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.

Monday, January 27th, 2020

Evidence shows local races would benefit from being moved to even-numbered years

Edi­tor’s Note: We’re hon­ored to wel­come our friend Shore­line City Coun­cilmem­ber Chris Roberts to the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate to share his per­spec­tive in sup­port of our top elec­toral reform pri­or­i­ty — phas­ing out elec­tions in odd-num­bered years, when turnout is often well below a major­i­ty. Chris has a PhD in Polit­i­cal Sci­ence and teach­es Amer­i­can Pol­i­tics at Pierce Col­lege.

As a city coun­cilmem­ber in Shore­line, I believe that it is impor­tant that we strive to include as many res­i­dents as pos­si­ble in our elec­toral process­es.

Vot­er par­tic­i­pa­tion is the key to our demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety. As Amer­i­cans, we have and we con­tin­ue to fight for access to the bal­lot, and I applaud the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture for reduc­ing bar­ri­ers to vot­ing over the past few years.

There is more we can do to improve our democ­ra­cy. But, the sin­gle, most effec­tive way to make sure that our rep­re­sen­ta­tives best reflect the val­ues of their con­stituen­cy is to move local elec­tions to even-num­bered years.

I appre­ci­ate State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson and Sen­a­tor Joe Nguyen for spon­sor­ing leg­is­la­tion this ses­sion that would move most local and state elec­tions from odd-num­bered to even-num­bered years.

These bills, HB 2529 and SB 6503, will empow­er vot­ers across Wash­ing­ton State. We know, look­ing at vot­er turnout in Wash­ing­ton State, and evi­dent in oth­er states, that more peo­ple vote in even-year elec­tions, and those vot­ers often bet­ter rep­re­sent the demo­graph­ics of their com­mu­ni­ties.

The boost in turnout in even num­bered years is not the­o­ret­i­cal. We’ve seen the dif­fer­ence in turnout when the elec­tion has been in even-num­bered years.

  • In 2014, over 201,000 vot­ers cast a vote in the Sno­homish Coun­ty Exec­u­tive race to fill an unex­pired term.
    • In 2015, just over 132,000 vot­ers cast a vote in the same race.
  • In 2014, over 19,000 vot­ers cast a vote for Everett City Coun­cil, Posi­tion 7.
    • The next year, just 12,000 vot­ers did.

These results are sim­i­lar to stud­ies of Cal­i­for­nia cities since they switched to even-year elec­tions. What we see is that turnout goes up across all demo­graph­ics, espe­cial­ly among younger vot­ers, renters, and peo­ple of col­or.

Con­cerns have been raised about mov­ing local elec­tions to even-num­bered years. How­ev­er, many of those con­cerns sim­ply do not hold up to scruti­ny.

Stud­ies of elec­tions in Wash­ing­ton State and else­where do not show a rise in under­votes for local races. Between 2006 and 2015, the cities of Everett (twice), Marysville, Lyn­nwood, Mill Creek, Mon­roe (twice), Muk­il­teo, and Mount­lake Ter­race each held an elec­tion in an even-num­bered year. In all but one case, the under­vote in those elec­tions was small­er those in odd-num­bered years.

So, despite the longer bal­lots in even-num­bered years, Wash­ing­ton vot­ers will vote for fed­er­al can­di­dates and for local can­di­dates down the bal­lot.

We know there is more media atten­tion and cam­paign spend­ing on elec­tions held in even-num­bered years. The amount of mon­ey spent on edu­cat­ing and mobi­liz­ing vot­ers in even-num­bered years by can­di­dates in Wash­ing­ton State is near­ly three times greater than that spent in odd-num­bered years.

And fill­ing local posi­tions in odd-num­bered years has not led to high-qual­i­ty cov­er­age of local pol­i­tics and elec­tions. The Seat­tle Times did not pub­lish a sin­gle arti­cle about the Burien, Shore­line, or Sam­mamish City Coun­cil races in 2019, and has not pub­lished any arti­cle about local elec­tions in Shore­line since 2009.

The evi­dence demon­strates that vot­ers are more empow­ered and informed when elec­tions are held in even-num­bered years as opposed to odd-num­bered years.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

NPI’s Gael Tarleton warns proposed sale of .ORG domain registry could harm nonprofits

Back in the fall of 2019, the pri­vate equi­ty firm Ethos Cap­i­tal announced its plans to buy the Pub­lic Inter­est Reg­istry (PIR) for more than $1 bil­lion.

PIR is owned by the Inter­net Soci­ety and man­ages the .ORG domain reg­istry, which since 1985 has been used by non­prof­its and non­govern­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions (NGOs) like the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute (NPI).

Dot org is what is known as top lay­er domain… the last part of a uni­form resource loca­tor (URL), or web address. For exam­ple,

PIR is a non­prof­it enti­ty that has been man­ag­ing the reg­istry and set­ting the prices that own­ers pay when they reg­is­ter .ORG domains.

After the announce­ment, many orga­ni­za­tions came out in oppo­si­tion all over the world, argu­ing that if the Inter­net Soci­ety no longer want­ed to man­age PIR, it should be hand­ed over to an insti­tu­tion the non­prof­it com­mu­ni­ty can trust.

In a let­ter to the Inter­net Soci­ety from the Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion, an ally of NPI that oppos­es the sale, it was explained that this move could cause sig­nif­i­cant harm to non­prof­its and NGOs. They argue that with­out over­sight from an appro­pri­ate place­ment, the reg­istry would have the pow­er to make pol­i­cy changes that would detri­men­tal to .ORG stake­hold­ers, includ­ing:

  • The pow­er to raise .org reg­is­tra­tion fees with­out the approval of the Inter­net Cor­po­ra­tion for Assigned Names and Num­bers (ICANN) or the .ORG com­mu­ni­ty. A .ORG price hike would put many cash-strapped NGOs in the dif­fi­cult posi­tion of either pay­ing the increased fees or los­ing the legit­i­ma­cy and brand recog­ni­tion of a .ORG domain.
  • The pow­er to devel­op and imple­ment Rights Pro­tec­tion Mech­a­nisms uni­lat­er­al­ly, with­out con­sult­ing the .org com­mu­ni­ty. If such mech­a­nisms are not care­ful­ly craft­ed in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the NGO com­mu­ni­ty, they risk cen­sor­ing com­plete­ly legal non­prof­it activ­i­ties.
  • The pow­er to imple­ment process­es to sus­pend domain names based on accu­sa­tions of “activ­i­ty con­trary to applic­a­ble law. ”The .ORG reg­istry should not imple­ment such process­es with­out under­stand­ing how state actors fre­quent­ly tar­get NGOs with alle­ga­tions of ille­gal activ­i­ty.

NPI cosigned EFF’s let­ter, with NPI’s founder and Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Andrew Vil­leneuve explain­ing: “The pend­ing sale is of great con­cern to NPI because we own a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of .org domains. We could be affect­ed by price hikes and bad poli­cies imposed by the pro­posed new own­er.”

Year­ly fees for .ORG sites are, on aver­age, between $10 to $20.

Oth­er larg­er sites that pur­chase mul­ti­ple domains and who pay larg­er fees are eli­gi­ble for oth­er ser­vices like increased cyber secu­ri­ty.

Law­mak­ers in Wash­ing­ton State are also alarmed at the prospect of the .ORG reg­istry being con­trolled by a prof­it-dri­ven, pri­vate equi­ty firm.

Senior NPI board­mem­ber Gael Tar­leton, a state rep­re­sen­ta­tive from the 36th Dis­trict and a 2020 can­di­date for the posi­tion of Sec­re­tary of State, told me that a free and open inter­net is the “lifeblood of every com­mu­ni­ty and econ­o­my, and every school and health care sys­tem in this coun­try.”

“It is offen­sive,” said Tar­leton, “that the Inter­net, devel­oped by pub­lic tax dol­lars and by the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, for the pur­pos­es of serv­ing the pub­lic research com­mu­ni­ties and the pub­lic good, would fall into the hands of a pri­vate equi­ty firm just because [Don­ald] Trump is in the White House.”

She not­ed that Wash­ing­ton does have laws that pro­tect dig­i­tal lib­er­ties at the state lev­el, like our ground­break­ing net neu­tral­i­ty law, but that there are still thou­sands of non­prof­its reg­is­tered in the state that could be neg­a­tive­ly affect­ed by the pro­posed sale of the .ORG reg­istry to Ethos Cap­i­tal.

Tim Bern­ers-Lee, the inven­tor of the World Wide Web, was among those express­ing grave con­cern and oppo­si­tion at the time the sale was announced.

So was ICAN­N’s found­ing chair Esther Dyson.

The Elec­tron­ic Fron­tier Foun­da­tion also made the point in their let­ter oppos­ing the sale, that back in 2002, amid sim­i­lar talks of sell­ing the .ORG reg­istry, ISOC’s then pres­i­dent and CEO Lynn St. Amour assured the NGOs world­wide that the reg­istry would con­tin­ue to be account­able to the non­prof­it sec­tor.

Erik Brooks, founder and CEO of Ethos Cap­i­tal, stat­ed in a pub­lic blog post that the firm is invest­ing in “the long-term vital­i­ty of .ORG and its users” and that “PIR’s part­ner­ship with Ethos will cre­ate new oppor­tu­ni­ties for PIR to pro­vide enhanced ser­vices and sup­port to the .ORG com­mu­ni­ty.”

He also promised that these enhanced ser­vices will be devel­oped “in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the com­mu­ni­ty.” But last month, ICANN pub­lished doc­u­ments with the names of three direc­tors of Ethos Cap­i­tal involved in the sale redact­ed, which only deep­ened the con­cerns of non­prof­its and NGOs.

The doc­u­ments also seem to sug­gest that ICANN had been posi­tion­ing the reg­istry for sale near­ly a year before the offi­cial announce­ment was made.

With so much on the line and a lack of trans­paren­cy on the part of ICANN, it’s unfor­tu­nate we’re not see­ing more wide­spread aware­ness and oppo­si­tion.

Tar­leton argued the Wash­ing­ton Sec­re­tary of State’s office should be force­ful­ly oppos­ing the sale and call­ing atten­tion to it. “This is the slip­pery slope of pri­va­ti­za­tion that hap­pens when no one is pay­ing atten­tion,” she warned.

Tar­leton plans to con­tin­ue speak­ing out against the pro­posed Ethos takeover.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

OMB’s decision to close the National Archives’ Seattle branch must be fought and overturned

On Fri­day, the fed­er­al Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get (OMB) — which is cur­rent­ly con­trolled by Don­ald Trump’s regime — decid­ed to close the Nation­al Archives’ Seat­tle facil­i­ty and move all of its mate­ri­als out of state, as report­ed in this thor­ough arti­cle by The Seat­tle Times’ Eric Lacitis.

The deci­sion, which was made with almost zero pub­lic input, affects the entire Pacif­ic North­west, as the Sand Point Way facil­i­ty exists to “main­tain and pro­vide access to per­ma­nent records cre­at­ed by fed­er­al agen­cies and courts… in Wash­ing­ton, Ore­gon, Ida­ho, and Alas­ka,” as NARA’s web­site states.

We main­tain and pro­vide access to more than 56,000 cubic feet of per­ma­nent records from fed­er­al agen­cies locat­ed in Alas­ka, Ida­ho, Ore­gon, and Wash­ing­ton. We also have a small num­ber of records from a few agen­cies in Mon­tana, includ­ing the For­est Ser­vice and the Unit­ed States Dis­trict Courts. In the hold­ings, there are many types of tex­tu­al records, includ­ing cor­re­spon­dence, reports, inven­to­ries, bound vol­umes, maps, draw­ings, blue­prints, and pho­tographs.

Our micro­film col­lec­tion has over 1,000 pub­li­ca­tions. Each pub­li­ca­tion has copies of records cre­at­ed by Fed­er­al agen­cies locat­ed through­out the Unit­ed States and abroad.

NARA Seat­tle

“The expan­sive col­lec­tion includes mil­i­tary, land, court, tax and cen­sus records. It con­tains impor­tant treaty doc­u­ments relat­ing to the [region’s] two hun­dred and sev­en­ty-two fed­er­al­ly rec­og­nized tribes,” Lacitis’ report explains.

“There, in row after row of four­teen-foot-high shelves that hold near­ly one mil­lion box­es, you can find every­thing from the For­est Ser­vice tele­types sent when Mount St. Helens explod­ed in May 1980 to exquis­ite 1890s hand-drawn line sketch­es of the Aleut­ian Islands as seen from a boat.”

It was just a few years ago that NARA shut­tered its Anchor­age facil­i­ty and moved the con­tents to Seat­tle, con­sol­i­dat­ing its facil­i­ties in the region.

Now, based on this mis­guid­ed rec­om­men­da­tion (which, sad­ly, appears to be based only on dol­lars and cents as opposed to what is actu­al­ly good for the region), OMB and NARA plan to do the same with NARA’s Seat­tle facil­i­ty, which means those Alas­ka records will be mov­ing out of the Pacif­ic North­west entire­ly.

OMB’s ver­dict iron­i­cal­ly came on the very same day that the region’s jus­ti­fi­ably alarmed con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion sent a let­ter to OMB sharply ques­tion­ing the plan to shut the facil­i­ty and move its con­tents else­where.

The let­ter was signed by all eight of the affect­ed states’ sen­a­tors: Pat­ty Mur­ray, Maria Cantwell, Ron Wyden, Jeff Merkley, Jim Risch, Mike Crapo, Dan Sul­li­van, and Lisa Murkows­ki. Four Democ­rats and four Repub­li­cans.

It’s pret­ty rare to see those eight names on a joint let­ter, as Ida­ho and Alaska’s whol­ly Repub­li­can con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tions don’t often agree with Wash­ing­ton and Ore­gon’s most­ly Demo­c­ra­t­ic del­e­ga­tions on very much. But they do agree that clos­ing NARA Seat­tle would be a mis­take, which is heart­en­ing to see.

In anoth­er irony, it was an act of Con­gress that set these events in motion.

In 2016, dur­ing the pres­i­den­cy of Barack Oba­ma, the Repub­li­can-con­trolled Con­gress passed (and Pres­i­dent Oba­ma signed) the Fed­er­al Assets Sale and Trans­fer Act (“FASTA”), which cre­at­ed the Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board.

The Pub­lic Build­ings Reform Board is an advi­so­ry body that is sup­posed to help the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment iden­ti­fy “unneed­ed” fed­er­al­ly owned prop­er­ties for “dis­pos­al”. Of course, what is “unneed­ed” is in the eye of the behold­er.

What one per­son con­sid­ers to be nonessen­tial may be con­sid­ered essen­tial by anoth­er per­son. In this case, a group of peo­ple work­ing in the oth­er Wash­ing­ton — our nation’s cap­i­tal — have decid­ed that this Wash­ing­ton and its neigh­bor­ing states do not need to have a NARA facil­i­ty of their own.

And that real­ly, real­ly, real­ly both­ers us.

It both­ers our region’s tribes, too, which are sov­er­eign nations.

“A sale of the Sand Point Cen­ter will undoubt­ed­ly have an impact on tribes. In fact, it will be a pro­found, neg­a­tive and irrepara­ble impact,” wrote Puyallup Trib­al Chair David Z. Bean in a let­ter to OMB. “Yet, [nei­ther] the Pub­lic Build­ing Reform Board, the Nation­al Archives and Records Admin­is­tra­tion, the Off­fice Man­age­ment and Bud­get, nor any oth­er fed­er­al agency has engaged in gov­ern­ment-to-gov­ern­ment trib­al con­sul­ta­tion as required by Exec­u­tive Order 13175. Worse, the fed­er­al agen­cies did not even alert Tribes about the pro­posed sale.”

Garbage in, garbage out. The process used to reach this deci­sion did not fol­low the law, and so the deci­sion should not stand on that basis alone.

NPI strong­ly and emphat­i­cal­ly oppos­es OMB’s deci­sion, and will join with our region’s tribes, our con­gres­sion­al del­e­ga­tion, librar­i­ans, his­to­ri­ans, and con­cerned activists to fight and over­turn it. It makes no sense that impor­tant fed­er­al records doc­u­ment­ing the polit­i­cal, legal, and cul­tur­al his­to­ry of the Pacif­ic North­west should be sent to Cal­i­for­nia or Mis­souri (which is what OMB has in mind).

We at NPI have a pas­sion for archiv­ing. Our team serves as the cus­to­di­ans of a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of records, includ­ing the dig­i­tal papers of the late Lynn Allen and the cam­paign web­sites of a num­ber of statewide bal­lot mea­sures.

We also main­tain a large library of mul­ti­me­dia (images, audio, video) that our staff and board and con­trib­u­tors have cre­at­ed going back to 2003.

Among the records in our care are the archives of this blog, the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate, which go back to 2004 and encom­pass over five thou­sand posts.

As archivists our­selves, we know how impor­tant acces­si­bil­i­ty is.

If archived mate­ri­als are not acces­si­ble, then their val­ue dimin­ish­es, because they can’t ben­e­fit the work of authors, his­to­ri­ans, edu­ca­tors, researchers, and they can’t be inspect­ed by mem­bers of the pub­lic. Many records can be dig­i­tized, but not all, and NARA isn’t even close to mak­ing all that it has avail­able elec­tron­i­cal­ly.

The clo­sure of NARA Seat­tle may not result in the destruc­tion of data and records, but it would have a grave impact on the acces­si­bil­i­ty of data and records.

We need to pull togeth­er as a region to save NARA Seat­tle. We hope that our influ­en­tial senior Sen­a­tor Pat­ty Mur­ray can ensure that fund­ing is made avail­able to keep the facil­i­ty open and address its main­te­nance needs. NARA Seat­tle is a price­less resource. We can’t let OMB take it away from us with­out a fight.

Sunday, January 26th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 20th-25th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Unit­ed States Sen­a­tors vot­ed on motions per­tain­ing to rules for Don­ald Trump’s removal tri­al, which took place in the Sen­ate dur­ing the week that end­ed yes­ter­day and will con­tin­ue into this week.

(The House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives was in recess.)

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

SETTING RULES FOR DONALD TRUMP’S TRIAL: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion (S. Res­o­lu­tion 483) estab­lish­ing pro­ce­dures for its impeach­ment tri­al of Don­ald Trump:

  • A del­e­ga­tion of House Democ­rats was allowed twen­ty-four hours over no more than three days to argue for con­vic­tion on two arti­cles of impeach­ment the House approved in Decem­ber. Trump’s attor­neys were grant­ed an equal peri­od to present a defense.
  • The res­o­lu­tion then allo­cates six­teen hours for respons­es to writ­ten ques­tions from sen­a­tors. Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr. would read the ques­tions aloud and direct them to the House man­agers, Trump’s defense team or both sides.
  • At that point, the Sen­ate will hear four hours of argu­ments from the two sides on whether to allow motions to sub­poe­na wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments. If the Sen­ate votes to issue sub­poe­nas, wit­ness­es would be deposed before sub­se­quent votes on whether to call them before the Sen­ate.
  • Fol­low­ing any wit­ness tes­ti­mo­ny, the Sen­ate is to delib­er­ate and vote on the impeach­ment arti­cles. Approval of either arti­cle by a two-thirds vote of sen­a­tors present would remove Trump from office.

The first arti­cle of impeach­ment charges Trump with abus­ing the pow­ers of the pres­i­den­cy by with­hold­ing mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine and a promised Oval Office meet­ing in an effort to pres­sure Ukrain­ian offi­cials to announce inves­ti­ga­tions that would den­i­grate Joe Biden, a polit­i­cal rival of the pres­i­dent. The sec­ond arti­cle charges Trump with obstruct­ing the House­’s inves­ti­ga­tion of his con­duct.

Major­i­ty Leader Mitch McConnell, R‑Kentucky, said the res­o­lu­tion he spon­sored “sets up a struc­ture that is fair, even­hand­ed and tracks close­ly with past prece­dents.” Demo­c­ra­t­ic Leader Charles Schumer, D‑New York, said the res­o­lu­tion “asks the Sen­ate to rush through as fast as pos­si­ble, and makes get­ting evi­dence as hard as pos­si­ble.” A yes vote was to adopt the res­o­lu­tion.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING BOLTON AS TRIAL WITNESS: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that sought to call John Bolton, the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er to Trump, as a wit­ness in the pres­i­den­t’s impeach­ment tri­al.

Bolton said ear­li­er he would tes­ti­fy if sub­poe­naed and could, accord­ing to his lawyer, pro­vide first­hand accounts of events and con­ver­sa­tions, includ­ing com­ments by Trump, on the with­hold­ing of secu­ri­ty aid to Ukraine.

Jer­rold Nadler, D‑New York, said:

“The ques­tion is whether the Sen­ate will be com­plic­it in the pres­i­den­t’s crimes by cov­er­ing them up. Any sen­a­tor who votes against Bolton’s tes­ti­mo­ny or any rel­e­vant tes­ti­mo­ny shows that he or she wants to be part of the coverup. What oth­er pos­si­ble rea­son is there to pro­hib­it a rel­e­vant wit­ness?”

Pat Cipol­lone, the White House coun­sel, replied that House inves­ti­ga­tors had not sought Bolton’s tes­ti­mo­ny.

“So for them to come here now and demand that before we even start the argu­ments — they ask you to do some­thing that they refuse to do for them­selves and then accuse you of a coverup when you don’t do it — it is ridicu­lous.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to call­ing Bolton as a wit­ness.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING MULVANEY AS TRIAL WITNESS: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that sought to call Mick Mul­vaney, the White House chief of staff, as a wit­ness in Pres­i­dent Trump’s impeach­ment tri­al.

Mul­vaney helped Trump use a hold on mil­i­tary aid and denial of an Oval Office vis­it to solic­it polit­i­cal favors from Ukrain­ian offi­cials. Mul­vaney told reporters in Octo­ber 2019 that it is not unusu­al for the admin­is­tra­tion to use for­eign aid as a lever to influ­ence the actions of recip­i­ents. “We do that all the time with for­eign policy.…I have news for every­body. Get over it.”

Hakeem Jef­fries, D‑New York, said Mul­vaney “was at the cen­ter of every stage of the pres­i­den­t’s sub­stan­tial pres­sure cam­paign against Ukraine. Based on the exten­sive evi­dence the House did obtain, it is clear that Mul­vaney was cru­cial in plan­ning the scheme, exe­cut­ing its imple­men­ta­tion and car­ry­ing out the coverup.”

In their reply, Trump’s defend­ers did not men­tion Mul­vaney but object­ed to Sen­ate’s call­ing any wit­ness­es.

Mike Pur­pu­ra, a deputy White House coun­sel, said House man­agers “had their chance to devel­op their evi­dence before they sent the arti­cles of impeach­ment to this cham­ber. This cham­ber’s role is not to do the House­’s job for it.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to call­ing Mul­vaney as a wit­ness.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

REJECTING BLAIR AND DUFFEY AS TRIAL WITNESSES: On a par­ty-line vote of 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res 483 (above) that sought to call Robert B. Blair, an aide to White House chief of staff Mick Mul­vaney, and Michael P. Duf­fey, an Office Man­age­ment and Bud­get offi­cial, as wit­ness­es in the Don­ald Trump removal tri­al.

Both assist­ed Trump’s bid to use a freeze on mil­i­tary aid and denial of an Oval Office vis­it to gain Ukraine’s help in under­cut­ting for­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden’s 2020 pres­i­den­tial can­di­da­cy. They were sub­poe­naed by House inves­ti­ga­tors but refused to com­ply on due process grounds.

Sylvia Gar­cia, D‑Texas, said:

“Blair and Duf­fey are not house­hold names. But they oper­at­ed the machin­ery of the exec­u­tive branch. They imple­ment­ed Pres­i­dent Trump’s instruc­tion to freeze mil­i­tary aid to Ukraine” and “stood at the cen­ter of this tan­gled web.”

Attor­ney Pam Bon­di, a Trump defend­er, told the Sen­ate that House impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tors “took no action on the sub­poe­nas (they) issued to Mr. Duf­fey and Mr. Blair because they did­n’t want a court to tell them that they were tram­pling on their con­sti­tu­tion­al rights. Now they want this cham­ber to do it for them.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion of call­ing Blair and Duf­fey as wit­ness­es.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

EMPOWERING CHIEF JUSTICE TO RULE ON WITNESSES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that would empow­er Chief Jus­tice John G. Roberts Jr. to rule on the rel­e­vance of wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments pro­posed to be sub­poe­naed in Don­ald Trump’s removal tri­al. This would change a rule requir­ing dis­putes over rel­e­vance to be resolved by a major­i­ty vote of sen­a­tors.

The Sen­ate, which has 53 Repub­li­cans and a Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus of 47 sen­a­tors, could vote to over­rule the chief jus­tice’s opin­ion.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, told Repub­li­cans: “If you can’t trust the chief jus­tice, appoint­ed by a Repub­li­can pres­i­dent, to make a fair deci­sion about mate­ri­al­i­ty [of wit­ness­es and doc­u­ments], I think it betrays the weak­ness of your case.”

Attor­ney Jay Seku­low of the pres­i­den­t’s defense team said: “With no dis­re­spect to the chief jus­tice, this is not an appel­late court. This is the U.S. Sen­ate. There is not an arbi­tra­tion clause in the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. The Sen­ate shall have the sole pow­er to try all impeach­ments. We oppose the amend­ment.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

TIGHTENING IMPEACHMENT EVIDENCE RULES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 21st tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 (above) that would gov­ern sub­poe­naed but thus far with­held doc­u­ments the admin­is­tra­tion might lat­er sub­mit as evi­dence in Pres­i­dent Trump’s impeach­ment tri­al. Under the amend­ment, if the pres­i­dent pro­duced any such mate­r­i­al, he would have to also pro­vide Demo­c­ra­t­ic tri­al man­agers with all oth­er doc­u­ments that were demand­ed by the same sub­poe­na. The require­ment was intend­ed to pre­vent the admin­is­tra­tion from selec­tive­ly intro­duc­ing sub­poe­naed evi­dence.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said that with­out this amend­ment, the GOP-draft­ed evi­dence rule “would enable the pres­i­dent to use his obstruc­tion not only as a shield to his mis­con­duct but also as a sword in his defense. [This] is an amend­ment based on sim­ple fair­ness, and it will help the Sen­ate and the Amer­i­can peo­ple get to the truth.”

Attor­ney Patrick Philbin of the White House team called the amend­ment invalid because House inves­ti­ga­tors issued most of their sub­poe­nas before the full House vot­ed on Octo­ber 31st, 2019, to for­mal­ly autho­rize impeach­ment pro­ceed­ings. He said the first 23 House sub­poe­nas “were all unauthorized…and that is why the Trump admin­is­tra­tion did not respond to them and did not com­ply with them.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

STREAMLINING RULES FOR ADMITTING WITNESSES: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to stream­line how the Sen­ate will deter­mine whether it will hear tes­ti­mo­ny dur­ing the impeach­ment tri­al from wit­ness­es includ­ing John Bolton, the for­mer nation­al secu­ri­ty advis­er, or Mick Mul­vaney, the White House chief of staff.

The Repub­li­can-writ­ten rules adopt­ed on Jan­u­ary 22nd (S Res­o­lu­tion 483) call for four hours of debate and a vote lat­er in the tri­al on whether any motions to sub­poe­na wit­ness­es or doc­u­ments will be con­sid­ered.

If any wit­ness­es were even­tu­al­ly sub­poe­naed, they would be deposed before anoth­er vote on whether to call them to tes­ti­fy before the Sen­ate.

This amend­ment would elim­i­nate the first vote on whether to con­sid­er call­ing any wit­ness­es, thus allow­ing guar­an­teed up-or-down votes on whether to hear from spe­cif­ic wit­ness­es.

The amend­ment also spec­i­fied that sen­a­tors would hear from wit­ness­es in per­son as opposed to via video­tape or by read­ing a depo­si­tion tran­script.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said that with­out this rules change “there is no guar­an­tee that you are going to get a chance to vote on spe­cif­ic wit­ness­es.”

Mike Pur­pu­ra, a deputy White House coun­sel, said the amend­ment would impair the Sen­ate’s “dis­cre­tion as to whether to hear from the wit­ness live [and] if there are wit­ness­es at some point or not.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

DENYING SUBPOENAS FOR WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENTS: Vot­ing 53 for and 47 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment that sought to autho­rize the removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump to sub­poe­na White House doc­u­ments that are direct­ly rel­e­vant to charges lev­eled against the pres­i­dent.

The amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 was in response to the White House­’s total refusal to com­ply with sub­poe­nas they received last year from House impeach­ment inves­ti­ga­tors.

In addi­tion to shun­ning House requests for thou­sands of White House doc­u­ments includ­ing cor­re­spon­dence, emails and text mes­sages relat­ed to the impeach­ment arti­cles, the regime has dis­re­gard­ed House sub­poe­nas issued to the Depart­ment of Defense, Depart­ment of State and Office of Man­age­ment and Bud­get.

Sen­ate Democ­rats, led by Chuck Schumer, also intro­duced tri­al amend­ments to com­pel those agen­cies to respond to a new round of sub­poe­nas, and those mea­sures were also killed by 53–47 par­ty-line votes.

Zoe Lof­gren, D‑California, said:

“As pow­er­ful as our evi­dence is — and make no mis­take, it over­whelm­ing­ly proves [Trump’s] guilt — we did not receive a sin­gle doc­u­ment from the exec­u­tive branch includ­ing the White House itself.”

Attor­ney Patrick Philbin, a defend­er of Don­ald Trump, said:

“It is a stun­ning admis­sion of the inad­e­quate and bro­ken process that the House Democ­rats ran in this impeach­ment inquiry that [they] failed to com­pile a record to sup­port their charges.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

EXTENDING DEADLINE FOR FILING MOTIONS: The Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 22nd tabled (killed) an amend­ment to S Res­o­lu­tion 483 that sought to increase from two hours to about 24 hours the time allot­ted both sides for fil­ing respons­es to ini­tial motions in the removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump.

Of the twelve roll calls con­duct­ed dur­ing the tri­al’s open­ing ses­sions, this was the only one not decid­ed by a 53–47 par­ty-line vote. The tal­ly on this roll call as 52–48, with Susan Collins, R‑Maine, vot­ing with the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus.

Adam Schiff, D‑California, said a two-hour win­dow “real­ly does­n’t give any­body enough time to respond to a writ­ten motion.”

Trump attor­ney Jay Seku­low said “we are ready to proceed.…We would ask the cham­ber to reject this amend­ment.”

A yes vote was in oppo­si­tion to the amend­ment.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 2 aye votes, 4 nay votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will con­tin­ue its removal tri­al of Don­ald Trump in the week of Jan­u­ary 27th. The House sched­ule was to be announced.

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

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Opponents of phasing out odd year elections in Washington are making many bogus claims

This past week, the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture’s House State Gov­ern­ment & Trib­al Rela­tions Com­mit­tee heard pub­lic tes­ti­mo­ny on a bill that would phase out elec­tions in odd-num­bered years, one of NPI’s top elec­toral reform pri­or­i­ties.

HB 2529, intro­duced last week, is prime spon­sored by the com­mit­tee’s chair Mia Gregerson and co-spon­sored by Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Enten­man, Fey, Wylie, Mead, Peter­son, Thai, Ramos, Hud­gins, Tar­leton, and Frame.

Although it had to com­pete with Don­ald Trump’s removal tri­al, the hear­ing nev­er­the­less drew great inter­est from the mass media. The Spokesman-Review’s Jim Cam­den cov­ered it, as did The Asso­ci­at­ed Press’ Rachel La Corte. Both reports excerpt­ed high­lights from my tes­ti­mo­ny in sup­port. (The remarks I pre­pared pri­or to tes­ti­fy­ing were sub­se­quent­ly pub­lished here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate.)

Five pan­els par­tic­i­pat­ed in the hear­ing, offer­ing dif­fer­ing per­spec­tives on the bill. Join­ing me in tes­ti­fy­ing in sup­port were North Seat­tle Pro­gres­sives’ John Plimp­ton, Shore­line City Coun­cilmem­ber Chris Roberts, Ash­ley Sut­ton from the Wash­ing­ton Vot­ing Jus­tice Coali­tion, and Col­in Cole from More Equi­table Democ­ra­cy Action.

Tes­ti­fy­ing in oppo­si­tion were Sec­re­tary of State Kim Wyman, con artist Tim Eyman, sev­er­al rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the effort that qual­i­fied Ref­er­en­dum 88 (over­turn­ing I‑1000), and Eyman asso­ciates Michelle Dar­nell and Sid Neyeto.

Mike Hoover of the Wash­ing­ton Asso­ci­a­tion of Coun­ties and Sharon Swan­son of the Asso­ci­a­tion of Wash­ing­ton Cities also tes­ti­fied, but only to share con­cerns, rather than tak­ing an explic­it “pro” or “con” posi­tion.

The com­mit­tee also heard an in-depth pre­sen­ta­tion from Zoltan Haj­nal, a pro­fes­sor at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Cal­i­for­nia San Diego’s Depart­ment of Polit­i­cal Sci­ence, dur­ing a work ses­sion that pre­ced­ed the pub­lic hear­ing.

Pri­or to and dur­ing the hear­ing, oppo­nents of HB 2529 made sev­er­al bogus and dubi­ous claims about the bill. I’m going to take the oppor­tu­ni­ty to debunk three of those here in the hopes that any­one fol­low­ing the debate over this leg­is­la­tion will have an eas­i­er time draw­ing the dis­tinc­tion between legit­i­mate crit­i­cisms of the bill and attacks that sim­ply have no mer­it or log­ic what­so­ev­er.

Here we go!

CLAIM: House Bill 2529 is uncon­sti­tu­tion­al (in the words of Lin­da Yang) or “con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly sus­pect” (in the words of the Wash­ing­ton Pol­i­cy Cen­ter’s Jason Merci­er) because it elim­i­nates state-lev­el elec­tions in odd-num­bered years, thus sab­o­tag­ing the peo­ple’s ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum pow­ers.

REALITY: This is non­sense. From state­hood until 1973, Wash­ing­ton did not hold state-lev­el elec­tions in odd-num­bered years at all. Ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da were con­sid­ered exclu­sive­ly dur­ing even-num­bered years from 1914 through 1972.

Was that prac­tice in vio­la­tion of the Con­sti­tu­tion? Of course not!

The Framers of the Sev­enth Amend­ment, which cre­at­ed the ini­tia­tive and ref­er­en­dum process in 1912, envi­sioned a two-year cycle for ini­tia­tives. So adop­tion of House Bill 2529 would actu­al­ly be a return to form for our state.

The Con­sti­tu­tion does not require that elec­tions be held in odd-num­bered years; it only requires them in even-num­bered years. The Leg­is­la­ture and Gov­er­nor Dan Evans came up with the idea to add state-lev­el elec­tions in odd-num­bered years in the 1970s, and they amend­ed the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton to pro­vide for such elec­tions. Today’s Leg­is­la­ture can sim­i­lar­ly amend the Revised Code of Wash­ing­ton to elim­i­nate elec­tions in odd-num­bered years.

Oppo­nents are free to argue that HB 2529 is a bad idea (and they are). But it’s not “uncon­sti­tu­tion­al” or “con­sti­tu­tion­al­ly sus­pect”.

CLAIM: Just a cou­ple of hours before HB 2529 was heard in House Hear­ing Room E, State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Andrew Barkis denounced the bill at a media avail­abil­i­ty held by the House and Sen­ate Repub­li­can cau­cus­es. Barkis (R‑2nd Leg­isla­tive Dis­trict) argued that in 2019, “we had one of the high­est turnouts that we’ve seen in an off-year elec­tion in a long time… and that’s a tes­ta­ment to all the work that’s being put in to make sure peo­ple know what’s going on.”

REALITY: First of all, there’s no such thing as an “off year” elec­tion.… every elec­tion mat­ters. That term needs to be con­signed to the scrap heap.

If your posi­tion is that elec­tions ought to con­tin­ue being held in odd-num­bered years, then lead by exam­ple and stop call­ing them “off year elec­tions” because it sug­gests that some elec­tions are irrel­e­vant and do not mat­ter.

(For future ref­er­ence, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Barkis, we use the term local elec­tion year.)

Sec­ond, the turnout in the 2019 gen­er­al elec­tion was the sev­enth-worst in state his­to­ry. That’s right… the sev­enth worst. 2019 cer­tain­ly com­pares favor­ably to 2017 and 2015, when we set records for the worst gen­er­al elec­tion turnout in state his­to­ry dur­ing two con­sec­u­tive local elec­tion cycles. But it is def­i­nite­ly not the high­est turnout in an odd-year that we have seen a long time. Turnout was high­er in 2011, 2009, 2007, and 2005. It was about the same in 2013.

Here’s a chart of our ten worst gen­er­al elec­tion turnouts from 1936-present.

Top Ten Worst Gen­er­al Elec­tion Turnouts in Wash­ing­ton State His­to­ry

2017 Gen­er­al37.10%
2015 Gen­er­al38.45%
1985 Gen­er­al40.18%
2003 Gen­er­al40.49%
1987 Gen­er­al42.32%
2001 Gen­er­al44.51%
2019 Gen­er­al45.19%
2013 Gen­er­al45.27%
1981 Gen­er­al46.73%
1989 Gen­er­al48.11%

All of the worst turnouts are with­in the last fifty years… since we start­ed hold­ing elec­tions in odd-num­bered years… and they’re all in odd-num­bered years.

CLAIM: At the same media avail­abil­i­ty, Barkis also argued that con­sid­er­ing statewide ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da in even-num­bered years would make them hard to find. Quot­ing Barkis: “If you can imag­ine that process on an elec­tion year like it is this year, when you have the pres­i­den­tial and all.. and every­thing’s on the bal­lot, the amount of ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da get­ting lost with­in the con­text of that bal­lot… I think that’s a sup­pres­sion­ary tac­tic in some ways.”

REALITY: This might take the cake for the sil­li­est crit­i­cism of this leg­is­la­tion I’ve heard. There is no dan­ger of ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da “get­ting lost” on a pres­i­den­tial or midterm bal­lot. State law actu­al­ly requires that state-lev­el bal­lot mea­sures be list­ed first, above all posi­tions for elect­ed office, even Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States. There is addi­tion­al­ly a statute that pre­scribes in what order the dif­fer­ent types of bal­lot mea­sures must be list­ed (RCW 29A.72.290).

Here is an exam­ple bal­lot from 2016, the last pres­i­den­tial cycle, which shows the statewide mea­sures promi­nent­ly fea­tured at the top of the bal­lot:

Sam­ple bal­lot for Novem­ber 2016 gen­er­al elec­tion

Fur­ther­more, media cov­er­age of statewide bal­lot mea­sure bat­tles tends to be  robust and exten­sive no mat­ter the year. Con­trary to Barkis’ state­ment, the evi­dence shows that more vot­ers are involved and engaged in bal­lot mea­sure bat­tles held in even-num­bered years as opposed to odd-num­bered ones.

Did I‑1639 (gun safe­ty) or I‑1631 (pol­lu­tion tax) get lost in the con­text of the 2018 midterm bal­lot? Of course not. Did I‑1433 (min­i­mum wage) or I‑1491 (extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders) get lost in the con­text of the 2016 pres­i­den­tial bal­lot? No! In fact, all of those mea­sures received far more votes, for and against, than any mea­sure con­sid­ered in any recent odd-num­bered year elec­tion.

Here are the raw vote counts on Ini­tia­tive 1639 from 2018 and Ini­tia­tive 976 from 2019 for com­par­i­son. Both ini­tia­tives were/are con­tro­ver­sial and have been assailed as uncon­sti­tu­tion­al by their oppo­nents.

As we can see, far more vot­ers weighed in on I‑1639 than on I‑976.

Ini­tia­tive 1639, 2018 (Gun safe­ty)

Elec­tion Turnout: 71.83% (3,133,462 of 4,362,459 vot­ers)
Votes In Favor: 1,839,475
Votes Opposed: 1,259,681
Total Votes on Mea­sure: 3,099,156

Ini­tia­tive 976, 2019 (Gut­ting mul­ti­modal trans­porta­tion infra­struc­ture)

Elec­tion Turnout: 45.19% (2,035,401 of 4,503,871 vot­ers)
Votes In Favor: 1,055,749
Votes Opposed: 936,751
Total Votes on Mea­sure: 1,992,500

The bot­tom line:

1,106,656 more vot­ers weighed in on I‑1639 than I‑976.

1.1 mil­lion!

Again, here we have two con­tro­ver­sial statewide ini­tia­tive mea­sures that each received ample media cov­er­age. One received over three mil­lion votes for and against out of a pos­si­ble 4.36 mil­lion votes; the oth­er received less than two mil­lion out of 4.5 mil­lion pos­si­ble votes.… because it appeared on a bal­lot in an odd-num­bered year, when many Wash­ing­to­ni­ans decline to par­tic­i­pate.

We could run com­par­isons on any num­ber of oth­er con­tro­ver­sial ini­tia­tives and find the same thing. Ini­tia­tives that appear on the bal­lot in even-num­bered years are con­sid­ered and vot­ed on by more vot­ers than in odd-num­bered years.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Barkis is wrong. Statewide ini­tia­tives do not get lost in even-num­bered years. They get more atten­tion and more votes. That’s a good thing.

At NPI, we believe that laws should be made by the many, not a few.

When a small num­ber of vot­ers or when an unrep­re­sen­ta­tive elect­ed body are mak­ing the laws that we all must live by, that is not democ­ra­cy.

Accord­ing­ly, the thresh­old for pas­sage of bills in the Leg­is­la­ture is an absolute major­i­ty, per Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 of the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion.

There is no sim­i­lar min­i­mum turnout thresh­old for ini­tia­tives, how­ev­er.

At the hear­ing last Wednes­day, I rhetor­i­cal­ly asked the rep­re­sen­ta­tives who sit on the State Gov­ern­ment Com­mit­tee if they think it’s accept­able that laws can be made by a tiny frac­tion of the elec­torate. For exam­ple, if we had statewide turnout of just 10%, then 5.01% of reg­is­tered vot­ers could vote for an ini­tia­tive and it would pass. Thank­ful­ly, we have nev­er had statewide turnout that low.

This morn­ing, Spokesman-Review colum­nist Sue Lani Mad­sen took note of my tes­ti­mo­ny, opin­ing that con­sol­i­dat­ing elec­tions in even years would under­mine, not empow­er, vot­ers. Towards the end of her col­umn, she writes:

Andrew Vil­leneuve, of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, tes­ti­fied in sup­port of HB 2529.

He took issue with say­ing Ini­tia­tive 976, which capped the cost of car tabs at $30 [NPI edi­to­r­i­al com­ment: not true; as I‑976 would only low­er vehi­cle fees to $43.25 if ful­ly imple­ment­ed], passed with 53% sup­port, since a major­i­ty of vot­ers statewide chose not to par­tic­i­pate at all. By not par­tic­i­pat­ing, 45% [NPI edi­to­r­i­al com­ment:  actu­al­ly, 54.81%] of state vot­ers vot­ed “I don’t care,” and I‑976 received active sup­port from less than 25% of all reg­is­tered vot­ers to win.

On the oth­er hand, even-year elec­tions do not guar­an­tee win­ning ini­tia­tives earn sup­port from 50% of all reg­is­tered vot­ers.

In 2016, only two out of six met that more exact­ing stan­dard and none of the four ini­tia­tives on the bal­lot in 2018 did so. Pret­ty sure Vil­leneuve isn’t going to argue we should ignore the results of the vote on Ini­tia­tive 1433, which raised the min­i­mum wage, or Ini­tia­tive 1639, which imposed more reg­u­la­tions on firearms.

I’m not argu­ing that we should ignore the results of any statewide ini­tia­tives, Sue, even those passed by a sub­ma­jor­i­ty of vot­ers.

I’m argu­ing that we should com­mit our­selves to fig­ur­ing out how to achieve fuller par­tic­i­pa­tion in our elec­tions. I’m argu­ing that we should all be con­cerned that there is no min­i­mum turnout thresh­old for statewide bal­lot mea­sures at all.

And by “statewide bal­lot mea­sures”, I don’t just mean ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da, but con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ments as well. If the Leg­is­la­ture sub­mits a change to our plan of gov­ern­ment in an odd-num­bered year, its fate could be deter­mined by a rel­a­tive­ly small num­ber of vot­ers in a bad turnout year like 2015 or 2017.

Should statewide mea­sures be required to pass by an absolute major­i­ty like bills do? I don’t think so. As Sue argues, that would be a pret­ty exact­ing stan­dard.

But if we’re going to keep hold­ing elec­tions in odd-num­bered years, then there ought to be some min­i­mum turnout thresh­old. Turnout in even num­bered years, by the way, is always above fifty per­cent in Wash­ing­ton, going back decades.

NPI’s view is that we should at least have — or require — major­i­ty turnout.

In oth­er words, a major­i­ty of the state’s reg­is­tered vot­ers should be weigh­ing in on an ini­tia­tive, ref­er­en­dum, or con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment for it to be eli­gi­ble for pas­sage. Mea­sures would not need to receive the affir­ma­tive votes of an absolute major­i­ty like a bill in the Leg­is­la­ture would, but a major­i­ty of vot­ers would have to ren­der an opin­ion, as they con­sis­tent­ly do on mea­sures in even-num­bered years.

This change would, of course, require a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment, unlike Mia Gre­gor­son­’s HB 2529, which only changes state law.

Inci­den­tal­ly, there are some bal­lot mea­sures that already do require a min­i­mum turnout to pass: Bond propo­si­tions at the local lev­el.

The Con­sti­tu­tion requires these propo­si­tions to get an affir­ma­tive six­ty per­cent vote at an elec­tion with a min­i­mum of forty per­cent turnout (the sixty/forty rule).

Democ­rats pro­posed relax­ing these require­ments last ses­sion; Repub­li­cans object­ed and nixed the pro­pos­al, which required a two-thirds vote.

Repub­li­cans also almost uni­form­ly vot­ed against relax­ing the sixty/forty rule for school levies in 2007, but they lost and that con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment passed.

Clear­ly, Repub­li­cans are fine with the idea of min­i­mum turnout require­ments for local bal­lot mea­sures. So, how about a con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment to estab­lish a min­i­mum turnout thresh­old for statewide bal­lot mea­sures?

Such an amend­ment would not solve all the prob­lems that HB 2529 is attempt­ing to address, but it would at least tack­le one of those prob­lems, which is in our view is per­haps the biggest prob­lem result­ing from our switch to hold­ing state-lev­el elec­tions every year instead of every two years.

I’d love to hear oppo­nents of this bill, like Andrew Barkis and Kim Wyman, offer some ideas of their own, instead of mere­ly dish­ing out crit­i­cism.

How would you boost turnout in odd-num­bered years if you want to keep elec­tions in those years? How would you ensure laws are not being made by small num­bers of vot­ers? We’ll glad­ly offer you space here on the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate to dis­cuss any answers to those ques­tions that you’d care to share.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

NPI to Evergreen State legislators: Phase out odd year elections to protect our democracy

Edi­tor’s Note: The fol­low­ing are NPI founder Andrew Vil­leneu­ve’s pre­pared remarks in sup­port of House Bill 2529, leg­is­la­tion prime spon­sored by State Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mia Gregerson and cospon­sored by NPI’s own Gael Tar­leton that seeks to imple­ment one of NPI’s top elec­toral reform pri­or­i­ties.

Madam Chair, Rank­ing Mem­ber Walsh, Mem­bers of the Com­mit­tee:

Good after­noon. For the record, my name is Andrew Vil­leneuve. I’m the founder and exec­u­tive direc­tor of the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute, based in Red­mond. I thank you for hear­ing this bill; this is an impor­tant and time­ly dis­cus­sion.

As state rep­re­sen­ta­tives, you all know that to pass a bill in this cham­ber, you need fifty votes. An absolute major­i­ty. It’s express­ly required by Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 22 of the Wash­ing­ton State Con­sti­tu­tion, writ­ten by our state’s founders in 1889:

No bill shall become a law unless on its final pas­sage the vote be tak­en by yeas and nays, the names of the mem­bers vot­ing for and against the same be entered on the jour­nal of each house, and a major­i­ty of the mem­bers elect­ed to each house be record­ed there­on as vot­ing in its favor.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, I’d like you to imag­ine for a few moments that this absolute major­i­ty vote require­ment did­n’t exist.

And for the pur­pos­es of this exer­cise, let’s imag­ine that the Con­sti­tu­tion’s quo­rum require­ment (Arti­cle II, Sec­tion 8) does­n’t exist either.

What would that mean? It would mean that just a hand­ful of rep­re­sen­ta­tives could gath­er on the floor of the House and pass a bill all by them­selves.

There are nine­ty-eight of you. But what if all it took to pass a bill was just twen­ty-five out of nine­ty-eight rep­re­sen­ta­tives present and vot­ing aye, instead of fifty?

Or nine­teen out of nine­ty-eight?

Would that be accept­able… a small sub­ma­jor­i­ty of the peo­ple’s rep­re­sen­ta­tives decid­ing what laws we should all live by?

That is akin to what hap­pened a lit­tle over four years ago, in 2015, when 19.13% of Wash­ing­ton State’s reg­is­tered vot­ers vot­ed yes on I‑1366. Few­er than one in five Wash­ing­ton vot­ers vot­ed for I‑1366, while over 80% either did not vote or vot­ed no. And yet,  I‑1366 passed any­way. Mean­while, the oth­er ini­tia­tive on the bal­lot that year — Paul Allen’s I‑1401 — received the sup­port of just 26.25% of the elec­torate, with near­ly three fourths of vot­ers not vot­ing or vot­ing no.

Such a thing would nev­er have hap­pened in Wash­ing­ton State’s ear­ly and mid­dle years, because until the 1970s, we did not hold state-lev­el elec­tions in odd-num­bered years. We only held them in even-num­bered years.

We now have decades of data that demon­strate that this was­n’t a good idea.

The ten low­est turnout gen­er­al elec­tions in state his­to­ry have all been in odd-num­bered years. Going back to 1973, there have been twelve odd-year gen­er­al elec­tions where turnout sur­passed fifty per­cent, and twelve where turnout was less than fifty per­cent. The future looks increas­ing­ly grim.

We haven’t had major­i­ty turnout in an odd-num­bered year since 2011. The odds are that odd-num­bered years will con­tin­ue to be plagued by low turnout.

On the oth­er hand, every sin­gle even num­bered year elec­tion going back decades has had major­i­ty turnout. Midterm years reg­u­lar­ly get over three-fifths turnout and pres­i­den­tial years some­times get over four-fifths turnout.

Despite our recent work to elim­i­nate bar­ri­ers to vot­ing dur­ing the last two years, turnout in last year’s elec­tion fell short of 50%. The major­i­ty who did not vote neglect­ed to return bal­lots, but they sent us a mes­sage nev­er­the­less.

The Framers of our Con­sti­tu­tion envi­sioned a state with a gov­ern­ment that oper­at­ed on the demo­c­ra­t­ic prin­ci­ple of major­i­ty rule with minor­i­ty rights.

That’s why they wrote Sec­tions 8 and 22 in Arti­cle II, the arti­cle of the Con­sti­tu­tion that estab­lish­es the Wash­ing­ton State Leg­is­la­ture. These care­ful­ly craft­ed pro­vi­sions pro­vide that a major­i­ty of each house con­sti­tutes a quo­rum and a major­i­ty of each house is required to pass bills.

How­ev­er, there are no con­sti­tu­tion­al pro­vi­sions requir­ing a min­i­mum vot­er turnout to pass ini­tia­tives. We could have vot­er turnout of just ten per­cent and have an ini­tia­tive pass with only 5.01% per­cent of reg­is­tered vot­ers cast­ing bal­lots.

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, that makes no sense!

We could estab­lish a min­i­mum turnout require­ment for ini­tia­tives and ref­er­en­da by amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion. But this leg­is­la­tion offers us an eas­i­er and sim­pler means of ensur­ing that laws are being made by the many instead of by a few. This leg­is­la­tion ends an unsuc­cess­ful exper­i­ment begun in the 1970s and sim­pli­fies our sys­tem of elec­tions by phas­ing out elec­tions in odd num­bered years.

This will reg­u­lar­ly save us mil­lions of dol­lars that could be devot­ed to oth­er pub­lic ser­vices and sig­nif­i­cant­ly reduce vot­er fatigue in addi­tion to ensur­ing that laws at the state lev­el are con­sid­ered or rejec­tion with much high­er lev­els of par­tic­i­pa­tion than what we saw in 2019, 2015, and oth­er odd-num­bered years.

Our neigh­bors south of the Colum­bia in Ore­gon get by just fine with­out state lev­el elec­tions in odd num­bered years. They allow more time for ini­tia­tive fil­ing and sig­na­ture gath­er­ing, as well, and we would do well to embrace that mod­el.… which is, as men­tioned, the mod­el we used to have here in Wash­ing­ton as well.

Please give this bill a “do pass” rec­om­men­da­tion so it con­tin­ues to advance.

Thank you.

Wednesday, January 22nd, 2020

Washington State Senate sends OSPI-backed sexual health education bill back to House

Leg­is­la­tion that would require med­ical­ly accu­rate, com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion to be taught in Wash­ing­ton’s pub­lic schools was revived today in the state Sen­ate, which vot­ed along par­ty lines to re-adopt Claire Wilson’s SB 5395 and return it to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for fur­ther con­sid­er­a­tion.

Request­ed by State Super­in­ten­dent of Pub­lic Instruc­tion Chris Reyk­dal, the bill is intend­ed to help young peo­ple at many dif­fer­ent stages of child­hood and young adult­hood make bet­ter deci­sions about their health and their future.

The bil­l’s main pro­vi­sions, as sum­ma­rized by the staff of the Sen­ate Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus (whose mem­bers sup­plied all of the votes for the bill), are as fol­lows:

  • Expand com­pre­hen­sive sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum to all grade 6–12 schools across the state, phased in over sev­er­al years;
  • Phase in age-appro­pri­ate cur­ricu­lum for K‑5 grades; and
  • Allow par­ents to exempt chil­dren from sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion class­es on request.

The roll call was as fol­lows:

Roll Call
SB 5395
Sex­u­al health edu­ca­tion
3rd Read­ing & Final Pas­sage

Yeas: 28; Nays: 21

Vot­ing Yea: Sen­a­tors Bil­lig, Car­lyle, Cleve­land, Con­way, Darneille, Das, Dhin­gra, Frockt, Hasegawa, Hobbs, Hunt, Keis­er, Kud­er­er, Liias, Lovelett, McCoy, Mul­let, Nguyen, Ped­er­sen, Ran­dall, Rolfes, Sal­daña, Salomon, Stan­ford, Takko, Van De Wege, Well­man, Wil­son (Claire)

Vot­ing Nay: Sen­a­tors Beck­er, Braun, Brown, Erick­sen, For­tu­na­to, Hawkins, Holy, Hon­ey­ford, King, Muz­za­ll, O‘Ban, Pad­den, Rivers, Schoesler, Shel­don, Short, Wag­oner, Walsh, War­nick, Wil­son (Lyn­da), Zeiger

“Some peo­ple hear the words ‘sex edu­ca­tion’ and mis­take the focus of the cur­ricu­lum, which is health and safe­ty, and is age-appro­pri­ate for each grade lev­el,” said Wil­son in a state­ment fol­low­ing the bil­l’s pas­sage. Wil­son serves as the vice chair of the Sen­ate Ear­ly Learn­ing and K‑12 Edu­ca­tion Com­mit­tee.

“This is about mak­ing sure younger chil­dren know what kind of touch­ing is inap­pro­pri­ate, whether by peers or preda­tors,” Wil­son added.

“It’s about help­ing old­er stu­dents rec­og­nize and resist abu­sive or coer­cive behav­ior. It’s about teach­ing all chil­dren to respect diver­si­ty and not to bul­ly oth­ers.”

“Stu­dents need a safe place to ask ques­tions, to ful­ly under­stand con­sent, and to have the infor­ma­tion they need to make safe deci­sions,” Wil­son empha­sized.

“There are chil­dren who will be tar­get­ed for molesta­tion in the com­ing year. There are young women who may face sex­u­al coer­cion or assault. They need access to infor­ma­tion and lessons that will enable them to make deci­sions to ensure their health and safe­ty.”

Our team at NPI strong­ly agrees. It’s why we’ve made adop­tion of SB 5395 one of our leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ties for the 2020 leg­isla­tive ses­sion.

We’re grate­ful to Sen­a­tor Wil­son for her efforts to advance this leg­is­la­tion. We also com­mend Sen­a­tor Lisa Well­man (D‑41st Dis­trict) and Sen­a­tor Man­ka Dhin­gra (D‑45th Dis­trict, also a North­west Pro­gres­sive Foun­da­tion board­mem­ber) for thought­ful­ly con­tribut­ing their per­spec­tives to the debate in sup­port of this bill. Their floor speech­es today were very mean­ing­ful and on point.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, much of what we heard from the Repub­li­can side today was utter non­sense. Phil For­tu­na­to offered hys­ter­i­cal rhetoric, while Doug Erick­sen sar­cas­ti­cal­ly offered his vote in exchange for Demo­c­ra­t­ic sup­port for vouch­ers.

Sad­ly, even though it’s 2020, sex­u­al­i­ty and sex­u­al health are still con­sid­ered by many to be taboo top­ics… which is tru­ly unfor­tu­nate.

As Sen­a­tor Wil­son says, knowl­edge is pow­er. Young peo­ple should­n’t have to rely on savvy peers or the Inter­net to learn how to take care of them­selves, under­stand their bod­ies, and main­tain appro­pri­ate rela­tion­ships built on con­sent and hon­est com­mu­ni­ca­tion. SB 5395 is leg­is­la­tion that young Wash­ing­to­ni­ans need.

Oppo­nents of SB 5395 keep disin­gen­u­ous­ly argu­ing that we should sim­ply “trust par­ents” to talk to their kids about these top­ics.

But most Wash­ing­ton par­ents choose to send their chil­dren to pub­lic schools as opposed to pri­vate schools or home-school­ing because they want their chil­dren to receive a well-round­ed edu­ca­tion taught by pro­fes­sion­al, knowl­edge­able instruc­tors using cur­ricu­lum that has been thor­ough­ly vet­ted.

Young peo­ple ben­e­fit just as much from learn­ing about sex­u­al health and con­sent as they do about math, sci­ence, lan­guages, the arts, or any oth­er sub­ject.

We encour­age any par­ent fol­low­ing the debate over SB 5395 who has con­cerns to read the bill, give Super­in­ten­dent Chris Reyk­dal’s office an oppor­tu­ni­ty to answer any ques­tions they may have, and review the exist­ing cur­ricu­lum that is already being offered to our stu­dents. Again, knowl­edge is pow­er!

Con­grat­u­la­tions to the Sen­ate on approv­ing this leg­is­la­tion. We’re ready to help move it through the State House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

Idaho Republican Jim Risch reportedly fell asleep today during Trump’s removal trial

Maybe he should just retire so he can have ample time for sies­tas?

Via The Wash­ing­ton Post:

The Demo­c­ra­t­ic case to sub­poe­na the State Depart­ment didn’t make much of an impres­sion on one key Repub­li­can sen­a­tor, James E. Risch of Ida­ho, who appeared to be asleep for a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of it.

Short­ly after 5:30 PM Risch — chair­man of the Sen­ate For­eign Rela­tions Com­mit­tee, which over­sees the State Depart­ment — could be seen from the press gallery motion­less, with his eyes closed and head slumped against his right hand.

Risch was the first law­mak­er seen by Wash­ing­ton Post reporters to clear­ly have fall­en asleep, about four hours after the tri­al pro­ceed­ings began Tues­day. When [Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Val] Dem­ings cued up video of tes­ti­mo­ny from U.S. Ambas­sador to the Euro­pean Union Gor­don Sond­land, Risch briefly perked up, but quick­ly closed his eyes again.

The appar­ent snooze end­ed about fif­teen min­utes lat­er, at 5:52 PM, after Dem­ings sum­ma­rized anoth­er video clip.

Grant­ed, it’s been a very long day of pro­ceed­ings in the Sen­ate.

But that’s the for­mat that Repub­li­cans chose. They are cur­rent­ly in the major­i­ty. They drew up the sched­ule for this tri­al and draft­ed the rules of pro­ce­dure to be pre­sent­ed to the Sen­ate for its con­sid­er­a­tion.

The Ida­ho States­man, the Gem State’s news­pa­per of record, also shared the above report with their read­ers in an arti­cle pub­lished on the front page.

Risch, sev­en­ty-six, is a for­mer gov­er­nor and lieu­tenant gov­er­nor of Ida­ho with an arch­con­ser­v­a­tive vot­ing record. He has served in the Unit­ed States Sen­ate for eleven years, suc­ceed­ing fel­low Repub­li­can Lar­ry Craig, who became infa­mous after being arrest­ed in a Min­neapo­lis air­port bath­room stall in 2007.

Risch is a major ally of the Nation­al Rifle Asso­ci­a­tion (NRA) and reli­ably votes in lock­step with Mitch McConnell and Don­ald Trump on pret­ty much every­thing. If you look at the archives of Last Week In Con­gress, you can see that Risch is aligned with Trump and McConnell near­ly one hun­dred per­cent of the time.

The Sen­ate, as of the time this post was writ­ten, was still in the mid­dle of debat­ing a series of amend­ments offered by the Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus to the tri­al rules of pro­ce­dure. The fifty-three Sen­ate Repub­li­cans have defeat­ed the first four amend­ments to be offered by the Democ­rats so far.

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Martin Luther King, Jr.: “Injustice must be exposed… to the light of human conscience”

Today is Mar­tin Luther King Jr. Day, and like we do every year in hon­or of Dr. King’s mem­o­ry, I’m post­ing an excerpt from his Let­ter From Birm­ing­ham Jail.

In these pas­sages, Dr. King is express­ing his impa­tience and deep dis­ap­point­ment with so-called “white mod­er­ates”, who he laments are more con­cerned with order than jus­tice. Dr. King open­ly pon­ders whether “white mod­er­ates” are a big­ger “stum­bling block” pre­vent­ing the advance­ment of the cause of civ­il rights than racist white suprema­cist groups like the Ku Klux Klan.

Dr. King goes on to explain that injus­tice requires expo­sure, and that the “ten­sion” that white mod­er­ates wor­ry about already exist­ed before the work of the civ­il rights move­ment brought it to the sur­face for exam­i­na­tion.

Many decades have elapsed since these words were writ­ten. Sad­ly, racism and injus­tice remain a painful real­i­ty for many peo­ple in this coun­try.

Nev­er­the­less, the strug­gle for greater free­dom and equal­i­ty con­tin­ues.

Here’s Dr. King. (Note that typos are con­tained in the orig­i­nal man­u­script.)

I must make two hon­est con­fes­sions to you, my Chris­t­ian and Jew­ish broth­ers. First, I must con­fess that over the past few years I have been grave­ly dis­ap­point­ed with the white mod­er­ate.

I have almost reached the regret­table con­clu­sion that the Negro’s great stum­bling block in his stride toward free­dom is not the White Cit­i­zen’s Coun­cil­er or the Ku Klux Klan­ner, but the white mod­er­ate, who is more devot­ed to “order” than to jus­tice; who prefers a neg­a­tive peace which is the absence of ten­sion to a pos­i­tive peace which is the pres­ence of jus­tice; who con­stant­ly says:

“I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can­not agree with your meth­ods of direct action”; who pater­nal­is­ti­cal­ly believes he can set the timetable for anoth­er man’s free­dom; who lives by a myth­i­cal con­cept of time and who con­stant­ly advis­es the Negro to wait for a “more con­ve­nient sea­son.”

Shal­low under­stand­ing from peo­ple of good will is more frus­trat­ing than absolute mis­un­der­stand­ing from peo­ple of ill will. Luke­warm accep­tance is much more bewil­der­ing than out­right rejec­tion.

I had hoped that the white mod­er­ate would under­stand that law and order exist for the pur­pose of estab­lish­ing jus­tice and that when they fail in this pur­pose they become the dan­ger­ous­ly struc­tured dams that block the flow of social progress.

I had hoped that the white mod­er­ate would under­stand that the present ten­sion in the South is a nec­es­sary phase of the tran­si­tion from an obnox­ious neg­a­tive peace, in which the Negro pas­sive­ly accept­ed his unjust plight, to a sub­stan­tive and pos­i­tive peace, in which all men will respect the dig­ni­ty and worth of human per­son­al­i­ty.

Actu­al­ly, we who engage in non­vi­o­lent direct action are not the cre­ators of ten­sion. We mere­ly bring to the sur­face the hid­den ten­sion that is already alive. We bring it out in the open, where it can be seen and dealt with. Like a boil that can nev­er be cured so long as it is cov­ered up but must be opened with all its ugli­ness to the nat­ur­al med­i­cines of air and light, injus­tice must be exposed, with all the ten­sion its expo­sure cre­ates, to the light of human con­science and the air of nation­al opin­ion before it can be cured.

Take a few min­utes today to read the whole thing.

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Documentary Review: “Race to Nowhere” may be ten years old, but it has aged well

After the sui­cide of a high-achiev­ing thir­teen-year-old girl in her com­mu­ni­ty, Vic­ki Abeles was moved to make the film “Race to Nowhere” to bring atten­tion to some of the prob­lems with the Amer­i­can edu­ca­tion sys­tem.

Though the film is now ten years old, it remains high­ly rel­e­vant.

The film’s main crit­i­cism is for the large and increas­ing amounts of home­work that Amer­i­can school chil­dren, even ele­men­tary school stu­dents, are expect­ed to com­plete every day. This home­work, and the pres­sure to do well and get into a good col­lege, are cre­at­ing high lev­els of stress for stu­dents, with­out result­ing in stu­dents actu­al­ly learn­ing more or being bet­ter pre­pared for col­lege or career.

Race to Nowhere Film Poster

Race to Nowhere
Release Year: 2010
Direc­tors: Vic­ki Abeles, Jes­si­ca Con­g­don
Run­ning Time: 1 hour, 25 min­utes
Watch trail­er | Watch film (until 01/31/2020)

Abeles spoke to teach­ers, doc­tors, par­ents, and stu­dents, includ­ing her own chil­dren, to paint a full pic­ture of the impacts of high pres­sure for aca­d­e­m­ic suc­cess and too much home­work.

Home­work, it turns out, is of lim­it­ed val­ue, espe­cial­ly at younger ages.

Stud­ies show that in ele­men­tary school, there is no cor­re­la­tion between any amount of home­work and aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment; in oth­er words, there is no val­ue in or rea­son to assign home­work to ele­men­tary school­ers.

For mid­dle school­ers, there is some ben­e­fit.

There is cor­re­la­tion with high­er aca­d­e­m­ic achieve­ment, but it drops off after about one hour of home­work per day. In high school, the cor­re­la­tion caps at about two hours per day. Any­thing above these amounts is of lit­tle to no ben­e­fit.

Stud­ies have also shown that coun­tries that out­per­form the Unit­ed States aca­d­e­m­i­cal­ly give less home­work than US schools do.

Dr. Wendy Mogel, a clin­i­cal psy­chol­o­gist, says that kids these days are over­sched­uled and tired. Chil­dren, includ­ing teenagers, are still grow­ing, and need nine hours of sleep each night. But many are not get­ting that much because they are too busy with school activ­i­ties and home­work.

“This is a form of neglect,” says Dr. Mogel.

When it comes to home­work, rather than assign­ing a high vol­ume, teach­ers and school admin­is­tra­tors should instead ask them­selves two ques­tions:

  1. What is the pur­pose of the home­work?
  2. And what is devel­op­men­tal­ly appro­pri­ate?

“All along the way, we’re miss­ing devel­op­men­tal tasks with a pre­oc­cu­pa­tion with per­for­mance,” says one of the sub­jects in the film.

Schools and par­ents also tend to for­get that play is very impor­tant for learn­ing and social­iza­tion, espe­cial­ly for young chil­dren.

A teacher in Oak­land, Cal­i­for­nia, Dar­rick Smith, thinks the cur­rent edu­ca­tion sys­tem is dehu­man­iz­ing. He feels the sys­tem is try­ing to fur­ther “roboti­cize” stu­dents, to make them aca­d­e­m­ic com­peti­tors and pro­duc­ers.

Anoth­er teacher dis­cuss­es how stu­dents are not real­ly learn­ing what they will need to suc­ceed in jobs. Jobs need you to be a crit­i­cal thinker, a prob­lem solver, and to work well in groups, she says, but learn­ing and prac­tic­ing these things are pushed aside in schools, where it’s all about test­ing now.

In gen­er­al, Amer­i­can stu­dents do not per­form as well as stu­dents in oth­er coun­tries, espe­cial­ly in sci­ence and math.

This is par­tial­ly relat­ed to how we teach math and sci­ence, accord­ing to the film. We teach math and sci­ence in a very for­mu­la­ic way, and we teach to the test.

Anoth­er thing oth­er coun­tries are doing bet­ter than the Unit­ed States is invest­ing in teach­ers and pro­vid­ing them with pro­fes­sion­al pay. Those that invest more in teach­ers are out­per­form­ing the Unit­ed States. This is because qual­i­ty of teach­ing is what mat­ters most in edu­ca­tion, accord­ing to a study cit­ed in the film.

The film fair­ly places a lot of the blame on the No Child Left Behind Act of 2002. Thank­ful­ly, one thing that has changed since the release of the film is that NCLB was repealed in 2015. How­ev­er many of the same prob­lems that No Child Left Behind cre­at­ed or exac­er­bat­ed con­tin­ue, even with it no longer in force.

There is still too much empha­sis on test­ing. Teach­ers are still held to high stan­dards with­out receiv­ing fair com­pen­sa­tion or the sup­port need­ed to ade­quate­ly do their jobs. Teacher strikes have become a reg­u­lar occur­rence through­out the coun­try over the last few years, as teach­ers fight not just for fair com­pen­sa­tion for them­selves, but for bet­ter learn­ing con­di­tions for their stu­dents.

Abeles made anoth­er film, “Beyond Mea­sure”, in 2014, that fur­ther explores some of these issues in schools, and also pub­lished a book with the same name.

Stream Race to Nowhere for free

“Race to Nowhere” can be screened for free until Jan­u­ary 31st on the film’s web­site, and is also avail­able on tra­di­tion­al stream­ing ser­vices such as iTunes, YouTube, and Google Play, for a fee, if you miss the free stream­ing spe­cial.

On the film’s web­site you can also request to host a screen­ing of the film in your com­mu­ni­ty, find more infor­ma­tion and resources about edu­ca­tion issues, and learn about ways to take action to improve schools.

Sunday, January 19th, 2020

Last Week In Congress: How Cascadia’s U.S. lawmakers voted (January 13th-17th)

Good morn­ing! Here’s how Cascadia’s Mem­bers of Con­gress vot­ed on major issues dur­ing the leg­isla­tive week end­ing Fri­day, Jan­u­ary 17th.

In the United States House of Representatives

Chamber of the United States House of Representatives

The House cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

SENDING IMPEACHMENT ARTICLES TO SENATE: Vot­ing 228 for and 193 against, the House on Jan­u­ary 15th adopt­ed a res­o­lu­tion send­ing to the Sen­ate the two arti­cles of impeach­ment against Pres­i­dent Trump the House approved on Decem­ber 18th. Min­neso­ta Demo­c­rat Collin Peter­son, who vot­ed with Repub­li­cans in oppo­si­tion, was the only mem­ber to break par­ty ranks.

The mea­sure (House Res­o­lu­tion 798) also appoint­ed sev­en House Democ­rats to make the case for impeach­ment in a Sen­ate tri­al now under­way.

If con­vict­ed by a two-thirds vote of sen­a­tors present, Trump would be removed from office. Trump has denied any wrong­do­ing, and lead­ers of the Senate’s Repub­li­can major­i­ty have pre­dict­ed acquit­tal.

Jer­rold Nadler, D‑New York, said “This tri­al is nec­es­sary because Pres­i­dent Trump grave­ly abused the pow­er of his office when he strong-armed a for­eign gov­ern­ment to launch inves­ti­ga­tions into his domes­tic polit­i­cal rival.…And then he vio­lat­ed the Con­sti­tu­tion by stonewalling Con­gress’ efforts to inves­ti­gate…”

Minor­i­ty Leader Kevin McCarthy, R‑California, said: “This was all an exer­cise in raw par­ti­san pol­i­tics con­trary to the inten­tions of our founders…the fastest and weak­est and thinnest impeach­ment in Amer­i­can his­to­ry.”

A yes vote was to send the two impeach­ment arti­cles to the Sen­ate (see the impeach­ment vote in this spe­cial edi­tion of LWIC) and appoint tri­al man­agers.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simp­son

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 5 nay votes, 1 not vot­ing

RELAXING EVIDENCE STANDARD FOR AGE DISCRIMINATION: Vot­ing 261 for and 155 against, the House on Jan­u­ary 15th passed a bill (H.R. 1320) that would relax the stan­dard of proof for plain­tiffs to win law­suits filed under the Age Dis­crim­i­na­tion in Employ­ment Act of 1967.

The law pro­tects job appli­cants and employ­ees against age-based bias in hir­ing and fir­ing, pro­mo­tions, com­pen­sa­tion and oth­er con­di­tions of employ­ment.

Under a 2009 Supreme Court deci­sion, plain­tiffs must prove by a pre­pon­der­ance of the evi­dence that their age was the sole basis for an adverse employ­ment deci­sion.

This bill would restore the law’s orig­i­nal, less-restric­tive stan­dard under which plain­tiffs must prove age was only a moti­vat­ing fac­tor — not the sole fac­tor — behind the deci­sion. In addi­tion, the bill spec­i­fies that the less demand­ing stan­dard also applies to law­suits filed under the Amer­i­cans With Dis­abil­i­ties Act of 1990 (com­mon­ly abbre­vi­at­ed as the ADA), the Reha­bil­i­ta­tion Act of 1973 and the anti­re­tal­ia­to­ry pro­vi­sions of Title VII of the Civ­il Rights Act of 1964.

The Pacif­ic North­west­’s own Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, D‑Oregon, said “age dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place remains dis­turbing­ly per­va­sive. Accord­ing to the AARP, three in five work­ers over the age of 45 report­ed see­ing or expe­ri­enc­ing age dis­crim­i­na­tion on the job. Amer­i­cans are liv­ing and work­ing longer, and we must do all we can to pro­tect them from dis­crim­i­na­tion.”

Tim Wal­berg, R‑Michigan, said: “Right now, we have an econ­o­my that is boom­ing… Our focus should be on pro­tect­ing work­ers and encour­ag­ing greater work­force par­tic­i­pa­tion and not reward­ing lawyers through increased oppor­tu­ni­ties to gar­ner legal fees… This bill is designed to help attor­neys, not work­ers.”

A yes vote was to send the bill to the Sen­ate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Russ Fulcher

Not Vot­ing (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Mike Simp­son

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (5): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (8): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck; Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Dan New­house and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 13 aye votes, 3 nay votes, 1 not vot­ing

BLOCKING ADMINISTRATION RULE ON STUDENT LOANS: Vot­ing 231 for and 180 against, the House on Jan­u­ary 16th nul­li­fied a new Trump admin­is­tra­tion rule that would offer poten­tial debt relief to cer­tain stu­dents defraud­ed by their col­lege in obtain­ing a fed­er­al edu­ca­tion loan but quash Oba­ma-era “bor­row­er defense” pro­tec­tions for stu­dents enrolled in for-prof­it col­leges.

The mea­sure (House Joint Res­o­lu­tion 76) was spon­sored by Democ­rats. The Trump rule would apply to defraud­ed stu­dents at pri­vate and pub­lic insti­tu­tions as well as for-prof­it col­leges but would help far few­er stu­dents than the Oba­ma rule because of stricter eli­gi­bil­i­ty stan­dards for obtain­ing relief.

Andy Levin, D‑Michigan, said Trump admin­is­tra­tion offi­cials “will go to the ends of the earth to defend preda­to­ry for-prof­it col­leges at the expense of our stu­dents and tax­pay­ers.” He said their rule “cre­ates unnec­es­sary obsta­cles for stu­dents seek­ing debt relief” from these schools.

Vir­ginia Foxx, R‑North Car­oli­na, said: “Where the Oba­ma admin­is­tra­tion went hay­wire was when they blurred the dis­tinc­tion between what acts or omis­sions con­sti­tute fraud ver­sus an inad­ver­tent mis­take.” She said that under the Oba­ma rule, “a sin­gle mar­ket­ing error” could sub­ject the school to finan­cial duress.

A yes vote was to send the res­o­lu­tion to the Sen­ate.

The State of Idaho

Vot­ing Nay (2): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simp­son

The State of Oregon

Vot­ing Aye (4): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzanne Bonam­i­ci, Earl Blu­me­nauer, Peter DeFazio, Kurt Schrad­er

Vot­ing Nay (1): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Greg Walden

The State of Washington

Vot­ing Aye (7): Demo­c­ra­t­ic Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Suzan Del­Bene, Rick Larsen, Derek Kilmer, Prami­la Jaya­pal, Kim Schri­er, Adam Smith, and Den­ny Heck

Vot­ing Nay (3): Repub­li­can Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Jaime Her­rera-Beut­ler, Dan New­house, and Cathy McMor­ris Rodgers

Cas­ca­dia total: 11 aye votes, 6 nay votes

In the United States Senate

Chamber of the United States Senate

The Sen­ate cham­ber (U.S. Con­gress pho­to)

SETTING NEW RULES FOR NORTH AMERICAN TRADE: Vot­ing 89 for and 10 against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 16th passed a bill (H.R. 5430) giv­ing final con­gres­sion­al approval to the Unit­ed States-Mex­i­co-Cana­da Agree­ment (USMCA), which would replace the twen­ty-five-year-old North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment (NAFTA) as the frame­work for com­merce among the three coun­tries.

The agree­ment requires Mex­i­co to guar­an­tee work­ers the right to join unions and engage in col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing; autho­rizes fast-track probes of labor vio­la­tions in Mex­i­co and fac­to­ry-spe­cif­ic penal­ties when trans­gres­sions are found; gives U.S. dairy and poul­try farm­ers more access to Cana­di­an mar­kets; rais­es envi­ron­men­tal stan­dards but does not address cli­mate change; sets wage require­ments that ben­e­fit U.S. and Cana­di­an auto fac­to­ries over Mex­i­co’s; and pro­tects Inter­net com­pa­nies against lia­bil­i­ty for their users’ con­tent.

Our own Ron Wyden, D‑Oregon, said the agree­men­t’s strong rules on dig­i­tal trade and tech­nol­o­gy “pro­tect every sin­gle Amer­i­can indus­try” while empow­er­ing the Unit­ed States “to fight back against author­i­tar­i­an gov­ern­ments that use the Inter­net as a tool to repress their own peo­ple, bul­ly Amer­i­can busi­ness­es and work­ers and med­dle with the free speech rights of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens.”

Pat Toomey, R‑Pennsylvania, object­ed to the fact that the bil­l’s $843 bil­lion open­ing price tag was not off­set else­where in the fed­er­al bud­get and there­fore would increase the nation­al debt.

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

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

CONFIRMING PETER GAYNOR AS FEMA CHIEF: Vot­ing 81 for and eight against, the Sen­ate on Jan­u­ary 14th con­firmed Peter T. Gaynor as admin­is­tra­tor of the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency, where he had been deputy admin­is­tra­tor and then act­ing admin­is­tra­tor between Octo­ber 2018 and March 2019. Gaynor, the direc­tor of the Rhode Island Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency between 2015–2018, is a Marine Corps vet­er­an who served in Iraq.

A yes vote was to con­firm the nom­i­nee.

The State of Idaho

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

The State of Oregon

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

The State of Washington

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

Cas­ca­dia total: 6 aye votes

Key votes ahead

The Sen­ate will con­duct an impeach­ment tri­al of Pres­i­dent Trump dur­ing the week of Jan­u­ary 20th, while the House will be in recess.

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

© 2020 Thomas Vot­ing Reports.

Saturday, January 18th, 2020

Iowa 2020 Democratic presidential debate recap: How did the six candidates fare?

The sev­enth Demo­c­ra­t­ic debate saw the small­est set of can­di­dates on stage yet in the con­test for the par­ty’s pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion. The debate, host­ed by CNN and the Des Moines Reg­is­ter in Des Moines, Iowa, was the final one before the Iowa Demo­c­ra­t­ic cau­cus­es take place on Feb­ru­ary 3rd. The can­di­dates on stage were:

  • For­mer Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden
  • Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders
  • Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren
  • May­or Pee Buttigieg
  • Sen­a­tor Amy Klobuchar
  • Bil­lion­aire Tom Stey­er

Here’s an assess­ment of how each can­di­date fared in the debate.

Joe Biden

Biden campaigns in Des Moines, Iowa

Biden cam­paigns in Des Moines, Iowa (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Biden’s per­for­mance was, at best, under­whelm­ing.

In pre­vi­ous per­for­mances, the Vice Pres­i­dent has tried to stir the crowd with rous­ing exhor­ta­tions on the great­ness of Amer­i­ca and, while he expressed sim­i­lar sen­ti­ment this time round, the ener­gy seemed to have been drained from his mes­sage.

While he nev­er quite devolved to the lev­el of his famous “record play­er” gib­ber­ish, his answers were occa­sion­al­ly ram­bling and con­fused. His descrip­tion of his own health­care plan in par­tic­u­lar was inco­her­ent, but he did at least get across the vital point that peo­ple will be able to stay on their cur­rent insur­ance.

While Biden failed to give a great per­for­mance, it hard­ly mat­tered.

He is the de fac­to fron­trun­ner and – incred­i­bly – none of his rivals on stage laid a glove on him. While the two pro­gres­sive can­di­dates sparred with each oth­er (egged on by the CNN mod­er­a­tors Wolf Blitzer and Abby Phillips), and Klobuchar and Buttigieg briefly renewed their spat over expe­ri­ence, nobody felt inclined to take on the can­di­date who remains con­sis­tent­ly ahead in the polls.

There were so many oppor­tu­ni­ties to take Biden to task, and all of them were dropped with­out notice. He was able to pass off his enthu­si­as­tic sup­port for the Iraq occu­pa­tion as a mere “mis­take,” and in return Bernie Sanders mere­ly offered that he “had a dif­fer­ent opin­ion.” When the debate turned to trade agree­ments, nobody even men­tioned that Biden vot­ed for NAFTA and oth­er con­tro­ver­sial trade deals. Nobody bat­ted an eye when he said he would leave troops in the Per­sian Gulf – in oth­er words, on the bor­ders of Iran.

When mod­er­a­tors asked how the can­di­dates could draw black sup­port, nobody brought up his high­ly prob­lem­at­ic past in racial pol­i­tics. The list goes on and on!

The oth­er can­di­dates’ fail­ure to take Biden to task can­not be cred­it­ed to Biden, espe­cial­ly since he out­right lied con­cern­ing his Iraq inva­sion posi­tion.

How­ev­er, their fail­ure will be to Biden’s advan­tage, and this debate will go down as anoth­er missed oppor­tu­ni­ty to weak­en Biden’s posi­tion.

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders walking in a parade

U.S. Sen­a­tor Bernie Sanders walk­ing in the Inde­pen­dence Day parade with sup­port­ers in Ames, Iowa. (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Sanders had a tough night, fend­ing off attacks from all sides.

Attacks against Sanders’ poli­cies by Biden, Buttigieg and Klobuchar by this point are to be expect­ed, giv­en his pro­pos­als’ rad­i­cal aims and these can­di­dates’ pref­er­ence for sta­tus quo solu­tions. Most of these can­di­dates’ attacks on Sanders’ plans were inef­fec­tive re-hash­ings of lines from pre­vi­ous debates.

The hos­til­i­ty of the CNN mod­er­a­tors towards Sanders was rather more sur­pris­ing; the very first fol­low-up ques­tion he received unfair­ly equiv­o­cat­ed Biden’s vote on the Iraq occu­pa­tion (an ille­gal inva­sion based on false evi­dence) to Sanders’ vote for the con­flict in Afghanistan (a direct response to the Sep­tem­ber 11th attacks).

The hos­til­i­ty con­tin­ued from the mod­er­a­tors through­out the night:

  • his oppo­si­tion to Trump’s trade deal, the Unit­ed States-Mex­i­co-Cana­da agree­ment was described as “unwill­ing­ness to com­pro­mise”;
  • his call for troops to leave the Mid­dle East was com­pared to speech­es by Iran’s Aya­tol­lah Khamenei;
  • they asked if his Medicare for All plan would “bank­rupt the coun­try”;
  • and when the debate turned to the ques­tion of whether a woman can be pres­i­dent, the mod­er­a­tors addressed a ques­tion to Sen­a­tor Eliz­a­beth War­ren as if Sanders wasn’t even there.

The most sur­pris­ing oppo­si­tion Sanders faced was from Eliz­a­beth War­ren.

The Mass­a­chu­setts Sen­a­tor used a CNN sto­ry that claimed Sanders didn’t believe a woman could win a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion to bur­nish her elec­toral cre­den­tials (she has nev­er lost an elec­tion) and make a pitch for her own can­di­da­cy.

Sanders response was strong and sub­stan­tive, but it was obvi­ous that he felt hurt by Warren’s attack. While point­ing out that he had encour­aged War­ren to run for Pres­i­dent if the Unit­ed States in 2016 and sup­port­ed the Clin­ton cam­paign against Trump, some of his best lines were under­mined by a clear irri­tabil­i­ty in his voice: “Who believes a woman can’t win? Of course a woman can win,” he huffed.

In this debate, the two pro­gres­sive cham­pi­ons soured on each oth­er – rather than mov­ing on, Sanders decid­ed to dis­pute Warren’s claim that none of the men on stage had beat­en a Repub­li­can incum­bent in thir­ty years, bring­ing up his 1990 elec­tion to Con­gress in Ver­mont to the U.S. House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

This cre­at­ed an awk­ward pause while the can­di­dates did math on live tele­vi­sion (tech­ni­cal­ly, Sanders’ vic­to­ry was twen­ty-nine years and two months ago).

After the debate, the two had a terse inter­ac­tion in which War­ren refused to shake Sanders’ hand and Sanders turned his back on his one-time ally.

If this proves to be the end of the unspo­ken “nonag­gres­sion pact” between the two cam­paigns, it is more like­ly to harm pro­gres­sives than help their cause.

How­ev­er, Sanders cer­tain­ly helped the cause of Demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism in Amer­i­ca. When asked if a social­ist could be elect­ed in the U.S., he respond­ed by lay­ing out the “fraud­u­lence” of the Trump Admin­is­tra­tion. In con­trast to Trump’s cor­rup­tion and fraud, Sanders placed his poli­cies like the Green New Deal and Medicare for All – “that’s what Demo­c­ra­t­ic social­ism is about and that will win this elec­tion!”

Eliz­a­beth War­ren

Elizabeth Warren campaigns in Marshalltown, Iowa

Eliz­a­beth War­ren cam­paigns in Mar­shall­town, Iowa (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

War­ren had the best per­for­mance of the night by focus­ing intense­ly on two issues: the cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion in our nation’s cap­i­tal, and her elec­tabil­i­ty as a woman.

Pos­si­bly tak­ing a leaf from Bernie Sanders’ style of rhetoric, War­ren skill­ful­ly showed how every issue fac­ing the coun­try is inhib­it­ed by cor­po­rate greed, whether it be fos­sil fuel com­pa­nies deny­ing cli­mate change, cor­po­ra­tions “whis­per­ing in the ears” of U.S. trade nego­tia­tors, or the mil­i­tary indus­tri­al com­plex pro­long­ing the destruc­tion of war in the Mid­dle East.

War­ren described the issue of cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion in Wash­ing­ton in such depth and sophis­ti­ca­tion that it made can­di­dates with sim­i­lar argu­ments (par­tic­u­lar­ly Tom Stey­er) appear to be fol­low­ing her lead.

Warren’s even greater achieve­ment in this debate was to dis­pel the notion of “elec­tabil­i­ty” that has dogged her cam­paign from the out­set.

Con­front­ed at the start of a cam­paign with a mod­er­a­tor ques­tion­ing her cred­i­bil­i­ty as a com­­man­der-in-chief, she brought up her three broth­ers in the mil­i­tary, and her time as a sen­a­tor vis­it­ing troops over­seas.

She also used the bold­est lan­guage of any can­di­date in describ­ing America’s wars, say­ing that com­bat troops in the Mid­dle East “are not help­ing” the sit­u­a­tion, show­ing a stronger grasp of for­eign affairs than most Amer­i­can polit­i­cal fig­ures.

Despite the long-term dam­age she may have brought upon her­ can­di­da­cy by choos­ing to spar with Sanders, she also man­aged to demon­strate that – as a woman – she is elec­table. Her point that she has nev­er lost an elec­tion was bol­stered by approv­ing com­ments from Amy Klobuchar, and evi­dence that since 2016 female can­di­dates have out­per­formed male ones in U.S. elec­tions. Her dec­la­ra­tion got by far the largest cheer of the night from the audi­ence.

War­ren, like Biden, was helped by the fact that none of the oth­er can­di­dates or mod­er­a­tors seemed keen to take shots at her ideas.

While Sanders was lam­bast­ed for his pro­pos­als, War­ren remained unscathed.

In ear­li­er debates her biggest weak­ness was health­care, but this time she eas­i­ly put Pete Buttigieg on the defen­sive over the issue, imply­ing simul­ta­ne­ous­ly that his num­bers didn’t add up and his plan was unam­bi­tious.

The only oth­er crit­i­cisms she faced over health­care were a few eas­i­­ly-ignor­able “pipe dream” quips that Amy Klobuchar had recy­cled from ear­li­er debates.

War­ren did a bet­ter job than any oth­er can­di­date of wed­ding her plans to the tough issues that Amer­i­cans face: her health­care plan would help the 36 mil­lion Amer­i­cans who couldn’t fill pre­scrip­tions in 2019; she called her 2% wealth tax “an invest­ment in our babies”; her mil­i­tary cre­den­tials ran through her fam­i­ly; and she pro­mot­ed her posi­tion on trade deals as a way to help strug­gling Iowan farm­ers.

War­ren proved once again in this debate that she is for­mi­da­ble.

How­ev­er, her hopes of win­ning the nom­i­na­tion may well depend on being able to secure the sup­port of Bernie Sanders and his sup­port­ers; if so, she can­not afford for her rela­tion­ship with Sanders to degrade any fur­ther.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg at a campaign event in Des Moines, Iowa. He is expected to perform well at the state's caucus.

May­or Pete Buttigieg at a cam­paign event in Des Moines, Iowa. He is expect­ed to per­form well at the state’s cau­cus (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

Buttigieg had a some­what dis­ap­point­ing debate, as he failed to cap­i­tal­ize on his strongest attrib­ut­es. Despite it being one of the key fac­tors in his cam­paign, he didn’t real­ly empha­size his mil­i­tary record, except to make a long-wind­ed and fair­ly point­less aside about a com­rade who was forced to leave his tod­dler to be on duty.

This was despite an obvi­ous attempt to stir con­flict between him and Min­neso­ta’s Amy Klobuchar by the mod­er­a­tors over ear­li­er com­ments both had made con­cern­ing expe­ri­ence (nei­ther can­di­date took the bait).

In ear­li­er debates, the may­or had been an effec­tive crit­ic of War­ren and Sanders’ Medicare for All pro­pos­als. Per­haps learn­ing from expe­ri­ence, War­ren put Buttigieg on the back foot over health­care straight­away, sug­gest­ing that his plan was only more afford­able because it is less ambi­tious than hers. He found him­self almost plead­ing with the Sen­a­tor that his plan “would be a game-chang­er, this would be the biggest thing we’ve done in Amer­i­can health­care in half a cen­tu­ry.”

On oth­er pol­i­cy issues, he was sub­stan­tive – for exam­ple, he had clear tar­gets for afford­able child­care, some­thing Amer­i­cans bad­ly need – but he failed to make his plans stand out in the way the lead­ing can­di­dates did.

How­ev­er, Buttigieg dodged a bul­let when it came to mat­ters of race.

When asked why he has so lit­tle sup­port from com­mu­ni­ties of col­or, he respond­ed, “the black peo­ple who know me best are sup­port­ing me.”

Luck­i­ly for him, nobody seemed to notice that his answer was effec­tive­ly the same as “I have black friends” and the debate moved quick­ly on.

In a state like Iowa, which has a small black pop­u­la­tion, racial equi­ty will not be an issue that will hin­der Buttigieg’s can­di­da­cy. How­ev­er, if he does not address his his­to­ry with race and pol­i­tics in South Bend, it could wreak hav­oc for his cam­paign lat­er in the pri­maries (par­tic­u­lar­ly in South Car­oli­na on Feb­ru­ary 29th).

Over­all, Buttigieg did lit­tle to help or harm him­self in the Iowa debate.

He failed to land any impres­sive punch­es on his rivals, but none of them seemed par­tic­u­lar­ly inter­est­ed in real­ly tak­ing him on in his weak spots either.

Amy Klobuchar


Minnesota’s Amy Klobuchar at times seems to be run­ning in a dif­fer­ent pres­i­den­tial pri­ma­ry than the oth­er can­di­dates.

While Buttigieg and Biden care­ful­ly tried to explain why their plans are real­ly just as ambi­tious as Medicare for All, Klobuchar laughed and told Democ­ratic audi­ences that the pol­i­cy (which is over­whelm­ing­ly sup­port­ed by Democ­rats) is not a plan, but “a pipe dream.” While War­ren reeled off num­bers like “36 mil­lion pre­scrip­tions” and “2% wealth tax,” Klobuchar seemed con­tent to tell sto­ries about look­ing at name-tags on coats, and promis­ing to give Don­ald Trump a big telling off: “the Mid­west isn’t fly­over coun­try for me!”

Although eight years between 2008 and 2016 proved deci­sive­ly that the Repub­li­cans will oppose a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pres­i­dent no mat­ter what efforts they make to reach a bipar­ti­san con­sen­sus, Klobuchar seems to believe that she can mag­i­cal­ly find “com­mon ground instead of scorched earth.”

While dis­cussing her elec­tion record (“I have won every race, every place, every time!”) she offered Democ­rats the tan­ta­liz­ing idea that, after defeat by Klobuchar, Trump would fol­low the prece­dent of her oth­er Repub­li­can oppo­nents and get “out of pol­i­tics for good.” Anoth­er time, an incred­i­bly sprawl­ing anec­dote about the 1950s McCarthy era pro­duced a great line about the 2020 elec­tion: “This is a decen­cy check on our gov­ern­ment. This is a patri­o­tism check.”

We are not like­ly to see much more of Amy Klobuchar.

Klobuchar cur­rent­ly sits in the sin­gle dig­its in Iowa polls, far behind the top four com­peti­tors, and giv­en her insis­tent rep­e­ti­tion of her Mid­west cre­den­tials, a bad defeat in her neigh­bor­ing state will prob­a­bly prove fatal for her cam­paign.

Tom Stey­er

Tom Steyer addresses 2019 California Democratic Party state convention

Tom Stey­er achieved nation­al fame through the Need to Impeach cam­paign (Pho­to: Gage Skid­more, repro­duced under Cre­ative Com­mons license)

For most of the debate, Tom Stey­er just seemed pleased to be on stage with a slight­ly goofy grin on his face (and an unset­tling ten­den­cy to talk straight at the cam­era). He was right to be so pleased; he bare­ly squeaked into the debate with two ear­ly state polls at the last moment.

He was asked on stage about whether the mil­lions he spent on a cam­paign to impeach Trump was “worth it,” but per­haps a more per­ti­nent ques­tion would be to ask if the mil­lions he spent to get on the debate stage was worth it.

Stey­er had two cen­tral themes to his argu­ments: first­ly, that he would pri­or­i­tize cli­mate change; and sec­ond­ly that he was able to bring an outsider’s per­spec­tive to Wash­ing­ton pol­i­tics. He didn’t real­ly prove either point.

Although he called cli­mate action his “num­ber one pri­or­i­ty” five dif­fer­ent times through the night, Stey­er failed to lay out exact­ly what he would do, beyond declar­ing a state of emer­gency over the issue.

In con­trast, Bernie Sanders tout­ed his Green New Deal and oppo­si­tion to Trump’s trade deal on cli­mate grounds, while Joe Biden referred back to cli­mate action bills he spon­sored back in the 1980s and laid out a num­ber of poli­cies, from charg­ing sta­tions to tree-plan­t­i­ng. Accord­ing to Stey­er, these can­di­dates do not pri­or­i­tize cli­mate jus­tice enough, yet they had more to say on the issue.

While Stey­er claims to have an outsider’s per­spec­tive, he did lit­tle more than par­rot the ideas of the oth­er “Wash­ing­ton” can­di­dates on stage.

He cheered War­ren and Sanders’ argu­ments against cor­po­rate cor­rup­tion, and agreed with Biden’s approach to health­care pol­i­cy.

He claimed to have the chops for for­eign pol­i­cy based on his busi­ness expe­ri­ence, but that pales in com­par­i­son to Biden’s diplo­mat­ic expe­ri­ence as vice pres­i­dent, Sanders’ decades as an anti-war activist, Buttigieg’s mil­i­tary record or Warren’s proven will­ing­ness to take on entrenched inter­ests both at home and abroad.

Stey­er, like Klobuchar, is far­ing poor­ly in Iowa polls. How­ev­er, unlike Klobuchar, he is self-fund­ing his cam­paign, so there is no guar­an­tee that humil­i­a­tion in Iowa (or indeed, in any state up to the con­ven­tion) will con­vince him to bow grace­ful­ly out of his attempt to become the sec­ond inex­pe­ri­enced bil­lion­aire pres­i­dent in a row.

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Tickets are now on sale for NPI’s 2020 Spring Fundraising Gala on Friday, April 17th!

As of two days ago, we were two weeks into 2020. As of today, we are just three months away from our twelfth Spring Fundrais­ing Gala, sched­uled to take place on Fri­day, April 17th, 2020. With the sea­son of renew­al draw­ing near, we’re pleased to announce that ear­ly-bird tick­et sales for this year’s gala have begun.

Pur­chase now to save 17%-25% off the reg­u­lar price!

There are three tick­et rates:

  • Indi­vid­ual ($100, tem­porar­i­ly dis­count­ed to $75; admits one per­son.)
  • House­hold ($150, tem­porar­i­ly dis­count­ed to $125; admits a fam­i­ly.)
  • Liv­ing Light­ly ($25, for stu­dents and activists on lim­it­ed incomes.)

A house­hold tick­et admits all the mem­bers of an imme­di­ate fam­i­ly and is a good val­ue if you plan to attend with your spouse or chil­dren. (The gala is a fam­i­ly-friend­ly event, and young peo­ple of all ages are wel­come!)

Our gala is the biggest event that we put on every year, and it is by far the best oppor­tu­ni­ty to meet the NPI team in per­son and learn about what we do.

Loy­al sup­port­ers know we go to great lengths to make this event fes­tive and infor­ma­tive. Our goal is for all of our guests to be able to spend a mem­o­rable evening with fam­i­ly, friends, and fel­low activists, and sup­port NPI’s vital work (includ­ing pub­li­ca­tions like the Cas­ca­dia Advo­cate!) at the same time.

For 2020, the gala is return­ing to its new per­ma­nent home at the Ren­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter. Con­ve­nient­ly locat­ed right off of Inter­state 405 (Exit #4), the Ren­ton Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter offers a spa­cious, pub­licly owned ban­quet­ing room with doors that open to a patio over­look­ing the Cedar Riv­er.

As in the past few years, we will be pre­sent­ing a Lynn Allen Award to a dis­tin­guished pro­gres­sive leader who has made indis­pens­able con­tri­bu­tions to pro­gres­sive caus­es. Our past hon­orees include Sound Tran­sit CEO Emer­i­tus Joni Earl, attor­ney Paul Lawrence, Major Gen­er­al Paul Eaton (Retired), activist Alex Hen­drick­son, pho­tog­ra­ph­er Al Gar­man, and El Cen­tro de la Gaza­’s Estela Orte­ga.

Paul Lawrence and Joni Earl

Paul Lawrence and Joni Earl with their Lynn Allen Awards (Pho­to: Lin­coln Potter/Samaya LLC for the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute)

We will also be joined by sev­er­al guest speak­ers.

Dur­ing the last few years, we’ve been hon­ored to have lead­ers like Com­mis­sion­er of Pub­lic Lands Hilary Franz, Attor­ney Gen­er­al Bob Fer­gu­son, U.S. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Adam Smith, Kim Schri­er, and Suzan Del­Bene as part of our speak­ing pro­gram.

We will be announc­ing our 2020 speak­ers soon.

Until then, you can buy a tick­et at our spe­cial ear­ly-bird rates.

Here’s what else you can expect at our 2020 Spring Fundrais­ing Gala:

  • A full din­ner buf­fet with veg­e­tar­i­an and veg­an choic­es
  • Beer and wine selec­tions from our cash bar
  • Oppor­tu­ni­ties to min­gle with fel­low activists and elect­ed lead­ers
  • A chance to win a scrump­tious dessert for your table at our Dessert Dash
  • A fam­i­ly-friend­ly atmos­phere

If you’d like to RSVP for the gala on Face­book, you can do so here.

Stu­dents who want to vol­un­teer to help put on the event can get in the door free. If you’re inter­est­ed in vol­un­teer­ing, please get in touch with us.

We hope you’ll help us make our biggest event of the year a suc­cess by buy­ing your tick­et and com­mit­ting to attend. See you on April 17th!

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

More than two in three Washingtonians favor banning single use plastic bags, NPI poll finds

An over­whelm­ing major­i­ty of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers sur­veyed on the North­west Pro­gres­sive Insti­tute’s behalf agree that retail­ers ought to be pro­hib­it­ed from dis­trib­ut­ing sin­gle use plas­tic bags statewide to reduce pol­lu­tion.

In a sur­vey con­duct­ed last autumn by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI, vot­ers enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly endorsed Sen­a­tor Mona Das’ Sen­ate Bill 5323, which would imple­ment a statewide plas­tic bag ban, by a mar­gin of more than two to one.

69% said they agreed that sin­gle use plas­tic bags should be pro­hib­it­ed, while just 26% were opposed. 6% said they were not sure. 

The find­ing was announced today at a press con­fer­ence in down­town Olympia with Sen­a­tor Mona Das, Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Strom Peter­son, and lead­ers from NPI’s friends at Zero Waste Wash­ing­ton and Surfrid­er Foun­da­tion.

NPI press conference in support of Reusable Bag Bill

NPI Exec­u­tive Direc­tor Andrew Vil­leneuve leads a press con­fer­ence announc­ing the release of new research show­ing strong sup­port for a plas­tic bag ban (Pho­to: Car­olyn Barclift/NPI)

SB 5323 is an NPI leg­isla­tive pri­or­i­ty for the 2020 ses­sion. Last year, the bill passed by the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate with bipar­ti­san sup­port, but did not receive a vote in the House. Hap­pi­ly, less than an hour ago, the Wash­ing­ton State Sen­ate once again passed SB 5323, this time by a vote of thir­ty to nine­teen. The leg­is­la­tion now returns to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives for its con­sid­er­a­tion.

Our research shows that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans are eager for Sen­ate Bill 5323 to reach Gov­er­nor Jay Inslee’s desk and be signed into law.

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

QUESTION: Do you strong­ly agree, some­what agree, some­what dis­agree or strong­ly dis­agree with the fol­low­ing state­ment: Wash­ing­ton State should reduce ocean pol­lu­tion and waste in land­fills by pro­hibit­ing retail­ers from hand­ing out thin, sin­gle use plas­tic bags, while allow­ing stores to pro­vide their cus­tomers with paper bags or durable, reusable plas­tic bags for eight cents each, with the eight cent fee waived for those on food stamps?


  • Agree: 69%
    • Strong­ly Agree: 48%
    • Some­what Agree: 21%
  • Dis­agree: 26%
    • Some­what Dis­agree: 7%
    • Strong­ly Dis­agree: 19%
  • Not Sure: 6%

Our sur­vey of nine hun­dred like­ly 2019 Wash­ing­ton State vot­ers was in the field Octo­ber 22nd-23rd, 2019. The sur­vey used a blend­ed method­ol­o­gy with auto­mat­ed phone calls to land­lines and text mes­sages to cell phone only respon­dents. As men­tioned, the poll was con­duct­ed by Pub­lic Pol­i­cy Polling for NPI, and has a mar­gin of error of +/- 3.3% at the 95% con­fi­dence lev­el.

A major­i­ty of peo­ple in every region of the state expressed sup­port for ban­ning sin­gle use plas­tic bags, includ­ing 80% of King Coun­ty vot­ers, 72% of North Sound vot­ers, 67% of South Sound vot­ers, 66% of Olympic Penin­su­la and South­west Wash­ing­ton vot­ers, and 53% of vot­ers in East­ern and Cen­tral Wash­ing­ton.

Accord­ing to the Nation­al Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures (NCSL), eight states have so far banned sin­gle-use plas­tic bags: Cal­i­for­nia, Con­necti­cut, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, New York, Ore­gon and Ver­mont. Five of those states enact­ed their bans last year, when Sen­a­tor Das’ SB 5323 was ini­tial­ly intro­duced.

If Wash­ing­ton adopts SB 5323 this year — and it must — then the entire Pacif­ic coast (with the excep­tion of Alas­ka) will have sin­gle use plas­tic bag bans.

Reusable Bag Bill Fact Sheet

Many cities and coun­ties with­in Wash­ing­ton already have their own plas­tic bag bans; Edmonds was the first to adopt one near­ly a decade ago. But most local juris­dic­tions still don’t have one. If Sen­ate Bill 5323 is enact­ed, then the entire state will be com­mit­ted to tak­ing an impor­tant step to reduce plas­tic pol­lu­tion.

What makes thin, sin­gle use plas­tic bags so awful? In a sen­tence, they are ener­gy inten­sive to make, used and dis­posed of rather quick­ly, and then per­sist in our envi­ron­ment for an extreme­ly long time. Here are ten facts about sin­gle use plas­tic bags that you should know from the Cen­ter For Bio­log­i­cal Diver­si­ty:

  1. Amer­i­cans use 100 bil­lion plas­tic bags a year, which require twelve mil­lion bar­rels of oil to man­u­fac­ture.
  2. It only takes about four­teen plas­tic bags for the equiv­a­lent of the gas required to dri­ve one mile.
  3. The aver­age Amer­i­can fam­i­ly takes home almost 1,500 plas­tic shop­ping bags a year.
  4. Accord­ing to Waste Man­age­ment, only one per­cent of plas­tic bags are returned for recy­cling. That means that the aver­age fam­i­ly only recy­cles fif­teen bags a year; the rest end up in land­fills or as lit­ter.
  5. Up to eighty per­cent of ocean plas­tic pol­lu­tion enters the ocean from land.
  6. At least two hun­dred and six­ty-sev­en dif­fer­ent species have been affect­ed by plas­tic pol­lu­tion in the ocean.
  7. 100,000 marine ani­mals are killed by plas­tic bags annu­al­ly.
  8. One in three leatherback sea tur­tles have been found with plas­tic in their stom­achs.
  9. Plas­tic bags are used for an aver­age of twelve min­utes.
  10. It takes five hun­dred (or more) years for a plas­tic bag to degrade in a land­fill. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, the bags don’t break down com­plete­ly but instead pho­to-degrade, becom­ing microplas­tics that absorb tox­ins and con­tin­ue to pol­lute the envi­ron­ment.

The Earth is the one com­mon home that we all share… and we’re trash­ing it.

We need to change our ways. It’s absolute­ly imper­a­tive that we work togeth­er to live more sus­tain­ably. Wash­ing­to­ni­ans know that plas­tic pol­lu­tion is a prob­lem, and they want their elect­ed rep­re­sen­ta­tives to address it. The Wash­ing­ton State House must join the Sen­ate this year in adopt­ing leg­is­la­tion that will cut down the num­ber of plas­tic bags being thrown away after just a few min­utes of use.