by Goldy, 10/31/2005, 1:03 PM

In touting his qualifications to manage King County’s $3.4 billion budget, David Irons Jr. likes to talk up his “25 years of successful small business experience,” even bragging to Northwest News that he “formed three start-up companies.”

Thus it was with some disappointment that I found the Seattle Times’ profile of Irons’ business background to contain nary a word explaining, um, exactly what it was he actually did at any of these “start-ups”… you know, his responsibilities, duties, accomplishments… the actual executive experience that allegedly prepares him to manage a county government larger than that of thirteen states.

Well, there’s apparently a good reason why the Times’ failed to detail Irons’ day-to-day management responsibilities at All Points Cable TV, Brigadoon.com and CCPI… according to sources at all three companies, Irons didn’t really have any. Indeed, a close examination of his resume reveals that far from the “25 years of executive experience” he claimed on Up Front with Robert Mak, Irons really only has maybe 3 or 4 years to his credit… and even that is suspect.

Let’s start with his parent’s company, All Points Cable TV. In a 1997 resume, Irons made some truly impressive claims:

Irons Resume

Wow. That’s quite some resume. On paper, this guy sounds like a can-do, jack of all trades. Of course, a 1999 resume from his first Council run was slightly less effusive:

Irons Resume

But under the scrutiny of a high-profile campaign, Irons’ 2005 website is cautiously more concise, reducing his tenure at the family company to a single bullet point: “VP & co-owner All Points Cable TV – 1982 to 1995.”

Okay, let’s forget for a moment the question of whether Irons actually lied on his resume, for this isn’t really about lying on his resume, no matter how much of a lie his resume apparently is. This is about what he actually did at All Points Cable TV (as opposed to the lies on his resume), and whether it gave him any of the vaunted management experience Irons claims to possess. For example, I mentioned to his sister Di that “VP & co-owner” made it sound like her brother had a significant role running the place… and she actually laughed. “David…?” she chuckled, “he fixed the trucks.”

Hmm. That seemed odd.

So when I talked to Irons’ mother, I made a point of reading to her the rather effusive prose on her son’s 1997 resume, and… well… she laughed. “99 percent of what he wrote, there’s not one bit of truth to it,” Janet C. Irons told me. According to his mother, David occasionally went out on construction jobs, but mostly worked alone in the garage, maintaining vehicles and equipment. He was “an excellent mechanic” his mother told me, but didn’t get along very well with people.

I didn’t talk directly with Irons’ father, but the Times reporter did. And what did David Sr. have to say about his son’s role at the company?

David Irons Sr., while acknowledging that his son had the title of vice president, said he was a co-owner only in the sense that he held company stock. He said his son’s role was limited mostly to construction work and maintaining the company’s trucks. “He did a lot of welding,” Irons Sr. said.

A lot of welding. Uh-huh. Perhaps that’s Irons’ plan to fix the Viaduct should I-912 pass?

The real owners of All Points Cable TV, Irons’ own parents, insist that during his 13-year tenure, he was not involved with the management and operations of the company… at all… and that he didn’t even have an office. (On the radio last week, Irons’ mom referred to her son as a “grease monkey.” ) And Irons has presented absolutely no evidence to the contrary.

Furthermore, the timeline makes it indisputably clear that Irons could not possibly have “formed” the start-up as he claimed; his parents started the company in the late 1970′s while David Jr. was still up in Alaska working on the pipeline — you know… welding. The Irons did not bring their son into the family business until 1982, and didn’t start compensating him with stock until several years after that.

But once again, this is not really about Irons’ completely bogus resume, and how he bogusly lied on it. This is about whether his tenure at the family business gave him any of the management experience he boastfully touts. And the answer must be no, for even at its height the company never employed more than a dozen people, none of whom reported to David Jr… a fact he has never disputed.

Thus from the 25 years of successful small business experience and 3 startups Irons claims to have formed, we must subtract 13 and 1 respectively… so we’re down to 12 years and 2 startups. Still, not too shabby, but not at all what Irons claims.

On to Brigadoon…

On all of his resumes, Irons claims to have served as Chief Operating Officer of Brigadoon.com from 1995 to 1997… which I suppose he credits for 3 of his 25 12 years of successful small business experience, and 1 of his 3 2 vaunted startups. In fact, while I couldn’t pinpoint his actual start date, it appears his entire tenure at Brigadoon was only about 15 months, less than a year of which he served as COO. Furthermore, it was far from “successful”, unless of course, you measure success by how many millions of dollars your company ends up owing investors, vendors and employees when it finally goes belly-up… in which case Brigadoon could be described as an enviable triumph of free market capitalism.

So, how did a grease monkey like David Jr. end up as COO of a multimillion dollar dot.com bust like Brigadoon? The same way the cussing, wrench-throwing welder earned himself the title of “VP” at a local, cable TV company: daddy.

After the sale of his cable business, David Sr. had a few million dollars burning a hole in his pocket, and what better way to multiply his fortune than to invest in a company with the brilliant business plan of giving away free internet service to schools in a risky gambit to dominate a saturated dial-up market on the cusp of being decimated by broadband? (Yeah, yeah, I know… I have the benefit of hindsight… but I’m on a roll here, so bear with me.) As nutty as the entire Irons clan might now seem, David Sr. was a fairly well known and respected Eastside figure back then. A self-made millionaire and a former US Coast Guard Commander and Chief of Aviation — who Jr. himself used to refer to as “a hero” — David Sr. could not only bring a desperately needed cash infusion into the ambitious company, but also provide the credibility necessary to lure in other investors.

And so when Brigadoon’s predecessor started into negotiations with David Sr. in the latter half of 1995, one of the first things they did was offer a sales/marketing position to his recently unemployed son, David Jr…. despite the fact that the marketing department had few if any trucks to maintain. (On the other hand, there weren’t many loose wrenches lying around either, so it was a relatively safe hire.) And so at the age of 43, David Jr. finally got his first office. Or… maybe it was cubicle. Either way, it wasn’t in a garage. Um… I don’t think.

By February of 1996, David Sr. had invested over $400,000 and loaned Brigadoon an additional $100,000, controlling 23% of the outstanding shares, and earning himself a seat on the Board. Shortly thereafter, David Jr. was promoted to COO, a meteoric rise for a mediocre man, who up until that point barely had any experience managing his own anger, let alone a staff.

At this point the Irons family and my sources at Brigadoon tell starkly different tales of what was really happening at the company, but from both accounts one gets a pretty clear picture of COO David Jr.’s initial role: he was a mole installed to protect the family’s interests. Irons’ parents claim that they soon discovered Brigadoon to be under-capitalized, vastly mismanaged, and rife with illegal and ethically questionable accounting and stock maneuvers. However, my Brigadoon sources cite frequent, harassing letters from the Irons’ attorney-daughter Janet A. as evidence that the family was merely flinging trumped up accusations in an effort to seize control of the company. By June 5, 1996, after weeks of negotiating and angry letter writing, Brigadoon bought out David Sr.’s stake in the company… but as noted in a timeline provided by the Irons family: “DWI Jr. remains an officer.”

It was a month later that David Jr. sent a letter to Brigadoon’s board, which the Times’ article attempted to spin into a noble display of business ethics.

By July 1996, David Irons was just about fed up with Brigadoon.com, the Internet startup where he was chief operating officer.

He typed a letter to the board of directors, warning of “irregularities” including questionable stock sales and “manipulation of numbers” to boost the company’s image for investors.

Unless the company hired a securities expert to correct the problems, Irons feared, he could be held personally liable. Though he wanted to stay, Irons wrote, “my family and my personal integrity must come first.” He’d resign if the problems were not fixed.

Let’s be clear. By July 1996, David Jr. had only been COO for a few months, and not only didn’t he “type the letter”, he didn’t even compose it. As an accompanying cover letter explains, this letter, like all those associated with the Irons-Brigadoon disputes, was written by attorney-daughter Janet A., and in such context appears to be more of a mild blackmail note than an effort to genuinely fix problems at the company. Indeed, the letter closes with the following threat:

I will keep the contents of this letter confidential if the Board acts, however it is bound to become a topic of discussion within the company if I am forced to resign on August 15. I desperately hope that will not be necessary.

The letter alleges serious irregularities and securities violations “too numerous to list in their entirety”… but apparently not so serious or numerous that he ever bothered to notify authorities or warn other investors. In fact, David Jr. stayed on at Brigadoon, despite the alleged irregularities, profligate spending and shaky finances until February 1997… at which time he exited with the plum rights to one of the company’s only profitable assets.

How did David Jr. manage this little business coup?

In a July 2000 expose of the financial chaos that was Brigadoon, the Times mentions a little episode that David Jr. likes to spin into a tale of his own selfless, Christmas spirit:

Before Christmas 1996, Hansen promised employees they’d be paid, but he failed to follow through when an investor backed out. Irons said he was furious and put $50,000 on his credit card to make payroll.

But the truth behind this incident is much more Dickensian than David Jr. lets on, for it was good old-fashioned greed rather than holiday goodwill that prompted Jr. to whip out his credit card. COO David Jr. was intimately aware of the company’s precarious financial straights, and as Randy Fink, a former vice president at Brigadoon put it, this was an opportunity to “get out of there with some skin.” David Jr. had the company over a barrel, and so he collateralized his $50,000 emergency loan with the rights to one of Brigadoon’s only profitable assets: the convention center contracts that now form the basis of David Jr.’s current company, CCPI. When merely two months later David Jr. called in the loan, he knew that Brigadoon could not pay… and so he resigned as COO in February 1997, taking with him the lucrative contracts, and most of the employees from the business unit that served them. That, and $100,000 from his parents, put him in business on his own.

“He took advantage of a situation there and obviously feathered his bed at the expense of the Brigadoon shareholders,” Fink said. “It was one of the last major assets that was available and he ended up with it.

Brian Nelson, Brigadoon’s former general counsel is even more blunt in his assessment, characterizing the transaction as “loansharking” terms. “David was an officer, and he had a fiduciary responsibility to do what was best for all the shareholders, not just himself,” Nelson told me. “This deal did not appear to meet those obligations.”

The incident raises a number of unsettling questions in addition to that of whether David Jr., as COO, violated his fiduciary responsibility to shareholders… the most obvious being whether he received better treatment than Brigadoon’s many other creditors — most of whom came away with nothing — and if so… why? One can only speculate, but it seems reasonable to wonder if the spectacularly one-sided deal that put the company’s last major asset in the hands of an unhappy ex-COO had anything to do with his threatening letter from July 1996? Whatever the merits of the family’s allegations, Brigadoon saw fit to first buy out David Sr.’s shares (plus interest), and then eventually buy out David Jr. as well, giving him a sweetheart of a deal that apparently satisfied him enough to keep him quiet on his charges of wrongdoing.

And while Brigadoon wasn’t forced into bankruptcy until a little more than a year after David Jr.’s departure, it is also fair to question his claim that he had no role in the company’s failure. Surely, the loss of the lucrative convention center business must have exacerbated Brigadoon’s faltering bottom line. And if we are to believe that David Jr.’s own mismanagement didn’t contribute to the company’s well documented problems, one must ask… what exactly is it that Jr. did there during his brief tenure anyway?

Well, don’t look to his resume for answers, for according to Nelson and others, David Jr.’s Brigadoon blurb is just as self-aggrandizing as his fantastic tales of his years at All Points Cable TV. For example, the 1997 resume specifically names a number of corporations and organizations in which David Jr. claims “personal negotiation of Internet service contracts”… claims refuted by some of the people who actually did the negotiation. David Jr. did in fact attend some of these meetings, but according to one source, he was told to “sit in the corner and keep his mouth shout.”

So how thin is David Jr.’s Brigadoon resume? Well, one of my favorite bullet points is particularly telling:

Publications; Determined time-line to profitability was beyond resources of company and crafted elimination of department and reallocation of staff;

Um… so… in talking about his role in the Publications Department, he’s actually filling space on his resume by telling us what he didn’t do. (And by the way, the department he eliminated and staff he reallocated…? It consisted of a single person.)

The problem for David Jr. is that when it comes to Brigadoon, he tries to have it both ways. He wants to point to his brief tenure as COO as evidence of his management prowess, yet he refuses to take responsibility for any of the company’s problems. He tries to claim that the company slipped into bankruptcy only after he left, yet in internal documents and interviews with reporters he paints a picture of a company that was dramatically mismanaged and financially shaky from the day he arrived to the day he left. It may in fact be true that apart from stealing away one of Brigadoon’s only profitable assets, David Jr. did not contribute directly to the company’s eventual failure… but it is hard to argue that he did anything to help prevent it either. Far from fixing the company’s problems like the hands-on, can-do executive he pretends to be, David Jr. simply up and quit.

Former Brigadoon employees and officers describe him as anything from a “dangerous mole” to a “harmless figurehead”, and while some avoided him as a “bully”, others seemed to genuinely like him. But nobody, on or off the record, could recount to me a single accomplishment… which I suppose explains why the Times’ profile is equally thin in reporting his actual role at the company, beyond his title.

In fact, Irons held the title of COO for less than year, at a company that in no way could be described as “successful.” By his own account, he was not a founder, and did not “form” the startup. He was just a manager, hired and promoted at his father’s behest, with no prior qualifications to recommend him for the position, and no pertinent educational preparation. (It’s not like he was one of those snotty, newly-minted MBAs that started to infest the dot.com world during the mid 90′s… he never even graduated from college.) Finally, it is not at all clear what, if anything, David Jr. actually did at Brigadoon during his very brief tenure, other than sign his name to all those threatening letters penned by his sister Janet.

So from his alleged 25 12 years of successful small business experience, and 3 2 startups he supposedly formed, we must subtract 3 and 1 respectively, for a new total of 9 years of “executive experience” and 1 remaining startup. That brings us to CCPI, a company that rents temporary internet access to exhibitors displaying at Seattle’s WA State Convention Center, and several other venues.

I could only find a single CCPI employee willing to speak to me, and very off the the record, so I can’t really add much new information to what little has already been written about the company in the mainstream press. But I can tie up a few loose strings.

As has previously been noted, CCPI was not your typical “startup”, having essentially sprung fully formed from Zeus’s head at the time David Jr. left Brigadoon, convention center contracts and staffers in hand. Thus, with CCPI, David Jr. didn’t so much “form a startup” as he did purchase a fully functional business unit, and then slap a new name on it.

Having neither the technical expertise nor the managerial experience to operate a “high-tech” company, David Jr. has reportedly been a hands off CEO since the company’s founding, leaving the day to day operations in the hands of the managers who ran the business unit for Brigadoon… perhaps the wisest executive decision Jr. has made during his 25 12 9 years of “successful small business experience.” CCPI employees consider David Jr. to be an “absentee owner”, rarely seeing him at the company’s Bremerton offices… a long commute from his Sammamish home. And David Jr. himself has admitted to reporters that he has spent no more than 4 to 6 hours a week on the business since choosing to run for County Council in 1999.

Instead, David Jr. claims that he is responsible for the company’s “vision”, telling the Times that he’s learned a lesson from the high-flying, nose-diving Brigadoon, preferring a slow growth strategy for CCPI that may not be sexy, but is guaranteed to last. To which I respond with one cautionary word of free consulting advice: “WiMAX.”

Unlike David Jr., I have actually formed a technology startup with nothing but an idea, some credit cards, and a foolish dream, and thus I’ve had the opportunity to be personally reamed by vendors like CCPI while exhibiting at various convention centers around the nation. When an ethernet cable and three days of spotty internet service costs more than a year of residential DSL, you can be sure that exhibitors are searching for an alternative. So far, CCPI has resisted the trend to move its convention centers from hardwired ethernet to wireless WiFI networking, and over the next few years, as broadband WiMAX networks become established nationwide, CCPI’s business model will go the way of the dinosaurs… just like Brigadoon’s dial-up market.

So much for the vision thing.

Still, despite hiring a former pizza salesman with no technical experience to run his company in his absence, CCPI has managed to stay in business since 1997… so I suppose David Jr. deserves a little credit for that. So lets charitably give him two years of successful executive experience from 1997 to 1999, plus maybe half a year of experience for his 5-hour work-weeks since then.

So if you’re hiring David Irons Jr. based on his claim of 25 years of successful executive experience, here’s a more realistic assessment of his resume:

All Points Cable TV: 0 years of executive experience
Brigadoon.com: less than 1 year of unsuccessful executive experience
CCPI: 2.5 years of successful executive experience. (Maybe.)

As to the number of startups he’s formed, I’d say the answer is none… though I suppose an argument could be made that CCPI vaguely fits the description. But however you add up the numbers, there is no doubt that Irons has vastly less executive experience than he boastfully claims on any of his resumes.

Irons likes to point out that by comparison, Ron Sims has no private sector experience… but what Sims does have is nine years as executive of one of the largest county governments in the nation, managing a $3.4 billion budget while earning triple-A ratings from all three top credit agencies, even as many other municipal governments around the state teeter on the edge of insolvency.

While the Seattle Times may have failed to sufficiently dissect Irons’ resume for its readers, there’s a reason why its normally Republican-leaning, strongly pro-business editorial board enthusiastically endorses Ron Sims, and soundly rejects the candidacy of his overmatched opponent. Of David Irons Jr. they write: “his resume and leadership skills pale in comparison.”

And that’s putting it charitably.

by Goldy, 10/31/2005, 9:02 AM

So-called “mainstream” Republicans should have no doubts about the absolute control the far religious right now holds in their party. After caving to right wing pressure and forcing Harriet Miers to withdraw her nomination, President Bush has quickly come back with the nominee they wanted all along, Judge Samuel Alito.

President Bush today named appeals court Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. to the U.S. Supreme Court. Alito, 55, serves on the Philadelphia-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, where his record on abortion rights and church-state issues has been widely applauded by conservatives and criticized by liberals.

Alito, appointed to the appeals court in 1990 by President George H.W. Bush, has been a regular for years on the White House’s short list for the high court. He was also among those proposed by conservative intellectuals as an alternative to Harriet Miers, the White House counsel who withdrew as the nominee last week.

Some Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), have threatened to oppose Alito, however. Immediately after the announcement, the liberal activist organization People for the American Way announced the launch of a “massive national effort” to prevent Alito’s confirmation.

This is a judge who is clearly on the record against abortion, most notoriously for having written a dissenting opinion supporting a Pennsylvania law that would have required women to notify their husbands before obtaining an abortion. His opinion was directly rebuffed by Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, who he would replace.

The case ultimately reached the Supreme Court, which upheld the appeals court decision, disagreed with Alito and used the case to reaffirm its support for Roe v. Wade , the 1973 decision legalizing abortion.

On the spousal notification provision, O’Connor wrote for the court that it did indeed constitute an obstacle. The “spousal notification requirement is . . . likely to prevent a significant number of women from obtaining an abortion,” she wrote.

“It does not merely make abortions a little more difficult or expensive to obtain; for many women, it will impose a substantial obstacle. We must not blind ourselves to the fact that the significant number of women who fear for their safety and the safety of their children are likely to be deterred from procuring an abortion as surely as if the Commonwealth had outlawed abortion in all cases,” she said.

Plus, it “embodies a view of marriage consonant with the common law status of married women, but repugnant to our present understanding of marriage and of the nature of the rights secured by the Constitution. Women do not lose their constitutionally protected liberty when they marry, ” she said.

“The Constitution protects all individuals, male or female, married or unmarried, from the abuse of governmental power, even where that power is employed for the supposed benefit of a member of the individual’s family.”

We’ll learn more about Alito in the coming days, but what we know now isn’t promising. We cannot allow the religious right to pack the bench with justices that would permit the nation to slide down a path towards The Handmaiden’s Tale. The President serves all Americans, not just those extremists who control his party, and he has an obligation to appoint justices who are not only qualified, but who reflect the beliefs and philosophies of the American people. If the Bush administration insists on playing a winner takes all game with the Supreme Court, then Democrats should adopt the same adversarial attitude.

If Alito proves unacceptable, the Democrats must filibuster.

by Goldy, 10/30/2005, 9:20 PM

I’m in the middle of watching the mini-debate between Rons Sims and David Irons Jr. on Up Front with Robert Mak, and I just have to say that Irons is a complete and total liar, and he knows it. He just said that I have admitted to “collaborating” with the Sims campaign, and that simply is not true. I have outlined my communications with the campaign in excruciating detail, and there is no way a reasonably intelligent and honest person can possibly view it as a collaboration.

It is one thing to baselessly accuse me of something… it is something else entirely to accuse me of admitting it. My explanation of how I came to talk to his family is public record… a public record that Irons has blatantly and shamelessly lied about.

On the same issue, I think Sims made it very clear that he did not approve of what I did. That’s one of the reasons I admire him… he consistently takes the moral high ground. All the more reason not to “collaborate” with his campaign… they probably would have told me not to run the story… which I believe would have been a mistake.

According to his own parents — the people who know him best — Irons is not only a liar, he is a man with a violent temper and a long history of abusive outbursts… a pattern of behavior that apparently has continued during his tenure on the King County Council. During the past week and a half I have been working to document a number of incidents, and if I ever manage to get witnesses and victims to go on the record, you can be sure I’ll share the details.

by Goldy, 10/30/2005, 11:23 AM

As Dino Rossi continues to maintain his silence on Initiative 912, the message-sending, KVI publicity stunt cum ballot measure is beginning to expose deep rifts in the WA state Republican Party.

Prominent Republicans from the business community, including Western Wireless Chief Executive John Stanton, have contributed mightily to the campaign to preserve the tax.

They hope to draw a distinction between themselves and the more conservative anti-tax base and help diffuse the partisan politics behind the support for the initiative.

Mainstream Republicans of Washington, a group of moderates, has endorsed the No on 912 campaign and is spending about $80,000 (most of it from Stanton) for direct mail opposing the initiative.

“Republicans have a long history of defending user taxes and particularly the gas tax,” said Mainstream Republicans Executive Director Alex Hays. “The gas tax is constitutionally required to fund roads and ferries. Taxes don’t get much fairer than that. You drive on the roads, you use gas, and therefore you pay for the roads.”

Hays said virtually every Republican to hold statewide office has come out of the mainstream movement. Mainstream members include Stanton, Secretary of State Sam Reed, Attorney General Rob McKenna, Commissioner of Lands Doug Sutherland and Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner.

Rossi should take note. Stanton, who has contributed over $100,000 to the No on 912 campaign, has often been mentioned as a possible candidate for governor or other high office, and while at this point in time it would be surprising to see any Republican seriously challenge Rossi for the 2008 nomination, the Sammamish real estate salesman cannot take for granted the enthusiastic support of business leaders, particularly a potential rival like Stanton who clearly disagrees with Rossi on substantive policy issues.

Of course, Rossi ran very well in 2004, pretending to be a mainstream Republican, but as he’s proven with his conspicuous silence on I-912, Mainstream Republicans in the business community and elsewhere really can’t count on him to support their agenda. If three years from now the state and regional economy is strong, and business leaders are largely satisfied with Gov. Christine Gregoire’s job performance, they will open their wallets less widely to support a challenger who has failed to support them in return.

“For a lot of the politicians, this is a vote (the public vote on 912) that they realize is best argued on the merits rather than turned into a partisan issue,” Stanton said. “I was on a podium with John Carlson,” the radio talk show host and I-912 supporter, “and he talked about sending a message. This is not about sending a message,” Stanton said.

“Or if it is, it’s about sending a message that transportation’s important.

And don’t think that Stanton and other business leaders haven’t been shy about sending a message of their own. That a lowly blogger like me should receive an earnest phone call from “Executive X” was a subtle message in itself. Less subtle was his questioning of whether Rossi “fully appreciates the political ramifications” of his failure to speak out against I-912. More recently, the Seattle P-I reported that Boeing would be diverting money away from the parties and giving it directly to those individual legislators who voted for the gas tax increase… implying that those opposing the tax should expect zilch. As the P-I editorial board wrote:

The state Republican Party backs I-912. Boeing opposes it. All but the most clueless of Republican candidates will get the message.

Is Rossi really that clueless?

I suppose it is possible that Rossi really does oppose the transportation package, and believes that we can afford to continue to delay maintenance and improvement projects… that he’s so deeply entrenched in the reactionary, anti-tax wing of the GOP that he’s willing to dismiss the fervent opposition to I-912 from the businesses and wealthy executives who financed his last campaign. If that’s true, he should just come out and take a principled stand.

Or perhaps Rossi quietly agrees with Stanton, but is willing to sacrifice the economic welfare of the state as part of a political gambit he hopes will weaken Gregoire for 2008? If that is the game he is playing, he should understand that even “winning” doesn’t come without risks. Assuming she governs well, Gregoire’s approval ratings will continue to climb, the further removed we are from the GOP’s viciously dishonest — yet effective — election contest PR campaign. And Gregoire won’t sleepwalk through a rematch the way she did the 2004 election: 2008 is going to be a meaner, more energetic, more costly campaign, and if Rossi expects to be competitive, he’ll need business leaders to continue to cut the big checks that he and his fellow Republicans have come to take for granted.

But my guess is, before they open their checkbooks again, some of these executives are going to look back at the I-912 campaign and ask: “Where was Rossi?”

Dino’s got a few more days to answer the question.

by Goldy, 10/28/2005, 3:40 PM

I’m heading out to make french bread pizza for 300 people at my daughter’s school, so I’m posting the open thread a little early today. I suppose there’s probably stuff to talk about.

by Goldy, 10/28/2005, 10:30 AM

I found a “scooter” under my Fitzmas tree this morning, how about you?

A federal grand jury today indicted Vice President Cheney’s chief of staff, I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, after a two-year investigation into the leak of a CIA agent’s identity but spared — at least for now –President Bush’s top political strategist, Karl Rove.

Libby was indicted on charges of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements. The indictment charged that he gave misleading information to the grand jury, allegedly lying about information he discussed with three news reporters. It alleged that he committed perjury before the grand jury in March 2004 and that he also lied to FBI agents investigating the case.

Libby has resigned.

Holidays are often a bit anticlimactic, and I’m sure there are more than a few disappointed Democrats who had hoped for a Karl Rove Frogmarch doll. But according to reports, Rove is not in the clear yet, so keep your fingers crossed.

I’ll leave more thorough reporting and analysis to the MSM and national blogs. But please feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

by Goldy, 10/28/2005, 9:39 AM

I’m not a big fan of censorship. The trolls here know this, and so they gleefully abuse my tolerance in a relentless effort to drive real debate off my threads, filling them with offensive, dumb-ass and downright racist comments. My philosophy has always been that rather than delete or edit a particularly offensive comment, I leave it untouched for all to see, so that the author can hang himself on his own public display of hate and stupidity.

Yes, HA can be an odd place, and one gets numb to it after a while… but it is always a bit shocking to see how comfortable some people are in posting comparable bile in other, more solemn forums. For example, an anonymous author posted the following to the Seattle P-I’s comment thread on their editorial board endorsement of King County Executive Ron Sims:

Yes lets stay the course and keep the incompetent OREO in office…

(The P-I does censor their comment threads, so catch it while you can.)

That somebody would feel it appropriate to post such a racist comment in such a very public forum raises a number of issues, the most obvious being the inherent racism that still infects society. I am certainly not implying that a substantial number of David Irons’ supporters oppose Sims due to the color of his skin, but certainly, some do. Racism is still a very real electoral factor facing all minority candidates, and when the state and local GOP publicly embrace somebody like (un)Sound Politics’ Stefan Sharkansky — who repeatedly referred to Sims as “the Robert Mugabe of WA politics” — they send a very strong message to voters that this kind of behavior is not only acceptable, it is welcome.

The second issue this raises is what this lack of civility means to the prospect of a broader public debate. It is one thing to post on a no-holds-barred blog like HA, where such vile crap is grudgingly tolerated. (For the moment.) It is another thing to post it on the website of a major newspaper. I have argued with people at the Seattle Times that they are missing the boat by not transforming their own website into a more interactive experience… and this is exactly the type of incident that they insist prevents them from doing so. When public debate is squashed by a few unruly bullies, we all lose.

And finally, I am disturbed that anybody feels comfortable posting such a statement in any public forum, under any circumstances, and view it as just part of the growing mainstreaming of violent hate speech most visibly embodied in public figures like Ann Coulter, and more dangerously, by the swarm of anonymous cowards on sewers like Free Republic. Of course, the “oreo” comment is mild compared to the eliminationist rhetoric that is now routinely aimed at me in the comment threads on my own blog, where apparently some feel it an act of patriotism to call for my death in response to a display of informed dissent.

Those who long for “The Cleansing” or whatever they choose to call their giddily imagined modern day Kristallnacht, remind us daily that even in this, the world’s oldest functioning democracy, we must remain vigilant against the ever-present and creeping danger of fascism.

by Goldy, 10/27/2005, 9:07 PM
by Goldy, 10/27/2005, 9:32 AM

In a bizarre and dramatic twist to a bizarre story, David Irons Jr.’s mother, Janet C. Irons, submitted herself to a polygraph test yesterday morning… and passed with flying colors. A four-page report from Evergreen Polygraph, Inc. concludes that Mrs. Irons was “truthful” in her telling of a 1994 incident in which she claims her son knocked her to the ground and tore the phone off the wall to prevent her from calling 911.

Based on the physiological responses produced by the subject on two polygraph charts, in the opinion of this examiner the subject was not attempting deception when she answered “NO” to the following relevant questions.

43. Did you lie to me when you said your son David assaulted you?

44. Did you lie to me about being assaulted by your son in 1994?

45. Did you lie to me when you said you were not having a diabetic reaction when your son assaulted you in 1994?

While it is true that polygraph results are not admissible in court, they are commonly used during both criminal and civil investigations. Even Dori Monson, one of Irons’ most adamant defenders, apparently considers polygraphs to be credible, as just last Friday he repeatedly issued on-air challenges to both Irons and Ron Sims — the two candidates for King County executive — to submit to just such a test. (Dori may be a bit of a blowhard with whom I passionately disagree on most political issues… but he’s a fair blowhard, and thus I fully expect him to report to his audience the very credible results of Mrs. Irons’ own examination.)

It should also be emphasized that while the polygraph test addressed only the one incident in question, Irons’ parents allege that their son has displayed a pattern of dishonesty and abusive rages that should disqualify him from high office, the details of which I have previously outlined. From my conversations with the family I have no more reason to doubt their broader character testimony than I did their description of the 1994 assault.

I spoke with Mrs. Irons briefly yesterday, before she received the polygraph results, and she repeated her challenge to David Jr. that she made last week on the John Carlson Show… that he join her in taking a polygraph test. However she doesn’t expect him to respond: “liars won’t usually take tests unless forced,” she told me. Still, she hopes this will be the last she needs to speak on the issue.

“I’m very tired of Jr. using us for political fodder, and I’ll be thankful when every few years we don’t have to keep talking about having a dishonest and abusive son. Maybe we can get him to quit lying about us, but I wonder what it will take for him to quit lying about his political opponents?”

Hmm. How about getting him out of politics?

UPDATE:
I received an updated polygraph report that correctly numbers the questions, and have uploaded a new PDF that reflects these changes.

by Goldy, 10/27/2005, 8:35 AM

Man… that was easy:

Under withering attack from conservatives, President Bush ended his push to put loyalist Harriet Miers on the Supreme Court Thursday and promised a quick replacement. Democrats accused him of bowing to the “radical right wing of the Republican Party.”

The withdrawal stunned Washington on a day when the capital was awaiting potential bad news for the administration on another front – the possible indictments of senior White House aides in the CIA leak case. Earlier in the week, the U.S. military death toll in Iraq hit 2,000.

My regular readers must have noticed that I commented little on the Miers nomination, preferring instead to sit back and watch the normally disciplined Republican Party implode on its own. Let this be a lesson to those few moderates and true conservatives left in a position of authority within the GOP… the far right wing of your party expects absolute loyalty and allegiance from you, but should you stray one tiny step from the Good Book, they’ll throw you to the lions without a moment’s hesitation. They don’t give a shit about fiscal conservativism or federalism or strict constructionism… they’ll stop at absolutely nothing in pursuit of their theocratic agenda, even if it means turning on a Republican president at a time he desperately needed party discipline to save his crumbling administration.

Whatever her qualifications, Miers was without a doubt a reliably pro-business, corporate attorney who could be counted on to favor the GOP’s financial backers for decades to come. But even this devout, born again, Evangelical Christian failed to pass the religious right’s rigid litmus test, that demands justices who will criminalize abortion and homosexuality, while undermining our nation’s sacred tradition of separating church and state.

And isn’t it curious… that her dramatic, surprise withdrawal comes on a day the White House expects criminal indictments of high-level members of the administration? I guess it should come as no surprise that Karl Rove would sacrifice a Supreme Court nominee in an effort to save his own skin.

by Goldy, 10/26/2005, 11:38 AM

So where’s Dino Rossi? Well according to the Spokane Spokesman-Review (boneheaded, paid-subscription required), the man who claims to be “taking a well-deserved break from politics,” is actually out in Spokane… campaigning.

In his blue suit, pressed white shirt and red tie, Dino Rossi appears every inch the candidate.

He’s got a book on leadership coming out.

He’s making a few select speaking appearances, like the one this morning to Republican state Senate leaders meeting in Spokane.

He’s returning the favor of friends who helped with his past campaigns, down to recording a few automated “robo-calls” for candidates in the 2005 election.

Yeah… sure… except for all the campaigning and political stuff he’s doing, he’s taking a break from politics.

What a load of crap.

So Dino… as long as you’re returning favors of friends who helped with past campaigns, how about returning a favor to the business community that bankrolled your run for governor? Why not record one of those robo-calls, asking voters not to support I-912? Or at the very least, why not just stake out a public position on an issue on which you’ve surely taken a private one… the most contentious issue on the November ballot?

Where’s Rossi on I-912? We’ll probably never know, because he’s apparently too busy campaigning for governor to display the kind of leadership necessary to be one.

by Goldy, 10/26/2005, 12:25 AM

Washington Defense is holding a demonstration this morning, 10 AM, at the 1st Ave. S on ramp of the Alaska Way Viaduct, to warn drivers of the imminent danger, and demand that WSDOT post permanent hazard signs along the length of the structure. Yard signs will be made available to those who attend.

This is not the well financed “official” No on I-912 campaign, but rather an independent, grassroots effort, that nonetheless has managed to raise enough money to print yard signs. Just another example of the growing opposition to I-912.

by Goldy, 10/25/2005, 2:23 PM

For six years, David Irons Jr. has supported building “I-605″, a four-lane freeway cut through the heart of rural King County:

“When 605 came up in the past, it was largely pie-in-the-sky,” said David Irons Jr., newly elected King County councilman who represents the district where the freeway could be built. … “It’s time for discussions and hard decisions. It’s time to talk about 605.”

And in his recent radio ads and prerecorded robo-calls, Irons continues to talk about I-605, though not by name. When he refers to a study claiming that adding more lanes is the only way to relieve congestion, he’s referring to Bellevue Square developer Kemper Freeman Jr.’s selfishly skewed study… which of course, relies on I-605 at the heart of its plan. It’s all there, documented on a new website, IronsHighway.com.

With I-605 would come the unmitigated sprawl that accompanies all freeways… exactly the kind of land use policies Irons’ financial backers in the building industry were looking for when they yanked him out of obscurity back in 1999. Freeman builds malls, and what do you find at nearly every freeway off-ramp? A mall! Indeed, Freeman alone has contributed over $6,760 to Irons over the past couple years.

So if you want to transform rural King County into an endless swath of strip malls and sub-divisions… vote for Irons. Because that’s clearly what he intends to deliver.

by Goldy, 10/25/2005, 1:52 PM

The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E.

Buy me a couple drinks and maybe I’ll blab to you about all the new dirt I’m digging up on David Irons.

by Goldy, 10/25/2005, 10:07 AM

After a sexual assault, a Tucson AZ woman spent three days frantically trying to obtain emergency contraception — the “morning after” pill — to no avail.

While calling dozens of Tucson pharmacies trying to fill a prescription for emergency contraception, she found that most did not stock the drug.

When she finally did find a pharmacy with it, she said she was told the pharmacist on duty would not dispense it because of religious and moral objections.

“I was so shocked,” said the 20-year-old woman, who, as a victim of sexual assault, is not being named by the Star. “I just did not understand how they could legally refuse to do this.”

But of course it is legal, and under growing pressure from the religious right, many of the nation’s largest pharmacy chains are refusing to stock or dispense emergency contraception, under any circumstances.

Imagine this woman is your girlfriend your wife or your daughter… she was essentially assaulted twice: first by her assailant, and next by the right-wing religious extremists who would deny her access to safe, effective and legal contraception. These are the extremists who have hijacked the GOP… and those more moderate Republicans who nonetheless whore themselves to their party’s theocratic agenda must be held accountability.

Pharmacists have an ethical obligation to dispense legal medication, and they should have a legal obligation as well. We need laws now, guaranteeing access to contraception. All the more reason to vote Democratic.

by Goldy, 10/25/2005, 8:28 AM

No on 330
Courtesy of Andrew Wahl

I come from a family of doctors, so I understand the burden of malpractice insurance, but I-330 isn’t a pro-doctor initiative, it’s a pro-insurance industry initiative. And either way, it certainly ain’t pro-patient. There is no medical malpractice crisis in WA state, and no need for some insurance industry written and financed anti-consumer fix. Quite frankly, I-330 sucks.

(Hmm. Why is it Republicans are always trying to put trial lawyers and organized labor out of business? You think if hotdog vendors were big contributors to the Democrats, the GOP would be trying to bust them up too?)

by Goldy, 10/24/2005, 8:30 PM

Rosa Parks has died at age 92.

Speaking in 1992, she said history too often maintains “that my feet were hurting and I didn’t know why I refused to stand up when they told me. But the real reason of my not standing up was I felt that I had a right to be treated as any other passenger. We had endured that kind of treatment for too long.”

Her arrest triggered a 381-day boycott of the bus system organized by a then little-known Baptist minister, the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., who later earned the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

“At the time I was arrested I had no idea it would turn into this,” Mrs. Parks said 30 years later. “It was just a day like any other day. The only thing that made it significant was that the masses of the people joined in.”

A simple act of defiance by an ordinary person can change the world.

by Goldy, 10/24/2005, 10:43 AM

Reuters is reporting that federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald “appears to be laying the groundwork for indictments” this week, possibly including charges of perjury and obstruction of justice in the investigation over the outing of covert CIA operative Valerie Plame. If that’s not surprising, neither is the Republican’s typically hypocritical spin:

In a preview of how Republicans would counter charges against top administration officials by Fitzgerald, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas brushed aside an indictment for perjury — rather than for the underlying crime of outing a covert operative — as a “technicality.”

A technicality, huh? Oh… you mean like lying about a blowjob?

Yesterday on Meet the Press, Hutchinson accused Fitzgerald of trumping up perjury charges in an effort to show that “two years’ of investigation was not a waste of time and dollars.”

Hmm. So how does the Fitzgerald investigation compare to the four-year witch hunt that Ken Starr conducted against President Bill Clinton? Well, Armando reports on Daily Kos that Fitzgerald has spent $723,000 to date, whereas Starr spent $40,835,000 to catch a president lying about sex. Remember… Whitewater, Travelgate, Vince Foster, and everything else he investigated… and all he came up with was Monica’s stained blue dress. And a Republican Congress impeached a president for that.

So now that their ox is being gored, and Republicans start explaining away perjury as a “technicality”… I have to laugh.

by Goldy, 10/24/2005, 12:21 AM

I’m man enough to admit when I am wrong.

Last week I told the story the Irons’ family wanted voters to hear… the long, sad tale of their son David Jr., and their heartfelt belief that he lacks the qualifications, intellect and temperament for high public office. In doing so, I also made a point of lambasting the MSM for not covering the details of the Irons family feud… details that I believe speak directly to his character.

In an era when pundits and reporters can soberly chronicle the impeachment of a president for lying about a blowjob, it seems inconceivable that our local media could ignore the character testimony of a candidate’s own parents. But that is exactly what the MSM has done for years, most recently with Joni Balter’s timid, almost-apologia of a column in the September 29 edition of the Seattle Times.

Well… apparently my Google skills aren’t what they should be, for in fact checking my reporting, Darryl at Hominid Views has uncovered a number of articles from 2003, covering various aspects of the troubles. So those reporters who have privately complained that they had previously covered this story, well… I guess you were sort of right. Sorry. My bad.

Of course, that was two years ago during a county council race, back when few voters were paying attention to David Irons. I still think it is relevant to raise these issues again in 2005, now that Irons is running for a much more high profile county-wide office. And I provided some necessary context by stringing all the various allegations together into a single, coherent narrative, so that voters could get a clearer picture of what the Irons family is actually alleging: not simply that he hit his mother, but that he is totally unfit for office.

So what did Darryl discover from these news accounts?

For the most part, Goldy’s story is corroborated. In fact, I am surprised at the consistency, given the way time tends to warp memories.

My point here is not to criticize Goldy for not knowing about these articles. In fact, I find it reassuring that Goldy rediscovered this story and documented it without use of previous media accounts. At the same time, Goldy’s account includes some new angles, eyewitnesses, and relevant new details.

Finally, Goldy did what the MSM did not do in 2003. He brought together many eyewitness stories to document larger patterns of dishonesty and voilence.

Darryl’s research kind of puts my harshest critics in a curious bind, as it’s tough to attack me as a lowlife slimeball for breaking a story that… um… apparently, I didn’t break. As to abusing me for rehashing the story just a few weeks before election day, hey… I’m just some blogger. I think the MSM did voters a public service by jumping all over this story on Friday… but it’s not like I held a gun to their head.

In any case, stay tuned, and keep looking for that other shoe.

by Goldy, 10/22/2005, 1:46 PM

This post is mostly directed at my friends in the media, because I want to set the record straight before editorialists and columnists start chiming in. Yesterday, David Irons Jr. responded to his family’s devastating allegations by charging that this was a dirty trick orchestrated by the Sims campaign, a meme Dori Monson joyously pounded for two hours yesterday… and I want to categorically deny this in the strongest terms possible. If this was a dirty trick, it was my dirty trick… and nobody, nobody tells me what to write. (Which I suppose explains why nobody pays me either.) And so, here is the genesis of this story, in excruciating detail.

As should be clear from reading my post, the impetus for the piece was Joni Balter’s column, which left the writer in me searching for the narrative behind her concise phrase “different family matter.” Balter’s description struck me as a sort of inside joke — a wink and a nod that those in the know would instantly get — but I had never paid much attention to county politics before I stumbled into blogging last year, and so like most of her readers, I had no context. I knew next to nothing about Irons’ past races — I didn’t even know who Brian Derdowski was when I was introduced to him last year.

It was Steve Zemke — the longtime activist, “Whoops” slayer, and fellow Eyman opponent with whom I frequently whine about politics — who first suggested that I should talk to Brian for some background on Irons. It was Steve who dug out Brian’s phone number from the depths of his well stocked rolodex.

As Brian explained on Dori’s show yesterday, I went to him with some broad questions, not really sure where the story was going, and he was more than happy to give me a history of the 1999 campaign, culminating in the Irons/Master Builders smear the night before the absentee ballots dropped. In pursuing this story, I heard some scuttlebutt from council staffers and others about Irons reputation for having an abusive temper, and when I asked Brian for details about the family split, he insisted that this was a story that I would have to get directly from the family… and that he was pretty sure they would be eager to share it with me.

Brian gave me Di Irons’ number, who in turn put me in touch with her parents. Not only did they share the details of their sad and painful story, they expressed disappointment that Balter had not shared it with the public after they had told it to her.

That is the genesis of my post. Nobody pushed it to me. Nobody fed me any easy information. I did some of that journalistic stuff that I really don’t like to do (it’s too much damn work), and that’s how I got the story. To imply otherwise is not only wrong, it diminishes the effort I put into a detailed, 3300-word piece.

Yesterday, Dori made a big deal about Sims campaign spokesman Christian Sinderman telling the Seattle Times on October 14 that “we’re almost in full mudslinging mode.” Oh gimme a break, Dori. Most of you in the media know Christian, and he may be a lot of things, but he’s not stupid. Do you really think his intention was to proudly proclaim that the Sims campaign was about to sling mud? When I read that quote, I just assumed he was talking about the Irons’ campaign. Didn’t you?

When Dori asked if I had been in contact with Christian, I almost replied “no”, which would have been easier and less confusing… but after a momentary stammer I remembered that I had in fact emailed with Christian recently, and had probably mentioned I was working on the story. After Dori’s show I checked my email log, and on Oct 10th, I received a brief email from Christian (my first since May) titled “how are you?” It was a brief catch-up note; he asked me about the Mike Brown story and another unrelated matter… and he also mentioned that he heard I had talked to Di. I replied to all aspects of the email, but on the subject at hand I wrote:

My conversations with the Irons family continue. Yes… an amazingly screwed up family… and I can’t believe the MSM has no interest. David Irons is a pathological liar with a violent temper, but apparently, real journalists like Joni Balter don’t feel this addresses his character sufficiently that voters should be made aware.

To this I got no reply.

How did Christian know I had talked to Di? A lot of people knew I had talked to Di. I was asking around, looking for others to corroborate Irons reputation as a raging bullshitter… you know, interviewing people and stuff… what all you reporters do. And I’m sure I blabbed at the last two Drinking Liberally gatherings, so a bunch of other bloggers and politicos knew what was coming too.

Those of you who know me, also know that I am… well… a bit chatty. I like to talk. It can be tough to get me off the phone. I work from home, where my dog is a crappy conversationalist (“squirrels” this, “dog park” that) and my cat is constantly telling me to kill people. (Bad kitty!) It can get lonely. So I talk.

Anyway, on October 12 I sent another email to Christian, giving him a heads up that a source of mine at Brigadoon.com had also been talking to a reporter from a major media outlet (you know who you are) and that a story should be forthcoming on Irons’ business dealings. Christian replied that the campaign was about to run ads on Brigadoon.

Then on October 18, I sent Christian an email telling him I was preparing to post “Part One of my Irons piece” and asking for his help in confirming the name of some Eastside developer Janet C. had mentioned. (Yes… I had no idea who Skip Rowley was.) But at the same time, I also emailed and phoned the Irons campaign with a list of allegations, asking for comment… so they got the same heads up.

That was the extent of our conversation.

I lay this all out in excruciatingly boring detail, because I want my friends in the press to understand, that if any of you give even a hint of credence at all to Irons’ entirely unsupported assertion that this story originated with Sims campaign, you will be calling me a liar. This part of the story is not one of those he said/she said things… I have presented a detailed report of this story from start to finish, and I trust Steve, Brian, Di, and Janet C. will back me up… whereas David Jr. has pulled his allegation right out of his ass. If any of you lay even a hint of blame on Ron Sims, you better headline the piece “Goldy is a Liar”, because that is essentially what you will be writing.

I may be a lot of things. Maybe I’m a muckraker and a blowhard and an aggressive partisan. But I am not a liar. I’ve worked very hard to overcome the overly solemn institutional reaction to my horse’s ass initiative, and the irreverent domain name that is its legacy. Throughout the election contest I was consistently right on the facts, and both my legal and statistical analyses were proven at trial to be dead on target. And rather than dwelling on past glories (like some bloggers) I have worked hard to up my relevance by breaking important story’s like the Mike Brown fiasco, and now the Irons family feud. For those reporters and editorialists who haven’t met me, go talk to your colleagues who have. I’ve earned my credibility.

And finally, who better to vouch for my character than my own mother, who left the following comment in the contentious thread on the post in question:

Goldy has been so busy researching and writing this blog that he hasn’t had time to talk to his own mother (me) so I decided to read it to see what my son was up to. As a Mom it makes me very nervous for him, to know that in his quest to uncover the truth, Goldy is making enemies as well as converts. I know that my son is not being paid or mentored by any one or any group. (I wish he were for he could use the money) It is his inherent morality, sense of fairness, and determination that in this democracy people should really know who and what they are voting for that drives him. Love, Mom

I can’t really blame Irons for trying to spin this into a story about a Sim’s dirty trick… it’s really the only political option he has to deal with this very damaging story. But this spin just isn’t true. This is his parents story, which I broke through my own initiative and volition. I’m a blogger. That’s what we do.

It is very hard for any executive to win a third term, and Ron Sims is no exception. After nine years in office, Sims has made so many decisions that he’s bound to have pissed off all of us at one time or another. And sometimes, voters just get tired of the incumbent. Hell… even Mario Cuomo, one of the greatest statesmen of the past few decades, was eventually turned out of office by a vastly inferior opponent.

David Irons’ strategy was clear. He left himself undefined, so that voters, tired of Sims, could project onto Irons what they wanted to see. Republican… businessman… “strong” like iron… maybe that’s good enough for a lot of voters itching for a change.

But the risk in leaving yourself undefined, is that somebody might do it for you.

David Jr.’s own mother and father say that he is an ill-tempered liar, who lacks the experience, qualifications and intellect to run this county. So here’s a tip to my friends in the media: if you question the parents’ description of their son, I suggest you talk to some current and former council staffers, and try to persuade them to go on the record.

And we haven’t even started to talk about Brigadoon.com yet.