History, politics, people of Oly WA

Month: February 2009 (Page 2 of 3)

3 thoughts on Nafziger’s “Fog of Lawmaking”

Here’s an entire post from Nafzblog that had been taken down (could be up again by now, who the heck knows?):

Legislatures and congresses are full of conspiracies. Democrats conspire to raise taxes. Republicans conspire to cut social programs. Committee chairs conspire to take credit for things committee members do and conspire to kill their bills. Leadership conspires to control committee chairs and to kill divergent members’ bills in the rules committee. Staff people conspire to leave other staff people out of the loop. Legislative leaders conspire to hold secrets from other members to achieve conspiratorial purposes.

Behind all these conspiracies is a deeply held view that somebody must be in charge and is running the place. Their friends and allies are in the loop and everyone else is left out.

Unfortunately, such command and control management is rare. For better or worse, legislative bodies are highly decentralized. Individual legislators are elected from areas across the state who have different interests, populations, races and industries.

Overlay the fact that a part time legislator has to work at high speed, around the clock to finish the public’s business in a 105 day session.

In the State House, 23 committee chairs run committees and focus on specific areas and aren’t always able to focus on the big picture. Leadership struggles to link the views of all the committees together with all the interests of legislators from varied districts who often have contradictory interests. They must then coordinate their actions with another house, the Senate, and the Governor all who are run by different people with different points of view.

I hope you are getting the picture. In general, for most of the legislative session, legislators are working in the fog. As they labor through the process of studying bills and talking to constituents, they only can barely see the outlines of what is happening in other committees with other bills or with other staff people. Unable to get a clear picture, many of us then imagine conspiracies.

The fact of the matter is Democracy is messy and sometimes unclear. As Winston Churchill said, “Democracy is the worst form of government except for all those others that have been tried.”

Churchill, ever the political philosopher, then said “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.” Which is nice to know, but isn’t my point.

1. With the “Fog of Lawmaking” theory and the divergent views from across the state, it makes sense why writers, bloggers, observers and reporters would lean so heavily on “Olympia” as a metonymic device for “state government.”

2. “Fog of Lawmaking” would actually make a great blog. Take three or four separate policy issues and try to shine a light on them throughout the session. Someone like Nafziger could do it, if he could ever keep all of his posts on his blog (smirk).

3. 105 days isn’t enough time to really govern. The Washington legislature should be closer to full time with closer to fully paid members. Our state is too big to depend on a part time legislature.

FOCA strawman vs. Bread of the World afterthought

Three weeks or so after the FOCA-mania at St. Mikes (with no bill actually having been introduced to congress), I finally see the double standard for political issues at church.

Inside the bulletin, there is a notice for a letter writing campaign from “Bread of the World.” Granted, it was a full page notice with another article a few pages deeper, but this is a far cry from the sermon and postcards being passed down the pew version for FOCA a few weeks back.

I don’t have a problem with politics in church. I think its healthy to be informed how your faith and public policy intersect.

What I have a problem with is the double standard on which we treat political issues in the Catholic Church. If its a “life” issue, we deal with it full-throated. For other issues, you know like feeding the hungry, there’s room in the bulletin, but not on the pulpit or in the pew. And, you want to write a letter? Use your own stamp.

Bread of the world does make it easier than that with this online letter writing tool that I’m going to take advantage of.

Bonus FOCA: Here’s a recent FactCheck.org update on FOCA. Differing views on its impacts. A sort of “Rorschach blot” of policy. Depending on what side of the debate you fall on defines what you see in the intent and impact of the legislation. Makes it even less likely that it would ever get passed.

The sad part about the above update is that it gave me the feeling of homily as email spam. Ugh.

Rich Nafziger pulls his blog down again (gaaaaa! And, puts it back up again))

UPDATE (like literally moments later): No sooner did I write this that he’s up with two new posts. His old archive is still gone though. See below to find that.

Last week, Rich Nafziger (local blogger and senate dem chief of staff at the Big-Greek-Building) wrote a funny blog about the governor (“Hoover Award” Ha!). He first took the post down and then his entire blog. As of right now, if you go to his blog, it will be empty of posts.

Nafziger would have a much better blog if he didn’t pull it down so often. He’s done this before, a couple of times at least. Once (as I remember it) soon after the Olympia School Board began to become interesting and then when he left the school board for his current job.

I shared all of the recent posts from his blog that reached my feed reader, so if you go to my shared items, you can scroll around and find all of them. Aside from the Hoover piece, the rest of his blog is pretty smart and harmless. I’d actually love for more people like Nafziger to take the time and seriously maintain a blog the way he had.

It is sad that he feels the need to pull back from blogging so often. I am going to take the liberty of having saved his posts on my shared items

What should I do with the talking George W. Bush in my office?

I got this for a Christmas present probably over five years ago. It was very funny for awhile, but while cleaning out my office today, I noticed it for the first time in a long time.

Now, I can’t figure out what to do with it? It isn’t really all that funny anymore, so I can’t see keeping it as an office decoration.

Is there some fun way to trash it? Or do I keep it for posterity, like an “I Like Ike” button?

So, what should I do?

Nafziger pulls down Gregoire’s Hoover award

It was a pretty funny post while it lasted, but Rich Nafziger (day job: state senate Democratic chief-o’-staff) took down his post awarding Gov. Chris Gregoire a “Hoover.” It happened soon after the Spokesman Review’s political reporter noted it on his blog.

I guess it makes sense you can have a big shot Dem staffer poking fun at the Dem governor.

You can see the old post here on my shared items, just scroll down a bit, you’ll find it.

Lisa Hayes, bad speller

It is Bob Macleod not Bob however you feel like spelling it (from her press release, via here):

Lisa Hayes is supported by a broad group of citizens including Neil McClanahan, Dean Foster, Dylan Carlson, Bob McCleod, Brad Tower, Susan Bogni, Carmen Hoover, Selena Kilmoyer, and many more.

Which, is I know, a little dumb mistake. But, not so small when you see she worked on Macleod’s campaign two years ago. She should know how to spell the name of a former county commissioner, her most prominent supporter (sorry Dylan) and a former client.

Building roads “intrude(s) on our rights”

Your right not a have a uh…. road?

Having the chair of the county Republicans is going to be interesting, in at least I can try to figure out what these folks are thinking. But, since the new year, R. Scott has been sadly quiet on local issues. He did post up a collection of words that seemed to be his thoughts on the local party he now leads, but other specifics on local issues are lacking. And, yeah, he came out against the Timberland levy lid lift.

Anyway, he posted up on his google links about the local effort to bring together lists of projects for stimulus money and has this comment on a link to the Olympian story:

“Here is our local government with their hand out. Most of the stimulus money will be spent on government projects that intrude on our rights.”

So, how is Yelm building that bypass they’ve been talking about for over ten years an intrusion on your rights?

New kind of dialogue with state government

I’m shaking off the tragic metonymy in his title, but Rich Nafziger makes an interesting point here. Despite the Washington State legislature (not “Olympia” sucka) having one of the most open systems in terms of who gets to talk during a committee meeting (first come, first serve) the system still isn’t perfect:

The fact of the matter that the public hearing process in Olympia could be improved. Citizens are unable to take time off of work to come down make their opinions. Meanwhile, lobbyist earning 7 figure incomes clutter the hearing dockets and roam the halls. This is broken.

Several committees piloted web dialogues in the past couple of sessions. In the online dialogues, committee chairs ask questions relevant to key bills and citizens can register online and comment on the bills and the ideas. The dialogues provide a string of a conversation where both legislators and the public can raise new ideas, ask each other questions and comment on each others’ posts. Unlike newspaper online comments, the tone was always civil and constructive.

In my short experience with the few online forums the legislature sponsored (can’t find the link now), I was impressed. The online committee hearings took place outside of session and covered more general topics instead of actual bills. I guess that’s one reason the conversation, as Rich says, more constructive than a newspaper comment thread.

I’ve been toying around with an idea in my mind, a sort of super public comment tool for state government on down. Each level of government in Washington at some point has a need for public comment. It would be interesting to create a system online where a citizen could create a user profile using their voter registration (or some stand in for folks who aren’t registered) and then see open public comment processes in the jurisdictions they reside in.

So, in my case, I’d see public comment for the city of Olympia, Thurston County, the local PUD and port and the state of Washington.

I’d be able to post comment to any of the open processes and either have it archived for whatever public official will review the comment or immediately accessible to other users so they could comment back on my comment.

Of course, normal rules like not being able to overuse the system (three comments a week, for example), not being rude and not using particular language, would apply.

For this system, the important thing would be to segregate people into public comment processes that they actually are involved in. So, keeping Kitsap residents from commeting on an interesting issue in Renton would be a priority.

The 5 sad things about the Olympia Bulletin

1. He’s paying attention to the right things, but the way he writes about them (not backup to his statements, writing the same post day after day just changing names) makes him look silly. I think the Transportation Benefit District is downright important, especially as it concerns the balance between impact fees and fees to drivers, but he’s making an ass out of the issue with his posts.

2. The blogger “Patrick” is anonymous. If you’re going to say something like what you’re saying, be accountable for it.

3. Your blog is called “Olympia Bulletin.” Do you really need to put a dateline at the front of each of your fake news posts? At best its amateur hour, at worst its like you know better but just don’t care. I mean, could you possibly be talking about councilmember Joe Hyer in Olympia, California?

4. He did a great thing with his blog aggregator, but by skipping over using links in his posts, he ignores the blog conversation around him.

5. Repeating #2. Anonymous blogging, especially when the wheel house of what you’re doing is ripping people down is annoying. I guess I’m ok with it when all you’re doing is attacking George W. Bush or some other distant figure, but when you’re attacking a local person, it makes you no better than “Truther.” Be accountable to your words, come out from behind being anonymous.

I really appreciate local blogging. I really really appreciate it and I’ve praised OB in the past (here and here). I’m just sick of bad, anonymous local blogging too.

Yes, Karen Valenzuela’s appointment by the governor was totally legal

Twitter 1,
constitutional reference book authors/attorney general’s office/county prosecutor 0

Thanks to this, I can safely say that the intent of Amendment 52 (through Senate Joint Resolution 24) to our state’s constitution absolutely gives the governor the authority to appoint a new county commissioner, if the a new one can’t be chosen through the local level.

A twitter angel pointed me to the collection of voters pamphlets on the Secretary of State’s website. And, if you look at the pamphlet from 1968, you find a clear description of SJR 24:

Pages From Voters Pamphlet 1968 Kingco 2007 000806

Nice.

Was Amendment 52 a minor edit? No, I don’t think so. It overturned Munro v. Todd. Either way, the county commission took care of business yesterday.

Was Karen V’s appointment legal?
Trying to explain why Karen Valenzuela was legally appointed

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