Friday, October 26, 2012

The Political Desk: State Legislature

Let me tell you something about the Washington State Legislature. It is triple-A ball. The minor leagues. The governmental equivalent of the QA department. It has a lot of gifted amateurs and first-time politicians with potential. And that's a very good thing.

Our state legislature is a part-time operation. It is not continually in session. The pay is respectable but modest (about 42k). As a result, it attracts people starting out, those who have a passion for governance, people with day jobs. This is a place where you have firemen, local council members, real estate agents, writers, florists, and others who are help running the state as a side job. Some are professional politicians  Many are not. Experience is preferred but not necessary. This is the entry-level job, where you get the experience.

And as a result, we tend to have a responsive legislature which is in contact with its constituency. And I'm good with that.

So, for the 11th District, here are my recommendations:

State Senate - Bob Hasegawa. Mr Hasegawa is an upgrade from Rep to Senator (he even just made a slight modification to his yard signs - thrifty!). He's in the department of experienced, and worth going up to the Senate.

State Representative, Position 1 - Jim Flynn. Allow me my pure personal preference on this. Both Jim Flynn and fellow Democrat Zack Hudgins are in favor of reforming our state budgetary mess by ditching our state sales tax and creating a state income tax, but Flynn is REALLY in favor, making it the centerpiece of his campaign. I'm always saying this would be a good thing, and this is a place to put my money where my mouth is.

State Representative  Postion 2 - Steve Berquist. Mr. Berquist wasn't even on my radar in the primaries, but his message is that if we're going to deciding education issues in the legislature, it makes sense to have at least one teacher present. He's right. And keeping with what I said above, the State Legislature is a great place for people to turn interest into concrete results.

So, having dealt with that, let me take a couple more swings at the Seattle Times. Here are their recommendations, written before they shredded their rep by paying for ads. Those ads which, by their own analysis, are not completely true. Go read it.

Their endorsements are Thomsen, Hudgins, and Berquist. That's cool - they have their opinions. But their logic is tortured to the point that we should bring in UN Observers.

Hasegawa is bad, apparently, because he opposed five bills the Times liked, and supports a progressive income tax, and his opponent, though lacking experience, is more in line with what they want. And that's OK, it is their editorial page. But then they note that Zack Hudgins ALSO opposed the bills that Hasegawa opposed, AND supports progressive income tax, but they're endorsing him anyway because his opponent is even more committed to a progressive income tax. So Hudgins is ... OK, even though he believes the same thing as Hasegawa? And while Hasegawa's opponent is OK despite a lack of experience, Bergquist's opponent is not OK because of a lack of experience.

I've read this a couple times, and it makes my head hurt with every iteration. I mean, it's their editorial page, and they are free to promote as they see fit. But if you can't maintain consistency of thought through a single article, you've got some problems going on. Were it a hardcore conservative (or progressive) screed, I could understand it, but the reasons given in paragraph five are completely subverted in paragraph seven. Do they not see the problems? Did three different people write this? Did the board provide a list of names and expect the writer to come up with something? Were they celebrating the passage of I-502 a WEE bit too early?

I mean, I expect this sort of thing from the Stranger, but not from a paper that purports itself to be Seattle's paper of record.

Next up, Law and Order (and I try to stop being such a hard-ass on the Times)