by Goldy, 04/30/2008, 6:31 PM

KVI host Kirby Wilbur introduced his new property tax initiative yesterday, and man would it save homeowners a lot of money. In fact, when I apply the math to my own house, it looks like my property tax bill would be reduced by a stunning 99.4 percent!

Initiative 1030, Section I(1) reads as follows:

The assessed value of property for all privately owned real property must not exceed the property tax on the same property for the tax year ending December 31, 2008, reduced by thirty percent.

For 2008 I received a property tax bill from King County for a total of $3,953.21 on an assessed taxable value of $433,000… a rate of about 0.91298 percent. So, according to the text of Kirby’s initiative, the new “assessed value” of my property would equal “the property tax on the same property for the tax year ending December 31, 2008″ (that’s $3,953.21), reduced by a further thirty percent. Multiply my new “assessed value” of $2767.25 by my 0.91298 percent levy rate and my tax bill for 2009 would be a somewhat more manageable $25.26.

Talk about putting money back in my pocket. How could I not vote for that?

Perhaps that wasn’t exactly what Kirby intended, but then, perhaps he should have consulted a lawyer before writing, you know… a law.

by Goldy, 04/30/2008, 4:22 PM

A quick follow-up to my earlier post about the Wild Sky wilderness area, and why when it comes to environmental issues, the only thing you need be concerned with is the little “R” or “D” next to a candidate’s name.

Case in point, Rep. Dave Reichert, who managed to generate paragraphs of positive press for himself through his sponsorship of a bill to expand the Alpine Lakes Wilderness area within his home district. The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly and I have a friendly disagreement on this subject. Joel thinks Reichert deserves credit and support for his Alpine Lakes initiative, whereas I think he’s just an insincere poseur, seeking to puff up his environmental credentials in a very green district. But all that’s really beside the point, because when it comes to environmental protection, intentions are much less important than ability.

Reichert sure talks up his environmental credentials, but since introducing his bill back on November 8, 2007, he has managed to secure exactly zero co-sponsors in the House. Zilch. Nada. Bupkis. He hasn’t even persuaded a single Republican colleague to sign on, and it’s not at all clear that he’s even tried. I’d say that speaks volumes both about the seriousness of his efforts to push this bill forward, and his ability to actually do so.

Compare that to Rep. Jay Inslee’s bill to protect roadless areas of our national forests, on which he has managed to garner 149 co-sponsors, including a number of Republicans (not one of which happens to be self-proclaimed environmentalist, Dave Reichert).

Of the 33 bills Reichert has proposed since being elected to the House in 2004, the two-term congressman has managed to pass exactly none; not exactly a record of legislative accomplishment. And as for his supposedly “moderate” voting record on environmental and other issues, Daniel Kirkdorffer at On the Road to 2008 has ably chronicled Reichert’s pattern of joining Republican caucus efforts to block, castrate and scuttle legislation, only to flip his vote once the battle is lost and the local media is paying attention to final passage. (You know, except for ANWR, where Reichert very publicly opposed drilling in numerous procedural votes, and then voted for drilling when it finally mattered.)

But if our local media isn’t reading between the lines of Reichert’s voting record, corporations and special interest PACs are, with oil companies contributing $60,000 to Reichert’s coffers since 2004, and the timber industry giving almost $14,000 this cycle alone. I’m one of those who believe that political money usually follows voting records, not the other way around, but either way it tells you where oil and timber interests think Reichert stands on the environment.

I suppose the best you could say about Reichert’s impact on environmental legislation, serving within a Democratic controlled House, is that he at least appears to be harmless. But if you’re an 8th CD voter who supports a more progressive environmental agenda, you may want to consider electing a representative who is capable of making actual progress.

by Darryl, 04/30/2008, 2:38 PM

Is it acute media silliness or has the Rev. Wright issue now cost Obama the election? Should a prescription for medical marijuana come with a death sentence? Do Americans have something to learn about war from Europeans? (Are we traitors for even contemplating such a thing?). Will Sound Transit take the road less traveled? Is Dino’s fantasy transportation plan going to put him on the fast track to Olympia or board him on a bus back to Bellevue?

Goldy and friends dig into these savory questions over a pitcher of beer at the Montlake Ale House.

Goldy is joined by Geov Parrish, Seattle P-I columnist Joel Connelly. Carl, and Lee.

The show is 55:10, and is available here as a 51.7 MB MP3.


[Recorded live at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally. Special thanks to creators Gavin and Richard for hosting the site.]

by Goldy, 04/30/2008, 12:01 PM

I’ll be on KUOW’s The Conversation today at about 1:30 PM 1:10 PM (?), for what I believe may become a weekly segment of media criticism um… critique. Topics of discussion will include our local media’s deficient coverage of the crackpots at the Discovery Institute, and the incessant trivialization of the presidential campaign.

Here’s a link to the Wedge Document.

Did Eric Earling really attempt to defend discussing Intelligent Design?  I think I’ve lost a little bit of respect for him.

Not my best on-air performance.  I think I need a corded phone and a little less caffeine.

by Goldy, 04/30/2008, 10:14 AM

State Rep. Geoff Simpson (D-47) was arrested over the weekend on a domestic violence charge. He’s just issued the following public statement:

This is an unfortunate situation for everyone involved. The end of a marriage is an emotional and trying time for any family, and mine is no exception.

As a firefighter and first responder, I have witnessed the reality of domestic violence and provided care for many victims.

As a state legislator, I remain strongly in support of erring on the side of protecting potential victims with our laws and their enforcement – even when, in situations like mine, it can result in unwarranted charges. I am confident that once the facts come to light I will be exonerated.

I believe in our justice system and will continue to cooperate fully as this situation is resolved.

The details are sketchy, and I’m told neither Simpson or his ex-wife are talking publicly on the advice of their lawyers, but as I understand it, the arrest came after police were called to the ex-wife’s house while the two were having an argument. No actual physical violence was alleged or observed, but state law apparently provides police officers little discretion under these circumstances, even when all parties involved do not want the arrest to happen.

Or so I’m told.

The acrimonious nature of Simpson’s divorce is no secret, which makes this situation doubly difficult for Simpson even if he were to be completely exonerated. An outspoken progressive representing a swing district, Simpson’s reelection was never expected to be a cakewalk; his arrest will certainly make him one of the state GOP’s primary targets… assuming he continues to run for reelection.

And should he not be exonerated… well, domestic violence is inexcusable behavior, regardless of party affiliation or ideology.

When it comes to jumping into the world of campaign management, our friend Will certainly can pick ‘em. But then, who doesn’t like a challenge.

by Goldy, 04/30/2008, 9:07 AM

Wild Sky Wilderness Area

The dead tree editions of both of Seattle’s dailies feature stories on yesterday’s passage of legislation creating the Wild Sky Wilderness Area, here, here and a rare front page column by Joel Connelly here. Nine years in the making, the bill protecting 106,000 acres in the North Cascades was repeatedly blocked by Republicans until, well, the Republicans finally lost their ability to block the bill, along with their control of Congress.

Creation of the wilderness had been blocked in the House for years by Congressman Richard Pombo, a powerful California Republican who said some of the land wasn’t pristine enough to warrant wilderness protection. But Pombo was unseated in 2006 as Democrats regained a majority in the House, and Wild Sky was revived.

For me, this raises an important point on which Joel and I agree to disagree: that in the current political environment, the most important thing environmentalists need to know about any candidate is the little “R” or “D” next to their name.

Peter Jackson, a Seattle writer, mused over the fact that 117 Republicans in the House voted against the Wild Sky legislation. He is the son of Sen. Henry Jackson, a Democrat who crafted landmark environmental legislation in negotiation with a Republican-run White House.

“We have to convince members of the party of George Bush that they’re also members of the party of Theodore Roosevelt,” Jackson said. “To borrow from a relative of mine, in matters of wilderness, the best politics is no politics.”

Perhaps Dave Reichert really does support Wild Sky—it would have been political suicide for him to oppose it—but he sure as hell didn’t do anything to move it forward when his own party was in control of the process. That’s because the GOP is institutionally opposed to government mandated conservation even on government lands, as evidenced by the majority of House Republicans who still voted against this popular bill despite the obvious futility of their opposition.

Joel is an encyclopedia of Washington state political lore and wisdom, and I don’t doubt his tales of bipartisan cooperation on environmental issues. But that was a different era, and as Peter Jackson points out, a different Republican Party.

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 11:33 PM

Albert Hofmann, the father of LSD, is dead at age 102.  Freaky.

by Darryl, 04/29/2008, 5:37 PM

DLBottleJoin us at the Seattle chapter of Drinking Liberally for an evening of politics under the influence. We meet at 8:00 pm at the Montlake Ale House, 2307 24th Avenue E, although some of us will show up a little early for dinner.

While you’ve got Drinking Liberally in mind, check out the Tri-City Herald‘s write-up of the blogosphere’s newest media darling, Jimmy of McCranium, and the Richland chapter of Drinking Liberally. Better yet, stop by and have Jimmy buy you a beer (or ten) at O’Callahan’s, in the Shilo Inn, 50 Comstock Rd, in Richland.

If the Seattle and Richland chapters are out of your commuting range, check out the Drinking Liberally web site for dates and times of a chapter near you.

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 4:28 PM

Delicious Pigeon

I received an email from a reader complaining that my earlier post about pigeons was in “shockingly poor taste.” (Obviously, a first time reader.)

So in the service of good taste, I offer up this yummy sounding recipe for Glazed Roast Squab.

  • 2 squab, about 12 ounces each
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup cilantro sprigs
  • 2 scallions, finely shredded
  • 2 tablespoons finely shredded ginger
  • 2 tablespoons thin soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon black soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shao Hsing rice cooking wine
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon distilled white vinegar

Remove any fat pockets from the squab. Rub squab with salt. Rinse the squab under cold water and thoroughly pat dry the cavity and skin with paper towels.

In a medium bowl, combine cilantro, scallions, ginger, thin soy sauce, black soy sauce, rice wine, and sugar, and stir to combine. Place half the cilantro, scallions, and ginger in each of the cavities and smear the soy sauce mixture in the cavities and on the outside of the squab. Marinate 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Pour 1/4 cup boiling water into an 8-inch glass baking dish and place the squab breast-side down in the dish, reserving the marinade. Roast 30 minutes and turn the squab breast side up, basting with reserved marinade. Roast 30 more minutes. Baste with marinade in pan and cook 15 minutes more, or until squab are golden brown and just cooked.

Drizzle 1/4 teaspoon of vinegar on each squab. Allow squab to rest 10 minutes before chopping into bite-sized pieces. Serve immediately.

Yes, “squab” is indeed pigeon, and yes, I have eaten squab, and my only real complaint is that they’re too small.

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 2:00 PM

Former Mercer Island mayor Aubrey Davis is no crank, and when it comes to regional transportation issues he sure as hell knows what he’s talking about. I once had the opportunity to watch him moderate a candidate forum on transportation, and there didn’t seem to be a single detail he didn’t have at his fingertips.

So when Davis, also a former chairman of the Washington State Transportation Commission, critiques Dino Rossi’s transportation “plan” as he does in today’s Seattle Times, his is a voice of wisdom and experience that deserves a good listen.

“To stay on track,” Aubrey argues, “we must pursue transportation projects that are affordable, doable and forward-thinking. Dino Rossi’s proposal is none of the above.” And to prove his point he focuses on “two serious flaws” in the Rossi plan: an eight-lane 520 bridge, and the lack of transit options for the East King County.

I spent several years chairing a regional 520 executive committee that produced a very strong east-west consensus on the six-lane alternative with later capability for additional high capacity transit. [...] Engineering studies show that dumping eight lanes of traffic from 520 onto an already congested I-5 and I-405 would virtually shut down both freeways and create gridlock across the region. I-5 and I-405 would become the most expensive parking lots on Earth. Connecting an eight-lane 520 to I-5 and I-405 would be like trying to connect a fire hydrant to a garden hose, and the ones getting wet would be us, the taxpayers.

It has been estimated that billions of dollars in new lanes on I-5 and I-405 would be needed to make this fire hydrant-to-garden hose connection that Rossi proposes even remotely possible. These costs are not accounted for in Rossi’s plan and funding is not available.

And oh yeah… Rossi’s claim he can build an eight-lane bridge for less than the planned six-lane alternative…? Davis says it’s a crock of shit. (Though not exactly in those words.)

The second serious flaw is Rossi’s proposal to “hijack” Sound Transit money currently reserved for Eastside transit, and spend it on state highways instead. Davis says this proposal is not only illegal, but ill-conceived.

By taking money dedicated to East King County light rail and express buses and spending it on highway lanes, Rossi is in effect telling this generation of Eastside residents that light rail and superior bus service aren’t in our future, ever. With our region approaching $4 a gallon gas, we need more transit options, not fewer.

Anyone who has even just peeked across the lake at the massive construction cranes dominating the city of Bellevue’s skyline knows that Bellevue is a city growing toward a 2050 land-use and community vision, not a 1950s automobile-dominated past. With more downtown workers and residents, Bellevue and its surrounding Eastside cities need more transit service, not less. Rossi’s transportation proposal would give East King County 50 more years of the same crowded highways and limited choices for getting to work, school and home.

I know the conventional wisdom was that by pitching a transportation plan—any plan—Rossi would push Gov. Gregoire back on her heels on one of the highest profile issues concerning regional voters today. But I’m pretty confident voters know that they can’t commute to work on promises and pixie dust, and with near universal condemnation and/or ridicule coming from the local media, they now understand that’s exactly what the Rossi “plan” offers.

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 12:15 PM

The Republican National Committee is demanding that MSNBC and CNN refuse to run a new ad from the Democratic National Committee attacking John McCain, calling the ad “maliciously false” and “misleading”… you know, because it is basically a clip of McCain talking in his own words. What a bunch of weiners.

TPM‘s Josh Marshall dissects the dispute in his typically thorough TPM style:

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 11:00 AM

S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Indices

Housing market…? Worst year-to-year monthly decline ever.

There is already a ton of supply. With foreclosures increasing at incredibly high rates supply will obviously increase. At the same time, US consumers are faced with record levels of household debt and payments on that debt, a tanking job market and declining income. In other words, supply and demand of the housing market is seriously out of whack which will lead to declining home prices for the foreseeable future.

Let’s see, a housing market collapse wiping out equity for millions of homeowners, $4.00/gallon gasoline, skyrocketing food prices and falling incomes. Are you feeling better off than you did eight years ago?

I sure hope John McCain continues to campaign on more tax cuts, more deregulation and more war.

by Lee, 04/29/2008, 9:42 AM

I had a bad day on the internet yesterday as I spent some time arguing that Jeremiah Wright won’t be a problem for Obama, while at the same time, Wright was busy becoming a problem for Obama. I don’t have even a fraction of the time today to fully explain how incredibly stupid this man is, so I’ll just point you to Eli Sanders, who does a good job of it.

The biggest problem isn’t the paranoia, the praise of renowned crazyperson and bigot Louis Farrakhan, or even his unwillingness to accept that he has said numerous things that are clearly known to be untrue. The biggest problem is that he keeps insisting that Barack Obama secretly agrees with him, but can’t say so publicly because he’s a politician. At this point, Obama has no choice. He has to do what he said he couldn’t do in his Philadelphia speech, and disown this man and his nutty ideas.

I’ve devoted a lot of my time and energy in blogging to understanding the realities of urban America and to what continues to hold black communities in this country back. I often find myself defending the black community from those who insist that the failures are all within. They’re not. There’s a lot of institutional racism, primarily within our justice system, which perpetuates a systemic inequality. But I find it both sadly ironic and terribly disheartening whenever a man who claims to have the interests of his community at heart can do so much damage to the effort he claims to be a part of. And that’s precisely what Wright is doing.

UPDATE: Obama addresses it:

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama denounced his former pastor in his strongest language to date on Tuesday, saying he was outraged by Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s assertions about the U.S. government and race.

“His comments were not only divisive … but I believe that they end up giving comfort to those who prey on hate,” Obama told reporters.

“Whatever relationship I had with Reverend Wright has changed as a consequence of this,” Obama said.

Thanks to Hannah for posting this in comments.

by Goldy, 04/29/2008, 7:08 AM

The animal rights group PETA is offering a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person who’s been shooting blow darts through the heads of pigeons (which, not surprisingly, doesn’t appear to effect the pigeons’ behavior at all).

What’s next… placing a bounty on the head of Tom Lehrer?

by Goldy, 04/28/2008, 9:35 PM

by Lee, 04/28/2008, 4:19 PM

Timothy Garon is the man I wrote about on Saturday who was denied a liver transplant by the University of Washington Medical Center because he’s a medical marijuana patient, and as a result, will likely die in the very near future. His case will be profiled at 5pm today on KIRO TV. Also, Dominic posts some contact numbers for the hospital and more information on the case over at Slog.

UPDATE: Here’s KIRO TV’s report:

by Goldy, 04/28/2008, 1:30 PM

With gasoline prices projected to climb as high as $10.00 a gallon over the next two to three years, the last thing we should do is give voters another chance to approve an expanded light rail system, because that would be imprudent.  Irresponsible.  A “bad idea.”

Thank God we have the visionaries on the Seattle Times editorial board to protect us from ourselves.

by Goldy, 04/28/2008, 12:00 PM

More head-up-its-ass shameless propaganda from the Bush administration:

As boating season approaches — Opening Day is Saturday in Seattle — the Bush administration wants to enlist the country’s 80 million recreational boaters to help reduce the chances that a small boat could be used in a terror attack.

[...] Today, officials will announce the plan, which asks states to develop and enforce safety standards for recreational boaters and asks them to look for and report suspicious behavior on the water — much like a neighborhood-watch program.

If Sikhs ever start driving water taxis, Homeland Security will be inundated with tips from vigilant boaters.

“There is no intelligence right now that there’s a credible risk” of this type of attack, says Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Thad Allen. “But the vulnerability is there.”

And there is no credible intelligence right now that terrorists are packing explosives up the ass of unicorns in an attempt to exploit vulnerabilities in America’s magical creature infrastructure, but… well… you never can be too careful.

Or, just maybe, if the Bush administration really wants to better protect our safety, they might want to ask boaters to look out for a real and present danger: the beer-swilling, drunken skippers responsible for about a third of our nation’s 700 boating fatalities annually, along with thousands of serious injuries and tens of millions of dollars in property damage. I’m just sayin’.

by Goldy, 04/28/2008, 11:00 AM

I generally like the job that Chris Mulick does, and I love the fact that smaller papers like the Tri-City Herald still maintain an Olympia bureau, but I just gotta call him out for a recent blog post in which he succumbs to the classic journalistic sin of equivalency. Mulick writes:

One of the more amusing aspects to covering campaigns in an election year is digesting all the yelling and screaming political parties intend for public consumption.

A favorite tactic is the missive from one party telling the other party’s candidate what they should do, as if they were playing a high stakes game of Simon Says.

For instance, the state Republican Party issued a press release last week titled “Gregoire Should Denounce Her Presidential Favorite’s Elitist Rhetoric.”

A week earlier the Democratic Party issued a press release titled “Rossi Should Reject and Denounce the BIAW.”

Yeah, no doubt, the two parties routinely do this sort of thing, and it can sometimes get quite silly, but Mulick chose a dubious example to illustrate his point. On the one hand, the state GOP demanded that Gov. Gregoire denounce Sen. Barack Obama for saying that small town voters are “bitter.” On the other, the state Dems demanded that Dino Rossi denounce the BIAW for repeatedly insisting that environmentalists are “Nazis.”

Sure, both parties sent out press releases, but there’s no equivalency between Obama’s statements and the violent, extremist hate-talk of the BIAW… and to imply such is simply irresponsible.

by Goldy, 04/28/2008, 10:21 AM

My dog barks ferociously at passersby, with a kinda cartoonish “let me at ‘em, let me at ‘em” demeanor, as she presses menacingly against a flimsy fence she could easily leap over if she had anywhere near as much bite as bark. No doubt folks walking by my house find it annoying. I find it annoying. But she’s a dog, and defending one’s territory is what they do.

What I don’t get are people, like the guy outside my house right now, who stop in their tracks and angrily scream back at the dog to shut up… which of course, only enrages her further. Stupid fucking humans.