Monday, June 30, 2014

SCOTUS Decision on Hobby Lobby Fuels Fundraising Firestorm

Within hours of the Supreme Count decision on Hobby Lobby being announced, I received no less than 13 emails from various Progressives — starting with Senator Patty Murray — and from organizations with high-minded sounding names, dribbling all the way down to local candidates who have zero horsepower to change anything. What they all had in common was an obvious "outrage" at the SCOTUS decision, attached to an angry demand that I send them money immediately — anywhere from $1,000 to $3 — so they can "fight" this "evil decision."

And how exactly are they going to do that? Just like Citizens United case was, it’s a SUPREME COURT decision! That’s the end of the line legally. Game over! Do they REALLY think I’m so stupid, or so uninformed, that I don’t know they can’t do a damn thing about it — especially local politicians? They obviously think a lot people are that dumb, or they wouldn't be sending this stuff out in blanket spam emails to hundreds of thousands of people across the country.

I’m not commenting either way on the decision itself, only on the fact that the political fundraising machine didn’t lose a minute's time to try and capitalize financially on it — even though just like Citizen's United, all the money in the world isn’t going to change it. Don't get me wrong. I get the same kind of things from the Republicans and their conservative cohorts on a pretty regular basis as well. Today it included a few looking for money to celebrate "Religious Liberty" — whatever that means. It's just that this one seemed well prepared in advance — by both sides — as the first one arrived at about 8 a.m — or 11 a.m. in Washington D.C. where the SCOTUS is located.

Is it just me, or does anyone else think this kind of political fundraising gamesmanship has contributed to America becoming so polarized as a nation? Does anyone else wonder why we are being pitted against each other by nameless, faceless "organizations" from both sides masquerading as advocates for issues we believe in, when in reality we're pretty clueless about who is behind them? Have our elected officials intentionally given up on the ability to compromise — even on things that are good for us — because it's become more about the money than about servant leadership? Consequences for the country be damned — it's become some kind of perverted  contest to see how bad they can make the other side look than it is about doing what's right for America — which, in my view at least, is why America is in the pitiful shape it is today.

Time for a change...

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Port Orchard Ponders Tightening Up Pot Zoning

The Port Orchard City Council will vote On June 24, on an ordinance to restrict marijuana retailers, growers, and processors from locating within 1,000 feet of home-based day care businesses. While there are restrictions about where marijuana enterprises can locate, home-based day cares are excluded under the state’s Liquor Control Board’s rules, while nursery schools and preschools are not.

On June 10, the city staff presented the revised ordinance for the council’s consideration. At that meeting, Development Director Nick Bond said the city wasn’t aware of the state’s omission of home day cares in May, when the council approved the current ordinance. What he meant to say, was HE was not aware of the omission — which isn’t surprising.

Bond is in so far over his head in what is his first job as a planning director, it isn't even funny. He’s barely worked as a planner, much less a planning department head. Makes me wonder if that isn’t exactly why Mayor Tim Matthes and puppetmaster Gil Michael picked him. His inexperience has allowed them to run amuck unchecked, proposing things any experienced planning director might recommend against. But that’s an entirely different story that deserves looking into.

On the surface, one would think passing this should be a no-brainer. Sadly, Councilman Fred Chang opposes it, saying in a Kitsap Sun article, that he sympathizes with daycare owner Terri Squires, who owns a home-based child care business inside the proposed 1,000 foot buffer, but said, “It sort of pains me a little bit that we might curtail activity in an industrial center where we have so little (industrial zoning.)”

Chang is obviously clueless about how economic development actually works, and/or the fact the city receives ZERO TAX REVENUE from marijuana enterprises. The Port Orchard Industrial Park is meant to be a place for businesses to locate that create jobs, and whose sales generate tax revenue for the city. Marijuana businesses do neither — and there are FOUR — yes count ‘em, FOUR — marijuana producers at the industrial park. The number of jobs created by marijuana enterprises in comparison to a manufacturing operation using the same amount of that scarce, industrially zoned square footage Chang is so worried about — including other businesses located at that industrial park — is laughable.

ALL the tax money marijuana businesses generate goes directly to the state, while local governments are forced to deal with the negative impact, and local taxpayers get to foot the bill. I’m not opposed to legalized marijuana, but do believe local taxpayers shouldn’t be forced to deal with the consequences of it while the state treats it like a cash cow with no responsibility for the outcome.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Handicapping the Kitsap Prosecutor's Race

For the first time since his initial election, when he challenged and beat incumbent C. Danny Clem 20 years ago, Kitsap County Prosecutor Russ Hauge has drawn opposition. But it isn't just one opponent, it's three — including one from his own party.

In the primary election to be held in August, the top two vote getters will face each other in November. The big question is whether or not Hauge will survive the primary. In a poll on the Kitsap Sun, he ran dead last — well behind the other three. Hauge seems to have drawn the ire of the community over what has amounted to a taxpayer funded, personal vendetta against Marcus Carter and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club (KRRC) — that has gone on for over 15 years. According to a Public Records Request we filed, Hauge has spent nearly a half million of our tax dollars losing this well-publicized case in court to Carter — who acted as his own attorney — four different times.

In the meantime, because he isn't going to win this case in court, Hauge has unleashed the county's Department of Community Development (DCD) against the KRRC, trying to basically shut the club down using land use rules. A source inside DCD has told us a controversial new ordinance currently under consideration that would all but shut down the club's operation, is being driven by Hauge's office — not the commissioners. We are currently preparing a Public Records Request to see if that's true or not. Apparently, the fact the ordinance would wreak havoc on local businesses, homeowners, and home sellers countywide — giving county code enforcers the authority to come on to your property at will, uninvited, is considered collateral damage in Hauge's fight to prevail in this vendetta. 

But back to handicapping the race...
Hauge is a Democrat, and his opponents are Republican Tina Robinson, a public defender; Democrat Bob Scales, former City Councilman and Mayor of Bainbridge Island, and Independent Bruce Danielson. All three are practicing attorneys. 

Bruce Danielson: Danielson challenged Hauge four years ago and came close to unseating him, garnering 47 percent of the vote. I don't see him getting anywhere near that total this go around, as in my view, a lot of people didn't vote "for" Danielson, but voted "against" Hauge. While the sheer number of Democrats on Bainbridge Island made the difference for Hauge, this time, voters countywide have more choices. 

I'm not sure Danielson, who leans heavily conservative, will survive the primary. A lot of his support last time came from Republicans, who didn't have a candidate four years ago, but who will support Robinson — their party's candidate, this time. 

Tina Robinson: Robinson is a smart lady, who prior to becoming an attorney was a business manager with Group Health, and had a successful career there. Her Achilles heal is that while she is a competent defense attorney, with the experience to run the business end of the Prosecutors Office, she admittedly has zero experience in the civil arena — which includes land use — a blood sport in Kitsap County. She said in an endorsement interview I was part of, that she believed the office has experienced, competent civil attorneys, and she would rely on their expertise. The problem with that is it leaves the inmates running the asylum. 

The Republicans smell blood in the water and will make a strong financial push to support Robinson. She's already raised more money that Hauge, and could wind up in the Top Two. But in the end, her lack of civil experience could make the difference between winning and losing.

Bob Scales: Scales is, in my view, far and away the most qualified candidate, and should be a no brainer best choice for voters. He has significantly more actual courtroom experience than almost all of the other candidates combined — especially Hauge, who has almost none, save losing to Carter and losing the case of the police dog that was shot and killed. He also brings the requisite administrative experience from King County and Seattle, as well as having served on the Bainbridge island City Council, where he was selected by the Council to serve a term as Mayor.

The Bainbridge Island Democrat isn't as well known here as he is in Seattle, where he's spent his career practicing law for King County and the City of Seattle. Whenever there have been thorny issues to deal with — such as the Department of Justice's (DOJ) probe of the Seattle Police Department — Scales has been the "go to guy" to get to the bottom of things and solve the problems, because he knows how to get things done.

The problem Scales has is his own party's Precinct Committee Officers (PCOs) who have closed ranks behind their incumbent, Hauge — in spite of his pathetic record. This is the same group of crybabies that publicly whined in the Kitsap Sun like spoiled children when County Commissioners Charlotte Garrido and Rob Gelder had the integrity to select the most qualified candidate — Linda  Streissguth — to replace Josh Brown over their preferred choice, Leslie Daugs. The fact Daugs has zero administrative, budgeting, financial, or personnel management experience didn't matter to them. It was all about Daugs openly admitted ultra-liberal politics — not her qualifications. What's wrong with this picture?

But if Hauge is eliminated in the primary — which is a very real possibility — the party will unite to support Scales just as it has Streissguth in her battle to hold on to the Commissioner's seat against formidable Republican challenger Ed Wolfe.

Conclusion: The election will come down to Scales vs. Robinson. There is just too much anti-Hauge sentiment in this county over the issues with Carter and the KRRC. Republicans will push hard for Robinson, but in the end, with Hauge out, the Bainbridge Island Democrats will cinch it for Scales — which will be a good thing for Kitsap County.