My 2022 San Francisco ballot

Hello! Since I last posted in 2020, I have taken a job in San Francisco and moved.  This will be my first major election since arriving.  I got here just in time to vote against the Newsom recall and for Matt Haney for Assembly.  But there’s a whole lot more on the ballot in November!

State and Federal Offices

My overall guiding principle is to never ever vote for a Republican again.  Every single one of them either cheered on Trump or said “I can live with this.”  I may be convinced to vote GOP in some unusual circumstance, but that circumstance for sure ain’t happening this election.

  • Governor – Gavin Newsom
  • Lieutenant Governor – Eleni Kounalakis
  • Secretary of State – Shirley N. Weber
  • Controller – Malia M. Cohen
  • Treasurer – Fiona Ma.  Ma has some positions that bother me, but not enough to get me to vote Republican.
  • Attorney General – Rob Bonta. He’s been incredibly pro-housing in the year since I arrived, and I am excited to vote for him.
  • Insurance Commissioner – Ricardo Lara
  • Board of Equalization – Sally J. Lieber
  • U.S. Senator – Alex Padilla
  • U.S. Representative – Nancy Pelosi.  Hell yes I’m voting for Pelosi!  The most effective Speaker of the House in my lifetime, and she’s liberal AF.
  • State Assembly, District 17 – Matt Haney.  Haney is a progressive, pro-housing legislator.  His opponent, David Campos, is anti-housing.  Luckily, Campos is not contesting this election after losing this spring to Haney.

San Francisco Offices

  • Assessor-Recorder – Joaquin Torres
  • District Attorney – John Hamasaki (1st), Joe Alioto Veronese (2nd). My guiding principle here is that street drug use should be treated as a public health issue, not a law enforcement issue.  That means putting social workers on the street, not cops.  I want a D.A. that’s going to get people into treatment, not put them in jail.  We’re not going to jail our way out of a public health issue. Additionally, Hamasaki is the candidate I trust to hold bad cops accountable. Brooke Jenkins fired and demoted the people responsible for prosecuting bad cops.
  • Public Defender – Mano Raju. Nothing makes me want to vote for Raju more than a Supervisor going on a 7 tweet rant about how Raju shouldn’t be doing his job of defending people accused of crimes.
  • Board of Supervisors, District 6 – Honey Mahogany. Mahogany ticks all the boxes of what I like to see in a local elected. She’s got roots in the community, and I don’t mean that she’s lived here a long time.  I mean that she’s part of communities like the Transgender Cultural District. She’s pro-housing, backing efforts to get the Board of Supervisors out of approving individual projects. She’s pro-streets, getting around by foot and transit herself. She backs J.F.K. Promenade. And she has a healthy skepticism of the role of police in dealing with crime.  Like me, she recognizes the need for police, but knows we can’t arrest our way out of street drugs, homelessness, or other crime driven by poverty. Matt Dorsey is also pro-housing, but his SF Recovers plan leads with cops rather than treatment.

State Measures

  • Proposition 1 – State Constitutional Right to Reproduction Freedom. Very much yes.  Republicans are out to take the right away, and post-Dobbs we no longer have the protection of the U.S. Supreme Court.
  • Proposition 26 – Gambling. No. I don’t think we should outlaw gambling, but I don’t think we should have it as a big business in the state either.
  • Proposition 27 – Gambling. No. I don’t think we should outlaw gambling, but I don’t think we should have it as a big business in the state either.
  • Proposition 28 – Arts and Music Funding. Probably no.
  • Proposition 29 – Dialysis Clinic Regulation. No.
  • Proposition 30 – Millionaire Tax for EVs and Wildfire Programs. No. Best as I can tell this is meant to benefit Lyft.  I like EVs over internal combustion vehicles, but the real way out of our climate crisis is to get people out of cars.
  • Proposition 31 – Approve  or Reject Banning Flavored Tobacco Products. Yes.

San Francisco Measures

  • Measure A – COLAs For City Employee Pensions. Yes.
  • Measure B – Eliminate the Department of Sanitation. No. The Department of Sanitation hasn’t even been created yet. Supposedly DPW can handle street cleaning without creating a new department. If DPW can do this, they would be.  My street (500 block of Natoma) has feces & trash left daily. We’re lucky if DPW gets to the entire street once a year.  We haven’t seen a street sweeper since June. The city voted to create a Department of Sanitation 2 years ago, and I see lots of evidence that was the right call.
  • Measure C – Homelessness Oversight Commission. Yes. If only because I want a place I can give public comment of the need for social workers on the street instead of whatever the fuck it is they are doing.
  • Measure D – Streamlining Approval of Affordable Housing. Yes.  Gets rid of discretionary review for some affordable housing projects. Discretionary review is what killed 469 Stevenson.
  • Measure E – Discretionary Review of Affordable Housing. Hell no.
  • Measure F – Library Preservation Fund. Yes.
  • Measure G – Grants to SFUSD. Yes.
  • Measure H – Even Year Elections. Yes. I don’t think this will meaningfully change who gets elected.  Proponents say higher turnout years will better represent the will of the people.  But I suspect people will ignore downballot races about how much they do now, and there’s a good chance that the media covers the races even less if there’s shit to be said about the big races. But I don’t think it hurts either, and ultimately I want votes consolidated so we’re not always having elections.
  • Measure I – Allow Drivers to Kill Pedestrians and Bicyclists.  Big No. Keep cars off JFK. Keep cars off the Great Walkway. Patrons and execs of the DeYoung Museum don’t want to have to pay for parking in the garage. Fuck that.  The garage is convenient. And an accessible parking lot was created just for the museums. Let us have J.F.K.  It’s a goddamn park!
  • Measure J – Approve J.F.K. Promenade for People. Big fucking Yes.  See my No vote on I explanation.
  • Measure L – Public Transportation Funding. Yes. I don’t own a car.  Without L, my ability to get around will take a huge hit.
  • Measure M – Apartment Vacancy Tax. Yes. It’s not going to do much to get more units on the rental market (according to the S.F. Controller, about 1,000 units), but we need every bit we can right now. After it passes, hopefully the Board of Supervisors add single family detached homes to the properties that are taxed under the measure.
  • Measure N – Acquire the Golden Gate Parking Garage. Yes.
  • Measure O – Property Tax for City College. Don’t know enough about this yet.


My 2020 General Election Ballot and Why


Referendum Measure 90

Kids need comprehensive sex education in schools. This makes it part of the curriculum. The main things are that the new law mandates teaching consent, teaching about abuse, teaching about healthy relationships, and include sexuality beyond Christian hetero only-in-marriage sex.

When I was in school, I got none of that. Not from school, not from my parents. Sex and relationships were taboo subjects.

In the mid-00s, I was a mentor for a program at Chief Sealth High School. One of the weeks the program had us separate into sex-segregated groups to talk frankly with the teens about sex. Those of us who were mentors could talk about our experience. The students could talk about theirs, and ask any question they wanted.

One example (details are generic to protect the kids): a young man asked about anal sex and immediately another young man exclaimed “that’s gross!” Almost all sex is kinda gross. That started a conversation about being gay, how not all gay men engage in it, anal sex in hetero relationships, basic facts about anal sex doing it safely. And even we didn’t didn’t get into consent and social pressure.

Another example (also details generic): another young man expressed that he was waiting until marriage and that he wanted a wife who was “pure”. Then we got to get into how it’s just fine to wait until marriage, but also how to respect other people (particularly women) and not slut-shame those who aren’t waiting.

Just a couple of examples. The young men at least had a giant hole of knowledge that comprehensive sex education could have filled. Just starting education on affirmative consent alone could begin a culture change where men don’t learn it’s okay to ply women with alcohol until their guard is down, or think the way to go is to keep pressuring until there’s a grudging acquiescence.

Is this going to solve all our misogyny around sex? Not hardly. But it’s a start.

Even the kids who do what conservative parents tell them and wait until marriage are gonna learn a lot and end up with much more amazing sex lives in their marriages because of this.

Vote Approve. Referendums are a bit weird. Remember that Approve means you want the law to stay on the books. Reject means you don’t want kids to get comprehensive sex education in school.

A buncha advisory votes

I always vote to maintain these. Fuck Tim Eyman.

Engrossed Senate Join Resolution No. 8212

A state constitutional amendment to allow money for long-term care services to be invested more broadly. I’ve voted for similar measures in the past, but this one isn’t a big deal either way.


King County

Charter for Justice Amendment 1

Charter Amendment #1 would:

  • Require an inquest when a death occurs in a King County detention facility.
  • Require an inquest when an action, decision, or possible failure to offer appropriate care by a member of a law enforcement agency might have contributed to a person’s death.
  • Require King County to assign an attorney to represent the victim’s family in the inquest proceeding.

One of the things we learned from previous killings by police is that our inquest process is too limited. Specifically, it’s limited to the killing itself, not to the actions that police take leading up to the killing. An officer, through intentional action or negligence, can create the situation that leads to the death. Our inquest procedure didn’t consider those actions, decisions, or failures to provide appropriate care.

King County Executive Dow Constantine instituted some inquest reforms so they could. Seattle police promptly sued, saying that the wording of the charter allows only considering the circumstances of the death itself. That’s debatable, but rather than leave that up to the courts we can just make the charter clear that an inquest covers everything around a law enforcement involved death.


Charter for Justice Amendment 2

Removes restrictions on the county’s authority to transfer, lease, or sell property if used for affordable housing.

Back in the 1990s, King County merged with Metro, assuming Metro’s transit and wastewater treatment functions. The county also assumed the restrictions on Metro that kept it from doing other non-transit non-treatment government work. It made sense for Metro property to not be used to set up housing because Metro didn’t know how to run housing. As part of a larger entity, that restriction hobbles King County from creating more affordable housing using its property.


Charter for Justice Amendment 3

Replaces the word “citizen” with “public,” “member of the public” or “resident” within the county charter.

The only place where “citizen” should be used is for voting. For everything else, everyone should have the same rights as far as King County is concerned. For instance, charter section 260 establishes an Office of Citizen Complaints. It would become the Office of Public Complaints in the Charter.


Charter for Justice Amendment 4

In 2015, King County voters established the civilian Office of Law Enforcement Oversight (OLEO) to investigate, review, and analyze conduct of county law enforcement. However, at the moment they don’t have access to much of the information they need to conduct investigations. This amendment would give OLEO the power to subpoena witnesses, documents, and other evidence relating to its review and investigations. Any subpoenaed witnesses would have the right to be represented by an attorney.

If you want to know why this is needed, read the article published this morning by the South Seattle Emerald. King County OLEO commissioned an investigation into the Sheriff’s Office investigation of Tommy Le’s killing. For reference, Tommy Le was shot in the back by KCSO deputies who claimed Tommy Le had a knife. Then later they quietly admitted there was no knife. Still they got to investigate themselves, using lots of bad investigation practices. OLEO looked into that.

Sheriff Johanknecht did not allow some of her deputies to be interviewed.

OLEO needs subpoena power.


Charter for Justice Amendment 5

Returns the office of sheriff to an appointed position, to be appointed by the King County Executive and confirmed by the King County Council. Requires community and stakeholder engagement throughout the appointment process.

In the 90s, King County made the Sheriff an elected position. There are a number of good arguments that an appointed position is better. If we have a Sheriff who isn’t doing a good job, they can be replaced more than once every 4 years (recall requires malfeasance). It means that the Sheriff position will be filled through a competitive process, rather than hoping we get a good candidate. It means we can hire an outsider to clean up. It means that deputy union money can’t be used to elect themselves their preferred boss.

It means that the negotiation of the contract with the deputies union will be conducted by the King County Executive rather than the Sheriff, who has in every case but one since the position became elected, previously been a member of the deputies union. That’s a pretty big conflict.

It doesn’t remove all influence of the deputy union, but it does limit it and redirect it so it has to go through the King County Executive.


Charter for Justice Amendment 6

Removes language from the 1996 Republican amendment that prevents alteration of sheriff’s office duties. Gives King County Council the authority to establish the duties and purpose of the Department of Public Safety. Enables King County to explore more effective public safety, rooted in community-based alternatives rather than the traditional criminal legal system.

Right now, if we wanted to take traffic enforcement and move it to another department, we could not do that. If we want to have a mental health response unit, it has to be under the control of the Sheriff currently.

Our King County Council is way more responsive than any of our sheriffs have been in a while. The council holds regular public meetings, for instance, where the public has the right to participate. The Sheriff does not have to hold any public meetings, nor consider any input from the public, when setting policies.


Charter for Justice Amendment 7

Adds the following to the county charter anti-discrimination clause, which applies to county hiring and county contracts:

  • status as a family caregiver. (won’t be able to discriminate against people caring for kids or parents)
  • military status (won’t be able to deny a contract to someone because they need to be deployed)
  • veterans who have been discharged for being gay or trans. (the Trump regime has been discharging trans people again, sometimes dishonorably)


King County Proposition 1

Harborview is great. More of it please



President and Vice President

Get the wanna be dictator out of here.

Joseph Biden and Kamala Harris

US Representative District 7

Pramila Jayapal is a progressive rock star. Craig Keller is a dickweasel who sues to fuck over immigrants. In the 7th, he doesn’t stand a chance.

Be a winner vote Jayapal.



In one corner, we have Jay Inslee, who has done a pretty good job even though he isn’t so great on climate or progressive taxation.

In the other corner, we have a racist, science denying, sex abuse forgiving, law-breaking, neo-fascist Trumpist who wants to kill 2.4 percent of Washington state.

This one is an easy one. Jay Inslee

Lieutenant Governor

Officially there are two contenders, Marko Liias and Denny Heck.

There is also an effort by Joshua Freed to get people to write his name in for Lt. Governor after he got trounced by Republicans for being insufficiently racist or anti-science. Mind you, he’s still an absolute dickbag who promoted unsafe health practices in the face of Covid-19. But let’s talk about Joshua Freed’s corruption. One campaign finance rule is that a candidate can’t give a campaign loan to themselves and repay more than $6,000. Freed loaned his campaign $500,000 in September 2019 (with a loan agreement even). Then he paid himself back $450,000 in January. When that was flagged as against the law, the campaign reclassified the transaction as a $500K donation and a $450K return of a donation. He eventually agreed with the PDC that he’d violated campaign finance law and agreed to pay a $25K penalty, with another $25K to be paid if he violates the law again.

Voting for Joshua Freed is voting for fraud.

Marko Liias is a state senator for the 21st LD, which covers suburban areas from Edmonds to south Everett. Denny Heck is a Congressman from the 10th Congressional district, which covers Tacoma. If you read their web sites, they support a lot of the same things.

The first thing to note is that while Marko Liias has generally supported Sound Transit, he tried to absolutely fuck over the agency this session. There were a lot of complaints last year that the valuation schedule for taxing cars used to pay for Sound Transit was “unfair” to owners of older cars. As the owner of an older car at the time, I didn’t think much of that complaint, but ultimately i didn’t care much if the legislature changed it and funded Sound Transit some other way. Marko Liias was the sponsor of the bill that would have changed the valuation schedule. His bill did not replace the funding that was lost. Luckily, it did not pass.

However, Liias has also been very upfront about how George Floyd’s murder and recent protests have changed his mind about policing. Neither he nor Heck are really supporters of “defund the police”, but Liias does want to redirect funds from overpolicing to community based alternatives. Both support minor police reforms like prohibiting choke holds or purchasing surplus military equipment. Liias says he supports oversight on police union contracts, but his web site does not say to what extent.

Both have been supporters of marijuana legalization. Denny Heck has sponsored bills in Congress to end the prohibition on banking by marijuana businesses.

Marko Liias is gay. Too my knowledge we haven’t yet had a statewide executive officeholder who is gay. One of the bills he sponsored that passed was a ban on conversion therapy.
Marko Liias is 28 years younger than Denny Heck. We do need to start getting the next generation of politicians in office. We need a deep bench of experienced left-ish politicians. Particularly since there is a better than zero chance that Jay Inslee will take a position in the Biden administration, and the Lieutenant Governor will serve a couple of years as acting governor.

At this point, I’m leaning toward Marko Liias. But it’s not a deep commitment.

Secretary of State

Kim Wyman isn’t one of the more horrible Republicans, but she’s still a Republican in the time of Trump. She opposed the Washington Voting Rights Act and she opposed same day voter registration. She opposed King County moving to prepaid ballot envelopes because it wouldn’t be fair to other counties. Wyman opposed HR 1, a bill in Congress that would establish federal standards for elections and ban voter suppression and gerrymandering. She wanted more ID requirements to vote.

Kim Wyman will probably count ballots fairly, She’s been an effective administrator. But she won’t use her position to see that more people can vote and have that vote counted.

Gael Tarleton was elected twice to be Port of Seattle Commissioner, and 4 times to be 36th LD Representative. She has business and electoral experience. She supports improving campaign finance, and importantly, she supports increasing access to voting.

Voting Tarleton.


Duane Davidson is the incumbent. He got the job because in the open primary in 2016 there were 2 Republicans and 3 Democrats split the vote. The 2 Republicans split 48.5% and the 3 Democrats split 51.5%. But because the two GOP candidates only had to split their party’s vote 2 ways, they went through to the general. Where the Trump supporter won.

Mike Pelliciotti’s main issues as a state legislator have been accountability and transparency, and those are what we need in a state treasurer.

Has Duane Davidson done a poor job? Not really. But he has been raking in banking PAC donations, probably in the hopes of the banks that the Treasurer will use their investment services. All Republicans need to be voted out. The party needs to be burned to the ground and the earth salted. Moderate conservatives can start themselves a new party and build it up free from the taint of Donald Trump. All the good Republicans (like Chris Vance) left the party. What’s left are Trump’s bootlickers like Davidson.

Voting Mike Pelliciotti.


This is also an easy one. Pat McCarthy has been a mostly good auditor, and previously was Pierce County Executive. A good auditor is one who is quietly going about their business and preventing problems before they happen.

Chris Leyba has been a police auditor at Seattle Police and King County Sheriff’s Office (though he doesn’t live in either place), positions that don’t require supervision of other people. And if you read his campaign Facebook, it’s typical GOP grievance politics (government waste! masks! liberals!) that don’t inspire any more confidence in his skills. He longs for a state electoral college!

Screencap of Facebook comment reading: I won 32 of 39 counties in the primary. can you imagine if we had an electoral college voting system for statewide offices?

And Pat McCarthy is a Democrat. I’d need a compelling reason to vote for anyone who stayed in the party of Donald Trump. By compelling I mean something like McCarthy butchers teens in a shed at the back of her property.

Voting McCarthy.

Attorney General

Incumbent Bob Ferguson has sued the Trump regime 80 times. In the cases that have been decided, he has 35 victories and 1 loss. 44 cases are still being decided. These cases range from overturning the ban on Muslims to an injunction preventing the Post Office from delaying election mail. He doesn’t argue these cases personally. He hires really good lawyers who know what the hell they are doing. If we want to keep fascist Republican fuckery at bay, Bob Ferguson is our man.

He’s also made sure to go to court on other issues like consumer protection. He’s sued and won against landlords who violated the Covid-19 eviction ban, and ticketing companies that kept money after events were canceled because of Covid-19.

He’s defended a number of initiatives successfully. I’m happy he got I-1639 upheld. Not so happy he was able to defend I-976 in superior court. Luckily he lost at the Supreme COurt. But if you think he’ll shirk his duties because he disagrees with a law, think again.

Matt Larkin has so far lied about his job experience (said he was Spokane prosecutor when he was not), fluffed his experience working as a Pierce County prosecutor, and now thinks that being the in-house lawyer for his own family’s business is enough to qualify him to be Attorney General. The fartnozzle also would fight the governor’s common sense orders to keep Covid-19 from killing even more people than it has.

Voting Ferguson.

Commissioner of Public Lands

In this case (unlike a lot of other statewide races), the GOP candidate Sue Kuehl Pederson actually has the qualifications to be Lands Commissioner. She has an undergrad in biology and a masters of public administration, and worked for Seattle City Light, Grays Harbor PUD, and the Army Corp of Engineers in environmental and resource management roles.

However, she’s a climate science denier and thinks that returning to clear-cutting practices of the 1960s will reduce wildfires. She accuses Hilary Franz of not letting logging companies log. Which is sort of true, but it’s not new with Franz. We log somewhere between 50 and 66 percent of the board-feet that we did in the 1960s and early 1970s, and require things like buffer strips between logging and rivers. Franz was Commissioner only for the last point on the graph below.

Line graph of board feet harvested every year from state lands from 1965 to 2017

Hilary Franz’s position is that climate change is what’s driving the devastating forest fires. Drier lands means harder to control fires. Her department created a Forest Health Strategic Plan with stakeholders to plan for reverse unhealthy forest states and plan for climate change. There’s a lot of other good stuff Franz has done, but Pederson wants to make it about “rebuilding our logging industry” (aka clear-cutting) and I can’t get on board with that. Thing is, I think we’re going to need to rely a lot on mass timber construction in order to fight climate change, but the timber has to be harvested responsibly, not with frenzied abandon.

Hilary Franz:

  • not a climate change denier
  • not a clearcutter
  • not a Republican

Voting Franz

Superintendent of Public Instruction

To be honest, I don’t know a whole hell of a lot about what Chris Reykdal has done as SPI, but I know he’s been catching a lot of flak as a proponent of the recent law (which is also on the ballot as Referendum 90) which mandates comprehensive sex education in schools. I’m a proponent of that law, so more power to him.

Maia Espinoza is a lying liar. One of the first things I did when I looked at her campaign web site was check her executive experience. She’s the Executive Director of the Center for Latino Leadership, which she’s been claiming is a federal 501(c)3 non-profit. But when I looked it up, it turned out it isn’t. Apparently even the state registration was “inactive” until a reporter called her about it. She also claims she has a masters degree, but she hasn’t graduated yet. She’s the second Republican in these races to have lied about their qualifications. And if you need a policy reason to dislike her, she wants to take money way from public schools and give it to charter schools.

Anyway, vote Reykdal and vote approve on referendum 90.

Insurance Commissioner

Mike Kreidler has served 5 terms as insurance commissioner, 1 term as a US Representative, 16 years in the state legislature, is a doctor of optometry, and served in the Army as an optometrist as well as having experience in a number of things not related to health care.

On experience alone, vote for Mike Kreidler. But Mike Kreidler has also been an excellent regulator of insurance in Washington State. He made sure that coronavirus testing is covered by insurance. When the Trump regime remove insurance protections for transgender people from Obamacare, Kreidler sent letter to all health care insurance in Washington reminding them that those protections are part of Washington state law and must be continued. He added a special enrollment period for the pandemic so people without health insurance had another opportunity to sign up. That’s all this year, and I’m not even covering everything.

The following two paragraphs are from Spokesman-Review coverage of the race.

[Chirayu] Patel, who describes himself as an “autistic savant” in campaign literature and interviews, also has some unusual ideas he hopes will win over voters. If elected he’d share the duties of the office with Kreidler and Anthony Welti, the Libertarian candidate eliminated in the primary. He’d apply the principles of organic chemistry, which he studied at the University of Washington, to the insurance industry.

He’d rely on his connections to the minds of Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson – with whom he says he shares a common ancestor in Genghis Khan – to help guide him in office. He said in a recent interview he’d set a new requirement for insurance policies that cover expensive items like rare paintings, upping the premium and requiring that policy holders have a military tank to help protect them.

I honestly don’t know how this dude beat out a reasonably intelligent Libertarian with money in the primary, even as bad as Libertarians are.

Vote Kreidler.

LD 43 Representative Position 1

Leslie Klein is a frequent GOP sacrificial lamb, mostly in the 36th LD. Nicole Macri has been another progressive rock star in the state legislature. She almost got us county-wide funding for low-income housing. She had a remarkable 8 bills pass this biennium and get signed by the governor where she was the primary sponsor. She had a bunch of other bills that didn’t make it like the housing bill, one to loosen zoning restrictions statewide, secure scheduling, and a ton more. Klein isn’t even raising money and won’t be elected. Be a winner and vote Nicole Macri.

LD 43 Representative Position 2

I am pretty fed up with Frank Chopp. His positions are fine, but he spent many years as Speaker of the State House. That job is to make sure the legislation that comes up doesn’t hurt the overall Democratic majority. In other words, if a bill to raise taxes that would fund housing in the 43rd comes up, but it’s tough for a Democrat in Whatcom County to vote for it because the electorate there is more conservative, it’s the Speaker’s job to quash it or water it down or something so that the WC Rep doesn’t have to take a position that gets them voted out.

Chopp stepped down as Speaker a year ago, and I hoped that would unleash him to be a fierce advocate for the 43rd. That didn’t happen. For instance, while he nominally supported Nicole Macri’s bill that would allow King County (and only King County) to raise taxes to fund housing for people experiencing homelessness, he was never quoted in one article about it that I could find. If he was arm-twisting behind the scenes in support, it remained behind the scenes.

Or take funding for public transportation. Ideally, we’d have a graduated income tax and a graduated wealth tax to fund stuff. But we don’t, and when Seattle needed revenue to fund bus service (our Transportation Benefit District, which funds Metro service in Seattle), the legislature only allowed us to use a sales tax and/or a vehicle registration fee. I-976, may it forever burn in hell, fucked that royally. In January, when we didn’t know what would happen with I-976, the legislature did *nothing* to allow us to replace the revenue with another source. Folks like state senator Joe Nguyen worked their butts off to get a capital gains tax (and failed), but Chopp was nowhere to be seen. And the thing is, Chopp stood in front of the 43rd Democrats in January and told us the legislature would not roll over to I-976.

So now if you follow Chopp’s twitter, he’s got a new progressive revenue proposal, he’s all about putting limits on police unions, etc. etc. Where the fuck were you for so damn long?

This isn’t to say Frank Chopp hasn’t done anything ever. He touts getting earmarks for low-income housing, getting Sound Transit to sell off properties to housing orgs, and getting Apple Health funded. And that’s something. He’s done a lot, over the years.

A person who introduced Jessi Murray at a campaign event this spring said: we really need a representative who is going to bring enthusiasm and row like hell. That’s not been Frank Chopp. I’d hoped it would be Jessi Murray, but it was not to be. She came in third in the primary. Loved her platform.

As it is, I also love Sherae Lascelles platform. They’re the person who beat out Murray. Lascelles is a founder of POC Sex Worker Outreach Project and the Green Light Project, both of which do harm reduction efforts in Seattle’s sex worker community. And unlike Frank Chopp’s non-profit work (which is great!), Lascelles work is not what you’d think of as high level executive director stuff. They’re out on the streets in the evening delivering supplies to sex workers and asking them what they need to survive, then trying to help them do just that.

One of the things sex workers needed was hand sanitizer. And when the pandemic hit and supplies of that dried up, Lascelles started Hygiene Hustle, a company that manufactured sanitizer. They both sell it and give it away to people on the street, including both sex workers and rough sleepers. Lascelles comes from a background of mutual aid.
As a Black, queer, non-binary, poor person who works delivering mutual aid to sex workers, Lascelles has a pretty good view to how policing has not helped many people. They’re an advocate for decriminalizing sex work, for instance. Lascelle’s organizations have been part of the Decriminalize Now coalition that, along with King County Equity Now, were the prime drivers of the 3 demands from protests against policing in Seattle this summer: defund the police by 50%, invest the money in community responses, and don’t prosecute protesters. Lascelles wasn’t the only person behind that, but they were a key person.

As a candidate for State Representative, Lascelles supports things like progressive wealth taxation, comprehensive bias training for police, zoning reform, funding public transportation, and more. Importantly, Sherae promises that their platform will be a living document, always being worked on in consultation with the people who are most in need.
Lascelle’s “theory of change” is to use pressure from constituents to drive change in the legislature. By that, they want to leverage on the ground groups to rally support from legislators for bills. Chopp’s methodology is to lean on legislators he helped elect. (That’s from a candidate forum both attended.) I’m less opposed to leveraging relationships in that manner than Lascelles is, but the drawback to backroom deals is there isn’t a lot of accountability involved.

So, despite the fact that I do not match any of the identities that describe Lascelles, nor do I share a socialist ideology, I will be enthusiastically voting for them. They have the experience and a mindset that is sorely needed in the Washington State Legislature.

Voting Sherae Lascelles.

State Supreme Court

Governor Inslee appointed both Raquel Montoya-Lewis and G. Helen Whitener to replace retiring judges within the last couple of years. Montoya-Lewis is Native American, and Whitener is a Black lesbian. And of course, it’s the justices from marginalized backgrounds that drew opponents, both of them conservative white men. The two white justices up for election are unopposed.

David Larson uses the dog whistle “the constitution as written” in his candidate statement. All justices look at the constitution as written. It’s the conservatives ones who use that phrase to signal that they’ll interpret it as enshrining how we looked at people years ago forever, “if the people who wrote it thought we could discriminate, then that’s the interpretation we have to go with!” Screw that.

Richard Serns, as best as I can tell, hasn’t even worked as a lawyer despite graduating law school years ago. Instead, he used his legal training as a school administrator for decades. Which is great! We need people who understand the law working in those positions. But he did that work as an administrator, not as a lawyer. He doesn’t have the experience.

Both G. Helen Whitener and Raquel Montoya-Lewis have oodles of experience as judges at the superior court level and in Montoya-Lewis’ case as chief judge for several tribes. I’m voting for them.

King County Superior Court

Judge Position 13

Andrea Robertson has more experience as a trial lawyer and she has experience as a public defender. Two of the attorneys she worked under are now judges, giving her a leg up in legal mentorship.

Hilary Madsen isn’t a slouch, but she did a stint as a King County Prosecuting Attorney Trial Fellow. She did represent defendants in immigration court, and it’s not like she is a candidate espousing a crack down hard mentality.

However, we need way more judges who came up through the ranks as a public defender than we need those who did time as prosecutors, so I’m voting for Andrea Robertson. But this may be a bad decision.

Judge Position 30

Doug North has been a judge for years and years. But about 5 years ago he said a pretty racist thing from the bench. He got sanctioned and had to go through sensitivity training. He seems like he’s truly sorry for it and has learned something. But… where there’s one bias there’s likely to be others. And there’s no way a week or two of sensitivity training has helped him clear those biases.

Carolyn Ladd is a corporate attorney for Boeing. But she’s a really good attorney and she does a lot of work to advance women in the field. And some less visible things. Former City Council candidate Melissa Hall does clinics for transgender Seattleites to get their documents changed with new names and correct gender descriptors and anything related. Hall relates that Carolyn Ladd came to those clinics time after time to serve as a notary. She saw a co-worker at Boeing have a tough time getting their paperwork fixed and decided she wanted to help make that easier.

Voting Carolyn Ladd.


Proposition 1

In 2015, Seattle voted to create a transportation benefit district funded by a 0.1% sales tax and $60 vehicle license fee. The money has been used to “buy” bus service from Metro for Seattle routes. That expires at the end of the year.

Proposition #1 is the replacement. Just a 0.15% sales tax and no vehicle license fee (due to I-976, even though it’s overturned). The money will fund every 10 minute bus service on core routes like the 70, 49, 7, 3 etc. It may not be quite as frequent as before because there’s less money in this proposition than the previous one. If we want to do something about climate change besides reshare quotes from Greta Thunberg, we need to move to public transportation and fast.

Voting yes for public transportation.

My 2019 General Election Ballot and Why

Here’s how I filled out my ballot and why:

Referendum 88

Back in 1998, Tim Eyman and Ward Connerly ran an initiative, I-200, that banned affirmative action programs. It passed at the ballot box. You may know Tim Eyman’s name as a purveyor of populist but awful initiatives. Ward Connerly did the same in California. So what happens when we ban affirmative action? We get a lot of white guys. The thing is, even when we think we’re judging people on their merits, we have so many conscious and unconscious biases that we still pick white guys. That will change eventually when we have a better cultural base, but it hasn’t happened yet. So we get higher percentages of white guys in whatever we do.

So last year, a group of citizens put together an initiative to the legislature, I-1000. It essentially would overturn I-200. The legislature, seeing the effects of I-200, chose to enact it into law rather than put it on the ballot. And then a bunch of people collected enough signatures to force it to the ballot anyway. Thus we have referendum 88.

An “Approved” vote means you want Washington to allow affirmative action to counter conscious and unconscious bias. That’s what I voted.

Initiative 976

This is another Tim Eyman measure that would cut car tabs. Car tabs are a relatively regressive way to tax. We really need an income tax. However, car tabs are what we got until we are wise enough to have an income tax. And it’s how we fund a lot of road maintenance and improvements in a lot of the state, and transit improvements in our bigger cities. Without car tab fees, that goes away. We’ll have more bridges collapsing because of deferred maintenance. We’ll pull Metro buses off the busiest routes and put those riders back in cars, making traffic worse. And frankly, we need to get the fuck out of our cars soon anyway. This climate change that we all think Trump is a fuckface for ignoring? That’s caused primarily by two things: coal fired power plants and petroleum powered transportation. Seattle has very little of the former. We need to be out of cars by 2050 at the very latest. Car tab fees work as a good disincentive to using cars on one end of the problem, and fund public transportation on the other.

So fuck chair-stealing, money-thieving Tim Eyman. Fuck him right in the ear.

I voted Hell No.

Advisory Votes

As these are all advisory, they don’t really matter. I voted Maintained on every damn one of them.

Senate Joint Resolution 8200

The state government has plans for “continuity of government” in the case of a foreign attack that happens within the state of Washington. If the Russians attack Olympia, it wouldn’t be very practical to pass a law that moves the state capitol to Spokane temporarily. So we have a law that allows the governor to move the capitol in that case. The list of things that the state constitution allows for suspending normal rules in the case of foreign attack are: the seat of government; membership and quorum of the Legislature, and passage of bills; vacancies in state and county offices; and state records.

SJR 8200 adds “catastrophic incident” to “foreign attack” as an additional situation where continuity of government can happen under emergency powers. Major tsunami. Airliner crashing into the capitol building. 7.4 earthquake and no Dwayne Johnson.

I voted Approved.

King County Proposition 1

I like Medic 1 ambulances.

I voted yes.

King County Director of Elections

Julie Wise is the current director of what should be a technical, appointed office rather than elected. We were dumb enough to make this elected a few years ago. Mark Greene is a perennial candidate and is a joke. He’s illustrated his campaign web site with anime-style drawings of young women.

I voted Julie Wise.

King County Countil District 2

Both Larry Gossett and Girmay Zahilay are great people. Larry Gossett was a founder of Seattle’ Black Panther Party in the 60s, but has been on the King County Council since being elected in 1993. He’s smart, pro-social justice, pro-green new deal, and a whole lot more. However, in the few appearances I’ve seen him at tis year, he has been rambly and unfocused. Girmay Zahilay is youngish, a son of Ethopian immigrants, and grew up in South Seattle public housing. He and Larry Gossett agree on a lot. However, Zahilay will probably prioritize income inequality and young people more than Larry Gossett will. He has the fire.

I voted Girmay Zahilay. But I really like Larry Gossett too.

Port of Seattle Commissioner No. 2

I don’t have strong feelings about either candidate, Sam Cho and Grant Degginger. Cho speaks about increasing minority opportunities and has an export business. Degginger is the former mayor of Bellevue and is backed by airlines and the Seattle Times. Most Port Commissioner races are dominated by bland statements about economic growth, improving the environment, and improving the traveling experience at Seatac Airport. However, Sam Cho says the Port of Seattle needs to be active in reducing homelessness because it is a huge landowner and controls the working conditions for a large number of people. That’s a bit different. Degginger may be fine, but having the backing of airlines, an industry that tries to find 100 little ways to extract profit from its customers, is not a huge plus in my view.

I voted Sam Cho.

Port of Seattle Commissioner No. 5

Fred Felleman is a former marine biologist. Since being elected, he’s pushed environmental changes at the Port, and is a supporter of workers. He sat next to me at a couple of meetings and we’ve briefly chatted. My impression from that is he is also a hell of a nice guy and thoughtful to boot. I haven’t even bothered to look of Garth Jacobson, his general election opponent.

I voted Fred Felleman.

Seattle City Council District 4

Shaun Scott is not the person who I voted for in the primary, but he is far and away better than Alex Pedersen, and he’s grown on me since the primary. Pedersen is a real estate banker and former legislative aide to a few politicians, most recently CM and temporary mayor Tim Burgess. Pedersen is running essentially because he hated Rob Johnson, the former District 4 CM. Pedersen had a “neighborhood blog” where he railed against Johnson on both his personal style and his political positions. I like Rob Johnson. So that’s strike 1 against Pedersen.

Pedersen opposes transit projects (both ST3 and Move Seattle). He opposes bike lanes. As noted above, we have to get out of our cars by 2050 at the latest. And lots of cities are showing that pedestrian, transit and bike infrastructure makes for vibrant cities. Have you been to Copenhagen or Amsterdam? Or Stockholm? Bikes and buses and trains everywhere. It’s safe to walk. Seattle is currently reversing a downward trend in serious pedestrian involved crashes, with more people seriously injured in the first half of 2019 than in all of 2018. And if I thought, well, it can’t work in the US, New York just turned 14th Street into a busway a month ago and the results have been amazing. Remaining streets aren’t more congested, and the buses that run along 14th actually move now. Scott supports this sort of thing. Pedersen opposes it. Instead Pedersen thinks we just need to slowly start using more electric cars. I’m not opposed to electric cars, but we’re going to need a whole lot more than that. Strike 2 against Pedersen.

The biggest issue in most of the council races in terms of vitriol and media coverage is housing and homelessness. The simple calculation is that we have more people who want to live and work in Seattle than we have homes. This demand drives up housing prices and causes people to look to the burbs. We don’t have a lot of undeveloped land where we can put detached homes. We need to put more homes on the same amount of land. That means more multi-family housing. It means infill housing, which is things like small apartments, duplexes, triplexes, rowhouses and townhouses. We currently ban that sort of housing from 66% of Seattle land. We’ve blocked housing so much that a lot of census tracts in Seattle have actually seen a decrease in population since the 70s. Aging parents, smaller families, and prices high enough that only the very rich can afford detached family homes have mean that we are losing people in a lot of Seattle. Our population is growing, but it’s being crammed into our urban villages. It makes the urban villages great places to live, but it’s not enough. Paris, a city not known for skyscrapers, fits several million people in a space the size of north Seattle. Infill development means we can become like Paris. Scott supports scrapping the infill development ban. Pedersen supports preserving aging detached single family homes for rich people. Scott also wants to see the city invest in a lot more public housing. Politically, I don’t think we’re at a place where that can be the primary housing policy solution, but I think we need to be pushing that a lot more than we have been. Strike 3 for Pedersen and a huge plus for Scott.

And the last policy consideration is revenue. If you remember, last year the city passed and then quickly repealed a head/payroll tax that would have pulled money from some of our largest businesses. Kshama Sawant characterized it as “Tax Amazon” which I think was a mistake since the people who want to punish Amazon are a distinct (though vocal) minority in Seattle. We need more revenue to pay for transit and housing. We need to make it as progressive as we can within the limitations the state puts on us. It’s going to mean something that impacts business and/or rich people. Amazon, Tim Burgess, and the Seattle Chamber of Commerce are investing heavily in Pedersen to keep that from happening. Hundreds of thousands of dollars in “independent expenditures”. It’s a smart move on their part but I want to see us expand helping the poor and not rich. Scott will take from the rich and give to the poor. Pedersen will take from the poor and give to the rich. Strike 4 against Pedersen.

And in terms of their personal ethics, I have to side strongly in favor of Shaun Scott. Exhibit 1 is that at a candidate forum last month he made a flippant comment about bus routes changing in 1998 because someone drove a bus off the Aurora Bridge. In reality, someone boarded the bus, shot the driver, and it went off the side of the bridge killing several people and injuring a lot of others. I’d just moved back to Seattle at the time and remember this incident as a sad and scary time for bus riders. So I wrote that on Twitter and tagged Shaun Scott. No outrage. Just a reminder that this was a murder. I saw someone else write similar without tagging him but with a lot of personal venom, and I wanted to give Scott an opening that wasn’t coming from a place of personal venom. Here’s how Scott responded: He apologized. In a heartfelt way. I wrote my tweet in the late evening. Scott didn’t just give a small apology and move on. He waited until the next day when more eyes were looking at it and posted then. He’s a decent person who listens to others. Additionally, as I’ve attended and given public comment at city council over the last year, Shaun Scott has been in the audience listening. He’s showed up to Fridays for Future events just to support the students demonstrating. He’s been tirelessly appearing at candidate events, even ones that don’t have many people (I chatted with him at a Welcoming Wallingford picnic where there might have been 25-30 attendees total) or where people are actively hostile to him (e.g., he appeared at a SPOG/Safe Seattle candidate event to say he thinks the current SPOG contract sucks on accountability, which it does). Alex Pederson doesn’t show up if the forum doesn’t seem conducive. He’s skipped transit oriented candidate events. He’s skipped housing related events. Hasn’t even had someone go in his place. When he canvasses a house, if the person says they are pro-transit, then he walks away telling them that he’s not the candidate for them. Pedersen isn’t an asshole, nor is he a Safe Seattle ship the homeless to an island where they can’t get off type, but he is relying on playing to his homeowner base and Chamber of Commerce funded mailers. Scott is doing this with much more grassroots interaction.

I voted Scott.

Seattle School District Position No. 1

I didn’t know enough to feel comfortable voting for either.

Seattle School District Position No. 3

My knowledge of the two candidates is primarily limited to seeing them at the 43rd Democrats endorsement meeting in June. The candidates only had a couple of minutes to pitch, but Muñiz had a focus on racial equity that impressed me.

I voted Muñiz.

Seattle School District Position No. 6

I didn’t know enough to feel comfortable voting for either.

Endorsing Melissa Hall for Seattle City Council

Testing… is this blog on? Oh yes!

There are a lot of candidates in the city council district 6 primary in August. Some are decent, one or two are awful, and one is outstanding. But she doesn’t get a lot of press, and I really want her to get more attention.

If you live in district 6, you should vote for and support Melissa Hall.

She is a pro-housing land use nerd. We need more housing in Seattle. We need more affordable housing, and she supports funding that. Melissa supported allowing ADUs (i.e., mother-in-law basement apartments) without rules like requiring your actual mother-in-law to live there. Seattle’s zoning currently prevents building new triplexes or townhomes on over 65% of Seattle land. This means new building tends to be either McMansions or largish apartments. Melissa supports allowing more “missing middle” housing in Seattle. Seattle has grown about 22% in the last decade but we haven’t added 22% more housing stock. Her resume includes time as a land use attorney for the State of Florida. She will know how to get the details right.

We need transportation infrastructure that is not car-centric, and we need it fast because we have about 2 decades before climate change is irreversible. 62% of Seattle’s carbon emissions come from transportation, and the total amount from transportation is increasing. Mayor Durkan has canceled and delayed a number of transit and bike-related improvements, and Melissa supports taking control, requiring transit and bicycle improvements without mayoral interference. She’s advocating using automated traffic enforcement fines on places like 3rd Avenue (which is a transit-only corridor) to pay for transit improvements.

One of the big reasons I support Melissa is her compassion. When she announced her candidacy, I asked her what changes she’d like to see in the city’s approach for people living on the streets. Obviously, we’d like to house everyone but even in the best case scenario that will take time. In the meantime, she told me:

“I want to be sure our policy doesn’t come from a place of dehumanization and it is made with people in this situation. I think that looks like more safe places to camp and park and getting rid of sweeps.”

Melissa understands that chasing unsheltered people from place to place with draconian sweeps is inhumane and won’t work.

Melissa moved to Seattle with her wife about four years ago because they viewed Seattle as a safer place for a couple like them to raise a family. She’s soft-spoken, so she’s not made for sound-bite, “if it bleeds it leads” local TV, but she’s amazingly smart, thoughtful, and listens to the people who aren’t heard.

Jens Christiansen’s Date of Death

Today I’ve been working on a collateral line, mostly trying to establish what happened to the father of an in-law, Emma Christiansen. In 1910, she appears in a family with Jens and Anna Christiansen as parents in Mason City, Iowa. But in 1920, her parents are Joseph and Anna Lytle. Anna remarried and was living with a second husband. Obviously, something happened to Jens between the 1910 and 1920 censuses.

Someone had helpfully uploaded to Ancestry an image of a page of inscriptions from a family Bible or similar. Here’s the inscription for Jens:

Inscription: Jens Marinus Christiansen Born 1873-1916
Jens Marinus Christiansen Born 1873-1916 (credit: Ancestry member odat12x12 )

Yet, I couldn’t find anything that corroborated that date. Looking on Find a Grave, there was a marker for a J.M. Christiansen in the Elmwood St. Joseph Cemetery in Mason City.

Grave marker with inscription: J. M. Christiansen June 16, 1873 July 4, 1914.
Marker for J. M. Christiansen (credit: GeneGraver on Find A Grave)

But I couldn’t find anything to corroborate that date either!

FamilySearch has an index record for a Jens Christiansan who died on 5 Jul 1915. Unfortunately, I can’t access the image from home and I don’t have the keys to sneak into a FamilySearch center (it’s Christmas Eve folks!), so I’ll have to look at that in a few days. However, I suspect that’s the correct date as I’ve found something to corroborate it.

On 6 Jul 1915, the Mason City Globe-Gazette published an obituary for a James M. Christiansen. Despite the misnaming, I know this is the correct person because later in the obituary the writer lists all his children, including Emma.

Newspaper clipping: Long Illness Comes To End. James M. Christianson Passes Away At Home At 322 North Jefferson After Long Suffering
Long Illness Comes To End. James M. Christianson Passes Away At Home At 322 North Jefferson After Long Suffering

Moral of the story, yet again: Do not take the first piece of evidence you find as proof, even if it seems solid as rock.

Identity of Mary Genevieve Parker

I’ve tried to determine the identity of the inaugural head of the independent Sisters of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Mother General Mary Genevieve Parker, for several years. She appears in a photograph album assembled by my great grandparents on a trip they took to California from Wisconsin in the 1920s. Genevieve Parker’s death certificate listed her parents as James Parker and Ellen Nagel, my great grandmother’s uncle and aunt.

However, census records for James and Ellen Parker’s family from 1860 to 1880 do not list a Mary Genevieve Parker. The daughters in those censuses are Catherine, Mary, Ella, Frances and Theresa. Mary became Mrs. Thomas H. Lyons and died in 1915. Ella became Mrs. John H. Murphy and died in 1959. Theresa became Mrs. Frederick Donnelly and died in 1899. Frances became Mrs. Max von Beyer, but the last record I’d found for her until recently was in a Los Angeles city directory in 1909. It was possible she joined a convent and advanced rapidly. So while I suspected Mary Genevieve Parker was Catherine Parker, I couldn’t rule out Frances Parker.

However, two records recently came to light which helped me figure this out. One of them I’d had in my possession all along.

The first key was that FamilySearch recently added Los Angeles area death certificates to their “California, County Birth and Death Records” collection, and the index includes parents names. So a search for Ellen Nagel had Frances’ death certificate in the search results. She died in 1915 as Frances Parker Hilton, wife of Lewis Lorenzo Hilton. That allowed me to exclude her from consideration as Genevieve Parker, and also lead to me finding a whole host of other records about her: her 1900 US Census record (as Fannie Beyer), Max von Beyer’s death certificate from 1906, her marriage certificate to Lewis Lorenzo Hilton, and crucially her 1910 US census record.

The 1910 US census record was what put the final nail in the identity of Genevieve Parker as Catherine Parker. In 1910, Frances Beyer was enumerated as a teacher at a convent in San Luis Obispo. Several dozen names above hers as the head of the convent was listed Catherine Parker. I’ve had that record for years! assuming it was Genevieve Parker but without any evidence except a hunch. But somehow I’d never read down the complete list of names to see Frances Beyer near the bottom of the page. Her relationship to Genevieve Parker in that column? “Sister”.

1910 US Census page with Catherine Parker and Frances Beyer in San Luis Obispo, California
1910 US Census page with Catherine Parker and Frances Beyer

If only I’d read the entire page much earlier. In any case, it’s found now and I’ve identified all five daughters of James Parker and Ellen Nagle. Still left on my plate are what happened to 2 of the 4 sons and Ellen herself.

Seattle Police and ALPR

Last week I saw a post on Twitter from the Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) announcing a series of meetings by SDOT, the Seattle Fire Department (SFD) and the Seattle Police Department (SPD) seeking public feedback on surveillance technologies already in use by the city agencies. In particular, they were to review the use of automatic license plate reader (ALPR) technology.

Interestingly, SPD did not promote these meetings on either their blog, SPD Blotter, or their Twitter feed. Also, all the meetings started right at 5 pm on weekdays. This is not the outreach of an agency that is really seeking public input. These are the actions of an agency that is going through the motions. The meeting I attended on 29 Oct 2018 had in attendance only three members of the public as well as a few other folks who perhaps were from the ACLU or other organizations. During the “small group discussion” only three of us participated.

The ALPR programs in use by SPD are PIPS (link) and Autovu (link). PIPS is used for automatic reading and storage of license plate data by the SPD Patrol division, as well as a few “boot vans” used by parking enforcement for “booting” vehicles that have 4 or more unpaid tickets. Autovu is used by their parking enforcement vehicles for “digital chalking”.

Briefly, PIPS cameras on patrol cars capture the license plate information, location, and time for as many cars as possible as the patrol cars drive around the city. A hot list is loaded into the system periodically, and if a license plate matches one on the hotlist, the officer is alerted and, after confirming with dispatch, may take action based on the match. All the data on licenses plates that have been read (the “read data”) are additionally “uploaded to a secure server” where trained officers may search for and retrieve data for up to 90 days after it has been captured. After 90 days, the data is to be deleted.

Autovu similarly records license plates, times, and locations. If, on a later drive by the same location, the vehicle is noted by the system to have exceeded the time limitations for parking, the parking enforcement officer is alerted and they may take action, such as ticketing the vehicle. The license plate data, other than what triggered a ticket, is discarded at the end of the day.

I had a number of concerns about the PIPS program, and after asking some questions at the meeting, they are intensified. I have submitted them to SPD for this review, but I wanted to write them out publicly as well. Some of my concerns about PIPS may also apply to Autovu, particularly those regarding the collection of the data, but because it does not retain read data I am less worried about that program. Keep in mind that while I am relatively savvy technically speaking, I am not a security professional nor have I studied ALPR systems in particular. That means that my worries may be somewhat uninformed. Nevertheless…

My first concern is that nowhere in the program description was there any description of their threat models. I asked SPD’s Director of Transparency and Privacy what threat modeling had been done with respect to the ALPR technology and programs, and she did not think any had been done. If an organization hasn’t modeled their threats, we have no idea if we’re protecting against the right things if we’re protecting anything at all. And given the tenor of the meeting, I suspect SPD isn’t protecting against anything at all. The department is focused about 99.8% on the benefits it gives them in chasing down crimes, particularly stolen cars.

Here’s where me not being a security professional is apparent. I do not know how to do any formal threat modeling. But I tried too look at various categories of possibly malevolent actors and review the program description for ways it might be misused. Some of these came from other people at the meeting.

SPD’s use of the system for its intended purposes

This is where the program is used by SPD for finding cars or investigating crimes but through bad policy the system infringes on the liberty of the people. In this category of concern, I asked the SPD representatives if the agency had used a racial equity toolkit (RET) to analyze the impact of the program on marginalized communities in Seattle. They had not yet. Looking at the process outlined in the description, most of the RET is completed after public feedback. Some of the first portions that they have indicated are affected are obviously wrong. For instance, to the question “Which of the following inclusion criteria apply to this technology?” they left unchecked the following:

  • The technology disparately impacts disadvantaged groups.
  • There is a high likelihood that personally identifiable information will be shared with non-City entities that will use the data for a purpose other than providing the City with a contractually agreed-upon service.
  • The technology raises reasonable concerns about impacts to civil liberty, freedom of speech or association, racial equity, or social justice.

To the first unchecked item, SPD simply doesn’t know because they haven’t studied the information. And they later state “An additional potential civil liberties concern is that the SPD would over-surveil vulnerable or historically targeted communities, deploying ALPR to diverse neighborhoods more often than to other areas of the City.”

Additionally, we give heightened protection to political speech. But deploying ALPR cars around protests, rallies, and other such “free speech activities” SPD has the possibility of criminal pretexts being used as fishing expeditions against opponents. SPD would have 90 days to fish through location data. These are just a couple of possibilities that I can think of off the top of my head. The technology obviously has reasonable concerns about impacts to freedom of speech.

Out of policy use by SPD officers

This is where SPD officers use the system for purposes outside what is allowed. Officers are required to undergo training and of course they are all sworn and background checked. The program administrator is supposed to approve all searches of stored read data, and the system automatically logs the officer, the terms searched for, the case number and the purpose for which the search is conducted. The SPD Inspector General (theoretically independent of SPD) can audit the system for misuse, as can the program administrator. When I asked SPD command staff how many instances of misuse of the system had been found during the 10 years the program has been in use, they answered “none to our knowledge”. It is unlikely in the extreme that not one officer has ever misused the system. Possibilities include officers tracking vehicles of girlfriends or rivals, locals that they want to keep tabs on, take bribes or favors to feed read hits to outside people, or simply get fed up with onerous requirements for logging and do things like re-use case numbers. An audit system that has uncovered no instances of misuse is either not recording the right information or is not being conducted thoroughly.

Out of policy use by other agencies

Agencies such as King County, the Washington State Patrol, the FBI or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) do not have direct access to the system. However, they may submit requests for information to SPD which send them responsive data. Such requests and responses are memorialized, but it’s unclear how and whether that is part of the same audit trail. Additionally, SPD did not articulate how they vet such requests, particularly with respect to Seattle’s policy of non-cooperation on immigration enforcement. ICE may be making direct requests for ALPR read data with nominally within policy reasons (e.g., for customs investigations) that are really for deportation reasons. Or they may be routing such requests through other agencies. Or there may be no issue at all. We have no way of knowing. This concern was brought to my attention by another attendee at the meeting.

Misuse of the data by the public

According to SPD, ALPR read data is subject to public records requests. There is nothing to stop me from submitting a request every 90 days for a CD of all ALPR read data, circumventing any protection we have by SPD erasing the data they hold after 90 days. While there may be restrictions on the legal use of such data, once it leaves SPD hands, we’ve lost effective control of it.

Misuse of the data by the vendor

According to the staff present, no security review of the software has ever been performed to make sure the software does what it’s supposed to do by the vendor, Neology. The software is closed source as well. Are there backdoors for support? Are there security vulnerabilities that allow exfiltration of the data?

Misuse of the data by IT

The City of Seattle consolidated almost all IT within a central department. The technical staff are not sworn officers, though they are background checked. According to staff present, as well as some hints in the program description, ALPR read data is stored in a SQL system. Which suggests to me that the data is both unencrypted and can be reviewed outside of the audit system that is used by SPD personnel.

Most of my privacy concerns could be mitigated by a policy of discarding all read data when it does not match a hit list and/or much stronger audit processes. That would not eliminate all concerns however. Additionally, I have some other concerns that I am giving a lower priority and not including here because this is already long and some of them verge on movie-plot threat type of issues.

I hope SPD takes all of these concerns seriously.

Featured image “Street-level Surveillance” created by the Electronic Frontier Foundation and used under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

Ellen Neagle’s family

My third great uncle James B. Parker headed west to California from Wisconsin about 1860. I’ve tracked he and his wife in the census from San Joaquin Township near Sacramento in 1860, to San Buenaventura, Santa Barbara County in 1870, to Compton in 1880. James Parker died in 1895 in Lemon, near Los Angeles.

But at the time he died, his wife was named Harriet. His wife when he left Wisconsin was Ellen. So what happened to her? At this point, I don’t know.

In an effort to find out, today I researched her family. Often times, the obituaries for siblings will mention their family. Or a will will give the status of possible heirs. Or other researchers will have found information that I don’t have.

The Saint Patrick’s parish (Biddulph, Ontario) marriage record for Ellen Neagle gives her date of marriage to James Parker as 8 Jun 1857.

Portion of marriage register for James Parker and Ellen Neagle showing date of marriage as 8 Jun 1857
Saint Patrick’s Marriage register entry for Ellen Neagle

I found an 1851 Canada Census record that matched in nearby Usborne township, Huron County. There Ellen Neagle lived with her father John Neagle, and siblings James, Thomas, Catherine, Mary and John. From that, I was able to quickly find information to establish their marriages, entries in later Canadian censuses, and dates of death. My evidence would in no way be strong enough to satisfy the Genealogical Proof Standard, but I don’t need it to be. I just need clues from their obituaries, wills, other researchers, etc.

This is what I turned up:

Husband: First Names
Born: abt 1798 Ireland
Married: unknown
Died: unknown
Wife: First Names
Born: unknown
Died: unknown


Name Birth Death Spouse
James Nagle 8 Dec 1826
25 Feb 1902
Perth, Ontario, Canada
Thomas Nagle 28 Mar 1828
Cork, Ireland
31 Jan 1905
Perth, Ontario, Canada
Catherine Nagle abt 1832
2 Nov 1902
London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada
Thomas Casey
Mary Nagle abt Sep 1834
17 Nov 1918
London, Middlesex, Ontario, Canada
John Hagarty
Ellen Nagle abt 1836
James Parker
John Nagle abt 1837
12 Nov 1902
Perth, Ontario, Canada

Every single one of them died in Ontario, so I don’t have easy access to obituaries or wills. Additionally, every other public tree on Ancestry (as well as the ones I could find on the web) don’t include Ellen. No one else has a clue either.

The exercise isn’t worthless though. Perhaps someday I will have better access to Canadian records, or other families will post their information, or search for them and stumble cross this post. Over time, I get a fair number of people who contact me about what I post here. So hopefully that will continue with this, and I’ll get some clues as to what happened to Ellen.

The Sisters Solle

One of the things that I want to do with my family history research is tell the stories of my forgotten relatives. One such set of relatives are my first cousins twice removed: Clarabel, Marie, Catherine and Helen Solle.

The Solle sisters are the daughters of my second great uncle Frederick Henry Solle. Fred Solle was an oil and gasoline dealer in Springfield, Illinois and he died young. After his death, his wife Emma Neff Solle took her four daughters and moved to Los Angeles. Clarabel married Fred Adams, who died a few years after their nuptials and they never had children. Marie and Catherine never married and never had children, so far as my research has found. Helen married Floyd Chandler, had one child, and died shortly after that. They also had a brother who died in infancy before their father passed away. Seven people and only one descendant to remember them. For such families, I often wonder what happened to their personal effects, particularly their photos.

While researching this week, I came across photos of Catherine (a.k.a. Kay) and Helen from their time in a Los Angeles area women’s club, the Wilshire Juniors. They appeared four times in the Los Angeles Times in 1½ years. The final one appeared in November of 1937 and is the featured image at the top of this post.

Mrs. Maurice Miller, Miss Kay Solle, Mmes. Ralph Mather, Henry Graef, Clarence Hausser, Miss Helen Solle and Miss Dorothy Berry (in front)
Mrs. Maurice Miller, Miss Kay Solle, Mmes. Ralph Mather, Henry Graef, Clarence Hausser, Miss Helen Solle and Miss Dorothy Berry (in front), from the 28 Apr 1936 Los Angeles Times
Miss Helen Solle, Mrs. Ralph W. Mather, Miss Kay Solle, and Mrs. Henry A. Graef
Miss Helen Solle, Mrs. Ralph W. Mather, Miss Kay Solle, and Mrs. Henry A. Graef, from the 9 Jun 1936 Los Angeles Times
Mrs. Louis Miller, Misses Kay and Helen Solle
Mrs. Louis Miller, Misses Kay and Helen Solle, from the 26 Sep 1936 Los Angeles Times

Now I’ve gotten to tell a bit of the story of two relatives who didn’t have as much chance to pass on their stories as some.