One thing I did when I went in and told my boss, Kitsap Sun
Editor David Nelson, that I was taking a job elsewhere was I
promised him I wouldn’t write a “Goodbye” column. Those kind of
farewells can be so full of self-importance and blindness.
It’s blindness to the fact that the majority of readers, and
“majority” is really underselling it, are
fortunately incapable of giving a bark about some fool who got
the notion that writing stuff that happens for a living is not
going to write stuff that happens anymore. Not for a living,
I mean, I don’t read farewells from people leaving their jobs at
the toaster manufacturing company, the shipyard, or the bar. Even
some politicians make less noise when they leave the business.
Hasta la vista, baby. (California Motor Speedway 2006. Photo by
I stayed committed to my promise to David for about a week,
figuring I’d leave a note on Facebook that a few people would
notice. It would be enough for those who wondered what
happened and to make clear that I didn’t get fired. Because I
operate under the perhaps misguided notion that I have a reputation
worth protecting, I cared a whit about that.
But your accountant will let you know if the party’s over and
that you might ought to consider getting your money laundered by
someone else. So as my final day approached I shifted in my
thoughts about this. I got the notion to create a farewell that
wasn’t so much like the ones I’d seen that had become so
tired. There have been so many journalists leaving the business in
the last 10 years that it’s nearly impossible to not swim in the
exit pieces. I crafted a short message on top of a picture of
a cowboy riding off into the sunset, then accidentally let it post
sooner than I wanted to. For 15 minutes or so you had the chance to
Even that seemed too self-serving and emotional, so I
took it down.
The reason I came back to write something is because I don’t
want to quit this job without saying one thing, even if it
is in a tortured farewell.
If you’re curious why I would leave, my first answer is simply
that it is time. I believe everyone involved wins in this. I loved
being a journalist for the last 16 years, but I never operated
under the assumption or even the hope that it would last forever. I
said before on Facebook that this is amazing work. I mean it. I’m
sure I’ll miss parts of it, particularly the people I got to meet
as a reporter, especially including my coworkers. We cover things
that are boring to most people, other things that are exciting to
many and news that is tragic to everyone. In all of those
experiences I was always amazed by the graciousness of
those who somehow had faith that talking to me might do some
And that gets to the one thing I wanted to say: Thank you.
To leave without saying that seemed ungrateful.
The other reason I leave is because the right opportunity became
available. On Monday I go to work in the Kitsap County Auditor’s
office as education and outreach coordinator. If you run for
something here you will probably talk to me. I’ll be taking on
other communications tasks in the office as well, applying what
I’ve learned here and learning new skills.
For my closing number I leave you with a song that I think
reflects the emotions of someone who looks back on a career path he
hopes did some good and probably wasn’t as great as he
wishes he were.
Please come see me and hang out with friends at Story
Again, thank you. As always, go Dodgers! And my apologies
to David. I hope this doesn’t get me fired.
It’s tempting to get mad at the national media for either A.
Giving Donald Trump too much attention, or B. Discounting his
chances at winning. If I were to pick one, for me it would be A. I
suspected he had no chance, and for reasons I will show you I think
the data bears that out.
The national media, as tough as it might be to offer, deserves a
little slack. While the chattering class might be faulted for how
it covers Trump, it can’t legitimately ignore someone who is
leading a 17-person field aiming for the most powerful position in
My sense from the beginning was that Trump’s popularity has a
peak that settles somewhere south, way south, of 50 percent of the
Republican Party. That by itself isn’t a problem. Ohio Gov. John
Kasich, for example, might only have 5 percent support. Trump wins,
Not necessarily. The bigger issue for Trump, assuming he really
does want to do anything besides boost his brand, is that those who
feel negative about him represent more than 50 percent of the
Republican Party. Kasich might only have something around 5 percent
support, but that’s among 17 candidates. If you put Kasich, or
Marco Rubio, or Scott Walker, or Jeb Bush one-on-one against Trump,
the Donald gets crushed every time.
The way to illustrate this is by mapping out a ranked-choice
election process. Ranked-choice is where a voter gets to pick a
candidate in order of priority. After one round, the candidate with
the least number of votes is removed. If that’s your candidate,
your vote goes to the candidate who was your second choice. You
keep removing the candidate with the lowest number of votes until
you get someone who has more than 50 percent.
I mapped out that kind of process using an adjusted version of
a Rasmussen Poll. I took the undecided
voters and assigned them to the candidates proportionately. With
George Pataki getting zero percent, no one picks anything up when
he gets eliminated. When former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore was
removed, I divided his 1 percent among the seven other candidates
who had been governor. When Santorum exited I split his 1 percent
between Ben Carson and Mike Huckabee, a Christian split. Lindsay
Graham’s votes went to senators, Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal to
governors, Mike Huckabee to governors and Carson, Rand Paul to a
split of three candidates, etc. I was guessing the whole way, so
there is no way this example is based in too much fact.
But don’t interpret that to mean that I’m underestimating Trump.
I felt fine in only adding votes for Trump when two other
never-been-elected candidates, Carly Fiorina and Carson, were
removed and in the last round. I figured Trump might get votes from
people who don’t want to vote for another Bush. In the end I think
I was far too generous to think that Trump could get 40 percent of
the Republican Party vote.
Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight makes this same point,
probably and not surprisingly, better than I do.
“I’ve seen a lot written about how Trump’s candidacy heralds a
new type of populism. If it does, this type of populism isn’t
actually very popular. Trump’s overall favorability
ratings are miserable, about 30 percent favorable and 60
percent unfavorable, and they haven’t improved (whatever gains he’s
made among Republicans have been offset by his declines among
independents and Democrats). To some extent, the 30 percent may
like Trump precisely because they know the 60 percent don’t like
him. More power to the 30 percent: I have plenty of my own issues
with the political establishment. But running a campaign that
caters to (for lack of a better term) contrarians is exactly how
you ensure that you’ll never reach a majority.“
It’s those high numbers of people who don’t like Trump that make
me think he would lose in a one-on-one against almost all 16 of the
Silver is making a similar case on the Democratic side,
that Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders might have seen his peak. But it’s
for different reasons. Sanders saw a surge in his poll numbers as
people got to know him. Now that everybody knows who he is, you can
expect the momentum for him slow to what Silver calls a “slog.”
Unlike Trump, though, Sanders doesn’t have high unfavorability
numbers within the party. This means a lot of Democrats won’t vote
for him, but they still like him. If he was the only choice they
wouldn’t have to hold their noses when they voted. Trump can’t say
the same thing.
Silver contends Sanders could win a couple of states. It’s more
likely those would be caucus states, where the candidate decision
is made by the most passionate within each party. In 2008 Barack
Obama did enjoy a small margin of victory over Hillary Clinton in
the national popular vote, but where he really sealed up his
delegates was in caucus states.
Sanders could win in Washington. Based on the crowds, even with
the interruption, he has lots of support here. In 2008 Obama
received 68 percent of the caucus vote to Clinton’s 31 percent. Ten
days later he won the primary by three percentage points.
Voter initiatives have been found to be
unconstitutional in the past, but voters usually get to weigh in
before the courts intervene. Several plaintiffs, including King
County Elections Director Sherrill Huff, filed suit to block Initiative 1366
from appearing on the general election ballot.
The Tim Eyman-led measure would direct the
Legislature to send a constitutional amendment to the ballot. If
the Legislature refused, the state’s sales tax take would be
reduced from 6.5 percent to 5.5 percent, which in the near term
would mean a loss of $2.8 billion per biennium,
according to John Stang’s Crosscut piece.
The constitutional amendment Eyman wants would
require a two-thirds majority in the House and Senate to approve
any tax increase. Voters have approved the two-thirds requirement
before, but most recently the court struck down one initiative that
created a constitutional amendment, saying those have to start in
Washington Secretary of State Kim Wyman,
issued a response today urging
the court to let the ballot measure go on the November ballot. She
took no stand on the initiative itself, but said voters should
“The subject matter of I-1366 is not outside the
scope of the people’s initiative power, and the courts have made it
a practice to avoid pre-election review except in ‘limited and rare
circumstances’ that do not apply here,” Wyman said in a
The lawsuit argues that the initiative’s intent,
despite its path to get there, is to amend the
constitution. The argument against allowing it on the ballot
relates to the cost to taxpayers by having it on the ballot across
the state and the usurpation of power normally left to the
Legislature to begin a constitutional process.
“In the absence of an
injunction, Ms. Huff, Ms. Hall and the taxpayer Plaintiffs will
suffer irreparable harm from incurring the expense of an invalid
and needless election as well as the harm caused to all taxpayers
by unlawful government action,” the plaintiff’s complaint
in the absence of an injunction, the Legislator Plaintiffs will
suffer irreparable harm to their constitutional rights under
Article XXIII as representatives of the sole body that can lawfully
initiate the constitutional amendment process.”
The case will go before King County Superior Court
Judge Dean Lum at 10 a.m. Friday.
Huff was formerly the Kitsap County Auditor for eight
years between 1979 and 1986 and Bremerton’s deputy mayor.
Eyman was in Bremerton in May 2014 talking about the initiative.
Here’s the audio.
We want to be careful with our use of metaphors when we suggest
we are limiting your choices, so I will make no reference to
weapons being pointed anywhere. Nonetheless, let me make this
clear. We want you to tell us who, if you had to choose today,
would be your pick for president among the current field of
Republicans and Democrats.
The survey is on the right side of this page.
We included all 17 declared Republican candidates, the five
declared Democrats, and Vice President Joe Biden, because he has
not definitively said whether he will run. Even though rumors
persist about Democrat Elizabeth Warren and 2012 Republican nominee
Mitt Romney, we left them out because they have both said they will
not. We also left out the other parties. That could change in the
This question comes a few hours before 10 Republicans occupy the
main stage and seven get a forum nicknamed “the kids’ table” for
the first major debate of the 2016 campaign season. Democrats are
waiting until October to start their live arguments.
Carly Fiorina’s name is first because I alphabetized all 23
candidates, then drew a number to determine whose name would appear
One reason I wanted to do this was because of a question Travis
Couture, Mason County Republican Party chairman, asked on Facebook
Wednesday, whether he knew anyone whose first choice was Jeb Bush.
I thought it was a great question. When I see people speak up
online, it’s for Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton or Bernie
Sanders. I might be missing someone, but it’s not Jeb Bush. He
rates relatively high in the polls, but that doesn’t seem to
translate into bigtime support among the online
comment gallery. I did see a few people express
appreciation for what Donald Trump has been saying, but those
people didn’t say whether he’d be their first choice for
“Our country is in desperate need of servant leaders, of men and
women willing to kneel and embrace those who are not like them.
Everyone seeking the presidency professes great love for our
nation. But I ask myself, how can you be a genuine public servant
if you belittle your fellow citizens and freeze out people who hold
That is probably a wish for someone who already won the job, not
for someone trying to get it. There will be belittling aplenty for
the next 15 months.
On primary election day a number north of a dozen and south of
two dozen showed up at state Sen. Tim Sheldon’s office in Shelton
to encourage action for a future election. They plan to be at state
Sen. Jan Angel’s office on Wednesday.
What they’re asking for is an amendment to the U.S. Constitution
declaring that corporations are not people and that money does not
This comes within days after former President Jimmy Carter told an interviewer that
the United States has become an oligarchy with bribery the prime
way of getting things done.
“So, now we’ve just seen a subversion of our political system as
a payoff to major contributors, who want and expect, and sometimes
get, favors for themselves after the election is over.” — Former
President Jimmy Carter
A House Bill, HJR 34, supporting a
Constitutional Amendment to overturn the U.S. Supreme Court’s
Citizens United decision, was introduced in 2013 and U.S.
Rep. Derek Kilmer signed on as a co-sponsor. There were 75
co-sponsors on that bill. Every one was a Democrat, which for now
probably gives you an idea of what the chances are of the amendment
having any chance at all. We do not live in bipartisan times.
This year’s bill, HJR 22, has 136 co-sponsors, including
Kilmer and one Republican. A Senate version, SJR 5, has 39 co-sponsors. Sen. Patty
Murray is one. Sen. Maria Cantwell is not. No Republicans have
signed onto the Senate version. (These sentences were
added after this post was originally published.)
There is a separate bill, HJR 48, that only had eight
co-sponsors. Kilmer is not among them.
The amendment will surely be proposed in future sessions until
it passes or the appetite for the argument goes away. That there
could be a national incident that influences the electorate to
get Congress’ attention is one way sentiment behind this idea could
The local effort takes a different tack, getting voters to back
the idea and hoping that reluctant members of Congress from this
state take notice.
WAmend, the Washington Coalition to Amend the
Constitution is the group behind the local petitioning effort, and
the move to get signatures for a 2016 ballot initiative that would
urge our members of Congress to get the Amendment process and our
legislators to vote for the Amendment when it’s our turn to
The group has a letter from legislators to members of Congress,
a letter that has 24 signatures. They come from 23 Democrats (Every
one except Sheldon) and one Republican, Mark Miloscia, who used to
be a Democrat. One more signature and they have a majority.
On Aug. 17, David Cobb, who is the founding member of the
national organization Move to Amend,
will be speaking locally. The event runs 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at
Eagle Harbor Congregational Church, 105 Winslow Way West on
The video that follows recalls a visit by the “Ben” of the Ben
& Jerry’s Ice Cream company, Ben Cohen, when he visited Kitsap
a year ago to drum up support for the effort.
A week ago we introduced you to Bill Bryant,
Republican candidate for governor. He stopped by the office before
heading over to friends hosting him for Whaling Days. That
introduction was largely biographical. Here we deal with
Bryant, as you might expect, takes issue with current Gov. Jay
Inslee, the Bainbridge Island Democrat elected governor in 2012, on
a host of issues.
First off, Bryant says as a Republican representing Seattle as
a Port of Seattle commissioner, he has to work across the
aisle to get things done. Over the years most of his political
contributions have gone to Republicans, but there have been a few
to Democrats, including the $500 he gave then Congressman Inslee in
1994. That demonstrates, he said, his willingness to be bipartisan.
“You will see it not only in who give money to, but in who gives
money to me,” he said.
Bryant said Inslee’s record is less bipartisan, and said a
letter sent by 25 House Republicans, including Kitsap Caucus
members Jesse Young, Michelle Caldier and Drew MacEwen, made the
case that Inslee can’t effectively cross party lines. “There’s a
feeling that this governor cannot pull people together and cannot
get things done,” Bryant said. “There is a big difference between
being a congressman and being a governor.”
This is, of course, contrasted by Inslee’s comments this week in
front of the Kitsap Sun editorial board where he praised the
Legislature for what it accomplished this session. It shouldn’t
have taken so long, he said, but what emerged at the end was
Bryant built a business helping businesses export
internationally, said he worked closely with former Gov. Chris
Gregoire and has a relationship with ports throughout the state. He
said it’s critical to keep the Puget Sound ports attractive. Where
ports in California are largely importing products staying in that
state, much of what arrives in the Pacific Northwest goes to the
Midwest, so it could just easily come in through Vancouver, BC or
The port commissioner said he’d try to encourage more tourism
among an audience already coming her, cruise customers. He said the
average stay from them now is two days, but he’d like to see it
double to four.
Where Bryant is likely to see his loudest critics during his run
is with those critical of the port for voting to allow Shell’s
Arctic drilling fleet to dock in Seattle. He said the votes
against the Shell drill from coming her was “symbolism at the
expense of the middle class.”
“I will never take a position that does nothing for the
environment, but costs middle class jobs,” he said.
The Arctic drilling exploration had already been approved by the
Obama administration, he said, and the there was no threat from the
rigs that were here. He said his first question in any issue like
this would be whether it could damage the Puget Sound. “If there
was any chance of an oil spill I would have been out in a
Bryant is critical of Inslee’s cap-and-trade proposal, saying it
would influence local companies to relocate. That, he said, would
mean Washington’s air would be cleaner, but because those companies
would be operating in places with more lax standards, the planet
would not be cleaner. He favors instead incentives to companies to
offer new technology to operate with less pollution. That also
means encouraging hydro power.
On education Bryant favors diverting some juniors and seniors
out of traditional high school curriculum in favor of training them
for jobs that pay well and don’t require traditional college
training. He said there are jobs on the Seattle waterfront that
meet that standard, offering middle class wages after 18 months of
learning on the job. He said owners of some companies are leaving
the state in part because of the regulatory environment, but also
because there isn’t a readily available workforce.
So far Bryant has raised about $422,000 and spent $73,000,
according to Public Disclosure Commission documents. Inslee has
raised $1.4 million and spent $1 million. Another Republican
candidate, Javier Lopez, has not raised or spent any money.
The question lives on over whether an operating permit for a gun
club is an issue of safety or land use. Wednesday morning lawyers
for the county and the Kitsap Rifle and Revolver Club made their
arguments in front of a Court of Appeals commissioner in
The club is appealing the preliminary injunction that stopped
shooting at the Seabeck Highway property in
April. Commissioner Eric Schmidt said he hoped to have a
written decision on the appeal before a Kitsap Superior Court
hearing on whether to make the preliminary injunction permanent
until the club files for an operating permit. What’s in place now
is an emergency measure.
Dennis Reynolds, speaking for the club, told Schmidt the
club believes the operating permit, which he referred to as a
“special use” permit is essentially the same as a conditional use
permit, which makes it a land use issue. As such, he said, the
county doesn’t have the right to stop operations at the club for
noncompliance with the new law, unless it can show what the
legal world calls “great injury.” He said the injunction
should not be in place until the courts sort out how the new law
should be enforced. “Right now we have a club that’s effectively
put out of business,” Reynolds said.
The land use issue has been effective before on another court
involving the same two parties. An earlier Court of Appeals
ruling agreed with a Pierce County Judge that the club was a
“public nuisance,” because it had expanded beyond what it had been
granted under a conditional use permit, but disagreed with that
judge that shutting the club down was the right remedy.
The county argues that the conditional use permit and the
operating permit are separate issues. Christy Palmer, deputy
prosecutor said the conditional use permit deals with zoning, while
the operating permit deals with safety. “We want to ensure the
safety of the community. We want to make sure bullets don’t leave
the range,” she said.
An operating permit would require the club to show, using
descriptions and drawings, how it will maintain a safe range. The
Poulsbo Sportsman Club applied and, last I heard, was one drawing
short of approval, but is still in operation. KRRC didn’t apply,
which is why they’re not allowed to be in business, Palmer
Reynolds, who earlier said the club had lots of respect for
Kitsap Superior Court Judge Jay Roof and that it took its time
considering whether to appeal, later in the hearing questioned
whether Roof had been able to rule fairly. The club has taken issue
with the comments Roof made in April when he rendered his decision,
saying he had been threatened and praising the County Prosecutor
Tina Robinson for thinking beyond politics in seeking the
On Tuesday we posted a story showing voter turnout in
Kitsap County at right around 12 percent as of Monday.
With Tuesday numbers we’re now at about 13.2 percent,
according to data released by the Washington Secretary of State’s
As low as our turnout is, across the state it is worse at
10.2 percent. That does include incomplete data from a couple
of counties. Okanogan County is so far reporting that out of 5,357
ballots sent out for two primary races, only three ballots have
been returned. The Secretary of State’s Office confirms that number
is incorrect, but the correct number won’t be reported until
The only county larger than Kitsap that has higher turnout is
Spokane County, which as of Tuesday is at 15.6 percent. King County
turnout is at 8.3 percent. Pierce is at 7.5.
Douglas County is the highest at 41.6 percent, but that’s among
322 votes. Jefferson County is at 22 percent and Mason is at 18.4
Secretary of State Kim Wyman predicted 26 percent turnout, but
as we pointed out in Tuesday’s story, if April is any indicator we
are two-thirds the way of where we will be by next Tuesday, which
would put the state’s projected total at about 16 percent. It will
take a significant late run across the state to beat that.
Here are the state numbers county-by-county, with the total,
Kitsap and its neighbor counties highlighted. Five counties are not
included because they do not have primaries.
If you have been paying attention at all to politics lately it
has either been for the primary we have going on right now or for
the presidential election next year. We do have candidates running
for governor in 2016, however, and two of them have a connection
that at least one of them didn’t know about.
Bill Bryant, the first person to officially throw his name in
the ring running for Washington governor in 2016, is in town
for Whaling Days this weekend, invited by friends here. He stopped
by the office to meet us and to talk about his thoughts on
what a governor should do. We’re assuming incumbent Gov. Jay
Inslee, a Bainbridge Island Democrat, is running, too, unless he
has other plans. We asked once, but he didn’t confirm or deny.
Bryant grew up in Hoodsport, then Olympia, went to college at
Georgetown and returned to Washington, where he runs an
international trade company in Seattle . He is also a
commissioner for the Port of Seattle.
Republicans haven’t had one of their own in the governor’s
office since John Spellman left the office in 1985. Bryant believes
he can win because he will do better than other Republicans have in
Seattle, having represented the city for the port. We’ll get to the
issues later next week.
Make no mistake, Bryant cites big differences between
himself and the governor. But in 1994, when Inslee was
running for a second term in Congress from Yakima, Bryant was one
of his contributors. According to the campaign finance tracking
site OpenSecrets.org, Bryant gave Inslee $500. Inslee lost
that campaign as part of the Republican Party’s “Contract with
America,” then moved to Bainbridge Island, and a few years later
began a new Congressional career.
Bryant didn’t remember contributing to the campaign, but said
that in his business he was working with international
governments, the Washington apple industry and government
officials, including Inslee, to open up foreign markets for the
state’s signature crop. He said he probably had a friend who
invited him to a fundraiser and that he likely made a
In 2009 he gave another $500 to Democrat Patty Murray for her
U.S. Senate re-election bid against Republican Dino Rossi, though
he voted for Rossi, he said. Bryant has contributed often to
political campaigns, most often, but not always, to Republican
candidates. He financially supported Rossi’s runs for governor,
John McCain’s 2008 presidential run and George W. Bush during both
of his campaigns.
Next week I’ll write more about the visit and will discuss the
encouragement to run he received from 25 House Republicans,
including three from the Kitsap Caucus.
If you ever wondered what the Federal Election Commission does,
for the last few years it’s pretty much been not much, if
That’s troubling to some and not others. Troubling to many
because the agency is charged with being the referee when it
comes to campaign finance. With a presidential election on the
horizon the agency’s oversight of the millions raised and spent
could play a factor in the race. Others say the agency’s inertia is
just fine, that things should be obviously bad before the agency
determines money was raised or spent in violation of federal
U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor, takes the view that
gridlock on the commission is hurting democracy. He introduced a
bill, nabbing a couple of Republicans to join him that would make
it easier for the commission to make a decision, something it
hasn’t found easy to do for some time now.
The FEC was created in 1975 as a response to the Watergate
scandal. Election violation questions go to the commission. To
prevent partisan decision-making on the oversight board Congress
decided to have it made up of three from each of the two major
parties. In the past the commission has been able to make decisions
by breaking ties on a regular basis. Not so much lately.
The commission has become so clearly divided that for a
party celebrating the organization’s 40-year anniversary,
commissioners could agree whether to sever bagels or doughnuts,
according to a New York Times piece that goes to
painful detail into how dysfunctional the commission is. Members
compromised and provided both, a rare act of the commission
actually accomplishing something.
Kilmer would change that by changing the makeup of the
commission to two from each party and one non-partisan
representative. Finding a non-partisan is possible, and the concept
appears to have worked with Washington’s Redistricting
There is reason to suspect the bill won’t go far. Despite the
appearance of two Republicans as cosponsors, party members
generally are not inclined to do something to make the commission
more active. The Times piece illustrates this.
Republican members of the commission see no
such crisis. They say they are comfortable with how things are
working under the structure that gives each party three votes. No
action at all, they say, is better than overly aggressive steps
that could chill political speech.
“Congress set this place up to gridlock,”
Lee E. Goodman, a Republican commissioner, said in an interview.
“This agency is functioning as Congress intended. The democracy
isn’t collapsing around us.”
And a Time Magazine piece (Kilmer is quoted
in the article.) detailing how the agency can’t even hire a lead
attorney seems to make the same case that getting this to the
President’s desk is going to be a tough sell.
GovTrack.US gives the bill a 2 percent chance
of becoming law.
We’ve had conversations about offensive words and phrases here
before. This On the Media segment offered
what I thought was a new angle. Someone wants to trademark a phrase
some would consider offensive, but it’s happening at the same time
that NFL team from Washington, DC was rebuffed in its efforts. If
that hadn’t been happening, my guess is this request would have
In competing press releases sent out on Tuesday Tim Sheldon
takes teachers to task for missing work for a strike and for not
using a strike day to come to Olympia. Washington State
Democrats say that’s Sheldon operating under a “Do as I say, not as
I do,” program, citing his absences from county meetings.
With final filing results in there are 13 races in which no one
expressed an interest in running. As much as it might offend your
sense of public participation in democracy, this is probably a
For example, three of the races are for the Crystal Springs
Water District. All three commissioner positions are available and
no one has applied. What this means, assuming that continues
through next Friday, is that all three positions will go to whoever
is in office now.
I don’t know exactly how many customers the water district has,
but it can’t be many. In 2011, according to a Washington State
Auditor’s Office report, the district reported $3,840 in
Since local agencies participating in elections have to pay
their share for them, a public agency taking in less than $4,000 in
revenues is probably not going to be criticized by its constituents
for avoiding the election completely. If someone gets tired of
being commissioner, that commissioner can quit. The other two board
members can go through the process of picking a new one, and then
that commissioner can fail to file to run forever and still keep
the job for life.
As long as everyone in the district agrees to avoid elections at
all costs and because of all costs, this works out. I haven’t
talked to anyone at Crystal Springs, or at the Old Bangor Water
District, which also has three positions available, or the Port of
Waterman, which has two spots in play. I can’t say they’re doing
what I’m suggesting could be done. I am saying they probably are
and that it’s probably OK with everyone who lives there. Someone
can prove me wrong by filing to run.
countywide organization that gets local governments working as
a team in a quest for federal and state dollars could be on the
verge of a losing its biggest city.
On Tuesday the executive board of the Kitsap Regional
Coordinating Council voted 8-4 to maintain the status quo in
determining how best to develop countywide policy when it comes to
voting. This concluded, according to Poulsbo Mayor Becky
Erickson, 16 months of disagreement primarily between
representatives from Kitsap County and the city of Bremerton.
It’s possible that vote could spell the end of Bremerton’s
membership in KRCC. Greg Wheeler, Bremerton City Council
president, said this is sure to be a big topic at the council’s May
13 study session.
And in the end, no matter what happened Tuesday or what happens
in the future, no one besides those in government might notice a
tangible difference. This is a bigtime inside baseball dispute
we in the newsroom were not sure was worth covering, because it was
potentially inconsequential no matter how the board or the city
Under the existing interlocal agreement among the KRCC
members, for any policy measure to pass there must be a quorum
present and two county commissioners must vote “yes” and at least
two cities must have a majority voting “yes” as well. All three
county commissioners are members of the board. Bremerton has three
members, Bainbridge Island, Port Orchard and Poulsbo each
have two and the Port of Bremerton has one.
At Monday’s KRCC meeting Bremerton City Council President Greg
Wheeler said the Bremerton City Council was not comfortable with
what he called the county controlling the process. He made a
motion to change the voting requirement to a regular quorum. In
that situation, if no county commissioners were in favor of a
proposal but everyone else in the room was, motion carries.
Rob Gelder, county commissioner, said the county was the one
agency in the room representing every resident of the county. And
even if all the incorporated areas were taken out of the county’s
resident count, it still represents two-thirds of the county’s
residents, those who live in unincorporated areas. Furthermore, he
argued, the county can’t act unilaterally, because two cities have
to be on board for any measure to pass.
KRCC acts as a local conglomerate of interests designed to
coordinate pursuit of state and federal funding. The group sets
priorities and then acts more or less in unison with the Puget
Sound Regional Council or the Legislature. It’s not always exactly
like that, because as Wheeler said every member of either KRCC or
PSRC is there to represent their government’s interest, but for the
most part the group operates as if working as a team nets better
results than trying to go it alone.
Wheeler said the issue first arose when in response to KRCC
Executive Manager Mary McClure’s decision to retire. She was
working for KRCC as a contractor and there was some talk of hiring
staff instead. As part of that consideration the way local agencies
paid for membership also came up. Wheeler said the cost of having a
staff went up a lot, and the reconfiguration of the funding formula
hit Bremerton pretty hard.
KRCC pulled the funding question, but the board voting formula
remained an issue for Bremerton.
That’s not universal. Patty Lent, Bremerton’s mayor, said
Tuesday she was against the motion forwarded by her city’s
council and voted against it.
Port Orchard Mayor Tim Matthes, Port Orchard mayor, supported
it, saying he didn’t think anyone would take advantage of the
process. “We’ve been so cooperative, so I don’t see this little
change making a difference,” he said.
Erickson disagreed, saying the KRCC board had been arguing these
issues for 16 months. “We don’t get along very well,” she said. She
said the change could eliminate the county’s voice completely,
even though it represented everyone.
A hybrid proposal would have kept the current quorum
requirements in place for major policy issues, but gone to a more
simple quorum process for smaller matters.
Ed Wolfe, county commissioner, said he applauded the
steadfastness and passion of Bremerton, but voted against the
proposal. His biggest argument was that the issue has to stop
taking up any more time. “It’s time to put this to bed and get on
with the people’s business,” he said.
The “yes” voters included Wheeler, Daugs, Matthes and Axel
Strakeljahn, Port of Bremerton commissioner.
The “no” votes came from Gelder, Wolfe, Lent, Erickson Poulsbo
City Councilman Ed Stern, Bainbridge Island City
Council members Anne Blair and Wayne Roth and Port
Orchard City Councilman Jeff Cartwright.
Charlotte Garrido, county commissioner, was absent from the
Wheeler said Bremerton leaving KRCC is on the table, but
said even if the city does leave it doesn’t mean it won’t still
work in cooperation with the county’s other agencies. Should the
city decide to quit its KRCC membership, it would take six months
under the KRCC agreement to completely sever the tie, so the
organization and the city wouldn’t be free of each other until the
end of the year at the earliest.
KING-5 TV has some pretty strong evidence that
Lt. Gov. Brad Owen, who represented the 24th and 35th Legislative
Districts in the Legislature for 20 years, is considering
retirement at the end of this term. Owen’s office is not giving any
public clues, but the station got emails through public records
requests that make the case retirement is a real possibility. And
there’s the rationale for keeping that consideration mum:
(Owen aide Ken) “Camp recommends not announcing plans to retire
as it could result in the office losing some of its funding:
‘Another consideration is that if we let them know you’re
definitely retiring, the Governor and the Legislature may try to
reduce the budget. I’m not a fan of telling OFM [Office of
Financial Management] that you’re retiring at this point so that
they don’t have a reason to cut our budget and because if we
formally tell people you’re retiring they’ll just start writing you
off and making you irrelevant.'”
Owen’s Lt. Gov. bio mentions that he’s been in office since
getting elected in 1996. He lives in Shelton and represented the
24th Legislative District in the House from 1977 to 1983 and the
35th Legislative District in the Senate from 1983 to 1997. When he
left the Senate after getting elected as lieutenant governor, he
was replaced by party appointment by Lena Swanson, who then lost
the next election to Tim Sheldon.
The job entails acting as governor while the governor is away,
being president of the Senate and taking a large role in the
state’s international trade missions.
The Los Angeles Times has an informative piece showing
why Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton have one clear edge in seeking the
presidential nomination from their parties.
Because neither are currently working for any government,
they’re free to pile up money using Super PACs as long they don’t
say that they are running for president. For Clinton, who for the
time being seems to be the only serious contender on the Democratic
side, this could be a moot issue until she emerges as the
For Bush it’s a bigger deal, because as of right now the
Republican field is competitive. To his advantage is that the other
main contenders all have government jobs.
“Bush did declare he would impose a total cap on how much each
donor could contribute, according to the Washington Post. But it
wasn’t the $5,000 maximum that those in the race are limited to
asking for by law. It was $1 million.”
Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul are all prohibited from
coordinating with Super PACs. The governors, Chris Christie and
Scott Walker, might have state rules prohibiting them from raising
money from organizations that do business with their states.
Bush is under no restriction, he believes. The Federal Elections
Commission could argue otherwise, but critics contend it doesn’t do
that often enough.
UPDATE: Turns out Ted Cruz has proven adept at raising money, at least the
Super PACs supporting him have. The Washington Post reports the
Super PACs supporting Cruz $31 million in a week.
On Friday some activists got on their iPhones and agreed that on
Saturday they’d throw on their Wolverine work boots to beat
tracks down to Olympia to protest the “communist” Chinese flag
flying on the capitol campus.
I first learned of the controversy from a Facebook thread
started by Mason County Republican Party Chairman Travis Couture,
who asked, “So can someone please explain to me why the hell we are
flying a communist Chinese flag at our capitol? (Rhetorical) We
cant have a ‘Christmas’ tree or a Gadson flag but we can have a
As for the tree question, that call is made by the Association
of Washington Business, because it’s their tree and it’s part of a
fundraiser they’ve been doing for kids for 26 years, according to
this story from the (Spokane)
The governor’s office answered that the flag was up because
there was a delegation visiting from China and that the flag was
removed after they left. The same was done earlier this year when
delegations from Austria and Finland were here. On Monday the flag
of Scotland was raised in honor of Tartan Day.
The video in one of the links above shows the flag being
lowered, with a couple of Gadsden-flag bearing witnesses and a
voice on one of the videos saying, “This is what happens when
America speaks.” That the activists had anything to do with the
flag’s removal is questionable, but not completely clear to me.
First of all, it looks to me that the state staff removed it, not
some roving gang of patriots. The guy has a specific tool to lower
the thing. It all looks quite orderly. Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman
for the governor, said it was state personnel that removed it. But
she also told Huffington Post, “Our state’s
Department of Enterprise Services was going to lower the flag
shortly after that anyway.” The “anyway” in that statement makes me
wonder if even if the protesters didn’t remove it themselves, if
the lowering was expedited by the complaints. She clarified in an
email to me later that, “The flag would have been lowered anyhow,
was my point to HuffPo.”
China makes products we use, like boots, phones, most of our
shoes, other clothing and even, according to one Amazon reviewer,
Gadsden flags. (That’s the one
with the snake and the “Don’t Tread on Me” mantra.) We as a nation
also owe China, or the Chinese, a lot of money. I can’t argue
whether it’s a good idea to fly any other nation’s flag at our
capitol campus, but if you’re going to, how do you decide which
nation to exclude?
And obviously I don’t know what kind of phones the protesters
use or the boots they wore, but they might want to check the
labels, even on those flags.
UPDATE: I asked state officials from the governor’s office and
from the Department of Enterprise Services some additional info.
Some on Facebook are asking about flag protocol.
Smith sent me a list of other nations’ flags that have flown in
the same place for the same reasons. Here they are.
United Kingdom 2014
Japan 2013 and 2014
We also received a detailed explanation from Smith on the flag’s
placement and the criteria for when a foreign flag gets raised.
“We fly the flag of a foreign country in the Flag Circle when a
high level government representative of a country recognized by our
government meets with a statewide official. Countries like Iran and
North Korea are not recognized and we would not fly their national
flag under any circumstance.
“The US government formally recognizes countries. A state does
not. In 1980 the United States formally recognized the People’s
Republic of China.
“International flag standards and the flag code of the United
States specifically state that the flags of sovereign nations need
to be flown from separate staffs and at equal height. No national
flag should be higher than any other national flag. State flags and
banners are different.
“When the US and other national flags are flown together, the
U.S. flag should be in the position of honor and to the right of
other flags. We orient our flags to the north steps of the
Legislative building as the prominent feature of the most
significant building. So looking at the flags from the steps, the
U.S. flag is always to the right and a foreign flag is to its left.
If you look at the flags from the Temple of Justice, however, it
looks backwards. The flags have been oriented in this way for more
than 20 years. With the flags in the conference room they are
oriented to whomever is speaking at the podium, so to the speaker’s
right, but audience’s left.”
Regarding the lowering of the flag, I’ve got a second person
saying it was state staff that removed the flag during a normal
course of duty. Linda Kent from DES sent the following.
“DES received an email Friday afternoon from the Governor’s
office informing us that the Chinese ambassador had departed, and
that the flag could be taken down. The email also contained a
reminder that the Scottish flag should be put up by Monday
“In the past, there has not been a specific time frame for flags
to come down. Basically the building and grounds crew works the
changing of flags in between other duties on the Capitol
I agree with one critic who said we have bigger issues to worry
about. My reason for diving in has much to do with Fox News’
coverage, which was shown Monday on the show “Fox and Friends.” The
coverage obviously involves no original reporting and seems to rely
solely on the accounts offered on sites like Gateway Pundit.
Somehow I expect more from the news organization with the tagline
“Fair & Balanced,” and the one that can legitimately brag that it is
the most trusted news network in the nation.
Senate Republicans offer a tuition cut and reject a collective
bargaining agreement the governor’s office reached with state
employees. The party then offers $1,000 per year to all state
employees. A statement issued by the Washington Federation of State
Employees argues that the Legislature can reject an agreement, but
not make a new proposal.
“If contracts are rejected, the process calls for a return to
negotiations. In this instance, Senate budget writers have
by-passed our rights by instead authorizing flat raises of $1000
per full-time employee (prorated for part-time positions) per year
of the two-year biennium. Under the collective bargaining statute,
they cannot offer alternatives. In this case, the Senate has
offered an alternative that is illegal under the law.”
State Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, highlights the “no new
taxes” feature of the Republican budget, making no mention of the
state employee clause. State Sen. Tim Sheldon, the Potlatch
Democrat who caucuses with the Republicans, also highlighted the
“no new taxes” feature of the Senate budget, but also addressed the
collective bargaining rejection. He said the budget, “Provides a
flat $2,000 annual cost-of-living increase for state employees –
meaning 25,000 state workers will see a larger increase than under
agreements bargained between the governor’s office and public
It took a while, but
we heard back from state Sen. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, regarding
an email blast Friday critical of her from initiative guru Tim
This issue comes from a bill Angel cosponsored with
two other Republicans and a Democrat. It passed 41-8 in the Senate
earlier this month, with all three Kitsap senators voting in favor.
All but one of the eight who voted “no” were Republicans. That’s
seven Republicans voting, “no,” which means 18 favor the bill.
The legislation is in the House now.
The bill would require that any initiative that the
state budget office determines will either add more than $25
million in costs or cut more than $25 million in revenues to the
state have the following statement added to the initiative title on
the ballot, “The state budget office has determined that this
proposal would have an unfunded net impact of [amount] on the state
general fund. This means other state spending may need to be
reduced or taxes increased to implement the proposal.”
Eyman said the emails reveal Angel’s true intent was
to stop some initiatives from happening, naming possible voter
actions authored by the Washington Education Association and the
Service Employees International Union.
“This is extremely disturbing. Having legislators plotting and scheming to
‘stop’ certain initiatives ‘from getting on the ballot’ is a gross
abuse of power. It doesn’t
matter whether it is politicians conniving to block liberal
initiatives or politicians scheming to undermine conservative
initiatives,” Eyman wrote.
Angel responded by email saying, “I am a co-sponsor
of this bipartisan bill SB5715 which is a ‘transparency’
issue for the voter to help make a decision when voting. It
passed in a strong bipartisan fashion off the Senate floor with a
vote of 41-8. The ballot title would include a fiscal note
only under certain circumstances and doesn’t affect the citizen
initiative process at all.”
What follows is Eyman’s email blast to supporters and
reporters, Angel’s response and video from Wednesday’s House
There was far more material than I could use in the story about
the passing of Adele Ferguson. Here are some more comments I think
you’ll enjoy. There could be a few more. I received some written
stories, but I’m double-checking to make sure the writers would be
fine with me including them. Check back. They’re good ones.
“I always liked Adele because she would stab me in the front.” —
Former Gov. Dan Evans. This quote actually was told to me by David
Ammons, former AP statehouse reporter now with the Secretary of
State’s office, but Evans confirmed that he said it.
“She was the den mother in a moveable feast. She was absolutely
hilarious; I’ve never known a better story teller.” John Hughes,
former editor of the Aberdeen Daily World, now overseeing the
Secretary of State’s Legacy Project.
“They called her’Senator Adele,'” Rachel Pritchett, former
Kitsap Sun reporter who met Adele in the 1980s. Pritchett was a
communications staff member in the state Senate at the time.
“She was tough as nails, but she was also very feminine and
dressed smartly. She was not feminist in the modern sense of the
word. She pushed for the right for women reporters to wear pants on
the floor.” — David Ammons
“She was a phenomenal asset to Bremerton. She defended Bremerton
and she defended the Navy to the hilt.” — Ralph Munro, former
Washington Secretary of State
“Adele was great. She could swear and drink with the
best of the backroom politicians. I remember one time
late in Warren G. Magnuson’s career he came into the office
assisted by two of his aides. They had hold of each of his elbows
so he wouldn’t fall down. He stopped right next to my desk to
steady himself and catch his breath. He still had about 30 feet to
go to get to Adele’s office and made it in another couple minutes.
The next day in her column Adele called Magnuson ‘robust and
healthy.’ That was so far from the truth, but only Adele could get
away with that. All the top politicians made appearances in her
office. She was one of a kind, and I really liked her and got along
great with her because she called them like she saw them, except
for Warren G.)” — Terry Mosher, former Kitsap Sun reporter
“She was the only media person who sat through the Gamscam trial
from day one to day end, so she had an opportunity of hearing all
the testimony and listening to the various witnesses. She was a
steadfast in my defense in that time and continued to be so.” —
Gordon Walgren, former state legislator who served about two years
in prison in connection with the Gamscam scandal.
“She was such a person of such stature. The Kitsap Sun should be
so proud.” Rachel Pritchett.
“She never did go for a tape recorder to record. She was about
the last reporter who depended on her own shorthand, but she easily
the most accurate reporter that covered me.” — Dan Evans
“Adele could punish when she thought you did something wrong.
Several times she would lay me out, but we were always friends.”
Norm Dicks, former congressman.
“She was bigger than life for me when I was very young.” —
“She gave as good as she got. She was deliciously bawdy and
funny. Boy could she write.” — John Hughes.
“She had more insight in the capitol building than anyone, by
far. She could smell a story two or three days before the next guy
knew there was even one coming.” — Ralph Munro
“At times she would be salty. She could be critical, but she was
always fair.” — Norm Dicks
“Feisty. Opinionated. Conservative. She had her own ideas and
carried them out as best she could. Most of all she was a good
friend.” — Gordon Walgren
“If Lehman (John Lehman, former secretary of the Navy) was at
the Rotary or the Chamber of Commerce and he and I had gone fishing
that day, she wanted to know all the details.” Norm Dicks,
explaining Adele’s love of salmon fishing.
Dan Evans said Adele was covering an event in Washington, D.C.
and was sitting next to him. A button came off his sport coat. She
looked in her purse and found a sewing kit and sewed the button
back on. “It was the last thing you would expect out of adele. She
said, ‘You tell anybody about this and I’ll kill you.'”
“I was sitting next to her. I asked her what it would take to
get onto the Bremerton Sun. She said, ‘Not much, apparently.” —
One of Adele’s fellow Olympia reporters was on deadline to send
in a column, but “he was so drunk there was no way he could have
written that column.” Adele said, “‘I wrote the column for him. I
knew how he wrote.’ I don’t think you could get away with that
nowadays.” — Dan Evans
“She would invite people into her office and say, ‘Don’t sit
down.” — Rachel Pritchett
When I got to spend those four days up there, (Hughes
interviewed Adele over four days for the Legacy Project oral
history about Adele. about the fourth day I decided it would not be
imprudent. I allowed myself to have a little beaker; I think it was
MacNaughton’s. I kissed her on the forehead and she said, ‘Don’t be
fresh.’” — John Hughes
“She was a superb political reporter. She feared no one and she
was always up front in her feelings.” Dan Evans
Point of personal privilege: In the first six years I worked for
the Kitsap Sun beginning in 2002 I knew Adele Ferguson mostly
through her columns in the local biweeklies and from her questions
at debates during election season. It was in 2008 that things
changed for me. We attended both county party conventions, offering
coverage for our different publications. Again, she was writing for
the biweeklies. I was writing for the paper she had been the voice
of for almost five decades.
At the Republican convention the party gave her a Barnes &
Noble gift card. I sat next to her at the Democratic convention and
the party didn’t give her any gifts, but several delegates came to
the table to say “Hello” to her. This was the first time I ever had
a lengthy conversation with Adele and I was charmed like you
wouldn’t believe. Maybe if you ever met her you would believe
A few things charmed me. One, she was a vivacious story teller,
and I’m a sucker for stories. Secondly, she had all kinds of
respect from a large number of Democrats that day. Certainly they
didn’t like her politics, but they loved her. Third, she said she
used the gift from the Republicans to buy Barack Obama’s books.
Fourth, for all that she had accomplished she didn’t ever treat me
as anything but a peer, and given her history and all she
accomplished she had every right to act superior.
After that I got to meet with her at her home in Hansville when
the state made her one of three oral history subjects. At other
times I would call her when I needed a quote about someone with
political history here in Washington or for other various reasons.
In every instance she was gracious to me. I know others can’t say
that. I guess I was a lucky one.
It is true that she wrote columns later in life that were
unsupportable. Not that many, but how many does it take? Set that
aside for a moment and consider the woman’s life as a whole. We,
both women and men, walk through doors she opened. It’s hard for me
to imagine some of our open government laws existing without
reporters like Adele Ferguson, who called nonsense on secrecy.
Women, particularly journalists, owe their opportunities to Adele
and others like her.
I’m 53 and I enjoy political reporting, but I’m content in the
reality that my chances of ever filling Adele’s shoes as a
political reporter are slim. Perhaps that time has passed for
anyone, but even if it hasn’t it would be akin to matching the
greatness of a Willie Mays or Sandy Koufax. She meant that much.
For me, even though Adele will be remembered generally for her
work as a political reporter, I’ll remember her most through two
stories she told me at that Democratic convention. From that moment
on I was a fan. She also told them to John Hughes, who wrote her
biography and oral history for the state’s Legacy Project. Those
stories will conclude this insufficient memorial. Allow me to add
one more thing. I’m really going to miss Adele. I feel lucky that I
ever got to meet her.