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Fair and Balanced Discussion from Southern Oregon

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

WesAlum Plug for Sherman 

Tonight's Zoo Tunes event at the Woodland Park Zoo featured Shawn Colvin with an opening set (NEARLY an even split, which was cool) from my fellow Wes Theater major, Dar Williams.

I was stoked to see Dar, who I haven't seen live since she was at SOU's Vox Pop series while touring in support of Mortal City (which Dar friends will recognize is a while back). Anyway, long story short, Dar is big on a lot of issues that have good linkage in the Northwest - Enviro, GLBT... I think it comes from our Northwest / Northeast Liberal Stereotype Training :) ANYway, while mixing in some good support of otters (critters she has a solid connection with and most recently she saw while kayaking the Sound in BC) and leading into her wonderful song about common ground and open communication "The Christians and the Pagans", she mentioned yet another Wes Alum (we are everywhere, btw... here, here, here, and here, just for starters in one career category), fellow class of '90er Bill Sherman, who, surprise, surprise, I've been working with. Dar's shout out to the Sherman campaign was on the strength of his Enviro cred, and how concern for the environment transcends party (Dar was turned to Bill's Green cred by a conservation-oriented Republican - they do exist - remember Mark Hatfield?). So in addition to a great hour long set of music (that included two tunes from her debut album, and a couple of other "older" pieces, plus some great stuff from her more recent work), we also got a Wes vibe going.

The Colvin with Williams show hits Jacksonville tomorrow, so all my LOCAL friends in Southern Oregon can catch them at Britt (where they start an hour later and can go longer, so there MIGHT be more of both of them!!) And then they are back to Portland to the Zoo Amphitheater on Friday night, so all the Blue Oregon readers (Jeff, I mean you) can catch it, too...

It is JUST Dar and her guitar, and then JUST Shawn and her guitar, which is a great way to listen to these two. I mean, I like backing bands and all, but *shrug* I prefer this set list in the most basic form it can be delivered.

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WA State Supremes uphold Marriage Ban 

The Stranger already has blog traffic on this morning's announcement. Horse's Ass does, too.

Dan Savage's take (at Slog, link above)
But it seems that heterosexuals—so essential to the survival of the human race (Keep breeding, heteros! There just aren’t enough us on the planet!)—need to be afforded special rights. Without the exclusive right to marriage, the court assumes that heterosexuals could not be bothered to produce offspring at all—or, once they’ve produced them, could not be bothered to care for them.
Speaking on behalf of at least one hetero (me), I'll say the only thing that really gives me reproductive pause is NOT my marriage rights, but the prospect of raising offspring in a effed-up world. And I don't think that the current decision-making of a the sole global super-power is the fault of the wanna-be married GLBT crowd. *sigh*

More as I come across it...

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

More up at The Stranger 

Eli has his analytical followup up now, here. He get's the snark going pretty good and the Pederson supporters are already defenisve in the comments. I think my favorite bit is the leg-gnawing reference about Lynne Dodson. I know Eli is lamenting how boring this race is, but it's a gold mine compared to the snooze fest we got at in SoOR in '04...where Buckley and Bates were clearly white knights in safe shape, Esquivel was clearly NOT a white knight, but was equally safe, Wright was the nice man with unkind things being done in his name, Buckley's foe (such a non-entity I can't recall her name now) droned on that since she was a banker, she could read a balance sheet and was therefore the best choice to serve in the legislature, and I was the guy who had good ideas and not a prayer in hell's chance.

[UPDATE] Josh has weighed in at The Stranger, too.

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Thphhhhtt! to Washington Political Blogs 

C'mon, guys!! you had a freakin' candidate forum for a six way race in your back yard and NONE of you covered it? Several of you announced it was happening and announced your intention to go to Drinking Liberally instead... Pike Place Politics? That's about as 43rd as it gets... WashBlog, Washington State Political Report, HorsesAss (an excuse, actually on vacation, ok...), Evergreen Politcs, Peace Tree Farm?? The sum total of post-event coverage is a barely findably blurb from one of the two daily papers, a snark fest from The Stranger, and little ol' 8 hours from home me? This makes me sad panda :(

[UPDATE] WashBlogs has links to current coverage in their comments (as noted in the comments here at DotyBlog), and as noted in my more recent post, Slog (the Stranger's blog) has two new entries.

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Forum Aftermath - my "Fair and Balanced" view gives it to Sherman! 

Monday preview from WashBlog here, then event coverage from the PI and from Eli at The Stranger.

In my admittedly tilted view, the night went to Bill Sherman. And I'll step back from the fact that he is my friend and I am in Seattle for the purposes of assisting his campaign for a few weeks and give my impression of the whole field from the dispassionate "theater critic" part of my brain.

I took a ton of notes, and had hopes of liveblogging the event, but no wireless at Town Hall, so "there is too much. Let me sum up," as Montoya says.

I looked at four factors in trying to see if one of this group o six could stand out - Substance (actual evidence of some brainpower that can tackle the issues and has ALREADY managed some solid thought on what needs doing and how it might be tackled), Articulation (can this person stand in front of a group and sound like they know what they are talking about in way that we can clearly understand them), Presence (Do they have that intangible that makes you want to believe they can accomplish what you hear from them, a charisma, gravitas, something...), and Passion (how energetic and committed do they sound and how does that energy infect the audience)

On this set of criteria, the youth were the clear winners. Sherman's only real competition on Substance was Jim Street, who is in the bottom half of the pack on each of the other three criteria. Sherman and Jamie Pederson are neck and neck on Presence and Articulation, and Pederson stays close on Passion, but almost entirely on his committment to marriage equality. There were other moments when he was clear, but drab. The Passion catagory also must garner a mention for Stephanie Pure, who is dynamic and energetic, and on the issues that are in her comfort zone stood up well against the rest of the panel. But there were areas clearly WAY out of her comfort zone, and it showed.

Lynne Dodson drew loud applause, a sign of the number of supporters she already had in the room, but not (I think) evidence of earning any real converts. She certainly worked the "I'm a teacher" angle, reminding us of that on several occasions (to the point I, a teacher, grew tired of it). She trailed Street and Sherman on Substance, though not by much due to her strength on the critical education issues. Her Presence was middle of the pack, and her Passion bolstered by a vocal group of supporters in the hall.

Dick Kelley ran afoul of the clock often, and it crippled his overall effort. He was also almost a "One Note" act, with a revisiting of Campaign Finance corruption souring the mix with nearly every answer. His best moment was when a doozy of a question from Frank Chopp where Kelley's opening response was "Help me, Jesus." Kelley does have a decent resume, but he was not compelling in any sense of the word. Substance was decent, based on resume, but he hid it away as he instead railed on finance reform. Presence and Passion were NOT there for him last night, as his battle against time limits crippled his ability to deliver the compelling close of most of his anecdotal content.

Jim Street is clearly experienced and knowledgable. He has a speaking style that drives the director in my insane. I lose the final 3 to 5 syllables of nearly everything he says and since he sometimes speaks in fragments, context clues aren't available. I am pretty sure two seperate sentences ended with the word "Automobile", but I only got it once, since the second time, the context was "Automobile, Automobile, A'dim'bul." His delivery was dry and unengaging. He didn't stand until the closing statements (nor did Pure). By contrast, Dodson and Sherman were up for every answer (though Dodson called attention to it being because she was a teacher...jeez... Lynne it's OK to just stand and talk, you don't need to make excuses...Oh. Wait. You were afraid we forgot you might have worked in a particular field once upon a time. The rest of the panel started getting up as the night wore on. Street may actually have the win soley on Substance, but being a distant 4th on Presence, 5th on Passion and dead last on Articulation makes it hard for me to say he is "obviously qualified", though he tried to imply Frank Chopp had said very nearly that earlier in the evening.

I might include some specific notes in a seperate post later.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Candidate Forum Tomorrow! Lawnsignage? 

Up here in Seattle, the primary is 64 days away. Tomorrow night, the tearing of interests is: "Do I go to Drinking Liberally and meet a bunch of like-minded folk from this part of the world?" or "Do I go to the Candidate Forum for 43rd District Candidates?" (And see, this is not a conflict for spending time with Jen, since she is in a Ethics Workshop for the better part of the evening.)

The 43rd race is something I haven't really seen close up before - a six-way primary between a group of Democrats each of whom would probably be an acceptable Dem candidate from my Southern Oregon PoV... Some of this crew might not be able to mount a successful run in the Redder part of the world I call home, but I'd support most of them without hesitation. But up here, it's a different animal. The race ISN'T between the (R) and the (D) in November. When the General rolls around, the betting pool will be whether the Green will outpoll the Republican and come in second behind the Dem. So this primary is effectively The Race. The six candidates include the legislative aide of a Seattle City Councilman, a former City Councilman turned Judge, an attorney spearheading the gay marriage argument in front of the State Supreme Court, the chair of the local Dem party, an education Labor leader with a background in the classrooom, and a local prosecutor with a background in the Clinton/Babbitt Interior Dept.

The connections to me for this race, as noted in earlier posts - I spent my college years with Bill Sherman, who took nearly a year from school working for Dukakis' race in 1988, a job he echoed for Clinton in '92... then joined Interior (he'd met Bruce Babbitt in an airport during the '88 race, if my memory serves). After law school, Bill came to Seattle, working in private practice and then as a King County prosecutor, and remaining an active Democrat.

So I would be working for him as a classmate and longtime friend, but the "Fair and Balanced" part of me has looked at this race from a neutral perspective.

  • Bill's stance on the environment is solid (he's the lone candidate endorsed by the Sierra Club and the WCV). This could be even more important with the looming of I 933 (mentioned in an earlier post).
  • Bill is also the only candidate in the race with school age children - with the conditions facing schools in Seattle and in Washington, Bill's investment includes the personal stake of having two sons who will pass through the system. He WILL make sure everything in his power to improve and strengthen it is done.
  • Protection of Rights are another area where Bill's credentials are hard to ignore. Working in the prosecutor's office, Bill spent much of his time dealing with domestic violence. His background over the years bodes well for a city and state with large populations of ethnic and sexual minorities, large numbers of non-native English speakers, and large numbers of naturalized citizens in an era where anti-choice legislation, immigration "reform" and amendments to halt gay marriage being the current hot-button issues being used to mobilize the base on the other side.

But what of the others running? Seattle's "Only Newspaper", the Stranger, ran a blog series (about 1/5 of the way down, find the Dodson piece, with links to all the others) with most of them and the candidates did take active part. Made for interesting reading.

I can't find anything bad to say about Stephanie Pure. She's the legislative aide - seems energetic and thoughtful. She's young and tuned in to the younger part of city. Not a group that votes in reliable numbers, but they will grow older and she will have a solid political future when the crowd who cheered her work on overturning the Teen Dance Ordinance start hitting their mid 30s.

Jim Street has a long and honorable history of public service in Seattle. I guess the only knock there is he has a long and honorable history of public service in Seattle. Going back to Reagan's 1st term...

Lynne Woodson is the "education candidate", so as a teacher, I SHOULD feel some compelling interest towards her campaign, but I really can't. Her visually awful signs say "Send a teacher to Olympia", but in reading her bio (not really found on her own site, but through area reporting on the race), I don't find "teacher" in the traditional sense currently, nor any time in the past nearly decade. The sad thing is that her OWN campaign lit makes her look scary. I am reminded of the attack pieces that came out after Alan Bates late in the '04 Senate. But the photos of her looking angry and devouring the microphone are self-produced.

Dick Kelley is a Dean Dem (a good thing in my mind) and is running a donotion-capped campaign. But in this race with these opponents, was this a: wise and b: a truly distinguishing act? Seems like a decent guy, but not someone who I am finding particularly compelling.

Jamie Pedersen has the most money, great visibility, but man, if I don't encounter more people anecdotally annoyed by him. When I first Googled this race, I cam across Dan Savage taking a shot regarding a signature-collecting Pederson volunteer positioning Pederson as the only candidate who would support same-sex marriage equality. Which given the demographics and history of the district would be a good issue, if it wasn't that the other five candidates also support this issue. And then, more recently, the proliferation of Pedersen signs seems to not be (as one would expect) a measure of Pedersen support, but it turns out in at least one case it's a measure of Pedersen supporters putting out a sign in the lawn of someone who was not asked and does not support him. Zealous volunteer staff are good, usually, but as has been demonstrated in some other settings (Dean's effort in Iowa, for example), OVER zealous people are a liability. If I coulda captured the attention of every high-visible, high-trafficked part of Medford by signing every third or fourth lawn without asking, I would have been in great shape :P I doubt the Pederson thing is that pervasive, but c'mon! How do you put a sign in a yard of someone you haven't even asked??

So I go to the forum tomorrow. I see if any of these people are as articulate in person as they are in typed blog comments.

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Monday, July 03, 2006

"Tasty Bars of Gold or... The Entire Planet!" 

In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore makes an effective and memorable attack on the false premise that one must weigh environment against the economy and I paraphrase him in the above title. See the film (for more than just this particular moment) and catch his tone as he delivers these (approximate) words.

Russell Sadler (who still contributes over at Blue Oregon) used to talk about things being a "shift, not a gift" - he was usually referring to tax breaks and how they impacted current and future funding and future debt. But let's move the argument to environmental concerns: What economic benefit we may realize today or tomorrow will be balanced with a deficit in the future... what good is passing on $1,000,000 inheritance tax free dollars to a descendent who will have to spend it all on breathing apparatus and thermal shielding instead of being able to philanthropically enjoy a world similar to the one we enjoy today.

Steven Colbert, speaking to the White House Correspondants made a reference to glaciers, adding, "Enjoy that metaphor, by the way, because your grandchildren will have no idea what a glacier is." Is Colbert right? Or do we need to be asking an even more basic question that goes beyond glaciers to trees or open fields or natural stream beds? Oregon had (and I use the past tense because, though they aren't dead yet, they are in ICU and have a DNR order signed by their legal guardian, the Oregon voters) some very forward thinking development/planning/zoning laws. In the aftermath of Measure 37, it is becoming clear that the local jurisdictions will simply waive zoning restrictions because paying claimants would require money they do not have.... even FIGHTING a claim requires money they do not have.

And now the fight moves out beyond Oregon. In Washington, where I am sitting in a legislative candidate's house and working on getting him to Olympia for a term or three, Initiative 933 (named "Property Fairness" - HA!) will trigger eventualities similar to 37. Montana has an effort underway, as well. I guess the Montana voters didn't read Jared Diamond's latest book, highlighting how a LACK of planning and regulation has done SO WELL for the Bitterroot?

"It's my land...I have the right to do whatever I want on it." So goes the argument. Screw the landowner downstream who's water supply comes now laden with sediment load and other run-off that it didn't before. Screw the future owner who's five year old child won't understand why she can't dig in the yard. Screw the allergy-suffering retiree who now faces an invasive species in the next yard because someone wiped out a marsh that was nesting for migratory birds who now don't eat an insect who was attacking the invader three states away. The doomsdayers can come up with any number of scenarios that point to some massive damage from some complex interconnection and the naysayers will babble on about how it doesn't really work like that... And here come the initiative folks promoting "simple and fair solutions" - a phrase LOVED by the voter who pays attention to election issues from about October 20th to November 6th every fourth year.

Well, policy issues aren't simple, particularly if they are going to be fair. And by fair, I mean, fair to the present and the future, weighed together. That is why we elect legislators to ponder the complicated issues. To hold hearings, to make INFORMED decisions. And it seems that we would rather, with wisdom cultivated by the aid of 30 second TV spots, full page print ads, and a pamphlet or two, take complex decisions all on our own.

Ach.. I rant. More later.

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Sunday, July 02, 2006

Sherman for Seattle!! 

OK...that's not really Bill's slogan. But I can always change a blog post, eh? Bill Sherman was the senior class president in 1989-90 at Wesleyan University. Coinky-dinky, I seem to recall graduating that same year! Bill shared the podium with Desmond Tutu and Jonathan Demme as a speaker that day. He went on to serve under Bruce Babbitt in the last reasonably competent Interior Department in recent US history. Now, after a stint in private law and another with the King County prosecutor, he's running for the Washington legislature. And I, having nothing better to do with my summer, have decided to give him some help. Blogging? no... IN Seattle - quite a ways from my usual SoOR haunts.

Am I really this selfless? Um... no. In full disclosure mode: my fiancee, Jen, has a four week externship focusing on Wildlife rehab at PAWS in nearby Lynnwood as part of her Vet Med program at U of MN. Since I am not getting to see much of her as her fourth year of Vet school goes forward, I wasn't going to miss 4 weeks of at least seeing her evenings and weekends, and that leaves me with some serious daytime free clock.

Now, don't get me wrong. The NMHS Theater program (Black Tornado Theater) is still getting my attention as I work on the script for our fall production of A Midsummer Night's Dream AND do some set design for the same. I also am in constant contact with the cast of the Summer Workshop production, The Pen is Deadlier, which starts rehearsals two days after I get back from WA. We read that thru on Friday. Several of that cast have other things for July, like working on the new Bruce Campbell film which is being shot in and around Medford, or like being part of the OSF Summer Seminar for HS juniors. And heaven forbid two shows are enough, I also have five translations of Antigone to consider for February.

But Bill is getting me for a big chunk of July, probably five or six hours a day, five days a week. And he could use help, because the WA 43rd, while a fairly safe Dem seat, is a SIX way primary, and Bill, while a strong candidate running well, doesn't have "front-runner" status, nor really does anyone else... FUN. Lots of time at doorsteps before the primary in September.

Anyway, since it is summer and an election year, expect to see more here... even if no-one actually reads it :)

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