Offering daily news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Poll Watch: De-Escalate Washington’s I-940 enjoys overwhelming support among voters

An initiative that would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation and mental-health training in addition to changing the legal standard for use of deadly force enjoys overwhelming support among voters, a new poll has found.

De-Escalate Washington, the coalition spearheading the initiative, announced today that it had commissioned EMC Research to gauge public support for the measure. EMC’s survey of seven hundred and forty likely Washington voters was in the field from February 8th-15th. The firm read the ballot title to respondents and found that 68% of likely voters support the measure, while 21% are opposed.

The poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.6%.

NPI is a coalition member and has taken a position supporting Initiative 940.

The coalition’s poll results are very similar to NPI’s findings from June of 2017, when we also read the ballot title to voters. This was the text of our question:

There may be an initiative on next year’s ballot concerning law enforcement. The description reads as follows: This measure would require law enforcement to receive violence de-escalation, mental health, and first-aid training, and provide first-aid; and change standards for use of deadly force, adding a “good faith” standard and independent investigation. If this measure were to appear on the 2018 statewide ballot, would you definitely vote in favor, probably vote in favor, probably vote against, or definitely vote against it?

Answers were as follows:

  • Yes: 69%
    • Definitely vote in favor: 45%
    • Probably vote in favor: 24%
  • No: 28%
    • Probably vote against: 14%
    • Definitely vote against: 14%
  • Undecided: 2%

NPI’s survey of 887 likely 2018 Washington State voters was in the field from June 27th-28th, 2017; all respondents participated via landline. Our poll has a margin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% confidence level.

Here is a chart showing how the two surveys compare.

Voter support for Initiative 940: Poll comparison
Secretary of State Kim Wyman announced last month that Initiative 940 had qualified as an initiative to the Legislature for 2018.

The Legislature has three options:

  • Adopt I-940, in which case it would become law;
  • Do nothing and let it go to the ballot for voters to consider;
  • Send it to the November 2018 ballot with an alternative.

The Senate Law & Justice Committee and House Public Safety Committee will hold a joint hearing on the measure tomorrow in Olympia at 7 PM.

Victory! Bill to levy capital gains tax gets “do pass” recommendation from House Finance

A bill that would make Washington State’s upside down tax code more just and equitable by levying a capital gains tax on the wealthy has just been reported out of the House Finance Committee with a “do pass” recommendation.

SHB 2967, prime sponsored by Committee Chair Representative Kris Lytton (D-40th District: Bellingham, San Juan Islands, Whatcom and Skagit counties) would impose a seven percent tax on long-term capital gains. Retirement accounts, residential dwellings, family farms, and timberland would be exempt from the tax. Consequently, only about 48,000 of the state’s wealthiest taxpayers would pay it.

A substantial chunk of the revenue from the proposed capital gains tax would be paid by just two individuals: Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos, who are among the world’s richest men. Gates’ father William Gates, Sr. is an ardent proponent of progressive tax reform; he has long urged state legislators to make the tax code fairer.

Currently, low income families pay as much as 17% of their income in state and local taxes, while wealthy families pay less than 3% of their income in taxes.

Legislators have known about this disturbing disparity for years, but haven’t done anything about it. But this session, by introducing SHB 2967, House Democrats have signaled that they want to change that sad state of affairs.

Revenue from the capital gains tax would be used to reduce the property tax increase for K-12 public schools approved last year at the insistence of the Senate Republicans. The capital gains tax proposed in the bill thus represents a much-needed new funding source for public education that is based on ability to pay.

All six Democratic members of the Finance Committee (Kris Lytton, Noel Frame, Larry Springer, Laurie Dolan, Gerry Pollet, and Sharon Wylie) voted in favor of the bill. The committee’s five Republican members (Terry Nealey, Ed Orcutt, J.T. Wilcox, Cary Condotta, Drew Stokesbary) all voted nay.

NPI testified in favor of SHB 2967 last Friday, noting that 57% of Washingtonians surveyed last June support a capital gains tax. 44% of the total surveyed said they strongly supported a capital gains tax, while only 41% said they were opposed.

NPI has been asking Washingtonians about their support for a capital gains tax on the wealthy for three consecutive years and has found a majority of respondents in support each year, with strong support of 43% or 44% every year.

Victory! Washington State House sends Breakfast After The Bell to Governor Inslee

One of the bills long stymied by the Senate Republicans in their graveyard of progress has finally left the Legislature and is now on its way to Governor Inslee.

2ESHB 1508, known to many as Breakfast After The Bell, has been given one last stamp of approval by the Washington State House following changes to the bill by the Senate. Now it is on its way to Governor Inslee for his signature.

Sponsored by Representative Monica Jurado Stonier, 2ESHB 1508 would direct high-needs schools in Washington to provide meals to students who aren’t getting enough to eat at home after the school day has begun.

“Nearly 300,000 kids in Washington state live in food–insecure homes and almost half of Washington’s 1.1 million public school students qualify for free and reduced price meals at school,” the House Democratic caucus noted in its press release celebrating passage of the legislation in the House of Representatives.

“Breakfast After The Bell offers nutritious meals to students without interrupting instructional time,” the release explains.

“Breakfast programs for low-income children are reimbursed in part or full by the federal government, and currently have low utilization rates. Breakfast After The Bell is expected to increase participation in those existing programs. By moving breakfast after the bell, instead of before, students will receive a healthy meal without having to stand in line and miss instructional opportunities.”

The roll call on final passage of 2ESHB 1508 was as follows:

Roll Call
2ESHB 1508
Student meals & nutrition
Final Passage as Amended by the Senate
2/19/2018

Yeas: 87; Nays: 8; Excused: 3

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Doglio, Dolan, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, Muri, Nealey, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Dent, Dye, Kraft, McCaslin, Orcutt, Shea, Taylor, Vick

Excused: Representatives McDonald, Morris, Pike

Sadly, eight House Republicans voted against the bill. Were it not for their opposition, the bill could have passed unanimously. But at least most of the House Republican caucus joined all of the Democrats in voting yes.

NPI thanks every legislator who voted in favor of passing Breakfast After The Bell. No child should be coming to school hungry and unready to learn. This bill will improve the well-being of many children, and its passage deserves to be celebrated.

LANDMARK VICTORY: Washington State Senate votes to abolish the death penalty!

This may be the greatest triumph yet of the 2018 legislative session.

In a landmark victory for human rights and dignity, the Washington State Senate made history today by approving legislation that would abolish the death penalty, ending the barbaric practice of executing people as a punishment for crimes.

Senate Bill 6052, prime sponsored by Republican Maureen Walsh and requested by Attorney General Bob Ferguson, passed with the support of twenty-one Democratic senators and four Republican senators.

In a statement, Governor Jay Inslee praised the Senate for approving SB 6052.

“I would like to thank Sens. Maureen Walsh and Reuven Carlyle, and Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who have been great allies in the fight to end the death penalty in Washington state. There has been growing, bipartisan support for ending Washington’s death penalty, and the Senate today voted to do just that. I know this is an emotional issue and people are moved by deeply-held beliefs and values.

“When I put a moratorium on the use of capital punishment in 2014, I hoped it would create space for a discussion about the unequal application of this law, the enormous costs of seeking this punishment and the uncertainty of closure for victims’ families. I hope Washington joins the growing number of states that are choosing to end the death penalty.”

“Today the Washington State Senate took a historic, bipartisan vote, passing Attorney General-request legislation to eliminate the death penalty and replace it with life in prison without the possibility of parole,” said Attorney General Bob Ferguson. “Thank you to legislative leaders and advocates who worked so hard to make this historic vote happen. There’s more work to do — Speaker Chopp and the state House now have the opportunity to abolish our broken death penalty.”

“In the past year, prominent Republican officials came forward to support abolishing the death penalty – former Attorney General Rob McKenna and King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg,” Ferguson added. “I want to thank them for contributing their perspective to this debate.”

“For me, there are many compelling reason why Washington should join the nineteen other states that have eliminated the death penalty,” said Senator Jamie Pedersen (D-43rd District), the chair of the Senate Law & Justice Committee.

Pedersen, who has championed abolition on both sides of the dome, went on to explain that the death penalty is indefensible. “It is unfairly administered; expensive; and unavailable in wide swaths of our state,” he said. “Those convicted of aggravated first-degree murder should die in prison with no hope of parole. The taxpayers do not need to spend millions of dollars to hasten that death.”

“This is a difficult and serious public issue, and a personal decision for each legislator,” said Senator Reuven Carlyle, D-36th District.

“And in this discussion, we offer no personal judgments, no moral criticism and no righteousness against those with whom we disagree.”

“But my personal religious conviction leaves me unable to support a policy that is clearly applied inequitably across our nation and that I believe does not represent our best values of grace. For nine years as a legislator I have led efforts to eliminate the death penalty in favor of life in prison.”

“Today’s vote represents an evolution in thinking about the death penalty and I am grateful that we are making meaningful progress toward that goal.”

The roll call on SB 6052 was as follows:

Roll Call
SB 6052
Death penalty elimination
3rd Reading & Final Passage
2/14/2018

Yeas: 26; Nays: 22; Excused: 1

Voting Yea: Senators Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Walsh, Warnick, Wellman

Voting Nay: Senators Angel, Bailey, Becker, Braun, Brown, Conway, Ericksen, Fortunato, Hobbs, Honeyford, King, O`Ban, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Sheldon, Short, Takko, Van De Wege, Wagoner, Wilson, Zeiger

Excused: Senator Baumgartner

The team at NPI is overjoyed by the passage of Senate Bill 6052.

With today’s vote, our Senate has loudly declared that human rights matter in Washington State. We thank each and every senator who voted for abolition. We are particularly grateful to Republican Senators Brad Hawkins, Joe Fain, Mark Miloscia, Maureen Walsh, and Judy Warnick for their aye votes.

Without them, this bill would not have passed.

Book Review: “Fifty Million Rising” explains how women are changing the Muslim world

Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi is that rare book that does everything it sets out to do, then goes beyond it.

Zahidi’s look at the cohort of “The Generation of Working Women Transforming the Muslim World” doesn’t contradict itself, but golly is it large and containing multitudes. It couldn’t be anything less and still true, spanning thirty Muslim-majority countries from North Africa all the way to Southeast Asia.

Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi

Fifty Million Rising by Saadia Zahidi (Hardcover, NationBooks/Hachette)

As a Pakistani woman from a Muslim family, Zahidi only briefly centers the narrative on herself, contrasting the sort of opportunities and education her grandmothers had, then the Ph.D. that her own mother earned and the goals her family encouraged her to follow, with broader culture.

By doing this, she imbues her subsequent stories about other people and the subject of women’s education and work — and the barriers to them that still exist in the Muslim world — with the perspective of a familial understanding rather than that of the typical, well-meaning but still foreign, writer wielding an anthropological gaze.

This pays off as she travels to sixteen countries, conducting more than two hundred interviews to understand the ways in which Muslim women have made gains, especially in education; have come into the workforce in the economies; and are changing and being changed by the modern world.

Never in my life would I have imagined that getting a job at McDonald’s could be fulfilling, affirming work for a person in their early twenties, but for a contemporary Pakistani woman, it often is, and the multinational corporation values female labor because women value the opportunity to demonstrate their worth beyond marriage material or child production and thus are punctual, hard workers.

This particular anecdote, including McDonald’s being a middle-class status symbol that strenuously protects women from customer and co-worker sexual harassment, lay far beyond my wildest fantasies before reading this book.

For an interested layperson, the primary utility of Fifty Million Rising is to complicate your view of 1.25 billion people who we tend to only find characterized as an alien, homogeneous bloc — hostile or downtrodden or unfairly slandered, but, regardless, so poorly understood that the diversity within and between Muslim societies gets flattened till all its humanity is wrung out.

On this level, Zahidi’s book is continually shocking when all you’re doing in consuming Western media about the Muslim world: terrorists, war, black-garbed head-to-toe women who are victims of monstrous patriarchy.

We’re well-aware Saudi Arabian women are prohibited from going out in public without meeting a dress code of modesty, not allowed walk unescorted, and, at least until later this year, drive at all.

Yet less well-publicized is that half of all university-age Saudi students get a tertiary education, and about half of those are women.

This complicates the picture we’re passively encouraged to have of an Islam synonymous with barbarism and misogyny.

Zahidi is no apologist, though; as in other places in the Muslim world, often those university degrees are used more to mark the women as eligible potential brides than ever translated into productive work.

But as a result, they also then have the autonomy to divorce their husband if he chooses to take another wife — something their mothers couldn’t have chosen — and to provide for their children if they’re widowed.

More typically, women with education and skills can contribute to the household income in order to achieve the standards of middle-class consumption that continue to pervade from culture, travel, living abroad.

William Gibson is famously attributed with the quote, “The future is already here, it’s just unevenly distributed.”

That’s not necessarily a thing he said and doesn’t actually make sense, but it feels true, at least with technology. We think Luddites can’t turn back the clock while we understand social reactionaries can.

So let’s instead say the past isn’t even past.

When Zahidi describes how Muslim women are emerging into public spaces with the buying power and accompanying social earth-shaking that entails, that first seems retrograde rather than the present. But the parallels are undeniable when reading about late nineteenth century white women in the United Kingdom and America gaining access to the public through shopping for themselves at department stores.

Later, Zahidi examines the added burden women have when they take on winning bread for the family without being about to share the weight of household chores, and it’s imminently familiar to what American women have experienced since Second Wave Feminism in the 1970s.

The way the so-called “gig economy” is radically altering how people of uncertain finances can augment their incomes more flexibly, how women often arrive at being primary earners changing the power dynamic in their marriages, and how men resent “all of the money” the government spends on women at their expense is entirely contemporary and familiar.

Likewise, it’s easy to sneer when reading that the thirty Muslim-majority nations Zahidi looks at have managed only seventeen-percent female representation in their national-level legislatures until you compare that to the current U.S. Congress.

In scope, Zahidi manages to demonstrate how much diversity there is in each place she travels to and whose statistics she compares, but what I don’t think she intended and still achieved so successfully was providing stark examples of how misogyny exists around the world, with the subtle and obvious ways it impacts women’s lives everywhere.

None of it is a direct criticism of our own society in the United States, but I don’t know what else you can feel when Zahidi describes the experience of seeing Benazir Bhutto elected prime minister of Pakistan and what it meant for South Asian girls in the late eighties to know they could accomplish anything they wanted.

Or how work becomes low-paid when it becomes predominantly feminine, such as in their example, accounting.

Zahidi accomplished something really impressive with Fifty Million Rising, without succumbing to pollyannish assumptions of the future or avoiding the structural prescriptions nations need to include if they want to get the most out of half of their populations for the economic benefit of all.

She wrote a book that’s not only incredibly interesting in each detail and perspective but also engrossing on the largest scale, country to country, generation to generation. And again, this is all in less than three hundred pages.

if you’re at all interested in feminism, Islam, or the global economy, get yourself a copy of this book. There is a lot of awful stuff going on in the world, but as this book shows us, not everything that’s happening is bad.

Victory! Washington’s House overwhelmingly votes for net neutrality at the state level

Net neutrality may be in grave peril at the federal level, but states like Washington are stepping up to protect the idea of a free and open Internet.

By a vote of ninety-three to five, the House of Representatives on Friday adopted legislation that would safeguard net neutrality at the state level. SHB 2282, prime sponsored by State Representative Drew Hansen (D-23rd District: Bainbridge Island) would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling lawful content. It would also prohibit “paid prioritization” schemes.

“The net neutrality rules have been protecting a free and open internet for some years now, and today’s vote shows we have broad bipartisan support for maintaining these protections for Washington consumers even after they go away at the federal level,” said Hansen in a statement.

Hansen worked to build support for the bill with his Republican colleague Representative Norma Smith of Whidbey Island.

“This is about preserving a fair and free internet so all Washingtonians can participate equally in the 21st century economy,” said Smith.

“I am heartened by the overwhelming show of support this bill received today, and am proud to have worked closely with Representative Hansen to ensure we are protecting everyone in Washington state from the unintended consequences of a consolidation of power,” she added. “Net neutrality is an issue of tremendous importance that will matter today, tomorrow and generations from now. We have to get this right, and today was a good first step.”

We strongly agree and we thank Representatives Hansen and Smith for bringing this bill to the floor and ensuring it sailed out of the House with strong support.

The roll call on SHB 2282 was as follows:

Roll Call
SHB 2282
Net neutrality
Final Passage
2/9/2018

Yeas: 93; Nays: 5

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Caldier, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kraft, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, McCaslin, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Taylor, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Volz, Walsh, Wylie, Young, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representatives Buys, Dye, Stokesbary, Vick, Wilcox

Five Republicans — Vincent Buys, Mary Due, Drew Stokesbary, Brandon Vick, and J.T. Wilcox — voted against the bill. Every other member of the House voted aye.

The House passed a different net neutrality bill last session, but it went nowhere in the Senate because Senate Republicans were not interested in it.

Now that the Senate is under Democratic management, the bill has a good chance of passing and reaching Governor Inslee’s desk. We’ll certainly be doing our part to make that happen. Net neutrality is the key to keeping the Internet free and open.

Victory! Automatic voter registration has passed the Washington State Senate

Another day, another victory for voting rights.

Minutes ago, in a rare Saturday session, the Washington State Senate resoundingly passed a bill that provides for automatic voter registration, removing yet another barrier to voting in our great state. E3SSB 6353 (the E3SSB stands for Engrossed Third Substitute Senate Bill, what a mouthful) passed by a vote of thirty-four to thirteen. Two members of the Senate did not vote on final passage.

“Voting is a right, not a privilege,” said Senator Sam Hunt (D-22nd District: Olympia), the prime sponsor of the bill. “We need to make voting as easy as possible for every citizen in Washington and that starts with registration.”

“We now have the technology to make it seamless, so why wouldn’t we? Automatic voter registration will increase the opportunity to register and vote without endangering the security of the election process.”

E3SSB 6353 is legislation requested by Governor Inslee, and as such, it has a House companion, 2SHB 2595, which was placed on the House’s floor calendar by the Rules Committee on Thursday, where it continues to await floor debate and a vote.

“It is our most fundamental duty to make sure our democracy is accessible to every single eligible voter,” Hunt added in his statement. “This legislation is just one more bill in a larger push to expand access to democracy in every corner of our state.”

The roll call on E3SSB 6353 was as follows:

E3SSB 6353
Automatic voter registration
Senate vote on 3rd Reading & Final Passage
2/10/2018

Yeas: 34; Nays: 13; Excused: 2

Voting Yea: Senator Billig, Braun, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Fain, Fortunato, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, O’Ban, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Sheldon, Takko, Van De Wege, Warnick, Wellman, Zeiger

Voting Nay: Senator Angel, Bailey, Becker, Brown, Ericksen, Honeyford, King, Padden, Rivers, Schoesler, Short, Wagoner, Wilson

Excused: Senators Baumgartner and Walsh

Every Democratic Senator voted aye. The Senate Republicans were split. Nine crossed over to support the bill: John Braun, Joe Fain, Phil Fortunato, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, Steve O’Ban, Tim Sheldon, Judy Warnick, and Hans Zeiger.

The Senate Democratic caucus noted in its bill passage press release that the Senate has also passed the Washington Voting Rights Act, Same Day Voter Registration, and Andy Billig’s DISCLOSE Act. These bills are collectively known as the State Senate’s “Access to Democracy” package. They have support in the House as well.

Passage of automatic voter registration is an adopted 2018 NPI legislative priority, and NPI supported and participated in the recently-held Democracy Lobby Day to advocate for these bills in Olympia along with the League of Women Voters of Washington, Fix Democracy First, and other allies.

NPI has been on record in support of automatic voter registration for many years. In fact, I wrote a column for Reporter Newspapers calling for automatic voter registration way back in June of 2009:

Instead of creating hoops that Washingtonians have to jump through in order to be able to vote, our Legislature should get to work on making the Evergreen State the first in the nation to have true automatic voter registration.

The technology is in place to make such a system possible; for example, the state now has a central voter database maintained by the Secretary of State, and SB 5270 makes it possible for a voter’s registration information to migrate with them when they move within the state.

Any Washingtonian over eighteen who applies for a license to drive should be automatically added to the rolls, and those not of age should be automatically added on their eighteenth birthdays, unless they explicitly opt not to [or are not a citizen].

It should also be possible for anyone who is eligible to register at any time — even on Election Day — if they don’t happen to be already.

Our election laws should be based on the assumption that people want to vote, not that they don’t want to.

Automatic voter registration is just what we need to break down the modern- day barriers to voting that are artificially dampening voter turnout and hurting the vibrancy of our democracy.

It’s taken a long time to get to automatic voter registration, but it’s finally happening. Oregon did beat Washington to the punch when Governor Kate Brown signed the country’s first automatic voter registration bill into law, but that’s okay… it’s good for Washington and Oregon to be in friendly competition with each other to get progressive ideas enacted into law.

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) to accept Lynn Allen Award at NPI’s 2018 Spring Gala

How can we protect and expand the freedoms that we cherish so deeply at a time when powerful forces in this country are determined to contract them?

That’s a question progressive activists and organizations all over this country are wrestling with as the 2018 midterms approach.

It’s tough to go on offense when the right wing has complete control of the federal government — but it’s not impossible.

Progress is possible even in the most trying and difficult of times, particularly at the state and local level. For example, look at what’s happening in Olympia, where the Washington State Senate has been transformed from a graveyard of progress into a productive, caring, and deliberative legislative body thanks to the arrival of Senator Manka Dhingra (D-45th District: Redmond, Kirkland, Woodinville, Sammamish).

That transformation did not just happen on its own.

Lynn Allen

Founding NPI board member Lynn Allen (Photo: Lincoln Potter)

Underpinning every hard-won progressive victory is a story… a story of people knocking down barriers and overcoming obstacles, often over a period of many years.

These stories deserve to be told, and their heroes celebrated.

In this age of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, it’s hard to keep a cheerful attitude, which the closing words of NPI’s Creed remind us to do.

Nevertheless, that must be our aim.

It’s easier to keep a cheery outlook when one has reason to be hopeful and prepared to work for change. Finding that motivation is the key.

We know that we can find inspiration in the good works of our best and brightest people. Recognizing them is valuable not just because of the importance of saying thank you, but because of the power of their example.

That’s why, last year, NPI decided to create the Lynn Allen Awards. Named for our founding boardmember Lynn Allen, who tragically died of ovarian cancer in 2011, these awards honor people who have made extraordinary contributions to progressive politics and public policy.

Each year, we recognize two recipients of different genders with Lynn Allen Awards. Lynn was a big believer in thanking people for their work, so it is truly fitting that these awards are named for her.

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)

Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.)

We are delighted today to announce our first 2018 Lynn Allen Award honoree: Major General Paul Eaton (Retired), the Managing Director of the VetVoice Foundation. Major General Eaton served our country with distinction for over three decades as a commanding officer in the United States Army, with combat and post-combat assignments in Iraq, Bosnia, and Somalia.

Here’s an extended biographical sketch:

As a major general he was assigned to Iraq from 2003 to 2004 as Commanding General of the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team (CMATT), where he designed, manned, trained and equipped the Iraqi armed forces for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and the security forces for the Interior Ministry. Prior to that assignment, he commanded the Army’s Infantry Center and was Chief of Infantry for the Army.

Eaton has appeared on a number of news and commentary programs including Face the Nation, Hardball and all major networks.

During the 2008 campaign season, he advised candidates for both congressional and presidential campaigns.

For the past five years, he served as a senior advisor to the National Security Network. Additionally, Eaton has recently participated with the Department of Energy in non-proliferation work.

He holds a bachelor’s degree from West Point and a master’s in French Political Science from Middlebury College. He is married to PJ, has two sons and a daughter, all soldiers.

In May of 2008, we were honored to have Major General Eaton (Ret.) as the keynote speaker at our very first Spring Fundraising Gala in Redmond, which was a spectacular success. We are delighted to welcome him back to the gala this year to recognize him not only for his exemplary service to our nation, but for his substantial and deeply appreciated contributions to progressive causes.

Major General Eaton showed great courage in 2007 when, shortly after retiring from the Army, he decided to speak out in opposition to the Bush administration’s counterproductive plans to escalate the occupation of Iraq. He followed that up by working with Darcy Burner and other Democratic congressional candidates to craft what became known as A Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq.

At VoteVets.org and the VetVoice Foundation, Major General Eaton works with Northwest Progressive Institute President Rick Hegdahl to give a voice to veterans on matters of national security, veterans’ care, and everyday issues that affect the lives of those who served and their families.

Eaton continues to fearlessly speak out in defense of our country’s values, as he did this week after The Washington Post reported that Donald Trump has instructed the Pentagon to plan a grand military parade to stroke his ego.

Here’s what Eaton had to say about that (emphasis is his):

Donald Trump has continually shown himself to have authoritarian tendencies, and this is just another worrisome example.

For someone who just declared that it was “treasonous” to not applaud him, and for someone who has, in the past, admired the tactics of everyone from Saddam Hussein to Vladimir Putin, it is clear that a military parade isn’t about saluting the military — it is about making a display of the military saluting him.

The military is not Donald Trump’s to use and abuse in this way. Our military is the very best in the world — they are not to be reduced to stagecraft to prop up Donald Trump’s image. Any commander in chief who respects the traditions of the military would understand that.

Unfortunately, we do not have a commander in chief, right now, as much as we have wannabe banana republic strongman.

In an interview with WBUR, Eaton added:

This is not about honoring the troops. This is about the president the United States. This has nothing to do with honoring the troops. Parades serve a useful purpose in the soldierization phase of developing a soldier. We do it in basic training, we do it at West Point. Once in a rare, rare moon do we do it, ’91 was the last time we did such a parade to recognize the return of our troops [from the Gulf War] with Gen. [Norman] Schwarzkopf in the lead. That’s the last time we did this. Parades are a huge cost, cost in time and cost in money, and we don’t have enough of either for the circumstances that we’re in today.

We at NPI proudly associate ourselves with Major General Eaton’s remarks and thank him for his boldness and candor. At a time when our country’s values are under attack on an unceasing basis, it is imperative that voices like his be heard. We will not allow our democracy to be taken from us without a fight.

Readers, we hope you feel the same way. We invite you to join us on Saturday, April 7th, as we recognize Major General Paul Eaton (Ret.) with a Lynn Allen Award.

Here are the details for this year’s gala:

  • What: NPI’s 2018 Spring Fundraising Gala
  • Where: Renton Community Center
  • When: Saturday, April 7th, 2018 | Reception at 5:30 PM; program at 7 PM
  • Who: Join the NPI team and Lynn Allen Award recipient Paul Eaton
  • Why: Because an effective resistance needs organizations testing progressive ideas and building permanent infrastructure

Be inspired to continue working for a progressive future for our region and country: join us on April 7th at the Renton Community Center! Follow this link to securely buy your individual, household, or living lightly ticket.

Victory! Washington State House votes to toughen penalties for corporate crimes

Corporations that break the law in Washington State could soon be forced to pay more appropriate penalties for their wrongdoing thanks to the work of State Representative Mike Pellicciotti (D-30th District: Federal Way). By a vote of ninety-seven to one, the Washington State House of Representatives today voted to pass ESHB 2362, which would substantially increase fines for corporate crimes.

Presently, the fine for a corporate crime is just ten thousand bucks. Current law dates all the way back to the Roaring Twenties — specifically, 1925.

“It’s ridiculous that the legislature has failed to update corporate criminal penalties for nearly a century,” said Pellicciotti. “It is past time to hold corporate entities accountable when managerial actions harm the public.”

Pellicciotti’s bill would do two things, as assessed by nonpartisan staff:

  • Expand the liability standards and penalties for crimes committed by corporations to include other specified business entities.
  • Increase maximum fines for crimes committed by business entities.

The maximum penalties for a misdemeanor would increase to $50,000 for a misdemeanor, $250,000 for a gross misdemeanor, $750,000 for a Class C felony, and $1 million for Class A or B felony. This bill represents a big step forward for corporate accountability, and we thank Representative Pellicciotti for sponsoring it.

This bill makes so much sense that only Republican voted against it. Every other member of the House backed it with their aye vote, as the roll call shows:

Roll Call
ESHB 2362
Business entities/crime
Final Passage
2/8/2018

Yeas: 97 Nays: 1

Voting Yea: Representatives Appleton, Barkis, Bergquist, Blake, Buys, Caldier, Chandler, Chapman, Clibborn, Cody, Condotta, DeBolt, Dent, Doglio, Dolan, Dye, Eslick, Fey, Fitzgibbon, Frame, Goodman, Graves, Gregerson, Griffey, Haler, Hansen, Hargrove, Harmsworth, Harris, Hayes, Holy, Hudgins, Irwin, Jenkin, Jinkins, Johnson, Kagi, Kilduff, Kirby, Klippert, Kloba, Kraft, Kretz, Kristiansen, Lovick, Lytton, MacEwen, Macri, Manweller, Maycumber, McBride, McCabe, McCaslin, McDonald, Morris, Muri, Nealey, Orcutt, Ormsby, Ortiz-Self, Orwall, Pellicciotti, Peterson, Pettigrew, Pike, Pollet, Reeves, Riccelli, Robinson, Rodne, Ryu, Santos, Sawyer, Schmick, Sells, Senn, Shea, Slatter, Smith, Springer, Stambaugh, Stanford, Steele, Stokesbary, Stonier, Sullivan, Tarleton, Tharinger, Valdez, Van Werven, Vick, Volz, Walsh, Wilcox, Wylie, Young, Chopp

Voting Nay: Representative Taylor

This bill unfortunately went right into the Senate Republicans’ graveyard of progress after it passed the House last year, but now that the Senate has a Democratic majority, it is assured of receiving the hearing it deserves — and hopefully a floor vote in the Senate too — after it makes its way across the Dome.

POSTSCRIPT: And just like that, ESHB 2362 has its hearing date. The bill will be heard in the Senate Law & Justice Committee on Thursday, February 15th at 10 AM.

Victory! State Senate passes bill to ban invasive fish net pens in Washington waters

The second month of the 2018 Legislative Session is underway in Washington State, and we continue to see productive floor action on both sides of the Dome, but especially on the Senate side, where bills have been flying out of the Senate Republicans’ graveyard of progress thanks to the new Democratic majority.

Today, the Senate passed a bill that will safeguard our waters and aquatic lands for future generations. Sponsored by Kevin Ranker, Second Substitute Senate Bill 6086 would do the following, as analyzed by nonpartisan legislative staff:

  • Prohibit the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from entering into a new, or renewing or extending an existing, aquatics land lease or use authorization that involves marine finfish aquaculture of Atlantic salmon.
  • Prohibit the Department of Fish and Wildlife (DFW) and the Department of Ecology (ECY), under its water pollution control authority, from authorizing or permitting activities or operations involving marine finfish aquaculture of Atlantic salmon after the expiration date for the existing aquatic lands lease.
  • Create a reoccurring facility inspection process for operations involving marine finfish aquaculture of Atlantic salmon.

“In the months since the escape of hundreds of thousands of invasive Atlantic salmon from the net pen failure, we have learned the extent of the mismanagement and negligence of Cooke Aquaculture,” said Ranker (D-40th District: Orcas Island). “This sort of careless behavior is unacceptable for any company in Washington state. The state ban is a strong stance to ensure the protection of our marine environment and native salmon populations in the Salish Sea.”

More than two-thirds of the Senate voted in favor of 2SSB 6086. Here’s the roll call:

Roll Call
2SSB 6086
Nonnative finfish release
3rd Reading & Final Passage
2/8/2018

Yeas: 35; Nays: 12; Excused: 2

Voting Yea: Senators Angel, Bailey, Baumgartner, Billig, Carlyle, Chase, Cleveland, Conway, Darneille, Dhingra, Ericksen, Fain, Fortunato, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hawkins, Hobbs, Hunt, Keiser, Kuderer, Liias, McCoy, Miloscia, Mullet, Nelson, O`Ban, Palumbo, Pedersen, Ranker, Rolfes, Saldaña, Sheldon, Van De Wege, Wellman, Zeiger

Voting Nay: Senators Becker, Braun, Brown, Honeyford, King, Padden, Rivers, Short, Takko, Wagoner, Warnick, Wilson

Excused: Senators Schoesler, Walsh

The vote did not break down along party lines. One Democrat voted against the bill (Dean Takko), while close to half of the Senate Republicans voted for it, including Jan Angel, Barbara Bailey, Michael Baumgartner, Doug Ericksen, Phil Fortunato, Brad Hawkins, Mark Miloscia, Steve O’Ban, Tim Sheldon, and Hans Zeiger.

Governor Jay Inslee has indicated he will sign the bill if the House approves it.

“It is no longer acceptable for the people of the state of Washington to expose our waters to the threats posed by non-native Atlantic salmon in net pens,” said the Governor at his Thursday media availability. “We need to transition and phase out the leases that now exist because this is a risk that is intolerable and unacceptable.”

Public Lands Commissioner Hillary Franz, who heads the Department of Natural Resources, has already responded boldly to the disastrous failure of Cooke Aquaculture’s Cypress Island fish farm last summer. DNR has terminated Cooke’s Cypress Island lease, as well as its lease at Port Angeles.

“Cooke has flagrantly violated the terms of its lease at Cypress Island,” Franz said in a statement published last week. “The company’s reckless disregard endangered the health of our waters and our people, and it will not be tolerated.

“On behalf of all Washingtonians, and in fulfillment of my duty to protect our state’s waters, I am terminating the lease.”

DNR says it is currently reviewing Cooke’s other Atlantic salmon facilities at Rich Passage and Hope Island. When that review process is complete, Commissioner Franz will assess DNR’s legal options.

NPI thanks Commissioner Franz and DNR for moving to shut down Cooke Aquaculture’s horribly managed Atlantic salmon fish farms.

It is abundantly clear that Cooke is an irresponsible company that has not only violated its lease agreements with the state, but threatened the health of our marine ecosystems. Cooke needs to be permanently banished from Washington’s waters, and the practice of farming nonnative fish disallowed.

Last autumn, NPI called for the kind of ban that passed the Washington State Senate today in a post authored by our Vice President-Secretary Diane Jones. We’re very, very pleased to see the Senate follow up by passing 2SSB 6086.

Now it’s time for the House of Representatives to follow suit.

The curious logic of Professor Adam Carroll

Last week, Indiana University School of Medicine professor Adam Carroll filed a piece for the New York Times with a provocative premise. Titled Preventive care saves money? Sorry, it’s too good to be true, it argued that investing in preventative care doesn’t actually yield savings. Here’s its opening and closing:

The idea that spending more on preventive care will reduce overall health care spending is widely believed and often promoted as a reason to support reform. It’s thought that too many people with chronic illnesses wait until they are truly ill before seeking care, often in emergency rooms, where it costs more. It should follow then that treating diseases earlier, or screening for them before they become more serious, would wind up saving money in the long run.

Unfortunately, almost none of this is true.

[…]

In the short term, less smoking would lead to decreased spending because of reductions in health care spending for those who had smoked. In the long run, all of those people living longer would lead to increases in spending in many programs, including health care. The more people who quit smoking, the higher the deficit from health care — barely offset by the revenue from taxing cigarettes.

But money doesn’t have to be saved to make something worthwhile. Prevention improves outcomes. It makes people healthier. It improves quality of life. It often does so for a very reasonable price.

There are many good arguments for increasing our focus on prevention. Almost all have to do with improving quality, though, not reducing spending. We would do well to admit that and move forward.

Sometimes good things cost money.

We can agree that good things usually do cost money, but this seems like especially curious logic to get to that conclusion. Yes, if fewer people smoke, more people will live longer to get sick of other things and die instead from that, requiring treatment along the way that might be expensive. But this is sort of like arguing that fire alarms don’t save money in the housing market because the homes that don’t burn down within one hundred years become more expensive to maintain.

True, it saved an awful lot of money when that New York State lottery winner put off going to the doctor till he found out he had stage four cancer.

Since he couldn’t afford to catch it earlier, he just straight up died, skipping right past all that expensive chemotherapy, hospital, and hospice care, for months or years of remission and return.

By Carroll’s reasoning, we really should count improved access to reproductive autonomy as monumental healthcare savings because it means you’re not only saving the cost of an unplanned pregnancy or abortion, you’re also saving the economy from a lifetime of future healthcare costs.

Euthanasia on demand, especially for people over 80, would involve lots of cost-saving, and what care could possibly be more preventative than making sure no one ever needs to use health services again?

So that’s just not a useful or really even an honest way to look at things, even if that’s what the studies he references were saying, and I’m not convinced they were, especially when it comes to emergency room visits increasing.

Massachusetts: The implementation of health care reform in Massachusetts was associated with a small but consistent increase in the use of the ED across the state. Whether this was due to the elimination of financial barriers to seeking care in the ED, a persistent shortage in access to primary care for those with insurance, or some other cause is not entirely clear and will need to be addressed in future research.

Oregon: We did not find that Medicaid caused a statistically significant decrease in emergency-department use for any of the conditions we considered; indeed, once again the vast majority of point estimates are positive. We found statistically significant increases in emergency-department use for several specific conditions, including injuries, headaches, and chronic conditions.

ACA overall: We found that total ED use per 1,000 population increased by 2.5 visits more in Medicaid expansion states than in nonexpansion states after 2014. … Among the visit types that could be measured, increases in ED visits were largest for injury-related visits and for states with the largest changes in Medicaid enrollment.

Although Oregon’s increase in ED visits appears to be permanent previous research suggests that the increase in ED visits may be temporary because of pent-up demand. Future research should revisit how ED visits continued to change beyond the first year of implementation in 2014.

‘When people can afford to go to the Emergency Room without bankrupting themselves, they’re more likely to.’ Well, yes, and an increase in people using the Emergency Room still seems entirely consistent with lowering healthcare spending overall because, for a lot of people, their preventive care is going in to get something checked out when it’s really hurting instead of about to kill them.

Indeed, expanding Medicaid meant more people with injuries requiring emergency care actually bothered to go get it.

Carroll dismisses a study that found that all sorts of preventative care would lead to savings in healthcare of ‘only’ $3.7 billion per year in 2006.

But it saves money to accomplish this each year:

What’s more, the increased costs of [investing in an evidence-based package of preventive services] would be recouped. Put differently, more than two million people would have been alive during 2006—or 780 people in a city of 100,000—if preventive care had been widely delivered in prior years, all without an increase in net cost.

‘People healthy enough not to die’ tends to involve cost-savings in the sense that a lot of money has been invested in a given person already in education and job skills. ‘People healthy enough not to be ill for extended periods of time or permanently disabled’ saves money, too. It might save money not to ever change your oil, but a car that no longer runs is considerably less useful as a car.

Somalia doesn’t spend very much on preventative healthcare, and the costs show up in people who are unnecessarily infirmed and need someone else to take care of them instead of engaging in productive economic activity.

Most suspicious is the fact that Carroll went about making his case by focusing on an uptick in emergency room visits and people surviving lung cancer to die of heart disease rather than a more straightforward look at how other OECD nations’ increased availability of preventative care seems to result in people living longer, healthier lives while their governments spend less on healthcare overall.

To be fair, Carroll is making only a soft sort of argument, but I don’t think his links support his claim, that his claim even makes sense on its own terms, or that even if those were valid, that’s the most sensible conclusion.

Nancy Pelosi has held the U.S. House floor for over eight hours in support of DREAMers

At 7:04 AM this morning Pacific Time, U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi came to the floor to deliver remarks in support of DREAMers who are facing the threat of deportation by the Trump regime in just a few weeks (aided and abetted by Republicans in Congress). Nearly eight hours later, she was still speaking, having set the record for the longest speech in the history of the House.

[Watch Pelosi’s marathon speech on Periscope]

Unlike the United States Senate, the U.S. House doesn’t have the filibuster, talking or otherwise. Pelosi’s speech is therefore not a filibuster. But it’s certainly something like one. The rules of the House allow Pelosi, as Minority Leader, to speak for as long as she likes. It’s one of the privileges of being the Leader.

Pelosi has taken full advantage of that privilege today, holding the House floor to tell the stories of DREAMers all over the country who could be deported if Congress doesn’t save the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA).

Among the stories that Pelosi read was that of Amy Kele, a student here at the University of Washington in the great Pacific Northwest. Courtesy of Representative Pramila Jayapal’s office, here’s a video clip of Pelosi reading Amy’s story.

Pelosi also read from the New Testament, incorporating a clinic on the Gospel of Matthew into her remarks. As Pelosi noted, among the teachings of Jesus related in the Gospel of Matthew is the commandment that thou shalt love thy neighbor.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him. And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.

He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.

Then the king will say to those on his right:

“Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’”

Then the righteous will answer him and say, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’”

And the king will say to them in reply: “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.”

The Gospel of Matthew, 25:31-40

Hour after hour, Pelosi read story after story, all while standing in four-inch heels. The seventy-eight year old Democratic Leader is the first woman to have served as the Speaker of the House in the history of the United States; today, she continues to serve her country as the chamber’s Minority Leader.

Long reviled by Republicans for her effectiveness, Pelosi has largely managed to hold her caucus together despite internal fissures and external pressures.

With Democrats out of power in both houses of Congress and the Senate having just reached a deal to keep the federal government open through the midterms, Pelosi is taking a stand to ensure that DREAMers don’t get left by the wayside as Congress contemplates sending Trump legislation that would appropriate billions more for the military as well as essential public services.

In related news, hundreds of people rallied today in Washington, D.C. in support of immigrant youth and passage of a DREAM Act. Speakers and leaders from the Women’s March, Center for Popular Democracy, Good Jobs Nation, Center for Community Change, and United We Dream participated.

Here’s what these leaders had to say about their action.

Ana María Archila, co-executive director of the Center for Popular Democracy:

The fight for the Dream Act is a fight for the soul of this nation. It is a profound moral question to the country: who are we?

Are we a nation that rips families apart and expelling children from the place they call home? Or are we a nation that affirms that we belong together, and that we will take care of each other.

Today, women leaders, health care activists, workers, faith leaders and immigrant families are standing united to reject Trump’s White Nationalist vision for country, and call on Congress to solve the crisis that Trump created for when he ended DACA, upending the lives of 800,000 immigrant youth.

Arlin Tellez Martinez, DACA recipient from North Carolina and UWD leader:

I moved to D.C. from my home in North Carolina to dedicate myself fully to get Congress to pass the Dream Act.

During today’s action, it was clear just how powerful our movement and our community is when hundreds mobilized to fight alongside immigrant youth. I feel empowered to continue to fight even when Congress fails to protect immigrant young people.

We will continue to make our presence seen and heard because our lives are on the line and we cannot keep waiting.

Monica Camacho, a member of CASA who would qualify for the Dream Act:

Punting the DACA decision down the road is a failure of leadership in Congress. We know that the majority of Americans and members of Congress supports a clean DREAM Act NOW, not in a year. For young undocumented people like myself, this is a nightmare. It’s hard to plan for college, for building your family and your career with so much uncertainty. Our lives are on hold so we need a solution right now.

Sara Mora, an organizer for Make the Road New Jersey and potential DREAM Act beneficiary:

Just yesterday, faith and community leaders sat in Rep. Lance’s district office in Westfield, New Jersey and refused to leave until Lance publicly committed to a clean Dream Act. Clean means Trump’s current immigration framework is a nonstarter. Clean means fighting back against plans that will gut our family immigration system. While Trump continues to move the goal post, we need leadership to hold the line and vote with Dreamers and our families.

Linda Sarsour, National Co-Chair of the Women’s March:

To my undocumented brothers and sisters, I want you to know, you are not alone. You tell us where to be, and we will be there. Today, we are here with you to deliver a message to Republicans and Democrats in Congress: we, people of color, are not bargaining chips.

This is not a poker game. These are people’s lives. People who deserve to be here. We’re not asking for favors, we asking for what we deserve!

My vote in November is for undocumented people. For Black people. For poor people. For marginalized people and we will primary every Democrat that did not have spine to stand against the Trump Administration.

If you’re interested in learning more, Buzzfeed has video of the action and arrests. The complete speaking program can be watched on Facebook. And there are still photos on Twitter. See this tweet, this one, and this one.

LIVE from the Crosscut Festival: The GOP is dead

The final panel I attended at the Crosscut Festival had the provocative title, “The GOP is dead. Long live the GOP!” The discussion was of course about the future of the Republican Party, with a focus on Washington State.

Moderated by Austin Jenkins of TVW’s “Inside Olympia” and reporter for the Northwest News Network, panelists included: Bill Bryant, Republican candidate for Governor in 2016; former Washington Attorney General and US Senator Slade Gorton; Chairman of the King County Republican Party, Lori Sotelo; and Chris Vance who formerly served as a state representative, King County Council member, and Chair of the state Republican Party.

Jenkins started the discussion with the question that the title of the panel gives an answer to: is the Republican Party in Washington dead?

Gorton says no. “Does the party have problems? Yes. So do the Democrats.”

Jenkins pointed out that Washington hasn’t had a Republican Governor since 1984.

Sotelo replied that things ebb and flow, and that while it has been a while since there was a Republican Governor, it will eventually be their turn as things cycle around. She says looking at the state house and senate, Republicans are just one seat down in each chamber, and that most elections are within five percentage points.

“It’s competitive, it’s just that right now Democrats have the majority,” she said.

Bryant says that as a functioning party, the health is strong, and the question is how it gets to be stronger, and that gets to the question of how to get to the Governor’s Office. He notes that Republican candidates for Governor consistently got 46 to 48% of the vote in the last four elections. The problem is that they do not do well in King County, so they can’t breakthrough to statewide office. The key is getting a message that resonates in King County.

In addressing Vance, Jenkins point out that Vance is no longer a member of the Republican Party, and asks why.

Vance said that the future of the Republican Party is exceedingly bleak in Washington state. He said he decided to leave the party because he didn’t believe anything they were saying anymore. He kept finding himself having to point out more and more things that he didn’t agree with the party on, like Trump and the Alt-Right, transgender issues, and the “cruelty and stupidity of policies.” Without agreeing on issues, the only reason to stay would be pure tribalism, so he is now Independent.

Panel titled “The GOP is dead. Long live the GOP!” at #crosscutfest

A post shared by NPI (@nwprogressive) on

Vance continued, saying that the purpose of a political party is to govern, and there is no realistic scenario where the Republicans will govern Washington in the near future.

“The party is not going to die, but it is becoming increasingly irrelevant,” he said. He loved moderates like Gorton, but there is no future for that here, in his estimation, and something new is needed.

Gorton responded that both parties are currently at extremes, so there is no room left in the middle. He pointed out that more than 150,000 Washington voters did not cast a ballot for any of the eight people on the Washington ballot for President, which he says shows that neither party is striking a chord right now.

In the most unbelievable moment of not just this panel but the whole day, Sotelo said that she didn’t know what “Alt-Right” meant until this morning when she looked it up. She said that it does not apply to anyone she works with in the Republican Party. There were dozens of groans from the audience.

Sotelo continued to say that there is a misconception that the party is monolith, but it is definitely not, especially in King County.

She dismissed the idea of the Alt-Right as a force in the party, saying “every party has weirdos. The folks that I know are not racist…Anyone that is offensive, it is our job to push them back. The Republican Party that I know is not racist. The grassroots are good, honest people, as hardworking as you.”

In my opinion, these comments highlighted not only her misunderstanding of racism as a structural issue, not just a matter of individual prejudices, but were shocking in revealing her lack of knowledge of current events and disconnection with the current dialogues and concerns in the United States.

The woman next to me looked at me in complete shock at Sotelo’s comments, and asked me if I believed that she really didn’t know what the Alt-Right was until today. I said I wasn’t sure, and that I didn’t know which would be worse: that Sotelo was lying about not knowing what the Alt-Right was, or actually not knowing about the Alt-Right. Either is remarkable and unacceptable.

Vance said that he spent decades pushing back against the idea that the GOP was racist, but that the party in the past was dramatically different to how it is today. He said “racist” may not be the exact right term for the party currently, but that they ARE nativist for sure, citing the emphasis on Muslim bans, cutting legal immigration in half, and generally being isolationist and protectionist in attitude.

Gorton said that Vance is “looking through the wrong end of the telescope.” He says that Congress in the last year has passed a “regular Republican agenda.”

Bryant pointed out that national issues are different than local issues for Republicans, and said that it really is like the old PEMCO commercials that we are “a little bit different here.” He said that Republicans used to own the environmental agenda when he was young, and many Republicans are environmentalist, so they should distinguish themselves from the national party on those issues. He said that Washington Republicans need to remind people of the core beliefs of the party and reclaim their Northwest Republican roots, which are a little bit different.

Vance said he used to be making speeches like Bryant just did, but it doesn’t work. Everybody nominated for statewide office runs as a moderate, but still loses.

He says there are two problems with Washington Republicans trying to distinguish themselves from the national Republican agenda. The first is that if they disavowed Trump, people would immediately lose their seats because of the national committee. Secondly, politics is not local, it is national. It is impossible to break away from the national brand, and that is going to get worse in the Trump era.

Sotelo replied that the local party supports all candidates and elected officials in the party, from Trump all the way down. Sotelo received more groans for this comment.

Gorton said that it is a mistake to think that the future is going to be the same as the present, and continue going in the same direction, that we can’t assume that things are going to be more of the same. He thinks dynamic leaders will create change, since that is how things have happened in the past.

Bryant says that we need to pay attention to the suburbs to see where the state is going. The suburbs used to be solidly Republican and they aren’t anymore, but people are not moving to the Democrats, they are sick of everyone. He says people are looking for candidates that will talk about things that are effecting their lives and the issues they care about, and they want people in office that will provide solutions.

Jenkins then asked everyone on the panel thier predictions for the 2018 elections.

Vance said he is now part of a nationwide movement to elect moderate independents, and says they will have candidates on the ballot this year. He thinks the Republicans are definitely going to lose seats this year, but is not sure if it will be the typical mid-term shift away from the party of the President, or a “tsunami.”

Sotelo sounded more optimistic, saying that in King County that there is a shift towards the south and southwest, and that she expects the party to continue to be strong there, as well as in the 5th Congressional district. She thinks Republicans will be competitive in all races in the suburbs.

When Gorton was about to speak, Jenkins interrupted to point out that Gorton turned 90 last month, generating respectful applause from the audience. Jenkins then asked Gorton what gives him hope that Republicans will be able to get the governorship again.

Gorton stated that big changes take place nationally, and by reflection in the states, when big challenges come up, and he notes that Donald Trump could be one of these challenges. He thinks that Trump has been good for Democrats, and that Republicans will do poorly in this election, but that it is temporary.

Bryant said that there is a solid foundation for Washington Republicans, consistently only a few percentage points off in elections, whereas Republicans in other places like California face much larger margins. He says the challenge this year is “ugly noise on the national level” and people not looking beyond the party label.

Jenkins asked Vance what advice he would give to his former party. Vance said that he would “double- and triple-down” on Bryant’s earlier comments about pointing out how Washington Republicans are different.

“Disavow Donald Trump,” he said, drawing sustained applause from the audience. He continued to say that they need to show how they are different from the national party and leadership, and they need to be “unmistakably clear that they are not part of the insanity.”

When Jenkins next asked Sotelo what the party could or should do, she reasserted that the job of the party is to support their candidates and elected officials. She said her job is to be a cheerleader for the party and it’s philosophies and ideals.

Bryant said that “this is what we need, people here at cocktail hour on a Saturday night having these discussions. Divisiveness is killing us.” He said that increasing the dialogue is what our state needs.

Gorton said that he doesn’t recognize the party that Vance is talking about. He said he goes back to D.C. regularly to see old friends and colleagues and that they are good, hardworking people, and some of them do have issues with the President.

He said that we need to be more willing to listen to one another, even when we don’t agree. He said there is no overlap of the parties in Congress now, like there used to be when he was in office.

“That middle is the key to the solution to many of our problems.”

At least we need to start talking to each other in a civil fashion, Gorton concluded.

LIVE from the Crosscut Festival: Mayors of Cascadia

In the second afternoon session of the Crosscut Festival, the mayors of Seattle, Vancouver, B.C., and Portland came together to discuss what makes their cities and our region great, as well as the challenges. The moderator was Knute Berger.

Berger started with some funny commentary on Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson. He noted that many of Robertson’s constituents are obsessed with his fitness.

“You’re like a walking advertisement for Canadian healthcare” he said, to much laughter, and setting a tone of congeniality for the discussion.

Berger then turned his sights to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan. He asked Durkan if it was true that she was once in a Rainier beer commercial, which she said was correct.

“If you make that fact more known, you’re gonna walk to re-election,” Berger quipped.

Finally Berger got down to business, and brought up how Cascadia is rapidly urbanizing. Talking to Robertson, he noted how we used to hear a lot about “the Vancouver miracle,” and how they were held up as a city to admire and emulate. Many people saw Seattle as the next Vancouver. Now that investment speculation has substantially raised property values in Vancouver, should we worry about what it means to be the next Vancouver?

Robertson said that there are certainly lessons to learn about global capital. People from outside of the country buying property in the city as investment properties definitely makes it hard for people living there now who don’t own property. He noted that half the people in Vancouver are renters, so the city is focused on building rental housing and making it as affordable as possible.

He continued by saying that Vancouver was a bit of a victim of its own success. There have been lots of benefits of how the city has grown, but it is challenging to manage. He said the city has to use every single tool possible to build affordable housing, with a special focus on those who are most vulnerable, but affordable housing is needed even for middle income people. He notes that one mistake Vancouver made was trying one thing at a time to address housing affordability, but that he now realizes that they should have done all of it together from the start.

Berger next asked Wheeler if his city of Portland is deservedly seen as brilliant in terms of its urban planning.

Wheeler said that “no city lives up to it’s own hype,” to which Durkan jumped in and disagreed, prompting laughs from the audience.

Wheeler continued, explaining that many years ago Portland created an urban growth boundary, outside of which farmlands and the character of neighborhoods would be preserved, with greater density inside the boundary implied but not yet implemented as it wasn’t needed at the time that plan was made. But since that plan was made many years ago, all the new people that have come to Portland in recent years weren’t in the city when that deal was struck, so they are not happy about the upzone that the city is currently trying to implement.

“We can’t stop growth, we can only manage it,” Wheeler said. People generally think the growth management plan makes sense, but they are not happy now that it is time to implement it. He said it has now become a conversation about views vs. density. However, he notes, if growth and density aren’t managed intentionally, and geared to specific areas, the spirit of the town and the things people like, including walkability and complete neighborhoods with their own unique character, will be lost.

Wheeler knows that if he does the right thing, and pushes through with the upzone inside the urban growth boundary, he may only serve one term, and he is fine with that. He notes that if he did not get re-elected, he would be the fourth Portland Mayor in a row to only serve one term.

Berger then addressed Durkan. He noted how in response to Amazon’s announcement that they would be opening up a second headquarters, that some people thought Seattle should apologize to Amazon. He asked if Durkan agreed with that thinking.

Durkan did not directly answer the question. She said her perspective is longer term, having grown up in Seattle. She noted how the city changed overnight in the 1970s when there were massive layoffs from Boeing.

“We’ve seen cycles where businesses come and go. The question really is, what is the best future for Seattle? How do we keep a vibrant economy but keep the things people love about the city?”

Her answer was that we have to be intentional. “We want to keep employers like Amazon, but we have to think about the people that are being pushed out or left behind,” she said. “We need to take Vancouver’s advice.”

Next Berger asked each mayor to identify the biggest challenge facing their city.

Durkan answered first, stating that currently it is affordability, but that we also need to look to the future.

Robertson said that for Vancouver it is affordability and also transportation and transit. At this Durkan chimed in that transit is important as it is part of affordability, and is also an equity issue.

Wheeler answered that for Portland the biggest challenge is addressing income inequality, diversity, and equity. He feels that generally, government has failed to acknowledge rapidly-changing demographics. He says Portland has worked hard to adjust economic development goals and plans with equity and changing demographics in mind.

He thinks that nationally, cities are taking the lead.

Durkan followed to say that “nothing good will be coming out of D.C. for the next three years.” If we want to move forward on anything progressive, it has to come from the cities or states, she says. A lot of it is really going to come from the urban centers, because that is where we are seeing the biggest challenges, but also where there are the resources to make changes.

“You will see leadership up and down the West Coast,” Durkan said.

Berger returned to his comedy to ask Robertson if Canada was up for a trade, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau in exchange for President Donald Trump.

After Robertson gave a laughing “no,” Berger asked his real question, which was if Vancouver was facing any provincial or national issues like America’s Cascadia cities are dealing with.

Robertson said that before Trudeau became PM two years ago, they were facing a hostile federal government that was very difficult for cities to deal with. That government was not concerned about the environment or issues of affordability in the cities.

“it was difficult but not quite as colorful as Trump,” Robertson joked. “It was more boring and grey,” he said, noting that this seemed to almost be part of the strategy. He says mayors across Canada were organizing and working together similar to how US cities are coming together now.

Panelists were next asked which cities inspire them.

Wheeler first humorously said Vancouver and Seattle. Then he said that outside of this region, he would say Los Angeles. The reason he gave was that LA County recently passed a huge forty-year transportation package with a 71% vote.

He noted how often times initiatives are designed to be the smallest that people believe will get passed, but that LA instead laid out a big vision, and voters responded. This shows that voters are ready for public officials to present a big vision, and if backed up with detailed plans, voters will support it.

Robertson said he is inspired by Paris, France, as they lead climate work among cities globally and feels the mayor is doing a good job with all of the complex issues Paris deals with. He said he also admires Yokohama, Japan, which is focused on becoming a 100% renewable energy city. He then noted that both of these cities have female mayors, so perhaps more female mayors would be a good thing.

“Seattle is still the city that inspires me the most,” Durkan said. She notes how people in Seattle are willing to tax themselves to make things better in the city. She also appreciates Seattle’s arts, culture, and civic life.

Berger next asked each mayor what big dreams they have for their city or region.

Durkan said that her dream is building the city on equity, so that “every kid in Seattle knows they can do anything they want to do,” with everybody of different economic, racial, and religious backgrounds all living and working together.

Robertson said that he has the same dream as Durkan. He noted that Vancouver also has put a big focus on reconciliation with indigenous cultures, drawing light applause from the crowd. He continued that greening cities is important, and noted that it dovetails with the equity aspect.

Wheeler closed out the panel with a strong answer, saying that he wants our cities to be communities.

“Political discourse in our country has become toxic and we are separated from each other,” he said. Our cities are workable but are not really communities, especially not in the sense of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr’s “beloved community.”

“You can’t top Martin Luther King, Jr in terms of that vision,” Wheeler said. “People are hungering for that.

 

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