetoric and aspirational themes. He wisely combined this with a firm grasp of the policy issues.

However, his performance wasn’t particularly strong, partly because – like Mayor Buttigieg – he kept to the sidelines as the strident neoliberals battled the progressives. He made the argument that he could be the Democratic candidate to “flip Texas” – despite having proved in 2018 that he actually couldn’t win the Lone Star State. O’Rourke made a strong argument on race in America, calling out Donald Trump’s racism and laying out a detailed plan.

He was the first on the stage to call for slavery reparations. His platform calls for two years of tuition free college, instead of four; pulling out of Afghanistan, (but not right away), and a healthcare plan dubbed “Medicare for America,” which is not Medicare For All, but would expand Medicare. 

Ohio’s Congressman Tim Ryan: Ryan advocated a populist economic message that at times seemed worryingly close to Trumpism. His oft-repeated message was, “not left or right, but new and better.” He conceded that he thought the President “was onto something” when it came to trade tariffs on China.

He took a swipe at Bernie Sanders, claiming the Senator didn’t know what he was talking about; this elicited one of Sanders’ best lines from the night (“I do know what I’m talking about, I wrote the damn bill!”)

He stood firmly against decriminalizing the act of crossing the border, straying into anti-immigrant rhetoric about the risk to American workers’ jobs.

His strongest issue was undoubtedly economic security; as he is an Ohioan representing a working-class community dominated by the automotive industry, he has a large-scale plan for the United States to lead the world on renewable energy and electric cars. He also pointed out that he has included the agriculture industry in his clean energy plan. No other candidate brought up agriculture.

Vermont’s U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders: Sanders was in familiar territory the whole night, ferociously defending his platform against attacks from those to the right of him. He quickly teamed up with Elizabeth Warren and the two proved an invincible team, especially as their individual styles complemented one another.

A populist at heart, Sanders wasn’t afraid to go for the jugular, most notably when he accused John Delaney of being a healthcare profiteer, compared to his own belief that healthcare is a human right. Sanders has clearly learned from his 2016 campaign, as he laid out strong plans on gun regulation and immigration, while defending his signature Medicare for All policy.

However, the septuagenarian senator had a habit of meandering into his favourite stump speeches rather than directly answering questions, contrasting with Elizabeth Warren. At one point, he became so annoyed with Delaney’s neoliberalism that he launched into an attack, talking over his ally.

However, that produced an endearing moment for the pair, as Sanders bashfully said, “Oh! I’m sorry!”, getting a laugh from the crowd. 

Massachusetts’ U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren: Warren once again came out her debate as the strongest candidate of the night. She stood at the center of the healthcare fray, sweeping aside the third-rate candidates who tried to tangle with her policies. Her favorite slogan, “I have a plan for that,” never passed her lips during the debate (though Sanders did borrow it), but it was clear that she had one of the most comprehensive, well-thought-out platforms of the debate.

Her most-used line of the debate sounded like it had been coined by her socialist colleague – “the insurance companies do not have a God-given right to make $23 billion in profits and suck it out of our healthcare system!”

She dominated her rivals whenever she got into one-on-one arguments: with John Delaney over trade; with Steve Bullock over nuclear proliferation; and with John Hickenlooper over her climate action plan. 

Texan Author and Activist Marianne Williamson: In her second debate, Marianne Williamson got to speak a lot more than in her first; by FiveThirtyEight’s count, she increased her word-count by over 60%. Her tactic appeared to be to personify the beating heart of the American Left. She came across as well versed in the issues that energize progressives. She showed she understood that the problems the country faces are intertwined and systemic.

However, she noticeably lacked any answers to the systemic problems. More than that, she didn’t sketch out a single policy or plan during the entire debate. The closest she got was calling for a constitutional amendment to remove the influence of private money from politics. She suggested the nation needed a vaguely defined social movement – that she, of course, should lead – to sweep “conventional politics” out of power in the United States. 

Thursday, August 1st, 2019

As Tim Eyman’s personal income falls, State of Washington asks judge to force him to pay up

Tim Eyman is getting squeezed on the money front. Big time.

The latest monthly financial report filed by the disgraced initiative promoter with the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Western District of Washington (for the month of June 2019) shows that for the fourth consecutive month, Eyman’s receipts have declined significantly, while his expenses have not.

At the same time, the State of Washington is making an attempt to collect the civil contempt penalties that Eyman has been busy racking up in the main campaign finance enforcement lawsuit the State filed against him and his associates.

Last Friday, the State moved for an order finding that the Eyman Defendants (Tim Eyman and his now defunct company “Watchdog for Taxpayers, LLC”) be held “jointly and severally responsible for the contempt fines imposed against Eyman Defendants collectively as well as those imposed against Watchdog alone.”

To ensure the order has teeth, the State wants Eyman to be required to pay up within five days of the date of the order. From the state’s motion:

“The State further requests that the order require the Eyman Defendants to pay those contempt fines accrued to date within five days of the date of the order. Finally, the State requests that the Court award the State its fees and costs against the Eyman Defendants jointly and severally for having to bring this motion.”

Motion to order Eyman to pay contempt fines

The contempt fines Eyman owes through August 2nd, 2019 (tomorrow) total $155,500, according to the State’s motion. That’s the grand total for all defendants in the case, including Eyman personally and his LLC. Court costs and attorney’s fees will be extra, so Eyman will owe even more on top of that.

I have no doubt Tim Eyman’s response to this motion will be to whine about how he’s being persecuted and unfairly treated. The reality, though, is that Eyman dug himself into this hole by making stonewalling in the extreme his legal defense strategy. Again and again he has tested the patience of Judge James Dixon and retired Judge Gary Tabor, the special master overseeing discovery matters, in his desperate attempt to evade accountability for his lawbreaking.

Judge Dixon is scheduled to hear oral arguments on this motion tomorrow morning at 9 AM in Thurston County Superior Court. As Eyman has chosen to represent himself, at least for the time being, he will have to appear in court to present arguments against the motion on his own behalf.

Although Eyman is a pro se defendant in State of Washington v. Tim Eyman, he still has big legal bills to pay, and that’s because of his bankruptcy case before Judge Marc Barreca, which is being handled for him by Vortman & Feinstein.

Last month, Eyman paid his bankruptcy attorneys $34,319.32 for their work — fees which were approved by Barreca. That caused his monthly expenses for June 2019 to top $50,000, while his reported income was a mere $6,633.56.

That might sound like a lot, but it pales in comparison to previous months.

Tim Eyman steals a chair from Office Depot

Tim Eyman steals a chair from Office Depot

Prior to Eyman’s now-infamous chair theft in February, his income was over $25,000 a month. But since then, it appears his friends have become fewer in number and less generous. His expenses and liabilities, however, just continue to mount. It looks like his financial situation is becoming extremely precarious.

Eyman’s obsession with postponing his day of reckoning has caused the wheels of justice to grind very slowly. But they are grinding nonetheless. We will let you know how Judge Dixon rules on this motion for payment of contempt fines tomorrow.