Monday, November 24, 2008

Darold Stenson

Dear Gov. Gregoire,

To take a life is evil. To repeat such evil is to condone that evil. I oppose the death penalty on that principle. I am willing to pay the taxes necessary to give Darold Stenson his life. I do not believe that the end justifies the means. By showing compassion, we would show the world that the means become the end.

Please grant Darold Stenson a chance to teach us how to prevent such crimes in the future, instead of ending a life.

Chad Lupkes

Friday, November 21, 2008

Can we please stand for something?

In a conversation last night about the upcoming Elections Director election on February 3rd, I made the mistake of bringing up the platform of the King County Democrats as being important for getting the support of the County machine. I was told "the platform doesn't matter, we just have to win this one."

I'm tired of the Democratic Party being considered by people on the inside and the outside as being an electoral machine. Just throw them a bone now and then, and let them do the work of the campaign season.

Here's that bone back. BONK!

Winning elections is a positive result of effective organizing. Organizing people for a political campaign requires that the people working on that campaign know what the candidate stands for, and supports their vision strong enough to distract them from their lives enough to help with an election. The alternative, which seems to have been the standard for the last 20 years, is to get lots of money and hire people who know enough about election machines to win the election. Oh, and who can come up with some bones every now and again.

I'm tired of those kinds of candidates winning elections and pushing legislation and executive decisions that make me want to scream.

When filing is over on December 12th, I hope that the King County Dems will organize a candidate forum, inviting every single candidate. The first part of the event should be a presentation of what the party platform says about elections, as it applies to this new King County Elections Director. Then we hear from the candidates, and find out what they stand for. Then we open it up to questions from people who want to join a campaign that stands for what they want. Then we build the campaigns of the candidate that we support, and at the reorganization meetings we hold endorsements votes. Then we build the campaign some more.

Then we win.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

We can weather failure

"I have this great idea that will get people engaged, educated and empowered! If I just build this brand new website, or conduct this training that I've been trained myself to give, then everything will come together and we'll be on our way into a brand new world!"

Ever heard this? Ever said this? I have. And I've been left holding the bag, or the website, or the bill for the meeting location when 5 people showed up for a place capable of handling 150. It hurts. And it's left me with an understanding of what it takes to build a movement, sustain a movement, and succeed at something with a movement. I'd like to give everyone that chance to learn, and give our district, our party and our country a chance to succeed.

If you have an idea, and I'm talking mostly to North Seattle mostly but it applies to anyone anywhere, and you think you can make something work, conduct a training, hold an event, or whatever, ask me. If I like your idea, if you can sell your idea, I'll support it however I can. Because we can weather failure. We can learn from mistakes and do things better next time. We can do that.

What we can't do, and shouldn't do, is not try things. We can't waste energy, but we shouldn't be afraid to invest with risk if the payoff might be good.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Dear President-Elect Obama,

I am reading news articles saying that President George Bush's administration will be able to escape any and all investigations into what they have been doing over the past 8 years. I believe this is the wrong signal.

The only way to move into a future filled with hope and promise is if we learn the lessons of the past and take steps to ensure that the mistakes and the abuse cannot be repeated by future administrations. If crimes have been committed, they need to be investigated and the criminals brought to justice. That is a foundation of our laws and moral code.

Turning the page does not mean covering up the past with paperwork. I worked hard over the last 12 months to elect a leader who would fulfill my hopes for the future. And part of those hopes depended on holding the current administration accountable for the erosion of our foundations. Legal, Social, Financial and Physical, all aspects of our national foundation need to be secured for future generations.

Please. Let Congress fulfill their duty to the American People. Let the investigations continue, and let Justice roll down the mountain like a mighty river.

Monday, November 17, 2008

It's a new day!

Activism is defined as finding an answer to three questions. "What decision is being made", "who is making that decision", and "how can I influence that decision". Frequently in political circles, those questions are directed towards legislative, executive or judicial decisions. For a political organization, our focus becomes the voters that we are trying to influence to support our candidates, our campaigns, and our positions on important issues. Between election cycles, we pay close attention to our elected officials and the bills that they are considering and debating. It's easy to get lost in the effort of supporting this policy, that bill, or that court case. It's easy to get totally focused on an election season or specific campaign, which many of us can relate to from the experience of the last two years or for some of us even longer.

It's sometimes harder to keep our attention on the real reason we are making the effort, and the reason that those efforts are worthwhile. I'd like to have us keep in our minds a different level of activism. Community activism can still be defined as finding an answer to the questions above. But the focus is different. When we work on community activism, we make contact with people who are trying to decide whether they should buy a gallon of milk, or a gallon of gas. We talk to people who are deciding whether to save for retirement, or save for their children's education. We work to help people worried about whether to pay their medical bill or their mortgage. People are making those choices in our community right now, from the person riding next to you on the bus to the person working next to you all day long. Your friends may be facing hard times, and even your own family may be affected. So how can we influence those decisions? By getting, and by staying, active.

What our Democratic Party organizations are focused on are kitchen table issues. We want to influence the development of policy, legislation and our courts so that people making the really hard decisions about their lives get a little more confidence that they can make those decisions with a sense of their community at their back, instead of feeling like their lives are a burden on their back.

2008 was a transformative election year. But the work goes on. As we begin to focus on local city and county races, as we pay close attention to the upcoming legislative session in Olympia and Washington D.C., as well as the ongoing debates about policy and municipal legislation that affect our ports, our cities, our schools and our trees, let us keep our focus on our community, making those daily decisions a little easier for ourselves and the people around us so that we can walk into the future together.

It's a new day. Let's make it a great one.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Click. Watch. Awaken.

I'll probably get called a conspiracy theory nut for posting this. I don't much care. There is truth behind this, even if the details are skewed by bias.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Demogram Ad

I'm running this ad in the next Demogram:

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I am running for Chair of the 46th

I'm running. I made the announcement at the last Executive Board meeting.

So what does this mean? A few things. I won't be running for chair of the State Progressive Caucus, because I want to focus on the 46th LD and King County. I'll also have to close or pass on some of the other websites that I've been in charge of over the last few years, like Democracy for Washington and Progressive Democratic Caucuses of Washington. I've learned a lot, and it's time to get to work.

Barack Obama was elected on a wave of change, with the people wanting the United States to live up to our ideals. I want to bring that kind of change down to the local level in North Seattle. The purpose of the 46th District Democrats according to the bylaws is:

The purpose of the organization shall be to promote citizen participation in the Democratic Party, advance the 46th District Democrats’ platform, and support and work for the election of Democratic candidates and candidates for nonpartisan office who demonstrably espouse the principles contained in that platform.

I believe that this purpose statement is missing something. At the last Executive Board meeting, Bernadette described the impression and feedback that she has been getting from the PCO's and volunteers who were active in the 2008 election season. Most people want to stay involved, and want to participate. But they don't want to attend meetings where we argue about resolutions. There are people who do want to deal with resolutions, and there are certain resolutions that catch the attention of people who normally would not want to deal with them. What I see is the need to articulate our organizational purpose as "to promote civic participation, especially within the Democratic Party." The last year has seen people wanting to get involved, and I believe that we can provide a place and a way for them to do that without getting bored out of their minds by district business that doesn't excite them.

There are currently two types of events that the organization is focused on. General Membership meetings and Executive Board meetings. We do have other events, but there hasn't been enough attention paid to them. I want to change that. I want a 1st Vice Chair who will take on the need for events outside the box and beyond the regular meetings to keep people engaged between elections. I also believe this 1st Vice Chair should be able to take on the fund raising needs of the district, with the help and idea factory that is our active membership.

According to our bylaws, the jobs of the two 2nd Vice Chairs is assigned by the Chair. Right now we have Betty Means as the 2nd Vice Chair for Membership, and I think she has been doing a fantastic job. Having control over our membership information is critical in order to be able to encourage civic participation. The other Vice Chair position I want to talk about. Membership is appropriately one of our top priorities, in order to achieve the revenue stream necessary to maintain and grow operations. My other priority is Outreach, something that we have intended to do for the past 4 years that I've been involved in the Party, but has always been put to the side. During 2008, while Gerry was focused on his campaign, Javier took on the job of arranging programs for the district meetings. It worked rather well. When I was at the KCDCC Honors Party, I had elected officials coming up to me who had been told that I was running, asking for time in future meetings. I think the meeting programs will build themselves, and I'm open to ideas on what the membership wants to happen, who they want to hear from, and what kinds of questions they want answered by candidates running for office and elected officials who are doing our business with our tax dollars. What I want the other Second Vice Chair to work on is outreach. There are dozens of community organizations in North Seattle. I started building a list when I built the website.

There are also dozens of Advocacy organizations that help to advocate for our values and platform planks.

How strong the connection is between these groups and our district organization is a question that I want an answer to. And whereever we are starting out, I want those connections strengthened and expanded. We have a list of unions that represent people who live and work in North Seattle. What contracts are coming up for review, and how strong is the community supporting those workers? How can we make it stronger? How can we help?

I also do not want to leave the business community to the other party.

If 80% of the people living in North Seattle vote for Democrats, then I find it highly likely that 80% of the workers in North Seattle vote for Democrats, and just as likely that 80% of the business owners vote for Democrats. Why? Because they are the same people.

This is the kind of networking that I want to be a focus for our district organization. I believe that it will help us build a stronger community, and a larger and more influential political organization. And I want one of our Vice Chairs to be in charge of building this network. Let's make it obvious that we take this very seriously.

One other thing I want to mention. The district has a set of committees defined in the bylaws. I will treat these as committees, with chairs, members, goals, milestones and tasks. I will ask the committee chairs to provide regular reports on what they are doing, how they are doing, and what our members can do to help. I don't want the responsibilities of these committees to be on the shoulders of a single person, and I don't want these committees to be forgotten in the run-up to the elections in 2009 or 2010. This is the business of our district, and I want that business to get done.

As soon as the election was over, I started trying to focus my attention on the November meeting, the holiday party, the Reorganization, and holding our elected representatives, both familiar and new, accountable to our platform and the issue-based resolutions that have passed and will pass our membership over the next legislative session. For all of us, it's time to focus on building on what we did in 2008 and not letting people in North Seattle think that we are a GOTVote organization. We need to be a community organization, every year, every month, every day. That's what I want to build over the next two years, and I need your help.

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Transforming the Money Shadow

Debi sent me this article:

"Transforming the Money Shadow" by Deborah Price

Do any of us really understand Money? I'm leaning towards advocating that we set natural laws for money, similar to energy and matter. As in can neither be created or destroyed. I'm sure Bailey is going to say that this would destroy the world.

It's time we grew up as a civilization and learned the lessons of history. We need to break out of the web of debt that we are in. We need to take control of the Federal Reserve, which issues the money. We need to eliminate derivatives, and stop FTD's. I don't mean the flower guys, I mean "Failure To Deliver" on stocks and trades. Another name for it is "naked short selling", and it's against the law. has an article about it.

The first step is to educate ourselves on the subject.