Recent Local Blog Posts

It isn't about a primary vs. a caucus, it really just is about what's best for the party

Olympia Time - Mon, 03/02/2015 - 5:32am
The proposal by Secretary of State Kim Wyman to hold a presidential nominating primary in Washington came with one interesting wrinkle. The partisan preferences of individual voters would become public. 

Now, I am leaning on my memory of previous caucus vs. primary fights, but this is the crux of the debate. Primaries are fine (according to the parties) but, they should serve the parties, not the voters. In this case, its a matter of making the primaries closed to only partisans. Or, at least partisans that will declare themselves publicly. 

In that case, the parties get nice updated lists of registered voters that will pick a side. And, those voters will get mailed to, hit up for donations and cajoled into supporting the parties and candidates.

And, unless those lists are strong (and with cross over voting allowed under the old system, they're not) its not worth it for the parties to go along (at least in large part). And, this is how we get the caucuses.

Because, if the parties can't get mailing lists, they should at least get volunteers.

This old presentation from the 2007/08 presidential season really spelled it out for me. While partisans will often talk about the grass-roots and participatory nature of the caucuses, what they're really about is foot soldier recruitment. If you find someone who is excited to attend a caucus, a good number of those folks will be good for other work.

From the presentation: 
Every four years thousands of new Democrats attend the caucuses.

Hundreds of them work on that year’s campaign for President, Governor, Congress, Legislature, and down the ticket.

After the election dozens of these new recruits come around to our monthly meetings.

By February or March or April a handful of new recruits are active in their local Democratic party.Don't get me wrong. I'd rather have this political party than one that depends on mailings and over the air ads. It isn't bad to get people involved in politics and recruit foot soldiers. Some of my happiest and fulfilling public moments were at Democratic party meetings. Its good stuff.

But, don't also mistake that if the parties do commit to closed primaries here, that they're going to replace the excitement of the caucuses with some other sort of grass-roots event. It will not happen. They delegates will be chosen by a state-funded primary, all the energy from the caucuses will be lost.

Halfway there to a soccer specific stadium down here, maybe a new one at Evergreen?

Olympia Time - Thu, 02/26/2015 - 5:30am
The soccer field next to the big big hill (Field 1) at the Regional Athletic Center in Lacey is about as close as we get to a soccer specific stadium in Thurston County. It has lights and seating for a large crowd (on a grassy hill). But, it lacks a locker room and any area for media coverage.

But, now in new drawings of what Evergreen's CRC might look like after a major expansion of Evergreen State College's recreational facilities, we have the makings of a proto soccer specific stadium.


The field would be synthetic, so we'd have a year round, all weather surface.

Like the RAC, this field would also have a berm, at least allowing for larger crowds. This certainly isn't a typical stadium, which would include at least bleacher seating and possibly be covered. But, heck, it isn't nothing.

Also, since the field is directly next door to the CRC proper, semi-pro and high level amateur teams would have access to locker rooms.

The only thing this field would lack that the RAC would have would be lights.

Also, I assume (and this is where I'm headed) if we wanted an EPLWA, PDL or NPSL team, that some sort of gate would be needed. Because, hard to run a team (even a high level amateur team) if you can't charge admission, right? Am I wrong?

So, in the end, the drawings sure look nice. But, before we get anywhere, the funding of the CRC renovations (and there are a lot more in addition to the new field) have to be funded. The money will be coming from the students at Evergreen, so we'll see if they end up voting in the changes.

So far a Vote No group has already formed. Voting goes through early March.

SPSCC all over the place and other port related links (Olyblogosphere for February 23, 2014)

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/23/2015 - 4:08am
1. Seems a bit early, you know? But, Washington Our Home declares snake season has begun.

2. Rebels by Bus has a nice class (and video) over at South Puget.




3. Speaking of South Puget, here's Janine (from Little Hollywood) talking to SPSCC's president.

4. Longshoremen load up a ship.

5. Ken has a pretty thoughtful post here. I knew he'd been the type to vote for her, but I didn't realize she was ill. When should she resign, really?

If you want to win an election in Olympia, get either a Lacey city-councilmember or an out of towner to contribute to your campaign

Olympia Time - Thu, 02/19/2015 - 5:41am
So, if you took a list of contributors of the last two rounds of successful city council elections, what kind of list would you come up with?

Well, something like this. These are the 15 people (or unions) that contributed to more than half the successful council campaigns in the last two cycles:
Contributor

Cynthia PrattCampaigns contributed to
7Christine Garst7Sandra Romero6Emily Ray6Joyce Kilmer6Kris Goddard6Mary Wilkinson5WA FED OF ST EMPLOYEES LOCAL 4435Karen Valenzuela5Sarah Segall5OLYMPIA FIREFIGHTERS IAFF LOCAL 4685Walt Jorgenson5Jewel Goddard5Mark Dahlen5Judy Bardin5
Here is the entire list, plus a few other spreadsheets to show you how I got there.

And, while Chris Garst lives outside of Olympia, it is pretty just outside Olympia. And, Chris is really good people. So, don't get me wrong with that headline. Chris Garst is good.

This isn't a list of who contributed the most money, but rather a list of who contributed to the most successful campaigns for city councils. I didn't take a close look at the contribution totals, so many on this top 15 list may have contributed little compared to someone who maxed out on one candidate.

But, by a certain measure, these people are more influential than a theoretical single candidate max contributor. In addition to their financial support, every single one of these folks or organizations gave their personal time and civic reputation to the candidate.

Some additional thoughts:


  • I'm surprised by the number of elected officials, public officials, former and current. This includes Pratt (Lacey city council), Romero, Valenzuela (Thurston County commission), Walt Jorgenson (former Tumwater city council) and Judy Bardin (Olympia planning commission). Joyce Kilmer, the wife of Olympia city council member (and mayor) Steve Buxbaum is in there too.
  • Only one of the locals that has contributed to the most campaigns is a union bargannign unit that deal directly with the city. While the IAFF Local 468 contributed to five campaigns,  the other seven are not on the list. The only other union in the top 15 is a state employee union.
  • Judy Bardin is on the list, and seems uniquely poised to make a run for council, which she recently announced.

Happy Presidents Day. By the way, Jospeph Lane did not go quietly into that good night

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/16/2015 - 5:32am
Joseph Lane is one of the most regrettable characters of Cascadian history. During the debates on how slavery should be treated in Oregon during that state's founding days, Lane was on the hard pro-slavery side. There were a few hard anti-slavery sorts to balance him out. But, most of the state had a pox on both their houses sort of sentiment. They neither liked slaves nor the sort of economics that slavery represented.

But, there sat Lane, one of the state's original U.S. Senators. During the presidential election leading up to the Civil War, Lane was the vice presidential candidate for the Democratic Party ticket that represented the South. His ticket of course lost, which according to a 30,000 foot reading of history, shot Lane quickly out of politics. 
Even if that didn't, his debate with Andrew Johnson on the Senate floor in 1861 certainly should have.

Here:
On that day, Jo. Lane, made a traitorous speech in favor of secession, in which he was personally abusive of Senator Johnson of Tennessee. Mr. Johnson replied. The galleries were crowded to excess. Mr. Johnson opened up by a dissertation on personalities—withering and caustic to his assailant. Johnson turned and looking him in the eye, said, “no gentleman would insult me, and no other person can, and without making any boast of personal courage, I say here that this eye never looked upon the man that this heart feared.” The galleries burst into applause, which was promptly suppressed with an intimation from the Chairman, Mr. Polk, that a repetition would be followed by an order to clear the gentlemen’s gallery.But, even if Lane did not join the rebel cause, didn't migrate to the south, he kept the fight going on his return to Oregon.

He campaigned for Democratic candidates, he campaigned for his son who was running for Congress. Lane was criticized loudly by Republican newspapers, but he stood firm publicly to his convictions:
Once again in 1866 the aging politician campaigned for the Democratic ticket. Personal abuse from the press and threat of punishment had not dampened his adore for the southern cause, which he championed when he could. During the campaign he declared that if Jefferson Davis were elected to Congress by the people of Mississippi, that body would have no choice but to admit him. Being ignored and made fun of by the political establishment, carving out a hole for yourself as a loud political crank, is not the same as retiring quietly from public life.

At one point, he even talked about how Lincoln had offered him a generalship in the Union Army. And, that if he'd taken that position (instead of coming back to Oregon), he would have beaten General Grant to the top of Army of the Potomac, and then there would've been no President Grant.

I'm most intrigued by Lane's run for State Senate in 1880. Only one year before his death, an apparently with the furor of secession finally dying down, Lane ran one last time for office. I found some old newspaper stories about his continued involvement in Democratic politics. How he was elected chair of the party convention that year. But, no story of a race or election involving him. I wonder if its really true, and if so, why he ran.

The other side of the Sound Transit to Olympia coin: Olympia is an Island, leave us alone

Olympia Time - Thu, 02/12/2015 - 5:37am
The brainstorming about getting passenger rail into Olympia is alive!

Olympia's best blog took their crack earlier and the Seattle Transit blog did their's yesterday.  All smart people all say, sure it could happen. But, there are obstacles. Sure, that makes sense. It hasn't happened, so obviously there are reasons why it hasn't.

I was going to reserve this post for a exploration into the past of the old Lacey to Olympia line that was ripped up and turned into a sidewalk. Alright, a glorified sidewalk.

But, after all this discussion, I think we need to bring up another topic. Should Olympia be connected by rail to Seattle?

You're going to say: Of Course! State Capitol Right??

And, I'm going to respond with a selfish rejoinder. Well, its not like anyone is going to steal the state capitol from us anytime soon. So, why make it easier for people to get here?

Right now Olympia's economy is supported by a steady flow of tax money into our community to support fairly well paying and stable state jobs. That's not going anywhere. Jobs come and go, but overall, state work is pretty stable.

We're also on the far southern edge of Pugetopolis. So, if overgrowth is going to happen, it'll come from the north. But, in a way, we're buffered from that because back 100 years ago Pierce County stole more than half of the Nisqually Reservation and gave it to the Army. Joint Base Lewis McCord sits out there like a massive empty breakwater against King/Pierce County growth.

Eventually Sparkland will reach around through Roy and Yelm and connect with Lacey. But, for the time being, we're safe.

Connecting us to Seattle via convenient rail is just one more way to make Olympia a bedroom community living in the shadow of Seattle and King County.

And, in at least one part of my brain, more people living in Olympia and commuting up to Seattle for work is not a good thing.

Now, using that old Lacey to Olympia rail line that we turned into a glorified sidewalk for light-rail, a way to just get around town? Thats a great idea?

Maybe just using the old spur of that lost rail line as a Sound Transit alternative to Centennial Station. I don't know, maybe? Better than downtown Olympia, I suppose.

One epic post on rail that beats me to the ground and four other random posts (Olyblogosphere for February 9, 2015)

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/09/2015 - 6:34am
1. Wow. The best blog in Olympia delivers again. This makes my post about Olympia and Sound Transit look like historic revisionism crap. Read this post (Link Fixed! Thanks TVDinner!) that dives really deep in to the policy of local rail.

2. Ecotone is an Olympia blog. Maybe not about Olympia, but blogged from Olympia. So, Maybe the 12th man should be for the greater good.

3. Gary also blogs from Olympia. He is NOT retired guys.

4. Why do they want to close the art gallery at Evergreen?

5. The future of the Co-op, being surveyed.

Governor Inslee, Naomi Klein and Us

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:43pm

Climate change and its discontents: finding our way forward in a planetary crisis

Governor Inslee’s proposed Carbon Pollution Accountability Act may not be perfect but it needs our support. Why? Because it’s our biggest and best chance right now to assert the value of the planet over the rights of corporations. It’s the Washington State version of “think global, act local.” Republican opposition to the proposal is grounded in the rights of specific economic interests. House Republican leader Dan Kristiansen, Snohomish, said that Inslee’s plan proposal to implement a modest carbon pollution fee in the form of a cap and trade program might harm business.

Harm business, or harm all of us? That’s the question facing the Washington Legislature this session. How we got to this place is at the heart of Naomi Klein’s new book, This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate, published by Simon & Schuster in 2014.

Klein charts the growth of two phenomena: the steady rise of the U.S-led version of deregulated capitalism and the steady rise in carbon emissions. Her argument gets more interesting when she describes the backstory—the belief system or ideology, that has paved the way into the dramatic showdown we are all living. According to Klein, the three big policy principles that become “normal” in the last decade or so are these: privatize the public sphere; de-regulate the corporate sphere; and lower corporate tax rates by cutting public spending. That’s our new normal.

One gift in Klein’s analysis is that she shows how moves to cut food stamps and raise the retirement age to 70 or 75 are congruent with the crazed drive to frack for natural gas even as water systems are poisoned and cancer rates go up in the surrounding communities, and drill for oil from deep water platforms even as those waters become more acidic. Through a series of calculated political maneuvers, we find ourselves in a place where the primary function of public policy has become protecting the right to profit. Because funds are finite, de-regulating corporations requires the de-funding of public services. In addition, de-funding public services creates new markets for corporations to exploit.

What these corporate-profit centered principles replace is the view that economic planning and management is necessary, because the role of government in a democratic society is to protect the rights of people. In other words, what has been lost is the belief that the government’s role is to look after the public’s welfare, rather than the health and wealth of corporate interests.

Cooked by the climate or condemned as a communist?

Klein is at her best when she takes pains to explain how we got here. For example, reminding us that President Obama took office in January 2009, Klein argues that by the following summer, the right’s rhetoric against government planning was in full force. As she writes, “flush with oil money from the Koch brothers and pumped up by Fox News, the Tea Party stormed town-hall meetings across the country, shouting about how Obama’s health-care reform was part of a sinister plan to turn the United States into an Islamic/Nazi/socialist utopia.” The right’s push against economic planning and management has been relentless and successful—a powerful reminder of the successful history of “red-baiting” campaigns in the U.S. dating back over a hundred years.

The curious fear of being labeled a communist or socialist, or even just communist or socialist sympathizer seems to paralyze those of us who position ourselves on the left. As Klein writes, “we know that we are trapped within an economic system that has it backward; it behaves as if there is no end to what is actually finite (clean water, fossil fuels, and the atmospheric space to absorb their emissions) while insisting that there are strict and immovable limits to what is actually quite flexible: the financial resources that human institutions manufacture, and that, if imagined differently, could build the kind of caring society we need.”

We know that biological systems have limits outside our control. We should know that our economic arrangements represent choices we have made, choices we can make differently. Why, when these two ideas are so simple, are we so stuck? Klein’s answer is clear: we haven’t done the things necessary to lower emissions because doing those things goes against the interests of the wealthy elite. To address climate change, corporations have to be regulated and government must impose the regulations. As Klein puts it, we need a “muscular” political response. But muscular political leaders need active political supporters, and that’s all of us. Klein doesn’t say much about increased alienation from the political process in the form of low voter turn-out, but that’s an element too. In effect, we need a muscular political response to break the chokehold of wealthy elites but many of us have given up voting.

We’re too soft to sacrifice…

Klein takes on the myth that we are too selfish, too “addicted to gratification” to make sacrifices for a greater good, one of the lamentations used to explain our lack of action. It’s not that the ruling class prefers to profit, it’s that we are too weak to sacrifice our “lifestyle” for the sake of the planet. Debunking the myth of weakness, Klein smartly points out that we have sacrificed a lot for the sake of corporate profits. She writes, “the truth is that we continue to make collective sacrifices in the name of an abstract greater good all the time. We sacrifice our pensions, our hard-won labor rights, our arts and after-school programs. We send our kids to learn in ever more crowded classrooms, led by ever more harried teachers. We accept that we have to pay dramatically more for the destructive energy sources that power our transportation and our lives…We accept that a public university education should result in a debt that will take half a lifetime to pay off when such a thing was unheard of a generation ago.”

The essence of “Blockadia”

What’s to be done? After her analysis of how we got into the predicament we are in—a wake up call for civilization, as she calls it—Klein describes a variety of strategies that are being used to put our collective well-being ahead of corporate profits. “Blockadia” isn’t a specific action, she writes, but an approach people are taking to close, rather than open, the fossil fuel frontier. Blockades have gone up at potential mining sites, drilling sites, pipeline sites. The idea, KC Golden explains, is that we have to stop making the problem worse before we can make begin to solve it. Golden calls it the “Keystone Principle”—“step one for getting out of a hole: stop digging.”

Klein describes the struggle to limit the number of oil trains and coal trains that travel through communities, as well as the struggle to limit or halt the development of additional shipping terminals, as a struggle against “the corroded tentacles of extreme energy”. Her discussion here is useful because it focused on tactics: she points out that local struggles, like those along the Washington coast, are critical for two reasons. First, they have a material effect on the fossil fuel companies and the related subsidiaries. Second, the struggle against the superior rights of fossil fuel companies has an important ideological component—it’s an expression of the desire for new public policies that protect the rights of the public.

Chipping away at the social license

The divestment movement, the campaign to get public interest institutions—universities, municipal governments, faith organizations—to sell any financial holdings they have in fossil fuel companies, also works on two levels. It would take a massive sell-off of shares of fossil fuel companies to make any significant financial impact. But by pushing for divestment, Klein argues, climate change activists are “chipping away” at the social credibility of fossil fuel companies. Just as tobacco companies lost their legitimacy, so too, as the divestment movement takes hold, may fossil fuel companies find the legitimacy of their very operations questioned.

Contradictions—A classic North American blind spot?

Klein’s discussion of Indigenous land fights in Canada and the U.S. is robust. She discusses the importance of the resource sharing provisions that were included in early treaties, pointing out that these very provisions are creating important legal spaces to fight against drilling and mining projects. She describes the important leadership role played by the Lummi in fight against the coal terminal in Bellingham.

Klein’s discussion of Ecuador is less good. While she acknowledges that for some indigenous people in North America, working with fossil fuel companies may provide the best option for economic survival at least in the short term, she doesn’t acknowledge the same range of response among indigenous people in Ecuador. Furthermore, Klein argues that because addressing climate change is both an ideological and an ecological battle, in the context of North America, where the ideology of de-regulated capitalism is so entrenched, it may make more sense to take on the political battle of raising the minimum wage before trying to install a carbon tax. Both are necessary. Both require government to put the needs of people ahead of the unfettered right to profit.

However, Klein fails to see the value of the same political work in Ecuador. Instead, she roundly criticizes President Rafael Correa for his “center left approach”—noting only in passing that under his presidency the poverty rate decreased by over 30%. She doesn’t pause to consider whether Ecuador, like Canada and the U.S., might also have to free itself from earlier capitalist ideologies that served the elites, whether Ecuador, like Canada or the U.S., is a complex society with a complex history. In her account, the only two actors in Ecuador are the current president, who disappoints her, and a singular indigenous point of view.

And yet…here’s our chance to chip

This Changes Everything is worth the read. Klein has a good discussion of Martin Luther King’s work that resonates with the image of King portrayed in the film “Selma”. She describes King’s argument that the social changes we require can’t be had for “bargain rates”—allowing people to share lunch counters and libraries doesn’t cost much. Extending the right to vote doesn’t cost much either. Creating jobs, creating equitable access to good schools, creating adequate housing—things that were achieved not in King’s life time nor yet today—requires a set of policy principles that put people first. Addressing climate change requires adopting a set of principles that put people first.

Klein argues that fossil fuel companies will resist every bit of legislation that potentially threatens their profits. She’s right. The reigning ideology, the one we have to usurp, holds that the market should run unfettered by government regulation. Any regulation, no matter how small, is potentially dangerous because it breaks with this way of working. It puts people first.

Republican Doug Ericksen chairs the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee. He opposes Inslee’s proposal, and he’s the recipient of the largest donations from fossil fuel companies, their industry associations, and the state’s largest movers of coal, oil and gas. According to Sightline reporter Eric de Place, in the last election cycle Ericksen received $17,600 in direct donations and over $20,000 in PAC donations. Ericksen’s vice-chair on the Senate Energy, Environment, and Telecommunications Committee is Tim Sheldon, the Democrat who sides with the Republican caucus. Sheldon and Republican Andy Hill, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee, also oppose Inslee’s proposal to put a price on carbon pollution. They occupy key leadership positions in the Senate—they too were subsidized by the fossil fuel industries.

Inslee’s proposal to create a modest cap and trade system is flawed. A carbon tax would work better. Nonetheless, because climate change changes everything, we better start chipping while we can.

Emily Lardner teaches at The Evergreen State College and directs The Washington Center for Improving Undergraduate Education, a public service of the college.

 

Injustice and the silencing of indigenous voices

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:37pm

There have been escalating chants from the two opposing parties that have gathered at protests around the country and across social media — one camp shouting “Black lives matter,” the other insisting “all lives matter.” These voices can be heard bickering amongst themselves about the verbiage of their respective mantras while at the same time joining in solidarity against their common enemy: the trigger-happy police state.

From the outrage over Trayvon Martin’s murder in 2012 to the widespread media attention given the Ferguson shooting, our country is finally addressing the festering issue of racially-driven crimes by police officers.

When asked what minority groups are most persecuted by law enforcement in the United States, most people would attest to what seems to be the obvious: black and brown people (in this case, “brown” meaning of Hispanic origin). In terms of sheer numbers, this is an undeniable fact: people of black and Hispanic ethnicities occupy almost 60 percent of the total prison population, with blacks taking up a staggering 40 percent, according to the US Census Bureau. On a global scale, the United States is the world’s top jailer, with approximately 1.6 million people incarcerated as of 2010.

A surprising fact

This summer, the Center for Juvenile and Criminal Justice published a report titled “Who Are Police Killing?” that reveals “the racial group most likely to be killed by law enforcement is Native Americans, followed by African Americans, Latinos, Whites, and Asian Americans.”

On October 15, 2012, Corey Kanosh, a 35-year-old member and respected artist of the Paiute Tribe of Utah was shot and killed by Millard County Sheriff’s Deputy Dale Josse. More than two years after Kanosh’s murder, it is hard to find any coverage of the story, besides the initial one run by The Salt Lake Tribune shortly after the incident.

Recently, alternative news sources have shone a light on Kanosh’s murder as his family tries to raise money to fund legal proceedings. His sister Marlee Kanosh Shallenberger runs a GoFundMe.com account as well as a Facebook page to foster awareness of her brother’s case, which outlines 15 suspicious details about Josse’s pursuit of Kanosh on that fateful night, including multiple inconsistencies as well as questionable evidence.

In an even more barbaric and distressing case of police injustice, an 8-year-old girl belonging to the Rosebud Sioux community was senselessly tasered October 2013. Her furious family is awaiting justice while the innocent child receives psychiatric and emotional counseling.

There are reports of rapes of Native women, such as the case of Lisa Marie Lyotte of the Rosebud Sioux Reservation. After a harrowing ordeal of home intrusion and sexual assault, her shaken message to her local police department went unanswered. “Nationwide, an arrest is made in just 13 percent of the sexual assaults reported by American Indian women, according to the Justice Department, compared with 35 percent for black women and 32 percent for whites,” reports The New York Times.

The recent suffering of indigenous peoples spans more appalling social issues than the epidemic of excessive police force. Soon 2,400 acres of sacred Apache land in Arizona will be sold to a foreign copper mining corporation per Congressional vote.

Fine tuning our radar

Still, these stories have garnered little attention in the shadow of the Black Lives Matter movement. Even under the mantra All Lives Matter, how many American citizens, desensitized and far removed from the massacre of indigenous peoples, would remember to include the injustices against Native Americans when assessing the growing problem of police brutality? Before I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I never gave a thought to the existence of Native Americans in our country, much less to their maltreatment and disadvantage. Now, as I stand shoulder-to-shoulder with indigenous peoples in my community, and witness the abominable crimes and everyday discrimination committed against them, I cannot help but question why we as Americans still insist on ignoring these atrocities.

The truism is that all lives do matter, of course. But what of those lives whose ancestors tilled our soil long before blacks or whites called America their home? Over 500 years later, why do the repulsive crimes committed against them still generate barely a blip on our collective radar? Do their marginal existences on the outskirts of American society somehow render them less important to our society than minority groups who came long after? Or is it our responsibility to finally give voices to those who are silenced?

Bianca D. Velasco is a freelance writer, rogue scholar, and East Coast transplant to Olympia. Her passions are philosophy and the dissemination of information in a spirit of intellectual inquiry; she also abhors fascism in all of its insidious disguises.

 

Defected to The Squirrels

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:34pm

Today I defect and join the squirrels

They live in trees with no

building permits cops jails or taxes

I have seen treehouse masters and wholeheartedly agree

Trees make much better foundations

Than concrete

Free

The squirrels know how people are

Stay away from most of them

At least arm’s length

Many will kill you eat you run you over

Only a few in a lifetime

Say hi and share peanuts

Free

Like we plant the forests

Not effing Weyerhaeuser

Squirrels take care of family

Adopt each other’s babies

Communicate with the heavens

Look up out high alert the forest

Predators are coming

Smoke fire storm

Squirrels see the world and speak

Plan for the future keep

Scatter seeds

Chatter and whip their tails around

Yep that’s me

Defected to the squirrels

Free

Lennée Reid is a spiritualist, environmentalist and spoken word artist. Her eBook “An Evergreen State of Mind” is available on Amazon. Find her on Facebook or Twitter @lenneereid

 

Thanks, OPEC, but we have options

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:32pm

Thank you, OPEC, for lowering oil prices. This statement is counter to what I have said and felt for years. Usually lower oil prices cause more SUVs and increased destruction to the environment. Lately with oil prices high, CO2 intensive fracking oil has become profitable with oil companies. Fracked oil requires one gallon to extract 4 gallons. Spindle Top oil from the original Texas oil boom, took one gallon to produce 50 gallons. Tar sands oil being very energy intensive and oil prices now going down, is becoming a financial loosing proposition. Fracking is also a quick ticket to global climate doom and dare I say, a major national security threat.

Running mile long trains loaded with a million gallons of volatile oil through the hearts of our cities and towns is too tempting to anyone bent on doing heinous terrorist acts. If Sept. 11th, 2001 was possible with just a few box cutters, what destruction and harm might a million gallon oil train exploding into a mile wide blast zone cause at rush hour in downtown Seattle or Portland? Fracking is a lose-lose situation for everyone but greedy, short sighted oil investors.

OPEC, while I applaud you for making fracking unprofitable I must also voice my disagreement in continued dependence on fossil fuels. The switch to renewables has proven possible, profitable and has already begun.

We have options—solar, wind, tidal, hydro, biodiesel, cellulosic ethanol, better batteries, and my favorite and likely one of the most promising, algae. Algenol.com of Ft. Myers Florida announced they will be starting commercial production of algae based biofuels at quantities of over 9,000 gallons per acre in 2015. The time for clean renewable fuels has arrived, lets start demanding them. The oil companies will never be the first to initiate this switch but they will surely follow or go out of business. Either way a good thing. We are witnessing a similar change happening today in electric cars being built by the completely new Tesla automobile company, forcing the legacy auto companies to offer viable electric options also.

 

Farmworkers call out for action now

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:31pm

IWW Picket Line—Fairhaven Haggen Food & Pharmacy in Bellingham

Saturday, February 21 and March 21, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Whoever shops for food and cooks their own meals using fresh produce has farm workers to thank. Besides the long backbreaking hours grinding through the rich Washington soil these workers face another struggle. They hope for a decent life for their families, depending for their livelihood on labor in the age of austerity. The beginnings of a new labor union established by the farm workers themselves is standing up to make itself heard.

Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Ramon Torres is the president of Familias Unidas. He met with the Bellingham branch, Industrial Workers of the World on January 18th to request help on the picket lines in the upcoming dispute. Ramon said, “The workers hope for $15 an hour, medical insurance, and a better life for their families. Workers are scared because myself and other organizers have been fired already,” Ramon continued. “But we want to help all the farm workers who don’t get treated well. Also, oyster farm workers on the beaches have no restrooms and they must wait on the beach without pay until the tide goes down.”

Ramon came to the local IWW branch to help build local support for the union. The IWW branch voted to join the picket lines. Also supporting Familias Unidas are the local Jobs with Justice, Western Washington University Students for Farmworker Justice, and Community to Community.

“Respect the families who grow your food”

Grievances with Sakuma Brothers Berries include unpaid wages, draconian operation of their housing camp, and illegal attempts to import guest workers. Without a fair contract the union is forced to call for a boycott of Sakuma Brothers, Haagen Das ice cream, and Driscoll’s strawberries. “Since the farm owners are attempting to import guest workers again this year,” says Ramon, “we must ask for boycott of strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries against Haagen Das, Dricoll, and Sakuma.”

The workers do not want to boycott and strike, they simply want to work and raise healthy families. But the repeated abuses by farm owners have forced them to conclude that a union contract is the only way they know to create decent conditions for their families.

More detailed and up to date information on the union’s conditions and status can be found at: boycottsakumaberries.com.

The Frizzells, transplants from Texas and Michigan, are happy to be in the Olympia progressive community.

 

Trabajadores agricolas llaman a la acción inmediata

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:28pm

IWW Piquete—Fairhaven Haggen Alimentos y Farmacia en Bellingham

Sábado, Febrero 21 and Marzo 21, 1:00 – 2:30 pm

Quien compra alimentos y cocina su propia comida con productos frescos tiene que dar gracias a los trabajadores agrícolas. Además de las largas horas y agotadoras jornadas de trabajo en las ricas tierras de Washington, estos trabajadores se enfrentan ahora con otra lucha. Tienen la esperanza de proveer una vida digna para sus familias y dependen para su subsistencia de su fuerza de trabajo en una era caracterizada por austeridad. Un nuevo sindicato de trabajadores agrícolas establecido por los propios trabajadores está en pie de lucha para hacerse oír .

Familias Unidas por la Justicia

Ramón Torres es el presidente de Familias Unidas. El 18 de enero se reunió con la sucursal de Bellingham de ‘Trabajadores Industriales del Mundo’ para solicitar ayuda en los piquetes en la próxima disputa. Ramón dijo: “Los trabajadores esperan un salario mínimo de $15 dólares por hora, seguro médico, y una vida mejor para sus familias. Los trabajadores tienen miedo porque yo y otros organizadores han sido ya despedidos,“ y continuó Ramón. “Pero queremos ayudar a todos los trabajadores agrícolas que no reciben un tratamiento justo. Por ejemplo, los trabajadores de la granja de ostras en las playas no tienen baños y deben esperar en la playa sin goce de sueldo hasta que la marea baje.”

Ramón vino a la sucursal IWW local para ayudar a construir el apoyo local para el sindicato. La rama IWW votó para unirse a los piquetes. También apoyan a Familias Unidas Los trabajos Locales con Justicia, Los Estudiantes de la Universidad de Western Washington por Justicia Campesina y la organización “De Comunidad a Comunidad” una comunidad a otra, todos estos grupos piden.

“Respeto a las familias que cultivan nuestros alimentos “

Quejas con Sakuma Brothers Berries incluyen salarios no pagados, operación draconiana de su campamento de vivienda, e intentos ilegales para importar trabajadores invitados . Sin un contrato justo el sindicato ha sido forzado a llamar al boicot de Sakuma Brothers, Helados Haagen Das, y Fresas de Driscoll. “Dado que los propietarios de las granjas están tratando de importar trabajadores invitados de nuevo este año,” dice Ramón, “hay que pedir el boicot de las fresas y frambuesas contra Haagen Das , Dricoll y Sakuma.”

Los trabajadores no quieren el boicot y la huelga, ellos simplemente quieren trabajar y criar familias saludables. Pero los abusos reiterados por parte de los propietarios de fincas les han obligado a concluir que un contrato sindical es la única manera posible de crear condiciones dignas para sus familias.

Más detallada y actualizada información sobre las condiciones y el estado de la unión se puede encontrar en:

boycottsakumaberries.com.

 

Do we really live in a black hole?

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:20pm

An introduction to a possibility: Cosmological Natural Selection

The purpose of science is to get people to examine what is real and abandon false ideas which are misleading. Our understanding of the Universe is vitally important for our species’ long term survival. The sun is going through a life cycle which will effect the earth’s climate. Dangerous meteor impacts are rare but a realistic threat. Also, it’s just plain fun to think about how mysterious, wonderful, and amazing space is.

Nobody really understands how the Universe came to be. The weird condition of the Universe being curved like a saddle is very strange. Astronomers and cosmologists everywhere insist that the Universe is flat and it is expanding from some super bizarre Big Bang event.

Alternative ideas about how the Big Bang happened and ever improving measurements of expansion suggest saddle shaped space and how we may be living inside of a black hole. This surprising idea that we are inside a black hole is not entirely accepted science. However, if found to be true, the Universe did not come from nothing and is definitely not flat.

Cosmological Natural Selection is the idea pioneered by the cosmologist, Lee Smolin. He argues that black holes are baby universes and that universes reproduce by creating lots of black holes within themselves. This is of wide interest because the laws of nature which make our kind of life likely, also make black holes likely. These two aspects of nature may be intimately related.

Standard Model Cosmology

Hubble’s law tells us the size, age, and expansion rate of the Universe. Hubble’s constant (H) is very close to 21.7. A galaxy one million light years away is moving away from us at about 21.7 kilometers or 14 miles per second. A galaxy 100 million light years away is flying away at 2170 km/s.

A million light years is a great distance, light speed (C) rounds up to 300,000 km/s. So one light year is found to be 9.5 trillion kilometers as follows:

Light year = speed of light x days per year x hours per day x seconds per hour.

LY=300,000x365x24x3600

LY=9,500,000,000,000 km.

The farthest galaxies we can observe at the edge of the visible Universe are the same distance no matter what direction. I’ll call the distance (R). Observing as if from the center is the only view we have. We can imagine things from different views and compare what we see with our telescopes, with what we expect. The Universe looks the same in every direction and astronomers conclude the distribution of galaxies is about the same everywhere.

The rule followed by nature shows that the constant (H) mentioned above does indeed account for the motion of the galaxies we see. The velocity (V) of galaxies flying away from us follow Hubble’s Law.

Velocity (V) = Hubble’s constant (H) x Distance (R).

If we use the speed of light as our velocity we find the edge of the visible Universe by dividing the speed of light by Hubble’s constant.

Distance (R) =

Speed of light (C) x million light years

Hubble’s Constant (H)

R = 300,000 x 1,000,000 LY 21.7

R=13.8 billion light years.

Anything beyond is traveling away from us faster than light and it will never be observable.

The age of the Universe is described the same way. Age (A) is the speed of light (C) divided by (H) given in millions of years.

Age (A) =

Speed of light (C) x million years

Hubble’s Constant (H)

A = 300,000 x 1,000,000 Y 21.7

A=13.8 billion years.

The visible Universe is a sphere which is 13.8 billion light years in radius. The cosmic microwave background from a sphere that size is the oldest artifact from the big bang we can detect. The age of the Universe is the same as the time light has taken to arrive here from the big bang.

If the expanding Universe were much smaller in the past, everything must once have been within the radius for a black hole of the same mass as the universe has. How could the entire Universe have escaped from this condition? It is well known of black holes that nothing escapes their gravitational pull, not even light. Everything must still be inside!

The only way for the Universe to have escaped is if it were always infinite and gravity pulled the same in every direction. Or as the inflationary model suggests, some inflation field did it?

What would being inside a black hole really look like? Possibly, a saddle shaped universe.

Saddle Shaped Universe

Not only is space expanding but the expansion is accelerating over time. This is what is meant by a saddle shaped space. Two parallel light beams traveling into the future must separate and travel away from one another due to the expansion.

Astronomers looking into deep space notice galaxies much closer together in the distant past. This vista is described by Roger Penrose as hyperbolic geometry, the Universe is very much like an M. C. Escher world. Space has expanded more over time than flat space predictions can account for.

Black holes are characterized by their singularity in the center and horizon at their boundary. Suppose the acceleration is the result of free fall toward a black hole singularity. The event horizon of the black hole may be what is observed as a cosmic microwave background seen from the inside. All other observations from this freely falling view would match the standard model of cosmology.

Frame dragging from General Relativity confirms that space is stretched out by any massive object in motion. Frame dragging can then be how space-time is created in an accelerating way. Centripetal acceleration may perfectly balance the acceleration of gravity. Angular momentum may be the only thing which could limit compression of the black hole singularity due to gravity.

Conservation of gravitational mass and conservation of angular momentum must work together in some way. The modern hypothesis called loop quantum gravity may one day describe the singularity but this science is not fully developed as yet.

Space is stretched by tidal effects along the direction of the inward spiral and not along the direction of the black hole’s radius. Freely falling matter will orbit increasingly faster as it spirals closer to the singularity. Frame dragging occurs faster than matter can fall through it, space is created.

The black hole we reside in is probably still growing by absorbing matter and energy from its surroundings. Our Universe may be embedded in a nutrient rich area of a larger universe, perhaps a supermassive black hole in a large galaxy.

Compare the standard model of Big Bang cosmology with a model of a black hole. It can be calculated the size of a black hole of the same mass as our entire Universe. The radius of a black hole, if it is the same mass as our sun, is three kilometers. So we only need to multiply 3 km times the number of solar masses in the Universe. Estimating 300 billion galaxies and 150 billion times the mass (Ms) of our sun for each galaxy, the radius (Rs) of the black hole in multiples of (Ms) is:

Rs = 3 km per sun x Suns per galaxy x Number of galaxies

Rs=3 x 150,000,000,000 x 300,000,000,000

Rs=135,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km.

To change this large number of kilometers into a more manageable number of light years we divide this by 9.5 trillion kilometers per light year:

R = (135,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 km)(9,500,000,000,000 km/LY)

R=14 billion LY.

14 billion light years, just larger than what we found earlier for the Hubble radius of the Universe. The mass of our Universe is equal the mass of a black hole of the same known radius. Let that sink in a while (pun intended).

If angular momentum continues to be conserved and if the speed of light continues to be the speed limit of the Universe, the singularity should form a ring. Centripetal acceleration will limit mass from falling all the way to the center point. The rotation of this ring drags space out, effectively expanding it.

By crossing the event horizon (the boundary of the black hole, where nothing can leave), space and time are distorted so much that matter may adhere to new physical laws and fresh parameters. Time, space, and velocity might gain new meaning when crossing the horizon. The horizon is a place where entropy itself could be inverted. From the inside it would look just like a big bang event.

This strongly supports the hypotheses of cosmological natural selection as described by Lee Smolin. Universes may reproduce this way. Smolin feels the parameters are adjusted by the singularity. People existing within it will naturally conclude the parameters of physics are unaccountably well fine tuned for their existence.

Conclusion

Better research is surely needed to confirm or falsify the saddle shaped universe hypothesis. Observations of the Cosmos are becoming more accurate with modern telescopes and space science is improving all the time. Because ultimate causes for the big bang are still open to debate, every possible cause should be carefully considered.

Cosmological Natural Selection is not entirely understood within modern cosmology and the saddle shaped universe hypothesis might be easily disproved. By necessity so many estimates, simplifications and approximations abound in cosmology that much interesting physics is yet to be uncovered. It is hoped the saddle shaped universe hypothesis will stimulate debate and generate research that will compliment Cosmological Natural Selection or refute it.

Russ Frizzell is an activist living in Olympia since 2010 and a graduate of The Evergreen State College where he studied Physics and Cosmology.

 

Fracking with fertility: The consequences for future generations

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:15pm

When I lived in rural Pennsylvania, I witnessed the negative effects of the fracking industry: a dingy brown hue to our tap water, loud gas and oil trucks careening down otherwise peaceful country roads. I even was woken early one morning—on one of my family camping outings—by men in orange jumpsuits surveying my in-law’s 88 acres of woods, marking choice drilling areas with fluorescent tape. Months later, my in-laws sold every inch of that property to the fracking industry for a large sum of money that will never be equal to the beauty and magnificence of the wildlife, streams, and plant life that flourished there.

Recently, a study has shown a direct link between the chemicals used in fracking and miscarriages, birth defects, and infertility. As a woman who has suffered three miscarriages myself (one stillborn at 24 weeks), I couldn’t help but wonder if my own exposure to polluted air and water in northeast Pennsylvania could have harmed my reproductive health.

In an EcoWatch article by Anastasia Pantsios, looked at “more than 150 papers that analyzed the health effects of compounds and chemicals widely used in fracking, such as benzene, toluene, ethyl benzene, xylene, formaldehyde and heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and lead. From their research, they identified a range of defects and reproductive disruptions known to be associated with exposure to them” including “infertility, miscarriage, impaired fetal growth, low birth weight, preterm birth and birth defects. It found that rates of these conditions were elevated in heavily fracked areas. It also found many of the same problems in farm animals and pets living in those areas.”

The potentiality (or rather, stark reality) of dangers to fetuses and infants is only a new point in opposition of fracking. Just one frack uses eight million gallons of water, and you can only frack one well 18 times—not a sustainable practice. This means that it is impossible to keep fracking confined to designated areas.

DangersOfFracking.com alleges that “methane gas and toxic chemicals leach out from the system and contaminate nearby groundwater” during the fracking process, and that “methane concentrations are 17x higher in drinking-water wells near fracturing sites than in normal wells.” Consumption of contaminated water has been linked to respiratory and neurological damage.

Futhermore, the toxic waste fluid is left to evaporate, releasing VOC’s (volatile organic compounds) that pollute the air adding to already debilitating environmental problems, such as acid rain and depletion of the ozone layer.

Despite these facts, greedy CEOs of Big Business and the officials elected by them refuse to outlaw this destructive practice. As these people shamelessly line their pockets, families are torn apart by cancer and other illnesses related to exposure to fracking chemicals. Produce and livestock are contaminated and ingested by people all across the country. Residents of rural communities are fearful of their running water, which is supposed to be nourishing, refreshing, and life-giving, and unborn children have much less of a fighting chance than they should.

Fracking has been a controversial issue in my community since I can remember. Before I knew what the term meant, I observed lawns adorned with “Don’t Frack With Our Water” signs and irate neighbors fervently demonstrating how they could light their tap water on fire. When I first heard what my husband’s family was being offered to sell their acreage in the Pocono mountains, I admit that I was not opposed to the idea, pregnant at the time and filled with my own oblivious greed.

Looking back on my attitude towards this environmentally perilous practice and the pain of delivering a stillborn child, I am ashamed to have been attracted to the dollar signs that fracking made me see. If there is one undeniable truth that exists about fracking, it’s that the consequences of what gas and oil drilling produce are full-circle, affect everyone, even those who have not yet taken their first breath. The financial gains attained by fracking are in no way worth the impact that this dangerous process will have on generations to come.

Bianca D. Velasco is a freelance writer, rogue scholar, and East Coast transplant to Olympia. Her passions are philosophy and the dissemination of information in a spirit of intellectual inquiry; she also abhors fascism in all of its insidious disguises.

 

 

Facts, opinions, and a fond parting of the ways

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:12pm

What I try to do—and what I think I mostly accomplish—is to present news in a fashion that is both entertaining and memorable. The very essence of my writing style is to freely mix the facts with my take upon those facts. I consider myself a word artist rather than a professional journalist and I often employ colourful metaphors, acerbic asides, and witty insults when writing about the perfidy of our Great American Machine. Rather than merely writing, I like to paint word-pictures — and if the artistic part of my creation requires that the Rules of English and/or journalistic restraint and/or common rules of decency be ignored smashed or mutilated—then so be it.

Anyway, Works in Progress has recently made some changes in their policies and they now have a professional editor. They have also instituted new guidelines for ‘factual’ pieces as opposed to ‘opinion’ pieces—and evidently, never shall the twain meet. Looking at the big picture this is probably a very good thing for them to do and I applaud them. Works in Progress’ reputation is that of a bunch of ranting radicals—like me, for instance—and professionalizing their publication could lead to WIP having more credibility and possibly they will begin carrying more weight in local affairs.

However, this creates a problem for me personally since that is not what I do. I tend to enthusiastically throw literary hand-grenades at the right-wingers even as I joyously toss turds into the punchbowls of the left-wingers—and when it comes to fascists I follow a strict policy of scorched-earth take-no-prisoners.

Last month Works in Progress published an article I wrote called Justice, American Style (though WIP changed the title to Justice, American Robber Baron Style). If the title you read was longer than the one I wrote, the article itself was much shorter as the new editor removed about half of it and I barely recognized my own piece. I’ve always known that I could use a good editor and she obviously spent a lot of time on my piece — and she probably a good deal of that time pulling out her hair. I honestly and truly appreciate all the time she spent and a lot of the structural changes she made were very good — but in my ‘opinion’ she also removed everything that caught the attention and made the piece memorable, leaving only a dry and rather boring recitation of facts that most readers of WIP probably already knew anyway. She removed every colourful metaphor, every acerbic aside, and every witty insult; i.e. every bit of personality and everything that defines my art as my art.

Here is an example of what was edited out:

“What the Wall Street Congressional Industrial Media Prison War Machine Complex did was the metaphorical equivalent of picking up a bunch of dog droppings from the lawn, mixing in some filler and spices, and then serving it to your grandmother whilst enthusiastically assuring her that it was a gourmet meal…

Professional? Not.

Catchy? Memorable? Fun? I think so—but that is my ‘opinion‘.

Anyway, while I occasionally write pieces that will fit into WIP’s new guidelines, overall I will probably be making far fewer submissions to Works in Progress in the future. Works in Progress remains an invaluable local resource that I truly love and treasure.   Covering under-covered news and views is what I am all about and Works in Progress does just that and they do it well. We are just sort of taking different paths and I view this as conducting an amicable separation. They like vanilla and I like butterscotch. Both are good. Both have their place. We are still friends and allies. I will still be reading WIP cover to cover every month.

Hip, hip, hooray for Works in Progress!

 

FYI: If you enjoy my writing and would like to continue to read it, I publish a weekly email newsletter aimed at the Olympia activist community. It is called the Thunderbolt and the Thunderbolt contains news mixed with views, unedited commentary, and a calendar of activist events every week. To sign up for the Thunderbolt, just send an email to dana98501@gmail.com and put “sign up for the Thunderbolt” in the subject line.

You can also listen to the Thunderbolt on the radio every Friday at 8 am and 7 pm and every Saturday at 8 am on KOWA. KOWA is our local low-power fm radio station. The broadcast signal only reaches downtown Olympia at 106.5 fm but you can stream KOWA from anywhere in the world that has Internet access on any computer or smart phone at www.kowalp.org.

In my ‘opinion’, KOWA has the best public affairs programming in Washington State and I can assure you this ‘opinion’ is not due to the fact that I happen to be the program manager…

Dana Walker is an Olympia activist and publishes The Thunderbolt, a community digital newsletter.

(Editorial note: Works In Progress has always welcomed opinion pieces from Dana Walker and we are saddened that he has decided to reduce his frequency of submissions. We must also state that our policies have not changed. As in our long-standing submission standards, WIP values opinion pieces, which “are best supported by facts, examples, and sources, and we encourage writers to include these elements to submissions.” WIP also “reserves the right to edit or not print submitted material” as stated under our Governing Tool.

One last thing. All of our editors volunteer their time; there are no paid staff. We’ve tried paying people to work for WIP and it just never works out.

 

Inslee’s Oil Transportation “Safety” Act

Works in Progress - Sun, 02/08/2015 - 10:10pm

Dan Leahy on what it is and what it’s not

Roughly sixty-million gallons of volatile crude oil passes through Washington every week, and over a million gallons of crude oil was spilled from trains in North America in 2013, more than the previous 30 years combined. Numerous explosions also occurred, including the explosion in Quebec that killed 47 people. WA Senate Democrats

In the first week of the 2015 legislative session, Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County, and Sen. Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, introduced Governor Jay Inslee’s request oil transportation legislation to the state Senate (SB 5087).   WA Senate Democrats

Unprecedented amounts of oil are traveling along the rails of Washington state, through our rural areas and downtowns and along our coastlines,” Rolfes said. “Right now, it is impacted communities and the taxpayers of Washington who bear all of the risk and responsibility in the event of an accident. This legislation simply shifts some of the burden of spill prevention and response onto those that profit from oil transportation.

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County

This bill is not about the safe transportation of crude oil

…by rail, as has been demanded by cities and citizens across Washington state.

The railroad or “tank car” is barely mentioned in the bill. It even exempts the railroad from participation in its “spill prevention plan.” In Section 5 (2) the bill lists eleven items that must be in a spill prevention plan submitted by an onshore or offshore facility receiving crude oil, but then in subsection (3) the bill states “Plan requirements in subsection (2) of this section are not applicable to railroad cars while transporting oil over rail lines of this state.”

The railroad is mentioned in relationship to providing advance notice of when oil is transferred to a terminal. (Section 11, 7b). The information provided is then published quarterly on the DOE website. It covers location, volume, place of origin, number of rail cars and “number and volume of oil spills on route” (Section 9). If someone thinks the availability of this information on the DOE website will make the people living in communities next to terminals “safer”, I have a bridge for them in Brooklyn. Cheap.

Not one word of the testimony to the Governor about how to improve rail safety by the Legislative Board of the Locomotive Engineers’ union is reflected anywhere in this “safety” legislation. Nothing about the inexperienced, inadequately trained railroad employees, single person train crews, chronic and acute fatigue, absence of track maintenance commensurate with number of heavy tonnage trains, inadequate regulation and rulemaking by the Federal Railroad Administration, inadequate Whistle blower protection, etc.

The fact that this bill contains nothing that will improve the safety of crude by rail is testimony to the fact that DOE’s rail consultant for its study and subsequent legislation were former corporate officers of BNSF, Mainline Management, Inc.

This bill is not about prevention

…even though in Section 3 (2) the bill states, “The legislature finds that prevention is the best method” and its “primary objective … is to achieve a zero spills strategy.”

If prevention were the goal, the Legislature would heed the words of its First Responders and call for “a halt (to) the movement of this crude by rail” until “the determination that this crude by rail can be moved safely through our cities and rural areas. (WSCFF resolution 14-33).

If prevention were the goal, the Legislature would heed the words of the cities such as Vancouver who opposes the massive Tesoro terminal at the Port of Vancouver or the cities of Aberdeen, Montesano, Elma, Westport, the Port of Olympia and the Quinault Nation who oppose the three proposed oil terminals at the Port of Grays Harbor.

If prevention were the goal, this language in Section 3 would have to be changed. “These shipments (of oil) are expected to increase in the coming years.” The Legislature would have to take some responsibility for halting that increase by stopping the proposed oil terminals and expanding refineries.

“Best achievable protection” (Section 1) is not prevention. This language says we will take the risk and mitigate later. This language replaces the precautionary principle. That principle says if we think something is dangerous (plenty of language in this bill that says it is), we say “no” and ban it until we know it is safe. “Best achievable protection” allows oil interests to trump common sense; it substitutes reason and caution for breathless rhetoric and turns communities into sacrifice zones for the 1%.

This bill is not about making us safe

…from the volatile, explosive nature of the North Dakota Bakken shale oil being transported throughout our state, nor about increased risk of explosions due to increased rail traffic.

There is not one word in this legislation about the explosions that have taken place in Lac Megantic, Casselton and other places nor how the Legislature intends to protect us from those explosions. The First Responders have already testified, as have many Fire Departments, that fighting such an explosion or fire is beyond their capacities.

This bill sells “safety” in the guise of spill response. It is about raising funds for spill clean up of the marine environment and the threat of waterborne oil transport. The bill taxes at the point oil is being transferred to terminals. It places those funds in two accounts, the oil spill response fund and the oil spill prevention fund. (Section 19). It presumes spills. The main contractor for this legislative study was a spill consultant, Environmental Research Consulting of Cortland Manor, NY. They received $250,000 of the $300,000 allocated by the Legislature.

As there is for the marine environment, there is no commensurate “special concern” for the agricultural land, the wheat, fruit, dairy or land that these oil trains pass through nor the danger these trains pose for the non-marine related environment such as eastern Washington rail towns or those towns along the I-5 corridor.

What this bill does do

… is make the Governor’s approval of new terminals at the Port of Vancouver and the Port of Grays Harbor “safe.”

It adds “the Columbia River and Grays Harbor” to language about Puget Sound. (Section 3) and (Section 16). The only reason for such language is the proposed oil terminals at the Port of Vancouver and the Port to Grays Harbor to be supplied by unit trains.

This legislation reinforces a decision to proceed with those terminals. This legislation, if passed, provides the supporters of those terminals, and the Governor himself, cover for approval. “Hey, Governor Inslee, now that you made those things “safe” it’s okay to approve them.” Approval means more trains, more dangers, more extraction, transport and burning of fossil fuels.

In exchange for a total of five oil tank farms, the communities of Grays Harbor and Vancouver may get an escort tug a piece for oil tankers and barges. (Section 16 & 17).

There is no equivalent “escort tug” trade off for communities not at a terminal site. They all get to wonder when that mile long train loaded with three million gallons of explosive Bakken fuel or Alberta tar sands bitumen is going to derail, explode, or pour into their fields and community.

This is not a theoretical problem. We know derailments and oil spills will happen. For the safety of our communities and economy, as well as the preservation of our environment, we need to pass this bill.

Sen. Christine Rolfes, D-Kitsap County

Dan Leahy is a Comandante in the Herioco Batallon de San Patricio and encourages all US citizens to read about the Mexican Revolution so they will know what a social revolution actually looks like. La Lucha sigue, Zapata vive.

Why not punch a nice passenger line straight into downtown Olympia through Lacey?

Olympia Time - Thu, 02/05/2015 - 5:41am
Connect one of those green lines up with the light blue line: BANG. Passenger rail!I swear I was going to write this piece way before the Olympian had a story yesterday. But, here it is: you know there used to be a rail line that passed through Lacey from a connection with a major line and into downtown Olympia?

Did you know that that rail line closed down in the 1990s and was eventually turned into a walking trail? And, did you know this sort of railbanking is sometimes reversed, trails back into rails-style?

Unfortunately, what was eventually turned into the Woodland Trail wasn't railbanked at all, it was abandoned and taken over by the cities. Railbanking implies a continued ownership by a railroad company and a temporary use as a public trail.

From what I can tell, Burlington Northern totally walked away from the old line.

There is one section at the edge of the Lacey border that is still owned by Burlington Northern, but the rest of the old rail line is now owned by Lacey and Olympia.

And a discussion between local leaders about 10 years ago about local rail options didn't cover reactivated this line much at all.

Here's what I don't get about what was going on in Olympia and Thurston County in the early 1990s. Why not use the old rail line as a passenger terminal, a way to bring Amtrack into Olympia proper? 

This is the is the same era that saw the old Amtrack shed at East Olympia replaced with a semi-useful station at Yelm Highway. The Centennial Station is still way out in the sticks though. So, instead of taking of half-step with Centennial, why grab the old Burlington line through Lacey and into Olympia and go whole hog and bring Amtrack Trains downtown?

I'm sure there would have been logistical challenges with turning a passenger train around Union Pacific line south of town, and possibly other logistical challenges I'm not getting. But, the history I've found no discussion at all about the idea. We seemed stuck on having passenger rail all the way out beyond Lacey and turning over an urban rail line to a trail.

Just seems weird to me.

This post is a day late, maybe pretty irrelevant right now: My love letter to sudden Seahawks fans

Olympia Time - Mon, 02/02/2015 - 5:01am
I'm typing this post out Saturday night before the Seahawks second Superbowl in two year. The third their entire history.

I meant to write this for last Thursday, but I got sidetracked by my sudden fascination with Olympia history. So, on the Monday after the Superbowl, this may seem like the most irrelevant post ever.

And, first, before I launch into my main point, just a memory. I don't remember the year exactly, but I do remember the feeling. I was a transplanted Seattle everything sports fan in Delaware. My family had moved there at the beginning of middle school. It was likely the best way I could exercise my feelings that I never wanted to move away from Washington.

But, whenever there was a Seattle team on cable sports or any national broadcast, I'd sit down and watch. I spent a lot of time trying to decide whether it was the Detriot Lions or the Seahawks playing. Those that remember the gray Hawks helmets will get that one.

Anyway, this particular game was a Monday nighter in Seattle. The era of Cortez Kennedy. Boy, they sucked. The announcers were disgusted. The Seahawks were really really bad. I mean bad.

But, I wanted to watch and the announcers openly grumbled why such a bad team would be featured in the national spotlight. I really just wanted to see the Hawks and the interstitial shots of Seattle.

Anyway, there's my best (aside from making a 1995 Seattle Mariners scrapbook, also in Delaware) Seattle sports bonafide.

And, here's my thought about all the new people who did not notice when Russell Wilson was drafted, but seem to know a hell of a lot about him now. To all the new fans of the Seahawks who will likely not pay much attention when they're losing again. To everyone who owns way more Hawks stuff than me (one t-shirt vs. like 20 Sounders items).

To all of you (I won't say bandwagoners) enthusiastic folks: Welcome. You are my people. You weren't with me on that sad Monday night in Delaware, but you're here now. And, that's all that matters to me.

I kind of wrote about my feelings on this topic here. But, this what I'm writing now is more personal.

I will share one anecdote of new found fandom and then I'll stop. One of my coworkers about 15 months ago could not care less about the Hawks. Despite living in western Washington for years, I suppose sports just isn't her thing.

But, she is a writer. She tells stories for a living, so after slowly creeping into following the Hawks a little last year, this year, she's thrown herself into it with a sudden fervor of the converted. And, the way she explains it is that the Hawks are like a really good t.v. show.

The games have a plot, they have emotional peaks. There are also interesting characters on the team that shape how the game develops. Quiet destroyer Lynch. Honorable leader Wilson. Wild genius Sherman.

And, in the manner that sports is really just entertainment, her entry into the Hawks is an honest one.

You may still have not a deep understanding of Seahawk history. Dave Krieg small hand jokes are lost on you, sure. But, you're here. And, you came here your own way. In an honest way. So, thanks. Hopefully you're here for awhile.

Does anyone have a nice drone they'd like to take out and recreate Olympia's famous bird's eye view?

Olympia Time - Thu, 01/29/2015 - 6:03am
Wouldn't you want an updated version of this view?



You don't need me out there with you. But, let me show you what I came up with about seven years ago:


The only real hard thing was coming up with where today you'd need to be to find this view. The change in the city's shoreline since the 1870s makes it almost impossible to spit ball it. But, if you take a look at this KMZ file in Google Earth, you can find a nearly where the perspective of the original birds eye view takes you.
Now seven years ago I poked around, trying to find a nice perch to take the same perspective from. I came up with a few good options, but ran out of time and interest to follow any of them up.
So, this is where you come in dear anonymous drone owner.
Since 2007, drones have arrived. Nice, inexpensive (somewhat) drones that people own and use. So, taking an hour or so, flying around the perspective line, I bet someone could come up with a nice recreation of the birds eye view photo.
And, when you do, would you mind emailing it to me? That would be awesome!
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