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Around the Lake - North King County Archives

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 2, 2008

No **County** for Old Men

This isn't about the Joel and Ethan Coen film still in current release, though I do recommend it.

Rather this is a comparison of the psychological profile of power presented in this piece of fiction with the power structure of King County.

Perhaps the most curious thing about this movie was that I identified with all 3 characters. I wish I was more of the Tommy Lee Jones character, but the truth is I've got a bit of all 3 inside me - thankfully enough of the Tommy Lee to keep my own 'country' looking pretty good.

In the movie the character played by Javier Bardem, Anton Chigurh, is very efficient, very rational, and very, very much a violent psychopath. Logic, law can be consuming, and Chigurh has been consumed completely and effectively. In his world he is fair and consistent but around him spins nothing but chaos and destruction.

Simply put he is a control freak.

And yes, I am saying that King County is being run by control freaks(mostly unknown). No Anton Chigurh's there, save for the occassional wannabe like a likely victim of Gregoire's projessional cohorts, Dan Evans own Ted Bundy. But the profile is similar and revealing.

Does that mean I'm comparing Microsoft to a bunch of drug runners? Go figure....

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 14, 2008

Love, Blossoming at the UW?

Perhaps the most iconic of shared memories in Western Washington is the blossoming of the Cherry Trees in the Arts and Sciences quad at the University of Washington, on a rare sunny day.

On this partly cloudy Valentine's day I'd like to direct your attention to the 'performance' of the University of Washington as a place to start healthy relationships. An occassional drunken frat boy/sorority girl fuck isn't necessarily a bad thing - if it teaches you, by example, what to avoid. Building a lifetime relationship from the continuation of such an encounter does not a healthy region make.

But I'm not here to bash Frat row, nor even the ignored domestic violence violations of starFootball players under Rick Neuheisel.

Rather, consider the case of the murdered staff member Rebecca Griego. Ms. Griego had a restraining order against her killer and those procedures have been strengthened in this year's Legislative session.

But perhaps those measures are actually making the situation worse? Certainly there have been cases where accusations of harrassment are actually the abuse. I can not speak to the Griego case, but I know in my own UW experience that the academics and some of their professional support staff can definitely abuse these politically correct 'procedures'. My case involved being accused of same in retaliation for placing complaints through established legal 'channels' and nothing more.

My rhetorical question for you therefore is whether the UW has, perhaps, continued the cycle of abuse in it's 'attempts' to protect deserving victims of abusive relationships. Is the 'due process' of UW criminally abusive itself? Is the 'authority' of this institution no better than the penis and pry bar of Ted Bundy (**perhaps** an outcast from his better bred UW Law School female cohorts - including some of those now in authority in this State?). Is the UW Police Department anything better than the violent 'tool' (dildo) of a man hating lesbian, perhaps brought into the school through title IX? Is it possible that Rebecca Griego died because of the way the UW, as a culture, addresses these matters, rather than in spite of them?

I don't know. Personally I'd rather keep my distance from such situations. Heck, they might even have accused me of harrassment if I'd bothered to testify in Olympia on those bills.

On the positive side, Fred Jarrett has a bill, 2641 that might actually help in the matter. This bill addresses measures of performance at our higher education instititutions - consistent with I-900 and Brian Sonntag's authority. This matter doesn't address domestic violence, but regardless, an accountable 'culture' will help to reduce such problems FOR EVERYONE.

Just my thoughts, take them as you will. As to my case though, that is definitely still a matter of concern.

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.

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?

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 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" »

August 10, 2008

King County Superior Court Candidates - Suzanne Parisien Email Exchange

A frequent complaint of anyone who takes their responsibility as a citizen seriously is the lack of decent information on judicial races. Getting a good picture of a Judge is difficult. Unless one is a regular observer of the court - a practicing lawyer, an intelligent court clerk, or above average police officer. One area where we definitely could do better is holding these individuals responsible for the consequences of their actions when the mess up - if it rise to that level, even just once. Even more important of course is removing such a dangerous individual from the practice BEFORE they ever get to consideration for a judicial seat.

I've got no smoking gun on Parisiene - however I do have a bit of information, enough to cause me not to vote for her, absent evidence to the contrary, and perhaps of some use to you.

Parisien is a 90k a year Assistant Attorney General since 1997, hired by Christine Gregoire.

My direct knowledge of her is through an email exchange - a response to an email to Ron Sims about the trickiness of dealing with abuse issues - whether they be sexual, racial, or anything. I don't think that Ms. Parisiene read my email closely enough to realize that I wasn't disagreeing with his assessment of Gregoire - and as such perhaps not as pro-Gregoire as Ms. Parisien thought. This was in the spring of the 2004 Gubernatorial year when Sims was contesting for the old style democratic nomination - I haven't checked but I would assume Ms. Parisien did go through the appropriate hoops in order to volunteer for her boss's campaign.
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I've done a quick google on Parisien - perhaps the best info out there are the various candidate interviews done by political organizations including partisan legislative district bodies. She graduated from SU and went to Law School back east, practicing there for a time, returning here in 1997 for an AG position. She moved to Mercer Island 6 years ago. She's done a lot of domestic violence work, including with King County, and this is what concerns me.

For a supposed expert on the subject of abuse her answer strikes me as curiously lacking. Some State Departmental employess, including some in the AG's office make it a practice of 'abusing' the law on harrassment, etc, for their own benefit and, apparently, 'control' needs. I have to wonder if Ms. Parisien hasn't in fact used my particular case in order to herself take advantage of this weakness in our current judicial oversight ability.

I can't say for sure, but absent a strong condemnation of these practices on the behalf of State employees in Downtown Seattle Superior Court this is definitely a way too risky candidate.

Curiously, the King County Bar Association only rates her as 'qualified' - the third highest ranking in the race for position #1. The gay bar group ranks her as unqualified. I'm not up on current legal practice in Seattle, but I do hope that this represents a knowledge of the abuses of Gregoire and her associates as it applies to the practice. Certainly there are at least a few folks who are more than fed up with it - some of them are likely even friends of Sims!

The damage done by Gregoire and her cohorts to all aspects of authority in this State - public and private sector has yet to be determined. This is why I oppose Gregoire. That's not saying I have any legal evidence against her, it's just saying she's just too risky to hire. There are areas that do need further professional investigation - on probable cause, if you will. Most notable of those are her other 'professional' associates.

Though the King County Court's may well believe that any individual capable of making a rational, legal, argument against the behavior of a State Employee (on OR off the clock) is in fact the equivalent of a violent lawless sexual predator it may well be that it is the opposit which is the case.

I'm still open minded about Parisien, but absent her condemnation of these practices, including as they've been applied to myself, she is, at best, not fit for this office. I won't burden you with an articulation of the worst case...at least not yet.

Here's the email exchange, again, from the 2004 Gregoire Campaign:

Continue reading "King County Superior Court Candidates - Suzanne Parisien Email Exchange" »

August 25, 2008

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'.)

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 23, 2008

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...

October 24, 2008

The Pigs are Flying...

The 'Maverick Republican' Brian Derdowski has an op-ed in the P-I today about King County proposition 8, which would make the county elected offices non-partisan.

Below is my comment, edited.

I come out on this with Derdowski, though, FWIW, I left the County about the same time he left office.

The parties do however need to become more accountable - Jane Hague on the Eastside is one big fat example. They also need to get a bit more respect for Independents. These are both meaningful tweaks, not sham reforms like King County propostion 8.

I would agree with the commenter who challenged Derdowski as being a true Republican - if I'm up to date Derdowski is backing Gregoire when many of his Eastside neigbhors are voting Rossi-Obama.

But there is a reason for Derdowski's concerns about his Issaquah neighbor Rossi - and those reasons are, for me, the biggest red flag about Rossi.

But who knows, perhaps pigs will fly, Rossi and Derdowski will make up, and this practical, realistic 'independent' socialist will join a re-constituted Republican party.

Perhaps we can all go moose hunting with Teddy's ghost in the Issaquah Alps and try to forget that the last 'partisan' century even happened....

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?" »

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 23, 2008

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" »

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" »

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.

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 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" »

Tacoma/Pierce Bar goes to Seattle

Salvador Mungia is the President-elect of the Washington State Bar Association and he has weighed in on a local legal controversy in a manner that raises my hopes for the resolution of widespread corruption in the Seattle/King County Bar.

Continue reading "Tacoma/Pierce Bar goes to Seattle" »

March 12, 2009

Architects of Western Washington Regionalism

The field of potential challengers to Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels continues to narrow, however one name remains on the active rumour circuit, architect Peter Steinbrueck. He has not announced a candidacy by any means, but a poll, source unknown, has been leaked that shows him as a viable candidate - beating Nickels 46% to 24%.

In Tacoma an architect is the only current candidate - Jim Merritt for the mayoral position in that 200,000 soul locale (800 in the County, a similar ratio to Seattle/King). Merritt cut his teeth as a young architect being directly inspired by leaders like Victor Steinbrueck. In Tacoma he has been a civic force for decades leading the development of community grounded solutions to such major problems as the Asarco superfund site and the construction of the 705 freeway connecting I-5 to Downtown Tacoma, all while running a successful architectural practice.

While it is the case that junior Steinbrueck might not have the managerial experience to run Seattle it also may well be that his respect in the **community** could easily outweigh any such deficiency. Many hands certainly make for light work.

The election of both Steinbrueck and Merritt would certainly signal a sea change in current approaches to regional decision making - god knows who actually controls that now.

April 1, 2009

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" »

June 8, 2009

Good People, Bad Law

I just caught a timely radio PSA with State Attorney General Rob McKenna and King County Sherrif Sue Rahr concerning High School graduation alcohol usage - a good subject, but with a bad conclusion.

The gist of their piece is to discourage parents from hosting events where alcohol is served. I couldn't disagree more - regardless of the law this is a very appropriate way to handle the situation, so long as the proper precautions are made - keeping car keys, etc.

Alcohol is a legal drug and having more mature people teach its use is crucial. Sure, when the drinking age was 18 there were problems at High Schools as a result, but this is not the same thing at all - consider the anthropological record, for one.

More to the point Rob, Sue, what about the Republicans in King County who never learned how manage the use of the drug responsibly - like, for example, Jane Hague and Norm Satterberg.

Right? What about them?

This enforcement effort comes across as nothing but disrespect for the law revisiting prohibition at a crucial demographic.

Law is not written in stone from Moses in the First Ammendment, it is living thing based on human judgement and the application thereof. Rahr and McKenna are exhibiting much less of this than the parents buying alcohol for their graduates.

Implicitly holding the average citizen to a different standard than members of the government only justifies DISRESPECT for authority.

Given the historical role of the Republican party in US Business it also raises the question - are these folks really competitive or just drug addicted gang banging and extorting thugs corrupting the law rather than making America strong?

June 6, 2010

The Curious Case of Dino Rossi and the Tea Party

I have thought long and deep on the question of whether to support Dino Rossi in his 2010 challenge to Washington State Senator Patty Murray - and the answer that emerged is quite clear - NOPE.

The recent statewide election contests of Mr. Rossi are an interesting story. In 2004 he ran for the open governor's seat as an outsider against the heavily favored Attorney General, Christine Gregoire. His campaign was personally directed and he crafted it with a 'real', sincere outreach to independents and the nicely phrased crossover 'dino-crats'. Surprising all he won that race, unfortunately it was a victory **exactly** like Al Gore's in 2000.

Since that time I've realized (and been reminded!) that his centrist political positions were not at all consistent with his role as a 'neighbor' in the Issaquah/Sammamish area - marked by hyper-partisanship and extreme divisiveness - though likely also not without blame from the opposing camp. That history likely shows the true character of the man behind the facade.

This 2008 rematch against the now incumbent, Gregoire, curiously, foreshadowed the emergence of the Tea Party.

Continue reading "The Curious Case of Dino Rossi and the Tea Party" »

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