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

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Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

The trick or treaters are certainly out in force tonight (well, at least in Redmond!) Fortunately, I've got plenty of candy to hand out, when I'm not making phone calls in support of NO on Initiative 1033 and Approve Referendum 71.

Here's a quick Halloween roundup:
  • There was a big Halloween party at the White House earlier this evening. First Lady Michelle Obama dressed up in a cat-style costume, while Press Secretary Robert Gibbs showed up as Darth Vader and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice as Goofy. The New York Times has more.
  • AFP has a story featuring "Focus on the Family" founder James Dobson whining about how people dress up as supernatural creatures and the like on Halloween. Doesn't this guy ever give it a rest?
  • Search Engine Land has a roundup of Halloween-altered tech logos. Bing, Ask, AOL, and Yahoo have all spruced up for the occasion.
  • The Associated Press has a review of daytime television's celebration of Halloween. Morning and midday talk show hosts went all out this year.
  • Meanwhile, Snopes is featuring Halloween-related urban legends on its home page, such as the 2001 chain letter which falsely asserted that terrorists had purchased large amounts of candy from Costco stores in New Jersey.
Don't forget to mail in that ballot! Your vote won't count if it isn't postmarked by November 3rd. Also, we gain an hour tonight as we officially switch back to Pacific Standard Time (PST). Time to adjust those clocks!

What Washington State can learn from the Oakland Bay Bridge

Pity the poor commuters in the Bay Area this week. The Oakland Bay Bridge, which carries about a quarter million cars per day, is closed. An emergency repair put in place this past Labor Day weekend failed, dropping a couple of tons of steel down on the bridge deck. Thankfully, no one was seriously injured.

The Oakland Bay Bridge is a perfect example of the need for reliable infrastructure funding.

The Bay Bridge was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake, when a section of the bridge's upper roadway deck collapsed down onto the lower deck. Twenty years ago, that incident prompted calls for a new bridge.

Little wonder. The bridge was built during the Great Depression. Engineers estimate that the bridge, now seventy three years old, has a design lifetime of seventy five years. It's just plain time for a new bridge.

But two decades after the quake, the old one is still there. It is falling apart. CalTrans undertook a massive engineering effort over Labor Day to replace a section of the bridge, as well as making those emergency repairs that have now failed.

CalTrans can keep slapping band-aids on this bridge and probably squeeze a few more years out of it, but all they're doing is buying time and praying that San Francisco, Oakland, and the State of California can end twenty years of bickering and decide who should pay for a new bridge.

But given the massive budget problems California is struggling through, it's a good bet that the bickering will continue.

Responsibility and spoiled children

In the end it's about money. It's always about money. Never mind how critical to a region's physical, social, and economic health a given piece of infrastructure might be; never mind the potential tragedy should a piece of infrastructure suffer a critical failure; none of that ever seems to matter compared to the ability of politicians to point their fingers elsewhere and protect their own little kingdoms.

"Not in my backyard" has been replaced with "Not out of my back pocket!"

California's problem is that as a whole, the state has never created a reliable means of funding those critical infrastructure investments.

This, then, is what Washington can learn from California's abysmal failure of vision and leadership these past twenty years. If we don't want to get stuck with our own Bay Bridge problem, we'll have the forethought to create a funding source that the state can use to fund critical infrastructure investments. We'll act like responsible adults rather than self-centered, spoiled children.

I-1033: the spoiled children model of governance

But much as we like to blame politicians, in Washington's case we the voters have more influence than we might think. Sitting on our ballot right now is Initiative 1033, which would effectively foreclose any ability our state government might have to create a reliable funding source for the infrastructure we rely on.

A vote for Initiative 1033 is a vote for irresponsible bickering and finger pointing. It would make enemies of our city, county, and state governments, when they should be allies, each screaming that the other should pay for what everyone knows is necessary.

If you like the self-centered, spoiled children model of regional government, then by all means vote for I-1033. If you want to give Washington's politicians a ready-made excuse for passing the buck - "Well, we WANTED to do the right thing, but I-1033 tied our hands" - then by all means, vote for I-1033.

But if you prefer the responsible adult model of governance, do the smart thing: Vote NO on 1033.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 would strangle Washington State's libraries

"Libraries will get you through times of no money better than money will get you through times of no libraries."

- Anne Herbert

Washington State's libraries are hurting. The Great Recession - coupled with the voters' frequent unwillingness to exempt libraries from the draconian limits imposed by Tim Eyman's ill-conceived Initiative 747 - has resulted in reduced hours, cutbacks, and lost services in community after community.

Now Eyman's Initiative 1033 is threatening to slowly strangle libaries to death by freezing what funding they have left.

Washington Library Association President Tim Mallory, who works for Timberland Regional Library, tells NPI the consequences of Initiative 1033 may not be felt immediately, but will definitely manifest themselves over time.

And they won't be pretty.

"It's like putting a noose around your neck, and it doesn't choke you immediately, but if you try to do anything, it chokes you," Mallory said of I-1033.

He knows firsthand how hard it is to make decisions when the only options are severe cuts that adversely affect patrons.

Timberland's voters in February rejected a levy lid lift that would have given the system an infusion of badly needed funding. Because the proposition had been in the works for three years, it went forward on the ballot, even though library trustees realized the timing was awful.

The proposition ended up costing the library system - which spans Thurston, Lewis, Mason, Grays Harbor, and Pacific counties - more than $300,000.

As a consequence of the recession and levy failure, the library system has:
  • Shuttered all of its libraries on Sundays
  • Reduced hours of operation at some libraries to four days a week
  • Stopped employing substitutes, which means there is nobody to fill in if a library staff member is sick
  • Scaled back its book budget
  • Slowed down courier delivery, which means it takes longer for books to reach library patrons
  • Limited the number of books that can be checked out at one time
  • Required patrons to shoulder the cost of interlibrary loans
  • Begun charging library fines for the first time in its history
These measures are just the beginning. If Initiative 1033 passes, a bad situation is going to get much, much worse.

If Initiative 1033 takes effect, libraries could eventually reach a point where they become so underfunded that they have to be shut down.

Library ClosedThe photo to the left shows the Kirkland Library adjacent to Peter Kirk Park in Kirkland. It's currently closed for renovation, not because of budget cuts, but if Initiative 1033 were to take effect, there is a very real danger the library could end up being closed for good at some point.

The extent of the damage Eyman's scheme could inflict is hard to anticipate, but we do know one thing: It would be really, really bad.

If Eyman were to respond to this post, he would no doubt sneer we're trying to scare people. Actually, what's scary is that Washington State is home to someone who is as cynical, reckless, and manipulative as he is.

The most dangerous place in the state, as Joel Connelly and others have remarked, is between Eyman and a television camera.

Eyman is trying to trick us all into believing there's a free lunch... that we can enjoy these wonderful public services we have, like libraries, and simply not pay for them. Well, reality doesn't work that way.

The simple truth is, libraries will get us through times of no money better than money will get us through times of no libraries.

That quote from Anne Herbert is a testament to the value that our essential public services provide. Most Wahingtonians want libraries, and parks, and pools, and all the other great things our tax dollars pay for.

But humans make mistakes. We can be shortsighted and end up doing things that are penny wise and pound foolish. What's shameful about Initiative 1033 is that it was deliberately engineered to be destructive.

I-1033, its sponsor Tim Eyman, and his wealthy backer Michael Dunmire want to wreck valuable services like our libraries. On purpose.

The good news? They can't do it without our permission.

So break out that mail in ballot, find a good pen, and fill in the oval to vote NO on Initiative 1033. Your fellow library patrons will thank you. And, in the weeks, months, and years ahead, you'll be thanking yourself, too.

If kids could vote, Tim Eyman's I-1033 would be discarded into the rubbish bin

Secretary of State Sam Reed's office has just announced the results of the 2009 Mock Election, held in schools across Washington State this week.

If the results are any indication of how their parents are voting, next Tuesday evening could be a very exciting night for progressives.

By significant margins, participants in the Mock Election (grades six through twelve) voted NO on Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 and voted to Approve Referendum 71. The totals were as follows:

No I-1033: 56.24%
Yes I-1033: 43.76%

Reject R-71: 41.31%
Approve R-71: 58.69%

Close to four thousand students in grades six through twelve participated in this year's Mock Election. Students in grades one through five voted on two mock ballot measures instead of the real measures on Washington's ballot. They resoundingly voted to reject Initiative A, which concerned school uniforms (wow, big surprise) and to pass Initiative B, which concerned kids picking up trash.

We at NPI congratulate Washington's kids for standing strong in favor of protecting our quality of life and extending equal rights for all. Way to go!

Sign up for Trick or Vote

Have any plans for Halloween? How about helping get out the vote?

The Washington Bus is back this year with Trick or Vote, the coolest way to make a difference in this fall's election and have a lot of fun at the same time. Last year, hundreds of volunteers with the Bus knocked on thousands of doors and helped mobilize young voters to vote in the 2008 elections.

This year, the Bus is partnering with Approve Referendum 71 and NO on I-1033 for Trick or Vote. All you need to do to join in is sign up and show up. The training will be at 2:30 PM, canvassing will go from 3 to 7 PM, and then there will be a party at the Old Georgetown Brewery until 9 PM.

Young voters have a pivotal role to play in the 2009 general election. Nothing less than the future of Washington State and King County is on the ballot this year. It's not enough to care about politics only in presidential election years. Help deliver that message to others by signing up for Trick or Vote.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Where are the Election Night parties going to be next Tuesday? Here's a guide

With Election Night 2009 now less than a hundred and twenty hours away, campaigns are starting to release information about where their parties are going to be. The following is the list we've compiled from announcements collected today. We'll update the list as we get more announcements.

You can let us know about a party that is not on the list by sending an email to tips (at) nwprogressive (dot) org.

Mallahan for Mayor, Dow Constantine for Executive, NO on I-1033
Where? Edgewater Hotel, 2411 Alaskan Way, Pier 67, Seattle, 98121
What Room? Alki Room for NO on I-1033, Cascade Room for Mallahan
When? Starts at 7 PM for NO on I-1033, 7:30 PM for Mallahan

Approve Referendum 71
Where? Pravda Studios, 1406 10th Ave, Suite 200, Seattle, 98122
When? Starts at 7 PM

McGinn for Mayor
Where? The War Room, 722 E Pike Street, Seattle, 98122
When? Starts at 7 PM

Seattle Housing Levy
Where? Sole Repair, 1001 E Pike St, Seattle, 98122
When? Starts at 6 PM

Pete Holmes for City Attorney & David Bloom/Nick Licata for City Council
Where? Seattle Glassblowing Studio, 2227 5th Avenue, Seattle, 98121
When? All parties start at 7 PM

Tom Carr for City Attorney
Where? Christos at Alki, 2508 Alki Ave SW, Seattle, 98116
When? Starts at 7:30 PM

Max Vekich for Port Commission
Where? Alexis Hotel, 1007 First Ave, Seattle, 98104
When? Starts at 6 PM

Rob Holland for Port Commisssion
Where? Westin Hotel, 1900 5th Ave, Seattle, 98101
When? Starts at 5:30 PM

Bob Rosenberger for King County Assessor
Where? Southlake Grill, 1253 Thomas St, Seattle, 98109
When? Starts at 6 PM

Sally Bagshaw and Jessie Israel for City Council
Where? Spitfire, 2219 4th Ave, Seattle, 98121
When? Both start at 7 PM

Richard Conlin for City Council
Where? Cafe Paloma, 93 Yessler Way, Seattle, 98104
When? Starts at 7 PM

David Ginsberg for City Council
Where? Cafe Metropolitan, 1701 E Olive Way, Seattle, 98102
When? Starts at 7 PM

Mike O'Brien for City Council
Where? Fremont Abbey, 4272 Fremont Ave N, Seattle, 98103
When? Starts at 7 PM

Robert Rosencrantz for City Council
Where? Chez Rosencrantz, 2316 18th Ave E, Seattle, 98112
When? Starts at 7:30 PM

AM 1090 (with Lee Callahan)
Where? Copper Cart Cafe, 113 Bell Street, Seattle, 98121
When? Starts at 6:30 PM

King County Citizens for Port Reform
Where? Fadó Irish Pub, 801 1st Avenue, Seattle, 98104
When? Starts at 6:30 PM, runs until 8 PM

43rd District Democrats Election Night Happy-Hour Watch Party
Where? Purr Cocktail Lounge, 1518 11th Avenue, Seattle, 98122
When? Starts at 7 PM

The State Democratic Party has also compiled an extensive list of parties

OEA, AFT sue Oregon's Tim Eyman (Bill Sizemore) for creating sham charity

How appropriate... a couple days before Halloween, two Oregon unions representing thousands of teachers are going after Oregon's zombie version of Tim Eyman (Bill Sizemore) who just keeps coming back to mess with Oregon no matter how hard he falls. Sizemore bought his way onto the ballot four times last year with money from multimillionaire Loren Parks (Sizemore's Dunmire).

Jeff Mapes has the story:
The unions won a civil racketeering judgment against Sizemore in 2002, and this time they filed a lawsuit accusing him of setting up a "sham charitable organization" used to funnel Parks money into four initiative campaigns on the 2008 ballot.

Sizemore, who has decried the 2002 legal judgment as politically biased, will no doubt say this is yet another attempt by powerful public employee unions to shut him down. But there have been plenty of questions raised about Sizemore's financial maneuvering before 2008, and conservative activists have already been trying to cut him out of the action.
To say that Sizemore is a shady operator is really an understatement. Compared to Sizemore, Eyman is a decent guy... sort of.

Actually, never mind. I take that back.

(Sorry Tim, you've lied and disregarded public disclosure law too many times to be considered a decent guy. Not to mention your cynical, me-first, initiatives engineered to prey on the fears of a gullible public).

Anyway... it's good to see that OEA and AFT are going after Sizemore. Somebody has to put a stop to his schemes. Oregon lucked out last year; voters defeated all four of the measures Sizemore got on the ballot with Parks' money.

More information on the suit from the unions' news release:
Today’s action centers on Sizemore and Parks’ use of another sham charitable foundation to gather signatures for and to promote four ballot measures during the 2008 general election campaign. The foundation was utilized to funnel money for Sizemore’s political activities. Many of the allegations made in the plaintiffs’ suit were referenced and substantiated in a 2008 ruling issued by Multnomah County Judge Janice Wilson in which she found Sizemore in contempt of court.

“It’s clear that Sizemore and Parks have teamed up in order to subvert the initiative process,” says Richard Schwarz, AFT-Oregon Executive Director. “It’s time they were held accountable for corrupting Oregon’s initiative system. Anyone wanting to make laws ought to live by those we already have.”

The suit alleges the racketeering conspiracy between Sizemore and Parks was so prevalent that it required Sizemore to commit perjury on multiple occasions to cover up their activities. There are 33 different and separate instances of Sizemore’s alleged perjury included in the plaintiffs’ suit.
No matter how many times Grover Norquist clones like Eyman and Sizemore are defeated, they just come back to strike again. Since they're zombies, about the only thing we can do to keep them from collectively wrecking the Pacific Northwest is to pin them to the ground (so to speak) every time they get up.

That's why it's so great to see that OEA and AFT are suing Sizemore again.

(To learn more about NPI's work to maintain a year-round opposition to Tim Eyman and Michael Dunmire, visit Permanent Defense.)

Investing in little kids pays big

When we have money to invest, we want to put it somewhere that will give us high returns on our dollar. Our government should be looking at its investments in the same way. An excellent place for investment is our very young children, who pay big dividends to society and government when they receive the right sort of stimulation and care in their early years. Investing in babies and preschoolers is a rather long-term investment, but Washington is taking the long view and drafting a plan to devote more resources to early education.

Fascinating studies on the economic impact of early childhood programs, like preschool and parent education classes, have found that one dollar invested in these programs results in up to six dollars being returned to the government in the form of taxes and from the reduced need for social services, and up to four dollars returned to society from reduced crime. These numbers aren't escaping notice. Through his own childhood development research, Nobel Prize winner in economics James J. Heckman, Ph.D. has concluded that, “It’s good business to invest in young children.”

According to Dr. Heckman:
Early learning begets later learning and early success breeds later success, just as early failure breeds later failure. Success or failure at this stage lays the foundation for success or failure in school, which in turn leads to success or failure in post-school learning.
Washington is seriously considering how to invest in early education. Last spring, Governor Gregoire cut provisions for early learning programs for at-risk kids out of the successful basic education reform bill, HB 2261, but not because she isn't a believer. Gregoire had something larger in mind. The governor is so serious about the value of strong early learning programs that she wants to include all children, not just at-risk kids, in any programs’ scope.

In a letter to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Randy Dorn this summer, Governor Gregoire wrote:
I am asking you to work on a proposal about the state’s role in providing early learning opportunities for all children birth to five, their families, early learning caregivers and educators. I believe that children should have early learning opportunities from birth.
A group of more than 120 educators, parents, stakeholders and policy makers are preparing a draft statewide early learning plan which is due to the governor on December 1. This committee welcomes input from the public, so take a look at the work done so far (scroll down to the bottom of the page) and make your comments.

It costs society far less to give a kid a strong start in life than to correct deficiencies in a child's education later.

Ubuntu 9.10 "Karmic Koala" released

Here comes the Koala!

Today Canonical - the company that sponsors the development of the world's most popular GNU/Linux distribution, Ubuntu - is taking the wraps off of the latest version, 9.10, codenamed "Karmic Koala".

Karmic is said to be the most polished version of Ubuntu ever created. It boots more quickly, looks more stylish, and includes new versions of popular applications like Firefox (3.5). Plus it comes with a new Software Center (an improved substitute for Add/Remove Applications) that lets users add apps more easily.

Karmic also includes hookups for a new Canonical-backed web service called Ubuntu One, which allows users to remotely back up their data. Two gigabytes is available for free, and fifty gigabytes can be rented for a low monthly fee.

Pidgin has been ditched as the default instant message client in favor of Empathy. Current Ubuntu users who are fond of Pidgin need not worry, as upgrading will not remove Pidgin from the operating system.

Canonical's Chief Operating Officer, Jane Silber, said of the release:
Ubuntu 9.10 gives users more reasons than ever to seriously consider Linux at a time when many are thinking again about their operating system options. We are delivering a platform for users interested in an easy-to-use, great-looking, web-friendly operating system,. A faster, more beautiful boot and login sequence, file and contact synchronisation through online services and great experiences on the most popular notebook, desktop and netbook models continue to drive Ubuntu into the mainstream of computing choices.
For those who are not familiar with Ubuntu and GNU/Linux, it's a free operating system (free as in free speech, not free beer) because it gives the user freedom. Ubuntu's code is open source, which means that anyone can look at it, take it apart, or modify it. Ubuntu contains no bloatware (unwanted shortcuts and preinstalled applications that are frequently present on new computers running Windows), malware, or spyware. Because it is better designed than Windows it is less susceptible to viruses.

It is also much faster. Windows can be painfully slow. Microsoft has tried to address this somewhat in Windows 7, but there's only so much the company can do. Slowness is often caused by the addition of programs the user wants which are always running in the background. (For example, Google and Adobe products have updating services which are always on.) Security software, particularly Norton AntiVirus, can also make Windows slow to a crawl.

With Ubuntu, most of the common applications a user might need are built in, and more can be seamlessly added without having to go to any website to download them. Adding a firewall to Ubuntu doesn't slow down the operating system.

Ubuntu users who want to upgrade to Karmic Koala simply need to visit the Update Manager, which will say, "New release available." (If it doesn't, check the update settings to make sure that the system is set to notify when new releases are available). For those who want to freshly install Karmic, it is available for download at BitTorrent is recommended, especially for today, because all the download servers are going to be taxed.

Happy downloading!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Entering the home stretch: Less than a week left to defeat Tim Eyman's I-1033

November 3rd sure doesn't look so far away anymore.

After a long summer and a busy autumn, the deadline for turning in ballots is coming up fast, and the campaign against Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is entering its final days. The coalition has launched a new television ad, featuring economist Jim Timmons, which focuses on the harm Initiative 1033 would inflict on essential public services and our state's credit rating.

Meanwhile, Tim Eyman and I square off in this morning's Mukilteo Beacon (Tim's hometown paper!) in dueling op-eds. Tim uses his space to repeat his usual tired talking points, whereas I took the trouble to explain how Initiative 1033 takes control of Mukilteo's destiny away from the people of Mukilteo:
Cities like Mukilteo, with large business centers, would be the hardest hit. I-1033 does not account for the cost of commercial development in a city. Instead, it pretends that inflation and population growth are the only factors that cause the costs of providing services to rise year after year.

But that is simply false. Police officers and firefighters in Mukilteo don't just patrol the residential neighborhoods in town; they're responsible for keeping the entire city and its many businesses safe.

Businesses also depend on utilities (water, sewer, electricity) to function, and, of course, roads. All of these essential services cost money, yet I-1033 pretends that they don't.

If I-1033 passes, Mukilteo can forget about any plans it has for economic development, because it would prevent the city from using revenue from new development to strengthen neighborhoods and public services.
Also this morning, the Mainstream Republicans of Washington State held a press conference to denounce Initiative 1033. Speaking at the press conference was the organization's executive director Alex Hays, attorney Mike Vaska, and former King County Councilmember Louise Miller.

Joel Connelly has a report on the press conference for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. (NPI has previously covered conservative/Republican opposition to I-1033 on two occasions). The letter states, in part:
Initiative 1033 proposes an unreasonable and unworkable limit that punishes local governments, locks in funding cuts for law enforcement, schools and other important services, and weakens the ability of our communities to invest in projects that would help attract or retain jobs in our state.

We ask that you vote No on Initiative 1033 and reject Tim Eyman's ill conceived and unreasonable proposal that will make already tough times worse in our state and our communities.
Notable signatories to the letter include former governor Dan Evans, former Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland, former Senator Slade Gorton, Pierce County Councilmember Shawn Bunney, Western Wireless founder John Stanton, former U.S. Attorney Mike McKay, Seattle Port Commissioner Bill Bryant, and over a dozen locally elected Republicans serving at the city and county level.

In other news, Washington universities and colleges are becoming increasingly concerned about what could happen if Initiative 1033 passes. Writing in Western Washington University's newsletter, President Bruce Shepard addresses the challenges Western will have to deal with if I-1033 passes:
Our current biennial operating budget plan reflects a 28.8 percent funding reduction in maintenance-level state support – or $44 million – that is only partially offset by one-time federal stimulus dollars and tuition increases. During this biennium, state support for Western operations – which in past decades had been as high as 72 percent per year – for the first time falls below 50 percent threshold to 43 percent.

If I-1033 passes, and some recent polls show a majority of voters favoring the measure, then Western will have to deal with funding limits based on state revenues received during the worst recession in a half century. The hope has been, as the state economy recovers, that some of the funding slashed from our operating budget will be restored during better times. That will not happen, especially if state expenditures are essentially frozen at lower recessionary levels.

And since much of the state budget is mandated, such as K-12 education and Medicaid funding, higher education – which has been described as the state’s “credit card” – could see even more disproportionately severe future budget cuts. As the state’s funding to our budget remains stagnant, while many of our expenses rise, continuing hefty increases in tuition may become an unpleasant regular byproduct.
It's a certainty that tuition will skyrocket if Initiative 1033 goes into effect, no matter what Tim Eyman says. Money doesn't grow on trees.

If the state can't even fulfill its constitutional, paramount duty to fund K-12 education and the criminal justice system, colleges and universities will see the state's contribution to their budgets drop to almost nothing.

We didn't "lose" the second 787 line: The fix was in for South Carolina

So the big news today is that Boeing has decided to put its second 787 Dreamliner production line in Charleston, South Carolina instead of Everett, Washington.

Cue a legion of right wing commenters coming out of the woodwork to gloat that it's all the fault of the International Association of Machinists (IAM) or Governor Chris Gregoire. Or both. And cue the hand-wringing by local elected officials, business lobbyists, and opinion writers who will ruefully express their disappointment and unhappiness with the company's decision.

Over the next forty eight hours we will hear many voices grumbling that we coulda, shoulda done something to keep this from happening.

What they don't seem to understand is this: The fix is in. It has been for a long time. Really, the fix has been in ever since Boeing merged with McDonnell Douglas and the folks from that company were put in the cockpit, so to speak. The people who came over from McDonnell Douglas and now run the show at Boeing are squeamish bean counters who are obsessed with costs and don't understand appreciate the talented workforce that Boeing has nurtured for decades here in Puget Sound. They don't see the benefit of paying workers a livable wage, and they resent that they can't simply dictate terms to their employees.

It was clear when Boeing bought the Vought facility in South Carolina what was going to happen next. If Boeing didn't plan to expand there, why else would it have acquired the plant?

We gave Boeing billions of dollars in tax breaks and incentives several years ago to persuade the company to put the first 787 production line here.

Does anyone seriously believe we should do anything Boeing wants just so they won't open facilities in another state?

Again, the reason this decision was made is very simple: Boeing's management and its board, as we have previously noted, are shortsighted suits who want to sell airplanes, not build them. They're corner cutters.

They want to do everything on the cheap.

That is why the second 787 production line is going to South Carolina. It has nothing to do with our business climate, which Forbes Magazine says is one of the best in the country. And it's not because Boeing doesn't feel welcome or wanted here. Boeing already has billions in tax breaks and incentives from us; they baited us into giving them a free ride.

It's corner cutting. Boeing management wants the same results it gets from its highly trained, well paid Puget Sound workforce for less. And its executives foolishly seem to believe that's going to happen even though the Dreamliner delays have proved that the company's original game plan for building the plane on the cheap by outsourcing work to every supplier they could sign up was totally unrealistic.

So to those who feel like we've lost something today: Cheer up. We didn't "lose" anything. This was already in motion.

If anything, Boeing was trying to see whether they could get the leadership of the IAM to sell out its membership... while at the same time getting South Carolina to pony up a package of tax breaks and incentives. Cha-ching!

Boeing knew full well that union leaders cannot and would not sell out their members. So, with South Carolina's offerings in hand, the company stopped pretending that it was interested in putting a second production line in Everett, and made the announcement that its execs wanted to make all along. IAM Local 751 President Tom Wroblewski explains:
We tried very hard to reach an extended agreement with Boeing. We listened closely to what executives said, and suggested ideas to meet their needs. We offered concrete, real-world solutions.

But I can tell you now, no matter what Boeing says or implies, the truth is this: We did offer Boeing a 10-year contract, and even offered to go longer than that. And when we did, they seemed stunned, and stopped talking.

It was obvious to me that Boeing wasn’t really interested in working with us. They didn't take our proposals seriously and they never offered any proposals of their own. Most of the time, they didn’t even take notes.

It's now clear that Boeing was only using our talks as a smoke screen, and as a bargaining chip to extort a bigger tax handout from South Carolina.
Now that the company's intentions have become more obvious to those who naively believed we were seriously in the running for a second production line, perhaps we can have a conversation about making our economy less dependent on Boeing. The most versatile economy is a diversified one. We should not be reliant on one or two employers to supply good jobs in our region and our state.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Second poll, this one by SurveyUSA, shows Tim Eyman's I-1033 going down to defeat

On the heels of this morning's Washington Poll comes more good news from the polling front, this time from SurveyUSA and KING5:
[I]f the votes were counted today, Referendum 71 – the measure to expand benefits for same sex partners - would pass by a close margin. Half of the 561 likely and actual voters polled by SurveyUSA say they would vote yes while 43 percent say they would vote no. Seven percent remain undecided.

The margin for Initiative 1033, which would tie government revenue increases to the rate of inflation, is not as tight. Fifty percent of those polled say they are planning or have already voted no, while 38 percent are voting yes. Twelve percent still are not sure.
The I-1033 numbers closely match the results from this morning's Washington Poll, which found that forty nine percent of likely voters surveyed are NO on I-1033, while forty percent are yes and the remainder undecided.

Victory is not yet ours. And the only meaningful poll results get announced on Election Day. Polls should be viewed with a healthy amount of suspicon.

But what is becoming clear is that the campaign to defeat Initiative 1033 - which was scrambled together at the last possible moment before victory passed out of reach - has made tremendous headway. People are hearing the message about the devastating consequences of I-1033 and deciding they want nothing to do with Tim Eyman's jobs killing wealth transfer scheme.

It is worth remembering that undecided voters have broken in Tim Eyman's direction in the past. We can't let that happen this year.

It is imperative that we get out the vote between now and next Tuesday and let everyone know to vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Senator Lieberpoison (er, Lieberman) says he'll filibuster healthcare reform bill

Sorry about the name calling in the title, but... what a jerk!

Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) told reporters today that he would in fact filibuster any health care bill he doesn't agree with--and right now, he doesn't agree with the public option proposal making its way through the Senate. "I told Senator Reid that I'm strongly inclined -- I haven't totally decided, but I'm strongly inclined--to vote to proceed to the health care debate, even though I don't support the bill that he's bringing together because it's important that we start the debate on health care reform because I want to vote for health care reform this year. But I also told him that if the bill remains what it is now, I will not be able to support a cloture motion before final passage. Therefore I will try to stop the passage of the bill."
See, Joe doesn't like the idea that people who are uninsured should be able to get coverage from a public plan, offered through the federal government, like kind of plan that Joe has access to because he is a United States Senator.

Joe's primary concern seems to be the welfare of Cigna, Humana, Premera BlueShield, and other big corporations that profit from healthcare. Like Aetna... the tenth largest single private contributor to Lieberman’s reelection campaign.

His criticisms of the public option (or competitive option, as Speaker Pelosi would like us to call it) - that it will add to the national debt and cost taxpayers a boatload of money - are wholly without merit. It's not the first time Joe has opened his mouth and made baseless, unwarranted, uninformed statements.

And Joe apparently doesn't realize that his own state already has something similiar to the federally proposed public option. It's called the Charter Oak Health Plan, and it enjoys the full support of Connecticut's Republican governor.

If only Ned Lamont was the junior senator from Connecticut...

New poll indicates that with work, major progressive victory is possible next week

Longtime readers know that we at NPI are not very fond of polls. We like to say the only real poll that matters is on Election Day. But there is one poll out there that we do put more stock in than others, and that's the Washington Poll. Conducted by the Washington Institute for the Study of Ethnicity, Race & Sexuality at the University of Washington, it is out in the field a week and a half before Election Day, with results being released a week in advance.

A few quick notes about the poll:
  • The survey was in the field from October 14 – 26, 2009.
  • A total of 724 registered voters throughout the state of Washington were interviewed, yielding in a 3.6% margin of error.
  • Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding.
This year's poll shows us winning all the major contests: Initiative 1033, Referendum 71, and the county executive race.

Now, before getting too excited, remember, there is a week to go, and in the case of I-1033 and the county executive race especially, undecided voters will determine who wins. So consider this motivation to join a phonebank or doorknocking effort.

First, Referendum 71. Among registered voters, the measure is ahead, fifty six percent to thirty nine percent.

(Breakdowns include Certain, Could change, and lean Yes/No). Among likely voters, the measure is also ahead, fifty seven to thirty eight, and among those who have already voting, it is passing, fifty five to forty five percent. (Obviously in that last category, Already Voted, there is only one breakdown... Certain).

Surprisingly, support for Referendum 71 is strong in conservative Eastern Washington at 46% with the no column managing to pull in only 49%. That allows Puget Sound, which favors the measure sixty forty, to dominate the outcome.

Initiative 1033, meanwhile, is narrower. Forty one percent support the initiative (Certain, Could change, lean yes). Forty six percent are opposed. Thirteen percent undecided. The figures start to improve when we move to Likely Voters, who are forty percent yes, forty nine percent no, ten percent undecided.

The very best news is that among those who have already voted, fifty six percent have voted NO on I-1033 and forty four percent have voted yes.

We need to make sure that voters continue to break against I-1033 statewide, and that means joining a phonebank, talking to neighbors, distributing literature, and knocking on doors today.

In the county executive's race, Dow is ahead among registered voters with forty five percent, Susan Hutchison is at thirty two percent, and undecided voters are making up the rest. Dow's lead increases among likely voters. Forty seven percent of them support him while thirty four percent back Hutchison. But the bloc of undecided voters is still large at nineteen percent.

The poll suggests that Seattle is going to be a mighty force for Dow. A whopping seventy percent of poll respondents in Seattle are for Dow. The rest of the county favors Hutchison. The Eastside wasn't broken out, so we don't know who is favored in our neck of the woods, but we'd bet it's the region where the candidates are closest together. Hutchison undoubtedly has the rural and southeast.

Dow is doing well with Democrats and young voters but he is losing independents to Hutchison. That's a group with which he should try to make up ground.

Interestingly, he has a stronger lock on Democrats throughout King County than Hutchison has on Republicans, perhaps as a result of his wise choice to openly declare his party affiliation. (His ads say "Democrat").

Last year, the Washington Poll correctly forecasted victory for Barack Obama, a victory for Chris Gregoire, and victory on all three statewide ballot measures (I-985, I-1029, and I-1000). However, it did not accurately capture the level of support for Sound Transit Proposition 1, which the poll had losing, but which fortunately ended up passing by comfortable margins.

This year's poll also shows Joe Mallahan well ahead of Mike McGinn, but that's of less interest to us, since the critical races are King County Executive and the two ballot measures. What remains clear is this: A week out, we are positioned for a major victory, but we have to bring our voters home to make it happen. Now is no time to celebrate. Let's work hard for a big victory.

Monday, October 26, 2009

What if Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 was corporate policy?

It's no secret that Tim Eyman's latest scheme to wreck government and destabilize budgets (Initiative 1033) is a complicated mess that's difficult to understand. The initiative is marketed as a property tax cut, but in reality it doesn't cut property taxes... it redirects sales taxes and other revenue sources to cancel out the property tax for Washington's wealthiest citizens.

Initiative 1033's ballot title, crafted by people who work for Eyman's good friend Rob McKenna, the coauthor of one of his unconstitutional initiatives (I-747) doesn't say anything about I-1033 being a reverse Robin Hood wealth transfer. (Of course, if it did, people would vote against it en masse).

Even voters who take the trouble to read the text of Initiative 1033 won't find any useful information about the measure's devastating consequences.

So to help those who are trying to make more sense of Initiative 1033, we'd like to offer a fairly simple analogy that sums up what this scheme is.

We frequently hear Republicans (and some corporate Democrats) loudly proclaim that government should be run more like a business. We'd like to turn that misguided notion on its head here, and examine what would happen if Initiative 1033 (which is a proposed law) was actually a proposed corporate policy.

Imagine one day if you came into work and your employer announced that an outside consultant named Tim Eyman, the hotshot principal at the well known firm of Dunmire Strategies, had completed an evaluation of the company and its business practices. Mr. Eyman's findings are sitting in a report on your desk.

The report argues that lately the company has been foolishly investing too much money into its own future, and that the company should institute a policy stipulating that in the years to come, it can't spend a penny more of its revenues beyond what was spent in the current year. Not profit... revenue.

So as a consequence, company investment in research and development, expansion, the launch of new products, marketing, employee training... all of that and more would be frozen in place at current levels. Permanently.

A small but insignificant adjustment would be allowed for inflation periodically, but that's it. Any revenue that the company brings in beyond what came in the previous year will instead be set aside to be distributed as bonuses.

It does not matter that the company's expenses are certain to rise over time because Mr. Eyman is convinced the company is wasteful and bloated. However, his report does not identify any waste or specify what cuts the company should make.

When asked about this, Mr. Eyman says that middle managers must be responsible for making sure the company "lives within its means" under the new policy he has come up with. If necessary, the company can cut costs by "downsizing".

The Chief Financial Officer (CFO) has estimated that adopting Mr. Eyman's plan will cost the company and its subsidiaries a massive amount of money over the next five years, enough to eventually cancel out all of the revenue generated by the company's most loyal and reliable customers. Mr. Eyman says this analysis is flawed and should be discarded; however, many vocal managers disagree.

The report claims that everybody will get a nice bonus under the policy, but fellow workers who have been going to Mr. Eyman's meetings and critiquing his work have prepared a chart showing that in reality, the lion's share of the bonus fund would go to top executives. Longtime workers would get a pittance, enough to remind them that they're not very high up on the corporate food chain. Meanwhile, employees who are new to the company wouldn't get anything at all.

Given the resistance within the company to Mr. Eyman's plan, the chief executive officer has decided to conduct an anonymous straw poll to decide whether to adopt the report and its findings. You have one vote.

Will you vote Yes or No on whether to accept Mr. Eyman's proposal?

That is analogous to the choice that is before us now with Initiative 1033. We can choose greed by enacting Initiative 1033, or we can choose a sustainable future by rejecting Initiative 1033. Unfortunately, since I-1033 is a proposed law, the ramifications of the decision we make are much, much, much higher.

Every community and every workplace would be negatively affected by the passage of this thoughtless, backwards, me-first, jobs killing scheme that would help a small few at the expense of a great many. Initiative 1033 makes no sense as a business policy and it makes even less sense as public policy.

On November 3rd, let's protect our common wealth and secure the blessings of liberty for our posterity by voting NO on Initiative 1033.

GeoCities is closing after today... know of a GeoCities website we should save?

It's the end of an era. One of the world's oldest Internet neighborhoods will be virtually demolished at the end of the day today.

GeoCities, founded in the early 1990s and later acquired by Yahoo for over a billion dollars, will cease to exist within a matter of hours. All of the knowledge and data that is still sitting on Yahoo's servers as of this moment will be permanently erased and will become inacessible. Yahoo announced the closure back in June.

GeoCities is home to some of the world's oldest and most complete hobbyist and personal websites, many of which are no longer maintained by their owners, but still useful. Routinuely, when I do searches, I come across material on GeoCities websites. After today, links to GeoCities sites will no longer work.

The Internet Archive has been working to save as much of GeoCities as it can, but won't be able to grab it all.

We have a data retriever/crawler that can archive and backup entire websites, much like the Internet Archive. If you know of a GeoCities website that we should save, please let us know immediately, and we'll get to work on archiving it.

The site doesn't have to be related to politics. Tell us about anything with good content that you think is worth saving.

Another public service hit by the recession - Seattle public libraries

The poor economy has hit Washington’s city services hard, and Seattle’s public libraries could also feel the blow. The city of Seattle must cut $72 million dollars out of its budget in order to fix a large revenue shortfall, and its public libraries are one of the likely casualties.
Under the proposal, 21 out of 27 branches in the city would be closed Fridays (when all branches are now open) and Sundays (right now, 16 out of 27 branches are open).

On Wednesdays and Thursdays, these 21 branches would open an hour later (11 a.m.) and close 2 hours earlier — 6 p.m. instead of 8 p.m. On Saturdays, they would open an hour later, at 11 a.m., closing at 6 p.m. (the way they do now).
If you don't like these proposed cuts, you won't like Initiative 1033.

If passed, I-1033 - on your November 3 ballot - would make restoring these lost hours even harder, since it would freeze spending on public services like libraries at these reduced 2009 levels. Citizens might think that they will get their libraries back when the recession passes and the economy is back to normal, but in the reality of I-1033, 2009 would be the new normal.

Starting in 2010, I-1033 would only allow city budgets to grow larger than they were the previous year in proportion to inflation and population growth, which wouldn't provide the revenue necessary to catch up to the level of service the public received before the recession. Basically, will stay stuck in the recession.

Libraries have always been popular in a city that loves to read, but current high unemployment has made them an even hipper hangout. Across the state, libraries are seeing a big increase in usage since the onset of the recession. Attendance has increased more than usual and library Internet usage has skyrocketed.

When readers and job hunters can’t afford to shop at Barnes and Noble anymore, and they cancel their magazine and Internet subscriptions, libraries fill the void so that people can continue learning and job hunting. Our tax dollars support community services like libraries that make a world of books and information available to citizens that they could never afford to provide for themselves.

You have one last chance to tell the city council in person how these cuts would affect you at tonight’s city council meeting at 5:30 p.m. at the Seattle City Hall council chambers - 600 Fourth Ave., Floor 2. You can also contact the Seattle City Council by email.

Perhaps the biggest thing you could do to ensure that these proposed cuts don’t become permanent is to vote no on I-1033 and tell your friends to do the same thing.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Faith leaders urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's immoral Initiative 1033 (Part IV)

Editor's Note: Welcome to the fourth and final installment of a special series chronicling religious opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

On Wednesday morning, four leaders representing different faiths came together to urge the people of Washington State to reject Initiative 1033 because it is not in keeping with the values that our state and our nation were founded upon. Each installment in this series will feature a statement from one of the four faith leaders who spoke at the press conference.

We continue with Joyce Emery, Transitional Executive for the Synod of Alaska Northwest, Presbyterian Church. Her words on Wednesday morning were as follows.

As people of faith, we think that we have a moral obligation to care for people that are in need, those that maybe cannot fend for themselves. So we must speak for them. This afternoon, we want to speak for them as religious leaders.

So we're very happy we're here. Thank you for joining us. And as faith leaders, we want to express our opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

We believe that this will lock up the budget that we experience now in the State of Washington, and billions will be cut in regards to education and healthcare.

And 1033 guarantees more cuts that would be made in healthcare and education and social services. So we just cannot sit still, but must speak against this, because the gap between the rich and the poor would widen, and it would harm those that are vulnerable. We have about seventy five Presbyterian churches in this area, and I am so aware of their ministry and their communities, the food banks, the places where they're advocating for those that are in need.

And people are streaming into our churches in need. And we can't just [remain silent]. We have to stand up. And so that's why we're here today.

I'm also fascinated - I've only come to Washington two years ago, even though I grew up here - I'm so fascinated by this mentality of taking care of ourselves. You know, just me. Protect my taxes. Well, I pay property taxes, and I want to pay property taxes to help others. And so, that's not going to scare me.

As citizens, we must speak out [and vote NO on 1033].

Friday, October 23, 2009

Faith leaders urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's immoral Initiative 1033 (Part III)

Editor's Note: Welcome to the third installment of a special series chronicling religious opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

On Wednesday morning, four leaders representing different faiths came together to urge the people of Washington State to reject Initiative 1033 because it is not in keeping with the values that our state and our nation were founded upon. Each installment in this series will feature a statement from one of the four faith leaders who spoke at the press conference.

We continue with the Reverend Chris Boerger, a bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. His words on Wednesday morning were as follows.

We know that we're in the midst of a recession and economic issues are on everyone's agenda. We also know that the effect of 1033, while seeming to release people from tax obligations, will in fact afflict the community with fewer services and greater problems than we currently experience.

If we thought [the] last legislative session and what it did to healthcare, what it did to education, was in any way positive, we'll only see more of the same on a continual basis with 1033. And so, it's the responsibility of Christians and people of the faith community and frankly, any thinking citizen to stand up and say, This is not a rational approach to how to deal with the problems before us.

Specificially, 1033 would mandate and lock in the cuts to over thirty five thousand people in danger of not receiving healthcare. Those cuts have already taken place. But this would lock them in for the future and probably increase them in the future. Which again, will undermine public health, will undermine all of our health, not just those who are not receiving the healthcare that they so desperately need.

Secondly, it would also affect those in nursing homes. In my synod, which is essentially eastern Puget Sound, we have five nursing homes owned by the church. These nursing homes are able to make it because of the support of the church and the support of the state. If the state were to take away the support they're currently receiving, the church could not fill in the gap. And senior citizens currently receiving that care would be threatened in terms of their health and their life.

[This] would not reflect the kind of community we want to be.

[To help] the homeless and those in need, the church has stepped up through the Compass Center, through the Lutheran Alliance to create housing, and while these are church organized organizations, they also depend heavily upon on the state to contribute its part.

If 1033 were to pass, the state's part of these important social ministry organizations of the church and of the community would disappear and issues of homelessness and transitional housing would now again appear regularly on our streets and we would once again be making headlines on what the homeless are doing on our streets. So 1033 makes no sense.

It rewards those who are significantly [wealthy] property holders with significant reduction in taxes. For most of us, for me, it would be a miniscule amount, and in the end, the problems that it would create would only increase the burdens of the church and the burdens of [our] society.

We cannot, for the sake of a few people whose greed has gotten in the way, decide to make public policy on the basis of greed. We need to make public policy on the basis of what would best serve the public, and 1033 does not do that.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Congratulations to Microsoft on the launch of Windows 7, Vista's successor

Congratulations are in order today to one of our region's biggest employers.

Microsoft (which, like NPI, calls Redmond home) today released the next version of its Windows operating system, which dominates the desktop market worldwide. Its simple name, Windows 7, is symbolic of all the work Microsoft invested into fixing the previous version's flaws and bugs.

7 is really a polished version of Vista; in fact, upgrading from Vista is supposed to be fairly seamless. Many reviewers have called Windows 7 the operating system that Vista should have been. Some new features include:
  • HomeGroup, which simplifies home networking by finally making setup user-friendly. (The catch is, all the networked PCs have to be using Windows 7 for HomeGroup to work).
  • Performance upgades. 7 is faster, smoother, and more reliable than Vista. It doesn't get bogged down as easily. And it runs on the same hardware that Vista runs on. (At least, it's supposed to.)
  • Less intrusive User Account Control. Vista users have grown to resent constant nagging dialogue boxes asking for permission when some application needs to modify the operating system. User Account Control is an important security feature, but in Windows 7, it gets in the way less.
  • Revamped Taskbar. The new Windows 7 taskbar is somewhat similiar to the Mac's Dock, showing just icons for applications.
  • New versions of Paint and Calculator. These two basic applications haven't been improved in many years, but they get a makeover in Windows 7. Paint includes a ribbon like Microsoft Office, and Calculator has been beefed up to make solving common equations easier.
  • New tools in the Control Panel. Adjusting Windows for user comfort is much easier in 7 with controls like the ClearType Text Tuner built in, Display Color Calibration Wizard, and Location and Other Sensors.
Still, of course, Windows remains proprietary, and that is its biggest drawback. Unlike upgrading a GNU/Linux distribution, which is not as complicated, upgrading to a new version of Windows requires purchasing a license.

(The End User License Agreement that comes with Windows basically stipulates that users are renting the software from Microsoft, and do not enjoy the freedom to take apart the operating system and tinker with it.)

And Windows 7 does not solve the compatability problems that have been created by hardware vendors' refusal to update drivers for perfectly good peripherals.

Case in point: My HP OfficeJet, a nifty little printer that is now five years old, simply won't work properly with Windows anymore (even XP!) because HP has not bothered to update its proprietary drivers. But it will print and scan with no trouble when hooked up to a system running Ubuntu.

The beauty of GNU/Linux is that it doesn't force every piece of hardware in an office to need replacing after a few years.

Peripherals just work, whether they be keyboards, pointing devices, webcams, digital cameras, printers, or audio players. No installers or wizards needed. And users don't have to wait for a "Installing Device Drivers" message to go away.

Still, as far as proprietary software goes, Windows 7 is a definite improvement over Vista, and Microsoft deserves credit for listening to users who had a bad experience with Vista. If you want to rent Windows 7 from Microsoft, you should be aware that it comes in several "flavors". I strongly advise the "Ultimate" edition because it contains the most features. If you already rent Windows, you can save nearly a hundred bucks when upgrading.

Susan Hutchison draws her "nonpartisan" cloak tightly around her

Susan Hutchison wants to be the next King County executive, but she doesn’t want King County voters to know who she is.

And in a largely Democratic county (70% voted for Obama in 2008), her charade could mean that some voters will assume her “nonpartisan” label means that she has never favored any political party.

You don't have to look too hard to see that her actions give her away.

Donations speak louder than words. While Hutchison has never donated a cent to a Democratic candidate, she has given oodles of cash to conservatives like the Bush-Cheney duo, extreme Christian conservative Mike Huckabee and ChangePAC, the political arm of the anti-conservation organization the Building Industry Association of Washington. That’s putting your money where your values are.

When asked this summer in an interview whether she is a Republican, she replied:
You know, it's interesting how this issue keeps raising its head because this is a nonpartisan race, and I'm running because I'm a nonpartisan. I've never affiliated with a party; you know we don't register (to vote by party) in this state.
She has more than "affiliated" with the Republican party, she has considered running for national office as one of its members. In typical "nonpartisan" fashion, Hutchinson fervently courted state Republican leaders in 2005 and 2006 while drumming up interest in a possible run as a Republican candidate for the Senate. She also championed the work of the anti-transit, conservative think tank, the Washington Policy Center last year.

It looks like Hutchison finds the nonpartisan label convenient to hide herself and her involvement with the Republican party behind, and with Election Day around the corner, she has less than two weeks to keep up the charade. Democratic voters should let her know her that we don’t play that game.

Just yesterday, Hutchison further avoided defining herself to voters when she compared the work of the King County executive to that of a dentist as reported by the Seattle Times:
These litmus-test issues need to be put aside, just as we don't ask our dentist their political views before they work on our teeth.
I think I would ask my dentist a lot of questions if she oversaw my local jails and sheriffs, health and environmental services and public transit. Wouldn’t you?

Faith leaders urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's immoral Initiative 1033 (Part II)

Editor's Note: Welcome to the second installment of a special series chronicling religious opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

On Wednesday morning, four leaders representing different faiths came together to urge the people of Washington State to reject Initiative 1033 because it is not in keeping with the values that our state and our nation were founded upon. Each installment in this series will feature a statement from one of the four faith leaders who spoke at the press conference.

We continue with Rabbi Janine Schloss, of the Washington Coalition of Rabbis. Her words on Wednesday morning were as follows.

I was in elementary school in 1978 when Proposition 13 was passed in California. And I remember all of the programs and supplies and activities that were immediately taken away from our school. It was obvious to me as a child in sixth grade how devastating Prop. 13 was... and how much clearer it has become as we watch California today slide into financial disaster.

In every case, from the Hancock Amendment in Missouri in 1980, to the TABOR law in Colorado [in '92], in the Michigan Headley Amendment in '78. Each of these tax-expenditure limiting laws has wreaked havoc on the financial abilities of these states to provide for their citizens.

Especially in this time of deep recession, many analysts believe that the states who specifically have these [rules], like the ones proposed in 1033... These states are financially crushed and have been crushed specifically because they have these laws.

For my first pulpit, I lived in Missouri for twelve years, and even Missourians, who are known to be very "fiscally conservative", voted down an amendment, Hancock II, in 1994, which would have strengthened the original Hancock Amendment. And that, to me, was quite significant, that it was a clear and resounding defeat of that plan.

So why does this matter to me as a rabbi and an educator in our community?

Hillel wrote in the first century, before the Common Era, If I am not for myself, who will be for me? So this seems to be the theory, I think, behind 1033. Perhaps it will make my personal financial situation better, we might think. But, Hillel goes on to say, If I am only for myself, what am I? And if not now, when?

We cannot help ourselves at the expense of others. It's unethical and it's contrary to all that Judaism teaches about how to care for our broken world.

When I teach my students, I always ask them: Who could potentially be hurt by this rule or this law if it were to be passed? So I ask you today: Who would be potentially hurt by 1033?

The poor, the sick, the elderly, children, the homeless... those with the fewest resources to advocate for themselves.

But truly, every one of us will be hurt, because 1033 follows the pattern of these previous laws, like Prop. 13, [and] this is what happens:
  • Permanent damage to our healthcare systems (especially our healthcare system for children and for the mentally ill);
  • Permanent damage to services for the elderly;
  • Permanent damage to services for homeless;
  • Permanent damage to roads and highways and all of the infrastructure that helps our economy, permanent damage to libraries;
  • Permanent damage to public safety organizations;
  • And, the issue that's closest to my heart: irreparable and permanent damage to the educational system and the schools of our state.
These [cuts] will hurt children from early childhood education programs all the way up through colleges and universities.

This is simply not right.

Judaism teaches us to speak up and it requires us to live our lives according to the highest values. And so, as someone who takes my faith seriously, I cannot vote for Initiative 1033. Because I will not be responsible for hurting let alone myself, but for hurting more importantly, my neighbors, my community, and all those who share the blessing of living in the State of Washington.

My faith tells me to vote NO on 1033 and I hope yours does too.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Concern over harmful consequences of Initiative 1033 continues to mount

The steady drumbeat of opposition to Initiative 1033 that finally began a noticeable rhythm earlier this month continues to get louder.

In a thoughtful and assessive column published this morning, Seattle Post-Intelligencer columnist Joel Connelly once again takes us to another corner of the state, specifically Southwest Washington, where civic leaders in Longview and Kelso fear the disastrous impact that Tim Eyman's latest anti-government scheme would have on their ability to provide public services.
Jo Brewer, a retired businesswoman, chairs the Longview Housing Authority and runs the local domestic housing shelter.

She cites figures on how much the county would have lost had I-1033 been effective the last five years ($17.3 million) and how much the city of Longview would be short ($5 million).

What really worries Brewer, however, is how Cowlitz County can pull itself out of the drink if public services can't stay above water.

"We would like to offer quality of life, to say that not only is this area beautiful but it is a nice place to live," she said. "If you cannot offer that to businesses, things just spiral downward.
Meanwhile, up in Puget Sound, the King County Police Chiefs Association has released a statement outlining the harm Initiative 1033 would cause to public safety if it passes next month:
The financial analysis of Initiative 1033 presents the real possibility that police protection could be significantly impacted as cities and counties address significant cuts in the funds to provide basic services. We are already seeing a reduction in police officer hiring. The Washington Criminal Justice Training Center has had a 30% reduction in enrollment this year at the academy.

82% of the cities in King County have a population of fewer than 50,000. It is likely that they will be hit the hardest as these cities must carefully manage precious financial resources to provide all of the needed services.
Police protection has been deeply hurt in Colorado because of that state's Initiative 1033, enacted many years ago. The results are pretty ugly:
The Sheriff's Office [in El Paso County, which encompasses Colorado Springs] has the same number of patrol deputies it had in 1998, when there were 70,000 fewer residents. In some parts of the county, it takes deputies 22 minutes — more than double the ideal time — to arrive when someone calls 911.
When gas prices peaked last summer, Sheriff Terry Maketa ordered patrol cars parked. Deputies stopped cruising and instead waited for calls to come in. DUI arrests plummeted.
Yikes! But that's not all...
The coroner's office, where space is so cramped that human-tissue samples are stored in a garage behind the main building, has only four investigators. Two of them have to be on duty at all times.

This is just a taste of what our future will look like if we don't stop Tim Eyman's scheme. Years from now, we will not recognize Washington if I-1033 passes and goes into effect. It won't be the beautiful place that we know and love. It will be a dysfunctional failure that people in other states hear of and shake their heads about, like California and Colorado are today.

I-1033 is a recipe for death by a thousand cuts.

Governor Chris Gregoire hit the nail on the head when she wondered in disbelief a few weeks ago how anyone could think that services won't be hurt as a result of Initiative 1033. Sadly, Tim Eyman and his followers have proved that there are people out there who believe there's a free lunch waiting for them.

They, however, do not speak for the majority of Washingtonians.

The only way Eyman and his cohorts can win is if fifty plus one of the people that turn out to vote haven't heard about the consequences of Initiative 1033. There's a danger that could happen. Eyman has a great ballot title, handcrafted by Attorney General Rob McKenna's office. The ballot title says nothing about the tremendous harm I-1033 would inflict.

Only by getting the word out can we defeat ignorance and save our state from certain ruin. That means signing up to phonebank, volunteering to canvass this weekend, talking to neighbors, and of course, voting NO on Initiative 1033.

Faith leaders urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's immoral Initiative 1033 (Part I)

Editor's Note: Welcome to the first installment of a special series chronicling religious opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

This morning, four leaders representing different faiths came together to urge the people of Washington State to reject Initiative 1033 because it is not in keeping with the values that our state and our nation were founded upon.

Each installment in this series will feature a statement from one of the four faith leaders who spoke at the press conference.

We begin with the Right Reverend Greg Rickel, who leads the Episcopal Diocese of Olympia as its eighth bishop. His words this morning were as follows.

You can call me crazy, but I guess I am still crazy enough to believe we are only as strong as our weakest link.

It would be easy to think otherwise if you believed we are not in any way, connected to one another. 1033 is based in the latter notion, that we are not connected to one another and that it is, in fact, okay to leave behind a large segment of our society, believing we are able to sustain ourselves alone.

It is smoke and mirrors, designed to make people who are already suffering believe they will benefit, when in fact, they will not. Ultimately, no one will. 1033 is, at best, laziness on the part of leadership and social Darwinism at its worse.

While I am quite sure the proponents of 1033 would say otherwise, this decision is no less than the people of this state choosing what kind of community our children and grandchildren get to grow up in, and perhaps even more importantly just what kind of people we will be. There is simply no other way to look at this.

Under I-1033, our communities would have fewer parks and fewer teachers – and more people without jobs and health care.

We know that I-1033 would reduce the funds that support education in our state by $5.9 billion over the next five years. That means more crowded classrooms, fewer teachers and kids less able to succeed in the global economy.

That won’t help our children or our community.

This initiative would unjustly put the responsibility for taxes and cost of services on those who are least able to pay, in a state that already has a tax system with a structural deficit and is the most regressive in the nation.

As faithful citizens, it is our duty to promote the common good, not to create more wealth for those who already have more than they need.

This initiative could have been different, the entire work of lessening taxes could have been done more equitably and strategically.

That is the smokescreen in this initiative, that it is equitable, when it is really nothing more than welfare for the rich.

This could have been done more strategically, but that would require work, judgment, and leadership. I am praying for a lot more of all three right now.

I am, quite frankly, tired of hearing of the tax burden.

While I am all for accountability, efficiency, and good stewardship of those dollars, I consider my taxes to be an investment, and without that investment, in education, in public safety, in social services, in building our community and in our people, we will get what we deserve and no one, ultimately, no matter what their wealth now, will be better off. Even the very wealthy depend on the basic health and care of the masses. 1033 is a risky gamble on just how far that can be pushed.

In my meditation this morning I was given to read a homily by Gregory of Nyssa (c. 335-392) who wrote, "Never despise homeless people who are stretched out on the ground as if they merit no respect. Ask who they are and discover their worth... For God listens to them and their self-sacrifice, and what we squander cries out to God who fathoms the heart, in a voice clearer than the herald’s trumpet."

We live our faith publicly in response to our God who we believe desires a world that is equitable, fair and just. It is also a faith that believes we are called to be better than this initiative will make us. And we ask you to vote NO on I-1033.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Seattle City Councilmembers phonebank against Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

Two weeks.

That's all that's left between now and November 3rd, at 8 PM, when voting in the 2009 general election will come to a close.

The campaign to defeat Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is in full swing, with an aggressive field effort underway as I type.

I'm blogging live from the NO on Initiative 1033 phonebank in Seattle, where I'm surrounded by volunteers making calls to voters. Among those volunteers are a majority of the Seattle City Council: Jean Godden, Nick Licata, Richard Conlin, Sally Clark, Tim Burgess, and Bruce Harrell.

Nick Licata and Bruce Harell get ready to phonebank They're here because they recognize how important it is that we beat back Tim Eyman's most destructive initiative ever.

We can't afford to fail and we can't afford to procrastinate.

The time for mobilizing voters in opposition to I-1033 is now.

Most voters who answer the phone, field staff say, haven't heard about Initiative 1033, which just goes to show how long this measure has been sneakily flying under the radar. But once volunteers explain what the initiative is, and who's behind it, it doesn't take long for voters to decide that they're against the measure. That's really no surprise, because Initiative 1033 is an utterly unworkable idea from Colorado that Tim Eyman imported and extended to new depths.

Jean Godden phonebankingProblem is, we've only got two weeks to reach out to voters and let them know that this election will decide the future of Washington State.

More volunteers are needed to staff the phone banks. The campaign has already contacted tens of thousands of voters, but still needs to contact tens of thousands more.

Your participation is needed to keep the phonebanks going.

For many voters, getting a phone call about Initiative 1033 will make all the difference when the time comes to vote. That's why Seattle City Councilmembers are here tonight making calls.

To sign up to phonebank, just get in touch.

Richard Conlin phonebanks You don't have to travel to Seattle to make calls.

Phonebanks are also being run from Bellevue, Federal Way, Everett, Vancouver, Bellingham, and Spokane.

How many voters we are able to successfully reach out to is what will determine whether NO on I-1033 triumphs or comes up short on Election Night. Please get involved today and help get the word out before it's too late.

Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is so bad that even Oregonians are urging us to vote it down

The Daily Astorian, Clatsop County's newspaper of record, published a great editorial today urging Washingtonians to vote down I-1033:
Oregon's southern neighbor has become a textbook example of how not to operate state finances. Now our northern neighbor is wading into the same quicksand.

Washington state just went through the pain of filling a $9 billion budget deficit. The impacts still ripple through its classrooms, justice system and everything else paid for by taxes. School children, seniors, families protected by the Washington Basic Health plan have paid the price, along with other state citizens in every walk of life.
And now, we're voting on Tim Eyman's latest scheme, which masquerades as a solution to our woes, but in reality, just makes things worse.
Eyman, a professional initiative campaigner, has enjoyed considerable success pushing through similar proposals.

But the Evergreen state will have plenty of other troubles to sort out without tying its own hands. I-1033 is like a family trying to make a budget by arbitrarily limiting its own income. Better not get sick. The kids better not lose a coat. Better hope you don't come across an unexpected opportunity for an investment in the future.
Good analogy. No family would put together a budget under the absurd and unworkable scheme that Tim Eyman has come up with.

The Astorian concludes:
It may be tempting for Washington citizens to vote for I-1033 because it promises to keep more money in their own pockets. But this is no time to hamstring the efforts that must be made to keep schools strong and people healthy. What hope is there for a strong and lasting recovery if Washington locks itself into these stingy times?

Washington should say no to I-1033 and preserve all its options for the future
Well said. We would add that Initiative 1033 is not destructive by accident. Its sponsor, Tim Eyman, made it that way on purpose. Why? Because his objective is to wreck government so it can't work. He doesn't want to make government better or more effective. He just pays lip service to that idea.

Eyman and his cronies can bluster endlessly and deny their true aim all they want, but unfortunately, actions speak louder than words, no matter how many megaphones Tim happens to be wielding.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist David Horsey yesterday published a brilliant depiction of Eyman as a Medieval army general leading an attack on universities, colleges, and public schools, complete with an unindentified minion sniggering that Eyman-like schemes have already inflicted havoc on California and Colorado. The cartoon truly is a must-see.

Let's take the advice from our southerly neighbors down in Astoria and keep Washington State from turning into the Evergreen Chaos.

Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Monday, October 19, 2009

McGinn tones down anti-tunnel rhetoric

Funny how the signing of a Memorandum of Agreement can change things.

As readers of The NPI Advocate know, there's no bigger issue in the Seattle mayoral race than the deep bore tunnel, which Joe Mallahan supports and Mike McGinn ardently opposes. This afternoon, after saying repeatedly for months he'll do all he can to stop the tunnel from being constructed, McGinn changed his tune:
Today, the City Council authorized Mayor Greg Nickels to sign an intergovernmental agreement with the State of Washington committing Seattle to the tunnel plan.

I disagree with the decision. I disagree with the timing.

But the reality is Mayor Nickels and the Council have entered into an agreement, and the City is now committed to the tunnel plan.

If I'm elected Mayor, although I disagree with this decision, it will be my job to uphold and execute this agreement. It is not the Mayor's job to withhold the cooperation of city government in executing this agreement.
If the tunnel is a terrible idea, as McGinn has long claimed, then why should the approval of today's agreement change his vow to block the project?

Joe Mallahan thinks he knows the answer:
My opponent has spent the last eight months campaigning on one issue – stopping the tunnel and our economy from moving forward.

Now he’s changing his position because he’s seen the poll numbers and is fighting for his political life. My opponent has shown he is willing to say whatever voters want to hear. His flip-flopping clearly demonstrates that voters have a choice between a political opportunist or a principled leader and effective manager, like myself, to lead this city and our economy forward.
McGinn skillfully used opposition to the tunnel to vault through the primary just ahead of Greg Nickels, who was narrowly eliminated.

Now, however, McGinn is in the general election, and he has only one opponent: Joe Mallahan. Mallahan's support for the tunnel has earned him favor from a number of unions and business organizations (although the state's largest commercial union, UFCW Local 21, has endorsed McGinn).

Perhaps McGinn has finally started to realize that accomplishing his other objectives as mayor will be difficult, if not impossible, if he goes to war with the governor, the next King County Executive, and the Seattle City Council over the tunnel. (The governor has endorsed Mallahan, although neither Dow Constantine nor Susan Hutchison is taking sides in the contest.)

The consensus is that we've debated what to do with the Alaskan Way Viaduct for long enough, and it's simply time to move on getting the tunnel built. Mike McGinn may not like that consensus, but at least he's signaling he'll respect it.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Initiative 1033 would cripple our ability to invest in infrastructure, just like Initiative 601

A decade and a half ago, the people of Washington State narrowly approved an initiative that was the precursor to two of Tim Eyman's most recent ballot measures: the blatantly unconstitutional Initiative 960 (also narrowly approved, in 2007) and this year's Initiative 1033, which is far more destructive.

As 1033 will if passed, I-601 restricted the state's ability to make smart investments in the infrastructure and services that Washingtonians rely on for the quality of life we've come to expect from living here.

The result of 601's passage was that Washington's common wealth didn't reap the benefits it should have from the tech boom of the late 1990s. When times were good, 601 prevented us from taking advantage of it. We missed out on almost a decade's worth of investment in our schools, our transit system, police and fire protection, and a list of other critical infrastructure as long as your arm.

It took the near-tragic Nisqually earthquake of 2001 to make people wake up and say "Oh, wait, maybe we do need the state to put some money into safe bridges, retrofitting buildings, and emergency preparedness."

Even then, it wasn't until after Democrats finally gained a majority in the state Legislature in the 2004 elections that I-601 was finally suspended.

No doubt the crack the quake caused in the dome on top of the Legislative Building in Olympia helped them make that sensible decision.

Don't get me wrong: I'm glad Puget Sound's bridges didn't collapse, like Minnesota's I-35W bridge did in 2007. I'm glad the viaduct didn't collapse, like the Cypress Street Viaduct in California did during the Loma Prieta quake of 1989.

I just hope that the lesson we learned from the biggest regional earthquake in fifty years - that infrastructure matters - hasn't been forgotten a short eight years later. Never forget, we dodged a bullet there.

Yet, this year Tim Eyman is loading the gun and pointing it at our heads again with Initiative 1033. I-1033 is a mistake, like Initiative 601 was, except I-1033 is worse. It cripples the state's ability to make smart investments in essential services and infrastructure, but unlike I-601, it also applies to cities and counties as well. Ever the optimist, I hope that Washington State will see economic good times once again. But if it passes, like I-601 before it, I-1033 will make it impossible to reap any benefits from those good times.

If good times come again, I-1033 will prevent us from making improvements to our schools, our fire departments, mass transit, or anything else that has become badly out of date and in need of repair since 1993.

I-1033 will make sure the benefits of good times to come go straight into the pockets of the wealthy and corporations.

We have been calling I-1033 "Tim Eyman's jobs killer". Actually, that's too kind by half. Eyman's latest initiative is a community killer. It ought to be called "M-1033," because that's what it is. A Mistake, with a capital-M.

The irony is, it's a mistake we made once before. Let's be smart enough not to make the same mistake twice, okay? Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

President Obama endorses Referendum 71

Elected leaders from across Washington State aren't the only ones urging voters to Approve Referendum 71. So is the President of the United States:
“The President has long opposed divisive and discriminatory efforts to deny rights and benefits to same-sex couples, and as he said at the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he believes ‘strongly in stopping laws designed to take rights away.’ Also at the dinner, he said he supports, ‘ensuring that committed gay couples have the same rights and responsibilities afforded to any married couple in this country.’"
The White House's statement was made in response to a question from The Advocate (the nation's oldest continuously published LGBT magazine, not this blog, whose full name is the NPI Advocate).

The campaign to Approve Referendum 71 already enjoys wide support from progressive organizations, major businesses, and organized labor, as well as the Washington Association of Churches.

Opponents, led by Larry Stickney and Gary Randall, are asking voters to deny civil rights not only for gay and lesbian couples, but also heterosexual couples. Our state's domestic partnerships law, which will only take effect if Referendum 71 is approved, would extend hundreds of rights currently denied to couples who do not have or cannot obtain a marriage license. But Stickney, Randall, and their followers don't want to live in a state with equal rights for all.

They want discrimination to be legal. And that's just wrong.

Gary, Larry, and friends have been using Orwellian language that sounds progressive in their campaign. Their political action committee is called "Protect Marriage Washington" and their signs outrageously claim that Washington State should reject Referendum 71 to "Preserve Marriage, Protect Children."

Actually, passage of Referendum 71 would make families stronger, by granting the same rights to unmarried parents and guardians that married couples enjoy today. Children will benefit from the passage of Referendum 71.

Keeping our domestic partnerships law is a matter of fundamental fairness. That is why President Obama is urging all Washingtonians to Approve 71.

TimCity 2009: Coming soon to your community unless you vote NO on I-1033

Our good friend Steve Zemke has authored a rather brilliant tongue-in-cheek post over at MajorityRules Blog which beautifully explains how Initiative 1033's one-size-fits-all fiscal handcuffs for cities will make it impossible for citites to deliver the essential public services that citizens want and need:
Your goal as an elected official is to try to maintain a functioning city despite Tim's Rules, designed to limit your ability to provide public services.

Tim's Rules apply to all of Washington State's 281 cities. You can choose any one of these cities as your city to play the game because Tim's Rules are the same for all 281 cities. Eyman also is proposing these same rules for almost identical versions of this game to be called TimCounty 2009 (39 counties to choose from) and TimState 2009 (Washington is the only state that can be played).

Tim's Rules propose that you can run your city only with the amount of money in this year's recession-era budget. You cannot use any previous year's budget and invest more revenue into public services.
Doesn't sound like much fun, does it? You can read the rest of the instructions for TimCity 2009 over at MajorityRules Blog.

And remember, if you don't want Tim Eyman's Rules governing the city that you live in, then all you have to do is vote NO on Initiative 1033 and encourage all of your neighbors, family, and friends to do the same thing.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Time to vote NO on Tim Eyman's I-1033

The voting has begun.

Throughout the last few days, county elections officials across Washington State have been sending millions of ballots out on their way to voters' mailboxes.

Vote NO on Initiative 1033The very first thing that voters will see at the top of their ballots is Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 (unless you're in King County, then it's at the bottom of the first column).

Imported from Colorado, I-1033 is Eyman's scheme to freeze services at their current recession-era levels and then raid future revenue out of our public treasury, funneling money to rich property owners that would otherwise go directly to essential public services like schools.

Initiative 1033 is a cynical, reckless, and unfair wealth distribution scheme that has been explicitly designed to bankrupt our common wealth and widen the gap between the haves and the have-nots, in the haves' favor.

See... rich people like Eyman's donors Michael Dunmire (an investment banker) and Kemper Freeman, Jr. (who owns Bellevue Square) just aren't rich enough.

That's the whole premise of I-1033.

I-1033 makes them richer by giving them a tax cut so big that over time it would cancel out the state's schools levy. Renters, who don't own property, wouldn't see a dime, and most homeowners would get a measley pittance compared to the big payouts that the likes of Freeman Jr. would enjoy.

Meanwhile, public services that we all rely on in our daily lives would be eviscerated. Jobs would be lost, facilities shuttered, hours reduced, service cut back. We'd all lose out under this reverse Robin Hood style wealth transfer, which has been designed to cripple government so it can't work.

That's why even reasonable conservatives oppose Initiative 1033... because they don't want to live in a dysfunctional society that can't take care of itself.

The time has come for us to keep The Evergreen State from turning into the Evergreen Chaos. Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Civil rights groups must support Net Neutrality

Civil rights are fundamentally about protecting fairness, equality, and freedom for all people. Net neutrality is about protecting fairness, equality and freedom for all online data. From a values perspective, these two concepts are functionally equivalent.

Unfortunately, these shared values are not convincing enough for some civil rights organizations. The Broadband Opportunity Coalition consists of the National Urban League, the Asian American Justice Center, the League of United Latin American Citizens, the National Council of La Raza, and other groups that argue for fairness and equality every day.

Well, every day they're not talking about net neutrality. On their off days, they "question" the impact of net neutrality in letters to the FCC:
If the history of civil rights in America teaches us anything, it is that facially neutral laws and regulations are not always applied neutrally to the constituencies we represent. We certainly don’t want that to happen to Internet regulation too, and we’re very concerned that, despite your very best intentions, some aspects of net neutrality might not turn out to be neutral as applied to our constituencies.
They don't come out and say it, but this is setting the table for their rejection of fair content distribution online.

The truth is network neutrality is critical to ensuring equal access to the Internet, its content, and the empowerment that comes with that. Without network neutrality protection, ISPs and telecom companies will have free reign to discriminate against the distribution of content created by minority producers. This will make the Internet just like other mass media channels in which the authentic voices of people of color have been marginalized.

Fairness, equality, and freedom must be protected on and offline.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

LIVE from KCTS Studios: The first televised King County Executive debate

Democrat Dow Constantine squares off tonight against his "nonpartisan" opponent for King County executive, Susan Hutchison, in the race's first televised debate. The two candidates are in the final stretch of their battle for county’s top office, and ballots are already hitting mailboxes. Every minute and every debate counts.

The debate starts at 7 PM on KCTS 9, KUOW and KPLU, and is moderated by KCTS 9’s Enrique Cerna. The questions posed by journalists cover issues such as the $56 million budget deficit, transportation, growth and crime.

For the next hour, we'll be bringing you live coverage of the proceedings. Enrique Cerna is introducing the candidates and explaining the format now.

Here we go!

OPENING STATEMENTS: Dow came out swinging with a reminder to the audience that Hutchison has donated to Mike Huckabee and Dino Rossi and doesn't support a woman's right to choose. In her opening statement, Susan tried to turn the conversation to the budget and away from Dow's accomplishments.

WHY SERVE? There is a contrast between the candidate's motivations for running. Dow explained that he was raised locally to serve the community and has dedicated his life to solving problems through his work in the Legislature and County Council. Susan said that she was repeatedly asked to enter politics and felt like this was the time to jump in. In other words, Constantine's motivations come from within and Hutchison's come from without.

GREEN RIVER FLOODING: Susan said she is "very very concerned" that the county hasn't done emergency work to build up the levies to avert disaster. Dow said he is proud of our levy system and the cooperation between the entities working to shore up the levies. "We are doing everything possible at the state, federal and local level to avert this disaster," Constantine declared.

COUNTY JAIL TAKEOVER: Susan proposed Wednesday to transfer authority over the jail to Sheriff Sue Rahr. Dow wants a "data driven" decision based on costs and impacts on public safety, and noted that under his leadership he decreased the budget by over $3 million while increasing public safety.

DEALING WITH A REDUCED BUDGET: Susan picked on the County Council and said she would like to reduce its size as part of her generalized plan to cut waste. No specifics were offered. Dow said he wants wants employees to be a part of the solution so he cosponsored legislation providing protection to whistleblowers. He also observed that he immediately implemented a hiring freeze when he became County Council Chair.

PDC COMPLAINTS: Dow said he isn't concerned about the PDC complaints against himself but views Hutchison's eighty one possible infractions of campaign finance law as very serious. Susan said she considers them "gamesmanship" and defended her use of a home as a campaign office as atypical in campaigns. She danced around the real issue, which was that she has failed to report her use of it as required by public disclosure laws.

Hutchison claims not be tied to a party but supports "people like herself." That is not a description that I would feel comfortable with if I supported Dino Rossi and Mike Huckabee and had given money to the uber-conservative Building Industry Association of Washington, like Hutchison has.

Constantine assailed Hutchison for promoting the work of the Washington Policy Center. The WPC is a conservative think tank founded by John Carlson whose "scientific research" arm considers work to combat the climate crisis to be "hysteria" (because what does the scientific community know anyway?)

PUBLIC HEALTH: To better fund the public health system, Susan wants to put a levy proposal before voters. Dow pointed out the contradiction in her position. Hutchison is proposing to ask voters to raise taxes, while at the same time saying she doesn't support raising taxes. Instead, of raising taxes, Dow said he wants to work with the Legislature to get stable funding for the county. Dow is a believer in a progressive tax system that is less dependent on the sales tax.

Constantine made an effort to shake off Hutchison's derisive claim that he has presided over a "budget mess" with examples of the cost cutting and efficiencies he has implemented, such as a hiring freeze, performance measures and better accountability and transparency within county government.

CLOSING REMARKS: Dow reminded us that he is fighting groups that are suing to keep light rail from reaching the Eastside and will continue to protect the environment.

Susan tried to compare her experience balancing the Seattle Symphony budget with Constantine's background as a vice-chair of the Senate Ways and Means committee and as a part of the King County council for over seven years.

It is hard for her to cobble together a credible background that makes her qualified to be a leader of an organization the size of King County.

Watching her performances over time reveals her lack of new ideas and her repackaging of phrases from event to event. And of course we were treated to more than one anecdote featuring nameless county workers and bus drivers with non-specific details and unproven allegations of waste in government.

Dow created a strong contrast by his obvious fluency on King County issues and detailed examples of concrete accomplishments.

With increased media coverage of the race, voters should become more aware that Susan Hutchison leans heavily to the right and that by hiding behind a "nonpartisan nonpolitician" label, she obscures her true values.

Dow Constantine has been a Democrat from practically conception, so voters can be sure of what he believes and what he will fight for as Executive.

Stay tuned for live coverage of tonight's Constantine/Hutchison debate on KCTS

Just a quick reader alert: Beginning at 7 PM, NPI will begin bringing you live coverage of the first televised debate between King County Executive hopefuls Dow Constantine and Susan Hutchison, both here on The Advocate and also on In Brief.

The hourlong Vote 2009 debate, moderated by Enrique Cerna and broadcast from KCTS' studios in Seattle Center, is cosponsored by The Seattle Times, KUOW Radio, and CityClub, and made possible by Countywide Community Forums, The Floyd and Delores Jones Foundation, and KCTS viewers.

BREAKING: Tim Eyman opposes Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

No, seriously... that's the only conclusion we can draw from this photograph, which was emailed to NPI and appears to have been taken today at Everett Community College’s Aviation Maintenance and Technical School at Paine Field.

See for yourself. Isn't it evident which side Eyman is on?

Even Tim Eyman Opposes Initiative 1033

The college was the site of a press conference held by Governor Chris Gregoire, which Eyman - as is his custom - reportedly crashed.

As least, that is what we are told.

We have no idea how anybody could convince Tim to put on a NO on I-1033 sticker and hold a NO on I-1033 yard sign, but real or fake, this photo is a classic.

UPDATE: Just so everyone knows... the photo you see above is in fact real, and was not whipped up by opponents in Photoshop for fun.

The prank was executed by Eyman himself in the flesh. I wasn't there and didn't see it myself, but I've seen and heard eyewitness reports.

The story is this: It seems that ever since we broke the news that Chris Gregoire appeared at the Washington Conservation Voters' annual Breakfast of Champions to deliver an impassioned plea to activists to defeat Initiative 1033, Eyman has been itching to have a debate with the governor in person.

So he showed up at Gregoire's press conference to ask her. Since he knew he wouldn't be amongst a friendly crowd, he took along a NO on I-1033 yard sign as personal protection, and added a NO on I-1033 sticker just to be extra safe.

He managed to catch the governor's attention after the press conference. She did a double take, but then declined to participate in a debate with him at Edmonds Community College. Smart move... I've debated Eyman several times, and it's like arguing with a robot that's been programmed to say things.

There's really no point to such a conversation.

So that's the story. Bizarre, but true. (I swear I'm not making this up. Honest. You can read about it in the Puget Sound Business Journal, folks! And here's another photo showing Eyman holding the NO on I-1033 sign from a different angle.)

Even Tim Eyman Opposes Initiative 1033

Governor Gregoire supports Joe Mallahan for Mayor, Dow Constantine for Executive

This morning, the Mallahan campaign announced in a press release that Joe has secured the endorsement of Governor Chris Gregoire for Mayor of Seattle.

Said the governor:
Seattle’s next mayor needs to be someone who understands that rebuilding Seattle’s economy and creating family wage jobs must be the top priority of their administration. To do that, the mayor must be someone with proven experience and a willingness to work closely with Seattle’s diverse citizens, businesses, unions and state and local elected officials. The candidate in this race who has those qualifications is Joe Mallahan.
Said Mallahan:
I am deeply honored to have the Governor’s endorsement. Governor Gregoire is right – voters have a clear choice in this race. We have an opportunity to move forward together to strengthen our economy, create new jobs, improve our transportation system and create safe neighborhoods. I will work effectively with the Governor to create jobs, make sure our transportation projects are built on time and on budget, and ensure Seattle city services work for all of us.
Considering McGinn's opposition to the deep bore tunnel that will replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Gregoire's choice must have been easy. The problem of replacing the viaduct is not something the governor wants to revisit, after years of bickering were put to rest with the decision to build a tunnel.

Mike McGinn, Mallahan's opponent, has essentially promised to reignite the fighting by doing everything he can to stop the tunnel from being constructed.

Also today, the governor sent out a fundraising email on behalf of Dow Constantine, urging her supporters to give to Constantine's campaign:
Let me put it plainly: it matters who runs King County and right now this race could go either way.

The next King County Executive needs to share our progressive values and have the experience to steer the county through difficult financial times.

That is why I am supporting Dow Constantine for King County Executive.

Dow is the right choice, but first he has to get through a tough election and he needs our help.

The contrast between Dow and Susan Hutchison, his opponent, is a stark one. Dow is a proven reformer with the experience and record to change county government. He has successfully taken on the county’s bureaucracy, passed a countywide hiring freeze and slashed administrative costs. He has also introduced a detailed budget plan, which will balance the budget, protect core services and not raise taxes.

His opponent has declined to discuss what she would do as Executive and will not answer simple but critical questions.

Dow is pro-choice. She refuses to answer. Dow has clear plan to reform county government. She declines to discuss what she’d do as County Executive. Dow is a proud Democrat. She refuses to state her political affiliation.

His opponent won’t answer these simple questions but the record is clear on these issues. She has even given thousands of dollars to right wing causes and Republican candidates like George W. Bush and Dino Rossi.
The governor might have also mentioned that Hutchison considered running against Maria Cantwell in 2006 as a Republican. (She wisely passed on that race and allowed Mike McGavick to get taken to the cleaner's instead.)

Eyman too busy to answer questions for The Stranger's readers, not too busy to comment on his lack of availability

Saw this yesterday, and wanted to mention it because it's pretty funny:
At 1:00 p.m., the "No On 1033" campaign will answer your questions in Electionland about Tim Eyman's latest attempt to @#$% over the state. You'd think Eyman would relish this chance to talk directly to you, the beleaguered taxpayers of Washington, without us liberal clowns here at The Stranger in the way. But no.

Eyman won't do it (even though he reads Slog and routinely comments on posts about his cadaver of work).
Eyman responded in the comment thread by cutting and pasting the text of an email conversation from a month ago between him and Dominic Holden.
From: Dominic Holden
Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2009 4:28 PM
To: Tim Eyman
Subject: Re: The Stranger's Electionland Online Town Hall

Thank, Tim. Sorry, didn't mean to pester you. I know you're busy.

I'll be in touch as stories come up.

Dominic Holden,
Reporter, The Stranger

On Sep 15, 2009, at 2:07 PM, Tim Eyman wrote:

you've been calling repeatedly asking for my commitment and I've responded each time that I don't know my schedule this far out.

So let me resolve it now: I can't do as many of these media things this year as I used to anyway and so I won't be able to participate in any of the Stranger's election events, ed board meetings, etc.

If you decide to do another story on I-1033 and want to hear our side, feel free to call me.


Regards, Tim Eyman
Translation: Apparently as far as Tim Eyman is concerned, not all publicity is good publicity anymore. Eyman used to hate on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Neil Modie (who broke the story about Eyman's big lie), but Modie has retired, although on occasion he still freelances for the P-I.

The Stranger has apparently taken on Modie's role.

It sure makes sense that Eyman was too busy to participate in the Q&A but not too busy to explain why he wasn't participating in the Q&A:
UPDATE: Tim Eyman has left a comment on this post. It's an old email exchange we had—in which Eyman says he's too busy to answer your questions—but he isn't too busy to dig through his old emails and comment on blog posts.
You know, Tim, you could really clear up your schedule by calling it quits and shutting down your initiative factory.

Your fellow citizens won't mind... honest. In fact, there are undoubtedly Washingtonians who would gladly donate to your personal compensation fund if it would mean you would permanently stop sponsoring destructive initiatives.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Thanks, Danny Westneat, for helping us reveal the ugly truth about Tim Eyman's I-1033

For the past few weeks and months, NPI and our good friend Steve Zemke over at MajorityRules have been trying to focus some attention on what we've been calling the most unfair aspect of Initiative 1033: its reverse Robin Hood wealth distribution fund, which takes the siphoned sales taxes that I-1033 prevents from being invested in essential services (thereby freezing services) and redirecting them to pay for a special property tax cut for the rich.

To date, we haven't had much luck getting the traditional press to tell the story, (although the Seattle Times editorialized a bit on it last week) but today, Danny Westneat has heroically come through with a fantastic column, one of his finest efforts ever, entitled, I-1033 a windfall for the rich.

Westneat not only takes the trouble to explain to Seattle Times readers how I-1033 eventually cancels out the state's school levy by redirecting sales taxes to pay rich people's property taxes, he provides dollar figures:
  • [I-1033 would] eventually give the richest man in the world, Bill Gates, up to a $571,000 break on the $1 million in annual property taxes he pays on his Medina mansion.
  • Slash the taxes on billionaire Paul Allen's waterfront home, on Mercer Island, by up to $150,000.
  • Over time eliminate $1.7 million of the annual property taxes that Bellevue mogul Kemper Freeman pays on just one of his malls, Bellevue Square.
That's due to a growing sense among tax experts that Eyman's measure, if approved in November and then left as is by courts and lawmakers, would over time drive the state's property tax and many county and city property taxes all the way down to zero.

Yep, zero. As in: Property tax for those entities, over the next decade or so, would cease to exist.
Westneat later explains that he obtained tax records for local "gazillionaires" from the King County Treasurer (which are itemized by level of government) to discern just how much of a special tax cut Initiative 1033 would give them.
Gates, for his 50,000-square-foot, $150 million mansion, is paying $294,000 into the state's school fund this year. He pays $165,000 to King County and $112,000 to the city of Medina. All or most of that would eventually stay in his pockets if I-1033 were enacted.

That's a nearly 60 percent property-tax cut for Gates. Same for Allen. For Freeman's Bellevue Square Mall, the estimated tax break is $1.7 million, annually. This doesn't include his Bellevue Place or Lincoln Square malls across the street, because I got weary adding up the enormous net worth of his shopping boutiques.
Westneat calls Tim Eyman's wealth redistribution fund "the rotten core" of Initiative 1033, which is precisely how we've been talking about it. He writes:
Forget all the caterwauling about spending cuts. At its heart this is a massive giveaway to the rich that does little to nothing for the poor.

To their credit, both Gates and Allen appear to know this. They are trying to defeat Eyman's initiative (Gates with a $100,000 donation, Allen through his company, Vulcan.) Even though it would mean huge tax windfalls to them if it passes.

I have a feeling it's because they actually believe that quote Gates repeats so much: "To whom much is given, much is expected."
Gates' father, it should be noted, served as the chair of the Washington State Tax Structure Study back in 2002. The study concluded that Washington's tax structure was incredibly regressive and in dire need of reform.

And as for that other guy:
Kemper Freeman? Not so much. He gave Eyman $25,000 for this, Eyman's 16th stab at an initiative. As near as I can tell, it's the one of all Eyman's schemes that benefits rich land owners like Freeman the most.

Twenty-five grand for a shot at $1.7 million a year. You gotta hand it to Freeman — if this passes, that's one helluva return on his investment.
Couldn't have said it better ourselves.

Big, big props to Danny Westneat for writing this column. We at NPI were so overjoyed by this column that we felt like shouting Hallelujah from the rooftops this morning. It was an immensely gratifying to open the paper this morning and read that column. The truth needs to be told: Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 is not just dangerous; it's dangerously unfair. It would cancel out our state's schools levy and leave us on dependent on the sales tax to fund what's left of our essential public services after they've been eviscerated.

That's not, as Governor Gregoire has said, the future we want for Washington State. Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Senator Murray, Secretary Sebelius to hold live chat on healthcare reform

A quick heads up for readers: This afternoon our own Senator Patty Murray and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius will be holding an online chat on healthcare reform. They'll answer questions submitted by Washingtonians in real time through Facebook, the world's largest social network.

Murray's office says she has received more than seven thousand stories and questions submitted through the healthcare reform website set up by her office earlier this year, and plans to share "some of the most common concerns of Washington state families and small business owners" with Secretary Sebelius.

The chat begins at 12:45 PM Pacific Time. Readers can ask questions by visiting the White House's application on Facebook. Video will be simultaneously streamed through

This is a great opportunity to interact with Senator Murray... we encourage readers to sign on and submit questions about healthcare reform.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Stay safe while lowering that carbon footprint: Wear a bicycle helmet!

One of the most important policy directions that progressive believe in is reducing emissions to combat the climate crisis. For example, we can reduce our own carbon output by carpooling, which reduces single-rider trips (twice on a round trip). Or we can take the bus, which saves money in addition to reducing emissions.

Those solutions, while laudable, still leave a carbon footprint from the internal combustion engines they use. Walking is not an option for the overwhelming majority of us who have to travel longer distances.

So what does that leave? One of the greenest solutions, and one of the most practical, is the bicycle. Bicycling does not result in exhaust fumes, consumes only human calories, and provides an excellent cardiovascular workout.

Sturdy commuter bikes can be purchased for $300 and up, depending on one's budget. Serious racers, of course, spend upwards of $10,000 without a second thought. But most people don't need expensive racing bikes.

A good, heavy duty bike frame can last as long as twenty years, And depending on the quality of the components, they can be ridden for thousands of miles.

What about accessories? The most important accessory really isn't an accessory at all; it's as essential as shoes or pants: A helmet.

Compared to their safety value, bicycle helmets are a steal. Good deals can be had at bicycle clubs for $10 and up.

Helmets are important because they can prevent serious injuries or death. I know from experience... recent experience.

A few days ago I experienced a nasty bicycle crash. The bike was fine, my body was knocked around a bit (broken ribs, fractured clavicle, wounded pride.) I hit the ground and skidded for about 5-8 feet.

I was fortunate to be wearing a helmet.

The cost of my helmet (a high-end helmet for serious riding, but with the same safety rating as less expensive models) was about $45.

The value of seeing my family again is priceless.

The moral of the story: Don't ride without a helmet. Your head is worth more than the price of a helmet. Buy one and protect yourself.

Opposition to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 just keeps getting stronger

For those of us who've been in the trenches battling Tim Eyman and his lies for several seasons this year, the past few days have seemed like a whirlwind.

For months, a massive, unprecedented coalition has been coming together to beat back Tim Eyman's most dangerous, destructive initiative ever. Now, the coalition's message is finally entering the public consciousness, and the traditional press has finally demonstrated it's paying attention to what's going on.

Take Lynne Varner's most excellent column in today's Seattle Times, entitled, Initiative 1033 would cut into already lean budgets. It's a beauty.

The opening elicits a few chuckles:
How have I lived and worked in the Puget Sound region for more than a decade without meeting Tim Eyman? Carefully, I would say, but that joke is as tired as Eyman's faux-populist rhetoric.

I finally met the E-man a few weeks ago when he came to The Seattle Times to peddle — oops meant push — his latest budget-wrecking effort, Initiative 1033.
Nice description of Eyman and his scheme. Selling stuff - whether it's cheap wristwatches or failed, harmful schemes imported from other states - is definitely his specialty. Tim Eyman has an incredible gift for deception, and he's one of the best sound bite masters of all time.
He is selling a version of snake oil. I-1033 will decrease future public spending but the reality is the state should spend more in the future to make up for the draconian cuts made in the recession. It isn't smart policy to put schools on the budget chopping block at the same time they're being pushed to improve. Many of the people who've lost their jobs in the current recession are flocking to community colleges to get retrained for new jobs. Yet, just as higher education was cut substantially to make up for recent state budget deficits in the past, it would be so again if Eyman gets his way.
Precisely, which is why Initiative 1033 simply makes no sense.

Then, excerpting briefly from our transcript of Governor Chris Gregoire's speech against I-1033 from last Thursday, Varner adds:
"The proponent of 1033 says there will be no cut in services. I just don't get how you can suggest that," Gov. Chris Gregoire says.

I agree. If I-1033 passes, the state Office of Financial Management predicts a $5.9 billion budget hole over six years. There is no way that education, human services, criminal justice and natural resources will not suffer as a result.
In short, this is by far the best column about I-1033 we've seen from the state's editorial writers, and it's definitely worth a read.

In another sign that opposition to I-1033 continues to flourish, two more daily newspapers joined the NO camp over the weekend: The Spokane Spokesman-Review and the Yakima Herald-Republic. The Spokesman has the stronger editorial of the two. The Herald-Republic's editorial board, like The Olympian's and the Tri-City Herald's, was mainly swayed by the devastating impact I-1033 would have on cities and counties, which illustrates how much Washingtonians value home rule.

Cities have also been working to calculate just how devastating Initiative 1033 would be at the local level. The City of Vancouver is estimating that I-1033 would rob $22.2 million out of the treasury by 2015. Vancouver's mayor characterizes the consequences as devastating, saying, "[Q]uite honestly, this is self-destructive at a time when we need all the revenue we have to deliver services. How we will come up with the revenue, I have no idea."

The City of Longview, meanwhile, made its opposition to I-1033 official last Thursday; the City of Bellingham followed suit earlier tonight when its city council unanimously adopted a resolution opposing Eyman's jobs-killing scheme.

Finally, on Facebook, the number of people opposed to Initiative 1033 continues to snowball, with hundreds joining the cause every day. If you're not a fan of NO on I-1033 yet, sign in to Facebook and make your voice heard. Help us send a message to all our fellow citizens to vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Tim Eyman is out of touch with reality

Tim Eyman has it wrong. In today’s Seattle Times he tries to justify his jobs-killing initiative I-1033 by saying:
It's a tug of war where the other side is always going to be pulling the rope in favor of higher taxes. There needs to be a counterweight to that.
If that is truly the case, let's remember what Washington did last winter, when during the worst economic crisis in over seventy years the state budget lost around nine billion dollars. Even with a Democratic governor and a Democratically-controlled legislature, the state did not raise taxes. Instead it allowed teachers and school librarians to be cut, it hiked college tuition to the sky, released lawbreakers early from prison, and eliminated 40,000 low-income people from the state health plan.

If there was ever a time to raise taxes and maintain a sound quality of life in our state, then this was that time.

But no taxes were raised. It seems that Washington's elected officials are not the spendthrifts that Eyman’s I-1033 is trying to protect us against.

And while the state’s all-cuts budget irritated progressives, it should have made far right-extremists like Tim Eyman happy. But it didn’t.

Let's get real. Eyman doesn’t honestly care what the state's actual fiscal situation is, he just wants to continue in his mission to be Washington’s highest paid initiative profiteer. For the record, from the Times:
Tim Eyman was asked recently if he could imagine a time when he wouldn't feel the need to file another anti-tax initiative. Eyman, in essence, said no.
And Eyman told the Seattle P-I in 2002:
The fact is, it is true that I made money in past campaigns and planned to make money on future campaigns.

I want to continue to advocate issues and I want to make a lot of money doing it.
The effects on the state be damned.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Mainstream Republicans of Washington oppose Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

On Thursday, Daniel authored a great post about conservative opposition to Tim Eyman's jobs-killing Initiative 1033. A reader who saw that post wrote in to remind us that the Mainstream Republicans have also taken a position against the measure. The Mainstream Republicans are a group of biconceptuals who associate with the Republican Party. (A biconceptual is a person whose views are comprised of a mix of progressive and conservative thought).

Here's their statement opposing Initiative 1033:
Mainstream Republicans urges voters to vote "No" on I-1033. Although Mainstream acknowledges that legislatures [sic] have failed to control the growth in spending, we believe that I-1033’s meat axe approach to revenue/appropriations reform is irresponsible. The remedy proposed by I-1033 is worse than the problem it purports to fix.
Conservatives we're hearing from agree. Here's a comment sent in by Joanne:
Is there a phone bank, sign-waving campaign, or something I can do to help? I am a Republican, and somewhat conservative. This tax measure in the middle of a recession is dangerous. I would like more information on the damage that a similiar initiative had on Colorado.
Colorado passed an initiative similiar to I-1033 many years ago, and it has been nothing short of a huge disaster, as I explained back in August:
How do we know I-1033 is going to be awful? We can look at what’s happened in Colorado, where a similar measure has caused predictable and disastrous results.

Consider El Paso County, home to the City of Colorado Springs.

Thanks to Colorado’s I-1033, the health department there does not have enough people to inspect restaurants and other food providers biannually as state law requires.

On March 1, the Denver Post reported, “Department director Kandi Buckland said it’s no coincidence that ‘in 2008, preliminary data showed El Paso County had the largest number of food-borne illness’ in the state.”

No health inspectors means no health inspections, and no health inspections means that nobody is ensuring that the food restaurants serve is safe to eat. Nor is the county regularly inspecting its pools. Last year, according to the Post, its remaining staff were forced to close 80 of them. Six were infected with e-coli.

County offices are typically closed on Fridays, and the sheriff’s office has resorted to parking its cruisers and waiting for calls to come in when gas prices are high.

This is just a taste of what we can expect if I-1033 passes in November.
Initiative 1033 is not just extremely dangerous, it's also massively unfair, because it redirects sales taxes to pay for a special property tax cut for the rich. Homeowners would get ripped off and renters would be completely scammed. We'd all lose out on services, but the only people getting any significant money back would be Washingtonians who have already amassed significant wealth, like Eyman donor Kemper Freeman Jr., who owns "The Bellevue Collection".

Also agreeing with the Mainstream Republicans' position against 1033 are two conservative elected leaders from Spokane County, who were mentioned in the Spokesman-Review's editorial against Eyman's jobs-killing scheme:
All in all, it’s no wonder that such tight-fisted conservatives as County Commissioner Todd Mielke and Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin oppose I-1033.
The full editorial is available on their site, and it's a good one.

Here's another excerpt from it:
City and county snowplowing costs didn’t soar the past two winters because the population doubled. Snowfall did. Criminals don’t check the consumer price index to decide when to hold up a convenience store. If anything, crime – and the demand for sufficient law enforcement – is more likely to increase when the economy sours, which is also when public revenues dip. Under I-1033, therefore, it would be harder to bolster the police force when it most needs bolstering.

Even when we aren’t enduring the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, economies are cyclical. That’s why frugal governments build up their reserves during the good years and draw them down during the lean. But I-1033 would lock us into today’s sputtering revenue levels.
Well put. I-1033 does not consider any factors besides inflation and population growth that cause demand for services to go up. Factors like healthcare costs (rising faster than the rate of inflation), damage caused by natural disasters, the cost of emergency preparedness (to lessen the damage caused when disaster strikes) or the impact of commercial development.

City councilmembers we've talked to have explained that under I-1033, there would be absolutely no motivation for local leaders to even bother trying to create a good economic environment for small business... because the city's revenue would just be siphoned off and funneled to rich property owners. It couldn't be used to provide services to the people of the city. We're seriously not kidding when we say that I-1033 is a recipe for death on Main Street.

No wonder reasonable conservatives are looking at I-1033 and saying, No thanks, Tim. Even reasonable conservatives can see that attempting to drown government in a bathtub will only hurt, not help, our quality of life.

Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

NPI introduces "Suggest Something!"

Ever wanted to tell us about something... a book, another nonprofit doing some truly groundbreaking work, a website, a socially responsible company that offers services built on progressive values, an environmentally friendly product, or a documentary film? (The list of possibilities seems endless....)

Well, now you can. We've created a special form where you can tip us off to something you think would interest us. We're particularly interested in book recommendations and link recommendations from readers.

The form lets you categorize your suggestions so that it's easier for us to organize them on our end. Websites you suggest will be added to linkrolls by topic, and books you suggest will help strengthen our recommended reading list.

So, if you've got something you want to tell us about, have at it!

Vice President Joe Biden coming to Washington State next month

Patty Murray's reelection campaign for United States Senate has announced that Vice President Joe Biden will be in the Evergreen State next month (on Friday, November 6th) for a fundraising gala at Seattle's Westin Hotel.

The event will take place in the fourth floor grand ballroom, which recently hosted the Washington Conservation Voters' Breakfast of Champions and has also been the site of the State Democratic Party's main Election Night party for several cycles in a row. Tickets are $150, $250, or $1,0000.

The fundraiser will be held at noon.

Senator Murray's new website is making tickets available for purchase online. The Senator has recently stepped up fundraising efforts, sending out an appeal for contributions in the mail and urging Democrats to give over the phone. Now comes what promises to be one of the biggest fundraisers of the season.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Washington's Catholic bishops urge voters to reject Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

In another sign that opposition to Initiative 1033 is growing stronger, Washington State's Catholic bishops today added their voices to those of many other Christian faith leaders by publishing a statement urging voters to reject Tim Eyman's jobs-killing wealth transfer scheme.

The statement will be distributed to parishes throughout Washington. Parishes do not have to include the statement in their bulletins, although many do.
The statement says, in part:
The bishops of Washington State oppose Initiative 1033. We recognize that many people find state and local taxes burdensome. Tax policy and government funding, however, must take into consideration the needs of those who rely on adequate public support for education, health care and other essential services. Initiative 1033 would establish an arbitrary formula for limiting taxes and spending without regard to the needs of others, and therefore, for us it does not meet the test of distributive justice.

The bishops of Washington State urge all Catholics to vote after informing their conscience on this issue through prayer, Scripture reading and study.
The full text is available from our grassroots campaign hub.

Also worth reading is the Washington Association of Churches' letter urging voters to reject Initiative 1033. That letter states, in part:
We understand the impulse to minimize taxes when our own budgets are strained, but our religions call us to act out of the abundance we’ve been given, not out of scarcity. Saving a few tax dollars while needs across our state go unmet is not in keeping with our religious beliefs. To live up to our moral responsibility for the common good, we must make sure that the budget cuts we saw in this recession year do not become permanent in Washington – we must raise our voices against Initiative 1033.
The letter is signed by nearly two dozen faith leaders - bishops, pastors, ministers - and more are adding their voices every day.

A nearly unprecedented coalition, representing Washingtonians from all walks of life, has come together to oppose Initiative 1033 because it would trap our state in a permanent recession, bankrupting our common wealth and redirecting sales taxes to pay for a special property tax cut for the rich.

Tim Eyman has sneered that "groups don't vote, people do", but he understands perfectly well that if people understand the true cost and the true consequences of Initiative 1033, they won't vote for it. That's why he stays relentlessly on message and refuses to engage in a honest debate with us.

This election will determine what the future of Washington State looks like. If Tim Eyman gets his way, that future will be very, very grim. We owe it to ourselves and our children to vote responsibly... and say NO to Initiative 1033.

Momentum against Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 continues to build

The word is finally getting out.

In churches, in coffee shops, on the sidelines at soccer games, at meetings of civic and service organizations, Washingtonians are finally starting to talk about Initiative 1033 and the tremendous harm that it would inflict if we fail to stop Tim Eyman from misleading our fellow citizens in November.

Earlier this week, the NO on I-1033 Coalition launched television ads to help explain the consequences of Eyman's jobs-killing wealth transfer scheme to voters, and Governor Gregoire delivered a sharp denunciation of I-1033 during a special appearance at the Washington Conservation Voters' Breakfast of Champions.

State Treasurer Jim McIntire also warned that the initiative could cost taxpayers tens of millions of additional dollars (beyond the whopping $7.7 billion deficit I-1033 would create) by damaging the state's credit rating.

Today, The Seattle Times and Tri-City Herald joined The Olympian in taking positions against I-1033. The Herald declared:
The measure would use the worst economic recession in decades as the base line for establishing limits on county and city revenue growth.

Every part of government would be hurt -- police and fire protection, schools, programs to help the elderly and disabled, public health programs, maintenance for our parks, roads and other infrastructure -- you name it.

That's why the initiative's opponents represent a wide diversity of interests. The list includes business, labor and religious leaders, advocates for the mentally impaired, children's advocates and educators, cities and counties.
The Times adds:
I-1033 uses excess collections of all taxes to reduce one tax, the property tax. The effect, after five years of a normal economy, is that the state property tax "goes almost to zero," said Kriss Sjoblom, vice president of the nonpartisan Washington Research Council. I-1033 would quietly erase the state's one major tax on wealth, leaving the state depending on the business revenue tax and the sales tax. These fall more in recessions than the property tax does, putting the state more at risk.
That's what we mean when we talk about I-1033 being a wealth transfer.

And the Seattle Post-Intelligencer's Joel Connelly has filed another fine column on I-1033, this time zeroing in on the havoc Eyman's scheme would wreak on our already strained public schools:
At-risk kids at Redmond High School have seen class sizes go up, students pay to play sports ($300) and even get charged a lab fee in chemistry, and teachers scrap planning periods in order to tutor students.

The state's public schools -- Redmond's are among our most innovative -- are enduring a life of gradually deepening cuts: The Washington Legislature passed a recession budget that sliced billions out of education.

At an after work session Tuesday night with half-a-dozen Redmond teachers, I learned the how's and why's of a new worry -- Initiative 1033 on this November's ballot.
The whole column is definitely worth a read.

Support for NO on I-1033 also continues to grow online as hundreds more become fans of the campaign on Facebook by the day. You can too - just head on over to Facebook, sign in, and click the link to Become a Fan.

Beating Initiative 1033 won't be easy. Tim Eyman has done all he can to ensure his cunning and deceptive arguments and ingrained into the public consciousness. But it's not too late for us to reframe the debate and tell the untold story of I-1033's consequences to friends and family. We've got a week until ballots drop.

The time has come to go all in and let every citizen of Washington State know: Vote NO on Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033.

Quote of the Day: Thorbjoern Jagland explains Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Committee Chairman is speaking out in response to criticism that Barack Obama doesn't deserve the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize:
"Some people say, and I understand it, isn't it premature? Too early? Well, I'd say then that it could be too late to respond three years from now," Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said. "It is now that we have the opportunity to respond — all of us."
That's a good way of putting it. By recognizing President Obama for reengaging America with the world, the Nobel Committee is putting the prize to work in support of Alfred Nobel's vision of a more tranquil planet.

What so many commentators don't seem to understand is that the prize is not supposed to be a trophy doled out to someone as a lifetime accomplishment award. It is instead meant to be an honor for the person who has done "the most or best work" to build world peace within the past year.

As Jagland said, who has done more than President Obama?

It is true that actions speak louder than words, and the President still has much work to do. But words do matter.

The President has made it abundantly clear that under his administration, America will once again assume a leadership role in improving the human condition.

What the Nobel Committee is saying is that the world needs a bridge builder, someone with grace and humility, someone who has the patience to persevere onwards, someone who is tough enough to keep going when the going gets tough.

Barack Obama is not perfect (who is?); his record as president is incomplete, as he has only served a few months. But now is precisely the moment when he needs encouragement and support the most to see through what he has begun. What could be better encouragement than being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?

President Obama wins Nobel Peace Prize

An unexpected honor:
The Nobel Committee announced Friday that the annual peace prize was awarded to Barack Obama, just nine months into his presidency, “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”

The award cited in particular Mr. Obama’s effort to reduce the world’s nuclear arsenal. “He has created a new international climate,” the committee said.

The announcement stunned people from Norway to the White House. “There has been no discussion, nothing at all,” said Rahm Emanuel, the president’s chief of staff, in a brief early morning telephone interview.
We extend our congratulations to the President and his family.

Already, of course, reaction is flooding in from all quarters. The right wing is being especially harsh and nasty (how typical), but even some progressives are astonished and wondering why the Nobel Committee selected the President for this year's award.

The nation's collective surprise has something to do with popular misconceptions of what the award is. Many people seem to have the impression that the Nobel Peace Prize is a lifetime achievement award. Actually, that's not the case:
Wanted - a peace maker or rights activist engaged in a current conflict whose influence would benefit greatly from winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

That is who Norway's Nobel Committee will choose for 2009 Peace Prize laureate if, as experts expect, it returns closer to Alfred Nobel's notion of peace. Past prizes went to climate campaigners, life-long diplomats and grass-roots economists.
What was Alfred Nobel's notion of peace? His will, which directs that his interest from his estate be apportioned five ways to recognize humankind's accomplishments, offers a fairly descriptive definition. part to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.
In the Nobel Committee's judgment, it is President Obama who has done "the most or the best work" this past year to build the kind of peace that Alfred Nobel wanted the world to be able to enjoy.

Since becoming President, Obama has reached out to defuse tensions between peoples, urge global cooperation, and lay the groundwork for nuclear disarmament. He is not being recognized for any particular breakthrough, but rather for courageously beginning a journey towards the most difficult, yet just, of ideals: harmony between all of humankind.

This Daily Kos diary specifically lists some of the steps Obama has taken since taking office last January. Obviously, his work is not done. The prize is meant to affirm the importance of what he has started, not celebrate a lifetime of accomplishments.
Interviewed later in the Nobel Committee’s wood-paneled meeting room, surrounded by photographs of past winners, Mr. Jagland brushed aside concerns expressed by some critics that Mr. Obama remains untested.

“The question we have to ask is who has done the most in the previous year to enhance peace in the world,” Mr. Jagland said. “And who has done more than Barack Obama?”

He compared the selection of Mr. Obama with the award in 1971 to the then West German Chancellor Willy Brandt for his “Ostpolitik” policy of reconciliation with communist eastern Europe.

“Brandt hadn’t achieved much when he got the prize, but a process had started that ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall,” said Mr. Jagland. “The same thing is true of the prize to Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990, for launching perestroika. One can say that Barack Obama is trying to change the world, just as those two personalities changed Europe.”
Even so, President Obama remarked this morning that he felt he did not deserve the award, but would nonetheless accept it as a call to action.

Most Washingtonians would lose out with Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033

If voters swim against the rising tide of opposition to Tim Eyman’s wealth transfer scheme, Initiative 1033, and actually approve it, there will be definite winners and losers. Unfortunately, most voters will fall into the losing category.

The winner’s circle will be fairly small and it will probably include some folks you already recognize: the owners of your local mall, shopping center or business park, or of the multi-million dollar home on the lake. This is because all revenue over the arbitrary growth limit imposed by I-1033 would be returned to property holders in a way that’s proportional to their property’s value. That is, with wealthy property owners receiving the largest chunks.

That would make the rest of us the losers. Not only would we lose out on the almost six billion dollars worth of state services that this lost revenue would provide, like education, public safety and health care, but most homeowners would see only a pittance returned to them. And renters would get nothing.

Here's how Eyman's proposal would work. Sales tax and property tax would still becollected and combined in the general fund (six times more sales tax is collected than property tax), but then what the initiative would consider “excess revenue” would be redistributed in the form of a special tax cut. Wealthy property owners would get the biggest payouts. And renters? Again, if you rent an apartment, you would see nothing. Nadda. You would pay sales tax, but you wouldn’t receive any payout, however small. How’s that for fair?

According to the United States Census Bureau, in 2003, thirty six percent of housing units in Washington were occupied by renters. That means that a huge percentage of taxpayers would be ripped off.

On top of the injustice of the measure, the premise that it is based on, the idea that Washingtonians pay too much property tax, is false. Most of us, according to public opinion research, don't object to paying a reasonable amount for good schools and the other crucial services my government provides.

The conservative Tax Foundation ranks our state twenty fifth highest in the nation in state and local property tax collections. But when the facts are inconvenient...

Voters should see through this scheme to take from our communities and give to the wealthy. Most of us would gain nothing but what we could lose is staggering: adequately funded schools, courts, hospitals and libraries.

Washington will win if another ill-conceived Eyman idea is defeated, otherwise we could turn out to be big losers.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Tim Eyman's I-1033 is so extreme that even conservatives are coming out against it

A couple weeks ago, NPI broke the story that Republican Susan Hutchison - one of the two finalists vying to be our next King County Executive - had belatedly decided to join her Democratic rival Dow Constantine in taking a strong position against Tim Eyman's jobs-killing wealth transfer, which she aptly termed "a disaster".

As it turns out, Susan Hutchison isn't the only conservative running for office this year who plans to vote NO on Initiative 1033.

On Tuesday night, I attended a Bellevue City Council debate, which did not zero in on any regional issues except for Sound Transit's East Link light rail project, approved by voters last November.

After the forum concluded, however, I made a point of asking candidates their opinions on Initiative 1033, which would directly affect the City of Bellevue.

Don Davidson and Conrad Lee are the two conservative incumbents up for reelection to the Council. (Lee, as many readers will remember, ran against Dave Reichert in the Republican primary for Congress in 2004).

Both replied that they are opposed to 1033.

Councilmember Lee stressed that Bellevue does an excellent job with taxes and that the City does not need any artifical, draconian limits imposed on it. Davidson emphasized that he is against raising taxes, but that he would like all tools available to solve budget problems.

Councilmember Davidson added that he is anticipating that the Bellevue City Council will consider taking an official position against I-1033, but that they had not yet made an announcement.

Hutchison, Lee, and Davidson's opposition to Initiative 1033 stands in stark contrast to the Washington State Republican Party, which happily endorsed the measure last month. But the Party doesn't speak for all conservatives. That much has been made clear by some of the recent feedback that's been sent in to NPI's NO on 1033 grassroots campaign hub.

For example, Michael wrote in to say:
I am against initiative I-1033. I am also a conservative. Please refrain from painting all conservatives into the same box. This is not a conservative issue if anyone happens to read the proposal. There is a place for government spending, particularly state and local government. This proposal goes way too far.
We thank Michael for making this distinction.

Reasonable conservatives can clearly see that I-1033 isn't designed to do any conserving. Quite the opposite: I-1033 been deliberately engineered by anti-government reactionaries to take a wrecking ball to our common wealth.

We also recently heard from Sandra, who wrote in to say:
I appreciate the info on this very important initiative. I am a political and especially fiscal conservative but seriously oppose this poor initiative.
Sandra urged us to emphasize a basic point that we frequently make: Services cost money. There is no free lunch. It's basic mathematics:
If we don't pay for it, we don't get it. No one wants to live in a community with crippled law enforcement and fire fighting, no parks or other services and no infrastructure support to attract new development (and therefore jobs and housing) in our state. It just doesn't make sense. People are fed up with federal spending and unfortunately lump state and local into that bundle, which is giving this initiative momentum without people understanding the implications. Educate and know your opposition.

Thanks for your efforts. Good luck to us all.
If we as a society are unwilling to pool our resources together to do for ourselves what we cannot do individually, then we cannot hope to maintain the quality of life that we enjoy today. Reasonable conservatives understand that.

And even conservatives who are suspicious and unhappy with government can see - if they do their homework - that Tim Eyman's "one-size-fits-all initiative" is a no-holds-barred assault on home rule.

(Home rule is the idea that we should have as much local control over our communities as possible. It's a fierce tradition in Washington... it's why we have so many special districts, besides our nearly three hundred cities).

I-1033's interference with home rule is part of the reason why the former Chair of the Republican Party - Chris Vance, of all people - is publicly opposing it. Writing for Crosscut, Vance recently discussed I-1033 in the context of King County's revenue problems, which stem partly from previous Eyman initiatives that Vance supported:
Tim Eyman's latest initiative, I-1033, would make this situation even worse by capping overall county revenue growth at a factor of inflation plus population. Eyman has already placed a 1 percent lid on property tax revenue; the proposed 1033 cap would prevent sales tax revenue from growing with a recovering economy.

Initiative 1033 is so horrible, so badly conceived, that even conservatives who have eagerly sided with Tim Eyman in the past are disillusioned.

If Conrad Lee and Chris Vance are against I-1033, who is for it?

UFCW Local 21 endorses Mike McGinn for Mayor of Seattle

In a major boost for Mike McGinn's candidacy, the United Food and Commercial Workers, Local 21, announced this morning that they are backing the former Sierra Club leader and environmental activist to be Seattle's next mayor.

"We like Mike. He has a proven track record in this city of making things happen to better the lives of working people," explained Rachel Marcotte, a UFCW member who serves on the union's executive board and works at a local grocery store.

UFCW's press release (emailed to NPI) cited three reasons for the organization's decision to support McGinn rather than Joe Mallahan:
  • Winning housing and health benefits for Teaching Assistants at University of Washington (President of Graduate and Professional Student Senate, UW)
  • Helping head up effort to pass Seattle Parks Levy (Head of Great Cities, a local community organization)
  • Partnering with community members to preserve industrial land inside city of Seattle (Sierra Club leader).
Steve Williamson, Assistant to UFCW President Dave Schmitz, added:
We made this decision because we feel that Mike McGinn is a candidate with a broad range of experience rooted in the local community. The election is about the future of this great progressive city and Mike will do right by our members and help advance the lives of working people. Looking closely at his values and the leadership he has already provided, we feel strongly that he would represent working people in our city.
The King County Labor Council, the Carpenters, the Laborers, and the Police Guild have all endorsed Joe Mallahan, McGinn's rival. UFCW, which happens to be Washington State's largest private sector union, is McGinn's first big endorsement from the labor movement.

UFCW certainly has the ability to put boots on the ground... in a tight race, their help could make the difference for McGinn. However, this announcement could also prompt the unions backing Mallahan to invest more energy and resources into the contest to prevent a McGinn victory, since their primary concern is to prevent the Alaskan Way Tunnel project from getting off track. (McGinn, as readers know, is fiercely against the tunnel, while Mallahan is ardently for it).

Governor Gregoire: Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 would guarantee devastation

It's no secret that Governor Chris Gregoire isn't a fan of Tim Eyman or his latest jobs-killing wealth transfer scheme, Initiative 1033.

But this morning the governor delivered her most impassioned attack to date on the measure, declaring at the Washington Conversation Voters' Breakfast of Champions that I-1033 would "devastate the State of Washington", and imploring the environmental community to do everything humanly possible to defeat it.

"I've come this morning not to make a pitch for money, but to ask for your vote again," she said, explaining that the danger of Initiative 1033's passage was the prinicipal reason she wanted to speak at the breakfast.

The following is a partial transcript of the Governor's remarks. Joel Connelly has also posted a report on this morning's breakfast over at Strange Bedfellows.
GOVERNOR GREGOIRE: We are in unbelievably difficult times. As if it wasn't tough enough last year, we're facing, yet again, another budget deficit. Somewhere between $1 and $2 billion dollars. The light at the end of the tunnel is we're predicted to come out of it stronger and better than any state. But it's gonna be a long haul to get there. There is one thing that could make sure we don't get there. There is one thing that will ensure we devastate the State of Washington.

So I came here this morning to ask you... please... do everything you can. Vote yourself NO on 1033. But get everybody in Washington State to join in.


You know we had to take cuts in natural resources. There's not a legislator here, present, or those who couldn't make it this morning that wanted to do that. But we had to do it. You know we had to take cuts in education. Again, no one, no one wants to take cuts in education. We had to take cuts in healthcare.

Again, no one wants to take cuts in healthcare.

But if we want to guarantee that we will not come out of this recession, that those cuts will become permanent and that there be still more cuts, that's what 1033 will do for us.

The proponent of 1033 says there will be no cut in services. I just don't get how you can suggest that. That is incomprehensible to me. Will we have any hearts left in the state when we're done? Will we have anybody protecting our our air, or our clean water? And at the local level, it will be equally as devastating. And they are struggling today to get through these tough times.

So I came here to say, we don't have to do what Colorado did. They learned the lesson the hard way. They adopted something very similar to this. And my friends, they went to 49th in the country in K-12 funding. They weren't even guaranteeing immunization for children or even requiring it to enter school. Their class sizes grew. That's not the future of the State of Washington.

If we want our communities to remain vibrant, if we want our state to continue to lead - whether it's the cleanup of Puget Sound, or clean energy, or climate change - we can't afford 1033. And we can't afford to learn the lesson that Colorado did the hard way.

So I come here this morning... and I don't do this very often. In fact, I don't recall ever having done it as governor. I come here from the bottom of my heart to tell you, I will not stand by, I will not be silent, as Washington State faces yet another initiative.

Take a look at California. Why can't they function? Because they have initiated themselves to death!


We elected these legislators and this governor to do the tough stuff. And they showed last legislative session they're prepared to lead and take on the tough issues. But the last thing we need is to devastate our communities. To take our people who are on healthcare, already 35,000 losing it, to have the 60,000 that are sitting there waiting for the day that we recover from the recession, that they might be able to get healthcare, to be denied.

We know these cuts are temporary. We know we can replace them once we get revenue. So we must make sure that we can do precisely that. And not continue Washington State in this devastating recession.

[The] Office of Financial Management predicts we will have to cut another 5.9 billion dollars between now and 2015 under 1033. Let me put this perspective: 9 billion dollar cuts last year. Facing yet another $1 to $2 billion. 3 billion in federal stimulus dollars is not going to be there anymore. And we're going to cut another $5.9 billion?

You can do the math yourself. You can see the consequences yourself.
The governor is absolutely correct. If I-1033 passes, economic devastation will follow. All of Washington's neighborhoods would be harmed by this destructive measure, the most dangerous and cunning that Tim Eyman has ever proposed.

It is imperative that we thwart Initiative 1033's services freezes in its tracks these next few weeks. If we don't, Washington will have no future. Under I-1033 our common wealth would be raided for the benefit of the rich, public servants shackled, and essential services gutted. We cannot allow that to happen. It is imperative that we prevent this wrecking ball of an initiative from ruining our state.

Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Revving up to defeat Tim Eyman's jobs-killing Initiative 1033

After months of flying under the radar, it looks like Initiative 1033 - Tim Eyman's latest scheme to kill jobs, freeze services, and redirect sales taxes to pay for a big tax cut for wealthy property owners - is finally starting to be exposed as the rotten and ill-conceived measure that it is.

This morning the Washington Education Association held a press conference to highlight the consequences of Initiative 1033. Tim Eyman showed up in person to crash the press conference and mug for the camera. He was challenged by HA Seattle's David Goldstein and the Seattle P-I's Joel Connelly, as well as KOMO Television's Bryan Johnson, although he refused to respond to their questions and instead offered a steady stream of recycled sound bites.

During their confrontation, Eyman referred to David Goldstein as "a joke", and told The Olympian's Brad Shannon that the NO on I-1033 ads are "threats, lies and scare tactics." Funny, that about sums up Eyman and Initiative 1033.

Getting nervous, Tim? Is that the best comeback you've got?

The coalition against I-1033 continues to grow. It now includes the
Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Heart Association/American Stroke Association, and the Downtown Seattle Association, among many others.

I-1033 is so extreme that even groups which typically remain neutral on Eyman initiatives are opposing it, like the Washington Realtors.

City councils are also voting to oppose I-1033. Among the cities that have done so are Burien, Kirkland, Pullman, Tukwila, SeaTac, and Redmond, NPI's hometown. (Redmond was one of the first cities to declare its opposition).

The Olympian, meanwhile, which has a fairly conservative editorial board (they were only ones to endorse Tim Eyman's failed I-985 last year), have become the first of the state's major daily newspapers to take a position against I-1033. They admit in their editorial they might have sided with Eyman if I-1033's services freeze were only applicable at the state level.

The traditional press has been making much hay out of a poll conducted by a Republican opinion research firm (Rasmussen Reports) circulated by Eyman that shows Initiative 1033 with a sizable lead (61% yes, 31% no). Today there's a new poll out, by SurveyUSA, with very different results. That poll finds 45% of respondents in support for I-1033, 32% opposed, and 22% undecided.

We dislike talking about polls here on The Advocate, partly because we like our coverage to be more substantive than just horse race reporting, but also because we know the only poll that really matters is on Election Day.

It's discouraging to see some in the media are writing headlines saying "Initiative 1033 passing." That's not true because it's not possible.

Ballots haven't been mailed yet, and won't for more than a week. Don't believe the polls... whatever they say. We have the power to defeat this measure. Working together, we can dry up the broad and shallow support for this initiative. But we have to reach out. That means talking to family, friends, neighbors.

We've got a little less than a month to persuade a majority of likely voters to reject Tim Eyman's jobs killing wealth transfer.

It won't be easy. The ballot title Rob McKenna's office crafted for Eyman sounds deceptively good. Our challenge is to get voters to think beyond the ballot title. If they ask questions and look at the consequences, they'll vote no.

Tim Eyman has never been beaten in an odd-numbered election year. Most of the campaigns waged against him have been clunky and unimaginative. It's time to rev up the intensity and throw Eyman on the defensive.

The comments on the NO On I-1033 Facebook page, which now has more than 2,300 fans and is growing by the hour, provide ample evidence that people are sick of Eyman's destructive schemes to wreck our common wealth.

We have to collectively summon the energy to send this foul mess of a ballot measure back to the swamp from which it came... or our communities will suffer a terrible fate. Now is the time for action. Now is the time to spread the word... Protect Washington and Vote NO on Initiative 1033.

Is this who we want running Washington State? Tim Eyman the publicity hound?

Running a state is no small thing. It's serious business. It's not a laugh-a-minute job, and those who think it is often quickly learn otherwise.

I don't think there are many people who would disagree with that. Except this guy:

Tim Eyman delivering petition signatures, 2005 . (Spokesman-Review)

Tim Eyman delivering petition signatures, 2006. (NPI Advocate)

I guess it takes all kinds. Not that you can tell by looking, but both of these callow stunts come courtesy of everyone's favorite initiative monger, Tim Eyman. Eyman doesn't seem to get the basic concept that running a government is serious business, a deficiency that is equally evident in both the content of his initiatives, like his latest work of economic Armageddon I-1033, and the media-stunt tactics he uses to publicize them.

It would be laughable, except that running a government is not a joke. Running the government is not an opportunity for self-aggrandizement. It's not a venue for getting your fifteen minutes of fame. Or at least, it shouldn't be.

Running a government is serious business. Washington's government affects the lives of its estimated 6.5 millions citizens. That's a big deal. It really is. It baffles me that there's somebody out there who wants to tear everything apart. Somebody who just doesn't get that messing with public services means messing with real people's lives. This is not a game.

I get it. You get it. And I don't think I'm being even slightly radical by preferring that my state government be run by the smartest, most sober-minded individuals available. I-1033 is not serious governance . But then, what would you expect from Darth Vader in a gorilla suit?

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Keith Olbermann to offer hourlong Special Comment on healthcare reform tomorrow

Keith Olbermann has announced that he will devote the entirety of Countdown tomorrow night to a Special Comment on healthcare reform.

Keith's Special Comments, begun in summer 2006, have become legendary for sharply and eloquently denouncing right wing scare tactics and refuting the lies of the Bush administration and its Republican allies. More recently, Keith has started taking on the ConservaDems who are standing in the way of healthcare reform.

Tomorrow's episode of Countdown will be unprecedented.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee - the authentic version of the DCCC - is asking activists to pledge to watch Keith's hourlong show tomorrow.

It's not a petition, just an effort to thank and support Keith for committing an entire show to the fight for real healthcare reform.

If you're not on the PCCC's mailing list, you'll be joining it by taking the pledge, and that's a good thing. The PCCC isn't another D.C. based group belonging to the establishment. Rather, the PCCC works to help elect real progressives to Congress. It represents the "better" part of the idea "more and better Democrats."

And don't forget to tune in to Countdown tomorrow, 5 PM Pacific Time.

NO on I-1033 Coalition begins airing first television ads to explain initiative's harm

This morning the NO on I-1033 Coalition, of which the Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense are a part, launched its first television ads to describe to voters the immense harm that Initiative 1033 would inflict.

The first ad focuses on the threat to public schools:
Script: I-1033 hurts Washington's classrooms and kids

JENNY ROSE, WASHINGTON TEACHER: We know how kids learn best: individual attention in small classes. But tough times have forced schools to cut millions of dollars and thousands of teachers.

Now, Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 threatens to make things worse. 1033 would cut more teachers and raise class sizes, making it harder for our kids to learn.

When Colorado passed a similar law, class sizes rose and graduation rates fell.

Is that what we want here?

Vote NO on 1033.
The budget passed by the Legislature last spring has finally reared its ugly head in school districts across the state. Thousands of teachers and support staff have discovered that their jobs that are in jeopardy because there isn't enough revenue to properly fund schools. Meanwhile, school districts have raised athletic fees, cut back bus routes, and eliminated support for the arts. Universities are jacking up tuition by nearly thirty percent over two years.

I-1033 would freeze all those budget cuts into place, trapping us in a permanent recession while our valuable sales tax dollars get pumped into the pockets of rich property owners like Bellevue developer Kemper Freeman Jr., who will enjoy a special tax break. (Kemper, for readers who haven't heard of him, owns the Bellevue Collection: Bellevue Square, Bellevue Place, and Lincoln Square. He was recently granted a permit to operate a "heli-stop" atop one of the buildings downtown. He is a major donor to Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033).

The second ad focuses on the threat to health and human services:
Script: I-1033 worsens health care crisis

SHELBY GILJE, WASHINGTON SENIOR: For too many seniors the recession is making it harder to get the care they need. Tim Eyman's Initiative 1033 will only make things worse.

1033 slashes funding for nursing homes, in-home care, and other senior services.

And when Colorado passed a similar initiative, senior care faced significant cuts, especially in rural communities.

Times are tough enough. I don't want to make things worse.

That's why I'm voting NO on 1033.
These ads will start running in the Seattle, Spokane, and Vancouver media markets immediately. If you watch much TV, and live in one of the three major urban areas, you'll probably see them several times between now and Election Day.

Hopefully these ads will help raise the campaign's visibility. Not enough Washingtonians know what Initiative 1033 is or what it would do. That needs to change. Tim Eyman is praying that voters don't take the trouble to research the consequences, because if they do, he's headed for defeat in November.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Time for the feds to put a stop to U.S. Olympic Committee's trademark overreach

The United States Olympic Committee is at it again:
The U.S. Olympic Committee is protesting an effort by the parent company of The Olympian to trademark the newspaper's name.

The McClatchy Co. submitted its application to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in October 2006, shortly after it bought Knight-Ridder, the newspaper’s former owner.

Lawyers representing the committee argue that the similarity in appearance and sound of its trademarks to The Olympian “tends to cause confusion or mistake, to deceive, and to falsely suggest a connection.”
This argument is wholly without merit.

The Olympian is a well known Washington newspaper that has been publishing for decades, and it was so named long before Congress foolishly granted the U.S. Olympic Committee the exclusive rights to the word "Olympic" in 1978. The paper's namesake, is, of course, the City of Olympia, which is the capital of our state.

As Ken noted when he criticized the USOC last year, the City of Olympia was incorporated on January 28th, 1859, decades before the United States Olympic Committee even existed. The Olympic Mountains were given their name by English explorer John Meares in 1778, and the name was officially recognized in 1864. The United States Olympic Committee was not created until thirty years later (1894), and did not adopt its present name until 1961... more than two decades after the creation of Olympic National Park.

The usage of the word "Olympic" in the Pacific Northwest predates the existence of the U.S. Olympic Committee. It is ludicrous that the Committee is spending its resources trying to intimidate or harass businesses that have Olympic in their name. That word and its derivatives are not the exclusive domain of the USOC.

But Larry Probst and his well paid lawyers selfishly think otherwise.

The USOC also seems to be having trouble getting along with the International Olympic Committee, which helps explain why Chicago's bid to host the 2016 Games was eliminated in the first round.

The federal government - either President Barack Obama, or Congress, or both - needs to intervene to stop the USOC from harassing Washington businesses. We certainly wouldn't mind a change in leadership. The people running the show now, so to speak, seem incredibly haughty and arrogant.

If they're incapable of changing their attitude, they should be replaced with people who better represent the values of the United States.

Unwanted drugs affect our communities

We used to worry about the illicit drugs that were smuggled into the country or made illegally in someone’s garage. Today it’s the drugs in our own medicine cabinets that are causing America’s biggest drug problems.

Drug overdoses caused by prescription drugs, especially opioids, are now the leading cause of injury-related deaths in Washington and fifteen other states, supplanting traffic accidents. Our cars are safer but our meds are not.
In general, [University of Washington researcher] Banta-Green said, the deaths are a result of inappropriate use of prescription opioids with alcohol or other drugs …"Very rarely are they taking them exactly as prescribed," he said. In other cases, the drugs have been stolen from people to whom they were prescribed.

As prescriptions have risen, so, too, has abuse — among all age levels. One-tenth of Washington 10th-graders have reported using opiates to get high in the past few years.
Teens can find these heavy-duty pain killers in their own medicine cabinets as they are prescribed to one in five adults and one in ten adolescents a year. That makes opioids an easy access, drug-of-choice for teens today. Among young teens in Washington, pharmaceuticals are now more popular than either alcohol or marijuana.

So what should we do with the leftover pills in the cabinet? We used to be told to flush unwanted medications down the toilet, but since these chemicals have started showing up in our drinking water supplies and bodies of water such as the Puget Sound, officials are looking for safer homes for unwanted meds.

A pilot program developed by a coalition of local and state governments and non-profits in Washington state collected 21,000 pounds of unwanted drugs in almost two and a half years. The drugs were then disposed of safely as hazardous waste. As part of this program, you can currently bring your unwanted medications to a limited number of Bartell Drugs and Group Health pharmacies, but more resources are necessary in order to make the program run long-term.

Legislation (House Bill 1165 and Senate Bill 5279) to provide for a pharmaceutical-industry funded medicine return program passed two key House committees in Olympia last winter but failed to come up for a full House vote. Plans are being made for a repeat run of the bills during the upcoming session which starts this January.

At little or no cost to the state, this proposed legislation would put a dent in a number of serious drug-related issues: drug abuse, drug-related deaths and environmental contamination. This can be done. We have successful take-back programs for electronics and motor oil, and drug disposal programs are working well elsewhere:
This is not a new idea -- medicine makers have been operating successful take-back programs in Canada, France, Spain and elsewhere for many years. British Columbia's program, for example, has been operating since 1996 and is fully paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. The program took back more than 53,000 pounds of unwanted medications in 2007, and it costs less than $300,000 per year.
The pharmaceutical industry does a great job of selling us products that we need. They can also be a part of the solution once their products cause more harm than healing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Thinking about heading to the theater to see Capitalism: A Love Story?

Michael Moore's newest documentary film, Capitalism: A Love Story premiered this weekend in theaters across the United States. The film explores the drawbacks of our nation's economic system and the shortcomings of markets,

Progressives are sure to appreciate this film, which critically attacks the assertion that the pursuit of money results by default in economic security. Conservatives are sure not to... it conflicts head on with their ideology.

If you're a conservative reading this post simply to investigate what your "enemies" think, and you view criticism of your ideology as heresy, you are hereby advised not to see Capitalism: A Love Story.

Watching the movie will only make you unhappy and possibly result in you walking out of the theater, or short of that, lashing out against it after it's over. (If you work for the likes of Roger Ailes, then belittling this film is probably part of your job).

One of the more ridiculous facets of our economic system that is explored in this film is "Dead Peasants" insurance, in which companies get payouts when their employees die. Do they really complain when not enough of these "insured" employees are dying?

An elite 1% - the richest Americans - now controls more financial wealth than 95% of the population. The gap between the haves and the have-nots has become a chasm.

The film doesn't dwell on just the bad, however. It also describes a democratically run bakery, in which every employee earns more than twice the starting salary of the pilots who work for some airlines (which obviously are not democratically run).

The film does seem to give President Obama more of a pass than is prudent, considering that he hasn't forced Wall Street to change its unaccountable and greedy ways. However, as some people have said, it is sometimes better to give a leader like President Obama a great reputation to live up to, to help encourage them to do the proper thing.

(The President certainly did not get a pass on Saturday Night Live last night).

I went to the theater with someone who didn't particularly care for political documentaries, and wasn't expecting much.

After watching it, however, they were glad they went.

My advice to readers? Take a biconceptual along with you to see Capitalism: A Love Story, and enjoy it together. Or share feelings of frustration together.

For Moore about the film, see Michael's website.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Rooting for the United States to fail

Forget patriotism. Forget love of country. That only matters if a right wing theocrat occupies the office of President of the United States:
A surprising number of conservatives are doing a happy-dance over the fact that the United States will not host the Olympic summer games in 2016. As far as I can tell, their glee is driven entirely by their hatred of President Obama -- Chicago is his hometown, and therefore undeserving.
Who are these people? If you can believe it... it's the Usual Suspects:
Eric Erickson published an item declaring: "World Rejects Barack Obama."
Hahahahaha. I thought the world would love us more now that Bush was gone. I thought if we whored ourselves out to our enemies, great things would happen. Apparently not.

So Obama's pimped us to every two bit thug and dictator in the world, made promises to half the Olympic committee, and they did not even kiss him. So much for improving America's standing in the world, Barry O.
Malkin's mocking the U.S. defeat; so is the Weekly Standard. Fox News, which launched an aggressive effort against Chicago's bid, will no doubt follow. (Update: the offices of the Weekly Standard, in its own words, "erupted" in "cheers" after the announcement.)

A year ago, a conservative Republican president told Chicago, "This country supports your bid, strongly." That was then, before the right decided their hatred for the president's hometown was more important than anything else.
Of course, it doesn't matter to these guys that Chicago's bid proposal was originally put together while George W. Bush was in the White House, and enjoyed Bush's full support. No, all that matters to the unpatriotic right wing is that Obama is president now. A setback for America is a setback for him, so that's good.

Imagine that... conservatives rooting for the United States of America to fail. Are they also hoping that the United States will fail to prevent another terrorist attack? They're certainly hoping we fail to achieve healthcare reform or greater environmental protection to attack the climate crisis.

At the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen adds:
Remember, in 2005, when New York was eliminated as a host city for the 2012 Olympics, and liberals everywhere giggled like children and mocked the Bush administration?

Oh wait, that didn't happen.
The right wing's glee over the Chicago bid - their happiness over a loss for our country - reminds us that they are for a faux kind of patriotism that is tied to their ideology. If their ideology is not shared by our democratically elected leaders, then love of country goes out the window. Radical conservatives are right wingers first and Americans second.

Pathetic, sure, but we've seen this attitude on display before.

For the rest of us, there's no reason to feel bitter about the lost bid. Sure, it's disappointing, but we don't need to dwell on it. The President's trip to Copenhagen was not a waste of time or a wasted effort.

America has hosted The Olympics many times, most recently in Salt Lake City in 2002 (the Winter Games), and before that, Atlanta in 1996 (the Summer Games). The entire continent of South America, in contrast, has never hosted a single Games. As far as we at NPI are concerned, Chicago and the United States couldn't have lost, ultimately, to a more deserving city (Rio de Janeiro) and a more deserving country (Brazil).

It's only fair that South America - the world's fourth biggest continent with the fifth largest population - gets a turn.

That is the great thing about the Olympic Games... that they travel around the world. It wouldn't be the global athletic competition it is if it was held in the United States every time, or even every other time.

There's no reason the Games can't come to Chicago in say, 2020. By then it will have been about a quarter of a century since the United States hosted a Summer Games. Chicago should submit another bid for the next go-around. It won't have the support of radical conservatives if President Obama is still our chief executive, but really... who cares what those fake patriots think?

The more people know about the ways they're tracked online, the less they like it

Technology confronts society with new questions. Big questions.
  • How do I manage my time?
  • How do I stay involved with what/who I care about?
  • What do I pay attention to?
The Internet has thrust another big question into the forefront, one that is as important to our daily lives as it is to the principles of our democracy: how do I maintain my privacy?

The more people know about the ways in which they're being tracked online, the less they like it. Advertisers, media companies, and proprietors of ecommerce portals argue that the more they know about you, your interests, and your behavior, the more vibrant and rewarding your user experience will be.

Amazon is a prime example. They know what products you buy from their site, what products you browse through, the products you review, the products you own, etc. As a result, they can declare with empirical clarity that people who buy Jay-Z's latest album also frequently buy albums by Drake and Kid Cudi. To them, reduced privacy is the price you pay for accurate recommendations. The same is true of businesses like Netflix (recommending DVD rentals) and Google (showing ads based on your search terms and sites you've visited in the past).

This argument has some validity, but it falls short in its quest to reduce privacy to an afterthought in the minds of citizens and consumers. A lack of transparency leads to an excess of suspicion, and this is more true in advertising and business than anywhere. Just as those who are willing to give up freedom for "security" deserve neither, those who would sacrifice privacy for marginally improved ads should value their attention more.

The challenge of balancing privacy with a better user experience presents tremendous opportunity for innovation in governance and in business. Being upfront with constituents and customers lifts innovators from a state of intellectual laziness to one of creative courage. It is the latter approach that has the promise to fuel the remaking of government and of business for the better... not the former.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Tonight on The National Parks: The fight to protect The Olympic Mountains

A quick television alert for readers: Ken Burns' majestic documentary series, The National Parks: America's Best Idea, continues tonight, and will feature stories about Washington State's National Parks.

The Battle for Olympic National Park” tells the story of conservationists' efforts to turn Mount Olympus National Monument into a national park, and convince President Franklin Delano Roosevelt that the Peninsula's valuable ecosystem, encompassing the mountain range and its temperate rainforests, should be protected for future generations to enjoy.

"Iwao and Hanaye Masushita and Their Holy Mountain" tells the story of two Japanese Americans who created the Seattle Camera Club after emigrating from Japan. The pair visited Mount Rainier some one hundred and ninety times during the 1930s before their lives were turned upside down by the onset of World War II.

Tune in tonight at 8 PM on PBS to catch some great historical footage of two our state's incredibly beautiful National Parks.

Senator Cantwell amends Senate Finance Committee health reform bill

This afternoon, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) successfully amended the Senate Finance Committee’s health reform bill, to incorporate langauge that allows states to offer the kind of healthcare safety net we have here in Washington State. The amendment passed with no Republican support and only one Democratic defection: Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, who is evidently auditioning for a job on K Street after her term ends.

Cantwell’s amendment directs states to create a “basic health plan” for families who currently have a hard time finding coverage: those who aren’t eligible for Medicaid, but who still struggle to afford insurance.
The measure would apply to people who make up to twice the federal poverty level — about $44,000 for a family of four.
The parameters of this proposed "basic health plan" are defined by the state government but the coverage is administered by private insurers. The plan is modeled after Washington’s twenty-year old Basic Health Plan:
In essence, what Washington state does is define a basic health plan--it sets the deductible, out of pocket limit, co-pays, drug cost sharing, and defines exactly what must be covered. Private insurers bid to be able to offer basically this exact same plan. A few private insurers are qualified; there are small differences in the basic health plan depending on the insurer the individual selects. Premiums are subsidized by the state to make the plans affordable.
Kudos to Senator Cantwell for doing her best to improve what is a shoddy bill. The language doesn't bring a public option into the bill, but it does bring the BaucusCare bill a few baby steps closer to the bill created by the HELP Committee. The really encouraging news is that the White House and the Democratic leadership have finally accepted that Republicans are not interested in working together for reform.

Maybe now we can finally get somewhere.

Washington’s Basic Health Plan offers low-income citizens comprehensive coverage at very affordable rates. If implemented, Cantwell’s plan would give a small but severely under-served segment of the population a very attractive health insurance option. But let’s face it, it’s not Medicaid or Medicare, our two real "public options."

CLARIFICATION: Just a quick update for readers... We've been in communication with Senator Cantwell's office and the Senator wants to stress she does not consider this amendment to be a public option, rather a complement to one. Accordingly, we've removed a sentence from the middle of this post that stated otherwise. Senator Cantwell remains strongly committed to a public option in the final bill, and she wants you to know she is working to make sure that happens.

Representative Alan Grayson speaks truth to power on healthcare reform

Former Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once quipped "I have been thinking that I would make a proposition to my Republican friends... that if they will stop telling lies about the Democrats, we will stop telling the truth about them." I was reminded of that quote earlier this week when I heard that Democratic representative Alan Grayson had described the Republican plan for healthcare as "don’t get sick," and if you do get sick, "die quickly."

Naturally, Republicans threw a fit, even though what Grayson said was accurate, and even though they closed ranks just a few weeks ago around fellow Congresscritter Joe Wilson, who called the President a liar on the floor of the House of Representatives (which, incidentally, was a breach of decorum).

Republican Representative Tom Price, who voted against the resolution reprimanding Wilson, had the gall to demand an apology from Grayson.

When asked about this demand, Grayson replied:
"I would like to apologize," he said. "I would like to apologize to the dead."

Citing a statistic that 44,789 Americans die each year because they don’t have health insurance, Grayson said, "That is more than ten times the number of Americans who died in the war in Iraq, it’s more than ten times the number of Americans who died on 9/11... It happens every year."

Grayson added in another apparent dig at the GOP, "We should care about people even after they are born."

Grayson apologized one last time.

"I apologize to the dead and their families that we haven’t voted sooner," he said.
We should care about people even after they are born. Indeed. And before they die, as well. When Congress was under Republican control, it had no trouble speedily approving legislation that actually interfered with a husband's efforts to honor his wife's wish to die with dignity.

Now Congress is Democratically controlled by Democratic supermajorities, but Republicans are still obstructing progress, and they're getting help from the ConservaDems who really should call themselves Republicans since they are opposed to strengthening our common wealth and protecting the public interest.

At least there's one Democratic Congressman out there with some wit who's willing to match the Republicans' theatrics with a candid and sober assessment of what they believe. Republicans can protest all they want, but the truth is the private sector is simply incapable of providing access to healthcare to all Americans.

Only government can do that.

By opposing the public option and even reform without the public option, Congressional Republicans have made their position on healthcare perfectly clear: Don't get sick. Those terse words dispense with all the mumbo jumbo Republicans spout about how there is a better way and the private sector can provide it. There is no better way. Republicans like Tom Price are just mad because Alan Grayson smashed their mirrors and dispersed their smoke.

They shouldn't be so upset. It's not like they don't have healthcare. They can rest easy, because they're already covered by a government plan.

But they don't want to allow Americans who don't have any insurance to be covered by a public option that would keep the private sector honest.

Who knew Republicans could be so selfish?

Capitol Press Corps loses another as TNT's Joe Turner announces retirement

There goes another one.

Over the last few years, we've been witnessing quite the exodus from the White House and the Blue House in Olympia, where the statehouse press corps are stationed. Back at the height of this summer The Spokesman Review's Rich Roesler departed to work for Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler. Now the Tacoma News Tribune's chief political reporter, Joe Turner, is retiring, effective November 1st.
I gave serious thought to taking a buy-out that was offered by McClatchy at the beginning of this year. But some of my colleagues in the Olympia Press Corps prevailed on me to stay for at least one more legislative session. I’m glad I did. It was an interesting and hectic session as the Legislature dealt with a $9 billion budget shortfall.

But now it’s time for me to leave. It’s pretty simple: The aggravations of the job outweigh the rewards. And those rewards were substantial. I have been the statehouse reporter for The Tacoma News Tribune -- It will always be the TNT for me -- for most of the past 20 years, a goal that I set for myself in college in the early 1970s.

I regret my departure will further erode the statehouse press corps. Part of me wants to stay and be one of the “300 Spartans” who still are watchdogs on state government. But not at half rations, figuratively speaking.
Turned later added:
Blogs won’t replace newspapers. They are like newspapers before the Civil War, where each of them espoused a particular viewpoint and finding neutral reporting was difficult if not impossible.
And yet he chose to announce his retirement in a blog post.

When are reporters going to learn... it's not about the medium, it's about the content. Any newspaper that contains an op-ed page contains opinion as well as objective reporting. There are people who would argue that there really is no such thing as true objective reporting, that even the best reporters exhibit biases by serving as gatekeepers based on what they decide to write about.

Blogs can be objective, or they can be subjective, just like any other kind of media, be it a newspaper, magazine, book, television program, or radio program. The number of blogs that are written more objectively, focusing on neighborhood happenings and hyperlocal news, for instance, is on the rise.

Turner is right in one sense: Blogs won't render newspapers obsolete. The big metro daily does appear to be dying a slow death (its business model is slowly crumbling, and nobody has figured out a way to stop the erosion), but the medium of print is not dying. Smaller newspapers will endure and will continue to be published. So will books and magazines. There will always be a need for the printed word.

We wish Joe the best as he says goodbye to the Tacoma News Tribune and retires from three decades of reporting. The press corps won't be the same without him.