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

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton--The Healing Process Continues

Although President-Elect Barack Obama has not made any official announcement, the unofficial word is that he intends to appoint Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. The unofficial word has led to copious amounts of "unofficial" reactions. From my perspective, our soon-to-be President has made an excellent choice on several levels.

By way of background, I was a Washington State pledged Clinton delegate to the National Convention in Denver. My 25 colleagues in the Clinton sub-caucus and I all "voted our conscience" as Hillary bade us to do, which is to say that we all voted for Hillary at the Convention. I can't speak for any of my other 25 colleagues, but the next night I became a devoted Obama supporter.

So how does a die-hard Clinton supporter feel about the prospect of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton? I feel great about it. To steal a phrase from Vice President-Elect Biden, "let me repeat that: I feel great about it."

Why do I feel great about it? I have three reasons.

My first reason is that I think Hillary as Secretary of State is good for the country. She has great worldwide credibility from her days in the Bill Clinton White House, deservedly so, and has the perspective and sophistication to represent the United States to the world. If anyone can restore some credibility to the United States' internationally, Hillary is the one.

Second, it says something about Obama's confidence in his own Presidency, and about his skills as a leader. The current administration couldn't have made a bigger mess of things in so many areas if they tried. President Obama will need to work miracles in foreign policy, domestic policy, economic policy, and health care policy, among others. No one person has the necessary experience in all of those areas, which makes it crucial for the President to surround himself with those who can provide the necessary expertise . . . and to heed their advice.

A less confident leader would feel threatened by having someone like Hillary as part of his cabinet, especially after such a hard-fought campaign. But Obama "knows what he doesn't know," so to speak, and is smart enough to bring on board those who can fill in those gaps.

What I really like about Obama is that he has made some very wise decisions for the right reasons and without giving in to pressure. When Senator Biden made his first appearance in Denver as the Vice Presidential nominee, I felt saddened and gladdened: saddened that Senator Clinton was not selected, but gladdened by the presence of someone with Biden's foreign affairs credentials. Biden was a better choice because he supplied the experience that Obama lacked, and Obama made the right call.

I view appointing Hillary as Secretary of State as a similarly wise choice. He did not have to select Hillary; he could have chosen any number of qualified people without considering Hillary and few would have taken issue with his choice. But he chose the person who, in his view, possesses the talents necessary for the job.

My third reason is that it keeps Hillary politically relevant. One of my greatest fears throughout the Convention was that Hillary's role within the Democratic Party would shrink to nothing once the Convention ended. I think I can safely say that this particular fear has been laid to rest.

If the two protagonists in the most historic Presidential primary of our time can show such obvious mutual respect and admiration at the end of the day, then I think we are headed on the road back to greatness as a country.

Oh yeah, I feel great about it.

Barack Obama to announce Hillary Clinton as his choice for Secretary of State

It's not official yet, but according to news reports, President-elect Barack Obama will announce tomorrow that former First Lady and New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton is his choice for Secretary of State:
A deal with Bill Clinton over his post-White House work helped clear the way for Hillary Rodham Clinton to join President-elect Barack Obama's national security team as secretary of state, reshaping a once-bitter rivalry into a high-profile strategic and diplomatic union.

Obama was to be joined by the New York senator at a Chicago news conference Monday, Democratic officials said, where he also planned to announce that Defense Secretary Robert Gates would remain in his job for a year or more and that retired Marine General James L. Jones would serve as national security adviser.
The New York Times adds:
The Obama and Clinton teams have been preparing the ground for this announcement for days. Mr. Clinton, who has extensive business and philanthropic interests around the world, agreed to a nine-point plan covering disclosure, vetting and other areas to avoid potential conflicts of interest, including for the first time the release of more than 200,000 donors to his foundation by the end of the year. That goes beyond the requirements of existing law.
We're not too thrilled that Gates is being asked to stay on at Defense, but we do think that Clinton is a solid choice for Secretary of State.

Obama's decision to tap her as his top diplomat shows he's serious about building a strong administration. Clinton is sharp and resourceful.She has the potential to be a very effective Secretary of State, provided that she can be a team player.

We think she's got what it takes.

She's tough and she's a fighter, but in the end, she doesn't let her own bitterness get in the way of the future she wants to build.
"Every moment wasted looking back keeps us from moving forward. Life is too short, time is too precious, and the stakes are too high to dwell on what might have been. We have to work together for what still can be."

- Hillary Clinton
If Clinton accepts the job and is confirmed as Secretary of State, she'll have to resign her Senate seat. That will mean Governor David Paterson will have to pick a successor - an unenviable task, considering that there are many people interested in becoming New York's junior senator.

Paterson has signaled he wants someone with diverse experience:
Though in earlier interviews Paterson joked that the only person he was sure that he wasn't going to appoint was himself, he revealed a little more about his thinking in a recent interview. The New York Observer's Web site quoted Paterson: "I'm looking for a person with a combination of skills that can represent a state that has significant rural, suburban and urban communities," he said, adding that it is important to include those from under-represented areas of the state.

"It's very important, because the skill level can be the same among the individuals, but there is history and familiarity that people have who come from different parts of the state, or have unique backgrounds," Paterson said.
Senate Democratic leaders are undoubtedly relieved that Clinton has decided to accept Obama's offer to join his Cabinet, because it means they don't have to create a special leadership position for her in the caucus.

A new administration and several freshman Senators are on their way to our nation's capitol, but the people who have been running Congress for the past two years (Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer, Chris van Hollen, Jim Clyburn, Harry Reid, Dick Durbin, Chuck Schumer, Patty Murray) will still be in charge come January.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving 2008!

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

There's a lot to be thankful for this Turkey Day (or maybe Tofurky Day, for some of you :) but no matter how you plan on celebrating, we hope you'll pause for a moment to reflect and give thanks for all that we have.

Here are some of the things we're thankful for:
  • We're thankful for the service of our country's many brave men and women in uniform. May they have a blessed Thanksgiving.
  • We're thankful that the Bush error is coming to an end on January 20th, 2009, after eight long and dark years.
  • We're thankful that this historic election has begun restoring America's reputation around the world as a trailblazing democracy.
  • We're thankful that Governor Chris Gregoire will be at the helm of our great state of Washington for another four years.
  • We're thankful for Darcy Burner's candidacy in the 8th Congressional District, which helped galvanize and organize the Eastside Democratic grassroots.
  • We're thankful that our next Lands Commissioner will be Okanogan rancher Peter Goldmark, who is set to take over the Department of Natural Resources in just a few short weeks.
  • We're thankful that we were able to help voters realize the folly of Tim Eyman's Initiative 985, which was overwhelmingly rejected on Election Day.
  • We're thankful for the passage of transit measures across the country, including California's high speed rail plan and our own Mass Transit Now package here in Puget Sound, which will extend light rail in three directions and expand bus and commuter rail service.
  • We're thankful that Jim McIntire will be our next Treasurer.
  • We're thankful that the Greater Pacific Northwest is sending two new Democratic senators to the District of Columbia - Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich, from Oregon and Alaska, respectively.
  • We're thankful that we can finally say a jury has indicted Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales.
  • We're thankful for the support you and so many other people have shown NPI this year. Our first Spring Fundraising Gala was an incredible success!
  • We're thankful for Al Gore's work to educate people about the dangers of the climate crisis - and his willingness to come to Netroots Nation this year.
Finally, we're thankful that a community organizer from Chicago named Barack Obama defied all the naysayers, doubters, critics, and skeptics to win election as the Forty Fourth President of the United States of America.

Here's a snippet from Obama's Thanksgiving Day address:
[T]his Thanksgiving, we are reminded that the renewal of our economy won't come from policies and plans alone -- it will take the hard work, innovation, service, and strength of the American people.

I have seen this strength firsthand over many months -- in workers who are ready to power new industries, and farmers and scientists who can tap new sources of energy; in teachers who stay late after school, and parents who put in that extra hour reading to their kids; in young Americans enlisting in a time of war, seniors who volunteer their time, and service programs that bring hope to the hopeless.
Read and or watch the whole thing at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Jay Inslee has a good shot at becoming Secretary of the Interior

NPI recently learned that that Representative Jay Inslee, who serves NPI's home district in Western Washington, is a likely pick to be Obama's Secretary of the Interior. Inslee is on the speculative short list along with Robert F. Kennedy Jr.

There's been speculation that Inslee might be tapped for the job before, but over the last few days, we've been hearing it anew.

Inslee has served in Congress since 1999, when he replaced Rick White (having earlier represented Central Washington until losing to Doc Hastings in 1994) and was handily reelected this November. He has served on both the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the Natural Resources Committee.

Inslee has attracted a lot of attention with his book Apollos's Fire: Igniting America's Clean Energy Economy in which he lays out his vision for a green economy powered by clean-, renewable energy.

The Huffington Post describes him this way:
Inslee...has long been an ardent advocate for clean, renewable energy technologies. He was one of the first to propose a comprehensive energy reform package, dubbed the New Apollo Project, aimed at weaning the U.S. off our oil dependence in a 2002 column he penned for The Seattle Times. (In it, he articulates a vision for a bold plan similar in scope to the Apollo space program -- hence the name.)
Inslee would be a good Cabinet choice, based on his expertise and vision for the same future that Obama has embraced. It may be that his work on mining reform and protecting America's roadless lands has attracted the new tansition team's attention, but whatever the case, it would be good to have the Pacific Northwest represented in the stellar team that Obama is assembling.

It is doubtful that any Cabinet appointments will be announced until after the long holiday weekend is over, but it's possible that Inslee - who was a Hillary Clinton supporter through the nominating season - could be joining Barack Obama's administration when January comes. We'll see.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Grover Norquist, you've been framed!

And I don't mean framed as in "set up to take the fall for something you didn't do." No, I mean framed as in "had your signature framing of small-vs-big government ripped to shreds by someone who knows how to craft a better frame than yours."
This isn’t about big government or small government. It’s about building a smarter government that focuses on what works.
That was Barack Obama, establishing a new frame for future debates about the kind of government America needs, in remarks announcing Peter Orszag as his pick for the Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB).

For years--decades, even--conservatives have been arguing that government is bloated and wasteful. That it is too big. That what America really needs is less government. Smaller government. Government that, yes, Grover Norquist would like to be able to "drown in a bathtub."

Big-vs-small is a false choice. It's probably one of the slickest straw-man arguments the conservatives have managed to sucker us with ever since Reagan. Because by getting everyone to focus on the meaningless distinction of big versus small, they got everyone to forget about paying attention to just who the government was helping or hindering. Big versus small ignores the reality that a big government that benefits businesses some and the people some is still better for the country than a small government that benefits businesses enormously but gives ordinary citizens the shaft.

Yet as has been all to clear these past eight years especially, benefitting big business with no regard for who gets hurt in the process has been the prime focus of these "small government" advocates. Cutting social programs and infrastructure spending to make more money available for no-bid contracts to their corporate buddies has been their number-one modus operandi. That's the real agenda that Norquist's small government straw man argument has been hiding.

But notice what Obama does here--and I heard him do it again in a press conference this morning--he shifts the debate about government itself to a new frame: smart government that works.

Notice what is implied in that new framing: we can work towards creating a government that is smart and effective, or by implication we can stick with the government we currently have which is stupid and ineffective.

Smart vs. stupid. Effective vs. ineffective. That's the new frame, and of course Obama argues that we should make the obvious choice.

Obama, bless him, is insightful enough to realize that the true choice facing America is whether we continue doing business as usual--which is obviously not working--or whether we restructure government spending to focus on smart strategies that benefit everybody. On effective ways to re-build America from the bottom up.

So the choice is clear: Do you want a smart government that works, or do you want a small government whose sole function is spend the entire national budget on no-bid contracts to big corporations? I'm sure I don't need to answer that question for you.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Banks slamming customers with higher fees, even as bailout money flows

Here's another reason why it doesn't pay to do business with banks - even if your personal finances are in excellent shape:
Banks had already been tightening the screws on people with less-than-perfect credit. Now, even customers who pay on time will be hit.

While average credit card rates have dipped as the Federal Reserve has cut interest rates, banks and retailers are trying to offset rising losses in their credit card operations by raising rates and fees across a broader swath of their existing customers.
While JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and other financial giants benefit from the U.S. Treasury's Big Cash Giveaway, taxpayers who are also their customers will be asked to pony up even more in the form of higher fees. Times are tough on Wall Street - something's gotta be done to fatten the bottom line.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports:
J.P. Morgan Chase & Co.'s Chase unit is raising rates on credit card cash advances, overdraft protection and the rate it charges when cardholders exceed their limit or are late paying. The bank will also start charging a new $10 monthly service fee to some cardholders who have been carrying large balances for at least two years, while raising their monthly minimum payments to 5 percent of their outstanding balance, from 2 percent.
Citi and American Express are also among banks hiking interest rates (American Express, if you haven't heard, recently received permission from the federal government to become a commercial bank).

What Chase, Citi, and other giants are doing is unfair, but that's unfortunately how monster banks operate. Wall Street is not forgiving to companies that aren't making money: witness the decline of Citi's stock price.

The financial turmoil that has embroiled Wall Street and world markets throughout the autumn has led more and more Americans to realize that there is no particularly good reason to do business with banks.

A for-profit bank, whether public or private, is a financial institution intentionally set up to make money for shareholders, who may or may not be customers. Credit unions, by contrast, are customer-oriented by design; they're nonprofit and wholly owned by their members.

Credit unions are equal to or superior to banks by practically every measure. Credit unions have historiclly offered lower fees, better rates, and superior service, but haven't always matched the convenience of banks.

That has changed with the formation of the CU Shared Branching Network, an international cooperative that allows credit union members to do business at thousands of other credit union locations. All that's needed is an account number, the name of the credit union where the account is held, and photo ID.

Most credit unions are also now issuing free debit/credit cards with checking accounts, making it possible to easily conduct business without cash or checks. Cards can be used at thousands of surcharge-free ATMs nationwide to withdraw money, check balances, or even make deposits.

The improvement in convenience is part of the reason why business is booming at local credit unions. Here's the Puget Sound Business Journal:
After working to position themselves as safe, stable alternatives to banks, Washington’s 129 credit unions are becoming unwitting beneficiaries of WaMu’s demise and the financial turmoil. In effect, these member-owned, not-for-profit financial institutions have enjoyed a reverse run, as depositors quit institutions like WaMu and try to find security for their money elsewhere.

Across the state, credit union membership soared by 62,782 in the first half of the year, nearly triple the rate in the same period of 2007, according to the National Credit Union Administration, a federal regulatory agency.
Credit union executives point out that, unlike many banks, they didn’t engage in risky lending and also aren’t carrying risky investments because they’re restricted by the federal government on the types of investments they can make.
Still keeping your money at a bank? It's time to make the jump to a credit union. Go ahead and leave that bank behind. You'll be glad you did.

Are you smarter than your elected officials?

Odds are, yes.

The Intercollegiate Studies Institute has released a report in which they detail the results of giving a 33 question Civics quiz, multiple choice, to 2,508 Americans. As part of the survey, the ISI asked respondents a bunch of demographic questions, including whether or not the person had ever been elected to a public office.

Overall, 71% of respondents failed the quiz with an average score among all participants of just 49%. That sucks, America. Even more pathetic, the 168 respondents who indicated that they had ever held public office scored just 44% on average. Meaning that even your dumb-as-a-sack-of-hammers neighbor--the one who could more readily identify Paula Abdul as a judge on American Idol than the immortal words "government of the people, by the people, for the people" as part of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address--would do marginally better at running a government according our nation's founding principles than an average elected official.

We're not doing a good job, folks, of electing smart people to serve in government.

I was all set to blame the failing school system, until I looked in the cross-tabs and saw that age made no difference. Young and old alike both scored 46%. The results are remarkably similar across nearly all demographic lines. Liberals and conservatives scored within one percent of each other on average, a statisitcally meaningless difference. Church-goers marginally under performed non-church goers, 48% to 50%.

The only metric that seems to matter much is money: people making $100,000 or more did 9 points better than those making only $30,000 to $50,000, 55% to 46%. I guess if you have money, you have time to follow the news and stuff.

The best part: the ISI has put their quiz online, so you can see how you stack up!

For the record, I got a 96. Clearly, I'm not cut out for politics.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Greetings from San Francisco - and some thoughts about transit governance

It's looking to be a beautiful weekend here in the Bay Area.

Golden Gate Bridge at Sunset

I took this photograph last evening as I was walking across the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset. To say that the scenery was stunning would be an understatement.

One of the things I've noticed during my trip down here is just how many transportation districts there are. I frequently hear Puget Sound lawmakers and governance scheme backers complain that we have too many transit agencies and too many governments with authority over our transportation system.

I don't think they appreciate how good we've got it.

As far as transit is concerned, in Central Puget Sound, we've got three major bus provides (Metro, Community Transit, Pierce Transit) and one rail/express bus provider (Sound Transit). The San Francisco Bay Area has:
  • BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit)
  • Muni (the San Francisco Municipal Railway)
  • Golden Gate Transit (Golden Gate Transportation District)
  • Marin Transit (service provided by Golden Gate Transit)
  • Petaluma Transit (City of Petaluma)
  • Sonoma County Transit (operated by the county of the same name)
  • Santa Rosa CityBus (City of Santa Rosa)
  • VT (Vallejo Transit, City of Vallejo, Solano County)
  • SamTrans (San Mateo County Transit District)
  • AC Transit (Alameda-Contra Costa Transit District)
  • WHEELS (Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority)
  • VTA (Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority)
  • ACE (Altamont Commuter Express)
  • Caltrain (operated by Amtrak)
  • WestCAT (Western Contra Costa Transit Authority)
  • County Connection (Central Contra Costa Transit Authority)
  • Tri Delta Transit (East Contra Costa Transportation Authority)
  • Union City Transit (Union City, California)
  • Vacaville City Coach (City of Vacaville)
  • Benicia Breeze (City of Benicia)
  • Cloverdale Transit (City of Cloverdale)
  • Dumbarton Express (operated by BART, VTA, Union City Transit, AC Transit)
  • FAST (Fairfield-Suisun Transit, serving Solano County)
  • Healdsburg In-City Transit (City of Healdsburg)
  • Rio Vista Delta Breeze (Rio Vista, California)
  • VINE (Napa County)
  • Capitol Corridor Intercity Rail (Amtrak)
Not listed above are the Bay Area's seven ferry services nor its more than twenty shuttle services (most operated by one of the above agencies).

There's also BATA, the Bay Area Toll Authority, which is in charge of administering tolls on state-owned bridges. It only has jurisdiction over road crossings.

Admittedly, the Bay Area is larger than the Seattle metro area (it's home to more than twice as many people, and encompasses three times as many counties).

But look at that long list.

Contra Costa County has four different in-county transit agencies! Imagine having several Metros: SM (Seattle Metro), EME (Eastside Mountain Express), and SKT (South King Transit). Now there's an alphabet soup for you!

Making things even more confusing for tourists is how many city-operated bus systems there are. (Imagine Redmond Transit, Bellevue Transit, etc.)

These may be great for getting around one town, but since they only serve small geographic areas, it means any tourist wanting to explore the region via public transportation will have to deal with a nightmarish amount of transfers.

Contrast that with Puget Sound. Again, we have one major bus agency serving each county in the Seattle metro area, and one agency building a regional rail system. The only city with its own bus service is Everett.

That's a pretty simple setup.

At some point, perhaps, Sound Transit could subsume the three county bus agencies and become something akin to Portland's TriMet - but now's simply not the time for a complicated and controversial merger like that.

However, there is something on the horizon that will make getting around our region much easier: the forthcoming ORCA pass (One Regional Card for All). It's currently in testing and is due to be launched sometime next year.

ORCA will work on all bus systems (including Kitsap Transit), Sounder commuter rail, Link light rail, and even Washington State Ferries. It's a smartcard with radio frequency identification (RFID) embedded. It'll allow you to forget about fareboxes and transfer anywhere you want to go, on any route, with ease.

The Bay Area has developed its own version of ORCA - TransLink. Like ORCA, it's an RFID smartcard that allows for painless travel. Unfortunately, as of today, it can only be used on two transit services: AC Transit and Golden Gate Transit & Ferry. The TransLink website claims that "eventually the TransLink card will be used on all transit systems in the nine-county Bay Area".

Rollout of TransLink has already taken much longer than originally anticipated.

Given how many agencies there are in the Bay Area, full implementation of TransLink could take many more years, although it should definitely gain momentum when BART starts officially accepting it. Additionally, several bus agencies are planning to begin accepting TransLink next year.

Hopefully, ORCA's debut will be much smoother, and more capably planned.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Book deal for Joe W. from Ohio

Following the lead of Governor Sarah Palin, who we learned is well qualified to handle American foreign policy because she can see Russia from Alaska, Joe the Plumber (Samuel J. Wurzelbacher) is going to be an author. Apparently, knowing your ABC's makes you the next Hemingway or Dickens.
Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the presidential campaign fixture and John McCain advocate better known as Joe the Plumber, won’t have to open his own plumbing business just yet: he has signed a deal to write “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.” PearlGate Publishing, a small publisher in Austin, Tex., announced the book on its Web site,
Presumably, Joe can write. One can hope so. After all, he wasn't so good at paying his taxes, nor was he actually a licensed plumber.

So now that it's 14:59 on the fame clock, and with the economy in the tank, Joe has decided to cash in on his fame and pad his wallet. So Joe is going to now grace the world with his ruminations on "American values". You know, those "real" American values, from someone who lives in "real" America.

Regardless of who he supported for President, does anyone really care what Joe W. from Ohio thinks about American values? I'll be watching closely because if Joe can write a bestseller on American values, I will release my three volume series on astrophysics. After all I can see the stars, the moon and the sun, so I'm an expert in the field. Look out, Stephen Hawking.

BY THE WAY (Andrew): Ken's commentary tonight reminds me of a memorable post authored exactly a year ago by Keith Deshaies, our first and beloved Senior Managing Editor, who sadly is no longer with us. Entitled Absolution by book deal, it criticized Scott McClellan's then-forthcoming tell-all, What Happened?.

It's still great reading, twelve months later.

Sarah Palin: setting new lows

Just when you thought Sarah Palin's interactions with the media couldn't get any worse, comes this video of the governor pardoning a turkey, and then holding court with the local media amidst the backdrop of turkeys being slaughtered.

Here's a suggestion for you Governor Palin: instead of the thousands of dollars you spent on your Vice-Presidential candidate wardrobe, you should probably think about investing in media consultants. Then again, mdia consultants can only do so much with what they're given.

Improving Washington's schools will be a top issue in Olympia this session

If you live in Washington and have kids, or someday plan to have kids, you will want to pay close attention to what goes on in Olympia during the upcoming legislative session.

At issue is the definition and cost of basic public education. The Washington Constitution is unique in mandating that the state's "paramount duty" is to provide for "the education of all children." Unfortunately, parents, teachers and administrators will all agree that the state is failing at this responsibility. Not only that, but state business leaders will agree with depressing findings from the governor's review of the school system, the Washington Learns committee:
We have been importing educated workers from other states and
nations to fill our best jobs, leaving the less stable and lower paying
jobs for people educated in Washington.
Washington colleges and businesses have been increasingly recruiting students and workers from outside the state to fill slots because our students aren't receiving a competitive education.

I must share just one more appalling tidbit that I recently learned from Assistant Superintendent of Public Instruction Jennifer Priddy. According to Priddy, the state provides school districts enough money to replace all of their text books once every 18 years.

Eighteen years ago the Internet was just developing, the human genome wasn't mapped and the U.S.S.R. was still a country. (On a bright note, George W. Bush would be missing from most history books, as if he never existed.)

Most districts must use their school levy dollars to pay for a more reasonable text book cycle of on average, eight years. Levy dollars are legally intended to pay for local "enhancements" to schools but school districts are now relying on them to pay for the basic education that is really the state's responsibility.

This year we have a chance to thrust our schools into the 21st century. In December, the legislature-commissioned Basic Education Finance Joint Task Force will release a report to the legislature with an updated definition of state-funded public education and with a method of financing this improved definition.

From what I've seen so far, the task force's work has been thorough and innovative. They intend to make Washington's students the best educated in the country, test them fairly and pay teachers a fair living wage across the state. Accountability is important, as well as using transparent and simple accounting systems to manage school district resources.

Parents and communities need to be in touch with their legislators during the legislative session running from January 12--April 26. Our representatives need to know that we support fully funding our schools and that we understand that the future of Washington's workforce is at stake. It's an exciting time for education, but if this effort is going to succeed, all of us need to get involved. Change is not always easy, even when it's positive change.

More information on the task force can be found at the task force website. Funding Washington Schools is a grassroots organization advocating for stronger state funding and they provide copious amounts of information about the school funding crisis.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Breaking: More Obama Cabinet appointments

NBC News is reporting that former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-ND) will be appointed by President-elect Obama as Secretary of Health & Human Services.
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle has accepted President-elect Barack Obama's offer to be secretary of the Department Health and Human Services, NBC News confirmed Wednesday.

Democratic officials confirmed the acceptance.

The appointment has not been announced, but officials said the job is Daschle's barring an unforeseen problem as Obama's team reviews the background of the South Dakota Democrat.
Also, CNN is reporting that President-elect Obama would like to appoint Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano to be Secretary of Homeland Security, and Chicago businesswoman Penny Pritzker as Secretary of Commerce.

Ted Stevens concedes

Earlier today, Alaska's most famous convicted felon, Senator Ted Stevens, conceded his bid for re-election. Here is Stevens' statement:

"Given the number of ballots that remain to be counted, it is apparent the election has been decided and Mayor Begich has been elected.

"My family and I wish to thank the thousands of Alaskans who stood by us and who supported my re-election. It was a tough fight that would not have been possible without the help of so many Alaskans - people who I am honored to call my friends. I will always remember their thoughts, prayers, and encouragement.

"I am proud of the campaign we ran and regret that the outcome was not what we had hoped for. I am deeply grateful to Alaskans for allowing me to serve them for 40 years in the U.S. Senate. It has been the greatest honor of my life to work with Alaskans of all political persuasions to make this state that we all love a better place.

"I wish Mayor Begich and his family well. My staff and I stand willing to help him prepare for his new position."

The Democratic majority in the Senate is now that much closer to 60.

Bush cronies Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzales indicted by Texas jury

And now, some news that'll hopefully brighten your day:
A grand jury in South Texas indicted U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney and former attorney General Alberto Gonzales on Tuesday for "organized criminal activity" related to alleged abuse of inmates in private prisons.

The indictment has not been seen by a judge, who could dismiss it.

The grand jury in Willacy County, in the Rio Grande Valley near the U.S.-Mexico border, said Cheney is "profiteering from depriving human beings of their liberty," according to a copy of the indictment obtained by Reuters.

The indictment cites a "money trail" of Cheney's ownership in prison-related enterprises including the Vanguard Group, which owns an interest in private prisons in south Texas.
Is it any surprise than Cheney has money sunk into private prisons? George W. Bush and his henchmen are for the privatization of everything, it seems. Social Security? Let Wall Street take that over. Security abroad? Hire Blackwater. Logistics and supplies for our troops? Give Halliburton or another no-bid contract. These guys have a pretty scary vision for America.

It's about time they were held accountable.

By the way, if you haven't heard, ex-Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is already in legal trouble thanks to Purge-Gate:
[August 15th, 2008 - ABC News]

Six attorneys rejected from civil service positions at the Justice Department filed a lawsuit today against former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and three other top officials for allegedly violating their rights by taking politics into consideration in the hiring process.

The suit is an attempt to hold top officials accountable for the hiring scandal that ultimately led to Gonzales' resignation last year, said Daniel Metcalfe, attorney for the plaintiffs who is also executive director of the Collaboration on Government Secrecy at American University's Washington College of Law.
We hope that justice is served in both these cases.

Washington's advanced economy makes it one of the best states to start a business

A new report released yesterday named Washington as one of five top states leading the way in reshaping the United States economy and encouraging entrepreneurship. Gee, isn't that something Dino Rossi claimed we were failing at?
Five states -- Massachusetts, Washington, Maryland, Delaware and New Jersey -- are leading the United States' transformation into a global, entrepreneurial and knowledge and innovation-based New Economy, according to "The 2008 State New Economy Index," released today by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The report is being released during Global Entrepreneurship Week, an initiative to inspire young people around the world to embrace imagination, innovation and creativity.
Perhaps not coincidentally, all of the states named above are high tech blue states, which supported Al Gore, John Kerry, and Barack Obama.

The lowest-ranking states? All red.
Mississippi and West Virginia ranked lowest among the states in making the transition to the New Economy. The other lowest-scoring states include, in reverse order, Arkansas, Alabama and Wyoming.
Republicans constantly assail Democrats for having the courage to support public investment in our common wealth: mass transit, great schools, wondrous parks, majestic wildernesses, well-equipped libraries, recreation centers, quality police and fire protection... yet the evidence shows that blue states, where Democrats are strong and in power simply have a better standard of living.

This isn't an accident.

Business groups may whine constantly about taxes, but they seem to value the things our taxes pay for, including all what I just mentioned, plus resources created by federal investment (the Internet being a prime example).

Let's also not forget that some nine tenths of the cases that before our court system have to do with corporate law. Those courts are paid for the people of the United States of America. They're part of the common wealth, the foundation that supports our economy. For years Republicans have been trying to tear up that foundation, and we've seen firsthand the terrible consequences.

Under Governor Chris Gregoire and a Democratically-led Legislature, Washington has set the example in creating economic opportunity:
All the states at the top of the ranking -- even those that are not growing rapidly in employment -- also show above-average levels of entrepreneurship. Most are at the forefront of the information technology and Internet revolutions, with a large share of their institutions and residents embracing the digital economy.
Dino Rossi may have talked a lot about wanting to make Washington a great entrepreneurial state during the 2008 campaign, but it's Chris Gregoire and Democrats who have walked the walk.

Progressives know that the way to build a strong economy is to invest in our common wealth, ensure a level playing field for everyone, and require businesses to operate ethically. Conservatives believe in bettering business by drowning government in a bathtub - as Grover Norquist famously said.

Conservatives fantasize about an ownership society, where everyone has become a crafty investor or prosperous businessman, and government is tiny - almost unnecessary. Progressives know that's a myth.

In practice, conservatives have supported making government bigger. Much bigger. They oppose services created to give struggling Americans a boost, but favor vast increases in defense spending and funding for unnecessary military entanglements (like the occupation of Iraq).

Progressives want to end the wanton, unchecked waste of our common wealth and use our resources in a fully fledged assault on the major problems that afflict us: the credit crunch, the climate crisis, our decaying infrastructure, our overdependence on foreign oil, lack of access to healthcare... there's a long list.

Progressives want America's economy to work for everyone, not just a wealthy elite. Republicans give lip service to the idea of helping entrepreneurs, but dismantling government - their "solution" - only makes it harder for Main Street shopkeepers and family farmers to earn a living.

Progressives are the true defenders of small business.

We can't just be content to improve our quality of life along the coasts and around the Great Lakes, though. We are one America, and it must be our goal to strengthen prsoperity in every corner of this great country.

To do that, we have to compete everywhere and win elections. That means protecting and broadening Governor Howard Dean's "fifty state strategy", so that a revitalized Democratic Party stays vibrant and healthy in the years to come.

Weigh in on America's technology agenda

Barack Obama is almost certain to be the president who appoints the nation's first Chief Technology Officer.

In some sense it is shocking that America doesn't have one yet. We have a Chief Medical Officer (the Surgeon General). We have a Chief Safety Officer (the director of FEMA). Yet, we have no Chief Technology Officer (CTO). No one who oversees the nation's increasingly critical digital infrastructure.

Every major corporation in America, and countless minor ones, have a CTO. Computer and network technology has become the ubiquitous backbone supporting nearly 100% of America's business productivity. As goes the private sector, so goes the government. Every department within the federal government, as well as nearly all state and local government offices, are now computerized and connected to the Internet.

And yet, no one oversees it all. America has no national technology strategy.

While leaving questions of who should fill that role for another post (I do have some ideas there), this begs the question of what America's national technology strategy should be. What is it that we're going to ask this CTO to go do?

That's where you come in. Tapping into the wisdom of crowds, the folks at have put up a website called where you can submit your own ideas for what initiatives a national CTO should pursue, and where you can vote on the ideas submitted by others. It's anonymous and requires no login or signup (although you can sign up for updates if you want).

There are hundreds of ideas that have been submitted so far. I would encourage everyone to take a few minutes to look through the top-ranked ideas and submit your own votes. Here are the four ideas I would most like to see a national CTO take action on:
  • Network Neutrality -- bar network service providers from discriminating against some kinds of traffic while fostering others.
  • Open government data -- create data format standards for all government data to ensure inter-operability between systems, and implement policies for making government data available to the public within reasonable time frames.
  • Ensure trustworthy elections equipment -- establish standards and tests for the design and construction of the hardware and software in any election equipment.
  • Make election equipment software code public -- mandate that the software applications used in electronic voting machines and other tabulating equipment be open to the public. (Note, I'm not saying that it needs to be strictly Open Source software, just that the public has the right to see the source code used in voting machines, even if that code is owned by a corporation).

There are lots of other great ideas in the top 10 or top 20 on that I also support, such as repealing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and the Patriot Act, fostering science and technology programs at universities to restore America's competitiveness in the global economy, et cetera. But many of these, in my opinion, fall more clearly into other people's areas of responsibility. Repealing the DMCA and Patriot Act, for example, is more the job of the Congress than it is of a national CTO.

Anyway, go vote and make your voice heard. Last time we went out and voted, we got a great new president-elect! So you know voting matters.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Democrat Mark Begich projected as the winner in Alaska's U.S. Senate race

It looks like Ted Stevens' political career has finally come to an end.

Congratulations to Senator-elect Mark Begich, who will represent the Last Frontier on Capitol Hill for the next six years:
The Democratic Anchorage mayor widened his lead to 3,724 votes in today's counting of absentee and questioned ballots. The only votes left to count are approximately 2,500 special absentees from people living outside the U.S. or in remote parts of Alaska with no polling place.

The state will count those final ballots on Nov. 25.

Begich issued a statement just before 5 p.m. claiming victory, saying "I am humbled and honored to serve Alaska in the United States Senate."
Here's the rest of Begich's statement:
It’s been an incredible journey getting to this point, and I appreciate the support and commitment of the thousands of Alaskans who have brought us to this day. I can’t wait to get to work fighting for Alaskan families.
Stevens has not yet conceded the race, although Begich's campaign has noted the hour was late in Washington when these semi-final numbers came in. We'll see if Senator Tubes has anything to say about his apparent defeat tomorrow.

Begich will be the first Democrat to represent Alaska in the Senate in thirty years.

Traffic jams don't stop BART

Although Puget Sound is still many years away from having a truly regional rail backbone, the obvious benefits of a reliable rapid transit system can be observed firsthand by visiting almost any major metro area in the United States.

Take San Francisco.

The Bay Area, home to roughly seven and a half million people (according to the State of California) is one of the nation's most populous and congested urban centers, encompassing some nine counties and one hundred and one cities.

Highway travel on Bay Area highways is notoriously unpredictable and difficult, just as it is in Puget Sound. Some highways are so bad they even have their own nicknames - like I-880, known locally as the "Nasty Nimitz". (I-880's official namesake is World War II Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz).

What San Francisco and its suburbs have that Puget Sound doesn't, though, is BART - Bay Area Rapid Transit, which serves forty three stations on one hundred and sixty seven kilometers of track, carrying close to 400,000 riders each day.

Because BART runs in its own right of way (like Sound Transit's forthcoming Link network) it is impervious to traffic jams - something that I'm appreciating at this very moment, as I'm on my way into the City on a BART train (and liveblogging, thanks to the power of mobile broadband).

While single occupant drivers are forced to idle or creep forward slowly on the interstate, we're speeding along at a fast clip, pausing only occasionally to pick up more passengers, and then quickly getting underway again.

This is the future of transportation in Seattle, Tacoma, Everett, Redmond, and points in between: high speed, reliable rail travel that takes the stress and unpredictablity out of the commute. Link will make it possible for a Bellevue-based software engineer to get to a Mariners game after work, or for a Tacoma couple to go shopping in downtown Seattle, or for a Lynnwood mom to meet her son at the University of Washington for dinner - on time, no matter how bad traffic is.

That's what we've invested in with the passage of Mass Transit Now.

Thanks to the Sound Transit Board's willingness to give the voters the transit-only package they wanted to vote on, our future is Link.

UPDATE: Speaking of transit expansion, it looks like a proposal to expand BART south towards San Jose has a shot at passage.

The additional revenue required to build the expansion must be approved by a two thirds majority of voters. That's an awfully high bar.

The measure just obtained the necessary threshold, 66.67%, yesterday.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Help contribute to America's collective understanding of online activism

Interested in helping improve our collective understanding of online activism?

Here's your chance.

Two researchers at the University of Tennessee and Texas Tech University are seeking respondents for an online survey to learn more about how Americans use the Internet to get political information. The quadrennial survey, first conducted in 1996, is sponsored by Dr. Barbara Kaye and her colleague Professor Tom Johnson.

They'd like as many NPI readers to participate as possible.

The survey is fun, takes only a little less than a half hour to complete, and your privacy is completely guaranteed:
All responses will be held on a secure server on the UTK campus. The survey is encrypted to protect anonymity, cookies are not used nor is IP routing information collected. All responses will be kept confidential and stored on a secured computer accessible only by the two principal researchers. No identifying personal factors will be used in reporting the results of this survey.
The survey runs through November 25th. Please head on over to the University of Tennessee's site now and help these two pioneering researchers learn more about American politics in the Internet Age.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Powerful House appropriations position goes to Representative Linville

According to an anonymous source, Representative Kelli Linville, D-Bellingham, will be replacing Helen Sommers, D-Seattle, as House Appropriations chair in the upcoming legislative session, starting on January 12. Sommers retired this year from an impressive 36-year career in the Legislature.

Vice-chairman of the House Appropriations Committee Hans Dunshee, D-Snohomish, was widely expected to replace Sommers. Dunshee's district extends from Marysville to Mill Creek, while Linville's more conservative district is located in the far northwest corner of the state and borders Canada. Her seat-mates in the district are both Republicans.

Perhaps Linville was selected in order to move the chairmanship out of long-time Puget Sound hands into those from a different part of the state.

Only time will tell what philosophies and priorities the incoming chair will hold.

FTA says it's ready to grant Sound Transit $813 million for University Link

Great news today for Sound Transit's expansion plans: The Federal Transit Administration has formally informed Congress of its intention to provide $813 million to Sound Transit for the construction of University Link, which will extend light rail north from downtown Seattle across the Montlake Cut.

If Congress doesn't object to the agreement within sixty days (and it is very unlikely to) the FTA will be cleared to go ahead with the grant, which will provide about half the money necessary to build the project. Sound Transit is supplying the rest of the revenue (which was already committed and isn't provided by Prop 1).

When complete, University Link will run 3.5 miles underground from Westlake Center to the University of Washington, serving Capitol Hill along the way. The line is expected to open in 2016 and add at least 70,000 riders a day.

The FTA's enthusiasm for University Link stems from the huge boost the project would provide to our transportation system.

Here's an overview from Sound Transit:
The population of the corridor served by University Link will go up a projected 56 percent between 2000 and 2030, further increasing congestion and the relief provided by light rail service. Based on its tremendous benefits, the University Link project received the highest possible ranking in the extremely competitive federal funding process.

University Link will provide a reliable option for drivers and transit users who are stuck on I-5, a facility that operates over capacity for up to eight hours a day, with vehicle speeds running between 15 and 35 mph. Already, buses can run up to 30 minutes behind schedule due to congestion. Compared to bus service, University Link travel times will be almost three times faster. From the University District, it will take 9 minutes instead of 25 minutes to get downtown and 3 minutes instead of 22 minutes to get to Capitol Hill.
Thanks to the passage of Sound Transit 2, planning to extend light rail beyond the University of Washington to Northgate, Shoreline, and Lynnwood is moving forward. By the mid 2020s, Sound Transit's light rail system will run almost sixty miles in three directions (north, east, and south).

For too long, we've talked about creating a rapid transit backbone, but we haven't actually done anything. Now - finally - we're going to build it..

Gregoire is looking for ways to trim state's budget

You're not the only one scrutinizing your budget this fall. Governor Gregoire's weighty task is to shrink Washington's projected $3.2 billion budget deficit while still meeting the diverse needs of our state. The good news is that she has already taken steps to cut costs, whittling the deficit down to about half its original amount. Unfortunately, a new revenue forecast is scheduled for next week, and if it follows recent trends the news is bound to be worse than expected, causing the expected deficit to increase.

Here's a timeline for the 2009-2011 state budget:
November 19, 2008
Revenue Forecast Council issues its revenue forecast for the next two-year budget cycle. This is the number that will be used by Gov. Gregoire to finalize her budget proposal.

Week of December 15, 2008
Gov. Gregoire releases her 2009-11 budget proposal.

January 12, 2009
Washington State Legislature convenes. The Legislature will act on the Governor’s budget proposal and members will provide their own proposals during the legislative session.
If you have any advice for the guv, send it her way. Gregoire's budget team would like to know:
  • What government programs should we sacrifice to ensure that we can continue to provide the essentials to the people of our state?
  • What ways can we reform state government to provide services more efficiently and cost-effectively?
  • What government functions and programs might be better handled in the private sector or the nonprofit arena?
Gregoire's final budget will focus on the basics of government, and the state's economy and job creation will likely be top priorities this legislative session. Of course economic needs are real and pressing, but progressive concerns like cleaning up Puget Sound and improving our public school system can't fall by the wayside when making budget priorities.

We will eventually climb out of this deficit hole and when we do, we don't want to find out that our problems have grown while our focus was elsewhere.

World opinion on rich and poor

Excerpt from the Financial Times:

Public opinion across Europe, Asia and the US is strikingly consistent in considering that the gap between rich and poor is too wide and that the wealthy should pay more taxes.

During the recent campaign, Obama got "caught" saying this now famous sound-bite: "I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody." This ignited a storm of discussion among media outlets that were controlled by wealthy businessmen, perhaps afraid that the more numerous poor would agree with Obama.

It would seem that despite the best efforts of some media moguls, more people around the world believe that maybe economic resources would be better utilized to produce food and medical research for everyone, rather than for building artificial islands or mega yachts for a few.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

BIAW spent heavily to defeat Master Builder supported candidate Liz Loomis

Democrats hoping to build winning reelection campaigns in 2010 ought to think twice about soliciting support from the building industry over the next two years.

Just ask Liz Loomis. She represents the 44th Legislative District in Snohomish County, which extends from Marysville to Mill Creek.

Earlier this cycle, Liz won the support of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, which endorsed her and made two $800 contributions to her campaign through its political action committee, the Affordable Housing Council.

Liz touts the endorsement on her website, and the Master Builders have this to say about her and all the other candidates they support:
Please support the housing industry by supporting these housing-friendly candidates for office by volunteering for, contributing to and voting for them.
That must mean Liz is a friend to homebuilders, right?

Wrong, says the Building Industry Association of Washington, the Master Builders' statewide affiliate, which claims to reprent the Evergreen State's homebuilders (but in reality, derives its popularity from the pool it runs providing low risk, state-mandated workers' compensation insurance).

The BIAW reported spending $22,484.04 against Liz during the last three days of October, and $20,742.97 supporting her opponent, Republican Mike Hope, at the same time. The money was used to send out attack mail throughout the district.

Why? Well, because Liz is a Democrat, and the BIAW (Olympia's most vicious right wing lobby) wants a Republican-controlled Legislature to do its bidding.

The BIAW's agenda mainly consists of these objectives:
  • Get rid of progressive laws that protect workers and consumers
  • Prevent the enactment of any regulations that would force the industry to be more accountable (like the Homeowner's Bill of Rights)
  • Weaken or destroy environmental protection measures (for example, in 2006, the BIAW sued the government to prevent orcas from being listed as an endangered species)
In other words, let nothing stand in the way of sprawl and unchecked development.

Democrats in Olympia are mostly an obstacle to the BIAW's goals. The BIAW particularly despises Governor Chris Gregoire, which it has called "a power hungry she-wolf who would eat her own young to get ahead."

The BIAW spent millions of dollars trying to buy the governor's mansion for Dino Rossi this year. They failed, fortunately, but their independent expenditures in legislative races appear to have been more successful.

For instance, the BIAW spent over fifty thousand dollars in the 26th Legislative District attacking Democrat Kim Abel and supporting her Republican opponent Janice Angel. The two were vying to replace Pat Lantz as Representative. Angel appears to have won; Abel has conceded the race.

Then there's Spokane's 6th Legislative District, where incumbent Democrat Don Barlow has apparently lost to Republican Kevin Parker, who is currently ahead by several thousand votes. The BIAW spent some $65,059.88 against Barlow.

They spent even more - a whopping $70,741.82 - against Democrat Rob Cerqui in the 25th Legislative District (Pierce County). Rob, a Fife City Councilmember, was hoping to succeed retiring Republican Joyce MacDonald, but sadly, he has lost to his BIAW-backed Republican opponent, Bruce Dammeier.

And the BIAW is on the verge of victory in the 44th, where Mike Hope is ahead of Liz Loomis by just one hundred and twelve votes.

(The Secretary of State's office anticipates that the Snohomish County Auditor will have to conduct an automatic recount to determine the outcome of the race).

For every dollar that the Master Builders of King and Snohomish Counties contributed to support Liz, the BIAW spent fourteen more directly against her. (And that's not counting what they spent on Hope's behalf).

However - and I didn't mention this earlier - the BIAW did bizarrely report one expenditure of $5,290.24 in support of Liz' candidacy, and an equal expenditure supporting Hope, both on October 29th.

Why the BIAW would spend a few thousand dollars to "help" Liz while spending an amount several times that in a flagrant attempt to replace her with a Republican is a mystery to us. Maybe they're just trying to confuse the public.

In any case, it's pretty clear that BIAW doesn't want Liz in the statehouse - even though their local chapter says that Liz is a friend of the industry.

For too long, the BIAW been using part of the "retrospective rating" rebate checks their members get from the State of Washington every year to wage war on the health and common wealth of the State of Washington. This has to end.

The rebates are intended to encourage builders to stay safe on the job by giving them back part of their premiums.

The BIAW, as the operator of the state's biggest workers' compensation pool, should be passing all of the savings back to its members. Instead, it's deliberately siphoning off millions of dollars to use for attack politics.

Fortunately, momentum appears to be building to end BIAW's abusive practices.

Yesterday morning, the Seattle P-I's Chris McGann filed an article about growing interest in the Democratic caucus to pursue retro reform:
House Speaker Frank Chopp, D-Seattle, said the attack ads during the last election caused many people to question the Retro program.

"I think people are interested in that -- the key is to make sure that the L&I funds are used for the proper purposes -- that is to help injured workers," he said.

Chopp said he had not discussed the matter with his caucus.

"I assume that will be brought up," he said.

"I thought their ads were over the top, and in the final analysis, very unproductive for them ultimately."
Maybe their ads turned out to be ineffective in the governor's race, but surely the Speaker has noticed that the BIAW managed to help take out several of his caucus' recruits, including Kim Abel and Rob Cerqui, who would have made fine legislators.

Neither the BIAW's targeting of Democrats nor its abuse of the retrospective rating system seems to bother Chopp's deputy, according to the Seattle P-I.
House Majority Leader Lynn Kessler, D-Hoquiam, said the BIAW has a right to spend the money as it likes.

Nonetheless, she said a bill is likely in the works. "People are angry so they might" draft a bill, she said. "I don't know that we are in the business of getting even with people. That's what it would be, probably, just trying to get even with them for hitting the governor."
But you're not angry at the BIAW, are you, Ms. Majority Leader? No, you seem to like them just fine, and they must like you back - because they sent you a $250 check a couple of months ago. And you accepted it.

We hope you realize, at some point, that the Building Industry Association of Washington is only interested in your friendship as long as they can use you. As soon as you get in their way, they'll go after you.

We also hope you realize that retro reform isn't about getting even, it's about ensuring that the retrospective rating system serves its true purpose and is not abused. Here's RCW 51.16.035:
The department [of Labor and Industries] shall formulate and adopt rules governing the method of premium calculation and collection and providing for a rating system consistent with recognized principles of workers' compensation insurance which shall be designed to stimulate and encourage accident prevention and to facilitate collection. The department may annually, or at such other times as it deems necessary to achieve the objectives under this section, readjust rates in accordance with the rating system to become effective on such dates as the department may designate.
Emphasis is mine.

The above paragraph is from the chapter that establishes the restrospective rating system. The intention is clear - let's provide a way to incentivize safer construction sites and reduce injuries. That's the whole point of the refunds.

The law needs to be clarified to say that middlemen like the BIAW cannot simply decide to keep part or all of their members' refunds.

The BIAW is absolutely free to ask its members to voluntarily contribute to a political fund. But the BIAW should not be allowed to game the restrospective rating system for nefarious and vindictive ends.

Be careful out there

Floodwaters may be receding along major rivers in Western Washington this evening, but that doesn't mean the danger is over or that previously washed out roads are safe to drive. Here are some tips from the Red Cross:
  • Stay out of any building if flood waters remain around the building. Floodwaters often undermine foundations, causing sinking, floors can crack or break and buildings can collapse.
  • Avoid entering ANY building (home, business, or other) before local officials have said it is safe to do so. Buildings may have hidden damage that makes them unsafe. Look for loose power lines, broken or damaged gas lines, foundation cracks or other damage. See if porch roofs and overhangs still have all their supports.
  • Look for electrical system damage. If you see sparks or broken or frayed wires, or if you smell burning insulation, turn off the electricity at the main fuse box or circuit.
  • Check for gas leaks. If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone outside quickly. Turn off the gas at the outside main valve if you can and call the gas company from a neighbor's home. If you turn off the gas for any reason, it must be turned back on by a professional.
  • Never use a portable generator in an enclosed or partially enclosed space, including in your home or in a garage, basement, crawl space, or other partially enclosed area, even with ventilation. Locate generators outdoors and away from any doors, windows, and vents which could allow Carbon Monoxide (CO) to come indoors. Generators can produce high levels of deadly CO very quickly.
  • Throw away food that has come in contact with flood waters. If the cans are dented or damaged, throw them away. Food contaminated by floodwaters can cause severe infections. When in doubt, throw it out.
  • If water is of questionable purity, boil or add bleach, and distill drinking water before using. Wells inundated by flood waters should be pumped out and the water tested for purity before drinking. If in doubt, call your local public health authority. Ill health effects often occur when people drink water contaminated with bacteria and germs.
  • Follow public health guidance on safe cleanup of materials in contact with floodwaters.
  • Eighty percent of those people who die as a result of flooding are in vehicles. If you come upon a barricade, turn around and go another way. If you come upon flood waters, do NOT drive through them; the road could be washed out underneath.
For an updated list of road closures, check out the King County Department of Transportation's website. Stay safe!

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

AK Sen. - Begich leads Stevens by 3 votes

Good news out of Alaska. With its latest tally of votes, the state Division of Elections is reporting that Democrat Mark Begich is now leading convicted felon Ted Stevens by 3 votes.
The elections division still has over 10,000 ballots left to count today and thousands more through next week, but the latest numbers show Mark Begich leading Sen. Ted Stevens 125,019 to 125,016.

The new numbers, reflecting nearly 43,000 absentee ballots counted today, are from all over the state. Election night, Ted Stevens led the Democratic Begich by about 3,000 votes.
While these numbers still don't come close to the pre-election polling (showing why we don't take much stock of polls), things are looking good for Begich to take the Senate seat. As Markos noted earlier today, the remaining areas to be counted are pro-Begich.

As for a recount, here is what state law holds:
If the candidates end up within either 20 votes or half a percentage point of each other, either candidate or a group of 10 registered voters can request a recount without paying the $15,000 fee, Fenumiai said.

An automatic recount only occurs in an exact tie.

With additional votes left to count, hopefully Begich will clearly eclipse those thresholds, with the only remaining question regarding Ted Stevens being the identity of his cellmate.

About that bailout....

Gee, what a surprise:
Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr. announced a major shift in the thrust of the $700 billion financial-rescue program on Wednesday, at the same time joining several agencies in prodding banks to speed up the thaw in the country’s credit system.

Mr. Paulson said the $700 billion would not be used to buy up troubled mortgage-related securities, as the rescue effort was originally conceived, but would instead be used in a broader campaign to bolster the financial markets and, in turn, make loans more accessible for creditworthy borrowers seeking car loans, student loans and other kinds of borrowing.
This is one of the reasons why we were against the Paulson/Bush bailout plan. The $700 billion was so loosely appropriated that it amounted to a massive blank check. We pointed that out at the time Congress was considering the legislation.

Paulson seems to think he can do whatever he wants with the money - use his own discretion to decide where the funds should go.

Isn't that Congress' job? Oh, yeah:
Article I. Section 1. All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

Section 8. The Congress shall have power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States; but all Duties, Imposts and Excises shall be uniform throughout the United States;

To borrow money on the credit of the United States;

To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;

To establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;

To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
Furthermore, bills concerning revenue must originate in the House of Representatives. That's from Section 7.

The Constitution makes it plainly clear what Congress' powers are. But right now, Henry Paulson is playing Appropriations Chair.

He is a one man Congress.

Only he's in the executive branch. He's the Treasury Secretary. He's not supposed to make law or decide what the budget's going to be.

Those are the powers of the legislative branch.

Unfortunately, congressional Democrats have abdicated their Constitutional responsibilities. Where is the oversight? There just doesn't seem to be any.

The House and the Senate have passed the buck.

And look what's happening. This New York Times headline says it all:
Lobbyists Swarm the Treasury for Piece of Bailout Pie
It's like an All You Can Eat Buffet...while the food lasts:
When the government said it would spend $700 billion to rescue the nation’s financial industry, it seemed to be an ocean of money. But after one of the biggest lobbying free-for-alls in memory, it suddenly looks like a dwindling pool.

Many new supplicants are lining up for an infusion of capital as billions of dollars are channeled to other beneficiaries like the American International Group, and possibly soon American Express.

Of the initial $350 billion that Congress freed up, out of the $700 billion in bailout money contained in the law that passed last month, the Treasury Department has committed all but $60 billion. The shrinking pie — and the growing uncertainty over who qualifies — has thrown Washington’s legal and lobbying establishment into a mad scramble.
It shouldn't come as a shock that everybody is lining up to get a piece of that bailout. After all, what bank, insurer, or financial services company wouldn't want a nice pile of money from the government?

All these executives on Wall Street and industry trade chiefs in D.C. are thinking, "Free" markets, who needs 'em? Let's take the money and run!

Since Henry Paulson is the new Congress, lobbyists for all kinds of businesses are focusing their attention on 1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, the headquarters of the Department of Treasury (forget Capitol Hill - that's so twentieth century):
Then there is the National Marine Manufacturers Association, which is asking whether boat financing companies might be eligible for aid to ensure that dealers have access to credit to stock their showrooms with boats — costs have gone up as the credit markets have calcified. Using much the same rationale, the National Automobile Dealers Association is pleading that car dealers get consideration, too.
Gimme, gimme, gimme! It's a tune that industry lobbyists from the Pacific to the Atlantic seem to be singing these days.

Jeb Mason, the Treasury's business liaison and a Karl Rove protege, commented to the New York Times on the deluge of requests, remarking: "I was telling a friend, 'this must have been how the Politburo felt'".

There's a new one. A Bushie comparing Dubya's administration to the Politburo?

Never thought I'd see the day.

Then again, I never thought we'd see a Democratic Congress hand over hundreds of billions of dollars to Dubya with (almost) no strings attached.

We at NPI hoped and expected after the 2006 midterms that a Democratic Congress would force the administration to be accountable. Wield some oversight.

Silly us. Why didn't we just get with the program? It's so much more efficient for us to have a one-man Congress who can just decide things.

You know, be a Decider.

As George Bush himself said:
If this were a dictatorship, it'd be a heck of a lot easier - just so long as I'm the dictator.

- December 18th, 2000
Well, at least we've got a Democratic president coming in. We know the Republicans are going to turn on a dime and start monitoring the executive branch like hawks, scrutinizing everything Barack Obama does.

Although we're suspect of their good intentions, we think that's healthy.

We just wish the current Democratic Congress had fulfilled its promise of being an effective, loyal opposition to the administration of George W. Bush.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Some candidates are dependent on independent money

Independent money flowed into legislative races in Washington this year, like slippery oil, greasing some candidate's ride into office and causing others to slip and fall.

The numbers are mind-blowing.

Take the state House race in the 26th district between Democrat Kim Abel and Republican Janice Angel. While both candidates raised about the same amount of money on their own, around $170K, their independent expenditures, money raised often by political action committees for a candidate's benefit without their direct help, were drastically different.

Fifteen times more independent money ($60K), was spent opposing Abel than was spent supporting her, and Angel had 35 times more independent dollars ($147K) supporting her than Abel did. Can you guess who won this race? If you guessed Angel, supported in large part by People for Jobs and It's Time for a Change PACs, both associated with the building industry, you're correct.

The same thing happened over in the 6th district in the race between Democrat Donald Barlow and Republican Kevin Parker. No independent expenditures were spent against Parker, but over $172K was spent supporting him, while three times more was spent opposing Democrat Barlow than spent supporting him. The same PACs were spilling the grease in this race, with the same outcome, Parker beat Barlow by a margin of about 5%.

It's with great relief that I can say that money doesn't always buy elections. My own legislator's, Representative Roger Goodman's (D-45), challenger, Toby Nixon, was also heavily supported by People for Jobs. Nixon received three times the amount of independent support that Goodman did, but one difference between their race and the previous two I've mentioned is that no money was spent against Goodman. Abel and Barlow really took it in the shorts, while Goodman had less negative media to deal with than they did.

I'd also like to think that Goodman ran an excellent campaign with a lot of voter contact and a strong grassroots effort. Like another winner, Governor Gregoire, he had an enthusiastic troop of volunteers that worked to offset a lop-sided input of independent money benefiting his opponent.

The grassroots can claim many victories this year, but independent money is still a powerful force in state politics. Big donors get a big voice in determining election outcomes.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Darcy concedes WA-08

Following our projection that Dave Reichert would narrowly win a third term in Congress early this afternoon, the Associated Press called the race for him, and now Darcy has issued a statement:
It is likely at this point that Congressman Reichert has won re-election, and while we will certainly ensure that every valid vote is counted, we accept the decision of the voters.

I would like to thank the thousands of people who put so much time and effort into the campaign, as well as the countless thousands more who went beyond voting to actively participate in our democratic process this year. The election of Barack Obama as our new President will ensure that the change to the direction of our country called for in this campaign is realized in the new year.
At Daily Kos, Joan observes:
The Seattle Times spurious attack on Darcy's character, calling her a liar because she accurately described her Harvard degree, apparently worked. So they succeeded in re-electing an already ineffective incumbent who will be even more so mired deep in the minority, with a Democratic president.

Congratulations, Emily Heffter and the Seattle Times. You just assured progress on key issues like transportation and environmental protection in the 8th District won't have an effective proponent in the House. At least we've got good Senators.
While undoubtedly there were multiple factors that contributed to Darcy's apparent loss, the Seattle Times certainly served as a key surrogate for the National Republican Congressional Committee, legitimizing their unfair attacks.

Frank Blethen may claim to run an impartial newsroom, but we know better.

Parting gifts

While President-elect Obama is busy putting together an administration, George W. Bush is on his way out, and you can almost hear a game show host directing his sidekick to "tell them what they won, Bob."

As parting gifts, President Bush is leaving us with his determination to deregulate everything he possibly can in his closing days in the White House. The Eagles once wrote a song called "The Last Resort" which prophetically laid out those policies which Bush is espousing: "Some rich men came and raped the land. Nobody caught 'em."
The White House is working to enact a wide array of federal regulations, many of which would weaken government rules aimed at protecting consumers and the environment, before President Bush leaves office in January.

The new rules would be among the most controversial deregulatory steps of the Bush era and could be difficult for his successor to undo. Some would ease or lift constraints on private industry, including power plants, mines and farms.

Those and other regulations would help clear obstacles to some commercial ocean-fishing activities, ease controls on emissions of pollutants that contribute to global warming, relax drinking-water standards and lift a key restriction on mountaintop coal mining.

Since the days of Ronald Reagan, the Republican party has worshipped at the altar of big business. Bush's only consideration in enacting these measures to deregulate anything and everything is the pursuit of the Almighty Dollar to pad the corporate bottom line. This is a blatant attempt to further line the pockets of corporate cronies at the expense of public safety.

How would you like uranium mining, just 5 miles from the Grand Canyon?

The Bush administration is rushing forward with plans to mine the Grand Canyon for uranium, ignoring a command from Congress to cease such operations. Since 2003, mining interests have staked out over 800 uranium claims within five miles of Grand Canyon National Park. As Mineweb reports, "The Bureau of Land Management has published a proposed rule which rejects the House Natural Resources Emergency Resolution enacted in June that bans uranium mining and exploration near the Grand Canyon National Park."


The proposed BLM rule would not only reject the House's emergency withdrawal of over 1 million acres of federal land near Grand Canyon National Park from new uranium mining, but also eliminate the provisions that allow Congress to make such withdrawals in the future. The proposed rule, published on Friday, has a remarkably short comment period, closing in less than two weeks on October 27.

Not only would the scenic beauty of the area be compromised by mining, but the Colorado River is a huge water source for Western states. Las Vegas, Phoenix and Los Angeles all use the Colorado River as a source for drinking water. How about some radioactive toxins in your water? And that's not to mention the effect the mining will have on Native Americans or the wildlife that live in and around the Grand Canyon. Does this sound like good public policy to you?

Following Sarah Palin's call to "drill, baby, drill", President Bush is also proposing to open up protected areas of Utah wilderness to oil and gas companies.

The federal Bureau of Land Management is reviving plans to sell oil and gas leases in pristine wilderness areas in eastern Utah that have long been protected from development, according to a notice posted this week on the agency's Web site.

The proposed sale, which includes famous areas in the Nine Mile Canyon region, would take place Dec. 19, a month before President Bush leaves office. The targeted areas include parts of Desolation Canyon, White River, Diamond Mountain and Bourdette Draw.

The bureau has sought to open these public lands to energy exploration since 2003, though it had earlier classified them as having "wilderness character." But the agency has been repeatedly blocked by federal court and administrative rulings. [emphasis mine]

Since when has a court or administrative ruling (or some piece of paper called the Constitution, for that matter) stopped Bush and company from trying to implement one of its corporatist or warmongering policies? Laws, they don't need no stinking laws.

In both cases, that of mining in the Grand Canyon and of opening up Utah Wilderness to oil and gas exploration and drilling, you'd think Westerners would have an ally in Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne, the former governor of Idaho which also has some pristine areas and people who care about their quality of life. But in the case of Kempthorne, you'd be wrong.

Seeing the writing on the wall, with regard to the Bush administration's impending finality, Kempthorne is giving Bush an assist and serving his corporate masters, ensuring that he'll find gainful employment when his stint as Secretary of the Interior is over.

Apparently, it hasn't been enough to tank the economy by deregulating the energy industy (think Enron) or the financial services industry (Bear Stearns, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AIG, Lehman Brothers). Bush and the corporate fat cats are trying to finish the job and finish you off in the process.

Thanks for fighting the good fight, Darcy

Although King County Elections still has 185,579 mail ballots left to tabulate - with a fair percentage of those from Washington's 8th Congressional District - it appears that Dave Reichert is going to (narrowly) win a third term in Congress representing Washington's 8th District.

As of this afternoon, Dave Reichert has a 1,440 vote lead over Darcy Burner in King County and a 6,403 vote lead overall, across WA-08. Based on what's happened over the last few days, we anticipate that the remaining ballots to be counted will trend in Reichert's direction - and that means Darcy will lose.

Obviously, that would be a very disappointing outcome, but remember, unseating incumbents is incredibly difficult. Knocking out a Member of Congress in an election is a monumental, Herculean task.

Darcy made this race very competitive, and that speaks volumes about the strength of her campaign. We're extremely proud of what she has already accomplished by running for Congress.

She's energized and organized Democrats from the foothills of Mount Rainier to the shores of Lake Sammamish. Eastside Democrats are stronger thanks to her candidacy. For that, we can't thank her enough.

If she doesn't overtake Dave Reichert and prevail in this contest for Congress, we hope that President Barack Obama will consider giving her a job in his new administration, where she could put her incredible grasp of technology and resourcefulness to work for the people of the United States.

Thanks again for fighting the good fight, Darcy. No matter what happens in the days ahead, you have our support, appreciation, and admiration.

AK - Sen. Ted Stevens holds thin lead

As of 6am this morning, Alaska's most famous convicted felon, Senator Ted Stevens, is holding his slim lead over Anchorage Mayo Mark Begich. The margin is 3257 votes.

The Anchorage Daily News reports that there are still 55,000 votes left to count and that the outcome won't be known until November 14.

More details on this race as they become available.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Dorn will replace Bergeson at the helm of Washington's schools

Randy Dorn will be taking over the job of top Washington school official next January. Lagging four percent behind Dorn in the polls, the current Superintendent of Public Instruction Terry Bergeson conceded the race this afternoon.

Bergeson had twelve years to make her mark on our state schools and one of her major accomplishments, the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, was by most estimates, a dubious one. Dorn plans to replace the WASL with a simpler test that is graded fast in order to give teachers a quick assessment of a student's progress and is directly comparable to tests taken by students' peers nationally.

Parents' and teachers' frustration with the WASL probably contributed to Dorn's success.

NPI looks forward to seeing progress in Washington's educational system. There is a lot of room for improvement and the stakes are high.

Our next Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark!

The Associated Press is projecting that Peter Goldmark has won what we considered to be the top downballot race this cycle:
Democrat Peter Goldmark has unseated Republican Doug Sutherland in the race for Washington state lands commissioner.

After more than two days of vote-counting, the Okanogan rancher and molecular biologist built an insurmountable lead against the two-term incumbent, 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

Sutherland declined to concede, saying, "There's a lot of counties where we have pretty strong support that have to be counted."
We agree that there are many ballots left to be counted, but it's hard to see how Sutherland could win at this point. It would take a massive shift to erase Goldmark's lead (and that is why the AP called it "insurmountable").

Peter Goldmark waves hat to crowd

Here's the text of Goldmark's victory statement:
I am so grateful to the people of Washington for their support in restoring public trust to the management of our public lands. I am humbled by the opportunity to serve in this important role, and look forward to the opportunities that lie ahead.

As I have said throughout this campaign, I am fundamentally committed to protecting the job base in our forests, expanding opportunities for renewable energy investment, and securing public access and recreational opportunity.

My goal is sustainable management of public resources, transparency in management, and reliance on science and law in decision making.

With those principles, I believe we can leave a positive legacy for future generations.
Congratulations to Peter for the strong campaign he ran. We look forward to seeing him inaugurated as Lands Commissioner in a few weeks.

The Obamas: Trend setters

As I found myself reaching for the scissors today to cut out yet another picture of Obama from the newspaper, this time of him leaning in for a kiss with Michelle, I felt a kinship with my mother's generation of Irish Catholics and their devotion to J.F.K. Will I be creating an Obama scrapbook to share with my grandkids?

No, I am not black, but it doesn't matter. I am still fascinated by this dynamic, beautiful family and all they represent. And I have a prediction to make. The reason I love to see Barak and Michelle together is that they obviously have a close, loving marriage, and since I sense that all things Obama will become the height of fashion (already, new babies around the world are bearing his name) so too will marriage.

Sadly, African-Americans have the lowest marriage rate of any race in the United States which probably contributes to a host of problems in that community. We can only hope that the role model of the Obamas' strong relationship leaves blacks and young people saying, "I want that," and "Yes, we can!"

The Obamas are poised to set a new standard for the world and I don't think the world will ever be the same. We need that.

Rossi's odd perspective

In a post-concession news conference yesterday, Dino Rossi told reporters that the competition for the governor's office was well fought and worth it.
We had a fantastic campaign. Of course, it wasn't enough in the end.
If he thought a campaign constructed of smears and lies and marked by vicious animosity was "fantastic" then what kind of honesty with the public and cooperation with Democrats could we expect from a Governor Rossi?

Thank God we will never find out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The Passion of Tim Eyman

This is absolutely hilarious:

The Passion of Tim Eyman
(By cartoonist RR Anderson, released under a Creative Commons license)

He gives... and gives... and gives...

I especially like the the guy underneath with the initials "BIAW" (Building Industry Association of Washington) on his pants. (The BIAW, though not Tim Eyman's biggest donor - that honor belongs to Michael Dunmire - has contributed money to Eyman, including this year for Initiative 985).

Tim, if you haven't heard, delivered a "victory" speech last night even though we crushed him at the ballot box. (Voters are trashing his Initiative 985. It's losing in every county except Pierce).

Here's a snippet of what he e-mailed to the press:
Regardless of the vote total tonight, let me close by saying that Jack and Mike Fagan, Mike Dunmire, and I formally declare victory with Initiative 985 right now. It's provided a huge benefit to the taxpayers of Washington. Thank you.
So it's a success, even though it's a huge failure. Nice spin.

Just like Dino Rossi is our new... oh, wait. The people of Washington State decided the governor's office wasn't for sale to the BIAW. Darn.

(What a sad day for Tom McCabe and Erin Shannon).

Anyhow, after Election Night was over, Tim shook his electronic tin cup by sending out an email asking his supporters to reward him for failure:
November 5, 2008

To: Our thousands of supporters throughout the state (cc'd to the media, house & senate members, and Governor)


As for our compensation fund, we would be extremely grateful for any financial assistance you can offer. Thanks.

Best Regards, Tim Eyman, Jack Fagan, & Mike Fagan, Fighting for Taxpayers for Ten Years, co-sponsors of the Reduce Traffic Congestion Initiative of 2008 [...] (go to our website to do a secure donation by VISA/Mastercard/PayPal or print out the form below, fill it out, and return it with a check or money order or credit card information)
Eyman has hinted that he may recycle his failed property tax cut proposal from 2004 as his moneymaking vehicle for next year. Initiative 864, which failed to qualify for the ballot back then, would have slashed funding for local public services like police, fire, and libraries by a whopping 25%.

If you haven't noticed by now, Eyman has a tendency to recycle the same tired, bad ideas every few years. Twice he has run initiatives to steal money from our treasury for highway building. Three times, he's run initiatives to simply cut local and state transportation funding. Three times, he's run initiatives to gut property taxes, which pay for public services like police, fire, and libraries. And twice, he's run initiatives to paralyze the state Legislature's ability to raise revenue.

And by the way, none of these ideas are original. The inspiration for Eyman's schemes is provided by conservative think tanks and conservative politicians - many out of state, although some of the people Eyman has taken ideas from are well known local Republicans.

Initiative 985, for instance, was based in part on a rough draft of a bill that Dino Rossi sponsored while he was a state senator. And Initiative 747, Eyman's unconstitutional measure designed to cut property taxes, was written by Attorney General Rob McKenna, who appears to be on his way to a second term (sadly).

Eyman may be clever at media manipulation, but he's no guru. He's an overhyped, arrogant Grover Norquist clone who has managed to inflict some serious damage to our government... but nevertheless fails far more often than he succeeds.

Burner/Reichert race remains tight

Why, King and Pierce county elections offices, oh why do you torture us so?

Results continue to trickle in from both counties at a pace I expect some snails would consider leisurely.

Today's results swung the race over to Reichert's side when a batch of Pierce county results were reported to the Secretary of State's office, putting Reichert in the lead by a bit over a thousand votes.

King County retorted at 2:30 with results of its own, narrowing Reichert's lead to just over 600 votes.

Now Pierce county is back again with an evening result, pushing Reichert back to a lead of (at the moment) 1867 votes.

So far, King County has managed to count 40% of its ballots with an estimated 357,000 ballots left to count, while Pierce is hanging in at 36% reporting and an unknown number of ballots remaining (source: this page). If I had to guess, though, I'd say Pierce county has about 137,000 ballots left to go--see bottom of this post if you care about the math.

Generally speaking, Darcy's results will be better in King County, and Reichert's results will be better in Pierce. So, with each county's reporting times interleaved as they are, we can expect this yo-yo game to continue till the end--when King County gives new numbers, the result will swing towards Darcy, and vice versa.

The best news for Burner supporters in all this is almost certainly that King County has considerably more ballots left to process than Pierce. Not all of them are from the 8th district but a proportionate share of them ought to be (anyway, I am unaware of any reason why the outstanding ballots would necessarily be clustered from any particular area), so we can expect that as both counties work towards 100% reporting, that Darcy's numbers should improve overall.

Whether it will be enough to swing the result to Burner's favor remains to be seen. King County will have its next turn at the game this evening at 11:30. Stay tuned...

[Math, for those who care:

King County's 40.27% reporting figure means 59.73% left to count. That number, multiplied by its roughly 30% share of the total Washington electorate (about 1.98 million voters), equals 357,000 ballots remaining. Or so the Secretary of State's website says. Pierce County isn't telling how many they have left to count, but we know they've got 63.29% of theirs left to count. Pierce county is about 11% of the electorate. So, 63% times 11% times 1.98 million gets us to a rough guess of 137,000 ballots left.]

Obama offers Chief of Staff position to Congressman Emanuel

President-elect Obama (24 hours later, it still feels great to say that) has offered the job of Chief of Staff in his administration to Congressman Rahm Emanuel (D-Illinois). Emanuel is considering the offer, but has not yet accepted, despite earlier media reports.
"Now, my view is, I have obviously two great opportunities, as you know, before me," Emanuel said. "I have to make a decision about my family. I’ve been in the White House. I used to joke in the White House that on Fridays, I would say: it’s two more workdays till Monday. When I was in the White House, I didn’t have children. I do know something about the White House, and I do have children now. I have a family.


"I got a lot to weigh: my commitment to my country, my commitment to public service and why I got into this, as well as what I want to do as a parent. I’m honored. And I appreciate this. I have a lot to weigh: the basis of public service, which I’ve given my life to, a career choice. And most importantly, what I want to do as a parent. And I know something about the White House. That I assume is one of the reasons that President-elect Obama would like me to serve. But I also know something about what it means to a family."
Congressman Emanuel is the Democratic Caucus Chair, the fourth ranking member of the House Democratic Leadership. It's been said that one factor in his decision on whether or not to become Obama's Chief of Staff is a desire to one day become Speaker of the House.

Emanuel also served as a senior policy and political advisor to President Clinton, so in addition to his knowledge of the halls of Congress, he has a unique perspective of knowing how life in the West Wing works, making him a valuable ally to President-elect Obama.

[Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives]

Breaking: Merkley defeats Smith in Oregon

The Oregonian is now projecting that Jeff Merkley has defeated incumbent Senator Gordon Smith, adding another seat to the Democratic majority.

The votes yet to be counted are in Multnomah County (think Portland), and will heavily favor Merkley.

Congratulations to Jeff Merkley on his hard-fought win!

Peter Goldmark holding slim lead in Lands Commissioner contest

After trailing Doug Sutherland for much of the evening yesterday, Peter Goldmark managed to pull ahead in the contest for Lands Commissioner thanks to heavy support in King County, where he is winning over 60% of the vote.

As of a few minutes ago (5:05 PM) Goldmark had 50.70% of the vote, to Sutherland's 49.30%. Besides King, Goldmark is winning San Juan, Snohomish, Jefferson, Cowlitz, Whatcom, and Okanogan counties. Sutherland is winning everywhere else. However, Sutherland's edge in a number of swing counties is itself slim. The candidates are nearly even in Kitsap, Spokane, and Clark counties.

If we had to guess who the winner might be right now, we'd project a victory for Peter Goldmark, who can rely on King County to neutralize Sutherland's margin of victory elsewhere, assuming he doesn't slip too much in Snohomish County.

If you take a look at the map below you can see that the majority of registered Washington State voters (fifty one percent to be exact) live in the three Central Sound counties of King, Pierce, and Snohomish.

Democratic candidates who dominate in King and do a decent job of competing in other swing counties like Spokane (as Peter Goldmark has done) can sustain a loss of one of the other two Central Sound counties, but usually not both.

Washington State Counties with More than 50,000 Registered Voters

It's not very surprising that Goldmark is losing Pierce, because Sutherland has name familiarity there (he was once county executive). So long as Goldmark stays ahead in Snohomish, he should be able to offset Sutherland's large margins in rural counties with his big tally in King.

Dino Rossi concedes governor's race

An excerpt from his midday statement:
I first ran for governor in 2003, not because I wanted a political career, but because I wanted to fix some problems in our state. I was happy before I got into politics and I will be happy after. After a long and grueling year on the campaign trail, I look forward to spending time at home with my family.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to thank our friends, family and supporters. These two campaigns have not been easy on me or the Rossi family. But we have been lifted up by your prayers, your donations and your support.
Didn't want a political career? Really?

That might be a believable statement if Dino had never run for office before, but he has - both successfully and unsuccessfully for Legislature.

Rossi also (weakly) congratulated his Democratic opponent, saying, "Our state faces some difficult times ahead and I wish Christine Gregoire the best of luck in seeing Washington state through these challenges."

So ends the 2008 gubernatorial contest. Now, we move forward as a state.

Mass Transit Now defies naysayers in big win

Well, King County has finally finished counting most of the votes cast at the polls (over 99% as of this morning) and Sound Transit Proposition 1 still has a big, sixty percent plus lead in King County. It also remains ahead in Snohomish and Pierce counties, with a cumulative Yes vote of 58% across the entire Sound Transit district. It's a huge vote of confidence for the agency and a clear sign that voters are ready to get up to speed with more mass transit.

This victory is something we have worked long and hard for throughout 2008. To say we're ecstatic this morning is an understatement.

Naysayers have been saying for weeks that Prop 1 was unlikely to pass, for various reasons. The souring economy was cited by several observers as the reason that voters would turn down the measure.

Kemper Freeman, Jr. and the flying libertarian circus mistakenly assumed that voters would say no merely because the package had no roads in it.

Then there was the tired argument that voters would not agree to approve any new revenue for Sound Transit, whether the economy was good or bad.

Last night, all the naysayers, whiners, and critics... including Kemper, Tim Eyman, Mark Baerwaldt, John Niles, Chris van Dyk... were proved wrong.

The people of Puget Sound rejected their lies and distortions about Mass Transit Now and gave a big thumbs up to a crucial investment in our future.

Sound Transit's work has been vindicated by the voters.

To those Democratic state legislators who have been skeptical and hostile towards the agency, we urge you to reconsider your position. Sound Transit could use your support and enthusiasm. Fixing our transportation mess will be a lot easier if there's less infighting between levels of government.

We have made history

What a night. What an epic moment in our nation's story.

Two hundred and thirty two years after the United States of America declared independence from Great Britain - and just over a hundred and forty years after the end of the Civil War - we the people of this great nation have done something that many thought unthinkable.

We have elected our first black president.

Last night, in city after city, jubilant street parties broke out to celebrate the end of the Bush error and the dawning of a new, brighter chapter in American history. Revelers jammed the streets outside of Pike Place Market and on Capitol Hill, carrying Obama signs, cheering, and happily greeting each other.

On Pennsylvania Avenue, outside the White House, a crowd gathered to commemorate the occasion and look at the future home of the 44th President of the United States.

Barack Obama and Joe Biden swept to a remarkable victory last night by masterfully carrying out Howard Dean's fifty state strategy, competing and winning in places that have recently favored Republicans. Obama successfully defended each and every one of the 2004 blue states while adding Ohio, Indiana, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, Virginia, Florida, and Iowa to the Democratic column.

They showed up everywhere and organized, taking the fight against the Republicans to a new level. And they won a huge victory.

Last night was an unbelievably euphoric evening for all of us at the Northwest Progressive Institute. I'll never forget feeling that incredible joy and pride as I witnessed the end of this historic election. I and every other person on our team have waited so long for this.

My career as an activist began two years into the Bush administration. The Northwest Progressive Institute was launched three and a half years after the Supreme Court installed George Dubya Bush into the White House. This organization has been fighting for five plus years now to restore the American promise under the shadow of one of the worst presidents in American history.

Last night, for the first time, we felt that shadow truly lift. Not just retreat, but lift. The cover of darkness may have been pierced two years ago with the retaking of Congress, but now the sun is shining bright. It's morning in America. The Bush nightmare is over at last.

Let the light be free!

OR-Senate: Merkley Leads Smith

This morning, according to the Oregonian, Democrat Jeff Merkley has opened up a lead on the incumbent, Republican Gordon Smith, with thousands of votes yet to be counted in the liberal bastion of Multnomah County (think Portland).

Jeff Merkley opened up a slim lead early today in the U.S. Senate race and appeared poised to oust two-term Republican Sen. Gordon Smith, part of a decisive Democratic sweep in Oregon.

Incomplete returns showed the Portland Democrat leading Smith 48 percent to 47 percent. Constitution Party candidate David Brownlow was getting 5 percent.
So as it stands this morning, things are looking good for Jeff Merkley, and while it will remain a close race, expect Merkley to expand his lead on Smith as more votes come in from Multnomah County.

Election night roundup - Idaho federal races

Here are the current results of the Idaho federal races, from the Idaho Secretary of State's website. These results are unofficial and come with 748 out of 956 precincts reporting, as of the time of this post.

U.S. Senate
Jim Risch (R) 292,838 votes 58%
Larry LaRocco (D) 169,632 votes 34%

U.S. Representative, District 1
Walt Minnick (D) 127,090 votes 51%
Bill Sali (R) 122,595 votes 49%

U.S. Representative, District 2
Mike Simpson (R) 179,708 votes 72%
Debbie Holmes (D) 70,704 votes 28%

Election night roundup - U.S. Senate races

Following the pattern of much of the rest of the night, it's been a good night for Democrats in the U.S. Senate. Right now the majority stands at 54-40 (and 2 independents - Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, both of whom caucus with the Democrats), with several races still too close to call. A summary of the races and where they stand at this hour can be found here. [Note: the results characterized below come from the page I just linked]

In North Carolina tonight, we've seen the defeat of incumbent Republican Senator Elizabeth Dole by Democrat Kay Hagan. We've also seen Senator John Sununu (R-NH) be defeated by Democrat Jeanne Shaheen. In addition, Democrats have added open seats in New Mexico and Colorado, with the election of cousins Tom and Mark Udall, respectively. And former Virginia governor Mark Warner was elected to the open Senate seat in that state.

However, at this hour, there are still several races that are too close to call.

In Alaska, convicted felon Ted Stevens is hanging on to a very small lead over the Democratic Mayor of Anchorage, Mark Begich. With 66% of the precincts reporting, Stevens has a 3113 vote lead, as of the time of this post.

In Georgia, with 98% of the precincts reporting, incumbent Republican Saxby Chambliss holds a 140,068 vote lead over Democrat Jim Martin.

In Minnesota, Al Franken leads embattled Republican Senator Norm Coleman, in the fight to take back the seat that once belonged to progressive champion, the late Paul Wellstone. Franken's lead, with 96% of the precincts reporting, is 1065 votes.

And closer to home, in Oregon, Bush rubberstamp Gordon Smith clings to a slim margin with 45% of precincts reporting, over Democrat Jeff Merkley, with a 2594 vote lead.

More on the U.S. Senate races later, as results become more clear.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Burner Election-Watch Party

With roughly 10 percent of precincts reporting, this young man's mother leads her opponent by a 57 - 43 percent margin.

That's the good news. There are, of course, many tens of thousands of ballots left to count, and the bad news is that both the King and Pierce county elections offices are having some sort of technical problems with their machines that are preventing them from counting anything in a timely fashion. Odds are, we won't know the result of this race for the next several days. Certainly this small early result is a significant improvement over the results from this time of night two years ago, and as Darcy said to her supporters at the Bellevue Westin, "I'll take 57-43 as the first batch of reporting."

Nevertheless, the crowd here at the Bellevue Westin hotel, at the Burner campaign's election watch party, is loving the results from our district on up through the Governor's race and of course the wonderful result in the Presidential race. Our heartiest congratulations to President-elect Obama. What a pleasure it is to be able to use those words.

All of us here at the Westin have been frustrated with the lack of timely results from King and Pierce counties. That's something I would encourage our Secretary of State to investigate and rectify at the earliest possible moment. Overseeing our state's elections is perhaps the job's most important role, and it is truly embarassing for two of Washington's most populous counties to suffer such a critical failure in their elections offices on such a momentous night.

It is difficult to sum up into a few words the feeling of being with so many excited and commited progressives tonight, watching these wonderful results come in from across the nation. Elation, zeal, and relief, mixed in generous doses, might come close. Wrapped up in the euphoria of the evening, it would be easy to lose sight for a moment or an hour or even a day or two, of the awesome responsibility that victory puts on all our shoulders. We won, now we have to do something.

Thankfully, amid the cheers and applause, the hugs and tears of joy, we heard one voice raise a clarion call to action, reminding us that we have work to do. When given a moment at the microphone tonight, this young man, perhaps America's newest and youngest rising political talent, cut straight to the point:

Do you know what's happening with the polar bears? Their ice is almost gone.We
have to reverse global warming. We have to re-freeze the polar ice cap.
The young man's name is Henry Burner, and with those simple words devoid of spin and political calculation, he reminded everyone in the room that yes, tonight is a good night, but we have a mighty big job ahead of us.

Roll up your sleeves, America. It's time to get to work.

Goldmark behind in state lands commissioner race

Go ahead, blame the media. In a race that deserved better coverage, the better candidate hasn't taken the prize - at least not yet.

Peter Goldmark is over 3% behind his opponent Doug Sutherland in their race for state lands commissioner. Pierce County narrowly broke for Sutherland, increasing his lead.

If this race had received more coverage, Goldmark's outstanding credentials and environmental ethic would have been obvious to the electorate.

Washington is blessed with four more years with Gregoire

Gregoire has won a victory for Washington's working people, children and environment. With all counties reporting (thank you Pierce County), she has broadened her lead to 2.5% over Rossi, enough for NBC news to declare her the winner and enough for her to deliver a proud acceptance speech to those euphoric Democrats gathered at the Westin in Seattle tonight.

Thousands of phone bankers, door canvassers and donors are responsible for keeping our state in the hands of a leader who has a deep commitment to its success. Thank you for getting out the vote and getting out the word.

Tomorrow will be a bright, bright day. Even here in November in Seattle.

Lands commissioner race very close

Democratic candidate for state lands commissioner, Peter Goldmark is slightly down in the polls, but, as with the gubernatorial race, Pierce County is yet to report its results and it is very likely to go the way of its neighbors, King and Snohomish counties and go for the rancher from Okanogan.

Donald Sutherland 51.4%
Peter Goldmark 48.6%

President-elect Barack Obama's victory speech

The following are the remarks of President-elect Barack Obama tonight in Grant Park, Chicago, Illinois, as prepared for delivery.

If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.

It’s the answer told by lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen; by people who waited three hours and four hours, many for the very first time in their lives, because they believed that this time must be different; that their voice could be that difference.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It’s the answer that led those who have been told for so long by so many to be cynical, and fearful, and doubtful of what we can achieve to put their hands on the arc of history and bend it once more toward the hope of a better day.

It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, because of what we did on this day, in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to America.

I just received a very gracious call from Senator McCain. He fought long and hard in this campaign, and he’s fought even longer and harder for the country he loves. He has endured sacrifices for America that most of us cannot begin to imagine, and we are better off for the service rendered by this brave and selfless leader. I congratulate him and Governor Palin for all they have achieved, and I look forward to working with them to renew this nation’s promise in the months ahead.

I want to thank my partner in this journey, a man who campaigned from his heart and spoke for the men and women he grew up with on the streets of Scranton and rode with on that train home to Delaware, the Vice President-elect of the United States, Joe Biden.

I would not be standing here tonight without the unyielding support of my best friend for the last sixteen years, the rock of our family and the love of my life, our nation’s next First Lady, Michelle Obama. Sasha and Malia, I love you both so much, and you have earned the new puppy that’s coming with us to the White House. And while she’s no longer with us, I know my grandmother is watching, along with the family that made me who I am. I miss them tonight, and know that my debt to them is beyond measure.

To my campaign manager David Plouffe, my chief strategist David Axelrod, and the best campaign team ever assembled in the history of politics – you made this happen, and I am forever grateful for what you’ve sacrificed to get it done.

But above all, I will never forget who this victory truly belongs to – it belongs to you.

I was never the likeliest candidate for this office. We didn’t start with much money or many endorsements. Our campaign was not hatched in the halls of Washington – it began in the backyards of Des Moines and the living rooms of Concord and the front porches of Charleston.

It was built by working men and women who dug into what little savings they had to give five dollars and ten dollars and twenty dollars to this cause. It grew strength from the young people who rejected the myth of their generation’s apathy; who left their homes and their families for jobs that offered little pay and less sleep; from the not-so-young people who braved the bitter cold and scorching heat to knock on the doors of perfect strangers; from the millions of Americans who volunteered, and organized, and proved that more than two centuries later, a government of the people, by the people and for the people has not perished from this Earth. This is your victory.

I know you didn’t do this just to win an election and I know you didn’t do it for me. You did it because you understand the enormity of the task that lies ahead. For even as we celebrate tonight, we know the challenges that tomorrow will bring are the greatest of our lifetime – two wars, a planet in peril, the worst financial crisis in a century. Even as we stand here tonight, we know there are brave Americans waking up in the deserts of Iraq and the mountains of Afghanistan to risk their lives for us. There are mothers and fathers who will lie awake after their children fall asleep and wonder how they’ll make the mortgage, or pay their doctor’s bills, or save enough for college. There is new energy to harness and new jobs to be created; new schools to build and threats to meet and alliances to repair.

The road ahead will be long. Our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year or even one term, but America – I have never been more hopeful than I am tonight that we will get there. I promise you – we as a people will get there.

There will be setbacks and false starts. There are many who won’t agree with every decision or policy I make as President, and we know that government can’t solve every problem. But I will always be honest with you about the challenges we face. I will listen to you, especially when we disagree. And above all, I will ask you join in the work of remaking this nation the only way it’s been done in America for two-hundred and twenty-one years – block by block, brick by brick, calloused hand by calloused hand.

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek – it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers – in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long. Let us remember that it was a man from this state who first carried the banner of the Republican Party to the White House – a party founded on the values of self-reliance, individual liberty, and national unity. Those are values we all share, and while the Democratic Party has won a great victory tonight, we do so with a measure of humility and determination to heal the divides that have held back our progress. As Lincoln said to a nation far more divided than ours, “We are not enemies, but friends…though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.” And to those Americans whose support I have yet to earn – I may not have won your vote, but I hear your voices, I need your help, and I will be your President too.

And to all those watching tonight from beyond our shores, from parliaments and palaces to those who are huddled around radios in the forgotten corners of our world – our stories are singular, but our destiny is shared, and a new dawn of American leadership is at hand. To those who would tear this world down – we will defeat you. To those who seek peace and security – we support you. And to all those who have wondered if America’s beacon still burns as bright – tonight we proved once more that the true strength of our nation comes not from our the might of our arms or the scale of our wealth, but from the enduring power of our ideals: democracy, liberty, opportunity, and unyielding hope.

For that is the true genius of America – that America can change. Our union can be perfected. And what we have already achieved gives us hope for what we can and must achieve tomorrow.

This election had many firsts and many stories that will be told for generations. But one that’s on my mind tonight is about a woman who cast her ballot in Atlanta. She’s a lot like the millions of others who stood in line to make their voice heard in this election except for one thing – Ann Nixon Cooper is 106 years old.

She was born just a generation past slavery; a time when there were no cars on the road or planes in the sky; when someone like her couldn’t vote for two reasons – because she was a woman and because of the color of her skin.

And tonight, I think about all that she’s seen throughout her century in America – the heartache and the hope; the struggle and the progress; the times we were told that we can’t, and the people who pressed on with that American creed: Yes we can.

At a time when women’s voices were silenced and their hopes dismissed, she lived to see them stand up and speak out and reach for the ballot. Yes we can.

When there was despair in the dust bowl and depression across the land, she saw a nation conquer fear itself with a New Deal, new jobs and a new sense of common purpose. Yes we can.

When the bombs fell on our harbor and tyranny threatened the world, she was there to witness a generation rise to greatness and a democracy was saved. Yes we can.

She was there for the buses in Montgomery, the hoses in Birmingham, a bridge in Selma, and a preacher from Atlanta who told a people that “We Shall Overcome.” Yes we can.

A man touched down on the moon, a wall came down in Berlin, a world was connected by our own science and imagination. And this year, in this election, she touched her finger to a screen, and cast her vote, because after 106 years in America, through the best of times and the darkest of hours, she knows how America can change. Yes we can.

America, we have come so far. We have seen so much. But there is so much more to do. So tonight, let us ask ourselves – if our children should live to see the next century; if my daughters should be so lucky to live as long as Ann Nixon Cooper, what change will they see? What progress will we have made?

This is our chance to answer that call. This is our moment.

This is our time – to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth – that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Gregoire has a narrow lead over Rossi

Governor Gregoire has 50.83% of the current state-wide vote, while Rossi is close behind with 49.17% In King County, Gregoire's reliable stronghold, her lead grows to almost double that of Rossi's share, 69% Gregoire, 31% Rossi.

Two Puget Sound area counties are not yet reporting their results, Pierce and Skagit . The results from Pierce could give Gregoire an extra boost, since the county supported her in the primary. The governor has firm leads in all of the counties ringing the Sound.

America rejected ugly politicking in the presidential election. Will it do the same to Rossi's ugly brand of campaigning?

Stay tuned...

Dubya congratulates his successor

Well, well:
"Mr President-elect, congratulations to you. What an awesome night for you, your family and your supporters. Laura and I called to congratulate you and your good bride," she quoted Bush as telling Obama.

"I promise to make this a smooth transition. You are about to go on one of the great journeys of life. Congratulations and go enjoy yourself," Bush told Obama, she said.

The president also invited Obama and his family "to visit the White House soon, at their convenience," Perino said.
President-elect Barack Obama.

It feels so delicious to type that.

The view from here is fantastic

The implications are huge! What does Obama's win mean to you?

To me, it is like yesterday's world of fear-mongering, hate, distrust, stupidity and denial has been thrust off its axis by the sheer will of the American people.

Obama's message of hope and determination is what a war and fear weary world needs. We have a leader who is capable of guiding us in a new direction. And do we ever need his help.

Imagine what it will be like for Americans to have a sense of shared purpose. He speaks to the best in us, and pushes us to reach for the impossible.

If I were a minority, disabled or struggling to make ends meet, not only would I feel like I now have a partner in Washington, but I would also feel like I have the capability to realize my dreams, my potential. A lot of children across the country have a new role model, Barak Obama.

My sincerest hope is that he can live up to my sky-high expectations. He has most of America on his side. I have faith that he will take us to the America that for the past eight years has only existed in our memories.

Voters passing Sound Transit Proposition 1

Voters tonight are giving Sound Transit a new lease on life by overwhelmingly approving Proposition 1, which would expand light rail in three directions (to Redmond, Lynnwood, and Federal Way) - and expand ST Express bus service.

In King County, the vote is:

APPROVED - 57765: 61.88%
REJECTED - 35586: 38.12%

In Snohomish County, the vote is:

APPROVED - 51,119: 55.44%
REJECTED - 41,086: 44.56%

Results don't appear to be available for Pierce County yet.

Note that these are very early returns. Things may change. We expect the final tally to be much, much closer than this.

Barack Obama projected to win Washington

Congratulations are in order to the people of the Evergreen State for voting to elect Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America!!!

Voters defeating Initiative 985

Initiative 985, Tim Eyman's ill-conceived initiative to open carpool lanes in Puget Sound and suck money away from our public schools, appears headed to defeat tonight in the first election returns from Washington State.

May I say... HALLELUJAH!

With 441,839 votes counted so far, Initiative 985 was losing, about 60% to 40%.




McCain to concede election to Barack Obama?

Word is that John McCain will be conceding the 2008 election to Barack Obama shortly. He may beat the networks to it since many of them are rather slowly projecting the outcome in Western states at this point.

The polls are due to close on the Left Coast in five minutes. Stay tuned for live, comprehensive coverage from the NPI team.

Here's what happening at McCain's "victory" party in Arizona:
Now someone is onstage saying the race is dead even, but John McCain and Arizona’s junior senator and McCain’s water carrier Jon Kyl basically concede. Kyl complains that he’s lost several friends in the Senate to “the radicals on the left,” and, “It’s still too close to call!”

But by the end of his remark, he was urging the crowd, “Those of you who have passes should head to the lawn.”

A sure sign that a concession is near.

Even we've been invited to the lawn. It must really be over.
Oh, boo hoo, Jon Kyl. You'll get over it.

FOX Noise calls Virginia for Barack Obama

Maybe they just want to get this painful night over with as fast as possible.

CNN hasn't even called Colorado yet.

Rocky Mountain News projects that Barack Obama will win Colorado

Another pickup in the Rocky Mountain West:
Barack Obama won Colorado, taking key counties such as Arapahoe, Jefferson and Larimer by more than 10 percentage points.

Obama led rival John McCain by 3-1 in Denver.

On his coattails, Mark Udall is the winner in the hotly contested race for the state's next U.S. Senator. His rival, Bob Schaffer, was losing his own home county of Larimer by 9 percentage points. Denver Congresswoman Diana DeGette has been re-elected and Jared Polis becomes the first openly gay man elected to the U.S. House of Representatives.

In Colorado's 4th Congressional District, Betsy Markey was leading the intense contest against incumbent Marilyn Musgrave.

Colorado, seen as key in Obama's bid to become that nation's 44th president and its first African-American commander in chief, added to his growing lead nationwide at this hour.
Seems like having the Democratic National Convention in Denver was a great idea.

With Mark Udall's victory in Colorado, Democrats are up to five Senate pickups minimum. If Jeff Merkley and Mark Begich win in Oregon and Alaska, that tally will increase to at least seven.

Iowa, New Mexico projected for Barack Obama

Two more red states have joined the Democratic column, the networks say. It's basically all over for John McCain at this point.

What possible path to victory is there for him? Besides the Left Coast, Obama will probably take Florida and Colorado (he's ahead in the vote count in Florida, and polls suggest Colorado will go Democratic). Montana and Nevada could also join the burgeoning number of blue states.

There just aren't enough electoral votes left for John McCain to snap up.

Networks call Ohio for Barack Obama

YES! The Buckeye State appears to have fallen in the Democratic column at last!

CBS and FOX Noise are each projecting that Barack Obama is going to win Ohio. CNN appears to be on the verge of doing the exact same thing.

The 2008 presidential election is all but over. There's just no way McCain can erase the deficit in electoral votes.

While Ohio falls to Obama, the networks are refusing to call McCain's own home state for him. That's how close things are in Arizona.

Obama adds several more blue states to tally

The networks are calling another round of blue states for Barack Obama: New York, Rhode Island, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin are all back in the Democratic column (each supported John Kerry in 2004). John McCain, meanwhile, appears to have easily captured Kansas and Texas.

UPDATE: CNN just called Georgia for John McCain. Obama had made a point of competing there but didn't expect to win.

Tom Udall the next Senator from New Mexico

The networks are projecting that Tom Udall, one of the top Democratic prospects for the U.S. Senate, has just won a solid victory in New Mexico, which may also give a boost to Barack Obama's campaign in the Rocky Mountain West later tonight.

Congratulations to Tom and his team for a well fought race!

Democrats pick up another House seat with Alan Grayson's victory in Florida

It looks like Democrat Alan Grayson has triumphed in the U.S. House contest for Florida's 8th District over incumbent Republican Ric Keller:
Republican incumbent U.S. Rep. Ric Keller was trailing Tuesday with three-quarters of the votes counted in his re-election bid against Democratic challenger Alan Grayson in District 8.

Grayson was up 52 percent to 47 percent with about 80 percent of the vote in. Voter turnout has been heavy in this Central Florida district, which is considered key in the Democratic drive to add to their House majority.

Keller has portrayed Grayson as an ultraliberal whose personal assets guarantee he can survive his proposed aggressive tax plan. Grayson has linked Keller with Republican presidential candidate John McCain's statement that Congress has not been effective for the American people.

Grayson has also hit Keller for violating a promise he made when first elected to only serve four terms. Keller said when he made that pledge, he didn't fully value seniority and experience that he now thinks make him more effective.
Congratulations, Alan! It's going to be great having another Florida Democrat in the U.S. House Democratic caucus.

Networks say Dole is out in North Carolina

It looks like Democrat Kay Hagan has just pulled off a big victory in North Carolina by beating incumbent Republican Elizabeth Dole. Dole, if you recall, was the head of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) last cycle.

Now she's out of the U.S. Senate altogether, and undoubtedly headed for a future as a lobbyist. There goes the revolving door.

Some background on the race from the Charlotte Observer:
With three of 100 counties reporting, Hagan has 949,885 votes, or 55.2 percent, to Dole's 721,163 votes, or 41.9 percent. Libertarian candidate Christopher Cole has 47,901 votes, or 2.7 percent.

The race featured two candidates who are from well-known political families.
Dole, 72, who was elected to the Senate in 2002, is the wife of former longtime U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, who lost a bid for the Presidency in 1996 to Bill Clinton.

Before coming to the Senate, Dole served as an aide in the Nixon, Reagan and George H.W. Bush administrations, including Secretary of Transportation under Reagan and Secretary of Labor with Bush. She left politics during most of the 1990s, serving as president of the American Red Cross before making an unsuccessful bid for President in 2000.

Hagan's uncle was Lawton Chiles, a legendary Senate figure from Florida. She served as an intern in Congress in the 1970s, getting to know figures such as Joe Biden and Ted Kennedy.
This is an awfully sweet victory.

Three Senate pickups for Democratic caucus so far!

Shaheen projected to win in New Hampshire

Following Mark Warner's apparent victory in Virginia, Jeanne Shaheen has captured a second U.S. Senate for the Democrats, defeating incumbent Republican John Sununu. Shaheen ran against Sununu six years ago and lost.

This time, though...victory.

Some background on the race from PBS:
One day ahead of the election, Shaheen seems to be in a strong position. The former governor is 9.6 points ahead of incumbent Sen. John Sununu, according to an average of polls from the Web site Individual polls put her between 6 and 13 points ahead.

Shaheen, who lost to Sununu in 2002, has run a "low-risk" campaign this time around, University of New Hampshire political science professor Dante J. Scala told the New York Times. She's relied mainly on tying Sununu to an unpopular president, reiterating that he has voted with President Bush 90 percent of the time.
Regrettably, it looks like Democrat Tom Allen has failed to defeat incumbent Republican Susan Collins in Maine. That would have been a nice pickup but it looks like Collins has escaped a possible Democratic tidal wave.

Obama picks up northeastern states

A slew of in states in the northeast have just been called for Barack Obama. They include Maine, New Hampshire, Delaware, Connecticut, New Jersey, Maryland, and Illinois, along with the District of Columbia (which isn't a state).

All of those states, plus D.C., voted for John Kerry in 2004. Their support of Barack Obama is expected, but of course very welcome.

NBC has also called Pennsylvania for Barack Obama, although the other networks understandably seem to be waiting to follow suit.

More state projections

CNN has just projected Obama winning in New Jersey, Illinois and Connecticut, which would give Obama seventy seven electoral votes so far.

CNN projects McCain winning Oklahoma, South Caroline and Tennessee, for a total of thirty four electoral votes.

CNN still considers Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia too close to call.

Dems likely to pick up Senate seat

CNN has projected that former Virginia Governor Mark Warner will win the open Senate seat in Vermont. The Democrats will pick up a Senate seat if the projection holds.

In West Virginia and South Carolina, incumbents Rockefeller (Dem) and Graham (GOP) look like they will win re-election.

In House races so far, incumbents are projected to retain their seats.

Vermont called for Barack Obama

The networks are calling the home state of Howard Dean for Barack Obama. That makes it first in the nation for the Democratic candidate (take that, New Hampshire). Polls have also closed in Georgia, Indiana, and Virginia, but the networks are not calling any of those states yet.

The Burlington Free Press has more on Vermont's Election Day:
Balmy weather and a hot presidential race are adding up to heavy voter turnout in Vermont.

Hundreds of people lined up waiting for polls to open at 7 a.m. at Edmunds Middle School in Burlington, where nearly 1,200 had voted by 10 a.m. There were lines early in the day at City Hall in Montpelier, too.

The contest between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain topped the ballot, which also included races for governor, lieutenant governor and other statewide offices, in addition to legislative races.
Here's to an Obama victory tonight!

McCain projected to win Kentucky

That's not a surprise. But what is surprising is that with 10% of the vote counted, Democratic senatorial candidate Bruce Lunsford is beating Senator (and Republican minority leader) Mitch McConnell, 51% to 48%.

Some background on the latest in the race from the Associated Press:
Sen. Mitch McConnell has campaigned on a theme of continuity and touted his Senate leadership post as an asset for Kentucky, while Democratic challenger Bruce Lunsford has called for a change in course in tough economic times.

They'll find out which message resonates more as Kentucky voters make their pick for U.S. senator in Tuesday's election.

McConnell is Senate minority leader and is seeking a fifth term. Lunsford is making his third bid for statewide office after two unsuccessful runs in Democratic primaries for governor.

Lunsford and McConnell each voted in their precincts in Louisville on Tuesday morning, and planned gatherings with supporters in the evening.
If Lunsford defeats McConnell, then-Democratic minority leader Tom Daschle's 2004 loss to Republican John Thune in South Dakota will have been avenged.

Voter turnout high in King County

King County Elections says turnout has been robust so far:
As predicted, voter turnout is strong and things are running smoothly at the polls.

“The early morning rain does not appear to be keeping anyone away,” said Sherri Huff, King County Elections Director. “The poll workers are upbeat and happy about the energy in their polling places.”

Minor problems have been reported from a few polling places, but everyone has been able to vote successfully.
Poll voters need not worry about being unable to vote if 8 PM rolls around while they are still in line:
Voters concerned about reports of long lines at the polls should be reassured that anyone in line at their polling place at 8 p.m. will be able to vote. At 8 p.m. a poll worker will stand in line and announce “the polls are closed.” At that time, anyone in line will be allowed to vote.
If you haven't voted yet, what are you waiting for!?

Right wing viral email falsely claims farmers held a big anti-Gregoire rally in Yakima

A couple days ago, somebody desperate for a Dino Rossi victory tonight sent out a message to Farm Bureau members across Washington State falsely claiming the Bureau held an anti-Gregoire rally held over the weekend in Yakima attended by "over a hundred Farm Bureau members", NPI has learned.

The email, which has been spreading like wildfire around Washington State, was forwarded to NPI earlier today. It is as follows:
----- Original Message -----

From: "Farm Bureau Members for Water Storage"
Sent: Sunday, November 02, 2008 11:06 AM
Subject: Farmers Rally in Yakima Against Christine Gregoire

Farmers Rally in Yakima Against Governor Christine Gregoire

YAKIMA, WA - Over 100 Farm Bureau members braved strong winds and heavy rains to hold a rally in Yakima on November 1st to protest against Governor Christine Gregoire and her lack of support and action in building water reservoirs in Eastern Washington during her first term in office.

In particular, the Farm Bureau members at the rally expressed strong dissatisfaction at Governor Gregoire for her lack of leadership on several issues, including:

1) Not providing leadership in pushing for critical water reservoir projects in Eastern Washington such as in Yakima (Black Rock) and in the Columbia Basin (Odessa Aquifer).

2) Not pushing the legislature to find funding to build large water reservoirs in Yakima and Odessa.

3) Allowing the Tribes and Environmental Groups to have too much power in controlling Ecology's decision-making process regarding permitting and building reservoirs.

4) Not reigning-in the Department of Ecology for setting up overly bureaucratic approval processes that have caused the permitting and approval of reservoirs in Washington to take 20 or 30 years.

During the rally, the Farm Bureau members chanted "Jay Manning must go!" in reference
to Department of Ecology Director Jay Manning.

Nearly all of the farmers at the rally indicated that they would nowbe supporting Gubernatorial Candidate Dino Rossi because of the lack of action that Governor Gregoire and Ecology Director Jay Manning have shown in regards to building water reservoirs in Eastern Washington.

Fake pictures of a fake farmer rally

For more information about the rally, please call Rick Jones at 509-575-9901.
Sounds like a newsworthy event, doesn't it? Except it never happened. I called the Farm Bureau to ask about this, and they have confirmed that no such event ever took place. The whole thing is falsified.

That phone number mentioned at the end? It's a pay phone at the Tin Rhino Tavern in Yakima. And the pictures that were sent with the email? They're cropped photos from a milk price protest in Germany and a farm rally in New Jersey. (Follow the links to see the original source of the photos).

Whoever issued this "news release" not only lied and encouraged the dissemination of false information, they have hurt the reputation of the Farm Bureau.

Just when we thought Dino Rossi supporters couldn't stoop any lower, they did.

Darcy Burner casts her vote

Our champion in the 8th Congressional District, Darcy Burner, has just cast her vote in the 2008 election. Have you?

Darcy Burner casts her vote

If you haven't voted yet, here are some answers to frequently asked questions about voting, courtesy of King County Elections:
Can I vote at King County Elections in Renton on Election Day?

No. Early, in-person voting ended Nov. 3 at 6 p.m. There is no voting at King County Elections office on Tuesday, Nov. 4. There are 392 polling places available throughout the county. To find your polling place, enter your information here or verify the voter registration card.

What happens if I have sealed or returned my absentee ballot in the mailing envelope without the security envelope?

As an alternative, you may use a regular mailing envelope instead of the security envelope to ensure the secrecy of your ballot. However, that is not required. Regardless, return your ballot, it will still be processed and counted with other absentee ballots.

Is there a way to confirm the status of my absentee ballot online?

Not yet. For more information on the status of your absentee ballot, please call 206-296-8683. When King County conducts all elections by mail in February 2009, online ballot packet tracking will be available.

If I'm registered as an absentee voter, can I still vote on Election Day at the polls?

If you’re an absentee voter, please vote the ballot we mailed to you. You can also have a replacement ballot printed at King County Elections. As a last resort, you can also visit any polling place and ask for a provisional ballot.

I have not received my absentee ballot. What are my options for Election Day?

If you have not received your ballot yet, you can visit the Elections office at 919 SW Grady Way in Renton and have your ballot re-issued. You can also visit any polling place and cast a provisional ballot.

My absentee ballot was misplaced or destroyed. What are my options for Election Day?

If you misplaced or destroyed your ballot, you can visit the Elections office at 919 SW Grady Way in Renton to have your ballot re-issued. You can also visit any polling place and cast a provisional ballot.

Where am I supposed to vote?

To find your polling place, enter your information here.

Do I need my voter registration card to vote at my polling place?

No. For a list of acceptable forms of identification at the polls, go here.

Can I still pick-up an absentee ballot?

If you are registered as a poll voter, you cannot be issued an absentee ballot and you must vote at your polling place. If you misplaced or destroyed your ballot, please visit the Elections office at 919 SW Grady Way in Renton and have your ballot re-issued.!!!!

A message from Michelle Gregoire: Get involved and protect Washington's future!

Nobody knows better than people in Washington that every single vote counts. In 2004, our governor was elected by just a hundred and thirty three votes votes, and this year’s race has been just as competitive.

We may have more than 4,000 volunteers in Pierce and King counties today, but there will still be people who don’t get a reminder to vote.

That’s where you come in.

If you know somebody who hasn’t voted or is undecided, give them a call and ask them who they would like to have lead our state in tough times.

Governor Gregoire will fight for working families every day. Since 2005, she’s expanded healthcare to 84,000 more kids, created a Rainy Day fund to insulate our state from the national economic downturn, and created nearly 250,000 new jobs.

Republican Dino Rossi wants to lower the minimum wage, deregulate healthcare and cut $1 billion from education to build roads.

The choice between the two candidates is clear, and today is the last day to vote. What you do – or don’t do – will determine the fate of our state for the next four years. Get out there and vote and make sure your friends and family do the same!

Do your civic duty....and VOTE!

Have you voted today?

If you're reading this post at this moment and you have not voted, please turn off your computer monitor RIGHT NOW and grab that mail in ballot or your coat...and head to the polls. There is no excuse for not voting today. None. If you're registered, you need to participate. It doesn't get any bigger than this. This is the most important election of our lifetimes.

Don't tolerate any excuses from yourself...or your friends. Call or email everyone you know. Ask them if they've voted. Bug them for an answer. If they say no, give 'em a push and tell 'em to vote. Let them know:

"I'm too busy" is NOT an excuse. "I have errands to do" is NOT an excuse. "I've got too much work to do" is NOT an excuse.

Barack Obama and Chris Gregoire need your vote. Jeff Merkley needs your vote. Darcy Burner needs your vote if you live in WA-08. Peter Goldmark, John Ladenburg, and Jim McIntire need your vote. NO on I-985 needs your vote.

Need some help deciding to vote for? We've got you covered

This is it. Today's the day. It's time to chime in and be heard.


Major problems voting in Virginia today

If you live in the Commonwealth, please be prepared for long lines at the polls:
Some voters in Virginia are experiencing long lines and voting machine problems at their polling location, according to callers to the national 877-GOCNN-08 voter hotline. The toll-free hotline has received over 1,000 calls from Virginia voters as of 10:30 am this morning. Polls opened at 6:00 am in the state.

According to InfoVoter Technologies and the Reform Institute, which are monitoring the hotline, voters in Chesapeake, VA are reporting mechanical problems, such as malfunctioning equipment. Voters in Virginia Beach are reporting long lines and some poll locations opening late. Four hundred people were reported standing in line in Petersburg, VA.
CREDO Mobile has sent a text message alert out to its Virginia network, urging subscribers to contact the governor's office and demand that polls be kept open two hours longer so everyone has an opportunity to cast a vote.

Monday, November 3, 2008

World watching United States elections, cheering for Barack Obama

At last, the time has come.

After months and years of campaigning, after one of the longest nominating seasons in American history, after two party conventions at the end of the summer, after a marathon autumn campaign...this is it.

This is Election Day. This is the moment we have been working towards.

As I write this, the Pacific Northwest is still a few hours away from midnight on Tuesday, November 4th, 2008. But the hour has already struck on the East Coast, and the first poll votes of Election Day 2008 are being cast in New Hampshire in a town-meeting style setting.

Around the world, humankind is watching as the final votes are cast. Today is the day that America decides who will lead our nation for the next four years.

Today we, the people of the United States of America have an opportunity to close the door on the Bush error and chart a new course.

Millions of people around the world... perhaps even billions... are hoping, praying, dreaming, daring to imagine a Democratic victory and a final repudiation of the disaster that has been the Bush administration.

Major newspapers from every region of the world are fixated on the election, prominently displaying election-related stories and photos.

Take a look at France's Le Monde:

Le Monde
Or Brazil's O Estado de S. Paulo:

O Estado de S. Paulo
Or, from the United Kingdom, The Guardian:

The Guardian
Or the Hindustan Times of India:

Hindustan Times
Or The Daily Nation from Kenya:

Daily Nation

Or, from Israel, the Jerusalem Post:

Jerusalem Post
World opinion polls, both unscientific and scientific, have found that Obama is widely favored. Here's Gallup:
Gallup Polls conducted in 73 countries from May to October 2008 reveal widespread international support for Democratic Sen. Barack Obama over Republican Sen. John McCain in the U.S. presidential election. Among these nations, representing nearly three-quarters of the world's population, 24% of citizens say they would personally rather see Obama elected president of the United States, compared with just 7% who say the same about McCain. At the same time, 69% of world citizens surveyed did not have an opinion.
In Australia, about three quarters of those surveyed say they're for Barack Obama:
THE vast majority of Australian voters are willing Barack Obama to victory in the US presidential election (tomorrow, Sydney time).

Kevin Rudd's Labor Government continues to enjoy majority support as well, but at levels nowhere near as effusive as those for Senator Obama.

A Herald/Nielsen Poll conducted on Thursday and Friday last week found 73 per cent of all voters want the [Democratic] senator from Illinois to become the next president of the US. By contrast, only 12 per cent are supporting Senator Obama's Republican rival, John McCain, while the remaining 15 per cent did not know who they wanted to win.
Way to go, Australia! We progressives and Democrats here in America thank you for your sympathy and support.

The world may be anticipating an Obama victory, but nothing is certain. The Republicans are fighting to win this election.

We cannot rest or celebrate until the polls close.

If you have not voted, vote. If you have voted, urge your neighbors and friends to vote for Barack Obama and the Democratic ticket. If you've done that, sign up to volunteer. Join a phonebank or help get people to the polls.

There's always more to be done.

The world is counting on us. Let's not let our brothers and sisters down.

Obama wins Hart's Location, NH

The other New Hampshire town that votes at midnight, Hart's Location, has now posted its results.
Obama/Biden: 17 votes
McCain/Palin: 10 votes
Ron Paul: 2 votes (write-in)
A great start to election day for Barack Obama.

Early election results from Dixville Notch

As is tradition, the New Hampshire town of Dixville Notch kicked off its "First in the Nation" Election Day voting at midnight Eastern time. Here are the results as announced on MSNBC just moments ago:

Obama/Biden: 15 votes
McCain/Palin: 6 votes

Update: According to CNN, the voter demographics in Dixville Notch are as follows:
According to Donna Kaye Erwin, the supervisor of the voter checklist, Dixville Notch has five registered Democrats, four Republicans and 11 undeclared voters.
It definitely bodes well for Barack Obama that he's getting the majority of the undeclared voters thus far.

Protect Your Vote

Tomorrow is Election Day, so if you've waited to vote, now is your chance. However, with elections, sometimes comes mistakes, or plain old dirty tricks that keep you from being able to vote. Make sure your vote counts and don't let this fundamental right be taken away because you're unsure about the answer to a question you may have, or because you experience some irregularity in the voting process.

If you have any questions about voting or witness anything out of the ordinary when you vote, call the Washington State Democrats voter hotline at (877) 922-4264.

Below is some good information from the Washington State Democrats on how you can protect your vote:

Mail in your absentee ballot now. Your absentee ballot must be postmarked on Election Day, so you must drop it in the mailbox before the last pickup time listed on the mailbox. However, during the Primary, nearly 6,000 voters put their absentee ballots in the mail on Primary Day, only to miss the last pickup time. Their vote did not count. We encourage you to mail in your ballot as soon as you can today or early on Election Day. Follow the instructions on your ballot about postage and how to mail your ballot.

Haven't received your absentee ballot? We've gotten a lot of questions on our Hotline from people who haven't received their absentee ballot. Is this is you or someone you know? To get a replacement ballot, go to your County Auditor's office or dropoff location. If you live in Pierce or King Counties, you can also go to your local polling place and vote there by provisional ballot on Election Day.

Remember, you can always vote by provisional ballot. Provisional ballots exist to preserve your right to vote. If you have any problems voting - say, you've moved and haven't changed your registration to your new address - you can always vote by provisional ballot. Just go to your County Auditor's office or any polling place (if you live in King or Pierce Counties) to get a provisional ballot. Here are some situations where you may find yourself needing a provisional ballot:

  • You aren't at your designated polling place. Even if you are supposed to be at another polling places, you can vote at any poll by provisional ballot.
  • You've moved and haven't changed your registration to your new address.
  • You go to the polls and you're not in the poll books.
  • You haven't received your absentee ballot.
  • You're an absentee voter and now want to vote in person.
  • You're a poll voter, but you don't have the proper ID.
Watch the mail. If there are any problems with your ballot, your County Auditor will notify you by mail. Watch your mail, and if you do get a notice, follow their directions to a T. The Auditor is trying to help you. You can fix your ballot in the week following Election Day.
Also, please click on this link if you need to find your polling place or want to know where you can drop off your ballot.

Permanent Defense challenges Tim Eyman to reschedule carpool lane "victory lap" if Initiative 985 passes

The following is a statement released by NPI's Permanent Defense to the traditional media earlier this evening.

Over the last few weeks, more and more voters have been taking a closer look at Initiative 985 - and they don't like what they see.

Sponsored by Washington's version of Grover Norquist, Initiative 985 is a recipe for transportation disaster. If enacted, the measure would open high occupancy vehicle lanes during rush hour in Puget Sound, paralyzing the bus system, slowing emergency response vehicles, and potentially forcing the closure of federally funded transit access ramps on highways.

(I-985 would also steal hundreds of millions of dollars away from the general fund, which pays for our schools and first responders, making our state's projected deficit far worse and canceling some of the savings implemented by Governor Chris Gregoire).

Several weeks ago, the Seattle Times reported: "Eyman is so certain voters will approve the initiative in November’s election he’s planning a 'Freedom Drive' on Dec. 4 with a sign on his pickup saying, 'Drive in this lane. You paid for it.'"

In the event that Initiative 985 is approved and takes effect - which remains a possibility, albeit one that has been diminishing in likelihood with every passing day - the Permanent Defense team challenges Tim Eyman and his cohorts to reschedule their convoy for the next day - Friday, December 5th, 2008, at 6 PM, on State Route 520 in Bellevue.

That's when the westbound carpool lane, restricted today to vehicles carrying three or more people, would be open to everyone - and subsequently filled.

During the middle of rush hour.

If Tim Eyman and his friends (like investment banker Michael Dunmire) accept our challenge, we promise to show up to provide publicity.

We would be more than happy to station ourselves on the pedestrian overpass near Evergreen Point and take video/pictures of Eyman's convoy as it waits in the infamous Lake Washington Line, crawling towards the water.

Though it would be cold and dark, we would have our cameras ready as Eyman's pickup slowly rolled under us, foot by foot, trapped behind a packed Sound Transit bus that's running behind schedule because it's been stuck in traffic.

For that is the future of the commute for thousands of people in Puget Sound who are certain to end up spending more time in their cars and less time with their families if Initiative 985 passes and takes effect.

We urge voters to reject that future, and reject Tim Eyman's selfish, thoughtless, me-first approach to public policy. Our high occupancy vehicle lanes - like the parking spaces we've set aside for disabled Americans - are a valuable resource that encourage people to commute together. Taking that resource away would unfairly punish people who are already doing their part to reduce gridlock.

Just as it wouldn't make sense to open federally-mandated parking spaces for the disabled to everyone most of the time, it doesn't make sense to allow solo drivers to use our HOV system during Tim Eyman's incorrect definition of "off peak hours".

It would be tantamount to paying people to drive.

Traffic is already bad enough. Our projected budget deficit is already bad enough. And our schools are already underfunded.

Washington State just can't afford Initiative 985. Vote NO.

Every vote counts for Gregoire

It's time to get that ballot in the mail or double check the location of your polling place. Let's make it a double play with Chris Gregoire beating Rossi by an impressive margin like Obama is on track to do tomorrow. Obama is counting on a like-minded leader in Washington state that will work with him for America's future.

Gregoire's fired up and ready to go!

If you saw the Seattle P-I's misleading headline today, take heart. Using poor methodology like claiming a probable 99 percent voter turnout in Republican counties, ignoring Rossi's low performance in the primary, and the fact that King County still offers poll voting, the P-I staff erroneously set expectations low for Gregoire.

But, and that's a big BUT, Washington learned the hard way that every vote counts and it only takes 133 votes to make a difference. Let's not be complacent. Your vote will make the difference between four more years of smart leadership or four to eight years of Bush-inspired politics.

Do we want to continue Governor Gregoire’s progress on access to healthcare for all, strong schools and a clean environment, or take a step backwards and embrace Dino Rossi’s “free market” healthcare system, cuts to education funding and denial of climate change?

What we’re talking about here is a difference between values. Chris Gregoire values the people of Washington. She believes in fairness, in opportunity and good government. She has stood with us, fighting for nuclear waste cleanup at Hanaford, reproductive rights for women and for healthcare for low-income kids. We can count on her to do what’s right.

Rossi’s values are less clear. His few proposals aren’t always based in reality or in sound numbers. His transportation plan takes money from education and isn't based on facts. His healthcare plan will actually reduce healthcare coverage and women should be concerned that on issues of women's health and reproductive rights, he is stuck in the past.

I'm a big believer in our governor and was excited to cast my vote early for her (and put an end to those annoying robocalls).

Be a part of history. Your vote is a civic right and privilege--use it.


Tomorrow, hard working volunteers will get a chance to share a few words with Chris. Governor Gregoire will be stopping by phone banks and canvass staging locations throughout Puget Sound and thanking our volunteers for their work. First Mike and Courtney Gregoire will be joining the governor at all events on Tuesday.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers
Where: 1310 Mercer Street , Seattle
When: 9 a.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers
Where: 240 Auburn Way South, Suite 1A , Auburn
When: 10:15 a.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers at Tacoma Headquarters
Where: 711 St. Helens Ave , Tacoma
When: 11:05 a.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers
Where: IBEW Hall Local 76, 3049 S. 36th, Tacoma
When: 12:15 p.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers
Where: 947 Powell Ave. SW , Renton
When: 2:00 p.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers
Where: 12443 Bel-Red Road , Bellevue
When: 3:00 p.m.

What: GOTV Visit @ 46th LD
Where: 11027 Meridian Ave N # 10 , Seattle
When: 4 p.m.

What: GOTV Meet & Greet with Volunteers at Campaign Headquarters
Where: 1310 Mercer Street , Seattle
When: 5 p.m.

Darcy Burner: a vote for leadership

Election day is nigh upon us. This will be my final post on Darcy Burner's race, not counting election night coverage tomorrow.

This race for Washington's 8th Congressional District remains close. Very close. So close, in fact, that I will actually be surprised if we have a definitive result in this race at the end of the day tomorrow. More likely than not, the race will come down to the final tally of absentee ballots being mailed today and tomorrow.

If ever there was a race in which every vote mattered, it's this one. Don't stay home. Get out and vote.

It has been a long, long haul. I remember having lunch with Darcy in late January, 2007, after we each had taken some much-needed down-time away from politics to recover from what had been a very bitter, close loss. Recall, two years ago Reichert won by a margin of just five votes per precinct across the 8th district, in a win that was bouyed by something like six million dollars of last-minute money from the Republican party, and an Act of God freak rainstorm that flooded out major chunks of Darcy's strongholds in the northeast corner of the district. I asked her if she was going to run again. I didn't have to wait long for an answer.

The 2006 race did end in a heart-breaking loss. But if nothing else Darcy is a fighter and she didn't let it stop her. Where I think most people would have said "I've had it. I'm done. I tried, I fought the good fight, but now I'm going to get back to my regular life," Darcy Burner simply picked up and did it all again.

And did it a lot better the second time around.

It has been an honor to cover her second campaign here on the Advocate. Watching as she kicked off her Iraq study group in the summer of 2007, watching the results of that group six months later when she unveiled the Responsible Plan. Watching her build a formidable caucus of candidates across the nation who back that plan. Consider, if every candidate who has endorsed the Responsible Plan were to win, then after the House swearing-in ceremony in January, a caucus of Representatives who have pledged to bring this war to a responsible end would spring into existence, and that caucus would number just over 10% of the entire House of Representatives.

They won't ALL win, but no one can doubt that an awful lot of them will. Win or lose here in Washington's 8th District, Darcy Burner has given the nation that House caucus. That is a truly amazing and inspirational feat for anyone to have accomplished, let alone someone who hasn't even been elected yet. It is no exaggeration to say that Darcy Burner has done more than anyone in the entire legislative branch to bring this stupid, misbegotten war to a close. It would be a wrenching shame if Darcy Burner herself didn't get to finish the job by leading the caucus she built.

That's what this election ultimately comes down to: leadership.

It's not about Darcy's one vote in the House. That's important, yes, but let's be realistic. The Democrats are going to have a sizeable margin in the House after Tuesday, and votes in which Darcy's one Aye or Nay would be decisive will be rare.

This election is about putting someone in the house who is and will be an amazing and effective leader. Someone who fervently believes in the core progressive and democratic (that's democratic with a little-d) values that are shared by an ever-growing population within this district, values which have made America great and which can make America great again if only someone will stand up and fight for them in the nation's halls of power.

Darcy Burner is a fighter. And it's not secret what she'll fight for if given the chance: health care for all and the freedom for patients to make medical choices for themselves, without interference from government or insurance companies. Tax reform that levels the playing field for the middle class. A responsible end to the war. A clean environment for our children to inherit. American independence from foreign oil. A new economy based on the "greening of America," on creating sustainable and clean energy sources to power us into the next century.

But the race remains close. So, so close. It all feels too familiar: The polls show a statistical dead-heat, again. Tomorrow's forecast calls for rain, again. Reichert's campaign has gotten a big helping hand in the last days of the campaign from national Republican party money and PAC money, again. Reichert has gotten freebies and handouts from the local media, in the form of positive press that doesn't match his record, again. Darcy has fought a good, clean fight, doing her best to accurately represent her own positions and educate voters on Reichert's actual positions and record. Again. And, once again, Dave Reichert has fought dirty with smears, slanders, and outright lies in his own ads and mailers to distort Burner's position and inflate his own resume.

Deja-vu, all over again.

I take hope in two things. First, Darcy's campaign has run a tremendous get-out-the-vote effort. Her campaign has literally hundreds of volunteers working to turn out every vote that can possibly be cast. It has long been a truism in politics that whichever side does the best job getting out their vote, wins. So in this year when the Democratic Party has done an unprecedented job of GOTV efforts at the national level, it is wonderful to see that effort replicated at the local level by Burner's campaign.

Second, the way Burner and Reichert have run their campaigns closely mirrors the way Obama and McCain have run theirs: substance and issues on one side, smears and lies on the other. But as Joe Biden said sometime in the past couple of days, when one candidate has nothing good to say about himself, he offers up lies about the other. So I take audacious hope in the fact that, nationally, the smears and lies against Obama don't seem to be working. The electorate seems to be waking up to the fact that they're being manipulated, in the most stark and gross of terms, and they're not having it anymore. I can only hope that the voters of Washington's 8th District follow suit.

The GOTV-efforts, both nationally and locally, seem to reflect that same sentiment: people want the candidate who inspires them to take time out of their busy lives to volunteer. They're tired of candidates who just flings mud at their opponents hoping no one will notice how much filthier they themselves are.

Good luck, Darcy Burner, and Godspeed. Whatever happens tomorrow, it has been an honor to cover your race, and it was truly a privilege to mark my ballot on your behalf.

NPI releases complete list of endorsements for 2008 general election

The Northwest Progressive Institute is pleased today to release our complete set of endorsements for the 2008 general election. At our endorsements page you'll find our statement on each endorsement as well as a link to the website of each endorsed candidate or ballot measure. The special preface to the endorsements for federal office is worth reprinting here, and is as follows:
Two years ago we wrote:
These are troubled times for the United States of America. As much of the rest of the world scorns or despises us for our poor decision making abroad (including the disastrous invasion of Iraq) and aversion to diplomacy, our own population is suffering at home. Families are struggling because Republicans in Washington D.C. are more interesting in rewarding their wealthy friends then giving every American an equal opportunity to succeed and do well.
Those words still ring true today.

Not only are American troops still occupying Iraq, but there is a resurgent Taliban presence in Afghanistan, placing more troops at risk.

Corporate greed and lax regulation of the financial services industry at the hands of the Republican administration and past Republican Congresses have led to the worst economic downturn since 1929.

Two years ago we called for change, and change came, though not as much as we would like. Now it’s time to continue what was started two years ago, by increasing our Democratic majorities in the U.S. House and Senate and by electing a Democratic President.
And now, here's a summary of our endorsements.

Federal Offices

  • President and Vice President: Barack Obama and Joe Biden
  • U.S. Senate in Oregon: Jeff Merkley
  • U.S. Senate in Idaho: Larry LaRocco
  • U.S. Senate in Alaska: Mark Begich
  • U.S. House, WA-08: Darcy Burner
  • U.S. House, WA-04: George Fearing
  • U.S. House, WA-05: Mark Mays
  • U.S. House, WA-01: Jay Inslee
  • U.S. House, WA-02: Rick Larsen
  • U.S. House, WA-03: Brian Baird
  • U.S. House, WA-06: Norm Dicks
  • U.S. House, WA-07: Jim McDermott
  • U.S. House, WA-09: Adam Smith
  • U.S. House, OR-01: David Wu
  • U.S. House, OR-02: Noah Lemas
  • U.S. House, OR-03: Earl Blumenauer
  • U.S. House, OR-04: Peter DeFazio
  • U.S. House, OR-05: Kurt Schrader
  • U.S. House, ID-01: Walt Minnick
  • U.S. House, ID-02: Debbie Holmes
  • U.S. House, AK: Ethan Berkowitz

Statewide Executive Offices in Washington

  • Governor: Chris Gregoire
  • Lt. Governor: Brad Owen
  • Commissioner of Public Lands: Peter Goldmark
  • Attorney General: John Ladenburg
  • Treasurer: Jim McIntire
  • Secretary of State: Jason Osgood
  • Insurance Commissioner: Mike Kreidler
  • Auditor: No recommendation
  • Superintendent of Public Schools: Randy Dorn

Statewide and Regional Ballot Measures in Washington

  • Initiative 985 (More Traffic Measure): A resounding NO
  • Initiative 1000 (Death with Dignity): Yes
  • Initiative 1029 (Safe, Quality Care for Seniors): Yes
  • Sound Transit Proposition 1 (Mass Transit Now): A resounding YES
Visit the Local Ballot Measures page to see our positions on the eight King County Charter Amendments and Seattle citywide measures).

Statewide Ballot Measures in Oregon

  • Measure 54 (Referred by Legislature, standardizes voting eligibility for school board elections with other state and local elections): Yes
  • Measure 55 (Referred by Legislature, changes operative date of redistricting plans; allows affected legislators to finish term in original district): Yes
  • Measure 56 (Referred by Legislature, provides that May and November property tax elections are decided by majority of voters voting): Yes
  • Measure 57 (Referred by Legislature, increases sentences for drug trafficking, theft against elderly and specified repeat property and identity theft crimes; requires addiction treatment for certain offenders): Yes
  • Measure 58 (Bill Sizemore measure that tries to forbid the teaching of other languages to public school students for more than two years): NO
  • Measure 59 (Bill Sizemore measure to give wealthy Oregonians a big tax break, guts funding for public services): A resounding NO
  • Measure 60 (Bill Sizemore scheme to hurt teachers): NO
  • Measure 61 (Counterproductive mandatory minimum sentencing rules): NO
  • Measure 62 (Takes nearly $100 million a year away from Oregon schools): NO
  • Measure 63 (Would exempt farm owners and homeowners from some building permit requirements for improvements valued at 35,000 dollars or less): NO
  • Measure 64 (Bill Siezmore scheme to prohibit workers from making voluntary payroll deducations to charity): A resounding NO
  • Measure 65 (Would try to impose an unfair, undemocratic "Top Two" primary scheme onto Oregon): A resounding NO
Justices Debra Stephens, Mary Fairhurst, and Charles Johnson were also previously endorsed in the primary, but they are unopposed in the general election, as their races were decided in the August primary. We urge a strong vote for each of them.

We also urge you to support the Democratic nominee in state legislative races across the Pacific Northwest. In races where there is no clear Democratic nominee, we make no recommendation - but we urge you to do your homework.

In our home district here in Washington, we are proud to support the reelection of Roger Goodman and Larry Springer.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

"I'm all in"

If you've ever seen people playing poker in the movies or on TV, one thing is certain: at the climactic moment in the scene, one of the players will utter the words "I'm all in".

I'm all in. I leave nothing behind. This is do-or-die.

Today I got an e-mail from the Obama campaign, telling me that McCain is going to try to out-spend Obama in these last days of the campaign by ten million dollars. Here's part of the e-mail:

No matter what, we need to match what our opponents are spending in the final stretch. We can't slow down between now and Election Day. Our records show that you're one of our most generous supporters, and that you're at most $X,XXX [ed: sorry folks, that's private. Look it up on the FEC website if you're so curious] from your contribution limit. There's no better time to go All-In for Barack. And if you give again today, you could be one of 5 previous donors who will have a front row seat for the big Election Night event in Chicago with Barack. Can you go All-In for Barack with a donation of $X,XXX right now?
Well, I already have plans for election night (I'll be at Darcy Burner's return-watch party), but that aside, I hate to disappoint the Obama campaign by saying no. I can't, in fact, go All-in for Barack. At least, not with money.

You see, several months ago, before we had a presidential nominee or even a front-runner in the Democratic race, I quit my job to start a business. That's kind of an "all-in" move right there. I did it because I'm betting that I can build something better for my family than I'll ever find working for someone else.

So I spent the next seven months working my butt off to get my business going. If you've ever heard anyone say "you'll never work so hard as when you start your own business," believe them. It's true. If anything, it's an understatement.

But businesses take time to ramp up. It takes time before they can pay their own way, let alone pay my family's bills and the bills of my business partners' families. So after seven months when my checkbook started to run dry, I went out to look for other work to fill the gap.

I was lucky. I have an unusual combination of skills that parts of the software industry find useful. I had the good fortune to network with some former colleagues at the right time. And I landed a pretty good job putting my skills to work.

But it's a young company. It's still growing, and not really on its own feet yet. Its founders are all-in too. And with the economic crisis and the Dow losing a third of its value in the past few months (thank you, Phil Gramm, John McCain, and Ronald Reagan for all that great deregulation), the venture capitalists who were supposed to get us through the next couple of years got scared. Money gone. Poof. 40% layoff across the company. Friends, co-workers, just gone. No warning. No recourse.

But I was lucky. I have an unusual combination of skills, so I didn't get laid off. I'm only working three days a week, and at a reduced salary. But at least I'm working. I'm one of the lucky ones.

So no, I can't go All-in for Obama right now. You see, I'm already all-in. Not only am I betting that someday my own business will turn into something great, but I'm also betting that Obama is going to win this election. I'm betting that enough honest men and women are going to win House and Senate races across this land on Tuesday to give him the legislative support he'll need to fix this country.

I'm betting that Obama really is going to re-structure the tax code such that a small business like mine gets to ride a slightly smoother rail, too. I'm betting that he's going to do something about health care, such that a small businessman can afford to provide health care to his family.

I'm betting that Obama, with the help of folks like Darcy Burner, is going to change the rules of the game--re-level them for everyone in the middle class: entrepreneurs like me, Boeing machinsts, nurses, teachers, everyone. I don't want a handout, I just want to be playing a fair game. But ever since Reagan, the Republicans have been dealing from the bottom of the deck. And in the past 8 years, they've been dealing from the bottom of a stacked deck. That has to stop, and I'm betting this year's crop of Democratic candidates, from Obama on down, are the ones to do it.

It's a pretty big bet. I've anted up my dreams and my family's future. I'm already All-in for Obama, and for Burner, and for Gregoire. I'm all-in for Scott Kleeb in Nebraska, for Jeff Merkley in Oregon, for Bob Lord down in my birth state of Arizona, and every House candidate who has endorsed the Responsible Plan. I'm all-in for the hundreds of genuinely patriotic candidates across America who have put their lives on hold for the chance to serve their fellow countrymen. These are smart, brave, decent folks, every one of them from the top of the ticket down to the bottom.

I'm betting they've got some mighty good cards to play, and that when they do, we'll all win.

UPDATE: Builder testimony contradicts Rossi's testimony

With new testimony from officers of the Master Builders Association, we are getting a clearer picture of Dino Rossi's involvement in the MBA's campaign with the BIAW to build a powerful war chest to elect Rossi governor.

Here is an excerpt from the law firm representing the plaintiffs, Smith & Lowney PLLC:
Dino Rossi testified under oath that he did not talk to the Master Builders officers about fundraising for the governor's race. The President of the Master Builders [Doug Barnes] under oath says he did.

This is important because it appears that Dino Rossi lied under oath about the central dispute in this lawsuit.

At the heart of our case is the allegation that Mr. Rossi called top officers of the MBA about BIAW's efforts to raise money for the 2008 governor's race – a fundraising effort that has been deemed illegal by the State Attorney General.

In his deposition, Mr. Rossi specifically denied talking with MBA President Doug Barnes about the 2008 governor's race. However, Barnes testified that he had a detailed conversation with Mr. Rossi about the BIAW's request for funds for the 2008 governor's race...

Barnes' testimony makes it clear that Rossi's so-called efforts to bring BIAW and MBA together was about bringing them together to fund independent expenditures in the 2008 governor's race, and that Rossi was aware of this.
Rossi admitted that he was considering running for governor at the time of these contacts, and if so, he shouldn't have been soliciting donations for his own campaign.
Barnes' testimony also undercuts Rossi's testimony that he did not know that the BIAW was trying to create a pot of money for the 2008 governor's race.
The entire conversation between Rossi and Barnes centered on providing campaign cash for the governor's race.
Finally, Dino Rossi specifically denied that he talked about the race for governor when he had lunch with MBA officers while the BIAW solicitation was pending. Yesterday morning, MBA President elect John Day testified yesterday that Rossi's potential run for governor was the central focus of the lunch meeting.
Whew! That's a whole lot of contradictions. I bet Rossi wishes he had used a few more "I don't recalls" instead of providing false testimony.

It's down to the wire on this important election, but it's not too late to shine a light on illegal campaign finance negotiations.

I am now wondering why the BIAW asked Rossi to convince the MBA to donate money to their governor's race war chest? Is it because they already knew that the MBA wanted Rossi to run for governor? In that case, he would be a pretty convincing spokesperson to make their case.

BREAKING: New Buildergate development

More evidence of Rossi's involvement in the BIAW and Master Builders Association illegal fundraising scheme have come to light.
Dino Rossi's sworn testimony that he did not discuss fundraising for the governors race with Masterbuilders' officers was contradicted by an important witness last night – a matter that drives right to the heart of the case about Rossi's involvement in the BIAW fundraising for the governor's race that is now being prosecuted as illegal by the Attorney General.
It looks like our Republican candidate for governor may have perjured himself during Thursday's deposition in this case.

Stay tuned for further details.