Several school and fire districts across the state are having levy and bond elections Tuesday. If you live somewhere holding an election, your ballot should have come in the mail a while ago. You can check what districts are holding elections for King County here. I couldn’t fine a statewide list, but will happily add one if someone knows about it.
Erica C. Barnett, News Editor at Publicola.net
Riz Rollins, DJ at KEXP
Sally Clark, Seattle City Councilmember
Lindy West, Writer for The Stranger
Name and a job title. Simple. But when it gets to Goldy:
David Goldstein, HorsesAss.org
I would have gone with writer. Or if whoever wrote that was feeling ambitious, publisher. But I guess not. Anyway, come on down and say hi to him and to me (I’ll be paying like the rest of you).
A few months ago, I wrote that Seattle should elect our city council by districts. Hey, maybe I’d know who represented me instead of it being everyone and no one. But as the legislative session started, I wondered why all of the Seattle legislators seem so willing to go along with the cost overruns provision of the tunnel. not to mention their support of this project that will increase traffic on surface streets downtown and eliminate the downtown exits (making my bus ride through the free ride area longer, as well as making it tougher to drive around). Surely the people who represent Downtown should join the mayor and should lead the effort to oppose the tunnel, or at least the cost overruns.
But if you look at the districts, it turns out nobody really represents downtown. The urban core is split into 3 districts. So the 36the represents the Northern part of Belltown, but its legislators represent Ballard, so it’s sort of understandable that they’d support the tunnel (even though I’m not sure it’s as good for Ballard as advertised; if people want to go from Ballard to Downtown, a tunnel sans exits doesn’t exactly help).
The 37th represents Pioneer square and SoDo, and while there’s no real reason for the legislators from the 37th to support the tunnel, their district sprawls pretty far South. So I can understand why they wouldn’t think of downtown issues as their issues.
The space between Belltown and Pioneer Square is represented by Capitol Hill legislators in the 43rd District. Those legislators should worry about what losing capacity on 99 will do to I-5 (I do too,and I’m a big supporter of Surface/Transit/I-5). If done right, S/T/I-5 could get significant numbers of people out of their cars. But if done wrong (basically not investing in transit or improvements to I-5), it could clog I-5, and push a lot of cars to the surface streets. And if we’re honest, the anti Seattle legislature could easily not do things right. I understand their pushing the extra cars on the surface to downtown as opposed to further East.
So I sort of get why no legislator has taken the lead in opposing the tunnel and the cost overruns provision. The most logical people to oppose them also represent neighborhoods with the most potential downside to the tunnel alternatives. And the other districts that will be hurt by a tunnel also represent a significant portion of non-downtown Seattle.
And while the tunnel is the most conspicuous issue, there are quite a few issues in the legislature that effect downtown residents, and where nobody really takes the lead. So there isn’t a legislator who’s taking the lead on the state parts of McGinn’s nightlife initiatives. And while we’ve got some good legislators on public transportation, density, and biking, it’s decidedly a mixed bag.
This could be improved by anchoring a district in the urban core. It seems to me that most of the people who live in the large chunk of blocks where you pay for parking (pdf), or at least most of the contiguous ones, share a common set of needs from the legislature that people in largely single family homes further from the urban core don’t.
And I know that any redistricting is going to make legislative seats that is cut some neighborhoods, or cities in strange ways; there are only so many ways to cut up the map. Still, there are 2 districts that represent Greenlake (43rd and 36th), and those same 2 districts also represent Belltown. So there is room for improvement. Combining the parts of the 36th, 43rd, and 37th districts that constitute the urban core would give downtown residents a voice in Olympia we don’t have now.
This post has been corrected because I mislabeled one of the districts.
I know you have a busy schedule of trying to figure out ways to kill Washingtonians for want of basic social services. Still, I can’t believe that you aren’t speaking to the Mayor of the largest city in the state? Really? Because he said the untrustworthy things you did made it tough to trust you?
I mean, the man has said he’s willing to meet you much more than half way on the Viaduct replacement. He has said OK to a deep bore tunnel that he hates. He’s said OK to the loss of downtown exits. He’s said OK to figuring out how to pay for the city’s portion of the costs. He’s said OK to everything except the cost overruns on the state portion of the project. The fact that you can’t meet him there, and refuse to talk to him at all strike a terrible cord.
And look, I understand your disagreements. I certainly didn’t like his opposition to Roads and Transit. Yes, it worked out in the end, but I agreed with you: the risks were too high. But he said he’d be back with a transit only proposal, and by God he was. And that’s the rare thing that I think a lot of people miss about McGinn, he’s shockingly honest. He’s put out what he’d want and what he’s willing to compromise to, and it’s pretty far. He’s told you exactly how you can get this tunnel that you want done, and there’s no reason to believe that if you go along with him on the cost overruns and find ways that it doesn’t clog up city streets, that he’d be right there with you like he says.
And I know you feel like you’ve compromised too. Your favorite position was to replace the Viaduct with another, much larger, viaduct. So you feel that this tunnel and the money you’ve already appropriated to Seattle is enough. But you punted on replacement, called a vote, and lost. So now you’re stuck with a backup that I know you moved to, but it’s not the best way to move people around Seattle.
Maybe I and people like me are a bit to blame here too. After the quake, my main concern was to do something, almost anything, because I don’t want to die in an earthquake. Like McGinn, I preferred a surface/transit/I-5 option, but unlike him, I thought I would have been fine with whatever emerged. It turns out that despite my assumption that y’all in Olympia are out to get Seattle, I didn’t think you would go with whatever Bruce Chapman pulled out of his ass and then demand that we pay for any cost overruns, no matter if they were the state’s fault.
And this plan was so bad for Seattle that the city voters dumped our mayor in the primary and ultimately supported the person who was skeptical of it. There were other reasons Nickels lost, of course: It snowed a lot the year before the election. People didn’t like his support of light rail or opposition to the monorail. But his championing of an unpopular tunnel and saying trust Olympia that it would all work out gave a lot of people a reason to give him the boot. Seattle doesn’t trust the state.
We don’t trust Olympia when you take more money from Seattle than we put into state coffers and then tell us how generous you are. We don’t trust Olympia when you pander to people who hate Seattle by putting in a bullshit cost overrun provision. We don’t trust you when you take away all downtown exits, and tell us how the project is for Seattle drivers. We don’t trust Olympia when you go out of your way to pander to a car culture when many of us take the bus or take light rail or bike.
Perhaps you can earn back Seattle’s trust. I guess the next session is a good place to start. Fix the problems with the tunnel, talk to the mayor who respects the city and its citizens; don’t pretend that Richard Conlin is a reasonable substitute. I’m proud to have voted for you twice, but please stop bashing my city.
… but I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that Shaun is also having one. His blog was one of the first I read when I started writing, and at some point I realized he had also been on the opposite side of my local district from me in our shared past. And while we’ll continue to disagree about some specifics, I’m glad he and I are on the same side when the primary or whatever other battle within the party is over. Shaun is a smart, engaging writer, and locally we’re blessed to have him around. He talks about issues relating to the part of suburbia where I grew up, and I don’t get that much even from other local blogs.
So, until we can figure out a better way than begging, local bloggers have to stick together. And writing a blog, especially one like Upper Left where there are several worthwhile posts a day, and it’s almost entirely Shaun (Darryl and I and a few others have done fill in, but it’s all Shaun on almost any given day) who also has a day job is no small accomplishment.
Money is tight here, and I didn’t give as much as I would have liked (my car recently died, and despite all my talk of biking, I still do need a car sometimes, so that was a large unexpected expense). But I hope some of you will pitch in, and all of you will read him. Even though if there’s a primary in North King County, he may well be on the wrong side of it.
While Goldy enjoys a warmish day on the East Coast, it’s freezing here. I’ve heard some horror stories about the commute last night, but in general, this isn’t as bad as 2 years ago. Given how much of a surprise it was that it was as bad as it was, the response was pretty good overall.
I took my bike most of the way into work before my boss called and said not to come in. Most of the roads seemed well plowed this morning, and it was more slush than snow. Light rail is still going fine. If 2 years ago was snowpocalypse, then this year is more snowpoc-eh-lypse.
By happy coincidence, the new Speaker of the House and much of the Republican leadership of the House represent districts in swing states. And while their districts likely will remain safe after redistricting, I hope the Democrats spend the time recruiting candidates and spend the money running ads against Republican leadership.
This accomplishes a few things: first it pushes them to moderate their stances. If they know there will be a serious challenge from people to their left, they’ll have to think before kowtowing to the teaparty activists in their midst. So perhaps we’ll see awful legislation turned slightly less awful if the people charged with passing it through the House fear for their own seats.
It also means we can play offense in states that Obama is going to need to carry. Every crazy bill passed through the House gets a nice ad in Ohio and Virginia calling it out, and lays blame on Boehner and Cantor. We get to have a conversation about the awful things the republicans do in areas of those states that perhaps don’t often have those conversations. This will help Obama win in Ohio by having a conversation, by getting media for the Democrat’s position, and if the downticket races look competitive recruit volunteers.
Best (although least likely) of all, we might pick up some seats. Yes, Boehner got 2/3 of the vote last year. But every district in the country gets redistricted, so last cycle’s results are only so telling. And Democrats haven’t given these districts a test in a long time, so it’s not as out there as you might think.
One of the best feelings in politics comes after a close win where you put in a lot of effort. So when I look at the results in the Senate race, I’m proud to have made a difference. Those phone calls, that getting people to commit to vote, that push for more volunteers. It made people fill out their ballots. We rocked turnout in King County.
You could see the effort put into the ground for Senator Murray at the coordinated campaign. Many times, I was put in a corner on a cell phone to make calls because there were so many people they’d exhausted all the lines and all the good seats. And despite overwork and a lack of sleep, an upbeat staff always had work for me. I’ve volunteered for a lot of campaigns since before I could vote, and this was one of the ones I most looked forward to going to every time.
In a close election everything was important, and Patty’s commitment to her volunteers certainly helped. It’s also nice to have a candidate you support, rather than just a candidate who is better than that other one. One of my favorite calls was from someone who said he was, “so glad you aren’t another Karl Rove robocall” who on top of convincing to turn in his ballot, I convinced to come volunteer.
I’m so proud to have been a small part of that effort that helped push Patty over the top. I know a few other people who I saw there are readers of this blog, so thanks Stephen and thanks Ivan for showing up and thanks to all the other volunteers I had conversations with between calls. Thanks Carly, the volunteer coordinator for my district who was always a pleasure to talk to, and all the other staff. Thanks most especially to Patty Murray for being a candidate worth my time, and for making my effort worthwhile with a well run campaign.
I’m pretty sure that I have the exact same right to sign off on things on behalf of the city as Richard Conlin does. Neither of us are members of the city’s executive branch of government. Unlike Conlin, I don’t want a tunnel. Although nobody has asked for my signature on anything, I’m certainly willing to provide it:
So, on behalf of the city, I’ll sign onto any bike path anybody is proposing. Finally complete the Burke Gillman? Don’t mind if I do! A road diet on all roads over 4 lanes? Provide bike lanes and you’ve got me — on behalf of the city — on board.
Hell anybody can do it! Got a project you’d like completed, just sign off on behalf of the city. Feel your neighborhood is being deprived of sidewalks, parks, or other amenities? Just sign off on behalf of the city, and presto!
I spent last Sunday afternoon making phone calls for Patty Murray; there’s nothing like one on one contact with other people to get that feeling like you make a difference, and I’ll be back plenty more times over the course of the next couple months. I’d encourage HA readers to volunteer for candidates. Here are the federal candidates’ volunteer pages (except Jim McDermott, who I couldn’t find a place to volunteer on his page, hope he can pull out the election despite that).
And the State Democratic Party can help you find more.
I’m glad this article in Saturday’s New York Times got written.
Some counterterrorism experts say the anti-Muslim sentiment that has saturated the airwaves and blogs in the debate over plans for an Islamic center near ground zero in Lower Manhattan is playing into the hands of extremists by bolstering their claims that the United States is hostile to Islam.
Opposition to the center by prominent politicians and other public figures in the United States has been covered extensively by the news media in Muslim countries. At a time of concern about radicalization of young Muslims in the West, it risks adding new fuel to Al Qaeda’s claim that Islam is under attack by the West and must be defended with violence, some specialists on Islamic militancy say.
Interesting stuff. While I don’t think it’s the strongest reason to support the rights of Muslims to build cultural centers with prayer rooms, it is certainly worth noting.
So, while I don’t want to be too nit picky, there’s one word in a paragraph toward the end of the piece that really gets my goat.
Mr. Gingrich, the former House speaker and a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said in a Fox News interview that “Nazis don’t have the right to put up a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington,” a comment that drew criticism for appearing to equate those proposing the Islamic center with Nazis.
Really? The style guide precludes you from just saying “drew criticism for equating the Islamic center with the Nazis”? You couldn’t make a declarative statement? That metaphor was too layered and complex?
When I see bad, or for that matter good, polls I can’t be too worked up. Of course I prefer the Democrat up, and up by a lot. And of course I’d prefer the generic ballot look better. But I’m not staring into the abyss, because the Democrats aren’t in the same place as the Mariners.
Believe me, as a Mariners fan, I’ve slogged through some terrible seasons without being able to change anything. A few years ago at the end of a bear of a season when Seattle and Texas were long eliminated, I was sitting in the first row of an outfield seat. Right in front of me, a Mariner’s popup came near the warning track, and the Ranger’s right fielder went into a dive for the ball. “I got it, I got it!” I yelled, and the Ranger dropped the ball. While I like to think I made him drop it, the truth is he probably just bobbled it because he was an AAA call up without much Major League experience. That’s the closest I’ve come to changing anything on the field.
But it’s often said that politics isn’t a spectator sport. And this year as every year, I’m not going to just sit and watch. I’ve worked the phones, donated, and knocked on doors for candidates I believe in, and will continue through November.
And that’s where the next few months for the D’s can be a lot better than the next few months for the M’s. There are enough fine candidates that we can all make a difference. I don’t know what the polls show for DelBene, but I’ll be making calls and knocking on doors for her. Same with Patty Murray (the poll Goldy cited earlier aside). Those of you who live south of here can do the same for Heck.
If you aren’t inspired by those people, there are plenty of state and local races and initiative campaigns. If you don’t like to talk to strangers about politics, they can all use money. They can all use letters to the editor. They can all use you mentioning them on Facebook and Twitter. They can all use you talking to friends and putting up yard signs. All of those things will change the facts, and matter more than what you see in polls.
With all but the toughest census work done, we’ll soon start the process of redistricting. And I’d like to make a small suggestion when we start to redistrict here in Washington: For goodness sake, name the districts, don’t number them.
Watching the British elections recently, I was struck at how you can get a sense of where the constituencies are just based on names like Wimbledon, Exeter, or Belfast East. Names get right to the point and are clearer than numbers. In fact, when the newspapers do use the number of state or federal districts here, they are so unhelpful that they often times have to add a location anyway. (Occasionally with misleading results. When reading about my old district, I sometimes hear that Ruth Kagi represents Shoreline, Darlene Fairley represents Lake Forest Park, and Maralyn Chase represents Edmonds despite the fact that they represent the same district.)
Naming the districts would be easy enough to do here. Instead of discussing the 32nd District that has no inherent meaning, why not a name like North King County and Edmonds? Jim McDermott would represent Seattle and Vashon, not the number 7.
I understand that the boundaries of the districts will matter more over the next decade than their names, but naming the districts just makes more sense than the current system.
For some time now, Goldy and I have been harping on how The Seattle Times, especially their ed board, is out of step with Seattle. Their endorsements don’t sway people and they don’t feel the same way as most city dwellers on many issues. They represent a conservative, old guard elite that simply doesn’t have the truck that it once did in Seattle. But perhaps we’ve been wrong.
So stay with me a little bit. The Seattle Times certainly disagrees with city residents on taxes, sure. While city residents understand that things cost money, and are generally willing to pay for them (roads and stadiums aside), The Seattle Times seems to think any tax increase for any reason is always bad. And they want more roads. And for Seattle to pay for those roads, even state roads that Seattle is at best ambivalent about.
And even when they say they want something lefty like health care, they change their mind when that lefty thing might actually pass.
But it isn’t just politically: the ed board is (aside from Ryan Blethen) quite old in a youthful city. How many columns and posts by Bruce Ramsey mention something Carter did that he didn’t like, as if it relates to the experience of most people in Seattle today? They have an attitude of respect for conservative institutions, giving the likes of Bruce Chapman a fair hearing while the typical Seattle resident doesn’t care that you were in the Reagan administration. The adoration of bland institutions is downright strange. They’ve written multiple anti Google rants in a tech friendly city. Finally, they’ve, mostly (all?) people who grew up here despite the large number of people who’ve come here more recently either from other countries or other parts of America.
So the point is, Goldy, The Seattle Times was here long before the current iteration of Seattle politically and culturally. But The Seattle Times isn’t out of step with Seattle: if anything, Seattle is out of step with The Seattle Times.
I know I’m the last person who the Seattle Times would want to consult on how to save their dying paper. But despite myself, I feel a certain affinity for newspapers. I still read the dead tree version of New York Times, and although I make fun of the Seattle Times stupid ed page, I’m glad they’re around.
While I often have real problems with their editorial stance, and I don’t understand why they still have stale columns from national writers, I do think they are an important piece of what gets reported in Western Washington. So let’s start there. The Seattle Times shouldn’t run syndicated columns who we’ve seen the day before in their own paper, and who we can read for free online. I don’t know that it saves them much money, but it makes them more of a local paper.
So what to replace those columns with? Some days, I say dissenting opinions. Especially on candidate endorsements where Ryan Blethen says it’s important to have a conversation, there should be editorials in favor of each candidate (and let us know who wrote what). There would still be an endorsement, but the Times would acknowledge that there’s another side.
But mostly, just use the freed up newspaper space for more, you know, news. I’d say don’t run any opinion some days. Nobody cares what the paper thinks on any given issue except for people who already had an opinion about that issue, and nobody under 60 cares what Bruce Ramsey or Joni Balter think about anything. Make a couple days a week opinion free days, and give the space now for Ed and Op-Ed to in-depth reports on upcoming races, or investigative pieces, or important issues. Imagine picking up the Times in the 5 weeks leading up to an election and reading great pieces on each city council race. Imagine a full 2 pages given to an important issue. Imagine knowing every Saturday that there will be a well researched, well edited, well written long form piece instead of another vapid editorial.
And speaking of well written, give your writers license to write. The staid, boring style of reporting is often not worth reading. Of course as a fowl mouthed blogger that partly means swearing when it’s relevant: sometimes people say “Shit” in congressional hearings. And they say “Fuck” on the Gotti tapes. They don’t say “S***” or “F***” and when I read that sort of nonsense in their pages, or too clever by half word play that makes me have no idea what was said, it makes me not care if the Times goes under: while I know they’ll never swear as much as me, not having blanket censorship makes it a better read.
Because more than anything, I want a good read. I want to smile at a turn of phrase in the news coverage. I want to be wowed by the transition between ideas in the opinion pieces, and I want passion in the sports section.
But really, I’d settle for not complete shit in the sports section. I seriously can’t think off the top of my head of any Seattle Times sports writers. As much as I wonder if Art Thiel is fucking insane when I read him, or assume George Vecsey is writing with a quill pen when I read him, he’s so old fashioned, they are fun to read.
So those are my suggestions that I know will never actually be implemented. They’d make the paper more fun to read, and maybe save it in the end.