Dan Voelpel | Tacoma/Pierce Tribune |

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Pollex Populi - Thumb of the People Archives

October 25, 2007

Never ask a ladies weight...

However if one does a little bit of thinking, and research, such things can be figured out.

Witness Seattle City Council Candidate Venus Velasquez and her recent publicity - from her statements we know both an estimate of her BAC content and the amount of alcohol she consumed. From this we can figure out her approximate weight, within the parameters of the likely time passed from consumption to field testing.

Alcohol - Weight Table

With a field estimated BAC of .115 and, per Velasquez, a consumption of two Drinks - we can calculate her weight at below 67 pounds. (the amount below corresponding to the effects of time)

Now, the courts may not be interested in Anorexia, but as for me, I'm concerned - even if Velasquez is a whole lot classier than the similar situationed sitting County Councilmember Jane Hague (R-Bellevue).

Heyo!

November 3, 2007

Thank You Conventioneers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thank you conventioneers, and god speed.

November 4, 2007

One Step Back, Two Steps Forward

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Proposition 1, Sound Transit Two, et al:

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

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

R-67 - Insurance Reform:

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

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

4204 - Levy vote margins for Schools

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

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

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

I-960 - Legislative Financial Accountability, by Initiative

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

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

November 13, 2007

Not Everybody's a Transit Expert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

November 26, 2007

No Thanks, Bill

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

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

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

The answer to that is no.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thanks, Brian

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 20, 2007

Thursday, My New Favorite Day

In the paper this Thursday (I read the Tacoma News Tribune, Carbon Footprint notwithstanding.) was an interesting article about an Italian Judge and the word 'Friday'.

Now I'm not one to question the moral authority of the Italians, but this is one to ponder, as I am doing still.

The case involved a couple naming their child, 'Friday'. (I don't recall if the article specified the sex of the child or not.) At first glance this seems perposterous, but if one bothers to read it through it becomes an interesting story.

The argument is this - 'Friday', as a name, is associated with the Dafoe novel where the native servant bears the name. As such the name would have negative connotations to it which would effect the child to the point meriting court action. Considered in the context of political correct language debates in this country the argument appears to gain merit - perhaps not so much for the actual facts of the case, but rather for the fact that the matter does merit discussion itself.

Political correctness in language is a tricky subject and restricting speech on any basis is dangerous business, no matter what the 'justification' might be. However when you are talking about a specific individual that is where the damage of language 'hits the road', so to speak. 'Talking' about such matters might seem silly, but I'm going to give this one an American 'thumbs up'. Call it an example of the law putting itself into the language in a way that is worth talking about...

Which brings us to Thursday, today.

The most distinguishing thing about the Tacoma News Tribune - in most regards a rather standard mid-sized market daily - is its Thursday 'Adventure' section. Sure the Times has more local columnists, including the outdoor oriented Ron Judd, but the mix of priorities, on this subject at least, is better at the TNT. (Which stands for Tribune and Tooley, eh?), Outdoor folks don't need a daily section like the sports jocks get, a weekly section is just right, as is the day.

I liked today's paper for another reason, but it would be a bit too circuitous to write about that here. As they say, there is always tomorrow. And as Seargeant Friday would say, "just the facts maam, just the facts".

Heyo!

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.

January 16, 2008

'Z'

'Z'

Directed by Constantin Costa-Gravas

Starring Yves Montand and Irene Papas

1969, based on events in 1963

Some stories never change - in time or place. Roger Ebert makes a similar comment in his 1969 review of this movie, the first foreign film ever nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars.

The plot concerns the May 1963 assassination of the Greek leftist, Grigoris Lambrakis, as well as the successful investigation, and the subsequent military and political consequences. As even the most casual observer of history will note this was only some six months prior to the murder of the first Kennedy.

The actual date of the assasination got my attention, though I won't say why. For trivia buffs it was also the date of the first American ascent of Everest, via the West Ridge - by Washington's own Whitaker, if I recall correctly.

January 25, 2008

Is it okay to lie to protect the First Ammendment?

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

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

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

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

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

Go Figure.

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

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

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

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

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

Heyo!

January 28, 2008

At best, Overpaid

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Federal Way News

Normandy Park Blog (South King County, Washington Suburb)

Above the Law

Police Crimes

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

January 31, 2008

Culture, from Port to Port

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

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

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

SF Chronicle Story

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

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

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

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

February 11, 2008

U.S. Open & Tacoma's Economy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 12, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

February 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 22, 2008

NIFONGED

The Duke Lacrosse Player suit has now been filed:

Durham Herald Sun, 2/21/2008

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

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

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

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

Counting 'I'

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

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

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

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

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

The federal courts have let them do whatever they want.

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

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

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

Not to mention opening their checkbooks.

February 25, 2008

McCain and the Environment

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

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

Their suggested letter to the editor is here:

Dear Editor,

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

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

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

Sincerely,

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

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

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

March 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

I'm Okay, You're Okay?

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

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

http://lbloom.net/okbr.html

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

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

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

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

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.

Overheard:

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.

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

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.

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...

September 24, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

Two questions for you, my friends,

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

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

What the Stranger Said....

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

Kaptur on Federal Response

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

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

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

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

October 1, 2008

Persuasive Advertising

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

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

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

October 7, 2008

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

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

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

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

Main Street - Metropolitan Seattle aka 'Nickelsville'


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

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

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

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

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

October 8, 2008

Hey Barack!

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

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

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

Excuse me, Mr. McCain

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

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

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

October 17, 2008

Emerald Property Rights, #4

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

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

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

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

Continue reading "Emerald Property Rights, #4" »

October 19, 2008

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!

December 6, 2008

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

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

Seattle Times Story

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

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

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

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.

June 29, 2009

Convicted Financier Bernard Madoff and the Jewish Community

Perceptions of Bernard Madoff as a member of the Jewish Committee at this particular moment are interesting. Certainly there is anti-semitism, but there is also condemnation from within the Jewish world as well.

I did a google search on the subject, perhaps most interesting was a story in the Huffington Post from an outsider about Madoff's exclusively Jewish Club in Palm Beach, Florida (December, 2008)- a retirement area for many wealthy New Yorkers.( And, perhaps as an example of the divine hand at work, also home to many of Madoff's victims.

Here's the google for 'Bernard Madoff Jewish Community', for some of the rest.

October 14, 2009

Remembering when I was a Socialist

I am reminded of my first publication, a compilation of research on the subject of Socially Responsible Investment - on the heels of an administration occupying expansion of my alma mater's pioneering South African divestment.

The Hampshire College Report on Socially Responsible Investment

Ed. by Doug Tooley,

April 1983.

Preface
In 1976, Hampshire College bacame the first school in the country to divest from companies in South Africa. This opened the door for us to a much larger idea, that of using investments to reflect our ethics instead of those of the capitalistic ideology.

Continue reading "Remembering when I was a Socialist" »

June 15, 2011

Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin

I've had four 'anti-harassment' restraining orders placed against me, the first two by State of Washington employees retaliating against fully lawful and 'respectful' accountability complaints. The first of these was in 1989, no long after the first of these laws were passed.

Below the jump is my response to the last of these, in 2010, a complaint filed with the Commission on Judicial Conduct another such lawless retaliatory accusation coordinated by the Cascade Land Conservancy.

The biggest point of law is the inappropriateness of assigning 'malicious intent' via a civil process, by common law precedent a very difficult thing to do and made too easy through these otherwise appropriate legal reforms. Applying these statutes to constitutionally protected free speech is of course statutorily exempted and the practice of ignoring such law shameful, conspiratorial, extortionary, and criminal.

Most evil in these practices is the way they have been used to take control of land use and transportation planning, and, increasingly, private business via these abusive practices. Many of these practices have arisen in the social service legal ranks, most notably the large number of Attorneys hired by current Governor Christine Gregoire during her tenure as Attorney General. There is an evident, and unfortunate, legal practice of treating some as second class 'trash' before the law in unwritten practice that is neither criminal nor civil in nature. It is the case that many social service clients have been inappropriately subject to these stigma, and worse. But reinventing the cycle of abuse for political and financial control is a whole level of predatory behavior that exceeds that of even a level 3 sexual predator.

There is precedent for standing against this politically convenient abuse, the Duke LaCrosse Player case as handled by the Prosecutor Michael NiFong.

But the situation in Washington State is much worse. It appears, in fact, that this technique has been politically successful, and has also made major inroads into many larger corporate businesses in the state, not just academia, government, and non-profits.

It is sadly ironic and illustrative that many so-called feminists have become 'hate whores' for the man allowing their once righteous concerns to be misdirected and manipulated unto the next generation of younger white males.

Continue reading "Commission on Judicial Conduct Complaint against Pierce District Judge Jack Nevin" »

September 4, 2011

How 'Healthy' is the legal Profession?

I've recently started reading the Columbian editorial page - at least on subjects that hit my google alerts. Here is a great one, on the recent battle between Gregoire and McKenna on the subject of health insurance

Consider also recent legal opinions which give the Seattle Legislative Body the ability to override Executive order AND avoid accountability to the fiscal accountability requirements of the STATE legislative body.

Me thinks Mr. McKenna has a few more things to accomplish as AG regarding the sorry state of health Ms. Gregoire left the profession in, before he asks us for a promotion..

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