When Democrats go full Tea Party for votes

Pandering and politics go together like Seattle and rain.  However, sometimes even the most cynical politico can only gaze in wonder and awe as the pandering touches a level of absurdity that few could predict this political season.  In Thurston County, home of Washington State’s capital City of Olympia, Democrat Olympia City Councilman Jim Cooper is campaigning for a seat on the Thurston County Commission.  It appears that his effort to appeal to rural (and one assumes, more culturally conservative) voters, this well known Democrat politician has chosen to cover himself with “Tea Party” symbols like the Gadsden flag when he goes to small town parades.    

Jim Cooper at a parade in the City of Rainier showing his Tea Party credentials to the rural folk
Jim Cooper at a recent parade in the City of Rainier flying his Tea Party credentials to the rural folk

Political pandering is never a pretty sight, and the process is not confined to politicians from any one political party.  When Hillary Clinton changes her accent depending on her audience – it is an action of deserved ridicule.  Jim Cooper is well known in the City of Olympia, and he grew up around politics. Most political observers expect at least some nuance from experienced politicians like him.  The rural voters of Thurston County are only starting to understand the “Progressive” plans he has for them if he gets into office.  No honest person could believe that Mr. Cooper would last for 30 seconds flying the Gadsden flag at an Olympia City Council meeting, or at the Democrat Party headquarters for that matter.  A rainbow flag?  Of course.  A United Nations flag?  Hang it high and proud.  But, a Gadsden flag?  Flying this symbolic flag in Olympia is like waving a cross in front of Dracula, or unfurling an Israeli flag in ISIS territory.  Why would he do this out in the rural parts of the county?

Jim Cooper grew up around politics. pictured here with his father, Mike Cooper, former City of Edmonds Mayor
Jim Cooper grew up around politics. pictured here with his father, Mike Cooper, former City of Edmonds Mayor

Democrat Jim Cooper has a lengthy history of supporting all tax increases (including an illegal income tax proposal).  He believes in much bigger government, and he has become a poster child for incompetent and unaccountable government.  This history is unlikely to endear him to the average “Tea Party” voter.

However, based on primary election results and other recent county-wide elections – he is aware what works in the progressive bastion of Olympia will not play well in the rural parts of the county.  So, in an awesome chameleon strategy of political pandering, he pretends to be whatever he believes people want him to be.  This politician pulls out the Gadsden Flags, the gas-guzzling yellow truck, and the straw hat to ride in the small town parades of Thurston County.  Because, that is what those hicks in the sticks want to see in their politicians.  Don’t tread on me, hell yeah!

jim_cooper_ tea party truck
Jim Cooper goes full Tea Party for those rural votes in 2016

Exposing this pandering spectacle is not an attempt to deny Jim Cooper the right to wave whatever flag he wants.  It is still a semi-free country.  In the rural areas of Thurston County, few would care regardless. However, most people – rural or urban – don’t admire hypocrisy and pandering.  It insults the intelligence of the very people at whom the pandering is directed.  It is far better to be true to your beliefs, even if they are politically harmful.  People may disagree, but at least they still respect their differences, and they know where you really stand.

A self-identified “progressive” Democrat may wrap himself in the Gadsden flag in an effort to virtue-signal Tea Party solidarity.  However, actions speak louder than flags.  Just how stupid does Jim Cooper think voters are?

Jim Cooper has Big Plans for Thurston County

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

For more background on Thurston County – read these articles:

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Total citizen opposition to questionable rural car at public hearing

Thurston County wants to force another illegal tax on rural residents

Thurston County backpedals from fireworks ban, fumbles through hearing

Thurston County celebrates Independence Day with Fireworks Ban

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

Thurston County discovers new cash cow in the “Crap Tax”

What Happened to the County Charter Movement?

Thurston County Invents $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore quits, will now plague the City of Yakima

Thurston County spends $8 million and 18 years to make a $4 million empty building worth $2 million

Thurston County spends $5k for a $3k computer, then loses 12 of them

Thurston County finds missing $60k computer inventory, uses 3 card monte excuse

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Recent elections in Thurston County shock the establishment

Thurston County Commissioners Deny the Reality of Math

Hunters fighting to stop Thurston County’s gun ordinance

A Plague of Consequences in Thurston County

Thurston County to Citizens:  Living here is a real gamble

Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is costing Taxpayers Millions

Thurston County Demonstrates How Not to Build a Jail

Tales of Tyranny – Bert Wasch Story – Thurston County denies his right to build a home for 5 years

Tales of Tyranny – Misti Chastain – Thurston County attempts to destroy her farm business

Complaint filed against Sound Transit for illegal collusion with ST3 lobby group

The supporters of ST3, a massive $54 billion tax proposal for light rail on the ballot this November, appear to be violating campaign finance rules.  There is great political and financial pressure to ensure passage of one of the biggest tax increases in Washington State history this November.  

A formal complaint was filed with Washington State’s Public Disclosure Commission on August 20, 2016 by Tacoma resident and citizen activist Conner Edwards against Sound Transit for violating campaign finance and public disclosure rules.  The status of this complaint can be tracked and read on the Public Disclosure Commission website here, Case #7823.  The text of the complaint is as follows (and linked here):

To Whom it May Concern —

Conner Edwards, Tacoma resident and citizen activist filed PDC complaint against Sound Transit this week
Conner Edwards, Tacoma resident and citizen activist filed PDC complaint against Sound Transit this week

I am filing a formal complaint alleging that the public agency Sound Transit violated RCW 42.17A.555 by illegally releasing an exempt list of contact information to the campaign committee “Mass Transit Now” in violation of the Public Records Act.  

The improper release of this list is evidence that the government agency Sound Transit is improperly coordinating with “Mass Transit Now” committee to influence the outcome of the ST3 ballot measure.

The contact list containing 227,000 names was used to send out a mass e-mail electioneering communication from “Mass Transit Now” promoting a “yes” vote on ST3, which will be on the 2016 General election ballot.

Public agencies routinely respond to public record requests. Designated officers keep redaction logs, containing the PRA exemptions that are most applicable to the documents the agency possesses. Experienced attorneys advise staff on what information can be released and what is exempt. It is simply not conceivable that Sound Transit was not aware of the exemption in RCW 42.56.330.  It is far more likely that they intentionally did not apply the exemption so as to benefit the “Mass Transit Now” campaign.

Any campaign with punctuation in their name is very serious indeed
The exclamation point conveys urgency!

If one person among the 227,000 had not registered for the ORCA program with a separate e-mail address, it is likely that Sound Transit’s violation of the law would not have been discovered. It is likely that the collaboration between Sound Transit and “Mass Transit Now” goes deeper than the violation I am currently writing about.

If passed, ST3 will dramatically increase Sound Transit’s taxes in Snohomish, King, and Pierce Counties. Both the “Yes” and the “No” campaign have a right to be heard, but as a government agency, Sound Transit must stop influencing the outcome of the election with public resources.

Lori Anderson, spokeswoman for the PDC, summed up the issue well: “If there’s protected records that they wouldn’t give to you or I, then they shouldn’t be giving those to the campaign… … that’s a restriction on using public facilities to support a political campaign’s ballot initiative.”

While I rely heavily on the facts written in Mr. Kamb’s 8/19 article (attached), I have also made a public record request to Sound Transit for documents related to the violation I have just described. When I receive more information related to the violation, I will share it with the appropriate PDC compliance officer.

In addition to filing this complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission, I will also be notifying the Attorney General’s Office and King County Prosecutor’s Office pursuant to RCW 42.17A.765 (4).

I reserve the right to enforce RCW 42.17A via citizen’s action in the name of the state if the Attorney General and Prosecuting Attorney fail to act within the time period prescribed by law.

Best,

Conner Edwards

As indicated in the complaint, formal notice was also sent to the Washington State Attorney General’s office and the King County Prosecutor’s office.  Not surprisingly, the King County Prosecutor’s office has deferred to the state on this one (as indicated in this letter) sent to Mr. Edwards.

As long as you can fill in the blank with "more tax dollars," Sound Transit wants to hear from you.
As long as you can fill in the blank with “more tax dollars,” Sound Transit wants to hear from you.

This complaint is based, in part, on the Seattle Times article from August 19, which exposed the fact that Sound Transit colluded with the Mass Transit Now Political Action Committee, which is largely funded by special interest corporations lobbying to profit from the tax burden Sound Transit plans to impose on local residents in King, Pierce and Snohomish Counties.   This massive $54 billion tax proposal is called ST3 and it will be on the November ballot in all three counties in the targeted precincts (not all voters in these counties can vote on this tax, because the less supportive precincts were gerrymandered out of the voting district area).  

Pretty pictures won't be enough to convince voters to support ST3 in November, but apparently handing out personal contact information of the riders to lobbyists will help
Pretty pictures won’t be enough to convince voters to support ST3 in November, but apparently handing out the personal contact information of the riders to lobbyists could make a difference

Mr. Edwards formal notice to the State Attorney General’s office triggers a 45 day window where the Attorney General can choose to prosecute Sound Transit for the violation, or they can take a pass.  After 45 days, if the State AG chooses to not pursue, then local citizens can take direct legal action against Sound Transit themselves.  However, this will be a difficult case for local citizens to prosecute because Sound Transit has, over recent years, hired or “consulted” with the top 57 law firms in the Seattle area.  This means those firms are conflicted, and couldn’t be used by any plaintiffs wishing to sue Sound Transit.  

If the Attorney General chooses to pursue Sound Transit (see the confirmation letter from AG to Mr. Edwards here), most observers believe that a softball approach will be taken due to the political clout and financial support Sound Transit receives from powerful political insiders in Washington State.  

Sound Transit loves throwing itself parties on the taxpayers dime.
Sound Transit loves throwing itself parties on the taxpayers dime.

Sound Transit has, in the past, been found in violation of many public disclosure rules, illegal use of paid lobbyists, and other questionable actions.  Sound Transit is also willing to mislead the public and elected officials about their past failures to complete projects on time or on budget (even while they throw expensive parties for themselves).  This recent violation should come as no surprise to anyone familiar with Sound Transit.  Although small fines have been imposed against the agency in the past, these fines have been treated as the cost of doing business for this agency.  

Conner Edwards said earlier today:

Sound Transit has repeatedly violated state law prohibiting public agencies from engaging in campaign activities with taxpayer money. This needs to end.

Taxpayer should not be forced to assist the pro-ST3 campaign in their goal to take even more money from working families in King, Pierce, and Snohomish Counties.

Sound Transit need to be held accountable, and I’m willing to go to court if necessary to enforce state law.

Only transparency demanded by citizens and their elected officials can keep the Sound Transit juggernaut on the legal track and not off the rails violating the law and abusing the power they have over citizens.  Unfortunately, for the small number of riders who use Sound Transit, their personal information it appears will be distributed to any politically connected corporation or organization who can use this information in whatever means necessary to promote their special interests.  The rest of us can only observe and monitor the agencies that enforce the law.  We must ensure that there is not one set of rules for us and another for Sound Transit.

Just a start

If you want to contact the Public Disclosure Commission Directly to support this complaint, you can call or email them:

Phone       (360) 753-1111
Email         pdc@pdc.wa.gov

If you want to contact Sound Transit and tell them what you think about their tax proposal, giving out personal information on the people who use their trains and buses, or on anything else, you can contact them at main@soundtransit.org or their board of directors here.

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

Documents Referenced in this Article

Case #7823 – Public Disclosure Commission – Sound Transit Complaint w/ Attachments filed by Conner Edwards August 20, 2016

King County Prosecutor’s office response letter to Conner Edwards complaint – deferring to State AG – August 23, 2016

Washington State Attorney General response letter to Conner Edwards acknowledging receipt of complaint and 45-day window for private legal action – August 24, 2016 

Serious reasons to be concerned about ST3:

How is ST3 like an STD?

Rueven Carlyle is right to be asking the driving questions about ST3 

Sound Transit 1 ran twice over budget.  What about Sound Transit 3?

Sound Transit throws $858k party for itself

Sound Transit 3:  Big bucks and insider consultants fuel “people powered” ST3 campaign

Sound Transit improperly send 173,000 ORCA card users info to supporters of ST3 campaign

Sound Transit fined $15,000 for lobbying violations

Vote No on ST3 – People for Smarter Transit

We Save our trail – No Transit on Trail for ST3

Smarter Transit.org

Why Sound Transit’s ST3 Timeline doesn’t matter

Sound Transit’s ST3 campaign kicks off with deception and sketchy finances

Who is benefitting from ST3?

ST3 would result in sales tax rates as high as 10.4%

Sound Transit Touts highly skewed survey to support ST3

Sound Transit should “tap the brakes” on ST3

Sound Transit’s new ST3 scam

Related articles:

Gang Green and the Government Staff Infection

The City of SeaTac suffers from a serious staff infection

Why can’t we build bridges in Washington State?

Despite desperate claims – Thurston County’s rural car tax still illegal

An assortment of local political observers went public last week in support of the legality of Thurston County’s proposed rural car tax.  Their defense of the car tax is fascinating, but it is lazy and wrong. 

We wrote last week about Thurston County’s proposed illegal car tax and wrote again about the opposition to the car tax by local residents at the public hearing. After the Olympian wrote a fawning and uncritical review of the car tax proposal and did a better job

Graeme Sackrison defends Thurston County's illegal tax
Graeme Sackrison defends Thurston County’s illegal tax (Mr. Sackrison does not support this tax now)

reporting on the hearing itself a few days later, several local commentators challenged claims that the proposed tax was illegal. This included a short article by local talk show host and long-time writer Ken Balsley with whom I often tend to agree.  The supporters of the tax also included local politicos like former Lacey Mayor and current North Thurston School District Board Director Graeme Sackrison.  (Correction:  at this time, Mr. Sackrison has confirmed via Facebook post that he does NOT support this tax). 

Due to the legal confusion among folk who should (and usually do) know better, it is worth clarifying why this proposed tax is illegal.  Against our better judgment we will also outline the three actions that could be taken to make the proposed illegal tax a “legal tax.”

Why this proposed tax is illegal

None of the Thurston County Commissioners live within the newly incorporated Thurston County Transportation Benefit District (TCTBD), which is the primary reason the proposed tax is illegal.  All taxing districts are managed by a Council, Commission or Board of elected officials who live in that district.  All of them. No exceptions.  Multiple statutes deal with taxing districts individually by category.  Examples of this are RCW 35.57.010 (3)(c) and RCW 85.38.070 (3) and (6) .  However, it is true in the state law that was passed to create Transportation Benefit Districts, this legal fact is not specified (although it is implied).  Fortunately, the statute doesn’t have to specify this fact because state law (and recent legal precedent) is very clear.

Not everything Thurston County wants to do is illegal, but this rural car tax certainly is
Not everything Thurston County wants to do is illegal, but this rural car tax certainly is

Specifically, RCW 42.04.020  “Eligibility to Hold Office” clearly states:

“That no person shall be competent to qualify for or hold any elective public office within the state of Washington, or any county, district, precinct, school district, municipal corporation or other district or political subdivision, unless he or she be a citizen of the United States and state of Washington and an elector of such county, district, precinct, school district, municipality or other district or political subdivision.” RCW 42.04.020

This statute was recently reaffirmed in a local Thurston County 2012 lawsuit (Parker v. Wyman), which was filed to challenge the eligibility of candidate (and now Superior Court Judge) Christine Schaller who had filed to run for Superior Court Judge that year.  Thurston County Auditor (and now Washington Secretary of State) Kim Wyman was named in the lawsuit because the plaintiff was challenging  the auditor’s decision to allow candidate Schaller to be on the ballot since she did not reside in Thurston County at the time.  The court affirmed that ALL elected officials EXCEPT judges must live within the boundaries of the district for which they are running for office.

The TCTB is a separate and independent municipal corporation.  It is a unique taxing district.  This is clear both under state law and the incorporation documents (attached below) It is not just another division of Thurston County for the Commissioners to run any way they want.  

How come the other Transportation Benefit Districts don’t have this problem?

The most common (and the laziest) argument made for the legality of this proposed rural car tax is this.  Everyone else is doing it, why can’t the Thurston County Commissioners?  

Commissioner Romero is looking towards retirement and seemed relieved to finish this hearing.
Commissioner Romero ponders the illegal car tax at a recent hearing.

Two other Transportation Benefit Districts exist within Thurston County already.  These are located in Olympia and Tumwater.  Each TBD conforms to the same boundaries as the existing respective city boundary.  The city council members in both cities sit on both the city council and the board of the TBD.  This is legal and the taxes they charge are legal (if misguided and wasted) because the elected officials all live within the boundaries of their respective district.  According to our research, all the other TBDs around the state have similar arrangements.  It is only Thurston County who chose to take the road less travelled and the one with a few more legal landmines.

The statute governing TBDs (RCW 36.73) allows for a multi-jurisdictional boundary (covering combined county and city jurisdictions), however, it also provided for very detailed and explicit representation requirements on the final municipal corporate board so that each municipality had proportional representation on that board.  This also implies that it was the intention of the legislature that the board members would all live within the taxing district itself.  What party of illegal

Because, as referenced in the original ordinance (link here) forming the district, Thurston County was not able to politically convince the other jurisdictions to join in a multi-jurisdictional TBD, Commissioners Sandra Romero, Cathy Wolfe, and Karen Valenzuela decided to create a rural county district only.  None of the current Thurston County commissioners live within the taxing district boundaries.  Any creation of a new tax using the TCTBD is not legal.

Creating the district was legal, but imposing the tax is illegal

There is some nuance in this argument because it does appear that the formation of the TCTBD is legal (if misguided and a poor policy choice).  However, since none of the elected officials live in the district, then any effort by them to do anything with the district would be illegal.  

Which creates a quandary.  Quandaries, like quagmires are not uncommon in recent Thurston County Commission history.

How to make it legal.  Three options

Commissioner Romero is looking forward to retirement using our tax dollars
Commissioner Sandra Romero has some options to make this illegal tax legal, but it might require her to move

Against our better judgment, because we do not support the tax or the district, we will still do our civic duty  to help Thurston County understand how to stop violating the law.  

First, since this TCTBD is a separate municipal corporation from Thurston County itself, there is a clear legal requirement for independent counsel. This is logical because of the obvious self-dealing conflict of interest problems.  However, it is also spelled out in the TCTBD charter itself (section 5.06).  Thurston County needs to do this quickly because they have obviously been giving themselves poor legal advice up to this point, which opens up the county to litigation and the staff attorneys to bar complaints.    

The three options the commissioners have to make the proposed tax legal are as follows:

  •  All three commissioners can move into the taxing district, or
  • They can initiate the process to create a new taxing district board comprised of elected officials who live in the district, or
  • They can lobby to change state law 

Since it is unlike all three commissioners would move anytime soon, the Thurston County Commissioners could initiate the process for the TCTBD to set up a new three or five member commission of elected officials to represent the residents of this new taxing district.  They can be elected on a staggered term as is traditionally found in all taxing districts.  For example, if five members – three would have four year terms, and two would have two year terms the first cycle.  After that, all would have a full four year term staggered, three one election cycle, two others the next.  This isn’t rocket science.

Commissioner candidates Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse are hoping Thurston County can pass more taxes on rural residents
Commissioner candidates Jim Cooper and Kelsey Hulse are hoping Thurston County can pass more taxes on rural residents

Alternatively, Thurston County Commissioners Romero and Wolfe, being former legislators themselves, can take the final option and lobby their former co-workers in the state legislature to change the law and the state constitution to allow local elected officials to run for office in districts where they don’t live.  This is a tough road to travel, but Thurston County usually doesn’t pick the easy way.

In conclusion, there are legal paths to impose the desired tax.  The Thurston County Commission has so far failed to take them.  Due to a combination of ignorance, poor legal advice,  and no shortage of incompetence, Thurston County has chosen the wrong path.  

We have done our civic duty, and the county has the opportunity to avoid a class action lawsuit next year.  Better yet, the citizens should have a reprieve from a poorly planned illegal tax.  A new commission can just dissolve this silly effort and start working to use the transportation dollars more efficiently in the future.  The choice, ultimately, rests with our elected officials, but at least ignorance can no longer be Romero, Wolfe, or staff’s excuse.  what if they are really that stupid

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

Specific documents referenced in this article:

Transportation Benefit District Ordinance #15103

Thurston County Transportation Benefit District Charter

For more background on Thurston County – read these articles:

Total citizen opposition to questionable rural car at public hearing

Thurston County wants to force another illegal tax on rural residents

Thurston County backpedals from fireworks ban, fumbles through hearing

Thurston County celebrates Independence Day with Fireworks Ban

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

Thurston County discovers new cash cow in the “Crap Tax”

What Happened to the County Charter Movement?

Thurston County Invents $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore quits, will now plague the City of Yakima

Thurston County spends $8 million and 18 years to make a $4 million empty building worth $2 million

Thurston County spends $5k for a $3k computer, then loses 12 of them

Thurston County finds missing $60k computer inventory, uses 3 card monte excuse

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Recent elections in Thurston County shock the establishment

Thurston County Commissioners Deny the Reality of Math

Hunters fighting to stop Thurston County’s gun ordinance

A Plague of Consequences in Thurston County

Thurston County to Citizens:  Living here is a real gamble

Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is costing Taxpayers Millions

Thurston County Demonstrates How Not to Build a Jail

Tales of Tyranny – Bert Wasch Story – Thurston County denies his right to build a home for 5 years

Tales of Tyranny – Misti Chastain – Thurston County attempts to destroy her farm business

Union Protests Incompetent Thurston County Commissioner

Total citizen opposition to questionable rural car tax at Thurston County hearing

At the Tuesday hearing for Thurston County’s proposed rural car tax for the new Thurston County Transportation Benefit District generated very little love from local citizens.  Every phone call, email and resident who testified was in opposition.  This isn’t a new experience for the Thurston County Commission, but historically they have been able to drag at least one hardy soul to the hearings who at least pretends to support the proposals.  At the Tuesday hearing, no supporter (other than the government staff) was to be found.

Thurston County Public Works staff did not seem to be enjoyed the hearing as much as those making public comment
Thurston County Public Works staff did not seem to be enjoying the hearing as much as those making public comment. They may have been the only supporters in the room.

We have argued that the proposed tax is illegal for a variety of reasons including the fact that none of the Commissioners actually live in the taxing district, so they won’t be subject to the tax themselves.  We pointed out that the charter of this taxing district requires them to obtain outside (not from the Prosecutor’s office) legal counsel, which they failed to do, and which means the legal advice they have received to date is conflicted and probably worthy of a bar complaint against internal legal staff.  However, concerned citizens in opposition to the tax also raised a number of other insightful and pertinent questions.  

Apparently some bridges in Thurston County were built in 1920s, but staff just figured out they might need to be replaced.
The county has been around a long time, and some bridges in Thurston County were built in 1920s, but staff just figured out they might need to be replaced.

Staff produced a vague map showing some old bridges in Thurston County that were built in the 1920s and needed to be replaced.  It was pointed out to them by citizens that the money Thurston County was trying to raise with this tax wasn’t even enough to fix one of the bridges.  Others pointed out the $69 million Thurston County already gets for roads.  If Thurston County had 90 years to plan maintenance and replacement on bridges, why hadn’t they prioritized this and been budgeting for it long ago?  Why was it suddenly an emergency right now?  Many people suggested that the Commissioners just postpone the vote until a new commission is in place since the tax itself wouldn’t go into effect until next year anyway.

Commissioner Romero is looking towards retirement and seemed relieved to finish this hearing.
Commissioner Romero is looking towards retirement and seemed relieved to finish this hearing.

Other people discussed how they knew people who worked as flaggers for public works in the summer and how when their projects were completed they were told by supervisors to go hide out and just get paid for the extra hours.  This one got some harsh looks from Commissioner Romero directed at the Public Works staff.  Examples of other Thurston County waste was given.  Other people pointed out that Thurston County was attempting to shove through too many last minute taxes like the pocket gopher tax, the crap tax, etc.  There were multiple complaints about property tax increases, and the disproportionate impact on low income residents.

Lacey resident Robert Slater, who doesn’t live in the taxing district came to support his friends and fellow veterans who do live in the district.  Mr. Slater pointed out to the commissioners

“A failure to plan on your part does not constitute an emergency for us now.  Stop some of the vanity projects, and cut them out first before you try to raise more money from us.”  

Due, in part to the new cameras installed in the hearing rooms or because some staffer thought it was a better location, the podium was located at an awkward angle to the commissioners dias.  This encouraged the speakers to look at the staff who were seated where the podium was pointed.  At one point, Commissioner Romero scolded a speaker who was directing his comments at staff instead of her.  

The room was filled with opponents of the questionable rural car tax proposal. Plus a few boy scouts who got their civics lesson for the evening - don't trust Thurston County
The room was filled with opponents of the questionable rural car tax proposal. Plus a few boy scouts who got their civics lesson for the evening – don’t trust Thurston County. Note the people brought their own cameras.

A few boy scouts were attending this public hearing as part of acquiring one of their merit badges.  They were able to witness a true civics education as the public comment period demonstrated universal opposition and quite a few verbal barbs tossed at the hapless county commissioners and a stone-faced staff.  Staff did not appear to enjoy the hearing as much as the citizens venting at the microphone.  

Jim Cooper doesn't always dress like a pirate, but when he does he carries a parrot
Jim Cooper doesn’t always dress like a pirate, or carry a parrot, but he does expect to be elected to County Commissioner this November, and he wants these taxes on the books before his coronation (source: Jim Cooper’s Facebook Page)

No action was taken by the commissioners.  Most political observers believe that Commissioner Bud Blake is opposed to this tax.  Commissioner Wolfe appears very supportive and determined to shove a lot of ordinances out the door before she retires.  Commissioner Sandra Romero, it is suggested, is a key player in the Coronated Candidate for Commissioner Project (or “CCCP” for short), which is the effort to get Jim Cooper elected.  Some rural residents are calling the constellation of taxes being rushed through the process the “Cooper Tax Crunch” because they believe Jim Cooper wants some politically painful votes finished and on the books before he becomes commissioner.  Jim Cooper, however, was only present at Tuesday night’s hearing in spirit, not in fact.
It is still a good idea for residents of Thurston County to email the County Commissioners here to let them know your opposition to another tax.  If you missed this hearing, this county is likely to have a few more on other equally troubling proposals before the year is out – come join us next time.  Meanwhile, don’t forget to vote in November.  The future ultimately belongs to those of us who show up.

Jim Cooper has terrible plans for Thurston County, but voters get to decide if they want to experience these plans
Jim Cooper has terrible plans for Thurston County, but voters get to decide if they want to experience these plans

_________________________________________________________________________

Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

For more background on Thurston County – read these articles:

Thurston County wants to force another illegal tax on rural residents

Thurston County backpedals from fireworks ban, fumbles through hearing

Thurston County celebrates Independence Day with Fireworks Ban

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

Thurston County discovers new cash cow in the “Crap Tax”

What Happened to the County Charter Movement?

Thurston County Invents $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore quits, will now plague the City of Yakima

Thurston County spends $8 million and 18 years to make a $4 million empty building worth $2 million

Thurston County spends $5k for a $3k computer, then loses 12 of them

Thurston County finds missing $60k computer inventory, uses 3 card monte excuse

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Recent elections in Thurston County shock the establishment

Thurston County Commissioners Deny the Reality of Math

Hunters fighting to stop Thurston County’s gun ordinance

A Plague of Consequences in Thurston County

Thurston County to Citizens:  Living here is a real gamble

Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is costing Taxpayers Millions

Thurston County Demonstrates How Not to Build a Jail

Tales of Tyranny – Bert Wasch Story – Thurston County denies his right to build a home for 5 years

Tales of Tyranny – Misti Chastain – Thurston County attempts to destroy her farm business

 

Union Protests Incompetent Thurston County Commissioner

Local County-level election results preview state-wide political trends

Local elections  during a Presidential election year are typically ignored by political commentators. However, they are often strong indicators of future political trends.  In Washington State, there are some interesting local primary election results that appear to demonstrate voter frustration with politics as usual.  Here is an analysis of a handful of these races around the state.  This article looks at Thurston, Douglas, Spokane, Clark, Pacific, and Grays Harbor counties.

Thurston County – changing of the old political guard

The primary results from earlier this month had few surprises to political observers, but they do reinforce the fact that significant changes are coming to local politics.  If the primary trends continue into the general election – it appears that the Thurston County Democrat party will no longer control the Thurston County Commission.  Interestingly enough, neither will the Republicans.  

Thurston County is paying a high price for Sandra Romero's happiness
Commissioner Sandra Romero is a good example of the old political order coming to an end.

The Thurston County Commission has often been dominated by establishment politicians – often former state legislators.  County Commissioner Cathy Wolfe is finishing up her last year as county commissioner – a position she has held since 2000, after serving eight years as a Democrat legislator from the 22nd Legislative district.  County Commissioner Sandra Romero is finishing up her last year – a position she has held since 2008, after serving twelve years as a Democrat legislator from the 22nd district as well.  Romero had originally been forced to resign from the state legislature after an embarrassing DUI conviction for driving the wrong way on I-5 and attempting to elude police in Olympia.  Before that Romero had served on the Olympia City Council and as a Granite Falls School Director.  

Commissioner Bud Blake is the only Thurston County Commissioner not on the ballot in 2016
Commissioner Bud Blake’s election in 2014 was a shock to the political establishment

In 2014, the political recipe for becoming an elected county commissioner in Thurston County was changed with the election of independent Bud Blake who defeated incumbent Karen Valenzuela in a surprising upset despite Valenzuela’s strong Democratic Party support.  Karen Valenzuela had been a former Tumwater City Council Member, and Commissioner Bud Blake had no prior elected experience.  Commissioner Bud Blake was also outspent, and his election still causes anxiety within the political establishment as they repeatedly analyze the 2014 District 3 commissioner election results.

This year’s primary results point towards the very likely outcome ofseeing former Thurston County Sheriff Gary Edwards becoming the next Thurston County Commissioner from District 2.  Edwards received almost 60% support in the primary election, and while the general election will cover the entire county rather than

Gary Edwards has supporters flocking to his events and donating money to his campaign
Gary Edwards has supporters flocking to his events and donating money to his campaign. Primary election results point towards a good day for his campaign in November.

just District 2, his support, volunteers, and fundraising efforts continue to grow.  Even with his opponent getting financial support from JZ Knight (aka “Ramtha,” a 35,000 year old Lemurian warrior who has travelled through space and time to control JZ Knight and ensure she supports the Thurston County Democrat party with large donations).  Edwards path to the commission seems likely.  He is running as an independent.

Jim Cooper doesn't always dress like a pirate, but when he does he carries a parrot
Jim Cooper doesn’t always dress like a pirate, but when he does he carries a parrot, and he is the best the Thurston County Democrats can offer voters this year (source: Jim Cooper’s facebook page)

In District 1, the Olympia political establishment has coronated Jim Cooper, current Olympia City Councilman to fill the last seat, but his path to power is not as clear as anticipated considering his anemic support in the primary.  Cooper will be facing off against independant John Hutchings, who squeaked out a second place finish in a 5-person crowded primary field.  This race will be bitter and aggressive, but if Hutchings wins in November this will be the first time in history when all three partisan positions are occupied by politically unaffiliated officials.  Political parties seem to be losing their value in Thurston County.

Douglas County – Incumbents have lost public support

Kyle Steinberg demonstrated strong numbers in the primary.
Kyle Steinberg demonstrated strong numbers in the primary.

In District 2, it looks like the incumbent Douglas County Commissioner, Dale Snyder is trailing the challenger Kyle Steinburg, which is a sign that local residents might be waking up to the strange and bizarre financial shenanigans of the incumbent commissioners.  We wrote about the problems with strange property sales, missing capital assets, and other strange happenings here, here, and here.  All the candidates who made it through the primary self-identify as Republicans, so these races are less about partisan preference than about the political leadership each candidate can offer.  The incumbents are falling short.   In District 1, the incumbent is not running, but his endorsed supporter, Pat Haley had 47% support in a 3-way run-off.

It is rare to see incumbents lose reelection in Douglas County, so these election results are more significant than they might appear at first.

Pacific County – Challengers are a sign of partisan changes and lack of trust in the establishment

Challenger Lisa Olsen led the incumbent after the primary election results in Pacific County
Challenger Lisa Olsen led the incumbent after the primary election results in Pacific County

Pacific County has been reliably supporting the Democratic Party politicians since the 1930s.  Culturally, the district is rural and appears to be fairly conservative.  It could be that the political winds are catching up with the political culture.  Incumbent Pacific County Commissioner Steven Rogers is trailing challenger candidate Lisa Olsen who is running as a Republican in this District 1 race.  In District 2, the political battle is between Democrats, challenger Fred Hill and incumbent Frank Wolfe but the challenger is only a few votes behind the incumbent.  

Faith Taylor-Eldred was rewarded for the abuse she inflicted on local residents as the chief Central Planner in Pacific County
Faith Taylor-Eldred was rewarded for the abuse she inflicted on local residents as the chief Central Planner in Pacific County

Among other scandals in this county, the long term abusive reign of Central Planner Faith Taylor-Eldred has created friction between local residents and the elected officials who are theoretically tasked with managing their staff.  This planner was exceptionally hostile and aggressive towards local businesses like Oysterville Sea Farms.  Meanwhile she openly violating environmental rules herself when she installed a pump in a salmon stream to irrigate her own yard.   The Pacific County Commissioners repeatedly turned a blind eye to staff infections like this in the bureaucracy.  However, with the recent welcome resignation of this planner, local residents are hopeful that a new direction is in the future.  

Grays Harbor – Trending independant and more conservative

All politics may be local.  In Grays Harbor County, they have been

Grays Harbor Commissioner Wes Cormier held of all challengers during the primary
Grays Harbor Commissioner Wes Cormier held of all challengers during the primary

largely dominated by the local Democrat Party machine.  Like neighbor Pacific County, this community has been reliably supportive of Democrat politicians, but culturally it has been rural and trending conservative.  In 2012, current commissioner Wes Cormier won an upset election as one of the first Republicans to hold a Commision seat.  His reelection seems likely this year as he soundly beat the combined vote totals of both Democrat challengers.  Additionally, the other Commissioner incumbent was Frank Gordon who had recruited one of Cormier’s challengers, but Gordon was soundly beat by “no party” candidate Randy Ross.  Ross won over 60% of the primary vote, which doesn’t bode well for Gordon’s reelection efforts.  Incumbent Commissioner Vickie Raines is also an unaffiliated independent.  Assuming Ross wins his race, it looks like Gray’s Harbor could be another county with a majority of elected officials who are formally unaffiliated with either the Democrat or Republican Party.  .

Spokane County – Insurgent challenger changes dynamics of county commission

Challenger Josh Kerns pulled off a significant political upset by unseating an incumbent in the primary
Challenger Josh Kerns pulled off a significant political upset by unseating an incumbent in the primary

The primary race for the District 1 Commissioner seat, Republican challenger Josh Kerns handily defeated incumbent Republican Nancy McLaughlin in a three way primary.  Kerns will be facing off against Democrat candidate Candace Mumm (current Spokane City Council Member)  in the most populous Commission County in Washington State in November.  Spokane County tends to elect Republicans as commissioners, so Kerns has the wind at his back in this political race.  However, defeated incumbent McLaughlin was strongly supported by the establishment political class.  Kerns will have to demonstrate the ability to attract her supporters in the general.  This outcome was not predicted by many of the local political observers.  It may appear to be intramural political confrontation from the outside, but Kerns is going to be one of the younger commissioners in recent Spokane County history.

Clark County – The winds of change have been stopped for now.  Reforms will be reversed.

David Madore will no longer be Clark County Councilor after 2016.
David Madore will no longer be Clark County Councilor after 2016.

In Clark County, Incumbent Councilor David Madore was soundly defeated in the primary.  As we discussed here, here, and here Clark County has some serious problems, and the total war on David Madore was impressive and unprecedented in Washington State.  The message sent by the political establishment of Clark County to any would-be government reformers is to shut-up, be quiet, and go away.  This bodes poorly for the future of the Clark County Council and, more importantly, the residents who live there.  After the hubbub of the 2016 elections die down, and David Madore goes back to being a private citizen, it looks like the bureaucracy and political establishment can settle back into the cozy, comfortable corruption that gave Clark County the C-TRAN fiasco, the Columbia River Crossing scam, plans to toll the bridges, and whatever schemes the central planners cook up next.   It appears that the internal purges of government staff is in full swing by the senior bureaucrats.  It should take a few years before this becomes obvious to everyone except the local newspaper editor.

The Columbian editor (in purple hat) will likely be the last to notice problems in Clark County
The Columbian editor (in purple hat) will likely be the last to notice problems in Clark County

Few observers expect David Madore to go quietly into the night with nary a whimper.  There is general curiosity about what he chooses to do next with his free time.  Madore is a reformer who has battled government abuse from the outside, experienced the challenges of reforming it from the inside, and who has the resources to do some good in the future.  He clearly made mistakes, but there is some suspicion that the Hate Madore crowd including the trinket-selling local paper – the Columbian will need to work overtime to justify and cover up the inevitable declines and scandals over the next few years.  

In conclusion, local politics are often impacted as much by the individual personalities and issues uniquely found there as they are by any partisan influence.  However, it is possible to extrapolate some trends from these and other local races around Washington State.  The shift in rural voting to more closely align the independent, rural cultural conservatism with more independent, conservative politicians is inevitable.  This trend is likely to push upwards into the state representative races as well.  This has been particularly pronounced in rural districts like the 2nd (Pierce/Thurston), the 35th (Mason/Thurston/Kitsap), the 31st (King/Pierce) and now the 19th (Cowlitz/Pacific/Grays Harbor/Wahkaikum/Lewis).  

Partisan lockstep politics is becoming less important than a focus by local candidates on the issues that actually matter to the people who live there.  Incumbents who fail to understand these facts will eventually lose their political positions regardless of their political affiliation.  As the Clark County example also illustrates, the establishment will fight back when their power is threatened by anyone who is different.  This year’s elections at the local level will be directly impactful to local residents, and it will influence the balance of power in the state legislature.  It is worth paying attention, even if you don’t live there.vote for change

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

Related articles for reference and background:

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Recent elections in Thurston County shock the establishment

How Bud Blake won in Thurston County

JZ Knight tirade videos submitted to politicians she supports

Freedom Foundation sued for exposing JZ Knight, politicians

Democrats take $50k gift from warrior spirit Ramtha, despite anti-Mexican slurs

Douglas County politicians hide capital assets, file phony inventory documents, call it good.

Douglas County Commissioners commit gross misdemeanors 

Government Watchdog Doubles Down on Douglas County – KPQ interview

Is it incompetence or corruption?  Douglas County continues to hide capital assets

The war on David Madore

The war on David Madore (video version)

Petitions to recall a majority of Clark County Councilmembers filed today

Clark County deputy prosecutor arrested, convicted, probation, donates to political campaign, continues to manage department

The Columbian creates a news void in Clark County

The Clark County Council desperately needs some adult supervision

City of Vancouver Mayor and Council forced to abandon 117% pay raise

The Clark County Charter – a quest for utopia or inevitable fiasco?

Despite charter vote, Clark County trends more conservative in 2014

Primary elections – 2016 Senate Surprises and Democrats Delight

Primary election results – unanticipated outcomes and major contrasts for November

Kitsap County ground zero as 2014 conservative success demonstrates

 

Thurston County wants to force another illegal tax on rural residents

Thurston County’s Commissioners have cultivated a well-deserved reputation for incompetence and hostility towards rural residents over the past half decade.  Now, a recently proposed vehicle licensing tax on rural residents may be illegal as well.

Thurston County is always tossing tax grenades at residents
Thurston County is always tossing tax grenades at residents

On Tuesday, the Thurston County Commissioners have proposed to have a hearing at 5:30pm to consider (and pass) a $20 per vehicle licensing “fee.”  Details on the hearing here.  You can email all three of them from this page.

This tax will only apply to residents in the unincorporated Thurston County area (the area outside the incorporated cities).  This tax is being proposed under a Transportation Benefit District taxing entity, which was created in late 2014 before Commissioner Bud Blake could take office in January (signed on December 30 and linked here).  The elected officials who represent this taxing district are the existing Thurston County Commissioners.  The problem with this tax proposal is the fact that none of the three county commissioners live in the district where the tax is to be proposed – which happens to be one of the factors which makes the proposed tax illegal.

In Thurston County it is all about the money – how to get more, and how to waste it quickly

Thurston County has a long history of burning taxpayer dollars
Thurston County has a long history of burning taxpayer dollars

The Thurston County Commissioners are no strangers to breaking the law, committing illegal acts, or just incompetently fumbling through political leadership.  Unfortunately, for the residents of Thurston County, the extensive history of political ineptitude is lengthy, impressive, and it would be embarrassing if bureaucracy had a conscience.  Here is just a sampling of the recent low-lights:

Former Commissioner Valenzuela left a lot of messes behind
Former Commissioner Valenzuela left a lot of messes behind

There are plenty more examples, but let’s get to tomorrow’s scandal today.  Next week’s proposed tax began in late 2014.  Democrat County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela lost her reelection attempt by a sizeable margin, and the county commissioners were desperately trying to cram through as many controversial ordinances as possible on the books before she left the county courthouse for good riddance.  Ordinance #15103 creating a Transportation Benefit District for only the unincorporated parts of Thurston County was signed December 30 by Commissioners Romero, Wolfe, and Valenzuela.  For a variety of legal and political reasons, this new taxing district did not include the cities of Tumwater, Lacey or Olympia.    While these actions were probably unethical, it appears it was legal to create the district.

Thurston County usually misses the mark, but that doesn't mean they won't take your money anyway
Thurston County usually misses the mark, but that doesn’t mean they won’t take your money anyway

The big bonus for the bureaucracy and the Thurston County Commissioners is it gives them an opportunity to collect more tax dollars.  It also allows them to grow the county’s debt even more by issuing general obligation bonds.  No other priority in Thurston County matters.  Getting more cash and increasing debt – only these are priorities.  To start, they want $20 for every registered car in rural Thurston County (there is an estimated annual tax collection goal of about $1.8 million over the next year – approximately 1/3 gets squandered on overhead costs).  This is what next Tuesday’s hearing is about.

Taxation without RepresentationNo Taxation without Representation

However, there is a problem.  New taxing districts require elected officials to manage them.  Right now, the Thurston County Commissioners are the elected officials responsible for this taxing district.  However, as the boundaries of this district are defined, none of them live in the district.  All three of the Thurston County Commissioners live within the cities – in very different transportation districts run by the cities of Olympia or Tumwater.  It is generally illegal in state law for elected officials who do not reside in the taxing district to impose taxes on those who do live there.  This is why we have elected officials responsible for the local taxes imposed by local taxing districts like Fire Districts, School Districts, Parks Districts, Airport Districts, etc.  More specific references can be found for public facilities districts in counties (RCW 35.57.010 (3)(c)) and for rural dike districts (RCW 85.38.070 (3) and (6)).

Any way you spell it, Thurston County wants it
Any way you spell it, Thurston County wants it

Another challenge is that under Washington State law (RCW 42.12.010 (4)), Commissioners of Special Purpose Taxing Districts would probably be required to vacate their seat from that district (Transportation Benefit District, not the County Commission) if they no longer live in that district (as is the case with all three county commissioners).  This is a logical, rational law because of the obvious problem caused by taxation without representation.

Furthermore, if Thurston County is receiving legal advice from in-house counsel on this issue and counsel is advising they proceed, this would be pretty solid grounds for a bar complaint against those attorneys because the statute, and the organizing documents of the Thurston County Transportation Benefit District require outside, independent counsel  (Section 5.06) due to obvious conflict of interest issues.  At this point, there is no evidence that the Thurston County Transportation Benefit District has been provided legal advice by outside legal counsel.

They won't have to pay this tax because they don't live in the district
They won’t have to pay this tax because they don’t live in the district

It is always easy for elected officials to find excuses to raise taxes.  It is particularly easy for them to invent justifications for taxes on other people (this is why we saw so many residents of Olympia – like Jim Cooper – are cheerleading for the pocket gopher tax scam – it won’t affect them).  For example, since none of the commissioners would have to pay this tax themselves, they have nothing personally to lose by imposing the tax on other people who will have to pay this tax.  This is particularly awesome political payback for Commissioners Romero and Wolfe since they can use this tax as a way to punish the rural residents of Thurston County who have not typically voted for them in the past.  Jim Cooper's Creek

Jim Cooper’s illegal  tax influence

Beyond the fact that Thurston County has been a poor steward of the money they take from people, this tax is just another symptom of excessive efforts to impose any tax by any means necessary by Thurston County elected officials.  No other example impressively illustrated this capricious tax expansion campaign as Jim Cooper’s strong cheerleading for an illegal local income tax in the city of Olympia.  His proposal was so extreme that it divided the City of Olympia Council which is often in supportive lockstep on any tax increase.  Even the tax cheerleaders at the Olympian, a rapidly shrinking local newspaper and blog site, recognizes this local punishing income tax is a foolish enterprise.

Jim Cooper doesn't always dress like a pirate, but when he does he carries a parrot
Jim Cooper doesn’t always dress like a pirate, but when he does he carries a parrot, and he wants you to pay more taxes (Source: Jim Cooper’s Facebook Page)

However, there are reports from various sources that Jim Cooper is lobbying the Thurston County Commissioners to pass this latest illegal car tab tax before he is elected in November.  The presumption among local Democrat party operatives is that Jim Cooper will be “coronated” in November, although the recent primary results did not reflect strong support.  If voters want the Max Tax plan, however, Jim Cooper will be the best choice on the Commissioner District 1 ballot in November.  He is sure to push for every possible harmful tax he can find and force it on the residents of Thurston County – legal or not.

What can you do?

If you live in Thurston County, you do have a voice in this process, if you choose to exercise it.  Come join others who actually care about our community, the law, and what our fumbling elected officials are doing at the public hearing Tuesday, at the Thurston County courthouse at 5:30pm.  Everyone who wants gets three minutes to speak your mind directly to the lame duck commissioners as well as Commissioner Blake.  Additionally, it is always worth putting your comments in writing to the Commissioners via email directly here, and to the staff preparing this hearing here.  Please come to the hearing with your cameras, signs, and plan to have fun.  Our elected officials deserve to be confronted.  If not us, who will do it?  We only find ourselves in this place because we haven’t done this enough in the past.  Besides, who says it can’t be fun…

Here are the details on the hearing itself

Or email all three commissioners from this page.

Get Rowdy and Go

_________________________________________________________________________

Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

Specific articles or documents referenced in this article:

Transportation Benefit District Ordinance #15103

Thurston County Transportation Benefit District Charter

For more background on Thurston County – read these articles:

Thurston County backpedals from fireworks ban, fumbles through hearing

Thurston County celebrates Independence Day with Fireworks Ban

The Truth about Jim Cooper

Five candidates battle for Thurston Commissioner Seat, but who are they?

Thurston County Auditor bends rules to help Allen Miller (and Jim Cooper)

Thurston County discovers new cash cow in the “Crap Tax”

What Happened to the County Charter Movement?

Thurston County Invents $42,000 pocket gopher tax for new homeowners

Thurston County Manager Cliff Moore quits, will now plague the City of Yakima

Thurston County spends $8 million and 18 years to make a $4 million empty building worth $2 million

Thurston County spends $5k for a $3k computer, then loses 12 of them

Thurston County finds missing $60k computer inventory, uses 3 card monte excuse

Thurston County punishes rural serfs again

Sandra Romero – the $200 million Commissioner

Recent elections in Thurston County shock the establishment

Thurston County Commissioners Deny the Reality of Math

Hunters fighting to stop Thurston County’s gun ordinance

A Plague of Consequences in Thurston County

Thurston County Bag Ban – Paper or Plastic?

Stifling Human Ingenuity

Thurston County to Citizens:  Living here is a real gamble

Childish Political Leadership in Thurston County is costing Taxpayers Millions

Thurston County Demonstrates How Not to Build a Jail

Tales of Tyranny – Bert Wasch Story – Thurston County denies his right to build a home for 5 years

Tales of Tyranny – Misti Chastain – Thurston County attempts to destroy her farm business

Tales of Tyranny – Jay Howell – Thurston County costs family thousands of dollars and takes most of the use of their property for a gopher

Tales of Tyranny – Chris Weaver – Thurston County makes him a criminal for hurting a gopher

Union Protests Incompetent Thurston County Commissioner

Primary Elections 2016 – Senate Surprises and Democrats Delight

Over the last few years, the recent election trends in Washington State have gradually been favoring a Republican majority continuing in the Senate.  They also appeared to favor Republicans to pick up a few more seats in the state house, as they have done every election year since 2006.  However, the primary results were surprisingly disappointing to Republican observers, and the Democrats are delighted.

Recently, we covered a few statewide primary election results from Washington State.  With Washington State’s balance of power in both the State Senate (slight Republican edge) and the State House (slight Democrat majority), most political eyes are on a variety of state legislative district races which could shift the balance.  As always, with the continuing trickle of mail in ballots, some close results are unresolved.  Despite this required warning, there are some results worth reviewing.

There are 49 state legislative districts.  Each district sends two representatives and one senator to Olympia for the legislative session.  Representatives must run for office every two years.  State Senators run every four.  Roughly half of the state’s senators are up for election each year.  This article only covers a few of the more interesting races from Tuesday’s primary results.

5th Legislative District – leaning Republican, but Republicans are biting their nails

The 5th legislative district (Northeast King County Issaquah) has been considered a swing district with the advantage trending slightly towards the Republicans.  However, the Democrats have tended to field candidates with a moderate patina at times, and this has ensured some very competitive and costly races.  The Democrats also have a history of some slimy, but effective political chicanery  in this district with the now legendary bribe of Maple Valley resident and former Republican State Senator Cheryl Pflug (pronounced “Flug You”) with a late position on the Growth Management Hearings Board ($100k + per year including benefits) in 2012 at the last minute.  She was able to drop out of the race without the Republicans having any warning or enough time to prepare someone else to run.  This was the perfect opening for current incumbent Democrat Mark Mullet to win the seat, and it seemed to buy the Democrats another few years of State Senate control, until a few Democrats started caucusing with the Republicans.  (see relevant stories linked at the end of this article).

After taking the bribe for the Growth Managment Hearings Board and effectively handing the 5th Legislative Seat to the Democrats, four years later the legacy of Pflug continues
After taking the 2012 bribe for appointment to the Growth Management Hearings Board and effectively handing the 5th Legislative Seat to the Democrats, four years later the legacy of Pflug continues into the 2016 election season

While this may be business as usual in Olympia, and the Republican Party squawked a bit at the time, the evident moral of the story appears to be that bribery can be effective when judiciously applied.  It might be corrupt and dishonest, but in Washington State it is perfectly legal.  Pure political awesomesauce.

Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-5
Republican Rep. Chad Magendanz, R-5

 

Four years have passed, and incumbent Mark Mullet is facing a very  capable challenger in Chad Magendanz (think Hagendaz ice cream for both pronunciation, and the campaign sign font).  Tuesdays results make nobody happy because the race is extremely close, a near tie at this point, leaning Democratic.  This isn’t a strong position for an incumbent, but Chad Magendanz has won the state legislative seat in this district several times now.  It is certain he was hoping for a more decisive result, particularly considering the fact he outspent the incumbent (although in hard dollars – Mullet spent the most this round).

Democrat 5th District State Senator Marc Mullet
Democrat 5th District State Senator Mark Mullet

Beyond Mark Mullet’s sordid start with state-level political office, he works hard to not offend anyone.  He pretty much always goes with the Democratic flow in Olympia, he rides the current and tries to stay out of sight.  On rare occasions, when it is safe, he is allowed to stray slightly from the orthodoxy of the Democratic Party line.  This makes him a “moderate Democrat” in the state capital today, and while it is thin gruel, challenger Chad Magendanz must run a near perfect campaign to take out the incumbent.  

Chad is a very capable candidate, good fundraiser, a military veteran, a Microsoft employee, and someone unafraid of challenging the status quo.  Expect this race to blow through lots of money, thrive on independent expenditures, and if Magendanz manages to give Mullet a real haircut – the Republicans could pick up another seat, but after Tuesday, indications are that it will be a closely fought battle.

In the same district a state house seat is in play after being vacated by Magendanz’s race for the Senate.  Tuesday’s results support the prediction that this will also be a serious battle as Republican Paul Graves also looks evenly matched against a very formidable, but extreme Democratic candidate – Darcy Burner.   The Seattle Times stated Burner’s “…hyper partisan views do not fit the district’s centrist politics.”  The Republicans need to retain this seat, and the Democrats would love to capture it.  Another expensive battle in this district with real impacts on who controls the legislative agenda next year in Olympia.

Paul Graves is in good position to become the next legislator in the 5th district, but it wont be all puppy love this campaign
Paul Graves is in good position to become the next legislator in the 5th district, but it wont be all puppy love this campaign
Democrat Darcy Burner has been labeled as too "hyper partisan" for this district by the Seattle Times
Democrat Darcy Burner has been labeled as too “hyper partisan” for this district by the Seattle Times

 

31st Legislative District – Fortune smiles on Fortunato 

Phil Forunato is likely to become the next Republican State legislator from the 31st District (Auburn).  This was another swing district, and assuming Fortunato carries through for the official win in November, it will also be a Republican pickup as the seat had been occupied by Democrat Chris Hurst until he decided not to run again this year.  This should come as no surprise to any serious political observer since Fortunato came very close to unseating Chris Hurst two years ago despite being outspent 15 to one.  Fortunato is also a ferocious and innovative campaigner.

Fortune smiled on Phil Fortunato as he crushed all challengers in the primary - resulting in one sure pickup for the Republicans in the state legislature
Fortune smiled on Phil Fortunato as he crushed all challengers in the primary – resulting in one sure pickup for the Republicans in the state legislature

Phil Fortunato is no stranger to Olympia, and this won’t be his first State Capital rodeo.  He was a former legislator representing the 47th Legislative District for a term in the late 90s.  With such an impressive performance in 2014 against a Democrat incumbent, it was inexplicable that many establishment Republicans decided to engage against Fortunato in the primary by backing (at different times) one and then another Republican challenger – both of whom didn’t even come close to Fortunato’s final vote count.  Even with three Republicans in the race, Phil Fortunato’s numbers were higher than the sacrificial Democrat candidate Lane Walthers.  The Republican establishment will need to reach out and repair this relationship since it looks like they are going to be working with Fortunato for quite some time after November.  The 31st District has become more Republican over the years, and the election this year just confirms the trend.

30th Legislative District –  Republican white knuckles, serious battles

Rep. Teri Hickel won decisively in the 2015 special election, but is locked in a close, serious political battle in 2016
Rep. Teri Hickel won decisively in the 2015 special election, but is locked in a close, serious political battle in 2016

The 30th Legislative District (Federal Way) has been a source for good news to the Republican Party the last few election cycles.  A formerly swing district has trended Republican.  First, there was the election of Republican Linda Kochmar (former Federal Way Mayor) to the legislature in 2012 and reelected in 2014 to prove this was not a fluke.  Then,  the election of Teri Hickel during a special election in 2015 which was a massive political street brawl that pitted the worst the Democrat Party had to offer – a former Washington Education Association (WEA) union boss named Carol Gregory against Hickel.  This was an off year election because the former Democrat State Legislator for that seat – Roger Freeman was elected after he died during the campaign.  This meant that Gregory was appointed by the Democrats to fill this seat until the next November election cycle (last year), when she was forced to vacate the seat by the voters of the district.

To cap off this Republican progress in this district, the State Senator from this district was Mark Miloscia (current front runner for state Auditor), a former Democrat who switched parties and won election to the 30th State Senate seat in 2014 by a wide margin.  The future has seemed bright for the Republican Party in this district.  However, based on Tuesday’s primary numbers, there are storm clouds over Federal Way.

Rep. Linda Kochmar is in a closer than anticipated race this year
Rep. Linda Kochmar is in a closer than anticipated race this year

Both Kochmar and Hickel had less than stellar results in the recent primary – essentially tied with their challengers. This had to create some whiplash and a recalculation of where the House Republican Organizational Committee (HROC) funds are going to be spent.  Just like the last two cycles, a ton of political dollars are going to drop in Federal Way this fall and both parties are going to be spending large here.

28th Legislative District – Wagemann vs. Kilduff redux

The 2016 general ballot for Position 2 in the 28th District (Southwest Pierce County) state representative’s seat will look just like the 2014 ballot options.  Paul Wagemann spent less than $4,000 to ensure a place on the general ballot against Democrat incumbent Christine Kilduff (who spent $70,000 just to stay relevant).  In 2014, Wagemann lost the race by a handful of votes, barely denying the Republicans a tie in the state house.  Fortunately for the Republicans, this district has been trending more Republican over the past few election cycles with both Republican Senator O’Ban and Republican Representative Dick Muri coming ahead in their respective primary races on Tuesday.  Democrat freshman incumbent Christine Kilduff appears weak based on her primary performance.  

Paul Wagemann is facing off once again against Christine Kilduff for the legislative seat in the 28th district
Paul Wagemann is facing off once again against Christine Kilduff for the legislative seat in the 28th district. A contest he lost by only a few hundred votes two years ago.

However, unfortunately for the Republicans, this is another district where intramural party political squabbles seem likely to sabotage their professed desire to a legislative majority.  Bad blood and personality conflicts between the Republican establishment and candidate Paul Wagemann seems likely to continue the party suicide.  The last two election cycles the Republican establishment has chosen to pick sides in this race during the primary – always supporting a candidate against Wagemann.  In 2014, they even promoted negative attack ads intramurally, which probably didn’t help Wagemann in that very narrow loss in 2014.  Once again, this year, the establishment Republicans chose to ignore Wagemann in the primary, outspend him, and promote a less well known candidate.  Now they appear mystified when their chosen candidate doesn’t even get close – no matter how much money or support they get from the party.

Rep. Christine Kilduff should be sending thank-you cards and donations to the Republicans whose internal personality conflicts are helping her stay in Olympia
Rep. Christine Kilduff should be sending thank-you cards and donations to the Republicans whose internal personality conflicts are helping her stay in Olympia

Paul Wagemann has been successfully elected to the Clover Park School Board twice in this district and was recently elected to the Pierce County Charter Review Commission.  Paul Wagemann is no lazy political campaigner.  He has personally doorbelled this district more than any other candidate in recent times.  He is a veteran and engaged in the community.  People there know him, and the recent results bear this out – again.  It would seem prudent that both sides bury the proverbial hatchet and find a way to constructively work towards a majority in the legislature, including this seat.  This might be utopian thinking, but it is rational assuming the Republicans actually want a majority.  

Fortunately for the Democratic Party slim majority, Republicans often act like they don’t want a majority and are frequently irrational when it comes to internal bickering and backstabbing, so barring a major kumbaya moment, Christine Kilduff is likely to limp across the finish line in November winning by default as the Republicans strive to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory in this district – again.

17th District – Senate Surprise and Democrat Delight

When Senator Don Benton announced that he would not seek reelection to this seat in the 17th District (Clark County, Vancouver suburbs) , there were no illusions in either the Democratic Party or the Republican Party that this Senate seat was up for grabs.  Senator Benton won a real squeaker of a race and his victory was only attained by the narrowest of margins, over the same Democrat, Tim Probst, who is running again this year. 

Tim Probst is back again running for the 17th district Senate Seat
Tim Probst is back again running for the 17th district Senate Seat

However, there was a lot of excitement from Republican insiders about state legislator  Lynda Wilson stepping up to run for this open Senate seat.  She had already proved her mettle in a brutal 2014 election where she defeated a strong incumbent despite massive expenditures against her by government union special interests and others. Over $1 million was spent on this race in 2014 – much higher than normal for a state legislative seat.  She has been effective in Olympia, and she came to political office directly through the grass roots.  She is very popular, and she is a great fundraiser.  Her opponent  Tim Probst is a typical long-time politician and government employee who has made a lifetime career out of collecting government paychecks.  

Lynda Wilson has weathered serious attacks two years ago when elected to the legislature. This year's political battle for the senate seat will be epic as well.
Lynda Wilson has weathered serious attacks two years ago when elected to the legislature. This year’s political battle for the senate seat will be epic as well.

Based on Tuesday’s election results, with a few hundred votes separating them,  the scales tip towards Wilson.  However, this is anyone’s race in November.  The Democrat Party has been eyeing this seat as a possible pickup in the state senate for many years.  As an open seat it is very attractive.  Nobody expected this would be a political cakewalk without a serious contest, but most political observers give Wilson the edge.  As concerning as this race might be to the Republicans, at least both sides were prepared to fight.  It still appears that Wilson should be able to retain this seat for the Republicans, but with these primary results to encourage the Democrats, they are likely to dump much more resources into the fight.  Another local challenge to Wilson’s campaign is the poisonous divisions in the local Republican Party which show no signs of improving.

Other legislative races around the state worth watching

Senator Bailey had a closer than expected primary challenge Tuesday.
Senator Bailey had a closer than expected primary challenge Tuesday.

In the 10th Legislative District (Island County), incumbent Republican Senator Barbara Bailey had a fright on Tuesday with a closer than expected challenge from two Democrat opponents.  While she still managed to keep her head above the 50% waterline, it is likely the Republican Party will need to toss some life rings of cash and active campaigning in that district to be certain.  This probably wasn’t on anyone’s campaign plans for 2016 until after Tuesday’s results.

James Walsh is the best shot the Republicans have had in decades to pick up a seat in the 19th district.
James Walsh is the best shot the Republicans have had in decades to pick up a seat in the 19th district.

In the 19th Legislative District (Southwest Washington), James Walsh had a good showing coming out of a very divided primary for Position 1 in the state legislature. This is one of the last rural districts still controlled by the Democratic Party in Washington State, and while a Republican hasn’t held a state office here since long before World War II, the winds of change seem to be blowing.   At this point, it isn’t clear which Democrat he will be facing in November –  incumbent and Legislative Aide Democrat JD Rossetti, and local Democrat activist Teresa Purcell.   Walsh bounced another Republican in the primary on Tuesday.  Despite the opportunity for picking up a seat in this legislative district, the Republican establishment has appeared lethargic and hesitant to move aggressively.  The Democrats, while divided and struggling to remain relevant in this district have benefitted from historical inertia and the fact that the other legislative seat is held by Democrat Brian Blake, probably the most conservative Democrat legislator left in the state.  

Sen. Steve Litzow is having a struggle reaching 50%, and he is a major target, once again by Democrats hoping to capitalize on his weakness
Sen. Steve Litzow is having a struggle reaching 50%, and he is a major target, once again by Democrats hoping to capitalize on his perceived electoral weakness

In the 41st District (Mercer Island, Bellevue) incumbent Republican Steve Litzow had a challenging primary night as well.  When an incumbent can’t capture more than 50% of the primary numbers, it is an invitation for challengers to attack aggressively.  While Litzow is used to being under attack, considering this is a Democrat leaning district, it was still disappointing to the Republicans to see this result.  While Litzow has been fiscally responsible most of his time in office, his open hostility towards social conservatives is probably not strengthening his campaign.  Democrats can attack social conservatives without much political repercussion, but the same type of behavior can cause real problems for Republicans on the bubble.  It is unclear what percentage of the electorate in this district would classify themselves this way, however, a high percentage of activists do.  These folk are directing their energies at helping other candidates.  

In summary, the Republicans are on unexpectedly shaky ground in the State Senate.  They will need to do everything right and have a great election night in November to retain control.  The Republicans in the house probably have less to lose, but the Democrat House Speaker Frank Chopp is probably less concerned about losing his gavel next year, barring a total Democratic Scandal of  epic proportions or the Republicans deciding they really do want the majority and cease their infighting.  Despite a corrupt Presidential candidate, an epicly uninspiring and incompetent State Governor candidate, the Washington State Democrats should be delighted.

More articles about the primary results soon…

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

More articles for background and additional reference:

Washington State Secretary of State – Election Results 2016 Primary (live)

Primary election results – unanticipated outcomes and major contrasts for November

Former AS President runs for state house seat (Paul Graves)

Valley Men Contending for House Seat (5th Leg)

Seattle Times endorses Matt Larson for 5th Leg seat (he didn’t make it out of the primary)

Gregoire appoints Sen. Cheryl Pflug to $92,500 per year job

Growth Management Hearings Board Member Cheryl Pflug still unable to practice law, sought to keep details from governor’s office

Democratic Candidate David Spring releases more evidence that Governor Christine Gregoire bribed Senator Cheryl Pflug

“Pflug” becomes profanity after endorsing Democrat, criticising Dino Rossi

Plug exit stirs anger, consternation – could determine control of the senate

New Swing District Senator has ’em guessing 

Darcy Burner lied about college degree

Former lawmaker from Auburn will try again for House

State Rep Chris Hurst Won’t seek Re-election

Republican Teri Hickel leading  Democrat Carol Gregory in state house race in  Federal Way

Republican Teri Hickel wins important primary in 30th leg district

Rep Roger Freeman dies at Federal Way Hospital

Deceased Washington legislator headed for re-election

 

Primary Election Results – unanticipated outcomes, and major contrasts for November

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Be careful where you drop off your ballot

Washington State’s primary election results from Tuesday night narrowed down some political races around the state.  However, the drawn out process of updated counts over the next few weeks with the trickle-in mail-in ballot program means that any reports on the final results will need to be corrected.  Despite that caveat, clear outcomes are worth discussing.  In addition to the local races, here are some statewide races worth reviewing:

Lieutenant Governor Race – a massive field shrinks

Unless some very dramatic changes occur in the mail in ballots or King County discovers a few more random bags of secret ballots, it looks like the November Lieutenant Governor run-off is going to be between Republican Marty McClendon and Democrat Cyrus Habib.  This was a fascinating race because it included 11 challengers vying in a “jungle” primary (Top two proceed to the general).  These 11 challengers included four Republicans, four Democrats, one Libertarian, and two random unaffiliated candidates.  Now there will be two.

PDC - Lietenant Gov Overviews
The Public Disclosure Commission clearly reports that money could buy the first position for the Democratic Party’s candidate, it seemed unimportant for the Republican Party’s choice.
Cyrus_Habib_2014
Cyrus Habib outspent all challengers in his quest to be the Democratic choice for the Lieutenant Governor race

They were all trying to win a statewide political office that few people even know exists, let alone understand the job description.  (Go here to read more).  This race was interesting because money really did have an impact on the outcome for the Democratic Party choice, and was almost irrelevant to the Republican Party choice.  If you go to the Public Disclosure Commission for this race (here), you can see the disclosed money spent by the candidates and others in this race.  Cyrus Habib was the top spender with over $600,000 spent.  Close behind him were Steve Hobbs ($575,000 spent including independent expenditures spent by business lobbying groups on his behalf), and Karen Fraser, not far behind just shy of $240,000.  In the Republican cohort, only Philip Yin broke into six-figure territory spending just over $135,000.  However, the eventual Republican winner spent a paltry $25,000, which was third place for Republican expenditures in this race.  McClendon was actually in sixth place overall for expenditures and, as of now – in first place for votes received.  

Marty M
Marty McClendon captured the most votes in the primary, but was outspent by five other challengers.

Another interesting aspect to this race was the significant cross party attraction that losing candidate Hobbs was able to receive in his race.  Republican Senator Curtis King from Yakima had actually hosted a fundraiser for Democratic Candidate Steven Hobbs earlier in the year.  This generated some local controversy since there were four Republicans in the race whom he ignored.  State Senator Curtis King has a Republican challenger Amanda Richards this fall.  Additionally, Hobbs received substantial outside independent expenditures spent on his behalf during the primary by the realtors and other business interests.  Cyris Habib, however, spent even more money and was able to make the general by appealing to his Seattle base of support and running to the left.

This will be a race between a well funded Democratic Party leader from Seattle, and an underfunded Republican born in Eastern Washington.  The race between McClendon and Habib for Lieutenant Governor will be one to watch this November.  

Guaranteed a Republican State Treasurer next year, but who will it be?

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Michael Waite was one of the two Republicans voters get to choose from for their next State Treasurer

One anticipated outcome of Washington State’s top two “jungle” primary system was the potential for two candidates from the same party to proceed to the general election.  This has happened many times in districts that lean strongly Republican or Democrat at a local level.  However, history is being made in Washington State’s Treasurer’s race as two Republicans, Michael Waite from Seattle and Duane Davidson from Benton County will face off in the fall.  Two Republicans have never faced each other in a statewide general race in Washington State before.  This result was partly an outcome of the Democrat’s fracturing their votes among three closely matched candidates who fought very hard to split the Democrat votes.  It seems likely the Democratic Party will be a bit more disciplined and try to prevent this from happening again in the future

Duane Davidson
Duane Davidson, the Benton County Treasurer since 2003 will be the other Republican choice for Washington State Treasurer in 2016

Washington State Secretary of State Kim Wyman is the only Republican holding a statewide office on the west coast today, and assuming she wins reelection, it looks like she won’t be so lonely in Olympia anymore.  No matter who wins the Treasurer’s race in November, it will be a Republican joining her there.  While the two candidates may share the same party affiliation, their backgrounds are quite different.  

Duane Davidson is a Washington native, originally born in Carnation.  He has been in elected office as the Benton County Treasurer since 2003.  Micheal Waite is an American citizen who originally immigrated from Australia and has been in the private sector managing large private investment funds living mostly in the Seattle area.  Few would have predicted these would be the two names on the ballot for State Treasurer in November.  

Public Lands Commissioner – forest management vs. management for maximum combustion

In politics, as voters we are often faced with choices between politicians with nothing to differentiate the choices.  Tweedle-dee or Tweedle-dum.  Will it even matter?

However, in the Public Lands Commissioner race, the final two candidates facing off will be Republican Steve Mclaughlin and Democrat Hilary Franz (Futurewise).  This was another crowded field that was winnowed by the primary results.  Steve McLaughlin was predicted to come through the primary as the only Republican in the race, and the real primary battle was between the five Democrats in the race.  Hilary Franz is a recently resigned executive director of Futurewise, an extremist organization that has existed to inflict maximum harm on the rural and suburban residents of Washington State since the organization’s creation.  She represents a philosophy of managing forests for maximum combustion.  

RePower Bainbridge campaign image
Hilary Franz does have plans for public lands in Washington State

In order for Hilary Franz to prevail in the primary against a crowded field, she had to crush the previous Futurewise darling, Karen Porterfield, who had been in the race since February.  Additionally, Hilary had to beat Dave Upthegrove, who was a former state legislator from the 33rd District.  He had recently been elected to the King County Council.  For some reason, Upthegrove decided to avoid most of the candidate debates and seemed to be throwing a hail-mary pass for this job.  Despite his last name, it wasn’t clear what he knew about forestry or public land management.  Mary Verner from Spokane was the more reasonable and knowledgeable sounding of the Democratic candidates for this position.  Mary was a former City of Spokane Mayor and actually had some education in forestry but despite the support she had from tribes, was not able to break out of the Democratic wolfpack.  Rounding out the field were Libertarian Steven Nielson from Pierce County who almost received a respectable 5%, and Democrat John Stillings who was a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics as a coxswain for the American four man rowing team.  

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Steve McLaughlin seems focused on managing public lands for the benefit of all.

Hilary Franz will get a lot of Seattle extremist money to back her campaign.  The war on the rural areas of Washington has been led by Hilary in her position at Futurewise (known as “Future Lies” to rural residents and property owners of Washington State), and she is likely to continue this war from the office of Public Lands Commissioner.  Steve Mclaughlin actually spent his time delivering relief supplies and helping respond to the recent fires in Eastern Washington.  Hilary wrote about Global Warming and fundraised for more extremist rules.  Steve Mclaughlin has managed forests before and lives in one today.  While Hilary lives on Bainbridge Island, she wants everyone else to live  in a concrete jungle preferably high-rise apartments in Seattle.  She is certain she knows what is best for rural forestry.  

Proper forest management versus management for maximum combustion.  The contrast in goals, objectives, and philosophy is stark in this race.  We are fortunate to have clear contrasts in our political options.

Why couldn’t the Republicans field a decent option in the Attorney General’s race?

Bob Ferguson looks ready to sail to an easy victory  for Attorney General in November.  With the Republicans unable to even field a candidate for this office, it was up to the Libertarian Party to do the heavy lifting, and their candidate was unable to break 30% in the primary.  This bodes poorly for him in November, and it means that the poor job Ferguson has been doing in the past gets to continue into the future.  

preferred Bob Ferguson Head Shot
Incumbent Attorney General Bob Ferguson gets close to a free ride

It isn’t fun or easy to run a real campaign for statewide office.  It is difficult to recruit serious people who will take the time and expend the energy to run for these positions.  This is particularly true for the down ticket statewide races like AG where a capable campaigner incumbent resides.  However, if a party is going to be serious, there should be some effort to recruit people for these positions.  Failing to even provide options for the voters is worse than nothing.  It is nothing.

Governor – the inevitable two face off – Inslee fumbles toward November

It comes as no surprise that incumbent Democrat Governor Jay Inslee and Republican challenger Bill Bryant will be facing off in November.  It is certain that Bryant would have liked to see stronger numbers in the primary, but the fact that Inslee couldn’t break 50% as an incumbent at this stage is not exactly a sign of dominating

Snapshot
Inslee never takes his own advice

political strength.  As the Inslee administration careens from one incompetent scandal to the next in a listless effort to get past November, it is likely that Democrat King County Executive Dow Constantine is regretting not putting his hat in the ring this year.

Tomorrow, we will review some interesting state legislative races and also review some local race results from around Washington State.

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Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

More articles for background and additional reference:

Seven Vie for Public Lands Boss (the Lens)

Local Republican Senator holding fundraiser for a Democrat

Richards for State Senate (LTE about Curtis King)

Democrats Crowd Race for Public Lands Commissioner

The Most Diverse Race in State History is for… Lieutenant Governor?

Lieutenant Governor race gets bloody

The Seattle Times recommends Steve Hobbs for Lieutenant Governor

The War on David Madore (the Video Version)

This is the video version of the article recently written here.  There is more information in the article along with additional links.  However, we wanted to try a video version of the article to see how it turned out.  Feel free to leave your comments.  Share if you like it.  Critique if you don’t.  Post negative attack comments if it makes you feel better.

We are hoping to produce videos on various issues around Washington State just like this one from Clark County, but we are just experimenting right now to see how the process works.

The War on David Madore

We expect and encourage hard-hitting exposure of political figures, and I rarely spend any time defending incumbent politicians.  However, at what point does political opposition to a politician leave the sphere of normal rough and tumble politics and turn into a fetish-like obsession detached from objective reality?  When does it become political warfare instead of political opposition?  The answer to these questions may depend on your perspective.  However, in Clark County, Washington State, a jihad of political attacks targeting one local county councilman presents a good case study of surreal, aggressive political warfare detached from reality and disproportionate to the actual political disputes.

David Madore, the target of an impressive hate jihad in Clark County
David Madore, the target of an impressive hate jihad in Clark County

Clark County Councilman David Madore has been the recipient of an impressive amount of hate, attacks, and coordinated political assaults over the past year.  He might choose to ignore these attacks.  However, the scale, variety, and obsession of these attacks directed at him deserve wider recognition and scrutiny.  Let’s start by looking at Councilman David Madore and the context of the political scene in which he exists.

Who is David Madore?

US Digital headquarters, Clark County, Washington
US Digital headquarters, Clark County, Washington

David Madore is the founder and owner of US Digital, a high-tech manufacturing company located near Vancouver, Washington.  This company currently employs about 125 people in true living wage, value-added jobs.  By all accounts this has been a successful and growing business in Clark County.  Most politicians give lip service towards attracting businesses like this to their communities.  In fact, both the Democratic Party and the Republican Party claim they want to encourage successful local business owners to be involved in politics because their experience is beneficial in government.  At least, this is what the political class will typically say.  (In 2015, I produced a video about this here)

US Digital Outreach supports 40 local charities in the community
US Digital Outreach supports 40 local charities in the community

Additionally, David Madore is a very generous supporter of many local charities in his community.  This is one of Madore’s more impressive contributions to the community.  He doesn’t just claim to support charity, but he puts his assets and money to work actively supporting many charities.  His US Digital Outreach program is one of the more innovative and efficient ways of supporting local charities that anyone has ever developed in Washington State.  At this time, there are over 40 local charities who exist wholly or in part because David Madore donates the free office space, logistical support, and other services to ensure they can spend their time and money on providing their services to the most needy rather than spend their money on overhead and additional fundraising.  Anyone who understands the non-profit world knows how critical and practical this type of generous support is for small and start-up charities.  (In 2015, I produced a video about this here)No Tolls

Finally, despite being a successful businessman and a strong
supporter of local charity, Madore decided to engage in local civic issues that mattered to him.  Specifically, he led the opposition to proposed tolls on local bridges and the epic boondoggle of the Columbia River Crossing (CRC) mega-project and its unworkable  light rail tax scheme.  It was his opposition to these projects that created the environment where I first met David Madore in 2011.  It seemed a quixotic and herculean effort to oppose the $3.5 billion mega-project called the CRC.  Forget about the David vs. Goliath story.  This was more like the David ant versus the CRC bulldozer.  No CRC

Despite the entrenched special interests, a compromised local paper, and the massive sums of public money used to support the CRC project ($220 million wasted), Madore was willing to expose the problems, stand up to the special interests, and fight the power.  In cooperation with a growing opposition including local state legislators and local volunteers, David led the charge to help defeat this mega-project.  He was not alone in this effort, but few claim his involvement didn’t make a huge difference in the final outcome.  Shortly after this, he decided to run for a seat on the Clark County Commission and defeated incumbent Marc Boldt in the election of 2012.  

In early 2015, I produced a three video series to tell David’s story.  In addition to the videos referenced above, this one was produced to tell the story of David’s civic engagement.  The purpose of these
three videos was to encourage other business leaders and
engaged activists that they could make a difference.  It  really was possible to change the course of local politics, even if the special

Snapshot(9)
David Madore’s story of successful businessman stopping corrupt Mega Project and running for office has inspired many

interests seemed overwhelming and corrupted.  I had been training citizens to run for local office and become more engaged civically since 2010, so David’s story was inspiring to me.

 

David Madore made political enemies in this process

Politics isn’t a frisbee game, and it would be naive to expect it to be a non-contact sport.  However, even in the world of nasty local political conflict, the epic rabidness of Madore’s opposition is impressive.  We should expect and encourage hard-hitting exposure of political figures.  I believe incumbent politicians and bureaucrats are not scrutinized enough by the tame media.  If you can get elected, you should be able to defend yourself and your record.  I have written many hard hitting articles (here about Thurston County, here about Douglas County, here about a political candidate for commissioner, here about the City of SeaTac, etc).  I wish the media would do this more often, and it is a sad commentary on the collapse of modern journalism that the tame media tends to ignore or give a pass to politicians and bureaucrats for a wide range of corruption and incompetence.

To David's enemies, he is Satan, and their hatred is epic (image from anti-Madore facebook post)
To David’s enemies, he is Satan, and their hatred of David Madore is epic and a bit obsessive (image from anti-Madore facebook post)

In Clark County, the scale and proportionality of the Hate-Madore crowd is strangely off the charts.  Opposition is awesome, but foaming at the mouth craziness is not rational. This is particularly true considering the nature of the problems that the opposition claims to have with David Madore.  I can’t find a comparable level of absurdity anywhere else in Washington State, so this is a unique story worth studying.

David isn’t perfect.  Nobody who holds political office ever can be perfect.  He has made mistakes in office just like every other elected official.  Everyone is flawed and everyone is a sinner.  That being said, it is helpful to have proportionality in evaluating the flaws of elected officials.  Let’s compare David’s flaws to other local newspaper-endorsed politicians around the state.  Did he personally cost the taxpayers of Clark County $200 million like Democrat Commissioner (and former legislator) Sandra Romero?  No.  Did he try to invent a new $42,000 pocket gopher tax on new property owners in Clark County like the Thurston County Commissioners?  Nope.  Did he fail to follow the law, commit gross misdemeanors for five years, and hide capital assets like the Republican commissioners in Douglas County?  No.  Did he try to steal property from local citizens, and use straw buyers to threaten property owners to sell to the county, in the process costing the county an $18.3 million jury verdict like the City of SeaTac?  Doesn’t look like it.  Did he try to force a local income tax on the local citizens like the City of Oympia?  No.  The tame media largely gave a pass to these stories identified above.  What the heck did David do to inspire this hate?

According to the complaint filed against him by the public sector union, he committed three crimes against bureaucracy for which crucifixion may be the only proportionate punishment:

  • He asked too many questions.
  • He tried to understand how they did their jobs
  • He tried to schedule meetings with staff to better understand the work they do.

From a bureaucrat’s point of view, these might be capital crimes worthy of the death penalty.  Bureaucracy thrives on making the simple complex and by reducing transparency so that oversight is difficult if not impossible.  However, these were not the only crimes he committed.  Here are even more grievous crimes committed by Councilman David Madore:

  • He challenged the math models used the Central Planners to determine their comp plan methodology.  Alone, among elected officials, he actually tried to look behind the curtain to see how these mystery models were formulated.  How Dare he look?
  • He presented alternative options to the Central Planner schemes cooked up in the back rooms on the 3rd floor of the Clark County staff offices.
  • He eliminated taxes, reduced fees, streamlined some regulations, and attempted to reduce the costs of local government.

Truly, these are crimes of the worst sort against the bureaucracy of Clark County. Now I understand the depth and angst of the Hate Madore Crowd.  In the end, it comes down to money, and the future of government grants is all lubricated by cash.  See this theme video for government.  Not their own cash, but the money they can extract from taxpayers and the residents of the county.

A crazy cast of characters, recalls, lawsuits, and games

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Lou Brancaccio (in purple) takes his job as senior Madore hater and editor of the Columbian very seriously

Leading the charge against David Madore is a local newspaper/blog site called The Columbian.  This declining circulation traditional paper has been steadily laying off staff while writing more obsessively negative attack articles and blogs attacking David Madore than I have ever seen any traditional paper/blog site write in Washington State.  Looking back over the past year, there are hundreds of negatively slanted articles, fetish-focused attack editorials, blog posts, and many Madore-obsessed hate tweets.  This dwarfs all other topics or  individual subjects.  It has been an endless mudslide.

Lou Brancaccio attacking Madore while hanging out at home in Florida
Lou Brancaccio attacking Madore while hanging out in Florida
Selling trinkets
Lou Brancaccio is the primary salesman of Chinese trinkets from the Columbian’s offices

Additionally, according to sources inside the Columbian, the editorLou Brancaccio – has been spending much of his time in Florida or Chicago.  The Columbian appears to have shifted its funding model into a unique approach selling Chinese made coffee mug trinkets online, and Mr. Brancaccio has been taking a hands on approach to selling these trinkets personally when he is not in Florida.   The declining circulations and recent staff layoffs indicate the trinket selling may not be adequately closing the funding gaps, but the negative obsession with David appears to define the primary output of writing at the Columbian between increasingly rare random acts of journalism

Even Governor Inslee had to buy a Chinese coffee mug from Lou. Too bad Inslee is the king of doing stupid stuff
Even Governor Inslee had to buy a Chinese coffee mug from Lou. Too bad Inslee is the king of doing stupid stuff

In addition to Mr. Brancaccio’s fetish-like obsession with Madore and trinket sales, the bureaucrats in Clark County are willing to pull out every stop to attack Madore.  Phony and discredited attacks of racism have been used by the Clark County Central Planning Director OliverOliver_Orjiako Orjiako who did not want his math model questioned.  Orjiako has worked in the planning department for over 20 years and was part of the planning staff who were called to task in a 1996 lawsuit for using wildly inaccurate math models to support their planning ideology which directly harmed rural residents.  Orjiako appears to have taken this historic defeat  personally, and he was strongly motivated to keep his secret sauce methods “super secret.”  He and his fellow Central Planners used these secret math models to obscure the data which underpins the Comprehensive Plan for Clark County.  When questioned by David Madore about these math model problems, Orjiako filed a discredited and silly charge of “racism” against Madore.

To Clark County Central Planners, this is the perfect rural home
To Clark County Central Planners like Oliver Orjiako, this is the perfect rural home

This led to another character, a mercenary Attorney Rebecca Dean, paid to write a $54,000 “investigative” report pre-targeted at David Madore.  This 40 page report cost $1300 per page and was written to discredit Madore’s questioning of staff and contained Orwellian language like:

“Orjiako made correct statements based upon his misunderstanding of Madore’s contentions.” (p. 23)

And:

“In a related allegation, Madore has stated specifically that the DSEIS has inflated the number of buildable lots on forestlands by a “factor of 10,” a factor of “1000 percent,” or in later public statements, by “500 percent.”  Madore’s statement is false … Pool (staff) states that GIS had been running alternative scenarios and turned the forest exclusion “off” in the code – and then forgot about it.  So, as best as Pool can determine, when GIS gave the software and data to Madore, the forest exclusion was still turned off…GIS staff did not realize the error had been made until they tried (with limited success) to reproduce Madore’s methods” (p.15)

There are plenty of other examples, but as these two quotes illustrate, when Madore tried to understand the math model used by Central Planning staff that damaged the financial lives and dreams of thousands of people in the community – the staff gave him a screwed up math formula.  David produces flawed data and points out the problems.  Staff admits they screwed up the data, so this $1300 per page investigator decided to say Madore lied.  Then, when Orjiako decided to make wild accusations against Madore, disproved by the facts,  he is “correct.”  The heavily slanted and very expensive “report” is really just a political hit piece funded by taxpayers instead of a political action committee.

David 4
Marc Boldt is bitter about his 2012 election defeat by Madore, and Boldt is eager for revenge and payback now that he is back in government

Finally, there are the three other Council members.  Council Chair Marc Boldt has an ax to grind because he was an arrogant, incumbent politician booted from office by David Madore in 2012.  Mr. Boldt came roaring back in 2015 and became the new Clark County Council Chair, which probably felt like vindication.  However, he is determined to payback Madore out of personal animus.  Councilor Julie Olson  is a former Ridgefield School Board Director and lost a close race  for state legislature in the 17th district in 2012 (I supported her race at the time).  Olson seems as obsessed with Madore as Boldt, so between them they try to compete for who can be the most rude.  Councilor Jeanne Stewart is a bit more nuanced.  I admired her when she sat on the Vancouver City Council and I supported her when she was elected to the Commission originally (with a lot of help from David Madore).  It seems that she is determined to prove that she can be bitter at Madore as well, but at least she seems capable of thinking for herself.  Either way, all three of these folk are targets of a recall petition (a video about it can be found here).  They are all on the anti-Madore jihadwagon.

Stewart, Olson, and Boldt (S.O.B. for short) are all facing possible recall
Stewart, Olson, and Boldt (S.O.B. for short) are all facing possible recall, but they hated Madore long before the recall was filed

Bottom Line

At the end of the day, despite all the political drama, litigation, and posturing – this story is really very simple.  The solution, regardless of how you feel about the people involved in this situation is even simpler.

This is a story about a successful person who chose to become a politician trying to fix the problems he had seen in government after attempting to fix these problems from the outside.  He gets into government and holy crap, he actually meant what he said.  More shocking than this, he made the thankless effort to understand the Byzantine world of Central Planning.  He steps on a lot of toes.  The toes kick back.

David Madore has pissed off some powerful special interests.  He helped kill a $3.5 billion (some say as high as $6 billion) boondoggle that promised to re-distribute a lot of money to a select group of special interests in Clark County and in Oregon.  They are not happy.  They hate David.  All the dramas, bitterness, lawsuits, and silliness is just the complicated chaos that obscures this simple situation and helps the Columbian’s editor peddle his Chinese-made trinkets.

Now, the people of Clark County get to decide:

Do they want someone like David Madore, who is not perfect, but willing to question the establishment, dig into the details, and appears fearless opposing special interests?

Or, do the people of Clark County prefer the typical bobble-head politician who rubber stamps staff and cares what a Florida-based editor of a shrinking local newspaper writes while sipping drinks poolside?

Snapshot(10)

Dean Report – $54,000 for a 40 page politicized political report attacking David Madore

Local site which reports on many issues in Clark County, and has the best candidate rating methodology I have seen in the state ( much better than the ones I have done)

___________________________________________________________________________

Our Constitution begins with the phrase “we the people.”  It was the founder’s intent that government be created by the people, to serve the people.  It wasn’t their intention for the people to serve the government.  It was always intended that government which failed to serve the people should be “altered or abolished.”  Until we return to the founder’s intent, we remain We the Governed

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