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.

Tuesday, July 27th, 2021

Select committee on January 6th attack gets to work, hears testimony from police officers

This morn­ing, the Unit­ed States House Select Com­mit­tee on the Jan­u­ary 6th Attack held its first meet­ing, con­ven­ing to hear tes­ti­mo­ny from four police offi­cers who defend­ed the Capi­tol on that hor­rif­ic day almost sev­en months ago.

Chaired by Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Ben­nie Thomp­son of Mis­sis­sip­pi, the com­mit­tee con­sists of nine mem­bers: sev­en Democ­rats and two Repub­li­cans. The Democ­rats are Thomp­son, Adam Schiff, Zoe Lof­gren, Elaine Luria, Stephanie Mur­phy, Pete Aguilar, and Jamie Raskin; the Repub­li­cans are Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger.

All were appoint­ed by Speak­er Nan­cy Pelosi.

Top Repub­li­can Kevin McCarthy with­drew all five of his choic­es after Pelosi said no to seat­ing two out of the five, say­ing that Jim Jor­dan of Ohio and Jim Banks of Indi­ana were not appro­pri­ate choic­es to serve on the pan­el. Banks and Jor­dan are zeal­ous Trump boost­ers who stood ready to obstruct the com­mit­tee’s work.

McCarthy’s with­draw­al of his entire slate prompt­ed Pelosi to add Kinzinger to the pan­el. (Cheney, who was kicked out of House Repub­li­can lead­er­ship ear­li­er this year, had already been appoint­ed to the com­mit­tee as one of Pelosi’s ini­tial picks. She has become one of the high­est pro­file Repub­li­cans crit­i­ciz­ing Trump.)

All nine com­mit­tee mem­bers were on hand as Thomp­son gaveled the com­mit­tee to order and intro­duced its first wit­ness­es (descrip­tions are from Wikipedia):

  • Daniel Hodges, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment of the Dis­trict of Colum­bia. Dur­ing the attack. Hodges was crushed in a door­way between riot­ers and a police line. An indi­vid­ual has pled not guilty to assault­ing Hodges and grab­bing his gear.
  • Michael Fanone, Offi­cer, Met­ro­pol­i­tan Police Depart­ment. Dur­ing the Capi­tol attack, riot­ers pulled him into the crowd, beat him with a flag­pole, stole his badge and repeat­ed­ly tased him with his own Taser. They also went for his ser­vice gun. He sup­port­ed the cre­ation of the Jan­u­ary 6 com­mis­sion and crit­i­cized those who down­played the attack.
  • Har­ry Dunn, Pri­vate First Class, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He has spo­ken about the racial abuse he and oth­er offi­cers expe­ri­enced dur­ing the attack. His lawyers respond­ed to Tuck­er Carl­son call­ing him an “angry, left-wing polit­i­cal activist”.
  • Aquili­no Gonell, Sergeant, U.S. Capi­tol Police. He was beat­en with a flag­pole and chem­i­cal­ly sprayed.

Over the course of three and a half hours, the offi­cers told their hor­ri­fy­ing sto­ries, describ­ing the vio­lence abuse they suf­fered at the hands of Trump’s ter­ror­ist mob.

Here are a few excerpts from their testimonies.

Fanone:

I thought I had seen it all, many times over, yet what I wit­nessed and expe­ri­enced on Jan­u­ary 6th, 2021, was unlike any­thing I had ever seen, any­thing I had ever expe­ri­enced, or could have imag­ined in my coun­try. On that day I par­tic­i­pat­ed in the defense of the Unit­ed States Capi­tol from an armed mob… an armed mob of thou­sands deter­mined to get inside.

Because I was among the vast­ly out­num­bered group of law enforce­ment offi­cers pro­tect­ing the Capi­tol and the peo­ple inside it, I was grabbed, beat­en, tased, all while being called a trai­tor to my coun­try. I was at risk of being stripped of and killed with my own firearm as I heard chants of, kill him with his own gun.

I could still hear those words in my head today.

Dunn:

I wit­nessed the riot­ers using all kinds of weapons against offi­cers, includ­ing flag poles, met­al bike racks they had torn apart and var­i­ous kind of pro­jec­tiles. Offi­cers were being blood­ied in the fighting.

Many were scream­ing and many were blind­ed and cough­ing from chem­i­cal irri­tants being sprayed in their faces.

I gave decon­t­a­m­i­na­tion aid to as many offi­cers as i could, flush­ing their eyes with water to dilute the chem­i­cal irritants.

Gonell:

While i was at the low ter­race of the Capi­tol work­ing with my fel­low offi­cers to pre­vent the breach and restore order, the riot­ers called me trai­tor, a dis­grace and shout­ed that I — I, an Army vet­er­an and a police offi­cer, should be executed.

Some of the riot­ers had the audac­i­ty to tell me that it was noth­ing per­son­al, that they would go through me, through us, police offi­cers, to achieve their goal as they were break­ing met­al bar­ri­ers to use as weapons against us. They used more men­ac­ing language.

If you shoot us, we all have weapons, we will shoot back. Or, we will get our guns. We out­num­ber you, they say.

Hodges:

As we came close to the ter­ror­ist our line was divid­ed and we came under attack. A man attempt­ed to rip the baton from my hands and we wres­tled for control.

I retained my weapon. He yelled at me: “You’re on the wrong team.”

Cut off from my lead­er­ship, which is at the front of our for­ma­tion, we hud­dled up and assessed the threat sur­round­ing us. One man tried and failed to build a rap­port with me, shout­ing: “Are you my broth­er”? [and] anoth­er shout­ing: “You will die on your knees.”

If you can spare the time, the video of their tes­ti­mo­ny can be watched on demand here. These first­hand accounts are worth see­ing and hearing.

Lat­er on dur­ing the hear­ing, Dunn lament­ed that so many Repub­li­cans have sided with Trump and his destruc­tive, unpa­tri­ot­ic cult against the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion and the Amer­i­can people.

“Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger are being laud­ed as coura­geous heroes,” Dunn said. “And while I agree with that notion, why? Because they told the truth? Why is telling the truth hard? I guess in this Amer­i­ca, it is.”

Dunn asked the com­mit­tee mem­bers to inves­ti­gate not only the peo­ple who car­ried out the attack on the Capi­tol, but also the peo­ple who ordered the hit, not­ing that they are just as respon­si­ble for the events of Jan­u­ary 6th as the peo­ple who smashed win­dows, beat offi­cers, and ran­sacked offices.

Dunn is cor­rect that even in an era of mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion, the truth still mat­ters. Trump and his enablers can­not be allowed to rewrite his­to­ry. If we can’t get to the bot­tom of what hap­pened and prop­er­ly con­front this threat of domes­tic ter­ror­ism, we will be set­ting the stage for this to hap­pen again.

Saturday, July 24th, 2021

Followers of Trump resist vaccination as delta variant unleashes fourth wave of COVID-19 pandemic — with deadly ramifications

Oper­a­tion Warp Speed, the pro­gram to devel­op vac­cines against COVID-19, was sup­posed to be the show­piece of Don­ald Trump’s cam­paign to curb the pan­dem­ic. The ex-pres­i­dent made a show of try­ing to waive aside vac­cine tri­als with a dis­tor­tion of Russ­ian his­to­ry: “Putin approved Sput­nik and then got the data later.”

There were tri­als, how­ev­er… suc­cess­ful tri­als, which yield­ed three effec­tive vac­cines approved by the FDA for emer­gency use against COVID-19.

The vac­cines have gone into mil­lions of arms, espe­cial­ly in coastal states. Appalling­ly, how­ev­er, as COVID’s delta vari­ant rages, eras­ing progress made in com­bat­ing the pan­dem­ic, about thir­ty-four per­cent of Amer­i­cans over the age of twelve and about forty-four per­cent of the country’s entire pop­u­la­tion have yet to be vac­ci­nat­ed against the most dead­ly res­pi­ra­to­ry dis­ease they’re like­ly to face.

Resis­tance to vac­ci­na­tion sad­ly reflects America’s polit­i­cal divisions.

It is cen­tered among Repub­li­cans, fol­low­ers of Trump, and in states he car­ried last Novem­ber. In Alaba­ma, the vac­ci­na­tion rate is only thir­ty-four per­cent, lead­ing Repub­li­can gov­er­nor Kay Ivey to say last week: “Folks are sup­posed to have com­mon sense. But it’s time to blame the unvac­ci­nat­ed folks, not the reg­u­lar folks. It’s the unvac­ci­nat­ed folks that are let­ting us down.”

It’s just the lat­est proof that there’s no such thing as com­mon sense.

Dem­a­gogues with a plat­form, like Fox’s Tuck­er Carl­son and Lau­ra Ingra­ham, are wag­ing a cam­paign of fear against vac­ci­na­tion. The man who boasts about Oper­a­tion Warp Speed – Trump has even sug­gest­ed the vac­cines be named after him – has yet to use his influ­ence to get them to stop endan­ger­ing people.

Carl­son, vaca­tion­ing in Mon­tana, was con­front­ed this week in a fly fish­ing store by a Mon­tanan named Dan Bai­ley, who post­ed a video clip of the encounter.

In the clip, Bai­ley can seen look­ing Carl­son in the face and be heard telling him: “You are the worst human being known to mankind. I want you to know that.”

This man has killed more peo­ple with vac­cine mis­in­for­ma­tion, he has sup­port­ed extreme racism, he is a fas­cist and does more to rip this coun­try apart than any­one that calls them­selves an Amer­i­can,” Bai­ley wrote in the Insta­gram cap­tion accom­pa­ny­ing his video, which has been viewed tens of thou­sands of times.

That’s a pret­ty apt syn­op­sis of the trou­ble we’re in.

“The prob­lem right now is that the voic­es of these cred­i­ble pub­lic health pro­fes­sion­als are get­ting drowned out,” Unit­ed States Sur­geon Gen­er­al Vivek Mur­phy told a White House brief­ing last week.

The dem­a­goguery is out there for all to see.

It’s not just Fox hosts, either. Repub­li­can offi­cials are engaged in it, too.

After Pres­i­dent Joe Biden talked about pro­mot­ing vac­ci­na­tion “com­mu­ni­ty by com­mu­ni­ty” and “neigh­bor­hood by neigh­bor­hood,” Sen­a­tor Mar­sha Black­burn, R‑Tennessee, false­ly respond­ed with these fear­mon­ger­ing words: “Joe Biden is send­ing agents to your door to com­pel vaccinations.”

Gov­er­nor Mike Par­son of Mis­souri, his state an epi­cen­ter for the Delta vari­a­tion, accused the Pres­i­dent of “try­ing to scare” the citizenry.

“Don’t come knock­ing on my door with your ‘Fau­ci ouch­ie’: You leave us the hell alone,” Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Laren Boe­bert, R‑Colorado, told the Con­ser­v­a­tive Polit­i­cal Action Con­fer­ence in Dal­las, serv­ing as a warmup act for Trump.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Madi­son Cawthorn, R‑North Car­oli­na, warned that the door-to-door vac­ci­na­tion cam­paign could lead to con­fis­ca­tion of Bibles and guns.

The result: Polls have found forty-five per­cent of Repub­li­cans say­ing they will not get vac­ci­nat­ed, with thir­ty-one per­cent fear­ing the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment will insert a track­ing chip when the nee­dle is plunged into their arms.

Trump has done noth­ing to counter these falsehoods.

Why not? The fail­ure to vac­ci­nate is set­ting off a fourth wave of the pan­dem­ic, cen­tered in states that Trump car­ried last Novem­ber. The high­est inci­dence of new cas­es comes in Flori­da, where Repub­li­can Gov­er­nor Ron DeSan­tis is ped­dling “Don’t Fau­ci my Flori­da” stick­ers when he appears – non­stop – on FNC.

The “butch­er bill”, even among right-wing foot sol­diers, may be accept­able giv­en the objec­tives of those fan­ning doubts. Repub­li­cans have weaponized fear, fos­ter­ing hos­til­i­ty toward sci­ence, demo­niz­ing med­ical experts and research uni­ver­si­ties, and sneer­ing at so-called “elites.” I doubt that Tuck­er Carl­son or Lau­ra Ingra­ham believe a word of their anti-mask rhetoric or warn­ings about vac­ci­nat­ing chil­dren, but the prop­a­ga­tion of fear boosts ratings.

Trump is a mon­ey machine, hav­ing raised more than $75 mil­lion in recent months, mon­ey that is not spent to chal­lenge 2020 elec­tion results but rather goes to the care, feed­ing and trav­el of the leader, with much of the loot squir­reled away.

Fear brings in the bucks.

To keep milk­ing the cash cow, you need to cease­less­ly cre­ate tar­gets of fear.

“Repub­li­cans invent things to pro­voke para­noia,” New York Times colum­nist Mau­reen Dowd writes Sun­day, dis­cussing Repub­li­can denial of cli­mate damage.

As well, the goal is to cre­ate impres­sions rather than solv­ing problems.

As oper­a­tion Warp Speed devel­oped vac­cines, the Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol was faced with map­ping out a fifty-state plan for dis­tri­b­u­tion start­ing in Jan­u­ary of 2021. But the Trump regime took mon­ey out of the CDC’s budget.

At a hear­ing on Capi­tol Hill, Sen. Pat­ty Mur­ray, D‑Washington, asked the CDC ‘s Dr. Robert Red­field where the lost dol­lars had gone. He replied that the admin­is­tra­tion had trans­ferred $300 mil­lion of CDC mon­ey to the Depart­ment of Health and Human Ser­vices’ pub­lic affairs office. The mon­ey was restored by the Sen­ate Appro­pri­a­tions sub­com­mit­tee on health and human ser­vices, then chaired by Sen­a­tor Roy Blount, R‑Missouri, with Mur­ray the rank­ing Democrat.

Sec­re­tary Alex Azar want­ed to fire Redfield.

Such were the knives out in a regime wrestling with the country’s worst health cri­sis in one hun­dred and two years. The Mur­ray-Blount sto­ry is told in the new book “I Alone Can Fix It” by Car­ol Leon­nig and Philip Rucker.

One more fear fac­tor is at play – fear by right-wing politi­cians and pun­dits at what they have unleashed. It is dan­ger­ous to breathe a word of truth, even if done so rarely. The camp fol­low­ers aren’t used to it. Last week, speak­ing on his Fox prime­time show, Sean Han­ni­ty declared: “Enough peo­ple have died. We don’t need more death. I believe in the sci­ence of vaccination.”

The com­ment drew a storm of protest from his core audi­ence. Han­ni­ty back­tracked less than forty-eight hours lat­er, say­ing: “Well, first of all – I’m not urg­ing peo­ple to get the COVID-19 vac­cine because I’m not a doc­tor. What I said, I said to take it seri­ous­ly. It might kill you. I said to do a lot of research.”

What a stom­ach-turn­ing sit­u­a­tion for the country.

Trump wants to claim cred­it for devel­op­ing the vac­cines, yet his fol­low­ers resist being jabbed. The ex-president’s favorite boot lick­ers in Con­gress and right wing media spread fears and exploit the nation’s divi­sions. Trump cash­es in on those divi­sions, and by mock­ing pub­lic health experts. Mil­lions go unvaccinated.

Trump was qui­et­ly vac­ci­nat­ed against COVID-19 before leav­ing office, a rare unpub­li­cized action in his high­ly pub­lic, tabloid-anchored life.

For half a year, he’s had an oppor­tu­ni­ty to bring on board his fol­low­ers. He could do a ser­vice to his coun­try, but instead he serves only him­self, as usual.

The ram­i­fi­ca­tions are deadly.

Friday, July 23rd, 2021

Most voters favor Seattle Charter Amendment 29 (concerning homelessness) out of the gate

This autumn, vot­ers in Seat­tle are almost cer­tain­ly going to be asked if they want to amend the Emer­ald City’s plan of gov­ern­ment to add new direc­tives regard­ing the city’s oblig­a­tions for address­ing home­less­ness, the issue that most vot­ers in Seat­tle say is the top pri­or­i­ty they want the next may­or to address.

Char­ter Amend­ment 29, as the mea­sure is offi­cial­ly known, is cur­rent­ly await­ing cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from King Coun­ty Elec­tions offi­cials fol­low­ing a late spring/early sum­mer sig­na­ture dri­ve that end­ed at the begin­ning of the month.

Although the sig­na­ture check isn’t yet com­plete, the mea­sure is expect­ed to qual­i­fy, and the cam­paigns for and against the amend­ment are revving up in prepa­ra­tion for what is expect­ed to be a live­ly gen­er­al elec­tion campaign.

With the con­tentious amend­ment poised to be a focal point of debate this autumn, we took the oppor­tu­ni­ty last week as part of our July 2021 city­wide Top Two sur­vey of Seat­tle vot­ers to ask respon­dents how they would vote on the mea­sure if the gen­er­al elec­tion were being held now.

Out of the gate, we find Char­ter Amend­ment 29 in a strong posi­tion, with 61% of vot­ers like­ly to vote in the cur­rent Top Two elec­tion say­ing they favor the amend­ment. Just 23% are opposed, and anoth­er 16% said they were not sure. That’s a net lead of thir­ty-sev­en points for the pro side to start.

Poll finding on Seattle Charter Amendment 29

Visu­al­iza­tion of NPI’s poll find­ing on Seat­tle Char­ter Amend­ment 29, which will appear on the Novem­ber 2021 gen­er­al elec­tion bal­lot if cer­ti­fied (Graph­ic by NPI)

Our poll of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. All respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

Here’s the exact ques­tion that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: This Novem­ber, vot­ers in Seat­tle may be asked to vote on a city char­ter amend­ment con­cern­ing actions to address home­less­ness and keep areas clear of encamp­ments. The offi­cial descrip­tion of the char­ter amend­ment is as fol­lows: This mea­sure would require the City to pro­vide 2,000 hous­ing units with­in one year; and, until 2028: waive land use reg­u­la­tions for units dur­ing declared emer­gen­cies; adopt home­less­ness poli­cies; fund behav­ioral health and addic­tion treat­ment; ded­i­cate min­i­mum 12% of annu­al gen­er­al fund rev­enue to home­less­ness and human ser­vices with­out affect­ing cer­tain parks fund­ing; imple­ment diver­sion pro­grams for law vio­la­tions con­nect­ed to pover­ty or behav­ioral health; and bal­ance keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear of encamp­ments with avoid­ing harm to indi­vid­u­als. If the autumn gen­er­al elec­tion were being held now, would you vote yes to pass this char­ter amend­ment, or no to reject it?

ANSWERS:

  • Would vote yes to pass the char­ter amend­ment: 61%
  • Would vote no to reject the char­ter amend­ment: 23%
  • Not sure: 16%

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle, the coali­tion in favor of the amend­ment, hailed the find­ing, say­ing that it showed Seat­tleites are ready to take action on homelessness.

“The find­ings of the NPI poll are con­sis­tent with our own research and the response we have received from the peo­ple of Seat­tle,” the cam­paign said in a state­ment. “Vot­ers believe the best path for­ward to address­ing the home­less­ness cri­sis is through a coor­di­nat­ed, action­able plan that holds the City of Seat­tle and its lead­er­ship account­able in mak­ing mea­sur­able progress.”

“It starts with pri­or­i­tiz­ing the indi­vid­u­als who need our help through emer­gency hous­ing, access to men­tal health and sub­stance abuse treat­ment and oth­er nec­es­sary sup­port ser­vices that are need­ed to bring peo­ple inside.”

“Ulti­mate­ly, CA 29 is the plan that is need­ed to solve this cri­sis, and it requires our city to be trans­par­ent about progress and set­backs for it to be suc­cess­ful. As the cam­paign to approve the Char­ter Amend­ment begins, we urge all of Seat­tle to work togeth­er to solve this human cri­sis and not con­tin­ue to politi­cize it.”

House Our Neigh­bors, the coali­tion opposed to the amend­ment, told NPI that they believe the mea­sure’s fatal flaws will become increas­ing­ly appar­ent to vot­ers, and cit­ed Com­pas­sion Seat­tle’s ref­er­enced — but not pub­licly released — polling that showed even high­er lev­els of sup­port for the pro­pos­al a few months ago.

“[Back­ers] claim that their amend­ment was polling between 70–80% [pri­or to fil­ing]. So the fact that in a few months, a grass­roots cam­paign of cur­rent­ly home­less, for­mer­ly home­less, advo­cates, and over six­ty orga­ni­za­tions, bankrolled by peo­ple pow­er, not real estate devel­op­ers and cor­po­ra­tions, has brought that num­ber down to 61% is a great sign!” said Tiffani McCoy, Advo­ca­cy Direc­tor for Real Change and one of the orga­niz­ers of House Our Neighbors.

“Vot­ers are learn­ing about the disin­gen­u­ous nature of Char­ter Amend­ment 29, and how cor­po­ra­tions and devel­op­ers are buy­ing a char­ter amend­ment to influ­ence city­wide elec­tions,” McCoy added.

“CA 29 includes no new solu­tions, no new fund­ing, and cod­i­fies the forced removal of our unhoused neigh­bors into the city charter.”

“Their Amend­ment, if passed, would already fail our unhoused neigh­bors. It does absolute­ly noth­ing for fifty per­cent of those cur­rent­ly liv­ing out­side, and does noth­ing to deter the inflow of home­less­ness. It’s an emp­ty promise to end home­less­ness and it sen­sa­tion­al­izes our most vul­ner­a­ble for polit­i­cal gain.”

The Amer­i­can Civ­il Lib­er­ties Union of Wash­ing­ton is among the orga­ni­za­tions that has declared its oppo­si­tion to Char­ter Amend­ment 29, writ­ing:

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 (CA 29) would enshrine Seattle’s cur­rent inef­fec­tive and harm­ful prac­tice of sweep­ing unhoused res­i­dents and their homes from pub­lic places into the City’s Char­ter, while doing noth­ing to mean­ing­ful­ly address home­less­ness. The crim­i­nal­iza­tion of pover­ty is not only uncon­sti­tu­tion­al, but an inap­pro­pri­ate way to address the long-stand­ing and inter­sect­ing issues of hous­ing afford­abil­i­ty, Seattle’s racial wealth divide and com­mu­ni­ty dis­place­ment, and the his­to­ry of struc­tur­al inequity in housing.”

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle says the ACLU’s analy­sis is incorrect.

“Despite what the ACLU says, Char­ter Amend­ment 29 does not pro­mote sweeps, nor do we believe sweeps to be an effec­tive prac­tice to help those liv­ing unshel­tered. That is why the Amend­ment requires cre­ation of 2,000 units of emer­gency hous­ing and expan­sion of behav­ioral health services.”

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 does not crim­i­nal­ize home­less­ness; it says noth­ing about law enforce­ment,” a June 9th state­ment from the coali­tion con­tends. “It does require expan­sion of diver­sion pro­grams so police, pros­e­cu­tors, defense attor­neys and the courts can decide on a case-by-case basis whether treat­ment and oth­er indi­vid­u­al­ized ser­vices are bet­ter than arrest and prosecution.”

House Our Neigh­bors told NPI that they see three big prob­lems with the Char­ter Amend­ment 29 bal­lot title, which you can read above in its entire­ty (it was part of the ques­tion that we asked vot­ers). Here’s their analysis:

First, the bal­lot title says that CA 29 “would require the City to pro­vide 2,000 hous­ing units with­in one year”  but the Char­ter Amend­ment lan­guages actu­al­ly dic­tates emer­gency or per­ma­nent hous­ing, and the fact that this amend­ment would only divert rough­ly $18 mil­lion more to home­less­ness, these 2,000 units will be emer­gency shel­ter. The lan­guage in the bal­lot title makes it sound like per­ma­nent hous­ing units.

Sec­ond, the bal­lot title says CA 29 will “bal­ance keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear of encamp­ments with avoid­ing harm to individuals.”

This is a flow­ery notion and has no place in the bal­lot title.

CA 29 is all about keep­ing pub­lic spaces clear, and allows the use of force to ensure this. The last sen­tence in sec­tion three of the pro­posed char­ter amend­ment states: “In those cir­cum­stances where the City does not close an encamp­ment, the City may still require indi­vid­u­als to shift their belong­ings and any struc­tures to ensure safe­ty, acces­si­bil­i­ty and to accom­mo­date use of pub­lic spaces.”

Let’s be clear, shift is a euphemism.

A shift is a sweep, it’s a forced removal, it’s dis­place­ment, with­out any guar­an­tee of shel­ter or hous­ing. This is the true aim of CA 29.

Third, the bal­lot title repeat­ed­ly refers to how this will fund x, and fund y. This is wild­ly mis­lead­ing, as this Char­ter Amend­ment has zero fund­ing attached to it. CA 29 only requires 1% more fund­ing to be divert­ed to a human ser­vices fund, so that’s rough­ly $18 mil­lion more than we already spend.

Com­pas­sion Seat­tle argues in its FAQ: “2,000 units is not the end, it’s the begin­ning. This is an aggres­sive start to pro­vid­ing enough capac­i­ty in the first year to move peo­ple inside and make a notice­able dif­fer­ence in the region.”

And, with respect to the lack of fund­ing attached to the pro­pos­al, the coali­tion says: “Adopt­ing new tax­es is not nec­es­sary to ful­fill the first years of the plan out­lined in Char­ter Amend­ment 29. We believe the City of Seat­tle has the nec­es­sary resources in its gen­er­al fund, and it comes down to a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ti­za­tion. If the City demon­strates both suc­cess and a need for new fund­ing to com­plete the plan, they should then make that case to the voters.”

“Char­ter Amend­ment 29 is not a quick fix,” Com­pas­sion Seat­tle stresses.

“It will take a focused and per­sis­tent effort to per­suade indi­vid­u­als to accept hous­ing and ser­vices tai­lored to meet their needs. The best way to keep our pub­lic spaces free of encamp­ments is to fol­low the expe­ri­ence of oth­er cities who have suc­cess­ful­ly addressed this issue by meet­ing basic human needs for safe and secure hous­ing and by pro­vid­ing behav­ioral health services.”

House Our Neigh­bors says Char­ter Amend­ment 29 would take the city in the wrong direc­tion, not make things bet­ter over time. “The pro­pos­al is in fact a major step back­wards in address­ing the region’s hous­ing cri­sis,” HON’s FAQ says.

“Our unhoused neigh­bors don’t need more ‘com­pas­sion­ate’ sweeps — they need deeply afford­able, per­ma­nent, and suf­fi­cient hous­ing units, an expan­sion of proven options like tiny house vil­lages and sub­si­dized hotel rooms, safe lots for RVs and oth­er vehi­cles, and more wrap­around ser­vices,” the coali­tion says.

NPI does not yet have a posi­tion on Seat­tle Char­ter Amend­ment 29 and was not involved in qual­i­fy­ing the mea­sure to the bal­lot. While NPI does not take sides in can­di­date elec­tions, we usu­al­ly do take posi­tions on bal­lot mea­sures. We antic­i­pate tak­ing a posi­tion on Char­ter Amend­ment 29 this autumn.

If you’d like to dive more deeply into the case for and against the mea­sure ahead of the fall cam­paign, we rec­om­mend read­ing the FAQs and answers to those ques­tions post­ed by Com­pas­sion Seat­tle and House Our Neigh­bors.

Bal­lots in the cur­rent August 2021 Top Two elec­tion (which were mailed out last week) must be returned to a drop box by 8 PM or post­marked by the last out­go­ing mail col­lec­tion time on Tues­day, August 3rd, 2021. Hap­py voting!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2021

No surprise: Seattle voters’ top concern this election year is addressing homelessness

Almost six years ago, in Novem­ber of 2015, the City of Seat­tle declared that home­less­ness in and around the Emer­ald City had become a cri­sis, with then-May­or Ed Mur­ray stat­ing in a civ­il emer­gency order that “mem­bers of our com­mu­ni­ty should not be forced… to live and sleep out­doors and on the street.”

In the time that has passed since, how­ev­er, the num­ber of peo­ple expe­ri­enc­ing home­less­ness in and around Seat­tle has gone up, not down.

The city, coun­ty, and state have all enact­ed new laws and ordi­nances recent­ly in an attempt to address the cri­sis and pre­vent more peo­ple from becom­ing home­less, but our research shows that Seat­tle vot­ers feel strong­ly that the city needs to be doing more — a lot more — to get peo­ple into housing.

A whop­ping 68% of like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers sur­veyed last week by Change Research for NPI iden­ti­fied address­ing home­less­ness as the pri­or­i­ty they most want the next May­or of Seat­tle to tack­le once sworn in.

13% cit­ed hous­ing costs and access to hous­ing — a close­ly relat­ed pri­or­i­ty — as a top con­cern they want the city’s incom­ing chief exec­u­tive to act on. And 9% specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned they want to see pub­lic hous­ing for low income Seattleites.

Here’s a word cloud that visu­al­ly demon­strates just how dom­i­nant of an issue address­ing home­less­ness is this elec­tion cycle for our respondents:

Homelessness is Seattle voters' top concern in the 2021 election

The NPI team used the ven­er­a­ble Wor­dle app to build a word cloud with the text of the sur­vey respons­es (Graph­ic by NPI)

“Home­less” and “home­less­ness” appeared over and over again in the respons­es sub­mit­ted to our open end­ed ques­tion about the work of Seat­tle’s next may­or, which are cod­ed below into cat­e­gories based on the themes that Change Research and the NPI team saw after sift­ing through them.

QUESTION: What poli­cies do you want to see Seattle’s next May­or imple­ment to improve the health of the city?

[Note: Respons­es cod­ed from open-end­ed submissions]

TOP ANSWERS:

  • Address the city’s home­less­ness cri­sis: 68%
  • Police reform (defund, demil­i­ta­rize, change nature of): 18%
  • Improve pub­lic safe­ty and tack­le crime: 17%
  • Bring down hous­ing costs (i.e. through rent con­trol): 13%
  • Police sup­port (increase fund­ing, deploy more offi­cers): 10%

In addi­tion to the five top answers shown above, respon­dents also specif­i­cal­ly expressed sup­port for beau­ti­fy­ing the city (like through graf­fi­ti removal or pick­ing up trash — 9% of respon­dents iden­ti­fied that as a con­cern), pro­vid­ing pub­lic hous­ing for low income Seat­tleites (9% iden­ti­fied that as a con­cern), and bol­ster­ing the city’s infra­struc­ture (8% iden­ti­fied that as a concern).

Small­er per­cent­ages flagged addi­tion­al pri­or­i­ties they want the may­or to focus on:

  • more and bet­ter tran­sit (7%),
  • increase tax­es on the wealthy and cor­po­ra­tions (7%),
  • expand ser­vices for those strug­gling with addic­tion (6%),
  • sup­port the city’s busi­ness­es (6%),
  • improve parks (6%),
  • enforce laws (5%),
  • act on cli­mate and pro­tect the city’s envi­ron­ment (5%),
  • make down­town Seat­tle safer and more wel­com­ing (4%),
  • and help fam­i­lies with bet­ter child­care and edu­ca­tion­al oppor­tu­ni­ties (4%).

Final­ly, 3% of respon­dents specif­i­cal­ly men­tioned they’d like the next may­or to focus on low­er­ing tax­es and anoth­er 3% men­tioned cham­pi­oning racial justice.

Many respon­dents’ answers con­sist­ed very sim­ply of “Address home­less­ness!” or some vari­a­tion there­of, while oth­ers offered lengthy and extreme­ly thor­ough com­men­taries on the state of the city and what they think their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives are or aren’t doing to act on the issues of the day.

Because home­less­ness was such a pre­dom­i­nant theme in the respons­es, we’ve cre­at­ed a sec­ond word cloud that does­n’t have home­less­ness in it so you can see a sam­pling of oth­er words that were com­mon to the respons­es we received.

Supplementary word cloud from NPI's July 2021 survey of Seattle voters

This word cloud, also made with Wor­dle by the NPI team, does­n’t have home­less­ness in it, thus allow­ing oth­er words to be more promi­nent. (Graph­ic by NPI)

In all, five hun­dred and eighty-two out of the six hun­dred and sev­en­teen respon­dents answered this open end­ed ques­tion — a pret­ty high per­cent­age. Their respons­es cumu­la­tive­ly total 70,669 char­ac­ters and 11,090 words.

Our sur­vey was in the field through Mon­day, July 12th, through Thurs­day, July 15th. 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers took the sur­vey, with all par­tic­i­pat­ing online. The poll was con­duct­ed by Change Research for NPI, and has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence interval.

This being Seat­tle, most respon­dents in the sur­vey iden­ti­fied as Demo­c­ra­t­ic or lean­ing Demo­c­ra­t­ic. (The Emer­ald City is one of the bluest places, polit­i­cal­ly, in the Pacif­ic North­west). While most Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dents offered just a few words in response to our prompt above, there were a few who took full advan­tage of the oppor­tu­ni­ty to lay out a vision for what they want Seat­tle to be.

One respon­dent sketched out their ideas for Seat­tle’s next may­or pri­or­i­tize cre­at­ing a more con­nect­ed, liv­able city as follows:

Rapid expan­sion of sup­port­ive ser­vices, shel­ters and afford­able hous­ing to address the home­less­ness cri­sis. Sup­port for small busi­ness­es as the city’s econ­o­my recov­ers from the reces­sion cre­at­ed by the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic. Invest­ments in tran­sit infra­struc­ture and mod­ern improve­ments to road­way design.

Anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent wrote that they want to see the city lead where the state Leg­is­la­ture won’t, and invest tax dol­lars in ser­vices that help peo­ple rather than pun­ish­ing them or lock­ing them up. Their comments:

I want the next may­or to work for the peo­ple, not the police. I want invest­ment in peo­ple, not police. Meet the unhoused and addict­ed where they are with ser­vices. Flour­ish­ing pub­lic spaces. More P‑Patches to meet the grow­ing low-income hous­ing built with­out green spaces. The city mov­ing for­ward where the state won’t (UBI, munic­i­pal broad­band, safe injec­tion sites, no bail, hous­ing the unhoused, social work­ers in libraries) …

Still anoth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent offered sim­i­lar thoughts:

Move fund­ing from police to social ser­vices, includ­ing address­ing [the] home­less pop­u­la­tion. Stay firm on stance toward mega employ­ers. Work with schools, fam­i­lies and child­care providers to serve all chil­dren. Sup­port adults who make too lit­tle to afford cost of liv­ing in Seat­tle. Use research to inform com­mu­ni­ty build­ing ver­sus allow­ing the news­pa­per to point out inequities in our city. Help uni­fy the city. Avoid busi­ness ver­sus socialists.

Help­ing peo­ple rather than cit­ing them or lock­ing them up was def­i­nite­ly a uni­fy­ing char­ac­ter­is­tic we saw across the Demo­c­ra­t­ic responses.

One Demo­c­ra­t­ic respon­dent explained that they want the city to inter­vene when prob­lems like noise pol­lu­tion arise… they just want the city to send first respon­ders who aren’t police to pro­vide a non-puni­tive response:

Find a way oth­er than the police to han­dle civic cas­es. Fire­works go off every sin­gle night in my neigh­bor­hood, and the cops say they can’t respond unless it involves alco­hol or vio­lence. There also was a protest ral­ly for Don­ald Trump last sum­mer in my neigh­bor­hood, and the cops said the same thing. I don’t want to call the cops for these types of things, but I would like to be able to call on some pub­lic ser­vice law-enforce­ment group that could help with­out incrim­i­nat­ing those who are either break­ing the law or caus­ing trouble.

Repub­li­can respon­dents who answered our ques­tion had very dif­fer­ent takes.

“Stop giv­ing mon­ey to the home­less!” one wrote. “It just brings them to our city. Start fund­ing the police. Quit allow­ing pro­test­ers to ruin our streets.”

“Reverse a major­i­ty of poli­cies enact­ed by mayor/city coun­cil over the past sev­er­al years,” wrote anoth­er, with­out elab­o­rat­ing further.

“More police, crack down on crime down­town, get the home­less out of pub­lic parks, get a move on repair­ing the West Seat­tle Bridge. Actu­al­ly charge those arrest­ed for any vio­lent crimes, van­dal­ism, riot­ing, and pros­e­cute the offend­ers instead of releas­ing [them]. Sup­port the police!” wrote a third.

(Empha­sis is the respondent’s).

Respon­dents iden­ti­fy­ing as inde­pen­dents expressed a few of the same sen­ti­ments as the Repub­li­cans who left com­ments, but unlike the Repub­li­cans, many of them expressed inter­est in find­ing and imple­ment­ing “solu­tions” for the unhoused as opposed to dis­man­tling encamp­ments with sweeps, or oth­er puni­tive measures.

One char­ac­ter­ized home­less­ness this way:

It is a com­pli­cat­ed prob­lem that has not been addressed by our city lead­er­ship. The tax­pay­ing cit­i­zens and small street lev­el busi­ness­es are the not get­ting what they con­tribute to the good. Crime lingers in the shad­ows of the home­less camps and is unchecked.

Life has con­se­quences. We can­not con­tin­ue to let peo­ple who are not capa­ble of mak­ing good deci­sions live in the streets.

Not my fault, not the fault of the small busi­ness own­er, but we are the only ones suf­fer­ing the con­se­quences of poor deci­sions. The poor deci­sions have crept into city hall and our cur­rent coun­cil are unable and not equipped to deal with the com­pli­cat­ed problems.

Con­tin­ued street liv­ing is not a solu­tion. It is time for solutions.

“Solu­tions” also stood out in this response from anoth­er independent:

Faster improve­ment to pub­lic trans­porta­tion; real solu­tions to home­less­ness not just clear­ing them away from where we can see them; more activ­i­ties for youth.

Still anoth­er inde­pen­dent put it even more sim­ply, and paired their desire for action on home­less­ness with their desire of action on hous­ing costs:

House the home­less. Do some­thing to curb the cost of housing/home buy­ing and assist those who rent to feel more secure.

The bot­tom line? Regard­less of age, par­ty affil­i­a­tion, gen­der, or race, Seat­tleites real­ly, real­ly want their next may­or to make address­ing home­less­ness and pub­lic safe­ty in the city their top pri­or­i­ties. There is a strong desire for results over rhetoric. While respon­dents diverge on how to get there, they are in agree­ment that there needs to be action. What the city has done to date just isn’t sufficient.


Inter­est­ed in the find­ings we’re pre­vi­ous­ly released from this sur­vey? Then we sug­gest read­ing these Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate posts next:

Tuesday, July 20th, 2021

Oregon changes its ballot return policy to match Washington’s more voter-friendly laws

Begin­ning next year, vot­ers in the Beaver State who wish to use the Unit­ed States Postal Ser­vice to return their bal­lots will no longer have to wor­ry about ensur­ing that their bal­lot reach­es elec­tion offi­cials by the dead­line to return bal­lots. That’s because Ore­gon Gov­er­nor Kate Brown just signed into law House Bill 3291, autho­riz­ing elect­ed offi­cials to accept bal­lots that are post­marked by Elec­tion Day.

Vot­ers to the north, in Wash­ing­ton State, have long enjoyed the free­dom to vote late and still use the Postal Ser­vice to return their bal­lot, because bal­lots that arrive after Elec­tion Day are still legal­ly cast votes under Wash­ing­ton State law. To count, they just need to be post­marked no lat­er than the last day of the three week vot­ing win­dow and received before the elec­tion is certified.

More than a dozen oth­er states around the coun­try have embraced Wash­ing­ton’s vot­er-friend­ly approach for accep­tance of bal­lots that were vot­ed at home.

Ore­gon, on the oth­er hand, has long required bal­lots to be in elect­ed offi­cials’ cus­tody by the time that vot­ing ends. Now, Ore­gon is chang­ing course and fol­low­ing Wash­ing­ton’s lead. That’s a pos­i­tive devel­op­ment for our region!

As the Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty of Ore­gon (DPO) said in an email to its sup­port­ers today: “This is great news for increas­ing vot­er access and participation!”

“It also means no more con­fu­sion about when you can put your bal­lot into a mail­box in time for it to arrive at an elec­tions office by Elec­tion Day. Now, so long as you drop your bal­lot in your mail­box by Elec­tion Day and it is received no lat­er than sev­en days after an elec­tion, it will be accepted.”

Hur­rah!

Many years ago, Sam Reed and The Seat­tle Times pro­posed doing away with Wash­ing­ton’s vot­er-friend­ly bal­lot return pol­i­cy and adopt­ing Ore­gon’s pol­i­cy. Thank­ful­ly, the Leg­is­la­ture did­n’t lis­ten to them. And now, the oppo­site has hap­pened: Ore­gon leg­is­la­tors have come to their sens­es and made return­ing a bal­lot eas­i­er. This is a love­ly win for democ­ra­cy and bal­lot access.

Repub­li­cans opposed the bill when it came up for a floor vote in the Ore­gon Leg­is­la­ture, base­less­ly argu­ing that it would make fraud eas­i­er.

It won’t, of course, and it’s rare that any­one tries to vote fraud­u­lent­ly. There are almost no known instances of vot­ing fraud any­where in this country.

The cas­es we do know of have gen­er­al­ly involved peo­ple aligned with Repub­li­can can­di­dates and caus­es who are des­per­ate to win at any cost.

Per­haps that’s why some Repub­li­cans think about “vot­er fraud” so much — because they assume their oppo­nents are just as will­ing to cheat as they are.

One Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor also expressed con­cerns, say­ing: “I reluc­tant­ly vot­ed for this today… My con­cern is, in close races … that delay­ing the returns for a week or two after­ward will under­mine faith in the sys­tem. I hope I’m wrong.”

That sen­a­tor was Lee Bey­er, D‑Springfield.

You don’t have to wor­ry, Sen­a­tor Bey­er. Returns in Ore­gon will not be delayed as a result of this new law. Some bal­lots might be count­ed lat­er on in the process than they would have before, but that won’t delay the work of count­ing bal­lots. More impor­tant­ly, oth­er bal­lots that would have been void­ed mere­ly because they did­n’t get deliv­ered back to offi­cials by Elec­tion Day will now be counted!

Wash­ing­ton State has accept­ed bal­lots post­marked through Elec­tion Day for years, and we usu­al­ly have a pret­ty good idea of who won on Elec­tion Night.

Even when we don’t, due to close mar­gins, it rarely takes longer than a few days to be able to project with con­fi­dence who will win in a giv­en race.

The excep­tions would be super tight races in which only a hand­ful of votes sep­a­rate the can­di­dates. But super tight races don’t ben­e­fit from the sys­tem Ore­gon just aban­doned because the result can’t be known until the bal­lots are recount­ed. And a prop­er recount can only begin when the ini­tial count is done.

It also isn’t nec­es­sary to require bal­lots to be in elect­ed offi­cials’ cus­tody by Elec­tion Day in order to count them quick­ly. The speed at which bal­lots are count­ed is dri­ven by logis­ti­cal con­straints and elec­tions offi­cials’ resource avail­abil­i­ty, not hoops placed in front of vot­ers. Again, what’s impor­tant is doing every­thing pos­si­ble to ensure that every vote is count­ed. The more bar­ri­ers we can elim­i­nate to vot­ing, the health­i­er our democ­ra­cy will be.

Monday, July 19th, 2021

Ready, fire, aim! NRCC ineptly tries to knock Kim Schrier for sponsoring NPI’s research

This morn­ing, the Nation­al Repub­li­can Con­gres­sion­al Com­mit­tee fired off the lat­est in a series of attack mis­sives aimed at Unit­ed States Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Kim Schri­er of Issaquah, a pedi­a­tri­cian who has effec­tive­ly rep­re­sent­ed Wash­ing­ton’s 8th Con­gres­sion­al Dis­trict since the weeks fol­low­ing the 2018 midterms.

While it’s not unusu­al for the NRCC to say bad things about Schri­er, who they des­per­ate­ly want to defeat in 2022, this par­tic­u­lar broad­side was notable in that it also attacked NPI, and fault­ed Schri­er for spon­sor­ing our research!

Here’s the mis­sive, attrib­uted to NRCC oper­a­tive Court­ney Parella:

Kim Schri­er is using her cam­paign dol­lars to reveal her true colors.

Schri­er recent­ly donat­ed hun­dreds of dol­lars to [the] North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, a rad­i­cal­ly pro­gres­sive think tank that wants to raise tax­es, restrict gun own­er­ship, lim­it school choice, and auto­mat­i­cal­ly reg­is­ter crim­i­nals to vote…

Which isn’t that sur­pris­ing con­sid­er­ing she also sup­ports Speak­er Pelosi’s rad­i­cal, social­ist agen­da 100% of the time.

News­flash to the NRCC: Kim Schri­er has been sup­port­ing NPI’s work for over three years, since before she was even in Con­gress. Not only is she a spon­sor of our research, but she’s also spo­ken reg­u­lar­ly at our events.

Unlike her pre­de­ces­sor, Repub­li­can Dave Reichert, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Schri­er believes in acces­si­bil­i­ty, which is why she reg­u­lar­ly hosts town hall events for con­stituents and goes to events like our Sum­mer Anniver­sary Pic­nic. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Schri­er believes our state and region need insight­ful research and imag­i­na­tive advo­ca­cy to secure a bet­ter future for every­body. That’s a good thing, not a bad thing!

As for our leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties– pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform, gun safe­ty, pro­tect­ing pub­lic schools, ensur­ing every­one can exer­cise their right to vote — well, those are all ideas that our state needs to be suc­cess­ful, safe, and prosperous.

And they’re pop­u­lar! We know because we reg­u­lar­ly take the pulse of the Wash­ing­ton State elec­torate on the issues of the day.

Take gun safe­ty. Our polling has con­sis­tent­ly found broad sup­port for laws that require respon­si­ble gun own­er­ship. In fact, it’s one of the issues where we have found the most bipar­ti­san agree­ment among Wash­ing­ton State voters.

And actu­al elec­tion results have cor­rob­o­rat­ed our polling.

In the last sev­en years, vot­ers have passed three con­sec­u­tive gun safe­ty ini­tia­tives offered by our friends at the Alliance for Gun Responsibility.

Or con­sid­er pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform. We have six straight years’ worth of polling data show­ing that vot­ers sup­port levy­ing a cap­i­tal gains tax on the wealthy to ben­e­fit our pub­lic schools. There’s noth­ing “rad­i­cal” about requir­ing the wealthy to invest in Wash­ing­ton’s future. It is an Amer­i­can tra­di­tion for peo­ple to pool their resources accord­ing to their means to get things done. Tax­es have allowed us to accom­plish some incred­i­ble things as a coun­try — together!

Demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism, inci­den­tal­ly, is also an Amer­i­can tradition.

While there is no uni­ver­sal­ly agreed up on def­i­n­i­tion of social­ism — it means dif­fer­ent things to dif­fer­ent peo­ple — the basic con­struct under­pin­ning pret­ty much all forms of social­ism is shared pub­lic own­er­ship of resources, includ­ing the means of pro­duc­tion. Medicare, Social Secu­ri­ty, the VA, our nation­al parks, and even our mil­i­tary are exam­ples of sys­tems that could be called social­ist.

Repub­li­cans sure do love their scare words, but there’s noth­ing scary or rad­i­cal about the val­ues, prin­ci­ples, and pol­i­cy direc­tions our orga­ni­za­tion sup­ports. They are as Amer­i­can as apple pie and as main­stream as the music of The Boss.

What is rad­i­cal, though, is the anti-democ­ra­cy agen­da of the House Repub­li­can cau­cus. This is a cau­cus that — with very few excep­tions — has become a cult loy­al to the most dis­hon­est, dan­ger­ous, and destruc­tive per­son ever to occu­py the White House: Don­ald Trump. The par­ty’s very name has become a mis­nomer: it sad­ly does­n’t even want this coun­try to have a repub­li­can form of gov­ern­ment any­more. Instead, the par­ty has become a pro­po­nent of fascism.

Con­sid­er the actions of Kevin McCarthy, the top House Repub­li­can, in the wake of the Jan­u­ary 6th attack on the Unit­ed States Capi­tol by a mob incit­ed by Don­ald Trump and his many Repub­li­can enablers in Con­gress. It was appar­ent that day even to Repub­li­cans like Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger how low we had sunk as a nation and how close we had come to los­ing our democracy.

Instead of belat­ed­ly stand­ing up for Amer­i­ca’s future and the rule of law, McCarthy made a pil­grim­age to Mar-a-Lago and re-embraced Don­ald Trump, sid­ing with the very man whose actions had endan­gered him­self, his col­leagues, and the insti­tu­tion he serves over the Unit­ed States Con­sti­tu­tion and the Amer­i­can peo­ple. Then McCarthy engi­neered Liz Cheney’s ouster from cau­cus lead­er­ship, installing anoth­er Trump syco­phant in her place as cau­cus Chair.

This is the man the NRCC is work­ing every day to put into pow­er as Speak­er and sec­ond in the pres­i­den­tial line of suc­ces­sion. The NRCC answers to him and to his lieu­tenants, includ­ing Tom Emmer of Min­neso­ta, the cur­rent NRCC Chair.

Of course, McCarthy can only take pow­er if Repub­li­cans have a major­i­ty, which is why the NRCC wants so bad­ly to defeat Democ­rats like Kim Schrier.

Since the new dis­trict lines haven’t been drawn yet, the NRCC can’t know if the 8th will even be a swing dis­trict in the 2022 midterms. But they’re bet­ting it prob­a­bly will be. And so, their oper­a­tives are under instruc­tions to gen­er­ate as many attack mis­sives as they can against Democ­rats like Kim Schrier.

Even if they have noth­ing to work with, they still have to put out some­thing.

Hence, this nonsense.

Sor­ry, NRCC, but that dog won’t hunt.

Sunday, July 18th, 2021

Cascadia needs climate action: Mother Nature is not giving the Pacific Northwest a bye, and activism is not something we can mail in

Glob­al warm­ing and evi­dence of cli­mate dam­age first reg­is­tered on the nation­al con­scious­ness thir­ty-three years ago dur­ing the dry, blis­ter­ing sum­mer of 1988. The lack of nation­al response, of nation­al resolve, in years since is amaz­ing giv­en the sig­nals and warn­ings from Moth­er Earth.

I was vaca­tion­ing from Wash­ing­ton, D.C. report­ing duties at Cape Look­out on the Ore­gon Coast in July of ’88 and took the family’s black stan­dard poo­dle, Jen­nifer, for an ear­ly morn­ing walk on the beach.

We returned, flipped on the Today show, and the map behind weath­er­man Willard Scott showed two sliv­ers of Amer­i­ca below nine­ty degrees, the north coast of Maine and the north coast of Ore­gon and Washington.

That sum­mer, three decades ago, marked the first pre­dic­tion by America’s polit­i­cal pun­dits that the envi­ron­ment would be a major issue in the fall elec­tion. After all, George H.W. Bush was declar­ing, “I want to be the envi­ron­men­tal president.”

The qua­dren­ni­al pre­dic­tions nev­er seem to gel. So here we are in anoth­er hot­house sum­mer out West with flood­ing in the North­east and fifty to one hun­dred year storms strik­ing West­ern Europe. Europe is mov­ing away from hav­ing a pol­lut­ing econ­o­my. On this side of The Pond, how­ev­er, its defend­ers are mount­ing mas­sive resis­tance against Biden admin­is­tra­tion initiatives.

The map behind Willard Scott appeared to car­ry a mes­sage, that the warm­ing of the plan­et will be mel­low­er to live with in the Pacif­ic North­west than elsewhere.

That sen­ti­ment remains baked in around these parts despite the alarm­ing one hun­dred and sev­en degree (and high­er) tem­per­a­tures of late June, and a fire sea­son that has spread from remote forests of the Pasayten Wilder­ness to the edges of com­mu­ni­ties on both sides of the Cas­cade Crest.

With due note to the keep-our-cool urg­ings of UW atmos­pher­ic sci­ences pro­fes­sor Cliff Mass, here are non-sta­tis­tic naked eye obser­va­tions that we, too, are in what George Bush mem­o­rably described as “the deep doo-doo.”

The retreat of the glaciers

The Cole­man and Roo­sevelt Glac­i­ers on Mount Bak­er were advanc­ing when I was a kid. The advance was being mea­sured by UW engi­neer­ing pro­fes­sor Art Har­ri­son. It was a bear to get mea­sur­ing mark­ers across out­let streams and up to Bastille Ridge on the north side of the Roo­sevelt Glacier.

A very ter­ri­to­r­i­al bear was rip­ping up the mak­ers. The glac­i­er was fas­ci­nat­ing to observe, its advanc­ing ice tongues were curl­ing around either side of a cliff.

The glac­i­er has since retreat­ed about a quar­ter mile.

Of course, ice tongues advance and recede. But changes in my life­time have been dra­mat­ic. The Ander­son and Lil­lian Glac­i­ers in the Olympics have dis­ap­peared in the last two decades. The South Cas­cade Glac­i­er has large­ly melt­ed since the U.S. Geo­log­i­cal Sur­vey began mea­sur­ing it in 1950.

The region depends on its win­ter snow­pack, and glac­i­er melt in sum­mer, for stream flow, irri­ga­tion, fish­eries, hydro­elec­tric pow­er, nav­i­ga­tion and recreation.

It has fero­cious­ly fought efforts by the South­west to take our water, but now sees cli­mate tak­ing it.

The expansion of the pine beetle’s range

The mod­er­at­ing of tem­per­a­tures in British Columbia’s cold Chilcotin Plateau have quick­ened the breed­ing cycles of the pine bark beetle.

The infes­ta­tion is killing forests on a vast scale. Fly from Van­cou­ver to Ter­race: You will see below gray (dead) and orange (dying) trees.

Cana­di­an land man­agers are mak­ing a stand at the Con­ti­nen­tal Divide, hop­ing to turn back the infes­ta­tion before it rav­ages Canada’s bore­al forests. Bee­tles are also killing white pine bark pine trees from the Sier­ra Neva­da to the Rock­ies. Cones from the trees are a prime source of food for our endan­gered griz­zly bears.

The ever-lengthening fire season

The fire sea­son has grown longer and even reached our tem­per­ate rainforests.

A lot of us chuck­led a few years back when Forks was struck by drought – water could not be used to hose down log­ging trucks – and a tru­cu­lent for­est fire burned in the Queets Riv­er Valley.

It’s no laugh­ing mat­ter, though.

I once raft­ed the Stikine Riv­er, which flows from British Colum­bia down to South­east Alas­ka. We took to the water at the wet lit­tle town of Tele­graph Creek. Two years ago, part of Tele­graph Creek was destroyed in a for­est fire.

Vast fires have burned across Alas­ka, north­ern Cana­da and par­tic­u­lar­ly Siberia. Seat­tle has breathed smoke from Alas­ka fires.

Rising temperatures and rising seas

Ocean and riv­er tem­per­a­tures are ris­ing, at times risk­ing big sock­eye salmon runs in the undammed Fras­er River.

The acid­i­fi­ca­tion of our coastal waters (bril­liant­ly detailed in a Seat­tle Times series by Craig Welch) is such that shell­fish must be grown elsewhere.

Deprived of pro­tec­tion from sea ice, Alaskan coastal vil­lages are being hit hard by ear­ly sea­son storms off the Bering Sea. (Alaska’s U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Don Young is a cli­mate skep­tic.) Our cities are begin­ning to plan for ris­ing sea levels.

Even as waters advance, the envi­ron­ment and cli­mate recede as a nation­al issue as elec­tion day approach­es. Projects to address cli­mate dam­age have large­ly come from the state and local lev­el, not the fed­er­al level.

Wit­ness the May­ors’ Cli­mate Task Force that Seattle’s Greg Nick­els helped launch, and California’s mileage stan­dards for cars and trucks. The Gold­en State found its fuel effi­cien­cy stan­dards chal­lenged by the Trump regime.

Our Wash­ing­ton is enlight­ened, “the oth­er” Wash­ing­ton is not.

(Not yet, anyway.)

The envi­ron­men­tal move­ment, joy­ous­ly launched on Earth Day in 1970, has grown into a lob­by that rais­es lots of mon­ey and makes the act of con­tribut­ing feel good. Seat­tle is, for instance, a font of cash for the League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers. Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors fly here for fundrais­ers and fly out again.

The green-mind­ed activists of our state show their clout at the Wash­ing­ton Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers’ “Break­fast of Cham­pi­ons,” fill­ing the West­in ball­room each fall (except for last autumn, due to the coro­n­avirus pandemic).

Very good, but duty does not stop with check writing.

We need more indi­vid­ual com­mit­ment and col­lec­tive action.

Dur­ing my time as as a reporter and colum­nist, I’ve watched peo­ple singing “O Cana­da” at road block­ades against log­ging of old growth in British Columbia.

And Abo­rig­i­nal First Nations chiefs, in full robes, bust­ed for protest­ing the Trans Moun­tain Pipeline expan­sion (fuel­ing the huge tar sands oil fields in Alber­ta and bring­ing a sev­en­fold increase in tanker traf­fic on the Sal­ish Sea.

This is not to sug­gest that every­body go out and get bust­ed. Only that it’s not enough to let an orga­ni­za­tion or lob­by speak on your behalf.

Con­tribute, yes, but com­mit to call­ing and canvassing.

As this is writ­ten, I am wear­ing an “LCV for Tester” T‑shirt brought back from Mon­tana by Seat­tle friends Eric and Heather Redman.

The Red­mans are busy, pret­ty promi­nent folk, yet they took time in 2018 to can­vass as League of Con­ser­va­tion Vot­ers vol­un­teers in piv­otal Yel­low­stone Coun­ty, boost­ing the reelec­tion of Mon­tana Sen. Jon Tester.

Tester had infu­ri­at­ed Don­ald Trump, who came out not one, not two, not three, but four times to cam­paign against him. Mike Pence and Trump’s son Don Jr. were also dis­patched to afflict the Big Sky State.

Tester sur­vived in what’s become a very red state. With tele­vi­sion com­mer­cials lined up cheek-to-jowl, peo­ple count. And don’t count on net­work news or cable tele­vi­sion to ensure that cli­mate dam­age and cli­mate action get discussed.

The push for social and envi­ron­men­tal change in Amer­i­ca has long come from the bot­tom up. But we are liv­ing in a cli­mate emer­gency. Grass­roots activism is cru­cial to address­ing that emer­gency. It must con­tin­ue, and it must expand. But it also must be sup­port­ed in our nation’s cap­i­tal with seri­ous cli­mate action.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Nikkita Oliver has a big early lead over Sara Nelson for Seattle City Council Position #9

Two very dif­fer­ent can­di­dates appear like­ly to move on to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion in the race to suc­ceed may­oral hope­ful Lore­na González on the Seat­tle City Coun­cil this year, with one enjoy­ing a rather big ear­ly lead over the other.

Asked who they are vot­ing for in the con­test for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, 26% of 617 like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers said Nikki­ta Oliv­er, who ran for may­or in 2017 and fin­ished just behind the sec­ond place can­di­date, Cary Moon.

11% said Sara Nel­son, the co-own­er of Fre­mont Brewing.

6% said Bri­an­na Thomas, who, like Oliv­er and Nel­son, ran unsuc­cess­ful­ly for elect­ed office in Seat­tle in a pre­vi­ous cycle and is now try­ing again.

3% said they would vote for Corey Eich­n­er, while 1% said Xtian Gunther.

50% said they were not sure, and 5% said they would not vote.

Rebec­ca Williamson and Lind­say McHaffie received no sup­port in the poll.

Seattle City Council #9 poll finding

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9, 2021

Nikki­ta Oliv­er describes them­self as a com­mu­ni­ty orga­niz­er, cul­tur­al work­er, artist, and attor­ney run­ning on a plat­form of trans­for­ma­tive change.

“Nikki­ta has lived in Seat­tle since 2004 and has served as a com­mu­ni­ty sup­port and cul­tur­al work­er with Urban Impact, the Union Gospel Mission’s YROC (Youth Reach Out Cen­ter), the Urban Youth Lead­er­ship Acad­e­my, Seat­tle Urban Acad­e­my, Who’s Next?, Year Up, and Writ­ers in School,” their cam­paign web­site explains. They sup­port hous­ing for all, divest­ing from police to invest in com­mu­ni­ty, and envi­ron­men­tal, racial, and eco­nom­ic jus­tice as core pri­or­i­ties.

With the excep­tion of Tere­sa Mosque­da — who also received 26% sup­port in our sur­vey, for the city’s oth­er at-large coun­cil race — Oliv­er is our sur­vey’s best-per­form­ing can­di­date. That sug­gests that the work they have done to build a peo­ple-pow­ered cam­paign that res­onates with the vot­ers has been very effec­tive. Oliv­er is well posi­tioned to advance to the Novem­ber gen­er­al elec­tion next month.

Oliv­er’s most like­ly gen­er­al elec­tion oppo­nent is Sara Nel­son, who co-owns Fre­mont Brew­ing. Nel­son placed sec­ond in our sur­vey, as men­tioned, and is enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly backed by the Seat­tle Times edi­to­r­i­al board.

(Oliv­er, mean­while, is The Stranger’s pre­ferred can­di­date.)

Nel­son describes her­self as pro­gres­sive, prag­mat­ic, and an expe­ri­enced pol­i­cy­mak­er in addi­tion to a small busi­ness own­er. “Sara’s a pol­i­cy nerd who watch­es the Seat­tle Chan­nel for fun — real­ly! She served as a Leg­isla­tive Advi­sor on City Coun­cil for many years where she advanced land­mark leg­is­la­tion on envi­ron­men­tal, trans­porta­tion, and eco­nom­ic devel­op­ment pol­i­cy. She knows how pol­i­cy is made and how local gov­ern­ment should work,” her web­site says.

Nel­son is endorsed by many for­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­bers, from Richard Con­lin to Jan Dra­go, Tom Ras­mussen, Jean God­den, and Hei­di Wills, along with NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton, a for­mer State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive. She is the only oth­er can­di­date in this race with dou­ble-dig­it sup­port in our survey.

How­ev­er, an open­ing remains for Bri­an­na Thomas, Lore­na González’s chief of staff and an expe­ri­enced, well liked activist. Like in the oth­er Seat­tle city­wide races, there are a huge num­ber of unde­cid­ed vot­ers out there who are def­i­nite­ly plan­ning on vot­ing, but haven’t set­tled on a can­di­date yet.

Thomas isn’t that far behind Nel­son and could con­ceiv­ably secure the sec­ond place spot with a strong get out the vote oper­a­tion and a mes­sage that res­onates. She will need to improve her can­di­da­cy’s vis­i­bil­i­ty to bol­ster her chances in this elec­tion. Thomas is sup­port­ed by many Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty orga­ni­za­tions in her Coun­cil cam­paign and could lever­age that sup­port in the final weeks.

Our Top Two elec­tion sur­vey, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Mon­day, July 12th, 2021 through Thurs­day, July 15th, 2021.

Here are the exact ques­tions that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #9 are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list of can­di­dates as it was shown to respon­dents]

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 58%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 24%
  • Sara Nel­son: 10%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 5%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 2%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 1%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 87%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 3%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 2%
  • Sara Nel­son: 2%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 1%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 0%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%
  • Would not vote: 5%

COMBINED ANSWERS, BOTH QUESTIONS:

  • Not sure: 50%
  • Nikki­ta Oliv­er: 26%
  • Sara Nel­son: 11%
  • Bri­an­na K. Thomas: 6%
  • Corey Eich­n­er: 3%
  • Xtian Gun­ther: 1%
  • Rebec­ca L. Williamson: 0%
  • Lind­say McHaffie: 0%
  • Would not vote: 3%

Bal­lots in the August Top Two elec­tion are due back by Tues­day, August 3rd at 8 PM. A list of drop box loca­tions in Seat­tle and across Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is avail­able from King Coun­ty Elec­tions. Bal­lots can also be returned through the Unit­ed States Mail, but we rec­om­mend using a drop box.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office and is not aligned with any of the can­di­dates run­ning for elect­ed posi­tions in Seat­tle this year. No cam­paigns were involved in the design or exe­cu­tion of this survey.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Teresa Mosqueda well ahead of Kate Martin for Seattle City Council #8 with most not sure

First term Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Tere­sa Mosque­da is on track for reelec­tion this autumn and is like­ly to cruise to a sec­ond term in Novem­ber past a crowd of oppo­nents who sim­ply aren’t get­ting any trac­tion among Seat­tle vot­ers, a new poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute suggests.

26% of like­ly August 2021 Seat­tle vot­ers said they were vot­ing for Mosque­da, while 55% said they were not sure. The remain­ing respon­dents said either that they would not vote (3%) or picked one of Mosqueda’s opponents.

The chal­lenger who looks most like­ly to get through to Novem­ber and face Mosque­da is activist Kate Mar­tin, per­haps best known for the unsuc­cess­ful “Park My Viaduct” bal­lot mea­sure that Seat­tle vot­ers over­whelm­ing­ly reject­ed a few years ago. 6% of respon­dents said they were vot­ing for Martin.

Seattle City Council #8 poll finding

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8, 2021

Mar­t­in’s cam­paign is run­ning ads that ask Seat­tleites if they’ve “had enough,” but most of the vot­ers who have formed an opin­ion about the field of can­di­dates vying for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8 evi­dent­ly don’t agree.

Mosqueda’s oth­er chal­lengers are all under five percent.

Paul Felipe Glumaz and Bob­by Lind­sey Miller are tied for third place with 3% each. The oth­er can­di­dates either got 1% or received no sup­port in our poll, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Institute.

Our 2021 Top Two Seat­tle sur­vey has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Mon­day, July 12th, 2021 through Thurs­day, July 15th, 2021.

Here are the exact ques­tions that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8 this year are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list of can­di­dates as it was shown to respon­dents]

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 69%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 19%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 5%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 2%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 2%
  • Alexan­der White: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 1%
  • Jesse James: 0%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 0%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 81%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 9%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 2%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 1%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jesse James: 1%
  • Alexan­der White: 0%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 0%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Would not vote: 4%

COMBINED ANSWERS, BOTH QUESTIONS:

  • Not sure: 55%
  • Tere­sa Mosque­da: 26%
  • Kate Mar­tin: 6%
  • Paul Felipe Glumaz: 3%
  • Bob­by Lind­sey Miller: 3%
  • Alexan­der White: 1%
  • Ken­neth Wil­son: 1%
  • Jesse James: 1%
  • Jor­dan Eliz­a­beth Fish­er: 1%
  • Alex Tsimer­man: 1%
  • George Free­man: 0%
  • Bri­an Fahey: 0%
  • Would not vote: 3%

Tere­sa Mosque­da — who has a long and dis­tin­guished his­to­ry of involve­ment in Wash­ing­ton’s labor move­ment — was first elect­ed to the Seat­tle City Coun­cil in 2017, eas­i­ly defeat­ing rival Jon Grant. She received 121,192 votes (59.85%), while Grant received 81,302 votes (40.15%).

Mosque­da has broad and deep sup­port among labor, Demo­c­ra­t­ic, and pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions for her reelec­tion bid, with a long list of endorse­ments.

A tes­ti­mo­ni­al from U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Prami­la Jaya­pal, per­haps the most pop­u­lar office­hold­er in Seat­tle, graces the front page of Mosqueda’s reelec­tion web­site, which has an Accom­plish­ments page in addi­tion to a Pri­or­i­ties page.

Mosqueda’s top accom­plish­ment is the enact­ment of the Jump­start Seat­tle rev­enue recov­ery plan, which levied a tax on large employ­ers with pay­rolls of $7 mil­lion or more to fund essen­tial pub­lic ser­vices under finan­cial duress due to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. The tax has so far with­stood a chal­lenge from Seat­tle’s busi­ness com­mu­ni­ty, which has con­tend­ed that it is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al. A King Coun­ty Supe­ri­or Court judge dis­agreed; that rul­ing is being appealed.

The Stranger, which endorsed Grant four years ago, is now an enthu­si­as­tic backer of Team Tere­sa, with The Stranger Elec­tion Con­trol Board writ­ing:

“In our endorse­ment of her com­pe­ti­tion in 2017, we called Tere­sa Mosque­da a ‘self-styled con­sen­sus builder’ who would ‘ride into city hall on bold promis­es only to dis­ap­pear into mil­que­toast cen­trism.’ In her four years on the coun­cil, Mosque­da has proven us all wrong. We will eat crow, but not in front of oth­er crows, as we fear they may keep harass­ing SECB mem­ber Charles Mudede.”

The Seat­tle Times, mean­while, pub­lished a wide­ly crit­i­cized edi­to­r­i­al ear­li­er this week say­ing that it was mak­ing no endorse­ment in the race, but nev­er­the­less offer­ing some praise for Mosqueda’s first term on the Council.

“To her cred­it, Mosque­da has a rep­u­ta­tion for lis­ten­ing to the busi­ness inter­ests antag­o­nized by oth­er far-left coun­cil mem­bers,” the Times edi­to­r­i­al board wrote in its com­men­tary on the Posi­tion #8 race, which was prompt­ly dubbed a non-endorse­ment endorse­ment by sev­er­al commenters.

“She pushed to pro­vide pan­dem­ic emer­gency resources to res­i­dents, small busi­ness­es and child­care sites. Before join­ing the coun­cil, she helped write the suc­cess­ful ini­tia­tive for a high­er state min­i­mum wage, which this edi­to­r­i­al page sup­port­ed. She speaks up for port com­merce, which hap­pens to rely on union jobs. Mosque­da has envi­able polit­i­cal skills, but this list of pos­i­tives is too short to mer­it reelec­tion when the count of wrong­head­ed moves is so long.”

Hav­ing con­clud­ed that none of Mosqueda’s rivals are cred­i­ble oppo­nents, the Times end­ed its com­men­tary with a line that acknowl­edges the edi­to­r­i­al board expects Mosque­da to be reelect­ed this autumn to a sec­ond term: “Seat­tle deserves bet­ter. Mosque­da ought to try deliv­er­ing it more often.”

Mosqueda’s sup­port­ers say she has already deliv­ered for the peo­ple of Seat­tle and will con­tin­ue to if she is reelect­ed. She is the only can­di­date list­ed in Fuse’s Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide for Seat­tle City Coun­cil Posi­tion #8.

Though most vot­ers in our sur­vey said they were unde­cid­ed, we antic­i­pate the vast major­i­ty will ulti­mate­ly back Mosque­da when they go to vote.

Bal­lots in the August Top Two elec­tion are due back by Tues­day, August 3rd at 8 PM. A list of drop box loca­tions in Seat­tle and across Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is avail­able from King Coun­ty Elec­tions. Bal­lots can also be returned through the Unit­ed States Mail, but we rec­om­mend using a drop box.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office and is not aligned with any of the can­di­dates run­ning for elect­ed posi­tions in Seat­tle this year. No cam­paigns were involved in the design or exe­cu­tion of this survey.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

A three-way race for Seattle City Attorney: Pete Holmes barely ahead of two challengers

As the end of Fil­ing Week approached a cou­ple of months ago, three term incum­bent Seat­tle City Attor­ney Pete Holmes’ name was list­ed alone under the head­ing for that office, with seem­ing­ly no chal­lengers in sight and one ear­ly promi­nent chal­lenger hav­ing with­drawn from the race weeks before.

Then, with the Fri­day after­noon dead­line quick­ly draw­ing near, two oppo­nents emerged at last: Nicole Thomas-Kennedy and Ann Davison.

Both chal­lengers are right behind Holmes as vot­ing begins in the August 2021 Top Two elec­tion, with 53% of like­ly vot­ers not sure who they’re vot­ing for, a new poll con­duct­ed for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

Holmes does have a lead, but it’s very small.

There’s sim­ply not much dis­tance right now between his can­di­da­cy, which gar­nered 16% sup­port, and that of Thomas-Kennedy and Davi­son, who each earned the sup­port of 14% of respon­dents in the survey.

Seattle City Attorney poll finding

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for Seat­tle City Attor­ney, 2021

Holmes was eas­i­ly reelect­ed in 2017 and 2013, but this year could be a dif­fer­ent sto­ry, our sur­vey results sug­gest. Dis­sat­is­fac­tion with Holmes prompt­ed both The Seat­tle Times and The Stranger to recent­ly endorse his opponents.

The Times picked Davi­son, while The Stranger chose Thomas-Kennedy.

“Davi­son faces long odds; Holmes took 74.5% of the vote in 2017,” the Times edi­to­r­i­al board not­ed in its endorse­ment of her.

Long odds? Maybe, maybe not. Any of the pos­si­ble gen­er­al elec­tion matchups seem like they are on the table as pos­si­bil­i­ties at this junc­ture: Holmes vs. Davi­son. Holmes vs. Thomas-Kennedy. Thomas-Kennedy vs. Davison.

With the can­di­dates so close togeth­er and so many vot­ers unde­cid­ed, it’s just not pos­si­ble to project with con­fi­dence who will get through.

But it is strik­ing that an incum­bent who received three-fourths of the vote in his last reelec­tion and has been in office for twelve years only has 16% sup­port among like­ly vot­ers with just three weeks to go until Elec­tion Day.

Our Top Two elec­tion sur­vey, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Mon­day, July 12th, 2021 through Thurs­day, July 15th, 2021.

Here are the exact ques­tions that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for City Attor­ney this year are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list of can­di­dates as it was shown to respon­dents]

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 72%
  • Pete Holmes: 11%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 9%
  • Ann Davi­son: 8%

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 73%
  • Ann Davi­son: 8%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 7%
  • Pete Holmes: 6%
  • Would not vote: 5%

COMBINED ANSWERS, BOTH QUESTIONS:

  • Not sure: 53%
  • Pete Holmes: 16%
  • Nicole Thomas-Kennedy: 14%
  • Ann Davi­son: 14%
  • Would not vote: 4%

Among the unde­cid­ed vot­ers who made a selec­tion in the fol­low-up ques­tion, Davi­son was the top choice, fol­lowed by Thomas-Kennedy and then Holmes, with bare­ly any dis­tance between the can­di­dates. This is anoth­er indi­ca­tion that Holmes’ reelec­tion cam­paign could be in trouble.

Hav­ing won reelec­tion by huge mar­gins in the past, Holmes can afford to lose some sup­port and still return to office for a fourth term.

But again, it’s note­wor­thy that the vot­ers Change Research sur­veyed for us did­n’t come home to Holmes giv­en the chance (no pun intended).

The three can­di­dates each have dif­fer­ent emphases in their campaigns.

Thomas-Kennedy is run­ning on a plat­form of decrim­i­nal­iz­ing pover­ty, com­mu­ni­ty self-deter­mi­na­tion, green infra­struc­ture, law for the peo­ple, and end­ing sweeps.

“Every year the City Attor­ney choos­es to pros­e­cute pet­ty offens­es born out of pover­ty, addic­tion and dis­abil­i­ty,” her web­site says. “These pros­e­cu­tions are desta­bi­liz­ing, inef­fec­tive, and cost the City mil­lions each year.”

“We must dis­man­tle this waste­ful sys­tem of crim­i­nal punishment.”

Davi­son cites goals like “focus on improv­ing effi­cien­cies with­in divi­sion in regards to zon­ing” and “trans­form exist­ing Men­tal Health Court to spe­cial­ized Behav­ioral Health Court for cas­es that involve men­tal health, sub­stance use dis­or­der or dual diag­no­sis” as her civ­il divi­sion and crim­i­nal divi­sion pri­or­i­ties if elected.

“The City Attor­ney is a crit­i­cal link to pub­lic safe­ty, down­town and in our neigh­bor­hoods, decid­ing when to pros­e­cute many types of crim­i­nal activ­i­ty. We need bal­anced lead­er­ship that makes us smart on crime: proac­tive not reac­tive,” her web­site says. “We need a col­lab­o­ra­tive leader bring­ing actu­al compassion.”

Davi­son was an unsuc­cess­ful Repub­li­can can­di­date for statewide office last year. She ran for Lieu­tenant Gov­er­nor and was elim­i­nat­ed in the Top Two election.

The front page of Holmes’ reelec­tion web­site points to his endorse­ment in the Fuse Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide, which has this intro­duc­to­ry state­ment: “There are two pro­gres­sives run­ning for Seat­tle City Attor­ney who would bring dif­fer­ent approach­es to the office. Incum­bent Pete Holmes has earned more sup­port from local lead­ers and our Pro­gres­sive Vot­ers Guide part­ner organizations.”

“If re-elect­ed, Holmes has a pro­gres­sive vision for the role of city attor­ney in response to the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic and the move­ment for racial jus­tice,” Fuse’s Seat­tle City Attor­ney can­di­date entry reads.

“His pri­or­i­ties include improv­ing police account­abil­i­ty, gun safe­ty, and cre­at­ing a lev­el play­ing field in our legal sys­tem and city. To achieve these goals, Holmes pro­pos­es pass­ing stronger gun laws, reduc­ing exces­sive force on the part of the Seat­tle Police Depart­ment, vacat­ing mar­i­jua­na charges, and keep­ing peo­ple housed post-pan­dem­ic, among oth­er policies.”

Bal­lots in the August Top Two elec­tion are due back by Tues­day, August 3rd at 8 PM. A list of drop box loca­tions in Seat­tle and across Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is avail­able from King Coun­ty Elec­tions. Bal­lots can also be returned through the Unit­ed States Mail, but we rec­om­mend using a drop box.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office and is not aligned with any of the can­di­dates run­ning for elect­ed posi­tions in Seat­tle this year. No cam­paigns were involved in the design or exe­cu­tion of this survey.

Friday, July 16th, 2021

Bruce Harrell, Lorena González lead in 2021 Seattle mayoral race with many undecided

For­mer Seat­tle City Coun­cilmem­ber Bruce Har­rell and cur­rent Seat­tle City Coun­cil Pres­i­dent Lore­na González are the cur­rent top two can­di­dates in the Emer­ald City’s 2021 field of fif­teen may­oral con­tenders, with a plu­ral­i­ty unde­cid­ed, a new poll con­duct­ed this week for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute has found.

20% of 617 like­ly 2021 Top Two vot­ers in Seat­tle said they were vot­ing for Har­rell, while 12% said they were vot­ing for González. 10% said they were vot­ing for Colleen Echohawk, 6% said they were vot­ing for Jessyn Far­rell, and anoth­er 6% said they were vot­ing for Andrew Grant Hous­ton. 4% said they were vot­ing for Casey Sixkiller and anoth­er 4% said they were vot­ing for Arthur Langlie.

3% said they were vot­ing for Lance Ran­dall and 1% said they were vot­ing for James Don­ald­son. Anoth­er 1% said they were vot­ing for Bob­by Tucker.

The oth­er can­di­dates — Omari Tahir-Gar­rett, Clin­ton Bliss, Hen­ry Den­ni­son, Stan Lipp­mann, and Don Rivers — did not receive any sup­port in the survey.

32% of respon­dents (a plu­ral­i­ty) are undecided.

Mayor of Seattle poll finding, 2021

A visu­al of NPI’s poll find­ing for May­or of Seat­tle, 2021

The poll, which was con­duct­ed by Change Research for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, has a mod­eled mar­gin of error of 4.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence inter­val. All 617 respon­dents par­tic­i­pat­ed online. The poll was in the field from Mon­day, July 12th, 2021 through Thurs­day, July 15th, 2021.

Here are the exact ques­tions that we asked, and the respons­es that we received:

QUESTION: The can­di­dates for May­or of Seat­tle this year are list­ed below in the order that they will appear on the August Top Two bal­lot. Who are you vot­ing for?

[See list as it was shown to respon­dents]

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 54%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 15%
  • M. Lore­na González: 8%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 6%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 4%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 3%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 3%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 2%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 2%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 0%
  • James Don­ald­son: 0%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION ASKED OF UNDECIDED VOTERS ONLY: If you had to choose, who would you vote for?

ANSWERS:

  • Not sure: 62%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 8%
  • M. Lore­na González: 6%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 6%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 4%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 3%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 3%
  • James Don­ald­son: 2%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 2%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 1%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 1%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Would not vote: 2%

COMBINED ANSWERS, BOTH QUESTIONS:

  • Not sure: 32%
  • Bruce Har­rell: 20%
  • M. Lore­na González: 12%
  • Colleen Echohawk: 10%
  • Jessyn Far­rell: 6%
  • Andrew Grant Hous­ton: 6%
  • Casey Sixkiller: 4%
  • Arthur K. Lan­glie: 4%
  • Lance Ran­dall: 3%
  • James Don­ald­son: 1%
  • Bob­by Tuck­er: 1%
  • Omari Tahir-Gar­rett: 0%
  • Clin­ton Bliss: 0%
  • Hen­ry C. Den­ni­son: 0%
  • Stan Lipp­mann: 0%
  • Don L. Rivers: 0%
  • Would not vote: 1%

Bruce Har­rell — who the sur­vey crosstabs show is favored by old­er vot­ers — appears well posi­tioned to move on to the Novem­ber gen­er­al election.

Lore­na González’s hold on sec­ond place, mean­while, is more tenuous.

That’s because Colleen Echohawk came in just two points behind González. She was the only oth­er may­oral can­di­date besides Har­rell and González to reg­is­ter sup­port in the dou­ble dig­its in this survey.

Echohawk has clear­ly made a pos­i­tive impres­sion on Seat­tle vot­ers despite nev­er hav­ing run for office before. She can­not be count­ed out in this election.

González did just earn the sup­port of The Stranger, the city’s best known left lean­ing media out­let, and she has enthu­si­as­tic sup­port from the labor com­mu­ni­ty, so that could help her hold on to the sec­ond place spot. (A plu­ral­i­ty of respon­dents from union house­holds who have an opin­ion backed González.)

Still, Echohawk has an oppor­tu­ni­ty to con­tend for sec­ond place.

Jessyn Far­rell and Andrew Grant Hous­ton, mean­while, are tied for fourth place, with each receiv­ing 6%. While they can’t be count­ed out either, their chances of vault­ing into the top two seem much slim­mer than Echohawk’s.

The remain­ing can­di­dates all polled under 5% each or received no sup­port at all, as men­tioned above. They are all like­ly to be elim­i­nat­ed from con­sid­er­a­tion by vot­ers next month when the August Top Two elec­tion is certified.

King Coun­ty Elec­tions announced on Wednes­day that it had mailed over 1.4 mil­lion bal­lots to reg­is­tered vot­ers for the August Top Two election.

The depart­ment expects turnout of 40%, which would mean a return rate of two out of every five bal­lots. In 2019, the depart­ment notes we saw sum­mer turnout of 35% across King Coun­ty, while in 2017, it was 34%.

Turnout in Seat­tle will like­ly be high­er than the coun­ty as a whole.

Seat­tle vot­ers have a record of strong par­tic­i­pa­tion, and our sur­vey data shows that peo­ple are enthu­si­as­tic about vot­ing this sum­mer even if they don’t know who they’re vot­ing for yet. A whop­ping 88% of respon­dents said they “def­i­nite­ly” plan to vote, while only 8% said they will “prob­a­bly” vote. 4% said “maybe”.

(As stat­ed, the poll was of like­ly vot­ers, so any­one who said they weren’t vot­ing was thanked for their time and excused from the survey.)

Since near­ly a third of the like­ly vot­ers are unde­cid­ed with respect to their vote for may­or, the qual­i­ty, reach, and effec­tive­ness of the can­di­dates’ home stretch cam­paign­ing is going to mat­ter. Polls are snap­shots in time. This par­tic­u­lar dataset is a reflec­tion of the views of the Seat­tle elec­torate before bal­lots dropped.

There’s only three weeks left to go, yet those three weeks are when about one in three vot­ers indi­cat­ed to our poll­ster that they will be mak­ing a deci­sion about who they want to serve as Seat­tle’s chief exec­u­tive for the next four years.

Bal­lots in the August Top Two elec­tion are due back by Tues­day, August 3rd at 8 PM. A list of drop box loca­tions in Seat­tle and across Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Coun­ty is avail­able from King Coun­ty Elec­tions. Bal­lots can also be returned through the Unit­ed States Mail, but we rec­om­mend using a drop box.

NPI does not endorse can­di­dates for office and is not aligned with any of the can­di­dates run­ning for elect­ed posi­tions in Seat­tle this year. No cam­paigns were involved in the design or exe­cu­tion of this survey.

Thursday, July 15th, 2021

Right wing media figures and Republican elected officials could save lives and prevent illness by championing COVID vaccines

In the mid­dle of a glob­al pan­dem­ic that has already claimed the lives of mil­lions of peo­ple, what does it mean to be pro-life?

I’ve been pon­der­ing that ques­tion late­ly as I read sto­ry after sto­ry about the grow­ing vac­ci­na­tion divide in this coun­try. Pro­gres­sive com­mu­ni­ties like Red­mond, where NPI is based, have pop­u­la­tions that are fair­ly well pro­tect­ed against COVID-19 due to high vac­ci­na­tion rates, while con­ser­v­a­tive com­mu­ni­ties like Wal­la Wal­la are grap­pling with increas­ing cas­es and hos­pi­tal­iza­tions thanks to the trans­mis­sion of COVID-19’s high­ly infec­tious delta vari­ant by unvac­ci­nat­ed people.

The exis­tence of this vac­cine divide is a tragedy — a tragedy that does­n’t have to con­tin­ue. We have the means to pro­tect peo­ple — we just need peo­ple to get their shots. Peo­ple will get sick or die from COVID-19 who oth­er­wise would have lived or have fend­ed off the ill­ness if we don’t get more com­mu­ni­ties vaccinated.

Although there is no uni­ver­sal­ly agreed upon def­i­n­i­tion of pro-life, at least some right wing orga­ni­za­tions define the term as being “against the unjust tak­ing of human life” as opposed to just syn­ony­mous with we oppose repro­duc­tive rights.

“To be pro-life is to be against the unjust tak­ing of human life,” reads an essay writ­ten by Save the Storks. “This is why we oppose abor­tion, not because it is the only instance where human life is unjust­ly tak­en, but because it is one of the most wide­spread and because those affect­ed are the most defenseless.”

By that log­ic, should­n’t those who con­sid­er them­selves pro-life be mak­ing COVID-19 vac­cine advo­ca­cy a top, urgent priority?

COVID-19 is one of the most wide­spread threats to human life right now, and those who are unvac­ci­nat­ed are def­i­nite­ly the most defenseless.

There’s an oppor­tu­ni­ty right now to save a lot of lives from being unjust­ly tak­en by a dead­ly virus. A real­ly big oppor­tu­ni­ty. We no longer have the logis­ti­cal prob­lem of not hav­ing enough vac­cine dos­es. There’s plen­ty of sup­ply, there’s just not enough will­ing­ness in many com­mu­ni­ties to get vaccinated.

Over half a mil­lion Amer­i­cans have already died in this pan­dem­ic. Now we have vac­cines that pro­vide robust, excel­lent pro­tec­tion against the orig­i­nal per­mu­ta­tion of COVID-19 and its increas­ing­ly sin­is­ter vari­ants, delta includ­ed. Unlike Amer­i­cans, peo­ple in many oth­er coun­tries have no access to COVID-19 vaccines.

How can we get more Amer­i­cans who pre­dom­i­nant­ly use the right wing val­ues sys­tem in their polit­i­cal think­ing to get vaccinated?

This is a ques­tion that the Biden-Har­ris admin­is­tra­tion and weary pub­lic health lead­ers in every state are wrestling with right now.

“As the Delta vari­ant rips through con­ser­v­a­tive swaths of the coun­try, some elect­ed Repub­li­cans are fac­ing grow­ing pres­sure from pub­lic health advo­cates to speak out — not only in favor of their con­stituents being inoc­u­lat­ed against the coro­n­avirus but also against media fig­ures and elect­ed offi­cials who are ques­tion­ing the vac­cines,” The New York Times report­ed yesterday.

The NYT’s Jonathan Weis­man spoke to Sen­a­tor Mitt Rom­ney of Utah about the lack of pro-vac­cine advo­ca­cy in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics for his story.

“We don’t con­trol con­ser­v­a­tive media fig­ures so far as I know — at least I don’t,” Rom­ney told Weis­man. “That being said, I think it’s an enor­mous error for any­one to sug­gest that we shouldn’t be tak­ing vac­cines. Look, the politi­ciza­tion of vac­ci­na­tion is an out­rage and frankly moronic.”

Mean­while, Ken­tuck­y’s Mitch McConnell pro­nounced him­self confused.

“I’m per­plexed by the dif­fi­cul­ty we have fin­ish­ing the job,” McConnell said.

“If you’re a foot­ball fan,” the long­time top Sen­ate Repub­li­can con­tin­ued, using a grid­iron metaphor, “we’re in the red zone. But we’re not in the end zone yet. And we need to keep preach­ing that get­ting the vac­cine is important.”

Very nice sen­ti­ments. But mere­ly say­ing such things to news­pa­per reporters isn’t going to put vac­cine mis­in­for­ma­tion and dis­in­for­ma­tion in their place.

Wimpy respons­es just aren’t going to cut it. The harsh truth is that plen­ty of Repub­li­can vot­ers are going to die if more dras­tic mea­sures are not taken.

Mitt Rom­ney is right that he does­n’t con­trol con­ser­v­a­tive media figures.

But there is one per­son in Repub­li­can pol­i­tics who wields great influ­ence over both con­ser­v­a­tive media fig­ures and Repub­li­can mem­bers of Con­gress, and that’s Don­ald Trump. If Trump would just instruct his rabid cult fol­low­ers to get vac­ci­nat­ed, we’d see move­ment. Would every­one respond favor­ably? No, but we’d almost cer­tain­ly see a change in how Repub­li­can vot­ers feel about vaccines.

Trump isn’t going to lis­ten to Rom­ney, and prob­a­bly not McConnell either, but there are oth­er peo­ple he might lis­ten to, such as his eldest child, Ivan­ka Trump, who is wide­ly con­sid­ered the most lev­el head­ed of the Trump chil­dren, and the one who is arguably the most capa­ble of think­ing empathetically.

The likes of Rom­ney and McConnell are not pow­er­less. There is always a way. They could, for exam­ple, focus on find­ing peo­ple they have good rela­tion­ships with who are will­ing to lob­by the peo­ple who Trump is most like­ly to lis­ten to.

(It’s sad that I have to write a para­graph like this in 2021, but, this is where we’ve sunk to, unfor­tu­nate­ly. The Repub­li­can Par­ty has become a cult.)

Repub­li­can mes­sag­ing maven Frank Luntz, who has been help­ing Repub­li­cans com­mu­ni­cate with their base and with bicon­cep­tu­al vot­ers for decades, is among those who believe that Don­ald Trump could deliv­er the biggest win for vac­ci­na­tions in Repub­li­can cir­cles in the short­est amount of time.

And he’s in favor of hav­ing Pres­i­dent Biden weigh in.

“I think Joe Biden needs to say explic­it­ly, ‘Pres­i­dent Trump, tell your peo­ple to get vac­ci­nat­ed … If you won’t, explain why. And if you won’t, stop try­ing to take cred­it for devel­op­ing the vac­cine because what good is the vac­cine if peo­ple won’t get it,’” Luntz explained in com­ments report­ed by Politico.

The Politi­co sto­ry pro­ceed­ed to note, in its clos­ing para­graphs: “Luntz also offered some sug­ges­tions based on his lat­est focus group find­ings, which show an effec­tive way to reach reluc­tant pop­u­la­tions is through deploy­ing grand­par­ents to talk to their grand­kids and local phar­ma­cists to talk to their patients.”

“You got­ta keep try­ing,” [Luntz] said. “Because suc­cess saves lives.”

Indeed it does, and Luntz’s find­ings make sense. Suc­cess in pol­i­tics is deeply con­nect­ed to trust and iden­ti­ty. We know that peo­ple vote for who they trust and who they iden­ti­fy with. It makes sense that peo­ple would respond to peo­ple they have strong rela­tion­ships with. But grand­par­ents aren’t going to pitch their grand­kids on get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed if they don’t believe in the vac­cines themselves.

This is where Trump could be a dif­fer­ence maker.

If Trump would start speak­ing favor­ably about the COVID-19 vac­cines and tell peo­ple to get one, that could influ­ence Fox’s pro­gram­ming, and, in turn, Fox’s audi­ence, who are pri­mar­i­ly elder­ly peo­ple who lean right in their politics.

We know that Lau­ra Ingra­ham and Tuck­er Carl­son are busy beat­ing their anti-vac­ci­na­tion drums these days, which is result­ing in need­less death and ill­ness. (Sean Han­ni­ty, for his part, men­tioned plan­ning to get vac­ci­nat­ed in a show that aired a few weeks back and urged view­ers to “talk to your doctor”.)

It’s entire­ly pos­si­ble that Trump won’t respond to any lobbying.

But it sure seems like it’s worth it to try.

After all, Don­ald Trump is rather shame­less and nar­cis­sis­tic. He is, as Bernie Sanders has said, a patho­log­i­cal liar. He could be an Orwell character.

Trump can turn on a dime and change his posi­tion. We’ve seen it before, over and over and over again. Trump has changed his posi­tions on issues like repro­duc­tive rights and gun safe­ty to appeal to the peo­ple he wants to manipulate.

When old asso­ciates have got­ten in trou­ble (life Jef­frey Epstein) Trump has claimed either not to know them or to have bare­ly known them.

When Trump has fall­en out with peo­ple who used to work for him (like Michael Cohen) he has fierce­ly dis­owned them as hav­ing absolute­ly noth­ing to do with him or his pur­port­ed suc­cess, despite abun­dant evi­dence to the contrary.

Trump has proven that he is total­ly up for revi­sion­ist his­to­ry games. If he said tomor­row, “Get vac­ci­nat­ed — I did. I’ve always been a strong pro­po­nent of vac­cines. I’ve always cham­pi­oned them vocal­ly. I’m the rea­son we have vac­cines, it was my doing!” — there real­ly would be noth­ing shock­ing about that.

It would just be the new par­ty line decreed by the man atop the cult.

Regard­less of whether the manip­u­la­tor-in-chief can be manip­u­lat­ed into offer­ing pro-vac­cine mes­sages at his ral­lies and media events, those Repub­li­cans who do believe in sci­ence and in the vac­cines owe it to them­selves, their fam­i­lies, their friends, and their coun­try to demon­strate leadership.

That means hav­ing dif­fi­cult and awk­ward con­ver­sa­tions about get­ting vac­ci­nat­ed. It means not tip­toe­ing around the issue, but tack­ling it head on.

Every life that can be saved should be saved.

Those who pro­fess them­selves to be pro-life have, by their own admis­sion, a moral oblig­a­tion to do what they can to pre­vent the unjust tak­ing of life. The fail­ure to inoc­u­late against a dead­ly virus that has already killed mil­lions eas­i­ly qual­i­fies as an unjust and total­ly pre­ventable tak­ing of life.

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Most of Texas’ House Democrats just left the state to stop a voter suppression bill

The major­i­ty of the House Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus in Texas decamped from the state capi­tol in Austin today to the fed­er­al Dis­trict of Colum­bia in an effort to block Gov­er­nor Greg Abbot­t’s allies in the Texas Leg­is­la­ture from pass­ing a sweep­ing vot­er sup­pres­sion bill that would dis­en­fran­chise mil­lions of Texans.

By walk­ing out, Demo­c­ra­t­ic state rep­re­sen­ta­tives are leav­ing the Texas State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives with­out a con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly required quo­rum, which means that the House can­not con­duct any floor busi­ness, includ­ing pass­ing the vot­er sup­pres­sion bill that Abbott has demand­ed the Leg­is­la­ture send him.

Democ­rats used char­tered air­craft to trans­port them­selves out of state, pre­sum­ably to ensure a smooth and easy trip to the Dis­trict of Columbia.

There, the Demo­c­ra­t­ic rep­re­sen­ta­tives intend to wait out Abbott and the Repub­li­cans. It could be a long wait, as Abbott might sim­ply call anoth­er spe­cial ses­sion to extend the clock that Democ­rats are try­ing to run out.

“We will not stand by and watch Repub­li­cans slash our right to vote, silence the voic­es of Tex­ans of col­or, and destroy our democ­ra­cy — all to pre­serve their own pow­er,” said Gilber­to Hino­josa, chair­man of the Texas Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty, explain­ing why the par­ty’s state rep­re­sen­ta­tives took the action that they did.

Vot­ing rights aren’t all that is at stake. Democ­rats actu­al­ly have the abil­i­ty to block Texas from regress­ing on mul­ti­ple fronts by leav­ing the state.

“Mon­day’s walk­out will endan­ger a host of oth­er con­ser­v­a­tive pri­or­i­ties that Abbott added to the agen­da of the spe­cial ses­sion that began Thurs­day: bor­der secu­ri­ty, trans­gen­der stu­dent-ath­letes, crit­i­cal race the­o­ry, abor­tion reg­u­la­tions and com­plaints that social media com­pa­nies are cen­sor­ing con­ser­v­a­tives,” Nicole Cobler Chuck Lin­dell and John C. Moritz wrote for the Austin Amer­i­can-States­man.

Abbott and top Repub­li­cans react­ed angri­ly to the walk­out, pep­per­ing their com­ments with insults and threats and demand­ing capitulation.

In the com­ing days, we can expect to hear a lot about how awful these Demo­c­ra­t­ic state rep­re­sen­ta­tives are from right wing media fig­ures, with absolute­ly no admis­sion or men­tion of the fact that in Ore­gon, Repub­li­cans have used the exact same tac­tic to block leg­is­la­tion that they do not like. 

You won’t find any nation­al Repub­li­cans con­demn­ing their Ore­gon brethren, of course, because it’s okay if you’re a Repub­li­can (this is known as the IOKIYAR prin­ci­ple for short.) As far as Repub­li­cans are con­cerned, walk­outs are only bad and only con­demnable when done by leg­isla­tive Democrats.

In most states, a minor­i­ty walk­out would actu­al­ly have no real effect on a leg­isla­tive body’s abil­i­ty to func­tion because a quo­rum is a major­i­ty. The par­ty that has the major­i­ty can thus always ful­fill its state con­sti­tu­tion­al quo­rum require­ments. This is the case in Wash­ing­ton, but not in Ore­gon or Texas.

Since Texas has super­ma­jor­i­ty quo­rum require­ments, out­num­bered leg­isla­tive Democ­rats have lever­age. But they can only use their lever­age if they’re not in Texas. If they are in Texas, they risk being arrest­ed and trans­port­ed back to the Capi­tol by the Sergeant-At-Arms or Texas law enforce­ment dep­u­tized by the Sergeant-At-Arms. Out­side of Texas, Abbott, his ally Dade Phe­lan (R‑Beaumont) and Texas law enforce­ment offi­cers lack jurisdiction.

In D.C., Texas House Democ­rats hope to raise aware­ness of what Abbott and Phe­lan are try­ing to do to vot­ing rights in Texas, and lob­by in sup­port of the For The Peo­ple Act, which Sen­ate Repub­li­cans recent­ly filibustered.

Vice Pres­i­dent Kamala Har­ris con­grat­u­lat­ed the law­mak­ers on their move.

“I applaud them stand­ing for the rights of all Amer­i­cans and all Tex­ans to express their voice through their vote, unen­cum­bered,” she said in com­ments made from Detroit. “They are lead­ers who are march­ing in the path that so many oth­ers before did, when they fought and many died for our right to vote.”

Lever­ag­ing unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic quo­rum require­ments to pro­tect vot­ing rights seems about the best pos­si­ble use of what is essen­tial­ly a fil­i­bus­ter­ing type of tac­tic. Democ­ra­cy in Texas will all but dis­ap­pear if Repub­li­cans suc­ceed in their aim of pre­vent­ing peo­ple who don’t sup­port their agen­da in the Lone Star State from vot­ing in 2022 and future elec­tion cycles.

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Canada gets its first Indigenous Governor General, weeks ahead of expected snap election call by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

Cana­da is get­ting a new Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al, the cer­e­mo­ni­al head of state who rep­re­sents Queen Eliz­a­beth II in Ottawa. Mary Simon, an Inu­it leader, will be the first in the job to come from Canada’s Abo­rig­i­nal First Nations peoples.

“Ms. Simon’s career has always been one of break­ing down bar­ri­ers: Today, after one hun­dred and fifty-four years, our coun­try takes an his­toric step,” said Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau. “I can­not think of a bet­ter per­son to meet the moment.”

Justin Trudeau with Mary Simon

Justin Trudeau with Mary Simon. Pho­to: Sgt Johanie Maheu, Rideau Hall, OSGG-BSGG, Gov­ern­ment of Canada.

The appoint­ment comes in touchy cir­cum­stances. Pre­vi­ous Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al Julie Payette, a for­mer Cana­di­an astro­naut, resigned part­way through her five-year term after an inves­tiga­tive report described a tox­ic work­place and tem­per­me­n­tal boss at Rideau Hall, the Gov­er­nor General’s res­i­dence in Ottawa.

Cana­di­ans are also engaged in painful soul search­ing fol­low­ing dis­cov­ery of hun­dreds of human remains at the British Colum­bia and Saskatchewan sites for for­mer native res­i­den­tial schools, to which young native boys and girls were forcibly tak­en from their native vil­lages and for­bid­den to speak their native lan­guages. The results: High sui­cide rates, deaths dur­ing epi­demics, and ram­pant sex­u­al and emo­tion­al abuse.

Simon, a for­mer Cana­di­an Ambas­sador to Den­mark, spoke of her chal­lenge in diplo­mat­ic terms: “The past is some­thing we have to come to terms with but I am going to look for­ward to ensure Cana­di­ans togeth­er will be build­ing a bet­ter Cana­da and I think that is my impor­tant role.”

The selec­tion by Justin Trudeau received for­mal assent from Her Majesty Queen Eliz­a­beth II. Start­ing four decades ago, under the Prime Min­is­ter’s father Prime Min­is­ter Pierre Elliott Trudeau, Canada’s long-dom­i­nant Lib­er­al Par­ty has named a suc­ces­sion of regal women to be the roy­al rep­re­sen­ta­tive. The appoint­ments have expand­ed the sense of Cana­da as a mul­ti­cul­tur­al country.

The first woman to serve as Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al was Mme. Jeanne Sauve, a Que­bec polit­i­cal leader and for­mer House of Com­mons Speak­er. Sub­se­quent gov­er­nors gen­er­al have includ­ed Adri­enne Clark­son, a CBC broad­cast­er and refugee from Japan­ese-occu­pied Hong Kong, the first Chi­nese Cana­di­an in the post.

(Clark­son and long­time com­pan­ion John Ral­ston Saul were hasti­ly wed just before her appoint­ment was announced.)

Doc­u­men­tary film­mak­er Michaelle Jean, a Hait­ian immi­grant whose fam­i­ly fled the regime of Fran­cois “Papa Doc” Duva­lier, served in the post from 2005 to 2010.

The Gov­er­nor General’s job is to sum­mon, pro­rogue and dis­solve par­lia­ment, usu­al­ly on instruc­tions by the Prime Min­is­ter. They deliv­er the government’s pro­gram in an annu­al Speech from the Throne, sub­ject of much jest dur­ing years when Vic­to­ria was dump­ing raw sewage into the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al gives roy­al assent so par­lia­men­tary bills become law and serves as Com­man­der in Chief of the Cana­di­an Armed Forces. (Adri­enne Clark­son remains colonel-in-chief of Princess Patricia’s Cana­di­an Light Infantry.)

The Gov­er­nor Gen­er­al steers clear of pol­i­tics, as does the queen in London.

What this means is the Great White North has both a head of gov­ern­ment, and a cer­e­mo­ni­al head of state. The roy­als fre­quent­ly drop in from across The Pond.

On one vis­it, Queen Eliz­a­beth dropped a hock­ey puck cen­ter ice at a Van­cou­ver Canucks exhi­bi­tion game while Prince Philip ded­i­cat­ed the Khutzey­ma­teen Griz­zly Bear Sanc­tu­ary north of Prince Rupert.

New­ly­weds Prince William and Kate bet­ted down at the remote Sko­ki Lodge in the back­coun­try of Banff Nation­al Park. Prince Har­ry and Meghan began their self-exile stay­ing at sea­side digs near Sooke on Van­cou­ver Island.

Mary Simon does not speak French, one of Canada’s two offi­cial lan­guages. She is flu­ent in Inuk­i­tat, which is not a lan­guage of busi­ness in Ottawa. The lan­guage defi­cien­cy – Simon is learn­ing French – has revived a joke about the gar­bled syn­tax of one for­mer prime min­is­ter. Jean Chre­tien, the quip goes, was Canada’s first prime min­is­ter to speak nei­ther of his country’s offi­cial languages.

One of Mary Simon’s first tasks may be to dis­solve the House of Com­mons. Trudeau is con­sid­er­ing a snap nation­al elec­tion, rid­ing his country’s COVID-19 recov­ery in hopes of win­ning a major­i­ty of the 338 seats in parliament.

The Lib­er­als under Trudeau won a sur­prise major­i­ty in 2015, oust­ing the Con­ser­v­a­tive Par­ty gov­ern­ment of Prime Min­is­ter Stephen Harper.

Dogged by scan­dal alle­ga­tions, the Lib­er­als came up short in the 2019 gen­er­al elec­tion with one hun­dred and fifty-sev­en seats. They were wiped out in the prairie provinces of Alber­ta and Saskatchewan.

They have since formed a minor­i­ty gov­ern­ment, depen­dent on par­lia­men­tary sup­port from the left-lean­ing New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Par­ty to stay in power.

Recent polls show the Lib­er­als in posi­tion to regain a majority.

They lead in pop­u­lous Ontario and are poised to pick up seats in Quebec.

The Lib­er­als’ one strong­hold in West­ern Cana­da is met­ro­pol­i­tan Van­cou­ver, where they hold eleven House of Com­mons seats.

Three Cana­di­an pre­miers have called elec­tions dur­ing the COVID-19 cri­sis. All have been returned to pow­er. The best show­ing was by the provin­cial New Democ­rats under British Colum­bia Pre­mier John Hor­gan, who took fifty-sev­en of eighty-sev­en seats in the British Colum­bia Assem­bly.

Trudeau has lav­ished gov­ern­ment spend­ing on social ser­vices dur­ing the coro­n­avirus pan­dem­ic. Dur­ing the worst of the cri­sis, the PM would emerge each morn­ing from a twen­ty three room “cot­tage” on grounds of Rideau Hall – his offi­cial res­i­dence was under ren­o­va­tion – and report to the nation. He did not pull rank. With hair salons shut across Cana­da, Trudeau grew ever shaggier.

He has also kept the U.S.-Canada bor­der closed since March of 2020, although a reopen­ing is pos­si­ble lat­er this month.

The move kept Cana­da shield­ed from the Trump regime’s chaot­ic COVID-19 response and a death toll in “the States” that has topped 600,000.

The Con­ser­v­a­tives dis­like and denounce Trudeau but have pre­sent­ed lit­tle by way of a pro­gram to rouse the country.

New par­ty leader Erin O’Toole has not caught on in the polls, his pub­lic expo­sure lim­it­ed by COVID-19. He has embarked on a West­ern tour, stop­ping at the Cal­gary Stam­pede and cam­paign­ing in B.C. and Saskatchewan.

British Colum­bia is like­ly a three-way bat­tle­ground. The Lib­er­als and New Democ­rats each hold eleven of the province’s forty-two seats in the House of Com­mons. The Con­ser­v­a­tive have sev­en­teen seats, main­ly in rur­al rid­ings (elec­toral dis­tricts) while the Green Par­ty retained two seats in the 2019 election.

The Greens are show­ing signs of col­lapse. A Green MP from New Brunswick has decamped to the Lib­er­al Par­ty. Bit­ter inter­nal con­tro­ver­sy has bro­ken out with accu­sa­tions of Israel-bash­ing and anti-Semi­tism. New par­ty leader Annamie Paul has kept her job, but does not have a seat in Parliament.

Dur­ing his years as Prime Min­is­ter – from 1968 to 1984, save for one nine-month stretch of Con­ser­v­a­tive rule – the Lib­er­als under Justin Trudeau’s father Pierre Trudeau won three major­i­ty gov­ern­ments, and sur­vived as a minor­i­ty gov­ern­ment with sup­port from the New Demo­c­ra­t­ic Party.

It has become a tra­di­tion in Cana­di­an pol­i­tics. When­ev­er the fed­er­al New Democ­rats prop up a fed­er­al Lib­er­al gov­ern­ment, the Lib­er­als appro­pri­ate pop­u­lar NDP pol­i­cy pro­pos­als and then cap­ture NDP seats in the next election.

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