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green Power - smart environmentally oriented biz Archives

January 9, 1984


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.

View image

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'.

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.

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.

April 9, 1997

Published Photo

Published photo from the Seattle Press.

Paul West, the subject, was one of the great 'tree people' employed by the City of Seattle. Other's would include Tree Steward Coordinator Liz Ellis and City Arborist Jerry Clark. All 3 are pretty darn close to my top ranked City employees.


November 14, 2007

'Muir of the Mountains' by William O. Douglas

The prolific William O. Douglas is best known as the longest serving Supreme Court Justice. He was promoted from a leadership role in the new SEC, serving from 1939 through the resignation of Nixon(1975). Though a champion of the poor and an opponent of big business he is perhaps secondly best known as a wilderness conservationist.

In a famous dissenting opinion, 1972's Sierra Club v. Morton, Douglas once argued that trees had every much a bit a right to sue as any corporation. I hiked the area in question as a pre-teen boy scout, the Southern Sierra's Mineral King, within five years of that decision. I don't know the details, but I gather, dissenting opinion not withstanding, the Sierra Club did prevail.

Douglas was a fan of the Sierra Club - in 1961 he wrote a children's biography book entitled 'Muir of the Mountains' - a co-founder of the club. (Muir was from the same generation of conservationists as Teddy Roosevelt.) The book, suitable for pre-teens (give or take, I'm not an educator) chronicles the life of one of California's legendary characters and his dedication to wilderness conservation.

Although Lawyers, as a rule, are not necessarily the most creative of scriblers, the string of reasoning throughout Douglas's endeavors is one worthy of following. And this book is certainly a much better 'cookie' to place on the path of a youngster than those left by Hansel and Gretel.

The book was re-published in 1993 by the Sierra Club. It is currently out of print, but available from Amazon, used.

'Nature's Justice' edited by James O'Fallon

I'm not a William O. Douglas scholar, so I can't really compare this book to others regarding or by this influential, Washington State born, American.

However I did find this particular collection of well introduced writings both entertaining and educational. O'Fallon takes a broad selection of his writing ranging from commentaries on the fly fishing advice of Izaak Walton to Supreme Court opinions regarding civil rights in the 1960's. His stories of growing up in the NW are also worthwhile.

Douglas was not without flaws - you could say he epitomized the cliche 'Soviet State of Washington'. You could also say he was a womanizer and I'd bet drink had an influence on his life. But he was very definitely very much a man of his times and his influence is still with us today.

Mr. O'Fallon is with the University of Oregon Law School, recognized as one of the nation's best on the subject of Environmental Law. I highly recommend this book, as well as the near Seattle William O. Douglas Wilderness.

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

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 26, 2007

Northwest Trek Animal Park

Northwest Trek Animal Park

Eatonville, Washington

Getting to NW Trek is a slog, driving down 161 via Puyallup's South Hill is like driving Aurora from Shoreline to Sea-Tac. But it is worth it, all the more so if you plan to visit the Paradise side of Rainier.

I was there for the first time Christmas Eve with 3 Nephews. This is supposedly a great time to visit as the leaves are off the trees making visibility better - antlers are also still to drop though that won't be long. New to the Park are several Moose, and according to the guide we were the first to see them - on our dusk drive, starting at 3:00.

Unlike normal zoos the park specializes in NW critters - which makes the whole native habitat attempt work very well. The park puts the most publicity on its tram, but the predator displays are just as good. There are cages, but they are very well done - we saw virtually every species, save the Foxes, including both Grizzly and Black Bear. The smart use of water and electrical barriers bring the critters closer than you would think safe, and the covers at each area make a rainy day visit quite enjoyable for an acclimatized local.

I learned a new word on this visit -'kerpuscular" (sp?) - which means an animal that is active only at dawn and dusk. The last tram of the day, 3:00, may well be the best, in that regard.

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

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.

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 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.

'Decline of the Pacific Madrone'

Decline of the Pacific Madrone

From a conference at the Center for Urban Horticulture (UW)
Edited by A.B. Adams and Clement Hamilton


Unfortunately the Center for Urban Horticulture is best known as the victim of an alleged eco-tourist attack (never rule out some smart counter-terrorism on these sorts of things). It should be best known as the agricultural extension agent for 21st century environmentalism. Their staff is very helpful on questions relating to the health of the urban environment - for everyone from the most sanguine and connected landscape professional to the lay home owner with an avocational expertise.

Like it's publisher this book may also have more presence negatively than that positively earned. It is true that Madrones have suffered some locally - but this book investigates that question to positive result. Madrones,(related to Rhododendrons) are beautiful, unique, and native can be successfully planted.

In fact it is quite possible that the sick trees seen are soley the side effect of making them visible. When a stand is revealed by the construction of a nearby road roots can be disturbed, something the trees are sensitive to (they also don't transplant well from the wild, once established). In addition the bark is sensitive to light, more so if it has grown in the shade and then is exposed. A tree that thanks to that same clearing is now on the edge of the forest may develop problems from such. The only real bad news is that the distinctive red bark is a sign of stress - it is not necessarily fatal, but too much can be a bad sign.(It shows a weaker protection against disease penetration)

Many trees can also be quite spindly, with little foliage, except at the very top. This is an effect of growing in a denser forest and the competive stress of same can lead to a less healthy tree, as it does in many species.

A little bit of spindliness can be quite attractive, like some of the trees in Seattle's Magnolia neighborhood. My personal observation is that the form of these trees is most likely a remnant of their youth, prior to the development of the boulevard. In a sunny spot and well drained soil a Madrona should thrive.

The conference that inspired this collection was brought about by the actions of the Magnolia neighborhood. I haven't been there lately, but I do recall one of the test plots, near the main Discovery Park parking lots. The success of these trees, as well as the grand old fellows (and ladies) of Magnolia Boulevard is perhaps the best testimony to the accuracy of this research and its ability to stand the tests of time.

Per the Center for Urban Horticulture the trees are available at least through these sources:

Burnt Ridge Nursery in Onalaska, WA
Forest Farm in Williams, OR
wholesale nursery Fourth Corner Nurseries in Belllingham, WA

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.


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 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 26, 2008

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

Going Viral on KIRO 710

Frank Shiers filled in for Dori Monson on the popular KIRO 710 AM afternoon talk program last week.


Did you hear about the guy who fueled his car with bio-diesel with lipsuction from his own butt?

That about sums it up in America these days, doesn't it? FWIW, I'd bet Shiers wasn't the first to make this double edged observation, but no cite was given. If your tastes run more to left of Center, check out Dave Ross, mornings.

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?

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

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 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 11, 2008

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 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!

October 7, 2008

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

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 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 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

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.

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.

October 29, 2008

American Columbia?

As in, like, compared to, British Columbia?

I went to a cross-border environmental lecture at Tacoma's University of Puget Sound last night, 'hosted' by Steve Scher of KUOW as well as Vaughn Palmer, Political Correspondent for the Vancouver Sun.

Palmer opened with an interesting historical rant on the name 'Columbia - it turns out Washington State had been considered to be named so - but it was rejected as too confusing, given the existing Washington, District of.....

Go figure.

I took it to be this writer's rhetorical take on the prophesy of 'ecotopia' or the more mainstream 'Cascadia'. It is an interesting take - a way of literally reflecting both the shared environment and economics of the two cross-border regions - as well as their sovereign differences. Perhaps I'm reading too much into his words, but I do think at least one student had the same read.

..I wonder what Bert Goyle would think....?

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 25, 2008

Beyond the Ivory Tower

Beyond the Ivory Tower

By Derek Bok (President of Harvard University)


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.

December 8, 2008

Downtown Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway - A Study in Gray

This is the Esplanade, in progress along Downtown Tacoma's Waterfront. For orientation, I-5 is located between the Tacoma Dome and the hill in the background. I live on that hill, just back from the edge, to the right of what's visible, but still within the boundaries of the frame. This Esplanade/Trail is a work in progress, maybe half a mile at best right now. I'd definitely recommend a bit of exploration, in combination with a visit to Chihuly's Museum of Glass - or a shorter walk near the Foss Waterway Seaport, to the North.

Signs are good for this project to be completed, hopefully some day leading to within a block or two of my house, in future phases.

Click through for a couple more pics.

Continue reading " Downtown Tacoma's Thea Foss Waterway - A Study in Gray" »

December 10, 2008

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" »

January 19, 2009

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" »

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'.

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.

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" »

February 12, 2010

Game On: Forecast - no Green, no White, but plenty of Red

The Vancouver Winter Olympics open tonight with snow and money stories, plus a smart ass red head.

Like many Western Ski areas Whistler's Intrawest development is struggling for lack of green, and proceeding through a Wall Street foreclosure, just as the games kick off. Talk about supporting the Olympic Spirit of amateur athletics!

Freestyle skiing and snowboarding are being hosted closer to Vancouver, at Cypress Mountain - where, curiously they have no snow..

Shaun White, the jaggeresque redheaded snow boarder is a good bet for plenty of US Gold, and should prove to be quite entertaining. Speculation will no doubt continue as to White's supply of green, certainly he is not hurting for the monetary kind.

FWIW, I do hear that semi-legal marijuana is openly available, and used, in Whistler. Personally I remember paddling the Class IV Capilano River **in** West Vancouver (located between Cypress Mountain and Grouse Mountain, hosting the Today show crew) high, only time I did so, with the Canadian National Whitewater Slalom Champ.

Quite memorable, that.

February 15, 2010


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?" »

May 27, 2010

Rand and Rachel, Racist?

I've been considering the Rachel Maddow interview of Rand Paul over the last week considerably perhaps THE issue of the moment in these changing times. Here's the interview, what looks like a 'racist' ambush to me, if you missed it.

Maddow and Paul

Much of the media picked up on this particular meme very quickly, including the New York Times who quite deliberately misled readers about specifically what was said.

Most of what I've read has been very polarized, and I think missed the crucial issues. On my Facebook page I'm fortunate enough to have some great folks who come to those issues from each direction, but with an open mind. If you have the time to read this through I think you'll get a better sense of this particular zeitgeist issue than you'll get from anywhere else.

Tooley's Facebook Discussion about racism and Rand Paul

(Click through for my personal conclusions.)

Continue reading "Rand and Rachel, Racist?" »

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.

November 22, 2010

Eastern Oregon Outback

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" »

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" »

September 8, 2011

Law and Philosophy #1

When several villages are united in a single community, perfect and large enough to be nearly or quite self-sufficing, the state comes into existence, originating in the bare needs of life, and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life. And, therefore, if the earlier forms of society are natural, so is the state, for it is the end of them, and the completed nature is the end result of them. For what each thing is when fully developed, we call its nature, whether we are speaking of man, a horse, or a family. Besides, the final cause and end of a thing is the best and to be self-sufficing is the end and the best.

Hence it is evident that the state is a creation of nature, and that man is by nature a political animal.

- Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) The Politics, Book 1

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" »

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.

May 29, 2012

A Small Scale DIY Solar Project

I've got a pretty serious case of sleep apnea, which, when added to my anxiety, makes for a pressing case for relief. As you may know I've been doing a lot of traveling, based out of the Durango, Colorado area, where I have family and so need a power solution when I'm on the road in my pickup based traveling outfit.

The best source on the internet for information on this topic relates to Recreational Vehicle installations, and these are worth reading. The biggest addition I'd make to this base of knowledge is recommending the 'Minn Kota Trolling Motor Power Center' , a battery box that includes two 12v cigarette lighter power plugs, a simple (very) voltage meter, and two separate circuit breakers for additional safety - in addition to the spill protection provided by any basic box.

Please note that I am by no means an electrical engineer, so the following is by no means guaranteed. It is, with this particular combo below, field tested so I'm pretty confident I've got it about right - and also with enough writing chops to communicate same relatively effectively. That said, here's the particular installation I came up with:

Continue reading "A Small Scale DIY Solar Project" »

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 11, 2013


Okay, in the winter this really is not a super tough climb - but given I'm knocking on 50 years of age, and well past 350 pounds in weight I ask you to pander to my delusions of toughness.

Regardless, this is a classic hike, especially in the Winter, the only sane time to visit this furnace of a biome. It climbs 3200 odd feed over 5.5 miles, one way. Unfortunately, the trip is also a good example of the failures of Federal Public Land Management so much in the news these days.

Yeah, there is a great trail head, even a bit overbuilt with railing and concrete parking blocks - but it is pretty much hidden - as sort of a private reserve only for the friends of the rangers. There is basically no signage out on Hwy 160 and what signage that is there is misleading. There are detailed interpretative displays, but none that give credit to the miners that built the trail and what mention of them is disrespectful of their entrepreneurial spirit, not to mention damn hard work.

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 27, 2013

Aztec Arches
The Eight Trails of Octopus Arch, Trail #1


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.


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


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.


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.

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!

March 23, 2015


Growth for the sake of Growth alone is the ideology of the Cancer cell.
-Edward Abbey
(Author of Desert Solitaire and The Monkey Wrench Gang)

My corrolary-

Wealth for the sake of Wealth alone is the ideology of the Cancer cell.

May 17, 2016

The Profiteers

The Profiteers
Bechtel and the Men Who Built the World

By Sally Denton



The Reagan era history is just now being compiled and 'The Profiteers' by Sally Dentonis a solid contribution into the emerging canon of the period. The 'Shock Doctrine' by Naomi Klein and 'Subersives' by Seth Rosenfeld among others outline the international and domestic control strategies of these modern masters. The privately held Bechtel corporate 'person' is first among these oligarchs and their corporate socialist no bid construction business did, in fact, build the world from their American West roots.

Continue reading "The Profiteers" »

September 28, 2018

COMMENTARY: Food Desert in a Ski Town?

My subject today is the lack of affordable, healthy, food in the resort town of Telluride, Colorado.

I've talked recently about the failure of our new regional transit authority, SMART, to provide usable transit to nearby affordable housing and how poor wastewater planning is limiting that housing.

The food issue goes to these same decent living points in an elitist town.

Telluride is not a food desert in the typical urban, inner city, sense- quality food is available here, but the cost is prohibitively high for many and the comparison, though not exact, is relevant.

Audio Link

Continue reading "COMMENTARY: Food Desert in a Ski Town?" »

October 5, 2018

Indigenous Real Estate

In honor of Indigenous People's day, formerly known as Columbus Day, I'd like to throw out an idea for your consideration. U.S. land law, including both real estate and public lands is broke and we need to fix it by looking to the indigenous land "law".

Property rights are no more or no less important than any others, save perhaps the sanctity of our own bodies. Real Estate in much of the Western World, including the U.S., has put itself above the rights of others, and I'd allege even above the sanctity of a citizen's health. Public land law suffers from this hubris to an even greater and more damaging degree.

The balance between the wild and the needs of a community are deeply woven in this native law, this ethic. It is also a balance that is closely interwoven with the masculine and feminine natures of our own species.

Continue reading "Indigenous Real Estate" »

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