Recent Local Blog Posts

Where does Bill Bryant's 100,000 come from?

Olympia Time - Wed, 08/24/2016 - 5:04pm
Not since 2004 when Dino Rossi got within a hair of non-incumbent Christine Gregoire has a Republican gotten close the governor's mansion.
This year Bill Bryant is making his run and he's staking his election on the turnout of 100,000 extra conservatives:
His path to victory, Bryant explained, hinges on turning out some 100,000 Washingtonians — mostly likely-Republicans or conservative-leaning independents — who failed to vote in the 2012 election but probably would have backed Rob McKenna, Washington’s last GOP candidate for governor.This 100,000 is pretty core I suppose to Bryant's math, because seems to talk about them a lot.
“Who do you think elected Jay Inslee?” Bryant asked volunteers at the Clark County Republican Party headquarters Sunday evening. It wasn’t just Democrats, he said. There were more than 100,000 voters in the 2012 election who would have picked Inslee’s Republican opponent Rob McKenna but who didn’t vote, Bryant said. McKenna lost to Inslee, a Democrat, by about 94,000 votes.So, as I understand his argument, his goal is the turn up turnout among conservatives (who identify as Republicans or not) while hoping Democratic turnout stays flat.

I tried to simulate a couple of ways he could do that. Here is my math. Feel free to check my work, I've been wrong before. 

First, among the counties that fell below the average turnout in the gubernatorial election in 2012, I turned the turnout among Republican voters up to the average of all the counties. The above average counties I let stay the same.

This results in Bryant just barely losing to Inslee 1,506,000 votes to 1,582,000 votes.

Second, I took Republican turnout and pumped it up to the highest turnout of 87 percent in the gubernatorial election. This is incredibly pie in the sky since a lot of counties have turnout much lower than that. But, in this case, the Republican wins with 1,652,166 votes. Way more than enough.

The third one was trying to find the Goldylocks solution, how far you'd need to pump average voter turnout to just the right level to get Bryant over the finish line. This turns out to be 84 percent across the board, assuming Democratic turnout stays the same. This still sounds like a lot of turnout.

But, none of these are the reasons why I think the 100,000 voters are bunk.

The chart below illustrates the second option, 87 percent turnout across the board. It shows you the actual votes (in blue) and the new votes (red).

King County is still very much king.

There are more new votes (via math) to be had in King County then there are in the most Republican of Republican counties. But, I don't think these votes actually exist. Churning up new voters in King County (and other large Puget Sound counties) would only churn up new Democratic voters.

So, I'm not sure I think the 100,000 voters Bryant and the Republicans are looking for exist.

Lastly, I hope everyone appreciates the irony of Republicans talking about the benefits of higher voter turnout.

Lacey is less of a place than it would take to be useful to tourists

Olympia Time - Tue, 08/23/2016 - 6:58am
Lacey is taking a lot of umbridge with the position of some folks in Olympia that Lacey serves very little purpose to possible visitors (Ken Balsley):The Olympia, Lacey, Tumwater Visitor and Convention Bureau (VCB) is about to embark on a major promotion campaign to promote Thurston County as a destination for visitors and tourists. It’s entitled “Experience Olympia.” A majority of the Lacey City Council – – as well as myself – – think this is the wrong way to promote the entire region, and that concentrating on “Olympia” demeans and denigrates the other two cities which kick in money for the VCB.Just a quick note, please read to the bottom. This is not a Lacey sucks post.

Ken later makes a great point about the use of the Regional Athletic Center (funded by most of us, led by Lacey and located outside of Lacey), but I'll take on his position more directly that Lacey is owed any respect as a "place" that people would visit.

For starters, consider this piece in Strong Towns about the irony of taking engagement photos in a suburban development. Which is most of what Lacey is really.
Engagement photos are either urban or rural. They are either a former factory or a leafy meadow, the brick wall of a forgotten factory or an empty beach. Never the subdivision. Never the cul-de-sac.  … There is a reason no one takes engagement photos in the subdivision; they can be places not worth caring about. We wouldn't have been criticized if it was.And, just to apply this premise to here, this is a map of geotagged photos with the term "engagement" in our area.

Most of the photos are in the most placey place in all of Thurston County, downtown Olympia, the Capitol campus and Budd Inlet. Lacey does have churches, is has St. Martins and the Worthington Center, so I know people getting married in Lacey. But, when people are looking for a place to take photos in preparation for their wedding, they go to a place.

Similarly, when people travel, they also need a place to be. A series of only drivable neighborhoods connected by parking lots and big box stores similar to either the ones they came from or the ones in Lakewood 20 minute away is not place enough for tourists. The Regional Athletic Center, notwithstanding of course.

But, for Lacey, this isn't some mistake of history. It didn't come upon this state by accident. It has planned not to be a place.

These two maps in particular makes me think of Lacey less of a place and more of a convenient municipal organization.

This is a map of where the people are east of Olympia:

And, this is a map of where Lacey is, almost straining to get out of the way of a lot of the people who live east of Olympia:

This is not a natural community or a natural border around a place. This is a city that bends itself to become successful, but not serve people.

I remember being in a forum for candidates for county sheriff and asking if it would be easier to be sheriff if Lacey annexed the urban neighborhoods like Tanglewild and the Meadows. I don't remember the candidates taking the question very seriously, but most assumed Lacey would never annex those older, dense almost urban areas.

Here is a short visual history of how Lacey grew north of those neighborhoods since the 1980s. It was more convenient for Lacey to annex places that didn't have people (at the time of annexation) and stretch itself around places where there were people.

And, I know full well why Lacey hop-skipped over these older, in decline neighborhoods along Martin Way. Back to the engagement photos post:
These places were not cherry-picked. They are everywhere. The drive-in snout house is more common than all the brownstones in America by a factor of 20. We know the story of these places. We know what is next: decline. And, to use a happy couple as the backdrop probably does feel like a slap in the face. While I never intended to make a moral statement (certainly not about individuals living here), the photos do make a judgement on our culture. We build places that cost us lots of money, don't work very well, and people ignore them when they're looking for nice place to take a photo.By the 1980s and 90s, the older neighborhoods that didn't become part of Lacey when it first came to being in the late 60s were too far gone, too below standards, too expensive to maintain for Lacey to want to bring them in. In the pessimist's view, they were what the rest of Lacey was possibly going to become.

I'll acknowledge one more point from the pro-Lacey name folks. There are a lot of hotels not in Olympia that carry most of the freight for the visitor and convention bureau that want to go Olympia only. It would make sense to acknowledge their places and their contributions because. at least the hotels outside Olympia use their own cities as label right?

Not really. It's a mixed bag overall, but the Olympia name carries pretty far. In the Hawks Prairie section of Lacey:

This is a little bit misleading, some of these hotels are actually in Olympia, but the other ones in Lacey still use Olympia:

And, also the Tumwater hotels also use the Olympia name:

I hope everyone reading this gets down this far, because I'd like to say this as well: this is not a 1997-esque Lacey Sucks sort of post. Because I don't think Lacey sucks. I'm not a huge fan of unwalkable, unbikeable, retail sales tax centered city development. But if I wanted to spill word tilting against that wildmill I'd be pretty unoriginal. To that end, I think Lacey has been doing some good work to correct the sins of the past.

And, since I've lived in the most Lacey-like part of Olympia (SE side) for the past 14 years, it would be supremely ironic for me to take too hard a swipe at Lacey.

So, let me sum up this way. I can see why people live in Lacey. Tens of thousands of people live there. Lovely neighborhoods, convenient to drive to the store. Drive anywhere really. Other than youth sports tournaments, I don't see why anyone would visit there. I wouldn't suggest anyone visit my neighborhood as a tourist either.

Crazy Idea: City of Thurston

Olympia Time - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 8:43am

One of the frequent criticisms of the Thurston County Commission is that usually the people who serve on commission come from where most people in the county live, one of the three major cities.

The criticism goes, being city residents, though, they aren't necessarily impacted by the policy decisions they make for residents in unincorporated areas. We'll just ignore the fact that unincorporated rural landowner and incorporated landowners pay the exact same rate to the county in taxes for the the rest of this post.

So, here's a crazy idea: why doesn't the entire unincorporated part of Thurston County become its own city? And, I'm not just talking about the parts of rural Thurston County that really should have their own local government (looking right at you Rochester and Grand Mound), but I mean the entire unincorporated swath of it.

That way, the rural Thurston City government would take over nearly every local government function like planning, policing, and garbage pickup.

Thurston County would still exist, but would be stripped down to the things that really only counties can provide, like courts, elections, that sort of thing.

Their is a history of large rural area of a county declaring themselves free from the tyranny of local county government by becoming a city. In 1990 Bainbridge Island became its own city when the pre-existing city of Winslow swallowed up the rest of the island.

The article I linked to shows some of the issues that the islanders had to face to with being their own bosses (increased population growth, growing pains of ramping up services and just paying for government), but it would be interesting to see rural residents stand on their own.

Because, as you might know, landowners in Olympia pay the same rate to the county as the ones living off Fir Tree Road.

Where Jim Cooper, Allen Miller and John Hutchings got their support

Olympia Time - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 3:45pm

Glen wrote about how Allen Miller's candidacy for county commissioner was some sort of shield against fellow non-partisan John Hutchings, benefiting Jim Cooper. His point was that Miller would take votes from Hutchings and possibly force a Cooper Miller run-off in November.

At least on the top line results, that is sort of what happened. Cooper took over 35 percent of the votes in the five way primary while Hutchings and Miller fought it out for second at just under 20 percent. After all the voters were counted, Hutchings survived Miller and came out on top.

This map shows each candidate's strongest dozen or so precincts, where I could assume each candidate had their strongest support.

On the surface, you see something really interesting, Cooper did well in the inner northern Thurston precincts, Miller did well further out in the less walkable neighborhoods while Hutchings had his strongest support either much further out or right up next to Miller.

This suburban band around the edge of the northern Thurston urban areas that Miller won is also lit up against Sue Gunn in her election.

And, I suppose whether you believe Miller was a Cooper patsy is whether you believe Miller had more of an impact on Hutchings or Cooper.

For me, election returns not-withstanding, I doubt Miller jumped into the race to support Cooper. Knowing Miller, his number one priority in public life is somehow preserving Capitol Lake. This isn't a massive secret.

Cooper made a brave move recently on the city council to build in a position of pro-Deschutes estuary restoration on the city's primary planning document. If Miller enter the arena as some sort of pro-Cooper tank, he would have ignored his primary civic goal.

Legislative committee examining police use of deadly force law

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:33pm

Tuesday, July 12– “I do believe that this issue is not an either-or…you can be a complete advocate and supporter of law enforcement as I am, and you can also be an advocate for community safety. I think the common ground we all share is to have a safe community. Everyone wants to go home to their families at the end of the day and I think if we keep that in mind as we go through this process, it would be very helpful,” said Gloria Ochoa-Bruck, Washington Commission on Hispanic Affairs.

Ochoa-Bruck’s words at the first meeting of a joint legislative task force on the use of deadly force in community policing on June 28 takes on new meaning as feelings of insecurity, tension, grief and outrage increased and challenged Americans this week.
Later in the meeting, Ochoa-Bruck said, “If you take away the badges, what does that look like? There are apparently two very different standards….”

In response to the five police officers killed in Dallas and for the recent police shootings of Alton Sterling in Louisiana and Philando Castile in Minnesota, the work of the joint legislative task force should be made all that much more urgent.

To continue reading…



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Death by cop count

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:32pm

The US government has no comprehensive record of the number of people killed by law enforcement.

The Counted is a project by The Guardian, counting the number of people killed by police and other law enforcement agencies in the United States throughout 2015 and 2016, to monitor their demographics and to tell the stories of how they died.

The Guardian counts police fatalities through traditional reporting on police reports and witness statements, by monitoring regional news outlets, research groups and open-source reporting projects such as the websites Fatal Encounters and Killed by Police.

The database combines Guardian reporting with verified crowdsourced information and is the most thorough public accounting for deadly use of force in the US and is frequently updated by Guardian reporters and interactive journalists.

In an ongoing investigation into the use of deadly force by police by The Guardian, African American males between the ages of 15 and 34 comprised more than 15 percent of all deaths logged this year, despite making up only 2 percent of the total U.S. population. Their rate of police-involved deaths was five times higher than for white men of the same age.

Also according to The Guardian, paired with official government mortality data, this new finding indicates that about one in every 65 deaths of a young African American man in the U.S. is a killing by police.

How does the US government count killings by police now?

The FBI runs a voluntary program through which law enforcement agencies may or may not choose to submit their annual count of “justifiable homicides,” which it defines as “the killing of a felon in the line of duty.”

Lacking a baseline in reporting systems, there are wide fluctuations in the number of agencies choosing to report figures. Faulty reporting by agencies that do report has resulted in partially informed news coverage pointing misleadingly to trends that may or may not exist.

Between 2005 and 2012, 1,100 of the 18,000 police departments in the country reported a “justifiable homicide” to the FBI.

The FBI system counted 461 justifiable homicides by law enforcement in 2013, the latest year for which data is available. Crowdsourced counts found almost 300 additional fatalities during that year.

The Counted, upon its launch on June 1, 2015, had already found close to that number of killings in just the first five months of 2015.


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Orlando was more than an incident–it exposed a landscape of violence

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:29pm

Editorial note: This article is a collaborative statement from Southern Movement Assembly leaders. While it is dated because of printing deadlines and addresses a Southern audience, we felt that its contents are useful beyond Orlando and all the other acts of violence of the past month. WIP recommends this article as an important read.

Our hearts break in two directions

One heartbreak is the violent deaths and injuries of so many young, Latinx, Puerto Rican, and Black gay, queer, trans, lesbian, and bisexual people who were massacred at the Pulse nightclub’s Latin Night in Orlando, Florida on June 12, 2016. That heartbreak is bound up in the horror that a place of sanctuary and culture was marred and twisted into a place of fear and death. We mourn as part of the queer community and as part of movements that organize for racial and immigrant justice, movements that organize with Muslim families, movements contending with displacement and colonialism in Puerto Rico, and movements inspired by young people fighting for their lives.

The other heartbreak is because we know, from every crisis we have weathered thus far, that this crisis, this disaster of hate and violence will be manipulated to expand agendas for profit, political power, and deeper oppression during a moment of collective grief and outrage. Rather than making swift moves toward real public safety, healing, or access to care, the political landscape shifts to reinforce violence, economies of scarcity, and global warfare.

This massacre is more than an incident that can be compared or contrasted with other horrific massacres. This massacre is not an aberration, and these are not isolated incidents or random tragedies. Part of our heartbreak is realizing that this massacre is an obvious extension of the historic roots of this country and the relentless reality of the current landscape in which we live.

The heartbreak of this moment exists because we know Orlando is not an isolated tragedy. In order to rise in strength from this pain, we have to understand the political and social terrain.  The terrible reality and aftermath of this massacre was a direct result of a combination of an economy based on surveillance, security, and militarized violence; a heightened social hostility and aggression; and a fifteen-year War on Terror that ushered in a permanent state of racist militarization and preemptive prosecution.

When the only employment is violence

More telling than any ambiguous ties the Orlando shooter had to ISIS, he was employed by G4S, one of the largest private security firms and largest employers in the world. With 600,000 employees worldwide, G4S runs youth detention facilities, border patrols and deportation operations, and armed security for corporations, governments, and gated communities.  The shooter was trained by this privatized global security conglomerate that represents two of the few growing edges of the global economy: social control and risk management.

George Wackenhut invested in mass incarceration early and founded a privatized security firm in 1954 in South Florida with several FBI agents. He bought them out a few years later and changed the name to Wackenhut Corporation. Wackenhut provided armed security services to nuclear power plants, weapons manufacturers, and prisons. By 1984, Wackenhut became the second largest for-profit prison operation in the U.S.

Wackenhut prisons were exposed in 2000 for rampant abuse, when the national media highlighted the sexual abuse of young inmates in Jena, Louisiana. After 62 federal court appearances for human rights abuses and diversion of public money intended for drug treatment, Wackenhut was sold in 2002 to a transnational company that eventually became G4S Securities. G4S has faced similar abuse scandals as recently as January 2016 in a juvenile facility in the UK.

In 2007, G4S hired the man who killed 49 people and injured 50 more in a few terrifying minutes in a gay nightclub in Orlando. That same year, G4S signed a contract to operate Israeli prisons, checkpoints, and interrogation centers. Also in 2007, Jena, Louisiana, a town of 3,000 people, made national news again when six Black students were charged and convicted with attempted murder and faced 100 years in prison for protesting racist attacks at their high school where nooses were hung from a tree and Black students were intimidated and provoked into a fist fight.

A desperate economy cultivates a culture of violence when it trains people to either produce and reinforce mass incarceration of Black and Brown bodies or protect rich bodies behind gated walls or borders. In the immediate wake of the Orlando attack, U.S. political leadership called for increased surveillance, security, and even increased air strikes in other parts of the world. It is quite probable that G4S will be contracted to provide parts of that increased militarized security in our neighborhoods, cities, public gathering spaces, gay Pride events, and across the world. When a violent culture is legitimized by lawmakers, hateful and racist backlash is inevitable.

The backlash is armed to the teeth

Florida represents a specific cauldron of Southern Republican supermajorities, District Attorneys gone wild, and the highest number of civilians carrying concealed weapons in the country. Sanford FL, 27 miles north of Orlando, was where another armed civilian murdered a young, unarmed Black teenager, Trayvon Martin. District Attorney Angela Corey, who has a record of harsh prosecution targeting Black and Latino youth and women, somehow did not secure a conviction of that murderer. The acquittal of George Zimmerman sent a signal of legitimized racist aggression that catalyzed social movements into action in 2013.

Florida leads the nation in gun permits with 1.3 million Floridians registered to carry concealed weapons. Labeled the “Gunshine State” in 1987, the NRA made sure that legislation was loose and easy to secure a gun. The legislation became a national model for concealed-weapon laws[6] not unlike the now famous Stand Your Ground Laws that passed first in Florida in 2005 and subsequently passed in over 23, mostly Southern states.

Social aggression combined with security culture, economic downturns, and reactive political leadership sets the stage for violent backlash against rising movements. As the LGBTQ community celebrated a victory of expanded rights in 2015, Angela Corey’s colleague, State District Attorney Pam Bondi opposed adoption for gay couples and recently argued in a Florida court that gay marriage would impose “significant public harm.” As a visible LGBTQ movement gains ground, queer and trans bodies are being policed in bathrooms, schools, and public spaces in heinous ways that are legitimized by legislation like North Carolina’s HB2 and the sweep of Southern governors refusing to comply with protections for LGBTQ people. Adding fuel to the fire, the current highly covered presidential campaign offers greater permission and encouragement to publicly express vitriol, racism, and inaccuracies that then get repeated ad nauseum.

The economy trained the shooter, and the political climate of Florida and the country, authorized him.

The War on Terror deepens

Throwing responsibility for violent attacks within the U.S. towards a distant, unsubstantiated connection to a band of extremists in another part of the world obscures the truth. The mechanisms of the U.S. manufactured War on Terror were employed on Orlando before bodies had been identified or families had been notified. The post 9-11 media frenzy defines an event before the information is clear, and becomes particularly biased and inflammatory if the shooter is not white. The Orlando shooter’s actual connection to particular groups is so farfetched that even the FBI did not find substantive reason to follow-up on him after three interviews. The Orlando shooter’s allegiance to the U.S. culture of militarization, aggressive hate, and professionalized violence was more at play than any other ideology.

The laser focus on ISIS and Islam as the primary motive fuels the War on Terror machine. After Orlando and other incidents that focus on the religion of non-white shooters rather than the larger context, Muslims, Arabs, refugees, and immigrants once again feel at risk and isolated in their own communities. The backlash of a public assumption that this situation was caused by Muslim immigrants threatens and marginalizes refugee and immigrant communities, like the refugee community in Clarkston, Georgia. Even potential victories on gun control have been limited to expanding government watch lists rather than revising the whole system. The focus on ISIS stokes Islamophobia and white supremacy and lays the foundation to justify militarization and preemptive prosecution.

Anti-terror legislation, Homeland Security Departments, and increased public surveillance leads us closer to an ever-expanding police state. If a young Black woman can be tried, convicted, and jailed using a lynching law in California when she tried to free a friend from a police attack, movement actors that challenge the state, police, or the U.S. government, regardless of who takes office in November, are likely to be defined as “terrorists” or tried in courts using those laws.

Every day the media releases new information about the shooter’s motives and the question revolves around hypothetical prevention. What could have stopped this horrific act? The answer leaps to finding ways to legally profile, monitor, prosecute, and incarcerate individuals who have not committed any crimes. Preemptive prosecution and the spectre of “homegrown” terrorists focuses on individuals, radicalization myths, and broad scale targeting of Muslim communities and does not increase public safety. If we focus on the individual rather than the systemic context, we cannot address the root of violence.

But the illusion is broken 

By investigating the layers and making important connections during this difficult time, we contend with reality as we simultaneously contend with our grief. The illusion is broken that we can possibly respond to this overwhelming, pervasive crisis one policy at a time, one shooter at a time, one police murder at a time, or one deportation at a time.

We can barely recover from one crisis when another, just as real, just as heartbreaking, comes to bear. We face the truth of this landscape, once again. We faced the truth of racist violence a year ago on June 17, 2015 in Charleston, South Carolina when nine Black community members were massacred in Mother Emmanuel Church. We face the truth every time a young Black person is killed by police, another young Muslim is targeted by the FBI, or another young Mexican is deported in ICE raids hitting Georgia for the second time this year.

We recognize that we cannot transform this landscape by focusing on a type of gun, a type of person, or a perfect policy fix. To transform this landscape, we build from our shared strength. We reimagine our public spaces and how to protect them; we produce a functional economy based on common good; we generate a vision for global migration and universal citizenship; and we deepen our commitment to building organized movements that can and will respond to crisis and disaster with stronger infrastructure, stronger relationships, and community control.

Our only recourse are our social movements

As organizations that are part of the Southern Movement Assembly, we recognize that our communities are the source of our strength in times of crisis. Our resistance relies on our ability to see who we are to ourselves, not in a momentary false sense of unity but in an understanding of how our realities are all deeply connected. We are proud to be part of movements that refuse to be divided, movements that are lifting up the voices of LGBTQ Muslims, movements that refuse to scapegoat Muslim immigrants and refuse to ignore that the people who were killed were predominantly Latinx, part of a larger Puerto Rican diaspora, Black people, and people of color. We are proud to be part of movements that recognize the strength and resistance of LGBTQ communities. Our hearts begin to heal from the outpouring of love and solidarity in a time of grief.

One week before this shooting, 90 people gathered from all over the South to train together, generate visions for our plans, and kick off the Summer Organizing Drive towards the sixth Southern Movement Assembly. Queer people, trans people, young people, elders, organizers on every Southern frontline gathered in Atlanta. SpiritHouse led a session on safety as part of their Harm Free Zone work in Durham NC. People considered moments where we felt safe. We spoke about trauma, and how it affects us in ways that are not always easy to see.

The trauma of the people inside Pulse, their friends, families, and loved ones cannot be imagined. The trauma of fear, shock, and anger is also a shared experience that is generational, deeply embedded in survivors of oppression, displacement, warfare, and violence. The experience of collective grief, expressed in the recent rallies, vigils, dialogues, art, and social media is overwhelming. We applaud the efforts of Equality Florida and local leadership in Orlando creating incredible response and processes to support, heal, and distribute resources.

We all have unique roles to play, and we offer an assessment of the landscape in order to understand how to protect and defend our communities in times of great crisis. One effect of trauma is hyper-vigilance. When we experience trauma, we become super aware of our surroundings as a defense mechanism. In this time of collective trauma, the SMA calls on movement actors to harness a strategic hyper-vigilance to move from this moment into our collective movement power.

Let us be hyper-vigilant when we come together, not to police one another but to listen. Let us investigate this landscape, thoroughly. Let us take the time for careful reflection and foster a clear understanding of the terrain, forecast how state violence will be reinforced and expanded, and name what is at stake for all of our communities.

Let us also build from our strengths. Investigate and support the existing sanctuary spaces in your own location and community. Create spaces for engagement and dialogue that allow people opportunities to be in alignment, beyond allyship. Let us queer our political work in honor of the ones we have lost. We celebrate queer resistance to state violence and over-policing of our public spaces, Pride events, and nightclubs. Let us participate in organized work to initiate the development of a new landscape.

The long slow build

Southern communities began building together long before this attack, and we will continue to build a social justice movement powerful enough to contend with this current landscape and fundamentally transform our world. There are thousands of people who are part of the work of the Southern Movement Assembly and have worked to initiate visionary agendas through the Southern Peoples Initiatives that address the root causes of violence, poverty, racism, homophobia, and transphobia. We cannot move forward from this massacre without understanding our position, and we believe that we are stronger together.

We honor and carry with us the many we lost on that Saturday night in Florida. We carry with us the movements that walked out of high schools all over the South for the Jena 6 in 2007, the movements that rallied in the hundreds of thousands for Trayvon in 2013, the movements for the decolonization  of Puerto Rico, and the movements of Muslim and Arab families that have refused to be silenced and intimidated every day since 2001. We remember the many we have lost around the world as we begin to craft a better one.

Southern Movement Assembly is an alliance of Southern organizations to develop shared analysis and implement strategic action plans across the United States South.


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If you are a Sanders or Stein voter, don’t let anyone bully you into voting differently

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:25pm

Every generation needs a new revolution.

—Thomas Jefferson

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.

—Howard Zinn

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 chunk are progressive to moderate in their political leanings. With a potential electorate characterized by these demographics, if Hillary Clinton is unable to defeat a racist, sexist, serial liar and provocateur who speaks at a fifth grade level, and has been ensconced on the lowest level of Maslow’s scale of human development for his entire 70 years, Hillary Clinton’s shortcomings as a candidate and individual, and only those shortcomings, would be responsible for a loss.

Every political candidate must earn my vote through ethical behavior, demonstrated consistency, policy positions that are the closest approximation of my 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. By every one of these criteria, both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have failed to meet my standards. Conversely, Bernie Sanders has met every one of my criteria. From what I’ve seen of her, so does Jill Stein.
I would have voted for Senator Sanders if he were either the Democratic Party or Green Party nominee. That no longer appears to be a choice.

I will vote for Jill Stein, the presumptive Green Party Candidate. I will not be voting for Secretary Clinton or Mr. Trump under any circumstances.

I do not say this lightly. I have voted for the Democratic candidate for President every election since my first vote in 1980. I have always considered myself a Democrat and I still do.

I was the youngest County Democratic Party Chair in Washington State upon my election. I’ve campaigned for scores of Democratic candidates over a 35 year period and contributed thousands of dollars to their campaigns. I was a Washington State Democratic Party Official for eight years. I was a Party Leader Elected Official Delegate to the 1992 Democratic National Convention for Bill Clinton and I cast one of 379 Votes for Clinton in the Electoral College in 1996. But as I’ve become more progressive, informed, and thoughtful in my later years, the Democratic Party at the national level has become almost entirely dominated and controlled by an oligarchy of the uber wealthy, corporate interests, and major media outlets that see their news divisions as profit and entertainment centers rather than to inform and report in an unbiased fashion.

The National Democratic Party of 2016, like it’s evil, hideous National Republican Party twin, is influenced and shaped far less by working men and women and their hopes and aspirations and needs than it is by corporations, billionaires, the financial sector, and lobbyists with eight figure retainers and compensation packages.

This must change and it will change, but Hillary Clinton is not the means to change 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. The truth of the matter is the Democratic Party is about to nominate a presidential candidate who is functionally a pro-fracking, Wall Street Republican with strong hawkish tendencies on military and foreign policy matters. Clinton’s pending nomination is a testament to the warped priorities and evolution of the National Democratic Party apparatus from a protector and advocate for working families and the middle class to a pliant tool of Wall Street and Billionaires.

I don’t want my nieces and nephews or their peers dying in any more ill-conceived, unnecessary wars to prop up despots, enrich oil companies, or the serve the military-industrial complex’s need for ongoing warfare.

I don’t want the chasm that is economic inequality in this nation to grow any wider.

I don’t want a president who tells us to think small and that we can’t do big things.

I don’t want a president who takes the side of the insurance industry and opposes single payer health care.

I don’t want a President who is politically in bed with the fossil fuel industry.

I don’t want a president who has a history of supporting horrible trade deals.

I don’t want a president who has a habit of repeatedly changing his or her political positions on major issues, apparently for purely political self-interest or political gain.

I don’t want a president whose campaign is primarily based on self-aggrandizement, ego, “inevitability” or because it is “his or her turn.”

I don’t want a president who 60 to 70 percent of the American public don’t trust and don’t like.

No, for these and many, many other reasons, I won’t be voting for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. I would have proudly voted for Bernie Sanders. Now, I will gladly vote for Jill Stein. The revolution continues. Not me, US.

If Not Bernie, than Jill.


The post If you are a Sanders or Stein voter, don’t let anyone bully you into voting differently appeared first on Works in Progress.

A secular humanist response to the Orlando shooting

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:20pm

In the weeks since the shooting in Orlando we have felt anger, sadness, and heartbreak for the victims whose lives were violently ended and for the families who were forever changed. With Orlando, the epidemic of gun violence in the United States seems to have reached new heights. Each mass shooting has made the ones before it all the more horrific as we wonder, where next? Who next? This recent attack is so intermingled with issues of race, sexuality, and religion that it has been impossible not to feel that the United States is inching toward a social cataclysm.

The accounts of survivors huddling in the bathroom stalls of the Pulse nightclub were terrifying. Not only did Omar Mateen unleash a barrage of bullets onto nightclub patrons, but he also followed survivors into cornered areas – presumably hoping to kill as many people as possible; to make the world a “better place.” These actions are almost unspeakable, but can we write them off as the work of a devil? Mateen himself was not without his humanity. It important to remember that he was someone who was told, before he could probably understand, that members of the homosexual and transgender community were sinners who should not be allowed to live and that they could make his children gay with a ‘homosexual agenda.’ That if he were gay, he should hate himself. That if his children were gay, they would be punished for eternity.

Whatever mental health issues Mateen had, his brushes with fanatical Islam did nothing to ameliorate them. This hatred was equally encouraged by Christian counterparts who frequented the Florida radio waves with pontifications against gay marriage and fears of transgendered individuals using bathrooms. After the tragedy at Pulse nightclub, some pastors and imams—and even a Hasidic Jew—responded with sermons condoning the massacre. Mateen pulled the trigger, and insanely loose gun laws provided him with the weapon, but a culture of homophobia and transphobia spewed forth from hidebound theologies gave him his hate. Like too many of the horrific acts of terrorism we have witnessed, the shooting in Orlando is a symptom of a culture of divisiveness and hatred, which may be turned on oneself, on other people, or both.

We can no longer accept and tolerate that culture. Let’s first challenge our own beliefs and then challenge the belief systems around us that cage, accuse, and denigrate. We can no longer let people share ignorant messages on social media, or memes that generalize populations of individuals. We must no longer permit  institutionalized intolerance.

We must all remind ourselves that human beings are more important than dogmas and ideologies. We must become the change we wish to see by telling people who you are. Religion, especially its most fanatical elements, must be criticized; public policy, especially concerning gun control, must be based on science and common sense; the dignity of each person must be affirmed and celebrated throughout our culture. That starts with each of us. Now, it is time mourn, but after that, it is time speak out.

Dani Burger is the administrator on the Olympia Atheist Community Facebook page and Marco Rosaire Rossi is a member of the American Humanist Association.


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Of Slaves

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 6:16pm

Dealt with a rough hand by the way society is structured

Because you are black you are at a disadvantage

Is what they told me

I mean I am black in White America, but hardly paid the color green


I have a problem with a lot of what you said

I am not a product, I am done being someone else’s second option

My body is not a product

It’s so easy to respect sex workers, I like women and I’m surrounded by loneliness constantly

To take the blame off of them and put it on me is ridiculous

Fuck them, and that way of thinking

Me showing my body doesn’t deem me less deserving of respect than a woman or a person who doesn’t. period

It’s great that you respect what I do, but your view of me is shit

Comparing me to junk food doesn’t seem like respect at all, and people aren’t products that others can just consume


Of exploitation comes the confines of Abraham’s proclamation

Towards the wilderness’s deforestation

To the fields of slavery deportation

James Earl Ray will attempt to assassinate my declaration

Byron De La Beckwith will attempt to lynch my message from American’s legislation


Do you remember Hariette Moore and Harry?

Because you are black you are at a disadvantage, does that sentence seem scary?


The FBI used COINTLPRO agents

And now that Malcolm’s dead we wonder why from the White Man’s station


Society, and men especially should encourage women to advocate for themselves

It’s important to let women know that they have a voice and that they have a right to tell men that they are not comfortable with being treated inappropriately

Therefore, women must begin to feel more confident, not only with expressing consent, but for voicing their own opinions too

— Darrell Herbert


Darrell Herbert is a recipient of a National Silver Medal and Gold Key, presented by the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards of 2014. His poetry has been featured in numerous publication such as Writers- Black Artists Connected Blog, Yellow Chair Review, and Media Blast Press.


The post Of Slaves appeared first on Works in Progress.

Fridays from A Woman in the Crossfire

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:30pm

In her book, A Woman in the Crossfire: Diaries of the Syrian Revolution, Samar Yazbek describes how in Syria the mosque became an instrument and embodiment of the power needed by opponents of the Assad Regime — somewhat similar to the role played by the church in our Civil Rights movement.  As the Syrian people’s revolution against the regime evolved from March – July 2011, the people found ways to communicate important stages by naming Fridays.

Some of the names…

Friday of Dignity

Friday of Steadfastness

Friday of Perseverance

Friday of Rags

Friday of Defiance

Friday of the Children of Freedom

Friday of the Tribes

Say No to Dialogue Friday

Get Out Friday

The Fall of the Regime Friday


Maybe this strategy would serve us well as our resistance evolves.


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An open letter to the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:21pm

It has been brought to the attention of the residents of Olympia and other locations that the Port of Olympia is planning to allow the use of the Port again for military shipments.  As you will recall, the last time this occurred in 2007, there were many protests and disruptions that were very costly to the Port, the City of Olympia, and many other people in the region.  [Please see the article “10 Days That Shook Olympia,” Counterpunch, November 15, 2007]

These protests were not against service members or military personnel per se.  These protests were against the illegal wars in Iraq and Afghanistan from 2001-to the present.

The public relations ploy that these wars are “over” hardly needs to be refuted.  Wars that were illegal and unnecessary in 2007, have not been justified to be “legal” in 2016.  The policies that the US has followed under the Bush and now Obama administrations have proven to be illegal disasters that only increase insecurity for the American people and the globe.

I remember quite distinctly in 2007, when I had a meeting with the Port commissioners to discuss the illegality of the wars, that one of the commissioners stated that he did not know if the war was legal or not, but that this was a business deal that the Port needed.  This is unacceptable and sounds like the excuse that one is “only following orders” from those who outrank him.  If you have questions as to the illegality of your actions, as elected officials you have an obligation to be sure of your actions and act with integrity.

If you recall, during 2007, the 10 days of protest were quite costly to the Cities of Olympia, Tacoma, and Aberdeen.  News reports at the time discussed that hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent to police (and abuse) the citizens of Olympia, Tacoma and the region who were exercising their first amendment rights to “peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

I recall that the military stated that it was not going to pay extra for the police.  If I remember correctly, at that time the extra cost of the police was borne by the local citizens.  The cost to the city of Olympia was reported at $112, 168.  One news report that stated the Port was going to compensate the city of Olympia about $70,000 for the use of the police. [The Olympian article from August 15, 2010, “Plea for protest policy”]

While I believe that the main issues are the illegality and immorality of the wars, there are several questions that I have.  I am requesting that these be answered in a reasonable time and certainly at least a month before any military shipments are scheduled to be shipped through the Port of Olympia.

This is a formal request to the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia.  It is made under the State of Washington’s Open Records Laws.

1. Please submit itemized records of the costs and amounts for police activities that were incurred concerning the Olympia Port Protests in October and November of 2007.

2. Which government entities paid and what amounts to and/or from the City of Olympia, including the cities of Tumwater, Lacey, other cities assisting Olympia?), by the State of Washington, and the Port of Olympia (or other Ports)?

3. Did any branch of the United States Military (JBLM or other federal agency, such as Homeland Security) compensate the city of Olympia and/or the Port of Olympia for the cost of security, and if so, what amounts?

4. Please provide the contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the US military in 2007.

5. What are the current plans and provide contracts between the Port of Olympia and branches of the U.S. military for 2016 and 2017?

6. What are the current plans between the Port of Olympia and the City of Olympia and other local governments for compensation or re-imbursements for costs associated with any planned military shipments in 2016 or 2017?

7. What are the current plans (2016-2017) for the military use of the Port for shipments out of the Port and/or for shipments into the port?  If out of the Port, what is the final destination?  If shipments are into the port what was/is the point of departure?

8. If the shipments are coming into the Port from a war zone, what are the guarantees that the shipments are free from Depleted Uranium (DU) dust or otherwise?  This is important not just for the workers at the Port but also the citizens of Olympia and the region if contaminated hardware and equipment is shipped through the city.

All of the above are important issues and concerns, but the main issues I want to emphasize are the reasons for past and possible future protests—i.e. the illegality and immorality of the current wars.  To make this point in more detail, I refer you to a letter I wrote to the Port and the Olympia City officials on March 25, 2010 when there were reports that the Port was again to be used for military shipments.  I will copy that letter here since there have been many personnel changes on the Port and the City.  The arguments here have stood the test of time and I stand by the information provided.  This 2010 letter, unfortunately, is still very relevant.  I have Bolded portions of the letter that I want to emphasis for 2016 (parts II, III, and V).  There are many references and links within this letter and I would be pleased to provide you with more data upon request.

Lawrence Mosqueda is a professor emeritus at The Evergreen State College.

A copy of his 2010 letter to the Port and City of Olympia is online at


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Letter to Port and City of Olympia 2010

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:18pm

To:  Port of Olympia Commissioners
Olympia City Council
Thurston County Commissioners

From:  Lawrence Mosqueda, Ph.D.

Date:  March 25, 2010

Re:  Possible Renewed Use of Port of Olympia for Military Shipments

It has come to my attention that the Port of Olympia Commissioners are again considering using the Port of Olympia to ship military equipment to and from the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.  This would be a terrible mistake, both legally and morally.

As you know, over the past three years many Olympia residents, South Sound residents and others have protested and resisted the use of the Port for illegal wars.  These protests have been relatively peaceful, except for attacks from police and from those whom the police have allowed to harass the protesters.   Much has been written about these protests and I will not repeat all of the issues that have arisen.  However, I will summarize and cite some of the sources that I, and others, have used to explain why the Port of Olympia should not participate in these illegal wars.  I would ask that you read this carefully and submit it to your staff for discussion.

I. Illegality of Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

The first point has been well documented by those who have studied these wars for more than eight years now.  In addition to being a bad policy as a war of aggression in Iraq, built on lies that Iraq had Weapons of Mass Destruction or that Iraq was complicit in 9/11 (even George Bush does not believe that anymore1) — the war in Iraq has conclusively been demonstrated to be an ILLEGAL war built on false premises and lies from the Bush administration.  Eight years ago, some could argue that this might be a debatable assertion, by 2010 it should be accepted as fact.

I wrote an article, “A Duty to Disobey All Illegal Orders,” on February 26, 2003 which pointed out that the upcoming Bush/U.S. war in Iraq did not meet any criteria for a legal or “just” war, and that the U.S. military had an affirmative obligation to disobey illegal orders under the oath taken at the time of induction and under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.  Please see the article at  This article has been reprinted on the web and elsewhere many times.  In addition to the sources I cited in the article, many prominent scholars, lawyers and others have added significant research on the illegality of the U.S. war in Iraq2.  At some unguarded moments, even those who aided in this criminal war planning have admitted that the war was illegal.  See the admission by Richard Perle, a member of the Defense Policy Board, at (2003).

The war in Afghanistan is equally illegal, as pointed out by many international lawyers, scholars and other prominent authors.  As Marjorie Cohn, President of the National Lawyers Guild, has stated:

“The invasion of Afghanistan was not legitimate self-defense under article 51 of the (U.N.) charter because the attacks on Sept. 11 were criminal attacks, not ‘armed attacks’ by another country. Afghanistan did not attack the United States. In fact, 15 of the 19 hijackers came from Saudi Arabia. Furthermore, there was not an imminent threat of an armed attack on the United States after Sept. 11, or Bush would not have waited three weeks before initiating his October 2001 bombing campaign. The necessity for self-defense must be ‘instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means, and no moment for deliberation.’ This classic principle of self-defense in international law has been affirmed by the Nuremberg Tribunal and the U.N. General Assembly.” 3

The wars did not become legal under international law or national law just because we have now transferred authority of the Presidency from the original perpetrator of the wars to a more articulate, more intelligent person in 2009.  The Iraq war does not become more legitimate, more legal, or more moral by a dubious “drawdown” that will take many more years to complete, if ever.  The war in Afghanistan does not become more legitimate or more legal by a “surge,” in fact, it becomes even more illegal.

The citizens of our area have done a great service for us as they have made the conduct and continuation of the wars a local and national issue.  An illegal war must be stopped, not slowed down.

II. Right and Obligation to Protest and Resist

In addition to having a right to protest and resist the flawed foreign policy of these illegal wars of aggression, the citizens of Olympia and elsewhere have a RIGHT and an OBLIGATION to resist under international and domestic law.  I stated in my article, “A Duty to Disobey All Illegal Orders,” (page 3):

“As Hamilton Action for Social Change has noted “Under the Nuremberg Principles, you have an obligation NOT to follow the orders of leaders who are preparing crimes against peace and crimes against humanity. We are all bound by what U.S. Chief Prosecutor Robert Jackson declared in 1948: ‘[T]he very essence of the [Nuremberg] Charter is that individuals have intentional duties which transcend the national obligations of obedience imposed by the individual state.’ At the Tokyo War Crimes trial, it was further declared ‘[A]nyone with knowledge of illegal activity and an opportunity to do something about it is a potential criminal under international law unless the person takes affirmative measures to prevent commission of the crimes.'”

 Those who have protested and resisted at the Port over the past few years are exercising their legal obligations under the laws that the U.S. government created, along with the other allies, after WWII. I am quite sure that the citizens of the area will again resist any effort to use the Port for the purpose of illegal wars.

 The Port itself also has an OBLIGATION to follow the law and not to continue to participate in the war crimes of the Bush legacy and the continuing war crime activity of the Obama administration.  At the very least, the Port should continue (as in the past year) NOT to be used as an entry and departure point for arms and equipment for these illegal wars.  For more courage, the Port should DECLARE that it will not allow itself to be used for the wars, because of their illegal nature.

 Some have said that we need to use the Port for transporting military equipment to “Support the Troops.”  Being complicit in the continuing war efforts is not “supporting the troops.”  As I stated in my previously cited article from 2003, support for the troops is not done by supporting the actions of the U.S. government:

 The idea that those who oppose the Bush plans for war are against the troops is a fundamental lie.  Support for the troops is not done by sending them off to a war which is fundamentally unnecessary—support is keeping them home.  Support for the troops is not done by lying to them about the purpose and goals of the war and allowing those who will benefit and profit a free ride on the backs of the troops.  Support for the troops is not done by making them complicit in an illegal and immoral war—it is done by exposing the lies and giving the troops an opportunity not to be complicit in war crimes. 

 By 2010, over 6,000 Americans have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, and over a million Iraqis and Afghans have been killed.  (See British Lancet study of 2006 with the estimate of 600,000 dead in Iraq alone, ).  Millions of Iraqis and Afghans have become refugees, and large numbers in their populations suffer with injuries and disease caused by war. 

There are literally hundreds of thousands of Americans who suffer from PTSD and other injuries.  See, for example, the New York Times of April 18, 2008,  Every day that we allow these illegal wars to continue, we allow more death and destruction on all sides.

 There are some who have argued that we have an obligation to follow our national “leaders” and open our ports and other public services to their business and facilitate their wishes.  It should be remembered that several of the persons convicted by the U.S. at the Nuremberg trials were not those who actually got their hands dirty by killing others directly, but who allowed and facilitated the actions of others.  This was especially true in the Justices’ trial that convicted the Judges of Germany in WWII.  The fact that some of the Justices were “hesitant” or were “just following orders” was not considered to be a defense for allowing war crimes to continue.  (See

In addition to many academic sources on this, these events were also immortalized in the classic 1961 film “Judgment at Nuremberg.”

 These German public officials had the power to do something about their complicity, albeit with considerable personal risk to themselves, but chose not to act.  The public officials in Olympia are not at anywhere near the same level of risk, and yet many of them are not taking the needed courageous action to refuse cooperation with the national government’s war policies.

 The time for the Port and others to take action is not in 10-20 years, when they may issue a late apology for cooperating with these wars—but now when their actions may have some positive consequences.

 III. Law Enforcement’s Duty During Peaceful Protest

Since the wars are illegal and the citizens and the local officials have a right and a duty to protest and resist, the “authorities”  have an obligation not to beat, harass, or gas the citizens as they fulfill their obligations to stop the war machine from engaging in the continuation of the illegal policies and practices that perpetuate these wars.  The protesters and resisters, for many days during the last three years, were involved with peaceful protests and assembly in Olympia (and Tacoma). These protests have been peaceful and nonviolent.  Many people have been arrested for being in the streets.  Most of those arrested have not been convicted of any crimes.  As far as I know, there have been no arrests for any attacks on the police – because there have been none. 

 The police department of the City of Olympia and the Thurston County Sheriff’s office should facilitate peaceful protest, not exacerbate tensions as the citizenry engage in peaceful actions.  Of course, no actions at all would be necessary if the Port and the local authorities were following domestic and international law and NOT allowing use of public facilities for illegal wars.  The City of Olympia should not allow itself to be used for this effort – even if they are “paid” for the services of the police.

IV. The Cost of War

The immorality and illegality of the wars is no longer in rational dispute.  The wars are also grossly costly and not in the interest of the American people and the local residents of the South Sound.  For current information on the dollar costs, see the National Priorities Project, which tracked the total cost of the wars and breaks down the cost for local entities. (See  As of this writing, the U.S. cost of the wars is $975.4 billion.  The cost to Olympia residents is $152.9 million.  This does not include the cost of providing police services that have “protected” the Port from citizens who are exercising their Constitutional rights to protest illegal wars.  The citizens have international and domestic obligations to resist complicity in war crimes in their back yards.

V. Actions Needed from Local Government

The City of Olympia and Thurston County should make it clear that they will not subsidize the war efforts by providing police “protection” when no real protection from the public is needed.  The Port of Olympia should make it clear that they will not participate in actions that contribute to continuing war crimes, and that they will not accept “blood money” for additional shipments, nor accept “back door payments” from Homeland Security to militarize the Port.  This is an opportunity for local government officials to make principled stands and be an example to other entities by saying that they will not cooperate in continuing these wars.  This would truly be supporting the local communities and supporting the troops. 


To Summarize:

  1. The U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are illegal under international and domestic laws.
  2. The citizens of the United States and their local officials have not only a right but a duty to resist those actions that continue these illegal wars, including stopping military shipments through the Port of Olympia.
  3. Citizens, in the performance of their duties to resist illegal wars, have the right to be free from repression, beatings, chemical attacks, etc. from the authorities, as these citizens are exercising their rights. 
  4. The local governments should not be expending local resources to facilitate the continuation of these illegal wars.

This is a somewhat lengthy letter, but public testimony at regularly scheduled meetings is usually limited to 2-3 minutes.  However, the issues discussed here are complicated and cannot be explained in a few short minutes.  In addition to this letter, I am willing to meet with those who receive this to provide more explanation and documentation on the issues.

Furthermore, I would urge the City of Olympia, Thurston County and the Port of Olympia to exercise transparency and accountability regarding use of the Port.  For issues with high importance to local residents, such as military shipments, public forums should be held (with sufficient time allotted for each participant) — where citizen input is taken, and most importantly, taken into account when decisions are made about Port activities.


The post Letter to Port and City of Olympia 2010 appeared first on Works in Progress.

Shared Waters, Shared Values

Works in Progress - Mon, 08/08/2016 - 5:06pm

A day to strengthen opposition to ecocidal project

On July 8, the Quinault Indian Nation organized a canoe and kayak flotilla that landed at the Hoquiam River above where it empties into Grays Harbor Bay. The day’s activities served to strengthen and mobilize opposition to the proposed expansion of an oil storage terminal (“tank farm”) in Hoquiam by Westway Terminal Company. Westway currently operates a bulk oil terminal at the Port of Grays Harbor, and is proposing an expansion to receive about 50,000 barrels of crude oil per day from train shipments—oil that would then be loaded onto ships for export to Asia. Two proposals for new crude oil terminals in Grays Harbor have already been defeated. The decision on whether to issue a permit for an expansion (“retrofit”) of the oil terminal rests with two co-lead agencies: the Washington Department of Ecology and the City of Hoquiam. The period for public comment has closed.

The flotilla was followed with a native drumming and chanting circle and a march to Hoquiam City Hall for a rally with speakers, including local officials and members of the Quinault, Quileute, Sami, Makah and Lummi nations.

Adding to the no-brainer for denying this permit is the fact that Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge (GHNWR) is located in the 20-mile shallow waterway that would be traversed by huge ships hauling crude oil for shipment to Asia. GHNWR is one of four major staging areas for migrating shorebirds in the Pacific Flyway. Hundreds of thousands of shorebirds gather here in spring and fall to feed and rest. In the event of an oil spill, the journey of these migrants and their ability to feed would be foreclosed.

With this and dozens of other reasons for the permit to be denied, where is the benefit? The very few beneficiaries of such a potentially-catastrophic fossil fuel enterprise downplay all the risks and pump up—with misleading and false  statistics—the creation of “good-paying jobs.” Attorney Fawn Sharp, President of the Quinault Indian Nation, has the facts: “We commissioned an economic study and concluded about 10,000 jobs are at risk … tribal and non-tribal fishermen and tourism-related [jobs] are in jeopardy.”

To learn more, visit:

Learning about climate change and its myriad faces has led Wendy to looking into the Pandora’s Box of fossil fuel dependence, extraction and transportation. She feels that, since all politics is local, we have a chance to stop at least some of these ecocidal projects.


The post Shared Waters, Shared Values appeared first on Works in Progress.

Undervotes in 2014 didn't cost Karen Valenzuela the race, but they would've made it super close

Olympia Time - Sun, 08/07/2016 - 11:30am
It turns out that people not making a choice made the 2014 county commission race less close than it really should have been. And, these voters, if they weigh in this year, could tilt the county commission altogether.

I learned something interesting when I started backtracking on my old post about how Bud Blake and how he won an county commission seat in 2012 as an independent. This was interesting to me because in any other year, I think, Blake would have run as a Republican. So how much did party labeling matter?

Did Democrats give themselves permission to vote for a conservative independent just because the label wasn't Republican?

In my first run, it sure did look that way. I compared percentages of the returns of an aggregate 2012 Republican by precinct compared to Blake's percentages. The chart that was produced showed a narrow band of what would've been Democratic voters in 2012 voting for an Independent (would've been Republican) in 2014.

But, that analysis ignored a few things:

1. Off year elections in Washington State are not presidential (or gubernatorial elections). There's lower turnout since top of the ticket partisan elections aren't there. In an email Matt Huot even pointed out that there was no federal Senate election in 2012, so the voter pool really had no top of the ticket partisan talisman.

 2. Therefore, voting percentages are not voting totals. It really matters how many actual voters fill in your bubble, so comparing a low turnout race to a high turnout race really wouldn't work.

So, what I did was backtrack and compare Bud Blake's election in 2012 with what I could put together as a partisan comparison, the combined WA 3 and WA 10 congressional races in Thurston County.

And, what I found was amazing.

Almost 6,000 voters that made a choice in their congressional election didn't choose between Bud Blake or Karen Valenzuela in the county commission race. And, this is in a year that congressional Democrats dominated congressional Republican candidates in Thurston county, 48k to 33k.

The bad news for partisan Democrats is that even if you add all of those undervotes to Valenzuela's totals, she still would have lost by a just over a thousand votes. But, you could imagine if a few things when differently, a thousand votes out of more than 80,000 cast is a distance that can be traveled.

So, this year when we're likely seeing two Democrats in county-wide commission races against candidates who esque partisan labels, where would the undervote problem matter most?

Good news is that it matters in the precincts that already skew Democrat.

This chart ranks precincts by their partisan weight (most conservative to the left). The blue line is Bud Blake's percentages across this spectrum. The red line is Karen Valenzuela's plus undervotes. You can see the problem of undervotes becomes more pronounced in the more liberal precincts.

If this year's crop of Democratic commission candidates can convince otherwise Democratic voters to come out, then the independent label problem becomes much smaller. And, in a presidential/gubernatorial/senate year, we can almost be assured that's going to happen.

And, just to visualize it another way, you can see that these precincts also focus on Olympia. If these voters come out in the commissioner's race, we'll have a much different ball game than 2014.

Towards Cascadia is not a particularly useful book about Cascadia

Olympia Time - Mon, 08/01/2016 - 9:17pm

I had been incredibly interested in reading Ryan Moothart's Towards Cascadia. The book had been advertized on one of my favorite soccer podcasts. And, being not eager to read the entire thing on my phone, I spend a little money on a cheap tablet that I could use as an ereader since the book at that point was only available in ebook form.

In the end though, Moothart does not impress.

Overall, he seems to skip over the part where any writer who takes on the topic of Cascadia should describe and backup what they actually mean about Cascadia. I'm familiar with the Cascadia that Moothart writes about, it is the one that comes almost directly from David McCloskey and r/Cascadia. While I'm not a particular fan of this version of Cascadia, I understand where it comes from. And, unfortunately, Moothart does a poor job presenting it.
For one, he seems to over-estimate the average citizen's commitment to particular political ideals. Take for example this passage:We do not have to choose between our local differences east and west of the Cascade Mountain Range in an attempt to gain a dominant influence throughout the entire region; we're in this together as Cascadians, regardless of our differences, whatever they may be.Here Moothart seems to gloss on what really are fundamental differences on politics and society between people from urban Seattle and rural Franklin County.

He also seems to misunderstand the nature of society here:

In Cascadia, our understanding of freedom and status quo extends to the environment that surrounds us. The living communities that exist in nature are part of us; we take into account their right to exist, free from overconsumption or exploitation.What now? Really?

Even the most pollyannish assessment of how we are doing in terms of protecting the environment around here would state that most of us act like "nature is part of us." This is simply not true. While commendable as a goal (I really do think we should act more like this), it isn't the way things are. And, if this book is supposed to be a reflection of reality, it simply isn't a good one.

The main jabs of the book are two longish and detailed detours into what I could only describe as political science descriptions of how Moothart sees the political nature of Cascadia. But, these detours lack specifics I'd find useful.

Where Moothart does a great job is describing how exactly a regional secession would work. This is a well detailed chapter and breaks down in both American and Canadian terms how the states and provinces that make up Cascadia (even on a sub-state level) would actually leave. Moothart does a great job of even showing how this process would be peaceful. I've often been curious about these processes if they existed, and he does an admirable job of walking the reader through them.

Local food distribution system needed

Works in Progress - Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:55am


No one farm can afford to distribute to places where immediate point-of-purchase occurs

At this writing, I’ve just returned from the Olympia Farmers’ Market, now in full season. Although the Market was open all year on Saturdays, and open weekends from October through December, now four full days of local food, crafts, lotions and potions are ours to enjoy. We in Olympia are so lucky to be living in a place where over 40 farms, offering everything from vegetables to local meats, from fresh flowers to honey, bring their food, their amazing, tasty, grown right here, made right here, food, to us! We get to eat it, buy it, smell it and also listen to music, dance a little jig, and get our faces painted if we want, at the Market. Very patient Master Gardeners will tell us why we cannot and should not try to kill the moss in our lawns. Wise growers, who know something about trees and bushes, will tell us just the right pear tree varietals to plant (in pairs) in our back yard so that we can pluck our own pears on a late summer evening a few years from now—assuming the deer and raccoons haven’t done the job for us.

Life is good and growing in the South Sound.

So why is it that I can walk across a parking lot, or down the street, or just across town, from all this abundance and sit down at a restaurant table and not be able to order and eat that which is so obviously available at the many farmers’ markets in Thurston, Mason and Lewis counties? Why is it hard to find seasonally fresh and locally grown food in our grocery stores and restaurants in the greater Oly-Lacey-Tumwater area when the farmers’ markets are bursting with it? Good grief, we are over-run with kale all year round! When thousands of carrots, pulled from the ground hours before, are calling us at our many market stalls, why are we served frozen cubes of them, or old, shaved, “baby,” carrots grown in Texas last year? Why are carrots and kale grown far away and long ago served at the food vendor stalls at the Olympia Farmers’ Market when we can buy fresh just a few feet away?

As it turns out, that was a question I was asking local, small-scale, organic (or nearly so), farmers here over 17 years ago when I first came to this area. It’s a question the Thurston County Food Council grapples with annually, that frustrates local growers daily, and that elected county officials (except local farmer, E. J. Zita) and economic development agencies, ignore, because, they’re busy making sure Cabela’s doesn’t pay more taxes than the barristas at Batdorf & Bronson do. They’re much too involved in global trade agreements assuring that every tree with a trunk diameter exceeding 18 inches gets sold to China—quick-like.

The short answer? No local farm distribution system.

There is some local food distribution, of course—usually carried-out by the farmers themselves. They pack the produce on their trucks at dawn and drive it to the nearby farmers’ markets. Perhaps they drop off a few bushels and baskets and crates to the Olympia Food Co-op or Jay’s Farm Stand. Some have contracts with the optimistic and determined Tachira Farms: Farm Fresh Market! on Black Lake Blvd in West Olympia:

Larger, but still small-scale, local producers might have a contract with a couple of locally owned grocery stores (not the big-box stores, see sidebar on page 10) or restaurants. For example, Hart’s Mesa restaurant has a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) membership with Pigman Farms. Others buy from Kirsop, Wobbly Cart and Rising River farms. Many local farmers growing vegetables, fruits, flowers, and even those also producing chickens, turkeys, pigs, goats and cattle offer CSA memberships, where individuals and business owners buy-in to monthly rations of local food, in-season. In this instance, CSA members pick-up their box of local food at a designated spot every week/month. Check-out the Thurston County Farm Map:

Here’s the thing: Small farmers living near you spend most of their time, from sun-up to sun-down, growing food. Then, they stay up late filling-out forms explaining why and how they grow food, in order to submit those forms to someone who doesn’t grow food, so that person/agency can figure out how much the farmer should pay, to grow food. The best part of farming? You get to eat really good food!

The value of a food distribution system in the South Sound has been recognized by small-scale producers in Thurston, Mason and Lewis Counties for decades. It’s been of major concern to organizations like Washington Tilth, South Sound Farmland Trust, the local and state Grange, and many other organizations. Individually, no one farm or small-scale meat producer, can afford to distribute its produce, fruits, flowers, dairy and meat beyond the farm itself, except to places where immediate point-of-purchase occurs. Most get by with farmers’ markets & CSA’s. Those with a bit more operational cash (and land) contract with a few local grocery stores and a few restaurants. Some artisanal dairies in the South Sound pay drivers to deliver milk, cream, cheese etc. to stores and restaurants as far south as Portland and as far north as Seattle. Check-out Black Sheep Creamery in Chehalis:

Because the South Sound has no truly local or regional distribution system for its small-scale food producers, those organic (or nearly so) farmers who can produce enough food to sell beyond the markets available to them through individual customer sales via CSA’s, or at food co-ops, Jay’s Farm Stand, and farmers’ markets, contract with Charlie’s Produce Some local grocery stores and restaurants, and many South Sound institutional food services like those contracted to area schools, colleges, prisons and government agencies, “Buy Local” through food contracts with Charlie’s Produce.

Here’s how it works. Small farmers in the counties of the South Sound, especially organic growers, contract to Charlie’s Produce (CP). CP sends a truck to the farm and carries the produce away to Seattle, where it is sorted into bins of plant varieties. All the broccoli over there, all the lettuce over here, put the beans there . . . And then, grocery stores and restaurants and institutional food services at local schools, prisons and government agencies here in the South Sound buy it back, at a mark-up. In this way, the kale grown less than 10 miles from where I live here in Olympia, travels all the way to Seattle and back again, so I can eat it at the college cafeteria, at a handful of restaurants, or buy it at a grocery store. By the way, Charlie’s Produce has main distribution centers in Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles and two in Alaska. That’s swell and hats off to a Washington State fresh food distribution company who made good focusing on some major cities in the Pacific Northwest and as far afield as Alaska and LA.

The point is, those cities where Charlie’s Produce has anchored its hubs benefit the most from what our local farmers produce in the South Sound. The employees and their paychecks connected to Charlie’s Produce fuel the economies of those hub cities, not the rural towns and small cities in the South Sound whose farmers sell to them. Only a few South Sound farmers, those who can afford to grow and sell for CP, make a little bit selling to CP. Incrementally, our farmers realize less than what the average worker at a CP distribution center takes home every month selling what our farmers produce. Our farmers would make more—and we’d pay less—if the Ports in Thurston, Lewis, and Mason counties would collaborate in supporting a local South Sound food distribution economic incubator. Many smaller farms in the area could then also afford to grow a little more if they could sell to a local distributor rather than to a mega-regional company like CP. Local restaurants and grocery stores would realize consistent and affordable local food delivery and we’d all find more locally grown food to buy and eat.

With over a hundred small-scale farms producing amazing, often organic, and heritage plant/meat/dairy food in the South Sound, shouldn’t you or I be able to walk down the street and buy or eat the food produced here? In fact, shouldn’t we expect that? People living in Seattle and Portland expect that. Guess what? Our big-city cousins are eating very well and affordably in those cities and enjoying tasty food raised nearby. Why aren’t we?

Liza Rognas is an academic librarian and a research professional, and has been a community food security activist and researcher for 20 years in Washington State.


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Evergreen students condemn Caterpillar, support Sakuma strikers and de-shelving Sabra

Works in Progress - Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:52am

In support of Palestine and farmworkers

On May 31, 2016, students at the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington voted overwhelmingly to endorse resolutions expressing support for freedom and equality for Palestinians and labor justice for migrant workers at Sakuma Bros farm in northern Washington State. The three resolutions asked students to (1.) condemn the presence of Caterpillar Inc. equipment on campus, (2.) to de-shelve Sabra hummus and (3.) prohibit the use of Sakuma Bros berries from campus dining services.

Support for the resolutions was widespread: 67.4% of participating students voted for the Caterpillar resolution, while 73.9% voted for de-shelving Sabra and an impressive 84.7% for the Sakuma question. The resolutions also garnered support beyond the campus. The campaign was endorsed by Olympia-based organization Economics for Everyone, Rachel Corrie Foundation for Peace and Justice, U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation and political scientist, Norman Finkelstein.

Both Caterpillar and Sabra are complicit in Israeli apartheid and occupation. Caterpillar sells armored bulldozers to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) to conduct illegal house demolitions in the Palestinian territories, displacing around 100,000 civilians since 1967. One of Sabra’s parent corporations, Strauss Group, provides material support to elite units of the IDF, the Golani and Givati Brigades, that are infamous for human rights abuses, including during Israel’s latest assaults on Gaza. Sakuma Bros farm is notorious for its exploitative labor practices against a largely immigrant workforce, paying poverty wages in deplorable conditions.

Zayd Zaytoon, an Evergreen student and Olympia activist from Palestine speaks about what the resolutions mean to them, “As a Palestinian student, this vote reaffirms my school’s commitment to not support the oppressors of my family and my lineage and to use its tools to collaborate with other schools across the U.S. through the BDS movement.”

Victories in the first two initiatives continue a long tradition of Palestine solidarity organizing amongst the Evergreen and Olympia communities. In 2003, Evergreen student, Rachel Corrie, was killed by an IDF-operated Caterpillar bulldozer while defending a Palestinian home from demolition. In 2010, students voted overwhelmingly to divest from companies profiting from Israeli occupation and prohibit the use of Caterpillar equipment on campus. Evergreen’s Students for Justice in Palestine chapter (formerly Mid-East Solidarity Project) has long been instrumental in educating students for years, hosting speakers, workshops, and displays commemorating Nakba Day, for example. Also in 2010, the Olympia Food Co-op made the historic decision as the first U.S. grocery store to boycott Israeli goods. Finally, downtown Olympia is home to the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural, a multi-media and art project and collective effort of some 150 groups and individuals, that “builds relationships across movements, issues, cultures and great distances,” according to the project’s website.

The recent student resolutions were crafted in response to the 2005 global call to action by Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against companies and institutions complicit in Israeli apartheid and occupation. BDS campaigns have proliferated across campuses in the last few years. Sabra, in particular, was targeted at colleges such as Earlham, Wesleyan and DePaul. A similar call to action was issued from the Sakuma-based farmworker’s union, Familias Unidas por la Justicia (FUJ), to boycott Sakuma/Driscoll’s Berries. FUJ was formed as an independent union in 2013 with an initial membership of almost 500 mostly indigenous migrant workers from Oaxaca. The union is demanding an end to poverty wages, wage-theft and poor living and working conditions. Support for workers at Sakuma has spread rapidly, with solidarity committees burgeoning throughout the U.S. and beyond, advocating the Driscoll’s berry boycott.

While the impressive results of the resolutions are clearly indicative of general student sympathy with Palestinians and the farmworkers at Sakuma Bros farms, implementing the boycott measures may require further action. The Evergreen administration routinely disregards democratic student initiatives it deems not in its interest. For example, Evergreen refused to respect the 2010 BDS measures; the school’s endowment maintains investments in Israeli companies and Caterpillar equipment retains a presence on campus. Earlier this year, activists staged a sit-in at a Board of Trustees meeting to protest Caterpillar and students have consistently “defaced” Caterpillar machinery, by plastering them with educational flyers and removing black duct tape placed over the company’s logo—a pathetic attempt to disguise Caterpillar’s presence and quell student dissent. If this round of student democracy is also disrespected, students will have to adopt a direct action campaign accompanied by a consciousness-raising effort as the next school year begins. These strategies are necessary both to effect material victories and maintain an institutional memory of political activism in a space characterized by transience, as campuses tend to be.

For more information about the resolutions and boycott organizing at the Evergreen campus, please email:


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Requiem for a Pulse

Works in Progress - Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:47am


 (for those departed and surviving in Orlando and everywhere)


I am struggling now to comprehend how I still have one

after all the opportunities I’ve had to die with my hands

at the wheel after too many drinks in bars while I waited

to become my uncloseted self. And now I have nothing to do but pulse

with crackling rage as I raise an empty glass,

mourning the fact that you, Orlando, lost so many hearts


and lips and hands, all wanting to give something to the other hearts

beating like hell on the dance floor before the clock strikes one.

You. Alive. You. Raising your drinks to the glassy

Air. You. Raising your brown Orlando hands

to the heavens in the heat of your last dance at Pulse.

And, of course, you don’t know this. Don’t know that death is waiting


around the corner like a drunk in a car. You are just waiting

for last call, for your early morning heart

to drum faster, to keep perfect time with its perfect pulse

as it moves closer to each slick body on the electric floor, to the one

you will leave this world with tonight, with your hands

pressing each other’s calloused palms in prayer, your glassy


eyes looking forward to the next time you raise your lover like a glass,

clutch them in the grace of everything that the body waits

to release when it releases the tenuous grip of hands

in the act. And doesn’t your Orlando always resemble the heart–

resilient, restless, eager to demonstrate how it is one

with the divine, how it yearns to live from within its pulse?


And now I am pondering the woman who sat next to me pulsing

on my porch steps before we kissed then shuffled our crazy hearts

back into the deck to hide in the shadows of the one

true thing I know that I have been waiting

to discover with another. And now all the pulverized bar glasses


resemble diamonds on the dance floor, and a pair of smeared sunglasses

sleeps in the massacre’s aftermath, inside and outside of Pulse.

Orlando, the world will wake Sunday morning with news of your murdered hearts,

and in the fifth stanza I’ve dropped a line in shock. My hands

go cold with grief. I don’t know if I can spare the time to wait

for the one who could be the one while everyone in Orlando is one


dance step away from their hearts shattering like blown glass

floats that hands once held precious, every ounce of sweat and blood, waiting

for love to pulse. Yes, pulse. And still, I have one.


Sandra Yannone’s poetry and book reviews have appeared nationally in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, The Gay and Lesbian Review, Women’s Review of Books, Calyx: A Journal, Lambda Book Report, and Weave, among others. She currently is a Member of the Faculty and directs the Writing Center at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA.


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Loss of rights in Thurston jail

Works in Progress - Sun, 07/10/2016 - 11:43am

I want to provide some validity to the possible legal arguments of claims for Roger Calhoon and also Steven Wayne Tafoya, who is also waiting trial in our Thurston County Jail for driving without a license.

I first became intrigued by Roger’s plight due to the possible denial of a Probable Cause Hearing (PCH) and the County’s violations of other civil rights under the First, Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments.  He was also not allowed to attend in his criminal and his mental health hearings, which lead one to think that hIs PCH did happen, but since Roger was not permitted to be present, who knows? Such actions hinder his case  and certainly prolongs it.

Revised Code of Washington for Mental Illness are:

  • RCW 71.05.240 Petition for involuntary treatment or alternative treatment—Probable cause hearing
  • RCW 71.05.250  Probable cause hearing—Detained person’s rights

On June 8, 2016, I attended Roger’s hearing where he spoke to the judge directly and asked to represent himself.  He was denied this right and a trial hearing was scheduled.  His next court date was Monday, June 20, 2016, and again, I attended but the hearing clerk told me that Roger Calhoon was not schedule that day but on July 20. What?

One of female clerks at the County Clerk Office stated to me early that morning Roger was scheduled for a hearing. Later when I was double checking, she confirmed it again.  Bottom line people like Roger and Steven have serious violations of civil rights and our community should rally behind them and support them.

The next hearing for Roger Calhoon is Wednesday, July 13 at 8:30 am with Judge Dixon. Following that, Wednesday, July 20 at 8:30 am and possibly again on Monday, July 25 at 8:30 am. Roger’s court case number is #15-1-01317-7.

Steven Tafoya’s next court date is Monday, June 27  (the judge and time to be determine).

His court case number is #15-100599-9.

Please, come and join us to support them as we supported and rallied behind Scott Yoos.

Carole Willey has been a local social justice reformer, civil and human rights defender, mental health legislative advocate, and an environmental healthcare activist since 1991.  She is a co-founder of Health Freedom Washington in 2007 and co-founder of face book group page Thurston Environmental Collective (TEC) in 2014.   Please, visit TEC to get the latest on environmental disasters, train derailments, protests, rallies, divestment campaigns, breaking news, etc. 

Those interested may contact her at




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