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Obama Sends Thanks

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

President Barack Obama sent me a personally addressed happy Thanksgiving Day message in the most intimate way available these days, via an e-mail from one of his advisers. He’s still not giving me his personal address, the one that goes to the BlackBerry.

It is personal, though. It says “Steven –” at the top, which is very difficult to fake. And he knows how much I love to see two hyphens right next to each other. It gets me to prattling away and making everything all oogy.

He talks about how Americans will be sitting down together, counting blessing, giving thanks, overeating, renewing old feuds and restraining orders, laughing at the Detroit Lions and the Oakland Raiders, etc.

Eventually he starts writing about people who can’t break bread with family because they’re overseas or working “second” jobs. Apparently he has no sympathy for those whose “first” jobs require them to work tomorrow, like cops, convenience store clerks, criminals and South Kitsap reporters. Frankly I didn’t know there were any second jobs available.

Fortunately, Diamond Parking is taking the day off, so Chris Henry can park out in front of the building.

Finally, the president gets really personal, and not in an offensive way. He didn’t bring up that open wound I still have from that surgery in March, or my weight. He did write:

“You have been there through victories and setbacks. You have given of yourselves beyond measure. You have enabled all that we have accomplished — and you have had the courage to dream yet bigger dreams for what we can still achieve.”

Yep. I still dream of another championship for the Los Angeles Dodgers, and that those Warren Avenue parents (present company excluded) would stop complaining about my friends in North Perry.

You can read the president’s message after the jump and pretend he sent it you. That’s my Thanksgiving Day gift to you.

(more…)


Off Topic – A Video

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Saturday was dominated by the report of the fire that destroyed a home and, at the time it seemed, a life. We’ve learned since the woman probably died before the fire.

Paymela Jean Long went by Paymela Faye on stage. While trying to find information on her and the band she was in, Whatta Band, I found the following video and talked to the man who posted it. It seemed a poignant discovery on Saturday.

Her obituary is online now.


State Insurance Boss Warns Against Flood Claim Denial

Tuesday, October 20th, 2009

Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler issued a public statement Monday warning insurance companies not to fall back on the “governmental action” reason to deny claims related to the Howard Hanson Dam.

The Army Corps of Engineers has warned it may have to release more water than usual this winter, because the earthen dam has structural weaknesses. That flow of water could flood the Green River Valley below, which means flood insurance claims would be on the rise.

Kreidler argues that though the government would be ordering the release of water, it would be because of excessive rains. Any home damage caused by the potential flood would not be the purpose of the “governmental action,” rather it would be the possible result. The purpose would be to save the dam.

One candidate for Bremerton mayor, by the way, has argued that we should be trying to get businesses in that area to come to SKIA. (And though that is a local angle, that’s not why I posted the news from the state. I just think it will be interesting to stay tuned if something happens. Let’s pray nothing does.)

The commissioner’s press release follows the jump.

(more…)


President To Wildfire: ‘Let’s Talk’

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009


Obama To Enter Diplomatic Talks With Raging Wildfire


Now THIS Is Voter Fraud

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

The (Everett) Herald is reporting a woman over there is being convicted of sending in her son’s ballot six times.

In this case, detectives met with the suspect’s son. He told them he hadn’t voted or signed the ballot. He said he had never seen the ballot. He had been in jail when the ballot was mailed to his mother’s address, court papers said.

She also voted in Skagit Valley, even though she lived in Marysville.


Immersed in a Giant Pool of Money

Friday, October 2nd, 2009

A year ago we would stare at quarters and wonder if we’d ever have another.

Some of us probably still could.

National Public Radio did a nice thing last weekend, following up on an earlier show that ably and entertainingly explained how the global economic collapse happened, and towards the end explains why we’re not out of it yet, how governments helped the crisis from getting worse, but can never do enough to lift the entire world out of the hole completely.

Got an hour? Listen to the “This American Life” show in its Return To The Giant Pool of Money.


Political Junkies Rejoice!

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

In the course of doing this blog I’ve tried to point out stories from other publications you might be interested in. That’s why you get those links up top, the Kitsap Reader.

Yesterday I signed up to get daily e-mails from a new site called WashBucket (http://www.washbucket.net/) that sends out a list of Washington political stories generated by the state’s newspapers throughout the day.

So far I haven’t noticed any outright partisanship to it, just a catalog of stories for those interested in staying informed, fully capitalizing on the technology available to us.

It’s a new site. I hope it, or something like it, is successful.


Favorite Facebook Update Ever

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

From a friend: “Each morning a man stands at the corner of 3rd and Pike and shouts at the USA Today box, which I appreciate. If he didn’t do it someone else would have to.”


Gun Ban Deja Vu

Monday, September 21st, 2009

Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels’ proposal to ban guns in city parks reminded me of our experience here with gun bans.

The mayor’s proposal would ban firearms, period, from more than 500 city parks and recreation facilities.

Kitsap County had a ban against openly carrying firearms in parks, but repealed it in July.

TheEither restriction runs afoul of state law, according to Washington Attorney General Rob McKenna.


Kitsap Caucus Gets Some Love

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

NOTE: It looks like this doesn’t work anymore. For those of you who didn’t get to enjoy it, clicking on the link would reveal our site, but had a huge image of Kanye West over it saying Beyonce had the best Web site of all time.

Wow! I’m touched. We got some pretty cool feedback about the Kitsap Caucus, from a source I would never have expected to be reading it. To see it, go here.


Smile for the Cameras in Medina

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

People complain about Bremerton’s “Big Brother” in the form of red-light cameras. How about Medina?

The Seattle Times reports cameras read the license plates of every car coming into town.

If a hit comes up for a felony — say, the vehicle was reported stolen or is being driven by a homicide suspect — the information is transmitted instantaneously to police, who can “leap into action,” said Police Chief Jeffrey Chen.


Eyman, Reed Square Off on Public Records

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

Washington’s initiative guy, Tim Eyman, sent out a press release earlier today stating that the Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed has been “perpetuating a fraud” when it comes to revealing names on petitions.

Eyman said Reed’s reaction to a recent court ruling was an “misinformation campaign” that “whipped into a frenzy our state’s newspaper editorial boards, journalists, columnists, the gay rights community, the faith community, and regular citizens over the past few months during this fight over Referendum 71.”

That referendum would have voters decide whether domestic partners should enjoy all the legal rights married people do, without calling their partnerships marriage.

Reed, through his Deputy Communications Director Brian Zylstra, fired back without using words like “misinformation,” though he did use the word “truncated” with some effect.

Eyman is arguing state law has not been to have all the information on petitions made subject to open records law. He wrote that between 1972 and 2000 names were considered personal information and not subject to disclosure. He further stated Reed didn’t change the policy until 2006, when opponents of Eyman’s I-917 made a request for the records, the state made copies onto a compact disc and handed them over. Eyman says Reed broke the law in doing so.

That’s not so, says Zylstra. Personal information was not subject to disclosure, he argues, between 1972 (when voters supported the Public Records Act) and 1998, when the state Attorney General (that would be Chris Gregoire) said all information should be.

However, the state was charging 10 cents a copy, so “it could cost an individual or group thousands of dollars to pay for a paper copy of the petition,” Zylstra wrote. So until 2006, no one asked. That was when the state started making those copies available on CD.

“The policy shift on petition sheets in the ‘90s wasn’t made to harm initiative or referendum sponsors but to comply with the Public Records Act. As our office has said before, initiatives and referenda are attempts to change state law. Such attempts shouldn’t be hidden from public view. That being the case, when someone signs a petition sheet, they are playing a critical role in trying to change state law, so the information on these sheets should be made public if requested,” wrote Zylstra.

Then, in response to Eyman’s “truncated” section of state law, Reed’s office provided larger context.

You can read both e-mails after the jump.

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Mojo Missing

Wednesday, September 16th, 2009

I gotta get back to business, here, hoo-boy. The county commissioners are not meeting for a couple weeks. I can’t keep drilling on health care reform. I have some stories for this weekend, including one that will show you how Bremerton (or Port Orchard or Poulsbo and in theory Bainbridge Island) could annex property with owners getting no way to fight it. But the story isn’t ready yet.

Lary Coppola has on his blog some fun calculations on Cash for Clunkers, but I caution you to not bet on the math. I mean, there’s nothing seriously wrong with the math per se, and the assumptions are probably at least close to accurate. I haven’t bothered to check the data.

It’s just that it isn’t as “simple” as the tale would indicate. There were side benefits beyond the gas savings, things like jobs either created or prolonged. But there were also increased costs, such as cars probably selling for more than they would have or people taking on debt that wasn’t wise, things we probably can’t easily quantify. The Los Angeles Times has a nice story showing all the ways the program may end up being a downer, or nothing better than a short-term fix. Then again, maybe it was awesome. I don’t know.

In the meantime, buy a paper and I’ll try to give you something in it worth reading.


It Really Was ‘Too Beautiful to Live’

Friday, September 11th, 2009

baby-crying-fullSad news came for me today in learning that KIRO’s show “Too Beautiful to Live” was, in fact, too beautiful to live on the radio.

The show will still live online. Host Luke Burbank, producer Jen Andrews and engineer Sean DeTore will broadcast via podcast, but as someone who isn’t quite in the TBTL demographic (I’m late Baby Boomer, which means I’m into facebook, but only Tweet because I have to.) this becomes somewhat of a problem to me.

I was one of those casual listeners. Because I work odd hours, TBTL was often my show when I drove home. Being someone who feasts on meaty news all day, I appreciated Burbanks, Andrews and DeTore intelligently and flippantly taking on issues as mundane as shoes on a wire. I once got choked up over a guy’s devotion to Mr. T. It was the kind of conversation you wanted to have at the end of the day. It was funny, but not in a “Laugh-In” (a Boomer reference) kind of way. It could be gossipy, but not like Perez Hilton.

You don’t get that anywhere else on the radio, except sometimes on the weekends on NPR.

It was because of TBTL that I learned that Bruce Springsteen probably meant “three-legged dog” when he wrote “one-legged dog.” It was also because of TBTL that I finally made sense of my growing aversion to the editorial page, despite my deep admiration for how well some columnists write. (Answer: By the time most columnists have weighed in on something, it’s already been said a million times, except for Leonard Pitts Jr.’s “You monster. You beast. You unspeakable bastard.” He was pretty much ahead of all of us on that one.)

They made me mad, too. I almost quit them once because I wear Crocs in public, even to work sometimes. I also employ a Bluetooth headset, which makes me a doucher (doucher: see also Ryan Seacrest). And when I first heard the show I wasn’t swept up right away. I doubt anyone who listened to the first show was.

But I think I understood what the three of them were trying to do, and I was rooting for them all the way. The show settled into a cool groove and before long I was hooked.

I never went to their parties. I did call the show once to let them know that something dirty they said got played out on the air, but I never e-mailed them. I wasn’t that devoted, but I will say my 2-year-old has learned how to say “C’mon!” like Gob.

The bigger problem for me as someone who works in an old media field is the reality that this show didn’t work on another form of old media. The show’s inability to live adequately in the main stream is frightening to me, a sign of my own potential obsolescence in a world where people are paid for their old skills.

And that is probably why I hope Burbank, Andrews and DeTore thrive online (i.e. make a good living). I fear, however, that I will not adapt quickly enough to enjoy them in what would be a new format for me. This may be the final reason to get that iPod, but I doubt it.

Maybe I’ll get one when I start my own podcast.


An Independence Day Lesson

Monday, July 6th, 2009

It took several hours to make the connection that I was getting perfect perspective for the day we were celebrating. I was at my last assignment for the day, interviewing a couple that would perform the next. Later I was off to a barbecue at friends before going to the ballpark to watch the fireworks.

The message driven home was one I first remember hearing in 1976. America was celebrating its bicentennial then and everyone seemed intent on seeing America. A man at my church talked to us kids and told us if we really wanted to learn about America, we should go see the rest of the world. A few years later I did, living in South America for a time. I saw what he meant.

On my way down and on the way back I flew through the Miami airport. On the way down I thought it was a dump. On the way back I thought it was glorious. Some of that was because I came through a new part of the airport when I came back, but the contrast in perspective was more because of my time away than it was the smell of fresh carpet.

On Saturday I spent a fair amount of time interviewing Ivan and Olive Bisaso, who accompanied the children who sang Sunday at the Central Kitsap Presbyterian Church.

One of the benefits of their trip over here, and other parts of the world, is to take home the good things they notice here. Olive Bisaso was exuberant about the American respect for life. She said we care for everyone, not just the most able. Handicapped people have special stalls for them in bathrooms. The elderly have nice places to live. People when they drive generally obey the signs they read.

She was deadly serious about the last one. A stop sign means little to some drivers in Uganda, she said.

So on July Fourth I received firsthand evidence of how much we have to celebrate and be grateful for just by being born here or moving here. We’ve got problems, no doubt. We focus on them, sometimes so much that we forget some of the good things. We’ve got a spotted history when it comes to how we treat each other. I’ve said this before, though. No one lives up their ideals. Still, this place is great.

Then on Sunday, and Saturday for that matter, I got a message that drove home the “Be it ever so humble” message.

On Sunday, driving back from the Watoto performance, KPLU played three versions of a song called “Tobacco Road.”

I heard some interesting lyrics in the second version, the Muddy Waters rendition, then reheard them from Edgar Winter.

“I despise you ’cause you’re filthy
but I love you ’cause you’re home.”

It made me think of my feelings about Los Angeles. I grew up there, but choose to live here. When I return to Los Angeles, I find it overridden with concrete, the sky dingy and the heat repressive. Still, I love going there. The Pacific Northwest is home by choice. Los Angeles is home by birth, and still feels like home. Good thing both places are in the same country.

When I was in Chile I once joked to a group about that country becoming the 51st of the United States. I was astounded to find out that people there didn’t want that. I envisioned a boatload of problems going away with Chile’s incorporation into the United States. They saw Chile not being Chile.

Ivan Bisaso on Saturday repeated the line “East or West, home is best,” when they talked about how eager the Watoto children were to go home. The kids confirmed it. They wanted to see their mothers.

So, OK, one of the reasons the United States is great is because it’s home. I’ll admit that. Nontheless, I got a great lesson on the Fourth of July that it’s also great here because there’s so much that can be called “good.” In many ways we Americans do live up to the American ideals.


Fox Headline Paints Republicans as Only Victims

Friday, July 3rd, 2009

I generally resist the temptation to get into bashing Fox, or MSNBC, or CNN, Nick News, etc. For one, for me to make a claim of general bias would require extensive studying of said stations’ general news coverage, using up time I’m not willing to relinquish. I wouldn’t want to make any claims without ample evidence, and I’m not willing to take the time to compile it.

Second, I don’t care if Hannity, Matthews, O’Reilly or Olbermann are biased. Their names are on their shows, so I don’t take any of them as gospel. They do throw out ideas worth considering, but always demanding further examination.

Finally, I’m constantly worried about whether I’m in a greenhouse when I warm up my arm.

Nonetheless, I won’t refuse to lob something Fox’s way this time around. To make sure the evidence was there before it got changed, I did a screen grab of the offenses.

First, this is the headline that appears at the top of my browser for a story I was referred to:

fox2

I’m thinking Evergreen and Berkeley. But of course, you’ve got to read on if you want to know the details.

fox1

The subhead makes it clear it’s at two conservative colleges, but continues to only reference the Republicans as the subjects of the bans.

In fact, Democrats at Liberty University and Brigham Young University-Idaho were also demoted to unofficial status on both campuses. To know that, however, you’ve got to go to the body of the story.

fox3

Read the entire story to get the overall context, but even in the rest of the story there is scant attention paid to Democrats. These are both private schools run by churches. The decisions, in the end, were based on the underlying theology of the organizations funding much of the education. At Liberty there were instances on both sides of the clubs endorsing policies or candidates with viewpoints contrary to the school’s religious mission. At BYU-Idaho it was an issue of maintaining political neutrality, though only a few people know what the discussions were like behind closed doors.

In both cases, however, the schools were intent on holding all parties to the same standard. Whether you agree with how the universities chose to be fair is one thing, but it at least affected Republicans and Democrats equally.


Welfare and Food Stamps Not a Bailout

Monday, June 8th, 2009
The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M – Th 11p / 10c
Moment of Zen – Craig T. Nelson on Glenn Beck
thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Economic Crisis

Justin Case you need it explained more clearly why that it is funny, wait for the second item in this Colbert bit.

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Tip/Wag – 4th of July, Craig T. Nelson & GM
colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor Keyboard Cat

We Take Requests

Monday, June 1st, 2009

A reader left me a phone message requesting I look into the local angle on a Wall Street Journal story from Saturday.

The piece goes into the expense accounts members of Congress have. House members get between $1.3 million and $1.9 million. One reason for the disparity is the long distances some House members have compared to others, so let’s assume that travel expenses are part of the kitty. That isn’t so much in question, though. It’s stuff like this:

“Florida Rep. Alcee Hastings spent $24,730 in taxpayer money last year to lease a 2008 luxury Lexus hybrid sedan. Ohio Rep. Michael Turner expensed a $1,435 digital camera. Eni Faleomavaega, the House delegate from American Samoa, bought two 46-inch Sony TVs.”

They don’t get to keep any of the stuff once they leave office, but many, the caller included, would question why so much would be spent on some things.

I called the House’s Office of the Chief Administrative Officer to see how I can get a copy of what our two congressmen spent their own money on.


At Home with a Poet

Wednesday, May 27th, 2009

Off topic alert. As in this post has little to nothing to do with politics, but if you go to the Seattle Times story you can read some political conversation into it.

My first experience with the Pacific Northwest came when I was 11, but it didn’t really take for me until I came up here eight years later in 1981. Turns out I first fell in love with this place in the former home of a poet.

My mother discovered she had a sister up here. Actually it was my aunt who did the discovering. They wrote to each other for a couple years, then Mom went up to visit.

The next year Pauline and David came down to our neighborhood with their two girls, my cousins, to take in Disneyland and some other So-Cal sights. A couple months later we returned the visit. We were going to Utah, by way of Seattle.

We stayed in their home. For us it was considered Seattle. For Seattleites I guess it’s Lake City. It’s an older home set on a fairly busy street, but it has a nice yard, is well maintained and has a classic or traditional feel to it, without feeling stuffy.

The home has a character so lacking in today’s too-perfect houses. The stairways are narrow. The cozy bedrooms upstairs are served by a bathroom with a pitched ceiling so if you stand up too quickly off of the toilet you’ll smack the back of your head. But that house is so, so comfortable.

One night on that first visit I stayed up late and had my first HBO experience. We went to the Ballard Locks and toured the underground city. I dug that express lane that changes directions everyday, thinking Los Angeles should try something like that. The skies were blue most of the time and temps were bearable. I didn’t leave thinking I’d live here, but I sure wanted to come back for lots and lots of visits.

And so, beginning in the mid 1990s, I did. My aunt and uncle still live in the house. I’ve stayed there several times. I stayed there when I was looking for work here. My dad and I were there that weekend for my first Safeco game, the one where Mike Cameron made that catch robbing Derek Jeter of a home run. I can’t count how many times I’ve been back to the locks. Sitting in that house my own family watched my cousin open her wedding presents a day after her wedding and two days before 9/11.

Now that my aunt and uncle are empty nesters, I have asked them if they plan to leave the house, to downsize. She is not so willing. It would make sense to me if they decided to leave, but secretly I’m glad they don’t. It might only be once a year or so I get over there, but apart from my own place here in the woods of University Point it’s where I feel most at home. It’s family, but it’s the house, too.

It turns out that house has a history far predating my relatives. Environmental poet, a Pulitzer Prize winner no less, Gary Snyder grew up in that home. He stopped by the old place Tuesday and the Seattle Times was there with him. Writes Lynda Mapes:

“Back before all the asphalt, the cars and the strip malls, this was a forested glade, where Gary Snyder, the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, would beat a path into the woods to his secret camp, to snug down with the quiet night, dreaming a fifth-grader’s skinned-knee dreams.”

Snyder will be reading poetry at Benaroya Hall tonight. Pauline and David will be there.

I know next to nothing about Snyder’s work. In fact, all I know is what I’ve learned in the last couple of days. But I know some things about that house, about the people who live there now. If, somehow, Snyder’s presence as a boy left a lingering spirit that had an impact on David, Pauline, Michelle and Danielle, then what I’ve seen leads me to believe I better read his stuff. Perhaps what I feel in that home, then, will make even more sense.


Memorial Day Weekend

Friday, May 22nd, 2009

parade

Enjoy your weekend, everyone.

The photo was taken by Carolyn Yaschur, Kitsap Sun photographer at the May 16 Armed Forces Parade in Bremerton.


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