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January 28, 2005

Paul Berendt - Candidate for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

Paul_berendtMany people think this race is a referendum on Paul Berendt's tenure as Chair for the last ten years.  Paul was elected in 1994, another very bad year for Democrats both nationally and in this state.  He was able to turn the Party around and figure out how to make it financially healthy.  Democrats have done well in these last ten years in this state.  Now, after a year when a massive number of new people have become more involved in the process and we had a rollercoaster of a post-election, the Democratic Central Committee will decide on Saturday whether to keep Paul as Chair or bring in new blood. 

Paul understands much of the changing desires of the newly involved Democrats.  The Party electors will have to decide if he understands enough.  If he wins, he will have to buck the people around him and significantly improve the operations side of the Democratic Party in this state as well as keep the energy and enthusiasm of the people new to active Party involvement.

This is the last of the four candidates running for Chair whom we have interviewed.   Read on for the full interview.  Or check out our recent interviews with other candidates Greg RodriguezKat Overman and Bill Phillips

Q: What have you been doing to revitalize the Democratic Party in this state?

PB: Under my leadership, the State Party has been a conduit for harnessing the energy of the last year. I believe we have a wonderful State Party. It is an activist party, a populist party. We’ve done well. We have two U.S. Senators, the Governor and majorities in both Houses. The challenge for us is to consolidate our power and move clearly into being the majority party.


Q: How would you sum up what you did or learned?

PB: In the past, people have deferred the lobbying, the training, and the planning to others. They have invested power in the Chair.  What we’ve seen this last year is that people want to have greater control over the decisions of the Party and what it stands for. We need to learn to work through committees, to find jobs for people to do that are right for them.

The turning point was the caucus process last spring. This brought a lot of people into the Party and people discovered or rediscovered that process. I believe 8 out of 10 people get involved in politics because of issues. People want to feel like they are able to be an advocate for an issue.


Q: What would you do as State Chair?

PB: My job is to create mechanisms for people to be directly involved in the precincts, and in communications, developing messages and fund-raising.

We have a good staff but now, instead of doing the work, they need to facilitate others doing it. It’s been easier to do it ourselves but we need to change that.

I want to have more of an on-going presence in Olympia. We need to give our Democratic Governor and Legislature the cover they need to make things happen. Maybe we can have Issue Day at the state capital, where people come down and lobby for an issue that is important to them and do that maybe once a week while the Legislature is in session. I’m going to propose that to the Central Committee.

We have a Party structure. It works better some places than others. I think it’s important that the State Party has something to do for those people who fall through the Legislative District cracks.

The Party already does big statewide events well. We have maybe half a dozen events a year which elected officials attend and talk with people and answer questions, i.e. the Crab Feed and PCO Training coming up in February. We do two major trainings a year, one of which is in Eastern Washington.

We still need to create more venues for people to plug into. The Howard Dean campaign used the Meetup forum well. Perhaps we can create a venue where people can help develop the Party platform through something like the Meetup process. 


Q: Why should you be the Chair?

PB: That good news is that we have 4 good candidates this year. We are all friends. WE are saying a lot of the same things. The issues are not that different. We all want greater field operations between elections, better communications and more involvement in Eastern Washington. We want to figure out ways to get more people to participate.

I’ve proven I can do this. I’m really good at tactics and tactics are important.


Q: How would you involve the other candidates if you win?

PB: I’ve always brought the other candidates from any race into the process to do whatever they want to do. I will meet with each of them and listen to them about the issues they want to address.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 28, 2005 at 07:30 AM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Girls' State (?)

Newsweek has an article this week headlined "Welcome to Girls' State" that talks about the success of women at all levels of Washington state politics.

Gregoire's victory makes Washington—at least for now—the first state to have a woman in the statehouse and two in the U.S. Senate, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell. They are not anomalies in Washington: Gregoire, Murray and Cantwell, all Democrats, are creatures of a political culture that has produced greater electoral gains for women per capita than any state in the country—ranging from school boards and city councils all the way up. National groups are studying the state's political farm system in hopes of replicating it elsewhere. "Washington has normalized the whole idea of women leading," says Marie Wilson, of the White House Project, an organization promoting women's political involvement.

Despite the incredibly demeaning and sexist headline, it's nice to see Washington being recognized for its progressive values. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 27, 2005 at 07:12 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Kat Overman - Candidate for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

Kat_overmanKat Overman is passionate about rebuilding the Washington State Democratic Party through grassroots organizing.  She links the necessity for optimal voter data information with active on-the-ground recruitment.  She is the second of the four candidates for Party Chair whom we recently interviewed. 

Read on for the full interview.  Or you can check out our recent interview with Greg Rodriguez.  Stay tuned for upcoming inteviews with Bill Phillips and incumbent Chair Paul Berendt.

Q: What have you been doing to revitalize the Democratic Party in this state?

KO: I’ve been involved in the Party from many angles.  I’ve managed campaigns; I’ve done media coordination, political consulting, lobbying, fund-raising, mass mailing and volunteer coordination.  I co-founded a political club, the Possession Sound Democratic Club; I’ve been the Political Organizer of the King County Labor Council and most recently I walked 21 precincts to get Mike Sells elected Representative to the Legislature from the 38th District.


Q: How would you sum up what you did or learned?

KO: I learned how little we know about voters in this state. The lists were terrible; the information was no good.  The technology for this state has to be updated. 


Q: What would you do as State Chair?

KO: I plan to do one-on-one rebuilding.  There is a lot of grunt work that needs to be done.  We need to make use of the lists from the Kerry and Dean and Kucinich campaigns and everyone else.  We need to give individuals their own “garden to tend”, a small chunk where they can get to know the people and knock on their doors when they are home and talk with them and see what is important to them.

I want to be able to take the issues and information and get it out to people across the state.  We need to keep those new people involved and active.  There were 1000 people working Snohomish County this time out.  If they stay active, when the next election comes around, we will know who’s out there and what they think.

We also need to get funding to have an office in Eastern Washington.  I think it should be in Moses Lake - that’s the heart of the Hispanic Community.  We have to reach out to that community.  We need be bilingual; to have all our literature translated into Spanish and printed so people can use it.


Q: Why should you be the Chair?

KO:  I am passionate about rebuilding the Party here.  I am willing to listen and work with people all over the state.


Q: How would you involve the other candidates if you win?

KO: I’ve got a good picture of what each of the other candidates is most interested in and I would utilize their knowledge and passion.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 26, 2005 at 02:00 PM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bill Phillips - Candidate for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

Bill_phillipsBill Phillips is focused like a laser on the importance of honing the right messages as a means of winning elections for Democrats.  He speaks as articulately as anyone on the national stage about how to do that.  This is the third of the four candidates running for Chair whom we have interviewed.   

Read on for the full interview.  Or check out our recent interviews with other candidates Greg Rodriguez and Kat Overman.  Tomorrow we'll have our interview with incumbent Paul Berendt.


Q: What have you been doing to revitalize the Democratic Party in this state?

BP: I came to this state in 1993 after working in Democratic politics in Louisiana.  I was VP of the LSU College Democrats and then a statewide organizer for the College Democrats.  I learned how to take people out of the realm of spectator and move them into the realm of active participant. 

That’s also where I learned about message.  In 1991 I defeat David Duke.  As Democrats, we struggled to get our message out.  We had to find something that worked to move our numbers against Duke but didn’t violate our Democratic principles.

I moved to Washington State in 1993, was active in several campaigns and became Chair of the 21st

Legislative District in 2002. In that role I focused on building a bench of new leaders and developing messages that work.  Last year I was on the Snohomish County Steering Committee for the Gregoire campaign.


Q: How would you sum up what you did or learned?

BP: The focus has to be on ‘message, message, message’.  We need a message that resonates in the entire state.  The Republicans have built up Red walls around our Blue Towers.  We’ve tried to build those towers higher but it doesn’t always work.  In the 21st century we need to dismantle that Red wall. 

The Governor’s race is an example.  It should not have been that close.  I know that the State Party could have done a better job of reaching out to Independents. 


Q: What would you do as State Chair?

BP: I would start by establishing a physical presence in Eastern Washington.  I would also take advantage of the new people who’ve just become involved, listening to them, valuing their opinions and their participation. 

I want us to focus on local races in the off-years and build a bench of Democrats on the school boards, in the city council, as mayors.

Then I want to make sure everyone is trained and has a role. We need really good PCO training.  We don’t win without good PCO’s.  I also want a paid Party representative at every meeting in the State; someone who will be there to listen and observe; someone who can call me at a moment’s notice for a decision or opinion. 


Q:  Why should you be the Chair?

BP: First off, I’m a Vince Lombardi Democrat.  I believe that winning is everything.  Next,
being from Louisiana, I speak Southern.  I know how to communicate with the folks who aren’t always with us.  And, I will be the most accessible, communicative Chair in state history.


Q:  How would you involve the other candidates if you win?

BP: If I win, I would like all of the other candidates involved.  I have roles in mind for each of them, things they would be really good at but I also want to hear from them of course.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 26, 2005 at 12:48 PM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

Seattle Weekly's Investing for Change

The Seattle Weekly has published my new story, Investing for Change, in which I share my recent exploration to re-allocate my investments for a healthier society. If the lesson of the 2004 election is that the facts don't matter to half the country, then we have to find other ways to create change.

On the surface, George W. Bush may be a likable guy - but there's never been a more obvious contradiction between his professed values and the anecdote I describe about his EPA revoking regulations on rat poison manufacturers which has led to a record epidemic of 50,000 sick children in 2004.

Read the full story. Please post your comments below.

If you're in Seattle, I encourage you to visit the Seattle Democracy School Web site to learn more about an upcoming lecture I'm co-hosting Thursday, February 10, 2005: "Old Stories, New Struggles: Transforming the Work of People Beguiled by the Corporate State" with Richard Grossman and Thomas Linzey.

Posted by Jeff on January 25, 2005 at 10:28 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Greg Rodriguez - Candidate for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

Greg_rodriguezGreg Rodriguez is passionate about becoming Chair and using that position to get the state Party running smoothly.  He is the first of the four candidates for Washington State Democratic Party Chair we interviewed.  Read on for the full interview, and if you have questions or comments, feel free to post them below... who knows, maybe Greg will even jump in and answer them himself!

Check back in later this week for interviews with Kat Overman, Bill Phillips and incumbent Chair Paul Berendt.

Q: What have you been doing to revitalize the Democratic Party in this state?

GR: Most recently I've been Chair of the King County Democratic Party.  I was in charge of financial operations for two years before that.  In both roles, I streamlined operations.  I have a background in operations and I'm compulsive about efficiency.

So we got the King County financial structure in good working order and then did the same with the technology systems.  We developed a good web presence and focused on getting accurate data in our databases.  We trained the staff and did good caucus training.  We were one of the first to institute an email alert system.  That's old hat now but it wasn't then.


Q: How would you sum up what you did or learned?

GR: In King County, we got everything running like clockwork.  We built a base and established a direction for where the County Party would go.


Q:  What would you do as State Chair?

GR: We need to approach this in a much more businesslike fashion.  We need people who can build a team and bridge different agendas. People have different skills; let's put that to work

I see the state Party providing the resources: training, messaging and techniques, much like a franchise.  The different county Parties can make use of that as they like.  In addition, the State Party will develop an on-going statewide field operation, increasing our presence in areas we haven't been in before.

We need to think like a business.  That means having a business plan.  Then we think like a business.  How do we grow our business? We take our safe blue areas and expand those.  We keep people engaged.  People are dying to have something to do.  We need to fund leadership training.

The Republicans started doing all this thirty years ago.  It shouldn't take us that long because we've laid the groundwork and we have what they did as a model. 

We also need better caucus training.  Last year the State provided a training video for the different counties and legislative districts. In King County, we developed a PowerPoint presentation to complement that and gave it to the other Democratic organizations.  I went out myself and did about 15 trainings based on the video and the PowerPoint presentations.  It was extremely successful.

We need to do the same thing with all aspects of field operations.  We can do very simple trainings to get people involved on an on-going basis -- things like how to write a letter to the editor, which issues are important on the state level, on the national level.  We can do regular messaging across the state.

Lastly, we need to develop alliances with other progressive organizations.  There is change afoot and we all need to be a part of it.   


Q:  Why should you be the Chair?

GR: This will take someone with management abilities, someone willing to work with others.  That's me.

Q:  How would you involve the other candidates if you win?

GR: I would seek out the other candidates for their input and utilize their ideas to make this Party stronger.  I already have strong ties with most of the candidates and would value their input.


Posted by Lynn Allen on January 25, 2005 at 04:39 PM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

Election Reform Town Meeting

I thought this was worth posting - it's from Bob Ferguson, the County Council member who took out an encumbent by knocking on lots and lots of doors...

Dear Neighbor:

To discuss needed election reform, please attend my town meeting with Dean Logan, Director of King County Elections:

Thursday, January 27, 2005 

7:00 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.

Maple Leaf Lutheran Church

10005 - 32nd   Avenue Northeast

The ongoing gubernatorial race has placed a spotlight on the election process in our state.  I am committed to improving the current election process implemented by King County Elections and will work this year on necessary election reform.  My first step is bringing election information to North Seattle residents to hear your feedback.

I hope you can attend!



Bob Ferguson
King County Councilmember | District 2
Metropolitan King County Council
ph: 206.296.1002 | fax: 206.296.0198 


Posted by Jeff on January 24, 2005 at 04:55 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Introducing Tales of Change: An audio blog of people making positive changes in their community

Today, we launched Tales of Change, an audio blog, which offers hour long casual interviews with real people making positive change in their community.

The first interview is with Steve Van Dyke, founder of Timebucks.com. We spent time talking with Steve about Timebucks: What is it? Who should use it? How long has he been working on it? How will it change society? And, what kind of sacrifices do you have to make to work on a project like this? Go here to download the mp3.

Tales of Change encourages people around the world (including Seattle and Washington state) to contribute interviews of change makers in their communities. E-mail proposed submissions to Jeff.

Tales of Change will also rely on donations to support bandwidth needs as it grows. You can donate with the button below.

Posted by Jeff on January 24, 2005 at 12:31 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 23, 2005

Eating Close to Home

Elisa Murray at Northwest Environment Watch  takes note of Brian Haliwell's new book Eat Here: Reclaiming Homegrown Pleasures in a Global Supermarket, and two of Washington sustainable agriculture groups that are helping us make the transition to buying more sustainably: Seattle Tilth and Farming and the Environment.  Looks like good reading -- and good eating.

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 23, 2005 at 09:47 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Good Candidates, Good Ideas - Interviews with Candidates for Washington State Democratic Party Chair

I interviewed the four candidates for Chair of the Democratic Party in Washington State and I'll post those interviews one at a time over this next week. I was impressed. I asked them about their ideas for revitalizing the Party and left information about who is endorsing them and what they’ve done in their political lives for others to provide. The 46th District Democrats, in particular, have a thorough set of interviews on their site.

All four are focused on how to make use of what they’ve learned both from this last election cycle and from their years working in the Party.  Here's the short version.  Check back over the next few days for the full interviews.

Paul Berendt has been Chair of the Washington State Democrats for the last ten years and has seen and made a lot of changes during that time. He carries both the institutional history and the institutional baggage of being in that role for that period of time. He understands that people have changed their relationship to the Party. They want to be more involved. They want greater control over the decision of the Party and more input into what it stands for.

Kat Overman has a wealth of varied political experience and is currently Legislative Assistant to State Representative Mike Sells of the 38th District. She is passionate about updating the Party’s databases and about grassroots campaigning. She suggests finding local Democrats who can “tend their own little garden” of people in their neighborhood and thus rebuild the Party across the state from the ground up.

Greg Rodriquez, most recently the Chair of the King County Democrats, wants to approach running the Party in a much more businesslike fashion. He wants to get everything running like clockwork as he was able to do with the King County Democratic Club. He sees the need for building a team in the State Party and building alliances with other state progressive organizations. He sees what the Republicans have done over the last thirty years and thinks we can catch up in a relatively short time.

Bill Phillips
focuses on “message, message, message.” He talks about the Republicans’ red walls and our blue Towers and the need to dismantle those red walls by communicating messages that move Independent and moderate Republican voters but doesn’t violate our Democratic principles. Coming from Louisiana, Bill says he speaks “Southern” and can communicate with voters who are not always with us.   

I don’t know any of these folks well and don’t know if they have the tactical ability to do what they say they want to do. The people in the Democratic State Committee do however know them and will, I trust, be voting accordingly.

That will happen on January 29th in Olympia at the annual reorganization meeting of the Washington State Democratic Party. A slate of officers for 2005-2007 will be elected after giving presentations to the 176 electors – the state committee folks from each county and each legislative district.

Once the Chair is elected, or reelected as the case may be, our job starts. We cannot leave the important business of running the Democratic Party to a small group of people.  The new Chair's success will depend on our on-going involvement and on that person's ability to keep the other candidates involved as well.

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 21, 2005 at 04:21 PM in Inside Baseball, Interviews | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Clearing out the dead wood

Evergreen Politics ally Kari Chisholm takes note of Amy Sullivan's article "Fire the Consultants" in this month's Washington Monthly, in which she argues that Democrats have consistently failed to fire consultants who consistently fail to win.

The article leads with some bashing of some of the star losers of the Democratic consulting firmament, but more interesting is Sullivan's discusison of some of the underlying structural reasons why this happens:

...Democratic operatives rising—or muscling their way—up to the level of their incompetence happens for a simple reason: The consultants are filling a vacuum. After all, someone has to formulate the message that a candidate can use to win the voters' support. Conservatives have spent 30 years and billions of dollars on think tanks and other organizations to develop a set of interlinked policies and language that individual Republican candidates and campaigns can adopt in plug-and-play fashion. Liberals are far behind in this message development game.

Indeed, most Democratic elected officials have been running recently on warmed-up leftovers from the Clinton brain trust, ideas which were once innovative but are now far from fresh. With little else to go on, consultants—many of whom came to prominence during the Clinton years—have clung to old ideas and strategies like security blankets. “Democratic consultants are being asked to fill a role they're not suited to,” says Simon Rosenberg, head of the New Democratic Network, “to come up with ideas and electoral strategy in addition to media strategy.”

Sullivan astutely observes how Republicans are thinking different by giving "their best young strategists chances to run the biggest national races."

While Democrats have permitted a Washington consultancy class to become comfortably entrenched, Republicans have effectively begun to pension off their own establishment. “The D.C. consultants for the GOP have their list of clients, but they're definitely on the outside looking in,” Chuck Todd told me. “The Bush people have been very careful to give them work…but they're not in the inner circle.” In 2004, seasoned Washington media strategist Alex Castellanos paid the bills with a handful of safe congressional races and a few unsuccessful primary challengers. Meanwhile, nearly every tight Senate race (North Carolina, Alaska, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Florida) was handled by a Tampa-based firm, The Victory Group....

In all likelihood, there is another Karl Rove or James Carville out in the Democratic hinterlands, who ought to be playing essential roles in the most important races.... But any new talent will likely remain on the national margins—running races for Congress and judgeships—until someone breaks up the consultant oligarchy.

These dynamics definitely operate at the state/regional scales as well, and not just in political candidate consulting.  Who are our bright young stars?  Sullivan suggests that Paul Goodwin and Amy Simon, who helped Washington state Dems take back the legislature, might be the kind of talent we should be nuturing.  Are there any Washington state political consultants who just can't win and oughta stop getting hired?

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 21, 2005 at 11:17 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

This Weekend's Pick: Seattle Environmental Film Festival

Looking for something good to do this weekend? [Hey, aren't we all?  -- Ed.]  Why not check out the Seattle Environmental Film Festival?

The folks at Hazel Wolf Environmental Film Network have been putting together a great environmental film festival out at Sleeping Lady in Leavenworth for the past six years. I went about three years ago, and really enjoyed it.  (Although it was definitely more dominated by filmmakers than activists -- perhaps not surprising given the remote location and expense of staying at Sleeping Lady.)  This year, it finally occurred to them to bring the festival to Seattle as well. 

Here's the scoop:

When: Friday, Jan. 21st from 6 - 10pm and Saturday, Jan. 22nd from 10am - Midnight
Where: The Mountaineers, 300 Third Ave W, Seattle, WA 98119
Tickets: $15 for a single session, $25 for the Full Day Saturday, and $40 for the Full Festival. Mountaineers member, student and low income rates are also available.
Box Office: 206-284-6310; Tickets may also be purchased at the door. 

Explore the magic and power of utilizing film to spread environmental messages and encourage environmental activism. Be inspired by documentaries from the Northwest and around the world, covering a wide array of topics such as agriculture, consumerism, activism and global warming. Join one of the two free (!) workshops about cost-effective production of environmental media or just simply mingle with people who share your thoughts and concerns. Whether you are a student or an educator, a businessperson or a scientist, an activist or simply a concerned citizen, SEFF aims to entertain and inspire.

More information and a complete schedule at http://www.hazelfim.org/seff.html.



Posted by Jon Stahl on January 20, 2005 at 09:10 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting article on the Arts in Washington State

I really appreciated the uniqueness of Roger Downey's well-written thoughts on the Arts scene in Seattle and Washington state in this week's Seattle Weekly:

But that may be exactly the reason we don't seem to be able to break out of the vicious complacency-or- crisis circle. We've forgotten, or been taught to forget, that whatever its social or spiritual value, art is a business like any other. When a fine restaurant closes its doors, we may regret its passing, but we don't try to set up an endowment to keep it open; when a plumber goes out of business, we assume the plumber must have ignored the bottom line and hit the Yellow Pages to look for another.

Even individual artists are expected to live by the economic rules that govern all the rest of us: Friends might throw a rent party for someone who's in danger of losing the lease on a studio, but not an annual campaign with mailings and phone banks. Not year after year. Somehow only arts organizations are allowed to claim immunity from the laws of financial gravity; for them, there's no connection between supply and demand, balanced budgets are for profiteers and sissies, and water runs uphill when we tell it to.


If the unthinkable should happen—if against all odds one or more of our big arts organizations should actually fold—it would be a grievous blow to our civic pride. The embarrassment caused by the opening and speedy closing of that aimless exercise in arts wanna-be, the Bellevue Art Museum, gives only a faint notion of the impact on our civic pretensions. But beyond red faces, how much would it matter? A great deal to a few, most of all the artists newly unemployed; to many more, a regrettable reduction in the agreeable routine of middle-class life; and to a great many, very nearly nothing at all. When arts organizations fold, art doesn't fold with them. Art continues to be made, perhaps in a quite different form, by quite a different kind of artist; to be made without subsidy from anyone but the artists themselves, who can no more stop making it than a spider can stop spinning webs. Art is not something that happened a year or a thousand years ago, something that needs to be put in a protective box, explained, and worshiped from a distance. It's something that's happening right now, in studios, in clubs, in front of open mikes, and on coffeehouse napkins. It's not up on a hill, it's under our noses. If you want some, buy some. Happy New Year.

Posted by Jeff on January 20, 2005 at 11:21 AM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Viadcut Tunnel Funding Impossible


Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said yesterday it will be "very, very impossible" for the federal government to dedicate $1 billion for building a replacement for the Alaskan Way Viaduct, presenting a major roadblock for Mayor Greg Nickels and others who support an ambitious $4.1 billion tunnel project.

Murray, the senior Democrat on the committee responsible for transportation funding, said Nickels and his allies must reassess their "pie-in-the-sky" assumptions in an era of tight federal budgets and cutthroat competition for limited transportation dollars.

"We've all got to really sit back and be realistic about what the expectations are and how the state can step up to fund these projects," Murray said yesterday during a session with reporters. more

Kudos to PeoplesWaterfront for keeping the issue of the no-rebuild option on the radar. They need $'s to keep their work going - please consider giving, I did.

Now, who's going to bitch-slap the Sonics and Howard Schultz for their pie-in-the-sky arena plans?

Posted by Jeff on January 20, 2005 at 11:19 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Our Very Own Republican Noise Machine

Driving home from the Inaugural events in Olympia last week, I saw the obnoxious flashing billboard north of Fife. “Dead people vote. Soldiers don’t. Go to revotewa.com.”

My first thought was “Get a life! It’s over.”   

But clearly the Republicans have different ideas. Undeterred by the certification of the Secretary of State, the insistence by the county auditors that all laws had been followed to the letter, and the final certification by the Legislature last Tuesday, the public campaign from the Republicans to de-legitimize the election continues.   (See Carla's posting over at Preemptive Karma for details on just how unfounded the Republican allegations are.)   

What is this? Democratic AND Republican vote watchers were in every county every step of the way. Yes, we need voting reform just as the entire country does. It’s a national disgrace.  And it was the first item Chris Gregoire called for in her Inaugural Address.  But I think it's more than that.

Could it be that Washington State is just next on the Republican hit list? These guys -- and by this I mean the national Republican operatives who are camped out in Bellevue -- play by a set of rules that Democrats still don’t understand. Their tactics are aimed at keeping their opponents off-guard. They do not care much about democracy or the rule of law. They are out to win.

Democrats in Texas had no idea what was coming when Karl Rove engineered George Bush’s win in 1994 against the popular Ann Richards with whisper campaigns about her being a lesbian or lies about her failure to stem crime in the state. Read "Bush’s Brain: How Karl Rove Make George W. Bush Presidential" to get the whole picture and to understand the tactics of this new breed of Republicans led by Karl Rove. It is not pretty. They still weren’t prepared in Texas when Tom DeLay forced through the mid-decade re-districting plan that cost Democrats five Congressional seats in Texas last fall.

And we know that Democrats didn’t realize what a recall of Gray Davis in California might mean or how to fight it.   

Thus far Democrats at the state level are even more clueless about Republican tactics than national Democrats. We need a national Democratic SWAT team that can come into the states on a moment’s notice once we realize that national Republican operatives have arrived.

So why Washington State and why Chris Gregoire in particular?

"Bush’s Brain" describes how Rove attacks any up and coming Democratic politician early to sideline them from state or national prominence. Until this close race, Gregoire was seen as a potential national star.  Now she has a big hump to get over to reach that status again.

But it is more than that.  Gregoire is a closet progressive in a state with progressive leanings. I worked full-time as a volunteer on her campaign last year and this only occurred to me now. She doesn’t present herself as a progressive, unlike Ron Sims for example. I doubt she would even consider herself one. But her agenda is unrelentingly progressive and she has been very effective. In particular, as Attorney General, over and over again Chris went after major corporations and the federal government to hold them accountable and prevent them from taking advantage of regular folks.

With a Democratic Legislature to back her up, Gregoire could be a force to be reckoned with and this state could show the nation what a progressive alternative to the Republican business-run government can look like. 

No wonder national money from business groups flowed into the state to stop her. No wonder the national Republicans are strategizing behind the scenes for Dino Rossi and Chris Vance and whipping up emotions through talk radio shows and flashy billboards.  This is the great Republican noise machine in action, designed to distract us and keep us from making government work in this state.

Let's keep that from happening. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 19, 2005 at 11:07 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Learn to lobby your legislators -- January 23rd, Olympia

Lots of people think that lobbying is something that the alligator skin shoe crowd does over three-martini lunches and in smoke-filled rooms.  And Olympia is definitely crawling with professional lobbyists.   But one of the most powerful forces in the state capitol is the "citizen lobbyist" -- an ordinary Joe or Jane like you and me who goes down to meet with their legislator about something that's important to 'em.

I can already hear you asking, "How do I learn to be a citizen lobbyist, Jon?"  That's where our friends at the Sierra Club come in.  Contrary to popular misconception, nonprofits (including both C3s and C4s like the Sierra Club) can spend their dollars teaching folks how to win friends and influence legislation down in Olympia.

Here's the scoop:

Sierra Club Environmental briefing/lobbying training
Sunday, January 23rd, 1:00-5:00 pm in Olympia

At the workshop you will learn more about: The Sierra Club Legislative Liaison program. How to make good policy happen through the  legislative process, and how to build a relationship with your senator and representatives to encourage them to support the environment.

Space is limited. To register, please contact staff member Craig Engelking at (360) 561-7701 or email craig.engelking@comcast.net or Chapter Legislative Chair Holly Forrest at 360 891-0929 or holly.forrest@cascade.sierraclub.org.

You'll also get an earful about the Priorities for a Healthy Washington, the four environmental bills the Sierra Club (and other enviros) are focusing on moving through Olympia this year.

(UPDATE: clarified that 501c3 nonprofits CAN lobby. Thanks to commenter Dan for picking up on my ambigious/lazy turn or phrase.  For much, much more on nonprofits and lobbying see the Alliance for Justice website.)

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 17, 2005 at 06:16 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

Climate Change is a Moral Issue

My friend Bill Bradlee works for a small nonprofit called The Regeneration Project.  They work at the intersection of the faith, green power and environmental communities through their "Interfaith Power and Light" initiative [great name --Ed.] which is promoting green power through communities of faith. In a short essay entitled "Global Warming is a Moral Value, Too", the Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of The Regeneration Project, eloquently connects climate change to the core values of her Episcopalian faith, and asks some important questions about the larger "moral values" discussion in contemporary politics:

What many of us find disturbing in the latest discussion of "moral values" is the simplistic notion that values have only to do with two issues: same-sex relationships and abortion. We hope that we are not alone in saying that the values most Christians aspire to are justice,peace, love, honesty and the integrity of creation. These are the values Jesus taught, along with inclusion, not exclusion; acceptance, not discrimination. Where have those values gone?

How did "political values" get confused with "religious values?" The way we treat each other, the way we live our lives and the kind of environment we leave to our children are the real moral values.

Although it may be expressed differently, every faith has a mandate to serve one another and care for creation. Taking care of our land, air and water was left out of the recent presidential debate. It was left out of the "values" discussion, yet it affects every living thing. We propose that as the faith community redefines values over the next four years we integrate care for creation into our agenda. It is increasingly clear that how we respond will decide the future of the human race. It is the most moral value facing us all.

Update: fixed the darn blockquoting.

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 16, 2005 at 09:06 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

The Challenge - Dedication to Revitalizing Our Democracy

After the debacle of the 2002 mid-term elections, I began to talk about how the right-wing Republicans had rebuilt their party starting in 1964 after the huge Goldwater loss. It had taken them 38 years of brick by brick building but they pulled out a big win and they had the structure and organization and vision to continue. I began to see that progressive Democrats would have to do the same and that we would each have to dedicate a portion of the rest of our lives to this task.


Many people working together with similar ideas about this revitalization enabled the Democratic-leaning organizations to achieve relative financial parity and the beginning of structured grassroots organization for the first time in decades.  


Yet we still lost despite all the money, all the new energy, all the expectation and hope. 


In the cold aftermath, along with the confusion and anger, there remains a resolve that has the potential of becoming that dedication. If it coalesces properly, that dedication can carry us to a new national majority. To pull it off, we need to re-capture the national conversation, focus it on the real values of progressive democracy and use it to create a moral consensus. This will require a common understanding of our core democratic/progressive values, a willingness to listen to and dialogue with others of varying political persuasions and an ability to frame the discussion to focus on the real issues. 


It will also have to be driven by a conviction that this all matters.  It is conviction that will drive our ability to remember how to individually and collectively learn and relearn to do those things we need to do to revitalize our democracy and recapture the national discussion. We have left these tasks to our Party and elected officials and we know now that it was not sufficient. Many more of us have to be and remain involved.


So, I issue a public challenge. As a new writer on a new progressive political blog, I ask, “Are you willing to dedicate a portion of the rest of your life to rebuilding democracy in this state and in this country in whatever way best suits you? Are you willing to work with others to make that happen and not leave it only to the leaders? Are you willing to build the influence muscles that allow you to be successful in this endeavor?”  


For my part, I’ve taken on the task of chronicling that rebuilding in this state and nudging it forward in whatever ways that a measure of public recognition via this blog and a predilection for bridge-building and networking gives me. I will be focusing a lot on the revitalization of the Democratic Party in this state because, flaws and all, I think it is still our best vehicle for advancing a progressive agenda. To that end, I am beginning by interviewing the candidates for Chair of the Washington State Democratic Party and will be posting their thoughts about the revitalization of the Party here over the next week.  

Posted by Lynn Allen on January 13, 2005 at 08:55 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

Priorities for a Healthy Washington

I'm pleased to announce the launch of Priorities for a Healthy Washington. It's the common legislative agenda of Washington State's leading environmental organizations.  This year's Priorities are:

  • Cleaner Cars, Cleaner Air – adopting California’s best-in-the-nation auto emissions standards.
  • Green Buildings – committing the state to making sure all of its new state buildings meet the LEED Silver standard for high performance green buildings.
  • Sound Solutions – saving Hood Canal and Puget Sound from water pollution
  • Banning Toxic Flame Retardants – getting some of the most dangerous toxic chemicals out of our bodies, our food supply and our wildlife.

Throughout the legislative session, Priorities for a Healthy Washington will be sending a targeted, timely series of updates and alerts at critical moments in the legislative process for each of these bills.  Why not take a moment to sign up?

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 10, 2005 at 09:40 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Bush's Seattle

I was asked by four people for money within 3 minutes on 15th Avenue in Seattle. Coming out of the drug store, there was a man who seemed like an addict - he asked me for change. Crossed the street, a homeless teen with one-eye closed shut asked me for change. Crossed another street, another kid asked, "What about me?" Then came up to a Real Change vendor. Later, left a coffee shop - the same addict was there again - he asked me for change again and was surprised when I told him I already gave him some.

I used to live in this neighborhood - 15th was sort of upscale - what does it say about our quality of life when we're constantly solicited walking down the street? What does it say about the sad state of affairs for these folks? Do we really want to live in a society where we've grown so used to this that we just ignore them as standard behavior - and allow their struggle to fade into the background of our mind?

This is Bush's Seattle. But it's also Mayor Nickel's Seattle - he wants to have us taxpayers build a new Key Arena for billionaire Howard Schultz. It's also the Seattle Times' Seattle - they want taxpayers to fund that arena too. And, it's our Seattle - what are we going to do about it?

Posted by Jeff on January 10, 2005 at 09:27 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

On contested elections

A few quotes from recent debates about a contested election:

[They] have replaced statecraft with stagecraft, substance with style, and not a very fashionable style at that. The petitioners claim that they act on behalf of disenfranchised voters, but no such voter disenfranchisement occurred in this election of 2004....

Everybody knows it. The voters know it, the candidates know it, the courts know it, and the evidence proves it....

This is a direct attack to undermine our democracy by using a procedure to undermine the constitutional election that was just held.

[W]hat we are witnessing here today is a shame. A shame. The issues at stake in this petition are gravely, gravely serious. This is not just having a debate. But the specific charges, as any objective observer must acknowledge, are not. That is because the purpose of this petition is not justice but noise.

Could this be Governor Gregoire or Paul Berendt?  No, it was Republican Majority Leader Tom Delay talking about the futile Democratic challenge to the certification of Ohio's electoral votes.

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 7, 2005 at 08:57 AM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

Legislative Workshop -- Tomorrow!

Washington Environmental Council, in partnership with many of Washington's leading environmental groups, is hosting its annual Legislative Workshop on Saturday at REI in Seattle.   This is a great opportunity for anyone who cares about state environmental policy to hear about what's likely to happen in the upcoming legislative session and to get involved in the effort to pass laws that protect our health and our environment.

Saturday, January 8, 2005
9:30am - 1:30pm
Seattle REI

WEC says:

The 2005 legislative session is just around the corner...

Attending WEC 's annual Legislative Workshop is a great way to prepare. We'll hear from legislators, environmental lobbyists, and members of the media and others regarding the environmental community's Priorities for a Healthy Washington. These top issues will push for: cleaner air, saving Puget Sound, more efficient/sustainable buildings, and a toxic free legacy for our kids.

The workshop is free, but if you would like lunch and the 2005 Environmental Briefing Book, the cost is $15.  Space is limited, so please RSVP early.

You can register online at the WEC website.

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 6, 2005 at 12:24 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 05, 2005

CNN Cans Tucker Carlson; Jon Stewart gets the kill

This is not so local, but will surely be a delight and relief to progressive-minded Washingtonians. CNN is axing "Crossfire" and has canned host Tucker Carlson.

[Chief executive of CNN-U.S. Jonathan] Klein on Wednesday told Carlson, one of the four "Crossfire" hosts, that CNN would not be offering him a new contract.

The bow-tied wearing conservative pundit got into a public tussle last fall with comic Jon Stewart, who has been critical of cable political programs that devolve into shoutfests.

"I guess I come down more firmly in the Jon Stewart camp," Klein told The Associated Press.

He said all of the cable networks, including CNN, have overdosed on programming devoted to arguing over issues. Klein said he wants more substantive programming that is still compelling.

"I doubt that when the president sits down with his advisers they scream at him to bring him up to date on all of the issues," he said. "I don't know why we don't treat the audience with the same respect."

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 5, 2005 at 09:34 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Insensitive PI Photo Galleries

PiI'm not sure what point the Seattle PI was trying to make here between the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model Search and the Tsunami Aftermath, but I assume I'm supposed to be turned on by one or the other galleries.

The young women of Seattle deserve better than this.

Posted by Jeff on January 5, 2005 at 12:02 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

Is it time to fire Greg Nickels?

This is a Seattle Times' journalist answer to a reader query...the same piece notes that it's Nickels who is working with the Sonics on this plan:

According to Sonics executives, average (or as you put it "middle-class") fans would benefit from the KeyArena expansion and renovation.

Here's how: The expansion would make the arena concourse much wider. This would allow for more concessions, which, in theory, would make lines shorter so that fans would miss less action when going for food and drink. The wider concourse would also allow fans to move around the arena faster. This might also save them from mssing action.

In addition, by expanding the arena and retiring the arena's $60 million debt, Sonics' executives say the team could be profitable and city-owned KeyArena would not continue to be a drain on the city's budget, as it has been in recent years. The Arena has lost millions of dollars in recent years, which translates to fewer city services.

Finally, Sonics' officials say expanding the arena and making the team profitable would allow the team's local owners to remain in control of the NBA franchise. That's the best way, they say, of insuring that the team stays in Seattle.

It reads a bit like the twilight zone for taxpayers!

Posted by Jeff on January 4, 2005 at 04:20 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Stadium taxes might never expire

Isn't that a tax INCREASE?

Posted by Jeff on January 4, 2005 at 12:05 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Feb. 10, 2005: Transforming the Work of People Beguiled by the Corporate State

Save the date for an important and exciting lecture coming in February to Seattle...

Old Stories, New Struggles:
Transforming the Work of People Beguiled by the Corporate State

Richard Grossman, Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy
Thomas Linzey, Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund

When: 7:00 P.M., Thursday evening, February 10th, 2005

Where: Trinity United Methodist Church
    6512 23rd Ave. NW in Ballard

    Free or $5 suggested donation if you can afford it


    Over the past century, endless single-issue civic activism has enabled the few to rule the many more efficiently.

    We the People have not been organizing to make the ground rules for governing. That’s what corporate strategists have been doing.

    Corporate strategists don’t see the cosmos – let alone bluebirds, oatmeal, pigs, chickens, rivers, genes, work, children, money – like the rest of us do. So if you are an Earthling who senses the nation’s ground rules are rancid, you’re not crazy. Lethal, rights-denying and destructive mastery by the corporate few is certifiably legal…and culturally privileged.

  Violated, intimidated and beguiled long before either Bush, majorities have resorted to pleading with agents of our corporate state for less usurpation, less destruction. With few exceptions, people in citizen organizations large and small have truckled to historical illusions, illogics and lawyering of this corporate culture.

    The corporate class keeps dishing out more of the same. Its
champions say there’s only one path to security, liberty, progress,
jobs, health, money, food…that every community – and the whole world –
had better all hop to.

    In the 1880s and 1890s, farmers, workers and intellectuals came
together as Populists to stop the corporate state and corporate culture
emerging out of the original slave state and slave culture.

    Populists taught one another to see by learning to trust their
collective experiences. They unearthed earlier generations’ language of
democratic self-governance and rights. They acted collectively as free

    In Pennsylvania townships today, people are teaching each other to
pass laws asserting their authority to govern. When apoplectic
corporate agents lawyer up, Pennsylvanians pass more township laws
denying the corporate class. What’s going on?

    On Thursday evening, 10 February, Thomas Linzey and Richard
Grossman will speak about organizing – past present and future – to
challenge our corporate class over making the rules for making the
rules. They will tell their stories and listen to yours.

    Grossman was trained to internalize big whoppers about these United
States. After decades in single-issue struggles he co-founded the
Program on Corporations, Law & Democracy (POCLAD) in 1994. POCLAD
has been helping people to examine their internalized big whoppers in
the light of their experiences, and to learn real history. Trained by a
law school, Linzey created the Community Environmental legal Defense
Fund (CELDF) in 1995. He’s been trained by POCLAD and by helping lead
community struggles to think, see, write law and interpret the

    The lecture will be open to the public as part of Trinity United
Methodist Church’s Joy and Justice Lecture series.

    They will be in Seattle to teach a Democracy School hosted by Jeff
Reifman February 11-13, 2005. Since launching Democracy Schools in
2003, Grossman & Linzey have plunked Schools down in Chambersburg,
PA; Boston, MA; Black, Mountain, North Carolina; Santa Fe, NM;
Brattleboro, VT.

    February’s Seattle Democracy school is fully booked. We are now
taking deposits for future Democracy Schools in Seattle in April 2005
and Fall 2005. Exact dates to be determined later. We encourage people
from diverse backgrounds and all economic levels to attend. Some
scholarships are available for those in need. Space is limited. Contact
for more detail or visit

    For the national schedule of Democracy Schools, visit:

Posted by Jeff on January 4, 2005 at 12:01 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Concrete images of trees on Interstate 5

Driving north on I5 today, I saw the new conrete retaining walls actually have etchings of trees in them. They are quite attractive. It even makes the drive more pleasant. And then it hits you...

The irony of sprawl is that we have to engrave the images of forests lost to pavement in concrete walls to keep the sounds of the highway away from our homes.

Many roadside forests are already "mythical" in Washington - in many cases, they are mono-culture replanted single species forests that lack biodiversity. In other cases, they conceal massive clearcuts just out of view.

I wonder if one day there will be kids who think those concrete walls are real forests?

In Iceland, there are so few trees - most were cut down a thousand years ago - that people make pilgrimages to see them in the remote parts of the country. What passes for a forest in Iceland looks a bit like what we have around Green Lake.

How does sprawl figure into CAO?

Posted by Jeff on January 3, 2005 at 08:02 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

Dear Governor Gregoire...

First of all, congratulations on your hard-won victory.  You won fair and square, and you should be proud.  I'm really glad you hung tough in a difficult situation.  I wonder what you learned from this experience.  Here are a few insights I think you ought to take into the Governor's mansion with you:

1) The left wing of the party is your best ally in a time of need.  As David Postman's front-page story in the Seattle Times documents, it's not the centrists or the DLC that funded the hand recount.  It was  the grassroots base.  If you play to our values -- responsibility, compassion, fairness -- we can be great political friends to have.

2) Be bold.  I'm not talking Rossi/Vance shoot-your-mouth-off-to-the-media type bold.  The progressive base thinks our state has real problems -- underfunded schools, crumbling infrastructure, unaffordable health care, a deteriorating natural environment.  We know that these problems need big, smart solutions.  And we know that the biggest asset of an executive is the bully pulpit.  Our state needs you to be a bold, risk-taking, charismatic leader.  Don't pull a Gary Locke on us, trying to keep your head down and hoping for a cabinet position in 2008 if a Democrat takes back the White House.  Get out there and be the change, for a change.  A strong "hundred days" agenda would go a long way towards setting the right tone. [I feel a follow-up post coming on -- Ed.]

3) Be nice, cooperative and hit back hard.  Go out of your way to be nice to your political opponents.  We like gracious winners.  We also like bipartisan cooperation -- but we expect you to compromise on the means, not the ends.  There should be no "compromise" when it comes to protecting our right to a clean and healthful environment, providing quality education to our kids, and great healthcare to us all.  And we expect you to hit back against people who attack you. Nobody likes a wimp -- and the Republicans are going away mad.

4) Think about how to strengthen the Democratic Party.  The fact that the Washington State Democratic Party couldn't come up with $730,000 in a pinch shows how weak it's become.  As the putative leader of the party, you should make rebuilding the party's infrastructure and grassroots organizing base a top strategic priority.  There are lots of people out here waiting to help you, some of them are even part of the party structure already.


Jon Stahl

Posted by Jon Stahl on January 2, 2005 at 07:04 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack