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?

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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.

Will Removal of Traffic Signal Endanger Hoquiam Pedestrians? Who’s Responsible?

Most of you know I like to take walks. Barring a bone-crushing downpour or a stroll through the Atacama Desert, walking is my preferred method of transportation pretty much everywhere. Especially in Hoquiam.

Moseying down Emerson Avenue the other day, I was surprised to find that the traffic light located at Emerson and Simpson near Central Elementary School has gone the way of the Dodo. It’s been replaced by a “flashing rectangular beacon system for a crosswalk signal that is activated when the crossing is being utilized.”

You know this type of system? It’s the same deal that exists at the crosswalk near the YMCA and McDonald’s. Better known as: Good luck with that, pal.

I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve stood at the crosswalk near the Y, activated the flashing lights and watched one vehicle after another blow through the crosswalk, oblivious to flashing lights, neon strobes, and the Second Coming.

I can tell you from personal experience that attempting to cross at the Emerson/Simpson intersection is not an endeavor for the faint-hearted. Even on clear, sunny days with good visibility.

So who’s the rocket scientist who came up with replacing a traffic signal light at Simpson and Emerson – a crossing smack dab next to an elementary school – with flashing lights? The answer is: Depends on who you ask.

Well. You know I like to ask questions. I put out some feelers on this one. I was told that the city wasn’t consulted on this stroke of genius. It was a WSDOT decision.

You know I still like to ask questions.

So I made some phone calls. I talked to WSDOT Project Engineer John Romero on July 23.  When I asked what the rationale was behind replacing a functional traffic light with flashing lights, he said that it was done for “pedestrian purposes” and that the signal light was “never really used” during school times because the school has flaggers/crossing guards, etc. He also indicated that the signal light was “at the end of its service life” and needed to be replaced. In talking with the school district, said Romero, the DOT determined that it was “best to go with a more economical option (flashing lights) to lessen the maintenance load.”

“Hopefully the public will get used to it,” he said. “Flashers capture drivers’ attention.”

Do they really?

From a 2016 story, 2 kids hit by cars in past 8 days while walking to school in Federal Way district:

The crosswalk where the boy was hit is marked by stripes on the pavement, numerous signs, even flashing lights. The crosswalk is barely 50 yards outside of the school zone.

I also asked if an opportunity for public input regarding the change was provided prior to making the decision. Romero indicated no, but that “the design team worked with the school district” on the switch.

Excuse me?

Romero said he’d “pass my concerns” on to the Traffic Office “and that intersection will be watched.”

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Regarding the use of flaggers/crossing guards, did it not occur to anyone that pedestrian traffic at that crosswalk is not limited to school hours or week days? Hello?

I also spoke with Hoquiam City Administrator Brian Shay on July 23. He said the city “was not consulted” regarding the switch, and that the traffic signal was removed by the DOT, who apparently has full and final authority on these matters.

Who has full and final authority on pedestrian safety at public crosswalks? Or children attempting that crossing outside of school morning and afternoon hours when crossing guards aren’t on the scene? (Askin’ for a friend.)

Mr. Shay provided an email from Mr. Jeff Young of the Aberdeen Project Engineer Office. The email is dated July 3, 2018. The subject is “C9155 – Emmerson (sic) Ave. Remove existing signal system.” Referencing a July 2 phone message from Shay, Young writes, “yes, the subject signal system was removed as part of this project.” Young continues:

“It was determined during the design phase that there was no vehicle conflict at the intersection Emmerson (sic), Simpson and 3rd Street that required a traffic signal system. The only reason for the traffic signal system was to control traffic for pedestrian crossing. Additionally, the crossing is managed by school crossing guards during school hours per discussions with the Principal. Based on the above, a design was developed by WSDOT Traffic Office to install a flashing rectangular beacon system for a crosswalk signal that is activated when the crosswalk is being utilized, which allowed the existing signal system which was no longer necessary to be removed. Crossing safety was not compromised as a result of this design and the removal of the existing signal system will result in a significant reduction in signal system maintenance.”

What is this, Amateur Night at the Bijou?

Jeff Young Email to Brian Shay 03 Jul 2018

A Few Questions:

  • Who made the determination “that there was no vehicle conflict at the intersection”? When? Based on what?
  • Were those making this decision regular pedestrians?
  • How many have actually attempted this crossing?
  • Do any of them walk anywhere in town on a regular basis?
  • It kinda sounds like safe pedestrian crossings aren’t exactly topping the list of DOT traffic concerns. Why is that?

I walk down Emerson Avenue several times a week. When my kids attended Hoquiam High School, I walked that street coming and going pretty much every school day barring bone-crushing downpours. For 10+ years. So I think I have a fair amount of pedestrian experience here. And lemme tell ya, crossing at Emerson and Simpson even with a functional stop light can be a hazardous endeavor. But replacing a STOP! light with flashing lights? right next to an elementary school?

Seriously?

Additionally, I can also tell you from personal experience that not every vehicle stops at a red signal light at the Emerson/Simpson intersection (or at Emerson and Lincoln, near Humdingers. Or at Simpson and 7th, near the old La Vogue’s. Or at that wretched four-way intersection on Emerson and Adams, near Emerson Elementary. Or at the crosswalk on Riverside Avenue, just before the little bridge. Shall I continue?). But when a signal light is replaced with flashing lights – which are more of a suggestion than an imperative – because “Crossing safety was not compromised as a result of this design”?

When you figure that out, holler. That’s okay. I’ll wait.

Furthermore, how does DOT know this? How did they arrive at this conclusion? Based on what? Can I sell you a beachfront bridge in Barstow?

Car Counting

I decided to conduct an informal survey at the location. On Monday afternoon, July 23, Wonder Dog and I ambled over to Emerson and Simpson. Grabbed a slice of shade near Garfield Street. Sat down. And counted cars in both directions. For about ten minutes. (Okay. I did most of the car counting. Kimber just sat there, doing what she does best: looking adorable.)

Final tally: 176 cars. In both directions. In about 10 minutes. On a Monday afternoon in July.

Noteworthy: While counting cars, a little girl on a razor scooter, maybe age 10 or so, attempted to cross at this intersection. Twice. She made it safely across both times. But note this: On her first attempt, the first two vehicles blew right through the flashing lights after they were activated. It wasn’t until the third vehicle – a black Ford F-150 – that traffic came to a complete stop.

 

Know how many vehicles stopped at the red traffic light at 5th Street, two blocks down? Every. Single. One.

Go figure.

Never fear. Per Mr. Young’s email, WSDOT is on the job in Hoquiam: “The only reason for the traffic signal system was to control traffic for pedestrian crossing.”

Curious choice of words, that. The “only” reason for the traffic signal was to control traffic for pedestrian crossing? That’s not enough?

I also called the Hoquiam School District. I spoke to Mr. Matt Kemph, Facility Maintenance Director for the district. When I said I was told that the decision to remove the traffic light and replace it with the flashing lights system was made in tandem with the school district, Kemph said that is “not correct.” He thought the decision was made by both the city and the DOT, together. “It was done without any communication with the school district at all,” said Kemph.

Kemph said the reason for removing the traffic light was that crossing guards are at the intersection, and that the light wasn’t there for traffic “but for the children crossing the street.” He said the DOT removed the light “because of the maintenance required on that light.”

Referencing safety concerns, Kemph pointed out that the only time crossing guards are at the intersection is for a short time on week day mornings and afternoons when school opens and lets out. This is pretty much what I heard from personnel from all three entities: the City of Hoquiam, the DOT, and the school district.

What about pedestrian traffic the rest of the day? Weekends? Holidays? Summer? Trips to the Bijou? Did those details escape the decision makers on this puppy?

Mr. Kemph forwarded me an email he sent to to Mr. Shay in which Kemph expresses his concerns. It’s dated July 3. The subject is “Traffic Control Light at Emerson and Simpson Avenue.” Writes Kemph:

“Recently the Traffic Control Light located at Emerson Ave and Simpson was removed by I believe WSDOT. This light had been placed for the safe crossing of our students at to (sic) our Central Elementary School and as approximately 70% of our students cross this intersection we are very concerned that the removal of this Traffic Control Light has placed a significant chance that one or more of our students are in harms (sic) way daily as they cross to and form our school. We are wondering what the plan is to ensure the wifely of our students while crossing this main arterial.

Matt Kemph Email to Brian Shay 02 Jul 2018

I’m kinda wondering that, too. Well. Me and Wonder Dog.

Kemph concludes, “We look forward to the future and hope that we can be part of the planning and discussion regarding the traffic control and revisions.”

Look. I don’t care who’s responsible for this stroke of genius. I don’t care who did or didn’t communicate with whom. I don’t even care about Amateur Night at the Bijou. What I do care about is pedestrian safety, specifically for school children and anyone trying to make this crossing in one piece.

Can we kindly get this fixed? Preferably before school starts? Or the next time my good dog and I hazard a walk down Simpson Avenue. Like tomorrow.

Hoquiam Middle School Gets Memorial Day Right

Memorial Day and Veterans Day are frequently confused. They are not the same. Hoquiam Middle School students know the difference. And they’re showing it with a public memorial.

Located at the school entrance, the public memorial is “dedicated to the memory of those who served and protected their country.” It’s bordered by mini American flags in the shape of a U.S. map. The memorial includes markers with names of fallen heroes who died defending our country. Dates range from WWI to the Iraq War.

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Can you imagine the amount of time and effort it took to put this display together? HMS gets it.

While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is set aside to thank and honor all those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. The November holiday largely focuses on thanking living veterans for their service, and underscoring the fact that all who’ve served have sacrificed and done their duty. It is a day for thanks and appreciation.

Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. Although the weekend is often seen as an opportunity to play ball, barbecue, or hit the beach, Memorial Day is indeed “the most solemn” of American holidays.

So fire up that grill. Grab that glove, kite, or second ice cream cone. Take in a concert. Hug your kids. Watch a parade. Welcome summer. When you do, however, be sure to take a few moments to reflect on the high cost that’s been paid to secure your freedom and liberty. While you’re at it, find a veteran and thank him or her for his/her service. Do both with respect.

God bless the Hoquiam Middle Schoolers and those who made this public memorial possible. Makes me proud to live in a town that “gets” it.

Pass the tissue.

 

See more at the HMS Facebook page.

WA Primary Stirs Up ‘Trick Memory,’ Cream Cheese

I have one of those ‘trick memories.’ I can remember a conversation from five years ago word-for-word without breaking a sweat. Or every ingredient on the back of a cereal box. In alphabetical order. Other times I can’t remember what I had for lunch.

Filing week is history. It stirred up that there ‘trick memory’ a la races at the county and U.S. Senate level. Like:

Grays Harbor County Commissioner, District 3.

Incumbent Vickie Raines is running unòpposed for a second term.

Both local parties did the smart thing for once, resisting the temptation to throw challengers into this race whose main qualification is the ability to fog a mirror. Nothing like wasting time, money, and effort running the equivalent of a cart pony against Secretariat.

PCO Filings

Got the list from Scott Turnbull at County Elections yesterday. Looks like Grays Harbor Rs and Ds both fielded a whopping 17 PCO candidates this cycle, with very little new blood.

U.S. Senate

One of these days incumbent Maria Can’twell (that’s not a typo) may get a real job. But don’t count on it.

What makes this race interesting – or amusing, depending on how you look at it – is the field heading into the August primary. I mean, have you seen the filings for this seat? I’m waiting for Rod Serling to show up.

Former WSRP Chair Susan Hutchison filed to run against Can’twell late last Friday, the last day to file. Doubtless Suze will advance to the General. (That ambassadorship appointment didn’t pan out?)

No one needs to be unseated like Can’twell. But Susie Cream Cheese? She’s no Conservative. In fact, SCC is as ‘Establishment’ as they come.

Don’t think so? All you gotta do is remember, among other things, how Cream Cheese Babe treated Cruz delegates at the 2016 RNC convention in Cleveland. Or how this idiot treated Ted Cruz at same.

I do.

We may be stuck with Cream Cheese Babe in November. But Primaries are sweet. Unlike the General, where you’re often stuck with Tweedledee or Tweedledum as options, you can vote your conscience – and your memory – in the Primary.

Which is why I won’t be voting for Cream Cheese Babe in August.

How’s your breakfast cereal?