Hella Bus Blog
- Students couldn't get to school.
- Workers couldn't get to work.
- People with disabilities who are unable to drive couldn't get anywhere.
- Car drivers would find themselves sitting in far worse traffic when previous bus riders found themselves driving instead.
- Election Day Registration: Know what's a bummer? Not getting the opportunity to vote. Know how many Americans didn't vote in 2008 because they missed their registration deadline? 6. Effing. Million. (That's about four Idahos). That's why we're pleased as punch about these bills to extend the online voter registration deadline to up to 8 days before the election and registration in person before 5pm on election day. Learn more on Hella Bus.
- Motor Voter 16 and 17 year old Pre-Registration: This bill would allow 16 and 17 year olds to pre-register to vote at the department of licensing. That means, when young Timmy shows up at the DOL to take his driving test, he can also pre-register to vote so when he turns 18 he's good to go. For more, see this attic dwelling philosopher.
- Washington State DREAM Act: Speaking of access to good things, the WA version of the DREAM Act would extend state-based financial aid to young aspiring citizens in Washington to make sure that talented young Washingtonians can pursue their higher education dreams. Yes.
- Increasing Ballot Dropboxes: Did you know that there are only 15 ballot dropboxes in all of King County? That is one dropbox per every 31 Seattle Starbucks locations. I know! Shock! Outrage! Luckily, there are several proposals requiring more ballot dropboxes including requiring ballot receptacles (we don't name these things) on college campuses. The best proposal is still under construction, but stay tuned for more.
- Washington Voter Rights Act: This was that extra wonky bill we've mentioned a bunch recently. The Voting Rights Act will make sure all communities will have a chance to elect the candidate of their choice in local elections. It's awesome. For info, check out wavotingrights.org.
- Voter’s Pamphlet. The pros: It’s sent to my door, both State and County versions are available online, and has everything covered. The cons: It’s lengthy, and allows candidates, initiatives, and ballot measures to describe things in their own words, how can that possibly be objective?
- The Municipal League. The pros: objective grading system of everything from candidates to ballot measures, all available online. Full disclaimer: I have multiple friends on their board, and have volunteered with the candidate evaluation process in the past before I became a citizen, so have some vague familiarity and recollection. Cons: It’s yet another set of information I have to sludge through.
- Blogs and the Media. The pros: Up-to-date coverage with multiple perspectives on multiple platforms that I can read and catch up on my many devices. The cons: As a journalism graduate, I’ve been ingrained with a lot of idealism about objectivity, but we all know that most media outlets have political agendas, and even the most objective ones tend to lean a little to the left or right. Many people pointed me to The Stranger’s Cheat Sheet as a Seattleite and because of my age, though it’s definitely not objective (and, to it's credit, very openly so). Others mentioned The Atlantic, and Publicola which, while certainly not without biases, strive for a more objective and centrist voice.
- Other resources: family, friends, mentors, community members, my Facebook and Twitter feed. Pros: I trust, and have real rapport and relationships with them. Cons: They’re human and come with their own set of biases and beliefs, which may nullify the quest of getting objective informants.
- write about the politics that interest you.
- receive college credit.
- get a fashionable bus shirt.
- become a Mild Internet Celebrity.
- If you need a voters’ guide, try Fuse’s progressive guide at http://progressivevotersguide.com/2012/washington/primary/
- If you misplaced your official voters’ guide, go tohttps://wei.sos.wa.gov/agency/osos/en/Pages/OnlineVotersGuide.aspx
- Read your ENTIRE ballot, front and back, before filling it out.
- USE A BLACK INK PEN TO FILL OUT YOUR BALLOT.
- Remove and recycle the stub at the top of the ballot.
- Sign and date the declaration on the back of the return envelope.
- RETURN your ballot through the mail (using a first class stamp) through the U.S. Postal Service.
- Check with your specific county for different ways to return your ballot.
- You have the option of writing in a name of a candidate. So if you feel that your cat, Mr. Whiskas Jr. can do a better job than the five candidates running, then you have that alternative. Be wise with your vote though!
- Make sure the signature on the ballot envelope MATCHES the signature on file with your voter registration otherwise you’re going to get a ring-a-ling from the Elections office. We don’t want that small hassle now, do we?
- Do not put multiple ballots in one envelope.
Remember two years ago when King County Metro was facing 17% service cuts? People came out in
droves mass transit to testify as to the importance of our beloved transit system. Estimates put between 500 and 1,000 people at the hearings. The rooms were packed, lines extended around the block and testimony that started in the early afternoon extended until 10:30 at night.
Not as crowded as your bus will be if these cuts go through.
I was there in the sweltering room listening to the passionate testimony. Over and over again I heard that with these cuts:
The intense outcry worked in 2011, and the County Council agreed to increase car tab fees by $20. But this was a stop-gap measure to get us through the next two years. It was never intended to be permanent.
Well, we're two years in and stuck in the same situation. Even worse, this time the King County Council isn't able to solve the problems themselves. They need authorization from the Washington State legislature in Olympia to grant the power to tax themselves to save Metro.
Did you get that? Olympia gets to decide whether King County is allowed to pay for the buses they want.
The House Democrats passed a transportation package that would protect King County from these cuts. But the Republican-oriented Senate Majority Coalition led by Sen. Rodney Tom is currently against the package.
Special session kicks off May 13th. Legislators will be focusing on the budget. It is crucial local funding options are addressed during the special session.
If you ride the bus, love buses, or drive on the same roads that feature Metro buses, speak out. You can attend a hearing at the King County Council next Tuesday afternoon.
Or if you, like many transit-dependent people, work from 4-7 on a weekday afternoon, contact your legislators.
If there's one thing we here at the Bus really, really like, it's registered voters. And we should - over the years Bus volunteers have registered thousands upon thousands of young people to vote. Literally.
As young people, there are a lot of things between us and staying registered: we move a lot (once every three years on average) and sometimes we change our names (Marriage Equality anyone?).
The biggest challenge to youth voter participation is not apathy - it's access. Access to a political system that can, and should, meet us where we are.
That's why we're excited about five simple and simply awesome bills that will help make sure everyone can sippeth from the cup of democracy.
Five bills that are cause for legis-elation:
Bus volunteers, interns, and staff are already on the ground making moves to support better democracy. Keep any eye out for updates on the bills above, and news about other fabulous bills that encourage voter participation. Want to get involved? Sign up for one of our weekly phone (pronounced "fun") banks on our events calendar! Wednesday's no good for you? Email Abigail at abigail[at]washingtonbus[dot]org and we'll find a time that works!
Cynthia Miceli of Vancouver did everything right. She worked hard as a nurse for 35 years, settled down and got married, and even started her own business, one of those job creators politicians are always raving about.
"We were going along living our life as middle class people like a lot of people," explains Miceli. "Then there was the downturn in the economy and my husband lost his job so we didn't have insurance for a couple of years."
In 2007 Cynthia's husband Frank was laid off and both lost access to their health insurance. Cynthia continued to run her own business, but was unable to pay insurance premiums on the private market. Then in 2009 Frank started losing weight. His back would hurt him without reason.
"We knew that if we went to the ER it would cost a lot of money and he didn't want to do that," says Miceli. "We were busy living our lives. He was home helping with paperwork since he was unemployed."
Frank's problems got the best of him one day - as he was exiting the bath tub he lost feeling in his legs and fell.
"You can never be prepared for that moment, financially or otherwise," says Cynthia Miceli. "We were thrown into crisis mode."
Frank was paralyzed and needed immediate surgery. Doctors operated on his spine, removing multiple tumors. He underwent chemotherapy.
"He had two 30 day hospitalizations. We couldn't even think. With all of this, the bills go up. We were finally approved for Medicaid and that part worked out - he got disability thank god."
Cynthia is now unemployed, working full time as a caretaker for her husband. Although he receives coverage under current Medicaid guidelines, she is ineligible for coverage and has no health insurance. With cruel irony, she is forced to go without preventative care because she has no way to pay for it. If she were to find a job, her husband would lose his Medicaid eligibility. Even though she falls below the income thresholds, she is unable to receive Medicaid under current guidelines.
But the Washington State Legislature has a chance to help Cynthia and other people in similarly vulnerable positions.
Medicaid Expansion and the Supreme Court
When the Affordable Care Act passed (a.k.a. Obamacare), one of its provisions was a rather drastic expansion of Medicaid to each of the 50 states. Individuals earning up to 138% of the Federal Poverty Level, or less than $16,000 a year, would be eligible for the premium-free program. When the Supreme Court took up the case last summer, they ruled that states had the right to opt out of the Medicaid expansion. This was somewhat of a surprise - opponents of Obamacare believed the individual mandate would be found unconstitutional.
Now individual state legislatures are able to choose whether or not to accept the expansion of Medicaid. Which brings us back to Washington.
"We are looking at providing coverage to over 250,000 more people who have previously fallen through the cracks," says Molly Firth, Director of Public Policy for Community Health Network of Washington. "Right now the programs that we have have very limited enrollment opportunities."
"There will be 80,000 young adults between 19 and 24 who would be eligible for the Medicaid expansion. That's a pretty high number."
The Federal Government will pick up 100% of the price of the Medicaid expansion for the first three years. After that they are set up to pay 90% of the cost of expansion in perpetuity. This expansion alone is estimated to save Washington State around $225 million in the first two years alone. That's $225 million that could make a good down payment towards McCleary.
A 100% federal match is very different from what we pay now," explains Firth. "Right now we get a 50% match. This is a good deal, especially if we can save money at the same time and cover 250,000 more people."
What's the Hold Up?
A recent Elway poll finds that Medicaid Expansion is incredibly popular. A poll of 407 Washington residents found that 67% thought expanding Medicaid would help their communities. That means Washington residents want Medicaid expanded by a 2 to 1 margin.
The House of Representatives is widely expected to pass the Medicaid expansion through their chamber. But it's unclear how the Republican controlled Senate will act. The Washington State Republican Party released their platform last June. In it, they call for "the repeal of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare."
But the Republicans only have a majority because two Democrats, Rodney Tom and Tim Sheldon decided to form the Majority Coalition Caucus. This leaves a fair amount of uncertainty around how this caucus will approach Medicaid Expansion.
"There are a lot of people who are supportive," says Firth. "It's still not a done deal, anything that has to pass the legislature is going to be tricky. We need a bipartisan majority and we can't take it for granted when people are grappling with other issues. All we can help them understand is that it is the clear choice for our state."
Seattle's next mayoral competition is going to have an intense and crowded primary. Mayor Mike McGinn is up for re-election in November, and the list of challengers has been steadily growing.
So far, City Councilmember Tim Burgess, Former City Councilmember Peter Steinbreuck, State Senator Ed Murray (D-Equality Pants), Activist Kate Martin, and Businessman and Bow-Tie-Enthusiast Charlie Staadecker have all announced they will challenge McGinn.
And last Friday Seattle rapper Macklemore told MyNorthwest he too will run.... in 2025.
If Macklemore (Ben Haggerty) were to run this year instead, his odds look pretty good. A 100% official SeattlePI.com poll currently has Macklemore far in the lead with 58% of the vote.
Macklemore's entrance into the race would make him the second rapper competing to be the head of Seattle's Executive Branch. The first?
"Everything I do representative."
With or without Macklemore, it'll be an exciting primary. And the other candidates have plenty of time to bone up on their freestyle skills before Candidate Survivor 2013.
Last month Washington voters passed Initiative 1185, a third Initiative from conservative activist Tim Eyman that imposes a 2/3rds majority requirement to raise any revenue in Washington State.
In 2007, Initiative 960, Eyman's first 2/3rds Initiative passed with 51.24% of the vote. In 2010, after the legislature overturned 960, Eyman's 1053 passed with 63.75% of the vote. Currently 1185 is passing with 63.91% of the vote. Tellingly, none of these bills would have become law if they were subject to the same 2/3rds requirement placed upon the legislature.
In fact, none of the ballot measures on the 2012 ballot would have passed the 2/3rds requirement. No gay marriage (54%), no marijuana (56%), no charter schools (50.69%). Even President Obama didn't manage to pull in 2/3rds of the electorate in deep blue Washington state.
Which is part of why a back in May of this year. Super-majority requirements are in practice unattainable. The State Supreme Court has yet to set a date on when they will decide on the case, but will likely do so before the January legislative session. If they don't, the 2/3rds majority requirement will still be considered unconstitutional when state legislators return to Olympia.
What's At Stake:
Washington State is not paying its bills. After a drawn-out recession, we're simply not raising enough revenue to keep up with a very baseline upkeep. Our state-based revenue system falls disproportionately on the poor and is slow to adapt to changes in market conditions and demographic shifts and trends.
The Washington State Budget and Policy Center finds that state revenue is projected to come in at $4.8 billion less than our current obligations. This includes vital state services plus our state's "new" obligation to fund schools due to the Supreme Court's McCleary decision.
As just one example of many, according to the 2010 census, Washington State spends $9,452 per student each year. Contrast that with Washington DC, which spends $18,667. Do we value our student's education half as much as our country's capital?
Can't Squeeze Blood from a Stone
Washington voters are pretty consistent about their desires to lower taxes. On the same ballot voters approved the 2/3rds requirement, they rejected two non-binding advisory votes to raise revenue by removing a deduction used by large out-of-state banks and delaying the expiration of a current tax on petroleum manufacturers. (Both votes have mere symbolic effect thanks to a prior Eyman Initiative.)
And I'm empathetic. Low-income and middle income Washington residents are feeling the squeeze. (As is my broke ass.) According to a report by the Institute on Taxation & Economic Policy, Washington's poorest residents pay up to 17.3% of their income into state coffers while Washington's richest pay just 2.9%. We live in a very high-tax state if you're poor and a very low-tax state if you're rich.
But there are ways to raise revenue that don't soak the poor. Last session legislators attempted to create a modest tax on capital gains - i.e. the money earned from sales of stocks or property. Capital gains are almost ubiquitous amongst the richest members of Washington State, and rare among low-income and middle-class Washingtonians. The bill that failed to pass last session exempted the first $10,000 in capital gains, resulting in a tax on only the richest 3%.
A capital gains tax would be one of many possible ways to get Washington out of debt. But ideas like this are non-starters while Olympia is shackled by 2/3rds requirements.
Regardless of how we do it, until Washington gets real about paying for the things we value, we'll continue to underfund schools, roads, transit and life-saving services. It's time for the Evergreen State to put its money where its mouth is.
Applications due this Friday! Make all your Bus employment dreams come true:
Bus Fellowship Coordinator - A.K.A. The Great Facilitator
Know how to manage a diverse and energetic group? Great at inspiring others? Then the Bus Fellowship Coordinator might just be the job for you. Check out the formal description and application below.
The Bus Fellowship is a ten-week leadership development, political organizing, and community-building program for 18- to 25-year-olds from across Washington State that runs from mid-June to mid-August. Fellows spend the summer learning state-of-the art campaign management, leadership, grassroots organizing, and public policy formulation.
The Fellowship Coordinator is responsible for facilitating day-to-day group discussions, managing group dynamics, and supervising Senior Fellows. The Coordinator works closely with the Fellows Manager to conduct outreach, shape curriculum, metrics and day-to-day logistics.
To Apply: Send resume and cover letter to jobs [at] washingtonbus [dot] org. All applications must be submitted electronically in pdf format. No phone calls please. References and writing samples should be available upon request. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. If the position is not already filled, the final application deadline is Nov. 30th at 5pm.
Engagement Organizer - A.K.A. The People Person
Want to be the face of the Bus? Work directly with awesome volunteers across the state? Lead ? Then this is the position for you. Formal description below:
The Engagement Organizer is responsible for implementing the Bus’s year-round leadership development and volunteer programs. The Engagement Organizer supports the Engagement Coordinator in meeting monthly and election-long volunteer engagement metrics. This includes developing and implementing engagement strategies, running day to day internship programs, being the face of the Bus at schools, universities, and community events, and managing volunteers.
The Engagement Organizer position is a highly social, highly demanding, and highly rewarding role. This is a full-time, permanent position, which means you’ll be working many evenings and weekends. The Engagement Organizer reports to the Engagement Coordinator and Program Director.
To Apply: Send resume and cover letter to jobs [at] washingtonbus [dot] org. All applications must be submitted electronically in pdf format. No phone calls please. References and writing samples should be available upon request. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis until the position is filled. If the position is not already filled, the final application deadline is Nov. 30th at 5pm.
The Washington Bus is an inclusive organization, fostering and drawing on leadership from communities of color, recent immigrant communities, and emerging young voter demographics.
Last night Washington State did something that has never been done before. By popular vote, Washington citizens voted to approve Marriage Equality and to legalize the recreational use of Marijuana.
Referendum 74 is currently winning by a 3% margin statewide, and Land-of-Dorothy King County is still counting ballots. We'll likely see an even higher win percentage over the coming days and weeks.
Washington is joined by Maryland and Maine, both of which also extended marriage rights to same-sex couples by popular vote. Together these three states marked an historic change, one in which voters approved Marriage Equality with majority votes. Prior to last night, whenever a popular vote was taken, gay marriage lost.
War On Nugs:
Marriage Equality wasn't the only victory for social justice advocates last night. Washington State fully legalized the recreational use of Marijuana. The ACLU's successful initiative put a stop to the state's prohibitionist arrests and prosecutions of an inordinate amount of people of color for a non-violent crime.
Initiative 502 is currently passing with more than a 10 point lead statewide, and across a majority of counties. This isn't an issue passing in metropolitan areas alone - across the state voters have said it's time for a change.
Colorado also passed an amendment legalizing recreational marijuana, while in Oregon a measure attempting to do the same thing failed.
Marijuana is still illegal federally. Whether the Federal government will attempt to impede state law is unknown, although they've so far allowed for the medical use of marijuana (also illegal) as long as dispensaries followed state law.
Think of the Children:
Charter school legislation is currently passing by 3%, a much smaller margin than polls predicted. Populous King County is coming out against the Initiative, while Pierce and Snohomish Counties, also very large, are both coming in for the Initiative. With ballots still being counted, it's hard to predict how this initiative will fair.
"It's very possible the Initiative could be defeated," reports Ben Lawver, an organizer for the No on 1240 campaign. "I'm optimistic."
Initiative 1185, requiring a 2/3rds super-majority to raise any revenue, passed in every single county last night. One need look slightly further down ballot to see the results - both attempts at raising revenue were voted down by voters.
Advisory Vote 1 would have removed a tax deductions for banks. Advisory Vote 2 would have extended a tax on petroleum products. Because neither one could get past a 2/3rds majority hurdle, they were put up to a public vote and subsequently repealed. This is why Washington is failing to fulfill our most paramount duty. Whether or not we find a way to fund our state is up to the Supreme Court now.
Sheryl Gordon McCloud solidly defeated Richard Sanders. Sanders was voted off the court back in 2010 after claiming blacks had a "crime problem" and gays "had more sexual partners". Rather than recognize defeat, he stayed on the court in the equivalent of a volunteer role and attempted to earn his place back by running for another seat. Perhaps this time he'll get the message.
Jay Inslee beat out Rob McKenna with a safe 3 percent margin. As is usually the case, the Democratic Inslee safely pulled in most of the coastal areas, including a whopping 63% in King County, while McKenna performed strongly in Eastern Washington. Inslee likely was boosted by a strong turnout for Obama and Marriage Equality. Of note, so far Obama has received 87,221 more votes than Inslee, meaning some Washington voters split their ticket between Obama and McKenna.
Bill Finkbeiner's (R) progressive endorsements weren't enough to unseat the reigning Lieutenant Governor Brad Owen (D), who has been in the seat for 15 years.
Bob Ferguson (D) defeated Reagan Dunn (R) despite a slew of outside expenditures. The Attorney's General seat receives a lot of attention because in recent years it's been a stepping stone before running for Governor, which worked for Gregoire and not so much for McKenna.
Secretary of State:
Kim Wyman (R) is currently ahead in the race to be Washington's Secretary of State, but with a less than 1% lead in the ballots. Her Democratic challenger, Kathleen Drew earned 61.77% of the ballots in King County, which is still being counted. It would be very easy to see this race change up as late ballots are counted.
Tacoma's Jeannie Darneille beat out her self-funded challenger Jack Connelly by 15 percentage points. Darneille likely benefited heavily from her 12 years in the House representing Tacoma. And maybe a bit from a huge core of volunteers who love her.
Noel Frame looks to have lost her election against Gael Tarleton, despite an impressive ground game. Tarleton currently has a 15 point lead in the race.
Firefighter Bud Sizemore trails traditional burger enthusiast Mark Hargrove by less than 100 votes in the 47th. King County elections has only verified 61% of the ballots they've received within that district. We'll know in the coming days and weeks who comes out ahead in this race.
Cyrus Habib has a strong and commanding lead against his opponent Hank Myers. Beyond being an amazing campaigner, Habib will be the first blind man to serve in the state house. Habib has been an advocate for people with disabilities throughout his life, and will take this stewardship to the legislature.
Marriage Equality advocate Mary Margaret Haugen looks to have lost her race against her Republican opponent Barbara Bailey. Haugen was targeted by conservative groups for her support of Marriage Equality after being the deciding vote back in January.
North Seattle had a few really close races, and former Transportation Choices Coalition director Jessyn Farrell appears to have beat out Sarajane Seigfriedt for the 46th's Position 2 Representative. In Position 1, UW professor and education activist Gerry Pollet beat out Sylvester Cann.
Spokane's urban 3rd district stayed Democratic, re-electing Andy Billig, Marcus Riccelli and Timm Ormsby. It's less urban 4th and 6th districts continue to be held by Republicans. In the 4th Matt Shea beat out Democratic challenger Amy C. Biviano by 13 points. Biviano performed well in what's normally a very conservative area.
The same held true in the 6th, where Dennis Dellwo (D) came close but was unable to beat Jeff Holly (R).
On Mercer Island, Steve Litzow (R) beat out Maureen Judge (D) in the Senator's Race. Litzow was an early supporter of Marriage Equality, and was one of only a few Republicans who voted for the bill.
In the same district, Marcie Maxwell (D) beat Tim Eaves (R) for the contested Representative position.
Election Day is here!
Voting is an individual act of pure power; that’s one of the things I’m learning as a first time voter. It’s like we’re a group of millions of ants, all collectively working together, pulling a giant leaf of citizenship to make it to the top of a political anthill. That anthill is not a candidate being voted into office or a law being passed; the top of that anthill is our collective voter registry, our unified willingness to show up for our country and make the best of this democracy. I feel a greater responsibility now to hold my fellow citizens accountable to step up and utilize their personal power. After completing my last phone call tonight, I feel a deep sense of empowerment that I’d participated in the process. In a small way, I was able to contribute to tangible democracy and make a difference.
So what did I learn in this journey of first-time voting in the past few weeks that I will apply the next time around when I’m going a second-time voter?
This is installment #2 of a new series by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person. Check our part 1 here.
Read & Research
This next step is perhaps the most crucial in the journey of voting and good citizenship: reading and researching about the issues and the candidates.
Since you heard from me last, I survived Hurricane Sandy and the many trains, planes, and automobiles as a part of a LA-NYC-Boston-Detroit-Seattle extravaganza. I’m also in between deadlines for community and professional commitments, and of course, am completely behind on finding that perfect poem to read during the ceremony at my friend’s destination-wedding next week. I get it, we’re busy.
Young people are caught between our balancing ambition, reality, budgetary and time constraints, being there for our family and friends, answering a deep desire to make a difference in shaping our local and global communities, and seeking strategic ways to get into that not-so-secret Macklemore & Ryan Lewis show. How do we fit voting into this equation?
It’s less than a week until Election Day (Nov. 6), and a second Voters’ Pamphlet greeted me when I opened my neglected mailbox after my week away. They call this one, the King County Local Voters’ Pamphlet, apparently it’s different than the State of Washington Voters’ Pamphlet I’d received the week prior. Most of my more experienced-voter friends have already posted humble-brag Facebook photos of their completed ballot, with snapshots of their choice political candidates and ballot measures. With my trip, and the limited time on my hands with all the things I’m balancing, I’m a bit behind. I also don’t want others’ biases to affect my own voting opinion. Voting is a new freedom of mine, as I’d mentioned extensively in my first post, I don’t want to mess it up by being easily influenced. So where do I find unbiased information?
It's a much more nuanced and difficult question than I’d imagined. In order to choose my candidates and be informed about these ballot measures, I have very finite options to get objective information, most people merely scoffed and laughed at me when I’d asked for unbiased voters’ resources:
So what do I do and whom do I trust for my research and information? My approach is going to be a combination of the aforementioned, browsing through the voters’ pamphlets, checking out what the Muni League has to say, paying attention to what’s trending on major local and national media outlets and blogs, and of course, keeping a close ear on the ground and eye on my feed of what my friends and family are saying.
Next post...Show Up & Question.
This post was written by My Tam Nguyen, friend of the Bus and all around awesome person:
Are you a good citizen?
This is a question I’ve been asking myself for the past three months. I was born in Vietnam, a country not known for its democratic process. The first eight years of my life were spent in a fishing village. I did not grow up with running water, running toilets, or electricity, much less a culture of democracy, voting, or civic engagement. I immigrated to the United States in 1992, and 20 years later, I’m finally a citizen.
I currently volunteer in the community and work in community engagement, you’d think that I would know how this political stuff works by now. Somehow my involvement always felt distanced from the foray of power and political play and process. Secretly, I had feared that although I was a green card holder, it could be taken away if I was too politically opinionated or involved. The moment I was sworn in three months ago on July 31, something changed--I gained a sense of duty along with the great privilege of being an American citizen. I am now a voter, can fully participate in the democratic process, and no longer have to operate with the fear of living at the fray.
It is of great relief to gain the freedoms of being an American, and it is also a great obligation to our community and country that I do my due diligence to be an informed voter. I am not taking this responsibility lightly.
This post, will be the beginning of a series on how I navigate this process. I hope that my civic adventures can help shed light on your own experience of voting a complex ballot this year!
...awesome, and everyone's got one!
Super excited about voting but still on the fence for a few down-ticket races? Need some advice?
The following publications have put out some great endorsements. Read up. Need more motivation? Come to a ballot party (or throw your own) and fill one out with friends.
Perhaps the most profane and hilarious endorsements out of the NW.
Repping T-Town since 1883.
Fuse pushes for Progressive Policies throughout Washington, and doesn't always endorse each race (instead providing info on both candidates).
Got a bike? Wish it was slightly safer to use it? The CBC has your back, and seeks out legislators with similar goals in mind.
Providing birth control and medical care for women (and men) throughout Washington State.
A non-partisan group that doesn't endorse but provides in depth info on the candidates.
Representing 38,000 retail workers throughout Washington State, with an eye on which elected officials would do the most for working class citizens.
Another Washington State Union representing Teachers and Service employees.
Like clean air? Seals? Washington's environmental community endorses green candidates.
Policy wonks Josh Feit and Erica Barnett moved their blog to the Seattle Met Magazine. As of now, I only see endorsements in the 36th, 46th, and gubernatorial races, which is a shame since I loved their in-depth candidate analysis in the past. Hopefully more will come.
Seattle's only daily paper since the Post Intelligencer went online-only in 2009. The Times has been in some hot water as of late because of the business department's decision to take out whole page ads on behalf of Rob Mckenna and R-74. So you may want to take it with a grain o' salt.
It's election season, and the Bus wants to put your voice front and center. Want to write about all the happenings between now and November? Attend campaign parties across the state? Design animated kitty gifs? Then the Media and Policy Internship sounds right for you!
As a Media and Policy Intern, you'll get the chance to:
MAP interns will talk to people in the know, analyze policy and campaign promises, run HELLA numbers, and receive more high fives than is probably reasonable.
Media Interns will be expected to submit weekly written content, attend pitch meetings once a week, and kick it at Bus Events. (So many events!)
Please answer the following questions/prompts in a separate document and then e-mail them as a PDF file to mediainternship[at]washingtonbus[dot]org. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis with a final deadline of October 7th.
Describe yourself in no more than two paragraphs. Extra points if you can do the whole thing without using conjunctions.
What name or issue on the ballot are you most excited for this November? Why? How would you get other people just as jazzed up about it?
Who would put on a better improv comedy routine, Joe Biden or Paul Ryan? Because....?
The University of Washington and Washington State University could possibly be in the stock market business once again, this time with funds required to cover their operating expenses. Come this November, if SJR 8223 is approved by Washington voters, the UW and WSU could potentially invest around 25% of the public funds they receive in the stocks and bonds of private companies, associations, or corporations. The goal is to generate returns on those investments that could be used for educational purposes like lowering tuition and increasing financial aid for students who really need it.
This sounds pretty risky, especially since UW and WSU have been historically prohibited from doing this by the state constitution. Schools run year-round and a loss in the stock market has an immediate negative impact. The Washington Investment Board (a.k.a. Money Experts) will have the authority on how and where the public money will be invested. By investing in low risk stocks and bonds, these schools could see an increase in revenue.
Due to the crazy amounts of recession in all of our lives (minus the 1 percenters) it’s easy to see that these universities need another way to make money and this could take the form of “safe” gambling by the Washington State Investment Board. Both UW and WSU are adamantly in support of this measure. During a Public Hearing in February, Margaret Shepherd and Chris Mulick, the respective Directors of State Relations for UW and WSU, both spoke in favor of the bill. They claimed SJR 8223 would provide an alternate avenue of funding beyond tuition and taxes. These types of investment are projected to bring in an extra $10-20 million a year!!! Sounds like a lot of money, huh? Hold your horses hot shot……..
Over the last 3 years, Washington State has cut $5 Billion (that’s right that’s Billion with a capital B) from early learning, K-12, and higher education. More cuts to education were considered, but were thankfully avoided through cuts in other parts of the state budget. So those $10-20 million that SJR 8223 is projected to generate through private investment are drops in the bucket compared to the amount that have already been cut from these universities' budgets.
In 2000, students paid 28% of the cost of education through tuition. In 2013, students will be paying 65% of the cost of education. Universities have hiked tuition due to the meager amount of funding these schools receive from the state. There’s not enough blood in my system to donate to make up for those expenses!
This measure seems like it’d bring in more revenue, but in the end it’s up to the voters to pass. I know that a lot of students currently paying a ridiculous amount of money to go to school and high school students who dream of attending UW and WSU could benefit a bit from this new revenue.
If Washington is really serious about investing in education, the state is going to need more revenue and SJR 8223 might be a way to do this. But state lawmakers who oversee the budget also need to fund higher education and exercise more ways to bring in revenue. Washington’s future prosperity depends on it.
The primary's over, and the election night party haze is evaporating (slowly).
What do we know now that we didn't know a day ago? With only 22% of the votes counted, so far we can discern the following:
Bob Ferguson is likely going to be our Attorney General. Jay Inslee has a nice lead going into the general election. And Steve Gonzalez will remain on the Supreme Court.
Jay Inslee pulled in 46% of the vote statewide, and earned nearly 60% in King County. Rob McKenna received just under 43%. "Conventional wisdom" is that primaries skew conservative, which can't make Republican Rob McKenna feel very good about these results going into the general.
The Attorney General's race is drastically less close, with Bob Ferguson winning with a 14 point margin and in drastically more counties. Reagan Dunn would need Houdini-style magic to make up this gap in the next three months.
Kathleen Drew beat out her other Democratic rivals for Secretary of State with 21%. Republican Kim Wyman pulled in 39% of the vote statewide, and a whopping 48.57% in Pierce county, where she was the auditor. While still close to call, combined the Democrats earned 51% of the vote, giving Drew the edge in this statewide race come November.
Sitting Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez beat out his opponent Bruce O. Danielson with a solid 56%. Of course, Danielson raised absolutely no money and received no endorsements, which begs the question: huh?! Judges are non-partisan, and many counties didn't receive voter's guides, which meant some voters could have been flipping a coin to decide who to vote for. Or as Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Eli Sanders puts it: potential prejudice based solely on Gonzalez's Mexican-American name.
Wonking Out Hardcore Below The Break.
Hey Party People!!
So many of us remember being dragged along to the polling stations and waiting anxiously for our parents to get out of the isolated booth. If you were a lucky one, you were able to go inside and experience democracy as a young tot. I, myself, was a good girl and was able to lick on a lollipop while having my first taste of voting.
However, now it is completely different. Nowadays, Washingtonians vote by mail which in itself is very convenient. People don’t have to actually get up to go to a polling station but can now sprawl their ballot and voters’ guide over the kitchen table to become more informed instead of making a rash, uneducated decision at the outdated stations. Two main things prompted the introduction of mail-in ballots: The polling stations did not stay open to accommodate the late working citizen who wanted to cast their ballot and people simply did not know where to actually vote.
So, Washington voter, including yourself, should have gotten your ballot already. If you haven’t, you definitely need to register or update your registration. (As a side note, you can register at registerinwa.org…I’m tryna help you out here.)
HOW TO VOTE BY MAIL*
Carefully read and follow the instructions on the ballot and in the voters’ pamphlet.
*If by chance your Starbucks spilled all over the table soaking your ballot through or you were trying to be overtly green by recycling and oops there goes your ballot, don’t worry! You can always request a new one by emailing, calling, or visiting your county’s Elections office. I would just advise to not wait till the last day, hour, minute, or even seconds.
P.S.- Just as a side note and a few simple tips to mail-in voting…
Last but not least, MAKE SURE TO RETURN YOUR BALLOT BY AUGUST 7TH.