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Kaleb Lunderville was a jack of all trades during his Yelm football days as a youth. “I played a lot of different positions,” Lunderville stated before rattling off the list. “I played everything from running back to quarterback to even defensive line. I’ve been a linebacker, a safety. I’m not sure there hasn’t been a […]

The value of an Evergreen education

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 12:01pm

The responsibility of higher education to work toward alleviating wealth inequality

Setting the stage

We live in a time of unprecedented economic inequality in this country—unprecedented in severity, not in its existence.

Policy changes, like increasing the minimum wage, revising tax codes to make them more equitable, making health care more affordable, and funding child trust accounts (baby bonds) to promote asset building and reduce the racial wealth differences, hold promise for reducing economic inequality. But all those policy changes face stiff opposition—and if the income tax efforts in Washington State are any indication, too many won’t happen without a radical revision in our political organizing. The entrenched systems of power and privilege resist change. The most organized opposition in recent history, Bernie Sander’s bid to run as the Democratic presidential candidate, failed—at least in the short term. Without significant strategic organizing by those on the left, the dominant two party system that maintains the structures of inequality will continue apace.

Within this context, earning a college degree has taken on near mythical status as the most available means by which individuals can improve their own and their family’s economic status. Researchers and policy makers agree: people with more education have higher earnings.  On average, high school grads earn more than those without high school diplomas; college grads earn more than high school grads; and those with graduate degrees earn more than those with undergraduate degrees. The overall trend is clear: earning a college degree is a key to earning a higher income.

False dichotomy between learning and earning

Two factors—the uneven distribution of costs across race, ethnicity and family income that  are associated with going to college, and the uneven distribution of income across race, ethnicity and family income post-college—raises a third question for all students, but particularly for low-income students, Black students, and Latinx students: what exactly do you get in exchange for your tuition?

Some object to this line of questioning, arguing that focusing on student learning outcomes, one of the strategies used to assess and improve the quality of a college education, is part of a larger Neoliberal project aiming to “corporatize” universities. This position is short-sighted, even reactionary, and all too often expressed by those earning more than a living wage, sometimes with a lifetime guarantee awarded through the tenure process.

Indeed, higher education institutions find themselves existing in the context of corporatized public life where the distinction between the interests of corporations and those of individuals is still being sought through efforts to repeal Citizens United. For-profit colleges and universities too often make a profit at the expense of middle-class and working-class people who bought into the myth that a college degree would provide a rung on the proverbial ladder of opportunity. Too many administrators in higher education avoid questions about the quality of student learning, focusing instead on time to degree and rates of completion, as if the time-motion principles devised by Frederick Taylor in his early 20th century efforts to increase workers’ productivity could be applied to education. These dynamics effect all of education, not just higher education, and they merit resistance.

Resisting the call to focus on the quality of the education offered by colleges and universities to students, however, is antithetical to efforts to promote social justice, including reducing the wealth gap between Blacks and Latinxs and whites, and the employment opportunity gaps that exist between low-income families and families with higher incomes. Efforts to segregate conversations about learning from conversations about earning require educators to turn their backs on the material circumstances of students’ lives.

Costs of college

The Higher Education Act (HEA) signed by Lyndon Johnson in 1965 made college accessible to a generation of Americans. As Mark Huelsman argues in a paper written for Demos.org in 2015, the HEA created a system of need-based grants, work opportunities for students, and interest-free loans to cover unmet financial needs. Interest-bearing student loans were used primarily by middle-class families. Nixon extended those policies, arguing to Congress that “no qualified student who wants to go to college should be barred by lack of money.”

More students entered college, but then, Huelsman writes, “our public officials began to renege on their promise to invest in the higher education system. States started cutting per-student funding at public institutions and modest increases in grant aid were dwarfed by rising tuition.” Simultaneously, middle-class and working-class incomes began to stagnate. Gaps in wealth between white and Black, and white and Latinx households increased. Post-recession, Huelsman writes, White households have a median net worth 13 times higher than the wealth of Black households, ten times higher than the wealth of Latinx households. Two decades ago, median net worth of white households was six times higher than Latinx households, and seven times higher than Black households.

The combination of increased costs, decreased grant support, stagnant wages, and pre-existing and growing gaps in wealth across race and ethnicity effects college students differently. In an article that appeared in a January 2016 issue of Children and Youth Services Review, researchers from the School of Social Work at Washington University use data from a national sample of low- and moderate-income households to examine racial and ethnic variation in education debt. They found that the odds of student loan indebtedness are twice as high for low- to moderate-income Black students as compared with their white counterparts. These disparities persist after graduation.

In another study, written for Demos.org in 2016, Mark Huelsman describes the racial and class bias behind today’s levels of student borrowing like this: “The need to borrow for a four-year degree differs substantially by race and income. In fact, at public institutions, 81 percent of black students must borrow for a bachelor’s degree compared to 63 percent of white students. Low-income students—those who receive Pell Grants—are overwhelmingly more likely to borrow for a degree as well: 84 percent of Pell recipients who graduate must borrow compared to less than half (46 percent) of non-Pell recipients.”

Income after college

The racial and class bias present in student borrowing to go to college persists in income earned after college. In a memo on social mobility written for the Brookings Foundation in February 2016, Brad Hershbein presents data showing that the wages are lower for BA holders raised on low incomes than for those who were not. Hershbein writes: “college graduates from families with an income below 185 percent of the federal poverty level (the eligibility threshold for the federal assisted lunch program) earn 91 percent more over their careers than high school graduates from the same income group. By comparison, college graduates from families with incomes above 185 percent of the FPL earned 162 percent more over their careers (between the ages of 25 and 62) than those with just a high school diploma.”

Darrick Hamilton and William Darity (2016) make a related argument about the racial bias in income earned in a paper posted on the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis website: “Black college graduates are about as likely as white high school graduates to be unemployed, and have the average household wealth of white high school dropouts. So even after potentially earning a degree, those who came to college with fewer savings are less likely to see an earnings and wealth boost associated with a bachelor’s degree.”

In another Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis publication, William Emmons and Bryan North show that between 1992 and 2013, the median income of college-grad white families grew 13 percentage points more than their non-college counterparts, and the median income of college-grad Asian families grew 31 percentage points more than their non-college educated counterparts. In that same period, the median incomes of Hispanic and Black college-grads fell 10 percent and 12 percent respectively, while the median incomes of their non-college counterparts rose by 16 and 17 percent. Clearly, Emmons and North argue, higher education alone doesn’t level the economic playing field.

Esoteric radicalism or genuine alternative: Evergreen State College at a crossroads

The Evergreen State College was founded nearly fifty years ago as an alternative public liberal arts college. At that time, it was considered a radical revision to traditional universities because of the way it organized its courses and evaluated student learning.

According to the College Scorecard, a website established by the federal government because of concerns that too many students were attending schools that didn’t serve them well, and leaving them saddled with debt, fewer than half of students who attend Evergreen earn more than high school graduates of a comparable age. That’s the case at 53% of institutions nationwide—a group that includes two-year, four-year, public, independent, and for-profit colleges and universities. Washington State colleges and universities do better, on average.  At 66 of 80 colleges and universities included on the College Scorecard site, at least half the students who have attended earn more than similarly aged high-school graduates. That’s not the case with Evergreen.

Table 1: Percent of students meeting “threshold earning” six years after enrolling in selected WA institutions*

U of Washington -Tacoma75%U of Washington – Bothell75%Saint Martin’s University70%Central Washington69%Western Washington64%Eastern Washington63%South Puget Sound49%The Evergreen State College46%

* % of students earning more than similarly-aged HS graduates, 6 years after enrolling

The percentages reported here represent the share of former students who, six years after enrolling (four years for SPSCC), are earning more than similarly aged high school graduates. It’s based on the assumption that high school graduates between the ages of 25-34 earn an average of $25,000 per year. This calculation excludes students enrolled in graduate school.

The College Scorecard also reports average earnings of students who attended college ten years after they first enrolled. On this measure, Evergreen also falls short. According to MIT’s living wage calculator, in Thurston County, a living wage for one adult requires an hourly wage of $11.29. Annually, that’s $23,483. For an adult with one child, a living wage requires an annual income of $49,005. The median earnings for students who received federal financial aid ten years after entering Evergreen is $31,800.

Table 2: Median earnings of students who received federal financial aid, ten years after entering college

Avg annual salary after graduatingU of Washington -Tacoma$52,100U of Washington – Bothell$52,100Saint Martin’s University$47,400Central Washington$44,900Western Washington$43,200Eastern Washington$40,500South Puget Sound$31,600The Evergreen State College$31,800

Evergreen students accrue levels of debt similar to students at other Washington State universities, and their average monthly payments are similar. But with lower average earnings, the burden of that debt payment is bigger. Where U-Bothell and UW-Tacoma students pay, on average, less than 5% of their monthly income towards federal loans, Evergreen students pay, on average, closer to 7% per month.

Table 3: Median federal debt for graduates; repayment of 10-year loan with 6% interest

Avg debt – graduationAvg loan paymentU of Washington- Tacoma$16,326$181U of Washington – Bothell$16,326$181Saint Martin’s University$25,000$278Central Washington$21,267$236Western Washington$19,500$216Eastern Washington$20,500$228South Puget Sound CC$9,331$104The Evergreen State College$17,594$195

Given the racial and class biases in both borrowing and income earned after graduation, the demographics might help explain the relatively low wages of students who’ve attended Evergreen, but they don’t. As table 4 shows, Evergreen has a relatively high number of low-income students compared with comparable institutions, but it also has a relatively high proportion of white students.

Table 4: Students from families with incomes less than $40,000; percentage of white students

family incomes < 40K*white studentsU of Washington -Tacoma46%47%U of Washington – Bothell35%46%Saint Martin’s University37%54%Central Washington35%65%Western Washington26%75%Eastern Washington39%66%South Puget Sound31%64%The Evergreen State College44%66%

* receiving income-based PELL

What’s a college to do?

The earnings outcomes described here aren’t inevitable. Anthony Carnevale, Nicole Smith, and Jeff Strohl, researchers at Georgetown University’s Center on Education and Workforce, provide suggestions for educators interested in their students’ futures. By 2020, the team writes, 65% of all jobs in the economy will require postsecondary education and training beyond high school, and there will be 55 million job openings. Health care, community services, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are the fastest growing fields. The four most in-demand competencies in the labor market will be these:

  • Judgment/decision making
  • Communications
  • Analysis
  • Administration

All four of these competencies are compatible with a liberal arts education. All are learnable—people get better at them with practice over time and skilled coaching.

The question facing Evergreen today is whether, as a collective body, it can commit to providing students with sequenced learning opportunities designed to help all students develop skills and abilities necessary to make a living. In that way, not only would Evergreen be helping to alleviate economic inequality one student at a time, but those very same students would become an even more potent force for changing the very structures that hold inequality in place.

Emily Lardner lives and works in Olympia, Washington.

 

The post The value of an Evergreen education appeared first on Works in Progress.

This is our revolution. Si, se puede!

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:57am

The present political reality and the choices for Bernicrats in November and beyond

Currently, we arguably live in an  oligarchy. It is described by Wikipedia as a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with a small number of people. These people might be distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, education, corporate, religious or military control.” Examples: The Russian Federation, the United States of America.

“A 2014 Study by Martin Gilens, Professor of Politics at Princeton University, and Benjamin I. Page, Gordon S. Fulcher Professor of Decision Making at Northwestern University, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens”, analyzed nearly 1,800 policies enacted by the United States government between 1981 and 2002, and compared them to the expressed preferences of the American public as opposed to wealthy Americans and large special interest groups. It found that wealthy individuals and organizations representing business interests have substantial political influence, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little to none… Gilens and Page apply the concept of “civil oligarchy” as used by Jeffrey Winters with respect to the US. Winters has posited a comparative theory of “oligarchy” in which the wealthiest citizens—even in a “civil oligarchy” like the United States—dominate policy concerning crucial issues of wealth- and income-protection.” (Wikipedia)

Political power must be wrestled from the American oligarchy as it will use every bit of its immense power, including control of corporate media, to maintain its domination. The oligarchy will not leave meekly and gently in the night. Anyone who thinks this will be easy, or quickly done, is seriously misguided, naïve, or delusional. This a war, not a battle, albeit a just cause for those taking the oligarchy on.

There are 244 million Americans of voting age. Some 81 percent of us, about 198 million, are women, millennials, or persons of color. Of the remaining 46 million of us who are white males over the age of 35, a decent number are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. Absent a military coup, the eventual demise of the oligarchy is spelled out in these demographics, if the American People open their eyes and exercise their power in a concerted, sustained, effective manner.

Every political candidate should earn the votes of Progressives through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of voter values and views, demonstrated good judgement, and by running a campaign in a manner that demonstrates respect for voters, an ability to listen, and a recognition that maintaining the status quo in terms of those with extraordinary wealth and/or corporate influence over all levels of government has all but destroyed our Democracy and turned it into an Oligarchy is unacceptable.

There is absolutely no moral, social, or political equivalency between voting for Donald Trump or voting for Hillary Clinton. Nada. Zilch. None.

The Republican/Democratic nominees

I am not a fan of Hillary Clinton. Far from it. She is a product of and the embodiment of the Oligarchy. Let me be blunt: She and her Husband have received over $200 million of influence and access payments masquerading as speaking fees and control a massive self-promotion vehicle supported by $Billions that represents itself as a charitable foundation but spends the vast percentage of its budget on administrative overhead and promoting the Clintons.

Clinton is functionally a pro-choice moderate Republican who will extend the control of the oligarchy over economic policies for four years and will have to be constantly thwarted by an engaged electorate to prevent us from entering into further needless wars. Progressives will have to push, cajole, embarrass, and hem in Clinton – a hard but manageable task – to minimize negative impacts on the working class and our shrinking middle class. It will be a difficult four years with many suffering but the nation and the planet will survive.

Trump is a textbook case of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, a sociopath, bat shit crazy, suffering from the onset of dementia, or some combination thereof. It is clear his decision-making in matters of virtually any policy topic is irrational, ego driven, and inconsistent. If he ran our economy like he ran his businesses, he would start a trade war, a second Great Depression, and quite possibly a third World War. His instability, racism, misogyny, and xenophobia would be a cataclysmically divisive force likely not seen in our nation since our Civil War 150 years ago and potentially result in America becoming a pariah nation. His Climate Change Denial will push us to the edge of environmental extinction.

The best we can hope for if Donald Trump is elected is a quick impeachment and removal. Unfortunately, if Trump were removed from office, he’d be replaced by one of the most rightwing politicians in America – Mike Pence

At the worse, we could see an attempted or successful Military Coup or the Start of World War Three. There is no way Donald Trump should have access to nuclear launch codes. Seriously.

Hillary Clinton is a temporary barrier to Progressives defeating the American Oligarchy. Donald Trump is an immediate existential threat to the survival of our nation and planet. They are not equivalent. It is not a close call. Trump must never be elected President.

This is our Revolution. Yes, we can! Si se puede!

The Bernie revolution

We would have been even worse off if it were not for Bernie Sanders and what I would call “The Great Awakening.” A little known, Independent Socialist Senator from the state ranking 49th in population started a national movement that engaged America’s largest generation (Millennials), generated 13 million votes, made income inequality a widely recognized issue, propelled public awareness of the existential threat of climate change, and shook the oligarchy and political establishment to its core. Bernie and the Progressive Movement have at least temporarily pushed Clinton towards the left on important economic, social, trade, and environmental issues. Bernie achieved far more success than he or most of those of who are his supporters could have thought truly possible at the onset of his campaign. To his great credit, and to the equally great discredit of virtually every other nationally prominent progressive politician in the country, he did what they were too cowardly to do: took on the Clinton Political Machine, Democratic Party power structure, corporate media, and the American oligarchy for the Democratic presidential nomination. Amazingly, Bernie almost won – earning 46 percent of pledged delegates. Arguably, in a straight-up and fair nominating process, Sanders would have won.

Of course, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominating process was not straight-up and fair. The 2016 Democratic presidential nominating process was the most overtly manipulative, unethical, corrupt process in modern American political history. The integrity of the nominating process of two-thirds of Democratic state parties was shattered by fundraising arrangements with the Clinton campaign. The Democratic National Committee was essentially a completely controlled and biased appendage of the Clinton campaign.

Corporate media essentially parroted Clinton campaign speaking points from start to finish. Future historians will write that 2016 was the year corporate media completely forsook responsible journalism and engaged in wholesale and totally slanted propaganda to maximize profits and help determine a presidential race’s outcome. Murrow, Cronkite, Chancellor, Huntley, Brinkley, and Jennings are, no doubt, spinning in their respective graves.

Millions were prevented from exercising their franchise in a purposeful, underhanded, systematic manner. Ongoing investigations and law suits may very well prove actual vote rigging and miscounts in any number of states. Multiple academic researchers have reviewed primary election data and concluded that the results could only been achieved thru widespread vote fraud. Cal-Berkley and Stanford Studies placed the odds that Hillary Clinton won without widespread fraud at only 1 chance in 77 Billion (http://alexanderhiggins.com/stanford-berkley-study-1-77-bi…/).

This is our Revolution. Yes, we can! Si se puede!!

So, what are our options in 2016?

We have four candidates who possess the theoretical possibility of being elected President of the United States this November in that they will each be on enough States’ ballots to win 270 Electoral College Votes and the Presidency.

The “Democratic Party Nominee”, Hillary Clinton, is functionally a Pro-Choice Moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, who is the clear choice of the Oligarchy.

The “Republican Party nominee”, Donald Trump, as previously stated, is a textbook case of someone with narcissistic personality disorder, a sociopath, bat shit crazy, suffering from the onset of dementia, or some combination thereof. If elected, he has the serious potential to involve us in a constitutional crisis, internal strife not seen since the Civil War, a major economic depression, or even a third World War or a military coup to prevent such a war. A recent poll found one fifth of Republican voters want Trump to drop out.

The Libertarian Party nominee, Gary Johnson, is a former Republican governor of New Mexico and was also the 2012 Libertarian Presidential nominee. Johnson received about one million votes for President in 2012. Johnson’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 8.3%. (Real Clear Politics, conducted 8/1-10/16 )

The Green Party nominee, Jill Stein, is a medical doctor and was also the 2012 Green Party Presidential nominee. Stein received about 470,00 votes for President in 2012. Stein’s average support in recent polls in a four-way race is 3% (Real Clear Politics, conducted 8/1-10/16).

This is our Revolution. Yes, we can! Si se puede!

What are Libertarians?

They frequently describe themselves as “socially liberal and fiscally conservative.” I think that is half right—they are fiscally conservative but they are not consistently liberals on social issues. Critics label Libertarians as “Republicans who smoke pot.” Author Christopher Hitchens acerbically described Libertarians this way: “I have always found it quaint and rather touching that there is a movement in the U.S. that thinks Americans are not yet selfish enough.” Libertarians are secularized Republicans without the far right “Christian” moralistic bullshit, in my humble opinion.

David Koch, yes, one of those Koch brothers, net worth $44.2 Billion, was the 1980 Libertarian vice presidential nominee. Koch is hardly a progressive on any issue.

The 2016 Libertarian platform calls “for the repeal of the income tax” and the abolishment of “all federal programs and services not required under the U.S. Constitution.” Their platform also indicates “an employer should have the right to recognize or refuse to recognize a union…” and supports “restoring and reviving a free market health care system…” and “phase out the current government-sponsored Social Security system and transition to a private voluntary system. The proper and most effective source of help for the poor is the voluntary efforts of private groups and individuals.” Libertarians “oppose all government control of energy pricing, allocation, and production…” and “favor free-market banking, with unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types.”

Libertarians maintain “free markets and property rights stimulate the technological innovations and behavioral changes required to protect our environment and ecosystems.” Rather Darwinian and survival of the fittest, these Libertarians, but they’ll let folks smoke pot.

Green Party

The Green Party really isn’t a national political party at all yet – it’s more of a shell of a presidential candidate nominating process with fragmentary cells of supporters lightly scattered about the country and wrapped around a progressive and enlightened political platform reminiscent of a 21st Century version of Roosevelt’s New Deal. Think of what the Democratic Party platform would look like to a progressive without any corporate warping and distortion and you’d probably have something that would look very much like the Green Party platform. The Green Party is basically a philosophical pure version of the Democratic Party in terms of ideology, if the Democratic Party didn’t have any meaningful infrastructure and was free of all the corporate bullshit, bad influences, tremendous policy warping resulting from said bullshit and influences.

The “Ten Key Va2lues” of the Green Party Are Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice and Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Non-Violence, Decentralization, Community Based Economics, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, and Future Focus and Sustainability. The Green Party Platform includes “A Call to Action”, a Preamble, the “Ten Key Values” and detailed sections on “Democracy”, “Social Justice”, “Ecological Sustainability”, and “Economic Justice and Sustainability.” Most members of the “Democratic Wing of the Democratic Party” and certainly “Berniecrats” would be very comfortable with the 2016 Green Party Platform.

The times, they are a changing, and the Green Party may quickly start to transition from a noble concept to a functional political party with an influx of Sanders supporters abandoning the Democratic Party. Some observers frequently opine that most Sanders supporters will vote for Clinton. Others say Berniecrats are flocking to Jill Stein and the Green Party. Who is right? Well, maybe, in a way, both.

The nuance that most observers seem to miss is that tens of thousands of Sanders activists, the folks who did the grassroots organizing for Bernie, are indeed moving to support Stein and the Green Party. The movement of hardcore activists from the Sanders Campaign to the Green Party isn’t uniform or evenly distributed, but it is significant.

This isn’t to say that Berniecrats are leaving the Democratic Party in masse – they aren’t. Here in Washington State, the majority of incoming Precinct Committee Officers (PCO’s) could accurately be labelled Berniecrats. In my home county, home to the State Capital of Olympia, two thirds of incoming PCO’s are Berniecrats.

Nationally, Senator Sanders and his supporters are creating multiple organizations, including “Our Revolution”, a national network of Sanders activists who likely will heavily influence and frequently run Democratic Party organizations for years to come. Bernie may have been denied the nomination in 2016 but the Movement he catalyzed and changing demographics are converging in a manner that likely will mean Progressives will regain control of much of the Democratic Party in the near future.

But the Democrats likely won’t be the only progressive political party of consequence in America in the near future. The rise of the Green Party, powered by the influx of former Sanders supporters, is imminent.

Will the “Berning of the Greens” be enough to turn the Green Party into a full-fledged, functional Third Party in less than three months? No. Could the Green Party be a full-fledged, functional Third Party in 2020? Yes, but only if they do some serious organizing and get their collective shit together about building slates of candidates for local, state, and federal offices across the country.

The Green Party’s biggest weakness is that it has been almost exclusively focused the presidential elections, only recruiting and running candidates for lower tier races in a very limited number of jurisdictions in a small number of states. This has got change if the Greens want to be taken seriously. People want their pot holes fixed, safe neighborhoods, good schools, and dependable public services. The old saying that “all politics are local” is mostly true and the Green Party and its membership needs to show it can get voters’ garbage picked up and run cities and states before it will be trusted by most folks with leading the Free World and controlling the nuclear launch codes, regardless of how wonderfully progressive they are. For an American political party to be viewed as credible in a nation with 321 million citizens and a $19 trillion economy, it must not only think globally, it must act locally and be able to govern effectively in all the myriad and mundane ways citizens expect. I’m being real here.

I see a certain irony, and a whole lot of karma, in that if Bernie had won the Democratic nomination, it would have revitalized and democratized the Democratic Party, likely locked in Millennials, the largest generation in history, into strongly voting Democratic for decades, diminished the significance of the Green Party, and hastened the demise of the Republican Party as a relevant factor in presidential contests. Control and domination, unfair play and party building, were more important to the corporate wing of the Democratic Party. Consequently, the Democratic Party has alienated, in some cases permanently, large numbers of Millennial activists and other Bernie supporters. The Green Party has an opportunity to achieve a level of national political relevance that has so far eluded it.

This is our Revolution. Yes, we can! Si, se puede!

Who to vote for…

If you’ve read this far, you are probably wondering if this is where Joe says which candidate for president everyone should vote for. God knows damn near every person on Facebook with an opinion on the subject has been telling everyone else who they should support. I’m not going to do that. The reality is if you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to make up your own mind and 99 percent of voters are going to go through whatever decision processes they use and do just that. My circle of friends and family is large enough that some will vote for each of the four main presidential candidates and I’m not going to like or love any of them any more or any less based on who they vote for. If the Creator, evolution, or the quantum chance of our being in this portion of the multiverse made free will possible for our species, the rest of us ought to do the same for each other.

I will share who I’m voting for and my reasoning: readers may agree, disagree, or ignore as they wish.

To place my decision in context, in 38 years of voting, I’ve only knowingly voted for a Republican for any public office once in my entire life and I’ve regretted that vote for almost four decades and tried to make amends for that vote. I have voted in nine presidential elections in my life and nine times, I voted for the Democratic Candidate. In the language of politics, I am referred to as a “Strong Democrat” and a “Perfect Voter” (vote every election).

Unless there appears to be chance that Donald Trump might actually carry Washington State and it’s 12 Electoral College votes, something highly unlikely, given all available political information, Washington’s voting history, and current polling data, I am planning on voting for Democratic candidates for all other elective offices and for Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate, for President of the United States of America.

Donald Trump would be an existential threat to the nation and planet. To avoid that risk, I would force myself to vote for the oligarchy’s candidate and a functionally pro-choice moderate Republican with militaristic tendencies, Hillary Clinton, if Trump were leading or within striking distance of Clinton in Washington when it was time to cast my ballot.

Absent the possibility of a Trump win in Washington State, I will vote for the candidate who, imperfect as she may be, presents both the opportunity to vote for my progressive values and beliefs and the opportunity to send a message to the oligarchy. I will vote for Jill Stein.

Let me be blunt, the oligarchy will win this round in the battle for our future and Hillary Clinton will become the next President of the United States. No objective review of the available evidence and polling data would suggest otherwise. Even the Republican-oriented Rasmussen Reports is projecting Hillary Clinton at 348 Electoral College votes, well above the 270 needed to win the Presidency.

For Jill Stein to have had a chance to win in 2016, she would have had to have most or all of Sanders Supporters pivot their support to her and that clearly didn’t happen. If she had surged above 10 percent in the polls after the Democratic Convention, and progressed to rise to force her inclusion in the Presidential Debates, stellar debate performances on her part would have changed the political equation and she would have had a chance to be truly competitive. That didn’t happen and Stein won’t win in 2016.

However, short of a dramatic change in the polls that indicate Trump could take Washington State, I won’t validate the blatant, systematic manipulation and corruption of the presidential nomination process by the Democratic power structure, corporations, and corporate media with a vote for Hillary Clinton. Absent the existential threat of a Trump victory, I won’t go there.

I will cast a vote for Stein to support the germinating seed that is the Green Party in 2016 and I will work within the local Democratic Party, where Berniecrats have a clear majority, to progressively shape local and state Democratic politics, candidates, and campaigns. Call this an inside/outside strategy.

The second American Revolution continues. We Progressives need to play the long game to defeat the oligarchy and generate a rebirth of true democracy. Success will not occur in one election cycle – neither did getting to the point we are at as a nation. With persistence, hard work, and sustained effort, we will get to a point where we defeat the oligarchy and have two national progressive political parties, a revitalized Democratic Party and a vibrant, fulling formed Green Party. This is our revolution. Stand up, speak out, fight on.

This is our revolution. Yes, we can! Si, se puede!

Joe Nilsson has long been active as a Democrat, holding positions in the Washington State Democratic Party both at the local and state levels.

 

The post This is our revolution. Si, se puede! appeared first on Works in Progress.

Our jobs are disappearing

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:47am

“We need a new paradigm. We need guaranteed jobs. We need a guaranteed income to ensure that the benefits of 60 years of U.S. prosperity go to all Americans.” — Paul Buchheit

Americans are feeling the impoverishing effects of the shift from middle-income to low-income jobs. The disappearance—or, more accurately, downsizing—of living-wage jobs is documented by numerous reports that reveal the suddenness and the extent of this affront to middle America.

First, the neoliberal explanation: It’s not really happening

Business writer Robert Samuelson calls the post-recession low-wage recovery a “myth.” To support his claim he cites a study from the Economic Policy Institute which, according to Samuelson, proves that “the economy’s employment profile—the split between high- and low-paying jobs—hasn’t changed much since the recession or, indeed, the turn of the century.”

But the EPI analysis is based on average wages within industries, rather than on the median, which reflects unequal growth. If the median had kept up with the average over the past 15 years, the current median wage would be $1/hour higher, or about $2,000 per year. The employment profile has actually changed a great deal since the year 2000.

There’s more. The EPI analyst claims that “jobs are being added relatively in proportion to their share.” But she only considers one year’s data, after much of the damage had already been done. Even so, the EPI figures show that the percentage of middle-wage jobs added in 2014 was 6.3 percent less than the overall percentage of middle-wage jobs (42.7% to 40%)—a rather dramatic change for a single year.

The painful evidence: Middle class jobs are disappearing

The Wall Street Journal, reporting on a Georgetown University study, concludes that “many middle-wage occupations, those with average earnings between $32,000 and $53,000, have collapsed.” Collapsed. High-wage occupations in technology, medicine, and finance are booming, and so are low-wage occupations in food service, retail, and personal care. But middle-income positions are fading away. The only one of the eight fastest-growing occupations that pays over $32,000 per year is nursing.

Manufacturing, once the backbone of mid-level employment, continued to decline in 2015. The Bureau of Labor Statistics determined that 18 percent of all displaced workers in 2011-13 were in manufacturing.

The evidence keeps accumulating. A US Mayors study found that ‘recovery’ jobs pay 23 percent less than the jobs they replaced. The National Employment Law Project estimates that low-wage jobs accounted for 22 percent of job losses but 44 percent of subsequent job gains. Business Insider, Huffington Post, and the Wall Street Journal all concur: the unemployment rate is remaining low because of low-paying jobs.

About that unemployment rate

The true unemployment rate, if discouraged and part-time workers are included, is double that of the official rate. It’s probably much worse. Alliance for a Just Society estimates that there are 7 job seekers for every $15/hour job opening.

No, this is not your 19th Century textile economy

Some analysts use simplistic comparisons with ages-old economies to assure us that everyone will eventually get a good job. The Atlantic spouts: “The job market defied doomsayers in those earlier times, and according to the most frequently reported jobs numbers, it has so far done the same in our own time.” Economist Dean Baker rants about robots: “Large numbers of elite thinkers are running around terrified that we will have millions of people who have no work because the robots have eliminated the need for their labor…We have been seeing workers displaced by technology for centuries, this is what productivity growth is.”

But there are two differences now: (1) In the past technology created middle-class jobs, manufacturing jobs, white-collar jobs, HIGHER-PAYING jobs. Now the jobs are at the extremes, either high-level or low-level, with tech-related jobs on the higher end and service-related jobs on the lower end. And (2) Globalization has outsourced middle-income jobs, not only from rich to poor countries, but also from one developing nation to another, as, for example, from China to Vietnam.

The World Economic Forum suggests we’re “on the cusp of a Fourth Industrial Revolution” in which “smart systems” in our homes, factories, farms, and entire cities will help get our work done.

We can’t wait around for a 19th-century recovery. We need a new paradigm. We need guaranteed jobs. We need a guaranteed income to ensure that the benefits of 60 years of U.S. prosperity go to all Americans, not just to the few who know how to redistribute the nation’s wealth.

Paul Buchheit is a college teacher, an active member of US Uncut Chicago, founder and developer of social justice and educational websites (UsAgainstGreed.org, PayUpNow.org, RappingHistory.org), and the editor and main author of American Wars: Illusions and Realities (Clarity Press).   

This article is reprinted with permission from the author.

The post Our jobs are disappearing appeared first on Works in Progress.

How to host a sonnet party

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:46am

In the August issue of Works in Progress, the editorial collective was gracious. Instead of haranguing me about missing a deadline, they published my poem “Occupy Sonnet” that they had tucked away in their reserves, perhaps in anticipation of my precise indiscretion. With all of the violence in the world this summer, I’ve opted for a little poetry levity this month, sharing some of what I’ve learned about a timeless poetry classic: the sonnet.

Most associated with expressing the 16th century’s concept of courtly love, the sonnet continues to embody this century’s aspirations for humanity’s elusive quest for peace and love. Two of the most famous sonnet writers, William Shakespeare and Petrarch perfected what we’ve come to understand as the gold standard for sonnets. Shakespeare employed his fourteen lines in a set rhyme scheme of four quartets ending with a rhyming couplet (abab//cdcd//efef//gg), and a metrical requirement, iambic pentameter or ten syllables to a line.  Petrarch’s sonnets utilized an octave with the rhyme scheme abbaabba and a sestet with one of two rhyme schemes, cdecde or cdcdcd. Others over the centuries who demonstrated a compelling knack for the sonnet include Elizabeth Barrett Browning, John Donne, Edmund Spenser, and Edna St. Vincent Millay.

Late 20th century American poets Marilyn Hacker, Adrienne Rich, and David Wojohn crafted their sonnets to reflect the world they experienced, often choosing to exercise more than their share of freedom in relaxing the strict standards of the English and Italian sonnets of centuries past. In today’s freer world of verse, sometimes the only thing that distinguishes the sonnet is its fourteen lines.  Still other poets even ignore this rule to make an anti-sonnet statement. This was the case with my “Occupy Sonnet” which inhabited thirteen lines as a metaphorical way to draw attention to the broken state of current American affairs. Inadvertently, the editors of WIP also rebroke a few of my line breaks, hence burying part of the rhyme scheme and obfuscating the form further.  As I write this, I consider whether pushing the sonnet to its almost unrecognizable limits all together like Bill Knott’s “Sonnet” adds to a deeper understanding of the poem’s power.

So how can the sonnet support our understanding of the economy of words? The sonnet requires the writer to lock oneself in a box and partner with the form to assure escape. Every word must resonate because there is no real estate to waste. Working in such tight quarters often will create the happiest of accidents. The rhyme often forces the writer to travel to linguistic places never considered.

For years, I’ve experimented with the form in community, holding sonnet parties with large groups of writers.  This summer produced a serendipitous moment during one such party.  A guest lecturer in Evergreen’s Writer’s Paradise program, I was leading the class through an exercise to choosing the fourteen end-line words that we would each use to write a sonnet.  About halfway through the laboriously fun task of contemplating the nuances of these words, my cell phone rang.  Usually I wouldn’t even consider answering the phone, but it was my Formica table broker calling with a lead on a rare 1950s table with chairs.  My broker also happens to be an Evergreen faculty librarian and a frequent contributor to Works in Progress, so I answered, put Liza Rognas on speaker phone, and explained what we were doing in class.  Liza, never one to miss a beat, played along with us, even daring us to include the word “librarian” in the scheme.

Armed with our fourteen words, the class and I spent the next week grappling with our individual sonnets, and I even cajoled Liza to try her hand at writing one.  The fourteen words couldn’t have produced more diverse poems.  Liza chose to use her words in what she calls “upside down” order — exhale appears in the first line — while in my sonnet exhale is the final word of the poem and anchors the rhyming couplet. Liza’s sonnet “Beyond Reproach” appears with her permission with my “In Praise of Librarians.” I’ve italicized the shared words to demonstrate a little of what you can expect if you choose to throw your own sonnet party:

 

Beyond Reproach

It’s not enough to exhale and then hold a breath,

as if we feared every face behind a veil could bring death

at any hour of any day, like a librarian

closing a book on our collective power to change.

 

So don’t use poached rhetoric to sway obtuse and hate-filled hearts

running with chartreuse and vitriolic passion.

Let those forces wither and starve, lacking good words

for patriotism’s empty, war-filled rage.

 

Peace, a word above reproach, requires hearts to find it.

Compassionate words liberate fault, by guilt

and ignorance bound, removing that which we salt away

to fight for Fear’s best-known cause.

 

All kind words drown that which hate inspires,

leaving love to tend our wounded.

—Liza Rognas

 

In Praise of Librarians

I love delicious books because I like to drown

in words. I like the feel of them as savory as salt

water on my tongue. I like that I am bound

to quench my thirst more than I want. Why fault

 

the inside of these mysteries beyond reproach?

Never-ending questions blossom in chartreuse

bouquets of wonder, similar to the poached

magic of eggs on a July morning or the many uses

 

of encyclopedias that hold all their power

in their tight fists. And I have longed for that librarian

who lurks in all of us to reinvent me in the restless hours

spent writing poetry. Who wouldn’t want a brain

 

addled like that? Who wouldn’t want to unveil

that kind of devotion with each raptured exhale?

— Sandra Yannone

 

What might your sonnet party generate?  Why not gather a group of willing troubadours for a late summer evening and try your minds at coming up with the fourteen words, then writing your individual sonnets, reconvening later to share what you’ve created.  Who knows?  Maybe even a few of your sonnets could end up in Works In Progress and begin the next sonnet Renaissance.

Sandra Yannone is a poet, educator, and antique dealer in Olympia.  She is a Member of the Faculty and Director of the Writing Center at The Evergreen State College. 

 

The post How to host a sonnet party appeared first on Works in Progress.

Call to oppose military shipments, again

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:39am

The reasoning behind PMR’s opposition

For two weeks in November 2007, anti-war activists organizing as Port Militarization Resistance (PMR) literally laid their bodies in the street, on the ground, and against the gate in opposition to continued U.S. war and occupation when local government attempted to militarize their port and city streets. PMR is a movement with many affinity groups and individuals who joined in 2007 to resist the militarization of our community in our names.

Now, nearly a decade later, the cash-strapped Port of Olympia is again considering military shipments through the Port and city streets. And once again, PMR is organizing in opposition to complicity in the illegal and immoral war represented by these shipments. Some activists opposing port militarization are focusing on transforming the port’s economy to avoid any future such military shipments.

Regardless of affinity, activists emphasize their resistance is not toward service members, but in opposition to the wars that began in Iraq and Afghanistan and that have evolved under the Obama administration to interventionism across the world. PMR strongly disagrees with any suggestions that the wars are “over.”

As the Port of Olympia again seeks to introduce military shipments through this community with a large population opposed to U.S. global aggression, it would seem to behoove the port commissioners to consider the costs incurred in 2007. News reports noted hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on police actions that abused citizens exercising their free speech and assembly rights. The City of Olympia reported police costs amounting to $112,168 with a $42,000 shortfall to be billed to Department of Defense. The city also incurred significant legal costs associated with civil complaints brought by citizens for civil rights violations.

It is notable that prior to com-mencement of the Iraq War in 2001 and continuing through the Bush Administration, social justice and anti-war activists testified in opposition to U.S. war and occupation, marched in protests and held rallies and vigils. They petitioned their representatives, made calls, and held sit-ins. Yet nearly a decade later, the U.S. has expanded its intervention and occupation while thousands of U.S. military lives and millions of innocent Middle Eastern lives continue to be lost. And absent their consent, citizens and taxpayers are in debt for wars costing untold numbers of lives and trillions of dollars.

In 2007, when activists learned the USNS Brittin would dock in Olympia to unload its cargo, activists rallied as PMR with the goal of ending local complicity in illegal and immoral war. The USNS Brittin arrived at the Port of Olympia on November 5, 2007 carrying military equipment from the Iraq War. The equipment belonged to the 3rd Brigade 2nd Infantry Division and PMR learned it was the same equipment that had been shipped out from the Port of Olympia in May 2006 when the initial resistance occurred. Though PMR had earlier decided not to obstruct the “return” of equipment, upon learning it would be repaired at Fort Lewis and returned to Iraq in a revolving door of war support, activists reconsidered. In November 2007 PMR adopted an equipment “containment” policy to block the revolving-door refurbishment process and based on health concerns related to depleted uranium (DU).

Sadly, the troops from the 3rd Brigade returned to Ft. Lewis in October, 2007 minus 48 soldiers who were killed in Iraq. PMR’s goal was to “end our community’s participation in the illegal occupation of Iraq by stopping the military’s use of the Port of Olympia.” From the outset, PMR sought to educate, through rallies, marches, die-ins, and through acts of peaceful civil disobedience, about the war and how the military’s use of the Port supports the military occupation. In November, 2007, after thirteen days of resistance by more than 500 activists, and despite unprovoked police violence, there was a sense that direct action and civil resistance by committed citizens can make a difference.

Then, when Barack Obama was elected there were high expectations that war would end and U.S. imperialist policy would change, but the devastating reality is that along with many other policy disappointments, war did not end. If anything, we’ve seen expanded U.S. interventionism in Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Honduras.

The Obama administration drew-down troop levels, but expanded private security with public funding, and adopted the use of kill lists and drones. The drone program created by the George W. Bush administration carried out ten times more drone assassination attacks under the Obama administration.  The Centre for Research on Globalization reported a year ago that, “According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, the George W. Bush administration ordered 50 drone attacks while the government of current US President Barack Obama has already launched around 500 such strikes. Obama primarily ordered assassination strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Afghanistan.” While the U.S. claims the CIA-led and non-U.N.-sanctioned drone strikes are to kill militants, casualty figures show innocent women and children are often the targets.

The intersectionality of U.S. military imperialism with the social, human rights, and planetary costs of war must be understood to identify the widespread and multiple forms of opposition to it in Olympia and beyond.

First and foremost, the U.S. military is the primary coercive institution utilized to ensure U.S. political and economic dominance throughout the world. This dominance is thoroughly racialized as the non-white victims of U.S. imperialism are dehumanized in some way or another.

Over the last decade and a half, the U.S. military has wreaked havoc on the Middle East as it killed hundreds of thousands of people, annihilated civilian infrastructures, and bred political extremism in response in the region.

Climate justice and anti-militarism resistance is also crucial to addressing climate change as the Department of Defense is the largest institutional carbon emitter in the world.

Another intersection in U.S. militarism and imperialism is integral for expressing solidarity with Palestinian liberation and exposing the cozy relationship between the U.S. and the Israel Defense Forces.

Participating in the anti-war movement is to challenge the internally violent nature of the military, where rates of gendered violence and assault are astronomically high.

Finally, and especially egregious, the inverse of high and ever-increasing military expenditure for death and destruction abroad is austerity and draconian reductions in social spending at home. Funding for bombing homes in Iraq or providing Israel with resources to shell UN schools in Gaza, comes at the direct expense of funding for affordable housing, universal healthcare, education and schools, transportation and utilities infrastructure, alternative energy, and caring for social safety-net programs in the U.S.

According to National Priorities, U.S. taxpayers are paying $8.36 million every hour for Total Cost of Wars since 2001.  And for the Department of Defense, Thurston County taxpayers are paying $320.12 million annually, not including the cost of war.

Here’s what those tax dollars could have paid for instead:

  • 3,802 Elementary School Teachers for 1 Year, or
  • 4,321 Clean Energy Jobs Created for 1 Year, or
  • 5,762 Infrastructure Jobs Created for 1 Year, or
  • 3,201 Jobs with Supports Created in High Poverty Communities for 1 Year, or
  • 31,736 Head Start Slots for Children for 1 Year, or
  • 32,560 Military Veterans Receiving VA Medical Care for 1 Year, or
  • 8,782 Scholarships for University Students for 4 Years, or
  • 13,762 Students Receiving Pell Grants of $5,815 for 4 Years, or
  • 166,211 Children Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or
  • 314,820 Households with Wind Power for 1 Year, or
  • 91,032 Adults Receiving Low-Income Healthcare for 1 Year, or
  • 194,462 Households with Solar Electricity for 1 Year

Today’s U.S. military aggression with its secret kill-list targeted drone assassinations eclipses the illegal and immoral Iraq and Afghanistan wars PMR resisted in 2006 and 2007. Therefore, consistent with the UN Charter and the Nuremberg Principles that prohibits acts of military aggression and requires citizens of a democracy to hold their government accountable, PMR will again resist militarizing our port and streets. PMR refuses to be complicit in illegal and immoral war, and activists are prepared to protest, disrupt, and engage in non-violent direct action if the Port of Olympia renews military shipments.

As activists again take to the streets, people of conscience are asked to join the resistance to U.S. imperialism and interventionism. People of conscience are asked to stand up to prevent military and economic power structures to divide and deter us from resisting illegal and immoral occupation in our names.

Some ways to get involved in PMR include attending organizing meetings and forums, testify to the port commission and city council about your opposition to military shipments, contact the Joint Base Lewis McChord (JBLM) and Department of Defense, write or call your congressional representative, write a letter to the editor, report on social media, and join PMR marches and rallies. A newly created Facebook page—Port Militarization Resistance-Olympia—will share information about opportunities to testify to local governmental bodies, and when and where to march, rally, and protest, among other organizing activities. One thing is certain—any attempt to militarize the local community for war profiteers will again be met with non-violent civil resistance.

Again, PMR is not an organization, it is a resistance movement, so there are not formal organizational structures. However, those interested can feel free to reach out to the authors of this article via email.

Kyle Taylor Lucas is an American Indian freelance writer and Indigenous, social, economic, environmental, and human rights activist based in Olympia.   KyleTaylorLucas@msn.com

Robert Gorrill is a political activist based in Olympia. BobbyGorrill@gmail.com

The post Call to oppose military shipments, again appeared first on Works in Progress.

Update on Bryson and André  Chaplin-Thompson case

Works in Progress - Thu, 09/01/2016 - 11:33am

Westside police shooting victims

On May 21, 2015, Bryson (21) and André Chaplin-Thompson (23) were shot by an Olympia police officer after a failed attempt to steal beer from a Safeway grocery store on the Westside of Olympia, Washington. The young Black men are brothers, were unarmed, and while the officer shot at body mass, striking several times (as police are trained to do, in the science of force and Use of Force), Bryson and André thankfully survived the shooting. One of the bullets fired that hit Bryson is still lodged in his spinal column, and has caused paralysis from the waist down. The white police officer, 35-year-old Ryan Donald, was not injured, but did report by radio that he had been “assaulted with a skateboard.” The shooter, Officer Donald, like every single Washington State law enforcement officer (ever) that has used excessive force, was not indicted and was cleared of any wrongdoing. Bryson and André, however, are being accused of trumped-up and very serious charges of assault. Rather than dropping the charges, which was the rallying plea of the Olympia activist community supporting this family, the county prosecutor brought criminal charges against the two young men.

On January 21, 2016 at 10:30am, the Thurston County Courthouse is buzzing with activity. Inside a heavily-monitored, large crowded courtroom, a steady stream of people accused of crimes (and victims of The System), await the next name to be called, taking turns to meet their fate or find out the date of their next appearance. Some people are no-shows. The back of the courtroom is lined with tables as makeshift desks over which check-ins are happening. There is a nearly distracting hum of voices as folks are last-minute prepping to stand before the judge, with mostly white men in suits talking with clients. At the helm of the proceedings is Thurston County “Superior” Court Judge Carol Murphy, a woman, and the most powerful white person in the room, seated higher than everyone else, displaying her power very clearly. Most of the rotating lawyers on both sides are white, while the “defendants” are Black, Brown, Poor and People with Disabilities. On the left wall above the empty jury seats are huge photos of four (presumably very important) white judges who are men. Above the “superior” court judge’s high perch is an embossed gold portrait of George Washington himself, the emblem of the state of Washington, a glaring symbol of colonization.

Front and center of the courtroom, waiting to be called before the judge, are the tight-knit Chaplin-Thompson family. In the aisle in his wheelchair is Bryson, holding a Chicago Bulls hat on his lap. To his right is his sister Jasmine, and next to Jasmine is André, and to his right is their mom, Crystal Chaplin. You can feel the love between this family, they are a unit. There are members of community in support of André and Bryson sprinkled throughout the courtroom. André and Bryson wait patiently for two hours, then find out from one of their lawyers, George Trejo, that they can actually leave without being seen by the judge. Hurry up and wait, and now go home. Papers have been signed and the next court appearance is in April 2016, and failures to appear will lead to warrants.

In the United States there is a nationwide crisis of profiling, police terror and violence against Black people. It is a low estimate that somewhere in the U.S. every 28 hours a Black Loved One is killed by law enforcement, and that does not consider those who “disappear” or who die in custody. In the state of Washington the Black population is 3.6 percent and in Olympia it is 2 percent (2010 Census report). The percentage of Black folks incarcerated statewide in Washington is 18.1 percent (Dec 2015 Department of Corrections). Not unlike other cities, such as San Francisco, where the Black population is 3 percent and more than half the jail’s population is Black, anti-Black racism is alive and well in Olympia, Washington and plays out loudly in the actions of police (Ryan Donald) and the white people who call them (employees of Safeway).

It’s 8 am on July 7, 2016 and Bryson bounces down three steps to the sidewalk in his wheelchair (which has a flat tire); he’s gotten extremely good at navigating using his chair. “I didn’t get much sleep,” he says. André joins him; “me neither,” he says. They both look very tired, and for good reason, as they are about to make yet another early morning, mandatory pre-trial court appearance and they have been mourning the loss of many Black extended-community members recently killed by police. “My mom should be right out,” André tells his friend who has come to help with a ride. Crystal’s car broke down the night before. Bryson lifts himself into the car while André breaks down the  wheelchair and finds room for it in the back of the car.

“Did you hear about the shooting, the one in the car?” Bryson asks his friend. “Philando Castile!” they exclaim. The conversation is solemn as the three talk about the violent lynchings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile—the videos of their executions by police had just been all over social media.

Rest in power Philando Castile.

Rest in power Alton Sterling.

Crystal emerges from the house: “Alright let’s go,” she says.

Today the courtroom is very empty; on the left are four People of Color, attorney (and Woman) Sunny Ko, then André. Next to him is George Trejo, then Bryson. On the right side of the courtroom are the two white prosecutors, Scott Jackson and Wayne Graham. There’s a different judge presiding, white Judge Tabor, who is flanked by a white stenographer and white bailiff. Judge Tabor is very close to retiring, he announces this from his throne.

“This is a status conference,” Tabor announces. He talks about a “3.5 hearing” that happened recently where yet another Judge—Judge Dixon—made a ruling of some sort in this case. What he says doesn’t make a lot of sense to an outsider, and he’s very jokey about it. It does seem strange that this is the third judge involved presiding over the fate of two men, but this guy makes it clear he’s the judge presiding now, and will be seeing this trial through.

“Mr. Rogers, who is not a party to this case, and represents Donald, [the lawyer of Ryan Donald] is not present,” the Judge points out. It isn’t mentioned but Ryan Donald is also not present.

“August 15th is not gonna work,” Judge Tabor says. The prosecutors are concurring (fancy lawyer talk) that maybe August 15th is “too soon.” This is the date André and Bryson’s family and their community thought that the criminal trial was finally set to start. It becomes clear that this court appearance is about scheduling, not dropping charges as what seems an obvious solution. Judge Tabor then addresses the defense, and infers that it is taking the defense a long time; he tells Trejo “this date was set long ago.”

Bryson’s lawyer Trejo tells the judge that this hold-up has everything to do with a defiant and inaccessible officer Ryan Donald. Interviews so far with Donald were unsuccessful. Trejo finds it problematic that when interviewed, Officer Ryan Donald had this “inability to recall disciplinary action” that has happened to him as a police officer.

Donald refused to respond to any questions about racism, having referred to André and Bryson as “thugs.”

Also, on March 1, 2016, a date set for Officer Ryan Donald to be questioned by Ko and Trejo, Donald was a no-show. At that time Donald refused to attend.  He was on paid “administrative leave,”  as he was one of five Olympia Police Department officers present during the  in-custody death of Loved One Jeffrey McGaugh on February 29, 2016.

Rest in power Jeffrey McGaugh.

If André or Bryson hadn’t shown up for a court date, they would be in jail.

Trejo also talked about a “motion to sever counts” under the 8.3 motion, because “the state provided Donald with all the discovery on the case.” This sounds like Donald is being given all kinds of background information and history about André and Bryson, yet Donald won’t even answer direct questions, questions being asked by two People of Color, the defense lawyers Ko and Trejo. It is likely that Donald the kkkop is still writing his narrative of what happened.

Trejo agrees that August 15 is too soon. The reason for this is the lack of officer Donald’s version of what happened the night he shot-to-kill André and Bryson. When Donald finally complies with that requirement, Ko (Andre’s lawyer) explains that expert witnesses will then need time to review his assessment. Ko pushes for Donald’s narrative, and some time to review it before trial. There’s a deadline for the defense team to interview Donald and it is July 29.

Judge Tabor then said something that sounded a lot like someone who thought fairness and justness and truth are irrelevant. From his seat above everyone else, to a mostly empty courtroom, Judge Tabor said “I know this case has high visibility, and people have strong feelings. They have a right to their feelings and opinions about what’s right and wrong. But that doesn’t matter here,” he said. “Legal issues need to be assessed here.”

Then the Judge told the court his scheduling conflicts the coming months, and he excused himself from the courtroom so the prosecutors and the defenders could come to a decision about scheduling.

The scheduling conversation comes off like a strange insider’s theatric performance. It takes place in a bubble of laughter and talk of vacations and other pending cases (so much going on) and talk of more vacations… Even the stenographer gets in on the scheduling back and forth, describing this judge’s jury selection process to be predictable (and hilarious apparently). She described Tabor’s jury selection process as “half hour, half hour, half hour, 20 minutes, 20 minutes, half hour, hopefully done by noon.” And all the lawyers with the stenographer and the bailiff laugh together, because that’s so funny. “Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,” they laugh, like no one else is in the room.

All the while André and Bryson sit there. They are not laughing. They are not in on the joke. They face hard time in prison for failing to steal beer (no beer actually left the store) and for getting almost killed by a racist police officer. Crystal and a few friends, the only other people in the courtroom, also just sit there. They exchange looks, also not laughing. One of them is a child. Even he knows this process is unjust, this Black family’s fate in the hands of these people in this system.

The defense and prosecution, never ever involving André nor Bryson in the conversation, come to the conclusion that October 3 is the date the trial will start. It will begin with jury selection. The Judge returns. It is agreed the trial will likely run 3-4 weeks. After all, these folks are the ones with the power, they know how it works, they are experienced and knowledgeable, they make the decisions. The judge says someone must coordinate with Mr. Rogers (Officer Donald’s lawyer, who is not “party to this court”) to confirm. The judge and Trejo also decide that July 20 at 8:30am is when Bryson must appear one more time, about those motions Trejo had filed.

The community is requested to please attend the estimated 3-4 week criminal trial for André and Bryson that begins October 3, 2016.

[Please read a related article, A Mother’s Cry for Justice by Crystal Chaplin online in the BayView National Black Press at sfbayview.com.]

Lisa Ganser is a white, Disabled, genderqueer artist living in Olympia, WA, on colonized Squaxin land. They are a copwatcher, a sidewalk chalker, and the daughter of a momma named Sam.

This article was originally published in POOR Magazine, based in Oakland, California. The organization is a poor people led/indigenous people led, non-profit, grassroots, arts organization dedicated to providing revolutionary media access, arts, education and solutions from youth, adults and elders in poverty across Pachamama (Mother Earth).

 

Editorial note: According to nomy lamm, who attended a packed pre-trial hearing Wednesday, July 20, the judge seemed “annoyed with both lawyers as he used the word ‘puffery.’ ” Officer Donald had not yet given an official statement and Mr. Rogers, Donald’s lawyer, said a statement  would not be given unless one was ordered. Nomy described a back and forth “as to whether it would be an ‘interview’ with Bryson’s lawyer, Trejo, or if it would be a formal deposition, which would be ‘under oath.’ It was a little strange that this would be a sticking point.” The judge put an end to it by ordering a deposition of up to five hours. A “not so cool part” was that they would not be allowed to ask questions “about whether or not Officer Donald was racist, because racism is ‘subjective.’ ”

Also reported was a discussion of whether or not Mr. Trejo needed to issue a formal apology though nomy was not sure for what. “I heard Trejo say that he couldn’t find any precedent of a lawyer ever having to issue an apology and the judge said no, he didn’t need to do that. In addition, Trejo kept saying at this point, with no statement from Donald as to what injuries he sustained, he is not the victim in the case, he is merely a ‘complaining witness.’ ” nomy thought that was “kind of awesome.”

Jury selection will be held September 28 at 9 am and is open to the public. The trial is scheduled to begin October 3.

 

The post Update on Bryson and André  Chaplin-Thompson case appeared first on Works in Progress.

Selector Dub Narcotic “And Stuff like that There”

K Records - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 6:50pm
Hold on a sec while I fix my hair – “And Stuff like that There”, the second video from the debut Selector Dub Narcotic album This Party Is just Getting Started [KLP199] directed by Red Williamson of Newspin Films. Featured players are Calvin Johnson, Chris Sutton and Smoke M2D6. Can you feel that something in […]
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

15th Annual Summer’s End at Lacey Car Show Offers Something for Everyone

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 12:19pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by The City of Lacey  Each year, as summer comes to an end, the Lacey Parks & Recreation Department and Cool Creek Nites Car Club have partnered to present a car show highlighting local car enthusiasts and encouraging classic car owners to come to Lacey. That partnership has joined with the Lacey South Sound […]

Sirens, Horns Will Salute Troops September 9, 7:45 a.m. in Annual Foofaraw

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 11:12am

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by the Port of Olympia When you see lights flashing and hear sirens sounding on the Port of Olympia docks on Sept. 9, 7:45 a.m. to 9:00 a.m., please do not be alarmed! It is not an emergency. It is the Port and local “First Responders” joining with the Olympia Yacht Club and Thurston […]

New Faculty Members Expand SPSCC’s List of World-Class Educators

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 10:49am

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by South Puget Sound Community College Each year, SPSCC has the honor of recognizing its newest faculty members. This year, the college is especially excited to onboard a group of world-class educators from diverse and remarkable backgrounds. Chad Bacon Advanced Manufacturing Technology Professor, Applied Technology Chad Bacon joins the full-time faculty at SPSCC after […]

Merle Norman Serves Three Generations in One Family

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

If you stay in business long enough, some funny things start to happen – like you may find yourself working with the great-grandchildren of the clients you had when you started decades earlier. That’s the experience for Madelin White, who has been running the Merle Norman Cosmetics, Wigs and Day Spa in Lacey for 42 […]

Ava Shackell Setting the Bar High for Black Hills Cross Country

Thurston Talk - Wed, 08/31/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Cross country wasn’t on Ava Shackell’s radar when she was in eighth grade. Admittedly, she only decided to run the mile as a member of the Tumwater Middle School’s track and field team simply due to the fact that “no other girls were running it.” Once she entered Black Hills High School, last year as […]

If you're a Republican in Thurston County, shouldn't all these Independents bother you?

Olympia Time - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 5:38pm


If things go a certain way, it is possible that come January Thurston County will have three commissioners that are not Democrats for the first time in my memory.

But, none of them would be Republicans either.

Admittedly Bud Blake (elected two years ago), Gary Edwards (who was a Republican in the past and might be elected this year) and John Hutchings (also might be elected this year) could easily be Republicans. But, this year they're all Independents. And I don't think I've heard a good explanation as to why.

As much as I'd like to ask Edwards why he ditched the Republican Party, I think I know the cynical answer. Blake showed that a conservative could be elected countywide if they ran without the Republican name.

But, mostly I want to hear from Republicans. And, I know how hard it will be for me in particular to get answers from Republicans given my point of view, but I'm honestly interested. I've spent the last few weeks poking around various online forums and communities for local Republicans and have come up short.

Shouldn't conservative candidates run as Republicans? Even if they disagree with 20 percent of the Republican platform, there is enough "big tent" in the party to contain them right?

If you are a Republican, and feel so inclined, fill out this short survey (LINK).

Owls of the Pacific Northwest

OlyBlog Home Page - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 12:10pm
Event:  Sat, 09/10/2016 - 2:00pm - 3:00pm

Seven different species of owls indigenous to the Northwest will be presented. Facts and information will be discussed to educate attendees and provide an opportunity to view live owls up close. For Heaven's Sake Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation is dedicated to the preservation of orphaned and injured animals by providing quality care and treatement in a safe, secure and nuturing environment while preparing them for release into their natural habitat.

This free event will take place at the Olympia Timberland Library located at 313 8th Ave SE. Please call 360-352-0595 with any questions.

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Bowes Brothers Pave Way for Timberline Football

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Hal Bowes had two job requirements on game days when his two sons played youth football. The first was that of coach – the post he actually signed up for. The second, which may have been the more difficult of the two, was referee. However, the second position would never take place on the field, […]

Acme Fuel to Offer More Options at Upgraded Station

Thurston Talk - Tue, 08/30/2016 - 6:00am

ThurstonTalk

Acme Fuel customers are nothing if not loyal. For the past few months as the company has been upgrading its fueling station in downtown Olympia, both commercial and residential clients have been driving to the Fast Fuel Lilly Road station to get their gas. “We appreciate their loyalty and patience,” says General Manager Todd Deck. […]

Olympia Poet Laureate

South Sound Arts - Mon, 08/29/2016 - 3:37pm
CITY SEEKING OLYMPIA’S FIRST POET LAUREATE

 Applications Available for Olympia’s First Poet Laureate
The City of Olympia is seeking a Poet Laureate to engage our community in the literary arts. The intent of Olympia’s Poet Laureate designation is to:·         Promote poetry as an art form·         Expand access to the literary arts·         Connect the community to poetry·         Promote poetry as a community voice that contributes to a sense of place
Applications due Friday, September 30, 2016, 5pm.·         2 year appointment·         $1000 stipend per year·         In coordination with City Arts Program staff, the appointed Poet Laureate will have the flexibility to shape a scope of work that reflects their interests, skills and abilities.·         Applicant must be a practicing poet, dedicated to producing poetry (in and form, genre or style) on a regular basis.·         Applicant must be an Olympia resident (within city limits or in the Urban Growth Area) over 18 years of age. A residency verification process will be conducted prior to approval.Applications available online at www.olympiawa.gov/poetlaureate A pre-submission workshop will take place Wednesday, September 7, 2016, 7pm, Room 101/102 of The Olympia Center, 222 Columbia St NW, and will address questions about the application and submission process.

Questions? Please contact Stephanie Johnson, Arts Program Manager, at 360.709.2678 or sjohnso1@ci.olympia.wa.us
Categories: Arts & Entertainment

Junior League of Olympia Hosts Annual Fall Open House, Announces New Board Members

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/29/2016 - 12:53pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by The Junior League of Olympia The Junior League of Olympia is hosting its annual Open House at 6:30 p.m., September 14 at the State Capital Museum’s Coach House to meet women who are interested in becoming new members in the 2016-17 year. The Fall Open House is free to attend. Refreshments will be […]

Rochester Middle School Science Teacher Names Science Teacher of the Year

Thurston Talk - Mon, 08/29/2016 - 12:44pm

ThurstonTalk

Submitted by Rochester School District  The Washington Science Teacher Association named Rochester Middle School teacher Pete Duranceau this year’s Science Teacher of the Year for Middle School Education. Duranceau has taught science for 30 years. He pursued the teaching profession because he was interested in having an impact on people and making a difference. “Pete […]

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