Saturday, October 25, 2003

The Blog Goes Ever On and On

So when I was let go from the company, I stated the figure that was given to me at the time – we were laying off 23 people. Now that the survivors have picked through the debris, I understand that the number is closer to 16 – still a nasty chunk of talent to pry away from any small company, but less than the original figure. The larger number may have included contract workers, people from our office in Ohio, or just a plain misstatement from management at the time (it was a rather hectic day, and none of us were really counting). But as near as I can figure out – its 16 from the Bellevue office.

Anyway, unemployed life remains a jumble – it’s the disorganization of it all that really wears on you. I’m charging down a number of avenues at once, and I can’t let afford to let anything just hang until later. So my day is a mix of contacts, sending out resumes, filling out forms, small work, and rattling doors. So here are the bad things about being on the outside:
• Saturday is just another day.
• I miss the goldfish crackers in the break room (though my waistline doesn’t)
• I miss the people – I am a social creature, and as I said, we had a good group of people. Freelancing is lonely work.
On the other hand:
• Plenty of sunlight
• Long walks in the middle of the afternoon
• Nature - Watching the neighborhood cat stake out the bird feeder, and watching a Stellar’s Jay planting a nut in my window box.

Small victories, indeed, but ones that are appreciated.

Gotta go rattle some doors. More later.

Heavey Weather

So back to the local stuff. The political campaign in our neck of the woods has been rather quiet since the primary, but is now heating up again. I have yet to see any mailers, but I expect to see them in the near future.

(For those who don't want to dig through the Archives for the "Friends of Mr. Fortunato" sections posted earlier - here's the short version. I live in the 9th disctrict of King County, which occupies the southeast corner of the county. The previous office holder for the County council, Kent Pullen(R), passed on in office. Enumclaw minister Steve Hammond was appointed as interim office-holder, over two other Republicans, who challenged him in a rancorous primary. Now Hammond faces Barbara Heavey in the main election in a couple weeks).

The 9th is an interesting combo of rural areas and spreading suburbs – our chunk of the district is a gooseneck that spreads up towards the city along Benson Hill, which until about ten years ago was mostly farmland and a smattering of older house – now its malls and an ever-increasing amount of development. Development is heading up the list of issues on the docket. Hammond is pro-property rights and pro-development, Heavey comes out of the Department of Development and Environmental Services and pushes a more moderate agenda. Hammond’s push is very much “It’s your land, you should do what you want with it.” Not surprisingly, he’s getting a lot of support from developer interests who want to do things with your land. Most of said developers are not based in the 9th itself.

Heavey, on the other hand, comes out of the very bureaucracy that oversees and controls that development, and believes that growth has to be managed. She’s more flexible on land use, without throwing open the doors. She also recognizes that a lot of the restrictions on land use come from state and national requirements as opposed to county, and knows where to push. The weird thing is – Hammond’s approach plays well in those part of the territory were the inhabitants want to leave – selling their farms and large lots to developers to put up malls and insta-housing. Heavey’s stand plays well with anyone who has been living here a couple years and suddenly discovers that the big field down the block is going to become 64 new neighbors (needless to say, there are a lot more Heavey yard signs in our neighborhood). I don’t know if a voting base that wants to leave town is the best group of voters to be appealing to.

So the developers are pushing Hammond, while Heavey is getting support from “traditional” Dem groups – unions, lawyers, as well a good chunk from her immediate family (her publicly-disclosed files show a lot of “Heaveys” contributing, particularly in the primary). Both candidates have the roughly the same amount of cash – in the high 40’s.

The way the world normally works, Hammond should benefit from being the incumbent, and is still playing the “I was chosen by your former leader” card whenever he can. However, the Seattle Times just made its recommendation – for Heavey. More telling, it chose Heavey because it thought she was the more experienced of the two candidates. When you’re the incumbent, and the newspapers say that the other guy has more experience for your job, you’ve got a problem.

Which begs the question – Yeah, Steve Hammond has been in office only a few months, but what has he done in those few months? Has he moved forward on reducing regulation, or at least putting the pieces together? He’s attached his name to a proposal to reduce the number of districts on the council from 13 to 9, but a lot of folk are wondering if that will result not in less government, but the same amount of government with less public access, oversight, and representation? I still think Hammond benefits from incumbency (and though its tough to run against big government when you ARE the government, enough sound bites can distract folk from the obvious), and his message should play better as he moves south and east. We shall see.

More later,