Sunday, June 22, 2008

Observing Gregoire Pushing Back Against The Facts

It’s been interesting observing Governor Christine Gregoire’s aggressive response to a series of recent radio ads paid for by ChangePac, the political arm of the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW), critical of her record on sex offenders and foster care. She hasn’t responded nearly as aggressively on two other ChangePac spots related to traffic congestion and significantly increased taxes. I suspect that’s because she’d rather not remind voters traffic congestion has become massively worse since she’s been in office, that she increased spending by 33 percent, and raised our taxes over $500 million, while turning the largest budget surplus in state history into a deficit rapidly approaching $2.5 billion — in just four years.

The ads prompted this response from Gregoire: “We have hit rock bottom in this campaign and it is only June. I call on my Republican opponent Dino Rossi to denounce the BIAW and these ads and instead run a campaign focused on good policy and the issues.”

If these mildly critical, but completely factual ads, are “rock bottom,” then we’ve hit an absolute new low for pandering to the lowest common political dominator.

The Rossi campaign’s response was immediate and directly to the point. “Gregoire and her political operatives have been shamelessly trying to smear Dino since before our campaign even began. The Washington Education Association ran radio attack ads against Dino in February, the Democratic Governor’s Association and local unions have put more than $800,000 into the new Evergreen Progress PAC that will undoubtedly be used to attack Dino, and the State Democratic Party sends out almost daily press releases filled with distortions. Is Gregoire suddenly going to take a stand against all of these groups? I wouldn’t count on it.”

The response went on to mention the growing deficit, the 33 percent increase in state spending, the 3,100 released felons and those 1,300 missing sex offenders.

Gregoire has attempted to defend herself on the sex offender and foster care issues with faux outrage and by trotting out her endorsements from the Law Enforcement Administrators of Washington (LAW) and the Washington Council of Police & Sheriffs (WACOPS) — two lobbying groups.

When that didn’t work, she upped the ante and sent out a fundraising e-mail saying, “Governor Gregoire has been endorsed by EVERY major police and law enforcement organization in Washington.”

That’s a blatant lie. While organized labor is considered one of Gregoire’s strongholds, Rossi, has actually been endorsed by a number of police unions, including the state’s largest, the King County Police Officers Guild, as well as the Kitsap County Deputy Sheriff’s Guild, Port Orchard Police Association, and the Renton, Lakewood and Skamania County Police Officer’s Guilds. Look for even more police endorsements shortly.

But she couldn’t resist taking it step further by saying, “It’s clear that our Republican opponent and his friends will say and do anything to bring the failed policies of the Bush Administration to our state.”

Oh please... Exactly what does George Bush have to do with sex offenders running loose in our state?

Through all her bluster, Gregoire still failed to address just how many of those 1,300 plus untraceable sex offenders are now accounted for by the State. If the number were significant, it’s difficult to imagine her not using it to shoot back.

Meanwhile, Gregoire unveiled a her own attack ads shortly afterwards, coupled with a You Tube video from the state Democratic Party attempting to paint Rossi as a Mafioso — compete with music from The Soprano’s. The Italian-American community reacted angrily, demanding an apology, that Party Chair Dwight Pelz step down, and that the video be pulled immediately.

The Democrats offered a lukewarm admission of guilt, and pulled the video, but just imagine the righteous indignation, and how Rossi would have been vilified by the party that claims to pride itself on itself on acceptance of diversity, had this example of blatant bigotry come from the Republicans.

It appears to me Gregoire’s defensive strategy is all about misdirection. She also knows her media friends will buy into that misdirection, which casts BIAW — a tough, activist political adversary with a conservative bent, that’s done battle with Gregoire over all the decades she’s been in government — as the issue. That’s because she doesn’t want to address the real issues that have been raised in the ads. So she manufactures outrage over independent expenditures — even though her allies at the teachers union funded the very first attack ads in this campaign. Meanwhile, other labor unions, and extremist environmental groups will no doubt launch their own media offensives against Rossi.

Whether or not Gregoire’s fake outrage and misdirection will play with the voters, still remains to be seen.

However this brings the issue of the tons of cash that will continue to be spent on both sides of the Governor’s race — cash neither Gregoire nor Rossi have much control over — to the forefront. In spite of the candidate’s rhetoric, it’s not as if outside groups on either side of the governor’s race are likely to become more polite between now and November.

In other words, no matter who you support for governor, this is going to get real ugly before it’s all over..

Finally, it would be remiss to not quote state Democratic spokesperson Kelly Steele, because it puts this entire issue into perspective.

“Presumably people or groups supporting the governor share the vision of a majority of Washingtonians — affordable health care, investments in public education and support for working families all across this state,” Steele said. “Rossi’s backers oppose that agenda and represent the narrow agenda of moneyed special interests.”

It’s no secret political spokespeople are paid handsomely to come up with such serious sounding, but pinheaded, politically partisan, pap. But does any thinking person actually believe that the BIAW, the Association of Washington Business, the NFIB, the Farm Bureau and the dozens of other organizations that have endorsed Rossi — not to mention all those police officers — are simply “moneyed special interests,” while unions, environmentalists, teachers, and all the other groups supporting the governor and her party’s agenda are merely interested in the greater good? I think not. The voters just aren’t that stupid.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

SKIA Going To Court?

Once again, the Kitsap Sun has editorialized to paint Port Orchard as the obstructionist in the SKIA debate without having all the facts, or even bothering to research them. Journalism 101 dictates at the very least, a telephone call should have been made to reaffirm what they thought they already knew.

There is supporting documentation for the 1998 MOU that was signed years after the original agreement. The Sun editorial fails to mention that — perhaps because the editorial writer didn't bother to ask.

The City of Port Orchard has invited officials from the Port and Bremerton, as well as the landowners, to sit down on two separate occasions so we could review that documentation and craft a plan that accommodates everyone's legal obligations and allows SKIA to move forward. But they have completely stonewalled us and refused to meet — or even respond.

Port Orchard, in conjunction with the Westsound Utility District, has invested millions of taxpayer dollars to support the infrastructure needs at SKIA based on the legal obligations the Port and Bremerton have agreed to. Why would we walk away from that — so a handful of landowners can get rich on the backs of our citizens?

The bottom line is Port Orchard will be negatively impacted financially in numerous ways by the development of SKIA if it isn't a partner to its development and share in the resources it generates. That was acknowledged in the original agreement and reaffirmed in subsequent documents. All Port Orchard is asking is that the parties signatory to those documents live up to the agreements they made — nothing more.

Port Orchard has stated in the past that it prefers negotiation to litigation. However, if Bremerton moves forward with the annexation in violation of the legal contract it signed, it will be responsible for forcing this matter into court — not Port Orchard.

With all that in mind, perhaps it would have been prudent for the Kitsap Sun editorial writers to have checked out ALL the facts — not accepting what they've been spoon fed by Bremerton as gospel — before writing something so blatantly biased against our city.

Monday, June 09, 2008

The State of Education

This comes from a UPI dispatch...

Students Get Proof Of Their "Education"

A Cleveland area principal says he is embarrassed his students got proof of their "educaiton" on their high school diploma.

Westlake High School officials misspelled "education" on the diplomas distributed this weekend. It's been the subject of mockery on local radio and TV. Principal Timothy Freeman says he sent the diplomas back once to correct another error.

When the corrected diplomas came back, no one bothered to check the things they thought were right the first time. Publisher Jostens (The Yearbook Company) has reprinted the new diplomas — the third attempt — and sent them to the 330 graduates.

Guess they don't have anything like the WASL back there in Ohio...

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Hearings Board Gets One Right

The Central Puget Sound Growth Management Hearings Board (CPSGMHB) finally got one right when it dismissed the Sept. 13, 2007 appeal of Kitsap County’s Comprehensive Plan regarding its Capital Facilities Plan, which had resulted in a sewer planning remand. As a consequence of the ruling, the Kitsap County Commissioners had imposed a development moratorium on all land inside the proposed Urban Growth Areas (UGAs).

The process which defined the UGA expansions were the result of citizen's committees from each specific area coming together over a period of about three years and outlining the proposed boundaries. The plans were completely vetted by county staff, the Planning Commission, and the public, at numerous public hearings.

The arguments of the appellants, the Suquamish Tribe, Kitsap Citizens for Responsible Planning (KCRP), Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe, and South Kitsap resident Jerry Harless, were all rejected. The CPSGMHB ruled that the county’s 2006 Comprehensive Plan is compliant with the state’s Growth management Act (GMA) and that all the expanded Urban Growth Areas (UGAs) outlined in the plan are valid.

What annoys me specifically about this appeal is the fact the Suquamish Tribe was personally invited to participate in the joint Kitsap County/City of Port Orchard process for the South Kitsap UGA by it's chairman — yours truly. The idea was for our group to be able to address the Tribe's issues on the front end of the process, and hopefully avoid an appeal.

Tribal chairman Leonard Forsman rejected that idea saying, "We're a sovereign nation. We only deal on a government to government basis." When I gave him the option of being an equal partner and making it a joint County/City/Tribal process, he changed his tune, stating, "It's basically a manpower issue for us. It's cheaper for us to appeal on the back end than to staff it on the front end." When I asked about the fact an appeal costs the citizens of Kitsap upwards of a million dollars to defend, and ties up landowners for a year or more, he simply shrugged his shoulders and said, "Not my problem."

He did this in front of at least 10 witnesses. I also wrote an editorial in the Business Journal at the time, telling this story. Forsman responded with a Letter to the Editor, which we ran, talking about how much the Tribe contributes to the local economy. However, he didn't refute the above details which were also contained in that editorial. And as reaction to the editorial, the tribe canceled its long-running full-page ad in the paper as well.

The Tribe's track record is to appeal land use decisions as a matter of course — in spite of the fact it hypocritically refuses to adhere to the very same rules in its own developments on tribal land it legally tries to force down the throats of the rest of us. It is also rumored to have financed the appeals of other groups. And as its commercial enterprises — the casino, hotel, Kiana Lodge, et. al. — continue to grow and prosper, we are feeding the tribe the very dollars it uses against us that has helped drain the county's coffers fighting its land use appeals. That's why I personally refuse to attend any function held on tribal property that requires me to spend any of my own money.

This decision also directly impacts appellant Harless, a former Kitsap County planner, who has been fighting the expansion of the South Kitsap UGA for the past five years or so. He lives on 5 acres of land situated in the triangle between Old Clifton Road, Berry Lake Road, and Highway 16, and is adamantly opposed to his property being included inside the UGA. As someone who has made a living in the planning field and has an excellent working knowledge of the GMA, Harless has become very skilled in the mechanics of working its processes to delay that inclusion.

Harless served on the Citizen's Advisory Committee for the South Kitsap UGA expansion, as did KCRP member Tom Donnelly. Harless chaired its Reasonable Measures Committee, and both voted in favor of the final version of the plan.

As a result of the ruling, the Board of Commissioners voted to lift the development moratorium at its June 9 meeting. This will open up all of the County's expanded UGAs for new subdivision and development permits. It will also allow land inside the contested UGA’s to now be annexed by the cities.

Lifting the moritorium also opens the door for a possible incorporation of Silverdale, as well as annexation of several areas of South Kitsap by the City of Port Orchard — most notably the Bethel Avenue corridor and the portions of Sidney Road/Pottery Avenue between Sedgwick Road and Tremont Street that are not currently inside the city limits. Both areas are inside the expanded UGA boundaries and targeted for commercial development in the comprehensive plan. A number of property owners in those areas had previously indicated they would petition the city for annexation once the moratorium was lifted.

Annexation of Bethel Road between Lund Avenue and Sedgwick Road would also eliminate the onerous Bethel Corridor Design Standards. The restrictions on development contained in those regulations — which were imposed at the insistence of former county commissioner and current commission candidate Charlotte Garrido — are blamed for making development on Bethel completely unfeasible financially.

Could that be why NO development has occurred on Bethel since they were imposed over a decade ago? It looks like they worked exactly like Charlotte intended them to.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Observation on Obama and Clinton

What appears below is an interesting — and accurate — synopsis of why Barack Obama beat Hillary Clinton. It originally appeared in the Chicago Tribune. Read it here.

5 reasons Obama won, 5 reasons Clinton lost ... and 5 differences between Obama, McCain

5 reasons Obama won
1. He owned the word "change" when voters were fed up with the status quo. In a field of older, better-known candidates, he represented "the new."
2. He opposed the Iraq War when others were equivocal. The issue was a clear winner against Clinton, who had voted in 2002 to authorize the invasion.
3. His oratory was electrifying. While his early debate performances seemed halting and uncomfortable, he steadily improved. His stump speeches were assured, and he drew crowds as large as 75,000.
4. His campaign was better strategically and operationally, particularly in taking the long view and focusing on caucus states and primaries beyond Super Tuesday.
5. He won the Internet, notably in raising record amounts of money and building networks of supporters through non-traditional methods.

5 reasons Clinton lost
1. Her campaign was too corporate and hierarchical. It spent too much on staff, was too slow in decision-making and had too little independent thinking.
2. She didn't recognize the threat Obama posed early enough, and went straight from "inevitable" to in trouble.
3. She invested heavily in Iowa, then lost to Obama there. Her deputy campaign manager had urged her to skip the opening caucuses, which her husband, Bill, had bypassed in 1992.
4. She had no coherent post-Super Tuesday plan. While she held her own in the Feb. 5 primaries, including a big victory in California, she lost the next 11 contests.
5. She failed to connect with African-American voters, a demographic that had always been in her corner. Early in the race, poorly timed comments by Bill Clinton hurt her among blacks.

5 major differences between Obama and McCain
1. McCain supports the Iraq War; Obama opposes it.
2. McCain opposes abortion; Obama favors abortion rights.
3. Obama favors talking with hostile regimes; McCain does not.
4. McCain would make the Bush tax cuts permanent; Obama would not.
5. Obama favors more restrictions on gun ownership than McCain.