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July 31, 2005

P.S.

In reading a comment at Dailykos on the power of the netroots to influence elections - based on what is happening with Hackett in Ohio - a piece of a post caught my eye.  It is a great understanding of our role.

What the netroots is doing is lowering the barrier to entry so that people like Hackett won't be held back by their lack of financing and voice.  Let's not make the mistake of thinking that we create people like him, we just help him to become all he can be.  We need to find more people like him and help him to get his message out. 

The future of the Democratic party is not a bunch of rich party loyalists telling the rest of the country what is right for it.  It is a true party of Democracy, becoming the voice of a vast network of people, represented by average citizens with good ideas, charisma, and a desire to make this country a better place.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 31, 2005 at 10:34 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Something Happening Here

The impact of the liberal blogosphere is becoming clearer each month.  The national progressive blogs led by DailyKos, mydd, Talking Points Memo, Atrios and now TPMCafe, the Huffington Post and many, many more have driven the national conversation on the John Bolton nomination and the Rove-Plame affair.   Bloggers and community members dug up old memos and connected the dots and kept the stories alive until they got picked up by the mainstream media which gave the Democratic leaders enough cover to stand up for their principles.     

We are just this month seeing the power of the Internet to elevate a special election for an open seat in Ohio to national prominence.  Democrat Paul Hackett is within striking distance of Republican Jean Schmidt in OH-02 in Southwestern Ohio, a district that went heavily for Bush and has had Republican congressfolk for decades.   It happened because the netroots provided a pretty good sum of money, $150,000 a week ago and much more since then, to Hackett and has called out folks to make the trek to campaign for him.  If Hackett wins or even gets close it will be a big upset.

Chris Bowers at mydd.com describes the impact of the progressive blogs and how much more effective they’ve been on Hackett’s behalf than the conservative blogs have been on Schmidt’s behalf. 

Since the primary election, there have been 63 conservative blog posts about Paul Hackett, while there have been as many as 683 progressive blog posts about Paul Hackett. Progressives blogs have written roughly ten times as much about this election as conservative blogs. What's more, since Blogopshere Day, the advantage in liberal blog posts has been around 20-1.

Those action-oriented conservative bloggers have completely ignored this race, while us divisive liberals have engaged in an all-out blogswarm that has gone a long way toward making this campaign close. . . Conservative bloggers are straight up ineffective when it comes to actually influencing electoral politics. How many elections have gone by now where conservative bloggers offered almost nothing in the way of resource support to conservative candidates? If they had jumped into the OH-02 race (or SD-AL and KY-06 special elections for that matter) with the same force as the progressive blogosphere, Hackett would probably still be way, way behind.

They haven't however, and Paul Hackett is now close.

The year before the November election, MoveOn.org and the Dean candidacy both used the Internet to organize activists and raise money and made it clear that there was tremendous potential for both.  However, outside of Clark’s brief campaign, most Democrats running for office, including most obviously Kerry, did not get the central message that they needed to create community rather than just ask for money. 

As I watched the opportunities slip through the fingers of the Democrats, it seemed as if they were unwilling to give up control.  Because of that need for control, Democrats missed the power of the Internet to enable people to self-organize and contribute their ideas and to dialogue with each other and, in the process, create a very satisfying sense of community of like-minded people. 

There is something happening in the blogosphere that Democratic leaders need to learn to take advantage of.  There is a tremendous opportunity for collaboration.  A few Democrats are starting to take advantage of this but more need to do so and quickly.

P.S.  You can still contribute to Paul Hackett’s campaign.  It’s mightily important – both to get him into Congress and keep her out.  He is a Marine who just came back from Iraq and understands the horror of this war; she is the director of a national Right to Life organization based in Cincinnati. It is also a good example of what this new political form, the progressive blogosphere, can accomplish. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 31, 2005 at 10:27 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 29, 2005

CommonTimes launches a new design

Briefly, we've update the design of the front page of CommonTimes to be much friendlier and more news-oriented. So, if you haven't yet, please check it out.

Posted by Jeff on July 29, 2005 at 01:55 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 28, 2005

Speaking Truth To Roberts

Friend-of-Evergreen Politics and fellow Washingtonian Paul Loeb, who writes regularly at http://www.paulloeb.org, offers his thoughts on why progressives should speak out about John Roberts' nomination to the Supreme Court, even in the face of long odds against defeating him.  For more of Paul's stuff, see his website, where you can get occasional email blasts from him.

SPEAKING TRUTH TO ROBERTS

By Paul Rogat Loeb

From the moment the John Roberts nomination was announced, the media called it a done deal. NPR and the New York Times gushed over his humility, humor, and congeniality. With Roberts’s belief system barely mentioned, you’d think Bush had just nominated Mister Rogers.

In the wake of this media love fest, I keep encountering people who oppose everything Roberts has stood for, but see no use in trying to stop what seems his inevitable confirmation. But we can make a powerful impact by raising the discomforting truth that Roberts may be closer to a smiling Antonin Scalia. However the Senators vote—and it’s not foreordained, the more we raise key issues and principles, the more they’ll echo down the line around future nominations and policies.

 

 

Roberts is being hailed as the brilliant Harvard lawyer who gets along with everyone. He’s conservative, but reasonable. He doesn’t froth at the mouth. He barely barks. Unlike Bush’s three most recent Appeals Court appointees, he hasn’t led a right wing ideological charge. He’s being praised as a nomination Bush should be proud of.

We need to tell a different story, and do our best to get it into the media, the arguments raised by our elected representatives, and the awareness of our fellow citizens. The actual outcome will probably depend on a small group of Republican “moderates,” who tend to briefly question about Bush’s policies and choices, then toe the line on critical votes. But if they really demanded moderate appointments, or stood firm against the “nuclear option” power grab that threatens to end the filibuster, Roberts could certainly be defeated. Whatever the final vote, offering a critical perspective gives us the chance to help frame how Americans view this administration and what we can expect from future lifetime appointments to a court that’s our final arbiter of rights and governmental power. Settling for an appointment as regressive as Roberts invites Bush to nominate someone still worse for next round. Challenging him draws a line and invites our fellow citizens to stand up in other ways to this immensely destructive presidency.

How has a seemingly nice man like Roberts supported a politics of contempt for the voice of anyone but the wealthy and powerful? In a time when the Bush administration acts as if granted the divine right of kings, it’s troubling that Roberts defended Cheney’s right to refuse to name the corporate participants in his secret energy policy meeting. He advised Jeb Bush on the 2000 election, and denied being a member of the ultra-conservative Federalist Society, then turned up on the Society’s Washington steering committee. He’s argued that the Voting Rights Act can only be violated by intentional discrimination, saying laws that incidentally discriminate are ok. Most damning, Roberts just ruled that if this administration wishes to exempt someone from the Geneva Convention and international law, they have the absolute right to do so. The belief that a president can do whatever he chooses links this nomination, the Downing Street Memo and Plamegate in a common matrix of unaccountable power.

Roberts is also disturbingly loyal to dubious corporate interests, or at least to principles that allow these interests to run roughshod over ordinary citizens and communities. He argued that private individuals could not sue the federal government for violations of environmental regulations like the removal of mountaintops by West Virginia mining companies. He supported the rights of developers to ignore the Endangered Species Act. He denied the rights of workers injured over time as part of their jobs, supported criminal contempt fines to force the end of a strike, and helped a major car manufacturer avoid a recall of dangerous seatbelts.

Then there’s Roe vs Wade. People of goodwill can disagree about abortion, but overturning that decision would devastate the lives of women forced to bear unwanted children. Roberts has already argued, as Deputy Solicitor General, that "Roe was wrongly decided and should be overruled." Pat Robertson endorsed him as one of his top favored choices. In the words of Tony Perkins of the ultra-conservative Family Research Council, Bush "promised to nominate someone along the lines of a Scalia or a Thomas and that is exactly what he has done."

It’s tempting to decide that Roberts is the best we can get, so we should simply accept him, lest we get someone worse. But that traps us in a continuous cycle of lowered expectations, until we accept anyone short of Attila the Hun. I’m not expecting Bush to nominate the next Thurgood Marshall. Even Sandra O’Connor, who everyone now praises, helped put Bush in office to begin with in a decision blasted by legal scholars for its contempt for constitutional precedents, including claims of the participating justices to support states rights. Given the Republicans’ current power, another O’Connor may be the most we can expect, but we have no obligation to accept a candidate as problematic as Roberts.

Instead of caving to fatalistic acceptance, we need to approach this nomination as an exercise in truth telling. We can talk, to whomever we have access, about what Roberts represents, and what a court in his image would mean for America. We can lobby our Senators to draw the line, knowing that the more they do, the more the media will question. We can hold up a vision of how America could be, while describing how profoundly our heritage of liberty and justice is being attacked. And then we can keep on, whatever the immediate result, so that we will not be faced with another Justice Roberts ten years down the line.

I’ve also written a couple of other court-related pieces, which you can visit on my website.

Extraordinarily Rancid Justices looks at the downside of the brokered deal that preserves the theoretical right to filibuster but sets the bar impossibly high to exercise it. http://www.paulloeb.org/articles/rancidjustice.htm

The Enemy of My Enemy May Still be the Enemy of Democracy looks at why we shouldn’t rejoice at the religious right’s reservations about an Alberto Gonzales nomination. http://www.soulofacitizen.org/articles/gonzales.htm

Lots of the same basic principles involved in all three pieces.

Paul Loeb is the author of The Impossible Will Take a Little While: A Citizen's Guide to Hope in a Time of Fear, named the #3 political book of fall 2004 by the History Channel and the American Book Association, and of Soul of a Citizen: Living With Conviction in a Cynical Time.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 28, 2005 at 02:54 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 27, 2005

King County Election Task Force Report

The King County Independent Task Force on Elections is releasing its complete report tomorrow.  According to their cover letter, which is already up, they are recommending five state-wide election reforms:

1) Change the date of the primary election to the first Tuesday of June;
2) Reduce from six to four the number of elections held in Washington State during the calendar year;
3) Automatically restore voting rights to former felons upon their release from prison;
4) When a recount is necessary, conduct only one and require that it be manual; and
5) Require that state and county elections officials receive all ballots by eight o’clock on election night, except those of military and out-of-state voters, which must be received before the election is certified.

Seems like pretty sensible stuff to me.  What's sure to attract controversy is their proposal to put responsibility for elections under the supervision of an elected official, rather than an appointed one:

In the longer term, the Task Force believes a separately elected official with primary responsibility for elections will increase accountability to citizens and more effectively advocate for improved technology and resources as needed. The Task Force acknowledges that electing a leader of the elections office does not guarantee an effective leader who can establish a more credible and independent elections system in King County. The public is demanding more accountability in the elections process and so we believe the proposal is worthy of public discussion and debate.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 27, 2005 at 09:39 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Iraqi Women Get Shafted

Iraqi woman may lose their basic rights under the new Iraqi Constitution. I doubt that many American or British women or men expected when we started this war to end up pushing Iraqi women’s lives back at least 50 years – to a state similar to that of the more restrictive Islamic governments. Yet that looks likely to happen.  

 

The Iraqi Constitutional Committee released a draft last week that would severely restrict women’s rights. From a post on Common Dreams:

 

 

 

According to this draft, the new Iraqi transitional government acknowledges the equal rights of men and women in all fields – “as long as it doesn’t contradict with sharia law.”

 

If implemented, the proposed new laws will restrict women’s rights, specifically in matters relating to marriage, divorce and family inheritance. A marriage enjoined by a women’s free will is likely to be made more difficult, and divorces by men relatively easier.

 

The old Iraq, unlike most neighboring countries, passed specific laws granting equal rights to women. Iraq has been operating under a secular civil status law, passed in 1959 and still in effect. Iraqi women enjoyed basic human rights under the otherwise repressive regime of Saddam Hussein, as did religious minorities. During the early part of the occupation we saw many stories about Iraqi women in the press and they were mostly stories about educated, westernized women in professional roles. We have not seen a lot of those lately. This war and this occupation have not been kind to women. It could get worse. 

 

More after the fold.

The New York Times has more from an article published on July 20th:

 

One of the critical passages is in Article 14 of the chapter, a sweeping measure that would require court cases dealing with matters like marriage, divorce and inheritance to be judged according to the law practiced by the family's sect or religion.

 

Under that measure, Shiite women in Iraq, no matter what their age, generally could not marry without their families' permission. Under some interpretations of Shariah, men could attain a divorce simply by stating their intention three times in their wives' presence.

 

Article 14 would replace a body of Iraqi law that has for decades been considered one of the most progressive in the Middle East in protecting the rights of women, giving them the freedom to choose a husband and requiring divorce cases to be decided by a judge.

If adopted, the shift away from the more secular and egalitarian provisions of the interim constitution would be a major victory for Shiite clerics and religious politicians, who chafed at the Americans' insistence that Islam be designated in the interim constitution as just "a source" of legislation. Several writers of the new constitution say they intend, at the very least, to designate Islam as "a main source" of legislation.

 

Religious Shiites tried to abolish the 1959 law in December 2003. Women took to the streets to protest.  Paul Bremer prevented the move and angered many religious Shiites in the process. 

 

Women are again taking to the streets. About 200 women and men showed up last week at a demonstration in the heat and despite the difficult security situation. Hanaa Edwar of the Iraqi Al-Amal Association, which organized the event, said her organization was protesting the attempt to marginalize the role of women and objecting to depriving the civil society organizations a place on the committee drafting the constitution. 

 

Charlotte Bunch of the U.S.-based Center for Women’s Global Leadership, again from the Common Dreams post, says:

 

I think that the United States should be held accountable for its disregard of the impact on women's rights of the (military) occupation -- something many people said in advance when the Bush administration tried to claim the war would benefit women, and many pointed out that Iraq had some of the best laws and policies regarding women's rights already.

“I think that the U.S. government should respond to the call from women’s groups in Iraq and work to ensure that equality is guaranteed in the constitution and that more women are involved in this process. . . . After all, the United States had much to do with picking the people to be involved in reconstruction and has done little to bring women’s rights advocates into the process. It can and should still do so now.

 

I was outraged when we went into Iraq, outraged at the effect of an ill-planned out implementation on both our forces and the Iraqi people, and am now outraged at the impact this lousy war will have on the women of Iraq for decades to come. If there are any organized campaigns to prevent this aspect of the new constitution from being set in stone, I’ll pass it along. In the meantime, letters to the editor and to our Congressfolk are a place to begin. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 27, 2005 at 01:10 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Don't Like Wal-mart's Tactics? - Tell Them

Andrew over at NPI put up a post via DailyKos on Wal-mart's ham-handed tactics in dealing with one writer's discussion of the impact of Wal-mart's low pay and it's cost to local and state government as well as it's employees.  In this case the newspaper in question - The Pensacola News Journal refused to be intimidated.  The editor, Bob Hart, stood up for his writer, Mark O-Brien, at the cost of not having the newspaper sold on Wal-mart property. 

Coincidentally my friend Jack Smith just sent me a link to a petition that folks can send to Wal-mart saying they will not shop at Wal-mart until they address their poor conduct vis-a-vis their employees.  As Jack said in his accompanying email, on-line petitions may not do much good but it certainly feels good to tell them why you aren't going to shop there. 

It must be making a lot of people feel good because I signed it yesterday and my number was in the 1300's; they are up to nearly 7000 this morning. 

 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 27, 2005 at 11:22 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 26, 2005

If You Know Someone in Oregon

The Washington State Clean Car legislation is in jeopardy unless Oregon passes their corresponding bill.  Evidently the WA State bill had a clause stating it would not go into effect unless Oregon passed their bill as well.  These legislators are caving to automakers who are trying to stop states like Oregon (and therefore also Washington) from adopting the clean car standards. If you know anyone in Oregon, please ask them to take action.  Here's what we're getting: 

Unfortunately, the possibility of this happening is in immediate danger, and needs your help now!  In a budget deal being finalized in the next 24 hours, Oregon legislators are trying to prohibit Oregon’s Environmental Quality Commission from adopting the clean car standards. Their tactic is to prohibit the Department of Environmental Quality from staffing a public rulemaking process later this year. We cannot let this happen!

Please act now.  Call or send an email to your senator, Senate President Peter Courtney, Senate Majority Leader Kate Brown, and Governor Kulongoski.  Urge them not to cave to the auto industry. We deserve clean car choices in Oregon. There numbers are:

Senator Peter Courtney…503-986-1600; sen.petercourtney@state.or.us
Senator Kate Brown…….503-986-1700; sen.katebrown@state.or.us
Govenor Kulongoski……… 503-378-4582
For writing one’s own senator: http://www.leg.state.or.us/writelegsltr/


Posted by Lynn Allen on July 26, 2005 at 08:11 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 25, 2005

The Media Starts to Implicate Bush

It was only a matter of time before the Rove-Plame-Libby-Novak-Miller-Fleischer-Gonzales-Card Affair started to touch Bush and Cheney.  Both the Washington Post and the New York Times have articles asking, "What did the President know and when did he know it?".  Mahablog has pulled out the relevant passages. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 25, 2005 at 05:50 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 24, 2005

The Break-up of Labor

Well, it's happened.  At least four big unions, led by the SEIU, are not going to attend the big summer Labor Meeting in Chicago tomorrow.  I'm sure there will be a lot written about it.  Chris Bowers has two pieces on it at mmdd.com, one from today with the news, the other from last week looking at the possibility. 

This is going to be momentous and it's going to effect the entire progressive movement.  It's just not clear in what direction. 

TPMCafe also has a "House of Labor" section up for folks to discuss many different aspects of what goes on with the Labor Movement.  It's hot today. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 24, 2005 at 08:53 PM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interview with Candidate Marko Liias

One of the great lessons of the last year is that Democratic progressives must organize to rebuild our Party in order to get our country back.  As folks are saying, we lost our ability to significantly influence the Supreme Court selection on November 4th.  We were committed; we worked hard; at the national level we lost badly.  History will tell us that there were many reasons.  The one we have most control over is our lack of cohesion and organization as a Party.   

As it becomes staggeringly clear what a mess the Republicans are making, we are preparing to do better next time.  One of the more critical ways is investing in local offices so that we have more and more progressive Democrats as mayors and on city councils and school boards – to build a bench for higher office, to do the difficult work of making communities work with fewer resources and to remind people what good government looks like. 

The people I have the most respect for are all saying the same thing.  Howard Dean has said the most important thing for us to do is run for office.  Chris Bowers, master blogger at mmdd.com has just announced he is running for committeeperson (the equivalent of a precinct captain), which in Philadelphia is an elected position.  Progressive Majority, the most effective organization we have on the left, is focused on encouraging progressives to run at every level in this state and the other states they are operating in.  They currently have identified 50 people they are supporting for local and state offices around Washington State this year and next.

So, I thought it might be time to interview one of these folks running for office for the first time.

Brian Moran over at Washblog has endorsed Marko Liias for city council in the city of Mukilteo. Brian says that Mukilteo needs the kind of leadership that Marko can provide, particularly around transportation issues.  Dean Nielsen of Progressive Majority Washington, which is also supporting Marko, says he is the kind of person they like to see run for office, someone with a fantastic background and the desire and ability to contribute to his community.  Marko is an environmentally friendly developer with an interest in preparing Mukilteo to meet the needs of the community into the future.

The interview is after the fold.

Q: What prompted you to run for city council?

ML: I have been a lifetime resident of Mukilteo.  I graduated from Kamiak High School and was actually a student member of the city council at that time.  Then I went on to get a degree from Georgetown University in D.C. in International Politics.  I came back here and started a small business with my parents, building houses and duplexes in South Snohomish County. 

I’ve been active in Democratic politics at the ground level and have developed some ideas for making some positive changes in Mukilteo so I decided to run for city council.

Q: What in your background makes you think you’d make a good member of the city council?

ML:  Running and operating a small company gives me experience managing projects and people.  I volunteer in the community.  I’m currently Vice Chair of the Snohomish Board of Equalization which gives me a lot of experience in issues related to Property Taxes.  I think I bring a set of strengths that complement what existing members have.

Q: What makes you a Democrat?

ML: My parents were not particularly active politically.  Friends of the family realized I might be interested in politics and got me involved in Republican activities when I was younger.  However, as I came into High School age, I decided it was our duty as a society to provide people with what they need to be successful, including health care, a quality environment, a good education and occasionally a safety net for folks who need it.  It seems to me that Republicans have a vision that the best way for people to succeed is for government not to be involved.  I think that we need to work together to solve challenges.

Q: What do you see as the biggest issues facing Mukilteo at this point?

ML: The biggest challenges are in transportation.  With the high ferry traffic to and from Whidby Island we are becoming a transportation hub and we need to be better prepared for that volume.   We have the Boeing plant in our area which employs thousands.  I’d like to see us think about both short-term and long-term solutions, including rapid transit.

We also have an interesting regional issue – the possibility of a Paine Field expansion.  This is related to the discussion going on in Seattle about the possible expansion of Boeing Field.  In the late 1970’s, Snohomish County thought about expanding Paine Field as a secondary major airport in Western Washington.  There was a lot of discussion at the time and commitments were made not to expand Paine Field for public air traffic.  Those commitments were reaffirmed in 1992.  Nevertheless, the question gets raised periodically.  I don’t think an expansion makes sense for any number of reasons – the increase in traffic and noise, the need Boeing has for the field, and the need to repay the bonds for the Sea-Tac expansion. 

Other issues are the long-term economic development of the area.  We need local jobs so that residents don’t have to go to Seattle.  We need to protect local businesses.  I think the city could provide more assistance to local companies as we redevelop the waterfront for example. 

I also think that we have some magnificent and interested open spaces here.  There are deep ravines that are not developable.  We could expand the local park system and maybe involve school children to allow them to learn about ecosystems and generally make open spaces more user-friendly. 

Q: Why should people outside of Mukilteo care about electing you? 

ML: I think as progressive Democrats we have a stake in demonstrating that government can do positive things for people.  Local government is a lab for democracy.  I think we have the opportunity in Mukilteo to model positive progressive politics.  At the city level we could use bio-diesel fuel; we can offer apprenticeships; we can protect the civil rights of city employees; we can institute more public transportation, even simple things like Park & Ride lots.

Small communities are often over-looked as a place where public policy can make people’s lives better. 

And, of course, it might matter to people to counteract the fact that Tim Eyman also hails from Mukilteo.  It would be nice to be known for more than that. 

For more information or to contribute to Marko’s campaign, check out his website. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 24, 2005 at 06:39 PM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 22, 2005

Introducing our newest contributor

I'm pleased to introduce Andrew Wahl, the features editor and editorial cartoonist for The Wenatchee World, who'll be contributing the occasional editorial cartoon to Evergreen Politics.  (I know he's extended the same generous offer to a number of other progressive Washington blogs and that Goldy, perhaps among others, has also taken him up on it.)

Rather than introduce Andrew, I thought I'd let him introduce himself, in his medium of choice.  You can see more of his work on his website. 


(Click the image to see a larger version.)


Posted by Jon Stahl on July 22, 2005 at 01:19 PM in About Evergreen Politics | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 20, 2005

Revisions to the Mothership

Northwest Portal has made some wonderful revisions.  They now feature 156 progressive blogs out of Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Several of my favorites have been syndicated including Blatherwatch, Progressive Majority Washington and Blue Washington.  As I said in a comment on DailyKos:

Northwest Portal is becoming an important go-to site for progressives here. In Washington State, we have a blue oasis in the national red sea where we are doing at a state level what we'd like to see at a national level - reasonable environmental legislation, improvements in the lives of working people, thinking about the future. Consequently we've got a giant target on our chests. NWPortal provides us a place to learn from each other, support each other, urge each other on, and share where we can best focus our energy. The local blogoshere is the place to build the base. That's why it's so important.

Check it out.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 20, 2005 at 10:35 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 19, 2005

The Last Step in the Annual Citizen Lobbying Effort

I attended a Sierra Club potluck a week ago Sunday in Vancouver to honor Clark County legislators who supported the Clean Car bill and the Green Building bill that passed the Legislature this last session.  For the folks present, it was a chance to hang out with friends and fellow citizen activists.  The three legislators being honored – Senator Craig Pridemore and Representatives Deb Wallace and Bill Fromhold – were just part of the gang, a benefit of the small town atmosphere of Vancouver, where many of these same activists had helped elect these folks.  A fourth local Representative, Jim Moeller, was also honored but was not able to attend.

I dropped by because this was part of the cycle of citizen activism that I had been following since January when I attended an excellent citizen lobbying training that Holly Forrest, Legislative Chair for the Cascade chapter of the Sierra Club, organized and put together.  Then there was the incredibly well-organized Environmental Lobby Day in February that the Sierra Club and several other environmental groups sponsored.  In between then and now a lot of one on one lobbying had taken place as well as well-orchestrated attendance at key hearings.  It was an impressive campaign.  They not only assisted in getting two of the four bills they were lobbying for passed this session; they also encouraged and trained another set of citizen lobbyists to have an impact on their government. 

And, they knew to end this round with thanking the folks who’d cast the actual votes.  There had been a “Thank You” party in Seattle; now this one in Vancouver.  What a smart (and fun) way these folks do business. 

More after the fold.

Most of the time we were just hanging out, talking and eating the great food folks had brought.  But of course there was time for talking about our success.  Craig Engelking, the lobbyist for the Sierra Club in Olympia, said that we’d had a huge victory, one that wouldn’t have been possible without the folks in attendance here.  This was a particularly true statement for this group.  Many of these folks had earlier worked hard to get Craig Pridemore elected to the Senate from the 49th LD, one of the critical steps in gaining a Democratic majority and therefore a larger group of potential votes in the Senate and, as importantly, more environmentally-friendly Senate committee chairs. 

Engelking reminded us that it is particularly sweet to be able to pass environmental legislation in our state when the national scene is so dismal. 

Then Holly spoke.  She said that often the Sierra Club has to play defense, either resisting new bills that would damage the environment or requesting the governor to veto bad bills that get passed.  This year they were able to stop all the bills they didn’t like and did not have to ask for any gubernatorial vetos.  Then Holly introduced each of the three legislators present and talked about how pleased we should be to have such an outstanding team in Southwestern Washington.

Deb Wallace, who has been representative in the 17th LD for three years, said that good governance is a team effort between elected officials and citizen lobbyists.  She talked about the help that the Sierra Club and other organizations provide her that allows her to do her job better.

Representative Bill Fromhold, of the 49th LD, has been in the legislature for five years.  He said that the bills were passed this year because the environmental groups came together and were focused on what they wanted to see happen.

Newly elected Senator Craig Pridemore of the 49th LD said that having Democrats in control really matters.  It makes it much easier to get good legislation passed.  He was also quite appreciative of the assistance he had received as a newbie from his fellow Dems.

Holly then introduced her replacement as Legislative Chair – Heather Melton also of Clark County.  The job is a volunteer job that makes a tremendous difference in the success of the Sierra Club in the state.  Holly has done an amazing job and is going to be a hard act to follow.  She is going to spend the next year in Europe with her husband Nick and two children, Andrew and Katie, aka Bubbles.  They will spend much of their time in Ireland, some of it talking with Irish environmentalists.  She has promised to post the occasional article here.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 19, 2005 at 05:49 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 18, 2005

Rebuilding the Democratic Party

There's a great post on the Democratic Party and the need for change over at 43rd State Blues, a progressive blog out of Idaho and one of our nwportal neighbors.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 18, 2005 at 08:28 AM in National and International Politics | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 17, 2005

Initiatives 101 – Course by Goldy

Goldy’s got a great piece on the kidnapping of the initiative process in Washington State.  He comments on an article on the initiative process that David Ammons of the AP wrote and adds to it. 

These two paragraphs of Goldy’s ought to be tacked up on our bathroom walls so we can read them every day until we quit voting for initiatives:

The fact is, the initiative process has long ceased to be the populist safety-valve that was intended. Initiative sponsors like to tell voters that this is the only way to “send a message” to Olympia, but the message the sponsors send to voters is that government is the enemy. In that sense, even the most progressive initiative can work against the broader progressive agenda, as the very act of filing an initiative is commonly perceived as an indictment of our elected officials.

As we have learned again from the saga of I-872, initiatives are typically poorly crafted, and often downright unconstitutional. But when the courts do their job and toss out an illegal initiative, the sponsors cynically use that too to fan the flames of anti-government fervor. Look at some of our state’s most profligate initiative sponsors – Tim Eyman, John Carlson, the BIAW, the gambling industry – these are all people and organizations with a radical vision of a dramatically smaller and weaker government, with little taxing power and even less regulatory authority. Outside the mainstream of political opinion, they cloak their agenda in populist clothing, while often appealing to our basest, most selfish instincts.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 17, 2005 at 10:59 PM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Story Shifts, Swirls, Gets Ever-Larger

We turn a corner.  The last 10 days have been spent chasing after the individual threads of this fascinating, gut-wrenching story about the abuse of power in the Bush administration.  The press, prodded along by the netroots, gets pieces right and get praised or get them wrong and get chastised.  The feedback alters their behavior; they appear to care what we think of them and the reports tend to become more real.  People who possess amazing pieces of the puzzle but haven’t had direct access to the public in the past – like Pat Lang and Larry Johnston – are finding the blogsphere to be a way to tell their story on their terms and to connect their piece to the whole, like so many starlings joining an ever increasing flock.

The communications amongst so many bright and committed people in real time moves the story along quite quickly.  The flock turns all of a piece.  And just in the last day, the visionaries amongst us are drawing the outlines of a larger picture, a more historical view.  They are already jumps ahead of the press but it will not be long.  The press is ready to burst its fetters and join in.

Stirling Newberry at The Blogging of the President has an excellent essay clarifying what we’ve learned in these last 10 days and putting it together for us into a simple story.  Billmon is writing profusely with clarity and a realistic assessment of the situation.  They are both into another stage of the story.  We move from wondering whether one or more of the pieces are true (and figuring that at least a couple are true, at least about Rove) to realizing that we will have to prepare to pry the reins of this corrupt, self-serving cabal out of their hands and prepare for a transition very quickly.  We probably have two to three years to take some significant steps toward getting this country back and getting ourselves prepared to mop up and move forward.   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 17, 2005 at 10:17 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

Playing "Clue"; Telling Stories

Was it Rove at the White House planting stories?  Or Miller at the Times channeling Chalabi?  Or Bolton in the State Department gathering names? 

Or, as bloggers and the netroots community does more research and spur the reporters on, we are learning that it might possibly turn out to be even bigger than Watergate.  It might be Cheney harassing the CIA to provide fake intelligence on Iraq.  Or the Iraq Group – Andrew Card, Karl Rove, Karen Hughes, Mary Matalin, James R. Wilkinson, Nicholas E. Calio,  Conci Rice, Stephen Hadley, and Lewis (Scooter) Libby, essentially the entire White House senior staff, behind a massive campaign of lying.  Or Bush playing Nixon trying to shut down all dissent.   

Or the CIA outing the White House, looking to get back for the leak of one of their own and the subsequent need to close down a very important CIA front company. 

This game of Clue has spun into frenzy as the potential for massive scandal looms larger.  They’ve hammered Scotty McClellan for answers.  The NYTimes is asking about the memo on Air Force One.  The LATimes is talking about the damage to long-term CIA operations.  It’s starting to look like the fury and humiliation of the mainstream media has finally been unleashed and is being channeled into getting to the bottom of something.  It feels like the beginning of O.J.’s criminal trial or the summer when Clinton’s reckless behavior started taking over the national conversation.  The media smells blood. 

People love stories.  The media loves to give it to them.  In this case the netroots is driving these stories, not the Democratic Party. Democrats have generally been piss poor at pointing the media to issues that matter or telling stories that resonate with the populace.  While the Republicans have consistently used events to tell the stories they want told.   

The netroots can and do unearth the lying, the corruption, and the incompetence.  They can present the stories that should be told.  But at this point, they can not get the mainstream media to act without the collaboration of name Democrats.  It’s the name Democrats who can go on talk shows and call press conferences. 

When they do, they have to have good stories.

Today, Jon Stahl on this blog points out how inept the Washington State anti-912 coalition is.   National Democrats have been reluctant to go after Republicans on corruption, massive as it has been in most of the country.  In order to take advantage of the incredible mess that the Republicans have driven this country into, the Democrats and progressives have to be able to tell stories that the electorate can understand.  This is a critical part of taking our country back, of rebuilding our democracy.

Get to it. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 16, 2005 at 11:50 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

An Alternate Intelligent Design Theory

Sometimes a little humor goes a long ways to clarifying stupidity.  This open letter to the Kansas School Board says it all. 

A hat tip to my sister, Lisa

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 16, 2005 at 09:58 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Breaking dysfunctional campaign patterns

Michael Hood takes a look at the anti-912 team and doesn't like what he sees.

Keep Washington Rolling, the well-funded, too-little-too-late campaign should have effective speakers ready and willing to meet the public whereever they are--even if--especially if-- it's in drivetime on the conservative airwaves.

Instead, they act as if it were 1990, and these rude boyz exhorting the Outer Rings with their bullhorns from downtown Seattle don't exist.

They act like Tim Eyman is a mythical beast. (they were half right)

They acted as if all you have to be is right, and all you have to do is what you've always have done: combine the forces of The Washington Roundtable, the State Labor Council, the Governor's office, Seattle's biggest and wealthiest law firms, the editorial pages of the eight largest newspapers in the state, and the majority in both houses of the legislature and it'll all go away.

This strategy hasn't worked in years. Nobody cares about what business, or the unions think. People distrust lawyers and politicians.   Few read newspapers and of those who do, even fewer read the editorial pages.

But they trust the the blabberjockeys who pound the sand up their ass as they shower in the morning, or sit on the john, or in their cars in the evening gridlock.

He's totally right.  And Joel Connelley's column this week makes many similar points about the dysfunctional patterns of our "no" campaigns. The thing that frustrates me the most is Connelley's description of how "over-the-hill Olympia lobbyists and consultants waste the [campaign] war chest,
shooting down every original idea. They produce a dreary TV spot,
showing a Boeing machinist saying the initiative makes life tougher for
working people."

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 16, 2005 at 12:01 AM in Ballot Initiatives | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 15, 2005

"Top two" primary is history

Judge Thomas Zilly struck down the"top two" primary today.  Like many local political bloggers both right and left, I think this is a good decision. 

The purpose of a primary election is to choose the candidates to represent a political party.  It's totally reasonable to only allow those who identify themselves with a party to participate in making that choice. 

And yes, Instant Runoff Voting would be even better.

And yes, proportional representation would be even better than that. 

Someday.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 15, 2005 at 11:21 PM in Candidate Races | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Enron to Pay $1.5 Billion to CA, WA, and OR

Just in, the Seattle Times has an article on the settlement.  Here's the essence of it:
Bankrupt energy company Enron Corp. has agreed to pay more than $1.5 billion to resolve claims that it gouged California and other western states including Washington and Oregon during the 2000-2001 energy crisis, state officials said.

Assuming FERC agrees, Washington State will get $22.5 million from the unsecured settlement and a portion of the $600 million penalty.

Thanks to Senator Maria Cantwell for unearthing the evidence of the illegal Enron transactions, publicizing it and insisting that the unwilling Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) give Washington tax-payers some relief. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 15, 2005 at 12:37 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 14, 2005

Young Dems to Meet in S.F.

The National convention of the Young Democrats of America meets in San Francisco August 3-7.  Attendees have the option of attending one of three training tracks: Growing Your Chapter, Building Your Campaign Skills or Running for Office as a Young Candidate.  If you would like to attend or know someone who would, registration still appears to be open. 

Over at mydd.com, there's a call for using the opportunity to take some needed steps to reform the Democratic Party.  Here's part of the post. 

Because in spite of the active participation and leadership of a number of capable young progressive leaders within the YDA, the organization remains by and large a professional networking club for aspiring politicians, an MBA program for Democratic office-seekers. There's little to attract young progressives to the YDA whose political motivations are not driven by their career ambitions.

That's not just a problem for the YDA. That's a problem for all Democrats, and even more broadly, for all progressives. The Republican Party is very, very adept at cultivating a vanguard among its young partisans, and seeding the world with it. We're not. Unless progressives start taking youth organizations like the YDA much more seriously, the next generation of Democratic leaders is going to be another bumper crop of party hacks. What we need is leaders, not professional insiders, and for that it's going to take a sustained effort to change the culture of the YDA, both from the inside and from the outside.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 14, 2005 at 09:16 PM in Inside Baseball | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 13, 2005

A new site for news junkies: CommonTimes.org

I thought you Evergreeners might be interested in my new site, CommonTimes.org:

Today, we’re announcing an early test-release of CommonTimes.org, our newest member site of the CommonMedia family. We hope you’ll give it a try and share it with your friends.

What is CommonTimes?

CommonTimes is a social bookmarking site for news readers. Or, in simpler terms, CommonTimes is a news site that publishes stories based on how frequently you choose to bookmark them. The more widely our readers collect certain stories, the more prominently they will appear on our Web site.

If you imagine the mainstream media exists at one extreme of top-down content control where a small group of editors determine what appears in the News, CommonTimes is exactly the opposite – a bottom up news site at which grassroots Web readers determine the top stories by bookmarking them as they browse.

Comparatively, CommonTimes is to news what Del.icio.us and Yahoo’s MyWeb are to Internet bookmarks. Contrary to Google News, a closed, automated system limited to mainstream media stories, CommonTimes is an open community system that accepts content from any news site or blog – and is entirely driven by our readers. For example, while Slashdot and Grist Magazine provide a tightly controlled top-down filter of technology and environmental news that only rarely makes the mainstream media, our sections provide a bottom-up view of stories our readers feel are important from any source which may well integrate stories from the latter.

News it what our community decides is news.

Continue reading the full announcement here

UPDATED:

I've written a post summarizing ten ways to use CommonTimes which may be helpful to you getting started with the site.

Bloglines readers may also be interested in our GreaseMonkey script that allows you to add stories to CommonTimes directly from Bloglines with Firefox.

Posted by Jeff on July 13, 2005 at 02:05 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 12, 2005

Seattle PI Calls for Bush to Fire Rove

The Seattle PI Editorial Board is calling for President Bush to fire Karl Rove:

The president would bring credit to himself and his administration by firing Rove immediately. Whether or not Rove violated the law, his actions on behalf of the administration broke trust with the American people and with the president's own stated view of the matter. Minimally, enough is known that the president must suspend Rove and cease all contacts with Rove until the investigation is complete. Rove, it appears, cannot be trusted with the United States' secrets.

But this stops well short of where it should. The question isn't whether Rove should be fired... it's what the President knew, and when he knew it.  At a minimum, they've both repeatedly lied to the American people.  At worst, Rove, Bush and their co-conspirators have committed treason.

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 12, 2005 at 01:36 AM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

What Would You Do With...

... an archive of every minute of broadcasting from Seattle's right-wing talk radio stations?

Seriously, putting together a digital archive -- for research purposes only, well within Fair Use guidelines -- is probably easier and less expensive than you might think.

Who could use such an archive to watchdog the radical right?  How would you use it?

Michael?  Goldy?  I know you're big talk radio fans.  Anyone else?

hat

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 12, 2005 at 12:48 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 10, 2005

UCC Church Gets Vandalized Following Affirmation of Gay Marriage

The United Church of Christ is the first mainline protestant church to affirm the full civil and religious equality of same-gender marriage.  The General Synod of the church did so last week at their annual meeting.  Then yesterday they report that a UCC church in Staunton, Virginia, was vandalized with anti-gay graffiti. 

From Chuck Currie, a UCC seminarian with a blog, we get the story, first reported in the NewsLeader, a local newspaper out of the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia:

A small fire was set in St. John’s Reformed United Church of Christ this morning and anti-gay graffiti was painted on the side of the building.

The outside of the church was vandalized with anti-gay messages and a declaration that United Church of Christ members were sinners. The graffiti’s message appeared to be a reference to the national church’s decision earlier this week to endorse gay and lesbian marriages.

The United Church of Christ’s General Synod voted Monday in Atlanta to approve a resolution that is accepting of gay and lesbian marriages but is not binding on local congregations.

A member of the congregation discovered the graffiti Saturday morning when he stopped by to mow the grass. He went into the church building, and when he opened the sanctuary there was still a small fire.

More on the story after the fold.

Currie goes on, talking about the hate crime aspects:

It is tragic that whoever committed this hate crime did so because they were misled into believing that supporting legal equality for gays and lesbians is sinful. It simply is not.

The rhetoric of the religious right and their allies in the political right – who claim that homosexuality is a sin – must take some of the responsibility for the increase in hate crimes such as this one.

Albert Mohler, the prominent Southern Baptist leader, has even compared legal and legislative decisions in support of gay marriage to the attacks against the United States on September 11th. People hear that kind of hateful preaching and believe they are acting as faithful Christians as they torch churches or beat up gays.

This is the same church that was rebuffed by both CBS and NBS last November when they asked to run ads welcoming all people to their churches.  Their ads, which included the words, "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we" were described as being too controversial.  You may have seen the ads anyway since ABC and several cable stations did run the ads.   Note: Two other UCC churches were vandalized in the Shenandoah Valley after these ads were run.

UCC has a very nifty website and news updates on what they are up to.  They even had a blog for people to comment on the proceedings of the General Synod last week.  Not surprisingly the number of people looking to find out information about attending UCC churches is up. 

Via Talk to Action. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2005 at 09:39 AM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Newsweek Has the Goods on Rove

David Corn, in a post at Huffington Post this morning, points us to Newsweek's article on Karl Rove.  How sweet that it it Newsweek that is first to the gate on this.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 10, 2005 at 08:43 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 09, 2005

Are "Wildlife Bridges" Over I-90 Really a Good Idea?

Washington State is contemplating widening the I-90 corridor over the Cascades.  (You knew that, right?)  They're also contemplating building $113 million worth of "wildlife bridges" to help critters like bear, deer and elk cross the widened road more safely.  A number of Washington environmental groups, led by the Northwest Ecosystem Alliance, are mounting a campaign in favor of the wildlife bridges.

But Eric de Place at Cascadia Scorecard is raising some questions about whether this is such a good idea.  His argument against this seemingly-attractive idea is threefold: 1) Widening I-90 promotes sprawl, which promotes global warming, both of which harm wildlife habitat.  2) There are better wildlife conservation uses for $113 million.  3) The main species that will benefit from this project (bear, deer, elk) don't need the help.

While I'm not intimately familiar with the science or the transportation policy here, I think Eric's arguments are pretty sound.  I-90 is plenty wide enough, and this sounds like the kind of project that soaks up money and attention without either changing the rules of the game or building power.

What do you think?

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 9, 2005 at 02:50 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Democrats Need to Catch Up

It seems Democrats raised as much money in 2004 but the Republicans “got more bang for their buck”, verifying what many of us suspected.  I just stumbled over this old (from December) but critical article from Thomas Edsall and James Grimaldi of the Washington Post.  They examined campaign funding and spending data and interviewed campaign officials and independent groups on both sides.  They say in summary, “The Democrats simply did not spend their money as effectively as Bush.” 

Particularly in regard to television ads, the Republicans got more for their money.  Kerry, the DNC and the progressive 527’s spent $344 million on television ads, while Bush and the GOP counterparts spent about $289 million. 

In a $2.2 billion election, two relatively small expenditures by Bush and his allies stand out for their impact: the $546,000 ad buy by Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Bush campaign's $3.25 million contract with the firm TargetPoint Consulting. The first portrayed Kerry in unrelentingly negative terms, permanently damaging him, while the second produced dramatic innovations in direct mail and voter technology, enabling Bush to identify and target potential voters with pinpoint precision.

Those tactical successes were part of the overall advantage the Bush campaign maintained over Kerry in terms of planning, decision-making and strategy. The Kerry campaign, in addition to being outspent at key times, was outorganized and outthought, as Democratic professionals grudgingly admit.

"They were smart. They came into our neighborhoods. They came into Democratic areas with very specific targeted messages to take Democratic voters away from us," Democratic National Committee Chairman Terence R. McAuliffe said. "They were much more sophisticated in their message delivery."

Because they were so much better organized and they started early, the Republicans also increased voter turnout by more than the Democrats did: Bush increased his vote by 10.5 million vs. a 6.8 million increase for Kerry.

A large part of Bush's advantage derived from being an incumbent who did not face a challenger from his party. He also benefited from the experience and continuity of a campaign hierarchy, based on a corporate model, that had essentially stayed intact since Bush's 1998 reelection race for Texas governor.

More after the flip.

Critical Early Decisions

Realizing that most voters already either liked or despised Bush and were unlikely to change their votes, the Republicans made an early decision to focus on “soft” Republicans, those folks who were inclined to vote for Bush but were either unregistered or who often failed to vote.  

"We systematically allocated all the main resources of the campaign to the twin goals of motivation and persuasion. The media, the voter targeting, the mail -- all were based off that strategic decision," Republican pollster Matthew Dowd said.

Republican officials said they put $50 million into "ground war" drives to register and turn out millions of new voters in 2001 and 2002, and an additional $125 million after that.

The 527 organizations are not in sync with the campaign

What about the 527’s, the organizations like MoveOn.org, the Media Fund and ACT, whose support was supposed to provide Kerry the margin of victory?   Edsall and Grimaldi say that by the time Kerry started his general election campaign, after his primary election victory in March 2004, there were legal restrictions on cooperation between the campaign and the independent 527 organizations.  Their messages turned out to be out of harmony with the Kerry campaign. 

In March and April, the Kerry campaign would have liked positive biographical ads out but didn’t have the money to do it.  The Democratic 527’s had the money but were airing negative ads against Bush.  By the time the Kerry campaign had the money to air positive ads two months later, the Bush campaign and their allies had battered Kerry, changing the ratio of his positive to negative ratings in key battleground states. 

Research Changes Tactics

The 2002 elections were testing grounds for Republican efforts to mobilize voters. 

Under Dowd's direction, the RNC began investing in extensive voter research. One of the most striking findings, according to Republican consultants, was the ineffectiveness of traditional phone banks and direct mail that targeted voters in overwhelmingly Republican precincts. The problem: Only 15 percent of all GOP voters lived in precincts that voted Republican by 65 percent or more. Worse, an even smaller percentage of "soft" Republicans, the 2004 target constituency, lived in such precincts.

The RNC decided to cast a wider net for voters. But to work, Dowd's motivation and mobilization strategy needed expensive, high-tech micro targeting to cherry-pick prospective Republicans who lived in majority Democratic neighborhoods.

Republican firms, including TargetPoint Consultants and National Media Inc., delved into commercial databases that pinpointed consumer buying patterns and television-watching habits to unearth such information as Coors beer and bourbon drinkers skewing Republican, brandy and cognac drinkers tilting Democratic; college football TV viewers were more Republican than those who watch professional football; viewers of Fox News were overwhelmingly committed to vote for Bush; homes with telephone caller ID tended to be Republican; people interested in gambling, fashion and theater tended to be Democratic.

Surveys of people on these consumer data lists were then used to determine "anger points" (late-term abortion, trial lawyer fees, estate taxes) that coincided with the Bush agenda for as many as 32 categories of voters, each identifiable by income, magazine subscriptions, favorite television shows and other "flags." Merging this data, in turn, enabled those running direct mail, precinct walking and phone bank programs to target each voter with a tailored message.

"You used to get a tape-recorded voice of Ronald Reagan telling you how important it was to vote. That was our get-out-the-vote effort," said Alex Gage, of TargetPoint. Now, he said, calls can be targeted to specific constituencies so that, for example, a "right to life voter" could get a call warning that "if you don't come out and vote, the number of abortions next year is going to go up. "

Dowd estimated that, in part through the work of TargetPoint and other research, the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to "quadruple the number" of Republican voters who could be targeted through direct mail, phone banks and knocking on doors.

Democrats had access to similar data files. But the Bush campaign and the RNC were able to make far better use of the data because they had the time and money to conduct repeated field tests in the 2002 and 2003 elections, to finance advanced research on meshing databases with polling information, and to clean up and revise databases that almost invariably contained errors and omissions.

The Swift-Boat Veterans Ads

The first Swift Boat Veterans ads aired on just four cable channels at a cost of $546,000 but received free coverage that was priceless.  The Swift Boat Veterans eventually spent $28 million raising questions about Kerry’s service in the Vietnam War.  During this time the Kerry campaign barely countered the ads because they were trying to conserve their money for later in the campaign.  Harold Ickes of the Media Fund said, “he regretted not responding to the Swift Boat Veterans’ attacks, but at the time he thought they seemed ‘a matter so personal to Senator Kerry, so much within his knowledge.  Who knew what the facts were?”

How the Money was Spent: A Focus on Non-traditional Media

The Bush campaign's early strategy decisions shaped GOP spending. Under the guidance of Rove, Dowd and Mehlman, the Bush campaign had financed early research into ways to communicate to center-right voters through nontraditional media.

The Bush campaign concluded that many of their voters did not trust the networks and the establishment press, and therefore did not trust messages transmitted through them.

Mehlman said that talk radio and cable television "are more credible" to potential Bush voters. Ultimately the Bush campaign invested an unprecedented $20 million in narrowly targeted advertising on cable and in radio, with a heavy emphasis on religious, talk and country and western stations, and such specialty outlets as golf and health club channels.

"They did a lot of stuff really well. They were ahead of us," said one of the Democrats' get-out-the-vote managers who did not want to be identified. "They had a strategy set by the beginning that they were going to live and die by. And we didn't."

In an election with a 2.6 percent margin of victory, the Bush campaign was run to ensure that every dollar went to fulfill core strategies, that resources were allocated to capitalize on Bush's strengths and on Kerry's vulnerabilities, and that the money necessary to finance research, technological advance, television and the ground war was available when needed.

Ouch.  Time to catch up. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 9, 2005 at 02:12 PM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Building the Base to Build the Party

Chris Bowers, one of my favorite new political thinkers and blogger at mydd.com, has a great post about the importance of building our base in order to build the Party.  He starts out responding to people who are critical of the progressive blogoshere because it is preaching to the choir. He says,

The short-term success of the new progressive media marketplace that is the activist progressive blogosphere has been to generate far more resources from our choir than we have at any other time over the past three decades. What was, for at least two decades, a pathetically single-minded model of voter persuasion, just go straight after swing voters, has now been replaced by the start of a circular model where we can do the following:

  • 1- Preach to the choir
  • 2- Activate the choir and generate revenue
  • 3- Use that revenue to target swingers and the unconverted
  • 4- Return to step one with an expanded choir

Progressive media is in its infancy, and its goal at this stage is not to convert and target the swing. The goal is, instead, to preach to the choir and activate the choir so that we have far more revenue so that we can eventually expand. If we only and ever target the swing, there is simply no way for us to expand our base, because as far as we are concerned the base plays no role in politics or media.

He goes on to reiterate that the left is out-pacing the right in regard to use of new media now. Progressive blogs are gaining readers faster than conservative blogs and progressive radio shows are gaining on conservative radio shows.

He ends by saying:

If we don't preach to the choir and activate the choir, we are dead. This dense, short-sighted, repetitive and endless focus on appealing to a shrinking center is not the way to go. It's not smart politics, and it is not smart business.

In Washington state, this is what we are all about, what Northwest Portal is all about, what the other progressive blogs are all about, what Goldy's forays into the right-wing radio shows is all about.  We are here to build the base and to cover the backside of our elected progressive leaders.   This community we are building, all of you included, is important.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 9, 2005 at 12:37 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 08, 2005

GOP Corruption Systematic and Widespread

The Carpetbagger brings together the various Republican corruption cases that we know about at a national level and it's lengthy.  We've been paying most attention to DeLay and Cunningham in the House and the massive corporate hand-outs coming from both Congress and the White House but he points out that the governors have gotten their hands in the cookie jar as well. 

In Ohio, Gov. Bob Taft (R) is overwhelmed by charges of corruption; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) seems to have become a magnet for controversy, and former Connecticut Gov. John Rowland (R) is currently behind bars.

And then there's Kentucky Gov. Ernie Fletcher (R), who is up to his ears in a major scandal involving his administration's hiring practices. In fact, earlier this year, documents, including notes and emails, came to light that showed Fletcher's hiring decisions were based almost exclusively on partisanship and not individual qualifications — you got a job in state government if you're a Republican, whether you deserved it or not.

The post is here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 8, 2005 at 08:14 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 06, 2005

Kudos to Monorail Leaders for Resigning

House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and Spokane Mayor Jim West could learn a thing or two from Joel Horn and Tom Weeks - the leaders of the Monorail project who resigned.

However, vice Chairman Kristina Hill did an enormous disservice by making broad statements about how we the team should stick to the bid and the monorail is within reach. Apparently, she didn't have her finger to the wind.

When KUOW aired the chosen sound bite from the opposition about the Monorail team be dilettantes and amateurs - it rung true.

The monorail team needs to take a step back - acknowledge that it's time to take a different tack on the project - and then make a statement.

I have to say the minute I heard Joel Horn's salary and saw the first full page ads for the Monorail - I knew this project was a little too eager to spend its cash.

One element of the very-far-west green line was that it is very out of the way. Although Ballard and West Seattle continue to grow - I wonder if the Monorail has been hurt by trying to avoid the main thoroughfare which Sound Transit has yet to build. A lot of the legitimate criticism of the costs of the Monorail are how remote the line is from most people in the city.

They need to have a plan to build a network that links into Sound Transit and makes more sense.

Posted by Jeff on July 6, 2005 at 08:03 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Support Open Dialogue in Seattle - Support American Voices

Foolproof's American Voices is at a crossroads. They are in a mid-summer crunch in which they need to get financial support/donors/early season ticket buyers to make it to the fall. They have a matching donor in place so every dollar you give is doubled.

AV has brought Bill Clinton, Al Franken, George Lakoff and many others - they have kept the pulse of democracy alive against the Bush administration's fascist efforts to turn over government to corporations.

So, I'd like to ask you to consider making a donation to Foolproof NOW.

Season tickets will be on sale shortly. For more information, email Marilyn.

Posted by Jeff on July 6, 2005 at 01:09 PM in Washington Culture | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Still Time to Vote in "Best of Seattle"

There’s still time to vote in the Seattle Weekly’s poll for “Best of Seattle”.  You have until July 11th to vote on “best gourmet burger”, “best street performer”, “best Pilates studio” and many more.  We wouldn’t presume to make suggestions about these very personal choices.   

But, we in the progressive blogging community have a few suggestions that could bolster our visibility in the larger community and counter-act the right-wing blogging and talk-show hosts focus.  Here’s some possibilities:

1)      Best Activist/Hell Raiser (David Goldstein – he won last year and he’s still at it)

2)      Best local blog (www.horsesass.org – we all like our own but Goldy’s is the go-to blog and he has the stomach to fence with the wingnut trolls)

3)      Best local website (www.nwportal.org – the mother site for the progressive blogging community)

4)      Best local talk radio host (again Goldy – he’s on a lot of shows and deserves his own)



Thanks.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2005 at 08:52 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Give Dean Some Leverage

Howard Dean is pushed hard to transform the Democratic Party in order to win elections.  Not surprisingly, he’s running into some difficulty with the Democratic establishment.  From the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, we hear that:

Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean is trying to get voters to hold the Republican Party responsible for the "culture of corruption" he sees in Washington, but Dean is getting virtually no help from fellow Democrats in the House of Representatives.

In the year since then-Rep. Chris Bell (D-Texas) filed a complaint that triggered the current ethics investigation of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Texas), not one Democrat has initiated another complaint despite the pleas of outside watchdog groups.

This is a very potent issue with voters and one that has the potential to really distinguish the Democrats from the corrupt Republicans.  Dean gets it.

Indeed, at the DNC's executive committee meeting in Washington in early June, Dean publicly acknowledged that some congressional Democrats had urged him to tone down his "culture of corruption" rhetoric because they did not want to get caught up in the same ethics probe as DeLay. But Dean said he would not hold back.

"We have not spoken about moral values in this party for a long time," Dean said. "The truth is, we're Democrats because of our moral values. It's a moral value to make sure that kids don't go to bed hungry at night. ... It is a moral value not to go out on golf trips paid for by lobbyists."

This would be a good time to support Dean to give him some leverage in this struggle with the Democratic establishment.  Buy one of those “Democracy Bonds” that the Democratic Party is asking us to buy to support their grassroots organizing.  I finally did it yesterday.  It’s like giving our local public radio or TV station the support they need to give us the programming we like.  Go buy a bond at the newly revamped DNC site

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 6, 2005 at 08:10 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 05, 2005

Rural Majority: A Voice of Reason in Rural King County

Rural Majority is a new organization formed by rural King County residents dedicated to protecting and preserving the quality of life in the less-developed parts of King County.  Right now, they're collecting signatures on a petition they plan to take to the King County Council this fall, asking the Council to:

  • Improve King County's communications with rural residents and property owners by creating a Rural Advisory Council
  • Provide better tax incentives for land protection
  • Establish a Small Land Owners Assistance Program to provide permit assistance to landowners working on development issues
  • Protect rural character and quality of life by preventing any further urban style development in the rural area, and by protecting the rural area from irresponsible development.

If you're concerned about the right-wing's "rural rage" campaign designed to promote the agendas of big developers, then this is your chance to let your voice be heard.  This is a grassroots campaign, so please help them spread the word!

Posted by Jon Stahl on July 5, 2005 at 09:50 PM in Policy | Permalink | Comments (3) | TrackBack

An Open Letter to My Younger Sister

I have a much younger sister, Lisa, who has sometimes said she was sorry that she wasn’t old enough to be involved in the late 60’s as I most definitely was.  She always thought she’d missed being part of the political vitality of that time.  I understand that.  I was too young to take part in the Civil Rights Movement which I felt like I missed out on but I was right there with the anti-Vietnam War rallies, the social experimenting of that time, and the environmental movement and I enjoyed it.   

On Friday, after hearing that O’Connor had resigned, I thought that Lisa is going to get what she wished for. 

But I am so sorry for her and for all of us.  I would have much preferred a time when we could build community together, all of us, red and blue and purple.  Instead, it sometimes feels like we are about to really see a new version of the Vietnam War era, maybe with some parts of a softer McCarthy Era and a non-violent version of the Civil War thrown in as well.  Or possibly, if the story about Rove outing Plame and committing perjury really has the legs that it’s starting to have, we can throw in Watergate as well. 

I would not have wished what I fear is coming on any of us.  I would rather continue to spend my discretionary time and money on writing and playing with my beautiful young niece and finding new hiking trails and camping in Mexico.  I can and will still do some of that of course but increasingly I find that I will choose to spend some part of my discretionary time and money on rebuilding democracy in this country.

And that has forced me to try to see why this happened – why did we get this awful administration?  How did we get a Democratic Party so inept and sometimes not easily distinguishable from the corporate side of the Republican Party?  Why is it that we, and so many people of other generations as well, have to get in and mop up this mess?

All I can think is that we didn’t finish the job we started to do in the late 60’s.  The Vietnam War ended; the Civil Rights laws were in place; governmental money was being spent on decreasing poverty; the gap between the rich and the poor was at the narrowest point in history; environmental laws were enacted, and so on.  We didn’t understand that democracy is an on-going process, not something we can step in and “fix” periodically.  We allowed ourselves to get complacent and did not stay on top of the Democratic Party, let alone national politics.   Then we could not believe our eyes when the right wing started kicking our butts.  With the election of Clinton, we thought we were safe but we weren’t.  We didn’t realize that he was an anomaly – a once-in-a-generation charismatic politician.  And the rest we know.   

So this time we are going to have to stay with it past what is likely to be a long and arduous mop-up time in order to establish a sustaining and on-going democracy as well as a healthy Democratic Party.  So, welcome sister and all of you who are choosing to be part of this.  We will need all of us. 

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 5, 2005 at 03:01 PM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack

July 04, 2005

Dean Makes Speaking Up Fashionable Again

Sally Jenkins, columnist at the Washington Post, had a great article on Howard Dean yesterday.  After all the negative press Dean has had, it's nice to see a well-thought out story on what he is doing.  It’s a long article, going into his lifestory in great detail.  Here are a few of the best paragraphs, including a great story about Dean and Harry Reid, which just made me appreciate both of them even more.  Here are some excerpts:

But Dean is also the guy who made speaking up fashionable again for Democrats. And that is one reason his party is wagering on him. If Dean says things that are ill-considered, he also remains his party's leading rebel -- one with enough fresh fight in him to take on not only Republicans but also those change-resistant Democrats who would rather be titular heads of a dying party than less relevant figures in a renewed one. The hope for Democrats is: Dean will be the antidote for a party that is lacking a strong message and that needs somebody, anybody, to say something. Dean likes to quote his political hero, Harry Truman. "I don't give 'em hell," Truman said in 1948. "I just tell the truth, and they think it's hell." And the truth, as Dean sees it, is that mushmouthedness is killing the party, and so is voter neglect. "Somebody has to take those right wingers on," he says, "and I enjoy doing it."

More after the fold.

Later, in describing an appearance Dean made, we get this interchange:

A young man stood up and asked what he could do to help the party, other than give money, which he didn't have. Dean bobbed on his feet, delighted with the question, because it allowed him to show off his best side -- the side that grew a presidential candidacy from a small Vermont operation with seven employees into a national campaign with 600,000 supporters.

"The number one thing you can do is run for office."

[Class giggles]

"I'm absolutely serious. I am not kidding."

The class grew quiet. Here was Dean as a Johnny Appleseed, sowing civics in the young. While Democrats have conceded parts of the country considered hostile, Republicans have left no office untested, he pointed out. The result is that Dems have no farm system, no ability to find young political talent in red states and groom it.

Run, he urged the students. Run for county road commissioner. Run for city council. "If you don't have people running for offices like county commissioner, who do you think is going to run for Congress a generation from now?

And here is the story about Dean’s first meeting with Harry Reid, as told to Jenkins by Tom Ochs, a media consultant and member of Dean’s DNC transition team:

But Dean considered the job doable, and winnable, even if others didn't. It was an act of sheer political will that he got himself elected, despite widespread opposition. Among those who opposed him was Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada. "He wasn't my first choice," Reid says, "but I admire the way he got the job." An example of Dean's determined buoyancy came when he requested a meeting with Reid to make his pitch. After Dean emerged from Reid's office, Ochs recalls asking anxiously, "How did it go?"

Dean said, "Oh, it went great."

"Really?"

"Yeah, he's not for me."

"Okaaaay," Ochs said. "So, why did it go great?"

"Well, I like him," Dean said. "He just told me right off. He was real straight up about it. He doesn't think I'm the right guy. He doesn't think I should do it. But I like that. When I win this, we'll be able to work together."

Lastly, from Bob Rogan, Dean’s former campaign manager:

"Everyone totally underestimates him. But he's a very smart guy, and a hard worker, and he's got a phenomenal political instinct. I realize a lot of Democrats are nervous about him, but they should just relax, and he will reenergize this party."

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 4, 2005 at 07:30 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Rove/Plame Affair - This Story Has Legs

There are folks in the liberal blogoshere doing some excellent research and reporting this weekend and it is starting to look like there is a real story here that the press is starting to pick up on.  But Digby reminds us that how we tell the story will make all the difference.  The Republicans have managed to cut the legs out from under other important stories before.  We can’t let them do that this time.  Here’s the story as Digby frames it:

The Bush administration lied about its reasons for the war in Iraq. When a critic stepped up to expose one of the lies the Whitehouse blew his wife's identity as an undercover CIA agent. They did this to exact revenge against what they saw as a political enemy and to intimidate those who would further expose the administration, potentially endangering both lives and intelligence operations around the world.

He goes on to clarify the facts as we know them now.  More after the fold.

The Bush administration lied about its reasons for the war in Iraq. When a critic stepped up to expose one of the lies the Whitehouse blew his wife's identity as an undercover CIA agent. They did this to exact revenge against what they saw as a political enemy and to intimidate those who would further expose the administration, potentially endangering both lives and intelligence operations around the world.

President Bush's chief political adviser, Karl Rove, told the FBI in an interview last October that he circulated and discussed damaging information regarding CIA operative Valerie Plame with others in the White House, outside political consultants, and journalists, according to a government official and an attorney familiar with the ongoing special counsel's investigation of the matter.

But Rove also adamantly insisted to the FBI that he was not the administration official who leaked the information that Plame was a covert CIA operative to conservative columnist Robert Novak last July. Rather, Rove insisted, he had only circulated information about Plame after it had appeared in Novak's column. He also told the FBI, the same sources said, that circulating the information was a legitimate means to counter what he claimed was politically motivated criticism of the Bush administration by Plame's husband, former Ambassador Joseph Wilson.

Rove and other White House officials described to the FBI what sources characterized as an aggressive campaign to discredit Wilson through the leaking and disseminating of derogatory information regarding him and his wife to the press, utilizing proxies such as conservative interest groups and the Republican National Committee to achieve those ends, and distributing talking points to allies of the administration on Capitol Hill and elsewhere. Rove is said to have named at least six other administration officials who were involved in the effort to discredit Wilson.

Here's the thing, though. Let's not forget that Wilson was right. There was no yellowcake. Rove and his minions discredited Wilson and destroyed his wife's cover because he was telling the truth.

Democrats really need to rise to the occasion this time. There remains a serious danger of the whole thing getting purposefully muddied by GOP spin artists as it usually is and there is just no excuse for it.

And later he adds:

That's why we have to be prepared with a story people can understand and be prepared to tie it in to what they are beginning to see happened with the Iraq war. In Hollywood, screewriters and readers are asked to distill the plot into a single sentence called a logline. Here's the logline for the Plame Scandal:

Karl Rove and others in the White House exposed an undercover CIA agent in order to cover up their lies about Iraq.

If we can get to the bottom of this story, it may be even more treasonous than what we already have.  From Billmon we get:

If there are strands of evidence that tend to walk the responsibility for the production and/or disseminaton of those forged documents back to this side of the Atlantic, and if any of those strands lead towards the U.S. government, or "an internal working group dealing with Iraq" . . . well, Rove (and others) might find that perjury charges are the least of their worries.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 4, 2005 at 06:47 AM in Media | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 02, 2005

Looking at the Face of War

Daniel over at "On the Road to 2008" has a great post today speculating about a photograph of a young U.S. soldier in combat.  He reminds us of what we are asking of these unbearable young people. 

I ask "Is sending these young men and women over to Iraq to fight something that we are going to be proud of having done on July 4th in twenty years?  What are we going to do to take back this country and reclaim and rebuild our democracy?  What are we personally willing to do to make this happen?"   

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2005 at 09:30 PM in Media | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Eyes on the Prize

Shaun, over at Upper Left, has a post about what's really important in all this uproar over the Supreme Court nomination and the passing of CAFTA.  We don't have the votes.  It's winning elections.  As he says,

"Eyes on the prize, people…

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2005 at 11:54 AM in Strategery | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Interesting History of Saddam and the U.S.

Stirling Newberry, over at the Blogging of the President, has a fascinating essay on the history of Saddam and the C.I.A., apparently notes from a book he is likely to be publishing.  For someone like me, who appreciates understanding the history behind current events, it's a good read.  But it will also become more relevant once the trial of Saddam starts up sometime this summer.  Apparently the Iraqi government is ready to go but the U.S. has had the brakes on, probably because they don't want any public attention placed on this history.  Count on the Saddam trial to start up right about the time we are embroiled in the great upcoming hubbub over O'Connor's replacement.

If you are reading this post after July 2nd, you can find the piece in their blog archives here.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 2, 2005 at 11:27 AM in Miscellany | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 01, 2005

Interview with a Newbie State Rep - Mike Sells

“There’s not a thing in life that’s not affected by politics.”  So says new Washington State legislator Mike Sells, now a Representative from the 38th LD which includes most of Everett, Marysville and Tulalip.  I interviewed Sells, whom I knew through a friend and had talked to several times over the last six months.  I asked him how he became interested in politics, what prompted him to run for the state legislature and what it was like to serve in the State House for the first time during this highly successful year. 

What struck me after interviewing Mike was just how dedicated he is about serving his constituents and all of us in the State of Washington.  I’m sure that most representatives do just that – represent their constituents.  It’s a lesson in how important it is to make our views known to our representatives at all levels. 

“I think my interest in politics goes back to a very early age,” Sells says. “I have always been interested in History and Biography, and have read voraciously even in elementary school. I think it was fueled later in life for what constituted good leadership. With that perspective, you couldn’t live through the Civil rights era and Vietnam without connecting to politics in some way. My first job in education, however, moved me closer to activism through the labor movement. Eventually, I found myself the President of union, and it went from there”.

Aside from his life experiences, he says it was satire that instilled his interest in politics – watching Pat Paulsen, “That Was the Week that Was” and later, “Saturday Night Live.”  (A good way for all you Jon Stewart fans to get started.) 

During this, his first session, Mike has been on the go constantly.  Now that the session is over, he can feel how tired he got but at the time, he just put his head down and worked from 8:00 in the morning until 10:00 or later at night.  He continues to focus on constituent interests and issues and says that there is always someone who wants his time.  Still, he said it surprised him sometimes to look up at the vaulted dome of the Capitol Building and realize that he was really there, doing this work.  We should be grateful that he is.

The interview is after the fold. 

Q: What did you do before running for the House?

I was a teacher in Everett for many years.  I could see there was a need to impact what happened in the classroom, particularly how education is funded and teachers are paid. 

I served as President of the Everett Education Association and then went on to serve as the President of the Everett Education Association and most recently as Secretary-Treasurer of the Snohomish County Labor Council.  So, for many years, everything I’ve done has involved politics. 

Q: What prompted you to run for the Legislature?

MS: There were issues I cared deeply about (especially education) and I didn’t think the district was getting the quality of representation that I thought it deserved.  Plus, the polls said I’d win if I ran.  I worked hard to win, doorbelling constantly, and pulled 58% in both the primary and in the general.

Q: What’s your District like? Who are your constituents?

MS: It’s a strong Democratic district with a high density of working class and labor families. I'd say from the door-belling I've done that their #1 concern is keeping their jobs.  The 38th includes most of downtown Everett, Boeing Field, part of downtown Marysville and the Tulalip reservation.  The other representative for this district, John McCoy, is native American.

Q: What did you want to accomplish going into the session?

MS:  I was focused on education, transportation and infrastructure issues.  As a newbie, I knew I wanted to impact the State Budget.  There are terrible traffic issues in my district so I asked to be on the Transportation Committee.  I also served as Vice Chair of the House Higher Education Committee, where one of my goals was to create more access to higher education for young people in Washington State.  And I knew I would be supporting Labor and stem cell research and the environmental issues that came up.

Q: And what were you able to accomplish?

MS: We, and I really like to think in terms of we, because of the help particularly from the Capital Budget chair, Hans Dunshee, and my seatmate, John McCoy, were able to get $38 million in the capital budget for local improvements which included $25 million for community college buildings. With the new transporation budget we were able to get over $75 million in projects dealing with safety and congestion issues for the district. It was helpful to have a guy like Ed Murray as Transportation, who was bold enough to exercise leadership on the gas tax issue so we could begin to take of many of those issues that had been languishing due to a lack of revenue.

On I-5 there has been terrible traffic congestion from Eastmont to Marysville. It is some, if not the worst, in the State at commute time. Marysville is becoming so urbanized the State DOT lowered the speed limit to 60 due to the fatal crashes on I-5.  We were able to get $41 million of that transportation budget money to change a left off-ramp that adds substantially to the congestion heading toward Highway 2.  I also worked with my colleagues on gaining a four year institution of higher education for this area. Next to southwest Washington, it is the most underserved area for baccalaureate degree programs. In an area in which aerospace is the prime industry, and a biotech sector which is in one of the top ten in the country, access to higher education is extremely important.  I was also active in working on apprenticeship utilization on public projects. The number of skilled building trades people set to retire in the next several years is astounding, and we need to have the programs to help replace those people.  I also worked a tuition waiver issue which leveled the playing field among regional universities in the state. 

Q: Any disappointments or issues you struggle with?

MS: The greatest struggle is around peoples’ beliefs regarding revenue.  They get their mind made up and say “We have to cut something else” besides their favorite item, even though they aren’t seeing the larger picture.  That is happening with the transportation package. They quite often want the changes in the package, but will tell you that you can get the revenue from elsewhere. If they do give you an “elsewhere” it always hits something vital to someone else, or doesn’t raise a tenth of percent of what is needed to fix the problem. I understand the frustration around tax issues and the frustration that the Republicans have about the question of sustainability in the budget.  We aren’t sure if the economic growth will be enough to deal with revenue issues.  We know that raising “sin taxes” isn’t necessarily a sustainable way to deal with funding issues.  We have structural tax issues and we will have to address that.

Mike added the following by email after the interview:

After a little reflection on your question after we hung up, watching HB 1515 go down on the Senate side by one vote was a disappointment. Many of us had gone over and stood in the foyers on the floor to watch the debate in the Senate. It was sort of a message of support for its passage. It added definitions of sexual orientation and creed to the Law Against Discrimination. So many have worked years on this piece of legislation. It will get through eventually, but should have passed this time.

Q: What was it like being a first-termer?

MS: The demands on my time were ferocious.  I was really tired after the session when I got back home.  When I was there, I just put my head down and went about doing what I needed to do.  We’d start at 8:00 AM unless there was a breakfast meeting at 7:00 AM.  Early in the session there were a lot of receptions so I was out nearly every evening until 10:00 or later. Near the end of the session we were on the floor late, sometimes until midnight, and one time until 2 AM.  It’s important to meet with as many people as you can to hear what they have to say. Between committee meetings, there were meetings with constituents and lobbyists, returning emails, returning phone calls.  I wasn’t tired at the time; I was just so focused.  But afterwards, when I got back home, I was tired for weeks. After I got back to work here in the community, I would feel a sense of exhaustion shortly after the noon hour. I couldn’t figure it out, until I talked with some of my other colleagues and heard similar stories. 

Q: What do you want to focus on next year?

MS: I want to look at the structural issues around taxes.  I want to look at the effects of the WASL tests.  That is going to be a hotter issue as the high stakes nature of the test kicks in. A big priority for me is a 4 year institution of higher learning for this area. I want to continue to help the people in my district around the transportation issues. We did a lot with money around the southern portion of the district, but we will need to do vastly more with I-5 north of city on safety issues and east/west access. I will need to get those projects on the agenda and moved up the priority list for budget access. I will also be working on a couple constituent request issues around spraying of toxic chemicals in apartment/condo complexes, and full disclosure of condominium rules at the point of sale. 

This year we raised tuition on college students and mandated that 25% of the raise in tuition will go back into the general fund.  I want to make sure that the increased portion of the tuition goes directly to the schools where it is being collected.  It just doesn’t seem right to raise the tuition 6% and then “clawback” a fourth of it into the general fund. I have already indicated to the House Higher Education Chair and Appropriations chair that I want to see that issue worked and changed. 

Q: Any surprises?

MS: Well, I was sometimes surprised to look up at that gorgeous vaulted ceiling in the Capitol Building and realize that I was really there, doing this work.

Thank you.

Posted by Lynn Allen on July 1, 2005 at 10:36 AM in Interviews | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack