After reading a short article relating physical strength to political preference, I needed to scratch a philosophical itch.
If, as I bring up below, political attitudes can be reduced to how big a person’s muscles are, then what is politics, anyway?
The ancient Greeks valued physical fitness, but it doesn’t show up much in one of their prime texts on politics, called appropriately enough, “Politics,” by Aristotle.
Aristotle describes in “Politics” his ideal city-state, in which everyone would hold a political office and own private property. Also, “every citizen will possess moral virtue and the equipment to carry it out in practice,” according to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
The Greeks were always good for describing the ideal, I think full well knowing that it doesn’t and won’t appear in the real world. So Aristotle describes his second-favorite type of government: Rule by the polity (middle class), “which stands between the rich and the poor.”
Quotes inside this block quote are from “Politics.” The entire block is from the Stanford Encyclopedia:
Those (the middle class) who possess the goods of fortune in moderation find it “easiest to obey the rule of reason.” They are accordingly less apt than the rich or poor to act unjustly toward their fellow citizens. A constitution based on the middle class is the mean between the extremes of oligarchy (rule by the rich) and democracy (rule by the poor). “That the middle [constitution] is best is evident, for it is the freest from faction: where the middle class is numerous, there least occur factions and divisions among citizens.” The middle constitution is therefore both more stable and more just than oligarchy and democracy.
To take this to the present day, one could argue that rule by the middle class is now an unachievable ideal. The middle class has shrunk to become less and less significant. So Aristotle’s observation might explain these contentious political times — where the middle class is numerous, factions are fewer, and vice-versa.
What we have now in general is an oligarchy, a rule by the rich. Not too many poor people are getting elected to Congress or the state Legislature. The smaller the political body, however, the better the mix of rich, middle class and poor in elected offices. This might be why the debates in city and county councils are the most politically interesting and meaningful.
If Aristotle is a bit heady, then that won’t be a problem with a recent study, reported in USA Today, which links strength to politics.
Someone actually sampled bicep size, income and political belief to come up with the conclusion that strong people tend to fight more for their self-interest, “in the same way strong cavemen would have physically fought for theirs.”
To boil it down, rich people with big muscles tend to be conservative. Poor strong people tend to like the social welfare programs. Rich weak people are more liberal with wealth than their stronger peers, and weak poor people don’t fight for redistribution.
From the USA Today story:
“While many think of politics as a modern phenomenon, it has — in a sense — always been with our species,” one of the researchers says.
So does that mean we forget Aristotle and look to the cavemen? What about women, cave or otherwise? Doesn’t the USA Today-reported study overlook their role entirely?
Today and tomorrow are the last days to file for candidacy in the dozens of local offices up for election this year.
While most of the political conversation is about the city councils and county council, less publicized offices should not be overlooked. Thirteen fire districts in Whatcom County will hold elections this year. As of this morning, some of the positions have no filers.
North Whatcom Fire and Rescue, a.k.a. Whatcom Fire District 21, has an open seat on its five-member board of commissioners, and the board’s chairman appealed to Birch Bay residents to file.
This came to me via Kathy Berg, chairwoman of the Birch Bay Steering Committee, who sends regular notices to people on her email list.
To: The Birch Bay Community
From: Bill Salter, Commissioner
North Whatcom Fire & Rescue
aka Whatcom County Fire District #21
Bill Salter here, we have Commissioner Rodger Hawley’s term of Commissioner up at the end of this year, and he has decided not to run.
I was wanting to ask you if you know of someone from the Birch Bay area that may be interested, in running for this position, filing ends this Friday.
My concern is that I and Larry McPhail are the only ones in this area.
I would really like to see someone from the Birch Bay area on the Board with us, it would be nice to have someone with a little Business background.
They do not need to have a fire background at all; sometimes it is better that they do not.
With all the new growth in the Birch Bay area it would help me a lot to have another local voice from Birch Bay area, as this area pays the majority of the Tax Base that North Whatcom receives.
Chairman of the Board, N.W.F.R.S.
It should be mentioned that someone has filed for that seat on the Fire District 21 board: Dean Berkeley of Blaine. What stood out was Salter’s encouragement to people who might otherwise think they aren’t qualified for fire commissioner: No fire background required. “Sometimes it is better that they do not (have it.)”
This time of year, the governor sits in a room with a table and a photographer, signing bills into the state code.
One of those in his stack on Friday, May 10, was SB 5052 allowing for a fourth Whatcom County Superior Court judge. Judge Charles Snyder appears to have argued persuasively that the county needs a fourth judge to handle the backlog of criminal and especially civil cases. Court commissioners handle some cases but can’t hear jury trials.
It’s meaningful to compare Whatcom to its immediate neighbor to the south, Skagit County. That county has 58 percent of Whatcom’s population and four Superior Court judges.
Between now and January 2015, when the new judge will take the bench, the county will undertake a remodel of the courthouse to create a new courtroom. There will also be an election for the new judge in 2014.
While the county foots the bill for the construction, it and the state divide up the tab for the judge him/herself. They split the salary down the middle, and the state covers benefits. The county pays for support staff.
The bill breezed through the two state houses this session. It first passed the Senate, 48-1, in January. It passed the House on April 17 by a vote of 91-6.
Below is a photo of Gov. Jay Inslee signing the Whatcom judge bill. From left are Tom McBride, representing Bellingham and Whatcom County; Mellani McAleenan of the Board of Judicial Administration, which initially recommended a fourth judge for Whatcom; Gov. Inslee; Judge Snyder; and Rep. Zack Hudgins, D-Tukwila, chair of the House Appropriations Committee on General Government.
Not pictured but worthy of mention are the two primary sponsors, both of whom represent Bellingham and Whatcom County: Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale; and Rep. Kristine Lytton, D-Anacortes.
U.S. Rep. Suzan DelBene and her staff are touting her influence on a pending agriculture bill as evidence of the freshman Democrat’s effectiveness in a Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
DelBene serves on the House Agriculture Committee, and her office reports that U.S. Rep. Frank Lucas, R-Okla., the committee chairman, has approved job-training funds for food stamp recipients in a wide-ranging agriculture bill, at DelBene’s urging.
“After months of hard work, I’m pleased that the Farm Bill introduced by Chairman Lucas today includes my proposal to help struggling families receive the training and education they need to get a good job. It’s a good example of what can get done if folks are willing to sit down and work together,” DelBene said in a press release.
DelBene staffer Viet Shelton explained that the bill would provide $30 million in funding to allow some other states to try to duplicate the success of a Washington state job training program for food aid recipients. About 60 percent of those who participate in the job training program are no longer in need of food aid within two years, Shelton said.
As Shelton explained it, this is a pilot program, meaning that if the evidence indicates the $30 million has been well-spent, getting people off public assistance, it could be expanded further.
The full Agriculture Committee has yet to vote on the bill, but that vote could occur in the next day or two, Shelton said.
DelBene, of Medina, represents the 1st District, redrawn in 2012 to include much of Whatcom County.
As most of you know, it’s filing week, and those who aspire to elected office in Whatcom County are paying their fee and signing up for this year’s primary and/or general election ballots.
If you have it in mind to run for office this year, whether it’s Port of Bellingham, city council, Whatcom County Council, school board, fire district board, water or cemetery district, etc., then you have until Friday to file online or at the Auditor’s Office on the first floor of the courthouse. But if you’re one of those people, you already knew that.
You also know that the complete list of those who have filed is updated continuously during the day on the auditor’s page. Two days in, and
45 65 candidates have filed for dozens of offices. There aren’t too many head-to-head competitions yet, but that will change.
I originally said 45 filers at the end of the day Tuesday when there were 65. I had neglected to count water districts, cemetery districts, hospital districts, and park and rec districts.
Dan Robbins and Renata B. Kowalczyk are vying for a seat that will be vacated at the port.
Michelle Luke seeks Carl Weimer’s seat on the county council; Weimer has also filed.
Incumbent Jon Mutchler will square off against Robert W. Hakim for Ferndale City Council.
In Lynden, it’s Nick H. Laninga vs. Rex E. Dudley for council.
The seats with two candidates are of course still open for more candidates. No matter how large the field, it will be whittled down to two during the August primary.
The Herald will have a full rundown of all who have filed this weekend. The Politics Blog is excited for the upcoming campaign season.
If you thought the special session of the state Legislature, which opened Monday, would be only about passing bills directly related to the budget, and getting the budget itself passed, then you would be wrong.
Tomorrow, the Republican chairwoman of the senate Governmental Operations Committee will hold a workshop to figure out a way to make drunken driving by elected officials grounds for recall.
Pam Roach, R-”rural Auburn,” has observed that recent efforts to recall Pierce County’s assessor and Pacific’s mayor were stuck in court because the recall law is vague on the specific issue of drunken driving.
One idea is to include “moral turpitude” among the grounds for recall. We already have misfeasance and malfeasance.
I wonder if the chemical dependency community is going to show up at tomorrow’s workshop. They make it clear that alcoholism is not moral turpitude but is rather a disease that affects the brain (as in long-term changes to the brain, not just the immediate effect).
Randy Dorn, the state’s chief of education, pleaded guilty to DUI in 2010. He ran unopposed and was re-elected in 2012. In 2002, then-Whatcom County Executive Pete Kremen was driving over the legal limit, was contrite, and continues to enjoy a successful political career.
The following paragraph was added about one hour after this post went up, for the sake of better completeness:
Then state representative and current Bellingham Mayor Kelli Linville received deferred prosecution for her 1999 DUI, according to this 2003 list from The Seattle Times.
In a case not relevant to the recall issue, Ferndale’s building inspector resigned this month after being arrested in March for DUI while on the clock and driving a city truck. His case is still pending.
Here’s the announcement of the recall workshop from Sen. Roach’s office:
Shall elected officials be subject to recall for driving drunk?
OLYMPIA…Sen. Pam Roach (R-rural Auburn), chair of the Senate Governmental Operations Committee, will consider including drunk driving as a reason for recalling public officials in a special session workshop to be held 10 a.m., Wednesday, in Olympia.
The recall discussion, including a question and answer session, was prompted by difficulties citizens have had in putting together recall campaigns in King and Pierce counties. Roach noted the recall efforts against Pierce County Assessor Dale Washam and Pacific Mayor Cy Sun.
Because of a lack of clarity in the recall law, these campaigns are frequently challenged to the level of the State Supreme Court before they ever go to the voters, Roach stated.
“The citizens should not have to finance a trip to the Supreme Court to effect a recall,” said Roach.
Roach wants to determine which misfeasance, malfeasance or other actions on the part of an elected official could meet legal criteria for a recall campaign.
“Clearly, the triggers for a recall are not adequately defined,” said Roach. “The law should be more specific and easily understood when it comes to recalls. Elected officials need to be held accountable, and sometimes waiting for the next election is not soon enough.”
Moral turpitude, an example of which would be drunk driving, will also be discussed as a potential condition for recall.
Roach said she has had an interest in recall campaigns ever since the recall of former Senate Majority Leader Jim West from his subsequent position as mayor of Spokane.
The New York Times for more than a century has had the tagline, “All the news that’s fit to print.”
I always liked Rolling Stone founding publisher/editor Jann Wenner’s take on the slogan: “All the news that fits.” The magazine used that line from issue 1 in 1967.
There are other variations, as in Hugh Hefner’s once-used “All the nudes that’s fit to print.” There’s a conservative parody of the New York Times original: “Any news that fits our agenda, we print.”
Anyhow, in the spirit of Wenner, my Sunday story on the political relationship between state Sens. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, was about as long as space would allow. I wrote in the story about the climate change bill and the Model Toxics Control Act bill, but there were other enviro bills I interviewed the two senators about:
SB 5603 sets up a cabinet-level group to oversee coastal issues, including habitat protection and ocean acidification. This was one of Ranker’s bills.
Ranker thanked his supporters for their help with the bill, calling it “an important component in our state’s overall, comprehensive, coordinated approach to addressing one of the more pressing issue of our time – climate change.”
Ericksen: “This was one that Sen. Ranker said he really wanted. We were trying to work together in a bipartisan fashion.”
HB 1294, banning harmful flame retardants. The bill passed both houses in different forms and is in conference committee.
Ranker: “He killed the bill. … Doug wanted to do a bill that stripped everything except for the banning of two chemicals already in the process of being phased out.” One of the more important features of the bill, in Ranker’s view, that Ericksen removed gave the Department of Ecology the authority to ban substances as they are introduced — a less reactive/more proactive approach.
Ericksen: This new power gave Ecology “a very wide discretion” that most people in the Legislature didn’t want. “Banning the chemicals is not controversial. The only controversial part is delegating the authority.”
Language change in the budget: Ericksen changed references to “ocean acidification” to “ocean pH balance.” Ocean acidification, scientists say, occurs because the oceans are absorbing the extra carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by fossil-fuel burning, increasing the ocean’s acidity. This is said to jeopardize the calcium carbonate shells of shellfish and tiny salmon food. The argument for Ericksen’s word change is that the ocean’s pH is 8.14, where 7.0 is the line between acidic (low numbers) and basic (high). While the ocean’s pH has been dropping, it is still on the basic end of the spectrum.
Ericksen: “Our oceans are not becoming acidic. And so I think the term (pH balance) is more accurate in that we’re looking at ocean pH levels rather than the misnamed ocean acidification issue.”
Ranker: Washington state is in the forefront of trying to solve the ocean acidification problem, but a language change can cause the state to lose credibility. “People (especially federal and private grant providers) start to question whether we’re serious.”
Another bill, HB 1017, wasn’t a high priority for Ranker (at least in the statement’s I’ve heard/can recall) but it was for Northwest Energy Coalition. The bill, which Ericksen did not bring to a vote of his Energy, Environment and Telecommunications Committee, would have created efficiency requirements for battery chargers, shower heads, faucets, urinals and outdoor floodlights. Proponents called it a “common sense” bill that had broad support when it passed the House.
Ericksen: “Many people don’t want the state telling them what kind of shower head they have in their house. … They want to have a shower that has some power to it, and they don’t want the state telling them they can’t. … We will be taking a look at battery chargers.”
Go here for more information on the above bills. Enter the bill number in the search box.
Just when all those IRS jokes were petering out…
Now, by the Obama administration’s own admission, the IRS has been singling out nonprofits with “tea party” or “patriot” in their names to see if they are abiding by the rules of 501(c)4 entities and are not engaged in “electioneering.”
The Drudge Report is having a field day with this news. Between that and the other story that won’t go away about Obama’s administration — the terrorist attack on Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012, that the White House initially waved off as some spontaneous reaction to an anti-Muslim video — Drudge’s front page is mostly covered. There’s even a link to a piece quoting Michele Bachmann that said Obama released the IRS news to distract attention away from Benghazi.
The Whatcom Tea Party’s website links to an AP story about the IRS apologizing for its unfair treatment of tea-party groups.
Under the link, the Whatcom Tea Party had this to say:
It’s good that IRS apologized, but unacceptable that they needed to! Is it any wonder that The Whatcom Tea Party demands a return to Constitutional rule? Bureaucratic tyranny is just like regular tyranny, except harder to impeach!
The local tea party linked on Facebook to a Bellingham blog “Sipping Hot Green Tea,” by “Shelly,” who asks, “Should the Tea Party accept the IRS’s apology?”
Incidentally, the Whatcom Tea Party is not a 501(c)3 or 4 and would not be on the IRS’s hypersensitive radar, said Ellen Baker, a founding member and former board member.
The local group is strictly educational, Baker said, and keeps itself at arm’s length from other tea party groups and any political funding.
“We’re very small-fry and never were” affiliated with political parties or lobbyists, Baker said.
“We’ve never taken a dime from any kind of political party or lobbyists. We don’t touch them.”
Having just finished a longer Sunday piece looking at the political relationship between Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, and Kevin Ranker, D-Orcas Island, I found the right kind of light reading to carry me through a Friday afternoon.
This piece on TheAtlantic.com opines on why about half as many Americans identify as “liberal” compared to “conservative.” A big part of the problem is that the conservative credo is easy to say: fiscally conservative, small-government, business-friendly — concepts that are well understood by the general public.
Liberals can’t just flip those descriptors around and embrace things like “government is good.” The federal government in particular has fallen sway to special interests and often isn’t doing the common person any good with the decisions it makes. The author of the piece, Amitai Etzioni, comes up with some good examples of decisions that baldly serve not just special but exceedingly narrow interests.
The fix to the liberal conundrum, Etzioni writes, is to go populist. He ventures into a critique of the Occupy movement, arguing their message was populist but too diffuse to be effective.
In an unusual move, Mayor Kelli Linville has endorsed the candidacy of Pinky Vargas for the Fourth Ward City Council seat in the 2013 election.
Vargas is seeking the seat being vacated by Stan Snapp. The other announced candidate in that race is Clayton Petree.
Vargas announced the Linville endorsement in a press release.
“I am proud to endorse Pinky Vargas for the open City Council position in Ward Four,” Linville said in the press release. ” Pinky has the demonstrated ability to work with business owners to help them save energy with an attentive eye to their bottom line. We need more of that perspective building consensus and spurring action on City Council.”
I was trying to think of other examples of a sitting mayor endorsing City Council candidates in Bellingham. Searching my mental files and Herald archives, I could not come up with any. If you have examples, please note them in the comments section.
Snapp has already endorsed Vargas. She also has endorsements from council members Cathy Lehman and Gene Knutson and former Whatcom Democrats chair and 42nd Legislative District candidate Natalie McClendon.
Vargas said her campaign’s formal kickoff will be Tuesday, May 14 from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention on Bay Street downtown. Everyone is invited.
Vargas is an efficiency outreach manager for Puget Sound Energy.
Additional information on Pinky Vargas and her campaign is available at www.votepinkyvargas, on Facebook, or by contacting the campaign directly at email@example.com or (360)224-4313
The stage continues to be set for a lively campaign season in Ferndale this summer and fall.
On Monday, May 6, Stacy Miller announced she would run against Brent Goodrich. The incumbent is a fiscal conservative and business-friendly. Miller’s resume, while not including any elected offices, is long with public service of a different sort: low-income housing, employment assistance, domestic violence prevention.
On the surface, this looks like a race in which voters will have a real choice. Not saying Goodrich and Miller don’t have a lot of similarities. It just appears their priorities are different.
Miller is also part of a youth movement in the council races. In his announcement, council member Jon Mutchler touted himself as the council’s youngest member, at 53. Miller is on this side of the half-century mark, at 48. Then there’s Eric Kelton, a whole generation younger at 31.
Here’s Miller’s announcement:
Grant Specialist/Program Manager Announces Candidacy for Ferndale City Council
Stacy Miller, a local grant specialist and program manager, has announced her candidacy for Ferndale City Council, Position 7.
“During my career, I’ve had the privilege of working closely with state and local government,” Miller said. “I’ve seen firsthand the power a small group of people have to shape a community. It is my desire to listen to each of your voices, and help guide Ferndale into a place our children and grandchildren will be proud to call home.”
Miller works with Whatcom Commission Against Domestic Violence in Bellingham, where she manages the Service, Training, Education and Prevention (STEP) grant with the Ferndale School District. Ferndale was one of only nine recipients nationwide of a STEP grant from the Department of Justice – Office of Violence Against Women.
“My work with the Ferndale School District has been very rewarding,” Miller said. “I have been working to develop a teen dating violence prevention program for our community, which involves working closely with students and staff at the Horizon and Vista Middle Schools, Ferndale High School, and Windward High School, as well as with parents, Lummi Victims of Crime, and the Ferndale Police Department.”
Before taking leadership of the STEP grant implementation, Miller worked for the State of Washington, managing the WorkFirst and Veterans employment programs. During that time Stacy partnered with Whatcom County service providers to address the needs and help to remove the barriers that keep people from finding work. Over a two-year period, she, her staff and community partners, developed a best-practice employment program that addressed the root cause of the unemployment and put long term unemployed adults to work. This model is still being used.
Previously, Miller worked for 12 years at Skagit County Community Action, managing and writing federal and state housing grants for low-income families and children. As part of those duties, she was responsible for an annual budget of more than $2 million.
“For more than a decade, I worked closely with Skagit County Commissioners and local city councils, and provided technical assistance to other housing providers in the County,” Miller said. “I’m very comfortable working with elected officials and their constituents to solve local problems.”
Miller is looking forward to meeting as many community members as possible in the next six few months and is available to speak to any group that would like to learn more about her.
“I am a firm believer that great things begin with small conversations and when conversations turn to action, great change can occur,” Miller said.
Miller and her spouse, Bert, have been together for nearly 30 years and have two children, Matti, 7 and Justin, 10.
At the crux of the budget debate in the state Legislature is how to meet a roughly $1 billion shortfall and spend another $1 billion on education while otherwise making sure revenue matches expenses.
The Democrats, possibly emboldened by a recent Supreme Court decision tossing the two-thirds-vote rule for tax increases, are considering new revenue to meet these goals. (OK, the Dems are calling it extending existing taxes and eliminating tax breaks.) The Republicans place higher priority on stripping government down, making it as lean and efficient as possible, while also cutting some programs and transferring money between funds.
How to make government leaner? Will closing the Bellingham field office of the Department of Ecology save money or cost the state even more? How exactly do government departments make do with less, just like a family on a budget? (In this link, for practical purposes I am considering Tim Sheldon, D-Potlach, to be an “R.” He is one of the two Democrats who joined the 23 Republicans in the Senate to form the majority coalition caucus.)
One approach to increasing government efficiency isn’t coming from the Legislature but is more of a grassroots effort, undertaken by individual departments with the support now of the state Auditor’s Office.
The Kaizen approach caught on in the 1980s when American businesses faced the fact that Japanese automakers were kicking the tailpipe of their U.S. competitors. Japanese industry was using the approach, which is based on steady, incremental improvement in processes.
It is a deliberate approach that can give dramatic results early. It seems, though, that Kaizen might have diminishing returns. As more and more of the obviously inefficient processes are taken out early, department heads have to look more deeply to find ways to make more modest improvements.
Whatcom County Planning and Development Services took a first pass at improving its procedures during a five-day Kaizen training last month. Here’s what the department had to say about its efforts to gain efficiency at processing residential building permits:
Whatcom County PDS Completes Lean Academy Kaizen Event
BELLINGHAM — Whatcom County Planning and Development Services staff participated in a “Kaizen Event” April 15-19 aimed at making incremental, continuous improvements in process, focusing on the reduction of residential permit turnaround from 30 business days to 15.
The first day of the workshop involved training staff on how to think lean in all their processes. The majority of the week focused on outlining the existing permit process flow and the time involved with each step in order to define and eliminate non-value added steps (waste). Issues were identified in each area that needed improvement and staff listed how to fix them then rewrote the process and tested it. An implementation plan was developed, customer and staff satisfaction were defined, and tasks were assigned with specific due dates; all designed to allow staff to keep focused throughout the implementation and follow-through stages.
An unexpected benefit from the training was the team building that was shared by all who were able to participate. The facilitator kept staff focused on the goal and a report was given to County Executive Jack Louws, Human Resource Manager, Karen Goens; four state auditors, a representative from the Building Industry Association of Washington and staff participants. The team will follow up with more in-depth meetings to discuss the changes and make any adjustments to the new process at 30, 60 and 90 day intervals.
Some of the initial changes that the public will see are:
The public will be able to drop in to the office during business hours for a pre-application screening. Staff will help to analyze their project and discuss all of the permits or reviews that will be necessary. Staff may recommend that the applicant request a natural resource predevelopment site inspection prior to submitting a building permit to assess natural resource issues (i.e. presence of wetlands, etc.) The goal of this is to prepare an applicant so all issues are being addressed before the permit application submittal appointment.
Effective May 7, 2013 residential building permit application submittals will be held Monday through Friday from 8:30-12. Only fully complete applications will be taken in, and checklists are being made to notify the public on what a “complete application” is.
It is clear that many of the changes being made will affect the public, land owners, builders, architects and consultants. Meetings will be set up with various groups to explain and answer questions about the changes. In addition, the webpage:
will be updated regularly with new information, forms and checklists as they are
The event was facilitated by a consultant sponsored by the Washington state Auditor’s Office in coordination with the Local Government Performance Center. Whatcom County PDS was the first of five counties in Washington State to participate in the Lean Academy.
If you would like more information please contact Sam Ryan at 360-676-6907.
For those interested in learning more about Kaizen and the county planning department’s experience, the department will brief the county council on the training at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, May 7, in council chambers at the courthouse, 311 Grand Ave., Bellingham.
It is a special thing when politicians speak their mind — I mean really let people know what they think, and not just about an issue dear to them.
Reporters become inured to statements by elected officials, knowing they often say what they think their constituents want to hear, or a practiced talking point, and not anything that’s viscerally real to them.
This expectation can lead to some earth-shifting moments during interviews, as when Ferndale Mayor Gary Jensen took responsibility for Ferndale’s unpopular and sometimes damaging (to appliances) hard well water.
This was what Jensen told me in December, when I interviewed him for a Jan. 2 story on Ferndale’s water. This quote didn’t make the story:
You better go into any leadership job knowing … the buck stops here. Ultimately everything is my fault because I’m responsible. I’m supervising the people who supervise the people. I understand that. It’s a weight you have to bear.
Ferndale City Council member Jon Mutchler also has some advice for would-be elected leaders. He told me he posted what follows last night on his Facebook account, with a couple minor tweaks. I saw both versions, and this version is certainly no tamer than the original.
As Mutchler says, next week is the week to file for a space on the ballots this summer and fall. If you are thinking about running for office, the one-term councilman (who himself is running for re-election) would have you read these rules of disqualification:
Filing season is coming up (May 13-17) and I am asked now and again, especially in late spring, on whether someone should run for this or that office. Most of the time I say, “Go for it, why not? How can I help?”
But some people should not run — for anything, except perhaps sewer inspector.
Let me opine on that theme. I shall avoid Red/Blue issues here. I am sorry if I come across a little feisty. But at least you get the candid and honest Jon.
1. If your wife hates your guts, or your ex-wife hates your guts, or your kids can’t stand you, we’ll likely hate your guts too. Don’t run!
2. If you’re a partisan-ideologue-Kool-Aid-drinking-rigid-non-thinking-political-hack-conformist who can’t see the practical needs and opportunities of your city or county past your dark Blue or Red blinders, don’t run! You’re worthless.
3. If you’re a big immature baby that can’t handle being on the losing side of a vote now and again or criticism from a colleague or citizen, don’t run!
4. If you hold grudges and can’t look your fellow man (or woman) straight in the eye and learn how to work with people with whom you disagree, don’t run!
5. If you got such low class and character that you’d vote for or against a measure, just to punish someone you don’t like, or benefit someone you do, don’t run!
6. If you’re too lazy to do your homework, think for yourself, or study up on all issues pertaining to your job, then don’t run! You’re a lazy dummy.
7. If you’re a wife beater or child abuser or secret pervert, don’t run! Just turn yourself in.
8. If you think you’re the smartest person in the room and everyone else is less qualified than you, don’t run! You’re the idiot. Trust me, you really are.
9. If you can’t recall once in the last year where said, “Got that wrong — bad call — I made a mistake — my bad…..Sorry.” Then don’t run! You’re an arrogant buffoon.
10. If you don’t like people, would rather listen to yourself than the concerns of others, or can’t tolerate the complaining of others, then don’t run! Remember, it’s called PUBLIC SERVICE.
11. If you are a one-item, single agenda, one song politician, don’t run! I don’t care if you want to save the spotted unicorns or you don’t want John Coltrane in Whatcom County, there are too many complex issues needing your full and disinterested attention.
12. If you see this office as merely a stepping stone to higher office, don’t run! You need to be here and now present on this job. That’s why you’re elected.
13. If you can’t be polite and respectful in disagreement, but have the need to belittle or dismiss citizens, please don’t run! You’re an embarrassment.
14. If you haven’t read the US Constitution and Bill of Rights lately, and don’t know who the major authors of each are, for heaven’s sake, don’t run!
15. If you don’t like yourself, chances are we won’t either. Don’t run!
16. If you think there’s only one way — your way — to solve community challenges, then don’t run!
17. If you can’t respect the pocketbook, property, jobs, dreams, choices, ethnicity, beliefs, freedoms, families, responsibilities, and opinions of others, then please, PLEASE, don’t run! This is America.
Jon R. Mutchler
A day of protest approaches for those who say they stand for the 99 percent. (Full disclosure: I am one of the 99 percent.)
Occupy Bellingham on Wednesday, May 8, will appear at the Bank of America branch at Cornwall and Holly. This is a repeat of protests that go back at least as far as last year to coincide with the shareholders’ meeting in Charlotte, N.C.
Occupiers are displeased with B of A because it is one of the 12 “mega-banks” that in some cases were bailed out by the government and have used that lifeline to pay executives big salaries and abuse people it was foreclosing on — according to Occupy.
Shareholders aren’t happy because the bank’s stock lost more than half its value over the past five years.
The socially and environmentally conscious disdain the bank not only for its foreclosure practices but also for its relationship with payday lenders and with mountaintop coal mining.
This is according to a report by CNN of last year’s protest.
Here’s the short notice I received from the local Occupy group:
Occupy Bellingham is planning a small action at the B of A on Cornwall at 4 p.m. of that day. It was a last minute effort and will mainly be a gesture of solidarity with the national actions. It is important to draw people’s attention to the fact that B of A is the cause of many of our social and environmental ills of today.
Another notice to potential picketers advises them to dress “in a way that welcomes strangers’ conversations (and carry) a sign that wins their support.”
It goes on, “Organized actions are enthusiastically encouraged but the common picketer, with the sign holding a simple truth, are the everyday heroes that will provide the persistence necessary for the long task of breaking up Bank of America.”
Dick Conoboy in November 2011 on NW Citizen gave Occupy Bellingham credit for inducing the city’s B of A branch to hire an armed security guard.
An item from the progressive magazine The Nation, from 2012, focused more on the restrictions the city of Charlotte put on the protest — prohibitions that The Nation said appeared to restrict free speech. The city, according to The Nation’s report, was putting measures in place to prevent crimes before they start.
(Interesting, sounds like an argument for gun control.)
“It’s unlikely that anyone in Charlotte has a longer rap sheet than Bank of America,” The Nation said.
How big was the 2012 Charlotte B of A protest? It couldn’t have been that big because CNN and The Nation found the exact same woman to quote/photograph for their stories. She’s from Oakland and claims she was screwed over by B of A during her foreclosure.
You’ll note that CNN referred to her as Margarita Ramira. In The Nation’s piece, she’s Margarita Ramirez. I wonder which report got it right? Oh, never mind.
Anyhow, the Charlotte protest in 2012 was small. Police said it numbered less than 1,000, according to CNN. Occupy’s notice to potential picketers, linked above, said the Charlotte protest was in the thousands.
Part of my job at the newspaper is to cover Ferndale city government. Also, I’m a big fan of consistency and fairness.
With all of that said, I present in this blog space another entry into what should be a wide-open race for the city council seat being vacated by Lloyd Zimmerman.
Here’s the statement, released just today, by newest candidate Carol Bersch:
Carol Bersch, 59, is throwing her hat in as a candidate for the seat of Ferndale City Council position #6 (Lloyd Zimmerman’s vacant seat).
Although still considered new to the Ferndale Community, moving to Ferndale in August 2008, she has become a community member when she opened her business on Main Street. Carol is the owner and operator of Carol’s Cake Designs opening August 2011. That’s when she started attending the city council meetings and has been a regular at these meetings for 1 1/2 years.
“Having my business on Main Street I feel I have a vested interest in the shape of downtown Ferndale.” “I want to see downtown grow in a healthy way that promotes community interaction as well as bringing more businesses for all to enjoy.”
Carol joined the Ferndale Chamber of Commerce before opening her business and it proved to be the best decision made; she was voted Member of the month for October 2012 and Business of the Year for 2012. She was elected to the Chamber Board of Directors and chairs the Business Advocacy Committee.
Carol is also a member of the Ferndale Kiwanis Club and chairs the New Member, Social and Spiritual Committee. She is also a member of the Women’s Professional Network.
Carol and her husband Mike will be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary in August this year while attending ICES, the International Cake Exploration Society, annual cake convention that she attends every year. This years convention is in Lexington, KY and she will be visiting lots of family in Madison, IN while in the area. She has two children, Jason (a resident of Tuscaloosa, AL) and Erin (a resident of Bellingham, WA).