Sunday, December 26, 2010

What The 2010 Census Tell Us

The new census numbers not only tell us a lot about the direction of our country over the last decade, but say much more about America’s hopes and dreams over the long term. The thing that jumped out at me in analyzing the constitutionally mandated head count is that while it isn’t an election, the 2010 census shows Americans have no trouble voting with their feet.

For many, it reflects rising support of limited government, but more interestingly, determines what states gained and lost seats in Congress.

While our state gained a tenth congressional seat because of an increase in population between 10 and 15 percent, a group called Americans for Tax Reform found states gaining the most population — and seats in Congress — had several common threads, including significantly lower taxes, fewer government regulations, less government spending, and were more likely to be Right to Work states.

What that says is that for the past decade Americans have been fleeing the heavy hand of intrusive government in favor of places where the market encourages entrepreneurialism and has the ability to create jobs. And not coincidentally, all are states that tend to lean Republican.

States with more than 20 percent population growth include our immediate neighbor to the east, Idaho, which has been aggressively marketing itself to Washington State companies as an alternative to our high taxes, over-regulation, and out of control spending. A drive along I-90 between Spokane and Post Falls is a testament to their success. Many of the shuttered buildings in Spokane still have company names on them, but you’ll see many of those same names on new buildings just across the state line.  

Other states in the 20 percent club include Texas, which will gain four seats, as well as Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. In the 15 to 20 percent range are populous Florida, which will pick up two more seats, Georgia, Colorado, and South Carolina (can you say Boeing?). North Carolina, which also falls into that 15 to 20 percent range, fell just short of picking up another House seat by only 15,000 residents.

Meanwhile, traditional liberal strongholds like New York and Ohio will both lose two seats, while industrialized, and heavily unionized New Jersey, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Iowa, will each lose one, as will Louisiana. In my view, Louisiana is an anomaly due to the twin knock out punches of Hurricane Katrina, which forced thousands to flee the state who never returned — many, ironically to Texas — and the Gulf Coast oil spill which has all but shut down its bread and butter industries — oil and fishing. 
However, what is most telling, is that our nation's most populous state — California — in spite of massive immigration, will fail to gain any seats for the first time since statehood. That means even more people are fleeing the Golden State then immigrating there — legally or otherwise.

Joining Washington in the 10 to 15 percent bracket are Oregon, Alaska, Tennessee, New Mexico and Wyoming. The increases in our state, Oregon, and to some degree Alaska and Arizona, are a result of California’s out-migration. Tennessee, Wyoming and Arizona are all Right-To-Work states.

Another telling statistic is that state and local taxes, coupled with per capita government spending, in states gaining enough population to pick up seats are nearly a third lower than in those states losing seats.

The bottom line is Republican-leaning states will increase their power as population shifts from the liberal Northeast Rust Belt to the conservative South and West — where the jobs are.

In spite of President Obama’s overwhelming victory a scant two years ago, this significant realignment is viewed by many as an undeniable indictment of liberalism. I don’t know that I’d agree completely, but there will be an unmistakable impact. 

With the Census results comes redistricting. What I’d like to see is common sense political boundaries — such as county lines, as opposed to absurdly shaped, politically gerrymandered districts, such as the 35th here in our state.

But don't expect anything that sensible. While this year's elections have increased Republicans' power in many states, look for the Obama administration not to hesitate trotting out the Democrat's battle-proven, but disgusting class warfare strategy, coupled with playing the race card against Republican state leaders as they re-shuffle Democrats' long-gerrymandered constituencies in a pathetic attempt to neutralize the bad news the Census has delivered.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Taking exception to the Kitsap Sun's reporting of the Port Orchard Boat Ramp Issue

There are many more facts surrounding the issue of the repair of the Port Orchard Boat Ramp than meet the eye. However, the bottom line is that the City of Port Orchard and the Port of Bremerton are equally committed to solving this problem in a win-win manner.

That was made abundantly clear to all concerned in the joint meeting we had on Tuesday. For the Kitsap Sun to report this story in the irresponsible way it did, and then editorialize so biasedly against the City, was an uninformed, and undeserved cheap shot at the City for no apparent reason.

If I hadn't seen her there myself, I'd have to question if the reporter who wrote the story was actually at the same meeting as the rest of us. It's also very obvious that whoever wrote that editorial used that story as their sole source of information, and couldn't be bothered to check one single fact.

NO ONE from the Sun called anyone at the City for comment, or could be bothered to ask us one single question about this issue before publishing such an unfair and blistering attack.

A lengthy email to Sun Editor David Nelson explaining the actual FACTS of this matter has yet to elicit a response.

As someone who has spent most of my entire adult life in the news business, the reporting and editorializing of this story is simply unconscionable, and one of the worst examples of biased, and irresponsible journalism I've ever witnessed. In my view, the Sun owes the both City — and all of its readers and online commenters — an apology for abdicating its responsibility to fair, unbiased, quality journalism.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Tom McCabe leaving BIAW at end of the year

       After 21 years, Tom McCabe will be leaving his post as Executive Director of the politically powerful Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) at the end of the year. His resignation came as a surprise to many, but not to most BIAW insiders.

       Under his leadership, BIAW became a major player in statewide politics, and synonymous with pro-business, conservative causes, as well as being perhaps the state’s staunchest supporter of the Republican Party. It also became a lightening rod for continual condescending, elitist criticism by liberals — something the group accepts as a compliment for its efforts on behalf of small business. 

However, it would be impossible not to acknowledge McCabe’s contribution in transforming the group from an ineffectual trade association into the state’s most aggressive advocate for small business and free enterprise, attracting national recognition from such prestigious publications as the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Forbes Magazine.

During McCabe’s tenure, BIAW membership grew from roughly 2,000 member businesses in 1990 — the same year the Growth Management Act was passed —  to more than 11,000 currently. In fact, BIAW is one of, if not the largest, affiliate of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) in the nation.

McCabe built a highly effective lobbying team that in spite of liberal Democratic majorities in the both houses of the legislature managed to prevent the passage of legislation that unfairly targeted the construction industry — most notably onerously mandated homeowner warranty legislation, as well as that requiring costly fire sprinklers in new, single family homes, elimination of exempt wells, and an expansion of impact fees, among other victories.

 McCabe also founded BIAW’s retrospective rating program, turning it into the largest in the state. The program provides worker’s compensation insurance to BIAW members, and over the past 20 years has returned $360 million from state government back to its membership. The program retains a small portion of each refund as an administration fee, and the millions that fee generates has been the funding source for BIAW’s political activities that support conservative, pro-business candidates and causes.

BIAW also used our state’s initiative process skillfully, and was able to reject restrictive, ergonomics regulations unilaterally imposed by the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), as well as getting Initiative 602 on the ballot, which would have restricted the growth of state government. It most recently sponsored I-1082, which would have opened Workman’s Compensation insurance to the private sector.

“We didn’t win every battle — nobody does. In my 20 years at BIAW, we never had a Republican governor and most of the time the legislature was controlled by liberal Democrats,” said McCabe. “So in every battle, we were the perpetual underdogs and I am so proud of the courage and determination of my staff and the small businesses that fought along side us.”

Over the years, liberal political opponents have tried unsuccessfully to pass legislation to eliminate the retro program and de-fund BIAW’s political machine, as well as filed numerous bogus lawsuits, but have been defeated at every turn. 
However, a very nasty, internal battle between BIAW and it’s largest and most powerful affiliate member, the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties (MBA), may have been McCabe’s undoing. The clash, which has gone on for more than three years, has caused an ever-widening fissure within the organization, pitting individual members and member associations against each other — much to glee of its political opponents.

The MBA began offering its own version of the retro program to both its own members as well as other BIAW affiliates earlier this year, and in what has been described as an orchestrated coup, elected one of their own as president of the association at the last general meeting.

McCabe is leaving BIAW with a severance package reportedly valued at $1.25 million, with his senior staff also being offered a generous severance package.
Who will replace McCabe is still up in the air, but it’s possible an interim director will be appointed while a search for a successor is conducted. McCabe will leave BIAW at the end of this year, but will provide future assistance to BIAW.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Finally... Gregoire Calls For Special Session

After jerking around for most of the past month, according to a report in the Everett Herald, Governor Christine Gregoire has finally said she will call the legislature into special session to deal with the budget crisis. Gregoire stated that if the legislature doesn't schedule a session by Friday, she'll do it for them, and it will happen before Christmas.

It seems it has taken her months to gather the courage to face down the state employee unions and force legislators to do what they were elected to. Obviously, the citizens of our state are getting the kind of stellar leadership they voted for.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Why Won't Gregoire Force The Legislature To Deal With The Budget?

In spite of dire budget warnings for almost a year now from the Governor — and a crystal clear message from the voters — the State Legislature has adamantly refused to deal with what has become a major crisis, the looming $5.7 billion revenue shortfall. And while lawmakers will be in Olympia next week, the Democratic leadership remains uncommitted to a special session to solve the problem because the ultimate sustainable solution is going to anger their biggest supporters — state employee unions.

More than a year of warnings from business, think tanks, pundits, Republicans, political candidates from both parties, and average citizens, that the budget is unsustainable, have fallen on deaf donkey ears. The bottom line is that it appears the Democrats don't have the cojones necessary to make the hard decisions required to fix this problem.

The Senate Republican leadership responded to the Governor's call for budget recommendations and has been willing to help lay the groundwork for a special session, but the Democrats are unwilling to step up and deal with reality. However, since reality isn't enough to prompt the Legislature to take the action they were elected to, the Governor should take the bull by the horns — or in this case the ass by the ears — and force lawmakers to do their jobs.

The Governor should call a special session effective Wednesday, Dec. 8. that would be in effect for 30 days. If lawmakers refuse to quickly balance the budget, she should order large, across-the-board cuts that factor in chief budget forecaster Dr. Aram Raha's dismal take on the future of tax collections, and  have them take effect on Saturday, Dec. 11. If that doesn't get the Democrats off their butts, nothing is likely to.

If legislators don't want to get their hands dirty (and piss off the unions) by doing the job they were elected to, and still refuse to balance the budget, the least they should do in the special session is pass legislation that provides the Governor with the flexibility to make discretionary cuts (instead of across-the-board) to eliminate the projected deficit and leave a reserve.

All I can say is it's a good thing I'm not Governor. They would already be there and they would stay there as long as it took. Can you imagine a legislative session on Christmas day?