Is Sears to Retail What Democrats Are to America?

R.I.P. Sears

Sears Holdings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy yesterday, to the surprise of no one. It’s kind of sad. The end of an era.

I got my first job working in the Toy Department of a Sears store in Southern California. I was a sixteen years old. (Remember the Sears Catalog and its Holiday Wishbook?) Those were the days.

But not anymore. Sigh.

Hamstrung by uber mismanagement and a corporate culture that grasped rapid changes in the retail landscape with the alacrity of a three-toed sloth, the once-mighty retail giant has been hemorrhaging red ink for years. So the only surprise related to yesterday’s filing was that it didn’t come sooner. (No, I don’t have any “inside information.” So don’t go there.)

The Aberdeen Sears will remain open for the time being, as it’s one of the corporation’s few stores that’s actually profitable. But how did this happen? Could it have been avoided? And of course the ubiquitous, Now what?

Continue reading “Is Sears to Retail What Democrats Are to America?”

Advertisements

Why ‘Proposal’ to Close GH Libraries STINKS!

The Timberland Regional Library is facing a budget shortfall. (Here’s some background.) So it has proposed *closing* four of eight local libraries within Grays Harbor, including my library. You know. Where I spend half my life.

I practically live at the Hoquiam library. It’s my favorite place in town. So when I heard there was a “proposal” afoot to close this library and others, I was a wee bit miffed.

Naw. Not really. I hit the roof.

I contacted all seven members of the Timberland Regional Board of Trustees saying, among other things, “I can’t believe you’re even considering closing this exceptionally valuable community asset!” I also asked if they are intentionally targeting facilities in economically depressed regions for closure? Cuz it kinda looks that way.

You can weigh in too. Here’s the link for the TRL Board of Trustees and their email. Here’s the screenshot:

I also contacted my elected officials at the local, county and state level. That’s kind of what a “roof” looks like in this context.

And no, I am not gonna go to Aberdeen to pick up my books. Or do anything else library-ish. 98% of my trips to the local library are on foot. Been that way for years. The Hoquiam library is about eight pedestrian minutes away. But making a special trip to that brick-and-mortar monster in Aberdeen? Are you kidding me? And have you ever tried to park there?

Additionally, the way this news was sprung on the community – out of the blue – really stinks. See Proposal to Close Libraries Catches Patrons By Surprise.

I attended an all-day library workshop/seminar at Grays Harbor College in May. There wasn’t a whiff of this in the air. I also attended a recent TRL Board meeting held at the Hoquiam library. Not a word. Hoquiam library staff I spoke with today noted that they just had a staff training day on September 12. Zip. Zero. Nada on this.

What the heck?

So I have some questions. Like:

  • How many members of the TRL Board of Trustees actually live or have lived in Grays Harbor (one, at last count)?
  • Are any of these board members aware of how few free, quality resources are available in this community, libraries being at the top of the heap?
  • What’s the point in spending $1M on renovating the Hoquiam library only to have it on the chopping block later?
  • While Grays Harbor may have more library branches than other counties, does closing half of them – 4 out of 8 – make any real sense? Does it occur to anyone that one of the reasons this county has several library branches is because it’s a rural county, and spread out all over the place? Hello?
  • Is it fair or reasonable to ask/expect a rural, economically depressed county and its residents to bear the brunt of financial issues facing the entire district?
  • What kinds of financial demands are unions making on the TRL budget, and how is that contributing to the shortfall?
  • Are any TRL union “collective bargaining sessions” open to the public?

Also, the Hoquiam Timberland Library is part of the five-county Timberland Regional Library system. It includes 27 libraries in Grays Harbor, Pacific, Lewis, Thurston and Mason counties. How many libraries in bigger, more metropolitan areas are expected to tighten their belts to help close the projected shortfall? By how much? If not, why not? Is a disproportionate amount of the $ burden falling on Grays Harbor? Why?

While ensconced in my favorite Hoquiam library reading cubby hole today, I heard one patron after another voice concern over this “proposal.” People are not happy.

I know, I know. It’s “complicated.” It’s about “sustainability.” Yada, yada, yada. And TRL is looking for input. Here’s mine: Since Hoquiam voted to annex into TRL, how ‘bout we vote to un-annex out of it?

Oh, wait. Facing a huge public backlash, TRL back-pedaled furiously, saying  the closure “proposal” is “…just that, a proposal. It was created for the TRL Facilities Committee to review and evaluate to help shape the future of Timberland Regional Library.”

Fine. Here’s the deal: Hands off my library.

What say you?

Hoquiam Police Department Brings the Thunder!

So. While everyone’s oohing and aahing over the Seattle Police Department’s lip sync video challenge – which I’m not linking to, thank you very much – the Hoquiam Police Department released its own thunder. Betcha can’t watch standing still:

The main soundtrack is from AC/DC’s Thunderstruck. A community effort, the video includes footage from this month’s National Night Out. My favorite clip features Animal Control Officer Tom Taylor and his doggie. I’m just funny that way.

The video premiered at the 7th Street Theatre in Hoquiam this evening. Creative. Clever. Professional. And Too. Much. Fun.

Hoquiam is the first police department in Grays Harbor – and so far the only – local law enforcement entity to rise to the lip sync challenge. Released via the department’s Facebook page following its theatrical premiere, the Hoquiam video has over 10,000 views and over 1,000 shares as of about 9:00 o’clock tonight.

Make it go viral!

Primary Perspective

As my old boss used to say, “Half of life is just showing up.” Early Primary returns indicate that far too many Republican and Independent voters didn’t get that memo as Republican incumbents and challengers in both the 19th and the 24th legislative districts under-performed on election night.

In the 19th, Republican incumbent Jim Walsh struggled in his first re-election bid. He got 48.43% of the vote on election night to Democrat challenger Erin Fraser‘s 51.57% district-wide. Walsh tightened the race but was still behind in Grays Harbor, 49.2% to 50.8%. Douglas Dwightman also trailed U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer:


Incumbent Brian Blake easily out-distanced Republican challenger Joel McEntire, 60.02% to 21.38%. McEntire spent most of the campaign season deployed to Kuwait.

Early results in the 24th were similarly uninspiring for Republicans challenging Democrat Representatives Mike Chapman and Steve Tharinger. Challengers Jodi Wilke and Jim McEntire snagged 38.55%and 40.03% of the vote, respectively. Both Republicans posted better numbers in Grays Harbor. But weak district-wide results are unlikely to draw as much GOP attention or funding as anticipated heading into November.

The Auditor’s race provided a lone bright spot on Tuesday night. Republican challenger Joe MacLean advanced to the General, leading a three-way race with 43.68% of the vote. Whether that’ll stand up in November against Jasmine Dickhoff remains uncertain.

Also in Grays Harbor, only about a third of registered voters bothered to return their ballots. Ballots are still coming in. But these early results are pretty underwhelming.

Meanwhile, what’s up with the “Republican base”? Why did do so many Rs and Is apparently choose to stay home? Will the No Show Trend reverse in November? Can Republicans turn it around?

What say you?

Oops! Local Media Errs in Some County Commission Meeting Reportage

I sometimes attend local events or meetings along with members of the local media. Most of these folks are pretty personable and likeable. Some are even fun. But after reading some local press accounts of a meeting or event I attended in person, I sometimes wonder if these peeps were in the same zip code as I was. Dan Hammock’s July 30 recap of Monday’s County Commission meeting is a case in point.

Here’s the link to Hammock’s story: Commissioners Again Shoot Down Attempt to Open Union Negotiations To The Public as it appeared in the electronic version of The Daily World.

I was especially interested in this paragraph:

“The Freedom Foundation, a non-profit “think tank” that supports transparency in union/government negotiations, supported Cormier’s resolution and argued against the notion that opening union negotiations to the public would not stand up to legal challenges and to those who called the resolution a union-busting tool. He said his organization performed a statewide poll and said the results were overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution, to the tune of 90 percent.”

There are at least three errors or distortions in this one paragraph:

First, saying “his organization” performed a statewide poll is misleading. It’s also inaccurate. In truth, the Freedom Foundation commissioned a non-partisan, “independent public opinion poll in October 2017” on the topic. Also, how come Hammock didn’t identify the speaker as Mr. Matt Hayward, Outreach Director for the Freedom Foundation?

It took me about three mouse clicks to find this info. I’m pretty sure your average middle schooler could do likewise.

Additionally, I spent about three minutes reaching out to Mr. Hayward post-meeting. He kindly supplied additional info. on the poll via email later. He even forwarded a copy of the actual Elway Poll. All I had to do was ask. Hello?

Second, Hayward didn’t say poll results were “overwhelmingly in favor of the resolution,” but in favor of increased transparency per negotiations between government agencies and labor unions. See the diff? For more, see: Washingtonians Overwhelmingly Want Transparency.

Third, Hayward didn’t say poll results were “90 percent” in favor of increased transparency, as erroneously reported by Hammock. The figure Hayward actually cited was about “70 percent.” This was obvious to anyone in the meeting who was paying attention.

Here’s a link to the video: July 30 Commissioner’s Meeting. Mr. Hayward’s comments start at about 20:10 and go to about 22:40.

What’re the odds of a retraction/correction? Yeah. That’s what I think, too.

P.S.: This just in from the Grays Harbor Democrats:

Speaking of the county commissioners, you probably heard that a Republican commissioner placed a motion forward to negotiate publicly with county employees. This was his third attempt. With a room packed with labor, it died a third time for lack of a second. Labor was heard!

Too bad your average taxpayer and non-unionistas weren’t. But they were probably at work.

 

Photo credit

Transparency in Collective Bargaining Reso Dies

 

A transparency in collective bargaining resolution bit the dust at today’s afternoon meeting of the Grays Harbor County Commissioners. Brought forward by Commissioner Wes Cormier, the resolution failed for lack of a second at today’s afternoon meeting.

Today’s reso echoed two prior resolutions to conduct “all collective bargaining contract negotiations in a manner that is open to the public” and “provide public notice of all collective bargaining negotiations in accordance with the Open Public Meetings Act.”

Commissioner Wes Cormier brought forward similar resolutions in April 2015 and January 2017. Both were shot down when fellow commishes didn’t sign on to the proposals. Here’s some back story:

From April 2015: Collective Bargaining, Warts on a Toad, & Secret Agent Decoder Rings.

From January 2017Running for the Tall Grass on Collective Bargaining.

In a July 28 Facebook post on the topic, Commissioner Raines writes, “I want to be very clear — my position on this topic has NOT changed, I continue to support CLOSED union negotiations.” Here’s the screenshot:

During today’s morning meeting, Commissioner Raines expressed surprise and frustration about the resolution being placed on today’s agenda “with no warning or conversation about it within the last year.”

Continue reading “Transparency in Collective Bargaining Reso Dies”

My Primary Picks 2018

Primary season is upon us! I’ll get to my primary picks in a minute. But first, a brief word of explanation regarding this year’s ballot:

  1. If there’s only one horse in a particular race and said “horse” is running under the Big Government Socialist Party of Debt, Dependency & Desperation banner, I leave the bubble blank or go write-in rather than vote for a Dem.
  2. I don’t vote Big Government Socialist 3D Party. Period. But I’m making an exception this year in one race: County Clerk. The negatives surrounding incumbent Janice Louthan could choke a camel. Time for a change. That’s why I’m voting Kym Foster. See her Facebook page here.  (If Foster turns out to be a lemon, we vote her out next election. But it’s time to give Louthan the boot.)
  3. Nice to see Sheriff Rick Scott finally lose the “D” and run as No Party Preference. (Why is sheriff a partisan office?)

 

Here are my ballot picks:

U.S. SENATOR:

Our family was split on this one. Half voted for Art Coday. Half voted for Joey Gibson. Go figure.

Regarding support for Susie Cream Cheese Hutchison in the primary, I have just two words: No. Way. Here’s why (short version): WA Primary Stirs Up ‘Trick Memory,’ Cream Cheese.

U.S. CONGRESS – 6th CD

Douglas Dightman

24th LEGISLATIVE DISTRICT

I’m keeping especially close tabs on these two races. Why in the world would anyone give The Blue Ghost of Grays Harbor – calcified, ivory-towered, unengaged and disconnected incumbent Steve Tharinger – another term to screw up rural western Washington? No thanks!

Jodi Wilke – Pos. 1

Jim McEntire – Pos. 2

GH COUNTY COMMISSIONER, DISTRICT 3

Vickie Raines

GRAYS HARBOR COUNTY AUDITOR

Joe MacLean

EXIT QUESTIONS:

With the exception of MacLean, not a single Republican filed to run for any of the eight county partisan offices on the ballot. Why is that? It appears that filing No Party Preference or Non Partisan is preferable to running under the “R” banner in this county. Why is that again? (I have my opinions on this. What are yours?)

 

 

Looking for a race not listed here? That’s probably because I either don’t live in that district or I don’t care. If you have a candidate you want to recommend, holler. Tell me why you’re supporting him or her and I may add them to my picks.

Ballots are due back on August 7.