Thursday, July 31, 2008
"This is yet another example of exemptions to public records disclosure being created by the courts rather than by the legislature. School districts often hide evidence of patterns of misbehavior by teachers, coaches, and staff to avoid lawsuits. It's one thing to expunge allegations shown to be false from a teacher's record, but we know from sad experience that where there's smoke there's usually fire -- and now parents will have a harder time becoming aware of continuing patterns of accusations.
"The court majority expects the public to simply trust that school districts are conducting adequate investigations, but the people reserved to ourselves the right to verify, not simply trust, what the government is doing. As it says in RCW 42.56.030, 'The people, in delegating authority, do not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for the people to know and what is not good for them to know.' The court today continued the decades-long erosion of that principle."
The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide non- partisan, non profit group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving the public's right to know what its government is doing. For more information, contact the Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664, phone 206.782.0393 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
But with increasing political polarization and the finger pointing that accompanies it - many Americans have forgotten that some of the best environmental legislation in America's history came from Republican administrations.
From Teddy Roosevelt, who established our system of wildlife refuges and national parks; to Barry Goldwater, a life long conservationist; to Herbert Hoover, who used the Antiquities Act to protect what today are the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Arches, Saguaro, Great Sand Dunes, and Black Canyon of the Gunnison national parks, and the White Sands national monument; to Richard Nixon, who signed the Clean Water Act, an extension to the Clean Air Act, the Endangered Species Act, the National Environmental Policy Act and established the EPA.
No, Democrats do not - nor have they ever had - a monopoly on protecting the environment. Many Republicans across this great nation understand that a healthy environment and sound economy are essential to our nation's future health and prosperity.
For decades, bipartisan efforts at the state and national level put an end to burning rivers, unregulated toxic waste dumps and outmoded industrial practices that polluted our cities and communities.
The rash of irresponsible dumping and lack of pollution controls created a toxic legacy that will cost Americans billions of dollars to clean up. In effort to increase public awareness of the hazards of toxic chemicals, the EPA banned a number of dangerous pesticides, including DDT.
Richard Nixon also created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which required chemical manufacturers to publish Material Data Safety Sheets to protect workers and emergency response personnel during a chemical leak or fire.
In regards to clean up - the Center for Disease Control just released a report on dangerous hot spots in six states bordering the Great Lakes. The investigation can be found at the Center for Public Integrity's website: http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/359/.
Sadly, our nation's approach to cleaning up toxic contamination is not working as well as we once hoped. But we can tackle these problems, as long as we continue to work together to remove toxic contamination from our communities.
Locally, we are the proud owners (thanks to the Port of Bellingham) of the former Georgia Pacific West Pulp and Chemical Mill site that released hundreds of thousands of tons of toxic chemicals, including mercury, dioxin and PCB's into our air, water and land. I realize that people don't like to talk about this issue, but it wasn't that many years ago that Bellingham Bay was featured on the cover of Time Magazine as the most polluted Bay in America.
All three sites, the Whatcom Waterway, the former G.P. uplands and the ASB are "former" Superfund sites. They are currently listed as Model Toxic Control Act (MTCA) sites, (the state's version of Superfund), but that does not mean that the sites are no longer a risk to public health and safety.
It is in our best interests as a community to keep a careful eye on the Port's clean up efforts. Dangerous levels of mercury have already been identified in "hot spots" in the former log pond - a clean up site that is being touted by Department of Ecology and the Port as a model for "Natural Recovery" and capping mercury in place.
Meanwhile, I hope that the Democrats and Republicans can continue to work together to clean up toxic waste and abandoned industrial sites. Believe it or not, even "Republicans" were horrified by Love Canal, Three Mile Island and Bhopal.
The environment isn't about "Democrats v. Republicans." We live in a pivotal generation. A generation where scientific and technological marvels are outweighed in many cases by intense human suffering. We explore outer space while our oceans and planet grow more polluted.
Regardless of personal political beliefs, we are responsible for what we will pass on to future generations.
For additional information on GOP environmental supporters and activists:
Congressman Kirk Releases NOAA Report on Great Lakes: http://blogpublic.lib.msu.edu/index.php?blog=5&p=7501&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1Webster Kirkland Times: http://www.websterkirkwoodtimes.com/Articles-i-2008-01-25-72500.113117_Green_Republicans_Work_For_Environment.html#123
Independent journalist investigations of environmental issues:
The Center for Public Integrity article on the Perils of Pesticides: http://www.publicintegrity.org/investigations/pesticides/
The Center for Public Integrity article on the Great Lakes: http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/359/
Lake Michigan Studies:
Human Health and the Great Lakes: http://www.great-lakes.net/humanhealth/
Toxic Contamination in the Great Lakes: http://ftp.great-lakes.net/envt/pollution/toxic.html
Midlakes Policy Center: http://blog.midwestlakes.org/05-09/lake-michigan-mercury.html
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
"I hope he drops out simply because I think he would suffer humiliation," said Anchorage pollster and political consultant Marc Hellenthal. "The public, given the atmosphere and given what's happened, is going to presume guilt. ... He still has, even if he is guilty, a rather distinguished career representing Alaska, and we shouldn't forget that."
The article can be read here: http://beyonddelay.citizensforethics.org/blog
New York Times Article by David Stout and David M. Herszenhorn: http://beyonddelay.citizensforethics.org/node/33582
Rove has denied any involvement in Justice Department activities and submitted a written statement to the committee. The White House has cited executive privilege in arguing that he and others who serve or served in the administration should not testify, maintaining that internal administration communications are confidential and that Congress cannot compel officials to testify. http://beyonddelay.citizensforethics.org/node/33585
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
"For more than seven months, the nation’s top public health agency has blocked the publication of an exhaustive federal study of environmental hazards in the eight Great Lakes states, reportedly because it contains such potentially “alarming information” as evidence of elevated infant mortality and cancer rates." Sheila Kaplan - author.
The Center's headline reads, "Here’s the report that top officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention thought was too hot for the public to handle — and the story behind it."
Why would the Center for Disease Control want to withhold important health information?
Michael Gilbertson, a Canadian biologist and one of three peer reviewers, "told the Center that the study has been suppressed because it suggests that vulnerable populations have been harmed by industrial pollutants. “It’s not good because it’s inconvenient,” Gilbertson said. “The whole problem with all this kind of work is wrapped up in that word ‘injury.’ If you have injury, that implies liability. Liability, of course, implies damages, legal processes, and costs of remedial action.The governments, frankly, in both countries are so heavily aligned with, particularly, the chemical industry, that the word amongst the bureaucracies is that they really do not want any evidence of effect or injury to be allowed out there.”
The entire article and a draft of the investigation is published on the Center for Public Integrity's website: http://www.publicintegrity.org/projects/entry/359/
Photo of Lake Huron pending (waiting for permission from Sea Grant Michigan) http://www.miseagrant.umich.edu/)
"Grimes was listed in lobbying records as president of two firms, Grimes and Young Inc., and CC Nexus LLC, both based in Pennsylvania. Grimes and Young was a joint venture with Cynthia Young, daughter-in-law of Rep. Bill Young (R-Fla), former chairman of the House Appropriations Committee."
At sentencing, Grimes faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine of $250,000. http://www.citizensforethics.org/node/33571
"U.S. officials say the Justice Department has indicted Alaska Senator Ted Stevens on charges related to a long-running investigation of business dealings. Stevens, who has served in the U.S. Senate for 40 years, is up for re-election this year, and Democrats view his seat as one of their top pick-up opportunities." http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25916299
Should federal prosecutors wait until after the election to file charges against Senator Stevens?
Senator Steven's Congressional seatmate, U.S.Representative Don Young us also under investigation.
For detailed information regarding the ongoing investigations in the Alaska federal probe click here: http://www.citizensforethics.org/taxonomy/term/772
Sunday, July 27, 2008
18 states recognize the peoples right to recall state and local elected officials. Recall allows voters to remove elected officials from office before their terms are complete. The state of Washington adopted a Constitutional Amendment (Amendment 8) in 1912 and 1913. All elected officials in the state of Washington, except judges of court of record, are subject to recall.
Why is Recall important?
During campaigns, candidates make campaign promises to entice voters to vote for them, only to break those promises once they are elected to office. Voters should not have to wait until the end of a elected official's term to remove bad political actors from office. Recall allows voters to hold elected officials accountable thoroughout the elected official's term of office.
Example of a Successful Recall Election in the state of Washington:
Mayor Jim West was recalled during a special election held December 6, 2005. On December 16, 2005, he was officially stripped of his duties as Mayor of Spokane.
Shannon Sullivan, a Spokane resident filed a recall petition against Mayor Jim
West. A superior Court Judge invalidated two counts on the petition and upheld one. Mayor West appealed the ruling to the State Supreme Court. On August 24, 2005, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Shannon Sullivan, the citizen who filed the Recall petition. Petition organizers collected over 17,000 signatures and submitted them to the elections office on September 21, 2005. The Elections office verified that 12,567 signatures were valid and a special election was held by mail on December 6, 2005.The Recall petition vote was 65% in favor of recalling Mayor West. The election was certified by the Spokane County Auditor's Office.
The Constitution of the State of Washington:
he Washington State Constitution: Article I, §§ 33 and 34 (Amendment 8) establish the right and outline the procedure to recall elected officials (except judges of courts of record), as follows:
Article I, § 33:
"Every elective public officer in the state of Washington expect [except] judges of courts of record is subject to recall and discharge by the legal voters of the state, or of the political subdivision of the state, from which he was elected whenever a petition demanding his recall, reciting that such officer has committed some act or acts of malfeasance or misfeasance while in office, or who has violated his oath of office, stating the matters complained of,signed by the percentages of the qualified electors thereof, hereinafter provided, the percentage required to be computed from the total number of votes cast for all candidates for his said office to which he was elected at the preceding election, is filed with the officer with whom a petition for nomination, or certificate for nomination, to such office must be filed under the laws of this state, and the same officer shall call a special election as provided by the general election laws of this state, and the result determined as therein provided." (Emphasis supplied.)
Article I, § 34:
"The legislature shall pass the necessary laws to carry out the provisions of section thirty-three (33) of this article, and to facilitate its operation and effect without delay. . . .
"The percentages required shall be, state officers, other than judges, senators and representatives, city officers of cities of the first class, school district boards in cities of the first class; county officers of counties of the first, second and third classes, twenty-five per cent. Officers of all other political subdivisions, cities, towns, townships, precincts and school districts not herein mentioned, and state senators and representatives, thirty-five per cent." (Emphasis supplied.)
These provisions were added to the Constitution through the amendatory process in 1912. The following year the legislature enacted such legislation as it deemed necessary to implement the right established by this amendment. See, chapter 146, Laws of 1913.1/ Among the sections of this act was § 8, which provided, in material part, as follows:
"When the person, committee, or organization demanding the recall of a public officer has secured sufficient signatures upon the recall petition he or it may submit the same to the officer with whom the charge was filed for filing in his office. The number of signatures required shall be as follows:
"(1) In the case of a state officer, an officer of a city of the first class, a member of a school board in a city of the first class, or acounty officer of a county of the first, second or third class‑-signatures of legal voters equal to twenty-five percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office to which the officer whose recall is demanded was elected at the preceding election.
"(2) In the case of an officer of any political subdivision, city, town, township, precinct, or school district other than those mentioned in subdivision (1), and in the case [[Orig. Op. Page 5]] of a state senator or representative‑- signatures of legal voters equal to thirty-five percent of the total number of votes cast for all candidates for the office to which the officer whose recall is demanded was elected at the preceding election." (Emphasis supplied.)
A copy of the Spokesman Review's Investigation of Mayor Jim West can be found here: http://spokesmanreview.com/jimwest/
PBS Frontline: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/hiddenlife/
It’s going to be a busy week for our crews on Mount Baker Highway – and for you, if it’s a route you regularly drive. Starting Monday, crews will be working on two separate projects on the highway.
The first project will require intermittent lane closures from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, July 28 and 29, between Britton Road and Coal Creek. Our crews will be out taking core samples from the roadway in preparation for paving and maintenance work that will be done next year.
The second project will also require lane closures, but these will run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and only be near the Britton Road intersection. There, our crews will repave the intersection to add a left-turn pocket on Mount Baker Highway for westbound vehicles turning on to Britton Road; a left-turn refuge on Mount Baker Highway for vehicles turning west from Britton Road; and will extend the no-passing zone.
The left-turn refuge is a tapered merging and acceleration lane located in the center of Mount Baker Highway that allows drivers turning west off Britton Road a place to wait for a break in traffic, or get up to speed and merge into traffic. The project should improve safety for drivers at that intersection.
Open house set for Sunset Drive widening project
The second phase of the city of Bellingham’s Sunset Drive widening project is about to get under way. If you’re interested in finding out more about the project, which will widen Sunset Drive between Woburn and McLeod roads, you’re invited to attend an open house from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 29, in the multipurpose room at Bloedel Donovan park, 2214 Electric Street, Bellingham.
The meeting is in an ADA accessible building. People who need special assistance or who have questions regarding the project can contact Mark Handzlik , the project engineer, at 360-778-7900.
Guide closed intermittently at night
You’ll want to pack your patience Thursday night if you need to drive the Guide. Starting at 8 p.m. July 31, we’ll need to intermittently close all lanes of traffic on the Guide for up to 10 minutes at a time so our crews can set 10 girders for the new Four Mile Creek bridge. When the road is open, flaggers will direct you through the work zone.
The bridge work is one of the final pieces of the widening project on the southern end of the Guide. Once crews set the girders, they can begin paving the road over the top of them.
This will be the first of two closures to set girders. The next closure, scheduled for early August, will allow crews to set girders for the Ten Mile Creek bridge. We’ll keep you posted on the dates and times of that closure.
Thursday, July 24, 2008
The U.S. Office of Special Counsel is investigating allegations that Mayor Dan Pike violated the Hatch Act during his 2007 campaign.
A federal investigator is interviewing local citizens who may have information about the alleged violations.
For additional information about the Hatch Act and penalties for alleged violations please see:http://www.osc.gov/ha_state.htm
photo courtesy of Mayor's website
Senate Republican leaders sent a letter to Roach in March of 2008 stating that she has violated the Senate's prohibition on creating an "intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment." All contact with caucus staff must be between Roach's legislative assistant and staff. Roach is not allowed to contact caucus staff by "phone, e-mail, or though any other means." Senate leadership determined that the reprimand is necessary to prevent senate staff members from quiting their jobs.
This is the third time Senator Roach has been disciplined by her caucus. A March 20, 2008 Tacoma News Tribune article documents years of abusive behavior including brandishing a handgun, illegally obtaining employee e-mails and creating a hostile work environment for aides and caucus staff. Two aides quit in 2003.
In 1999, Roach received a letter about violating workplace respect policies and in 2003 she was disciplined by a Senate committee for attempting to have an aide fired from another job in the Senate and for forcing a confrontation with an aide in front of several reporters. She was asked to seek counseling after more than 5 years of complaints. One former employee later received $2,500 from the Senate for counseling.
Employees have a right to work in an environment that is free of harassment, threats, and the brandishing of weapons.
Senate Republican leaders Hewitt, Schoesler, Parlette and Brandland have been silent, saying they will not comment publicly on a personnel matter.
Northwest Cable News: http://www.nwcn.com/news/specials/politics/stories/NW_032008POB_pam_roach_bullying_TP.c80f847.html
Tacoma News Tribune: http://www.thenewstribune.com/news/local/story/313587.html
The Olympian: http://www.theolympian.com/570/story/394690.html
photo courtesy of WA State Senate
Removal from office can occur if circumstances show a deliberate disregard for the Hatch Act.
There continues to be a debate about whether the Act allows for debarment from federal employment. However, the Merit Systems Protection Board has determined that the act does not authorize debarment of employees removed for violation of the Hatch Act.
Covered federal, local and certain non-profit employees should also be aware that certain political activities may also be criminal offenses under title 18 of the U.S. Code. Source: Office of Special Counsel and Political Activity and the Federal Employee, pdf
Employees who are being investigated for alleged Hatch Act Violations can be represented by their own counsel during the investigation and during subsequent prosecution. If the special counsel finds a Hatch Act Violation(s) and decides to prosecute the violation(s), he or she must file a complaint against the subject employee with the Merit Systems Protection Board. An evidential hearing is conducted in front of an administrative law judge, and it is the special counsels responsibility to establish that the employee violated the Hatch Act.
Covered federal, local and certain non-profit employees can protect themselves from prosecution for violating the Hatch Act by requesting an advisory opinion from the OSC. Part-time legislators who have full time jobs with covered agencies can be prosecuted for violating the Hatch Act. There is no statute of limitations for filing Hatch Act complaints.
If your workplace receives federal funds to operate program, you may want to check with the Hatch Act Unit to make sure you are not covered under the Act.Inquiries can be made by phone, fax, mail or email to: Hatch Act Unit, U.S. Office of Special Counsel, 1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 300, Washington, D.C. 20036-4505; Telephone: (800) 854-2824, (202) 653-7143; Fax: (202) 653-5161; Email: email@example.com.
Negotiating the Hatch Act: http://www.napfe.com/HATCH.htm
photo of Mayor Duke Bennett courtesy of City of Terre Haute
Wednesday, July 23, 2008
On May 9, 1970, a group of (600) Canadian and ex patriot American war protesters stormed the U.S. Canadian border to protest U.S. military action in Vietnam, Cambodia and the death of students at Kent State on May 4th.
During the illegal entry, protesters vandalized storefronts, broke out windows, damaged cars, homes and a local memorial dedicated to Blaine men who had served and died during WW I, WW II and Korea.
This was the first invasion of the U.S. since the War of 1812.
The protesters left after burning the flag at the U.S. Post Office and fighting with Blaine residents.
On their way back to Canada, the protesters vandalized the Peace Arch, a symbol of peace between Canada and the United States of America.
The next day, the protesters marched on Blaine again -but were met at the border by Blaine residents determined to defend their homes and businesses.
Those residents, despite their personal political views on the Vietnam War, stood shoulder to shoulder along the U.S. Canadian border, blocking the invaders/rioters from entering the United States.
I was just a child when these incidents took place, but I can remember my mom describing the vandalism, broken windows, senseless attacks against innocent city residents and workers who were trying to escape the violence; and, finally, the story about the 21 year old Vietnam Veteran, a long time City of Bellingham employee, who attempted to take the burning flag away from the rioters.
The Canadian papers published photographs showing a protester attacking the vet with a knife.
I don't care what your political position is on Iraq/Afghanistan/Iran - just remember that the local surge of anti war sympathy does not justify unwarranted attacks on your family, friends, co-workers and neighbors.
They have no more control over these issues than you do - and, if they so choose, they have a constitutionally protected right to disagree with you and be "safe" while doing so.
For a community that proudly proclaims it's "liberalism", I must admit, the hatred and intolerance expressed towards some members of our community will never cease to astound me. There's not much tolerance or open mindedness in this town.
Perhaps the community would be better served if members concentrate on future foreign policy,rather than that what has passed.
More information can be found on the City of Blaine's website: http://www.ci.blaine.wa.us/index.asp?NID=244
(600) invaders: the number varies -depending on who you talk to. A number of the protesters did not follow invaders into Blaine. They remained at Peace Arch Park.
photo is of 1968 protest against Vietnam war.
The Wave of the Future
Obama and McCain diverge on Israeli-Palestinian conflict: Christian Science Monitor
As Afghanistan boils, McCain keeps focus on Iraq
Monday, July 21, 2008
Is Obama right?
Does it all begin and/or end in Afghanistan?
Let's take a look at some of the region's news over the past few years.
Hazara.net tells readers:"The policy of the Taliban is to exterminate the Hazaras." Maulawi Mihammed Hanif, a Taliban Commander, announced to a crowd of 300 people summoned to a mosque.
“Hazaras are not Muslim. You can kill them, it’s not a sin.” (The Taliban were killing 15,000 Hazaras each day). A statement by Mullah Manon Niazi, Governor of Mazar e Sharif, speaking to a crowd in a mosque after the fall of Mazar city.
For a list of massacres, see http://www.hazara.net/taliban/genocide/genocide.html.
I conducted a search to locate news published by residents of the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan. (Apparently, no one believes American or British Reporters – after all, they only report U.S. propaganda). So, let’s take a look at statements made by al Qaeda’s members and other Middle Eastern leaders to members of the International press in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan.
*Please note that this is just a small sampling of what has been published on violence and the practice of genocide in the Middle East.
“On April 19, 1999, in a chaotic Egyptian courtroom, Ahmed Salamah Mabrouk spoke before his sentencing hearing to Egyptian reporter Mohammed Salah, considered to be his country's top al Qaeda expert.
Through a caged-in section of the courtroom where defendants are kept, Mabrouk -- who was charged in a terrorism conspiracy -- admitted al Qaeda's success in obtaining chemical and biological weapons.
"He told me that Osama bin Laden and Ayman Al-Zawahiri have access to chemical and biological weapons," Salah said.
Although Mabrouk didn't specify what those weapons were, he said they came from countries in Eastern Europe, Salah said. (Excerpt from Mike Boettcher, CNN, article titled. "Evidence suggest al Qaeda pursuit of biological, chemical weapons"). http://archives.cnn.com/2001/WORLD/asiapcf/central/11/14/chemical.bio/index.html
2007/2008. Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad repeatedly predicts the "elimination" of Israel.
February 2007: In Afghanistan, Iran reactivated Gulbuddin Hekmatyar’s Hizb Islami militia, shipped arms to the Is’haqzai Pushtun tribe, and helped Hazara Shiites raise an army of 12,000. Iran also opened its borders to fleeing Taleban and Al-Qaeda militants. According to Arab intelligence sources, some 30 senior “Arab Afghans” are in Iran.
Next, Tehran established contact with Palestinian radicals, notably Hamas, feting its leaders in Tehran and providing aid worth $250 million. Last week’s capture of Iranian military advisers in Gaza shows that Tehran was also involved in training Palestinian fighters. http://www.arabnews.com/?page=7§ion=0&article=92268&d=17&m=2&y=2007
LONDON, April 17, 2007, (IranMania) - Iran again warned the United States against attacking its nuclear facilities, saying it had tens of thousands of would-be suicide bombers at the ready and can count on the support of militants across the region, AFP reported.
A hardline Iranian group said it had managed to enroll 55,000 people for suicide attacks against Israel and Western powers, an ominous message even though many observers see the recruitment drive as a symbolic action.
The crisis over Iran's nuclear ambitions has worsened over the past week following the regime's announcement that its scientists managed to enrich uranium to the level needed to make reactor fuel, AFP noted.http://www.iranmania.com/News/ArticleView/Default.asp?NewsCode=42053&NewsKind=Current%20Affairs
Excerpt from 2008 blogs called "About Hazara News Pakistan" – maintained by Abbas Daiyar, a student and resident of Hazara Town, Quetta. He and his colleagues run Hazara News Pakistan, which aims to keep the Hazara diaspora abroad updated about the latest news and events related to Hazaras living in Pakistan.
July 19, 2008: Hazara Town, Quetta — A slew of new violent incidents between the Hazaras, the Baloch and the police has left 6 people dead and 17 injured, including Haji Abdul Qayum Changezi, head of the Hazara Qaumi Jirga. Armed security personnel have been deployed to maintain calm.
Excerpt from "The Dawn", a Pakistani online newspaper also published in English:
QUETTA, July 19, 2008: Two people were killed on Saturday in a heavy exchange of fire with police following a protest against the killing of a man in Hazara town. Thirteen others, including two policemen and a woman, were injured.According to eyewitnesses, the gun battle lasted more than two hours. They said that armed men had taken positions in nearby mountains during the fighting.The people first blocked the Brewery Road and then stopped traffic on the western bypass to protest against the killing of one Ghulam Rasool by unknown attackers in Killi Karani.They refused to end the protest despite requests by officials of the Anti-Terrorist Force (ATF) and police. http://www.dawn.com/2008/07/20/top4.htm
The hatred and intolerance of militant governments directed towards people and nations with diverse beliefs in the Middle East, Africa and Pakistan is astounding.
If the United Nations and the U.S. pull out of the Middle East, violence and genocide will rock the region to its very foundation. Creating intense political instability that could start a nuclear war.
It does not begin and/or end in Afghanistan -
Friday, July 18, 2008
Karl Rove failed to appear under subpoena for his scheduled July 9 testimony before the House Judiciary Committee to discuss the Bush administration's role in the firing of nine U.S. attorneys in 2006 and the prosecution of former Alabama governor Don Siegelman.
Read the entire post here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-f-kennedy-jr-and-brendan-demelle/unearthed-news-of-the-wee_b_113732.html
It's time for the Federal Government to step in and protect State Employees from Abusive Elected Officials
Once again, the elected official "stays" and the subordinate employee is forced to "quit" her job.
When is the state of Washington going to take steps to protect employees from sexual harassment and/or workplace violence from elected officials?
How many other incidents of inappropriate touching, inappropriate behavior or workplace violence at the hands of elected officials are "covered up" each year?
Does the state have an obligation to protect innocent subordinate female/male employees from harassment or violence? (You bet they do).
And now, for the billion dollar question: Who does the state of Washington represent - "elected officials" or the people who live and work in the state of Washington?
Did you know that the Washington State House of Representatives refuses to give victims of harassment copies of reports filed by the employee when they were employed by the state?
According to House Counsel, former employees are not allowed to have copies of their records, even for medical purposes. (Professional counseling to recover after the events).
Who instructed the state that they have an obligation to protect elected officials over their own employees? (Elected officials are not "employees" - they are elected representatives of the people).
Attorney General McKenna?
Anyone else care to explain what's going on?
Is there a single state legislator - male or female - that gives a damn what's happening to these employees?
Or, are the members of the state legislature going to continue to look the other way each time an innocent employee's hopes, dreams and aspirations for a state career are destroyed?Three years ago, a young Department of Natural Resources Employee quit her job after being inappropriately touched by Lands Commissioner Doug Southerland in front of other DNR staff in a meeting.
On Wednesday, The Seattle Times ran a story that included an interview with Sutherland earlier this year regarding the allegations of Sexual Harassment against the female DNR employee.
Commissioner Sutherland specifically denied his actions were lewd, but acknowledged they were out of line with department policy and said it was the first time he’d ever received a harassment complaint.
For excerpts regarding documentation of the complaint, go to http://www.horsesass.org/.
Commissioner Doug Southerland is running for re-election. He has not offered to resign or step down, even though he does not deny the incident took place and that the young woman probably quit because of his behavior. (So, I guess that's ok in the state of Washington).
Seattle Times reporter Warren Cornwall tells readers, "Washington public-lands commissioner apologized after complaint by employee. Washington's public-lands commissioner, Doug Sutherland, "admits" inappropriately touched and made remarks to a young female employee who soon quit the Department of Natural Resources despite his formal apology, according to public documents on the incident from his own department."http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2008053924_sutherland16m.html
So, can someone please explain why Department of Natural Resources documents related to sexual harassment incidents are public -when State Legislature documents related to sexual harrassment and workplace violence are not?
It's time for the Federal Government to step in and intercede on behalf of state employees who are harassed, or physically/emotionally abused by state legislators or other elected officials.
It's obvious that the state of Washington is unable to deal with these incidents in a fair, unbiased manner. Too many employees are forced to quit their jobs in order to protect themselves from additional harassment and violence.
The State of Washington (and all of it's elected officials) have some explaining to do.
"Reports examine sex-harassment claim vs. DNR's Sutherland" The Olympian Published July 17, 2008http://www.theolympian.com/politicsblog/story/508851.html
Horsesass.org posted excerpts from the young woman's complaints on July 15, 2008. Goldy also discusses other harassment incidents that have taken place in the state of Washington over the last few years. Young woman quit DNR after being sexually harassed by Commissioner Sutherland
by Goldy, 07/15/2008, 8:20 AM
GOP candidate Dino Rossi’s camp expresses outrage that Democrat Chris Gregoire would impune his faithful dog.
Adam Wilson, of the Olympian says, "People in Washington want a candidate who will fix problems in our state, not an incumbent Governor who spends her time attacking her opponent’s dog."
Thursday, July 17, 2008
Three years ago, Washington voters passed Initiative 900, an act relating to performance audits of governmental entities; with a 57% majority.Everett Herald writer Jerry Cornfield tells readers, "A study released last week recaps what happened to 27 recommendations made specifically to the Legislature involving transportation, education and health care. Roughly half were adopted or addressed this past session. Some will resurface in the 2009 session."To date, the Washington State Auditor's Office has completed eight performance audits and published 430 recommendations that the legislature could implement to save $240 million for the audited agencies.
It will cost taxpayers $8 million to implement the recommendations. Four of the audits in the report deal with Transportation and the other four audits deal with the Department of Health's Quality Assurance Program and the Port of Seattle's oversight of construction projects. Many more audits of state and local government are scheduled over the next few years. The dollars saved by performance audits will save taxpayers millions of dollars.The state is tasked with the responsibility of preparing a score card each year to allow voters to measure the Legislature's response to performance audit recommendations.To read the full report, go to
http://www.leg.wa.gov/JLARC and click on "Recent JLARC Reports.""Initiative finds lots for state to trim" by Jerry Cornfield of the Everett Herald:
http://heraldnet.com/article/20080628/NEWS01/702709451Washington State Auditor's Office Reports can be found here: http://www.sao.wa.gov/PerformanceAudit/default.aspA copy of Initiative 900 can be found here:
Wednesday, July 16, 2008
"For the past 5 years, Ms. Diemond has used videotaping of public meetings to encourage open and candid government in area municipalities. She has personally videotaped virtually every city council meeting in Woodinville, court hearings and other public meetings. She is currently establishing www.thewellingtontimes.org as UIC’s online outlet for local issues. In Woodinville the city council has installed Government Access with Comcast and the internet. At her urging, the city Planning Commission and Parks Commission meetings are now being broadcast." stated Nixon. The coalition board also noted that Ms. Diemond has produced comprehensive coverage on local issues such as Brightwater and municipality development partnerships where the Open Public Meetings Act has been side-stepped, preventing public involvement with government process.
Ms. Diemond, is a graduate of Seattle Pacific University. She has spent the last 30 years as CEO of several privately held corporations in the grocery trade, an entrepreneur, a financial consultant, reverse mortgage expert to both banks and consumers, and software developer consulting with Fannie Mae, the King County Council, Washington State Insurance Commissioner’s SHIBA program, Washington State Bar Association and the King County Bar Association She has served on the Board of Trustees for Puget Consumer Coop in Seattle and has been involved in the natural health industry since 1979.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide non- partisan, non profit group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving the public’s right to know what its government is doing. For more information, contact the Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664, phone 206.782.0393 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A panel of expert presenters will fuel the discussion on securing and preserving the public’s legal right to access the records and proceedings of the government agencies created to serve the people of the state. The panelists include: former State Representative Toby Nixon, Oak Harbor City Administrator Paul Schmidt, former executive director of the state Public Disclosure Commission Graham Johnson and Assistant State Attorney General Tim Ford. Barbara Bailey, State Representative from the 10th District will moderate the discussion.
The forum is free and open to all, and questions and comments from the audience are welcome. Representative Barbara Bailey, R-Oak Harbor, represents the 10th Legislative District. She is ranking Republican on the House Community, Economic Development and Trade Committee, and assistant ranking Republican on the House Appropriations Committee. Representative Bailey also serves on the House Human Services and Rules committees, respectively. She is a member of the Washington Tourism Commission, the Select Committee on Pension Policy, the Joint Committee on Military and Veterans Affairs, and the Washington Economic Development Commission. Representative Bailey has been a leader in state government accountability, including sponsoring legislation that would eliminate unnecessary emergency clauses, require fiscal notes be established before bills are voted on in the Legislature, and direct the state auditor’s office to review new state programs and share its findings with the public.
Toby Nixon, current President of the Washington Coalition for Open Government, served as State Representative for the 45th District from January, 2002, through January, 2007. During his term in the legislature, Nixon distinguished himself as a leading advocate for the public’s right to know what its government is doing. He introduced a long list of open government bills and served as ranking member of the House Government Operations committee. As a community activist, Nixon serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations. In his professional life, he works as Senior Standards Program Manager in the Windows Device Platform Group at Microsoft in Redmond; he’s held various positions with Microsoft since January of 1993.
The City of Oak Harbor appointed Paul Schmidt as the City Administrator in November of 2006. Previously, Paul was the City Administrator for the City of Cheney, Washington, for seven (7) years and also Director of Public Works for thirteen (13) years. Paul also served as the Public Works Director in Clarkston, Washington and as a building inspector for Spokane County. All together, Paul has been employed in local government in the State of Washington for 29 years. He was born and raised in North Dakota in a small rural farming community. He graduated from North Dakota State University with a degree in sociology and a minor in political science. In 1992 Paul received a Masters Degree in Public Administration from Eastern Washington University, specializing in public finance and human resource management.
Graham Johnson became the executive director of the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission in July, 1974, when the agency was less than two years old and had just survived several constitutional challenges. He held that position until his retirement from state government in 1993. Graham returned to public service in 2001 to be the non-partisan, non-voting chairman of the State Redistricting Commission. In 2004 and 2005, Graham traveled to India, China and Burma on behalf of the US State Department to lecture on transparency and accountability in government. He has been recognized as a “Distinguished Alumnus” by Eastern Washington University, and was named “Public Employee of the Year” by the Municipal League of King County in 2002. Graham has been a resident of Whidbey Island since 2001.
Tim Ford serves as Rob McKenna’s Assistant Attorney General for Government Accountability. His duties include serving as the “Open Government Ombudsman” to assist the public, and state and local agencies with open-government questions, training, policy, and litigation. He was appointed by Rob McKenna to serve on the Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee with the task of reviewing over 300 exemptions from disclosure of public records, and making recommendations to the state legislature. Tim earned a BA from Rutgers University. He joined the US Navy and served as a helicopter pilot flying the CH-53E in combat support roles. After completing his service he attended and received a JD from Gonzaga University School of Law.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government is a statewide non-partisan, non profit group of individuals and organizations dedicated to strengthening and preserving the public’s right to know what its government is doing. The Coalition has presented a series of similar programs around the state to educate the citizens of Washington on their rights of access.
For more information, contact the Washington Coalition for Open Government, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664, phone 206.782.0393 or by email at email@example.com
Monday, July 14, 2008
Thirty-six public officials from all levels of government within Washington will be selected to participate in an intensive training on Washington's open government laws and regulations led by experts in the field. Each participant will be assigned a mentor to guide the participant in avoiding legal and public relations problems in the future. Participants will be awarded "Open Government Leader" certificates on completion of the Institute, and will then serve as the go-to person within the agency when questions arise on public records or open meetings issues. Faculty for the Institute will be recruited from the legal, judicial, journalistic, and public service communities, and Richard M. Sepler, director of the Port Townsend Planning Department will act as facilitator.
Applications and more information are available on the coalition web site www.washingtoncog.org or by mail from WCOG, 6351 Seaview Av NW, Seattle, WA 98107-2664.
The Open Government Leadership Institute has been endorsed by Secretary of State Sam Reed, Attorney General Rob McKenna, State Auditor Brian Sonntag, the Bench-Bar-Press Committee, Clallam County Commissioner Mike Doherty, and the Evergreen Freedom Foundation. Support for the Institute has been provided through the National Freedom of Information Coalition by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Norcliffe Foundation of Seattle.
The Washington Coalition for Open Government (WCOG) is a non-profit organization founded in 2003 by a group of individuals representing a broad spectrum of opinions and backgrounds, all dedicated to the principles of strengthening the state’s open government laws and protecting the public’s access to government at all levels
Washington Coalition for Open Government
6351 Seaview Avenue NW
Seattle, Washington 98107-2664
phone: (206) 782-0393
fax: (206) 623-4474
WCOG is building a network of citizens who support open government laws and practices. Please send to firstname.lastname@example.org your name, address, phone, and e-mail address. We will notify you, as they arrive, of threats to open government and opportunities to strengthen it.
In summary, the City states that the Resolution is being submitted to the Bellingham City Council at this time out of a growing concern regarding a run-up to military intervention in Iran and the concern for the devastating cost in human lives and the fiscal cost to all America that such action could incur.
According to the Bellingham Herald, there is a similar resolution being circulated among mayors, but, only 34 mayors across the nation have signed the Resolution, which, in my opinion, doesn't demonstrate much support for the Resolution, considering that there are hundreds of thousands of mayors in this nation.
The Bellingham Resolution, introduced by Councilor Bornemann, contains 12 Whereas that recommend that the U.S. avoids taking a proactive position to stop nuclear proliferation in the Middle East. This recommendation is based on the assumption that Iran is not an imminent threat to the United States, U.S. troops in the Middle East and/or U.S. allies.
Bornemann bases his "no threat" theory on a 2007 NIE estimate that Iran froze it's nuclear weapons program in 2003, when the U.S. entered Iraq. However, the Resolution does not take into consideration the wealth of other classified intelligence that may contradict Bornemann's hypothesis.
The bill number is AB018043. ftp://ftp.cob.org/council/packets/2008/07_jul/14/packets/14jul2008_AB18043.pdf
Why am I opposed to the City adopting this Resolution?
The U.S. Constitution provides a framework for the establishment of a stable and perpetual government. It limits the powers of each branch of federal and state governments, and establishes certain permanent rights for all free citizens.
Article III of the Constitution says "the states enter into a firm league of friendship with each other, for their common defense for the security of their liberties, and their mutual and general welfare, binding them to assist each other, against all force offered, mentioning attacks by trade as well as war. Next, the Articles describe what a state or local government may not do in direct dealings with other nations, except in unison as agreed in Congress." In other words, the City of Bellingham does not have authority under the U.S. Constitution to initiate legislation on matters of foreign policy.
Chief Justice Marshall, of the Supreme Court, in McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819) wrote, “The government proceeds directly from the people; is ordained and established in the name of the people. Its powers are granted by them and are to be exercised directly on them for their benefit.” Hence, the role of government, whether local, state or national, is to serve the public interest by providing a means to do collectively, what individuals can not do alone.
In promoting the general welfare, government fosters equal opportunity for all Americans. But the role of government is not to guarantee success for every citizen; nevertheless, in America, government does have a duty to protect human rights, facilitate fairness of opportunity and stand firm against all forms of injustice.
Granted, the war in Iraq may have cost $500 billion and over 4,000 American lives. But each one of those 4,000 soldiers voluntarily chose to serve in Iraq - out of a sense of duty, cooperation, compassion and justice. Despite objections by family members and activists who are against the peace keeping mission in Iraq. Those soldiers did not sacrifice their lives to be used by Councilor Bornemann or the City as justification to avoid dealing fairly, but firmly with Iran.
I wonder, what the cost be, in human lives and dollars, if Iran or Iraq launched a nuclear attack against one of it's neighbors?
How many people will die in Israel and Palestine if Iran's new president makes good on his repeated promises to destroy Israel?
Should the U.S. and the United Nations stand by and allow Iran or any other nation to destroy a neighboring nation out of hatred? (We've been though this before in WW II - didn't we learn anything from that experience)?
Is genocide "acceptable" as long as its not taking place within our borders? (I guess so, we've tolerated enough of it in Africa and other politically charged nations). Is the practice of isolationism appropriate - when hundreds of thousands of innocent men, women and children are being murdered by their own governments?
Yes, there is a price tag associated in protecting humanity from nuclear proliferation and aggression. Sometimes, it costs lives. But U.S. soldiers are willing to pay that price, voluntarily, so the rest of us can sleep peacefully at night.
Councilor Bornemann has publicly stated that he is opposed to all military action in the Middle East. (As demonstrated by his past rants against the U.S. government involvement in Vietnam and Iraq). And, he is certainly entitled to his position on this issue, as long as he can demonstrate that he understands that other people have a right to disagree with him - and does not over-step his authority as a city councilor by taking advantage of his elected position to advance his own personal agenda.
Sorry Councilor Bornemann, but millions of Americans do not agree with you that the U.S. government used misinformation to inspire U.S. aggression in Vietnam and Iraq.
A local blogger, “Wally Wonders Why” asks readers, is the City's Resolution subversive? Perhaps...
After all, the City of Bellingham is adopting a Resolution that calls the federal government (democrats and republicans alike) a "pack of liars" who use misinformation to fan the flames of military aggression abroad.
Shame on the City of Bellingham!
My advice to the City, focus your attention on legislation that you have the statutory authority to adopt. The people of Bellingham did not elect you to introduce or pass legislation matters of national security or foreign policy.
If Councilor Bornemann wants to tackle federal issues, he should run for the U.S. Senate or for U.S Congress. If Bornemann truly enjoys the political support that Sam Taylor at the Bellingham Herald and others claim he has, then he will be elected as a federal representative and can legitimately introduce legislation on matters of foreign policy.
What’s the harm in indulging Mr. Bornemann’s whim?
Bellingham is a diverse City, populated by citizens who work for the federal government, served in the U.S. Military or who have immigrated to America to escape the violence, suppression of basic human rights in other nations. Those citizens will not attend tonight's meeting. Sadly, we've been taught by this and other administrations that opposing opinions are not welcome at the City of Bellingham.
Some of our "neighbors" have family members who live, work and/or attend school in Middle East.
I would hope that the Mayor and City Councilors can demonstrate a modicum of empathy for constituents who have family members who live or are stationed in the Middle East. Despite claims to the contrary, not all families or soldiers oppose military intervention in Iraq.
Once again, the City of Bellingham has no legal authority to introduce legislation on matters of national security or foreign policy. This renders the City's Resolution useless. It may allow a certain segment of the population to feel good, but it has no bearing or influence on decisions made at the federal level.
City Councilors - please do not insult me or other members of my family by telling the President of the United States that you represent my views on foreign affairs. Nothing could be further from the truth - and I did not authorize you to act on my behalf on national or international issues. I'm not someone that you can use to advance your own personal agenda on Iraq or Iran. Nor did I elect you to perform this function.
And this comes from a city resident who grew up on military bases during the Vietnam War. No one, including me, who has first hand knowledge of the destructiveness of war; chooses war - unless all other choices have been systematically eliminated. Military families understand what it means to have a loved one deployed to a nation that is torn apart by hatred. We have been dealing with the mixed feelings of pride and fear for generations.
I have not forgotten all of the dads who were killed in missions during Vietnam. Nor will I allow my name to be attached to Mr. Bornemann’s spiteful resolution. In our little neighborhood at K.I. Sawyer AFB in Michigan, 5 dads were killed or were listed missing in action in a 12 month period. Those men died to protect the national interests of the United States of America. They died to protect Mr. Bornemann's right to express his opinion freely, without censorship, or fear of retaliation. But those men and women did not sacrifice their lives so that Mr. Bornemann and other anti-war protesters could use them as bargaining chips against the government of the United States of America.
Those soldiers were placed in harm's way by Democrats and Republicans alike. (A number of Presidents from both political parties have placed peace keeping troops/policing forces in nations that are torn apart by civil war and cultural strife.
I hate to rain on the City's parade, but Congress has historically provided amble funding for peace keeping efforts in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Congress has also provided funding for military peace keeping operations in Africa and other parts of the Middle East as requested by former President Clinton and President Bush Sr. and Jr.
Iran and Iraq are not the same. Comparing the two nations is like comparing apples to oranges.
The least we can do as citizens, is demonstrate a solemn respect for the sacrifices U.S. and United Nations forces have made on our behalf, regardless of our personal poltical position on Vietnam, Iraq or U.S. intervention in the Middle East.
Personally, I appreciate knowing that the United Nations, including the United States, is committed to preventing the horror of international nuclear Holocaust. And, yes, prevention costs money. Lots and lots of money. The deployment of peace keeping troops is expensive. Do I wish the world was different? That we could all learn to live together peacefully, without hatred, jealousy and spite? Of course I do.
But last time I checked, nuclear fallout is no respecter of the practice of pacifism, opposing religious/cultural beliefs or international borders. Unfortunately, nuclear war, and it's accompanying radioactive fallout remains an equal opportunity killer.
Sunday, July 13, 2008
The yellow cake was delivered by air to an undisclosed Canadian Port for processing on Saturday.
The story can be read at:
By Colum Lynch and Nora Boustany
Saturday, July 12, 2008
Clinton has often meshed big picture admonitions with new books whose ideas he admires. He drew similar conclusions in 2000 following the publication of Robert Putnam's "Bowling Alone," on the decline of civic engagement in the United States" writes Andrew Welsh Huggins of the Associated Press.
"Underneath this apparent accommodation to our diversity, we are in fact hunkering down in communities of like-mindedness, and it affects our ability to manage difference," Clinton said.
Andrew Welsh Huggins Associated Press article can be read here: http://kai03.qwest.com/WindowsLive/Media/News/NewsDetail.aspx?cat=National&id=D91SI3TO1@news.ap.org&client=gadget&qid=ECAEE3C6E91DA851963F1E11FFFFFFFF
Contact: Dustin Terpening, WSDOT Communications, 360-661-7903 (Burlington)
I-5 lanes and ramps closed at night through Bellingham next week
Date: July 11, 2008
BELLINGHAM – Crews will close lanes and ramps next week on I-5 in Bellingham to finish sealing new concrete panels and to install guardrail. The closures will be as follows:
Monday, July 14, 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. - The left lane of northbound I-5 will be closed between the Lakeway and Sunset exits.
Monday, July 14, 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. - The northbound I-5 Lakeway Drive on- and off-ramps will be closed.
Tuesday, July 15 and Wednesday, July 16, 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. – the northbound I-5 Iowa Street on- and off-ramps will be closed.
Detour signs will direct drivers around the closed ramps. Drivers are encouraged to use local routes if possible.
Bellingham traffic cameras are available at www.wsdot.wa.gov/traffic/bellingham/.
This work is part of the ongoing I-5 construction that started earlier this year to replace broken concrete panels in Bellingham, smooth rough bridge transitions and pave ramps. More project details can be found at www.wsdot.wa.gov/Projects/I5/36thStToSlaterRdRepairs. Stay tuned into the closure schedule by subscribing to Whatcom County e-mail updates at www.wsdot.wa.gov/northwest/emailupdates.
Further inspections reveal severe damage to I-5 overpass in Burlington
Date: Friday, July 11, 2008
BURLINGTON – Further inspections of the damage to the Chuckanut Drive overpass (exit 231) over I-5 in Burlington confirmed engineers’ worst fears. The battered bridge support beams will have to be replaced.
Starting Monday, July 14, crews will work at night to temporarily fix the support beams and get both lanes of Chuckanut Drive open again. Sometime within the next year, WSDOT will have to permanently fix the overpass by replacing the damaged beams. Initial cost estimates to replace the damaged support beams are in the million-plus range.
WSDOT will do everything possible to recoup the costs for repairs from the responsible party.
During the night work, crews will close the right lane of I-5 from 8 p.m. to 6:30 a.m. The work should take less than a week to complete. Drivers should expect minor delays. Severe restrictions on the Chuckanut Drive overpass are in place.
Currently, no vehicles weighing more than 20,000 pounds (10 tons) are allowed on the overpass. The westbound lane on the overpass is closed. Only eastbound traffic is allowed across the overpass. Westbound drivers will be detoured one mile north around the closure via Old Highway 99 and Cook Road. Detour signs are in place.
Local drivers are encouraged to use alternate routes. Once the temporary repairs are in place, vehicles over 80,000 pounds (40 tons) will be prohibited.
A tractor-trailer towing an excavator crashed into the overpass Thursday afternoon, severely damaging three of the six support beams, knocking off concrete and breaking 22 steel cables. Each support beam houses 20 steel cables. Despite the excavator hitting the south side of the overpass first, the support beams on the north side of the bridge sustained the most damage.
Crews will tie broken steel cables together and repair the concrete damage in order to open both lanes on the overpass and complete temporary repairs. View, comment or download pictures of the damage at http://www.flickr.com/photos/wsdot/sets/72157606094350288/.