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.