Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Monday, April 30, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: County Commissioners Approve Rural Residential Zoning Ordinance

By a vote of 2-1, Whitman County Commissioners have approved the changes to the county's rural residential zoning ordinance.

My sincerest congratulations to Commissioner Michael Largent for voting against the changes. He has lived up to the promises he made during last year's election to uphold free enterprise and property rights.

The ordinance goes into effect May 15. All that's left now is the inevitable (and expensive) lawsuit over the unconstitutionality of restricting hilltop development.

Fire Melts Steel

I guess Rosie was wrong.

An elevated section of highway that carries motorists from the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge to a number of freeways was destroyed early Sunday after heat from an overturned gasoline truck caused part of one overpass to crumple onto another.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Co-Opted Out of a Living Wage

The liberal chic place to shop on the Palouse is the Moscow Food Co-Op. Among the elitist denizens who you'll find browsing down the organic, fair trade aisles at the Co-Op are members of No SuperWalMart and PARD.

One of the monotonous left-wing canards offered against Wal-Mart by its fanatical haters is that Wal-Mart fails to pay its employees a so-called "living wage."

The Penn State University Living Wage Calculator figures a living wage for one adult with one child in Moscow to be $12.33 an hour. The City of Moscow established a "living wage" last year of $10.00 an hour for all businesses that conduct business with the city.

That's why this admission from Co-Op board member Bill London last week was a bit startling:
Most starting jobs (after training) at the Co-op pay from $7.25 to $8.75 per hour. A very few lowest-rung jobs do begin at $6.75.

Benefits to workers of 20 hours/week or more includes:
2 week paid vacation
sick leave
18% discount on purchases and free lunch
Benefits to workers of 30 hours/week or more includes those plus health/dental insurance (retirement benefits if work longer than 2 years)
$7.25 to $8.75 an hour? A starting wage of $6.75? Wal-Mart in Moscow pays $8.50 to $10.00 an hour, with a starting wage of $7.25. The Wal-Mart medical benefits plan is open to all part time workers, regardless of hours worked, after one year of service, and all other Wal-Mart benefits are much more generous than the Co-Op.

One could hope that the Co-Op might be an oasis of sanity, where socialist rhetoric meets capitalist reality, or where the realization could sink in that stocking shelves or working a cash register are never going to be high-paying careers. One could hope. Instead, anyone think it's time for a petition?

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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Kudos to Pullman Police

From the Daily News.

On April 23, I officiated at a funeral at Short's Funeral Chapel, which concluded about 11:30 a.m. As the casket was loaded into the hearse, I saw a Moscow police officer talking with the driver. Upon entering the hearse the driver said "there will be no police escort through town today." The burial was to be in the Pullman City Cemetery. There were about 25 cars in the procession. Everyone was disappointed that there would be no escort.

When we were three miles from Pullman, a Pullman police car met the procession. Another officer was at the stoplight at Bishop Boulevard, and yet another officer at the corner of Bishop and Grand Avenue. The cruiser that had met the procession on the Pullman-Moscow Highway pulled ahead and blocked oncoming traffic from the south so the procession could enter the cemetery.

We had four Pullman officers for this procession through town. The Moscow police could not seem to spare one officer for about 10 minutes.

There is something wrong that needs correction. A word to the wise is sufficient.

Rev. Gordon L. Braun, Moscow

Friday, April 27, 2007

Aligning the Evergreen State with Terrorists

I received this e-mail from a Palousitics reader who lives near Hay:
I urge all Washingtonians to contact our esteemed senators on their disgraceful Iraq vote.
Dear Senator,

It is time to place politics on the back shelf and support the military your party voted overwhelmingly to send to Iraq.

The namesake of the state which you represent did not wavier in his mission to bring freedom and independence to the land you serve, even though fortune turned against him on several occasions.

The mission in Iraq is just and far reaching in its goals. Your lack of support brings dishonor to the memory of General Washington and the state which bears his name.

With your vote you have aligned yourself and my state with terrorists
.
I doubt they will slap their foreheads and change their votes, but if we don’t comment of their votes they can continue to ignore their responsibilities.

King Solomon and the Knights of the Water Table

The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board held a meeting in Colfax Wednesday night on the proposed water rights transfers for the Hawkins Companies corridor project.

Mark Solomon was present, as well as a senior City of Moscow official. Witnesses tell me that Solomon was making hand signals like a third base coach. Not surprising I guess, considering both Solomon and Moscow are protesting the transfer of the water rights.

We have already seen what happens to a volunteer who crosses Nancy Chaney. I suppose a paid city staffer really has no choice but to toe the King and Queen's party line.

Yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News carried the story:
Water conservancy board asks the state for assistance

Ecology will weigh in on Hawkins Companies' water rights transfers


The Whitman County Water Conservancy Board has asked the Washington State Department of Ecology for technical assistance regarding water rights transfers being sought by a Boise-based development firm that wants to build a shopping center in the Pullman-Moscow corridor.

The city of Moscow and Mark Solomon, a local activist, filed protests with the board and Ecology earlier this month over Hawkins Companies' proposed transfers, saying the water it wants to transfer to its proposed development does not exist in the Palouse Basin aquifer system and would deplete area wells and jeopardize a reliable water system.

Board Chairman Ed Schultz said the board needs clarification on the hydrogeologic structures of the area and help determining the impact of transfers and addressing Moscow and Solomon's concerns.

Hawkins Companies has applied to transfer annual rights for 120 acre feet, or 40 million gallons, of water to its proposed 700,000-square-foot development in Whitman County, which would butt up against Moscow city limits and the Idaho border.

The company also applied to transfer 100 acre feet of a 700-acre-feet water right to the city of Colton in exchange for 23 acre feet of water the town was seeking for its municipal needs.

As part of the transfers, Hawkins Companies is requesting the annual rights to 74.5 acre feet, or 23 million gallons, that currently flow in the South Fork of the Palouse River be switched to water the company could extract from its wells.

Hawkins plans to drill two wells on its property - one in the deep Grande Ronde aquifer, and another in the shallow Wanupum aquifer. Water rights that tap into either the shallow or deep aquifer would apply to the water source to which it is allocated.

The board's next meeting is set for 10 a.m. May 14 at the Public Service Building in Colfax. Schultz said the board plans to begin structuring a final draft on two of the proposed transfers, but he doesn't expect that the board will make a recommendation to Ecology at that time.

Once a recommendation is made, Ecology will review the recommendation and make a final ruling.
By the way, the King has not just confined his meddling to Whitman County, as evidenced by this comment on the Daily News website:
Pullman's plan to offer rebates for installation of low-flush toilets is great and I wish Moscow would start a similar program. However the largest potential for water savings is achieved by controlling outdoor landscape irrigation (lawn watering), an area that the Pullman plan leaves untouched. Moscow has seen significant reductions, in the order of over a hundred million gallons per year, just by restricting lawn watering to the cooler part of the day to reduce evaporative losses.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Whitman County May Sue Moscow Over Water Pollution

I have received unconfirmed reports that Whitman County officials are contemplating legal action to recover monetary damages from the City of Moscow created by that city's numerous water quality violations that have flowed down Paradise Creek and into the South Fork of the Palouse River.

If you will remember, Moscow recently admitted fault and settled with the EPA for $134,000. The 950 violations of standards for total residual chlorine, fecal coliform, phosphorous and dissolved oxygen between March 2002 and June 2006 could have forced the city to pay as much as $2.5 million in fines.

A story in today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported that the Washington Department of Ecology wants to expand the study of the South Fork of the Palouse River to determine the sources of the water pollution (I can tell them right where to start looking):
Department of Ecology to expand Palouse River study

Study intended to identify sources of water pollution


The Washington State Department of Ecology hopes sound science will tell the story of what's polluting the Palouse River.

However, many ranchers worry that answers already have been found, and the study won't provide them with a happy ending.

Ecology researchers Jim Carroll and Elaine Snouwaert made a presentation and fielded questions from landowners Wednesday night on the river's temperature, pH, fecal coliform bacteria and dissolved oxygen. All are at higher levels in the Palouse drainage than currently permitted by state standards.

The upcoming studies will assess the total maximum daily load of each of the pollutants allowed in the stream, with the intent of keeping the river within water-quality limits. Ecology is addressing 700 waterways in the state that are in violation of the Clean Water Act.

Carroll said his studies are designed to be a general screening of the river. More specific diagnostics can be made in the future once points of pollution are specifically identified.

The state has set specific standards for waterways to meet in regard to temperature, pH and dissolved oxygen. Carroll said those goals may not be attainable for the Palouse waterways due to the area's hydrogeologic structure.

Most of the people in attendance came to talk about bacteria levels. The tests will identify where the pollution is coming from, but will not specifically single out the producer. One solution several people mentioned was DNA testing of the fecal coliform to find out where it came from, be it cows, humans or mice.

Carroll said DNA testing would take more time and a lot more money. Several people said Ecology might find that wildlife and dysfunctional septic systems might be the major cause of pollutants, but cattle are easy to identify and ranchers may be forced to change their grazing practices along streams.

Carroll said the river's condition could be a product of land use. The Palouse region used to include marshes and sub-irrigated pasture in lowlands that are now farmed. During the Cold War, the United States grew as much food as possible and the wetlands were drained and plowed.

As a result, Carroll said the land was made to shed water instead of retain it, and the drainage systems could be major contributors to higher temperatures, pH levels and dissolved oxygen.

Carroll said regulations to make the Palouse River drainage fit specific criteria might not be realistic. It is hoped the studies will help determine what pollutant levels are acceptable and what can be achieved.

The total maximum daily load studies are among several ongoing studies and policy discussions in the Palouse drainage, also known as Water Resource Inventory Area 34. Carroll said decisions on each process will be made separately, although a determination of how much water needs to be in the streams could help the river meet its water quality standards. Pollutants can be diluted with more water and therefore meet waste quality standards.

QUICKREAD

WHAT HAPPENED: Washington State Department of Ecology researchers provided an overview of a new set of studies they will begin this year on the Palouse River.

WHAT IT MEANS: The watershed contains several areas that are considered to be contaminated. The study is intended to identify sources of pollution so they can be removed.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: Ecology will begin its study and compile data.

WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: Potential solutions could influence land and water use.

Cho Seung Hui and NBC, Cellmates in Hell

I will predict today that some time in the next six months, there will be at least one more mass murder and the killer will have sent his media guide and accompanying video to NBC, or other major television news outlet. I also predict that NBC will not acknowledge that it bears the slightest responsibility when it happens. Already psychopathic creeps are composing and recording the “manifestoes” that will guarantee an immortality that they know they could never gain otherwise. This morning, I set a reminder in my calendar for October 28th, 2007, just so that I remember to check my prediction.

I find it ironic that the same network that paved the way for Don Imus’s exile by canceling the simulcast of the radio show chose to turn its airwaves over to a mass murderer. And I cannot believe that the network did not at least consider the consequences of its decision. Surely during the deliberations, somebody at NBC considered the likelihood of copycats. After all, NBC Sports knows better than to turn its cameras on the occasional drunk who runs out onto the field during the course of a game that it is broadcasting. To do so only encourages the next idiot to seek his moment in the limelight. If the jock division is savvy enough to grasp this, then it’s a cinch that the news division understands it as well. But NBC took the decision to broadcast Cho Seung Hui’s video even though they had to know that their decision is likely to cost lives.

I sincerely hope that that some sharp-knived lawyers are preparing to represent the survivors of next mass-murderer’s victims. I think that the courts will likely decide that crying “fire” in a crowded theater is not the only exception to First Amendment free speech protection.

Of course, the news media is notoriously indifferent to the damage that results from their irresponsibility. Newsweek published an inaccurate report that American soldiers at the Guantanamo Bay prisoner of war facility had thrown a copy of the Koran down a toilet. The report was eventually retracted, but only after deadly riots took at least 16 lives.

Newsweek shrugged.

The next time that someone in the mainstream media claim that George Bush has done irreparable harm to the image of the United States in the world, he or she should be reminded of the damage that shabby reporting has done.

The New York Times exposed a perfectly legal secret program that allowed the United States to track and disrupt financial transactions among terrorist groups. Doing this enabled terrorists to circumvent the program. The Times did this even though its home city suffered the most from the September 11th attacks. It did this even though the program was specifically called for in an editorial a couple of years earlier. Someday, people will die because the New York Times chose to assist terrorists who would otherwise have been caught or at least had their resources denied will have had their task simplified by the Times.

The Times brushed us off.

But, in their own perverse ways, Hui and NBC did us a favor. By justifying his actions in his own words, he preempted the political ventriloquists who would have used his actions to advance their own causes. Were it not for the NBC broadcast, a parade of politicians would even now be identifying some government deficiency that his or her legislation will correct. Instead, we are free to decide for ourselves who might have filled his head with despair over America’s social injustice or fanned his hatred for the rich.

It is not hard to divine NBC’s motivations of late. In the Imus affair it was fear of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Principled people would not have needed the threat of economic boycotts to remind them to uphold standards of taste and decorum. And in the case of Hui’s tapes, it was the holy grail of Nielson Ratings that drove NBC to do the wrong thing. The news value of the tapes could have been served by having forensic psychologists watch, read and interpret the psychopath’s words. But, forensic psychologists do not attract the highly sought after sadistic voyeur demographic that is so prized by television news’ advertising division.

Cho Seung Hui will surely greet them in a specially prepared corner of Hell.

"City Council revises goals for 2007; List trimmed from 34 to 23"

From yesterday's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
Pullman City Councilman Francis Benjamin knows goals are part of growth.

"There's a lot happening" in the city, he said. "With that, we're finding that there are places we need to tweak. These are issues because we are growing."

The Pullman City Council met with city department heads Monday to consolidate, discuss and eliminate some of the 34 established goals for 2007 in an effort to make the list more achievable. The drafted goals, which were narrowed to 23, will go before the council for adoption May 1.

Potential goals were submitted by Pullman residents and city employees earlier this year for council consideration.

The informal meeting reinforced that parking, planning and vision issues remain important in Pullman.

One of the most discussed goals involved parking in the downtown area, which has remained a priority for the council. The group decided to consider hiring a consultant to develop a vision for the downtown area, focusing on the areas of traffic flow, housing and parking, and downtown deliveries.

The Pullman Planning Commission also is evaluating parking in the downtown area as it pertains to business, housing and future development.

"We're always working on parking," Councilwoman Ann Heath said. "We're a little behind the ball when it comes to the (commercial downtown) parking issue. We need to do that now."

Councilman Keith Bloom agreed.

"It would be nice to have a plan in place before we're chasing that ball down the hill," he said.

Also addressed were goals pertaining to the long-term options for Reaney Park and the Reaney Pool, water conservation and exploring the concept of creating an expense account for the mayor's office.

Some goals needed little or no discussion and were immediately adopted, such as promoting a welcoming business atmosphere in Pullman, pursuing options for expansion of the Port of Whitman County's Pullman Industrial Park and reconsidering Whitman County commissioners' offer on tax sharing within the Pullman-Moscow Highway corridor.

Another goal pertained to continuing to explore affordable housing options, an issue Benjamin said is "one of the key issues for Pullman's continued economic growth."

Other goals were deemed administrative and struck from the formal goal list, such as promoting volunteer efforts with park maintenance, inviting new Washington State University President Elson S. Floyd to a joint meeting with the council and making street repairs a top priority.

Benjamin said he felt comfortable with the list of goals, which will keep the city busy in the next year.

There is one thing he's most happy about.

"I'm not complaining, because there are no budget cuts on the table," he said, with a laugh.
All in all, a very worthy list of goals, especially a welcoming business atmosphere and affordable housing. These need to be more than just words.

"Business plan competition good for area growth"

I have been harsh on the Moscow-Pullman Daily News as of late, but full kudos to editor Steve McClure for his cogent explnation of the role of government in economic development in yesterday's edition:
No one wants to start throwing around thousands of dollars without a plan. In the world of business, success and failure often can be traced back to a solid game plan.

That's why the program sponsored by Washington State University, the Port of Whitman County and the Palouse Economic Development Council makes so much sense.

In the spirit of promoting business growth, the three organizations combined to put together a business plan competition for those folks who might want to get in touch with their entrepreneurial spirit.

The competition ended earlier this month and called for people to put together a plan for a business they hope to start. The idea was to help those individuals put ideas into action and give them a better understanding of what their business needs in order to survive.

While that might not attract a bunch of attention in comparison to more high-profile projects, it's a serious investment in economic development.

As Port Commissioner Bob Gronholz noted, "Even if we can get one or two start-ups in the county every other year from this competition it would be a great success."

For all the talk that's bandied about among government officials, their role in actual business growth is a support role. Government can create a climate that's open to new ideas and new investments. It can build up infrastructure that's attractive to companies, and it can create a clear path for prospective business owners to travel on the road to success.

Government also can put up roadblocks, particularly when it forgets what role it's assigned in this mix.

Economic development, though, doesn't come from the halls of government. It comes from individuals who put their ideas - and their money - on the line to break into the competitive marketplace.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Thanks to Voters, Arizona Has True Private Property Rights

Voters in Arizona last year had the chance to vote on securing private property rights like voters in Washington and Idaho did. However, Arizonans did not cave in to the scare tactics from the environmentalists, NIMBYers, and bureaucrats and are now reaping the rewards. No wonder Washington politicians, both Democratic and Republican, were so against I-933. Power over private property in the hands of the owners? Sacrilege!

Fron Laurie Roberts of the Arizona Republic:
Score one for that most beleaguered of men, the one whose land the city has plans for.

The Phoenix City Council went into full retreat this week, repealing the historic designation it had slapped on a swath of land in central Phoenix. Not only did city leaders back away from their earlier decision to block a guy from doing what he's legally entitled to do with his own land, they declared their fallback an emergency.

"I still think it was the right thing to have a historic overlay on it," a slightly grumpy Phoenix Mayor Phil Gordon told me. "But it (the repeal) was on the advice of attorneys. I've got a fiduciary duty to the citizens not to risk $40 million."

Turns out it can be downright pricey to trample people's rights. Has been ever since November when 65 percent of voters ushered in Proposition 207, the Private Property Rights Protection Act.

Not a moment too soon, as it turns out, for Scott Haskins and the other landowners along the north side of McDowell Road, between 11th and 15th avenues.

A year ago, Haskins bought the Palmcroft Apartments, two blocks of ratty apartments. They were built in 1943 as war housing, and I imagine they were decent in their day. You know, along about the time of the Eisenhower administration.

In more recent decades, they have become what that area's police commander tactfully described to me as "the cancer complex of the neighborhood." So along comes Haskins, who buys the place and cleans it out, earning the undying gratitude of many in neighboring Palmcroft.

Haskins, an investor from Santa Barbara, Calif., did his homework before plunking down $5.4 million for the land, making sure the city's rules would allow him to tear down the apartments and put in luxury condos. They did.

What he didn't count on was G.G. George, a self-appointed activist who has the ear of the area's councilman, Doug Lingner. When George speaks, Lingner listens. Which is how Haskins' property came to be declared historic.

Normally, such matters are initiated by the city's Historic Preservation Commission but only after two-thirds of the affected property owners approve. Lingner got his pals on the City Council to bypass such niceties. In November, they declared the area historic over the objections of every landowner affected.

Given the historic status, Haskins was blocked from demolishing the apartments for a year and then would have been forced to jump through an array of city hoops, giving the city control over what he could build and how it could look.

So he filed a $40 million lawsuit, claiming that under Proposition 207, the city was lowering the value of his land. City pols disagreed but hotfooted it on Wednesday to undo their handiwork.

Gordon was almost wistful on Thursday when he talked about the Palmcroft Apartments. He suspects Haskins is out to make a fast buck, not a place of distinction. "Those apartments could have been beautiful restored," Gordon said.

Those apartments weren't beautiful in their best day and to be kind, that day ended before I was born. But if there is a gem there, hidden by generations of grime and neglect, why wait until Haskins comes onto the scene to look for it?

This isn't about a city saving history. It's about a city controlling property. Which wouldn't be so bad, except that it isn't their property. It belongs to Haskins. "They wanted to play Socialist Republic of Phoenix and got their hands slapped, hard," he told me.

His plan shows condos up to four stories, as the zoning allows, condos he promises will be an architectural point of pride. I hope so. He's already made his mark on this place once. He's the guy who took on city hall shenanigans and won.

It almost seems - dare I say it? - historic.


HT: Dale Courtney

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Too Good Not To Post

The PES is taking a break for the Summer...

I would like to take time to give a HUGE thank you to Batman -- the Protector of Pullman -- for his weekly call-ins. Also to all the other listeners and participants with the show. I would also like to thank Danny for coming on the show (finally) a couple times this semester. I had a ton of fun this year and I am looking for more fun again after I have a break this summer.

Type rest of the post here

Monday, April 23, 2007

"Public hearing: Ag zone foes voice objections"

From the April 19 edition of the Whitman County Gazette:
Over a dozen citizens packed the auditorium at the public Service Building Tuesday night to voice their support or opposition to changes to the county's proposed rural residential ordinance.

Many in the crowd though the low attendance was due to spring planting season.

"This is a very poor time to have this meeting," said Colfax farmer Tom Barlass. "Our crops are much more important than anything else right now."

Spokane resident Robert Zorb, who owns farm land in the county, also chastised the timing.

"You picked the worst time of the year and the worst time of the day to the people you;re affecting in here," said Zorb.

If it's really that important, you would think more people would make an effort to come," Commissioner Greg Partch said after the hearing.

Barlass, who spoke at the December public hearing, again asked commissioners about weed control in buffer zones.

"I don't want a 200-foot set aside with thistles blowing over to my side," he said.

Barlass also asked about the Avista power poles.

"You can't stop them from building on top of a hill, but you can stop me?" he asked.

Pullman City Supervisor John Sherman spoke on behalf of the city, reiterating its desire to have a one-mile buffer from development around Pullman.

Sherman said Pullman housing has become unaffordable for some, and opening development in the county would be helpful, but wanted to make sure the city has room to expand.

"I asked for it in May, and again in December," said Sherman. "Leaving that room for the city to grow would increase the tax base for both the city and the county."

Zorb said commissioners "had their car in reverse."

"You're not creating anything," he said. "You're below zero growth." [In two other stories in the Gazette, it was reported that first quarter 2007 building permits hit a five-year low and that the county was facing a million dollar budget deficit- tf]

"Read your history," said Zorb. 'The first thing a government does before going to communism is to take away your land rights."

Lucille Linden spoke on behalf of the League of Women Voters. She voiced the league's support of the ordinance, and asked that it not be altered for one year if it is implemented to gauge any impacts it may have.

Elberton resident Pete Lazzarini questioned how much public input commissioners factored in the code.

"Your time would be well spent finding out what the people who voted you in want," said Lazzarini.

"I know you want to get this off the table, but let's take our time and get it absolutely right."

LaCrosse farmer Tedd Nealey also voiced support for the ordinance's revisions.

"What do we want to leave our kids and grandkids," he asked. "I want to keep my farm."

Nealey urged commissioners to implement the revisions as soon as possible.

"It's time we get this document in place and move on," he said. "Once we start there's no going back."

The planning department will receive written comments until 5 p.m. next Tuesday. Commissioners have promised a decision for April 30 during their regular board meeting.
I hope to have some more documentation on the whole "aquifer recharge zone" thing soon. When I said the science was indefensible, I meant that as this point, the "aquifer recharge zone" on buttes is still just a theory, that won't be proven until at least December. The county commissioners are staking our whole future on a science experiment.

The Queen's Royal Constituency

The Queen has handsomely rewarded all of her political cronies that helped steal the 2004 election: big labor, the educracy, treehuggers, etc. One final royal nod now to the folks who pushed her over the top for good in the vote count.

Crow Can't Spare a Square

We've all heard of the "courtesy flush." But now enviro-wacko singer Sheryl Crow informs us on her blog that we can help stop global warming by "putting a limitation on how many squares of toilet paper can be used in any one sitting.... I think we are an industrious enough people that we can make it work with only one square per restroom visit, except, of course, on those pesky occasions where 2 to 3 could be required."

By the way, Crow and environmentalist Laurie David have been traveling across America on a biodiesel-powered bus conducting a two-week Stop Global Warming College Tour. Whew! After two weeks on a bus with everyone using one square per toilet visit, every day is a winding road.

"AWB Urges Lawmakers to Consider Businesses in Washington's Border Counties"

A press release from the Association of Washington Business, dated April 12, 2007:
OLYMPIA—"The sharp contrast between the cost of doing business in Washington compared to its neighboring states should be of primary concern to lawmakers," said Don Brunell, president of the Association of Washington Business.

Brunell, who has spent the past few days meeting with chamber and business leaders in eastern Washington, said he was reminded of the competition between Clarkston and its "twin city" Lewiston, which is just over the Snake River in Idaho.

"Both cities fight hard for business. While Clarkston offers more readily available commercial property, Lewiston offers Idaho’s lower business and regulatory costs," said Brunell. "These are important considerations for businesses that are already on the border and looking for more affordable opportunities. Likewise, these are also important considerations for large businesses, like Costco or Home Depot, who may be looking at siting a new facility."

In the Milken Institute’s 2005 Cost of Doing Business Index, Idaho ranks as the nation’s 46th most expensive state to do business, while Oregon ranks 30th. In comparison, Washington ranks eighth. The differences are staggering—especially in border counties that lack the economic security that the Puget Sound region provides.

Idaho stays competitive by offering generous incentives to Washington businesses. "Unless lawmakers keep border counties in mind and pass legislation that provides them with regulatory relief, Washington may lose business to their more business-friendly neighbors," said Brunell.
Instead, the legislature just passed a five-week paid family leave bill, making Washington the only state to have such a program other than California. This combined with more stringent environmental regulations that were passed make us even less competitive with Idaho and Oregon. Meanwhile, the legislature did nothing to reinstitute property tax caps, land use regulation reform, or B&O tax reform that would make Washington more competitive.

Scapegoat?


Scapegoat - Widely used as a metaphor, referring to someone who is blamed for misfortunes, generally as a way of distracting attention from the real causes. Also referred to as the fall guy.

Bruce over at Cougster and I don't always see eye-to-eye on the issues. But I have to agree with him about former WSU police chief Steve Hansen. The investigation into allegations that Hansen used his WSU computer to view and forward pornographic e-mail reported:
...we did not find it apparent the contents were actively retrieved through web surfing. Further, it was not apparent that the content in admitted emails or other questionable files found in subject’s hard drive were ‘sexually-explicit’.

...we are unclear whether the contents are in fact obscene or ‘sexually-explicit’ as indicated in the allegation.

...We found exception in the existence of four short media clips when we reviewed all program files for appropriate content.
If the four videos cited in the WSU report are the only reason Hansen accepted demotion to Lieutenant, scapegoat is the only word that comes to mind.

If Hansen, as it appears, was demoted because of the WSU policy that states "WSU computer resources may be used for legitimate WSU purposes only," then stand by for thousands of such demotions at WSU.

You can find linkks to the four videos at Cougster.com.

Two Americas

There is the America where most of us live in which people have to pay all of their taxes. Then there's the other America, where the wealthy stash assets off-shore to avoid federal income taxes. John Edwards lives in that latter America.

Edwards became a consultant for Fortress Investment Group, a New York-based firm known mainly for its hedge funds, just as the funds were gaining prominence in the financial world -- and in the public consciousness, where awe over their outsize returns has mixed with misgivings about a rarefied industry that is, on the whole, run by and for extremely wealthy people and operates largely in secrecy.

A midsize but growing player in the hedge fund industry with more than $30 billion in assets, Fortress was the first hedge fund manager to go public, thereby subjecting itself to far more scrutiny. But it was an unusual choice of employment for Edwards, who for years has decried offshore tax shelters as part of his broader campaign to reduce inequality. While Fortress was incorporated in Delaware, its hedge funds were incorporated in the Cayman Islands, enabling its partners and foreign investors to defer or avoid paying U.S. taxes.

Fortress announced Edwards's hiring as an adviser in a brief statement in October 2005. Neither Edwards -- who ended his consulting deal when he launched his presidential campaign in December -- nor the firm will say how much he earned or what he did.

But his ties to Fortress were suggested by the first round of campaign finance reports released last week. They showed that Edwards raised $167,460 in donations from Fortress employees for his 2008 presidential campaign, his largest source of support from a single company.

Nearly 100 Fortress employees or their family members donated to Edwards around the time of a fundraiser his campaign held at the firm in mid-March. Senior executives, individual fund managers, lawyers and a secretary gave the maximum $2,300 donation. Three administrative or executive assistants gave smaller amounts.

Edwards's connection to Fortress is only one sign of the emergence in national politics of the booming $1.4 trillion hedge fund industry. One of the fastest-growing and most controversial segments of the worldwide investment market, it has campaigned to fend off additional federal regulation and has become increasingly generous in campaign donations.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

"About four steps to the left of the mainstream"

After following what Rep. Doug Ericksen, deputy House Republican leader, called "one of the most radical agendas the state has seen in years," the Democrat-dominated Washington State Legislature is finally wrapping up in Olympia.

Ericksen, R-Ferndale, was quoted in today's Seattle Times as saying "If you look at the mainstream of Washington state, I think this Legislature has been about four steps to the left of the mainstream."

The Democrats managed to:

  • Burn through 2/3 of the state's budget surplus

  • Water down WASL graduation requirements

  • Kowtow to the teacher's union by putting a constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall to get rid of the supermajority requirement for school levies

  • Give gay and lesbian couples many of the same rights as married couples

  • Expand Medicaid

  • Join California in the global warming hysteria

  • Mandate an expensive and unfunded cleanup of Puget Sound

  • Lay the groundwork for HillaryCare

  • Create a five-week paid family leave bill that will be incredibly damaging to small businesses


  • But while Senate Democrats wasted taxpayer's time debating a meaningless resolution to impeach President Bush, the most important issues facing Washingtonians were still not addressed, including:

  • A solution to repair/replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct and the 520 floaing bridge that voters were told were in "imminent danger" two years ago in order to reject I-912

  • Property rights relief that voters were promised last year in order to reject I-933

  • Legislation to restore the property tax cap approved by voters in I-747 that was been overruled by a King County court


  • Yes, we can hope the Spendocrats will pay a heavy price in next year's elections for their drunken orgy this year.

    A Faith or a Gang?

    As in the United States, Islam is turning to prisons to find new disciples.

    Critical phrase: "Where we do draw the line is where religion is really a camouflage for other activities."

    Indeed

    The NSW (New South Wale) Government has launched a prison crackdown on a group of the state's most dangerous criminals who have converted to Islam.

    The targets are held in the highest security jail in Australia, the Super Max facility inside the walls of Goulburn jail, where one in three of the inmates is a Muslim fundamentalist or a convert.

    Two prison converts, one a convicted murderer and the other a rapist, have married Muslim women in marriage ceremonies conducted over the telephone on party lines.

    Attorney-General John Hatzistergos is introducing sweeping changes to the prison regulations so the Super Max Muslims are monitored 24/7 because of safety and security fears.

    "We have to be able to control every movement and every utterance because of the threat they pose," Mr Hatzistergos told The Sun-Herald. "We don't want to see any risk to people either inside or outside the system. We simply can't take our eye off them."

    Called the "Super Max Jihadists", they are easily identifiable, with shaven heads, long beards, carrying prayer beads and conducting prayers at least three times a day in their cells.

    Their ringleader and powerbroker is Bassam Hamzy, jailed for 21 years for the cold-blooded shooting murder of an 18-year-old man outside the Mr Goodbar nightclub in Oxford Street in 1998.

    Prison officers have confiscated pictures of Osama bin Laden from the walls of Hamzy's cell. Prisoners have been captured on surveillance tapes kneeling in front of Hamzy and kissing his hands.

    The 37 Super Max inmates, including backpacker serial killer Ivan Milat, have committed 48 murders and are serving combined sentences of 550 years.

    Now 12 of them claim adherence to Islam and form a close-knit culture in the purpose-built jail within a jail. Under Mr Hatzistergos's new measures, Hamzy and his apostles will be deemed "extreme high security" and be subject to controls that can be ordered at any time by NSW Corrective Services commissioner Ron Woodham.

    The crackdown will stop money being sent by sympathisers on the outside to influence inmates to convert to Islam.

    In future, Mr Woodham will have to approve in advance any sums of money sent to inmates' accounts in the "extreme high security" category.

    "We don't have a difficulty with people taking up a religion per se in jail," Mr Hatzistergos said.

    "A lot of people do and that can be beneficial.

    "Where we do draw the line is where religion is really a camouflage for other activities.

    "If any person thinks that by taking up religion, that somehow it is going to lead to them being treated differently on a day-to-day basis, they will be sadly mistaken."

    He was supported by Mr Woodham, who said: "We're concerned about real heavy criminals who have had no interest in religion at all during their lives but, on coming to jail, then convert to Islam.

    "A number of Aboriginal prisoners, unfortunately, doing impossible sentences, have converted to Islam. They denounce their Aboriginality for Islam."

    Outlining the new powers to case-manage the Hamzy followers, Mr Hatzistergos said: "They can be moved around the jail system for any purpose at any time.

    "The commissioner can put in place any additional security arrangements he wishes, including a restriction on contact visits, monitoring those visits, monitoring phone calls, recording phone calls and checking all mail."

    Mr Hatzistergos, who is also Justice Minister, said the Department of Corrective Services would face justifiable criticism if it didn't act in response to the safety and security of the prison system being compromised. "We make no apologies for it," he said. "We are dealing here with, religion or no religion, some of the worst of the worst offenders who have no respect for authority.

    "The thought that somehow religion has acted as a catharsis for them and made them see the light is, quite frankly, ludicrous."



    Bad News For Democrats

    In accordance with the Constitution and the law, only legal U.S. citizens will be allowed to vote in Arizona. This will deprive the Dems of one of their more loyal voting blocs.

    The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday that Arizona can continue requiring people to prove citizenship when they register to vote.

    The decision came as part of an ongoing challenge to the voting requirements approved on the November 2004 ballot as part of Proposition 200. The proposition, known as Protect Arizona Now, also includes the requirement that voters show identification at the polls.

    Plaintiffs, including Indian tribes and Latino groups, were appealing a U.S. District Court decision not to put the citizenship requirement part of the law on hold until the lawsuit is settled. advertisement

    The Appeals Court said there was insufficient evidence that the law severely burdens the right to vote or amounts to a "poll tax." Secretary of State Jan Brewer called the decision a victory for states' rights and for voters. "The people have spoken, and this is what they want in the state of Arizona," she said.

    Rep. Steve Gallardo, D-Phoenix, a plaintiff, said the decision challenges plaintiffs to show more proof of the harm of the law as the case progresses in U.S. District Court.

    "I'm confident once we are able to provide the full record of how it will impact voters in Arizona, particularly minority voters, that we will win on the merits," he said.

    Voters approved Proposition 200 in Nov. 2, 2004, by a 57-53 margin. Backed by conservative Phoenix activist Randy Pullen, it also carried a requirement that government employees report attempts by suspected undocumented immigrants to get public benefits.

    The provisions created an almost immediate storm of controversy and legal action including the suit over the voting identification requirements.

    The state did not start enforcing the requirement to show identification at the polls until the March 2006 elections and following a media campaign to educate people about what was required.


    Eco-Chic Phonies, Or How Al Gore's Pals Celebrate Earth Day

    Al Gore and John Edwards' pals in Manhattan are going eco-chic for Earth Day. Like the pair mentioned before, they have a very good idea how you should live. I have often said that I'll take global warming seriously when liberals start taking it seriously. People like these are why I don't expect to be challenged any time soon.

    Concerned with carbon emissions, she is about to replace the Barnetts’ two family cars with hybrids. “I turn the water off when I’m brushing my teeth,” she said. “I’m always learning, I’m always trying to improve.”

    Still, she has no plans to reduce the family’s significant carbon footprint by, say, selling the Manhattan second home. “I’m not a perfect person,” she said. “I’m not the greenest woman in America.” And there was scant indication that other guests, most of whom, presumably, knew their way up the steps of a private jet, were contemplating major lifestyle cutbacks. Glancing about the room, Ms. Barnett said, “We aren’t all going to move to one-bedroom apartments.”


    And,

    She plans to practice conservation, to a point. Energy-saving light bulbs are fine — for the utility closet, perhaps. In other rooms, “they don’t give a very pretty light,” she said.

    Taking in such reservations, Ms. Barnett remained sanguine. “This is the grass-roots way to help save the world,” she said.

    One pointy-toed step at a time.


    They do know how you should make sacrifices.

    Saturday, April 21, 2007

    I Bet Bill Wishes He'd Thought of This

    Hillary proves that she's the smarter of the two Clintons.

    You just know that Bill is just kicking himself for not thinking of this himself. How much better would he life have been if he'd had the foresight to send Hillary to the far ends of the earth?

    "Finding room to grow; Pullman, Whitman County work out how to zone agricultural land around the city"

    From today's Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    The city of Pullman is concerned that Whitman County's new rural-residential laws could complicate and increase the cost of its urban growth if it's circled by large-lot residences.

    Pullman City Supervisor John Sherman said there is a possibility the city could be ringed in by large-lot development when the new rural-residential laws go into effect, presumably sometime this year.

    Pullman wants an area surrounding the city that would be defined as an urban expansion zone and would be free of development until the city expanded into it. That way, the city can grow in a more orderly way and not have to zig-zag around existing developments.

    Ideally, Sherman said, the city would like a one-mile ring around Pullman designated as an urban reserve area.

    The city also wants the county to reserve an area south of Pullman for a highway bypass.

    The concept isn't new to Whitman County. The county granted Pullman urban expansion areas in 2004, when it created cluster-housing zones. Sherman said the designation allowed the city to grow evenly, but now it has expanded into those areas and developers are searching for more land near town.

    Finding land hasn't been a problem so far, and Sherman said the city wants to keep it that way.

    "We are not opposed to rural residential," he said. "We would like to maintain that growth buffer."

    Sherman said that buffer has saved money and time completing infrastructure and rights-of-way around the property of existing landowners. Plus, the city doesn't want to deal with the increased number of landowners.

    "People living in the country move there for a certain lifestyle," Sherman said. "They can become very distraught if they become surrounded by subdivisions."

    Whitman County Commissioner Jerry Finch said just because an urban growth area doesn't exist in the proposed rural-residential laws doesn't mean those areas can't be established. The county can create an interlocal agreement after the laws go into effect.

    The county wants large-lot residences to be permitted on the outskirts of Pullman. It also wants to provide areas for commercial businesses outside the city limits to increase its tax revenue and secure fire flow and utilities to those businesses from the city, with businesses paying for the installation.

    In turn, the county has offered to share some of the taxes generated from the new businesses.

    Whitman County Planner Mark Bordsen said landowners get caught in the middle of the discussion. If an area is designated as an urban expansion area, the owner can't sell it for large-lot development. They have to wait until the city wants to annex their property.

    There are other considerations besides room to grow. Tax revenue is important to both Pullman and the county.

    The county receives the bulk of the tax revenue when businesses and properties are located outside incorporated areas. The cities the businesses border receive no direct tax benefit, although the county still retains a portion of the tax revenue when an area is annexed into a city.

    The county doesn't immediately lose the largest portion of the tax revenue when property is annexed into a city. Total tax transference from the county to a city takes six years.

    Sherman and Finch said the discussion on city expansion isn't a splitting point between Pullman and the county.

    Sherman said both Pullman and the county want continued sustainable growth and the continuation of the county's agricultural industry.

    Sherman said the Pullman City Council is still considering the county's proposal.

    "We don't agree on everything," Sherman said of the city and the county. "We try to cooperate, but cooperation doesn't always mean agreement."

    Harry Reid, Still Alive And In Charge

    The CIA has verified that the voice on a recent videotape is indeed Harry Reid.

    Attempting to clarify yesterday’s statement that the war in Iraq is “lost“, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said today that he “supports the troops who lost the war.”

    In an audiotape recorded from an undisclosed location and released through Al-Jazeera TV, Sen. Reid said, “The troops who lost the war should hold their heads high, because not everyone can be a winner, and they gave it a good try.”

    CIA analysis of the tape indicates the voice is “almost certainly” Sen. Reid’s and that references to recent events show that the Democrat leader may still be at large, in good health and “substantially in charge” of his network of Democrat senators.

    On the tape, Sen. Reid also said, “It’s not the fault of our troops that they represent an evil regime, or that they wear the uniform of the nation viewed by many as ‘the Great Satan.’”



    Meanwhile, Harry's a hit with our enemies.

    Middle Eastern Media Take Up Reid's "War Is Lost": Iranian Press TV reports, in response to Reid's statement:

    Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."

    A Republican party e-mail also reported the following as translations of items from Al-Jazeera Online, and Al-Sharq Al-Awsat, "The Leading Arabic International Daily"; please let me know if the translations are inaccurate:

    "Yesterday the leader of the Democratic majority in Congress, Harry Reid, announced that he conveyed to Bush that the United States lost the war in Iraq and that the additional America forces that were sent there will not succeed in the achievement of any positive progress."

    "Leader of the Democratic majority in the US Congress, Harry Reid, has said the US has lost the Iraq war, and Bush's troop surge has failed.... Reid's comments came a day after 200 fatalities were reported in bombings in Iraq, despite a much touted US Security Plan which the White House said sought to root out insurgency."

    As I have said before, it may well be quite proper -- and certainly constitutionally protected -- for people to criticize the war; and sometimes the benefits of such criticism, even of the "war is lost" variety and even when said by leading U.S. politicians, outweigh the costs. Yet it seems to me hard to doubt that this statement will have grave cost.

    If Napoleon was right that "In war the moral [meaning 'morale'] is to the material as three to one," then it seems to me that Reid's statements may prove highly objectively costly, chiefly by strengthening the enemy's morale as well as by weaking our own soldiers'. Likewise if Churchill was right that even statements that "weaken confidence in the Government" and "make the Army distrust the backing it is getting from the civil power" may prove to be "to the distress of all our friends and to the delight of all our foes" (Speech in the House of Commons (July 2, 1942)). How much more distress and delight must be caused by statements that represent that the Congressional majority actually believes the war to be lost.

    Maybe, as I said, the benefit of the statements exceeds their harm. And maybe the harm will be modest, because everyone -- among our enemies as well as among our military -- has already assumed that the Democratic leadership thinks this. Yet my suspicion is that the harm will be quite substantial indeed.

    Hillary's a Ho'!

    I don't know what "nappy-headed" means, but I know a ho' when I see one. So does Colbert King.

    Put me in the camp of those who implore Sen. Hillary Clinton to give it back -- "it" being the reported $800,000 that's sitting in her presidential campaign coffers thanks to a fundraiser hosted in her honor March 31 in the Pinecrest, Fla., home of a huge Clinton fan who refers to himself as Timbaland.

    In response to my questions, Clinton campaign spokesman Blake Zeff said in an e-mail this week that it cost $1,000 just to get into Timbaland's fundraiser, that about 200 guests were on hand and that the senator was accompanied by former president Bill Clinton.

    You would not be reading about Clinton or about Timbaland -- who entered this vale (sic?) of tears 36 years ago in Norfolk under the name Timothy Mosley -- were it not for the fact that he is a well-heeled hip-hop producer and noted performer of the kind of misogynistic and denigrating lyrics that informed Don Imus's derogatory comments about the Rutgers women's basketball team.

    Mrs. Clinton, you may recall, took umbrage at Imus's remarks, branding them "small-minded bigotry and coarse sexism." His words, she said in an e-mail to supporters, "showed a disregard for basic decency and were disrespectful and degrading to African Americans and women everywhere."


    Meanwhile, the Rutgers basketball team knows an opportunistic fraud when they smell one.

    Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton finally dropped by Rutgers to meet with the school's women's basketball coach -- but the players themselves skipped the half-hour meeting, citing their studies and Imus fatigue.

    "Many of the players were in study hall from eight to noon and some had finals," explained a Rutgers source who said the players were "tired" of all the attention. "These young women need to do their classes, and wrap their spring semester."


    So, she traipsed off to New York to kiss Al Sharpton's ring and perhaps other regions at his National Action Network Convention.


    Hmmmm. I wonder why the Washington Post swept Rutgers' snub of Hillary under the rug?

    The New York Times chose to keep its readers ignorant too.

    Friday, April 20, 2007

    Double Tap Gonzo

    You HAVE to love someone as politically incorrect as the Motor City Madman.

    Nugent: Gun-free zones are recipe for disaster

    "The Myth of Moral Relativism"

    There have been several comments in the last week about how no one has the right to "the moral high ground" on any issue. This is a concept known as moral relativism and is a cancer that represents, in my opinion, everything that is wrong with the American education system today.

    Philosopher Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty has a great essay exposing the hypocrisy of moral relativism. An excerpt:

    The purpose of this brief essay is to show that moral (or ethical) relativism is a philosophical myth that is accepted by no one who has critically examined its tenets and that those who claim to be moral relativists are really not. We are dealing here with two aspects of a specific condition:

  • First, with a "belief" that states there are no fixed values, there are only fluctuating human valuations, or that ethical truths are relative, that is, the rightness of an action depends on or consists in the attitude taken towards it by some individual or group, and hence may vary from individual to individual or from group to group.

  • Second, with "actions" based on this belief which clearly show that the agent is, more or less, acting or behaving in a way that is consistent with the belief that moral relativism is, in fact, the true and only philosophical position.

  • As is usually the case in this type of reflective situation, the belief comes first, the action follows, but the action taken tells us something about the commitment to the belief undergirding the action taken.

    It is easy in our contemporary society to find statements which apparently show a commitment to moral relativism. Consider just a sampling:

  • What's true for you may not be true for me.

  • Nothing is really right or wrong, but thinking makes it so.

  • Ethical judgments are just a matter of personal opinion.

  • Anything goes.

  • One man's meat is another man's poison (in regard, of course, to morals).

  • We should not judge another's personal morality.

  • No society is better or worse than another (in regard to social ethics).

  • The above statements, and ones similar to them, are now bandied about in ordinary conversation as if they were truths about which no one should disagree. Moreover, those who claim to be moral or ethical relativists and are bold enough to declare it would simply say: "All morals are relative and that's the end of it," or some such "philosophical" assertion.

    Opinion surveys recently taken in America have shown the pervasiveness of the position promoted by moral relativism. For instance, in one survey where adults were asked if they agreed with the statement "there are no absolute standards for morals and ethics," seventy-one percent said that they agreed with it. Other surveys have shown even higher numbers who think that morality and ethics is a matter of personal opinion and that there are no universal standards by which one can determine the rightness or wrongness of a human act.

    Now, I never question what a person tells me regarding his or her personal beliefs, unless I have a valid reason to think otherwise. If someone tells me that truth is a relative matter, then I accept that that is what that person believes. I then consider that person's actions to see if they are consistent with the beliefs stated. And that is where the "rubber meets the road," so to speak. I find that those who claim "all truth is relative" may spout that belief, but they never act as if its true. Similarly, I find that those who say they believe in moral relativism never act as if they really do. In fact, I find them to be moral absolutists, not moral relativists. Belief is one thing; actions are another. And it is in the realm of action that moral relativism takes the fatal "hit."

    The old adage "actions speak louder than words" has a special significance here. If the "words" (beliefs) are really committed to by the moral relativist, then his or her "actions" should be consistent with those words or beliefs. And it is precisely here that moral or ethical relativism becomes a "myth." While many may claim to be moral relativists, their actions show they are not. In fact, their behavior shows them to be moral absolutists of a type, the very opposite of what they claim to be. And it is this point that I want to address in the remainder of this essay.

    The self-proclaimed moral relativist does not and cannot maintain his or her commitment to the "philosophy" of moral relativism. In fact, the record clearly shows that these "moral relativists" are not relativists at all, but moral absolutists. This assertion is based on their behavior, not on their alleged support of a philosophical position. To wit:

  • Modern "liberal" political groups who promote "political correctness." These groups want to suppress what they consider to be offensive language and views. Most of these people claim to be moral relativists, yet they promote a doctrine that includes an "absolutist" program, that is, "statements that are politically incorrect must be eliminated or even made illegal." No relativism here.

  • Groups promoting "Multiculturalism." All the beliefs and practices of non-Western cultures must be considered as "good" regardless of the belief and practice, but Western civilization and the "white European" are evil and to be eliminated as soon as possible. No relativism here.

  • Pro-abortion groups. Claiming that morality is a matter of personal opinion, these groups are now attempting to legally quash any opposition to their position. They want "special protection" and do not want to confront any philosophical opposition. No relativism here.

  • The above are simply examples of "absolutist" behavior parading as moral relativism.

    This goes for blogs as well as newsgroups.

    Welcome Professor John Streamas!


    Feel free to bookmark the site. It's easier than a Google search.

    WSU College Republicans Statement on Anti-Immigration Fliers

    This letter was sent to Mike Tate, Vice President for Equity and Diversity, Richard King, Chair, Comparative Ethnic Studies Department, Ed Weber, Director, Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service, ASWSU, and the Office of Multicultural Affairs:
    To whom it may concern,

    The College Republicans were pleased to attend the forum organized by the Foley Institute. It has however come to the attention of the Club that certain individuals were handing out flyers at the entrance to the auditorium which were political in nature. We would like to make it clear that no one from the club participated in the creation, printing or distribution of these flyers nor did anyone in the Club have prior knowledge that it would take place. As an Organization we are committed to increasing political awareness and improving the level of debate on our campus however we believe that this must be done respectfully. To intrude upon an event that was thoughtfully prepared by the Foley Institute in association with other University groups was inappropriate.

    This being said it was equally absurd that many in attendance chose, without evidence, to condemn the College Republicans for events in which we did not take part. It was ill-mannered and indicative of how private political views can cause people to leap to the conclusion that satisfies their prejudices. In the future we would hope that incidents like this not only don’t happen but that there is a mature response from all parties concerned.

    Respectfully,

    The College Republicans at WSU
    Printing an unsubstantiated allegation made by a political enemy of the College Republicans in the newspaper is what is truly absurd here. Where was the fact checking? Where was the reliability checking on sources? Where was the understanding of underlying motives and dynamics between groups? Where was the impartiality? All sadly missing it seems. Between this and the misquoting of Danny Schanze, it is a major embarrassment for the Daily News.

    Senate Democrats Enable Seattle's Racist Educrats

    I have finally identified the problem with the public school system. Seattle teachers are racists. According to the Seattle Education Association, between 40 and 45% of low-income children will not the pass the Washington Assessment of Student Learning, or WASL, exam before their 2008 graduation date. Most of these children, the union says, are “children of color.” If they don’t pass, and if the legislature does not relax the requirement, these high schoolers will not graduate with the rest of their classmates in 2008. And that, the union argues, is unacceptable.

    The union has labeled the governor’s plan to postpone enforcement of the mathematics portion of the WASL while leaving the reading and writing portions in place as “racist.”
    “This pure (sic) and simply is the definition of Institutional Racism and Institutional Privilege. SEA (Seattle Education Association) and SPS (Seattle Public School System) are working to eliminate the horror of Institutional Racism and Privilege wherever we find it,” the teacher’s union fulminated in a letter sent to the legislature a couple of weeks ago.
    And no, I don’t know why supposedly educated people would capitalize the words “Institutional Racism and Privilege.”
    The teachers have an ally in state senator Rosemary McAuliffe, D-Bothell, who claims to have secured the votes required to postpone enforcement of the entire WASL exam.
    "If I'm going to delay something, why wouldn't I delay it all? Why would I just delay math and not listen to the voices for those children who struggle with reading and writing and have not had the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards?" She said.
    These children “have not had the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards?” Did she really say that?
    If after 12 years in the Seattle public school system these kids have been denied “the opportunity or the resources to meet the standards,” then whom should we blame other than the people who are charged with providing the opportunity and the resources and are failing in that responsibility? And if these kids are disproportionately children of color, then shouldn’t we hold them accountable for their racism as well?
    If Don Imus can lose his job for simply hurting the feelings of a future physician and a class valedictorian, then why should teachers who fail to instruct children of color as well as their white classmates get off any easier?
    It seems to me that the best way to spare children the horrors of institutionalized racism would be to get rid of the teachers whose results expose them as its most flagrant practitioners. After all, if these children are the victims of institutionalized racism, then with what part of the institution do the children come into their most direct contact? Should we blame the walls? Did the janitor do something wrong? Do not the fluorescent lights burn just as brightly for everyone? They all get the same books. So if it is the children of color who under-perform, then perhaps we might want to examine the teachers and learn if different results are a consequence of lowered expectations.
    The Seattle Public School system’s lowered expectations for children of color was reflected in its own definitions of “cultural racism,” which included “having a future time orientation,” known to the rest of the planet as planning ahead, and “defining only one form of English as standard.”
    Now this may sound like the standard issued clich├ęd gibberish of the cultural left. But it is in fact racism. Seattle teachers have given up on teaching their pupils standard English and so denigrate those who uphold the standard as racists. But is it not the teachers who are racist for not believing in their pupils’ capacity to learn English?
    The same goes for planning ahead. Seattle teachers should be drumming into their pupils’ heads the consequences of failing to prepare adequately for the WASL. But that would be hard. It’s much easier to dismiss the challenge than to meet it. And so, rather than raise their students up to the standards of the WASL, the Seattle’s educrats instead define the standard as racist.
    And they’ll probably get away with it. Like our enemies overseas, teachers know that when eyeball to eyeball time comes, the Democrats will blink. Not only do the teachers unions have a lot of money, but they’re also holding children of loyal constituencies hostage.

    Thursday, April 19, 2007

    All The News That's Unfit to Print

    The Daily News and reporter Amy Gray owe Danny Schanze a big apology and a prominent retraction.

    In a story today, it was reported:
    Daniel F. Schanze, political action chairman for the College Republicans, asked Hing, "Why would you have laws and not enforce them?" He also asked why Immigration and Naturalization Service agents have been prosecuted "in instances where they have done things I think are reasonable," such as shooting at an armed assailant.

    Hing asked for details, which Schanze could not provide, then answered that law enforcement personnel can be prosecuted if they do not follow the law.

    "I was on Janet Reno's citizens advisory panel to monitor Border Patrol abuse and minimize it," Hing said, explaining that agents were rarely prosecuted.
    The problem is, it wasn't Danny. According to Danny:
    WHAT!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I never asked a question. I was barely there, I was sick with a migraine and had a tutoring appointment. I missed the question and answer session!!! I never asked a single question.
    The proof is on film here.

    Not only do the CRs have to deal with the CES Department setting them up, now they have reporters misattributing who said what.

    John Edwards: "I Feel Pretty, Oh So Pretty"

    More on John Edwards $400 haircut.

    "Moscow continues meddling in county"

    Gordon Forgey nails it again in today's Whitman County Gazette:
    A debate was held held in Moscow on Thursday on the University of Idaho campus. It was billed as the Great Corridor Development Debate and was sponsored by the University of Idaho Economics Club.

    The two debators were residents of Latah County. The debate went on despite the fact that a representative from Whitman County did not take part.

    Moscow wants a say in what happens across the border in Washington and, particularly, in Whitman County. It is afraid of losing business and businesses to the newly opened land there and has already tried to impede, if not stop, Whitman County corridor development.

    Moscow's effort to control corridor devcelopment is couched in terms of trying to save the environment and trying to avoid avoid unsightly sprawl. The underlying reasons are economics, however.

    This is the same Moscow which has created a mess within its own city limits and finally ended its relentless, haphazard growth in a fit of remorse. This is the same Moscow which was threatened with $2.6 million in fines for dumping sewage into Paradise Creek and ended up paying less by admitting its fault.

    Whitman County can be smarter and still be a good neighbor.

    Moscow should try to be both, too.
    Couldn't have put it better myself.

    Foley Institute Immigration Panel Video

    Video1

    Video2

    Video3


    Note: This video was filmed using a Sony w810i cell phone

    Wednesday, April 18, 2007

    “Contentious Whitman Co. rural residential laws near completion”

    From today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News:
    Many residents still concerned, but county says issues of constitutionality have been addressed

    Whitman County's proposed rural residential laws and revisions to its comprehensive plan could be signed into law by the end of the month.

    A Tuesday night public hearing marked the last planned comment period before Whitman County commissioners enact the proposed laws, which is tentatively scheduled for their April 30 meeting.

    The proposed land-use laws would open up the county's rural areas to development and eliminate the three-year waiting period that previously regulated development. The laws have caused a stir in the county since the revisions were first suggested by the county's planning commission several years ago.

    The proposed laws initially contained restrictions on development on hilltops, the color a house could be painted and other rules that were greeted by public outcry at previous meetings.

    The commissioners and county planning department retained the restrictions on hilltop construction, but nixed limitations on paint color and landscaping.

    Restrictions on areas that could be developed sparked some concern over their constitutional legality by residents and county staff, including Prosecutor Denis Tracy.

    Before meeting with the planning department, Tracy questioned if restrictions on hilltop building would be constitutionally defensible. Tracy said Tuesday that those issues have been resolved, partially by incorporating aquifer recharge zones onto the area's 15 buttes.

    County planning staff previously said hilltop building restrictions were important for protecting the area's agricultural industry and for maintaining its image of wide-open, rolling hills.

    Under the final revisions, people can build on a hill but there are restrictions on the exposure of the home.

    Tuesday night's meeting was sparsely attended compared to past public hearings, but a wide array of comments were heard.

    Several people spoke in favor of the new laws, saying they will protect agricultural land and allow for development.

    Others questioned whether stipulations in the new laws would keep them from rebuilding their homes if they burned down, since the laws have changed since their houses were built. Tracy said the county does not want to restrict people from rebuilding their homes, and that he and the planning department will review the laws to make sure the wording is correct.

    A few people commented that the timing of the hearing prohibited many landowners, especially farmers, from attending the 6 p.m. meeting.

    "You're never going to find a time that works for everyone," Commissioner Michael Largent said. "This meeting was designed so people could come."

    - Public comment will be accepted until April 27. Comments can be mailed to the county commissioners or submitted in person at the Whitman County Courthouse. The proposed laws can be viewed on the county Web site at www.whitmancounty.org. The revisions are at the bottom on the home page under quick links.

    QUICKREAD

    WHAT HAPPENED: Whitman County residents voiced their opinions on the county's revised comprehensive plan and proposed rural residential laws.

    WHAT IT MEANS: The commissioners and county staff will take the public's suggestions and consider them in an effort to refine the proposed laws.

    WHAT HAPPENS NEXT: County commissioners plan to review and sign the proposed laws April 30.

    WHY YOU SHOULD CARE: The new laws will form the foundation for development in the county for the next several decades.
    So that explains how the constitutionality problems “disppeared.” Incredibly, the commissioners are playing the “water card,” just as Moscow has done with the Hawkins development in the corridor. I understand the county even used some studies done, by that’s right, Mark Solomon, to justify their decision. I’m going to get post links to these various studies as soon as I can. The science for using the buttes as “aquifer recharge zones,” from what I understand, is indefensible.

    Even worse, those 15 buttes are not owned by the county, but by private landowners. There is no plan on how to compensate these owners of the buttes for the loss of use of their land Many believe this will result in either lawsuits or a change of commissioners in the next election. As a minimum, the commissionrs have to delay adoption of butte protection until they can determine ways to work with the landowners.

    The commissioners have made a deal with the devil. The price will be high. This could come back to haunt the county in future legal wrangling with Moscow over the corridor. It may land the county in court trying to defend the constitutionality of this planning disaster. And, as mentioned earlier, it certainly may cost some commissioners their jobs next year.

    But apparently the die has been cast. The commissioners' “damn the torpedos” approach has thus far evaded all resistance. And we in Whitman County will have to live in the shadow of this new zoning ordinance for years to come, as we have done with the previous one.

    God help us.

    Haircuts Have Been Important to Successful Campaigns Before

    John Tester defeated Conrad Burns for the US Senate seat from Montana almost entirely on the strength of his own haircut.

    Maybe John Edwards knows more about the importance of careful grooming than we do.

    John Edwards' Situational Morals

    John Edwards is all for the late term unborn, when there's money in it for him and not so interested when it's the Democratic nomination that's at stake.

    Here's what he says today about partial birth abortion.

    "I could not disagree more strongly with today's Supreme Court decision. The ban upheld by the Court is an ill-considered and sweeping prohibition that does not even take account for serious threats to the health of individual women. This hard right turn is a stark reminder of why Democrats cannot afford to lose the 2008 election. Too much is at stake - starting with, as the Court made all too clear today, a woman's right to choose."


    Of course, when he was fully willing to humanize a fetus back in 1985 (registration required) when he was motivated by his own self enrichment.

    Key passage:
    In 1985, a 31-year-old North Carolina lawyer named John Edwards stood before a jury and channeled the words of an unborn baby girl.

    Referring to an hour-by-hour record of a fetal heartbeat monitor, Mr. Edwards told the jury: ''She said at 3, 'I'm fine.' She said at 4, 'I'm having a little trouble, but I'm doing O.K.' Five, she said, 'I'm having problems.' At 5:30, she said, 'I need out.' ''

    But the obstetrician, he argued in an artful blend of science and passion, failed to heed the call. By waiting 90 more minutes to perform a breech delivery, rather than immediately performing a Caesarean section, Mr. Edwards said, the doctor permanently damaged the girl's brain.

    ''She speaks to you through me,'' the lawyer went on in his closing argument. ''And I have to tell you right now -- I didn't plan to talk about this -- right now I feel her. I feel her presence. She's inside me, and she's talking to you.''



    And While We're On Subject of John Edwards' Hypocrisy

    In the two Americas, there is one where we stand in line ourselves to get good deals at Wal-Mart. Then, there's John Edwards' America, who sends flunkies to stand in line for him.

    Wal-Mart claims that former North Carolina Senator John Edwards asked his local Wal-Mart store for help in getting a hot new Sony PlayStation Three.

    The potential 2008 presidential candidate says a volunteer made the call by mistake, and feels terrible about it.

    Edwards, a prominent critic of the company, had taken part in a conference call yesterday with union-led activists who are trying to pressure Wal-Mart for better labor standards.

    Wal-Mart says the same day, an Edwards staff member asked a Raleigh, North Carolina, electronics department manager to obtain a P-S-Three for the ex-senator’s family. A company statement accuses Edwards of not wanting to wait his turn.

    Edwards says it was a volunteer who made the call after hearing that the Edwards family had wanted a P-S-Three.

    Edwards also says the volunteer now realizes that he shouldn’t have used the former senator’s name.

    It was all a simple mistake. A "botched joke."

    Northwest Progressive Conference


    Anybody want to make an office pool about the average number of body piercing per person at this event?

    This is going to look like bar scene in Star Wars.

    Maybe the WSU College Republicans should show up at this thing and make a big display of walking out. Or, they could behave like adults and let these kooks have their fun in their own little cocoon.

    [Michael, the Star Wars cantina analogy is apt, but I'm thinking something more like a Star Trek convention - tf]

    University of Rhode Island Student Senate Dumps College Republicans

    Institutions of higher learning are attacking College Republicans. We have seen this with here at WSU with the C.R.'s being attacked by two militant professors. Will ASWSU attack the College Republicans like the student senate did at URI?

    University of Rhode Island Student Senate Dumps College Republicans
    Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) ^ | April 18, 2007 | Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE)

    PROVIDENCE, R.I., April 18, 2007—Displaying a dramatic disregard for students’ constitutional rights, a committee of the University of Rhode Island (URI) Student Senate voted on Monday to derecognize the College Republicans student group. For months, the Student Senate has demanded that the group publicly apologize for advertising a satirical $100 “scholarship” for white, heterosexual, American males. The College Republicans refused to apologize and contacted the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help. FIRE is now calling upon URI President Robert Carothers, who has already informed the Senate that it could not compel student speech, to reverse the decision to derecognize the group.

    “Neither the Student Senate nor anyone else at URI has the power to force the College Republicans to say things against their will,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “As bad as it may be to tell people what they cannot say, it is still worse to tell them what they must say. The Supreme Court has long recognized that compelled speech is not compatible with free societies. It is stunning that URI’s student government would show such contempt for fundamental rights, especially after URI’s own president explained it to them.”

    The College Republicans student organization first advertised the satirical “White, Heterosexual, American Male” “scholarship” in November, 2006. The scholarship consisted of a nominal $100 to be awarded to someone fitting those criteria who submitted an application and an essay on the adversities he has faced. College Republicans President Ryan Bilodeau explained that the point was to use satire to protest scholarships awarded on the basis of race, gender, or nationality. Over 40 URI students applied for the “scholarship,” many submitting equally satirical application essays.

    In a meeting on February 19, the Student Senate’s Student Organizations Advisory and Review Committee (SOARC) prohibited the College Republicans from disbursing the money. The group agreed that it would not give out the $100, but SOARC decided that even advertising the satirical “scholarship” violated URI’s anti-discrimination bylaws and demanded that the group publish an apology in the campus newspaper. Unwilling to apologize, Bilodeau appealed SOARC’s decision. The Senate denied that appeal.

    FIRE wrote to Senate President Neil Cavanaugh on March 13, stating that because the Student Senate derives its authority from a public university, it must comply with the First Amendment prohibition on compelled speech. The Student Senate, however, in a memo to the College Republicans on March 27, ruled again that the College Republicans must publish an apology and claimed authority to force them to do so. That sanction was later reduced to an “explanation” to be published in the campus newspaper and a mandatory apology to be sent to all of the students who applied for the scholarship.

    The College Republicans agreed to publish an explanation of its intentions, but refused to write any apologies. FIRE wrote to URI President Robert Carothers the following day to urge him to intervene in the situation. FIRE wrote, “URI administrators have a legal duty to step in where the Student Senate has failed and to check its attempt to trample upon students’ most basic freedom of conscience.” And in a letter dated April 6, President Carothers did indeed instruct the Senate in no uncertain terms to drop its unconstitutional demand for an apology. Carothers wrote that the mandatory apology “does not meet constitutional standards as laid forth in the First Amendment and in subsequent court decisions interpreting the standard.”

    But at a meeting on Monday night, SOARC nonetheless unanimously voted to ignore both its constitutional obligations and Carothers’ directive and derecognize the College Republicans for refusing to issue an apology. SOARC’s decision will be voted on by the entire Student Senate on Wednesday, April 25.

    FIRE wrote another letter to Carothers yesterday calling upon him to immediately reverse SOARC’s decision to derecognize the group. FIRE wrote that “[b]y fulfilling this responsibility as a public official, you can teach the Senate leadership that they must respect the rights of URI students and help to instill in them an understanding of the full repercussions for repeatedly and recklessly defying the Constitution.”

    “URI’s student government thinks it is above the law—that it can take fees extracted from students by a state university and yet ignore the constitutional obligations that come with them. It is sadly mistaken,” Lukianoff said. “President Carothers must act now to stop this rogue organization from conducting these unlawful acts under the aegis of the university.”

    FIRE is a nonprofit educational foundation that unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals from across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of individual rights, due process, freedom of expression, academic freedom, and rights of conscience at our nation’s colleges and universities. FIRE’s efforts to preserve liberty universities across America can be viewed at www.thefire.org.



    Some Bad News for the Wal-Mart Repairmen


    Wal-Mart Watch Poll: Wal-Mart's Reputation Improving With Consumers

    71 percent of consumers had a "somewhat favorable" view of Wal-Mart, up from 69 percent in a 2006 survey.

    The poll found that just 11 percent of Wal-Mart shoppers say they have shopped at Wal-Mart less because of its business and labor practices, while 9 percent said they bought less.

    According to a Time magazine article last year, that's far less than the number of Americans who agree some UFOs are probably spaceships from other worlds (25%) and that that creatures like Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster will one day be discovered (18%).

    And we're to believe that 10,000 people in Pullman have vowed never to shop at Wal-Mart?

    No wonder the PARDners feel like the Maytag repairman.

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