So we’ve captured a cold-blooded killer with ties to an organization with a history of terrorism who now says that there are a number of other active plots around the country. When do we start waterboarding Scott Roeder?
Archives for June 2009
I wasn’t trying to be mean to Jan Drago in writing yesterday about her less than exciting public speaking performance. Not every politician is great a public speaker, just like not every talk radio host wields Dave Ross’s mellifluous baritone. Given her inability to differentiate herself from Mayor Greg Nickels on values and issues, I just don’t think she has what it takes defeat the incumbent, and, well, I calls ’em as I sees ’em.
But rather than hearing from angry Drago supporters, the most defensive comment in the thread came from Mike McGinn booster Craig, who objected to my focus on Drago and mention of Joe Mallahan while ignoring the McGinn campaign entirely:
On the other hand, Michael McGinn has stood up and challenged the political status quo (NO tunnel!), has dedicated his life to our City and his beliefs (fighting RTID, leading the Green Legacy Coalition to develop and pass last years Parks levy, serving as the local Sierra Club leader, founding Great City and serving on numerous City boards, commissions and oversight groups), has a vision for our city and understands what it takes to get it done (better schools, improved transit service and technology infrastructure), and, most importantly, has a fast-growing base of dedicated volunteers (what really wins elections). He’s also got the whole “smart, articulate and positive thing going” as well.
Let’s start talking about the real buzz in this year’s campaign, Michael McGinn.
Okay Craig, if you insist, let’s talk about the “real buzz” surrounding McGinn, which unfortunately for him has so far centered around his anemic campaigning.
Yeah, sure, whatever buzz Mallahan has (if any) is entirely self-financed, but if McGinn has all this organizing experience and grassroots support working for him, why hasn’t he translated it into a little do-re-mi of his own? By my estimates McGinn has raised a little more than $30,000 from less than 150 contributors, a pretty pathetic total after three months of campaigning.
No, politics isn’t all about the money, nor should it be, but fundraising can be a useful measure of both a candidate’s political competency and support. And what does it say about a challenger who made his mark as a leader in the environmental community when most of the major environmental endorsements are going to his opponent?
Successfully running for office, especially against an entrenched incumbent, is a near full time job, yet the last couple times I saw McGinn, he was just out riding his bike. Not doorbelling, not fundraising, not working the crowd, just out enjoying the sunshine and riding his bike. Good for him, I suppose. It’s a healthy passtime. But with that kinda political work ethic, I don’t think that’s a buzz you hear coming from his campaign, Craig, but rather the hiss of the air slowly escaping from McGinn’s political tires.
Again, I’ve got nothing against the guy. I just calls ’em as I sees ’em.
The Seattle Times has a piece today about “Seattle’s confusing parking meters: Pay to 6 p.m., get towed at 3,” giving voice to outrage over the always unpopular parking enforcement folks and their evil plot to trick unsuspecting drivers into getting their cars towed.:
Many merchants on this block believe tourists or those simply unfamiliar with downtown streets are being hit the hardest by the tows, thanks in part to pay stations that allow drivers to purchase parking through 6 p.m., despite signs that say otherwise.
Merideth Meador, a bookkeeper at a First Avenue architecture book and supply shop, has seen it all before.
“They like to say, ‘Well, I put my money in. That means I should be fine.’ We have to explain to them that that’s not necessarily true,” she said.
Except, um… how is this any different from the old coin operated meters? They’d accept your money any time of the day… nights, weekends, holidays, whenever.
I mean, if the signage is insufficient, that’s one thing. But the fact that the meters continue to accept your money even after 3PM, well, they always did that.
Danny Westneat says that there’s a “buzz” coming from political newcomer Joe Mallahan in the mayor’s race. I haven’t met Mallahan yet, but folks I trust tell me he’s a personable guy and not a bad public speaker.
As it turns out, there was also a buzz at last night’s Progressive Majority fundraiser during Jan Drago’s brief speech, but unfortunately for her, it wasn’t coming from Drago herself. Rather it was the buzz of audience members quietly talking amongst themselves as they lost interest in Drago’s words.
I had the opportunity to meet Drago for the first time last night, and we had a lovely conversation… a much more comfortable conversation than I tend to have with elected officials upon first meeting, especially those about whom I haven’t always written kindly. I came away genuinely liking her, at least about as much as one can come away liking a person after a fifteen-minute conversation, and I can understand why her supporters like her too.
But after watching her less than dynamic performance in front of a friendly, alcohol lubed crowd, I have to stand by my previous analysis:
The dilemma for the challengers is this: how do you defeat a competent, scandal-free mayor whose values you share, and whose policy agenda you largely support? You beat him by being a better politician.
And that’s why I’m convinced that none of the challengers in this race, not even Drago, can beat Mayor Nickels, for as vulnerable as he is, and as grating as his style obviously can be, none of his opponents possess the force of personality necessary to get voters excited about change.
Drago struck me as likable enough and all that, but she just doesn’t seem capable of generating sufficient buzz to toss out the incumbent, however low his approval numbers. And while her 16 years on the council no doubt leave her well qualified for the office, it’s hard to see her dynamically selling the pitch to disgruntled voters that what we really need now is an infusion of old blood.
As for Mallahan, perhaps he really can generate that kinda buzz. I dunno. Then again, we tend to set an awfully low bar around here when it comes to exciting politicians, so perhaps he just comes off as buzzy compared to the rest of a less than exhilarating field?
BTW … my Google must be fucked up as it seems not to be able top find these posts you claim I mad as Charlie Kee.
FWIW, I did once know someone by that name. He was a Captain in the Navy Medical Core. I may have mentioned him in some post, but I do not remember.
Here’s the comment from September where you admitted to being Charlie Kee. Does that refresh your memory, you lying douchebag?
I’m a big fan of neighborhood schools.
I grew up in a relatively affluent, suburban school district where nobody chose their schools, you just went to the one nearest your house. And I can’t tell you how convenient and comfortable it was to be able to walk to school from kindergarten through ninth grade.
That’s why the close proximity to Graham Hill Elementary was such an attractive amenity when, six month old baby in tow, we bought our house. For seven years, starting in pre-school, my daughter walked to and from school without even crossing a street, and there’s something special about being part of school community when that community is centered in your immediate neighborhood.
In 2006, when Graham Hill inexplicably found itself on the closure list, I joined with other parents to fight hard to save our neighborhood school, and against the closure process in general. And while Graham Hill was ultimately spared, and went on to thrive over the past few years, I sympathize deeply with families at other schools who were not so fortunate.
And so I read with interest the editorial in today’s Seattle Times—a paper that has strongly advocated in favor of school closures—arguing in favor of plans to redraw boundaries and limit school choice, not only as an effective cost-cutting measure, but also as a means of supporting and promoting neighborhood schools:
Set to take effect fall 2010, it offers a comfortable level of predictability and efficiency. Neighborhood schools, as opposed to citywide busing, offer cohesion and a level of intimacy among families. It allows schoolmates to move through the system together. Most parents would find the prospects of play dates and after-school activities easier to manage if their assigned school were practically within walking distance.
But in supporting an assignment plan that would limit choice and force more families into their neighborhood schools, the Times glosses over the circumstances that lead parents to inconveniently ship their kids halfway across the city in the first place: the gross inequity between schools from one neighborhood to another. Where I grew up, nobody chose their school; what would be the point when they’re all equally excellent? But as even the Times points out, that’s far from the case in Seattle:
The superintendent must make good on her promise to improve the quality of the city’s 90-some schools, particularly struggling ones in the Central Area and South End. The proposed plan’s foundation rests on the assumption that most families will accept their neighborhood school assignment. For that assumption to bear out, those schools must be academically up to par.
No, for the vast majority of families to accept neighborhood school assignment, their schools must not just be academically “up to par,” they must be equally excellent. And this simply cannot be accomplished unless the district, amongst other things, invests significantly more money per student in Central Area and South End schools than it does in those in more affluent northern neighborhoods.
Why do some schools require more money than others? Partially because their children are more expensive to educate. For example, during the years my daughter was at Graham Hill Elementary, the student population was about one third ESL and nearly two-thirds free and reduced price lunch. Children of immigrant and other poor and working class families simply face more challenges than children of affluent professionals, and generally have fewer resources to fall back on. And while school funding formulas do target extra money toward at risk and special needs children, it’s not enough to make up the difference.
But there’s another factor responsible for the growing disparity between individual Seattle schools, one which nobody seems to want to talk about: the growing reliance on PTSAs in affluent neighborhoods to fund the services the district can no longer afford to provide. At some North End schools PTSAs routinely raise over $1,000 per student per year to fund “extras” like art, music, tutors, teachers aides and other amenities (even, it appears, to reduce class size); indeed, upon taking the tour of Tops K-8, the guide explicitly told prospective parents that since admission would save us the cost of private school tuition, those of us who could afford it would be expected to cough up the difference accordingly. Meanwhile, some Central and South End schools barely manage to raise a few thousand dollars a year total, if they have an active PTSA at all.
Think about it. A working class South End family lucky enough to win assignment to, say, Stevens Elementary, will see their children benefit from all the amenities the generally affluent parents of their Capitol Hill classmates can afford to provide. So why wouldn’t they be tempted to bus their kids halfway across the city? Meanwhile, those affluent families at Graham Hill—and there are some—know that their generous PTSA contributions on their own can never amount to enough to provide the whole school the sort of services and benefits afforded their North End counterparts. Rather than tutors and teachers aides, we could merely raise enough money to pay for field trips, assemblies, classroom supplies and little extras like that.
Seattle does not enjoy (or suffer from) the same sort of racial and socio-economic homogenity of the suburban Philadelphia school district of my youth (Lower Merion, in case you’re wondering), let alone that of Mercer Island or Bellevue, so I understand that 100-percent equity is not an achievable or even necessary goal. Seattle has done a wonderful job rebuilding and renovating schools, putting most on an even footing in terms of physical plant, thus most parents would happily choose their neighborhood school as long as its program is somewhat comparable to those offered in other neighborhoods. But we will never come close to that level of equity as long as we rely on PTSAs to pay for services that should be standard across the district as a whole.
Yes, promoting neighborhood schools is an admirable goal, as is the efficiency and cohesion that comes with it, but there are downsides as well, not the least of which being the continued racial and socio-economic resegregation that is already proceeding apace. If the Superintendent eliminates choice without first resolving the academic and funding disparities that already make busing such an attractive alternative for so many families, she will only widen the existing inequities between neighborhood schools, not narrow them. And that can only create the kind of unfair and untenable circumstances that led to our existing inefficient and “Byzantine” assignment rules in the first place.
The proprietor of Politics is a Blood Sport gets the chance to visit with Dr. Dean at the Clark County JJ Dinner.
Hard core Deaniacs will remember his “What I want to know” speech from 2003. Little remembered from that speech was Dean’s repudiation of Nixon’s Southern Strategy, and the use of coded language to divide the electorate along racial lines. I asked Governor Dean if the 2008 cycle was a direct repudiation of the Southern Strategy, and he agreed, pointing to elections in Alabama and Mississippi that Democrats were winning. In other words, it’s not just the election of Obama that signals the end of the Southern Strategy.
What put the nail in the coffin of the Southern Strategy was the younger generation. They’re multi-cultural, adept with technology, and they reject the politics of confrontation. It’s an astute observation and one that Gen-X’ers like myself need to reconcile with.
Dean’s main focus now, of course, is health care reform. You can check out Stand With Dr. Dean for more info.
Max Blumenthal in Jerusalem interviewing young people (mostly American Jews) as they partied the night before Obama’s Cairo speech:
Scott Sunde has the latest on Marc Emery’s deal to leave Canada and plead guilty to federal drug charges in Seattle. The circus is set to take place sometime this summer.
Joni Balter warns Susan Hutchison and Jan Drago that they shouldn’t expect an automatic leg up simply by virtue of their gender, arguing that “Washington voters are too smart for that.” And while I only partially take issue with her thesis (gender will help them stand out in a primary field of men, but won’t do them much good in the general), it was this paragraph that caught my attention:
Seattle and King County are politically sophisticated places. As the only state with two female U.S. senators and a female governor, Washington is the most progressive state in the country when it comes to electing women. Year after year, the state ranks near the top of the list for highest percentage of women elected to the Legislature.
True, sorta. But the trend doesn’t look so encouraging for women these days, particularly at the legislative level.
Washington did indeed rank first in the percentage of women legislators from 1993 through 2004, reaching a high of 40.8 percent (60 out of 147) in 1999 and 2000, but has been trailing off ever since. In 2009 Washington is down to only 48 women legislators, or 32.7 percent, still good for sixth place nationally, but our lowest percentage since 1991.
I asked National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington President Linda Mitchell about the drop-off, and she says that the biggest hurdle to electing more women is recruiting more women candidates:
“We still have a long way to go toward equal representation of women in our elected bodies and one of the biggest problems is that more women are not running for office. Another example, of the nineteen Seattle City Council candidates this year, only two are women. Well-qualified women often choose not to run because they don’t think they are qualified enough, they lack the money networks, and because they don’t have enough support and encouragement.”
And it doesn’t sound like Mitchell thinks Balter’s characterization of the candidates and their races does much to help the cause:
“I disagree with Balter’s assessment of these two candidates. Hutchison is not “riding on her gender by sitting out public forums”, it’s her huge name familiarity. Drago is not “counting on gender politics for a win”, but on a different leadership style – and polling indicates she’s not off-base. I give both women credit for running and hope we can find ways to encourage more women to do so.”
There is this commonly repeated notion that being a woman confers some sort of electoral advantage in Washington state—a notion that Balter ironically reinforces through her “voters are too smart” refutation—when in fact the numbers clearly say otherwise. Women make up slightly over half the electorate, and consistently turn out in higher numbers than men, yet now comprise less than one third of our state legislature, and one ninth of our US House delegation.
Sure, as Balter points out, the top three elected statewide offices are currently held by women, but this is the exception, not the rule. Indeed, over our state’s 120 year history, we have elected only two women to the governor’s mansion, two to the US Senate and seven to the US House. And of the seven remaining women to have won statewide executive office, four of these served as Superintendent of Public Instruction, primary education long being a profession stereotypically deemed suited to women.
Forgive me for not showing my math, but I’m pretty damn sure that if “female contenders somehow get a leg up”, we’d be electing more women than men to office, not substantially less. So obviously, Joni, there’s no need to “bristle” at an assumption that clearly doesn’t hold true.
The Seattle P-I’s Joel Connelly writes about the rush of local politicians scrambling to take credit for light rail ahead of next month’s inaugural ride, sparking bemused (and deserved) condescension from The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes:
Seattle’s first light rail line – yes, you read that right, it’s only taken the Emerald City 23 years to catch up with Portland – will start service in just 43 days. And it’s a big issue in local politics, with everyone jostling to claim credit.
As Mapes points out, the long debate over the high initial cost of investing in rail vs. bus service may never end, but… “if Portland serves as an example, once this train gets going, it will have a lot of momentum.”
It’s one kind of crazy to believe these sort of things, as many Republicans obviously do, but it’s an entirely whole new level of crazy for a sitting US Senator to come out and say it.
Sen. Jim Inhofe said today that President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo was “un-American” …
“I just don’t know whose side he’s on,” Inhofe said of the president.
Good thing for Inhofe the Sedition Act was repealed in 1920.
“Father McKenzie wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave.
No one was saved.”