Friday, September 17, 2010

Washington State initiatives mostly corporate funded


       Figures listed in the Public Disclosure Commission show that the majority of funding that has placed initiatives on the November ballot have come from corporate donors.

All fundraising and expenditures for candidates and initiatives must by law be recorded by the PDC to create transparency to voters regarding campaign funding. Ironically, the PDC was established in 1973 after enough signatures were placed on the ballot to make reporting mandatory.

       The purpose of the initiative process was to allow citizens to play a role in creating the laws that have an effect on them. But some have questioned the authenticity of the grassroots movement as corporate donations have enabled the use of paid signature gatherers and advertising.

       Andrew Villeneuve, founder of the Northwest Progressive Institute has been tracking what he considers to be a disturbing trend in the initiative process. Among them is I-1053.

       “It’s not actually Tim Eyman’s initiative anymore,” Villeneuve said. “It’s actually BP’s initiative. It’s Conoco Phillips initiative. It’s Tesoro’s initiative, along with Bank of America and other corporations.”

        Initiative 1053 is listed at the PDC under the names Citizens for Responsible Spending and Voters Want More Choices. To date a cumulative amount of $65,000 has been donated by BP, a British owned company. Conoco Phillips and Tesoro have each contributed $50,000. Bank of America has donated $10,000. The list is extensive and it is made up primarily of corporate donors.

        More than $6 million dollars has gone into I-1107, known as Stop the Food and Beverage Tax Hikes, for the American Beverage Association – which includes Pepsi and Coca-Cola.

        Costco has donated in excess of $800,000 to I-1100, known as Modernize Washington, which would allow the privatization of liquor sales in Washington State.

        “Every corporation is trying to maximize their own bottom line,” Villeneuve said. “They want to be able to maximize profits and not be responsible for the messes they create.”

        According to Villeneuve, in the case of some of the oil companies that have refineries on Puget Sound, they are trying to stonewall legislation that environmentalists have been trying to    pass through congress to increase hazardous substance fees.

        “Eyman’s 1053 is basically designed to jam the gears of democracy by saying that the legislature can’t approve any new revenue without a two-thirds vote.” Villeneuve explained. “It will only take one-third to kill a bill. Majority rule gets subverted in the process.”

         According to Villeneuve, many politicians will not want to risk losing their biggest campaign donors and will therefore vote against bills that will cost those companies money.

         Rep. Steve Kirby (D-Tacoma) agreed that the initiative process is no longer based on citizen action.

         “All it takes is money. It doesn’t matter where it comes from,” Kirby said. “Now it’s all done by rich people and corporate money. It’s one of the easiest ways to subvert the system. It’s a way to turn it on its ear.”

         According to Kirby, not only do donors not have to be from Washington State, but neither do those that gather signatures.

        “It’s a highly organized business. Some will even fly in small armies of gatherers in on planes from out of state,” Kirby said.

         Signature gathers are not required to be knowledgeable on the issue nor accurately disclose the intent of the behind the initiative.

        “It’s a problem,” Kirby said.”The courts have allowed them to lie under protection of the First Amendment.”

         The initiative process itself could be eliminated by an initiative. But all sides want the option, he said. Legitimate interests use the initiative process, and some even use paid gatherers.

        Kirby said that public disclosure is the best tool there is for now. As far as making the process more fair and transparent, Kirby doesn’t see a clear answer.

       “It’s possible there’s something we haven’t thought of yet,” he said. “But powerful corporations hire lawyers.”




Monday, January 18, 2010

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My Name Is Not "Those People"

Simply wonderful and well said....

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Unauthorized 9.12 Teabagger Tour

Oh My God!

Can you believe we live in a country with so many scary deranged people?

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The Filth and The Furious - The EPA's Most Wanted

The Environmental Protection Agency is turning up the heat on dirty criminals. Deputy director Doug Parker began compiling a list of the EPA’s “Most Wanted” in March of 2008 to ferret out those who are wanted on criminal investigation of environmental felonies. Although a relatively new endeavor, the list of 21 fugitives reaches back as far as 1996, when a man by the name of Mauro Valenzuela smuggled oxygen canisters onto an airliner, causing the deaths of 110 people when they ignited – causing the plane to crash into the everglades. Included on the roster are Albania Deleon, who ran an operation that hired workers to remove asbestos without proper certification, and two men who are believed to have trafficked ozone depleting coolants.

According to Cornelia Dean’s article in the New York Times, Parker states that the E.P.A. has “’180 agents fully authorized with arrest powers, carrying firearms’ around the country, but that it usually worked with state, local, and federal law enforcement agencies as well as the Coast Guard, the Homeland Security Department, and Interpol.”

While I applaud the idea behind the efforts of Parker and the agency, one omission I found glaringly obvious, was that of the range of penalties for these crimes. While Mauro Valenzuela would likely be brought up on charges that could include homicide, and is as of yet at large, what is to become of the perpetrator who places countless lives in danger in a more subtle manner that may span over a number of years? It has seemed that the victims often must rely on litigation for resolution, and if successful, may wait years for vindication. If ever they do. Twenty years after the massive travesty of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, which had been ignored by the behemoth corporation and was cleaned up by good Samaritans, the diminutive sum that they were ordered to pay was again reduced by the Supreme Court. While the Exxon episode may have been deemed an accident and, therefore, not criminal, they’re lack of response is beyond irresponsible. And in cases where people or corporations deliberately act in ways that put the public at risk, they should be penalized in a similar manner as if they used any other weapon.

So, bravo to Doug Parker and the E.P.A for putting a face on environmental terrorists. Let’s hope it’s not just a never seen tribute to the post office wall.

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Steven Colbert, Glenn Beck and FEAR!

Steven Colbert takes on glenn beck and the crazies at fox news. Even during the bush administration all they had to sell to the American people and the world was fear. You would think that they would have noticed that the vast majority of people in this country voted for HOPE, Change and Courage!

Here we have Steven Colbert telling us about beck' new War Room". This is followed by Steven Colbert's own version of the War Room called the "DOOM Bunker"

Have fun.

Steven Colbert and glenn beck's War Room.

Steven Colbert's DOOM Bunker.

When do we start referring to these people as crazy ass fear mongers who hate what the United States of America is REALLY all about? They only care about power and money. Wake up limbots! (previously known as republicans and conservatives)

Friday, March 06, 2009

Rebuilding our schools: the legacy of "no new taxes"

We are cross posting this for a Tacoma activist that is working hard for our schools.
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I am deep in the throes of campaigning for a local school bond election. Every year or two our school district has to undertake this ritual, the legacy of a state constitutional amendment that limited property taxes to 1% of assessed value, unless voters approve a bond levy by a 60% majority. "So what?" You say. "Shouldn't the voters have a say?" Well, yes, in theory, but in practice it means that necessary school construction projects are put off until our schools are literally crumbling around the kids. It also means that in times like these, when construction prices are low and construction jobs are desperately needed, voters balk at the idea of any additional property taxes.

But all of that is just talk. It is easy enough to say "fine, but not now" to school construction until you see the reality of what some of our kids are asked to live with every day.

This is a hallway ceiling at Hunt Middle School in Tacoma, Washington. Large parts of the school feature water damage just as severe. Maintenance staff dutifully replace ceiling panels and repaint when they can, but the water just seeps right through.

This is the roof that produced those leaks. When Hunt Middle School was built in 1957, I don't think school officials ever envisioned the days of sky high materials costs and 1% property tax caps. Faced with a booming student population, contractors used "imaginative" measures to cut costs, including a plywood based structure and a "California style" flat roof. 30 years of Northwest weather and no roof replacement funds have created the mold-laden environment its students have to learn in today.

Today, Hunt's problems extend far beyond the roof, and school officials must ask voters to approve enough funds for complete building replacement.

Across town at Stewart Middle School, a stately 1920s vintage building is a pleasant site to the casual observer. Inside, wires are strung along bare pipes, and students attend after school programs in rooms with missing ceiling tiles and severe water damage. (Caused by an electrical fire 2 years ago.)

School districts face this problem throughout the State of Washington. Other states have also jumped on the tax cap bandwagon, creating massive system-wide disasters like the classroom trailer-ridden California schools. 30+ years after most of these laws were passed, school bond elections have become an annual tradition in many parts of the country.

For the parents, teachers and school officials working on the school bond election, Tacoma's school building crisis seems obvious and urgent. Getting that message out to voters has been a nearly insurmountable task, however. School bond elections can't be funded by the district, and our total budget for promoting this 300 million dollar bond issue is about $20,000. (And much of that not materializing.) With the local press concentrating on the cost, our campaign strategy has come down to parent volunteers forwarding emails of school photos, late into the night.

Our complex system of school funding is a nightmare for school bond campaigns. Given the task of voting "yes" or "no" on the school bond, voters take this as an opportunity to express dissatisfaction with virtually any school-related issue, from the amount of school supplies teachers use, to larger more important issues like the state's persistent achievement gap. Their concerns can and should be addressed, but getting the message across that school bonds are only for buildings has been very challenging. The only state to expressly guarantee ample funding for basic education in its constitution, the State of Washington is charged with funding educational programming needs like teachers, textbooks, and curriculum. In the absence of a state income tax, that funding is rarely secure.

Tacoma's school funding mess is not unique. Schools like Hunt and Stewart are a vivid illustration of the long-term consequences of tax caps, cost cutting, and the general nearsightedness of the past several decades of education funding. In Washington State we're working hard to change this myopic legacy, but a little more help from the federal government wouldn't hurt. As the Obama administration considers new education initiatives and asks the American public to accept the stimulus plan, please think of Hunt Middle School, and ask your legislators to vote yes for change.

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Please visit Tacoma Citizens for Schools on their website and on Facebook.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

What A Real President Looks and Sounds Like!

2/28/09: Your Weekly Address from White House on Vimeo

"I realize that passing this budget won’t be easy. Because it represents real and dramatic change, it also represents a threat to the status quo in Washington. I know that the insurance industry won’t like the idea that they’ll have to bid competitively to continue offering Medicare coverage, but that’s how we’ll help preserve and protect Medicare and lower health care costs for American families. I know that banks and big student lenders won’t like the idea that we’re ending their huge taxpayer subsidies, but that’s how we’ll save taxpayers nearly $50 billion and make college more affordable. I know that oil and gas companies won’t like us ending nearly $30 billion in tax breaks, but that’s how we’ll help fund a renewable energy economy that will create new jobs and new industries. I know these steps won’t sit well with the special interests and lobbyists who are invested in the old way of doing business, and I know they’re gearing up for a fight as we speak. My message to them is this:

"So am I."

More here:

All I can say is WOW! It sure is nice to have a real President again!

Check out

Monday, November 03, 2008

Have You Voted?! Can You Vote?

If you have not voted yet, then Please Do So Now!

If you must wait until the polls open, then get there early!

If you are voting by mail then please get it in the mail NOW or better yet, take it to your local elections office.

Protect your right to vote. We have included some useful information below.
The following is taken from a diary at DailyKos.

Time Off to Vote for Employees — A State by State Survey

Most states require employers to provide time for employees to vote on election day. While these laws vary in each state, they generally require employers to give employees time off to vote if the polls aren’t open two or three hours outside of the employee’s regular shift.

Much more here:

Find your state and see what the law says. If you don't like it, then put it on your list of things to CHANGE in future local elections!

Sure you're registered? Check at

ACLU Voter Protection Hotline (1-877-523-2792)

Lawyers' Committe Hotline (1-800-OUR-VOTE / 1-800-687-8683)

or go to to report or follow irregularities.

Some additional information from RFK Jr.:

Heads up!!!!! RFK, Jr. Sends another warning!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

"The Ad"

And what a great "ad" it is!

This is not about I, me or you, it is about we.

Often when you see great images and speeches that pull at your heart, they are laced with words and images that speak to a scary form nationalism and militarism.

With Barack Obama you feel the pride of being an American and fighting for what is right and good about this country but you also feel the pride of being a citizen of this planet.

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

More Lies and More of the Same

Lies and Flip Flops.

Do we really want to continue down the path of 4 more years of George Bush and Dick Cheney?

More of the Same?

John McCain is proud of voting with George Bush over 90% of the time. No.. really, these are his words. See and hear him speak them in the video above.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Barack Obama chooses Joe Biden

I know we are not even close to being the first, but I wanted to make sure that we mentioned Barack Obama's choice for VP. It is Joe Biden.

I think this is a good choice, there are others that I would have chosen over Joe Biden but after giving it some thought, I think Barack Obama made a good and wise choice.

Washington Woman will have more to say on this later.

For now, let us give a big THUMBS UP to the Democratic ticket of Barack Obama and Joe Biden!

Obama/Biden 08

Sunday, July 06, 2008

"A cookout with some bastards" - by johnny venom @ MyDD

A friend of mine just turned me on to a diary written over at MyD called: A cookout with some bastards.

This is one of the funniest and scariest diaries I have read in some time. His experiences with his conservative/republican friends and family are just amazing. I wonder how many of you have had the same experiences?

It amazes me how dense people can be about the truths that stare them in the face. How ill informed so many people in the country are. What dittoheads and lock steppers the republican base is. It is like they do not have a original, true and genuine thought in their head.

I will give you a taste of "johnny venom's" diary, but for the full experiance, you must visit A cookout with some bastards at MyDD.

Every year I attend a BBQ held by a friend of the family. Her name is Deborah and sadly is a big-time Republican, though oddly enough not so much a conservative (well socially at least). Now her late father and my father go way back, fought together in North Africa in WW2, so these people are practically family. Well, as mentioned, she holds an Independence Day BBQ cook out every year, and my father goes out of respect... and a free meal. Outside of me, sometimes, he's the only other non-Republican at these things.

Now, since 2000, since I started finding myself parting ever farther from Republican politics, my appearances at this cook out have been on and off. The reason being was that many of the folks there are die hard conservatives, and arguments tended to be twenty to one. You can probably guess who was that 'one.' Its a real turn about, considering, that Debbie was the person that got me into politics (particularly the GOP) when I was a young Johnny Venom. The folks at the BBQ were my political kin for a long time, and when I turned the other way, it came to them as a shock.
You'd be amazed, once you change parties, how fast your "friends" can quickly become your enemies. Well, it's not like they wish me ill will, well most of them don't, just that they find it much better if I weren't voting ...

Now conversations ebb and flow on all sorts of things. So, instead, I'm just gonna break them down by topics. You don't really have to know their names, they're conservatives. And, for the most part, you've probably already got an idea on what they are going say for the most part. Still, allow me to irritate your senses a bit just to show you what kind of assholes we're dealing with who want more power or at least keep what they got ...

"Barack Obama"

Deborah finally came to our table. She saw my Obama button (fuck it, I wear that everywhere!) and she gave a sour face to me. Suddenly, she rubbed her forearm and then pointed at my button.

Deborah: You see this John? Whit skin. You think he likes that? No way. I wouldn't vote for an anti-Semite, he hates Jews John. You know he's really a Muslim, don't you?

Me: Deb, that's a bunch of crap, and you know it. There is no way in hell I'm going to believe all that. Besides, the man's half white, for crying out loud!

Female Plastics Lady: But still a Muslim.

Me: No, he's not!

Deborah: How do you know? The media? They want a black person in so they can feel better about themselves.

Me: Because he isn't. And as for the media...huh?

Old Male Conservative Engineer: And how about that reverend? You telling me, for twenty years he didn't know what kind of church that was.

Me: Wait a minute, if you're admitting he went to church, then you are in agreement he isn't a Muslim?

Old Male Conservative Engineer: No, because they can hide their faith very well.

Me: I think you're crazier than Janis (Middle Age Female Conservative)!

This is just a taste, so please give yourself a treat and a headache and read the rest for yourself.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Next on Meet the Press

While still basking in the afterglow of our very special interview with Rep. Dennis Kucinich, I learned of the sad news of the passing of NBC commentator, Tim Russert. Many of us felt a connection to Tim as we had our weekly Sunday rendezvous with him during Meet the Press. I know I certainly did. I was shocked to hear that, at the young age of 58, he had suffered from an apparent heart attack while in studio recording voiceovers for his show. It certainly gives pause for thought.

The media and the American audience has been dealt a great loss today.