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Vote!

A previous supervisor told me her husband never votes, never has, never will. And because I wanted to remain employed, I said simply, "Oh, that is interesting." And kept my opinion quiet.

He doesn't vote because he believes his vote does not count. Try telling that to former Governor Chris Gregoire. She won in a recount by nearly 130 votes.

Today I say,"Vote!" It is a privilege and a responsibility. We take it for granted in our country, but voting gives us a chance to have our opinion counted, our views considered. Millions of people around the world, in different countries, have walked miles and miles, stood in line for days to  drop their vote into a box. 

Take time, consider the candidates, their views; consider the Initiatives and what you believe and then…vote accordingly. Don't keep your opinion quiet.

(S-R archive photo)

Holy smoke…update

Today begins the conclave of Cardinals to elect a new pope. Who do you think will wear the white garment and stand at the window?  

While the rest of the world tweets, emails, texts and blogs, the men in red sequester themselves without electronics; instead they pray, reflect and vote – just as they did 400 years ago.

 An American? The guy from Milan? The hockey-playing Canadian? The man from Ghana?  Latin America? Who is your favorite?

 We wait and look to the sky for an answer.

UPDATE: CARDINALS IN CONCLAVE: BLACK SMOKE AT 7:42PM

Vatican City, 12 March 2013 (VIS) – This evening at 7:42pm, black smoke rose from the chimney installed on the roof of the Sistine Chapel signalling that the Cardinal electors have not elected a new Pope in the first ballot of the Conclave.

(S-R photo: U.S. Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley of Boston)

Listen…Vote

Amazing comments from a twenty-something writer about the upcoming election.

Her words and insights offer evidence that wisdom does not require decades of experience – just great skills of observation and reflection.

(S-R photo)

They’re back! Sort of

My all-time favorite television show – The West Wing – is back…sort of.

Some cast members have reunited to get us united in our civic duty and profound privilege: voting.

The team has created a public service announcement for Bridget Mary McCormack, the Michigan State Supreme Court candidate whose sister Mary acted on the series.

 Enjoy the education from the Emmy Award winners who remind us to read everything on the ballot – Michigan or not – and vote. Since some of our candidates are non-partisan,  if you vote strictly according to your political party, you may skip some of the candidates.  

President Bartlett was a great leader – at least for one hour each Wednesday night. And I am certain, he votes.

(S-R archives photo: Martin Sheen as President Bartlett in The West Wing)

Most school levies pass around state

Most of the school tax levy measures on the ballot yesterday appear to have passed, with all three Kootenai County school districts approving theirs - including a 13-year, $32.7 million bond levy in Coeur d'Alene - and levies in Treasure Valley districts including Kuna, Nampa, Homedale, Notus and Wilder all passing. Potlatch voters were 67 percent in favor of their district's $1.3 million levy to save school programs, electives, sports and teachers' jobs, the Moscow-Pullman Daily News reports, after a similar measure failed in May. An attempted recall of a school board member in Bingham County failed.

In Caribou County, a $5 million bond in the North Gem School District reportedly failed, coming just two votes short of meeting the two-thirds supermajority requirement. Power and Cassia county voters overwhelmingly approved a $1.8 million supplemental levy for the American Falls school district. Buhl voters also approved a supplemental levy, after two earlier tries failed narrowly.

Voters head to polls in 20 Idaho school districts today, most on whether to hike local tax funding for schools

It's election day in 20 school districts across Idaho, as voters head to the polls to decide on school funding measures from a $1.6 million levy in Nampa to fund textbooks and building repairs; to a $3.19 million levy in Kuna to head off 25 teacher layoffs; to a 13-year, $32.7 million bond levy in Coeur d'Alene to fund major building renovations at schools throughout the district. School districts with elections today range from Kootenai, Bonner and Benewah counties to Canyon, Twin Falls, Caribou and Cassia counties; voters are heading to the polls from Buhl to Potlatch, and from Rathdrum to American Falls, which has a bond levy on the ballot. Bingham County has a recall election for a school board member.

In all, 20 districts in 14 counties are holding elections today, all but Bingham to consider funding increases through property taxes.

Betsy Russell: To Vote Or Not?

Earlier this week, I posted information re: the dilemma that SR colleague Betsy Russell and we other Idaho journalists find ourselves in — whether or not to vote in 2012 primary election in May. For the first time, as a result of the GOP-pushed closed primaries, journalists will be required to state a party preference to vote. Betsy has been told by the paper that she could be reassigned away from covering politics & government, if she declared a party affiliation & it became the source of contoversy. I've been told by the paper that I'm free to vote because I'm not a reporter but an opinion writer. Betsy is president of the Idaho Press Club. The column she wrote about her dilemma wasn't posted on the group's Web site when I posted the initial story. Now it is. You can read it here.

Question: Should the newspaper allow Betsy to vote in the primary w/o potential consequences? Should it allow me to vote?

A Letter to the Candidates

 

    There. I voted. I did my part.
    I did the research, marked the little bubbles and dropped the ballot in the box. I listened to what you had to say and I told you what I want for the future. Now, go away and leave me alone for a little while.


    If you made it into office, either returning or for the first time, show some respect for all the people who put you there and get to work. No more negative words.


    If you lost, suck it up. Don’t whine. Don’t sling any more mud. Someone wins and someone has to lose.
    The election is finally over so I don’t want anymore postcards cluttering up my mailbox. I don’t want to hear what a lying, scheming, conniving crook your opponent is. I don’t want to be reminded of what a self-sacrificing saint you are. I don’t care how pretty your wife and kids are or how your husband stands behind you. I’m not interested in where you go to church or how you like to throw a Frisbee to your dog.


    I don’t want to see your signs on the corner, on the empty lot downtown or on the side of a bridge. I don’t want to hear your ads on television or the radio. I don’t want emails and venomous Facebook and Twitter posts from friends telling me how to vote.


    Don’t ring my doorbell. And don’t call me again. I won’t hesitate to hang up on you.


   This country is in a real mess. It’s no time to turn on one another. I voted because it’s the one way I can - linking arms with others who care just as deeply - make a difference. And, yes, I know I'm fortunate to have that power.
    

So, please, no more angry words. No more excuses and accusations. No more dirt. Do us all a favor and just get to work.

Cheryl-Anne Millsap is a freelance columnist for The Spokesman-Review. Her essays can be heard on Spokane Public Radio and on public radio stations across the country. She is the author of “Home Planet: A Life in Four Seasons” and can be reached at catmillsap@gmail.com
  

Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic running for Wahkiakum County clerk…

Former Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic has filed election papers to run for clerk of tiny Wahkiakum County, one of the most sparsely populated counties in the state.

The county auditor’s office confirmed to me this morning that Novoselic has filed not as a Democrat or Republican, but under the category “prefers Grange party.”

That’s a reference to Novoselic’s longtime involvement in the Grange, a rural community organization with its roots in agriculture and political populism. Novoselic is the Master of Grays River Grange No. 124, presiding over meetings and rituals.

“The formality of what Novoselic calls `The Orthodox Grange’ appeals to his sense of propriety and down-home togetherness,” state oral historian John Hughes wrote recently in his excellent profile of Novoselic. “The old wood-frame Grange Hall radiates history.”

The county is the third smallest in the state, with a population of less than 4,000 people. The county seat, Cathlamet, numbers just 565 people.

Novoselic has long been interested in the mechanics and promise of politics. In 2004, he wrote “Of Grunge and Government — Let’s Fix this Broken Democracy.” He’s a Democrat — in fact, he’s the chairman of the Wahkiakum County Democrats — but Hughes described him as “fundamentally a lower-case democrat who believes that partisanship and the politics of marginalization are harmful to the country.”

He’s also a longtime advocate of ranked-choice voting, also known as Instant Runoff Voting.

In a grange blog announcing his candidacy, Novoselic notes that the group is nonpartisan. But under the rules of the state’s new “top two” primary, candidates are allowed broad latitude to describe their political beliefs. (In the new primary’s trial run last year, one man ran as a candidate of the hitherto-unheard-of “Salmon Yoga Party.”

Novoselic, saying he’s a strong believer in the constitutional right of free association, says its a mistake to let candidates describe themselves as members of a particular party, regardless of whether the party actually accepts them. The state’s Democratic and Republican parties have made the same argument for years.

“My problem is not really with a top-two runoff election,” Novoselic wrote on the grange blog. “My issue is with the way candidates can appropriate the name of a private group.”

He’s running against County Clerk Kay M. Holland, who was appointed to the post in January after the former clerk retired. Prior to the promotion, Holland had served as chief deputy clerk for 14 years.

Holland, a fellow Democrat, said she knows Novoselic from the county party meetings, but hasn’t yet talked to him about the decision to file for the seat.

“Nice guy,” she said.

Novoselic keeps his hand in music, playing periodically, but is clearly attached to his rural life and the sense of community he’s found. Here, in an appearance a year ago at Seattle’s Experience Music Project, he talks about trying to balance things:


Hat tip: to Kelly Haughton, at the blog Ranked Choice Voting in Washington.

More election news: Lots — LOTS — of interest in two E. WA. House seats…

Very few legislative seats are up for election in this off-year, but there’s tremendous interest in two Eastern Washington spots in the House of Representatives.

Four people have so far filed documents with the state’s Public Disclosure Commission to run for 9th District Rep. Steve Hailey’s old seat representing the Palouse region. Retired Rep. Don Cox was pressed into service as an appointee this year after Hailey died of cancer, but Cox has so far not filed paperwork to run for re-election this fall.

Who has? Hailey’s widow, Pat Hailey; Schweitzer Engineering’s Susan Fagan, who scored an early coup getting AG Rob McKenna’s endorsement; WSU’s Darin Watkins (described as “Extremely charismatic. Looks and sounds like a politician” by Palousitics two years ago when he applied to replace departing state Rep. David Buri), and Lamont’s Arthur Swannack, who has been the president of the Washington State Sheep Producers. All are Republicans.

Just to the southeast, no fewer than 5 people are running for late Rep. Bill Grant’s seat, now help by an appointee: his daughter, Rep. Laura Grant-Herriot. Grant-Herriot, running as Laura Grant, recently filed for re-election. She’s the lone Democrat in the race so far.

Also in the running for that 16th district seat: Lawyer/former prosecutor Terry Nealey, Paco city councilman Matt Watkins, and Walla Walla’s Kevin Allen Young, who works as a manager for the state Department of Transportation. Walla Walla County Commissioner Greg Tompkins had filed to run for the seat, but got out of the race recently, citing a family member’s health. “I can’t be in two places at the same time, and right now I am needed by my family more than ever,” he said.

Lastly, Rep. David Taylor, R-Moxee, is so far running for re-election unopposed.

Election time…let’s see who’s filed…

No, not Lisa Brown yet for governor.

Locally, however, there’s already some interest in city council seats. A quick run through Public Disclosure Commission files shows that:

Tom Towey is running for a Spokane Valley city council seat. Towey’s a Spokane Valley planning commission member, longtime Rosauer’s manager and former write-in candidate for council against councilman Steve Taylor.

Spokane Valley Mayor Richard Munson (who appointed Towey to the commission) is also running for re-election. Munson’s a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and retired stockbroker.

Brenda Grassel, impressively, already has a website up for her run for Spokane Valley City Council. She and her husband own a manufacturing company, Precision Cutting Technologies, and have rental properties.

Steve Eugster, a longtime Spokane attorney, would-be long-haul trucker and law school classmate of Justice Richard Sanders, is running for Spokane City Council against Councilman Michael Allen, a 2007 appointee and former Eastern Washington University official who’s running for re-election.

Eugster was on the council at a more contentious time, departing 6 years ago, and he has uttered what is so far the best quote of the 2009 campaigns, referring to the now-much-less-exciting council: “This `Era of Good Feelings’ is putting us all to sleep.” (Eugster’s political resurrection prompted actual rejoicing from S-R columnist Doug Clark.) Still, judging by Allen’s former job with EWU, his fundraising should be formidable. He was director of the school’s corporate and foundation relations.

Spokane Valley City Councilman Gary Schimmels is running for re-election. He’s a longtime construction company owner who two years ago sold his business, Affordable Lock Express since 1998.

Spokane City Councilwoman Nancy McLaughlin’s running for re-election. She’s a co-owner of a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company.

Challenging McLaughlin is Karen Kearney, a women- and children’s advocate and the former campaign chairwoman for Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich.

Amber Waldref is running for Spokane City Council in District 1, for the seat currently held by Councilman Al French. She’s works for the Lands Council (a Spokane-based environmental non-profit group) is a Georgetown alumna, and counts among her Facebook friends state Sen. Chris Marr.