Monday, November 26, 2012

Black Friday protest at Mt Vernon Walmart

This Banner proclaims the  ideal of protestors at
 the  Mt Vernon Walmart Supercenter on Black Friday. 

Well over a hundred people showed up for Black Friday 2012 rally at the Mt. Vernon Walmart Super Store.   The crowd included neighbors,  some Walmart workers on strike and members of Occupy Bellingham.   All were there to support Walmart's employees right to speak out . "Our Walmart" and the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 21 organized the event. Volunteer Lawyers showed up and told Walmart we had the right to take pictures since the parking lot in front of the store was on public property - a great strategic advantage for us. We were all  peaceful and considerate of property.  We did not deter shoppers from going into Walmart.  However Walmart workers were happy to see so many there in support of their grievances.  The Union Leader said this was a good start to what will be a long haul to change Walmart's attitude and practices with employees.  He also claimed Walmart didn't really know what to do with us.

At the end of the rally several informative speakers addressed the crowd. Skagit County Democratic Committee Woman - Janet McKinney  -  outlined conditions endured by Walmart employees while Walmart made record breaking profits ( click here for video ).  Walmart employee - Lori Amos -  narrated her experiences working 13 years for Walmart.  As a representative of co-workers associated with "Our Walmart", she spoke out for better working conditions, work place safety, benefits, and improved wages ( click here for video).   Lutheran Pastor -Terry Kyllo - inspired us with his Thanksgiving vision of a better future for Walmart and its employees (click here for video.    The rally ended with the String Band Jamboree from Deming strumming a rousing rendition of  "which side are you on" - a labor song written for coal miners in 1931 and adapted for Skagit County in 2012  (click here for video ).

Friday, October 12, 2012

GO DOWN AND FLIP (the ballot)

At the Carol Ronken Memorial BBQ Oct 6th Senator Mary Margaret Haugen (far right)   expressed her appreciation for Carol and Susan Ronken’s leadership of the Stanwood Democrats.
The Stanwood Democrats held a Memorial BBQ in honor of Carol Ronken at the Floyd Norgaar Cultural Center Saturday October 6th.    Carol founded the Stanwood Democrats in 2004.  Carol passed earlier this year.  We sorely miss her leadership.   Fortunately her daughter, Susan,  is continuing her mothers efforts for the Democratic Party.  

At this and other  events this Fall,  Senator Haugen has emphasized the importance of our vote not only for the governor, US congress and State senators but also local candidates like State Rep, County and PUD Commissioner.   So we had many local candidates address the crowd after the Salmon BBQ.   The candidates seeking reelection impressed me with how they work together to improve conditions in the North Sound.   Whidbey Island Commissioners Helen Price Johnson and Angie Homola worked with Transportation Committee Chair - Mary Margaret Haugen - to have Vigor Industrials subcontract the construction of the new ferries' superstructure to Nichols Brothers in South Whidbey Island.  The new ferries will replace the aging Steel Electrics operating on Puget Sound. The insourcing of State funds will allow steady work for Nichols employees and allow the company to hire 100 more workers on the Island.

Lt. Governor Brad Owen advocated for the reelection of Mike Kreidler for insurance Commission.  Because of Kreidler’s foresight Washington State is ahead of other States in setting up health insurance exchanges so WA citizens can benefit from the Affordable Care Act passed by the US legislature in 2010.   In case you are worried about your health insurance rates going up, Commission Kreidler has proposed legislation to give his staff the ability to consider revenue surpluses when approving rate increases.  So far the legislature has turned him down.  Kreidler claims: “Over the past several years, the three major health insurers in the state – all non-profits – have accumulated large surpluses while continuing to raise consumers’ health insurance premiums. The combined surplus of these companies is now more than $2.4 billion. These surpluses are in addition to the amount they are required to hold in reserves to pay future claims.” WOW!  Lt. Gov. Owens reiterated the importance of having Senator Haugen and other Democrats in office to support Commissioner Kreidler’s efforts.

Nick Petrish ( is running for District 1 Skagit County Commissioner.  Erick Teegarden is running for Snohomish PUD Commissioner.  Both candidates support the development of alternative energy sources. Petrish is excited about the Saphon Zero Blade Wind technology because it is more efficient and less expensive than current wind turbines.  Saphon is now looking for a manufacturing partner.  For this technology Petrish believes “In Skagit County we have the talent, the skilled workforce and the need”.  We all know Skagit County certainly has the wind.  Much to my surprise I learned from Candidate Eric Teegarden that the North Sound also has enough sun for solar energy.  He should know.  He has been a systems engineer designing and implementing solar, wind and geothermal projects for the major utilities in Western Washington.   He is strongly opposed to the county spending over 150 million on building a hydro-electric dam at Sunset Falls on the Skykomish River.  He believes there are other less costly, more reliable and less environmentally destructive alternatives.   Teegarden elaborates his alternative to the dam @  I asked him afterwards why the current PUD wanted the Dam instead of the newer technologies.  He answered that is was faster to install the dam.  After learning more about the possibilities for alternative energy from Candidates Petrish and Teegarden,  I was less skeptical of Gubernatorial Candidate  Jay Inslee’s optimism expressed in his campaign for an energy hi-tech future. 

Gubernatorial  Candidate Jay Inslee outlined his ideas for high tech energy industries in WA to a crowd gathered at the Swinomish Lodge near Anacortes on Sept 22. The event was sponsored by the Swinomish Tribal Community and the Skagit County Democrates.  

 When I went to hear Inslee  last month at the Swinomish Lodge near Anacortes, his major concern was ensuring that WA students would have the STEM education to met the challenging demands these new industries would bring.  To do this we need to keep faith in these possibilities and go down the ballot and flip the page to make sure we vote in the best leadership for ourselves and especially our children’s future. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Fidalgo Democrates Debate Fall Ballot issues

Former Chief of the SPD - Norman Stamper -
advocates for I 502 legalizing marijuana use.

Related links:

 I 1240 (charter schools)

I 502 (marijuana legalization) 


R 74 (marriage equality) 

Both those debating "for" and "against" these  ballot issues were well informed, passionate and effective in their presentations.   Although I was pretty sure how I would vote,  the debates  made me question my assumptions.

Initiative 502 - Legalization of Marijuana 

Former Seattle Police Chief Norman Stamper made a formidable case for legalizing and regulating marijuana claiming it would:
     -free police to spend more time on violent crimes.
    - increase tax revenues by as much as 5 billion.
    - weaken the Mexican drug cartels.
Stamper proposed that some of the increase in tax revenues should be spent on educating youth about drug use.  He reported that "kids are responsive to education that is honest about health risks to brain development".

NOT SO FAST warned our local Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt.  The Sheriff found devils in the details of I 502.  The law is legally problematic.  The State Attoney General and Governor will not support  legalization because it conflicts with Federal laws.  Likewise neither Gubernatorial Candidate Jay Inslee nor Matt McKenna support the law.   Reichardt questioned the effects of the law on drug cartels.  Since the regulated outlets would charge $350/oz  for marijuana +  45% in taxes the cost to marijuana user of $507/oz would be well above the street prices ranging between $250 - $300/oz.   Reichardt spoofed the idea that at those prices the State stores could compete with the current black market.   One high school teacher was concerned about Students being derailed by a criminal record after experimenting with marijuana.    I asked how many people in Skagit county were arrested for marijuana possession last year.   Sheriff Reichardt cited 265 arrested on misdemeanor charges - most of which did not go to court.

These two law officers cited conflicting examples of what effects marijuana legalization would have on usage.  Since  there are 300,000 in the State of WA that take marijuana in some form, we seem to need more information on this subject.

Initiative 1240 - Authorization of Charter Schools

     The Executive Director  of Seattle based Partnership for Learning  - Jana Carlisle - endorsed the creation of charter schools in our State.   She addressed some of the common criticism of Charter Schools.  The Charter Schools would be tuition free and open to all.   Financial support would follow the child not the school.   Charter School teachers would have the same certification requirements as traditional public school teachers.  There would be oversight to ensure academic standards.  She believes Charter Schools would provide more options especially for low achieving student as they did in Harlem.   However, an article in the Sept 2nd New York Times gave the Harlem Charter Schools very mixed reviews.    Carlisle argued that Charter Schools for minority students were a civil right, but I think that is a bit of a stretch.  Children have a right to a good education not necessarily a certain form. 

Anacortes' long time School Board member Mike Stark opposed the formation of Charter Schools.  Mr Stark was named Anacortes' Patron of the Arts for his years of support of art education for children.   He warned that Charter schools start out as non-profit entities and then turn to private sources for funding.   With support from a religious organizations the Charter School could promote religion rather than the secular education normally provided by the State.  Mr Stark did not find anything in the Charter Schools that would help special needs kids for whom the WA school system is responsible.   Most in the audience agreed with Mr. Stark's concern that charter schools would adversely impact the public schools revenues. 

Referendum 74  - Defending Marriage Equality.

Stephani Couturo, a social worker from Bellingham,  asked the audience to support marriage equality by voting FOR  R74 because Domestic Partnership legal rights do not hold up in other States or Countries.   She assured us that the Clergy and those involved in the wedding business will still have the choice whether or not to participate in a wedding ceremony.   Most in the audience were sympathetic.   

Josheph Kebble, a libertarian, had an unusual reason for opposing R74.   He felt marriage should not be defined by the government.  Government should only enforce contracts.  It should not force you to recognize his marriage nor he to recognize yours. 

  Because I believe in separation of Church and State,  I too wish marriages could be left to the churches - all of whom would have different requirements according to their custom - some supporting same sex marriage, some not.  Concordantly  the Government would just provide civil unions for everyone.  My GLBT friends said that would be good if it were possible but that our legal code includes thousands  of rights that are embedded with the word "marriage".   So my plan B is to vote for R 74. 

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Tenth District Democrats at the State Fair 2012

 Tenth  District Democrats Stan Mason (left)  and Phillis DeSoto
greeted visitors to the Snohomish County Democrats booth at the
 WA State Fair in Monroe.

It was Senior's day at the Fair.  We had a stack of literature about the national, state and local candidates but we were really kept busy selling a variety of OBAMA buttons.  People also bought bumper stickers and signs.  It was my first experience at retail sales but my advanced degrees in Math got me through.    The sales were encouraging.  It was also fun to met so many friendly people who shared our political passion.

 Gay couples stopping by the booth were happy to see signs endorsing R74 in support of marriage equality.

 Some of the men asked in jest what "legitimate rape" was.   Told them I didn't know.  One man  was really hung up on the concept.   So I expressed hope no-one in our families learns first hand.

Later in the afternoon young adults came by to register to vote - a good sign for the future.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Stanwood Democrats Endorse Candidates for the Fall Elections

               The Stanwood Democrats met this morning to endorse the following candidates for the Fall election.  We are providing links to each Candidate's Web site to help voters to become better informed.  Just click on the name of the Candidate.


Barack Obama, President of the United States
Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senator
Rick Larsen, U.S. Representative, 2nd Congressional District


Jay Inslee, Governor
Brad Owen, Lieutenant Governor
Kathleen Drew, Secretary of State
Jim McIntire, Treasurer
Troy Kelley, Auditor
Bob Ferguson, Attorney General
Peter J. Goldmark, Commissioner of Public Lands
Randy Dorn, Superintendent of Public Instruction
Mike Kreidler, Insurance Commissioner
Aaron Simpson, Representative, Position 1, 10th District
Tom Riggs, Representative, Position 2, 10th District
Sheryl Gordon McCloud, State Supreme Court, Position 9
Millie Judg, Superior Court Judge Position 11
Eric Teegarden, PUD Commissioner, District 2

State Treasure Jim McIntire claims he is running for reelection to the most important job few are aware of - State Treasurer.  Nonetheless he reminds us of what the State Government accomplished  under the his leadership along with that of the Democrats and moderate Republicans in the legislature during these tough times. 

"When I took office in 2009, banks were failing fast, the stock market was in free-fall, and the bond market was nearly frozen.  Now, three and a half years later:
  • Despite the failure of 19 community banks in Washington, no public deposits were lost, public banking laws were reformed, and $5 billion of local public funds in community banks are now safer.
  • We have financed $7 billion of job-creating new construction in public infrastructure.  We also refinanced $3.6 billion of existing state debt with the lowest interest rates in 50 years.
  •  We saved taxpayers $1.3 billion in interest costs on state debt by squeezing lower interest rates from Wall Street using market competition and creating opportunities for Main Street Washington investors.
  • The State Investment Board is now the nation’s top performing pension fund.  We have recovered all of the value lost in the 2008-09 financial crisis, making Washington’s pension system the 3rd best-funded pension system in the country.
  • And finally, we are doing more with less – financing more infrastructure investments and investing more short-term cash for local governments with 7 percent fewer funds and personnel."

Monday, July 16, 2012

Candidate Aaron Simpson Addresses Stanwood Democrats

  Tenth Legislative District Candidate Aaron Simpson (standing)  addressed the Stanwood Democrats at their monthly meeting July 14th in their beautiful new headquarters just west of the Stanwood Country Store.
  Tenth Legislative District Candidate  Aaron Simpson  outlined several issues motivating his candidacy.   He believes that current taxes and regulations favor large agribusinesses at the expense of our local family farms.  Likewise we need to evaluate tax incentives and State regulations as they affect local businesses.  He would support State funding of education  through the entire legislative process often neglected by Republicans. There ensued a lively discussion among the Stanwood Democrats about the proposal to introduce Charter Schools to the State of WA.   Most members believed that charter schools would be a drain on the public schools with no proven benefit.  It did not make sense that Tax money would go to corporate profits instead of teachers and students.   

The Democratic candidates for office in November have left information about their candidacy at the Stanwood Headquarter.   The public in encouraged to drop by to ask questions and get the information they need.  The location is: 27116 90TH AVE NW, 

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Whatcom Democrats Endorse Darcy Burner

It was a drizzly evening on Thursday June 21 when the Whatcom County Democrats assembled for their monthly meeting at the Sons of Norway Hall off State & Champion Street in Bellingham.  Walking into the room the mood was frenzied as candidates swarmed around voters to garner support for their campaigns.  Many of the volunteers phone-banked for weeks prior to the meeting to remind Democrats to come and vote for a candidate to endorse.  Phone and Email blasts reached over 7,000 voters, I personally received at least 3 phone calls to request my support. 

In the front of the hall were tables of literature, buttons and enthusiastic greeters.  BBQ dinner was served and the atmosphere in the Norway Hall was one of a rock concert -  loud and stiffling hot making the audience feel a bit restless and uncomfortable.  Discomfort aside, the impassioned speeches of the candidates seeking endorsement enveloped the room. 

Darcy Burner won the nomination by a 75% vote.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Whatcom Women Democrats host Judicial Candidate

On a warm and sunny Monday afternoon May 14th   the Whatcom Women Democrats met for their monthly lunch meeting  at the Super Buffet off the Guide Meridian in Bellingham .  Sunny weather meant a lighter than average turnout of 12 members. Judicial candidate Debora Garrett was the honored guest.

Ms. Garrett gave an update on her campaign progress.  She reported that over 40 people turned out at the Whatcom County Courthouse in support of her filing for candidacy.  Reaching out to the community, Garrett is attending at least 2 events per week around the county.  Yard signs are ready and doorbelling will commence shortly. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Skagit County Democrats Annual Gala Attracts a Crowd

        Over 200 hundred Democrats from Skagit and Snohomish Counties attended their Annual Gala in Mt. Vernon last Saturday.  Eight major labor unions and about a dozen office holders were among those attending.  The keynote speaker, WA State  Democratic Party Chairman Dwight Pelz, reminded us of all the gruesome things the Republicans would do if and when they took office.  So we know the battle lines.  But the good news is that we have some great, younger candidates with good ideas running for office.  I enjoyed the chance to talk to two of them - Darcy Burner (running for the  1st Congressional District) and Tom Riggs ( running for 10th District State Rep.)
Several Luminaries graced the table reserved for the 10th State Legislative District (LD).  Seated from the left are: Phil Lewis,  Snohomish County Democratic Chair & Vice Chair -  Laura Lewis,  DNC Representative to the National Committee - Lona Wilbur,  Jennifer Antione, and  Democratic 10th LD Chair - Ray Miller.  We are all disappointed that the State Redistricting will place Ray outside of the 10th LD, but we are sure that Ray will provide great leadership wherever he is placed. 

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Whatcom County 2012 Democrat's Caucus

On Saturday April 28, Syre Auditorium at Whatcom Community College, Bellingham, WA was filled with over 200 voter delegates from Whatcom County Democratic Party.  One notable exception was a Green Party Officer who attended and needed a special vote to serve as a Democratic delegate.   Representative Kristine Lytton served as temporary Chair of the Caucus until a permanent Chair was elected during the Caucus. 

The key purpose of the Caucus was to bring together all delegates from districts in Whatcom County for a consenses and approval of our contribution to the 2012 Democratic Platform.   The Platform which will be ratified at the State Caucus in Seattle in June.

Candidates for office were allowed to give a quick 5 minute pitch for their campaign.   Saturday was Caucus day statewide, so two of the candidates (Darcy Burner and Laura Ruderman) were unable to appear personally and sent representatives in their staid.  Please see my article from the February post about Whatcom Democrats Monthly Meeting for details of the candidates' respective platforms.

Planks (statements of policy position) to be considered for the 2012 Platform  were on Coal Transportation/Environmental Impacts and a Fourteenth Amendment movement to redefine the relationship between "Corporations" and "Natural Persons". 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Skagit County Law officers discuss "Gun Violence and Gun Laws: Stand Your Ground?"

Although Florida is thousands of miles away,  those of us in the Pacific North West could not help but wonder how gun violence, racism and the Castle or Stand Your Ground laws in the National news affect us.   So the Fidalgo Democrats asked Anacortes Police Chief Bonnie Bower and Skagit County Sheriff Will Reichardt to address these issues during their monthly meeting at the Anacortes Public Library April 17th.   

Chief Bower surprised me and maybe others with the long list of gun regulations enacted since our country was founded.   Sheriff Reichardt claimed that there had not been a strong correlation in the number of guns owned by WA state residents and gun violence.  He remarked that most violent crimes were committed with stolen guns.  WA state has extensive requirements for concealed weapons which seems to be effective in promoting responsible gun ownership. 

 The castle doctrine ( the right to defend yourself against an intruder into your home) is not a law but a principle from 17th century English common law.  WA State Senate Bill 5418 would make the castle doctrine into law.   Chief Bower credited the impetus to extend  the Castle doctrine  with  “Stand Your Ground” to the Clint Eastwood 1985 movie “Dirty Harry”  e.g “do something that will allow me to shoot you”.  The “Stand Your Ground” law promoted by the NRA varies from State to state.  In Florida the law allows immunity from arrest to the shooter if he/she meets certain criteria. This can take time for the police to verify.  This  caused a delay in police taking action against George Zimmerman in Florida after he shot an unarmed 17-year-old - Trayvon Martin.  In the Trayvon Martin case the relevant part of the statue says that “a person who is not engaged in an unlawful activity and who is attacked . . . has no duty to retreat and has the right to stand his or her ground and meet force with force, including deadly force if he or she reasonably believes it is necessary to do so to prevent death or great bodily harm.”  In WA there is “Stand Your Ground” case law which can be invoked during trial but, unlike the Florida statute , it does not provide immunity from arrest.  I had the impression from talking with Sheriff Reichardt that he favored the status quo in WA because immunity from arrest outside of the defendent's home or vehicle would require a complicated set of  determinations that would be better handled in court than by the police.  I too think these decisions would place a tremendous burden on the police to determine guilt or innocence . 

As I glanced at the audience most seemed to have pale faces, but there was some mention of excessive gun violence towards African American males and one woman pointed out an incident where a black man was convicted in spite of the castle doctrine when he was defending his home.  A few in attendance had open carry weapons at the meeting, even though others were wary of people wearing guns into a public library.  Several in the audience spoke passionately about the need to carry weapons.  One even said Trayvon Martin would have been better off had he a gun.  In which case,  I think,  it would have been harder to assume Trayvon’s  innocence and the injustice of  Zimmerman’s stalking. Both men would probably be dead. The wild west lives on in the heart of some. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Whatcom Women Democrats Discuss Child Protective Services

On April 9, Spring made an appearance in Bellingham, WA as the Whatcom Women Democrats held their monthly meeting at the Super Buffet off the Guide Meridian. 

A recurring topic of passionate discussion in Whatcom County is the governance of the Port of Bellingham.  According to law, the Port of Bellingham is to be run by an elected committee of five Commisioners, but in fact there an now only three.  Actually only one person has  been making the decisions that impact the Port.  Currently serving are Scott Walker, District 1, Michael McAuley District 2, and Jim Jorgensen District 3.  Website gives enlightening and informative news and notes on how the Port operates.  To participate in the process, the public is welcome to attend monthly Port meetings on the first and third Tuesday of the month at 3pm - location and details available on the above website. 

The April program featured a presentation about Child Protective Services (CPS) and the lawsuit and legislative changes designed to privatize CPS case management services.   Unionized social workers object to case management services being contracted out to for profit non-union companies without adequate testing by the State of Washington. 

South Bellingham Democratic Caucus

Sunday afternoon a robust crowd of 30+ Democrat supporters gathered at Fairhaven Middle School as one of the 20 Whatcom County district caucus meetings.  PCO Maggie Hanson opened the table for registration of all Precinct #245 (Fairhaven/Chuckanut neighborhoods loosely defined) participants.  Registration is a formal process by which a voter declares a party (Democratic) and indicate a candidate preference for president.  Among the attending voters up to 12 delegates are selected to proceed to the County Level Caucus.  Current policy only allows 15% of those 12 delegates to have undecided/undeclared status on their certification.   We had only 11 voters at the event.    Eight people registered were approved by PCO Hanson to be delegates to the Whatcom County Caucus April 28.  Of those delegates, 6 declared themselves Obama supporters and 2 were undecided.

After delegate selection the floor was opened for discussion of the 2012 Democratic Platform.  Precinct 245 was passionate about coal refining, so they included some revisions in the current Platform proposals.  In the past, Whatcom County has required a two thirds majority vote (aka a "Super-Majority") rather than just a fifty-one percent majority (aka "Simple Majority").  Given a limited time frame for revisions, (the hall was actually being dismantled as we were still meeting at our table); two broad revised proposals were approved and the delegates agreed to continue the discussions directly with the Platform Committee at the April 28 County Caucus.  The Platform Committee deadline is 11am Wednesday for inclusion April 28.  This has been an ongoing project since 2010, and updates are published every other year.

In summary, the delegates chose 3 items for closer inspection.  Environment, Education and Foreign Policy.  Delegates want to expand the scope of the Environmental Impact Studies (EIS) relating to the rail transport of coal through Whatcom County.  Delegates also want to withdraw support for Charter and Voucher schools that involve for-profit/anti union entities and maintain funding for public schools.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Whatcom County Auditor Shirley Forslov Retires

While the North Sound was blasted by cold 50+MPH winds, a brave group of women turned out for the March 12, 2012 meeting of Whatcom Women Democrats to pay tribute to retiring Whatcom County Auditor Shirley Forslov.  For those unfamiliar with the office, the County Auditor is primarily responsible for Elections.  Counting votes and maintaining the integrity of ballots is vital to maintaing an open and fair political process in the United States.  Hence we avoid the expensive chaos witnessed in Florida over ballot irregularities and protested results on any level, a competent auditor is vital to our county.  It was a warm and touching tribute to her 24 year career with Whatcom County, as former assoicates and friends shared favorite memories with her.  As a fun note, Forslov served as Parade Marshall for 2011 in Ferndale's Old Settlers Parade. 

Monday, March 12, 2012

Candidate Darcy Burner addresses Stanwood Democrats

Chairman Larry Sather welcomes
 US Congressional Candidate  Darcy Burner
to the Stanwood Democrats Monthly Meeting 

   Darcy Burner is now campaigning for the newly redrawn First WA Congressional District.  Saturday, March 10th Candidate Burner was introduced  to the Stanwood Democrats by their newly elected chairman - Larry Sather during their monthly meeting at the Viking Restaurant.

Candidate Burner described how the GOP has rigged the rules of congress to consolidate and maintain power.  Burner reviewed ways that elected Democrats could be more effective in meeting their national legislative goals.  Her experience as the leader of the progressive congress in the other Washington has led to some very refreshingly specific proposals to take down the rigging.    Her ideas are inspiring.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Congressional Candidates presentation at Whatcom Dems Monthly Meeting

   by Bonnie Chisum

On a dark and rainy evening Thursday Feb 17 at the Sons of Norway Hall off N State Street & Champion in Bellingham, the Whatcom County  Democrats held their monthly general meeting.  Roughly 100 people turned out to see candidates  for the US Congress from District 1 vie for support in the upcoming primary election.  The four Candidates Darcy Burner, Suzan DelBene, Laura Ruderman and Darshan Rauniyar were each given 5 minutes to speak on their respective platforms, followed by a 10 minute Q&A session from the audience.  The response from the audience was luke warm because they had heard many of the promises before.  

Darcy Burner is a Harvard Graduate with a BA in Computer Science emphasizing  Economics.  She worked 10 years for companies such as Lotus and Microsoft.  She helped with Howard Dean and John Kerry’s campaigns in 2004. She ran against Republican Dave Reichert in the 2006 8th Congressional District Race. Burner described  current Congressional politics as “Democrats attacking a brick wall with water balloons.”   She wrote “The Responsible Plan to End the War in Iraq” which Obama used for his Presidential campaign.  In 2008, Burner became the President and Executive Director of  working with the Congressional Progressive Caucus on public health, civil rights, education, environmental sustainability and economic opportunity.  

Susan DelBene holds an MBA from the University of Washington, She was a Vice-President at Microsoft and a Biotech entrepreneur.  While serving as Washington State’s Department of Revenue Director in Olympia, DelBene watched special interest groups work against the interests of the middle class.  Her campaign platform focuses on “how to improve public access to Congress”.   DelBene believes that communication channels need to be expanded by holding town halls and public debates. If elected she will  promote education, jobs and health care access for all Americans. 

Darshan Rauniyar is a small business owner who  immigrated to America from Nepal over 20 years ago.  “The American Dream is fading,” Rauniyar states, “Washington DC does not reflect who we are as Americans”.  His platform is to “Restore the American Dream” by reforming trade agreements which have allowed American jobs to be shipped overseas so that now twenty million Americans are out of work and fifteen million people lack health insurance.  Rauniyar holds that the failure to fund education has caused America to fall behind Europe and most of the industrial world educational achievement

Laura Ruderman  began: “I believe if you show up and work hard, you should expect some basic things.  You deserve a living wage.  You deserve affordable health care.  Finally you deserve the right to retire with dignity.”  As a three term State Legislator from the 45th District, Laura Ruderman combines government experience with a background as a Program Manager at Microsoft.  She pledges to rebuild our economy by supporting key Washington State industries such as software, aerospace, biotech, and agriculture.  She proposes making Washington State an international leader in clean energy production.  Ruderman also champions the funding of post-secondary education for all students.  She believes the country should balance the budget by letting the Bush administrations tax cuts to the ultra-rich expire.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Whatcom Women's Democratic Club Feb. Meeting.

   reported by Bonnie Chisum

On a rainy Monday roughly 30 members and guests of the Whatcom Women's Democratic Club met for their monthly meeting at the Super Buffet at Cordata & Meridian in Bellingham." 

Mayor Kelly Linville  described a very active first 60 days in office as Bellingham mayor.  The mayor visited over 31 City of Bellingham worksites over a 4 day period,  to obtain feedback on current projects.  “Many workers claimed they had not seen a mayor in over 4 years!”   Linville promised to continue these visits.

Mayor Linville is focused on improving the efficiency of City government. Department head meetings will take place weekly to eliminate the scattershot effect of the previously disjointed self contained departments that failed to communicate city business. With restructuring in the municipal government David Webster has stepped down as Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) to resolve a duplication of efforts by Mayor Linville. The Neighborhood Advisory Committee – lead by Linda Stewart and Nicole Oliver - has also been restructured to facilitate communication between various groups.

Mayor Linville believes the changes in the City Government buildings to include a central place for constituents to bring questions, concerns and city business will improve operational efficiency. Previously citizen had to navigate a maze of departments. The central office will reduce extraneous interruptions to the city staff’s project work caused by frequently redirecting individuals to the right department. Linville gave a mixed report on the success of balancing the city budget. the budget does balance, minus the unfunded liabilities for pension and disability of $41 billion.

Conflicting appointments allowed only 15 minutes for Mayor Linville to speak, but she promised to spend more time with us in the future.

Judicial Candidate Deborrah Garrett

  • Local Attorney and Candidate for Whatcom County Judge.
  • In practice for over 33 years Deborah ran for Superior Court seat 20 years ago.
  • General practice includes criminal law, civil litigation and non-profits.
  • Performed pro-bono legal work for Women Care Shelter, YWCA and other worthy causes.
  • Served for many years on the Planning Commission in Whatcom County and is a longtime Bellingham resident.

“Running for judge is a challenge” said Garrett, “Because unlike other political offices, judicial candidates need to maintain impartiality on important issues that could later come in front of them in court. “ Garrett is allowed to seek formal Endorsements such as the one she was seeking at the Whatcom Women’s Democratic Club on Feb 13 and “ask for support” in lieu of formal solicitations standard in other campaigns. To give us an idea of the cost of a successful campaign, Garrett said that a primary bid costs between $30-40, 000 and then an additional $20,000 to proceed from Primary to General Election, bringing the conservative estimate up to $60,000 for a general election bid.

Planned Parenthood lobbies for Same Sex Unions and Reproductive Parity Legislation

Third up to the podium, but certainly the most animated and controversial presentation of the luncheon was a visit from Christina Wright of Planned Parenthood.  Ms Wright told recounted the funding controversy between PP and the Susan J Komen Foundation.  

By way of back story, Ms Wright shared with us that 19 PP Whatcom County affiliates had received funding from the Komen Foundation (famous for breast cancer awareness charity work) to promote Breast Health Education programs aimed at high risk minority women who often lacked any other access to such materials (i.e. uninsured populations who don’t see doctors).  A revision of policy and political pressures caused Komen Foundation to allegedly defund any organization it supported that was under any federal audit or investigation.  

Naturally as a recipient of federal funds, Planned Parenthood’s finance and operations are completely transparent and constantly scrutinized and audited.  Any organization that receives federal money is subject to the same routine audits.  Komen’s withdrawal of support was deemed by Planned Parenthood as a thinly veiled attempt to punish PP for providing contraception and abortion services to women, despite contrary evidence that PP is only accountable to roughly 5% or less of abortions provided to women.  

Komen’s action went viral in the social media community and within 72 hours an estimated $3 million was raised in support of Planned Parenthood.  Under such extreme pressure and negative publicity Komen reversed its decision and restored funding to PP.  As an aside, Ms Wright mentioned that, “Penn State University received $3.5 million in federal funds while being under Criminal Investigation, so surely Planned Parenthoods’ routine audits should be a non-issue.”  

Passed around was information regarding new legislation for reproductive parity.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tom Riggs' Campaign for 10th LD State Rep

Tom Riggs (far left) announces his Candidacy for 10th LD State Representative at the Stanwood Democrats monthly meeting Feb. 11th

At their monthly meeting Saturday morning the Stanwood Democrats welcomed the announcement of Tom Rigg’s Candidacy for the 10th Legislative District. 

Having served 18 years as a Park Ranger in the State of Washington,  Tom Riggs brings a unique perspective about WA State’s social and physical landscape.  Like most of us he emphasizes bringing more employment to Washington State. He suggests that our State government could in source more State contracts within its borders.  More about his  specific proposals can be found in the Heraldnet.  

Candidate Riggs is not certain if he will be running against Rep. Barbara Bailey or if Rep. Bailey will run for the State Senate against Senator Mary Margaret Haugen.  I commented that the two legislators take opposing views on the recently passed legislation providing marriage equality for Gays and Lesbians.  Rep. Bailey voted against the legislation and is encouraging a referendum to repeal it.   Candidate Riggs sides with Senator Haugen in supporting the legislation.  I emailed Rep Bailey saying I was disappointed in her vote against marriage equality. 

Friday, January 20, 2012

Carol Ronken - In Memoriam

 Stanwood Democratic Party Chairman, Carol Ronken, passed yesterday.  Even though she was ill, she continued to provide us with passionate and inspired leadership to the end.  Her friendly devotion will be sorely missed.

Stanwood Democratic Party Chairman Carol Ronken welcomes our US Representative
 Rich Larsen to our monthly meeting at the Viking Restaurant.

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Friday, Jan. 27 at Camano Lutheran Church.