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Thursday, February 26, 2009
In 2008, a group of "political reformers" successfully passed a measure making county government non-partisan. Today that reform is just three months old, but already poised to passits first major test. To the general benefit of the County, the Obama administration has appointed Ron Sims (after the County survived 12 long years of his presence as our County Executive) to a position in the Obama Administration - a blessing for the county, though at a cost to the nation. Sensibly and ethically, there is talk of choosing a "caretaker" to hold the fort until the voters can make a choice of their own.
Sadly, this is opposed by Mr. Pelz and his supporters in the State Democratic Party. The voters might (Unlikely as it is in a County where Seattle rests) choose a Republican, after all, if the fix isn't put in early by putting a Democratic candidate in to complete Sims term and get a head start on name familiarity and campaigning.
I agree with Pelz that succession of office is an important test of our democracy. H is correct in stating that when a government official resigns or passes away, provisions are made for that position to be filled and for government to continue.
For partisan offices, state law assigns the political parties a role which has allowed vacancies to be filled in an orderly, timely, and predictable fashion. The Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) from the affected jurisdiction meet and choose three member of the party of the departed official, and forward that list to the County Council or County Commissioners, who pick one person. Fortunately, that is no longer the case - the County Council may now choose the best qualified person, regardless of their party, to serve out a vacated office - which is where Pelz takes exception, not surprisingly.
Pelz tells us of his trip in January '09 to Walla Walla to chair the meeting a meeting of local Precinct Committee Officers convened to fill the vacancy left by the passing of Bill Grant. The PCOs placed three Democrats on a list forwarded to the 12 County Commissioners of the four counties in the 16th Legislative District. On February 21st Laura Grant-Herriott, Bill Grant's daughter, was chosen for the position and immediately sworn in.
Twelve years ago in King County, Precinct Committee Officers met to create a list of three Democrats to fill the office of then-County Executive Gary Locke, then departing serve as Governor. Ron Sims was selected for that list, and once appointed, the power of incumbency proved an insuperable advantage for twelve years, precluding a fair debate on equal ground before the voters of King County.
Thankfully, the PCOs and the Democratic Party will play no role in 2009 in filling this most recent vacancy and talk of a place-holder candidate is growing. State law declares when vacancies occur in a non-partisan office, the nine members of the King County Council are charged with the responsibility of naming the next County Executive. As an unintended benefit of some of the Council members vying for the job themselves, the Council appears unable to assemble five votes for a strong successor. I would urge them to choose someone competent but unelectable.
Today, instead of the terms "executive" and "leader," we hear talk of choosing a "caretaker" or a "placeholder." What Pelze hears as cliches about "letting the voters decide the next County Executive, not the Council members", is the sound of an ethical choice, however arrived at. This is clearly the time for a placeholder. This is the time for the nine members of the King County Council to provide leadership. They need to take a hard vote and appoint a leader, not a caretaker.
King County faces enormous challenges. The County's economy was seriously screwed up even before recession depression hit, with the market seeming to dive further every time Obama opens his mouth. 2009 will require a year of retrenchment, with an Executive with no illusions of holding office past the election. Unpopular cuts will need to be made in County services, and those will include our Courts, public defenders, prosecuting attorneys, our jails, and virtually every area of county government
The decision for a long term County Executive need not be taken now, rushing to ramrod a Democrat into office in hopes of their surviving the election. With what the County faces, the normal rules do not apply - whoever takes this position will be ending their political career, barring miracles.
We are tired of the endless bickering of two political parties, and their drag on the process. Congress would make better decisions without majority and minority caucuses - individual members would have to think for themselves, committees would have real authority, and less and better legislation would emerge. Our State Legislature would function better, if not more efficiently, without the drag created by the parties. It is time to thank the reformers for their reform and celebrate more open process non-partisan government has given King County?
The time for PCO's making decisons in smoky back rooms is long past. The best solution would be to hold a special election for the remainder of Sims term as Executive, and the present notion of a "place holder" is an acceptable compromise until State law can be modiffied to require a special election in such circumstances, perhaps within 30 days of such vacancies occuring.
Note; the above is a HEAVILY fisked and redacted version of Pelz letter, re-written to consider the best interests of King County and its residents - rather than those of the Democratic Party.
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
It's not nearly so much fun dealing with the True Believers - whether it's rabid theocrats (the more moderate model or the full fledged Fred Phelps/Inquisition variant) or it's the heavy-breathing doom-decrying guilt-mongering climate-change-promoting Green sorts that would rather "feel" than think - logic and fact won't get you far, and mere skepticism will get you declared a heretic.
Iowahawk illustrates a rather grim case in point.
DDT isn't unflawed, but compared to Malaria, it's a bouquet of roses accompanied by a mocha-frosted chocolate cake with bon bons after a fine barbecue.
Remember, on March 28th, turn on every single appliance and light in your house. It's better to shine a light in the darkness...
Ok. We'll see if this gets through.
Having meandered through the comments here, I'll jump in since I'm waiting for a server process to wind down.
Free speech is a grand thing, but like all such freedoms, the really miserable part is that you get precisely as much of it as you allow those you oppose to enjoy.
As far as the Free Republic goes, I've not been over there for some years. It seems I boggle them a bit much when I combine "libertarian, gun-owning, gay man" all in one person. But I will point out that there is a huge difference between "I wish someone would
The difference is even greater when, for a variety of reasons, opposes at a fundamental level the current President, or the present pack of loons/rogues/fools holding Congress (or both)in both practical ("You are a vile congress-critter! No! I will NOT assist you in any way, nor will I sell you any food or do any business with you!") and political (building alliances, working to unelect various critters, etc) and proposing or soliciting folks to rush out and do "bad things".
It is even perfectly lawful and even worthwhile to discuss that perhaps the Red/Blue factions of the present nation are so irredeemably at odds that perhaps all would be served better by division of the nation into two or more successor nations.
If the meme is that anyone who opposes in word/thought/deed (no matter how gracious) Obama/Pelosi/Biden is an evil racist traitor using tricky "code words" to seduce the unwashed knuckle-draggers to violence ...I'm afraid most folks are going to be pointing and laughing at you (those that aren't busy being offended the sheer patronizing tone and elitist assumptions) to really do much of that.
The Second Amendment was included specifically in support of that distrust. It's really dandy that it facilitates self-defense, hunting, hand-eye coordination, and keeping folks familiar with the firearms of the day around lest there need again be a draft. All good stuff. But at the end of the day, the founders meant it as a last and desperate balance against a government gone mad.
As a nation of rebels, we've used this last resort from time to time.
Most non-historians only think of the Revolutionary War (SOMETIMES, the War of 1812), the Civil War, the Spanish American War (Though not many), the two World Wars and our conflicts since.
It's not a complete picture, and what it leaves out is critical.
We've done one great big rebellion (the Civil War) and a whole bunch of smaller ones that don't get nearly the press. We're a nation of http://www.whistlestopper.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8590balances, and one of those is that if pushed too far...we're not shy about pushing back. It's simply that post-Vietnam (we do remember the SLA and their buddies, yes?) the liberal protest model has been sign-waving and shouting and involved lots of propaganda an attorneys in a "kinder, gentler" way of taking exception to current conditions.
But to recall a bit of history (and save time as I'm giving up on the server till morning) one can find references to some of the earlier rebellions (1780-1915)at http://www.whistlestopper.com/forum/showthread.php?t=8590
Of course, the tradition of armed rebellion didn't *stop* in 1915...it simply moved around a bit. Without spending more time than I care to, I don't have the links - but I'd point to the post WWII resistance by black veterans (supplied by the NRA) to the Klan, and during the Civil Rights movement and to the various violent groups during the Vietnam era...
Domestic tranquility has been a relatively recent phenomena (and in the past, rather shortlived)in the United States. We just don't talk about it much these days...and until recently, everyone in major office had sufficiently vivid memories of "just how bad can it get if I ride roughshod over the opposition" that an unspoken "what say we don't push THAT hard" ruled from both sides of the aisle.
I, and many others, are unsure that the current single-party leadership (really, is it EVER a good thing for one party to hold both houses of Congress and the Presidency at the same time?) to sustain that meme, and are more than moderately concerned.
After all...the Revolutionary War was sustained with (depending on your source) the support of between 10% and 35% of the population at the time. 'Tis worrying in a time when the economy is going sideways, the nation is already divided against itself, and Mexico is hovering on the edge of collapse...in ways that appear increasingly likely to provoke a military response from the most pacifist of Presidents.
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
Not for a product in serious demand. It didn't for alcohol, and it hasn't for pot. Hasn't done that well for much of anything else large numbers of folks want, either. What Prohibition consistently gives us is a hideously expensive enforcement and punitive structure, crowded courts, diminished respect for the law, and infringements on civil and property rights as the Inquisition Du Jour is attempted - doing damage even as it is doomed to failure.
California is looking at, should they legalize, 13.8 billion of taxable revenue annually - and getting 1.7 billion of enforcement costs off the books. Assuming a 10% tax on sales, California would realize 1.3 billion of revenue, get another 1.7 billion (est.) in savings, for a net gain of roughly 3 billion - not to be sneezed at in a state presently 15 billion in the hole this year, and due to be 42 billion in the hole next year.
Toss in a major hit in revenues to criminal organizations (they have a hard time competing when you can pick up an ounce of pot at the local Safeway, an ounce with actual quality control) and at the end of the day, you've a fair-sized win on your hands.
Let's hope that, for once, the silly asses passing as elected officials in California get it right - tending to ones own business in this instance isn't just a good notion, it's downright profitable.
Now, it's early yet...but from January 20, 2009 to date I'm seeing a bit of a trend...I could be wrong, not being an economist or a financial analyst or such - but at this rate, a bit over 1000 points down over his first month in office, I'd say that we may see the Dow at 5000 by the end of April...
That's change, alright, but I'm having a hard time with the hope part....
Edit: By special request, a chart from 11/4/08 to present...
Monday, February 23, 2009
So, initially, I'm going to try to catch up on all the little blurbs and topics I've MEANT to write on, but been distracted by early gardening, lawn care, job-hunting, and life to commit to electrons.
Some weeks ago, I believe it was Lawdog that pointed out the still-trenchant piece over at IowaHawk, the Idiossey, and since I still think it hilarious, pertinent, and bearing more than a few elements of subversive truth - hie the over there, have a read, and try not to blow your lunch through your sinuses.
Earlier this year, during the snows, I had a bad case of lust for one of these. Just so ya know. Someone needs to start building these things. Not all the really good ideas are new, after all.
An amazing and unsung substance, powdered cheese, has vanished from retail shelves in the Northwest - powdered cheese. Dandy to thicken all kinds of sauces without jacking up carb content, this dandy substance can be found here.
I don't claim this one makes sense, but still - WANT. Shiny, pretty, go-boom!
Mentioned on Gun Nuts radio show, the change jar is dedicated to this new quest for an IWB holster that doesn't cause the .45 to wear a hole in my side (literally), Mernicke Holsters looks promising (and nice looking work, at that). The BladeTech folks are in consideration, but I like the look/feel of leather.
The precious online meltdown of a CNBC reporter re the stimulus...must watch. Yeah, right...stimulus my...
LeMat Revolvers - a concept that has largely languished since the Civil War, the Revolver+Shotgun notion (which I suspect would prompt screams of horror from the ATF and Sarah Brady & Co. in modern chamberings) is just odd enough that I'd love to be able to legally add one chambered in modern cartridges to my collection.
And finally, the recipe I need to get around to trying from CrankyProf.
That pretty well reduces the number of open "write about this" tabs in Firefox to something manageable. Till next time...
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Sunday, February 8, 2009
As a former editor and semi-professional writer I am disappointed.
I have absolutely no issue with your bracketed editorial comments, though I tend towards the view that if you have more than one or two bracketed comments, that a separate editorial comment handles matters more gracefully.
I readily admit that, to speak to a broader audience, I should probably have clarified "CPL=Concealed Pistol License"; that while Open Carry in Washington State does not require a permit, concealed carry does require a permit in this State.
However, in a blog (where length is not a cost issue - 200 words cost the same as 1000) editing for length is silly as a concept. Doing so to save a paltry 26 words (after all, we're not doing hard-copy layout here) would be questionable even if the tone and content of the original piece were not substantially damaged.
I specifically cite the butchery of the third paragraph (original for comparison may be found at nwfreethinker.blogspot.com - leaving analysis to the reader), and can only assume that the edits were specifically intended to reduce coherency and readability.
Tacky, at best. May I suggest you consider a more ethically consistent editorial policy?
In Washington we have it a bit better than folks burdened with the silly "open carry in restaurant" law found in Virginia.
Open carry is legal here, but so is concealed carry (without any silly restaurant rule). There is a notable lack of blood in the streets and wild west shoot-outs, and our per capita rate of homicide and assault (with and without firearms) is substantially lower than more regulated locales. Given the lack of the silly restaurant rule, most folks that carry choose to utilize a CPL in both to minimize unpleasant interactions with "little old ladies of both genders and diverse ages" and the notion that tactically, should all go bad, that some things present better as a grand surprise.
I utilize my CPL daily here. Could be it's because as a greying middle-aged gay man with asthma and sundry health issues that both bare-handed physical confrontation with an assailant and "run away, run away" (after "be someplace trouble isn't", my preferred strategy) doesn't work well when translated to "run 30', fall over gasping and doing the asthma tango"). I assume you've heard of gay-bashing, mugging, and other misadventure?
I have a fire extinguisher in my home and car. I lawfully carry a firearm. And I carry a pocket knife. The first two, I do in order to hedge my bets against disaster and move on; the last, because they are just too darned handy to be without.
Not paranoid or delusional. Prudent. I hope never to need to use a fire extinguisher; I hope never to need to use a firearm for self-defense. My hopes won't make reality go away if I am unlucky.
UPDATE: Yep, at least one paragraph (#3) was mutilated nearly beyond understanding, and what editing he did was of such poor quality that both tone and message were negatively affected.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
Seems a graduate of the USMC finishing school was attending Western Oregon University last week, equipped with an Oregon CPL...which, under Oregon law (from what I understand) explicitly exempts the carrier from restrictions on carry in public buildings...was on campus with his lawfully carried firearm, and engaging in lawful conduct...
Note in the story above (hey,it's college media) the misunderstandings of OR firearms law on the part of the journalists. Please consider writing and civilly offering them corrections.
When, much to his surprise, down swoop the local gendarmes to trespass him off campus (ending his college career at that institution until further notice, and forfeiting the current terms expenses for books/tuition/etc) and charge him with "possession of a firearm in a public building" - from which charge he is immune by virtue of his CPL.
No matter how this turns out, it's going to cost him some dollars...if you want to help on that side, you can contact the Oregon Firearms Federation; also, polite and well-reasoned missives to the University President and the local Police Chief and Mayor may prove salutary.
Western Oregon University President:
Dr. John P. Minahan, President
Office of the President Western Oregon University
345 N. Monmouth Ave.
Monmouth, OR 97361
or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
Western Oregon University Journal Editor:
345 N Monmouth Avenue
Monmouth, OR 97361
News: (503) 838-8347
Monmouth, Oregon Mayor
Mayor John Oberst
151 Main Street W
Monmouth Oregon 97361
MonMouth, Oregon Police Chief
Chief Darrell Tallan
238 E Jackson Street
Monmouth OR 97361
False arrest is SO tacky....and expensive!
Thursday, February 5, 2009
Check it out over at Alphecca...
Gov. Christine Gregoire, of Washington, has posted a State Budget Widgit on line - of course, it's so simplistic and generic as to approach uselessness, but go play with it anyway - I was able to take the state to a 5 billion dollar surplus - but then again, I'm rather cold-hearted about such things.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Mom's been coming out of the whole grief thing fairly well, but this last July got rational enough to notice her back was stinging a wee tad. After the 2nd trip to the ER for pain management, an Orthopedic Surgeon got involved...followed shortly by Big Surgical Magic involving fusing various things well beyond what the good doctor expected.
Mom spent a few days of hospital time she still doesn't remember, spent two weeks in a PT regimen at a local nursing facility, came home and promptly developed a torn meniscus.
Since then we've been muddling with that (cortisone seems a big help) and she's given up the walker, and is in the process of giving up the cane - mainly a confidence issue, at this point, it looks to me. She still uses the scooter we got her to do grocery and shopping runs, but other'n that it lives in the trunk of my car....for the moment. I'm rather looking forward to the day that she discards that as well...
Basically, it looks like she's been so wrapped up in other folks illness for the past couple of years that she has either forgotten to notice or rationalized away her own issues...and now that everyone is healthy (for a reasonable variation on the term), she's been falling apart and getting repaired....
That will be all for this report...
My question is - so what? The guy was 19 at the time, maybe 22 now (you can tell how much I follow sports), and was busy about the project of growing up - and hadn't quite grokked that if you are going to be naughty, that photographic records are *bad*. It's not as if he were out kicking in doors and terrorizing the locals...
Beyond that, what is the big deal about pot anyway? Aside from a tiny percentage of folks with peanut-grade allergies (seize up, fall over, attempt anaphylactic shock) pot seems pretty darned harmless, and most potheads I've known have been (if anything) excessively mellow.
Yep. Legalize, tax, and regulate pot. Pull the carpet out from under the black market and its' artificially inflated prices, violent conflict resolution methods, and tax-free status - and save money on jails, adjudication, and enforcement in the bargain. Prohibition is simply pissing up a rope - you end up damp, chilly, and smelling funny for no particularly worthy gain.
As for Michael Phelps? He's a helluva swimmer, and unless he takes up a hobby that involves directly hurting *other folks*, what say we let the man tend to his own business.
That concludes the morning rant.