Hella Bus Blog
Your place for all things Buslandia!
When people think about Australia, images of stately kangaroos, the Sydney opera house, or Steve Irwin (too soon?) generally come to mind. What doesn't come to mind is a country with one of the highest obesity rates, and highest rates of greenhouse gas emissions per head in the whole world. Fortunately, Prime Minister Julia Gillard is taking steps toward solving one of those problems. Starting next July, Australia's 500 worst polluters will be taxed $23 (in Australian) for every ton of carbon they release. The carbon tax has been projected to cut Australia's carbon emissions by 5% by 2020, the equivalent of removing 45 million cars from the road. The tax should also create $10 billion in revenue, which will go towards a number of initiatives, including energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.
Here in the United State we have no such nationwide carbon tax, and continue to be one of the worlds worst polluters. A few municipalities (Boulder, Colorado was one of the first) have instituted similar taxes on carbon emissions, but a widespread effort to lower carbon emissions and promote renewable energy has not been made in a meaningful way on the state or federal levels. Hopefully, we will soon have more things in common with Australia beyond are weight and rough approximations of the English language.
The Asian Pacific Islander Community Leadership Foundation (ACLF) is hosting a sure to be awesome forum this weekend on strengthening the API community during this nasty recession of ours.
It's going down on Saturday, June 23rd from 10am-12pm at the Asian Counseling and Referral Service
(3639 MLK Jr. Way S.). More info and list of awesome panelists below:
-courtesy of Leah "Footnotes Turn Me On" Menzer
Great moldering Voldermorts friends and fiends, the hallow’d day appraocheth! Either you can pretend you don’t know what I’m talking about, or you are finishing the dragon-whisker hand embroidery of your Dobby*-skin Greatcloak just in time for this glorious night. I’ve personally been brewing up bathtub mandrake tinctures all week to pass out in line so people will stop picking fights with me when I tell them what house I would be in.**
Now the point of all this gibberity-gab is that if you are going to the midnight showing at Cinerama Theatre tonight, the Summer Fellows will be there as well! If a raven with a pledge to vote card starts pecking at your shoe, don’t worry, it just means our polyjuice potions went as planned.
Sick of all these references to books we started reading in third grade? Or maybe you just thought I was making up words. Well, hot damn, there is more in store for you! The sumptuous Summer Fellows will also be taking a Scruff McGruff-sized bite out of (cyber) crime this Sunday.
Oh huh, I mean, Bite of Seattle***. Regale your senses with 60 restaurants worth of tongue-trouncing wares, $9 corndogs, and a free all you-can-eat-buffet of young, supple DEMOCRACY. At the Seattle Center Saturday and Sunday.
Start your jaw exercises now, mortals and muggles, see you there.
* Too soon?/ stop sending me threatening owl messages, SPEW, I’m never going to respond.
** Slytherin 4 life!!!!!!1!!!11
*** Whatever, same thing.
-courtesy of summer fellow Andy "Photographer to the Stars" Montes
For three epic years, Central Washington Progress has been changing the way the Yakima Valley does politics. And for those of you looking around in confusion, the Yakima Valley is located in the heart of Washington and is one of the most fruitful (ha!) apple producing areas in the world.
Along with helping the U.S. Census get a more accurate count of Yakima residents, C.W.P. has helped pass school bonds and is currently leading the fight to change the way that Yakima elects its city council members, which has long disadvantaged Latino members of the community.
Check out what C.W.P. has been up to lately in this fantastic article from the Yakima Herald, and look for a stunning guest appearance from Bus board member E.J. Juarez!
North Dakota may not be a real state. Constitutionally speaking.
Unlike the video I've posted above, this post is something that you wouldn't be uncomfortable talking about with your parents in an adult way. Consider the contrast between these two conversations:
Conversation 1: "Hey, mom, did you know that the Position 1 race is the most contested race for Seattle City Council this year?"
"No, [offspring], I didn't. Wow! You know so much about politics now."
Conversation 2: "Hey, mom, are you familiar with Salt 'n' Peppa's beloved 1991 hit, 'Let's Talk About Sex?'"
"No, [offspring], I'm not. Are you having sex?"
See? Conversation 2 is much more awkward.
Anyhow, it's true, what you just said to your parent about Position 1. That's one thrill-ride of a primary race. But, before we get into that, let's go big picture. Big picture: there are 5 races on the ballot this year. Speaking in large-scale generalizations, Seattleites seem reasonably content (tunnel business aside... but let's just not get into that) with their City Councilmembers. That means most challengers have a tough test to unseat the incumbents. We'll, of course, be pitting them in no-holds-barred matchups on July 27th at Candidate Survivor - but here's a primer.
The focus of this post is the race for Position 1, the seat currently held by multi-term incumbent and long-time public figure Jean Godden. Some Godden critics argue that she's too old and out of touch to be effective in office, which doesn't seem quite fair (doesn't seem much different than knocking someone for being too callow, but whatever), especially since most of her opponents have similar political positions. Anyway, this is what's up with each candidate:
Jean Godden (incumbent): Jean Godden is 79 years old; that's the main reason why the race for her seat is the most competitive local election this year. Before she was elected to the Council in 2004, Godden was a columnist for the P-I and the Times. On the Council, Godden is the Budget Committee chair. According to her campaign website, Godden "restored" funding for "community health clinics, domestic violence programs, and neighborhood programs". Godden supports the tunnel. Godden has chosen to emphasize the fact that she's the only woman running for the seat. She's not too different from her opponents, really, except she's already served time on the Council—and there's the age thing, too.
Maurice Classen: Maurice Classen is a deputy King County prosecutor (he works the domestic violence beat) and part-owner of two bars. Classen supports the tunnel. Classen's main criticism of Godden is that she responds to the mayor's agenda rather generating her own proposals. On his website, Classen spends a lot of time talking about technology. In that section, Classen declares his support for Seattle city government apps for his phone, because apps are cool, right? Classen has a number of public safety proposals, including stronger police performance reviews and changing SPD investigates the use of force by its officers (due to the John T. Williams shooting). He's a legitimate wonk/expert on the subject because of his prosecutorial background.
Bobby Forch: Forch is a longtime employee of various City agencies. This is his second race for Council; last time out, he ran against Mike O'Brien to replace Richard McIver. Forch has a few transportation proposals—he'd like to "[put] a city-wide transportation proposal on the ballot", according to his website, though he doesn't write what the proposal would entail. Forch has made police reform his central issue; it's the only issue on his website with a full plan, but their are many interesting and worthwhile proposals. Still, some have questioned whether Forch has realistic strategies to implement his proposals.
Michael Taylor-Judd: Taylor-Judd is a community activist from West Seattle. T-J ran for the Seattle Monorail Project's board and was elected as President of the supporter group - Friends of the Monorail. T-J is an active member of the 34th District Democrats—he's been elected to leadership positions in the group—but he didn't garner their endorsement for the primary. T-J is definitely the dark horse of the race. He's the only candidate for the seat who opposes the tunnel.*
So that's what's up with the City Council so far. Make sure you hit up Candidate Survivor on July 27 at Neumos—all of your favorite candidates will be there. They might get a little pugnacious.
*This post was edited to note that T-J ran, but was not elected to the Seattle Monorail Project Board and that he does have a campaign staff.
Extra-super-neato interactive map to see how often folks in your county talk to folks in other counties courtesy of MIT. Turns out King County and pretty much all of Montana never talk -
Side question - is this sort of thing what they do all day at MIT?
Now that you’ve saved the date and RSVP’d a resounding YES for the best night of the summer, here’s another date to save:
Tomorrow night is when Seattle’s poetry scene reaches its sizzling pinnacle. Tomorrow night is when you (yes, you!) will be able to see five of the PNW’s filthiest young poets spitting their freshest, most insanely impactful pieces. Tomorrow night is the official send-off party for the Seattle Youth Speaks slam team before they head off to San Francisco to national acclaim.
Culled from a field of 60 other young poets (full disclosure: one of them was me) during Youth Speaks Seattle’s Spring Poetry Slam Series, the valiant five stand ready to face stiff competition at the 2011 Brave New Voices festival. Tomorrow night, starting at 7:00pm, they will perform their poems one last time on home turf.
You can RSVP here, and for those who are going the Google+ route and don’t have a Facebook:
Seattle Youth Speaks
Thursday, July 14th
Piecora's Pizza Back Room - 1401 E. Madison St. (across from Chop Suey)
Suggested $5 donation and all ages
Every summer we see an onslaught of music festivals in the Northwest. They pop up out of the woodwork to grace our ears with buzz bands, jam bands, and of course silly bands (guess which one of those doesn't belong). Residents of the Northwest, from Squamish, BC to Portland, OR, have the opportunity to see artists from across the musical spectrum perform their work at world class venues. I watched the summer kick off at The Gorge over Memorial Day at Sasquatch, but that was only the first of dozens of festivals worth checking out. From Emrg+N+See, the experimental electronic music/art exhibition (live graffiti!), to Summer Meltdown, the local jam band oriented festival in the foothills of the Cascades, there is sure to be a festival that fits your musical tastes. Here is a far from comprehensive list of some of the summers best festivals, and who you should be sure to see if you are lucky enough to make it out to them.
Headliners: Tipper, Lunice, Daedelus
Who You Should See: Besides the headliners, Dillon Francis, NiT GriT, Janover
Headliners: TV On The Radio, Explosions In The Sky, Ghostland Observatory
Who You Should See: Baths, Fresh Espresso, Handsome Furs, Kung Foo Grip, Brothers From Another, Beat Connection
Headliners: The Maldives, Hey Marseille, Mad Rad, Black Mountain
Who You Should See: All the above
Headliners: Gym Class Heroes, Paramore, 3OH!3, Against Me!
Who You Should See: Yelawolf, Grieves and Budo
Headliners: Flowmotion, ALO, THe Everyone Orchestra
Who You Should See: Clinton Fearon & The Boogie Brown, Particle
Headliners: Metric, Weezer, John Butler Trio, Major Lazer
Who You Should See: Major Lazer, (my review of their set at Sasquatch here) Girl Talk, Dubtribe Soundsystem
Headliners: Wiz Khalifa, Hall & Oates, The Presidents Of The United States of America, Ray LaMontagne & the Pariah Dogs
Who You Should See: DåM-FunK + Master Blazter, Toro Y Moi, Phantogram, Shabazz Palaces, Com Truise, Dom, Beat Connection
Headliners: Kaskade, Rusko, Pretty Lights
Who You Should See: Besides the headliners, Nero, Chad Hugo, Holy Ghost!
Headliners: Band Of Horses, Butthole Surfers, Explosions In The Sky
Who You Should See: MSTRKRFT, The Gaslamp Killer, Blitzen Trapper, Twin Sister
Sunday morning I woke up to a call from my mother who immediately began to excitedly tell me every detail of the quarter final game in the women’s soccer World Cup between two of the favored teams and serial rivals, the United States and Brazil. Luckily for me, ESPN re-aired the game later that night and as an avid soccer spectator and longtime player, this was one of the most amazing games I have ever seen. As many of the players and commentators suggested, it felt like a match at the end of an inspirational sports movie. It was a close game that included a red card to the U.S., numerous fouls, a 30-minute overtime in which the U.S. scored a goal in the last two minutes, and a tense shoot out which resulted in the U.S. continuing on to the semi-final against France. Check out U.S. forward Abby Wambach’s amazing goal in the 122nd minute.
While this game gained reasonable media coverage for the women’s World Cup there has been very little coverage or discussion of the women’s tournament especially when thinking back to and comparing how much publicity the men’s World Cup received two years ago. These women are amazing athletes who deserve both support and media coverage, so watch their next game against France on Sunday at 9 AM!
Here at the Bus, we're big fans of Planned Parenthood (video evidence here). Planned Parenthood is a great organization that ensures that as many people as possible—especially working women—have access to family planning, crisis counseling, birth control, and other reproductive health services. That's why we were really worried when federal funding for Planned Parenthood - 1/3 of the organization's budget - was in serious jeopardy during the seemingly endless budget deal this spring.
I'm in favor of maintaining Planned Parenthood's funding mostly because it is a social justice organization that does incredible things for lots of folks affordably. Many people rely on Planned Parenthood for access to prenatal care, birth control, and a bunch of other really important things.
Those programs were seriously at risk when the House voted to eliminate Planned Parenthood's funding in March. Much of the reasoning behind defunding PP was based around concerns over federal funding of abortion. This, however, ignored the fact that no federal money can be used to pay for an abortion procedure—a condition that Planned Parenthood observes scrupulously.
For many people, Planned Parenthood is one of the only places where you can get scientific information about all kinds of reproductive health and family planning issues. In fact, family planning is Planned Parenthood's main focus: only about 3% of Planned Parenthood's resources go towards abortions. The other 97% of services that Planned Parenthood provides are education and healthcare for folks who need it.
Despite Planned Parenthood's broad mission and studious compliance with funding rules, there are a lot of folks who associate Planned Parenthood with abortions, and abortions only. That segment of the Republican-controlled House made defunding Planned Parenthood one of their priorities for the Congressional session. What's remarkable, though, is that they managed to make their legislative priority one of the more prominent issues of a Congressional session: the anti-Planned Parenthood crowd was effective enough to make the attacks on Planned Parenthood come from the entire Republican party, not just the one wing.
The current House Republican caucus has many deeply conservative first-term representatives who don't have much regard for longtime consensus. This means many programs that have long received broad-based support now face intense challenges.
Federal funding for Planned Parenthood is safe for now—especially in Washington, where Planned Parenthood has effective advocates and highly-placed champions—but this dust-up is indicative of the current national political scene. With the deficit in mind, every major program that receives public funding is coming under increased scrutiny on the state and federal level.
In 2009, the Bus threw a little thing called Candidate Survivor, a Seattle City Council forum that just so happened to be the largest in the history of Washington State.
Well it's 2011, and HOLY CRAP. It's back. And it's better than ever.
Candidate Survivor takes the best parts of a city council candidate forum (smarts, people power, a smorgasbord of candidates) and adds that zesty brand of Bus flavor complete with a talent show, dance parties, and the outside chance of a candidate human pyramid.
It's young people (you + your friends!), in a club (Neumos!), wielding Real Ultimate Power. Yes, you read that right - that means you'll be voting, via the magic of text messaging (technology!) to decide which candidate will be the survivor in each race.
Yes it's free, yes it's all ages, and yes you're going to be there.
Candidate Survivor is your best opportunity to have Seattle City Council candidates meet you on your turf and speak to the issues you care about. Behold the facts below and RSVP today:
Wednesday July 27th
Doors at 7, program begins at 8pm
Neumos (925 E. Pike St.)
Free, all ages (bar with ID)
-Courtesy of 2011 summer fellow Leah "Neko Case is a Fox" Menzer
Class is in session.* Today we’re going to learn why we shouldn’t judge books by their covers/people by their exteriors/plays by their posters.
When you first see this poster you might think: “oh hey, is this a brother/sister-buddy-steamtrunk comedy from the people who brought us Marmaduke?” You might also read the title and think “oh gee willikers, this is really long and written in a 'fun' font and has at least one ethnic-ish name in it. I wonder if the play will deal with Muslim-American relations in a light-hearted yet impactful way!” (Now you might actually be thinking, "I’ve never actually thought about any poster that much and your poster obsession is making me uncomfortable.”)
Put Aside These Thoughts.**
Pilgrims Sheri and Musa in the New World is showing at the ACT Theatre downtown. Despite its preposterous*** problems, this is a play you want to see. I admit I would have never gone if The Stranger had not compared it to Annie Hall. It has awkward romantic entanglements, “adult language,” and sharpity-sharp dialogue. You will learn new snappy insults and you will find new sappy parts of your heart. You will even learn about Muslim-American relations, if by relations you mean relations. It is a world-premiere play, which is basically the same thing as seeing a hip band before your friends know about them. It will cost $5 if you are a teen, and $15 if you are a student. This is cheaper than seeing Cars 2 in 3-D again.
If this is not enough for you, I leave you with the immortal words of some lady I eavesdropped outside the theatre… “I am certain I saw some breasts.”
-courtesy of summer fellow Paris "Are You Awesome?" Randall
Hope your weekend rocked! Ours sure did. The Bus hit Seattle hard, getting young people all over the city to register and pledge to vote. Here’s a little time capsule of our hard work.
Friday: Wild Wild West
The West Seattle Summer Fest is a huge 3-day street fair thrown every summer in the Junction, where merchants sell amazing food, local stores go all out, bands rock it out, and where you might just run into a friend or two. We saw the community come together as we hit California Ave with conviction, getting 60 PTV’s (pledges to vote if you ain’t with the times), and registering 23 new voters. It’s also worth mentioning that the view from West Seattle heading north on the Viaduct is breathtaking, making way for great conversations with strangers.
Saturday: They Want Your Booty
Saturday we headed back to West Seattle, this time to the gorgeous Alki Beach. The event was the Pirate’s Landing, where the Seafair Pirates come from oceans far away to bring excitement, toys, and maybe even a little scurvy (aarrrgh) to everyone gathered at this awesome event. With people of all ages surrounding us and a plethora of little buccaneers to give stickers away to, we collected 34 PTVs and registered 6 new voters at the beach. Hot sun, hot bodies, and a cool crowd made this a splendid adventure. The one and only Pirate Vote Bot made a special appearance as well.
Elsewhere in the International District (Chinatown), the rest of us were gathered at Dragon Fest. This is an event where traditional dance, art, music, food and love come to the forefront for a great display of cultural practice. The young and old alike joined us here in our mission to encourage the power of voting. We collected 30 additional pledges and got 10 more Washingtonians registered to vote! A flash mob appeared (shufflin’), and thus, the day was done.
Sunday: “Then Why Don’t I Just Roll?”
It was a very lovely Sunday at Seattle Center. Our first target was the Urban Craft Uprising at the Exhibition Hall, where all types of crazy arts, crafts, and other forms of expression were presented and sold. It was shocking to see so many 18-29 year olds there, and even more shocking that so many were down to pledge and register! With VoteBot by our side, we hit the Uprising like it owed us money. Lots of old friends passed through, lots of new friends were made, and we were able to collect a Busload of pledges and regs.
But wait, there’s more! The Rat City Rollergirls Championship Bout was under way at the Key Arena! With such a long line anticipating the girl on girl carnage, we figured, “Why not canvas?” So canvas we did, eventually leaving Seattle Center with 66 pledges and 8 new registered voters.
The Ballard Seafood Fest was also on and popping that Sunday. It was a gathering full of fish, seafood, elderly folks, youngsters, music, and that unforgettable ocean aroma. Combined with a return trip to Dragon Fest, another 33 pledges + 8 registrations came in on the side. Go Bus!
Total: 232 Pledges to Vote + 58 NEW Registered Voters for the weekend. Shazam!
In closing, while the weekend left us thirsty, sun burnt, and a little seasick, we were blown away by how many people support the Bus. The dryness of our throats was overshadowed by the fullness our souls, brimming with accomplishment and a sense of victory. It was a great weekend for all of us, and for those who got to take Vote Bot home (in all of its sexiness), well, they got a little something extra. Fin.
Stella Liebeck’s infamous lawsuit against McDonalds Corporation has become a punch line of sorts. In the 19 years since a civil jury awarded the woman more than $2.7 million in damages, it has been used as evidence of a system run amok with those who seek “jackpot justice”.
Everyone knows the tale: a woman driving a car while drinking a McDonald’s coffee managed to spill it, and sued McDonalds for making the beverage too hot.
But that’s not quite the whole story, claims a new documentary film. Did you know that the woman “driving” the car was not, in fact, driving? (She was 79 years old, sitting in a stationary car). Or that she received third-degree (full thickness burns) over 8% of her body? Or that McDonalds had a policy of running their coffee machines 10 degrees hotter than the area average?
“Hot Coffee”, currently showing on HBO, paints a picture of a concerted effort to discredit the last even playing field the American consumer has in government: the civil justice system. It debunks the myths surrounding the Liebeck case and showcases how corporate influences are distorting the truth to escape retribution.
The film’s overall target: recent corporate-sponsored efforts to advocate for “tort reform”. In brief, advocates of tort reform believe that civil suits should have caps on monetary awards and certain other restrictions. They argue that by reducing the incentive to file frivolous claims, the government would allow business interests to operate smoothly without fear of undeserved punishment. Yet, as “Hot Coffee” attempts to show, these policies do as much harm as they do good.
One of the most damning examples used in “Hot Coffee” is that of Caps on Damages – where the maximum reward a plaintiff can ever receive is set at a concrete amount. Yes, it is true that less people will file groundless lawsuits if the payoff is lower, but such a policy hurts those who have legitimate claims even more. Take the film’s example of a Nebraska woman whose negligent obstetrician caused her son to develop severe brain damage. After a jury determined that the child would need $5.6 million to support him in his life, a state law capping damages reduced the award to under $1.7 million.
Some critics (here I am using Forbes as an example) have challenged the film, claiming that it uses narrow examples and calling it “propaganda”. Though I must admit that a few of the challenges have merit, in many cases Forbes’ complaints are narrower and more misleading than the film ever is.
For example, Forbes claims that the use of the Nebraska woman is misleading, because Nebraska is one of only a few states that caps total damages. (Many other states have caps on non-economic, or punitive damages). In this case, it is necessary to see the wider context of the film and the issue as a whole. Yes, it is true that Nebraska is part of a small club (which also includes Colorado, Louisiana, and Virginia), but the film uses the example as a cautionary tale; approximately 19 million people are currently affected by these laws. Even if caps on total damages don’t apply to the nation as a whole, it’s important to understand how damaging they can be.
“Hot Coffee” also chronicles the case of Ms. Jamie Leigh Jones, a former employee of Halliburton subsidiary KBR. After her alleged rape while she was stationed in Iraq, Jones sought legal action against KBR for certain negligent practices. However, a clause in her contract prevented her from gaining access to a trial by jury; instead, she would have to submit to mandatory arbitration, a process in which the ultimate decision rests in a body chosen by the defendant.
The only counter Forbes can produce against Jones is that arbitration is usually used in financial rather than criminal issues. Though this – again - is technically true, it is misleading. The fact is that mandatory arbitration is unfair for plaintiffs regardless of the type of claim. Much like judges in the nineteenth century who were paid $10 for returning a fugitive slave to their owner and only $5 for freeing them, arbitrators have a financial incentive to rule in favor of the defendant companies who hired them -they want repeat business.
Forbes also attacks the case of Mississippi Supreme Court Justice Oliver Diaz, who won a judicial election despite a huge amount of pro-tort-reform money going to support his opponent, and then faced election fraud charges which “Hot Coffee” claims were politically motivated. Balking at the example, Forbes says that prosecutorial bias is impossible because “the case was brought by a federal prosecutor”. An article from Harper’s, however, says that “the Diaz case reflects another astonishing example of highly partisan justice–timed, presented and calculated to boost the electoral prospects of Haley Barbour.”
Some of Forbes’ claims are more reasonable; the film never explains whether McDonalds reducing their coffee temperature would have prevented Ms. Liebeck’s burns, and the reference to the 700 cases of coffee-temperature complaints McDonalds received over 10 years becomes less damning when you realize that the company sold over 10 billion cups of coffee during that period.
“Hot Coffee” is an intriguing, if a bit biased, exploration of the issue. Though it uses some admittedly stilted examples, the film makes some excellent points about the nature of our political system, and opens up a necessary debate. Something can be learned from its faults as well; it’s just as important to critically examine the beliefs we hold as it is to examine those with which we disagree.