(Just kidding. The Seattle Times‘ David Postman is now the city’s newest political blogger. Now I’m gonna have to start my own newspaper.)
Archives for May 2006
The other day we learned that Republican US Senate candidate Mike McGavick supports amending the US Constitution to prohibit states from recognizing gay marriage… the first time that hallowed document would contain language specifically denying a right.
But the Tacoma News Tribune reports that at this weekend’s annual gathering of the “Mainstream Republicans of WA”, McGavick took the exact opposite approach to the issue of gay civil rights:
McGavick refused to take a position on the gay civil rights bill the Legislature passed this year, saying it’s a state and not a federal issue. The mainstream group supported the bill, which bans discrimination in housing, jobs and other areas.
So, um… let me get this straight: McGavick is for writing discrimination into the US Constitution, but against writing anti-discrimination into WA state law. If the states, through their own legislative and judicial processes choose to confer the right to marriage to same-sex couples, then we need a Constitutional amendment overriding the policy. But when it comes to legislation prohibiting discrimination in housing, employment, insurance and lending… well, that’s a state issue, not a federal one.
Perhaps I’m missing his nuance here, but we’ll never know for sure, because his response was so weasely; McGavick refused to take a position on what for three decades has been one of the most contentious legislative issues in the state — an issue he may be asked to vote on this fall. But in the absence of a clear, honest statement, I think it is fair to view his silence in the context of his prior statements.
McGavick chose to speak out against gay marriage. Given the opportunity, McGavick chose not to speak out in support of gay civil rights.
To me, that speaks volumes about where McGavick stands on this issue, especially given that his comments (or lack thereof) came in the context of a meeting of self-described “moderate” Republicans — an organization of which McGavick made a point of saying he was not a member.
So anybody who still thinks that McGavick is a moderate Republican, I suggest you take him at his word that he is not.
Fuck the Seattle Times editorial board. That’s what I say… fuck ’em.
Generally, I try to be polite to reporters, columnists and editorialists, because I generally like them when I meet them, and because it’s kind of hard to be taken as credible by people who hate me. But fuck ’em anyway.
What I want to know is which one of them has such close ties to Montlake Elementary that they would be prompted to write such an indefensible defense of the CAC’s most blatantly bizarre decision:
Montlake Elementary School is an example. Manhas recommended shuttering the school and dispersing its students, an idea parents resoundingly and reasonably rejected. The current proposal would move Montlake to nearby Seward, keeping students together and a successful academic program intact.
Oh my God, gimme a fucking break!
If anybody has an easy case to make against the CAC’s school closure list, it’s the families of the TOPS program at Seward, who are being totally screwed to accommodate the selfish land-grab of the affluent, politically connected parents at Montlake.
“A successful academic program”…? Montlake isn’t a “program.” It’s a school that attracts wealthy professional class families from the neighborhood… families with the time and money to give their school resources most other schools can only dream of. And yet the district recommended closing it last year due to under-enrollment.
But not this year. No, this year they manage to put a Montlake parent on the CAC, and behold… not only is their school saved, it’s moved into one of the most beautiful facilities in the city, bumping out TOPS in the process, perhaps the most popular and sought after K-8 program in the district. Apparently Montlake also has a representative on the Times editorial board… and I’m more than a little bit curious as to who it might be.
I mean, let’s just look at how fundamentally stupid this proposal really is. According to the CAC’s own capacity analysis, Montlake currently has an enrollment of 247 students, while TOPS is bursting at its seams with 527 students — 6 more than the Seward building’s planned capacity of 521… a building that was specifically modified to accommodate the needs of middle school students.
Yet the CAC proposes moving Montlake into Seward — a facility more than twice the capacity it needs — while the over-enrolled TOPS is moved to Thurgood Marshall, a building with a planned capacity of only 422. To effectively handle the TOPS program in its current form, Thurgood Marshall is going to have to be expanded and renovated at great cost to tax payers, and with great disruption to the students. Yeah… voters are going to be all over that levy, especially after we just spent tens of millions of dollars renovating schools the district now wants to shut down (you know, like the $5.2 million at my daughter’s Graham Hill.)
If the Montlake “program” really needs room to grow, why not just move it to Thurgood Marshall, which is less than a 10 minute drive down MLK, and not much further than Seward? If Montlake’s high test scores are really the result of some special “program” rather than the money and parental involvement that comes from being situated in an affluent neighborhood, then surely it would flourish from its move into the larger (if rundown) Thurgood Marshall building on the edge of the Central District.
No doubt, Montlake’s a good school, its parents’ enormous contributions in time, money and passion are laudable, and there are plenty of good arguments to keep it open. But destroy the TOPS program in the process? That deserves being highlighted in the Times as one of the CAC’s better decisions? What the fuck?!
That alone is enough to completely destroy the Times‘ credibility on the school closure issue — they’re either not paying close enough attention to what is really happening, or they’re purposely spinning their readers. But they nearly top themselves with the following doozy:
The citizens panel appropriately stepped beyond closures to highlight equity issues, namely the scarcity of alternative schools south of the Ship Canal. The schools are popular, innovative and clustered largely in the northwestern section of the city.
And yet the CAC didn’t move a single alternative program into the South End, they didn’t provide a solution to the New School and Orca’s long standing (and long promised) aspirations to become K-8 programs, and they eliminated one of the only truly innovative, alternative programs in the region, the popular Montessori Pre-K through 5 at Graham Hill (not to mention the school’s special ed and autism programs.)
In case you can’t tell, lip service like this just really pisses me off. The Times‘ biased and premature editorial was a disservice to its readers, and a whitewash of a school closure list that is just as inequitable and inexplicable as the first… if different.
The Times should stick to subjects it knows well… like advocating for eliminating all taxes on the families of multi-millionaires. At least there they have their misleading rhetoric down pat.
The Seattle P-I reports today that initiative whore Tim Eyman is counting on evangelical churches to gather the 112,440 signatures he needs to put his anti-gay rights referendum on the ballot.
Though early reports indicated a lackluster response to the measure, Eyman is banking on an eleventh-hour surge from as many as 5,400 churches he hopes will participate in “Referendum Sunday.”
“That means that this weekend nearly 500,000 voters are going to hear about and talk about our effort to get a public vote on House Bill 2661,” Eyman wrote in an e-mail sent to the media and supporters. “They’ll be asked to not only sign the petition, but to take petitions home and fill them up and return them next Sunday.”
Hmm. According to the Washington State Department of Revenue, our state’s churches receive about $44 million in property tax exemptions annually — that’s tax burden that is shifted to ordinary citizens like you and me. But one of the prerequisites for maintaining this not-for-profit status is that these churches must refrain from actively engaging in political campaigns.
If tomorrow, on “Referendum Sunday,” these churches distribute petitions and/or canvass for signatures, or parishioners are instructed to do so, I would say that this would constitute a very real violation of the prohibition on electioneering, and would thus provide clear grounds for suing to have their tax exempt status revoked. Sound heavy handed? Well, no more heavy handed than say, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation’s penchant for filing Public Disclosure Commission complaints against school teachers who distribute political literature on school property.
So I strongly urge all my readers to show a little faith, and go to church tomorrow (focus on those evangelical mega-churches if you can,) and bring along a video camera or other recording device, just in case. And God forbid you find any prohibited political campaigning on church property, drop me an email.
If our state’s churches want to play politics, then they better be prepared to play political hardball.
Anybody who has a question about how Mike McGavick would vote on divisive social issues, take a gander at today’s Kitsap Sun:
He said he’d prefer that states handle the gay marriage issue, but if courts continue to require it be allowed in some places, he’d then vote for a constitutional amendment defining marriage.
Um… the states are handling the issue; all of the court decisions he’s referring to (like the one pending here in WA state) are state court decisions. So what he’s really saying is that if the state legislatures don’t outright ban gay marriage, and the state courts continue to uphold it, then he would vote for a Constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage.
That’s right, Mike McGavick wants to amend the Constitution of the United States to actively deny rights to a class of citizens.
Just thought you’d all want to know.
As was correctly pointed out on NPI’s blog, I was never a knee-jerk supporter of Darcy Burner. I first met her nearly a year ago at Camp Wellstone, and while I personally liked her, and always believed she would make an excellent congressperson, I had legitimate questions about the ability of a novice like her to run an effective congressional campaign.
There would be many important races and initiatives before voters this year, and I was not about to waste either my energy or my credibility aggressively promoting a candidate who could not win. Of course, Burner eventually earned my enthusiastic support, but it was a long time coming. Indeed, as recently as January — even as Burner was proving to be a surprisingly adept campaigner and fundraiser — I contacted a local politician whom I particularly admire, and asked if he/she might consider jumping into the race.
I didn’t hold much hope that Politician X would say yes, but I didn’t quite get the rejection I had expected.
“The truth is that I’m too old to run for Congress,” Politician X wrote me. “It would be a waste of the state’s time.”
Politician X went on to explain that the state needs to embrace a “seniority strategy” like that which has enabled Southern states to dominate our national legislative agenda. We needed somebody in their early to mid 30’s, forty-ish at most, who could eventually grow to be “Norm Dicks’ replacement.”
This very pragmatic strategy certainly made sense at the time — and in fact served to make my support for the 35-year-old Burner even stronger — but its full significance was brought home this week when Knowlegis, a firm serving lobbyists, published its list of congressional “Power Rankings” after months of sifting through legislative records, committee assignments, news articles and other documents.
As might be expected, many of the most powerful congressman and senators are Republican, as that is the party that controls both committee assignments and the legislative agenda, and thus that is party most courted by lobbyists. But not in the WA state house delegation, where, you guessed it… the long serving Rep. Norm Dicks is by far the most powerful congressman in the state.
Republicans Reichert, Hastings and McMorris are middling at best, their ranking pumped up by plumb committee assignments, but with little legislation or influence to show for their efforts. But Dicks, in the minority since 1994, is nonetheless ranked as one of the most powerful men in the other Washington, largely on the basis of his seniority.
There is no doubt that the demographic changes in Washington’s 8th Congressional District favor Democrats over the long run; in fact, it already has become nominally blue. Thus it’s hard to imagine the 50-somethingish Reichert as anything more than a temporary placeholder.
Now is the time to pursue our own “seniority strategy,” and Darcy Burner is the perfect place to start.
I’m busy. So go read Molly, the Liberal Girl Next Door. I don’t always agree with her, but she writes good stuff.
Last night was the regularly scheduled monthly meeting of the Graham Hill Elementary PTA, but we didn’t manage to stick to the scheduled agenda. For only minutes before, the Seattle School District released its preliminary list of recommended closures, and our children’s school — our school — was on it.
I do not think it possible for most of my fellow parents and teachers in attendance last night to fully communicate to the district their sense of shock, disappointment and anger… but I can. I’ve got a soapbox politicians and journalists actually read, and I intend to use it.
So at the risk of being accused of NIMBYism, I want the district to understand in no uncertain terms: NOT MY SCHOOL!
Not this school… not the most racially and ethnically balanced school I’ve ever seen outside of the UN Headquarters’ on-sight pre-school. Not this jewel of the neighborhood… this incredibly tight-nit community of parents and teachers who have struggled through a half-decade of benign neglect from the district to create a school that would be the pride of all but the most affluent suburban districts.
Not this parent-driven experiment in education that could be used as a model for innovation, but instead is being tossed on the dung heap because district officials never bothered to take the time to understand its programs and its community.
Graham Hill Elementary is home to the district’s first and only pre-K through 5 Montessori program — essentially, a charter school within the school, but without all the unnecessary, politically destructive bullshit of the charter schools movement.
It may come as a surprise to many Seattle families that they even have a Montessori option. And considering the total lack of support we’ve received from the district in recent years, I’m guessing it might come as a surprise to some district officials as well.
But what won’t come as a surprise to educators and parents who have studied the literature or have an iota of real-world classroom experience is that those children who pass through Graham Hill’s pre-K program are incredibly more prepared to learn, at all grade levels, than their schoolmates who did not.
But all this is lost on a district that bases its decisions on demographics and statistics and goddamn WASL trends rather than the heart and the mind and thoughtful observation. 60 percent of Graham Hill students qualify for free or reduced price lunch, and nearly 20 percent qualify for English as a Second Language (ESL). This is not an easy population to educate, and our test scores reflect the many challenges of our students. But by looking only at our numbers and our address the district has always only viewed Graham Hill as “just another South End school,” oblivious to our unique educational offerings, and our incredibly strong and diverse community of families.
Why close Graham Hill instead of more obvious choices like the struggling programs at Dunlap or Ranier View, or the aging building at Van Asselt? Well, apparently, we’re just another South End school, so what’s the difference?
The difference is the parents. While many South End schools struggle to get any parental involvement at all, Graham Hill boasts one of the largest and most active PTA’s in the district. Out of a current enrollment of 360 students, we have 113 paid PTA members, plus many other non-paying members who routinely volunteer their time. Despite the preponderance of low-income families we manage to raise nearly $40,000 a year to pay for basic services, supplies and amenities the district no longer covers, as well as fund tuition scholarships to the pre-K program.
My daughter, now finishing up third grade, has attended Graham Hill since she was three years old, and during that time the district built a beautiful $4.8 million addition that they now want to scrap. It was during that time that parents took the expanse of broken asphalt that surrounded the building, and through $400,000 worth of fundraisers and grants — and a helluva lot of backbreaking labor — we transformed the schoolyard into gardens and playgrounds and a play field that is now used by the entire community.
Just last Saturday I spent hours laying pavers, putting the final touches on a playground studded with our children’s artwork, that the district now wants shutter. No other school in the South End could have done what we have done at Graham Hill, especially under the circumstances we endured.
For we have not only been the victims of benign neglect, we have been royally screwed by a district that has left us leaderless for most of time my daughter has been there.
Graham Hill has had 9 principals over the past 6 years… and they want to shut us down because of low test scores? I don’t want to hear anybody on the CAC telling me that our school is failing… for it is the district who has failed us, year after year after year!
It was with trepidation that we toured the school 7 years ago, but we were won over by a fabulous principal who had overseen a transformation at Graham Hill during her nine-year tenure. But between the day we enrolled our daughter and her first day of class, the district, in its wisdom had transferred our principal to another school, leaving Graham Hill virtually leaderless ever since.
Every time a principal leaves, be it due to sexual harassment or incompetence or personal health, the parents and teachers of Graham Hill have pleaded with the district to give us a voice in choosing the next principal… and nearly ever time the district just plugs in whoever is most convenient for them.
After the most recent disaster — the sudden resignation of a principal the teachers adamantly didn’t want, and who through mismanagement and neglect left our school budget in tatters and yet another interim principal “in charge” — we had an angry meeting with District Education Director Walter Trotter, at which he promised to make up for the lack of support and attention Graham Hill has received. In a follow-up letter signed by Raj Manhas, the superintendent assured us that “meeting current and future school leadership needs of the Graham Hill community is a top priority for both Mr. Trotter and me.”
Priority my ass!
There is no question that a round of school closures is long overdue in a district that has seen decades of steadily declining enrollment. But as they prepare to cut the heart out neighborhoods throughout the city, I hope that Superintendent Raj Manhas and his advisors give some serious thought not just to reacting to declining enrollment, but to considering its causes. For if today’s list of proposed school closures is any indication, educated middle and professional class parents will continue to flee the district in ever larger numbers while our schools continue their seemingly inexorable return towards 1950’s style segregation.
That is what is going to happen to the core of the Graham Hill Community, the families who have fought to maintain this program through years of district neglect. Many of us can afford to move to suburbs or even to send our kids to private schools. But we choose to live in the South End, and we chose Graham Hill because we wanted our children to grow up in a diverse and balanced community that is more reflective of the outside world.
But these are our children, and we’re only willing to put up with so much shit.
Should the district close Graham Hill, many of us will leave the district, and some the neighborhood. This will be yet another step towards the ghettoization of the South End schools, a process that hurts all our children.
I can and will write much more on this subject, but I’m volunteering in my daughter’s school this morning. While she still has one.
I’ve long appreciated The Stranger for its stable of quirky, entertaining writers. But I gotta say that with this week’s feature on the Bush administration’s domestic spying programs (“Using the F-Word“), they sure have upgraded the talent level over that boring blogger guy they had writing this time last year.
Really. Give it a read. It’s good stuff.
If Republican challenger Mike McGavick manages to win election to the US Senate, I’m guessing he’s in line for a plum assignment on the Budget Committee, what with the creative accounting skills he’s demonstrating in his own campaign.
Yesterday The Stranger’s Josh Feit broke the story of how McGavick dramatically inflated his campaign’s financial health at the end of the much-watched first quarter reporting period, and today the Seattle P-I’s Neil Modie adds a few details. As it turns out, McGavick erroneously reported $896,261 cash-on-hand when he only had $748,975.
So how’d he manage this impressive sleight of hand?
McGavick spent over $266,000 on a TV advertising blitz in the final weeks of March, but only reported $119,000 during the quarter. FEC rules require advertising expenses to be reported when the contract is booked, but as Feit explains, McGavick used the unusual 30-day terms he received to improperly push much of the expense off into the second quarter.
The idea that a campaign could buy political ads on credit shocks people who are familiar with political advertising. For starters, credit, by definition, is a loan. Traditionally, loans need to be reported in campaign-finance reports. No account of a loan for the TV buy appears in McGavick’s report. “Buying on credit would be very peculiar. It can be considered an in-kind contribution. So stations have campaigns pay in advance,” says Catherine Herrick, a longtime political media buyer in Washington, D.C. who owns the firm Buying Time. (Her clients include the Democratic National Committee.) “I can understand it with a corporate client, but it’d be perplexing for a station to do that with a political campaign.” Herrick’s point is that political campaigns are based on fundraising. How does a TV station know a campaign is going to meet its fundraising goals? Obviously, some candidates are richer than others, and are good for it
It was a special, bipartisan edition of Drinking Liberally last night, as we welcomed King County Journal reporter and self-described righty Don Ward to the podcast. Don comments as "Reporterward" (get it?) on HorsesAss.org and (un)Sound Politics, and happily reports that none of us liberals smell. Well… except for Will.
Joining me, Don and Will in our weekly game of "Left, Right and Joel" were Mollie, Carl, and Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly, who has lost his designation as a "special guest" by pretty much becoming a regular. Topics of discussion included Bush’s plan to demilitarize our borders by sending troops there, what’s the matter with Spokane, vote-by-mail, and the blog wars.
Republicans have reached a new low in the current Washington Post/ABC News poll. Voters now overwhelmingly prefer Democrats to deal with gas prices, health care, education, the budget, the economy, protecting privacy, Iraq, immigration, taxes and terrorism.
But all’s not lost for the GOP. Voters still prefer Republicans by a comfortable margin when it comes to making arrangements to bring in the hookers.
The Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally meets tonight (and every Tuesday), 8PM at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E. Please join us for cheers, jeers and beers as we discuss this week’s political happenings.
I’ve been on a deadline all day, so I’m real thirsty.
And if you happen to be a liberal drinker on the other side of the mountains, the Tri-Cities chapter of DL also meets Tuesday nights, 7 PM, Atomic Ale, 1015 Lee Blvd., in Richland. Go ask Jimmy for more details.