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March 31, 2005

High Performance Green Buildings Bill Heads for Gregoire's Desk

Good news for anyone who works in, learns in or pays the utility bills for state office buildings.  The first-in-the-nation "High Performance Green Buildings" Bill, which requires all new state buildings (including schools) over 5000 square feed to meet LEED Silver green building guidelines, passed the House and is headed for Governor Gregiore's desk.

Not only is this a big win for Washington state workers, students and taxpayers, it's a great victory for the Washington environmental community -- Green Buildings was one their four top legislative priorities for the year, and this is the first of the four priorities to make it to the Governor's desk.  Big congratulations to Becky Kelley of Washington Environmental Council, bill sponsor Erik Poulsen, and all of the other folks who worked hard behind the scenes to make this happen.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 31, 2005 at 08:19 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Sign the pledge for equality

Evergreen Politics ally Jennifer Lindenauer writes:

I have been spending a lot of time volunteering for Equal Rights Washington. ERW is a group I helped start to build political power for the LGBT [that's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered for you acronym-impaired types. --Ed.] community in Washington state. In a very short amount of time, ERW has had some amazing accomplishments. For example, we helped unseat Senator Jim Horn (R-Mercer Island) who voted against the anti-discrimination bill and as a result, helped the Democrats take control of the Senate.

We are closer than ever to passing an anti-discrimination bill that includes sexual orientation. When we pass the bill (HB 1515), our opponents will work hard to overturn that accomplishment. And many believe that Washington will be the next state to legalize marriage equality.

In order to build up momentum for this fight, Equal Rights Washington is asking supporters of equality to take a stand by taking the The Equality Pledge.

The Equality Pledge is a public declaration of your support for LGBT folks:  In return, Equal Rights Washington pledges to do all we can to keep you informed.

I'm not usually one for online petitions, but I think this one is being framed and executed well -- this is one of those issues where the "silent majority" who support equal rights for everyone can move the debate simply by standing up and being counted. 

If you feel like doing more than simply "being counted" you can:

  • Call your State Senator right now at 1-800-562-6000 where the nice operators will connect you straight up to your Senator's office and you can urge them to vote for HB1515.
  • Volunteer to phone bank in support of HB1515.

And finally, for you news hounds, ERW is doing a nice job of blogging press clips related to the anti-discrimination bill.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 29, 2005 at 08:03 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

NARAL - They've Got Our Back

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington is like a true friend who is there for us through good times and bad.  They have a long-range strategy: they keep fighting for the building blocks of women’s rights in relationship to their bodies. They think tactically: they have successfully created a grassroots network of pro-choice activists in Washington State, heavily focused on young women. They are able to respond in a crisis: they have a plan for activating people to resist the impending rash of right-wing judicial appointments. 

Even when we are going about our lives, not paying much attention, they have our back. At a time when a woman’s right to choose is under severe pressure from the religious right, the organization that NARAL has created and the strategies they have developed are more obviously important than at any time in decades.   

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington was founded in 1975 to protect and expand reproductive freedom for women in this state.  They have become the strongest grassroots network of pro-choice activists in the state.  Their mission is:

To develop and sustain a constituency that uses the political process to guarantee every woman the right to make personal decisions regarding the full range of reproductive choices, including preventing unintended pregnancy, bearing healthy children, and choosing legal abortion.

Lucky for us, they are very good at what they do. 

We have an interview with Karen Cooper, long-time Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington after the fold.

Interview with Karen Cooper, Executive Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington

Q: What are NARAL’s priorities right now?

KC: We have three priorities: 1) youth education programs, 2) dealing with Supreme Court appointments, and 3) getting the right people elected to State and National offices.

Q: Tell me about your organization and how you operate.

KC: We have close to 13,000 paid members and volunteers. There are 300,000 identified pro-choice voters in Washington and we have an email list of 20,000 whom we can activate for campaigns as we need to do so. Our job is to get people to do something they didn’t wake up this morning deciding they were going to do. We do that by managing our lists. We know what we do and we spend massive resources keeping our lists up-to-date. We use those lists to contact people and ask them to write checks or come to a meeting or rally or vote for or against a candidate.

Q: I’ve noticed that you have a lot of young women involved in your organization. That’s somewhat unusual for progressive organizations. How did you do that?

KC: In 1995, the Ms. Foundation did 25 focus groups around the country focused on women. We were invited to a briefing in Portland afterwards. What we learned made me determined to focus on recruiting and organizing young woman. For five years running we focused on youth programs and since that time it has snowballed.

Right now we are working to get the Healthy Youth Act through the Legislature.  The bills aim to create standards for sexual health education that are comprehensive and medically accurate.  We participated in sponsoring a Sex Education and Reproductive Rights Lobby Day on March 18th which drew 300 citizen lobbyists. 

Q: How did NARAL become the key pro-choice organization?

KC: Some years ago, we realized that the environment had changed and people now have more money than time so we built an organization of paid staffers and we raise funds from our members to support it.

Q: Politically, what is your focus?

KC: Our main focus is at the state level.  We will support Cantwell in 2006 and try to limit Reichart to one term but, other than that, we will focus on the state level. 

We have an elaborate process of evaluating candidates.  We endorse candidates we are favorable to and target those who oppose our policies.  Then we send out mailings, make PAC contributions, provide financial support to individual candidates, and ask our members to work on the campaigns of those candidates we support. 

Q: How do you work with other progressive organizations?  I know that you personally support Progressive Majority because that’s where I met you. 

KC: Yes, I’m on their Board.  But we work with a lot of progressive organizations.  There is a big coalition of progressive organizations that meets monthly during campaign seasons, starting in late spring of election years.  We share information on the candidates; we share our evaluations and endorsement lists and talk about the viability of the different candidates.  We want people who can win. 

Q:  What do you think about the way that some Democrats, notably Hilary Rodham Clinton, have shifted the way they are talking about choice?

KC: Marcy Blume wrote a very good guest editorial in the PI that represents my feelings quite well.   

In that editorial, she said:

“I believe it is a serious mistake to continue to stigmatize abortion and call it a “tragic” choice, one from which women are irreparably “damaged”.  Clearly our society must focus on education, self-help and concrete tools, such as effective contraception and medically accurate sex education, to help ensure that women do not become pregnant if they do not want to be.  But if they do become pregnant, we need to understand that women view their abortions as a valid choice and a survival mechanism.  We need respect, compassion and openness with the choice of abortion, not hate, violent threats and fundamentalist reprimands.”

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 29, 2005 at 07:01 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

George Lakoff in Seattle, June 17: Pre-sale tickets available now

My employer, ONE/Northwest, is among the many fine organizations co-sponsoring George Lakoff's June 17th appearance at Town Hall in Seattle.

Lakoff is a professor of linguistics at Berkeley and is enjoying a certain flavor-of-the-month status among progressives for his analysis of the ways conservatives use language to "frame" their political arguments and how progresives often fail to do this effectively.

While it's true that some have fallen into the trap of Lakoff-as-guru, I'm certain it will be worthwhile to go hear what he has to say in person.

Get your tickets now before Town Hall starts up its publicity machine.

Bonus: if you've read Lakoff, what did you think?  Is he on target or missing something important?

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 29, 2005 at 02:17 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

BIAW mulls anti-union initiative...

Labor says,  "Please, please don't throw us in the briar patch!" 

Also, does this mean that the BIAW is giving up on its plan to run a pro-sprawl initiative? 

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 29, 2005 at 07:02 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Pachamama What?

Pachamama Alliance, an organization focused on bringing forth an environmentally sustainable, spiritually fulfilling and socially just human presence on this planet, held a symposium in the Bay Area this last weekend that I attended along with about 150 other people from around the country.  The organization itself was founded ten years ago by Lynne Twist, a prime mover of the Hunger Project and the author of The Soul of Money and her husband, Bill.  They and their organization work in partnership with the Achuar people and other indigenous tribes in the Amazon region of Ecuador to aid them in protecting the rainforest and their way of life.  Pachamama is a Quechua word referring to sacred Mother Earth, all time, all space and the universe. 

Out of this partnership has come a broadened mission and the second part of their work, the part that began publicly last weekend: the work of changing the dream of the people of the North.  They say,

From the beginning, our indigenous partners have reminded us that one of the most powerful actions that can be taken in support of the rainforest and its inhabitants is to “change the dream of the North,” since it is our dream – our desires and appetites – that is driving the destruction of the rainforests around the world.  Ultimately, to assure the long-term survival of our rainforests, and indeed of the natural world and even ourselves, we need to address the core values and ways of seeing the world that are deeply imbedded in our modern worldview.

Read more here after the fold or check out their website.  And stay tuned. Those of us from Seattle who attended this will be working with others to bring a similar symposium up here sometime this year.   

I have for years grappled with integrating the seeming contradiction between my deeply felt Buddhist beliefs about lack of attachment to any particular ideas or beliefs and my passionate concern for democracy and social justice, for involvement in the political realm and for protecting the earth for those who come after. 

So, for very personal reasons, I was thrilled to hear of the symposium and even more thrilled to attend.  This is a group of people that has been infused with the sacredness of the earth, most likely from dealing in a fully respectful manner with peoples who see the world in a very different way and live that sacredness on a daily basis.  The organizers are also infused with a respect for all people – including the polluters, corrupt politicians, technocrats, and people with their head in the sands. 

In the daylong symposium, they talked about social justice, sustainability and spiritual fulfillment.  They want to be a part of bringing these three together into the public conversation, having heard so little about any of them in public discourse in this country, even in the latest election.  They want to balance the gifts of technology and modernity that the developed world brings with the gifts of connection to the earth and to community that indigenous peoples bring. 

They mentioned a rule that the Achuar people have that they will never do anything that harms future generations.  Then they shared information related to social justice and sustainability, information that we may have heard but rarely allow ourselves to take in fully.  And information that reminds us of how far away we are from the rule that the Achuar people live by. 

Here is the most chilling of the many facts they presented to help wake us up.

In the years 1968 -1970, there was the least discrepancy in wealth between the richest and the poorest peoples in this country and in all countries on earth in history.   Now, in 2005, a mere 35 years later, the discrepancy between richest and poorest people in this country and on earth is the greatest it has ever been in history.  There are 500 billionaires on earth who, together, have a combined income of the bottom half of humanity.  We as a people are going back to a feudal time.  And following that massive increased discrepancy, all the social justice indicators are going in the wrong direction: numbers of homeless people, people with health insurance and access to health care, birth rates and on . . .

Pachamama Alliance is working out a program to help wake us out of the trance of privilege we live in.  It is a worthwhile endeavor.  Anyone who would like to be a part of bringing this symposium to Seattle sometime this year can contact me.        

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 23, 2005 at 02:26 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2005

"...big legislative wins"

The Seattle Times notices that the environmental movement (and to a lesser extent, labor) is having a pretty good legislative session so far.  All four of the environmental community's legislative priorities are still alive while "business leaders are bracing for what they say could be their worst session in years." 

If you're interested in getting a few well-timed email alerts on these priority issues as the final weeks of the session unfold, you can sign up online at:



What I don't like about this article is that it plays into the bullsh*t frame of "economy vs. environment (and labor)" -- when everyone knows that a healthy environment and fair labor practices are what create a truly healthy economy. 

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 20, 2005 at 09:26 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2005

Upcoming Town Hall Meetings With Your State Legislators

Many Washington State legislators will be holding "town hall" meetings in their districts tomorrow and over the next few days.  These meetings are a great opportunity to let your legislators know what's important to you as they head into what is likely to be a tough budgeting process.

Read on for the full schedule, sorted by legislative district.  (If you're not sure what district you're in, see http://leg.wa.gov.)

1st LD

March 19
Reps. Ericks & O'Brien w/Sen. McCauliffe
10-11:30am Mountlake Terrace Library, 23300 58th Ave W, Mountlake Terrace
1-2:20pm Bothell Adult Care Center, 9929 NE 180th
3:30-5pm Cathcart Elementary School Library, 8201 188th Ave SE, Snohomish

2nd LD

March 19
Sen. Rasmussen
10:00a - 12:00p Orting High School
1:00 - 3:00p  Bethel High School
3:30 - 5:30p  Yelm Middle School

April 3
10:30am  Eatonville - Eatonville Baptist Church, 202 Eatonville Hwy E

April 9
10:30am  Orting - Assembly of God Church, 101 Corrin Ct. NW
1:30pm Graham - Graham Library, 9202 224th St. E

April 16
10:30a Yelm - Rosemont Retirement/Assisted Living Community, 215 Killian
1:30p  Roy - Roy Library and Community Center, 122 3rd St E

April 23
10:30am - Carbanato, Bridge to Hope Church, 72 Church St.

3rd LD

March 19
Reps. Wood and Ormsby
1-3p Spokane

4th LD

No Town Halls

5th LD

March 19
Reps.  Anderson & Rodne w/ Sen. Pflug
10:30-11:30am Maple Valley, Maple Valley Library, 21844 SE 248th St.
1:30 - 2:30pm Sammamish/Issaquah, Issaquah Library, 825 228th Ave
3:30-4:30pm  Snoqualmie, Snoqualmie Police Station, 34825 SE Douglas St.

6th LD

March 19
Rep. Ahern & Serben w/ Sen. Benson
10a - 12p  WSU Spokane,riverpoint Campus, Health Sciences Bldg 110A&B,
310 Riverpoint Blvd.

7th LD
No Town Halls

8th LD

March 19
Reps. Haler & Hankins w/ Sen. Delvin
9:00 - 10:00 am Prosser, Prosser City Hall, 601 7th St.
10:30-11:30am  Benton City, Benton City Community Center, 802 8th St.
1:00 - 2:00p  West Richland, West Richland Benton REA Bldg, Community
Rm, 6095 W. Van Giesen
2:30 - 3:30pm Kennewick, Kennewick City Hall Council Chambers, 210 W. 6th Ave.
4:00-5:00p  Richland, Richland City Hall Council Chambers, 505 Swift Blvd

9th LD
No Town Halls

10th LD

March 19
Reps. Bailey & Strow
9:00 a - 10:00 a  Langley,  Senior Services of Island Co., 4594 State Route 525
11:00 a - 12:00 p  Oak Harbor, Oak Harbor School District ASC Board Room, 350 S. Oak Harbor St.
2:00 - 3:00 p  Stanwood,  Stanwood Senior Center, 7430 276th St. NW
4:00 - 5:00p  Camano Island,  Camano Multi-Purpose Center, 141 N. East Camano Dr.

11th LD

March 19
Reps. Hasegawa & Hudgins
10:00-12:00pm Liquor Control Board - 44401 East Marginal Way S. Seattle, WA

12th LD
No Town Halls

13th LD
No Town Halls

14th LD
March 19

Rep. Skinner
10:30a - 12:00 p  Naches, Naches Valley Middle School, 32 Shafer Ave
2 - 3:30p  Yakima,  Harman Center, 101 N. 65th Ave

15th LD
No Town Halls

16th LD

No Town Halls

17th LD
No Town Halls

18th LD

March 19
Reps. Orcutt & Curtis w/ Sen. Zarelli
10:00 - 11:30am  Woodland, Woodland City Council Chamber, 230 Davidson Ave
1:00 - 2:30pm Hockinson/Bush Prairie, Hockinson High School, 16819 NE 159th St.

19th LD

March 19
Reps. Blake & Takko
9:00 -11:00 am Lower Columbia College Student Center, 1600 Maple, Longview
12:30-2:30pm Naselle Middle School, 1049 State Ave, Naselle
4:00-6:00 pm Grays Harbor College HUB, 1620 Edward P. Smith Dr., Aberdeen

20th LD
No Town Halls

21st LD

March 19
Reps. B Sullivan & Roberts w/Sen. Shin
10:00 - 11:30am Lynnwood, Beverly Elementary School, 5221 168th St SW
1:00 - 2:30pm  Mukilteo, Harbour Pointe Middle School, 5000 Harbour Pointe Blvd

22nd LD

March 19
Reps. Hunt & Williams w/Sen. Fraser
2:00 pm Panorama City Retirement Center, Basement in the Chalet - 1751 Circle Ln SE, Lacey (360.456.0111)

23rd LD

March 19
Rep. Appleton w/ Sen Rockefeller
9:30 - 11:00 am Bainbridge Island, Bainbridge Fire Station, 12985 Phelps Rd
12:30 - 2:00 pm  Poulsbo,  Poulsbo Library, 700 NE Lincoln Rd.

March 19
Rep. Woods
9:30 - 11:00 a  Bremerton, Claremont East Apts., 2707 Clare Ave.
2:00 - 3:30p  Poulsbo, Poulsbo Fire Station, 911 NE Liberty Rd

24th LD
No Town Halls

25th LD

March 19
Rep. Morrell & Sen. Kastama
10:00 -11:00 am Midland Elementary - 2300 105th St. East Tacoma, WA
2:00 - 3:30pm Puyallup Library - 324 S. Meridian

26th LD

March 19
Reps. Kilmer & Lantz
9:00 -10:00 am Sylvan Way Library in Bremerton - 1301 Sylavan Way, WA 98310;
11:00 -12:00 pm South Kitsap High School - 425 Mitchell Ave, Port Orchard 98366;
2:00-3:00 pm Key Peninsula Civic Center - 17010 South Vaughn Road, Vaughn, WA 98394;
4:00-5:00 pm Gig Harbor Library - 4424 Point Fosdick Dr. NW, Gig Harbor 98335

27th LD
No Town Halls

28th LD

Rep. Green
March 19th
2:30-3:30 Lakewood City Hall, 6000 Main St SW March 26th
10:00-11:00 am University Place Senior Center, 2534 Grandview Dr W

Rep. Talcott and Sen. Carrell
March 19th
10-11 am University Place Senior Center, 2534 Grandview Dr W

29th LD

March 19
Rep. Conway w/ Rosa Franklin
10:00 a-12:00 p Bates Tech College South Campus

30th LD

March 19
Rep. Priest
1:00 -3:00 pm
Federal Way City Hall

31st LD

Rep. Shabro
March 17th, 7:00 pm Bonney Lake Senior Center March 19th, 10:30 am
Enumclaw Public Library

32nd LD

March 19
Reps. Chase & Kagi
10:00-12:00 pm Shoreline Historical Museum, 749 N. 175th St.
1:00 - 3:00 pm Third Place Commons, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lk Forest Park

33rd LD
No Town Halls

34th LD
No Town Halls

35th LD
No Town Halls

36th LD
No Town Halls

37th LD

March 19
Reps. Pettigrew & Santos
10:30 - 12:00 p  Garfield Community Center - 2323 East Cherry St.
Seattle, WA 98122

38th LD

March 19
Reps. McCoy & Sells
10:00 am Everett, Senior Activity Center, 3025 Lombard Ave
1:00 pm Marysville Ctiy Hall Council Chambers, 1049 State St.

39th LD
No Town Halls

40th LD
No Town Halls

41st LD

March 19
Reps. Clibborn & Jarrett w/Sen. Weinstein
9:30-11:30am Bellevue City Hall Conference Room -11511 Main Street
1:30-3:30 Kennydale Elementary - 1700 NE 28th St. Renton, WA

42nd LD
March 18

Rep. Ericksen w/Sen. Brandland
4:30p  Lynden, Lynden Community Center, 401 Grover St.

43rd LD
No Town Halls

44th LD

March 19
Reps. Dunshee & Lovick w/ Sen. Schmidt
9:30-11:30am Lake Stevens School District Bldg - 12309 22nd St NE Lake
Stevens, WA 98258
1:30-3:30pm Mill Creek City Hall Council Chamber - 15728 Main St. Mill Creek, WA 98012

45th LD

March 19
Reps. Springer & Nixon w/ Sen. Finkbeiner
10:00 -11:30 Fire Station #82 - 1851 228th Ave. NE Sammamish
1:30-3:00 pm City of Woodinville Council Chambers

46th LD

March 26
Rep. Kenney & McIntire
10:30 am Meadowbrook Community Center in North Seattle

47th LD
No Town Halls

48th LD

March 19
Rep. Hunter
1:00- 3:00 pm  Old Redmond Schoolhouse, (Redmond Community Center)

Rep. Tom w/ Sen. Esser
10:00 a - 12:00 p Kirkland, Best High School
Sen. Esser only
2:00- 4:00 p  Bellevue Family YMCA

49th LD

March 19
Reps. Fromhold & Moller w/Sen. Pridemore
10:00 -12:00 pm  Clark County Service Hearing Room, 6th floor meeting room, 1300 Franklin

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 18, 2005 at 02:39 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

What is Our Story?

The New Republic sends me brief teasers about the articles they have in their on-line publication.  Usually, to read the bulk of the piece, I would have to subscribe to the on-line publication.  Well, today I found something that made me decide to subscribe.  It was the following initial paragraph of an article by Robert Reich entitled, “The Lost Art of Democratic Narrative: Story Time.”  Here is the visible portion:

Democrats are finally waking up to the fact that Republicans have succeeded in framing the issues to their advantage. Tax "relief," tort "reform," regulatory "burden," and "opportunity society," for example, have all defined public debate in a way that benefits the GOP. But, though Democrats have finally started talking about how they can recast their ideas to best appeal to the public, they've failed to realize that the rhetorical challenge they face is deeper than simply finding the right words and phrases. For Democrats to win back the heart and soul of the electorate, they have to speak to the basic stories that have defined and animated the United States since its founding. For most of the last century, they did this instinctively, but, over the last ten years or so, they have tended to speak in technocratic terms while conservative Republicans have mastered the art of the political narrative and, in doing so, exiled Democrats from politics itself....

I tried to subscribe and found myself in a weird fun-house of a difficult website and paid for a year’s subscription but couldn’t figure out how to get to the rest of the article.  I’ll get that taken care of so I can read the rest of that as well as other articles, but for now the introduction was sufficient.   

The idea of a Democratic narrative resonates deeply with me, with my need for a coherent story about who we are.  I want to hear the words that will clarify easily and confidently why we so passionately believe that we as Democrats should be making the decisions about this country.  I want to hear the narrative from progressives as I might hear a concert – a beautiful harmonious coming together of the stories of the many different musicians playing variations on a theme, building on one solid melody line. 

And I think that we in this state have one of the best opportunities to tell that story about what we could do with that decision-making power because we have a laboratory here.  We have a slim Democratic majority in the Legislature, enough to pass the bills that are able to hold enough of the rural Democrats and moderate Republicans to make it all the way through the system.  We have a wildly practical yet innovative Democratic governor.  We have hard-working, creative Democratic leadership in state government and two wonderful women Senators and several great Representatives to fight for us at the national level - to the extent that any Democrats at the national level can fight off the great Dark Cloud.  We have robust progressive organizations and thoughtful constituency groups.  We have ideas and an increasingly effective communications and educational citizen lobbying corp.  We have a reasonably supportive press.  We have the beginnings of a local blogoshere that can help us communicate amongst ourselves and build a movement that will sweep even the official Party along with it.

Most importantly we have an incredible number of people who believe in what we can create and who are willing to put their energy, effort and money into the project of defining who we are and what we want, into building the democratic society, with a small “d” that we all want to live in.

Out of that we will build and articulate a compelling narrative.  We will talk about it in small groups and share it with each other and refine it and put it out in the public arena for further discussion.  We will build it as we come together and strengthen the fabric of our communities and interest groups and families. We will weave this narrative that will appeal to the many in this country and bring sense back.


So, tell us, what do you think this story is?

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 17, 2005 at 09:29 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

Support our Hoops!

Yesterday, the Seattle Times carried a front page story asking: When did the University of Washington Huskies get good at basketball?

On page A9, in a small 2 inch column, I found a story about one U.S. marine being killed in Iraq.

Posted by Jeff on March 16, 2005 at 10:58 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Heads Up - The Proposed "Takings" Initiative

This state’s environmental train is in danger of being derailed.  We in this state are seeing some long overdue environmental bills moving through the legislature since we were smart enough to go all blue last fall.  However, there is a proposed initiative, 906, that has been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of State that will take all our thinking and effort to fight off.  It is what is known as a “takings” initiative. 

Oregon passed such a measure by means of the initiative process last November and it is already wrecking havoc with their leading-edge land use laws.  The Oregon Law, passed as Measure 37, had a Ballot Title that said, “Governments much pay owners, or forgo enforcement, when certain land use restrictions reduce property value.”  The title portrays the bill as just and fair, a way of compensating put-upon landowners for losses of economically viable usage of their land.

Here’s the way that three leading environmentalists in Oregon describe what it actually means:

Governments must pay the difference in value between what a property is worth with land use restrictions and what it is worth without them – or waive the rules.  The measure provided no source for compensation, and there is no conceivable way for the state or local governments to pay the billions of dollars’ worth of claims they expect.  If they cannot pay the difference, communities must waive the rules.

They put the initiative in context:

The environmental impacts of takings policies are far-reaching.  Because land use is a leverage issue that drives so many of our biggest environmental and social problems, takings policies imperil the entire environmental movement.  They are giant steps backwards for efforts to reduce air and water pollution, protect biodiversity, defend farm and forestlands, reduce auto-dependency, reduce carbon dioxide emissions, and improve public health.

The “takings” initiatives have the additional effect of scaring lawmakers, local zoning commissioners and government officials into inaction.  Why pass an ordinance establishing parklands or developing health codes that prevent landfills in certain areas if doing so will entail paying out compensation to landowners or fighting lawsuits?

Like many other right-wing efforts, the “takings” initiatives only look like they are meant to primarily compensate the unjustly targeted small landowner.  Andrew Savagian, writing in the January issue of Conscious Choice, clarifies:

These landowners not only get backing from groups like the PLF (Pacific Legal Foundation, a California-based organization that is a major opponent of environmental and civil rights legislation), they serve as fronts for several big money interests.  The American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative think tank with funding from Phillip Morris, Coors, Texaco, and other corporations, is a major backer of many property rights and takings organizations.  Under the guise of takings, corporations and businesses are using victimized landowners to get all they can out of local communities and their tax coffers.

This is a huge issue, pitting the ideas of common good and a right to a clean environment and a healthy place to live against the right to pollute and develop without regulations.  Stay tuned as we focus on the progress of this proposed initiative and think together about how to defeat it in Washington State.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 14, 2005 at 10:13 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

The Missing Femininist Perspective

Amanda Marcotte, sitting in as a guest blogger over at Pandagon, had a great post yesterday on a subject that has been missing from the national conversation since the Democrats got caught in the headlights of the right-wing juggernaut that bore down on us a decade ago.  She talks about good old-fashioned feminism, the kind that puts so much of what has been perplexing us in perspective.  Check it out. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 10, 2005 at 09:25 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 09, 2005

No separation of church & state in the Constitution

It disturbs me we have some elected leaders who are too ignorant or ideological to even understand the constitution they've sworn (on a Bible!) to uphold and defend.

Columbian Watch makes the pickup on Rep. Jim Dunn's recent comments to his hometown newspaper:   

Rep. Jim Dunn, R-Vancouver, said would he support such an amendment. Homosexual marriage is against his religion, he said.

"I don't believe in separation of church and state. There is no such thing in the Constitution," Dunn said.

"We can't separate religion from government," he said. "The only way we can do that is if we elected people of no faith, agnostics or atheists." (bold added)

Wow.  I'm speechless.  If you can't be bothered read or understand the Constitution (of the US or of WA), you shouldn't be serving as an elected official.

And while we're on the subject of the Washington State Constitution, Kayne over at Pleasing to Remember takes note of the Republican's new "strategic initiative" -- an anti-gay marraige amendment, which is really designed as a GOTV effort for cultural conservatives.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 9, 2005 at 09:12 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

CommonBits featured in today's Seattle Times

My project CommonBits is featured in Paul Andrews' technology column in today's Seattle Times. Hopefully, progressives will read it and begin to use the site as a resource for finding and sharing media.

  For all the news about phone companies, cable providers and Web portals bringing television to the Internet, a new Seattle-based Web service is helping provide an early glimpse of what TV could look like on the Web.

    Although only a few weeks old and still in beta, CommonBits.org is drawing on powerful new downloading, indexing and newsfeed technology under an activist agenda to help independent audio, video and other media find wider distribution and their natural audience. Go to the site and you find all kinds of content, from "The Daily Show" clips of Jon Stewart monologues to "Democracy Now" broadcasts.

    "We want to be a resource for politically left people and community-based organizations," said Jeff Reifman, a former Microsoft manager who works at Groundspring.org, a Web-tools builder for nonprofits. He helped put together CommonBits. ...

    Reifman compares the process to "TiVo for the desktop PC. CommonBits will provide a channel of content for political progressives."

Posted by Jeff on March 7, 2005 at 12:45 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005

Legislators smarting over Gates' education comments

There's finally been a chink in the blindly pro-business mindset at the Seattle Times, while this wasn't a front page story, it's sort of a surprise to see it run at all.

"We'd have a much easier time funding education if companies like Microsoft weren't picking our pockets for tax breaks year in and year out," said state Sen. Erik Poulsen, D-Seattle.  

Sen. Ken Jacobsen said it's hard to stomach Gates' message, given the business community's persistent efforts to cut the very taxes that help fund schools.

"They seem to have a bad case of corporate cognitive dissonance," said Jacobsen, D-Seattle.  

Lately, Microsoft executives seem to be making it a contest among themselves who can be more intellectually dishonest. This time, Brad Smith hits an inside the park home run with this zinger:

Brad Smith, a senior vice president at Microsoft, said the company is sympathetic toward the difficult budget lawmakers face, and doesn't want to compound the situation. He said the criticisms from lawmakers would be fair if Microsoft were pushing for a tax break this year. "We're not asking for a large corporate relief package," he said.

Of course, last year, Smith and Microsoft successfully pushed for a ten year extension to a bitterly disputed extension of the R&D Tax Credit - a $20 million dollar a year savings to the company. And, Microsoft continues to save $55+ million per year in taxes by operating its licensing business in Reno, Nevada. And, Microsoft and Smith are active paid members of the pro-business associations and lobbies in Washington which continually push for corporate welfare.

In a story about education funding, the Times couldn't help itself, ending the story with quotes such as:

Others say money isn't the problem at all. "I've been around Olympia for years and there's never enough money for education," said Don Brunnel, president of the Association of Washington Business. "We have to be more prudent about where we put our dollars for education."

The AWB is one of the Microsoft-supported lobbies.

For more information on this, read Citizen Microsoft.

Posted by Jeff on March 5, 2005 at 02:04 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Why is Tim Eyman "drooling"?

The effort to ban smoking in public places in Washington is heading for the ballot box. This is no surprise. But why would Tim Eyman be "drooling" over the fundraising success of an initiative he's not associated with? According to the Seattle PI (emphasis added):

The successful fund-raising by I-901 supporters has initiative sponsor Tim Eyman drooling -- especially when he saw the campaign office had paid $70 for water delivery.

"That's a pretty good sign there's a well-funded campaign. It's like, money is not a problem," He said.

"It doesn't automatically guarantee success, but it sure does relieve a lot of pressure," Eyman said. He added that he personally thinks I-901 is "beyond insane" in its smoking restrictions, but he thinks it will be a "slam dunk" at the polls.

Does this quote make any sense to you?

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 5, 2005 at 07:31 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

McDermott on DailyKos

Iraq didn't have Weapons of Mass Destruction, and Social Security isn't going bankrupt.

It's not the words that are interesting (although they're eloquent and persuasive). It's the combination of the speaker (U.S. Rep. Jim McDermott) and the forum (uber-blog DailyKos) that's remarkable. You read it right: a sitting Congressman writing his own posts on a major political blog.

It is truly amazing to watch this medium develop so quickly.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 4, 2005 at 03:55 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 03, 2005

Priorities for a Healthy Washington are moving forward strongly in the Legislature

The Washington environmental community's four "Priorities for a Healthy Washington" are moving forward strongly in the legislature this year.  It's great to see such a broad coalition of folks pulling together to advance a progressive policy agenda.

Amy Zarrett of Washington Environmental Council recently emailed out the following update:

High Performance Green Building

On Thursday February 23rd the High Performance Green Building bill (HB 1272) passed out of House Capital Budget committee on a strong bi-partisan 24 to 5 vote. The bill now goes to the House Rules committee - the gatekeeper for floor votes. Its companion bill in the Senate (SB 5509) also passed out of the Water, Energy and Environment committee on March 2 and moves on to the Senate Ways and Means committee. The legislation requires state buildings, schools, and universities to be built and certified as high performance, green buildings. This will result in buildings that save energy and water, are cheaper to operate, and improve student learning and employee performance. 


Cleaner Air - Cleaner Cars

The Cleaner Air-Cleaner Cars legislation (SHB 1397) passed out of the House Transportation Committee on February 22nd with a bi-partisan 17-8 vote. The Senate bill (SSB 5397) also passed on February 22. The Cleaner Air - Cleaner Cars bill will reduce cancer-causing auto emissions, increase consumer choice for new cars, and save people money at the gas pump through increased fuel-efficiency.


Sound Solutions

Sound Solutions - Saving Hood Canal and Puget Sound also saw progress last week. The part of the Sound Solutions package that would reduce water pollution from leaking septic systems (HB 1458/SB 5431) passed out of both Senate and House committees last week. Land use bills (HB1638/SB5618) requiring consideration of water quality during growth management planning, and legislation supporting the creation of voluntary buffers in open space plans and public benefit rating systems (HB1637/SB5620) also passed out of their original committees.


Phasing out Toxics

Both bills (HB1488/SB5515) prohibiting the sale of products that contain toxic flame retardants (PBDEs) also passed out of their respective committees in House and Senate.

As bills make it out of their current committees, the full floor votes for them could happen anytime in the next few weeks.

If you'd like to get an well-timed action alert at the critical moments for these bills, you can sign up on the Priorities for a Healthy Washington website.

Posted by Jon Stahl on March 3, 2005 at 06:48 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 01, 2005

Keeping a Jump Ahead - The Northwest Progressive Institute

It is very heartening to meet people who are thinking ahead politically from the progressive point of view. Andrew Villeneuve and the other folks over at Northwest Progressive Institute and Permanent Defense have made a habit of thinking about our democracy and nudging folks toward more civic responsibility. They have created a number of new institutions that are emerging as part of the growing progressive movement in this state. 

I discovered them through their new blog aggregator, NW Portal, which Jon mentioned when this blog was included at the start-up. It is a great tool to read about what progressive political bloggers are saying in Washington, Oregon and Idaho and helps to link our part of the Northwest together.

As I followed my curiosity to their sponsoring blog and website, the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI), I was truly impressed at how these folks have been thinking about the issues facing our state and moving out in front to educate and motivate citizens to work with them. For just a sense of what the focus is, here’s what they say about who they are:

Northwest Progressive Institute was founded in August of 2003 as a forum of thought on politics, government, and policy. NPI is left-wing on the political spectrum and believes that America will only be a better place if our freedoms are kept safe, our country works for peace, not aggression, and we as a people come together to realize our place in the world.

Permanent Defense, now a part of NPI, was set up in 2002 specifically to counter the damaging initiatives that Tim Eyman has been sponsoring since 1999. Permanent Defense, working with other groups, was able to educate voters on the long-range effect of these initiatives. The last four Eyman-sponsored initiatives, all of which would have further degraded funding for public services, have either failed to qualify for the ballot or have been defeated at the polls.

Interview with Andrew Villeneuve of the Northwest Progressive Institute (NPI)

I just became aware of the Northwest Progressive Institute when our blog started being syndicated by our news aggregator a few weeks ago. As I poked around to see who was behind this, I ran across NPI and what they are working toward just seemed so right. Here they are:

  • NPI will be a liberal voice championing human rights, freedom, safety that does not endanger our liberty, cooperation with the rest of the world, understanding the value of public services, and working for an appreciation of all cultures and ethnicities.
  • Oppose the conservative right in their efforts to expand our dependence on fossil fuels, passing whopping tax cuts that benefit the rich, invading other countries pre-emptively, taking away health benefits from our elderly citizens, and bringing attention to problems which the right postpones or dilutes.
  • Criticize President George W. Bush and his terrible policies, urging for the removal of fanatics like Paul Wolfowitz, and challenging the administration's grip on the American public.
  • Provide a Pacific Northwest perpsective and voice for the left at a time when the right, encouraged by President Bush's immunity in the aftermath of September 11th, is set seeking a ruinous course for our nation.


We don’t see these goals stated in clear effective ways that make it seem normal, obvious and right very often. I found myself puddling up as I read them. I want to see dialogue about these goals in Time Magazine. I want my country back..  So I decided to learn more about who these folks are. Here then is the interview with Andrew Villeneuve, founder and one of the key minds behind NPI.


Q: How would you summarize what NPI is?


AV:  We’re exploring policies that will be good for America. NPI is a place to figure out where progressives stand on the issues, to understand and think about the rationale behind that thinking. I want people to look at our stances and say, “That would be good public policy” or “That should become a law.” Then they can make it happen.


Q: Let’s start with Permanent Defense, the first of these organizations you started. What prompted you to do that?


AV: Permanent Defense was founded three years ago to oppose Tim Eyman’s initiatives. Eyman had been putting initiatives on the ballot since 1999 that were not good for this state.  The initiatives have generally been aimed at slashing motor vehicle and property taxes and have caused irreparable harm to public services such as libraries, parks, and road construction.


Since we started, Eyman has had only one successful initiative and that was during our first year up.


(See the Permanent Defense site for detailed information on all of Eyman’s Initiatives and the effect they had or would have had.)


Q: How were you able to stop him?


AV: We were involved in trying to frame the issue for the public. We helped people see that the issue was about public services rather than “What’s in it for me?”


We tried to build a network with other people who were interested in the same goal of stopping Eyman, and have met a lot of new friends and allies along the way. We’ve encouraged the formation of broad coalitions to tackle Eyman’s initiatives and we’ve also taken a grassroots approach – opposing Eyman with yard-signs, letters to the editor, ads and so forth.


Since we joined the battle against Eyman, only one of his initiatives has been successful – I-776, which tried to take out transportation funding in four of the state’s thirty nine counties and was an assault on local control. Since then, we have stopped each of the last four and will work against the two he is proposing this year.


Q: Were all your wins at the ballot box?


AV:  No – in fact most of them haven’t been. Much of all of this has been trying to persuade people not to sign the petitions to allow the initiatives on the ballot at all. You know, people tend to sign those petitions because they think that people should have the right to vote on them at election time, or because they don’t realize signing a petition is like voting in a primary election. But just going through the exercise is costly and disruptive. These destructive initiatives shouldn’t even get on the ballot and people seem to be learning that.


Q: So then, what prompted you to expand beyond Permanent Defense?


AV: After a while we wanted to think about more issues. We asked ourselves, “What if Permanent Defense was just part of the puzzle? Could we create something that will allow us to take positions on national as well as local issues?”


NPI has been developing slowly over time. I wrote a Mission Statement and Vision and Goals. We created a website and then a year ago got a blog going. There are two of us, David Perlmutter and I, who take the lead, and we are training another eight people to write on the blog as well. Other people are writing other sections of the website.


Q: How do you decide what is part of NPI’s goals and what is not? For example, when I looked at the different sections, I wrote in to suggest that you add “Respect for Women” as an integral part of your section on International Affairs, along with “The Middle East” and “The Iraq War”. How will you decide whether or not to do that?


AV: Our Board – kind of an ad hoc group of people - gets together periodically via email or phone and reviews ideas and suggestions. We decide whether or not to include a new plank like that and then write something up.  (Interviewer - If you decide to include it, I’ll write it up.)


Q: And what about this new NW Portal? How did that come about?


AV: That was my brainchild. I thought we needed some kind of balance for the right-wing sites like Orbusmax. I wanted to create an information gateway for the entire region and give people a place where they could get all their news. Individuals are able to get wire and print news from all three states as well as a quick look at what the progressive blogs around the region are writing about. And it provides quick access to Air America as well.


For bloggers, it provides encouragement and additional readers.


Q: Why include Idaho?


AV: Idaho is not tied into the rest of the Northwest but we’ve observed a lot of traffic coming from Idaho and want to encourage the progressives there.


Q: What’s next?


AV: We’re working on a calendar now that uses RSS technology. It contains many of the progressive events around the state, including Democratic Party, progressive organizations and the Progressive Democratic caucus meetings. We’re testing it now. We’ll put it on the front page of our website and allow others to do the same.


We could use volunteers for the calendar. Contact Andrew to help on this if you are able.


Q: What about long-term. How do you see the Northwest Progressive Institute in the scheme of things?


AV: In addition to clarifying progressive positions for people, we want NPI to make it easier for people to contribute to the public debate and be part of the forum of thought. We want people to start thinking about how to defend and make use of the freedom of speech.

Posted by Lynn Allen on March 1, 2005 at 07:55 AM in Interviews, Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack