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.

Initiative 1433 – Washington State Minimum Wage

Washington state already has one of the higher minimum wages in the Unites States, and our minimum wage is already adjusted for inflation every year. However, that does not mean we have a living wage. Initiative 1433, on the ballot in November, aims to increase wages for the working poor by increasing our minimum wage and instituting a few other worker-friendly protections.

I am sure there are some marginal businesses that this will hurt. If you are making a crappy product that is barely selling, having to pay people better wages may make your business not feasible.

I’d rather protect people who are marginally making it than businesses that are marginally making it. So, unsurprisingly, I am in favor of Initiative 1433.

The things it would do are:

  • Raise the minimum wage:
    Year Projected w/ Current Law New Minimum Wage
    2017 $9.55/hr $11.00/hr
    2018 $9.77/hr $11.50/hr
    2019 $10.02/hr $12.00/hr
    2020 $10.28/hr $13.50/hr
    2021 $10.56/hr $13.86/hr (projected)
  • Require businesses to provide paid sick leave at the rate of 1 hour for every 40 worked.
  • Require 40 hours of accrued sick leave to be rolled over every year.
  • Prohibit employers from requiring employees to find their replacements for sick time taken.
  • Prohibit discrimination against workers who use sick leave.
  • Expand minimum wage law coverage to include some additional caregivers who provide DSHS services.

The proponents of I-1433 claim that the new minimums will increase wages for 730,000 workers, citing the Budget and Policy Center (BPC). I can’t find with a cursory search how they obtained their numbers. In one place, the BPC says that 500,000 workers make less than $12/hour. The financial impact statement prepared for the voters pamphlet makes clear that a fair number of people will be raised out of poverty with I-1433, as it predicts a reduction in caseloads for a number of state programs that benefit the poor. the I-1433 opposition says that 1.13 million people make less than $13.50/hour in the state. That’s a lot of people who will be helped.

One of the big arguments against I-1433, as noted by the Defeat 1433 folks is that the initiative would cost the state $363 million through 2022. What they don’t note in that argument is that those costs are primarily due to a 4 year lag in collecting unemployment insurance premiums. In other words, rates for 2020 are based on what employers pay from 2015-2019. So we’d be paying out unemployment compensation based on the new minimum wage but collecting based on the old minimum wage. As unemployment insurance rate calculation is not affected by this initiative, the legislature could easily remedy that through a simple majority vote. If the legislature doesn’t want to, any shortfall is on them, in my view, not I-1433.

I-1433 also mandates sick leave. Workers at the low end of the wage scale don’t have much of a safety net if they can’t work. This gives them a safety net. The principle reason opposing this, according to the organization advocating defeat, is that it is unclear how much sick leave can be taken in a single year. That argument is based on rolling over 40 hours into a new year plus an additional accrual of 52 hours that year. How is a business to survive if they can’t tell if an employee might take between 0 and 92 hours of sick leave in a one single year??! You might think I’m being facetious with that claim, and you’d be right. A business allocates a certain percentage of money into a reserve account to account for that. That is approximately 5% of full time hours. It’s a fairly narrow range of unpredictability. I think they can adjust to the uncertainty a lot easier than low wage workers can adjust to the lack of income when they are sick.

It’s important to note that opponents of higher wages predicted gloom and doom when Seattle and Seatac raised their minimum wages. Nothing of the sort happened. Maybe the opponents will be correct this time, but it would be a first. And if they are correct, then the legislature can halt or roll back the increases.

A quick look at who is funding the campaigns, because I think that says a lot about who benefits. The Defeat 1433 campaign’s contributions come from the Washington Restaurant Association, the Washington Food Industry Association, and the Washington Retail Association. Their workers would benefit from higher wages. The other campaign is being funded by Nick Hanauer (a local businessman), unions (who might see higher dues from higher minimum wages), and a group called The Fairness Project. I should note that as of the information in the PDC’s database today, the proponents have raised over $3.8 million to the opponents $54,000.

Featured image for this post taken by Elvert Barnes and used under a Creative Common Attribution license.

Initiative 1464 – Washington government accountability act

It looks like there’s going to be a lot on the ballot for the 2016 Washington general election, so I’m going to get started early on reading up on measures and candidates. These posts are not endorsements exactly, though some will end up being just that. Keep in mind that I am a liberal and I am not going into these posts unbiased looking for the ultimate correct answer.

First up, is Initiative 1464 which bills itself as the Washington government accountability act. It’s not really a general government accountability act. It’s a campaign donation accountability act at best.

The headline feature of the initiative is a form of public finance for state legislative and executive campaigns. I don’t hate the program, but I suspect it’s not going to have a transformative effect in Washington politics. The Democracy Credit Program lets each voter in the state make $50 donations to three candidates where the money comes from the program rather than the person’s own pocket. To be eligible to receive these funds, a candidate has to collect 75 small donations from voters within their district.

Reading a summary of Initiative 1464 for the state legislature, it appears that candidates have to forego all contributions besides the 75 qualifying ones. It’s for this reason why I don’t think this will have a transformative effect. Candidates who can collect enough contributions through the current system are going avoid the new program. The Democracy Credit Program is a lot more work, because it requires that candidates spend a lot of time cajoling people to give them one of their three $50 contributions. I think a lot of candidates would rather spend their time convincing people to vote for them. Smaller candidates may well jump on the bandwagon. But from the elections I’ve seen, they have less well thought out and comprehensive platforms, so we’ll be giving money to fringe candidates and not affecting how mainstream candidates fund raise.

The Democracy Credit Program would be funded by revoking the sales tax exemption we give to out of state residents. The appeal is that we publicly fund candidates with other people’s money.

The initiative also has limits on contributions, $100 per candidate for lobbyists and contractors who have business before the agency that the candidate would run. Note that this appears to be $100 total for such donors to these candidates, rather than the current limits which allow donors to start over at $0 after the primary.

What candidates can do with unused campaign funds would be more limited under the initiative. They would no longer be able to pay themselves a salary in excess of the state median income.

It would makes so-called independent expenditures count as candidate donations under a whole host of circumstances. For example, I campaign official could not leave the campaign to run an independent expenditure campaign and have the independent campaign continue to count as independent. So lots more could count against campaign limits.

The initiative would require political committees that advertise to list the top 5 donors while disallowing the committees to hide the ultimate donors’ names behind additional anonymous committees.

A new proscription means that an official cannot lobby their former agency for three years after leaving the agency. There are additional restrictions on lobbying for former state employees as well


The no campaign doesn’t appear to have a working web site. Looking at the PDC web site, they appear to have limited funding that comes primarily from the contractor and food industry. Supposedly they want us to worry about funding state education before we do this, but I don’t see them making any effort there, so I call bullshit on that point.


The Yes on 1464 campaign is generously funded, at just under $2 million as of this writing. One fourth of that comes from Connie Ballmer, wife of Steve Ballmer. That makes me very suspicious. Steve Ballmer funded the committee that opposed a state income tax initiative a few years ago, and he’s generally behaved like a jerk with respect to Washington politics. Connie Ballmer has also generously funded ($500,000) an attempt to defeat Barbara Madsen, the Washington Supreme Court Justice who wrote the opinion that invalidated one of her pet initiatives, publicly funded charter schools in Washington. Makes me think that she thinks Initiative 1464 won’t hurt her chances to get her own way.

Other contributors to the yes campaign do not follow the rules that would be enacted as part of this. Every Voice has contributed $300,000 to the campaign, but not filed any reports with the Washington State PDC. Neither does $100,000 contributor Represent US. Pretty sneaky for a campaign that supposedly is supposed to increase transparency.


I’ll be voting for this, but it’s not a strong endorsement. Given the Supreme Court’s declaration that campaign contributions constitute political speech, I just don’t see any way we can meaningfully reform campaign finance. Rich people will just opt out of any voluntary system. And frankly, if it fails I won’t shed a tear because the people behind the yes campaign appear to believe their proposed rules apply only to other people.

Creative Commons and the National Library of Ireland

Update: It appears the NLI has changed their terms since I posted this. They now license some content with a clean Creative Commons license, and other content with their own license. Oddly, they also claim they have no copyright in the content licensed under their own license. I thought you kinda needed to own the copyright (or some other form of intellectual property) in order to license a work, but I what do I know?


Yet again, I find an organization doesn’t understand the terms of the licenses they purport to use. The latest is the National Library of Ireland (NLI), which released digitized scans of Catholic parish registers this summer. I’m interested in those, because I have Irish Catholic ancestors who appear in them.

On their “about” page, the NLI claims to release the images under the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 license:

The Materials are licensed by the National Library of Ireland (the “Licensor”) under the Creative Commons Non-Commercial Attribution 4.0 International License, as supplemented by these terms and conditions (together, these “Terms”).

But wait, there’s some terms of the Creative Commons licenses they appear not to have read:

No additional restrictions — You may not apply legal terms or technological measures that legally restrict others from doing anything the license permits.

The NLI purports to be able to revoke the license as well:

The Licensor reserves the right to vary these terms and conditions at any time. registers.nli.ie will specify the latest date on which these terms and conditions have been amended.

which is in conflict with the following term of the Creative Commons license they link to:

The licensor cannot revoke these freedoms as long as you follow the license terms.

Those things are in conflict. Now, if the NLI does indeed hold the copyright on those registers, they can release them under whatever license they want. Organizations often release works under two or more licenses. For instance, the GNU Free Documentation License or a Creative Commons Share-Alike License. But making it a combination (e.g., “and” instead of “or”) of licenses, or a Creative Commons License plus additional terms makes it no longer a Creative Commons license. It’s something else. Which brings up a whole host of issues:

First, I don’t think they can call it a Creative Commons license any more. Creative Commons does not allow the use of their trademark on non-Creative Commons licenses.

Modification of CC Licenses: To prevent confusion and maintain consistency, you are not allowed to use CREATIVE COMMONS, CC, the CC Logo, or any other Creative Commons trademarks with modified versions of any of our legal tools or Commons deeds, including modifications that do not modify the legal code directly but that further restrict or condition the rights granted by the particular legal tool. These modifications are often contained in a website’s terms of use, and where they are present you may not suggest that you are offering works under a Creative Commons legal tool.

Second, and most important, I cannot publicly incorporate work released under this mish-mash of a license into anything. Why? Because as someone who doesn’t own the copyright on the original, I can’t say “no additional terms” (as is in the license) and “here are the additional terms”. I violate one part or another. I cannot modify the terms, so I cannot leave out the “no additional terms” part for the “here are the additional terms” part. The NLI can do so (though still violating the trademark policy), but I’m automatically in violation as I do not own the copyright. I also cannot offer a non-revocable license where someone else can revoke the license. That’s just nuts.

There may be a slick way to release a derivative work with this license, but that’s going to require a lawyer. That’s what Creative Commons licenses are supposed to avoid. I certainly can’t do it without violating Creative Common’s trademark rights like the National Library of Ireland did.

Don't Wanna Work Together
Don’t Wanna Work Together

So, to sum up: what a mess! Don’t do this.

Image Don’t Wanna Work Together composed of an image from Wanna Work Together released under a CC Attribution 2.5 license by Creative Commons and the public domain No Sign published on Wikimedia Commons.

Seattle City Council’s tone argument

I’m not delusional enough to think Sawant’s fellow council members are only now realizing they don’t like her, but a switch has flipped—maybe it’s as simple as the fact that it’s an election year—and now they’re willing to air their unhappiness in public.

I for one am glad that the era of false collegiality at the Seattle City Council is over. I think too much of our American culture is based on a false niceness. I want us to be a culture where we can openly disagree, sometimes vehemently, and still work together for the common good. What the rest of the city council members are using is essentially the tone argument: we’d listen to you if only you said things nicely. Not only does Ms. Sawant bring different ideas to the table, she brings a different political process.

And I say that as someone who disagrees with her position on rent control. I’d much rather have a discussion with her over how to make housing affordable in Seattle than with the rest of the council, because she values the issue and policy over being nice. She’s not going to take her ball and go home if she’s not shown deference. Most of the rest of them, I think are too worried about keeping everyone happy instead of solving a problem.

Subject line is a link.

Measles to dead in one day

While researching the Rothacker family this evening (expect a post about this project in a month or two), I found a daughter who died in 1929 of measles, which seemed pertinent to current discussions on vaccination.

Rhodora Rothacker, 2, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph R. Rothacker, ??? Pearson ave, died Saturday evening the first victim of the measles epidemic now raging in the city. Rhodora contracted measles Friday. Pneumonia followed, causing her death. With nine additional measles cases reported this morning, the total number of cases this month in Ames was 205. One mumps case was reported today to bring the month's total to five cases. Today's victims of communicable diseases follows:
Newspaper clipping on the death of Rhodora Rothacker

Measles Takes First Victim

Two-year old child dies Saturday

Rhodora Rothacker, 2, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Ralph R. Rothacker, ??? Pearson ave, died Saturday evening the first victim of the measles epidemic now raging in the city.

Rhodora contracted measles Friday. Pneumonia followed, causing her death. With nine additional measles cases reported this morning, the total number of cases this month in Ames was 205. One mumps case was reported today to bring the month's total to five cases.

Today's victims of communicable diseases follows:

There were 205 cases in one small city in Iowa in one month of 1929! As bad as the current measles outbreak is, we’re doing so much better these days because vaccines are available. Reminds me of stopping at a cemetery in Strasburg North Dakota a couple of years ago, and finding rows of graves for people who had died in the influenza epidemic of 1918. I just did a quick check on the population of Ames. According to Wikipedia *, the population of Ames in 1930 was 10,261, meaning that about 2% of the city’s population had measles!

Also note that Rhodora contracted measles on Friday and was dead the following day, which makes me think of two points:

  1. Measles can kill fast. There may not be enough time to get proper medical attention.
  2. I know a popular meme is that the MMR vaccine is too traumatic for young children to have, so space those vaccines out with an alternative schedule. Measles seems a lot more traumatic than anything a vaccine does. One day!

Seattle Police Department fails the city again

Walking While Black

Compare the Seattle Police Department’s spinning of the William Wingate case from the SPD with the reporting from the Stranger.

  • The officer who made the arrest received counseling from her supervisor, a course of action that the department believes to be an appropriate resolution.

    A talking-to is an appropriate course of action for causing a man to spend the night in jail and theft of his property for months?

  • “I believe that it’s in everyone’s best interest to also highlight the things that go right. That’s what happened here – this one is a win.”

    I fail to see how this is a win compared with the alternate solution of not bothering the man in the first place.

  • Video of the man’s arrest was just released to a media outlet as a result of a public disclosure request. It is being published on the SPD Blotter in the interest of fostering better police transparency.

    Fostering better transparency would be to publicly release information about these incidents when they are resolved, rather than wait until a news outlet is about to publish a story. For instance, about 18 months ago then interim Chief Jim Pugel pro-actively released a very old “training” video where he’d lampooned the homeless. There was no impending story, but Pugel did the right thing.

Seattle Citizen Petition No. 1 – Again With The Monorail

Citizen Petition No. 1 establishes a new city transportation authority to study another monorail proposal.

Disney Monorail Lime at MK Station
Photo by Joe Penniston (CC By-Nc-Nd)

I was all in favor of the previous monorail proposal that got started and then later shot down at the polls due to a concern over how much it would cost. I am not in favor of this. Here are my reasons.

  • We had a shot at a monorail, and this proposal doesn’t bring a new idea to the table. It focuses on West Seattle to Ballard, which is already being studied by Sound Transit, and it doesn’t include other possible corridors.
  • Sound Transit Light Rail is up and running, soI’d rather we focus on expanding light rail to new neighborhoods. Sound Transit itself is an organization with a track record of completing new segments early and under budget, though with a long time frame and large budget.
  • The proposition is the brainchild of Elizabeth Campbell, who has a history of half-baked activism. The organization that put this on the ballot couldn’t get it’s ballot statement submitted on time. Putting them in charge of a new transportation authority is a recipe for failure.
  • The folks at Seattle Transit Blog are public transportation wonks, and Seattle Transit Blog opposes the monorail measure. These are the most extreme pro-transit people with a platform in Seattle, with knowledge to back that up, not some conservative road-happy developers.

Seattle Propositions 1A and 1B – Early Childhood Education

The history of this one is a little convoluted. Labor unions ran an initiative to do a number of things regarding childcare, chief among them raise the childcare worker minimum wage to $15 per hour and require training and certification. They got enough signatures. The city council worked on a universal preschool pilot program. The propositions aren’t exactly one or the other like initiatives 591 and 594 are, but they both concern how to help preschool age children. So the city made it an either-or proposition.

My assumptive goal is to provide children with the resources to be functioning members of society.

So, if either of these measure does that, I’m going to vote yes on part 1. So on to checking both proposals:

Preschool Colors
Photo by Barnaby Wasson (CC By-Nc-Sa)

Proposition 1A

1A does a few things:

  • It sets the minimum wage for child care workers at $15 per hour with a phase-in of three years. The city council passed a $15 minimum wage that can phase in for up to 7 years. I see no reason to make that more complicated. It was a hard negotiated compromise, and I opposed businesses messing with it and I oppose labor messing with it.
  • 1A mandates that the city adopt goals, timelines and milestones to institute a policy that no family pay more than 10% of their income for early education and child care. While that’s a laudable goal, I think a hard limit of 10% is misguided as it doesn’t factor in number of children, their needs, or their families’ circumstances. I think a sliding scale based on family income and adjusted for other factors is a better target. That’s what 1B does.
  • 1A states that violent felons cannot provide child care in a licensed or unlicensed facility. This is perfectly reasonable, though I’d be surprised if the state doesn’t already prohibit violent felons from working in child care facilities.
  • 1A requires the city hire a Provider Organization to facilitate communication between childcare workers and the city. As far as I can tell from the requirements in the initiative, that organization would need to be one of the unions that is sponsoring the measure. I’m all for unionization, but this seems a bit like making the city talk to the union and pay for the privilege.
  • 1A would establish a training institute to be run by the Provider Organization from the last bullet point that would train and certify all childcare workers. Requiring training and licensing seems fine with me, but requiring the program to be run by a union seems a big loss of independence. I’d rather it be run by another organization, or the city itself.
  • 1A creates a Workforce Board to oversee the measure, including the training institute and standards. Half the board is nominated by the mayor, half by the Provider Organization. That seems like too large amount of influence to give to a union.
  • 1A creates a fund to assist small child care providers to meet city standards. That seems like a great idea.

One thing not listed in this is where the funding for it comes from. That isn’t a definitive reason to vote against it in my view, but it does mean I’m gonna look hard at it. The city would have one more priority to work into an existing budget and it’s not like we have a lot of extra money floating around. I’d prefer if we had an explicit ordered priority for our budget so new things like this could be slotted in at some spot in the priority. We don’t, and so the city is going to have to do it, and going to have to cut something or raise taxes for it (and we don’t have much room to raise with current legislative limits). We could raise property taxes similarly to how 1B does it, but will require another vote. I’d much rather it be included in this vote.

All in all, I’m leaning against this, primarily for the reason that it puts too much control into the hands of the industry to regulate and manage itself on the city’s dime. It seems like a way to restrain trade rather than improve education and child care.

Proposition 1B

Proposition 1B creates a four year pilot early learning (i.e., preschool) program with the goal of making it permanent and covering all preschool age children in the city. It will have free or sliding scale tuition based on income. The oversight board includes 12 members of the Families and Education Oversight Committee, which is (I believe) an existing committee that oversees a previous levy. 4 additional members would be part of the oversight board, and they would be Seattle residents with interest and experience with the growth and development of children. Only one of them can be from an organization that receives funding through the measure.

The proposition enacts a property tax that raises $14 million to fund the pilot program. The city won’t need to prioritize other programs out of the budget.

Proposition 1B seems to be a good faith attempt to provide education to young children, which is my goal, rather than provide a large amount of control to a union. I’m all for unions, and even giving them seats at the table. But they should not be in charge, as their interests are with their members, not with children. I don’t think they are opposed to children’s interests, but they aren’t synonymous.

Upshot is, I’ll be voting yes for part 1 of proposition 1, and for 1B for part 2.