Sunday, December 24, 2006

Responding To Unhappy Republicans...

I’ve had numerous contacts from local Republicans concerning my previous commentary about what I thought needed to happen for the local party to become viable again. Most were quite unhappy, while some stated it was time someone finally said it out loud.

I view myself as a centrist who is pragmatic, truthful, and brutally honest — even when it annoys people to hear the facts. I'm sorry if anyone was offended, but feel I presented the truth.

No one has accused me of being a left wing radical — at least not in the last 20 years anyway — until that column ran. While I’m sure the few local Democrats I still have left as friends — especially after expressing my opinions about Josh Brown’s candidacy — will find that amusing. But that should be a clue just how far to the right of Attila The Hun some local Republicans are. And therein lies the problem…

The facts speak for themselves. For the first time in 34 years Republicans held the county commission majority. If the party was unhappy with Patty Lent’s votes on certain issues, it should have “taken her to the woodshed" for a lesson in Republican ideals. Instead, they challenged her in the primary — with a candidate so unacceptable to the majority of voters in this county they elected an unemployed, unqualified, non-resident, 24-year old Berkeley-graduate — and did it by an 6,000+ vote majority!

Hello! Was that a clue to Republican leadership? Not if the recent “reorganization” is any indication.

The skills and experience Jack Hamilton brought to the table are far superior to Josh Brown's. However, the simple fact is, the majority of voters in this county are uncomfortable with single-issue, arch-conservative, property rights activists. They believe balance between the environment and property rights is not only possible, but very desirable. Republican leadership needs to understand that, embrace it in a way melding the party’s core beliefs with those of folks who actually vote and elect our government officials, and effectively communicate that message. I think conservatives spend way too much time talking only to each other — and not enough listening to moderates who vote. They tend to discount and devalue their opinions without ever exploring what formed those opinions. It all reminds me of a verse from a Jimmy Buffett song...

"Please don't say Manana if you don't mean it
I have heard your lies for so very long
Don't try and describe a KISS concert if you've never seen it
Don't ever forget that you just may wind up being WRONG..."

And then he adds...
"And I hope Anita Bryant never ever does one of my songs..."

The bottom line: What’s the definition of insanity? It’s doing something that doesn’t work over and over, and expecting a different result. Instead of electing a moderate like, say, Bev Woods, Earl Johnson, or even Lent, to chair the party and lead it towards the center — where the majority of local voters are — the party elects the very same guy who ended its county commission majority, as party chair.

I like Jack Hamilton personally, but he is an arch-conservative property rights activist. His election sends a loud and clear message that party leaders still refuse to “get it.” Right wing extremism doesn't cut it here. If we’re to have a viable two-party system in Kitsap County, it’s up to Republican leadership to have the courage and pragmatism to move towards the center if they want anything to do with deciding our future, or attract quality candidates to run for office. I just don’t see Hamilton doing that.

I view writing this blog as very similar to the fairy tale, "The Emperor's New Clothes." My job is to be the kid stating the obvious and shouting, "Hey! The emperor is naked." Shooting the messenger doesn't change reality. It’s time for the people running the Republican Party to face what most local voters already know — the elephant is naked.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Random Thoughts...

MERRY CHRISTMAS to everyone.

I say that because I mean just that - and NOT that lame-ass, politically correct, "Happy Holidays."

I'm not very religious - or at least not in any organized, church-going fashion - but I do believe in God and say private prayers to give thanks for my good fortune, good health, for the people in my life who love me, for the people I love - especially those facing challenges - and for people I don't know in need of help. That's why to me, it's CHRISTMAS.

While you may celebrate the spirit of Christmas in some other religion, that's up to you, because no matter what religion it is, the spirit and meaning are the same. Christmas, and everything it represents, is the reason for the "Holidays" the politically correct are so happy to have us all celebrate equally and with full diversity. It's also the reason we take December 25th off from work and public servants are paid for it. So I say, if you don't want to celebrate CHRISTMAS - haul your ass to work on December 25th.

I see where Queen Christine has punted politically on the question of the viaduct, by saying she wants it left up to the voters. That was politically courageous - a non-decision of epic proportions.

She openly acknowledges Mayor Greg Nickels' monument to his own massive ego, the tunnel, is not a financially viable option, and polling shows few voters prefer it. So why incur the risk of a vote, and the delay that makes whatever option is finally approved cost more with each passing day? And why a Seattle-only vote, and not a statewide one? The viaduct is a state highway, and taxpayers statewide will pay the price for the inevitable delays and cost overruns. Shouldn't we all get a say in this? After all, voters from as far away as Yelm and Forks got to vote on tolling the Tacoma Narrows Bridge. It only seems fair.

The Port Orchard City Council has failed - again - to name a replacement for Tye Moore, who resigned after being convicted of fraud. There are a number of qualified candidates for the position, and while the law doesn't require a decision until late January, this should have been done by now.

In my view, this is symptomatic of the lack of leadership Port Orchard suffers from under Mayor Kim Abel. It's often decision by indecision. I believe in decision-making that is prompt, strong and informed — and that does NOT mean "studying" something to the point that time and circumstances limit your options. While some people call that "Paralysis by Analysis," I call it "Anal-izing." By any name, it's a huge part of why Port Orchard has gone so far down hill in such a short time. It's the same thing Bremerton USED to suffer from until true leadership appeared in the form of Mayor Cary Bozeman.

For all the money Queen Christine is proposing throwing at the "Education Problem" we have in this state — something like $200 million — why isn't she advocating defining and funding "Basic Education?" If we have that much extra money to spend on educating our children, the time to settle this question has never been better.

I just have to comment on the December 16th cartoon by Frank Shiers in the Port Orchard Independent showing former county commissioner Tim Botkin as a flim-flam man ala Professor Harold Hill, commenting on NASCAR and Seed. Shiers hit the nail right smack on the head.

No public money to support or promote private enterprise say NASCAR opponents. In my view, if they support funding SEED at the same time — they're simply hypocrites.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Failing to Pass the WASL is Indicative of a Larger Failure

I was appalled to see that Queen Christine has stepped in to decree a three-year delay in the requirement that students in our state be required to pass the math portion of the 10th-grade WASL as a requirement to graduate. The goal that every student pass all three portions of the WASL — the “three ‘R’s” if you will — reading, writing and math, was set in 1993. Here we are almost 14 years later, with almost 30,000 high school sophomores in danger of failing to graduate in 2008.

Superintendent Terry Bergeson has openly acknowledged that the expected spike in math scores had not materialized. Additionally, she admitted that nearly half of those sophomores were not even close to passing. While a summer retake would mean a few more students could pass, nearly half of all members of the class of 2008 will still most likely fail. Meanwhile, our questionably elected governor has said she will push for legislation in the next legislative session to postpone the math requirement for three years.

Gregoire’s proposal is to allow students to graduate if they can pass the reading and writing portions of the WASL along with rigorous math classes through their senior years. "This thee-year period will give us time to overhaul our math instruction," she said.

In a phone interview, Bergeson told the Kitsap Sun, "We’ve already got some changes lined up.“ She also said she is confident a rejuvenated math program will pay off for the class of 2011.

What about the classes of 2008, 2009 and 2010?

I am no education expert, but it seems to me if they couldn’t accomplish this in 14 years, another three isn’t going to make much of a difference unless those changes include dumbing down the entire math curriculum to the lowest common denominator. I oppose that.

Bergeson, the former Central Kitsap Schools superintendent, was also quoted as saying, "It was disappointing for everyone. It wasn’t due to a lack of effort among teachers or students. We were just not ready."

What does that mean exactly? And more to the point, after 14 years, WHY are we “just not ready?”

Bergeson added, "It showed us that it wasn’t a matter of motivation. Those same students scored nearly 90 percent in the reading and writing portions, so they were clearly trying. It just became evident that we as a state had not properly prepared them for the math portion."

I am more than a little reluctant to accept that “we as a state” crap. You and I didn't have anything to do with this other than paying our taxes to fund this colossal failure. How about putting the blame where it belongs? And naturally, when we are talking about educational accountability, the Washington Education Association (WEA) — which is always demanding more of our tax dollars and shaming liberal lawmakers to either hand them over or miss out on election campaign funds — is conspicuously silent about its failure to educate our students properly.

More than HALF of the entire state budget is already devoted to education. The theme of just about every Democrat elected in November was that we need to support education even more. To me at least, it’s painfully obvious that we aren’t getting our money’s worth now. So will someone explain to me how throwing even MORE money at the problem is going to solve it?

Bergeson went on to say that if the schools that had failed, it’s not fair to punish students by not letting them graduate. Yeah, that makes sense — let’s send them off to college and/or out into the “real world” without a proper education and pat ourselves on the back for doing the right thing. Sorry, but that just doesn’t fly with me. In my view, Bergeson, the legislature, and the WEA, all deserve a failing grade.

Friday, November 24, 2006

"Reorganization." Yeah, Right...

Local Republicans are supposedly “reorganizing” after their recent election debacle. Perhaps they should throw out everyone in any position of authority in the party and start completely over. The ultra-conservatives and Christian right have ruled the party for far too long, making it difficult — not to mention down right embarrassing — to be a centrist Republican in Kitsap County. There’s absolutely NO room for diversity of opinion, which has chased most moderates over to the Democrats.

The party’s total dysfunctionality is exemplified by its inability to even attract candidates to run for $100,000 a year courthouse positions — jobs like Auditor, Clerk, Treasurer, etc.

Will the Christian right and the other ultra-conservatives who are directly responsible for their party’s pathetic situation willingly step aside so reason and pragmatism can prevail? It’s highly doubtful.

If local Republican moderates want their party back, they’re going to have to take it by force from the people who screwed it up — and will continue to — while the local party becomes even more irrelevant than it already is. Is that even possible?

Am I The Only One?

With the vocal, red herring opposition to “public funding for private enterprise” where NASCAR is concerned, it’s puzzling why the very same people opposing NASCAR for that reason would so strongly support the SEED project.

SEED is specifically meant to attract private enterprise — and is funded 100 percent with the tax dollars its gambling to attempt it.

I want to make it clear that we strongly support SEED and want it to be successful. But doesn’t “NO public funding” for private sector companies mean just that?

Am I the only one who thinks opposing NASCAR over "public funding," while supporting SEED, is just blatantly hypocritical?

Monday, November 13, 2006

An Explanation...

I have had an unexpected number of people contact me personally as well as talk to my wife, about my posting both here and in the paper about my recent health incident.

In spite of the rumors, I did NOT have a heart attack. t wasn't anything even remotely like that.

What happened was actually kind of bizarre, and in the name of simplicity, I'll give you the abbreviated version.

My grandson's day care called and said they thought he was coming down with the chickenpox - something I never had as a child. I called my doctor who told me to go to the Kitsap County Health Department and immediately get a certain kind of vaccination. So I drove right over there and got a shot.

Without going into a lot of detail, what resulted was a severe reaction to that shot. After several days of not feeling well, I ended up with a temperature of 106 and was unable to breathe. My wife called 911 and South Kitsap Fire-Rescue was dispatched. They took me to Harrison, where I spent five days being treated for severe dehydration and a massive kidney infection.

We’re still not sure if I received the wrong vaccination or if the vaccine I received was somehow contaminated. The technicians at Harrison — where I received excellent care by the way — sent a sample off to the CDC in Atlanta just to be sure.

So there you have it. No heart attack — but certainly a freak occurrence. However, it taught me the importance of being certain that all the people in my life who I care about know they are loved.

And once again, I want to extend the sincerest “Thank You” to the folks at Harrison and especially to the people at South Kitsap Fire-Rescue. They saved my life.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Some Post-Election Observations…

Perhaps the most famous post-election quote is, “The people have spoken… The bastards.” I don’t know who said it, but it must be on the lips of a lot of soon to be former Republican officeholders around the country.

However, another truism we may want to also consider is, “Be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.”

This election was a referendum on George Bush and the Iraq war. And it needed to be. I rarely agree with Ted Kennedy, but he was right on the money when he stated in the beginning that Iraq would become George Bush’s Vietnam. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld have created a huge mess that is draining our country’s resources, and has cost us the respect of most of the rest of the world, all in the name of stopping terrorism. What they have also accompIished is creating a whole lot more potential terrorists than the world had before. And I know I personally just feel so much safer standing in endless airport security lines taking off my shoes, and I’m glad to no longer be paranoid there might be toothpaste of shampoo in someone’s carry-on luggage.

What Bush has also given us is Nancy Pelosi as Speaker of the House. Personally, I find her past record of bi-partisan compromise and cooperation very comforting reassurance that she’ll use all her considerable people skills to work across party lines to make America a better place. Yeah right…

We now have a Democratic-dominated Congress. That will mean more spending on programs of questionable value, and increased taxes to pay for it. At least they’ll have to answer to us in another two years. Let’s see how they manage the war on terror, and what happens in Iraq. Since they now control everything, there will be no Republicans to blame anything on.

The Democratic tide, fueled by America’s anger over the war flowed right down to the smallest of local elections all across the country — and George Bush, in his arrogance, was completely clueless about it. He must have been the only one who didn’t see it coming. You have to wonder how it would have turned out had Bush fired Donald Rumsfeld a week before the election — instead of the day after.

With that in mind, was anyone really surprised at the local outcome? I know I wasn’t. I’m not particularly happy about some of it — or the poor choices we were forced to endure because both political parties don’t believe voters have the intelligence or integrity to elect competent candidates in an open primary — but it is what it is.

Was Jack Hamilton the best candidate to lead us into the future? Hardly. Is 25-year old Josh Brown? Absolutely not. The problem is, because of the primary system, our choices were so poor that we were forced to pick between these two extremists.

The choice of Brown has made Chris Endresen the single most powerful person in Kitsap County, and with her new lap dog in place, look for things to shift decidedly leftward. It’s certainly going to be interesting to watch Brown in action. Because of what I saw of him on the stump, I don’t trust his statement that he’s going to act as a moderate in the Patty Lent mold for even one second. He’ll do whatever Chris Endresen tells him to — and he’ll hop to it like a good little lackey.

Say goodbye to meaningful and timely economic development, non-government jobs, and of course, any semblance of property rights. Say hello to higher taxes, higher housing prices, $10,000 impact fees, increased regulations, surrendering to more heavy-handed state control, even longer permitting times, and the continuing revolving door at DCD.

I really tried hard to like Brown, But sincerely, in my view, with the blatant help of the Kitsap Sun, Brown ran what I thought was a basically dishonest campaign. In candidate forums I personally moderated and participated in as a questioner, I regularly watched Brown talk out of both sides of his mouth on the environment and economic development issues. He told the enviromental community he was absolutely opposed to NASCAR and it wouldn’t happen on his watch. Period. He told the business community he was very open to the economic possibilities NASCAR offered, but thought we could cut a better deal. So which is it?

It will be whatever Endresen says it is.

The Kitsap Sun refused to question Brown’s ethics, his residency, or his qualifications after his duplicity was brought to its attention. I believe our daily newspaper has done our community a major disservice by continually slanting the content of its reporting to heavily favor Brown, and making Hamilton look bad at every opportunity.

In one forum, I asked Josh Brown to detail his qualifications to be county commissioner. He answered that Norm Dicks and the four Democratic mayors in the county had endorsed him. Did I miss something there? Was there a bona fide qualification outlined in that answer?

The bottom line is this: We have handed an unemployed, unqualified, 25-year old an apprenticeship paying $87,243 a year to manage our $307+ million budget and make decisions that will impact our lives, our businesses, and our children’s future — and we’re stuck with him for the next four years. Let’s hope he’s really the quick study he promised — and that promise isn’t as hollow as the opposing ones he’s made to the environmental and business communities.

Welcome to the real world, Josh. You’re not in Berkeley anymore.

Observations On The Fate Of The Initiatives

I-933… I thought in the beginning this would pass by an overwhelming majority due to the frustration of citizens being steamrollered by government where land use and property rights are concerned. But the anti-933 campaign was effective in neutralizing it, and I believe that was a good thing. It simply went too far. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing a modified, less extreme version come around again sometime soon.

The anti-933 folks unfairly and unscrupulously painted developers as the bad guys — because everyone hates those greedy bastards anyway and knows they’re just here to profit from raping the land. Never mind that if wasn’t for developers, most us would be living in tents.

The truth is, Realtors and developers for the most part opposed I-933. The Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), a major player in state politics, was lukewarm about it at best, grudgingly contributing a minor amount of money to one of its strategic partners, the Farm Bureau, which sponsored the initiative. I sit on BIAW’s Legislative Policy Committee, and the debate wasn’t even close on 933. Opposition was almost unanimous. The small contribution was a courtesy to a friend rather than a show of support. Realtors opposed it as well.

What’s going to be interesting is seeing how the newly elected Democratic legislature deals with the Growth Management Act. During the campaign Democratic candidates across the board acknowledged it wasn’t working and its flaws were what inspired 933. They all pledged to work on retooling it. Will they? When pigs fly maybe.

I-920… The education establishment was successful in using class warfare to divide and conquer to defeat this measure, calling it, “A tax break for multi-millionaires.” That was a load of crap. Anyone who operates a successful family business knows they have to fear the state’s death tax when it comes to succession planning. Anyone who works for a family business should be concerned as well, because their jobs are on the line. In many cases the business must be sold or liquidated to pay the tax. When that happens, those jobs disappear. Remember, we can’t ALL work for the government.

Personally, I have already instructed my accountant to explore the options for moving our corporation to another state while still being able to do business here. If you own a family business, you may want to think about this as well.

I-937… This is just a bad idea. It sounded great, and I would have supported it had it included hydropower as “renewable” energy. But it didn’t.

The problem is going be that windmills aren’t zoned for the land where the wind actually blows, and the GMA won’t allow for it to be for a variety of reasons. And then there are the NIMBY’s… I can't wait to see the very same environmentalists who supported this, oppose a windmill or solar panel farm when it's proposed next to them.

Meanwhile, our electric utilities are going to be fined for not achieving the mandates called for in this bad law, and the ratepayer — you and I — are going to pay those fines in the form of higher electric rates, while our cheap hydro-power, which powers our aluminum and other industries — and the family wage jobs they generate — are shipped to California. Yeah, passing that was real smart…

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Handicapping The Legislative Races

The results of the upcoming races in the 23rd, 26th and 35th Legislative Districts seem pretty easy to predict.

In the 23rd, I expect that Sherry Appleton will easily win re-election. Appleton works hard for her district and has brought home quite a bit of money from Olympia for things like the Marine Science Center. However, for all the money the Suquamish Tribe generates with its casino and resort, it seems that Appleton should not be looking to have the taxpayers fund anything for them. Her venomous opposition to NASCAR has also strained relations between her and her biggest supporter — organized labor. But I expect they will kiss and make up before it is all over.

I also expect Christine Rolfes will win over incumbent Bev Woods by a small margin. Environmentalists are pouring serious money into that race in an attempt to unseat the veteran legislator. The question you have to ask is what is it they expect as a return on their investment? Woods didn’t do herself any favors by pissing off Congressman Norm Dicks and Bremerton Mayor Cary Bozeman over the proposed tunnel in downtown Bremerton either. That was a boneheaded move — especially since the tunnel is not even in her district. I hope Woods survives. She has done a pretty good job overall — in spite of her vote gutting I-601, and the 23rd will be better off in the long run if she does.

In the 26th, Democrat Derek Kilmer should take the Senate seat of retired veteran Republican Sen. Bob Oke. Kilmer is one of the few Democrats who actually “gets it” about economic development, and the relationship between over taxation and regulation of business, and job creation. He will do a good job for the 26th. His opponent, Jim Hines, is also a stellar candidate who unfortunately agreed to step up and move perennial candidate Lois McMahon out of the way. The Republicans knew McMahon was unelectable, but her stubbornness refused to allow her to step aside. Frankly, Hines actually would have been better off running for the House seat against Democrat Larry Seaquist — a seat I believe he could win.

Speaking of Seaquist… He will win over religious right wing Republican Ron Boehme. This is a race that I personally have some heartburn over. Boehme just makes me want to go wash my hands after being around him. That said, Seaquist on the other hand, at least in my view, is a pompous ass, who does not value any opinions but his own. I know all about his experience and qualifications for the office, and on the surface that should make him a good choice. But in personally attempting to talk to him several times, it is obvious he is not open to new information at any level on any subject he has previously formed an opinion on. Frankly, I do not believe that is a good quality for a legislator. Also after witnessing him at several candidate forums — including one where I was a questioner — I have not seen him actually answer a question. Like Josh Brown, he’s mastered the ability to stay on message and avoid controversy, all the while spouting the Democratic Party line. I would like to see Hines take on Seaquist two years from now. I believe he would be a better "fit" for the 26th.

The race between Pat Lantz and Beckie Krantz is too close to call in my view. I think Lantz is vulnerable, especially considering how close Matt Rice came to upsetting her two years ago without really working too hard at it. Krantz on the other hand is working hard, but does not have a lot of community involvement to speak for her candidacy, and her campaign seemingly lacks direction and focus. I do believe that Krantz, who is quite personable, can upset Lantz if she can get in front of enough voters. The question is, will she be able to? Many people — including a significant number of Democrats I have talked with — feel Lantz should have retired instead of seeking another term.

In the 35th, Tim Shelton will cruise to re-election. There is a lesson for the Democrats here, but unfortunately, they are just not interested in learning it.

Kathy Haigh will also win over newcomer Marco Brown. Haigh has done an average job and Brown offers nothing special to warrant making a change.

I believe that newcomer Randy Neatherlin, a Republican, will upset veteran Democrat Bill “Ike” Eickmeyer. Eickmeyer deserves high marks for his efforts to clean up Hood Canal, but no one I have talked with can name three other things he has done during his nine years in office. Neatherlin is folksy and a little rough around the edges, but spearheading the Theler issue last year, as well as his other community activities speaks well for his level of engagement — something Eickmeyer is lacking.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Observations On The Upcoming Commissioner's Race

This election cycle has brought us two very distinct and different candidates: Ultra-liberal Democrat Josh Brown and conservative Republican Jack Hamilton.

Patty Lent gave Democrats a panic attack because her defeat of Tim Botkin was a clear indication the liberal policies of the environmental mafia ruling the courthouse were wearing thin with voters, and no one knew for certain what to expect. Had she governed as the moderate Republican most voters thought they elected in 2002, Lent would have probably cruised her way to a second term. However, I do not believe she ever grasped the impact her deciding Critical Areas Ordinance vote would have on her immediate political future.

Enter Brown, a political neophyte with absolutely nothing to recommend him except a massive ego and a “D” behind his name. I believe it is a clear demonstration of just how much is at stake, and exactly how desperate the Democrats are to hold on to the courthouse for them to have rolled out the big gun — Congressman Norm Dicks — to help elect an inexperienced, unemployed, and unqualified 25-year old to one of the most powerful positions in the county.


Because it means losing control of all the decision-making and patronage machinery at the courthouse for at least two years, and longer if Jan Angel wins re-election in 2008. The fact all the department heads and many employees they now control will change is not lost on the Democrats. They also fear Hamilton’s stubborn conservatism — especially on land use and property rights issues — although I suspect the realities of the job will force him to temper much of that. Hamilton is principled, but also pragmatic.

However, electing Brown assures that Chris Endresen consolidates her authority, essentially getting two votes on every single issue. Quite simply, she will become the single, most powerful person in this county.

I have personally moderated three candidate forums and participated in two other closed-door interviews with both candidates. Hamilton is decisive and clear in his answers, even when they disagree with the group he hopes to impress. But you know where he stands. In contrast, I have never heard Josh Brown actually answer a question. His non-answers are tailored to appease whichever group he is talking to at the moment. For example, he flatly opposes NASCAR with environmentalists but claims to be open-minded about its economic development prospects in front of business groups. Which is it Josh?

I personally witnessed him tell one group the Critical Areas Ordinance does not go far enough, and NASCAR has no business in Kitsap County, but when confronted with those statements in front of a pro-business group, he flatly denied making them — a bald faced lie.

Josh Brown has been coached, and packaged for "sale" to the voters extremely well, mastering the ability to stay on message and avoid anything controversial. However, there is almost no substance behind the facade.

Jack Hamilton is experienced and well-qualified, but loosens the bowels of Democrats because he refuses to be intimidated by Endresen, understands the power of the office at least as well as she does (and certainly more than Patty Lent ever did), and is not afraid to make a command decision. With he and Angel in the majority, things will happen quicker and much more decisively. I expect the long-standing problems at DCD will finally be rectified because measurable results will be demanded, and “process” will become unacceptable as an excuse or delaying tactic.

If Brown is elected, I expect Jan Angel will retire rather than face another term being treated as disrespectfully as she was with Endresen and Botkin at the helm. Meanwhile, thanks to their ongoing dysfunctionality, the Republicans have absolutely no credible candidates in the wings. Inept Port Orchard Mayor Kim Abel - a liberal Democrat - is rumored to be salivating at the prospect of challenging Angel. But if Hamilton is elected, I believe Angel will run again and win as decisively as she did last time.

Make no mistake — Josh Brown will not be a friend to business. He will kiss the liberal and environmentalist asses that engineered and financed his “sale” to the voters, and be little more than Endresen’s lap dog. Look for them to implement higher property taxes if given the opportunity by the courts and the legislature, raise impact fees, and promote even more restrictive land use rules.

Hamilton, along with Angel, will certainly be business-friendly and should run the county more efficiently and business-like than it is now. Both have the financial background and experience to streamline operations and deal with the budget challenges facing the county. Hopefully, they will also have the common sense not to allow unrestricted, irresponsible development and to not unwisely challenge the state over environmental issues they will most likely lose. Remember, under Russ Hague, county lawyers are batting something like 0 for 25 against the state.

But what really bothers me most is how we got into the predicament of having to choose between these two polar opposites — a know-nothing, unqualified, unemployed 25-year old and a highly qualified, arch-conservative with a reputation as a hard-headed, take no prisoners, property rights advocate. There is no centrist candidate to represent all of us here in the political middle. That is what really sucks...

Can’t we do better? Don’t we deserve better? I believe so. But I also believe both the Democrats and Republicans alike have failed us — again.

Back In The Saddle...

Please accept my humble "Thank You" to all of you who called and wrote after learning I was temporarily taking some forced R & R. I am fully recovered after that slight bit of unpleasentness and back to work.

Thank you for your patience and understanding...

Thursday, October 12, 2006


I have received a number of inquiries as to why there have not been any updates here for awhile.

The answer is simple... I recently spent five days as a guest at the Harrison Medical Resort in picturesque East Bremerton. Without going into a lot of detail at this time, I have been at home recovering after nearly dying as a result of what can only be termed a very unexpected and "bizarre" chain of events.

Even as a professional wordsmith, I do not know how to express the gratitude both myself and my family feel towards the the Firefighter/EMTs of South Kitsap Fire-Rescue. Quite simply, I owe my life to their quick response and great training. How do you say "Thank You" adequately to the people who gave you back your life?

Thanx for your patience and understanding. More soon...


Thursday, September 28, 2006

What is Wrong With This Picture?

In my view, both the local Democratic and Republican parties should be throughly embarrassed they could not field any better quality candidates than we are now stuck with. Although the county is made up of primarily centrists, we get to choose between the radical activist fringes Josh Brown and Jack Hamilton each represent because their respective parties are controlled by extremists to whom ideological purity is more important than consensus and pragmatism.

Local Democrats march to the drum of a shrill, vocal, and uncompromising, radical environmentalist agenda personified by Beth Wilson, Tom Donnelly, Gene Bullock, et. al. Centrist Democrats who challenge the greenies do not even stand a chance of even being heard — much less getting to run for office.

Republicans on the other hand have to swear allegiance to an ultra-conservative version of God, George Bush, country, unrestricted property rights, and also please Lois McMahan and her minions, while promising to oppose the right to choose, before they can be “blessed” to run.

What is wrong with this picture?

It is also a very sad commentary on the state of the Kitsap County Republican Party that they could not even find candidates for — much less get someone elected to — the $100,000+ jobs of County Auditor, Clerk and Treasurer. Could it be that moderate, centrist Republicans cannot — or refuse to — deal with the unrealistic crap demanded by the ultra-conservative leadership of the party? You almost have to feel sorry for party chair Matt Cleverley, who is actually more of a centrist than the redical right wing nut job he has been portrayed as, and takes his marching orders from the likes of Shirley Brown, Lois McMahan, Willis Papillion, et. al.

Cleverley is going to take the heat for this debacle no matter what happens — but especially if Josh Brown is elected commissioner — and should do himself a huge favor and resign while he still has the opportunity.

But what baffles me, is why, since they are outnumbered — especially in North Kitsap — everyday Republicans don't take back control of their party back from the ultra-conservatives and religious right, who are actually in the minority. They have the most to gain by doing so. There are literally thousands of moderate and conservative Democrats who are fed up with the elitist, ultra-liberal politics of their own local party, and could possibly be convinced to switch if the leadership of the local GOP changed and moved the party back towards the center. You would also see more moderate Republicans actually getting involved as well.

The question is, will anyone actually step up and do anything to make that happen?

No Suprises In Primary Results

I was only mildly surprised Jack Hamilton upset Patty Lent. I have to wonder if many hardcore Democrats voted Republican believing Hamilton would be easier to defeat than Lent.

There’s no question there was a backlash over her Critical Areas Ordinance vote. To many Republicans, it was the ultimate betrayal. I believe Lent and her supporters seriously underestimated the level of grassroots anger over the CAO. Also, I am not certain Lent ever understood exactly what that vote meant in terms of damage that will never be undone.

Either way, I believed it would be very close, but Lent would prevail. The Democrats could live with Lent since she votes with Chris Endresen more often than Jan Angel. But in the end it was her own Republicans who couldn’t.

As for the other results, if you scroll down a few posts, you will see we are batting 1000 on the results we predicted.

Monday, September 11, 2006

C.H.E.C.K.'s Bogus NASCAR Poll

CHECK, the group heading up opposition to the proposed NASCAR track, has released the results of its so-called poll. It shows that 57 percent of the 500 respondents contacted stated they oppose the track.

But as they say, the devil is in the details. The results are obviously bogus, and the poll results have little or no credibility. When you look at the questions respondents were asked, and the way they were phrased, it is a no-brainer to see they were designed to elicit the exact response the poll got. Frankly, I am surprised that the number was as low as 57 percent, given the bias of the questions - which I think bodes well for proponents of the track.

This is the same poll as you may recall, that CHECK originally denied was being conducted when a number of residents contacted authorities thinking it was some kind of scam.

Many of the questions revolved around the subject of Public Financing - the issue the systematic misinformation machine run by opponents have seized on as the way to turn residents who don't understand the proposal, against it. Once again, there is NO Public Financing involved in the proposal. Read the Berk Report for yourself, and see. Personally, I too am opposed to public financing - I just see any in the proposal.

Also, something else I find quite interesting is that a full 44 percent of the respondents were from the 23rd Legislative District - Bainbridge Island and North Kitsap - NOT the 26th District, where the track will actually be located.

The poll was conducted by someone named Allison Peters - a name I am not familiar with and no one I have talked to about this has ever heard of either. I did hear something on KIRO News this morning saying that she has done work for the Democratic Party. Gee, what a shocker that was! As I recall, the local Democratic Party - which is controlled with an iron fist by the local environmentalist elitists - has made no bones about its hard core opposition to the track. Does she live in McCormick Woods as well?

For anyone to give the CHECK poll any credibility says they are either uninformed or incapable of thinking for themselves. The results of the poll being conducted for Kitsap County by highly regarded pollster Stuart Elway will be out momentarily. You may recall that Elway does a lot of polling for politicians - of both parties - and is considered the best and most accurate in the state.

I believe the timing of the release of the results of the CHECK poll was intentional - with the goal of confusing residents. All I can say is don't buy into their BS. Wait for the results of the Elway poll - they will have actual credibility and be a MUCH more accurate read on the feelings of the citizens.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Queen Christine Attempting To Subvert Supreme Court Races

Queen Christine, AKA Governor Christine Gregoire, recently announced she'll be dialing for dollars - which is a polite way of saying twisting the financial arms of her numerous favorite liberal political action committees - in an attempt to subvert the outcome of the upcoming Supreme Court elections. She has raised in excess of $100,000 so far with some individual contributions in the $20,000-$30,000 range, which is far above the $1,400 individual per candidate contribution limit.

Meanwhile, Democrats are whining like spoiled children about the amount of money the powerful Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) is pouring into John Grohn's Supreme Court race against ultra-liberal incumbent Justice Susan Owens.

Ironically, on May 1, of this year, the Queen gave a speech at a Law Day dinner hosted by the Trial Lawyers, proclaiming that large contributions to judicial campaigns threaten an independent judiciary and stating that judgeships should not be for sale.

Talk about blatant hypocrisy...

There is an excellent article written by Justice Richard Sanders and published in the Spokane Spokesman-Review that takes Queen Christine to task for her unethical and hypocritical behavior. You can read it here.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Primary Election Predictions

Well, the ballots are in the mail, so this is where is where the rubber meets the road...

There has been a lot of talk about voters from each party taking ballots for the other party to try and skew the results so their party candidate can face the weakest opponent in November. Frankly, with so many primary challenges in so many important races, I just don't see that happening. But here’s how I do see the outcome. Let me make it very clear this is not meant as an endorsement for any candidate, just my unscientific predictions of the results in contested races only.

Commissioner — Republican: Patty Lent. I believe in spite of the backlash against Lent by her own party over her Critical Areas Ordinance vote, she will prevail. But in spite of how much money Lent has raised, this could be a lot closer than most people think. The Democrats can live with Lent - she votes with Chris Endresen more often than Jan Angel - and they know they will have a difficult time electing Josh Brown who is wet behind the ears and has yet to have an original thought.

I believe a lot of people in this county would like to see Jack Hamilton elected commissioner, because he is a pretty straight shooter when it comes to standing up for what he believes in. However, on the off chance he actually beats Lent, the Democrats will pull out all the stops against him because they are afraid of him, knowing he is conservative on issues - especially environmental regulation - he is not the least bit intimiated by Chris Endresen, and that he is not afraid to make the hard choices that Patty Lent does not have the stomach for. And it is also no secret those choices do not usually agree with the liberal positions of the elitists that control the local Democratic Party.

Commissioner — Democrat: Josh Brown. Brown should beat Wally Carlson, who simply got started way too late, and isn't up to speed on the issues. Neither is Brown actually, he just tries to make you believe he is. And finally, no one is going to elect a guy county commissioner who steadfastly refuses to wear a suit, opting for overalls instead. Carlson, a genuine nice guy who is sincere in his beliefs and is running for all the right reasons, has engaged some first-class campaign help, but it may be too little, too late.

26th District House — Republican: Could go either way. Ron Boehme has more money, and presents himself well, but his right-wing religious beliefs scare people. Trent England is easily the most knowledgeable of all candidates - from either party - where the issues are concerned. He is sincere, earnest, thoughtful, and pretty impressive when you talk to him one-on-one. The problem is, he is also somewhat shy, and just needs to get a lot more comfortable pressing the flesh at every opportunity. While he would, in my view, probably make a better state representative than Boehme - or Democrat Larry Seaquist - his limited comfort zone with strangers is a major handicap to getting elected. Because of those shortcomings, coupled with Boehme and his fanatical right wing religious views making many voters uncomfortable, I believe this could go either way - although if England actually talks to enough people, he could prevail.

26th District Senate — Republican: A toss up. But I give Jim Hines a slight edge. Perennial candidate Lois McMahan has been running for well over a year, but enraged the party leadership in both Kitsap and Pierce counties - not to mention at the state level - by openly insulting retiring Senator Bob Oke by announcing for his seat right after he had been diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer - and pissing off a fair number of people by doing that. She still may pull it out - but it will be close if she does. I have to concur with Republican leadership in its belief that McMahan is a polorizing figure who has proven she is not electable over the long term, and that if she wins this primary, will most likely hand that seat to popular Democrat Derek Kilmer for as long as he wants it. The Kilmer campaign is salivating at the prospect of another run against McMahan (he beat her two years ago for the House seat he now occupies), but isn't very prepared for Hines. Hines is vastly more qualified for the office in terms of practical business and financial experience than McMahan, and has the support of Oke and the backing of the party in both both counties - and at the state level. However, McMahan has raised a lot more money, owns the religious conservative vote, and really does work hard. If McMahan loses, hopefully this will be her swan song, and she will retire from politics - and finally stop hamstringing her party from fielding truly electable candidates.

35th District Senate — Democrat: Tim Sheldon. The party’s bitter, all out war against Sheldon will backfire. Kyle Taylor Lucas is a carpetbagger and party lap dog — and voters in the 35th know it. She doesn't even live in the district. She rented a Shelton address from Rep. Kathy Haigh just so she could run. The Democratic Party hates Sheldon because he votes for the best interests of his district - NOT how the party demands he vote. That means he has been on the wrong side of most tax-and-spend issues - and there is no worse sin than voting against a tax if you are a Democrat.

Kitsap County Assessor: Jim Avery. This Republican-only (the Democrats have not fielded a candidate) race will be decided in the primary. Avery has name recognition, experience both in the job and in the real estate industry, and the power of incumbency. Challenger Kris Danielson has none of these and is an opportunist who sees our recently released and highly increased property tax assessments as a chance to get a $100,000 a year job. In spite of her campaign rhetoric, assessment calculations are governed by state law, and would have been the same whether Danielson was Assessor or not. Informed people understand that.

Kitsap County Sheriff: Steve Boyer: This is another race that will be decided in the primary since there is no Republican opposition. Jim Rye, the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff's Guild-backed candidate challenging incumbent Boyer, is afraid to debate his boss, and has relied on the union to do his dirty work. Rye publicly announced he will make Guild President Mike Rodrique Undersheriff — which is second in command at the cop shop. So the election comes down to this: Do citizens of Kitsap County want the police union in charge of law local enforcement, or a proven Sheriff whose policies have measurably reduced the crime rate? The answer is a no-brainer in my opinion.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

"Reprisals" Are a LAME Excuse to Duck a Debate

Jim Rye, the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff's Guild-backed candidate challenging incumbent Sheriff Steve Boyer, has said he is afraid of "reprisals" if he debates his boss.

Gimme a break! That is about the most lame and pathetic excuse I have ever heard. Rye has openly challenged Boyer to an election for crying out loud. Why is he suddenly afraid of a simple debate?

Frankly, I think Rye is scared to debate Boyer because he knows Boyer has done a good job, is very well liked by the people of Kitsap County, and knows he will get his ass kicked from Port Orchard to Bainbridge Island and back again when actual facts are being debated, not innuendo, accusations and rumors. The differences in their personal styles and the likeability factor will also become extremely transparent in a public setting. Rye can't risk that. But as long as he can hide out and lob cheap shots at Boyer from behind the union’s "blue wall," rather than face him in public, he isn't accountable either.

Rye brags he has been with the department for 30+ years. You have to wonder why he never advanced beyond the rank of Patrolman. The answer is because you have to pass the Sergeant’s exam to do so, and Rye has failed it — more than once.

In my view, Rye is actually a stand-in for Guild President Mike Rodrique, who really wants to be Sheriff, but probably couldn't get elected. But if Rye wins, look for Rodrique to be named Undersheriff — which is second in command at the cop shop.

The issue facing the voters is really pretty simple: Do the citizens of Kitsap County want the police union in charge of law local enforcement, or do they want a proven Sheriff who isn't afraid of a simple public debate? The answer is a no-brainer in my opinion. Boyer deserves to be re-elected. Hopefully, a large margin of victory will send a message to the union. Unfortunately, I’m not sure the leadership wants to hear it.

Monday, August 07, 2006

Does Partisan Politics Get ANY Sleazier Than This?

The recent lawsuit filed against Senate Candidate Mike McGavick, stinks worse than Liberty Bay after one of its infamous sewer line breaks.

A Safeco Insurance shareholder, 27-year old Emma Schwartzman, a distant relative of Safeco's founders who inherited a small number of shares of the insurance company, has filed a lawsuit accusing McGavick of malfeasance and "looting" the company. Never mind the company was on the verge of bankruptcy when McGavick took over and turned it around. Makes you wonder what Schwartzman's stock would have been worth without McGavick.

Schwartzman and her attorney, Knoll Lowney, actually say with a straight face that the suit isn't politically motivated. We have a name for that kind of thing where I come from — it's what comes out of the northern end of a southbound bull.

McGavick received $28 million in a severance package approved by Safeco's board of directors. It's my understanding that $20+ million of that was in stock options — not cash. That board includes former Governor Gary Locke, as well as Kerry Killinger, head of Washington Mutual, Robert Cline, retired CEO of Airborne Freight, Joshua Green III, head of Bainbridge Island-based Sage Fly Rods, and Judith Runstad, of the law firm of Foster Pepper, among others. Runstad is also a director of Wells Fargo and Potlatch Corp, and most other members serve on other corporate boards — including those of Paccar, MBIA Insurance, Esterline Technologies, Delta Airlines, CNET Networks, Nike and Coke.

Like Locke, more than one of those board members are Democrats. This is a pretty high-powered, financially savvy group of folks who aren't about to let Safeco — which is doing quite well these days thanks to McGavick — do anything fiscally irresponsible.

Rather than belabor just how underhanded and squalid this is — other than to say it's about as low and sleazy as hardball partisan politics gets — and a true measure of exactly how desperate the Democrats and incumbent Senator Maria Cantwell must be, I'll just let KING 5's Robert Mak tell the story.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

25 People Who Are Screwing Up Washington

I recently read the book, "100 People Who Are Screwing Up America," While I didn't agree with all the names listed, I certainly did agree with some. So, in thinking about this, I also thought it might be fun to compile a list of 25 people who are screwing up Washington, and maybe 10 responsible for what's wrong with Kitsap County.

At the very top of my list of 25 People Who Are Screwing Up Washington would be King County Executive Ron Sims. Also included in no particular order, would be Queen Christine, Dwight Pelz, Chris Vance, Sam Reed, the three folks who make up the Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board, Mary Margaret Haugen, Mike Kriedler, Luke Esser, and Mark Trahant I'm sure I'll think of some others and will add them as I do.

I'd also be interested in hearing your thoughts on who should be on the list. However, I won't be adding Tim Eyman. It's not because I like Eyman — frankly I think he's a self-important blowhard who craves the spotlight. But the truth is, if it wasn't for the mess some of these other folks have made of our state, Eyman wouldn't have a political power base at all and would be nothing more than a watch salesman from Mukiltio. It's the rest of these folks that have handed him the power and position he so enjoys on a silver platter. They made their bed, now let them sleep in it.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Don't Let The Door Hit You In The Ass Dean...

Beleaguered King County Elections chief and Olalla resident Dean Logan recently resigned to take a position as second in command at the Los Angeles County elections office. Talk about the Peter Principle and rewarding incompetence…

But to hear Logan's former boss, King County Executive Ron Sims tell it, Logan was run out of town — and in my view, not a moment too soon, either. Frankly, I think he should have faced criminal charges over the 2004 governor’s race. If you remember, the current occupant of the Governor’s mansion, Democrat Christine Gregoire, “beat” Dino Rossi by 129 highly questionable votes — after Rossi was twice declared the winner.

Logan presided over an operation that misplaced thousands of absentee ballots, counting ballots from both more than few dead people and convicted felons among the numerous other irregularities. Yet Sims had the chutzpah to actually say, "Some unscrupulous people bent on partisan gain have chosen to treat Dean unfairly as they have worked to undermine confidence in our elections system."

Excuse me?
What about the absolutely partisan-driven fiasco that got us here in the first place? You have to admire Sims’ cojones though. He called on the King County Council "to rise above partisanship and establish an atmosphere of trust, collaboration and joint problem solving. We need to work to get together to keep the Dean Logans of the world here and not drive them out."

Does Sims truly want to restore faith in the system? Let’s start with electing the head of King County elections instead of appointing a partisan lap dog for Sims, and then lets have King County report its election results first. No matter how Logan departed, it’s a good thing.

Just don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of town, Dean...

Friday, July 07, 2006

Why I-933 Will Pass...

A press release stating that I-933 — the so-called "Property Fairness" initiative — has qualified for the November ballot, hit my desk recently. If passed, the measure, which is sponsored by the 34,000-member Washington Farm Bureau and the Property Fairness Coalition, would require state and local government to compensate property owners when regulations passed after January 1, 1996, damage the use or value of private property.

As I originally noted in this space in late May, not only would I-933 qualify for the ballot, but I believe it will pass by a comfortable margin. Approximately 225,000 signatures were needed for it to qualify. Backers of the measure turned in 315,000 — and didn't even pick up all the outstanding petitions.

Personally, I think 315,000 is just the tip of the iceberg. This should be the equivalent of the proverbial 2x4 to the side of the head of opponents, who should be considering the reasons so many people feel so strongly about this issue. But it won't be. Instead of taking a reasoned and well-articulated approach based on the benefit of preserving the protections currently in place, opponents will go into full warrior mode, attacking supporters as greedy, thoughtless, profiteers with no regard for the environment. That will prove to be a serious strategical miscalculation.

Should I-933 be enacted into law?

To property rights advocates, the answer is an obvious no-brainer — a resounding “Yes!” Many see it as a weapon to finally strike back at liberal legislators, activist judges, and unelected bureaucrats that have far exceeded their authority to regulate private property under the U.S. Constitution. Stories about family fortunes and retirement nest eggs being wiped out with the stroke of a regulatory pen have become so commonplace in Washington that they fail to elicit sympathy anymore.

In the view of opponents, I-933 will wipe out environmental protections, negate zoning laws, and allow unbridled and largely unregulated growth anywhere someone with a piece of land wants to develop. This is a serious over dramatization of reality, but there are reasons for concern.

The main target of I-933 is obviously the state’s Growth Management Act (GMA). Do we need reasonable regulation to preserve our environment and manage our inevitable growth responsibly. Absolutely! Leaving a place in 1975 (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) where as the Joni Mitchell song goes, “They paved Paradise, and put up a parking lot,” I passionately believe in responsible, realistic, and pragmatic, planning and management of growth.

The GMA as written, interpreted, and implemented however, has proven to be a monumental failure. It’s one size-fits all approach, which eliminates all local control and leaves major land use decisions to people who don't live here and are accountable to no one except the governor, has proven it just doesn’t work. This has become painfully obvious to most pragmatic, non-ideologues.

Meanwhile, the most vocal local supporters of the GMA hypocritically enjoy their waterfront and/or their rural homesteads, while demanding everyone else live in overpriced “pack ‘em and stack ‘em” urban settings where the only housing choices are basically apartments — be they rentals or condos. I’d love to see these folks walk their talk for a change, and move their families into the urban areas they insist the rest of us should live in. Yeah, like that's gonna happen...

Which reminds me of that old joke...
Question: What’s the definition of a developer?
Answer: Someone who wants to build a house in the woods to sell.
Question: What’s the definition of an environmentalist?
Answer: Someone who bought that house in the woods.

The law of supply and demand is hard at work where GMA is concerned. It is single handedly responsible for the unbridled upward spirial of housing prices — and your property tax assessments — by artificially restricting the supply of land that can be developed for housing.

And because of the GMA, the law of unintended consequences is also working against the citizens of Washington State. The GMA fails to address the unintended social problems it creates — such as homelessness when people can no longer afford housing, and are being forced to choose between a roof over their head, or food. Also, any time you increase the proximity of people to one another as GMA mandates, the result is an increased crime rate, not to mention seriously more concentrated traffic; the pollution that creates; and the health care problems generated by it.

The other dirty little secret GMA supporters won't admit, is the longer-term problem of the "brain drain" that takes place when the price of housing becomes so high, young, educated professionals with families can't afford to live here, and move to business-friendly locales that offer both job opportunities and affordable housing — places like Arizona, Nevada, Texas, Georgia, Tennessee, and of course, our direct neighbor to the east, Idaho. This workforce issue negatively impacts our state's long term economic future by choking off our ability to attract quality companies offering, environmentally clean, high-paying, jobs, and to grow and keep the ones we already have.

The GMA doesn't provide a way to remedy any of those problems, and in fact, because of its inflexibility, actually exacerbates the social problems it creates.

The ivory tower elitest environmentalists and opponents of I-933 should ponder the fact that their message of planned growth and protecting our environment for future generations is now viewed by a majority of citizens as one of government interference in our everyday lives, and systematically denying our constitutionally guaranteed private property rights. And the ordinary, working class people of Washington State — Democrats and Republicans alike — are saying they've have had enough of it. They're fighting back. I-933 is just the first shot across the bow.

If environmentalists want to achieve their goals and retain the gains they’ve made, instead attacking the messengers, and moving farther to the left, advocating even harsher regulation, which is their usual knee-jerk reaction, they need to move back towards the center — where most of the voters reside.

Remember you read it here first... In the end, after I-933 passes, 315,000 will prove to be a very small number.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Squandering The Taxpayer's Money in Downtown Port Orchard

The marque in downtown Port Orchard has been among the city's most contentious issues for about as long as I can remember — and I've been here since 1975. Some people want to tear it down, while others just want it fixed and updated. If it's torn down, the owners would have the opportunity to spruce up their buildings and add some charm and individuality to the downtown area — ala Poulsbo or Gig Harbor. Repairing and updating it will leave downtown pretty much the same as it is, only with a different color scheme.

No matter what your preference, there's no question that Mayor Kim Abel's lack of leadership has let this situation deteriorate to the point the structure itself has become unsafe and is a lawsuit waiting to happen. In the three years she's been in office, all that's been done is to "study" the issue. It sounds like Abel is getting advice on governmental management from her friend, former SK commissioner Charlotte Garrido.

The city spent nearly $25,000 on a Bellevue-based consultant for plans contractors could use to bid on the repairs. That money also included an estimate of how much those bids should be. That’s in addition to $17,000 it spent with the same firm for a previous marquee evaluation.

So here's a couple of questions...

• Isn’t there a local, Kitsap County firm the city could have spent that $42,000 with?
• Why not use the plan offered to the city for free by an award-winning builder who is also a downtown merchant?

Maher Abed, the city public works director, was quoted as saying the money will be, “…well-spent because, if nothing else, it will really clarify the scope of work.”

However, once a contract was awarded to perform the work, the contractor discovered lead paint had been used in a prevous marque makeover. Removing that paint will add a significant, unanticipated cost to the repair. This begs the question; If the consultant was being paid to "clarify the scope of work," shouldn't the consultant have discovered the lead paint as part of that $42,000 evaluation, and if not, why not?

In my opinion, Abed is one of Abel’s less than stellar appointments, along with Planning Director JoAnne Long-Woods. This dynamic duo has brought economic progress in the city to a virtual halt.

After years, and numerous "studies" — including some before Abel was elected — it’s no national security secret what needs to done downtown. Abel should have taken the lead making it happen — long before spending an unnecessary $42,000.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Are We About To Codify a Legal Double Standard?

The Washington State Supreme Court is about to decide the issue of whether or not radio talk show hosts John Carlson and Kirby Wilber violated campaign finance laws by advocating for I-912, the failed measure to repeal the 9¢ a gallon gas tax. This decision will have a far-reaching impact on First Amendment freedom of speech rights — and especially political speech, if the court rules against Carlson and Wilber.

I have wondered why the defense didn't question and equate this situation to KIRO talk show host Dave Ross staying on the air after it was clear he was going to be a candidate for the 8th District congressional seat. Personally, I believe he should have been paying KIRO for the airtime instead of the other way around. From the time he was first mentioned as a possible candidate, until he declared for the position at the very last possible minute, all Ross did was parrot the Democratic Party platform and basically campaign for office on his show.

I'm certainly not a lawyer, but the fact that the defense didn't tie these two together, seems like a major legal blunder to me, because there sure isn't any difference I can see between what Dave Ross did and the actions of John Carlson and Kirby Wilber. All were actively advocating for political causes and using the public airwaves to do so.

The last thing our ultra-liberal state Supreme Court wants is force liberals to live by the same laws they demand of conservatives. Equating Dave Ross with Carlson and Wilber was a premium opportunity to not legalize the double standard that is sure to result — as well as put the hypocrisy of the court on display as two of the most liberal justices are about to face the voters — if the Supreme Court finds against the two talk show hosts

Just as in the Rossi case, I believe the Republican Party is guilty of some very bad lawyering, coupled with a flawed legal strategy. I have said numerous times before that there isn't a way for the Republicans to shoot themselvs in the foot they haven't thought of, but I have great faith in their ability to invent new ones. They haven't let me down — again.

Sunday, June 25, 2006

How Vulnerable is Maria Cantwell — Really?

Republican Mike McGavick has just released some new, independent poll numbers showing he is within striking distance of overtaking incumbent Democratic Senator Maria Cantwell. With the November election approximately 135 days away as of this posting, for him to be this close to an incumbent senator in a state where Democrats outnumber Republicans 2 to 1, shows that Cantwell is in serious trouble. Or does it?

McGavick already has the Republicans galvanized. All he needs from them is their money. It goes without saying Republicans aren't going to cross over and vote for Cantwell. That gives McGavick lots of time to work on subverting unhappy conservative and moderate Democrats — some of who WILL crossover and vote for him.

How many, and why they've lost faith, are the critical questions Democrats refuse to acknowledge as an issue. That would mean addressing their concerns, and as long as the liberals run the party, that isn't going to happen. They continue to take the political middle for granted while they try and smooth the disaffected feathers of their various combative liberal factions.

They ignore the middle at their own peril. The liberal wing of the party fails to understand or believe that's how Dino Rossi was elected governor — twice. The same situation could repeat itself here — with a much different outcome.

Meanwhile, McGavick hasn't really taken any positions on anything controversial or of any real substance. His strategy is extremely smart. It's been to divide and conquer — appeal to those conservative and moderate Democrats disillusioned and disgusted with their own party at the local and state level as well as with the rabid and confrontational partisanship of ultra-liberals like Nancy Pelosi and Hillary Clinton.

Except for an occasional barb, he's not running all that hard against Cantwell directly, but more against Washington DC and its highly polarized partisanship. He alludes that Cantwell is part of the problem without saying it directly, and comes across as a voice of reason willing to reach out across that great divide.

The strategy has bolstered his poll numbers which he's spinning in a positive manner against Cantwell. This also strengthens the public perception of her vulnerability — and because perception equals reality — encourages supporters of Mark Wilson and the third-party fringe candidates, to work even harder against her.

McGavick's appealing to Democrats by finding common ground on things they and Republicans can easily agree on — such as the partisanship issue. He openly blames Republicans as well as Democrats for the problems, which has given him credibility with that particular group of Democrats.

He already has them interested and agreeing on small points. Next, he'll start to close them on slightly larger, but still basically non-controversial issues — like health care costs. He openly asks, who knows more about this particular topic than the CEO of a major insurance company? Once he has them agreeing again, the issues will get incrementally larger until he has either turned them off — and they go back to Cantwell — or subverted (closed) them. It's Salesmanship 101 — and McGavick is a Master Salesman.

Either way, he's successfully eating into Cantwell's base to some extent with this strategy. Cantwell will win her primary, but deplete reserves and burn political capital doing it. Positions and statements from Cantwell against her primary opposition, will also give McGavick additional ammunition for the general election if he needs it. With only about 75 days until the primary, running against Washington DC has worked very well so far, kept McGavick from having to stake out any controversial positions he can be attacked on, and kept Cantwell on the defensive. He'll keep that up just as long as it continues to work.

The election could easily come down to turnout. Consider the small margin by which Cantwell originally beat Slade Gorton. Opposition from minor party candidates, which will only siphon off votes from Cantwell in the general election, could become crucial. Couple these with the "spin" of Cantwell's primary positions, as well as her votes on the war and other issues. McGavick's successful campaign against Washington DC has kept him out of the direct line of fire, so he won't need to subvert an insurmountable number of disillusioned Democrats to win. And he doesn't even necessarily need them to vote for him, just anyone but Cantwell!

Every day McGavick foments discontent among the Democrats is another day closer to the election; another day he isn't taking a stand on anything on which he can be attacked; another day Cantwell is on the defensive; another day he has available to work on successfully subverting discontented moderate Democrats; and finally, another day he has to continue encouraging those third party fringe candidates and their supporters to pull votes away from Cantwell in the general.

You have to admire the simple beauty of McGavick's strategy — and it's clearly working.

Another issue to look for to be "spun" against her as Election Day looms, is Cantwell's ties to Hillary. While a fair number of liberal Democrats will argue that Hillary isn't a liability, she is undoubtedly the single most divisive politician in America today. She offers Republican strategists a huge target to shoot at, and an early opportunity to begin discrediting her for 2008. No matter how you personally feel, positive or negative towards her, there is almost no one in America who doesn't have an opinion about Hillary Clinton.

I don't know how much you actually know about McGavick, but being an active member of the political media I've had occasion to meet him several times. Just as Dino Rossi did, he took the time to call me personally and make an appointment to stop by my office for a couple of hours to talk. While there, like Rossi, he asked to meet my employees. He took the time to listen to each one of them personally, at some length, about their concerns. This far into it, we've still not even heard from Cantwell or her campaign.

As a Democrat, even knowing going in that if elected, McGavick is going to have to support President Bush and advocate for things you can't agree with, when you meet him, you like the guy. You realize immediately he's not anything like what you may have been led to believe. That's his ace in the hole — and where I believe Cantwell and the party have seriously underestimated him. He's very warm, immediately likable, and empathetic, yet smooth, polished, and extremely effective one-on-one, and in small group situations. Contrast this to Cantwell's cool, aloof, distant, and somewhat combative personality — and if you've ever met her personally, you understand exactly what I mean.

The last thing Cantwell should do is challenge McGavick to a debate. In his calm, reasonable manner, he will eat her alive — and you may still not know where he stands when it's over. All you'll know is that Cantwell lost.

The bottom line is this: Given the time until the election, McGavick's poll numbers, his ability to avoid being pinned down on the issues, his ability to raise serious money, and most of all, his reasonable, likable demeanor — especially when contrasted to Cantwell — if this guy can meet and talk to enough moderate and/or conservative Democrats, he can win.

I expect some highly partisan Democrats will vehemently disagree with this assessment, while the more pragmatic ones will understand that it is what it is — and their standard operating procedure of shooting the messenger isn't going to change that.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Is The Momentum Shifting In Favor Of NASCAR?

I attended the recent presentation to Lt. Governor Brad Owen and the legislative economic development committee about the NASCAR proposal. Frankly, I was surprised there were only a handful of opponents present, while the room overflowed with supporters who couldn’t find seats and had to listen from outside the meeting room. International Speedway Corporation (ISC) did an outstanding job of presenting a panel of recognized experts to explain the facts of the financing proposal to the legislators present, and answer their questions.

Representatives of the Governor’s office, most notably Dr. Irv Lefberg, PhD., Chief of Forecasting for the Office of Financial Management (OFM) told the legislators that the numbers contained in the Berk Report and presented by ISC appeared to be conservative, and that the value of the massive amounts of TV coverage as well as exposure to the corporate CEOs that sponsor NASCAR teams, is a positive intangible benefit for our state that is impossible to calculate in dollars.

Rep. Adam Smith, who stated he represented Congressman Norm Dicks as well as himself, stated that they both support the project and see it as a vehicle for the Puget Sound region to become less Seattle-centric economically, and pledged to work to secure funding for the needed infrastructure improvements. Meanwhile, Bremerton mayor Cary Bozeman gave an impassioned plea for support because he believes enough revenue will be generated to help fund the continually mounting social obligations cities face. Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma, who was ill and couldn’t attend, has also endorsed the project, as has Pierce County Executive John Ladenburg, who testified with Bozeman.

However, the event was most notable for the fact that C.H.E.C.K., the group opposing the project, didn’t present any compelling, or credible evidence of why legislators should not green-light the project, when given the opportunity to testify. Frankly, their presentation was so lame it did their cause more harm than good. It was long on accusations and innuendo, but short on reality — and C.H.E.C.K’s well-worn misdirection approach obviously backfired as the legislators saw right through it. One of the legislators, I believe it was Senator Joyce Mulliken (R-Ephrata), chastised C.H.E.C.K. spokesman Ray McGovern by saying point blank, "I have to make my decisions on issues based on the facts. Where are your facts? I don't see any being presented here."

C.H.E.C.K.’s presentation also contained obvious intentional misinformation (which some people might term blatant lies), such as when McGovern stated the project would devastate 950 acres of “virgin timber.” You could hear background snickers from the audience at that comment. Anyone that’s actually visited the proposed site knows it’s an overgrown clear-cut for the most part, that’s devoid of “virgin timber.”

Another C.H.E.C.K. spokesman, environmental activist Tom Donnelly, didn’t endear the group to legislators either (some who traveled from as far away as Walla Walla) by admonishing them about the location of the hearing, stating it should have been held in Kitsap County. But it was Port Orchard Independent columnist and Sierra Club representative Mary Colborn who took the undisputed prize for lack of credibility with her assertion that bird watchers would generate as much revenue as NASCAR if only given a chance.

I came away from the hearing believing the momentum has shifted significantly away from opponents who have been carping against the project by playing to the fears of the uninformed, in favor of project supporters. They shifted that momentum simply by dealing in reality and stating the facts — not by using the blatantly dishonest tactics of systematic disinformation, misdirection and outright lies employed by opponents up to this point.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

I-933 - Don't Buy Into The Rhetoric — Read It And Make Up Your Own Mind.

One hot button issue that already has the intentional disinformation machine running at full tilt is I-933 — the "Property Fairness" initiative sponsored by the Washington Farm Bureau, and supported by most property rights advocates, construction organizations and real estate interests. The usual cadre of local opponents — the ones I refer to as the CAVE People (Citizens Against Virtually Everything) — are demonizing “special interests” they refuse to name specifically, as well as major unnamed corporations they claim control the Farm Bureau. They say backers are only looking out for "big agribusiness" and "irresponsible developers."

As far as these folks are concerned, I just have to ask, in their minds has there ever been any developer that isn’t irresponsible and/or greedy, and who isn’t making “obscene profits” by destroying the environment?

The basic premise of I-933 is that if regulations passed after January 1, 1996 prevent you from using your property as you could when you originally purchased it, or if those regulations devalue it, the governing jurisdiction has to allow the original use, or compensate you for denying it.

It doesn’t roll back any environmental protections in place before then, and doesn’t increase its intensity of use from what was allowed prior to January 1, 1996. It simply preserves your right to that existing use while mandating the same level of environmental protection in place at that time.

Read I-933 for yourself and don’t be swayed by the outright lies and scare tactics. This one’s going to get real ugly, with big money being spent to capture your heart, mind and vote.

But in the end, I-933 is about everyday people — many whose life savings are invested in their property. They’ve watched their retirement nest eggs be relentlessly regulated away by ideologically driven, unelected bureaucrats, and they’re finally saying, “Enough!” Personally, I believe it will pass by a comfortable margin.

A Split Among Local Democrats — Elitist Enviromentalists vs. the Rank-and-File Working Class?

After a slow start, 9/11 survivor Earl C. Johnson appears to be picking up some momentum against Sherry Appleton (D-Poulsbo) in the race for the 23rd District House seat. Many union voters are unhappy with Appleton over her toxic stance against NASCAR. Unions are among Appleton’s biggest supporters and contributors, and helped elect her with their “Labor to Neighbor” program. However, local organized labor, specifically the Olympic Peninsula Building and Construction Trades Council, have steadfastly refused to endorse Appleton for re-election, but have stopped short of endorsing Johnson, a Republican, even though he's in favor of the project.

Although she has been among the most vocally venomous against NASCAR, the Washington State Labor Council, one of Appleton’s strongest political allies, has now come out in favor of the project. Other union groups strongly backing the project include the Washington State Building and Construction Trades Council, the Kitsap County Central Labor Council, and the Puget Sound Metal Trades Council — which is all the shipyard unions, including the ones at PSNS — along with the building trades councils. While a total of 17 labor organizations in Kitsap, King and Pierce Counties have enforsed the project, the local 23rd District, 26th District and 35th District Democratic organizations have all come out against it.

Labor is one of the more powerful interest groups that traditionally support Democratic candidates and principles. While the environmental factions within the local organizations have long had the upper hand in determining policy, they appear to be completely out of touch with the regular rank and file, working class, Democratic union members on this issue.

The unions have stated they will not endorse, financially support, or work for Democratic candidates who don't support the track. Meanwhile, the party is putting its candidates in the untenable position of either refusing to support the track and risk alienating organized labor and all those union voters — along with their campaign help and contribitions, or refusing to toe the party line and pissing off the greenies in control of party money and campaign help.

It's going to be interesting to watch as this little soap opera plays itself out.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

The End Justifies The Means...

I recently received a copy of a circulating email claiming that I stated the NASCAR project was dead. While the group vehemently denies it originated with them, it appears the email at the very least passed through the computers of some members of C.H.E.C.K., the group opposing the track. It read in part...

The news is that even Lary Coppola says NASCAR is dead. I am sure you are a major reason for this great victory, though perhaps you will attribute it to logic prevailing. Anyway, thanks for all your hard work.

I want to state unequivocally, that I have NEVER made the statement that NASCAR is dead — nor do I believe that to be true. The Business Journal has taken NO official public position on this, and neither have I personally. There are numerous questions that I believe still need to be answered.

I wrote a highly sarcastic parody concerning the real possibility of the Seattle Sounders relocating to Kitsap County. It used the same arguments C.H.E.C.K. uses against NASCAR, simply to illustrate how inane some of them actually are. A very small number of selected individuals received it. It was not meant for general distribution, nor was it an “opinion,” but simply pure sarcasm. A trusted individual violated my confidence passing it on.

But what simply amazes me is the blatant dishonesty with which what I wrote was taken completely out of context, distributed without permission, and represented as factual — without anyone even taking the time to confirm its validity.

C.H.E.C.K. claims it isn’t responsible, and it may not be. But its response to my original inquiry reaffirms my personal opinion that it’s an organization of questionable integrity — one where the end justifies the means.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Hague's unconscionable plea bargain

Wayne Hower, the man who killed South Kitsap store owner Al Kono in cold blood, was allowed to plea-bargain his charge from aggravated first-degree murder down to second-degree murder with a firearm. He was sentenced to 23 years and four months. The 45 year-old killer will be out of jail at age 68 — if, and it’s a big if, he even serves the entire sentence.

There’s no way former prosecutor, Dan Clem would have plea-bargained a cold-blooded murder. Clem always tried those cases personally — and never lost. Meanwhile, Prosecutor Russ Hague has a track record of plea bargaining rather than going to trial. After losing the slam-dunk, Buddy the police-dog case — which he tried to blame on Judge Anna Laurie — does Hague even have confidence in his own ability to win a high-profile case like Kono?

Hague owes the citizens of Kitsap County a public apology for allowing Hower to get off so lightly.

Handicapping the upcoming elections...

Locally, in the 23rd District, moderate incumbent Republican Bev Woods has her hands full with challenger Christine Rolfes. The Democrats are pulling out ALL the stops for the former Bainbridge Island city council member. I’ve heard that even Congressman Norm Dicks is quietly making calls and applying pressure on centrist Republicans to support Rolfes.

First-term, Democratic incumbent Sherry Appleton should be vulnerable over her boneheaded attempt to hand the Suquamish Tribe a bunch of our tax money to fund purely pork barrel — and highly questionable — political payback reservation projects. She’s also got the construction unions, who supported and worked hard to help elect her, absolutely livid over her venomous stand against NASCAR. Luckily for Appleton, most north end voters haven’t ever heard of Republican Earl C. Johnson. Maybe the unions should check him out — I've been told he supports NASCAR.

The 26th District, which spans portions of both Pierce and Kitsap Counties, is certainly the most entertaining. In the Senate race, perennial Republican candidate Lois McMahan will probably take out political newcomer Jim Hines in the primary, despite Hines’ endorsement by retiring Senator Bob Oke and the Pierce County Republican Party.

Look for Democrat Derek Kilmer to bury McMahan — not for good, just for now. McMahan will undoubtedly resurface in 2008. At the state level, Republican insiders believe McMahan can’t win, and are furious with her for insulting Oke by announcing a full year before he retired, as well as for refusing to either step aside, or run for the House seat left open by Kilmer’s move up. That’s why the party is backing Hines. They believe McMahan’s stubbornness will deliver that Senate seat to Kilmer for as long as he wants it. They're probably right.

In the 26th District House races, Gig Harbor Republican Beckie Krantz, who owns a business tracking legislation for politicians nationwide, presents a formidable challenge for Democratic incumbent Pat Lantz, who just barely beat a moderate Republican last time. This one could go either way.

A moderate Republican would also stand an even chance of winning Kilmer’s former House seat, but I expect 71 year-old Democrat Larry Seaquist to prevail. Not because he’s a particularly stellar candidate, but because he has no credible opposition.

Seaquist’s Republican challengers are Trent England, a 20-something lawyer with strong ties to the conservative wing of the national party, and Ron Boehme. My personal impression upon meeting England was that he's young egotist so full of himself he's annoying, and will be insufferable by the time he’s 50. Boehme meanwhile, sounds like a graduate straight from the McMahan-Craswell school of religious politics.

State party leaders asked England to step aside, dangling a plum job in front of him as an incentive, after lining up a centrist they feel certain can beat Seaquist. England’s ego wouldn’t allow that — and then Boehme jumped in. The moderate in question pragmatically walked away from that primary quagmire. Seaquist will steamroller whichever one of this dynamic duo survives.

In the 35th District, Republican Randy Neatherlin presents what is perhaps Incumbent Democratic Representative Bill Eickmeyer’s first serious challenge. Neatherlin’s activist role in the Theler Center controversy raised his standing among many in North Mason County. This could get interesting.

It's business as usual for Senator Tim Sheldon, who remains in the crosshairs of his own party. Democratic leaders are enraged the maverick centrist ignores marching orders from party headquarters, and actually voties his constituent’s wishes instead. That often means voting with Republicans against Democratic tax and spend measures.
What is he thinking???

It’s no secret the Democrats have literally spent years desperately trying to enlist almost anyone — including at least one Republican — to oppose Sheldon. Does that give a clue to just how bad they want him gone? Kyle Taylor Lucas, former Governor Gary Locke’s executive director of the Governor’s Office of Indian Affairs, finally succumbed to the temptation.

The 52 year-old Lucas still owns a home in Tumwater — but now leases one in Shelton. Lucas says with a straight face she wasn’t recruited specifically to challenge Shelton. If you believe that, I have some prime swampland in Florida you should probably be looking at.

“Follow the money,” was the advice the infamous “Deep Throat,” gave Woodward and Bernstein to help them crack Watergate. That advice also makes PDC reports interesting reading. In the 26th, McMahan’s contribution flow seemingly makes it appear her running for office is the family business. Seaquist’s money has mostly come from the Washington DC beltway, and California contributors, while England’s campaign shows a negative balance. In the 23rd, Appleton’s PDC’s are filled with tribal and public-sector union donors, while Rolfes’ reads like a Who’s Who of the environmental movement. Makes you wonder what kind of ROI is expected if they win.

And the disinformation campaign against NASCAR continues,,,

The systematic, media-assisted, disinformation campaign against NASCAR continues. Have you read a post that didn't mention "Public Financing" — although there is NO public financing involved in the proposal?

Meanwhile, Oregon — ultra-liberal, die-hard Democrat-controlled, Oregon — is pulling out ALL the stops to attract ISC to Portland. And if our legislators don't step up, much to the joy of the short-sighted, pinheads who want no growth of ANY kind now that they're here, ISC will be gone to a place where their money, jobs, local revenue and generous community citizenship are all welcome. It will be a huge loss for Washington and will happen only because a small, but vocal minority, with the help of the local media, has orchestrated a major disinformation campaign that no one besides the Kitsap Peninsula Business Journal has had the courage to challenge them on.