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Everybody's Business - Public Corporate and Government Archives

January 9, 1984

Oops!

Through my involvement with Hampshire College's pioneering S. African divestiture policy (first in the US - the year prior to my freshman year) I was able to attend several of the very early meetings of the trade organization, the SRI Forum.

Below is a letter to a Hampshire College Board Member, John Watts, a Texas born investment banker/lawyer. It concerns the board's selection of an investment adviser, post their divestment decision. This letter introduces my John Watts story, below.

I don't know Mr. Watts 'business' profile, but another Hampshire Board member, Gerald Levin, ended up running Time Warner for a time. Purely speculation, but presumably this guy had a hand in it, though I've no idea of the power career of this 1980's investment banker. He's perhaps best know on campus for giving a graduation speech shortly after the Reagan era fall of the Berlin wall. Quote "The wicked witch of the east, socialism, is now dead". No mention of who the wicked witch of the west was, or is, but I'd suspect he had something, or someone, in mind.

I'd been warned about Mr. Watts, presumably because of actions regarding some of the first generation divestiture activists. I only recall one conversation with him. It was about a mountain area in Northern Mexico that we had both visited. (Creel, Chihuahua - a base of Pancho Villa's and a favorite of mine).

Perhaps my big mistake was later suggesting Republican Dan Evans, former president of Evergreen, to replace the outgoing College President. Mr. Evans was a Senate Colleague of Brock Adams, a parent and also a Board Member. Speculating here, but I'd guess that Evans' quick departure from the Senate was Brock's doing (in hindsight, rightly) and Evans in Adams' career ending scandal (in my opinion likely wrongly).

I've got a theory about some of this, with some additional evidence - more current. Not sure if it all would hold up, but it is something that could be investigated.

Continue reading "Oops!" »

May 15, 1984

Business Education and Social Responsibility

In the spring of 1984 I drafted a proposal for 'alternative' business education at my school, Hampshire College. This followed up on my earlier work in the field of Socially Responsible Investing - something documented in the Hampshire College archives.

Though some of the radical folks hated me I did establish good relationships with a few board members - I have a great story about hanging out with the IBM R&D V.P. and also met Secretary of Transportation Brock Adams. But my best working relationship was with a gentleman by the name of Yerger Johnstone, a Vietnam era colonel and managing director of Venture Capital for Morgan Stanley. (He married a woman of more left leaning persuasions, assumably for love.)

The below letter is from another Board Member, the respected NY Nuclear Activist Cora Weiss, concerning a forward of that proposal from Yerger.


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Unfortunately this is an idea I didn't follow up on - lost over the summer, and the following year. Ms. Weiss's points are accurate - including competition from the Yale School of Management not too far South. Her points about individuals managing their own work do highlite an important distinction about just what actually constitutes 'business'.

Her definition of business as exploitation is unfortunately too close to the truth. My belief though is that business in a democracy is not based on corporate units but rather individuals making decisions on how to best apply their time to their own 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness'.

October 22, 1987

Portrait of the Blogger as a Young Blowhard

I moved to Seattle in January 1986. My first civic involvement was volunteering to help start the Broadway (Seattle) BIA, second was a group called KC 2000. (The end result of this would be the Metro/King County Merger per the Judge Zilly decision.) These KC2000 folks would be perceived as the typical regional heavy hitter crowd. FWIW the earlier, more modest endeavor, matured more sweetly in my memory.

This was the end of the Reagan era, the Fall of 1987 when George I was making his run. At that time the economy was tanking, and I used that as a theme for a promotional editorial I wrote in the UW Student Newspaper - The Daily.

Best thing about this event was the UW Students and Faculty I met - faculty included the Geographer/Demographer Richard Morrill and Transportation Engineer Scott Rutherford.

Two student footnotes: The Op-Ed was published by Sally Clark, currently a Seattle Councilmember, and perhaps the best home grown public career resume of my generation, locally.

Asterisk
Second was Tom Nolan. At the time he was doing his Master's Thesis on a proposed Computerized Mapping system for King County. Tom currently runs the City of Seattle Department, funded by City Light. This is his Master's thesis abstract/outline relevant to the local history of this profession, a topic I should continue to write on.

The handwriting should be his.

January 29, 1989

Innovation and Neighborhoods - Tree Planting

As I recall neighborhood matching funds were started in Seattle. I believe they were either Ford Foundation supported or the Foundation noted their success in the first year.

This was just as I was finishing off my degree (at 24) and I got involved. As a side project I did a proposal for a tree planting in Squire Park, between Seattle University and 23rd. I believe this was the first of its sort. I was not involved in the implementation - as I recall the project was completed by the YMCA led by Richard Conlin, now a Seattle City Councilmember.

One of the things this project did was give me my first opportunity at trying out Geographic Information Services. The graphics here are rough, but they are functional.

March 6, 1994

Access to Public GIS Records

In 1994, under City Attorney Mark Sidran, the issue of public access to GIS records was, surprisingly, actively being debated. That's hard to believe in this day and age - thank current State Attorney General Rob McKenna and the newspapers of this State led by Michael Fancher of the Seattle Times and their 'open government' initiatives.

At the date of this writing I was employed full time with King County and was attending graduate school in geography, as well as serving on the board of Vision Seattle. I interviewed Tom Nolan(Asterisk), head of Seattle's GIS unit for this piece, but I didn't include any quotes in this article. I don't remember the reasons why.

Besides a question of public record access I'm also 'envisioning' a future for the profession here, to some extent that does seem to be finally happening on a broad scale.

July 6, 1994

Vision Seattle Newsletter

In the summer of 1994 I was given the honor of editing the Vision Seattle Newsletter, City Watch. Here I talk a little about communications as they apply to civic and neighborhood decision making, as I take up those reins.

District Elections

This isn't so much a biographical item as an interesting story which I was a somewhat close spectator of.

The district election reform effort would play out as a major scandal. Though not conceived as an attack on the Seattle establishment, it was certainly an effort to make electability more accessible to the average citizen. Kerman Kermoade, the author of the following clipping was a friend on the Vision board, doing this as a project for his later life Poly Sci degree. I was at the initial organizing meetings for their effort in support and followed the issue loosely.

As you may recall this became a scandal when it was revealed that food executive (and active Republican) Tom Stewart was making illegal contributions as a way to seek revenge for previous battles with the City bureaucracy. I wasn't active in the campaign nor know anything about the details of Stewart's other city battles. Stewart, with his company, has since left the State, one of several biggies in the last decade or so.

Tacoma, as you may know, has a mixed system of at-large and district seats - the particular mix I came to favor out of observing these debates. Seattle still talks about it, but does nothing.

September 6, 1994

Sound Transit Civic

Here's a pretty good looking example of my civic involvement in Sound Transit. This particular example wasn't implemented, but others were. I still think the idea was a good one- reducing tunneling costs by exiting Capitol Hill at Lakeview.

Vision Seattle Finance Survey

This is the write up of a survey I did for Vision Seattle on public finance issues. Though not a huge response the folks were quite varied and vocal - and a great way of going viral on a framework - not an agenda. Note especially the results on the Seattle Commons.

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June 5, 1995

520 Tolls

This isn't a letter I'd write today, however I do support congestion pricing with some sort of expenditure control. In my opinion the revenue need not be limited, controlled, to just autos or the specific segment of road where it is generated, but it definitely should be spent in the same corridor and general area.

How one legally defines that is tougher, especially when you've got a whole lot of people making a living off of loopholes.

At the time this was writ I was still a Sound Transit Supporter - a big booster immediately after the 1995 ballot failure. However the seeds of my conversion were well in place by this point.

February 12, 1997

Leveraging the Law through the UW Law School

Before Bill Gates became a big donor at the UW he, through his Father Bill Senior, was involved in an effort to, IMO, bully the campus in order to build a new law school building. This was at the same time they were being actively investigated for anti-trust violations by the US DOJ.

I was the first to write on the subject, below. Rick Anderson of the Seattle Weekly also wrote on the subject and did a better job than I.

Do make note of the advice of Architecture Professor Folke Nyberg, at the end of the article. The Gates would later step up to the plate and make a fair contribution, though not without a fair amount of bad blood with those departments who had been pushed to the back of the line.

(Asterisk)This **may** well also mark the start of their entire philanthropic effort, through the Gates Foundation.

For another perspective worthy of consideration look at this 'priority' as an expression of the authority of Land Use law and it's Institutional Planning regulations to hold itself above its own regulations....

March 14, 1998

Affirmative Action

I've commented on the affirmative action debate pretty consistently with one single point - it is more important to be able to get rid of mistakes in hires (and create new openings) than it is to assign fewer openings to minorites - affirmative action may well actually increase the number of 'mistake' hires. At this point we need to get rid of those affirmative action mistakes, old school discriminators, and perhaps the worst, those that have abused these rules whose spirit is the reduction of hate, not the inflaming and manipulation of it.

This letter is from the Seattle Times.

(I'm not totally sure on the year for this piece - last digit of the year is torn)

May 15, 2002

Renton Reporter Letter on Transportation

As a resident of Tacoma I'd make a similar argument for Pierce County. Perhaps the most important thing to think about is how Pierce and S. King coordinate their somewhat overlapping interests.

October 17, 2007

Everybody's a Transit Expert

I've always liked Danny Westneat, but his latest has me wondering as he proclaims to be a better financial analyst than Brian Sonntag evaluating Sound Transit.

There are two things we know for sure about Sound Transit - that we haven't seen any of the SeaTac-Dowtown line work, so we have NO BASELINE to realistically compare it to anything - and that Transit finance numbers are always underestimated dramatically. It is quite safe to say that this is not a ten billlion dollar project.

We also know that the last three votes to expand Portland 's Max system have failed.

I know, and you should too, that we can do much better. No doubt 'they' are already making excuses about why this project failed because of the 'public', not because the plan, or 'they', are losers.

I'm not anti-light rail - but we need to insist we do it right - and if 'they' refuse - as is evidenced here - 'they' need to be fired for insubordination- or for soliciting a fraud, to be more specific. The only line that even merits discussion for expansion at this point is the Tacoma line - and that only modestly. Fairly, I guess it would also make sense to seek funds to fulfill the original promise made to voters - the dropped stations and the U-District leg. Along that line a starter system in Everett and Bellevue would also make sense. Bellevue might well choose a bus tunnel though - following the already established investment phasing plan of the Seattle Hybrid Tunnel. That would be a smart continuation of the best of the Status Quo, not the worst - rewarding those project ideas, and people, that have earned it, yes?

BTW - on the subject of global warming - how about spending your own money, wisely, to buy an electric vehicle? Or for that matter, take the money you save from riding the bus and invest it in a green investment fund?

Heyo!

October 29, 2007

The Media is the Message

A thumb's up for a new local online publication, Crosscut.

Publisher David Brewster is certainly already a member of the local establishment elite, but this is a publication that could shake things up - perhaps continuing his contributing record of societal progress through two generations, not just one.

A good case in point has been their excellent coverage of local transportation issues. Currently the most popular article is a piece by former UW Geographer/Demographer Professor Richard Morrill. (Disclosure - I studied under Dr. Morrill at the UW - this reference though is not so nepotistic as it might seem, but that is a longer story.) Besides Dr. Morrill, Emory Bundy, another local civic legend, has also contributed, as has Brewster himself. The topic in its entirety is referenced in a sidebar.

If you wish to educate yourself on these subjects there is probably no better an investment of time than that spent here. Perhaps most significant is the quality of the comments. Actual debate occurs - going into subjects honestly that are perhaps to sensitive for a prudent professional. An occassional raver will show up, but it is the exception, not the rule.

Among those contributors is David Sucher. Mr. Sucher is a published author himself, as well as a bit of a role model, por moi. I'd highly recommend his accessible and useful book 'City Comforts', now in its second printing. Urban Planning is a somewhat mysterious subject, but Sucher gets his hands on it - not to mention living his life, and business, by some of its principles.

October 31, 2007

Following the Money, Energetically

The recently announced sale of Puget Energy struck me as curious - this is a major business event. The brevity, finality, and timing of this action all have drawn my attention.

There isn't much published detail out there - the proclaimed motivations about the need for capital may well be a factor, but these aren't folks with bad credit and they certainly aren't anywhere near bankruptcy. Their five and ten year stock performance is solid, slightly above the benchmark performance of the S&P 500, but significantly below that of other utility stocks.

PSE is highly regulated by the State Utilities and Transportation Commission - and their return is subject to law - their financials, to me, indicate a fair and effective regulatory environment - beating the S&P by 1% is certainly a good return and one not usurious, as other private utilities, in this era of Enron, may have been able to obtain. The sale will not effect this at all - it will however remove the SEC from the regulatory loop - which presumably has some relationships with local regulatory agencies.

The current chairmanship of the UTC by former Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran is perhaps the most factually based red flag of this deal. Mark Sidran has been involved in other highly controversial public/private deals with Puget Energy legal representatives(Preston, Gates, and Ellis) - most notably the HUD distressed area financing for a downtown parking garage in an upscale shopping district.

As a blogger I am hopefully allowed a bit more room to speculate - using the motley tools of Occam's Razor (aka Keep It Simple Stupid) and my personal favorite, 'Follow the Money'.

My original thought was that this was some sort of global energy deal taking Enron's practices worldwide - perhaps with Chinese Money. Perhaps also part of the 'hedging' going on with Halliburton style engineering contracts now being considered as a part of a current proposal by another Preston, Gates, Ellis client - a potentially 157 billion 50 year deal to build light rail, and some roads based on local taxing/bonding authority.

Like me, the Wall Street Journal has published some investigative speculations into this matter. This got me to thinking about motivations of intra-family politics as opposed to global - and these factors may well be in the mix. The iconic former Puget Energy President, John Ellis, has a brother, Jim. Jim was, at the height of his game, legal counsel for Puget Energy, and perhaps the single most powerful attorney in private practice - he is the Ellis in Preston, Gates, and Ellis.

That position of status is now held by the firm's prior family law specialist, Bill Gates Sr. Microsoft is also within the firm's stable, and one has to wonder if there is perhaps some aspect of global dealings in order to build relationships that will help them stand up against the heavy oversight they are now getting in Europe. There may well also be some standing anonomosity whereas Gates was once subordinate to Ellis. Now, I'm not one to say that nepotistic legal representation should be outlawed by the SEC, but it is certainly an area worthy of investigation and a heuristic red flag for any regulator. I'd suggest looking into the relationship between Microsoft and another globally merged PGE Client, Airborne Express. Airborne (now owned by the state Monopoly, Deutsche Post and operating as DHL) held the MS air courier contract - a contract that may not have been in the best interests of MS shareholders (and certainly quite lucrative to Airborne).

I did some digging into this subject in order to quench my curiousity. Puget Energy's own statement reveals little, save perhaps the shallowness of press coverage. State Attorney General Rob McKenna's Public Counsel (a pfellow with a pfunny name, Simon ffitch) has released a statement which outlines future steps as I've done above.

Conclusion - it is not a done deal, it is still subject to regulatory and shareholder approval. Absent a more informed shareholder making claims to the contrary I will accept the assertions of Puget Energy Corporate that both steps are likely to be accomplished.

Continuing my research I looked into the lead partner, Macquarie Infrastructure. Macquarie is one of the few Investment Banks in Australia and are traded on the NYSE - stock symbol MIC. There holdings include a recently completed deal to aquire Pittsburg based Duquesne Light and a company called Atlantic Aviation Services who provide fueling services at 70 US Airports - curious of course due this being the home to Boeing Commercial. They do have some history of green power work - but nothing particulary innovative, nor for that matter is there anything particularly negative that showed up in my quick search.

Okay, so here is my conclusion as to what is going on. It is purely speculative, call it, if you will, a journalistic hypothesis, sent into the ether like a radar ping sent into the atmosphere:

There are certainly conversations among global energy providers - quite private as such are closely watched by, among others, the SEC. These business relationships probably reach into the engineering and construction firms building another Preston, Gates, and Ellis project, Sound Transit 2, and the timing may well be a power signal to those who watch, including the lower ranks in middle management (and Christine Gregoire and Patty Murray?). The removal of the SEC from regulatory link will allow a brief opportunity for PGE friend UTC Chair Mark Sidran to advance a profitable agenda in this post Enron era. The desirability of this outcome is still to be determined and close oversight will help to insure that it is positive. The UTC and the SEC, for different reasons, cannot be relied upon to provide that oversight. (The SEC loses jurisdiction when the company goes private.)

Based on my quick review I'd give Macquarie a preliminary 6 or 7 on a 1-10 scale of global corporate responsibility - maybe a shred better than the oil industry, and probably much better than companies like Haliburton and/or Blackwater. There doesn't appear to be Chinese money behind the deal, but the declining status of the US on world financial markets is noteworthy - as is the greater advantage of Chinese success accruing to Australia and British Columbia. Best case is that we will join in that advantage, but the better bet are the raising of prices to raise profitability of the utility to at least Industry standards. (Eastside Investors currently holding Puget Energy stocks or bonds may wish to investigate Macquarie as an investment.)

BTW - today(10/31) is the last day to get your free water conserving showerhead, sponsored by local utilities, including Puget Energy.

November 3, 2007

Thank You Conventioneers

Heaven forbid anyone would ever mistake my business focus for being a typical Chamber of Commerce type, much less that rather peculiar organization, the Greater Seattle Chamber.

That's not to say these folks aren't very, very good at what they do. Witness this week's Conference of Mayors event, hosted by Greg Nickels of Seattle. Now perhaps this is coincidence, but did anyone notice how they were able to time the predictable journalistic series of events in the 'outing' of conservative gay State Representative Richard Curtis?

Not only were they able to publicize the availability of escort services they were also able to get the local media to publish the price as well as a variety of warnings and safeguards, should a conventioneer wish to safely engage this local industry. One that is certainly larger than most good citizens would care to admit - take for example the practice of advertising for same in local 'alternative' papers. Again, note the timing of this series of events - on the very eve of perhaps the highest profile conference hosted by that City this year.

Obligatory, pointed, wisecrack aside, I would like to offer a bit of shameless boosterism for the Mayors. Climate change is a challenge we must address. The risk is not certain, even more certainly the form it will take. But the potential cost most certainly is known. Relying on the Federal government to solve this problem is just not something that is within their capability - and part of that is that very uncertainty.

The Mayor's - each addressing this real problem in their own fashion - will not all be able to rise to the highest levels of performance. But a few of them, as yet unknown, will figure out how to do it - to the benefit of their economy, and citizens. Others will follow their success, if they are able.

Some, like New Orleans (the City of NO) Mayor Ray Nagin have a tough hand dealt them. Some will rise to that challenge, some will not. It isn't about god, about good, and evil, it is just the way it is, and always has been. Faith though will carry us through.

Call it a glass half full, a glass half empty, as you wish. As long as the accountants concur, 'we' will prevail....

Thank you conventioneers, and god speed.

November 4, 2007

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

Sometimes the best way to approach your goals is to move away from them. An unseemingly large number of election items at issue Tuesday have brought this simple life rule to the forefront of my thoughts.

Moving backwards to go forwards is a life lesson taught to me through sport - and though built a bit like Seahawker Mack Strong - it's a lesson I learned through navigating the wilds of the Western U.S., not as a High School Offensive Lineman.

Proceeding blindly towards an obsessive goal can be dangerous. Even more dangerous is taking an easy road that has been put before you fraudlently.

Before my comments, a brief outdoor story, illustrating the point:

I once took a friend on one of my favorite hikes in Washington State - the Soleduck River/High Divide/Ridge Loop, just north of Mount Olympus. The day was perfect, late August with the Huckelberries at their ripest - as also was the weather.

The hike is long, about 20 miles, but it is also a loop, returning to the same spot you started. These 20 miles can be covered more easily in a day, lightly burdened, than could be covered in a weekend with full camping gear.

The pace to begin is mellow, slowly climbing through the rain forest of the Soleduck River valley, past Soleduck Falls. Only near the end of the basin do you enter the open Alpine Country - a modest cirque of heather, huckelberries, and small granite peaks. Climbing out of this basin you reach the pass, High Divide, to the Hoh river basin.

Though the climb to the pass is moderate the other side is quite dramatic, dropping thousands of feet below to the Hoh river then climbing several thousand above to the glacier covered peaks of Mount Olympus.

But this is not our route, our route is down the ridgeline - wending among rock pinnacles and cliffs as we slowly descend to our starting point - all in the glorious view of mountainous glory and riverine sublimity.

Though Huckelberries and views can do much to sustain this is a long hike, and by now all but the most enduranced of travelers will be feeling the burn. Perhaps distracted by a herd of grazing elk we chose any path that we thought was heading back down to the Soleduck Hot Springs.

But it was not descending into this watershed, it was in fact descending into the Hoh - a decision that could've proved quite problematic. Luckily, upon a bit of reflection, we discovered our error, corrected our path with only a slight detour - a worthwhile one actually - save for the legs. It was not long before we began to climb down from the ridge, steeply now, and returned to the trailhead, conveniently located next to the Soleduck Hot Springs.

For those of you so inclined, they do serve. I'd highly recommend spending the night here before driving back to home and work. My trip was the last time I smoked marijuana, an experience I'd like to do again some time. Proper time to recover, like that of an airplane pilot and alcohol, is important - something I think I learned, though not always through the easy path...

That said - observations on a few of the initiativi that are now before us.

Proposition 1, Sound Transit Two, et al:

This has been covered at length by myself and others, perhaps best on Crosscut. (The pieces by Bundy and Morrill are best - quality commenters include Piper Scott and David Sucher, and, hopefully, moi.) I won't burden my site anymore with the deserved negativity of the so-called 'business' practices of this funding proposal. (BTW, nothing wrong with the engineering, at least so far - save for poor route choice on I-90 - one of at least two very poor financial choices, the other being the Sea-Tac to Tacoma segment.)

A second vote will improve the package, just like with Sound Transit One.

R-67 - Insurance Reform:

Though the letter of this law make sense the implementation of it by the legal profession will not. Witness the heart tugging ads regarding a Puyallup Fireman, covered by the State's Workemen's Comprehensive and City of Puyallup policies, neither of which are subject to this initiatives regulations.

As for me, I trust my insurance company (and their lawyers) than I trust the trial attornies. A good place to start here would be the effective implementation of triple damages for legal practice malfeasance.

4204 - Levy vote margins for Schools

The proponents of this proposal are right. It is not fair that schools need to pass a higher threshold for passage than other financial measures. However we need to get State spending practices back in touch with reality, and a better move would be to raise the standards for all proposals to the level currently held to our schools.

I am, unfortunately, reminded of the not unrelated recent watering down of mathematics requirements in our standardized school testing program.

Lowering standards is not the way to improve our schools. Threats about the future economic success of our children, should this fail, should be legally pursued.

I-960 - Legislative Financial Accountability, by Initiative

My socially liberal politics are probably completely opposite the drafter of this proposal, Tim Eyman. However the continued lack of financial responsibility to even the most simple of legal standards is shameful.

I can't say this is the best way to do it. Like with global climate change though it is damn well time to start trying to do something. Claims of red tape are, like State Treasurer Mike Murphy, are bogus.

November 13, 2007

Not Everybody's a Transit Expert

Just about everyone thinks they know the secret to solving our transportation future - all, no doubt, have some basis in reality.

However some pass the wheat test, other's chaff.

Governor Gregoire's gambit on 520 might strike one as a good example of leadership. I may be wrong, but I think not. If she can get a plan onto the ballot by next November, and passed, I'll be eating a lot of crow. If she also wins re-election I may be eating crow for life.

Our best bet is going to be Rossi - negotiating with Sims and Chopp, as well as others, say the long time economist legislator, Helen Somers. 520 is not simply a matter of finding money - it is as complicated and controversial as the Viaduct.

Besides coming up with a specific plan for 520 there are also issues of integrating any upgrades - increasing capacity means nothing if bottlenecks still exist. Most notable of these bottlenecks is the one both the Viaduct and 520 feed - the Mercer Mess and it's accompanying 520 Weave. These problems need to be solved together with a multi-phased plan that WORKS.

Sound Transit is also an element of that enigma - the intersection of Sound Transit and 520, in the Montlake neighborhood is important - especially if I-90 becomes a busway in the interim. Sound Transit needs to get started by fulfilling their original committment to everyone in the ST district - including service to the UW AND Seattle University.

Some thumbs up on folks commenting on Prop. 1: Knute Berger on Crosscut, Bill Virgin in the P-I, and Doug McDonald, formerly of WashDOT. Gregoire might get one from me with much reluctance, but that's strictly going to be in hindsight, after she has proved me wrong.

A big thumbs down for the absolute stupidity of the Seattle Times in their Sunday Editorial. Perhaps this is as much about my personal journey as it is about regionalism, but Sirs and Madams, please cancel my subscription, effective the currently paid period.

November 16, 2007

More Transportation Wheat from the Chaff

Steve Marshall and Bruce Agnew of the conservative Discovery Institute have penned a great pro bus op-ed in the Seattle Times.

Though not the last word on the subject they have articulated a vision for the future that is well grounded on what has already proven itself to work. Specifically they propose enhancing our Park and Ride lots - a bit of high tech, a bit of espresso, as well as a few other ideas.

I've personally been arguing for the placement of park and ride lots next to existing small business districts for quite some time. I was proud when a developer actually came forward to the City of Seattle with a proposal to include same in a project which included Senior housing, in the Admiral District. I never met the developer, though a neighborhood friend I trust did work closely with them.

Unfortunately the environmentalists, most notably Aaron Ostrom, opposed, and defeated, the project.

This is, unfortunately, the sort of regional 'leadership' that is only taking us backwards, including in the recent defeat of the regional transportation package, Proposition 1. Our transportation expenditures need to benefit everyone in the entire metropolitan puget sound, not just those 'merchants' within 10 blocks of Fourth and Pine.

One more idea for Park and Rides - how about day care? In this way a young family could limit their car ownership to only one vehicle and store it near childcare. The funding model for daycare is tough, but with more and more working moms a new solution seems doable - especially if employers were to kick in to support, in a fair manner, for private daycare providers at locations such as Park and Ride lots.

A minor aside - I attended two meetings in Tacoma last night - a Sound Transit open house on the Sounder expansion to Lakewood and a Pierce County Council sponsored meeting on open space. I enjoyed the Pierce County meeting much more - two electeds coming out and actually talking with their constituents, as opposed to Sound Transit with a room full of so-called 'professional' 'planners'. I did run into early Sound Transit Board Member Paul Miller at the ST function - it is good to see some of the early electeds watching the 'baby' they helped conceive. Those folks, as a group, are perhaps one of the most likely to put that agency back on course. If it is possible.

November 26, 2007

No Thanks, Bill

The subject of technically qualified labor is one I researched in depth a number of years ago. As such I read, and observe, closely the words and actions of those associated with the Microsoft Corporation.

Papa Bill has perhaps been most vocal on the subject of technical training - a regent at the University of Washington he also associates with economic geographer Bill Beyers. Beyers is best known for his work on the economic development studies regarding the King Dome and the Mariners. His career though is more focused on what he calls high knowledge 'service industries' - including that question of the link between higher education and economic development.

And there is link, that's all true. But the real question is not academic, but rather what practices has Microsoft actually implemented? Did they build their company with legions of freshly minted UW EE and Computer Science folks - like, for example, Boeing did with their engineering workforce (and leadership)?

The answer to that is no.

The core element of whomever runs Microsoft's strategy was the aquisition of intellectual property rights to software via the hiring away of talent that had already proved itself in the real world elsewhere. Nothing wrong with that - they made a smart business and legal decision and ponied up for the technical talent.

The problem though is not with technical talent, locally grown or not, but rather with the other administrative staff they did hire locally. There is a relationship to higher education in that as well. It's called the administrative technique of corporatizing the values of political correctness to manipulate your workforce. And perhaps no one is more vunerable to those techniques than the stereotypical nerdy engineer.

This is perhaps most evident in the hiring of Tina Podlodowski to run the early division, Microsoft University. I'm not enough of an expert on Microsoft to expound further, but I do hope I've at least gotten you to consider the idea further in your own musings.

This is timely now because of a recent address to a conference of the National Society of Black Engineers.

His points in this address are also true. But once again they do not match the actions of his company. Bill, integrity is not just hiring an expensive PR firm to craft you an image it is walking the talk. You have been given a lot of success and you need to follow through on your promises - not just hold a meaningless moral high ground.

You have not earned that. And some would make the case you've earned nothing.

Thanks, Brian

One of the sage conclusions of those who study warfare is that of the distancing of the airplane pilot from the battlefield. The reality of destruction on the ground is never experienced - though of course John McCain might differ with that.

A similar conclusion can be said about those who crunch numbers for a living - there can be a distancing from the reality of peoples lives. Demographers are, as a group, I think best at avoiding this. Economists deal with the reality of it all, but it is the 'dismal' science. Sociologists get caught up in the whole welfare mind set. Transportation engineers can be old boys, but I do think that is changing rapidly.

Accountants, well, accountants can be among the worst. They sit in their ivory corporate towers crafting up finance schemes that make no sense save to the bankers and those titans of the modern global world, the successful corporate bureaucrat.

As such the continued leadership of long time State Auditor Brian Sonntag about the performance of our local transportation planning efforts stands as a shining example of responsible leadership. Traffic congestion is a real impact upon people's lives - it steals time from their families and adds to environmental pollution - whatever the actual impact of that is. Traffic is also a question of public safety, and there is much we can do with newer technology to reduce all these impacts through congestion management.

In his accounting audit on the subject Sonntag captures this reality and advances himself as the single best leader on the subject in the entire State. I think it might have something to do with being a numerically literate Democrat - something some Republicans hate - not to mention quite a number of the 'politically correct' left.

I don't know if the rest of the State can follow his well positioned and focused leadership, but I sure hope we do in Pierce County, where he got his start as the Pierce County Auditor (also responsible for elections).

Sonntag's op-ed on the subject, published in the TNT, is here. (Current policy of the Tribune is to charge for archives after a few weeks) The actual audit report is here.

December 22, 2007

A Washington Citizen's Warning to the Other 49 Governors

Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire recently made local headlines and national quotes with her action joining in support of California in opposition to Bush's EPA practices.

Gregoire is very good at this sort of thing, both locally and nationally - it is perhaps her strongest point. However, as religous wisdom tells us "even the devil can quote scripture for his (or her?) own purpose".

Ms. Gregoire's background is in the legal profession and she has a long track record of supporting a political 'environment' which cites very valid causes as justification for financial frauds. The typical dynamic is a male individual will object to an item of financial malfeasance only to be accused of being 'sexist' (or racist) as well as being an obvious 'bad person' with a secret agenda against the specific matter. That person will either then be silenced or fired, with a lifelong stigma attached to his name in either case.

These practices are many, the most recent of which will probably prove to be State Auditor Brian Sonntag's audit (including initiative granted performance powers) of the public Port of Seattle. The strategy can also be seen in the professionally closely related Sound Transit agency (whose CEO was a former Port CFO). Ms. Gregoire's latest on this front is to call for an 'emphatic' end to a provision called 'sub-area equity' which insures funds from one County or area are not sucked into whichever one happens to be most powerful (historically downtown Seattle).

It is in this aspect where you should be most concerned. It is assumed that the current 17 State lawsuit does, appropriately, have its eye on the emerging market for green business services. The 'business' associates of Gregoire include a firm called Preston Gates and Ellis, representing Sound Transit and a little company called Microsoft. I believe if you ask Sen. Orrin Hatch, UT, privately, about Microsoft and a former company called Novell you might well get an interesting opinion.

Although the benefits of the 17 State Coalition may well appear to be desirable the actual facts may well prove to be counter-productive. Instead of assembling political coalitions for the control of the environmental market I would urge you to instead rely on less 'powerful' influences on the private sector.

I believe Al Gore and others are calling for a 'Green' Manhattan project. I personally support this, but not for Washington State. If such an public expenditure is made, make it outside of New Orleans in a hurricane safe area. In that way the citizens of America get more bang for their buck - New Orleans is rescued - and, perhaps, are we all.

FWIW, if you wish more detail on this see the background on Gregoire's two most powerful attorney hires- Mark Sidran and Jenny Durkan. Sidran handles the financial side of the malfeasance (see the writings of Michelle Malkin and Barbara Serano in the Seattle Times regarding the Sidran, Preston Gates Ellis HUD blight parking garage for Nordstrom). Durkan, the Mary Cheneyesque lesbian daughter of the State's most powerful Lobbyist, Martin, handles the sexual side - see her 'representation' of the the too liberal, but very honest Governor Mike Lowry.

December 29, 2007

Through Rose Colored Glasses - Looking at Puget Sound Streetcars from Portland

Kimberley Marlowe Hartnett is David Brewster's and Crosscut's best hope at avoiding the stereotypical Seattle limousine liberal mindset (including symptoms of xenophobia?) in his current effort to expand his voice beyond the bounds of the 36, 37, and 43rd State Legislative Districts (okay, maybe the 48th as well).

Marlowe Hartnett is a Portland resident, a city, like Seattle, that has not seen a real estate slump (of 3 total nationally) - and perhaps for better reason.

She writes whimsically about Portland's coming year - in a style that owes a bit to Crosscut Editor Knute Berger.

I was in that City over Christmas and commented on her piece at some length - albeit wandering off topic, onto the above subject.

Viewing your city through the perspective of another is important, especially those in your region. This particular 'rambling' of mine looks at the issue of planning light rail - whether it be streetcar oriented like Tacoma's LINK or a regional system like the light rail system with a 'track record' - Portland's MAX.

Having had a favorable experience riding the Sounder this year I decided to try Amtrak - at $25 one way, cheaper than my gas driving alone. All in all it was a very enjoyable, and hopefully also, productive, 'multi-modal' trip. I urge you to become familiar with Marlowe Hartnett (linked above) as well as the details of my comments - though for different reasons.

January 14, 2008

We're Watchin' YOU, Big Brother

Anbody know if Bill Gates has any siblings? I've never heard him spoke of as an only child, so couldn't say. I can just imagine though a 'Bellinda' running around somewhere.

Anyway.... a good article on email in government, including several cites from Washington State:

Delete at Your Own Risk

From 'Governing' magazine.

Advice to Independents from Barack and Hilary

The recent racial/gender spat between Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton may well determine who wins the nomination.

However, when it comes to independents - I bet they just lost the general to McCain, should the Republican's be wise enough to nominate him.

Time will tell of course, and there is still a long ways to go till the election. Barack and Hillary are certainly not above 'Atonement', but it's gonna take more than just words.

The Environmental Customer is Always Right?

I've just finished my most recent vehicle emissions test - an evolving process, but one that is still missing some key elements.

I failed my last test, two years ago, so took action to avoid the hassle this time around, based on my lessons the last time - it turned out that procedures have rightly gotten stricter, however bureaucratic obstacles also merit comment.

Current emmissions testing uses the 'On Board Diagnostics' computer on the vehicle to quickly and accurately diagnose engine. That is unless it is the computer which is broken - a not uncommon occurence on a Ford (my brand), and perhaps other brands as well. My OBD has now been fixed, but not without a whole bunch of bullshit in the meantime.

Two years ago Precision Tune in Renton gave me a diagnosis of a bad sensor in my catalytic convertor and wanted to charge me $600 or so to replace it. It turns out that was a false diagnosis, intentional or not they get a thumbs down. They did reset the computer, so at the time I was a happy customer, with a passed (but unfixed) vehicle.

This time around I had the computer reset prior to getting tested - however procedures have no rightly advanced to screen for this - so not only did I not get a pass on my first visit I had to burn another couple of gallons of gas to reset the COMPUTER before I could even get a fail.

After that I took the vehicle to Eagle Tire (a business scheduled for a Sound Transit relocation), within walking distance of my house. I've been to them a few times before and always a happy customer. They correctly diagnosed the problem, and fixed it at a cost not that much higher than the $150 requirement of Gregoire's old department, the Department of Ecology. That was all good - definitely a thumbs up for Eagle Tire.

I've since researched the OBD subject a bit further. Rationale is that the OBD testing protocol is supposed to make things easier. My experience has been quite the opposite, perhaps by an order of magnitude. One big thing I've learned is that emissions warranties are regulated by the EPA and California. EPA information is here.

Confirmed also is my large doubt about Ford's current marketing partnership with Microsoft.

Storm - blowing hot air?

On January 8 Norm Rice's former Deputy Mayor (and Counsel?) Anne Levinson announced the purchase of the Seattle Storm from Clay Bennett. I've suggested such a split as a negotiating position for the region - even if we lose the Sonics we'll have the seed of a new NBA franchise.

I'm not though a 'fan' of Levinson. She's pretty much the only person left standing from the Monorail debacle - and as a lawyer she should have been one of the first to go. There's an attitude within the profession of holding ones' self above the law and Levinson embodies that, as do many, many others. In the interview, available at King 5, Levinson talks about giving back to the community. I think all that we can expect from the new Storm is the reinvention of pro-sports corporate welfare - now with a more female friendly face.

One interesting fact is that all the owners, within a year of 49, came of age during the early years of Title 9. As I recall Levinson is openly gay, no idea about the other members. Another gay Microsoft executive, Tina Podlodowski talks about her blossoming sexuality during high school sports years.

With a person of the character of Levinson one has to wonder if the Storm will become an institutionalized grooming ground for young lesbians. Not that the hate mongering of the law towards men isn't already that.

Don't get me wrong, I've no problem with lesbianism, but when your sexual preference includes hate towards men you start to become something very sick. Sure, it's not the same thing as a male pedophile or predator. But it's not any better, in fact the 'corruption' of a degraded female - such as a Bundy type like Levinson, may well be more harmful than the mentally ill rogue individual male.

Sexuality is a flexible thing - much of adult human psychology is formed on the basis of what gets them laid, male or female. Religion is one way of making sure such energies are focused positively. Actual, sincere, mutually felt love, regardless of genders is probably best. Hate, whether it be violent or dominating porn or man hating is the worst. Turning a prudent attitude towards males into a paranoid loathing should be as criminal as male forms of the disease.

Some will tell you that sexuality is a choice. It may be, but once the choice is made it is one that can never be completely undone. Institutionalizing man hating in pro female sports would be a very bad thing and we should proceed with the utmost of caution.

As too, should we be about attitudes toward women in male sports.

January 19, 2008

Western Washington's Second City gets to Work on it's South End

The below piece was originally submitted for publication outside of Tacoma, but not accepted. As of today, January 19 it is slightly dated - for instance the refered alcohol impact area has unanimously passed the Tacoma City Council and has been sent to the State for action. This effort is profiled in a lead story in the TNT, January 18th.

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Tacoma, in recent history, has had the reputation of being a second class City – growing slowly in the dark shadow of its more prosperous, and influential, neighbor to the North, Seattle. And this was not totally without justification. Tacoma’s Ruston Smelter spewed a plume of arsenic for decades creating a superfund site where the cleanup is just now finishing. The old joke about Tacoma was ‘Kiss me where it smells, take me to Tacoma” – due the once common NW odor of a pulp mill, the source being the Simpson Mill located on the now revitalizing historic Foss Waterway.

Part of that bad ‘reputation’ was in part through negative attitudes towards servicemen in the Vietnam era, locally articulated against members of the nearby Fort Lewis ‘community’. Those attitudes, and the resulting standards and procedures, are changing. Hopefully as Iraq combatants return they will find a City that welcomes their energy and drive. Tacoma will still have a large ‘transient’ military population, but that is not so bad as it might appear in High School statistics and the like. Having an Iraqi veteran as your next door neighbor could be a very good thing.

The revitalization of Downtown Tacoma has been incredible, and if you have not visited in the last few years you are truly missing one of the cultural hot spots of the State. Tacoma native Dale Chihuly gave a major gift to his hometown in building his Glass Museum, also overlooking the Foss. This same area is host to a more general arts museum, the State History Museum, and the University of Washington Branch campus, as well as a new convention center and a not bad Chihuly display in the renovated Union Station, now serving duty as our Federal Courthouse.

Downtown developers have been focusing on creating an urban alternative to Downtown Seattle – most of the Condos in downtown are not for the first time buyer – but just about every second home purchaser could afford them. The stock of historic buildings in Tacoma may well be greater than in Seattle proper – and the new projects being built are well designed to fit the history.

This revitalization has had considerable State and Federal money, no doubt in part due the seniority and moderate politics of Norm Dicks. The important fact about this public money is it appears to be working – unlike the failed urban revitalization programs of the 1970s money here has been spent smartly – first on the list being the UW Tacoma Branch, but also on the Tacoma Narrows Bridge and a major rebuild of I-5 through downtown, now about 50% complete.
With some controversy money has also been ‘given’ to the private sector in the form of tax breaks for development in strategic areas. Some might attribute this as ‘corporate welfare’ when they benefit the already well off. Time will tell if Tacoma’s efforts were a wise investment, or not. But so far, so good.

The Hilltop neighborhood once ruled by gangs has been the beneficiary of much of the public money. This area is still at risk, but it has changed considerably and living on its fringes is a very good bet. Most significantly the Sixth Avenue Corridor – stretching from Wright Park at the North end of Hilltop west towards the Narrows Bridge has revitalized itself incredibly in just the last year, and mostly with private money. It’s geographical position just to the south of the Proctor District and other historically affluent North End neighborhoods has perhaps made it the neighborhood of choice.

There are a lot of bars on Sixth – giving it a bit of a Ballard feel from the 1980s, but as a district located near the Tacoma Community College and University of Puget Sound, as well as being within easy Commuting distance of UW-T it works well as what it is.

At the other end of Downtown, towards the historically poor and transient military neighborhoods of South and East Tacoma the first rumblings of this economic momentum are being felt. This is my neighborhood, of the last four years. This article is my attempt to convey what I see is happening, as well as to assist in the area realizing its potential.

South Tacoma is perhaps the best deal in housing in Western Washington right now. For 200k you can buy a house comparable to a Wallingford bungalow. This is a price point that entry level home buyers can afford, even in today’s market. Sure, the plumbing or the electrical might need some work and the finish carpentry could stand some paint – but that’s part of being a first time homeowner – part of life.

The commute back north is doable, but rush hour starts early and ends late on all northbound commutes in Pierce County, as well as South King. The Sounder train though has made that commute enjoyable, if you are so lucky to work in an area it accesses.

The current southern terminus for the Sounder is at a funky little development called Freighthouse Square – comparable to Crossroads in Bellevue, or perhaps the old Fifth Street Public Market in Eugene. It is a ‘3rd place’ not a mall, built in the old rail freight depot for Tacoma. It’s in the Dome District, (we didn’t tear ours down), just at the Southern end of the Foss Waterway. It’s a funky mixture of old industrial and new retail and commercial now just coming into its own . It’s future seems to be comparable to that of the Pearl District in Portland, much like what has been attempted in the SODO area of Seattle, that somehow has never quite been realized, for some reason.

The Dome District has also seen quite a bit of public money lately, mostly transit related. Freighthouse Square is the Sounder station, and across the street is a (6 story) park and ride serving a local and regional bus hub. The Tacoma Light Rail, currently the only functioning element of Sound Transit’s Link project, starts between these two buildings, running north through Downtown to near 6th Avenue in the Theatre District.

The Sounder is planned to continue south to Lakewood – but the crossing of Pacific Avenue has become a major design issue. The small and medium sized businesses of the Dome District felt overlooked, if not bullied, by Sound Transit in this issue, the first ‘appearance’ of that ‘organization’ since their November Prop. 1 defeat. The question seems to have been resolved with the leadership of the Tacoma City Council. The ‘solution’ though has required the relocation of Tacoma’s oldest business, the Star Ice Company.

The first Tacoma residents I met were actually Sound Transit officials – perhaps most notably former City Councilmember Paul Miller and current State Commissioner of Public Lands Doug Southerland. Pacific Avenue, Highway 7, was however my first exposure to Tacoma. Looking at a map highway 7 looks to be the best way to get to the southern entrance and the Paradise area. One however is quickly disillusioned –seeking the solace of green one only finds hundreds of blocks of stop lights and commercial development of varying levels of upkeep – comparable to Hwy 99 north or south of Seattle.

Pacific Avenue as it leaves Downtown Tacoma is no exception. The road is slow and most of the businesses aren’t driver oriented. Currently the best route from the Dome District, and Downtown, is via McKinley Avenue, an I-5 overpass right next to the Tacoma Dome. McKinley Avenue climbs up McKinley Hill to its small neighborhood business district, itself just starting to revitalize, also home to Tacoma’s only dog park. Two dog park regulars have started that areas first coffeeshop, opening any day now. Although health regulations prohibit a dog friendly coffee hangout, the opening of this neighborhood coffeeshop is anticipated by many.

Just to the West , across Pacific, is my neighborhood, Lincoln, also home to the High School of the same name. The two neighborhoods make up what I’ve been calling ‘Presidents Ridge’ – a great area just above Downtown Tacoma with the potential to be a Ballard with a view, er, Admiral District. 34th Avenue is the small arterial connecting these areas and it makes a great view walk of about a mile or so, one way. There are two historic bridges over beautiful ravines in this area. The head of one of these has just been sold by the City of Tacoma to a Downtown Developer, Prium.

This Pacific Prium project has many in the neighborhoods of the South End concerned. Although District City Councilman Rick Talbert claims the housing to be developed will be for ‘firefighters and teachers’ the enabling council resolution which authorized the sale agreement is written to specifically suggest it is replacement housing for the very low income residents of the downtown’s Winthrop hotel. Somebody is lying to someone here, and I feel a bit guilty hoping that it is the housing activists, and not the neighborhoods.

The impact of 100-200 units of affordable housing raises the spectre of the blighted housing project, whatever the subsidized income level. Our neighborhood fears that this may mean downtown is looking at the South End not for revitalization, but as a ‘redlined’ neighborhood to milk as a low-income cash cow. Lincoln High School currently is gang free and we’d like to keep it that way – understanding that the risks of breeding gangs in newer style housing developments is less, it has also not been completely eliminated. The wisdom of placing younger children across the street from the County drunk tank and the methadone clinic also seems a bit unwise.

Most likely the answer will be determined by market forces – Prium is a local developer of high standing but they are having their own housing related financial problems right now – converting one condo project to rentals after failing to sell a single unit at their targeted price. Market savvy folks are betting that the results will depend on how much of a bailout Prium needs – not a bad financial hedge for a good company, all else being kosher.

Personally, I’m hoping for a mix of private and subsidized housing. Seattle is currently discussing the provision of density subsidies in exchange for the inclusion of affordable units – a good strategy. Central to this debate is the question of just how much of a mix can work. Though not directly applicable the desired mix in a privately funded project should also apply to a publically funded one. The maximum any city is doing in this generation of project is 35% - total, moderate income and for the very low.

Perhaps more potential is brewing in the next ravine to the east in that Dome Greenbelt. This is the route by which Hwy 705 climbs to reach Hwy 7 when you are heading South. It is also the alignment for a rail corridor owned by Tacoma Rail which stretches all the way to Elbe via Eatonville.

Just two weeks ago an Interior Department funded multi-jurisdictional study (Norm Dicks is currently chair of the Interior Committee) was released regarding the use of this corridor for Rail/Trail purposes. Unlike King County’s Eastside rail line this multiple use is being seriously, and professionally, studied – NOT decided by dysfunctional partisan political considerations.

Personally I’ve found that idea to be very timely – as I’ve been talking up the idea of a trail as well – not for the rail corridor, but for the Dome Greenbelt – built just above the I-5 soundwall, like the one on Seattle’s Capitol Hill (the BEST place to watch Fourth of July Fireworks shows). We’ll see if the kismet works, I hope you don’t mind the personal plug.

This trail would stretch all the way from the existing trail in McKinley Park to the pedestrian bridge at 38th, near the Tacoma Mall. That western end is the Whitman neighborhood, named after the Walla Walla poet. The proposal is articulated graphically here.

Pat McGregor is the President of the Whitman neighbors, a teacher at Puyallup’s Leschi school. He is perhaps the South End’s most effective leader – largely responsible for the expansion of Downtown’s ‘Alcohol Impact Area’ , scheduled for January adoption. Removing fortified products from store shelves isn’t the cure for all of alcohol’s ills, but it does seem to have some effect – as in Pioneer Square and elsewhere.

Our area certainly has customers for fortified alcoholic drinks – our freeway greenspaces have become homes for the homeless – in one case a nearby encampment was probably well over 100 individuals. These ‘customers’, along with the stereotypical meth addict scravenger regularly use our alleys as travel routes. Thankfully public safety is one issue that everyone agrees on, and efforts in this regard are just starting to build the foundations of solid neighborhood organizations.

Tacoma is building itself a new reputation these days – lets hope it becomes a City where folks who work hard can get ahead – and where everyone can afford a downtown condo once the kids leave. There are risks that the parasites who feed off the poor will attempt to expand their presence here, but I am optimistic. All life is risk, and preserving the history of a City like Tacoma is, in my opinion, a good bet.

Tacoma was once the business center for the State. The history, as I understand was that Tacoma received the first rail line, Everett the second – they joined up in Seattle, which, perhaps due the benefits of competition, became the number one City.

The current word for Tacoma is ‘gritty’. Like the nation’s second City, Chicago, Tacoma is a city of people who work for a living, who earn it. The ridge of the south end may well become the geographical ‘broad shoulders’ of the City – after all a ‘good’ economy is one that benefits everyone, no?

January 25, 2008

Is it okay to lie to protect the First Ammendment?

I'vr got a pet peeve about current elections regulations in Washington State - I thought I might be the only one, but Dori Monson, a talk show host on the top-rated centrist radio station KIRO 710, covered the subject yesterday, or at least got close to it. (Dori is the centrist station's right winger, though he claims to be more of a Libertarian.)

As you know Washington regulations concerning primaries have been the subject of recent Supreme Court Decisions and Initiatives - currently you are required to be a member of a party to participate in the primary decision. I have no problem with that, but as is usual with bureaucracy the devil is in the details.

The problem is this - County Auditors (except King County, go figure) are required to throw out any vote which is independent - either by a cross-over vote between parties or from one choosing not to identify. It's codified in 29A.52.151.

My initial thought that was this must have been some sort of administrative mis-step - perhaps with some degree of intentionality - I did a public records request to State Secretary Sam Reed's office on the subject. I found out I was wrong - one of the female people I correspondend with was kind of insulting and/or threatening when I made the insinuation that the First Ammendment would require tabulating of my vote - regardless if the parties used it or not.

FWIW, I'm a tad disappointed that Reed hasn't already sought to correct what may have been a constitutional oversight - his failure to act does go to his performance in that office. He does seem otherwise capable in his duties and I did vote for him last time around, even though I lean a shade left. I'm still researching the orignal bill that made these modifications but I do gather that Mary Margaret Haugen, someone I respected previously, but has had some suspect actions this year - including apparently supporting the powers that be around the Port of Seattle.

Go Figure.

The Monson/Reed interview, live, is at the start of this audio. Caller comments follow. The only other published reference on the subject that I'm aware of was cited by Dori on his page, from the Whidbey paper.

If your interest in this is great enough to want to see the emails from my PDC request I'd look forward to meeting you, as well as responding to your request.

Oh yeah, the lie thing - which Monson went into - you have to make an oath of party affiliation to vote in a primary. My point is that you should be able to vote independent or cross over in a single race and have the vote reported, but not applied to the Party decision. As it stands for the Presidential Race I think I'm gonna participate in the Republican Caucus and also vote in the completely non-counting Democratic Primary on the 19th.

This law needs to be repealed - it shouldn't require a court case or a big political battle. It is the constitution, arguably the most important part of it - all it should take is a single person pointing out the problem, nothing more - or less.

While you are at it - a suggestion - how about creating primary rules for independents whereby anyone can vote for them - independent or crossover - and allow them to advance if they receive one of the top two positions?

Heyo!

January 26, 2008

Some Thoughts on Marriage 'Law'

Family law is a subject that makes the press regularly these days - it may be gay marriage, domestic violence, or even tax policy. Here, I will argue that perhaps the 'law' does not belong in family situations at all.

I'll illustrate this position by going a bit to the extreme - the answer, which I don't have - is somewhere in the middle. The only thing I will claim is that the current system is broken and to have a sense of the direction in which we should head. Even that direction is subject to debate - something I would consider a success I was to spark such here.

The law as it applies to families is broken. Law makes more problems than it solves in this arena. One could make the case that this is intentional. I will not do that here, but will note that the same question could also be asked in felony arenas as well. Certainly though there have been cases where misapplied family law has actually sparked felonies. These are tragedies to prevent, not merely falling back on a procedure by which the legal system can claim to avoid responsibility.

I believe that the debate over gay marriange and/or civil unions shows us the way to the solution. Marriage is not a matter for the State and the Law to regulate - it is a matter of religious preference and Churches should have the 'authority' over this societal institution.

Religion is a matter of choice - that choice might be a very traditional Catholic, Jewish, or Native American institution. The church choice though could also be something innovative - fo example, a gay embracing offshoot of an established religion, or even something born anew - say the 'Church of Spouse Swappers' - if that was what 'you' wanted.

There are some issues which should be guaranteed by the State - dissolution from a documented abusive relationship would be one, support for a non-working spouse should be another. The rights of 'civil unions' as negotiated by gay activists are probably pretty close to what heterosexual couples deserve as well. No more, no less.

The issue of children in marriage is another area of State involvement - perhaps no more so neglected than in the area of tax policy, even in homosexual discussions. It is my opinion that there are some tax benefits accruing to couples which are, in part, justified on the assumption that Children are present. I would argue that we should be taxing marrieds, without children, at a higher rate and married, with children, at a lower rate. I'm also dubious about assigning retirement benefits to a non-working spouse when there are no children present in the relationship at that particular time. This, if you will, is a functionally 'progressive' tax position.

The resolution of problem marriages should then fall to the 'authority' of each church - forget restraining orders and the like, but do give the Churches some powers in this area - especially in the area of creating a record of evidence documenting a deteriorating relationship.

I'd also go so far as to give the Churches authority to be insurance providers - divorce insurance would be one product, but I see no reason why Churches couldn't be providers of just about any form of the product. The resulting rates,and actuarial tables, cross tabulated by religion, would be a piece of societally relevant 'economic' information.

Lastly, one potential problem - that of a couple who choose to marry but are of different 'traditional' faiths. That too is a matter for the law, allowing those individuals choices in how to handle the situation - say allowing one spouse to accept the marriage standards of another religion without joining it, per se.

I think the best answer to that potential problem is the idea of pre-nuptial agreements. Church marriages could be considered a standard 'pre-nuptial' aggreement concerning the marriage. Individuals would have the opportunity of drafting their own agreements, including modifications of Church practices, if acceptable to that Church.

Some thoughts on Drug 'Law'

Does the law belong in the 'regulation' of drugs in society?

Anthropologists have studied the question of drug use in a wide variety of societies, including those that utilize psychedelics. The generally accepted wisdom, correct me if I'm wrong or out of date, is that societies who have older individuals as mentors for younger users are generally healthy and avoid many of the problems of drug abuse. The role of the native 'medicine man' is perhaps the easiest way to understand this position, at least from my lay perspective.

Certainly drug use can be a contributing factor in crime. Here in Pierce County the current stereotypical problem is the unemployable meth addict looking for income to support drug use in the mix of his or her life's priorities. Not so long ago, and still with us to some extent, would be the similar, but manifestly different, heroin junkie.

The biggest societal problem in this regard though is alcohol and violent crime. In history the provision of alcohol as a reward to fighting troops provided a benefit to the commander - a more aggressive fighter, once the hangover wore off. (not a bad timing factor in the conduct of battle either) The history of marijuana use during the Vietnam era in this regard probably merits continuing historical review (marijuana probably lowers the fighting ability of soldiers).

The trend towards medical marijuana, including in California, federal efforts opposing not withstanding is, I believe, the way to go. And not just for marijuana, but for every drug, including alcohol. Our society has 'medicine men' - they are called medical doctors and they have extensive scientifically founded training as well as strong requirements for social capability manifested as 'bedside manner'.

My thought is that alcohol purchases should be regulated - via the medical profession. The 'administrative' way to do this is something that we should be doing regardless of medical oversight. If you look at the back of your Washington State driver's license it has a barcode. It is merely a minor software problem to require the scanning of this barcode with any alcohol purchase. The benefit of preventing sales to minors alone would justify this wise implementation of technology.

Privacy protections on this information should be high - standards in this age that need review - especially in light of current abuses, including within the legal profession itself. Judgement in the use of this information should also be high. Laws should not be so strict that a person is prevented from hosting a private party without being called an alcoholic. There is nothing wrong with a determined person being able to find small workarounds as a price of protecting liberty for us all. Those workarounds though will require a social network, and those sorts of networks will develop their other problems as well - another case for a law enforcement professional with good judgement.

The availability of alcohol purchase records will also be a useful tool for the law enforcement investigator in the course of sorting through persons of interest and conflicting statements.

I'd argue that all products with psychological effects be regulated to some extent - including stimulants such as caffeine and relaxants. I'm not going to say those products require a bar code scan or age restrictions but their management in that context is definitely appropriate.

I do think psychedelics should be medically regulated products as well, but their use should be among the most difficult.

In my opinion one of the ways to understand a drug is how often you can use it before problems start to appear. Alcohol can be used relatively frequently by some without major problems, even daily in smaller doses. ( I would argue though that this is medically undesirable.) 1-2 cups of Coffee a day is nothing to be concerned about at all, though that too might have minor medical disadvantages. 'Desirable' alcohol use is probably in the area of 3-4 total drinks per week.

Marijuana on a daily, or even weekly, basis does become a dangerous drug. Airplane pilots are regulated on the use of alcohol for a nearly a day prior to flight, as I recall. I would argue those same time frame constraints be placed on anyone in a position of responsibility. In the case of marijuana a time frame from use to work, such as with a truck driver, should be on the order of a week. (that's a lay guess, not scientific or medical judgement) I'd also guess that desirable use of Marijuana is on the order of once a month or so, though it would probably be okay if that was an annual average whereby use was concentrated during a summer vacation or the like.

Psychedelics should most likely be used the most infrequently - as a guesstimate I'd say once a year, maybe twice. Higher frequency use might be okay, but again in the context of annual use as an average, with these drugs though that should be spread out over the course of a lifetime.

Although the emergence of universal insurance may make this moot, it still merits mention as a part of the current conversation on insurance. Making medical insurance a requirement for any drug 'use', including alcohol, would do much to encourage the purchase of that product among groups that are both higher medical risk and less likely to act prudently. The resulting actuarial tables should be a core part of the drug discussion, as well as violent and property crime statistics resulting from relatively more accurate data. FWIW I'd bet there are a fair amount of problem alcohol users trying to scapegoat the marijuana users for some of there own 'problems'.

Lastly, a personal observation. If I am so lucky to die in bed, doing so being stoned during my last days might well not be a bad way to go. Call that a living will, if you wish.

January 28, 2008

At best, Overpaid

The post-affair resignation of the 46 year old married Federal Way Judge Colleen Hartl received wide coverage. Many of the gritty details have just been released in a cover story by the Tacoma Tribune, last Saturday.

Judge Michael Morgan had attemped several times over the seven month career of Hartl to encourage her to act responsibly. In response to these 'legal' calls for accountability Hartly responded by accusing Morgan of "Workplace Domestic Violence" in an email to the Federal Way Police Chief.

This certainly gives a new dimension to the practice of 'sleeping one's way to the top' - and perhaps to the relationship with Hartl's lawyer husband as well.

It is shameful that the legal profession gives harrassment gossip full weight before the bench - the degeneracy of this practice is perhaps best revealed by this case.

My question here though is why in the world are we paying this lawless trailer trash more than $125,000 a year? That's more than any elected state-wide official save the AG and the Gov. Perhaps it is because the lawyers threaten the other two branches of government with 'workplace domestic violence' if they don't cough up?

Now, just where would one take such an allegation - if the Court's, and their officers, are complicit in the problem?

That's a tough question, but let's hope that Judge Michael Morgan will continue to be part of the solution. He is certainly worthy of his compensation, he just earned several years of it.

Besides the major dailies and broadcast TV this story has been covered, and discussed, on the below list:

Federal Way News

Normandy Park Blog (South King County, Washington Suburb)

Above the Law

Police Crimes

(The TNT has a policy of archiving articles into paid status after a few weeks.)

January 31, 2008

Culture, from Port to Port

The recent Port of Seattle controversy over misuse of the public's trust in their wasting, at best, 97 million dollars leads to some deeper questions.

Just what in the world is going on? How is such a monumental culture of **non** accountability allowed to florish?

A story today about a spat between SF Board of Supervisors and the leadership of that City's Port may well provide some clues:

SF Chronicle Story

Sure, intimidation from the old white boys is something to be concerned about - but knee jerk uses of such accusations may well be just a continuation of the cycle of abuse - flip side of the coin, etc.

What makes a society work is people that work - who earn it. That ain't happening, and I think the root of the problem is spoiled white women who think it's equal rights for them to have the same ability to abuse power as their husbands, and fathers.

For all the high falutin talk of equal rights all we've got is a bunch of spoiled rotten folks worse than even their white male 'predecessors' in authority. And it is the legal profession which has taken ownership of the public's trust - who cares about an incompetent employee just so long as they continue to funnel money to your 'clients'.

Banning talk about harrassment isn't the solution - applying it correctly is. Harrassment is the abuse of power - the bigger the authority the bigger the response. Continuing the pattern of authority from supervisor to up and coming employee or from generation to generation just means that the responding is more difficult - and all the more necessary.

February 11, 2008

U.S. Open & Tacoma's Economy

Last week's announcement of the 2015 U.S. Open to Pierce County's public Chambers Bay course was accompanied by the usual PR endeavors - including a projection of $100 million in 'economic development'. Though the event will be a benefit language like this carries with it the risk of ongoing dependence on public monies in the City.

One thing for sure, the course is both a touch eccentric and stunningly gourgeous - the sunny day view of the Olympics over the Islands of the south Sound is unforgettable. I'm not a golf person myself, but they built a 3.25 mile bike trail around the periphery, from ridge to bay and back. Built on an old sound gravel pit, with remnants of the concrete handling structures, the course, stylisitically, envokes Mad Max. This is the course that Mel Gibson would've built in his retirement, had the recovery of that 'planet' ever taken hold.

If I was ever to take up the game, this could very well be the course.

The course was the pet project of County Executive John Ladenburg, also the most recent gavel wielder at Sound Transit. While Sound Transit may be continuing derailing itself, this project is one that will be a legacy of him, and his family.

The Sound Transit link of Ladenburg does raise a red flag. Pierce County, especially Tacoma, has been the recipient of many, many dollars of economic development money. Here, it seems to be working - there is a renaissance in the making and that is a very good thing. Money spent here has provided benefits, much more than $100 million - or for that matter both Seattle sports stadiums combined.

But such assistance should be transititory. One could easily imagine the course becoming THE place for drunken deals between Olympia and Seattle corporate welfare pimps. Instead of this happening, I think that instead the City should set itself a goal of weaning itself from public money by that date 7 years from now, at least north of I-5.

And hey, Mr. Ladenberg, how about inviting me and Rob McKenna for a golf lesson?

Coverage on the number one Tacoma site, Exit 133, is here.

February 12, 2008

Sam Reed (Old R) v. Dean Logan (Young D)

Dean Logan, controversial former elections director at problem plagued King County, is now lead of L.A. elections and continues his press presence today.

This story concerns an issue of mine - the ability of non major party members to express their preferences in the primary process. The issue here appears to be voter confusion. Though the details are not clear in the article it does appear that Logan is trying to make improvements. Although I'm a bit sceptical about his learning these lessons at his level of status he does seem to be trying.

This contrasts with Secretary of State Sam's Reeds actions on the same issue. Reed does have the ability, but he isn't trying to apply same to the problem with integrity. The forthcoming 10 million dollar primary vote on February 19 seems to be 'fair' including both Democrats and Republicans. In reality though it is slap in the face of every Washington Citizen - considering the recent history of primary election law in this State.

As you probably know the Democrats don't even use the primary at all - it is merely a straw ballot. So why can't Independents and Cross-overs express their preferences as well? In addition why aren't smaller parties, including the Greens and Libertarians allowed access to the primary ballot?

I'm not opposed to the parties restricting participation in decision making, however restricting the expression of free speech is a constitutional crime - though perhaps only currently prosecutable through harrassment law!

I won't recall the full history of primary elections here - the solution stands on its own. For both local and national primaries all parties should be allowed access and all votes tabulated and reported, whether the parties use them or not. The 'Top Two' preference of voters, invalidated by court order, should be re-invented as the top two different party winners.

Included in those eligible for top two advancement should be a special category of unafilliated independent (small i). As there is no 'party' for this group, any one should be allowed to vote a counting vote for this candidate.

Advancement wouldn't need to happen very often to have a big effect - including on lazy corrupt old Republicans like Reed and young unqualified and manipulated Democrats like Logan. As it stands now we ALL lose, whomever wins.

Use 'harrassment' law on me for that 'negative' campaigning. PLEASE, go ahead punks, MAKE MY DAY.

February 18, 2008

On President's Day

For your consideration, a Presidentially themed proposal - a bike trail through the McKinley and Lincoln neighborhoods of Tacoma: (The Greenbelt above I-5 near the Tacoma Dome, for you out of towners)

President's Ridge Bike Trail

Okay, so the President's name might be a touch hyperbolic - something I've been know to lean towards. It might however catch on, at least hopefully as something that will have the support of more than one neighborhood. (Hopefully also the 'non-presidential' neighborhoods aren't insulted!)

The ridge in the name is at the suggestion of Pierce County Councilmember Tim Farrell supportive of neighborhood efforts at improving the area.

February 19, 2008

'BOOM'

BOOM

A discussion of the book with

Author Tom Brokaw

Moderator David Brewster (Founding Team Member of the Seattle Weekly and Crosscut)

Available for Download from TVW

David Brewster and Tom Brokaw are both big fishes in their respective ponds - Brewster in the world of local alternative weeklies and Brokaw as a long term top dog of the news team at 30 Rock. One might think Brokaw to be a big fish in a bigger pond, but Brewster is a bit more of a pioneer, and at least in Seattle may have more influence than Brokaw. As to the rest of the region their influence may be relatively equal.

Like my Parents Brewster and Brokaw are not technically 'Boomers', born before the war, but to young to have worked during it. Their leadership in that history, as well as the differing approaches towards journalism, makes for a very interesting discussion.

Alternative weeklies, including Brewster in Seattle are an experiment in journalism - dropping the pretense of inpartiality for advocacy journalism (turf the bloggers may yet win). Brokaw, in comparison follows the tradition of Cronkite and Murrow in attempting to be objective. Their discussion from those two perspectives from two top players at the top of their game is as interesting as the discussion of the baby boomer generation.

I'll leave it up to you to decide who is the more impressive. I do think though that from the perspective of politics in America (Brewster is unashamedly pro-Democrat) Brokaw wins hands down.

FWIW I haven't read either of Brokaw's two books, I do think I know the story already and don't have the time to rehash. They are both on my list though, and hopefully at some point I will - perhaps if I should ever be so fortunate to have a couple of children of my own - 21st century boomers or busters, however the case may be.

February 20, 2008

'The Hill'

The Hill

Directed by Sydney Lumet

Starring Sean Connery

With Ossie Davis, Sir Michael Redgrave

1965

In the opening scene a British Lorrie pulls up in front of a WW2 North African Military Prison - two men leave heading back to the front and five arrive. This is a story of these five men's 'breaking in'. Their odds may well be worse than 2 in 5, though at the end their future is left to the viewer.

There are only two really bad men in this story, the third in command at the prison and a particularly slimy repeat offender. The story is complex. Lumet has crafted a social commentary typical to the the later 1960's on the ruling 'military-industrial complex' and those who 'work' for it. In hindsight that commentary was at the leading edge of massive societal upheavals to come - represented in this movie by a prisoner riot.

FWIW Ossie Davis in a supporting role just about steals the show from the lead Connery. (The 'N' word is used, more than once.)

This is a man's story. Only two women appear, for a total of maybe 30 seconds. One is the Chief Officer's prostitute, the other a belly dancer for the guards, during a drunken interval at this isolated outpost.

February 22, 2008

NIFONGED

The Duke Lacrosse Player suit has now been filed:

Durham Herald Sun, 2/21/2008

Current common wisdom is that Prosecutor Nifong was motivated in his criminal actions by a desire to politically grandstand with minority communities in that diverse North Carolina community - at the expense of the Duke students.

My question for you is this - was this really an isolated case or a case of a community of integrity stepping up to combat an emerging standard practice of corruption in public law?

Those of you who know my story will know the answer is the latter.

This case is not an isolated one - it is the mere tip of the iceberg - and the hidden remainder is the shame, and culpability, of every member of the practice of law in this Constitutionally based Country.

Counting 'I'

One of my pet issues is the question of the political parties and the primaries in Washington State. The points aren't immediately obvious, but upon reflection do become unavoidable.

Peter Callaghan, long time columnist with the Tacoma News Tribune, communicates the problem better than I:

No-count elections: A lot has been said about the oddball presidential nominating process in our state. A lot more will be said.

But any debate should include this troubling fact: Tens of thousands of ballots cast by registered voters were not tabulated. Elections officials were ordered by the Legislature not to count ballots from voters who refused or neglected to declare themselves a Republican or a Democrat.

This isn’t about the Republican Party’s refusal to accept the primary votes of those who identify themselves as independents. This isn’t about the Democratic Party’s refusal to accept the primary votes of anyone.

The federal courts have let them do whatever they want.

But state and local government should tabulate all votes and let the parties decide which ones to count and not count. State and local government should not be in the business of discarding ballots of those who refuse to go along with the charade.

If Primaries are solely for the benefit of the two major parties they should pay for them. If the State is to pay for them all parties should be allowed to use them - and anyone who choses to run as an independent should be able to accept votes from ANYONE.

Voters have deigned to have a top two primary system in this State. Personally I'm okay if the courts modify the initiative to require that the top two candidates NOT be from the same party. The current modifications though are perhaps the worst example of judicial activism that this country has ever seen. The Federal Courts, and those AWARE Olympia legislators should be ashamed.

Not to mention opening their checkbooks.

February 25, 2008

McCain and the Environment

I still haven't made up my mind who to support this year. I am certainly respectful of the very different careers of Hilary Clinton and John McCain, and optomistic about the future for Obama (if also a bit sceptical).

The Sierra Club though has released a negative rating on McCain. Unlike the NYTimes piece, I'll listen to this one.

Their suggested letter to the editor is here:

Dear Editor,

I was appalled to learn that John McCain was the only Senator who two weeks ago chose to skip a crucial vote on the future of clean energy in America -- dooming the measure to fail by just a single vote.

Now I am even more appalled to learn that this is a pattern with Senator McCain. On the League of Conservation Voters scorecard he received a 0 for missing the 15 most important environmental votes in 2007. McCain's score of 0 is lower than members of Congress who died last year.

John McCain's LCV score exposes the real record behind the rhetoric: a lifetime pattern of voting with polluters and special interests and ducking the important votes.

Sincerely,

Your Name
Mailing Address
Phone Number (use your cell phone so the newspaper can verify you quickly!)
Email Address

I won't send the letter, but it does merit mention.

BTW, anyone notice the announcement about the Spainish Solar Company cutting a deal for their first big solar construction project in the US - in Arizona. A bit of interesting global strategizing, that.

March 1, 2008

Plausible Deniability - Politics and Boeing

I'm not one to make excuses for Boeing and their handling of the Tanker deal, phase 1. A bit of speculative analysis is in order though as Boeing is again rejected in phase two.

These sorts of abuses are common in current American corporate culture. Boeing, doing business with every culture in the world, competes only with oil in a a knowledge of the business 'culture' of every country on earth. It is worthy of note that the oil 'tanker' aspect raises the specter of this being a symbolic battle for corporate dominance - Boeing v. Big Oil, if you will. I won't analyze that further though.

I for one believe that the problems at Boeing were the exception, not the rule. Though not an excuse I personally believe it more likely that the 'infection' started on the government side, not vice versa. Certainly Boeing did the right thing by correcting this action immediately. This compares with Washington State's other dominant international company, Microsoft, and their 'behavior' in Europe, home also of Boeing's competitor, Airbus.

There are a number of speculations as to what the major 'external' forces were at work here. Perhaps the most positive is that the 777 production line will be changing from a global outsource model back to a domestic one and that the Northrop/Airbus deal may be a new attempt at an international aerospace business model. Perhaps second on the list of the positive theories would be that the Airbus participation is a mea culpa on the part of the Bush Administration for the embarassing behavior of Microsoft (and, in the context of international business, the equivalent of an out of control teenage punk).

However the most negative scenario is something to be very concerned about. In the realm of defense Boeing is by far and away the most 'Democratic' of all competitors. Their civilian jetliner business is a big reason for this, and is perhaps best evidenced by their choice of Chicago, hometown of Barack Obama. The history of that is of course much more rooted in the past - of which I'm not competent to speak of, but most likely going back to the Jackson/Magnuson era.

Would it be fair to accuse John McCain of himself being subject to corruption? No. However it is more than fair to speculate whether his 'organization' is being subjected to the same corrupting influences that affected Boeing in the same place. Being a control freak, strangely enough, is a universal phenomena, in the US, and the world.

And yes, if it isn't clear I am raising the question - did the Air Force 'attack' one of America's very best very large corporations in order to, in their minds, benefit McCain?

I've been a supporter of McCain's, but I'm beginining to wonder if he is succumbing to the dark side in his older years, in order to pass muster with the Republican party faithrul.

There are many lessons in life Mr. McCain, and you have learned many of them, some of them the hard way. But one of the most important is knowing when defeat IS a viable option. In some cases it is better to lose. People who must win every battle end up defeating not only themselves, but everyone around them.

We're waiting for your leadership Mr. McCain. Are you going to take that call from the most credible of defense democrats, Norm Dicks? Are you going to comment on the Boeing deal?

Lastly, a bit of disclosure. My Father was a Northrop engineer for most of his career in Southern California. However given my Paternal Grandfather and Maternal Uncle's employment with Boeing, as well as Northrop's deals with Boeing itself to call this one a wash - not even counting any local biases. FWIW, a personal note, I don't really know what pop's role was - his story was optics, but that's a field that blurs with intelligence, if one considers the various steps necessary to both identify a target and deliver, for example, a smart bomb.

March 2, 2008

Open Government & Business

My local paper, the Tacoma News Tribune, has an editorial on Open Government in this Sunday's edition. This is an editorial series of 12 this year celebrating the paper's 125th anniversary. This theme is also an important one within the remainder of the State, including the Seattle Times, which initiated the Coaliton on Open Government.

As the paper notes:

Advancing the cause of open government is a value, not a business model.

On a similar note the paper hosted a great forum last week on the role of newspapers in connecting with their community in the internet age. Panelists included Michael Fancher of the Seattle Times, David Brewster of the Seattle Weekly/Crosscut, Jack Hart of the Oregonian and two academics. This session was not about business either, however anyone who follows the business knows that the emergence of internet agebusiness models is a current major subject.

I don't have an answer to those related business questions, but I do have some thoughts.

An honest and transparent government may not a business make - however a dedication to same should be a goal of every business whatever their level of operation. As it is a paper's responsibility to advance same it should be a businesses 'responsibility' to support same.

But 'business' is not a monolith - it is merely a name assigned to a collection of very independently minded entities, at least in theory. Up north the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce led by the two big public finance firms, Foster Pepper Sheffelman and Preston Gates might disagree. In practice 'business' to them needs to stand together - both those who serve government (including, first, themselves) and those who work in a more traditional 'free market' sense.

Advertising in the ivory tower theories of Adam Smith is a double edged sword complicating what is otherwise so ideologically simple and clear. On the one hand for markets to be truly 'free' everyone must have access to all information. Advertising is the way to do exchange information, however it is very definitely NOT free.

As such advertising can actually be used to monopolize, to use the word loosely, the attention of the consumer.

Contrary to the opinion of the TNT I'm gonna put forth an idea here - that open competition AND open government SHOULD be the foundation for the next communications business model.

The foundation of such should not be traditional advertising, but rather the yellow page business model, a business which should be transferred from the telcos to newspapers. (or to the telcos, if they establish news organizations with integrity and credibility) This would mean that the advertising basis of every paper should be as broad as that of the historical yellow pages.

I'm imagining a situation where every subscriber continues to pay as well - however with greater revenue accruing to the paper through reduced printing costs. Curling up with a paper is not a bad habit, but it does also have big environmental costs as well.

Rates for inclusion by a business should definitely be higher, but for the smallest business perhaps no more than the differential between a private phone line and a business line. Rates should differ, and setting up an industry by industry pricing structure is the tough part of this idea, as well as is the issue of preferred placement. Google offers one example of how this might be dealt with appropriately.

Newspapers should also give high priority treatment to some businesses NOT based on how much they pay. Rather the paper should establish methods of evaluating businesses of integrity and credibility based on the evaluations of their subscribers.

Put simply this is a business model whereby the local paper becomes more of a trusted broker of information rather than solely a producer of it.

I don't know if this translates to the national market or not. FWIW, Google may already 'own' that market, deservedly. I don't think though that the Google model extends automatically to the local level.

The full feature TNT editorial is here.

March 4, 2008

Just one more thing...

Well, it certainly looks like there are some violent wack jobs hanging on to the Earth Liberation Front movement - as evidenced by some rather spectacular fires in the SE Snohomish County community of Maltby.

The operative phrase in that sentence is 'looks like'. It is quite possible that this is just an arsonist torching unsold multi-million dollar homes (the one sold was the only one untargeted) using the ELF as scapegoat - and scoring a few political points in the process. These houses are big, that's true, but they were also showcases for environmentally friendly building processes.

The current court case regarding the accused look out for the alleged ELF bombing of the Center for Urban Horticulture, in Seattle is worthy of note. Though this particular individual is claiming innocence I do believe they have confessions, and deals, from the alleged other participants.

FWIW though I don't know the particulars of those other individuals - and targeting a bunch of Master Gardeners just seems plain weird.

Odds are definitely pointing to the ELF. Not a long shot, that. News flash to Hillary, Barack and McCain - it looks like we've got our own 'Al Qaeda' movement brewing in America, no need to import it.

March 12, 2008

Is Sound Transit the Energizer 'Bunny' in disguise?

The Tacoma Tribune has an editorial today regarding light rail, noting the faster than projected ridership on the Sounder Commuter train. They imply, but do not articulate, support for Sound Transit. I've submitted a letter to the editor, which I've enclosed below. (I've thought some about delaying the publishing of items I've submitted to others - this case though seems like one okay to put out immediately - it is not like my readership competes with theirs!)

The editorial is here.

Although I was, and am, opposed to Sound Transit I do agree with the editorial board's numbers regarding demand for high capacity transit.

The crucial number to understand at this point in reaching a plan of action is 20-30 years from now - the likely completion date of South Sound Light Rail. I think the case for arguing for a delay in that decision until it actually needs to be made is compelling.

Technology changes. It may well turn out that the best solution for the region's needs in 20-30 years is actually a replacement of the successful and easy to expand commuter rail - perhaps a bullet train or some sort of maglev technology?

Providing guaranteed funding to a single source agency with no real accountability for that time frame is simply idiotic. The power network behind Sound Transit is extensive and quite capable - but are they accountable to the individuals that make up this region? Or are they perhaps responsible for creating a 'hostile' working environment for everyone who choses not to be a corporate lackey(or political party hack)?

It is essential that Pierce County works together to get our fair share of transportation funding - what WE need now, not what appears to be simplest to obtain from a menu put together by a deadbeat agency with no real planning expertise or realistic local connections.

Those items include expanding Light Rail TCC and the Sounder to Lakewood. Personally I'd also like to see the Sounder go all the way to Olympia and a spur line built to Eatonville.

And this is a planning 'philosophy' that works not only in Pierce County but also for the rest of the region - perhaps nowhere more so with our close neighbors in South King County.

Instead of building that long expensive link between Sea-Tac and Tacoma how about connecting light rail to the Sounder Station in Kent? How about doing it in less than ten years instead of 30?

Instead of building light rail across I-90 with questionable engineering compatibility why not delay the building of that crossing until 520 is built, and built right for light rail? Why not, as proposed, extend commuter rail from Renton to at least Bellevue. (and perhaps using the segment north from Bellevue for the first track/technology upgrade).

Building Sounder service to the Eastside would create nearly as much demand as that service to Seattle - and Bellevue should also follow our lead by building their own starter light rail service to provide circulator service among the different areas of that medium density employment center.

The role of the Tribune in the leadership team of the South Sound is crucial. Jumping to easy to reach conclusions motivated more by a desire to grab for the easy pork rather than doing the right thing is a sure bet to create more problems than are solved. But then in 20-30 years, will you care?

After all it is about getting yours, the rest of us be damned, right?

March 14, 2008

The intent of the Constitution

A Thomas Jefferson quote making the rounds of the web now, I believe the original 'reviver' was Sen. Tom Coburn.

The same prudence, which, in private life, would forbid our paying our money for unexplained projects, forbids it in the disposition of public moneys.

Does any more really need to be said?

March 19, 2008

Bailing out Authority: Regents visit the UW-T

If my calendar is correct the UW Regents will be in Tacoma tomorrow.

FYI, as the evidence and their own law indicates, these folks are legally and morally bankrupt, though, unfortunately, not financially so.

No details today, but, FWIW, all I have to is show up tomorrow and and not say a word and your entire credibility will be destroyed as well as that of your associates. That includes your son, Mr. Gates.

Of course it had already happened 15 years ago - even before I attended a meeting of yours quietly, hanging out with David Brewster.

Again, per your law and your actions, just how do you pay back for 15 years of good living when everything should have been taken from you then and you have nothing now, nor will you ever again?

How about you show some responsibility for once and dedicate your genetically defective bodies to science? That would do it for me.

I do realize that you have supporters, and certainly I'll listen to any of them with credibility, but do be aware that anyone who identifies support for you also runs the risk of being accused of conspiracy.

You are, not by my actions but your own, Scum. Scum multiple orders of magnitude worse than a recently released sexual predator. I'll give you one notch over Hitler, at least to date.

If you wish, you can probably kill me to defend yourself. As Clint Eastwood might say to a younger, less dangerous, punk, MAKE MY DAY.

March 26, 2008

I'm Okay, You're Okay?

The story of the OK Boys Ranch, in Thurston County is an old one. It is a story that we, as a State, never fully dealt with. Given Christine Gregoire's support of a contempary in her profession, a Thurston County Judge who validated some of these disgusting practices it is again timely. I also believe a second look is merited as the complexities, and dangers, of accusations of sexual abuse have become more apparent to everyone.

Thurston County resident Larry Bloom is the archivist on this issue and he has much of the material here:

http://lbloom.net/okbr.html

There is also an expert consultant on these sorts of issues who comments on the accuracy of Mr. Bloom's history.

You've got to dig a bit to find the worst of these stories - my understanding of the situation is that the OK Boy's ranch, a home for juvenile problem males, was used as storehouse of sexual victims for the benefit of well connected donors and staff- most notably including, allegedly, the Olympia Kiwanis Club. Though the club was eventually shut down a Thurston County Judge 'okayed' the practice and Gregoire supported her actions, in the interim.

I guess it's not okay to kill prostitutes, but raping young white males is fine, right Christine - just so long as you call them 'problems'?

Maybe, Christine, just maybe it's you, and your legal contemparies who are the 'problem'? Maybe, Christine, maybe it was one of your contemparies abuses that actually drove law student Ted Bundy, born in Tacoma, crazy?

Is Pierce County a Second Class Citizen when it comes to Light Rail?

The Tacoma News Tribune has, rightly, taken up the cause of advocating for Pierce County's share of regional transportation funds - including noting the rising need for same due escalating gas costs.

Today's paper has an editorial on this objective, but one that is, perhaps, miscalculated.

I've only lived in Pierce County for four years, and am really only begining to get involved, so it is definitely not for me to have a final say on this. However I have been a regular user of the routes in question, both for work here prior to my move and work north afterwards. I was also quite active during the early days of Sound Transit during my extended college years.

Though, personally, I think Sea-Tac airport should be transferred from the Port of Seattle to the Port of Tacoma it is a fact that connecting Sea-Tac to downtown and Pierce County is among the lowest priorities in Sound Transit's list.

Rather than giving a blank check to an agency, it is most important that we start on the highest priority projects now. Planning for a single source technology more than 20 years in the future is bad engineering and bad business. The TNT's editorial does call for the purchase of right of way for this corridor, and that is a wise position. Taking small steps of prudent planning and business is a good thing. Selecting mass transit corridors is not a reversible decision, nor fiscally imprudent, action.

Though the editorial rightly raises the need for better transit in Puyallup and Lakewood it is a simple fact that light rail works best in dense areas. Sounder service is scheduled for Lakewood already. Planning for a Sounder spur to Eatonville would do much to reduce traffic pressures on Puyallup's Meridian. In addition planning for extended light rail service - perhaps a loop via the EQC and Lakewood would also be wise. Who knows, by the time TCC students can afford to buy a Puyallup home the rest of us can afford to pay for Light rail service to that City as well.

Certainly I doubt, newbie that I am, that Puyallup residents are clamoring for light rail any sooner.

The most pressing issue is dealing with the complex network of business management problems associated with Sound Transit - perhaps best evidenced recently through the closely associated Port of Seattle scandal.

As to the local politics, perhaps we should hear again from the Dome Business District folks about what THEY think about Sound Transit's current management and legal team? And on the subject of roads - how about we get our own road district for Pierce County - or perhaps a reformed DOT service district organized around the Port of Tacoma and extending as far north as Kent?

April 6, 2008

Supply Siders - why, some of them are even my best friends!

Quoting oneself can be a dangerous vanity, that risk though I leave to you dear reader, to assess.

I went to an Economics lecture a few weeks ago. Arthur Laffler, a big Chicago School Supply Sider from the Reagan Administration gave a well publicized speech at PLU. This was my first time to visit this school - a beautiful campus tucked away just South of the Tacoma City limits.

The event was well attended. I though didn't know a soul, save recognizing Dave Muri, from the Pierce County Council.

I like to make it my signature to ask a memorable question, and I felt doubly pressured to come up with something for this event, especially as I kind of missed the target by a shade, in commenting in the News Tribune.

Pardon the vanity, but I do think I nailed it.

My question:

Mr. Laffler, you talk of reduced taxes increasing the incentive to produce, but what about the incentive for a corporate executive to give themselves bonuses they didn't earn, such as at a company losing money? Have your policies in fact created incentives not to produce, but to cheat?

His response was okay, maybe a B-; something about everyone taking what they can get. It is certainly true that there are people who work harder for better money. The important question is what the split is, and, of course, if there is actual collusion from the government with the cheaters.

Go Figure Mr. Laffler!

Just because you are pretty good doesn't mean you aren't a control freak

Or for that matter know what you should be doing.

This is another Sound Transit piece. Discussion is currently underway as to the components of a November submittal, if at all.

The News Tribune's Patrick O'Callahan writes on the subject in this Sunday's edition.

In my opinion, for all the so-called 'expertise' they've hired on they aren't a functional organization. I'm not dissing any individuals, save for the folks that are supposed to be coordinating it all. The conversation about what to do isn't happening - rather it is all an exercise at self-congratulation and control, not doing about what is most important to be done NOW.

O'Callahan's editorial does make a good point about obtaining rights of way for the Tacoma to Sea-Tac segment and I hear there feelings about the priority of this segment, also important to their geographic market. But even this is framed in a way unneccesarily expensive. Instead of purchasing right of way outright why not just get the rights to purchase it 20 years down the road, give or take?

In a companion editorial board piece they acknowledge the problem of people voting for something that won't happen until after they are dead, perhaps as succint a statement of a core problem with this leadership. Instead of asking us to give them a free ride for the rest of their lives why don't they go away and give us some leadership that will respect the needs of small and medium sized businesses to operate unitl they die.

Give or take.

One last comment - though Olympia 'free-riders' going to Dupont to ride the system might be viewed as a problem I'd bet that Olympians might just well vote to join a system - one, say, that was only Sounder Train and Bus?

April 15, 2008

Two Versions of the Law

Doug Schafer pointed out this 'small problem to me'. Former Seattle City Attorney Mark Sidran was fond in his speeches of noting how such small problems can lead to bigger one's. This is perhaps the pre-eminent example.

In the early 1980's the Washington State Bar made some changes to the 'Rules of Professional Conduct' (RPC), including 3.3 D. This rule concerns the necessity of a legal professional reporting the illegal behavior of a client, including, perhaps most saliently, another Lawyer.

Washington State Bar Rules

Section 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal

.
.
.

(d) If the lawyer has offered material evidence and comes to know of its
falsity, and disclosure of this fact is prohibited by Rule 1.6, the lawyer
shall promptly make reasonable efforts to convince the client to consent
to disclosure. If the client refuses to consent to disclosure, the lawyer
may seek to withdraw from the representation in accordance with Rule 1.16.


American Bar Association Model Rules

Section 3.3 Candor Toward the Tribunal

.
.
.

d) In an ex parte proceeding, a lawyer shall inform the tribunal of all material facts known to the lawyer that will enable the tribunal to make an informed decision, whether or not the facts are adverse.

You may be aware that just before I started this blog I filed a bar complaint against John McKay. This was, as former Seattle City Attorney (or Rudy Giulianni) would put it - a 'little thing'. Specifically I raised a legal point about the profession's responsibility to the public as spelled out in the Constitution. Personally I'm most concerned about the financial aspect of this - called 'fiduciary responsibility'. This complaint though focuses on election law and illustrates the same problem - the law does not believe they have any responsibility whatsoever to the public.

Consider, if you will, just how this fact might overlay with the changes in Bar Rules implemented by our local profession. Say 'WA', eh?

The McKay Bar documents are here, here, and here.
(These were originally referenced in my blog in my first post ever - 6 months ago, to the day.)

Schafer has a web site, here:

April 23, 2008

Good Day on Crosscut

Crosscut can put forth some of the worst seattle centric limousine liberal right wing conspirator friendly propoganda - but at the same time they also manage to occassionally publish stuff from some of the best.

Today I commented on three pieces, a great example of this profile.

A piece by Hugh Spitzer is an example of some of the worst:

Hugh Spitzer on the Constitution

An op-ed by former WSDOT Director Douglas MacDonald is an example of some of the best:

Douglas MacDonald on Transportation and Realistic Growth Management

What Crosscut will actually mean to the NW is perhaps best foreshadowed by a piece by Business Manager Yazmin Mehdi.

Yazmin Mehdi writing about business

June 21, 2008

Emerald Antithesis (C) #1

In 1988 Dukakis was defeated in his race for the Presidency. Curiously, this also marked the 'bust' of the high tech 'Massachusett's Miracle' in the Computer and Software industries.

More curiously Gore's 2000 defeat was similarly preceded by the 'popping' of the internet bubble.

As such, a prediction.

In 2015 the green energy bubble will bust, and Jeb Bush will be elected president in 2016!

Funny isn't it, about how predictable Democrats are with money!

June 24, 2008

Rules of the Road: Respect for the Public Interest in Time and Space

Recently State Attorney General Rob McKenna announced that the proposed sale of the NW's largest private utility Puget Sound Energy to an Australian led international investment group would be challenged. PSE is the NW's largest privately owned utility - number two, curiously, was the former Enron holding, Portland General.

This AG action has State ramifications relevant to our largest public capital decisions, even the current gubernatorial contest.

Continue reading "Rules of the Road: Respect for the Public Interest in Time and Space" »

Emerald Antithesis (c) #2a

Sound Transit makes the environmental claim that their system is environmentally friendly - because it encourages urban living.

But let's not forget that one of the reasons people have left Urban environments is because of the standard practices of urban legal 'control' (I'd use the words 'Urban Harrassment').

As such, a prediction for your consideration-

Urban living could be made more desirable than the benefits of Sound Transit at zero cost by removing Sound Transit legal counsel COMPLETELY from power.

June 27, 2008

Emerald Antithesis (c) #2b

Another Sound Transit 'antithesis', #2b.

The current Sound Transit plan is now being finalized - likely though through the same sorts of irrelevant public process that led to the failure of Prop. 1 earlier this year.

Two elements of this evolved plan merit your consideration.

The first is the environmentalists call for a vote seperate from roads. Though I am a balanced roads/transit guy, I do support this as a fair process. I would of course hope that any environmentalist of political integrity would also support the submital of a roads only package, to be fair.

This is all well and good - until you consider item number two. The current alternatives being seriously discussed are centralized Seattle-centric plans - as opposed to a distributed priortization which serves all sub-areas with 'equity'. As such the 'environmentalists' are apparently forming a coalition with the power, and cash, sucking 'people' of Downtown Seattle.

This is a lose-lose decision. On the one hand this geographic divisiveness may well kill any environmental benefits that the Sound Transit light rail plan might provide.by alienating suburban voters. On the other hand the plan might pass and we would be stuck with an environmental bully as damaging as Gregoire's gender bullys.


August 1, 2008

Cops, Crooks, and Politicians

Cops, Crooks, and Politicians

By Neil W. Moloney

With a foreword by Former Governor John Spellman

1993

This book is not quite the tell all that the title promises, however for those concerned with public safety, post WW2 corruption, or Pacific NW history this is a must read.

This is a cop's story of an uncompleted investigation, starting with a 1954 murder of a Seattle Police Officer in a Greenwood neighborhood bank robbery. The perpetrators were Canadians, apparently connected.

The author, former chief of the Seattle PD, Port of Seattle, and the Washington State Patrol, started his career about this time. He rose to the top ranks in the 1974 corruption scandals, a story he also addresses.

He doesn't name American names, or at least new ones. He does talk at great length about Canadian corruption and implies that there are similarities in 'practice' on this side of the border.

One name he mentions a lot, and seems to like, is former US Attorney Brock Adams who did his best to prosecute the case. Curiously this book was written not long after Adam's disgracement on no evidence.

Reading between the lines the names not said would be Norm Maleng and the Judges of King County, to start. Moloney though is a good cop, and states only those conclusions that he can back up.

It is up to the reader to bring their own experience to the story - and to ask themselves whether those same corrupt practices continue - or, as more likely, reinvent themselves.

The Moral Center

The Moral Center

By David Callahan

2006

Callahan rose to notice in America with his early 2004 book 'Cheating Culture' where he makes the case that America has been taken over by those who dishonestly make their living - on the right and left.

'Moral Center' is his 2006 post election reflection on solutions for that problem.

I knew Callahan as an undergraduate (where Brock Adams was Trustee, in addition to his duties as US Secretary of Transportation). Callahan was on the political track while I was a economist into divestiture and workplace democracy. But we did have the chance to have several worthwhile conversations - my strongest memory is noticing that he was getting letters published in the New York Times on a regular basis. Definitely someone worth talking with, and hopefully I for him.

I'll leave his solutions to you, but let me extract his quoting of FDR for your thought.

Roosevelt was masterful at laying claim to the ideals of self-creation and personal liberty through hard work. In his 1936 speech to the Democratic Convention, Roosevelt decried industrial barons who had imposed a "new despotism", and said that "the average man once more confronts the problem that faced the Minute Man." He exhorted America to fight a "new industrial dictatorship" that crushed "individual initiative". FDR than spelled out his vision of freedom: "Liberty requires opportunity to make a living - a living decent according to the standard of the time, a living which gives a man not only enough to live by, but something to live for .....Today we stand committed to the proposition that freedom is no half-and-half affair. If the average citizen is guaranteed equal opportunity in the polling place, he must have equal opportunity in the marketplace."

Just prior to the conclusion of the book he quotes from another early 20th century leader, Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis.

We can have concentrated wealth in the hands of the few or we can have Democracy. We cannot have both.

August 18, 2008

Measuring State AG McKenna - and Pierce County Prosecutor Gerald Horne

I'm a fan of current Washington State Attorney General McKenna. I saw him work in detail on the Sound Transit Board in the tough days leading up to the passage of the first Bond Issue. Many times he was the sole voice of dissent, though frequently he worked with his fellow King County Councilmember, the relatively independent Maggi Fimia of Shoreline. Although he himself was opposed to the project he was always constructive and his involvement led to a strong start for that agency - and a strong bus dominated plan of service for his own district area, the Eastside of King County.

Unfortunately the Sound Transit Board lost its leadership continuity in the days after passage. My opinion is that the turnover was a powerplay by the powers that be (operating through the Greater Seattle Chamber of Comerce). There was also a well managed financial 'scandal' that pretty much finished the job not too much later..

I'm voting for McKenna this time around, and I think he'll win. However I am concerned as to whether he's keeping his own 'continuity of leadership' as he matures in office. I'm of the opinion the barrel is rotten and we all know what all to often happens to good folks in such a situation.

Top on the bad apple level, and more senior to McKenna, would be the former AG, Christine Gregoire, and, on the Republican side King County Prosecutor (Seattle and immediate suburbs) Satterberg. FWIW, these two are the start of the Government 'Blame Game' cited effectively by current GOP gubernatorial candidate Dino Rossi.

Continue reading "Measuring State AG McKenna - and Pierce County Prosecutor Gerald Horne" »

August 25, 2008

Un 'Lockeing' Olympic Spirit

Funny thing about these just concluding Olympics - my strongest memory was actually of former Governor Gary Locke, the first Chinese American Governor in the U.S.

The coverage was local, of Locke running the torch for his 100 yards or so, in China.

He definitely had the spirit, same one he's always had. At the same time though he definitely looked like he was in need of something to do. Although I have concerns about Locke's pandering to some of the worst of the system he also left that system before (hopefully) it actually corrupted him. This stands in stark contrast to former State and Local associates Gregoire and Satterberg who started from a similar educational and intentions point and ended up being corrupted.

Is there no work for honest, powerful people in Washington State? Really, is there nothing here for him? Here's some ideas - how about putting forth an Olympics bid for Seattle - say 80% privately funded? Or perhaps as Ambassador to China, under Obama?

Even better, how about one of my pet projects - the formation of a private University to rival Stanford, Princeton, Yale or Harvard?

Emerald City Antithesis (c), #3

Your status as a citizen in Seattle is the direct inverse of your ability to express your opinion to an elected local official.

If you are able to significantly effect both positive and negative opinions, double the effect.

If you are able to express your opinion with an eye to the budget, multiply it.

If you are to do all of the above, use an exponent.

(If you wish a positive Status in Seattle find a way to give bucketloads of cash to Foster, Pepper, and Sheffleman and 'volunteer' to speak for one of their tax revenue 'deals'.)

Legal Weather Report: Wither Foster, Pepper, and Sheffelman?

Foster, Pepper and Sheffleman is arguably the most powerful law firm in Washington State at the moment.

They rose to prominence as counsel to the well run savings bank, Washington Mutual, I believe avoiding the scandals of the savings and loan debacle of Keating, et al.

Under Norm Rice they entered the public bonding arena doing the first low-income housing bond. This looks to be largely the accomplishment of senior Partner Judy Runstad - a former land use official who married the inheirited wealth of the Wright and Runstad construction firm, Jon Runstad. (I'm not sure in exactly what order these events occurred).

At the passage of the first Sound Transit regional light rail bond they rose to an equal status with the traditional public brokers, Preston Gates and Ellis - sharing the responsibility - and operating out of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce.

Under circumstances I'm still trying to figure out they seem to have risen to the top, with the still quiet fall of PGE (though not Bill Gates, Sr.).

However in the eyes of this recently re-activated and somewhat educated observer, they seem to have lost the support of many of their earlier backers. I won't go into details here, but it looks like, in the eyes of their old 'friends' they've now become the same as the old 'boss'.

August 28, 2008

Emerald City Antithesis (c) #4

Although the folks at the University of Washington believe that is their intellectual brain power that justifies above average salaries it is in fact an unlawful conspiracy of politically correct extortion, and only those with the 'literary' capability of accusing anyone who actually works for a living - blue collar or small business - of being somehow morally deficient - and worthy of sub-par compensation.

Technical and mathematical fields, the nerds, are somewhat exempt from this classfication, however for the more socially skillful of these individuals the burden of 'guilt tripping' is only heightened. A technically capable individual who is also intellectually honest will get the full 'hazing' from all parties, right and left.

For a related take on this see a Crosscut article by Richard Morrill.

September 8, 2008

Fannie, Freddie, and Kerry

An interesting trifecta of financial news this weekend - perhaps more significant than either 2008 VP choice, of the previous weeks.

First, the feds announced a takeover of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the two competing federally created financial coroorations underwriting much of the residential owner occupied 'market'.

Perhaps more significant, at least locally, is the ouster of long time Washington Mutual President Kerry Killinger. I was doing some web research this morning on the recent history of the Killinger's relationship with WAMU, as well as that of its long time outside Counsel, Foster Pepper Shefelman.

It was my recollection that Killinger had recently been taken to task for giving himself a bonus as the firm was on its way from to 15% of it's all time stock price high. I also recalled some changes in the relationship with FPS. Although I was able to find plenty of references to shareholder lawsuits, I didn't find anything in my quick research.

This quote though, from FPS Senior Partner Judy Runstad in 2001 is particularly telling:

2nd item in Godden's Column

Any chance FPS will be held to account for their actions?

September 11, 2008

Isn't it Ironic X 2

Isn't it ironic that on 9/11, the anniversary of the bombing of the NYC financial center, the World Trade towers, that our financial system is collapsing in a more damaging manner than could of ever been hoped for by Al Qaida - in substantial part because of the war profiteering of the Bush/Cheney administration and friends.

But if you think that is ironic, consider the fact that the reformist Republican Candidate has, by an edge, a better case for being able to deal with the economic situation than do the Democrats...

(See this piece from the Financial Times of London for a perspective on how Democratic members of the Congressional majority are looking.)

Emerald City Antithesis (c), #5

Though legal counsel for the currently troubled WAMU savings bank have crafted a careful image of social and environmental responsibility their financial practices and 'PC' abuses of power will in fact result in a net loss on these issues and the individuals themselves responsible will continue to profit from these 'changes'.

September 12, 2008

Twin Towers of Sexual Insecurity - North Tower

"Lucia, Lucia"

Lucia, Lucia

Directed by and adapted for the screen by Antonio Serrano

Based on the book 'Hija del Canibal' by Rosa Montero (Daughter of the Cannibal)

2003

This movie uses a detective mystery concerning the lead character's missing husband to explore the middle aged angst of a creative soul. Like Almodovar the director, Antonio Serrano, captures feminine neuroses with incredibly accuracy. At times it all seems a bit soap operaish, but don't let that distract your attention, there is something very real going on here.

September 15, 2008

The Perception of the Victim

A curious legal standard of Gregoire's generation under the law is 'the perception of the victim' .

I'm gonna challenge that bit of abusive double speak here, but first let me note that it is not without a rational basis, no matter how badly misapplied.

Folks who have been abused are sensitive, actions that most of us consider part of the rough and tumble of daily life in the real world can be quite stressful - this may well be a prime indicator of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder - whether it be a vietnam era vet or rape victim.

Continue reading "The Perception of the Victim" »

September 20, 2008

Perception of an Alcohol Drinker

A quick item for your consideration, dear reader:

Would it be possible that many common items of wisdom are in fact a 'projection', en masse, of regular drinkers?

Certainly no one will challenge the connection between alcohol use and domestic violence, bt consider also these possible examples:

Accusations of criminally violent behavior against Pot Smokers

A supervisor 'needing' to discipline a worker who may actually more qualified than him, or her, self.

An American Financial professional foreclosing on an American Worker's house

Equal Pay for Equal Work - Means Equal Justice

I've written a bit about the supposed 'domestic violence' expert working for Christine Gregoire, hired during her tenure as AG, and, also, on her first gubernatorial campaign.

I don't have anything against Ms. Parisien, however, for me, she is a good 'random' example of the legacy of Gregoire in this State. She may well have never done anything "illegal", but she, in my mind, does meet the standard of an abuser, as she, and her, cohorts, would apply to a male, especially one just a bit younger. I don't like that standard, but it is the law. Personally I do think that if it can be proved, that should be grounds for immediate termination.

But this post is about equal pay.

Continue reading "Equal Pay for Equal Work - Means Equal Justice" »

21st Century Mistakes

As the reality of our current financial system begins to dawn on American's I've become aware of a 'mistake' in the economic numbers for our State - we too may already be, "in the shit".

The story, as it's been vaguely reported to me by a credible source, is that the usual summer layoffs from the school system were not reported. This has resulted in 'seasonally adjusted' numbers in the most recent reports that don't include the offsetting regular drop!

I'm not going to accuse anyone of intentional misreporting based on the information I have so far, but it sure seems to happen a lot around election issues in King County and the State.

Continue reading "21st Century Mistakes" »

September 23, 2008

Sound Transit - Where's the Bike?

A picture of the Sound Transit MLK alignment, with Station and partial re-development:

Martin Luther King is an acceptable shortcut from Seattle South, during the PM rush. Sound Transit construction has slowed it a bit, but also added to the interest. On my way back from a recent Seattle trip I noticed traffic slowing considerably due a bike on the route.

It's a slightly ironic outcome of squeezing rail transit into a city arterial that bikes really don't work anymore.

Continue reading "Sound Transit - Where's the Bike?" »

Japanese Maples - Street Tree Experiment

I worked as an Apartment Manager on South Capitol Hill, across the street from SU's Xavier Dorm, while completing my transfer Honor's B.A. at the UW. (In Economics).


We renovated the building off of cash flow, over four plus years, through to its sale. One of the projects was the planting of trees in front of the building. Japanese maples are common in the area, on the Seattle University Campus and in the residential neighborhood, home to respected Japanese gardeners. (King TV and KIRO radio personality Ciscoe Morris is most commonly thought of as the SU gardener, but it was the Kubota's, of SE Seattle's Kubota gardens who did this work, prior to Mr. Morris's arrival.)

Japanese Maples are not, however, on the approved list of Street Trees. I won't say I had the approval of City Arborist Jerry Clark in order to do this planting, but it was also not done without 'consultation' of this City provided expert.

These pictures are from last week some 20 years or so after the planting - and I think we can call it a successful experiment. The trees are thriving in the harsh street environment, not interfering with power lines, nor with the sidewalk.

BTW, can't say enough good things about my employer, Weber and Associates. Mr. Weber, and company are definitely not your typical do nothing real estate speculators.

The building remains in the same ownership from those that purchased it from Mr. Weber, rents though have not remained the same. I can't remember if we were getting $275 for the 3-4 hundred square foot studios or the slightly larger one bedrooms - these days, $800 and up!

Another Bad Day for Jane Hague?

I paid a visit to the King County Council recently.

Though people complain about the 'partisan' nature of the Council I actually like the diversity of folks here. It is definitely unfortunate that they are not able to better work together due partisanship, but the people themselves are basically good folks. It's a shame what happens to some of them.

Take the case of abusive alcohol user Jane Hague. Still remaining univestigated is her treatment of Sheriff Rahr's staff, and 'co-dependency' from the Prosecutor who handled her case.

The following pictures were taken over the space of about ten minutes, while I photographed other Councilmembers as well. Most curious is how she doesn't move at all. There is definitely something more going on here than simple boredom. I'll leave that analysis to the experts, or you...

September 24, 2008

Back to the School with the BMOC - Bill Gates, Sr

Does the de facto leader of this board look like he is up for 'class'?

Though he did pay up for his share of the Bill Gates Law School, I am personally not convinced his accounts are up to date - nor without retaliation against his 'collectors'.

The quick bio of this guy, as this lay observer has been able to determine, is that he was the family law/divorce lawyer for Jack Abramoff's firm, Preston Gates and Ellis. I'm guessing that his active board wife, the deceased Mary Gates, got him a fair number of his clients.

Mary Gates was on the national United Way Board, how Jr. got his IBM contract, a deal that didn't work all that well for IBM. One has to wonder if that relationship used senior's legal strategies in order to gain as much as possible.

IBM, karma-wise, did have something coming to them -as a Black S. African tracked by their apartheid legal computer system would tell you.

Two questions for you, my friends,

Is the legal profession's use of computer's any better than S. Africa's apartheid era system?

Is Bill Gates, Sr, any better for the campust football 'stars' who were committing rape with the implicit approval of the administration, circa his appointment to the Regents?

What the Stranger Said....

Stranger has a great clip from YouTube on Rep Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio (Toledo)

Kaptur on Federal Response

Basically she is calling for criminal prosecutions, where warranted, and confiscation of assets.

FWIW, that's really the only option we have.

Curiously, she suggests going back as far as 15 years - a time frame similar to one that I'd use in Washington State for not unrelated problems.

Personally I think we should also look for civil recovery of assets, though we do need to be very careful about legal standards and precendents in such 'property rights' matters.

October 1, 2008

Persuasive Advertising

Recent negative ads have had an effect upon me. I now no longer trust EITHER candidate, though perhaps the financial crisis has as much to do with that as the well timed ads.

Although I'm still gonna vote for Rossi, if I can still live in Washington State, I have been influenced by the recent Gregoire ad comparing Rossi to Bush, with the photoshopped images merging their two faces.

Rossi does have a shot at doing something good, but, FWIW I am still sceptical. I'd also wonder if the Republican 'powers' aren't above 'messing' with smaller business folks under their control in order to leverage an anti-government response.

October 7, 2008

Brokaw, Man of the United States or of General Electric?

Tom Brokaw will be hosting the 2nd Presidential Debate tonight. He has the opportunity to make history, perhaps as much as the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1859.

Now, I'm not suggesting that Brokaw do a 'Network' 'mad as hell' speech. I will definitely measure the man on his ability to hold not just Wall Street but all of Corporate America, including NBC's parent, General Electric, accountable.

Tonight's format will be 'town hall' style. There will be people who are definitely 'mad as hell' attempting to get questions into the debate, however the microphones will be cut off immediately after the question is asked, allowing no follow-up to an evasive answer. It is Brokaw who must do the follow up, honestly and constructively, even if it means someone in New York, or Seattle, actually has to pay for their mistake.

Main Street - Metropolitan Seattle aka 'Nickelsville'


Main Street in Metropolitan Puget Sound, Metropolitan Seattle, as 'they' would prefer is no longer 3rd Avenue. Main Street in this city-region is now I-5 or 405, with the various malls strong along it's length as our new 'main' street businesses.

The folks at Sound Transit would like to make main street for this region their light rail system, and, though I'm currently an opponent (for financial and legal reasons) they do have a shot at it. Given the current people in charge this is a very scary thing.

Sound Transit is currently controlled by the law firm of Foster Pepper Shefelman. I testified at a recent meeting about the financial and legal practices of this firm, given the recent failure of another institution they control, Washington Mutual Bank. In addition I also pointed out a specific example of managerial ommission in Tacoma/Pierce County the bike trail crossing of Pacific Avenue at the Sounder location, as per the GMA mandated Tacoma Comp Plan under employee Chris Larson.

A telling quote from FPS senior Partner Judy Runstad, former land use czaress at the City of Seatte, from a Jean Godden column in 2001. (Godden and Runstad share hair stylists, as well as money from FPS and hubby Jon Runstad)

Continue reading "Main Street - Metropolitan Seattle aka 'Nickelsville'" »

October 8, 2008

Hey Barack!

As you are continuing to forumulate your response to the bankruptcy of Wall Street please consider the Washington State auditor, Brian Sonntag.

Mr. Sonntag has been an exceptionally talented, forward looking steward of the public's assets in this State. At my preliminary look he received more votes than anyone in our last primary and he received an even bigger endorsement of his leadership when the citizens of this State gave him the powers of 'performance audit' of state and local agencies.

This guy is a total winner and deserving of a high profile seat, perhaps not treasurer, but perhaps the SEC, if not some sort of governmental watchdog role.

Excuse me, Mr. McCain

As you consider your possible cabinet members in these final days of the campaign please consider our Attorney General, Rob McKenna. Besides being your ranking supporter in the State he is also exceptionally well qualified for the sort of leadership you bring to our Nation.

Certainly he should be candidate for the US Attorney General seat, perhaps something else.

One caveat though, we'd like him back as Governor or Senator. Of course he's pretty much running the State already, quite to the chagrin of current governor Christine Gregoire. It doesn't hurt that he's got a few Democratic friends, including the State Auditor, Brian Sonntag.

Main Street - Madrona, Seattle, Washington

Main Street Madrona - Cafe Verite & architect Marty Leibowitz's new multi-family building

The Madrona neighborhood of Seattle is not the richest, though some of its residents certainly are. The neighborhood is, in my opinion, the very best in the City. I am of course biased. I'm prompted to write this by a recent piece in Crosscut, by Knute Berger, talking of history in Seattle and the Mount Baker neighborhood, where he grew up.

Mt. Baker is one of Seattle's finest neighborhoods, but it is perhaps a bit of a 'show' horse. Madrona, to the north, is perhaps Seattle's best example of a 'work' horse neighborhood. At the end of the bus line, above Lake Washington, the neighborhood straddles some of the finest waterview homes in the City as well as one of its historically poorest neighborhoods..

Though many casual observers would come to the quick conclusion that any growth in a neighborhood would be perceived as bad, it has happened here, and it was done well, including involvement by some folks living in the area.

On two full blocks there is a thriving business district, with offices, studios and 3 story residential developments. The transitional blocks adjoining have seen development, including an elementary school, but this is broken up by neighborhood parks as well.

Wilridge Winery and the Hi-Spot Cafe, North Madrona

Continue reading "Main Street - Madrona, Seattle, Washington" »

October 11, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #1

Property rights are thought of as the domain of the local conservative battling his government for rights to develop environmentally protected land. In fact though it is simply an intellectual tool, not even a 'Motley' one, as in the title of this blog.

In economic theory ownership is defined as an ability to control a resource, of course including your own labor and brain. This may seem droll, but ability to 'control' a resource is, theoretically, supposed to be determined on your ability to manage the resource. Those that are not able to manage do not gain the resources to control anything more than themselves, if even that.

But it is not so simple as econ 101 would have us believe. For one, information is not free.Perhaps most importantly their are very definitely things that make government ownership of PARTIAL property rights desirable. The utility easement on your property is perhaps the simplest and most easily understood example of such a well defined partial transfer.

Emerald (Dollar) Antithesis, #6

Value in a nation's financial market's is dependent on the people who control that market's operation, including those that make their living dependent on same. If all can be trusted value will be high, and appropriate. If they cannot be trusted value will be low and undervalued.

This can be applied to today's financial crisis. We now have an accurate measure of the baby boomer generation. Although they may well proclaim their 'decency' it is in fact worth no more than a Ted Bundy charmer smile. Welcome to the hippie third world, proving that a shave and a shower does not make an honest man, or woman.

Tom Brokaw called the parent's of these folks the 'Greatest Generation' in his best selling book, and rightfully so. However not calling individuals to responsibility for their actions on the basis of the 'merit' of their parents is a major part of the problem. Corporate media and it's 'smile' is in part responsible for this situation.

Resolving it may well take the passing of the baton of their 'authority'. Not to mention that of the 'worst' generation's.

October 12, 2008

Ben Stein, on America

CBS's classic 'Sunday Morning' program had a spot-on commentary from the iconic Ben Stein. I just searched for it this A.M., but as of now it is not up.

Hopefully we will be hearing, and seeing, more of him.

October 13, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #2

Some further explorations of important basics that they didn't tell you about econ 101....

Supply and Demand applies not only to specific products or an individual's labor. Supply and demand also effects the organization of our economy - the supply of a particular size and form of an organization is, theoretically, also subject to market forces.

Unfortunately due our current financial system this mechanism is not working - the determinant of success is not the ability to deliver a quality product, but rather one's complicity in the financial system that has just 'disproved' itself.

Back in the USSA, Inc.

Welcome to the United Socialist States of America, Inc.

My name is George Herbert Walker Bush, and the KGB's Mr. Putin has nothing on me. My boys. Jeb and George are gonna kick your ass, just like they did Saddaam's. If you want to do business with me, contact my chief corporate socialism officer, 'Hank' Paulson.

As to the rest of you, you may think you are free, but the lawyers own you all, thanks to your foolish implementation of legal standards associated with political correctness.

Stand up to me, and I'll kick you into the hell on earth I've built, the sidewalks of the homeless and labled as a level 3 sexual predator.

Go ahead, make my day,

October 14, 2008

It's all about Trust, Right?

The Spokane Spokesman Review notes a possible ten year sentence for an Auburn area business absconding with sales tax revenues.

The legal argument is that these funds are not actually in the possesion of the owner, rather held in 'trust' for the State.

FWIW, too bad corporate and State employees aren't held to the same standard for money they 'hold in trust' - whether it be there shareholders or, the actual taxpayer!

October 15, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #3

Though the hypocrisy of the Bush dynasty and Hank Paulson cannot be denied, the current plan to take a partial ownership stake in the bailed out companies is appropriate.

The current plan is for these ownership rights to be without voting rights. At first glance this might seem wrong, but it probably does make sense. However, do recall that the 'management' right of termination, for cause, is always open to the government.

And, FWIW, one that still needs to exercised against firms that the government does not have a stake in.

I am sceptical of those that call for 'regulation' as the solution. Frankly, the way things are working now we get to choose between getting defrauded by Wall Street republicans or Capitol Hill regulators.

The final solution is to put the control of assets in the hands of those best able to manage them, for an appropriate mix of public and private benefit.

Sure, Dems and Republicans are going to disagree on exactly what that balance is, and that is exactly what domestic issues in electoral races should be about.

Continue reading "Emerald Property Rights, #3" »

October 17, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #4

Another of the benefits in a 'property rights' approach to economics is in the management of a corporate organization.

Historically we have represented the interests of individual laborers through collective legal representation - and there is nothing fundamentally wrong with that. Of course it can also be divisive and counter-productive as the distribution of profits needs to be 'argued'.

The most common left wing answer to this is employee ownership, and this can work, but it is also not without problems - for one, how do you make the tough personnel decisions?

A mix though of salary and ownership has many, many benefits.

Continue reading "Emerald Property Rights, #4" »

Main Street, Wasila, AK

The political idea of 'main street' compared to corporate wall street is attractive. Both 2008 presidential campaigns have taken up this idea fervently and continued it with the 'joe the plumber' barrage.

Certainly 'blue collar' america is the foundation of this economy - anyone, working hard, working honestly, should be able to become successful and own their own business. More than anything else this is what Sarah Palin stands for, and another Joe, Joe Biden, does a pretty darn good job at.

The shining light of main street Wasila is a compelling vision., Who wouldn't want to live in a town with a Moose ambling it's way down main street street under a backdrop of community businesses, green forests, and crystal capped mountains?

Continue reading "Main Street, Wasila, AK" »

October 19, 2008

Main Street, South Chicago

Chicago is home not only to Barack Obama, but also the University of Chicago, home of the 'Chicago School' of Economics, on it's south side, the historically poor black area.

As you will recall supply side economics, the idealogy of the Reagan/Bush era was a product of this institution.

It is tempting to cite this current economic meltdown as failure not just of the Federal level of the Republican Party, but also of this economic ideology.

Continue reading "Main Street, South Chicago" »

Emerald Property Rights, #5 - 'X-Efficiency'

Corporate 'Welfare' is a term that resonates well with the best of our Country, right, left, and everyone else.

What is important is that our system, including completely private businesses and welfare organizations, as well as the ubiquotous american corporation works in the way that best makes sense.

A property rights way of looking at these questions work well, just so long as everyone involved recognizes the need for both pure public rights and pure private ones, as well as the corporate mix.

'X-efficiency' is a term used for talking about the unmeasurable, the particular value of the organizational management practices of an organization. The price of labor, the price of land, the price of inputs, service or physical can all be handled by an accountant, as well as reported to a government economist.

Our system and it's over-reliance on national institutions, has problems. Sure, there is a need for large national corporations. Washington State's Boeing is among the top of that list, as to are our automobile manufacturers. These are necessary evils and they require federal regulation.

However there are many businesses where largeness is bad - perhaps first among them the community coffeeshop (which, btw, is where this blog is mostly written).

Subsidizing a bad organization means that failure is perpetuated, not mitigated. Right now, those failures are at the national level, and we need to bring much, but not all, of the property rights in our system back to the local level.

Will there be more 'failures'? You betcha. Will there also be successes that we can all learn from and emulate? I sure hope so!

October 23, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #6 - A man and his motley tools

The 2008 iconic 'joe the plumber' most likely owns his own tools - motley or not.

This is a good example of the perspective I'm shooting at here as Wall Street crashes because ot it's very poorly 'owned' tools.

If 'Joe' does buy his a plumbing business he will be buying not tools and vans so much as an organization - buth having worked his way up in the field he will have a very good, very fair, shot at making it work.

This stands in start contrast to the way corporate america now works - where the primary qualification is not ability, but rather one's willingness to NOT hold others in the organization accountable for their actions.

Hopefully Joe will also be a member of his community, including an active involvement in business, non-profit, and government affiliated organizations.

Equal Justice, for Justice

Taxation, under U.S. laws, is definitely not 'equal'. We like to see ourselves as a 'progressive' nation, helping out those that are less well off through our tax system. But if we step back and take a good look at this, is it really true?

Consider our civil justice system. From the same measure we apply to taxation is 'law' regressive or progressive?

Take another step back. Ask yourself this, considering everything under the control of law, taxes, civil courts, criminal courts, human resources, politicians, etc do we actually live in a progressive society or a massively regressive one?

Now, add the fourth dimension to your perspective, time.

Have we, since the 1960's, become a more just society? Or, perhaps have we become, in terms of our 'law', a third world country?

October 24, 2008

'Dead Pool' on Wall Street this Morning?

The futures market was predicting a black October Friday today - basically short sellers attempting to drive the market down yet further - however the market, though still down, is not crashing.

Recently I reviewed an Eastwood movie called 'Dead Pool' - the plot involving a group of successful individuals doing a sort of office pool on who could pick the most names who would die before 12 months was out.

Short selling on Wall Street is a bit like that, and definitely a dark game. But, as Eastwood's character Dirty Harry noted in the movie, sometimes they even come after you - by being a short seller you can make yourself a target of same...

October 25, 2008

Emerald Property Rights #7 - Who decides the public interest?

Sure, individual and company property rights are easy to understand, even if we are doing a piss poor job at supporting them with our financial system.

Much more difficult are public tools - ones that belong to all of us, over whatever span they may reach.

I'd argue the public system is as broken as the private one - in fact I think we've foisted the weaknesses of both systems upon each, rather that reaching for the best of the two worlds.

I won't claim to have the final word on this subject, but, one measure that is very important is what people are willing to do for free. If someone finds something worth working for without compensation, it is likely a good endeavor.

This brings up the concept of matching private donations with public, and, this, too, is part of the solution.

October 27, 2008

Economic Justice

Governor Gregoire and her generation have built their authority not absent any technical or organizational ability.

However, that ability is shielded from full accountability by the law, as her generation has made it. Among the 'tools' of that law is the ability to characterize a citizen or business person's questioning of government as 'harrassment'.

Though 'they' would have you believe that such an accusation is to prevent violence, it is actually a direct threat against the citizen - in fact, a directive that corporate and governmental organizations actually harrass the citizen business person - until they are bankrupt, until they die in the gutter.

Though I'm definitely a critic of Gregoire and crew for this legal scam taking us directly to the third world.I am not going to challenge that process.

We do need to regulate trhis economic punishement and make sure it is not abused, exactly as above. The best way to accomplish that regulation is to send those individual practictioners of this abuse to this hell on earth they have so righteously and criminally created.

If there are any fine points to be worked out as to what exactly defines that hell, well, let them argue the details. It is, as they say, 'a free country'.

Or so I hope.

"Keseyian" Economics for Obama and Rossi?

The British Economist John Maynard Keynes reshaped the world with his theories of government infrastructure stimulus during the Great Depression. This blog entry is about Keseyian Economics - a bit of randomness inspired by a typo in a comment on a good piece on the current election in Seattle based Crosscut.

Economics according to Ken Kesey would be a very different thing - however one could certainly imagine both of his major novels - 'Sometimes a Great Notion' or 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest' - being rewritten for a Wall Street setting.... :-)

FWIW, Kesey's brother continued in the family Dairy business starting Nancy's Yogurt - far superior to ANY other mass produced product, save that from Trader Joe's (and I'd not be surprised if Nancy's manufactures that). This continues a proud tradition of Oregon dairymen, including those of the Tillamook area on the Oregon Coast.

(I usually buy mine at Fred Meyer's, a chain founded in Portland, now under national Corporate ownership.)

November 2, 2008

The Meaning of American Leadership, 2008

Having greenbacks has sometimes been a good indicator of deserved authority. There are times though that it is exactly the opposite., and this, unfortunately, is one of them.

Now, I'm speaking in generalizations here, not pointing out specific individuals, like say, Henry Paulson, who seems to think that the only institutions to big to fail are those with whom he is associated, (including AIG a business Partner of Goldman Sachs)

But there are way, way to many examples these days where money is an indicator of abusive authority not earned toil - perhaps nowhere more so than in the boardrooms of corporate America and it's 'regulators'.

Real leadership doesn't make a grab for the cash as it runs for the door. It stays put and takes the risk associated with the reward.

Perhaps it is not coincidence that both Bush and the Democratic Congress are getting very close to single digit approval ratings. Perhaps either Obama or McCain can double that, or, perhaps, as McCain would put it, it is time to go 'Double Maverick'?

November 5, 2008

Republican Bear, Democratic Bull?

Democratic investors are emerging as slightly different breed of animal on Wall Street - having been through a few 'cyclical' lessons lately. I believe the up market we say yesterday was the result of Democratic Bulls while today's down move was probably driven by Republicans.

The first of those cyclical lessons was the collapse of the high tech 'Massachusett's Miracle' prior to Dukakis's run against George H. W. - followed of course by the Internet bust of 1999/2000 prior to Gore's candidacy. Personally, I think there were actually Republicans who may well have been trying the same thing this time around as well - not that they'll try that again. Not that 'they' haven't pulled plenty of cash out of circulation in the last months of Bush II.

I'd also bet Republicans are doing pretty well in cash equivalent these days. According to KUOW this morning 25 Billion of Paulson's 700 has been paid out in bank dividends, the other initial 100 has been used to buy smaller banks, those NOT needing to be bailed out.

I don't have any specific stock picks for you for a Democratic administration - no doubt Warren Buffet is playing that - and hopefully NOT Barack.... and GHW Bush's best friend right now might well be a particular Bear named Vladamir...

November 11, 2008

Setting the Bar

Citing DOJ 'policy' Bush Appointed Manhattan District US Attorney Michael Garcia has refused to prosecute Eliot Spitzer for prostitution.

Well, FWIW, I sure hope bi-partisanship is defined differently under Obama... :-)

However, it is a pretty safe assumption that the 'Bar' of legal conduct is set about the same here in Washington State, under the direction of the King County Superior Court, and it's officers.

New York Times article.

Here's an idea - how about we only pay these folks minimum wage? Are they really worth any more than that?

November 17, 2008

Keynesian Geography?

The economic idea behind FDR's economic stimulus plan is called 'Keynesian' economics, a favorite subject of mine.

Now, Obama is going to have a tough time of it, after the looting of the Federal Government by the Republican 'businessmen'. But, clearly, this is going to be some aspect of the plan, hopefully modernized a bit.

A small thought in that regard - although 'printing' money is clearly in the jurisdiction of the Federal Government, the spending of need not be. Infrastructure spending at the local level can build quality local assets - and - if both government officials AND local business people are HONEST those public projects can also be business friendly - in the historic sense of community.

I know, I know, that's a tall order. But perhaps the first place to start would be for the feds to stop backing scumbags who just happen to have a DC lobbyist - at any level.

November 24, 2008

Can Obama Beat City Hall?

Word has it Seattle's own Jim Diers was in Chicago the Saturday after the election for an 'Urban Strategy' session with Barack Obama. Hopefully this works out to be a good thing. His ideals are lofty, the idea he claims of making democracy stronger through neighborhood activist organizing.

Presumably the Diers/Obama connection is through Jesuit Greg Galluzzo who trained both Diers and Obama in community activism..

Continue reading "Can Obama Beat City Hall?" »

November 25, 2008

Beyond the Ivory Tower

Beyond the Ivory Tower

By Derek Bok (President of Harvard University)

1982

Harvard President Derek Bok's book on the responsibility of academia to business and community is still relevant today.

President-elect Obama's choice to head the White House Economic Council is Lawrence Summers*, the 2nd Secretary of the Treasury under Clinton, and, more recently, a short term President of Harvard - fighting the same battles that Bok fought during his tenure.

The $64 Billion question though is whether right wing attack folks of the likes of Newt Gingrich were supportive of the Summers (Clinton) attacks? In this case, I cannot say - but in general the circumstantial evidence is substantial.

* Here is what Summers had to say about the 700 Billion dollar bailout, back in September.

Macro Enronomics

Is the recent 700 Billion dollar Wall Street recue package nothing more than the moral and legal equivalent of a bailout of Enron? Certainly there are parallels - fraudulent paper transactions used to document value that did not exist - the only difference this time around is that the technique has been used across the board to support american corporatist finance - hence why I've called this piece 'Macro-Enronomics'

The term 'Enronomics' was first used in late 2001, and quickly spread, perhaps first at the Seattle Weekly under the pen of Eric Scigliano as well as on Jon Stewart's 'Daily Show' and George Stephanopoulos on ABC. Though rooted in pop culture this should perhaps be permanently associated with George W. Bush, much like H.W. Bush's term 'voodoo' economics has stuck to the supply side economic practices of Ronald Reagan.

It is quite true that we cannot afford to let our financial system melt down. But why, why in the world are we allowing these fraudsters to continue as leaders, let alone keep a dime of their ill-gotten gains or walk the streets.

We need to pay for the costs of this bailout, and the best way to do this is not higher taxes but to civilly confiscate the funds of the responsible beneficiaries of this scam - and make damn sure they never work in finance again - if ever make more than the minimum wage.

November 26, 2008

The Meaning of Authority in Washington State's King County

On Wall Street and Capitol Hill we are faced with a crisis of leadership and, unfortunately, our local 'main street' authorities are not without complicity in these practices. Most notably the criminal lobbying activities of Preston Gates Ellis (Microsoft's Law Firm) and the Enron like financial techniques of Washington Mutual under the control of the law firm of Foster Pepper Shefelman.

And, yeah, I'm suggesting that the corruption of corporate America is the responsibility of the legal profession - a la Elliott Spitzer in NYC and Alberto Gonzales in Washington D.C. - and, in the leadership position Washington Lawyers have taken, working as officers of the 'King County Courts'.

An illustrative case in point - the handling of the DUI case of Republican County Councilmember Jane Hague.

Continue reading "The Meaning of Authority in Washington State's King County" »

December 1, 2008

Charting the Unknown - How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS

Charting the Unknown

How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS

By Nick Chrisman

2006

This review is a bit like a post-modern piece of art, dangerously self-referential, but, hopefully, also 'true'.

I chose to work in the field of GIS, Geographic Information Services, shortly after completing a Senior Thesis on the subject of Higher Education and Economic Development. I chose the field upon becoming aware of some of the, uh, public-private 'business' practices around the economic development career track - I think a good choice, especially as I'd already had some exposure to the GIS field through government land use internships.

I wasn't actually aware that the software package I worked the most with, ESRI's ArcGIS, was a product of the same factors, and place, I studied as an Undergraduate. A such I found this book particularly interesting. This, also, is the first bit of dangerous self-reference.

The author, Nick Chrisman, was one of two GIS professors at the University of Washington Department of Geography a program I attended for a year - so this made it doubly dangerous, but also multiplied the personal attraction of this book.

Continue reading "Charting the Unknown - How Computer Mapping at Harvard Became GIS" »

December 6, 2008

Mike McKay, the Port of Seattle, and the History of the US Attorney of Western Washington

Former US Attorney Mike McKay has just made headlines locally in his Port funded audit of contracting practices, done concurrently with a Bush administration DOJ criminal investigation.

Seattle Times Story

I'm going to be critical of McKay, and draw inferences on problems in the office from his career, including those of his brother's tenure in the same position of the authority more recently, and famously. The trajectory of McKay's life may well be the best indicator of the degradation of the once fine tradition of moderate conservatism in this State, including his former boss King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng and former Governor/Evergreen College President Dan Evans.

McKay's moderate Republican credentials have a foundation worthy of pride.

Continue reading "Mike McKay, the Port of Seattle, and the History of the US Attorney of Western Washington" »

December 8, 2008

Digital TV

I've just finished my conversion to Digital TV, and it was quite the journey. The picture I'm receiving is fantastic, but it took more than the spectrum auction covered converter coupon to cover the cost.

Here in Tacoma we're 30 odd miles from the Seattle broadcast towers and this makes a difference - traditional rabbit ears don't work, at least on my ground floor. I researched this a bit, including checking each of our local stations websites. Digital TV is all UHF and rabbit ears work poorly for this band, somethin I was not aware of till ust ow. Local affiliate websites explain this with varying usefulness. I emailed each station, and only KIRO and KCPQ (13) responded - both quite helpful.

The crucial website is antennaweb, which does a great job at showing exactly what you need at your specific address. It is a bit conservative, but very useful at explaining and ranking the various antenna options - costs range from $10 to well over $100 - without installation.

I chose a medium sized directional antenna from Radio Shack, at $30.00 (they stock them, but they aren't on display, you have to ask). I played around with it on my downstairs antenna with poor results. I was also quite surprised at how sensitive the 'directional' is - probably around 10 degrees. My location is relatively good - on the ridge above the Tacoma Dome, but I've also got aluminum siding and new e-glass windows, possibly negatives.

I researched amplifiers and tried the one they sold me at Radio Shack rather than having something shipped to me. That one did nothing - what you need is a pre-amplifier, not a typical cable booster - go figure. Cost for quality pre-amps runs $50-$70, and I decided it wasn't worth it.

What I did do was set up the antenna in the attic - at the correct angle, set up by mounting closet dowel between the rafters and joists - this allows precise rotation for best reception. I set it up inline with one of my cable runs with a splitter combiner so it will still work with cable - although only for about 2/3 of the house. At about ten feet of coaxial run from the antenna the reception is great. I haven't tested drop off down the cable installation, but for now, good enough.

Confidential to Comcast - I'm not particularly interested in paying $40+ a month to get advertising supported TV AND for you to pay for broadcast commercials urging cable as the DTV solution. Broadcast News and Netflix does me fine.

December 9, 2008

Looking at the World through Venetian Blinds

This week the Hunter Douglas window blind company announced it was shutting down its Renton manufacturing facility, laying off 166.

This facility in 1997 was the recipient of $7 million in tax exempt economic development funds. The current result is typical of such financing - the business operates for a few years after the subsidy, than closes - either seeking another subsidy from another community or outsourcing offshore. This practice has evolved somewhat, this, for example, was financing, not a direct giveaway. We shall see if they pay it back though.

The bailout deal for the auto industry, now being finalized has some better conditions being bandied about - removal of the CEO for one. Further, speculation as to whether all three firms will continue to exist is continuing. Chrysler, without an engineering staff, has been mentioned as the most likely to disappear.

But still accountability within the very powerful and legally authorative finance industry continues unabated - even with talk of limiting executive pay we are still bailing out a bunch of fraudsters for their crimes and thefts. For a good a detailed explanation of this, see this story (thanks to WashBlog for the heads up)

December 10, 2008

The Shock Doctrine

The Shock Doctrine
-The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

By Naomi Klein

2007

This U.S./Multinational economics book looks at conservative business practices from Pinochet to Iraq. It is definitely written to be supportive of acurrent nti-war efforts. The unintended relevance of the book, published just before the last election cycle, to this current crisis is quite large, and the basis of my recommendation.

Continue reading "The Shock Doctrine" »

Frank Chopp's Viaduct Proposal - Negotiating Genius?

The usual Downtown Seattle suspects are blasting at Frank Chopp's proposal for the Viaduct replacement, but, as usual, aren't coming up with the money for their preferred alternative. Chopp's ideas might be just the way to get them to put up or shut up.

Chief among these proponents is Tayloe Washburn.

Continue reading "Frank Chopp's Viaduct Proposal - Negotiating Genius?" »

December 12, 2008

The road, bailed out, between Seattle and Tacoma

Twas in Seattle for a bit of a December regional conniviality (sp?) at the Puget Sound Regional Council. The PSRC is just completing another volume of their decade by decade planning document for the bookshelf, and, more importantly, making decisions on funding for the next few years of Transportation funding, both road and transit.

The PSRC does not have real authority, but it is mandated by the Feds as a condition for their dollars, so, the influence is substantial. They attract some of the region's finest electeds, and, unfortunately also, some of the the easiest to manipulate on financial matters. They well may end up being the brokers on the viaduct deal and the approvers of 'economic recovery' monies, the first phase of which is in the pipeline. (500 million for the State, 150 million for the region, tops, if I recall correctly.)

This is the chair of the Transportation Committee, Julia Patterson - she got her start towards the end of my five plus years as an active friend of the group. Patterson doesn't look to happy, she's reacting to a bit of a play by Mark Weed, chair of the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce's Transportation Committee, in the tone of their recent efforts to push through their preferred alternative for the Viaduct, without paying for it.

Continue reading "The road, bailed out, between Seattle and Tacoma" »

December 18, 2008

Obama's Stimulus Conundrum

President elect Barack Obama must begin to address the economic situation quickly. However the most 'experienced' hands in this arena are the very source of the problem, on both the right and the left. These problems go to the very core of our capitalist democracy.

The corporate welfare left and the public asset thieves on the right are all currently salivating for an infusion of new funds, yet, curiously, it is exactly these same folks that have created the melt down in the economy. Funding these individuals is, in my opinion, guarantee the failure of America - likely within the decade.

With Bush II's attempted rescue of Wall Street under former Goldman Sachs CEO Henry Paulson the debate between FDR Keynsians (New Deal) and Reagan Friedmanites (Supply Siders) is over. This abusive alcohol fueled ideology has collapsed in a pile of corrupt public officials who treat the authority and importance of government like Ted Bundy treated his penis.

But this does not mean the right wing criticisms of government are wrong.

The sad story is that both sides are right, as you know, Washington D.C. is corrupt and it's sub 20% approval ratings - both Bush's Whitehouse and the Democratic legislature is ample evidence of America perceiving, and knowing, this fact.

But the failure of the Bush federal Republican crew does not say that there is not a role for the free market, and, in fact, in certain areas, including labor, it could atill work a whole lot better. The question though is the form of the balance between government and business. This is, and should be, a source of endless debate.

As case in point, consider the Western Washington Law firms of Foster Pepper Shefelman and the former firm of Preston Gates Ellis.

Continue reading "Obama's Stimulus Conundrum" »

The Devil and his Mistress - Mark Sidran and Anne Levinson

Seattle's Satan, Mark Sidran is leaving the Washington State Utilities and Transportation Commission - apparently to little notice by the media. By my quick survey his 12/16 press release only made the Daily Journal of Commerce, Bellingham Herald, and the online blog of the Tacoma Pierce County Tribune.

I speculated in the comments of that TNT post about Sidran's reasons for leaving - wondering if, perhaps, it was due some political ramifications from white collar criminal defense lawyer Mike McKay's rather duplicitious 'defense' of the Port's actions - masquerading his defense as an 'investigation'.

The reason for the concern is that Sidran, with some UTC influence over the Port, once worked for McKay, so, professionally their relationship is tight. Relationships are something to never underestimate in the legal profession where unspoken history often trumps any articulated rational legal analysis. I was taken to task for daring to so speculate in that comments section (linked above). Don't forget also that there is a history of problems associated with public dollars and white collar crime locally - including the assasination of US Attorney Thomas Wales. As a prominent white collar defense lawyer chances that the perpetrator is only one step removed from McKay are quite high. But I digress.


Continue reading "The Devil and his Mistress - Mark Sidran and Anne Levinson" »

December 23, 2008

Other People's Children -
Thoughts on flat taxes, kids, religion, and Proposition 8

Our society has thousands of ways of biasing in favor of families with children. This is a good thing, but, frankly, it's not explicitly done, and therefore, easily subject to manipulation. Perhaps it is time to remove those implicit subsidies, 'flatening' the tax struture, while adding explicit subsidies for families raising children.

There's a tax target here - married folks without children currently have the highest discretionary incomes. Part of this reason is their ability to tag along on some of the implicit ways our society favors families. And this is where I start when deliberating on my own personal conclusions about gay rights. Please note as a single person these ideas would also mean a small rise in the amount of taxes I would pay(mortgage deduction) - though hopefully also less societally allowed discrimination in the workplace.

Marriage, family, is the institution society has created to raise children, though partnerships can exist without kids. Family is also the basis of many religions, and that's fine. Personally, I think we should take current debates on gay rights as an opportunity to clean up some of the implicit practices and biases we have around these building blocks of society, as well as in our tax structure.

Marriage should be considered 'religious' territory on which the state shall not tread.

Continue reading "Other People's Children -
Thoughts on flat taxes, kids, religion, and Proposition 8" »

Other People's Health-
Insurance Coverage and the Bailout

One of the crucial issues in the de-facto bankruptcy of GM and Chrysler is that of so-called legacy costs. Old Union benefits, including health care, which are a major drag on those companies viability. (and, for that matter, every company in America's)

As such, a modest proposal for Barack Obama on structuring the his domestic economic agenda. How about 'bailing out' the private sector for health care costs for everyone, rather than leaving it to negotiation?

FWIW, if done right, this would also mean a drastic reduction in administrative and overhead costs. Sure, that does mean some jobs lost. But preserving the jobs that should have been re-structured due the economic collapse only guarantees the continuation of that collapse.

'Doing it right' is of course the big question. The current effort to automate medical records (hopefully with strong privacy safeguards) is the place to start. Constructive involvement of the private sector in the creation and ongoing management of this simplified system will be the way to finish it - as opposed to previous right wing corporate efforts at undermining same.

Corporate co-pays, anyone?

Other People's Money, Other People's Lives

This phrase, other people's money, is resonating with me. As you know, much of this blog is dedicated to exploring various aspects of societal responsibilty, including fiscal. I'm also a legal critic believing that much of the current problem we face goes to the lack of responsibility in the bar, to, you guessed it, other people's money.

Kent Kammerer, convenor (sp?) of Seattle's most diverse (best) civic forum had a recent piece on Crosscut regarding money and leadership in the City of Seattle which brought this all together for me.

I used the term in my comment on this piece - and coincidentally, heard it on the radio just that same day by the author of a book by the same title, Nomi Prins, published in 2004. Though Ms. Prins rose to the top at Goldman Sachs she is not a fan of Wall Street's excesses and her tales remain relevant.

But why am I blaming the legal profession for the sins of the financiers?

Continue reading "Other People's Money, Other People's Lives" »

December 29, 2008

Washington Mutual and Downtown Seattle's Real Estate Market

Is Downtown Seattle still a healthy commercial real estate market? The Puget Sound Business Journal thought so back as recently as Friday, December 19.

But things can change quickly.

The next Tuesday, the 23rd, the online paper announced that JP Morgan was vacating over 700 thousand s.f. in downtown Seattle.

Curiously, the very next day, based on pre-WAMU meltdown statistics, Downtown became 'distressed', making a top ten list of worst off cities....

Perhaps it's just me, but I'm smelling a Pike/Pine Parking Garage style bailout play. Such a pity, these poor oppressed commercial real estate folks.

Washington Mutual and Wall Street's Financial Crisis

“We hope to do to this industry what Wal-Mart did to theirs, Starbucks did to theirs, Costco did to theirs and Lowe’s-Home Depot did to their industry. And I think if we’ve done our job, five years from now you’re not going to call us a bank.”

Kerry Killinger, CEO of Washington Mutual, 2003

This is the lead quote from the front page of yesterday's Sunday New York Times.

Understanding what happened here is important, both to the region and to the country.

Washington Mutual, the 'Law', and the 'business' of personal responsibility

It's amazing how much local business history remains a mystery. Consider the question of who actually controlled Washington Mutual. Was it the shareholders? - no. Was it CEO Kerry Killinger? - perhaps. Was it their law firm? - I think so.

That firm is Foster Pepper Shefelman, whom I've often railed against.

The law firm, like the bank, has been around for quite awhile. The 'Pepper' in the name is Louis Pepper who was actually CEO of the WAMU through the savings and loan crisis until Kerry Killinger took the reins in 1990.

Consider also Downtown Seattle's Washington Mutual Tower. Although you'd think a bank could afford to own its own headquarters, it does not. Instead it is owned by a company called Wright Runstad. That company is controlled by the couple Jon (who inheirited it) and his wife, Judy.

Guess what? Judy is a senior Partner at, drum roll please, Foster Pepper...

Even though there is a shareholder class action suit still going forward FPS and the other clients it controls (via marriage or otherwise) seem to be doing okay.

Heck, they were even able to keep nearly 200,000 s.f. out of the hands of the FDIC.

In the case of Washington Mutual Tower, owner Wright Runstad & Co. has worked out a deal in which JPMorgan assumed WaMu’s lease on 180,000 square feet of space and then immediately turned it back over to Wright Runstad, said Greg Johnson, president of Wright Runstad.

That move prevented the space from being turned over to the FDIC and allowed JPMorgan to continue to lease about 7,000 square feet in the tower that’s used for a WaMu branch. WaMu’s space was also 70 percent subleased, so it allowed those tenants to remain in the building without disruption, said Johnson.

From the Puget Sound Business Journal

To be honest, I don't completely understand how these deals work and what the FDIC's claims would be, but I bet it's interesting. And I'd also bet it's not the only such deal around this bank, it's law firm, and its other 'clients', many of them in real estate.

December 30, 2008

Waiting for the Viaduct, Waiting for Gregoire

Governor Christine Gregoire is expected to announce her decision on the single biggest civic discussion and capital project within Seattle proper in decades before the end of the year. Given the players involved and their involvement in national financial scandals her decision will perhaps reveal more about her than anything else.

This is turf that certain folks in Downtown Seattle claim as their own, even though the money they want to spend is not theirs. We don't know who all of them are, but the Greater Seattle Chamber Board is a good place to start looking.

Note that the chair is a partner at Foster Pepper, long time 'counsel' for Washington Mutual, whom I, and many others, have recently wrote about at length. He's backed up on the board by Judy Runstad, also a questionable character with a history.

Foster Pepper's original solution was the seawall tunnel. Frankly, after ten years or so of seemingly credible folks claiming this work, contrary to recent history of such 'big dig' projects I was begining to think that maybe it was the way to go.

Washington Department of Transportation engineers though just finished their analysis and that alternative didn't make the cut. I'm gonna be blunt here and call these downtown naysayers control freaks - presumably stemming from the work environments that formed them. And, in my opinion, that's exactly what's involved in the latest media blitz.

Continue reading "Waiting for the Viaduct, Waiting for Gregoire" »

January 6, 2009

The Future Road

The US Department of Transportation is getting ready to release a commission based study of the future of highway funding arguing for a high tech tolling solution. The folks at the Discovery Institute, whom I've been railing at lately for their support of a financially questionable bore tunnel proposal for downtown Seattle, have done a great job at predicting the likely recommendations of this Commission.

They are arguing for a concept called VMT, vehicle miles travelled, presumably technologically similar to the GPS based system now before the state of Oregon. Gas taxes will be gradually phased out, though, personally, those words are as questionable as the financing for the Seattle Tunnel.

I disagree with this proposal on the basis of what seems to be politically feasible for local voters, not to mention saleable to the Washington State driver.

I have a counter-proposal for advancing Highway funding based on what is already working in this State - HOT lanes, limiting tolling to converted HOV lanes with pricing based on congestion levels.

Continue reading "The Future Road" »

January 12, 2009

The Future 520 Lake Washington Bridge

On Thursday an ad hoc group released a study on 520 tolling looking at various alternatives, including tolling the I-90 Bridge.

Lake Washington Bridge tolling has been a big part of funding scenarios for the rebuild of the 520 Bridge. The legislature, concerned about general opposition to tolling in Washington 'State, started a project to study alternatives and, most importantly, guage feedback. Also on the table was the identification of likely 'diversion' impacts and ways to mitigate those, including among lower income drivers.

The amount of feedback was incredible - roughly 8000 letters and petition signatures, nearly as many via a web page, as well as a statistically valid phone survey. As typical, Commissioner Bob Drewel made a snide comment about public involvement, insulting all those citizens who participated as in need of 'catharsis'.

Continue reading "The Future 520 Lake Washington Bridge" »

My .02 on the Future Seattle Viaduct

The Washington State Citizen's Legislature convenes today for it's 2009 season, and, at the risk of reinforcing Seattle centrism in media, let me throw in my solution for the viaduct replacement, arguing that the surface option is the best way to act now.

Governor Gregoire once took the leadership on this subject, but she has now bailed once again, taking along with her Ron Sims and Greg Nickels. Though she claims to have a solution proposed in January we've been hearing similar promises for quite some time - in reality the ball is in the Legislature's hands.

And on this subject they have proven quite able.

Continue reading "My .02 on the Future Seattle Viaduct" »

January 13, 2009

More on 520 Tolling - Bob Drewel TVW Clip

Here's that clip (1 min, 10 seconds) of Bob Drewel talking about public participation being an opportunity for 'Catharsis' - on a task where public participation, the evaluation of tolling, is the primary charge.

Fellow ad-hoc Commissioner Dick Ford sets the stage. FWIW, he interprets Drewel's comments as regarding his, contrary to my interpretation. Ford is very smart and regardless of flaws by association he has made legendary contributions to State Transportation Planning in many commendable ways.

Drewel, in contrast, has, IMO, made a career of being a bureaucratic bully. He was hired to head the PSRC after being booted from the Executive office by the voters of Snohomish County. In my opinion he chose to sell out his County in order to advance his career with the downtown Seattle corporatists. My personal experience with him confirms this, that's another story.

Here's my opinion on the subject.

Washington State Legislature's Opening Day
- #?!@ $$$$ Budget

I was in Olympia yesterday afternoon testifying before the House Ways and Means Committee about the budget. I repeat my concerns here for your edification.

The attempt of Christine Gregoire to cut spending for Performance Audits in her submitted budget reflects long standing opposition to sound management of the public's financial resources by Gregoire. This started during her tenure as Attorney General including this specific issue. This is a problem and goes to larger practices within the practice of law in Washington State and this Country. The question here is who actually controls public funds and how government has been manipulated by 'them'.

Rather than cutting Performance Audits the State Legislature should use this office to guide many of its cuts.

Continue reading "Washington State Legislature's Opening Day
- #?!@ $$$$ Budget" »

January 19, 2009

Obama and those who pander to Jeremiah Wright

Let us hope that we find god, not the devil, in the 'details' of this countrywide racial transformation symbolically manifesting itself today, the holiday celebrating the life of Martin Luther King, one day before the inauguration of Barack Obama..

Besides a racial change Obama's rise to power also marks a generational change of leadership. To see the current situation we need to see this also in the context of the accomplished dream of racial equality. The age of Jeremiah Wright and deep bitterness manifest in political abuses is also, hopefully, over.

Continue reading "Obama and those who pander to Jeremiah Wright" »

Not Ready for Prime Time - Tolling and the Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel

Though deep bore tunnel proponents are declaring a 'consensus' decision ending years of process the clear facts are that these folks have been delaying the process until they could turn this project into a boondoggle exceeding the realistic funding levels provided by the Washington State legislature in 2005. This consensus is in reality nothing more than typical Seattle PC bullying tactic from desperate folks reeling from recent losses due the financial crisis, including WAMU. Don't forget also that leadership of the deep bore team includes folks directly responsible for WAMU.

Local committments for additional funding are definitely appropriate, however the project already has an initiative filed against it preceding even a request for funds from the voters. Remember that a tunnel has also been voted against. Albeit this is not the same tunnel, but, most significantly it was the deep bore tunnel proponents previous prefered option...

Continue reading "Not Ready for Prime Time - Tolling and the Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel" »

January 21, 2009

Harsh Reality in the Obama Age, #1

America, each and everyone of us, the Country as whole, and every one of its companies, IS BANKRUPT. Sure, some folks, the oligarchs, have cash sitting around, first off the republicans controlling TARP bailout funds and the oil companies. But is having cash in an economy that is in reality nothing more than a giant ponzi scheme a sign of merit?

I think not.

George Bush turned us into a socialist country, and to paraphrase Marx, we are now entering the 'Bankruptcy Trusteeship of the Proletariat' phase of world history.

Continue reading "Harsh Reality in the Obama Age, #1" »

January 26, 2009

Harsh Reality in the Age of Obama, #2

Everything you own is worth less than you think it is.

Though the $700 Billion TARP, Troubled Asset Relief Program, is supposed to protect those 'asset' values it is doing exactly the opposite. It is an excess of finance that created this problem and nationalizing the banks under the argument of them being 'too big to fail' will only make it worse.

Consider this, with the passage of the first round of the Obama stimulus, we will have spent $17,000 per household in 'rescue' funding since February of last year - money that will need to be paid back.

Continue reading "Harsh Reality in the Age of Obama, #2" »

January 27, 2009

Nobody is 'Too Big to Fail'

Justification for the bank bailout was based on the assertion that these banks were 'too big to fail'.

Nobody, nothing, is too big to fail, not any bank, not any politician, not any corporation, not Washington D.C., not the nation's legal system, not even Barack Obama.

The proper solution to insolvent banks was to break them up into pieces that were small enough to fail - anything less does nothing but guarantee the failure of America.

Harsh Reality in the Age of Obama, #3

The bank bailout money will be used to buy your foreclosed house.

The people who buy your former home are the ones who were big enough to have both profited from, and survived, their culpability in the unrealistic prices in the housing market - the same people who bear the responsibility for creating the problems..

January 30, 2009

Some Math for the Seattle School District

The Seattle School District last night made the tough choice of closing 5 schools, continuing a decades long decline of that instititution. Most recently this had included racist policies against whites by their so called diversity office.

I heard an interesting statistic lately, not sure if it is true or not, but certainly a factor worthy of consideration.

Supposedly 20% of all transferred students will end up leaving the District. The amount of revenue lost from these lost students will actually exceed the savings from the closures...

Go Figure!

February 5, 2009

Harsh Reality in the Obama Era, #4

In order to preserve business profitability many more jobs will be lost.

TARP and Stimulus funding will be used to support those in the 'echo chamber' of Washington D.C. and the executive board rooms of Corporate America, but nothing will be used to help you out.

Jobs will be outsourced overseas, if not filled with illegal immigrants, in a continuing desperate effort to support the excesses of the oligarchical lifestyle.

A few government jobs will be created. The primary responsibility of these 'public servants' will be to tell you how much of a loser you are and how it's time to be responsible for their failings. Most of the time these folks will be very professional and polite in how they do it, but you do run the risk of getting shot if you dare to stand up for yourself.

Though the Enron corporate scandal foretold these problems we have not learned our lessons yet - in fact our leadership is flagrantly flaunting their power.

February 8, 2009

Mr. Sims Goes to Washington

Ron Sims is no Jefferson Smith, the lead character from the 1939 Capra movie, 'Mr. Smith goes to Washington'. Sims may well be the administrative/stimulus official to make sure that Obama does not repeat the mistakes of boomer era executives, for example, Norm Rice.

Sims is a real human being, and a pragmatic one, making, what he believes, are honest decisions about weighing practicality with ideals. How he handles his new authority to further advance the idealistic in King County, at this moment in time, will show whether he has succumbed to the temptations and corruption of power or will rise to the constitutional responsibilities of his federal position.

Continue reading "Mr. Sims Goes to Washington" »

March 2, 2009

Legislating the Future - HB 1490

A state legislative bill, HB1490, which seeks to mandate growth around light rail stations has been quite controversial. Although largely symbolic the folks who win will have garnered political 'coup' - a strange practice in Seattle.

Mayor Nickels has come out opposed to the bill, but this is really just political posturing on his part - angling against Councilmember Sally Clark. Everything being equal I'd probably choose Nickels over Clark, but Nickels himself has enough baggage to make him unfit to serve. Clark does not yet have that baggage, but definitely has the potential to be even worse - as this issue would suggest.

Clark's support of this bill should be viewed in the context of her role in neighborhood planning - as staffer to Tina Podlodowski the 'Microsoftie' who took over the effort after outspending and defeating neighborhood candidates. Neighborhood planning is being fastracked for exactly the same neighborhoods that have been the subject of HB 1490 - enthusiasm for the effort is lacking, as documented in this article. including outright opposition from the official neighborhood. Perhaps the history of Ms. Clark and her crew has something to do with this?

Continue reading "Legislating the Future - HB 1490" »

Stimulating Paul Allen

Wisely the Washington State Legislature refused to fund Seattle's Mercer street redesign through a neighborhood largely controlled by former Microsoft executive Paul Allen (and his professonial staff).

Why, why in the world should we be spending stimulus money 'bailing out' Paul Allen?

Continue reading "Stimulating Paul Allen" »

March 22, 2009

Special 'Retard' Olympics Soccer Match - Virtual Edition

New York City vs. Washington D.C.

Ten business days from now, April 5, Microsoft will be holding a virtual 'special' olympics on the servers of the MS network. (The 'real' event was originally founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver, Schwarnegger's Mother In Law, on the proposal of a Chicago Educator)

**Please note - ridicule of this particular brand of abusive degenerate is not only allowed, but encouraged. Boos will suffice, but if you have personally had your life endangered by these individuals all restraints are removed, per the US Constitution.

March 30, 2009

A Point of Disagreement with the Mainstream Media

Mainstream media has made a big point about protecting the recipients of corporate corruption in New York City, most notably in the AIG bonus matter claiming these were contractually 'legal'.

I'm sorry, but regardless of what a corporate lawyer tells you is legal you are still responsible for your actions. These folks **chose** to actively participate in a fraud and profited from it greatly.

These are not people to respect, nor do they deserve a penny of all of their ill-gotten gains. Via civil means it is time to move these people and their families into the homeless shelter as quickly as possible.

If they are in fact talented and not just sophisticated thugs they should have no problem working there way back to a comfortable lifestyle, if not, so be it. There are certainly families in homeless shelters right now for far less of a mistake.

These corporate practices have to end - using justifications of political correctness to cover scams is no more than puting a white sheet on a KKK member - accusing those who would hold you responsible of sexual harrassment IS a sex crime.

A Point of Disagreement with Bill Gates, Senior

Bill Gates Senior recently wrote an op-ed in favor of an income tax for upper bracket individuals and companies.

This is a good idea, but coming from Gates it is kind of like Al Capone making a $50,000 donation to M.A.D.D. Gates has profited greatly from government revenues through his former legal practice. I would go so far as to say Preston Gates and Ellis dominance in this field manifested itself as a typical abusive control freak - some of the worst of public/private interaction.

Thanks to their corrupt lobbying practices in D.C. through Jack Abramoff the firm has quietly dissolved. Some of the private practice folks split off to form Dorsey and Whitney, while the remainder were aquired by Pittsburg based K&L Gates, now one of the nation's largest firms.

The passive aggressive politically correct tools PGE used to manipulate bureaucracies at the worst were as poltically motivated and degenerate as Michael Nifong's prosecution of the Duke Lacrosse team in North Carolina. Worse, they've used their success as leverage to bring these practices into the private sector, along with others.

No connections to Enron have been established yet but their long time practice in privately owned utilities makes them suspect. Involvement in other matters is not even a question. What he and his did to the University of Washington as regent is sufficient justification for the faculty of that institution to string him up in self defense.

Another favorite of Mr. Gates senior is an inheiritance tax - kind of a way of bragging about the success of his son, in kind of a back hand way. Unfortunately the only legacy Mr. Gates will leave to his son is his sexually motivated abusive corruption, a son who made a very bad choice as to who to hire as legal counsel.

Right pop?

April 1, 2009

Very Smart Junior, but are you Human?

I take offense at the New York City financiers and Washington D.C. regulators who cooked up the ripoffs of millions of investors and employees being portrayed as the best and the brightest. The fact that they now seek to continue their illegal activities via a ponzi scheme against my generation on the US Treasury is more than outrageous.

These folks may well have graduated in the upper portions of their Ivy League classes, but they have chosen to apply their intelligence to enrich themselves not by improving the world buy by stealing from it.

Continue reading "Very Smart Junior, but are you Human?" »

The Current Marginal Value of Higher Education in our Economy

Let me play devil's advocate for a second here and take the position that more higher education is actually **bad** for our economy, at our current level of investment. Certainly we need higher education, but it is, by definition, for our best and brightest and not everyone will make the grade.

Although there is the occassional need for Manhattan project style efforts most advances are either made by individuals or small teams and, frankly, not everyone is up to that level of work nor do we need dedicate but a small portion of our population to these tasks. Better to recognize and reward these successes rather than muddle them with mediocrity and the undeserving

But I'll take it a step further than this.

Continue reading "The Current Marginal Value of Higher Education in our Economy" »

April 11, 2009

Corporate Bureaucrats - An Invasive Species?

I just finished the requirements for a 200 hour program in Native Plant Restoration here in Western Washington, a great idea for a citizen based program.

As rambling as this particular brain may be I've gotten to wondering, perhaps we should be looking at corporate America - public and private, as an 'invasive' weed.

Of course this is nothing but an analogy, but do consider the similarities. Both spread easily in 'disturbed' ground, both create monocultures where diversity, by some measure, disappears. Getting rid of them both are also similar, nothing to be done but yank em out by the roots, and repeat - while replacing with some more desirable 'organisms' along the way.

Certainly, it would be great to get rid of those folks who have built their career not contributing to the ecology, but by attacking it, by whatever means - and the plants too - whether it be public 'ground' or private 'ground'.

April 18, 2009

For your Consideration - A Light Rail oriented Transit Proposal for Tacoma/Pierce County

I must confess I was once a big transportation policy wonk - hopefully 15 years of abstinence have cured any weaknesses thereof. I have been getting active again over the last year and half here in Tacoma and hopefully can still indulge this obsession with a bit of prudence and productivity occassionally, as such, the following.

Proposed: A Sound Transit 2 Funded Expansion of Light Rail in Tacoma Integrating the Existing High Capacity Light Rail Corridor into the Currently Funded HOV Expansion of I-5 adding Bus service as per the same Design Specs as in the Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel.

Dome%20Transit.jpg

Click Here for the High Resolution PDF

Please note that although there is strong precedence for this approach including direct HOV access ramps, as at 320th in Federal Way, and strong general support for multi-modal systems I am not aware of any project that creates a direct HOV-Light Rail connection. Handling the seperation of car pools and HOT lane users from larger vehicles is not designed in this proposal, but is presumably resolvable with a minimum of risk.

June 9, 2009

Bernanke without Hanke

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, nominated to replace Allen Greenspan during the reign of Bush's Treasury chief, Hank Paulson, made historical precedent in a first ever broadcast interview on 60 Minutes Sunday night.

He hit his marks in his interview and did bring a calm reassuring message to the airwaves. I, for one though, am sceptical.

Perhaps his speechifying is nothing but a defensive move, a la Dick Cheney, someone definitely on the outs in D.C. and 'in' when it comes to media appearances.

To me the central point concerns accountability for bailing out certain firms - a point Bernanke did make - that folks should be held accountable, once the crisis is past.

We have yet to see that. Most tellingly Bernanke completely avoided the question of Hank Paulson and any mention of his firm Goldman Sachs, the Haliburton of the financial world.

Bernanke also restated the need to bail out firms that were 'too big to fail'. Quick action was needed, but breaking up mega firms is very often easy to do. Consider, for example, AIG. The arm that was involved in the sub-prime mortgage scams was completely different from the relatively healthy insurance operations - why not split those up?

It may well be the case that we are in for a short term recovery. I, for one, don't believe we've solved the problem, we've merely taking out yet another loan, this time on the US Treasury as opposed to our personal houses.

It all needs to be paid back, and the price of failure is still failure.

No one is above that law - the only question is how many innocent folks will pay in order to avoid the pain?

And, Mr. Bernanke, are you going to hold Hank Paulson accountable, or not?

Ralph Nader, Redux

Since the 2000 election Ralph Nader's name has most often been discussed in the context of scapegoat for the defeat of Al Gore in 2000. Besides being factually wrong it also merits a historical updating in the context of the current financial crisis.

Perhaps Mr. Rader was right about Corporate America and the Dems being culpable in its crimes?

I, for one, think so. FWIW, I also voted for Al Gore in 2000.

I was also active in the first Nader campaign in 1996 - twas actually the person got to formally nominate him at the 'convention' in Gas Works park for Washington State.

My politics have become more independent since then - pretty much coincident with beling much less involved in the current electoral system in any fashion.

Though these days I might disagree with Nader his is a voice that deserves to be heard.

Now would be a good time.

June 19, 2009

Sound Transit and Tacoma's Dome District

Jori Adkins, Jim Merritt, and Apex Engineering have done some great professional work creating a 'post and beam' alternative to the ill-conceived Sounder 'berm' crossing of the Dome District in Tacoma and put it up on a website.

This stands in sharp contrast to the City's current position, as I hear it, that you can't use the area under the Post and Beam for anything. In addition the Sound Transit plan violates the City of Tacoma's Comprehensive Plan on both initial trail planning and the new but promising 'habitat corridor' designation which is designed to work well in denser areas.

Sound Transit does have a plan for a pedestrian connection - at 'A' Street, but this is basically a connection to nowhere, unless there is a major redesign of I-5 in this area.

Berms have construction problems as well - greater utility relocation is a very common place for costs to escalate and building close to the berm has issues with that structures 'load' profile.

Perhaps the biggest problem with the Sound Transit design is aesthetics - they are taking a rural rail design and plopping it down through the 2nd largest urban center in Western Washington. Imagine, if you will, a 20-40 foot high 'mountain' of dirt running down the middle of the street by your office - with a trash collecting fence.

The arrogance of Sound Transit in responding to this professionally prepared alternative isn't too pretty either. Not to mention also fiscally irresponsible.

June 23, 2009

Foreclosure Update

If one reads between the lines on the barrage of media stories on a topic a very simple, evolving, story.

Perhaps the most important of these today is the foreclosure 'story' - many typical conservatives would have you believe that the whole financial crisis was the result of lower income households purchasing houses they couldn't afford via sub-prime programs that were completely legal and appropriate.


Continue reading "Foreclosure Update" »

June 28, 2009

My $.02 on Russell Financial

Russell Investments is considering a relocating its Headquarters as part of it's current planning processes - a big topic in the Pierce County media of late.

Seattle is a major suitor for Russell - and there is definitely a logic to it - Russell is an international company, and Seattle, an international City.

But Seattle is also a City marked by major financial scandal and a power structure that has not yet evolved away from that Corruption. Moving into the former WAMU HQ would be an apparent coup for Russell, but if you are bailing out the corrupt and, at least in part, acknowledging even a smidgeon of authority then is that good for anyone?

My $.02 for Russell - punt on this one, for now - turn down both the Seattle and Tacoma offers.

The global finance world is changing - most likely becoming much more decentralized as a response to the corruption in such centers as Seattle and New York City. Your location in Tacoma might turn out to be just about right - very near a large global powerhouse, but far enough way to remain, uh, honest.

When it comes to attacting business, whether it be a firm or a City - it is really only honesty and accountability that matters. Any other strategy will only bring the undesirable, of whatever stripe, and income.

My $2,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 on Health Care

Obama's health care reform effort is laudable - as well as revealing of the structure of power in this Country. Unfortunately due the fiscal crisis and the recent bailouts of right and left, there is no money to do this - or, at least, financially prudent political will.

My long term brainstorm, now to repeat, is somewhat similar to the Wyden/Bennett proposal now being revitalized. I suggest requiring medical coverage for all drug useage, including alcohol.

Specifically, require that to purchase drugs an individual must be have medical insurance - include with this MD review of purchase history. This might seem burdensome but with today's technologies and barcodes on drivers licenses it is just a software fix - with a license that's already supposed to be out in front of the store scanner anyway, right?

This also opens up the possiblity of using marijuana revenues to fund health care, along with a re-structured alcohol taxing system.

And, yes, that does mean I'm saying the pot heads could do a better job with health care than either the Republicans or the Democrats - presumably with a healthy portion of former pot heads in the mix.

For what it is worth, I also support legalization of psychedelics, including Ecstasy, LSD, and Peyote - though use of these should be highly restricted - maybe only once a year, give or take.

June 29, 2009

Convicted Financier Bernard Madoff and the Jewish Community

Perceptions of Bernard Madoff as a member of the Jewish Committee at this particular moment are interesting. Certainly there is anti-semitism, but there is also condemnation from within the Jewish world as well.

I did a google search on the subject, perhaps most interesting was a story in the Huffington Post from an outsider about Madoff's exclusively Jewish Club in Palm Beach, Florida (December, 2008)- a retirement area for many wealthy New Yorkers.( And, perhaps as an example of the divine hand at work, also home to many of Madoff's victims.

Here's the google for 'Bernard Madoff Jewish Community', for some of the rest.

July 26, 2009

The Curious Case of the "Stupid" Americans

By now the whole case of the arrest of Harvard African Studies Professor Henry Lois Gates should have blown over - if it even had ever risen at all to the level of national attention. But it has not, and this is telling. Most revealing was Harvard grad President Barack Obama initially calling arresting officer James Crowley "stupid".

As comedian and commentator Jon Stewart noted, perhaps it was Obama who was stupid - not to mention Prof. Gates himself.

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If this were simply a matter of reverse racism without effect it would be easy to let this pass - that would be as appropriate as the dropping of charges against Mr. Gates by the Cambridge officials.

This case is not about race, but about class in America, it is about the elites of America calling anyone who dares to hold them to account "stupid" racists.

The sad fact is that the people who run this Country are smiley faced abusive alcoholics, the only difference between themselves and the stereotypical abusive trailer trash is the price of their booze, and the rest of their lifestyles - to you, me, and every honest, accountable American, born and unborn.

One thing for darn sure, the Cambridge PD understands this problem - and hopefully are setting an example for **every** officer in every department in this Country.

August 5, 2009

More on the Dome District -
Tacoma/Pierce News Tribune

Peter Callaghan has a great piece on the Sound Transit Berm through the Dome District of Tacoma. Instead of repeating myself I'll leave it to Peter to put his spin on matter. See also the piece in the Tacoma Weekly.

August 19, 2009

The Bankruptcy Trusteeship of the Proletariat

From January 11, 2009:

Harsh Reality in the Age of Obama, #1

August 26, 2009

Seattle Biz Columnist Bill Virgin

Seattle Business columnist Bill Virgin has made the leap from the failed P-I to a series of contracts, including replacing Dan Voelpel at the Tacoma/Pierce News Tribune.

Bill is every bit Mr. Voelpel's equal, we should be very proud to have him. Who knows, he might even bring a few friends of his caliber with him.

For a measure of this, see his first article in the TNT.

August 28, 2009

Krugman on Borrowing

Paul Krugman has a timely NYT column on deficit spending, and how it **might** be okay. (If it works!)

Krugman's right on the debt numbers, but besides the additional political hazards he mentions there may be others.

1. The U.S. Housing market has not yet, definitively, found its bottom. Foreclosures resulting from the meltdown of a year ago are just now hitting the pipeline. Home equity loans have been a source of money that has been used to 'stimulate' the economy for quite awhile now - in a period when America's relative economic competiveness is declining. This a borrowed money is not on the government books, but it definitely does effect the overall financial 'credit rating' of the United States.

2. Subsidizing housing (and commercial property!) values with the deficit is a downward feedback loop. Spending deficit money to prop up the equity of property owners will not work, long term.

3. Who are we bailing out? If we pour good money after bad supporting the very people and practices that created the problem in the first place at the expense of honest blue collar America we are subject to a spectrum of problems, of which the least may be political.

September 3, 2009

Sarah, Sarah, Sarah

Though Ms. Palin was clearly, painfully, not ready to take over had President McCain passed away in office it is also clear that she sets a leadership example that all of us, D, R, and I should show respect.

Ms. Palin attacked the obvious corruption in her State, and in her Party quite effectively at a time before the current crisis of national corporate and government leadership. Viewed in this perspective the continuing righteous vitriol from the left, strongest from 'independent' women, takes on a different meaning. Are these vocal folks actually nothing more than the patsy retaliators for the man? For the alcohol drug addicted man who thinks anyone who asks for personal responsibility from them is a sex predator?

We need more Sarah Palins, lots and lots, and each in her own style, whether it be Democrat, Republican, or truly 'independent'. And, FWIW, who cares if they are qualified to be President or not?

The de facto Republican in the King County (Seattle and environs) Executive race, Susan Hutchison is running her race as a Sarah Palin. Her campaign is really just getting going after an easy cruise through the primary based on name recognition - but as of today it sure looks like we've got a Sarah Palin - **without** the predilection for tackling Washington State's not unrelated corruption,

Perhaps what we truly need right now is a Sarah Conner?

And, of course, Arnold?

September 13, 2009

9/11/2009 - Thinking globally, Thinking Locally

In economic theory positive thinking has been proved to be directly related to economic performance. Positive or negative expectations are self fulfilling, but not as some elected leaders would like to believe are they the only thing that matters.

So, on this 9/11, 2009, let's take a look at our mental economic twin towers - are they standing tall or collapsing in a pile of dust? What will it take for our perception of economic details to reset with reality?

Continue reading "9/11/2009 - Thinking globally, Thinking Locally" »

September 15, 2009

World Trade Center - Too Big to Fail?

September 11 should stay as a day of reflection on the operation of our financial markets. As such I wonder if the massive removal of senior Financial professionals due the World Trade center disaster was a factor in the collapse of the financial markets last year?

Could it be that professional integrity was so concentrated in the industry that a single disaster removed the ability for the profession to self-regulate itself, to keep it's 'penis' in its pants?

Could be, but who knows?

October 7, 2009

Tacoma Berm Bums?

Though it might seem like a minor point, the issue of the Sound Transit heavy rail route design through the south part of downtown Tacoma is becoming the defining issue of the 2009 mayoral race and having regional impacts as important as the defeat of Sound Transit Board Chair Greg Nickels in the Seattle mayoral primary.

The Tacoma Pierce News Tribune did a multi-article feature on the October 4 Sunday front page - including an online opinion poll. The poll is near the bottom of the middle column. As of the writing of this piece on Wednesday morning there have been 2900 votes, 85% in favor of the local business/citizen 'Post and Beam' alternative compared to the Sound Transit 'Berm' design.

Last night was the public hearing.

The crowd here was in support of post and beam in similar proportions, and the testimony and comments both well thought out and dramatic.


Continue reading "Tacoma Berm Bums?" »

October 14, 2009

Remembering when I was a Socialist

I am reminded of my first publication, a compilation of research on the subject of Socially Responsible Investment - on the heels of an administration occupying expansion of my alma mater's pioneering South African divestment.

The Hampshire College Report on Socially Responsible Investment

Ed. by Doug Tooley,

April 1983.

Preface
In 1976, Hampshire College bacame the first school in the country to divest from companies in South Africa. This opened the door for us to a much larger idea, that of using investments to reflect our ethics instead of those of the capitalistic ideology.

Continue reading "Remembering when I was a Socialist" »

November 3, 2009

Book Review
- Don't Follow Me, I'm Lost

Don't Follow Me I'm Lost

by Richard Rushfield

2009

At the height of the Reagan revolution author Richard Rushfield chose to attend the most prestigious radical institution of higher learning, Hampshire College. This book is his story, and the story of the allied group of artists, producers and marketers that was the Supreme Dicks. It was a coming of age in a moment of political and artistic zen, the time between punk and grunge in the musical world.

The Supreme Dicks were the sperm that fertilized the egg that would become the Universe of Nirvana, Sonic Youth, and Dinosaur Jr, and, as a side project, create the first X fueled raves.

In this book RR skewers the pinnacles of the corrupt and hypocritical NE establishment with humor blending Sean Penn in 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High' and Hunter S. Thompson. His words are filled with the freshness and perspective of a west coaster wandering free in the strict class society of the east coast.

Rushfield leaves the titans that used Hampshire College, and the Dicks, to forge the abusive corporate and political tool of Nifong political correctness sleeping under the bridge with recently released Priest pedophiles.

You however, will walk away laughing, with a buddha smile of enlightenment and individual empowerment that will carry you through whatever the bastards may throw your way.

Available at Amazon and other booksellers.

(A mea culpa: I was a friend of the group in its early days - I believe I was the one who started calling the civilian security force as a prank, a 'theme' that apparently persisted after my departure from the campus.)

November 5, 2009

Transportation Planning Districts - 2009

The City of Burien, an affordable suburb south of Seattle, resoundingly rejected a Transportation Planning District (TPD) for sidewalk and bike trail improvements. TPD's are a revenue mechanism drafted by the Washington legislature last year.

This is unfortunate, but also telling. Though some might respond with a knee jerk response to those who vote against taxes, it is crucial that the community planning effort be engaging enough to sell the product of the effort, as well as produce good design based on competent engineering. In this regard it is the planning effort that failed. So, it is back to the drawing board, and rightly so.

The measure may well have also suffered from the particular form of tax used, a surcharge on vehicle licensing ($25). This particular form of taxation has been highly politicized due its role in the career of highly controversial initiative guru Tim Eyman. The drafting of this enabling legislation was done on the heels of a failed Eyman initiative on the subject of transportation. This political context may well have been the largest factor in the defeat of the measure.

Though Burien does have some expensive waterfront homes it is largely a blue collar town and it appears likely that the 'democratic' bureaucracy made errors in the community planning effort which offended the common sense of these individuals - not unlike the political dynamic that led to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.

November 23, 2009

Procedural Comments on the Tacoma I5 Environmental Impact Statement

Below are procedural comments on the I5 Tacoma HOV project, including a description of my own interests.

***********************************************************************************************************

Date: August 29, 2009

To: Carrie Berry, Tacoma HOV Environmental Coordinator

CC: Claudia Cornish, Communications Manager

RE: Tacoma/Pierce County HOV Program Supplemental Environmental Assessment

The following comments go to procedural issues concerning your current Tacoma HOV environmental review. My substantive comments will follow shortly.

I have received and preliminarily reviewed the IJR report for the Tacoma HOV projects. I had assumed that a report describing the WSDOT analyses direct access HOV ramps for Freighthouse Square and Downtown Tacoma would be included, apparently incorrectly.

Additionally appendix ‘E’, the Wetland and Stream assessment is missing from both the distributed CD and the website for the NEPA assessment. Lastly, please note that although I have lay qualifications read the environmental appendices associated with this project there is too much material to reasonably review in the time allotted.

Continue reading "Procedural Comments on the Tacoma I5 Environmental Impact Statement" »

Comments on the Interstate 5 HOV Tacoma Project

Below are my comments on the NEPA (National Environmental Policy Act) review of the current Tacoma I5 project, from August.

*************************************************************************************************

To: Carrie Berry, Environmental Manager I-5 HOV Team

CC: Multiple

Re: Tacoma I-5 HOV NEPA Comments

Some 2 years ago I was walking my dog near my residence, less than 2 blocks from this WSDOT project’s stretch of I-5, and noticed the almost natural grading suitable for a bike trail on the recently completed I-5 projects just to the South. As such I was inspired to restart my civic involvement starting with the analysis of the feasibility of a local connector bike trail at the periphery of I-5 between S. 38th Street and McKinley Avenue.

Continue reading "Comments on the Interstate 5 HOV Tacoma Project" »

January 6, 2010

Amanda Knox - A Curious Case of Circumstantial Coincidence

Washington Senator Maria Cantwell, whom I usually like, has come out in support of Amanda Knox, convicted of murdering the mixed race Meredith Kircher in Perugia, Italy. Admittedly much of the evidence is circumstantial, but, nonetheless there is a dead body.

Curious how the University of Washington finds white males guilty of harassment **without** evidence, a policy and management attitude that would also facilitate arrogant female prima donnas that think they are above accountability. Just saying, Senator Cantwell - nothing more than circumstantial evidence, right?

Personally, I'm still wondering about the rapes by black football team members that were overlooked by the former black Dean of Students, Ernest Morris.

Just saying Ms. Cantwell, perhaps you should get your priorities in order?

February 14, 2010

Treason in the Judicial Branch and all Legal Practice?

There has been much said about the recent five vote Supreme Court decision equating corporations with persons - including accusing the Five Supremes who voted in favor of this decision of treason.

The Constitution sets explicitly high and narrow standards for this crime, noticeably different from English statute and common law. However, for evidence, the Constitution only requires two witnesses.

Continue reading "Treason in the Judicial Branch and all Legal Practice?" »

February 15, 2010

Slumburbia?

New York Times stringer and author Tim Egan (The Good Rain) opines in the New York Times on the steep decline of housing prices in the greater San Francisco 'sprawl' zone. Anecdotally Egan cites the case of Lathrop California, two hours from the Bay Area in the Central Valley. Housing prices there have dropped from a peak of $500,000 to $150,000.

This is an interesting phenomenon, certainly both worthy and timely. But where Egan takes his analysis of this tragedy is truly irresponsible.

First, he implies that the problem in Lathrop and surrounding communities is the model of foreclosure throughout the United States. Then, curiously, he defines such areas as slums in a typical Seattle passive aggressive manner.

Continue reading "Slumburbia?" »

February 23, 2010

Obama and the Tea Party

George Will made an interesting observation on the ABC news program 'This Week' claiming "1/5th of Tea Party folks voted for Obama and 1/3 express support". I quoted this on Facebook and was promptly informed that Will is known to pull statistics out of his ass. As such, I decided to research further. That Facebook friend may well be right, and an analysis of the motivation for the apparent fiction is disturbing.

Here's the clip:

(commenters on the video repeat that question about Will's numbers, but Wikipedia does not.)

Even if this 'analysis' is completely false I do think it is safe to say that Independent Voters, who tilted strongly for Obama in the election, have largely lost favor with Obama. This would include myself, and I am certainly NOT a Palin/Tancredo tea bagger.

Continue reading "Obama and the Tea Party" »

April 27, 2010

What's Up in Olympia

The 2010 Washington State Legislative session has wrapped up - with both the Governor and the Legislature curiously 'closing' government to observing eyes - the results of which are already obvious. These are trying times, but hiding from accountability solves nothing and makes many things worse.

To a larger point, what does this say about our Democratic Party, which controls the Governor's Office as well as both legislative houses?

Does it say this generation of leadership are hypocritical failures only concerned with their personal 'entitlements'? Does it say Christine Gregoire and her many associates in the practice of Law are nothing but Corporate lackeys for the right wing?

Certainly, in Washington State AND Washington D.C., there is the same amount of freedom for an individual under a corporate controlled government as their would be under the government alone - and perhaps even less!

May 27, 2010

The Bar and the Public, #2 - Tooley v. King County Prosecutor's Office, et al

Click through for the text of a Bar complaint against the King County (Seattle) Prosecutor's Office, received at the WSBA Office May 26th, at 10:25 A.M.

Continue reading "The Bar and the Public, #2 - Tooley v. King County Prosecutor's Office, et al" »

The Bar and The Public #1, Tooley v. US Attorney John McKay (2007)

In the Spring of 2007 my last 'regular' work, an independent contractor arrangement ended and I began exploring new career options as well as revisiting previous issues that led to the end of my first professional career.

Addressing many of these issues was a Washington State Bar complaint I filed against the disgraced Bush 2 US Attorney, John McKay, one of 8 nationwide in this well know incident. Though John McKay is an okay guy, I do believe that the Bush administration got this one right, probably coincidentally and the only one of the 8 to be so - for reasons more to do with Washington State legal practice rather than McKay's own character. (His brother Mike, the office holder under Bush 1, is a completely different story.)

Here's a link to the Press Release I issued - not all that long before I started this blog.

Download file

Whenever I get the chance I repeat the story about the assassinated Senior Attorney in that same office at the start of McKay's term, Thomas Wales.

June 6, 2010

What Motivates Us?

Dan Pink prepares a great summary about what really motivates the creative class. It leans to the left a bit, but bases that argument on an MIT study. Just my cup of Tea!

FWIW, the effect documented here may well be what it takes to end a recession. Certainly learning to be happy with zero dollars is not a bad thing.

August 8, 2010

Cascade Land Conservancy Shows its Cards?

The Seattle Times profiles fiscal moderates getting attacked in Snohomish County in today's Sunday paper, including the Cascade Land Conservancy lawyer Nick Harper challenging Jean Berkey.

With this year's early primary on August 17th, this weekend is perhaps most important timing wise, and this story follows only Patty Murray's likely first drubbing of Dino Rossi, in the estimation of the Times management.

What's the big deal about the Cascade Land Conservancy? Well, they are certainly fostering an **image** of being a progressive organization, but in the end their motives are clear - the capture of as much public as money as possible through political machinations and abuse.

August 21, 2010

Opportunity Missed?

Last Tuesday, 8/17/2010, was the Washington State Primary - a crucial decision point in this crime of economic crisis, but not apparently in Washington State which did not 'turn the bums out'.

Washington is a largely Democratic State, and this makes dubious the common wisdom that the National Democrats will lose power come this November when final decisions are totaled and meanings therein prognosticated. The simple fact is this, voters are aware that the Republican party is the responsible party and in spite of the 'socialist' democrats are far likely to be much healthier under them than under a draconian Republican administration attacking its citizens to pay for its own corporate failings.

In the context of this gestalt comes an interesting op-ed piece by Seattle Port Commissioner Jack Creighton - 'Don't Waste a Good Crisis for Considering Consolidation of Municipal Services'. That's a strategic argument that makes apparent sense, and one that I'm supportive of, but consider the Port's own recent actions in the 'gestalt' of corporate and government accountability - being shown to have wasted hundreds of millions of public monies in crony contracting benefiting that particular establishment headquartered in Downtown Seattle.

This is exactly the governmental and corporate 'entitlement' behavior that has created the situation we are in - an authority that is both corrupt and bankrupt, though as of yet only profiting from their own 'mistakes' in the calculation of risk - financial and otherwise.

As such a counter-proposal
- how about we 'consolidate' the management of Downtown Seattle with the Port, including the assumption of adult financial overrun responsibility for the currently proposed 'Big Dig' project through Downtown?


August 28, 2010

Proposed for your Consideration; A Draft Manifesto

Respect for difference of opinion is the foundation of the Constitution, and what is sorely missing in America these days.

Much of the freedom in historical America has been through having a Western Frontier which allowed for the practice of those values, even if they were violated regularly in the Eastern Cities, and pre-civil rights South.

Even though that freedom existed only for northern and western white males, it did exist and the progress it produced was real.

It is a sad historical fact that the fruit that was the civil rights movement of the 60's coincided with the partisan political divisiveness of the Vietnam War and the final days of the frontier in the west. That tragic coincidence continued through the end of the last chapter of the frontier, the completion of the the oil pipeline in Alaska in 1977 and the Corporatist takeover of the economy by Reagan 80's investment bankers and lawyers. (FWIW, the folks running our economy now were sniffing coke at Studio 54 and fostering an continuing alcohol dependency at the time.)

The key to the success of the Libertarian Party, and the future of America is more than just a good PR strategy to counter the likes of the Rachel Maddow attack on Rand Paul on his primary victory in Kentucky early this summer, on civil rights grounds - it is also the Parties ability to include the left - i.e. non-violent anarchists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anarchism_and_violence).

Consider this, what if the white male business America had embraced racial diversity without the need for a civil rights act in 1964?

Running to the government to protect your business is every bit as much an entitlement failure as the so-called 'welfare state'. The hard fact is that if you believe in the free market you **must** be okay with the fact that one of your employees will, one day, out compete you.

Relying on the Judicial Branch of government to create a barrier for your employees to compete by de facto creating a Corporatist Caste system in America contains every evil of Socialism, and more - witness today's America.

One thing this non-violent, limited government, Constitutional Anarchist believes in is the separation of powers among the branches - removing all 'officers of the court' from the legislative and executive branches of government, in as speedy a fashion as practical.

Since the 60's the left has evolved the law to deal with discriminatory abuse - this is a good thing, but misapplied under the direction of the courts. The cycle of abuse is a dangerous thing - in a 21st Century context the American Constitution is designed to prevent exactly that in its protections of individual rights.

There is nothing wrong with determining a persons economic value to society **in part** through governmental decree, including judicial findings of abusive behavior.

It is a true tragedy that it is the abused who becomes the abuser, and in a broader context this is what has happened in America, in the partisan employment spheres of the private right and the public left - under the control of our legal system.

And make no mistake, those individuals that make up our legal system are not victims tragically recreating a cycle, they are fully intelligent humans that have made a conscious choice to abuse via third party for their profit, and sexual control freak.

It is a fact of life that we are not all equal, for the Constitution, and America, to continue to evolve, survive, and succeed, we must do this on merit - and for no other reason.

There are many in right wing America that are using the economic situation they created in failing to realize the competitive economic global environment they operate in to create legions of new members to a financially disenfranchised class. The fact is that it is exactly these people, and these people only - who deserve a government determination of degeneracy - the worst of them no better than a homeless level 3 sex predator.

The word 'nigger' manifests a historical shame in America, never mind the attempts of those that have bought the Tea Party to re-instill racial politics. It is a word we should perhaps not let die - it is a hard fact of life that the human race does produce scum - we just need to make sure it is done justly.

And FWIW, our current legal system can't even manage it's own responsibilities, let along those of the other branches of government AND the entire corporatist economy.

The legal profession has created a monolith - that monolith is most certainly NOT comprised soley of scum, if though led by it. It is however bankrupt - with the responsibility lying along a continuation in direct reverse proportion to position.

There are those that would make it a crime in America today to be poor. But responsibility goes with authority, not the other way around, and if you aren't able to bear the same, you shouldn't be in the game.

Got a problem with that, Nigger?

October 19, 2010

Dr. Paul and the Racists

Dr. Ron Paul has his work cut out for him, attracting droves of the fanatic right wing. His mission here should be the same as it is with the rest of America, personal, individual, responsibility comes first.

Regardless of what the mainstream media tells you Dr. Paul is the real leader of the Tea Party, and one who is positively contributing to the civic dialogue. This October 9 speech to the Virginia Tea Party aptly demonstrates this.

The Ultimate Safety Net

Don't forget, the safety net of last resort is not the government, it is yourself.

November 22, 2010

Corporate, REPUBLICAN, Socialism?

In what now appears to be prophetic Ralph Nader penned a piece defining 'Corporate Socialism'. The article was originally published in 2002 in the Washington Post.

Here's an excerpt; point number one:

Consider the following assumptions of a capitalistic system:

1) Owners are supposed to control what they own. For a century, big business has split ownership (shareholders) from control, which is in the hands of the officers of the corporation and its rubber-stamp board of directors. Investors have been disenfranchised and told to sell their shares if they don't like the way management is running their business. Nowadays, with crooked accounting, inflated profits and self-dealing, it has proven difficult for even large investors to know the truth about their officious managers.

Here's the full text.

I was an active member of the Nader Campaign in 1996, about the same time as the more conservative local Seattle Commons issue - which some perceived as politically inconsistent. I would beg to disagree - and would hope that the best of the right and left would agree with above, and only the worst, disagree.

Ranger Shooting in Grand County, Utah

The shooting of a State Ranger in Grand County, Utah, last Friday night is a tragedy, but having just left Grand County on Wednesday let me add a bit more depth to the story.

Just the Friday night before I was camped in the Kane Creek Springs area near the San Juan County line and was mildly harassed, by a couple of 'rangers' - jurisdiction as yet unknown. It was at almost exactly ten p.m. and the first of two official vehicles made it a point of stopping on a curve at the main road with his lights pointed directly at me, just as I was exiting (somewhat awkardly, half-dressed and half-awake) to pee.

Continue reading "Ranger Shooting in Grand County, Utah" »

January 13, 2011

Target: Sarah Palin

As a lefty independent I was once a fan of Sarah Palin. Her opposition to oil corruption in nearby Alaska - especially in opposition to the old school machine boy Senator Stevens impressed, as did her appointment by John McCain.

Even recently I'd give her props for the above, but I can no longer do so.

Continue reading "Target: Sarah Palin" »

February 1, 2011

Economic **Un** Pundit

I'm going to make a positive economic forecast.

If you've been a regular reader of this modest blog you'll have noticed a strong economic awareness and context for pretty much everything I do - including I believe foreshadowing the 2008 crisis not long after I started this endeavor.

No numbers on this, just my own particular call.

However, the fundamental problems remain and even a modest recovery will not address the fundamental "failures' of corporate America. The question is not the ability of these organizations to revitalize America, but of Americans to do as they always have before.

February 8, 2011

Is Citizenship an Intellectual Property Right?

Having lived in Washington State for the past 25 years I've witnessed, from a distance, the emerging field of intellectual property rights law. (Curiously, this was coincident with the emergence of family law and the rise of women in the profession of legal practice.)

One particular critique I have of legal practice in this State is that the profession itself has taken control over the constitutional property rights of its citizenry, providing them and withholding them as it sees fit.

Continue reading "Is Citizenship an Intellectual Property Right?" »

'Socialism', Law and the "Span of Economic Control"

Do the public own the practice of the law or do they own us, our jobs, our families, and our individual souls? 'Span of Control'; analyzing who really controls what is a good tool to analyze this.

It is a rather curious fact that 'Law and Order' Republicans rely so much on court records to determine wages, all the more so in this intellectual information age. Is this socialism?

Continue reading "'Socialism', Law and the "Span of Economic Control"" »

February 17, 2011

A Few More Thoughts about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'

In a recent post analyzing some of the curious sexual politics behind the recent repeal of Ronald Reagan's policy of homosexual discrimination I touched on the desirability of avoiding all sexual politics in every workplace. Doing this would actually be the outcome of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' if it were literally enforced, and not merely a media spun euphemism for discrimination also attributed to Bill Clinton.

Consider, if you will, the sexual politics of those Clinton years - where the right wing disrupted the government and nearly overthrew it with nothing more than gossip about consensual sex - under the leadership of Southern History Professor Newt Gingrich as a newly anointed Speaker of the House.l

Continue reading "A Few More Thoughts about 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'" »

February 22, 2011

Alaskan Way Viaduct
-Before the Growth Management Hearings Board of Washington State

Below the jump is a 'Petition For Review (PFR) to the Growth Management Hearings Board concerning the ramifications and processes of the Alaskan Way Viaduct.

The jurisdiction of this PFR extends the envelope of practice before the board, consistent with the law and appropriate to the circumstances. These circumstances include the alleged victimization of the petitioner by King County, its Courts and officers (public and private) and the State of Washington as an inappropriate growth management practice. As such, State Courts massive jurisdictional problems over the matters at hand.

Please note that petitioners academic, civic, and professional experience in these subjects is substantial, likely in a preponderance of measures exceeding that of Board members in depth and seniority. Board members Paegler and Earling have direct familiarity with this history and petitioner in fact ‘trained’ them in some regards during the professional emergence of Growth Management.

Lastly please note that there are substantive and procedural matters regarding this case that must remain confidential to the Board and Respondents.

Continue reading "Alaskan Way Viaduct
-Before the Growth Management Hearings Board of Washington State" »

March 1, 2011

'Civil' Government?
- Tacoma Weekly

A piece on civility in government, which doesn't match the reality. Curiously this particular bastion of free speech thinks I might be a robot.

My rejected comments are below the jump.

Continue reading "'Civil' Government?
- Tacoma Weekly" »

March 7, 2011

Memo to King County Superior Court (Seattle) re: Prosecutor Dan Satterberg

Here's the memo:

Download file

Besides the Judges of the Seattle Superior Court, listed below the jump, concurrent conformed copies were delivered to the Office of the King County Executive, the Seattle City Attorney, U.S. District Court, Seattle, and members of the King County Council.

Continue reading "Memo to King County Superior Court (Seattle) re: Prosecutor Dan Satterberg" »

March 12, 2011

Legal **In**Consistentcy?

Come with me a second as I 'dig' a little deeper into Seattle politics.

Consider the recent wrangling over the need for a completed Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) before starting the construction on the mega-project Downtown Seattle Tunnel, replacing the earthquake vulnerable waterfront viaduct. In that battle the Seattle Council is pushing the project prior to the completion of normal public procedure, including

Then consider this piece, concerning the EIS for a permanent, self-managed, homeless encampment in the industrial area just south of downtown. In this issue the Council is taking the position that an EIS is needed - the only legal difference that I can see is that the Seattle Council thinks some people are above the law and others below it - something I personally don't see.

As. thankfully, does not Councilmember Licata, making this vote now 7-2.

Now, for an even 'bigger' dig!

April 7, 2011

The Law and Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct

The replacement of the Alaskan Way Viaduct is turning out to be as much a legacy project for its legal precedents as it is for whatever civic edifice rises in its place - major issues so far include the State's ability to ignore environmental law before issuing contracts and contrary to public vote and the separate 'lead' authority of the Council and Mayor in that context.

This Seattle Times article concerns a third player rising to 'lead' status - the Seattle City Attorney, Pete Holmes, who has now filed suit on behalf of the City without explicit authorization from either the Mayor or the Council.


Continue reading "The Law and Seattle's Alaskan Way Viaduct" »

April 17, 2011

An Open Letter to Interim Hampshire College President Marlene Gerber Fried and Board of Trustees Chair Sigmund Roos

25 years ago today marks the closed circuit tv suicide of Andrew Hermann, protesting the overly aggressive political correctness that was somehow also supposed to bring the school back to the mainstream of the Reagan era - as perhaps best documented in Richard Rushfield's book 'Don't Follow me I'm Lost'.

But is attacking young white males on the pretext of battling 'patriarchy' really politically correct feminism? Or is it really spoiled rotten white women providing scapegoats to the real crimes of old, white male abusers?

Continue reading "An Open Letter to Interim Hampshire College President Marlene Gerber Fried and Board of Trustees Chair Sigmund Roos" »

June 15, 2011

Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin

I've had four 'anti-harassment' restraining orders placed against me, the first two by State of Washington employees retaliating against fully lawful and 'respectful' accountability complaints. The first of these was in 1989, no long after the first of these laws were passed.

Below the jump is my response to the last of these, in 2010, a complaint filed with the Commission on Judicial Conduct another such lawless retaliatory accusation coordinated by the Cascade Land Conservancy.

The biggest point of law is the inappropriateness of assigning 'malicious intent' via a civil process, by common law precedent a very difficult thing to do and made too easy through these otherwise appropriate legal reforms. Applying these statutes to constitutionally protected free speech is of course statutorily exempted and the practice of ignoring such law shameful, conspiratorial, extortionary, and criminal.

Most evil in these practices is the way they have been used to take control of land use and transportation planning, and, increasingly, private business via these abusive practices. Many of these practices have arisen in the social service legal ranks, most notably the large number of Attorneys hired by current Governor Christine Gregoire during her tenure as Attorney General. There is an evident, and unfortunate, legal practice of treating some as second class 'trash' before the law in unwritten practice that is neither criminal nor civil in nature. It is the case that many social service clients have been inappropriately subject to these stigma, and worse. But reinventing the cycle of abuse for political and financial control is a whole level of predatory behavior that exceeds that of even a level 3 sexual predator.

There is precedent for standing against this politically convenient abuse, the Duke LaCrosse Player case as handled by the Prosecutor Michael NiFong.

But the situation in Washington State is much worse. It appears, in fact, that this technique has been politically successful, and has also made major inroads into many larger corporate businesses in the state, not just academia, government, and non-profits.

It is sadly ironic and illustrative that many so-called feminists have become 'hate whores' for the man allowing their once righteous concerns to be misdirected and manipulated unto the next generation of younger white males.

Continue reading "Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin" »

June 30, 2011

Washington State Needs Brian Sonntag

"If you speak the truth, have one foot in the stirrup"

(Curiously this quote is claimed by a variety of cultures, including Romania, Ireland, Arabic, Turkish, and Armenian - all making the first page of a Google Search, plus also John Wayne!)

Brian Sonntag, the Washington State elected Auditor, fiscally responsible Democrat, and open government advocate has previously announced he will announce his decision to run for Governor by July 4th, this weekend. Already running and evidently anointed by their respective parties are Democratic Congressman Jay Inslee and Republican Attorney General Rob McKenna.

Inslee's liberal party insider support makes Brian Sonntag's potential candidacy, to some degree, a de facto third party effort, no doubt a factor in that decision he is now finalizing. The importance of this decision, at this time, could not be undervalued - America is on the brink of a double dip depression that will challenge the future of not just Washington State, but the Country as a whole. Washington has the opportunity to lead this Country in responding this crisis at the risk of 'reinventing' the FAILED power dynamics that have brought us to where we are now.

Continue reading "Washington State Needs Brian Sonntag" »

September 4, 2011

How 'Healthy' is the legal Profession?

I've recently started reading the Columbian editorial page - at least on subjects that hit my google alerts. Here is a great one, on the recent battle between Gregoire and McKenna on the subject of health insurance

Consider also recent legal opinions which give the Seattle Legislative Body the ability to override Executive order AND avoid accountability to the fiscal accountability requirements of the STATE legislative body.

Me thinks Mr. McKenna has a few more things to accomplish as AG regarding the sorry state of health Ms. Gregoire left the profession in, before he asks us for a promotion..

September 27, 2011

Tooley v. Cascade Land Conservancy, et seq

Click through for the complaint, filed in Pierce Superior Court, September 13.

Continue reading "Tooley v. Cascade Land Conservancy, et seq" »

Demand for the Resignation of Washington Governor Christine Gregoire

Are you capable of stopping yourself Governor Gregoire? That is, of course, self-governance in the personal, and corporate, sense.

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(Click image to see full size)

October 6, 2011

Law and Philosophy, #3

"For as a citizen who violates the Civil Law for the sake of present utility, destroys that institution in which the perpetual utility of himself and his posterity is bound up; so too a people which violates the Laws of Nature and nations, beats down the bulwark of its own tranquility for future time...."

Hugo Grotius (one generation after Martin Luther), The Law of War and Peace (1625) addressing the subject of lawful relations of the emerging nation states.

In Memoriam to Steve Jobs

In memoriam to Steve Jobs, a never aired TV Commercial, from 1997.

I am also reminded of Apple's vivid '1984' SuperBowl ad, not all that long before his ouster as CEO in 1985, during the Reagan Wall Street era. Perhaps coincidentally, this was not all that long before the collapse of the Massachusetts High Tech industry, circa Dukakis, running to replace Reagan.

I used Apple products as an undergraduate studying in Mass in the early 1980's, so I am very much a product of his era, and genius. The Macintosh, the first graphical computer, was perhaps the biggest foreshadow of his future successes, including at Pixar, during his hiatus from Apple.

November 28, 2011

Utah and the Feds

Never mind Mitt Romney's strong bid for the Republican party's nomination to be the next U.S. President, but do consider these three court cases between Utah and the Federal Government.

Perhaps symbolically most important is a case regarding public access to Federal Lands - of which there is an awful lot in Utah. I've touched on this issue in another area of the State, but not far away.

With greater business implications, but also symbolically revealing of corporate business practices in America today, consider the Utah based anti-trust lawsuit against Microsoft, for the benefit of the Utah based Novell, once the leader in word processing (Word Perfect) and computer networking.

Lastly, there is a Federal action against Utah for its current immigration law.

As you might recall, I'm having my own battle with the Federal Government over the abusive handling of a camping ticket in SW Colorado, less than an hours drive from that State, and perhaps the heart of the Four Corners region.

Occupy Access to America's Public Resources and PROSECUTE THOSE THAT TRASH OR PREVENT THEIR USE!

December 19, 2011

UPDATE: Alaskan Way Viaduct Growth Management Act Challenge

My somewhat Quixotic battle against the Gregoire power machine continues with my very symbolic Growth Management Act challenge of the Alaskan Way Viaduct Replacement Project.

Two key issues which go to the edge of the Growth Management Hearing Board's authority concern the financial aspects of the Comprehensive planning. RCW 36.70a.120 concerns internal financial requirements. Perhaps even more important for the future of Growth Management is the regional coordination requirements, including fair financial dealings, as in RCW 36.70.100.

As you will recall, the State Legislature required the City of Seattle to cover any cost overruns. Numerous legal authorities have said this is unenforceable, including Rob McKenna and former King County Prosecutor Sally Bagshaw who infamously stated that "virtually every Attorney in Seattle" concurred. I argue, Pro Se, the contrary, extending the Growth Management Act to the full (and appropriate) limits of its authority.

Here's the original petition:

There were some interim pleadings, refining issues and the like that I believe are safe to omit. The Central Puget Sound GMHB's final response was in a PDF:

Download PDF File

Follow the jump to see my response, a 'MOTION FOR RECONSIDERATION'.

Continue reading "UPDATE: Alaskan Way Viaduct Growth Management Act Challenge" »

December 29, 2011

Is Ron Paul anti-gay?

Now leading the Republican pack in Iowa Ron Paul has become the focus of media scrutiny, most of which is focused on whether his anti-government approach equates to racism. Alex Jones summarizes these efforts nicely, and I, personally, am reminded of the Gingrich attacks against Bill Clinton in the 1990's.

As always attempting to stay one step ahead of the media machine Motley Tools asks, is Ron Paul anti-gay?

For the full story on this Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat) moment in the movie Bruno, see the full story here.

Seriously, I do believe this is an important subject for debate - and personally, I do believe that we need government involved in establishing basic protections such as in 'civil unions' - for everyone. Marriage should go further than these basic protections, but that is up to the couple themselves, and any church they choose, or choose not, to associate with...

Occupy Eric Holder, #3

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Occupy Portland is establishing itself as one of the smartest, and effective, mass 'occupy' movements - take note of their protest strategy, as many others have done, including with over 15,000 shares on FaceBook. The basic idea here is not one of resistance, but of a fluid response - appropriate for this rain soaked pinnacle of Pacific Northwest ecological urbanism.

And this fluid 'Occupy' response is now going exactly where it should, to the Courts.

After all, we are constitutionally guaranteed recourse against our government, no?

April 30, 2012

Rocky Mountain Roundtable, 2012

Utah Governor Gary Herbert hosted a 'Rocky Mountain Roundtable' with Governor Otter of Idaho and Mead of Wyoming, all Republicans, last Friday April 27. Designed to loosely build political support for Utah challenges of Federal regulations and land ownership the event was more of an extended free form press conference than anything, and in that, it succeeded.

Personally, I think there is a non-partisan balance point on Western Federal land issues, but it will be difficult to reach.

June 29, 2012

All Roads Lead to Healthcare: John Roberts and Obamacare...
'Socialism', Business risk, and the Rightful Role of Legal Practice

There are those that are saying Chief Justice John Roberts decision was really a duplicitous conservative strategy - defeating the liberal legal commerce clause argument and galvanizing political support in opposition to Obama, but I disagree.

Continue reading "All Roads Lead to Healthcare: John Roberts and Obamacare...
'Socialism', Business risk, and the Rightful Role of Legal Practice" »

August 17, 2012

Back to School with Julian Assange
An Open Letter to Swedish Studies Professor Christine Ingebritsen

In a curious case the husband of University of Washington Swedish Studies Christine Ingebritsen prosecuted me, in 1994, in a case of striking political similarity to that of the current Julian Assange controversy. I was an employee of the same County at the time as the Prosecutor, involved, through my studies as a graduate student at the UW, in the distribution of government records as part of a neighborhood education effort.

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Former Prosecutor Jim Rogers, now a King County Superior Court Judge (Seattle, Washington) and his wife, UW Jackson School Professor of Swedish Studies Christine Ingebritsen.

After many years of consideration, I've corresponded with Professor Ingebritsen about this conspiracy of abusive sexual politics, of which she is, possibly, an unwitting party. The letter is after the jump.

Continue reading "Back to School with Julian Assange
An Open Letter to Swedish Studies Professor Christine Ingebritsen" »

August 29, 2012

Secrets of Our Republican Corporate Masters, Revealed

The leadership 'strategy' of the Republican corporate elite is much simpler than you might imagine, simply put all they do is send their Democratic abusers on anyone, including independents like moi, who does not toe their political line.

In such a case, you have two choices - either hate the Democrats and start toeing the Republican Party line OR become one of their abused Democratic Pit Bulls. Doing otherwise only guarantees you a spot in America's corporate concentration camp, the streets of our big cities.

The cycle of abuse, racial and sexual, is a dangerous thing and our Corporate masters have pandered to the degenerate in order to divide and conquer. Though they think they are building a military industrial **empire**, they are, in fact, nothing but "Uber-Perverts" and the font of evil in today's modern world. Not just failures, but f***ing failures.

Christian religion is based on Jewish attempts to fulfill an ancient prophesy, that a 'Son of David' would defeat the Roman Empire. It is time for the Christians to stop being hypocritical spinners and get that job done. FWIW, as far as I'm concerned, I'd be okay with crucifying the lot of them, from 'Herrod' on down. And it shouldn't be all that hard - though our military is by far the toughest in the world the domestic arm of the machine is really nothing but pitiful and disgusting.

September 6, 2012

The Role of Wildlife in Liberal Education

Aldo Leopold is known as a father of conservation and the then emerging field of ecology. His most famous work is 'Sand County Almanac' where he more fully articulates the principles below.

It was written in 1942, upon the end of the great depression and the cusp of World War II, not to mention the dustbowl land destroying years at the peak of Mr. Leopold's development.

Continue reading "The Role of Wildlife in Liberal Education" »

March 13, 2013

Press Release Concerning my 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Case

As some of you may recall I currently have a self-represented appeal of a camping ticket I received in SW Colorado, during June of 2010. That case is now before the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. I've recently put out a Press Release, click through for the text.

UPDATE: A decision was issued March 20, unfavorable - the 10th Circuit continuing to refuse to answer to my arguments, nor to take responsibility for the consequences of the lower court's failure. Here's the Court's decision: 10th Circuit Decision on Camping Ticket

Continue reading "Press Release Concerning my 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Case" »

March 26, 2013

THE MEXICAN DRUG WAR
A US 'Counter-Insurgency' against the American People?
A Crazy Allegation, Which Just Might be Right

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Like war in the Middle East, southern border violence has permeated the otherwise satiated and obese American mind. We have been presented a consistent set of perspectives, but is it really the truth?

Among the educated and still thinking citizenry criticism of American actions in the Middle East is well known, such as the moral hypocrisy of the state of Israel. Once the victims of a genocidal holocaust Israel has become the perpetrators of an identical atrocity against the Palestinian people.

In a recently released video the BBC's Arabic Desk, in conjunction with the Guardian website, details the counter-insurgency tactics of the US in Iraq. BBC and the Guardian allege a divide and conquer effort utilizing Shia militias to battle Sunni resistors, utilizing specialized strategies and personnel developed in El Salvador and Vietnam, including the infamous 'Death Squads'

My question for you: Is the American Military, and whomever actually controls it, is engaging in an ongoing relationship with the Drug Cartels of Mexico creating a holocaust zone of genocidal death on both sides of the US border?

Continue reading "THE MEXICAN DRUG WAR
A US 'Counter-Insurgency' against the American People?
A Crazy Allegation, Which Just Might be Right" »

March 27, 2013

Aztec Arches
The Eight Trails of Octopus Arch, Trail #1

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This is a work in progress in the Aztec Arches area of northern New Mexico, just south of Durango, Colorado. My Indian Caves trail is the first of these. Both of these trails are of more regional interest as opposed to the internationally known spans of Natural Bridges or Arches national monuments.

These trails do make an important point about BLM land use which appears ignorant of the variety of quality on their public properties - all too often the property is managed exclusively for resource extraction or over-protective wilderness, when much of their property would be managed with a mix of these goals, like the National Wild, Scenic, and Recreational river program.

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Follow the jump for a description and a few more pictures.

Continue reading "Aztec Arches
The Eight Trails of Octopus Arch, Trail #1" »

April 22, 2013

ON THE ROAD WEATHER REPORT: Moab, Utah

Breaking from a week plus of frequent rain, a glorious sunset over the slick-rock, transitioning to a waxing crescent moon peeking silver through sublime cumulus over glimmering pale Navajo sandstone.

Local conditions at the Behind the Rocks area just south of Moab: predominately motorized use, though mountain bikers and hikers are still present. Thanks to the addition of designated campsites on Utah State land chalk this area as a victory for the off-road crowd, but one also still suitable for non-motorized use, especially mid-week or off-peak. Some divisive 'redneck' attitudes were present among these users, but no worse than I've witnessed from mountain bikers, as of late. Sub-surface passive aggressiveness present, but was either challenge-able through conversation and/or other members of the party.

In the growing, popular Moab this is an area to focus more intensive use upon - improving some of the main access roads which would make hiking in the adjoining areas easier, likely also is additional space for more motorcycle/ATV/Jeep Trails. All in all has the potential to be a first class example of multiple use management.

Also, the near term forecast for wildflowers is excellent.

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A Tip of the Hat to Timothy DeChristopher

Congratulations to Utah Gas Lease activist Timothy DeChristopher on his release from Federal Prison, and on the documentary about the Story - including the jury precluded facts that the sale was in fact illegal AND that supporters of his actually came up with the money to fulfill the financial obligation. Below is the Amy Goodman interview on Democracy Now.

May 6, 2013

Bill Gates, On Education

TED, and PBS, have chosen Bill Gates as their lead speaker in the premiere of the video broadcast version of the iconic Technology, Education, and Design lecture series.

Having Bill Gates talk about education is like having Ted Bundy talk about women's rights, the prognosticators only revealing the core of their evil. Education for Bill Gates is like his company, not meant to empower creative individuals but to build monoliths of bureaucratic automatons.

Continue reading "Bill Gates, On Education" »

January 23, 2014

2014 SuperBOWL Broadcast Pronounciation Guide

The coincidence of Seattle and Denver appearing against each other on the 'kickoff' of historic Marijuana legalization in both of their respective home States has led to many a comment in today's social media universe. Such comments, tongue in cheek among friends, are fun - even if they are at the level of a Cheech and Chong bit - but not appropriate for broadcast TV and Radio.

Yet, still, the historical significance of this coincidence is the top piece of 'color' commentary for the entire mega-event.

As such, a suggestion - place an emphasis on the word 'BOWL' (as in smoke a bowl....) to whatever degree, style, and context you wish. Those in the know will catch your nuance, and those who might be offended will most likely miss the reference.

Here's to a great event, great coverage, and a great 2014!

November 3, 2014

For the Racists - The Historical Definition of the 50% Obama FAILURE

President Barack Obama, like every person and every corporate person/government hybrid was not 'too big to fail'. Like all of Washington D.C. and its lobbyist represented corporate collaborators he, at best, did in fact fail.

Still, as the first partially black president he has much to be proud of, even if he did reduce the civil rights of his constituency and the world more so than he advanced those of african descent.

Although many who will help to realize this failure are quite racist the ironic fact is that Obama's failures do not stem from his black half, they come from his white half. Frankly, and rhetorically, his failure comes from his white female 'Hilary' half.

November 4, 2014

A crack in the wall of the 'Uber DV' of post 2008 American Policing

Having been motivated to follow the recent coverage of the La Plata County Sheriff race I am surprised at the lack of outrage of the threatening behavior of current Sheriff Duke Schirard in his efforts to combat Domestic Violence allegations. These threats are to our Republic’s institutions as domestic violence is to a family.

Personally, I believe this abusive governmental authority, under color of State Law, to be the very root of the cycle of abuse – abuse whose very worst example is the crucifixion of Jesus Christ under Judeo-Roman law two millennia ago. Call it ‘uber DV’, if you will.

Continue reading "A crack in the wall of the 'Uber DV' of post 2008 American Policing" »

December 11, 2014

University of VIRGINia @ Ferguson

Recent developments in the University of Virginia http:// http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/education/u-va-fraternity-to-rebut-claims-of-gang-rape-in-rolling-stone/2014/12/05/5fa5f7d2-7c91-11e4-84d4-7c896b90abdc_story.html?postshare=221417802737104rape story are very disturbing.

Perhaps most disturbing is http:// http://www.npr.org/2014/12/08/369402100/fallout-from-rolling-stone-story-changes-conversation-at-uva NPR's coverage, lead by the 'tag-team' of Audie Cornish and Jennifer Ludden which, upon the discovery of these facts decry not the false allegations, but on continuing unsubstantiated hate mongering about college rape.

As they say, rape is not about sex, but about power, control, and violence. I submit, dear reader, an alternative theory for this case - the 'rapists' in this case are NPR, Rolling Stone, and the Hillary white female lawyer establishment, including Obama's DOJ.

Certainly, the blacks of Ferguson, MO are being, in this sense, raped by their police force. Perhaps this has even been a core element of 'policing' under Judeo-Roman law ever since Christ?

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